This morning in my message, we looked at the example of William Tyndale.
William Tyndale believed the Bible should be read by all (not just by the “enlightened” clergy), and he undertook the process of translating the Hebrew and Greek into English. In the preface to the first five books of the Old Testament, he wrote, “I had perceived by experience, how that it was impossible to stablish the lay people in any truth, except the Scripture were plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.”
- The clergy tried to intimidate Tyndale into stopping his work, but he said, “I defy the Pope and all his laws. If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.”
- Eventually he was put on trial for heresy, where he was also accused of trying to profit from his work. He replied, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, 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 honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me.”
- Ultimately Tyndale was strangled to death, and then burned at the stake. But his dying words were, “Lord, open the eyes of the king.”
William Tyndale was notable in his struggle to break down the unbiblical clergy/laity (or sacred/secular) divide. Another great man who addressed this topic over 300 years after the death of Tyndale was Charles Spurgeon—
“To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to Him. He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament. He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence. …The Lord hath cleansed your houses, He has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables, your shops, He has made the bells upon your horses holiness to the Lord, He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar, if you know what you are and live according to your high calling. You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to live. The sacred has absorbed the secular.”