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Bible was steadily carried out in secret, and through dangers that in the nineteenth century it is almost impossible to imagine, few can refuse the highest honours to his memory. Let us pause, and, at the period of John Fryth's death, review his life, before we contemplate its close. By a well-spent life at college, he attained learning and knowledge. The lonely boy, musing over The New Doctrines,' as they were styled, as he wandered on Stinchcombe Hill, as a youth, worked hard to fit himself for a life of labour and exertion. Again as a man, conceiving, in retirement at Sodbury, the outlines of his life's purpose and aim, he must have been strengthened for his future life of sacrifice, by counting well all it would cost him to give up country, friends, and life, that an English Bible might dispel the darkness of error from his loved England.
Again, we find Tyndale beginning his translation at Hamburg, continuing it at Cologne and at Worms, alone and unaided, finishing it whilst flying from place to place, till, finally, he completed it at Antwerp. The story of his life teaches us, that perseverance and striving to perform all that we take in hand, will never fail to attain its end in the long
He was a man raised up to do a special work, and he did it; though his labours were rewarded but by exile, persecution, and death.
After Fryth's death, he lived almost entirely at Antwerp, and occupied himself in arranging his several translations, so as to form one entire and complete English Bible. His wants were all amply provided for by the English merchants at Antwerp. He was extremely self-denying, spending hardly anything on himself, but giving almost his whole
income away in charity to the many poor English driven away from England by persecution. These he visited twice a week-on Mondays and on Saturdays—which he called days of pastime, as he then laid aside his labours. On Sundays he used to read the Scriptures to the English merchants, and is described at that time, 'As a man without any spot or blemish; of rancour or malice; full of mercy and compassion, so that no man living was able to reprove him of any sin or crime. But these qualities did not save him. His doctrines were called heretical, and his enemies in England were numerous. Henry VIII. might have saved him, but he does not seem to have made any efforts to do so. The chief mover of the intrigue, which resulted in Tyndale's death, was, no doubt, Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester; but he was only the head of a numerous party. The reigning Princess in Flanders was a complete tool in the hands of the Jesuits, and her consent was obtained to Tyndale’s apprehension, under pretext of his having infringed one of the Emperor's decrees against heresy, by his works on the Sacrament. They dared not take him openly in the City of Antwerp, so they resorted to stratagem. Two men were sent over to accomplish this. The first was a native of Dorsetshire, the second was a monk named Gabriel Donne. These two arrived at Antwerp disguised as a gentleman and his servant.
Phillips soon found means of becoming acquainted with Tyndale, and managed so completely to ingratiate himself with him, that he actually asked Phillips to lodge in the house he himself was living in; and showed him all his manuscripts. The great translator lived in the house of a Mr. Pointz, an English
merchant, distantly related to his early friend, Lady Walsh. This good gentleman was obliged to leave home unexpectedly a few months after Phillips had come to live in his house; and, on his return, he found that Tyndale had been apprehended, by letters procured from Brussels, and imprisoned in the fortress of Vilvarden, about three and twenty miles from Antwerp. Phillips had cunningly waited till Pointz was from home, and then sent word to the authorities in Brussels that the victim' was ready. He absented himself, also, for a day or two; and on his return, pretended to be short of money, whereupon Tyndale, ever simple and generous, pressed some upon his acceptance. He then asked Tyndale to dine with him that day at his lodging. “Nay,' said Tyndale, 'I go forth this day to dinner, and you shall go with me, and be my guest, where you shall be welcome.
The two then prepared to go out. As they were going into the hollow passage, leading to the door, Phillips drew back; and, as if from courtesy, begged Tyndale to precede him. This was a preconcerted measure, the officers being already stationed close to the doorway; Tyndale being shorter than Phillips, the latter pointed over his head to the officers, to show that that was the man to be their prisoner. Pointz was in despair when he returned, and left no means untried to obtain his liberation. He might, perhaps, have succeeded, but that Phillips got him thrown into prison on a false accusation; and Pointz was liberated too late, as Tyndale was then dead. While in prison, Tyndale conducted a long paper controversy with the learned men of the University of Louvain; and so won all around him, that he converted his jailor and his whole family. After a year and a half's imprisonment, he underwent, in 1536, a kind of trial, at which he defended himself, 'refusing the aid of counsel. He was found guilty of heresy, and condemned to death, on the 6th day of October; his jailor, overcome with grief, led him out to the front of the castle; and here Tyndale took an affectionate leave of him, and his wife and daughter. Amid their tears and sobs, he turned and looked once more at the fortress calmly, as if to take a last farewell of all his earthly trials.
His step was firm; his bearing gentle. His enemies might destroy his body by an ignominious death; but they were powerless over William Tyndale's undaunted soul.
In that dread moment, his whole life seemed to pass before him. He had attained his fiftieth year; so that his days had been longer on earth than that of the heroic Fryth. Like Fryth, he forgave, in dying, all his enemies. And his last words pronounced, in a loud tone of voice, were, 'Lord, open the eyes of the King of England!' He then knelt down, and after a few moments' prayer, was strangled; and his body then consumed to ashes. His memory lives among us yet; and if no outward monument of our obligations to him has ever been erected, it matters but little; for few-hearing and reading those Scriptures, which he made plain even for the lowly ploughboy, whom, three centuries ago, he predicted might one day read God's word for himself-can ever forget England's obligations to William Tyndale, the translator of our first English Bible.
THE LIFE OF A GREAT SCULPTOR,
CLERGYMAN passing one day through New
Street, Covent Garden, remarked in a shop window a number of plaster casts; and one of them taking his fancy, he entered and purchased it.
He was leaving the shop, and drawing on his gloves, after paying for the little figure, when his attention was attracted, by a sharp cough proceeding from behind the counter, to a sickly-looking boy, who, propped up by cushions, was reading a book; though at the moment that Mr. Mathews noticed him, his large eyes were fixed attentively on the stranger.
Struck with the intelligent expression of his childish little face, the clergyman's voice insensibly took a gentler tone, which softened into real kindness, while, when asking him what book he was reading, Mr. Mathews' eyes fell on a small pair of crutches, which lay on a chair beside the invalid.
Colouring with pleasure, the boy answered eagerly, ' A Latin book, Sir; and I am trying to learn it.'
Aye, indeed!' said Mr. Mathews; but this is