Изображения страниц

teemed by English Churchmen. One more extract from Professor Le Bas's work will be quite sufficient for this purpose.

“ As the fearless assailant of abuse, nothing could well be more noble than his attitude and bearing. But, had he succeed. ed in shaking the established system to pieces, one can scarcely think, without some awful misgivings, of the fabric which, under his hand, might have risen out of the ruins. If the reformation of our Church had been conducted by Wiclif, his work, in all probability, would nearly have anticipated the labors of Calvin ; and the Protestantism of England might have pretty closely resembled the Protestantism of Geneva. Episcopal government might then have been discarded; ecclesiastical endowments and foundations might have been, for the most part, sacrificed ; the clergy consigned to a degrading dependence on their flocks; the worship of God, if not wholly stripped of its ritual solemnity, yet deprived of the aids of instrumental harmony; and, lastly, the fatalism which lurked in the scholastic writings of the Reformer might then, possibly, have raised up its head, and boldly demanded a place in the Confession of the National Church! Had Wiclif flourished in the sixteenth century, it can hardly be imagined that he would have been found under the banners of Cranmer and of Ridley. Their caution, their patience, their moderation, would scarcely have been intelligible to him; and rather than conform to it, he might, perhaps, have been ready, if needful, to perish, in the gainsaying of such men as Knox or Cartwright. At all events, it must plainly be confessed, that there is a marvellous resemblance between the Reformer, with his poor itinerant priests, and at least the better part of the Puritans, who troubled our Israel in the days of Elizabeth and her successors. The like. ness is sufficiently striking, almost to mark him out as their pro. totype and progenitor; and therefore it is, that every faithful son of the Church of England must rejoice with trembling, that the work of her final deliverance was not consigned to him.” — pp. 324, 325.

We believe it was John Fox, the Martyrologist, who, in Queen Elizabeth's time, first applied to Wycliffe the appellation of "the Morning Star of the Reformation." This quaint old writer loved the Reformer because he had battled bravely against the Pope and the Roman Catholics. But he had no just appreciation of the true excellence of Wycliffe's character. We find no account, in his ponderous folios, of the translation of the Bible. Indeed, this work, which was the chief and crowning VOL. LI. -4th s. vol. XVI. NO. I.


glory of Wycliffe's career, and the lever by which the Papal power in Great Britain was overthrown, receives hardly a passing notice from Fox.

A Life of Wycliffe was prepared by the Rev. John Lewis, and published in the early part of the last century. It was republished at Oxford in 1820, and is valuable chiefly as containing a collection of materials for a biography; but it has few attractions, in its present form, for the general reader. The most elaborate work of the kind is that entitled The Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe," &c., &c., &c., by Robert Vaughan (2 vols., 8vo, London, 1828). This has passed to a second edition, and it contains much valuable information, drawn, principally, from the manuscript works of Wycliffe. But in the copious extracts from these the language has been so much modernized, that the reader cannot feel sure that he is ever in possession of the true idea of the Reformer.

Professor le Bas, from whose book we have already quoted, derives his information mainly from the work just noticed. He gives us, in a smaller compass, but in a more ambitious style, the principal results of Mr. Vaughan's investigations.*

“ The Wycliffe Society” was formed in London a few years since, for the purpose of publishing his works. We believe the plan has not been attended with much success.

When a memoir worthy of the subject is published, it will be found that no brighter name adorns the ecclesiastical annals of Great Britain, or indeed of Protestant Christendom, than that of John Wycliffe. We regard it as among the important incidental consequences which are likely to follow the publication of this Bible, that attention will thereby be directed to his life and labors.

*“Wycliffe and his Times, by Enoch Pond, Professor in the Theological Seminary, Bangor, Me.,” is the title of a little volume of about two hundred pages, published by the American Sunday School Union (Philadelphia, 1841). It gives a fair account of his life and opinions. Although written particularly for the youth of this country, it is worthy the attention of older readers, if they cannot obtain the more elaborate and costly works of Wycliffe's English biographers. A similar work was published in 1840, at Columbus, Ohio, written by Mrs. Margaret Coxe. In a volume of great merit, entitled “Passages from the History of Liberty," by Samuel Eliot, (Boston, 1847,) there is an admirable article on Wycliffe. We believe these are the most important accounts of the great Reformer which have been prepared in this country.

We are confident that a thorough and impartial examination of his claims will result in a complete vindication of his title to be regarded as the primary and most important agent in producing the Protestant Reformation. We know that Luther and his immediate coadjutors now occupy this position by the common consent of Protestant Christians. Their praises have been spoken in the loudest tones by thousands of voices from various sects and parties. But more than a century before the German Reformer was born, Wycliffe - quite as extraordinary a man as Luther — had planted the seeds of the Reformation, and with great boldness and perseverance had promulgated those principles which were to shake the Romish Church to its centre.

centre. Wycliffe was the pioneer an patriarch of Protestantism, and his name should have the highest place on the roll of its honored heroes.

G. L.


This is a very thin volume. No publisher but William Pickering, London, could have raised it to the dignity of a volume. It does not contain much, and it does not in any way amount to much. And yet it has given us pleasure, by its classical air, its healthy tone, and a pervading spirit of genial wisdom. It is very much in the vein of the “ Friends in Council," and may have proceeded from the same pen. It opens as follows:

“During the time of my pretending to practise medicine at Cambridge, I was aroused one fine forenoon of May, by the sound of some one running up my staircase, three or four steps at a time; then, directly, a small rapping at the door ; and before I could say, “Come in !' Euphranor had opened it, and, coming up to me, seized my arm with his usual eagerness, and told me I must go out with him, - it was such a day, - sun shining, - breeze blowing, - hedges and trees all in leaf. He had been to Ches. terton (he said), and had rowed back with a man who had now left him in the lurch; and I must take his place.' I told him what

* Euphranor, a Dialogue on Youth. London: William Pickering. 1851. 12mo. pp. 81.

a poor hand at the oar I was, and such walnut-shells as these Cambridge boats were, I was sure a strong fellow like him must rejoice in getting a whole right-oar to himself once in a way. He laughed, and said, "The pace, the pace,' was the thing. However, that was all nothing, but — in short, I must go out with him, whether to row, or to walk in the fields, or a game of billiards at Chesterton, whatever I liked, only go I must. After a little more banter about my possible patients, I got up, closed a very heavy treatise on Magnesia I was reading, put on coat and hat, and in three minutes we had run down stairs, out into the open air ; where both of us calling out together what a glorious day it was, we struck out briskly for the old wooden bridge, where Euphranor said he had left his boat.

6. By the bye,' said I, as we went along,' it would be a charity to knock up poor Lexilogus, and carry him with us.'

“Not so much of a charity, Euphranor thought, - Lexilogus would so much rather be left with his books. But I declared that was the very reason he ought to be drawn abroad. . . So without more ado, we turned into 'Trinity great gate, and round by the right up a staircase to the attic in which Lexilogus kept."

The three are soon upon the river, and there, and afterwards in an arbor of the Chesterton Bowling-green, they have much easy but sage talk. Two or three friends join them in the course of the day. Euphranor produces a book, Digby on Chivalry. He reads :

“The error that leads men to doubt of this first proposition,'— that is, you know, that chivalry is not a thing past, but, like all things of beauty, eternal, - the error that leads men to doubt of this first proposition consists in their supposing that tournaments, steel panoply, and coat arms, and aristocratic institutions, are essential to chivalry ; whereas, these are, in fact, only acci. dental attendants upon it, subject to the influence of time, which changes all such things.' ... Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to generous and heroic actions; and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world. It will be found that, in the absence of conservative principles, this spirit more generally prevails in youth than in the later period of men's life ; and as the heroic is always the earliest aye in the history of nations, so youth, the finest period of life, may be considered the heroic or chivalrous age of each separate man; and there are few so unhappy as 10 have grown up without having experienced its influence, and hav. ing derived the advantage of being able to enrich their imagination, and to soothe their hours of sorrow, with its romantic recollections. . Every boy and youth is, in his mind and sentiment, a knight, and essentially a son of chivalry. Nature is fine in him. Nothing but the circumstances of a sin. gular and most degrading system of education can ever totally destroy the action of this general law; therefore, so long as there has been, or shall be, young men to grow up to ma. turity; and until all youthful life shall be dead, and its source withered up for ever; so long must there have been, and must there continue to be, the spirit of noble chivalry."

Then follows much discourse, now light and now learned, among the friends, on education; and that is the burden of the book. They conclude to take a child from his birth, and carry him along, in theory, up to manhood; of course, upon the principles of true chivalry; he must be a genuine knight; his name is Sir Lancelot. The doctor, as having to usher him into the world, and to bestow a professional superintendence upon him for a while, undertakes to guide him through his first septenniad, with occasional hints from Euphranor. We shall extract some passages from their conversation; because we think they furnish about as good a treatment of the subject of early education as we should be likely to obtain at first hand from any of our contributors ; - hints that may be prof. itably considered by those of us who have young knights to train and see to.

By and by, too, he is drawn up from the visible love and authority of parents and nurses, to the idea of a Father unseen, the Father of his father, Father of all, Maker of all, who, though we do not see him, sees us, and all we do, and even all we think ; who has bid us obey, love, and honor our parents, tell the truth, keep our hands from picking and stealing, and who will one day reward or punish us according as we have done all this.'

"" Halloa, doctor,' said Euphranor, smiling, 'you have brought on your child at a fine rate, far faster than I should have dared ; instilling religion when you were pretending to give him a dose.'

“Not I,' I answered, nor Mr. or Miss Skythrops either. Mamma and nurse have done it imperceptibly. It is through the mother's eyes. Fellenberg finely said, that heaven first beams upon a child. But, as you say, ne sutor ultra." I return to my soothing syrups.

“But Euphranor declared that, having once begun, I must go on, carrying Sir Lancelot's mind along with his body; especially

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »