The Plough Boy
The Word of God is living and powerful. It is capable of distinguishing between the otherwise indivisible. It was not given through the particular efforts of men, but holy men of God wrote it under the complete influence of the Spirit of God. The Bible is the revelation of God to man that has been preserved from errors or inaccuracies by divine inspiration. How we thank God for the many human instruments He used in producing the Sacred Autographs!
We are also deeply grateful to the Lord for the scholarly men He employed to translate the Scripture for us. One of these men who laboured and sacrificed his all to produce the Holy Bible in English was William Tyndale.
Mr. Edward Armstrong, who possesses a number of valuable and exceptionally rare copies of very old Bibles, gives us the following account of his research into the life and service of William Tyndale, research which began in 1948 at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
William Tyndale was a graduate of Cambridge University, England. Without doubt while there he was influenced by the writings of the renowned Dutch scholar Erasmus who had at some time earlier taught at Cambridge. After graduating, young Tyndale became a monk. He entered the society of the Observant Friars of Greenwich, England. Unfortunately his great God-given abilities in languages were buried for several years in a cloister. At the close of these years, he was highly recommended to be in the Bishop’s Palace in London, but God ruled otherwise.
In making reference to the year he spent in London, Tyndale writes: “I understood at the last, not only that there was no room in my Lord of London’s Palace to translate the New Testament, but also there was no place to do it in England, as experience doth now openly declare.” Tyndale then went forth into exile, bidding a last farewell to his native land. He was content to surrender his English heritage in order to give his fellow-country men the Holy Scriptures. In the hands of God he was the instrument used to translate the New Testament and part of the Old Testament for the first time out of the original languages into English.
“We arrived at Brussels safely,” writes Mr. Armstrong, “and found it to be a very busy place; this is due in part to the many diversified activities of NATO and the Common Market, the European Community of Nations.
“On the Lord’s Day we went to the Assembly at Rue Van Dyke; this Assembly is quite large. The entire service was in French. We made out all right through the help of an English speaking brother who kindly interpreted for us. After the meeting we took the tram to Vilvoorde, 15 miles from Brussels. Our chief purpose there was to see the place where William Tyndale gave up his life for the Word of God on October 6, 1538.
“In Vilvoorde there is a monument erected to his memory by Christians in England. It is very well cared for by sympathetic friends in this Flemish town. We also visited the place where the castle stood in which William Tyndale was imprisoned for 18 months before being strangled. His body was burned. What indignities! To one degree or another all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. The servant is not greater than his Lord. “If the world hate you,” said the Lord Jesus, “ye know it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).
“While in Brussels we were told of a highly reputed Historian, Professor VerHeyden, Laurate of the Belgium Royal Academy, who could help us in our research. This Professor kindly granted us an interview. We were taken back again to Vilvoorde by the Director of the Belgium Gospel Mission who acted as our interpreter. The Professor’s studies were all in Dutch; they were related mostly to the Ana Baptists and the Dutch Protestant Reformation. We had a very pleasant evening with him. Before we left he gave us two interesting books of which he is the author. He also gave us the name of a German Professor who has done considerable research on William Tyndale. Some English friends are in touch with him now, and we hope to get more information through him.
“From Brussels we went to Antwerpt to visit the Plantin Musuem. Plantin was one of the greatest printers of his time; it is recorded that he had no less than 16 and possibly 22 presses. These of course would be nothing like our modern power presses.
“Plantin conceived the idea of a ‘scientific and reliable’ edition of the text of the Bible, and finally produced it. This colossal composition was the ‘Bible Regias,’ a polyglot in five languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Chaldaie. The printing began in 1568 and was completed in 1572. To the actual text were added certain detailed and precious appendices, such as: Hebrew, Chaldaie, Syrian, Greek grammars and vocabularies, as well as studies in weights, measures and customs. There was also considerable help given in connection with the habits of the ancient Hebrews.
“The entire work consisted of eight large folios. This was Plantin’s masterpiece, and is considered to be the world’s most important work by any one printer.
“It is known that some of Tyndale’s translations were printed on these old presses which are now preserved in Antwerp, the city where he spent so much of his time.
“From Antwerp we took a very modern train to Amsterdam for our flight by plane to Glasgow via Newcastle. It was a delight to hurry across country to Little Sodbury and there to meet with Christians for the Annual Memorial Service on the anniversary of William Tyndale’s martyrdom. There we visited once again the room in the Manor House where this courageous and noble Christian martyr said to the great Prelate of England in 1521, ‘If God spares my life, I will cause the boy who drives the plough to know more of the Word of God than you do.’ This was no vain dream; it was a sound prediction which has become literally true.”
The Lord Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).