Зображення сторінки

foreign types, presses, and workmen, could not have been done.

The sale, as well as the publication of these Bibles, was regulated by government. By the minutes of the privy council, held at Greenwich, April 25th, 1541, we learn, that "it was agreed, that Anthony Marler, of London, merchant, might sell the Bibles of the Great Bible, unbound, for xs. sterling [equal to £7 10s. of the present currency), and bound, being trimmed with bullyons, for XIIS. sterling, or equal to £9,9* or to nearly forty-four dollars.

Anthony Marler, of London, here first distinctly brought before us in connection with this important work of publishing English Bibles, was neither a printer nor a bookseller by profession, but a member of the honorable company of haberdashers.t Yet he must have been a princely man; for on him, not on the king, nor the archbishop, nor any of the nobility of the realm, but on plain “ Anthony Marler, haberdasher," as he signs himself, devolved the entire expense and risk of the numerous and costly folio Bibles which were published in London during these two eventful years of the Reformation. And this expense, judging from the regulated prices of the books, and from what Grafton invested in the edition of 1537,cu.id

* Anderson, 11. 142.

† " Haberdasher. One who deals in miscellaneous goods, or small wares, as ribbons, tape, pins, needles, thread, twist, buttons, trimmings, etc.” Worcester's Dictionary.

not have been less than four or five thousand pounds sterling ; which, for those times, was a very large sum of money; equal to at least five times that amount now, or to twenty or twenty-five thousand pounds sterling, or nearly five times as many thousand dollars! Thus did God raise up men and means to do his own blessed work!

During the six years between 1535, when the first Bible in English was printed, and the end of 1541, not less than fifteen distinct editions of the entire Bible, in English, twenty editions of the New Testament, and sixteen or eighteen editions of parts of the Old and New Testaments — many of them with postils or commentaries attached were issued from the press. And, if these editions averaged, as they undoubtedly did, two thousand impressions each, there were scattered over England, or laid up in store for future use, in the course of these memorable years during which the Word of God was permitted to have “free course,” not less than thirty thousand Bibles, forty thousand New Testaments, and between thirty and forty thousand copies of parts of the Bible! A glorious seed-sowing for future ages!

The brief review which has now been taken of the more important acts and transactions which

* Cotton's list gives eighteen editions of the entire English Bible, and twenty-two editions of the New Testament. ---Pp. 8-18. Anderson's list contains twenty-six editions of the New Testament, and fifteen editions of the whole Bible. – Vol. 11. Index, viii.-X.

mark the progress of the English Reformation, from about the year 1527 to the end of 1541, will help the reader to trace the gradual development of the principles embodied and confessed by the Congregationalists of a subsequent period.

[blocks in formation]

It must not be supposed that the work of turning the pope out of England - the strong man armed” out of his palace -- was accomplished without hard fighting. If “ Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, the dragon fought and his angels," too.* The pope did not yield his sovereignty in England without a death-struggle. He unscrupulously availed himself of traitors within and enemies without. He stirred up the Romish nobility of the kingdom, to rebel against their sovereign; and he summoned the kings of the earth to make war on the heretical English. Most of the dignified clergy of the land, too, were the pope's friends, and did their utmost to prevent the work of reform, or to overturn it after it had been effected ; while many of the inferior clergy, and especially the monks and friars, were ever ready to excite the people against the Reformation, at the bidding of their superiors, because it threatened the extinction of the despotic and profitable power of the priesthood over the poor, ignorant devotees of popery. Against all these coöperating enemies the reformers were compelled to fight their upward way. And, though we may be constrained to condemn the despotic character of the great ruler who sat at the helm of state during those terrible days of storm and tempest, yet may we well doubt whether any sovereign less absolute, unyielding, fearless, and energetic than Henry VIII., could have safely weathered the storm.

* Bishop Burnet, in his Introduction to the history of the Reformation in 1535, says : - “The king having passed through the traverses and tossings of his suit of divorce, and having, with the concurrence both of his clergy and parliament, brought about what he had projected, seemed now at ease in his own dominions. But though matters were carried in public assemblies smoothly and successfully, yet there were many secret discontents, which being fomented both by the pope and the emperor's agents, wrought him great trouble, so that the rest of his life was full of vexation and disquiet.” And he further tells us, that “all who were zealously addicted to what they called the old religion, were everywhere meeting together, and consulting what should be done for suppressing heresy and preserving the catholic faith.” - Vol. 1. pt. I. bk. III. p. 361.

Let us look for a moment at some of the items in this general account of obstacles over which the English Reformation triumphed.

One of the early hostile movements against the Reformation was the plot of certain priests and monks, with the cognizance, if not the coöperation of several high dignitaries in Church and State, to frighten the king out of his scheme for divorcing Catharine. The instrument employed was a poor

« НазадПродовжити »