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THE ENGLISH BIBLE:
Ets Story of Struggle and Triumph.
N preparing fresh papers on a subject
II. MSS. translations up to 1450 A.D. IN
which has already been the theme of III. Translations printed from 1450 to 1803. many able and learned writers, the STORY OF IV. Translations made since the estaTHE ENGLISH BIBLE, it would be presump-blishment of the British and Foreign Bible tuous to suppose much now remains to be Society in 1803; which Society has also reexplored, though there is always a generation printed the Bibles circulated in the three growing up around us, to whom it needs to former ages, and now issues annually about be afresh presented, especially in times like four millions of copies, as many as were supthese, when every energy of the age seems to posed to exist in the whole world when the have arranged itself either for or against the Society arose. Bible, and when much of the reverence that The ages of MSS. extend from Moses, who used to enshrine it, even for those who knew died 1451 years before Christ, to the time of but little of its contents, is almost a relic of the first Bible printed in LATIN by Gutenthe past.
burg 1450 years after Christ, i.e. 2900 years. Perhaps, also, every writer to whom the The equal division of this total will make it Bible becomes a chief object of loving study easy to be remembered. and holy research, by aid and direction from By the end of the sixteenth century, transthe Holy Spirit whose office it is to shed lations of large portions, if not of the whole, of light upon those Divine records for all the Old and New Testaments had been made humble and seeking souls, may hope, each in in fourteen languages; seven of them for his measure, to receive power to impress Europe, four for Asia, and three for Africa; different classes of minds, not only with the and some interesting circumstance that is facts of the outward Story, but to attract worthy of remembrance attaches to them fresh searchers towards the Holy Book itself, all. by which, to those who know how to seek it, The two ages of MSS., comprising nearly its own grand story is, after all, best told. 3,000 years, have been succeeded by more
Of course it concerns every well-informed than 400 years of PRINTED BIBLEs multiplied person in England, whether young or old, to without end. know the history of this book as it came into It is recorded in the able Introduction to a his own land and language, and the rather Catalogue of Holy Scriptures, exhibited at because our nation, more than any other, has the late most interesting CAXTON CELEBRAsince been used of God to spread it through Tion of the fourth centenary of the first book the world.
printed at Westminster, that the first book During this last nineteenth century we printed in England was not a Bible.* In his English have become more known as “The Golden Legend,” Caxton printed in 1483 PEOPLE OF THE BOOK” than any other in English nearly the whole of the Pentapeople, except the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, who teuch and a great part of the Gospels, under were its first inspired writers and treasurers in the guise of lives of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Hebrew, their own tongue, and for whom, and the Apostles, but“ they were mingled with and probably by whom, its first translation much priestly gloss and dross that, though prointo GREEK was made, at Alexandria, in bably read in churches, they were never reEgypt, 277 years before Christ. This trans- cognised as Holy Scripture;" and the presses lation was called the Septuagint.
of Caxton and his successors did not feed In the Bible LIBRARY OF THE WORLD, we “Scripture-hungry England” with the word must look first for the written rolls, which of life till they had been fifty years in operawere the great roots of all other translations, tion. They printed what was likely to sell in and the writing would be in narrow columns peace—for the governing powers then taught on thick brown skins of leather, such as you ignorance as the peculiar birthright of the may find in the library of the British people, and a few years later a priest at St. Museum.
Paul's Cross uttered the memorable words, This Library of Bibles has four ages, two of manuscript and two of printed BiblesI. Hebrew and Greek MSS. B.C.
• His first book printed in England was the “Dictes," and
notable wise sayings of the Philosophers, printed 1477. VII. N.S.
“We must root out printing, or printing will Well indeed might she ponder, when, root us out.” So, alas ! ENGLAND waited for after that, He followed her and was subject the printed English Scriptures till the broad to her in their Nazareth home, unknown to daylight of the Reformation, in the second all but His parents and fellow-villagers for quarter of the sixteenth century, long after eighteen quiet years ! until the time that He they were familiar to the Germans, the Ita- was manifested, that He might destroy the lians, the Dutch, and the Bohemians. works of the devil. The commission He
But we do not wish to press on too fast to gave to His disciples was to follow in His wards the times of the PRINTED Bible for steps—they were to heal the sick, to raise England; there are a good many things to the dead, and to cast out devils in His name, be noticed first that concern the manuscript as a witness to the truth they preached. ages.
When the Gospels afterwards reached our We have probably a very imperfect idea of country in an Anglo-Saxon dress, “the name how far and how early the message of salva- of the Saviour as Hoelend, THE HEALER, tion by Christ went forth by means of His must have come home with a thrill to many living epistles—by the voices of those who souls." had seen that of which they bore witness, As our specific aim is to tell the story of while all the world could have disputed it if THE BIBLE FOR ENGLAND, the question again it had not been true. This had singular arises, How did it find its first access to our weight and power, and it is written that shores? before the conversion of the Apostle Paul, By way of answering this question, suppose while he was making havoc of the early we fix our attention on some particular spot Church, and scattering it abroad from Jeru- in our islands, and allow the Divine Book to salem, “ therefore” its members “went every measure the era of its own history in that where preaching the word” (Acts viii. 4); locality. Let us take, for instance, therefore, also, they must have possessed some portion of it to preach. The Gospels BRISTOL IN THE AGES WITHOUT THE BIBLE. and EPISTLES were not yet written, but
BRISTOL—the Bristol of two ousand those who had been waiting for the consola- years ago—HEAThen and without the Word; tion of Israel must have possessed, no doubt, Then, Bristol in the times of the early at least portions of their Hebrew Bibles in British Church and Anglo-Saxon age; the form of written rolls, carefully copied and
BRISTOL as submissive to the power of highly prized--the Bible as it was used by Rome; and our Lord Jesus Himself. The Old TESTA- Bristol at the era of the Reformation; MENT was His Bible. How, then, shall any
BRISTOL also since the existence of the dare to speak of it as a book that is “worn Bible Society. This will afford opportunity out,” and “has had its day," when He made to mark the rise of our national greatness as it the text of His teaching to His disciples at coincident with the distribution of the Divine Emmaus, and had said that He had not word. come to destroy the law or the prophets, but In old Welsh chronicles mention is made in every jot and tittle to fulfil their words? of an inhabited place, corresponding in situa(Matt. v. 18.)
tion with Bristol, by the name of “ Caer Odor He was the man of that One Book. “It is nant y Badd,” which means “the City of the written,” was His only reply to Satan in the Chasm, in the Valley of the Baths," and Temptation; “ It is written of me,” His con- which had been founded, B.C. 441, by Dvyntinual teaching to His disciples, who were wal Moelmud, one of the three national the witnesses inspired to record His sayings. pillars of the Isle of Britain, so called because And if to them He opened the Scriptures, he reduced to a system the laws, customs, can we suppose that His lips would have and privileges of the southern tribes. This been sealed to His dear mother, "pondering hero seems to be likewise remembered on in her heart” from the day the precious babe the Malvern Hills, which take their present lay in the manger, sought of the shepherds, name from the pure British word, “Moel y and owned of the angels; and afresh when yarn,” which signifies “high court, or seat of she herself “sought Him sorrowing," absent judgment.” from her in the Temple, and answering her The Triads, or wise sayings of Moelmud, in a way that neither she nor Joseph could are many. They speak of three common understand ?
rights of a neighbourhood-a large river, a “Wist ye not that I must be about my high-road, and a place of meeting for religious Father's business ? "
adoration; of three privileged persons in a family to be exempt from manual labour- of remarkable events, and to excite the chiefs the infant, the aged, and the family teacher, and people to deeds of courage in days of who are not to bear arms, attend to the cattle, battle. One thing that Cæsar says of the or cultivate the soil; of three family arts-- Gallic Druids is, that they used Greek letters agriculture, the management of a dairy, and in their secular transactions, and had the the art of weaving. The chief of the tribe is management of the education of youth. to insist that these are duly taught, and to It appears that Ireland, too, had its avouch for their being so in the assembly for Druidical teachers in very early days; and as religious adoration.
the Welsh have their Triads, Ireland has its Here in a few lines we are taken back to “Annals of the Four Masters," which speak the village life of our forefathers—their habits of Ollamh Fodhla, a famous legislator or and their reverence for their Druidical or- king of Ulster, several centuries before the dinances. They had a place for worship, Christian era. His historic fame has been and were amenable to laws and boundaries. recognised by the placing of his medallion, Bare-headed and lightly clothed, and unequal with that of Moses and other great lawgivers, therefore in close combat to the helmeted on the interior of the dome of the Four Courts and armour-clad Romans, they had “hearts in Dublin, where it may be seen at this day. of oak” to repel the incursions of hostile To purge the records of his kingdom, tribes of their own order; and they did offer this Ollamh summoned his nobility, Druids, such resistance to Julius Cæsar when he poets, and historians to meet him once every landed with an invading army at Deal fifty- three years at TARA, to revise the laws and five years before Christ, that so far from con- history as occasion required. They kept quering Britain at that time, although he had guard over the antiquities of the kingdom, subdued the Swiss, the Germans, the Belgæ, cast out false representations, and inscribed and the Gauls, and had even overcome the the true in the national chronicles called Britons in several battles, he afterwards “ The Psalter of Tara” (a very Israelitish retreated of his own accord, and our island practice). Keating declares that this triennial was then left unnoticed by the Romans for parliament held its sittings till the time of St. almost one hundred years.
Patrick, and that ten such annalists were in Cæsar speaks of the people as a motley attendance on most noble families. What population preying upon each other, fierce the Magi and the Chaldees were to Babylon and savage as the wilds in which they dwelt, and Persia, the Druids seem to have been to dependent for existence on their flocks and the Celtic populations of our isles. They herds, or the spoils of war and the chase. were the priestly class. The Romans called He announced that there was neither gold them “barbarians,” because they called all nor silver in the island, nor any hope of barbarians except themselves and the Greeks, bringing back plunder, unless it might be and even the Persians and the Jews were slaves; that the country was little better than to them barbarians in the times of the a wilderness, had neither roads nor canals, apostles. and was so thickly wooded that there was These Romans, who scorned the simplicity but small space for cultivation.
of the Britons, and left them unheeded for Cæsar, however, had not explored the ninety years after their first incursion, returned whole island. Nor was he likely to realise to their own luxurious city on the seven
what was the aspect of the country when at hills, which, in the time of Nero, A.D. 59-68, || peace. He speaks most of the cruelty of the contained 3,000,000 of people, and 400 idol
Druids, and of their human sacrifices. He temples. At patrician tables were found saw that THEY chiefly incited the people costly delicacies of all countries, and the deagainst him; but yet in his Commentaries hecorations of their furniture were of gold, silver, gives a rather lofty notion of their acquire- and ivory. They had to bear, however, with ments. They instructed their pupils in the such governors as the mad Caligula, who movements of the heavenly bodies and the had old and infirm people thrown to feed grandeur of the universe, they measured the wild beasts, to clear the State, as he said, of i earth and the stars, and must have understood useless encumbrance; who loved to see men both mathematics and mechanics, judging expiring by slow tortures; and who profrom their monumental remains.
jected a colossal golden statue of himself to There were three classes of Druids : place in the Temple at Jerusalem. Con(1) lawgivers and judges; (2) sacrificers and spirators at last ended his wicked life, and diviners; (3) bards, whose duty it was to he died after thirty wounds, A.D. 61. preserve in verse the memory of heroes and Surely, in comparison with this Roman