« AnteriorContinuar »
therefore will be but fair to give the following extract, which states the plan on which this selection from Wickliff's writings was edited :
"A specimen of Wickliff's writings, in their original orthography, will be found in two extracts from his version of the Old Testament in the following pages. At first they will appear hardly intelligible to the reader unaccustomed to the writings of that day. But on closer examination, it will be found that if the Saxon terminations, expletives, and peculiar words are removed, the language is, as it has been well characterized, “undefiled English;" in fact, very similar to the language of our • rural districts at the present day. To have printed Wickliff's tracts in the precise form in which they were written, would have rendered them useless for the purposes of the present collection. It was therefore necessary to remove the peculiarities just adverted to, but farther the Editor had no wish to proceed ; and he felt the necessity of retaining the precise words of the original, wherever they would convey the meaning of the reformer to the general reader. How far the attempt has been successful, it is for those to say who may compare the present edition with the original manuscripts; he will only add that it was not an easy task, from the labour and the responsibility incurred."
Against the extracts from the tract respecting the office of curates, your correspondent has made a distinct charge, in your Magazine for May, pp. 535 and 536. In reference to this it is desirable to give the following note from the British Reformers, prefixed to the tract in question :
“Wickliff composed three pieces, entitled, “Of Prelates, For the order of Priesthood, and How the office of Curates is ordained of God.' His design was to shew, from the authority of Scripture, the duties of the clergy, to expose the errors and wicked practices then so general, and to point out the evil consequences both to the people and themselves. His language in these pieces is bold and uncompromising, and exhibits a painful picture of the state of the Romish priesthood at that day. The latter tract appears the most suitable for the present collection, but in copying it for the press it was not thought desirable to transcribe the whole. What is here given will be a sufficient testimony respecting many evils prevalent in the days of Wickliff, to which a large portion of his writings refer.”
It may be desirable farther to remark, that on collating the Dublin and Cambridge copies of this tract, it is very probable that considerable variations will be found. Having occasionally examined many of the early reprints and manuscripts of our Reformers, I can say that such discrepancies are very frequent, and to a very considerable extent. Your correspondent, the Rev.T.P. Pantin, experienced this in preparing his reprint of Wickliff's Wicket, and I believe that every one who has had occasion to examine many of these early writings of our church, will confirm this statement. These variations indeed often are such as to affect the sense of the passage, though never such as to affect the doctrines taught by the Fathers of our church.
In your number for June, p. 690, T. states that there are omissions in the reprint of the tract on Prayer. He should have added, that this was fully stated in the reprint itself. This will appear from the following extracts :
(Wickliff here shews 'how strict is man's law against sinful man's prayer,' and refers at considerable length to the various laws and ordinances made against unchaste, and even against married priests, commanding the people not to listen to their prayers or saying of Divine service. He then proceeds) –
" (Wickliff then condemns simony, and says, in strong terms]“Whoever cometh to this order or bencfice (of the Christian ministry) must by Vol. VIII.-Sept. 1835.
meekness seek God's worship, and belp of Christian souls, and for devotion to live in holiness and give good example. But he that comes to this order to live in pride and lusts of the flesh, as idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, and lechery, comes not in by Christ, but by the fiend, and is a traitor to God, and a heretic, till he amend this intent, and do well this spiritual office, as Christ taught. And full few are holy to pray for the people, for the greatness of their own sins enter here, and evil countenance and maintenance, and excusing of their sin, and other men's sin, for money and worldly praise, against God in his righteous judgment, and for hard enduring in their sins.”
Allow me to say that my object in requesting the insertion of this paper, is not to depreciate the labours of T. with respect to the Wickliff manuscripts in Trinity College ; nor do I wish to enter upon the field of controversy which appears to be opened by his remarks upon the publication of Mr. Vaughan. My design is, to explain the nature of the brief republication in the British Reformers, as assuming a literary value to which it never Jaid claim, and that it may not be condemned for not presenting the writings of Wickliff in a form which would have rendered them useless to the great mass of the people. The specimens of Wickliff's translation of the Bible, see p. 45 of the British Reformers, accurately represent what a precise reprint would have been.
May I call the attention of your correspondent, T., to Wickliff's treatise De Veritate Scripturæ, of which the following brief account is given in the British Reformers :
“ Wickliff's treatise of the Truth of Scripture' is a very valuable performance. It is in Latin, only two manuscript copies are known to exist ; one in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, the other at Trinity College, Dublin. The latter is the preferable copy, and is described as containing two hundred and forty-four large doublecolumned pages, of nearly a thousand words in a page. It would therefore be equal in contents to a common octavo of more than seven hundred pages. It abounds in contractions, but is fairly and legibly written. Fox, the martyrologist, possessed a copy which he intended to translate and print. Vaughan describes this work as embodying almost every sentiment peculiar to the reformer. James made considerable use of its contents in his apology for Wickliff, but it was neglected by Lewis. An accurate reprint, with a translation, would be exceedingly valuable."
I would express a hope that T. will direct his attention to this work, and undertake to present a literal and faithful edition to the public. He evidently possesses the leisure and abilities required for such work, and though I would not speak lightly even of merely critical attention to the writings of this great reformer, they must be of far less importance than the editing a work which, from the extracts given by Dr. James, appears to contain the deliberate opinions of Wickliff on the whole range of subjects which then engaged public attention.
Although I make this communication without any reference to the committee or officers of the Tract Society, and although it has no official connexion with that institution, I will venture to say that if T. is inclined to offer any private suggestions to the Secretaries of the Society, addressed to 56, Paternoster Row, London, he will find them received with attention. June 8, 1835.
SIR, -A zeal for catechising was imbibed by me thirty years back, when my father used to take me, at the age of ten, to his Sundayschool, and make me feel proud by giving me the charge of a class. For the last fourteen years I have been a catechist, and my love for my work is not at all diminished. Under the idea (not the product of vanity, I hope,) that the plan I have formed for myself has in it some desirable points, I venture to send it you, with the double object of giving hints to some, and seeking improvement from others. That catechising is a subject of vital importance in these days I feel seriously persuaded, for knowledge without it is little better than strong drink, which intoxicates, when improperly used, instead of cheering and comforting. In proof of this, might I not point to some melancholy instances amongst men of the highest talent, who, from not having been rightly catechised in their youth, have fallen into the error that science, or some other favourite pursuit, is all in all, and religion a secondary consideration ? If we witness at times that painful sight, of the most powerful and apparently amiable minds unable to discern true and saving knowledge from the want of good early impressions, how much more fearful must it be to leave weak and ill-disposed minds without a guide to the knowledge imparted to them. Though I have ventured to illustrate the importance of catechising by an allusion to those instances where we see profound knowledge unable to make its deficiency, yet it is with the poor I have to do, and to their education alone do I presume to look. Of onr national schools upon Dr. Bell's plan I am an enthusiastic admirer; I like to see the united motions of the children executed with a military precision, and I am persuaded it gives them a love of order which does not forsake them when leaving the school. The facility also with which the power of reading is acquired, together with the whole system, stands as a lasting monument to the inventor's ingenuity, and we have to rejoice that a most powerful instrument has been put into our hands of doing good. But, at the same time, we should never forget that it is no more than an instrument, and the catechist must teach how it is to be used, or otherwise scholars will be sent out into the world little better than a mob provided with arms. The practical meaning of God's Word, and an insight into its high truths, must be impressed upon the youthful mind again and again, and he must be brought to think, and that deeply, upon the vast knowledge which the Bible opens to him. My method of effecting this, which I would humbly submit to the consideration of my brother catechists, is as follows:
On Sunday morning, at 9 o'clock, I go to the boys' school, and after hearing one of the boys repeat the collect of the day, I question them thoroughly upon it, using this as my text for a catechetical discourse to them. The great object I endeavour to keep in view is the preparing their minds for rightly solemnizing that high and glorious day, the Lord’s-day, and serving God truly upon its six dependent days in the ensuing week. The epistle and gospel following the collect I press into the service, if suitable to my subject, and generally tell
them to read one or both. The appointed lessons for the day I also examine, to see whether they will promote my design; as, for instance, on Trinity Sunday, when wishing to shew how far God's ancient people were enlightened with the doctrine of the Trinity, to what part of the Bible could I better refer than to the first chapter of Genesis ? ór, when wishing to shew them the clearer insight into this great truth afforded the Christian, how could I better accomplish such an end than by pointing to our Saviour's baptism, as related in the lesson of the day? Should I be able to illustrate my meaning by some fitting parable (such as “ James on the Collects” often gives me,) I am fond of doing so; for my object is to make such an impression as may be carried away, and fit them to become instruments in lighting up a fire at home as they talk over what they have learned. Directing as our church does, the collect for the day to be used each day of the week, her design seems to be to keep alive those right feelings the season suggests, and to supply petitions suitable to the same, and this design I endeavour to give efficacy to. Having spent half an hour with the boys, I go and do the same with the girls. At 10 o'clock the boys come into the girls' school-room, and a short lesson is read to both schools by one of the boys. In leaving the girls' school-room, the boys pass individually before me, and if I see their clothes not mended, or their persons not clean, I express my displeasure, asking them if they know where they are going, &c., for outward cleanliness and neatness I esteem intimately connected with a virtuous frame of mind. On Monday morning at 11 o'clock, or 10 if it is a holy day, (for on such days, as also on Wednesdays and Fridays, there is service in the church at 11, but on other days I have the morning prayer at 10 in private, as ordered where necessity requires,) I go to the boys' school and instruct the first class in the knowledge of their Prayer-book by means of a catechetical lesson. For the want of such instruction it is lamentable to observe how many are utter strangers to the surpassing beauties of our incomparable liturgy. I have framed for myself, with much care, a series of lessons for the due execution of this part of my catechist's office, with an eye especially to the daily service of the church. In these lessons, it is my endeavour not only to give them a right understanding of the liturgy, but to point out the frame of mind which should accompany its several parts, so as to render them a worshipping of God in the beauty of holiness. Would we save our people from the immeasurable loss they must sustain from dissent, we are bound to teach them what our liturgy is; and let us only unlock the casket and shew the treasure, and I defy them to avoid gazing upon her jewels with admiration and amazement......On Tuesday, at 11, I use the same little work at the girls' school.......On Wednesday, at 10, I hear the boys read one of the lessons for the day, making them tell me what chapter it is, and hoping thereby to accustom them not entirely to frustrate the church's tender care in supplying wholesome scriptural food for the soul upon every day in the year. Having read the chapter they close their books, and I question them thoroughly as to what they have read, making them think deeply upon it, and leading them to that holy meditation hereafter, without which
the Scriptures can but little profit. The Bible seems to me like the great ocean, fair and sparkling on the surface to excite our admiration, but we must search deep would we know all the wonders it contains... ....On Friday, at 10, I employ myself similarly at the girls' school.......On Thursday, at 11, I catechise the boys, in the usual acceptation of that phrase; that is, I examine into their practical knowledge of the short catechism of the church. For the better exeention of this important part of the catechist's office, I have framed forty appropriate lessons, having one lesson on each of the commandments, for instance, and twenty on the belief. By this means, as I hope, they are saved from learning their catechism by rote without understanding it, and are thus made acquainted with the fundamental truths of their religion.......On Saturday, at 11 (or 10, if the day before the monthly Sacrament, as in that case there is service in the ehurch), I do the same at the girls' school.
Such is my every day method, and I find it work so well, that I have been induced to send you the fruit of much experience, leaving it to your own discretion to submit it to your readers, or otherwise ; and I will only further add, that should you decide that the hints are not sufficiently useful to occupy a part of your Magazine, I shall not think the less highly of your sound judgment, as I have many misgivings that its being my own is its principal recommendation, and this film from my eyes I have no power myself to remove.
I am, Sir, your obliged, An AnxiouS CATECHIST.
ALEXANDER KNOX. MR. EDITOR,—As one who owes many hours of delightful instruction to the pages of Alexander Knox, I have not read with indifference the letters of your correspondents, “ Fidelis," “T. D. A.," and “ Catholicus.” The question to which they relate is in itself deeply interesting, and certainly holds a prominent place in the writings of this devout and highly gifted Christian ; and it cannot but be a satisfaction to an inquirer after truth, to find it investigated in a spirit of candid disquisition. It is a pleasing contrast to the sort of rough hewing one meets with on this subject elsewhere.
Whether the following remarks have any tendency to advance the examination in the same spirit in which it has been begun, I must leave to the judgment of others :—such at least is my intention in offering them.
It is always well to start on an inquiry of this kind with our terms well defined. On referring to Mr. Knox's phrase, vol. i., p. 273, “ the state of justification,” it is plain that Fidelis and he are not using the term in precisely the same sense; as Fidelis appears to identify it “ with pardon or absolution,"'* the proper act of God. In this sense I suppose it also to be used by Mr. Evans, in his “ Church of God," Serm. x. p. 213.
* No. XLII., p. 669.