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Writings of John Fox

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   - Writings of John Fox

Excerpt from Writings of John Fox: Bale, and Coverdale

John Fox, or Foxe, was born at Boston, in Lincolnshire, A. D. 1517, the year wherein Luther began publicly to oppose the errors of popery in Germany. While Fox was very young his father died and his mother married again. He remained under the care of his father-in-law till the age of sixteen, when he was entered of Brazen-Nose college, Oxford, where Dr. Nowell, afterwards dean of St. Paul's, was his chamber-fellow. There Fox studied with much assiduity, and showed his abilities especially in Latin poetry. In 1538 he took the degree of batchelor of arts, and or master in 1543, which year he was chosen fellow of Magdalen college. From early youth Fox had been strongly attached to popish superstitions, but was ever remarkable for a regular and moral life. He strongly opposed the doctrine of justification by faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ, thinking himself secure enough by the imaginary merits of his own self-denial, penances, almsdeeds, and strict attention to the rites of the church.

But he was not permitted long to remain in this state. He was naturally of an inquiring disposition; by such a character the gross impositions then common in the Romish church could not long be approved. His son states he had often heard his father affirm, that the first matter which occasioned him to search respecting popish doctrine was, perceiving divers things, in their own nature most repugnant to one another, thrust upon men at one time, both to be believed - as that the same man might be superior in matters of faith, and yet his life and manners inferior to all the world beside. This and other inconsistencies, shook the blind obedience of Fox to the church of Rome.

He now began to study ecclesiastical history, both ancient and modern; to consider the reasons for the increase and decline of the church; what causes promoted the first, and what errors occasioned the latter; diligently examining the controversies which had sprung up in successive ages.

Fox was an indefatigable student: when his mind was bent to any subject he pursued it with uncommon ardour and patient perseverance.

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