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WHEREIN IS DISCOURSED THE BLOODY MURDERING OF GOD’S SAINTS With The Particular Processes And Names Of Such Good Martyrs, Both Men And Women, As, In This Time Of Queen Mary, Were Put To Death. THE STORY, LIFE, AND MARTYRDOM OF MASTER ROGERS.
PICTURE: The Burning of Master John Rogers THE 4th of February suffered the constant martyr of God, master John Rogers, concerning whose life, examinations, and suffering, here followeth in order set forth. And first touching his life and bringing up.
John Rogers, brought up in the university of Cambridge, where he profitably travailed in good learning, at length was chosen and called by the merchant adventurers to be their chaplain at Antwerp in Brabant, whom he served to their good contentation many years. It chanced him there to fall in company with that worthy servant and martyr of God William Tyndale, and with Miles Coverdale, who both, for the hatred they bare to popish superstition and idolatry, and love to true religion, had forsaken their native country. In conferring with them the Scriptures, he came to great knowledge in the gospel of God, insomuch that he cast off the heavy yoke of popery, perceiving it to be impure and filthy idolatry, and joined himself with them two in that painful and most profitable labor of translating the Bible into the English tongue, which is entitled, “The Translation of Thomas Matthewe.” 2 He, knowing by the Scriptures, that unlawful vows may lawfully be broken, and that matrimony is both honest and honorable among all men, joined himself in lawful matrimony, and so went to Wittenberg in Saxony, where he, with much soberness of living, did not only greatly increase in all good and godly learning, but also so much profited in the knowledge of the Dutch tongue, that the charge of a congregation was orderly committed to his cure. In which ministry he diligently and faithfully served many years, until such time as it pleased God, by the faithful travail of his chosen and dear servant, king Edward the Sixth, utterly to banish all popery forth of England, and to receive in true religion, setting God’s gospel at liberty. He then, being orderly called, having both a conscience, and a ready good will to help forward the work of the Lord in his native country, left such honest and certain conditions as he had in Saxony, and came into England to preach the gospel, without certainty of any condition. In which office, after he had a space diligently and faithfully travailed, Nicholas Ridley, then bishop of London, gave him a prebend in the cathedral church of Paul; and the dean and the chapter chose him to be the reader of the divinity — lesson there; wherein he diligently travailed, until such time as queen Mary, obtaining the crown, banished the gospel and true religion, and brought in the Antichrist of Rome, with his idolatry and superstition.
After the queen was come to the Tower of London 4 , he, being orderly called thereunto, made a godly and vehement sermon at Paul’s Cross, confirming such true doctrine as he and others had there taught in king Edward’s days, exhorting the people constantly to remain in the same, and to beware of all pestilent popery, idolatry, and superstition. 5 The council, being then overmatched with popish and bloody bishops, called him to account for his sermon: to whom he made a stout, witty, and godly answer; and yet in such sort handled himself, that at that time he was clearly dismissed. But after that proclamation 6 was set forth by the queen to prohibit true preaching, he was called again before the council; for the bishops thirsted after his blood. The council quarrelled with him concerning his doctrine, and in conclusion commanded him as prisoner to keep his own house 7 ; and so he did; although by flying, he might easily have escaped their cruel hands, and many things there were which might have moved him thereunto. He did see the recovery of religion in England, for that present, desperate; he knew he could not want a living in Germany; and he could not forget his wife and ten children, and to seek means to succor them. But all these things set apart, after he was called to answer in Christ’s cause, he would not depart, but stoutly stood in defense of the same, and for the trial of that truth, was content to hazard his life.
Thus he remained in his own house as prisoner a long time 8 , till at length, through the uncharitable procurement of Bonner bishop of London, who could not abide such honest neighbors to dwell by him, he was removed from his own house to the prison called Newgate, where he was lodged among thieves and murderers for a great space; 9 during which time, what business he had with the adversaries of Christ, all is not known, neither yet any certainty of his examinations, further than he himself did leave in writing; which God would not to be lost, but to remain for a perpetual testimony in the cause of God’s truth, as here followeth recorded and testified by his own writing 291 .
THE EXAMINATION AND ANSWER OF JOHN ROGERS, MADE TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR, 10 AND TO THE REST OF THE COUNCIL, THE 22D OF JANUARY, A.D. 1555. First the lord chancellor said unto me thus: “Sir, ye have heard the state of the realm, in which it standeth now.” Rogers: — “No, my lord, I have been kept in close prison, and except there have been some general thing said at the table when I was at dinner or supper, I have heard nothing; and there have I heard nothing whereupon any special thing might be grounded.”
Then said the lord chancellor, “General things, general things,” mockingly. “Ye have heard of my lord cardinal’s coming 292 and that the parliament hath received his blessing, not one resisting unto it, but one man which did speak against it. Such a unity, and such a miracle, hath not been seen. And all they, of which there are eight score in one house, save one 293 that was by (whose name I know not), have, with one assent and consent, 12 received pardon of their offenses, for the schism that we have had in England, in refusing the holy father of Rome to be head of the catholic church.
How say ye? Are ye content to unite and knit yourself to the faith of the catholic church with us, in the state in which it is now in England? Will ye do that?” Rogers: — “The catholic church I never did nor will dissent from.” L. Chan.: — “Nay, but I speak of the state of the catholic church, in that wise in, which we stand now in England, having received the pope to be supreme head.” Rogers: — “I know none other head but Christ of his catholic church, neither will I acknowledge the bishop of Rome to have any more authority than any other bishop hath by the word of God, and by the doctrine of the old and pure catholic church four hundred years after Christ.” L. Chan.: — “Why didst thou then acknowledge king Henry the Eighth to be the supreme head of the church, if Christ be the only head?” Rogers: — I never granted him to have any supremacy in spiritual things, as are the forgiveness of sins, giving of the Holy Ghost, authority to be a judge above the word of God.” L. Chan. etc.: — “Yea,” said the lord chancellor, and Tonstal bishop of Durham, and N**** 13 bishop of Worcester, “if thou hadst said so in his days,” — and they nodded the head at me with a laughter — “thou hadst not been alive now.” Which thing I denied, and would have told how he was said and meant to be supreme head. But they looked and laughed one upon another, and made such a business, that I was constrained to let it pass. There lieth also no great weight thereupon; for all the world knoweth what the meaning was. The lord chancellor, also, said to the lord William Howard, that there was no inconvenience therein, to have Christ to be supreme head and the bishop of Rome also: and when I was ready to have answered that there could not be two heads of one church, and have more plainly declared the vanity of that his reason, the lord chancellor said, “What sayest thou? Make us a direct answer whether thou wilt be one of this catholic church or not, with us in that state in which we are now?” Rogers: — “My lord, without fail I cannot believe, that ye yourselves do think in your hearts that he is supreme head in forgiving of sin, etc. (as is before said), seeing you, and all the bishops of the realm have now twenty years long preached, and some of you also written to the contrary 14 ,and the parliament hath so long agone condescended unto it.” And there he interrupted me thus: L. Chan.: — “Tush! that parliament was with most great cruelty constrained to abolish and put away the primacy from the bishop of Rome.” Rogers: — “With cruelty? why then I perceive that you take a wrong way, with cruelty to persuade men’s consciences. For it should appear by your doings now, that the cruelty then used hath not persuaded your consciences. How would you then have our consciences persuaded with cruelty?” L. Chan.: — “I talk to thee of no cruelty, but that they were so often and so cruelly called upon in that parliament, to let that act go forward; yea, and even with force driven thereunto: whereas, in this parliament, it was so uniformly received, as is aforesaid.”
Here my lord Paget told me more plainly, what my lord chancellor meant; unto whom I answered: “My lord, what will ye conclude thereby; that the first parliament was of less authority, because but few condescended unto it? and this last parliament of great authority, because more condescended unto it? It goeth not, my lord, by more or lesser part; but by the wiser, truer, and godlier part:” and I would have said more, but the lord chancellor interrupted me with his question, willing me once again to answer him: “For,” said he, “we have more to speak with than thou, which must come in after thee.” — And so there were indeed ten persons more out of Newgate, besides two that were not called: of which ten, one was a citizen of London, which granted unto them; and nine *of the country* which all came to prison again, and refined the cardinal’s blessing, and the authority of his holy father’s church, saving that one of these nine was not asked the question otherwise than thus: Whether he would be an honest man as his father was before him, and he answering yea, was so discharged by the friendship of my lord William Howard, as I have understood. — He bade me tell him what I would do; whether I would enter into the one church with the whole realm as it is now, or not? “No,” said I, “I will first see it proved by the Scriptures. Let me have pen, ink, and books, etc., and I shall take upon me plainly to set out the matter, so that the contrary shall be proved to be true; and let any man that will, confer with me by writing.” L. Chan.: — “Nay, that shall not be permitted thee. Thou shalt never have so much proffered thee as thou hast now, if thou refuse it, and will not now condescend and agree to the catholic church. Here are two things, mercy and justice: if thou refuse the queen’s mercy now, then shalt thou have justice ministered unto thee.” Rogers: — “I never offended, nor was disobedient unto her grace, and yet I will not refuse her mercy. But if this shall be denied me, to confer by writing and to try out the truth, then it is not well, but too far out of the way. Ye yourselves (all the bishops of the realm) brought me to the knowledge of the pretended primacy of the bishop of Rome, when I was a young man twenty years past: and will ye now, without collation, have me to say and do the contrary? I cannot be so persuaded.” L. Chan.: — “If thou wilt not receive the bishop of Rome to be supreme head of the catholic church, then thou shalt never have her mercy, thou mayest be sure. And as touching conferring and trial,I am forbidden by the Scriptures to use any conferring and trial with thee.
For St. Paul teacheth me, that I should shun and eschew a heretic after one or two monitions, knowing that such a one is overthrown, and is faulty, insomuch as he is condemned by his own judgment.” Rogers: — “My lord, I deny that I am a heretic: prove ye that first, and then allege the aforesaid text.” — But still the lord chancellor played on one string, saying: L. Chan.: — “If thou wilt enter into our church with us, etc., tell us that; or else thou shalt never have so much proffered thee again as thou hast now.” Rogers: — “I will find it first in the Scripture, and see it tried thereby, before I receive him to be supreme head.” Worcester: — “Why! do ye not know what is in your creed: ‘Credo ecclesiam sanctam catholicam,’ ‘I believe the holy catholic church?’” Rogers: — “I find not the bishop of Rome there. For ‘catholic’ signifieth not the Romish church: it signifieth the consent of all true teaching churches of all times, and all ages. But how should the bishop of Rome’s church be one of them, which teacheth so many doctrines that are plainly and directly against the word of God? Can that bishop be the true head of the catholic church that doth so? that is not possible.” L. Chan.: — “Show me one of them; one, one, let me hear one!”
I remembered myself, that amongst so many I were best to show one, and said, “I will show you one.” L. Chan.: — “Let me hear that; let me hear that.” Rogers: — “The bishop of Rome and his church, say, read, and sing, all that they do in their congregations, in Latin, which is directly and plainly against 1 Corinthians 14.” L. Chan.: — “I deny that, I deny* that: that* it is against the word of *God, let* me see you prove that: how prove ye that?”
Thus I began to say the text from the beginning of the chapter, “Qui loquitur lingua,” etc., “To speak with tongue,” said I, “is to speak with a strange tongue, as Latin or Greek,Ó etc., and so to speak, is not to speak unto men, but to God. But ye speak in Latin, which is a strange tongue; wherefore ye speak not unto men, but unto God,” 15 (meaning God only at the most.) This he granted, that they spake not unto men, but unto God. *Rogers: — “ Well 294 , then it is in vain unto men.” L. Chan.: — “No, not in vain. For one man speaketh in one tongue, and another in another tongue, and all well.” Rogers*: — “Nay, I will prove then, that he speaketh neither to God nor to man, but into the wind.”
I was willing to have declared how and after what sort these two texts do agree (for they must agree; they be both the sayings of the Holy Ghost, spoken by the apostle Paul), as to wit, to speak not to men, but unto God, (1 Corinthians 14) and, to speak into the wind:” and so to have gone forward with the proof of my matter begun, but here arose a noise and a confusion. — Then said the lord chancellor. L. Chan: — “To speak unto God, and not unto God, were impossible.” Rogers: — “I will prove them possible.” “No,” said my lord William Howard to my lord chancellor. “Now will I bear you Witness, that he is out of the way; for he granted first, that they which speak in a strange speech speak unto God — and now he saith the contrary, that they speak neither to God nor to man.” Rogers: — “I have not granted nor said,” turning me to my lord Howard, as you report. I have alleged the one text, and now *I come* to the other. They must agree, and I can make them to agree. But as for you, ye understand not the matter.” Lord Howard: — “I understand so much, that that is not possible.” “This is a point of sophistry,” quoth secretary Bourn.
Then the lord chancellor began to tell the lord Howard, that when he was in High Dutchland, they at Halle, which had before prayed and used their service all in Dutch, began then to turn part into Latin, and part into Dutch. Worcester: — “Yea, and at Wittenberg too.” Rogers: — “Yea,” but I could not be heard for the noise, “in a university, where men for the most part understand the Latin, and yet not all in Latin.”— And I would have told the order, and have gone forward both to have answered my lord, and to have proved the thing that I had taken in hand: but, perceiving their talk and noise to be too noisome, I was fain to think this in my heart, suffering them in the meanwhile to talk one of them one thing, and another another: “Alas! neither will these men hear me if I speak, neither yet will they suffer me to write. There is no remedy, but to let them alone, and commit the matter to God.” — Yet I began to go forward, and said, that I would make the texts to agree, and prove all my purpose well enough. L. Chan.: — “No, no, thou canst prove nothing by the Scripture.
The Scripture is dead: it must have a lively expositor.” Rogers: — “No, the Scripture is alive, But let me go forward with my purpose.” Worcester: — “All heretics have alleged the Scriptures for them; and therefore we must have a lively expositor for them.” Rogers: — “Yea, all heretics have alleged the Scriptures for them: but they were confuted by the Scriptures, and by none other expositor.” Worcester: — “But they would not confess that they were overcome by the Scriptures, I am sure of that.” Rogers: — “I believe that: and yet were they overcome by them, and in all councils they were disputed with and overthrown by the Scriptures.” — And here I would have declared how they ought to proceed in these days, and so have come again to my purpose, but it was impossible: the one asked one thing, another said another, so that I was fain to hold my peace, and let them talk. And even when I would have taken hold on my proof, the lord chancellor bade to prison with me again: “And away, away,” said he; “we have more to talk withal:” If I would not be reformed (so he termed it) “away, away!” *Up I stood,* for I had kneeled all the while.
Then sir Richard Southwell, who stood in a window by, said to me, “Thou wilt not burn in this gear when it cometh to the purpose, I know well that.” Rogers: — “Sir, I cannot tell, but I trust in my Lord God, yes;” — lifting up mine eyes unto heaven.
Then my lord of Ely 295 told me much of the queen’s majesty’s pleasure and meaning, and set it out with large words, saying, that she took them that would not receive the bishop of Rome’s supremacy, to be unworthy to have her mercy, etc. I said I would not refuse her mercy, and yet I never offended her in all my life: and that I besought her grace, and all their honors, to be good to me, reserving my conscience. Divers at once: — “No!” quoth they then, a great sort of them, and specially secretary Bourn: “A married priest, and have not offended the law!” Rogers: — “I said I had not broken the queen’s law, nor yet any point of the law of the realm therein: for I married where it was lawful.” Divers at once: — “Where was that?” said they, thinking that to be unlawful in all places. Rogers: — “In Dutchland. And if ye had not here in England made an open law that priests might have had wives, I would never have come home again; for I brought a wife and eight children with me: which thing ye might he sure that I would not have done, if the laws of the realm had not permitted it before.”
Then there was a great noise, some saying, that I was come too soon with such a sort: I should find a sour coming of it; and some one thing, and some another. And one said (I could not well perceive who), that there was never a catholic man or country, that ever granted that a priest might have a wife.
Then the bishop of Worcester turned his face towards me, and said that I wist not where that church was or is. Rogers: — “I said, yes, that I could tell where it was; — but therewith went the sergeant with me out of the door.
This was the very true effect of all that was spoken unto me, and of all that I answered thereunto.
And here would I gladly make a more perfect answer to all the former objections, as also a due proof of that which I had taken in hand: but at this present I was informed that I should to — morrow come to further answer. Wherefore I am compelled to leave out that which I would most gladly have done, desiring here the hearty and unfeigned help of the prayers of all Christ’s true members, the true imps of the true unfeigned catholic church, that the Lord God of all consolation will now be my comfort, aid, strength, buckler, and shield: as also of all my brethren that are in the same case and distress, that I and they all may despise all manner of threats and cruelty, and even the bitter burning fire, and the dreadful dart of death; and stick like true soldiers to our dear and loving captain, Christ, our only Redeemer and Savior, and also the only true head of the church, that doth all, in us all; which is the very property of a head (and is a thing that all the bishops of Rome cannot do): and that we do not traitorously run out of his tents, or out of the plain field from him, in the most jeopardy of the battle; but that we may persevere in the fight (if he will not otherwise deliver us), till we be most cruelly slain of his enemies. For this I most heartily, and, at this present, with weeping tears most instantly and earnestly, desire and beseech you all to pray: and also, if I die, to be good to my poor and most honest wife, being a poor stranger, and all my little souls, hers and my children; whom, with all the whole faithful and true catholic congregation of Christ, the Lord of life and death save, keep, and defend, in all the troubles and assaults of this vain world, and bring at the last to everlasting salvation — the true and sure inheritance of all crossed Christians.
The 27th day of January, at night.
THE SECOND CONFESSION OF JOHN ROGERS, MADE, AND THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE (IF I MIGHT HAVE BEEN HEARD), THE 28TH AND 29TH DAY OF JANUARY, 1555.
First, being asked again by the lord chancellor, whether I would come into one church with the bishops and whole realm, as now was concluded by parliament (in the which all the realm was converted to the catholic church of Rome), and so receive the mercy before proffered me, arising again with the whole realm out of the schism and error in which we had long been, with recantation of my errors: — I answered, that before I could not tell what this mercy meant; but now, I understood that it was a mercy of the antichristian church of Rome, which I utterly refused; and that the rising which he spake of, was a very fall into error and false doctrine. Also, that I had and would be able, by God’s grace, to prove that all the doctrine which I had ever taught was true and catholic, and that by the Scriptures and the authority of the fathers that lived four hundred years after Christ’s death. He answered, That should not, might not, nor ought not, be granted me: for I was but a private man, and might not be heard against the determination of the whole realm. “Should,” quoth he, “when a parliament hath concluded a thing, one or any private person have authority to discuss, whether they had done right or wrong? No, that may not be.” I answered shortly, that all the laws of men might not, neither could, rule the word of God; but that they all must be discussed and judged thereby, and obey thereto; and [neither] my conscience, nor no christian man’s, could be satisfied with such laws as disagreed from that word: *willing* to have said much more. But the lord chancellor began a long *long* tale to very small purpose, concerning mine answer, to have defaced me; that there was nothing in me wherefore I should be heard, but arrogancy, pride, and vainglory. — I also granted mine ignorancy to be greater than I could express, or than he took it: but yet that I feared not, by God’s assistance and strength, to be able by writing to perform my word; neither was I (I thanked God) so utterly ignorant as he would make me; but all was of God, to whom be thanks rendered therefore. Proud man was I never, nor yet vain — glorious. All the world knew well, where and on which side pride, arrogancy, and vain — glory, was. It was a poor pride, that was or is in us, God it knoweth.
Then said he, that I at the first dash condemned the queen and the whole realm to be of the church of Antichrist; and burdened me highly therewithal. I answered, that the queen’s majesty (God save her grace) would have done well enough, if it had not been for his counsel. He said, the queen went before him, and it was her own motion. I said without fail I neither could, nor would I, ever believe it.
Then said Dr. Aldrich 296 , the bishop of Carlisle, that they (the bishops) would bear him witness. “Yea,” quoth I, “that I believe well:” and with that the people laughed; for that day there were many, but on the morrow they kept the doors shut, and would let none in, but the bishops’ adherents and servants in manner! yea, and the first day the thousandth man came not Then master comptroller and secretary Bourn would have stand up also, to bear witness, and did.
I said, it was no great matter: and, to say the truth, I thought that they were good helpers thereunto themselves; but I ceased to say any more therein, knowing that they were too strong and mighty of power, and that they should be believed before me; yea, and before our Savior Christ, and all his prophets and apostles too, in these days.
Then, after many words, he asked me what I thought concerning the blessed sacrament; and stood up, and put off his cap , 297 and all his fellow bishops (of which there were a great sort new men, of whom I knew few) — whether I believed in the sacrament to be the very body and blood of our Savior Christ, that was born of the Virgin Mary and hanged on the cross, really and substantially.
I answered, I had often told him that it was a matter in which I was no meddler; and therefore suspected of my brethren to be of a contrary opinion. “Notwithstanding, even as the most part of your doctrine in other, points is false, and the defense thereof only by force and cruelty: so in this matter I think it to be as false as the rest. For I cannot understand ‘really and substantially’ to signify otherwise than corporally: but corporally Christ is only in heaven, and so cannot Christ be corporally also in your sacrament.” And here I somewhat set out his charity after this sort: “My lord,” quoth I, “ye have dealt with me most cruelly; for ye have set me in prison without law, and kept me there now almost a year and a half. For I was almost half a year in my house, where I was obedient to you (God *it* knoweth), and spake with no man. And now have I been a full year in Newgate at great costs and charges, having a wife and ten children to find; and I had never a penny of my livings — which was against the law.”
He answered, that Dr. Ridley which had given them me, was a usurper, and therefore I was the unjust possessor of them. “Was the king, then, a usurper,” quoth I, “which gave Dr. Ridley the bishopric?” “Yea,” quoth he; and began to set out the wrongs that the king had done to the bishop of London, and to himself also: — “But yet I do misuse my terms,” quoth he, “to call the king usurper.” But the word was gone out of the abundance of the heart before; and I think that he was not very sorry for it in heart. I might have said more concerning that matter, but I did not.
I answered that it was not true: and I would be bound to prove it, and to stand to the trial of the law, that no man should be able to prove it and thereupon would set my life. “I preached,” quoth I, “a sermon at the Cross, after the queen came to the Tower; but therein was nothing said against the queen, I take witness of all the audience; which was not small.” I alleged also, that he had, after examination, let me go at liberty after the preaching of that sermon. “Yea, but thou didst read thy lectures after,” quoth he, “against the commandment of the council.” “That did I not,” quoth I, “let that be proved, and let me die for it.
Thus have you now against the law of God and man handled me, and never sent for me, never conferred with me, never spoke of any learning, till now that ye have gotten a whip to whip me with 298 , and a sword to cut off my neck, if I will not condescend unto your mind. This charity doth all the world understand.”
I might and would have added, if I could have been suffered to speak, that it had been time enough to take away men’s livings, and thereto to have imprisoned them, after that they had offended laws: for they be good citizens that break not laws, and worthy of praise, and not of punishment. But their purpose is to keep men in prison, so long until they may catch them in their laws; and so kill them. I could and would have added the example of Daniel, which, by a crafty devised law, was cast into the lions’ den. Item, I might have declared, that I most humbly desired to be set at liberty, sending my wife to him with a supplication, being great with child, and with her eight honest women, or thereabouts, to Richmond, at Christmas was a twelvemonth, while I was yet in my house. Item, I wrote two supplications to him out of Newgate, and sent my wife many times to him. Master Gosnold also, that worthy man who is now departed in the Lord, labored for me, and so did divers other worthy men also take pains in the matter. These things declare my lord chancellor’s antichristian charity, which is, that he hath and doth seek my blood, and the destruction of my poor wife and my ten children.
This is a short sum of the words which were spoken on the 28th day of January at afternoon, after that master Hooper had been the first, and master Cardmaker the second in examination before me.
The Lord grant us grace to stand together, fighting lawfully in his cause, till we be smitten down together, if the Lord’s will be so to permit it. For there shall not a hair of our heads perish against his will, but with his will. Whereunto the same Lord grant us to be obedient unto the end; and in the end, Amen, sweet, mighty, and merciful Lord Jesus, the Son of David and of God. Amen, Amen! let every true Christian say and pray.
Then the clock being, as I guessed, about four, the lord chancellor said, that he and the church must yet use charity with me (what manner of charity it is, all true Christians do well understand, — as to wit, the same that the fox doth with the chickens, and the wolf with the lambs), and gave me respite till to — morrow, to see whether I would remember myself well to — morrow, and whether I would return to the catholic church (for so he calleth his antichristian false church) again, and repent, and they would receive me to mercy.
I said, that I was never out of the true catholic church, nor would be: but into his church would I, by God’s grace, never come. “Well,” quoth he, “then is our church false and antichristian?” “Yea,” quoth I. “And what is the doctrine of the sacrament?” “False,” quoth I; — and cast my hands abroad.
Then said one, that I was a player. To whom I answered not; for I passed not upon his mock. “Come again,” quoth the lord chancellor, “to — morrow between nine and ten.” “I am ready to come again, whensoever ye call,” quoth I.
And thus was I brought up by the sheriffs to the Compter in Southwark, master Hooper going before me, and a great multitude of people being present, so that we had much to do to go in the streets. (Thus much was done the 28th day of January.)
The second day, which was the 29th of January, we were sent for in the morning about nine of the clock, and by the sheriffs fetched from the Compter in Southwark to the church again, as to wit, to St. Mary Overy’s, where we were the day before in the afternoon, as is said. And when master Hooper was condemned, as I understood afterward, then sent they for me. Then the lord chancellor said unto me: “Rogers,” quoth he, “here thou wast yesterday, and we gave thee liberty to remember thyself this night, whether thou wouldst come to the holy catholic church of Christ again or not. Tell us now what thou hast determined; whether thou wilt be repentant and sorry, and wilt return again and take mercy.” “My lord,” quoth I, “I have remembered myself right well, what you yesterday said to me, and desire you to give me leave to declare my mind, what I have to say thereunto; and, that done, I shall answer you to your demanded question. “When I yesterday desired that I might be suffered by the Scripture and authority of the first, best, and purest church, to defend my doctrine by writing (meaning not only of the primacy, but also of all the doctrine that ever I had preached), ye answered me, that it might not, nor ought not to be granted me, for I was a private person; and that the parliament was above the authority of all private persons, and therefore the sentence thereof might not be found faulty and valureless by me, being but a private person. And yet my lord,” quoth I, “I am able to show examples, that one man hath come into a general council, and after the whole had determined and agreed upon an act or article, some one man coming in afterward, hath, by the word of God, declared so pithily that the council had erred in decreeing the said article, that he caused the whole council to change and alter their act or article before determined. And of these examples,” said I, “I am able to show two. I can also show the authority of St. Augustine; 17 that when he disputed with a heretic, he would neither himself, nor yet have the heretic, to lean unto the determination of two former councils, of the which the one made for him, and the other for the heretic that disputed against him; but said, that he would have the Scriptures to be their judge, which were common and indifferent for them both, and not proper to either of them. “Item, I could show,” said I, “the authority of a learned lawyer Panormitane, 18 who saith, ‘that unto a simple layman, that bringeth the word of God with him, there ought more credit to be given, than to a whole council gathered together. By these things will I prove that I ought not to be denied to say my mind, and to be heard against a whole parliament, bringing the word of God for me, and the authority of the old church four hundred years after Christ — albeit that every man in the parliament had willingly, and without respect of fear and layout, agreed thereunto, which thing I doubt not a little of — specially seeing the like had been permitted in that old church, even in general councils; yea, and that in one of the chiefest councils that ever was, unto which neither any acts of this parliament, nor yet any of the late general councils of the bishops of Rome, ought to be compared. For,” said I, “if Henry the Eighth were on live, and should call a parliament, and begin to determine a thing (and here I would have alleged the example of the act of making the queen a bastard, and of making himself the superior head; but I could not, being interrupted by one whom God forgive 19 ) then will ye (pointing to my chancellor) and ye, and ye, and so ye all (pointing to the rest of the bishops), say, Amen: yea, and it like your grace, it is meet that it be so enacted.”
Here my lord chancellor would suffer me to speak no more; and bade me sit down mockingly, saying, that I was sent for to be instructed of them, and I would take upon me to be their instructor. “My lord,” quoth I, “I stand, and sit not: shall I not be suffered to speak for my life?” “Shall we suffer thee to tell a tale, and to prate?” quoth he. And with that he stood up, and began to face me, after his old arrogant proud fashion; for he perceived that I was in a way to have touched them somewhat, which he thought to hinder by dashing me out of my tale, and so he did. For I could never be suffered to come to my tale again, no not to one word of it; but he had much like communication with me, as he had the day before, and as his manner is, taunt *for* taunt, and check *for* check. For in that case, being God’s cause, I told him he should not make me afraid to speak.” L. Chan.: — “See what a spirit this fellow hath,” said he; “finding fault at mine accustomed earnestness, and hearty manner of speaking.” Rogers: — “I have a true spirit,” quoth I, “agreeing and obeying the word of God:” and would further have said, that I was never the worse, but the better, to be earnest in a just and true cause, and in my master Christ’s matters; but I could not be heard. And at length he proceeded towards his excommunication and condemnation, after that I had told him that his church of Rome was the church of Antichrist, meaning the false doctrine and tyrannical laws, with *their* maintenance by cruel persecution used by the bishops of the said church (of which the bishop of Winchester and the rest of his fellow bishops, that are now in England, are the chief members): “Of laws I mean,” quoth I, “and not of all men and women which are in the pope’s church.” Likewise when I was said to have denied their sacrament (whereof he made his wonted reverent mention, more to maintain his kingdom thereby, than for the true reverence of Christ’s institution; more for his own and his popish generations’ sake, than for religion or God’s sake), I told him after what order I did speak of it (for the manner of his speaking was not agreeing to my words, which are before recited in the communication that we had on the 28th of January); wherewith he was not contented, but he asked the audience whether I had not simply denied the sacrament. They would have said, and did, what he lusted; for the most of them were of his own servants at that day (the 29th of January, I mean). At the last I said, “I will never deny that I said; that is, that your doctrine of the sacrament is false; but yet I tell you after what order I said it.”
To be short, he read my condemnation before me particularly, mentioning therein but two articles; *that the Romish catholic church is the church of Antichrist, and that I denied the reality of their sacrament. He cursed me to be disgraded and condemned, and put into the hands of the laity; and so he gave me over into the sheriffs’ hands, which were much better than his.
The copy of this his condemnation here, I thought good to put down in English, to the intent that the same, being here once expressed, may serve for all other sentences condemnatory, through the whole story to be referred unto.
THE SENTENCE CONDEMNATORY AGAINST MASTER ROGERS.
In the name of God, Amen. We Stephen, by the permission of God bishop of Winchester, lawfully and rightly proceeding with all godly favor, by authority and virtue of our office, against thee John Rogers priest, alias called Matthew, before us personally here present, being accused and detected, and notoriously slandered of heresy, having heard, seen, and understood, and with all diligent deliberation weighed, discussed, and considered, the merits of the cause, all things being observed, which by us in this behalf in order of law ought to be observed, sitting in our judgment — seat, the name of Christ being first called upon, and having only God before our eyes: because by the acts enacted, propounded, and exhibited in this matter, and by thine own confession judicially made before us, we do find that thou hast taught, holden, and affirmed, and obstinately defended, divers errors, heresies, and damnable opinions, contrary to the doctrine and determination of the holy church, as namely these: That the catholic church of Rome is the church of Antichrist: item, that in the sacrament of the altar there is not substantially nor really the natural body and blood of Christ: the which aforesaid heresies and damnable opinions, being contrary to the law of God, and determination of the universal and apostolical church, thou hast arrogantly, stubbornly, and wittingly maintained, held, and affirmed, and also defended before us, as well in this judgment, as also otherwise; and with the like obstinacy, stubbornness, malice, and blindness of heart, both wittingly and willingly hast affirmed, that thou wilt believe, maintain and hold, affirm and declare, the same: we therefore, Stephen Winchester, bishop, ordinary, and diocesan aforesaid, by the consent and assent as well of our reverend brethren the lord bishops here present and assistant, as also by the counsel and judgment of divers worshipful lawyers and professors of divinity, with whom we have communicated in this behalf, do declare and pronounce thee, (the said John Rogers, otherwise called Matthew), through thy demerits, transgressions, obstinacies, and wilfulness (which, through manifold ways, thou hast incurred by thine own wicked and stubborn obstinacy), to have been and to be guilty of the detestable, horrible, and wicked offenses of heretical pravity and execrable doctrine, and that thou hast before us sundry times spoken, maintained, and wittingly and stubbornly defended, the said cursed and execrable doctrine in the sundry confessions, assertions, and recognitions here judicially before us oftentimes repeated, and yet still dost maintain, affirm and believe the same; and that thou hast been and art lawfully and ordinarily convicted in this behalf: we therefore, I say — albeit, following the example of Christ, “which would not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should convert and live,” we have gone about oftentimes to correct thee, and by all lawful means that we could, and all wholesome admonitions that we did know, to reduce thee again unto the true faith and unity of the universal catholic church: notwithstanding we have found thee obstinate and stiff — necked, willingly continuing in thy damnable opinions and heresies, and refusing to return again unto the true faith and unity of the holy mother church, and as the child of wickedness and darkness so to have hardened thy heart, that thou wilt not understand the voice of thy shepherd, which, with a fatherly affection, doth seek after thee; nor wilt be allured with his fatherly and godly admonitions — we therefore (Stephen, the bishop aforesaid), not willing that thou which art wicked shouldest now become more wicked, and infect the Lord’s flock with thine heresy (which we are greatly afraid of), with sorrow of mind and bitterness of heart 20 do judge thee, and definitively condemn thee the said John Rogers, otherwise called Matthew, thy demerits and faults being aggravated through thy damnable obstinacy, as guilty of most detestable heresies, and as an obstinate impenitent sinner, refusing penitently to return to the lap and unity of the holy mother church; and that thou hast been and art by law excommunicate, and do prouounce and declare thee to be an excommunicate person. Also we pronounce and declare thee, being a heretic, to be cast out from the church, and left unto the judgment of the secular power, and now presently so do leave thee as an obstinate heretic, and a person wrapped in the sentence of the great curse, to be degraded worthily for thy demerits 300 (requiring them, notwithstanding, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this execution and punishment worthily to be done upon thee, may so be moderated, that the rigor thereof be not too extreme, nor yet the gentleness too much mitigated; but that it may be to the salvation of thy soul, to the extirpation, terror, and conversion of the heretics, to the unity of the catholic faith) by this our sentence definitive which we here lay upon and against thee, and do with sorrow of heart promulgate in this form aforesaid! *After this,* he sent us (master Hooper I mean and me) to the Clink, there to remain till night: and when it was dark, they carried us (master Hooper going before with the one sheriff and I coming after with the other), with bills and weapons enow, out of the Clink, and led us through the bishop’s house, and so through St.
Mary Overy’s churchyard; and so into Southwark, and over the bridge on procession to Newgate, through the city. But I must show you this also, that when he had read the condemnation, he declared that I was in the great curse; and what a vengeable dangerous matter it *were,* to eat and drink with us that were accursed, or to give us any thing: for all that so did, should be partakers of the same great curse. “Well my lord,” quoth I, “here I stand before God and you, and all this honorable audience, and take him to witness, that I never wittingly or willingly taught any false doctrine; and therefore have I a good conscience before God and all good men. I am sure that you and I shall come before a Judge that is righteous, before whom I shall be as good a man as you: and I nothing doubt but that I shall be found there a true member of the true catholic church of Christ, and everlastingly saved. And as for your false church, ye need not to excommunicate me forth of it. I have not been in it these twenty years, the Lord be thanked there — for. But now ye have done what ye can, my lord, I pray you yet grant me one thing.” “What is that?” quoth he. “That my poor wife, being a stranger, may come and speak with me so long as I live. For she hath ten children that are hers and mine, and somewhat I would counsel her, what were best for her to do.” “No,” quoth he, “she is not thy wife.” “Yes, my lord,” quoth I, “and hath been these eighteen years.” “Should I grant her to be thy wife?” quoth he. “Choose you,” quoth I: “whether ye will or not, she shall be so nevertheless.” “She shall not come at thee,” quoth he. “Then I have tried out all your charity,” said 1. “Ye make yourself highly displeased with the matrimony of priests, but ye maintain *their* open whoredom; as in Wales,” quoth I, “where every priest hath his whore openly dwelling with him, and lying by him: even as your holy father suffereth all the priests in Dutchland and in France to do the like.” 21 Thereto he answered not, but looked as it were asquint at it: and thus I departed, and saw him last.
Other good matter there is besides, penned by master Rogers in the prison, which he thought and would have answered, if he might have been permitted: which matter hereunder followeth to be seen by his own setting — down.
OTHER GODLY MATTER PENNED BY MASTER ROGERS, INCLUDING HIS ADMONITIONS, SAYINGS, AND PROPHESYINGS.
Hitherto, dearly beloved, ye have heard what was said. Now hear what I purposed the night before to have said, if I could have been permitted. Two things I purposed to have touched: the one, how it was lawful for a private man to reason and write against a wicked act of parliament, or ungodly council, which the lord chancellor the day before denied me: the other was to prove that prosperity was not always a token of God’s love.
And this I purposed to speak of, because the lord chancellor boasted of himself, that he was delivered forth of prison as it were by miracle, and preserved of God to restore true religion, and to punish me and such others, whom he termed heretics. Concerning these two points, in this manner I purposed to have proceeded: — “It is not unknown to you, that king Henry the Eighth, in his time, made his daughter, the queen that now is, a bastard; he abolished the authority of the bishop of Rome; he pulled down abbeys: and all this he did by the consent of parliament. “King Edward the Sixth, in his time, made lawful the marriage of priests; turned the service into English; abolished the idolatrous mass, with all like superstitious trumpery; set up the holy communion: and all by consent of parliament. “The queen that now is hath repealed the act that made her bastard; hath brought in the bishop of Rome, and set him in his old authority; beginneth to set up abbeys again; hath made the marriage of priests unlawful; hath turned the English service into Latin again; hath set up the mass again, with like baggage, and pulled down the holy communion: and all this is done by consent of parliament. “If the acts of parliament, made in king Henry’s time and in king Edward’s, had their foundation upon God’s word, whereupon all positive law ought to be grounded; then these which are stablished in the queen’s time, being clean contrary to the others, as they are not warranted by God’s word, so are they wicked, and therefore to be both spoken and written against of all men, as well of private as of public persons. “If your acts, my lord chancellor, which you have lately coined (I call them yours, because ye only bear the swinge — devise, and decree what ye list, all other men are forced to follow), be good, and according to God’s word, then the former acts were naught; which thing ye seem to say, in utterly taking of them away, and setting up of the contrary. — If the former were naught, why then did ye consent unto them, and confirm them to be good by your voluntary and advised writing, as it appeareth, and will do to the world’s end, in your book ‘De vera Obedientia,’ where you prove the queen a bastard, and the bishop of Rome to be a usurper, and to have no authority in the realm of England? “Ye must needs confess, that the most part of your acts of parliament in these latter days have been according to the fantasies of a few. King Henry, in his time, established by parliament in a manner what he listed, and many things that might well have been amended. “In king Edward’s days the dukes of Somerset and Northumberland bare a great stroke in things, and did not all things sincerely. Even so, since the queen that now is came to the government of the realm, all things are ordered by your device and head, and the whole parliament — house is led as you list; by reason whereof they are compelled to condescend to things both contrary to God’s manifest word, and also contrary to their own consciences: so great is your cruelty. “For to bring your wicked purposes to pass, and to establish your anti — christian kingdom (which, I trust, the Lord with the breath of his mouth will speedily blow over), ye have called three parliaments in one year and a half, that what ye could not compass by subtle persuasion, ye might bring to pass by tyrannical threatening: for, if ye had not used cruel force in your doings, ye had never brought to pass such things as this day ye have, to the utter defacing and abolishing of God’s true religion, and to the casting away and destruction of your natural country, so much as in you lieth. “And as it is most true, that acts of parliament have, in these latter days, been ruled by the fantasies of a few; and the whole parliament — house, contrary to their minds, was compelled to consent to such things as a few had conceived: so it must needs be granted, that the papists at all times were most ready to apply themselves to the present world, and, like men — pleasers, to follow the fantasies of such as were in authority, and turn with the state, which way soever it turned. Yea, if the state should change ten times in one year, they would ever be ready at hand to change with it, and so follow the cry; and rather utterly forsake God, and be of no religion, than that they would forego lust or living, for God or for religion. “King Henry by parliament, according to God’s word, put down the pope: the clergy consented, and all men openly by oath refused his usurped supremacy, knowing by God’s word Christ to be head of the church, and every king in his realm to have, under and next unto Christ, the chief sovereignty. “King Edward also, by parliament, according to God’s word, set the marriage of priests at liberty, abolished the popish and idolatrous mass, changed the Latin service, and set up the holy communion: the whole clergy consented hereunto; many of them set it forth by their preaching; and all they by practising confirmed the same. “Notwithstanding, now when the state is altered, and the laws changed, the papistical clergy with other, like worldlings, as men neither fearing God, neither flying worldly shame, neither yet regarding their consciences, oaths, or honesty, like wavering weathercocks, turn round about, and putting on harlots’ foreheads, sing a new song, and cry with an impudent mouth, ‘Come again, come again to the catholic church;’ meaning the antichristian church of Rome, which is the synagogue of Satan, and the very sink of all superstition, heresy, and idolatry. “Of what force, I pray you, may a man think these parliaments to be, which scantly can stand a year in strength? or what credit is to be given to these lawmakers, which are not ashamed to establish contrary laws, and to condemn that for evil, which before (the thing in itself and the circumstances remaining all one) they affirmed and decreed to be good. Truly ye are so ready, contrary to all right, to change and turn for the pleasure of man, that at the length, I fear, God will use you like changelings, and both turn you forth of his kingdom, and out of your own country. “Ye charge the gospel preachers with the undoing of this realm: nay, it is the turning papists, which have not only set a sale their country like traitors, but also troubled the simple people, so that they cannot tell what they may believe. For that which they affirmed, and preached to be true doctrine in king Edward’s days, now they cry against it, as it were most abominable heresy. This fault, I trust, ye shall never find at our hands. “Therefore, to conclude that which I purposed, forsomuch as the acts of parliament of these latter times are one contrary to another, and those which ye now have established in your time are contrary to God’s most manifest word — as is the usurped supremacy of the bishop of Rome, the idolatrous mass, the Latin service, the prohibiting of lawful marriage (which St. Paul calleth ‘the doctrine of devils’) with many such others: I say, it is not only lawful for any private man, which bringeth God’s word for him, and the authority of the primitive and best church, to speak and write against such unlawful laws; but it is his duty, and he is bound in very conscience to do it. Which thing I have proved by divers examples before, and now will add but one other, which is written in Acts 5, where it appeareth that the high priests, the elders, scribes, and pharisees, decreed in their council, and gave the same commandment to the apostles, that they should not preach in the name of Christ, as ye have also forbidden us. Notwithstanding, when they were charged therewithal, they answered ‘Obedire oportet Deo magis quam hominibus:’ that is, ‘We ought more to obey God than man: even so we may, and do answer you — God is more to be obeyed than man; and your wicked laws cannot so tongue — tie us, but we will speak the truth. “The apostles were beaten for their boldness, and they rejoiced that they suffered for Christ’s cause. Ye have also provided rods for us, and bloody whips: yet when ye have done that which God’s hand and council hath determined that ye shall do, be it life or death, I trust that God will so assist us by his holy Spirit and grace, that we shall patiently suffer it, and praise God for it. And whatsoever become of me and others, which now suffer for speaking and professing of the truth, yet be ye sure that God’s word will prevail, and have the over hand, when your bloody laws and wicked decrees, for want of sure foundation, shall fall in the dust. And that which I have spoken of your acts of parliament, the same may be said of the general councils of these latter days, which have been within these five hundred years, where the Antichrist of Rome, by reason of his usurped authority, ruled the roast, and decreed such things as made for his gain, not regarding God’s glory: and therefore are they to be spoken, written, and cried out against, of all such as fear God and love his truth.”
And thus much I purposed to have said concerning the first point.
Now touching the second point: That whereas my lord chancellor had the day before said his pleasure of them that ruled the realm while he was in prison, and also rejoiced as though God had made this alteration, even for his sake and his catholic church, as he called it, and to declare as it were by miracle, that we were before in a schism and heresy, and the realm was now brought unto a unity, and to a truth, and I cannot tell whereto: thereto was I fully purposed to have said: “Secondly my lord, whereas ye yesterday so highly dispraised the government of them that ruled in innocent king Edward’s days, it may please your lordship to understand, that we poor preachers, whom ye so evil allow, did most boldly and plainly rebuke their evil governance in many things, specially their covetousness, and neglect and small regard to live after the gospel; as also their negligence to occasion others to live thereafter, with more things than I can now rehearse. This can all London testify with us.” — I would also have told him, what I myself, for my part, did once at Paul’s Cross, concerning the misuse of abbeys, and other church goods: and I am assured right well, that never a papist of them all, did ever so much therein as I did, I thank the Lord there — for: I was also, as is well known, fain to answer there — for before all the council, and many of my brethren did the like; so that we, for the not rebuking of their faults, shall not answer before God, nor be blameworthy before men. Therefore let the gentlemen and courtiers themselves, and all the citizens of London, testify what we did. “But my lord, you could not abide them, for that which they did unto you, and for that they were of a contrary religion unto you.
Wherefore, in that you seem so infest against them, it is neither any just nor public cause, but it is your own private hate, that maketh you to report so evil of their governance. And ye may now say what ye list of them, when they be partly dead and gone, and partly by you put out of office. “But what shall be said of you when your fall shall follow, ye shall them hear. And I must say my conscience to you: I fear me, ye have and will, with your governance, bring England out of God’s blessing into a warm sun. I pray God, you do not. “I am an Englishman born, and, God knoweth, do naturally wish well to my country. And, my lord, I have often proved that the things, which I have much feared aforehand should come to pass, have indeed followed. I pray God I may fail of my guessing in this behalf: but truly, that will not be with expelling the true word of God out of the realm, and with the shedding of innocent blood. “And as touching your rejoicing, as though God had set you aloft to punish us by miracle (for so you report and brag openly of yourself), and: to minister justice, if we will not receive your holy father’s mercy, and thereby do declare your church to be true, and ours false, to that I answer thus: God’s works be wonderful, and are not to be comprehended and perceived by man’s wisdom, nor by the wit of the most wise and prudent. Yea, they are soonest deceived, and do most easily judge amiss of God’s wonderful works, that are most worldly — wise. God hath made all the wisdom of this world foolishness: (1 Corinthians 1,2) ‘Dedit dilectam animam suam in manus inimicorum ejus.’ Hierem. 12; that is, ‘He hath put his beloved and dear heart into the hands of the enemies thereof.’ “This thing doth God, which thing all wise men account to be the most foolish and unwise part that can be. Will the wise of the world, trow ye, put their most dear friends and tenderly beloved children into their enemies’ hands, to kill, slay, burn, etc.: that is unto them a madness above all madness. And yet doth God use this order, and this is a high and singular wisdom in his sight, which the world taketh to be most extreme madness. “Can the world show a cause why he suffered the great multitude of innocent children to be murdered of Herod of Ascalon, or why he put that most holy man, John Baptist, into the hands of Herod’s son to be beheaded, and that in prison secretly, without open judgment, most tyrannously? Why he suffered his beloved apostle James to he beheaded of another Herod? (Acts 12) Why he suffered his beloved seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to be four hundred years in thraldom and bondage, and under Pharaoh? And all the stock of Judah, and Benjamin, his beloved children and church, to come under the power, sword, and tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar? No verily, but his true catholic church knoweth divers causes thereof, which are now too long to rehearse, and which I would right gladly show, if I had time. “But this I am right sure of, that it was not because that the aforesaid godly men were in heresies, and subject to false gods’ services, and idolatry, and that their adversaries were men of God, and beloved of God: the contrary was true: John Baptist was beloved of God, and Herod hated, and so forth of the rest: and John Baptist, the innocent children, James, the children of Israel in Egypt and in Babylon, were the catholic members and people of God: and their adversaries, into whose hands they were put and delivered, and that of God, and by his good will and pleasure, were idolaters, and the people of the devil: but they would be called the chief members of God, and rejoiced that they had the true God, and that it was now declared by miracle, that the Israelites had but a false God, and a false religion, seeing they were delivered into the Babylonians’ hands. And all the others (the Herods and Pharaoh, I mean) plainly determined, that if the men, which they killed and handled evil, had been God’s people, God would never have suffered them to come into their hands, but rather have done the contrary; and have let John Baptist kill Herod, and the Israelites Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Even the like is now to be seen in us, and in our most cruel adversaries. “They are not therefore the catholic church, because our merciful God hath at this present given our lives into their hands: neither are we therefore heretics, because we suffer punishment at their hands, as the lord chancellor by his rejoicing seemeth to gather. The contrary is hereby to be gathered, that we be the members of the true catholic church, because we suffer for the same doctrine which John Baptist, James, the Israelites, yea Christ and the apostles, did teach: of which none taught anything of our adversaries’ doctrine; namely, that the rotten antichristian head of Rome should be the head of Christ’s church: but they have manifestly taught the contrary, especially Paul, (2 Thessalonians 2) John, (Revelation) and Daniel; (Daniel 11) which thing, if I might have life and books, I would so (by God’s grace) set forth, that all the world should see it: and that our adversaries, with their antichristian head, are the members of the devil’s church, as they undoubtedly are. And in like case, as the above — mentioned holy men, though they, in their days, were counted to be heretics, seditious, and disturbers of the whole world; for unto John Baptist it was said, ‘Wherefore baptizest thou, if thou be not Elias, nor that prophet?’ (John 1) etc. — as who should say, Thou hast no such authority to begin a new ceremony in the church; for we be in ordinary possession of the church: and of us thou hast received no such power: we abide by our circumcision. And the like could I declare of James, and of all the apostles and prophets, and of our Savior Christ himself, that were all condemned as heretics, and blasphemers of God, and disturbers of the whole world. Paul and Silas (Acts 16) heard like words of the Philippians: These men trouble our city, seeing they are Jews, and preach institutions which are not lawful for us to receive, seeing we be Romans. And in Athens (Acts 17) the wise men of this world, and such as gave their endeavor to wisdom, said by St. Paul, ‘Quid vult spermologus hic dicere?’ What will this prater (as my lord chancellor said to me, Shall we suffer this fellow to prate, — when I would fain have said that thing that I have here written), trifler, news — carrier, or bringer, that telleth whatsoever men will have him for gain and advantage? that will for a piece of bread say what ye will have him, etc. And another said in the same place, ‘He seemeth to be a preacher of new devils,’ etc.; and the Jews say by Paul (Acts 21) laying hands on him, ‘Help, O ye Israelites,’ say they: ‘this is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people (meaning the Jews), and the law of this place (meaning Jerusalem):’ and yet was never a word of these true. And the same Jews said of Paul: (Acts 22) ‘Out of the earth with that man,’ or ‘Away with him:’ for it is not lawful for him to live,’ or ‘he is not worthy to live.’ And how many more of these examples are to be found in the Bible? Although, I say, these men were in their days taken for heretics of them that were then in authority, and of the great multitude of the world, yet it is now well known (yea and very shortly after their deaths this was known, yea, and even in their lives also) unto the true catholic church, that they were not only the chief and special members of the true catholic church, but also the founders and builders thereof (notwithstanding the sinister judgment that the wise and mighty men, and the great multitude of the world had of them); and in their consciences they were always assuredly certified of the same. Even the same shall the world find true in us, shortly after our deaths, as also there be at this hour (the Lord be thanked therefor) not a few that already know it; as we ourselves also are by God’s grace assuredly certified in our consciences — that we are no heretics, but members of the true catholic church; and that our adversaries the bishops and popish clergy, which will have that title, are the members of Satan’s church, and their anti — christian head of Rome with them. “But here they will cry out, ‘Lo! these men will be still like John Baptist, the apostles, and prophets,’ etc. “I answer, ‘We make not ourselves like unto them, in the singular virtues and gifts of God given unto them; as of doing miracles, and of many other things.’ The similitude and likeness of them and us consisteth not in all things, but only in this; that is, that we be like them in doctrine, and in the suffering of persecution and infamy for the same. “We have preached their very doctrine, and none other thing: that we are able sufficiently to declare by their writings; and by writing, for my part, I have proffered to prove the same, as is now often said. And for this cause we suffer the like reproach, shame, and rebuke of the world, and the like persecution, lesing of our lives and goods, forsaking (as our master Christ commandeth) father, mother, sisters, brethren, wives, children, and all that there is; being assured of a joyful resurrection, and to be crowned in glory with them, according to the infallible promises made unto us in Christ, our only and sufficient Mediator, Reconciler, Priest, and Sacrifice; which hath pleased the Father, and quieted and pacified his wrath against our sins, and made us without spot or wrinkle in his sight by imputation, although we, of and in ourselves, are be — spotted, and be — blotted with many filthy sins, which, if the great mercy granted in Christ did not put away, by not imputing them unto us of his measureless unspeakable mercy and love to save us, they would have brought us to everlasting damnation, and death perpetual: herein, and in no other, do we affirm ourselves to be like unto our head Christ, and all his apostles, prophets, martyrs, and saints. And herein ought all christian men to be like them; and herein are all true christian men and women like them every one, according to the measure of the faith that God hath dealt unto them, and to the diversity of the gifts of the Spirit given unto them. “But let us now consider, that if it be God’s good will and pleasure to give his own beloved heart (that is, his beloved church, and the members thereof), into the hands of their enemies, to chasten, try, and prove them, and to bring them to the true unfeigned acknowledging of their own natural stubbornness, and disobedience towards God and his commandments, as touching the love of God and of their brethren or neighbors, and their natural inclination, readiness, and desire to love creatures; to seek their own lusts, pleasures, and things forbidden of God; to obtain a true and earnest repentance, and sorrowfulness there — for, and to make them to sigh and cry for the forgiveness of the same, and for the aid of the Spirit daily to mortify and kill the said evil desires and lusts: yea, and often falling into gross outward sins, as did David, Peter, Magdalene, and others, to rise again also thereout with a mighty crying for mercy, with many other causes — let us also consider what he hereafter doth with the said enemies, into whose hands he hath given his tender beloved dearlings to be chastened and tried.
Forsooth, whereas he but chasteneth his dearlings, and crosseth them for a small while, according to his good pleasure, as all fathers do with their children, (Hebrews 12, Proverbs 3) he utterly destroyeth, yea and everlastingly damneth, the unrepentant enemies. Let Herod tell me what he won by killing James, and persecuting Peter, and Christ’s tender dearlings, and beloved spouse and wife, his church. Verily God thought him not worthy to have death ministered unto him by men or angels, or any worthy creatures, but those small, and yet most vile beasts, lice, and small worms, must consume and kill his beastly, vile, and tyrannous body. Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, for all their pride and most mighty power, must at length let God’s dearlings go freely away out of their land; yea out of their bands and tyranny. For when it could not be obtained at their hands that God’s congregation might have true mercy ministered unto them, but the counterfeit mercy of these our days (that is to say, extreme cruelty, and even the very and that most horrible and cruel death), God arose and awoke out of his sleep, and destroyed those enemies of his flock with a mighty hand and stretched — out arm. Pharaoh did, with most great and intolerable labors and burdens, oppress and bring under the poor Israelites; and yet did the courtiers undoubtedly noise abroad, that the king was merciful unto them, to suffer them to live in the land, and to set them awork, that they might get them their livings. If he should thrust them out of his land, whither should they go, like a sort of vagabonds and runagates? This title and name of mercy would that tyrant have, and so did his flattering false courtiers spread his vain praise abroad. Have not we the like examples now — a — days? O that I had now time to write certain things pertaining to our Winchester’s mercy! How merciful he hath been to me and to my good brethren I will not speak of, neither yet unto the duke of Suffolk’s most innocent daughter, and to her as innocent husband. For, although their fathers were faulty, yet had their youth and lack of experience deserved a pardon by all true merciful men’s judgments. O that I had time to paint out this matter aright! but there be many alive that can do it much better when I am dead. Pharaoh had his plagues, and his most flourishing land was by his counterfeit mercy, which was in deed right cruelty and abominable tyranny, utterly destroyed. And think ye that this bloody butcherly bishop of Winchester, and his most bloody brethren, shall escape? or that England shall for their offenses, and specially for the maintenance of their idolatry and wilful following of them, not abide a great brunt? — Yes, undoubtedly. “If God look not mercifully upon England, the seeds of utter destruction are sown in it already, by these hypocritical tyrants, and antichristian prelates, popish papists, and double traitors to their natural country. And yet they speak of mercy, of blessing, of the catholic church, of unity, of power, and strengthening of the realm. This double dissimulation will show itself one day, when the plague cometh, which will undoubtedly light upon those crown — shorn captains, and that shortly; whatsoever the godly and the poor realm suffer in the meanwhile, by God’s good sufferance and will. “Spite of Nebuchadnezzar’s beard, and maugre his heart, the captive, thralled, and miserable Jews must come home again, and have their city and temple builded up again by Zerubbabel, Esdras, and Nehemiah, etc. And the whole kingdom of Babylon must go to ruin, and be taken in of strangers, the Persians and the Medes. So shall the disperpled English flock of Christ be brought again into their former estate, or to a better, I trust in the Lord God, than it was in innocent king Edward’s days, and our bloody Babylonical bishops; and the whole crown — shorn company brought to utter shame, rebuke, ruin, decay, and destruction. For God cannot, and undoubtedly will not, suffer for ever their abominable lying false doctrine; their hypocrisy, bloodthirst, whoredom, idleness; their pestilent life, pampered in all kind of pleasure; their thrasonical boasting pride; their malicious, envious, and poisoned stomachs, which they bear towards his poor and miserable Christians. Peter truly warneth, that ‘If judgment beginneth at the house of God, what shall be the end of them, that believe not the gospel? If the righteous shall scant be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinful appear?’ (1 Peter 4) Some shall have their punishment here in this world, and in the world to come; and they that do escape in this world, shall not escape everlasting damnation. This shall be your sauce, O ye wicked papists; make ye merry here, as long as ye may!”
After that John Rogers 301 , as ye have heard, had been long and straitly imprisoned, lodged in Newgate amongst thieves, often examined, and very uncharitably entreated, and at length unjustly and most cruelly by wicked Winchester condemned: the 4th of February, A.D. 1555, being Monday in the morning, he was warned suddenly, by the keeper’s wife of Newgate, to prepare himself to the fire; who, being then found asleep, scarce with much shogging could be awaked. At length being raised and waked, and bid to make haste, “Then,” said he, “if it be so, I need not tie my points:” and so was had down first to Bonner to be degraded. That done, he craved of Bonner but one petition. And Bonner,asking what that should be: “Nothing,” said he, “but that I might talk a few words with my wife before my burning.” But that could not be obtained of him. “Then,” said he, “you declare your charity, what it is.” And so he was brought into Smithfield by master Chester, and master Woodroofe, then sheriffs of London, there to be burnt; where he showed most constant patience, not using many words, for he could not be permitted 302 ; but only exhorting the people constantly to remain in that faith and true doctrine which he before had taught, and they had learned, and for the confirmation whereof he was not only content patiently to suffer and bear all such bitterness and cruelty as had been showed him, but also most gladly to resign up his life, and to give his flesh to the consuming fire, for the testimony of the same.
Briefly, and in few words to comprehend the whole order of his life, doings and martyrdom: first, this godly master Rogers was committed to prison, as is above said, and there continued a year and a half 303 . In prison he was merry, and earnest in all he went about. He wrote much; his examinations he penned with his own hand, which else had never come to light: wherein is to be noted, by the way, a memorable working of God’s providence. Ye heard a little above, how master Rogers craved of Bonner, going to his burning, that he might speak a few words before with his wife; which could not be granted. What these words were, which he had to say to his wife, it is for no man certainly to define. Likely it may be supposed that his purpose was, amongst other things, to signify unto her of the book written of his examinations and answers, which he had privily hid in a secret corner of the prison where he lay. But where man’s power lacketh, see how God’s providence worketh. For notwithstanding that during the time of his imprisonment, strait search there was, to take away his letters and writings; yet, after his death, his wife and one of her sons called Daniel, coming into the place where he lay, to seek for his books and writings, and now ready to go away; it chanced her son aforenamed, casting his eye aside, to spy a black thing (for it had a black cover, belike because it should not be known) lying in a blind corner under a pair of stairs: who, willing his mother to see what it was, found it to be the book written with his own hand, containing these his examinations and answers, with other matter above specified. In the latter end whereof, was also contained, that which concerneth a prophetical forewarning of things pertaining to the church, and which, in the same his words as they be there written, may be seen in the end of his “Admonitions, Sayings, and Prophesyings.” Furthermore, amongst other words and sayings, which may seem prophetically to be spoken of him, this also may be added, and is notoriously to be marked, that he spake, being then in prison, to the printer of this present book, 23 who then also was laid up for like cause of religion: “Thou,” said he, “shalt live to see the alteration of this religion, and the gospel to be freely preached again: and therefore have me commended to my brethren, as well in exile as others, and bid them be circumspect in displacing the papists, and putting good ministers into churches; or else their end will be worse than ours. And for lack of good ministers to furnish churches, his device was (master Hooper also agreeing to the same), that for every ten churches some one good and learned superintendent should be appointed, which should have under him faithful readers, such as might well be got; so that popish priests should clean be put out, and the bishop once a year to oversee the profiting of the parishes. And if the minister did not his duty, as well in profiting himself in his book, and his parishioners in good instructions, so that they may be trained by little and little to give a reckoning how they do profit, then he to be expelled, and another put in his place; and the bishop to do the like with the superintendent. This was his counsel and request: showing moreover, and protesting in his commendations to his brethren by the printer aforesaid, that if they would not so do, their end, he said, would be worse than theirs.
Over and besides divers things touching master Rogers, this is not to be forgotten, how in the days of king Edward the Sixth, there was a controversy among the bishops and clergy, for wearing of priests’ caps, and other attire belonging to that order. Master Rogers, being one of that number which never went otherwise than in a round cap, during all the time of king Edward, affirmed that he would not agree to that decreement of uniformity, but upon this condition: that if they would needs have such a uniformity of wearing the cap, tippet, etc., then it should also be decreed withal, that the papists, for a difference betwixt them and others, should bee constrained to wear upon their sleeves a chalice with a host upon it.
Whereupon if they would consent, he would agree to the other: otherwise he would not, he said, consent to the setting forth of the same, nor ever wear the cap; as indeed he never did.
To proceed now further in describing the doings of this man, during the time while he remained prisoner in Newgate, he was to the prisoners beneficial and liberal; for whom he had thus devised: that he with his fellows should have but one meal a day, they paying notwithstanding for the charges of the whole; the other meal should be given to them that lacked on the other side of the prison. But Alexander Andrew their keeper, a strait man, and a right Alexander, a coppersmith indeed, of whose doing more shall be said, God willing, hereafter, would in no case suffer that.
The Sunday before he suffered, he drank to master Hooper, being then underneath him, and bade them commend him unto him, and tell him, “There was never little fellow better would stick to a man, than he would stick to him;” presupposing they should both be burned together, although it happened otherwise; for master Rogers was burnt alone. And thus much briefly concerning the life and such acts of master Rogers, as I thought worthy noting.
Now when the time came, that he, being delivered to the sheriffs, should be brought out of Newgate to Smithfield, the place of his execution, first came to him master Woodroofe, one of the aforesaid sheriffs, and calling master Rogers unto him, asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine, and his evil opinion of the sacrament of the altar. Master Rogers answered and said, “That which I have preached I will seal with my blood.” “Then,” quoth master Woodroofe, “thou art a heretic.” “That shall be known,” quoth Rogers, “at the day of judgment.” “Well,” quoth master Woodroofe, “ I will never pray for thee 304 .” “But I will pray for you,” quoth master Rogers; and so was brought the same day, which was Monday the 4th of February, by the sheriffs toward Smithfield, saying the Psalms “ Miserere 305 ” by the way, all the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy, with great praises and thanks to God for the same. And there, in the presence of master Rochester, comptroller of the queen’s household, sir Richard Southwell, both the sheriffs, and a wonderful number of people, *the 24 fire was put unto him; and when it had taken hold both upon his legs and shoulders, he, as one feeling no smart, washed his hands in the flame, as though it had been in cold water. And, after lifting up his hands unto heaven, not removing the same until such time as the devouring fire had consumed them — most mildly this happy martyr yielded up his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father.* A little before his burning at the stake, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted, but he utterly refused. He was the first proto — martyr of all the blessed company that suffered in queen Mary’s time, that gave the first adventure upon the fire. His wife and children, being eleven in number, and ten able to go, and one sucking on her breast, met him by the way as he went towards Smithfield. This sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him; but that he constantly and cheerfully took his death, with wonderful patience, in the defense and quarrel of Christ’s gospel.
THE HISTORY AND MARTYRDOM OF LAURENCE SAUNDERS, BURNED FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE GOSPEL AT COVENTRY, PICTURE: The Burning of Laurence Saunders After that queen Mary, by public proclamation in the first year of her reign, had inhibited the sincere preaching of God’s holy word, as is before declared, divers godly ministers of the word, which had the cure and charge of souls committed to them, did, notwithstanding, according to their bounden duty, feed their flock faithfully, not as preachers authorized by public authority (as the godly order of the realm was in the happy days of blessed king Edward), but as the private pastors of particular flocks; among whom Laurence Saunders was one, a man of worshipful parentage.
His bringing up was in learning from his youth, in places meet for that purpose, as namely in the school of Eton; from whence (according to the manner there used) he was chosen to go to the King’s — college in Cambridge, where he continued scholar of the college three whole years, and there profited in knowledge and learning very much for that time.
Shortly after that, he did forsake the university, and went to his parents, upon whose advice he minded to become a merchant, for that his mother, who was a gentlewoman of good estimation, being left a widow, and having a good portion for him among his other brethren, she thought to set him up wealthily; and so he, coming up to London, was bound apprentice with a merchant, named sir William Chester, who afterward chanced to be sheriff of London the same year that Saunders was burned at Coventry. Thus, by the mind of his friends, Laurence should needs have been a merchant; but Almighty God, who hath his secret working in all things, saw better for his servant, as it fell out in the end. For although that Saunders was bound by fast indenture to play the merchant, yet the Lord so wrought inwardly in his heart, that he could find no liking in that vocation: so that when his other fellows were busily occupied about that kind of trade, he would secretly withdraw himself into some privy corner, and there fall into his solitary lamentations; as one not liking that kind and trade of life.
It happened that his master, being a good man, and hearing his apprentice thus in his secret prayers inwardly to mourn by himself, called him unto him, to know what the cause was, of that his solitariness and lamentation; who then, perceiving his mind nothing to fancy that kind of life (for so Saunders declared unto him), and perceiving also his whole purpose to be bent to the study of his book, and spiritual contemplation, like a good man directed his letters incontinently unto his friends, and, giving him his indenture, so set him free. And thus Laurence Saunders, being ravished with the love of learning, and especially with the reading of God’s word, tarried not long time in the traffic of merchandise, but shortly returned to Cambridge again to his study; where he began to couple to the knowledge of the Latin, the study of the Greek tongue, wherein he profited in small time very much. Therewith, also, he joined the study of the Hebrew. Then gave he himself wholly to the study of the holy Scripture, to furnish himself to the office of a preacher. In study he was diligent and painful; in godly life he declared the fruits of a well exercised conscience; he prayed often and with great fervor; and in his prayers, as also at other times, he had his part of spiritual exercises, which his hearty sighing to God declared, in which when any special assault did come, by prayer he felt present relief. Then was his company marvellous comfortable; for as his exercises were special teachings, so in the end they proved singular consolations: wherein he became so expert, that within short space he was able to comfort others who were in any affliction, by the consolation wherewith the Lord did comfort him. Thus continued he in the university, till he proceeded master of arts, and a long space after.
In the beginning of king Edward’s reign, when God’s true religion was begun to be restored, after license obtained, he began to preach; and was so well liked of them which then had authority, that they appointed him to read a divinity lecture in the college at Fotheringay, where, by doctrine and life he edified the godly, drew many ignorant to God’s true knowledge, and stopped the mouth of the adversaries. He married about that time, and in the married estate led a life unblamable before all men. The college of Fotheringay being dissolved, he was placed to be reader in the minster at Lichfield; where he so behaved himself in teaching and living, that the very adversaries did give him a full report as well of learning, as of much godliness. After a certain space, he departed from Lichfield to benefice in Leicestershire, called Church — Langton, whereupon he, keeping residence, taught diligently, and kept a liberal house. From thence he was orderly called to take a benefice in the city of London, named Allhallows in Bread — street. Then minded he to give over his cure in the country: and therefore, after he had taken possession of his benefice in London, he departed from London into the country, clearly to discharge himself thereof. And even at that time began the broil about the claim that queen Mary made to the crown, by reason whereof he could not accomplish his purpose.
In this trouble, and even among the beginners of it (such I mean as were for the queen), he preached at Northampton, nothing meddling with the state, but boldly uttered his conscience against popish doctrine and Antichrist’s damnable errors, which were like to spring up again in England, as a just plague for the little love which the English nation did bear to the blessed word of God, which had been so plentifully offered unto them. The queen’s men, which were there and heard him, were highly displeased with him for his sermon, and for it kept him among them as prisoner: but, partly for love of his brethren and friends, who were chief doers for the queen among them, partly because there was no law broken by his preaching, they dismissed him. He, seeing the dreadful days at hand, inflamed with the fire of godly zeal, preached with diligence at both those benefices, as time could serve him; seeing he could resign neither of them now, but into the hand of a papist.
Thus passed he to and fro preaching, until that proclamation was put forth, of which mention is made in the beginning, At that time he was at his benefice in the country, where he (notwithstanding the proclamation aforesaid) taught diligently God’s truth, confirming the people therein, and arming them against false doctrine, until he was not only commanded to cease, but also with force resisted, so that he could not proceed there in preaching. Some of his friends, perceiving such fearful menacing, counselled him to fly out of the realm, which he refused to do. But seeing he was with violence kept from doing good in that place, he returned towards London to visit the flock, of which he had there the charge.
On Saturday, the 14th of October, as he was coming nigh to the city of London, sir John Mordant, a councillor to queen Mary, did overtake him, and asked him, whither he went. “I have,” said Saunders, “a cure in London; and now I go to instruct my people according to my duty.” “If you will follow my counsel,” quoth master Mordant, “let them alone, and come not at them.” To this Saunders answered: “How shall I then be discharged before God, if any be sick, and desire consolation? if any want good counsel, and need instruction? or if any should slip into error, and receive false doctrine?” “Did you not,” quoth Mordant, “preach such a day (and named a day) in Bread — street, London?” “Yes verily,” said Saunders: “that same is my cure.” “I heard you myself,” quoth master Mordant; “and will you preach now there again?” “If it please you,” said Saunders, “to — morrow you may hear me again in that same place; where I will confirm, by the authority of God’s word, all that I said then, and whatsoever before that time I taught them.” “I would counsel you,” quoth the other, “not to preach.” “If you can and will forbid me by lawful authority, then must I obey,” said Saunders. “Nay,” quoth he, “I will not forbid you; but I do give you counsel.” And thus entered they both the city, and departed each from other. Master Mordant, of an uncharitable mind went to give warning to Bonner bishop of London, that Saunders would preach in his cure the next day. Saunders resorted to his lodging, with a mind bent to do his duty: where, because he seemed to be somewhat troubled, one who was there about him, asked him how he did. “In very deed,” saith he, “I am in prison, till I be in prison:” meaning that there his mind was unquiet until he had preached; and that he should have quietness of mind, though he were put in prison.
The next day, which was Sunday 306 in the forenoon, he made a sermon in his parish, entreating on that place which Paul writeth to the Corinthians: (1 Corinthians 11) “I have coupled you to one man, that ye should make yourselves a chaste virgin unto Christ. But I fear lest it come to pass, that as the serpent beguiled Eve, even so your wits should be corrupt from the singleness which ye had towards Christ.”
He recited a sum of that true christian doctrine, through which they were coupled to Christ, to receive of him free justification through faith in his blood. The papistical doctrine he compared to the serpent’s deceiving: and, lest they should be deceived by it, he made a comparison between the voice of God, and the voice of the popish serpent; descending to more particular declaration thereof, as it were to let them plainly see the difference that is between the order of the church service set forth by king Edward in the English tongue, and comparing it with the popish service then used in the Latin tongue, the first he said was good, because it was according to the word of God, (1 Corinthians 14) and the order of the primitive church. The other he said was evil, and though in that evil be intermingled some good Latin words; yet was it but as a little honey or milk mingled with a great deal of poison, to make them drink up all. This was the sum of his sermon. In the afternoon he was ready in his church to have given another exhortation to his people. But the bishop of London interrupted him, by sending an officer for him. This officer charged him, upon the pain of disobedience and contumacy, forthwith to come to the bishop his master. Thus, as the apostles were brought out of the temple, where they were teaching, unto the rulers of the priests; so was Laurence Saunders brought before this bishop in his palace of London, who had in his company the aforenamed sir John Mordant, and some of his chaplains.
The treason and sedition his charity was content to let slip, until another time; but a heretic he would now prove him, and all those, he said, who did teach and believe that the administration of the sacraments and all orders of the church are most pure, which do come most nigh to the order of the primitive church. For the church was then but in her infancy, and could not abide that perfection which was afterward to be furnished with ceremonies. And for this cause Christ himself, and after him the apostles, did in many things bear with the rudeness of that church. To this Lauence Saunders answered with the authority of St. Augustine — that ceremonies were, even from the beginning, invented and ordained for the rude infancy and weak infirmity of man; and therefore it was a token of the more perfection of the primitive church, that it had few ceremonies, and of the rudeness of the church papistical, because it had so many ceremonies, partly blasphemous, partly unsavoury and unprofitable.
After much talk had concerning this matter, the bishop willed him to write what he believed of transubstantiation. Laurence Saunders did so, saying, “My lord, ye do seek my blood, and ye shall have it. I pray God that ye may be so baptized in it, that ye may there, after loath blood — sucking, and become a better man.” This writing the bishop kept for his purpose — even to cut the writer’s throat; as shall appear hereafter. The bishop, when he had his will, sent Laurence Saunders to the lord chancellor, as Annas sent Christ to Caiaphas: and like favor found Saunders as Christ his master did before him. But the chancellor being not at home, Saunders was constrained to tarry for him by the space of four hours, in the outer chamber, where he found a chaplain of the bishop’s very merrily disposed, with certain gentlemen playing at the tables, with divers others of the same family or house occupied there in the same exercise.
All this time Saunders stood very modestly and soberly at the screen or cupboard bare — headed, sir John Mordant his guide or leader, walking up and down by him; who, as I said before, was then one of the council. At last the bishop returned from the court, whom, as soon as he was entered, a great many suiters met and received: so that before he could get out of one house into another, half an hour was passed. At last he came into the chamber where Saunders was, and went through into another chamber: where, in the mean way, Saunders’s leader gave him a writing, containing the cause, or rather the accusation, of the said Saunders; which when he had perused, “Where is the man?” said the bishop. Then Saunders, being brought forth to the place of examination, first most lowly and meekly kneeled down, and made courtesy before the table where the bishop did sit; unto whom the bishop spake on this wise: “How happeneth it,” said he, “that, notwithstanding the queen’s proclamation to the contrary, you have enterprised to preach?”
Saunders denied not that he did preach; saying, that forsomuch as he saw the perilous times now at hand, he did but according as he was admonished, and warned by Ezekiel the prophet — exhort his flock and parishioners to persevere and stand steadfastly in the doctrine which they had learned: saying also, that he was moved and pricked forward thereunto by the place of the apostle, wherein he was commanded rather to obey God than man; and moreover, that nothing more moved or stirred him thereunto, than his own conscience. “A goodly conscience surely,” said the bishop. “This your conscience could make our queen a bastard, or misbegotten: would it not, I pray you?”
Then said Saunders, “We,” said he, “do not declare or say, that the queen is base, or misbegotten, neither go about any such matter. But for that, let them care whose writings are yet in the hands of men, witnessing the same, not without the great reproach and shame of the author:” privily taunting the bishop himself, who had before (to get the favor of Henry the Eighth) written and set forth in print a book of “True Obedience,” wherein he had openly declared queen Mary to be a bastard. Now master Saunders, going forwards in his purpose, said, “We do only profess and teach the sincerity and purity of the word; the which, albeit it be now forbidden us to preach with our months, yet notwithstanding, I do not doubt, but that our blood hereafter shall manifest the same.” The bishop, being in this sort prettily nipped and touched, said, “Carry away this frenzy — fool to prison.” Unto whom master Saunders answered, that he did give God thanks, which had given him at last a place of rest and quietness, where he might pray for the bishop’s conversion.
Furthermore, he that did lie with him afterwards in prison, in the same bed, reported that he heard him say, that even in the time of his examination he was wonderfully comforted; insomuch as not only in spirit, but also in body, he received a certain taste of that holy communion of saints, whilst a most pleasant refreshing did issue from every part and member of the body unto the seat and place of the heart, and from thence did ebb and flow to and fro unto all the parts again.
This Saunders continued in prison a whole year and three months; in all which space he sent divers letters to divers men: as one to Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer; another to his wife, and also to others; certifying them both of the public calamity of the time, and also of his private afflictions, and of sundry his conflicts with his adversaries — as, in writing to his friend, he speaketh of Weston conferring with him in prison, whereof ye shall hear anon (by the leave of the Lord), as followeth in the story. In the mean time the chancellor, after this little talk with master Saunders (as is aforesaid), sent him to the prison of the Marshalsea, etc.
For the Caiaphas (Winchester, I mean) did nothing but bait him with some of his currish eloquence; and so committed him to the prison of the Marshalsea, where he was kept prisoner one whole year and a quarter. But of his cause and estate, thou shalt now see what Laurence Saunders himself did write.
A PARCEL OF A LETTER OF LAURENCE SAUNDERS, SENT TO THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, AS AN ANSWER TO CERTAIN THINGS WHEREWITH HE HAD BEFORE CHARGED HIM.
Touching the cause of my imprisonment, I doubt whether I have broken any law or proclamation. In my doctrine I did not, forasmuch as at that time it was permitted by the proclamation to use, according to our consciences, such service as was then established. My doctrine was then agreeable unto my conscience and the service then used. The act which I did 2 was such as, being indifferently weighed, sounded to no breaking of the proclamation or at the least no wilful breaking of it; forasmuch as I caused no bell to be rung, neither occupied I any place in the pulpit, after the order of sermons or lectures. But be it that I did break the proclamation, this long time of continuance in prison may be thought to be more than a sufficient punishment for such a fault.
Touching the charging of me with my religion, I say with St. Paul: (Acts 24) “This I confess, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my forefathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets, and have hope towards God,” etc.
And herein study I to have always a clear conscience towards God and towards men: so that (God I call to witness) I have a conscience. And this my conscience is not grounded upon vain fantasy, but upon the infallible verity of God’s word, with the witnessing of his chosen church agreeable unto the same.
It is an easy thing for them which take Christ for their true pastor, and he the very sheep of his pasture, to discern the voice of their true Shepherd, from the voice of wolves, hirelings, and strangers: forasmuch as Christ saith, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10) Yea, and thereby they shall have the gift to know the right voice of the true Shepherd, and so to follow him, and to avoid the contrary, as he also saith: “The sheep follow the shepherd, for they know his voice: a stranger they will not follow, but will fly from him; for they know not the voice of a stranger.” Such inward inspiration doth the Holy Ghost put into the children of God; being indeed taught of God, but otherwise unable to understand the true way of their salvation. And albeit that the wolf (as Christ saith) cometh in sheep’s clothing; yet he saith, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7) For there be certain fruits whereby the wolf is betrayed, notwithstanding that otherwise, in sundry sorts of devout holiness in outward show, he seemeth never so simple a sheep.
Thirdly , it spoileth God of his true worship and service in spirit and truth, appointed in his prescript commandments, and driveth men unto that inconvenience, against the which Christ, with the prophet Isaiah, doth speak sharply: “This people honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching the doctrine and precepts of men.” (Matthew 15) And in another place: “Ye cast aside the commandments of God, to maintain your own traditions.” (Matthew 25) Wherefore I, — in conscience weighing the Romish religion, and, by indifferent discussing thereof, finding the foundation unsteadfast, and the building thereupon but vain: and, on the other side, having my conscience framed after a right and uncorrupt religion, ratified and fully established by the word of God, and the consent of his true church, — I neither may, nor do intend, by God’s gracious assistance, to be pulled one jot from the same; no, though an angel out of heaven should preach another gospel than that which I have received of the Lord.
And although that for lack either of such deep knowledge and profound judgment, or of expedite uttering of that I do know and judge, as is required in an excellent clerk, I shall not be able sufficiently to answer, for the convincing of the gainsayer: yet nevertheless this my protestation shall be of me premised; that, for the respect of the grounds and causes before considered, albeit I cannot “explicita fide,” 4 as they call it, conceive all that is to be conceived, neither can discuss all that is to be discussed, nor can effectually express all that can be expressed, in the discourse of the doctrine of this most true religion, whereunto I am professed: yet do I bind myself, as by my humble simplicity, so by my “fidem implicitam;” 5 that is, by faith in generality (as they call it), to wrap my belief in the credit of the same, that no authority of that Romish religion repugnant thereunto, shall by any means remove me from the same, though it may hap that our adversaries will labor to beguile us with enticing words, and seek to spoil us through philosophy and deceitful vanity, after the traditions of men, and after the ordinances of he world, and not after Christ, etc.
And thus much of master Saunders’s letter, so much as remained thereof.
The residue, because it was rent away, I could not adjoin thereunto.
Notwithstanding, by this already expressed, it is sufficient to understand, how good was the cause and state of this blessed child of God, being prisoner for Christ’s cause. For the defense whereof he wholly bestowed and resigned himself, in such sort, as he forbade his wife to sue for his delivery; and, when others of his friends had by suit almost obtained it, he discouraged them, so that they did not follow their suit, as by his letter following may appear.
A LETTER OF MASTER SAUNDERS, TO HIS WIFE.
Grace, mercy, and peace in Christ our Lord: — Entirely beloved wife, even as unto mine own soul and body, so do I daily in my hearty prayer wish unto you; for I do daily, twice at the least, in this sort remember you. And I do not doubt, dear wife, but that both I and you, as we be written in the book of life, so we shall together enjoy the same everlastingly, through the grace and mercy of God our dear Father, in his Son our Christ. And for this present life, let us wholly appoint ourselves to the will of our good God, to glorify him either by life or by death; and even that same merciful Lord make us worthy to honor him either way as pleaseth him!
I am merry, I thank my God and my Christ, in whom and through whom I shall, I know, be able to fight a good fight, and finish a good course, and then receive the crown which is laid up in store for me (1 Timothy 4) and all the true soldiers of Christ. Wherefore, wife, let us, in the name of our God, fight lustily to overcome the flesh, the devil, and the world. What our harness and weapons be in this kind of fight, look in Ephesians 6; and pray, pray, pray. I would that you make no suit for me in any wise. Thank you know whom, for her most sweet and comfortable putting me in remembrance of my journey whither I am passing. God send us all good speed, and a joyful meeting. I have too few such friends to further me in that journey, which is indeed the greatest friendship.
This his constancy is sufficiently commended and declared by his valiant buckling with two mighty enemies, Antichrist and death. To neither of these did he give place; but, by suffering their malice, got the victory over them both. One of the conflicts which he had with Antichrist and his members, I have gathered out of a letter of his own handwriting. It was with Dr. Weston, a man, whom though I should praise, yet would all good and godly men worthily dispraise. Of this the said Laurence Saunders thus writeth in a letter which he sent to one of his friends, who wrote to him to know what Dr. Weston did at the Marshalsea: whereunto he thus answereth.
PART OF A LETTER OF MASTER SAUNDERS TO A FRIEND.
Master Weston came to confer with master Grimoald. 6 What he hath concluded with him I know not: I wish it may be to God’s glory, Amen, Amen. Master Weston of his gentleness visited me, and offered me friendship in his worldly wily sort, etc. I had not so much good manners, as to take it at his hand; for I said, that I was well enough, and ready cheerfully to abide the extremity, to keep thereby a good conscience. “Ye be asleep in sin,” said he. “I would awake,” quoth I, “and do not forget ‘Vigilate et orate,’ i.e.’ Watch and pray.’” “What church was there, thirty years past?” “What church was there, quoth I, “in Elias’s time?” “Joan of Kent,” said he, “was of your church.” “No,” quoth I; “we did condemn her as a heretic.” “Who was of your church,” said he, “thirty years past?” “Such,” quoth I, “as the Romish Antichrist, and his rabble, have reputed and condemned as heretics.” “Wickliffe,” said he, “Thorpe, Oldcastle,” etc· “Yea,” quoth I, “with many more, as stories do tell.” “The bishop of Rome hath,” said he, “long time played a part in your railing sermons: but, now, be ye sure, he must play another manner of part.” “The more pity,” quoth. I, “and yet some comfort it is to see how that the best learned, wisest, and holiest of you all, have heretofore had him to play a part likewise in your sermons and writings; 7 though now, to please the world, you do turn with the weathercock.” “Did you ever,” said he, “hear me preach against the bishop of Rome?” “No,” quoth I, “for I never heard you preach. But I trow you have been no wiser than others,” etc. — with more about the sacrament. Pray, pray. God keep your family, and bless it.
What a blessed taste this good man had of God’s holy Spirit, by divers and sundry his letters may right well appear to him that is disposed to peruse the same: whereof certain we have here thought good, the Lord willing, to express; first beginning with that which he wrote out of the Marshalsea to Drs. Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, * the very prophet of England 307 , then being* prisoners for the like cause of Christ in Oxford.
TO THE ARCHBISHOP CRANMER, BISHOP RIDLEY, AND MASTER LATIMER, BEING IMPRISONED IN OXFORD.
In my most humble wise I salute you, most reverend fathers in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Immortal thanks and everlasting praises be given unto that our Father of mercies, “which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of saints in light; which hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son; by whom we have sredemption through his blood,” (Colossians 1) etc.
O most happy estate! that, in an unspeakable wise, our life is hid with Christ in God: but whensoever Christ, which is our life, shall show himself, then shall we also appear with him in glory, (Colossians 3) In the mean season as our sight is but in a glass, (1 Corinthians 13) even in a dark speaking, so we walk in faith, not after outward appearance: the which faith, although, for want of outward appearance, reason reputeth but as vain, yet the chosen of God do know the effect thereof to bring a more substantial state and lively fruition of very felicity and perfect blessedness than reason can reach, or senses conceive. By this faith we have in our possession all good things, yea even them “which the eye hath not seen, and the ear hath not heard, neither hath entered the heart of man,” (1 Corinthians 2) etc.
We, heretofore, have had the fruition of you by bodily presence to our inexplicable benefit; praised be that our most gracious God there — for! And now in spirit we have the experience of unspeakable comfort by your reverend fatherhoods; for that in this so glorious sort ye become a town set upon a hill, a candle upon a candlestick (Matthew 5), a spectacle unto the world, both to the angels and unto men. So that, as we to our great comfort do feel, you also may assuredly say, with St. Paul, (2 Corinthians 4) that the things which happen unto us, do chance unto the great furtherance of the gospel; so that our bonds in Christ are manifest (Philippians 1) not only throughout all the judgment — hall, but in all whole Europe; insomuch that many of the brethren in the Lord, being encouraged through our bonds, dare more boldly speak the word without fear. And herein as you have with St. Paul greatly to rejoice, so we rejoice with you, and we do indeed, with you, give thanks for this excellent worthy favor of our God towards you, that Christ is thus magnified in you; yea, and hereafter shall be magnified in your bodies, whether it be through life or death: (Philippians 2) of which thing truly we are assured in our prayers for you, and ministering of the Spirit. And although, for your own parts, Christ is unto you in life and death advantage, and that your desire is (as indeed it were better for you) to be loosed and to be with Christ (Philippians 1) yet, for the church of Christ, were it much more necessary, that ye should abide in the flesh. Yea, that merciful God, even for his Christ’s sake, grant that ye may abide and continue for the furtherance of the church, and rejoicing of faith, that the rejoicing thereof may be the more abundant, through Christ, by your restoring! Amen, Amen.
But if it seem better otherwise, unto the Divine wisdom, that by speedy death he hath appointed you to glorify him, the Lord’s will be done. Yea, even as we do rejoice both on your behalfs, and also on our own, that God is magnified by life, and should be more abundantly glad for the continuance thereof; so we shall no less rejoice to have the same wrought by death. We shall give thanks for this honor given unto you, rejoicing that ye are accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and that “it is given to you of God, not only that ye should believe in him, but also that ye should suffer for his sake.” And herein we shall have to rejoice in the behalf of the church of Christ, whose faith may be the faster fixed upon God’s verity, being confirmed with three such worthy witnesses. O thanks be to God for this his unspeakable gift!
And now, most reverend fathers, that you may understand the truth of us and our estate, how we stand in the Lord, I do assure your reverences, partly by that I perceive by such of our brethren as be here in bonds with me, partly by that I hear of them which be in other places, and partly by that inward experience, which I, most unworthy, have of God’s good comfort (more abundance whereof I know there is in others), you may be assured, I say, by God’s grace, that you shall not be frustrate of your hope of our constant continuance in the cheerful confession of God’s everlasting verity. For even as we have received the word of truth, even the gospel of our salvation, wherein we, believing, are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, (Ephesians 1) (the which Spirit certifieth our spirit, that we are the children of God, and therefore God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba,” “Father,” (Romans 8)): so, after such portion as God measureth unto us, we, with the whole church of Christ, and with you reverend fathers, receiving the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written; “I believed, and therefore I have spoken;” (Galatians 4, 1 Corinthians 4, Psalm 116) we also believe, and therefore speak. For the which we, in this dangerous bondage and other afflictions, having even such a fight as we have seen in you, and have heard of you, are in no wise afraid of our adversaries. (Philippians 1) And forasmuch as we have such an office, even as God hath had mercy on us, we go not out of kind, but even with you, after our little power, we labor to maintain the faith of the gospel, knowing most certainly, that though “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of this power might be God’s, and not ours;” (2 Corinthians 4) yet shall we not be dashed in pieces, for the Lord will put his hand under us. When “we are troubled on every side, yet are we not without shift:” when “we are in poverty, we are not utterly without something:” when “we suffer persecution, we are not forsaken therein:” when “we are cast down, yet we shall not perish:” (2 Corinthians) but to communicate with our sweet Savior Christ in bearing the cross, it is appointed unto us, that even with him also we shall be glorified: For it is a true saying, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we be patient, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he shall also deny us.” (2 Timothy 2) Wherefore we be of good cheer, “always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might appear also in our body. For we know, that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by the means of Jesus, and shall join us to himself together with you. Wherefore we are not wearied; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our tribulation, which is momentary and light, prepareth an exceeding and eternal weight of glory unto us, while we look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen, are temporal but the things which are not seen, are eternal, (2 Corinthians 4) We testify unto you, reverend fathers, that we draw these matters with joy out of the wells of the Savior. And I trust we shall continually, with you, bless the Lord, and give thanks unto the Lord out of the wells of Israel. (Isaiah 12) We trust to be merry together at that great supper of the Lamb, whose spouse we are by faith, and there to sing that song of everlasting Hallelujah, Amen.
Another letter written to his wife, wherein is to be seen how this worthy warrior prepared himself even as it were against himself, 8 to the appointed fight, and to keep his standing in Christ’s camp.
A LETTER OF LAURENCE SAUNDERS TO HIS WIFE.
Fain would this flesh make strange of that which the spirit doth embrace. O Lord! how loth is this loitering sluggard to pass forth in God’s path! It phantasieth forsooth much fear of fray — bugs: and were it not for the force of faith which pulleth it forward by the rein of God’s most sweet promise, and of hope which pricketh on behind, great adventure there were of fainting by the way. But blessed, and everlastingly blessed, be that heavenly Father of ours, who, in his Christ, our sufficient Savior, hath vouchsafed so to shine in our hearts, that he giveth us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4) and having this treasure in our earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be God’s and not ours, “we are (according to his good will) troubled on every side, yet are we not without shift; we are in poverty, but vet not without that is sufficient; we suffer persecution, but are not forsaken therein; we are cast down, nevertheless we perish not; we bear in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might also appear in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4) Wherefore, by the grace of our Christ, we shall not be wearied, neither be dismayed by this our probation through the fire of affliction, as though some strange thing had happened unto us: but by his power we shall rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ’s passion, that when he doth appear, we may be merry and glad, knowing that “our tribulation, which is momentary and light, prepareth an exceeding and an eternal weight of glory unto us, while we look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen.” (2 Corinthians 4) “They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.” “For he that goeth on his way weeping, and scattering his good seed, shall doubtless come again with joy, and bring his whole sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126) Then, then, shall the Lord wipe away all tears from our eyes. Then, then, shall be brought to pass that saying which is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory? Yea, thanks be to God, which hath given us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.” (1 Corinthians 15) In the mean season it remaineth for us to follow St. Peter’s bidding: “Let them,” saith he, “that are troubled according to the will of God, commit their souls to him with well doing, as a faithful Creator and Maker.” (1 Peter 4) He is our Maker; we are his handiwork and creatures, whom now, when he hath made, he doth not leave and forsake, as the shipwright doth the ship; leaving it at all adventures to be tossed in the tempest; but he comforteth us his creatures. And in him we live, move, and have our being. (Acts 17) Yea, not only that, but now that he hath in his dear Christ repaired us, being before utterly decayed, and redeemed us, purging us unto himself as a peculiar people by the blood of his Son, he hath put on a most tender goodwill and fatherly affection towards us, never to forget us: unto whom by such promises he hath plighted such faith, that though it were possible that the mother could forget her infant, and not be tender — hearted to the child of her womb, yet may not it be, that his faithful believers should be forgotten of him. (1 Peter 9) He biddeth us to cast our care on him, and saith, that assuredly he careth for us. (Isaiah 49) And what though for a season he doth suffer us to be turmoiled in the troublous tempests of temptation, and seemeth, as in much anger, to have given us over and forgotten us? Let not us, for all that, leave off to put our trust in him; but let us with godly Job conclude in ourselves and say, “Even though he kill me, yet will I put my trust in him.” (Job 13) Let us, with the blessed Abraham, in hope, even contrary to hope, by belief lean unto that our loving Lord, who, though for our probation he suffereth us to be afflicted, yet “will he not be always chiding, neither keepeth he his anger for ever: for he knoweth whereof we be made; he remembereth that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103) Wherefore, look how high the heaven is in comparison of the earth: so great is his mercy towards them which fear him. Look how wide the east is from the west: so far hath he set our sins from us. Yea, like as a father pitieth his own children, even so is the Lord merciful unto them that fear him.” Oh! what great cause of rejoicing have we in our most gracious God. We cannot but burst forth in the praising of such a bountiful benefactor, and say with the same Psalmsist, “Praise the Lord, O my soul! and all that is within me praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul! and forget not all his benefits.”
Dear wife, riches I have none to leave behind me, wherewith to endow you after the worldly manner: but that treasure of tasting how sweet Christ is unto hungry consciences (whereof, I thank my Christ, I do feel part, and would feel more), that I bequeath unto you, and to the rest of my beloved in Christ, to retain the same in sense of heart always. Pray, pray. I am merry, and I trust I shall be merry, maugre the teeth of all the devils in hell. I utterly refuse myself, and resign myself unto my Christ, in whom I know I shall be strong, as he seeth needful. Pray, pray, pray! Laurence Saunders *He 9 wrote many other letters, full of godly instruction and consolation, which cannot all in such large sort be added, as I have done these; therefore thou shalt now, good reader, be content with some such short things as are gathered out of his writings. Being in prison he was, to his fellow — prisoners, a profitable prisoner, to whom, as he faithfully disposed the bread of life, so left he record thereof in this English metre following.
LAURENCE SAUNDERS TO HIS FELLOW-PRISONERS IN THE PRISON OF THE MARSHALSEA. The grace of God declared is, in Christ, his Son most dear, And teacheth us, in holiness, to live in his true fear; Whoso then, in that heavenly birth, a child is rightly born, His Father’s will he followeth, and thereunto is sworn.
All ye, therefore, which in this place in strait bondage now be, Be servants unto righteousness, from sin be loose and free; Be mindful of all duty, due unto the Lord above, Be thankful for his benefits, the pledges of his love.
OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS, THE TRUE TASTE WHEREOF HE LEARNED AND FELT EVEN IN PRISON, THUS HE WROTE IN A LETTER WHICH HE SENT TO A GENTLEWOMAN: [A Letter of Laurence Saunders on the Communion of Saints.] Herein [speaking of such friendship as she shewed unto him] do I take occasion of much rejoicing in our gracious God and heavenly Father; who, as he hath in his unmeasurable mercies by faith handfasted us his chosen children unto his dear Son our Christ, as the spiritual espouses of such an heavenly husband, so he linketh us by love one to another; being by that bond compact together, with such charitable readiness to do good one to another, that, first, to the glory of God and his Christ; then, to our own joying in the testimony of a good conscience; last of all, to the stopping of the mouths and confounding of our adversaries, we bear that badge, as the right espouse of Christ, which he himself noteth in this saying, Herein shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.” (John 13) Then, further, by this bond of mutual love is set forth the fatherly providence of God towards us his children; that, though it be he that careth for us, in whom we live, move, and be (Acts 17) who feedeth all flesh with bodily sustenance, yet hath he appointed us, in these present necessities, to stand in his stead one unto another; wherein is not only set forth our dignity, but also that unspeakable accord and unity among us, the many members in this mystical body. And though that, either for lack of ability, or else for distance of place, power, and opportunity of present helping one another by bodily presence do fail, yet wonderful is the working of God’s children through the Spirit of prayer, as whereby they fetch all heavenly influence from Christ their celestial head, by his Spirit to be measured severally as may serve to the maintenance of the whole body. Thus doth our faithful prayer one for another, scatter God’s bountiful blessings, both ghostly and bodily, when ordinary ability lacketh, and the arm cannot reach such God’s riches, etc.
IN ANOTHER LETTER THUS HE WRITETH OF TRUE TASTE OF GOD’S LOVE BY FAITH; WITH THE FRUITS THEREOF.
The love of our most gracious God and heavenly Father, bestowed upon us in the merits of his Christ our Savior, who may by conceit of mind comprehend? passing indeed all understanding! Much less can the same by any means be expressly uttered. And, as such heavenly blessings which by faith we fetch from above, be inexplicable, so, hard it is to utter (when the faithful are set on fire by love) their readiness to reach forth by charity, to scatter and give, as by faith they have received. But, alas, “we carry this treasure in earthly vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Many times faith is feeble, and love loseth her fervor: pray we, therefore, “Lord, increase our faith,” and love forthwith will be on fire. And immortal thanks be given unto our God, who, in our Christ, hath bestowed upon us the first fruits of his Spirit, which crieth in our hearts, “Abba,” “Father.” (Romans 8:5) And, as St. Paul saith, “Seeing we have the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed and therefore have I spoken, we also believe and therefore we speak;” (2 Corinthians 4:13) yea, God knoweth, this Spirit putteth us in mind to speak, but in attempting thereof we are driven to say with Moses, “O Lord! I am slow — mouthed;” (Exodus 4:10) and with Jeremiah, “O Lord! I cannot speak,” (Jeremiah 1:6) etc.
In this letter he doth, with most tender affection, commend his wife and child to the christian care of that same his dear friend to whom he did write; which doth declare, that, as he had learned to forsake both wife, child, and life, for Christ’s sake, so did he therewith retain that godly care over them which becometh a true Christian.
This affection is most lively set forth in another letter, which he did write to his wife; in which (after he had admonished her that she should not resort much to the prison where he was, for danger of trouble that might ensue), he saith:
LAURENCE SAUNDERS TO HIS WIFE.
You shall, I think, shortly come far enough into danger, by keeping of faith and a good conscience; which, dear wife, I trust you do not slack to make reckoning and account upon, by exercising your inward man in the meditation of God’s most holy word, which is the sustenance of the soul; and also by going yourself to humble prayer: for these two things be the very means by which the members of Christ are made daily more meet to inherit his kingdom. Wherefore do this, dear wife, in earnest, without leaving off, and so shall we two, with our Christ and all his chosen children, enjoy the merry world in that everlasting immortality; whereas, here, will nothing else be found but extreme misery, even of them which most greedily seek this worldly wealth; and so, if we two continue God’s children grafted into our Christ, the same God’s blessing which we receive shall also settle upon our Samuel.
Though we do shortly depart hence, and leave the poor infant (as it seemeth) at all adventures, yet shall he have our gracious God to be his God: for so hath He said which cannot lie. “I will be thy God and the God of thy seed.” Yea, if you being called of God to do his will, either to die for the confession of Christ, either to do any work of obedience, should be compelled to leave him in the wild wilderness, destitute of all help, that God which heard the cry of that poor little infant of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, and did succor it, will do the like to this our child, and to the child of any other which feareth God and putteth his trust in him. If we lack faith to believe this (as many times we do indeed), let us call for it, and we shall have both the increase of it, and of any other good grace needful for us. Be merry in God, dear wife, for I am very merry. Oh Lord! what great cause have we of rejoicing, when we think upon that kingdom which God vouchsafeth, for his Christ’s sake, freely to give unto us, forsaking ourselves and following him. Dear wife, this is truly to follow him, even to “take up our cross and follow him.”
To the commendation of a true fatherly affection doth this also make not a little.* As the said master Saunders was in prison, strait charge was given to the keeper that no person should speak with him. His wife yet came to the prison gate with her young child in her arms, to visit her husband. The keeper, though for his charge he durst not suffer her to come into the prison, yet did he take the little babe out of her arms, and brought him unto his father. Laurence Saunders seeing him, rejoiced greatly, saying, that he rejoiced more to have such a boy, than he should if two thousand pounds were given him. And unto the standers — by, which praised the goodliness of the child, he said, “What man, fearing God, would not lose this life present, rather than by prolonging it here, he should adjudge this boy to be a bastard, his wife a whore, and himself a whoremonger? Yea, if there were no other cause, for which a man of my estate should lose his life, yet who would not give it, to * advow 308 * this child to be legitimate, and his marriage to be lawful and holy?”
I do, good reader, recite this saying, not only to let thee see what be thought of priests’ marriage; but chiefly to let all married couples and parents learn to bear in their bosom true affections — natural, but yet seasoned with the true salt of the Spirit — unfeignedly and thoroughly mortified to do the natural works and offices of married couples and parents, so long as with their doing they may keep Christ with a free confessing faith in a conscience unsoiled. Otherwise, both they and their own lives are so to be forsaken, as Christ required them to be denied, and given in his cause.
And now to come to the examination of this good man: after that the bishops had kept him one whole year and a quarter in prison, at length they called him, as they did the rest of his fellows, openly to be examined.
Of the which his first examination the effect and purport thus followeth.
THE FIRST EXAMINATION OF LAURENCE SAUNDERS.
Being convented before the queen’s most honorable council, sundry bishops being present, the lord chancellor began to speak in such form as followeth: Lord Chancellor: — “It is not unknown, that you have been a prisoner for such abominable heresies and false doctrine as hath been sown by you; and now it is thought good that mercy be showed to such as seek for it. Wherefore if’ now you will show yourself conformable, and come home again, mercy is ready. We must say, that we have fallen in manner all; but now we be risen again, and returned to the catholic church: you must rise with us, and come home unto it. — Give us forthwith a direct answer.” Saunders: — “My lord, and my lords all, may it please your honors to give me leave to answer with deliberation.” L. Chan.: — “Leave off your painting and pride of speech: for such is the fashion of you all, to please yourselves in your glorious words.
Answer yea, or nay. Saunders: — “My lord, it is no time for me now to paint: and as for pride, there is no great cause why it should be in me. My learning, I confess, to be but small; and as for riches or worldly wealth I have none at all. Notwithstanding, it standeth me in hand to answer to your demand circumspectly, considering that one of these two extreme perils is like to fall upon me: the losing of a good conscience, or the losing of this my body and life. And I tell you truth, I love both life and liberty, if I could enjoy them without the hurt of my conscience.” L. Chan.: — “Conscience! You have none at all, but pride and arrogancy, dividing 10 yourselves by singularity from the church.” Saunders: — “The Lord is the knower of all men’s consciences. And whereas your lordship layeth to my charge this dividing myself from the church 11 (as you do mean, and is now among you concluded upon, and I do understand), I do assure you, that I live in the faith wherein I have been brought up since I was fourteen years old: being taught that the power of the bishop of Rome is but usurped, with many other abuses springing thereof. Yea, this I have received even at your hands that are here present, as a thing agreed upon by the catholic church and public authority.” L. Chan.: — “Yea marry; but, I pray you, have you received by consent and authority 12 all your heresies of the blessed sacrament of the altar?” Saunders: — “My lord, it is less offense to cut off an arm, hand, or joint of a man, than to cut off the head: for the man may live, though he do lack an arm, hand, or joint; and so he cannot without his head. But you, all the whole sort of you, have agreed to cut off the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, whom now you will have to be the head of your church again.” Bishop of London: — “And if it like your lordship, I have his hand against the blessed sacrament. How say you to that?” Saunders: — “What I have written, that I have written; and further I will not accuse myself. Nothing have you to burden me withal, for breaking of your laws since they were in force.” L. Chan.: — “Well, you be obstinate, and refuse liberty.” Saunders: — “My lord, I may not buy liberty at such a price: but I beseech your honors to be means to the queen’s majesty for such a pardon for us, that we may live and keep our consciences unclogged, and we shall live as most obedient subjects. Otherwise, I must say for myself, that by God’s grace I will abide the most extremity that man may do against me, rather than to do against my conscience.” L. Chan.: — “Ah sirrah! you will live as you list. The Donatists did desire to live in singularity; but indeed they were not meet to live on earth. — No more be you, and that shall you understand within these seven days; and therefore away with him!”
Saunders: — “Welcome be it, whatsoever the will of God shall be, either life or death. And I tell you truly, I have learned to die. But I exhort you to beware of shedding of innocent blood. Truly it will cry.
This examination being ended, the officers led him out of the Place, and so stayed until the rest of his fellows were likewise handled, that they might have them altogether to prison. Laurence Saunders, standing among the officers, seeing there a great multitude of people, opened his mouth and spake freely, warning them all of that, which, by their falling from Christ to Antichrist, they did deserve; and therefore exhorting them by repentance to rise again, and to embrace Christ with stronger faith, to confess him to the end, in the defiance of Antichrist, sin, death, and the devil: so should they retain the Lord’s favor and blessing.
The copies of his other examination and excommunication came to the hands of such as do keep them still in secret: but in them, as he defended Christ’s cause stoutly, so warned he the pharisaical bishops and papists of their hypocrisy and tyranny freely, and cleared himself of their unjust quarrellings truly. After he was excommunicate and delivered to the secular power, he was brought by the sheriff of London to the prison called the Compter, in his own parish in Bread — street; whereat he rejoiced greatly, both because he found there a fellow — prisoner, master Cardmaker, with whom he had christian and comfortable conference, and also because out of prison, as before out of a pulpit, he might preach to his parishioners; as by his letter hereafter shall be declared.
The day following in the morning, the sheriff of London delivered him to certain of the queen’s guard, which were appointed to carry him to the city of Coventry, there to be burned. The first night they came to St. Alban’s, where master Grimoald (a man who had more store of good gifts than of great constancy) did speak with him.
After master Saunders had given him a lesson meet for his lightness, he took a cup in his hand, and asked him if he would pledge him of that cup, of which he would begin to him. Grimoald, by his shrugging and shrinking showing what he was, said, “Of that cup which is in your hand, I will pledge you: but of that other which you mean, I will not promise you.” “Well,” said master Saunders, “my dear Lord Jesus Christ hath begun to me 14 of a more bitter cup than mine shall be; and shall I not pledge my most sweet Savior? Yes, I hope.”
After they were come to Coventry, the same night a poor shoemaker, which was wont to serve him of shoes, came to him after this manner, and said, “O my good master! God strengthen and comfort you.” “Gramercies good shoemaker,” quoth master Saunders, “and I pray thee to pray for me; for I am the unmeetest man for this high office, that ever was appointed to it: but my gracious God and dear Father is able to make me strong enough.”
The next day, which was the 8th of February, he was led to the place of execution in the park without the city, going in an old gown and a shirt, bare — footed, and ofttimes fell flat on the ground, and prayed. When he was come nigh to the place, the officer appointed to see the execution done, said to master Saunders, that he was one of them which marred the queen’s realm, 15 with false doctrine and heresy, “wherefore thou hast deserved death,” quoth he; “but yet, if thou wilt revoke thine heresies, the queen hath pardoned thee: if not, yonder fire is prepared for thee.” To whom master Saunders answered, “It is not I, nor my fellow — preachers of God’s truth, that have hurt the queen’s realm, but it is yourself, and such as you are, which have always resisted God’s holy word; it is you which have and do mar the queen’s realm. I do hold no heresies; but the doctrine of God, the blessed gospel of Christ, that hold I; that believe I; that have I taught; and that will I never revoke.” With that, this tormentor cried, “Away with him.” And away from him went master Saunders with a merry courage towards the fire. He fell to the ground, and prayed: he rose up again, and took the stake to which he should be chained, in his arms, and kissed it, saying, “Welcome the cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life!” and being fastened to the stake, and fire put to him, full sweetly he slept in the Lord.
And thus have ye the full history of Laurence Saunders, whom I may well compare to St. Laurence, or any other of the old martyrs of Christ’s church; both for the fervent zeal of the truth and gospel of Christ, and the most constant patience in his suffering, as also for the cruel torments that he, in his patient body, did sustain in the flame of fire. For so his cruel enemies handled him, that they burned him with green wood, and other smothering, rather than burning fuel, which put him to much more pain, but that the grace and most plentiful consolation of Christ, who never forsaketh his servants, and gave strength to St. Laurence, gave also patience to this Laurence, above all that his torments could work against; which well appeared by his quiet standing, and sweet sleeping in the fire, as is above declared.
And to the intent to give the reader to understand the better, what the grace of Christ worketh in his servants; and again, how feeble and weak man is of himself without this grace given from above, though he seem otherwise never so stout in himself: here, therefore, have we added to the aforesaid story of Laurence Saunders, the communication which in the beginning of his trouble was between him and Dr. Pendleton, by the example whereof, such as stand, may learn to understand to take heed with due fear, and not to brag; to lean to the grace of the Lord, and not to presume in themselves.
A CERTAIN COMMUNICATION BETWEEN LAURENCE SAUNDERS AND DR. PENDLETON, IN THE BEGINNING OF QUEEN MARY’S TIME.
At the change of religion in this realm, and the beginning of queen Mary’s reign, Dr. Pendleton and master Saunders, men known to the world, not only to be learned, but also earnest preachers of God’s word in the time of blessed king Edward, met together in the country, where, by occasion, they were at that time, and, as the case required (by reason of the persecution that was then at hand), fell to debate what was best for them to do in so dangerous a season. Whereupon master Saunders, whether through very frailty of his weak flesh that was loth to taste the bitter cup, though his spirit were ready thereunto; or whether it were upon the mistrust of his own strength, that he might receive the greater power from above; or whether it were not for any one of the said causes alone, but for both together, or such like; seemed so fearful and feeble spirited, that he showed himself in appearance, like either to fall quite from God and his word, which he had taught, or at least to betake him to his heels, and to fly the land, rather than to stick to his profession, and abide by his tackle: so as Dr. Pendleton (who on the contrary side appeared not so big of body, but as bold in courage; nor so earnest before in pulpit, but as ready now to seal the same with his blood) took upon him to comfort master Saunders all that he might; admonishing him, as he could do it very well, not to forsake cowardly his flock when he had most need to defend them from the wolf; neither, having put his hand to God’s plough, to start, now aside and give it over; nor yet (that is worst of all), having once forsaken Antichrist, to fall either himself, or suffer others, by his example, to return to their vomit again.
After which and such like persuasions bidding him be of good comfort, and to take a good heart unto him, “What, man!” quoth he, “there is a great deal more cause in me to be afraid than in you; forasmuch as you see, I carry a greater mass of flesh upon my back than you do, and being so laden with a heavier lump of this vile carcase, ought therefore of nature to be more frail than you: and yet,” said he, “I will see the uttermost drop of this grease of mine molten away, and the last gobbet of this pampered flesh consumed to ashes, before I will forsake God and his truth.”
Whereunto the other, answering but little, and wishing that Almighty God would give him more strength than he presently felt in himself, acknowledging his own weakness, consented notwithstanding, though it were somewhat faintly, to join with him in the profession of the gospel, and so to go up to London, and set forth the same: whereupon they gave each other their hands.
Now when they were come to London, oh, what a great change was there between these two persons! The poor, feeble, fainthearted Saunders, by the goodness of Almighty God taking heart of grace to him, seeking the same in humility, boldly and stoutly confirmed his flock out of the pulpit, where his charge lay, mightily beating down Antichrist, and lustily preaching Christ his master; for the which he afterward suffered most willingly, as is before declared. Whereas on the other side, Pendleton the proud (who, as it appeared by the sequel, had been more stout in words than constant in deeds, and a greater bragger than a good warrior) followed Peter so justly in cracks, howsoever he did in repentance (which God only knoweth), that he came not so soon to London but he changed his tippet, and played the “apostata;” preaching, instead of sound doctrine, nothing almost but errors and lies, advancing Antichrist, and overthrowing poor Christ with all his mainy 310 16 : so his former boldness came to nothing, unless it were a contrary key, becoming of a faithful pastor a false runagate, and of a true preacher a sworn enemy to God’s everlasting testament; to the great offense of his brethren, the hurt of his flock, and the utter undoing, without God’s greater mercy, of his own soul. Wherein are specially to be considered the deep and marvellous judgments of God, who, as he can and doth make strong whom it pleaseth him, when he seeth his time, and most commonly such as appear most feeble: even so, contrariwise, throweth he down others, seem they never so stout, stand they never so much in their own conceits. Wherefore, let him that standeth take heed he fall not; and let us pray continually to Almighty God, though we have faith, that he will help and increase our faith, that in him it may be made strong, which of itself is so weak, that it is soon overthrown.
This blessed man of God, enduring long time in prison, did not pass all this time in unfruitful idleness, but still, from time to time, did visit his friends (as is said), and especially his wife, with many letters full of godly instruction and consolation. All which letters it shall not be greatly needful here to insert; partly, because they are to be found in “The Book of Letters,” 17 partly, because we intend also (if God will) to prosecute the same hereafter more at large· In the mean time it shall not be out of place here presently to comprehend certain of them, as in order followeth.
A LETTER SENT TO MASTER FERRAR BISHOP OF ST. DAVID’S, DOCTOR TAYLOR, MASTER BRADFORD, AND MASTER PHILPOT.
Grace, mercy, and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord, etc. Good fathers, and dear brethren, be thankful unto our most gracious God, which hath preserved us, and shall, I doubt not, from blaspheming his blessed name: yea, not only that, but also, 18 Out of the mouths of very babes and sucklings, shall be set forth his praise.” They offer us, forsooth, our liberty and pardon, so that we will rise with them into that faith, which we with them were fallen from. Yea, or no, must be answered in haste. They will not admit any needful circumstances, but all (as heretofore) most detestable and abominable. Rise with them we must unto the unity. A pardon, say I, of me must not so dearly be purchased. A pardon I desire, to live with an unclogged conscience. “The Donatists,” say they, “sought for such singularity; but they were not meet to live in a commonwealth — no more be you, as you shall shortly understand. Wherefore away with him.” (Yea the time was named — within this sevennight.) “There be twelve hours in the day. (John 11) Death shall be welcome,” said I, “as being looked for long since: and yet do justice ye were best; for Abel’s blood cried, ye wot what. The Spirit of God be upon you, and God save your honors” Thus departed I from them. Pray, pray. Ah, ah! “Puer sum, nescio loqui;” i.e. “I am a child, I cannot speak.” My brother P. shall show you more herein. By him send me word what you have done. Fare ye well, and pray, pray. I would gladly meet with my good brother Bradford on the backside, about eleven of the clock. Before that time I cannot start out, we have such out — walkers; but then will they be at dinner.
Yours, as you know, Laurence Saunders.
A LETTER WHICH LAURENCE SAUNDERS DID WRITE TO HIS WIFE And others of the faithful Flock, after his Condemnation to the Fire; written the last of January, A.D. 1555, out of the Compter in Bread — street.
Oh! what worthy thanks can be given to our gracious God for his unmeasurable mercies plentifully poured upon us? And I, most unworthy wretch, cannot but pour forth at this present, even from the bottom of my heart, the bewailing of my great ingratitude and unkindness towards so gracious and good a God and loving Father.
To number these mercies in particular, were to number the drops of water which are in the sea, the sands on the shore, the stars in the sky. O my dear wife, and ye the rest of my friends, rejoice with me, I say, rejoice with thanksgiving, for this my present promotion, in that I am made worthy to magnify my God, not only in my life, by my slow mouth and uncircumcised lips, bearing witness unto his truth, but also by my blood to seal the same, to the glory of my God, and confirming of his true church: and as yet I testify unto you, that the comfort of my sweet Christ doth drive from my fantasy the fear of death. But if my dear husband Christ doth, for my trial, leave me alone a little to myself, alas, I know in what case I shall be then: but if, for my proof, he do so, yet I am sure he will not be long or far from me. Though he stand behind the wall, and hide himself (as Solomon saith in his mystical ballet), (Canticles 2) yet will he peep in by a creast to see how I do. He is a very tender — hearted Joseph. Though he speak roughly to his brethren, and handle them hardly; yea, threaten grievous bondage to his best beloved brother Benjamin, yet can he not contain himself from weeping with us and upon us, with falling on our necks, and sweetly kissing us. Such, such a brother is our Christ unto us all.
Wherefore hasten to go unto him, as Jacob did with his sons and family, leaving their country and acquaintance. Yea, this our Joseph hath obtained for us, that Pharaoh the infidel shall minister unto us chariots, wherein at ease we may be carried, to come unto him; as we have experience how our very adversaries do help us unto our everlasting bliss by their speedy despatch, yea, and how all things have been helpings hereunto, blessed be our God! Be not afraid of fray — bugs 19 which lie in the way. Fear rather the everlasting fire: fear the serpent which hath that deadly sting, of which by bodily death they shall be brought to taste, which are not grafted in Christ, wanting faith and a good conscience; and so are not acquainted with Christ the killer of death. But oh, my dear wife and friends! we, we whom God hath delivered from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, by putting off the old man, and by faith putting on the new, even our Lord Jesus Christ, his wisdom, holiness, righteousness, and redemption; we, I say, have to triumph against the terrible spiteful serpent the devil, sin, hell, death, and damnation. For Christ, our brazen serpent, hath pulled away the sting of this serpent, so that now we may boldly, in beholding it spoiled of its sting, triumph; and with our Christ, and all his elect, say, “Death, where is thy sting? Hell, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who hath given (us) the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15) Wherefore be merry, my dear wife, and all my clear fellow — heirs of the everlasting kingdom, always remember the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, continue in prayer; and pray for us now appointed to the slaughter, that we may be unto our heavenly Father a fat offering, and an acceptable sacrifice. I may hardly write to you: wherefore let these few words be a witness of my commendations to you and all them which love us in the faith; and namely, unto my flock,20 among whom I am resident, by God’s providence, but as a prisoner.
And although I am not so among them, as I have been, to preach to them out of a pulpit, yet doth God now preach unto them by me, by this my imprisonment and captivity which now I suffer among them for Christ’s gospel’s sake; bidding them to beware of the Romish antichristian religion and kingdom; requiring and charging them to abide in the truth of Christ, which is shortly to be sealed with the blood of their pastor, who, though he be unworthy of such a ministry, yet Christ their high Pastor is to be regarded, whose truth hath been taught them by me, is witnessed by my chains, and shall be by my death, through the power of that high Pastor, *who 21 thus feedeth them by me. Give to mistress G. understanding of these my commendations, who will I know salute all the rest in my name with them.* Be not careful, good wife; cast your care upon the Lord, and commend me unto him in repentant prayer, as I do you and our Samuel: whom, even at the stake, I will offer as myself unto God.
ANOTHER LETTER TO MRS. LUCY HARRINGTON, A GODLY GENTLEWOMAN, AND FRIENDLY TO HIM IN HIS TROUBLES.
Your most gentle commendations, whereof this messenger made remembrance unto me, was for two causes very comfortable: first, for that hereby I understood of the state of your health and bodily welfare, for the which I give thanks unto God, who grant the long continuance thereof to his honor and fatherly good will; whereunto I will daily say, Amen! And further, I was refreshed by the expressing of your mindful friendship towards me far unworthy thereof. Wherein I take occasion of much rejoicing in our so gracious a God and merciful Father, who, as he hath in his immeasurable mercy, by faith, hand — fasted us his chosen children unto his dear Son our Christ, as the spiritual spouse of such a heavenly husband; so he linketh us by love one unto another, being by that bond compact together with charitable readiness to do good one to another: so that first to the glory of our God and his Christ, then to our own joining in the testimony of a good conscience, and, last of all, to the stopping of the mouths and confusion of our adversaries, we bear the badge, as the right spouse of our Christ, which he himself noted in this saying: “Herein shall all men know that ye be my disciples, if ye love one another.” (John 13) Then further, by this bond of mutual love is set forth the fatherly providence of God towards us his children; that though it be he that careth for us — in whom we live, move, and be — who feedeth all flesh with bodily sustenance — yet hath he appointed us, in these present necessities, to stand in his stead one unto another. Wherein is not only set forth our dignity, but also that unspeakable accord and unity among us, the many members of his mystical body. And though that either for lack of ability, or else through distance of place, power and opportunity of helping one another do fail: yet wonderful is the working of God’s children through the Spirit of prayer, as whereby they fetch all heavenly influence from Christ their celestial head by his Spirit, to be measured severally, as may serve to the maintenance of the whole body. (John 15) Thus doth our faithful prayer, which we make one for another, distribute and scatter God’s bountiful blessings, both ghostly and bodily, when ordinary ability lacketh, and when the arm may not reach forth such God’s riches. According hereunto I well perceive and understand your readiness to do good unto all; and especially I have experience of your ready good — will towards me, in your hearty desire to stretch out your helping hand to relieve my lack: and of your help to be extended to me in the other spiritual sort, by your good prayer, I doubt not; as I also therein assure you of my help, being all that I may do, and yet the same not so much as I would do.
My need concerning bodily necessaries is as yet furnished by God’s provision, so that I am not driven to any extremity, wherefore to be burdenous to you, as your gentle benevolence provoketh me: the Lord reward you there — for! If God make me worthy to be his witness at this present, in giving this corruptible body to burn for the testimony of his truth, it is enough for me to say to you, that I have a poor wife and child, whom I love in the Lord, and whom I know, for my sake, you will tender when I am departed hence, etc.
ANOTHER LETTER TO MISTRESS LUCY HARRINGTON.
Grace and mercy, etc. It happeneth oftentimes that abundance of matter, bringing with it much vehemency of friendly affection, maketh men dumb; and even then chiefly, when there is most eager purpose of speaking, silence doth suppress, and causeth the party so affected imperfectly to express, that he goeth about to utter.
Such impediment by much matter, mingled with fervency of affection, feel I sometimes in myself, letting the utterance, either by tongue or writing, of the abundance of the heart. The love of our most gracious God and heavenly Father, bestowed upon us in the merits of Christ our Savior, who may, by conceit of mind, comprehend? passing indeed all understanding! much less may the same by any means be expressly uttered. And as such heavenly blessings, which by faith we fetch from above, be inexplicable, so is it hard to utter, when the faithful are set on fire by love, their readiness to reach forth and to give by charity, as by faith they have received. But (alas!) we carry this treasure in earthen vessels. (2 Corinthians 4) Many times faith is feeble, and then love loseth her fervor. Pray we therefore, “Lord increase our faith,” and love forthwith will be on fire. And immortal thanks be given unto our God, who in our Christ hath bestowed upon us the first — fruits of his Spirit, who crieth in our hearts, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8) And (as St. Paul saith) “Seeing we have the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written; I believed, and therefore I have spoken: we also believe, and therefore we speak.” (2 Corinthians 4) Yea, God knoweth, this Spirit putteth in us a mind to speak; but in attempting thereof we are driven with Moses to say, “O Lord! I am slow — mouthed, and of uncircumcised lips:” (Exodus 8) and with Jeremiah, “O Lord, I cannot speak.” (Jeremiah 1) Albeit that this infancy restraineth the opening of such abundance of heart in my tender christian duty to be declared towards you, yet I beseech you, let this be settled in your understanding; that, as St. Paul expresseth unto his Corinthians, that they were in his heart either to live or to die, with many other such sayings uttered unto them and the Galatians, expressing his vehement affection towards them: so, in some part, I would be like affected towards all God’s children, and especially towards you whom I know in Christ, and to whom I will not say how much I am indebted. I thank you for your great friendship and tender good — will towards my wife: yea, that good gracious God recompense you, which may worthily with the more countervail 22 the same, and fulfill that which lacketh of thankful duty in us. And because of that which heretofore I have conceived of you, and of your more than natural love towards me and mine; I make myself thus bold to lay this burden upon you, even the care and charge of my said poor wife; I mean, to be unto her a mother and mistress, to rule and direct her by your discreet council. I know she conceiveth of you the same that I do, and is thankful unto God with me for such a friend; and therefore I beseech you even for Christ’s sake, put never from you this friendly charge over her, whether I live longer, or shortly depart.
But to charge you otherwise, thanks be to God, neither I, neither she, have any such extreme need: if we had, I would be as bold with you as with mine own mother. I beseech you give my hearty salutations unto master Fitz — Williams, and my good lady; with thanks also for my poor wife and child. The Lord recompense them! Laurence Saunders.
Furthermore, as touching his fatherly care and affection to his wife and his little child, the same is lively set forth in another letter which he did write to his wife; wherein he admonished her that she would not resort much to the prison where he was, for danger of trouble that might ensue; the tenor of whose letter here followeth.
ANOTHER LETTER TO HIS WIFE, WITH A CERTAIN REMEMBRANCE TO MASTER HARRINGTON AND MASTER HURLAND.
Grace and comfort, etc. — Wife, you shall do best not to come often unto the grate where the porter may see you. Put not yourself in danger where it needs not. You shall, I think, shortly come far enough into danger by keeping faith and a good conscience; which, dear wife, I trust you do not slack to make reckoning and account upon, by exercising your inward man in meditation of God’s most holy word, being the sustenance of the soul, and also by giving yourself to humble prayer: for these two things be the very means how to be made members of our Christ, meet to inherit his kingdom.
Do this, dear wife, in earnest, and not leaving off; and so we two shall, with our Christ and all his chosen children, enjoy the merry world in that everlasting immortality; whereas here, will nothing else be found but extreme misery, even of them which most greedily seek this worldly wealth. And so, if we two continue God’s children grafted in our Christ, the same God’s blessing which we receive, shall also settle upon our Samuel. Though we do shortly depart hence, and leave the poor infant (to our seeming) at all adventures, yet shall he have our gracious God to be his God: for so hath he said, and he cannot lie, “I will be thy God,” saith he, “and the God of thy seed.” Yea, if you leave him in the wilderness, destitute of all help, being called of God to do his will, either to die for the confession of Christ, or any work of obedience; that God which heard the cry of the little poor infant of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, and did succor it, will do the like to the child of you, or any other fearing him, and putting your trust in him.
And if we lack faith, as we do indeed many times, let us call for it, and we shall have the increase both of it, and also of any other good grace needful for us: and be merry in God, in whom also I am very merry and joyful. O Lord, what great cause of rejoicing have we, to think upon that kingdom, which he voucheth safe for his Christ’s sake, freely to give us, forsaking ourselves and following him? Dear wife, this is truly to follow him; even to take up our cross and follow him: and then, as we suffer with him, so shall we reign with him everlastingly, shortly. Amen.
ANOTHER LETTER TO HIS WIFE, TO MASTER ROBERT HARRINGTON AND MASTER HURLAND, AND OTHER FRIENDS.
Grace and comfort, etc. — Dear wife, rejoice in our gracious God, and his and our Christ; and give thanks most humbly and heartily to him for this day’s work; that in any part I, most unworthy wretch, should be made worthy to bear witness unto his everlasting verity, which Antichrist, with his, by main force (I perceive) and by most impudent pride and boasting, will go about to suppress.
Remember God alway, my dear wife; and so shall God’s blessing light upon you and your Samuel. O remember always my words for Christ’s sake; be merry, and grudge not against God; and pray, pray. We be all merry here, thanks be unto our God, who, in his Christ, hath given us great cause to be merry; by whom he hath prepared for us such a kingdom, and doth and will give unto us some little taste thereof, even in this life, and to all such as are desirous to take it. “Blessed,” saith our Christ, “be they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for such shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6) Let us go, yea, let us run, to seek such treasure, and that with whole purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord, to find such riches in his heavenly word through his Spirit obtained by prayer. My dear friends and brethren, master Harrington and master Hurland, pray, pray. “The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak. 23 ” When I look upon myself, 24 being astonished and confounded, what have I else to say but those words of Peter, “Lord, go from me; for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5) But then feel I that sweet comfort, “The word of the Lord is a lanthorn unto my feet, and a light unto my paths, 25 ” and “this is my comfort in my trouble.” (Psalm 119) Then wax I bold with the same Peter to say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?
Thou hast the words of everlasting life.” (John 6) This comfort have I when the giver thereof doth give it. But I look for battles, which the root of unfaithfulness, the which I feel in me, will most eagerly give unto my conscience, when we come once to the combat. We be (I ween) within the sound of the trump of our enemies. Play, ye that be abroad, the part of Moses,27 ”praying in all places, lifting up pure hands;” and God’s people shall prevail: yea, our blood shall be their perdition who do most triumphantly spill it. And we then, being in the hands of our God, shall shine in his kingdom, (1 Timothy 2, Wisdom 5) and shall stand in great steadfastness against them which have dealt extremely with us.
And when these our enemies shall thus see us, they shall be vexed with horrible fear, and shall wonder at the hastiness of the sudden health; and shall say with themselves, having inward sorrow and mourning for very anguish of mind: “These are they whom we sometime had in derision, and jested upon. We fools thought their lives to be very madness, and their end to be without honor; but lo! how they are accounted among the children of God.” (Wisdom 5) — The blessing of God be with you all, etc. Laurence Saunders.
TO HIS WIFE A LITTLE BEFORE HIS BURNING.
Grace and comfort in Christ, Amen. — Dear wife, be merry in the mercies of our Christ, and also ye, my dear friends. Pray, pray for us, everybody. We be shortly to be despatched hence unto our good Christ; Amen, Amen. Wife, I would you send me my shirt, which, you know whereunto it is consecrated. Let it be sewed down on both the sides, and not open. O my heavenly Father, look upon me in the face of thy Christ, or else I shall not be able to abide thy countenance; such is my filthiness. He will do so; and therefore I will not be afraid what sin, death, hell, and damnation, can do against me. O wife! always remember the Lord. God bless you, yea, he will bless thee, good wife, and thy poor boy also.
ANOTHER LETTER TO MASTERS ROBERT AND JOHN GLOVER, WRITTEN THE SAME MORNING THAT HE WAS BURNT.
Grace and consolation in our sweet Savior Christ. — O my dear brethren, whom I love in the Lord, being loved of you also in the Lord, be merry and rejoice for me, now ready to go up to that mine inheritance, which I myself indeed am most unworthy of, but my dear Christ is worthy, who hath purchased the same for me with so dear a price. Make haste, my dear brethren, to come unto me, that we may be merry, with that joy which no man shall take from us. O wretched sinner that I am; not thankful unto this my Father, who hath vouched me worthy to be a vessel unto his honor! But, O Lord, now accept my thanks, though they proceed out of a not — enough — circumcised heart. Salute my good sisters your wives; and, good sisters, fear the Lord. Salute all others that love us in the truth. God’s blessing be with you always, Amen. Even now towards the offering of a burnt sacrifice. O my Christ, help, or else I perish! Laurence Saunders.
After these godly letters of master Saunders diversely dispersed and sent abroad to divers of the faithful congregation of Christ, as is afore to be seen; now, in the latter end, we will adjoin two other letters, not written by master Saunders the martyr, but by master Edward Saunders the justice, his brother, sent to this our Saunders in prison, although containing no great matter worthy to be known, yet to this intent; that the reader may see in these two brethren, so joined in nature, and so divided in religion, that word of the Lord verified, truly saying, “Brother shall be against brother,” (Matthew 10) etc., as by the contents of these two letters following may appear.
A LETTER OF JUSTICE SAUNDERS TO HIS BROTHER LAURENCE.
After my most hearty commendations: these be to ascertain you, that I have spoken with master Basset, who hath showed me, that four pound (all deductions being allowed) is the whole that hath come to his hands of the profit of the prebendary at York, the which you shall have, although, as he thinketh, it was not due unto you by reason of your deprivation; before, it was due. As concerning your conscience in religion, I beseech God it may be lightened by the Holy Ghost, and that, you may also have the grace of the Holy Ghost to follow the counsel of St. Paul to Timothy 2 29 . ‘To handle rightly the word of truth; wherein you, dissenting from, many holy and catholic men, especially in the sacrament, it maketh me in my conscience to condemn yours. For although I have not hitherto fancied to read Peter Martyr, and other such, etc.; 30 yet have I had great desire to see Theophylact, and divers others of this sort and opinion, both notable and holy fathers (if any credit be to be given to the writings of our ancient fathers before us): and surely the sentences and judgments of two or three of them have more confirmed my conscience, than three hundred of the Zwinglians, or as many of the Lutherans, can or should do.
If you shall need towards your finding (if you shall require it of me), you shall unfeignedly find my money ready, as knoweth our Lord, who send us all things good for us. — Scribbled this Thursday, by your brother and petitioner to God, Ed. Saunders.
ANOTHER LETTER OF JUSTICE SAUNDERS TO HIS BROTHER, WHEREIN HE SEEKETH TO WIN HIM TO POPERY.
As nature and brotherly love with godly charity require, I send you by these letters (quantum licet) most hearty commendation; being sorry for your fault, and your disobedient handling of yourself towards my lord chancellor, who, I assure you, mindeth your good and preservation, if you can so consider and take it. I would be glad to know, whether you have not had with you of late some learned men to talk with you by my lord chancellor’s appointment, and how you can frame yourself to reform your error in the opinion of the most blessed, and our most comfortable, sacrament of the altar: wherein, I assure you, I was never in all my life better affected than I am at this present, using to my great comfort hearing of mass, and, somewhat before the sacring time, the meditation of St.
Bernard, set forth in the third leaf of this present book. The accustomable using whereof I am fully professed unto, during my life, and to give more faith unto that confession of holy Bernard, than to Luther, etc., or to Latimer, etc.; for that the antiquity, the universality of the open church, and the consent of all saints and doctors, do confirm the same: ascertaining you that I have been earnestly moved in mine own conscience these ten or twelve days past, and also between God and myself, to move you to the same; most earnestly desiring you, and as you tender, my natural, godly, and friendly love towards you, that you would read over this book this holy time, at my request, although you have already seen it, and let me know wherein you cannot satisfy your own conscience.
Thus fare you well for this time.
By yours, from Serjeants’ Inn, Ed. Saunders.
THE STORY, LIFE, AND MARTYRDOM OF MASTER JOHN HOOPER, BISHOP OF WORCESTER AND GLOUCESTER; PICTURE: The Burning of Master Hooper BURNT FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE GOSPEL AT GLOUCESTER, FEBRUARY THE 9TH, A.D. 1555.
John Hooper, student and graduate in the university of Oxford, after the study of the sciences, wherein he had abundantly profited and proceeded, through God’s secret vocation was stirred with fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the Scriptures: in the reading and searching whereof, as there lacked in him no diligence joined with earnest prayer; so neither wanted unto him the grace of the Holy Ghost to satisfy his desire, and to open unto him the light of true divinity.
Thus master Hooper, growing more and more, by God’s grace, in ripeness of spiritual understanding, and showing withal some sparkles of his fervent spirit, being then about the beginning of the Six Articles, in the time of king Henry the Eighth, fell eftsoons into displeasure and hatred of certain rabbins in Oxford, who, by and by, began to stir coals against him; whereby, and especially by the procurement of Dr. Smith, he was compelled to void the university; and so, removing from thence, was retained in the house of sir Thomas Arundel, and there was his steward, till the time that sir Thomas Arundel, having intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no case did favor, and yet exceedingly favoring the person and conditions of the man, found the means to send him in a message to the bishop of Winchester, writing his letter privily to the bishop, by conference of learning to do some good upon him; but in any case requiring him to send home his servant to him again.
Winchester, after long conference with master Hooper four or five days together, when he at length perceived that neither he could do that good which he thought to him, nor that he would take any good at his hand, according to master Arundel’s request, he sent home his servant again; right well commending his learning and wit, but yet bearing in his breast a grudging stomach against master Hooper still.
It followed not long after this, as malice is always working mischief, that intelligence was given to master Hooper to provide for himself, for danger that was working against him. Whereupon master Hooper, leaving master Arundel’s house, and borrowing a horse of a certain friend (whose life he had saved a little before from the gallows), took his journey to the sea — side to go to France, sending back the horse again by one, who indeed did not deliver him to the owner. Master Hooper being at Paris, tarried there not long, but in short time returned into England again, and was retained of master Sentlow, till the time that he was again molested and laid for; whereby he was compelled, under the pretense of being captain of a ship going to Ireland, to take the seas. And so escaped he (although not without extreme peril of drowning) through France, to the higher parts of Germany; where he, entering acquaintance with the learned men, was of them friendly and lovingly entertained, both at Basil, and especially at Zurich, of master Bullinger, being his singular friend. There also he married his wife who was a Burgonian, and applied very studiously to the Hebrew tongue.
At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the Six Articles, and to give us king Edward to reign over this realm, with some peace and rest unto his gospel, amongst many other English exiles who then repaired homeward, master Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought not to absent himself; but, seeing such a time and occasion, offered to help forward the Lord’s work, to the uttermost of his ability. And so, coming to master Bullinger, and other of his acquaintance in Zurich (as duty required), to give them thanks for their singular kindness and humanity toward him manifold ways declared, with like humanity again purposed to take his leave of them at his departing, and so did. Unto whom master Bullinger again (who had always a special favor to master Hooper) spake on this wise: “Master Hooper,” said he, “although we are sorry to part with our company for our own cause, yet much greater causes we have to rejoice, both for your sake, and especially for the cause of Christ’s true religion, that you shall now return, out of long banishment, into your native country again; where not only you may enjoy your own private liberty, but also the cause and state of Christ’s church, by you, may fare the better; as we doubt not but it shall. “Another cause, moreover, why we rejoice, with you and for you, is this: that you shall remove not only out of exile into liberty; but you shall leave here a barren, a sour and an unpleasant country, rude and savage; and shall go into a land flowing with milk and honey, replenished with all pleasure and fertility. Notwithstanding, with this our rejoicing one fear and care we have, lest you, being absent, and so far distant from us, or else coming to such abundance of wealth and felicity, in your new welfare and plenty of all things, and in your flourishing honors, where ye shall come, peradventure, to be a bishop, and where ye shall find so many new friends, you will forget us your old acquaintance and well — willers. Nevertheless, howsoever you shall forget and shake us off, yet this persuade yourself, that we will not forget our old friend and fellow master Hooper. And if you will please not to forget us again, then I pray you let us hear from you.”
Whereunto master Hooper, answering again, first gave to master Bullinger and the rest right hearty thanks, for that their singular good — will, and undeserved affection, appearing not only now, but at all times towards him: declaring moreover, that as the principal cause of his removing to his country was the matter of religion; so, touching the unpleasantness and barrenness of that country of theirs, there was no cause therein why he could not find in his heart to continue his life there, as soon as in any place in the world, and rather than in his own native country; if there were nothing else in his conscience that moved him so to do. And as touching the forgetting of his old friends; although, said he, the remembrance of a man’s country naturally doth delight him, neither could he deny, but God had blessed his country of England with many great commodities; yet, neither the nature of country, nor pleasure of commodities, nor newness of friends, should ever induce him to the oblivion of such friends and benefactors, whom he was so entirely bound unto: “and therefore you shall be sure,” said he, “from time to time to hear from me, and I will write unto you, how it goeth with me. But the last news of all, I shall not be able to write: for there,” said he (taking master Bullinger by the hand), “where I shall take most pains, there shall you hear of me to be burned to ashes.
And that shall be the last news, which I shall not be able to write unto you, but you shall hear it of me,” etc.
To this also may be added another like prophetical demonstration, foreshowing before the manner of his martyrdom wherewith he should glorify God, which was this: When master Hooper, being made bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, should have his arms given him by the herald (as the manner is, here in England, every bishop to have his arms assigned unto him), whether by the appointment of master Hooper, or by the herald, I have not certainly to say; but the arms which were to him allotted were these: A lamb in a fiery bush, and the sun — beams from heaven descended down upon the lamb; rightly denoting, as it seemed, the order of his suffering, which afterward followed.
But now to the purpose of our story again. Thus when master Hooper had taken his farewell of master Bullinger and his friends in Zurich, he made his repair again into England in the reign of king Edward the Sixth, where he, coming to London, used continually to preach, most times twice, at least once, every day; and never failed.
In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin, and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world, and corrupt abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies daily came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus’s harp, as the proverb saith; insomuch that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would be so full, that none could enter further than the doors thereof. In his doctrine he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the Scriptures perfect, in pains indefatigable.
Moreover, besides other his gifts and qualities, this is in him to be marvelled, that even as he began, so he continued still unto his life’s end.
For neither could his labor and pains — taking break him, neither promotion change him, neither dainty fare corrupt him. His life was so pure and good, that no kind of slander (although divers went about to reprove it) could fasten any fault upon him. He was of body strong, his health whole and sound, his wit very pregnant, his invincible patience able to sustain whatsoever sinister fortune and adversity could do. He was constant of judgment, a good justice, spare of diet, sparer of words, and sparest of time: in house — keeping very liberal, and sometimes more free than his living would extend unto. Briefly, of all those virtues and qualities required of St. Paul in a good bishop, in his epistle to Timothy, I know not one in this good bishop lacking. He bare in countenance and talk always a certain severe and grave grace, which might, peradventure, be wished sometimes to have been a little more popular and vulgar — like in him: but he knew what he had to do best himself.
This, by the way, I thought to note, for that there was once an honest citizen, and to me not unknown, who, having in himself a certain conflict of conscience, came to his door for counsel: but, being abashed at his austere behavior, durst not come in, but departed, seeking remedy of his troubled mind at other men’s hands; which he afterward, by the help of Almighty God, did find and obtain. Therefore, in my judgment, such as are appointed and made governors over the flock of Christ, to teach and instruct them, ought so to frame their life, manners, countenance, and external behavior, as neither they show themselves too familiar and light, whereby to be brought into contempt, nor, on the other side again, that they appear more lofty and rigorous, than appertaineth to the edifying of the simple flock of Christ. Nevertheless, as every man hath his peculiar gift wrought in him by nature, so this disposition of fatherly gravity in this man neither was excessive, nor did he bear that personage that was in him, without great consideration. For it seemed to him, peradventure, that this licentious and unbridled life of the common sort ought to be chastened, not only with words and discipline, but also with the grave and severe countenance of good men.
After he had thus practiced himself in this popular and common kind of preaching; at length, and that not without the great profit of many, he was called to preach before the king’s majesty, and soon after made bishop of Gloucester 311 by the king’s commandment. In that office he continued two years, and behaved himself so well, that his very enemies (except it were for his good doings, and sharp correcting of sin) could find no fault with him; and, after that, he was made bishop of Worcester But I cannot tell what sinister and unlucky contention concerning the ordering and consecration of bishops, and of their apparel, with such other like trifles, began to disturb the good and lucky beginning of the godly bishop. For notwithstanding that godly reformation of religion then begun in the church of England, besides other ceremonies more ambitious than profitable, or tending to edification, they used to wear such garments and apparel as the popish bishops 312 were wont to do: first a chimere, and under that a white rochet: then, a mathematical cap with four angles, dividing the whole world into four tarts. These trifles, tending more to superstition than otherwise, as he could never abide, so in no wise could he be persuaded to wear them. For this cause he made supplication to the king’s majesty, most humbly desiring his highness, either to discharge him of the bishopric, or else to dispense with him for such ceremonial orders; whose petition the king granted immediately, writing his letter to the archbishop after this tenor.
THE KING’S LETTERS OR GRANT FOR THE DISPENSATION OF JOHN HOOPER, ELECTED BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER; WRITTEN TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND OTHER BISHOPS.
Right reverend father in God, and right trusty and well — beloved, we greet you well. — Whereas we, by the advice of our council, have called and chosen our right well — beloved and well — worthy master John Hooper, professor of divinity, to be our bishop of Gloucester, as well for his great knowledge, deep judgment, and long study both in the Scriptures and other profane learning, as also for his good discretion, ready utterance, and honest life for that kind of vocation: to the intent all our loving subjects within his said charge and elsewhere might, by his sound and true doctrine, learn the better their duty towards God, their obedience towards us, and love towards their neighbors: from consecrating of whom we understand you do stay, because he would have you omit and let pass certain rites and ceremonies offensive to his conscience, whereby you think you should fall into the “praemunire” of our laws; we have thought good, by the advice aforesaid, to dispense and discharge you of all manner of dangers, penalties, and forfeitures, you shall run and be in any manner of way, by omitting any of the same. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge there — for.
Besides this letter of the king, also the earl of Warwick (who was afterward duke of Northumberland) adjoined his letter to the foresaid archbishop of Canterbury, to this purpose and effect: that master Hooper might not be burdened with the oath used then commonly in the consecration of bishops 314 , which was against his conscience; as by the purport of the letter here is to be seen, as followeth.
A LETTER OF THE EARL OF WARWICK TO THE ARCHBISHOP IN THE BEHALF OF MASTER HOOPER.
After my most hearty commendations to your grace, these may be to desire the same, that in such reasonable things, wherein this bearer, my lord elect of Gloucester, craveth to be borne withal at your hands, you would vouchsafe to show him your grace’s favor, the rather at this my instance; which thing partly I have taken in hand by the king’s majesty’s own motion. The matter is weighed by his highness, none other but that your grace may facily condescend unto. The principal cause is, that you would not charge this said bearer with an oath burdenous to his conscience. And so, for lack of time, I commit your grace to the tuition of Almighty God. From Westminster the 23d of July, 1550.
Both this grant of the king, and also the earl’s letters aforesaid notwithstanding, the bishops still stood earnestly in the defense of the aforesaid ceremonies; saying it was but a small matter, and that the fault was in the abuse of the things, and not in the things themselves: adding moreover, that he ought not to be so stubborn in so light a matter; and that his wilfulness therein was not to be suffered.
To be short, whilst both parties thus contended about this matter more than reason would, in the mean time occasion was given, as to the true Christians to lament, so to the adversaries to rejoice. In conclusion, this theological contention came to this end: that the bishops having the upper hand, master Hooper was fain to agree 315 to this condition — that sometimes he should in his sermon show himself apparelled as the other bishops were. Wherefore, appointed to preach before the king, as a new player in a strange apparel, he cometh forth on the stage. His upper garment was a long scarlet chimere down to the foot, and under that a white linen rochet that covered all his shoulders. Upon his head he had a geometrical, that is, a four — squared cap, albeit that his head was round.
What cause of shame the strangeness hereof was that day to that good preacher, every man may easily judge. But this private contumely and reproach, in respect of the public profit of the church, which he only sought, he bare and suffered patiently. And I would to God, in like manner, they, who took upon them the other part of that tragedy, had yielded their private cause, whatsoever it was, to the public concord and edifying of the church: for no man in all the city was one hair the better for that hot contention.
I will name nobody 316 , partly for that his oppugners, being afterwards joined in the most sure bond of friendship with him, in one, and for one cause, suffered martyrdom; and partly for that I commonly use, according to my accustomed manner, to keep my pen from presumptuous judging of any person. Yet I thought to note the thing for this consideration: to admonish the reader hereby, how wholesome and necessary the cross of Christ is sometimes in the church of Christ, as by the sequel hereof afterward did appear. For as, in a civil governance and commonwealth, nothing is more occasion of war than overmuch peace: so in the church and among churchmen, as nothing is more pernicious than too much quietness; so nothing more ceaseth private contentions oftentimes rising amongst them, than the public cross of persecution.
Furthermore, so I persuaded myself, the same not to be inexpedient, to have extant such examples of holy and blessed men. For, if it do not a little appertain to our public consolation and comfort, when we read in the Scriptures of the foul dissension between Paul and Barnabas; of the fall of Peter, and of David’s murder and adultery; why may or should it not be as well profitable for our posterity, to hear and know the falls of these godly martyrs, whereby we may the less despair in our infirmity, considering the same or greater infirmities to reign in the holy saints of God, both prophets, apostles, and martyrs?
And thus, by the way, thou hast heard, good reader, hitherto the weakness of these good men, plainly and simply, as the truth was, declared unto thee, to the end their fall may minister occasion to us, either of eschewing the like, or else to take heart and comfort in the like fall and frailness of ours. 1 Now again, on the other part, it remaineth to record, after the foresaid discord, the godly reconciliations of these good men in time of persecution, who afterward, being in prison for the truth’s sake, reconciled themselves again with most godly agreement, as appeareth by this letter sent by bishop Ridley to the said bishop of Gloucester. The copy whereof, as it was written with his own hand in Latin, hereafter followeth translated into English.
TO MY DEAR BROTHER AND REVEREND FELLOW — ELDER IN CHRIST, JOHN HOOPER, GRACE AND PEACE.
My dearly beloved brother and fellow — elder, whom I reverence in the Lord, pardon me, I beseech you, that hitherto since your captivity and mine, I have not saluted you by my letters: whereas I do indeed confess, I have received from you (such was your gentleness) two letters at sundry times: but yet at such time as I could not be suffered to write to you again; or, if I might, yet was I greatly in doubt how my letters might safely come into your hands.
But now, my dear brother, forasmuch as I understand by your works, which I have yet but superficially seen, that we thoroughly agree and wholly consent together in those things which are the grounds and substantial points of our religion, against the which the world so furiously rageth in these our days, howsoever in time past in certain bye — matters and circumstances of religion, your wisdom and my simplicity (I grant) have a little jarred, each of us following the abundance of his own sense and judgment; now, I say, be you assured, that even with my whole heart, God is my witness, in the bowels of Christ I love you in the truth, and for the truth’s sake which abideth in us, and, as I am persuaded, shall, by the grace of God, abide in us for evermore.
And because the world, as I perceive, brother, ceaseth not to play his pageant, and busily conspireth against Christ our Savior, with all possible force and power, “exalting high things against the knowledge of God; (1 Corinthians 10) let us join hands together in Christ; and, if we cannot overthrow, yet to our power, and as much as in us lieth, let us shake those high altitudes, not with carnal, but with spiritual weapons: and withal, brother, let us prepare ourselves to the day of our dissolution, by the which, after the short time of this bodily affliction, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall triumph together with him, in eternal glory.
I pray you, brother, salute in my name your reverend fellow — prisoner, and venerable father D.C. 317 ; by whom, since the first day that I heard of his most godly and fatherly constancy, in confessing the truth of the gospel, I have conceived great consolation and joy in the Lord. For the integrity and uprightness of that man, his gravity and innocency, all England, I think, hath known long ago.
Blessed be God therefore, which in such abundance of iniquity, and decay of all godliness, hath given unto us, in this reverend old age, such a witness for the truth of his gospel. Miserable and hard — hearted is he, whom the godliness and constant confession of so worthy, so grave and innocent a man, will not move to acknowledge and confess the truth of God.
I do not now, brother, require you to write any thing to me again: for I stand much in fear, lest your letters should be intercepted before they can come to my hands. Nevertheless know you, that it shall be to me great joy to hear of your constancy and fortitude in the Lord’s quarrel. And albeit I have not hitherto written unto you, yet have I twice, as I could, sent unto you my mind touching the matter which in your letters you required to know. Neither can I yet, brother, be otherwise persuaded: I see methinks so many perils, whereby I am earnestly moved to counsel you not to hasten the publishing of your works, especially under the title of your own name. For I fear greatly, lest by this occasion both your mouth should be stopped hereafter, and all things taken away from the rest of the prisoners; whereby otherwise, if it so please God, they may be able to do good to many. Farewell in the Lord, my most dear brother; and if there be any more in prison with you for Christ’s sake, I beseech you, as you may, salute them in my name.
To whose prayers I do most humbly and heartily commend myself and my fellow — prisoners and co — captives in the Lord; and yet once again, and for ever in Christ, my most dear brother. Farewell. N. Ridley . Master Hooper, after all these tumults and vexations sustained about his investing and priestly vestures, at length entering into his diocese, did there employ his time which the Lord lent him under king Edward’s reign, with such diligence, as may be a spectacle to all bishops who shall ever hereafter succeed him, not only in that place, but in whatsoever diocese through the whole realm of England. So careful was he in his cure, that he left neither pains untaken, nor ways unsought, how to train up the flock of Christ in the true word of salvation, continually laboring in the same. Other men commonly are wont, for lucre or promotion’s sake, to aspire to bishoprics, some hunting for them, and some purchasing or buying them, as men used to purchase lordships; and when they have them are loth to leave them: and thereupon also loth to commit that thing by worldly laws, whereby to lose them.
To this sort of men master Hooper was clean contrary, who abhorred nothing more than gain, laboring always to save and preserve the souls of his flock; who, being bishop of two dioceses, so ruled and guided either of them and both together, as though he had in charge but one family. No father in his household, no gardener in his garden, nor husbandman in his vineyard, was more or better occupied, than he in his diocese amongst his flock, going about his towns and villages in teaching and preaching to the people there.
That time that he had to spare from preaching, he bestowed either in hearing public causes, or else in private study, prayer, and visiting of schools. With his continual doctrine he adjoined due and discreet correction, not so much severe to any, as to them which for abundance of riches, and wealthy state, thought they might do what they listed. And doubtless he spared no kind of people, but was indifferent to all men, as well rich as poor, to the great shame of no small number of men now — a — days; whereof many we see so addicted to the pleasing of great and rich men, that in the meantime they have no regard to the meaner sort of poor people, whom Christ hath bought as dearly as the other.
But now, again, we will return our talk to master Hooper, all whose life, in fine, was such, that to the church and all churchmen, it might be a light and example; to the rest a perpetual lesson and sermon. Finally, how virtuous and good a bishop he was, ye may conceive and know evidently by this:; that even as he was hated of none but of them that were evil, so yet the worst of them all could not reprove his life in any one jot.
I have now declared his usage and behavior abroad in the public affairs of the church: and, certainly, there appeared in him at home no less example of a worthy prelate’s life. For though he bestowed and converted the most part of his care upon the public flock and congregation of Christ, for the which also he spent his blood; yet, nevertheless, there lacked no provision in him, to bring up his own children in learning and good manners; insomuch that ye could not discern whether he deserved more praise for his fatherly usage at home, or for his bishop — like doings abroad: for everywhere he kept one religion in one uniform doctrine and integrity. So that if you entered into the bishop’s palace, you would suppose yourself to have entered into some church or temple. In every corner thereof there was some smell of virtue, good example, honest conversation, and reading of holy Scriptures. There was not to be seen in his house any courtly rioting or idleness; no pomp at all; no dishonest word, no swearing could there be heard.
As for the revenues of both his bishoprics, although they did not greatly exceed, as the matter was handled; yet, if any thing surmounted thereof, he pursed nothing, but bestowed it in hospitality. Twice I was, as I remember, in his house in Worcester, where, in his common hall; I saw a table spread with good store of meat, and beset full of beggars and poor folk: and I, asking his servants what this meant, they told me that everyday their lord and master’s manner was, to have customably to dinner a certain number of poor folk of the said city by course, who were served by four at a mess, with hot and wholesome meats; and, when they were served (being before examined by him or his deputies, of the Lord’s prayer, the articles of their faith, and ten commandments), then he himself sat down to dinner, and not before. After this sort and manner master Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor, by the space of two years and more, so long, as the state of religion in king Edward’s time did safely flourish and take place: and would God that all other bishops would use the like diligence, care, and observance, in their function!
After this, king Edward being dead, and Mary being crowned queen of England, religion being subverted and changed, this good bishop was one of the first that was sent 318 for by a pursuivant to be at London; and that for two causes: first, to answer to Dr. Heath, then appointed bishop of that diocese, who was before, in king Edward’s days, deprived thereof for papistry. Secondarily, to render account to Dr. Bonner bishop of London, for that he, in king Edward’s time, was one of his accusers, in that he showed himself not conformable to such ordinances as were prescribed to him by the king and his council, openly at Paul’s Cross. And, although the said master Hooper was not ignorant of the evils that should happen towards him (for he was admonished by certain of his friends to get him away, and shift for himself), yet he would not prevent them, but tarried still, saying: “Once I did flee, and take me to my feet; but now, because I am called to this place and vocation, I am thoroughly persuaded to tarry, and to live and die with my sheep.”
And when at the day of his appearance, which was the first of September, he was come to London, before he could come to the aforesaid Drs. Heath and Bonner, he was intercepted, and commanded violently against his will to appear before the queen and her council, to answer to certain bonds and obligations, wherein they said he was bound unto her; and, when he came before them, Winchester, by and by, received him very opprobriously, and, railing and rating of him, accused him of religion. He, again, freely and boldly told his tale, and purged himself. But, in fine, it came to this conclusion, that by them he was commanded to ward; it being declared unto him at his departure, that the cause of his imprisonment was only for certain sums of money, for which he was indebted to the queen, and not for religion. This, how false and untrue it was, shall hereafter in its place more plainly appear.
The next year, being 1554, the 19th of March, he was called again to appear before Winchester, and other the queen’s commissioners; where, what for the bishop, and what for the unruly multitude, when he could not be permitted to plead his cause, he was deprived of his bishoprics: which how, and in what order it was done, here now followeth to be seen by the testimony and report of one, who, being present at the doing, committed the same to writing.
A LETTER OR REPORT OF A CERTAIN GODLY MAN, Declaring the Order of Master Hooper’s Deprivation from his Bishoprics, March 19, Anno 1554.
Forsomuch as a rumor is spread abroad of the talk had at my lord chancellor’s, between him with other commissioners there appointed, and master Hooper, clean contrary to the verity and truth thereof indeed, and therefore to be judged rather to be risen of malice, for the discrediting of the truth by false suggestions and evil reports, than otherwise: I thought it my duty, being present thereat myself, in writing to set forth the whole effect of the same: partly that the verity thereof may be known to the doubtful people; and partly also to advertise them, how uncharitably master Hooper was handled at their bands, who, with all humility, used himself towards them, desiring, that with patience he might have been permitted to speak; assuring all men, that whereas I stood in a mammering and doubt, which of these two religions to have credited, either that set forth by the king’s majesty that is dead, or else that now maintained by the queen’s majesty; their unreverend behavior towards master Hooper doth move me the rather to credit his doctrine, than that which they, with railing and cruel words, defended; considering that Christ was so handled before. And that this which I have written here was the effect of their talk, as I acknowledge it to be true myself — so I appeal to all the hearers’ consciences, that there were present (so they put affection away), for the witness of the same.
MASTER HOOPER EXAMINED BEFORE THE COMISSIONERS.
The bishops of Winchester, London, Durham, Llandaff, and Chichester, sat as commissioners. 3 — At master Hooper’s coming in, the lord chancellor asked whether he was married. Hooper: — “Yea my lord, and will not be unmarried 319 till death unmarry me.” Durham: — “That is matter enough to deprive you.” Hooper: — “That it is not, my lord, except ye do against the law.”
The matter concerning marriage was no more talked of then for a great space; but as well the commissioners, as such as stood by, began to make such outcries, and laughed, and used such gesture, as was unseemly for the place, and for such a matter. The bishop of Chichester, Dr. Day, called master Hooper “hypocrite,” with vehement words, and scornful countenance. 4 Bishop Tonstal called him “beast:” so did Smith, one of the clerks of the council, and divers others that stood by. At length the bishop of Winchester said, that all men might live chaste that would; and brought in this text, “There be, that have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19) Master Hooper said; that text proved not that all men could live chaste, but such only to whom it was given: and read that which goeth before in the text. But there was a clamor and cry, mocking and scorning, with calling him beast, that the text could not be examined.
Then master Hooper said, that it did appear by the old canons, that marriage was not forbidden unto priests; and named the Decrees. But the bishop of Winchester sent for another part, namely the Clementines, or the Extravagants: but bishop Hooper said, that book was not it, which he named. Then cried out the bishop of Winchester, and said, “You shall not have any other, until ye be judged by this.” And then began such a noise, tumult, and speaking together of a great many that favored not the cause, that nothing was done, or spoken orderly or charitably. Afterward judge Morgan 6 began to rail at master Hooper a long time, with many opprobrious and foul words of his doing at Gloucester, in punishing of men; and said, there was never such a tyrant as he was. After that, Dr.
After this long brutish talk, Tonstal bishop of Durham asked master Hooper, whether he believed the corporal presence in the sacrament. And master Hooper said plainly, that there was none such, neither did he believe any such thing.
Then would the bishop of Durham have read out of a book, for his purpose belike (what book it was, I cannot tell); but there was such a noise and confused talk on every side, that he did not read it. Then asked Winchester of master Hooper, what authority moved him not to believe the corporal presence? He said, the authority of God’s word; and alleged this text: 9 “Whom heaven must hold until the latter day.”
Then the bishop of Winchester would have made that text have served nothing for his purpose; and he said, he might be in heaven, and in the sacrament also. Master Hooper would have said more to have opened the text, but all men that stood next about the bishop, allowed so his saying with clamours and cries, that master Hooper was not permitted to say any more against the bishop. Whereupon they bade the notaries write that he was married; and said, that he would not go from his wife, and that he believed not the corporal presence in the sacrament: wherefore he was worthy to be deprived of his bishopric 320 .
This is the truth of the matter (as far as I can truly remember) of the confused and troublesome talk that was between them; and except it were hasty and uncharitable words, this is the whole matter of their talk at that time. — Atque haec ille hactenus.
THE TRUE REPORT OF MASTER HOOPER’S ENTERTAINMENT IN THE FLEET; WRITTEN WITH HIS OWN HAND, THE 7TH OF JANUARY, 1555.
The 1st of September, 1553, I was committed unto the Fleet from Richmond, to have the liberty of the prison; and, within six days after, I paid for my liberty five pounds sterling to the warden, for fees: who, immediately upon the payment thereof, complained unto Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; and so was I committed to close prison one quarter of a year in the Tower — chamber of the Fleet, and used very extremely. Then by the means of a good gentlewoman, 10 I had liberty to come down to dinner and supper, not suffered to speak with any of my friends; but, as soon as dinner and supper was done, to repair to my chamber again.
After one quarter of a year and somewhat more, Babington the warden, and his wife, fell out with me for the wicked mass: and thereupon the warden resorted to the bishop of Winchester, and obtained to put me into the wards, where I have continued a long time; having nothing appointed to me for my bed, but a little pad of straw and a rotten covering, with a tick and a few feathers therein, the chamber being vile and stinking, until by God’s means good people sent me bedding to lie in. Of the one side of which prison is the sink and filth of *all* the house, and on the other side the town — ditch, so that the stench of the house hath infected me with sundry diseases. — During which time I have been sick; and the doors, bars, hasps, and chains being all closed, and made fast upon me, I have mourned, called, and cried for help. But the warden, when he hath known me many times ready to die, and when the poor men of the wards have called to help me, hath commanded the doors to be kept fast, and charged that none of his men should come at me, saying, “Let him alone; it were a good riddance of him.” And, amongst many other times, he did thus the 18th of October, 1553; as many, can witness.
I paid always like a baron to the said warden, as well in fees, as for my board, which was twenty shillings a week, besides my man’s table, until I was wrongfully deprived of my bishopric; and, since that time, I have paid him as the best gentleman doth in his house; yet hath he used me worse, and more vilely, than the veriest slave that ever came to the hall — commons.
The said warden hath also imprisoned my man William Downton 321 , and stripped him out of his clothes to search for letters, and could find none, but only a little remembrance of good people’s names, that gave me their alms to relieve me in prison; and to undo them also, the warden delivered the same bill unto the said Stephen Gardiner, God’s enemy and mine.
I have suffered imprisonment almost eighteen months, my goods, living, friends, and comfort taken from me; the queen owing me by just account four score pounds or more. She hath put me in prison, and giveth nothing to find me 322 , neither is there suffered any to come at me whereby I might have relief. I am with a wicked man and woman, so that I see no remedy (saving God’s help), but I shall be cast away in prison before I come to judgment 323 . But I commit my just cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death.
Thus much wrote he himself, of this matter.
ANOTHER EXAMINATION OF MASTER HOOPER, The 22d of January following, 1555, Babington, the warden of the Fleet, was commanded to bring master Hooper before the bishop of Winchester, with other bishops and commissioners, at the said Winchester’s house at St. Mary Overy’s, where in effect thus much was done. The bishop of Winchester, in the name of himself and the rest, moved master Hooper earnestly to forsake the evil and corrupt doctrine (as he termed it) preached in the days of king Edward the Sixth, and to return to the unity of the catholic church, and to acknowledge the pope’s holiness to be head of the same church, according to the determination of the whole parliament; promising, that as he himself, with other his brethren, had received the pope’s blessing, and the queen’s mercy; even so mercy was ready to be showed to him and others, if he would arise with them, and condescend to the pope’s holiness.
Master Hooper answered, that forasmuch as the pope taught doctrine altogether contrary to the doctrine of Christ, he was not worthy to be accounted as a member of Christ’s church, much less to be head thereof; wherefore he would in no wise condescend to any such usurped jurisdiction. Neither esteemed he the church, whereof they call him head, to be the catholic church of Christ: for the church only heareth the voice of her spouse Christ, and flieth the strangers. “Howbeit,” saith he, “if in any point, to me unknown, I have offended the queen’s majesty, I shall most humbly submit myself to her mercy; if mercy may be had with safety of conscience, and without the displeasure of God.;’ Answer was made, that the queen would show no mercy to the pope’s enemies. Whereupon Babington was commanded to bring him to the Fleet again: who did so, and shifted him from his former chamber into another, near unto the warden’s own chamber, where he remained six days; and, in the mean time, his former chamber was searched by Dr. Martin and others, for writings and books, which master Hooper was thought to have made, but none were found.
ANOTHER EXAMINATION OF MASTER HOOPER.
The 28th of January, Winchester and other the commissioners sat in judgment at St. Mary Overy’s, where master Hooper appeared before them at afternoon again; and there, after much reasoning and disputation to and fro, he was commanded aside, till master Rogers (who was then come) had been likewise examined. Examinations being ended, the two sheriffs of London were commanded, about four of the clock, to carry them to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain till the morrow at nine o’clock, to see whether they would relent and come home again to the catholic church. 11 So master Hooper went before with one of the sheriffs, and master Rogers came after with the other, and being out of church door, master Hooper looked back, and stayed a little till master Rogers drew near, unto whom he said, “Come, brother Rogers! must we two take this matter first in hand, and begin to fry these faggots?” “Yea sir,” said master Rogers, “by God’s grace.” “Doubt not,” said master Hooper, “but God will give strength.” So going forwards, there was such a press of people in the streets, who rejoiced at their constancy, that they had much ado to pass.
He answered, “Master sheriff, I was nothing at all impatient, although I was earnest in my Master’s cause, and it standeth me so in hand, for it goeth upon life and death; not the life and death of this world only, but also of the world to come.” Then were they committed to the keeper of the Compter, and appointed to several chambers, with commandment that they should not be suffered to speak one with another, neither yet any other permitted to come at them, that night.
THE THIRD AND LAST EXAMINATION OF MASTER HOOPER.
Upon the next day following, the 29th 324 of January, at the hour appointed, they were brought again by the sheriffs before the said bishop and commissioners, in the church, where they were the day before. And after long and earnest talk, when they perceived that master Hooper would by no means condescend unto them, they condemned him to be degraded, and read unto him his condemnation. That done, master Rogers was brought before them, and in like manner entreated, and so they delivered both of them to the secular power, the two sheriffs of London, who were willed to carry them to the Clink, a prison not far from the bishop of Winchester’s house, and there to remain till night.
When it was dark, master Hooper was led by one of the sheriffs, with many bills and weapons, first through the bishop of Winchester’s house, and so over London — bridge, through the city to Newgate. And by the way some of the sergeants were willed to go before, and put out the costermongers’ candles, who used to sit with lights in the streets: either fearing, of likelihood, that the people would have made some attempt to have taken him away from them by force, if they had seen him go to that prison; or else, being burdened with an evil conscience, they thought darkness to be a most fit season for such a business.
But notwithstanding this device, the people having some foreknowledge of his coming, many of them came forth of their doors with lights, and saluted him; praising God for his constancy in the true doctrine which he had taught them, and desiring God to strengthen him in the same to the end.
Master Hooper passed by, and required the people to make their earnest prayers to God for him: and so went through Cheapside to the place appointed, and was delivered as close prisoner to the keeper of Newgate, where he remained six days, nobody being permitted to come to him, or talk with him, saving his keepers, and such as should be appointed thereto.
During this time, Bonner bishop of London, and others at his appointment, as Fecknam, Chedsey, and Harpsfield, etc., resorted divers times unto him to assay if by any means they could persuade him to relent, and become a member of their antichristian church. All the ways they could devise, they attempted: for, besides the disputations and allegations of testimonies of the Scriptures, and of ancient writers wrested to a wrong sense, according to their accustomed manner, they used also all outward gentleness and significations of friendship, with many great proffers and promises of worldly commodities; not omitting also most grievous threatenings, if with gentleness they could not prevail: but they found him always the same man, steadfast and immovable. When they perceived that they could by no means reclaim him to their purpose with such persuasions and offers as they used for his conversion, then went they about, by false rumors and reports of recantations 326 (for it is well known, that they and their servants did spread it first abroad), to bring him and the doctrine of Christ which he professed, out of credit with the people. So the bruit being a little spread abroad, and believed of some of the weaker sort, by reason of the often resort of the bishop of London and others, it increased more, and at last came to master Hooper’s ears: wherewith he was not a little grieved, that the people should give so light credit unto false rumors, having so simple a ground; as it may appear by a letter which he wrote upon that occasion, the copy whereof followeth.
A LETTER OF MASTER HOOPER, FOR THE STOPPING OF CERTAIN FALSE RUMOURS SPREAD ABROAD OF HIS RECANTATION.
Dear brethren and sisters in the Lord, and my fellow — prisoners for the cause of God’s gospel, I do much rejoice and give thanks unto God for your constancy and perseverance in affliction, unto whom I wish continuance unto the end. And as I do rejoice in your faith and constancy in afflictions that be in prison; even so do I mourn and lament to hear of our dear brethren that yet have not felt such dangers for God’s truth as we have and do feel, and be daily like to suffer more; yea, the very extreme and vile death of the fire: yet such is the report abroad (as I am credibly informed), that I, John Hooper, a condemned man for the cause of Christ, should now, after sentence of death (being in Newgate prisoner, and looking daily for execution) recant and abjure that which heretofore I have preached. And this talk ariseth of this, that the bishop of London and his chaplains resort unto me. Doubtless, if our brethren were as godly as I could wish them, they would think, that in case I did refuse to talk with them, they might have just occasion to say that I were unlearned, and durst not speak with learned men; or else proud, and disdained to speak with them.
Therefore, to avoid just suspicion of both, I have and do daily speak with them when they come; not doubting but that they report that I am neither proud nor unlearned. And I would wish all men to do as I do in this point, for I fear not their arguments, neither is death terrible unto me; praying you to make true report of the same, as occasion shall serve; and that I am more confirmed in the truth which I have preached heretofore, by their coming.
For I have hitherto left all things of the world, and suffered great pains and imprisonment, and, I thank God, I am as ready to suffer death, as a mortal man may be. It were better for them to pray for us, than to credit or report such rumors that be untrue. We have enemies enough of such as know not God truly; but yet the false report of weak brethren is a double cross. I wish you eternal salvation in Jesus Christ, and also require your continual prayers, that he which hath begun in us, may continue it to the end.
Forth of Newgate the 2d of February, anno 1555.
Upon Monday 327 morning the bishop of London came to Newgate, and there degraded master Hooper; the sentence of which his degradation here followeth.
DEGRADATIO HOOPERI. In nomine + Patris, + Filii, + et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. Quoniam per sententiam definitivam a reverendo in Christo patre et domino Stephano, permissione divina Wintoniensi episcopo, in et contra to Johannem Hooper presbyterurn, susa jurisdictionis, (ratione haeresis et delicti intra illius dioecesin Wintoniensem notorie commissi) existentem, nuper rite et legitime prolatam, constat sufficienter et legitime nobis Edmundo Londinensi episcopo, to praefatum Johannem Hooper haereticum manifestum et obstinatum ac pertinacem fuisse et esse, ac constat similiter tanquam haereticum hujusmodi per dictam sententiam pronunciatum et declaratum fuisse, majorisque excommunicationis sententia ob id innodatum et involutum similiter esse, ac ab ordine tuo deponendum et degradandum, curiaeque seculari ob demerita tua hujusmodi tradendum fore, prout ex tenore dictae sententiae, ad quam nos in hac parte nos referimus, plenius, planius, et expressius liquet et apparet: idcirco nos Edmundus episcopus Londinensis antedictus — quia nostri et universitatis etiam interest nostras hic partes interponere, et vicariam operam mutuamque vicissitudinem impendere, in cujus etiam dioecesi tu, Johannes Hooper, idem haeresis crimen tune et saepius, et ante et post commisisti — istis (inquam) et aliis praedictis attentis, et exequendo omni meliori et efficaciori modo, quo possumus, sententiam praedictam, sic (ut praemittitur) latam in to qui infra fines et limites dioecesis nostrae Londinensis notorie consistis, et in hac parte culpabilis et transgressor etiam notorie existis, ad actualem degradationem, tui praefati Johannis Hooper (culpa tua exigente ac justitia id poscente) duximus procedendum fore, ac sic etiam realiter procedimus; ut deinde, juxta juris exigentiam et temporis retroacti morem laudabilem et normam consuetam, te in arca eeelesiae manere nolentem curiae seculari rite et legitime ac effectualiter tradere possimus. Quod ipsum sic fieri debere, nos per hanc nostram sententiam sive decretum decernimus, pronunciamus, et deelaramus in his scriptis.
After the sentence of degradation thus declared, now let us see the form and manner of their degrading, which here also followeth. But first here is to be noted, that they, degrading this blessed bishop, did not proceed against him as a bishop, but as only against a priest, as they termed him; for such as he was, these Balaamites accounted for no bishop 328 .
HERE FOLLOWETH THE FORM AND MANNER USED IN THE DEGRADING OF BISHOP HOOPER.
The 4th day of February, the year above mentioned, in the chapel in Newgate, the bishop of London there sitting with his notary and certain other witnesses, came Alexander Andrew the jailer, bringing with him master Hooper and master Rogers, being condemned before by the chancellor; where the said bishop of London, at the request of the foresaid Winchester, proceeded to the degradation of the parties above mentioned, master Hooper and master Rogers, after this form and manner: first, he put upon him all the vestures and ornaments belonging to a priest, with all other things to the same order appertaining, as though (being revested) they should solemnly execute their office. Thus they, being apparelled and invested, the bishop beginneth to pluck off, first the uttermost vesture; and so, by degree and order, coming down to the lowest vesture, which they had only in taking Benet and Collet 329 ; and so, being stript and deposed, he deprived them of all order, benefit, and privilege belonging to the clergy; and consequently, that being done, pronounced, decreed, and declared the said parties so degraded, to be given personally to the secular power, as the sheriffs being for that year, master Davy Woodroofe, and master William Chester; who, receiving first the said master Rogers at the hands of the bishop, had him away with them, bringing him to the place of execution where he suffered. The witnesses there present were master Harpsfield, archdeacon of London; Robert Cosin, and Robert Willerton, canons of Paul’s; Thomas Mountague, and George How, clerks; Tristram Swadock, and Richard Cloney, the sumner, etc.
The same Monday at night, being the 4th of February, his keeper gave him an inkling that he should be sent to Gloucester to suffer death, whereat he rejoiced very much, lifting up his eyes and hands unto heaven, and praising God that he saw it good to send him amongst the people over whom he was pastor, there to confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them; not doubting but the Lord would give him strength to perform the same to his glory. And immediately he sent to his servant’s house for his boots, spurs, and cloak, that he might be in a readiness to ride when he should be called.
The next day following, about four o’clock in the morning before day, the keeper with others came to him and searched him, and the bed wherein he lay, to see if he had written any thing; and then he was led by the sheriffs of London, and other their officers, forth of Newgate to a place appointed, not far from St. Dunstan’s church in Fleet — street, where six of the queen’s guards were appointed to receive him, and to carry him to Gloucester, there to be delivered unto the sheriff, who, with the lord Chandos, master Wicks, and other commissioners, were appointed to see execution done. The which guard brought him to the Angel, where he brake his fast with them, eating his meat at that time more liberally than he had used to do a good while before. About the break of the day he went to horse, and leaped cheerfully on horseback without help, having a hood upon his head under his hat, that he should not be known. And so he took his journey joyfully towards Gloucester, and always by the way the guard learned of him, where he was accustomed to bait or lodge; and ever carried him to another inn.
On the Thursday following, he came to a town in his diocese called Cirencester, fifteen miles from Gloucester, about eleven o’clock, and there dined at a woman’s house who had always hated the truth, and spoken all evil she could of master Hooper. This woman, perceiving the cause of his coming, showed him all the friendship she could, and lamented his case with tears; confessing that she before had often reported, that if he were put to the trial, he would not stand to his doctrine.
After dinner he rode forwards, and came to Gloucester about five o’clock; and a mile without the town was much people assembled, which cried and lamented his estate, insomuch that one of the guard rode post into the town, to require aid of the mayor and sheriffs, fearing lest he should have been taken from them. The officers and their retinue repaired to the gate with weapons, and commanded the people to keep their houses, etc.; but there was no man that once gave any signification of any such rescue or violence. So was he lodged at one Ingram’s house in Gloucester; and that night (as he had done all the way) he did eat his meat quietly, and slept his first sleep soundly, as it was reported by them of the guard, and others.
After his first sleep he continued all that night in prayer until the morning; and then he desired that he might go into the next chamber (for the guard were also in the chamber where he lay), that there, being solitary, he might pray and talk with God: so that all the day, saving a little at meat, and when he talked at any time with such as the guard licensed to speak with him, he bestowed in prayer.
Amongst others that spake with him, sir Anthony Kingston, knight, was one; who, seeming in time past his very friend, was then appointed by the queen’s letters to be one of the commissioners, to see execution done upon him. Master Kingston, being brought into the chamber, found him at his prayer: and as soon as he saw master Hooper, he burst forth in tears.
Master Hooper at the first blush knew him not. Then said master Kingston, “Why, my lord, do you not know me an old friend of yours, Anthony Kingston?” Hooper: — “Yes, master Kingston, I do now know you well, and am glad to see you in health, and do praise God for the same.” Kingston: — “But I am sorry to see you in this case; for as I understand you be come hither to die. But, alas, consider that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Therefore, seeing life may be had, desire to live; for life hereafter may do good.” Hooper: — “Indeed it is true, master Kingston, I am come hither to end this life, and to suffer death here, because I will not gainsay the former truth that I have heretofore taught amongst you in this diocese, and elsewhere; and I thank you for your friendly counsel, although it be not so friendly as I could have wished it. True it is, master Kingston, that death is bitter, and life is sweet: but, alas, consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet.
Therefore, for the desire and love I have to the one, and the terror and fear of the other; I do not so much regard this death, nor esteem this life, but have settled myself, through the strength of God’s holy Spirit, patiently to pass through the torments and extremities of the fire now prepared for me, rather than to deny the truth of his word; desiring you, and others, in the mean time, to commend me to God’s mercy in your prayers.” Kingston: — “Well, my lord, then I perceive there is no remedy, and therefore I will take my leave of you: and I thank God that ever I knew you; for God did appoint you to call me, being a lost child: and by your good instructions, whereas before I was both an adulterer and a fornicator 330 , God hath brought me to the forsaking and detesting of the same.” Hooper: — “If you have had the grace so to do, I do highly praise God for it: and if you have not, I pray God ye may have; and that you may continually live in his fear.”
After these, and many other words, the one took leave of the other; master Kingston with bitter tears, master Hooper with tears also trickling down his cheeks. At which departure master Hooper told him that all the troubles he had sustained in prison, had not caused him to utter so much sorrow.
The same boy not long afore had suffered imprisonment at Gloucester for confessing of the truth. Master Hooper, after he had examined him of his faith, and the cause of his imprisonment, beheld him steadfastly, and (the water appearing in his eyes) said unto him, “Ah, poor boy! God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what reason he best knoweth: but he hath given thee another sight much more precious, for he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou lose not that sight; for then shouldest thou be blind both in body and soul!”
After that another came to him, whom he knew to be a very papist and a wicked man, who appeared to be sorry for master Hooper’s trouble, saying, “Sir, I am sorry to see you thus.” “To see me? Why,” said he, “art thou sorry?” “To see you,” saith the other, “in this case. For I hear say, you are come hither to die, for the which I am sorry.” “Be sorry for thyself, man,” said master Hooper, “and lament thine own wickedness; for I am well, I thank God, and death to me for Christ’s sake is welcome.”
The same night he was committed by the guard, their commission being then expired, unto the custody of the sheriffs of Gloucester. The name of the one was Jenkins, the other Bond, who, with the mayor and aldermen, repaired to master Hooper’s lodging, and at the first meeting saluted him, and took him by the hand. Unto whom Hooper spake on this manner: “Master mayor, I give most hearty thanks to you, and to the rest of your brethren, that you have vouchsafed to take me, a prisoner and a condemned man, by the hand; whereby to my rejoicing it is some deal apparent that your old love and friendship towards me is not altogether extinguished; and I trust also that all the things I have taught you in times past are not utterly forgotten, when I was here, by the godly king that dead is, appointed to be your bishop and pastor. For the which most true and sincere doctrine, because I will not now account it falsehood and heresy, as many other men do, I am sent hither (as I am sure you know) by the queen’s commandment to die; and am come where I taught it, to confirm it with my blood. And now, master sheriffs, I understand by these good men, and my very friends,” (meaning the guard), “at whose hands I have found so much favor and gentleness, by the way hitherward, as a prisoner could reasonably require (for the which also I most heartily thank them), that I am committed to your custody, as unto them that must see me brought to — morrow to the place of execution. My request therefore to you shall be only, that there may be a quick fire, shortly to make an end; and in the meantime I will be as obedient unto you, as yourselves would wish. If you think I do amiss in any thing, hold up your finger, and I have done: for I am not come hither as one enforced or compelled to die (for it is well known, I might have had my life with worldly gain); but as one willing to offer and give my life for the truth, rather than consent to the wicked papistical religion of the bishop of Rome, received and set forth by the magistrates in England, to God’s high displeasure and dishonor; and I trust, by God’s grace, to — morrow to die a faithful servant of God, and a true obedient subject to the queen.”
These and such — like words in effect used master Hooper to the mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen, whereat many of them mourned and lamented.
Notwithstanding the two sheriffs went aside to consult, and were determined to have lodged him in the common jail of the town, called Northgate, if the guard had not made earnest intercession for him; who declared at large, how quietly, mildly, and patiently, he had behaved himself in the way; adding thereto, that any child might keep him well enough, and that they themselves would rather take pains to watch with him, than that he should be sent to the common prison.
So it was determined, at length, he should still remain in Robert Ingram’s house; and the sheriffs and the sergeants, and other officers, did appoint to watch with him that night themselves. His desire was, that he might go to bed that night betimes, saying, that he had many things to remember: and so he did at five of the clock, and slept one sleep soundly, and bestowed the rest of the night in prayer After he got up in the morning, he desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he might be solitary till the hour of execution.
About eight o’clock came sir John Bridges, lord Chandos, with a great band of men, sir Anthony Kingston, sir Edmund Bridges, and other commissioners appointed to see execution done. At nine o’clock master Hooper was willed to prepare himself to be in a readiness, for the time was at hand. Immediately he was brought down from his chamber by the sheriffs, who were accompanied with bills, glaves and weapons. When he saw the multitude of weapons, he spake to the sheriffs on this wise: “Master sheriffs,” said he, “ I am no traitor 332 , neither needed you to have made such a business to bring me to the place where I must suffer: for if ye had willed me, I would have gone alone to the stake, and have troubled none of you all. Afterward, looking upon the multitude of people that were assembled, being by estimation to the number of seven thousand (for it was market — day, and many also came to see his behavior towards death), he spake unto those that were about him, saying, “Alas, why be these people assembled and come together? Peradventure they think to hear something of me now, as they have in times past; but, alas! speech is prohibited me 333 . Notwithstanding, the cause of my death is well known unto them. When I was appointed here to be their pastor, I preached unto them true and sincere doctrine; and that, out of the word of God: because I will not now account the same to be heresy and untruth, this kind of death is prepared for me.”
So he went forward, led between the two sheriffs (as it were a lamb to the place of slaughter) in a gown of his host’s, his hat upon his head, and a staff in his hand to stay himself withal: for the grief of the sciatica, which he had taken in prison, caused him somewhat to halt. All the way being straitly charged not to speak, he could not be perceived once to open his mouth, but beholding the people all the way, which mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards heaven, and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never known, during the time of his being amongst them, to look with so cheerful and ruddy a countenance as he did at that present. When he came to the place appointed where he should die, smilingly he beheld the stake and preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm — tree, over against the college of priests, where he was wont to preach. The place round about the houses, and the boughs of the tree were replenished with people; and in the chamber over the college — gate stood the priests of the college.
Then kneeled he down (forasmuch as he could not be suffered to speak unto the people) to prayer, and beckoned six or seven times unto one whom he knew well, to hear the said prayer, to make report thereof in time to come (pouring tears upon his shoulders and in his bosom), who gave attentive ears unto the same; the which prayer he made upon the whole creed, wherein he continued the space of half an hour. Now, after he was somewhat entered into his prayer, a box was brought and laid before him upon a stool, with his pardon (or at least — wise it was feigned to be his pardon) from the queen, if he would turn. At the sight whereof he cried, “If you love my soul, away with it! if you love my soul, away with it!”
The box being taken away, the lord Chandos said, “Seeing there is no remedy, despatch him quickly.” Master Hooper said, “Good my lord, I trust your lordship will give me leave to make an end of my prayers.”
Then said the lord Chandos to sir Edmund Bridges’s son, which gave ear before to master Hooper’s prayer at his request, “Edmund, take heed that he do nothing else but pray: if he do, tell me, and I shall quickly despatch him.” Whiles this talk was, there stepped one or two uncalled, who heard him speak these words following:
MASTER HOOPER’S PRAYER.
Lord (said he) I am hell, but thou art heaven; I am swill and a sink of sin, but thou art a gracious God and a merciful Redeemer. Have mercy therefore upon me, most miserable and wretched offender, after thy great mercy, and according to thine inestimable goodness.
Thou that art ascended into heaven, receive me, hell, to be partaker of thy joys, where thou sittest in equal glory with thy Father. For well knowest thou, Lord, wherefore I am come hither to suffer, and why the wicked do persecute this thy poor servant; not for my sins and transgressions committed against thee, but because I will not allow their wicked doings, to the contaminating of thy blood, and to the denial of the knowledge of thy truth, wherewith it did please thee, by thy Holy Spirit, to instruct me: the which, with as much diligence as a poor wretch might (being thereto called), I have set forth to thy glory. And well seest thou, my Lord and God, what terrible pains and cruel torments be prepared for thy creature: such, Lord, as without thy strength none is able to bear, or patiently to pass. But all things that are impossible with man, are possible with thee: therefore strengthen me of thy goodness, that in the fire I break not the rules of patience; or else assuage the terror of the pains, as shall seem most to thy glory.
As soon as the mayor had espied these men who made report of the former words, they were commanded away, and could not be suffered to hear any more 334 . Prayer being done, he prepared himself to the stake, and put off his host’s gown, and delivered it to the sheriffs, requiring them to see it restored unto the owner, and put off the rest of his gear, unto his doublet and hose, wherein he would have burned. But the sheriffs would not permit that, such was their greediness; unto whose pleasures, good man, he very obediently submitted himself; and his doublet, hose, and waistcoat were taken off. Then, being in his shirt, he took a point from his hose himself, and trussed his shirt between his legs, where he had a pound of gunpowder 335 in a bladder, and under each arm the like quantity, delivered him by the guard. So, desiring the people to say the Lord’s prayer with him, and to pray for him (who performed it with tears, during the time of his pains), he went up to the stake. Now when he was at the stake, three irons, made to bind him to the stake, were brought; one for his neck, another for his middle, and the third for his legs. But he refusing them said, “Ye have no need thus to trouble yourselves; for I doubt not but God will give strength sufficient to abide the extremity of the fire, without bands: notwithstanding, suspecting the frailty and weakness of the flesh, but having assured confidence in God’s strength, I am content ye do as ye shall think good.”
So the hoop of iron prepared for his middle was brought, which being made somewhat too short (for his belly was swollen by imprisonment), he shrank, and put in his belly with his hand, until it was fastened: and when they offered to have bound his neck and legs with the other two hoops of iron, he utterly refused them, and would have none, saying, “I am well assured I shall not trouble you.”
Thus being ready, he looked upon all the people, of whom he might be well seen (for he was both tall, and stood also on a high stool), and beheld round about him: and in every corner there was nothing to be seen but weeping and sorrowful people. Then, lifting up his eyes and hands unto heaven, he prayed to himself. By and by, he that was appointed to make the fire, came to him, and did ask him forgiveness. Of whom he asked why he should forgive him, saying, that he knew never any offense he had committed against him. “O sir!” said the man, “I am appointed to make the fire.” “Therein,” said master Hooper, “thou dost nothing offend me; God forgive thee thy sins, and do thine office, I pray thee.” Then the reeds were cast up, and he received two bundles of them in his own hands, embraced them, kissed them 336 , and put under either arm one of them, and showed with his hand how the rest should be bestowed, and pointed to the place where any did lack.
But because there were put to no fewer green faggots than two horses could carry upon their backs, it kindled not by and by, and was a pretty while also before it took the reeds upon the faggots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full strength in that place (it was a lowering and cold morning), it blew the flame from him, so that he was in a manner no more but touched by the fire.
Within a space after, a few dry faggots were brought, and a new fire kindled with faggots (for there were no more reeds), and that burned at the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the wind, saving that it did burn his hair, and scorch his skin a little. In the time of which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly and not very loud (but as one without pains), “O Jesus, the Son of David, have mercy upon me, and receive my soul!” After the second was spent, he did wipe both his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said with an indifferent loud voice, “For God’s love, good people, let me have more fire!” And all this while his nether parts did burn: for the faggots were so few, that the flame did not burn strongly at his upper parts.
The third fire was kindled within a while after, which was more extreme than the other two: and then the bladders of gunpowder brake, which did him small good, they were so placed, and the wind had such power. In the which fire he prayed with somewhat a loud voice, “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me; Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth, and his tongue swollen, that he could not speak, yet his lips went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands, until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, what time the fat, water, and blood, dropped out at his fingers’ ends, until by renewing of the fire his strength was gone, and his hand did cleave fast, in knocking, to the iron upon his breast. So immediately, bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.
IN CLARISSIMI DOCTRINA ET PIETATE VIRI JOHANNIS HOPERI MARTYRIUM, CONRADI GESNERI CARMEN. Aureus Hoperus flammis invictus et igni, Atque suum Christum confessus ad ultima vitae Momenta, integritate sua praeclarus, et ardens Exterius flammis, divinus martyr at intus Eximio fidei fervore accensus, ad astra Spiritus ascendit, coelesti luce beatus.
In tetris cineresque manent, et lama corusca, Flammae instar lucens, lucebit alum stabit orbis, Utcunque immanes boreae, magnaeque procellae Flatibus adversis tam clarum abrumpere lumen Nitantur frustra. Nam, quae Deus ipse secundat, Quis prohibere queat? mortalia facta sed ultro Et commenta ruunt, vastaque voragine sidunt.
Hoperi exemplo, quotquot spiratis Jesu Doctrinam Christi, discrimina temnere vitae, Durare, et vosmet rebus servare secundis Discite. Namque dabit Deus his meliora; nec auris Audiit ulla, oculus vel vidit, sed neque captus Humanae mentis potuit complectier unquam, Qualia, quanta Deus servet sua bona beatis.
Thus was he three quarters of an hour or more in the fire. Even as a lamb, patiently he abode the extremity thereof, neither moving forwards, backwards, nor to any side: but, having his nether parts burned, and his bowels fallen out, he died as quietly as a child in his bed. And he now reigneth as a blessed martyr, in the joys of heaven prepared for the faithful in Christ, before the foundations of the world: for whose constancy all Christians are bound to praise God.
A LETTER WHICH MASTER HOOPER DID WRITE OUT OF PRISON, TO CERTAIN OF HIS FRIENDS.
The grace of God be with you. Amen. I did write unto you of late, and told you what extremity the parliament had concluded upon concerning religion, suppressing the truth, and setting forth the untruth; intending to cause all men by extremity to forswear themselves, and to take again, for the head of the church, him that is neither head nor member of it, but a very enemy, as the word of God and all ancient writers do record: and for lack of law and authority, they will use force and extremity, which have been the arguments to defend the pope and popery, since their authority first began in the world. But now is the time of trial, to see whether we fear more God or man. It was an easy thing to hold with Christ whilst the prince and world held with him: but now the world hateth him, it is the true trial, who be his.
Remember none shall be crowned, but such as fight manfully; and he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Ye must now turn all your cogitations from the peril you see, and mark the felicity that followeth the peril; either victory in this world of your enemies, or else a surrender of this life to inherit the everlasting kingdom.
Wherefore think with yourselves as touching the felicity of the world, it is good: but yet none otherwise than it standeth with the favor of God. It is to be kept; but yet so far forth as by keeping of it we lose not God. It is good, abiding and tarrying still among our friends here: but yet so, that we tarry not therewithal in God’s displeasure, and hereafter dwell with the devils in fire everlasting.
Of adversity judge the same. Imprisonment is painful, but yet liberty upon evil conditions is more painful. The prisons stink; but yet not so much as sweet houses, where the fear and true honor of God lack. I must be alone and solitary: it is better so to be and have God with me, than to be in company with the wicked. Loss of goods is great: but loss of God’s grace and favor is greater. I am a poor simple creature, and cannot tell how to answer before such a great sort of noble, learned, and wise men: it is better to make answer before the pomp and pride of wicked men, than to stand naked in the sight of all heaven and earth before the just God at the latter day. I shall die then by the hands of the cruel man: he is blessed that loseth this life full of miseries, and findeth the life of eternal joys. It is pain and grief to depart from goods and friends: but yet not so much, as to depart from grace and heaven itself.
I can do no more, but pray for you: do the same for me, for God’s sake. For my part, I thank the heavenly Father, I have made mine accounts, and appointed myself unto the will of the heavenly Father: as he will, so I will, by his grace. For God’s sake, as soon as ye can, send my poor wife and children some letter from you, and my letter also which I sent of late to D***. As it was told me she never had letter from me since the coming of M***S*** unto her; the more blame to the messengers, for I have written divers times. The Lord comfort them, and provide for them; for I am able to do nothing in worldly things. She is a godly and wise woman. If my meaning had been accomplished, she should have had necessary things: but what I meant, God can perform, to whom I commend both her, and you all. I am a precious jewel now, and daintily kept; never so daintily: for neither mine own man, nor any of the servants of the house, may come to me, but my keeper alone, a simple rude man, God knoweth; but I am nothing careful thereof.
Fare you well.
The 21st of January, 1555.
Your bounden, John Hooper.
Amongst many other memorable acts and notes worthy to be remembered in the history of master Hooper, this also is not to be forgotten which happened between him and a bragging friar, a little after the beginning of his imprisonment: the story whereof here followeth.
A friar came from France to England with great vaunt, asking who was the greatest heretic in England: thinking belike to do some great act upon him. To whom answer was made, that master Hooper had then the greatest name to be the chiefest ringleader, who was then in the Fleet. The friar coming to him, asked why he was committed to prison. He said, for debt. Nay, said he, it was for heresy: which, when the other had denied, “What sayest thou,” quoth he, “to ‘Hoc est corpus meum?’” Master Hooper, being partly moved at the sudden question, desired that he might ask of him another question, which was this: What remained after the consecration in the sacrament — any bread, or no? “No bread at all,” saith he. “And when ye break it, what do you break; whether bread or the body?’ said master Hooper, “No bread,” said the friar, “but the body only.” If ye do so,” said master Hooper, “ye do great injury, not only to the body of Christ, but also ye break the Scriptures, which say, ‘Ye shall not break of him one bone,’” etc. With that the friar, having nothing belike to answer, suddenly recoiled back, and with his circles and his crosses began to use exorcism against master Hooper, as though, etc.
This and more wrote master Hooper to mistress Wilkinson, in a letter, which letter was read unto her by John Kelke COMPARISON BETWEEN HOOPER AND POLYCARP.
When I see and behold the great patience of these blessed martyrs in our days in their sufferings, so quietly and constantly abiding the torments that are ministered unto them of princes for God’s cause; methinks I may well and worthily compare them unto the old martyrs of the primitive church: in the number of whom, if comparison be to be made between saint and saint, martyr and martyr, with whom might I better match this blessed martyr John Hooper, through the whole catalogue of the old martyrs, than with Polycarp the ancient bishop of Smyrna, of whom Eusebius 14 maketh mention in the ecclesiastical story? For as both agreed together in one kind of punishment, being both put to the fire, so which of them showed more patience and constancy in the time of their suffering, it is hard to be said.
And though Polycarp, being set in the flame (as the story saith), was kept by miracle from the torment of the fire, till he was stricken down with weapon, and so despatched: yet Hooper, by no less miracle, armed with patience and fervent spirit of God’s comfort, so quietly despised the violence thereof, as though he had felt little more than did Polycarp, in the fire flaming round about him.
Moreover, as it is written of Polycarp, when he should have been tied to the stake, he required to stand untied, saying these words: 15 “Let me alone I pray you; for he that gave me strength to come to this fire, will also give me patience to abide in the same without your tying.” So likewise Hooper, with the like spirit, when he should have been tied with three chains to the stake, requiring them to have no such mistrust of him, was tied but with one; who, if he had not been tied at all, yet, no doubt, would have no less answered to that great patience of Polycarp.
And as the end of them was both much agreeing, so the life of them both was such, as might seem not far discrepant. In teaching, alike diligent both; in zeal fervent, in life unspotted, in manners and conversation inculpable: bishops and also martyrs both. Briefly, in teaching so pithy and fruitful, that as they both were joined together in one spirit, so might they be joined in one name together — Polu>karpov to wit; much fruitful; to which name also; o]pwrov is not much unlike. In this the martyrdom of master Hooper may seem in suffering to go before, though in time it followed the martyrdom of Polycarp, for that he was both longer in prison, and there also so cruelly handled by the malice of his keepers, as I think none of the old martyrs ever suffered the like. To this also add, how he was degraded by Bonner with such contumelies and reproaches, as I think, in Polycarp’s time, was not used to any.
And as we have hitherto compared these two good martyrs together, so now if we should compare the enemies and authors of their death one with the other, we should find no inequality betwixt them both, but that the adversaries of master Hooper seemed to be more cruel and unmerciful. For they that put Polycarp to death, yet ministered to him a quick despatch, moved belike by some compassion not to have him stand in the torment; whereas the tormentors of master Hooper suffered him, without all compassion, to stand three quarters of an hour in the fire. And as touching the chief doers and authors of his martyrdom, what consul or proconsul was there to be conferred with the chancellor here, which brought this martyr to his burning? Let this suffice.
This good bishop and servant of God, being in prison, wrote divers books and treatises, to the number of twenty — four, whereof some he wrote to the parliament in Latin, and one to the bishop of Chichester, Dr. Day: besides he wrote of the sacraments, of the Lord’s prayer, and of the ten commandments, with divers others. HERE FOLLOW CERTAIN OF MASTER HOOPER’S LETTERS.
As you have heard the whole story of the life and martyrdom of this good man declared; so now let us consequently adjoin some part of his letters, written in the time of his imprisonment, most fruitful and worthy to be read, especially in these dangerous days, of all true Christians, who, by true mortification, seek to serve and follow the Lord through all tempests and storms of this malignant world, as by the reading and perusing of the said letters, you shall better feel and understand. A LETTER OF MASTER HOOPER TO CERTAIN GODLY PROFESSORS AND LOVERS OF THE TRUTH Instructing them how to behave themselves in that woeful Alteration and Change of Religion.
It is told me, that the wicked idol, the mass, is established again by law, and passed in the parliament — house. Learn the truth of it, I pray you, and what penalty is appointed in the act to such as speak against it; also whether there be any compulsion to constrain men to be at it. The statute thoroughly known, such as be abroad and at liberty may provide for themselves, and avoid the danger the better. Doubtless there hath not been seen, before our time, such a parliament as this is, that as many as were suspected to be favorers of God’s word, should be banished out of both houses. But we must give God thanks for that truth he hath opened in the time of his blessed servant king Edward the Sixth, and pray unto him that we deny it not, nor dishonor it with idolatry; but that we may have strength and patience rather to die ten times than to deny him once.
Blessed shall we be, if ever God make us worthy of that honor to shed our blood for his name’s sake; and blessed then shall we think the parents which brought us into the world, that we should, from this mortality, be carried into immortality. If we follow the commandment of St. Paul, that saith, “If ye then be risen again with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God;” (Colossians 3) we shall neither depart from the vain transitory goods of this world, nor from this wretched and mortal life, with so great pains as others do.
Let us pray to our heavenly Father, that we may know and love his blessed will, and the glorious joy prepared for us in time to come; and that we may know and hate all things contrary to his blessed will, and also the pain prepared for the wicked in the world to come. There is no better way to be used in this troublesome time for your consolation, than many times to have assemblies together of such men and women as be of your religion in Christ; and there to talk and renew amongst yourselves the truth of your religion, to see what ye be by the word of God, and to remember what ye were before ye came to the knowledge thereof; to weigh and confer the dreams and false lies of the preachers that now preach, with the word of God that retaineth all truth: and by such talk and familiar resorting together, ye shall the better find out all their lies that now go about to deceive you, and also both know and love the truth that God hath opened to us. It is much requisite, that the members of Christ comfort one another, make prayers together, confer one with another: so shall ye be the stronger, and God’s Spirit shall not be absent from you, but in the midst of you, to teach you, to comfort you, to make you wise in all godly things, patient in adversity, and strong in persecution.
Ye see how the congregation of the wicked, by helping one another, make their wicked religion and themselves strong against God’s truth and his people. If ye may have some learned man, that can, out of the Scriptures, speak unto you of faith, and true honoring of God; also that can show you the descent of Christ’s church from the beginning of it until this day, that ye may perceive, by the life of our forefathers, these two things; the one, that Christ’s words, which said that all his must suffer persecution and trouble in the world, be true; the other, that none of all his, before our time, escaped trouble — then shall ye perceive, that it is but a folly for one that professeth Christ truly, to look for the love of the world.
Thus shall ye learn to bear trouble, and to exercise your religion, and feel indeed that Christ’s words be true, “In the world, ye shall suffer persecution.” (John 10) And when ye shall feel your religion indeed, say, “Ye be no better than your forefathers;” but be glad, that ye may be counted worthy soldiers for this war. And pray God when ye come together, that he will use and order you and your doings to these three ends, which ye must take heed to: the first, that ye glorify God; the next, that ye edify the church and congregation; the third, that ye profit your own souls.
In all your doings beware ye be not deceived. For although this time be not yet so bloody and tyrannous as the time of our forefathers, that could not bear the name of Christ without danger of life and goods; yet is our time more perilous both for body and soul. Therefore of us Christ said, “Think ye, when the Son of man cometh, he shall find faith upon the earth?” (Luke 18) He said not, Think ye, he shall find any man or woman christened, and in name a Christian? But he spake of the faith that saveth the christian man in Christ. And doubtless the scarcity of faith is now more (and will, I fear, increase) than it was in the time of the greatest tyrants that ever were; and no marvel why. Read the sixth chapter of St.
John’s Revelation, and ye shall perceive, amongst other things, that at the opening of the fourth seal came out a pale horse, “and he that sat upon him was called Death, and hell followed him.” This horse, is the time wherein hypocrites and dissemblers entered into the church under the pretence of true religion, as monks, friars, nuns, massing — priests, with such others, that hath killed more souls with heresy and superstition, than all the tyrants that ever were, who killed bodies by fire, sword, or banishment, as it appeareth: by his name that sitteth upon the horse, who is called Death: for all souls that, leave Christ, and trust to these hypocrites, live to the devil in everlasting pain, as is declared by him that followeth the pale horse which is hell.
These pretensed and pale hypocrites have stirred the earthquakes, that is to wit, the princes of the world, against Christ’s church; and have also darkened the sun, and made the moon bloody, and have caused the stars to fall from heaven: that is to say, have darkened with mists, and daily do darken (as ye hear by their sermons), the clear sun of God’s most pure word. The moon, which be God’s true preachers, which fetch only light at the sun of God’s word, are turned into blood, prisons, and chains, that their light cannot shine unto the world as they would: whereupon it cometh to pass, that the stars, that is to say, christian people, fall from heaven, that is to wit, from God’s most true word to hypocrisy, most devilish superstition, and idolatry. Let some learned man show you all the articles of your belief and monument of christian faith, from the time of Christ hitherto, and ye shall perceive that there was never mention of such articles as these hypocrites teach. God bless you, and pray for me as I do for you.
TO MASTER FERRAR, BISHOP OF ST. DAVID’S, DR. TAYLOR, MASTER BRADFORD, AND MASTER PHILPOT, PRISONERS IN THE KING’S BENCH IN SOUTHWARK.
The grace of God be with you, Amen. I am advertised by divers, as well such as love the truth, as also by such as yet be not come unto it, that ye and I shall be carried shortly to Cambridge, there to dispute for the faith, and for the religion of Christ (which is most true) that we have and do profess. I am (as I doubt not ye be) in Christ ready, not only to go to Cambridge, but also to suffer, by God’s help, death itself in the maintenance thereof. Weston and his complices have obtained forth the commission already; and speedily, most like, he will put it in execution. Wherefore, dear brethren, I do advertise you of the thing before, for divers causes.
The one to comfort you in the Lord, that the time draweth near and is at hand, that we shall testify before God’s enemies God’s truth: the next, that ye should prepare yourselves the better for it: the third, to show you what ways I think ourselves were best to use in this matter, and also to hear of you your better advice, if mine be not good. Ye know such as shall be censors and judges over us breathe and thirst for our blood; and whether we, by God’s help, overcome after the word of God, or by force and subtlety of our adversaries be overcome, this will be the conclusion: our adversaries will say, they overcome; and ye perceive how they report of those great learned men and godly personages at Oxford.
Wherefore I mind never to answer them, except I have books present, because they use not only false allegation of the doctors, but also a piece of the doctors against the whole course of the doctors’ mind. The next, that we may have sworn notaries, to take things spoken indifferently: which will be very hard to have, for the adversaries will have the oversight of all things, and then make theirs better than it was; and ours worse than it was. Then, if we see that two or three, or more, will speak together, or with scoffs and taunts illude and mock us; I suppose it were best to appeal, to be heard before the queen and the whole council, and that would much set forth the glory of God. For many of them know already the truth, many of them err rather of zeal than malice, and the others that be indurate should be answered fully to their shame, I doubt not; although to our smart and blood — shedding. For of this I am assured, that the commissioners appointed to hear us and judge us, mean nothing less than to hear the cause indifferently; for they be enemies unto us and our cause, and be at a point already to give sentence against us: so that if it were possible, with St.
Wherefore, my dear brethren in the mercy of Jesus Christ, I would be glad to know your advice this day or to — morrow; for shortly we shall begone, and I verily suppose that we shall not company together, but be kept one abroad from another. They will deny our appeal, yet let us challenge the appeal, and take witness thereof, of such as be present, and require for indifferency of hearing and judgment, to be heard either before the queen and the council, or else before all the parliament, as they were used in king Edward’s days. Further, for my part I will require both books and time to answer. We have been prisoners now three quarters of a year, and have lacked our books; and our memories, by close keeping and ingratitude of their parts, be not so present and quick as theirs be. I trust God will be with us, yea, I doubt not but he will, and teach us to do all things in his cause godly and constantly. If our adversaries, that shall be our judges, may have their purpose, we shall dispute one day, be condemned the next day, and suffer the third day. And yet is there no law to condemn us (as far as I know), and so one of the Convocation — house said this week to Dr. Weston. To whom Weston made this answer, “It forceth not,” quoth he, “for a law: we have commission to proceed with them.
Now, how soon a man may have such a commission at my lord chancellor’s hand, you know. It is as hard to be obtained as an indictment for Christ at Caiaphas’s hand. Besides that the bishops, having the queen so upon their sides, may do all things both without the advice, and also the knowledge of the rest of the lords of the temporality; who, at this present, have found out the mark that the bishop shot at, and doubtless be not pleased with their doings. I pray you help, that our brother Saunders, and the rest in the Marshalsea, may understand these things, and send me your answer betime. “Judas sleepeth not; neither know we the day nor the hour.” 18 “The Lord Jesus Christ with his holy Spirit, comfort and strengthen us all. Amen.” May 6, anno 1554.
AN EXHORTATION TO PATIENCE, SENT TO HIS GODLY WIFE ANNE HOOPER; Whereby all the true Members of Christ may take Comfort and Courage to suffer Trouble and Affliction for the Profession of his holy Gospel.
Our Savior Jesus Christ — dearly beloved, and my godly wife — in St. Matthew’s gospel said to his disciples, “That it was necessary scandals should come:” (Matthew 18) and that they could not be avoided, he perceived as well by the condition of those that should perish and be lost for ever in the world to come, as also by their affliction that should he saved. For he saw the greatest part of the people should contemn and neglect whatsoever true doctrine or godly ways should be showed unto them, or else receive and use it as they thought good to serve their pleasures, without any profit to their souls at all, not caring whether they lived as they were commanded by God’s word or not; but would think it sufficient, to be counted to have the name of a christian man, with such works and fruits of his profession and Christianity, as his rafflers and elders, after their custom and manner, esteem and take to be good fruits and faithful works; and will not try them by the word of God at all. These men, by the just judgment of God, be delivered unto the craft and subtilty of the devil, (Matthew 24) that they may be kept by one scandalous stumbling — block or other, that they never come unto Christ, who came to save those that were lost; as ye may see how God delivereth wicked men up unto their own lusts; (Romans 1:24; 1 Thessalonians 2) to do one mischief after another; careless, until they come into a reprobate mind, that forgetteth itself, and cannot know what is expedient to be done, or to be left undone; because they close their eyes, and will not see the light of God’s word offered unto them: and being thus blinded, they prefer their own vanities before the truth of God’s word. Where such corrupt minds be, there is also corrupt election and choice of God’s honor: so that the mind of man taketh falsehood for truth, superstition for true religion, death for life, damnation for salvation, hell for heaven, and persecution of Christ’s members for God’s service and honor. And as these men wilfully and voluntarily reject the word of God, even so God most justly delivereth them into the blindness of mind and hardness of heart, that they cannot understand, nor yet consent to, any thing that God would have preached, and set forth to his glory, after his own will and word: wherefore they hate it mortally, and of all things most detest God’s holy word. And as the devil hath entered into their hearts, (John 8:9) that they themselves cannot nor will not come to Christ, to be instructed by his holy word: even so can they not abide any other man, to be a christian man, and to lead his life after the word of God; but hate him, persecute him, rob him, imprison him, yea, and kill him, whether it be man or woman, if God suffer it. And so much are these wicked men blinded, that they pass off no law, whether it be God’s or man’s, but persecute such as never offended; yea, do evil to those that have prayed daily for them, and wish them God’s grace.
For the brother persecuteth the brother, the father the son; and most dear friends, in devilish slander and offense, are become most mortal enemies. And no marvel; for when they have chosen sundry masters, the one the devil, the other God, the one shall agree with the other, as God and the devil agree between themselves. For this cause (that the more part of the world doth use to serve the devil under cloaked hypocrisy of God’s title) Christ said, “It is expedient and necessary, that scandals, should come;” (Matthew 18) and many means be devised, to keep the little babes of Christ from the heavenly Father: but Christ saith, “Woe be unto him, by whom the offense cometh.” Yet is there no remedy, man being of such corruption and hatred towards God, but that the evil shall be deceived, and persecute the good; and the good shall understand the truth, and suffer persecution for it, unto the world’s end: “For as he that was born after the flesh, persecuted in times past him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” (Genesis 21; Galatians 4) Therefore, forsomuch as we live in this life amongst so many great perils and dangers, we must be well assured by God’s word how to bear them, and how patiently to take them as they be sent to us from God. We must also assure ourselves, that there is no other remedy for Christians in the time of trouble, than Christ himself hath appointed us. In St. Luke he giveth us this commandment: “Ye shall possess your lives in patience,” (Luke 21) saith he. In the which words he giveth us both commandment what to do, and also great comfort and consolation in all troubles.
He showeth what is to be done, and what is to be hoped for, in troubles. And, when troubles happen, he biddeth us be patient, and in no case violently nor seditionsly to resist our persecutors: (Romans 8) because God hath such care and charge of us, that he will keep in the midst of all troubles the very hairs of our head, so that one of them shall not fall away without the will and pleasure of our heavenly Father. Whether the hair, therefore, tarry on the head, or fall from the head, it is the will of the Father. And seeing he hath such care for the hairs of our head, how much more doth he care for our life itself? Wherefore let God’s adversaries do what they list, whether they take life or take it not, they can do us no hurt: for their cruelty hath no further power than God permitteth them; and that which cometh unto us by the will of our heavenly Father can be no harm, no loss, neither destruction unto us; but rather gain, wealth, and felicity. For all troubles and adversity that chance to such as be of God, by the will of the heavenly Father, can be none other but gain and advantage.
That the spirit of man may feel these consolations, the giver of them the heavenly Father must be prayed unto for the merits of Christ’s passion: for it is not the nature of man that can be contented, until it be regenerated and possessed with God’s Spirit, to bear patiently the troubles of the mind or of the body. (James 1; 1 Corinthians 8:1) When the mind and heart of a man seeth on every side sorrow and heaviness, and the worldly eye beholdeth nothing but such things as be troublous and wholly bent to rob the poor of that he hath, and also to take from him his life: except the man weigh these brittle and uncertain treasures that be taken from him, with the riches of the life to come; and this life of the body, with the life in Christ’s precious blood; and so, for the love and certainty of the heavenly joys, contemn all things present — doubtless he shall never be able to bear the loss of goods, life, or any other thing of this world.
Therefore St. Paul giveth a godly and necessary lesson to all men in this short and transitory life, and therein showeth how a man may best bear the iniquities and troubles of this world: “If ye be risen again with Christ,” saith he, “seek the things which are above; where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God the Father.” (Colossians 3) Wherefore, the christian man’s faith must be always upon the resurrection of Christ, when he is in trouble; and in that glorious resurrection he shall not only see continual and perpetual joy and consolation, but also the victory and triumph over all persecution, trouble, sin, death, hell, the devil, and all other tyrants and persecutors of Christ and of Christ’s people: the tears and weeping of the faithful dried up; their wounds healed; their bodies made immortal in joy; their souls for ever praising the Lord, in conjunction and society everlasting with the blessed company of God’s elect, in perpetual joy. But the words of St. Paul in that place, if they be not marked, shall do little profit to the reader or hearer, and give him no patience at all in this impatient and cruel world.
In this first part St. Paul commandeth us, “to think or set our affections on things that are above.” When he biddeth us seek the things that are above, he requireth that our minds never cease from prayer and study in God’s word, until we see, know, and understand, the vanities of this world; the shortness and misery of this life, and the treasures of the world to come; the immortality thereof, the joys of that life; and so never cease seeking, until such time as we know certainly and be persuaded, what a blessed man he is, that seeketh the one and findeth it, and careth not for the other though he lose it. And in seeking, to have right judgment between the life present and the life to come, we shall find how little the pains, imprisonment, slanders, lies, and death itself is, in this world, in respect of pains everlasting, the prison infernal, and dungeon of hell, the sentence of God’s just judgment, and everlasting death.
For man’s knowledge many times seeth the best, and knoweth that there is a life to come, better than this life present; as you may see how, daily, men and women can praise and commend, yea and wish for, heaven, and to be at rest there, yet they set not their affection upon it: they do more affect and love indeed a trifle of nothing in this world that pleaseth their affection, than the treasure of all treasures in heaven, which their own judgment saith is better than all worldly things. “Wherefore we must set our affections upon the things that be above; that is to say, when any thing, worse than heaven, upon the earth, offereth itself to be ours, if we will give our good wills to it, and love it in our hearts, then ought we to see, by the judgment of God’s word, whether we may have the world without offense of God, and such things as be for this worldly life without his displeasure. If we cannot, St. Paul’s commandment must take place, “Set your affections on things that are above.” If the riches of this world may not be gotten nor kept by God’s law, neither our lives be continued without the denial of his honor, we must set our affection upon the riches and life that is above, and not upon things that be on the earth. Therefore this second commandment of St. Paul requireth, that as our minds judge heavenly things to be better than things upon the earth, and the life to come better than the life present: so we should choose them before other, and prefer them, and have such affection to the best, that in no case we set the worst before it, as the most part of the world doth and hath done; for they choose the best and approve it, and yet follow the worst.
But these things, my godly wife, require rather cogitation, meditation, and prayer; than words or talk. They be easy to be spoken, of, but not so easy to be used and practiced. Wherefore, seeing they be God’s gifts, and none of ours, to have as our own when we would, we must seek them at our heavenly Father’s hand, who seeth, and is privy how poor and wretched we be, and how naked, how spoiled and destitute of all his blessed gifts we be, by reason of sin. He did command therefore his disciples, (Matthew 24, Luke 21) when he showed them that they should take patiently the state of this present life, full of troubles and persecution, to pray that they might well escape those troubles that were to come, and be able to stand before the Son of man. When you find yourself too much oppressed (as every man shall be sometimes with the fear of God’s judgment), use the seventy — seventh Psalms that beginneth, “I will cry unto God with my voice, and he shall hearken unto me:” in which Psalms is both godly doctrine and great consolation unto the man or woman that is in anguish of mind. Use also in such trouble the eighty — eighth Psalm, wherein is contained the prayer of a man that was brought into extreme anguish and misery, and being vexed with adversaries and persecutions, saw nothing but death and hell. And although he felt in himself, that he had not only man, but also God angry towards him, yet he by prayer, humbly resorted unto God, as the only port of consolation, and, in the midst of his desperate state of trouble, put the hope of his salvation in him, whom he felt his enemy.
Howbeit no man of himself can do this; but the Spirit of God, that striketh the man’s heart with fear — prayeth for the man stricken and feared, (Romans 8) with unspeakable groanings. And when you feel yourself, or know any other, oppressed after such sort, be glad; for, after that God hath made you to know what you be of yourself, he will doubtless show you comfort, and declare unto you what you be in Christ his only Son; and use prayer often, for that is the means whereby God will be sought unto for his gifts.
These Psalms be for the purpose, when the mind can take no understanding, nor the heart any joy, of God’s promises: and therefore were the sixth, twenty — second, thirtieth, thirty — first, thirty — eighth, and sixty — ninth Psalms also made, from the which you shall learn both patience and consolation. (Ecclesiaastes 4; Colossians 3) Remember, that although your life (as all Christian men’s be) be hid, and appeareth not what it is, yet it is safe (as St. Paul saith) with God in Christ: and when Christ shall appear, then shall our lives be made open with him in glory.
But, in the mean time, with seeking and setting our affections upon the things that be above, we must patiently suffer whatsoever God shall send unto us in this mortal life. Notwithstanding, it might fortune that some would say, “Who is so perfect, that can let all things pass as they come, and have no care of them; suffer all things, and feel nothing; be tempted of the devil, the world, and the flesh, and be not troubled?” Verily no man living. But this I say, that, in the strength of Jesus Christ things that come may pass with care, for we be worldly; and yet are we not carried with them from Christ, for we be in him godly. We may suffer things, and feel them as mortal men, yet bear them and overcome them as christian men. We may be tempted of the devil, the flesh, and the world; but yet, although those things pinch, they do not pierce, and, although they work sin in us, yet in Christ no damnation to those that be grafted in him. Hereof may the christian man learn both consolation and patience: (Romans 8) consolation, in that he is compelled both in his body and goods to feel pain and loss; and in the soul heaviness and anguish of mind: howbeit none of them both shall separate him from the love that God beareth him in Christ. He may learn patience, forasmuch as his enemies both of body and soul, and the pains also they vex us withal for the time, if they tarry with us as long as we live, yet, when death cometh, they shall avoid, and give place to such joys as be prepared for us in Christ: for no pains of the world be perpetual, and whether they shall afflict us for all the time of our mortal life, we know not; for they be servants of God to go and come, as he commandeth them. But we must take heed we meddle not forcibly nor seditiously to put away the persecution appointed unto us by God. Remember Christ’s saying, “Possess you your lives by your patience.” (Luke 21) And in this commandment God requireth of every man and woman this patient obedience. He saith not, it is sufficient that other holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, and martyrs, continued their lives in patience, and patient suffering the trouble of this world; but Christ saith to every one of his people, “By your own patience, ye shall continue your life:” not that man hath patience in himself, but that he must have it for himself of God, the only giver of it, if he purpose to be a godly man. Now, therefore, as our profession and religion requireth patience outwardly, without resistance and force; so requireth it patience of the mind, and not to be angry with God, although he use us, that be his own creatures, as him listeth.
We may not also murmur against God, but say always, his judgments be right and just — and rejoice that it pleaseth him by troubles to use us, as he used heretofore such as he most loved in this world; and have a singular care to this commandment, “Gaudete et exultate,” “Be glad and rejoice;” for he showeth great cause why: “Your reward,” saith he, “is great in heaven.” (Matthew 7) These promises of him that is the truth itself shall, by God’s grace, work both consolation and patience in the afflicted christian person. And when our Savior Christ hath willed men in trouble to be content and patient, because God, in the end of trouble, in Christ hath ordained eternal consolation; he useth also to take from us all shame and rebuke, as though it were not an honor to suffer for Christ, because the wicked world doth curse and abhor such poor troubled Christians. Wherefore Christ placeth all his honorably, and saith, “Even so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” (Matthew 5) We may also see with whom the afflicted for Christ’s sake be esteemed, by St. Paul to the Hebrews, (Hebrews 11) whereas the number of the blessed and glorious company of saints appear now to our faith in heaven, in joy: yet, in the letter, for the time of this life, in such pains and contempt as was never more. Let us therefore consider both them, and all other things of the world since the fall of man, and we shall perceive nothing to come to perfection, but with such confusion and disorder to the eye of the world, as though things were rather lost for ever, than like to come to any perfection at all. For of godly men, who ever came to heaven (no not Christ himself) until such time as the world had thought verily, that both he and all his had been clean destroyed and cast away? as the wise man saith of the wicked people, “We thought them to be fools, but they be in peace.” (Wisdom 5) We may learn by things that nourish and maintain us, both meat and drink, what loathsomeness and (in manner) abhorring they come unto, before they work their perfection in us. From life they are brought to the fire, and clean altered from that they were when they were alive; from the fire to the trencher and knife, and all — to — hacked; from the trencher to the mouth, and as small ground as the teeth can grind them; and from the mouth into the stomach, and there so boiled and digested before they nourish, that whosoever saw the same, would loathe and abhor his own nourishment, before it come to his perfection.
Is it then any marvel if such Christians as God delighteth in, be so mangled and defaced in this world, which is the kitchen and mill to boil and grind the flesh of God’s people in, till they achieve their perfection in the world to come? And as a man looketh for the nutriment of his meat when it is full digested, and not before: so must he look for his salvation when he hath passed this troublous world, and not before. Raw flesh is not meat wholesome for man. and unmortified men and women be not creatures meet for God.
Therefore Christ saith, that his people must be broken, and all — to — be — torn in the mill of this world; and so shall they be most fine meal unto the heavenly Father. (Matthew 10) And it shall be a christian man’s part, and the duty of a mind replenished with the Spirit of God, to mark the order of God in all his things; how he dealeth with them, and how they suffer, and be content to let God do his will upon them, as St. Paul saith: “They wait until the number of the elect be fulfilled, and never be at rest, but look for the time when God’s people shall appear in glory.” (Romans 8) We must therefore patiently suffer, and willingly attend upon God’s doings, although they seem clean contrary, after our judgment, to our wealth and salvation; as Abraham did, when he was bid to offer his son Isaac, in whom God promised the blessing and multiplying of his seed. Joseph at the last came to that which God promised him, although in the mean time, after the judgment of the world, he was never like to be (as God said he should be) “lord over his brethren.” When Christ would make the blind man to see, he put clay upon his eyes, (John 9) which, after the judgment of man, was a means rather to make him doubly blind, than to give him his sight; but he obeyed, and knew that God could work his desire, what means soever he used contrary to man’s reason. And as touching this world, he useth all his after the same sort. (1 Peter 4) If any smart, his people be the first; if any suffer shame, they begin; if any be subject to slander, it is those that he loveth; so that he showeth no face or favor, nor love almost in this world outwardly to them, but layeth clay upon their sore eyes that be sorrowful: yet the patient man seeth, as St. Paul saith, (Colossians 3) life hid under these miseries and adversities, and sight under foul clay; and in the mean time he hath the testimony of a good conscience, and believeth God’s promises to be his consolation in the world to come; which is more worth unto him, than all the world is worth besides: and blessed is that man in whom God’s Spirit beareth record, that he is the Son of God, (Romans 8) whatsoever troubles he suffer in this troublesome world.
And to judge things indifferently, my good wife, the troubles be not yet generally, as they were in our good fathers’ time, soon after the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, whereof he spake in St. Matthew: (Matthew 24) of the which place you and I have taken many times great consolation, and especially of the latter part of the chapter, wherein is contained the last day and end of all troubles (I doubt not) both for you and me, and for such as love the coming of our Savior Christ to judgment. Remember therefore that place, and mark it again, and ye shall in this time see this great consolation, and also learn much patience. Were there ever such troubles, as Christ threatened upon Jerusalem? Was there since the beginning of the world such affliction? Who was then best at ease? The apostles that suffered in body persecution, and gathered of it ease and quietness in the promises of God. And no marvel, for Christ saith, “Lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand,” (Luke 21) that is to say, your eternal rest approacheth and draweth near. The world is stark blind, and more foolish than foolishness itself, and so be the people of the world. For when God saith, “Trouble shall come,” they will have ease. And when God saith, “Be merry and rejoice in trouble,” we lament and mourn, as though we were cast — a — ways. But this our flesh (which is never merry with virtue, nor sorry with vice; never laugheth with grace, nor ever weepeth with sin) holdeth fast with the world, and letteth God slip. But, my dearly beloved wife, you know how to perceive and to beware of the vanity and crafts of the devil well enough in Christ. And that ye may the better have patience in the Spirit of God, read again the twenty — fourth chapter of St.
Matthew, and mark what difference is between the destruction of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the whole world, and you shall see, that then here were left alive many offenders to repent: but, at the latter day, there shall be absolute judgment, and sentence (never to be revoked), of eternal life and eternal death upon all men; and yet, towards the end of the world, we have nothing so much extremity as they had then, but even as we be able to bear. So doth the merciful Father lay upon us now imprisonment (and I suppose, for my part, shortly death); now spoil of goods, loss of friends, and the greatest loss of all, the knowledge of God’s word. God’s will be done. I wish in Christ Jesus our only Mediator and Savior, your constancy and consolation, that you may live for ever and ever, whereof in Christ I doubt not; to whom, for his most blessed and painful passion, I commit you. Amen. October 13, A.D. 1553.
TO A CERTAIN GODLY WOMAN, INSTRUCTING HER HOW SHE SHOULD BEHAVE HERSELF IN THE TIME OF HER WIDOWHOOD.
I thank you, dear sister, for your most loving remembrance; and, although I cannot recompense the same, yet do I wish with all my heart, that God would do it, requiring you not to forget your duty towards God in these perilous days, in the which the Lord will try us. I trust you do increase, by reading of the Scriptures, the knowledge you have of God; and that you diligently apply yourself to follow the same: for the knowledge helpeth not, except the life be according thereunto. Further, I do heartily pray you, to consider the state of your widowhood, and if God shall put in your mind to change it, remember the saying of St. Paul, “It is lawful for the widow or maiden to marry to whom they list, so it be in the Lord;” (1 Corinthians 7) that is to say, to such an one as is of Christ’s religion. Dearly beloved in Christ, remember these words, for you shall find thereby great joy and comfort, if you change your state. Whereof I will, when I have better leisure (as now I have none at all), further advertise you. In the mean time I commend you to God, and the guiding of his good Spirit, who stablish and confirm you in all well — doing, and keep you blameless to the day of the Lord! Watch and pray, for this day is at hand.
Yours assured in Christ, John Hooper.
TO ALL MY DEAR BRETHREN, MY RELIEVERS AND HELPERS IN THE CITY OF LONDON.
The grace of God be with you, Amen. I have received from you, dearly beloved in our Savior Jesus Christ, by the hands of my servant William Downton, your liberality, for the which I most heartily thank you, and I praise God highly in you and for you, who hath moved your hearts to show this kindness towards me; praying him to preserve you from all famine, scarcity, and lack of the truth of his word, which is the lively food of your souls, as you preserve my body from hunger, and other necessities which should happen unto me; were it not cared for by the benevolence and charity of godly people. Such as have taken all worldly goods and lands from me, and spoiled me of all that I had, have imprisoned my body, and appointed not one halfpenny to feed or relieve me withal: but I do forgive them and pray for them daily in my poor prayer unto God; and from my heart I wish their salvation, and quietly and patiently bear their injuries, wishing no further extremity to be used towards us. Yet, if the contrary seem best unto our heavenly Father, I have made my reckoning, and fully resolved myself to suffer the uttermost that they are able to do against me, yea death itself, by the aid of Christ Jesus, who died the most vile death of the cross for us wretches and miserable sinners. But of this I am assured, that the wicked world, with all its force and power, shall not touch one of the hairs of our heads without leave and license of our heavenly Father, whose will be done in all things. If he will life, life be it: if he will death, death be it. Only we pray, that our wills may be subject unto his will; and then, although both we and all the world see none other thing but death, yet if he think life best, we shall not die — no, although the sword be drawn out over our heads: as Abraham thought to kill his son Isaac, yet, when God perceived that Abraham had surrendered his will to God’s will, and was content to kill his son, God then saved his son.
Dearly beloved, if we be contented to obey God’s will, and for his commandment’s sake to surrender our goods and our lives to be at his pleasure, it maketh no matter whether we keep goods and life, or lose them. Nothing can hurt us that is taken from us for God’s cause, nor can any thing at length do us good, that is preserved contrary unto God’s commandment. Let us wholly suffer God to use us and ours after his holy wisdom, and beware we neither use nor govern ourselves contrary to his will by our own wisdom: for if we do, our wisdom will at length prove foolishness. It is kept to no good purpose, that we keep contrary unto his commandments.
That can by no means be taken from us, which he would should tarry with us. He is no good Christian that ruleth himself and his, as worldly means serve: for he that so doth, shall have as many changes as chance in the world. To — day with the world he shall like and praise the truth of God; to — morrow as the world will, so will he like and praise the falsehood of man: to — day with Christ, and to — morrow with Antichrist. Wherefore, dear brethren, as touching your behavior towards God, use both your inward spirits and your outward bodies, your inward and your outward man (I say), not after the manner of men, but after the infallible word of God.
For if ye think ye can inwardly in the heart serve him, and yet outwardly serve with the world, in external service, the thing that is not God, ye deceive yourselves; for both the body and the soul must together concur in the honor of God, as St. Paul plainly teacheth. (1 Corinthians 6) For if an honest wife be bound to give both heart and body to faith and service in marriage, and if an honest wife’s faith in the heart cannot stand with an unchaste or defiled body outwardly; much less can the true faith of a Christian, in the service of Christianity, stand with the bodily service of external idolatry: for the mystery of marriage is not so honorable between man and wife, as it is between Christ and every christian man, as St. Paul saith.
Therefore, dear brethren, pray to the heavenly Father, that as he spared not the soul nor the body of his dearly beloved Son, but applied both of them with extreme pain, to work our salvation both of body and soul; so he will give us all grace to apply our bodies and souls to be servants unto him: for doubtless he requireth as well the one as the other, and cannot be discontented with the one, and well pleased with the other. Either he hateth both, or loveth both; he divideth not his love to one, and his hatred to the other.
But, alas! I know by myself, what troubleth you; that is, the great danger of the world, that will revenge, ye think, your service to God with sword and fire, with loss of goods and lands. But, dear brethren, weigh of the other side, that your enemies and God’s enemies shall not do so much as they would, but as much as God shall suffer them, who can trap them in their own counsels, and destroy them in the midst of their furies. Remember ye be the workmen of the Lord, and called into his vineyard, there to labor till evening — tide, that you may receive your penny, which is more worth than all the kingdoms of the earth. (Matthew 20) But he that calleth us into his vineyard, hath not told us how sore and how fervently the sun shall trouble us in our labor; but hath bid us labor, and commit the bitterness thereof unto him, who can and will so moderate all afflictions, that no man shall have more laid upon him, than in Christ he shall be able to bear. Unto whose merciful tuition and defense I commend both your souls and bodies.
September 2d, anno 1554.
Yours, with my poor prayer, John Hooper.
TO A MERCHANT OF LONDON, BY WHOSE MEANS HE HAD RECEIVED MUCH COMFORT IN HIS GREAT NECESSITY IN THE FLEET.
Grace, mercy, and peace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God and you for the great help and consolation I have received in the time of adversity by your charitable means; but most rejoice that you be not altered from truth, although falsehood cruelly seeketh to distain her. Judge not, my brother, truth by outward appearance; for truth now worse appeareth, and more vilely is rejected, than falsehood.
Leave the outward show, and see, by the word of God, what truth is; and accept truth, and dislike her not, though man call her falsehood. As it is now, so it hath been heretofore, the truth rejected and falsehood received. Such as have professed truth, for truth have smarted, and the friends of falsehood laughed them to scorn. The trial of both hath been by contrary success; the one having the commendation of truth by man, but the condemnation of falsehood by God; flourishing for a time, with endless destruction; the other afflicted a little season, but ending with immortal joys.
Wherefore, dear brother, ask and demand of your book, the Testament of Jesus Christ, in those woeful and wretched days, what you should think, and what you should stay upon for a certain truth; and whatsoever you hear taught, try it by your book, whether it be true or false. The days be dangerous and full of peril, not only for the world and worldly things, but for heaven and heavenly things. It is a trouble to lose the treasure of this life, but yet a very pain, if it be kept with the offense of God. Cry, call, pray; and in Christ daily require help, succor, mercy, wisdom, grace, and defense, that the wickedness of this world prevail not against us. We began well, God preserve us until the end. I would write more often unto you, but I do perceive you be at so much charges with me, that I fear you would think when I write I crave.
Send me nothing till I send to you for it; and so tell the good men, your partners: and when I need, I will be bold with you.
December 3d, anno 1554.
Yours, with my prayer, John Hooper.
TO MISTRESS WILKINSON, A WOMAN HEARTY IN GOD’S CAUSE, AND COMFORTABLE TO HIS AFFLICTED MEMBERS; AFTERWARDS DYING IN EXILE AT FRANKFORT.
I am very glad to hear of your health, and do thank you for your loving tokens. But I am a great deal more glad to hear how christianly you avoid idolatry, and prepare yourself to suffer the extremity of the world, rather than to endanger yourself to God.
You do as you ought to do in this behalf, and in suffering of transitory pains, you shall avoid permanent torments in the world to come. Use your life, and keep it with as much quietness as you can, so that you offend not God. The ease that cometh of his displeasure, turneth at length to unspeakable pains; and the gains of the world, with the loss of his favor, is beggary and wretchedness.
Reason is to be amended in this cause of religion: for it will choose and follow an error with the multitude, if it may be allowed, rather than turn to faith, and follow the truth with the people of God.
Moses (Hebrews 11) found the same fault in himself, and did amend it, choosing rather to be afflicted with the people of God, than to use the liberty of the king’s daughter, that accounted him as her son. Pray for contentation and peace of the Spirit, and rejoice in such troubles as shall happen to you for the truth’s sake: (Matthew 5) for in that part Christ saith, you be happy. Pray also for me, I pray you, that I may do in all things the will of our heavenly Father: to whose tuition and defense I commend you.
TO MY DEAR FRIENDS IN GOD, MASTER JOHN HALL AND HIS WIFE, EXHORTING THEM TO STAND FAST IN THE TRUTH.
The grace of God be with you, Amen. I thank you for your loving and gentle friendship at all times, praying to God to show unto you such favor, that whatsoever trouble and adversity happen, ye go not back from him. These days be dangerous and full of peril; but yet let us comfort ourselves in calling to remembrance the days of our forefathers, upon whom the Lord sent such troubles, that many hundreds, yea, many thousands, died for the testimony of Jesus Christ, both men and women, suffering with patience and constancy as much cruelty as tyrants could devise, and so departed out of this miserable world to the bliss everlasting, where now they remain for ever; looking always for the end of this sinful world, when they shall receive their bodies again in immortality, and see the number of the elect associated with them in full and consummate joys: (Hebrews 11) and, as virtuous men suffering martyrdom, and tarrying a little while in this world with pains, by and by rested in joys everlasting; and as their pains ended their sorrows, and began ease, so did their constancy and steadfastness animate and confirm all good people in the truth, and gave them encouragement and lust to suffer the like, rather than to fall with the world to consent unto wickedness and idolatry. Wherefore, my dear friends, seeing God, of his part, hath illuminated you with the same gift and knowledge of true faith, wherein the apostles and evangelists, and all martyrs, suffered most cruel death; thank him for his grace in knowledge, and pray unto him for strength and perseverance, that through your own fault ye be not ashamed or afraid to confess it. Yet ye be in the truth, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it, nor Antichrist with all his imps can prove it to be false. They may kill and persecute, but never overcome. Be of good comfort, and fear God more than man. This life is short and miserable; happy be they that can spend it to the glory of God.
December 22d, anno 1554.
TO MY DEARLY BELOVED SISTER IN THE LORD, MISTRESS ANNE WARCOP.
The grace of God be with you, Amen. I thank you for your loving token. I pray you burden not yourself too much. It were meet for me rather to bear a pain, than to be a hinderance to many. I did rejoice at the coming of this bearer, to understand of your constancy, and how that you be fully resolved, by God’s grace, rather to suffer extremity, than to go from the truth of God which you have professed. He that gave you grace to begin so infallible a truth, will follow you in the same unto the end. But, my loving sister, as you be travelling this perilous journey, take this lesson with you, practiced by wise men; whereof you may read in the second of St. Matthew’s gospel. Such as traveled to find Christ, followed only the star; and as long as they saw it, they were assured they were in the right way, and had great mirth in their journey. But when they entered into Jerusalem (whereas the star led them not thither, but unto Bethlehem) and there asked the citizens the thing that the star showed before: as long as they tarried in Jerusalem, and would be instructed where Christ was born, they were not only ignorant of Bethlehem, but also lost the sight of the star that led them before. Whereof we learn, in any ease, whilst we be going in this life to seek Christ that is above, to beware that we lose not the star of God’s word, that only is the mark that showeth us where Christ is, and which way we may come unto him. But as Jerusalem stood in the way, and was an impediment to these wise men: so doth the synagogue of Antichrist, that beareth the name of Jerusalem, which by interpretation is called the vision of peace, and amongst the people now is called the catholic church, stand in the way that pilgrims must go by through this world to Bethlehem, the house of saturity and plentifulness, and is an impediment to all christian travelers; yea, and except the more grace of God be, will keep the pilgrims still in her, that they shall not come where Christ is at all. And to stay them indeed, they take away the star of light, which is God’s word, that it cannot be seen: as you may see how the celestial star was hid from the wise men, when they asked of the Pharisees at Jerusalem, where Christ was born. Ye may see what great dangers happened unto these wise men, whilst they were learning of liars, where Christ was. First, they were out of their way, and next they lost their guide and conductor, the heavenly star. Christ is mounted from us into heaven, and there we seek him (as we say); and let us go thitherward by the star of his word. Beware we happen not to come into Jerusalem, the church of men, and ask for him. If we do, we go out of the way, and lose also our conductor and guide, that only leadeth us straight thither.
The poets write in fables, that Jason, when he fought with the dragon in the isle of Colchis, was preserved by the medicines of Medea, and so won the golden fleece. And they write also that Phaeton, whom they feign to be the son and heir of the high god Jupiter, would needs upon a day have the conduction of the sun round about the world; but, as they reigned, he missed of the accustomed course: whereupon when he went too high, he burned heaven; and when he went too low, he burned the earth and the water. These profane histories do shame us that be christian men.
Jason, against the poison of the dragon, used only the medicine of Medea. What a shame is it for a christian man, against the poison of the devil, heresy and sin, to use any other remedy than Christ and his word! Phaeton, for lack of knowledge, was afraid of every sign of the zodiac, that the sun passeth by: wherefore he went now too low, and now too high, and at length fell down and drowned himself in the sea. Christian men for lack of knowledge, and for fear of such dangers as christian men must needs pass by, go clean out of order, and at length fall into the pit of hell.
Sister, take heed! you shall, in your journey towards heaven, meet with many a monstrous beast: have salve of God’s word therefore ready. You shall meet husband, children, lovers and friends, that shall, if God be not with them (as God be praised he is, I would it were with all other alike), be very lets and impediments to your purpose. You shall meet with slander and contempt of the world, and be accounted ungracious and ungodly; you shall hear and meet with cruel tyranny to do you all extremities; you shall now and then see the troubles of your own conscience, and feel your own weakness; you shall hear that you be cursed by the sentence of the catholic church, with such like terrors: but pray to God, and follow the star of his word, and you shall arrive at the port of eternal salvation, by the merits only of Jesus Christ: to whom I commend you and all yours most heartily.
Yours in Christ, John Hooper.
Unto these letters of master Hooper heretofore recited, we thought not inconvenient to annex also another certain epistle, not of master Hooper’s, but written to him by a famous learned man, Henry Bullinger, chief superintendent in the city of Zurich: of whose singular love and tender affection toward master Hooper ye heard before in the beginning of master Hooper’s life discoursed. Now how loving he writeth unto him, ye shall hear by this present letter, as followeth.
A LETTER OF MASTER BULLINGER TO THE MOST REVEREND FATHER, MASTER JOHN HOOPER Bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, and now Prisoner for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, my Fellow — Elder and most dear Brother in England. The heavenly Father grant unto you, and to all those who are in bands and captivity for his name’s sake, grace and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord, with wisdom, patience, and fortitude of the Holy Ghost. I have received from you two letters, my most dear brother, the former in the month of September of the year past, the latter in the month of May of this present year, both written out of prison. But I, doubting lest I should make answer to you in vain, whilst I feared that my letters should never come into your hands, or else increase and double your sorrow, did refrain from the duty of writing. In the which thing I doubt not but you will have me excused, especially seeing you did not vouchsafe, no not once in a whole year, to answer to my whole libels rather than letters; whereas I continued still notwithstanding in writing unto you: as also at this present, after I heard you were cast in prison, I did not refrain from continual prayer, beseeching our heavenly Father, through our only Mediator Jesus Christ, to grant unto you and to your fellow — prisoners, faith and constancy unto the end. Now is that thing happened unto you, my brother, the which we did oftentimes prophesy unto ourselves, at your being with us, should come to pass; especially when we did talk of the power of Antichrist, and of his felicity and victories. For you know the saying of Daniel, (Daniel 8) “His power shall be mighty, but not in his strength; and he shall wonderfully destroy and make havoc of all things, and shall prosper and practice, and he shall destroy the mighty and the holy people after his own will.” You know what the Lord warned us of beforehand by Matthew, chapter 10, by John in chapter 15 and 16, and also what that chosen vessel St.
Paul hath written, in 2 Timothy 3. Wherefore I do nothing doubt, by God’s grace, of your faith and patience, whilst you know that those things which you suffer are not looked for, nor come by chance; but that you suffer them in the best, truest, and most holy quarrel: for what can be more true and holy than our doctrine, which the papists, those worshippers of Antichrist, do persecute?
All things touching salvation we attribute unto Christ alone, and to his holy institutions, as we have been taught of him and of his disciples: but they would have even the same things to be communicated as well to their Antichrist, and to his institutions.
Such we ought no less to withstand than we read that Elias withstood the Baalites. For if Jesus be Christ, then let them know, that he is the fullness of his church, and that perfectly: but if Antichrist be king and priest, then let them exhibit unto him that honor. How long do they halt on both sides? Can they give unto us any one that is better than Christ, or who shall be equal with Christ, that may be compared with him, (Ephesians 1; Thessalonians 2) except it be he whom the apostle calleth the adversary? But if Christ be sufficient for his church, what needeth this patching and piecing? But I know well enough, I need not to use these disputations with you who are sincerely taught, and have taken root in Christ, being persuaded that you have all things in him, and that we in him are made perfect. Go forwards therefore constantly to confess Christ, and to defy Antichrist, being mindful of this most holy and most true saying of our Lord Jesus Christ: “He that overcometh shall possess all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my Son: but the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21) The first death is soon overcome, although a man must burn for the Lord’s sake: for they say well that do affirm this our fire to be scarcely a shadow of that which is prepared for unbelievers, and them that fall from the truth. Moreover, the Lord granteth unto us, that we may easily overcome, by his power, the first death, the which he himself did taste and overcome; promising withal such joys as never shall have end, unspeakable, and passing all understanding, the which we shall possess so soon as ever we do depart hence. For so again saith the angel of the Lord:
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or on his hand, the same shall drink of the wrath of God; yea, of the wine which is poured into the cup of his wrath: and he shall be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels, and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment shall ascend evermore; and they shall have no rest, day nor night, which worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the print of his name.” (Revelation 14) Here is the patience of saints; 21 here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. To this he addeth by and by, “I heard a voice saying to me, Write, Blessed be the dead that die in the Lord; from henceforth, or speedily, they be blessed: even so saith the Spirit; for they rest from their labors, but their works follow them: for our labor shall not be frustrate or in vain.” (John 5) Therefore, seeing you have such a large promise, be strong in the Lord, fight a good fight, be faithful to the Lord unto the end.
Consider that Christ, the Son of God, is your captain, and fighteth for you, and that all the prophets, apostles, and martyrs, are your fellow — soldiers. They that persecute and trouble us, are men sinful and mortal, whose favor a wise man would not buy with the value of a farthing: and, besides that, our life is frail, short, brittle, and transitory. Happy are we, if we depart in the Lord; who grant unto you, and to all your fellow — prisoners, faith and constancy!
Commend me to the most reverend fathers and holy confessors of Christ, Dr. Cranmer bishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ridley bishop of London, and the good old father Dr. Latimer. Them and all the rest of the prisoners with you for the Lord’s cause, salute in my name, and in the name of all my fellow — ministers, the which do speak unto you the grace of God, and constancy in the truth.
Concerning the state of our church, it remaineth even as it was when you departed from us into your country. God grant we may be thankful to him, and that we do not only profess the faith with words, but also express the same effectually with good works, to the praise of our Lord!
In the mean while the godly sustain grievous persecutions, and, with great constancy and glory, through torments they go unto the Lord. I and all my household, with my sons — in — law and kinsmen, are in good health in the Lord. They do all salute you, and pray for your constancy; being sorrowful for you and the rest of the prisoners. There came to us Englishmen; students, both godly and learned. They be received of our magistrate. Ten of them dwell together; the rest remain here and there with good men. Amongst others, master Thomas Lever is dear unto me, and familiar. If there be any thing wherein I may do any pleasure to your wife and children, they shall have me wholly at commandment; whereof I will write also to your wife, for I understand she abideth at Frankfort.
Be strong and merry in Christ, waiting for his deliverance, when and in what sort it shall seem good unto him. The Lord Jesus show pity upon the realm of England, and illuminate the same with his holy Spirit, to the glory of his name, and qthe salvation of souls. The Lord Jesus preserve and deliver you from all evil, with all them that call upon his name. Farewell, and farewell eternally.
The 10th of October, anno 1554. From Zurich, You know the hand, H. B.
THE HISTORY OF DR. ROWLAND TAYLOR, PICTURE: The Martyrdom of Dr. Rowland Taylor WHO SUFFERED FOR THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD, UNDER THE TYRANNY OF THE ROMAN BISHOPS, THE 9TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, A.D. 1555 1 .
The town of Hadley was one of the first that received the word of God in all England, at the preaching of master Thomas Bilney: by whose industry the gospel of Christ had such gracious success, and took such root there, that a great number of that parish became exceeding well learned in the holy Scriptures, as well women as men, so that a man might have found among them many, that had often read the whole Bible through, and that could have said a great sort of St. Paul’s epistles by heart, and very well and readily have given a godly learned sentence in any matter of controversy. Their children and servants were also brought up and trained so diligently in the right knowledge of God’s word, that the whole town seemed rather a university of the learned, than a town of cloth — making or laboring people; and (what most is to be commended) they were for the more part faithful followers of God’s word in their living.
In this town was Dr. Rowland Taylor, doctor in both the civil and canon laws, and a right perfect divine, parson; who, at his first entering into his benefice, did not, as the common sort of beneficed men do, let out his benefice to a farmer, that shall gather up the profits, and set in an ignorant unlearned priest to serve the cure, and, so they have the fleece, little or nothing care for feeding the flock: but, contrarily, he forsook the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, with whom he before was in household, and made his personal abode and dwelling in Hadley, among the people committed to his charge; where he, as a good shepherd, abiding and dwelling among his sheep, gave himself wholly to the study of holy Scriptures, most faithfully endeavoring himself to fulfill that charge which the Lord gave unto Peter, saying: “Peter, lovest thou me? Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, feed my sheep.” (John 20) This love of Christ so wrought in him, that no Sunday nor holy — day passed, nor other time when he might get the people together, but he preached to them the word of God, the doctrine of their salvation.
He was void of all pride, humble and meek, as any child: so that none were so poor but they might boldly, as unto their Father, resort unto him; neither was his lowliness childish or fearful, but, as occasion, time, and place required, he would be stout in rebuking the sinful and evil doers; so that none was so rich but he would tell him plainly his fault, with such earnest and grave rebukes as became a good curate and pastor. He was a man very mild, void of all rancor, grudge or evil will; ready to do good to all men; readily forgiving his enemies; and never sought to do evil to any.
To the poor that were blind, lame, sick, bedrid, or that had many children, he was a very father, a careful patron, and diligent provider; insomuch that he caused the parishioners to make a general provision for them: and he himself (beside the continual relief that they always found at his house) gave an honest portion yearly to the common alms — box. His wife also was an honest, discreet, and sober matron, and his children well nurtured, brought up in the fear of God and good learning.
To conclude, he was a right and lively image or pattern of all those virtuous qualities described by St. Paul in a true bishop: a good salt of the earth, savourly biting the corrupt manners of evil men; a light in God’s house, set upon a candlestick for all good men to imitate and follow.
Thus continued this good shepherd among his flock, governing and leading them through the wilderness of this wicked world, all the days of the most innocent and holy king of blessed memory, Edward the Sixth. But after it pleased God to take king Edward from this vale of misery unto his most blessed rest, the papists, who ever sembled and dissembled, both with king Henry the Eighth, and king Edward his son, now seeing the time convenient for their purpose, uttered their false hypocrisy, openly refusing all good reformation made by the said two most godly kings; and, contrary to that they had all these two kings’ days preached, taught, written and sworn, they violently overthrew the true doctrine of the gospel, and persecuted with sword and fire all those that would not agree to receive again the Roman bishop as supreme head of the universal church, and allow all the errors, superstitions, and idolatries, that before by God’s word were disproved and justly condemned, as though now they were good doctrine, virtuous, and true religion.
In the beginning of this rage of Antichrist, a certain petty gentleman, after the sort of a lawyer, called Foster, being a steward and keeper of courts, a man of no great skill, but a bitter persecutor in those days, with one John Clerk of Hadley, which Foster had ever been a secret favorer of all Romish idolatry, conspired with the said Clerk to bring in the pope and his maumetry again into Hadley church. For as yet Dr. Taylor, as a good shepherd, had retained and kept in his church the godly church service and reformation made by king Edward, and most faithfully and earnestly preached against the popish corruptions, which had infected the whole country round about.
Therefore the foresaid Foster and Clerk hired one John Averth, parson of Aldham, a very money mammonist, a blind leader of the blind, a popish idolater, and an open advouterer and whoremonger, a very fit minister for their purpose, to come to Hadley, and there to give the onset to begin again the popish mass.
To this purpose they builded up with all haste possible the altar, intending to bring in their mass again about the Palm Monday. But this their device took none effect; for in the night the altar was beaten down: 2 wherefore they built it up again the second time, and laid diligent watch, lest any should again break it down.
On the day following came Foster and John Clerk, bringing with them their popish sacrificer, who brought with him all his implements and garments to play his popish pageant, whom they and their men guarded with swords and bucklers, lest any man should disturb him in his missal sacrifice.
When Dr. Taylor, who, according to his custom, sat at his book studying the word of God, heard the bells ringing, he arose and went into the church, supposing something had been there to be done, according to his pastoral office: and, coming to the church, he found the church doors shut and fast barred, saving the chancel door, which was only latched. Where he, entering in, and coming in the chancel, saw a popish sacrificer in his robes, with a broad new shaven crown, ready to begin his popish sacrifice, beset round about with drawn swords and bucklers, lest any man should approach to disturb him.
Then said Dr. Taylor, “Thou devil! who made thee so bold to enter into this church of Christ to profane and defile it with this abominable idolatry?” With that started up Foster, and with an ireful and furious countenance said to Dr. Taylor, “Thou traitor! what dost thou here, to let and disturb the queen’s proceedings?” 3 Dr. Taylor answered, “I am no traitor, but I am the shepherd that God my Lord Christ hath appointed to feed this his flock: wherefore I have good authority to be here; and I command thee, thou popish wolf, in the name of God to avoid hence, and not to presume here, with such popish idolatry, to poison Christ’s flock.” Then said Foster, “Wilt thou traitorously, heretic! make a commotion, and resist violently the queen’s proceedings?”
Dr. Taylor answered, “I make no commotion; but it is you papists, that make commotions and tumults. I resist only with God’s word against your popish idolatries, which are against God’s word, the queen’s honor, and tend to the utter subversion of this realm of England. And further, thou dost against the canon law, which commandeth, that no mass be said but at a consecrated altar.”
When the parson of Aldham heard that, he began to shrink back, and would have left his saying of mass: then started up John Clerk, and said, “Master Averth, be not afraid, you have a ‘super — altare,’ 5 go forth with your business, man.”
Then Foster, with his armed men, took Dr. Taylor, and led him with strong hand out of the church; and the popish prelate proceeded in his Romish idolatry. Dr. Taylor’s wife, who followed her husband into the church, when she saw her husband thus violently thrust out of his church, she kneeled down and held up her hands, and with a loud voice said, “I beseech God, the righteous Judge, to avenge this injury, that this popish idolater to this day doth to the blood of Christ.” Then they thrust her out of the church also, and shut the doors; for they feared that the people would have rent their sacrificer in pieces. Notwithstanding one or two threw in great stones at the windows, and missed very little the popish masser.
Thus you see how, without consent of the people, the popish mass was again set up with battle array, with swords and bucklers, with violence and tyranny: which practice the papists have ever yet used. As for reason, law, or Scripture, they have none on their part. Therefore they are the same that say, “The law of unrighteousness is our strength: come, let us oppress the righteous without any fear,” etc.
When the bishop heard this, he sent a letter missive to Dr. Taylor, commanding him within certain days to come and to appear before him upon his allegiance, to answer such complaints as were made against him.
When Dr. Taylor’s friends heard of this, they were exceeding sorry and aggrieved in mind; who when foreseeing to what end the same matter would come, seeing also all truth and justice were trodden under foot, and falsehood with cruel tyranny were set aloft and ruled all the whole rout: his friends, I say, came to him and earnestly counselled him to depart and fly, alleging and declaring unto him, that he could neither be indifferently heard to speak his conscience and mind, nor yet look for justice or favor at the said chancellor’s hands, who, as it was well known, was most fierce and cruel; but must needs (if he went up to him) wait for imprisonment and cruel death at his hands.
Then said Dr. Taylor to his friends, “Dear friends, I most heartily thank you, for that you have so tender a care over me. And although I know that there is neither justice nor truth to be looked for at my adversaries’ hands, but rather imprisonment and cruel death: yet know I my cause to be so good and righteous, and the truth so strong upon my side, that I will, by God’s grace, go and appear before them, and to their beards resist their false doing.”
Then said his friends, “Master doctor, we think it not best so to do. You have sufficiently done your duty, and testified the truth both by your godly sermons, and also in resisting the parson of Aidam, with others that came hither to bring again the popish mass. And forasmuch as our Savior Christ willeth and biddeth us, that when they persecute us in one city, we should fly into another: (Matthew 10) we think, in flying at this time ye should do best, keeping yourself against another time, when the church shall have great need of such diligent teachers, and godly pastors.” “Oh,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “what will ye have me to do? I am now old, and have already lived too long, to see these terrible and most wicked days. Fly you, and do as your conscience leadeth you; I am fully determined (with God’s grace) to go to the bishop, and to his beard to tell him that he doth naught. God shall well hereafter raise up teachers of his people, which shall, with much more diligence and fruit, teach them, than I have done. For God will not forsake his church, though now for a time he trieth and correcteth us, and not without a just cause. “As for me, I believe before God, I shall never be able to do God so good service, as I may do now; nor I shall ever have so glorious a calling as I now have, nor so great mercy of God proffered me, as is now at this present. For what christian man would not gladly die against the pope and his adherents? I know that the papacy is the kingdom of Antichrist, altogether full of lies, altogether full of falsehood; so that all their doctrine, even from ‘ Christ’s cross be my speed 338 , and St. Nicholas’, unto the end of their apocalypse, is nothing but idolatry, superstition, errors, hypocrisy, and lies. “Wherefore I beseech you, and all other my friends, to pray for me; and I doubt not but God will give me strength and his holy Spirit, that all mine adversaries shall have shame of their doings.”
When his friends saw him so constant, and fully determined to go, they, with weeping eyes, commended him unto God; and he within a day or two prepared himself to his journey, leaving his cure with a godly old priest, named sir Richard Yeoman 339 who afterwards, for God’s truth, was burnt at Norwich.
There was also in Hadley one Alcock, a very godly man, well learned in the holy Scriptures, who, after sir Richard Yeoman was driven away, used daily to read a chapter, and to say the English litany in Hadley church. But him they fetched up to London, and cast him in prison in Newgate; where, after a year’s imprisonment, he died.
By the way, this John Hull labored to counsel and persuade him very earnestly to fly, and not come to the bishop; and proffered himself to go with him to serve him, and in all perils to venture his life for him, and with him.
But in no wise would Dr. Taylor consent or agree thereunto; but said, “O John! shall I give place to this thy counsel and worldly persuasion, and leave my flock in this danger? Remember the good shepherd Christ, which not alone fed his flock, but also died for his flock. Him must I follow, and, with God’s grace, will do. Therefore, good John, pray for me; and if thou seest me weak at any time, comfort me; and discourage me not in this my godly enterprise and purpose.”
Thus they came up to London, and shortly after Dr. Taylor presented himself to the bishop of Winchester Stephen Gardiner, then lord chancellor of England. For this hath been one great abuse in England these many years, that such offices as have been of most importance and weight, have commonly been committed to bishops and other spiritual men, whereby three devilish mischiefs and inconveniences have happened in this realm, to the great dishonor of God, and utter neglecting of the flock of Christ; the which three be these.
Thirdly, where they, by this means, knew the very secrets of princes, they, being in such high offices, have caused the same to be known in Rome, afore the kings could accomplish and bring their intents to pass in England. By this means hath the papacy been so maintained, and things ordered after their wills and pleasures, that much mischief hath happened in this realm and others, sometimes to the destruction of princes, and sometimes to the utter undoing of many commonwealths.
THE EXAMINATION OF DR. TAYLOR.
Now, when Gardiner saw Dr. Taylor, he, according to his common custom, all to reviled him, 6 calling him knave, traitor, heretic,with many other villanous reproaches; all which Dr. Taylor heard patiently, and at the last said unto him: “My lord,” quoth he, “I am neither traitor nor heretic, but a true subject, and a faithful christian man; and am come, according to your commandment, to know what is the cause that your lordship hath sent for me.”
Then said the bishop, “Art thou come, thou villain? How darest thou look me in the face for shame? Knowest thou not who I am?” “Yes,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “I know who you are. Ye are Dr. Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and lord chancellor; and yet but a mortal man, I trow. But if I should be afraid of your lordly looks, why fear you not God, the Lord of us all? How dare ye for shame look any christian man in the face, seeing ye have forsaken the truth, denied our Savior Christ and his word, and done contrary to your own oath and writing? With what countenance will ye appear before the judgment — seat of Christ, and answer to your oath made first unto that blessed king Henry the Eighth of famous memory, and afterward unto blessed king Edward the Sixth his son?”
The bishop answered, “Tush, tush, that was Herod’s oath 340 : unlawful; and therefore worthy to be broken: 7 I have done well in breaking it; and, I thank God, I am come home again to our mother the catholic church of Rome; and so I would thou shouldest do.”
Dr. Taylor answered, “Should I forsake the church of Christ, which is founded upon the true foundation of the apostles and prophets, to approve those lies, errors, superstitions, and idolatries, that the popes and their company at this day so blasphemously do approve? Nay, God forbid. Let the pope and his, return to our Savior Christ and his word, and thrust out of the church such abominable idolatries as he maintaineth, and then will christian men turn unto him. You wrote truly against him, and were sworn against him.” “I tell thee,” quoth the bishop of Winchester, “it was Herod’s oath, unlawful; and therefore ought to be broken, and not kept: and our holy father the pope hath discharged me of it.”
Then said Dr. Taylor, “But you shall not so be discharged before Christ, who doubtless will require it at your hands, as a lawful oath made to our liege and sovereign lord the king, from whose obedience no man can assoil you, neither the pope nor any of his.” “I see,” quoth the bishop, “thou art an arrogant knave, and a very fool.” “My lord,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “leave your unseemly railing at me, which is not seemly for such a one in authority as you are. For I am a christian man, and you know, that ‘he that saith to his brother, Raca, is in danger of a council; and he that saith, Thou fool, is in danger of hell fire.’” (Matthew 5) The bishop answered, “Ye are false, and liars all the sort of you.” “Nay,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “we are true men, and know that it is written. ‘The mouth that lieth, slayeth the soul.” 8 And again, Lord God, thou shalt destroy all that speak lies.’ 9 And therefore we abide by the truth of God’s word, which ye, contrary to your own consciences, deny and forsake.” “Thou art married?” quoth the bishop. “Yea,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “that I thank God I am; and have had nine children, and all in lawful matrimony; and blessed be God that ordained matrimony and commanded that every man that hath not the gift of continency, should marry a wife of his own, and not live in adultery or whoredom.” Then said the bishop, “Thou hast resisted the queen’s proceedings, and wouldest not suffer the parson of Aldham (a very virtuous and devout priest) to say mass in Hadley.” Dr.
Taylor answered, “My lord, I am parson of Hadley; and it is against all right, conscience, and laws, that any man should come into my charge, and presume to infect the flock committed unto me, with venom of the popish idolatrous mass.”
With that the bishop waxed very angry, and said, “Thou art a blasphemous heretic indeed, that blasphemest the blessed sacrament (and put off his cap): and speakest against the holy mass, which is made a sacrifice for the quick and the dead.” Dr. Taylor answered, “Nay, I blaspheme not the blessed sacrament which Christ instituted, but I reverence it as a true christian man ought to do; and confess, that Christ ordained the holy communion in the remembrance of his death and passion, which when we keep according to his ordinance, we (through faith) eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood, giving thanks for our redemption; and this is our sacrifice for the quick and the dead, to give thanks for his merciful goodness showed to us, in that he gave his Son Christ unto the death for us.” “Thou sayest well,” quoth the bishop; “it is all that thou hast said, and more too; for it is a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead.” Then answered Dr. Taylor, Christ gave himself to die for our redemption upon the cross, whose body there offered was the propitiatory sacrifice, full, perfect, and sufficient unto salvation, for all them that believe in him. And this sacrifice did our Savior Christ offer in his own person himself once for all, neither can any priest any more offer him, nor we need any more propitiatory sacrifice: and therefore I say with Chrysostome, and all the doctors, “Our sacrifice is only memorative, in the remembrance of Christ’s death and passion; a sacrifice of thanksgiving;” and therefore the fathers called it “eucharistia:” and other sacrifice hath the church of God none. “It is true,” quoth the bishop, “the sacrament is called ‘eucharistia,’ ‘a thanksgiving,’ because we there give thanks for our redemption; and it is also a sacrifice propitiatory for the quick and the dead, which thou shalt confess ere thou and I have done.” Then called the bishop his men, and said, “Have this fellow hence, and carry him to the King’s Bench, and charge the keeper he be straitly kept.”
Then kneeled Dr. Taylor down, and held up both his hands, and said, “Good Lord, I thank thee; and from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome 341 , and all his detestable errors, idolatries, and abominations, good Lord deliver us: and God be praised for good king Edward.” So they carried him to prison to the King’s Bench, where he lay prisoner almost two years.
This is the sum of that first talk, as I saw it mentioned in a letter that Dr.
Taylor wrote to a friend of his; thanking God for his grace, that he had confessed his truth, and was found worthy for truth to suffer prison and bands, beseeching his friends to pray for him, that he might persevere constant unto the end.
Being in prison, Dr. Taylor spent all his time in prayer, reading the holy Scriptures, and writing, and preaching, and exhorting the prisoners, and such as resorted to him, to repentance and amendment of life.
Within a few days after, were divers 342 other learned and godly men in sundry counties of England committed to prison for religion, so that almost all the prisons in England were become right christian schools and churches; so that there was no greater comfort for christian hearts 343 than to come to the prisons to behold their virtuous conversation, and to hear their prayers, preachings, most godly exhortations, and consolations.
Now were placed in churches blind and ignorant mass — mongers, with their Latin babblings and apish ceremonies; who, like cruel wolves, spared not to murder all such, as any thing at all but once whispered against their popery. As for the godly preachers which were in king Edward’s time, they were either fled the realm, or else, as the prophets did in king Ahab’s days, they were privily kept in corners. As many as the papists could lay hold on, they were sent into prison; there as lambs waiting when the butchers would call them to the slaughter.
When Dr. Taylor was come into the prison called the King’s Bench, he found therein the virtuous and vigilant preacher of God’s word, master Bradford; which man, for his innocent and godly living, his devout and virtuous preaching, was worthily counted a miracle of our time; as even his adversaries must needs confess. Finding this man in prison, he began to exhort him to faith, strength, and patience, and to persevere constant unto the end. Master Bradford, hearing this, thanked God that he had provided him such a comfortable prison — fellow. And so they both together lauded God, and continued in prayer, reading, and exhorting one the other; insomuch that Dr. Taylor told his friends that came to visit him, that God had most graciously provided for him, to send him to that prison where he found such an angel of God, to be in his company to comfort him.
DR. TAYLOR BROUGHT FORTH TO BE DEPRIVED.
After that Dr. Taylor had lain in prison awhile, he was cited to appear in the Arches, at Bow — church, to answer unto such matter as there should be objected against him. At the day appointed he was led thither, his keeper waiting upon him; where, when he came, he stoutly and strongly defended his marriage, affirming, by the Scriptures of God, by the doctors of the primitive church, by both laws civil and canon, that it is lawful for priests to marry, and that such as have not the gift of continency are bound, on pain of damnation, to marry. This did he so plainly prove, that the judge could give no sentence of divorce against him; but gave sentence he should be deprived of his benefice, because he was married. “You do me wrong then,” quoth Dr. Taylor; and alleged many laws and constitutions for himself. But all prevailed not; for he was again carried into prison, and his livings taken away, and given to other. As for Hadley benefice, it was given or sold, I wot not whether, to one master Newcalle, whose great virtues were altogether unlike to Dr. Taylor, his predecessor, as the poor parishioners full well have proved.
DR. TAYLOR BROUGHT AGAIN BEFORE WINCHESTER AND OTHER BISHOPS.
After a year and three quarters, or thereabout, in the which time, the papists got certain old tyrannous laws, which were put down by king Henry the Eighth and by king Edward, to be again revived by parliament: so that now they might, ex officio, cite whom they would, upon their own suspicion, and charge him with what articles they lusted; and except they in all things agreed to their purpose, burn them: when these laws were once established, they sent for Dr. Taylor, with certain other prisoners, who were again convented before the chancellor and other commissioners, about the 22d of January. The purport and effect of which talk between them, because it is sufficiently described by himself, in his own letter written to a friend of his, I have annexed the said letter hereunder, as followeth.
A LETTER OF DR. TAYLOR, CONTAINING AND REPORTING THE TALK HAD BETWEEN HIM AND THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND OTHER COMMISSIONERS, THE 22D OF JANUARY.
Whereas you would have me to write the talk between the king and queen’s most honorable council and me, on Tuesday, 22d of January, so far as I remember: first, my lord chancellor said, “You, among others, are at this present time sent for, to enjoy the king’s and queen’s majesties’ favor and mercy, if you will now rise again with us from the fall which we generally have received in this realm; from the which (God be praised!) we are now clearly delivered miraculously. If you will not rise with us now, and receive mercy now offered, you shall have judgment according to your demerit.” To this I answered, that so to rise, should be the greatest fall that ever I could receive: for I should so fall from my dear Savior Christ, to Antichrist. 10 “For I do believe, that the religion set forth in king Edward’s days, was according to the vein of the holy Scripture, which containeth fully all the rules of our christian religion, from the which I do not intend to decline, so long as I live, by God’s grace.”
Then master secretary Bourn said, “Which of the religions mean ye of, in king Edward’s days? For ye know there were divers books of religion set forth in his days. There was a religion set forth in a catechism 334 by my lord of Canterbury. Do you mean that you will stick to that?” I answered, “My lord of Canterbury made a catechism to be translated into English, which book was not of his own making; yet he set it forth in his own name: and truly that book for the time did much good. But there was, after that, set forth by the most innocent king Edward 345 ( for whom God be praised everlastingly), The Whole Church — service, with great deliberation, and the advice of the best learned men in the realm, and authorized by the whole parliament, and received and published gladly by the whole realm: which book was never reformed but once; and yet, by that one reformation it was so fully perfected, according to the rules of our christian religion in every behalf, that no christian conscience could be offended with any thing therein contained; I mean of that book reformed.”
Then my lord chancellor said, “Didst thou never read the book that I set forth of the sacraments?” — I answered, that I had read it Then he said, “How likest thou that book?” — With that one of the council (whose name I know not 11 ) said, “My lord, that is a good question: for I am sure that book stoppeth all their mouths.”
Then my lord said, “Thou art a very varlet.” To that I answered,” That is as ill as ‘raca’ or ‘fatue,’” (Matthew 5) Then my lord, said, “Thou art an ignorant beetle — brow.” — To that I answered, “I have read over and over again the holy Scriptures, and St.
Augustine’s works through; St. Cyprian, Eusebius, Origen, Gregory Nazianzen, with divers other books through, once; therefore, I thank God, I am not utterly ignorant. Besides these, my lord, I professed the civil laws, as your lordship did; and I have read over the canon law also.”
Then my lord said, “With a corrupt judgment thou readest all things: touching my profession, it is divinity, in which I have written divers books.” — Then said I, “My lord, ye did write one book, ‘De vera obedientia:’ I would you had been constant in that; for indeed you never did declare a good conscience that I heard of, but in that one book.”
Then my lord said, “Tut tut, tut; I wrote against Bucer in priests’ marriages: but such books please not such wretches as thou art, which hast been married many years.” — To that I answered, “I am married indeed, and I have had nine children in holy matrimony, I thank God: and this I am sure of, that your proceedings now at this present in this realm against priests’ marriages, is the maintenance of the doctrine of devils, against natural law, civil law, canon law, general councils, canons of the apostles, ancient doctors, and God’s laws.”
Then spake my lord of Durham, saying, “You have professed the civil law, as you say. Then you know that Justinian writeth, that priests should, at their taking of orders, swear that they were never married; and he bringeth in to prove that, ‘Canones apostolorum.’” — To that I answered, that I did not remember any such law of Justinian. “But I am sure, that Justinian writeth, in ‘ Titulo 347 de indicta Viduitate,’ (in Cod.) that if one would bequeath to his wife in his testament a legacy, under a condition that she should never marry again, and take an oath of her for accomplishing the same, yet she may marry again if he die, notwithstanding the aforesaid conditions, and oath taken and made against marriage: and an oath is another manner of obligation made to God, than is a papistical vow made to man. — Moreover, in the Pandects it is contained, that if a man doth manumit his handmaid, under a condition that she shall never marry; yet she may marry, and her patron shall lose ‘ins patronatus,’ for his adding of the unnatural and unlawful condition against matrimony.”
Then my lord chancellor said, “Thou sayest that priests may be married by God’s law. How provest thou that?” — I answered, “By the plain words and sentences of St. Paul, both to Timothy and to Titus, where he speaks most evidently of the marriage of priests, deacons, and bishops. 12 And Chrysostome, writing upon the epistle to Timothy 348 , saith, ‘It is a heresy to say that a bishop may not be married.
Then said my lord chancellor, “Thou liest of Chrysostome. But thou dost, as all thy companions do, belie ever without shame both the Scriptures and the doctors. Didst thou not also say, that by the canon law priests may be married? which is most untrue, and the contrary is most true.” — I answered, “We read in the decrees, that the four general councils — Nicene, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon — have the same authority that the four evangelists have. And we read in the same decrees (which is one of the chief books of the canon law), that the council of Nice, by the means of one Paphnutius, did allow priests’ and bishops’ marriages: therefore by the best part of the canon law, priests may be married.”
Then my lord chancellor said, “Thou falsifiest the general council; for there is express mention in the said decree, that priests should be divorced 349 from their wives, which be married.” — Then said I, “If those words be there, as you say, then am I content to lose this great head of mine: let the book be fetched!”
Then spake my lord of Durham: “Though they be not there, yet they may be in ‘Ecclesiastica Historia,’ which Eusebius wrote; out of which book the decree was taken.” — To that said I, “It is not like that the pope would leave out any such sentence, having such authority, and making so much for his purpose.”
Then my lord chancellor said, “Gratian was but a patcher, and thou art glad to snatch up such a patch as maketh for thy purpose.’ 13 — I answered, “My lord, I cannot but marvel that you do call one of the chief papists that ever was, but a patcher.”
Then my lord chancellor said, “Nay I call thee a snatcher and patcher. To make an end, wilt thou not return again with us to the catholic church?” And with that he rose. — And I said, “By God’s grace I will never depart from Christ’s church.” Then I required that I might have some of my friends to come to me in prison: and my lord chancellor said, “Thou shalt have judgment within this week:” and so was I delivered again unto my keeper. My lord of Durham would, that I should believe as my father and my mother did. I alleged St. Augustine, that we ought to prefer God’s word before all men.
And thus much was contained in the aforesaid letter of doctor Taylor for that matter.
Besides this letter, moreover he directed another writing in like manner to another friend of his, concerning the causes wherefore he was condemned, which we thought likewise here to express as followeth.
THE COPY OF ANOTHER LETTER TO HIS FRIEND, TOUCHING HIS ASSERTIONS OF THE MARRIAGE OF PRIESTS, AND OTHER CAUSES FOR THE WHICH HE WAS CONDEMNED.
Therefore the lord chancellor and bishops, consenting to this sentence against me, be heretics. For they have given sentence against the marriage of priests, knowing that St. Paul to Timothy and Titus writeth plainly, that bishops, priests, and deacons, may be married; knowing also that, by St. Paul’s doctrine it is the doctrine of devils to inhibit matrimony. And St. Paul willeth every faithful minister to teach the people so, lest they be deceived by the marked merchants. (1 Timothy 4) These bishops are not ignorant, that it is not only St. Paul’s council, and lawful, but God’s commandment also, to marry — for such as cannot otherwise live chaste, neither avoid fornication.
They know that such as do marry, do not sin.
They know that God, before sin was, ordained matrimony, and that in Paradise, between two of his principal creatures, man and woman. (1 Corinthians 7; Genesis 2) They know what spirit they have, which say it is evil to marry (seeing God said, “It is not good for man to be alone without a wife” (Genesis 2)), having no special gift, contrary to the general commandment and ordinance, divers times repeated in the book of Genesis, which is, to increase and multiply. They know that Abraham carried into the land of Canaan his old and yet barren wife, (Genesis 12) the virtuous woman Sarah with him; leaving father and mother, and country the while, at God’s commandment.
For though father and mother and other friends are dear and near, yet none are so dearly and nearly joined together, as man add wife in matrimony, which must needs be holy; for that it is a figure and similitude of Christ and his church. They know that St. Paul (Ephesians 5; Hebrews 14) giveth a great praise to matrimony, calling it honorable; and that not only to and among many, but to and among all men without exception, whosoever have need of that God’s remedy, for man’s and woman’s infirmity.
They know that the having of a wife was not an impediment for Abraham. (Genesis 18) Moses, (Exodus 18) Isaac, (Genesis 25) Jacob (Genesis 31) David, (2 Kings 7) etc., to talk with God; neither to the Levites, bishops’ and priests’ office, (Matthew 1) in the time of the Old Testment or the New.
To be short, they know that all that I have here written touching the marriage of priests, is true: and they know that the papists themselves do not observe, touching that matter, their own laws and canons, and yet they continue marked in conscience with a hot iron, as detestable heretics in this behalf. The Lord give them grace to repent, if it be his good will. Amen.
My second cause 350 why I was condemned a heretic is, that I denied transubstantiation and concomitation, two juggling words of the papists, by the which they do believe, and will compel all other to believe, that Christ’s natural body is made of bread, and the Godhead by and by to be joined thereunto; so that immediately after the words called ‘the words of consecration,’ there is no more bread and wine in the sacrament, but the substance only of the body and blood of Christ together with his Godhead: so that the same being now Christ, both God and man, ought to be worshipped with godly honor, and to be offered to God, both for the quick and the dead, as a sacrifice propitiatory and satisfactory for the same. This matter was not long debated in words: but because I denied the aforesaid papistical doctrine (yea rather, plain, most wicked, idolatry, blasphemy and heresy), I was judged a heretic.
I did also affirm the pope to be Antichrist, and popery antichristianity. And I confessed the doctrine of the Bible to be sufficient doctrine, touching all and singular matters of christian religion, and of salvation.
I also alleged, that the oath against the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, was a lawful oath, and so was the oath made by us all, touching the king’s or queen’s pre-eminence: for Chrysostome saith· that apostles, evangelists, and all men in every realm, were ever, and ought to be ever, touching both body and goods, in subjection to the kingly authority, who hath the sword in his hand, as God’s principal officer and governor in every realm. I desired the bishops to repent for bringing the realm from Christ to Antichrist, from light to darkness, from verity to vanity.
Thus you know the sum of my last examination and condemnation.
God be praised, since my condemnation I was never afraid to die; God’s will be done. If I shrink from God’s truth, I am sure of another manner of death than had judge Hales. But God be praised, even from the bottom of my heart, I am unmovably settled upon the rock, nothing doubting but that my dear God will perform and finish the work, that he hath begun in me and others. To him be all honor both now and ever, through Christ our only and whole Savior. Amen.
And thus much wrote Dr. Taylor, concerning this matter, to his friend.
You heard in the former answers a little before, certain allegations touched of Dr. Taylor out of St. Cyprian, Augustine, Chrysostome, and Ambrose, touching the lawfulness of priests’ marriage. Now ye shall hear the places of the said doctors cited and produced out of their own books, as here ensueth.
THE PLACES OF THE DOCTORS ALLEGED BEFORE, IN DR.
This question was asked of St. Cyprian, 15 “What should be done with those religious persons, that could not keep their chastity as they had vowed.” He answered thus: “Thou dost ask what we do judge of virgins, which, after they had decreed to live chastely, are afterward found in bed with a man. Of which thou sayest, that one of them was a deacon. We do with great sorrow see the great ruin of many persons, which cometh by the reason of such unlawful and perilous companying together. Wherefore, if they have dedicated themselves unto Christ in faith, to live purely and chastely, then let them so remain without any fable, and strongly and steadfastly abide the reward of virginity. But if they will not abide, or else cannot abide, then it is better to marry, than to fall into the fire of concupiscence: and let them give to the brethren and sisters, none occasion of slander;” etc. “Certain men do affirm, those men to be adulterers, that do marry after that they have vowed chastity. But I do affirm, that those men do grievously sin, the which do separate them,” etc. “Chastity of the body ought to be desired of us: which thing I do give for a counsel, and do not command it imperiously, 17 For virginity is a thing which ought to be only counselled, but not to be commanded: it is rather a thing of voluntary will, and not a precept.” A BRIEF RECAPITULATION OUT OF DR. TAYLOR’S CAUSES Afore touched, for the Reader more evidently to see how the Papists do against their own Knowledge, in forbidding Priests’ Marriage.
First ; they know that matrimony in the Old Testament, “de jure institutionis,” is indifferently permitted to all men without any exception.
Fourthly ; they know that in the Old Testament God not only instituted and permitted matrimony to be free, but also induceth and appointeth men to marry and take wives, in these words: “It is not good for a man to he alone,” etc.
Sixthly ; they know that in the New Testament the said St. Paul not only permitteth, but also expressly willeth and chargeth men, having not the gift, to marry; saying, “For avoiding fornication, let every man have his wife,” etc, Seventhly ; they know that in the New Testament the said St. Paul not only permitteth and commandeth, but also commendeth and praiseth the state of matrimony, calling it “honorable,” and the bed-company to be “undefiled,” etc. (Hebrews 13) Eighthly ; they know that in the New Testament Christ himself not only was not conceived nor born of the Virgin before she was espoused in matrimony; but also, that both he and his blessed mother did beatify and honor the state of matrimony with their presence: yea, in the same began his first miracle.
Ninthly ; they know both by the Old Testament and New, that marriage is no impediment to walk in the obedience of God’s commandment; for both Abraham carried into the land of Canaan his old, yea and barren wife, the virtuous woman Sarah, with him: and also to Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others, their marriage was no impediment to them to talk with God; neither to other Levites, bishops and priests, in the time of both the Old Testament, and of the New.
Tenthly ; they know both by the Old Testament and New, that sinful fornication and adultery depriveth man of God’s favor and graces of the Holy Ghost, which graces especially be requisite in the men of the church.
Eleventhly ; they know in their own secret conscience, and by experience, that neither they which enjoin this vow of chastity, nor they which take it, do observe the vow of chastity. Whereupon rise inconveniences more than can be expressed: but the Lord above knoweth all, besides the secret murders, peradventure, of many a poor infant, etc.
Fifteenthly ; they know that before the time of pope Hildebrand, that is, during the time of one thousand years after Christ, marriage was never restrained, by any forcible necessity of vow, from men of the church.
After that Dr. Taylor thus, with great spirit and courage, had answered for himself, and stoutly rebuked his adversaries for breaking their oath made before to king Henry and to king Edward his son, and for betraying the realm into the power of the Roman bishop; they — perceiving that in no case he could be stirred to their wills and purpose; that is, to turn with them from Christ to Antichrist — committed him thereupon to prison again, where he endured till the last of January.
DR. TAYLOR THE FOURTH TIME, WITH MASTER BRADFORD, AND MASTER SAUNDERS, BROUGHT BEFORE WINCHESTER AND OTHER BISHOPS.
On the day and year aforesaid 351 , Dr. Taylor, and master Bradford, and master Saunders, were again called to appear before the bishop of Winchester, the bishops of Norwich, London, Salisbury, and Durham; and there were charged again with heresy and schism: and therefore a determinate answer was required; whether they would submit themselves to the Roman bishop, and abjure their errors; or else they would, according to their laws, proceed to their condemnation.
When Dr. Taylor and his fellows, master Bradford and master Saunders, heard this, they answered stoutly and boldly, that they would not depart from the truth which they had preached in king Edward’s days, neither would they submit themselves to the Romish Antichrist; but they thanked God for so great mercy, that he would call them to be worthy to suffer for his word and truth.
When the bishops saw them so boldly, constantly, and unmovably fixed in the truth, they read the sentence of death upon them, which when they had heard, they most joyfully gave God thanks, and stoutly said unto the bishops, “We doubt not, but God the righteous Judge will require our blood at your hands, and the proudest of you all shall repent this receiving again of Antichrist; and your tyranny that ye now show against the flock of Christ.”
So was Dr. Taylor now condemned, committed to the Clink 352 , and the keepers charged straitly to keep him: “For ye have now another manner of charge,” quoth the lord chancellor, “than they had before: therefore look ye; take heed to it.”
When the keeper brought him toward the prison, the people flocked about to gaze upon him: unto whom he said, “God be praised, good people, I am come away from them undefiled, and will confirm the truth with my blood.” So was he bestowed in the Clink till it was toward night; and then he was removed to the Compter by the Poultry.
When Dr. Taylor had lain in the said Compter in the Poultry a seven-night or thereabouts prisoner, the 4th of February, A.D. 1555, Edmund Bonner bishop of London, with others, came to the said Compter to degrade him, bringing with them such ornaments as do appertain to their massingmummery.
Now, being come, he called for the said Dr. Taylor to be brought unto him; the bishop being then in the chamber where the keeper of the Compter and his wife lay. So Dr. Taylor was brought down from the chamber above that, to the said Bonner. And at his coming, the bishop said, “Master doctor, I would you would remember yourself, and turn to your mother, holy church; so may you do well enough, and I will sue for your pardon.” Whereunto master Taylor answered, “I would you and your fellows would turn to Christ. As for me, I will not turn to Antichrist.” “Well,” quoth the bishop, “I am come to degrade you: wherefore put on these vestures.” “No,” quoth Dr. Taylor, “I will not.” “Wilt thou not?” said the bishop. “I shall make thee ere I go.” Quoth Dr. Taylor, “You shall not, by the grace of God.” Then he charged him upon his obedience to do it: but he would not do it for him; so he willed another to put them upon his back. And when he was thoroughly furnished therewith, he set his hands to his side, walking up and down, and said, “How say you, my lord? am not I a goodly fool 354 ? How say you, my masters? If I were in Cheap, should I not have boys enough to laugh at these apish toys, and toying trumpery?” So the bishop scraped his fingers 355 , thumbs, and the crown of his head, and did the rest of such like devilish observances.
At the last, when he should have given Dr. Taylor a stroke on the breast with his crosier-staff, the bishop’s chaplain said: “My lord! strike him not, for he will sure strike again.” “Yea, by St. Peter will I,” quoth Dr.
Taylor. “The cause is Christ’s, and I were no good Christian, if I would not fight in my Master’s quarrel.” So the bishop laid his curse upon him, but struck him not. Then Dr. Taylor said, “Though you do curse me, yet God doth bless me. I have the witness of my conscience, that ye have done me wrong and violence: and yet I pray God, if it be his will, to forgive you.
But from the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, and his detestable enormities, good Lord deliver us!” And in going up to his chamber, he still said, “ God deliver me from you 356 ! God deliver me from you!” And when he came up, he told master Bradford (for they both lay in one chamber), that he had made the bishop of London afraid: “for,” saith he laughingly, “his chaplain gave him counsel not to strike me with his crosier-staff, for that I would strike again; and, by my troth,” said he, rubbing his hands, “I made him believe I would do so indeed.”
The night after that he was degraded, his wife and his son Thomas resorted unto him, and were, by the gentleness of the keepers, permitted to sup with him. For this difference was ever found between the keepers of the bishops’ prisons, and the keepers of the king’s prisons: that the bishops’ keepers were ever cruel, blasphemous, and tyrannous like their masters: but the keepers of the king’s prisons showed, for the most part, as much favor as they possibly might. So came Dr. Taylor’s wife, his son, and John Hull his servant, to sup with him: and at their coming-in afore supper, they kneeled down and prayed, saying the litany. After supper walking up and down, he gave God thanks for his grace, that had so called him, and given him strength to abide by his holy word: and turning to his son Thomas, he said: “My dear son, Almighty God bless thee, and give thee his holy spirit, to be a true servant of Christ, to learn his word, and constantly to stand by his truth all thy life long. And, my son, see that thou fear God always. Flee from all sin, and wicked living: be virtuous, serve God with daily prayer, and apply thy book. In any wise see that thou be obedient to thy mother, love her and serve her: be ruled by her now in thy youth, and follow her good counsel in all things. Beware of lewd company, of young men that fear not God, but follow their lewd lusts and vain appetites. Fly from whoredom, and hate all filthy living, remembering, that I thy father do die in the defense of holy marriage. Another day, when God shun bless thee, love and cherish the poor people, and count that thy chief riches is, to be rich in alms: and when thy mother is waxed old, forsake her not; but provide for her to thy power, and see that she lack nothing: for so will God bless thee, add give thee long life upon earth, and prosperity: which I pray God to grant thee.” Then, turning to his wife, he said thus: “My dear wife, continue steadfast in the fear and love of God; keep yourself undefiled from their popish idolatries and superstitions. I have been unto you a faithful yoke-fellow, and so have you been unto me; for the which I pray God to reward you; and doubt not, dear wife, but God will reward it. — Now the time is come that I shall be taken from you, and you discharged of the wedlock-bond towards me: therefore I will give you my counsel, what I think most expedient for you. You are yet a child-bearing woman, and therefore it will be most convenient for you to marry.
Therefore, as soon as God will provide it, marry with some honest faithful man that feareth God. Doubt you not, God will provide an honest husband for you, and he will be a merciful Father to you and to my children; whom I pray you bring up in the fear of God, and in learning, to the uttermost of your power, and keep them from this Romish idolatry.”
When he had thus said, they with weeping tears prayed together, and kissed one the other: and he gave to his wife a book of the church-service, set out by king Edward, which he, in the time of his imprisonment, daily used. And unto his son Thomas he gave a Latin book, containing the notable sayings of the old martyrs, gathered out of “Ecclesiastica Historia;” and in the end of that book he wrote his testament and last “vale,” as hereafter followeth.
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF DR. ROWLAND TAYLOR, PARSON OF HADLEY, WRITTEN IN THE BOOK WHICH HE GAVE TO HIS SON.
I say to my wife, and to my children, The Lord gave you unto me, and the Lord hath taken me from you, and you from me: (Job 1:2) blessed be the name of the Lord! I believe that they are blessed which die in the Lord. (Revelation 14) God careth for sparrows, and for the hairs of our heads. (Luke 12) I have ever found him more faithful and favorable, than is any father or husband. Trust ye therefore in him by the means of our dear Savior Christ’s merits: believe, love, fear and obey him: pray to him, for he hath promised to help. Count me not dead, for I shall certainly live, and never die.
I say to my dear friends of Hadley, and to all others which have heard me preach; that I depart hence with a quiet conscience, as touching my doctrine, for the which I pray you thank God with me. For I have, after my little talent, declared to others those lessons that I gathered out of God’s book, the blessed Bible.
Beware, for God’s sake, that ye deny not God, neither decline from the word of faith, lest God decline from you, and so do ye everlastingly perish. For God’s sake beware of popery, for though it appear to have in it unity, yet the same is vanity and antichristianity, and not in Christ’s faith and verity.
The Lord grant all men his good and holy Spirit, increase of his wisdom, contemning the wicked world, hearty desire to be with God and the heavenly company; through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator, Advocate, righteousness, life, sanctification, and hope.
The 5th of February, anno 1555.
The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom then shall I fear? (Psalm 27) God is he that justifieth: who is he that can condemn? (Romans 8) In thee, O Lord, have I trusted, let me never be confounded. (Psalm 30) On the next morrow after that Dr. Taylor had supped with his wife in the Compter, as is before expressed, which was the 5th day of February, the sheriff of London with his officers came to the Compter by two o’clock in the morning, and so brought forth Dr. Taylor; and without any light led him to the Woolsack, an inn without Aldgate. Dr Taylor’s wife, suspecting that her husband should that night be carried away, watching all night in St.
Botolph’s church-porch beside Aldgate, having with her two children, the one named Elizabeth, of thirteen years of age (whom, being left without father or mother, Dr. Taylor had brought up of alms from three years old), the other named Mary, Dr. Taylor’s own daughter.
Now, when the sheriff and his company came against St. Botolph’s church, Elizabeth cried, saying, “O my dear father! mother, mother, here is my father led away.” Then cried his wife, “Rowland, Rowland, where art thou?” — for it was a very dark morning, that the one could not see the other. Dr. Taylor answered, “Dear wife, I am here;” and staid. The sheriff’s men would have led him forth; but the sheriff 23 said, “Stay a little, masters, I pray you; and let him speak to his wife:” and so they staid.
Then came she to him, and he took his daughter Mary in his arms: and he, his wife, and Elizabeth, kneeled down and said the Lord’s prayer. At which sight the sheriff wept apace, and so did divers others of the company. After they had prayed, he rose up and kissed his wife, and shook her by the hand, and said, “Farewell, my dear wife; be of good comfort, for I am quiet in my conscience. God shall stir up a father for my children.” And then he kissed his daughter Mary, and said, “God bless thee, and make thee his servant:” and kissing Elizabeth, he said, “God bless thee. I pray you all stand strong and steadfast unto Christ and his word, and keep you from idolatry.” Then said his wife, “God be with thee, dear Rowland; I will, with God’s grace, meet thee at Hadley.”
And so was he led forth to the Woolsack, and his wife followed him. As soon as they came to the Woolsack, he was put into a chamber, wherein he was kept with four yeomen of the guard, and the sheriffs men. Dr. Taylor, as soon as he was come into the chamber, fell down on his knees and gave himself wholly to prayer. The sheriff then, seeing Dr. Taylor’s wife there, would in no case grant her to speak any more with her husband, but gently desired her to go to his house, and take it as her own, and promised her she should lack nothing, and sent two officers to conduct her thither.
Notwithstanding she desired to go to her mother’s, whither the officers led her, and charged her mother to keep her there till they came again.
Thus remained Dr. Taylor in the Woolsack, kept by the sheriff and his company, till eleven o’clock; at which time the sheriff of Essex was ready to receive: and so they set him on horseback within the inn, the gates being shut.
At the coming out of the gates, John Hull, before spoken of, stood at the rails with Thomas, Dr. Taylor’s son. When Dr. Taylor saw them, he called them, saying, “Come hither, my son Thomas.” And John Hull lifted the child up, and set him on the horse before his father: and Dr. Taylor put off his hat, and said to the people that stood there looking on him, “Good people, this is mine own son, begotten of my body in lawful matrimony; and God be blessed for lawful matrimony.” Then lifted he up his eyes towards heaven, and prayed for his son; laid his hat upon the child’s head and blessed him; and so delivered the child to John Hull, whom he took by the hand and said, “Farewell, John Hull, the faithfullest servant that ever man had.” 24 And so they rode forth, the sheriff of Essex, with four yeomen of the guard, and the sheriff’s men leading him.
When they were come almost at Brentwood, one Arthur Faysie, a man of Hadley, who before time had been Dr. Taylor’s servant, met with them; and he, supposing him to have been at liberty, said, “Master doctor, I am glad to see you again at liberty,” and came to him, and took him by the hand. “Soft sir,” quoth the sheriff, “he is a prisoner; what hast thou to do with him?” “I cry you mercy,” said Arthur; “I knew not so much, and I thought it no offense to talk to a true man.” The sheriff was very angry with this, and threatened to carry Arthur with him to prison; notwithstanding, he bade him get quickly away. And so they rode forth to Brentwood, where they caused to be made for Dr. Taylor a close hood, with two holes for his eyes to look out at, and a slit for his mouth to breathe at. This they did, that no man should know him, nor he speak to any man: which practice they used also with others. Their own consciences told them, that they led innocent lambs to the slaughter.
Wherefore they feared lest, if the people should have heard them speak, or have seen them, 25 they might have been much more strengthened by their godly exhortations, to stand steadfast in God’s word, and to fly the superstitions and idolatries of the papacy.
All the way Dr. Taylor was joyful and merry, as one that accounted himself going to a most pleasant banquet or bridal. He spake many notable things to the sheriff and yeomen of the guard that conducted him, and often moved them to weep, through his much earnest calling upon them to repent, and to amend their evil and wicked living. Oftentimes also he caused them to wonder and rejoice, to see him so constant and steadfast, void of all fear, joyful in heart, and glad to die. Of these yeomen of the guard, three used Dr. Taylor friendly, but the fourth (whose name was Homes), used him very homely, unkindly, and churlishly.
At Chelmsford met them the sheriff of Suffolk, there to receive him, and to carry him forth into Suffolk. And being at supper, the sheriff of Essex very earnestly labored him to return to the popish religion, thinking with fair words to persuade him; and said, “Good master doctor! we are right sorry for you, considering what the loss is of such a one as ye might be, if ye would. God hath given you great learning and wisdom; wherefore ye have been in great favor and reputation in times past with the council and highest of this realm. Besides this, ye are a man of goodly personage, in your best strength, and by nature like to live many years; and, without doubt, ye should in time to come be in as good reputation as ever ye were, or rather better. For ye are well beloved of all men, as well for your virtues as for your learning: and me thinketh it were great pity you should cast away yourself willingly, and so come to such a painful and shameful death.
Ye should do much better to revoke your opinions, and return to the catholic church of Rome, acknowledge the pope’s holiness to be the supreme head of the universal church, and reconcile yourself to him. You may do well yet, if you will. Doubt ye not but ye shall find favor at the queen’s hands. I and all these your friends will be suitors for your pardon; which, no doubt, ye shall obtain. This counsel I give you, good master doctor, of a good heart, and good-will toward you: and thereupon I drink to you.” In like manner said all the yeomen of the guard, “Upon that condition, master doctor, we will all drink to you.”
When they had all drank to him, and the cup was come to him, he staid a little, as one studying what answer he might give. At the last thus he answered and said, “Master sheriff, and my masters all, I heartily thank you for your good-will: I have hearkened to your words, and marked well your counsels. And to be plain with you, I do perceive that I have been deceived myself, and am like to deceive a great many of Hadley of their expectation.” With that word they all rejoiced. “Yea, good master doctor,” quoth the sheriff, “(God’s blessing on your heart! hold you there still. It is the comfortablest word that we heard you speak yet. What! should ye cast away yourself in vain? Play a wise man’s part, and I dare warrant it, ye shall find favor.” Thus they rejoiced very much at the word, and were very merry. At the last, “Good master doctor,” quoth the sheriff, “what meant ye by this, that ye say ye think ye have been deceived yourself, and think ye shall deceive many a one in Hadley?” “Would ye know my meaning plainly?” quoth he. “Yea,” quoth the sheriff, “good master doctor, tell it us plainly.”
Then said Dr. Taylor, “I will tell you how I have been deceived, and, as I think, I shall deceive a great many. I am, as you see, a man that hath a very great carcase, which I thought should have been buried in Hadley churchyard, if I had died in my bed, as I well hoped I should have done; but herein I see I was deceived: and there are a great number of worms in Hadley churchyard, which should have had jolly feeding upon this carrion, which they have looked for many a day. But now I know we be deceived, both I and they; for this carcase must be burnt to ashes: and so shall they lose their bait and feeding, that they looked to have had of it.” When the sheriff and his company heard him say so, they were amazed, and looked one on another, marvelling at the man’s constant mind, that thus, without all fear, made but a jest at the cruel torment and death now at hand prepared for him. Thus was their expectation clean disappointed. And in this appeareth what was his meditation in his chiefest wealth and prosperity; namely, that he should shortly die, and feed worms in his grave: which meditation if all our bishops, and spiritual men had used, they had not, for a little worldly glory, forsaken the word of God and truth, which they, in king Edward’s days, had preached and set forth; nor yet, to maintain the bishop of Rome’s authority, have committed so many to the fire as they did.
When they were come to Lavenham, the sheriff staid there two days; and thither came to him a great number of gentlemen and justices upon great horses, which all were appointed to aid the sheriff. These gentlemen labored Dr. Taylor very sore to reduce him to the Romish religion, promising him his pardon, “which,” said they, “we have here for you.”
They promised him great promotions, yea a bishopric if he would take it: but all their labor and flattering words were in vain. For he had not built his house upon the sand, in peril of falling at every puff of wind; but upon the sure and unmovable rock, Christ. Wherefore he abode constant and unmovable unto the end.
After two days, the sheriff and his company led Dr. Taylor towards Hadley; and, coming within two miles of Hadley, he desired, for somewhat, to light off his horse: which done, he leaped, and set a frisk or twain, as men commonly do in dancing. 26 “Why, master doctor,” quoth the sheriff, “how do you now?” He answered: “Well, God be praised, good master sheriff, never better: for now I know I am almost at home. I lack not past two stiles to go over, and I am even at my Father’s house. — But, master sheriff,” said he, “shall we not go through Hadley?” “Yes,” said the sheriff, “you shall go through Hadley.” Then said he, “O good Lord! I thank thee, I shall yet once ere I die see my flock, whom thou Lord knowest I have most heartily loved, and truly taught. Good Lord! bless them, and keep them steadfast in thy word and truth.”
When they were now come to Hadley, and came riding over the bridge, at the bridge-foot waited a poor man with five small children; who, when he saw Dr. Taylor, he and his children fell down upon their knees, and held up their hands, and cried with a loud voice, and said, “O dear father and good shepherd, Dr. Taylor! God help and succor thee, as thou hast many a time succored me and my poor children.” Such witness had the servant of God, of his virtuous and charitable alms given in his lifetime: for God would now the poor should testify of his good deeds, to his singular comfort, to the example of others, and confusion of his persecutors and tyrannous adversaries. For the sheriff and others that led him to death, were wonderfully astonied at this: and the sheriff sore rebuked the poor man for so crying. The streets of Hadley were beset on both sides the way with men and women of the town and country, who waited to see him; whom when they beheld so led to death, with weeping eyes and lamentable voices they cried, saying one to another, “Ah good Lord! there goeth our good shepherd from us, that so faithfully hath taught us, so fatherly hath cared for us, and so godly hath governed us. O merciful God! what shall we poor scattered lambs do? What shall come of this most wicked world? Good Lord strengthen him, and comfort him:” with such other most lamentable and piteous voices. Wherefore the people were sore rebuked by the sheriff and the catchpoles his men, that led him. And Dr.
Coming against the almshouses, which he well knew, he cast to the poor people money which remained of that good people had given him in time of his imprisonment. As for his living, they took it from him at his first going to prison, so that he was sustained all the time of his imprisonment by the charitable alms of good people that visited him. Therefore the money that now remained he put in a glove ready for the same purpose, and (as is said) gave it to the poor almsmen standing at their doors to see him. And, coming to the last of the almshouses, and not seeing the poor that there dwelt, ready at their doors, as the other were, he asked: “Is the blind man and blind woman, that dwelt here, alive?” It was answered, “Yea, they are there within.” Then threw he glove and all in at the window, and so rode forth.
Thus this good father and provider for the poor now took his leave of those, for whom all his life he had a singular care and study. For this was his custom, once in a fortnight at the least, to call upon sir Anthony Doyle, and others the rich cloth-makers, to go with him to the almshouses, and there to see how the poor lived; what they lacked in meat, drink, clothing, bedding, or any other necessaries. The like did he also to other poor men that had many children, or were sick. Then would he exhort and comfort them, and, where he found cause, rebuke the unruly; and what they lacked, that gave he after his power: and what he was not able, he caused the rich and wealthy men to minister unto them. Thus showed he himself in all things an example to his flock, worthy to be followed: and taught by his deed, what a great treasure alms is, to all such as cheerfully, for Christ’s sake, do it.
At the last, coming to Aldham-common, the place assigned where he should suffer, and seeing a great multitude of people gathered thither, he asked, “What place is this, and what meaneth it that so much people are gathered hither?” It was answered, “It is Aldham-common 357 , the place where you must suffer: and the people are come to look upon you.” Then said he, “Thanked be God, I am even at home;” and so alighted from his horse, and with both his hands rent the hood from his head.
Now was his head knotted evil-favouredly, and clipped much like as a man would clip a fool’s head; which cost the good bishop Bonner had bestowed upon him, when he degraded him. But when the people saw his reverend and ancient face, with a long white beard, they burst out with weeping tears, and cried, saying, “God save thee, good Dr. Taylor! Jesus Christ strengthen thee, and help thee; the Holy Ghost comfort thee:” with such other like godly wishes. Then would he have spoken to the people 358 , but the yeomen of the guard were so busy about him, that as soon as he opened his mouth, one or other thrust a tipstaff into his mouth, and would in no wise permit him to speak.
Taylor, “promise must be kept.”
What this promise was, it is unknown: but the common fame was, that after he and others were condemned, the council sent for them, and threatened them they would cut their tongues out of their heads, except they would promise, that at their deaths they would keep silence, and not speak to the people. Wherefore, they, desirous to have the use of their tongues, to call upon God as long as they might live, promised silence. For the papists feared, much, lest this mutation of religion, from truth to lies, from Christ’s ordinances to the popish traditions, should not so quietly have been received as it was; especially this burning of the preachers: but they, measuring others’ minds by their own, feared lest any tumult or uproar might have been stirred, the people having so just a cause not to be contented with their doings, or else (that they most feared) the people should more have been confirmed by their godly exhortations to stand steadfast against their vain popish doctrine and idolatry. But thanks be to God, which gave to his witnesses faith and patience, with stout and manly hearts to despise all torments: neither was there so much as any one man that once showed any sign of disobedience toward the magistrates. They shed their blood gladly in the defense of the truth, so leaving example unto all men of true and perfect obedience: which is, to obey God more than men; and, if need require it, to shed their own blood, rather than to depart from God’s truth.
Dr. Taylor, perceiving that he could not be suffered to speak, sat down, and seeing one named Soyce, he called him and said, “Soyce, I pray thee come and pull off my boots, and take them for thy labor. Thou hast long looked for them, now take them.” Then rose he up, and put off his clothes unto his shirt, and gave them away: which done, he said with a loud voice, “Good people! I have taught you nothing but God’s holy word, and those lessons that I have taken out of God’s blessed book, the holy Bible: and I am come hither this day to seal it with my blood.” With that word, Homes, yeoman of the guard aforesaid, who had used Dr. Taylor very cruelly all the way, gave him a great stroke upon the head with a waster 359 , and said, “Is that the keeping of thy promise, thou heretic?” Then he, seeing they would not permit him to speak, kneeled down and prayed, and a poor woman that was among the people, stepped in and prayed with him: but her they thrust away, and threatened to tread her down with horses: notwithstanding she would not remove, but abode and prayed with him. When he had prayed, he went to the stake, and kissed it 360 , and set himself into a pitch-barrel, which they had set for him to stand in, and so stood with his back upright against the stake, with his hands folded together, and his eyes toward heaven, and so he continually prayed.
Then they bound him with chains, and the sheriff called one Richard Donningham, a butcher, and commanded him to set up faggots: but he refused to do it, and said, “I am lame, sir; and not able to lift a faggot.” The sheriff threatened to send him to prison; notwithstanding he would not do it.
Then appointed he one Mulleine, of Kersey, a man for his virtues fit to be a hangman, and Soyce a very drunkard, and Warwick, who, in the commotion time in king Edward’s days, lost one of his ears for his seditions talk; amongst whom also was one Robert King, 27 a deviser of interludes, who albeit was there present, and had doing there with the gunpowder: what he meant and did therein (he himself saith he did it for the best, and for quick despatch) the Lord knoweth, which shall judge all: more of this I have not to say.
These four were appointed to set up the faggots, and to make the fire, which they most diligently did: and this Warwick cruelly cast a faggot at him, which lit upon his head, and brake his face, that the blood ran down his visage. Then said Dr. Taylor, “O friend, I have harm enough; what needed that?”
Furthermore, sir John Shelton there standing by, as Dr. Taylor was speaking, and saying the Psalms “Miserere,” in English, struck him on the lips: “Ye knave,” said he, “speak Latin: I will make thee.” At the last they set to fire; and Dr. Taylor, holding up both his hands, called upon God, and said, “Merciful Father of heaven, for Jesus Christ my Savior’s sake, receive my soul into thy hands.” So stood he still without either crying or moving, with his hands folded together, till Soyce with a halbert struck him on the head that the brains fell out, and the dead corpse fell down into the fire.
Thus rendered the man of God his blessed soul 361 into the hands of his merciful Father, and to his most dear and certain Savior Jesus Christ, whom he most entirely loved, faithfully and earnestly preached, obediently followed in living, and constantly glorified in death.
They that were present and familiarly conversant with this Dr. Taylor, reported of him, that they never did see in him any fear of death; but especially, and above all the rest who besides him suffered at the same time, always showed himself merry and cheerful in time of his imprisonment: as well before his condemnation, as after, he kept one countenance and like behavior; whereunto he was the rather confirmed by the company and presence of master John Bradford, who then was in prison and chamber with him.
The same morning, when he was called up by the sheriff to go to his burning (about three o’clock in the morning), being suddenly awaked out of his sound sleep, he sat up in his bed, and, putting on his shirt, said these words, speaking somewhat thick, after his accustomed manner, “Ah, whoreson thieves! ah, whoreson thieves! rob God of his honor, rob God of his honor?” Afterward being risen and tying his points, he cast his arms about a bulk which was in the chamber between master Bradford’s bed and his; and, there, hanging by the hands, said to master Bradford, “O master Bradford,” quoth he, “what a notable sway should I give if I were hanged!” meaning for that he was a corpulent and big man. — These things I thought good here to note, to set forth and declare to those that shall read this history, what a notable and singular gift of spirit and courage God had given to this godly and blessed martyr.
At what time Dr. Taylor was deprived of his benefice of Hadley, there was one called sir Robert Bracher, a false pretended protestant in king Edward’s days, and afterward a deadly enemy to the same religion; who was also one of them that so unmercifully thrust Dr. Taylor’s wife and children out of the doors, as she herself yet can testify; and notwithstanding the same now since became a protestant again. This sir Robert Bracher aforesaid, coming to Hadley to the burial of a certain friend of his, and God’s great enemy, one Walter Clark, albeit he came somewhat too late to the market (as he said), yet desirous to utter such popish pelf and packware as he brought with him, he opened there his baggage of pestlient doctrine, preaching in the same town of Hadley against justification by faith, of the corporal presence, of praying for the dead, and ciricular confession; whereof Dr. Taylor having understanding by letters, writeth again to them of Hadley, directing his letter to his wife in confutation of the said popish poisoned sermon; the copy of which letter we thought not unworthy here, in the end of this story, to be annexed, as under followeth.
A LETTER OF DR. TAYLOR OF HADLEY, WRITTEN TO HIS WIFE.
I thank you for my cap; 28 I am somewhat proud of it; for it is one step from the clergy in these days. I thank God my heart is clean divided from their proceedings: for I know that no man can serve two masters, specially if they agree no better than Christ and Antichrist do. I am glad that Hadley can skill of such packing-ware as was brought thither the first day of May last past. Christ’s sheep can discern Christ’s voice from the voice of strangers, thieves, or hirelings. The pack-bringer 29 was sorry that he came too late to the funeral-market of his faithful friend. But here I will leave them both to God’s judgment, and something touch the matter whereof the packer made mention on his opening day. At the first he called the Scripture (as I hear) full of dark sentences, but indeed it is called of David, “a candle to our feet, and a light to our paths.”
Paul would have us to walk as children of light, and in any wise not to continue in ignorance or darkness. But all we in the world pertain to two princes; either to the Father of light and truth, or else to the prince of darkness and lies.
For they cry out against God’s lights, sun, moon, stars, torches, lamps, lanterns, cressets, and candles, in God’s book the Bible, provided of God’s great goodness and mercy to avoid all foul darkness, clouds and mists, or dangerous doubtful ways, in this our journey to our heavenly Father, long home, mansion-houses, and dearly purchased heritage. Isaiah, God’s faithful messenger, saith, “Woe be unto them that call sweet sour, good evil, and light darkness. Therefore cometh my people into captivity, because they have no understanding.” Our Savior Christ pronounceth error and heresies to remain among the people, so long as ignorance of the Scriptures remaineth. And hereby it appeareth to all good consciences, what they mean, which defame or accuse God’s blessed word being full of light, as though it were full of darkness.
These owls would have all day-lights scraped out of books, hearts, and churches. O Lord, turn their hearts and tongues; bow them from the way of darkness, lest they go to the prince of darkness, and be cast into the pit of utter darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth!
Now, touching the packs of wool, and the packs of cloth, I fear they were as all other wares be, transubstantiate into stocks; even his very finest, packing stuff against only faith justifying, and for the corporal presence of Christ’s body in the sacrament, for praying for souls departed, and for auricular confession. Abraham’s justification by faith, by grace, by promise, and not by works, is plainly set forth both in the fourth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, and in the third chapter to the Galatians; and Abraham’s works of obedience, in offering up his son so long after his justification, must needs be taken as a fruit of a good tree justifying before men, and not of justification before God; for then had man to glory in; then did Christ die in vain.
And whereas the sixth chapter of John was alleged, to prove that Christ did give his body corporally in his supper, even as he had promised in the said chapter, it is most untrue. For only he gave his body sacramentally, spiritually, and effectually, in his supper to the faithful apostles, and corporally he gave it in a bloody sacrifice for the life of the world upon the cross once for all. There, in his own person, in his own natural body, he bare all our sins. By whose stripes we are healed, as St. Peter proveth, (1 Peter 2; Isaiah 53) Indeed receiving Christ’s sacrament accordingly as it was instituted, we receive Christ’s body and Christ’s blood, even, as I said before, the apostles did. But the popish mass is another matter. The mass as it is now, is but one of Antichrist’s youngest daughters, in the which the devil is rather present and received, than our Savior, the second person in Trinity, God and man. O Lord God heavenly Father! for Christ’s sake, we beseech thee to turn again England to the right way it was in, in king Edward’s time, from this Babylonical, Jewish, spiritual whoredom, conspiracy, tyranny, detestable enormities, false doctrine, heresy, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy word and commandments; from this evident and open idolatry, sacrilege, simony, blasphemy, superstition, hypocrisy, transubstantiate angel of light, and daydevil, kingdom of lies, foul vain schisms, sects, sedition, apostasy, gay sweet poison, honied and sugared viperous venom, wily wolfishness, satanical subtilty, and abomination in the sight of God, and all such as put on the true spectacles of holy Scripture. I am the more plain now in this matter, because I fear greatly, that many will be too much ready to go from Christ to Antichrist, from the Bible, God’s true service and religion, to Latin lying legends, portueses, mass books, and superstition. They say their church cannot err in any point, when indeed they be not of God’s church, and therefore they can do nothing but err, even as they do almost in all cases of true faith.
But, to come again to the packer, rather than preacher, he bringeth St. Chrysostome, writing “Ad populum Antiochenum,” where he maketh a comparison between Christ’s flesh, and Elias’s cloak cast down to Elizeus, when Elias was taken up in the fiery chariot: at length he saith, that Christ, ascending up to heaven, took his flesh with him, and also left his flesh behind him in earth. The meaning of it is, he did ascend with his flesh, and left a memorial cloak 30 of the same body and flesh, which he calleth his flesh, as he in the sacramental phrase calleth bread his body, because it representeth his body; and as, in like manner of sacramental speech, a lamb was called the passover, the circumcision, God’s covenant. He took up his flesh corporally, and left his flesh in mystery and sacrament spiritually. Or it may be said, that he left his flesh upon earth; that is, his mystical body, his faithful people; whom St. Paul calleth the members of his body, of his flesh, of his bones, (Ephesians 5) In Genesis 49 there is no word of Christ’s sacrament; but there is a prophecy of Christ’s passion wherein his foal was bound, that is, his body. And whereas he speaketh there of grapes and wine, it is as that is spoken of Christ in another place, where he saith, “Ego solus torcular calcavi,” “I alone did tread the wine-press;” meaning thereby, that Christ alone suffered painful passion for the remission of sins, and for the consolation of his faithful soldiers.
It is not true, that the packer said, that Christ’s infinite power may make his body to be in a thousand places at once, as a loaf to be in a thousand bellies: for then may Christ divide the parts of his body, as a loaf is divided, and so consumed; and then might Scripture be false, appointing Christ’s body to be but in one place. (Acts 3, Philippians 3, Hebrews 3) The articles of our faith tell us sufficiently where Christ’s body is. It was never in two places at once, neither ever shall be, neither ever can be corporally and naturally; neither ever was, is, can, or shall be eaten so with any corporal mouths, as the Capernaites and the papists most erroneously and heretically do judge. If our Savior Jesus Christ hath no other body natural than is made of the substance of bread, and is in a thousand places at once, as I have often said in Hadley, we are not yet redeemed, neither shall our bodies rise again, and be made like unto his glorious body. We are sure that our Savior Christ’s body is made of none other substance than of his mother the blessed Virgin Mary’s substance. We are sure that he taketh not the nature of angels, much less of bread. Only he taketh on him the seed of Abraham, in all things like unto us, sin only except. (Hebrews 2) And this is a comfortable doctrine to us Christians, believing steadfastly, as the true catholic faith is, that Christ hath but two natures, perfect God, and perfect man. Upon this rock Christ’s church is builded, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. (Matthew 16) I speak nothing now of auricular confession, and praying for souls departed; because I do not hear what authors the packer brought in for this purpose. Sure I am that he can bring no authentical and canonical warrant for such his packware. He may say what he will of Hebricians and Grecians; and of flesh under forms, and not above forms, or above the board. He may conjure and convey, pass and repass, even what he will in such clouds and mists. He reproved the Scriptures as full of darkness, and yet is full of darkness himself. He did wittily, to bring proofs out of Jewry, Turkey, and other strange places, for his round white cake; for that such his pedlary pelf-pack is contrary to the plain simplicity of Christ’s supper. He glanced at priests marriage. He might against that have brought as ancient a doctor as any be alleged out of Hebrew, for his mass and wafer cake, that is “doctor Devil.” I marvel that he did not confute and confound St. Paul for the sentences written above the altar, of the which he made mention in the pulpit. For he, and his fellows of Oxford, be so profound, so excellent, so glorious, and triumphant clerks, that they can easily prove a man an ass, and all writers on the Bible ignorant, simple, full of errors, full of heresies, and beggarly fools. Yet they will be called catholics, faithful and true christian people, defenders of the holy mother the church: but truly they take part with the prince of darkness, with Antichrist, with Jezebel. (Revelation 2) They will not be called papists, pharisees, Jews, Turks, heretics, and so forth: but whatsoever they will be called, God’s religion had never more evident adversaries; and that in all the chief points of it: no not then, when our Savior Christ whipt such merchants out of the temple, calling them a company of thieves. (Matthew 21) God give them grace to repent! God be thanked that the nobility something of late have spied and stopped their tyranny. O unhappy England!
O more ungrateful people! sooner bewitched than the foolish Galatians. We have now no excuse.
We have undoubtedly seen the true trace of the prophetical, apostolical, primitive catholic church. We are warned to beware, lest we be led out of that way, society, and rule of religion. Now we shall show what countrymen we be, whether spiritual and heavenly, or carnal and worldly. We had as true knowledge as ever was in any country, or at any time, since the beginning of the world; God be praised there-for. If Hadley, being so many years persuaded in such truth, will now willingly and wittingly forsake the same, and defile itself with the cake-god, idolatry, and other antichristianity thereunto belonging, let it surely look for many and wonderful plagues of God shortly. Though another have the benefice, yet, as God knoweth, I cannot but be careful for my dear Hadley. And therefore as I could not but speak, after the first abominable mass begun there, I being present no more, I cannot but write now being absent, hearing of the wicked profanation of my late pulpit by such a wily wolf. God’s love, mercy, goodness, and favor hath been unspeakable, in teaching us the right way of salvation and justification: let us all have some zeal; some care how to serve him according to his goodwill written. The God of love and peace be ever in Hadley, through Christ our only Advocate. Amen.
After that Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, had got the laws and the secular arm on his side, as ye have heard, with full power and authority to reign and rule as he listed, and had brought these godly bishops and reverend preachers aforesaid under foot, namely, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ridley bishop of London, master Latimer, master Hooper bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, master Rogers, master Saunders, Dr.
Taylor, and master Bradford, all which he had now presently condemned, and some also burned, he supposed now all had been cock-sure, and that Christ had been conquered for ever, so that the people, being terrified with example of these great learned men condemned, never would nor durst once rout against their violent religion: not much unlike in this behalf to the manner of the Turks, who, when they cannot maintain their sect by good learning and truth of God’s word, think by violence of sword to force whom they can to their belief; and, that done, afterward make laws, no man under pain of heresy to dispute, or once to call in question any of their proceedings. Even so, Stephen Gardiner and his fellows, when they see they cannot prevail by trial of God’s word, and discourse of learning, neither are disposed simply to seek for truth where it is to be found, they take exceptions against God’s word, affirming it to be intricate, obscure, and insufficient to be its own judge, and therefore that of necessity it must be judged by the pope’s church: and so, having kings and queens on their side, they seek not to persuade by the word of God, nor to win by charity, but, instead of the law of God, they use, as the Proverb saith, tw~ no>mw cei>rwn, compelling men by death, fire, and sword (as the Turks do), to believe that in very deed they think not. And indeed, after flesh and blood, this seemeth to be a sure way. Neither peradventure are they ignorant how gaily this way thriveth with the Turks; and therefore think they to practice the same; at least-wise so they do, upon what example soever they do it.
And thus condemned they these godly learned preachers and bishops aforesaid, supposing, as I said, that all the rest would soon be quailed by their example. But they were deceived: for within eight or nine days after that Stephen Gardiner had given sentence against master Hooper, master Rogers, master Saunders, Dr. Taylor, and master Bradford, being the eighth of February, six other good men were brought likewise before the bishops for the same cause of religion, to be examined, whose names were William Pygot, butcher; Stephen Knight, barber; Thomas Tomkins, weaver; Thomas Hawkes, gentleman; John Laurence, priest; William Hunter, apprentice.
Stephen Gardiner, seeing thus his device disappointed, and that cruelty in this case would not serve to his expectation, gave over the matter as utterly discouraged, and from that day meddled no more in such kind of condemnations 362 , but referred the whole doing thereof to Bonner bishop of London; who supplied that part right doubtily, as in the further process of this history hereafter evidently and too much may appear. Thus bishop Bonner taking the matter in hand, called before him in his consistory at Paul’s, (the lord mayor, and certain aldermen sitting with him,) the six persons afore-named, upon the 8th of February in the year aforesaid, and on the next day, being the 9th of February, read the sentence of condemnation upon them, as appeareth in Bonner’s own registers: such quick speed these men could make in despatching their business at once.
Notwithstanding, because the death of these condemned martyrs did not follow incontinently before the next month of March, I will defer the prosecuting of their matter till I come, by the grace of the Lord, to the time and day of their suffering.
In the mean time, what was the cause that their execution was so long deferred after their condemnation, I have not precisely to say — unless, peradventure, the sermon of Alphonsus the Spanish friar 363 , and the king’s confessor, did some good. For so I find, that when those six persons aforesaid were cast upon Saturday the 9th of February, upon Sunday following, which was the 10th of February, the said Alphonsus, a gray friar, preached before the king; in which sermon he did earnestly inveigh against the bishops for burning of men, saying plainly that they learned it not in Scripture, to burn any for his conscience: 32 but the contrary — that they should live and be converted; with many other things more to the same purport. But, touching the lingering of these men’s death, as I have not certainly to affirm, so let it pass.
On the 14th of February master Robert Ferrar, bishop of St. David’s, was sent towards St. David’s, there to be condemned and executed. Touching whose martyrdom, forsomuch as it fell not before the month of March, we will defer the history thereof till we come to the day and time of his suffering.
Furthermore, this foresaid 14th day of February, the lord chancellor, and other his fellow bishops, caused the image of Thomas Becket, that old Romish traitor, to be set up over the Mercer’s chapel door in Cheapside in London, in the form and shape of a bishop, with mitre and crosier.
Howbeit within two days after his erection, his two blessing fingers were first broken away, and on the next day (being the 17th of February) his head also was stricken off. Whereupon arose great trouble, and many were suspected; among whom one master John Barnes, mercer, dwelling over against the same chapel, was vehemently by the lord chancellor charged withal, as the doer thereof; and the rather, for that he was a professor of the truth. Wherefore he, and three of his servants, were committed to prison; and at his delivery (although it could not be proved upon him) he was bound in a great sum of money as well to build it up again as often as it should be broken down, as also to watch and keep the same. And therefore, at this his compelled charges, the image was again set up the 2d day of March then next ensuing: but, for lack belike of careful watching, the 14th day of the same month in the night, the head of that dangerous beast, over whom there was such charge given, was again the second time broken off: which thing was so heinously taken, that the next day, being the 15th day, there was a proclamation made in London, that whosoever would tell who did strike off his head (though he were of counsel, and not the principal doer), he should have not only his pardon, but also one hundred crowns of gold, with hearty thanks. But it was not known who did it.
The 18th of February, queen Mary at length, after long delay, made full answer to the king of Denmark’s letters, who had written before two letters to the said queen, in the behalf of master Coverdale, for his deliverance; who at that time went under sureties, and was in great danger, had he not been rescued by the great suit and letters of the said king of Denmark. The matter and copy of which his suit and letters, as they came to our hands, we have here set forth and expressed, whereby the singular love of this good king towards the truth of God’s word, and the professors thereof, might the better appear to the world.
First, this virtuous and godly king Christian, hearing of the captivity of Miles Coverdale, of whom he had had some knowledge before (being there in Denmark in king Henry the Eighth’s time), and lamenting his dangerous case, and partly through the intercession of master Machabaeus, superintendent in Denmark, who was partly of kin to master Coverdale’s wife, made intercession by letters to queen Mary, desiring and requesting the said Miles Coverdale to be sent unto him. The date of which his first letter was about the kalends of May, A.D. 1554; the copy whereof hereunder may be seen. To this letter of the king, queen Mary answering again, declared that the said Miles Coverdale was in no such captivity for any religion, but for certain debt: so neither plainly granting, nor expressly denying his request, but using a colourable excuse for shifting off the matter, as appeareth by his second letter sent to the queen, dated the 24th of September, as followeth. Christian, by the grace of God king of Denmark, Norway, Gothland and of the Vandals; duke of Sleswick, Holstein, Stormar and Ditmarsh; earl of Oldenburgh and Delmenhorst, etc.: To the most noble princess and lady Mary, queen of England, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, etc., our most dearly beloved sister and cousin, wisheth prosperity with good and lucky success of all things.
We have received your majesty’s letter, whereby answer is rendered, and that very graciously unto our petition, which we made for the safeguard of master Coverdale, lately called bishop of Exeter. So that we perceive, though he be in danger for another cause than was signified unto us afore, yet your majesty will so regard our intercession that Coverdale himself shall understand it to have done him good. To the which regal promise, seeing we (as reason would we should do) attribute so much, that trusting unto the same, we doubt not, whereas he, being in captivity, his friends, whom we specially tender, are therefore in heaviness and care, your good promise doth call them from such sorrow and solicitude, to the hope and expectation of his assured welfare: we could not do otherwise, but render thanks unto your majesty for such your ready and gracious good-will, not only in respect of this benefit, but also of the conservation and keeping of perpetual amity between us and our realms, and so, as much as in us lieth, to omit nothing that to the nourishing and continuance of these fortunate beginnings might appertain. Neither had we ever any doubt concerning the clemency and moderation of your goodness, whom we heartily beseech Almighty God ever more and more to prosper, unto the glory of his name, and profit of the commonweal.
Wherefore, seeing your majesty writeth, that master Coverdale is in danger for certain accounts of money, and not for any other more grievous offense, we have cause on his behalf to rejoice; and therefore we doubt so much the less, that at our request he shall graciously have his deliverance given him, and be out of danger. For as touching the bishopric, by reason whereof he came in debt, we understand he yielded it up, that no payment might thereof be required, specially seeing he is reputed neither to have enjoyed it long, neither to have had at any time so great commodity of it.
Moreover, though it be possible to find some perplexity in the account, or haply some other cause, yet your majesty’s letters, offering such favor and benignity, have taken from us all carefulness and doubt; insomuch, that we think your majesty, as much as may be, will have more respect unto our honor, than to that which might of him be required. And therefore we purpose not to trouble your majesty by repeating of our petition, but to declare how greatly we esteem it that your majesty would gratify us herein: whereof we plainly hope for such an end, that Coverdale himself shall shortly in our presence make declaration concerning the benefit of his welfare obtained of your majesty. And of this we desire your majesty to be specially assured again, that we will not only omit no occasion or opportunity to requite this benefit, but also to establish and amplify our mutual love and amity between us and our realms on either side. Almighty God preserve your majesty in prosperous health and felicity.
Given at our city of Otton, 36 the 24th of September, A.D. 1554.
THE ANSWER364 OF QUEEN MARY TO THE KING OF DENMARK’S LETTER.
Serenissimo principi D. Christiano Dei gratia Daniae, etc. regi; Slesvici, etc. duci; comiti in Oldenburg, etc.; fratri et amico nostro charissimo.
Maria, Dei gratia regina Angliae, Franciae, Neapolis, Hierusalem, et Hiberniae, etc., serenissimo principi Christiano, eadem gratia Daniae, Norvegiae, Gothorum, et Vandalorum regi; Slesvici, Holsatiae, Stormariae, et Dithmersiae duci; comiti in Oldenburg et Delmenhorst, etc.; fratri et amico nostro charissimo; salutem prosperumque rerum incrementum. Cure intellexerimus ex serenitatis vestrae literis, quas hic nuncius nobis attulit, desiderium vestrum obtinendi a nobis pro M. Coverdalo subdito nostro exeundi e regno nostro et ad vos proficiscendi facultatem, facile quidem, in vestrae serenitatis gratiam, hanc illi facuitatem concessimus. Et quanquam ille natus subditus noster nondum explicatus fuerat a debitione certae cujusdam pecuniae quam nostro aerario solvere jure tenebatur, tamen majorem vestri desiderii quam nostri debiti rationem habendam esse duximus. Quin insuper animum et voluntatem gratificandi vestrae serenitati pro nostra mutua amicitia, in qua alia etiam re possum, cum opportunitas feret, libenter ostendemus. Deus vestram serenitatem diutissime servet incolumem. — Ex regia nostra Westmonasterii, 18 Februarii, anno 1555, *Vestra soror et consanguinea Maria.* The same month, the 19th day, was a certain intimation set forth and printed in the name of Bonner, wherein was contained a general monition, and strait charge given to every man and woman within his diocese, to prepare themselves against Lent then near approaching, to receive the glad tidings of peace and reconciliation sent from the pope Julius the Third, by Pole his cardinal and legate “de latere,” and so receive also the joyful benefit of absolution, being sent first from the cardinal to Bonner, and from him to every of his archdeacons to be ministered to every private person within his diocese, that would come the said holy time of Lent to his pastor or curate to be confessed, and to receive of him wholesome counsel, penance, and absolution. Signifying moreover, that as he was authorized by the foresaid cardinal, so he, for the same purpose, had endued with the like authority all and singular pastors and curates within his diocese, to reconcile and assoil from their former heresy and schism, and from the censures of the church, such as would resort unto them. And lest any scruple or doubt, rising peradventure in their consciences, should be any stay or let in this behalf, he had assigned and deputed therefore through his diocese certain learned men, to whom they might resort, or else might open their griefs to any of his archdeacons, or else come to his own person, and so should be resolved.
And therefore all manner of doubts and obstacles set aside, he straitly willed and commanded every man and woman to come to confession, and to enjoy this benefit of reconciliation, and absolution, against the first Sunday next after Easter ensuing; and not to fail. For the which purpose he had specially commanded the pastors and curates of every parish to certify up in writing the names of every man and woman so reconciled, and so forth: the copy of which intimation hereunder followeth.
THE DECLARATION365 OF THE BISHOP OF LONDON TO BE PUBLISHED TO THE LAY-PEOPLE OF HIS DIOCESE, CONCERNING THEIR RECONCILIATION.
Whereas this noble realm of England, dividing itself from the unity of the catholic church, and from the agreement in religion with all other christian realms, hath been, besides many other miseries and plagues, which God’s indignation hath poured upon it, grievously also vexed and sore infected with many and sundry sorts of sects of heretics, as Arians, Anabaptists, Libertines, Zwinglians, Lutherans, and many other, all which sects be most repugnant and contrary one against another, and all against God’s truth, and Christ’s catholic faith; whereupon hath grown such slander to the realm, such malice and disagreement among ourselves the inhabitants thereof, such treasons, tumults, and insurrections against our prince, such blasphemy and dishonor unto God, as no man’s tongue or pen is able to express: it hath pleased the goodness of God to cast his eye of mercy and clemency upon us, and to move the pope’s holiness to send his most godly messenger, the most reverend father in God the lord cardinal Pole, legate de latere, to bring us the glad tidings of peace and reconciliation, and to reduce and bring home unto the fold, the lost sheep that was gone astray: whose message, as it hath been honorably received of the king and queen’s majesties, even so the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, at the last parliament hath received it; revoking all laws the which in the time of schism were promulgate against the authority of the pope’s holiness, and restoring the same and the church of Rome to all that power which they had in this realm before the said schism, the which reconciliation was also most gladly and joyfully embraced, as well of all the clergy and convocation of the province of Canterbury, as also of many other persons — and being so great and necessary to be extended to every person of the realm, it hath pleased the said lord legate’s grace to give and impart unto me, the said bishop of London, for my said diocese, and to all such as I shall appoint in that behalf, power and authority to absolve and reconcile all and every person thereof, as well of the clergy as of the laity, and as well men as women, the which will renounce their errors, and (being penitent) will humbly require to be restored to the unity of the catholic church, — as by the letters of the said lord legate’s grace sent unto me, and from me sent unto everyche of the archdeacons within my diocese, more at large may and doth appear.
And forasmuch as [in] mine own person, as well for the multitude of people as distance of places, I cannot minister this benefit unto every private person myself, and for that also the holy time of Lent is now at hand, in which every true christian man ought to come unto his own pastor and curate, to be of him confessed, and to receive at his hand wholesome counsel, penance, and absolution: these are therefore as well to give knowledge hereof unto every one of you, as also to signify and declare, that for that purpose I have by the said authority chosen, named, and deputed, and so by these presents do choose, name, and depute, all and singular pastors and curates having cure of souls within my diocese, and being themselves reconciled herein; that they and every of them by authority hereof shall have full power and authority, to absolve all such as be lay-persons of their parishes from heresy and schism, and from the censures of the church, into the which they be fallen by occasion thereof, and also to reconcile to the church all such which shall declare themselves penitent, and desirous to enjoy the benefit of the said reconciliation.
And whereas divers pastors and curates in sundry parishes peradventure be not able to satisfy the minds, and to appease the consciences, of some of their parishioners in cases that shall trouble them, I have therefore given also authority to every archdeacon of my diocese within his archdeaconry, to name and appoint certain of the best learned in every deanery of their archdeaconry, to supply that lack; so that every man so troubled may repair to any one of them within the said deanery whom he shall like best, to be instructed and appeased in that behalf. And also I have appointed, that if, this being done, there shall yet remain any scruple in the party’s conscience, and himself not satisfied, then the said party to repair unto one of mine archdeacons or chaplains, unto whom his mind shall be most inclined, or else to repair unto mine ownself, to be resolved in [his said] scruple or doubt, and to receive and take such order therein, as to one of the said archdeacons, or unto me, shall therein appear to be most expedient.
Further certifying and declaring unto you, that I have given commandment herein to all my archdeacons, that they monish and command every pastor and curate within their archdeaconries, that they, having knowledge hereof, do, in the first holiday next then following, at the mass time, when the multitude of people is present, declare all these things unto their parishioners, and exhort them that they esteem this grace accordingly, and reconcile themselves to the church before the first Sunday after Easter next ensuing; which thing I do command by the tenor hereof, with intimation that the said time being once past, and they not so reconciled, every one of them shall have process made against him, according to the canons, as the case shall require: for which purpose the pastors and curates of every parish shall be commanded by their archdeacon, to certify me in writing of every man and woman’s name that is not so reconciled.
Further, herewith I do signify and declare unto you, that our holy father the pope Julius, the third of that name, like a most tender and natural father, hearing of the return and recovery of his prodigal child, this realm of England, hath himself made much joy and gladness hereat, and also all other true christian realms have done the like: exhorting you therefore in our Lord, not to be unthankful yourselves, or negligent in this behalf, but diligently to seek for it, joyfully to embrace it, and fruitfully to use it, remembering withal the monition and charge which came from me the last year, concerning your coming to confession in Lent, and receiving of the sacrament at Easter: which monition to all effects and purposes I have now here repeated and renewed, charging you and also all your curates therewith.
And because all our duties is earnestly and devoutly to pray for the prosperous estate of our sovereigns, the king and queen of this realm, I do finally require and pray you, as heartily as I can, to pray for their majesties accordingly; and especially that it may please almighty God, to send unto her grace a good time, and to make her a glad mother, which cannot be but unto us all great joy, much comfort, and inestimable profit.
THE FORM OF ABSOLUTION TO BE KEPT BY THE PASTORS AND CURATES IN PRIVATE CONFESSIONS, CONCERNING THIS RECONCILIATION; TO BE USED IN THE DIOCESE OF LONDON.
Our Lord Jesu Christ absolve you, and by the apostolic authority to me granted and committed, I absolve you from the sentences of excommunication, and from all other censures and pains, into the which you be fallen by reason of heresy and schism, or any otherwise: and I restore you unto the unity of our holy mother the church, and to the communion of all sacraments, dispensing with you for all manner of irregularity: and by the same authority I absolve you from all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. *We 37 have a little overpast the time and story of judge Hales, who although about this time [he] most pitifully sought his own destruction, through the cruel handling of the malignant papists — who pass upon nothing but upon their own dignity, little caring who perish besides, so their estimation may be magnified — yet the virtues and memory of that man are not unworthy either to be numbered with the saints that be departed, or at least not to be forgotten or obliterated among the saints that be alive. Concerning whose worthy doings, singular prudence, and incorrupt ministration of judgment, with the lamentable trouble which after fell upon that good man, we thought here, among many other histories, somewhat to express; desiring thee, good reader, to take that which is to be followed in that man — the rest, to refer to the judgment of Him which only is Judge of all.
THE LAMENTABLE AND PITIFUL HISTORY OF MASTER JAMES HALES, JUDGE. We have made mention, a little before, of judge Hales, who alone taking queen Mary’s part, would in no wise subscribe to have any other queen but her, for that he thought he could not do otherwise with a safe conscience, though all the rest, in manner, had subscribed to Edward the Sixth’s will and testament. Hereby as he did cast himself into manifest jeopardy of the duke of Northumberland 366 , to lose both body and goods, so he deserved at queen Mary’s hands, and her adherents, marvellous thanks and reward of his singular faithfulness, and true heart, towards her.
This sir James Hales, of the county of Kent, was both a worshipful knight and one of the high judges of the realm, who ordered and finished matters of controversy in the same. Although he did not so much exceed in nobleness of birth and parentage, as he did excel all others in virtue, prudence, gravity, and true ministering of justice; for which he was in great veneration with all men, and was more conspicuous and known to the world thereby, than by sight. There was in him, by nature grafted, a singular gift of prudence, which, afterwards, by much practice, he accomplished and brought to a marvellous good perfection; besides that, by his assiduous travail and exercise in demurring and pleading of matters, he attained to the vein of eloquence wherewith he was trimly qualified. In which kind of study being exercised certain years, and passing the under degrees, he had aspired (being rather thereunto compelled) to the high benches, [where] he executed his function with such justice, fidelity, constancy, and conscience, that even the law itself seemed no less to be printed and written in his life and doings, than in the very volumes or papers; he was always so upright a justicier and conscionable [a] judge, declining corruption and embracing law and equity.
To these his gifts and qualities, were linked like sincerity and hearty affection to religion and the gospel of Christ, whereunto he had been, by many years, most earnestly set and addicted; showing himself to be a gospeller, no less by his word than deed, and no less at home than abroad: and, as he was godly himself, so brought he up his family to his godly line and order. He had daily service in his house, which was not ministered by any of his household or waiting chaplains, but by his own self, to the intent he might be the better example to the rest; joining with this devotion the often reading of the holy Scripture. After this sort and manner he passed his life all king Edward’s time; either being busied in weighty and public affairs, or else bestowing his time in virtue and godliness, even until that his piety, by reason of the change of the prince and time, might not ne could any more be suffered or permitted.
And now, as the change of the world and time was to every man very dangerous, so to him, in especial, it appeared most perilous; who was in that office and calling, that he could neither be long absent from it at London, neither be there occupied without present peril or jeopardy, thus the state of religion being changed and altered. Upon a time, he, being counselled by his friends and well-willers to leave his forensical trade and to go home, — providing for his safety by what means he could, either in flying or hiding himself, — refused their counsel; trusting too much there, as by and by you shall understand, to his own wit. To be short; at the term-time when other of the lawyers were wont to come up to London, he, the said sir James Hales, likewise came up to do his office and function; persuading and knowing himself to be dear and inculpable, but as a mouse, according to the old-said saw, 39 falling into the glue-pot. Who was not so soon at London, but that the bishop of Winchester sent for him, and did expostulate about the calling and vexing of certain prevent-law priests; for, as yet, the mass was not by the laws received and restored, although the queen herself, by her consent and example, set it forward, wherewith divers priests, being couraged, presumed to say mass. And, like as in a main and set battle there are certain nimble and light-armed soldiers, who, in skirmishes amongst their enemies, go before the force of battle; even so, in this troublesome time, there lacked none before-law prelates, or light armed but much more light-hearted soldiers, who ran before the law, who of duty should rather have followed and obeyed it. And this was not only to be seen in Kent, but also in divers other places; for, in Oxford, as it was told me, there was a certain priest, who there, in Magdalen-college, preparing himself to say mass, and being almost in the midst thereof, was, with his vestments, pulled by one from the altar, and constrained to blow a retract, until by the law he might mass it. Thus judge Hales, like a severe judge and justicier, suffering such priests not to go unpunished, as that, before a law, presumed to say mass, got thereby the queen’s displeasure, but much more Winchester’s evil will: the which bishop, although he had nothing wherewith justly he might burden him, yet he did expostulate with him, as though it were concerning cruelty, who had showed himself so austere a judge against the priests. Wherefore I thought best to leave in record all the whole communication had between them, as those that stood by bare it away.* THE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE LORD CHANCELLOR AND JUDGE HALES.
Being there, among other Judges, to take his Oath in Westminster-Hall, October the 6th, A.D. 1553. L. Chan.: — Master Hales, ye shall understand, that like as the queen’s highness hath heretofore conceived good opinion of you, especially for that ye stood both faithfully and lawfully in her cause of just succession, refusing to set your hand to the book among others that were against her grace in that behalf: so now, through your own late deserts against certain her highness’s doings, ye stand not well in her grace’s favor; and therefore, before ye take any oath, it shall be necessary for you to make your purgation.” Hales: — “I pray you, my lord, what is the cause?” L. Chan.: — “Information is given, that ye have indited certain priests in Kent for saying mass 367 .” Hales: — “My lord, it is not so, I indited none; but indeed certain indictaments of like matter were brought before me at the last assizes there holden, and I gave order therein as the law required. For I have professed the law, against which in cases of justice I will never (God willing) proceed, nor in any wise dissemble, but with the same show forth my conscience; and if it were to do again, I would do no less than I did.” L. Chan.: — “Yea, master Hales, your conscience is known well enough: I know you lack no conscience.” Hales: — “My lord, you may do well to search your own conscience; for mine is better known to myself than to you: and to be plain, I did as well use justice in your said mass case by my conscience, as by the law, wherein I am fully bent to stand in trial to the uttermost that can be objected. And if I have therein done any injury or wrong, let me be judged by the law; for I will seek no better defense, considering chiefly that it is my profession.” L. Chan.: — “Why, master Hales, although you had the rigor of the law on your side, yet ye might have had regard to the queen’s highness’s present doings in that case. And further, although ye seem to be more than precise in the law, yet I think ye would be very loth to yield to the extremity of such advantage as might be gathered against your proceedings in the law, as ye have sometimes taken upon you in place of justice; and if it were well tried, I believe ye should not be well able to stand honestly thereto.” Hales: — “My lord, I am not so perfect, but I may err for lack of knowledge. But both in conscience, and such knowledge of the law as God hath given me, I will do nothing but I will maintain, and abide in it: and if my goods, and all that I have, be not able to counterpayse the case, my body shall be ready to serve the turn; for they be all at the queen’s highness’ pleasure.” L. Chan.: — “Ah sir! ye be very quick and stout in your answers.
But as it should seem, that which ye did was more of a will favoring the opinion of your religion against the service now used, than for any occasion or zeal of justice, seeing the queen’s highness doth set it forth, as yet wishing all her faithful subjects to embrace it accordingly: and where ye offer both body and goods in your trial, there is no such matter required at your hands, and yet ye shall not have your own will neither.” Hales: — “My lord, I seek not wilful will, but to show myself as I am bound in love to God and obedience to the queen’s majesty, in whose cause willingly, for justice’ sake, all other respects set apart, I did of late, as your lordship knoweth, adventure as much as I had. And as for my religion, I trust it be such as pleaseth God, wherein I am ready to adventure as well my life as my substance, if I be called thereunto. And so in lack of mine own power and will, the Lord’s will be fulfilled.” L. Chan.: — “Seeing you be at this point, master Hales, I will presently make an end with you. The queen’s highness shall be informed of your opinion and declaration: and, as her grace shall thereupon determine, ye shall have knowledge. Until such time, ye may depart as ye came, without your oath; for as it appeareth, ye are scarce worthy the place appointed.” Hales: — “I thank your lordship: and as for my vocation, being both a burden and a charge more than ever I desired to take upon me; whensoever it shall please the queen’s highness to ease me thereof, I shall most humbly, with due contentation, obey the same.”
And so he departed from the bar. Not many days after this communication or colloquy in Westminster-hall, which was October 6, anno 1553, master Hales, at the commandment of the bishop, was committed to the King’s Bench, where he remained constant until Lent, *being tossed and removed from one prison to another:* for then was he removed to the Compter in Bread-street, and afterward from thence was carried to the Fleet, *where he dured most christianly by the space of three weeks.* Being in the Fleet, what it was that he had granted unto the bishops, by their fraudulent assaults and persuasions (namely, of Dr. Day bishop of Chichester, and of judge Portman, as it is thought, overcome at last), I have not to say. *And 41 thus, now we have rehearsed his notable virtues and afflictions, borne out and valiantly sustained by him. Now will we declare the miserable falls of him, and lamentable chance. And when thus, in divers prisons, he, being tossed and wearied, could in no wise be subdued and overcome by the suppression of his adversaries, he, being yet in the mean time assaulted with secret assaults, reculed and gave over. Wherein, as I do lament so miserable a case in so worthy a man, even so do I marvel at the vile and detestable frauds and wiles of his adversaries.
There was in the prison where Hales was, a certain gentleman of Hampshire, called Forster, who being suborned, as it should seem, of the bishops, used all kinds of persuasions that he could, whereby he might draw him from the truth to error; whereby, at length, by continual wearying and seeking upon him, [he] brought to pass that Hales began to seem that he might be overcome. At last, when this came to his adversaries’ ears, the bishop of Chichester was at hand forthwith, very early in the morning (on the 12h of April), to commune with master Hales in the prison; but I have no certain knowledge what the talk was between them. But, undoubtedly, his constancy was so quailed, that even before, he had given over in the plain field; and for that cause he was in a great dump and sorrow with himself: to whom, by all likelihood, this bishop came to minister matter of comfort. And the same day, in the afternoon, came unto him judge Portman, and talked with him so long till the time was come that judge Hales must come to supper. Therefore, when Portman had taken his leave, master Hales getteth him to supper with a heavy, troubled, mind; howbeit he did eat very little, or no meat at all, being brought to an extreme desperation by the worm of his conscience. Albeit, to say the truth, I do not impute the fall of this man to the persuasions of the comers to him, nor to so small causes; for in case that be true, which one told me (as it is like to be true), his adversaries went a more subtle way to work with him, than all the world knoweth. For, when they had him sure in the prison, they, like wily pies, found the means to shut him up into that part thereof, where the noise of the streets, the tumult and concourse, the night and day troubles of the talk of artificers, and coming to and fro of men, — and besides, the noise of the prisoners hard by, ringing about his head, troubled him, in such sort, that he could not take his rest, — thinking perchance that if they could not win by any other means, yet by the lack of sleep they might soon make him give over, and come unto their side; — and, perchance, therefore, this was the very policy why they made him change prisons so often. But, for that I have no certainty of the thing, I will leave the truth thereof to the reader’s conjecture: and, whatsoever the cause was, that made him to relent in the confession of the truth, undoubtedly he was cast, forthwith, into a great repentance of the deed, and into a terror of conscience thereby; insomuch that when supper was done, he gat him straight to bed, where he passed over all that night, in much care and anxiety of mind. And then, when it was day, he sent, about six of the clock, for a cup of beer, as though he were desirous to drink. His man was yet scarce out of his chamber, when he, with a penknife, had wounded himself in divers places, and would, without fail, have likewise killed himself (which argueth that he was not well in his wit), unless the goodness of God had been a present help and preservation unto him:* whereby it is evident for all men to understand, how God’s favor was not absent from the man, although he thought himself utterly forsaken for his denial, as by the sequel may well appear.
For as soon as he had sent his man out of his chamber (see what God would have done), even afore the chamber-door eftsoons the butler met him; who, being desired to fill the drink, and taking the cup, the other returned again unto his master, at the same very time when he was working his own destruction: whereby master Hales at that time was stopped of his purpose, and preserved, not without God’s manifest good-will and providence. When Winchester had knowledge of it, straightway he taketh occasion thereby to blaspheme the doctrine of the gospel, which he openly in the Star-chamber called “doctrine of desperation.” 42 Master Hales, being within awhile after recovered of those wounds, and delivered out of prison, getteth himself home unto his house; where he, either for the greatness of his sorrow, or for lack of good counsel, or for that he would avoid the necessity of hearing mass (having all things set in order, a good while before that, pertaining to his testament), casting himself into a shallow river, was drowned therein; which was about the beginning of the month of February, or in the month of January before, anno 1555.
The unhappy chance of this so worthy a judge, was surely the cause of great sorrow and grief unto all good men, and it gave occasion besides unto certain divines to stand something in doubt with themselves, whether he were reprobate or saved, about which matter it is not for me to determine either this way or that: for he that is our Judge, the same shall be his Judge; and he it is, that will lay all things open when the time cometh. This in the mean time is certain and sure: that the deed of the man in my mind ought in no wise to be allowed, which, if he did wittingly, then do I discommend the man’s reason. But if he did it in phrenzy, and as being out of his wits, then do I greatly pity his case. Yet, notwithstanding, seeing God’s judgments be secret, and we likewise in doubt upon what intent he did thus punish himself, neither again is any man certain, whether he did repent or no before the last breath went out of his body; me thinketh, their opinion is more indifferent herein, who do rather disallow the example of the deed, than despair of his salvation.
Otherwise, if we will adjudge all those to hell that have departed the world after this sort, how many examples have we in the first persecutions of the church, of those men and women, who, being registered in the works of worthy writers, have notwithstanding their praise and commendation? For what shall I think of those young men, who being sought for to do sacrifice to heathen idols, did cast down themselves headlong, and break their own necks, to avoid such horrible pollution of themselves? What shall I say of those virgins of Antioch, who, to the end they might not defile themselves with uncleanness, and with idolatry, through the persuasion of their mother, casting themselves headlong into a river together with their mother, did foredo themselves, although not in the same water, yet after the same manner of drowning as this master Hales did? What shall I say of other two sisters, who, for the self-same quarrel, did violently throw themselves headlong into the sea, as Eusebius 43 doth record? In whom, though perchance there was less confidence to bear out the pains which should be ministered of the wicked unto them, yet that their good desire to keep their faith and religion unspotted, was commended and praised.
Another like example of death is mentioned by Nicephorus, 44 and that in another virgin likewise, whose name is expressed in Jerome to be Brassilia Dyrrachina, who, to keep her virginity, feigned herself to be a witch; and so, conventing with the young man who went about to dishonor her, pretended that she would give him an herb which should preserve him from all kind of weapons; and so, to prove it in herself, laid the herb upon her own throat, bidding him smite, whereby she was slain; and so with the loss of her life her virginity was saved.
Hereunto may be joined the like death of Sophronia 45 , a matron of Rome, who, when she was required of Maxentius the tyrant to be defiled, and saw her husband more slack than he ought to have been in saving her honesty, bidding them that were sent for her to tarry awhile till she made her ready, went into her chamber, and with a weapon thrust herself through the breast, and died. Now who is he that would reprehend the worthy act of Achetes, who, biting off his own tongue, spit it out into the harlot’s face? *But, in these examples, you will say: The cause was necessary and honest; and who can tell whether master Hales meaning to avoid the pollution of the mass, did likewise choose the same kind of death, to keep his faith undefiled: whereof there ought to be as great respect, and greater too, than of the chastity of the body. But you will say: He ought rather to have suffered the tyrants; and why may not the same be said of the forenamed virgins?* These examples I do not here infer, as going about either to excuse, or to maintain the heinous fact of master Hales (which I would wish rather by silence might be drowned in oblivion), but yet notwithstanding, as touching the person of the man, whatsoever his fact was — because we are not sure whether he at the last breath repented — again, because we do not know, nor are able to comprehend the bottomless depth of the graces and mercies which are in Christ Jesus our Savior — we will leave therefore the final judgment of him, to the determination of him who is only appointed Judge both of the quick and the dead. *And, finally, although he did it of a certain desperation, yet how know you whether he repented even in breathing out his life? — Although I truly am so far from allowing his fact, by any means, that I am wonderfully sorry for his rash, and over hasty temerity, and, therefore, although we do not account him among the martyrs, yet, on the other side, we do not reckon him among the damned persons. Finally, let us all wish heartily that the Lord impute not to him, in judgment, that which he offended in his own punishment. Amen.* DE JACOBO HALISIO CARMEN. Si tua quanta fuit gravitas, prudentia, norma, Junctaque sincera cum pietate fides; Tam caro firma tibi fortisque, Halise, fuisset; Sanctorum primo classe ferendus eras.
Instituit sed enim sua quis sic tempora vitae Sanctorum, ut nullis sint maculata malis?
Quum nihil ergo vides propria quin labe laboret, Tu tua fac cures, caetera mitte Deo.
THE HISTORY OF THOMAS TOMKINS, MARTYR, WHO, HAVING FIRST HIS HAND BURNED, AFTER WAS BURNED HIMSELF BY BISHOP BONNER, FOR THE CONSTANT TESTIMONY OF CHRIST’S TRUE PROFESSION.
Mention was made before of six prisoners, brought and examined before bishop Bonner the 8th of February, whose names were Tomkins, Pygot, Knight, Hawkes, Laurence, and Hunter: all which, though they received their condemnation together the next day after, yet, because the time of their execution was then driven off from February till the next month of March, I did therefore refer the story of them to this present month of March aforesaid, wherein now remaineth severally to entreat of the martyrdom of these six persons, as the order and time of their sufferings severally do require. Of the which six aforenamed martyrs, the first was Thomas Tomkins, burned in Smithfield, the 16th day of March, A.D. 1555.
This Thomas Tomkins, a weaver by his occupation, dwelling in Shoreditch, and of the diocese of London, was of such conversation, and disposition so godly, that if any woman had come to him with her web, as sometimes they did, three or four in a day, he would always begin with prayer; or if any other had come to talk of any matter, he would likewise first begin with prayer. And if any had sought unto him to borrow money, he would show him such money as he had in his purse, and bid him take it.
And when they came to repay it again, so far off was he from seeking any usury at their hand, or from strait exaction of his due, that he would bid them keep it longer, while they were better able. And these were the conditions of Thomas Tomkins, testified yet to this present day by the most part of all his neighbors, and almost of all his parish which knew him, as master Skinner, master Leeke, and others. Of whom more than half a dozen at once came to me, discreet and substantial men, reporting the same unto me; recording moreover as followeth: That Dr. Bonner bishop of London, kept the said Tomkins with him in prison half a year; during which time the said bishop was so rigorous unto him, that he beat him bitterly about the face, whereby his face was swelled. Whereupon the bishop caused his beard to be shaven, and gave the barber twelve pence.
Touching which shaving of Thomas Tomkins’s beard, this is more to be added: Bishop Bonner, having Tomkins with him prisoner at Fulham, in the month of July, did set him with his other workfolks to make hay; and seeing him to labor so well, the bishop, setting him down, said, “Well, I like thee well; for thou labourest well: I trust thou wilt be a good catholic.” “My lord,” said he, “St. Paul saith, ‘He that doth not labor is not worthy to eat.’” Bonner said, “Ah! St. Paul is a great man with thee.” 1 And so, after such other talk, the bishop inferring moreover, wished his beard off, saying, that so he would look like a catholic. “My lord,” said Tomkins, “before my beard grew I was, I trust, a good Christian, and so I trust to be, my beard being on.” But Bonner, in fine, sent for the barber, and caused his beard to be shaven off. The very cause was, for that Bonner had plucked off a piece of his beard before.
The rage of this bishop was not so great against him, but the constancy of the party was much greater with patience to bear it; who, although he had not the learning as others have, yet he was so endued with God’s mighty Spirit, and so constantly planted in the perfect knowledge of God’s truth, that by no means he could be removed from the confession of truth, to impiety and error. Whereupon Bonner the bishop, being greatly vexed against the poor man, when he saw that by no persuasions he could prevail with him, devised another practice not so strange as cruel, further to try his constancy; to the intent, that seeing he could not otherwise convince him by doctrine of Scriptures, yet he might overthrow him by some forefeeling and terror of death. So, having with him master Harpsfield, master Pemdleton, Dr. Chedsey, master Wilierton, and others standing by, he called for Thomas Tomkins, who, coming before the bishop, and standing as he was wont in defense of his faith, the bishop fell from beating to burning: who, having there a taper or wax candle of three or four wicks standing upon the table, thought there to represent unto us as it were, the old image of king Porsenna. For as he burned the hand of Scaevola, so this catholic bishop 368 2 took Tomkins by the fingers, and held his hand directly over the flame, supposing that by the smart and pain of the fire being terrified, he would leave off the defense of his doctrine which he had received.
Tomkins, thinking no otherwise but there presently to die, began to commend himself unto the Lord, saying, “O Lord! into thy hands I commend my spirit,” etc. In the time that his hand was in burning, the same Tomkins afterward reported to one James Hinse, that his spirit was so rapt, that he felt no pain. In the which burning he never shrank, till the veins shrank, and the sinews burst, and the water did spirt in master Harpsfield’s face: insomuch that the said master Harpsfield, moved with pity, desired the bishop to stay, saying, that he had tried him enough. This burning was in the hall at Fulham.
And whereas the bishop thought by that means to drive him from his opinions, it proved much otherwise: for this christian Scaevola so valiantly did despise, abide, and endure that burning, that we have less cause hereafter to marvel at the manfulness of that Roman Scaevola: I would to God the other had as well followed the example of that Etruscan tyrant.
For he, after the left hand of Scaevola was half burned, either satisfied with his punishment, or overcome by his manhood, or driven away by fear, sent him home safe unto his people: whereas Bonner, hitherto not contented with the burning of his hand, rested not until he had consumed his whole body into ashes, at London in Smithfield.
THE FIRST EXAMINATION OF THOMAS TOMKINS, BEFORE BONNER.
This faithful and valiant soldier of God, Thomas Tomkins, after he had remained the space (as is said) of half a year in prison, about the 8th day of February was brought with certain others before Bonner, sitting in his consistory, to be examined. To whom first was brought forth a certain bill or schedule, subscribed (as appeareth) with his own hand, the fifth day of the same month last before, containing these words following.
THE CONFESSION OF TOMKINS SUBSCRIBED WITH HIS OWN HAND.
Thomas Tomkins of Shoreditch, and of the diocese of London, hath believed and doth believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, there is not the very body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ in substance, but only a token and remembrance thereof, the very body and blood of Christ being only in heaven, and no where else.
By me, Thomas Tomkins.
Whereupon he was asked, whether he did acknowledge the same subscription to be of his own hand. To the which he granted, confessing it so to be. This being done, the bishop went about to persuade him (with words, rather than with reasons) to relinquish his opinions, and to return again to the unity of the catholic church, promising if he would so do, to remit all that was past. But he constantly denied so to do. When the bishop saw he could not so convince him, he brought forth and read to him another writing, containing articles and interrogatories, whereunto he should come the next day and answer: in the mean time he should deliberate with himself what to do. And so the next day, being the 9th of March, at eight o’clock in the morning to be present in the same place again, to give his determinate answer what he would do in the premises, and then either to revoke and reclaim himself, or else in the afternoon the same day to come again, and have justice (as he called it) ministered unto him. The copy of which articles here followeth.
ARTICLES OBJECTED AND MINISTERED THE 8TH DAY OF FEBRUARY AGAINST THOMAS TOMKINS, WITH HIS OWN HAND SUBSCRIBING TO THE SAME.
Thou dost believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, there is not, by the omnipotent power of Almighty God, and his holy word, really, truly, and in very deed, the very true and natural body of our Savior Jesus Christ, as touching the substance thereof; which was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and hanged upon the cross, suffering passion and death there for the life of the world.
I do so believe.
Thou dost believe, that after the consecration of the bread and wine prepared for the use of the sacrament of the altar, there doth remain the substance of material bread and material wine, not changed or altered in substance by the power of Almighty God, but remaining as it did before.
I do so believe.
Thou dost believe, that it is an untrue doctrine, and a false belief, to think or say, that in the sacrament of the altar there is, after consecration of the bread and wine, the substance of Christ’s natural body and blood, by the omnipotent power of Almighty God, and his holy word.
I do so believe.
Thou dost believe, that thy parents, kinsfolks, friends, and acquaintance, and also thy godfathers and godmother, and all people, did err, and were deceived, if they did believe, that in the sacrament of the altar there was, after the consecration, the body and blood of Christ, and that there did not remain the substance of material bread and wine.
I do so believe.
By me Thomas Tomkins.
THE SECOND EXAMINATION OF THOMAS TOMKINS.
The next day, being the 9th of February, at eight o’clock before noon, the said Thomas Tomkins (according to the former commandment) was brought again into the place aforenamed, before the bishop and other his assistants, where the aforesaid articles were propounded unto him: whereunto he answered as followeth:
To the first he said, that he did so believe, as in the same is contained.
To the third he said and did believe, it was a false doctrine, to believe and think as is contained in this article.
To the fourth, he did also believe the same.
After this answer, he did also subscribe his name to the said articles.
Whereupon the bishop, drawing out of his bosom another confession subscribed with Tomkins’s own hand, and also that article that was the first day objected against him, caused the same to be openly read; and then willed him to revoke and deny his said opinions, the which he utterly refused to do; and therefore was commanded to appear before the bishop again in the same place at two o’clock in the afternoon.
THE BISHOP REPEATETH AGAIN THE CONFESSION OF THOMAS TOMKINS.
Written before by the said Bishop of London, and subscribed by the said Tomkins, the 26th of September, anno 1554, which is this.
I, Thomas Tomkins of the parish of Shoreditch, in the diocese of London, having confessed and declared openly heretofore, to Edmund bishop of London, mine ordinary, that my belief hath been many years past, and is at this present, that the body of our Savior Jesus Christ is not truly and in very deed in the sacrament of the altar, but only in heaven; and so in heaven, that it cannot now indeed be really and truly in the sacrament of the altar: And moreover, having likewise confessed and declared to my said ordinary openly many times, that although the church, called the catholic church, hath allowed, and doth allow the mass and sacrifice made and done therein, as a wholesome, profitable, and a godly thing; yet my belief hath been many years past, and is at this present, that the said mass is full of superstition, plain idolatry, and unprofitable for my soul; and so have I called it many times, and take it at this present: Having also likewise confessed and declared to my said ordinary, that the sacrament of baptism ought to be only in the vulgar tongue, and not otherwise ministered, and also without any such ceremonies, as accustomably are used in the Latin church, and otherwise not to be allowed: — Finally, being many times and oft called openly before my said ordinary, and talked withal touching all my said confessions and declarations, both by the said mine ordinary and divers other learned men, as well his chaplains as others, and counselled by all of them to embrace the truth, and to recant mine error in the premises, which they told me was plain heresy and manifest error; do testify and declare hereby, that I do and will continually stand to my said confession, declaration, and belief, in all the premises, and every part thereof, and in no wise recant or go from any part of the same.
In witness whereof I have subscribed and passed this writing the 26th day of September, the year aforesaid.
By me Tho. Tomkins aforesaid.
The names of them that sat upon Thomas Tomkins at this session, were these: Edmund Bonner; John Fecknam, dean of Paul’s; John Harpsfield, archdeacon of London; John Morwen, master of arts; Thomas Morton, parson of Fulham; Tristram Swadell, Thomas More, Thomas Bekinsaw, James Cline, clerks.
THE LAST APPEARANCE AND CONDEMNATION OF THOMAS TOMKINS BEFORE BONNER AND THE COMMISSIONERS.
The same day and place, at two o’clock in the afternoon, he was, the last time, brought before the bishops of London, Bath, and St. David’s, with others; where he was earnestly exhorted by the said bishop of Bath, to revoke and leave off his opinions. Unto whom he answered, “My lord, I was born and brought up in ignorance until now of late years; and now I know the truth, wherein I will continue unto the death.”
Then Bonner caused all his articles and confession to be again openly read, and so, in his accustomed manner, persuaded with him to recant. To whom he finally said, “My lord, I cannot see but that you would have me forsake the truth, and to fall into error and heresy.” The bishop seeing he would not recant, did proceed in his law, and so gave sentence of condemnation upon him.
Then he delivered him to the sheriff of London, who carried him straight unto Newgate, where he remained most joyous and constant until the 16th of March next after, on which day, he was by the said sheriff conveyed into Smithfield, and there sealed up his faith in the flaming fire, to the glory of God’s holy name, and confirmation of the weak.
NOTABLE HISTORY OF WILLIAM HUNTER A YOUNG MAN, AN APPRENTICE, OF NINETEEN YEARS, PURSUED TO DEATH BY JUSTICE BROWN, FOR THE GOSPEL’S SAKE; WORTHY OF ALL YOUNG MEN AND PARENTS TO BE READ.
The 26th day of the said month of March, the year aforesaid, followed the martyrdom of William Hunter, a right godly young man, of the age of nineteen years, and born of like godly parents: by whom he was not only instructed in true religion and godliness, but also confirmed by them unto death, after a rare and strange example, worthy to be noted and had in admiration of all parents.
Wherein may appear a singular spectacle, not only of a marvellous fortitude in the party so young, but also in his parents, to behold nature in them striving with religion, and overcome of the same: whereby christian parents may learn what is to be done, not only in their children, but also in themselves, if need at any time do require, or godliness should demand the duty of a christian man against natural affection. *Nature 1 is a strong thing, I must needs confess, and almost invincible, and, among all the affections of nature, there is none that is so deeply graved in a father’s mind, as the love and tender affection towards his children, that is, as you would say, towards his own bowels. By which affection we see many, yea rather infinite parents, that are overcome; but, of them that overcome it, very few, or rather none. So much the more, therefore, am I moved not to pass over, in this place, such notable and singular godliness of these parents; who, when they saw their son led towards the fire, did not follow him with lamentation, neither labored, by their words, to draw him from his godly purpose, neither took pity of his fortune; but, setting aside all private affection of natural love, forgetting nature, and, as it were, forgetting themselves, — neither yet following that common affection of parents at this day, but the example of that holy mother of the Maccabees — encouraged their son, as much as they could; and rejoicing with wonderful gladness, exhorted him to go through valiantly: insomuch, that when he was ready to suffer death, either of them drinking unto him, rejoiced over him, and confirmed him in the Lord. And here, truly, I cannot tell whether I should rather praise the virtue of the son, or of the parents; for he, indeed, died with great constancy, and after he had recited the eighty-fourth Psalms, as he was a-dying, doubtless obtained the crown of blessed martyrdom. But no less constancy, as I think, appeared in them, and they are no less to be accounted martyrs, in the martyrdom of their son: for he, offering his body to torments, with great praise, overcame the tormentors, the torments, and the tyrants. And they, with no less praise, overcame their own natures, offering to the Lord a mind no less constant and strong than he did, and, perchance, felt no less torments inwardly, than he did outwardly. He, broiling in the midst of the flame, suffered his life to be taken from him, not without cruel torment; and they, also, with no less torment, suffered their son to be taken from them. On both sides the strength of the spirit, the fervent heat of godliness, and the love of Christ, overcame all the torments; and, therefore, I thought the praise of the son could not well be recorded, without the commendation of the parents: for as he, dying for the gospel, hath left behind him in the church, a strong and evident testimony, to confirm the doctrine of the gospel; so they, to confirm a gospellike life, have given an example, worthy to be followed of all men:* example whereof, in the sequel of this history, we have here present before our eyes. Which history, as it was faithfully drawn out by Robert Hunter, his own brother (who, being present with his brother William, and never leaving him till his death, sent the true report unto us), we have here, with like faithfulness, placed and recorded the same, as followeth.
William Hunter, being an apprentice in London in the first year of queen Mary, was commanded at the Easter next following to receive the communion at a mass, by the priest of the parish where he dwelt, called Coleman-street; which because he refused to do, he was very much threatened that he should be therefore brought before the bishop of London. Wherefore William Hunter’s master, one Thomas Taylor, a silkweaver, required William Hunter to go and depart from him, lest that he should come in danger because of him, if he continued in his house. For the which causes, William Hunter took leave of his said master, and thence came to Brentwood where his father dwelt, with whom he afterwards remained about the space of half a quarter of a year.
After this it happened within five or six weeks, that William going into the chapel of Brentwood, and finding there a Bible lying on a desk, did read therein. In the mean time there came in one father Atwell, a sumner, who hearing William read in the Bible, said to him, “What! meddlest thou with the Bible? Knowest thou what thou readest, and canst thou expound the Scriptures?”
To whom William answered and said, “Father Atwell, I take not upon me to expound the Scriptures, except I were dispensed withal; but I, finding the Bible here when I came, read in it to my comfort.” To whom father Atwell said, “It was never merry world, since the Bible came abroad in English.”
To the which words William answered, saying, “Father Atwell, say not so, for God’s sake: for it is God’s book, out of the which every one that hath grace may learn to know both what things please God, and also what displeaseth him.” Then said father Atwell, “Could we not tell before this time as well as now, how God was served?” William answered, “No, father Atwell; nothing so well as we may now; if that we might have his blessed word amongst us still as we have had. “It is true,” said father Atwell, “if it be as you say. “Well,” said William Hunter, “it liketh me very well, and I pray God that we may have the blessed Bible amongst us continually.
To the which words father Atwell said, “I perceive your mind well enough: you are one of them that mislike the queen’s laws; and therefore you came from London, I hear say. You learned these ways at London: but for all that,” said father Atwell, “you must turn another leaf; or else you, and a great sort more heretics, will broil for this gear, I warrant you.” To the which words William said, “God give me grace, that I may believe his word, and confess his name, whatsoever come thereof.” “Confess his name!” quoth old Atwell, “No, no; ye will go to the devil all of you, and confess his name.” “What?” said William, “You say not well, father Atwell.”
At the which words he went out of the chapel in a great fury, saying, “I am not able to reason with thee: but I will fetch one straightway which shall talk with thee, I warrant thee, thou heretic!” And he, leaving William Hunter reading in the Bible, straightways brought one Thomas Wood, who was then vicar of Southwell, who was at an alehouse even over against the said chapel; who, hearing old Atwell say, that William Hunter was reading of the Bible in the chapel, came by and by to him, and finding him reading in the Bible, took the matter very heinously, saying; “Sirrah, who gave thee leave to read in the Bible, and to expound it?” Then William answered, “I expound not the Scriptures, sir, but read them for my comfort.” “What meddlest thou with them at all?” said the vicar. “It becometh not thee, nor any such to meddle with the Scriptures,” But William answered, “I will read the Scriptures (God willing) while I live; and you ought, master vicar, not to discourage any man for that matter, but rather exhort men diligently to read the Scriptures for your discharge and their own.”
Unto the which the vicar answered, “It becometh thee well to tell me what I have to do. I see thou art a heretic by thy words.”
William said, “I am no heretic for speaking the truth.” But the vicar said, “It is a merry world, when such as thou art shall teach us what is the truth. Thou art meddling, father Atwell tells me, with the sixth chapter of John, wherein thou mayest perceive how Christ saith, ‘Except that ye eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.’” William said, “I read the sixth chapter of John indeed; howbeit, I made no exposition on it.”
Then said father Atwell, “When you read it, I said, that you there might understand how that in the sacrament of the altar is Christ’s very natural body and blood: unto the which you answered, how that you would take the Scriptures as they are, and that you would meddle with no great exposition, except that ye were dispensed withal.” “Ah,” said the vicar, “what say you to the blessed sacrament of the altar? Believest thou not in it, and that the bread and wine is transubstantiated into the very body and blood of Christ?” William answered, “I learn no such thing in the sixth of John as you speak of.” “Why,” said the vicar, “dost thou not believe in the sacrament of the altar?” “I believe,” said William Hunter, “all that God’s word teacheth.” “Why” said the vicar, “thou mayest learn this which I say, plainly in the sixth of John.”
Then said William, “You understand Christ’s words much like the carnal Capernaites, which thought, that Christ would have given them his flesh to feed upon: which opinion our Savior Christ corrected, when he said, ‘The words which I speak to you, are spirit and life.’” “Now,” quoth the vicar, I have found you out: now I see that thou art a heretic indeed, and that thou dost not believe in the sacrament of the altar.” Then said William Hunter, “Whereas you doubt my belief, I would it were tried, whether that you or I would stand faster in our faith.” “Yea, thou heretic,” said the vicar, “wouldst thou have it so tried?” William Hunter answered, “That which you call heresy, I serve my Lord God withal.”
Then said the vicar, “Canst thou serve God with heresy?” But William answered, “I would that you and I were even now fast tied to a stake, to prove whether that I or you would stand strongest to our faith.” But the vicar answered, “It shall not be so tried.” “No,” quoth William, “I think so; for if I might, I think I know who would soonest recant: for I durst set my foot against yours, even to the death.” “That we shall see,” quoth the vicar; and so they departed, the vicar threatening William much, how that he would complain of him; with much other communication which they had together.
Immediately after, this vicar of the Wield told master Brown of the communication which William Hunter and he had together; which when master Brown understood, immediately he sent for William’s father and the constable, one Robert Salmon. For immediately after William Hunter and the vicar had reasoned together, he took his leave of his father and fled; because Wood the vicar threatened him.
Now when the constable and William’s father were come, and were before master Brown, he asked where William Hunter was. His father answered, saying, “If it please you, sir, I know not where he is become.” “No!” quoth master Brown: “I will make thee tell where he is, and fetch him forth also, ere I have done with thee.” “Sir,” said William’s father, “I know not where he is become, nor where to seek for him.”
Then said master Brown, “Why didst thou not bring him, when thou hadst him? I promise thee, if thou wilt not fetch him, I will send thee to prison, till I shall get him. Wherefore see that thou promise me to fetch him; or else it is not best to look me in the face any more, nor yet to rest in Brentwood.’ “Well,” quoth master Brown to William’s father, “see that thou seek him forth, and bring him to me.”
William’s father answered, “Sir, would you have me seek out my son to be burned?” “If thou bring him to me,” quoth master Brown, “I will deal well enough for that matter; thou shalt not need to care for the matter. Fetch him, and thou shalt see what I will do for him.
Moreover, if thou lackest money,” quoth he, “thou shalt have some;” and bade the constable, master Salmon, to give him a crown: but William’s father took none of him. Howbeit master Brown would never rest, till William’s father had promised him to seek out his son. And thus master Brown sent the constable home again, and William’s father; commanding him to seek out William Hunter, and then to come again and bring him to him.
After that old father Hunter had ridden two or three days’ journey to satisfy master Brown’s expectation, it happened that William met with his father in the highway as he traveled; and first he, seeing his father, came to him, and spake to him, and told him how that he thought that he sought for him. And then his father, confessing it, wept sore, and said, that master Brown charged him to seek him, and bring him to him. “Howbeit,” said he, “I will return home again, and say I cannot find you.” But William said, “Father, I will go home with you, and save you harmless, whatsoever cometh of it.”
And thus they came home together: but William, as soon as he was come home, was taken by the said constable, and laid in the stocks till the next day, when master Brown (hearing that William Hunter was come home) sent for him to the constable; who brought him immediately to master Brown.
Now when William was come, master Brown said to him, “Ah, sirrah! are ye come?” and then by and by he commanded the Bible to be brought and opened it, and then began to reason with William on this manner, saying: “I hear say you are a Scripture-man, you; and can reason much of the sixth of John, and expound as pleaseth you:” and turned the Bible to the sixth of St. John. And then he laid to his charge what an exposition he made, when the vicar and he talked together. And William said, “He urged me to say so much as I did.” “Well,” quoth master Brown, “Because you can expound that place so well; how say you to another place?” (turning to the twenty — second of St. Luke.) And master Brown said, “Look here,” quoth he, “for Christ saith, that the bread is his body.” — To the which William answered, “The text saith, how Christ took bread; but not that he changed it into another substance, but gave that which he took, and brake that which he gave; which was bread, as is evident by the text: for else he should have had two bodies, which to affirm I see no reason,” said William. At the which answer master Brown was very angry, and took up the Bible and turned the leaves, and then flung it down again in such a fury, that William could not well find the place again whereof they reasoned.
Then master Brown said, “Thou naughty boy! wilt thou not take things as they are, but expound them as thou wilt? Doth not Christ call the bread his body plainly? and thou wilt not believe, that the bread is his body after the consecration. Thou goest about to make Christ a liar!” But William Hunter answered, “I mean not so, sir; but rather more earnestly to search what the mind of Christ is in that holy institution, wherein he commendeth unto us the remembrance of his death, passion, resurrection, and coming again; saying, ‘This do, in the remembrance of me.’ And also, though Christ call the bread his body, as he doth also say that he is a vine, a door, etc., yet is not his body turned into bread, no more than he is turned into a door or vine. Wherefore Christ called the bread his body by a figure.”
At that word master Brown said. “Thou art a villain indeed. Wilt thou make Christ a liar yet still?” and was in such a fury with William, and so raged, that William could not speak a word but he crossed him, and scoffed at every word. Wherefore William, seeing him in such fury, desired him that he would either hear him quietly, and suffer him to answer for himself; or else send him away. To the which master Brown answered, “Indeed I will send thee to-morrow to my lord of London, and he shall have thee under examination:” and thus left off the talk, and made a letter immediately; and sent William Hunter with the constable to Bonner, bishop of London, who received William.
After that he had read the letter, and the constable returned home again, the bishop caused William to be brought into a chamber, where he began to reason with him in this manner: “I understand, William Hunter,” quoth he, “by master Brown’s letter, how that you have had certain communication with the vicar of the Wield, about the blessed sacrament of the altar; and how that ye could not agree:whereupon master Brown sent for thee, to bring thee to the catholic faith, from the which, he saith that thou art gone. Howbeit if thou wilt be ruled by me, thou shalt have no harm for any thing that thou hast said or done in this matter.” William answered, saying, “I am not fallen from the catholic faith of Christ, I am sure; but do believe it, and confess it with all my heart.” “Why,” quoth the bishop, “how sayest thou to the blessed sacrament of the altar? Wilt thou not recant thy saying, which thou confessedst before master Brown, how that Christ’s body is not in the sacrament of the altar, the same that was born of the Virgin Mary?” To the which William answered, saying, “My lord, I understand that master Brown hath certified you of the talk which he and I had together, and thereby ye know what I said to him; the which I will not recant, by God’s help.” Then said the bishop, “I think thou art ashamed to bear a faggot, and recant openly; but, if thou wilt recant thy sayings, I will promise thee that thou shalt not be put to open shame: but speak the word here now between me and thee, and I will promise thee it shall go no further, and thou shalt go home again without any hurt.” William answered and said, “My lord, if you will let me alone, and leave me to my conscience, I will go to my father and dwell with him, or else with my master again; and so, if no body will disquiet or trouble my conscience, I will keep my conscience to myself.”
Then said the bishop, “I am content, so that thou wilt go to the church, and receive, and be shriven; and so continue a good catholic Christian.” · “No,” quoth William, “I will not do so, for all the good in the world.” “Then,” quoth the bishop, “If you will not do so, I will make you sure enough, I warrant you.” “Well,” quoth William, “you can do no more than God will permit you” Well,”quoth the, bishop, wilt thou not recant indeed by no means?” “No,” quoth William, “never while I live, God willing.”
Then the bishop (this talk ended) commanded his men to put William in the stocks in his gatehouse, where he sat two days and nights, only with a crust of brown bread and a cup of water. At the two days’ end the bishop came to him, and finding the cup of water and the crust of bread still by him upon the stocks, said to his men, “Take him out of the stocks, and let him break his fast with you.” Then they let him forth of the stocks, but would not suffer him to eat with them, but called him heretic. And he said, he was as loth to be in their company, as they were to be in his.
After the breakfast, the bishop sent for William, and demanded whether he would recant or no. But William made him answer, how that he would never recant that which he had confessed before men, as concerning his faith in Christ. Then the bishop said that he was no Christian; but he denied the faith in which he was baptized. But William answered, “I was baptized in the faith of the holy Trinity, the which I will not go from, God assisting me with his grace.”
Then the bishop sent him to the convict prison, and commanded the keeper to lay irons upon him, as many as he could bear: and moreover asked him, how old he was; and William said that he was nineteen years old. “Well,” said the bishop, “you will be burned ere you be twenty years old, if you will not yield yourself better than you have done yet.” William answered, “God strengthen me in his truth.” And then he parted, and the bishop allowing him a halfpenny a day to live on, in bread or drink.
Thus he continued in prison three quarters of a year. In the which time he had been before the bishop five times, besides the time when he was condemned in the consistory in Paul’s, the 9th day of February: at the which time I his brother, Robert Hunter, was present, when and where I heard the bishop condemn him, and five others. And then the bishop calling William, asked him if he would recant; and so read to him his examination and confession, as is above rehearsed: and then rehearsed, how that William confessed that he did believe that he received Christ’s body spiritually, when he did receive the communion. “Dost thou mean,” quoth the bishop, “that the bread is Christ’s body spiritually?” William answered “I mean not so, but rather when I receive the holy communion rightly and worthily, I do feed upon Christ spiritually, through faith in my soul, and am made partaker of all the benefits which Christ hath brought unto all faithful believers through his precious death, passion and resurrection: and not, that the bread is his body, either spiritually or corporally.”
Then said the bishop to William. “Dost thou not think,” holding up his cap, “that, for example here of my cap, thou mayest see the squareness and color of it, and yet that not to be the substance, which thou judgest by the accidents?” William answered, “If you can separate the accidents from the substance, and show me the substance without the accidents, I could believe.” Then said the bishop, “Thou wilt not believe that God can do any thing above man’s capacity.” “Yes,” said William, “I must needs believe that; for daily experience teacheth all men that thing plainly: but our question is not what God can do, but what he will have us to learn in his holy supper.
Then the bishop said, “I always have found thee at this point, and I see no hope in thee to reclaim thee unto the catholic faith, but thou wilt continue a corrupt member:” and then pronounced sentence upon him, how that he should go from that place to Newgate for a time, and so from thence to Brentwood, “where,” said he, “thou shalt be burned.”
Then the bishop called for another, and so when he had condemned them all, he called for William Hunter, and persuaded with him; saying, “If thou wilt yet recant, I will make thee a freeman in the city, and give thee forty pound in good money to set up thine occupation withal: or I will make thee steward of my house, and set thee in office; for I like thee well. Thou hast wit enough, and I will prefer thee if thou recant.” But William answered, “I thank you for your great offers: notwithstanding, my lord,” said he, “if you cannot persuade my conscience with Scriptures, I cannot find in my heart to turn from God for the love of the world; for I count all things worldly, but loss and dung, in respect of the love of Christ.”
Then said the bishop, “If thou diest in this mind, thou art condemned for ever.” William answered, “God judgeth righteously, and justifieth them whom man condemneth unjustly.” Thus William and the bishop departed, William and the rest to Newgate, where they remained about a month; who afterward were sent down, William to Brentwood, and the others into divers places of the country. Now when William was come down to Brentwood, which was the Saturday before the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary that followed on the Monday after, William remained till the Tuesday after, because they would not put him to death then, for the holiness of the day.
In the mean time William’s father and mother came to him, and desired heartily of God that he might continue to the end in that good way which he had begun: and his mother said to him, that she was glad that ever she was so happy to bear such a child, which could find in his heart to lose his life for Christ’s name’s sake.
Then William said to his mother, “For my little pain which I shall suffer, which is but a short braid, Christ hath promised me, mother,” said he, “a crown of joy: may you not be glad of that, mother?” With that his mother kneeled down on her. knees, saying, “I pray God strengthen thee, my son, to the end. Yea, I think thee as well bestowed, as any child that ever I bare.”
At the which words master Higbed took her in his arms, saying, “I rejoice (and so said the others) “to see you in this mind; and you have a good cause to rejoice.” And his father and mother both said, that they were never of other mind, but prayed for him, that as he had begun to confess Christ before men, he likewise might so continue to the end. William’s father said, “I was afraid of nothing but that my son should have been killed in the prison by hunger and cold; the bishop was so hard to him.” But William confessed, after a month, that his father was charged with his board, that he lacked nothing; but had meat and clothing enough, yea even out of the court, both money, meat, clothes, wood and coals, and all things necessary.
Thus they continued in their inn, being the Swan in Brentwood, in a parlour, whither resorted many people of the country to see those good men which were there. And many of William’s acquaintance came to him, and reasoned with him, and he with them, exhorting them to come away from the abomination of popish superstition and idolatry.
Thus passing away Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, on Monday at night it happened that William had a dream about two o’clock in the morning, which was this: How that he was at the place where the stake was pitched, where he should be burned, which (as he thought in his dream) was at the town’s end where the butts stood; which was so indeed. And also he dreamed that he met with his father as he went to the stake, and also that there was a priest at the stake, who went about to have him recant. To whom he said (as he thought in his dream) how that he bade him, “Away, false prophet!” and how that he exhorted the people to beware of him, and such as he was: which things came to pass indeed. It happened that William made a noise to himself in his dream, which caused master Higbed and the others to awake him out of his sleep, to know what he lacked. When he awaked he told them his dream in order, as is said.
Now when it was day, the sheriff, master Brocket, called on to set forward to the burning of William Hunter. Then came the sheriff’s son to William Hunter, and embraced him in his right arm, saying, “William! be not afraid of these men which are here present with bows, bills, and weapons, ready prepared to bring you to the place where you shall be burned.” To whom William answered, “I thank God I am not afraid; for I have cast my count what it will cost me already.” Then the sheriff’s son could speak no more to him for weeping.
Then William Hunter plucked up his gown, and stepped over the parlour groundsel, and went forward cheerfully; the sheriff’s servant taking him by one arm, and I his brother by another. And thus going in the way, he met with his father according to his dream, and he spake to his son, weeping and saying, “God be with thee, son William!” And William said, “God be with you, good father, and be of good comfort; for I hope we shall meet again when we shall be merry.” His father said, “I hope so, William;” and so departed. So William went to the place where the stake stood, even according to his dream, where all things were very unready. Then William took a wet broom-faggot, and kneeled down thereon, and read the fifty-first Psalms, till he came to these words, “The sacrifice of God is a contrite spirit; a contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
Then said master Tyrill of the Beaches (called William Tyrill), “Thou liest, said he, “thou readest false; for the words are an humble spirit.” But William said, “The translation saith, a contrite heart.” “Yea,” quoth master Tyrill, “the translation is false: ye translate books as ye list yourselves, like heretics.’ “Well,” quoth William, “there is no great difference in those words.” Then said the sheriff, “Here is a letter from the queen. If thou wilt recant thou shalt live; if not, thou shalt be burned.” “No,” quoth William,” I will not recant, God willing.” Then William rose and went to the stake, and stood upright to it. Then came one Richard Ponde, a bailiff, and made fast the chain about William.
Then said William, “Good people! pray for me; and make speed and despatch quickly: and pray for me while you see me alive, good people! and I will pray for you likewise.” “Now,” quoth master Brown, “pray for thee! I will pray no more for thee, than I will pray for a dog.” To whom William answered, “Master Brown, now you have that which you sought for, and I pray God it be not laid to your charge in the last day: howbeit I forgive you.” Then said master Brown, “I ask no forgiveness of thee.” “Well,” said William, “if God forgive you, I shall not require my blood at your hands.”
Then said William, “Son of God shine upon me;” and immediately the sun in the element shone out of a dark cloud so full in his face, that he was constrained to look another way: whereat the people mused, because it was so dark a little time afore. Then William took up a faggot of broom, and embraced it in his arms.
Then the priest, which William dreamed of, came to his brother Robert with a popish book to carry to William, that he might recant; which book his brother would not meddle withal. Then William, seeing the priest, and perceiving how he would have showed him the book, said, “Away, thou false prophet! Beware of them, good people, and come away from their abominations, lest that you be partakers of their plagues.” “Then,” quoth the priest, “look how thou burnest here, so shalt thou burn in hell.” William answered, “Thou liest, thou false prophet! Away, thou false prophet, away!”
And William answered, “I am not afraid.” Then lift he up his hands to heaven, and said, “Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit; ” and, casting down his head again into the smothering smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his blood to the praise of God.
Now by and by after, master Brown commanded one old Hunt, to take his brother Robert Hunter, and lay him in the stocks till he returned from the burning of Higbed at Horndon on the Hill, the same day. Which thing old Hunt did. Then master Brown (when Robert Hunter came before him) asked if he would do as his brother had done. But Robert Hunter answered, “If I do as my brother hath done, I shall have as he hath had.” “Marry,” quoth master Brown, “thou mayest be sure of it.”
Then master Brown said, “I marvel that thy brother stood so to his tackling:” and moreover, he asked Robert, if William’s master of London were not at his burning. But Robert said, that he was not there; but master Brown bare him in hand that his master was there, and how that he did see him there: but Robert denied it. Then master Brown commanded the constable and Robert Hunter to go their ways home, and so had no further talk with them.
HERE FOLLOWETH THE HISTORY OF MASTER CAUSTON AND MASTER HIGBED, TWO WORTHY GENTLEMEN OF ESSEX, WHO, FOR THEIR SINCERE CONFESSION OF THEIR FAITH UNDER BONNER BISHOP OF LONDON, WERE MARTYRED AND BURNED IN ESSEX, A.D. 1555.
Although the condemnation of master Causton and master Higbed followed after the condemnation of those other martyrs who were condemned with Tomkins and Hunter above mentioned, yet, because the time of their execution was before the burning of the aforesaid four martyrs, forsomuch that they suffered the same day that William Hunter did, which was the 26th of March, I thought therefore, next after the story of the said William Hunter, following the order of time, here to place the same.
This master Causton and master Higbed, two worshipful gentlemen in the county of Essex, the one at Horndon on the Hill, the other of the parish of Thundersby, being zealous and religious in the true service of God; as they could not dissemble with the Lord their God, nor flatter with the world, so in time of blind superstition and wretched idolatry, they could not long lie hid and obscure in such a number of malignant adversaries, accusers, and servants of this world, but at length they were perceived and detected to the aforesaid Edmund Bonner bishop of London; peradventure not without the same organ which sent up William Hunter, as is above declared. By reason whereof, by commandment they were committed to the officers of Colchester to be safely kept, and with them also a servant of Thomas Causton, who, in this praise of christian godliness, was nothing inferior to his master.
Bonner, the foresaid bishop, perceiving these two gentlemen to be of worshipful estate, and of great estimation in that country, lest any tumult should thereby arise, came thither himself, accompanied with master Fecknam and certain others, thinking to reclaim them to his faction and fashion: so that great labor and diligence was taken therein, as well by tenors and threatenings, as by large promises and flattering, and all fair means, to reduce them again to the unity (as they termed it) of the mother church.
In fine, when nothing could prevail to make them assent to their doings, at length they came to this point, that they required certain respite to consult with themselves what was best to do. Which time of deliberation being expired, and they remaining still constant and unmovable in their professed doctrine, and setting out also their confession in writing, the bishop seeing no good to be done in tarrying any longer there, departed thence, and carried them both with him to London; and with them certain other prisoners also, which about the same time in those quarters were apprehended.
THE FIRST DAY’S SESSION.
It was not long after this, but these prisoners, being at London committed to strait prison, and there attempted sundry ways by the bishop and his chaplains to revoke their opinions: at length, when no persuasions would serve, they were brought forth to open examination at the consistory in Paul’s, the 17th day of February, A.D. 1555; where they were demanded as well by the said bishop, as also by the bishop of Bath, and others, whether they would recant their errors and perverse doctrine (as they termed it), and so come to the unity of the popish church. Which when they refused to do, the bishop assigned them likewise the next day to appear again, being the 18th of February.
THE SECOND DAY’S SESSION.
On the which day, among many other things there said and passed, he read unto them severally certain articles, and gave them respite until the next day to answer unto the same; and so committed them again to prison. The copy of which articles hereunder followeth.
First That thou Thomas Causton (or Thomas Higbed) hast been and art of the diocese of London, and also of the jurisdiction now of me, Edmund bishop of London. Item, That thou wast in time past, according to the order of the church of England, baptized and christened. Item, That thou hadst godfathers and godmother, according to the said order. Item, That the said godfathers and godmother did then promise for thee, and in thy name, the faith and religion that then was used in the realm of England. Item, That that faith and religion, which they did profess and make for thee, was accounted and taken to be the faith and religion of the church, and of the christian people: and so was it in very deed. Item, Thou coming to the age of discretion (that is to say, to the age of fourteen years.) didst not mislike nor disallow that faith, that religion, or promise then used and approved and promised by the said godfathers and godmother, but for a time didst continue in it, as others (taking themselves for christian people) did likewise. Item, That at that time, and also before, it was taken for a doctrine of the church, catholic and true, and everywhere in Christendom then allowed for catholic and true, and to be the profession of a christian man, to believe, that in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, after the consecration, there was, and is, by the omnipotent power and will of Almighty God, and his word, without any substance of bread and wine there remaining, the true and natural body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ in substance, which was born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered upon the cross, really, truly, and in very deed. Item, That at that time thy father and mother, all thine ancestors, all thy kindred, acquaintance, and friends, and thy said godfathers and godmother, did then so believe, and think in all the same as the said church did therein believe. Item, That thyself hast had no just cause or lawful ground to depart or swerve from the said religion or faith, nor any occasion at all, except thou wilt follow and believe the erroneous opinion or belief that hath been (against the common order of the church) brought in by certain disordered persons of late, at the uttermost within these thirty or forty years last past. Item, That thou dost know, or credibly hast heard, and dost believe, that Dr. Robert Barnes, John Frith, Thomas Gerrard, Jerome Lassels, Anne Askew, John Hooper late bishop of Gloucester, sir Laurence Saunders priest, John Bradford, sir John Rogers priest, sir Rowland Taylor priest, sir John Laurence priest, William Pygot, Stephen Knight, William Hunter, Thomas Tomkins, and Thomas Hawkes, have been heretofore reputed, taken, and accounted as heretics, and also condemned as heretics, and so pronounced openly and manifestly; specially in holding and believing certain damnable opinions, against the verity of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the altar,1 and all the same persons (saving John Bradford, sir John Laurence, William Pygot, Stephen Knight, William Hunter, Thomas Tomkins, and Thomas Hawkes) have suffered pains of death by fire, for the maintenance and defense of their said opinions and misbelief. Item, That thou dost know, or credibly hast heard, and dost believe, that Thomas Cranmer, late archbishop of Canterbury; and Nicholas Ridley, naming himself bishop of London; Robert Ferrar, late bishop of St. David’s; and Hugh Latimer, some time bishop of Worcester; have been, and are at this present, reputed, accounted, and taken as heretics and misbelievers, in maintaining and holding certain damnable opinions against the verity of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the altar. Item, That thou hast commended and praised all the said persons, so erring and believing (or at the leastwise some of them), secretly, and also openly, taking and believing them to be faithful and catholic people, and their said opinions to be good and true; and the same, to the best and uttermost of thy power, thou hast allowed, maintained, and defended at sundry times. Item, That thou, having heard, known, and understood, all the premises thus to be as is aforesaid, hast not regarded all or any part thereof, but, contrary to the same and every part thereof, hast attempted and done; condemning, transgressing, and breaking the promise, faith, religion, order, and custom aforesaid: and hast become, and art a heretic and misbeliever in the premises, denying the Verity of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament of the altar, and obstinately affirming, that the substance of the material bread and wine is there remaining, and that the substance of Christ’s body and blood, taken of the Virgin Mary, is not there in the said sacrament really and truly being. Item, That all the premises be true, notorious, famous, and manifest; and that upon all the same, there have and be amongst the sad and good people of the city of London, and diocese of the same, in great multitude, commonly and publicly, a common and public fame and opinion, and also in all places where thou hast been, within the said diocese of London.
These articles being given to them in writing by the bishop, the next day following was assigned to them to give up and exhibit their answers unto the same.
THE THIRD DAYS SESSION UPON THE EXAMINATION OF MASTER CAUSTON AND MASTER HIGBED.
Upon that day, being the first day of March, the said Thomas Causton and Thomas Higbed, gentlemen, being brought before the bishop in the consistory, there exhibited their answers to the articles aforesaid: the tenor of which answers here followeth.
THE ANSWERS OF THOMAS CAUSTON AND THOMAS HIGBED, SEVERALLY MADE TO THE FORESAID ARTICLES OBJECTED AS BEFORE.
To the first, they answer and confess the same to be true.
To the second, they answer and believe the same to be true.
To the third, they answer and believe the same to be true.
To the fourth, they answer and think the same to be true.
To the fifth, until this clause, “and so was it in very deed,” they answer and believe the same to be true. And unto that clause, “and so was it in very deed,” they answer negatively, and believe that it was not in very deed.
To the sixth, seventh, and eighth, they answer and believe the same to be true.
To the ninth, they answer and say, that they think they have a just and lawful cause and ground to swerve and go from the said faith and religion, because they have now read more Scripture, than either themselves, or their parents and kinsfolk, godfathers or godmothers, have read or seen heretofore in that behalf.
To the tenth, they answer, say, and believe, that the said persons articulate, have been named, taken, and counted for heretics, and so condemned for heretics: yet about three years past, they were taken for good christian persons. And forasmuch as these respondents did ever hear them preach concerning the sacrament of the altar, they say that they preached well, in that they said and preached that Christ is not present really and truly in the sacrament; but that there is remaining the substance of bread and wine.
To the eleventh, they answer and say, that howsoever other folks do repute and take the said persons articulate, yet these respondents themselves did never, nor yet do, so account and take them. And further they say, that in case the said persons articulate, named in this article, have preached that in the sacrament of the altar is very material wine, and not the substance of Christ’s body and blood under the forms of bread and wine, then they preached well and truly, and these respondents themselves do so believe.
To the twelfth, they answer and say, that whereas other folk have dispraised the said persons articulate, and disallowed their opinions, these respondents (for ought that they at any time have heard) did like and allow the said persons, and their sayings.
To the thirteenth, they answer and say, that they have not broken or condemned any promise made by their godfathers and godmothers for them at their baptism, and that they are no heretics or misbelievers, in that they believe that there remaineth only bread and wine in the sacrament of the altar, and that Christ’s natural body is not there, but in heaven: for they say, that the Scriptures so teach them.
To the fourteenth, they answer and believe, that the premises before by them confessed be true, notorious, and manifest.
After these answers exhibited and perused, then the bishop, speaking unto them after this sort, beginneth first (as he did ever before) with Thomas Causton. “Because ye shall not be suddenly trapped, and that men shall not say that I go about to seek snares to put you away; I have hitherto respited you, that you should weigh and consider with yourself your state and condition, and that you should, while ye have time and space, acknowledge the truth, and return to the unity of the catholic church.”
Then the bishop, reading their former articles and answers to the same, asked them if they would recant: which when they denied, they were again dismissed and commanded to appear the Wednesday next after, at two o’clock at afternoon, there to receive their definitive sentence against them: which thing (as it seemeth) was yet deferred.
ANOTHER EXAMINATION OF MASTER CAUSTON AND MASTER HIGBED.
The next Friday, being the 8th of March, the said Thomas Causton was first called to examination before the bishop, Fecknam, and Dr. Stempe, being in his palace, and there had read unto him his foresaid articles with his answers thereunto; and after certain exhortations t