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Henry The Testimony of John Frith, in his Book of the Sacrament, con
cerning William Tyndale. A.D. 1536.
And Tyndale I trust liveth, well content with such a poor apostle's life as God gave his Son Christ, and his faithful ministers in this world, who is not sure of so many mites, as ye be yearly of pounds, although I am sure that for his learning and judgment in Scripture, he were more worthy to be promoted than all the bishops in England. I received a letter from him, which was written since
Christmas, wherein, among other matters, he writeth this : * I call God to record words of 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, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honour, pleasure, or riches, might be given me. Moreover, I take God to witness to my conscience, that I desire of God to myself in this world, no more than that, without which I cannot keep his laws,'"&c. Judge, christian reader, whether these words be not spoken of a faithful, clear, innocent heart. And as for his behaviour, it is such that I am sure no man can reprove him of any sin, howbeit no man is innocent before God, who beholdeth the heart.
to John Frith.
Thus much out of Frith. And thus, being about to conclude and finish with the life and story of William Tyndale, it shall be requisite now that the reader do hear something likewise of his supplications made to the king and nobles of the realm, as they are yet extant in his works to be seen, and worthy in all ages to be marked, the tenor whereof tendeth to this effect as followeth.
Tyndale's Supplication to the King, Nobles, and Subjects of
England." I beseech the king's most noble grace, well to consider all the ways by which petition. the cardinal, and our holy bishops, have led him since he was first king; and to
see whereunto all the pride, pomp, and vain boast of the cardinal is come, and how God hath resisted him and our prelates in all their wiles. We, having nothing to do at all, have meddled yet with all matters, and have spent for our prelates causes more than all Christendom, even unto the utter beggaring of ourselves; and have gotten nothing but rebuke and hate among all nations, and a mock and a scorn of them whom we have most holpen. For the Frenchmen (as the saying is) of late days made a play, or a disguising, at Paris, in which the emperor danced with the pope and the French king, and wearied them; the king
of England sitting on a high bench, and looking on. And when it was asked The king why he danced not, it was answered, that he sat there but to pay the minstrels of Eng. their wages : as one who should say, we paid for all men's dancing. We far apays monied the emperor openly, and gave the French king double and treble
secretly; and to the pope also. Yea, and though Ferdinand had money sent openly to blind the world withal, yet the saying is, through all Dutch-land, that
we sent money to the king of Poland, &c. Tyndale's Furthermore, I beseech his grace also to have mercy on his own soul, and
not to suffer Christ and his holy Testament to be persecuted under his name petition.
any longer, that the sword of the wrath of God may be put up again, which, for that cause, no doubt, is most chiefly drawn.
Thirdly, my petition is to his grace, to have compassion on his poor subjects, that the realm utterly perish not with the wicked counsel of our pestilent prelates. For if his grace, who is but a man, should die, the lords and commons not knowing who hath most right to enjoy the crown, the realm could not but stand in great danger.
My fourth suit and exhortation is to all the lords temporal of the realm, that they come and fall before the king's grace, and humbly desire his majesty to suffer it to be tried, who of right ought to succeed : and if he or she fail, who next, and who third. And let it be proclaimed openly; and let all the lords temporal be sworn thereto, and all the knights, and squires, and gentlemen, and
(1) Ex lib. Tynd., 'Praxi prælatorum.'
the commons above eighteen years old, that there be no strife for the succession. Henry If they try it by the sword, I promise them, I see no other likelihood, but it will cost the realm of England, &c.'
A. D. Further, of all the subjects of England this I crave—that they repent; for
1536. the cause of evil rulers is the sin of the subjects, as testifieth the Scripture. And the cause of false preachers is, that the people have no love unto the truth, His fifth saith Paul, in 1 Thess. ii. We be all sinners a hundred times greater than ali petition. that we suffer. Let us, therefore, each forgive others, remembering the greater sinners the more welcome, if we repent; according to the similitude of the riotous son. For Christ died for sinners, and is their Saviour, and his blood is their treasure, to pay for their sins. He is that fatted calf which is slain to make them good cheer withal, if they will repent and come to their Father again; and his merits are the goodly raiment to cover the naked deformities on their sins.
Finally, if the persecution of the king's grace, and other temporal persons, conspiring with the spiritualty, be of ignorance, I doubt not but that their eyes shall be opened shortly, and they shall see and repent, and God shall show them mercy. But if it be of a set malice against the truth, and of a grounded hate against the law of God, by the reason of a full consent they have to sin, and to walk in their old ways of ignorance, whereunto, being now past all repentance, they have utterly yielded themselves, to follow with full lust, without bridle or snaffle (which is the sin against the Holy Ghost), then ye shall see, even shortly, that God shall turn the point of the sword wherewith they now shed Christ's blood, homeward, to shed their own again, after all the examples of the Bible.
These things thus discoursed, pertaining to the story and doings of Tyndale, finally it remaineth to infer certain of his private letters and epistles, whereof, among divers others which have not come to our hands, two special he wrote to John Frith, one properly, under his own name, another under the name of Jacob; but, in very deed, it was written and delivered to John Frith, being prisoner then in the Tower, as ye shall further understand by the sequel hereafter. The copy and tenor of the epistles here followeth.
A Letter sent from William Tyndale unto Master Frith, being in the
Tower. The grace and peace of God our Father, and of Jesus Christ our Lord, be with you, Amen. Dearly beloved brother John! I have heard say, how the hypocrites, now that they have overcome that great business which letted them, or at the least way have brought it to a stay, they return to their old nature again. The will of God be fulfilled, and that which he hath ordained to be, ere the world was made, that come, and his glory reign over all !
Dearly beloved ! however the matter be, commit yourself wholly and only unto your most loving Father, and most kind Lord. Fear not men that threat, nor trust men that speak fair; but trust him that is true of promise, and able to make his word good. Your cause is Christ's gospel, a light that must be fed with the blood of faith. The lamp must be dressed and snuffed daily, and that oil poured in every evening and morning, that the light go not out. Though we be sinners, yet is the cause right. If when we be buffeted for well doing, we suffer patiently and endure, that is acceptable to God;' for to that end we are called. For Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps, who did no sin. Hereby have we perceived love, that he had laid down his life for us ; therefore we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. For we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body; according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto him.
Dearly beloved ! be of good courage, and comfort your soul with the hope of this high reward, and bear the image of Christ in your mortal body, that it may, (1) I pray God this be not a prophecy against England. (2) Luke xv.
(3) 1 Pet. ii. (4) 1 Joha ix.
(5) Matt v.
(6) Rom. viii. Phil. ii.
ence to God.
Henry at his coming, be made like to his, immortal; and follow the example of all
your other dear brethren, who choose to suffer in hope of a better resurrection. A. D.
Keep your conscience pure and undefiled, and say against that, nothing. Stick 1536.
necessary things, and remember the blasphemies of the enemies of Christ,
saying, they find none but that will abjure, rather than suffer the extremity. Boldness Moreover, the death of them that come again after they have once denied, of spirit. though it be accepted with God, and all that believe, yet it is not glorious : for Death,
the hypocrites say 'He must needs die; denying helpeth not. But, might it denying, have holpen, they would have denied five hundred times; but seeing it would
not help them, therefore, of pure pride and mere malice together, they spake of by the with their mouths, what their conscience knoweth false.' If you give yourself
, cast yourself, yield yourself, commit yourself, wholly and only to your loving
Father; then shall his power be in you, and make you strong; and that so Obedi
you shall feel no pain, which should be to another present death: and his Spirit shall speak in you, and teach you what to answer, according to his promise. He shall set out his truth by you wonderfully, and work for you above all that your heart can imagine : yea and you are not yet dead, though the hopocrites all, with all that they can make, have sworn your death. • Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem ;' to look for no man's help, bringeth the help of God to them that seem to be overcome in the eyes of the hypocrites : yea, it shall make God to carry you through thick and thin for his truth's sake, in spite of all the enemies of his truth. There falleth not a hair, till his hour be come; and when his hour is come, necessity carrieth us hence, though we be not willing. But if we be willing, then have we a reward and thank.
Fear not the threatening therefore, neither be overcome of sweet words, rance to with which twain the hypocrites shall assail you; neither let the persuasions of
worldly wisdom bear rule in your heart; no, though they be your friends that Bilney. counsel you. Let Bilney be a warning to you, let
not their visor beguile your eyes. 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.
Martyrs for the gospel.
Two have suffered in Antwerp, ' In die sanctæ crucis,' unto the great glory of the gospel; four at Risele in Flanders, and at Lucca hath there one at the least suffered ; and all the same day. At Rouen in France they persecute, and at Paris are five doctors taken for the gospel. See, you are not alone; be cheerful, and remember that among the hard hearted in England, there is a number reserved by grace ; for whose sakes, if need be, you must be ready to suffer. Sir, if you may write, how short soever it be, forget it not, that we may know how it goeth with you, for our heart's ease. The Lord be yet again with you with all his plenteousness, and fill
you flow over, Amen. If, when you have read this, you may send it to drian, do, I pray you, that he may know how that our heart is with you.
George Joy at Candlemas, being at Barrois, printed two leaves of Genesis in a great form, and sent one copy to the king, and another to the new queen, with a letter to N., to deliver them; and to purchase license, that he might so go through all the Bible. Out of this is sprung the noise of the new Bible; and out of that is the great seeking for English books at all printers and bookbinders in Antwerp, and for an English priest, that should print.
This chanced the ninth day of May.
Sir, your wife is well content with the will of God, and would not, for her sake, have the glory of God hindered.
Another notable and worthy Letter of Master William Tyndale,
sent to the said John Frith, under the name of Jacob. The grace of our Saviour Jesus, his patience, meekness, humbleness, circumspection, and wisdom, be with your heart, Amen. (1) To look for no man's help, bringeth God's help.
(2) Matt, xxii.
Dearly beloved brother Jacob, mine heart's desire in our Saviour Jesus, is, Henry that you arm yourself with patience, and be cold, sober, wise, and circumspect, and that you keep you alow by the ground, avoiding high questions, that pass A. D. the common capacity. But expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses 1536 to condemn all flesh; and prove all men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, to be sin and dam- Deeds nable ; and then, as a faithful minister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord faith, are Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of the water of him. And then sin. shall your preaching be with power, and not as the doctrine of the hypocrites; and the Spirit of God shall work with you, and all consciences shall bear record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doctrine that casteth a mist on The law those two, to shadow and hide them (I mean the law of God, and mercy of of God, Christ), that resist you with all your power. Sacraments without signification mercy or refuse. If they put significations to them, receive them, if you see it may help, Christ. though it be not necessary.
of the presence of Christ's body in the sacrament, meddle as little as you can, that there appear no division among us. Barnes will be hot against you. The Saxons be sore on the affirmative: whether constant or obstinate, I commit it to God. Philip Melancthon is said to be with the French king. There be in Antwerp that say, they saw him come into Paris with a hundred and fifty horses, and that they spake with him. If the Frenchmen receive the word of God, he will plant the affirmative in them. George Joy would have put forth a treatise of the matter, but I have stopped him as yet: what he will do if he get money, I wot not. I believe he would make many reasons little serving to the purpose. My mind is that nothing be put forth till we hear how you shall have sped. I would have the right use preached, and the presence to be an indifferent thing, till the matter might be reasoned in peace, at leisure, of both parties. If you be required, show the phrases of the Scripture, and let them talk what they will : for as to believe that God is everywhere, hurteth no man that worshippeth him nowhere but within in the heart, in spirit and verity ; even so, to believe that the body of Christ is everywhere (though it cannot be proved), hurteth no man that worshippeth him nowhere save in the faith of his gospel.You perceive my mind : howbeit if God show you otherwise, it is free for you to do as he moveth you.
I guessed long ago, that God would send a dazing into the head of the Ubiquity spiritualty, to catch themselves in their own subtlety, and I trust it is come to cannot be
proved pass. And now methinketh I smell a counsel to be taken, little for their profits in time to come. But you must understand, that it is not of a pure heart, and for love of the truth, but to avenge themselves, and to eat the whore's flesh, and to suck the marrow of her bones.* Wherefore cleave fast to the rock of the help of God, and commit the end of all things to him : and Worldly if God shall call you, that you may then use the wisdom of the worldly, as far wisdom, as you perceive the glory of God may come thereof, refuse it not; and ever so far as among thrust in, that the Scripture may be in the mother tongue, and learn- serve ing set up in the universities. But if aught be required contrary to the glory God's of God, and his Christ, then stand fast, and commit yourself to God, and be not
glory, overcome of men's persuasions; which haply shall say, We see no other way to used. bring in the truth.
Brother Jacob, beloved in my heart! there liveth not in whom I have so good hope and trust, and in whom my heart rejoiceth, and my soul comforteth herself, as in you; not the thousandth part so much for your learning, and what other gifts else you have, as because you will creep alow by the ground, and Lowly walk in those things that the conscience may feel, and not in the imaginations walkings. of the brain ; in fear, and not in boldness; in open necessary things, and not to pronounce or define of hid secrets, or things that neither help nor hinder, whether it be so or no; in unity, and not in seditious opinions: insomuch that if you be sure you know, yet in things that may abide leisure, you will defer, or say (till others agree with you), · Methinks the text requireth this sense oi understanding.' Yea, and if you be sure that your part be good, and another (1) Master Tyndale here beareth with time. (2) By the atfirmative, he meaneth the opinion which M. Luther and the Saxons do hold of the (3) Master Tyndale again beareth with time. (4) • Eating the whore's tleshi,' is to spoil the pope's church only for the prey and spoil thereof.
in the translation of
A low heart
Henry hold the contrary, yet if it be a thing that maketh no matter, you will laugh
and let it pass, and refer the thing to other men, and stick you stitily and stubA.D.
bornly in earnest and necessary things. And I trust you be persuaded even so 1536.
of me: for 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 Upright of God's word against my conscience, nor would this day, if all that is in the handling
earth, whether it be pleasure, honour, or riches, might be given me. Moreover, I take God to record to my conscience, that I desire of God, to myself in
this world, no more than that, without which I cannot keep his laws. Tyndale.
Finally, if there were in me any gift that could help at hand, and aid you if need required, I promise you I would not be far off, and commit the end to God. My soul is not faint, though my body be weary. But God hath made me evil favoured in this world, and without grace in the sight of men, speechless and rude, dull and slow witted : your part shall be to supply what lacketh
in me; remembering that as lowliness of heart shall make you high with God, maketh even so meekness of words shall make you sink into the hearts of men. Nature high with giveth age authority, but meekness is the glory of youth, and giveth them
honour. Abundance of love maketh me exceed in babbling.
Sir, as concerning purgatory and many other things, if you be demanded, you may say, if you err, the spiritualty hath so led you, and that they have taught you to believe as you do. For they preached you all such things out of God's word, and alleged a thousand texts, by reason of which texts you believed as they taught you; but now you find them liars, and that the texts mean no such things, and therefore you can believe them no longer; but are as you were before they taught you, and believe no such thing : howbeit you are ready to believe, if they have any other way to prove it: for without proof you cannot believe them, when you have found them with so many lies, &c. If you perceive wherein we may help, either in being still, or doing somewhat, let us have word, and I will do mine uttermost.
My lord of London hath a servant called John Tisen, with a red beard, and a black-reddish head, and who was once my scholar: he was seen in Antwerp, but came not among the Englishmen. Whether he is gone an ambassador secret, I wot not.
The mighty God of Jacob be with you, to supplant his enemies, and give you the favour of Joseph : and the wisdom and the spirit of Stephen be with your heart, and with your mouth, and teach your lips what they shall say, and how to answer to all things. He is our God, if we despair in ourselves, and trust in him : and his is the glory. Amen. I hope our redemption is nigh.
This letter was written A.D. 1533, in the month of January: which letter, although it do pretend the name of Jacob, yet understand, good reader, that it was written in very deed to John Frith, as is above told thee. For the more proof and evidence hereof, read Frith's book of the sacrament, and there thou shalt find a certain place of this epistle repeated word for word, beginning thus ; "I call God to record, against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus to give a reckoning of our doing, that I never altered one syllable of God's word against my conscience," &c.; which epistle John Frith himself witnesseth that he received from Tyndale, as in his testimony above appeareth.
THE DEATH OF THE LADY KATHARINE, PRINCESS
AND THAT OF QUEEN ANNE.
The same year in which William Tyndale was burned, which was A.D. 1536, in the beginning of the year, first died lady Katharine, princess dowager, in the month of January.
After whom, the same year also, in the month of May next