210. THE MARTYRDOM OF JOHN LACELS, JOHN ADAMS, AND NICHOLAS BELENIAN.
There was, at the same time, also burned together with her, one Nicholas Belenian, priest of Shropshire; John Adams, a tailor; and John Lacels, gentleman of the court and household of King Henry.
It happened well for them, that they died together with Anne Askew: for, albeit that of themselves they were strong and stout men, yet, through the example and exhortation of her, they, being the more boldened, received occasion of greater comfort in that so painful and doleful kind of death; who, beholding her invincible constancy, and also stirred up through her persuasions, did set apart all kind of fear.
Thus they, confirming one another with mutual exhortations, tarried looking for the tormentor and fire, which at the last, flaming round about then:, consumed their blessed bodies in happy martyrdom, in the year of our salvation 1546, about the month of June.
There is also a certain letter extant, which the said John Lacels briefly wrote, being in prison, touching the sacrament of Christ's body and blood; wherein he doth both confute the error of them, who, being not contented with the spiritual receiving of the sacrament, will leave no substance of bread therein, and, also, confuteth the sinister interpretation of many thereupon: the tenor of which letter is as hereunder followeth.
The copy of the letter of John Lacels, written out of prison.
"St. Paul, because of sects and dissension among the Corinthians, wrote this Epistle unto them; and, in like case pertaining to my conscience, I do protest my whole heart in the blessed supper of the Lord; wherein I trust in God to bring nothing for me, but I shall be able, with God's holy word, to declare and manifest the same. And herein I take occasion to recite the saying of St. Paul, in the said Epistle, chap. xi., That which I delivered unto you, I received of the Lord. For the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, and brake it, and said, Take ye, eat ye; this is my body, which is broken for you.
"Here, me seemeth, St. Paul durst not take upon him his Lord and Master's authority. Wherefore, as at God's hand the breaking of the most innocent and immaculate body and blood of Christ is the quietness of all men's consciences, the only remedy of our sins, and the redemption of mankind, which is called in the Scripture the daily offering: so the mass, which is the invention of man, (whose author is the pope of Rome, as it doth appear in Polydore Virgil and many others,) is the unquietness of all Christendom, a blasphemy unto Christ's blood, and (as Daniel calleth it) the abominable desolation, as the Scripture shall hereafter more manifest it. St. Paul was, belike, to learn of the Romans' church, the manner of the consecration, as they call it, with the breathing over the host, and other ceremonies besides, that he durst not take upon him to say, Hoc est corpus meum. But this I will admit: it was the Lord Jesus that made the supper; who also did finish it, and made an end of the only act of our salvation, not only here in this world, but with his Father in heaven; as he declareth himself, that he will drink no more of this bitter cup, till he drink it new in his Father's kingdom, where all bitterness shall be taken away.
"Now, if any man be able to finish the act of our Saviour, in breaking of his body, and shedding of his blood here, and also to finish it with the Father in heaven, then let him say it. But I think that if men will look upon St. Paul's words well, they shall be forced to say, as St. Paul saith, The Lord Jesus said it; and once for all, which only was the fulfiller of it. For these words, Hoc est corpus meum, were spoken of his natural presence, (which no man is able to deny,) because the act was finished on the cross, as the story doth plainly manifest it to them that have eyes. Now this bloody sacrifice is made an end of; the supper is finished, forasmuch as Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God, and was killed as pertaining to the flesh, and hath entered in by his own blood once for all, into the holy place, and found eternal redemption.
"Here now followeth the administration of the supper of the Lord, which I will take at Christ's hands after the resurrection, although other men will not be ashamed to bring the wicked counsels of foolish inventions for them. And it came to pass, as Christ sat at meat with them, he took bread, blessed, and brake it, and gave it to them; and their eyes were opened, and knew him, and he vanished out of their sight. And the apostles did know him in breaking of bread.
"Here, also, it seemeth to me the apostles to follow their Master Christ, and to take the right use of the sacrament, and also to teach it to those that were converted to Christ, as mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is said, They continued in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread, and prayer;and they continued daily with one accord in the temple, and brake bread in every house, and did eat there with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God; and had favour with all the people. And St. Paul, following the same doctrine, doth plainly show the duty of the minister, and also of them that shall receive it: As oft as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shall show the Lord's death until he come. Here I do gather, that the minister hath no further power and authority than to preach and pronounce the Lord's death, or else to say, the Lord Jesus said it, which did fulfil it on the cross.
"Furthermore, I do stedfastly believe, that where the bread is broken according to the ordinance of Christ, the blessed and immaculate Lamb is present to the eyes of our faith, and so we eat his flesh, and drink his blood, which is, to dwell with God, and God with us. And in this we are sure we dwell with God, in that he giveth us his Holy Spirit, even as the forefathers, that were before Christ's coming, did presently see the Lord's death, and did eat his body, and drink his blood.
"In this I do differ from the pope's church, that the priests have authority to make Christ's natural presence in the bread, for so doth he more than our Lord and Saviour did; as the example is manifest in Judas, who at Christ's hands received the same wine and bread as the other apostles did. But the pope and his adherents are even they whom Daniel speaketh of, saying, He shall set men to unhallow the sanctuary, and to put down the daily offering, and to set up the abominable desolation. Yea, he, of Rome, shall speak marvellous things against the God of heaven, and God of all gods, wherein he shall prosper so long, till the wrath be fulfilled, for the conclusion is devised already. He shall not regard the God of heaven, nor the God of his fathers, yea, in his place shall he worship the mighty idol, and the god whom his fathers knew not, which is the god Maozim.
"For lack of time, I leave the commemoration of the blessed supper of the Lord, and the abominable idol the mass, which is it that Daniel meaneth by the god Maozim. Read the second and last chapten of Daniel, and 2 Thess. ii., where they recite the abomination of desolation, which Matthew saith, standeth in the holy place, that is, in the consciences of men. Mark saith, where it ought not to stand, which is a plain denial of all the inventions of men. Farther, Luke saith, the time is at hand. Paul saith, the mystery of iniquity worketh already, yea, and shall continue till the appearance of Christ, which in my judgment is at hand.
"Now for the supper of the Lord, I do protest to take it as reverently as Christ left it, and as his apostles did use it, according to the testimonies of the prophets, the apostles, and our blessed Saviour Christ, which accordingly St. Paul to the Ephesians doth recite.
"Now, with quietness, I commit the whole world to their pastor and herdsman Jesus Christ, the only Saviour and true Messiah, and I commend my sovereign lord and master the king's Majesty, King Henry the Eighth, to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ: the queen, and my lord the prince, with this whole realm, ever to the innocent and immaculate Lamb, that his blood may wash and purify their hearts and souls from all iniquity and sin, to God's glory, and to the salvation of their souls. I do protest, that the inward part of my heart doth groan for this; and I doubt not but to enter into the holy tabernacle which is above, yea, and there to be with God for ever. Farewell in Christ Jesu.
"John Lacels, late servant to the king, and now I trust to serve the everlasting King, with the testimony of my blood in Smithfield."