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JUNE, 1852.


(With a Portrait.) TYNDALE was born in Gloucestershire. The date is uncertain: some of our authorities naming 1477, and some 1485. It behoves us to mark Divine Providence in the means of his training. Opportunely for him, and for his country, much attention had now been directed to the learned languages; notwithstanding many an invective from the pulpit, and many a grave warning against Greek, lest it should turn the student into a heretic, and against Hebrew, lest it should make him a Jew! A precious story is told by Sir Thomas More, which will provoke a smile, but is worth knowing for the illustration it casts on a period of our history :-"A lerned Prieste," writes Sir Thomas, “ thorow out all ye Gospels, scraped out diabolus,' and wrote Jesus Christus,' bycause he thought the deuyl's name was not mete to stande in so good a place !"

Our future translator was brought up at St. Mary Magdalen's Hall, Oxford ; whence he removed to Cambridge. Here, it is said, he became “well ripened in God's word.” That he was a diligent and successful student, many portions of our excellent authorised version—which are his, without alteration will show. As early as his University days, there is reason to affirm, his mind was turned to subjects bearing on his future usefulness; but it was in Gloucestershire that his purposes were matured. He resided for some time, as private tutor, in the family of Sir John Walsh, at Little

Vol. XVI. Second Series.


Sodbury Manor-house; devoting his Sundays, however, to preaching, in various places, Bristol among the rest. At the Knight's table he often met the Abbots, and other reverend dignitaries of the neighbourhood. “ Then Tyndale,” says our leading martyrologist, “ as he was learned and well-practised in God's matters, so he spared not to show unto them, simply and plainly, his judgment; and when they at any time did vary from his opinion, he would show them in the Book, and lay before them the manifest places of the Scriptures, to confute their errors, and confirm his sayings." By and by, however, Lady Walsh gave him to understand that, in her view, his remonstrances and argumentations were of little avail, against “doctors ” who might “dispend a hundred pounds," or even “two hundred,” nay, (so closely did this course of logic approach demonstration,) three hundred pounds!” The young tutor could not very well rejoin; but, ere long, the Knight, and her Ladyship too, held him in far other appreciation. The opposition of the Priests became stormy. It

appears from the old chronicler, that their conferences were held in “alehouses !” and these, hereafter, called forth from Tyndale a train of remark which none of us can follow without lively interest:

“A thousand books had they lever (rather) to be put forth against their abominable doings and doctrine, than that the Scripture should come to light. For, as long as they may keep that down, they will so darken the right way with the mist of their sophistry, and so tangle them that either rebuke or despise their abominations, with arguments of philosophy, and with worldly similitudes and apparent reasons of natural wisdom; and with wresting the Scriptures unto their own purpose, clean contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text; and so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them, expounding it in many senses before the unlearned lay-people, (when it hath but one simple literal sense, whose light the owls cannot abide,) that though thou feel in thine heart, and art sure, how that all is false that they say, yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles.

“WHICH THING ONLY MOVED ME TO TRANSLATE THE New Testament.”—Preface to the Five Books of Moses.

That the writer of such sentences should be exposed to persecution, can excite no surprise. Early was he made aware of the storm that already loured on him. It is somewhat remarkable that, “interwoven in one of his drawings,” we find “this prayer,”—cherubs holding the scroll on which it is written :-"

:-Defend me, O Lord, from all them that hate me.-W. 7."* Soon the Priests, Tyndale among them, were summoned to appear before the Chancellor of the diocese. At this tribunal, he received nothing worse than abuse. But, a little time after, he was roused by the dictum of one of his numerous opponents, who, pressed by argument, said, “ We were better to be without God's laws than the Pope's!” This exclamation (alas ! characteristic of the times) drew forth those memorable words of indignant virtue:-“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 PLOUGH TO KNOW MORE OF THE SCRIPTURE THAN YOU DO!”. (By the way, it may be noted, though in anticipation, that this pledge was literally redeemed when Tyndale, during his imprisonment, issued the New Testament in the provincial spelling of the west of England.) The author of such a statement was, of course, denounced as “a heretic in sophistry, a heretic in logic, and now, also, a heretic in divinity.” He found it needful to withdraw from the diocese of Worcester, and innocently went to Tunstal, Bishop of London, dreaming that he should find, in the episcopal palace, a retreat in which he might pursue his sacred toil. Not so, however: his Lordship’s “house was full;" and Tyndale gained nothing by submitting a translation from Isocrates, except a testimony to his literary competency. More substantial hospitality was shown him by a worthy citizen, Humphrey Munmouth; and the translator preached, occasionally at least, at St. Danstan'sin-the-West, Fleet-street. But, too soon, he sorrowfully "understood ” (as he calls back to mind, in the preface to the Pentateuch, already cited,) “not only that there was no room in my Lord of London's palace to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England.

* Offor.


While Wolsey and his minions were pursuing what they were bold enough to call the “quarrel of God,” Tyndale went to the Continent. Without minutely following the detail of his indefatigable labours, let us here take a few notes. In two years he brought out a version of Matthew, one of Mark, and two of the entire New Testament. Interrupted at Cologne by the most wily and disreputable means, he hastened up the Rhine to Worms, A.D. 1525. The result was, that two editions appeared instead of one. These reached our shores early in 1526. The octavo has neither prologue nor glosses. “The Scripture without note comment,” was the ruling idea. “I assure you,” said Tyndale, a little later, to His Majesty's Ambassador, “I assure you, if it would stand with the King's most gracious pleasure to grant only a bare text of the Scriptures to be put forth among his people, I shall immediately make faithful promise never to write more.” So, afterwards, (namely, 1533,) said Fryth, the admirable friend of Tyndale, on English ground, to the Lord Chancellor More: “But this hath been offered you, is offered, and shall be offered. Grant that the word of God- I mean the text of Scripture—may go abroad in our English tongue; and my brother William T'yndale and I have done, and will promise you to write no more. If you will not grant this condition, then will we be doing while we have breath, and show, in few words, that the Scripture doth in many, and so, at the least, save some.” And, once more, Vaughan, the Envoy, says of Tyndale, that “ water stood in his eyes” as he affirmed the same thing.

Now this country began to glare with martyr-fires. That some instances of vacillation occurred, can surprise no one: that there were so few, must awaken joy in every lover of God and man.

Many a noble confessor honoured God, when brought before rulers and councils. Many a martyr, at his last gasp, emulated the gentleness of Stephen, praying that the murderers might find the mercy which they had not learned to show. Meanwhile, in 1532, the pursuit of Tyndale was renewed; and his devoted friend Fryth, who had come to England a little after the Midsummer of that year, had the honour of sitting in the stocks at Reading, -an omen of greater things which he was about to suffer. Apprehended in Essex, this true disciple was very soon committed to the Tower of London. There he wrote himself, “ John Fryth, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, at all times abiding His pleasure ;” and by many other expressions signified his calm expectation of being called to “resist unto blood.” In Tyndale’s communications to his beloved disciple, we find such passages as the following :

“I call God to record, against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God's word against my conscience,” (as Sir T. More had insinuated,) "nor would this day, if all that is in the earth, whether it be pleasure, honour, or riches, might be given me.”—“I hope our redemption is nigh." _" Let Bilney be a warning to you. ... ... Let not your body faint. He that endureth to the end shall be saved. If the pain be above your strength, remember, 'Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, I will give it you,' and pray to your Father in that name, and He shall ease your pain, or shorten it. The Lord of peace, of hope, and of faith, be with you. Amen....... Sir, your wife is well content with the will of God, and would not, for her sake, have the glory of God hindered.

A little later, Fryth might have escaped ; but he could not consent to a questionable device. His crown of martyrdom was untarnished; and henceforth, it appears, “ heretics were taken out of episcopal hands. In the midst of all, the word grew and mightily prevailed. Tyndale, in 1534, sent forth a second impression of Genesis, and a revised edition of the New Testament. In addition to other encouragements, there was a gleam of favour from Queen Anne Boleyn, of which an interesting memento is found in our national Museum,-a copy, presented to that Queen, of the corrected New Testament, printed on vellum, illuminated, and bound in blue morocco.

At length the translator was apprehended, by guile, in Antwerp. For such a result he had long looked. In his writings we find, among statements concerning the burning of the sacred books, most distinct references to the probable burning of him who had penned them. From the friendly

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