CHAPTER XIII. PERSECUTIONS IN ENGLAND DURING THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY J
The following speech of Mr. Holland we are induced to give unabridged, as it contains a pointed charge, founded on the sins resulting from false doctrines; and, besides, is in itself a well-digested and just attack upon the tenets of popery.
“I may say to you, my lord, as Paul said to Felix and to the Jews, in the 22d of the Acts, and in the 15th of the first epistle to the Corinthians. It is not unknown to my master, to whom I was apprenticed, that I was of your blind religion—that which now is taught, and that I obstinately and wilfully remained in it, till the latter end of king Edward. Having liberty under your auricular confession, I made no conscience of sin, but trusted in the priests’ absolution, who for money did also some penance for me; which after I had given, I cared no farther what offences I did, no more than he did after he had my money, whether he tasted bread and water for me, or not: so that lechery, swearing, and all other vices, I accounted no offence of danger, so long as I could for money have them absolved. So straitly did I observe your rules of religion, that I would have ashes upon Ash Wednesday, though I had used ever so much wickedness at night. Though I could not in conscience eat flesh upon the Friday, yet I made no conscience at all of swearing, drinking, or gaming all night long: thus I was brought up, and herein I have continued till now of late, when God hath opened the light of his word, and called me by his grace to repent of my former idolatry and wicked life; for in Lancashire their blindness and whoredom is much more, than may with chaste ears be heard. Yet these my friends, who are not clear in these notable crimes, think the priest with his mass can save them, though they blaspheme God, and keep concubines besides their wives, as long as they live. Yea, I know some priests, very devout, my lord, yet such have six or seven children by four or five sundry women.
“Mr. Doctor, as to your antiquity, unity, and universality, (for these Dr. Chedsey alleged as notes and tokens of their religion,) I am unlearned. I have no sophistry to shift my reasons with; but the truth I trust I have, which needs no painted colours to set her forth. The antiquity of our church is not from pope Nicholas, nor pope Joan, but our church is from the beginning, even from the time that God said unto Adam, that the seed of the woman should break the serpent’s head; and so to faithful Noah; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom it was promised, that their seed should multiply as the stars in the sky; and so to Moses, David, and all the holy fathers that were from the beginning unto the birth of our Saviour Christ. All who believed these promises were of the church, though the number was oftentimes but few and small, as in Elias’ days, who thought he was the only one that had not bowed the knee to Baal, when God had reserved seven thousand that never had bowed their knees to that idol: as I trust there be seven hundred thousand more than I know of, that have not bowed their knee to that idol your mass, and your God Maozim; in the upholding of which is your bloody cruelty while you daily persecute Elias and the servants of God, forcing them (as Daniel was in his chamber) closely to serve the Lord their God; and even as we by this your cruelty are forced in the fields to pray unto God, that his holy word may be once again truly preached amongst us, and that he would mitigate and shorten these idolatrous and bloody days wherein all cruelty reigns. Moreover, of our church have been the apostles and evangelists, the martyrs and confessors of Christ, who have at all times and in all ages been persecuted for the testimony of the word of God. But for the upholding of your church and religion, what antiquity can you show? The mass indeed, that idol and chief pillar of your religion, is not yet four hundred years old, and some of your masses are younger, as that of St. Thomas a Becket, the traitor, wherein you pray, That you may be saved by the blood of St. Thomas. And as for your Latin service, what are we of the laity the better for it? I think if any one were to hear your priests mumble up their service, although he well understood Latin, yet he would understand very few words of it, the priests so champ them and chew them, and post so fast, that they neither understand what they say, nor they that hear them; and in the mean time the people, when they should pray with the priest, are set to their beads to pray our Lady’s Psalter. So crafty is Satan to devise these his dreams, (which you defend with fagot and fire,) to quench the light of the word of God; which, as David saith, should be a lantern to our feet. And again, Wherein shall a young man direct his way, but by the word of God? and yet you will hide it from us in a tongue unknown. St. Paul had rather have five words spoken with understanding, than ten thousand in an unknown tongue, and yet will you have your Latin service and praying in a strange tongue, whereof the people are utterly ignorant, to be of such antiquity.
“The Greek church, and a good part of Christendom besides, never received your service in an unknown tongue, but in their own natural language, which all the people understand; neither your transubstantiation, your receiving in one kind, your purgatory, your images, &c.
“As for the unity which is in your church, what is it but treason, murder, poisoning one another, idolatry, superstition, and wickedness? What unity was in your church, when there were three popes at once? Where was your head of unity when you had a woman pope?” Here he was interrupted, and was not suffered to proceed. The bishop said his words were blasphemous, and ordered the keeper to take him away. Bonner observing, on his second examination, that Holland said, he was willing to be instructed by the church, (meaning the true church,) he ordered the keeper to let him want for nothing, not even for money, by which conduct he hoped to inveigle him from the truth. This, however, upon his last examination did not produce the intended effect. Bonner spoke very handsomely to him, and assured him his former hasty answers should not operate against him, as he himself (the bishop) was sometimes too hasty, but it was soon over; he further said, that he should have consigned him to his own ordinary for examination, but for the particular interest he took in his welfare, for his and his friends’ sake. From this exordium he proceeded to the touchstone question of the real presence in the mass.
“Do you not believe, that, after the priest hath spoken the words of consecration, there remains the body of Christ, really and corporeally under the forms of bread and wine? I mean the self-same body as was born of the Virgin Mary, that was crucified upon the cross, that rose again the third day.” Holland replied, “Your lordship saith, the same body which was born of the Virgin Mary, which was crucified upon the cross, which rose again the third day: but you leave out ‘which ascended into heaven;’ and the Scripture saith, He shall remain until he come to judge the quick and the dead. Then he is not contained under the forms of bread and wine, by Hoc est corpus meum, &c.”
Bonner, finding no impression could be made upon his firmness, and that he himself could not endure to hear the mass, transubstantiation, and the worshipping the sacrament, denominated impious and horrid idolatry, pronounced the condemnatory sentence, adjudging him to be burnt.
During this fulmination, Holland stood very quiet, and when he was about to depart, he begged permission to speak a few words. The bishop would not hear him, but, at the intercession of a friend, he was permitted. In the following speech, there is a spirit of prophecy which entitles it to particular attention; they were not the words of a random enthusiast, but of one to whom God seems to have given an assurance, that the present abject state of his faithful people should shortly be altered.
Holland. “Even now I told you that your authority was from God, and by his sufferance: and now I tell you God hath heard the voice of his servants, which hath been poured forth with tears for his afflicted saints, whom you daily persecute, as now you do us. But this I dare be bold in God to say, (by whose Spirit I am moved,) that God will shorten your hand of cruelty, that for a time you shall not molest his church. And this you shall in a short time well perceive, my dear brethren, to be most true. For after this day, in this place, there shall not be any by him put to the trial of fire and fagot;” and after that day there were none that suffered in Smithfield for the truth of the gospel.
In reply, Bonner said, “Roger, thou art, I perceive, as mad in these thy heresies as ever was Joan Butcher. In anger and fume thou would become a railing prophet. Though thou and all the rest of you would see me hanged, yet I shall live to burn, yea, and I will burn all the sort of you that come into my hands, that will not worship the blessed sacrament of the altar, for all thy prattling;” and so he went his way.
Then Holland began to exhort his friends to repentance, and to think well of them that suffered for the testimony of the gospel, upon which the bishop came back, charging the keeper that no man should speak to them without his license; if they did, they should be committed to prison. In the mean time, Henry Pond and Holland spake to the people, exhorting them to stand firm in the truth; adding, that God would shorten these cruel and evil days for his elect’s sake.
The day they suffered, a proclamation was made, prohibiting every one from speaking or talking to, or receiving any thing from them, or touching them, upon pain of imprisonment without either bail or mainprize. Notwithstanding, the people cried out, “God strengthen them!” They also prayed for the people, and the restoration of his word. Embracing the stake and the reeds, Holland said these words:
“Lord, I most humbly thank thy Majesty, that thou hast called me from the state of death unto the light of thy heavenly word, and now unto the fellowship of thy saints, that I may sing and say, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts! And, Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit! Lord, bless these, thy people, and save them from idolatry.” Thus he ended his life, looking towards heaven, praying to, and praising God, with the rest of his fellow saints. These seven martyrs were consumed, June 27, 1558.
The names of the six martyrs taken in company with those who were apprehended in the close, near Islington, were R. Mills, S. Cotton, R. Dynes, S. Wright, J. Slade, and W. Pikes, tanner. They were condemned by Bonner’s chancellor in one day, and the next day a writ was sent to Brentford for their execution, which took place, July 14, 1558.
Flagellations by Bonner.
When this catholic hyena found that neither persuasions, threats, nor imprisonment, could produce any alteration in the mind of a youth named Thomas Hinshaw, he sent him to Fulham, and during the first night set him in the stocks, with no other allowance than bread and water. The following morning he came to see if this punishment had worked any change in his mind, and finding none, he sent Dr. Harpsfield, his archdeacon, to converse with him. The Doctor was soon out of humour at his replies, called him peevish boy, and asked him if he thought he went about to damn his soul? “I am persuaded,” said Thomas, “that you labour to promote the dark kingdom of the devil, not for the love of the truth.” These words the doctor conveyed to the bishop, who, in a passion that almost prevented articulation, came to Thomas, and said, “Dost thou answer my archdeacon thus, thou naughty boy? But I’ll soon handle thee well enough for it, be assured!” Two willow twigs were then brought him, and causing the unresisting youth to kneel against a long bench, in an arbour in his garden, he scourged him till he was compelled to cease for want of breath and fatigue, being of a punchy and full-bellied make. One of the rods was worn quite away.
Many other conflicts did Hinshaw undergo from the bishop; who, at length, to remove him effectually, procured false witnesses to lay articles against him, all of which the young man denied, and, in short, refused to answer to any interrogatories administered to him. A fortnight after this, the young man was attacked by a burning ague, and at the request of his master, Mr. Pugson, of St. Paul’s church-yard, he was removed, the bishop not doubting that he had given him his death in the natural way; he however remained ill above a year, and in the mean time queen Mary died, by which act of providence he escaped Bonner’s rage.
John Willes was another faithful person, on whom the scourging hand of Bonner fell. He was the brother of Richard Willes, before mentioned, burnt at Brentford. Hinshaw and Willes were confined in Bonner’s coal house together, and afterward removed to Fulham, where he and Hinshaw remained during eight or ten days, in the stocks. Bonner’s persecuting spirit betrayed itself in his treatment of Willes during his examinations, often striking him on the head with a stick, seizing him by the ears, and filipping him under the chin, saying he held down his head like a thief. This producing no signs of recantation, he took him into his orchard, and in a small arbour there he flogged him first with a willow rod, and then with birch, till he was exhausted. This cruel ferocity arose from the answer of the poor sufferer, who, upon being asked how long it was since he had crept to the cross, replied, “Not since he had come to years of discretion, nor would he, though he should be torn to pieces by wild horses.” Bonner then bade him make the sign of the cross on his forehead, which he refused to do, and thus was led to the orchard.
The communications that took place between Bonner and Willes are too tedious to give in detail. The reader would smile to read the infatuated simple reasons with which the bishop endeavoured to delude the ignorant. He strongly urged the impropriety of his meddling with matters of scripture; adding, “If thou wilt believe Luther, Zuinglius, and other protestant authors, thou canst not go right; but in believing me, there can be no error!—and, if there be, thy blood will be required at our hands. In following Luther, and the heretics of latter days, now wilt thou come to the place thou askest for?—They will lead thee to destruction, and burn thy body and soul in hell, like all those who have been burnt in Smithfield.”
The bishop continued to afflict him in his examinations, in which, among other things, he said, “They call me bloody Bonner!—A vengeance on you all! I would fain be rid of you, but you have a delight in burning. Could I have my will, I would sew up your mouths, put you in sacks, and drown you!”
What a sanguinary speech was this, to proceed from the mouth of one who professed to be a minister of the gospel of peace, and a servant of the Lamb of God!—Can we have an assurance that the same spirit does not reign now, which reigned in this mitred catholic?
One day, when in the stocks, Bonner asked him how he liked his lodging and fare. “Well enough,” said Willes, “might I have a little straw to sit or lie upon.” Just at this time came in Willes’ wife, then largely pregnant, and entreated the bishop for her husband, boldly declaring that she would be delivered in the house, if he were not suffered to go with her. To get rid of the good wife’s importunity, and the trouble of a lying-in woman in his palace, he bade Willes make the sign of the cross, and say, In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. Willes omitted the sign, and repeated the words, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.” Bonner would have the words repeated in Latin, to which Willes made no objection, knowing the meaning of the words. He was then permitted to go home with his wife, his kinsman Robert Rouze being charged to bring him to St. Paul’s the next day, whither he himself went, and, subscribing to a Latin instrument of little importance, was liberated. This is the last of the twenty-two taken at Islington.
Rev. Richard Yeoman.
This devout aged person was curate to Dr. Taylor, at Hadley, and eminently qualified for his sacred function. Dr. Taylor left him the curacy at his departure, but no sooner had Mr. Newall gotten the benefice, than he removed Mr. Yeoman, and substituted a Romish priest. After this he wandered from place to place, exhorting all men to stand faithfully to God’s word, earnestly to give themselves unto prayer, with patience to bear the cross now laid upon them for their trial, with boldness to confess the truth before their adversaries, and with an undoubted hope to wait for the crown and reward of eternal felicity. But when he perceived his adversaries lay wait for him, he went into Kent, and with a little packet of laces, pins, points, &c. he travelled from village to village, selling such things, and in this manner subsisted himself, his wife, and children.
At last Justice Moile, of Kent, took Mr. Yeoman, and set him in the stocks a day and a night; but, having no evident matter to charge him with, he let him go again. Coming secretly again to Hadley, he tarried with his poor wife, who kept him privately, in a chamber of the town-house, commonly called the Guildhall, more than a year. During this time the good old father abode in a chamber locked up all the day, spending his time in devout prayer, in reading the Scriptures, and in carding the wool which his wife spun. His wife also begged bread for herself and her children, by which precarious means they supported themselves. Thus the saints of God sustained hunger and misery, while the prophets of Baal lived in festivity, and were costily pampered at Jezebel’s table.
Information being at length given to Newall, that Yeoman was secreted by his wife, he came, attended by the constables, and broke into the room where the object of his search lay in bed with his wife. He reproached the poor woman with being a whore, and would have indecently pulled the clothes off, but Yeoman resisted both this act of violence and the attack upon his wife’s character, adding that he defied the pope and popery. He was then taken out, and set in the stocks till day.
In the cage also with him was an old man, named John Dale, who had sat there three or four days, for exhorting the people during the time service was performing by Newall and his curate. His words were, “O miserable and blind guides, will ye ever be blind leaders of the blind? will ye never amend? will ye never see the truth of God’s word? will neither God’s threats nor promises enter into your hearts? will the blood of the martyrs nothing mollify your stony stomachs? O obdurate, hard-hearted, perverse, and crooked generation! to whom nothing can do good.”
These words he spake in fervency of spirit against the superstitious religion of Rome; wherefore parson Newall caused him forthwith to be attached, and set in the stocks in a cage, where he was kept till Sir Henry Doile, a justice, came to Hadley.
When Yeoman was taken, the parson called earnestly upon Sir Henry Doile to send them both to prison. Sir Henry Doile as earnestly entreated the parson to consider the age of the men, and their mean condition; they were neither persons of note nor preachers; wherefore he proposed to let them be punished a day or two and to dismiss them, at least John Dale, who was no priest, and therefore, as he had so long sat in the cage, he thought it punishment enough for this time. When the parson heard this, he was exceedingly mad, and in a great rage called them pestilent heretics, unfit to live in the commonwealth of Christians. Sir Henry, fearing to appear too merciful, Yeoman and Dale were pinioned, bound like thieves with their legs under the horses’ bellies, and carried to Bury jail, where they were laid in irons; and because they continually rebuked popery, they were carried into the lowest dungeon, where John Dale, through the jail-sickness and evil-keeping, died soon after: his body was thrown out, and buried in the fields. He was a man of sixty-six years of age, a weaver by occupation, well learned in the holy Scriptures, steadfast in his confession of the true doctrines of Christ as set forth in king Edward’s time; for which he joyfully suffered prison and chains, and from this worldly dungeon he departed in Christ to eternal glory, and the blessed paradise of everlasting felicity.
After Dale’s death, Yeoman was removed to Norwich prison, where, after strait and evil keeping, he was examined upon his faith and religion, and required to submit himself to his holy father the pope. “I defy him, (quoth he,) and all his detestable abomination: I will in no wise have to do with him.” The chief articles objected to him, were his marriage and the mass sacrifice. Finding he continued steadfast in the truth, he was condemned, degraded, and not only burnt, but most cruelly tormented in the fire. Thus he ended this poor and miserable life, and entered into that blessed bosom of Abraham, enjoying with Lazarus that rest which God has prepared for his elect.
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