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collection of ninety commentators on the entire Scripture, or its several portions, published by Cornelius Bee, a bookseller, in 1660, in nine huge volumes, under the well-known title of "CRITICI SACRI."
On this work an improvement was made by MATTHEW POOL,* a silenced Nonconformist minister. His plan was to give the substance of each commentator embraced in the "Critici Sacri,” along with a number besides; and to those who were not anxious to possess the ipsissima verba of each interpreter, this digest had the recommendation of greater comprehensiveness combined with economy. It was prepared with remarkable rapidity. The first volume appeared in 1669, and the fifth and concluding one in 1676; and during this period, with very little copy provided beforehand, the author kept two presses in constant employment. His rule was to rise "very early in the morning, about three or four o'clock, and take a raw egg about eight or nine, and another about twelve," and then continue his studies till the afternoon was pretty far advanced, when he went abroad, and spent the evening at some friend's house in cheerful conversation." And its success was not a little wonderful. To their lasting honour, the work of the learned Nonconformist was recommended to public favour by many of the bishops, and by Tillotson, Patrick, Stillingfleet, and other lights of the Church of England; and before the fifth volume was published, an impression of four thousand copies was exhausted, all save two hundred. Before the end of the century, three other editions had appeared, two of them at Frankfort and one at Leyden.
The generation which produced these colossal commentators must have been mighty in the Scriptures, and the ministers who had time to study the "Critici Sacri" and Walton's Polyglott, must have possessed an enviable amount of learned leisure.
They had not a dozen committees to attend in a
*Born at York, 1624; died at Amsterdam, 1679.
THE OLDEN LEISURE.
week, and some thousands of letters to answer in a year. Their mornings were not devoted to the miscellaneous affairs which now-a-days engross the care and divide the energies of the parochial or congregational factotum, nor were their evenings bespoken for conversaziones and lectures, soirees and public dinners. And although it would be a silly peevishness to complain of a state of matters which is mainly the result of the evangelistic and philanthropic zeal evolved in the present century, we sometimes wish that religious activity left more time for sacred scholarship. Except during the few weeks of his annual holiday, there is many a clergyman who never knows the luxury of a day's unbroken retirement; and, for the quiet study of the Bible, city merchants are often more favourably circumstanced than city ministers. No doubt, a sensible man will conform to existing exigencies, and will do his best to produce, from Sunday to Sunday, discourses, fresh, practical, and impressive; but extemporised, as these usually are, in hasty moments at the end of a laborious week, he often sighs to perceive that there are broad tracts of revelation on which he dare not adventure, and important truths in "the counsel of God" which he must "shun to declare," lest Christianity itself be compromised by crude expositions or unguarded statements. And that which aggravates the evil is the early age at which the student now enters on the active ministry— spending in his first charge the six or eight years which the aspirant two hundred years ago devoted, in his quiet chambers at Oxford or Cambridge, to the investigation of the original Scriptures and the mastery of systematic divinity. It may be that some of the Commonwealth worthies were too much recluses and book-worms, and it will be allowed that a modern Lightfoot would be as little in his element presiding at a vestry, as a resuscitated Charnock at a modern tea-meeting; but, happily, the Church is now so rich in active and accomplished laymen, and in men of business who are withal men of piety,
that we believe the interests of Christianity would be subserved by pastors being allowed to give themselves more entirely to "prayer and to the ministry of the word." In such an event, it is to be hoped that the standard of personal devotedness and spiritual attainment might rise higher, first among pastors, and then among people; and that, with more effort concentrated on pulpit ministrations, the members of the Christian community would be gainers, in the extending range of their scriptural knowledge, in the growing strength of their religious convictions, and in the more powerful impulses from time to time imparted to their personal piety.
THE CHRISTIAN LAITY.
Overshadowed as were the last years of this illustrious Englishman by his own sad confession that, in the administration of justice, he had been guilty of "corruption," there is no admirer of genius who is not anxious to find for the fallen chancellor every extenuation afforded by the venality of his contemporaries and predecessors; and, although some may demur to our giving a place in religious authorship to one in whose career there was so much to condemn, charitable readers will recall to remembrance the inspired author of those psalms, some of which Bacon translated,* and, however much they may regret that a loftier morality was not combined with mental powers so transcendent, they will be reluctant to forego the homage paid to Christianity by one of the most imperial intellects among the sons of men, and they will be anxious to hope that, amidst manifold infirmities, "the root of the matter was found" in him.
I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue. The Roman word is better-impedimenta. For, as the baggage is *See ante, page 124.
to an army, so are riches to virtue. It cannot be spared, nor left behind; but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory. Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. So, saith Solomon, "Where much is there are many to consume it; and what hath the owner, but the sight of it with his eyes?" The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them, or a power of dole and donative of them, or a fame of them, but no solid use to the owner. Do you not see what feigned prices are set upon little stones and rarities? and what works of ostentation are undertaken, because there might seem to be some use of great riches? But then, you will say, they may be of use, to buy men out of dangers and troubles. As Solomon saith, Riches are as a stronghold in the imagination of the rich man. But this is excellently expressed-that it is in imagination, and not always in fact: for, certainly, great riches have sold more men than they have bought out. Seek not proud riches; but such as thou mayst get justly, use soberly, distribute cheerfully, and leave contentedly. The poets feign, that when Plutus, which is riches, is sent from Jupiter, he limps, and goes slowly; but when he is sent from Pluto, he runs, and is swift of foot: meaning, that riches gotten by good means and just labour, pace slowly; but when they come by the death of others, as by the course of inheritance, testaments, and the like, they come tumbling upon a man. But it might be applied likewise to Pluto, taking him for the devil; for when riches come from the devil, as, by fraud, and oppression, and unjust means, they come upon speed. The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul. Parsimony is one of the best, and yet is not innocent; for it withholdeth men from works of liberality and charity. The improvement of the ground is the most natural obtaining of riches; for it is our great mother's blessing, the earth's: but it is slow.
And yet, where men of great wealth stoop to husbandry, it multiplieth riches exceedingly. I knew a nobleman in England that had the greatest audits of any man in my time; a great grazier, a great sheep-master, a great timber-man, a great collier, a great corn-master, a great lead-man, and so of iron and a number of the like points of husbandry, so as the earth seemed a sea to him, in respect of the perpetual importation. It was truly observed by one, that himself came very hardly to a little riches, and very easily to great riches. For when a man's stock is come to that, that he can expect the prime of markets, and overcome those bargains which, for their greatness, are few men's money, and be partner in the industries of younger men, he cannot but increase mainly. The gains of ordinary trades and vocations are honest, and furthered by two things-chiefly by diligence, and by a good name for good and fair dealings. The fortune in being the first in an invention or in a privilege, doth cause sometimes a wonderful overgrowth in riches, as it was with the first sugar-man in the Canaries. Therefore, if a man can play the true logician, to have as well judgment as invention, he may do great matters, especially if the times be fit. He that resteth upon gains certain, shall hardly grow to great riches; and he that puts all upon adventures, doth oftentimes break, and come to poverty: it is good, therefore, to guard adventures with certainties that may uphold losses. Believe not much them that seem to despise riches; for they despise them that despair of them, and none worse when they come to them. Be not pennywise riches have wings, and sometimes they fly away of themselves; sometimes they must be set flying, to bring in Men leave their riches either to their kindred or to the public; and moderate portions prosper best in both. A great estate left to an heir, is as a lure to all the birds of prey round about, to seize on him, if he be not the better established in years and judgment. Likewise, glorious gifts and foundations are