was not perfect but as Bishop J.C. Ryle was right when he said, “No man amidst
the faith of an evil age kept himself so pure as Thomas Cranmer”. What we want
to do in this address is to let Thomas Cranmer, stand forth as his own witness
and speak for himself and his beliefs.
Rome does not to hear ‑ but all the attempts to
silence Cranmer when he lived and since he was martyred by Rome are in vain.
Cranmer though dead yet speaketh and with what clarity and verity he does so.
and slander have been used against him but his word still rings loudly in the
anti‑papacy battle with the Pope viewed by the Reformer as the
McCullough’s famous prize volume is a book that anyone who wants to read the
book of our day about the Reformer should read it. Honesty silences Falsehood.
Of course Cranmer was not born and bred as Protestant. Cranmer has suffered by
the distortion of many unchallengable facts ‑ This age of ours deserves
to be acquainted with the facts. To refuse to listen to them exposes the
hyprocrisy and lying failures of Cranmer’s detractors.
real kernel of the controversy is the aim of Rome that she could by dishonesty
so change the circumstances and consequences of the Reformation that the
populous would come down on the side of the Pope.
did not happen but rather the opposite and was seen by even the Popes own men
who accepted the constitution foundations of the Reformation. The touch stone
of Church was wrested from the control and domination of the Pope of Rome.
That the great schism was clearly marked when the Constitution of our nation took
upon itself to declare that the pope had no more authority in England than any other foreign bishops. Dr. Hooks’ comment ought to be kept in mind. “The
real work of the Reformation was the changing of the mass into a Communion and
this involved the question of transubstantition. This was the test of the two
parties. It is not to be supposed that many could understand the merits of the
case, so far as the dogma was itself concerned; but as men can fight and die
for the flag which is carried in front of a regiment because it tells of the
side to which they belong, so by asserting or denying the dogma, they
proclaimed themselves Papists or Protestants. Henry VIII was dead before
Cranmer renounced transubstantition and until he did this, it is a mistake to
speak of him as a Protestant Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury by
Dr. W.F. Hook, Dean of Chichester Vol. 1 page 426.
was a Cambridge man. He commenced to study there in 1503 he became a fellow Jesus College. He refused to go to Woolsey’s New College, Oxford.
married when he was about 34 years of age. In a years time Cranmer lost his
wife and child at the child birth. He retired to his old college and became a
fellow of the same once again.
expressed himself strongly on the subject of Henry’s wife Katherine, who had
been King Henry’s own brother’s wife he was sent for by the King. He soon found
himself the champion of the Kings’ cause.
Pole, Cardinal, wrote a book against Henrys’ position and Cranmer refuted the
was employed by the King in many embassies. On the Continent of Europe he
became acquainted with the famous reformer Osiander of Nurenberg. He married
one of his kinswoman. He became acquainted with many prominent Reformation
made him, ‘Archbishop of Canterbury’. His second marriage was an obstacle to
his position and his wife for a long time had to be concealed.
was linked by the King in all his proceedings about Queen Katherine.
eventually pronounced the royal divorce. He drew upon him fierce hatred from
the Pope and the wrath of the papists of England.
daughter Mary took full revenge upon him when she came to the throne.
in parliament great disputes were held against the power of the Pope. Cranmer
laboured for the reformation of the Church and let it be said in his favour led
in the endeavours to save the lives of such Romanists as Sir Thomas More and
The publishing of the English Bible was the work which
delighted the heart of Cranmer. Cranmer’s letters to Thomas Cromwell on this
subject were most interesting. The Bible in the language of the English
people. What a signal of divine blessing! The First New Testament was first
printed and then burnt shortly afterward.
It was reprinted in 1530 and burnt again. It was published
in a meeting at the Star Chamber. The New Testament was printed a third time
and burnt yet again. The whole Bible was printed in 1537 ‑ The Matthew’s
Bible. In 1538 the Bible was printed in Paris. The printers fell into the
hands of the Roman Inquisition for
and were tortured and slaughtered. The largest Bible was
published in 1540. The Bible was again suppressed in 1542 ‑1543.
King Henry who had opposed the circulation of the Bible at
last wrote, ‘THE HOLY BIBLE SHOULD SET FORTH IN OUR TONGUE, TO THE END THAT
ENGLAND MIGHT THE BETTER ATTAIN TO THE SINCERITY OF CHRISTS’ DOCTRINE WHICH
THEY MIGHT DRAW OUT OF THE CLEAR FOUNTAIN AND SPRING OF THE GOSPEL.
The Archbishop fell into many troubles. The remnants of the
papal ascendancy rallied and prevailed. In 1546 Cranmer crowned young King
Edward, Henry VIII’s son to the throne.
1547 Cranmer published his children’s catechism. He had in 1549 Bishop Bonner
(Bloody Bonner as he was popularly named) deprived.
1549 he succeeded in getting the Book of Common Prayer ratified and confirmed.
‘So there was in December 25, a general letter drawn up to call the bishops of
England, and let them understand – ‘That there was no intention of bringing in
again Latin service, configured bread and water, nor any such abrogated
ceremonies; and that the abolishing of these, and the setting forth of the Book
of Common Prayer was done by the whole state of the realm. That the book was grounded
upon the Holy Scripture, and was agreeable to the order of the primitive Church
and much to the edifying of the subject; and therefore the changing of that for
the old Latin service would be a preferring of ignorance to knowledge, darkness
to light, and a preparation to bring in papistry and superstition again.”
of Thomas Cranmer by John Strype Vol.
1 page 279)
1550 Nicholas Ridley another of the yet to be martyred Bishops was made Bishop
of London and yet another John Hooper was nominated for the bishropic of
Gloucester, Hooper found it difficult to conform. He was put under Cranmer’s
custody and imprisoned in the Fleet prison. He conformed and took up his work
in both his dioceses of Worchester and Gloucester.
1551 Cranmer published his exposure against the bitter Papist Gardiner. In all
he wrote three books against Gardiner and his associate Smith.
openness of Cranmer was demonstrated. He states boldly and unapologetically.
‘This I confess of myself, that not long before I wrote the same catechism, I
was in error of the real presence, as I was many years past in many other
errors; as of transubstantiation, of the sacrifice propitiatory, of the priests
in the mass, of pilgrimage of purgatory, etc, being brought up from my youth in
them ‑ for that which and other offences of my youth. I do daily pray
unto God for mercy and pardon ‑ but after it pleased God to show me by
His Holy Word, a more perfect knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ ‑ I put
away my former ignorance. And as God gave me light, so through His grace I
opened my eyes to receive it ‑ and I trust in God’s mercy for pardon and
for my former errors.” (Strypes History Vol. 1.P33)
1553 the young King died.
was well said of him, “His singular excellency in all kinds of princely
towardliness to use the words of one who lived in those times was such, that no
place, no time, no cause, no book, no person either in public audience or else
in private company, made any mention of
him but thought himself even of every conscience bound to powder the same with
manifold praises on his incomparable virtues and gifts of grace.”
sunset brought in, by Edward’s birth, the storm of the Bloody Mary.
1553 Queen Mary was soon recognised, and just as quickly the Archbishop Cramer
was slandered and imprisoned. The year brought the beginning of Mary’s Bloody
Reign. Protestant Bishops and Clergy were cast into prison and deprived.
had to flee or be cast into the fire. The Parliament repealed Queen
Katherine’s divorce and Cranmer was blamed for the divorce. He was arraigned
for treason. In 1554 he was condemned as a heritick. In prison in England
Protestants were shamefully tortured and those exiled faced no better
treatment. In 1555 Cranmer saw his fellow bishops go to their burning. For
Cranmer, the Bloody Mary reserved a special death of ignominy, shame and
Romanists keep repeating that Cranmer’s was an English
Trial, and English sentence and an English Martyr’s Pyre. That is a lie, as
false as hell itself. The King of Spain, Mary’s husband and her Bloody Partner
and Mary herself reserved the Archbishop Cranmer for official papal execution.
had him cited to Rome. They had him ordered to appear before the Pope within
80 days to answer charges. Cranmer answered – “If your majesty give me leave I
will appear there. And I trust that God shall put in my mouth to defend His
truth there, as well as here.”
cruel blood‑thirsty queen and the equally cruel blood thirsty king never
intended Cranmer to appear in Rome. His trial was delegated to Pope Paul IV’s
Inquisition Chief, James Brooks, who followed the martyred John Hooper in the Gloucester bishoprick.
trial began on 12th September 1555 in the university Church of St. Mary the
Virgin at Oxford.
Brooks representing the Pope, sat on a scaffold, ten feet high, in front of the
high altar and below him were the two proctors of the King and Queen, Martin
and Story, electors of the civil law.
told them that his conscience would not allow him to acknowledge the
jurisdiction of the Pope, a foreigner.
rejected the claim that all emperors and kings hold their crowns and regalia
from the Pope and that he may dispose them when he list; which is high treason
for any man to affirm and think being born within the King’s dominion.” Rome passed judgment upon Cramner, on 14th December 1556.
dressed as an Archbishop, he was stripped by order of the Pope and then dressed
with a poor yeoman’s garment and a Townsman’s Cap.
was pressurised to recant and his recantations were published. Altogether he
signed seven submissions. He was to read
the last one before he burned.
said “And now I come to the great thing that so troubleth my conscience,
more than any other thing that I said or did in my life: and that is my setting
abroad of writings contrary to the truth, which here now I renounce and
refuse.” But to the consternation of his hearers, instead of making the
expected reference to his Eucharistic publications, he continued: “As things
written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and
written 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, it shall be first burned. And
as for the Pope, I refuse him as Christ’s enemy, and Antichrist, with all his
tells of Cranmer’s great triumph in death. And then, Cranmer being pulled down
from the stage, he 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 saving 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,
saving if he did diligently call upon God by reading more he should get
the other Spanish barker, raging and foaming, was almost out of his wits,
always having this in his mouth,
thou it not?”
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.
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.
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
with stedfact purpose abiding in the profession of his doctrine, gave his hand
to certain old men, and others that stood by, bidding them farewell.
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.
if he had know 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.
was an iron chaim tied about Cranmer, whom when they perceived to be more
steadfast than that he could be moved form his sentence, they commanded the
fire to be set unto him.
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 with 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
repreated ‘his unworthy right 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.”
died the first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, a veritable Samson slaying
more in his death than in his life. In concluding this address I might well
ask the question. Why was he burned?
was burned by Rome because He contended for three great and vital gospel
gospel principles are most important. Obedience to God’s Word is esesential to
salvation. Have you obeyed this 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 fanal blasphemous Mass.
Salvation by Faith Alone versus
Salvation by works.
is the message that these martrys, being dead, yet speak.
you hear and your soul shall live.