« PreviousContinue »
creased, as well in the knowledge of see the process, order, and meaning tongues, and other liberal arts, as es- of the text: for else, whatsoever pecially in the knowledge of the Scrip- truth is taught them, these enemies of tures; insomuch that he read privily all truth quench it again,-partly to certain students and fellows in with the smoke of their bottomless pit Magdalen College some parcel of di- (whereof thou readest in Apocalypse, vinity, instructing them in the know- chap. ix.), that is, with apparent realedge and truth of the Scriptures.” sons of sophistry, and traditions of Thus early did William Tyndale’s their own making; and partly in love for the Holy Scriptures display juggling with the text, expounding it itself. Our Translator also appears to in such a sense as is impossible to gahave made full use of the advantages ther of the text itself.” Well has presented, both at Oxford and Cam- Mr. Anderson said, that “ the halls bridge, for the acquirement of scho- of our colleges, wherever they stand, lastic learning, At no time does he have never given birth to a design so seem to have possessed a patron; but vitally important in its origin, so his strong mind, and his inflexible fraught with untold benefit to milperseverance, rendered unnecessary lions, and now so extensive in its those minor aids which an inferior range, as that which ripened into a character might have required. fixed and invincible purpose, in the
Returning to his native county, we dining-hall of Little Sodbury Manor find Tyndale residing as a tutor in House.” The county of Gloucester Little Sodbury Manor-house, and was now becoming too dangerous preaching on Sundays in the towns ground for Tyndale to remain in it and parishes in the neighbourhood. Italian influence was paramount, and The house is still standing, and forms he saw that, by staying, he would an interesting relic, as the scene only fall into “the hands of the spiwhere Tyndale discussed and de- rituality.” One significant burst of fended the word of God, in the family his zeal has been happily preserved. of Sir John Walsh. Here, too, was A reputed learned divine, with whom formed the grand design of translat- he was one day conversing, being ing the Scriptures. The priests and worsted in argument, exclaimed, monks, of course, disliked the doctrine
• We were
better to be without of Sir John Walsh's tutor, and raised God's laws than the Pope's !" To an outery against him. Tyndale at which Tyndale boldly replied, “I once detected their sophistries, and defy the Pope and all his laws; and has left on record his own reflections if God spare my life, ere many years, as to the blessed result which their I will cause a boy that driveth the perversions of Scripture unwittingly plough to know more of the Scripture brought about. " Which thing," he than
do!” Our Translator aftersays, only moved me to translate the wards proceeded to the metropolis, New Testament. Because I had per- where he passed the year 1523; but, ceived by experience, how that it was finding no means of accomplishing impossible to establish the lay people the purpose of his heart in England, in any truth, except the Scripture he sailed at length for Hamburgh, were plainly laid before their eyes in having first received praise as a their mother tongue, that they might Greek scholar from the learned Bi
shop Tunstal, who little thought that, dicted from proceeding further in in giving such praise, he was helping that work. The two English aposforward a translation of the Scrip- tates, snatching away with them the tures, and one moreover that would quarto sheets printed, fled by ship, shake his corrupt Church to her very going up the Rhine to Worms, where centre.
the people were under the full
of Tyndale now entered, with vigour, Lutheranism, that there, by another on the most important years of his printer, they might complete the work existence. He translated and printed, begun. Rinck and Cochlæus, howfirst, an edition of the Gospel of St. ever, immediately advised by their Matthew, then another of the Gospel letters the King, the Cardinal (Wolof St. Mark; and at Cologne, in 1525, sey), and the Bishop of Rochester, he commenced the printing of his that they might, with the greatest New Testament. The printers of the diligence, take care lest that most perTestament, however, had only pro- nicious article of merchandise should ceeded as far as the tenth sheet, be conveyed into all the ports of when an alarm was raised, the autho England." rities of the place were informed, and At Worms, Tyndale not only comthe work was interdicted. That de- pleted the quarto New Testament, termined enemy to the translation of but printed an octavo edition; and the word of God into any vernacular copies of these precious books were tongue-John Cochlæus-did his ut- being read in England early in 1526. most to strangle the attempt of the The octavo edition was without notes,
two English apostates," as he styles and forms a conspicuous instance of Tyndale and his assistant, William the assertion of the principle of adRoye. Actuated not only by a blind herence to the Scripture without note zeal, but also by the hope of gain, he or comment. “I assure you," said wormed out of the printers the secrets Tyndale, some time afterwards to the of their employment, and dexterously King's ambassador, then in pursuit of contrived to stop the work for a time. him, “if it would stand with the As he himself tells us, being in- King's most gracious pleasure to wardly affected by fear and wonder” grant only a bare text of the Scripat the design, “he disguised his grief, tures to be put forth among his peounder the appearance of admiration. ple, I shall immediately make faithBut another day, considering with ful promise never to write more.” himself the magnitude of the grievous Tyndale's Testament was translated, danger, he cast in mind by what not, like Wycliffe's MS. version of the method he might expeditiously ob- Bible, from the Latin Vulgate, but from struct these very wicked attempts. He the Greek original, and displays conwent, therefore, secretly, to Her- summate skill. It was the first printed man Rinck, a patrician of Cologne English Testament, and several ediand military knight, familiar both tions were published. with the Emperor and the King of The introduction into England of England, and a counsellor, and dis- a Testament in the vernacular tongue, closed to him the whole affair.
caused no little alarm to the hierarHe went to the senate, and so brought chy of a Church opposed to the plain it about, that the printer was inter- declarations of the word of God. The
book was publicly burned by prelates: with which the councils of England, it was at the same time read with and of a continental kingdom were avidity by many thirsting for the both concerned; no other in the knowledge of the truth. Even from guilt of which both our own country the fact of its being burned amid all and a foreign power were alike inthe pomp of ecclesiastical authority, volved. The eyes of Henry VIII., much good resulted ; “ for," says and those of his ministers, were wide Burnet, “people from thence con- open, when the martyr fell under a cluded there must be a visible contra- decree of the Emperor Charles V. riety between that book and the doc- Considered as an event, amidst all the trines of those who handled it; by wide-spread and long-continued viowhich both their prejudice against lence of the times, his martyrdom the clergy, and their desire of reading rises up to view, and appears the New Testament, were increased.” conspicuous solitary column. If there Among the denunciations of Tyn- be any memento inscribed, it is a dale's labours is one issued by Bishop double one, German on one side, Tunstal, who stigmatizes the “ wicked but English on the other.” and perverse interpretations" as "pro- Of this calamitous event we profaning the majesty of Scripture.” And ceed to give a few particulars, which here it must be observed, that the ire will serve as an accompaniment to of the Popish hierarchy was not li- our engraving. After a chequered mited to the notes of the quarto edi- course, we find our Translator resition, but was equally levelled against ding, in 1535, at the city of Antwerp, the text itself. Tunstal, in his de- where he was apprehended by enenunciation, expressly refers to some mies who were thirsting for his blood. of the Testaments being with glosses, The English bishops had leagued toand some without.
gether, under Warham, in 1527, and Tyndale also translated from the contributed to the fruitless project of original, and printed, parts of the Old buying up the New Testaments to Testament, being acquainted with the burn them; and now, though WarHebrew, as well as the Greek and ham was gone, several survivors of Latin tongues; and, in 1534, issued the same temper were eager to cona revised translation of the New Tes- sign Tyndale to the flames. King tament. Seeing that he had so warm Henry had no share in the matter in a love for the Holy Scriptures, it ex- this stage of the persecution. Two cites no surprise when we find him men were now despatched to Antwerp the object of the direst persecution. to betray our great Reformer; and His persevering labours were termi- one of them, we learn from Foxe, nated by his being plunged into pri- 6 did so much” at the court of Brusson, and undergoing martyrdom, in a sels, “ that he procured to bring from foreign land, unbefriended by the thence with him to Antwerp that Progovernment of his own country, and curer-General who is the Emperor's “ chased up to Heaven" under the attorney.” Tyndale was accordingly decree of a German potentate. Mr. apprehended, and placed in close conAnderson justly remarks, in reference finement at Vilvorde, a castle situated to these peculiar circumstances :- about twenty-four miles from Ant“ There was no other martyrdom werp. Here this apostolic man con
tinued a prisoner until the time of his Having reached the fatal spot, the martyrdom, a period of about a year noble martyr was fastened to the and a half. His labours were confer- stake; upon which, “crying with a ring, at the very time, untold blessings fervent zeal and a loud voice, . Lord! upon his native country; but he was open the King of England's eyes, he almost alone in his extremity. One was first strangled, and his body afsolitary, noble-hearted English mer- terwards consumed to ashes. His chant, named Poyntz, in whose house work was done. Hitherto Providence Tyndale had lived at Antwerp, stre- had preserved his life for the accomnuously exerted himself on behalf of plishment of a magnificent task; but his illustrious countryman, and only now he was removed, to “rest with left him, at the risk of his own life, the glorious company of Christ's marwhen he could do no more. Neither tyrs,-blessed in the Lord.” That Cromwell, nor King Henry, nor yet his entrance upon bliss was, to flesh Cranmer, made any determined effort and blood, an agonizing one, the reato rescue the prisoner of Vilvorde; der can easily imagine; nor is it diffiand as to the government of Flanders cult to conceive the fiendish delight itself, the reigning princess, Mary, with which the perpetrators of the was but a vassal of the priests. Eras- deed gazed upon his expiring frame. mus, writing some time before, in Our artist has depicted the scene with 1534, draws a graphic picture, which no little spirit; and we do not supserves to show the state of things :- pose that the horrors of Tyndale's “ These animals (the monks) are om- martyrdom, or the exultation of his nipotent at the Emperor's court,” in blood-thirsty persecutors, are at all the Low Countries. “ Mary is a mere exaggerated in the telling lines of our puppet, maintained by our nation. frontispiece. It may be well for our Montigni, a man of authority, is a readers to allow the eye to rest awhile tool of the Franciscans. The Cardi- on this delineation of an event in the nal of Liege is an ambitious friend, history of a Church which at this moand when he takes offence, a violent ment eschews toleration as a weakenemy. The Archbishop of Palermo ness, and strives to hide the revealed is a giver of good words, and nothing will of God among the corruptions of else.” We are thus prepared to ex
tradition and infallible interpretations. pect the martyrdom at Vilvorde. But, it may be asked, does Rome
Deserted by England, and perse- now regard the Bible with suspicion ? cuted abroad, William Tyndale was We might answer in the words of led forth on Friday, the 6th of Octo- recent popes, denouncing Protestant ber, 1536, to be put to death, Bible Societies, and limiting the read
ing even of Romish translations. But, “ In confirmation of the noblest claim,Our claim to feed upon immortal truth, Tyndale to a greater length than we
having extended our notice of William To walk with God, to be divinely free,
had intended, we simply confine ourTo soar, and to anticipate the skies.”
selves to one or two extracts from a Before leaving the castle, he deli- recent publication, forming the latest vered a letter to the keeper, addressed instances of opposition to the Bible either to Mr. or Mrs. Poyntz, of Ant- which have come to our knowledge. werp; but no copy of it remains. The following passages are taken from
· Then if you
an article in the December number of follow the Bible, opinions were divided the London City Mission Magazine, and infinite sects were formed, which containing an account of the labours warred in turn against each other. The of an Italian missionary, once a popish Bible therefore produces more harm than priest, who was placed last autumn good, and it is on this account the Pope beside the stand of Bibles in the Great prohibits the reading of it, much more Exhibition :
than because from its obscurity it cannot
be understood by all.'.... “ Among the enemies of the word of
“ Another day I had a short but cuGod (writes the missionary), the person rious conversation with a Portuguese who shewed himnself the most opposed was
priest, who spoke Italian pretty well. an English Roman Catholic priest. I ac
Finding that I was an Italian, he said, costed him one day, pointing out to him
• Are you a Catholic ?' 'Yes,' I replied, in a polite manner the case of Bibles.
.by the grace of God.' He stopped for a moment to observe them
are a Catholic, how is it you are here from a little distance; and while he was
selling Bibles ? •Precisely because I am looking, I offered him one of our papers. a Catholic, I love and desire that the BiHe took it, but after having read one or
ble be read by all.' • But,' replied the more passages of Scripture printed upon priest, ‘I want to know if you are a Roit, he threw it on the ground, saying, 'I
• No, Sir; not Roman, but Neahave nothing to do with the Bible.'
• But how is this?' said he, “ One day I met an Italian Jesuit in somewhat irritated, 'you say you are Cadisguise. I accosted him, and in the tholic, you say you are Italian, and that most respectful manner pointed out the
you are not Roman?' He meant to ask depository of Bibles. He stopped to look
me if I were Roman Catholic ? • Rather at them. While showing him the differ- would I say that I am now English, beent types, I spoke to him of the Christian
cause I live in English dominions. But zeal of the Bible Society, and of the love I am, Sir, a Catholic Christian,-in other among its members in co-operating to
words, I am a Protestant. At this word circulate Bibles through every part of the
the priest became more enraged than known world. On hearing these observa
ever." tions, he interrupted me by asking• Do you
believe that the Bible produces Here we must quit the subject. good to religion and the cause of huma- With such facts as these continually nity ? I answered, “ Yes!' and gave rea- transpiring, we do urge upon our sons drawn from the Bible itself. He re.
readers the duty of cherishing a deplied, 'Sir, before men had the license vout abhorrence of a system which of reading the Bible, the Christian reli
so dishonours the word of God, and gion flourished in its unity, and all lived
the equally imperative duty of labourin quietness, under the direction of one
ing for the enlightenment of the poor only shepherd, which is the Pope, the su
victims of so unscriptural an organipreme head of the universal Church ; but
zation as the Church (so called) of when the people wished to emancipale
Rome. themselves from the head of the Church to