Men forget the courage, patience, endurance and sacrifice of the Christian martyrs, but our faithful God never forgets. Their faithfulness in the day of trial is ever before the eyes of the Covenant God of Israel.
In writing to the minister of the church at Pergamos, John was instructed to chronicle the name, the character, and the martyrdom of Antipas. "I know thy works," said the One with the two edged sword, "and where thou dwellest even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name and has not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr who was slain among you where Satan dwelleth." Rev. 2:13.
THE SOULS OF THE MARTYRS AND THEIR CRY
In our text the voice of the martyr is heard in heaven. The text describes it as a "loud voice" to which the Lord gives immediate attention. The voice of the martyrs is stifled and muffled by men on earth. Those who would draw attention to their principles and sacrifices and indict the Roman Murdress are discountenanced and discredited. In heaven, however, their voice is heard and their faithfulness rewarded. Yes, and let it be remembered, their illustrious roll is not yet completed. More of God's choice people will fall a prey to the murderous paw of the beast of Rome before God hurls His final anathema upon the whole hellish system of popery. The killing times and martyr pyres will shortly be again the experience of those who stand up for Christ against the Roman Antichrist.
THE "BLOODY MARY" AND HER WORK
Edward VI, the son of the famous and infamous Henry VIII, died on 6th July, 1553. The last prayer of this noble and first truly Protestant King of England was significant: "O Lord God, defend this realm from papistry and maintain thy true religion."
Edward was succeeded by that queen whom history has epitaphed as "the Bloody Mary". Mary was a papist of the papists, a true offspring of the Roman Harlot, and the treatment of her mother Catherine of Aragon had kindled a burning hatred of Protestantism within her warped mind and idolatrous soul. She was the willing instrument of the papacy in its barbaric scheme to annihilate Protestantism in England.
Persecution is the firstborn of popery, and soon England became the place of the most gruesome of murders murders carried out in the name and with the blessing of so called "holy mother church". In the last four years of her reign Mary fully earned her ill omened title.
288 PERSONS BURNED TO DEATH
Soames, in his history of the Reformation, catalogues the number of Protestants burned at the stake during the years 1555 1558:
71 Protestants were burnt in the year 1555.
89 Protestants were burnt in the year 1556.
88 Protestants were burnt in the year 1557.
40 Protestants were burnt in the year 1558.
Of these martyrs, four were children, fifty five were women, twenty one were clergymen and five were bishops, one of whom being the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury.
It is these first five Bishops of the Protestant Reformed Church of England whom Rome burned which we want to consider in these messages.
Not much is known of the early life and conversion of John Hooper. He was born in Somersetshire in the year 1495 and entered Merton College, Oxford in 1514. It is thought that afterwards he became a monk of the Cistercian Order, but disliking monastic life he returned to Oxford. The only insight which we are given into the manner of his conversion and his deliverance from papal idolatry is in a letter written by Hooper to one of the continental reformers, Bullinger.
In this now famous letter Hooper states:
"Not many years since, most honoured master, and much loved brother in Christ, when I was a courtier, and living too much of a court life in the palace of our king, there most happily and auspiciously came under my notice certain writings of master Huldrich Zuinglius, a most excellent man, of pious memory; and also some commentaries upon the epistles of St. Paul, which will prove a lasting monument of your renown."
"These singular gifts of God exhibited by you to the world at large, I was unwilling to neglect, especially as I perceived them seriously to affect the eternal salvation and happiness of my soul; so that I thought it well worth my while, night and day, with earnest study, and an almost superstitutious diligence, to devote my entire attention to your writings. Nor was my labour in this respect ever wearisome to me: for after I had arrived at manhood, and by the kindness of my father enjoyed the means of living more unrestrainedly, I had begun to blaspheme God by impious worship and all manner of idolatry, following the evil ways of my forefathers, before I rightly understood what God was. But being at length delivered by the goodness of God, for which I am solely indebted to him and to yourselves, nothing now remains for me in reference to the remainder of my life and my last hour, but to worship God with a pure heart, and know my defects while living in this body, since indeed the tenure of life is deceitful, and every man is altogether as nothing; and to serve my godly brethren in Christ, and the ungodly for Christ: for I do not think that a Christian is for himself, or that he ought altogether to ascribe, not to himself, but to refer it to God as the author, and regard everything that he possesses as common to all, according as the necessities and wants of his brethren may require. I am indeed ashamed beyond measure, that I have not performed these duties heretofore; but that like a brute beast, as the greater part of mankind are wont to do, I have been a slave to my own lusts: but is is better to be wise late than not at all."
HIS SOJOURN ON THE CONTINENT
In the year 1539 when the six semi popish articles were enforced, Hooper left Oxford to which he never returned. Finding his life in danger because of his vigorous Protestant principles, Hooper went to the continent and was kindly received by Henry Bullinger whose writings had been partly instrumental in leading him to Christ. He remained on the continent for nine years, living first at Strassbourg, then at Basle, and finally at Zurich.
When the boy King Edward VI came to the throne of England Hooper felt it his duty to return to England and engage in reformation work there. In taking leave of his friend Bullinger he uttered the following prophetic pronouncement:
"The last news of all, Master Bullinger, I shall not be able to write. For there, where I shall take most pains, there shall ye hear of me to be burnt to ashes. That shall be the last news which I shall not be able to write to you. But you shall hear it of me."
ELECTED BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER
A year after his return to England, Hooper was appointed to the bishopric of Gloucester. He did not enter on his work until almost a year afterwards because of his fervent Protestant principles which forbade him to wear vestments and take the then required oath: Hooper's dispute with Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley over these led to Hooper's Imprisonment in the Fleet prison. However, wiser counsels eventually prevailed, and certain restrictions both in the oath and in the vestments being waived, Hooper eventually was installed Bishop of Gloucester.
The judgment of Bishop J. C. Ryle on this incident in the Reformer's life is worth noting:
"I believe the plain truth to be, that Hooper was much more far sighted than his excellent fellow labourers. He looked further ahead than they did, and saw the possibility of evils arising in the Church of England, of which they in their charity never dreamed. He foresaw, with prophetic eye, the immense peril of leaving nest eggs for future Romanism within our pale. He foresaw a time when the Pope's friends would take advantage of the least crevice left in the walls of our Zion; and he would fain have had every crack stopped up. He would not have left a single peg on which Romanising churchmen could have rehung the abominable doctrine of the Mass. It is my decided opinion that he was quite right. Events have supplied abundant proof that his conscientious scruples were well founded. I believe, if Cranmer and Ridley had listened to his objections, and seized the opportunity of settling the whole question of 'vestments' in a thoroughly Protestant way, it would have been a blessing to the Church of England! In a word, if Hooper's views had been allowed to prevail, one half of the Ritualistic controversy of our own day would never have existed at all."
HIS MANNER OF LIFE
John Foxe, the Martyrologist, the friend of Hooper, tells us in his own quaint way something of the Bishop's manner of life: "He employed his time with such diligence, as to be a spectacle (or pattern) to all bishops. So careful was he in his cure, that he left no pains untaken, nor ways unsought, how to train up the flock of Christ in the true word of salvation, continually labouring in the same. No father in his household, no gardener in his garden, nor husbandman in his vineyard, was more or better occupied than he in his diocese amongst his flock, going about his towns and villages, in teaching and preaching to the people there. Although he bestowed the most part of his care upon the public flock and congregation of Christ, for which, also, he spent his blood; yet there lacked no provision in him to bring up his own children in learning and good manners; so that you could not discern whether he deserved more praise for his fatherly usage at home, or for his bishoplike doings abroad. For everywhere he kept one religion in one uniform doctrine and integrity; so that if you entered into the bishop's palace you would suppose you had entered some church or temple. In every corner there was savour of virtue, good example, honest conversation, and reading of holy scriptures. There was not to be seen in his house any courtly roystering or idleness, no pomp at all, no dishonest word, no swearing could there be heard. As for the revenues of his bishoprics, he pursued nothing, but bestowed it in hospitality. Twice I was at his house in Worcester, where in his common hall I saw a table spread with good store of meat, and set full of beggars and poor folk; and I asking the servants what this meant they told me that every day their lord and master's custom was to have to dinner a certain number of the poorfolk of the city by course, who were served with wholesome meats; and when they were served, after having been examined by him or his deputies in the Lord's prayer, the articles of their faith, and ten commandments, he himself sat down to dinner, and not before."
Hooper's doctrine was plain and Biblical. In his Confession of Faith he sets forth with great boldness the great division between the saint and the sinner. He states:
"I believe all the people of the world are either the people of God, or the people of the devil. The people of God are those, that with heart and mind know, worship, honour, praise, and laud God, according to the doctrine of the prophets and apostles. The people of the devil are those that think they worship, honour, reverence, fear, laud, or praise God, any other ways besides, or contrary to, the doctrine of the prophets and apostles."
"I believe that the people of God, who are the very true church of God, have a certain doctrine, that never was, is or hereafter shall be, violated by time or any man's authority. This doctrine only and solely is comprehended in the sacred and holy Bible."
How do you stand? Are you numbered with the people of God or the people of the devil? For your soul's sake ponder these questions, the answer to which affects your whole eternal destiny.
Immediately the Bloody Mary ascended the throne Hooper was marked out for death. He was imprisoned in the Fleet. He has this to say of his treatment:-
"The first of September 1553 I was committed unto the Fleet from Richmond, to have liberty of the prison: and within six days after I paid for my liberty five pounds sterling to the warden's fees; who, immediately upon the payment thereof, complained unto Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and so was I committed to close prison for one quarter of a year, in the tower chamber of the Fleet, and used very extremely. Then, by the means of a good gentleman, I had liberty to come down to dinner and supper, yet not suffered to speak to any of my friends; but as soon as dinner and supper was done, to repair to my chamber again. Notwithstanding, whilst I came down thus to dinner and supper, the warden and his wife picked quarrels with me, and they complained untruly of me to their great friend, the Bishop of Winchester. After one quarter of a year, and somewhat more, Babington, the warden, and his wife, fell out with me for the wicked mass, and thereupon the warden resorted to the Bishop of Winchester and obtained leave to put me into the wards, where I have continued a long time, having nothing appointed to me for my bed but a little pad of straw, and a rotten covering, with a tick and a few feathers therein, the chamber being vile and stinking, until by God's means good people sent me bedding to lie on. Of the one side of which prison is the sink and filth of the house; and on the other side, the town ditch; so that the stench of the house hath infected me with sundry diseases. During which time I have been sick, and the doors, bars, hasps, and chains, being all closed and made fast upon me. I have mourned, called and cried for help. But the warden when he hath known me many times ready to die, and when the poor men of the wards have called to help me, hath commanded the doors to be kept fast, and charged that none of his men should come at me, saying, 'Let him alone, it were a good riddance of him'. And amongst many other times he did thus the 18th of October 1553, as many can witness. I paid always like a baron to the said warden, as well in fees, as for my board, which was twenty shillings a week, besides my man's table, until I was wrongfully deprived of my bishopric, and since that I have paid him as the best gentleman doth in his house; yet hath he used me worse, and more vilely than the veriest slave that ever came to the hall commons. The said warden hath also imprisoned my man, William Downton, and stripped him of all his clothes to search for letters, and could find none, but only a little remembrance of good people's names, that gave me their alms to relieve me in prison; and to undo them also the said warden delivered the same bill unto the said Stephen Gardiner, God's enemy and mine. I have suffered imprisonment almost eighteen months, my good living, friends, and comforts taken from me; the queen owing me, by just account, eighty pounds or more. She hath put me in prison, and gives nothing to find me, neither is there suffered any to come to me, whereby I might have relief. I am with a wicked man and woman, so that I see no remedy, saving God's help, but that I shall be castaway in prison before I come to judgment. But I commit my just cause to God, whose will be done, whether it be by life or death."
In January 1555 Hooper was condemned by Gardiner and Mary's other popish bishops on three counts:
In the Chapel at Newgate prison Hooper was formally degraded and Informed to his great delight that he would be burned outside his own cathedral in Gloucester. He was also told that if he tried to speak to the people at his martyrdom he would have his tongue torn out. This was on the instructions of the Queen herself.
- For maintaining the lawfulness of the marriage of the clergy.
- For defending the scriptural doctrine of divorce.
- For denying the carnal presence of Christ in the sacrament, and saying the mass was an idol.
BACK TO GLOUCESTER
So the martyr was taken back to the scene of his apostolic labours. He arrived at a city weeping, so great was the sorrow of the citizens at the sentence of their much loved bishop. Efforts were made to make Hooper recant, but they were, of course, unavailing.
Sir Anthony Kingston, a prominent citizen whom Hooper had once disciplined for his vices, came with a great show of affection and remonstrated with him. "Consider," Kingston said, "that life is sweet and death is bitter. Life hereafter may do good." Hooper replied, "The life to come is more sweet and the death to come is more bitter." Seeing him unmoved, Kingston bore this hopeful testimony, "I thank God that ever I knew you, seeing God did appoint you to call me to be his child. By your good instruction, when I was before a fornicator and adulterer, God hath taught me to detest and forsake the same."
The same day he talked with Kingston, a blind boy after long intercession made to the guard, obtained license to be brought unto Master Hooper. The same boy not long before had suffered imprisonment at Gloucester for confessing the truth. Master Hooper, after he had examined him of his faith, and the cause of his imprisonment, beheld him steadfastly, and with tears in his eyes, said unto him, "Ah, poor boy, God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what consideration he best knoweth; but he hath given thee another sight much more precious, for he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and faith. God give three grace continually to pray unto him, that thou lose not that sight, for then shouldest thou be blind both in body and soul." The martyr's prayer for this poor blind boy was heard. His name was Drowry, and he was enabled to continue steadfast in the truth. In May 1556 he was burned.
THE NIGHT BEFORE HIS BURNING
On the night before his glorification of God in the flames he desired to be alone in his chamber. In a book published in 1559 containing writings of the Reformers it is recorded he wrote the following lines on one of the walls of his room with a piece of coal:-
Content thyself with patience
With Christ to bear the cup of pain:
Who can and will thee recompense
A thousand fold, with joys again.
Let nothing cause thy heart to fail:
Launch out thy boat, hoist up the sail,
Put from the shore;
And be thou sure thou shalt attain
Unto the port, that shall remain
Fear not death, pass not for bands,
Only in God put thy whole trust;
For He will require thy blood at their hands,
And thou dost know that once die thou must,
Only for that, thy life if thou give,
Death is no death, but ever for to live.
Do not despair;
Of no worldly tyrant be thou in dread;
Thy compass, which is God's Word, shall thee lead.
And the wind is fair.
About seven thousand people gathered to witness the courage and endurance of the man of God in the fire. Fox, the faithful chronicler of the martyrs, describes the scene:
"When he came to the place appointed where he should die, smiling he beheld the stake and preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm tree over against the college of priests, where he was wont to preach. The place round about the houses and the boughs of the trees were crowded with people; and in the chamber over the college gate stood the priests of the college. Then kneeled he down to prayer forasmuch as he could not be suffered to speak unto the people, and beckoned six or seven times unto one whom he knew well, to hear the said prayer, to make report thereof in time to come, pouring tears upon his shoulders and in his bosom, who gave attentive ears unto the same; which prayer he made upon the whole creed, wherein he continued the space of half an hour. Now, after he was somewhat entered into his prayer, a box was brought and laid before him upon a stool, with his pardon, or at the least it was feigned to be his pardon, from the queen, if he would turn. At the sight whereof he cried, 'if you love my soul, away with it.' The box being taken away, the lord Shandios said, 'Seeing there is no remedy, despatch him quickly.' Master Hooper said, 'Good, my lord, I trust your lordship will give me leave to make an end of my prayers'."
Then, said the Lord Shandois to Sir Edmund Bridge's son, who gave ear to Master Hooper's prayer at his request: "Edmund, take heed that he do nothing else but pray: if he do, tell me, and I shall quickly despatch him." While this talk was, there stepped forward one or two uncalled, who heard him speak these words:
"Lord, I am hell, but thou art heaven: I am a swill, and a sink of sin, but thou art a gracious God and a merciful Redeemer. Have mercy, therefore, upon me, most miserable and wretched offender, after thy great mercy, and according to thine inestimable goodness. Thou art ascended into heaven; receive me to be partaker of thy joys, where thou sittest in equal glory with thy Father. For well thou knowest, Lord, wherefore I am come hither to suffer, and why the wicked do persecute this thy poor servant: not for my sins and transgressions committed against three, but because I will not allow their wicked doings, to the contaminating of thy blood, and to the denial of the knowledge of thy truth, wherewith it did please three by thy Holy Spirit to instruct me: the which with as much diligence as a poor wretch might, being thereto called, I have set forth to thy glory.
And well seest thou, my Lord and God, what terrible pains and cruel torments are prepared for thy creature; such, Lord, as without thy strength none is able to bear or patiently to pass. But all things that are impossible with man, are possible with thee. Therefore, strengthen me of my goodness, that in the fire I break not the rule of patience; or else assuage the terror of the pains, as shall seem most to thy glory."
When he was at the stake three irons, made to bind him to the stake, were brought, one for his neck, another for his middle and the third for his legs. He refused them, saying, "You have no need to trouble yourselves. For I doubt not but God will give me strength sufficient to abide the extremity of the fire without bands; notwithstanding, suspecting the frailty and weakness of the flesh, though I have assured confidence in God's strength, I am content that you do as you shall think good." So the hoop of iron prepared for his middle was brought, and when they offered to fasten his neck and legs with the other two hoops of iron he utterly refused them, saying, "I am well assured I shall not trouble you."
Thus being ready he looked upon the people of whom he might well be seen, for he was both tall and also stood on a high stool, and looked round about him. In every corner there was nothing to be seen but weeping and sorrowful people. He then lifted up his hands and eyes to heaven and prayed. In a little while he that was appointed to make the fire came to him and asked his forgiveness. Hooper asked why he should forgive him as he never knew any offence he had committed against him. "0 Sir," said the man, "I am appointed to make the fire." "Therein," said Hooper, "thou dost nothing offend me; God forgive thee thy sins and do thine office, I pray thee." Then the reeds were cast up and he received two bundles of them in his own hands, embraced them, kissed them, and put under either arm one of them and showed with his hand how the rest should be placed.
The command was then given that the fire should be lit, but because there were as many green faggots as two horses could carry, it was some time before it kindled. Green faggots were used on this and some other occasions to make the sufferings of the martyrs more severe and terrifying to the people. At length the fire burned about him, but the wind having strength in that place, blew the flames from him, so that he was but touched by the fire. However, some dry faggots were brought and a new fire kindled that burned his lower parts but had small power above because of the wind, although it did burn his hair and scorched his skin. In the time of this fire, as also at the first flame, he prayed mildly, and not very loud but as one without pain, "Oh, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me, and receive my soul." After the second fire was spent he wiped his eyes with his hands, and looking at the people said, "For God's love, good people, let me have more fire."
A third fire was kindled, which was more extreme than the others, and then the bags of gunpowder which were placed under his arms and between his legs, burst. In this tortuous fire he prayed again with a loud voice, "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me; Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me; Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." These were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips moved till they were shrunk to the gums, and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked with the other until by the renewing of the fire his strength was gone, his hand held fast to the iron band upon his breast, he bowed forwards and yielded up his spirit.
Altogether, he was three quarters of an hour or more in this fire. Like a lamb, he patiently bore the extremity of the flames, moving neither forwards nor backwards, nor to any side, but having his lower parts burnt and his vitals destroyed, he died as quietly as a child in his bed.
To day he reigns, as a blessed martyr, in heaven, prepared for the faithful in Christ before the foundations of the world.
The second Protestant Bishop who was burned by Rome was Robert Ferrar, Bishop of St. David's, Wales.
Little is known of the background and early life of this martyr Bishop. It is known, however, that he was born at Halifax and that he was Chaplain both to Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and to the Lord Protector, Somerset. It was the influence of these which brought about his elevation to the episcopal bench.
When Mary ascended the throne, the Bloody Bonner, as he was called, was released from prison and restored to the bishopric of London again, thus displacing Dr. Ridley. At the same time Cranmer was desposed from Canterbury, Paynet from Winchester, Hooper from Gloucester, Barlow from Bath, Harley from Hereford, Taylor from Lincoln, Coverdale from Exeter, Scarry from Chichester, and Ferrar from St. David's.
Ferrar was one of the signatories to the famous protestation which was drawn up in prison by the noble group of Protestant contenders there. This protestation stated:-
"First We confess and believe all the canonical books of the Old Testament, and all the books of the New Testament, to be the very true word of God, and to be written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and are therefore to be heard accordingly, as the judge in all controversies and matters of religion."
"Secondly We confess and believe, that the Catholic Church, which is the spouse of Christ, as a most obedient and loving wife, doth embrace and follow the doctrine of these books in all matters of religion; and therefore is she to be heard accordingly: so that those who will not hear this church thus following and obeying the word of her husband, we account as heretics and schismatics, according to this saying, 'If he will not hear the church, let him to be to thee as a heathen'."
"Thirdly We believe and confess all the articles of faith and doctrine set forth in the symbol of the apostles, which we commonly call the creed, and in the symbols of the councils of Nice, kept A.D. 324; of Constantinople A.D. 384; of Ephesus, kept A.D. 432; of Chalcedon, kept A.D. 454; of Toledo, the first and fourth. Also in the symbols of Athanasius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and of Damascus (who was about the year of our Lord 376) we confess and believe (we say) the doctrine of the symbols generally and particularly; so that whosoever doth otherwise, we hold the same to err from the truth."
"Fourthly We believe and confess concerning justification, that as it cometh only from God's mercy through Christ, so it is perceived and had of none which be of years of discretion, otherwise than by faith only: which faith is not an opinion, but a certain persuasion wrought by the Holy Ghost in the mind and heart of man, through whom as the mind is illuminated, so the heart is supplied to submit itself to the will of God unfeignedly; and so showeth forth an inherent righteousness, which is to be discerned, in the article of justification, from the righteousness which God endueth us withal, justifying us; although inseparably they go together. And this we do, not for curiosity or contention's sake, but for conscience sake, that it might be quiet; which it can never be, if we confound without distinction forgiveness of sins, and Christ's justice imputed to us, with genration and inherent righteousness. By this we disallow the papistical doctrine of free will, of works of suprerogation, of merits, of the necessity of auricular confession, and satisfaction to Godward."
"Fifthly We confess and believe concerning the exterior service of God, that it ought to be according to the word of God: and therefore, in the congregation, all things public ought to be done in such a tongue as may be most to edify; and not in Latin, where the people understand not the same."
"Sixthly We confess and believe that God only by Christ Jesus is to be prayed unto and called upon; and therefore we disallow invocation or prayer to saints departed this life."
"Seventhly We confess and believe that as a man departeth this life, so shall he be judged in the last day generally, and in the mean season is entered either into the state of the blessed help, or else needs no help of any in this life. By reason whereof we affirm purgatory, masses of Scala coeli, trentals, and such suffrages as the popish church doth obtrude as necessary, to be the doctrine of Antichrist."
"Eighthly We confess and believe the sacraments of Christ, which be baptism and the Lord's Supper, that they ought to be ministered according to the institution of Christ, concerning the substantial parts of them; and that they be no longer sacraments, then they be had in use, and used to the end for which they were instituted."
"And here we plainly confess, that the mutilation of the Lord's Supper, and the subtraction of the one kind from the lay people, is antichristian. And so is the doctrine of transubstantiation of the sacramental bread and wine after the words of consecration, as they be called. Item, the adoration of the sacrament with honour due unto God. Item, the reservation and carrying about of the same. Item, the mass to be propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and dead, or a work that pleases God."
"All these we believe and confess to be Antichrist's doctrine: as is the inhibition of marriage as unlawful to any state. And we doubt not, by God's grace, but we shall be able to prove all our confessions here to be most true by the verity of God's Word, and consent of the catholic church which followeth, and hath followed, the goverance of God's Spirit, and the judgment of his word."
Along with Farrar, this declaration of faith was signed by Rowland Taylor, Rector of Hadleigh, Suffolk, who was afterwards burned on Aldham Common, close to his own parish on the same day Hooper died at Gloucester, the 9th February 1555; by John Rogers, Vicar of St. Sepulchre's, London, and Prebendary of St. Paul's, who was burned Smithfield on Monday 4th February 1555; by John Bradford, Prebenda of St. Paul's, who was burned in Smithfield on Monday 1st July 1555;by John Philpot, Archdeacon of Winchester who was burned at Smithfied on Wednesday, December 18th 1555, and by the godly Hooper and others.
HIS TRIAL AND SENTENCE
On Wednesday 30th January 1555 Farrar was cited before the Roman inquisitor Gardiner and was again committed to prison. On the 14 February Ferrer was sent to St. David's, Wales, to be condemned and executed. At St. David's he was called upon to renounce his faith. This I stedfastly refused to do. Morgan, the Roman Catholic Bishop of; David's, then pronounced him to be a heretic, excommunicated him and handed him over to the secular power to be burned at Carmarthen.
Foxe concludes the tragic record thus:-
"Thus this godly bishop, being condemned and degraded, was committed to the
secular power, who not long after was brought to the place of execution in the town of Caermarthen, where he, in the market place in the south side of the market cross, the 30th day of March, being Saturday next before Passion Sunday, most constantly sustained the torments and passion of the fire."
"Touching the which constancy of this blessed martyr, this is moreover to be added and noted, that one named Richard Jones, a knight's son, coming to master Ferrar a little before his death, seemed to lament the painfulness of the death he had to suffer: unto whom the bishop answered again to this effect, saying, that if he saw him once to stir in the pains of his burning, he should then give no credit to his doctrine. And as he said, so he right well performed the same; for so patiently he stood that he never moved, but even as he stood holding up his stumps, so still he continued, till one Richard Gravell with a staff dashed him upon the head and so struck him down."
Hugh Latimer was the most popular preacher of the English Reformation. Born in the county of Leicester in 1485, in one of his famous sermons he himself tells us something of his family background:-
"My father was a yeoman and had no lands of his own. He had only a farm and three or four pounds a year at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a dozen men. He had walk for one hundred sheep and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and did bring the King a harness, with himself and his horse, when he came to the place where he should receive the King's wages. I can remember that I buckled his harness, when he went to Blackheath Field. He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to have preached before the King's majesty now. He married my sisters with five pounds apiece, and brought them up in godliness and the fear of God. He kept hospitality for his poor neighbours, and some alms he gave to the poor."
Latimer, in his early days, like Saul of Tarsus, was a bitter enemy of God's true people. He testifies: "All papists think to be saved by the law, and I myself was of that dangerous, perilous and damnable opinion till I was thirty years of age." So great was his zeal for popery that the University of Cambridge when he studied there elected him as their Cross bearer, an office he held for seven years.
Foxe, in his own quaint way, records the amazing story of the triumph of Sovereign Grace in the life of Hugh Latimer: "Master Thomas Bilney, who was afterwards martyred, being at that time a trier out of Satan's subtleties, and a secret overthrower of antichrist's kingdom, and seeing master Latimer to have a zeal in his ways, although without knowledge, was stricken with a brotherly pity towards him, and bethought what means he might best win this his zealous yet ignorant brother to the true knowledge of Christ. And therefore, after a short time, he came to Master Latimer's study, and desired him to hear him make his confession. Which thing was willingly granted; with the hearing whereof he was, by the good Spirit of God, so touched, that hereupon he forsook his former studying of the school doctors and other such fooleries, and became a true scholar in the true divinity, as he himself confesseth, as well in his conference with Master Ridley, as also in his first sermon made upon the Pater noster. So that, whereas before he was an enemy, and almost a persecutor of Christ, he was now an earnest seeker after him, changing his old manner of calumnying into a diligent kind of conferring, both with Master Bilney and others, with whom he was often and greatly conversant. After this his winning to Christ, he was not satisfied with his own conversion only, but like a true disciple of the blessed Samaritan, pitied the misery of others; and therefore he became both a public preacher, and also a private instructor to the rest of his brethren, within the university, by the space of two years; spending his time partly in the Latin tongue amongst the learned, and partly among the simple people in his natural and vulgar language."
Of Bilney's confession Latimer says: "I learned more by his confession than before in many years. From that time forward I began to smell the Word of God and forsook the school doctors and such fooleries."
Latimer's fearless preaching soon got him into trouble. Numerous complaints against him caused his summons before the Cardinal Wolsey. More than once he appeared before Tonstall, Bishop of London, on charges of heresy. Like Joseph of old, God was with him and through the favour of Henry VIII he was first appointed vicar of West Kington in Wiltshire and afterwards Bishop of Worchester. His episcopate was short and stern. For four years he laboured diligently in the gospel, not allowing his office in any way to daunt his apostolic zeal. Many incidents illustrate his fearlessness for God. We give but two:-
"On new year's day, instead of carrying, according to the custom of that age, a rich gift to the king, he presented him with the New Testament, a leaf of which was turned down at this passage, 'Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.' This might have cost him his life; but bluff Hal, instead of being angry, admired the good man's courage. Upon a certain occasion, when preaching before Henry, Hugh, as was his wont, spake his mind very plainly, and the sermon displeased his majesty; he was therefore commanded to preach again on the next Sabbath, and make an apology for the offence he had given. After reading his text, the bishop thus began his sermon, 'Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou art this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king's most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life if thou offendest; therefore take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease! But then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest; upon whose message thou art sent? Even by the great and mighty God! who is all present! and who beholdest all thy ways! and who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully. He then proceeded with the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sabbath, but with considerably more energy. The sermon ended, the court were full of expectation to know what would be the fate of this honest and plain dealing bishop. After dinner, the king called for Latimer, and with a stern countenance asked him how he durst preach in such a manner. He, falling on his knees, replied, his duty to his God and his prince had enforced him thereto, and that he had merely discharged his duty and cleared his conscience by what he had spoken. Upon which the king, rising from his seat, and taking the good man by the hand, embraced him, saying, 'Blessed be God, I have so honest a servant'."
HIS FIRST IMPRISONMENT
When the semi popish Six Articles were adopted Latimer resigned his office. In resigning he stated, "Either I must lose the quiet of a good conscience or else must forsake my bishopric, I do therefore of my own free will and accord resign my pastorate."
Soon after, Latimer found himself in the Tower of London where he remained until King Edward came to the throne.
He refused his old bishopric which was offered to him on his release from the Tower, and instead devoted himself to the great work of preaching for which he was so evidently gifted. Going up and down the country he did more by his preaching to establish Reformation truth in England than any other of the Reformers. Of Latimer it could be said as of his Master, "the common people heard him gladly." He was indeed the people's preacher. The following extracts from his sermons aptly illustrate his pulpit style and power:
"Therefore the first point is to acknowledge our sins, and to be sorry for the same; but, as I said before, we must not tarry here; for Judas was come so far, he had this point; he was, no doubt, a sorrowful man as any can be in the world; but it was to no purpose; he was lost for all his sorrowfulness: therefore we must have another point."
"What is that? Marry, faith, belief: we must believe Christ, we must know that our Saviour is come into this world to save sinners: therefore he is called Jesus, because 'he shall save his people from their sins'; as the angel of God himself witnesseth. And this faith must not only be a general faith, but it must be a special faith. For the devil himself hath a general faith: he believeth that Christ is come into this world, and hath made a reconciliation between God and man; he knoweth that there shall be remission of our sins, but he believeth not that he shall have part of it; that his wickedness shall be forgiven unto him, this he believeth not; he hath but a general faith. But I say that everyone of us must have a special faith: I must believe for myself, that his blood was shed for me. I must believe that when Christ saith, 'Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will ease you'; here I must believe that Christ calleth me unto him, that I should come and receive everlasting life at his hands. With such a special faith I do apply his passion unto me."
"Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity, for as many as will believe the same. They that will not believe it, shall not have it; for it is no more, but believe and have."
Hugh Latimer had clear views of justification by faith. Have you thus believed to the saving of your soul?
"Let the papists go with their long faith. Be you contended with the short faith of the saints, which is revealed to us in the Word of God written. Adieu to all popish fantasies. Amen! For one man having the Scripture, and good reason for him, is more to be esteemed himself alone, than a thousand such as they, either gathered together or succeeding one another. The Fathers have both herbs and weeds, and Papists commonly gather the weeds, and leave the herbs."
HIS SECOND IMPRISONMENT
When Mary ascended the throne, Latimer was again imprisoned. He shared a cell in the Tower with Cranmer, Ridley and Bradford, three fellow martyrs. These four devoted the time of their imprisonment to the study of the New Testament with a view to the testing of Rome's pivot doctrine, transubstantiation. At the conclusion of a review of the whole testament they unanimously concluded that the Romish Mass, to use the Prayer Book description, was "a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit."
Latimer's behaviour in prison was typical of his love for Christ and passion for souls. He read through his New Testament seven times and spent so long in prayer that often he had to be assisted to his feet from his kneeling position The burden of his prayer was that God would help him to endure the fire, that God would once more restore the pure gospel to the realm of England and that the Princess Elizabeth would be preserved and made a comfort to the nation.
Latimer's intercession was not in vain.
As Latimer was burned at the same stake as Ridley, we will discuss their joint martyrdom after we consider the work and witness of Ridley.
What Hugh Latimer was as a preacher to the English Reformation, Nicholas Ridley was as a scholar. He had a distinguished University career. In 1518 he entered Pembroke College, Cambridge. His ability was soon manifested. He became a fellow of his College in 1524, Senior Proctor in 1533, Chaplain to the University and Public Orator in 1534, and eventually Master of Pembroke in 1540.
In 1534 he signed the decree against papal supremacy and shortly afterwards was appointed Chaplain to Cranmer. Cranmer gave him the living of Herne, East Kent in 1538. There he made a careful study of the Scriptures and by them was turned away from the Romish Mass to the Redeeming work of Christ on the Cross. The light he embraced he imparted to Cranmer and both of them repudiated publicly the doctrine of transubstantiation. Foxe speaks of his conversion thus:
"Now concerning God's vocation, how Doctor Ridley was first called to the savouring and favouring of Christ and His gospel, partly by his disputation before and other of his treatises, it may appear, that the first occasion of his conversion was by reading of Bertram's book of the Sacrament, whom also the conference with Bishop Cranmer and with Peter Martyr did not a little confirm in that behalf. We now by the grace of God, being thoroughly won and brought to the true way, as he was before blind and zealous in his old ignorance, so was he as constant and faithful in the right knowledge which the Lord had opened unto him (as well appeared by his preachings and doings during all the time of King Edward) and so long did much good, while authority of external power might defend and hold up the peace of the church and proceedings of the gospel."
Ridley's promotion was rapid. In 1540 he was appointed Chaplain to King Henry VIII, in 1541 Prebendary of Canterbury, in 1545 Prebendary of Westminster, in 1547 the Vicar of Soham, and in the same year Bishop of Rochester. He was translated from Rochester to London in 1550. In 1553 he was appointed by Edward, Bishop of Durham. He never took up this last appointment owing to the tragic death of the boy King.
The Romanists knew to their cost the ability of Ridley. One of them ably summed up the position of Ridley amongst the Reformers. "Latimer," he said, "leaneth on Cranmer, Cranmer on Ridley, and Ridley leaneth on his own singular wit."
Ridley had a large share in the arrangement of the Book of Common Prayer and the other ecclesiastical formularies of the Church of England. His Works display his scriptural knowledge and adherence to vital Protestant principles. The following titles show the field he covered in his controversy with Rome Treatise concerning Images, Answers to Queries concerning Abuses of the Mass, Brief Declaration of the Lord's Supper, Certain Godly and Comfortable Conferences between him and Mr Hugh Latimer during the time of their Imprisonment, A Friendly Farewell written during his Imprisonment at Oxford unto all his true lovers a little before his Death, A Piteous Lamentation of the Miserable State of the Church of England, in the time of the late Revolt from the Gospel, An Account of a Disputation held at Oxford in 1554, The Way of Peace among all Protestants, Certain Matters wherein Stephen Gardiner differeth from others of the Papists, and from himself as touching the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
Ridley's character is best summed up in the lines of Quarles:
"Read, in the progress of this blessed story,
Rome's cursed cruelty and Ridley's glory:
Rome's siren's song; but Ridley's careless ear
Was deaf: they charm'd, but Ridley would not hear.
Rome sung preferment, but brave Ridley's tongue
Condemned that false preferment which Rome sung.
Rome whispered death; but Ridley (whose great gain
Was godliness) he waved it with disdain.
Rome threatened durance, but great Ridley's mind
Was too, too strong for threats or chains to bind.
Rome thundered death, but Ridley's dauntless eye
Stared in death's face, and scorned death standing by,
In spite of Rome for England's faith he stood,
And in the flames he sealed it with his blood."
Nicholas Ridley was a faithful witness against the corruptions and deceits of popery. His testimony against the corruptions and deceits of popery is clear and plain: "The See of Rome is the seat of Satan, and the bishop of the same, that maintaineth the abominations thereof, is Antichrist himself indeed: and for the same causes this See at this day is the same that St. John calls, in his Revelation, Babylon, or the whore of Babylon, and spiritual Sodom and Egypt, the mother of fornicatlons and abominations on earth."
THE BURNING OF LATIMER AND RIDLEY
On October 16th 1555 Latimer and Ridley were burned at Oxford. Foxe's description of the scene could not be surpassed:
"Upon the north side of the town of Oxford, in the ditch over against Balliol 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, and 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 the bailiffs."
"Master Ridley had a fair black gown furred, and faced with foins, such as he was wont to wear, being Bishop, and tippet of velvet furred likewise about his neck, a velvet nightcap 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."
"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. All this 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."
"Then Master Ridley, looking back, espied Master Latimer coming after, unto whom he said, 'Oh, be ye there?' 'Yea,' said Master Latimer, 'I have after you 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 hands, looked towards heaven. Then shortly after espying Master Latimer, with a wondrous 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 on God as he. After they arose the one talked with the others little, while they which were appointed to see the execution removed themselves out of the sun. What they said I can learn of no man."
"Then the smith took a chain of Iron, and brought the same about both Dr. Ridley's and Master Latimer's middle; 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 his course.' Then his brother did bring him gunpowder in a bag, and would have tied the same about his neck. Master Ridley asked what it was. His brother said, 'Gunpowder.' 'Then,' said he, 'I will take it to be sent of God; therefore I will receive it as sent of Him. And have you any,'said he, 'for my brother?' meaning Master Latimer. 'Yea, sir, that I have,' quoth his brother. 'Then give it unto him,' said he, 'betime; lest ye come too late.' So his brother went, and carried of the same gunpowder unto Master Latimer."
"Then they brought a faggot, kindled with fire, and laid the same down at Dr. Ridley's feet. To whom Master Latimer spake in this manner: '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: Deomine, recipe spiritum meum.' And after repeated this latter part often in English, 'Lord, Lord, receive my spirit'; Master Latimer crying 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 hand, and as it were bathed them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeared) 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 Master Ridley, by reason of the evil making of the fire unto him, because the wooden faggots 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 of his pain (for the which course he gave attendance), as one in such sorrow not well advised what he did, he heaped faggots upon him, so that he clean covered him, which made the fire more vehement beneath, that it burned clean all his nether parts before it touched the upper; and that made him leap up and down under the faggots, and often desire them to let the fire come unto 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 shewed that side towards us clean, shirt and all untouched with flame. Yet in all his torment he forgot not to call unto God still, having in his mouth, 'Lord, have mercy upon me,' intermingling his 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 off the faggots about, and where he saw the fire flame up, he wrested 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; which, some said happened by reason that the chain loosed; others said, that he fell over the chain by reason of the poise of the body, and the weakness of the nether limbs."
Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury and the last of the reforming bishops to be burned.
Born in Nottinghamshire, Cranmer was not a Protestant when first appointed Archbishop. It was through Ridley, as we have already seen, that he was delivered from the snares of popery.
During the reigns of Henry and Edward, Cranmer maintained an unblemished character. Bishop Ryle testifies: "Not a single man can be named in those days who passed through so much dirt and yet came out of it so thoroughly undefiled."
Cranmer was, however, the only English Reformer who showed cowardice in the day of testing. As his fellows in tribulation, Carnmer stood firm at his examination and was consequently condemned degraded, and sentenced to be burned to death. Great pressures were brought upon him to recant and in the last month of his life this great and good man failed. The historian Strype records this heart rendering episode thus:
"Other historians speak of the Archbishop's recantation, which he made upon the Incessant solicitations and temptations of the popish zealots at Oxford, which unworthy compliance he was at last prevailed with to submit to, partly by the flattery and terror suggested to him, and partly by the hardship of his own straight imprisonment. Our writers mention only one recantation: and that Foxe hath set down; wherein they follow him. But this is but an imperfect relation of this good man's frailty. I shall therefore endeavour to set down this piece of his history more distinctly. There were several recanting writings to which he had subscribed one after another: for after the unhappy prelate by overpersuasion wrote one paper with his subscription set to it, which he thought to pen so favourably and dexterously for himself, that he might evade both the danger from the state, and the danger of his conscience too; that would not serve, but another was required as explanatory of that. And when he had complied with that, yet either because writ too briefly or too ambiguously, neither would that serve, but drew on a third, fuller and more expressive than the former. Nor could he escape so; but still a fourth and fifth paper of recantation were demanded of him to be more large and particular. Nay, and lastly a sixth, which was very prolix, containing an acknowledgement of all the forsaken and detested errors and superstitions of Rome, an abhorrence of his own books, and a vilifying of himself as a persecutor, a blasphemer, and a mischief maker; nay, and as the wickedest wretch that lived. And this was not all, but after they had thus humbled and mortified the miserable man with recantations, subscriptions, submissions, and abjurations, putting words into his mouth which his heart abhorred; by all this drudgery they would not permit him to redeem his unhappy life; but prepared him a renunciatory oration to pronounce publicly in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, immediately before he was led forth to burning. But here he gave his enemies, insatiable in their reproaches of him, a notable disappointment. They verily thought that when they had brought him thus far, he would still have said as they would have him. But herein their politics failed them; and by this last stretch of the cord all was undone, which they with so much art and labour had effected before. For the reverend man began indeed his speech according to their appointment and pleasure; but in the process of it, at that very cue when he was to own the Pope and his superstitions, and to revoke his own book and doctrine of the Sacrament which was to be brought in by this preface, that one thing above all the rest troubled his conscience beyond all that ever he did in his life, he, on the contrary, to their great astonishment and vexation, made that preface serve to his revocation and abhorrence of his former extorted subscriptions, and to his free owning and standing to his book written against transubstantiation, and the avowing the evangelical doctrines he had before taught."
In the final hour the true Cranmer was seen. His final words on the Pope were these: "And now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life; and this is, the setting abroad things contrary to the truth; which here I now renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand, contrary to the truth which I thought In my heart, and writ for fear of death, and to save my life, if it might be; and that is, all such bills, which I have written or signed with mine own hand since my degradation; wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for if I may come to the fire, it shall be first burned. And as for the Pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine."
Foxe tells of Cranmer's great triumph in death:
"And then Cranmer being pulled down from the stage, was led to the fire, accompanied with those friars, vexing, troubling, and threatening him most cruelly. 'What madness,' say they, 'hath brought thee again into this error, by which thou wilt draw innumerable souls with thee into hell?' To whom he answered nothing, but directed all his talk to the people saying that to one troubling him in the way, he spake, and exhorted him to get him home to his study, and apply the book diligently, saying if he did diligently call upon God by reading more he should get knowledge."
"But the other Spanish barker, raging and foaming, was almost out of his wits, always having this in his mouth, 'Didst thou it not'?"
"But when he came to the place where the holy bishops and martyrs of God, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, were burnt before him for the confession of the truth, kneeling down he prayed to God; and not long tarrying in his prayers, putting off his garments to his shirt, he prepared himself to death. His shirt was made long, down to his feet. His feet were bare; likewise his head, when both his caps were off, was bare, that one hair could not be seen upon it. His beard was long and thick, covering his face with marvellous gravity. Such a countenance of gravity moved the hearts both of his friends and of his enemies."
"Then the Spanish friars, John and Richard, of whom mention was made before, began to exhort him, and play their parts with him afresh, but with vain and lost labour. Cranmer, with stedfast purpose abiding in the profession of his doctrine, gave his hand to certain old men, and others that stood by, bidding them farewell."
"And when he had thought to have done so likewise to Ely the said Ely drew back his hand, and refused, saying it was not lawful to salute heretics, and specially such a one as falsely returned unto the opinions that he had foresworn. And if he had known before that he would have done so, he would never have used his company so familiarly, and chided those sergeants and citizens which had not refused to give him their hands. This Ely was a priest lately made, a student in divinity, being then one of the fellows of Brasennose."
"Then was an iron chain tied about Cranmer, whom when they perceived to be more steadfast than that he could be moved from his sentence, they commanded the fire to be set unto him."
"And when the wood was kindled and the fire began to burn near him, stretching out his arm, he put his right hand into the flame, which he held so steadfast and immovable, saving that once with the same hand he wiped his face, that all men might see his hand burned before his body was touched. His body did so abide the burning of the flame which such constancy and steadfastness that standing always in one place without moving his body, he seemed to move no more than the stake to which he was bound; his eyes were lifted up into heaven, and oftentimes he repeated 'this unworthy right hand', so long as his voice would suffer him; and using often the words of Stephen, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,' in the greatness of the flame he gave up the ghost."
So died the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, a veritable Samson slaying more in his death than in his life.
In concluding these messages we might well ask the question:
WHY WERE THESE BISHOPS BURNED?
They were burned by Rome because they contended for three great and vital gospel principles.
These gospel principles are most important. Obedience to God's Word is essential to salvation. Have you obeyed his Word? Trust in Christ's death is essential to salvation. Have you placed yourself on Christ's obedience and blood only for eternity? Saving faith is essential to salvation. Have you believed to the saving of your soul?
- The supremacy of Scripture versus the Supremacy of the Pope.
- The Sacrifice of Christ's Death versus the ever repeated, never final, blasphemous, Mass.
- Salvation by Faith Alone versus Salvation by works.
It is this message that these martyrs being dead yet speak. May you hear and your soul shall live.