The English Reformation        
      and its Vital Lessons

Notes mostly from books by J.C. Ryle, Marcus Loane, Merle d'Aubigne etc

Why the Reformation?
Why were Reformers burned?
Reformation Leaders - Mostly Martyrs!
      John Wycliffe
      Thomas BIlney
      William Tyndale
      John Rogers
      John Hooper
      Rowland Taylor
      Hugh Latimer
      John Bradford
      John Leaf
      Laurence Saunders
      Nicholas Ridley
      John Philpot
      Thomas Cranmer
Post Reformation
      Archbishop Laud - a Major Disaster
      Richard Baxter and the Puritans
      James II and the 7 Bishops
Conclusion and Some Lessons
Outline of History
Principal Martyrs in Henry's Reign
Principal Martyrs in Mary's Reign

Why the Reformation?

The soul of man always tends to corruption. In the 'Dark Ages' the church nearly died - sloth, compromise, power, corruption. Kept alive by the grace of God. His Spirit raised many to life. Today the English churches are too often ignorant of the Reformation that John Wycliffe began in this land and most underestimate the importance of the Reformation and few of the Martyrs names are even known. They hesitate to lay any criticism at Rome's door through fear of offending our 'brothers'. Bishop Ryle highlighted the issue of salvation and clearly saw the dangers of compromise. A building can be ruined by dry rot as well as poor foundations. Rome has always added the authority of the church to the authority of Scripture. True Salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone in Christ alone. Sacraments given by a priest can be helpful but are not essential. Many are the grievous errors of the Church of Rome; including the murder of Bible translators and Protestant Believers for which there has been no repentance. These notes have been largely compiled using Ryle's book 'Light from Old Times'. All men would do well to heed the lessons that he learned and taught from history, if they desire to strengthen the true Protestant Church.

Reformation is needed in every age and by every man in every age.
      It deeply affects the political, social and spiritual life of the nation.

Why were Reformers burned?       [Contents]

The world is determined to forget, ignore or try to ridicule inconvenient facts. The truth of God's creation and his just judgement of the world in Noah's day and in the last evil days are each scoffed at today - just as Peter prophesied.  2Pe 33-7

Modern men even in the church also forget the importance of the Reformation and especially the reasons that many gave their lives for vital biblical truth. Most think it wrong to remember that the Roman Church burned the Reformation martyrs in the days of Henry VIII and ‘Bloody Mary’ because it reveals the gross Catholic errors. Yet the impact of having the Scriptures in English on the history of this country is as much or even greater than Agincourt or Trafalgar! Ryle was determined to unstop the old wells of truth which the prince of this world had been busy filling in with earth.

Henry VIII started well, but was soon corrupted by power. Theologically he remained a Catholic all his life and never embraced the principles of the Protestant Reformation of salvation by faith in Christ alone and the supremacy of Scripture. His separation from Rome was the inevitable result of a contest of power - who ruled England - the Roman Church or Henry? And who gained the huge wealth that the church gathered each year - Rome or Henry? To whom did the people give their allegiance and their wealth? Henry only had one answer to this. He was also determined to leave the stability of an undisputed male heir to the throne. This motive was mixed with a strong desire for ladies of his choice. It proved dangerous to stand in Henry's determined path. Many died for different reasons during his 38 year reign. Of his 6 wives, one died, two were divorced and two were executed. The Catholics Thomas More and Cardinal Fisher were executed for standing against Henry. Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Bilney, William Tyndale, John Brown, John Firth, Dr Barnes, and Anne Askew were burned at the stake for their faith during his reign. They were tortured and died in the flames for believing the scriptures rather than the arrogance of men. Foxe also records the following: John Tewkesbury, James Baynham, Traxnal, Cowbridge, Purderve, William Letton, Nicholas Peke, Thomas Garnet, William Jerome, Thomas Sommers , Antony Parsons , Thomas Bainard and James Moreton (these last two for reading the Lord's Prayer in English and reading the epistle of James in English!) Though many of these names (and more) are generally unknown today, God is pleased to honour such men and reward them appropriately for all eternity. In the gracious plan of God, England under Henry was largely freed from the domination of Rome, though Catholic error was still strong in the church. Amazingly, Henry also ordered the 'Great Bible' in English to be placed on the lecterns of every parish in the land. So for the first time all who could read were able to study the glorious truth of Scripture and discard the revealed errors of Rome. Many heard and were saved.

Henry VIII died in 1547, to be succeeded by his son Edward VI by Jane Seymour. He was only 9 years old and 'reigned' for just 6 years. Furthermore his health was always poor. But under the strongly Protestant Regency Council, Cranmer was able to introduce the Book of Common Prayer and many other protestant refoms.

In 1553 Edward VI died; to be succeeded by Mary - a zealous and narrow-minded Papist. Without hesitation she marched England back to Rome, restored the Mass, banned foreign Protestants and the works of Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Cranmer ... Punishment for refusing to recant from the truth and return to Rome was that she ordered 288 to be burned alive in 1555 to 1588. These included 1 archbishop, 4 bishops and 21 clergy, 55 were women and 4 were children. None were thieves, murderers, immoral or drunkards; but were holy, learned and loyal Christians. Rome made it very clear to all open-minded men that a church which committed such horrible bloodshed could never be trusted as the true church. Rome did itself much harm in this land. Some have sought to blame the civil authorities; but it is like trying to blame Pilate for the crucifixion of Jesus!

Why were such men burned at the stake in 1555/6:
John Rogers burned at Smithfield 4th Feb. Vicar, assisted Tyndale.
John Hooper burned at Gloucester 9th Feb. Bishop who denounced sin.
Rowland Taylor burned at Hadleigh, Suffolk 9th Feb. Rector, Friend of Cranmer.
Robert Ferrar burned at Carmarthen, 30th March. Bishop, Chaplain to Cranmer.
John Bradford burned at Smithfield,1st July. Chaplain to Ridley.
Nicolas Ridley burned at Oxford 16th Oct. Bishop of London.
Hugh Latimer burned at Oxford 16th Oct. Bishop of Worcester.
John Philpot burned at Smithfield 18th Dec. Archdeacon of Winchester.
Thomas Cranmer burned at Oxford 21st March 1556. Archbishop.

Why were these all condemned to die by Mary? It was not primarily concerned with the independence of the Church of England, but with whether they believed in the Roman Mass, which asserted a 'Real Presence' of the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Lord's Table. Agree with Rome and they lived, disagree and they died! Why is this so important? Romish Mass requires a special priest to say certain words over the natural elements. Christ told us to remember him whenever we eat and drink. He never envisioned each family having a priest in their home at every meal! Jesus declared on the cross, "It is finished". The Mass proclaims it isn't finished and re-enacts the sacrifice. It is thus a lie that conveniently gives the priest a power over the laity that was never intended. A sacrifice that has to be repeated is not 'finished'. The Mass denies that Christ on the cross offered 'a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world'; that his perfect offering once and for all renders any further sacrifice unnecessary. On the cross Jesus Christ fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets. This is the one central issue that these 288 glorified martyrs declared and refused to make a false statement just to please deluded men (and women) from Rome.

Ryle in about 1860 asks how this affected the people of England? And we will ask the same question nearly 160 years later. He said the rise of Ritualism was a most dark, satanic distraction. The correct diagnosis of a disease is the first vital step in securing an effective treatment. The problem is not one of vestments, candles, bowings and crossings which reveal the poison, as does the 'reserving of the sacrament'. "They are but the curling smoke of a hidden volcano of mischief."

Ryle continues, "a conspiracy has long been at work to un-Protestantize the Church of England. ... We are in imminent peril of re-union with Rome." Ryle was correct when he wrote that a large part of the church would love to see this happen. Today the ecumenical movement's objective has only been delayed by the ordination of women and the tacit approval of homosexual priests! A minister once asked me what I thought about women priests. I replied, "It's not women priests that I have problem with, but priests who deny the priesthood of all believers!" He was a little shocked, but we were friends and he took it well. The perils for any church that unites with Rome cannot be overemphasised. The church without the true unadulterated gospel is like a well without water, a scabbard without a sword or a fig-tree without figs!

But so long as the Articles and the Formularies are not Romanized and Christ and the Bible is still seen to be on the throne, let us not abandon ship. Rather let us remember what these mighty reformers stood for and follow their example whatever the cost.

Today (in 2017) we have a clever liberal, pro-homosexual, pro-ecumenical Archbishop (Welby), appointed by Tony Blair while he was Prime Minister and a Protestant, but who now has transferred to the Roman Catholic church. The outlook for the church of England led by such an Archbishop is bleak and probably even darker than in Ryle’s day. But there is a strong evangelical part of the church, so we earnestly pray that Biblical truth may yet prevail and save some. The current Pope Francis 'regrets the reformation' but does not repent or admit any wrongdoing when they burned alive at the stake so many godly men and vehamently opposed any publication of the Scriptures in English, which revealed their gross errors. The major modern errors of the RC Church are listed in '24 Roman Catholic Errors'.  (Use back arrow to return)

What were these brave Reformation Reformers willing to face? What are we willing to face?
How was God's amazing grace revealed by their example and their teaching?
How aware are we of the great dangers that true Christians face today?
      See 'Danger in the Church Today'.  (Use back arrow to return)

Reformation Leaders, mostly Martyrs!

John Wycliffe (1324-1384) "The Morning Star of the English Reformation."       [Contents]

From the 7th to the 16th century this country was totally under the Pontiff of Rome. and "England seems to have been buried under a mass of ignorance, superstition, priestcraft and immorality." Today it would appear to be very similar, except that ecumenism, multi-faith, multi-culture have replaced the Roman 'priestcraft'. God in his grace revealed a far better way to Wycliffe:
1.  the supremacy of Scripture
2.  the errors of Rome
3.  the value of preaching
4.  the importance of translating the Scriptures into English.
What a list! Remember he was the first; he was not just an able communicator repeating what others had previously said. This was all new, fresh and startling in these 'dark ages' to an immoral and stupefied people who had little hunger for God. A church that does not preach, and honour and obey Scripture, is like a steam engine without fire, a soldier without a weapon or a sailor without a compass. Any nation that discards the Law of God and the teaching of his Word will quickly decline. Under the gracious direction of the Lord Almighty, this man sowed the first seeds that would so greatly enrich this nation for over 600 years.

Wycliffe bravely stood for and argued: for Scriptures as the authoritative centre of Christianity, that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments. Perhaps it is not surprising that in 1428, 44 years after he died, Pope Martin revealed his hatred when he ordered Wycliffe’s corpse to be exhumed and burned and the ashes to be thrown into the river Swift that flows through Lutterworth. But it was too late! His work had been finished and others would carry the torch and deliver England from the Roman evil.

Erasmus (1466-1536)       [Contents]
Greek and Latin New Testaments

In 1499, while in England, Erasmus was particularly impressed by the Bible teaching of John Colet who pursued a style more akin to the church fathers than the Scholastics. This prompted him, upon his return from England, to master the Greek language, which would enable him to study theology on a more profound level and to prepare a new edition of Jerome's Bible translation. On one occasion he wrote Colet: "I cannot tell you, dear Colet, how I hurry on, with all sails set, to holy literature. How I dislike everything that keeps me back, or retards me".

Despite a chronic shortage of money, he succeeded in learning Greek by an intensive, day-and-night study of three years, continuously begging his friends to send him books and money for teachers in his letters. Discovery in 1506 of Lorenzo Valla's New Testament Notes encouraged Erasmus to continue the study of the New Testament.

Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression. Throughout his life, he was offered many positions of honor and profit throughout the academic world but declined them all, preferring the uncertain but sufficient rewards of independent literary activity. From 1506 to 1509, he was in Italy: in 1506 he graduated as Doctor of Divinity at the Turin University, and he spent part of the time as a proofreader at the publishing house of Aldus Manutius in Venice. According to his letters, he was associated with the Venetian natural philosopher, Giulio Camillo, but, apart from this, he had a less active association with Italian scholars than might have been expected.

His residence at Leuven, where he lectured at the Catholic University, exposed Erasmus to much criticism from those ascetics, academics and clerics hostile to the principles of literary and religious reform and the loose norms of the Renaissance adherents to which he was devoting his life. In 1517, he supported the foundation at the University, by his friend Jeroen Van Busleyden, of the Collegium Trilingue for the study of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek--after the model of the College of the Three Languages at the University of Alcalá. However, feeling that the lack of sympathy which prevailed at Leuven at that time was actually a form of mental persecution, he sought refuge in Basel, where under the shelter of Swiss hospitality he could express himself freely. Admirers from all quarters of Europe visited him there and he was surrounded by devoted friends, notably developing a lasting association with the great publisher Johann Froben.

Only when he had mastered Latin did he begin to express himself on major contemporary themes in literature and religion. He felt called upon to use his learning in a purification of the doctrine by returning to the historic documents and original languages of sacred Scripture. He tried to free the methods of scholarship from the rigidity and formalism of medieval traditions, but he was not satisfied with this. His revolt against certain forms of Christian monasticism and scholasticism was not based on doubts about the truth of doctrine, nor from hostility to the organization of the Church itself, nor from rejection of celibacy or monastical lifestyles. He saw himself as a preacher of righteousness by an appeal to reason, applied frankly and without fear of the magisterium. He always intended to remain faithful to Catholic doctrine, and therefore was convinced he could criticize frankly virtually everyone and everything. Aloof from entangling obligations, Erasmus was the centre of the literary movement of his time, corresponding with more than five hundred men in the worlds of politics and of thought.

Publication of the Greek New Testament

The first New Testament printed in Greek was part of the Complutensian Polyglot. This portion was printed in 1514, but publication was delayed until 1522 by waiting for the Old Testament portion, and the sanction of Pope Leo X. Erasmus had been working for years on two projects: a collation of Greek texts and a fresh Latin New Testament. In 1512, he began his work on this Latin New Testament. He collected all the Vulgate manuscripts he could find to create a critical edition. Then he polished the Latin. He declared, "It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin." In the earlier phases of the project, he never mentioned a Greek text: "My mind is so excited at the thought of emending Jerome's text, with notes, that I seem to myself inspired by some god. I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense."

While his intentions for publishing a fresh Latin translation are clear, it is less clear why he included the Greek text. Though some speculate that he intended to produce a critical Greek text or that he wanted to beat the Complutensian Polyglot into print, there is no evidence to support this. He wrote, "There remains the New Testament translated by me, with the Greek facing, and notes on it by me." He further demonstrated the reason for the inclusion of the Greek text when defending his work: "But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator's clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep."

So he included the Greek text to permit qualified readers to verify the quality of his Latin version. But by first calling the final product Novum Instrumentum omne ("All of the New Teaching") and later Novum Testamentum omne ("All of the New Testament") he also indicated clearly that he considered a text in which the Greek and the Latin versions were consistently comparable to be the essential core of the church's New Testament tradition.

In a way it is legitimate to say that Erasmus "synchronized" or "unified" the Greek and the Latin traditions of the New Testament by producing an updated version of either simultaneously. Both being part of canonical tradition, he clearly found it necessary to ensure that both were actually presenting the same content. In modern terminology, he made the two traditions "compatible". This is clearly evidenced by the fact that his Greek text is not just the basis for his Latin translation, but also the other way round: there are numerous instances where he edits the Greek text to reflect his Latin version. For instance, since the last six verses of Revelation were missing from his Greek manuscript, Erasmus translated the Vulgate's text back into Greek. Erasmus also translated the Latin text into Greek wherever he found that the Greek text and the accompanying commentaries were mixed up, or where he simply preferred the Vulgate's reading to the Greek text.

Erasmus said it was "rushed into print rather than edited", resulting in a number of transcription errors. After comparing what writings he could find, Erasmus wrote corrections between the lines of the manuscripts he was using (among which was Minuscule 2) and sent them as proofs to Froben. His hurried effort was published by his friend Johann Froben of Basel in 1516 and thence became the first published Greek New Testament, the Novum Instrumentum omne, diligenter ab Erasmo Rot. Recognitum et Emendatum. Erasmus used several Greek manuscript sources because he did not have access to a single complete manuscript. Most of the manuscripts were, however, late Greek manuscripts of the Byzantine textual family and Erasmus used the oldest manuscript the least because "he was afraid of its supposedly erratic text." He also ignored much older and better manuscripts that were at his disposal.

In the second (1519) edition, the more familiar term Testamentum was used instead of Instrumentum. This edition was used by Martin Luther in his German translation of the Bible, written for people who could not understand Latin. Together, the first and second editions sold 3,300 copies. By comparison, only 600 copies of the Complutensian Polyglot were ever printed. The first and second edition texts did not include the passage (1 John 5:7-8) that has become known as the Comma Johanneum. Erasmus had been unable to find those verses in any Greek manuscript, but one was supplied to him during production of the third edition. That manuscript is now thought to be a 1520 creation from the Latin Vulgate, which likely got the verses from a fifth-century marginal gloss in a Latin copy of I John. The Roman Catholic Church decreed that the Comma Johanneum was open to dispute (2/6/1927), and is rarely included in modern scholarly translations.

The third edition of 1522 was probably used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (Worms, 1526) and was the basis for the 1550 Robert Stephanus edition used by the translators of the Geneva Bible and King James Version of the English Bible.

Erasmus published a definitive fourth edition in 1527 containing parallel columns of Greek, Latin Vulgate and Erasmus's Latin texts. In this edition Erasmus also supplied the Greek text of the last six verses of Revelation (which he had translated from Latin back into Greek in his first edition) from Cardinal Ximenez's Biblia Complutensis.

In 1535 Erasmus published the fifth (and final) edition which dropped the Latin Vulgate column but was otherwise similar to the fourth edition. Later versions of the Greek New Testament by others, but based on Erasmus's Greek New Testament, became known as the Textus Receptus.

Erasmus was not martyred, but he did much to enable the Reformation in England.

Thomas Bilney (1495-1531)       [Contents]

Very little is known of Bilney's early years but he probably entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, about 1516 as a young graduate and was ordained a priest in 1519. Bilney was a shy, retiring student, with a serious disposition and abstemious. He attempted early in life to fulfill the commandments of God. He strove by fasting, long vigils, masses, and the purchase of indulgences to find peace with God, desperately trying to earn his own salvation. He looked up to the priests as the physicians of his soul, and followed to the letter every prescription they offered. However, like Luther, Bilney discovered that good works alone were not enough to secure him the relief he sought.

Bilney had heard much talk of a notorious new book. It was a new translation produced by the scholar Erasmus of the New Testament in classical Latin - translated from his also new 'synchronised' Greek New Testament. (See file on Erasmus for details). Whispers around the halls told of its beauty of style and its hidden messages, but it remained a forbidden book. Bilney wavered between respect for authority and longing to read the secret book. Eventually, overcoming both respect and fear, he purchased a copy and smuggled it into his private chambers. As he opened the precious book, Bilney's eyes fell upon the words of 1 Timothy 1:15: 'Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.' A new light flooded Bilney's fearful soul as the Holy Spirit applied the truth. While meditating on these words he exclaimed triumphantly, 'I also am like Paul, and more than Paul, the greatest of sinners, but Christ saves sinners.'

Once liberated, he became a devotee of the Word of God; he never grew weary of reading it. Not long after being schooled in their teachings, Bilney, with unusual boldness, began to preach them in the colleges, to the absolute astonishment of his friends. Bilney soon realized that the real need was for a mighty work of God's Spirit and prayed for such, exclaiming prophetically, 'A new time is beginning. The Christian assembly is about to be renewed.' It was not long before, under Bilney's influence, a small Bible-study group started meeting within the walls of Cambridge. The most outstanding member of this group was Stafford, a professor of divinity. Stafford's conversion startled Cambridge and his lectures became a major attraction to young students.

Yet another man of learning, Hugh Latimer, viewed the change in Bilney and Stafford with great alarm. Being a priest and a zealot for the Catholic Church, he made it his duty publicly to attack and discredit the evangelical truths they had espoused. Like Saul of Tarsus, he pursued the newly-converted men, pitting all his intellectual powers against the truth. But he was soon to experience a Damascus-road conversion that would make him the 'apostle of the Reformation'. Bilney perceived Latimer's potential and sought by all means to win him. Knowing that the 'battle is the Lord's', he determined to challenge and defeat the intellectual Goliath of Cambridge with the Sword of the Spirit.

Bilney sought out Latimer asking if he, as his priest, might hear his confession. Believing Bilney to be a penitent returning to the fold, Latimer eagerly seized the opportunity. Bilney, in his simple candid way, 'confessed' to the zealous priest how, in anguish of soul, he had sought salvation and had found the blood of Christ as his only hope. As Latimer listened, the Holy Spirit applied Bilney's simple testimony like a two-edged sword, piercing Latimer's proud heart. As the truth gripped his mind and soul, so the priest became the penitent, while the supposed penitent pointed to the Great High Priest.

Transformed, Latimer's natural abilities and character were heightened by divine unction. Years later he reflected on this encounter, saying, 'I learnt more by this confession than in many years before.'

In Bilney's company, Latimer quickly grew in grace. He began to preach the gospel with great boldness and authority. Bilney remained in the background, content to see the more able speaker take the public floor. While still shy before men, he was bold before God's throne of grace.

After Latimer was converted, the students flocked to hear him - and Bilney - preach. "Bilney, whom we continually meet with when any secret work, a work of irresistible charity, is in hand," knew how to approach these men. "The pious man often succeeds better, even with the great ones of this world, than the ambitious and the intriguing." He had the secret power gained by long hours on his knees in his closet. He prayed, "O Thou who art the truth, give me strength that I may teach it; and convert the ungodly by means of one who has been ungodly himself." Together with Latimer they were regularly found ministering to the poor and to those in prison.

For a time in Cambridge the little Reformer joined his efforts with those of John Frith and William Tyndale. They each preached repentance and conversion, denying that anyone could get his sins forgiven by any priest or by doing any good work.

Bilney led a protestant group at Cambridge where he preached simply and directly that Jesus Christ delivered from sin. As matter-of-fact as this statement may sound to present-day Christendom, it was nearly as startling as an atomic bomb to the people living in sixteenth-century Europe. They knew but one route to heaven; namely, good works, fasting, indulgences, purgatory, and the mass. Mainly as the result of Bilney's work at Cambridge "seven colleges at least were in full ferment: Pembroke, St John's, Queens', King's, Caius, Benet's and Peterhouse. The gospel was preached at the Augustine's, at St. Mary's, (the university church,) and in other places."

Thus the Reformation received impetus in England. Eventually overcoming his shyness, Bilney began preaching with the vigour of an evangel. In 1525 he secured a license to preach in the diocese of Ely. He left the university and in the company of Arthur went to many places in East Anglia. In the Suffolk town of Hadleigh many were converted. Here he performed such faithful work in teaching the people that they became great Bible students, so much so "that the whole town seemed rather a university of the learned than a town of cloth-making or labouring people." They read their Bibles through many times, memorizing whole portions. It was not long, however, before opposition to his preaching developed. Twice monks forcibly drew him out of the pulpit. His denunciation of saint and relic worship, of monkish conduct, and of pilgrimages drew the attention of Cardinal Wolsey.

While preaching in Ipswich on 28 May 1527, he was arrested, and in November was brought before the Bishops' Court at Westminster. Bilney denied holding any Lutheran views. Since Wolsey was too engrossed with the tasks of the kingdom, he left the trial in the hands of Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of London. Bilney was convicted of heresy, but Tunstall, who sympathized with his victim, could not bring himself to pronounce the sentence.. Knowing that the bishop was a friend of Erasmus, Bilney, during the days of waiting, wrote letters to Tunstall about the Greek New Testament. Tunstall apparently was impressed, but not enough to relent, since Wolsey had commanded that Bilney either abjure or die. Under intense pressure from Tunstall and well-meaning friends, Bilney stood resolute in his convictions. Bilney wanted to go to the stake, but the arguments of his friends not to cast his life away, and Tunstall's continuous putting off the evil day, finally wore down the prisoner. In a confused and weary state of mind, he recanted, believing his friends to have the better judgement. He reasoned that if he abjured and saved his life, he could still serve God. On 7 December, Bilney was paraded in humiliation before the Council of Bishops and led back to gaol to serve his penance. Whilst languishing in prison, Bilney's mind was filled with remorse over his action. His heart sank in darkness and despair as, like the writer of Psalm 51, he experienced a deeper imprisonment of the soul.

For two years Bilney dwelt in the dungeons of St Paul's Cross, more a prisoner of his own conscience than of the church. Now his real torment began compared to which his soul struggle before conversion was nothing. After he spent a year in the Tower he returned to Cambridge, but he was so tortured by remorse that he had denied his Christ, that he could not bear to have anyone, not even his old friend Latimer, read or mention the Scriptures to him. "His mind wandered, the blood froze in his veins, he sank under his terrors; he lost all sense, and almost his life, and lay motionless in the arms of his astonished friends." He could obtain no consolation. Yet the Holy Spirit did not forsake him. Finally when peace was once more restored in his heart, he resolved to rectify the great wrong he had done. He determined never again to renounce the truth of God's word. One night at ten o'clock, in 1531, he bade his friends at Cambridge good-bye, saying that he was going to Jerusalem. (He referred to Christ's words, when He went to Jerusalem to suffer the crucifixion.) His destination was Norfolk, where he had first preached. Since his license had been revoked, he went from house to house, and he preached with great unction proclaiming, 'That doctrine which I once abjured is the truth. Let my example be a lesson to all who hear me.' Fearing nothing, he preached the gospel, distributed New Testaments and exposed the errors of Rome.

It was not long before Bilney was arrested, tried at Norwich, and sent to London for execution. Attempts were made by his friends to secure his release, but to no avail. On the eve of his martyrdom, Bilney was composed and joyful. It is said that after eating his last meal, the prisoner rose and placed his finger in the flame of a lamp. When questioned by his friends he replied, 'I am only trying my flesh; tomorrow God's rods shall burn my whole body in the fire.' He only withdrew his finger when the first joint had been burnt and then quietly recited the words of Isaiah 43:2: 'When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.' The following day Bilney was led to 'Lollards Pit' and, after bidding farewell to his friends, became the first Reformer to be burnt on English soil. His conscience clear, his mind anticipating the joy of heaven, he repeatedly cried out 'Jesus', and 'Credo' (I believe), before finally expiring in the flames.

What lessons can Thomas Bilney teach us? In the first place we must accept the man in all his strength and weakness. That he did recant has stained his character for many Christians. His knowledge was incomplete, and he still held to some of the errors of Rome. Yet in his humility, he recognized his folly, repented of it, and died a glorious death. Secondly, his great strength lay in personal evangelism. He saw the potential in Latimer, and set about to win him for Christ. Bilney's quiet influence on fellow students was immense. This should be a great encouragement to all believers, to be themselves in personal witness, for who knows how many Latimers may be won? Above all, Bilney was a man of prayer. He prayed for Cambridge, for Latimer's conversion, and for the reformation of the church. God honoured those prayers. Finally, despite mistakes and failures, Thomas Bilney was used by God in his martyrdom. He became the first disciple and evangelist of Reformation times to shed his blood that England might be freed from idolatry and superstition. He was the light of dawn in England's night of darkness.

William Tyndale - A Master of the English Reformation.   1494-1536       [Contents]

William Tyndale occupies the paradoxical position of a man who made two great strategic contributions to English thought, one in the field of religion and the other in the field of literature -- yet for some four hundred years he held one of the lesser acclaimed places both as a reformer and as a man of letters.

It may be said at the risk of using superlatives that he gave more to the English Reformation than any other Reformer. For without his translation of the New Testament into the clear English of his day that the common man could read, few would have came to understand the Word of God that saves a man's soul.

Tyndale's translation of the Bible was the fulcrum on which balanced the entire English Reformation. God planned to use his work to hold together the framework of spiritual advancement in England during the sixteenth century. And with his translation, furnishing the chief source material for the Authorized Version of 1611, Tyndale's influence upon English literature likewise became greater than that of any other man.

Little is known of Tyndale's family. Born in about 1494 in the western part of Gloucestershire, near the border of Wales, he early applied his mind to acquiring an education. As a boy he entered Oxford, where it is thought he gained a love for Bible study from Colet; at least he demonstrated a peculiar bent toward spiritual things. He likewise studied other liberal arts, and he acquired the mastery of seven languages -- Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, and French -- so that he spoke in each with a degree of native fluency.

He took his M.A. degree in 1515, and then he went to Cambridge, where he came under the influence of Erasmus. One of his first appointments was that of tutor-chaplain at Little Sodsbury in the family of Sir Thomas Walsh. He was apparently already ordained at this time. Here he entered into ecclesiastical disputation with the church dignitaries. Later, when he preached at Bristol, he set the tongues of the clergy wagging because of what they considered his heresy. For his divergent views he was summoned to appear before the chancellor.

Disturbed in heart and mind by the gross ignorance and sordid living of the priests and monks, Tyndale sought advice from an old chancellor, and in return this man told him that the pope was the antichrist of the Scriptures. This startled the young priest so much that he prayed and studied anew, taking Erasmus's Greek New Testament still closer to heart. He soon began to be convinced as to what his lifework was to be.

Realizing that the church would rather have thousands of books written against its teachings than to have the common people have access to the Bible, he determined to translate the New Testament. As his mission in life became clearer to him, he remarked, "I perceived by experience how that it is impossible to establish the lay people in any truth, except that the Scriptures were plainly laid before their eyes, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text." -- Quoted by Luke S. Walmsley in Fighters and Martyrs for the Freedom of the Faith.

To one of his opponents who had expressed the thought that the pope's laws were better than God's, Tyndale replied, "I defy the pope and all his laws; and if God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow shall know more of the Scripture than thou dost." -- Quoted by J. F. Mozley in William Tyndale.

So Tyndale sought who might help him with his task. He felt that surely the bishop of London would do so; but when he appealed to him in 1523, the bishop would have nothing to do with it.

Sir Thomas More was another on whom he thought he could receive help, but he also opposed it. He advocated that only a group of responsible scholars, and not an individual, should undertake such a task, furthermore, that the ignorant man of the street should not have access to the Bible, lest some fanciful interpretations result.

However, one day as Tyndale was preaching at St. Dunstan's, a wealthy cloth merchant and London alderman, Sir Humphrey Monmouth, heard him, became his friend, and offered him his London home to write in. Here for a year Tyndale found shelter where he could work to his heart's content.

But the priests were soon after him. As a consequence he came to the conclusion that there was not a place in all England where he could translate the Scriptures; and he sailed in May 1524, for the Continent, and he never saw his beloved country again.

For the next twelve and a half years Tyndale lived the life of a persecuted and hunted man, as he fled from one city to another to evade his oppressors. He moved frequently among the cities of Wittenberg, Cologne, Hamburg, Worms, Strasbourg, Marburg, and Antwerp.

He is supposed to have visited Luther in Wittenberg in 1524, where he stayed nearly a year, working at his translating. In Cologne in 1525 the printing started, but a careless word to the effect that England would soon rub her eyes caused the news to travel to the bishops of England. Tyndale fled to Worms, taking what precious sheets he could with him.

Here his New Testament was printed in 1526, and six thousand copies were said to have been sent to England in the winter of 1526-27, in spite of the fact that the bishops were zealously watching the ports. It was the small size of the edition which made it possible to pack the copies in cases, sacks of flour, bales of merchandise, and barrels. It is recorded that in the four years following, some fifteen thousand copies passed into England.

The Roman Catholic Church immediately seized one thousand copies and had them burned in 1527, and later the bishop of London bought up all he could find. He also called on Sir Thomas More publicly to expose the errors in the translation.

To have the old edition disposed of by purchase was all to Tyndale's favour, for it enabled him to publish a revised edition, much better than the first. And the second soon came out "thick and threefold," as well as did seven more editions during the next ten years.

The bishops were incensed. One reason was that Tyndale's translation had lost for them some of their choice Christian words. He had used repentance for penance, acknowledge for confess, favour for grace, image for idol, elder for priest, love for charity, congregation for church, to give a few examples. For his text he had taken Erasmus's Greek New Testament, and he had doubtless followed Luther's German translation, which had been completed at the Wartburg a short while before.

At the time Tyndale made his translation, there was no English Bible for the common people. Wycliffe's Bible, which that Reformer had translated into the early Middle English, was largely obsolete, and it had been taken from the Latin Vulgate, itself a translation. Then, too, there was much opposition to Wycliffe's doctrines.

Tyndale said of his own translation, "I had no man to counterfeit (imitate), neither was helped with English of any that had interpreted the same, or such like thing in the Scripture beforehand." His objective was to produce an absolutely honest, simple, straightforward translation of the Scriptures into English so all England could read it. To the translator's credit it can be said that he shunned the use of the over ornate style so prevalent in the sixteenth century. Had he succumbed to the temptation, his translation would doubtless not have served as the basis for the Authorized Version of 1611.

Concerning Tyndale's part in this Authorized Version, authorities state that when the English Bible of 1611 left the hands of the revisers, the work of Tyndale remained largely undisturbed, and where the King James committee had departed from Tyndale's translation the revisers of 1881 restored the original words. "These revisers of the Authorized Version had indeed many virtues, but above all they had that great and rare virtue of not meddling with what was too good to be improved. They were the last of a long series of revisers who had based their work on Tyndale with comparatively little modification: for indeed, where one reviser had altered Tyndale's wording, his successor had often returned to the original. And Tyndale had fixed the pattern upon which they had all alike worked." -- R.W. Chambers, Man's Unconquerable Mind.

It has been said that at least 90 per cent of the King James Version may be attributed to Tyndale, thus establishing Tyndale's position among the literary immortals of England. He is "the man whose choice of words has for four hundred years exercised supreme influence upon English prose." Froude is given credit for the following tribute to the translator's literary faculty: "The peculiar genius which breathes through the English Bible, the mingled tenderness and majesty, the Saxon simplicity, the grandeur, unequalled, unapproached in the attempted improvements of modern scholars, all are here, and bear the impress of the mind of one man and that man William Tyndale." -- Luke S. Walmsley, Fighters and Martyrs for the Freedom of the Faith.

The question that will doubtless arise in the minds of many is, Why have not scholars discovered before now the great debt English Protestantism owed to Tyndale? The answer is that Tyndale published his translation when such translations were still forbidden by the English government. Tyndale's enemies said that Tyndale had deliberately put heresies into his work in order to get his false doctrines before the people. Consequently, shortly after Tyndale's martyrdom, when translations were authorized, Tyndale's name was deliberately withheld by his publishers in order that his cause might triumph.

Before his death Tyndale translated not only the New Testament, but the five books of Moses, the book of Jonah, and probably everything from Joshua to Second Chronicles. It is even possible that he translated all of the Old Testament, although some contend that the books from Ezra to Malachi were taken from the Coverdale Bible of 1535. Still others maintain that whatever untranslated portions remained when Tyndale died were supplied by John Rogers, who doubtless used the Coverdale version as a guide. A year after Tyndale's martyrdom Rogers took the manuscript, edited and published it as the Matthew Bible. This Bible was used as a basis for all later revisions, but Tyndale's name was separated from his work.

For the four-hundredth anniversary of Tyndale's death, in 1936, Great Britain honoured her Reformation hero by publishing his New Testament for the occasion and asking the British people in thousands of churches and schools to read from his translation. Many of them, it is said, for the first time recognized the close resemblance between Tyndale's version and that of the Authorized. Isaac Foot, in his introduction to this New Testament of Tyndale's, wrote, July, 1938, "The persistence of Tyndale's work is in fact the outstanding miracle of English letters." That Tyndale is among the most heroic of English figures cannot be gainsaid. As a stanch defender of the principles of the Reformation during the days when kings championed the papacy, he brought his great learning to the service of a great cause. Besides the translation of the Bible he also wrote a number of treatises in which he scathingly and contemptuously held the clergy up to ridicule for their departure from the early simplicity of the church. In them he indicted the whole church, and in one of his pamphlets he expounded on the doctrine of justification by faith.

Tyndale's life conformed to his preaching. From his first declaration of intention to make the plowboy know more than the priest, until his last words, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes," his life shone like a pure white light leading to his set goal. He was at the same time humble and heroic. He remained a celibate priest all his life.

It has already been mentioned that the bishops in England attempted to keep Tyndale's translation out of the country; but when he succeeded to the extent he did, they smarted greatly under his victory. In spite of their efforts at repression, many thousands of copies eluded their vigilance and reached the common masses. The bishops had burned some of his books; now they resolved that he must be burned at the stake.

Tyndale was not unaware of the fate awaiting him. Eight years before the end he wrote, "If they shall burn me, they shall do none other than I look for." Around the 1530's Henry VIII lent his support that Tyndale might be brought to trial, but when he attempted to gain possession of Tyndale's person by asking Charles V to deliver him, the emperor refused. Sir Thomas Elyot, author of the Governor, was sent to trap him, but he was unsuccessful.

The papal party did not give up. They were in league with the papal party in the Low Countries. They were likewise astute enough to realize that Charles V, whom Luther defied at Worms, would not stand in their way to take the life of an English Reformer, particularly with Henry VIII having treated Charles V's aunt, Catherine of Aragon, the way he had.

So it was a man by the name of Phillips who undertook the job of luring Tyndale from the house, where he was staying, on the pretext of taking him out to dine. On the way Tyndale was captured and taken to the castle of Vilvorde, a state prison of the Low Countries, in which dungeon he remained sixteen months.

Among the charges preferred against him were that he maintained that faith alone sufficed for justification, that conscience should not be established on human traditions, that there was no purgatory, and that neither the Virgin nor the saints interceded for human beings.

He was taken out of prison Friday, October 6, 1536. First he was strangled, and then he was burned at the stake. When led to the stake he prayed, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." Two years later Henry VIII ordered that every church within his kingdom receive a copy of Coverdale's 'Great Bible', which was largely Tyndale's work. Thus Tyndale triumphed over the noose and the flames!

William Hunter       [Contents]

He had lost his job in London as a silk-weaver because he refused to attend the Catholic mass, despite an order that everyone in the City of London had to attend, and had come to live with his parents in Brentwood, but got into a dispute when discovered reading the Bible for himself in Brentwood Chapel. He refused to accept the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation according to which the bread and wine of the communion become the body and blood of Jesus.

He was taken before Antony Browne, then the local Justice, but later Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, but refused to retract his position. Hunter was then sent to Bishop Bonner in London. He resisted both threats and bribes—Bonner offered to make him a Freeman of the City of London and give him £40—and was eventually returned to Brentwood to be burnt. At the age of 19 on March 27, 1555 he was the first Essex martyr of the reign of Mary Tudor.

John Rogers       [Contents]

Deserves honour for being the first of a noble band of Christians to be martyred in Queen Mary's reign. His courage and constancy at the stake supplied a glorious example to many who were chosen to follow him.

He was a contemporary of Ridley and Bradford at Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1525, where Latimer was preaching. Rogers was selected by a discerning Cardinal Wolsey to be a canon in his new college at Oxford (Christ Church). After 2 years in a living in London he moved to Antwerp for a year where he and Tyndale became friends, helping with his Bible translation. How much of the Matthews' Bible he translated is uncertain. When later condemned to be burned he was called "Rogers, alias Matthews"; though this may have been exaggerated to justify his being condemned to be burned. Ryle says, "Tyndale received the credit he justly deserved, Coverdale rather more, and Rogers much less." He also married a lady of Antwerp, which made him a marked man, so he moved to Wittenberg for 10 years.

Returning to London in 1550 he was favoured with appointments in the City and in Essex by his old college friend, Bishop Ridley. But all too soon Mary came to the throne in 1553 and before the year was out, Rogers was in prison. On 4th Feb 1555 at Smithfield, Sheriff Woodroofe asked Rogers if he would revoke his abominable doctrine and his evil opinion of the sacrament of the altar. Rogers answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." "Then thou art a heretic," said Woodroofe. To which Rogers replied, "That shall be known at the day of judgement." Fox describes how the grace of God was so evident - "When the fire was put unto him; and when it had taken hold both upon his legs and shoulders, he, as one feeling no smart, washed his hands in the flame, as though it had been cold water. And, after lifting up his hands unto heaven, not removing the same until such time as the devouring fire had consumed them, most mildly this happy martyr yielded up his spirit into the hands of his heavenly Father." His wife and eleven children witnessed his burning, but even that did not alter his resolve. Indeed, "they even assisted and comforted him in such a manner that it seemed as if he had been led to a wedding."

It should always be remembered that Rogers was the first to die in the fire, he had no precedents to look to. He did not vainly call upon the example in Dan 2 of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He praised the one, faithful, true Almighty God, who sometime answers by fire!! He was the one who set such a prime example of the grace and power of God in extreme adversity that all the others who followed him would be much encouraged.

John Hooper       [Contents]

In days of theological confusion and liberal practice, days when truth is uncertain and tolerance is popular, days when Rome is again making great efforts to undo the reformation and bring back the Church of England under it mantle; the example of a holy and faithful man of God sheds much light upon the path we need to walk. Such a man was Bishop John Hooper (1495-1555).

He lived in days similar to our own, when evangelical Protestants are called Calvanists, Puritans, Dissenters, Methodists, Fanatics ... anything but loyal Churchmen who proclaim the enduring truth. His life experienced huge change - from unchallenged Romanism, with it's idolatry, superstition and arrogant falsehood to days when women and children were murdered for saying the Lord's Prayer in English!, and a queen who was determined to stamp out the new light that had just dawned. England before 1500 was deeply ignorant. There was no Bible in English, prayers and church services were in Latin. Even 50 years later when Hooper was appointed Bishop of Gloucester, half of his 311 clergy did not know the 10 Commandments. In many parishes blind priests led the blind, took the people's money and undertook to ensure their salvation. The more the people gave, the more certain was their salvation! At the Abbey of Hales in Gloucestershire, a vial was said to contain the blood of Christ. In fact it was the blood of a duck that was renewed weekly! There was hardly a parish that didn't had some relic of the Cross, Mary's smock or girdle, a spearhead that pierced the Saviour, or bread that was left over after the Lord's supper! Such superstition was normal; as was gluttony, drunkenness, gambling, immorality among both clergy and people. Henry VIII's Dissolution of 850 Monasteries in 1536-1540 was motivated by his and Parliament's need for money. The Church land and building materials were sold. But it also was a much needed instrument of cleansing. Henry's break with Rome was motivated by his need for divorce; at the same time it enabled a huge step forward towards freedom and truth. These two events enabled a fresh start, with a Bible in our own language, the preaching of Christ crucified and raised to save the repentant sinner (not by gifts or sacraments conducted by a priest), the Scriptural standard of morality and life, and justice for all (not just the rich). England did not suddenly become perfect; but men like Hooper did much under God grace to change the people of this land.

He was at Oxford 1514-1518. Little is known of the next 20 years. But he was delivered from Popery after being enlightened by the writings of Zwingle and Bullinger. His 'reformed views', which 5 days with Bishop Gardiner was unable to shake, hastened his flight to Strasburgh, Bale and Zurich. There he married a Burgundian lady in 1546.

A year later when Edward VI came to the throne he returned to England and was soon nominated for Bishop of Gloucester. But for a year there was a problem - he hated the Romish vestments and refused to wear them. Eventually he agreed with Cranmer and Ridley to do so at his consecration in 1551 and in the Cathedral. It was a controversy between convinced men that once inflamed was difficult to extinguish. In the end grace prevailed, but the C of E would have been spared future infiltration by ritualists if vestments had been outlawed from the start. Fox writes, "In his doctrine he was earnest, in tongue eloquent, in the Scriptures perfect, in pains indefatigable ... in body strong, in patience invincible ... he was constant in judgement, spare in diet, in housekeeping he was very liberal ..." He was seen to be just to all men and refused to excuse the rich and strong from criticism; but he did so in such a mild manner that very few became an enemy. Many ministers preached only once or twice a quarter, but Hooper was determined to preach 3 or 4 times a day throughout all the parishes. Yet even with this workload he never neglected his duties as a father. In this Bishop's Palace there was no courtly rioting, no foul language, no idleness or pomp, but it was well known for goodly conversation, the reading and practice of Scripture, and in every corner there was some smell of virtue. Every day his table was spread with good meat for some of the poor from the city. He introduced 50 Articles of an admirable character and required each incumbent to subscribe to them. Worcester was soon added to his busy responsibilities. Master Hooper laboured with such diligence to train up his flock in Christ and the true Word of salvation, that he remains an outstanding example of how a bishop should live.

Edward died in July 1553 and Mary wasted no time in arresting this noble Bishop who had done so much in just two years. Though imprisoned for 17 months in foulest conditions, he never wavered. It pleased him greatly to told that his burning would be in Gloucester. Arriving there he had only one day for various people to visit him. One such was the knight Sir Anthony Kingston whom the Bishop had previously rebuked for adultery and who was fined £500 for his behaviour in court. Now he came in tears pleading with Hooper to change his mind. "Consider that life is sweet, and death is bitter. Life hereafter may do good." To which the Bishop replied, "The life to come is more sweet, and the death to come is more bitter." Kingston then said to him, "I thank God that ever I knew you, seeing God did appoint you to call me to be his child. By your good instruction, when I was before a fornicator and adulterer, God hath taught me to detest and forsake the same." After this Hooper wept more than in all the 17 months he endured in prison. 7000 people came to witness the death of their pastor and friend, but he was forbidden to speak to them. After prayer they lit the fire, but was far too small for the wind, the second fire only burned his lower half. After ¾ hour the third fire dispatched the noble soldier of Christ, who repeatedly cried to the end, "Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

The shear cruelty of Rome in these days has never been repented of. And in the goodness of God the death of these chosen men probably did more good for the Church than even all their sermons! A church that did such cruel unjust things to honourable men could never be the true church. And men who so nobly and patiently endured the flames must have been sustained and protected by the Lord Almighty.

What did John Hooper believe that was so important; then and now?
See "Articles concerning the Christian religion" by John Hooper. p.106-108
and "A Brief and Clear Confession of the Christian Faith". p. 109-111
Both these quote a few of the most important articles.
Full details are in Hooper's writings published by the Parker Society.

"A Bible-reading laity is a nation's surest defence against error. I have no fear for English Protestantism, if the laity will only do their duty."

Ryle quotes a letter written to friends 3 weeks before he died. p.115,116
It is filled with grace and truth and compassion.

Rowland Taylor       [Contents]

Rector of Hadleigh, Suffolk. He wrote no books, printed no sermons, nor travelled the 50 miles to London. Little is known of him except what John Fox has recorded. He became a Cambridge student and there imbibed the principles of the Protestant Reformation and studied the sermons of Bishop Latimer. He lived for a while with Archbishop Cranmer which made him a marked man among the English Reformers. When appointed to Hadleigh, he resigned all other work and devoted himself to his parish. The people there had greatly benefited from the earlier preaching of Thomas Bilney and much appreciated Taylor's faithful ministry of Holy Scripture. He earned a reputation for being humble yet direct when required, compassionate, holy and earnest in all he did. His wife was like-minded and his 9 children were all well taught.

When Mary came to the throne, two unbelievers, Foster and Clerke, hastened to make mischief against the good rector by conspiring to have a Romish priest celebrate the Mass at Hadleigh. Rowland and his faithful parishioners strongly objected to this procedure as being both illegal and idolatrous and violence ensued. Taylor was summoned by Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England. He never returned to Hadleigh except to be burned. When friends tried to persuade him to run away he said, "As for me, I believe before God I shall never be able to do God so good a service as I may do now, nor shall I ever have so glorious a calling as I have now, nor so great mercy of God proffered me, as is now at this present. For what Christian man would not gladly die against the Pope and his adherents? I know that the Papacy is the kingdom of the Antichrist, altogether full of falsehoods; so that all their doctrine is nothing but idolatry, superstition, error, hypocrisy and lies. Wherefore I beseech you and all other my friends to pray for me, and to doubt not but God will give me strength and his Holy Spirit, that all mine adversaries shall have shame of their doings."

Gardiner accused him of being a traitor, heretic and a knave. Taylor accused him of forsaking the truth, denying the Saviour Christ and his Word, and doing contrary to his oath taking. Taylor spent the next two years in prison where he spent much time with John Bradford and occasionally with Hooper, Rogers, Ferrar and Saunders. Eventually he came before Gardiner again, and then with Bradford and Saunders before the Bishops of Winchester, Norwich, London, Salisbury and Durham. They each refused to submit to the Bishop of Rome and abjure their errors, especially of the corporate presence of Christ in the bread and wine. Their faithfulness to the truth was rewarded by being condemned to die.

Taylor was allowed one brief evening with his wife and eldest child in the prison before being taken to Hadleigh. There, on 9th Feb 1555, amid his loving flock who shed many tears, prayed much and gave such grateful thanks for their shepherd, he was burned at the stake with great courage, prayer and dignity - such that none would doubt the evil of Rome, their hatred and their error. Such cruel fires made it very obvious on which side God's truth lay. Thousands were thus kept from their idolatry by the faithful witness of such valiant martyrs.

May their witness not be forgotten today; for Rome has not changed - except for adding further errors! May the glorious martyrs of nearly 500 years ago continue to give courage to all those who are chosen to follow in their footsteps. Pray that the same generous Holy Spirit enable them to shine with such radiance and glory.

Hugh Latimer       [Contents]

Many have heard of Bishops Latimer and Ridley and 'Bloody Mary', but we need to hear and know why he was so cruelly burned at the stake. The well-being of England will be shaped more by maintaining the principles of the Protestant Reformation than on clever inventions, politics or armies. Some claim there is little difference between the Anglican and Romish churches; but let us examine the facts and see what the Church of Rome does when she has power.

In Latimer's early life under Henry VIII, when Popery was supreme, England was in deep spiritual darkness and superstition was rife. The few remaining Lollards were scattered and persecuted. Most of the priests were profoundly ignorant of the Bible, preaching was rare and prayers were said in Latin. The Abbeys and Monasteries were mostly filled with men whose morals were what one might expect from those who were 'filled with bread and an abundance of idleness'. The men of England were taught to pray to Mary and the saints and to give generously to the church to save their souls. In one year at Canterbury £3 2s 6d was offered on Christ's altar, £63 5s 6d on the Virgin Mary's altar and £832 12s 3d on that of Thomas á Becket. Images and false relics were worshipped.

Then Latimer experienced the battle between Henry VIII and Rome, who would not agree to his divorce. So he broke from Rome and appointed the righteous Cranmer as Archbishop. Henry allowed the Bible to be printed in English, appointed it to be read in churches. He dissolved many corrupt monasteries and destroyed church images. He boldly denied all Papal authority in England. Though to the end there was little evidence that Henry VIII ever desired to be an obedient consistent follower of Christ; God used this sensual king to bring about much change for the good of this land.

Latimer delighted in the even greater changes that were made during the short reign of Edward VI. Hooker said, "He died young, but lived long." The Romish Bonner and Gardiner were deposed and replaced by men like Cranmer, Ridley and Hooper. A new Liturgy (in English) was written, together with a new Prayer Book and the 42 articles of religion (later 39) - each of which were the basis of those used today.

Edward VI died after reigning only 6 years. The church still had many Romish priest who would 'believe' and sign anything to keep their livings. Such men were much relieved when Mary came to the throne and reversed so emphatically much of what had been achieved.

Latimer went to Cambridge in 1509 at the age of 14 and remained an ardent Papist for a further 16 years. But while there he met Bilney, a fellow student who asked if he might give him his testimony. Latimer says that he learned more from this than in many years of earlier study. "From that time forward I began to smell the Word of God, and forsook the school doctors and such fooleries." Soon he began preaching and stirred up many to search the Scriptures and inquire after the way of salvation. Beacon and Bradford, who later became chaplains to Cranmer and Ridley (respectively), both traced their conversion to Latimer's Cambridge sermons. The Bishop of Ely forbade him to preach and he was summonsed to appear before Cardinal Wolsey and Bishop Tonstall (London) on charges of heresy more than once. But the Lord, in whose hand we always remain, kept him from any harm during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1530 he was even made one of the royal chaplains and also appointed to a living in Wiltshire. But this patronage did not stop his many enemies from the harassment of this zealous godly man. After 4 years Henry suddenly made him Bishop of Worcester in 1535, where he continued his zealous reforms. But in 1539 he strongly resisted Henry's Six Articles that contained some leading Roman tenets and had to resign. His activities during the next 8 years are not known but he was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the last year of Henry VIII. Edward released him as soon as he ascended the throne in1547. Due to increasing age and infirmties he declined the appointment to any official Office and spend most of the years at Lambeth assisting his old friend Archbishop Cranmer and preaching in the Midlands.

In 1553 Mary immediately issued a warrant for the foremost reformers. Latimer was in Warwick and willingly went to London, though being warned earlier, he could easily have escaped. Committed to the Tower he was in good company - with Cranmer, Ridley and Bradford. While there he read the New Testament through 7 times "with great deliberation and painful study". Together they agreed that transubstantiation was nowhere to be found in it. After a year, the 3 bishops were removed to Oxford. There he prayed often that:
1) God who had appointed him to preach his word, would give him grace to stand at the end
2) God would once again restore the Gospel of Christ to this realm
3) God would preserve Princess Elizabeth and make her a comfort to England.
All three of these prayers the Sovereign Lord was pleased to fully grant.

Prisoners Latimer and Ridley were brought forth on 16th Oct 1555. Ridley looking back saw Latimer coming after, said, "Oh, are ye there?". Latimer replied, "Yea, as fast as I can follow." A renegrade priest preached a miserable sermon on "Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing". But neither Bishop was allowed to reply. Then chained to a single post, as the fire was laid first at Ridley's feet, Latimer cried out, "Be of good comfort, brother Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out." And indeed such a light was lit. But due to our shameful ignorance and desires today, that light is in the gravest danger of being snuffed out.

Latimer emphasised:
1) The absolute authority and accuracy of Scripture
2) Justification is by faith in Christ; not by trying to keep the law, nor by trusting church traditions, sacraments or membership
3) Regeneration is by the Holy Spirit; not by Baptism
4) In the Lord's Supper he is spiritually present (as at all times); there is no special physical 'presence' in the bread or wine. By these elements we remember the completed sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary offered once for our sin, and accepted.

John Bradford       [Contents]

Born about 1520 he first served Sir John Harrington as his paymaster, having showed a keen ability in Latin and mathematics. In 1547 he entered Law school in London but was converted to Christ and determined to learn more of the Law of God and the scriptures. Having heard a sermon by Latimer on 'restitution to be made of things falsely gotten', he prevailed upon John Harrington to correct a fraud against the King, which Bradford was not party to. At Cambridge he gave himself to prayer and became a friend to Bucer, Sandys and Ridley who ordained him in 1550 and appointed him as one of the six royal chaplains with responsibility to preach the Reformation doctrines in Lancashire and Cheshire. Ridley testifies to the fearless preaching of Bradford before Edward VI and his court, and before others who "festered insatiable covetousness, filthy carnality, intolerable ambition and pride, ..." It should be emphasised that he never preached to others what he had not first preached and corrected in his own heart.

Such was his zeal for truth and righteousness that it is not surprising that he was imprisoned by Mary within a month of her ascending the throne. Much effort was there made to pervert him to the Romish church, but they were all in vain. He was condemned in Jan 1555 but kept in London and was finally called for execution on 1st July. He was moved to Newgate at midnight the day before, the authorities hoped that none would witness his journey; but many lined the route. Both they and Bradford prayed much and wept much as they bade him farewell. By 4am at Smithfield they was a huge crowd. Bradford cried out," O England, England, repent thee of thy sins, repent thee of thy sins. Beware of idolatry, beware of false antichrists: take heed they do not deceive you." The Sheriff then stopped him from speaking further. But to a young man burnt with him he said, "Be of good comfort, brother; for we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night." Then embracing the reed he said, "Straight is the way, and narrow is the gate, that leadeth to eternal salvation, and few there be that find it."

From the ordination of Bradford to his execution was only 5 years, and 2 of those years were spent in prison; yet he had a profound affect upon England. He was courageous in preaching, yet so mild and sweet in temper. He prayed much, wept much and repented much. He rarely slept more that 4 hours and ate only one modest meal a day. His letters and writings are more than those found in the two volumes of the Parker Society, they are to be found in the changed lives of men who found faith, encouragement and challenge in their content. He lived and died as he had so earnestly prayed. May God bless England today with such men as John Bradford.

John Leaf       [Contents]

An apprentice to Humfrey Gawdy, tallow-chandler, of the parish of Christ-Church in London, of the age of nineteen years and above, born at Kirby Moorside, in the county of York; who, upon the Friday next before Palm Sunday, was committed to the Compter in Bread Street, by an alderman of London, who had rule and charge of that ward, or part of the city, where the said Leaf did dwell. After, he, coming to examination before Bonner, gave a firm and Christian testimony of his doctrine and profession, answering to such articles as were objected to him by the said bishop.

First, as touching his belief and faith in the said sacrament of the altar, he answered, that after the words of consecration, spoken by the priest over the bread and wine, there was not the very true and natural body and blood of Christ in substance; and further did hold and believe, that the said sacrament of the altar, as it is now called, used, and believed in this realm of England, is idolatrous and abominable; and also said further, that he believed, that after the words of consecration spoken by the priest over the material bread and wine, there is not the selfsame substance of Christ's body and blood there contained; but bread and wine, as it was before: and further said, that he believed, that when the priest delivereth the said material bread and wine to the communicants, he delivereth but only material bread and wine; and the communicants do receive the same in remembrance of Christ's death and passion, and spiritually, in faith, they receive Christ's body and blood, but not under the forms of bread and wine: and also affirmed, that he believed auricular confession not to be necessary to be made unto a priest; for it is no point of soul-health -- neither that the priest hath any authority given him by the Scripture to absolve and remit any sin.

Upon these his answers, and testimony of his faith, he, at that time being dismissed, was bid the Monday next, being the tenth of June, to appear again in the said place, there and then to hear the sentence of his condemnation; who so did: at what time the foresaid bishop, propounding the said articles again to him, as before, essaying by all manner of ways to revoke him to his own trade, that is, from truth to error, notwithstanding all his persuasions, threats, and promises, found him the same man still, so planted upon the sure rock of truth, that no words nor deeds of men could remove him.

Then the bishop, after many words to and fro, at last asked him, if he had been Master Rogers's scholar? To whom the foresaid John Leaf answered again, granting him so to be, and that he the same John did believe in the doctrine of the said Rogers, and in the doctrine of Bishop Hooper, Cardmaker, and others of their opinion, who of late were burned for the testimony of Christ, and that he would die in that doctrine that they died for: and after other replications again of the bishop, moving him to return to the unity of the church, he, with a great courage of spirit, answered again in these words: "My Lord," quoth he, "you call mine opinion heresy: it is the true light of the word of God." And again, repeating the same, he professed that he would never forsake his staid and well-grounded opinion, while the breath should be in his body. Whereupon the bishop, being too weak either to refute his sentence or to remove his constancy, proceeded consequently to read the popish sentence of cruel condemnation: whereby this godly and constant young man, being committed to the secular power of the sheriffs there present, and not long after suffered the same day with John Bradford, confirming with his death that which he had spoken and professed in his life.

Laurence Saunders       [Contents]

The son of Thomas Saunders (d.1528) of Sibbertoft, Northamptonshire. He was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge. After graduating BA in 1541 he was apprenticed to Sir William Chester, but soon abandoned mercantile pursuits and continued his studies, proceeding MA in 1544 and obtaining a doctorate in theology. In the early years of the reign of Edward VI he obtained a licence to preach. Being a man of much ability he was very popular, and was appointed reader at Fotheringhay and later at Lichfield Cathedral. In 1553 he was granted the living at All Hallows Bread Street in London where George Marsh was his curate.

On 15 October 1553 he preached at Northampton, warning the congregation that 'the errors of the popish religion' would be restored to the church by Queen Mary and that England was threatened with the visitation of God for her 'lukewarm indifference in the cause of Christ, and the privileges of his glorious gospel'. In October 1554 he was arrested by the order of the Bishop of London after having given a sermon at All Hallows Bread Street. After three months imprisonment he was arraigned on 29 January 1555, and convicted of heresy. He was taken to Coventry, and burned at the stake on 8 February 1555. Before being chained to the stake, he kissed it, saying, 'Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life!' The martyrdom of Saunders was said to have been the start of Joyce Lewis's conversion and her later martyrdom.

Nicholas Ridley       [Contents]

Born on Northumberland in about 1500, he went to Cambridge in 1518. By his obvious diligence and ability he became a Fellow of Pembroke in 1524. His beginnings of Protestant beliefs are not known, but he signed the decree against the Pope's supremacy in 1534 and 3 years later became Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, who appointed him to be vicar of Herne, East Kent. Here he had time to examine the Scriptures. In1540 he became a Chaplain to Henry VIII. By 1545 he, with Cranmer, realised the gross error of the Romish teaching concerning the Lord's Supper. In 1547 he was appointed Bishop of Rochester and 3 years later, Bishop of London. Mary had a special dislike for Ridley so she sent him to the Tower of London as soon as she came to the throne in 1553. A year later he was sent to the prison in Oxford. During his 6 years as Bishop, Ridley spent most of the time assisting Cranmer establish the Reformation of the Church of England, especially in the writing of the Articles and the Liturgy. It was following his suggestion that 16 grammar schools and St Bartholomew's hospital were founded.

Ridley and Latimer were burned together at Oxford on 16th Oct. 1555. Latimer died quickly and apparently with little pain, but they piled wood on top of the faggots near Ridley that caused his lower parts to be burned but his upper parts were untouched by fire. It was a cruel and painful end for such a great man. But their prayer for England was fulfilled and his eternal reward in heaven was secure.

O God, today we have so neglected their example and the truth of Scripture that they taught to this nation. So many have rejected you and now delight to ridicule you, the Lord Almighty that the candle which was lit by these good men is in grave danger of being snuffed out altogether.

Ryle quotes two letters that Ridley wrote while in prison. One to Bishop Hooper, with whom he had previously had some minor disagreements about the Lord's Supper. Both now in prison, he refers to Hooper's wisdom and his own simplicity, united in Christ and chosen to suffer briefly, they would triumph together. He also quotes a letter to his fellow prisoners, pleading with them to see that the brevity of their sufferings and death were small compared with the eternal joy of heaven with Christ. Ridley practised and experienced what he preached. May his example shine brightly in our day, that we too may bring honour to our glorious King.

John Philpot       [Contents]

Born at Compton, Hampshire, in 1516. He was educated at Winchester, where he had as a contemporary John Harpsfield, with whom he made a bet that he would write two hundred verses in one night without making more than three faults, which he did. In due course he went to New College, Oxford.

On the enactment of the Six Articles in 1539 he went abroad and travelled in various countries. He fell into an argument with a Franciscan friar between Venice and Padua, and very narrowly escaped the inquisition in consequence. On his return he went to Winchester, where he read lectures in the cathedral, and, at some uncertain date, became archdeacon. He disagreed with his bishop, John Ponet, whom the registrary Cook, ' a man who hated pure religion' had stirred up against him. Cook even set on the archdeacon with his servants as if to murder him. When Mary came to the throne Philpot soon attracted attention. He was one who in the convocation of 1553 defended the views of the catechism, especially with reference to transubstantiation.

In 1554 he was in the King's Bench Prison, and even there he found something to dispute about, as some of his fellow prisoners were Pelagians. In October 1555 he was examined in Newgate sessions house, and, though Bishop Bonner did his best for him, he was convicted. He was burned at Smithfield on 18 Dec. 1555.

Thomas Cranmer       [Contents]

Born on July 2nd 1489. He was educated at Cambridge University and stated a career as an academic. Cranmer joined a group of intellectuals who met at the White Horse Tavern to discuss issues of the day. Those around him at the tavern were sympathetic to Martin Luther and Cranmer may have spent the rest of his days as an academic if it had not been for his involvement in the divorce of Catherine of Aragon by Henry VIII. It is said that it was Cranmer who suggested to the king that he should get the theological support of the Protestant universities of Western Europe in his quest for a divorce. They would give the king the relevant arguments to present to the court when it came to assessing his right to a divorce. It was this suggestion that was to propel the academic into a world of high politics.

Cranmer was a Fellow of Jesus College. However, he also served as chaplain to the Earl of Wiltshire, the father of Anne Boleyn. Once Henry got the divorce he wanted, he married Anne. This gave the Earl of Wiltshire a higher profile at Court and Cranmer was dragged along with this. The academic was offered the position of Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. In an era when few dared to oppose a decision of the king, Cranmer accepted.

Now one of the leading religious figure in the land, Cranmer started to develop his religious views. He wanted to see Protestantism embedded in England – a view more extreme that Henry in 1533. However, Cranmer kept on the right side of Henry by preaching his unswerving support for monarchical absolutism, which he justified by his support for the doctrine of divine right of kings. Along with Thomas Cromwell, Cranmer worked out marriage proposals and divorces when required by Henry.

Over the next years of Henry’s reign, Cranmer and the king developed a very close relationship. Cranmer’s impact on society was marked. He was the major Protestant factor in Henry’s Council; Cranmer sponsored the Great Bible in 1539 and composed the English Litany in 1545. Cranmer survived the attempts by some conservatives to end his influence both in the direction religious policy was going in England and his relationship with the king. They failed on both. Cranmer had one simple but very powerful aid on his side – the support of the king. The trust Henry put in Cranmer was seen in his will. When he died, Edward VI was too young to rule. Therefore a Council of Regency was established, which had already been selected by Henry. Those conservatives who had unsuccessfully tried to undermine Cranmer were excluded from it. Cranmer was in it.

While serving Edward, still as Archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer made a huge impact on English society. Cranmer was highly influenced by the European Protestants and wanted the English Church to move in that direction. Cranmer was primarily responsible for the First Prayer Book, which was written in English and in June 1549 became the only legal form of worship in the land as a result of the 1 st Act of Uniformity. Those at the extreme side of Protestantism and Catholicism were unlikely to accept any compromise on any level but the act was written so that it had some appeal to the large majority of people in England. Ironically it was a European Protestant, Martin Bucer, who criticised the First Prayer Book. As a result of this, a Second Prayer Book was introduced in November 1552 – the result of the 2 nd Act of Uniformity.

In June 1553, Edward VI gave his agreement to Cranmer’s '42 Articles'. These became the backbone of the ‘39 Articles’ that were introduced in Elizabeth’s reign in 1563.

Edward died in 1553. His will, signed by Cranmer, stipulated that Lady Jane Grey was to succeed him. Instinct ‘told’ those in government and the English people, that the real heir to the throne was Mary. The tragic last few days in the life of Lady Jane Grey and the recognised legal succession of Mary led to the fall of Cranmer. Mary never forgave Cranmer for supporting Lady Jane Grey.

The new queen, a staunch Roman Catholic who made her allegiance to the Pope very public. Cranmer was sent straight to the Tower to join Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. On 13 November 1553 Cranmer and four others were brought to trial for treason, found guilty, and condemned to death. Throughout February 1554 Jane Grey and other rebels were executed. It was now time to deal with the religious leaders of the reformation and so on 8 March 1554 the Privy Council ordered Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer to be transferred to Bocardo prison in Oxford to await a second trial for heresy. During this time Cranmer was able to smuggle out a letter to Martyr who had fled to Strasbourg, the last surviving document written in his own hand. He stated that the desperate situation of the church was proof that it will eventually be delivered and wrote, "I pray that God may grant that we may endure to the end!"Cranmer remained isolated in Bocardo prison for seventeen months before the trial started on 12 September 1555. Although it took place in England, the trial was under papal jurisdiction and the final verdict would come from Rome. Under interrogation, Cranmer admitted to every fact that was placed before him, but he denied any treachery, disobedience, or heresy. The trial of Latimer and Ridley started shortly after Cranmer's but their verdicts came almost immediately and they were burnt at the stake on 16 October. Cranmer was taken to a tower to watch the proceedings. On 4 December, Rome decided Cranmer's fate by depriving him of the archbishopric and giving permission to the secular authorities to carry out their sentence.

In his final days Cranmer's circumstances changed, which led to several recantations. On 11 December, Cranmer was taken out of Bocardo and placed in the house of the Dean of Christ Church. This new environment was very different from that of his two years in prison. He was in an academic community and treated as a guest. Approached by a Dominican friar, Juan de Villagarcia, he debated the issues of papal supremacy and purgatory. In his first four recantations, produced between the end of January and mid-February, Cranmer submitted himself to the authority of the king and queen and recognised the pope as head of the church. On 14 February 1556, he was degraded from holy orders and returned to Bocardo. He had conceded very little and Edmund Bonner was not satisfied with these admissions. On 24 February a writ was issued to the mayor of Oxford and the date of Cranmer's execution was set for 7 March. Two days after the writ was issued, a fifth statement, the first which could be called a true recantation was issued. Cranmer repudiated all Lutheran and Zwinglian theology, fully accepted Catholic theology including papal supremacy and transubstantiation, and stated that there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church. He announced his joy of returning to the Catholic faith, asked for and received sacramental absolution, and participated in the mass. Cranmer's burning was postponed and under normal practice of canon law, he should have been absolved. Mary, however, decided that no further postponement was possible. His last recantation was issued on 18 March. It was a sign of a broken man, a sweeping confession of sin. Despite the stipulation in Canon Law that recanting heretics be reprieved, Mary was determined to make an example of Cranmer, arguing that "his iniquity and obstinacy was so great against God and your Grace that your clemency and mercy could have no place with him", and pressed ahead with his execution.

Cranmer was told that he would be able to make a final recantation but this time in public during a service at the University Church. He wrote and submitted the speech in advance and it was published after his death. At the pulpit on the day of his execution, he opened with a prayer and an exhortation to obey the king and queen, but he ended his sermon totally unexpectedly, deviating from the prepared script. He renounced the recantations that he had written or signed with his own hand since his degradation and as such he stated his hand would be punished by being burnt first. He then said, "And as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ's enemy, and Antichrist with all his false doctrine."He was pulled from the pulpit and taken to where Latimer and Ridley had been burnt six months before. As the flames drew around him, he fulfilled his promise by placing his right hand into the heart of the fire while saying "that unworthy hand" and his dying words were, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

Post Reformation

Archbishop Laud - a Major Disaster       [Contents]

There can be little doubt that William Laud did more harm to the Church of England than probably any other man. The wounds he inflicted and the mischief he wrought will never be fully repaired.

He was born in 1573 in the middle of Elizabeth's reign, and began to have influence in 1603 when James I had just come to the throne. How had the Reformation prospered her reign? True, the Church of England had been established, but so had a degree of toleration of Papists. Sadly by the end of her reign the Reformation truth was becoming diluted or even contaminated. Earnest, righteous, truth-proclaiming ministers and people were becoming fewer in number; though there was still widespread belief that Popery was a false religion.

Laud was physically weak, but intellectually vigorous and zealous in application. At St John's College Oxford his tutor was the notoriously unsound Buckeridge. Bishop Young observed his enthusiasm for the "father's councils and ecclesiastic historians" (i.e. pre-Reformation). This and his enduring self-confidence proved to be a dangerous mix. During his 11 years at Oxford he made it clear that he was only a very lukewarm Protestant, who befriended Popery and was an open enemy to the pure Gospel of Christ. He solemnized a most discreditable marriage, and on various occasions preached thoroughly unsound sermons. Joseph Hall, later Bishop of Norwich told him he should "Look at last out of your window to Jehu, and in a resolute courage cast down the Jezebel that hath bewitched you." And he asked him to learn some consistency and firmness, for Laud seemed able to switch camps whenever it suited him; so much so that neither side knew what he really thought. But he would soon show them!

From 1607 to 1622 he received many positions in quick succession. During this time he was publicly reprimanded by the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford for a Romish sermon. And when appointed Dean of Gloucester his first act was to move the Communion table from being among the choir to the 'Roman' East side. Both Bishop and people objected to no avail. The Bishop never entered his own cathedral again! Having the power of office, Laud was determined to have his own way and was indifferent to the opinion of his Bishop. This was similar to the whole Tractarian movement that sought to exalt the Lord's Supper to a position unwarranted by Scripture and invest it with superstitious sanctity.

In 1621 Laud was made Bishop of St David's, largely at the insistence of the Marquis of Buckingham and Williams, the Bishop of Lincoln. James gave in to Williams, but warned him that he would regret his choice. James was right.
1626 made Bishop of Bath and Wells and Dean of the Chapel Royal
1628 made Bishop of London
1630 made Chancellor of Oxford
1633 made Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of Durham University

From 1626 until 1640 he worked with great zeal in politics and Church to degrade both. His success is not disputed by any historians but he engineered such hatred throughout England that when Charles I had to summon the Long Parliament in 1640, one of their prime objectives was to get rid of Laud and Strafford. Neither the king nor their friends were able to parry the justified and united attack by the Commons. In Dec 1640 charges were made and he was committed to the Tower.
1.  Traitorously endeavoured to subvert the fundamental laws of the realm and persuade the king that he could levy money without consent of Parliament.
2.  Encouraged sermons and publications tending to the establishment of arbitrary power.
3. Interrupted and prevented the course of justice at Westminster Hall.
4.  Traitorously and corruptly sold justice and advised the king to sell judicial and other offices.
5.  Surreptitiously caused a book of canons to be published without lawful authority, and had unlawfully enforced subscription to it.
6.  Assumed a Papal and tyrannical power in ecclesiastical and temporal matters
7.  Laboured to subvert God's true religion and introduced Papal superstition and idolatry.
8.  Usurped the nomination to many ecclesiastical benefices and promoted persons who were Popishly affected or otherwise unsound in doctrine or corrupt in manners.
9.  Committed the licencing of books to chaplains notoriously disaffected to the reformed religion.
10.  Endeavoured to reconcile the Church of England to the Church of Rome, and held intelligence with priests and the Pope, and had permitted a Popish hierarchy to be established in this kingdom.
11.  Silenced many godly ministers, hindered the preaching of God's Word, cherished profaneness and ignorance and caused many to emigrate.
12.  Endeavoured to raise discord between the Church of England and other Reformed Churches, oppressed Dutch and French congregations in England.
13.  Laboured to introduce innovations in religion and government into Scotland, and to stir up war between the two countries.
14.  Tried to preserve himself from being questioned for these traitorous practices, laboured to divert the ancient course of parliamentary proceeding, and to incense the King against all Parliaments.

His friend Lord Strafford was executed. Laud's trial was a forgone conclusion even though many of the charges had very little evidence. His execution was as much a judicial murder as Thomas More or Cranmer. But Laud never deserved the title of Christian martyr that some have given him. It is the cause, not the degree of suffering or the injustice of the procedure that makes a martyr. However, Laud met his death bravely and gallantly.

Laud's character should not be judged only by his theology. He was not immoral or covetous; few archbishops have spent so little upon himself or given so much to promote learning or the fabric of the church. It would be absurd to call him a sound Protestant Churchman, and yet he not fully a Jesuit or a Papist. When archbishop he twice declined the offer of a cardinal's hat by the Pope. He was a political Churchman, not a minister of Christ, a preacher of the Gospel or a shepherd of souls. His private diary and sermons reveal no longing for the salvation of men's souls.

What was Laud's life policy and goal? What so constrained him to hard work?
Ryle believed that Laud objective was to make the Church of England less Protestant, less Evangelical. He thought the Reformers had gone much too far. Maybe to be united again with Rome was also a step too far - especially if it detracted English independence and power. He wanted to make the Sacraments the centre of church life rather than the preaching of God's Word. And to this end he endeavoured to fill the bench of bishops with like minded men.

Arguably the most important matter is to see the consequences of Laud's policies. He undoubtably did more harm than Gardiner, Bonner or Queen Mary! Why? Because England saw them to be obviously promoting a false, cruel religion. They may have hated Laud's politics and interference, but many saw Laud's promotion of tolerance in religious doctrine as wholesome. Men often prefer peace rather than standing up for the truth. They disliked the zeal of evangelical preachers and their desire for holy living. The Long Parliament hated the Church almost as much as the King - and this was largely due to Laud's interference in politics.

Later the ongoing consequence was that when the Stuarts returned, it seems that they had learned nothing. The tyranny of ecclesiastical law that the 1662 Act of Uniformity demanded was hated by half England. Men left the Church of England and formed 'Free Churches'. Away with all the liturgy, the Prayer Book, and the ecclesiastical structure - especially bishops! What a mess Laud had introduced. His desire to promote 'tolerance' rather than truth is still with us.

1.  Any attempt to un-Protestantize the Church is a grave danger to its future. The higher the office or the moral character of the person doing so, the greater the danger. Ryle believed that in his day the vast majority of Churchmen knew enough of Roman authority to wholly reject it and if it ever came they would just leave the church. Today most folk do not realise the vast errors Rome nor their historical behaviour. Most 'High Churchmen' would quite happily unite with Rome. The Protestant doctrine is no longer valued or protected. This lesson has clearly not been learnt.
2.  Great harm can be done by a very small party when it is both united and determined. The majority like peace and quiet and are not prepared to do battle with error even if they don't much like it. People will follow leaders of great character especially if they are humourous and friendly (like Bishop 'Bill' today). Beware of popular opinion when they clearly lack Biblical truth and zeal for the Gospel rather than the Church. Ritualists who play at Popery were only a few in Ryle's day; they wield considerable power today. Such people, who are often very sincere find vestments, liturgy, customs and traditions very attractive. They are more concerned about 'joining the church' than about being saved from sin. Their solution for convicted souls who are earnest for sin-relieving salvation, is to get involved with the church rather than for truth of God's Word and the completed work of Christ on the Cross. This is of course highly dangerous.
3.  The importance of the action by the laity. In 1640 it was the Commons that put an end to Laud, not the united action of Bishops. We may approve of the way they acted, but there was only one way to silence Laud! Today, the Prime Minister chose an Archbishop of Canterbury who is in favour of homosexuals in the church. Dr Williams then tried to promote such a man to be Bishop of Reading; he only failed because of public outcry by the laity. (Later Dr Williams made him Dean of St Albans instead with little trouble.) But generally the laity are much too relaxed and unwilling to upset the 'apple-cart'. they see so little danger in Popery, especially if it doesn't affect their local church too much.

Ryle's warnings have never needed greater emphasis. If the danger was great then, consider how much more vital it is now. We pray earnestly, but the power of the blasphemous EU get greater every day. The Lord Almighty is ridiculed, scoffed at or completely ignored. Leaders say 'Creation' never happened, and that Muslims worship the same God. Judgement is seen as just a Victorian threat. I weep! I cry, 'Come Lord Jesus, come quickly'. It seems that the scriptures indicate there is no other solution. But what a glorious solution!!

Richard Baxter and the Puritans       [Contents]

There are periods in the history of a nation that leave an indelible mark. The rise of the Puritans and their desire for religious freedom is one such time. Baxter lived from 1615 to 1691 - a time of great spiritual change. A time from which many lessons can be learned to guide other generations.

One remarkable feature is the move backward from the principles of the Reformation. Sound evangelical teaching was decried, preaching was no longer valued and ceremonies and Popish ornaments were welcomed. Communion tables were moved from the middle of the chancel to the east end, placed behind rails and were called 'altars'. All forms of activity were encouraged on 'the Lord's Day'. The main mischief maker and prime agent of all this change was Archbishop Laud; both Church and Throne fell, and neither fully recovered afterwards. The harm that Queen Mary did to the Church of England was nowhere near as great or as lasting as the changes that Laud made.

The 2nd major change was the civil war, that huge family quarrel that brought glory to none and great suffering to many - if not every person in England. Remember Edge Hill, Newbury, Marston Moor, Naesby and Worcester that so divided and weakened the nation. Yet by the grace of God, out of it emerged a Parliament, a Monarchy and a Constitution that has been the envy of nations for 3½ centuries. Only now are evil leaders again squandering our rich heritage and with lies and spin surrendering our national identity to a blasphemous dictatorship called the EU.

The 3rd major feature of these times was the rise and fall of Oliver Cromwell. There are many views of this remarkable man whose letters suggest him to be a sincere Christian, but some of his actions cast doubt on this. Few men have ever won supreme power by the sword, and then used that power with such moderation. His name was feared all over Europe, including the Vatican. His private life was irreproachable and he enforced a high standard of morality in the nation - in contrast to the Stuarts.

A 4th important characteristic of these years was the suicidal blindness of the Church of England - there were some excellent bishops but they were always a small minority. The Church attempted to compel uniformity and prohibited any prayer or worship of Jesus Christ at home if there should be more than 5 persons present (the 1st offence was 3 months in prison!). Stiff penalties were imposed upon any who dared infringe even petty ecclesiastical by-laws. As a result there was much discontent among those persecuted, and much disaffection to the Church. Plain Englishmen saw that a man may gamble, swear and get drunk without any need to fear the Law, but people who met after service to pray or sing hymns or read scripture were in grave danger of severe punishment. It was rightly seen as a travesty of justice when Charles II and his companions were free to waste the nation's wealth while men like Baxter, Bunyan and Jenkyn were sent to gaol. The Act of Uniformity in 1662 was successfully designed to be offensive to the Puritans - 2000 of the best clergymen resigned their livings. So many sheep were left without a shepherd. Charles II was brought back on the distinct understanding that the Church should continue on a basis that would satisfy the Puritans. As soon as he gained power he renegued on his promise. Three years later the Oxford Act forbade these 2000 ejected ministers to live within 5 miles of any corporate town or any place where they had formally preached. Archbishop Sheldon, like Laud before him, thus did the cause of true religion much harm. Between them, they sowed the seed of endless division and rottenness that still continues today. Much history of the Stewarts and the Commonwealth has been distorted - Ryle recommends the two volumes by Marsden, "History of the Puritans".

Richard Baxter was born in 1615 to a pious Shropshire man - a county where true faith was very rare. Yet he was among those who were determined to serve the Lord from his earliest days. Without any university training he was ordained in 1637, with no knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, he was a converted man and moved by the Holy Spirit - and thus better qualified than many others. He writes of himself, "I knew that the want of academic honours was like to make me contemptible with most. But yet, expecting to be so quickly in another world, the great concernment of miserable souls did prevail with me against all impediments." Baxter always suffered ill-health; it urged him on to preach the truth and endeavour to save souls while he was still able. His life was never still for long and remained richly varied. His preaching was simple, powerful and magnetic. His churches were always full with ordinary men earnestly desiring truth and direction. He was earnest in his visitation of all his parishioners pleading with them to flee from the wrath to come and be reconciled to God. Others entangled themselves in politics and religious debate, but not Baxter. His pastoral and preaching ability was matched also by his prolific writing. His best are, "The Saint's Rest", "The Reformed Pastor", and "The Call to the Unconverted" (of which 20,000 were printed in one year!) All this and he was continually hounded, fined and imprisoned - not that he had done any wrong. Finally, the Church threw him out in 1662. What blindness. What sheer folly. In 1685 he was tried by Chief Justice Jeffreys on the charge of publishing seditious matter. But there was no justice in this court. He was fined 500 marks, which it was obvious he was unable to pay, so he was committed to prison until he should do so. He remained in Southwark gaol for 2 years.

His last 4 years were spent quietly in Charterhouse Square, where he was allowed to preach freely - now the days of persecution were over. Here he taught men of Jesus Christ and of another world. He nearly died in the pulpit but was spared a short time longer. While on his death bed he was same man that he had been for the previous 50 years; his last hours were spent preparing others and himself to meet his Maker. To his friends he said, "You come hither to learn to die. I am not the only person that must go this way. Have a care of the vain, deceitful world, and the lust of the flesh. Be sure you choose God for your portion, heaven for your home, God's glory for your end, and God's Word for your rule. Then you need never fear but we shall meet again with comfort." When one friend comforted him with the remembrance of the good that many had received, he replied, "I was but a pen in God's hand, and what praise is due to a pen?!" During his painful sickness when asked how he did, his reply was, "Better than I deserve to be, but not so well as I hope to be." The Lord released him from his consistent and faithful service in this world on 8th December 1691. Richard Baxter left a name which must be dear to every lover of holiness and every friend of religious liberty.

Many see the Puritans as rebellious, critical, intolerant fanatics. But England, the Church and America have so much to be grateful for. They stood as a bulwark of truth in a time when men much preferred hedonistic pursuits. They alone prevented Laud's Popish desire to carry England back into the arms of Rome.

James II and the 7 Bishops       [Contents]

James II only reigned for 3 years (1685-1688), but these years contained a more disgraceful list of cruel, stupid, unjust and tyrannical action than any British monarch except Mary. It was an era of mediocrity led by a narrow-minded obstinate 'Roman' king. He strained every muscle to extend Popery in England and abandon Protestantism. He also ensured that moral laxity was the order of the day and many judges were corrupt and ignorant. The Church of England had not recovered from the terrible loss following the Act of Uniformity. Add to that 100 years of Jesuit infiltration and intrigue to cause divisions wherever possible. There were 5 major events in his short reign:

1.      Brutal treatment of Non-conformists and Dissenters. James II hated the Puritans. Baxter was tried at Westminster Hall by Judge Jeffries on a charge of publishing seditious matter in his "Paraphrase of the New Testament". Naturally he was found guilty and languished in Southwark gaol for 2 years (See Richard Baxter). In Scotland an even worse case of injustice is seen. One old widow Margaret Maclachlan and an 18 year old girl Margaret Wilson were condemned for no other reason than being Non-conformist. They were tied to stakes on the shore of Solway Firth and drowned by the incoming tide. Maclachlan's stake was nearer the water and died first in the hope that younger one would abjure. By God's supreme grace she didn't even when temporarily released and re-tied to her stake. Her epitaph remain in Wigton churchyard. Such was the sad state of England as that time, there was no one willing to object to such actions. James persecuted and prospered.

2.      He cruelly punished those English counties that in any way supported the Monmouth rebellion, which ended in the battle of Sedgemoor. Colonel Kirke and Judge Jeffries saw to it that everyone who had even remotely taken any part were either hanged (and often quartered too) or deported for life. Nearly every town in Somerset had bodies hanging in irons or heads stuck on poles as a grizzly reminder. As a result, when the Prince of Orange landed in Torbay the western counties joined him to a man.

3.      He dared to gag the pulpit and stop anyone who preached against Popery. Preaching has always been the principal agency God has chosen to convert the souls of men and enable them to live a holy life. Rome has always exalted the ceremonial and depreciated true preaching of God's Word. Any minister who dared to preach anything against Rome was fined or was suspended - and that included the Bishop of London! But this folly worked against James. The Church was roused and with great courage they all began to preach about the errors of Rome, and being supported by their congregations, there was little James could do about it. Printing presses up and down the land soon followed suit. It is a good example of God bringing good out of evil. Like Haman, he would soon fall to rise no more.

4.      He tried to force Oxford and Cambridge, the only two Universities, to be ruled by his supporters. They refused and deeply resented his intrusion and the breaking of the law. James thus completely alienated the most able men of England. Even Oxford, in which Rome had secured a foothold in Laud's time, was unwilling to yield to James. The stakes were high, for he who had the backing of the universities, would soon have the backing of the best leaders in England. But again James over-reached and tried to force his will. He failed.

5.      He attempted to replace the nobility and gentry and replace them with servile creatures who would not oppose his Romanizing plans. What incredible folly. He need a new House of Commons. He set about trying to get the county Lord Lieutenants to reveal which of them, their deputies and JP's supported him. Most refused, as did the Dukes and Earls. James' only success was to turn the clergy, the intellectuals and the leaders of the nation against him in spectacular fashion. Deservedly, he was thus left alone and friendless.

The last and most foolish act of James was the trial of 7 bishops. In May 1688 James ordered a Declaration to be read in every parish on two successive Sundays that suspended all penal laws against Nonconformists and authorised both Roman Catholics and Dissenters to worship publicly. The Bishops were caught. If they refused to read the Declaration the king would be angry and the people would accuse them of refusing liberty, but if they read it they would be allowing the return of Popery. To their great credit the Nonconformists immediately saw the trap and rejected the Declaration before it was uttered. Archbishop William Sancroft asked as many bishops as could make the journey in the very limited time to come to Lambeth. 6 came. And they signed a protest that was faithful to the throne, that the Lords of Parliament would at the proper time consider the Nonconformists and that the king had no right to declare in matters ecclesiastical so it would require the solemn publication of an illegal Declaration during Divine Service in the House of God. They fully realised that Protestantism was in huge danger and determined to resist the attack. The 7 bishops presented James with the petition at 10pm of Friday evening. Overnight it was printed and sent all over London. Only 6/100 parishes read the declaration on Sunday morning. Two weeks later when it was due to be read all over the rest of England, only a tine number did so. In Norfolk only 4/1200 parishes. 5 days later the 7 Bishops were summoned by the king to appear at Whitehall. They took with them the best legal advice and the king gained nothing. But they were still committed to the Tower. It caused a massive show of support all over England for the 7 elderly prelates. But the King went on and brought them for trial. The jury gave a 'Not guilty' verdict and the joy all over London was unsurpassed. Within 24 hours a letter signed by 7 leading Englishmen left these shores for Holland to invite William of Orange to come over with an army and overthrow the Stuart dynasty. The Archbishop sent a pastoral letter to all bishops entreating them to have a tender regard for the Protestant Dissenters and 'to visit them at their homes and receive them kindly'. Also he asked them to take every opportunity to 'assure them English bishops are irreconcilable enemies to the errors, superstitions, idolatries and tyrannies of Rome.' And finally he urged them to 'exhort Dissenters to join with us in fervent prayer to the God of peace for the universal blessed union of all reformed churches'. 6 months later James II had fled and William and Mary were placed upon the English throne. Before enthroned both Houses passed the "Declaration of Rights". It's first sentence was 'The late king James did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant religion - by assuming a power of dispensing with laws and by committing and prosecuting divers worthy prelates'. and the last sentence was the Oath of Supremacy which says 'I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath, or ought to have jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.' Such was the enduring result of the trial of the courageous 7 Bishops, to whom we owe our second deliverance from Popery.

Conclusion and Some Lessons       [Contents]

1. Any attempt to un-Protestantize the Church is a grave danger to its future. The higher the office or the moral character of the person doing so, the greater the danger. Ryle believed that in his day the vast majority of Churchmen knew enough of Roman authority to wholly reject it and if it ever came they would just leave the church. Today most folk do not realise the vast errors Rome nor their historical behaviour. Most ‘High Churchmen’ would quite happily unite with Rome. The Protestant doctrine is no longer valued or protected. This lesson has clearly not been learnt.

2. Great harm can be done by a very small party when it is both united and determined. The majority like peace and quiet and are not prepared to do battle with error even if they don't much like it. People will follow leaders of great character especially if they are humourous and friendly (like Bishop 'Bill' today). Beware of popular opinion when they clearly lack Biblical truth and zeal for the Gospel rather than the Church. Ritualists who play at Popery were only a few in Ryle's day; they wield considerable power today. Such people, who are often very sincere find vestments, liturgy, customs and traditions very attractive. They are more concerned about 'joining the church' than about being saved from sin. Their solution for those convicted souls who are earnest for sin-relieving salvation, is to get involved with the church rather than for truth of God's Word and the completed work of Christ on the Cross. This is of course highly dangerous.

3. The importance of the action by the laity. In 1640 it was the Commons that put an end to Laud, not the united action of Bishops. We may approve of the way they acted, but there was only one way to silence Laud! Today, the Prime Minister chose an Archbishop of Canterbury who is in favour of homosexuals in the church. Dr Williams then tried to promote such a man to be Bishop of Reading; he only failed because of public outcry by the laity. (Later Dr Williams made him Dean of St Albans instead with little trouble.) But generally the laity are much too relaxed and unwilling to upset the 'apple-cart'. Many are often deceived and show no aversion to either add or subtract from Scripture. They also see little danger in Popery, especially if it doesn’t affect their local church too much.

Ryle's warnings have never needed greater emphasis. If the danger was great then, consider how much more vital it is now. We pray earnestly, but the power of the blasphemous EU gets greater every day. The Lord Almighty is ridiculed, scoffed at, or completely ignored. Leaders say 'Creation' never happened, and that Muslims worship the same God. Judgement is seen as just a Victorian threat. I weep! I cry, 'Come Lord Jesus, come quickly'. It seems that the scriptures indicate there is no other solution. But what a glorious solution!!

It is at our own peril that we forget what our Reformation forbears died for. Read Foxe's Book of Martyrs and 'The Reformation in England' by Merle d'Aubigne to learn why Rome tried so hard to quench the light that dawned when the scriptures were translated into English and the truth was revealed. They even added the Scriptures to the index of forbidden books for laymen in 1229 AD. Many of these errors are not peripheral, secondary issues about which Christians may disagree. They are fundamental truths about our salvation, which the light of God's Word in our native language revealed during the Reformation. Not surprisingly, Rome vigorously repressed this. Rome has never admitted anything wrong in their unscriptural theology, their idolatrous practices, or their murder of Christians and Jews. They claim the Reformation and the Crusades were an unfortunate aberration when part of the church was hijacked by some extremists. While the idea of ecumenism and forgetting the past sounds nice, it remains a deadly folly until Rome is willing to repent. The current Pope Francis has said that he 'regrets the Reformation', but that is a long way from admitting that the Catholic church was wrong to murder over 300 Protestant Reformation leaders in England. There has yet to be an apology. Neither have they repented over the cruel treatment of the Albigenses, or the wholesale murders in the Spanish Inquisition. But in 2015 Francis did seek forgiveness from the Waldensian evangelical church for their historic persecution. Maybe he will repeat this for all Reformation Protestants. Even so the 24 major errors listed below will remain.

God's cry in the closing days of the northern tribes of Israel came through his prophet Hosea. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."  Hos 46

Is this still God's cry?

God’s command at the end is to Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins ... Rev 184 In the context this refers to the evil 'Babylon' system, but it is equally well applied to 'Rome'. Both are systems that turn men away from God by the love of money, power and false religion.

Let us discern the truth and give time to learn what the Scriptures say. Let us thoroughly test all that is prophesied, taught and practised in the Bible. It is the only safe way to learn the truth. We need to heed the triple warning of the Lord in Math 24 to beware of being deceived in the last days. Popularity is very seductive!

See 'Why were our Reformers Burned?' By J C Ryle  Use back arrow to return

See 24 Roman Catholic Errors  Use back arrow to return

Lessons to be learnt:
Never allow this nation to be ruled by a Papist.
The strength of the Church of England lies in loyalty to Protestant principles.
Unflinching opposition to the superstitions and ritual of the Church of Rome.
Guard the supreme authority of Scripture and preaching of the Word carefully.
Unity and peace are bought dear if at the expense of truth.

Outline of History       [Contents]

1509 - 1547 Henry VIII
      1517   Luther publishes 95 Theses
      1521   Henry VIII made ‘Defender of the Faith’ by Pope Leo X
      1532   Thomas More retires as Chancellor
      1533   Marriage to Catherine annulled by Archbishop Cranmer
      1534   Act of Supremacy makes Henry VIII head of the church
      1535   More and Cardinal Fisher executed. Thomas Cromwell made Vicar-General
      1536   Monasteries stripped of power and RC decorations.   Tyndale burned for translating Bible
      1538   Orders English ‘Great Bible’ to be placed in every parish
      1540   Cromwell executed for 'trumped-up' treason

1547 - 1553 Edward VI   (Two 'Protectors' managed Government as Edward only 9 years old)
      1549   Mass declared illegal
                 Cranmer and Latimer's English Book of Common Prayer introduced
      1553   Cranmer made Archbishop and publishes 42 Articles (later to be 39 articles)

1553 - 1558 'Bloody' Mary
      1553   Married Phillip of Spain - Philip went to Spain and never returned
      1554   Wyat leads Protestant rebellion but defeated and executed
      1555-1558   288 to be burned alive
                  1 archbishop, 4 bishops 21 clergy, 203 laymen, 55 women and 4 children
                  Few Englishmen were sorry when Mary died aged 42

1558 - 1603 Elizabeth I
      1558   Appoints Matthew Parker Archbishop. Protestant with RC sympathy
      1562   Aids Protestant Huguenots in French wars of religion
      1563   17,000 die in London plague
                  Her reign was peaceful, but at the expense of truth. Early Protestant 'fire' became sleepy

1603 - 1625 James I (& VI of Scotland) great grandson of Henry VIII's sister
                  Protestant but tolerant of Catholics
      1604   Drew up Constitutions and Canons against Nonconformists
      1605   Gunpowder plot
      1611   AV Bible published
      1620   Pilgrim Fathers sailed to America

1625 - 1649 Charles I
      1628   'Book of Sports' defined permissible recreations on Sunday
      1629   Dissolves Parliament. Reigned supreme Star Chamber Court of High Commission
      1640   Civil war till 1649. Charles I Executed

1649 - 1660 Commonwealth led by Oliver Cromwell

1660 - 1685 Charles II
      1661   Corporation Act excludes Nonconformists from municipal office
      1662   Act of Uniformity compels Puritans to use Book of Common Prayer. 2000 clergy leave C of E.
      1664   Conventicle Act forbids any worship except with Book of C.P.
      1665   '5 Mile' Act forbids Nonconformist clergy within 5 miles of parish town
      1665   Plague again strikes London followed by Great Fire of London (two warnings by God unheeded)
      1670   Secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV fails. C II agrees to Catholicism in exchange for money
      1673   Test Act keeps Catholics from political office
      1678   The Pilgrims Progress published
      1685   Charles II converts to Rome on deathbed

1685 - 1688 James II
      1685   Monmouth (illegitimate son of Charles II) rebellion defeated at Sedgemoor.
                  Bloody Assizes follow, 320 executed, 880 sent as slaves to US
                  Hated and persecuted all Protestants. Determined to restore Catholicism
                  Tried to control Oxford and Cambridge and replace nobility with Catholics - both failed
      1688   Arrested 7 Bishops on sedition. 'Not guilty'.
                  William of Orange invited to bring army and become king. James II flees.

Principal Martyrs during Reign of Henry VIII  1509-1547       [Contents]

1517    John Browne Christ was once offered to take away the sins
of many. It is by this sacrifice we are saved,
and not by the repetitions of the priests.
1518 Thomas Man  
1519 7 humble parents  
1521 John Scrivener +
3 poor Lincolnshire men
1528 Clark, Summer,
Bayley and Goodman
Died in Oxford prison
1530 Thomas Hitton Salvation comes by faith and not by works,
and Christ giveth it to whosoever he willeth.
1531 Thomas Bilney Jesus, Jesus ... I believe, I believe ...
1532 James Bainham God forgive thee and show thee more mercy
than thou showest me. The Lord forgive Sir Thomas More.
1533 John Fryth,
Andrew Hilett
1535 Thomas More,
Bishop Fisher
Both beheaded
1535 Priors, Laurence,
Webster and Haughton.
14 Anabaptists
1536 Anne Boleyn O Jesus, receive my soul.
1536 Pole, Darcy,
Hussey +67 others

Encouraged Papists to strangle and burn him

1537 4 Anabaptists  
1537 Lambert  
1540 Thomas Cromwell Lord! into thy hands I commend my soul;
Lord Jesus! Receive my spirit!
1541 Queen Catherine Howard
+ Lady Rochford

Total burned 63  + 3 died in prison

Some erroneously quote John Fisher and Thomas More as martyrs
for the Roman Church. They were not martyrs. They were executed
by Henry VIII for refusing to accept him as head of the church in England.
Their crime was thus political, not theological.

Principal Martyrs during Reign of Mary  1553-1558       [Contents]

1554    Lady Jane Grey Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.
1555 John Rogers
Lawrence Saunders

Bishop John Hooper
Dr Rowland Taylor
William Hunter
Rawlins White
George Marsh
William Flower
Thomas Haukes
Latimer and Ridley

John Philpot

"That which I have preached I will seal with my blood."
"Welcome, thou cross of Christ!
welcome everlasting life!"
"Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me."
"Receive my soul into your hands."
"Lord, receive my spirit."
"O Lord, receive my spirit."
"Father of heaven have mercy upon me."
"O thou Son of God receive my soul."
Lifted his hands to heaven and clapped 3 times.
Ridley - "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either
assuage the fury of the flame,
or else strengthen us to abide it."
Latimer - "Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man.
We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a
candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out."
"Shall I disdain to suffer at the stake, when my
Redeemer did not refuse to suffer the most vile death
upon the cross for me?"  Then recited Ps 107 and 108.
1556 John Lomas
Agnes Snoth
Anne Wright
Joan Sole
Joan Catmer

Thomas Cranmer

Hugh Laverick
+ John Aprice

All 5 sang hosannahs to the glorified Saviour
until their breath was extinguished. What a song!

"This unworthy right hand" (repeated many tmes)
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Hugh threw away his crutch and said, "Be of good
cheer my brother; for my lord of London is our good
physician; he will heal us both shortly - thee of thy
blindness, and me of my lameness." They sank down in
the fire, to rise to immortality!

Total burned 288  + 34 died in prison