Foxe's Book of Martyrs
History and Martyrdom of Bishop Ridley and Bishop Latimer, and Character of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.
On the 16th of October, 1555, those two pillars of Christ's church, Dr. Nicholas Ridley, bishop of London, and Mr. Hugh Latimer, some time bishop of Worcester, were burnt in one fire at Oxford. Men ever memorable for their piety, learning, and incomparable ornaments and gifts of grace, joined with no less commendable sincerity of life.
Dr. Ridley was born in the county of Northumberland, and was descended from a most respectable family. He received the rudiments of his education at Newcastle; and, when a child, discovered great promptness in learning. From Newcastle he was removed to the university of Cambridge, where in a short time he became so famous, that for his singular aptness, he was called to higher functions and offices of the university, by degrees pertaining thereunto, and was at length placed at the head of Pembroke-hall, and there made doctor of divinity. After this, departing from thence he travailed to Paris, and at his return was made chaplain to king Henry VIII., and promoted afterwards to the bishopric of Rochester, and from thence, in king Edward's days, translated to the more important bishopric of London.
In his several offices he so diligently applied himself by preaching and teaching the true and wholesome doctrine of Christ, that no good child was more singularly loved by his dear parents, than he by his flock and diocese. Every holiday and Sunday he preached in one place or other, except he were otherwise hindered by weighty affairs and business; and to his sermons the people resorted in great numbers, swarming about him like bees; and so faithfully did his life pourtray his doctrines, that even his very enemies could not reprove him in anything. His learning, moreover, was superior, his memory was great, and he had attained such reading withal, that he deserved to be compared to the best men of his age, as his works, sermons, and sundry disputations in both the universities well testified. He was also wise of counsel, deep of wit, and very politic in all things doings. He was anxious to gain the papists from their erroneous opinions, and sought by gentleness to win them to the truth, as his gentleness and courteous treatment of Dr. Heath, who was prisoner in his house a whole year, sufficiently proved. In fine, he was in all points so good, pious, and spiritual a man, that England never saw his superior.
He was comely in his person, and well proportioned. He took all things in good part, bearing no malice nor rancour against any one, but straightways forgetting all injuries and offences done against him. He was very kind and faithful to his relations; and yet not bearing with them any otherwise than right would require, giving them always for general rule, yea to his own brother and sister, that they doing evil should look for nothing at his hand, but should be as strangers and aliens to him, and that to be his brother and sister in deed and in truth, they must be children of God, disciples of Christ, and live towards all men in peace and love.
He used all kinds of ways to mortify himself, and was much given to prayer and contemplation: for duly every morning, as soon as he was dressed, he went to his chamber, and there upon his knees prayed for half an hour; which being done, immediately he went to his study where he continued till ten o'clock, and then came to the common prayer daily used in his house. These being done he went to dinner; where he talked little, except where occasion required, and then it was sober, discreet, and wise, and sometimes merry if reasonable cause allowed and justified it. The dinner done, which was not very long, he used to sit an hour, or thereabouts, talking, or playing at chess: he then returned to his study, and there would continue, except visitors or business abroad prevented him, until five o'clock, when he would come to common prayer, as in the forenoon; which being finished, he went to supper, behaving himself there as at his dinner before. After supper he recreated himself again at chess, after which he would return again to his study; continuing there till eleven o'clock at night, which was his common hour of going to bed, after saying his prayers upon his knees as in the morning when his rose. When at his manor of Fulham, he used to read daily a lecture to his family at the common prayer, beginning at the Acts of the Apostles, and so going through all the epistles of St. Paul, giving to every man that could read a New Testament, rewarding them also with money, for learning by heart certain principal chapters; being marvelously careful over his family, that they might be a pattern of all virtue and honesty to others. In short, as he was godly and virtuous himself, so nothing but virtue and godliness reigned in his house, feeding them with the food of our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The following is a striking instance of the benevolence of his temper, shewn to Mrs. Bonner, mother of Dr. Bonner, bishop of London. When at his manor of Fulham he always sent for Mrs. Bonner, who dwelt in a house adjoining his own, to dinner and supper, with Bonner's sister. She was always placed in the chair at the head of the table, being as gently treated and welcomed as his own mother, and he would never have her displaced from her seat, although the king's council had been present; saying, when any of them were there, "By your lordship's favour, this place of right and custom is for my mother Bonner." How well he was recompensed for this singular kindness and gentle pity afterwards at the hands of Dr. Bonner, is too well known. For who afterwards was a greater enemy to Dr. Ridley than Dr. Bonner? Who went more about to seek his destruction than he? Recommencing his gentleness with extreme cruelty; as well appeared by the severity against Dr. Ridley's own sister and her husband: whereas the gentleness of the other permitted Bonner's mother, sister, and others of his kindred, not only quietly to enjoy all that which they had from bishop Bonner, but also entertained them in his house, shewing much courtesy and friendship daily unto them; while, on the other side, Bonner being restored again, would not suffer the brother and sister of bishop Ridley, and other of his friends, to enjoy that which they had by their brother, but also churlishly, without all order of law or honesty, wrested from them all the livings they had in their own right.
Dr. Ridley was first called to the favouring of Christ and his gospel, by the reading of Bertram's book of the sacrament; and the conference with archbishop Cranmer, and with Peter Martyr, did not a little confirm him in that belief. Being now, by the grace of God, thoroughly won and brought to the true way, as he was before blind and zealous in his old ignorance, so was he constant and faithful in the right knowledge which the Lord had opened unto him, and so long he did much good, when power and authority defended the gospel, and supported the peace and happiness of the church. But after it pleased God to bereave us of our stay, in taking from us king Edward, the whole state of the church of England was left desolate and open to the enemy's hand: so that bishop Ridley, after the coming in of queen Mary, was one of the first upon whom they laid their hands, and committed to prison, as hath been sufficiently declared; first in the Tower, and from thence conveyed with archbishop Cranmer and bishop Latimer, to Oxford, and with them inclosed in the common prison of Bocardo; but at length being separated from them, he was committed to custody in the house of one Irish, where he remained till the day of his martyrdom, which was upwards of eight months.
While he continued in prison with his fellow-sufferer Latimer, they would sometimes confer together by letter, when they could not with safety converse with the tongue. The following is a specimen of this kind of prison conversation.
Ridley says, "In writing again you have done me an unspeakable pleasure, and I pray that the Lord may requite it you in that day. For I have received great comfort at your words: but yet I am not so filled withal, but that I thirst much more now than before, to drink more of that cup of yours, wherein you mingle unto me profitable with pleasant. I pray you, good father, let me have one draught more to comfort my stomach. For surely, except the Lord assist me with his gracious aid, in the time of his service, I know I shall play but the part of a whitelivered knight. But truly my trust is in him, that in mine infirmity he should try himself strong, and that he can make the coward in his cause to fight like a man. I now begin almost every day to look when Diotrephes with his warriors shall assault me: wherefore I pray you, good father, for that you are an old soldier, and an expert warrior, and God knoweth I am but a young solider, and as yet of small experience in these feats, help me, I pray you, to buckle my harness. And now I would have you to think, that these darts are cast at my head by some one of Diotrephes' or Antonius; soldiers."
Latimer answers, " 'Except the Lord help me,' ye say. Truth it is: 'for without me, ' saith he, 'ye can do nothing;' much less suffer death of our adversaries, through the bloody law now prepared against us. But it followeth, 'If you abide in me, and my word abide in you, ask what you will, and it shall be done for you.' What can be more comfortable? Sir, you make answer yourself so well, that I cannot better it. Sir, I begin now to smell what you mean by travelling thus with me; you use me as Bilney did once, when he converted me, pretending as though he would be taught by me, he sought ways and means to teach me, and so do you. I thank you therefore most heartily. For indeed you minister armour unto me, whereas I was unarmed before and unprovided, saving that I give myself to prayer for my refuge.
The objector, whose darts Ridley apprehended, visited both these good men in prison, and thus assailed them.
Obj. All men marvel greatly, why you, after the liberty granted unto you, more than the rest, do not go to mass, which is a thing much esteemed by all men, yea, of the queen herself.
Rid. Because no man that layeth hand on the plough an looketh back is fit for the kingdom of God, and also for the self-same cause why St. Paul would not suffer Titus to be circumcised, which is that the truth of the gospel might remain with us incorrupt. And also, "If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a trespasser." This is likewise another cause: lest I should seem by outward fact to allow the thing, which I am persuaded is contrary to sound doctrine, and so should be a stumbling-block unto the weak. But "woe be unto him by whom offence cometh: it were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the midst of the sea."
Obj. What is it then that offendeth you so greatly in the mass, that you will not vouchsafe once either to hear or see it? And from whence cometh this new religion upon you? Have you not been used in times past to say mass yourself?
Rid. I confess my fault and ignorance; but know you that for these matters I have done penance long ago, both at St. Paul's Cross, and also openly in the pulpit at Cambridge, and I trust that God hath forgiven me this mine offence: for I did it ignorantly. But if you be desirous to know, and will vouchsafe to hear what things offend me in the mass, I will rehearse those which be most clear, and seem most manifestly to impugn God's word, and they are these--The strange tongue; the want of the shewing of the Lord's death; the breaking of the Lord's commandment of having a communion; the sacrament is not communicated to all under both kinds, according to the word of the Lord; the sign is servilely worshipped for the thing signified; Christ's passion is injured, forasmuch as this mass-sacrifice is affirmed to remain for the purging of sins; to be short, the manifold superstitions, and trifling fooleries which are in the mass, and about the same.
Lat. Better a few things well pondered, than to trouble the memory with too much; you shall prevail more with praying, than with studying, though mixture be best, for so one shall alleviate the tediousness or the other. I intend not to contend much with them in words, after a reasonable account of my faith given: for it will be but in vain. They will say as their fathers said, when they have no more to say--"We have a law, and by our law he ought to die." "Be you steadfast and immovable, abounding in the work.--Stand fast." How oft is this repeated--" If you abide in me, and in my word." But we shall be called obstinate, sturdy, ignorant, heady, and what not; so that a man hath need of much patience, having to do with such men.
Obj. But you know how great a crime it is to separate yourself from the communion of fellowship of the church, and to make a schism, or division. You have been reported to have hated the sect of the anabaptist, and always to have impugned the same. Moreover, this was the pernicious error of Novatus, and of the heretics called Cathari, that they would not communicate with the church.
Rid. I know that the unity of the church is to be retained by all means, and the same is necessary to salvation. But I do not take the mass, as it is at this day, for the communion of the church, but a popish device, whereby both the commandment and the institution of our Saviour, for the oft frequenting of the remembrance of his death, is eluded, and the people of God are miserably deluded. The sect of the anabaptists, and the heresy of the Navatians, ought of right to be condemned, forasmuch as without any just or necessary cause, they wickedly separated themselves from the communion of the congregation; for they did not allege that the sacraments were unduly administered; but turning their eyes from themselves, and casting their eyes ever upon others, they always reproved something, for which they abstained from the communion, as from an unholy thing.
Lat. I remember that Calvin beginneth to confute the Interim after this sort, with this saying of Hilary--"The name of peace is beautiful, and the opinion of unity is fair: but who doubteth that to be the true and only peace of the church, which is Christ's?" I would you had that little book, there would you see how much is to be given to unity. St. Paul, when he requireth unity, joineth with it, according to Jesus Christ, no further. Diotrephes now of late, did always harp upon unity. Yea, Sir, said I, but in verity, not popery. Better is diversity, than unity in popery.
Obj. But admit there be in the mass what peradventure might be amended, or at least made better; yea, seeing you will have it so, admit there be a fault; if you do not consent thereto, why do you trouble yourself in vain? Do you not know both by Cyprian and Augustine, that communion of sacraments doth not defile a man, but consent of deeds?
Rid. If it were any one trifling ceremony, or if it were some one thing of itself indifferent, for the continuance of the common quietness I could be content to bear it. But forasmuch as things done in the mass tend openly to the overthrow of Christ's institution, I judge that by no means either in word or deed I ought to consent unto it. As for that which is objected out of the fathers, I acknowledge it to be well spoken, if it be well understood. But it is meant of them which suppose they are defiled, if any secret vice be either in the ministers, or in them that communicate with them; and is not meant of them which suppose they are defiled, if any secret vice be either in the ministers, or in them that communicate with them; and is not meant of them which abhor superstition, and wicked traditions of men, and will not suffer the same to be thrust upon themselves, or upon the church, instead of God's word and the truth of the gospel.
Lat. The mass is altogether detestable, and by no means to be borne withal; so that of necessity, the mending of it is to abolish it for ever. For if you take away ablation and adoration, which hang upon consecration and transubstantiation, most of the papists will not set a button by the mass, as a thing which they esteem not, but for the gain that followeth thereon. For if the English communion, which of late was used, were as gainful to them as the mass hath been heretofore, they would strive no more for their mass: from thence groweth the grief.
Obj. Consider into what dangers you cast yourself, if you forsake the church; and you cannot but forsake it, if you refuse to go to mass. For the mass is the sacrament of unity; without the ark there is no salvation. The church is the ark and Peter's ship. You know this saying well enough--"He shall not have God to be his Father, which acknowledgeth not the church to be his mother." Moreover, without the church, as Augustine saith, be the life ever so well spent, none shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Rid. The holy catholic or universal church, which is the communion of saints, the house of God, the city of God, the spouse of Christ, the body of Christ, the pillar and stay of truth; this church I believe according to the creed; this church I do reverence and honour in the Lord. But the rule of this church is the word of God, according to which rule we go forward unto life. "And as many as walk according to this rule," I say with St. Paul, "peace be upon them, and upon Israel, which pertaineth unto God." The guide of this church is the Holy Ghost. The marks whereby this church is known unto me in this dark world, and in the midst of this crooked and forward generation, are--the sincere preaching of God's holy word, the due administration of the sacraments, charity, and faithful observing of ecclesiastical discipline, according to the word of God. And that church or congregation which is garnished with these marks, is in very deed that heavenly Jerusalem, which consisteth of those that be born from above. This is the mother of us all, and by God's grace I will live and die the child of this church. Out of this, I grant, there is no salvation; and I suppose the rest of the places objected are rightly to be understand of this church only. 'In times past, there were many ways to know the church of Christ, that is to say, by good life, by miracles, by chastity, by doctrine, by administering the sacraments. But from the time that heresies took hold of the church, it is only know by the scriptures which is the true church. They have all things in outward show, which the true church. To that which they say, that the mass is the sacrament of unity, I answer--The read which we break, according to the institution of the Lord, is the sacrament of the unity of Christ's mystical body. "For we being many, are one bread and one body, forasmuch as we are all partakers of one bread." But in the mass, the Lord's institution is not observed; for we are not all partakers of one bread, but one devoureth all. So that it may seem a sacrament of singularity, and of a certain special privilege for one sect of people, whereby they may be discerned from the rest, rather than a sacrament of unity, wherein our knitting together in one is represented.
Lat. Yea, what fellowship hath Christ with antichrist? Therefore it is not lawful to bear the yoke with papists. "Come forth from among them, and separate yourselves from them," saith the Lord. It is one thing to be the church indeed, another thing to counterfeit it. Would to God it were well known what is the forsaking of the church. In king Edward's days, who was the church of England? The king and his favourers, or mass-mongers in corners? If the king and the favourers of his proceedings, why were we not now the church, abiding in the same proceeding? If private mass-mongers might be of the church, and yet contrary to the king's proceedings, why may we not be of the church contrary to the queen's proceedings? Not all that are covered with the title of the church, are the church indeed. Separate thyself from them that are such, saith St. Paul. From whom? The text hath before--"If any man follow other doctrines, he is puffed up and knoweth nothing." Weigh the whole text, that you may perceive what is the fruit of contentious disputations. But wherefore are such men said to know nothing, when they know so many things? You know the old verses--
Si Christum bene scis, sutis est, si cetera nescis.
Therefore would St. Paul know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. As many as are papists and mass-mongers, they may well be said to know nothing. For they know not Christ, forasmuch as in their massing, they take much away from the benefit and merit of Christ.
Obj. That church when you have described to me is invisible, but Christ's church is visible and known. For else why should Christ have said, "Tell it unto the church?" For he had commanded in vain to go unto the church, if a man cannot tell which it is.
Rid. The church which I have described is visible, it hath members which may be seen; and also I have before declared, by what marks and tokens it may be known; but if either our eyes be so dazzled, that we cannot see, or that Satan hath brought such darkness into the world, that it is hard to discern the church, that is not the fault of the church, but either of our blindness, or of Satan's darkness. But yet in this most deep darkness, there is one most clear lamp, which of itself alone is able to put away all darkness. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light into my steps."
Obj. The church of Christ is a catholic or universal church, dispersed throughout the whole world; this church is the great house of God, in which are good men and evil mingled together, goats and sheep, corn and chaff: it is the net which gathereth all kinds of fishes. This church cannot err, because Church hath promised it his Spirit, which shall lead it into all truth, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; that he will be with it unto the end of the world; whatsoever it shall loose or bind upon earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. This church is the pillar and stay of truth; this is it for which St. Augustine saith, he believeth the gospel. But this universal church alloweth the mass, because the greater part of the same alloweth it.
Rid. I grant that the name of the church is taken after three divers manners in the scripture. Sometimes for the whole multitude of them who profess the name of Christ, of which they are also named Christians. But as St. Paul saith of the Jews, not every one is a Jew, that is so outwardly; neither yet all that be of Israel are counted the seed; even so, not every one that is a christian outwardly is a christian indeed. For if any man have not the spirit of Christ, the same is none of his. Therefore that church which is his body, and of which Christ is the head, standeth only on living stones, and true christians, not only outwardly in name and title, but inwardly in heart and in truth. But forasmuch as this church, as touching the outward fellowship, is contained within the great house, and hath with the same outward society of the sacraments and ministry of the word, many things are spoken of that universal church which cannot truly be understood, but only if that pure part of the church. So that the rule of Ticonius concerning the mingled church, may here well take place; where there is attributed unto the whole church that which cannot agree to the same, but by reason of the one part thereof; that is, either for the multitude of good men, which is the very true church indeed; or for the multitude of evil men, which is the malignant church and synagogue of Satan. And there is also a third taking of the church; of which although there be seldom mention in the scriptures in that signification, yet in the world, even in the most famous assemblies of Christendom, this church hath borne the greatest sway. This distinction pre-supposed of the three sorts of church, it is an easy matter, by a figure called synecdoche, to give to the mingled and universal church that which cannot truly be understood, but only of the one part thereof. But if any man will affirm that universality doth so pertain unto the church, that whatsoever Christ hath promised to the church, it must needs be understood of that, I would gladly know of the same man where that universal church was in the times of the patriarchs and prophets, of Noah, Abraham, and Moses, of Elias, and Jeremiah, of Christ and the apostles, in the time of Arius, when Constantius was emperor, and Felix, bishop of Rome, succeeded Liberius. It is worthy to be noted, what Lyra writeth upon Matthew--"The church doth not stand in men by reason of their power or dignity, whether it be ecclesiastical or secular. For princes and popes, and other inferiors, have been found to have fallen away from God. Therefore the church consisteth in those persons, in whom is true knowledge and confession of the faith, and of the truth. Evil men are in the church in name, and not in deed." And St. Augustine saith--"Whoever is afraid to be deceived by the darkness of this question, let him ask counsel at the same church of it; which church the scripture doth point out without any doubtfulness." All my notes which I have written and gathered out of such authors as I have read in this matter, and such like, are come into the hands of such as will not let me have the least of all my written books; wherein I am enforced to complain of them unto God: for they spoil me of all my labours, which I have taken in my study these many years. My memory was never good, for help whereof I have used for the most part, to gather out notes of my reading, and so to place them, that thereby I might have had the use of time when the time required. But who knoweth whether this be God's will, that I should be thus ordered, and spoiled of the poor learning I had in store, to the intent that I, now destitute of that, should from henceforth with St. Paul learn only to know Christ and him crucified? The Lord grant me herein to be a good young scholar, and to learn this lesson so well, that neither death nor life, wealth nor woe, make me ever to forget it.
Lat. I have no more to say in this matter for yourself have said all that is to be said. The strong saying of St. Augustine--I would not believe the Gospel, but as the church declareth it--was wont to trouble many men; as I remember, I have read it well qualified by Philip Melancthon. This it is in effect: the church is not a judge but a witness. There were some in his time that lightly esteemed the testimony of the church, and the outward ministry of preaching, and rejected the outward word itself, cleaving only to their inward revelations. Such rash contempt of the word provoked and drove St. Auaustine into that excessive vehemency. In which, after the bare sound of the words, he might seem to such as do not attain unto his meaning, that he preferred the church far before the gospel, and that the church hath a free authority over the same; but that pious man never thought so. It were a saying worthy to be brought forth against the Anabaptists, who thought the open ministry to be a thing not necessary, if they any thing esteemed such testimonies. I would not hesitate to affirm, that the most part of the whole universal church may easily err. And again I would not hesitate to affirm, that it is one thing to be gathered together in the name of Christ, and another thing to come together with a mass of the Holy Ghost going before. For in the first, Christ ruleth; in the latter, the devil beareth the sway; and how can any thing be good which they thus go about? From this latter shall our six articles come forth again into the light, they themselves being very darkness. But it is demanded, whether the sounder or better part of the catholic church may be seen of men? St. Paul saith--"The Lord knoweth them that are his." What manner of speaking is this in commendation of the Lord, if we knew as well as he who are his? Well, thus is the text--"the sure foundation of God standeth still, and hath this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every man that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Now how many are there of the whole catholic church of England who depart from iniquity? How many of the noblemen, how many of the bishops or clergy, how many of the rich men, or merchants, how many of the queen's counsellors, yea, how many of the whole realm? In how small room then, I pray you, is the true church within the realm of England? And where is it? And in what state?
Obj. General councils represent the universal church, and have this promise of Christ--"Where two or three be gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." If Christ be present with two or three, then much more where there is so great a multitude. But in general councils mass hath been approved and used.
Rod. Of the universal church which is mingled of good and bad, thus I think--Whensoever they which be chief in it, which rule and govern the same, and to whom the whole mystical body of Christ doth obey, are the lively members of Christ, and walk after the guiding and rule of his word, and go before the flock to everlasting life, then undoubtedly councils gathered together of such guides and pastors of the christen flock, do indeed represent the christian church; and being so gathered in the name of Christ, they have a promise of the gift and guiding of his Spirit into all truth. But that any such council hath at any time allowed the mass, such an one as ours was of late, in a strange tongue, and stuffed with so many absurdities, errors, and superstitions; that I utterly deny, and affirm it to be impossible. For like as there is no agreement betwixt light and darkness, betwixt Christ and Belial; so surely superstition and the sincere religion of Christ, will-worship and the pure worshipping of God, such as God requireth of his, in spirit and truth, never can agree together. You will say, where so great a company is gathered together it is not credible but there are two or three gathered in the name of Christ. I answer, If there be one hundred good, and two hundred bad, what can the less number of voices avail? It is a known thing, and a common proverb, oftentimes the greater part overcometh the better.
Lat. As touching general councils, at this present I have no more to say than you have said. Only I refer you to your own experience, to think of our country parliaments and convocations, how and what you have seen and heard. The greater part in my time did bring forth six articles: for then the king would have it so, being seduced of certain. Afterward the greater part did repel the same, our good Josias willing to have it so. The same articles gain another great but worse part hath restored. O what an uncertainty is this! But after this manner most commonly are men's proceedings. God be merciful unto us! Who shall deliver us from such torments of mind? Therefore is death the best physician unto the faithful, whom he together and at once delivereth from all griefs.
Obj. If the matter should go thus, that in general councils men should not stand to the greater number of the multitude, then should no certain rule be left unto the church, by which controversies in weighty matters might be determined: but it is not to be believed, that Christ would leave his church destitute of so necessary a help and safeguard.
Rid. Christ, who is the most loving spouse of his church, who also gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it unto himself, did give unto it abundantly all things which are necessary to salvation; but yet so, that the church should declare itself obedient unto him in all things and keep itself within the bounds of his commandments, and not to seek any thing which he teacheth not, as necessary unto salvation.Now for determination of all controversies in his religion, Christ himself hath left unto the church not only Moses and the prophets, whom he willeth in all doubts to go unto, and ask counsel at, but also the gospels, and the rest of the body of the New Testament; in which whatsoever is heard of Moses and the prophets, and whatsoever is necessary to be known unto salvation, is revealed and opened. So that now we have no need to say--"Who shall climb up into heaven, or who shall go down into the depth," to tell us what is needful to be done? Christ hath done both, and hath commended us to the word of faith, which also is abundantly declared to us; so that hereafter, if we walk earnestly in this way to the searching out of the truth, it is not to be doubted but through the certain benefit of his Spirit, which he hath promised unto us, we may find it, and obtain everlasting life. Should men ask counsel of the dead for the living? saith Isaiah. Let them go rather to the law and to the testimony. Christ sendeth them that be desirous to know the truth unto the scriptures, saying--"Search the scriptures." I remember a like thing well spoken of St. Jerome--"Ignorance of the scriptures is the mother and cause of all errors." and in another place, as I remember, in the same author--"The knowledge of the scriptures is the food of everlasting life." But now methinks I enter into a very broad sea, in that I begin to shew, either out of the scriptures themselves, or out of the ancient writers, how much the holy scripture is of force to teach the truth of our religion. But this is it that I am now about, that Christ would have the church, his spouse, in all matters of doubt to ask counsel at the word of his Father, written and faithfully left, and commended unto it in both Testaments. Neither do we read, that Christ in any place hath laid so great a burden upon the members of his spouse, that he hath commanded them to go to the universal church. "Whatsoever things are written, are written for our learning." Christ gave unto his church, "some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds and teachers, to the edifying of the saints, till we come all to the unity of the faith." But that all men should meet together out of all parts of the world, to define the articles of our faith, I neither find it commanded by Christ, nor written in the word of God.
Lat. There is difference between things pertaining to God or faith, and politic and civil matters. For in the first we must stand only to the scriptures, which are able to make us all perfect and instructed unto salvation, if they be well understood. And they offer themselves to be well understood only to them, which have good-wills, and give themselves to study and prayer. Neither are there any men less apt to understand them, than the prudent and wise men of the world. But in the other, that is, in civil and politic matters, oftentimes the magistrates tolerate a less evil for avoiding a greater. And it is the property of a wise man to dissemble many things, and he that cannot dissemble, cannot rule. In which they betrayed themselves, that they do not earnestly weigh what is just, and what is not. Wherefore for as much as man's laws, if they be but in this respect only, that they be devised by men, are not able to bring any thing to perfection, but are enforced of necessity to suffer many things out of square, and are compelled sometimes to wink at the worst things; seeing they know not how to maintain the common peace and quiet otherwise, they do ordain that the greater part shall take place. You know what these kind of speeches mean; I speak after the manner of men; you walk after the manner of men; all men are liars. St. Augustine well saith--"If ye live after man's reason, ye do not life after the will of God."
Obj. If you say that councils have sometimes erred, or may err, how then should we believe the catholic church? since councils are gathered by the authority of the catholic church.
Rid. From "may be," to "be indeed," is no good argument; but from "being," to "may be," no man doubteth but it is a most sure argument That councils have sometimes erred, it is manifest. How many were there in the eastern world, which condemned the Nicene council? and all those who would not forsake the same, they called by a slanderous name, Homousians. Were not Athanasius, Chrysostom, Cyril, and Eustachius, men very well learned, and of godly life, banished and condemned as famous heretics, and that by evil councils? How many things are there in the canons and institutions of the councils, which the papists themselves do much dislike? But here peradventure one man will say unto me, We will grant you this in provincial councils, or councils of some one nation, that they may sometimes err, forsomuch as they do not represent the universal church; but it is not to be believed, that the general and full councils have erred at any time. I will recite one place only out of St. Augustine which, in my judgment, may suffice in this matter instead of many. "Who knoweth not that the holy scripture is so set before us, that it is not lawful to doubt of it; and that the letters of bishops may be reproved by other men's words, and by councils; and that the councils themselves which are gathered by provinces and countries, do give place to the authority of the general and full councils; and that the former and general councils are amended by the latter, when as by some experience of things, either what was shut up is opened, or that which was hid is known?" Thus much out of St. Augustine. But I will plead our Antonian, upon matter confessed. Here with us as we popery reigned, I pray you how doth that book, which was called, "The bishop's book," composed in the time of king Henry VIII. whereof the bishop of Winchester is thought to be either the first father, or chief gatherer; how doth it sharply reprove the Florentine council, in which was decreed the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, and that with the consent of the emperor of Constantinople, and of the Grecian heads? So that in those days our learned ancient fathers and bishops of England did not hesitate to affirm, that a general council might err. But methinks I hear another man despising all that I have brought forth, and saying--"These which you have called councils, are not worthy to be called councils, but rather assemblies and conventicles of heretics." I pray you, Sir, why do you judge them worthy of so scandalous a name? Because they decreed things heretical, contrary to sound doctrine and true godliness, and against the faith of true religion? The cause must be weighty, for which they ought of right so to be called. But if it be so that all councils ought to be despised which decree any thing contrary to sound doctrine. and the true word, which is according to godliness, forsomuch as the mass such as we had here of late, is openly against the word of God; forsooth, it must of necessity follow, that all such councils as have approved such masses, ought to be shunned and despised, as conventicles and assemblies that stray from the truth.
Another man alleged unto me the authority of the bishop of Rome, without which, neither can the councils be lawfully gathered, nor being gathered, determine any thing concerning religion. But this objection is only grounded upon the ambitious and shameless maintenance of the Romish tyranny and usurped dominion over the clergy; which tyranny we Englishmen long ago, by the consent of the whole realm, have expelled and abjured. And how rightly we have done it, a little book set forth of both the powers doth clearly shew. I grand that the Romish ambition hath gone about to challenge itself, and to usurp such a privilege of old time. But the council of Carthage, in the year of our Lord 457, did openly withstand it, and also the council at Melevite, in which St. Augustine was present, did prohibit any applications to be made to bishops beyond the sea.
Obj. St. Augustine saith, the good men are not to be forsaken for the evil; but the evil are to be borne withal for the good. You will not say that in our congregations all be evil.
Rid. I speak nothing of the goodness or badness of your congregations; but I fight in Christ's quarrel against the mass, which doth utterly take away and overthrow the ordinance of Christ. Let that be taken quite away, and then the partition wall that made the strife shall be broken down. Now to the place of St. Augustine, for bearing with the evil for the good's sake, there ought to be added other words, which the same writer hath expressed in other places; that is, if those evil men do cast abroad no seeds of false doctrine, nor lead others to destruction by their example.
Obj. It is perilous to attempt any new thing in the church, which lacketh le of good men. How much more so is it to commit any act, unto which the examples of the prophets, of Christ, and of the apostles, are contrary? But unto this your fact, in abstaining from the church by reason of the mass, the examples of the prophets, of Christ, and of the apostles, are clean contrary. The first part of the argument is evident, and the second part I prove thus, In the times of the prophets of Christ, and his apostles, all things were most corrupt. The people were miserably given to superstition, the priests despised the law of God; and yet notwithstanding we read not that the prophets made any schisms or divisions; and Christ himself frequented the temple, and taught in the temple of the Jews. Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer. Paul after the reading of the law, being desired to say something to the people, did not refuse to do it. Yea further, no man can shew that either the prophets, or Christ, or his apostles, did refuse to pray together with others, to sacrifice, or to be partakers of the sacrament of Moses' law.
Rid. I grant the former part of your argument; and to the second part I say, that although it contain many true things, as of the corrupt state in the times of the prophets, and the apostles; and of the temple being frequented by Christ and his apostles; yet the second part of your argument is not sufficiently proved. For you ought to have proved, that either the prophets, or Christ, or his apostles, did in the temple communicate with the people in any kind of worshipping which is forbidden by the law of God, or repugnant to the word of God. But that can no where be shewed. And as for the church, I am not angry with it, and I never refused to go to it, and to pray with the people, to hear the word of God, and to do all other things whatsoever, that may agree with the word of God. St. Augustine, speaking of the ceremonies of the Jess, although he grants they grievously oppressed that people, both for the number and bondage of the same, yet he calleth them burdens of the law, which were delivered unto them in the word of God; not presumptions of men, which notwithstanding, if they were not contrary to God's word, might in some measure be borne withal. But now, seeing they are contrary to such things as are written in the word of God, whether they ought to be borne by any christian, let him judge who is spiritual, who feareth God more than man, and loveth everlasting life more than this short and transitory one. To that which was said, that my fact lacketh example of the godly fathers that have gone before, the contrary is most evident in the history of Tobit; of whom it is said, that when all others went to the golden calves, which Jeroboam the king of Israel had made, he himself alone fled from their company, and got him to Jerusalem unto the Lord, and there worshipped the Lord God of Israel. Did not the man of God threaten grievous plagues both unto the priests of Bethel, and to the altar which Jeroboam had there made after his own fantasy? Which plagues king Josias, the true minister of God, did execute at the time appointed. And where do we read, that the prophets or the apostles did agree with the people in their idolatry? For what cause, I pray you, did the prophets rebuke the people so much, as for their false worshipping of God after their own minds, and not after God's word? For what was so much war in Israel as for that? Wherefore the false prophets ceased not to accuse the true prophets of God: therefore they beat them, and banished them. How else, I pray you, can you understand what St. Paul allegeth, when he saith''"What concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath the believer with the infidel? Or how agreeth the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God, as God himself hath said; I will dwell among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and separate yourselves from them, and touch no unclean thing; so will I receive you, and be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty."
Judith, that holy woman, would not suffer herself to be defiled with the meats of the wicked. All the saints of God, which truly feared God, when they have been provoked to do any thing which they knew to be contrary to God's laws, have chose to die rather than forsake the laws of their God. Wherefore the Maccabees put themselves in danger of death for the defense of the law, and at length died manfully in the defense of the same. If we praise the Maccabees, and that with great admiration, because they did stoutly stand even unto death, for the law of their country; how much more ought we to suffer all things for our baptism, for the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, and for all the points of his truth? As to the supper of the Lord, such a one as Christ commanded us to celebrate, the mass utterly abolisheth, and corrupteth most shamefully.
Lat. Who am I, that should add any thing to this which you have spoken? Nay, I rather thank you, you have vouchsafed to minister so plentiful an armour to me, being otherwise altogether unarmed, saving, that he cannot be left destitute of help, who rightly trusteth in the help of God. I only learn to die in reading of the New Testament, and am always praying unto my God, that he will be an helper unto me in the time of need.
Obj. Seeing you are obstinately set against them mass, as you affirm, because it is done in a tongue not understood by the people, and for other causes, I cannot tell you what; therefore it is no the true sacrament ordained of Christ. I begin to suspect you, that you think not catholicly of baptism also. Is our baptism which we use in a tongue unknown to the people, that true baptism of Christ, or not? If it be, then the strange tongue doth not hurt the mass. If it be not the baptism of Christ, tell me how you were baptised. Or will you have, as the anabaptists insist, all which were baptised in Latin, baptised again in the English tongue?
Rid. Although I would wish baptism to be given in the vulgar tongue, for the people's sake which are present, that they may the better understand their own profession, and also be more able to teach their children the same, yet, notwithstanding, there is not like necessity of the vulgar tongue in baptism, as in the Lord's supper. Baptism is given to children, who, by reason of their age, are not able to understand what is spoken to them, whatsoever it be. The Lord's supper is and ought to be given to them that are at years of maturity. Moreover, in baptism, which is accustomed to be given to children in the Latin tongue, all the substantial points which Christ commanded to be done, are observed. And therefore I judge your baptism to be a true baptism: and that it is not only not needful, but also not lawful, for any man so baptised, to be baptised again. But yet they ought to be taught the catechism of the christian faith, when they come to years of discretion: which catechism whosoever despiseth, or will not desirously embrace and willingly learn, in my judgment he playeth not the part of a christian. But in the popish mass are wanting certain substantials, that is to say, things commanded by the word of God, to be observed in the ministration of the Lord's supper; of which there is sufficient declaration made before.
Lat. Where you say, "I would wish," surely I would wish that you had spoken more strongly, and to have said, It is of necessity that al things in the congregation should be done in the vulgar tongue, for the edifying and comfort of them that are present, notwithstanding that the child itself is sufficiently baptised in the Latin tongue.
Obj. Forasmuch as I perceive you are so wedded to your opinion, that no gentle exhortations, no wholesome counsels, can call you home to a better mind, there remaineth that which in like cases was wont to be the only remedy against stubborn persons, that you must be hampered by the laws, and compelled to obey; or else suffer that which a rebel to the laws ought to suffer. Do you not know, that whosoever refuseth to obey the laws of the realm betrayeth himself to be an enemy to his country? Do you not know, this is the readiest way to stir up sedition and civil war? It is better that you should bear your own sin, than through the example of your breach of the common laws, the common quiet should be disturbed. How can you say you will be the queen's true subjects, when you openly profess that you will not keep her laws?
Rid. O heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength, I beseech thee, for thy only Son our Saviour Christ's sake, look mercifully upon me, wretched creature, and send thine Holy Spirit into my breast, that not only I may understand according to thy wisdom how this pestilent and deadly dart is to be borne off, and with what answer it is to be beaten back, but also when I must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy name, that then I, being strengthened with the defense of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and of truth, and continue in the same unto the end of my life, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Now to the objection. I grant it to be reasonable, that he, which by words and gentleness cannot be made to yield to that which is right and good, should be bridled by the strait correction of the laws: that is to say, He that will not be subject to God's word, must be punished by the laws. It is true that is commonly said, "He that will not obey the gospel, must be tamed and taught by the rigour of the law." But these thing ought to take place against him who refuseth to do that which is right and just according to true godliness, not against him who cannot quietly bear superstitions, but doth hate and detest from his heart such kind of proceedings, and that for the glory of the name of God. To that which you say, a transgressor of the common laws betrayeth himself to be an enemy of his country, surely a man ought to look unto the nature of the laws, what manner of laws they be which are broken: for a faithful christian ought not to think alike of all manner of laws. But that saying ought only truly to be understood of such laws as are not contrary to God's word. Otherwise, whosoever love their country in truth, they will always judge, if at any time the laws of God and man be the one contrary to the other, that a man ought rather to obey God than man. And they that think otherwise, and pretend a love to that country, forasmuch as they make their country to fight as it were against God, in whom consisteth the only stay of their country, surely I think such are to be judged most deadly enemies and traitors to their country. For they that fight against God, who is the safety of their country, what do they else but go about to bring upon their country a present ruin and destruction!
But this is the readiest way, you say, to stir up sedition, to trouble the quiet of the commonwealth; therefore are these things to be repressed in time by force of law. Behold, Satan doth not cease to practise his old guiles and accustomed subtleties. He hath ever his dart in readiness to hurl against his adversaries, to accuse them of sedition, that he may bring them, if he can, in danger of the higher powers. For so hath he by his ministers always charged the prophets of God. Ahab said unto Elias, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" The false prophets also complained to their princes of Jeremy, that his words were seditious, and not to be suffered. Did not the scribes and pharisees falsely accuse Christ as a seditious person, and one that spake against Caesar? Did they not at last cry, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend?" The orator Tertullus, how doth he accuse Paul before Felix the high deputy? "We have found this man a pestilent fellow, and stirrer of sedition, unto all the Jews in the whole world." But, I pray you, were these men, as they were called, seditious persons? Christ, Paul, and the prophets? God forbid But they were by false men falsely accused. And for what, I pray you, but because they reproved before the people their guiles, superstition, and deceits? For that which was objected last, that he cannot be a faithful subject to his prince, who professeth openly that he will not observe the laws which the prince hath made; here I would wish that I might have an impartial judge, and one that feareth God, to whose judgment in this cause I promise I will stand. I answer, therefore, a man ought to obey his prince, but in the Lord, and never against the Lord. For he that knowingly obeyeth him against God, doth not a duty to the prince, but is a deceiver, and a helper unto him to work his own destruction. He is also unjust who giveth not to the prince that which is the prince's, and to God that which is God's. Here cometh to my remembrance that notable saying of Valentinian the emperor, for choosing the bishop of Milan--"Set him in the bishop's seat, to whom, if we, as men, do offend at any time, we may submit ourselves." Polycarp the most constant martyr, when he stood before the chief rulers, and was commanded to blaspheme Christ, and to swear by the fortune of Caesar, answered with a mild spirit--"We are taught to give honour unto princes, and those powers which be of God; but such honour as is not contrary to God's religion."
Thus the answers to the objector appear at present to end: what fellows seems to have been addressed by Ridley to Latimer in a more private conference.
"Hitherto you see, good father, how I have in word only made, as it were, a flourish before the fight, which I shortly look for, and how I have begun to prepare certain kinds of weapons to fight against the adversary of Christ, and to muse with myself how the darts of the old enemy may be borne off, and after what manner I may smite him again with the sword of the Spirit. I learn also to accustom myself to armour, and to try how I can go armed. In Tynedale, where I was born, not far from the borders of Scotland, I have known my countrymen to watch night and day in their harness, such as they had, and their spears in their hands, especially when they had any private warning of the coming of the Scots. And so doing, although at every such bickering some of them spent their lives, yet by such means, like valiant men, they defended their country. And those that so died, I think that before God they died in a good quarrel, and their offspring sake. And in the quarrel of Christ our Saviour, in the defence of his own divine ordinances, by which he giveth unto us life and immorality; yea, in the quarrel of faith and the christian religion, wherein resteth our everlasting salvation, shall we not watch? Shall we not go always armed? Always looking when our adversary shall come upon us by reason of our slothfulness? Yea, and woe be unto us if he can oppress us unawares, which undoubtedly he will do, if he find us sleeping. Let us awake, therefore; for if the good man of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and not suffer his house to be broken up. Let us awake, therefore, I say: let us not suffer our house to be broken up. 'Resist the devil, and he will fly from you.' Let us resist him manfully, and taking the cross upon our shoulders, let us follow our captain Christ, who, by his own blood, hath dedicated and hallowed the way which leadeth unto the Father, that is, to the light which no man can attain, the fountain of everlasting joys. Let us follow, I say, whither he calleth and inviteth us, that after these afflictions, which last but for a moment, whereby he trieth our faith, as gold by the fire, we may everlastingly reign and triumph with him in the glory of the Father, and that through the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever, Amen. Amen.
"Good father, forasmuch as I have determined with myself to pour forth these my cogitations into thy bosom, here, methinks, I see you suddenly lifting up your head towards heaven, after your manner, and then looking upon me with your prophetical countenance, say, 'Trust not, my son, to these word-weapons; for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.' And remember always the words of the Lord: 'Do not imagine beforehand, what and how you will speak; for it shall be given you in the same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not you that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' I pray you, therefore, father, pray for me, that I may cast my whole care upon him, and trust upon him in all perils. For I know, and am surely persuaded, that whatsoever I can imagine or think beforehand it is nothing, except he assist me with his Spirit when the time is. I beseech you therefore father, pray for me, that such a complete harness of the Spirit, such a boldness of mind, may be given unto me, that I may out of a true faith say with David, 'I will not trust in my bow, and it is not my sword that shall save me. For he hath no pleasure in the strength of an horse: but the Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and put their trust in his mercy.' I beseech you pray, pray that I may enter this fight only in the name of God, and that when all is past, I being not overcome, through his gracious aid, may remain and stand fast in him till that day of the Lord, in which to them that obtain the victory shall be given the lively manna to eat, and a triumphant crown for evermore. Now, father, I pray you to help me to buckle on this harness a little better. For you know the deepness of Satan, being an old solider, and you have collared with him ere now; blessed be God, who hath ever aided you so well. I suppose he may well hold you at the bay. But truly he will not be so willing, I think, to join with you as with us youngsters. Sir, I beseech you, let your servant read this unto you, and now and then, as it shall seem unto you best, let your pen run in my book: spare not to blot my paper; I give you good leave."
To this admirable communication of Ridley, Latimer returned the following characteristic answer. "Sir, I have caused my man not only to read your armour unto me, but also to write it out, for it is not only solid armour, but also well buckled armour. I see not how it could be better. I thank you even from the bottom of my heart for it, and my prayers you shall not lack, trusting that you do the like for me; for indeed there is the 'help in time of need.' And if I were learned as well as St. Paul, I would not bestow much amongst them, further than gall them, and spur-gall too, when and where occasion were given, and matter came to mind; for the law shall be our sheet-anchor, stay, and refuge. Therefore there is no remedy, now when they have the master-bowl in their hand, but patience. Better is it to suffer what cruelly they will put upon us, than to incur God's high indignation. Wherefore, my good lord, be of good cheer in the Lord, with due consideration what he requireth of you, and what he doth promise you. Our common enemy shall do no more than God will permit him. God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength. Be at a point what you will stand unto; stick unto that, and let them both say and do what they list. They can but kill the body, which otherwise is of itself mortal. Neither yet shall they do that when they list, but as God will suffer them, when the hour appointed is come. It will be but in vain to use many words with them, now they have a bloody and deadly law prepared for you.
"The number of the criers under the altar must needs be fulfilled: if we be separated thereunto, happy be we. That is the greatest promotion that God giveth in this world, to be such Philippines, 'to whom it is given not only to believe, but also to suffer for the sake of Christ.' But who is able to do these things? Surely all our ability, all our sufficiency is of God. He requireth and promiseth. Let us declare our obedience to his will when it shall be requisite in the time of trouble, yea, in the midst of the fire. When the number that cry under the altar is fulfilled which I suppose will be shortly, then have at the papists, when they shall say, Peace, all things are safe, when Christ shall come to keep his great parliament to redress all things that are amiss. But he shall not come as the papists feign him, to hide himself, and to play bo-peep as it were under a piece of bread; but he shall come gloriously, to the terror and fear of all his enemies and to the great consolation and comfort of all that will here suffer for him. Comfort yourselves and one another with these words.
"Lo, Sir, here have I blotted your paper vainly, and played the fool egregiously; but so I thought better than not to fulfil your request at this time. Pardon me, and pray for me; pray for me I say, pray for me. For I am sometimes so fearful, that I would creep into a mouse-hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with his comfort. So he cometh and goeth, to teach me to feel and to know mine infirmity, to the intent to give thanks to him that is worthy, lest I should rob him of his due, as so many do, and almost all the world. What belief is to be given to papists may appear by their racking, writing, wrenching, and monstrously injuring of God's holy scripture, as appeareth in the pop's law. But I dwell here now in a school of forgetfulness. Fare you well once again, and be you steadfast and unmoveable in the Lord. Paul loved Timothy marvellously well, notwithstanding he saith unto him--'Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel;' and again, 'Harden thyself to suffer afflictions. Be faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.'"
The following letter is an interesting communication from Ridley to Bradford and his prison-fellows in the King's Bench, Southwark, 1554.
"Well beloved in Christ our Saviour, we all with one heart wish to you, with all those that love God in deed and truth, grace and health, and especially to our dearly beloved companions which are in Christ's cause, and the cause of both of their brethren and of their own salvation, to put their neck willingly under the yoke of Christ's cross. How joyful it was to us to hear the report of Dr. Taylor, and of his godly confession, I assure you it is hard for me to express. Blessed be God, which was and is the giver of that, and of all godly strength and support in the time of adversity. As for the rumors that have or do go abroad, either of our relenting or massing, we trust, that they which know God and their duty towards their brethren in Christ, will not be too easy of belief. For it is not the slanderer's evil tongue, but a man's evil deed that can with God defile a man; and, therefore, with God's grace, you shall never have cause to do otherwise than you say you do, that is, not to doubt but that we will by God's grace continue steadfast and unmoveable. Like rumours as you have heard of our coming to London, have been here spread of the coming of certain learned men prisoners hither from London; but as yet we known no certainty which of these rumours is or shall be more true. Know you that we have you in our daily remembrance, and which you all the rest of our foresaid companions well in Christ.
"It would much comfort us, if we might have knowledge of the state of the rest of our most dearly beloved, which in this troublesome time do stand in Christ's cause, and in the defence of the truth thereof. We have heard somewhat of Mr. Hooper's matter, but nothing of the rest. We long to hear of father Crome, Dr. Sands, Mr. Saunders, Veron, Beacon, Rogers, and others. We are in good health, thanks be to God, and yet the manner of using us doth change as sour ale in summer. It is reported to us by our keepers, that the university beareth us heavily. A coal happened to fall in the night out of the chimney, and burnt a hole in the floor, and no more harm was done, the bailiff's servant sitting by the fire. Another night there chanced, as the bailiffs told us, a drunken fellow to multiply words, and for the same he was set in Bocardo. Upon these things, as is reported, there is a rumour risen in the town and country about, that we would have broke the prison with such violence, as that if the Bailiffs had not played the pretty men, we should have made an escape. We had out of our prison a wall that we might have walked upon, and our servants had liberty to go abroad in the town or fields, but now both they and we are restrained from both.
"My lord of Worchester passed through Oxford, but he did not visit us. The same day or restraint began to be more close, and the book of the communion was taken from us by the bailiffs at the mayor's command, as the bailiffs did report to us. No man is licensed to come unto us; before they might, that would see us upon the wall, but that is so grudged at, and so evil reported, that we are not restrained. Blessed be God, with all our evil reports, grudges, and restraints, we are merry in God, all our care is and shall be, by God's grace, to please and serve him, of whom we look and hope, after these temporal and momentary miseries, to have eternal joy and perpetual felicity with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Peter, and Paul, and all the heavenly company of the angels in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. As yet there has no learned man, nor any scholar, been to visit us since we came into Bocardo, which now in Oxford may be called a college of Quondams. For as you know we are no fewer than three, and I dare say every one well contented with this portion, which I do reckon to be our heavenly Father's good and gracious gift. Thus fare you well. We shall, by God's grace, one day meet together, and be merry. The day assuredly aproacheth apace; the Lord grant that it may shortly come. For before that day come, I fear the world will wax worse and worse. But then all our enemies shall be overthrown and trodden under foot: righteousness and truth then shall have the victory, and bear the bell away, whereof the Lord grant us to be partakers, and all that love truly the truth.
"We all pray you, as we can, to cause all our commendations to be made unto all such as you know did visit us and you when we were in the Tower, with their friendly remembrances and benefits. Mrs. Wilkinson and Mrs. Warcup have not forgotten us, but ever since we came to Bocardo, with their charitable and friendly benevolence have comforted us: not that else we did lack, (for God be blessed, he hath always sufficiently provided for us) but that is a great comfort, and an occasion for us to bless God, when we see that he maketh them so friendly to tender us, whom some of us were never familiarly acquainted withal."
A selection only of letters of Ridley can be made. The next deserving special attention is one addressed generally to all his suffering brethren through the country. "Grace, peace, and mercy, be multiplied among you. What worthy thanks can we render unto the Lord for you, my brethren; namely, for the great consolation which, through you, we have received in the Lord, who, notwithstanding the rage of Satan, that goeth about by all manner of subtle means to beguile the world, and also busily laboureth to restore and set up his kingdom again, that of late began to decay and fall to ruin; you remain yet still immoveable, as men surely grounded upon a strong rock. And now, albeit that Satan by his soldiers and wicked ministers, daily draweth numbers unto him, so that it is said of him, that he plucketh the very stars out of heaven, while he driveth into some men the fear of death, and loss of all their goods, and sheweth to others the pleasant baits of the world; namely, riches, wealth, and all kinds of delights and pleasures, fair houses, great revenues, fat beneficies, and what not; and all to the intent that they should fall down and worship, not the Lord, but the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil, that great beast and his image, and should be enticed to commit fornication with the strumpet of Babylon, together with the kings of the earth, with the lesser beast, and with the false prophets, and so to rejoice and be pleasant with her, and go get drunk with the wine of her fornication: yet blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which hath given unto you a manly courage, and hath so strengthened you in the inward man, by the power of his Spirit, that you can contemn so well all the allurements of the world, esteeming them as vanities, mere trifles, and things of nought; who hath also wrought, planted, and surely established in your hearts, so steadfast a faith and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, joined with such constancy, that by no engines of antichrist, be they ever so terrible or plausible, you will suffer any other Jesus, or any other Christ, to be forced upon you, besides him whom the prophets have spoken of before, the apostles have preached, the holy martyrs of God have confessed and testified with the effusion of their blood.
"In this faith stand you fast, my brethren, and suffer not yourselves to be brought under the yoke of bondage and superstition any more. For you know, brethren, how our Saviour warned us before hand, that such should come as would point unto the world another Christ, and would set him out with so many false miracles, and with such deceivable and subtle practices, that even the very elect, if it were possible, should thereby be deceived: such strong delusion to come did our Saviour give warning of before. But continue you faithful and constant, and be of good comfort, and remember that our great captain hath overcome the world: for he that is in us is stronger than he that is in the world, and the Lord promiseth us, that for the elect's sake, the days of wickedness shall be shortened. In the mean season abide you and endure with patience as you have begun: 'Endure,' I say, and 'reserve yourselves unto better times,' as one of the heathen poets said; cease not to shew yourselves valiant soldiers of the Lord, and help to maintain the travailing faith of the gospel.
"'You have need of patience, that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promises. For yet a very little, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry; and the just shall live by faith: but if any withdraw himself, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.' These are the words of the living God. 'But we are not they which do withdraw ourselves unto damnation, but they which believe unto the salvation of the soul.' Let us not suffer these words of Christ to fall out of our hearts by any manner of terror, or threatenings of the world. 'Fear not them which kill the body,' the rest you know. For I write not unto you, as men which are ignorant of the truth, but who know the truth; and to this end only, that we agreeing together in one faith, may comfort one another, and be more confirmed and strengthened thereby. We never had a better, or more just cause either to contemn our life, or shed our blood; we cannot take in hand the defence of a more certain, clear, and manifest truth. For it is not any ceremony for which we contend; but it toucheth the very substance of our whole religion, yea, even Christ himself. Shall we, or can we receive any other Christ instead of him, who is alone the everlasting Son of the everlasting Father, and is the brightness of the glory, and a lively image of the substance of the Father, in whom only dwelleth corporeally the fulness of the Godhead, who is the only way, the truth, and the life? Let such wickedness, let such horrible wickedness be far from us. For although there be that be called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, as there may be many gods, and many lords, yet unto us there is but one God, who is the Father, of whom are all things, and we by him; but every man hath not knowledge. This is life eternal, that they know thee to be the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. If any therefore would force upon us any other God, besides him who Paul and the apostles have taught, let us not hear him, but let us fly from, and hold him accursed.
"Brethren, you are not ignorant of the deep and profound subtleties of Satan; for he will not cease to range about you, seeking by all means possible whom he may devour: but you play you the men, and be of good comfort in the Lord. And although your enemies and the adversaries of the truth, armed with all worldly force and power that may be, do set upon you: yet be you not faint-hearted, and shrink not therefore, but trust unto your captain Christ, trust unto the Spirit of truth, and trust to the truth of your cause; which as it may by the malice of Satan be darkened, so can it never be clean put out. For we have most plainly, evidently, and clearly on our side, all the prophets, all the apostles, and undoubtedly all the ancient ecclesiastical writers which have written, until of late years past.
"Let us be hearty and of good courage therefore, and thoroughly comfort ourselves in the Lord. Be in no wise afraid of your adversaries; for that which is to them an occasion of perdition, is to you a sure token of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given, that not only you should believe on him, but also suffer for his sake. And when you are railed upon for the name of Christ, remember that by the voice of Peter, yea, and of Christ our Saviour also, ye are counted with the prophets, with the apostles, and with the holy martyrs of Christ, happy and blessed for ever: for the glory and Spirit of God resteth upon you. On their part our Saviour Christ is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. For what can they else do unto you by persecuting you, and working all cruelty and villany against you, but make your crowns more glorious, yea beautify and multiply the same, and heap upon themselves the horrible plagues and heavy wrath of God? and therefore, good brethren, though they rage ever so fiercely against us, yet let us not wish evil unto them again, knowing that while for Christ's cause they vex and persecute us, they are like mad-men, most outrageous and cruel against themselves, heaping hot burning coals upon their own heads: but rather wish well unto them, knowing that we are thereunto called in Christ Jesus, that we should be heirs of the blessing. Let us pray therefore unto God, that he would drive out of their hearts this darkness of errors, and make the light of his truth to shine unto them, that they acknowledging their blindness, may with all humble repentance be converted unto the Lord, and with us confess him to be the only true God, which is the Father of light, and his only Son Jesus Christ, worshipping him in spirit and truth. The Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ comfort your hearts in the love of God, and patience of Christ, Amen. Your brother in the Lord, whose name this bearer shall signify unto you, ready always by the grace of God to live and die with you."
Grindal, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, was at this time an exile in the city of Frankfort. Thence he addressed a letter to bishop Ridley, lamenting his sufferings, and entreating him to be constant and valiant for the truth. In the course of the letter he desires to know the mind of Ridley in regard to printing a manuscript of his on the subject of transubstantiation. Ridley answers that he does nor think it worth while to translate or print the work till it is seen how he, the author, is likely to be disposed. There is nothing in the other parts of his answer to Grindal that is remarkable, unless it be the following paragraph, which shews him to have been a man of humour and wit as well as true wisdom and virtue: "Of us three prisoners at Oxford, I am kept most strict; because the man in whose house I am a prisoner is governed by his wife--a morose superstitious old woman, who thinks she shall merit by having me closely confined. The man himself, whose name is Irish, is civil enough to all, but too much ruled by his wife. Though I never had a wife, yet from this daily usage I begin to understand how great and intolerable a burden it is to have a bad one. The wise man says rightly--a good wife is the gift of God, and he who has a good wife is a blessed man."
Having commenced this chapter with a sketch of the life of Ridley, it will now be proper to review the leading incidents in the history of Latimer. He was the son of Hugh Latimer, of Thurcaster, in the county of Leicester, a husbandman in good repute, with whom he was brought u till he was about four years old: when his parents, seeing him to be of a ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up to literature; wherein he so profited in the common schools of his own country, that at fourteen years of age he was sent to the university of Cambridge: where, after some continuance in the exercise of other things, he devoted himself to the school divinity of that age. Zealous he was then in the popish religion, and therewith so scrupulous, as himself confessed, that being a priest, and officiating at the mass, he was so servile an observer of the Romish decrees, that he thought he had never sufficiently mingled his massing wine with water; and moreover, that he should never be damned, if he were once a professed friar, with many such superstitious fantasies. And in this blind zeal his was a great enemy to the professors of Christ's gospel; as both his oration, when he commenced bachelor of divinity, against Melancthon, and his other works, plainly declared. He also was strongly excited against Mr. Stafford, reader of the divinity lectures in Cambridge, at whom he most spitefully railed, and persuaded the youth of Cambridge in no wise to believe him.
Notwithstanding, such was the purpose of God, that when he saw his good time, by which he though utterly to have defaced the professors of the gospel, and true church of Christ, he was himself by a member of the same caught in the blessed net of God's word. For Mr. Thomas Bilney, seeing Mr. Latimer to have a zeal, although not according to knowledge, felt a brotherly pity towards him, and began to consider by what means he might win this zealous ignorant brother to the truth. Wherefore, after a short time, he came to Mr. Latimer's study, and desired him to hear his confession, which he willingly did; when he was, by the good Spirit of God, so touched, that immediately he forsook the study of the School-doctors, and other such fopperies, and became an earnest student in true divinity. So that whereas before he was an enemy, and almost a persecutor of Christ, he was now a zealous seeker after him, changing his old manner of cavilling and railing, into a diligent kind of conferring, both with Mr. Bilney and others, and went also to Mr. Stafford before he died, and desired his forgiveness.
After his own conversion, he was not satisfied without endeavouring to bring about that of others. He therefore became both a public preacher, and a private instructor to the rest of his brethren within the university, for the space of three years, spending his time partly in the Latin tongue among the learned, and partly amongst the simple people in his native language. But the Prince of darkness soon found a means to disturb this happy state. There was an Augustine friar, who took occasion upon certain sermons of Mr. Latimer, which he preached about Christmas, 1529, as well in the church of St. Edward, as also in that of St. Augustine, within the university of Cambridge, to inveigh against him, because Mr. Latimer in the said sermons, according to the common usage of the season, gave the people certain cards out of the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of St. Matthew, whereupon they might, not only then, but at all other times, occupy their time. For the chief triumph in the cards he limited the heart, as the principal thing they should serve God withal, whereby he quite overthrew all hypocritical and external ceremonies, not tending to the necessary furtherance of God's holy word and sacraments. For the better attaining hereof, he wished the scriptures to be in English, in order that the common people might be better enabled to learn their duty to God and to their neighbours. His treatment of this subject was so apt for the time, and so pleasantly applied by him, that it not only declared the wit and dexterity of the preacher, but also wrought in the hearers much fruit, to the overthrow of popish superstition.
This happened on the Sunday before Christmas-day; on which day coming to the church, he entered the pulpit, taking his tent the words of the gospel aforesaid, "Who art thou?" &c. And in delivering the cards as above mentioned, he made the heart to be Triumph, exhorting and inviting all men thereby to serve the Lord with inward heart and true affection, and not with outward ceremonies: adding moreover, to the praise of that Triumph, that though it were ever so small, yet it would take up the best court card beside in the bunch, yea, though it were the king of clubs: meaning thereby how the Lord would be worshipped and served in simplicity of heart and verity, wherein consisteth true christian religion, and not in the outward deeds of the letter only, or in the glittering shew of man's traditions, or pardons, pilgrimages, ceremonies, vows, devotions, voluntary works, and works of supererogation, foundations, oblations, the pope's supremacy, &c. so that all these either were needless, where the other is present; or else were of small estimation, in comparison of the other. As these sermons were so important in their consequences, we here present the reader with the following beautiful extract from one of them, written in Cambridge about the year of our Lord 1529:--
"Tu quis es? Which words are as much as to say in English, "Who art thou?' These be the words of the Pharisees, which were sent by the Jews unto John the Baptist in the wilderness, to have knowledge of him who he was; which words they spake unto him of an evil intent, thinking that he would have taken on him to be Christ, and so they would have had him done by their good wills, because they knew that he was more carnal and given to their laws, than Christ indeed should be, as they perceived by their old prophecies: and also, because they marvelled much at his great doctrine, preaching, and baptising, they were in doubt whether he was Christ or not: wherefore they said unto him, "Who art thou?" Then answered John, and confessed that he was not Christ. Now here is to be noted the great and prudent answer of John the Baptist unto the Pharisees, that when they required of him who he was, he would not directly answer of himself, what he was himself; but he said he was not Christ, by which saying he thought to put the Jews and Pharisees out of their false opinion and belief towards him, in that they would have had him to exercise the office of Christ, and so declared further unto them of Christ saying--"He is in the midst of you, and amongst you, whom he know not, the latchet of whose show I am not worthy to unloose." By this you may perceive that St. John spake much in the praise of his master Christ, professing himself to be in no wise like unto him. So likewise it shall be necessary unto all men and women of this world, not to ascribe unto themselves any goodness of themselves, but all unto our Lord God, as shall appear hereafter, when this question Who art thou? shall be moved unto them: not as the Pharisees did unto John, from an evil purpose, but of a good and simple mind, as may appear hereafter.
"Now then, according to the preacher, let every man and woman, of a good and simple mind, contrary to the Pharisees' intent, ask this question--Who art thou? This question must be moved to themselves, what they be of themselves, on this fashion--What art thou of thy only and natural generation between father and mother, when thou camest into the world? What substance, what virtue, what goodness art thou of thyself? Which question, if thou rehearse oftentimes to thyself, thou shalt well perceive and understand, how thou shalt make answer to it: which must be made in this wise: I am of myself, and by myself, coming from my natural father and mother, the child of the anger and indignation of God, the true inheritor of hell, except I have better help of another, than I have of myself. Now we may see in what state we enter into this world, that we be of ourselves the true and just inheritors of hell, the children of the ire and indignation of Christ, working all towards hell, whereby we deserve of ourselves perpetual damnation, by the right judgment of god and the true claim of ourselves: which unthrifty state that we be born unto is come unto us for our own deserts, as proveth well this example following.
"Let it be admitted for the probation of this, that it might please the king's grace now being, to accept into his favour a mean man, of simple degree and birth, not born to any possessions; whom the king's grace favoureth, not because this person hath of himself deserved any such favour, but that the king casteth his favour unto him of his own mere motion and fancy: and because the king's grace will more declare his favour unto him, he giveth unto this said man a thousand pounds in lands, to him and his heirs, on this condition, that he shall take upon him to be the chief captain and defender of his town of Calais, and to be true and faithful to him in the custody of the same, against the Frenchmen especially above all other enemies. This man then taketh on him this charge, promising this fidelity thereunto; it chanceth in process of time, that by the singular acquaintance and frequent familiarity of this captain with the Frenchmen, these Frenchmen give unto the said captain of Calais a great sum of money, so that he will be but content and agreeable, that they may enter into the said town of Calais by force of arms, and so thereby possess the same unto the crown of France. Upon this agreement the Frenchmen do invade the said town of Calais, only by the negligence of this captain.
"Now the king hearing of this invasion, cometh with a great puissance to defend this his said town, and so by good policy of war overcometh the said Frenchmen, and entereth again into his town of Calais. Then he being desirous to know how these enemies of his came thither, maketh strict search and inquiry by whom this treason was conspired; by this search it was known and found his own captain to be the very author and the beginner of the betraying it. The king seeing the great infidelity of this person, dischargeth this man of his office, and taketh from him and his heirs this thousand pounds' possessions. Think you not that the king doth use justice unto him, and all his posterity and heirs? Yes truly, the said captain cannot deny himself but that he had true justice, considering how unfaithfully he behaved himself to his prince, contrary to his own fidelity and promise: so likewise it was of our first father Adam. He had given unto him the spirit and science of knowledge, to work all goodness therewith; this said spirit was not given only to him, but unto all his heirs and posterity. He had also delivered him the town of Calais, that is to say, paradise in earth, the most strong and fairest town in the world, to be in his custody: he nevertheless, by the instigation of these Frenchmen, that is, the temptation of the fiend, did consent unto their desire, and so he broke his promise and fidelity, the commandment of the everlasting King his master.
"Now then, the king seeing this great treason in his captain, dispossessed him of the thousand pounds' of lands, that is to say, from everlasting life and glory, and all his heirs and posterity: for likewise as he had the spirit of science and knowledge for him and his heirs; so in like manner when he lost the same, his heirs also lost it by him, and in him. So now this example proveth, that by our father Adam we had once in him the very inheritance of everlasting joy; and by him, and in him again we lost the same. The heirs of the captain of Calais could not by any manner of claim ask of the king the right and title of their father in the thousand pounds, by reason the king might answer and say unto them, that although their father deserved not of himself to enjoy so great possessions, yet he deserved by himself to lose them, and greater, committing so high treason as he did, against his prince's commandment; whereby he had no wrong to lose his title, but was unworthy to have the same, and had therein true justice; let not you think, which be his heirs, that if he had justice to lose his possessions, you have wrong to lose the same.
"In the same manner it may be answered unto all men and women now in being, that if our father Adam had true justice to be excluded from his possessions of everlasting glory in paradise, let us not think the contrary that be his heirs, but that we have no wrong in losing also the same; yea, we have true justice and right. Then in what miserable estate we are, that of the right and just title of our own deserts have lost the everlasting joy, and claim of ourselves to be true inheritors of hell! For he that committeth deadly sin willingly, bindeth himself to be an inheritor of everlasting pain: and so did our forefather Adam willingly eat of the apple forbidden. Wherefore he was cast out of the everlasting joy in paradise, into this corrupt world among all vileness, whereby of himself he was not worthy to do any thing laudable or pleasant to God, evermore bound to corrupt affections and beastly appetites, transformed into the uncleanest and most variable nature that was made under heaven, of whose seed and disposition all the world is lineally descended; insomuch that this evil nature is so much diffused and shed from one into another, that at this day there is no man or woman living, who can of themselves wash away this abominable vileness: and so we must needs grant ourselves to be in like displeasure unto God, as our father Adam was; by reason hereof, as I said, we are of ourselves the very children of the indignation of God, the true inheritors of hell, and working all towards hell, which is the answer to this question, made to every man and woman by themselves--Who art thou?
"And now the world standing in this damnable state, cometh in the occasion of the incarnation of Christ; the Father in heaven perceiving the frail nature of man, that he by himself and of himself could do nothing for himself, by his prudent wisdom sent down the second person in the Trinity, his Son Jesus Christ, to declare unto man his pleasure and commandment: and so at the Father's will, Christ took on him human nature, being willing to deliver man out of this miserable way, and was content to suffer cruel passion in shedding his blood for all mankind, and so left behind for our safeguard, laws and ordinances, to keep us always in the right path unto everlasting life, as the gospels, the sacraments, the commandments; which if we do keep and observe according to our profession, we shall answer better unto this question --'Who art thou? than we did before: for before thou didst enter into the sacrament of baptism, thou wert by a natural man or our natural woman; as I might say, a man, a woman; but after thou takest on thee Christ's religion, thou hast a longer name; for then thou art a christian man, a christian woman. Now then, seeing thou art a christian man, what shall be the answer of this question--'Who art thou?'
"The answer of this question is, when I ask it unto myself, I must say that I am a christian man, a christian woman, the child of everlasting joy, through the merits of the bitter passion of Christ. This is a joyful answer. Here we may see how much we are bound and indebted unto God, that hath revived us from death of life, and saved us that were condemned; which great benefit we cannot well consider unless we remember what we were of ourselves before we meddled with him or his laws: and the more we know our feeble nature, and set less by it, the more we shall conceive and know in our hearts what God hath done for us: and the more we know what God hath done for us, the less we shall set by ourselves, and the more we shall love and please God; so that in no condition we shall either know ourselves or God, except we utterly confess ourselves to be mere vileness and corruption. Well now it is come unto this point, that we are christian men, christian women, I pray you, what doth Christ require of a christian man, or of a christian woman? Christ requireth nothing else of a christian man or woman, but that they will observe his rules."
To relate at full the alarm the preaching of this and the other sermons occasioned at Cambridge, would require too much time and space. And prior of Black Friars, named Buckenham, attempted to prove that it was notexpedient for the scripture to be in English, lest the ignorant and vulgar sort, through the occasion thereof, might be brought in danger of leaving their vocations, or else of running into some inconvenience. As an example he said, "The ploughman, when he heareth this in the gospel, "No man that layeth his hand on the plough and looketh back, is meet for the kingdom of God,' might peradventure cease from his plough. Likewise the baker, when he hears that a little leaven corrupteth a whole lump of dough, may perchance leave our bread unleavened, and so our bodies shall be unseasoned. Also the simple man, when he heareth in the gospel, 'If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee,' may make himself blind, and so fill the world with beggars." These, when some others, this clerkly friar brought out, to prove his purpose of keeping scripture in a strange tongue, and from the common people!
Mr. Latimer hearing the sermon of Buckenham, came shortly after the church to answer him. To hear him came a multitude, as well of the university as of the town, both doctors and other graduates, with great expectation to learn what he could say: among whom also, directly in the face of Latimer, underneath the pulpit, sat Buckenham, with his black friar's cowl about his shoulders. Then Latimer, first repeating the reason of Buckenham, whereby he would prove it a dangerous thing for the vulgar to have the scriptures in their own tongue, so refuted the friar, so answered to his objections, so ridiculed his bald reason of the ploughman looking back, of the baker leaving his bread unleavened, and of the simple man plucking out his eye, that the vanity of the friar might to all men appear, well proving and declaring to the people, that there was no such danger from the scriptures being in English. And proceeding moreover in his sermon, he began to discourse of the mystical speeches and figurative phrases of the scriptures; which he said were not so diffuse and difficult as pretended.
Besides this Buckenham, there was also another railing friar, a doctor and a foreigner, named Venetus, who likewise in his sermons railed and raged against Mr. Latimer, calling him a mad and brainless man, and persuading the people not to believe him. To whom Mr. Latimer answering again, took for his ground the words of our Saviour Christ, "Thou shalt not kill, andwhosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, Whosoever is angry with his neighbour shall be in danger of judgment; and whosoever shall say unto his neighbour Raca, shall be in danger of judgment; and whosoever shall say unto his neighbour Raca, shall be in danger of the council: and whosoever shall say to his neighbour, Fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire." The discussing of which, first he divided the offence of killing into three branches, one to be with hand, the other with heart, the third with word. With hand, when we use any weapon drawn, to spill the blood of our neighbour. With heart, when we be angry with him. With word, when we disdainfully rebuke our neighbour. or despitefully revile him.
But why should we here decipher the names of his adversaries, when whole swarms of friars and doctors flocked against him on every side, almost through the whole university, preaching against the abusing him? Amongst whom was Dr. Watson, master of Christ's college, whose scholar Latimer had been. In short, almost as many as were heads of houses, so many were the enemies of this worthy standard-bearer of Christ's gospel. At last came Dr. West, bishop of Ely, who preaching against him at Barnwell-abby, forbad him within the churches of that university to preach any more. Not withstanding, so the Lord provided, that Dr. Barnes, prior of the Augustine friars, did license Mr. Latimer to preach in his church of the Augustines, and he himself preached at St. Edward's church, which was the first sermon of the gospel that Dr. Barnes preached, being Sunday and Christmas Eve. Whereupon certain articles were gathered out of his sermon, and brought against him by Mr. Tyrell fellow of the King's-hall, and so by the vice-chancellor they were presented to the cardinal.
Thus Mr. Latimer being baited by the friars, doctors, and masters of that university, about the year 1529, notwithstanding the malice of these malignant adversaries, continued yet in Cambridge preaching for about three years together, with favour and applause of the godly, also with such admiration of his enemies who heard him, that the bishop himself coming in, and witnessing his merit, wished himself to have the like, and was compelled to commend him upon it. After this, Mr. Latimer and Mr. Bilney continued in Cambridge for some time, where they so frequently conferred together, that the field wherein they usually walked was long after called the heretics' hill. As their intimacy was much noted by many of the university, so was it full of many good examples, to all who would follow them, both in visiting the prisoners, and relieving the needy. The following interesting story will exemplify the benevolence of Mr. Latimer. It happened that, with Mr. Bilney, he went to visit the prisoners in the tower of Cambridge, and being there, among others was a woman who was accused of having killed her own child, which act she plainly and steadfastly denied. Whereby it gave them occasion to search for the matter, and at length they found that her husband loved her not, and therefore sought all means to destroy her. The particulars were thus:--
A child of hers had been sick a whole year, and at length died in harvest time, as it were in a consumption: which when it was gone, she sought her neighbours to help her at the burial, but all being abroad in the harvest, she was forced with heaviness of heart, to prepare the child alone for the burial. Her husband coming home, accused her of murdering the child. This was the cause of her trouble; and Mr. Latimer, by earnest inquisition of conscience, thought the woman not guilty. Immediately after this he was called to preach before king Henry VIII. at Windsor, and after his sermon the king sent for him, and talked familiarly with him. At which time Mr. Latimer, finding an opportunity, kneeled down, opened the whole matter to the king, and desired her pardon, which he granted, and gave it to him at his return home. In the mean time the woman was delivered of a child in the prison, to which Mr. Latimer stood godfather. But all the while he would not tell her of the pardon, but laboured to have her confess the truth of the matter. At length the time came when she expected to suffer, and Mr. Latimer came as he was wont, to instruct her; when she made great lamentations, to be purified before her suffering, for she thought she must be damned if she died without purification. Mr. Bilney being with Mr. Latimer, told her, that law was made for the Jews, and not for us, and that women were as well in the favour of God before they be purified as after: and that it was appointed for a civil and politic law. They then argued with her till they had better instructed her, and at length shewed her the king's pardon, and liberated her.
Besides this, many other actions equally benevolent, were known to originate from this zealous christian; insomuch, that the enemies of truth, instigated by envy, soon sought a means to interrupt the harmony of him and his friend. So much virtue provoked envy in many. Among the rest of this number was Dr. Redman, a man favouring more of superstition than of truereligion, after the zeal of the Pharisees, yet not so malignant or hurtful, but of a mild disposition, and also liberal in well doing, so that few poor scholars were in that university who fared not the better by his purse. He was a man of great authority in the university of Cambridge, and perceiving the boldness of Mr. Latimer, in publishing in sincerity the genuine truths of the gospel, endeavoured by a letter to persuade him from his manner of preaching. To this Mr. Latimer wrote the following laconic answer.
"Reverend Mr. Redman, it is even enough for me, that Christ's sheep hear no man's voice but Christ's: and as for you, you have no voice of Christ against me; whereas for my part, I have a heart that is ready to hearken to any voice of Christ that you can bring me. Thus fare you well, and trouble me no more from talking with the Lord my God."
Mr. Latimer having thus laboured in preaching and teaching in Cambridge about three years, was at length called up to Cardinal Wolsey for heresy, by the procurement of some of the university, where he was content to subscribe and grant to such articles as they then propounded to him. After that he again returned to the university, where shortly after, by the means of Dr. Butts, the king's physician, a singular good man, he was placed in the number of those who laboured in the cause of the king's supremacy. On this he went to the court, where he remained a certain time in Dr. Butts's chamber, and preached very often in London. At last being weary of the court, and having a benefice offered by the king, at the suit of the lord Cromwell and Dr. Butts, he gladly accepted it, and withdrew from the court, wherewith in no case he could agree.
The royal gift was at West Kingston, in Wiltshire, in the diocese of Sarum. Here this good preacher exercised himself with much diligence, teaching his flock and all the country about. In fine, his diligence was so great, his preaching so powerful, the manner of his teaching so zealous, that there also he could not escape enemies. So true it is what St. Paul foretelleth us--"Whosoever will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution." It so happened, that as he was preaching upon the Virgin Mary, and reserving all honour to Christ our only Saviour, certain popish priests being therewith offended, sought and created much trouble against him, drawing out articles and impositions which they falsely and uncharitably imputed unto him--Thathe should preach against our Lady, for that he reproved in a sermon the superstitious rudeness of certain blind priests, who taught that she never had any sin, and that she was not saved by Christ--that he should say, that saints were not to be worshipped--that Ave Maria was a salutation only, and no prayer--that there was no material fire in hell--and that there was no purgatory, trifling with the subject and saying, that he had rather be in purgatory than in Lallard's Tower.
The chief enemies and molesters of him, besides these country priests, were Dr. Powel, of Salisbury, Dr. Wilson, sometime of Cambridge, a Mr. Hubberdin, and Dr. Sherwood. Of whom some preached and some wrote against him; insomuch that by their procurement he was cited up, and called to appear before Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and Stokesly, bishop of London, January 29th, 1531. Against which citation, although Mr. Latimer did appeal to his own ordinary, yet notwithstanding that, he was brought to London before Warham and Stokesly, where he was greatly molested, and detained a long time from his cure at home, being called thrice every week before the bishops, to make answer for his preaching, and had certain articles or propositions drawn out and laid to him, whereunto they required him to subscribe. At length he not only perceiving their practical proceedings, but being also much grieved with their troublesome unquietness, who neither would preach themselves, not yet suffer him; he wrote to the archbishop, partly excusing his infirmity, whereby he could not appear at their commandment, partly expostulating with them for so troubling and detaining him from doing his duty, and that for no just cause, but only for preaching the truth against certain vain abuses crept into religion, much needful to be spoken against. The letter is as follows.
"MOST REVEREND GOVERNOR,
"Had not sickness prevented me, I had myself waited on you at your palace; but these fresh troubles have brought on me a sharp return of an old distemper, so that I can't be able to wait on you today without great pain; but that your lordship might no longer in vain expect my coming, I have sent these lines scribbled with mine own hand to your grace, as to a most upright judge, of my excuse, in which I wish I had more time or more judgment to frame a just expostulation with your grace for detaining me so long against my will from my cure, and that so unseasonably, at a time when it most behoves every pastor to be with his flock. But what shall I say, if it is lawful for so mean a prisoner to plead with so great a father? If we esteem a priest good for doing his duty, who, while he remains in this earthly tabernacle, never ceaseth to teach and admonished his congregation, and so much the more as he draws nearer his last home, what must we think of those who neither preach themselves now, nor permit those who are desirous to do it, unless they are bound to do and say nothing but what they please. At first I thought it safe to submit myself entirely but what they please. At first I thought it safe to submit myself entirely to your clemency, but now it seems as safe to justify myself a little, since one thing was pretended in the beginning, but now another, and what will be the end I have great room to doubt; but I hope truth only will be used. First I was sent to London, where I was before the court of Canterbury; then all was stopped that had been done, and the matter had bounds and limits set to it by him who sent me; but so the business was handled and brought into doubt, that at length there seemed no end of it, but that it must be infinitely prolonged. For while, without either method or design, I was questioned of one thing after another, whether pertinent or impertinent, now by one and then by another, if I gave them no answer, or if I answered them to the purpose--which I thought was not imprudent sometimes to put an end to the dispute--I was equally uncivil; while one answer to many and of many things, he may inadvertently say something that may prejudice the most righteous cause. None ought to judge me wicked for what at most they can call but an error of conscience; and to remember all things, it behoves a man to remember the foundation of the other world. When a man acts against conscience, he doth it to gain, to maintain, or defend his own; but what they charge me with is far different, and I believe without example, wickedly requesting to know the cause of my confinement. If any person is disposed to attack my sermons, that they are obscure, or not cautiously enough worded, I am prepared either to explain or vindicate them, for I never preached any thing against the truth, against the councils of the fathers, or the catholic faith. All that my adversaries or detractors truly charge me with, is what I have long desired, and do desire, namely, the improving the common people's judgment. I heartilydesired that all men might know and comprehend the disagreement of things, the worth, place, time, degrees, and order proper for each, and how much they are concerned in those things which God has prepared for them to walk in: every man ought to be very diligent in doing the works of his calling; after which, many things indifferent may be done with equal diligence, amongst which are all things which no law has forbid, unless we forbid them to ourselves. It is lawful to use images, to go on pilgrimages, to invocate saints, to remember the souls in purgatory, but these which are voluntary acts are to be so restrained, that they diminished not the just esteem of the precepts of God, which bestow eternal life on those who follow them: then who use them otherwise, are so far from gaining the love of God, that they rather incur his hatred. The true love of God is to keep his commandments, as our Saviour says, 'He who heareth my words and doeth them, he it is who loveth me.' Let no man then have so mean an opinion of the laws of God, as to make them equal to the fancies of men, since by those at the last day before the tribunal of Christ we shall all be judged, and not by these; as Christ says, 'The word that I speak, that shall judge you at the last day:' and what man is able to make amends for the breach of one of those commandments, by any or all of these specious additions? O that we would be but as ready, as diligent, as devoted to do his will, as we are to follow our own empty notions! Many things done with an upright heart God accepts of, making allowances for our infirmities, though he has not commanded or required them; but these things ought to be taken away when they begin to have the force of commands, lest while we do these we omit those that are absolutely necessary; and what can be more absurd than to revere as ordinances of God, the idle fancies of men, whilst his true ordinances are neglected: whence I in behalf of the commandments of God stand hitherto immoveable, not seeking my own but Christ's gain, not my own but God's glory: and whilst I live I will stand steadfast.
"Thus all the German divines have hitherto complained of the intolerable abuse of these things, that no man desirous of the glory of Christ can accept of the ministry without doing what is against his conscience, and if some have submitted to this hardship purely to do good, yet what doth the christian religion suffer by it? unless we are so miserably blinded as to think that these things are to be dispensed with for our own filthy gain, though they are not for the honour of God. Now who can justify the constant practise of such things which in themselves are highly criminal? Some things are constantly performed which ought never, while others are omitted which ought always to be done: now who cannot see this manifest abuse? And who sees, and does not grieve? And who grieves, that would not labour to remove it? And when shall it be removed, while it is constantly preached and commended? Why, it is hardly possible for it not to be universal. It is one thing barely to permit, and another to enforce as law. "Go,' says Christ, 'and teach the people whatsoever I have commanded you.' Let us therefore, by the help of God, go and do this: let us employ our whole strength to preach the sincere word of God, not to flatter or cook up our sermons to men's depraved taste, then shall we be true preachers of God's word. Careless as men are in what relates to God, they are diligent enough in what relates to themselves, to this they want no spurs; but they are miserably deceived by an unjust esteem of things, and an early superstition received in their tender years from their forefathers, which we are hardly able to remember by any preaching, how frequent, how earnest, how sincere and pure soever, which God doth now permit; for in these evil days they who ought to preach themselves, forbid them to preach who are willing the able, and on the contrary, compel timeservers, who damnably detain the miserable people in superstition and false confidence; but the Lord have mercy upon us, and grant we may know his way upon earth, not to be found amongst those to whom he says, 'My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts you thoughts.' Hence I dare not subscribe to these propositions, most honoured father, because I would no ways be accessary to the longer continuance of these popular superstitions, lest I should be the author of my own damnation. Were I worthy, I would even give you some advice, but that impertinent thing, the heart, can do little else than guess, none knowing the things of a man but the spirit of a man which is in him. It is not any pride that hinders me from subscribing to these propositions; on the contrary, I am very sorry I cannot wholly perform your request. I know how great a crime it is to disobey God rather than man.
"My head aches so much; and my body is so weak, that I can neither come, nor write over again and correct these lines; but your lordship I hope, will approve, if not the judgment, yet the endeavours of your lordship's devoted servant." The several articles which he was required by the bishops to subscribe were these--"I believe that there is a purgatory to purge the souls of the dead after this life; that the souls in purgatory are holpen with the masses, prayers, and alms of the living; that the saints do pray as mediators now for us in heaven; that they are to be honoured by us in heaven; that it is profitable for Christians to call upon the saints, that they may pray as mediators for us unto God; that pilgrimages and oblations done to the sepulchers and relics of saints are meritorious; that they which have vowed perpetual chastity may not marry, nor break their vow, without the dispensation of the pope; that the keys of binding and loosing, delivered to Peter, do still remain with the bishops of Rome his successors, although they live wickedly, and are by no means, nor at any time, committed to laymen; that men may merit and deserve at God's hand by fasting, prayer, and other good works of piety; that they which are forbidden by the bishop to preach, as suspected persons, ought to cease until they have purged themselves before the said bishop, or their superiors, and be restored again; that the fast which is used in Lent and other fasts prescribed by the canons, and by custom received of the Christians, are to be observed and kept; that God in every one of the seven sacraments giveth grace to a man, rightly receiving the same; that consecrations, sanctifyings, and blessings, by use and custom received in the church, are laudable and profitable; that it is laudable and profitable, that the venerable images of the crucifix and other saints should be had in the churches as a remembrance, and to the honour and worship of Jesus Christ and his saints; that it is laudable and profitable to deck and to clothe those images, and set up burning lights before them to the honour of the said saints."
To these articles, whether he did subscribe or not, it is uncertain. It appears by his letter above, that he durst not consent to them; for he says--"I dare not subscribe to these propositions, because I would no ways be accessary to the longer continuance of these popular superstitions, lest I be the author of my own damnation." But whether he was compelled afterwards to agree, through the cruel dealings of the bishops, remains a doubt. By the words and the title in Tonstal's register prefixed before the articles, it may see that he did subscribe. The words of the register are these--"Hugh Latimer, bachelor of divinity, of the university of Cambridge, in a convocation held at West-minster before the lord archbishop of Canterbury, the lord bishop of London, and the rest of the clergy, has acknowledge and made the following confession of his faith, as in these articles, March 21st, 1531." If these words be true, it may be thought that he subscribed. But it ought to be received with great doubt, considering the subtlety, artifice, and want of candour, that prevailed amongst the Romish party. The following curious incident was related by himself in a sermon preached at Stamford, October 9th, 1550.
"I was once in examination before fie or six bishops, where I had much trouble: thrice every week I came to examinations, and many snares and traps were laid to get something. Now God knoweth I was ignorant of the law, but that God gave me wisdom what I should speak; it was God indeed, or else I had never escaped them. At last I was brought forth to be examined into a chamber hung with arras, where I was wont to be examined: but now at this time the chamber was somewhat altered. For whereas before there was wont always to be a fire in the chimney, now the fire was taken away, and in arras hung over the chimney, and the table stood near the fire-place. There was amongst the bishops who examined me, one with whom I had been very familiar, and took him for my great friend, an aged man, and he sat next to the table's end. Then amongst other questions he put forth a very subtle and crafty one, and such an one indeed, as I could not think so great danger in. And when I should make answer, one said, 'I pray you, Mr. Latimer, speak out, I am very thick of hearing, and here may be many that sit far off.' I marvelled at this that I was bid to speak out, and begun to suspect, and give an ear to the chimney; and there I heard a pen writing in the chimney behind the cloth. They had appointed one there to write all mine answers, for they made sure that I should not start from them: there was no starting from them. God was my good Lord, and gave me answer, I could never else have escaped it."
The question then and there objected to him was--Whether he thought in his conscience that he had been suspected of heresy? This was a captious question. There was no holding of peace; for that was to grant himself faulty. To answer it was very way full of danger. But God, who always giveth in need what to answer, helped him, or else he had never escaped their bloody hands. Although what was his answer he doth not there express.
Amongst these hard and dangerous straits, it had been hard for him, and almost impossible to have escaped and continued so long, had not the almighty helping hand of the Highest preserved him through the power of his prince; who with much favour embraced him, and with his mere power sometimes rescued and delivered him out of the crooked claws of his enemies. Moreover, at length, also through the interest of Dr. Butts and lord Cromwell, he advanced him to the dignity of a bishop, namely, bishop of Worchester. It were too long to stand particularly upon such things as might be brought to the commendation of this pious prelate; but the days then were so dangerous and variable, that he could not in all things do what he would. Yet what he could do, that he performed to the utmost of his strength, so that although he was not utterly able to extinguish all the sparkling relics of superstition, yet he so wrought that they were, in a great measure, lessened of their evil. As for example, in this thing, and divers others, it appeared that when it could not be avoided, but that holy water and holy bread must needs be received, yet so he prepared and instructed them of his diocese, with such informations and lessons, that in receiving thereof superstition should be excluded, and some remembrance taken thereby, teaching and charging the ministers of his diocese, in delivering the holy water and the holy bread, to use these forms. On giving the water, which had been blessed, they were to say to the people--
Christ, his mercy and blood-shedding,
By whose most holy sprinkling,
Of all your sins you have free pardoning."
And on giving the people the consecrated bread, they were to say-
Which on the cross for our sins was broken:
Wherefore of your sins you must be foresakers,
If of Christ's death you will be partakers."
Thus this good man behaved himself in his diocese. But still, both in the university and at his benefice, he was tossed and troubled by wicked and evil disposed persons; so in his bishopric also, he was not free from some that sought his trouble. As among many other evil willers, one especially there was, and he no small person, who accused him then to the king for his sermons. He thus explained himself in another discourse--"In the king's days that is dead, a great many of us were called together before him, to speak our minds in certain matters. In the end one kneeleth down and accuseth me of having preached seditious doctrine. A heavy salutation, and a hard point of such a man's doing, as if I should name you would not think. The king turned to me and said--'What say you to that, Sir?' Then I kneeled down, and turned first to my accuser, and asked him--'Sir, what form of preaching would you appoint me in preaching before a king? Would you have me preach nothing as concerning a king in a king's sermon? Have you any commission to appoint me what I shall preach?' Besides this, I asked him divers other questions, and he would make no answer to any of them all; he had nothing to say.
"Then I turned to the king, and submitted myself to his grace, and said--'I never thought myself worthy, nor did I ever sue to be a preacher before your grace, but I was called to it, and would be willing to give place to my betters; for I grant that there be a great many more worthy of the room than I am. And if it be your grace's pleasure so to allow them for preachers, I could be content to carry they books after them. But if your grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire you to give me leave to discharge my conscience, and thus to frame my doctrine according to my audience. I had been a very blockhead to have preached so at the borders of your realm, as I preach before your grace.' And I thank Almighty God that my sayings were well accepted of the king; for like a gracious lord he turned into another communication. It is even as the scripture saith--'The Lord directeth the king's heart.' Some of my friends came to me with tears in their eyes, and told me, they expected I should have been in the Tower the same night."
Besides this, divers other conflicts and combats this godly bishop sustained in his own country and diocese, in taking the cause of right and equity against oppression and wrong. Thus he continued in his laborious function of a bishop till the coming of the six articles. Then being distressed through the straitness of time, he must either sacrifice a good conscience, or else forsake his bishopric; the latter of which he freely did, and Dr. Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, resigned likewise with him. At which time he threw off his rochet in his chamber among his friends, and suddenly gave a leap for joy, on being discharged of such a heavy burden. However, he was not so lightened, but that troubles and labours followed him wheresoever he went. For a little after he renounced his bishopric, he was much bruised by the fall of a tree: then coming up to London for remedy, he was molested and troubled by the bishops, and was at length sent to the Tower, where he remained prisoner till the king Edward came to the crown, by which means the golden mouth of this preacher, long shut up before, was not opened again. He continued all the reign of Edward labouring in the Lord's harvest most fruitfully, discharging his talent at Stamford, and before the duchess of Suffolk, and many other places in this realm, as at London in the Convocation-house, and especially before the king at the court. In the inner garden, which had been applied to lascivious and courtly pastimes, there he dispensed the fruitful word of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, preaching before the king and his whole court, to the edification of many; for the most part twice every Sunday, although being so bruised by the fall of a tree, and above sixty-seven years of age.
As the diligence of this man of God never ceased all the time of king Edward, to profit the church both publicly and privately, so it is likewise to be observed, that the same good Spirit of God who assisted and comforted him in preaching the gospel, did also enable him to foretell all those plagues which afterwards ensued; if England ever had a prophet, he seemed to be one. And for himself, he ever affirmed that the preaching of the gospel would cost him his life, to which be no less cheerfully prepared himself; for after the death of king Edward, and not long after Mary was proclaimed queen, a pursuivant was sent down into the country to call him up, of whose coming, although Mr. Latimer lacked no forewarning, being informed thereof about six hours before by one John Careless, yet he was so far from endeavouring to escape, that he prepared himself for his journey before the officer came to his house.
At this the pursuivant marvelled, when Mr. Latimer said unto him--"My friend, you are a welcome messenger unto me. And be it known unto you and to all the world, that I go as willingly to London at this present, being called by my prince to render a reckoning of my doctrine, as ever I was at any place in the world. I doubt not but that God, as he hath made me worthy to preach his word before two excellent princes, so will he able me to witness the same unto the third, either to her comfort or discomfort eternally." When the pursuivant had delivered his letters, he departed, affirming that he had command not to wait for him. By this it was manifest that they would not have had him appear, but rather to have fled out of the realm, knowing that his constancy would deface them in their popery, and confirm the godly in the truth.
Coming up to London, and entering by Smithfield he merrily said, that Smithfield had long groaned for him. He was then brought before the council, where he patiently bearing all the mocks and taunts given him by the scornful papists, was again sent to the Tower: there being assisted by the heavenly grace of Christ, he meekly endured imprisonment a long time, notwithstanding the cruel and unmerciful usage of his enemies, who then thought their kingdom would never fall; yet he shewed himself not only patient, but also merry and cheerful, above all that they could work against him: yea, such a valiant spirit the Lord gave him, that he was able not only to despise the terrors of prisons and torments, but also to deride and laugh to scorn even the cruel proceedings of his enemies. It is well known to many what answer he made to the lieutenant when he was in the Tower. For when the lieutenant's man upon a time came to him, the aged father, kept without fire in the frosty winter, and well nigh starved with cold, bade the man tell his master, that if he did not look better after him, perchance he might deceive him--meaning by a premature death.
The lieutenant hearing this, and not knowing what to make of so odd a speech, and fearing that he would in earnest make his escape, began to look more strictly to his prisoner, and so coming to him, charged him with his words, at the same time reciting them. His answer was--"So I said, for I suppose you expect that I should burn; but except you let me have some fire, I am like to deceive your expectation, for I am in danger of starving here with cold." Thus is good man passing a long time in the Tower, with as much patience as a man in his case could do, from thence was carried to Oxford, with Cranmer and Ridley, there to dispute upon articles sent down from Gardiner, bishop of Winchester as before mentioned: the manner and order of which disputations between them and the university doctors, having bee sufficiently expressed. Where also is declared, how and by whom Mr. Latimer, with his fellow-prisoners, were condemned after disputations, and so committed again to the prison, where they continued from the month of April till October, occupied either with brotherly conference fervent prayer, or fruitful writing.
Mr. Latimer, by reason of the feebleness of his age, wrote least of all the distinguished martyrs of the day, especially in the latter time of his imprisonment; but in prayer he was fervently occupied, earnestly sending up to the throne of grace the following among numerous other petitions--That as God had appointed him to be a preacher of his word, so also he would give him grace to stand to his doctrine until his death. That God of his great mercy would restore his gospel to England once again. That of his good providence he would preserve the lady Elizabeth, whom in his prayer he used to name, and even with tears desiring God to make her a comfort to England. The answer to this prayer especially reminds us that "the prayer of a righteous man availeth much." So it appeared in the present case: indeed all the requests of this faithful servant were fully granted. His letters were equally to his prayers. Many of them were written in Latin; and they are so numerous and so long, that our limits will not admit of their insertion.
The following is a letter of Master Latimer to Master Morrice, concerning the articles which were falsely and untruly laid against him:--
"Right worshipful and mine own good master Morrice, health in Christ Jesus. And I thank you, for all hearty kindness, not only heretofore shewed unto me, but also that now of late you would vouchsafe to write unto me, so poor a wretch, to my great comfort among all these my troubles, I trust and doubt nothing in it, but God will reward you for me, and abundantly supply my inability. Mr. Morrice, you would wonder to know how I have been treated at Bristol, I mean by some of the priests, who first desired me, welcomed me, made me cheer, heard what I said, and allowed my saying in all things while I was with them; but when I was gone home to my benefice, perceiving that the people favoured me so greatly, and that the mayor had appointed me to preach at Easter, privily they procured in inhibition for all them that had not the bishop's license, which they knew well enough I had not, and so craftily defeated master mayor's appointment, pretending they were sorry for it, procuring also certain preachers to rail against me, as Hubberdin and Powel, with others; whom when I had brought before the mayor, and the wise council of the town, to know what they could lay to my charge, wherefore they so declaimed against me, they said they spake as they were informed. However no man could be brought forth that could stand to any thing: so that they had place and time to belie me shamefully, but they had no place or time to lay to my charge when I was present and ready to make them answer. God amend them, and assuage their malice, that they have against the truth and me.
"They did belie me to have said that our Lady was a sinner, when I had said nothing of the sort; but to reprove certain, both priests and beneficed men, which do give so much to our Lady, as though she had not been saved by Christ, a whole Saviour, both of her, and of all that be or shall be saved. I did reason after this manner, that either she was a sinner, or no sinner; of a sinner, then she was delivered from sin by Christ; so that he saved her, either by delivering or preserving her from sin, so that without him neither she nor any other could be saved. And to avoid all offence, I shewed how it might be answered, both to certain scriptures, which maketh all generally sinners, and also unto Chrysostom and Theophylact, who make her namely and specially a sinner. But all would not serve, their malice was so great; notwithstanding that 500 honest men can and will bear record. When they cannot reprove that thing that I do say, then will they belie me to say that thing which they can reprove; for they will needs appear to be against me."
This was not the only subject of calumny which Latimer's enemies took up. He proceeds thus to describe them.
"So they lied when I had shewn certain divers significations of this word 'saints' among the vulgar people: First, images of saints are called saints, and so they are not to be worshipped: take worshipping of them for praying to them; for they are neither mediators by way of redemption, nor yet by way of intercession. And yet they may be well used when they be applied to the uses for which they were ordained, to be laymen's books for remembrance of heavenly things, exciting the living to 'follow them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.' Take saints for inhabitants of heaven, and worshipping of them, for praying to them; I never denied, but that they might be worshipped, and be our mediators, though not by way of redemption, in which Christ alone is a whole Mediator, both for them and for us; yet by the way of intercession.
"Although they have charged me with denying pilgrimage, I never denied it. And yet I have said that much scurf must be pared away, ere ever it can be well done: superstition, idolatry, false faith, and trust in the pilgrimage, unjust estimation of the thing, setting aside God's ordinances for doing of the thing; debts must be paid, restitution made, wife and children must be provided for, duty to our neighbours discharged. And when it is at the beast, before it be vowed, it need not be done, for it is neither under the command of God nor man to be done. And wives must advise with their husbands, and husbands and wives with curates, before it be vowed to be done. ect.
"As for the Ave Maria, who can think that I would deny it? I said it was a heavenly greeting or saluting of our blessed Lady, wherein the angel Gabriel, sent from the Father of heaven, did annunciate and shew unto her the good-will of God towards her, what he would with her, and to what he had chosen her. But I said it was not properly a prayer as the Pater Noster, which our Saviour Christ himself made for a proper prayer, and bid us to say it for a prayer, not adding that we should say ten or twenty Ave Marias withal: and I denied not but that we may well say Ave Maria also, but not so that we shall think that the Pater Noster is not good, a whole and perfect prayer, and cannot be well said without Ave Maria: so that I did not speak against the well saying of it, but against the superstitious saying of it, and of the Pater Noster too; and yet I put a difference betwixt it, and that which Christ made to be said for a prayer.
"Whoever could think or say that I alleged that there was no fire whatever in hell? However, good authors do make a difference betwixt suffering in the fire with bodies, and without bodies. The soul without the body is a spiritual substance, which they say cannot receive a corporal quality; and some make it a spiritual fire, and some a corporeal fire. And as it is called a fire, so it is called a worm, and it is thought of some not to be a material worm, that is, a living reptile, but it is a metaphor, but that is nothing to the purpose; for a fire it is, a worm it is, pain it is, torment it is, anguish it is, a grief, a misery, a sorrow, a heaviness inexplicable and intolerable, whose nature and condition in every point, who can tell, but he that is of God's privy council? God give us grace rather to be diligent to keep us out of it, than to be curious to discuss the property of it; for certain we be, that there is little ease, yea, none at all, but weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, which be the effects of extreme pain, rather certain token what pain there is, than what manner of pain there is."
The subject of Purgatory has already been before the reader in reference to Latimer. He writes thus--
"He that sheweth the state and condition of it, doth not deny it. But I had rather be in it than Lollard's Tower, that bishop's prison, for divers reasons. In this I might die bodily for lack of meat and drink; in that I could not. In this I might die spiritually for fear of pain, or lack of good counsel; there I could not. In this I might be in extreme necessity; in that I could not, if it be peril of perishing. In this I might lack charity; there I could not. In this I might lose my patience; in that I could not. In this I might be in danger of death; in that I could not. In this I might be without surety of salvation; in that I could not. In this I might dishonour God; in that I could not. In this I might murmur and grudge against God; in that I could not. In this I might displease God; in that I could not. In this I might be displeased with God; in that I could not. In this I might be judged to perpetual prison, as they call it; in that I could not. In this I might be craftily handled; in that I could not. In this I might be brought to bear a fagot; in that I could not. In this I might be discontented with God; in that I could not. In this I might be separated and dissevered from Christ; in that I could not. In this I might be a member of the devil; in that I could not. In this I might be an inheritor of hell; in that I could not. In this I might pray out of charity, and in vain; in that I could not. In this my lord and his chaplains might manacle me by night; in that they could not. In this they might strangle me, and say that I hanged myself; in that they could not. In this they might have me to the consistory, and judge me after their fashion; from thence they could not. Therefore I had rather to be there than here. For though the fire be called ever so hot, yet if the bishop's two fingers can shake away a piece, a friar's cowl another part, and 'scali coeli' altogether, I will never found abby, college, nor chauntry, for that purpose. For seeing there is no pain that can break my charity, break my patience, cause me to dishonour God, to displease God, to be displeased with God, cause me not to joy in God, nor that can bring me to danger of death, or to danger of desperation, or from surety of salvation, that can separate us from Christ, or Christ from us, I care the less for it. Chrysostom saith, the greatest pain that damned souls have, is to be separate and cut off from Christ for ever: which pain the souls in purgatory neither have nor can have.
"Consider, Mr. Morrice, whether provision for purgatory hath not brought thousands to hell. Debts have not been paid; restitution of evil-gotten lands and goods hath not been made; christian people whose necessities we see, to whom whatsoever we do Christ reputeth done to himself, to whom we are bound under pain of condemnation to do for, as we would be done for ourselves, are neglected and suffered to perish; last wills unfulfilled and broken; God's ordinance set aside; and also for purgatory, foundations have been taken for sufficient satisfaction; so we have trifled away the ordinances of God and restitutions. Thus we have gone to hell with masses, dirges, and ringing of many a bell. And who can pill pilgrimages from idolatry, and purge purgatory from robbery, but he shall be in peril to come in suspicion of heresy with them? so that they may fleece one with pilgrimage, and spoil with purgatory. And verily the abuse of them cannot be taken away, but great lucre and advantage shall fall away from them, who had rather have profit with abuse, than lack the same with use; and that is the wasp that doth sting them, and maketh them to swell. And if purgatory were purged of all that it hath gotten, by setting aside restitution, and robbing of Christ, it would be but a poor purgatory; so poor, that it should not be able to feed so fat, and trick up so many idle and slothful lubbers.
"I take God to witness, I would hurt no man, but it grieveth me to see such abuse continue without remedy. I cannot understand what they mean by the pop's pardoning of purgatory, but by way of suffrage: and as for suffrage, unless he do his duty, and seek not his own, but Christ's glory, I had rather have the suffrage of Jack of the scullery, who is his calling doth exercise both faith and charity? but for his mass. And that is as good of another simple priest as of him. For, as for authority of keys, it is to loose from guiltiness of sin and eternal pain, due to the same, according to Christ's word, and not to his own private will. And as for pilgrimage, you will wonder what juggling there is to get money withal. I dwell within half a mile of the Foss-way; and you would wonder to see how they come by flocks out of the west country to many images, but chiefly to the blood of Hayles. And they believe verily that it is the very blood that was in Christ's body, shed upon the mount of Calvary for our salvation; and that the sight of it with their bodily eye doth certify them, and putteth them out of doubt, that they be clean in life, and in state of salvation without spot of sin, which doth bolden them to do many things. For you would wonder if you should commune with them both coming and going what faith they have: for, as for forgiving their enemies, and reconciling their Christian brethren, they cannot away withal; for the sight of that blood doth requite them for a time.
"I read in Scripture of two certifications; one to the Romans: 'We being justified by faith have peace with God.' If I see the blood of Christ with the eye of my soul, that is true faith, that his blood was shed for me, ect. Another in the epistle of St. John: 'We know that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren." But I read not that I have peace with God, or that I am translated from death to life, because I see with my bodily eye the blood of Hayles. It is very probable, that all the blood that was in the body of Christ, was united and knit to his Divinity, and then no part thereof shall return to his corruption. And I marvel that Christ shall have two resurrections. And if it were that they did violently and injuriously pluck it out of his body when they scourged him and nailed him to the cross, did see it with their bodily eye, yet they were not in can life. And we see the self-same blood in form of wine, when we have consecrated, and may both see it, feel it, and receive it to our damnation, as touching bodily receiving. And many do see it at Hayles without confession, as they say. God knoweth all, and the devil in our time is not dead.
"Christ hath left a doctrine behind him, wherein we be taught how to believe, and what to believe; he doth suffer the devil to use his craftiness, for our trial and probation. It were little thank-worthy to believe well and rightly, if nothing should move us to false faith, and to believe superstitiously. It was not in vain that Christ said, "Beware of false prophets." But we are secure and careless as though false prophets could not meddle with us, and as if the warning of Christ were no more earnest and effectual, than is the warning of mothers when they trifle with their children. Lo, Sir, how I run at riot beyond measure. When I began, I was minded to have written but half a dozen lines; but thus I forget myself, whenever I write to a trusty friend, who will take in worth my folly, and keep it from mine enemy.
"As for Dr. Wilson, I know not what I should say: but I pray God endue him with charity. Neither he nor any of his countrymen did ever love me, since I did inveigh against their factions, and partiality in Cambridge. Before that, who was more favoured of him than I? That is the bile that may not be touched. A certain friend showed me, that Dr. Wilson is gone now into his country, about Beverley in Holderness, and from thence he will go a journey through Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and so from thence to Bristol. What he intendeth by this progress God knoweth, and not I. If he come to Bristol, I shall hear.
"As for Hubberdin he is a man of no great learning, nor yet of stable wit. He is here servus hominum; for he will preach whatsoever the bishops will bid him. Verily in my mind they are more to be blamed than he. He doth magnify the pope more than enough. As for our Saviour Christ and christian kings, they are little beholden to him. No doubt he did miss the cushion in many things. Howbeit, they that did send him, men think, will defend him; I pray God amend him and them both. They would fain make matter against me, intending so either to deliver him by me, or else to rid us both together, and so they would think him well bestowed.
"As touching Dr. Powel, how highly he took upon him in Bristol, and how little he regarded the sword, which representeth the king's person, many can tell you. I think there is never an earl in this realm that knoweth his obedience by Christ's commandment to his prince, and knoweth what the sword doth signify, that would have taken upon him so stoutly. However, master mayor, as he is a profound wise man, did flout him prettily; it were too long to write all. Our pilgrimages are not a little beholden to him, in favour of which he alleged this text: "Whoever leaveth father, house, wife, kindred, and his own life also for me, shall be my disciple." But that you may perceive his hot zeal and crooked judgment. Because I am so belied, I could wish that it would please the king's grace to command me to preach before his highness a whole year together every Sunday, that he himself might perceive how they belie me, saying, that I have neither learning nor utterance worthy thereunto. I pray you pardon me, I cannot make an end."
Besides his letter to master Morrice, and two epistles in Latin, he also wrote other letters, as two to sir Edward Baynton, which contain much fruitful matter and worthy to be known, albeit space can here be had only for a few extracts. The letter from which these are given was an answer to one from Baynton, the purport of which is shown in Latimer's reply:
"Either I am certain or uncertain that it is truth that I preach. If it be truth, who may not I say so, to courage my hearers to receive the same more ardently, and ensue it more studiously? If I be uncertain, why dare I be so bold to preach it? And if your friends, in whom ye trust so greatly, be preachers themselves, after their sermon I pray you to ask them whether they be certain and sure that they taught you the truth or no; and send me word what they say, that I may learn to speak after them. If they say they be sure, ye know what followeth: if they say they be unsure, when shall you be sure, that have so doubtful teachers and unsure? And you yourselves, whether are you certain or uncertain that Christ is your Saviour? And so forth of other articles that ye be bounden to believe.
"Our knowledge her, you say, is but 'per speculum in enigmate:' what then? ergo, it is not certain and sure. I deny your argument; yea, if it be by faith, it is much sure, 'because the certainty of faith is the most surest certainty;' there is a great discrepance between certain knowledge and clear knowledge, for that may be of things absent that appear not, this requireth the presence of the object, I mean of the thing known; so that I certainly and surely know the thing which I perfectly believe, though I do not clearly and evidently know it. I know your school subtleties as well as you, which dispute as though enigmatical knowledge, that is to say, dark and obscure knowledge, might not be certain and sure knowledge, because it is not clear, manifest, and evident knowledge; and yet there have been which have had a zeal, but not after knowledge. True it is there have been such, and yet are too many tot he great hinderance of Christ's glory, which nothing doth more obscure, than a hot zeal accompanied with great authority without right judgment. There have been also, which have had knowledge without any zeal of God, who holding the verity of God in unrighteousness, shall be beaten with many stripes, while they knowing the will of God do nothing thereafter. I mean not among Turks and Saracens that be unchristened, but of them that be christened. And there have been also, they that have lost the spiritual knowledge of God's word which they had before, because they have not followed after it, nor promoted the same, but rather with their mother's wits have impugned the wisdom of the Father, and hindered the knowledge thereof, which therefore hath been taken away from them; that Christ may be justified in his sayings, and overcome when he is judged: threatening to him that hath not, that also which he hath (that is, that which he seemeth to have) shall be taken from him: because to abuse that which a man hath, or not use it well, is as not to have it; and also seeing it is true, that God's wisdom will not dwell in a body subject to sin, albeit it abound in carnal wisdom too much: for the mere carnal and philosophical understanding of God's Scriptures is not the wisdom of God, which is hid from the wise, and is revealed to little ones. And if to call this or that truth requireth a deep and profound knowledge, then every man hath either a deep and profound knowledge, or else no man can call this or that truth; and it behoveth every preacher to have this deep and profound knowledge, that he may call this or that truth, which this or that he taketh in hand to preach for the truth; and yet he may be ignorant and uncertain in many things, as Apollos was; but which things he will not attempt to preach for the truth. As for myself, I trust in God I have my senses well enough exercised to discern good and evil in those things, which (being without deep and profound knowledge in many things) I preach not: yea, there be many things in Scripture, nor yet with help of all interpreters that I have, no content myself and others in all scrupulosity that may arise; but in such I am wont to wade no further into the stream, than that I may either go over or else return back again, having ever respect, not to the ostentation of my little wit, but to the edification of them that hear me, as far forth as I can, neither passing mine own nor yet their capacity.
"And such manner of argumentations might well serve the devil contra pusillanimes, to occasion them to wonder and waver in the faith, and to be uncertain in things in which they ought to be certain: or else it may appear to make and serve against such preachers as will define great subtleties and high matters in the pulpit, which no man can be certain and sure of by God's word to be truth, unless a man had a superlative sense to discern good and evil.--Such arguments might appear to make well against such preachers, not against me, which simply and plainly utter true faith and the fruits of the same, which be the good works of God, that he hath prepared for us to walk in, every man to do the thing that pertaineth to his office and duty in his degree and calling, as the word appointeth, which thing a man may do with soberness, having a sense but indifferently exercised to discern good and evil. For it is but foolish humility, willingly to continue always an infant in Christ and in infirmity. In reproof of which it was said--"Ye have need of milk and not of strong meat." For St. Paul saith not--"Be he humble, so as to deceive yourselves by ignorance." For though he would not that we should think arrogantly of ourselves, and above what it becometh us to think of ourselves, but so to think of ourselves that we may be sober and modest; yet he biddeth us so to think of ourselves, as God hath distributed to every one the measure of faith. For he that may not with meekness think in himself what God hath done for him, and of himself as God hath done for him, how shall he, or when shall he give due thanks to God for his gifts? And if your friends will not allow the same, I pray you inquire of them, whether they may with sobriety and modesty follow St. Paul's advice, where he saith unto us all--"Be not children in understanding, but in maliciousness be ye infants." God give us all grace to keep the mean, and to think of ourselves neither too high nor too low, but so that we may restore unto him who hath sent abroad his gifts again, with good use of the same, so that we do our part with the same, to the glory of God.
"I pray you what mean your friends by a Christian congregation? All those who have been baptised? But many of those be in a worse condition, and shall have greater damnation, than many unbaptised. For it is not enough to a christian congregation that is of God, to have been baptised: but it is to be considered what we promise when we are baptised, to renounce satan, his works, his pomps. Which things if we busy not ourselves to do, let us not boast that we profess Christ's name in a Christian congregation in one baptism. And whereas they add, "in one Lord, "I read in Matt. xvii., "Not every one that saith Lord, Lord,' ect. And in Luke the Lord himself complaineth and rebuketh such professors and confessors, saying to them, 'Why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not that I bid you?' Even as though it were enough to a Christian man, or to a Christian congregation, to say every day, 'Domine, dominus noster,' and to salute Christ with a double 'domine.' But I would your friends would take the pains to read over Chrysostome, super Matthaeum, hom. 49. cap. 24, to learn to know a Christian congregation, if it will please them to learn at him. And whereas they add, ' in one faith.' St. James saith boldly, "show me thy faith by thy works." And St. Jerome, "If we believe, we show the truth in working.' And the Scripture saith, "He that believeth God, attendeth to his commandments:' And the devils do believe to their little comfort. I pray God to save you and your friends from believing congregation, and from that faithful company!
"But now your friends have learned of St. John, that 'every one that confesseth Jesus Christ in flesh, is of God:' and I have learned of St. Paul, that there have been, not among the heathen, but among the Christians, which confess Christ with their mouth, and deny him with their acts: so that St. Paul should appear to expound St. John, saving that I will not affirm anything as of myself, but leave it to your friends to show you, 'utrum qui factis negant Christum et vita sint ex Deo necne per solam oris confessionem:' for your friends to know well enough by the same St. John, 'qui ex Deo est, non peccat:' and there both have been and be now too many, 'which with mouth only confess Christ to be come in the flesh;' but will not effectually hear the word of God, by consenting to the same, notwithstanding that St. John saith--'He who is of God, heareth God's word; you hear not, because you are not of God.' And many shall hear, 'I never knew you,' which shall not alonely be christened, but also shall 'prophetare,' and do puissant things in the name of Christ. St. Paul said, there would come ravening wolves, which would not spare the flock: meaning of them who should with their lips confess Christ in the flesh, and yet usurp the office; which Christ biddeth us beware of, saying, 'They shall come in sheep's clothing;' not feeding, but smiting their fellows, eating and drinking with the drunken, which shall have their portion with hypocrites. They are called servants, I suppose, because they confess Christ in the flesh; and naughty they are called, because they deny him in their deeds, not giving meat in due season, and exercising mastership over the flock. And yet your friends reason as though there could none bark and bite at true preachers, but they that be unchristened,notwithstanding that St. Augustine, upon the same epistle of St. John, calleth such confessors of Christ, antichrist; and so making division, not between christened and unchristened, but between christians and antichristians, when neither tongue nor pen can divide the antichristian from their blind folly.
"Sir, I have had more business in my little cure since I spake with you, what with sick folks, and what with matrimonies, than I have had since I came to it, or than I would have thought a man should have in a great cure. I wonder how men can go quietly to bed, who have great and many cures, and yet peradventure are in none of them all. But I pray you tell none of your friends that I spake so foolishly, lest I make a dissension in a christian congregation, and divide a sweet and peaceable union, or as many as may rest with this in such an age. Sir, I had just made an end of this scribbling, and was beginning to transcribe it more correctly, but there came a man of my lord of Farley's, with a citation to appear before my lord of London in haste, to be punished for such excesses as I committed at my last being there, so that I could not perform my purpose; I doubt whether you can read it as it is. If you can, well be it; if not, I pray you send it me again, and that you so do, whether you can read it or not. Jesus, mercy, what a world is this, that I should be put to so great labour and pains, besides great charges, above my power, for preaching a poor simple sermon! But I think our Saviour Christ said true, I must needs suffer: so dangerous a thing it is to live virtuously with Christ, yea, in a christian congregation. God make us all Christians, after the right fashion, Amen."
Master Latimer growing in some favour with the king, and seeing the great decay of Christ's religion by reason of proclamations forbidding the reading of God's holy Scriptures, and touched therefore with the zeal of conscience, directed unto king Henry a long letter, thereby intending by all means possible to persuade the king's mind to set open again the freedom of God's holy word amongst his subjects. The whole letter would well repay perusal, but space will only serve to exhibit the following extracts:
"To the most mighty prince, king of England, Henry the Eighth, grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ. The holy doctor, St. Augustine, in an epistle which he wrote to Casalandus saith, that he which for fear of any power hideth the truth, provoketh the wrath of God to come upon him, for he feareth men more than God. And according to the same, the holy St.John Chrysostom saith, that he is not only a traitor to the truth, which openly for truth teacheth a lie; but he also which doth not freely pronounce and show the truth that he knoweth. These sentences, most redoubted king, when I read now of late, and marked them earnestly in the inward parts of mine heart, they made me sore afraid, troubled, and vexed me grievously in my conscience; and at the last drave me to this strait, that either I must show forth such things as I have read and learned in Scripture, or else be of that sort who provoke the wrath of God upon them, and be traitors unto the truth: the which thing, rather than it should happen, I had rather suffer extreme punishment.
"First, and before all things, I will exhort your grace to mark the life and process of our Saviour Christ, and his apostles, in preaching and setting-forth of the gospel; and to note also the words of our master Christ, which he said to his disciples when he sent them forth to preach his gospel; and to these have ever in your mind the golden rule of our master Christ, 'The tree is known by the fruit;' for by the diligent marking of these, your grace shall clearly know and perceive who be the true followers of Christ, and teachers of his gospel, and who be not. And concerning the first, all Scripture showeth plainly, that our Saviour Jesus Christ's life was very poor.
"But this he did to show us that his followers and vicars should not regard and set by the riches and treasures of this world, but after the saying of David we ought to take them, which saith thus: "If riches, promotions, and dignity happen to a man, let him not set his affiance, pleasure, trust, and heart upon them.' So that it is not against the poverty in spirit, which Christ preacheth in the gospel of St. Matthew, chapter v., to be rich, to be in dignity and in honour, so that their hearts be not fixed and set upon them so much, that they neither care for God nor good men. But they be enemies to this poverty in spirit, have they never so little, that have greedy and desirous minds to the goods of this world, only because they would live after their own pleasures and lusts. And they also be privy enemies (and so much the worse) which have professed, as they have say, wilful poverty, and will not be called worldly men; and they have lords' lands, and kings' riches. Yea, rather than they would lose one jot of that which yea, between the king and his subjects, and cause rebellion against the temporal power, to the which our Saviour Christ himself obeyed, and paid tribute as the gospel declareth; unto whom the holy apostle St. Paul teacheth every Christian man to obey: yea, and beside all this, they will curse and ban, as much as in them lieth, even into the deep pit of hell, all that gainsay their appetite, whereby they think their goods, promotions, or dignities should decay. And although I named the spiritualty to be corrupt with this unthrifty ambition, yet I mean not all to be faulty therein, for there be some good of them: neither will I that your grace should take away the goods due to the church, but take away such evil persons from the goods, and set better in their stead.
"The holy apostle St. Paul saith, that 'every man that will live godly in Christ Jesus, should suffer persecution.' And also he saith further, in the Epistle written to the Philipians, in the first chapter, that 'it is not only given to you to believe in the Lord, but also to suffer persecution for his sake.' Wherefore take this for a sure conclusion, that there, where the word of God is truly preached, there is persecution, as well of the hearers as of the teachers: and where is quietness and rest in worldly pleasure, there is not the truth. For the world loveth all that are of the world, and hateth all things that are contrary to it. And, to be short, St. Paul calleth the gospel the word of the cross, the word of punishment. And the holy Scripture doth promise nothing to the favourers and followers of it in this world, but trouble, vexation, and persecution, which these worldly men cannot suffer, nor away withal. Therefore pleaseth it your good grace to return to this golden rule of our Master and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is this, 'By their fruits you shall know them.'
"But as concerning this matter, other men have showed your grace their minds, how necessary it is to have the Scripture in English. The which thing also your grace hath promised by your last proclamation: the which promise I pray God that your gracious highness may shortly perform, even to-day, before to-morrow.--Seeing that our Saviour Christ hath sent his servants, that is to say, his true preachers, and his own word also, to comfort our weak and sick souls, let not these worldly men make your grace believe that they will cause insurrections and heresies, and such mischiefs as they madly imagine, lest that he be avenged upon you and your realm, as he hath ever upon them which have obstinately withstood his word.
"Wherefore, gracious king, remember yourself, have pity upon your soul; and think that the day is even at hand, when you shall give account of your office, and of the blood that hath been shed with your sword. In the which day that your grace may stand steadfastly, and not be ashamed, but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and to have (as they say) your 'quietus eat' sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which only serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to him that suffered death for our sins, which also prayeth to his Father for grace for us continually. To whom be all honour and praise for ever, Amen. The Spirit of God preserve your grace.--Anno Domini 1530. Prom. die Decembris."
In this letter of master Latimer we have to consider his good conscience to God, his good-will to the king, the duty of a right pastor unto truth, and his tender care to the church of Christ. Further, we may note the subtle practices of prelates in abusing the name and authority of kings, to set forth their own malignant proceedings; and also the great goldness of this man, who durst, in defence of Christ's gospel, so freely and plainly counsel that which no other durst once speak of. And yet God so wrought with his servant's bold adventure that no danger nor displeasure rose to him thereby, but rather thanks and good-will of his prince, who soon after advanced him to the bishopric of Worchester.
During the time that the said master Latimer was prisoner in Oxford, we read not of much that he did write besides his conference with Dr. Ridley, and his protestation at the time of his disputation. Otherwise of letters we find very few, or none, save only these few lines, which he wrote to one Mrs. Wilkinson of London, a godly matron, and an exile afterward for the gospel's sake: who, so long as she remained in England, was a singular patroness to the good saints of God, and learned bishops, as to Hooper, to the bishop of Hereford, to Coverdale, to Latimer, to Cranmer, and many others. The copy of his letter to Mrs. Wilkinson here followeth:
"If the gift of a pot of cold water shall not be in oblivion with God, how can God forget your manifold and bountiful gifts, when he shall say to you, 'I was in prison, and you visited me?' God grant us all to do and suffer, while we be here, as may be his will and pleasure.--Yours, Hugh Latimer."
Touching the memorable acts and doings of this worthy man, among many others this is not to be neglected, what a bold enterprise he attempted in sending to king Henry a present, the manner whereof is this. There was then, and remaineth still, an ancient custom received from the old Romans, that upon New-year's day, every bishop with some handsome New-year's gift should gratify the king; and so they did, some with gold, some with silver, some with a purse full of money, and some one thing, some another. But master Latimer, being bishop of Worchester then, among the rest, presented a New Testament for his New-year's gift, with a napkin having this posy about it, "Fornicators et adulteros judicabit Dominus."
And thus thou hast, gentle reader, a sketch of the life both of master Ridley and of master Latimer severally by themselves set forth and described, with their chief proceedings from time to time until this present month of October 1555: in the which month they were brought forth together to their final examination and execution. Wherefore as they were together joined both in one cause and martyrdom, we will, by the grace of Christ, so prosecute the rest that remaineth concerning their latter examination, degrading,a nd constant suffering.
First, after the appearing of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, before the pop's delegate, and the queen's commissioners, in St. Mary's church at Oxford, about the 12th of September, (whereof more shall be said, by God's grace, when we come to the death of the said archbishop;) shortly after, on the 28th of the said month, was sent down to Oxford another commission from cardinal Pole, legate a latere, to John White, bishop of Lincoln, to Dr. Brooks, bishop of Glouchester, and Dr. Holyman, bishop of Bristol. The contents and virtue of which commission were, that the said bishops should have full power and authority to cite, examine, and judge master Latimer and Dr. Ridley, for divers and sundry erroneous opinions, which the said Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley did hold and maintain in open disputations had in Oxford, in the months of May, June, and July, in the year of our Lord 1554, as long before, in the time of perdition, and since. Which opinions, if they would now recant, giving and yielding themselves to the determination of the universal and catholic church planted by Peter in the blessed see of Rome, that then the deputed judges, by the authority of their commission, should have power to receive the penitent persons, and forthwith administer unto them the reconciliation of the holy father the pope. But if they would stoutly and stubbornly maintain their erroneous opinions, then the said lords by their commission should proceed in form of judgment, according to the law of heretics; that is, degrade them from their promotion and dignity of bishops, priests, and all other ecclesiastical orders, pronounce them as heretics, cut them off from the church, and deliver them up to receive the punishment due to such heresy and schism.
Wherefore, the last of September, Nicholas Risley and Hugh Latimer were cited to appear before the said lords, in the divinity school at Oxford, at eight of the clock. At which time thither required the lords, placing themselves in the high seat made for public lectures and disputations, according to the usage of that school. And after the said lords were placed and set, the said Latimer and Ridley were sent for; and first appeared Dr. Ridley, and anon master Latimer. But because it seemed good severally to examine them, Latimer was kept back until master Ridley was thoroughly examined. Therefore, soon after the coming of Ridley into the school, the commission was published by an appointed notary, and openly read. Ridley at first stood bareheaded, but as soon as he had heard the cardinal named, and the pope's holiness, he put on his cap. Wherefore after the commission was published, the conference thus proceeded.
Lincoln. Mr. Ridley, although neither I, nor yet my lords here, in respect of our own persons, look for cap or knee, yet because we bear and represent such persons as we do, that is, my lord cardinal's grace, legate a latere to the pope's holiness, as well in that he is of a noble parentage (here Dr. Ridley moved his cap with low obeisance) descending from the royal blood, as in that he is a man worthy to be reverenced with all humility, for his great knowledge and learning, noble virtues and godly life, it would have become you at this name to have uncovered your head. Wherefore except you will of your ownself take the pains to put your hand to your head, and at the nomination, as well of the said cardinal, as of the pop's holiness, uncover the same, you will cause us to oblige some man to pluck off your cap.
Rid. Respecting what you said, my lord, that you of your own persons desire no cap or knee, but only require it in consideration of your representing the cardinal's grace, I would have you know, that I put on my cap at the naming of him, not for any contumacy that I bear towards your own persons, nor for any derogation of honour towards the lord cardinal. For I know him to be a man worthy of all humility, reverence, and honour, in that he came of the most regal blood, and in that he is a man endued with manifold graces of learning and virtue; and as touching these virtues and points, I, with all humility (here he put off his cap and bowed his knee) and obeisance, reverence, and honour his grace. But as he is a legate to the bishop of Rome (and therewith put on his cap) whose usurped supremacy and abused authority I utterly refuse and renounce, I may in no wise give obeisance or honour unto him, lest my so doing might be prejudicial to mine oath, and a derogation to the verity of God's words: therefore that I might not only by confession profess the truth, in not reverencing the renounced authority, contrary to God's word, but also in gesture, in behaviour, and all my doings, express the same, I have put on my cap, and for this consideration only, and not for any contumacy to your lordships, neither contempt of this worshipful audience, or derogation of honour due to the cardinal's grace.
Lin. Mr. Ridley, you excuse yourself of that with which we pressed you not, in that you protest you keep on your cap, neither for any contumacy towards us, nor for any contempt of this audience; which although justly they may, yet in this case do not require any such obeisance of you; neither in derogation of any honour due to my lord cardinal for his regal decent (at which word Dr. Ridley moved his cap) and excellent qualities; for although in all the premises honour be due, yet in these respects we require none of you, but only in that my lord cardinal's grace is here in England, deputy of the pop's holiness, (at which word the lords and others put off their caps, and Dr. Ridley put on his) and therefore we say unto you the second time, that except you take the pains yourself, to put your hand to your head, and put off your cap, you shall put us to the pains to cause some man to take it from you, except you allege some infirmity and sickness, or other more reasonable cause, upon the consideration whereof we may do as we think good.
Rid. The premises I said only for this end, that it might as well appear to your lordships, as to this worshipful audience, why and for what consideration I sued such kind of behaviour, in not humbling myself to your lordships with cap and knee: and as for my sickness, I thank my Lord God, that I am as well at east as I have been this long time; and therefore I do not pretend that which is not, but only this, that it might appear by this my behaviour, that I acknowledge in no point that usurped supremacy of Rome, and therefore contemn and utterly despise all authority coming from him.
Then the bishop of Lincoln, after the third admonition, commanded one of the beadles to take his cap from his head. Dr. Ridley bowing his head to the officer, gently permitted him to take it away. After this the bishop of Lincoln, in a long oration, exhorted Ridley to recant, and submit himself to the universal faith of Christ, endeavouring to prove the right of supremacy in the church of Rome, charging him also, with having formerly been favourable to their doctrines and ceremonies. Ridley heard him patiently, and when he had concluded, desired his patience to suffer him to speak somewhat of the premises, lest the multitude of things might confound his memory; and having leave granted him, he thus spake:
"I most heartily thank your lordship, as well for your gentleness, as for your good and favourable zeal in this learned exhortation, in which I have marked especially three points, by which you sought to persuade me to leave my doctrine and religion, (which I perfectly know to be grounded, not upon man's imaginations and decrees, but upon the infallible truth of Christ's gospel,) and to return to the Romish see. First, the first point is this, that the see of Rome taking its beginning from Peter, upon whom you say Christ hath builded his church, hath in all ages lineally, from bishop to bishop, been brought to this time. Second, that even the holy fathers have in their writings confessed the same. Third, that I myself was of the same opinion, and altogether with you I did acknowledge the same.
"First, as touching the saying of Christ, from whence your lordship gathereth the foundation of the church upon Peter, truly the place is not to be understood as you take it, as the circumstance of the place will declare. For after Christ had asked his disciples whom men judged him to be, and they answered, that some had said he was a prophet, some Elias, some one thing, some another; then he said, 'Whom say ye that I am?' Then Peter answered, ' I say that thou art Christ the Son of God.' To whom Christ answered, 'I say thou art Peter, and upon this stone I will build my church;' that is to say, Upon this stone, not meaning Peter himself, as though he would have constituted a mortal man, so frail and brittle a foundation of his stable and infallible church: but upon this rick-stone, that is, this confession of thine, that I am the Son of the living God, I will build my church. For this is the foundation and beginning of all christianity, with word, heart, and mind, to confess that Christ is the Son of God. Here we see upon what foundation Christ's church is built, not upon the frailty of man, but upon the stable and infallible word of God.
"As touching the lineal descent of the bishops in the see of Rome, true it is, that the patriarchs of Rome in the apostles' time, and long after, were great maintainers of Christ's glory, in which, above all other countries and regions, there especially was preached the true gospel, the sacraments were most duly administered; and as, before Christ's coming, it was a city so valiant in prowess, and martial affairs, that all the world was in a manner subject to it; and after Christ's passion divers of the apostles there suffered persecution for the gospel's sake: so after that the emperors, their hearts being illuminated, received the gospel, and became christians, the gospel there, as well for the fame of the place, flourished most, whereby the bishops of that place were had in more reverence and honour, most esteemed in all councils and assemblies, not because they acknowledge them to be their head, but because the place was most reverenced and spoken of, for the great power and strength of the same. As now here in England, the bishop of Lincoln, in sessions and sittings, hath the pre-eminence of other bishops, not that he is the head and ruler of them; but for the dignity of the bishopric. Wherefore the doctors in their writings have spoken most reverently of this see of Rome, and in their writings preferred it; and this is the prerogative which your lordship did rehearse the ancient doctors to give to the see of Rome. In the same manner I cannot nor dare but commend, reverence, and honour the see of Rome, so long as it continued in the promotion and setting forth of God's glory, and in due preaching of the gospel, as it did many years after Christ, But after that the bishops of that see, seeking their own pride, and not God's honour, began to set themselves above kings and emperors, challenging to them the title of God's vicars, the dominion and supremacy over all the world, I cannot but with St. Gregory, a bishop of Rome also, confess that place is the very true Antichrist, whereof St. John speaketh by name of the whore of Babylon; and say, with Gregory, 'He that maketh himself a bishop over all the world, is worse than Antichrist.'
"Whereas you say St. Augustine should seem not only to give such a prerogative, but also supremacy tot he see of Rome, in that he saith all the christian world is subject to the church of Rome, and therefore should give to that see a certain kind of subjection; I am sure that your lordship knoweth, that in Augustine's time there were four patriarchs, of Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, and Rome, which patriarchs had under them certain countries; as in England the archbishop of Canterbury hath under him certain bishoprics in England and Wales, to whom he may be said to be their patriarch. Also your lordship knoweth right well, that at the time Augustine wrote that book he was then bishop in Africa. Farther, you are not ignorant, that between Europe and Africa lieth the sea called the Mediterranean sea, so that all the countries in Europe to him which is in Africa, may be called countries beyond the sea. Hereof Augustine saith, 'All the christian countries beyond the seas and remote regions, are subject to the see of Rome.' If I should say all countries beyond the sea, I do except England, which to me now, being in England, is not beyond the sea. In this sense, Augustine saith, 'All the countries beyond the sea are subject to the see of Rome;' declaring thereby that Rome was one of the sees of the four patriarchs, and under it Europe. By what subjection I pray you? only for a pre-eminence; as we here in England say, that all the bishoprics are subject to the archbishoprics.
"For this pre-eminence also the other doctors say, that Rome is the mother of churches, as the bishopric of Lincoln is mother to the bishopric of Lincoln, and they were once both one; and so is the archbishopric of Canterbury mother to the other bishoprics which are in her province. In like manner the archbishopric of York, is mother to the north bishoprics; and yet no man will say, that Lincoln, Canterbury, or York, is supreme head to the other bishoprics; neither then ought we to confess the see of Rome to be supreme head, because the doctors, in their writings, confess the see of Rome to be mother of churches.
"Where you say, I was once of the same religion as you are of, the truth is, I cannot but confess the same. Yet so was St. Paul a persecutor of Christ. But in that you say, I was one of you not long ago, in that I, in doing my message to my lord of Winchester, should desire him to stand stout in that gross opinion of the supper of the Lord: in very deed I was sent, as your lordship said, from the council to my lord of Winchester, to exhort him also to receive the true confession of justification; and because he was very refectory, I said to him, 'What make you so great a matter herein? you see many anabaptists rise against the sacrament of the altar; I pray you, my lord, be diligent in confounding of them!' for at that time my lord of Winchester and
I had to do with two anabaptists in Kent. In this sense I willed my lord to be stiff in the defence of the sacraments against the detestable errors of anabaptists, and not in the confirmation of that gross and carnal opinion now maintained.
"In like manner, respecting the sermon which I made at St. Paul's Cross, you shall understand, that there were at St. Paul's, and divers other places, fixed railing bills against the sacrament, terming it Jack of the Box, the Sacrament of the Halter, round Robin, with other unseemly terms; for which causes, to rebuke irreverent behaviour of certain evil-disposed persons, I preached as reverently of that matter as I might, declaring what estimation and reverence ought to be given to it, what danger ensued the mishandling thereof; affirming in that sacrament to be truly and verily the body and blood of Christ, effectually by grace and spirit; which words the unlearned understanding not, supposed that I had meant of the gross and carnal being which the Romish decrees set forth, that a body having life and motion should be indeed under the shapes of bread and wine."
Lin. Well, Dr. Ridley, thus you wrest places to your own pleasure. I could bring many more places of the fathers for a confirmation of what I have advanced; but we came not hither to dispute with you, but only to take your answers to certain articles; and used this in the way of disputation, in which you interrupted me: wherefore I will return thither again. You must, first of all, consider that the church of Christ lieth not hid, but is a city on the mountain, and a candle in the candlestick. The church of Christ is catholic, and universally spread throughout the world. Wherefore, for God's love, be you not singular; acknowledge with all the realm the truth, it shall not be prejudicial to the crown; for their majesties the king and queen have renounced that usurped power taken of their predecessors, and justly have renounced it. I am sure you know there are two powers, the one declared by the sword, the other by the keys. The sword is given to kings and rulers of countries; the keys were delivered by Christ to Peter, and of him left to all the successors.
Consider your state, remember your former degrees, spare your body; especially consider your soul, which Christ so dearly bought with his precious blood. Do not rashly cast away that which was precious in God's sight; enforce us not to do all that we may do, which is not only to publish you to be none of us, but to cut you off from the church. We do not, nor can we condemn you to die, (as most untruly hath been reported of us) but that is the office of the temporal judges; we only declare you to be not of the church, and then you must, according to the tenor of them, and pleasure of the rulers, abide their determination, so that we, after we have given you up to the temporal rulers, have no further to do with you. But I cannot help to hope and trust, Dr. Ridley, we shall not have occasion to do what we may. I trust you will suffer us to rest in that point of our commission, which we most heartily desire, that is, upon recantation and repentance to receive, to reconcile you, and again to join you to the unity of the church.
Rod. My lord, I acknowledge an unspotted church of Christ, in which no man can err, without which no man can be saved, which is the congregation of the faithful; neither do I bind the same to any one place as you said, but confess the same to be universal; and where Christ's sacraments are duly administered, his gospel truly preached and followed there doth Christ's church shine as a city upon a hill, and as a candle in the candlestick: but rather it is such as you that would have the church of Christ bound to a place, who appoint the same to Rome, that there and no where else is the foundation of Christ's church. But I am fully persuaded that Christ's church is every where founded, in every place where his gospel is truly received, and effectually followed. And in that the church of God is in doubt, I use herein the counsel of Vincentius Lyrinensis, whom I am sure you will allow, who giving precepts how the catholic church may be in all schisms and heresies knows, writeth it this manner, "When one part is corrupted with heresies, then prefer the whole world before that one part; but if the greatest part be infected, then prefer antiquity." In like manner now, when I perceive the greatest part of christianity to be infected with the poison of the see of Rome, I repair to the usage of the primitive church, which I find quite contrary to the pope's decrees: as in that the priest receiveth alone, that it is made unlawful to the laity to receive in both kinds, and such like: wherefore it requireth, that I prefer the antiquity of the primitive church before the novelty of the Romish.
Lin. Dr. Ridley, these faults which you charge the see of Rome withal, are indeed no faults. For first, it was never forbid the laity, but that they might, if they demanded, receive under both kinds. You know also, that Christ after his resurrection, at the time he went with his apostles to Galilee, opened himself by breaking of bread.--So that the church seemeth to have authority by the Holy Ghost, whom Christ said he would send after his ascension, which should teach the apostles all truth, to have power to alter such points of the scriptures, ever reserving the foundation. But we came not, as I said before, to reason the matter with you, but we have certain instructions ministered unto us, according to which we must proceed, proposing certain articles, unto which we require your answer directly, either denying or grating them, without further disputations, which articles you shall hear now; and tomorrow we will require and take your answers, and then according to the same proceed. If you require a copy of them, you shall have it, pen, ink, and paper; also such books as you shall demand, if they be to be gotten.
The articles referred to were then jointly and severally ministered to Dr. Ridley and master Latimer, by the pope's deputy: they were these--"In the name of God, Amen. We John Lincoln, James Gloucester, and John Bristol, bishop: (1.) We do object to thee, Nicholas Ridley, and to thee, Hugh Latimer, jointly and severally; first, that thou Nicholas Ridley, in this high university of Oxford, anno 1554, in the months of April, May, June, and July, or in some one or more of them, hast affirmed and openly defended and maintained, and in many other times and places besides, that the true and natural body of Christ, after the consecration of the priest, is not really present in the sacrament of the altar. (2.) That in the said year and months aforesaid, thou hast publicly affirmed and defended, that in the sacrament of the altar remaineth still the substance of bread and wine. (3.) That in the said year and months thou hast openly affirmed and obstinately maintained, that in the mass is no propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead. (4.) That in the year, place, and months aforesaid, these thy foresaid assertions solemnly have been condemned by the scholastical censure of this school, as heretical and contrary to the catholic faith, by the worshipful Dr. Weston, prolocutor then of the convocation-house, as also by other learned men of both the universities. (5.) That all and singular the premises be true, notorious, famous, and openly known by public fame, as well to them near hand, as also to them far off."
All these articles I though good here to place together, that, as often as hereafter rehearsal shall be of any of them, the reader may have recourse hither, and so not trouble the story with several repetitions thereof. After these articles were read, the bishops took counsel together. At the last the bishop of Lincoln said, "These are the very same articles which you, in open disputation here in the university, did maintain and defend. What say you unto the first? I pray you answer affirmatively, or negatively."
Rid. Why, my lord, I supposed that you would have given me until to-morrow, that upon good advice I might bring a determinate answer.
Lin. Yea, master Ridley, I mean not that your answers now shall be prejudicial to your answers to-morrow. I will take your answers at this time, and yet notwithstanding it shall be lawful for you to add, diminish, alter, and change these answers to-morrow what you will.
Rid. Seeing you appoint me a time to answer to-morrow, and yet would take mine answers out of hand, I require the notaries to take and write my protestation, that in no point I acknowledge your authority, or admit you to be my judges, in that point that you are authorized from the pope. Therefore, whatsoever I shall say or do, I protest I neither say nor do it willingly, thereby to admit the authority of the pope: and if your lordship will give me leave, I will show the cause which move me thereunto.
Lin. No, we have instructions to the contrary. We may not suffer you.
Rid. I will be short: I pray you suffer me to speak but three words.
Lin. To-morrow you shall speak forty. The time is far past; therefore we require your answer determinately. What say you to the first article?
Rid. I answer, that in the sacrament is the very true and natural body and blood of Christ even that which was born of the Virgin Mary, which ascended into heaven, which sitteth on the right hand of God the Father, which shall come from thence to judge the quick and the dead, only we differ in modo, in the way and manner of being: we confess all one thing to be in the sacrament, and dissent in the manner of being there. I, being fully by God's word persuaded, confess Christ's natural body to be in the sacrament indeed by spirit and grace, because that whosoever receiveth worthily that bread and wine, receiveth effectuously Christ's body, and drinketh his blood, (that is, he is made effectually partaker of his passion;) and you make a grosser kind of being, enclosing a natural, a lively, and a moving body, under the shape or form of bread and wine. Now, this difference considered, to the question thus I answer, that in the sacrament of the altar is the natural body and blood of Christ vere et realiter, indeed and really, for spiritually, by grace and efficacy; for so every worthy receiver receiveth the very true body of Christ. but, if you mean really and indeed, so as to include a lively and a movable body under the forms of bread and wine, then, in that sense, is not Christ's body in the sacrament.
This answer taken, the bishop of Lincoln proposed the second article.
Rid. In the sacrament is a certain change, in that, that bread, which was before common bread, is now made a lively presentation of Christ's body. Notwithstanding this sacramental mutation, the true substance and nature of bread and wine remaineth: with the which the body is in like sort nourished, as the soul is by grace and Spirit with the body of Christ.
Then the notaries penned that he answered affirmatively to the second article; and the bishop recited the third, and required a direct answer.
Rid. Christ, as St. Paul writeth, made one perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, neither can any man reiterate that sacrifice of his, and yet is the communion and acceptable sacrifice to God of praise and thanksgiving. But to say that thereby sins are taken away (which wholly and perfectly was done by Christ's passion, of the which the communion is only a memory) that is a great derogation of the merits of Christ's passion; for the sacrament was instituted, that we, receiving it, and thereby recognising and remembering his passion, should be partakers of the merits of the same. For otherwise doth this sacrament take upon it the office of Christ's passion, whereby it might follow that Christ died in vain.
The notaries penned this his answer to be affirmatively. And then the bishop of Lincoln recited the forth article; to the which Ridley answered, that in some part it was true, and in some part false: true, in that those his assertions were condemned as heresies, although unjustly: false, in that it was said they were condemned sicentia scholastica, in that the disputations were in such sort ordered, that it was far from any school act. This answer penned of the notaries, the bishop of Lincoln rehearsed the fifth article. To the which Ridley answered, that the premises were in such sort true, as in these his answers he had declared. Whether that all men spake evil of them he knew not, in that he came not much abroad. This answer also written, the bishop said: "To-morrow you shall appear before us in St. Mary's church; and because we cannot well agree upon your answer to the first article, you may, if it please you, write your answer."
Now master Latimer, being also brought to the divinity school, there tarried till they called him; and after that Ridley was committed to the mayor, the bishop of Lincoln commanded the bailiffs to bring him in, who eftsoons as he was placed said to the lords: "My lords, if I appear again, I pray you not to send for me until you be ready: for I am an old man, and it is great hurt to mine old age to tarry so long gazing upon the cold walls." Then said the bishop of Lincoln, "Master Latimer, I am sorry you are brought so soon, although it is the bailiff's fault, and not mine: but it shall be amended." Then Latimer bowed his knee down to the ground, holding his hat in his hand, having a kerchief on his head, and upon it a night-cap or two, and a great cap, (such as townsmen use, with two broad flaps to button under the chin,) wearing an old threadbare Bristol frieze-gown girded to his body with a penny leather girdle, at the which hanged by a string of leather his Testament, and his spectacles without case, depending about his neck upon his breast. After this the bishop of Lincoln began a long oration, in the which, as he has by Dr. Ridley, he declared their commission, charged him which his errors; spake of the unity and infallibility of their church, entreated him back to the same, and if stubbornly perverse, threatened him with the consequences. After the bishop had somewhat paused, Latimer lifted up his head, (for before he leaned on his elbow;) and asking whether his lordship had done, said, "Then will you give me leave to speak a word or two?"
Lin. Yea, so you use a modest kind of talk, without railing or taunts.
Lat. I beseech your lordship, license me to sit down.
Lin. At your pleasure, Mr. Latimer, take as much ease as you will.
Lat. Your lordship gently exhorted me in many words to come to the unity of the church. I confess, my lord, a catholic church, spread throughout all the world, in which on man may err, without which unity of the church no man can be saved; but I know perfectly by God's word, that this church is in all the world, and hath not its foundation in Rome only, as you say; and me thought your lordship brought a piace out of the scriptures to confirm the same, that there was a jurisdiction given to Peter, in that Christ bade him govern his people. Indeed, my lord, St. Peter did his office well and truly, in that he was bid to govern; but since, the bishops of Rome have taken a new kind of government. Indeed they ought to govern, but how, my lord? not as they will themselves; but this government must be hedged and ditched in. They must rule, only according to the word of God. But the bishops of Rome have turned the rule according to the word of God into the rule according to their own pleasures, and as it pleaseth them best; as there is a book set forth which hath divers points in it, and, amongst others, this point is one, which your lordship went about to prove; and the argument which he bringeth forth for the proof of that matter is taken out of Deuteronomy, where it is said, "If there ariseth any controversy among the people, the priests of the order of Levi shall decide the matter according to the law of God, so it must be taken." This book, perceiving this authority to be given to the priests of the old law, taketh occasion to prove the same to be given to the bishops and others the clergy of the new law: but, in proving this matter, whereas it was said there, as the priests of the order of Levi should determine the matter "according to God's law," that "according to God's law" is left out, and only is recited, as the priests of the order of Levi shall decide the matter so it ought to be taken of the people; a large authority I assure you. what gelding of Scripture is this? what clipping of God's coin? This is much like the "ruling" which your lordship talked of. Nay, nay, my lords, we may not give such authority to the clergy, to rule all things as they will. Let them keep themselves within their commission. I trust, my lord, I do not rail yet.
Lin. No, master Latimer, your talk is more like taunting than railing; but in that I have not read nor know the book, I can say nothing therein.
Lat. The book is open to be read, my lord; it is by one who is bishop of Gloucester, whom I never knew, neither did see to my knowledge.
With that the people laughed, because the bishop of Gloucester sat there in commission. Then the bishop stood up, and said it was his book.
Lat. Was it yours, my lord? Indeed I knew not your lordship, neither ever did I see you before, nor yet now, through the brightness of the sun shining betwixt you and me. (Then the audience laughed again.) Why, my masters, this is no laughing matter: I answer upon life and death.
The bishop of Lincoln commanded silence, and then said, "Master Latimer, if you had kept yourself within your bounds, if you had not used such scoffs and taunts, this had not been done." After this Gloucester said, in excusing this book, "Hereby every man may see what learning you have."
Lat. Lo, you look for learning at my hands who have gone so long to the school of oblivion, making the bare walls my library, keeping me so long in prison without book, or pen and ink; and now you let me loose to come and answer to articles. You deal with me as though two were appointed to fight for life and death, and over night the one through friends and favour, is cherished, and hath good counsel given him how to encounter with his enemy. The other, for envy or lack of friends, all the whole night is set in the stocks. In the morning when they shall meet, the one is in strength and lusty; the other is stiff in his limbs, and almost dead for feebleness. Think you, that to run through this man with a spear is not a goodly victory? Glou. I went not about to recite any places of scripture in that place of my book; for then if I had not recited faithfully, you might have had just occasion of reprehension: but I only in that place formed an argument a majore, in this sense; that if in the old law the priests had power to decide matters of controversy, much more then ought the authority to be given to the clergy in the new law: and I pray you, in this point what availeth their rehearsal, according to the law of God?
Lat. Yes, my lord, very much. For I acknowledge authority to be given to the spiritualty to decide matters of religion; and as my lord said even now, to rule; but they must do it according to the word and law of God, and not after their own wills, imaginations, and fantasies.
Then Lincoln said they came not to dispute, but to take his answers; and so began to propose to master Latimer the same articles as proposed to Ridley, requiring his answer to the first. Then Latimer, making his protestation that notwithstanding his answers it should not be taken that thereby he would acknowledge any authority of the bishop of Rome, saying that he was their majesties' subject, and not the pope's, neither could serve two masters at one time; required the notaries to take his protestation, that whatsoever he should say or do, it should not be taken as though he did thereby agree to any authority that came from the bishop of Rome.
Lin. Your protestation shall be so taken; and I require you to answer briefly, affirmatively or negatively, to the first article.
Lat. I do not deny, my lord, that in the sacrament by spirit and grace is the very body and blood of Christ; because that every man by receiving bodily that bread and wine, spiritually receiveth the body and blood of Christ, and is made partaker thereby of the merits of Christ's passion: but I deny that the body and blood of Christ is in such manner in the sacrament as you would have it.
Lin. Then you answer affirmatively; and what say you, Mr. Latimer to the second article?
Lat. There is, my lord, a change in the bread and wine, and such a change as no power, but the omnipotency of God can make, in that that which before was bread, should now have the dignity to exhibit Christ's body; and yet the bread is still bread, and the wine still wine; for the change is not in the nature, but the dignity, because now that which was common bread hath the dignity to exhibit Christ's body: for whereas it was common bread, it is now no more common bread, neither ought it to be so taken, but as holy bread sanctified by God's word.
Lin. Lo, Mr. Latimer, see what steadfastness is in your doctrine. That which you abhorred and despised most, you now most establish: for whereas you most railed at holy bread, you now made your communion holy bread. Is not this your answer, that the substance of bread and wine remaineth after the words of consecration?
Lat. Yes, verily, it must needs be so. For Christ himself calleth it bread; St. Paul calleth it bread; the doctors confess the same; the nature of a sacrament confirmeth the same; and I call it holy bread: not in that I make no difference between your holy bread and this, but for the holy office which it beareth, that is, to be a figure of Christ's body, and not only a bare figure but effectually to represent the same.
Lin. What say you to the third question?
Lat. Christ made one perfect sacrifice for all the whole world, neither can any man offer him again, neither can the priest offer up Christ again for the sins of man, which he took away by offering himself once for all upon the cross: neither is there any propitiation for our sins saving his cross only.
Lin. What say you to the fourth? Do you not hear me?
Lat. Yes, but I do not understand what you mean thereby.
Lin. Marry, only this, that these your assertions were condemned by Dr. Weston as heresies; is it not so, master Latimer?
Lat. Yes, I think they were condemned. But how unjustly, he that shall be Judge of all knoweth.
So the notaries took his answer to this article to be affirmatively, as they did also to the other three before recited.
Lin. What say you, master Latimer, to the fifth article?
Lat. I know not what you mean by these terms. I am no lawyer; I wish you would propose the matter plainly.
Lin. In that we proceed according to the law, we must use their terms also. The meaning only is this, that thee your assertions are notorious, evil spoken of, and yet common and frequent in the months of the people.
Lat. I cannot tell how much, nor what men talk of them. I come not so much among them, for I have been secluded a long time. What men report of them I know not, and care not.
Lin. Mr. Latimer, we mean not that these your answers shall be prejudicial to you. To-morrow you shall appear before us again, and then it shall be lawful for you to alter and change what you will. We give you respite till then, trusting that after you have pondered well all things against that time, you will not be ashamed to confess the truth.
Lat. Now, my lord, I pray you give me license in three words to declare the causes why I refused the authority of the pope.
Lin. Nay, Mr. Latimer, to-morrow you shall have license to speak forty words.
Lt. Nay, my lords, I beseech you to do with me now as it shall please your lordships. I require no respite, for I am at a point; you shall give me respite in vain: therefore I pray you let me not trouble you to-morrow.
Lin. Yes, for we trust God will work with you against to-morrow. There is no remedy, you must needs appear again to-morrow at eight o'clock in St. Mary's church.
And forthwith the bishop charged the mayor with master Latimer, and dismissed him: he then brake up their sessions for that day, at one o'clock. The next day (the first of October) the said lords repaired to St. Mary's; and after they were set in a high throne, then appeared Ridley, who was set at a framed table a good space from the bishop's feet, and the place was encompassed about in a quadrate form, partly for gentlemen who repaired thither, and for the heads of the university to sit, and partly to keep off the press of the audience: for the whole body, as well of the university as of the town, came to see the end of these two persons. After Dr. Ridley's appearance, and the silence of the audience, the bishop of Lincoln commenced speaking.
Lin. Mr. Ridley, yesterday we took your answers to certain articles, which we then proposed unto you: but because we could not be thoroughly satisfied with your answer then to the first article, neither could the notaries take any determinate answer of you, we granted you license to bring your answer in writing, and thereupon command the mayor that you should have pen, paper, and ink, yea, any books also that you would require, if they were to be god: we licensed you then also to alter your former answers this day at your pleasure: therefore we are now come hither, to see if you are in the same mind now, that you were yesterday, or contrary, contented to revoke your former assertions, and in all points consent to submit yourself to the determination of the universal church; and I for my part most earnestly exhort you, not because my conscience pricketh me, as you said yesterday, but because I see you a rotten member, and in the way of perdition. Now, Dr. Ridley, what say you to the first article? If you have brought your answer in writing,we will receive it: but if you have written any other matter, we will not receive it.
Then Ridley took a sheet of paper out of his bosom, and began to read that he had written: but Lincoln ordered the beadle to take it from him.
Rid. Why, my lord, will you require my answer, and not suffer me to publish it? I beseech you, let the audience bear witness in this matter.
Lin. Well, Dr. Ridley, we will first see what you have written, and then if we shall think it good to be read, you shall have it published; but, except you will deliver it first, we will take none at all from you.
With that, master Ridley, seeing no remedy, delivered it to an officer, who immediately delivered it to the bishop of Lincoln; who, after he had secretly communicated it to the other two bishops, declared the sense, but would not read it as it was written, saying, that it contained words of blasphemy; therefore he would not fill the ears of the audience therewithal, and so abuse their patience. Notwithstanding, Ridley desired very instantly to have it published; saying that, except a line or two, there was nothing contained but the ancient doctors' sayings, for the confirmation of his assertions. After the said bishops had secretly perused the whole, then the bishop of Lincoln said, "In the first part, master Ridley, is nothing contained but your protestation, that you would not have these your answers to be taken as though you seemed thereby to consent to the authority or jurisdiction of the pope's holiness."
Rid. No, my lord: pray read it out, that the audience may hear it.
This the bishop of Lincoln would in no wise grant; but recited the first article, and required Ridley's answer to it. Then Ridley said his answer was there in writing, and desired it might be published: but the bishop would not read the whole, but here and there a piece of it. And when he had read what he pleased, he recited the second article, and required an answer. Dr. Ridley again referred him to his answer in writing exhibited now, and also before at the time of disputation: and like answers were taken to all the rest of the articles. The bishop of Gloucester then addressed him thus.
"If you would once empty your stomach, captivate your senses, subdue your reason, and, together with us, consider what a feeble ground of your religion you have, I do not doubt but you might easily be brought to acknowledge one church with us, to confess one faith with us, and to believe one religion with us. For what a weak and feeble stay in religion is this, I pray you? Latimer leaneth to Cranmer, Cranmer to Ridley, and Ridley to the singularity of his own wit: so that if you overthrow the singularity of Ridley's wit, then must needs the religion of Cranmer and Latimer fall also. You remember well, Dr. Ridley, that the prophet speaketh most truly, saying--'Woe be to them which are singular and wise in their own conceits.'
"But you will say here, it is true that the prophet saith; but how know you that I am wise in mine own conceit? Yes, Dr. Ridley, you refuse the determination of the catholic church; you must needs be singular and wise in your own conceit, for you bring scripture for the proof of your assertions, and we also bring scripture: you understand them in one sense, and we in another. How will you know the truth herein? If you stand to your own interpretation, then you are singular in your own conceit: but if you say you will follow the minds of the doctors and ancient fathers, likely you understand them in one meaning, and we take them in another: how then will you know the truth herein? If you stand to your own judgment, then are you singular in your own conceit--then cannot you avoid the woe which the prophet speaketh of.
"Wherefore if you have no stay but the catholic church in matters of controversy, except you will rest upon the singularity and wisdom of your own brain,if the prophet most truly saith, 'Woe, woe be to them that are wise in their own conceit:' then for God's love, Dr. Ridley, stand not singular, be not you wise in your own conceit, please not yourself overmuch. How were the Arians, the Manichees, Eutychians, with other heretics suppressed and convinced? By reasoning and disputations? No, truly, the Arians had no more places of Scripture for confirming their heresy than the catholics for the defence of the truth. How, then, were they convinced? Only by the determination f the church. And indeed, except we do constitute the church our foundation, stay, and judge, we can have no end of controversies, no end of disputations. For in that we all bring scriptures and doctors for the proof of our assertions, who should be judge of this our controversy? If we ourselves be singular and wise in our own conceits, then cannot we avoid the woe that the prophet speaketh of."
To this oration of the bishop of Gloucester, by which he endeavoured to persuade Dr. Ridley to turn and forsake his religion, the latter answered, That he said most truly with the prophet, "Woe be to him that is wise in his own conceit:" but that he acknowledged no such singularity, nor knew any cause why he should attribute so much to himself. And whereas he said that archbishop Cranmer leaned to him, that was most untrue, in that he was but a young scholar in comparison of Dr. Cranmer; for when he was but a novice, Mr. Cranmer was then a doctor; so that he confessed he might have been his schoolmaster for many years. He would have spoke more, but the bishop of Gloucester interrupted him, saying: "Why, Dr. Ridley, it is your own confession, for Mr. Latimer, at the time of his disputation, confessed his learning to lie in Dr. Cranmer's books, and Dr. Cranmer also said that it was your doing."
The bishop of Lincoln likewise with many words, and holding his cap in his hand, desired him to turn. But Dr. Ridley made a determinate answer--That he was fully persuaded the religion which he defended was grounded upon God's word, and therefore without great offence towards God, great peril and damage of his soul, he could not forsake his God; but desired the bishop to perform his grant, in that his lordship said the day before, that he should have license to shew his cause, why he could not with a safe conscience admit the authority of the pope. But the bishop of Lincoln said, that whereas then he had demanded license to speak three words, he was contented then that he should speak forty, and that grant he would perform. Then Dr. Weston, who sat by, stepped forth and said, "Why, my lord, he hath spoken four hundred already." Dr. Ridley confessed he had, but they were not of his prescribed number, neither of that matter. The bishop of Lincoln bade him take his license: but he should speak but forty, and he would tell them upon his fingers. And so before Ridley had ended half a sentence, the doctors said that his number was out: and with that he was put to silence.
Lin. You will not suffer us to stay in that point of our commission which we most desired: for indeed (I take God to witness) I am sorry for you.
Rid. I believe it, my lord, for one day it will be burdenous to your soul.
Lin. Nay, not so, master Ridley, but because I am sorry to see such stubbornness in you, that by no means you may be persuaded to acknowledge your errors, and receive the truth. But seeing it is so, because you will not suffer us to persist in the first, we must of necessity proceed to the other part of our commission. Therefore I pray you hearken to what I say.
And forthwith he did read the sentence of condemnation, which was written in a long process. The effect of it was as this: "That forasmuch as the said Nicholas Ridley did affirm, maintain, and stubbornly defend certain opinions, assertions, and heresies, contrary to the word of God and the received faith of the church, as in denying the true and natural body of Christ, and his natural blood to be in the sacrament of the altar; secondarily, in affirming the substance of bread and wine to remain after the words of consecration; thirdly, in denying the mass to be a lively sacrifice of the church for the quick and the dead, and by no means would be induced and brought from these his heresies: they therefore (the said John of Lincoln, James of Gloucester, John of Bristol) did judge and condemn the said Nicholas Ridley as a heretic, and so adjudged him presently both by word and also in deed, to be degraded from the degree of a bishop, from priesthood, and all ecclesiastical order; declaring, moreover, the said Nicholas Ridley to be no member of the church: and therefore committed him to the secular powers, of them to receive due punishment; and further excommunication him by the great excommunication" This sentence being published by the bishop of Lincoln, Ridley was committed to the mayor, and Latimer was sent for; who so soon as he appeared laid his hat, which was an old felt, under his elbows, and spake immediately to the commissioners, saying:
Lat. My lords, I beseech you to set a better order her at your entrance: for I am an old man, and have a very evil back, so that the press of the multitude doth me much harm.
Lin. I am sorry for your hurt: at your going, we will see to better order.
With that Latimer thanked his lordship, making a very low courtesy. After this the bishop of Lincoln began on this manner:
Lin. Although yesterday, after we had taken your answers to those articles which we proposed, we might have justly proceeded to judgment against you, especially in that you required the same; yet having a good hope of your returning, desiring not your destruction, but rather that you would recant, revoke your errors, and turn to the catholic church, deferred farther process till this day; and now according to the appointment we have called you before us, to hear whether you are content to revoke your heretical assertions, and submit yourself to the determination of the church, as we most heartily desire, and for my part as I did yesterday, do most earnestly exhort you, or to know whether you persevere still the man that you were, for which we would be sorry.
On this Latimer spoke, "Your lordship doth often repeat the catholic church, as though I should deny the same. No, my lord, I confess there is a catholic church, to the determination of which I will stand; but not the church which you call catholic, which ought rather to be termed diabolic. And whereas you join together the Romish and catholic church, stay there, I pray you. For it is one thing to say the Romish church, and another thing to say catholic church. I must use here in this mine answer the counsel of Cyprian, who when cited before certain bishops, who gave him leave to take deliberation and counsel, to try and examine his opinion, answered them thus, 'In adhering to, and persevering in the truth there must no counsel or deliberation be taken.' And again, being demanded of them sitting in judgment, which was most like to be of the church of Christ, whether he who was persecuted, or they who did persecute? 'Christ,' said he, 'hath foreshewed, that he that doth follow him, must take up his cross. Christ gave knowledge that his disciples should have persecution and trouble.' How think you then, my lords, is it likely that the see of Rome, which hath been a continual persecutor, is rather the church, or that small flock which hath continually been persecuted by it, even to death? Also 'the flock of Christ hath been but few in comparison of the residue, and ever in subjection:' which he proved, beginning at Noah's time, even to the apostles."
Lin. Your cause and St. Cyprian's is clean contrary: for he suffered for Christ's sake and the gospel. You are in trouble for your errors and false assertions, contrary to God's word and the received truth of the church.
Lat. Yes verily, my cause is as good as St. Cyprian's; for his was for the word of God, and so is mine.
Lin. Also at the beginning and foundation of he church, it could not be but that the apostles should suffer great persecution. Further, before Christ's coming, continually there were few which truly served God; but after his coming began the time of grace. Then began the church to increase, and was continually augmented, until it came unto this perfection, and now hath justly that jurisdiction which the unchristian princes before by tyranny did resist: there is a diverse consideration of the state of the church now in the time of grace, and before Christ's coming. But. Mr. Latimer, although we had instructions given us determinately to take your answer to such articles as we should propose, without any reasoning or disputations, yet we hoping by talk somewhat to prevail with you, appointed you to appear before us in the divinity-school, a place for disputations. And whereas then notwithstanding you had license to speak your mind, and were answered to every matter, yet you could not be brought from your errors; we thinking that from that time you would with good conversation ponder your state, gave you a respite until this time, and now have called you again in this place, by your answers to learn whether you are the same man as before? Therefore we ill propose unto you the same articles which we did then, and require of you a determinate answer, without further reasoning.
Lat. Always my protestation saved that, by these mine answers it should not be thought that I did condescend and agree to your lordships' authority, in that you are legaced by the pope, so that thereby I might seem to consent to his jurisdiction: To the first article I answer as I did yesterday, that in the sacrament the worthy receive the very body of Christ, and drink his blood by the Spirit and grace. But after a corporeal being, which the Romish church prescribeth, Christ's body and blood is not in the sacrament under the forms of bread and wine.
The notaries took his answer to be affirmatively. For the second article he referred himself to his answers made before. After this the bishop of Lincoln recited the third article, and required a determinate answer.
Lat. Christ made one oblation and sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and that a perfect sacrifice; neither needeth there to be any other, nor can there be any other, propitiatory sacrifice.
The notaries took his answer to be affirmatively. In like manner did he answer to the other articles, not varying from his answers made the day before. After his answers were penned of the notaries, and the bishop of Lincoln had exhorted him in like sort to recant, as he did master Ridley, and revoke his errors and false assertions, and Latimer had answered that he neither could nor would deny his master Christ and his verity, the bishop of Lincoln desired him to hearken to him: and then master Latimer, hearkening for some new matter and other talk, the bishop of Lincoln read his condemnation; after the publication of which the said three bishops brake up there sessions, and dismissed the audience. Latimer required the bishop of Lincoln to perform his promise in saying, the day before, that he should have license briefly to declare the cause why he refused the pope's authority. But he bishop said that now he could not hear him, neither ought to talk with him. Then Latimer asked him, whether it were not lawful for him to appeal from this his judgment. And the bishop asked him again to whom he would appeal. "To the next general council," quoth Latimer, "which shall be truly called in God's name." With that appellation the bishop was content; but he said it would be a long season before such a convocation as he meant would be called. Then the bishop committed master Latimer to the mayor, saying, "Now he is your prisoner, master mayor." And because the press of the people was not yet diminished, each man looking for further process, the bishop of Lincoln commanded avoidance, and desired Latimer to tarry till the press were diminished, lest he should take hurt at his egression as he did at his entrance. And so continued bishop Ridley and master Latimer in durance till the 16th day of the said month of October.
In the mean season upon the 15th day of the same month in the morning, Dr. Brooks, bishop of Gloucester, and the vice-chancellor of Oxford, Dr. Marshal, with divers others of the chief and heads of the same university, and many others accompanying them, came unto master Irish's house, then mayor of Oxford, where Dr. Ridley, late bishop of London, was close prisoner. And when the bishop of Gloucester came into the chamber where the said Dr. Ridley did lie, he told him for what purpose their coming was unto him, saying, that ye once again the queen's majesty did offer unto him, by them, her gracious mercy, if that he would receive the same, and come home again to the faith which he was baptized in, and revoke his erroneous doctrine that he of late had taught abroad to the destruction of many. And further said, that if he would not recant, and become one of the catholic church with them, then they must needs (against their wills) proceed according to the law, which they would be very loth to do, if they might otherwise. "But," saith he, "we have been oftentimes with you, and have requested that you would recant this your fantastical and devilish opinion, which hitherto you have not, although you might in so doing win many, and do much good. Therefore, good master Ridley, consider with yourself the danger that shall ensue both of body and soul, if you so wilfully cast yourself away in refusing mercy offered unto you at this time." "My lord," quoth Dr. Ridley, "you know my mind fully herein; and as for the doctrine which I have taught, my conscience assureth me that it was sound, and according to God's word, (to his glory be it spoken;) the which doctrine, the Lord God being my helper, I will maintain so long as my tongue shall wag, and breath is within my body, and in confirmation thereof seal the same with my blood."
Brooks. Well, you were best, master Ridley, not to do so, but to become one of the church with us: for you know this well enough, that whosoever is out of the catholic church cannot be saved. Therefore I say once again, that while you have time and mercy offered you, receive it and confess with us the pope's holiness to be the chief head of the same church.
Ridley. I marvel that you will trouble me with any such vain and foolish talk. You know my mind concerning the usurped authority of that Romish antichrist. As I confessed openly in the schools, so do I now, that both by my behaviour and talk I do no obedience at all unto the bishop of Rome, nor to his usurped authority, and that for good and godly considerations.
And here Dr. Ridley would have reasoned with the said Brooks of the bishop of Rome's authority, but could not be suffered; and yet he spake so earnestly against the pope therein, that the bishop told him if he would not hold his peace he should be compelled against his will. "And seeing," saith he, "that you will not receive the queen's mercy, now offered unto you, but stubbornly refuse the same, we must, against our wills, proceed according to our commission to degrading, taking from you the dignity of priesthood. For we take you for no bishop, and therefore we will the sooner have done with you. So, committing you to the secular power, you know what doth follow."
Ridley. Do with me as it shall please God to suffer you, I am well content to abide the same with all my heart.
Brooks. Put off your cap, master Ridley, and put on this surplice.
Ridley. Not I, truly.
Brooks. But you must. Ridley. I will not.
Brooks. You must make no more ado, but put this surplice upon you.
Ridley. Truly if it come upon me, it shall be against my will.
Brooks. Will you not do it upon you?
Ridley. No, that I will not.
Brooks. It shall be put upon you by one or other.
Ridley. Do therein as it shall please you, I am well contented with that, and more than that: "the servant is not above his Master." If they dealt so cruelly with our Saviour Christ, as the Scripture saith, and he suffered the same patiently, how much more doth it become us his servants!
And in saying of these words, they put upon the said Dr. Ridley the surplice, with all the trinkets appertaining to the mass. And as they were putting on the same, Dr. Ridley did vehemently inveigh against the Romish bishop, and all that foolish apparel, calling him antichrist, and the apparel foolish and abominable, yea, too fond for a vice in a play, insomuch that bishop Brooks was exceeding angry, and said, "Well, you were best to hold your peace, lest your mouth be stopped. At which words one Edridge, the reader then of the Greek lecture, standing by, said to Dr. Brooks, "Sir, the law is he should be gagged; therefore let him by gagged." At which words Dr. Ridley, looking earnestly upon him that so said, shook his head at him, but made no answer. When they came to that place where Dr. Ridley should hold the chalice and the wafer-cake, called the singing-bread, they bade him hold the same in his hands. And Dr. Ridley said, "They shall not come in my hands; for, if they do, they shall fall to the ground for all me." Then there was one appointed to hold them in his hand, while bishop Brooks read a certain thing in Latin, touching the degradation of spiritual persons according to the pope's law.
Afterward they put a book in his hand, and withal read another thing in Latin, the effect whereof was: "We do take from you the office of preaching the gospel," ect. At which words Dr. Ridley gave a great sigh, looking up towards heaven, saying--"O Lord God, forgive them this their wickedness!"
When all this their abominable and ridiculous degradation was ended very solemnly, Dr. Ridley said unto Dr. Brooks, "Have you done? If you have done, then give me leave to talk with you a little concerning these matters." Brooks answered, "Master Ridley, we may not talk with you; you be out of church; and our law is, that we may not talk with any that be out of the church." Then master Ridley said--"Seeing that you will not suffer me to talk, neither will vouchsafe to hear me, what remedy but patience? I refer my cause to my heavenly Father, who will reform things that be amiss, when it shall please him." At which words they would have been gone, but Ridley said, "My lord, I would wish that you would vouchsafe to read over and peruse a little book of Bertram's doings, concerning the sacrament. I promise you, you shall find much good learning therein, if you will read the same with an indifferent judgment." Dr. Brooks made no answer, but was going away. Then said Dr. Ridley, "Oh, I perceive that you cannot away with this manner of talk. Well! in boots not, I will say no more, I will speak of worldly affairs. I pray you therefore, my lord, hear me, and be a mean to the queen's majesty, in the behalf of a great many poor men, and especially for my poor sister and her husband which standeth there. They had a poor living granted unto them by me, whiles I was in the se of London, and the same is taken away from them by him that now occupieth the same room, without all law or conscience. Here I have a supplication to her majesty in their behalfs. You shall hear the same read,.so shall you perceive the matter the better." Then he read the same; and when he came to the place in the supplication that touched his sister by name, then he wept; so that for a little space he could not speak for weeping. After that he had left off weeping, he said, "This is nature that moveth me, but I have now done;" and with that read out the rest and delivered the same to his brother, commanding him to put it up to the queen's majesty, and to sue, not only for himself, but also for such as had any leases or grants by him, and were put from the same by Dr. Bonner, then bishop of London. Whereunto Brooks said, "Indeed, master Ridley, your request in this supplication is very lawful and honest: therefore I must needs in conscience speak to the queen's majesty for them."
Ridley. I pray you, for God's sake, do so.
Brooks. I think your request will be granted, except one thing let it, and that is, I fear, because you do not allow the queen's proceedings, but obstinately withstand the same, that it will hardly be granted.
Ridley. What remedy? I can do no more but speak and write. I trust I have discharged my conscience therein; and God's will be done.
Brooks. I will do what lieth in me.
This degradation being past, and all things finished, Dr. Brooks called the bailiffs, delivering to them master Ridley with this charge, to keep him safely from any man speaking with him,a nd that he should be brought to the place of execution when they were commanded. Then Ridley, in praising God, burst out with these words, "God, I thank thee, and to thy praise be it spoken, there is none of you all able to lay to my charge any open or notorious crime: for if you could, it should surely be laid in my lap, I see very well." Whereunto Brooks said, he played the part of a proud Pharisee, exalting and praising himself. But master Ridley said, "No, no, no; as I have said before, to God's glory be it spoken. I confess myself to be a miserable wretched sinner, and have great need of God's help and mercy, and do daily call and cry for the same: therefore, I pray you, have no such opinion of me." Then they departed; and in going away, a certain warden of a college, of whose name I am not very sure, bade Dr. Ridley repent him,a nd forsake that erroneous opinion. Whereunto Ridley said, "Sir, repent you, for you are out of the truth. And I pray God (if it be his blessed will) have mercy upon you, and grand you the understanding of his word." Then the warden, being in a passion thereat, said, "I trust that I shall never be of your devilish opinion, either yet to be in that place whither you shall go: thou art the most obstinate and wilful man that I ever heard talk since I was born."
On the night before he suffered, his beard was washed and his legs; and as he sat at supper, at the house of Mr. Irish, his keeper, he invited his hostess, and the rest at the table, to his marriage: for, said he, tomorrow I must be married, and so shewed himself to be as merry as ever he had been before. And wishing his sister at his marriage, he asked his brother sitting at he table, whether she could find in her heart to be there or no. He answered, "Yea, with all her heart." At which word, he said he was glad to hear of her so much therein. At this talk Mrs. Irish wept. But Dr. Ridley comforted her, saying, "O Mrs. Irish, you love me not, I see well enough; for in that you weep, it doth appear you will not be at my marriage, neither are content therewith. Indeed you are not so much my friend as I thought you had been. But quiet yourself, though my breakfast shall be somewhat sharp and painful, yet I am sure my supper will be more pleasant and sweet."
When they arose from the table, his brother offered to stay all night with him. But he said, "No, no, that you shall not. For I intend, God willing, to go to bed, and to sleep as quietly to night as ever I did." On this his brother departed, exhorting him to be of good cheer, and to take his cross quietly, for his reward was great in heaven.
Upon the north side of the town, in the ditch over against Ballio college, the place of execution was appointed: and for fear of any tumult that might arise, to let the burning of them, the lord Williams was commanded, by the queen's letters,a nd the householders of the city, to be there assistant, sufficiently appointed. And when everything was in readiness, the prisoners were brought forth by the mayor and bailiffs. Master Ridley had a fair black gown furred, and faced with foins, such as he was wont to wear, being bishop, and a tippet of velvet furred likewise about his neck, a velvet night-cap upon his head, and a corner cap upon the same, going in a pair of slippers to the stake, and going between the mayor and an alderman, ect. After him came master Latimer, in a poor Bristol frieze frock all worn, with his buttoned cap, and a kerchief on his head, all ready to the fire, a new long shroud hanging over his hose down to the feet: which at the first sight stirred men's hearts to rue upon them, beholding on the one side the honour they sometime had, and on the other the calamity whereunto they were fallen.
Dr. Ridley, as he passed toward Bocardo, looked up where Dr. Cranmer did lie, hoping to have seen him at the glass-window, and to have spoken to him. But then Cranmer was busy with friar Soto and his fellows, disputing together, so that he could not see him, through that occasion. Then Ridley looking back, espied master Latimer coming after, unto whom he said, "Oh, be ye there?" "Yea," said Latimer, "have after as fast as I can follow. So he, following a pretty way off, at length they came both to the stake, the one after the other where first Dr. Ridley entering the place, marvellous earnestly holding up both his hands, looked towards heaven. Then shortly after espying Latimer, with a wonderous cheerful look he ran to him, embraced, and kissed him; and, as they that stood near reported, comforted him, saying, "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it."
With that went he to the stake, kneeled down by it, kissed it, and effectually prayed; and behind him master Latimer kneeled, as earnestly calling upon God as he. After they arose, the one talked with the other a little while, till they which were appointed to see the execution removed themselves out of the sun. What they said I can learn of no man.
Then Dr. Smith (of whose recantation in king Edward's time ye have heard) began his sermon to them upon this text of St. Paul, in 1 Cor. xiii., "If I yield my body to the fire to be burned, and have not charity, I shall gain nothing thereby." Wherein he alleged, that the goodness of the cause, and not the order of death, maketh the holiness of the person: which he confirmed by the examples of Judas, and of a woman in Oxford who of late hanged herself, for that they and such like as he recited, might then be adjudged righteous, which desperately separated their lives from their bodies, as he feared that those men that stood before him would do. But he cried still tot he people to beware of them, for they were heretics and died out of the church. He ended with a very short exhortation to them to recant and come home again to the church, and save their lives and souls, which else were condemned. His sermon scarcely lasted a quarter of an hour.
Dr. Ridley said to master Latimer, "Will you begin to answer the sermon, or shall I?" Latimer said, "Begin you firs, I pray you," "I will," said Ridley. Then, the wicked sermon being ended, they both kneeled down upon their knees towards my lord Williams of Thame, the vicechancellor of Oxford, and divers other commissioners appointed for that purpose, who sat upon a form thereby, unto whom master Ridley said, "I beseech you, my lord, even for Christ's sake, that I may speak but two or three words." And whilst my lord bent his head to the mayor and vice-chancellor, to know (as it appeared) whether he might give him leave to speak, the bailiffs and Dr. Marshal, vice-chancellor, ran hastily unto him, and with their hands stopped his mouth, and said, "Master Ridley, if you will revoke your erroneous opinions, and recant the same, you shall not only have liberty so to do, but also the benefit of a subject; that is, have your life." "Not otherwise?" asked Ridley. "No," quoth Dr. Marshal. "Therefore if you will not so do, then there is no remedy but you must suffer for your deserts." "Well," quoth Ridley, "so long as the breath is in my body, I will never deny my Lord Christ, and his known truth. God's will be done in me!" And with that he rose up, and said with a loud voice, "Well, then, I commit our cause to Almighty God which shall differently judge all." To whose saying master Latimer added his old posy--"Well! there is nothing hid but it shall be opened." And he said he could answer Smith well enough, if he might be suffered.
Incontinently they were commanded to make them ready, which they with all meekness obeyed. Dr. Ridley took his gown and his tippet, and gave to his brother-in-law, master Shipside, who all his time of imprisonment, although he might not be suffered to come to him, lay there at his own charges to provide him necessaries, which from time to time he sent him by the serjeant that kept him. Some other of his apparel he also gave away; other the bailiffs took. He gave away besides, divers other small things to gentlemen standing by, and divers of them pitifully weeping, as to sir Henry Lee he gave a new groat; and to divers of my lord Williams's gentlemen, some napkins, some nutmegs, and rases of ginger; his dial, and such other things as he had about him, to every one that stood next him. Some plucked the points off his hose, and happy was he who could get the least trifle of him.
Master Latimer gave nothing, but very quietly suffered his keeper to pull off his hose, and his other array, which was very simple; and being stripped to his shroud, he seemed as comely a person to them that were there present as one could well see. Then master Ridley, standing as yet in his truss, said to his brother, "It were best for me to go in my truss still." "No," quoth his brother, "it will put you to more pain: and the truss will do a poor man good." Whereunto Ridley said, "Be it, in the name of God:" and so unlaced himself. Then, being in his shirt, he stood upon the foresaid stone, and held up his hand and said, "O heavenly Father, I give unto thee most hearty thanks, for that thou hast called me to be a professor of thee, even unto death. I beseech thee, Lord God, take mercy upon this realm of England, and deliver the same from all her enemies." Then the smith took a chain of iron, and brought the same about both their middles: and as he was knocking in a staple, Dr. Ridley took the chain in his hand, and shaked the same, for it did gird in his belly, and looking aside to the smith said, "Good fellow, knock it in hard, for the flesh will have its course." Then the smith's brother did bring him a bag of gunpowder, and would have tied the same about his neck. Dr. Ridley asked what it was; and on being told it was gunpowder, he said, "I will take it to be sent of God. And have you any for my brother?" meaning Latimer. "Yea, sir, that I have," said the man. "Ten give it unto him betime," said Ridley, "lest ye come too late." So the man carried of the same gunpowder unto master Latimer.
In the mean time Dr. Ridley spake unto my lord Williams, and said, "My lord, I must be a suitor unto your lordship in the behalf of divers poor men, and specially in the cause of my poor sister: I have made a supplication to the queen in their behalfs. I beseech your lordship, for Christ's sake, to be a mean to her grace for them. My brother here hath the supplication, and will resort to your lordship to certify you hereof. There is nothing in all the world troubleth my conscience, I praise God, this only excepted. Whilst I was in the see of London, divers poor men took leases of me, and agreed with me for the same. Now I hear that the bishop who occupieth the same room will not allow my grants unto them made: but, contrary to all law and conscience, hath taken from them their livings, and will not suffer them to enjoy the same. I beseech you, my lord, be a mean for them: you shall do a good deed,a nd God will reward you."
Then they brought a lighted fagot, and laid the same down at Ridley's feet; upon which Latimer said, "Be of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." And so the fire being given unto them, when Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried with a wonderful loud voice, "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum? Domine recipe spiritum meum." And after repeated this latter part often in English, "Lord, Lord, receive my spirit!" Master Latimer cried as vehemently, on the other side, "O Father of heaven, receive my soul!" who received the flame as it were embracing it. After that he had stroked his face with his hands, and as it were bathed them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeareth) with very little pain or none. And thus much concerning the end of this old and blessed servant of God, master Latimer, for whose laborious travails, fruitful life, and constant death, the whole realm hath cause to give great thanks to Almighty God.
But Dr. Ridley, by reason of the evil making of the fire unto him, because the fagots were laid about the gorse, and overhigh built, the fire burned first beneath, being kept down by the wood: which when he felt he desired them, for Christ's sake, to let the fire come unto him. Which when his brother-in-law heard, but not well understood, intending to rid him out of his pain, (for the which cause he gave attendance,) as one in such sorrow not well advised what he did, heaped fagots upon him, so that he clean covered him, which made the fire more vehement beneath, that it burned all his nether parts before it once touched the upper; and that made him leap up and down under the fagots, and often desire them to let the fire come to him, saying, "I cannot burn." Which indeed appeared well: for, after his legs were consumed by reason of his struggling through the pain, (whereof he had no release, but only his contentation in God,) he showed that side towards us clean, shirt and all untouched with flame. Yet in all this torment he forgot not to call upon God, still having his mouth. "Lord have mercy upon me," intermingling he cry, "let the fire come unto me, I cannot burn!" In which pangs he laboured till one of the standers by with his bill pulled the fagots off above; and where he saw the fire flame up, he wrestled himself unto that side. And when the flame touched the gunpowder, he was seen to stir no more, but burned on the other side, falling down at master Latimer's feet. In beholding of which horrible sight hundreds were moved to tears, and signs of sorrow there were on every side.
Some took it grievously to see their deaths, whose lives they held full dear. Some pitied their persons, who thought their souls had no need thereof. But the sorrow of his brother moved many men, whose attempt to put a speedy end to his sufferings had so miserably prolonged them. But whoso considered their preferments in time past, the places of honour that they some time occupied in this commonwealth, the favour they were in with their princes, and the opinion of learning they had in the university where they studied, could not choose but sorrow with tears, to see so great dignity, honour, and estimation, so necessary members sometimes accounted, so many godly virtues, the study of so many years, such excellent learning, to be put into the fire, and consumed in one moment. Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world they have already. What reward remaineth for them in heaven, the day of the Lord's glory, when he cometh with his saints, shall shortly, I trust, declare.
Albeit the same Nicholas Ridley (a man so reverenced for his learning and knowledge in the Scriptures that even his very enemies report well of him) wrote divers treatises, letters, and exhortations, containing fruitful admonition and wholesome doctrines, much of which we here pass over for want of space; as long farewell to all his true and faithful friends in God, concluding with a sharp reproof unto the papists, and specially to the higher house of Parliament, of which he says, "As you have banqueted and lain by the whore in the fornication of her whorish dispensations, pardons, idolatry, and such like abominations; so shall ye drink with her, except ye repent betimes, of the cup of the Lord's indignation and everlasting wrath, which is prepared for the beast, his false prophets, and all their partakers. For he that is partner with them in their plagues, and in the latter day shall be thrown with them into the burning lake. Thus fare ye well, my lords all. I pray God give you understanding of his blessed will and pleasure, and make you to believe and embrace the truth. Amen."
Another farewell of Bishop Ridley to the prisoners in Christ's gospel's cause, and to all them which for the same cause are exiled and banished out from their own country, choosing rather to leave all worldly commodity than their master Christ:--
"Farewell, my dearly beloved brethren in Christ, both you my fellow-prisoners, and you also that be exiled and banished out of your country, because you will rather forsake all worldly advantages, than the gospel of Christ. Farewell all you together in Christ: for you know that the trial of your faith bringeth forth patience, and patience shall make us perfect, whole, and sound on every side, and such, after trial, ye know shall receive the crown of life, according to the promise of the Lord made to his dearly beloved; let us therefore be patient unto the coming of the Lord. As the husbandman abideth patiently the former and latter rain for the increase of his crop, so let us be patient, and pluck up our hearts, for the coming of the Lord approacheth apace. Let us, my dear brethren, take example of patience in tribulation of the prophets, who likewise spake God's word truly in his name. Let Job be to us and example of patience, and the end which the Lord suffered, which is full of mercy and pity.
"We know, my brethren, by God's word, that our faith is much more precious than any corruptible gold, and yet that is tried by the fire: even so our faith is therefore tried likewise in tribulations, that it may be found when the Lord shall appear, laudable, glorious, and honourable. For if we for Christ's cause do suffer, that is grateful before god; for thereunto are we called, that is our state and vocation, wherewith let us be content. Christ, we know, suffered for us afflictions, leaving us an example that we should follow his footsteps; for he committed no sin, neither was there any guile found in his mouth: when he was railed upon, and reviled, he railed not again: when he was evil intreated, he did not threaten, but committed the punishment thereof to him that judgeth aright.
"Let us ever have in fresh remembrance those wonderful comfortable sentences spoken by the mouth of our Saviour Christ--'Blessed are they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men revile you, persecute you, and speak evil against you for my sake: rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets that were before you.' Christ, our master, hath told us beforehand, that the brother should put the brother to death, and the father the son, and the children should rise against their parents and kill them,and that Christ's true apostles should be hated of all men for his name's sake; but he that abideth patiently unto the end shall be saved. Let us then endure in all troubles patiently, after the example of our master Christ, and be contented therewith, for he suffered, being our Master and Lord: how doth it not then become us to suffer! for the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It may suffice the disciple to be as his master, and the servant to be as his lord. If they have called the Father of the family, the Master of the household, Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them so of his household? Fear them not (saith our Saviour) for all hidden things shall be made plain; there is now nothing secret, but it shall be shewed in light. Of Christ's words let us neither be ashamed nor afraid to speak; for so Christ commandeth us, saying--'What I tell you privily, speak openly abroad, and what I tell you in your ear, preach upon the house top. And fear not them which kill the body, for the soul they cannot kill; but fear him which can cast both body and souls into hell-fire.'
"Know ye that our heavenly Father hath ever a gracious eye, and respect toward you, and a fatherly providence for you, so that without his knowledge and permission nothing can do you harm. Let us therefore cast all our care upon him, he shall provide that which shall be best for us. For if of two small sparrows, which both are sold for a mite, one of them lighteth not on the ground without your Father, and all the hairs of our head are numbered, fear not them (saith our master Christ) for you are more worth than many small sparrows. And let us not shrink to confess me before men, him shall I confess before my Father which is in heaven: but whosoever shall deny me, him shall I likewise deny before my Father which is in heaven.' Christ came not to give us here a carnal amity, and a worldly peace, or to knit his unto the world in ease and peace, but rather to separate and divide from the world,a nd to join them unto himself: in whose cause we must, if we will be his, forsake father and mother, and stick unto him. If we forsake him or shrink from him for trouble or death sake, which he calleth his cross, he will none of us, we cannot be his. If for his cause we shall lose our temporal lives here, we shall find them again, and enjoy them for evermore: but if, in this cause, we will not be contented to leave nor lose them here, then shall we lose them so, that we shall never find them again, but in everlasting death. What though our troubles here are painful for the time, and the sting of death bitter and unpleasant; yet we know that they shall not last, in comparison of eternity, no not the twinkling of any eye, and that they patiently taken in Christ's cause, shall procure and get us unmeasureable heaps of heavenly glory, unto which these temporal pains of death and troubles compared, are not to be esteemed, but to be rejoiced upon. 'Wonder not'--saith St. Peter--'as though it were any strange matter that ye are tried by the fire,' he meaneth of tribulation, 'which thing is done to prove you; nay, rather in that ye are partners of Christ's afflictions rejoice, that in his glorious revelation ye may rejoice with merry hearts. If ye suffer rebukes in Christ's name, happy are ye, for the glory and Spirit of God resteth upon you. Of them God is reviled and dishonoured, but of you he is glorified.'
"Let no man be ashamed of that which he suffereth as a christian, and in Christ's cause: for now is the time that judgment and correction must begin at the house of God: and if it begin at us, what shall be the end of those which believe not the gospel? And if the righteous shall hardly be saved, the wicked and the sinner, where shall they appear? Wherefore they which are afflicted according to the will of God, let them lay down and commit their souls to him by well doing, as to a trusty and faithful Maker. This, as I said, may not seem strange to us, for we know that all the whole fraternity of Christ's congregation in this world is served with the like, and by the same is made perfect. For the fervent love that the apostles had unto their master Christ, and for the great advantages and increase of all godliness which they felt by their faith to insure of afflictions in Christ's cause, and also for the heaps of heavenly joys which the same do get unto the godly, which shall endure in heaven for evermore; for these causes the apostles did joy of their afflictions, and rejoiced in that they were had and accounted worthy to suffer contumelies and rebukes for Christ's name. And St. Paul, as he glorieth in the grace and favour of God, whereunto he was brought and stood in by faith; so he rejoiced in his afflictions for the heavenly and spiritual profits which he numbered to rise upon them: yea, he was so far in love with what the carnal man loathed so much, that is, with Christ's cross, that he judged himself to know nothing else but Christ crucified: he will glory, he saith, in nothing else but in Christ's cross, yea, and he blesseth all those as the only true Israelites, with peace and mercy, which walk after that rule, and after no other.
"O Lord, what a wonderful spirit was that which made St. Paul, in setting forth of himself against the vanity of Satan's false apostles, and in his claim there, that he,in Christ's cause, did excel and surpass them all! What wonderful spirit was that, I say, that made him to reckon up all his troubles, his labours, his beatings, his whippings and scourgings, his shipwrecks, his dangers and perils by water and by land, his famine, hunger, nakedness, and cold, with many more, and the daily care of all the congregations of Christ, among whom every man's pain did pierce his heart, and every man's grief was grievous unto him! O Lord, is this Paul's primacy whereof he though so much good that he did excel others? Is not this Paul's saying unto Timothy his own scholar? and doth it not pertain to whosoever will be Christ's true soldiers? Bear thou, saith he, affliction, like a true soldier of Jesus Christ. This is true; if we die with Christ, we shall live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him; if we deny him, he shall deny us; if we be faithless, he remaineth faithful, he cannot deny himself. This, Paul would have known to every body; for there is no other way to heaven but Christ and his way; and all that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution. By this way went to heaven the patriarchs, the prophets, Christ our master, his apostles, his martyrs, and all the godly since the beginning. And as it hath bee of old, that he which was born after the flesh, persecuted him who was born after the Spirit, for so it was in Isaac's time, so said St. Paul, it was in his time also. And whether it be so now or no, let the spiritual man, the self-same man I mean, that is endued with the Spirit of Almighty God, let him be judge. Of the cross of the patriarchs, as ye may read in their stories, if ye read the book of Genesis, ye shall perceive. Of others St. Paul in a few words comprehendeth much matter, speaking in a generality of the wonderful afflictions, death, and torments which the men of God in God's cause, and for the truth's sake, willingly and gladly did suffer. After much particular rehearsal of many, he saith--"Others were racked and despised, and would not be delivered, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others were tried with mockings and scourgings, and moreover with bonds and imprisonments; they were stoned, hewn asunder, tempted, slain upon the edge of the sword; some wandered to and fro in sheep skins, in goat skins, forsaken, oppressed, afflicted, such godly men as the world was unworthy of, wandering in wildernesses, in mountains, in caves, and in dens, and caves of the earth, destitute, afflicted and tormented." And yet they abide for us the servants of God, and for those their brethren which are to be slain as they were for the word of God's sake, that none be shut out, but that we may all go together to meet our master Christ in the air at his coming, and so be in bliss with him in body and soul for evermore.
"Therefore seeing we have so much occasion to suffer, and to take afflictions for Christ's name's sake patiently, so many advantages thereby, so weighty causes, so many good examples, so great necessity, so sure promises of eternal life and heavenly joys of him that cannot lie: let us throw away whatever might hinder us, all burden of sin, and all kind of carnality, and patiently and constantly let us run the race that is set before us, ever having our eyes upon Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith, 'who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, not minding the shame and ignominy thereof, and is set now at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider this, that he suffered such strife of sinners against himself, that ye should not give over nor faint in your minds. As yet we have not withstood unto death fighting against sin.' Let us never forget, dear brethren, for Christ's sake, that fatherly exhortation of the wise man that speaketh unto us, as unto his children, the godly wisdom of God, saying thus--'My son, despise not the correction of the Lord, nor fall from him when thou art rebuked of him;for whom the Lord loveth, him doth he correct, and scourgeth every child whom he receiveth. What child is he whom the father doth not chasten? If ye be free from chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and no children. Seeing then, when as we not we much more be subject unto our spiritual Father that we might life? And they for a little time have taught us after their own mind but this Father teacheth us to our own advantage, to give unto us his holiness. All chastisement for the present time appeareth not pleasant, but painful; but afterwards it rendereth the fruit of righteousness on them which are exercised in it. Wherefore let us be of good cheer, good brethren, and let us pluck u our feeble members that were fallen or begun to faint, heart, hands, knees, and all the rest, and let us walk upright and straight, that no limping nor halting bring us out of the way. Let us not look upon the things that be present, but with the eyes of our faith let us steadfastly behold the things that be everlasting in heaven, and so choose rather in respect of that which is to come, with the chosen members of Christ to bear Christ's cross, than for this short life-time to enjoy all the riches, honours, and pleasures of the broad world. Why should we Christians fear death? Can death deprive us of Christ which is all our comfort, our joy and our life? Nay forsooth. But contrary, death shall deliver us from this mortal body, which loadeth and beareth down the spirit, that it cannot so well perceive heavenly things; in which so long as we dwell, we are absent from God.
"Wherefore understand our state in that we be Christians, that if our mortal body, which is our earthly house, were destroyed, we have a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, therefore we are of good cheer, and know that when we are in the body, we are absent from God; for we walk by faith and not by sight. Nevertheless we are bold, and had rather be absent from the body, and present with God. Wherefore we strive, whether we be present at home, or absent abroad, that we may always please him: and who that hath true faith in our Saviour Christ, whereby he knoweth somewhat truly what Christ our Saviour is, that he is the eternal Son of God, life, light, the wisdom of the Father, all goodness, all righteousness, and whatsoever is good that heart can desire, yea infinite plenty of all these, above what man's heart can either conceive or think; and also that he is given us of the Father, and made of God to be our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption: who then is he that believeth this indeed, that would not gladly be with his master Christ? Paul for this knowledge coveted to have been loosed from the body, and to have been with Christ, for he counted it much better for himself, and had rather be loosed than to live. Therefore the words of Christ to the thief on the cross, who asked of him mercy, were full of comfort and solace--'This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.' To die in the defence of Christ's gospel, it is our bounden duty to Christ, and also to our neighbour. To Christ, because he died for us, and rose again that he might be Lord over all. And seeing he died for us, we also should hazard, yea give our life for our brethren, and this kind of giving and losing, is getting and winning indeed: for he that giveth or loseth his life thus, getteth and winneth it for evermore. Blessed are they therefore that die in the Lord, and if they die in the Lord's cause, they are most happy of all. Let us not then fear death, which can do us no harm, otherwise than for a moment to make the flesh to smart: but that our faith, which is fastened and fixed upon the word of God, telleth us that we shall be anon after death in peace, in the hands of God, in joy, in solace, and that from death we shall go straight unto life. For St. John saith, He that liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. And in another place, He shall depart from death unto life. And therefore this death of the christian is not to be called death, but rather a gate or entrance into everlasting life. Therefore Paul calleth it but a dissolution and change, and both Peter and Paul, a putting off this tabernacle or dwelling house: meaning thereby the mortal body, as wherein the soul or spirit doth dwell here in this world for a small time. Yea, this my death may be called, to the christian, an end of al miseries. For so long as we live here, we must pass through many tribulations before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. And now, after that death hath shot his bolt, all the christian man's enemies have done what they can; after that they have no more to do. What could hurt or harm poor Lazarus that lay at the rich man's gate? his former penury and poverty? his misery, beggary, and horrible wounds and sickness? No; as soon as death had struck him with his dart, so soon came the angels, and carried him straight up into Abraham's bosom. What lost he by death, who from misery and pain is conducted, by the ministry of angels, to a place of joy and felicity?
"Farewell, dear brethren, farewell; let us comfort our hearts in all troubles, and in death, with God's word, for heaven and earth shall perish, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. Farewell Jesus Christ's dearly beloved spouse, here wandering in this world in a strange land, encompassed about with deadly enemies, who seek thy destruction. Farewell, farewell to you, O ye the whole universal congregation of the chosen of God here living upon earth, the true church militant of Christ, the true mystical body of Christ, the very household and family of God and the sacred temple of the Holy Ghost, farewell. Farewell, O thou little flock of the high heavenly pastors of Christ, for to you it hath pleased the heavenly Father to give an everlasting and eternal kingdom. Farewell thou spiritual house of God, thou holy and royal priesthood, thou chosen generation, thou holy nation, thou won spouse. Farewell, farewell."
The next month after the burning of Ridley and Latimer, which was the month of November, Stephen Gardiner, bishop and chancellor, a man hated of God and all good men, ended his wretched life. He was born in the town of Bury in Suffolk, and brought up most part of his youth in Cambridge: his wit, capacity, memory, and other endowments of nature were not to be complained of, if he had well used and rightly applied the same. He profited not a little in such studies as he gave his head unto; as in civil law, languages,a nd such other like, especially in those arts and faculties which had the prospect of dignity and preferment. But to those gifts were joined great vices, which not so much followed him as overtook him, not so much burdened him as made him burdenous to the whole realm. He was of a proud stomach and high-minded; in wit, crafty and subtle; towards his superiors, flattering and fair spoken; to his inferiors, fierce; against his equals, stout and envious, as appeared between the good lord Cromwell and him in the reign of king Henry. Upon his estimation and fame he stood too much, more than was meet for a man of his coat and calling, whose profession was to be crucified unto the world.
As touching divinity, he was so variable, wavering with time, that no constant censure can be given what to make of him. If his doings and writings were according to his conscience, no man can rightly say whether he was a right protestant or a papist; and if he wrote otherwise than he thought, then was he a double dissembler before God and man. For first in the beginning of Anne Boleyn's time, who was so forward or busy in the matter of the king's divorce as Stephen Gardiner, who was first sent to Rome, and then to the emperor with Edward Foxe, as chief agent in the behalf of lady Anne? by whom also he was preferred to the bishopric of Winchester. Again, at the abolishing of the pope, who so ready to swear or so vehement to write against he pope as he, as not only by his sermons but also by his book "De Obedientia" may appear? in which book, lest any should think him drawn thereunto otherwise than by his own consent, he plainly declareth how not rashly nor upon a sudden, but in a long deliberation and advertisement in himself about the matter, he at length uttered his judgment. And moreover so he uttered his judgments in writing against the usurped supremacy of the pope, that coming to Louvain afterward he was there accounted as excommunicate and schismatic, insomuch that he was not permitted in their church to say mass, and in their public sermons they openly cried out against him.
And thus long continued he firm and forward, so that who but Winchester during all the time of queen Anne? After her fall, by little and little he was carried away, till at length the emulation of Cromwell's estate, and especially for his so much favouring of Bonner, whom Winchester at that time could in no case abide, made him an utter enemy against the said Cromwell and also his religion. Again, in king Edward's days, he began a little to rebate from certain points of popery, and somewhat to smell of the gospel, as appears by his sermon before the king, and also by his subscribing to certain articles. This was a half turn of Stephen Gardiner from popery again to the gospel, and no doubt he would have further turned had not the unlucky decay of the duke of Somerset clean turned him away from true divinity to plain popery, wherein he continued a cruel persecutor to his dying day. And thus much concerning the trade and profession of Stephen Gardiner.
Touching the death of the foresaid Stephen Gardiner, and the manner thereof, I would they which were present thereat would testify unto us what they saw; notwithstanding I though not to overpass a certain hearsay openly reported in the house of a worthy citizen bearing yet office in this city: "The same day, when bishop Ridley and master Latimer suffered at Oxford, there came into the house of Stephen Gardiner the duke of Norfolk, with his secretary, master Munday. The duke there waiting and tarrying for his dinner, the bishop being not yet disposed to dine, deferred the time to three or four of the clock at afternoon. At length, about four of the clock cometh his servant, posting in all possible speed from Oxford, bringing intelligence to the bishop what he had heard and seen; of whom the said bishop diligently inquiring the truth of the matter, and hearing by his man that fire was most certainly set unto them, cometh out rejoicing to the duke--'Now,' saith he, 'let us go to dinner:' whereupon they being set down, meat immediately was brought, and the bishop began merrily to eat. But what followed? The bloody tyrant had not eaten a few bits, but the sudden stroke of God's terrible hand fell upon him in such sort as immediately he was taken from table, and so brought to his bed; where he continued the space of fifteen days in intolerable anguish and torments: a spectacle worthy to be noted and beholden of all such bloody burning persecutors."
I could name the man who, being then present, and a great doer about the said Winchester, reported to us concerning the said bishop, that when Dr. Day, bishop of Chichester, came to him, and began to comfort him with the words of God's promise,a nd with the free justification in the blood of Christ our Saviour, repeating the Scriptures to him, Winchester cried out, "What, my lord, will you open that gap now? Then farewell altogether. To me, and such others in my case, you may speak it; but open this window to the people, then farewell altogether!" Having given this brief sketch of Gardiner's story, leaving him to his Judge, we shall return, (by the grace and leave of the Lord,) as the course of these doleful days shall lead us, to prosecute the residue of Christ's martyrs.
The political and ecclesiastical state of the realm at this period has been summed up by a former editor of this work in the following comprehensive and judicious manner. "The parliament was now assembled, and it appeared that the nation was much turned in their affections. It was proposed to give the queen a subsidy. This was the first aid that the queen had asked, though she was now in the third year of her reign; and what was now desired, was no more than what she might have exacted at her first coming to the crown; and since she had forgiven so much at her coronation, it seemed unreasonable to deny it now: yet great opposition was made to it. Many said, she was impoverishing the crown, and giving away the abbey-lands, and therefore she ought to be supplied by the clergy, and not turn to the laity: but it was answered, that the convocation had given her 6s. in the pound, but that would not serve her present occasions; so the debate grew high; but to prevent further heats, the queen sent a message, declaring that she would accept the subsidy, upon which it was granted. The queen sent for the speaker of the house of commons, and told him she could not with a good conscience exact the first-fruits of the clergy, since they were given to her father to support his unlawful dignity, of being the supreme head of the church: she also thought that all tithes, and impropriations were the patrimony of the church, and therefore was resolved to resign such of them as were in her hands. The former part passed easily in the house, but great opposition was made to the latter part of her motion: for it was looked on as a step to the taking all the impropriations out of the hands of the laity: upon a division of the house, one hundred and twenty-six were against it, and one hundred and ninety-three were for it; so it was carried by sixty-seven voices. An bill was put in against the duchess of Suffolk, and several others that favoured the reformation, and had gone beyond sea that they might freely enjoy their consciences; requiring them to return, under severe penalties: the lords passed it, but the commons threw it out: for they began now to repent of the severe laws they had already consented to, and resolved to add no more. They also rejected another bill, for incapacitating some to be justices of peace who were complained on for their remissness in prosecuting heretics. An act was put in for debarring one Bennet Smith, who had hired some assassins to commit a most detestable murder, from the benefit of the clergy; which, by the course of the common law, would have saved him. This was an invention of the priests, that if any who was capable of entering into orders, and had not been twice married, or had not married a widow, could read, and vow to take orders, he was to be saved in many criminal cases. And it was looked on as part of the ecclesiastical immunity; which made divers of the bishops oppose this act; yet it passed, through four of them and five temporal lords protested against it. There was such a heat in the house of commons in this parliament, that Sir Anthony Kingston called one day for the keys of the house; but for this temerity, in the dissolution of parliament, he was sent to the Tower: he was, however, soon after set at liberty; but next year he and six others were accused of a design of robbing the exchequer. Sir Anthony died before he was brought up to London; the other six were executed; but the evidence against them does not appear on record.
Cardinal Pole, about this time, called a convocation, having first procured a licence from the queen, empowering them both to meet and to make such canons as they should think fit. This was done to preserve the prerogatives of the crown, and to secure the clergy, that they might not be afterwards brought under a praemunire. In it several decrees were proposed by Pole, and assented to by the clergy: For observing the feast of the reconciliation made with Rome, with great solemnity. For condemning all heretical books, and receiving that exposition of the faith which pope Eugenius sent from the council of Florence to the Armenians. For the decent administration of the sacraments, and the putting down the yearly feasts in the dedications of churches. For requiring all bishops and priests to lay aside secular cares, and to give themselves wholly to the pastoral charge: and all pluralists to resign all their benefices except one, within two months, otherwise to forfeit all. For bishops to preach often, and to provide good preachers for their dioceses, to go over them as their visitors. For the pomp and luxury of the tables, servants, and families of the bishops to cease, and the money to be laid out on works of charity. For orders to be granted only after strict examination. For personal partiality in bestowing benefices no longer to prevail. For the abolition of simony. For schools to be connected with every cathedral, chargeable on its revenues--and for some other inferior purposes. In these, the politic temper of cardinal Pole may well be discerned. He though the people were more wrought on by the scandals they saw in the clergy, than by the arguments which they heard from the reformers; and therefore reckoned that if pluralities and non-residences, and the other abuses of churchmen, could have been removed, and if he could have brought the bishops to life better, and labour mere, to be stricter in giving orders, and more impartial in conferring benefices, and if he could have established seminaries in cathedrals, heresy might have been driven out of the nation by gentler means that racks and fires. In one thing, however, he shewed the meanness of his spirit, namely that though he himself condemned cruel proceedings against heretics, yet he both gave commissions to other bishops and archdeacons to try them, and suffered a great deal of cruelty to be exercised in his own diocese: but he had not courage enough to resist pope Paul IV., who thought of no other way for bearing down heresy, than that of setting up courts of inquisition every where. He had imprisoned cardinal Marone, Pole's great friend, upon suspicion of heresy; and would very probably have used himself so, if he had got him at Rome.
About this time the Jesuits were beginning to grow considerably; they were restrained, besides their other vows, by an absolute obedience to the see of Rome: and set themselves every where to open free-schools, for the education of youth,a nd to bear down heresy. They were excused from the hours of the quire, and were consequently looked on as a mongrel order, between the regulars and the seculars. They proposed to cardinal Pole, that since the queen was restoring the abbey-lands, it would be to little purpose to give them again to the Benedictine order, which was not rather a clog than a help to the church: and therefore they desired that houses might be assigned to them, for maintaining schools and seminaries; and they did not doubt but they should quickly drive out heresy and recover the church-lands. Cardinal Pole would not listen to this, for which the Jesuits much censured him. It is not certain whether he foresaw that disorder which they were likely to bring into the church, and that corruption of morals that hath since emanated from their schools.
--Footnote marker 0--BT 4 words "in one is represented"
This passage of Ridley--this definition of the true church, and of the certain marks by which it may be known--this distinction between the method of ascertaining the church before and after it became Roman and papal--merits the utmost attention, and deserves to be written in letters of gold. If Ridley had never written or spoken any thing else, this would have been sufficient to convince the world that, on every thing relating to the evidences of religious truth and sacred scriptural worship, he would have been equal as a disputant to the most enlightened who ever opened his lips or employed his pen in such a cause.Return to text
--Footnote marker p--BT 4 words "est, si cetera nescis"
To give full effect to these admirable lines, we present the reader with the following rather free, but still fair and faithful translation.
To know all things here, and yet not Christ to know,
--Footnote marker s--BT 4 words "no fewer than three"
Cranmer was the other individual of the three; and though nothing is hinted of his taking a share in the correspondence of these illustrious prisoners, it is evident, by the incidental mention of him in this place, that he had not yet become shaken, nor that he yet thought of recanting.Return to text
--Footnote marker t--BT 4 words "Wilkinson and Mrs. Warcup"
Two excellent women to whom some of Bradford's best letters were addressed. It would appear from their ministrations to the Oxford as well as London prisoners, that they devoted themselves to a general attention to the wants of the martyrs of that day.
--Footnote marker u--BT 4 words "heart to be Triumph"
The word trump, as now used, is a corruption from triumph--the triumph card.
--Footnote marker v--BT 4 words "other could be saved"
Mary was indeed, according to the salutation of Elizabeth, highly blessed among women in bearing that sacred body wherein her God became incarnate; but still she was a daughter of Adam, and consequently not without sin, and needing the atoning blood of Christ and his righteousness, as many as any of her fellow creatures--a fact indirectly conveyed by the words of Christ himself, who, when a certain woman exclaimed--"Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!"--answered "Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it." Nothing can be
clearer than that a humble believer in Christ is superior to the virgin as such, and that her chief excellence consists in her own humble and holy faith in his salvation.
--Footnote marker w--Bt 4 words "the way of intercession"
This may seem a harmless opinion; but no warrant for it can be drawn from scripture. We see neither in the Prophets nor the Apostles any examples of praying to saints. All requests are to be made known unto God through Christ, Psa. xlv. 17; lxxii. 15; Acts iv. 12; Phil ii 9--11; 1 Tim. ii 5, 6; Heb. ix. 14, 15.
--Footnote marker a--BT 4 words "for the Ave Maria"
To speak with the least harshness of this, it was certainly a work of supererogation and of will worship. Mr. Latimer, in these answers, doubtless discovers an apprehension of speaking the simple truth, which many of his brother martyrs were quite free from. This, however, was in an early part of his career; as he advanced he became more firm and clear, until all obscurity vanished.
--Footnote marker a--BT 4 words "over against Ballio college"
["Not many weeks since, some workmen, who were employed in making a drain in Broadstreet, opposite the door of the master of Balliol's lodgings, found, at the depth of about three feet from the present surface, such a quantity of ashes and burnt sticks, as plainly indicated that they had discovered the spot on which the martyrs suffered."--Christian Observer, June 1838.]