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MAGAZINE AND REVIEW;
DIVINE AND USEFUL
We are Members of THE CHURCH, which from the first has always glo
ried in the name of Christian, as expressing her unity with Christ, and
BY A SOCIETY OF CHURCHMEN.
FROM JULY TO DECEMBER, 1805.
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ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE AND REVIEW,
FOR JULY 1805.
Nothing.is so glorious in the eyes of mankind, and ornamental to humun
nature, setting uside the infinite advantuges which arise from it, as a strong steady masculine piety.
The Life of John Wickliffe, D. D.
christians, that nothing which concerns it, can be indifferent to them. ' It is not more pleasing than useful to trace the steps, by which the divine providence perfected this important work: and to observe the various causes, which concurred to its completion. On this account, we have determined to give our readers the life of our countryman Wickliffe," that they may carry their views still farther into the original of his renovation of christian truth; and see the spark, which lighted Huss, and Luther, and Cranmer, and others; till it shone forth into that bright and glorious day, which we of this happy nation now enjoy.
Every man, who knows any thing of human nature, is assured, that those, who attempt reformations of any kind, lie under great difficulties, and are subject to numberless misrepresentations. Reformers are men; and as such, they have their faults: and it too frequently happens, that the zeal for truth (wherewithi they are animated, and without which they would not be reformers) carries them too far, and causes them to overshoot the mark, which they strain all their nerves to bit. These faults are greedily laid hold of by their adversaries, while their minutest slip is aggravated into the most enormous stumble. So many too are irritated, nay and interested to blacken them, that it is no wonder their characters are loaded with a weight of infamy.
Much allowance should be made to these and the like considerations by the person who sits down to read any Vol. IX. Churchm. Álag. July 1805. B
account of the life of Wickliffe ; who having been unboundedly free and unreserved in censuring the manners of the Romish clergy and others of his time, it is not strange that they have been as free with him ; but it is very strange, that Protestant writers have suffered themselves to be biassed by the prejudiced representations of popish ones. Let us observe too, as another just apology for this truly great man, before we enter upon the detail of his life, that we cannot le surprized, that he should have embraced and defended many points of doctrine, which the more enlightened enquirers of following ages have found cause to explode. Rather let us admire, that he saw so much, than that he saw not every thing, in such an age of ignorance and superstition; and let us venerate the man, who had sagacity and courage enough to oppose the gross errors of his day; and to hold forth thatinextinguishable ray of light, the holy scripture in our mother tongue, before which the midnight darkness of popery has been dispelled; and to which the protestant faith owes its being and support.
This “ first discoverer and guide in our blessed reformation,” as one * calls him, was born in the year 1324, at a village called Spreswell, in the parish of Wickliffe, near Richmond in Yorkshire, a place of which there are no remains at present. Though there is no authentic account of his family, it appears to have been considerable. A learned education was given him, and in proper time he was admitted Commoner of Queen's College in Oxford but was soon removed to Merton, and inade Fellow. Merton was at that time distinguished for persons of learning and genius; several men of the first fame, and who afterwards enjoyed the first dignities, were cotemporaries with Wickliffe; but the names of none of them have come down to our times with celebrity equal to that of Geoffry Chaucer, the father of our poetry, as Wickliffe may justly be called of our reformation.
“ Wickliffe was soon distinguished, among his illustrious cotemporaries, for the closeness of his application and the vivacity of his genius. He became celebrated in philosophy and divinity, being so remarkable for the elegancy of his wit, and his strength in disputation, that he was esteemed more than human by the common sort of divines. He adorned the learning of the schools by acquiring a deep knowledge of the civil and canon law, as well as of the municipal laws of his own country. He not only * Bishop Kennet.