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people. Six of these bibles were chained in St. Paul's in convenient places. Those country parishes who could afford to purchase this precious treasure chained it to a desk, and the zeal of the people to hear it read was wonderful. Artisans and labourers assembled to listen to the reading. There might be seen the grey-haired sire and the eager youth, the mother hushing her awed and wondering children, the feeble grandame and the blooming maiden, all silent and intent, drinking in the inspired words with thirsty ears. Nor was it only within the building that the Bible was read. The spacious porch of many a country church would hold a goodly gathering, who, surrounding the reader, would listen perhaps all the more intently that it was not a formal service.
The clergy were not the only readers to the people. Any man who could read (the attainment was rare then among the people of England) was pressed into this sacred service. What a new tide of life was flowing in upon them as they listened! Not long before, they had been constrained to listen to an unintelligible formula in a foreign language. This was the only utterance they had heard associated with the worship of the Most High; and the rapid and prosy homily that suc
* Fuller's "Church History,” book vii. p. 387.
ceeded was nearly as empty and unsatisfactory. Now it was not dead but living words that vibrated through them, quickening the pulse of the most supine, softening the most hardened, comforting the sad, instructing the ignorant. There was a portion for all: truths so simple that “the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein," -- truths so forcible, that they were “as a hammer breaking the rocky heart in twain," — truths so tender, that the mourner felt, “ as one whom his mother comforteth, even so the Lord comforteth his people,” – truths so encouraging, that they called, saying, “Whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely,"— truths so just, and equal, and spiritual, that they announced there remained - no more bond or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus."
The influence that this book had upon the people may be inferred from an interesting account of William Malden, inserted in Strype's “Memorials of Cranmer.” “When the king first allowed the Bible to be set forth to be read in churches, immediately several poor men in the town of Chelmsford, in Essex, where his father lived, and he was born, bought the New Testament, and on Sundays sat reading of it in the lower end of the church. Many would flock about them to hear their reading; and he (William Malden), among the rest, being then but fifteen years old, came every Sunday to hear the glad and sweet tidings of the Gospel. But his father, observing it once, fetched him away angrily, and would have him to say the Latin Matins with him, which grieved him much. This put him upon the thoughts of learning to read English, that so he might read the New Testament himself, which, when he had by diligence effected, he and his father's apprentice bought the New Testament, joining their stocks together; and to conceal it laid it under the straw bed, and read it at convenient times. One night, his father being asleep, he and his mother chanced to discourse concerning the crucifix, and the form of kneeling down to it, and knocking on the breast and holding up the hands to it when it came by in procession. This, he told his mother, was plain idolatry against the commandment of God, where he saith, Thou shalt not make any graven image, nor bow down to it, nor worship it.' His mother, enraged at him for this, said, “Wilt thou not worship the cross which was about thee when thou wert christened, and must be laid on thee when thou art dead?' In this heat the mother and son departed, and went to their beds. The sum of this evening's conference she presently repeats to her husband, which he, impatient to hear, and boiling in fury against his son for denying the worship due to the cross, rose up forthwith, and goes into his son's chamber, and, like a mad zealot, taking
him by the hair of his head, pulled him out of the bed and whipped him unmercifully. And when the young man bore this beating with a kind of joy, considering it was for Christ's sake, and shed not a tear, his father, seeing that, was more enraged, and ran down and fetched an halter and put it about his neck, saying he would hang him. At length, with much entreaty of the mother and brother, he left him half dead.”
Coverdale and Tyndale were the translators of this Bible. They had removed to the continent in order to enjoy greater opportunities of study and facilities for printing and publishing the great work on which they were engaged. At Antwerp Tyndale was seized as a heretic and imprisoned, and though great efforts were made in his favour, it was in vain. He was condemned, first strangled, and his remains burned near Antwerp. So great was his zeal, learning, and intrepidity, that he was styled the Apostle of England. This translation
the Bible was corrected by John Rogers, the compiler of the Child's Primer, afterwards a distinguished divine in king Edward's reign, and the first who was doomed to the stake in Mary's time.
We have seen, however, that king Henry thought proper to interdict the Bible, after it had once been allowed, an interdict more likely to make the people ponder the words they had heard, and to sharpen their anxiety to have this treasure
again restored to them. An imprisoned thought once set at liberty can never be recaptured.
The next translation of the Bible was given out in the reign of Edward VI., in 1549, and another edition two years later, neither of them divided into verses; and a third in the reign of Elizabeth. The latter was called “the Bishops' Bible,” in consequence of its having been elaborately corrected by the learned divines of that time; and it was substantially the same as that printed in James's time. It must, however, be remembered, that Elizabeth, on her accession to the throne, was far from willing that the laity and common people should have the Scriptures. Like her father, she preferred thinking for the people in matters of Faith, rather than permitting them to think for themselves. This was manifested when, on her releasing some prisoners at her coronation, Sir John Rainsforth (a kind of privileged buffoon), being set on by others, said, " That now this good time, when prisoners were delivered, four prisoners, amongst the rest, mought have their liberty, who were like enough to be kept still in hold.” The queen asked “who they were?” and he said, “ Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who had long been imprisoned in the Latin tongue, and now he desired they mought go abroad among the people in English.” The Queen answered, with a grave countenance: “It were good, Rainsforth, they