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in Lambeth Library, wherein are contained fourteen Homilies, several other Treatises, the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, with large Explanations, in a Dialect very different from the old Saxon, but somewhat near to our present English, as it was spoken after the Norman
Invasion : And he looks upon those various Readings collected from ? four Manuscripts, which Spelman published with Alfred's Psalter, to be so many different Translations.
Bale, Script. Brit. cent. 2. C. 27. relates how King Athelftan caused the Holy Scriptures to be translated out of the Hebrew, into the English Saxon Tongue by certain Jews, who ('tis probable) had been converted to Christianity, and quotes Malmesbury for a Witness. This Archbishop Uber places to the Year 930.
Elfric or Elfred Abbot of Malmesbury, and afterwards Anno 995.' Archbishop of Canterbury, translated the Pentateuch, Fosbua, Judith, Part of the Books of Kings, Hefter, and Maccabees; he dyed 1006. He hath a Preface before the Book of Genesis, in which he answers that common Objection against translating the Scriptures, taken from the evil Ure unlearned and ignorant Persons may make of them. And
although the Latin Tongue was then generally used in Divine Offices, yet :. the Tyranny of the Romih Church had not then so far prevailed, as to 1 detain the People in a brutish Ignorance; but that the whole Order of
Divine Service might be understood by all, the Missal was published • with Latin on one side, and English (that is the Saxon) on the other, one of which is preserved in Ben'et College Library in Cambridge. The Five Books of Mofes, Joshua, Judges, of Elfric's Translation, Primate Uber tells us, are preserved in Cotton's Library; as there is also a Pfalter with several Hymns of the Old and New Testament, with the Apostles' and Athanafian Creed, with an English Interlineary Translation. The Book was written Anno 1049, as it is noted at the latter End of it.
Certainly, whatever the Romanists may imagine, the Translation of the Scriptures, and their Offices, were no less necessary to the Clergy, than the common People. The Priests Lips, fay they, should keep Knowledge, and the People should seek the Law at his Mouth ; depend upon him with an implicit Faith, and a blind Devotion : But what if the Priest neither understands the Scriptures nor his Prayers ? Then, if ever, the Blind leads the Blind. At this Time Learning was at a very low Ebb, as is manifeft from King Alfred's Letter to Bishop W'ulflig'in Mr. Wharton's Auctarium. Indeed (says he) Knowledge is so entirely vanished from the English, that there are very few of the Clergy on this Side of the Humber, that can either translate a piece of Latin, or so much as understand their common Prayers, so as to give the Meaning of them in their Mother Tongue. Nay, they were so few that he could not find one that could do it on the South of the Thames when he began to reign. And Matthew Paris in the Life of the Conqueror says, Clerici quoque & Ordinati adeo literatura carebant, 'uit cateris effent jupori, qui Grammaticam didicissent. To this Degree of Ignorance they were sunk, that the Latin was become an unintelligible Language.
Long before Wickliff's Translation fome Hundred Years, (as Tho. James conjectures, Cor. Fa. p. 225.) came forth a Tranllation of the
whole Bible in English, whereof they have three Copies in Oxford, one in the Publick Library, one in Christ Church Library, and the other in Queen's College. This Archbishop Ulher places to the Year 1290. Before it is a large Preface, and in it the 'Transator treats of the Authority and Use of the Holy Scriptures, reckons the Canonical Books according to the Hebrews; tells us how he had compared several Copies, consulted the Expositions of the Fathers, and the Glofies of Iearned Men ; recommends the Study of them to all, both Men and Women, to the Learned and Unlearned ; and laments the Obstinacy of the Clergy, in opposing it : He says, they dote that condemn the tranflating the Scriptures into the Mother Tongue, since they were written for our Learning, and Christ commanded that the Gospel should be preached to all Nations ; and there had been innumerable Translations made in most of the known Languages. This Translation Mr. Wherton in his Auclarium ab Anno 1290 believes to be erroneously adfcribed to Wickliff, in all the Manuscripts that he had seen, those Infcriptions, he judges, were after added by unwary Readers, who meeting with an anonymous Translation, immediately fathered it upon Wickliff, whose Name was famous amongst the English Interpreters; and rather thinks it belongs to Trevisa. About the Year 1340 Richard Hampole made an English Translation of the Psalms, and commenting upon those Words' of the Pfalmift, And take not the Word of thy Truth utterly out of my Nouth, Pfal. cxix. 43. declared his Judgment concern. ing the Neceflity of the Scriptures in the Vulgar Language.
Richard Fitz-Ralpli, commonly called Armachanus, is said to have transated the Bible into Irish : He was first Archdeacon of Litchfield, then made Chancellor of Oxford, and afterwards promoted to the Archbishoprick of Armagh in Ireland, Anno 1347, and died Anno 1360.
About the same Time Jokn Thursy Archbishop of York, a Prelate of great Piety and Learning, publithed a Manual in English for the Inthuction of his Diocese; it is an Exposition upon the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments ; wherein he condemns the Prelates and Clergy, who then began to withhold the Use of the Scriptures from the People. He died Anno 1373. .
John Treviso, Vicar of Berkley in Cornquoll, at the Desire of his Patron the Lord Berkley, translated the Old and New Testament into the English Tongue. This Archbishop Usher places to the Year 1360, but Mr. W karton, with better Reason, to 1387. This did not bring him under any Persecution ; for notwithstanding he lived almost Ninety
Y cars, we do not find him disturbed for any Singularities of Opinion, , as they were then counted. He died 1397.
God also stirred up blickliff to tranllate the same again out of the Lotin of St. Jerom, into the English of thote Times, about the Year 1380, the Saxon Tongue being not then commonly understood. He fet a large Preface before it, in which he reflected severely on the Cor. ruptions of the Roinish Clergy, and condemned the worshipping of Saints and Images, denied the Corporal Presence of Christ's Body in the Sacrament, and exhorted all People to the Study of the Scriptures. His Bible, with his Preface, was well received by a great many, who were led into thefe Opinions rather by the Impreilions which common Sense and plain Reason made on them, than by any deep Speculation or Study.
Wickliff, commonly called the Apostle of England, was one of the most eminent Divines of his Time, says Knighton, Professor of Divinity in Oxford, and preferred to the Wardenship of Canterbury College, by the Founder Archbishop Islip, but was afterwards turned out by Archbishop Langham, who also got an Order from King Richard the 2d. to the University to banish bim, which it complied with. Wickliff being thus perfecuted, and his Doctrines condemned by a Synod at London, went into Bohemia, but afterwards returned into England, and lived the Remainder of his Time, and died undisturbed at his Parish of Lutierworth in Leicestershire, Anno 1384. His Bones were dug up Forty Years after, and ordered to be burnt, by a Decree of the Council of Gone fiance, and his Ashes' cast into the next River Anno 1428, thinking thereby to damn and obliterate his Memory.
Against this Translation (after it had been ordered to be burnt) But. ler, a Franciscan, wrote his Treatise Anno 1401, wherein he alledges, that the promiscuous Use of the Scriptures hath been a great Occasion of Errors and Heresies, and therefore they ought to be withheld from the People. About the same Time one Sillby preached a Sermon at Paul's Cross before the Bishop of London on this Subject : He was opposed by some, who objected to him the Authority of many learned Men; among the rest of Hampole before mentioned. They also applied to him that Saying of St. Paul's to Elymas the Sorcerer, Aets xiii. 10. O full of Subtlety and all Mischief, thou Child of the Devil, thou Enemy of all Righiem ousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right Ways of the Lord ?
Fox, in his Preface before his Edition of the Saxon Gospels, printed Anno 1571, tells us; that in a Parliament in the Reign of Richard the 2d. a Bill was brought in for prohibiting all Bibles in the English Tongue, but was thrown out: John Duke of Lancaster, a Favourer of Wickliff, inveighed harply against it, saying, We will not be the Dregs (the Tail) of all Mankind, seeing other Nations have the Law of God (which is the Rule of our Faith) in their own Tongues; which (with an Oath) he said he would maintain against thote that brought in the Bill. Others added, that if the Gospel in the English was the Cause of Errors and Heresies in the World ; let them consider that there were more Hereticks amongst the Latins, than amongst those that used any other Translation, for the Popes Decrees reckon up Sixty-fix Hereticks that use the Larin. This Frimate Ujher places to the Year 1390.
Anno 1394, Ann Sister to Wenceslaus King of Bohemia, and Queen to Richard the 2d. King of England, died; it whose Funeral Thomas Arun. del, at that Time Archbishop of York, made her Funeral Oration; in this he especially comiended her, for that the, though a Foreigner, (a Bohemian) constantly studied ihe Four Gospels, which she read in the English Tongue, with some learned Comments thereon.
It seems there were then extant various Translations of the Bible, and that several others besides Wicklif had undertaken that Work. So then it is no Innovation to translate the Scriptures; and lets to suffer those Trapilations to be promiscuously read by all sorts of People. It · VOL. III.
was, was, we know, severely imputed to the Scribes and Pharisees by our Saviour, that they took from the People the Key of Knowledge, by their false Glosses and Interpretations, Luke xi. 52; but they never attempted what hath been since practised by the Church of Rome, to take away the Ark of the Testament itself, and cut off not only the Efficacy, but the very Possession of the Word of God from the People; as if they were so afraid they should understand them, that they dare not suffer them so much as to be acquainted with them. For in the Year 1407, says Archbishop Usher, 1406, says Archbishop Parker, 1408, says Line wood and Collier, Arundel Archbishop of Canterbury, in a Synod held at Oxford to give a Check to the Progress of the Lollards, decreed in these Words, Can. 7. It is a dangerous Thing, as St. Jerom asures us, 10 translate the Scriptures, it being very difficult in a Version to keep close to the Sense of the Inspired Writers; for by the Confefsion of the same Father, be had mistaken the Meaning of several Texts. We therefore constitute and ordain, that from hence-forward, no unauthorized Person hall translate any Part of Holy Scripture into English, or any other Language, under any Form of Book or Treatise; neither Mall any such Book, Treatise, or Verfion, made either in Wickliff's Time, or fince, or which hereafter shall be made, be read either in Whole or in Part, Publickly or Privately, under the Penalty of the Greater Excommunication, till the fud Translation mull be approved either by the Bifoop of the Diocese, or a Provincial Council, as Occasion Mall require. And whofoever fall do contrary hereunto, snall be punished as an Encourager of Herefies and Errors. Whereupon ensued grievous Persecutions.
The Words seem to intimate, that there were English Translations of the Bible more ancient than that of Wickliff, and that the Use of them had never been by any Law prohibited before. Gascoign in his Dictionary makes this Observation on the Manner of Arundel's Death; that he was seized with a Diftemper in his Tongue, so that he could neither swallow nor speak for some Days before he died, which many looked upon as a Judgment upon him for pot suffering the Scriptures to be read in his Time.
The reading of Wickliff's Translation was prohibited, as appears by this Canon, not simply as a Version in the Vulgar Tongue, but as disap. proved by the Church, because the Translator was not thought to have tendered the Original faithfully; and according to the full Import and true Meaning of the Text, or at least because it was not a Work of Authority, it being not thought convenient to allow every private Per. fon the Liberty of translating the Scriptures. Archbishop Arundel, one would think, could not be of Opinion that it was simply unlawful to render, or to read the Holy Scriptures in the Vulgar Tongue; because he had justly applauded Queen Ann for reading them (as was before observed) and in those very Constitutions which prohibit the reading of Wickliff's Books, or any other Version by Perfons unauthorized, it is declared this Prohibition thould only continue in force till such Translation should be approved by a Provincial Council, or the Bishop of the Diocese; which supposes in the Jadgment of that Prelate, there mighe be Reason why such Translation thould be approved, when faithfully done, and by Persons duly authorized to that End.
About this Time Pope Alexander the gth condemned all Translations
of the Scriptures in the Vulgar Tongue, of whom it was prophesied, that in the Year 1409 one should arise that should persecute the Gospel, Epistles, and Faith of Christ.
Stow records, that Reginald Peacock, Bishop of Chichester, spent many Years in translating the Scriptures into English, for which (amongst other Heretical Opinions) he was prosecuted by the Bishops, and deprived of his See Anno 1457. But Mr. Wharton in his Auctarium, p. 444. says, this is a manifest Mistake, whereas there is no Mention of any thing of this in the Catalogue of his Writings, published by himfelf a little before his Death. Neither doth any thing of this appear in the Articles exhibited against him, which would not have been omitted, it being a Crime condemned in the Synod at Oxford, in the Beginning of this Century, by Archbishop Arundel. Nevertheless he thought they ought to be translated for the Use of all, as appears from several Places in his Writings; that they are a Privilege and Right of every Mem. ber of the Christian Church, which cannot, without Impiety to God, and Injustice to it and them, be taken away and impeached, though some should make a wrong Ule of them; and exhorts all to the diligent Reading of them.
Men and Women were now frequently delated (amongst other Ar. ticles) for reading the New Testament in English, condemned by the Church, and delivered over to the Secular Magistrate to be punished. But this did not produce the desired Effeet. This Cruelty was looked on as an Evidence of a weak Cause ; this Method wrought only on People's Fears, and inade them more cautious and reserved, but did not at all work on their Reasons or Affections. The Corruptions of the Church of Rome in her Worship and Doctrine were such, that a very small Proportion of Common Sense, but with a transient Look on the New Tefiament, discovered them, and laid open the Impostures with which the World had been abused.
On the spreading of Luther's Doctrine in the Reign of King Henry the 8th, William Tyndal, alias Hickins, bred first in Oxford, then in Cambridge, being molested and vexed by the Romija Priests upon the Account of Religion, was forced to leave the Realm, and travelled into the farther Parts of Germany, where he conversed with Luther and other learned Men of those parts. After some Time he came down into the Netherlands, and fixed at intwerp; where, considering with himself how to reduce his Brethren and Country-men of England to the same State and Understanding of God's Holy Word and Truth, which the Lord had endued him withal, thought no Way or Means more likely to conduce thereunto, than if the Scriptures were translated into the Vulgar Tongue, that the poor People might also read and see the plain Word of God. Whereupon he began with the New Testament, and with the Help of one Yohn Fryth, translated it out of the Greek Origi. nal, Finilhed, Printed, and Published it; to which he added some short Gioffes. Frych was bred at Cambridge, where he made a considerable Proficiency in the Latin and Greck Languages. His Parts and Improvements made him taken Notice of by Cardinal Wolfey, who designed bion, with some other Perions of Eminence, for his new Foundation of Chrifi's Church in Oxford; but in July 1552, he was burnt in Smith