Page images

England. The opinions formed of this translation by the most eminent critics is astonishingly different and contradictory; for whilst its elegance, perspicuity, and fidelity, are extolled in the highest terms of approbation by some, it is regarded by others as affected, impious, injudicious and effeminate. His chief errors appear to have arisen from an imprudent attempt at a Ciceronian style, and the rejection and indelicate translation of Solomon's Song. To the canonical books he added the APOCRYPHA; and to connect the Old Testament with the New, inserted two Supplements, abridged from Josephus ; the one after the fourth book of Esdras, and the other at the end of the Maccabees.29 The best edition is said to be that of 1573.

CASTALIO was also the author of a FRENCH translation of the Bible, printed at Basil, 1555, fol. This version, which was dedicated to Henry II. king of France, is said to be a literal translation of his Latin one, and has therefore the same defects, the same affectation, and the same use of uncommon expressions. It is accompanied with short Critical Notes, which are placed at the end, and are designed to explain the obscurities of the text.30

SEBASTIAN CASTALIO, or, according to the French, CHASTILLON, was born in 1515, in Dauphiny, according to some authors, but according to others, in Savoy. Of his early life, we have but little information. During the residence of Calvin at Strasburg, he formed a friendship for Castalio which induced him afterwards to invite him to Geneva,where he obtained for him a regent's place in the college. After Castalio had continued in the office nearly three years, he was dismissed from it, in 1544, in consequence, according to some, of the peculiar opinions (29) Le Long, I. pp. 291–293.

Geddes's Prospectus, pp. 76, 77,

Clarke's Bibliog, Dict. I. p. 206. (30) Le Long, I, p. 346.

Simon, Hist. Crit. du V, T.-liv, 2, ch. xv. p. 390.

which he held respecting Solomon's Song, and Christ's descent into hell; but according to Mosheim, principally because he did not approve of the doctrine of absolute and unconditional predestination. The magistrates of Basil received the ingenious exile, and gave him the Greek professorship in their university. The virulence of his opponents pursued him to his retreat, by calumnious and unreasonable accusations. One story, circulated by his former associates, was that of yielding to dishonest practices; and particularly accused him of stealing wood. From this aspersion he defended himself, by the simple relation of a fact, that must interest every feeling heart. When the rivers overflow, they frequently carry down pieces of wood, which any one may lawfully get and keep for his own use: on one of these occasions, Castalio, who was extremely poor, and had a wife and eight children, caught some of the wood thus floating upon the Rhine, which was the only ground for the ungenerous calumny of his enemies !

Castalio's learning has been highly extolled. His great acquirements as an Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholar, have been acknowledged even by his opponents. In 1546, he published a translation of the Sibylline verses into Latin heroic verse; and in 1548, be printed a Greek poem on the Life of John the Baptist, and a paraphrase on the prophecy of Jonah, in Latin verse. He also translated some passages of Homer, and some books of Xenophon, and St. Cyril; and turned into Latin several treatises of the famous Ochinus. In hiş Notes on the Books of Moses, he advanced some singular notions, as for instance, that the bodies of malefactors ought not to be left on the gibbets; and that they onght not to be punished with death, but with slavery; offering as his reason for his opinions, that the political laws of Moses bind all nations. “His Notes on the Epistle to the Romans were condemned by the church of Basil, because they opposed the doctrine of predestination and efficacious grace.” He died of the plague at Basil, in great poverty, December 29th, 1563.31

The extraordinary attention paid to the dispersion of the Scriptures in the vernacular tongue, by the Protestants of Geneva, may be seen by the following statement of editions of the Holy Scriptures, published in the French language, from 1550 to 1600 inclusive, taken from Le Long's Bibliotheca Sacra, tom. I.- viz. 98 editions of the whole Bible in French; of which 79 were editions of the Genevan translation, or printed at Geneva; the other 19 were printed at different places, and included the versions of Benoist, Le Fevre, the Louvain doctors, &c.—59 editions of the New Testament, of which 35 were either impressions of the Genevan translation, or printed at Geneva; and only 24 remaining for the various versions printed at other places.-20 editions of the Psalms, some of them with Latin versions; of which 8 were either printed at Geneva, or were of the Genevan version; and 12 printed at different places, and by various authors.-12 editions of particular books of Canonical or Apocryphal Scriptures; of which 3 were printed at Geneva; and 9 at other places; amounting in the whole to 189 editions of the whole or parts of the Sacred Scriptures.

Thus out of 157 editions of the entire BIBLE or New Testament, printed in the French language in 50 years, 104 editions were printed at Geneva, or the Genevan version, leaving only 43 editions for all other Protestant as well as Catholic impressions; and out of 32 editions of the Psalms, and other select portions of the Scriptures, and Apocrypha, 11 were printed at Geneva, or were of the Genevan translation.

The principles of the Reformation having been early

(31) Chalmers' Gen. Biog. Dict. VIII. pp. 393-395.

Bibliotheques Francoises, II, pp. 402, 403.

embraced by the Helvetic cantons, and the neighbouring countries, the mountaineers of such of the Alpine mountains as were included in the Grison or Rhætian republic, were favoured with the New Testament, in their native tongue, in 1560, in an octavo form, by Jacobus BIFFRUN, a Protestant citizen of the valley of Engadine, with prefaces by the translator, and Philip Gallicius ; and the Epistle of Erasmus, in the Romanese or Grison dialect.**

A valuable English translation of the New TestaMENT was also published at Geneva, in 1557, by the learned ministers who fled from England during the reign of the bigoted and merciless Mary; but before we enter upon the particular examination of their version, it will be proper to attend to the progress of Biblical knowledge in England, previous to their exile from their native country.

In January, 1547, EDWARD VI. succeeded to the English throne, on the death of his father, Henry VIII. The piety, learning, and talents of the young prince afforded every promise of the complete establishment of the Reformation in England, but though the hopes of the reformers were greatly disappointed by his premature death, yet, during the short time that he swayed the sceptre, various acts and events of importance and interest occurred. Soon after his accession, he repealed the statutes which prohibited the translation and reading of the Scripture. Injunctions were also issued and sent into every part of the kingdom, enjoining, “that within three months, a Bible of the largest volume, in English; and within twelve months, Erasmus's Paraphrase of the Gospels; should be provided and set up in some convenient place in every church, where the parishioners might most commodiously resort, the charges of which books should be borne, one half by the parson, or approprietary, and the other half by the parishioners." It appears also, from the injunctions, that there were Readers, who (32) Le Long, I, p. 369, et Index Auctor. p. 546.

were “authorised and licensed to read any part of the Bible, so set up in churches, either in Latin or English, who were not to be discouraged by the clergy, and whom the people were to be exhorted to hear quietly, without reasoning, or contention.” It was likewise ordered by these injunctions, that “every parson, vicar, curate, chantery priest, and stipendiary, being under the degree of a bachelor of divinity, should have of his own the New Testament, both in Latin and English,with the Paraphrase of Erasmus upon it ; and that the bishops, &c. in their synods, or visitations, should examine them how they had profited in the study of the Holy Scriptures.” It was further appointed, that “the Epistle and Gospel of the mass should be read in English ; and that on every sunday and holiday, one chapter of the New Testament should be plainly and distinctly read at matins, and one chapter of the Old Testament at even-song.” But afterwards, in the year 1549, when the Book of Common Prayer was finished, what nearly resembles our present custom, was enjoined, that, "after reading the Psalms in order, at morning and evening prayer, two lessons, the first from the Old Testament, and the second from the New, should be read distinctly with a loud voice.” In the preface to the same Book of Common Prayer, it is observed, that “curates will need no other books for their public service, but this book and the Bible, by which means, the people will not be at so great charges for books as in time past;' and by the act of uniformity, 2, 3, Edw. VI. it was enacted, “that the books concerning the said services, should be gotten at the cost and charge of the parishioners," whereas before, the parson, or impropriator, was to be at half the expense.

It seems likewise that Texts of Scripture were written on the walls of the churches, in English, particularly those sentences which were most opposite to the tenets of the Romish church. Gregory Martin, one of the trang

« PreviousContinue »