John Jewell (1522-1571)
“By the space of so many thousand years,
the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword,
and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letter…”
… the people of Israel were oppressed by tyrants, were spoiled and chased out of their country; first, by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon; after that, by Antiochus into Syria; and lastly, were as vagabonds driven from country to country.
Their city Jerusalem was sacked, their houses overthrown, their temple razed, and not a stone left upon a stone; their library destroyed, their books burnt, the tabernacle lost, the covenant broken. No vision, no revelation, no comfort for the people left; nor prophet, nor priest, nor any to speak in the name of the Lord.
In all those times of decays, of sackings, of darkness, and of misery, what was done with the word of God? It was wickedly burnt by Jehoiakim, king of Judah; and Antiochus burnt the books of the law, and cut them in pieces. No man durst be known to have them, and avouch the having; so thought they utterly to deface the glory of God, and abolish all remembrance of his laws.
Then came the Pharisees; they drowned the word of God with their traditions; they took away the key of knowledge, and entered not in themselves, but forbad them that came in. After them came heretics; they denied some one part, and some another part of Scripture. They razed, blotted, corrupted, and altered the word of God; of the word of God they made it their own word, or, which is worse, they made it the word of the devil.
By the space of so many thousand years, the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of Pharisees, of heretics, of fire, and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth until this day, without altering or changing one letter. This was a wonderful work of God, that having so many and so great enemies, and passing through so many and so great dangers, it yet continueth still, without adding or altering of any one sentence, or word, or letter. No creature was able to do this, it was God’s work.
He preserved it, that no tyrant should consume it; no tradition choke it; no heretic maliciously should corrupt it. For his name’s sake, and for the elect’s sake, he would not suffer it to perish; for in it God hash ordained a blessing for his people, and by it he maketh covenant with them for life everlasting. Tyrants, and Pharisees, and heretics, and the enemies of the cross of Christ, have an end, but the word of God hath no end.
No force shall be able to decay it. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Cities shall fall; kingdoms shall come to nothing; empires shall fade away as the smoke; but the truth of the Lord shall continue for ever. Burn it, it will rise again; kill it, it will live again; cut it down by the root, it will spring again. “There is no wisdom, neither understanding nor counsel against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)