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Join Fox, divine, and ecclesiastical historian, was born at Boston, in Lincolnshire, in 1517, being the same year that Luther began the reformation in Germany. His father dying when he was young, the care of his early education was undertaken by a father-inlaw; and at the age of sixteen, he entered at Brazen-nose College, Oxford, where, in the years 1538, and 1543, he took his degrees in arts.
He engaged with great ardour in the study of divinity, and had embraced the principles of the reformers without any previous intercourse with any of them. But in order to make bimself master of the theological controversies which then disturbed and divided all Europe, he began to exainine into the history of the church, both in ancient and modern
times. In this course of study, before the age of thirty, he had read over all the Greek and Latin fathers, the schoolmen, the councils, the consistories, and had also attained a competent skill in the Hebrew language. The consequence of this examination was, that he adopted on principle the tenets of the reformers; was convicted of heresy, and in 1545, was expelled the university, narrowly escaping with life.
He afterwards became preceptor successively to the children of sir Thomas Lucy; of Warwickshire, and to those of the earl of Surry, nephew of the duchess of Richmond, under whose inspection the children had been from the committment of the earl, and his father the duke of Norfolk, to the Tower. In this last situation he continued during the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII. the reign of Edward VI. and part of that of Mary ; when through fear of Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, who had issued a warrant to apprehend him, he was compelled to fly his country; and at Basil in Germany, a common resort of our countrymen of those times from the persecutions of bigotry, supported hintself
and family, by correcting the press for Opo. rinus, the celebrated printer.
On the settlement of Elizabeth on the throne, he returned to England, obtained a prebend in the church of Salisbury, which, though a non-conformist, he retained to his death. The respect of his cotemporaries would have advanced him to the first preferment in the church, could he have been prevailed upon to subscribe to the established
He died in 1587, at the age of seventy.
His principal work is his History of the Acts and Monuments of the Church, commonly called, " Fox's Book of Martyrs.” It was first published at London, 1563, in one thick volume folio; and was afterwards printed in two, and then in three. The ninth edi. tion was published in 1684, with copper-plates. The full title is,“ Acts and Monuments of these latter and perilous days, touching matters of the church, wherein are comprehended and described the great persecutions and horrible troubles that have been wrought and practised by the Romish prelates, specially in this realm of England and Scotland, from the
year of our Lord a thousand, unto the time now present, &c. Gathered and collected according to the true copies and writings certificatory, as well of the parties themselves that suffered, as also out of the bishops' registers, which were the doers thereof." He conceived the design of this work while a fugitive at Basil. In 1554, he had published at Strasburg, « Commentarii rerum in Ecclesiâ gestarum, Maximarumque per totam Europam persecutionum a Wiclavi temporibus ad hanc usque ætatem descriptarum,” in one book, to which he afterwards added five more printed together at Basil, 1559, folio. The larger work is at this time republishing in numbers.
His account of the dispute between the Franciscan and Dominican friars, towards the close of the fifteenth century, about the conception of the Virgin Mary, will be more amusing, I apprehend, than stories of martyrdoms, which could only lacerate the feelings, without utility:
The Franciscans were they which did hold of St. Francis, and followed the rule of his testament, commonly called Grey Friars, or Minorites. Their opinion was this that the Virgin Mary, prevented by
the grace of the Holy Ghost, was so sanctified, that she was never subject one moment in her conception, to original sin., The Dominic friars were they, which holding of Dominic, were commonly called Black Friars, or Preaching Friars. Their opinion was, that the Virgin Mary was conceived as all other children of Adam be; so that this privilege only belongeth to Christ, to be conceived without original sin. Notwithstanding, the same blessed virgin was sanctified in her mother's womb, and purged from her original sin, so as was John Baptist, Jeremy, or any other privileged person. This frivolous question kindling and engendering between these two sects of friars, burst out into such a flame of parts and sides taking, that it occupied the heads and wits, schools and universities, almost through the whole church; some holding one part with Scotus, some the other part with Thomas Aquine. The Minorites holding with Scotus their master, disputed and concluded, that she was conceived without all spot or note of original sin; and thereupon caused the feast and service of the conception of St. Mary the virgin to be celebrate and solemnized in the church. Contrary, the Dominic friars, taking side with Aquinas, preached, that it was heresy to affirm that the blessed virgin was conceived without the guilt of original sin ; and that they which did celebrate the feast of her concep