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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“ and roving barbarians long derived the benefits
of knowledge, and the blessings of religion."* In the eighth, the venerable Bede studied and translated the original Scriptures, and was, besides, a diligent compiler of our annals. He states, moreover, that in his time the Scots and Irish possessed portions of Scripture † in their own language, though all trace of them has now perished. Somewhat later, the school of York sent forth Alcuin, the friend of Charlemagne, who, by the assistance of that scholar, laid the foundation in his vast dominions for the revival of letters. Among the clergy themselves, the study of the Scriptures was not entirely neglected, the monks devoting a large part of their time to the multiplication of manuscripts of the sacred volume. In all Roman Catholic countries, moreover, the corruptions of the church, and the study of the Latin Vulgate, had called the attention of men to a holier morality and a purer faith than were to be found in her communion; so that, during the darkest parts of the middle ages, there were many bright spots ; while the use of the Bible, and the very corruptions of the established system, suggested the need of a reform.
In the meantime, also, a new method of treating theology had been introduced. In the early ages of the church, theology was built upon Scripture. The fathers took the sacred text, and interpreted it according to what they deemed to be its meaning. This was the first and sound methol. In the eighth century,
* Dr. Johnson. | Bede, book i. cap. i. $ See Hody.
METHODS OF STUDY. however, or somewhat earlier, (the Benedictines of St. Maur fixing the eighth, and Mosheim the sixth century, as the commencement of this practice,) the fathers themselves began to be employed as authorities conjointly with Scripture and ecclesiastical decisions. Hence were formed loci communes, (common-places,) and catene patrum, which consisted of digested extracts, taken from the Fathers and placed under systematic heads. This was the second, or traditional method. A little later, a third method of study was introduced, not less mischievous, This system was founded on an application of the Aristotelian logic to theology, which thus became a science, not of interpretation, but of reasoning. It began with our countrymen, Anselm and Lanfranc; and commencing in the ninth century, had reached its perfection, such as it was, in the thirteenth. The influence of the second of these methods on the circulation of the Bible is obvious. Its origin it owed probably to a consciousness of inferiority on the part of the ecclesiastics of that day to the early fathers ; in part, also, to a growing jealousy of the free exercise of individual judgment in matters of faith, especially under a system which combined with some Scripture doctrines much that was corrupt; in part to a desire to keep religion as far as possible under the control of the ecclesiastical order. Its ejfect was to make the study of Scripture a secondary duty, even with the clergy. The Bible alone was no longer the religion of the
EUROPEAN VERNACULAR TONGUES.
church.* It must be added, that during these centuries the Romish church herself had become grossly degenerate. From the days of Gregory the Great (590,) the progress of the papacy is little else than an outrage on religion, morality, and freedom. The five centuries following that time are admitted by even Fleury, the Roman historian, to be “destitute both of learning and of virtue."
Meantime, changes of considerable importance to our history had taken place elsewhere. The Mohammedan power had arisen in Arabia, and pushed its conquests to Babylon on the one side, and to Spain on the other ; while on the east of Europe it was threatening Constantinople. It carried with it wherever it went the Arabio tongue, which soon became vernacular through all that region. Within the range of the old Roman empire in Western Europe, the Latin language was gradually undergoing modifications. In the seventh century, the clergy generally preached in Latin, and their teaching in that tongue was intelligible to their hearers. In the ninth, the council of Tours (813) ordered that homilies should be read to the people in the patois, or rustic Latin, as it was called, of the respective districts. In three centuries later, this rustic Latin had become Italian in Italy, French in France, Spanish and Portuguese in the Peninsula ; those languages being a mixture of Latin, with forms of speech peculiar to each of those countries.
* Hallam, vol. i. p. 13.