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Miles Coverdale; in the royal license of Matthew's Bible; a reprint of his own and Coverdale's versions, and yet more in the printing under the authority of the English primate and with a preface and commendation from his hand, of the great, Bible of Cranmer. We have seen the fruit of the labors and studies of the persecuted refugees of Geneva, and that of the zeal of the exiled Romanists of Rheims and Douay. We have seen how Episcopal dignity was borrowed to give weight to the project of Cranmer's successor, Parker; and finally we have seen as the ripened fruit of these years of varied culture, of storm and sunshine, gathering up into itself all that was worthy in less mature products, and possessing a richness and a beauty peculiar to itself and paralelled by no other, the version made by the order of King James.
We may pause for a moment before concluding, to notice its excellence. With the spiritual power and divine authority which it possesses in common with all other versions and with its inspired originals, w7e are not now concerned. Its diction and its correctness are what here invite remark. No one can be at all familiar with this version without being aware of the matchless simplicity, beauty, and purity of its diction.
The English Bible — it is peculiarly English. A curious and yet instructive analysis has been made of its style, in connection with the styles of fourteen eminent English writers, from Spencer to Johnson. That of our translation is by far the purest of them all; one-twenty-ninth only of its words are of other than English origin; while one-third of Gibbon's, and one-fourth of Johnson's, originally came from abroad. Conveying to us the most important truths, and designed to instruct the illiterate and uncultivated as well as the scholar, it employs those words and those classes of words which are in earliest, fondest and most frequent use. It shuns or rather knows not the language of philosophy and science, but uses those words which find a ready response in every English heart. Herein appears the wisdom of God in ordering its preparation at the period in which it was made. Our language was at that time settled. Before then its character was fluctuating; it then assumed a fixed form. Since then it has undergone some changes, and received some additions, which, though not rendering it less intelligible to scholars, have made it deviate somewhat from the simplicity and clearness and speciality of the popular speech. Had the Bible been translated at any other time, it would have been like some of the earlier versions, clothed in the forms of an obsolete tongue; or perhaps, like some modern paraphrases, decked out in the less simple and universally familiar garb of a Latin and French philosophical style. But it is translated in the tongue "that Shakspeare spake," a tongue which must ever be intelligible so long as the English people remain English.
It is to be observed, moreover, that the language of the Bible, its style, seems now irrecoverable. It is as though the speech consecrated by that noble use refused to be profaned by being employed to express either the wisdom or the folly of a later age. All the outcry against the faithfulness and the correctness of this version avails little. Increasing Biblical knowledge has indeed thrown brighter light' on many passages, but it has not shown that grave and essential errors of translation exist.
The scholar can resort to the original, and if need be communicate to others the results of his studies; but it would throw the Christian world into inextricable confusion, it would destroy the universality of much of our existing literature almost as effectually as in the Dream in the Eclipse of Faith it was destroyed by the Bible's becoming a blank; it would annihilate the common dialect of the English and American Christian world, to substitute a new for our beloved old version of the Scriptures.
We may confidently hope that the Providence of God will never permit such a measure to be carried out. We may expect that the English Bible, which has comforted so many Christian, and converted so many unchristian, hearts, which has enlightened and guided so many erring intellects, which has been the rhetorical no less than the spiritual teacher of such authors as Bunyan and Baxter and Addison and Wordsworth, will still teach and gladden and guide their successors to the end of time. And now we know of no fitter words with which to close this Article than those of one who, once familiar with this noble version, now in his alienation from the faith and the church of which it is the bulwark, thus in words of lamentation and unwilling praise bears witness to its power. "Who will not say that the uncommon beauty and marvellous English of the Protestant Bible is not one of the great strong holds of heresy in this country? It lives on the ear like a music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells, which the convert hardly knows how he can forego. Its felicities often seem to be almost things rather than mere words. It is part of the national mind and the anchor of national seriousness. * * * The memory of the dead passes into it. The potent traditions of childhood are stereotyped in its verses. The power of all the griefs and trials of a man is hidden beneath its words. It is the representation of his best moments, and all that there has been about him of soft and gentle and pure and penitent and good speaks to him forever out of his English Bible. * * * It is his sacred thing which doubt has never dimmed and controversy never soiled. In the length and breadth of the land there is not a Protestant with one spark of religiousness about him, whose spiritual biography is not in his Saxon Bible."
BY PROP. JOSEPH PACKARD, D. D., THEOI.O0ICAL SEMINARY, FAIRFAX, VA.
The uncertainty of ancient chronology and the want of agreement among chronologies have passed into a proverb. Scaliger complains that no two systems could be found to agree, and that he rose from the study more doubtful than ever.
It was the fond hope of Lord Bacon that " by persevering industry and scrupulous attention to genealogies, monuments, inscription?, names, letters, traditions and archives, fragments of history and scattered passages from rare books on very different subjects, a venerable tablet might be preserved from the shipwreck of time ; a work operose and painful to the author, but extremely delightful for the reader," —a plan worthy of Bacon's comprehensive mind to conceive, but alas! we fear, never to be realized.
Hales is persuaded that the whole of sacred chronology can be reduced to a simple, uniform, and consistent system, and the whole brought to the highest degree of probability, bordering on moral certainty. From an attentive examination of his Analysis, we think that he has failed, from want of sufficient soundness of judgment, to realize his own conception. While his work contains a vast amount of information, it is characterized by rashness of opinion and by unsound interpretations of Scripture. We are sorry to damp sanguine hopes of success in the attainment of certainty in this science; but when we remember that Sir Isaac Newton spent a great part of the last thirty years of his life in this study, and wrote over his system sixteen timesi without settling the
1 Whiston in his lift- says that Sir Isaac wrote out eighteen copies with his own hand, differing slightly from each other.
disputed points, and that this subject has exercised the great minds of an Usher, Scaliger, and Playfair, without much success, we dare not hope that, where they have failed, others will succeed. As long as we are deficient in historical and chronological data, so long the difficulty will remain. Our object will be, to exhibit what can be known as to the most important epochs in sacred and profane chronology, and to give general information on the subject, which is to be found scattered in a number of works, not generally accessible. Our hope is that this sketch may serve to some as an introduction to the study, and prepare the way for its further profitable investigation. It was in vain that we looked for a similar guide, when commencing the study. If it but teaches us how narrow is the horizon which bounds human investigation, of what an immense deal we are ignorant, and where information can be found, the lesson will not be wholly without profit. If we are ignorant of the great events which happened before we were born, we are, as Cicero tells us, always children. f Nescire enim quid antea quam natus sis, accident, id est semper esse puerum." — De Orat. Lib. II. 13,14.
We have spoken of the want of agreement among chronologists. In proof of it we might mention that there are on record no less than three hundred different opinions as to the era of the creation, their greatest difference being no less than 3268 years. The amount of variation as to the date of the Deluge is no less than 1142 years, and of the period from the Exodus to the building of Solomon's temple 262 years. And in an event so recent and important as the nativity of our Saviour, there is a difference of some ten years.
Unfortunately, ancient chronology had no fixed and uniform era. Had there been such a one from the beginning, the confusion in which the subject is now involved might have been prevented.
It would require an observation of many years, and considerable knowledge of astronomy, to determine the true year, and without this no scientific system can be constructed. The lunar year of 354 days was in use till the time of