Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 220. WALTER MILLE.

220. WALTER MILLE.

            Among the rest of the martyrs of Scotland, the marvellous constancy of Walter Mille is not to be passed over with silence; out of whose ashes sprang thousands of his opinion and religion in Scotland, who altogether chose rather to die, than to be any longer overtrodden by the tyranny of the aforesaid cruel, ignorant, and brutal bishops, abbots, monks, and friars. And so began the congregation of Scotland, to debate the true religion of Christ against the Frenchmen and papists, who sought always to depress and keep down the same; for it began soon after the martyrdom of Walter Mille, of which the form hereafter followeth.

            In the year of our Lord 1558, in the time of Mary duchess of Longueville, queen regent of Scotland, and the said John Hamilton being bishop of St. Andrews, and primate of Scotland, this Walter Mille, (who in his youth had been a papist,) after that he had been in Almain, and had heard the doctrine of the gospel, he returned again into Scotland; and setting aside all papistry and compelled chastity, married a wife; which thing made him unto the bishops of Scotland to be suspected of heresy; and, after long watching of him, he was taken by two popish priests, one called Sir George Strachen, and the other, Sir Hugh Terry, servants to the said bishop for the time, within the town of Dysart in Fife, and brought to St. Andrews and imprisoned in the castle thereof. He, being in prison, the papists earnestly travailed and laboured to have seduced him, and threatened him with death and corporal torments, to the intent they might cause him to recant and forsake the truth. But seeing they could profit nothing thereby, and that he remained still firm and constant, they laboured to persuade him by fair promises, and offered unto him a monk's portion, for all the days of his life, in the abbey of Dunfermling, so that he would deny the things he had taught, and grant that they were heresy; but he, continuing in the truth even unto the end, despised their threatenings and fair promises.

            Then assembled together the bishops of St. Andrews, Moray, Brechin, Caithness, &c., the abbots of Dunfermling, Lindores, Balindrinot, with doctors of theology of St. Andrews; as John Grison, Black Friar, and Dean John Winryme, sub-prior of St. Andrews, William Cranston, provost of the old college, with divers others, as sundry friars Black and Grey. These being assembled, and having consulted together, he was taken out of prison, and brought to the metropolitan church, where he was put in a pulpit before the bishops to be accused, April the twentieth. Being brought into the church, and climbing up into the pulpit, they, seeing him so weak and feeble of person, partly by age and travail, and partly by evil treatment, that without help he could not climb up, they were out of hope to have heard him, for weakness of voice. But when he began to speak, he made the church to ring and sound again with so great courage and stoutness, that the Christians which were present were no less rejoiced, than the adversaries were confounded and ashamed. He, being in the pulpit, and on his knees at prayer, Sir Andrew Oliphant, one of the archbishop's priests, commanded him to arise, and to answer to his articles, saying on this manner, "Sir Walter Mille, arise, and answer to the articles; for you hold my Lord here over-long." To whom Walter, after he had finished his prayer, answered, saying, "We ought to obey God more than men: I serve one more mighty, even the Omnipotent Lord. And whereas you call me Sir Walter, call me Walter, and not Sir Walter; I have been over-long one of the pope's knights. Now say what thou hast to say."

 

The articles whereof Walter Mille was accused,

with his answers.

            Oliphant.--"What think you of priests' marriage?"

            Mille.--"I hold it a blessed bond; for Christ himself maintained it, and approved the same, and also made it free to all men. But you think it not free to you; ye abhor it, and in the mean time take other men's wives and daughters; and will not keep the band that God hath made. Ye vow chastity, and break the same. St. Paul had rather marry than burn; the which I have done, for God never forbade marriage to any man, of what state or degree soever he were."

            Oliphant.--"Thou sayest there be not seven sacraments."

            Mille.--"Give me the Lord's supper and baptism, and take you the rest, and part them among you. For if there be seven, why have you omitted one of them, to wit, marriage, and give yourselves to slanderous and ungodly whoredom?"

            Oliphant.--"Thou art against the blessed sacrament of the altar, and sayest, that the mass is wrong, and is idolatry."

            Mille.--"A lord or a king sendeth and calleth many to a dinner; and when the dinner is in readiness, he causeth to ring the bell, and the men come to the hall, and sit down to be partakers of the dinner; but the Lord, turning his back unto them, eateth all himself, and mocketh them:--so do ye."

            Oliphant.--"Thou deniest the sacrament of the altar to be the very body of Christ really in flesh and blood."

            Mille.--"The Scripture of God is not to be taken carnally, but spiritually, and standeth in faith only. And as for the mass, it is wrong, for Christ was once offered on the cross for man's trespass, and will never be offered again, for then he ended all sacrifice."

            Oliphant.--"Thou deniest the office of a bishop."

            Mille.--"I affirm that they whom ye call bishops, do no bishop's works, nor use the office of bishops, as Paul biddeth, writing to Timothy, but live after their own sensual pleasure, and take no care of the flock; nor yet regard they the word of God, but desire to be honoured, and called 'my Lords.'"

            Oliphant.--"Thou speakest against pilgrimage, and callest it a pilgrimage to whoredom."

            Mille.--"I affirm that and say, that it is not commanded in the Scripture; and that there is no greater whoredom in any place, than at your pilgrimages, except it be in common brothels."

            Oliphant.--"Thou preachest secretly and privately in houses, and openly in the fields."

            Mille.--"Yea, man, and on the sea also, sailing in a ship."

            Oliphant.--"Wilt thou not recant thy erroneous opinions? And if thou wilt not, I will pronounce sentence against thee."

            Mille.--"I am accused of my life; I know I must die once, and therefore, as Christ said to Judas, what thou doest, do quickly. Ye shall know that I will not recant the truth, for I am corn, I am no chaff: I will not be blown away with the wind, nor burst with the flail; but I will abide both."

            These things rehearsed they of purpose, with other light trifles, to augment their final accusation; and then Sir Andrew Oliphant pronounced sentence against him, that he should be delivered to the temporal judge, and punished as a heretic; which was, to be burned. Notwithstanding, his boldness and constancy moved so the hearts of many, that the bishop's steward of his regality, provost of the town, called Patrick Lermond, refused to be his temporal judge; to whom it appertained, if the cause had been just: also the bishop's chamberlain, being therewith charged, would in no wise take upon him so ungodly an office. Yea, the whole town was so offended with his unjust condemnation, that the bishop's servants could not get for their money so much as one cord to tie him to the stake, or a tar-barrel to burn him; but were constrained to cut the cords of their master's own pavilion, to serve their turn.

            Nevertheless, one servant of the bishop's more ignorant and cruel than the rest, called Alexander Somervaile, enterprising the office of a temporal judge in that part, conveyed him to the fire, where, against all natural reason of man, his boldness and hardiness did more and more increase, so that the Spirit of God, working miraculously in him, made it manifest to the people, that his cause and articles were most just, and he innocently put down.

            Now when all things were ready for his death, and he conveyed with armed men to the fire, Oliphant bade him pass to the stake. And he said, "Nay! wilt thou put me up with thy hand, and take part of my death? thou shalt see me pass up gladly: for by the law of God I am forbidden to put hands upon myself." Then Oliphant put him up with his hand, and he ascended gladly, saying, I will go to the altar of God; and desired that he might have space to speak to the people, which Oliphant and other of the burners denied, saying, that he had spoken over-much; for the bishops were altogether offended that the matter was so long continued. Then some of the young men committed both the burners, and the bishops their masters, to the devil, saying, that they believed they should lament that day; and desired the said Walter to speak what he pleased.

            And so after he made his humble supplication to God on his knees, he arose, and standing upon the coals, said on this wise:

            "Dear friends! the cause why I suffer this day is not for any crime laid to my charge, (albeit I be a miserable sinner before God,) but only for the defence of the faith of Jesus Christ, set forth in the New and Old Testament unto us; for which as the faithful martyrs have offered themselves gladly before, being assured, after the death of their bodies, of eternal felicity, so this day I praise God, that he hath called me of his mercy, among the rest of his servants, to seal up his truth with my life: which, as I have received it of him, so willingly I offer it to his glory. Therefore, as you will escape the eternal death, be no more seduced with the lies of priests, monks, friars, priors, abbots, bishops, and the rest of the sect of antichrist; but depend only upon Jesus Christ and his mercy, that ye may be delivered from condemnation."

            All that while there was great mourning and lamentation of the multitude; for they, perceiving his patience, stoutness and boldness, constancy and hardiness, were not only moved and stirred up, but their hearts also were so inflamed, that he was the last martyr that died in Scotland for the religion. After his prayer, he was hoisted up upon the stake, and being in the fire, he said, "Lord, have mercy on me! Pray, people, while there is time!" and so he constantly departed.

            After this, by the just judgment of God, in the same place where Walter Mille was burnt, the images of the great church of the abbey, which passed both in number and costliness, were burned in the time of reformation.

            And thus much concerning such matters as happened, and such martyrs as suffered, in the. realm of Scotland, for the faith of Jesus Christ, and testimony of his truth.

 

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