William Tyndale on National Repentance in Egypt, Babylon, Israel…And England

“And that Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of his fish: we cannot thereby prove unto the Jews and infidels or unto any man, that Christ must therefore die and be buried and rise again. But we use the example and likeness to strength the faith of the weak. For he that believeth the one cannot doubt in the other: inasmuch as the hand of God was no less mighty in preserving Jonas alive against all natural possibility and in delivering him safe out of his fish, than in raising up Christ again out of his sepulchre. And we may describe the power and virtue of the resurrection thereby, as Christ himself borroweth the similitude thereto Matt. xii. saying unto the Jews that came about him and desired a sign or a wonder from heaven to certify them that he was Christ: this evil and wedlock breaking nation (which break the wedlock of faith wherewith they be married unto God, and believe in their false works) seek a sign, but there shall no sign be given them save the sign of the prophet Jonas. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, even so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Which was a watch word as we say, and a sharp threatening unto the Jews and as much to say as thus, ye hard hearted Jews seek a sign: lo, this shall be your sign, as Jonas was raised out of the sepulchre of his fish, and then sent unto the Ninevites to preach that they should perish, even so shall I rise again out of my sepulchre, and come and preach repentance unto you. See therefore when ye see the sign, that ye repent or else ye shall surely perish and not escape. For though the infirmities which ye now see in my flesh be a let unto your faiths, ye shall then be without excuse when ye see so great a miracle and so great power of God shed out upon you. And so Christ came again after the resurrection, in his spirit, and preached repentance unto them, by the mouth of his apostles and disciples, and with miracles of the holy ghost. And all that repented not perished shortly after and were for the most part slain with sword and the rest carried away captive into all quarters of the world for an example, as ye see unto this day.

“And in like manner since the world began, wheresoever repentance was offered and not received, there God took cruel vengeance immediately: as ye see in the flood of Noe, in the overthrowing of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the country about: and as ye see of Egypt, of the Amorites, Cananites and afterward of the very Israelites, and then at the last of the Jews too, and of the Assyrians and Babilonians and so thorowout all the empires of the world.

“Gildas preached repentance unto the old Britains that inhabited England: they repented not, and therefore God sent in their enemies upon them on every side and destroyed them up and gave the land unto other nations. And great vengeance hath been taken in that land for sin since that time.

“Wicliffe preached repentance unto our fathers not long since: they repented not for their hearts were indurate and their eyes blinded with their own pope holy righteousness wherewith they had made their souls gay against the receiving again of the wicked spirit that bringeth seven worse than himself with him, and maketh the latter end worse than the beginning: for in open sins there is hope of repentance, but in holy hypocrisy none at all.

“But what followed? They slew their true and right king, and set up three wrong kings a row, under which all the noble blood was slain up and half the commons thereto, what in France and what with their own sword, in fighting among themselves for the crown and the cities and towns decayed and the land brought half into a wilderness, in respect of that it was before.

“And now Christ to preach repentance, is risen yet once again out of his sepulchre in which the pope had buried him and kept him down with his pillars and poleaxes and all disguisings of hypocrisy, with guile, wiles and falsehood, and with the sword of all princes which he had blinded with his false merchandise. And as I doubt not of the examples that are past, so am I sure that great wrath will follow, except repentance turn it back again, and cease it.”

From The Prologue to the Prophet Jonas



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