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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Samuel Ward - Strength in meekness

Samuel Ward (1) was born 1572, (baptized 13th January, 1572) at Bishop Middleham, in the county of Durham. He was the son of John Ward, a man of ‘more ancientry than estate’ (BL, Harleian MS 7038, p. 355). Little more is known of his early days.

Student days

Ward studied at Cambridge, where he was at first a student of Christ’s College in 1589. His financial condition while a student was precarious: James Montagu and William Perkins helped him with his college debts. Ward suffered from a speech impediment that almost made him abandon divinity for its public speaking expectations, in favour of mathematics (Sidney Sussex College, MS 45, fols. 51, 46v). It was Perkins who persuaded him to stay with theology. He graduated BA in 1593. In 1595 he was elected to a fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and in the following year proceeded M.A. In 1599 he became a Fellow of the newly established Sidney Sussex College. He proceeded BD from Emmanuel in 1603 and DD from Sidney Sussex in 1610. Thus, Ward spent the first forty years of his life entirely focused on academic study.

Puritanical zeal

Ward is perhaps best remembered for his diary and sermon notebook, kept from 1592 to 1601. These, along with other notebooks collected in the Sidney Sussex archives, reveal that in his youth he was a vigorous and outspoken puritan, devoted to biblical studies and inclined to intense introspection and self-condemnation for even trivial sins.

On May 13, 1595, in his diary he castigates himself for "My desire of preferment overmuch." Often he addressed himself in the second person. Thus that same day he wrote "Thy wandering regard in the chapel at prayer time." May 17 "Thy gluttony the night before." May 23, "My sleeping without remembering my last thought, which should have been of God." May 26 "Thy dullness this day in hearing God's word . . . thy sin of pride . . . thy by-thoughts at prayer-time same evening." June 14 "My negligence. . . in sleeping immediately after dinner. . . . in hearing another sermon sluggishly.June 12 "My too much drinking after supper." June 22 "My immoderate diet of eating cheese." June 27 "My going to drink wine and that in the tavern before I called upon God." July 8 "My immoderate laughter in the hall." July 15th "My incontinent thoughts at Hobson's." (2)
Nicolson gives his own helpful insights into Ward's famous diary, citing many examples of the thought habits of a Puritan's world view. (3)

Presumably, we are wise to think that, by listing in a short space the sins of pride, impurity, sloth and greed, Ward thereby made himself more aware of a need for God's grace and for the "fruit of the Spirit" in his daily life - this in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. The result of such discipline meant he attained a godly name in maturity. Such concerns did not diminish with the passage of years:
. . . [H]is mature vernacular sermons show a continuity in his experimental spirituality, and his complaints about corruption and ‘novelties’ in the church and about popular irreligion continued throughout his life. . . . His actions . . all identify him with a puritan opposition and won him approbation . . . . Puritans regularly consulted him about matters of conscience, judging him ‘a man famous for learning and of high estimation … for his soundness of faith and integrity of conversation’, as Nicholas Estwick remarked in 1634. (Bodl. Oxf., MS Tanner 71, fols. 186–7)
At his death, forty eight years later, a funeral oration was given in Great St Mary's . . . and a sermon was preached by Ralph Brownrigg [which was] the most eloquent tribute to Ward's saintly life [and] his scholarship.
An ardent admirer of William Perkins and of Laurence Chaderton, he was like them much troubled by the introduction of popish ‘ceremonies’ into the Church of England, by clergy ‘too pontifical and papistical’, and generally by the ‘sins of the land’, especially ‘want of zeal’ and ‘coldness in our holy profession’ (Sidney Sussex College, Ward MS B, fols. 30v–31; MS 45, fol. 62v) . He was thus a natural choice for election to a fellowship of Emmanuel College . . and . . to the mastership of the newest puritan foundation, Sidney Sussex College, where he remained until his death. (4)
Sidney Sussex College was a Puritan institution and as Master, Ward welcomed Oliver Cromwell to the student body April 23rd, 1616, the same day William Shakespeare died (5). Ward showed a virulent anti-Catholicism when editing Perkins's work, and from 1610 to 1643 he actively prosecuted those who articulated ‘popish’ notions when delivering university sermons.

His scholarship and preaching

William Perkins arranged with him to posthumously publish his treatise in 1611, Problema de Romanae fidei ementito Catholicismo, Ward published it with a preface addressed to James I, to whom he was shortly afterwards appointed chaplain. A small collection of Ward's English sermons survive (Sidney Sussex College, Ward MS 0.8) which show that their concern with the state of the hearer's heart. His language aimed to stir the emotions. There are also Latin sermons more academic, which differ strongly from the tone and style of his vernacular preaching. They are more restrained, being argued with rigorous logic and narrowly focused on theological topics.

Theological Scholarship

Ward's principal commitments were always to his college, to biblical and theological scholarship, and especially to the maintenance of Calvinist orthodoxy. . . also he devoted attention to areas of scholarship rather new to early modern universities. [He was] highly regarded by the other college heads for meticulous scholarship and integrity of life. . . . The preponderance of both his writing and his use of time was always for theological ends.(4)

Whilst translating the KJV during this period (1604 - 1609) he established a relationship with Archbishop James Ussher, whom he assisted in his research of the early 'church fathers.' Says McClure, "his correspondence with Archbishop Usshur reveals traits of diversified learning, especially in biblical and oriental criticism."

Synod of Dort

As an outspoken Calvinist, Ward was chosen in 1618 to be one of the English delegates to the synod of Dort in Holland. Letters addressed to him there from various scholars survive. One participant, Simon Episcopius, found him the most learned member of the synod. (J. Hacket, Sermons, 1675, xxvi). According to McClure

The object of the Synod . . . was to settle the doctrinal disputes which . . had been very sharp between Calvinists, who adhered to the old national faith, and the followers of Arminius, who innovated . . The points in dispute related to divine predestination, the nature and extent of the atonement, the corruption of man, his conversion to God, and the perseverance of saints. These five points are explained in some sixty “canons,” which were “confirmed by the unanimous consent of all and each of the members of the whole Synod.” The Dordrechtan Canons are, perhaps, the most careful and exact statement of the Calvinist belief, in scientific form, that has ever been drawn up.
On his return, Dr. Ward resumed his duties as head of Sidney Sussex College, and became Vice-Chancellor of the University. In the same year, he was made Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, which office he held for over twenty years.

A Bible Translator

Ward was a member of the second Cambridge company, charged with translating the Apocrypha. At age twenty-seven he was the youngest of all the translators and a chaplain to the King. After the KJV was published in 1611, some printing errors brought about a reprint under Charles I, in 1638. This was a Cambridge edition revised by Samuel Ward and John Bois, two of the original Translators who still survived, and assisted by other learned men. At the Synod of Dort (1618) Ward explained the procedure and rationale for the KJV. He says each of the six companies provided two revisers for the final revision, making twelve in all. By the time Miles Smith and Thomas Bilson 'put the finishing touches to the whole,' 'all things had been maturely weighed and examined.' (5) The overall aim of the project was explained

Caution was given that an entirely new version was not to be furnished, but an old version, long received by the Church, to be purged from all blemishes and faults.(5)

If today's critical text is accurate, they must have miserably failed in their objective!

Why translate the Apocrypha?

Just as today we purchase Study Bibles containing extensive notes and comments, so the Apocrypha was commonly included for reference purposes in Reformation Bibles, and in many languages, until the 19th century. There were good reasons, however, for excluding them as time went on.

First, Old Testament Jewish scribes never acknowledged the Apocryphal books as sacred Scripture. When Jesus appealed to the Law, the Prophets and Psalms (Luke 24: 44), he was acknowledging a settled canon of Old Testament Scripture, which did not include these books. Little wonder, since not one of them was written in Hebrew - and Greek was not accepted as a valid medium of inspiration in Jewry. Neither do these books anywhere - explicitly or implictly - claim to be inspired. It is thus entirely consistent that the Church excluded them from the pages of Scripture during the first four centuries. They contain some fictional narrative and statements which contradict both the canonical Scriptures, as well as their own statements in other places. Where and how did Antiochus Epiphanes die, for example? In the two Books of Maccabees, three options are possible, and are given in as many places. Prayers for the dead and the possibility of sinless perfection are taught, yet both of these are at variance with Biblical teaching. Immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination, and magical incantation, are described, in an apparently approving way.

Knowing of these shortcomings, it was still thought wise to include some record of the centuries intervening between the two Testaments. For example, 1 Maccabees is a valuable and mostly accurate record worth of study. Thus, the apocryphal books were included in the original King James Version as a matter of course, as they were in all previous versions from Wycliffe (c. 1384) onwards. This includes the Calvinistic Geneva Bible of 1560. Not until the 1640 edition of the Geneva Bible is there mention of deliberate omission of the Apocrypha. Nevertheless, from the Biblical viewpoint, Samuel Ward's scholarship was not thereby 'wasted' on the Apocrypha. The entire body of scholars employed on the KJV translation were called on to evaluate and repeatedly revise the canonical books, as the translation process proceeded.

End of days

Samuel Ward was an upholder of the divine right of Kings, Consequently, when the English civil war broke out, Ward supported the cause of Charles 1st and, with his authority as the Vice-Chancellor of the University, sent the college-plate to be coined for the King’s use. Parliament in response deprived him of his professorship and mastership, and confiscated his goods. Also in 1642, along with three other heads of colleges involved in the same transaction, he was imprisoned in St. John’s College for a short time. During this confinement, he became fatally ill and died in 1643. Some Latin verses addressed to him by Dr. Thomas Goad show the high esteem he won. Rendered at the close in English, it suggests a strong forceful character, with a meek and quiet spirit expressed in a turbulent age:
None thy quick sight, grave judgment, can beguile,
So skilled in tongues, so sinewy in style;
Add to all these that peaceful soul of thine,
Meek, modest, which all brawlings doth decline.(4)

(1) The scholar is not to be confused with Samuel Ward (minister)
(2) Payne, Gustavus, (1959/1977)The men behind the King James version, MI: Bakerpp. 62 - 63
(3) Nicolson, Adam. (2003) Power and glory: Jacobean England and the making of the King James Bible, Lon: Harper. pp. 125-128
(4) Todd, Margo. (2004) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(5) Bobrick, Benson. (2001) The Making of the English Bible Lon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, p. 238, 258

This is 25/52.
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