November 15, 2023
… a 5 minute read
“While Luther was opening a closed Bible to the people of Germany, Tyndale was impelled by the Spirit of God to do the same for England. Wycliffe’s Bible had been translated from the Latin text, which contained many errors. It had never been printed, and the cost of manuscript copies was so great that few but wealthy men or nobles could procure it; and, furthermore, being strictly proscribed by the church, it had had a comparatively narrow circulation. In 1516, a year before the appearance of Luther’s theses, Erasmus had published his Greek and Latin version of the New Testament. Now for the first time the word of God was printed in the original tongue. In this work many errors of former versions were corrected, and the sense was more clearly rendered. It led many among the educated classes to a better knowledge of the truth, and gave a new impetus to the work of reform. But the common people were still, to a great extent, debarred from God’s word. Tyndale was to complete the work of Wycliffe in giving the Bible to his countrymen.”
~ A diligent student and an earnest seeker for truth, he (Tyndale) had received the gospel from the Greek Testament of Erasmus
~ he fearlessly preached his convictions, urging that all doctrines be tested by the Scriptures
~ to the papist claim that the church had given the Bible, and the church alone could explain it, Tyndale responded:
“Do you know who taught the eagles to find their prey?
Well, that same God teaches His hungry children to find their Father in His word.
Far from having given us the Scriptures, it is you who have hidden them from us;
it is you who burn those who teach them, and if you could, you would burn the Scriptures themselves.”
~ D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 18, ch. 4
~ Tyndale’s preaching excited great interest
~ many accepted the truth
~ but the priests were on the alert, no sooner had he left the field than they by their threats and misrepresentations endeavored to destroy his work
~ too often they succeeded
~ new purpose now took possession of his mind
“It was in the language of Israel,” said he,
“that the psalms were sung in the temple of Jehovah;
and shall not the gospel speak the language of England among us?
… Ought the church to have less light at noonday than at the dawn?
… Christians must read the New Testament in their mother tongue.”
~ the doctors and teachers of the church disagreed among themselves
~ only by the Bible could men arrive at the truth
~ It wasn’t long after that a learned Catholic doctor, engaging in controversy with him, exclaimed:
“We were better to be without God’s laws than the pope’s.”
Tyndale replied: “I defy the pope and all his laws; and if God spare my life,
ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plow to know
more of the Scripture than you do.”
~ Anderson, Annals of the English Bible, page 19
~ the purpose which he had begun to cherish, of giving to the people the New Testament Scriptures in their own language, was now confirmed, and he immediately applied himself to the work
~ driven from his home by persecution, he went to London, and there for a time pursued his labors undisturbed – but soon had to flee due to the violence of the papists
~ all of England seemed closed against him, and he resolved to seek shelter in Germany, where he began the printing of the English New Testament
~ twice the work was stopped; but when forbidden to print in one city, he went to another
~ eventually he found his way to Worms
~ in that ancient city were many friends of the Reformation, and Tyndale there prosecuted his work without further hindrance
~ three thousand copies of the New Testament were soon finished, and another edition followed in the same year
~ with great earnestness and perseverance he continued his labors
~ the English authorities had guarded their ports with the strictest vigilance, but the word of God was in various ways secretly conveyed to London and thence circulated throughout the country
~ the papists attempted to suppress the truth, but to no avail
~ the bishop of Durham at one time bought of a bookseller who was a friend of Tyndale his whole stock of Bibles, for the purpose of destroying them, supposing that this would greatly hinder the work
~ but, on the contrary, the money furnished and purchased material for a new and better edition, which, but for this, could not have been published
~ when Tyndale was afterward made a prisoner, his liberty was offered him on condition that he would reveal the names of those who had helped him meet the expense of printing his Bibles, he replied that the bishop of Durham had done more than any other person – for by paying a large price for the books left on hand, he had enabled him to go on with good courage
~ Tyndale was betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and at one time suffered imprisonment for many months
~ he finally witnessed for his faith by a martyr’s death
~ but the weapons which he prepared have enabled other soldiers to do battle through all the centuries even to our time
~ Latimer maintained from the pulpit that the Bible ought to be read in the language of the people
~ Barnes and Frith, the faithful friends of Tyndale, arose to defend the truth
~ the Ridleys and Cranmer followed
~ these leaders in the English Reformation were men of learning, most of them had been highly esteemed for zeal or piety in the Romish communion
~ their opposition to the papacy was the result of their knowledge of the errors of the “holy see”
~ their acquaintance with the mysteries of Babylon gave greater power to their testimonies against her
“Now I would ask a strange question,” said Latimer.
“Who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England?
… I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him.
… I will tell you: it is the devil.
… He is never out of his diocese; call for him when you will, he is ever at home;
… he is ever at his plow…. Ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you….
Where the devil is resident, … there away with books, and up with candles;
away with Bibles, and up with beads; away with the light of the gospel,
and up with the light of candles, yea, at noondays;
… down with Christ’s cross, up with purgatory pickpurse;
… away with clothing the naked, the poor, and impotent,
up with decking of images and gay garnishing of stocks and stones;
up with man’s traditions and his laws, down with God’s traditions and His most holy word….
O that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine,
as Satan is to sow cockle and darnel!”
~ Ibid., “Sermon of the Plough.”
~ the grand principle maintained by these Reformers – the same that had been held by the Waldenses, by Wycliffe, by John Huss, by Luther, Zwingli, and those who united with them – was the infallible authority of the Holy Scriptures as a rule of faith and practice
~ they denied the right of popes, councils, “Fathers”, and kings, to control the conscience in matters of religion
~ the Bible was their authority, and by its teaching they tested all doctrines and all claims
~ Faith in God and His word sustained these holy men as they yielded up their lives at the stake
source and to read more: The Great Controversy: later English reformers by E.G. White
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