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BY JOHN BRADFORD. [The ten following ‘Declarations and Addresses’ were written during the imprisonment of Bradford, which commenced on August 16, 1553, and ended with his martyrdom on July 1, 1555.
The ‘Exhortation to patience,’ and ‘Letter to men who relieved the prisoners,’ p. 375 — 84, that on ‘the mass, to Hopkins and others at Coventry,’ p. 389 — 99, the ‘Letter to the queen and parliament,’ p. 401 — 3, and the ‘Admonition to lovers of the Gospel,’ p. 407 — 11, are reprinted from the ‘Letters of the martyrs’ edited by Bishop Coverdale 1564, where they were first published.
The ‘Declaration on the Reformation,’ p. 399 — 401, and the ‘Remarks on a memorable trial,’ (probably of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, see p. 405, note 2,) follow the text of MSS. in Emmanuel College, Cambridge; the ‘Remarks’ being now printed for the first time.
Three of the above-mentioned documents, which are of considerable importance and interest, are placed among the Writings of Bradford on the following grounds:
The ‘Declaration concerning Religion’ is printed in this volume, p. 367 — 74, because of the title given to it by Foxe; and because it certainly expresses the opinions of Bradford, having received his signature.
The ‘Declaration on the Reformation’ is given in this collection, because of the conjecture of Strype, quoted, p. 399, note 2.
The ‘Supplication to the king, queen, and parliament,’ is printed in this volume, p. 403-5, because it represents the sentiments of Bradford, from whom among others it proceeded. It has also been supposed, with much probability, to be the document mentioned in the title of the ‘Letter to the queen and parliament,’ p. 401, to accompany which that ‘Letter’ was written: and it appears in no wise unlikely to have been penned by Bradford.] A COPY FB145 OF A CERTAIN DECLARATION, DRAWN AND SENT OUT OF PRISON BY MASTER BRADFORD, MASTER SAUNDERS, AND DIVERS OTHER GODLY PREACHERS, CONCERNING THEIR DISPUTATION AND DOCTRINE OF THEIR RELIGION, AS FOLLOWETH. FB146 [May 8, 1554.]\parBECAUSE we hear that it is determined of the magistrates, and such as be in authority, especially of the clergy, to send us speedily out of the prisons of the King’s Bench, the Fleet, the Marshalsea, and Newgate, (where presently we are, and of long time some of us hath been; not as rebels, traitors, seditious persons, thieves, or transgressors of any laws of this realm, inhibitions, proclamations, or commandments of the queen’s highness, or of any of the council’s, God’s name be praised therefor; but alonely for the conscience we have to God and his most holy word and truth, upon most certain knowledge;) because, we say, we hear that it is determined we shall be sent to one of the universities of Cambridge or Oxford, there to dispute with such as are appointed in that behalf; in that we purpose not to dispute otherwise than by writing, except it may be before the queen’s highness and her council, or before the parliament houses; and therefore perchance it will be bruited abroad that we are not able to maintain by the truth of God’s word, and the consent of the true and catholic church of Christ, the doctrine we have generally and severally taught, and some of us hath written and set forth; (wherethrough the godly and simple may be offended, and sometime weakened;) we have thought it our bounden duty now, whilst we may, by writing to publish and notify the causes why we will not dispute otherwise than is above said, to prevent the offenses which might come thereby.
First, because it is evidently known unto the whole world, that the determinations of both the universities in matters of religion, especially wherein we should dispute, are directly against God’s word, yea, against their own determinations in the time of our late sovereign lord and most godly prince, king Edward: and further it is known they be our open enemies, and have already condemned our causes, before any disputation had of the same.
Secondly, because the prelates, and clergy do not seek either us or the verity, but our destruction and their glory. For if they had sought us as charity requireth, then would they have called us forth hereabouts tofore their laws were so made, that frankly and without peril we might have spoken our consciences. Again, if they had sought for the verity, they would not have concluded of controversies tofore they had been disputed: so that it easily appeareth that they seek their own glory and our destruction, and not us and the verity: and therefore we have good cause to refuse disputation, as a thing which shall not further prevail than to the setting forth of their glory, and the suppression of the verity.
Thirdly, because the censors and judges, as we hear who they be, are manifest enemies to the truth, and, that which worse is, obstinate enemies, “before whom pearls are not to be cast,” by the commandment of our Savior Jesus Christ, and by his own example. That they be such, their doings of late at Oxford, and in the Convocation-house in October last past, do most evidently declare.
Fourthly, because some of us have been in prison these eight or nine months, where we have had no books, no paper, no pen, no ink, or convenient place for study, we think we should do evil thus suddenly to descend into disputation with them, which may allege, as they list, the fathers and their testimonies; because our memories have not that which we have read, so readily as to reprove when they shall report and wrest the authors to their purpose, or to bring forth that we may have there for our advantage.
Fifthly, because in disputation we shall not be permitted to prosecute our arguments, but be stopped when we would speak; one saying thus, another that, the third his mind, etc.: as was done to the godly-learned fathers, especially Doctor Ridley at Oxford, who could not be permitted to declare his mind and meaning of the propositions, and had oftentimes half a dozen at once speaking against him, always letting him to prosecute his argument, and to answer accordingly: we will not speak of the hissing, scoffing, and taunting which wonderfully then was used. If on this sort and much worse they handled these fathers thus, much more will they be shameless bold with us, if we should enter into disputation with them.
Sixthly, because the notaries that shall receive and write the disputations shall be of their appointment, and such as either do not or dare not favor the truth; and therefore must write either to please them, or else they themselves (the censors and judges we mean) at their pleasure will put to and take from that which is written by the notaries, who cannot nor must not have in their custody that which they write, longer than the disputation endureth, as their doings at Oxford declareth. No copy or scroll could any man have by their good will; for the censors and judges will have all delivered into their hands: yea, if any man was seen there to write, (as the report is,) the same man was sent for and his writings taken from him. So must the disputation serve only for the glory, not of God, but of the enemies of his truth.
For these causes, we all think it so necessary not to dispute with them, as, if we did dispute, we should do that which they desire and purposely purpose, to promote the kingdom of antichrist, and to suppress, as much as may be, the truth. We will not speak of the offense that might come to the godly, when they should hear, by the report of our enemies, our answers and arguments (you may be sure) framed for their fantasies, to the slandering of the verity.
Therefore we publish, and by this writing notify unto the whole congregation and church of England, that for these aforesaid causes we will not dispute with them otherwise than with the pen; unless it be before the queen’s highness and her council, or before the houses of the parliament, as is above said.
If they will write, we will answer, and by writing confirm and prove out of the infallible verity, even the very word of God, and by the testimony of the good and most ancient fathers in Christ his church, this our faith and every piece thereof; which hereafter we in a sum do write and send abroad, purposely that our good brethren and sistern in the Lord may know it: and, to seal up the same, we are ready, through God’s help and grace, to give our lives to the halter or stake, or otherwise as God shall appoint; humbly requiring, and in the bowels of our Savior Jesus Christ beseeching, all that fear God to behave themselves as obedient subjects to the queen’s highness and “the superior powers which are ordained of God” under her; rather after our example to give their heads to the block, than in any point to rebel, or once to mutter against “the Lord’s anointed;” we mean our sovereign lady queen Mary: into whose heart we beseech the Lord of mercy plentifully to pour the wisdom and grace of his holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
First, we confess and believe all the canonical books of the old Testament, and all the books of the new Testament, to be the very true “word of God,” and to be written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; and therefore to be heard accordingly, as the judge in all controversies and matters of religion.
Secondly, we confess and believe the catholic church, which is the spouse of Christ, as a most obedient and loving wife to embrace and follow the doctrine of these books in all matters of religion; and therefore is she to be heard accordingly: so that those which will not hear this church, thus following and obeying the word of her “Husband,” we account as heretics and schismatics, according to this saying, “If he will not hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen.”
Thirdly, we believe and confess all the articles of faith and doctrine set forth in the symbol of the apostles, which we commonly call the Creed, and in the symbols of the councils of Nice, kept in A.D. 324; of Constantinople kept in A.D. 384; of Ephesus kept in A.D. 432; of Chalcedony kept in A.D. 454; of Toletum the first and the fourth; also the symbols of Athanasius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and of Damasus, which was about the year of our Lord 376. We confess and believe, we say, the doctrine of these symbols generally and particularly; so that, whosoever doth otherwise, we hold the same to err from the truth.
Fourthly, we believe and confess concerning justification, that, as it cometh only from God’s mercy through Christ, so it is perceived and had of none which be of years of discretion otherwise than by faith only. Which faith is not an opinion, but a certain persuasion wrought by the Holy Ghost in the mind and heart of man; wherethrough, as the mind is illumined, so the heart is suppled to submit itself to the will of God unfeignedly, and so showeth forth an inherent righteousness; which is to be discerned in the article of justification from the righteousness which God endueth us withal in justifying us, although inseparably they go together. And this we do, not for curiosity or contention sake, but for conscience sake, that it might be quiet; which it can never be, if we confound without distinction forgiveness of sins and Christ’s justice imputed to us with regeneration and inherent righteousness.
Fifthly, we confess and believe, concerning the exterior service of God, that it ought to be according to the word of God: and therefore in the congregation all things public ought to be done in such a tongue as may be most to edify, and not in Latin, where the people understand not the same.
Seventhly, we confess and believe that, as a man departeth this life, so shall he be judged in the last day generally, and in the mean season is entered either into the state of the blessed forever, or damned forever; and therefore is either past all help, or else needeth no help of any in this life.
Eighthly, we confess and believe the sacraments of Christ, which be baptism and the Lord’s supper, that they ought to be ministered according to the institution of Christ, concerning the substantial parts of them; and that they be no longer sacraments than they be had in use, and used to the end for the which they were instituted.
And here we plainly confess that the mutilation of the Lord’s supper, and the subtraction of one kind from the lay people, is antichristian. And so is the doctrine of transubstantiation of the sacramental bread and wine, after the words of consecration as they be called; item, the adoration of the sacrament with honor due unto God, the reservation and carrying about of the same; item, the mass to be a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and dead, or a work that pleaseth God. All these we confess and believe to be antichrist’s doctrine: as is the inhibition of marriage as unlawful to any state.
And we doubt not by God’s grace, but we shall be able to prove all our confessions here to be most true by the verity of God’s word, and consent of the catholic church, which followeth and hath followed the governance of God’s Spirit and the judgment of his word. And this through the Lord’s help we will do, either in disputation by word before the queen’s highness and her council, either before the parliament houses, (of whom we doubt not but to be indifferently heard,) either with our pens, whensoever we shall be thereto by them that have authority required and commanded.
In the mean season, as obedient subjects we shall behave ourselves towards all that be in authority; and not cease to pray to God for them that he would govern them all, generally and particularly, with “the Spirit of wisdom” and grace. And so we heartily desire, and humbly pray all men to do, in no point consenting to any kind of rebellion or sedition against our sovereign lady the queen’s highness; but, where they cannot obey but they must disobey God, there to submit themselves, with all patience and humility, to suffer as the will and pleasure of the higher powers shall adjudge: as we are ready, through the goodness of the Lord, to suffer whatsoever they shall adjudge us unto, rather than we will consent to any contrary doctrine than this we here confess, unless we shall be justly convinced thereof, either by writing or by word, before such judges as the queen’s highness and her council, or the parliament houses. For the universities and clergy have condemned our causes already by the bigger and not by the better part, without all disputation of the same: and therefore most justly we may and do appeal from them to be our judges in this behalf, except it may be in writing, that to all men the matter may appear.
The Lord of mercy endue us all with the Spirit of his truth and grace of perseverance therein unto the end. Amen. The 8th of May, A.D. 1554. ROBERT MENEVEN.ALIAS ROBERT FERRAR. ROWLAND TAYLOR. JOHN PHILPOT. JOHN BRADFORD. JOANNES WIGORN.ET GLOUC.EPISCOPUS,ALIAS JOANNES HOPER. EDWARD CROME. FB165 JOHN ROGERS. LAURENTIUS SAUNDERS. EDMUND LAWRENCE.
TO CERTAIN GODLY MEN, WHOM HE EXHORTETH TO BE PATIENT UNDER THE CROSS AND CONSTANT IN THE TRUE DOCTRINE WHICH THEY HAD PROFESSED.
My dearly beloved in the Lord, as in him I wish you well to fare, so I pray God I and you may continue in his true service, that perpetually we may enjoy the same welfare, as here in hope, so in heaven indeed and eternally.
You know this world is not your home, but a pilgrimage and place wherein God trieth his children: and therefore, as it knoweth you not, nor can know you, so I trust you know not it; that is, you allow it not, nor in any point will seem so to do, although by many you be occasioned thereto. For this hot sun, which now shineth, burneth so sore that the corn which is sown upon sand and “stony ground” beginneth to wither: that is, many which before times we took for hearty gospellers begin now, for the fear of afflictions, to relent, yea, to “turn to their vomit again;” thereby declaring, that though “they go from amongst us, yet were they never of us; for else they would have still tarried with us,” and neither for gain nor loss have left us either in word or deed.
As for their heart (which undoubtedly is double, and therefore in danger to God’s curse,) we have as much with us as the papists have with them, and more too by their own judgment; for they, playing wily-beguile themselves, think it enough inwardly to favor the truth, though outwardly they curry favor. ‘What though with my body,’ say they, ‘I do this or that?
God knoweth my heart is whole with him.’ Ah brother! if thy ‘heart be whole with God,’ why dost not thou confess and declare thyself accordingly, by word and fact? Either that which thou sayest thou believest in thy ‘heart’ is good, or no. If it be good, why art thou ashamed of it? If it be evil, why dost thou keep it in thy ‘heart?’ Is not God able to defend thee, adventuring thyself for his cause? Or will not he defend his worshippers? Doth not the scripture say that “the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him, and trust in his mercy?” And whereto? Forsooth, “to deliver their souls from death, and to feed them in the time of hunger.”
Why are we afraid of the loss of our goods, as though God would leave them that fear him destitute of all good things, and so do against his most ample promises? Ah, faith, faith, how few feel thee now-a-days! Full truly said Christ, that he should scarcely “find faith when he came on earth:” for if men believed these promises, they would never do anything outwardly which inwardly they disallow. No example of men, how many soever they be, or how learned soever they be, can prevail in this behalf; for the pattern which we must follow is Christ himself, and not the more company, or custom. His “word is the lantern to lighten our steps,” and not learned men. Company and custom are to be considered according to the thing they allow. Learned men are to be listened to and followed according to God’s lore and law; for else the more part goeth to the devil. As custom causeth error and blindness, so learning, if it be not according to the light of God’s word, is poison, and learned men most pernicious. The devil is called ‘demon’ for his cunning; and “the children of this world are much wiser than the children of light in their generation:” and I know the devil and his dearlings have always, for the most part, more helps in this life than Christ’s church and her children.
They (the devil and his synagogue I mean) have custom, multitude, unity, antiquity, learning, power, riches, honor, dignity, and promotions plenty; as always they have had, and shall have commonly and for the most part until Christ’s coming, much more than the true church have presently, heretofore have had, or hereafter shall have: for her glory, riches, and honor is not here; her trial, cross, and warfare is here.
Consider where you be, not at home, but in a strange country. Consider among whom you are conversant, even in the midst of your enemies and of a wicked generation: and then, I trust, you will not much muse at affliction, which you cannot be without, being as you be God’s children, in a strange country, and in the midst of your enemies; except you would leave your Captain Christ, and follow Satan, for the muck of this mould, rest, and quietness, which he may promise you; and you indeed think you shall receive it, by doing as he would have you to do: but, my sweet hearts, he is not able to pay that he promiseth.
Peace and war come from God, riches and poverty, wealth and woe. The devil hath no power but by God’s permission. If then God permit him a little on your goods, body, or life, I pray you tell me, “what can much hurt you,” as Peter saith, “you being followers of godliness?” Think you that God will not remember you in his time, as most shall be to your comfort? “Can a woman forget the child of her womb? And if she should, yet will not I forget thee,” saith the Lord. Look upon Abraham in his exile and misery; look upon Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, the prophets, apostles, and all the godly from the beginning: and, my good brethren, is not God the same God? is he a changeling? “You have heard of the patience of Job,” saith St. James, “and you have seen the end, how that God is merciful, patient, and long-suffering:” even so say I unto you that you shall find accordingly, if so be you be patient, that is, if so be you fear him, set his word before you, serve him thereafter; and, if he lay his cross on you, you bear it with patience: the which you shall do, when you consider it not according to the present sense, but according to the end.
Therefore I heartily beseech you, and out of my bonds which I suffer for your sake pray you, mine own sweet hearts in the Lord, that you would cleave in heart and humble obedience to the doctrine taught you by me and many other my brethren. For we have taught you no fables, nor tales of men, or our own fantasies, but the very word of God, which we are ready with our lives, God so enabling us, as we trust he will, to confirm; and by the shedding of our bloods, in all patience and humble obedience to the superior powers, to testify and seal up; as well that you might be more certain of the doctrine, as that you might be ready to confess the same before this wicked world; knowing that, “if we confess Christ” and his truth “before men, he will confess us before his Father in heaven.” “If so be we be ashamed hereof” for loss of life, friends, or goods, “he will be ashamed of us before his Father and his holy angels in heaven.”
Therefore take heed for the Lord’s sake, take heed, take heed, and defile not your bodies or souls with this Romish and antichristian religion, set up amongst us again; but “come away,” “come away,” as the angel crieth, “from amongst them,” in their idolatrous service, “lest you be partakers of their iniquity.”
Hearken to your preachers, as the Thessalonians did to Paul: that is, confer their sayings with the scriptures; and, if they sound not thereafter, “the morning light shall not shine upon them.” Use much and hearty prayer for “the Spirit of wisdom,” knowledge, humbleness, meekness, sobriety, and repentance; which we have great need of, because our sins have thus “provoked the Lord’s anger” against us. But let us “bear his anger,” and acknowledge our faults with bitter tears and sorrowful sighs: and doubtless he will be merciful to us after his wonted mercy.
The which thing he vouchsafe to do, for his holy name’s sake, in Christ Jesu our Lord: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honor, glory, praise, and everlasting thanks, from this time forth, forevermore.