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(Originally Titled "The Learned Men": The Text Here Used Is That Of "The Learned Men")
Chapter 3: Puritans Progress
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‘Puritans’ Progress

            While the high churchmen were adding to their preferment by work on the new Bible, what o£ the Puritans who had suggested it?

            Rainolds, who made the proposal, was among the foremost scholars in Elizabethan and early Stuart England. Those who knew him held him to be the most learned man in England, pious, courteous, modest, kind, and wholly honest, with a vast memory that made him “a living library, a third university.”

            John Rainolds was born about Michaelmas, 1549, at Pinloe near Exeter in Devonshire. The fifth son of Richard Rainolds, a papist, he went to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he “wholly addicted himself” to the study of the Holy Scriptures. As a young convert from the Roman Church, he must have had many inner conflicts as he escaped more and more from beliefs in which even as a child he had been restive. Others were going through the same experience; at Oxford as elsewhere it was a stirring time of rebirth and reform. Most people had grown up in families holding to the Roman Church.

            Soon after he got his degree, Rainolds was named Greek reader, and his fame grew fast from his lectures. Among the students he tutored was Richard Hooker, who was to write The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, a work of influence even today. Rainolds himself read all the Latin and Greek fathers, and all the ancient records of the Church that he could come by. He studied Aristotle and wrote a commentary that was highly praised. Also he practiced a style of writing, later called Euphuistic after Lyly’s Euphues, which was based on alliteration and classic patterns of formal balance.

            In 1579 he wrote a report over six hundred pages long of his attempt—an assignment from Sir Francis Walsingham – to turn from popish ways a young man confined in the Tower of London. To the poor imprisoned papist Rainolds was kind after a fashion, since he had been born a papist too, but also firm and severe. The small differences between them he compared to “small holes in ships at the which a great deal of water will come in, enough to drown the ship if they have been left open as long as these have been in the ship of the church.” Rainolds set down all that was said by both during long sessions in the Tower, in which he prayed “God give you both a soft heart and an understanding mind that you may be able wisely to discern and gladly to embrace the truth when you shall hear it.” Alas, the stubborn prisoner spent “twenty days in irons for not yielding to one Rainolds.”

            In 1586 Rainolds began lectures founded by Walsing-ham, at twenty pounds a year, to confute Romish tenets. Many hearers came three times a week, and those who believed as he did thought that he was doing great good.

            Next, in 1592, he began an assault on stage plays. In 1566 when Rainolds was a student at Oxford, Queen Elizabeth had paid a visit to the university. At Corpus Christi College a play composed for her was acted, with Rainolds, then seventeen, playing the role of a female. The queen enjoyed the performance, laughing much and thanking the author for his pains. Now, nearly thirty years after, Rainolds could not forgive himself for acting the part of a girl. Nearly all his pamphlet, “The Overthrow of Stage Plays,” was about how unlawful it was for men to wear women’s clothing and for people to see such shameful make-believe. To him unlawful meant against the Bible. Had not the law of God, in Deuteronomy 22:5, forbidden a man to put on woman’s raiment? But for some years more the English stage would continue to present boy actors in women’s parts.

            Of the plays themselves Rainolds complained, “They meditate how they may inflame a tender youth with love, entice him to dalliance, to whoredom, to incest, inure their minds and bodies to uncomely, dissolute, railing, boasting, knavish, foolish, brainsick, drunken conceits, words and gestures.” Later the Puritans were to close the theaters, which would open again in the reign of Charles II, more corrupt and obscene than ever.

            After some show of reason Rainolds went on to attack other entertainment of the times. “You say that there is a time for sports, plays, dances, a time for earnest studies; the man consisteth not of one part alone; he hath a body as well as a mind. Time of recreation is necessary, I grant, and think as necessary for scholars that are scholars indeed, I mean good students, as it is for any.” Yet, he argues, “in my opinion it were not fit for them to play at stool ball among wenches, nor at mum chance and maw [a card game] with idle loose companions, nor at trunks [a sort of bagatelle] in guild halls, nor to dance about the maypole, nor to rifle [gamble with dice] in ale houses, nor to carouse in taverns, nor to rob orchards.” Stool ball was a sort of cricket, an Easter game played between men and women with, as stake, a pudding or omelet flavored with tansy juice in memory of the Passover bitter herbs.

            Now in 1592 the queen was again at Oxford, and as she was leaving she sent for the heads of houses and others. Then she “schooled Doctor Rainolds for his obstinate preciseness, willing him to follow her laws and not run before them.”

            Yet despite his strictness Rainolds was credited with “a sweet gift in preaching” and a sharp and nimble wit. Patient and full of vigor, he conversed with young students “so familiarly and so profitably that whatsoever, how often soever, how much soever men desired to learn from him in any kind of knowledge,” they could daily draw it from his mouth “as an ever springing and never failing well.”

            In 1593 he became Dean of Lincoln, and six years later he changed places with the troubled president of Corpus Christi College. There he set about to reduce a long turmoil and to repair and make lovely the chancel, the library, the hall; also to improve the scholarships and chaplainships. “Our commons,” he said of the college, “are I confess in many places slender and short of that which our good founders meant for us, which hath risen through the want of faithful stewards, yet nowhere is it so scant as that we are enforced to gather herbs to make pottage, or to feed on a few barley leaves.” He complained rather of heads who took what was meant for others and devoured it, “as though our colleges were meant only for heads, not at all for members.” In such pleas for the wider spreading of good he showed himself a man of sense.

            Indeed, as a Puritan dean in the college where Puritans were strong, Rainolds mellowed. He was gentle and pursued what he thought a righteous mean, wearing the square cap and the surplice and kneeling when he received the holy bread and wine. So content was he that he declined the queen’s offer to make him a bishop. He had gracious words in these days even for women: “Think you that your wives, children, and servants have no souls, or that they are given them only for this life, instead of salt, to keep their bodies from putrefying?”

            Yet “bitter words were daily shot at him” in the controversy of the time, and in 1602, as he walked in London, in Finsbury Fields “an arrow whether shot purposely by some Jesuited papist or at random, fell upon his breast but entered not his body.”

            Such was the man, simple enough at heart, whom King James had asked to Hampton Court as the “foreman” of the Puritans, who there as if on the spur of the moment asked that the Bible be rendered afresh in English, the man who was now to have a large share in the task. In spirit he was an Elizabethan artist in words who aided not only in finding happy phrases and rhythms but in fixing what was good in the Geneva version and others before it. In his hands the Bible would be safe.

            With him to Hampton Court had gone the beloved Laurence Chaderton. Chaderton was born about 1537 in Lancashire, far from Rainolds’ Devon. His family, like Rainolds’, was Catholic, and his father was wealthy enough to trust the boy’s early education to tutors who allowed him to spend his time in country sports. Then an able and learned tutor gave him good papist training and tried, in accordance with the father’s wish, to push him into law. But before the Inns of Court came Christ College, Cambridge; there the Puritans were strong and young Chaderton became a convert.

            His father wrote to offer him thirty pounds a year to quit Cambridge: “Son Laurence, if you will renounce the new sect which you have joined, you may expect all the happiness which the care of an indulgent father can assure you; otherwise, I enclose a shilling to buy a wallet. Go and beg.”

            With quiet courage Laurence refused this melodramatic offer, choosing to go on as a Puritan, and obtaining a scholarship. He eked out his means with some teaching, and his father may have helped him a little in spite of the threat.

            At Cambridge Chaderton studied Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, learned French, Italian, and Spanish, and indulged a taste for botany. More robust than Rainolds, he engaged with vigor in Town and Gown fights, yet was also grave, learned, and pious, with a strict regard for the Sabbath. He was credited with a plain but cogent way of preaching and a firm dislike of Arminianism, which set up free will against free grace and taught that predestination is conditional, not absolute. At St. Clement’s, Cambridge, he started a series of afternoon lectures or sermons that continued for fifty years.

            He also preached at Paul’s Cross, which long stood in the northeast part of St. Paul’s churchyard, in the angle between the choir and the north transept. Here it was that the Tyndale Bible was burned. You may look in vain for this landmark now, for they tore it down in the days of the Long Parliament.

            In 1576 Chaderton had to choose between his Cambridge fellowship and marriage. He resigned in order to marry Cecilia, daughter of Nicholas Culverwell, the queen’s wine merchant. It was a long, happy union, with one daughter. Few of those who revised the Bible for King James had wives. Chaderton’s domestic arrangements included servants, to whom he was said to be kind; thus he never kept a servant from public worship to cook victuals, saying, “I desire as much to have my servants know the Lord as myself.” Yet if a servant was at any time given to lying or any other open vice, “he would not suffer her to remain in his house though she do ever so much work.” Besides this fitting concern for the souls and morals of those who served him, Chaderton was credited with showing “a living affection for the poor, which is a certain token of a sound Christian.”

            The Puritans asked both words and works, and in their conflict with the Establishment over preaching versus forms, they had a great desire for a preaching clergy of their own. At St. Paul’s Chaderton had complained, as the Puritans commonly did, against “those who serve mortal and sinful men with simony, flattering words, and servile obedience, not lawfully to obtain one room in the vineyard of the Lord, but two, three, four or more places” – meaning those of the clergy who held two or more livings at once. Where, he asked, “are the lips o£ the ministers which do preserve knowledge, or those messengers of God, at whose mouths His poor people should seek His law? Nay rather, where are not whole swarms o£ idle, ignorant and ungodly curates and readers who neither can nor will go before the dear flock of Christ in soundness of doctrine and integrity of life?”

            In 1583 Sir Walter Mildmay, brother-in-law of Walsingham, treasurer of the queen’s household, and a defender of the Puritans in their battle with the bishops, offered to found Emmanuel College if Chaderton would be its head. The plan was for the fellows of Emmanuel not to stay in the college at peace with their endless studies, as too many did, but to go out and spread knowledge in all parts of the country. After the college opened, the queen said to Mild-may, “Sir Walter, I hear you have erected a Puritan foundation.” He replied, “No, madam, far be it from me to countenance anything contrary to your established laws, but I have set an acorn which, when it becomes an oak, God alone knows what will be the fruit thereof.”

            Chaderton himself declared a dozen years later that he “neither publicly nor privately spake any thing either out of a study of contradiction or with any kind of speaking evil of any man, but only publicly to back and defend the true doctrine of the Church of England.” Though he felt most friendly toward the extreme Puritan party, he had no scruples about the sign of the cross in baptism and other disputed forms, and never separated himself from the disciplines of the Church or the authority of the law. When high church critics complained that communicants sat during the Lord’s Supper in Emmanuel College, he said that it was difficult to kneel by reason of the seats being placed as they were, but that they had some kneeling.

            Someone had said that a Puritan was “a Protestant frayed out of his wits,” but such men as Rainolds and Chaderton were not easily frayed. If they could not resolve the differences that divided them from those who clung to the old forms, they could find ways to work and points of agreement. About a right English Bible, grounded on a wide range of learning, there could be no real dispute. It could help the many with knowledge.

            Such a Bible would have room for all persuasions among the countless shades of strife, from the Brownists whom none defended to those who under Bishop Bancroft wielded the huge willful strength of men entrenched in power. The struggle with these last was thirty years old and would go on until some of those who wanted to cleanse the Church would sail across the sea as Pilgrims. But first, for the new Bible, the strife between factions would be healthy. The Bible has always thrived on turmoil.

            Though their differences like their skills were Elizabethan, those of the several sides who joined in the work would produce a masterpiece to transcend their age. With nice balance they put much of themselves and the background of the times into it, while also keeping much of themselves and their background out of it.

            That those who worked on the new Bible had varied ‘ points of view was, then, to be no stumbling block but instead to insure its having something for all. We may regret that the learned translators were divided by no N wider differences: there were among them no Roman ‘ Catholics, Jews, or women. They were male Protestants, roughly or smoothly within the Church of England, and as such they thought in certain grooves. The marvel is that they did so well.

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