doors were set open; and those who had been driven into a state of exile, returned home. Among the last, was Dr. Miles Coverdale. Not long after his return, he became chaplain to Lord Russel, in his expedition to suppress the insurrection in Devonshire. For his excellent labours and behaviour on this occasion, he was highly extolled by the famous Peter Martyr." In the year 1551, he, though a married man, was made Bishop of Exeter, being promoted “on account of his extraordinary knowledge in divinity, and his unblemished character.” His consecration was performed at Lambeth, by Archbishop Cranmer. The following is King Edward's letter patent nominating him to the bishopric: “The king to all to whom the presents shall come “greeting. Whereas the bishopric of Exon is without a “bishop, and is destitute of a fit pastor, by the free resig“nation of John late bishop of that place, and doth by “right belong to our collation and donation. We willing “ to collate another fit person to the bishopric aforesaid, “ and judging our well-beloved Miles Coverdale, professor “ of divinity, for his o learning in the scriptures, and “ for his most approved manners, wherewith he is endowed, “ to be a fit man for the place and office aforesaid. Know “ye, therefore, that we of our special grace, and certain “ knowledge, and mere motion, have conferred, given, and “granted, and by these presents do confer, give, and grant, “ to the aforesaid Miles Coverdale, the said bishopric of “Exeter: and we translate the same Miles to the bishopric of Exon, and we nominate, ordain, and constitute by these “ presents, the same Miles, Bishop of Exon, and of Exeter “ diocese; to have and to hold, execute and enjoy the said “bishopric of Exon to the same Miles, during his natural “ life.”f The diocese of Exeter, on account of the late insurrection, and the prevalence of popery, was in a most lamentable state; and some wise, courageous, and excellent preacher, was extremely necessary for that situation. Therefore Coverdale was judged a most fit person to be invested with the above charge. Archbishop Cranmer had the highest opinion of him; was intimately acquainted with him; and was ever ready to do him acts of kindness. Though * Burnet's Hist. Abridged, vol. iii. p. 148. + Clark's Lives, p. 3.-Burnet's Hist. of Refor. vol. ii. p. 166.

t Huntley's Prelates’ Usurpations, p. 132. § Strype's Cranmer, p. 266, 267. -

Coverdale had submitted to wear the habits, in the late reign, he now, with many other celebrated divines, laid them aside." - At this early period, there were many persons in the kingdom, who, besides the papists, were nonconformable to the established church. They refused to have their children baptized, and differed in some points of doctrine from the national creed. These, out of reproach, were denominated anabaptists. Also, there were many others who administered the sacraments in other manner than as prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer, set forth by public authority. Therefore to prevent these persons from propagating their opinions, and to bring them to conformity, a commission was issued to thirty-one persons, empowering them to correct and punish these nonconformists. Among those in the commission were Cranmer, Latimer, Parker, and Coverdale; but it does not appear whether any of the nonconformists were prosecuted by them.* Coverdale being ever celebrated for peace and moderation, would undoubtedly disapprove of all such measures. This excellent divine, while he was Bishop of Exeter, conducted himself in a manner worthy of his high office. Like a true primitive bishop, he was a constant preacher, and much given to hospitality. He was sober and temperate in all things, holy and blameless, friendly to good men, liberal to the poor, courteous to all, void of pride, clothed with humility, abhorring covetousness and every scene of vice. His house was a little church, in which was exercised all virtue and godliness. He suffered no one to abide under his roof, who could not give some satisfactory account of his faith and hope, and whose life did not correspond with his profession. He was not, however, without his enemies. Because he was a constant and faithful preacher of the gospel, an avowed enemy to all superstition and popery, and a most upright worthy man, his adversaries sought to have him disgraced : sometimes by secret backbiting; sometimes by open raillery; and sometimes by false accusation. Indeed, their malice is said to have been carried to so great a length, that they endeavoured at last to poison him; but through the good providence of God, their snares were broken, and he was delivered out of their hands.f - Coverdale having continued in the episcopal office betwixt two and three years, it pleased God to remove, by death, the excellent King Edward. Upon the accession of his sister Mary, the face of religion was soon changed; great numbers of the most worthy preachers in the kingdom were immediately silenced; and this good bishop, together with many others, was cast into prison." During the confinement of Coverdale and the other protestant bishops, they drew up and subscribed their confession of faith. This confession, with the names of those who subscribed it, is still preserved, but too long for our insertion.* The malice of the papists designed Coverdale for the fire; but the Lord most wonderfully preserved and delivered him. During his imprisonment, the King of Denmark, with whom he had become acquainted when he was in Germany, became his honoured friend, warmly espoused his cause, and wrote several letters to Queen Mary, earnestly soliciting his release. By the king's continued importunity, yet as a very great favour, he was permitted to go into banishment. Burnet, by mistake, calls him a Dane; and observes, that on this account some allowance was made for him, and a passport was granted him, with two of his servants, to go to Denmark. He retired first to his kind friend, the King of Denmark; then to Wezel in Westphalia; and afterwards he went into Germany, to his worthy patron the Elector of the Rhiene, by whom he was cordially received, and restored to his former benefice of Burghsaber. Here he continued a zealous and laborious preacher, and a careful shepherd over the flock of Christ, all the remaining days of Queen Mary. Coverdale and several of his brethren, during their exile, published a new translation of the Bible, commonly called the Geneva Bible. The translators of this Bible were Coverdale, Goodman, Gilby, Whittingham, Sampson, Cole, Knox, Bodliegh, and Pullain, all celebrated puritans. They first published the New Testament in 1557. This was the first that was ever printed with numerical verses. The whole Bible, with marginal notes, was printed in 1560, and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. The translators say, “They were employed in the work night and day, with fear and trembling; and they protest from their consciences, and call God to witness, that in every point and word, they have faithfully rendered the text, to the best of their knowledge.” But the marginal notes giving some offence, it was not suffered to be printed in England till after the death of Archbishop Parker; when it was printed in 1576, and soon passed through twenty or thirty editions.” This translation of the Bible has been lately published, under the title of “ The Reformers’ Bible.” During the rage of persecution in the reign of Queen Mary, every effort was made for the suppression of the reformation, and the re-establishment of popery. The frauds, and impositions, and superstitions of the latter being ashamed of an examination, the people were not allowed to read the writings of protestants. Yo..., in the year 1555, her majesty issued her royal proclamation for suppressing the books of the reformers. Among the works enumerated in this proclamation, were those of Luther, Calvin, Latimer, Hooper, Cranmer, and Coverdale.* Soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Coverdale again returned to his native country. His bishopric was reserved for him, and he was repeatedly firged to accept it; but on account of the popish habits and ceremonies retained in the church, he modestly refused. He assisted in the consecration of Archbishop Parker, in Lambeth chapel, December 17, 1559. The ceremony was performed in a plain manner, by the imposition of hands and prayer. Coverdale, on this occasion, wore only a plain black gown; and because he could not with a good conscience come up to the terms of conformity, he was neglected, and for some time had no preferment. He had the plague in the year 1563, but afterwards recovered. He was commonly called Father Coverdale. But on account of the neglect with which he was treated, and the reproach which it brought upon the ruling prelates, Grindal, bishop of London, said, “Surely it is not well that he, who was in Christ before any of us, should be now in his age without stay of living. I cannot herein excuse us bishops.” Grindal therefore in the above year, gave him the living of St.

* Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 65. # Strype's Parker, p. 27. t Clark's Lives, p. 4.

* The two archbishops, Cranmer and Holgate, with the bishops, Ridley, Poinet, Scory, Coverdale, Taylor, Harvey, Bird, Bush, Hooper, Farrer, and Barlow, and twelve thousand clergymen, were all silenced at this time, and many of them were cast into prison.—Burnet's Hist. of Refor. vol. ii. p. 276.

+ Fox's Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 15, 82,83.

t These letters are still preserved.—Ibid. p. 149–151.

§ Hist. of Refor. vol. iii. p. 239.

# Troubles at Frankeford, p. 158.

* Strype's Parker, p. 205, 206.-Neal's Puritans, vol. ii. p. 88.

+ Fox's Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 226. . .

f Strype's Parker, p. 58–60.-Annals, vol. i. p. 366.-Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 165,

Magnus, at the Bridge-foot. But he being old and poor, petitioned Secretary Cecil and others, to be released from paying the first fruits, amounting to upwards of sixty pounds, adding, “If poor old Miles might be thus provided for, he should think this enough and as good as a feast.” This favour was granted." Coverdale continued in the undisturbed exercise of his ministry a little more than two years; + but not coming up to the terms of conformity, he was driven from his flock, and obliged to relinquish his benefice. Though he was laden with old age and infirmities, he did not relinquish his beloved work. He still continued preaching as he found an opportunity, without the habits; and multitudes flocked to hear him. They used to send to his house on a Saturday, inquiring where he was to preach on the following sabbath, and were sure to follow him. This, however, giving offence to the ruling prelates, the good old man was, at length, obliged to tell his friends, that he durst not any more inform them of his preaching, through fear of offending his superiors. He, nevertheless, continued preaching as long as he was able; and died a most comfortable and happy death, January 20, 1568, aged eighty-one years. He was a man of most exemplary piety, an indefatigable student, a great scholar, a celebrated preacher, a peaceable nonconformist, and much admired and followed by the puritans; but the Act of Uniformity brought down his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. His remains were honourably interred in the chancel of St. Bartholomew's church, behind the Exchange, London; when vast crowds of people attended the funeral procession. A monumental inscription was afterwards erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation: - In MEMORY of the most reverend Father, Miles Coverdale, who died, aged eighty years. This Tomb contains the mortal Remains of Coverdale, who having finished his labours, now lies at rest. He was once the most faithful and worthy Bishop of Exeter, a man remarkable for the uprightness of his life.

* Strype's Grindal, p. 91.-Parker, p. 148, 149.--Annals, vol. i. p. 367. + Newcourt's Repert. Eccl. vol. i. p. 398.

† Strype's Parker, p. 149. § Parte of a Register, p. 25. # Stow's Survey of London, b. ii. p. 122.

« 上一頁繼續 »