Sivut kuvina
PDF
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

o; has been drawn from authentic and unpublished § manuscripts, from the original printed authorities in " succession, and the editions of the Scriptures themselves. It will be found to contain the historic Annals of the English Bible, viewed in contrast or connexion with national affairs; including Memoirs of Tyndale, his contemporaries and successors; the first introduction of the Sacred Volume, as printed in the native language, into England, Scotland, and America; the earliest triumphs of Divine Truth, and its progress down to the present day; the imperative obligations of British Christians in such extraordinary possession of the Word of God. In the literature of this country, although it has been so often felt and regretted, a more observable deficiency does not exist, than that of there being no history of the English Bible. It may have been imagined, that such a narrative could embrace no heart-stirring incidents, or incidents laid as the foundation of a great design, mo frequent peril of life, no hair-breadth escapes, nor, especially, any of those transactions in which the vital interests of this nation have been involved. No mistake could have been greater, but whatever has been the cause, the defect is notorious. The people of every city alike, have never been informed, at what time, and in what a singular manner, their ancestors first received the oracles of God, as printed on the continent for their benefit. As for their subsequent prevalence and effects, these form a vein of British history which has never been explored. V() [.. I. b

[graphic]

The Sacred Volume, indeed, carries internal evidence of its divine origin, and that in abundance; but still, with reference to the Bible now being used daily, and read so long, throughout this kingdom, no questions can be more natural than these—When was this volume first translated from the origimal, and put into print: Who was the man that laboured night and day to accomplish this Like his Divine Master, was he betrayed unto death If so, who betrayed him : What became of his betrayers? Or, was there any one man who befriended him, in his last days, or final trial? And since all this, and much more, did take place abroad; in the first transmission, in the secret and singular conveyance of the heavenly treasure to our shores, what were the distinct tokens of a superintending Providence to be observed and adored ? What were the notable circumstances connected with its earliest triumphs over the prejudice and passion of our common nature? Or, in short, how has this Sacred Volume, revised, and re-revised, after three hundred years, come down into our hands? And yet, up to the present moment, should any individual throughout this country apply to his Christian teacher, or any child to his Parent, and put these and other deeply interesting questions, no definite answer can be returned ; nor is there a single publication, which, if it lead not astray, will not leave the inquisitive reader nearly as far from satisfaction as when he began. If a Translator, in whose train all others have followed, must be allowed to rank far above all mere Reformers, it is strange if, on such a subject, historians generally should have slumbered or slept ; yet the histories of Halle and Foxe, of Stowe and Strype, of Burnet and Collier, of Turner and Lingard, or Soame, as well as the history of Translations by Lewis, Herbert, or Dibdin, with the Biblical literature of Townley, of Cotton, or of Horne, may all be read, and they must be, when such a period is explored; but from all these sources put together, still the reader can form no conception of what actually took place, with regard to the Scriptures. The incidental circumstances mentioned are not only few in number, but scarcely one of them appears in its true light or appropriate connexion. Many, and by far the most curious and productive incidents, have remained in utter oblivion. After reading, in succession, even all these works, no one

PREFACE. vii

can possess any adequate or correct idea of that mighty phalanx of talent, policy, and power, so firmly arrayed against the introduction of divine truth in our native tongue into this Kingdom; and consequently no reader has ever had before him the most powerful display, in comparatively modern times, of the irresistible energy of the Divine Word. This remark applies with equal force to Scotland, of which nothing has hitherto been known, as it does to England, of which there has been known so little, and that so incorrectly narrated. This energy, too, in both countries, having been exhibited at a period when the truth was unbefriended by a single human being, in office, may, when the judges and rulers of the land were up in arms, or raging against it; the detail, if justice could be done to it, must form one of the most curious and impressive, if not the most valuable chapters in British history. The times changed indeed, and have often changed since, and yet, it is presumed, no reader will find the story begin to droop in point of interest; much less forfeit its peculiar character, as an undertaking of Divine Providence, down to the present hour. Certain portentous signs, unexpectedly marking our own day, and at which not a few have been startled, very powerfully invite the general mind to the sacred text, in its allsufficiency, by itself alone, or to “the Bible without note and comment.” But without even glancing at these here, to the Sacred Volume, in our native tongue, considered simply in the light of a printed book, there happily belong two peculiarities, more than sufficient to fix the mind, with intense interest, on its origin and history. These are the number of its copies, and the eatent to which it is now in perusal. Neither the one, nor the other, has yet been rendered so palpable, as to engage the notice they deserve, and which they will, at last, certainly secure. After the commencement of the present century, when attention was awakened to the obligation imposed on this country, of giving the Sacred Volume to all nations, or of attempting to do so; with regard to the Scriptures in our own English, it was even then asserted, that the number of copies already in existence, was greater than that in all other languages put together. The number, at all events, had passed beyond human calculation, while every one agreed that other

« EdellinenJatka »