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of St. Davids. Cranmer, who saw that his brethren only desired to get rid of the translation altogether, then finally told them that he “ would stick close to the will and pleasure of the King his Master, and that the Universities should examine the translation.” This, however, after all turned out as though it had been simply an expedient adopted for putting an end to the foolish proposal of submitting the Word of God to the revision of
such men; for even the Universities never were consulted !!
To have ruined Marler, the worthy member of the Haberdasher's Company, in the eyes of the Convocation, would have been quite an achievement; but Anthony's precious property was now safe, and it seems that something more inust instantly be said respecting it. It is singular that forty-eight hours were not allowed to pass away! Cranmer must have immediately informed the King of his final reply; and now, so far from looking to any University, out came the following authoritativecommunication, dated on (Sunday) the 12th of March 1542; thus verifying the old proverb—“ the better day, the better deed.”
“ Henry the Eighth &c.—To all Printers of books within this realm, to all our Officers, Ministers, and Subjects, these our Letters, hearing or seeing, greeting. We let you wit, that we, for certain causes convenient, of our Grace special, have given and granted to our well-beloved subject, Anthony Marler, citizen and Haberdasher of our city of London, only to print the Bible in our English tongue, authorised by us, himself or his assigns. And we command that no manner of persons within these our dominions shall print the said Bible, or any part thereof, within the space of four years next ensuing the printing of the said book, by our said subject or his assigns. And further, we will and command our true subjects, and all strangers, that none presume to print the said work, or break this our commandment and privilege as they intend eschewe our punishment and high displeasure. Witness ourself at Westminster the xii day of March. Per brere de prirato sigillo. 1542.96
But why could not his Majesty have shown a little more delicacy? Why could he not wait, but a little while, till the
6 Patent Rolls, 33, H. VIII. Rymer's Federa, xiv., p. 745. “Though," says the editor of the Privy Council Minutes in 1837, "a great deal has been written about the early editions of the Bible, much still remains to be said, and it would otherwise be singular that Marler's connexion with those of 1540 and 1541 should now for the first time be pointed out, and more especially as the proclamation just cited was in Rymer above a century ago." Marler is indeed mentioned by Rapin and Ames; but the connexion has never before been fully explained. The editor, however, throws out a conjecture that Henry's letters may have been issued in 1541; but without positive evidence, the Patent Roll must not be questioned; more especially as the history now given shows that in March 1542, such letters had become more important than ever. After these Bishops had attempted to disturb all that had been done since 1537, it was far more necessary for the King to be imperative at this crisis, and settle the business. The sanction to Marler did so at once, and effectually.
Convocation was dissolved, and the Bishops had left the capital? They were still sitting, and continued to do so for more than a fortnight, or till the 29th of the month! Did his Majesty intend to pour contempt upon them, and hold them up to derision even while thus assembled? Whatever was his motive, certainly no mortification could be greater-no humiliation more complete. Their indignation, however, they must suppress for the present; though it will not be surprising should it burst out with great violence, as soon as they meet again. But let them do what they please, the sacred text will never again be submitted to their consideration. They may rave about Tyndale, execrate his name, wreck their vengeance upon his writings, and thus unwittingly, once more hold up to posterity the man to whom the nation stood most of all indebted; but his work will abide and prosper, and long after they have gone down to the grave.
As there were no more folio Bibles printed in Henry's reign, it has often been supposed that this was owing to the strength of the opposing party ; but the fact has now been accounted for in a manner more satisfactory. Let it only be observed that by the end of last year, or only four years and four months from August 1537, of Tyndale's translation, and based on Tyndale's, there had issued from the press not fewer than twelve editions of the entire Bible, ten in folio, and two in quarto. And it was well they had ; they were laid up in store, like Joseph's corn in Egypt, for the next four years. The inpression of each of those Bibles has been calculated as ranging from 1500 to 2500 copies : but say that there were 2000 copies on an average, here were more than twenty thousand Bibles, a most memorable fact, under all the circumstances. Many of the copies which had been printed since 1539 may have been yet for sale ; and Marler, it is evident was so overstocked, that he was afraid of ruin by his outlay. The King's letters in his favour now extended his privilege to December 1545, immediately after which we shall find that Grafton was at work again, with an edition of the New Testament.
But independently of this ample supply in folio and quarto, it must ever be remembered that there were many thousands of the New Testament long circulated, and reading far and wide throughout the country. We shall take the proof from one of the best of witnesses, and as it
came from the press in London, this very year. An admirer of Latimer's, who, in 1526, when only sixteen years of age, used to hear him preach, and George Stafford read lectures, at Cambridge, had then received certain impressions which were never to be erased from his mind. After mentioning Latimer's discourses, both in English and Latin, he then adds" at all of which, for the most part, I was present; and although at the time I was but a child of sixteen years old, (anno 1526,) yet I noted his doctrine as well as I could, partly reposing it in my memory, and partly committing it to writing. I was present, when with manifest authorities of God's Word, and invincible arguments, he proved in his sermons that the Holy Scriptures ought to be read in the English tongue by all Christian people, whether priests or laymen, as they are called.” “ Neither was I absent when he inveighed against empty works.” “ He so laboured earnestly, both in word and deed, to win and allure others into the love of Christ's doctrine, and his holy religion, that there is a common saying, which remains unto this day : when Master Stafford read and Master Latimer preached, then was Cambridge blessed." Stafford, of whom we heard before in 1526, had died soon after ; but Latimer was still in the Tower, where he will remain till after the death of his ungrateful Monarch.
This youth was Thomas Becon. Born about 1510, he was now 32, and proved, throughout life, one of the most laborious and useful men of his time. Last year, as well as this, he had been busy at the press, even in London, and had published three small pieces, two of which had, next year, already reached a second edition. In one of these he
“ I think there is no realm throughout Christendom, that hath so many urgent and necessary causes to give thanks to God, as we Englishmen have at this present. What ignorance and blindness was in this realm concerning the true and Christian knowledge ! How many (speaking ironically) savoured Christ aright? How many walked in the straight pathway of God's ordinances ? How many believed Christ to be the alone Saviour? How many trusted to be saved only by the merits of Christ's death, and the effusion of his most precious blood ? How many ran to God alone, either in their prosperity or adversity ? How many amplexed Christ for their sufficient Mediator and Advocate unto God the Father? How many felt the efficacy and power of the true and Christian faith? But nou -Christ's death is believed to be a sufficient sacrifice for them that are sanctified. Tue mosT SACRED BIBLE IS FREELY PERMITTED TO BE READ OF EVERY MAN IN TILE ENGLISH TONGUE. Many savour
Christ aright, and daily the number increaseth, thanks be to God. Christ is believed to be the alone Saviour. Christ is believed to be our sufficient Mediator and Advocate. The true and Christian faith, which worketh by charity, and is plenteous in good works, is now received to justify."7
Notwithstanding this attestation, however, let there be no surprise, though the clouds should still be gathering, and another storm await us soon.
PARLIAMENT OPENED-THE CONVOCATION BAFFLED, ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR
INABILITY TO STAY THE PROGRESS OF DIVINE TRUTH BY APPLYING NOW
PARLIAMENT was assembled this year on the 22d of January, and sat till the 12th of May.' The long-suffering of Heaven with such a Government, was, by this time, eminently conspicuous; but as the King on the throne had been overruled, and the cause of Divine Truth had hitherto not only baffled the Convocation, but laid it prostrate ; so if there were any remaining branch of authority about to prove so infatuated as to interfere, it was fit that it should be left to expose both its folly and weakness to posterity, by so doing. Its interference, however, may be traced to the infatuation and enmity of the Convocation ; for these being once infused into Parliament, there was nothing so foolish and contemptible, which they might not entertain and even enact. The Convocation as such, could not, of course, cross the threshold of the Senate ; but its leading members the Bishops might, being members
7 Prom “ The Right Pathway unto Prayer, by Theodore Basille, 1542." Under this assumed name Becon now published, and under this name his books will enjoy the honour of being condemned by Henry's final proclamation. There was a second edition of this tract next year, as if in defiance of the power vainly arrayed against the truth. In reading Foxe, it might be supposed that in 1541 Becon, apprehended by Bonner, was compelled to recant and burn his tracts, which had been much read; but this, of course, could not have happened before they were printed. The persecution of Becon has been more certainly ascribed to 1544, his writings being denounced two years after.
| The session, therefore, began in the 34th and ended in the 35th of the King's reign. If both Parliament and the Convocation be about to grant subsidies to the King to pay hin for his war with Scotland, let us watch and observe how he proceeded to treat his own English subjects in return for the money.
also of the Upper House, or Lords of Parliament. Hence the consequences.
In opposing the Sacred Scriptures in the vernacular tongue, the Convocation having so repeatedly discovered itself to be a powerless body, and more especially since the scene, or unceremonious treatment of last year; it had now seemed to the Bishops that only one mode of attack remained. It was their forlorn hope. They must admit, and now, in effect, acknowledged their own inefficiency, as a body, by introducing the subject into Parliament; but they will try what could be accomplished there. Providentially, however, by this time Tyndale's translation had been printed under other names, such as Matthew, Taverner, Cranmer, Tunstal and Heath ; for this translation having been retained in all the English Bibles, with very little variation, it was now impossible to reach it. It so happened, too, that there were, by this time, various editions of the Bible printed without note and comment. Marler's editions, as well as others, were of this character, and, backed by the stern authority of the King, there was no possibility of touching any of them. To show, however, to what a low pitch the miserable spite of the enemy was now reduced, as well as to display the servility of Parliament, now become proverbial, an Act was introduced which was actually entitled—“ An Act for the advancement of true Religion !”—and what were its provisions, nearly ten years after Henry had declared himself Head of the Church of England, and seventeen years after the New Testament had been introduced into our native land?
The name of Tyndale was the rallying point, and, in effect, the English Parliament must now furnish their tribute to his memory and talents. Upon setting off, by this Act his translation was branded and condemned as “ crafty, false, and untrue ;” although the translation actually reading in the churches ! though the translation which Tunstal had been constrained to sanction! though the translation which had been read with avidity since 1526, and that to which the people had discovered such attachment as to perish at the stake, sooner than abandon it ! 2
Parliament durst not con
2 To say nothing of its being the very translation, which, in the Psalms, many of the people in England read to the present hour, both in public and private.