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dying prayer was so far answered. Coverdale eventually became Bishop of Exeter; and, after a life of strange vicissitudes, died peacefully in a ripe old age.
We have not space for the history of what is called "Cranmer's Bible," which was first published in 1539; and which was, for the most part, the work of worthy Coverdale. At the close of the reign of Edward VI., it is computed that there were considerably more than a hundred thousand copies of English Bibles and Testaments in use. Very many of these vanished out of sight in the bloody and burning time of his sister and successor, the melancholy Mary; who, in four years, consumed at the stake two hundred and seventy-seven victims to popery.
During this frightful period, many pious exiles sought a refuge at Geneva. There, having the help of good old Coverdale, they prepared with great care, and published, an English Testament in 1557; and the whole Bible in 1560. This, for more than fifty years, was the popular Bible, and at least six editions were printed, even after king James's translation had made its appearance. Some copies are in constant use and preference to the present day.
When Elizabeth mounted the throne, the Bibles which had disappeared under the cruelties of her sister, came back again. Under the auspices of the "throned vestal," her archbishop Parker, in 1568, brought out what is known as the "Bishops' Bible," having been prepared for the press by some half score prelates and two or three cathedral clergymen. This was, for forty-three years, the "authorized version," and was used in the churches to the exclusion of all others. Still the " Geneva Bible" had the preference for private use; as indeed it deserved, being much the better of the two.
When James I. succeeded to the kingdom, in 1603, they who desired a thorough reformation in the Church of England, and against whom the terrible Queen Elizabeth had ever" erected her lion-port," now indulged high hopes of obtaining their desires. His presbyterian education, and the hypocritical professions he had made with the real Stuart perfidy, had raised their expecta tions only to dash them more violently to earth. He soon gave them to understand, that, in his view, " presbytery and monarchy agreed together as well as God and the devil:" and proclaimed his famous maxim of king-craft, "No bishop, no king!" As he
entered his English realm, he received a petition, which was called the "millenary petition," because it purported to run in the name of above a thousand ministers, though the exact number of signers is not known. This petition craved the reformation of sundry abuses in the national church, relating to its worship, ministry, revenues and discipline. The universities uttered their remonstrances against the petition; but the king, who was eminently qualified to perform the part of the chief character in "the royal game of Goose," undertook to settle the business at a conference between the opposing parties, at which he was to moderate and decide. Accordingly he summoned a conference at Hampton Court, on the 12th of January, 1604. He called the archbishop of Canterbury, with several other prelates and church dignitaries on the one side; and on the other, to represent the Puritans, he called four divines of note. It soon became manifest, that the only object of the meeting was to give the king an opportunity to declare his bitter hostility to the Puritans, who were brow-beaten, insulted, and trampled upon by the monarch and his ghostly minions. The friends of the truth were confuted, "as bitter bishop Bale" said on another occasion," with seven solid arguments, thus reckoned up, Authority, Violence, Craft, Fraud, Intimidation, Terror and Tyranny."*
One good result, however, came from this "mock conference," as it was usually called by the oppressed Puritans. Among other of their demands, Dr. Reynolds who was "the chief speaker" in their behalf, requested that there might be a new translation of the Bible. This was the only request of theirs, which the petulant king condescended to grant; though his motive in granting was very different from theirs in asking. They wished to supersede the "Bishops' Bible," which was alone authorized to be read in churches; he wished to displace the "Geneva Bible," which was in far greater demand for private use. Thus God causes the conflicting counter-currents of men's purposes to combine into the one resistless stream of his own eternal decree.
It has been remarked of this "British Solomon," as he has been called, whether in irony or flattery, "that he never said a foolish thing, and never did a wise one." Whatever may be
* In the nervous Latin of the crabbed bishop of Ossory, the arguments run thus: Authoritate, Vi, Arte, Fraude, Metu, Terrore et Tyrannide.
thought of the wisdom of his sayings, we must amend the assertion as to his doings, so that it shall read: "He never did a wise thing except by mistake." His determination in the instance under consideration was certainly one of his happiest blunders, and is almost the only act of his life which does not merit utter ridicule and contempt.
The English translations, then commonly used, were good, and very good. But that which was made under the king's sanction, was much better. It was made at a fortunate time. The English language had passed through many and great changes, and had at last reached the very height of its purity and vigor. The Bible has ever since been the grand English classic. It continues to be the noblest monument of the power of the English speech, the pattern and standard of excellence therein, the most full and refreshing of all the "wells of English undefiled." It has given a fixed character to our language. It is as intelligible now as when it was first imprinted; and will be as easily understood by the readers of coming centuries, as by those of the present. It is remarkably free from what used to be called "ink-horn terms," that is, such words as are more used in writing than in speaking, and which are not well understood except by scholars. "In the church among the congregation," says Luther, "we ought to speak as we use at home, in the house, the plain mother tongue, which every one understandeth and is acquainted withal." That king James's translators wisely and piously adhered to the language of the cottage and the market-place, appears by what Thomas Fuller wrote of Nottinghamshire in 1662: "The language of the common people is generally the best of any shire in England. A proof whereof, when a boy, I received from a handlaboring man therein, which since hath convinced my judgment. 'We speak, I believe,' said he, as good English as any shire in England; because, though in the singing Psalms some words are used, to make the metre, unknown to us, yet the last translation of the Bible, which, no doubt, was done by those learned men in the best English, agreeth perfectly with the common speech of our county." Thus we come to have a version of the Scriptures as easy of comprehension as the nature of the subjects will admit. It is the most precious boon possessed by the vast masses, whom it addresses in their own tongue wherein they were born. Well did the Translators' Preface rejoice in God's sacred word as "that inestimVOL. II.
able treasure which excelleth all the riches of the earth! And well was it said of them, by that same Thomas Fuller: "These, with Jacob, rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well of life, Genesis xxix. 10; so that now even Rachels, weak women, may freely come, both to drink themselves, and water the flocks of their families at the same."
But were those ancient scholars competent to make their translation as correct as it is plain? Here again we may say, that, by the providence of God, they did their work in a fortunate time. For not only had the English language ripened to its full maturity, but the study of Greek, and of the oriental tongues, had then been carried to a greater extent than ever before or since. This particular field of learning has never been so highly cultivated among English scholars, as at that day. To evince this fact, we shall undertake, so far as the limits of this periodical will admit, to sketch the characters and scholarship of those men, who have made all coming ages their debtors. And we shall confidently expect, that, when our pleasing task is done, our readers will agree with us in the conviction, that all the colleges of Great Britain and America, could not, no, not even in this our boastful day,— bring together the same number of divines equally qualified by learning and piety for the great undertakimg. Few, indeed, are the living names, which, in these respects, are worthy to be enrolled with those mighty men. It would be impossible to convene a body of translators on whom the Christian public would bestow such confidence as is reposed upon that illustrious company; or who would prove themselves as worthy of such confidence. All the "Improved Versions" of the Bible, or of any parts of it, which have since appeared, have been doomed by the religious public to utter indifference and neglect. Not that we claim absolute perfection for the common English Bible. We are not perfectionists enough even for that! But this blessed book is so complete and exact, that the unlearned reader, being of common intelligence, may enjoy the delightful assurance that, if he study it in faith and prayer, and give himself up to its teachings, he shall never be confounded or misled. It will as surely guide him into all things needful to life and salvation, as would the original Scriptures, if he could read them in the Hebrew and Greek of inspiration, or if they could speak to him as at first to the Jew in Jerusalem, or to the Greek at Corinth. Nor would we disparage the great benefits of
possessing a critical knowledge of the original tongues. while a good translation is the best commentary on the original Scriptures, the originals themselves are the best commentary on the translation. A passage, which is obscure in the translation, often becomes very plain when we refer to the original, because we then distinctly see what it was that the translators meant to say. To one who can understand both, the original must, in the nature of the case, always be the easier of the two; just as it is easier for a man to walk by the sight of his own eyes, than by the guidance of another. What we maintain is simply, that the common English reader enjoys, by the good providence of God, that which comes the nearest to the privileges of the scholar; and has a translation so exact, plain and trust-worthy, that he may follow it with implicit confidence as "a light to his feet and a lamp to his paths," which will not lead him astray.
King James appointed fifty-four learned men to undertake this great and good work. As the list of names contains but fortyseven, and as none of these were at that time bishops, it is proba ble that the other seven were bishops; for it is certain that the king intended that some of that order should have a sort of superintendence of the work; and it is also certain that Archbishop Bancroft and Bishop Bilson, at least, had considerable to do with the final revision. Order was also taken, that the bishops, in their several dioceses, should find what learned men there were who might be able to assist; and the bishops were to write to them, earnestly charging them, at the king's desire, to send in their suggestions and observations, that so, as his Majesty says, "our said intended translation may have the help and furtherance of all our principal learned men within this our kingdom."
Seventeen of the translators were to meet at Westminster, fifteen at Cambridge, and as many at Oxford. Meeting at these three places, they were divided at each place into two companies; so that there were in all six separate companies of translators. They received a set of rules for their direction. The first instructed them to make the "Bishops' Bible," the basis of their work, altering it only so far as the originals required. This was a good plan, as it combined the advantages of a new translation with those of a thorough revision of an old and approved one. In the result, however, the new version agreed much more with the Genevan, than with any other. The second rule discouraged any