Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 152. HENRY VOES AND JOHN ESCH<BR>

152. HENRY VOES AND JOHN ESCH

Friars Augustine, burnt at Brussels, A.D. 1523.

N the year of our Lord 1523, two young men were burnt at Brussels, the one named Henry Voes, being of the age of twenty-four years, and the other John Esch; who before had been of the order of the Augustine Friars. They were degraded the first day of July, and spoiled of their friars' weed, at the suit of Egmondanus the pope's inquisitor, and the divines of Louvain; for that they would not retract and deny their doctrine of the gospel, which the papists call Lutheranism. Their examiners were Hochestratus and other, who demanded of them, what they did believe? They said, the books of the Old Testament and the New, wherein were contained the articles of the Creed. Then were they asked, whether they believed the decrees of the councils, and of the fathers? They said, such as were agreeing to the Scripture they believed. After this they proceeded further, asking, whether they thought it any deadly sin to transgress the decrees of the fathers, and of the bishop of Rome? That (said they) is to be attributed only to the precepts, of God, to bind the conscience of man, or to loose it. Wherein when they constantly persisted and would not turn, they were condemned and judged to be burned. Then they began to give thanks to God their heavenly Father, which had delivered them through his great goodness from the false and abominable priesthood, and made them priests of his holy order, receiving them unto him as a sacrifice of sweet odour. Then there was a bill written, which was delivered unto them to read openly before the people, to declare what faith and doctrine they held. The greatest error that they were accused of was, that men ought to trust only in God, forasmuch as men are liars, and deceitful in all their words and deeds, and therefore there ought no trust or affiance to be put in them.

As they were led unto the place of execution, which was the first of July, they went joyfully and merrily, making continual protestation that they died for the glory of God, and the doctrine of the gospel, as true Christians, believing and following the holy church of the Son of God; saying also, that it was the day which they had long desired. After they were come to the place where they should be burned, and were despoiled of their garments, they tarried a great space in their shirts; and joyfully embraced the stake that they should be bound to, patiently and joyfully enduring whatsoever was done unto them; praising God with Te Deum laudamus, and singing psalms, and rehearsing the Creed, in testimony of their faith. A certain doctor, beholding their jollity and mirth, said unto Henry, that he should take heed so foolishly to glorify himself. To whom he answered, "God forbid that I should glory in any thing, but only in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ." Another counselled him to have God before his eyes: unto whom he answered, "I trust that I carry him truly in my heart." One of them, seeing that fire was kindled at his feet, said, "Methinks ye do strew roses under my feet." Finally the smoke and the flame, mounting up to their faces, choked them.

Henry being demanded, amongst other things, whether Luther had seduced him or no: "Yea," said he, "even as Christ seduced his apostles." He said also, that it was contrary to God's law, that the clergy should be exempted from the power and jurisdiction of the magistrate ordained of God; for such as were ordained in office by the bishops, have no power but only to preach the word of God, and to feed their flock therewithal. After their death, their monastery was dissolved at Antwerp; the president whereof, by the papists called Jacob the Lutheran, after divers and sundry troubles and afflictions, was forced to recant at Brussels; but afterwards, his mind being renewed by the Holy Ghost, embracing that again which before he had renounced, he fled unto Luther.

 

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