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Monday, September 25, 2017
Date Posted:

Latimer and Ridley
William Hunter
Cranmer - Hooper
Rose Allen
Events Today

Cranmer and Hooper

Faithful Unto Death - Chapter 4
Rev W St Clair Taylor
Adapted By Professor Arthur Noble

Cranmer, who had been companion of Ridley and Latimer, continued in prison for altogether three years. He was weak in body and racked with the fear of what awaited at the stake, for, let us make no mistake about it, this particular form of execution was indeed horrible beyond words. It was in such a state of mind as this that Cranmer's enemies succeeded in persuading him to sign a paper confessing that he was wrong and the Pope was right in his doctrine of transubstantiation. Now, this is a big word, isn't it? I will briefly explain its meaning:

The Communion Service was taken over by the Roman Church and converted into a spectacular ceremony known amongst Roman Catholics as the Mass, in which it is declared that after the words of consecration by the priest, the bread and wine are changed into the very substance of the Body and Blood of Christ. After the consecration, the bread, or more probably a circular wafer called the host, is elevated by the priest, a bell is rung to indicate that the miracle has been performed, and as the priest declares in Latin: "Behold, the Lamb of God", the whole congregation falls on its knees or faces in an act of worship.

In the Word of God such an act as this is condemned as rank idolatry, and it is blasphemy for any one to engage in such an act.

Article 31 of the Church of England's Articles of Religion - you will find the Thirty-Nine Articles", to which every clergyman must give his assent, in most prayer books - says that the "sacrifices of Masses" are "blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits". Knowing these sacrifices to be totally opposed to the Word of God, the Reformers protested against this doctrine of "transubstantiation" and were therefore put to death by the official order of the Roman Catholic Church.

When Cranmer had signed his recantation, he discovered that he had signed away his peace and joy. Prayer was no longer the joy it had been, and fellowship with God seemed impossible. On a certain day, however, he was brought before the public in St. Mary's Church, Oxford, to utter his recantation, so that all might hear it.

Nevertheless it was a very different confession to that which his enemies expected him to make, for instead of publicly recanting he publicly affirmed the wrong he had done in changing his mind, and confessed his faith in Jesus afresh. These are his words:

Cranmer's surprising confession. "And now I come to the great thing which so much troubleth my conscience, more than anything that ever I did or said in my whole life, and that is the setting abroad of a writing contrary to the truth, which now I here renounce and refuse, 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 and papers which I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand offendeth, writing contrary to my heart, my hand shall first be punished for it; for when I 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."
"Stop the heretic's mouth" When he uttered these words there was a tremendous hubbub in the Church, and a priest shouted out: "Stop the heretic's mouth"; and so he was hurried away to execution.

"And when they came to the place where the holy bishops and martyrs of God, Hugh Latimer and Ridley, were burned before him for the confession of the truth, he kneeled down and prayed to God, but did not tarry long in his prayers, for he put off his garments to his shirt and prepared himself for death.

"His shirt was made long down to his feet, which were bare, and his head, when both his caps were off, was so bare that not one hair could be seen upon it. His beard was long and thick, covering his face with marvellous gravity. Such a countenance of gravity moved the hearts of both his friends and enemies.

...stretching out his arm he put his right hand into the flame, which he held so stedfast and immovable that all men might see his hand burned before his body was touched. "Then an iron chain was tied about Cranmer and when they perceived him to be more steadfast than to be moved from his sentence, they commanded the fire to be set to 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 stedfast and immovable 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 stedfastness, 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 to 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." Thus under such terrible circumstances, the greatest English Archbishop of all time went to his reward.

"Their blood is shed
In confirmation of the noblest claim,
Our claim to feed upon immortal truth,
To walk with God, to be divinely free,
To soar and to anticipate the skies." - Cowper.

Five bishops martyred: Ridley, Cranmer, Latimer, Ferrar and Hooper. Altogether there were five bishops martyred in Queen Mary's reign. They were Ridley, Cranmer, Latimer, Ferrar and Hooper. Of course there were scores of other people put to death, some rich, some poor, but all witnessed the same good confession.

Of the Bishops, Hooper of Gloucester was undoubtedly the most vigorous in his condemnation of Romanism. He spoke of the mass as "the invention and ordinance of man, a sacrifice of Anti-christ and a forsaking of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.'' "The See of Rome," he said, "is not only a tyranny and pestilence of the body and soul, but the rest of all abomination."

Martyrdom of Hooper Of course, any man who made such pronouncements in that day ran the risk of death, and Hooper, who could not be tempted to change his mind on any pretext, was burnt outside his own Cathedral, at Gloucester, in February, 1556. When he was offered his pardon at the stake, he cried: "Away with it, away with it!"

Oh, that God would give us men like this today, who do not count the cost, but gladly give their lives for the cause they hold so dear.

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