The Supper of the Lord - William Tyndale - ebook
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When Christ saw those gluttons, seeking their bellies, flocking so fast unto him, after his wonted manner (the occasion taken, to teach and preach unto them, of the things now moved) he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye have seen my miracles, but because ye have eaten of the loaves and were well filled.” ‘But as for me, I am not come into this world only to fill men’s bellies, but to feed and satisfy their souls. Ye take great pains to follow me for the meat of your bellies; but, O sluggards, work, take pains, and labour rather to get that meat that shall never perish. For this meat that ye have sought of me hitherto, perisheth with your bellies; but the meat that I shall give you, is spiritual, and may not perish, but abideth for ever, giving life everlasting. For my Father hath consigned and confirmed me, with his assured testimony, to be that assured saving health and earnest-penny of everlasting life.’ When the Jews understood not what Christ meant, bidding them to “work and labour for that meat that should never perish,” they asked him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”—supposing that he had spoken of some outward work required of them. Wherefore Jesus answered, saying, “Even this is the work of God, to believe and trust in him whom the Father hath sent.” Lo, here may ye see that work of God which he requireth of us, even to believe in Christ. Also consider again what this meat is, which he bade them here prepare and seek for, saying, ‘Work, take pains, and seek for that meat, &c.’ and thou shalt see it none other meat than the belief in Christ: wherefore he concludeth, that this meat so often mentioned, is faith; of the which meat (saith the prophet) the just liveth. Faith in him is therefore the meat which Christ prepareth and dresseth so purely; pouldering and spicing it with spiritual allegories in all this chapter following, to give us everlasting life through it.

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the

SUPPER OF THE LORD

by

WILLIAM TYNDALE

EDITED FOR

The Parker Society

BY THE

REV. HENRY WALTER, B.D. F.R.S

Rector of Halisbury Bryan, Dorset;

Formerly fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Professor of Natural Philosophy in the East India Company's College at Haileybury

CAMBRIDGE:

PRINTED AT

THE UNIVERSITY PRESS

M.DCCC.L

[Title of Original Edition.]

The Souper of the Lorde

When unto, that thou mayst be the better prepared and berlyer instructed: habe here firste the declaration of the later parte of the 6 ca. of S. Johā, beginninge at the letter C the fowerth line before the crosse, at these wordis: Herely, bere. &c. wheryn incidently M. More’s letter agenst Johan fry the is confuted.

[Title of edition in the Archbishop’s Library, Lambeth.]

The Supper of The Lorde

After the true meaning of the sixte of John, and the 11 of the first epistle to the Corinthians; whereunto is added an Epistle to the reader. And incidently in the exposition of the supper is confuted the letter of Master More against John frith.

1 Corhinth. 11.

Whosoever shall eat of this bread and drinke of this cuppe of the Lord unworthely, shall be gyltye of the body and bloud of the Lorde.

Anno MCCCCC XXX III.

V day of Apryll.

Hope. Inspiration. Trust.

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CONTENTS

Introductory Notice

The Supper of the Lord

About CrossReach Publications

Bestselling Titles from CrossReach

THE SUPPER OF THE LORD

[Introductory Notice

The first edition of the following treatise affords no intimation of its author’s name; but its final colophon states that it was “Imprinted at Nornburg, by Niclas Twonson, 5 April. An. 1533.” Only a few months after this date Sir Thomas More had penned what he styles an “Answer to the first part of a poisoned book which a nameless heretic hath named ‘The Supper of the Lord.’ ” At his first onset More writes as follows: “There is come over another book against the blessed sacrament, a book of that sort that Fryth’s book the brethren may now forbear. For more blasphemous and more bedlamripe than this book is were that book hard to be, which is yet mad enough, as men say that have seen it.—The man hath not set his name unto his book; nor whose it is I cannot surely say. But some reckon it to be made of William Tyndale, for that in a pystle of his unto Fryth he writeth, that in any thing he can do, he would not fail to help him forth. Howbeit some of the brethren report that the work was made by George Jay; and of truth Tyndale wrote unto Fryth, that George Jay had made a book against the sacrament, which was as yet, partly by his means, partly for lack of money, retained and kept from the print.—The maker of the book in the end of his book, for one cause why he putteth not his name thereto, writeth in this wise: Master Mocke, whom the verity most offendeth, and doth but mocke it out, when he cannot soil it, he knoweth me well enough. This sad and sage earnest man that, mocking at my name, calleth me Master Mocke, doth in these wise words but mocke the readers of his book. What if I wist never so well who he were that wrote it, what were this to the brethren that read it? Now for myself also, though I know Tyndale by name, and George Jay or Joy by name also, and twenty such other fond fellows of the same sect more; yet if ten of those would make ten such foolish treatises, and set their names to none, could I know thereby which of those mad fools made which foolish book?”

Notwithstanding this language, More takes for granted throughout all the rest of his answer, that the writer to whom he is replying is none other than Tyndale. And yet Foxe, when editing Tyndale’s Works for Day, forty years later, at the close of his 456th page, which immediately precedes the introduction of this treatise, has inserted this colophon: ‘The end of all M. William Tyndale’s Works, newly imprinted, according to his first copies, which he himself set forth.’ But he then adds, ‘Here followeth a short and pithy treatise touching the Lord’s Supper, compiled, as some do gather, by M. W. Tyndale, because the method and phrase agree with his, and the time of writing are concurrent; which for thy further instruction and learning, gentle reader, I have annexed to his works, lest the church of God should want any of the painful travails of godly men, whose only care and endeavour was to advance the glory of God, and to further the salvation of Christ’s flock committed to their charge.’ When Foxe penned this last sentence, he had before him that same letter from Tyndale to Frith, of which, notwithstanding Tyndale’s caution, Sir Thomas More must soon have obtained a copy, if the oppressed prisoner had not been obliged to surrender the original to his enemies. And the martyrologist might reasonably doubt whether Tyndale would have composed and published such a treatise as the following within a few weeks after his advising Frith to meddle as little as possible with the question of the presence of Christ’s body in the sacrament, and saying to him, ‘I would have the right use preached, and the presence to be an indifferent thing, till the matter might be reasoned in peace at leisure of both parties.’

But Frith has told us, that after his arrival in England he had so far yielded to the request of a christian brother, ‘who might better be a bishop than many that wear mitres,’ as ‘to touch this terrible tragedy,’ and write a treatise, in which, says he, ‘I declared that Christ had a natural body, and that it could no more be in two places at once than mine can. I wrote it not to the intent that it should have been published; but now it is comen abroad.’ He adds that Sir Thomas More had ‘sore laboured to confute it,’ but had scarcely printed his letter intended to do this, before he so changed his mind as to endeavour to suppress his reply, of which Frith could in consequence only obtain a written copy; though he had seen it in print in bishop Gardiner’s house, when he was brought before that prelate on the 26th of Dec., 1532. We have seen Sir Thomas More insinuating, though he does not affirm, that all he knew of Frith’s work on the sacrament was from what others said of it; but when he had proceeded farther in his lengthy answer to the ‘nameless heretic,’ he seems to have forgotten this, and fully confirms Frith’s statement. He there says, ‘Whereas I, a year now past and more, wrote and put in print a letter against the pestilent treatise of John Fryth, which he then had made and secretly sent abroad among the brethren, against the blessed sacrament of the altar; which letter of mine, as I have declared in mine apology, and natheless caused to be kept still, and would not suffer it to be put abroad into every man’s hands, because Fryth’s treatise was not yet at that time in print; yet now, sith I see they are come over in print, not only Fryth’s book, but over that this masker’s also, and that either of their both books maketh mention, &c.’

The dates and circumstances, thus incidentally given, are sufficient to shew that Frith had unintentionally committed himself on this perilous subject, before he could have received Tyndale’s warning; whilst Tyndale was not likely to be much behind More in learning what his friend had written, nor much behind the poor prisoner in learning what More had committed to the press. Indeed, in telling us that after Frith’s treatise had got into some circulation through manuscript copies, it had been sent to the continent to be printed, and speaking of the arrival of printed copies in England in a way which seems to imply that their arrival and that of copies of the following treatise were contemporary, More has made it not improbable that Tyndale may have been carrying Frith’s work through the press, at the same time that he was composing its author’s defence. At any rate Tyndale would know, soon enough for his writing this treatise, that Frith’s hostility to the doctrine from which the dominant church mainly drew its wealth, had come to the knowledge of those who would therefore seek his life; and that now was the time for keeping his own promise, of doing his best to aid his beloved friend, by proving that what Frith was called a heretic for teaching was in strict accordance with the language of the scriptures; whilst by writing anonymously he might intend to avoid giving Frith’s judges any legal ground for convicting him of being engaged in the same conspiracy against their church with one whose works had been authoritatively proscribed as heretical.

On the other hand, however, the assertion of Foxe, ‘that the method and phrase’ of the following treatise ‘agree with Tyndale’s,’ cannot be admitted without a remarkable exception; inasmuch as it does not contain a single specimen of those references to the original languages of the inspired volume which Tyndale well knew how to employ, and which his acquaintance with Hebrew led him to employ largely and with considerable effect in his later avowed treatise on the sacraments. Was it to fill up that deficiency, as he might esteem it to be, in this first simple exposition of the Lord’s supper, that he composed a second, when the close of his labours was obviously at hand? If such was not his motive, the fact of his employing himself at that time in writing the treatise on baptism and the Lord’s supper, contained in our first volume, must be confessed to weigh heavily against the presumptive evidence on which the authorship of this earlier written treatise has been assigned to him. And this difficulty will be somewhat increased by the circumstance, that Robert Crowley, in his preface to the edition of 1551, while he speaks of “the author of this little book” as one wrongfully “detested and abhorred as an heretic,” makes no mention of his having suffered death under that charge.

The present editor has collated Day’s folio reprint of 1573 with the Lambeth copy of Crowley’s edition for the text of the treatise; whilst he has to thank the Rev. Alfred Hackman for supplying him with the result of a careful collation of the original Nornburg edition.

The Supper of the Lord

When Christ saw those gluttons, seeking their bellies, flocking so fast unto him, after his wonted manner (the occasion taken, to teach and preach unto them, of the things now moved) he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye have seen my miracles, but because ye have eaten of the loaves and were well filled.” ‘But as for me, I am not come into this world only to fill men’s bellies, but to feed and satisfy their souls. Ye take great pains to follow me for the meat of your bellies; but, O sluggards, work, take pains, and labour rather to get that meat that shall never perish. For this meat that ye have sought of me hitherto, perisheth with your bellies; but the meat that I shall give you, is spiritual, and may not perish, but abideth for ever, giving life everlasting. For my Father hath consigned and confirmed me, with his assured testimony, to be that assured saving health and earnest-penny of everlasting life.’ When the Jews understood not what Christ meant, bidding them to “work and labour for that meat that should never perish,” they asked him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”—supposing that he had spoken of some outward work required of them. Wherefore Jesus answered, saying, “Even this is the work of God, to believe and trust in him whom the Father hath sent.” Lo, here may ye see that work of God which he requireth of us, even to believe in Christ. Also consider again what this meat is, which he bade them here prepare and seek for, saying, ‘Work, take pains, and seek for that meat, &c.’ and thou shalt see it none other meat than the belief in Christ: wherefore he concludeth, that this meat so often mentioned, is faith; of the which meat (saith the prophet) the just liveth. Faith in him is therefore the meat which Christ prepareth and dresseth so purely; pouldering and spicing it with spiritual allegories in all this chapter following, to give us everlasting life through it.