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of Rome, entitled to no more respect, beyond the bounds of his own diocese, than any other Christian bishop; and illustrated the utter harmlessness of his excommunications and curses and interdicts, when unsupported by an efficient armed force. And this was not all that Henry did, though it was much, very much to do. He gave to the English nation the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in the English tongue! - a boon for which the Lollards had been struggling and dying for more than a century, and which no other English sovereign had ever dared to grant, in face of the fierce and deadly opposition of the Romish church. And in doing this, he laid a broad foundation for the rational liberty, the intellectual activity, and the moral superiority of the English people. Of the important principles and doctrines developed during his reign, particularly such as had reference to the order and discipline of the church, there will be occasion to speak more fully before we close the story of the Reformation.

But here it is appropriate to consider, how so radical a change in the religion of the country could be effected in so short a time; how the English could be induced to change their gods, as they did during the reign of Henry VIII. The only entirely satisfactory answer to this is, that the people of England - at least great numbers of them - must have been prepared beforehand for the change. This preparation had been going on secretly, under ground as it were, for a century or more; but it was greatly quickened by the Lutheran reformation, which immediately preceded the English reformation, and by the newly discovered power of the printing-press. Good men, who had , been driven out of England by the persecution which disgraced the first twenty years of Henry's reign, found refuge in Germany, and there increased their knowledge and strengthened their faith by an acquaintance with the great reformers on the continent, and the study of their works. To occupy their time, and to help forward the good cause in their native land, some of them set about translating the Scriptures, and some of the best works of the continental reformers, into English. These, with Wickliffe's tracts and commentaries, were printed and forwarded to England secretly, in packages of goods, in sacks of grain, and in other covert ways. In London these books and tracts were put into the hands of poor men, ignorant men, and despised men — so the great world reckoned them - who were banded together for the purpose of scattering the precious seed all over the kingdom, even at the hazard of their lives. Some of these good men were detected, and the story of their persecutions and sufferings for the truth's sake is deeply affecting.* Still the work went on. If one faithful laborer was cut down, another immediately took his place. Men who had, by the grace of God, been able to grope their way out of papal darkness into the marvellous light which God's own word sheds on the soul, were not to be restrained by wicked laws, or by prisons, or by the stake itself, from doing what they could to bring others into the same glorious light and liberty which they enjoyed. They recognized their deep obligation to Him who had said : “ Freely ye have received, freely give.” They had found peace and comfort and joy unspeakable in reading God's word in their own mother tongue, and had been helped to understand it by some simple commentary of Wickliffe's or Luther's, or some explanatory tract; and should they not carry these precious books to others, who needed their light and instruction as much as they themselves once did ?

* See Fox, 11. 209, 211–28, 250-69, and especially the affecting story of Garret, the book-distributor in Oxford and elsewhere, and of his friend, Dalaber, and others, at Oxford, pp. 435-41 ; also an account of the persecution of Clark, Sumner, Taverner, Frith, Garret, Dalaber, and others, several of them connected with Wolsey's college, at Oxford, about 1530-31, in Froude, II. 45-70, 84-87. See also Anderson's account. - Annals of the English Bible, vol. 1. sect. 3, p. 87, and onward.

As early as 1526, and perhaps before that date, there existed in London an organized club, called “ The Association of Christian Brothers," who had in view this very business of circulating Bibles and religious books.

" It was composed of poor men, chiefly tradesmen, artisans, and a few, a very few, of the clergy; but it was carefully organized, was provided with moderate funds, which were regularly audited; and its paid agents went up and down the country, carrying testaments and tracts with them, and enrolling in the order all persons who dared to risk their lives in such a cause.' This Bible, tract, and colporteur association, all in one, doubtless contributed largely to prepare the minds of men for the great events which ten years subsequently broke like claps of thunder, one after another, upon Christendom. The popish bishops strove hard against the quiet, but mighty influence of these Bible and tract distributors. The poor men were hounded from one place to another; compelled to disguise themselves, to hide their heads in friendly habitations, or in the forests; to travel by night, and to resort to various stratagems by day, to escape the bishops' hands; and with all their care, they were not always able to elude the diligence and activity of their persecutors. Let any one read the affecting story, told by Fox, of Garret's persecution — who, though a scholar and a fellow of Magdalen College, did not think it beneath him to traverse the country on foot, and supply the hungry protestants with the Scriptures and other aids to devotion and instruction of Ferrar's, another of the Christian brotherhood, if they would understand what these good men were exposed to in doing their Master's work. It


* Froude's Hist. Eng. 11. 26. He quotes from a manuscript in the Rolls House, in support of his description of this association of protestants in 1525.

will be seen from these stories, that not the Bible and tract distributor alone was subject to persecution, but that the receiver, as well as the circulator of English books, was doomed to bitter pains and penalties. Thus, that little band of brethren in Wolsey's college, in Oxford, to whom Garret carried his precious wares, and who were accustomed to meet and read the Scriptures, and pray together, on the detection of the colporteur were themselves seized, imprisoned, and punished, until death ended the sufferings of some of them.*

The popish bishops tried another method to stop the circulation of “heretical books,” particularly Tyndale's New Testament: they bought up the books, and burned them. But this proved a losing, as well as an expensive business; for the avails of these sales enabled the reformers to publish new and corrected editions of the burnt books. And so, in spite of the powers of darkness, the good work of preparation for the English Reformation went steadily on, until the time arrived for the king of England to commence the mighty work of abolishing popery, and introducing the English Scriptures as the standard of religious faith and practice.

* See Dalaber's narrative, in Fox, 11. 438-41; and in Froude, 11. 45–70. See also Tyball's confession, and that of other buyers and readers of protestant books, in 1528. - Strype's Mems., vol. I. pt. Il. Nos. 17-22, pp. 50–65.

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