CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY A
The Rev. Mr. Lawrence Saunders.
Mr. Saunders after passing some time in the school of Eaton, was chosen to go to King’s college in Cambridge, where he continued three years, and profited in knowledge and learning very much for that time shortly after he quitted the university, and went to his parents, but soon returned to Cambridge again to his study, where he began to add to the knowledge of the Latin, the study of the Greek and Hebrew tongues, and gave himself up to the study of the holy scriptures, the better to qualify himself for the office of preacher.
In the beginning of king Edward’s reign, when God’s true religion was introduced, after license obtained, he began to preach, and was so well liked of them who then had authority, that they appointed him to read a divinity lecture in the college of Fothringham. The college of Fothringham being dissolved, he was placed to be a reader in the minster at Litchfield. After a certain space, he departed from Litchfield to a benefice in Leicestershire, called Church-langton, where he held a residence, taught diligently, and kept a liberal house. Thence he was orderly called to take a benefice in the city of London, namely, All-hallows in Bread-street.—After this he preached at Northampton, nothing meddling with the state, but boldly uttering his conscience against the popish doctrines which were likely to spring up again in England, as a just plague for the little love which the English nation then bore to the blessed word of God, which had been so plentifully offered unto them.
The queen’s party, who were there, and heard him, were highly displeased with him for his sermon, and for it kept him among them as a prisoner. But partly for love of his brethren and friends, who were chief actors for the queen among them, partly because there was no law broken by his preaching, they dismissed him.
Some of his friends, perceiving such fearful menacing, counselled him to fly out of the realm, which he refused to do. But seeing he was with violence kept from doing good in that place, he returned towards London, to visit his flock.
In the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 15, 1554, as he was reading in his church to exhort his people, the bishop of London interrupted him, by sending an officer for him.
His treason and sedition the bishop’s charity was content to let slip until another time, but a heretic he meant to prove him, and all those, he said, who taught and believed that the administration of the sacraments, and all orders of the church, are the most pure, which come the nearest to the order of the primitive church.
After much talk concerning this matter, the bishop desired him to write what he believed of transubstantiation. Laurence Saunders did so, saying, “My Lord, you seek my blood, and you shall have it: I pray God that you may be so baptised in it that you may ever after loathe blood-sucking, and become a better man.” Upon being closely charged with contumacy, the severe replies of Mr. Saunders to the bishop, (who had before, to get the favour of Henry VIII. written and set forth in print, a book of true obedience, wherein he had openly declared queen Mary to be a bastard) so irritated him, that he exclaimed, Carry away this frenzied fool to prison.
After this good and faithful martyr had been kept in prison one year and a quarter, the bishops at length called him, as they did his fellow-prisoners, openly to be examined before the queen’s council.
His examination being ended, the officers led him out of the place, and staid until the rest of his fellow-prisoners were likewise examined, that they might lead them all together to prison.
After his excommunication and delivery over to the secular power, he was brought by the sheriff of London to the Compter, a prison in his own parish of Bread-street, at which he rejoiced greatly, both because he found there a fellow-prisoner, Mr. Cardmaker, with whom he had much christian and comfortable discourse; and because out of prison, as before in his pulpit, he might have an opportunity of preaching to his parishioners. The 4th of February, Bonner, bishop of London, came to the prison to degrade him; the day following, in the morning the sheriff of London delivered him to certain of the queen’s guard, who were appointed to carry him to the city of Coventry, there to be burnt.
When they had arrived at Coventry, a poor shoemaker, who used to serve him with shoes, came to him, and said, O my good master, God strengthen and comfort you. Good shoemaker, Mr. Saunders replied, I desire thee to pray for me, for I am the most unfit man for this high office, that ever was appointed to it; but my gracious God and dear Father is able to make me strong enough. The next day, being the 8th of February, 1555, he was led to the place of execution, in the park, without the city; he went in an old gown and a shirt, bare-footed, and oftentimes fell flat on the ground, and prayed. When he was come nigh to the place, the officer, appointed to see the execution done, said to Mr. Saunders, that he was one of them who married the queen’s realm, but if he would recant, there was pardon for him. “Not I,” replied the holy martyr, “but such as you have injured the realm. The blessed gospel of Christ is what I hold; that do I believe, that have I taught, and that will I never revoke!” Mr. Saunders then slowly moved towards the fire, sank to the earth and prayed; he then rose up, embraced the stake, and frequently said, “Welcome, thou cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life!” Fire was then put to the fagots, and, he was overwhelmed by the dreadful flames, and sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.
The history, imprisonment, and examinations, of Mr. John Hooper, Bishop of Worcester and Gloucester.
John Hooper, student and graduate in the university of Oxford, was stirred with such fervent desire to the love and knowledge of the scriptures, that he was compelled to remove from thence, and was retained in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel, as his steward, till Sir Thomas had intelligence of his opinions and religion, which he in no case did favour, though he exceedingly favoured his person and condition, and wished to be his friend. Mr. Hooper now prudently left Sir Thomas’ house and arrived at Paris, but in a short time returned into England, and was retained by Mr. Sentlow, till the time that he was again molested and sought for, when he passed through France to the higher parts of Germany; where, commencing acquaintance with learned men, he was by them free and lovingly entertained, both at Basil, and especially at Zurich, by Mr. Bullinger, who was his singular friend; here also he married his wife, who was a Burgonian, and applied very studiously to the Hebrew tongue.
At length, when God saw it good to stay the bloody time of the six articles, and to give us king Edward to reign over this realm, with some peace and rest unto the church, amongst many other English exiles, who then repaired homeward, Mr. Hooper also, moved in conscience, thought not to absent himself, but seeing such a time and occasion, offered to help forward the Lord’s work, to the uttermost of his ability.
When Mr. Hooper had taken his farewell of Mr. Bullinger, and his friends in Zurich, he repaired again into England in the reign of king Edward the Sixth, and coming to London, used continually to preach, most times twice, or at least once a day.
In his sermons, according to his accustomed manner, he corrected sin, and sharply inveighed against the iniquity of the world and the corrupt abuses of the church. The people in great flocks and companies daily came to hear his voice, as the most melodious sound and tune of Orpheus’ harp, insomuch, that oftentimes when he was preaching, the church would be so full, that none could enter further than the doors thereof. In his doctrine, he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the scriptures, perfect, in pains indefatigable, in his life exemplary.
Having preached before the king’s majesty, he was soon after made bishop of Gloucester. In that office he continued two years, and behaved himself so well, that his very enemies could find no fault with him, and after that he was made bishop of Worcester.
Dr. Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor for the space of two years and more, so long as the state of religion in king Edward’s time was sound and flourishing.
After he had been cited to appear before Bonner and Dr. Heath, he was led to the Council, accused falsely of owing the queen money, and in the next year, 1554, he wrote an account of his severe treatment during near eighteen months’ confinement to the Fleet, and after his third examination, January 28, 1555, at St. Mary Overy’s, he, with the Rev. Mr. Rogers, was conducted to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain till the next day at nine o’clock, to see whether they would recant. Come, brother Rogers, said Dr. Hooper, must we two take this matter first in hand, and begin to fry in these fagots? Yes, Doctor, said Mr. Rogers, by God’s grace. Doubt not, said Dr. Hooper, but God will give us strength; and the people so applauded their constancy, that they had much ado to pass.
January 29, bishop Hooper was degraded and condemned, and the Rev. Mr. Rogers was treated in like manner. At dark, Dr. Hooper was led through the city to Newgate; notwithstanding this secrecy, many people came forth to their doors with lights, and saluted him, praising God for his constancy.
During the few days he was in Newgate, he was frequently visited by Bonner and others, but without avail. As Christ was tempted, so they tempted him, and then maliciously reported that he had recanted. The place of his martyrdom being fixed at Gloucester, he rejoiced very much, lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, and praising God that he saw it good to send him among the people over whom he was pastor, there to confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them.
On Feb. 7th, he came to Gloucester, about five o’clock, and lodged at one Ingram’s house. After his first sleep, he continued in prayer until morning; and all the day, except a little time at his meals, and when conversing with such as the guard kindly permitted to speak to him, he spent in prayer.
Sir Anthony Kingston, at one time Doctor Hooper’s good friend, was appointed by the queen’s letters to attend at his execution. As soon as he saw the bishop he burst into tears. With tender entreaties he exhorted him to live. “True it is,” said the bishop, “that death is bitter, and life is sweet: but alas! consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet.”
The same day a blind boy obtained leave to be brought into Dr. Hooper’s presence. The same boy, not long before, had suffered imprisonment at Gloucester for confessing the truth. “Ah! poor boy,” said the bishop, “though God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what reason he best knoweth, yet he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge and of faith. God give thee grace continually to pray unto him, that thou lose not that sight, for then wouldst thou indeed be blind both in body and soul.”
When the mayor waited upon him preparatory to his execution, he expressed his perfect obedience, and only requested that a quick fire might terminate his torments. After he had got up in the morning, he desired that no man should be suffered to come into the chamber, that he might be solitary till the hour of execution.
About eight o’clock, on February 9, 1555, he was led forth, and many thousand persons were collected, as it was market-day. All the way, being straitly charged not to speak, and beholding the people who mourned bitterly for him, he would sometimes lift up his eyes towards heaven, and look very cheerfully upon such as he knew: and he was never known, during the time of his being among them, to look with so cheerful and ruddy a countenance as he did at that time. When he came to the place appointed where he should die, he smilingly beheld the stake and preparation made for him, which was near unto the great elm-tree over against the college of priests, where he used to preach.
Now, after he had entered into prayer, a box was brought and laid before him upon a stool, with 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, lord Chandois said, Seeing there is no remedy, despatch him quickly.
Command was now given that the fire should be kindled. But because there were not more green fagots than two horses could carry, it kindled not speedily, and was a pretty while also before it took the reeds upon the fagots. At length it burned about him, but the wind having full strength at that place, and being a lowering cold morning, it blew the flame from him, so that he was in a manner little more than touched by the fire.
Within a space after, a few dry fagots were brought, and a new fire kindled with fagots, (for there were no more reeds) and those burned at the nether parts, but had small power above, because of the wind, saving that it burnt his hair, and scorched his skin a little. In the time of which fire, even as at the first flame, he prayed, saying mildly, and not very loud, but as one without pain, O Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me, and receive my soul! After the second fire was spent, he wiped both his eyes with his hands, and beholding the people, he said with an indifferent loud voice, For God’s love, good people, let me have more fire! and all this while his nether parts did burn; but the fagots were so few, that the flame only singed his upper parts.
The third fire was kindled within a while after, which was more extreme than the other two. In this fire he prayed with a loud voice, Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit! And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, while the fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers’ ends, until by renewing the fire, his strength was gone, and his hand clave fast in knocking to the iron upon his breast. Then immediately bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.
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