Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

name.

the acquaintance of Luther, and other learned men, who sanctioned his preaching among his own countrymen at Antwerp and its vicinity. In 1526, he obtained the friendship and assistance of John Frith, a learned Englishman, by whose assistance he was encouraged to publish the first edition of his New Testament. It appeared in small octavo without a

Fifteen hundred were first published. These were brought into England and privately circulated. The clergy were mightily displeased at this attempt. The utmost diligence was used in endeavouring to collect and destroy the copies. But the more it was condemned the more eagerly was it sought after and read; insomuch that the Dutch booksellers printed and sold four editions of it without the sanction of Tyndale. While they were thus making a gain of his labours, he was proceeding with a translation of the five books of Moses, with the intention of their publication. After the disgrace of Cardinal Wolsey, who had suffered no person to be persecuted for heresy while he was in power, Sir Thomas More persuaded the king to enforce the laws against heresy, and to prevent the importation of books from the continent. Tonstal also collected what copies of Tyndale's Testament could be collected, and had them burnt by the hands of the common hangman in Cheapside.

There is a curious and interesting circumstance related of Tonstal in reference to the labours of Tyndale, which among the few facts of Tyndale's history ought to be preserved. Being at Antwerp in the year 1529, the bishop sent for an English merchant of the name of Packington, and inquired of him how many copies of Tyndale's New Testament he could purchase. The merchant immediately made Tyndale acquainted with the bishop's proposal. Being poor and in want of the means of publishing a new and revised edition, he immediately contracted for the sale of all his remaining copies. For these he received ready money; the books were brought to England and destroyed, but a new and corrected edition was speedily on sale. This occasioned much merriment at the expense of the bishop. For, Sir Thomas More inquiring who encouraged and supported Tyndale, was told, it was the bishop of London. In order to check all similar efforts and to discourage Tyndale in his further proceedings, Sir Thomas ridiculed the version in a dialogue which was published in 1529. To this Tyndale wrote a large and able reply, but with little effect upon the mind of his enemies at home ; for in a court of the star-chamber, the king, with the concurrence of the universities, the clergy and bishops, condemned and prohibited his version as heretical.

Undaunted by these efforts to repress his labours, he proceeded with his translations from the Old Testament; but in removing about this period by sea to Hamburgh, was shipwrecked and lost all his books, manuscripts and money. Having, however, in the midst of all these difficulties made his way to Hamburgh, he met with Miles Coverdale, who was also engaged in the translation of the scriptures. They became intimate friends, and proceeded together to accomplish a new translation of the Pentateuch, which they published at Murburg about 1530. It is doubtful whether they made their translation from the Vulgate Latin or from the Hebrew. If they took the Vulgate as their text, it is probable that they consulted the Hebrew in the case of difficulties; but it is questioned whether they were sufficiently masters of that

language to make their version directly from it, without the interven. tion of a version.

These labours, with the occasional revision of his New Testament, occupied Tyndale till the year 1534. The fourth surreptitious edition of his Testament, which was published before his own second, was superintended by one George Joy, a Bedfordshire man, who made some alterations. This edition was printed at Antwerp in August, 1534. Tyndale had by this time proceeded in the Old Testament as far as Nehemiah. But while he was thus advancing in his benevolent efforts, his former friend and fellow-labourer, John Frith, was seized in England and cast into the Tower, and some time after, a secret plan was formed for effecting the destruction of Tyndale. It will excite no astonishment that so accomplished an advocate of the Reformation, so able a translator of that book which the church of Rome has always deeply feared and pertinaciously kept from the people, that so intrepid a foe to ecclesiastical corruptions and abominations, should become the object of universal hatred and of an exterminating rancour which could never rest till it found the means of entire satisfaction.

Having removed back from Hamburgh to Antwerp, Tyndale formed an acquaintance with one Henry Phillips, employed, it is said, by the English bishops, for the purpose of luring Tyndale to his destruction. After Phillips had lived with him for many months, he went secretly to Brussels and obtained the sanction and aid of imperial authority. He returned to Antwerp with the emperor's attorney and other officers. He next invited Tyndale out to dinner, and waited himself to accom. pany his friend. Accepting this invitation with some reluctance, the good man left his house in company with Phillips, who, on passing the threshold, gave a sign like Judas to the officers. Rushing upon their victim with furious haste they dragged him instantly away. The same day the emperor's attorney took possession of all his papers and effects. From Antwerp he was conveyed to the castle of Filford, where he remained a year and six months in close confinement. During this time the utmost exertions were made by the English merchants at Antwerp. by a person of the name of Poyntz with whom he had lodged, and by others to obtain his release. Lord Cromwell also wrote to the emperor to the same effect, but all to no purpose. Tyndale's fidelity and composure were, however, nothing shaken by these persecutions. He pursued his reforming labours even in prison, and made converts of his gaoler and several of his family. At length he was brought to trial at Augsburgh, and condemned to be strangled and burnt: the sentence was carried into effect in the year 1530. The last words he uttered were, “ Lord, open the king of England's eyes.”

He lived for the benefit of mankind, and died a martyr in the cause of religion. Of his character, his enemies have left a memorial with which his friends might be satisfied, that he was “homo doctus, pius, et bonus." His life and manners were pure and blameless, yet he died by the hands of Christians for promoting the use of that document which is the foundation of their religion. In his preface to the New Testament, he writes, “I call God to witness, when I shall appear at the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of all my actions, that I have not altered one syllable of God's word against my conscience, nor would I for all the honours of this world, if they were laid at my feet." The pedigree of our authorized version is no doubt to be traced back to Tyndale. It appears indeed that there never has been an entirely new translation of the Bible since the days of Coverdale and Tyndale. Different editions have from time to time been sent out, with some alterations, made under authority, but for the basis of the text we are indebted at the present day to these two humble individuals, and chiefly to Tyndale-a man who so ardently desired to communicate to his countrymen the knowledge of the word of God, that he continually hazarded his life and all his earthly comforts in endeavouring to effect it, and at last paid the awful price of martyrdom for his benevolence.

His other works, whicb were published and read with great avidity, were, 1. • The obedience of a Christian man.' 2.• The wicked Mammon.' 3. "The practice of Prelates. 4. · An answer to Sir Thomas More.' 5. • Expositions of Important passages of Scripture' and some smaller works. All his pieces were collected and printed with those of Frith and Barnes, in one vol. folio, 1572. Dr Geddes speaks in high terms of the version by Tyndale, and thinks that in point of perspicuity and noble simplicity it has never been surpassed. The whole works of Tyndale, including his prologues to his several translations of the books of scripture with numerous entertaining and illustrative notes, have been reprinted in the English and Scottish Reformers,' edited by Rev. T Russell.

John Bradford.

DIED A.D. 1555.

This eminent martyr was born at Manchester, in Lancashire. In early life he became steward of the household to Sir John Harrington, but, on imbibing the pure doctrines of the gospel from some of the forcign protestants then in England, he resolved to dedicate his future life to the service of preaching Christ. He accordingly went to Cambridge, and, after due attendance, was chosen fellow of Pembroke hall. His principal tutor, while at the university, was Martin Bucer, who soon discovered the worth of his pupil, and greatly assisted and encouraged him in his preparations for the ministry. On taking orders, he was presented by Dr Ridley, then bishop of London, with a prebendal stall in St Paul's. Immediately after Mary's accession, Bradford was committed to the Tower, and, on the 22d of January, 1555, he was brought before the commissioners appointed for his trial. At the close of the examination, the lord-chancellor offered mercy if the prisoner would accept of it on the queen's terms; whereupon Bradford replied, “ Mercy, with God's mercy, should be wel. come; but otherwise I will have none." His execution took place at Smithfield on the 1st of July, 1555. During his imprisonment, he chiefly occupied himself in preaching to the other prisoners, and to those who, attracted by the fame of his extraordinary gifts as a preacher and expounder of the scriptures, crowded to hear him in the Poultry Compter, by permission of the gaoler. He also devoted much of his

· Fox's Acts and Monuments.- Middleton.-Lives of the Reformers.

time to the compilation of hortatory epistles to his brethren in faith and suffering, especially to Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, then in bonds at Oxford, with whom he was particularly anxious to come to a sound and unanimous decision upon some points of faith.

Hugh Latimer.

BORN A. D. 1470.-DIED A. D. 1555.

Hugh LATIMER was the son of a respectable yeoman, and was born at Thurcaston, in Leicestershire, in the year 1470. He received his early education in a country school, and at the age of fourteen was removed to Cambridge. He was brought up a zealous Romanist, but becoming acquainted with Mr Thomas Bilney at Cambridge, he gradually changed his opinions, and, being of an ardent and ingenuous disposition, he became a zealous promoter of the protestant doctrines. He first attracted the notice of the papists by a series of discourses, in which he enforced the uncertainty of tradition, the vanity of works of supererogation, and the pride and pomp of the Roman hierarchy. These discourses were attacked by Buckenham with great warmth. Buckenham was prior of the Black friars at Cambridge, then the seat of ignorance, bigotry, and superstition. Latimer opposed him with great zeal and acuteness, and greatly advanced the protestant interest at Cambridge. The unaffected piety of Mr Bilney, and the pungent and cheerful eloquence of honest Latimer, wrought so much on the junior students, and so greatly increased the credit of the protestants, that the popish clergy were alarmed, and, according to their usual practice, called aloud for the secular arm. The bishop of Ely interdicted his preaching within the jurisdiction of the university; the order was defeated by Dr Barnes, prior of the Augustines, who being friendly to the Reformation, boldly licensed Latimer to preach in his chapel, which was exempt from episcopal interference. At length the progress of the new opinions was represented to Cardinal Wolsey, who, at the importunity of Archbishop Warham, created a court of bishops and deacons to put the laws in execution against heretics. Before this court Bilney and Latimer were summoned, and the former, who was considered the principal, being induced to recant, the whole were set at liberty; and such was the favour extended to Latimer, that he was licensed by the bishop of London to preach throughout England. Bilney was filled with such deep remorse, on account of his recantation, that he afterwards disclaimed his abjuration, and sought the stake, which so excited the rage of his enemies, that he was speedily doomed to martyrdom, and suffered it at Norwich in 1531. His suffering did not shake the reformation at Cambridge, but rather inspired the leaders thereof with fresh courage. Latimer was roused to more exertion, and filled that place which Bilney had occupied in this important work. So far was Latimer from being intimidated by the sufferings of his friend, that he wrote to King Henry VIII. against a proclamation then just published, forbidding the use of the Bible in Eng

· Fox says 1475.

a

lish, and of other books on religious subjects. He had preached before his majesty once or twice at Windsor, and had been noticed by him in a more affable manner than that monarch usually indulged towards his subjects. But whatever hopes of preferment his sovereign's favour might have raised, he chose to hazard all rather than to omit what he thought to be his duty. Although this epistle did not produce the desired effect, Henry, who loved openness, took it in good part, and presented him to the living of West Kington, in Wiltshire. This mark of royal favour was doubtless, in some degree, to be attributed to the influence of Lord Cromwell, who was now become a favourite with Henry, and who was a friend to the Reformation.

The ascendancy of Anne Boleyn proved still more favourable to Latimer, who went, immediately after his presentation, to reside on his benefice, where he discharged his duty in a very zealous and conscientious manner, though much persecuted by the Romish clergy. At length the malice of his enemies obtained an archiepiscopal citation for his appearance in London. His friends advised him to fee; but their persuasions were in vain. He set out for London in the depth of winter, under a severe fit of the stone and cholic, but he was more distressed at the thought of leaving his parish exposed to the popish clergy, than at the prospect of his own troubles. On his arrival in London, he found a court of bishops ready to receive him. Instead of being examined, as he expected, about his sermons, a paper was put into his hand, which he was ordered to subscribe, declarative of his belief in the efficacy of masses for souls in purgatory, of prayers to dead saints, of pilgrimages to their sepulchres and reliques, the pope's power to forgive sins, the doctrine of merit, the seven sacraments, and the worship of images. When he refused to sign, the archbishop, with a frown, begged he would consider what he did. The next day, and frequently afterwards, this scene was renewed and continued. He continued inflexible, and they continued to distress him. They regularly sent for him three times on every week, with a view to wear out his patience and tease him into a compliance. Tired with this usage, at length he sent a remonstrance to the bishop, which was truly character. istic of the faithfulness and boldness of his character. The bishops continued their persecutions until their schemes were frustrated in an unexpected manner, by Latimer being raised to the see of Worcester, in 1535, by the favour of Queen Anne Boleyn, to whom he had been recommended by Lord Cromwell. He had now a more extensive field to promote the principles of the Reformation, in which he laboured with the utmost pains and assiduity. All the historians of the day mention him as a person remarkably zealous in the discharge of his official duties, and whose fidelity could not be seduced by smiles nor terrified by frowns. One remarkable instance of his courage in administering seasonable reproof is much to his honour. It was customary for the bishops to make presents to the king on the new-year's-day. Latimer on this occasion presented his majesty with a New Testament, having the leaf turned down to this passage,—“Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." King Henry was not offended; and, on an occasion soon after, when Latimer was brought before him to answer for some passages in a sermon he had preached at court, his honest defence so pleased the king that he dismissed him with a smile.

« AnteriorContinuar »