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tain the religion of Jesus. They treated with the utmost insolence and contempt all the different orders of the priesthood; they affirmed, without a blush, that the true method of obtaining salvation was revealed to them alone ; proclaimed with ostentation the superior efficacy
and virtue of their indulgences; and vaunted beyond • measure their interest at the court of heaven, and their
familiar connexions with the Supreme Being, the Virgin Mary, and the saints in glory. By these impious wiles they so deluded and captivated the miserable, and blinded the multitude, that they would not intrust any other but the Mendicants with the care of their souls. They retained their credit and influence to such a degree towards the close of the fourteenth century, that great numbers of both sexes, some in health, others in a state of infirmity, others at the point of death, earnestly desired to be admitted into the Mendicant order, which they looked upon as a sure and infallible method of rendering heaven propitious. Many made it an essential part of their last wills, that their bodies after death should be wrapped in old ragged Dominican or Franciscan habits, and interred among the Mendicants. For such was
the barbarous superstition and wretched ignorance of this age, that people universally believed they should readily obtain mercy from Christ at the day of judgment, if they appeared before his tribunal associated with the Mendicant friars,
About this time, however, they fell under an univer. sal odium ; but being resolutely protected against all opposition, whether open or secret, by the popes, who regarded them as their best friends and inost effectual supports, they suffered little or nothing froin the efforts of their numerous adversaries. In the fifteenth century, besides their arrogarice, which was excessive, a quar. relsome and litigious spirit prevailed among them, and drew upon them justly the displeasure and indignation of many. By affording refuge at this time to the Beguins in their order, they became offensive to the bishops, and were hereby involved in difficulties and perplexities of various kinds, They lost their credit
in the sixteenth century by their rustic impudence, their ridiculous superstitions, their ignorance, cruelty, and brutish manners. They discovered the most barbarous aversion to the arts and sciences, and expressed a like abhorrence of certain eminent and learned men, who endeavoured to open the paths of science to the pursuits of the studious youth, recommended the culture of the mind, and attacked the barbarism of the age in their writings and discourses. Their general character, together with other circumstances, concurred to render a reformation desirable, and to accomplish this happy event.
Among the number of Mendicants are also ranked the Capuchins, Recollects, Minims, and others, who are branches or derivations from the former.
Buchanan tells us, the Mendicants in Scotland, under an appearance of beggary, lived a very luxurious life; whence one wittily called them, not Mendicunt, but Manducant friars.
-Buck's Theological Dictionary.
47. JOHN WICKLIFFE, THE FIRST ENGLISH REFORMER.
This famous man was born in Yorkshire, in 1324. He was professor of divinity at Oxford for many years. England, at this time, was completely under the papal dominion. The pure gospel of Christ was almost wholly buried beneath the load of errors and deceits which the corruption, pride, and ignorance of the pope and Romish clergy had introduced. The country swarmed with the Mendicant orders; who, invading the universities, attempted to persuade the students to join their fraternity. This state of things at length aroused the indignation of Wickliffe, who had for a long time been much concerned on its account; and he commenced writing against the Mendicant orders, and even against the tyranny of the pope ; denying his power to be beyond that of any bishop, and asserting that the bread and wine used in the sacrament was not turned into the real body and blood of
Christ. He declared the gospel to be a sufficient rule of life, without any other; that if a man was truly penitent towards God, it was sufficient, without making a confession to the priests ; that friars (an order in the Romish church, who supported themselves by begging) should labour for their support; and that Christ never meant his word to be locked up in a learned language, which the poor could not understand; but that it was to be read and understood by all classes of men. He therefore translated the whole Bible into the English language, and circulated it abroad; which was read, and by it very many were made wise unto sal. vation.
These new doctrines greatly enraged the bishops, monks, and priests; who summoned him to
before them in St. Paul's church, London, to answer for his conduct. On the appointed day, he went, accompanied by the duke of Lancaster, and others; and it was with great difficulty they could gain an entrance, on account of the vast crowds that had assembled to hear the trial. Just as the trial commenced, a violent quarrel arose between the duke and bishop of London, as to whether Wickliffe should be permitted to sit down. One angry word led to another, till at length both parties became so furious, that a riot ensued, and the assembly broke up. By this means he escaped the malicious intentions of his enemies. In the mean time his followers increased greatly. Again he was apprehended; but so many persons interested themselves in his favour, that he was released, with a charge to preach no more. This charge did not quench his zeal, or daunt him in the least.
Some time after this, his enemies succeeded in having a law passed, the object of which was to imprison him and his followers; this was the beginning of a violent persecution, which was carried on against him without mercy.
His latter days were spentin peace. He died at Lutterworth, 1385. So great was the malice of his ene mies, that forty years after his death, they dug up his
bones, burned them, and threw the ashes into the river.
His doctrines, however, were not to be destroyed; and all the combined efforts of his enemies could not crush his followers ; and although some were burnt, and others barbarously tortured and imprisoned, still others arose who bore decided testimony to the truth.
He was the author of a great number of books, tracts, &c., some of which were dispersed into Germany and Bohemia, thus preparing the way for that glorious reformation of religion afterwards effected by Martin Luther; in consequence of which, Wickliffe is often called “ the morning star of the Reformation."
48. TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE INTO THE ENGLISH
The first English Bible we read of was that trans- . lated by J. Wickliffe, about the year 1360, but never printed; though there are manuscript copies of it in several public libraries. The first printed Bible in our language was that translated by W. Lindal, assisted by Miles Coverdale, printed abroad in 1526; but most of the copies were bought up and burnt by bishop Tunstal and sir Thomas Moore. It contained only the New Testament, and was revised and republished by the same persons in 1530.
After this, several translations were made—such as Mathews' Bible, in 1537, being published by John Rogers, under the borrowed name of John Mathews; Cranmer's Bible, in 1540, having been examined and prefaced by archbishop Cranmer; Geneva Bible, so called from having been printed in Geneva, which was the first English Bible where any distinction of verses was made ; and the bishops' Bible, so termed from several bishops having been employed in the translation of it. After the translations of the Bible by the bishops, two other private versions had been made of the New Testament; the first by Lawrence Thompson, from
Beza's Latin edition, with the notes of Beza, published in 1582, in quarto, and afterwards in 1589, varying very little from the Geneva Bible; the second, by the papists at Rheims, in 1584, called the Rhemish Bible, or Rhemish translation.
In consequence of dissatisfaction with those translations, king James I. selected fifty-four persons, eminent in learning, and perticularly well acquainted with the original languages in which the Old and New Testaments were written, to make a new translation of the whole Bible. In the year 1607, forty-seven of those persons (the other seven having probably died) assembled together and arranged themselves into committees, to each of which a portion was given to .translate. They were favoured not only with the best translations, but with the most accurate copies, and the various readings of the original text. After about three years' assiduous labour, they severally completed the parts assigned them. They then met together, and while one read the translation newly formed, the rest had each a copy of the original text in his hand, or some one of the ancient versions; and when any difficulty occurred they stopped, till, by common consultation, it was determined what was most agreeable to the inspired original. This translation was first published A. D. 1613, and is the one that has been, ever since that time, printed by public authority, and the same now in common use.
The following is a specimen of Wickliffe's New Testament, in the old English of his time :* Matth. x. 25, 26. In thilke tyme Jhesus answeride
& seid, I knowleche to thee, Fadir, Lord of Hevene & of earthe, for thou hast hid these thingis fro wise men and redy, & hast schewid hem to littl children.
So, Fadir; for so it was plesynge to fore thee. * John X. 26-30. Ye beleven not, for ye ben not of
my scheep. My scheep heren my vois, and I knowe hem, and thei suen me. And I gyve to hem everlastynge life, & tbei schulen not perische, withouten