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The Obedience of a Christian Man by William Tyndale

The Obedience of a Christian Man by William Tyndale

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Published by Abda Yasharahla

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Published by: Abda Yasharahla on Sep 30, 2012
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The Obedience of a Christen man, and how Christen rulers ought to govern, wherein also (if thou mark diligently) thou shalt find eyes to percieve the crafty convience of all iugglers.
Set forth by William Tyndall. 1528. Octob. 2.
the last paragraph of his Practice of Prelates, dated 1530, and publishedsome time before the end of that year, Tyndale says: ‘Let them remember,that I well toward three years agone sent forth the True Obedience of aChristian Man.
This gives probability to what Ames mentions in anirregular way, namely, that there is an edition of the Obedience of the dateof Dec. 11, 1527. It was about that time that Tyndale removed fromWorms to Marburg
in Hesse, a city on the Lahn, where the landgravePhilip, the bold and uncompromising friend of the Reformation, had justfounded an university, and Hans Luft had just established a printing press.On the 8th of May, 1528, this Hans Luft sent forth an edition of theObedience in 4to, of which Mr Offor has a copy; and on the 2nd of October in the same year, there came out another edition from his press insmall 12mo, of which the Parker Society possesses a copy, which theeditor has used for collation with the reprint in Day’s folio of 1573,prepared by Foxe the martyrologist.In the introductory notice to the treatise on the parable of the WickedMammon, the reader has had evidence that the Obedience shared in itscirculation and influence, and in the consequent hostility of the rulingchurch. There are, however, two instances of its separate distribution andinfluence, which should not pass unnoticed. One of the meekest and holiestof the martyrs of Henry VIII.’s reign was Thomas Bilney, a fellow of Trinity hall, Cambridge. In 1529, he had been terrified and tempted bybishop Tonstal into abjuring the faith he really held: but his friend, bishopLatimer, tells us that this brought him ‘into such anguish and agony, that
nothing did him good, not even the communication of God’s word,because he thought that all the whole scriptures sounded his condemnation,till God endued him with such strength,’ that he took leave of hisCambridge friends, and said that he would go to Jerusalem; and departinginto Norfolk, he there preached publicly the doctrine which he had abjured.Having done this, he entered Norwich, and ‘gave to an anchoress, whomhe had converted to Christ, a New Testament of Tyndale’s translation, andthe Obedience of a Christian Man; whereupon he was apprehended andcarried to prison, there to remain till the blind bishop Nix sent up for a writto burn him.’
It seems to have been about the time of Bilney’s abjuration, that AnneBoleyn had well nigh been brought into difficulty, by lending the Obedienceto one of her attendants. As Strype tells the story from a MS. left by Foxe,and now in the British Museum, she had ‘lent it for perusal to a fair younggentlewoman in her service, named Mrs Gainsford; from whose hands itwas playfully carried off by the young lady’s suitor, a Mr George Zouch.’Cardinal Wolsey had about the same time ‘given commandment to theprelates, and especially to Dr Sampson, dean of the king’s chapel, that theyshould have a vigilant eye over all people for such books; that so, as muchas might be, they might not come to the king’s reading.’ But Mr Zouchwas so delighted with what he read, that he could not refrain from readingit, not even in the king’s chapel. His close attention to his book caught DrSampson’s eye; and at length the dean called him up, took the book fromhim, and required to know what was his name, and ‘whose man he was.’The book was presently delivered over by the dean to the cardinal: but, inthe mean while, ‘the lady Anne asketh her woman for the book. She on herknees told all the circumstances. The lady Anne shewed herself not sorry,nor angry with either of the two: but, Well, said she, it shall be the dearestbook that ever the dean or cardinal took away. So she goes to the king,and upon her knees she desireth the king’s help for her book. Upon theking’s token, the book was restored. And now, bringing the book to him,she besought his grace, most tenderly, to read it. The king did so, anddelighted in the book: for, saith he, this book is for me, and all kings toread.’ Strype’s Eccles. Mem. ch. 15, Vol. 1, p. 173. Oxf. Ed. 1822.This story has received confirmation from Wyatt’s Memoir, printed from aMS. in Cavendish’s Life of Wolsey, by Singer, Vol. 2, pp. 202-5. Wyattindeed represents the cardinal as bringing the book to the king, to point outwhat he thought Henry would dislike, and to complain of those who
countenanced such books. But this is obviously not irreconcilable with theaccount given in Foxe’s MS. Nor is the king’s continued hostility toTyndale incompatible with his being pleased for a time with a powerfullywritten book, pressed upon his notice by the lady Anne; nor yet with hisclearly perceiving that the author had justly rebuked the inroads made uponthe authority of princes by an usurping priesthood.]

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