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66 The

were spoken with themselves, to know of them whether they would be set at liberty.

The last translation, in the reign of James, was the work of forty-seven learned men, resident at Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge, divided into six companies, and having select portions assigned them; the king drawing up directions for their all meeting to confer on any doubtful and difficult passage, and also sending a notification to all who were skilful in the tongues to send in their observations to the company. Bishops' Bible" was to be followed, principally, in the translation ; but the other translations, Tyndale's, Coverdale's, Matthew's, Whitchurch's, and Geneva, - when they agreed better with the text. This translation was begun in 1607, and completed 1611.

The division of the Bible into chapters was the work of Cardinal Hugo de Sacto Caro, in the thirteenth century, about the year 1250. The division of the New Testament into verses was made by Robert Stephens, a printer, 1551. He made this division, it is said, while he was travelling on the Continent, as the amusement of his leisure. A fact that has caused some comment: that so important a work should have been executed by a travelling printer; but it must ever be borne

* Bacon.

in mind that the early printers were men of erudition, and that the art of printing undoubtedly then ranked nearly on a level with the liberal professions, the greatest scholars thinking it no dishonour to be correctors of the press. The division of the Hebrew Bible into verses was made by Athias, a learned Jew of Amsterdam, in 1661. The Bible that was published in 1611 underwent a most rigid scrutiny and correction in 1769, and from this last corrected edition our ordinary modern Bible is taken.

Thus, at length, the great truth that Wickliffe had enunciated more than 240 years before, - that the Scriptures alone were the rule of faith, and that the people ought to have them, an opinion he maintained by diligently translating them; - at length this truth triumphed. The people of England had the Bible. The struggle had been long; and during the last sixty-six or seventy years,—that is, from the time that Henry put forth, and then withdrew, the Scriptures, the contest had been severe; but at length the victory was won. The progress of mind in every department of mental effort during that period of struggle, furnishes the most important and interesting section of our literary history,

CHAP. VI.

THE BIBLE. ITS LITERARY INFLUENCE.

The spiritual influence of the Bible is a theme so vast and various that the wisest might say,“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain unto it.” Its literary influence, however, can very distinctly be traced even in works of a general and popular character. It was not only the divine and the scholar that felt this influence, the rays of this divine light kindled the poet's mind. How could it be otherwise ? What were the epics of classic antiquity? The quarrels and battles of wrangling princes, and the interference of gods and goddesses all of whom were of the earth, earthy. What were the pastorals, the satires, the histories, the odes, the orations, of Greek and Latin writers when compared with the records of the Bible? Here were histories the most graphic and affecting, odes the most sublime, prophecies the most marvellous, epics the most perfect, pastorals the most lovely, biographies the most interesting, arguments the most powerful, sermons the most simple, speeches the most impressive, proverbs the most pithy, letters the most forcible:

every form of composition had here its accurate model.

The epic, in the book of Job.
The dramatic, in Esther, and Joseph, and Ruth.

The historical, in the writings of Moses, Samuel, and Ezra.

The lyric, in the divine odes of David.

The didactic and pastoral, in the writings of Solomon.

The philosophic and argumentative, in the orations and letters of Paul.

The tender and simple, in the words and lessons of Him who “spake as never man spake.”

To say nothing of the grand prophetic utterances that cannot be classified; the “wild seraphic fire that brought down to earth the light and glow of heaven. The influence of this book of books

upon the mind (apart from the soul) is manifest in the fact, that from the time the Bible began to be tolerably well known we have had a rich and copious national literature. And while too often it has happened that the gifted have been content with the mere literary and poetic beauty of the one marvellous book; and have fulfilled the inspired words, that the real meaning of “these things were hid from the wise and prudent;” still it is interesting and instructive to trace the mental benefits it conferred.

The greatest divines that England has produced appeared either during the period when the Bible was obtaining its freedom of the realm, or very soon after. Hooker, Bishop Hall, Jewel, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop Beveridge, Fuller.— what an influence their works must have had in elucidating Scripture! Hooker, by his “ Ecclesiastical Polity;" Hall, by his admirable “Contemplations ;” Taylor, by his rich, eloquent, and poetic disquisitions; Beveridge, by his “Private Thoughts upon Religion and a Christian Life;" Fuller by his quaint yet admirable “ Church History."

That age also gave us in the writings of Isaac Walton some biographies that for graphic power and elegant simplicity have never been surpassed. The lives of Hooker, of Dr. Donne, of George IIerbert, and others, will remain monuments of the cheerful piety and the tender reverence of Walton himself, as much as a worthy testimony of departed excellence.

The maxim of St. Paul, “ Prove all things,” was applied by a philosopher of that age to secular studies : and it would be difficult to exaggerate the benefit England has derived from the carrying out of that maxim. The great Lord Bacon taught that physical science should test and demonstrate all it asserts; and that could only be done by experiment. Before his time scholars had not used their own senses to investigate the laws and properties of matter, but had taken the

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