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books subversive of Henry's assumed authority.62 After this he had been called up to town by the Lord Privy Seal, and sent with Grafton to France.
But again, and as to the Latin text which had been used, and that even in the Testament which had been printed at Paris, under his own eye, in his preface to the reader, Coverdale expresses himself thus :
“ As touching this text in Latin, and the style thereof, which is read in the Church, and is commonly called St. Jerome's translation, though there be in it many and sundry sentences, whereof some be more than the Greek, some less than the Greek, some in manner repugnant to the Greek, some contrary to the rules of the Latin tongue, and to the right order thereof, as thou mayest easily perceive, if thou compare the diversity of the interpreters together, yet forasmuch as I am but a private man, and ove obedience unto the higher powers, I refer the amendment and reformation hereof unto the same, and to such as excel in authority and knowledge."
And thus once more are we constrained to observe the important distinction which must ever be drawn between Tyndale and Coverdale, whether as men, or as translators. They travelled in two paths, altogether distinct. The latter chose to express himself, in his dedications to Henry and Crumwell, as having a mind entirely at their disposal ; while no sentiments could be more definite, and held with a firmer grasp, than those of the first noble and independent translator. As for the Greek original, he had kept a vigilant eye on the successive editions of Erasmus, which Coverdale had not ; and with regard to the Hebrew, after quoting his expressions respecting the Hebraisms to be found in Matthew, it has been well said—“ That a person who could thus write of St. Matthew's Hebraisms, should be compelled by ignorance to translate from the Septuagint, or the Latin Vulgate, is perfectly incredible ; and that he would use the latter from choice, is inconceivable. We ought to remember that this translator's troubles chiefly arose from his determination to resist the imposition of an authorised version, and that his whole life was a series of hostilities against the defenders of the Latin
As for the blind submission of his translation, therefore, to any man living, but, above all, to those before whom Coverdale bowed so profoundly, against this he had boldly published his dissent, above seven
62 They were still using the old books to such extent, that Coverdale supposes there had been great and culpable neglect in LONGLAND, Bishop of Lincoln, that steady disciple of “the old learning ;" and Coverdale desires to know from Crum well, whether he ought not to burn the books caught, and coming in to him, at the Market Cross. See three MS. letters to Crumwell as Lord Privy Seal, found in the Chapter-house, Westminster, but now in the State Paper Office, dated Newbury, the 7th and 8th of Feb., and 8th of March, (1538.] From the contents of the letters, in one of which young Prince Eduard is mentioned, it is evident that a mark in the indorsation, viz. Ao xxxo, cannot refer to the year or date. If so, it is a mistake; though it may indicate the bundle, once in the Chapter-house.
63 “ Historical and Critical Enquiry," by J. W. Whitaker, A.M., p. 46. He is repelling the insinuations of those who knew no better, from old Fuller down to Bellamy.
years ago, or five before his death, and it had circulated throughout his native land.
“ Under what manner,” said he, “ should I now submit this book to be corrected and amended of them, which can suffer nothing to be well? Or what protestation should I make in such a matter to our Prelates, which so mightily fight against God, and resist his Holy Spirit, enforcing, with all craft and subtlety, to quench the light of the everlasting Testament, promises, and appointment between God and us.”
Yet is this the very translation which has now prevailed ; so manifest was the interposition of Providence, in every point of view.
But to proceed. Coverdale, good easy man, even tried to screen his former friend, the printer, if not the corrector ;-“ As for my part, though it hath been damage to my poor name, I heartily remit it.” This distinct reprobation of Nycolson's Testament, did not however prevent Nycolson from putting forth another impression, to which he affixed the name of Johan Hollybushe.64 After this it may naturally be supposed Coverdale's countenance of the man must have come to an end. He is said to have called in the copies with his name, and hence they are so very rare.
The tide having so providentially and happily turned last year, this was a state of things for which some remedy must be sought. And, therefore, before Crumwell knew of the honour intended for him, by the dedication of the Paris production ; aiming after a fixed standard, and that the translation sanctioned last year, an Inhibition had been issued. It is curious that it should have reached Paris, the day before that on which Grafton wrote his letter, and it was felt as if applying to what they had done, though it could only have reference to Nycolson's books, and to prevent more mischief.
“ The day before this present,” says Grafton, came there a post named Nycolas, which brought your Lordship’s letters to my Lord of Hereford, with the which was bound a certain inhibition for printing of books, and for adding of these words, cum privilegio.' Then, as soon as my Lord of Hereford had received it, he sent immediately for Mr. Coverdale and me, reading the same thing to us; in the which is expressed that we should add these words, ' ad imprimendum solum,'—which words we never heard of before. Neither do we take it that these words should be added in the Scripture, if it be truly translated ; for then should it be a great occasion to the enemies to say, that it is not the King's act or mind to set it forth, but only to license the printers to sell such as is put forth.65 Wherefore we beseech your Lordship to take no displeasure for that we have done, for rather than any such thing should happen, we would do it again, but I trust the thing itself is so well done, that it shall not only please your Lordship, but also the King's Highness, and all the godly in the realm.66
64 Not a fictitious name, but a man employed by Nycolson, and who seems to have gone to Cologne.--Herbert's Ames, pp. 1450-16:35.
65 But Nycolson had taken upon him to print expressly even on this Testamentą" Set forth with the King's most gracious license !"
“ And whereas your Lordship has added in the said Inhibition, that your Lordship, and all the King's most Honourable Council, willeth no book henceforth to be put in print, but that first it be allowed, at the least, by one Bishop, we most humbly beseech your Lordship to appoint certain thereto, that they may be as ready to read them, as other good men be to put them forth. For it is now seten years since the Bishops promised to translate and set forth the Bible, and as yet they have no leisure.”
Having thus paid our last visit to the Continent for a number of years to come, that is, so far as the printing of the Scriptures in our native tongue is immediately concerned ; we gladly return to old England, and enquire after its actual moral condition, and especially what effect the Word of Life seems, by this time, to have produced.
In conclusion of this year, as a striking illustration of the times, and as one proof that we have not been magnifying the importance of the labours of our first translator of the Sacred Volume, the miserably destitute state of England, with regard to oral instruction by preaching, so far as men nominally called to it were concerned, now deserves to be specially observed. The 6
ministry of the Word of God," so clearly enjoined in Scripture, was a subject not comprehended by men in official power; and though it had, the men who were in charge of what were termed benefices, or cures, glaringly did not understand it; nay, they were the determined adherents of a system, diametrically at variance with that imperative commission which the Saviour at his ascension left to be obeyed. Instead of taking up Christianity, therefore, as a system of belief, to be drawn fresh from the Oracles of God alone, and received into the heart of man-instead of recognising the absolute necessity of heartfelt repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, in the first instance, and in all cases, but above all, in men denominated Ministers of Christ : to enforce the reading of what was not beloved, and the preaching (if they could preach) what was not believed, the Vicegerent of Henry had conceived to be the only expedient. It was not the public sanction of the Scriptures last year, that would ever have induced these official underlings throughout the Counties of England, even to have looked into the Sacred Volume. To pray with the
66 They had printed “ Cum gratia et privilegio Regis."
. spirit and with the understanding also, was beyond their power, and to preach that Gospel which they did not themselves believe or comprehend, might have seemed a hopeless task to enjoin.67 Such, however, was the actual condition of the country, with regard to the governors and the governed, generally speaking; and had there not been now, as we have traced all along, a sacred cause independent altogether of both parties, nay, in spite of them, there would have been no reason whatever, in the year 1538, for any exultation over the progress
of events. Meanwhile, the injunctions of Crumwell, already quoted, as to the Bible itself, (p. 33,) had been thought necessary, on account of the indifference of these official men to the sanction of the Sacred Volume, and therefore the entire injunctions were thus enforced at the close
“ All which and singular injunctions, I minister to you and your successors, by the King's Highness authority to me committed in this part, which I charge and command you by the same authority to observe and keep, upon pain of deprivation, sequestration of your fruits, or such other coercion as to the King's Highness, or his Vicegerent for the time being, shall seem convenient."
When these injunctions, however, did come abroad, still it is impossible to condescend upon any number, however small, who were qualified to obey. Few they must have been, and far between. But supposing, for one moment, that the orders given had been literally fulfilled, and that all who were enjoined to preach, had actually done so ; how far did the injunction itself reach?
“ Item--That ye shall make, or cause to be made, in the said church, and every other cure ye have, one sermon, etery quarter of the year, at least, wherein ye shall purely and sincerely declare the very gospel of Christ, and in the same exhort your hearers to the works of charity, mercy, and faith, especially prescribed and commanded in Scripture, and not to repose their trust and affiance in any other works devised by men's fantasies besides Scripture; as in wandering to pilgrimages, offering of money, candles or tapers to images and re. lics, saying over a number of beads,” &c.
Such was the deplorable state of the people at large, and such the miserable provision proposed for their instruction,
67 This melancholy state of things, it is well known, led, before long, to two expedients ; vis. the actual selection of prayers, for them to repeat ; nay, and to homilies or discourses, which Diese men were to preach!
when addressing those Bishops ; among whom we have seen the deadliest enemies of a cause, which they could not destroy, nor even retard in its progress.
Happily, however, there had long been certain other men in the country, and readers not a few, besides these slumberers whom Crumwell was now striving to rouse ; nay, and other listeners too, who, far from looking to official men, who could not teach, and would not learn, had tarried not for Henry the Eighth, nor waited for his Vicegerent. No sooner do we turn to them, though long despised, than a very different prospect rises to view; the vivid contrast to four sermons in the course of a year! The free permission of the Scriptures now rendered this scene more visible and striking. It is from a contemporary document that Strype has drawn it.
“ It was wonderful to see with what joy this book of God was received not only among the learneder sort, but generally all England over, among all the vulgar and common people ; and with what greediness God's Word was read, and what resort to places where the reading of it was! Every body that could, bought the book, or busily read it, or got others to read it to them, if they could not themselces. Dicers more elderly people learned to read on purpose ; and even little boys flocked, among the rest, to hear portions of the Holy Scripture read.”
The modern reader may now once more very naturally exclaim“ Oh, could these men in power then have only been persuaded to have let such people alone! Could they have only understood the doctrine of non-interference !" Yes, and instead of encumbering a willing people with help, or tormenting them by interposition, have stood aloof in silence, and permitted these groups or gatherings to have heard the unambiguous voice of their God, and to have gazed upon the majesty and the meaning of Divine Truth !
The Sacred Scriptures, however, were now to be printed in England; nor was there to be another foreign edition of the volume entire for inore than twenty years, or till the year 1560. We have come, therefore, to a memorable epoch or point of time. The time when the line of distinction is to be drawn between foreign books and those printed at home; between the Scriptures printed beyond seas for importation, and those to be prepared within our own shores ; and in that metropolis, which, fifteen years ago, Tyndale had left in a