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Editor's Note

King Edward VI died on 6 July 1553. Knox was in London at that time, and the reformer "received the afflicting tidings of his majesty's decease with becoming fortitude and resignation to the sovereign will of Heaven. The event did not meet him unprepared; he had long anticipated it, with its probable consequences.

"Knox remained in London until the 19th of July when Mary was proclaimed queen. Immediately after this, he appears to have withdrawn from London and retired to the north of England, being justly apprehensive of the measures which might be pursued by the new government.

"To induce the Protestants to submit peacefully to her authority, Mary amused them for some time with proclamations, in which she promised not to do violence to their consciences. Though aware of the bigotry of the queen, and the spirit of the religion to which she was devoted, the Protestant ministers reckoned it their duty to improve the respite. In the month of August, Knox returned to the south, and resumed his labours. It seems to have been at this time that he composed the Confession and Prayer, commonly used by him in the congregations to which he preached. While he itinerated through Buckinghamshire, he was attended by large audiences, which his popularity and the alarming crisis drew together; especially at Amersham, a borough formerly noted for the general reception of the doctrines of Wycliffe, the precursor of the Reformation in England, and from which the seed sown by his followers had never been altogether eradicated. Wherever he went, he earnestly exhorted the people to repentance, under the tokens of divine displeasure, and to a steady adherence to the faith which they had embraced. He continued to preach in Buckinghamshire and Kent during the harvest months, although the measures of government daily rendered his safety more precarious; and in the beginning of November returned to London, where he resided chiefly with Mr. Locke and Mr. Hickman, two respectable merchants of his acquaintance." (M'Crie's Life of Knox [Edinburgh, 1855], pp. 55-56.)

The English government soon restored the popish religion; and after December 1553, Protestants were subject to prosecution as heretics. Knox was unable to preach without endangering himself and those who harboured him. Thus, at the urgent request of his friends, the reformer reluctantly withdrew from England, arriving in Dieppe in the beginning of March 1553-54. The Treatise on Prayer was first published in July 1554.

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