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of the American Bible Society, appointed, a few years since, to make a rigid examination into the matter. In their report they speak of the variations between different copies, and then say: "It is also found that these variations pertain only to unimportant particulars; such as capital letters, commas, italic words, etc., not affecting the sense. This investigation of the Board has placed that incomparable translation of king James on higher ground in their estimation than ever; and their hope is, that every friend of divine truth, using the English tongue, will seek to guard that translation, in future, from all emendations."
How infinite is the debt of gratitude which the world owes to its Maker for the Bible! And scarcely less is its debt to his goodness, in raising up competent instruments for its translation. into different tongues, in which its treasures have been unlocked to enrich the nations. This matter is finely touched by Dr. Field, a divine of the seventeenth century, in whose writings that unequalled critic, S. T. Coleridge, was wont to take a deep and admiring delight. "That most excellent light of Christian wisdom, revealed in the sacred books of the Divine Oracles, is incomparable and peerless, as whereupon all others do depend; the bright beams of which heavenly light do shew unto us the ready way to eternal happiness, amidst the sundry turnings and dangerous windings of this life. And lest either the strangeness of the language wherein these Holy Books were written, or the deepness of the mysteries or the multiplicity of hidden senses contained in them, should any way hinder us from the clear view and perfect beholding of the heavenly brightness; God hath called and assembled into his church out of all the nations of the world, and out of all people that dwell under the arch of heaven, men abounding in all secular learning and knowledge, and filled with the understanding of holy things, which might turn these Scriptures and Books of God into the tongues of every nation; and might unseal this Book so fast clasped and sealed, and manifest and open the mysteries therein contained, not only by lively voice, but by writings to be carried down to all posterities. From hence, as from the pleasant and fruitful fields watered with the silver dew of Hermon, the people of God are nourished with all saving food. Hence the thirst of languishing souls is restinguished, as from the most pure fountains of living water, and the everlasting rivers of Paradise."
THE MONKS AND THE BIBLE.
A FEW years since, an aged friend was clearing out the garret of her house, which had been occupied by her family for nearly a century. In the heart of that "lumber-mountain" she found several Latin volumes, old, ragged, and worm-eaten. The good octogenarian lady, having had some sense of our antiquarian propensity, sent us the exhumed books, with some of the dust of oblivion still cleaving to them. They proved to be the Academia Peccatorum, or School for Sinners: being five volumes of sermons on the Parable of the Prodigal Son by father Philip Bozquier, an Observantine Minorite, alias a Franciscan friar, of Flanders, and printed at Mentz, the birth-place of the art of printing, in 1614.* These leathery veterans were placed upon the shelf with some of their cotemporaries, from whence they were frequently taken down, for the sake of the amusement afforded by the monkish absurdities with which they are filled.
These volumes, which were to have been followed by a sixth, were originally written in French, and dedicated to Louis XIII.; and afterwards rendered into Latin by a very pious and pedantic translator, who could not endure that the work should be doomed to the comparative silence of a single tongue; but resolved that it should utter itself in the universal speech, and rumble round the globe in orotund Latinity. It has several pages of anagrams and acrostics on Bosquier's illustrious name, with abundance of hexameters and pentameters, from sundry learned divines, by way of flourish of trumpets, to announce to the universe what a mighty book is coming. But for all that, and though a bookseller's advertising leaf at the end of one of the volumes, describes quite a number of different works by the same author, we are sorry to be unable to give any further account of him; having consulted several biographical dictionaries, and bibliographical works, without finding any trace of his name or fame.
These volumes abound in quotations, which evince the ample reading and learning of the author; and, in many passages, breathe
Academia Peccatorum, Seu Conciones de tota Parabola Prodigi Evangelici. Authore R. P. F. Philippo Boskiero Cæsarimontano. Francisc. Observ. Prov. Flandriæ. Ad Ludovicum XIII. Franciæ et Navarræ Regem Christianissimum. Moguntime, Sumptibus Joannis Crithii. Anno. M. D. CXIV.
a spirit of ardent devotion. But open them where you will, you are quite sure to stumble on something which will make it difficult for you, in Sancho's phrase, "to maintain your gravity and beard." Thus, in discoursing upon the alleged duty of auricular confession, he whimsically vents his spleen against the advice of Luther, that if we feel ourselves constrained to disburden our laboring consciences to a confiding ear, we should not run to a crafty priest, who will make his gains by his knowledge of our secrets; but rather go to some bosom-friend, and especially to our wife, if we are so happy as to have a good one. This last proposition sadly scandalizes our worthy Franciscan. He argues against it on various grounds; but chiefly on the consideration that these "weaker vessels" are very leaky withal. In proof of this he cites Alphonso of Castile, Democritus, Pliny, Juvenal, Aristotle, Plutarch, and many others. He even draws on some antiquated Joe Miller; and gives us the good old story of the notary who began an instrument with the words; "Know one woman by these presents," because, if one woman knows it, all men will. He brings in also the merry cobbler who, before going to the confessional, always strapped his "rib," because she was sure under the operation to cast all his misdeeds in his teeth, thereby refreshing his poor memory for the task before him. Father Bosquier tells his sober hearers, that the reason why the angels first disclosed the resurrection of the Lord to the women, rather than to the apostles, was that the tidings might be spread more rapidly! He says, that the women gabble all day long; that the tongue is the liveliest member about them; that three of them are enough to fill a market-place with their clamor; and that they are more vocal than the seven-fold echo of Porticus, or the twelve-fold reverberation at Charenton. He asks triumphantly if our secret sins would not be in awful danger of exposure if trusted to such keeping. Besides, he says, the creatures are jealous as old Argus, and will magnify a fly into an elephant, and multiply two or three peccadilloes into fifty. Confess to your wife that you have stolen one poor kiss elsewhere, and she will at once suspect you of a thousand. On the other hand, the jolly son of Saint Francis thinks that the women would fare as poorly, in some respects, if they were to make father-confessors of their husbands; as the certain result would be the destruction of all conjugal confidence, and the turning of the earthly paradise of matrimony into a hell
of jealousies. Besides this, the difficulty of confession would be greatly enhanced. Even now, when made to a priest under the inviolable seal of silence, so sacred that they are never known to break it even when drunk, confession is made so reluctantly, that it takes, as you may say, four horses to drag a penitent to it, and every word must be wrenched from his jaws as with forceps before he will come out with the whole story. But if men must confess to their wives, and their wives to them, gramercy! what could constrain them to it? If the matrimonial state were to be thus encumbered, hardly any would consent to enter it. But if any should ask, Why priests should know all the arcana of either sex, while the laics may know nothing in that way concerning the priests? our fine old friar replies, let us hope very devoutly: How should I know, except that it is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes!
As a sample of the good man's theological faculty, we give the following, though with some reluctance, on account of the sacredness of the subject. Speaking of the resemblance between the soul and God, he says, We represent an essence, one in substance but trinal in persons. For, though our soul is one in substance, nevertheless it contains three within itself, -the understanding, the will, and the memory. And as the Son is generated from the Father, so is the will from the understanding; and as the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son, so the memory originates from the understanding and the will; these thus succeeding in the order of nature, but existing together in the order of time. Moreover as the Father is God, and likewise the Son and the Holy Ghost, and nevertheless are not three Gods, but one God in three persons; so the understanding is the soul, and likewise the will is the soul, and so also is the memory; and yet there are not three souls in one man, but one soul with three potencies.
As a specimen of Bosquier's pathetic rhetoric, we offer the close of the fifth sermon of the third volume. After a long argumentation, he concludes that the swine which the prodigal fed are the heretics, who indeed want nothing but bristles and pig's chops to complete the resemblance. "And who," he asks, "is their keeper, but Luther, supplying them with garbage fitted to their tastes? He is both a swineherd and himself a swine; a swine in life and manners, and a swineherd on account of his doctrine and
example. A horrid monster, portended, as I opine, by that which was born of a cow not far from Wittemberg, at the same time with Luther, having a bald head surrounded with a monastic cowl." Here follow some rabid verses on this portentous birth, from John Cochilæus, which we forbear to quote. The horrified friar then goes on: "O dearly beloved, will ye ever become heretics, and be swine under such a swineherd? Or will ye rather remain Catholics, and be the sheep of Christ? And ye heretics! will ye always be such, and never return to the ancient faith? Will ye imitate Gryllus, the companion of Ulysses, who, fascinated by Circe, and changed into a swine, refused to resume the human form; and extolling that beastly condition, endeavors to persuade Ulysses and the rest to become swinish as himself? O that it were possible for me, by importunity, to extort from God your conversion, as formerly Ulysses obtained from Circe, the restoration of his companions to the human form! I doubt not but the first human voice you could utter would be a thanksgiving; as was the case with the companions of Ulysses. I should deem myself, like Ulysses, to have gained immortal renown, if I could bring back my countrymen, as he did the Greeks, from being swine to be men. But if that noble metamorphosis of the heretics may not proceed from me, I may at least preserve you, beloved Catholics, from becoming such as they. May I be to you what Mercury was to Ulysses! Let me present you as the Moly, or amulet against that incantation, the white flower of the Catholic faith. And if I shall be unable to reduce the erring to that faith, I may be able by the flower of this discourse to preserve you, who are not as yet transmuted into hogs, so that ye may ever be human and rational in life and manners. Amen and Amen."
It is not merely for amusement, that we have brought forward this excellent Observantine brother and a few of his pleasant peculiarities. But because, after some examination of other sermons by preaching friars, we think him to be a very fair representative of that class in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. By his leave, however, the porkers were not all penned up in Luther's sty; that is, if we may believe Erasmus, who says, in his nine hundred and twenty-first epistle, of his friend Henkel, that he had refused the episcopate, "nevertheless," adds that noted old wag, "as the affairs of mortals now stand, it is better even to be a swineherd than to be one of the swine."