Page images
PDF
EPUB

constant and quiet reason, proceeded from that man, declaring a firm and stable heart, little passing for all this great blustering of their terrible threats, but rather deriding the same.

Thus Master Latimer, passing a long time in the ' Tower, with as much patience as a man in his case could do, from thence was transported to Oxford, with Dr. Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, and Master Ridley, bishop of London, there to dispute upon articles, sent down from Gardiner, bishop of Winchester.

Latimer with his other fellow-prisoners were condemned after the disputations upon them, and so committed again to the prison, and there they continued from the month of April above mentioned to this present month of October, where they were most godly occupied, either with brotherly conference, or with fervent prayer, or with fruitful writing.

Albeit Master Latimer, by reason of the feeble.. ness of his age, wrote least of them all in this later time of his imprisonment, yet in prayer he was fervently occupied, wherein oftentimes so long he continued kneeling, that he was not able to rise without help, and amongst other things, these were thrce principal matters he prayed for.

First, that as God had appointed him to be a preacher of his word, so also he would give him grace to stand to his doctrine until his death, that he might give his heart blood for the saine.

Secondly, that God of his mercy would restore his Gospel to England once again ; and these words, " once again, once again,” he did so inculcate and beat into the ears of the Lord God, as though he had seen God before. him, and spoken to him face to face." The third matter was, to pray for the preservation

. DD 4 :

of the queen's majesty that now is *, whom in his prayer he was wont accustomably to name, and even with tears desired God to make her a comfort to this comfortless realm of England. These were the matters he prayed for so earnestly. Neither were these things of him desired in vain, as the good success thereof after following did declare, for the Lord most graciously did grant all those his requests.

First, concerning his constancy, even in the most extremity the Lord graciously assisted him. For when he stood at the stake without Bocardo gate at Oxford, and the tormentors about to set the fire to him and to the learned and godly bishop Master Ridley, he lifted up his eyes towards heaven with an amiable and comfortable countenance, saying these words: “ God is faithful, which doth not suffer us to be tempted above our strength.” And so afterward, by and by, shed his blood in the cause of Christ, the which blood ran out of his heart in such . abundance, that all those who were present, being godly, did marvel to see the most part of the blood in his body to be gathered to his heart, and with such violence to gush out, his body being opened by the force of the fire, by the which thing, God most graciously granted his request, which was, that he might shed his heart blood in the defence of the Gospel.:

How mercifully the Lord heard his second request in restoring his Gospel once again unto this realm, these present days can bear record. And what then shall England say now for her defence, which being so mercifully visited and refreshed with the word of God, so slenderly and unthankfully considereth either her own misery past, or the great benefit of God now present? The Lord be merciful unto us. Amen.

Again concerning his third request, it seemeth

* Queen Elizabeth.

likewise most effectuously granted to the great praise of God; the furtherance of his Gospel, and to the unspeakable comfort of this realm. For whether at the request of his prayer, or of other God's holy saints, or whether God was moved by the cry of his whole church, the truth is, that when all was deplorate and in a desperate case, and so desperate that the enemies mightily flourished and triumphed, God's word was banished ; Spaniards received ; no place left for Christ's servants to cover their heads; suddenly the Lord called to remembrance his mercy, and forgetting our former iniquity, made an end of all these miseries, and wrought a marvellous change of things. At the change whereof the said queen Elizabeth was appointed and anointed, for whom this grey-headed father so earnestly prayed in his imprisonment. Through whose true, natural, and imperial crown, the brightness of God's word was set up again to confound the dark and false vizored kingdom of Antichrist, the true temple of Christ reedified, the captivity of sorrowful Christians released, which so long was wished for in the prayers of so many good men, especially of this faithful and true servant of the Lord, Master Latimer.

Touching the memorable acts and doings of this worthy man, among many other this is not to be neglected, what a bold enterprise he attempted, in sending to king Henry a present, the manner whereof is this. There was then, and yet remaineth still, an old custom received from the old Romans, that upon New Year's Day, every bishop with some handsome New Year's gift should gratify the king. And so they did, some with gold, some with silver, some with a purse full of money, soine one thing and some another. But Master Latimer, being bishop of Worcester then, among the rest, presented a New Testament for his New Year's gift, with a napkin, having

. this verse about it, “ Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Bishops Ridley and Latimer were examined together before the commissioners appointed for their trial. When Latimer was called up the last time, he said to one of them, who was bishop of Lincoln, « My lord, if I appear again, I pray you, not to send for me until you be ready. For I am an old man, and it is great hurt to mine old age to tarry so long, gazing upon the cold walls.” . : The bishop of Lincoln replied, “ Master Latimer, I am sorry you are brought so soon, although it is the bailiff's fault, and not mine; but it shall be amended,”

Then Master Latiiner bowed his knee down to the ground, holding his bat in his hand, having a kerchief on his head, and upon it a nightcap or two (such as townsmen use, with two broad flaps to button under the chin), wearing an old threadbare Bristol frieze gown girder to his body with a penny leather girdle, at the which hung by a long string of leather his Testament, and his spectacles without case, depending about his neck upon his breast.

The bishop of Lincoln made a long exhortation to him to recant and conform to the Romish church, concluding thus: 66 Therefore, Master Latimer, for God's love consider your estate, remember you are a learned man, you have taken degrees in the school, you have borne the office of a bishop; remember you are an old man, spare your body, accelerate not your death, and especially remember your soul's health, quiet of your conscience; consider that if you should die in this state, you should be a stinking sacrifice to God; for it is the cause that maketh the martyr, and not the death : consider that if you die in this state, you die without grace, for without the church can be no salvation. Let not vain-glory have

the upper hand, humiliate yourself, captivate your understanding, subdue your reason, submit yourself to the determination of the church, do not force us to do all that we may do, let us rest in that part which we most heartily desire, and I for my part (then the bishop put off his cap) again with all my heart exhort you.”. í

After the bishop had somewhat paused, then Master Latimer lifted up his head (for before he leaned upon his elbow), and asked whether his lordship had said, and the bishop answered, “ Yea.” To which Latimer replied, “ Your lordship gently exhorted me in many words to come to the unity of the church. I confess (my lord) a Catholic church, spread throughout all the world, in the which no man may err, without the which unity of the church no man can be saved: but I know perfectly by God's word, that this church is in all the world, and hath not its foundation in Rome only, as you say, and methought your lordship brought a place out of the Scriptures to confirm the same, that there was a jurisdiction given to Peter, in that Christ bade him govern his people. Indeed, my lord, St. Peter did well and truly his office, in that he was bid to govern: but since that, the bishops of Rome have taken a new kind of governing. Indeed they ought to govern, but how, my lord ? Not as they will themselves : but this governing must be hedged and ditched in. They must rule, but according to the word of God."

The next morning he again replied to the .commissioners, saying, “ Your lordship often doth repeat the Catholic church ; as though I should deny the same. No, my lord, I confess there is a Catholic church, to the determination of which'I will stand, but not the church which you call Catholic, which sooner might be termed diabolic. And whereas you join together the Romish and Catholic church,

« PreviousContinue »