“Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
What of the man tempted to despair? When a man after the breach of conscience by some grievous sin, is plunged into this gulf, that he thinks verily hell is prepared for him, and he must needs be damned. What remedy now in such a case? Answer: Some think the only way is to propound unto him, the grounds of universal grace,; as that, because he is a man, Christ died for him, for Christ died for all. But this is slender comfort, for the despairing conscience will thus reply, God indeed has done his part, but I refused God’s grace when it was offered. Therefore another way of comfort must be sought, which is, by proving unto him out of God’s word, that he is within the covenant, and that the promises of grace and life do belong unto him. For the effecting whereof, one main ground is here propounded; to wit, that though a want all righteousness, yet if he truly hunger after it, he is blessed. And the right applying of this ground is this: search must be made, whether the party thus despairing, has in him any spark of true grace, or no. And this will be known by these two demands: first, whether he dislikes his sins because they are sins; secondly, whether he truly desires to be reconciled unto God, to repent and believe in Christ. Now if his conscience tells him, that these things be in him indeed, then he is brought within the compass of this blessedness here pronounced by Christ, and has title to this promise, that he shall be satisfied. For he that is grieved for his sin, because thereby he has offended God, and withal has an earnest desire of mercy and grace, to repent and believe, is truly blessed. And therefore it may be said unto him, seeing you find in heart this grief for sin, and desire of grace, you are blessed and shall be satisfied. Thus may the distressed soul receive comfort; but as for them that live in sin, here is no comfort, for they have no true dislike of sin, no purpose or desire to repent thereof.
The subject matter to be preached is here called “the word of God.” Although that which is spoken by ministers is only the sound of a man’s voice, yet that which true ministers of God preach in exercising their ministerial function is the word of God. Thus it is said of the apostles, “They spoke the word of God,” Acts 4:31, and it is said of the people of Antioch, that “almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God,” Acts 13:44.
That which ministers do or ought to preach is called the word of God in four respects.
1. In regard to the primary author of it, which is God. God did immediately inspire extraordinary ministers and thereby informed them in his will. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” 2 Peter 1:21. Therefore they would commonly use these introductory phrases, “The word of the Lord,” Hosea 1:1; “Thus says the Lord,” Isa 7:7; and an apostle says, “I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you,” 1 Cor. 11:23. As for ordinary ministers, they have God’s word written and left upon record for their use, “For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” 2 Tim. 3:16. They therefore that ground what they preach upon the Scripture, and deliver nothing but what is agreeable to it, preach the word of God.
2. In regard to the subject-matter which they preach, which is the will of God; as the apostle exhorts, to “understand what the will of the Lord is,” Eph. 5:17, and to “prove what is that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God,” Rom. 12:2.
3. In regard to the purpose of preaching, which is the glory of God, and making known “the manifold wisdom of God,” Eph. 3:10.
4. In regard to the mighty effect and power of it, for preaching God’s word is “the power of God unto salvation, Rom. 1:16. Preaching the word of God is “mighty through God to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. 10:4,5. For “the word of God is quick and powerful,” etc., Heb. 4:12.
So close ought ministers to hold to God’s word in their preaching, that they should not dare to swerve away from it in anything. The apostle pronounces a curse against him, whosoever he is, that shall preach any other word, Gal. 1:8,9.
Therefore we have just cause to avoid such teachers as preach contrary to this doctrine, Rom. 16:17, 2 John 10. The whole body of Roman Catholicism is to be rejected for this reason. So are the manifold errors and heresies which have been broached in former ages, and in this our age. The feigning of new light and immediate inspiration in these days is a mere pretence.
The Right Hearing of Preaching
by this subject matter of preaching the word of God, we may receive a good direction to observe two caveats enjoined by Christ concerning hearing:
The first is concerning the matter which we hear, “Take heed what you hear,” Mark 4:24. We must hear nothing with approval except what we know to be the word of God. We must, therefore, be well acquainted with the Scriptures ourselves, and by them test the things which we hear, whether they are the word of God or not, as the men of Berea did, Acts 17:11.
The second caveat is concerning the manner of hearing, “Take heed how you hear,” Luke 18:18. That which we know to be grounded upon the Scriptures we must receive, “not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God,” 1 Thess. 2:13. We must with reverence attend to it; we must in our hearts believe, and we must in our lives obey it.
Preach the Pure Word
It is God’s word that does convert, quicken, comfort, and build up, or, on the other side, wound and beat down. What is the reason that there was so great an alteration made by the ministry of Christ and his disciples, by the apostles and others after them, indeed, by Luther, and other ministers of reformed churches? They did not preach traditions of elders like the scribes, nor men’s inventions like the Roman Catholics do. They preached the pure word of God. The more purely God’s word is preached, the more deeply it pierces and the more kindly it works.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost?” (Luke 14:28)
Ponder, my soul, over this very striking image of your Lord’s, concerning the divine life. The picture of a builder is most aptly chosen; for the Christian builder is building for eternity. And the figure of a warrior, which our Lord also joins to it, is no less so, for the battle is for life, and that life is eternal. Have you counted the cost? Have you entered upon the work? Is the foundation-stone, which God hath laid in Zion, the rock on which you are building?
Pause and examine. Be the cost what it may; the loss of earthly friends; the parting with every worldly pursuit; the scorn, contempt, and derision of all mankind; indeed, the loss of life itself: if these come in the way of competition, are you ready to give them all up?-When you have answered these inquiries, go on, and see that your foundation be really fixed on Christ.
If so, it must have been previously sought for, by digging deep into the natural state in which you were born. Jesus must have been first determined to be most essentially necessary, and most essentially precious, before the spiritual building of the soul was made to rest upon him. And, when found, unless the whole of the building rests entirely upon him, it will, as a column out of its centre, still totter. Oh! it is blessed to make Christ the all in all of the spiritual temple; blessed to make him the first in point of order; blessed to make him the first in point of strength, to support and bear the weight of the whole building; blessed to make him the grand cement, to unite and keep together, in one harmonious proportion and regularity, every part of the building; and blessed to bring forth the top-stone of the building, by his strength and glory, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.”
Precious Jesus! May it be found that I have so sat down, counted the cost, and formed my whole plan, in your strength, and to your praise; that whatever oppositions, like the Tobiahs and Sanballats of old, I may meet within the work, I may feel the sweetness and encouragement of that blessed Scripture, and exult with the prophet: “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” Zech 4:7
After labouring for some time in Hindustan Dr and Mrs Judson finally established themselves at Rangoon in the Burman Empire, in 1813. In 1824 war broke out between the British East India Company and the emperor of Burma. Dr and Mrs Judson and Dr Price, who were at Ava, the capital of the Burman Empire, when the war commenced, were immediately arrested and confined for several months. The account of the sufferings of the missionaries was written by Mrs Judson and is given in her own words.
“Rangoon, May 26, 1826.
“My beloved Brother,
“I commence this letter with the intention of giving you the particulars of our captivity and sufferings at Ava. How long my patience will allow my reviewing scenes of disgust and horror, the conclusion of this letter will determine. I had kept a journal of everything that had transpired from our arrival at Ava but destroyed it at the commencement of our difficulties.
“The first certain intelligence we received of the declaration of war by the Burmese, was on our arrival at Tsenpyoo-kywon, about a hundred miles this side of Ava, where part of the troops, under the command of the celebrated Bandoola, had encamped. As we proceeded on our journey, we met Bandoola himself, with the remainder of his troops, gaily equipped, seated on his golden barge, and surrounded by a fleet of gold war boats, one of which was instantly despatched the other side of the river to hail us and make all necessary inquiries. We were allowed to proceed quietly on when he had informed the messenger that we were Americans, not English, and we’re going to Ava in obedience to the command of his Majesty.
“On our arrival at the capital, we found that Dr Price was out of favour at court, and that suspicion rested on most of the foreigners than at Ava. Your brother visited at the palace two or three times, but found the king’s manner toward him very different from what it formerly had been; and the queen, who had hitherto expressed wishes for my speedy arrival, now made no inquiries after me, nor intimated a wish to see me. Consequently, I made no effort to visit at the palace, though almost daily invited to visit some of the branches of the royal family, who were living in their own houses, out of the palace enclosure. Under these circumstances, we thought our most prudent course lay in prosecuting our original intention of building a house, and commencing missionary operations as occasion offered, thus endeavouring to convince the government that we had really nothing to do with the present war.
“In two or three weeks after our arrival, the king, queen, all the members of the royal family, and most of the officers of government, returned to Amarapora, in order to come and take possession of the new palace in the customary style.
“I dare not attempt a description of that splendid day when majesty with all its attendant glory entered the gates of the golden city, and amid the acclamations of millions, I may say, took possession of the palace. The saupwars of the provinces bordering on China, all the viceroys and high officers of the kingdom were assembled on the occasion, dressed in their robes of state, and ornamented with the insignia of their office. The white elephant, richly adorned with gold and jewels, was one of the most beautiful objects in the procession. The king and queen alone were unadorned, dressed in the simple garb of the country; they, hand in hand, entered the garden in which we had taken our seats, and where a banquet was prepared for their refreshment. All the riches and glory of the empire were on this day exhibited to view. The number and immense size of the elephants, the numerous horses, and the great variety of vehicles of all descriptions, far surpassed anything I have ever seen or imagined. Soon after his majesty had taken possession of the new palace, an order was issued that no foreigner should be allowed to enter, excepting Lansago. We were a little alarmed at this but concluded it was from political motives, and would not, perhaps, essentially affect us.
“For several weeks nothing took place to alarm us, and we went on with our school. Mr J. preached every Sabbath, all the materials for building a brick house were procured, and the masons had made considerable progress in raising the building.
“On the twenty-third of May, 1824, just as we had concluded worship at the Doctor’s house, the other side of the river, a messenger came to inform us that Rangoon was taken by the English. The intelligence produced a shock, in which was a mixture of fear and joy. Mr Gouger, a young merchant residing at Ava, was then with us and had much more reason to fear than the rest of us. We all, however, immediately returned to our house, and began to consider what was to be done. Mr. G. went to Prince Thar-yar-wadee, the king’s most influential brother, who informed him he need not give himself any uneasiness, as he had mentioned the subject to his majesty, who had replied, that ‘the few foreigners residing at Ava had nothing to do with the war, and should not be molested.’
“The government were now all in motion. An army of ten or twelve thousand men, under the command of the Kyee-woon-gyee, were sent off in three or four days and were to be joined by the Sakyer-woon-gyee, who had previously been appointed viceroy of Rangoon, and who was on his way thither, when the news of its attack reached him. No doubt was entertained of the defeat of the English; the only fear of the king was that the foreigners hearing of the advance of the Burmese troops, would be so alarmed as to flee on board their ships and depart before there would be time to secure them as slaves. ‘Bring for me,’ said a wild young buck of the palace, ‘six kala pyoo, (white strangers,) to row my boat;’ and ‘to me,’ said the lady of Woon-gyee, ‘send four white strangers to manage the affairs of my house, as I understand they are trusty servants.’ The war boats, in high glee, passed our house, the soldiers singing and dancing, and exhibiting gestures of the most joyful kind. Poor fellows! said we, you will probably never dance again. And so it proved, for few if any ever saw again their native home.
“At length, Mr Judson and Dr Price were summoned to a court of examination, where a strict inquiry was made relative to all they knew. The great point seemed to be whether they had been in the habit of making communications to foreigners, of the state of the country, etc. They answered that they had always written to their friends in America, but had no correspondence with English officers, or the Bengal government. After their examination, they were not put in confinement as the Englishmen had been but were allowed to return to their houses. In examining the accounts of Mr G it was found that Mr J. and Dr Price had taken money from him to a considerable amount. Ignorant, as were the Burmese, of our mode of receiving money, by orders on Bengal, this circumstance, to their suspicious minds, was a sufficient evidence that the missionaries were in the pay of the English, and very probably spies. It was thus represented to the king, who, in an angry tone, ordered the immediate arrest of the ‘two teachers.’
“On the eighth of June, just as we were preparing for dinner, in rushed an officer, holding a black book, with a dozen Burmans, accompanied by one, whom, from his spotted face, we knew to be an executioner and a ‘son of the prison.’ ‘Where is the teacher?’ was the first inquiry. Mr. Judson presented himself. ‘You are called by the king,’ said the officer; a form of speech always used when about to arrest a criminal. The spotted man instantly seized Mr Judson, threw him on the floor, and produced the small cord, the instrument of torture. I caught hold of his arm; ‘Stay, (said I,) I will give you money.’ ‘Take her too,’ said the officer; ‘she also is a foreigner.’ Mr. Judson, with an imploring look, begged they would let me remain until further orders. The scene was now shocking beyond description.
“The whole neighborhood had collected–the masons at work on the brick house threw down their tools, and ran–the little Burman children were screaming and crying–the Bengalee servants stood in amazement at the indignities offered their master–and the hardened executioner, with a hellish joy, drew tight the cords, bound Mr. Judson fast, and dragged him off, I knew not whither. In vain I begged and entreated the spotted face to take the silver, and loosen the ropes, but he spurned my offers and immediately departed. I gave the money, however, to Moung Ing to follow after, to make some further attempt to mitigate the torture of Mr. Judson; but instead of succeeding, when a few rods from the house, the unfeeling wretches again threw their prisoner on the ground, and drew the cords still tighter, so as almost to prevent respiration.
“The officer and his gang proceeded on to the courthouse, where the governor of the city and the officers were collected, one of whom read the order of the king, to commit Mr. Judson to the death prison, into which he was soon hurled, the door closed–and Moung Ing saw no more. What a night was now before me! I retired into my room, and endeavoured to obtain consolation from committing my case to God, and imploring fortitude and strength to suffer whatever awaited me. But the consolation of retirement was not long allowed me, for the magistrate of the place had come into the veranda, and continually called me to come out, and submit to his examination. But previously to going out, I destroyed all my letters, journals, and writings of every kind, lest they should disclose the fact that we had correspondents in England, and had minuted down every occurrence since our arrival in the country. When this work of destruction was finished, I went out and submitted to the examination of the magistrate, who inquired very minutely of everything I knew; then ordered the gates of the compound to be shut, no person be allowed to go in or out, placed a guard of ten ruffians, to whom he gave a strict charge to keep me safe, and departed.
“It was now dark. I retired to an inner room with my four little Burman girls and barred the doors. The guard instantly ordered me to unbar the doors and come out, or they would break the house down. I obstinately refused to obey and endeavoured to intimidate them by threatening to complain of their conduct to higher authorities on the morrow. Finding me resolved in disregarding their orders, they took the two Bengalee servants and confined them in the stocks in a very painful position. I could not endure this; but called the head man to the window, and promised to make them all a present in the morning, if they would release the servants. After much debate and many severe threatenings, they consented but seemed resolved to annoy me as much as possible. My unprotected, desolate state, my entire uncertainty of the fate of Mr. Judson, and the dreadful carousings and almost diabolical language of the guard, all conspired to make it by far the most distressing night I had ever passed. You may well imagine, my dear brother, that sleep was a stranger to my eyes and peace and composure to my mind.
“The next morning, I sent Moung Ing to ascertain the situation of your brother, and give him food, if still living. He soon returned, with the intelligence that Mr. Judson, and all the white foreigners, were confined in the death prison, with three pairs of iron fetters each, and fastened to a long pole, to prevent their moving! The point of my anguish now was that I was a prisoner myself, and could make no efforts for the release of the missionaries. I begged and entreated the magistrate to allow me to go to some member of the government to state my case; but he said he did not dare to consent, for fear I should make my escape. I next wrote a note to one of the king’s sisters, with whom I had been intimate, requesting her to use her influence for the release of the teachers. The note was returned with this message–She ‘did not understand it which was a polite refusal to interfere; though I afterwards ascertained that she had an anxious desire to assist us, but dared not on account of the queen. The day dragged heavily away, and another dreadful night was before me. I endeavoured to soften the feelings of the guard by giving them tea and cigars for the night; so that they allowed me to remain inside of my room, without threatening as they did the night before. But the idea of your brother being stretched on the bare floor in irons and confinement, haunted my mind like a spectre, and prevented my obtaining any quiet sleep, though nature was almost exhausted.
“On the third day, I sent a message to the governor of the city, who has the entire direction of prison affairs, to allow me to visit him with a present. This had the desired effect; and he immediately sent orders to the guards, to permit my going into town. The governor received me pleasantly and asked me what I wanted. I stated to him the situation of the foreigners, and particularly that of the teachers, who were Americans, and had nothing to do with the war. He told me it was not in his power to release them from prison or irons, but that he could make their situation more comfortable; there was his head officer, with whom I must consult, relative to the means. The officer, who proved to be one of the city writers, and whose countenance at the first glance presented the most perfect assemblage of all the evil passions attached to human nature, took me aside, and endeavored to convince me, that myself, as well as the prisoners, was entirely at his disposal–that our future comfort must depend on my liberality in regard to presents–and that these must be made in a private way and unknown to any officer in the government! ‘What must I do,’ said I, ‘to obtain a mitigation of the present sufferings of the two teachers?’ ‘Pay to me,’ said he, ‘two hundred tickals, (about a hundred dollars,) two pieces of fine cloth, and two pieces of handkerchiefs.’ I had taken money with me in the morning, our house being two miles from the prison–I could not easily return. This I offered to the writer and begged he would not insist on the other articles, as they were not in my possession. He hesitated for some time, but fearing to lose the sight of so much money, he concluded to take it, promising to relieve the teachers from their most painful situation.
“I then procured an order from the governor, for my admittance into prison; but the sensations, produced by meeting your brother in that wretched, horrid situation–and the affecting scene which ensued, I will not attempt to describe. Mr. Judson crawled to the door of the prison–for I was never allowed to enter–gave me some directions relative to his release; but before we could make any arrangement, I was ordered to depart, by those iron-hearted jailers, who could not endure seeing us enjoy the poor consolation of meeting in that miserable place. In vain I pleaded the order of the governor for my admittance; they again, harshly repeated, ‘Depart, or we will pull you out.’ The same evening, the missionaries, together with the other foreigners, who had paid an equal sum, were taken out of the common prison and confined in an open shed in the prison inclosure. Here I was allowed to send them food, and mats to sleep on, but was not permitted to enter again for several days.
“My next object was to get a petition presented to the queen; but no person being admitted into the palace, who was in disgrace with his majesty, I sought to present it through the medium of her brother’s wife. I had visited her in better days and received particular marks of her favour. But now times were altered: Mr. Judson was in prison, and I in distress, which was a sufficient reason for giving me a cold reception. I took a present of considerable value. She was lolling on her carpet as I entered, with her attendants around her. I waited not for the usual question to a suppliant, ‘What do you want?’ but in a bold, earnest, yet respectful manner, stated our distresses and our wrongs, and begged her assistance. She partly raised her head, opened the present I had brought, and coolly replied, ‘Your case is not singular; all the foreigners are treated alike.’ ‘But it is singular,’ said I, ‘the teachers are Americans; they are ministers of religion, have nothing to do with war or politics, and came to Ava in obedience to the king’s command. They have never done anything to deserve such treatment, and is it right they should be treated thus?’ ‘The king does as he pleases,’ said she; ‘I am not the king, what can I do?’ ‘You can state their case to the queen, and obtain their release,’ replied I. ‘Place yourself in my situation–were you in America, your husband, innocent of the crime, thrown into prison, in irons, and you a solitary, unprotected female–what would you do?’ With a slight degree of feeling, she said, ‘I will present your petition, come again to-morrow.’ I returned to the house, with considerable hope, that the speedy release of the missionaries was at hand. But the next day Mr. Gouger’s property, to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, was taken and carried to the palace. The officers, on their return, politely informed me, they should visit our house on the morrow. I felt obliged for this information, and accordingly made preparations to receive them, by secreting as many little articles as possible; together with considerable silver, as I knew, if the war should be protracted, we should be in a state of starvation without it. But my mind in a dreadful state of agitation, lest it should be discovered, and cause my being thrown into prison. And had it been possible to procure money from any other quarter, I should not have ventured on such a step.
“The following morning, the royal treasurer, Prince Tharyawadees, Chief Woon, and Koung-tone Myoo-tsa, who was in future our steady friend, attended by forty or fifty followers, came to take possession of all we had. I treated them civilly, gave them chairs to sit on, tea and sweetmeats for their refreshment; and justice obliges me to say that they conducted the business of confiscation with more regard to my feelings than I should have thought it possible for Burmese officers to exhibit. The three officers, with one of the royal secretaries, alone entered the house; their attendants were ordered to remain outside. They saw I was deeply affected, and apologized for what they were about to do, by saying that it was painful for them to take possession of property not their own, but they were compelled thus to do by order of the king.
“‘Where is your silver, gold, and jewels?’ said the royal treasurer. ‘I have no gold or jewels; but here is the key of a trunk which contains the silver–do with it as you please.’ The trunk was produced, and the silver weighed. ‘This money,’ said I, ‘was collected in America, by the disciples of Christ, and sent here for the purpose of building a kyoung, (the name of a priest’s dwelling) and for our support while teaching the religion of Christ. Is it suitable that you should take it? (The Burmans are averse to taking what is offered in a religious point of view, which was the cause of my making the inquiry.) ‘We will state this circumstance to the king,’ said one of them, ‘and perhaps he will restore it. But this is all the silver you have?’ I could not tell a falsehood: ‘The house is in your possession,’ I replied, ‘search for yourselves.’ ‘Have you not deposited silver with some person of your acquaintance?’ ‘My acquaintances are all in prison, with whom should I deposit silver?’
“They next ordered my trunk and drawers to be examined. The secretary only was allowed to accompany me in this search. Everything nice or curious, which met his view, was presented to the officers, for their decision, whether it should be taken or retained. I begged they would not take our wearing apparel, as it would be disgraceful to take clothes partly worn into the possession of his majesty, and to us, they were of unspeakable value. They assented, and took a list only, and did the same with the books, medicines, etc. My little work table and rocking chair present from my beloved brother, I rescued from their grasp, partly by artifice, and partly through their ignorance. They left also many articles, which were of inestimable value, during our long imprisonment.
“As soon as they had finished their search and departed, I hastened to the queen’s brother, to hear what had been the fate of my petition; when, alas! all my hopes were dashed, by his wife’s coolly saying, ‘I stated your case to the queen; but her majesty replied, The teachers will not die: let them remain as they are.’ My expectations had been so much excited that this sentence was like a thunderbolt to my feelings. For the truth at one glance assured me that if the queen refused assistance, who would dare to intercede for me? With a heavy heart I departed, and on my way home, attempted to enter the prison gate, to communicate the sad tidings to your brother, but was harshly refused admittance; and for the ten days following notwithstanding my daily efforts, I was not allowed to enter. We attempted to communicate by writing, and after being successful for a few days, it was discovered; the poor fellow who carried the communications was beaten and put in the stocks; and the circumstance cost me about ten dollars, besides two or three days of agony, for fear of the consequences.
“The officers who had taken possession of our property, presented it to his majesty, saying, ‘Judson is a true teacher; we found nothing in his house, but what belongs to priests. In addition to this money, there is an immense number of books, medicines, trunks of wearing apparel, of which we have only taken a list. Shall we take them, or let them remain?’ ‘Let them remain,’ said the king, ‘and put this property by itself, for it shall be restored to him again if he is found innocent.’ This was an allusion to the idea of his being a spy.
“For two or three months following, I was subject to continual harassments, partly through my ignorance of police management and partly through the insatiable desire of every petty officer to enrich himself through our misfortunes.
“You, my dear brother, who know my strong attachment to my friends, and how much pleasure I have hitherto experienced from retrospect, can judge from the above circumstances, how intense were my sufferings. But the point, the acme of my distresses, consisted in the awful uncertainty of our final fate. My prevailing opinion was that my husband would suffer violent death; and that I should, of course, become a slave, and languish out a miserable though short existence, in the tyrannic hands of some unfeeling monster. But the consolations of religion, in these trying circumstances, were neither ‘few nor small.’ It taught me to look beyond this world, to that rest, that peaceful, happy rest, where Jesus reigns, and oppression never enters.
“Some months after your brother’s imprisonment, I was permitted to make a little bamboo room in the prison inclosures, where he could be much by himself, and where I was sometimes allowed to spend two or three hours. It so happened that the two months he occupied this place, was the coldest part of the year when he would have suffered much in the open shed he had previously occupied. After the birth of your little niece, I was unable to visit the prison and the governor as before, and found I had lost considerable influence, previously gained; for he was not so forward to hear my petitions when any difficulty occurred, as he formerly had been. When Maria was nearly two months old, her father one morning sent me word that he and all the white prisoners were put into the inner prison, in five pairs of fetters each, that his little room had been torn down, and his mat, pillow, etc., been taken by the jailers. This was to me a dreadful shock, as I thought at once it was only a prelude to greater evils.
“The situation of the prisoners was now distressing beyond description. It was at the commencement of the hot season. There were above a hundred prisoners shut up in one room, without a breath of air excepting from the cracks in the boards. I sometimes obtained permission to go to the door for five minutes, when my heart sickened at the wretchedness exhibited. The white prisoners, from incessant perspiration and loss of appetite, looked more like the dead than the living. I made daily applications to the governor, offering him money, which he refused; but all that I gained was permission for the foreigners to eat their food outside, and this continued but a short time.
“After continuing in the inner prison for more than a month, your brother was taken with a fever. I felt assured he would not live long unless removed from that noisome place. To effect this, and in order to be near the prison, I removed from our house and put up a small bamboo room in the governor’s inclosure, which was nearly opposite the prison gate. Here I incessantly begged the governor to give me an order to take Mr. J. out of the large prison, and place him in a more comfortable situation; and the old man, being worn out with my entreaties at length gave me the order in an official form; and also gave orders to the head jailer, to allow me to go in and out, all times of the day, to administer medicines. I now felt happy, indeed, and had Mr. J. instantly removed into a little bamboo hovel, so low, that neither of us could stand upright–but a palace in comparison with the place he had left.
Rev. John Bradford was born at Manchester, in Lancashire; he was a good Latin scholar, and afterwards became a servant of Sir John Harrington, knight.
He continued several years in an honest and thriving way, but the Lord had elected him to a better function. Hence he departed from his master, quitting the Temple, at London, for the University of Cambridge, to learn, by God’s law, how to further the building of the Lord’s temple. In a few years after, the university gave him the degree of master of arts, and he became a fellow of Pembroke Hall.
Martin Bucer first urged him to preach, and when he modestly doubted his ability, Bucer was wont to reply, “If thou hast not fine wheat bread, yet give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord hath committed unto thee.” Dr Ridley, that worthy bishop of London, and glorious martyr of Christ, first called him to take the degree of a deacon and gave him a prebend in his Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
In this preaching office, Mr. Bradford diligently laboured for the space of three years. Sharply he reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ crucified, ably he disproved heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded to a godly life. After the death of blessed King Edward VI, Mr Bradford still continued diligent in preaching, until he was suppressed by Queen Mary.
An act now followed of the blackest ingratitude, and at which a pagan would blush. It has been recited, that a tumult was occasioned by Mr Bourne’s (then bishop of Bath) preaching at St. Paul’s Cross; the indignation of the people placed his life in imminent danger; indeed a dagger was thrown at him. In this situation, he entreated Mr Bradford, who stood behind him. to speak in his place, and assuage the tumult. The people welcomed Mr Bradford, and the latter afterwards kept close to him, that his presence might prevent the populace from renewing their assaults.
The same Sunday in the afternoon, Mr Bradford preached at Bow Church in Cheapside and reproved the people sharply for their seditious misdemeanour. Notwithstanding this conduct, within three days after, he was sent for to the Tower of London, where the queen then was, to appear before the Council. There he was charged with this act of saving Mr Bourne, which was called seditious, and they also objected against him for preaching. Thus he was committed, first to the Tower, then to other prisons, and, after his condemnation, to the Poultry Compter, where he preached twice a day continually unless sickness hindered him. Such as his credit with the keeper of the King’s Bench, that he permitted him in an evening to visit a poor, sick person near the steel-yard, upon his promise to return in time, and in this, he never failed.
The night before he was sent to Newgate, he was troubled in his sleep by foreboding dreams, that on Monday after he should be burned in Smithfield. In the afternoon the keeper’s wife came up and announced this dreadful news to him, but in him, it excited only thankfulness to God. At night half a dozen friends came, with whom he spent all the evening in prayer and godly exercises.
When he was removed to Newgate, a weeping crowd accompanied him, and a rumour having been spread that he was to suffer at four the next morning, an immense multitude attended. At nine o’clock Mr Bradford was brought into Smithfield. The cruelty of the sheriff deserves notice; for his brother-in-law, Roger Beswick, having taken him by the hand as he passed, Mr Woodroffe, with his staff, cut his head open.
Mr Bradford, being come to the place, fell flat on the ground, and putting off his clothes unto the shirt, he went to the stake, and there suffered with a young man of twenty years of age, whose name was John Leaf, an apprentice to Mr. Humphrey Gaudy, tallow-chandler, of Christ-church, London. Upon Friday before Palm Sunday, he was committed to the Compter in Bread-street, and afterwards examined and condemned by the bloody bishop.
It is reported of him, that, when the bill of his confession was read unto him, instead of pen, he took a pin, and pricking his hand, sprinkled the blood upon the said bill, desiring the reader thereof to show the bishop that he had sealed the same bill with his blood already.
They both ended this mortal life, July 12, 1555, like two lambs, without any alteration of their countenances, hoping to obtain that prize they had long run for; to which may Almighty God conduct us all, through the merits of Christ our Savior!
We shall conclude this article with mentioning that Mr Sheriff Woodroffe, it is said, within half a year after, was struck on the right side with a palsy, and for the space of eight years after, (until his dying day,) he was unable to turn himself in his bed; thus he became, at last, a fearful object to behold.
The day after Mr Bradford and John Leaf suffered in Smithfield William Minge, priest, died in prison at Maidstone. With a great constancy and boldness he yielded up his life in prison, as if it had pleased God to have called him to suffer by fire, as other godly men had done before at the stake, and as he himself was ready to do, had it pleased God to have called him to this trial.
These reverend prelates suffered October 17, 5555, at Oxford, on the same day Wolsey and Pygot perished at Ely. Pillars of the Church and accomplished ornaments of human nature, they were the admiration of the realm, amiably conspicuous in their lives, and glorious in their deaths.
Dr Ridley was born in Northumberland, was first taught grammar at Newcastle, and afterwards removed to Cambridge, where his aptitude in education raised him gradually until he came to be the head of Pembroke College, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. Having returned from a trip to Paris, he was appointed chaplain by Henry VIII and bishop of Rochester and was afterwards translated to the see of London in the time of Edward VI.
To his sermons the people resorted, swarming about him like bees, coveting the sweet flowers and wholesome juice of the fruitful doctrine, which he did not only preach, but showed the same by his life, as a glittering lanthorn to the eyes and senses of the blind, in such pure order that his very enemies could not reprove him in any one jot.
His tender treatment of Dr Heath, who was a prisoner with him during one year, in Edward’s reign, evidently proves that he had no Catholic cruelty in his disposition. In person he was erect and well proportioned; in temper forgiving; in self-mortification severe. His first duty in the morning was private prayer: he remained in his study until ten o’clock, and then attended the daily prayer used in his house. Dinner being done, he sat about an hour, conversing pleasantly, or playing at chess. His study next engaged his attention unless business or visits occurred; about five o’clock prayers followed; and after he would recreate himself at chess for about an hour, then retire to his study until eleven o’clock, and pray on his knees as in the morning. In brief, he was a pattern of godliness and virtue, and such he endeavoured to make men wherever he came.
His attentive kindness was displayed particularly to old Mrs Bonner, mother of Dr Bonner, the cruel bishop of London. Dr. Ridley, when at his manor at Fulham, always invited her to his house, placed her at the head of his table, and treated her like his own mother; he did the same by Bonner’s sister and other relatives; but when Dr Ridley was under persecution, Bonner pursued a conduct diametrically opposite, and would have sacrificed Dr Ridley’s sister and her husband, Mr George Shipside, had not Providence delivered him by the means of Dr Heath, bishop of Worcester.
Dr Ridley was first in part converted by reading Bertram’s book on the Sacrament, and by his conferences with archbishop Cranmer and Peter Martyr.
When Edward VI was removed from the throne, and the bloody Mary succeeded, Bishop Ridley was immediately marked as an object of slaughter. He was first sent to the Tower, and afterwards, at Oxford, was consigned to the common prison of Bocardo, with Archbishop Cranmer and Mr Latimer. Being separated from them, he was placed in the house of one Irish, where he remained until the day of his martyrdom, from 1554, until October 16, 1555.
It will easily be supposed that the conversations of these chiefs of the martyrs were elaborate, learned, and instructive. Such indeed they were, and equally beneficial to all their spiritual comforts. Bishop Ridley’s letters to various Christian brethren in bonds in all parts, and his disputations with the mitred enemies of Christ, alike proved the clearness of his head and the integrity of his heart. In a letter to Mr Grindal, (afterward archbishop of Canterbury,) he mentions with affection those who had preceded him in dying for the faith, and those who were expected to suffer; he regrets that popery is re-established in its full abomination, which he attributes to the wrath of God, made manifest in return for the lukewarmness of the clergy and the people in justly appreciating the blessed light of the Reformation.
This old practiced soldier of Christ, Master Hugh Latimer, was the son of one Hugh Latimer, of Thurkesson in the county of Leicester, a husbandman, of a good and wealthy estimation; where also he was born and brought up until he was four years of age, or thereabout: at which time his parents, having him as then left for their only son, with six daughters, seeing his ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up in erudition, and knowledge of good literature; wherein he so profited in his youth at the common schools of his own country, that at the age of fourteen years, he was sent to the University of Cambridge; where he entered into the study of the school divinity of that day, and was from principle a zealous observer of the Romish superstitions of the time. In his oration when he commenced bachelor of divinity, he inveighed against the reformer Melancthon, and openly declaimed against good Mr Stafford, divinity lecturer in Cambridge.
Mr Thomas Bilney, moved by a brotherly pity towards Mr Latimer, begged to wait upon him in his study and to explain to him the groundwork of his (Mr Bilney’s) faith. This blessed interview affected his conversion: the persecutor of Christ became his zealous advocate, and before Dr Stafford died he became reconciled to him.
Once converted, he became eager for the conversion of others and commenced to be a public preacher, and private instructor at the university. His sermons were so pointed against the absurdity of praying in the Latin tongue, and withholding the oracles of salvation from the people who were to be saved by belief in them, that he drew upon himself the pulpit animadversions of several of the resident friars and heads of houses, whom he subsequently silenced by his severe criticisms and eloquent arguments. This was at Christmas, 1529. At length Dr West preached against Mr Latimer at Barwell Abbey, and prohibited him from preaching again in the churches of the university, notwithstanding which, he continued during three years to advocate openly the cause of Christ, and even his enemies confessed the power of those talents he possessed. Mr Bilney remained here some time with Mr Latimer, and thus the place where they frequently walked together obtained the name of Heretics’ Hill.
Mr Latimer at this time traced out the innocence of a poor woman, accused by her husband of the murder of her child. Having preached before King Henry VIII at Windsor, he obtained the unfortunate mother’s pardon. This, with many other benevolent acts, served only to excite the spleen of his adversaries. He was summoned before Cardinal Wolsey for heresy, but being a strenuous supporter of the king’s supremacy, in opposition to the pope’s, by the favour of Lord Cromwell and Dr Buts, (the king’s physician,) he obtained the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire. For his sermons here against purgatory, the immaculacy of the Virgin, and the worship of images, he was cited to appear before Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and John, bishop of London. He was required to subscribe certain articles, expressive of his conformity to the accustomed usages; and there is a reason to think, after repeated weekly examinations, that he did subscribe, as they did not seem to involve any important article of belief.
Guided by Providence, he escaped the subtle nets of his persecutors, and at length, through the powerful friends before mentioned, became bishop of Worcester, in which function he qualified or explained away most of the papal ceremonies he was for form’s sake under the necessity of complying with. He continued in this active and dignified employment some years.
Beginning afresh to set forth his plough he laboured in the Lord’s harvest most fruitfully, discharging his talent as well in divers places of this realm, as before the king at the court. In the same place of the inward garden, which was before applied to lascivious and courtly pastimes, there he dispensed the fruitful Word of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, preaching there before the king and his whole court, to the edification of many.
He remained a prisoner in the Tower until the coronation of Edward VI, when he was again called to the Lord’s harvest in Stamford, and many other places: he also preached at London in the convocation house, and before the young king; indeed he lectured twice every Sunday, regardless of his great age (then above sixty-seven years,) and his weakness through a bruise received from the fall of a tree. Indefatigable in his private studies, he rose to them in winter and in summer at two o’clock in the morning.
By the strength of his own mind, or of some inward light from above, he had a prophetic view of what was to happen to the Church in Mary’s reign, asserting that he was doomed to suffer for the truth and that Winchester, then in the Tower, was preserved for that purpose. Soon after Queen Mary was proclaimed, a messenger was sent to summon Mr Latimer to town, and there is reason to believe it was wished that he should make his escape.
Thus Master Latimer coming up to London, through Smithfield (where merrily he said that Smithfield had long groaned for him), was brought before the Council, where he patiently bore all the mocks and taunts given him by the scornful papists. He was cast into the Tower, where he, being assisted with the heavenly grace of Christ, sustained imprisonment a long time, notwithstanding the cruel and unmerciful handling of the lordly papists, which thought then their kingdom would never fall; he showed himself not only patient but also cheerful in and above all that which they could or would work against him. Yea, such a valiant spirit the Lord gave him, that he was able not only to despise the terribleness of prisons and torments but also to laugh to scorn the doings of his enemies.
Mr Latimer, after remaining a long time in the Tower, was transported to Oxford, with Cranmer and Ridley, the disputations at which place have been already mentioned in a former part of this work. He remained imprisoned until October, and the principal objects of all his prayers were three–that he might stand faithful to the doctrine he had professed, that God would restore his Gospel to England once again, and preserve the Lady Elizabeth to be queen; all of which happened. When he stood at the stake without the Bocardo gate, Oxford, with Dr Ridley, and the fire was put to the pile of fagots, he raised his eyes benignantly towards heaven, and said, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.” His body was forcibly penetrated by the fire, and the blood flowed abundantly from the heart; as if to verify his constant desire that his heart’s blood might be shed in defence of the Gospel. His polemical and friendly letters are lasting monuments of his integrity and talents. It has been before said, that public disputation took place in April 1554, new examinations took place in October 1555, previous to the degradation and condemnation of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. We now draw the conclusion of the lives of the two last.
Dr Ridley, the night before the execution, was very facetious, had himself shaved, and called his supper a marriage feast; he remarked upon seeing Mrs Irish (the keeper’s wife) weep, “Though my breakfast will be somewhat sharp, my supper will be more pleasant and sweet.”
The place of death was on the north side of the town, opposite Baliol College. Dr Ridley was dressed in a black gown furred, and Mr Latimer had a long shroud on, hanging down to his feet. Dr Ridley, as he passed Bocardo, looked up to see Dr Cranmer, but the latter was then engaged in disputation with a friar. When they came to the stake, Mr Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bid him: “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame or else strengthen us to abide it.” He then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation. Dr Smith then preached a short sermon against the martyrs, who would have answered him, but was prevented by Dr Marshal, the vice-chancellor. Dr Ridley then took off his gown and tippet and gave them to his brother-in-law, Mr Shipside. He gave away also many trifles to his weeping friends, and the populace was anxious to get even a fragment of his garments. Mr Latimer gave nothing, and from the poverty of his garb, was soon stripped to his shroud, and stood venerable and erect, fearless of death.
Dr Ridley being unclothed to his shirt, the Smith placed an iron chain about their waists, and Dr Ridley bid him fasten it securely; his brother having tied a bag of gunpowder about his neck, gave some also to Mr Latimer.
Dr Ridley then requested of Lord Williams, of Fame, to advocate with the queen the cause of some poor men to whom he had, when the bishop, granted leases, but which the present bishop refused to confirm. A lighted fagot was now laid at Dr Ridley’s feet, which caused Mr Latimer to say: “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.”
When Dr Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried with a wonderful loud voice, “Lord, Lord, receive my spirit.” Master Latimer, crying as vehemently on the other side, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul!” received the flame as it was embracing of it. After that, he had stroked his face with his hands, and as it were, bathed them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeareth) with very little pain or none.
Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world they have already. What reward remaineth for them in heaven, the day of the Lord’s glory, when he cometh with His saints, shall declare.
In the following month died Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester and lord chancellor of England. This papistical monster was born at Bury, in Suffolk, and partly educated at Cambridge. Ambitious, cruel, and bigoted, he served any cause; he first espoused the king’s part in the affair of Anne Boleyn: upon the establishment of the Reformation he declared the supremacy of the pope an execrable tenet; and when Queen Mary came to the crown, he entered into all her papistical bigoted views, and became a second time bishop of Winchester. It is conjectured it was his intention to have moved the sacrifice of Lady Elizabeth, but when he arrived at this point, it pleased God to remove him.
It was on the afternoon of the day when those faithful soldiers of Christ, Ridley and Latimer, perished, that Gardiner sat down with a joyful heart to dinner. Scarcely had he taken a few mouthfuls, when he was seized with illness, and carried to his bed, where he lingered fifteen days in great torment, unable in any wise to evacuate, and burnt with a devouring fever, that terminated in death. Execrated by all good Christians, we pray the Father of mercies, that he may receive that mercy above he never imparted below.