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DESTRUCTION OF COPIES. the Jews, of the Christians, and of the philosophers ; the Jews, the books of the Christians and of the Pagans; and too often Christians burned the books of both Jews and Pagans. The reading and copying of the Jewish Talmud, for example, (which often contained copies of the Old Testament,) were forbidden by the emperor Justinian, by many of the French* and Spanish kings, and by several of the popes. In the year 1569, twelve thousand copies of it were thrown into the flames at Cremona. The Goths and Saracens burned, on principle, all Christian books wherever they found them. When Buda was taken by the Turks, a vast sum was offered to redeem the great library founded there by one of the Hungarian monarchs. The library was rich in Greek, Hebrew, and ancient classic manuscripts ; thirty transcribers having been employed for many years in copying and illuminating them. The offer, however, was made in vain, and the whole were destroyed. The extent to which this destruction was carried may be gathereu from the circumstance, that though the Roman emperor Tacitus (A. D. 275) had copies of the works of his great namesake and ancestor, the historian, placed in all the libraries of the empire, and every year had ten copies transcribed, nearly the whole have been lost. A considerable part of his writings we owe to a single copy, while some other parts are entirely wanting. It must be added that the writing of many
* See Jortin's Remarks, vol. iii., pp. 64, 318
NUMBER OF COPIES.
65 bass. has been wilfully obliterated. Through the scarcity of parchment, great estates were often transferred in the middle ages by á mere verbal agreement, and the delivery of earth and stones before witnesses, without any written deed. Parchinent was so scarce, that about the year 1120, “master Hugh," being appointed by the content of St. Edniondsbury to write and illuminate a copy of the Bible for their library, could procure no material for this purpose in England. This scarcity tempted the needy or the unscrupulous to efface even the Scriptures, that the parchment might be devoted to some profitable use. So early had these practices begun, that in the seventh century (690) the council of Trullo found it necessary to notice and condemn them.*
Historians have been deeply impressed with these considerations; and some have ascribed the revival and extension of learning in modern times to the invention, ñot of printing, but of paper.
Comparing the number of manuscripts of Scripture, however, with those of ancient classic authors which have come down to us, we have great reason to feel grateful. An ample provision has been made for the preservation of the sacred text-a provision, too, which sustains this view of the large number of copies of Scripture in early times. The manuscripts of
* Wetstein's Prolegom. and Warton's English Poetry, vol. quoted by Townley.
classic authors generally amount to ten or twenty. Of Herodotus, for example, we have fifteen manuscripts, all belonging to periods between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. This is the average number, and is deemed sufficient to determine the text. Of the New Testament uj wards of six hundred manuscripts have been collated, and more are known to exist. Of these, about one hundred belong to periods between the fourth century and the tenth. Of Hebrew manuscripts, again, upwards of one thousand three hundred have been examined -numbers which indicate a much more extensive multiplication of copies than ever took place, even in the case of the most renowned of ancient heathen writers.
The full amount of blessing conferred upon mankind by these versions and copies of the Bible, it is impossible to estimate. There must have been thousands of manuscripts, and millions must have heard or read them. Even when the use of them came to be confined to the clergy, it is highly probable that there were among that class many conscientious men who communicated to others what they themselves bad heard and felt of the word of life. The general result upon the state of the ancient world even Gibbon admits. Within four centuries after the death of our Lord, Christians formed the majority throughout the Roman empire ; " and it must be confessed,” says the historian, “that Christianity mitigated the
fierceness of the times, sheltered the poor and defenceless, and preserved or revived the peace and order of civil society." Believing, as we do, that the word of God never returns to him void, can we help hoping that thousands, from the Vistula to the Tigris, received it into their hearts, and died under its sustaining and sanctifying influence? The millions who are now before the throne have come up out of “every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue."
THE BIBLE AND THE REFORMATION.
THE BIBLE AND THE REFORMATION. FROM the days of Jerome, we pass on to the twelfth century, indicating briefly some of the changes which had taken place in the interval.
The fall of the Roman empire, and the establishment on its ruins of the barbarian kingdoms of the Goths and Lombards, was followed, as is well known, by the universal neglect of all learning ; a result to which other causes contributed, but which was greatly accelerated by the public calamities consequent on that invasion. The gospel had already been carried to the utmost borders of the Roman world ; but from that time it shrivelled and contracted, till it was scarcely to be found, even within the nominally professing church. Not, however, that all was dark. In Ireland and England, the Greek and Latin tongues were cultivated, even during the sixth and seventh centuries, with some assiduity and success. In Iona, also, one of the Hebrides, Columba had founded a monastery, whence “ savage clans and roving barbarians long derived the benefits