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The Ploughboy (6)

A very discouraged William Tyndale entered Hamburg in 1529. His manuscripts were lost in shipwreck. Months of hard work were gone. But a very helpful friend from Cambridge, Miles Coverdale, was there as well. He, too, would have a place in the history of the English Bible, but for now his place was to encourage the principal translator—Tyndale.

Within ten months the first five books of the Bible were ready, once again, for publication. As with the English New Testament, the Pentateuch was eagerly welcomed in England’s towns and moors. This task done, Tyndale made his final move, this time to Antwerp.

Antwerp was not a safe haven for reformers. The agents of the king frequently traveled through its ports. And they were usually looking for one man in particular—Tyndale. Why did he go to Antwerp? It was as close to England as he could get, and—God had work for him to do there. As long as God willed, Tyndale would be safe. The agents could not find him. Meanwhile, the persecutions and burnings in England increased.

As Tyndale himself had to hide across the sea in Antwerp, his heart was with the suffering people of his homeland. Many of his own friends had been imprisoned or killed. Many were condemned to death for having read the Scriptures he had translated—even poor ploughboys. He wrote to encourage his countrymen, especially those who had recanted. Many, like Peter, denied their Lord when first tried. But many received strength to stand firm when confronted again. These were always burnt at the stake.

And if Tyndale himself could not be burnt, they could at least burn his books. And if they could not burn all his books, they could at least refute them. A sincere, educated, and powerful Roman Catholic, Sir Thomas More, took up the task. He attacked the authority of Scripture and upheld the word of the pope above the Word of God. This Catholic “saint” even wished for a great many more Bible-reading brethren to be burned!

From somewhere in Antwerp, William Tyndale answered him with the truth of Scripture. But the hunt for Tyndale only became more heated. Special agents were dispatched to locate and arrest him. They searched; they bribed; they eaves-dropped—all to no avail. Tyndale continued his work. It was now 1534 and both Rome and the king were utterly desperate to find him…

Where are wondrous things beheld, who and where is a stranger, and who was spoken against by princes and what was done about it? Read Psalm 119:17-24 to find all this out!