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England; and the eagerness which was generally shown by the people, to read the Gospel in the vulgar tongue, quickly excited alarm among those who were devoted to the Romish Church. Sir Thomas More, lord chancellor, and Tonstall, bishop of London, caused all the copies they could purchase or procure, to be burnt (i) at St. Paul's Cross; and the selling or dispersion of them was prohibited under heavy penalties. In the mean time Tyndal, with the assistanceof Miles Coverdale(k), undertook the translation of the Old Testament, and published the Pentateuch at Hamburgh, in the year 1530, with prefaces reflecting upon the English bishops and clergy; and in the same year he published a more correct translation of the New Testament. In 1531, he published an English version of the prophet.Jonah, with a preface full of invective against the church of Rome, proving himself, as Lord Herbert calls him, a witty, but violent, and sometimes
railing (i) “A Copy of this translation, supposed to be the only one remaining, was purchased for Lord Oxford, who settled 20 l. a year on the person who procured it. Out of Lord Oxford's collection it was purchased by Mr. Ames for 15l. at whose sale (1760) it was purchased for 141. 14s. 6d.”-Gilpin's Cranmer.
(k) He was made bishop of Exeter by Edward the Sixth; but going to Geneva in queen Mary's reign, he imbibed the principles of Calvin, and refused to return to his bishopric in queen Elizabeth's reign.
railing disputant (1).” He was proceeding in the translation of the other books, when he was seized and imprisoned by the emperor, through the influence of King Henry the Eighth and his ministers; and in the year 1536, he was put to death at Villefont near Brussels, in consequence of a decree made in an assembly at Augsbourg.
In the year 1531, George Joye, an English refugee, published at Strasburg a translation of Isaiah; and in the year 1534, he published at Antwerp a translation of the Prophecies of Jeremiah, and of the Psalms, and of the Song of Moses.
In the year 1535, Miles Coverdale published in folio, the first English translation of the whole Bible, and dedicated it to King Henry the Eighth. It was probably printed at Zurich; and though it passed under the name of Coverdale only, it is generally supposed that great part of the work was performed by Tyndal, before he was imprisoned (m), and that his name was not mentioned because he was then under confinement.
Those who were adverse to any translation of the Scriptures, not daring openly to avow their
principles, (1) Life of Henry the Eighth, page 406.
(m) It is said that he had advanced as far as Nehemiah inclusive, when he was apprehended. The rest of the books were probably translated by Coverdale himself.
principles (n), complained of the inaccuracy of Wickliff's and Tyndal's translations; and on that ground objected to the use of them : but on the other hand it was contended by the friends of the Reformation, that if these translations were erroneous, care should be taken to publish one more faithful. In the year 1535, Cranmer, who had been advanced to the See of Canterbury two years before, and whose endeavours to promote the cause of the Reformation were unremitted, had sufficient interest to procure a petition from both houses of convocation to the King, requesting that he would allow a new translation of the Scriptures to be made. Henry consented; and Cranmer, dividing an old English translation of the New Testament into nine or ten parts, distributed them among the most learned bishops and others, requiring that they should return their respective portions, corrected and amended, by a certain day. Every one sent his part at the time
appointed, (n) Even Sir Thomas More acknowledges, “ Holy doctors never meant, as I suppose, the forbidding of the Bible to be read in any vulgar tongue; for I never yet heard
any reason laid, why it were not convenient to have the Bible translated into the English tongue.” Such is the testimony of this great man and professed papist, upon the general question of the right and expediency of a translation of the Scriptures, although he did every thing in his power to suppress the translations which were actually made.
appointed, except Stokesly, bishop of London, and his positive refusal to have any concern in the business seems to have put a stop to the work for the present. However, early in the year 1536, Lord Cromwell, keeper of the privy seal, and the king's vicar-general, and vicegerent in ecclesiastical matters, published injunctions to the clergy, by the King's authority, of which the seventh was, “ that every parson or proprietary of any parish church within the realm, before August the first, should provide a book of the whole Bible, both in Latin, and also in English, and lay it in the choir, for every man that would to look and read therein; and should discourage no man from reading any part of the Bible, either in Latin or English, but rather comfort, exhort, and admonish every man to read it as the very word of God, and the spiritual food of man's soul.”
In the year 1537, a folio edition of the Bible was printed by Grafton and Whitchurch, at Hamburgh or at Paris, more probably at Hamburgh: it varied but little from Tyndal's and Coverdales' translation; and the few emendations and additions it contained were supplied by John Rogers (0), who superintended the publi
(0) He was educated at Cambridge, and was the first person who suffered death on account of Religion in queen Mary's reign.
cation, and assumed the name of Matthews : hence this is always called Matthews's Bible. A copy of this book was presented by Cranmer to Lord Cromwell, with a request that he would obtain the King's permission for the free use of it among his subjects; and there are two letters of the archbishop preserved by Strype, which show that the royal license was granted through the application of Cromwell.
In the year 1538, an injunction was published by the vicar-general, “ ordering the clergy to provide, before a certain festival, one book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English, and to set it up in some convenient place within their churches, where their parishioners might most commodiously resort, and read it (p);" and in the same year a royal declaration was also published, which the curates were commanded to read in their several churches, informing the people, “ that it had pleased the King's majesty to permit and command the Bible, being translated into their mother tongue, to be sincerely taught by them, and to be openly laid forth in every parish church (9).”—It was wonderful,” says Strype, “ to see with what joy this book of God was received, not only among the more
learned, (p) Lewis. (9) Appendix to Strype's Life of Cranmer.