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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

He spent some time with Calvin


"How long I continewed prisoneir, what torment I susteaned in the galaies, and what war the sobbes of my harte, is now no time to receat: This onlie I can nocht conceall, which mo than one have hard me say, when the body was far absent from Scotland, that my assured houp was, in oppin audience, to preache in Sanctandrois befoir I depairted this lyeff."[290]

The prisoners were released from the galleys through the instrumentality of the English Government in the early months of 1549, and Knox reached England by the 7th of April. It was there that he began his real work as a preacher of the Reformation. He spent nearly five years as minister at Berwick, at Newcastle, and in London. He was twice offered preferment--the vacant bishopric of Rochester in 1552, and the vicarage of All Hallows in Bread St., London, in the beginning of 1553. He refused both, and was actually summoned before the Privy Council to explain why he would not accept preferment.[291] It is probable that he had something to do with the production of _The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies in the Church of England, 1552_, commonly called the _Second Prayer-Book_ of King Edward VI. The rubric explaining kneeling at the partaking of the Holy Supper, or at least one sentence in it, is most probably due to his remonstrances or suggestions.[292] The accession of Mary Tudor to the throne closed his career

in England; but he stuck to his work long after his companion preachers had abandoned it. He was in London, and had the courage to rebuke the rejoicings of the crowd at her entry into the capital--a fearless, outspoken man, who could always be depended on for doing what no one else dared.

Knox got safely across the Channel, travelled through France by ways unknown, and reached Geneva. He spent some time with Calvin, then went on to Zurich to see Bullinger. He appears to have been meditating deeply on the condition of Scotland and England, and propounded a set of questions to these divines which show that he was trying to formulate for himself the principles he afterwards asserted on the rights of subjects to restrain tyrannical sovereigns.[293] The years 1554-58, with the exception of a brief visit to Scotland in the end of 1555, were spent on the Continent, but were important for his future work in Scotland. They witnessed the troubles in the Frankfurt congregation of English exiles, where Knox's broad-minded toleration and straightforward action stands in noble contrast with the narrow-minded and crooked policy of his opponents. They were the time of his peaceful and happy ministrations among the refugees at Geneva. They made him familiar with the leading Protestants of France and of Switzerland, and taught him the inner political condition of the nations of Europe. They explain Knox's constant and accurate information in later years, when he seemed to learn about the doings of continental statesmen as early as Cecil, with all the resources of the English Foreign Office behind him. Above all, they made him see that, humanly speaking, the fate of the whole Reformation movement was bound up with an alliance between a Protestant England and a Protestant Scotland.

Knox returned to Scotland for a brief visit of about ten months (Sept. 1555-July 1556). He exhorted those who visited him in his lodgings in Edinburgh, and made preaching tours, dispensing the Lord's Supper according to the Reformed rite on several occasions. He visited Dun, Calder House, Barr, Ayr, Ochiltree, and several other places, and was welcomed in the houses of many of the nobility. He left for Geneva in July, having found time to marry his first wife, Marjory Bowes,--_uxor suavissima_, and "a wife whose like is not to be found everywhere,"[294] Calvin calls her,--and having put some additional force into the growing Protestantism of his native land. He tells us that most part of the gentlemen of the Mearns "band thame selfis, to the uttermost of thare poweris, to manteane the trew preaching of the Evangell of Jesus Christ, as God should offer unto thame preacheris and opportunitie"--whether by word of mouth or in writing, is not certain.[295]


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