This good man was born at Ludlow, in Shropshire, in the year 1539. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford; and graduated in 1570, with great applause. Three years after, he was made chaplain and Fellow of Baliol College; and as Anthony Wood says, was "another Apollos, mighty in the Scriptures," also "a solid preacher, a most noted disputant, and a most learned divine." He was made Doctor in Divinity in 1584. The next year, when Robert Dudley, the famous Earl of Leicester, was sent as governor of the Netherlands, then just emancipated from the Spanish yoke, Dr. Holland went with him in the capacity of chaplain. In 1589, he succeeded the celebrated Dr. Lawrence Humphrey as the King's Professor of Divinity, a duty for which he was eminently qualified, and in which he trained up many distinguished scholars. He was elected Rector of Exeter College in 1592; an office he filled with great reputation for twenty years, being regarded as a universal scholar, and a prodigy of literature. His reputation extended to the continent, and he was held in high esteem in the universities of Europe. These were the leading events in his studious life.
As to his character, he was a man of ardent piety, a thorough Calvinist in doctrine, and a decided non-conforming Puritan in matters of ceremony and church discipline. In the public University debates, he staunchly maintained that "bishops are not a distinct order from presbyters, nor at all superior to them by the Word of God." He stoutly resisted the popish innovations which Bancroft and Laud strove too successfully to introduce at Oxford. When the execrable Laud, afterwards the odious Archbishop of Canterbury, was going through his exercises as candidate for the degree of Bachelor in Divinity, in 1604, he contended "that there could be no true churches without diocesan episcopacy." For this, the young aspirant was sharply and publicly rebuked by Dr. Holland, who presided on the occasion; and who severely reprehended that future Primate of all England, as "one who sought to sow discord among brethren, and between the Church of England and the Reformed Churches abroad."
As a preacher, Dr. Holland was earnest and solemn. His extemporary discourses were usually better than his more elaborate preparations. As a student, it was said of him, that he was so "immersed in books," that this propensity swallowed up almost every other. In the translation of our Bible he took a very prominent part. This was the crowning work of his life. He died March 16th, 1612, a few months after this most important version was completed and published. He attained to the age of seventy-three years.
The translation being finished, be spent most of his time in meditation and prayer. Sickness and the infirmities of age quickened into greater life his desires for heaven. In the hour, of his departure he exclaimed, "Come, Oh come, Lord Jesus, thou bright and morning star! Come, Lord Jesus; I desire to be dissolved and be with thee." He was buried with great funeral solemnities in the chancel of St. Mary's, Oxford.
One of his intimate associates and fellow translators; Dr. Kilby, preached his funeral sermon. In this sermon it is said of him, "that he had a wonderful knowledge of all the learned languages, and of all arts and sciences, both human and divine. He was mighty in the Scriptures; and so familiarly acquainted with the Fathers, as if he himself had been one of them; and so versed in the Schoolmen, as if he were the Seraphic Doctor. He was, therefore, most worthy of the divinity-chair, which he filled about twenty years, with distinguished approbation and applause. He was so celebrated for his preaching, reading, disputing, moderating, and all other excellent qualifications, that all who knew him commended him, and all who heard of him admired him." In illustration of his zeal for purity in faith and worship, and against all superstition and idolatry, the same sermon informs us, that, whenever he took a journey, he first called together the Fellows of his College, for his parting charge, which always ended thus, "I commend you to the love of God, and to the hatred of all popery and superstition!"* He published several learned orations and one sermon. He left many manuscripts ready for the press; but as they fell into hands unfriendly to the Puritanism they contained, they were never published.
*(Commendo vos dilectioni, Dei, et odio papatus et superstitionis.)
Among those grove and erudite, divines to whom all the generations which have read the Bible in the English tongue are so greatly indebted, a place is duly assigned to Dr. Richard Kilby. He was a native of Raddiff on the river Wreak, in Liecestershire. He went to Oxford and when he had been at the University three years, was chosen Fellow of Lincoln College, m 1577 He took orders, and became a preacher of note m the University. In 1590, he was chosen Rector of his College, and made Prebendary of the cathedral church of Lincoln. He was considered so accurate in Hebrew studies, that he was appointed the King's Professor in that branch of literature. Among the fruits of his studies, he left a commentary on Exodus, chiefly drawn from the writings of the Rabbinical interpreters. He died in the year 1620, at the age of sixty.
These are nearly all the vestiges remaining of him. There is one incident, however, related by "honest Izaak Walton," in his life of the celebrated Bishop Sanderson. The incident, as described by the amiable angler, is such a fine historical picture of the times, and so apposite to the purpose of this little volume, that it must be given in Walton's own words.
"I must here stop my reader, and tell him that this Dr. Kilby was a man of so great learning and wisdom, and so excellent a critic in the Hebrew tongue, that he was made professor of it in this University; and was also so perfect a Grecians that he was by King James appointed to be one of the translators of the Bible; and that this Doctor and Mr. Sanderson had frequent, discourses, and loved as father and son. The Doctor was to ride a journey into Derbyshire, and took Mr. Sanderson to bear him company; and they, resting on a Sunday with the Doctor's friend, and going together to that parish church where they then were, found the young preacher to have no more discretion, than to waste a great part of the hour allotted for his sermon m exceptions against the late translation of several words, (not expecting such a hearer as Dr. Kilby,) and shewed three reasons why a particular word should have been otherwise translated. When evening prayer was ended, the preacher was invited to the Doctor's friend's house, where, after some other conference, the Doctor told him, he might have preached more useful doctrine, and not have filled his auditors' ears with needless exceptions against the late translation; and for that word for which he offered to that poor congregation three reasons why it ought to have, been translated as he said, he and others had considered all them, and found thirteen more considerable reasons why it was translated as now printed; and told him, 'If his friend,' (then attending him,) 'should prove guilty of such indiscretion, he should forfeit his favor.' To which Mr. Sanderson said, 'He hoped he should not.' And the preacher was so ingenuous as to say, He would not justify himself.' And so I return to Oxford."
This digression of honest Izaac's pen may serve to illustrate the magisterial bearng of the "heads of colleges," and other great divines of those times; and also, what has now become much rarer, the humility and submissiveness of the younger brethren. It also furnishes an incidental proof of the considerate and patient care with which our venerable Translators studied the verbal accuracy of their work. When we hear young licentiates, green from the seminary, displaying their smatterings of Hebrew and Greek by cavilling in their sermons at the common version, and pompously telling how it ortght to have been rendered, we cannot but wish that the apparition of Dr. Kilby's frowning ghost might haunt them. Doubtless the translation is susceptible of improvement in certain places; but this is not a task for every new-fledged graduate; nor can it be very often attempted without shaking the confidence of the common people [in] our unsurpassed version, and without causing "the trumpet to give an uncertain sound."
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