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PAGE. VIII. NOTICES OF NEw Books.
I. Judge Carleton. Liberty and Necessity.
ib. V. Kennedy. The Divine Life.
337 VI. Jay's Devotional Readings. VII. Rev. J. E. Edwards' Travels in Europe. 338 VIII. Mrs. Sigourney. Examples from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
ib. IX. Rey. D. K. Thomason. Fashionable Amusements.
. ib. X. Bonner's Child's History of Greece.
341 XVI. Armstrong. The Doctrine of Baptisms. ib. XVII. Belcher's Whitefield.
342 XVIII. W. C. Prime. Boat-Life in Egypt and Nubia. Tent-Life in the Holy Land.
343 XIX. Liddell's History of Rome. XX. Harpers' Story Books. Congo.
ib. XXI. Smith's Student's Gibbon.
350 XXXI. Salvation made sure.
ib. XXXII. Juvenile Books of the American Tract Society. ib.
1. The History of the Life and Sufferings of the Reverend and Learned John Wickliffe, D.D., Warden of Canterbury Hall, and publick Professor of Divinity in Oxford, and Rector of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, in the Reigns of K. Edward III, and K. Richard II. Together with a Collection of Papers relating to the said History never before printed. By John LEWIS, A.M., Minister of Meregate. London.
1720. pp. 405. 2. The Life of Wiclif. By CHARLES WEBB LE BAS, M.A.,
Professor in the East India College, Herts, and Late Fellow
of Trinity College, Cambridge. London. 1832. pp. 454. 3. John De Wycliffe, D.D. A Monograph. With some Account of the Wycliffe MSS. in Oxford, Cambridge, the British Museum, Lambeth Palace, and Trinity College, Dublin. By ROBERT Vaughan, D.D. London. 1853.
pp. 583. 4. Die Vorreformatoren des vierzehnten und fünfzehnten
Jahrhunderts, Erste Hälfte : Johannes Von Wykliffe : durch FRIEDRICH BÖHRINGER. Zürich. 1856. pp. 643.
It is related of Napoleon, that, in one of his more pensive moods, speaking freely of his own eventful career, and seeking to anticipate for himself the final verdict of history, he drew a vivid picture of the steadily shrinking dimensions of his renown. Then his achievements filled libraries. By and by a volume would suffice; then a chapter; then a paragraph; and then a line; till finally, perhaps, there would remain only his name.
It was a true picture, and has a philosophy underlying it, which worldly ambition would do well to learn. It was true, not of Napoleon pre-eminently, but equally and inevitably of all the heroes and architects of mere earthly kingdoms, whose place in history must eventually be determined, not by what they were in themselves in respect to force and faculty, but by what they were and what they achieved in relation to the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Only this kingdom endures, traversing the centuries, and binding the names of its heralds, martyrs, and champions into one undying fellowship of sweet and goodly renown. It is not the grossly wicked only whose memory must rot, but the memory of all must rot whose names are not linked with the fortunes of that kingdom, which, like the stone cut out of the mountain, will keep on expanding till it has filled the earth. Frederick the Great, of Prussia, the ablest monarch of his century, was born in 1712, and died in 1786, in the 75th year of his age, and the 47th of his reign. David Brainerd was born in 1718, six years later than Frederick, and died in 1747, thirty-nine years earlier than he. And even now it may well be questioned, whether the name of Brainerd is not on the lips of more men, and oftener on their lips, by two if not by ten to one, than the name of Frederick. In mere fame, it may well be questioned, whether the Connecticut missionary has not already eclipsed the Prussian monarch. Such is the reward of those who toil and suffer, even in supposed obscurity, for the glorious kingdom of our Lord.
The name of Wycliffe is no exception to this law, but rather
a most remarkable and decisive exemplification of it in the face of remarkable enmities and infelicities of fortune. For more than a hundred and fifty years from the time he first lifted his voice, and sharpened his pen, against the abuses and corruptions of the Papal Hierarchy, the impediments in the way of his just renown seemed well-nigh insuperable. Everything was done, which an untoward fortune could do, to wipe his name and his achievements out of history. His own birthplace and his own family were against him, persisting in their allegiance to Rome. Of the two hundred souls now numbered in the little hamlet where he was born, one-half are still Romanists. His relatives, people of property and high social position, probably disowned and disinherited him. We say probably, for the only allusion to the matter by Wycliffe, occurs in a treatise “On Wedded Men and their Wives,” now in manuscript at Cambridge, in which he says: “If a child yield himself to meekness and poverty, and flee covetousness and pride from a dread of sin and to please God, by so doing he getteth many enemies to his elders; and they say that he slandereth all their noble kindred, who were ever held true men and worshipful.” From the time of his first going to Oxford in 1340, when he was sixteen years of age, it is supposed that he never once returned to his home. The young eagle never looked again upon the nest in which he was hatched and reared. His name is not to be found in the extant records of the household. Evidently, the haughty family, outraged by his abandonment of the ancestral faith, wished his connection with them to be forgotten.
And then he lived in an age when England was semibarbarous. Its population, known to have been but about three * millions at the time of the Reformation, cannot have been, in the time of Wycliffe, much above two millions. The country was largely covered with forests, and these forests were haunted by robbers. It was only a little while before Wycliffe's birth that any stringent measures were taken for the protection of travellers. In 1285 it was enacted, that the highways, from one market town to another, should be widened, so that there should be no bush, or tree, or dike within two hundred feet of
the road on either side. There was scarcely a road in all the kingdom practicable for wheeled carriages, even in summer. Men travelled on horseback, and often in caravans, for mutual protection. None used carriages but ladies of high rank and the sick. It required some weeks for the intelligence even of a king's death to reach all parts of the realm. Few in the middle class of citizens could write, so that divided and scattered families might live for months, not many miles apart, without mutual intercourse of any sort. Even so late as å hundred years subsequent to the age of Wycliffe, a Mrs. Paston writes thus to a brother: “Right well beloved brother! I commend me to you, letting you wete that I am in welfare. I marvel sore that ye never sent writing to me since ye departed: I never heard since that time word out of Norfolk. Ye might at Bartholomew Fair (Aug. 24th) have had messages enough to London, and if ye had sent to Wykes, he should have conveyed it to me. I heard yesterday that a worsted man of Norfolk, that sold worsted at Winchester, said that my Lord of Norfolk and my lady were on pilgrimage to our Lady on foot, and so they went to Caister: and that at Norwich, one should have had large language with you, and called you traitor; and picked many quarrels with you: send me word thereof. I pray you send me word if any of our friends be dead, for I fear there is a great death in Norwich, and in the other towns in Norfolk, for I assure you it is a most universal death that ever I wist in England, for, by my troth, I cannot hear by pilgrims that pass the country, nor none other man that rideth or goeth about, that any borough town in England is free from sickness.”
The art of printing was not yet invented; not, indeed, till near a century later. No iron fingers then, as now, scattered the leaves that heal the nations. Pen and ink, wielded by slowly-moving human fingers, did all the publishing. Instead of whispering galleries, eager to catch every earnest utterance and keep it echoing, men spoke into blank, boundless spaces, and got back faint answers. Verily, it was a most unpropitious time for a great man to dream of doing a great work. A good