Tuesday, September 29, 2020

More, William Tyndale and Baptism

I posted earlier this month about William Tyndale and baptism. Here is a little more.

The name of Tyndal having been mentioned it may not be improper to give a short account of his labours and sufferings in the cause of God. He went young to Oxford, and had part of his education there, and part at Cambridge. After leaving the university, he settled for a time in Gloucestershire; but was obliged to leave his native country on account of persecution; On the continent he translated the new testament into English and printed it in 1526; This edition was bought up by Sir Thomas More and bishop Tonstall; With the money procured from this source; it was republished in 1530: but as this also contained some reflections on the English bishops and clergy, they commanded that it should be purchased and burnt. In 1532 Tyndal and his associates translated and printed the whole bible; but while he was preparing a second edition he was apprehended and burnt for heresy in Flanders.

He was a great reformer. It is generally supposed he was born on the borders of Wales. Mr Thomas thinks this to be very probable, as “Mr Llewelyn Tyndal and his son Hezekiah were reputable members of the Baptist church at Llanwenarth near Abergavenny, about the year 1700, as appeared by the old church book and there were some of the same family in those parts still remaining.” It is probable, therefore, that Tyndal might derive his superior light from some of the Wickliffites about Hereford and the adjoining counties, where we have already proved that much scriptural truth was for ages deposited. To this great man we are under great obligations for our emancipation from the fetters of popery, as it is not likely these would ever have been broken eff but by the hammer of God’s word.

            The sentiments of this celebrated man on the subject of baptism may be collected from the following extract from his works. After reprobating severely the conduct of the Romish clergy for using a latin form of words, he says, “The wasshynge wythout the word helpeth not; but thorow the word it purifyeth and clēseth us, as thou readest Eph 5. How Christ clenseth the congregation in the founteine of water thorow the word: the word is the promise which God hath made. Now as a preacher, in preaching the word of God saveth the hearers that beleve so doeth the wasshinge in that it preacheth and representeth to us the promise that God hath made unto us in Christe, the wasshinge preacheth unto us that we ar clensed wyth Christe’s bloude shedynge was an offering and a satisfaction for the synne of al that repent and beleve consentynge and submyttyne themselves unto the wyl of God. The plungynge into the water sygnyfyeth that we die and are buried with Chryst as co̅serning ye old life of synne which is Adā. And the pulling out agayn sygnyfyeth that we ryse again with Christe in a new lyfe ful of the holye gooste which shal teach us and gyde us and work the wyll of God in us as thou seest Rom 6.*

Whether Tyndal baptized persons on a professsion of faith or not, it is certain that his sentiments would naturally lead him to the practice; as what is said of the subject of this ordinance in this quotation, can in no sense apply to infants, who cannot be said to “repent and believe, consenting and submitting themselves unto the will of God.” As it relates to the manner in which baptism was at that time administered, his statement is so plain that it requires no comment.

* The obedience of all degrees proved by Gods worde imprinted by Wyllyan Copeland at London 1561.

The excerpt above is from A History of the English Baptists, Volume 1 by Joseph Ivimey (London: 1811, pp. 92-93). Ivimey admitted he had no direct proof for what Tyndale practiced concerning baptism—but pointed out that if Tyndale practiced his sentiments, that was believer’s baptism.

Modernized spelling of Tyndale’s words to facilitate ease of understanding for current readers can be found HERE.

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