Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 264. JOHN ROGERS.

264. JOHN ROGERS.

 

Illustration -- Portrait of John Calvin

Illustration -- The Massacre of St. Bartholemew's Eve

 

HE fourth of February suffered the constant martyr of God, Master John Rogers, concerning whose life, examinations, and suffering, here followeth in order set forth. And first touching his life and bringing up.

            John Rogers, brought up in the university of Cambridge, where he profitably travailed in good learning, at length was chosen and called by the merchant adventurers to be their chaplain at Antwerp in Brabant, whom he served to their good contentation many years. It chanced him there to fall in company with that worthy servant and martyr of God William Tyndale, and with Miles Coverdale, who both, for the hatred they bare to popish superstition and idolatry, and love to true religion, had forsaken their native country. In conferring with them the Scriptures, he came to great knowledge in the gospel of God, insomuch that he cast off the heavy yoke of popery, perceiving it to be impure and filthy idolatry, and joined himself with them two in that painful and most profitable labour of translating the Bible into the English tongue, which is entitled, The Translation of Thomas Matthewe. He, knowing by the Scriptures, that unlawful vows may lawfully be broken, and that matrimony is both honest and honourable among all men, joined himself in lawful matrimony, and so went to Wittenberg in Saxony, where he, with much soberness of living, did not only greatly increase in all good and godly learning, but also so much profited in the knowledge of the Dutch tongue, that the charge of a congregation was orderly committed to his cure.

            In which ministry he diligently and faithfully served many years, until such time as it pleased God, by the faithful travail of his chosen and dear servant, King Edward the Sixth, utterly to banish all popery forth of England, and to receive in true religion, setting God's gospel at liberty. He then, being orderly called, having both a conscience, and a ready good will to help forward the work of the Lord in his native country, left such honest and certain conditions as he had in Saxony, and came into England to preach the gospel, without certainty of any condition. In which office, after he had a space diligently and faithfully travailed, Nicholas Ridley, then bishop of London, gave him a prebend in the cathedral church of Paul; and the dean and the chapter chose him to be the reader of the divinity-lesson there; wherein he diligently travailed, until such time, as Queen Mary, obtaining the crown, banished the gospel and true religion, and brought in the antichrist of Rome, with his idolatry and superstition.

            After the queen was come to the Tower of London, he, being orderly called thereunto, made a godly and vehement sermon at Paul's Cross, confirming such true doctrine as he and others had there taught in King Edward's days, exhorting the people constantly to remain in the same, and to beware of all pestilent popery, idolatry, and superstition. The council, being then overmatched with popish and bloody bishops, called him to account for his sermon: to whom he made a stout, witty, and godly answer; and yet in such sort handled himself, that at that time he was clearly dismissed. But after that proclamation was set forth by the queen to prohibit true preaching, he was called again before the council; for the bishops thirsted after his blood. The council qnarrelled with him concerning his doctrine, and in conclusion commanded him as prisoner to keep his own house; and so he did; although by flying, he might easily have escaped their cruel hands, and many things there were which might have moved him thereunto. He did see the recovery of religion in England, for that present, desperate; he knew he could not want a living in Germany; and he could not forget his wife and ten children, and to seek means to succour them. But all these things set apart, after he was called to answer in Christ's cause, he would not depart, but stoutly stood in defence of the same, and for the trial of that truth, was content to hazard his life.

            Thus he remained in his own house as prisoner a long time, till at length, through the uncharitable procurement of Bonner, bishop of London, who could not abide such honest neighbours to dwell by him, he was removed from his own house to the prison called Newgate, where he was lodged among thieves and murderers for a great space; during which time, what business he had with the adversaries of Christ, all is not known, neither yet any certainty of his examinations, further than he himself did leave in writing; which God would not to be lost, but to remain for a perpetual testimony in the cause of God's truth, as here followeth recorded and testified by his own writing.

 

            The examination and answer of John Rogers, made to the lord chancellor, and to the rest of the council, the twenty-second of January, A. D. 1555.

            First the lord chancellor said unto me thus: "Sir, ye have heard the state of the realm, in which it standeth now."

            Rogers.--"No, my Lord, I have been kept in close prison, and except there have been some general thing said at the table when I was at dinner or supper, I have heard nothing; and there have I heard nothing whereupon any special thing might be grounded."

            Then said the lord chancellor, "General things, general things," mockingly. "Ye have heard of my Lord Cardinal's coming, and that the parliament hath received his blessing, not one resisting unto it, but one man which did speak against it. Such a unity, and such a miracle, hath not been seen. And all they (of which there are eightscore in one house, said one that was by, whose name I know not) have, with one assent and consent, received pardon of their offences, for the schism that we have had in England, in refusing the holy father of Rome to be head of the catholic church. How say ye? Are ye content to unite and knit yourself to the faith of the catholic church with us, in the state in which it is now in England. Will ye do that?"

            Rogers.--"The catholic church I never did nor will dissent from."

            L. Chan.--"Nay, but I speak of the state of the catholic church, in that wise in which we stand now in England, having received the pope to he supreme head."

            Rogers.--"I know none other head but Christ of his catholic church, neither will I acknowledge the bishop of Rome to have any more authority than any other bishop hath by the word of God, and by the doctrine of the old and pure catholic church four hundred years after Christ."

            L. Chan.--"Why didst thou then acknowledge King Henry the Eighth to be the supreme head of the church, if Christ be the only head?"

            Rogers.--"I never granted him to have any supremacy in spiritual things, as are the forgiveness of sins, giving of the Holy Ghost, authority to be a judge above the word of God."

            L. Chan. &c.--"Yea," said the lord chancellor, and Tonstal, bishop of Durham, and N****, bishop of Worcester, "if thou hadst said so in his days" -- and they nodded the head at me with a laughter --"thou hadst not been alive now." Which thing I denied, and would have told how he was said and meant to be supreme head. But they looked and laughed one upon another, and made such a business, that I was constrained to let it pass. There lieth also no great weight thereupon; for all the world knoweth what the meaning was. The lord chancellor, also, said to the Lord William Howard, that there was no inconvenience therein, to have Christ to be supreme head and the bishop of Rome also: and when I was ready to have answered that there could not be two heads of one church, and have more plainly declared the vanity of that his reason, the lord chancellor said, "What sayest thou? Make us a direct answer whether thou wilt be one of this catholic church or not, with us in that state in which we are now?"

            Rogers.--"My Lord, without fail I cannot believe, that ye yourselves do think in your hearts that he is supreme head in forgiving of sin, &c., (as is before said,) seeing you, and all the bishops of the realm, have now twenty years long preached, and some of you also written, to the contrary, and the parliament hath so long agone condescended unto it." And there he interrupted me thus:

            L. Chan.--"Tush! that parliament was with most great cruelty constrained to abolish and put away the primacy from the bishop of Rome."

            Rogers.--"With cruelty? why then I perceive that you take a wrong way, with cruelty to persuade men's consciences. For it should appear by your doings now, that the cruelty then used hath not persuaded your consciences. How would you then have our consciences persuaded with cruelty?"

            L. Chan.--"I talk to thee of no cruelty, but that they were so often and so cruelly called upon in that parliament, to let the act go forward; yea, and even with force driven thereunto: whereas, in this parliament, it was so uniformly received, as is aforesaid."

            Here my Lord Paget told me more plainly, what my lord chancellor meant; unto whom I answered: "My Lord, what will ye conclude thereby; that the first parliament was of less authority, because but few condescended unto it? and this last parliament of great authority, because more condescended unto it? It goeth not, my Lord, by more or lesser part: but by the wiser, truer, and godlier part:" and I would have said more, but the lord chancellor interrupted me with his question, willing me once again to answer him: "For," said he, "we have more to speak with than thou, which must come in after thee."-- And so there were indeed ten persons more out of Newgate, besides two that were not called: of which ten, one was a citizen of London, which granted unto them; and nine were contrary, which all came to prison again, and refused the cardinal's blessing, and the authority of his holy father's church, saving that one of these nine was not asked the question, otherwise than thus: Whether he would be an honest man as his father was before him? and he answering yea, was so discharged by the friendship of my Lord William Howard, as I have understood.--He bade me tell him what I would do: whether I would enter into the one church with the whole realm as it is now, or not?" "No," said I, "I will first see it proved by the Scriptures. Let me have pen, ink, and books, &c., and I shall take upon me plainly to set out the matter, so that the contrary shall be proved to be true; and let any man that will, confer with me by writing."

            L. Chan. "Nay, that shall not be permitted thee. Thou shalt never have so much proffered thee as thou hast now, if thou refuse it, and will not now condescend and agree to the catholic church. Here are two things, mercy and justice: if thou refuse the queen's mercy now, then shalt thou have justice ministered unto thee."

            Rogers.--"I never offended, nor was disobedient unto her Grace, and yet I will not refuse her mercy. But if this shall be denied me, to confer by writing and to try out the truth, then it is not well, but too far out of the way. Ye yourselves (all the bishops of the realm) brought me to the knowledge of the pretended primacy of the bishop of Rome, when I was a young man twenty years past: and will ye now, without collation, have me to say and do the contrary? I cannot be so persuaded."

            L. Chan.--"If thou wilt not receive the bishop of Rome to be supreme head of the catholic church, then thou shalt never have her mercy, thou mayest be sure. And as touching conferring and trial, I am forbidden by the Scriptures to use any conferring and trial with thee. For St. Paul teacheth me, that I should shun and eschew a heretic after one or two monitions, knowing that such a one is overthrown, and is faulty, insomuch as he is condemned by his own judgment."

            Rogers.--"My Lord, I deny that I am a heretic: prove ye that first, and then allege the aforesaid text."--But still the lord chancellor played on one string, saying:

            L. Chan.--"If thou wilt enter into our church with us, &c., tell us that; or else thou shalt never have so much proffered thee again as thou hast now."

            Rogers.--"I will find it first in the Scripture; and see it tried thereby, before I receive him to be supreme head."

            Worcester.--"Why! do ye not know what is in your creed: 'I believe the holy catholic church?'"

            Rogers.--"I find not the bishop of Rome there. For 'catholic' signifieth not the Romish church: it signifieth the consent of all true teaching churches of all times, and all ages. But how should the bishop of Rome's church be one of them, which teacheth so many doctrines that are plainly and directly against the word of God? Can that bishop be the true head of the catholic church that doth so? that is not possible."

            L. Chan.--"Show me one of them; one, let me hear one!"

            I remembered myself, that amongst so many I were best to show one, and said, "I will show you one."

            L. Chan.--"Let me hear that; let me hear that.."

            Rogers.--"The bishop of Rome and his church say, read, and sing, all that they do in their congregations, in Latin, which is directly and plainly against 1 Cor. xiv."

            L. Chan.--"I deny that; I deny that it is against the word of God. Let me see you prove that. How prove you that?"

            Thus I began to say the text from the beginning of the chapter: "To speak with tongue," said I, "is to speak with a strange tongue, as Latin or Greek, &c., and so to speak, is not to speak unto men, but to God. But ye speak in Latin, which is a strange tongue; wherefore ye speak not unto men, but unto God" (meaning God only at the most). This he granted, that they spake not unto men, but unto God.

            L. Chan.--"Well, then it is in vain unto men."

            Rogers.--"No, not in vain. For one man speaketh in one tongue, and another in another tongue, and all well."

            L. Chan.--"Nay, I will prove then, that he speaketh neither to God nor to man, but into the wind."

            I was willing to have declared how and after what sort these two texts do agree, (for they must agree; they be both the sayings of the Holy Ghost, spoken by the apostle Paul,) as to wit, "to speak not to men, but unto God," and, "to speak into the wind," and so to have gone forward with the proof of my matter begun; but here arose a noise and a confusion.-- Then said the lord chancellor:

            L. Chan.--"To speak unto God, and not unto God, were impossible."

            Rogers.--"I will prove them possible."

            "No," said my Lord William Howard to my Lord Chancellor. "Now will I bear you witness, that he is out of the way; for he granted first, that they which speak in a strange speech speak unto God -- and now he saith the contrary, that they speak neither to God nor to man."

            Rogers.--"I have not granted nor said," turning me to my Lord Howard, "as you report. I have alleged the one text, and now I am come to the other. They must agree, and I can make them to agree. But as for you, you understand not the matter."

            Lord Howard.--"I understand so much, that that is not possible."

            "This is a point of sophistry," quoth Secretary Bourn.

            Then the lord chancellor began to tell the Lord Howard, that when he was in High Dutchland, they at Halle, which had before prayed and used their service all in Dutch, began then to turn part into Latin, and part into Dutch.

            Worcester.--"Yea, and at Wittenberg too."

            Rogers.--"Yea," but I could not be heard for the noise, "in a university, where men for the most part understand the Latin, and yet not all in Latin."-- And I would have told the order, and have gone forward both to have answered my Lord, and to have proved the thing that I had taken in hand: but, perceiving their talk and noise to be too noisome, I was fain to think this in my heart, suffering them in the mean while to talk one of them one thing, and another another "Alas! neither will these men hear me if I speak, neither yet will they suffer me to write. There is no remedy, but to let them alone, and commit the matter to God."-- Yet I began to go forward, and said, that I would make the texts to agree, and to prove my purpose well enough.

            L. Chan.--"No, no, thou canst prove nothing by the Scripture. The Scripture is dead: it must have a lively expositor."

            Rogers.--"No, the Scripture is alive. But let me go forward with my purpose."

            Worcester.--"All heretics have alleged the Scriptures for them; and therefore we must have a lively expositor for them."

            Rogers.--"Yea, all heretics have alleged the Scriptures for them: but they were confuted by the Scriptures, and by none other expositor."

            Worcester.--"But they would not confess that they were overcome by the Scriptures, I am sure of that.

            Rogers.--"I believe that: and yet were they overcome by them, and in all councils they were disputed with and overthrown by the Scriptures."-- And here I would have declared how they ought to proceed in these days, and so have come again to my purpose, but it was impossible: for one asked one thing, another said another, so that I was fain to hold my peace, and let them talk. And even when I would have taken hold on my proof, the lord chancellor bade to prison with me again "And away, away," said he; "we have more to talk withal" If I would not be reformed (so he termed it) "away, away!" Then up I stood, for I had kneeled all the while.

            Then Sir Richard Southwell, who stood in a window by, said to me, "Thou wilt not burn in this gear when it cometh to the purpose, I know well that."

            Rogers.--"Sir, I cannot tell, but I trust in my Lord God, yes;"-- lifting up mine eyes unto heaven. Then my Lord of Ely told me much of the queen's Majesty's pleasure and meaning, and set it out with large words, saying, that she took them that would not receive the bishop of Rome's supremacy, to be unworthy to have her mercy, &c. I said I would not refuse her mercy, and yet I never offended her in all my life: and that I besought her Grace, and all their Honours, to be good to me, reserving my conscience.

            Divers spake at once.--"No," quoth they then, a great sort of them, and specially Secretary Bourn "A married priest, and have not offended the law!"

            Rogers.--"I said I had not broken the queen's law, nor yet any point of the law of the realm therein: for I married where it was lawful."

            Divers at once.--"Where was that?" said they, thinking that to be unlawful in all places.

            Rogers.--"In Dutchland. And if ye had not here in England made an open law that priests might have had wives, I would never have come home again; for I brought a wife and eight children with me: which thing ye might be sure that I would not have done, if the laws of the realm had not permitted it before."

            Then there was a great noise, some saying, that I was come too soon with such a sort; I should find a sore coming of it; and some one thing, and some another. And one said, (I could not well perceive who,) that there was never a catholic man or country, that ever granted that a priest might have a wife.

            I said, "The catholic church never denied marriage to priests, nor yet to any other man;" and therewith was I going out of the chamber, the sergeant which brought me thither having me by the arm.

            Then the bishop of Worcester turned his face towards me, and said that I wist not where that church was or is.

            Rogers.--I said, yes, that I could tell where it was;--but therewith went the sergeant with me out of the door.

            This was the very true effect of all that was spoken unto me, and of all that I answered thereunto.

            And here would I gladly make a more perfect answer to all the former objections, as also a due proof of that which I had taken in hand; but at this present I was informed that I should to-morrow come to further answer. Wherefore I am compelled to leave out that which I would most gladly have done, desiring here the hearty and unfeigned help of the prayers of all Christ's true members, the true imps of the true unfeigned catholic church, that the Lord God of all consolation will now be my comfort, aid, strength, buckler, and shield: as also of all my brethren that are in the same case and distress, that I and they all may despise all manner of threats and cruelty, and even the bitter burning fire, and the dreadful dart of death; and stick like true soldiers to our dear and loving Captain, Christ, our only Redeemer and Saviour, and also the only true head of the church, that doth all, in us all; which is the very property of a head (and is a thing that all the bishops of Rome cannot do): and that we do not traitorously run out of his tents, or out of the plain field from him, in the most jeopardy of the battle; but that we may persevere in the fight (if he will not otherwise deliver us) till we be most cruelly slain of his enemies. For this I most heartily, and, at this present, with weeping tears most instantly and earnestly, desire and beseech you all to pray: and also, if I die, to be good to my poor and most honest wife, being a poor stranger, and all my little souls, hers and my children; whom, with all the whole faithful and true catholic congregation of Christ, the Lord of life and death save, keep, and defend, in all the troubles and assaults of this vain world, and bring at the last to everlasting salvation--the true and sure inheritance of all crossed Christians. Amen, Amen.

            The twenty-seventh day of January, at night.

 

The second confession of John Rogers, made, and that should have been made, (if it might have been heard,) the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth day of January, 1555.

            "First, being asked again by the lord chancellor, whether I would come into one church with the bishops and the whole realm, as now was concluded by parliament, (in the which all the realm was converted to the catholic Church of Rome,) and so receive the mercy before proffered me, arising again with the whole realm out of the schism and error in which we had long been, with recantation of my errors:-- I answered, that before I could not tell what his mercy meant; but now, I understand that it was a mercy of the antichristian Church of Rome, which I utterly refused; and that the rising which he spake of, was a very fall into error and false doctrine. Also, that I had and would be able, by God's grace, to prove that all the doctrine which I had ever taught was true and catholic, and that by the Scriptures and the authority of the fathers that lived four hundred years after Christ's death. He answered, That should not, might not, nor ought not, to be granted me: for I was but a private man, and might not be heard against the determination of the whole realm. 'Should,' quoth he, 'when a parliament hath concluded a thing, one or any private person have authority to discuss, whether they had done right or wrong? No, that may not be.'

            "I answered shortly, that all the laws of men might not, neither could, rule the word of God; but that they all must be discussed and judged thereby, and obey thereto; and neither my conscience, nor any Christian man's, could be satisfied with such laws as disagreed from that word: and so was willing to have said much more. But the lord chancellor began a long tale to very small purpose, concerning mine answer, to have defaced me; that there was nothing in me wherefore I should be heard, but arrogancy, pride, and vain-glory.-- I also granted mine ignorance to be greater than I could express, or than he took it: but yet that I feared not, by God's assistance and strength, to be able by writing to perform my word; neither was I (I thanked God) so utterly ignorant as he would make me; but all was of God, to whom be thanks rendered therefore. Proud man was I never, nor yet vain-glorious. All the world knew well, where and on which side pride, arrogancy, and vain-glory was. It was a poor pride, that was or is in us, God it knoweth.

            "Then said he, that I at the first dash condemned the queen and the whole realm to be of the church of antichrist; and burdened me highly therewithal. I answered, that the queen's Majesty (God save her Grace) would have done well enough, if it had not been for his counsel. He said, the queen went before him, and it was her own motion. I said, without fail I neither could, nor would I, ever believe it.

            "Then said Dr. Aldrich, the bishop of Carlisle, that they (the bishops) would bear him witness. 'Yea,' quoth I, 'that I believe well:' and with that the people laughed; for that day there were many, but on the morrow they kept the doors shut, and would let none in, but the bishops' adherents and servants in a manner: yea, and the first day the thousandth man came not in. Then Master Comptroller and Secretary Bourn would have stood up also, to bear witness, and did.

            "I said, it was no great matter: and, to say the truth, I thought that they were good helpers thereunto themselves; but I ceased to say any more therein, knowing that they were too strong and mighty of power, and that they should be believed before me; yea, and before our Saviour Christ, and all his prophets and apostles too, in these days.

            "Then, after many words, he asked me what I thought concerning the blessed sacrament; and stood up, and put off his cap, and all his fellow bishops (of which there were a great sort new men, of whom I knew few)-- whether I believed in the sacrament to be the very body and blood of our Saviour Christ, that was born of the Virgin Mary and hanged on the cross, really and substantially.

            "I answered, I had often told him that it was a matter in which I was no meddler; and therefore suspected of my brethren to be of a contrary opinion. 'Notwithstanding, even as the most part of your doctrine in other points is false, and the defence thereof only by force and cruelty: so in this matter I think it to be as false as the rest. For I cannot understand 'really and substantially' to signify otherwise than corporally: but corporally Christ is only in heaven, and so cannot Christ be corporally also in your sacrament.' And here I somewhat set out his charity after this sort: 'My Lord,' quoth I, 'ye have dealt with me most cruelly; for ye have put me in prison without law, and kept me there now almost a year and a half. For I was almost half a year in my house, where I was obedient to you, God knoweth, and spake with no man. And now have I been a full year in Newgate at great costs and charges, having a wife and ten children to find; and I had never a penny of my livings -- which was against the law.'

            "He answered, that Dr. Ridley which had given them me, was a usurper, and therefore I was the unjust possessor of them.

            "'Was the king, then, a usurper,' quoth I, 'which gave Dr. Ridley the bishopric?'

            "'Yea,' quoth he; and began to set out the wrongs that the king had done to the bishop of London, and to himself also:--'But yet I do misuse my terms,' quoth he, 'to call the king usurper.' But the word was gone out of the abundance of the heart before; and I think that he was not very sorry for it in heart. I might have said more concerning that matter, but I did not.

            "I asked him, wherefore he put me in prison. He said, because I preached against the queen.

            "I answered that it was not true: and I would be bound to prove it, and to stand to the trial of the law, that no man should be able to disprove it, and thereupon would set my life. 'I preached,' quoth I, 'a sermon at the Cross, after the queen came to the Tower; but therein was nothing said against the queen, I take witness of all the audience; which was not small.' I alleged also, that he had, after examination, let me go at liberty after the preaching of that sermon.

            "'Yea, but thou didst read thy lectures after,' quoth he, 'against the commandment of the council.'

            "That did I not,' quoth I; 'let that be proved, and let me die for it. Thus have you now against the law of God and man handled me, and never sent for me, never conferred with me, never spoke of any learning, till now that ye have gotten a whip to whip me with, and a sword to cut off my neck, if I will not condescend to your mind. This charity doth all the world understand.'

            "I might and would have added, if I could have been suffered to speak, that it had been time enough to take away men's livings, and thereto to have imprisoned them, after that they had offended laws: for they be good citizens that break not laws, and worthy of praise, and not of punishment. But their purpose is to keep men in prison, so long until they may catch them in their laws; and so kill them. I could and would have added the example of Daniel, which, by a crafty devised law, was cast into the lions' den. Item, I might have declared, that I most humbly desired to be set at liberty, sending my wife to him with a supplication, being great with child, and with her eight honest women, or thereabouts, to Richmond, at Christmas was a twelvemonth, while I was yet in my house.

            "Item, I wrote two supplications to him out of Newgate, and sent my wife many times to him. Master Gosnold also, that worthy man who is now departed in the Lord, laboured for me, and so did divers other worthy men also take pains in the matter. These things declare my Lord Chancellor's antichristian charity, which is, that he hath and doth seek my blood, and the destruction of my poor wife and my ten children.

            "This is a short sum of the words which were spoken on the twenty-eighth day of January at afternoon, after that Master Hooper had been the first, and Master Cardmaker the second, in examination before me. The Lord grant us grace to stand together, fighting lawfully in his cause, till we be smitten down together, if the Lord's will be so to permit it. For there shall not a hair of our heads perish against his will, but with his will. Whereunto the same Lord grant us to be obedient unto the end; and in the end, Amen, sweet, mighty, and merciful Lord Jesus, the Son of David and of God! Amen, Amen! let every true Christian say and pray.

            "Then the clock being, as I guessed, about four, the lord chancellor said, that he and the church must yet use charity with me, (what manner of charity it is, all true Christians do well understand,-- as to wit, the same that the fox doth with the chickens, and the wolf with the lambs,) and gave me respite till to-morrow, to see whether I would remember myself well to-morrow, and whether I would return to the catholic church (for so he calleth his antichristian false church) again, and repent, and they would receive me to mercy.

            "I said, that I was never out of the true catholic church, nor would be: but into his church would I, by God's grace, never come.

            "'Well,' quoth he, 'then is our church false and antichristian?'

            "'Yea,' quoth I.

            "'And what is the doctrine of the sacrament?

            "'False,' quoth I;-- and cast my hands abroad.

            "Then said one, that I was a player. To whom I answered not; for I passed not upon his mock.

            "'Come again,' quoth the lord chancellor, 'tomorrow between nine and ten.'

            "'I am ready to come again, whensoever ye call,' quoth I.

            "And thus was I brought up by the sheriffs to the compter in Southwark, Master Hooper going before me, and a great multitude of people being present, so that we had much to do to go in the streets. (Thus much was done the twenty-eighth day of January.)

            "The second day, which was the twenty-ninth of January, we were sent for in the morning about nine of the clock, and by the sheriffs fetched from the compter in Southwark to the church again, as to wit, to St. Mary Overy's, where we were the day before in the afternoon, as is said. And when Master Hooper was condemned, as I understood afterward, then sent they for me. Then my lord chancellor said unto me:

            "'Rogers,' quoth he, here thou wast yesterday, and we gave thee liberty to remember thyself this night, whether thou wouldst come to the holy catholic church of Christ again or not. Tell us now what thou hast determined; whether thou wilt be repentant and sorry, and wilt return again and take mercy.'

            "'My Lord,' quoth I, 'I have remembered myself right well, what you yesterday said to me, and desire you to give me leave to declare my mind, what I have to say thereunto; and, that done, I shall answer you to your demanded question.

            "'When I yesterday desired that I might be suffered by the Scripture and authority of the first, best, and purest church, to defend my doctrine by writing, (meaning not only of the primacy, but also of all the doctrine that ever I had preached,) ye answered me, that it might not, nor ought not, to be granted me, for I was a private person; and that the parliament was above the authority of all private persons, and therefore the sentence thereof might not be found faulty and valueless by me, being but a private person. And yet, my Lord,' quoth I, 'I am able to show examples, that one man hath come into a general council, and after the whole had determined and agreed upon an act or article, some one man coming in afterward, hath, by the word of God, declared so pithily that the council had erred in decreeing the said article, that he caused the whole council to change and alter their act or article before determined. And of these examples,' said I, 'I am able to show two. I can also show the authority of St. Augustine; that when he disputed with a heretic, he would neither himself, nor yet have the heretic, to lean unto the determination of two former councils, of the which the one made for him, and the other for the heretic that disputed against him; but said, that he would have the Scriptures to be their judge, which were common and indifferent for them both, and not proper to either of them.

            "'Item, I could show,' said I, 'the authority of a learned lawyer, Panormitane, who saith, that unto a simple layman, that bringeth the word of God with him, there ought more credit to be given, than to a whole council gathered together. By these things will I prove that I ought not to be denied to say my mind, and to be heard against a whole parliament, bringing the word of God for me, and the authority of the old church four hundred years after Christ -- albeit that every man in the parliament had willingly, and without respect of fear and favour, agreed thereunto, which thing I doubt not a little of -- specially seeing the like had been permitted in that old church, even in general councils; yea, and that in one of the chiefest councils that ever was, unto which neither any acts of this parliament, nor yet any of the late general councils of the bishops of Rome, ought to be compared. For,' said I, 'if Henry the Eighth were alive, and should call a parliament, and begin to determine a thing, (and here I would have alleged the example of the act of making the queen a bastard, and of making himself the superior head; but I could not, being interrupted by one whom God forgive,) then will ye, (pointing to my Lord Chancellor,) and ye, and ye, and so ye all, (pointing to the rest of the bishops,) say, Amen: yea, and it like your Grace, it is meet that it be so enacted.'

            "Here my Lord Chancellor would suffer me to speak no more; but bade me sit down mockingly, saying that I was sent for to be instructed of them, and I would take upon me to be their instructor.

            "'My Lord,' quoth I, 'I stand, and sit not: shall I not be suffered to speak for my life?'

            "'Shall we suffer thee to tell a tale, and to prate?' quoth he. And with that he stood up, and began to face me, after his old arrogant, proud fashion; for he perceived that I was in a way to have touched them somewhat, which he thought to hinder by dashing me out of my tale, and so he did. For I could never be suffered to come to my tale again, no, not to one word of it; but he had much like communication with me as he had the day before, and as his manner is, taunt upon taunt, and check upon check. For in that case, being God's cause. I told him he should not make me afraid to speak.

            L. Chan.--"'See what a spirit this fellow hath,' said he; 'finding fault at mine accustomed earnestness, and hearty manner of speaking.'

            Rogers.--"'I have a true spirit,' quoth I, 'agreeing and obeying the word of God:' and would further have said, that I was never the worse, but the better, to be earnest in a just and true cause, and in my Master Christ's matters: but I could not be heard. And at length he proceeded towards his excommunication and condemnation, after that I had told him that his Church of Rome was the church of antichrist, meaning the false doctrine and tyrannical laws, with the maintenance thereof by cruel persecutions used by the bishops of the said church (of which the bishop of Winchester and the rest of his fellow bishops, that are now in England, are the chief members): 'Of laws I mean,' quoth I, 'and not of all men and women which are in the pope's church.' Likewise when I was said to have denied their sacrament, (whereof he made his wonted reverent mention, more to maintain his kingdom thereby, than for the true reverence of Christ's institution; more for his own and his popish generations' sake, than for religion or God's sake,) I told him after what order I did speak of it (for the manner of his speaking was not agreeing to my words, which are before recited in the communication that we had on the twenty-eighth of January); wherewith he was not contented, but he asked the audience whether I had not simply denied the sacrament. They would have said, and did, what he lusted; for the most of them were of his own servants at that day (the twenty-ninth of January, I mean). At the last I said, 'I will never deny that I said; that is, that your doctrine of the sacrament is false; but yet I tell you after what order I said it.'

            "To be short, he read my condemnation before me particularly, mentioning therein but two articles; first, that I affirmed the Romish catholic church to be the church of antichrist, and that I denied the reality of their sacrament. He caused me to be degraded and condemned, and put into the hands of the laity; and so he gave me over into the sheriffs' hands, which were much better than his."

            The copy of this his condemnation here, I thought good to put down in English, to the intent that the same, being here once expressed, may serve for all other sentences condemnatory, through the whole story to be referred unto.

 

The sentence condemnatory against Master Rogers.

            "In the name of God, Amen. We Stephen, by the permission of God bishop of Winchester, lawfully and rightly proceeding with all godly favour, by authority and virtue of our office, against thee John Rogers, priest, alias called Matthew, before us personally here present, being accused and detected, and notoriously slandered of heresy, having heard, seen, and understood, and with all diligent deliberation weighed, discussed, and considered, the merits of the cause, all things being observed, which by us in this behalf in order of law ought to be observed, sitting in our judgment-seat, the name of Christ being first called upon, and having only God before our eyes: because by the acts enacted, propounded, and exhibited in this matter, and by thine own confession judicially made before us, we do find that thou hast taught, holden, and affirmed, and obstinately defended, divers errors, heresies, and damnable opinions, contrary to the doctrine and determination of the holy church, as namely these: That the catholic Church of Rome is the church of antichrist: item, that in the sacrament of the altar there is not substantially nor really the natural body and blood of Christ: the which aforesaid heresies and damnable opinions, being contrary to the law of God, and determination of the universal and apostolical church, thou hast arrogantly, stubbornly, and wittingly maintained, held, and affirmed, and also defended before us, as well in this judgment, as also otherwise; and with the like obstinacy, stubbornness, malice, and blindness of heart, both wittingly and willingly hast affirmed, that thou wilt believe, maintain and hold, affirm and declare, the same: we therefore, Stephen Winchester, bishop, ordinary, and diocesan aforesaid, by the consent and assent as well of our reverend brethren the lord bishops here present and assistant, as also by the counsel and judgment of divers worshipful lawyers and professors of divinity, with whom we have communicated in this behalf, do declare and pronounce thee, (the said John Rogers, otherwise called Matthew,) through thy demerits, transgressions, obstinacies, and wilfulness, (which, through manifold ways, thou hast incurred by thine own wicked and stubborn obstinacy,) to have been and to be guilty of the detestable, horrible, and wicked offences of heretical pravity and execrable doctrine, and that thou hast before us sundry times spoken, maintained, and wittingly and stubbornly defended, the said cursed and execrable doctrine in the sundry confessions, assertions, and recognitions here judicially before us oftentimes repeated, and yet still dost maintain, affirm, and believe the same; and that thou hast been and art lawfully and ordinarily convicted in this behalf: we therefore, I say -- albeit, following the example of Christ, which would not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should convert and live, we have gone about oftentimes to correct thee, and by all lawful means that we could, and all wholesome admonitions that we did know, to reduce thee again unto the true faith and unity of the universal catholic church: notwithstanding we have found thee obstinate and stiff-necked, willingly continuing in thy damnable opinions and heresies, and refusing to return again unto the true faith and unity of the holy mother church, and as the child of wickedness and darkness so to have hardened thy heart, that thou wilt not understand the voice of thy shepherd, which, with a fatherly affection, doth seek after thee; nor wilt be allured with his fatherly and godly admonitions -- we therefore, (Stephen, the bishop aforesaid,) not willing that thou which art wicked shouldest now become more wicked, and infect the Lord's flock with thine heresy, (which we are greatly afraid of,) with sorrow of mind and bitterness of heart do judge thee, and definitively condemn thee, the said John Rogers, otherwise called Matthew, thy demerits and faults being aggravated through thy damnable obstinacy, as guilty of most detestable heresies, and as an obstinate, impenitent sinner, refusing penitently to return to the lap and unity of the holy mother church; and that thou hast been and art by law excommunicate, and do pronounce and declare thee to be an excommunicate person. Also we pronounce and declare thee, being a heretic, to be cast out from the church, and left unto the judgment of the secular power, and now presently so do leave thee as an obstinate heretic, and a person wrapped in the sentence of the great curse, to be degraded worthily for thy demerits (requiring them, notwithstanding, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this execution and punishment worthily to be done upon thee, may so be moderated, that the rigour thereof be not too extreme, nor yet the gentleness too much mitigated; but that it may be to the salvation of thy soul, to the extirpation, terror, and conversion of the heretics, to the unity of the catholic faith) by this our sentence definitive which we here lay upon and against thee, and do with sorrow of heart promulgate in this form aforesaid!"

            "After this sentence being read, he sent us (Master Hooper I mean, and me) to the clink, there to remain till night: and when it was dark, they carried us, (Master Hooper going before with the one sheriff, and I coming after with the other,) with bills and weapons enow, out of the clink, and led us through the bishop's house, and so through St. Mary Overy's churchyard; and so into Southwark, and over the bridge in procession to Newgate, through the city.

            "But I must show you this also, that when he had read the condemnation, he declared that I was in the great curse; and what a vengeable dangerous matter it was, to eat and drink with us that were accursed, or to give us any thing: for all that so did, should be partakers of the same great curse.

            "'Well my Lord,' quoth I, 'here I stand before God and you, and all this honourable audicnce, and take him to witness, that I never wittingly or willingly taught any false doctrine; and therefore have I a good conscience before God and all good men. I am sure that you and I shall come before a Judge that is righteous, before whom I shall be as good a man as you: and I nothing doubt but that I shall be found there a true member of the true catholic church of Christ, and everlastingly saved. And as for your false church, ye need not to excommunicate me forth of it. I have not been in it these twenty years, the Lord be thanked there-for. But now ye have done what ye can, my Lord, I pray you yet grant me one thing.'

            "'What is that?' quoth he.

            "'That my poor wife, being a stranger, may come and speak with me so long as I live. For she hath ten children that are hers and mine, and somewhat I would counsel her, what were best for her to do.'

            "'No,' quoth he, 'she is not thy wife.'

            "'Yes, my Lord,' quoth I, 'and hath been these eighteen years.'

            "'Should I grant her to be thy wife?' quoth he.

            "'Choose you,' quoth I: 'whether ye will or not, she shall be so nevertheless.'

            "'She shall not come at thee,' quoth he.

            "'Then I have tired out all your charity,' said I. 'You make yourself highly displeased with the matrimony of priests, but you maintain open whoredom; as in Wales,' quoth I, 'where every priest hath his whore openly dwelling with him, and lying by him: even as your holy father suffereth all the priests in Dutchland and in France to do the like.' Thereto he answered not, but looked as it were asquint at it: and thus I departed, and saw him last."

            Other good matter there is besides, penned by Master Rogers in the prison, which he thought and would have answered, if he might have been permitted: which matter hereunder followeth to be seen by his own setting down.

            "Hitherto, dearly beloved, ye have heard what was said. Now hear what I purposed the night before to have said, if I could have been permitted. Two things I purposed to have touched: the one, how it was lawful for a private man to reason and write against a wicked act of parliament, or ungodly council, which the lord chancellor the day before denied me: the other was to prove that prosperity was not always a token of God's love.

            "And this I purposed to speak of, because the lord chancellor boasted of himself, that he was delivered forth of prison as it were by miracle, and preserved of God to restore true religion, and to punish me and such others, whom he termed heretics. Concerning these two points, in this manner I purposed to have proceeded:-

            "It is not unknown to you, that King Henry the Eighth, in his time, made his daughter, the queen that now is, a bastard; he abolished the authority of the bishop of Rome; he pulled down abbeys: and all this he did by the consent of parliament.

            "King Edward the Sixth, in his time, made lawful the marriage of priests; turned the service into English; abolished the idolatrous mass, with all like superstitious trumpery; set up the holy communion: and all by consent of parliament.

            "The queen that now is hath repealed the act that made her bastard; hath brought in the bishop of Rome, and set him in his old authority: beginneth to set up abbeys again; hath made the marriage of priests unlawful; hath turned the English service into Latin again; hath set up the mass again, with like baggage, and pulled down the holy communion: and all this is done by consent of parliament.

            "If the acts of parliament, made in King Henry's time and in King Edward's, had their foundation upon God's word, whereupon all positive law ought to be grounded; then these which are established in the queen's time, being clean contrary to the others, as they are not warranted by God's word, so are they wicked, and therefore to be both spoken and written against of all men, as well of private as of public persons.

            "If your acts, my Lord Chancellor, which you have lately coined, (I call them yours, because ye only bear the swinge -- devise, and decree what ye list, all other men are forced to follow,) be good, and according to God's word, then the former acts were naught; which thing ye seem to say, in utterly taking of them away, and setting up of the contrary.-- If the former were naught, why then did ye consent unto them, and confirm them to be good by your voluntary and advised writing, as it appeareth, and will do to the world's end, in your book De vera Obedientia, where you prove the queen a bastard, and the bishop of Rome to be a usurper, and to have no authority in the realm of England?

            "Ye must needs confess, that the most part of your acts of parliament in these latter days have been according to the fantasies of a few. King Henry, in his time, established by parliament in a manner what he listed, and many things that might well have been amended.

            "In King Edward's days the dukes of Somerset and Northumberland bare a great stroke in things, and did not all things sincerely. Even so, since the queen that now is came to the government of the realm, all things are ordered by your device and head, and the whole parliament house is led as you list; by reason whereof they are compelled to condescend to things both contrary to God's manifest word, and also contrary to their own consciences: so great is your cruelty.

            "For to bring your wicked purposes to pass, and to establish your antichristian kingdom, (which, I trust, the Lord with the breath of his mouth will speedily blow over,) ye have called three parliaments in one year and a half, that what ye could not compass by subtle persuasion, ye might bring to pass by tyrannical threatening: for, if ye had not used cruel force in your doings, ye had never brought to pass such things as this day ye have, to the utter defacing and abolishing of God's true religion, and to the casting away and destruction of your natural country, so much as in you lieth.

            "And as it is most true, that acts of parliament have, in these latter days, been ruled by the fantasies of a few; and the whole parliament house, contrary to their minds, was compelled to consent to such things as a few have conceived: so it must needs be granted, that the papists at all times were most ready to apply themselves to the present world, and, like men-pleasers, to follow the fantasies of such as were in authority, and turn with the state, which way soever it turned. Yea, if the state should change ten times in one year, they would ever be ready at hand to change with it, and so follow the cry; and rather utterly forsake God, and be of no religion, than that they would forego lust or living, for God or for religion.

            "King Henry by parliament, according to God's word, put down the pope: the clergy consented, and all men openly by oath refused his usurped supremacy, knowing by God's word Christ to be head of the church, and every king in his realm to have, under and next unto Christ, the chief sovereignty.

            "King Edward also, by parliament, according to God's word, set the marriage of priests at liberty, abolished the popish and idolatrous mass, changed the Latin service, and set up the holy communion: the whole clergy consented hereunto; many of them set it forth by their preaching; and all they by practising confirmed the same.

            "Notwithstanding, now when the state is altered, and the laws changed, the papistical clergy, with other like worldlings, as men neither fearing God, neither flying worldly shame, neither yet regarding their consciences, oaths, or honesty, like wavering weathercocks, turn round about, and putting on harlots' foreheads, sing a new song, and cry with an impudent mouth, 'Come again, come again to the catholic church;' meaning the antichristian Church of Rome, which is the synagogue of Satan, and the very sink of all superstition, heresy, and idolatry.

            "Of what force, I pray you, may a man think these parliaments to be, which scantly can stand a year in strength? or what credit is to be given to these law-makers, which are not ashamed to establish contrary laws, and to condemn that for evil, which before (the thing itself and the circumstances remaining all one) they affirmed and decreed to be good. Truly ye are so ready, contrary to all right, to change and turn for the pleasure of man, that at length, I fear, God will use you like changelings, and both turn you forth of his kingdom, and out of your own country.

            "Ye charge the gospel preachers with the undoing of this realm: nay, it is the turning papists, which have not only set to sale their country like traitors, but also troubled the simple people, so that they cannot tell what they may believe. For that which they affirmed, and preached to be true doctrine, in King Edward's days, now they cry against it, as it were most abominable heresy. This fault, I trust, ye shall never find at our hands.

            "Therefore, to conclude that which I purposed, forasmuch as the acts of parliament of these latter times are one contrary to another, and those which ye now have established in your time are contrary to God's most manifest word--as is the usurped supremacy of the bishop of Rome, the idolatrous mass, the Latin service, the prohibiting of lawful marriage, (which St. Paul calleth the doctrine of devils,) with many such others: I say, it is not only lawful for any private man, which bringeth God's word for him, and the authority of the primitive and best church, to speak and write against such unlawful laws; but it is his duty, and he is bound in very conscience to do it. Which thing I have proved by divers examples before, and now will add but one other, which is written in Acts v., where it appeareth that the high priests, the elders, scribes, and Pharisees, decreed in their council, and gave the same commandments to the apostles, that they should not preach in the name of Christ, as ye have also forbidden us. Notwithstanding, when they were charged therewithal, they answered, We ought more to obey God than man: even so we may, and do answer you -- God is more to be obeyed than man; and your wicked laws cannot so tongue-tie us, but we will speak the truth.

            "The apostles were beaten for their boldness, and they rejoiced that they suffered for Christ's cause. Ye have also provided rods for us, and bloody whips: yet when ye have done that which God's hand and counsel hath determined that ye shall do, be it life or death, I trust that God will so assist us by his Holy Spirit and grace, that we shall patiently suffer it, and praise God for it. And whatsoever become of me and others, which now suffer for speaking and professing of the truth, yet be ye sure that God's word will prevail, and have the upper hand, when your bloody laws and wicked decrees, for want of sure foundation, shall fall in the dust. And that which I have spoken of your acts of parliament, the same may be said of the general councils of these latter days, which have been within these five hundred years, where the antichrist of Rome, by reason of his usurped authority, ruled the roast, and decreed such things as made for his gain, not regarding God's glory: and therefore are they to be spoken, written, and cried out against, of all such as fear God and love his truth.

            "And thus much I purposed to have said concerning the first point.

            "Now touching the second point: That whereas my Lord Chancellor had the day before said his pleasure of them that ruled the realm while he was in prison, and also rejoiced as though God had made this alteration, even for his sake and his catholic church, as he called it, and to declare as it were by miracle, that we were before in a schism and heresy, and the realm was now brought unto a unity, and to a truth, and I cannot tell whereto: thereto was I fully purposed to have said:

            "Secondly, my Lord, whereas ye yesterday so highly dispraised the government of them that ruled in innocent King Edward's days, it may please your Lordship to understand, that we poor preachers, whom ye so evil allow, did most boldly and plainly rebuke their evil governance in many things, specially their covetousness, and neglect and small regard to live after the gospel; as also their negligence to occasion others to live thereafter, with more things than I can now rehearse. This can all London testify with us.-- I would also have told him, what I myself, for my part, did once at Paul's Cross, concerning the misuse of abbeys, and other church goods: and I am assured right well, that never a papist of them all, did ever so much therein as I did, I thank the Lord there-for: I was also, as is well known, fain to answer there-for before all the council, and many of my brethren did the like, so that we, for the not rebuking of their faults, shall not answer before God, nor be blameworthy before men. Therefore let the gentlemen and courtiers themselves, and all the citizens of London, testify what we did.

            "But, my Lord, you could not abide them, for that which they did unto you, and for that they were of a contrary religion unto you. Wherefore, in that you seem so infest against them, it is neither any just nor public cause, but it is your own private hate, that maketh you to report so evil of their governance. And ye may now say what ye list of them, when they be partly dead and gone, and partly by you put out of office.

            "But what shall be said of you when your fall shall follow, ye shall then hear. And I must say my conscience to you: I fear me, ye have and will, with your governance, bring England out of God's blessing into a warm sun. I pray God, you do not.

            "I am an Englishman born, and, God knoweth, do naturally wish well to my country. And, my Lord, I have often proved that the things, which I have much feared aforehand should come to pass, have indeed followed. I pray God I may fail of my guessing in this behalf: but truly, that will not be with expelling the true word of God out of the realm, and with the shedding of innocent blood.

            "And as touching your rejoicing, as though God had set you aloft to punish us by miracle, (for so you report and brag openly of yourself,) and to minister justice, if we will not receive your holy father's mercy, and thereby do declare your church to be true, and ours false, to that I answer thus: God's works be wonderful, and are not to be comprehended and perceived by man's wisdom, nor by the wit of the most wise and prudent. Yea, they are soonest deceived, and do most easily judge amiss of God's wonderful works, that are most worldly wise. God hath made all the wisdom of this world foolishness: 'He hath put his beloved and dear heart into the hands of the enemies thereof.'

            "This thing doth God, which thing all wise men account to be the most foolish and unwise part that can be. Will the wise of the world, trow ye, put their most dear friends and tenderly beloved children into their enemies' hands, to kill, slay, burn, &c.: that is unto them a madness above all madness. And yet doth God use this order, and this is a high and singular wisdom in his sight, which the world taketh to be most extreme madness.

            "Can the world show a cause why he suffered the great multitude of innocent children to be murdered of Herod of Ascalon, or why he put that most holy man, John Baptist, into the hands of Herod's son to be beheaded, and that in prison secretly, without open judgment, most tyrannously? Why he suffered his beloved apostle James to be beheaded of another Herod? Why he suffered his beloved seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to be four hundred years in thraldom and bondage, and under Pharaoh? And all the stock of Judah and Benjamin, his beloved children and church, to come under the power, sword, and tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar? No verily, but his true catholic church knoweth divers causes thereof, which are now too long to rehearse, and which I would right gladly show, if I had time.

            "But this I am right sure of, that it was not because that the aforesaid godly men were in heresies, and subject to false gods' services, and idolatry, and that their adversaries were men of God, and beloved of God: the contrary was true: John Baptist was beloved of God, and Herod hated, and so forth of the rest: and John Baptist, the innocent children, James, the children of Israel in Egypt and in Babylon, were the catholic members and people of God: and their adversaries, into whose hands they were put and delivered, and that of God, by his good will and pleasure, were idolaters, and the people of the devil: but they would be called the chief members of God, and rejoiced that they had the true God, and that it was now declared by miracle, that the Israelites had but a false God, and a false religion, seeing they were delivered into the Babylonians' hands. And all the others (the Herods and Pharaoh, I mean) plainly determined, that if the men, which they killed and handled evil, had been God's people, God would never have suffered them to come into their hands, but rather have done the contrary; and have let John Baptist kill Herod, and the Israelites Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Even the like is now to be seen in us, and in our most cruel adversaries.

            "They are not therefore the catholic church, because our merciful God hath at this present given our lives into their hands: neither are we therefore heretics, because we suffer punishment at their hands, as the lord chancellor by his rejoicing seemeth to gather. The contrary is hereby to be gathered, that we be the members of the true catholic church, because we suffer for the same doctrine which John Baptist, James, the Israelites, yea, Christ and the apostles, did teach: of which none taught any thing of our adversaries' doctrine; namely, that the rotten antichristian head of Rome should be the head of Christ's church: but they have manifestly taught the contrary, especially Paul, John, and Daniel; which thing, if I might have life and books, I would so (by God's grace) set forth, that all the world should see it: and that our adversaries, with their antichristian head, are the members of the devil's church, as they undoubtedly are. And in like case, as the above-mentioned holy men, though they, in their days, were counted to be heretics, seditious, and disturbers of the whole world; for unto John Baptist it was said, Wherefore baptizest thou, if thou be not Elias, nor that prophet? &c.-- as who should say, Thou hast no such authority to begin a new ceremony in the church; for we be in ordinary possession of the church; and of us thou hast received no such power: we abide by our circumcision. And the like could I declare of James, and of all the apostles and prophets, and of our Saviour Christ himself, that were all condemned as heretics, and blasphemers of God, and disturbers of the whole world. Paul and Silas heard like words of the Philippians: These men trouble our city, seeing they are Jews, and preach institutions which are not lawful for us to receive, seeing we be Romans. And in Athens, the wise men of this world, and such as gave their endeavour to wisdom, said by St. Paul, Quid vult spermo-logus hic dicere? What will this prater, (as my Lord Chancellor said to me, Shall we suffer this fellow to prate,-- when I would fain have said that thing that I have here written,) trifler, news-carrier, or bringer, that telleth whatsoever men will have him for gain and advantage? that will for a piece of bread say what ye will have him, &c. And another said in the same place, He seemeth to be a preacher of new devils, &c.; and the Jews say by Paul, laying hands on him, Help, O ye Israelites, say they; this is the man that teacheth all men every where against the people, (meaning the Jews,) and the law of this place (meaning Jerusalem): and yet was never a word of these true. And the same Jews said of Paul, Out of the earth with that man, or, Away with him; for it is not lawful for him to live, or, he is not worthy to live. And how many more of these examples are to be found in the Bible! Although, I say, these men were in their days taken for heretics of them that were then in authority, and of the great multitude of the world, yet it is now well known (yea, and very shortly after their deaths this was known, yea, and even in their lives also) unto the true catholic church, that they were not only the chief and special members of the true catholic church, but also the founders and builders thereof (notwithstanding the sinister judgment that the wise and mighty men, and the great multitude of the world, had of them); and in their consciences they were always assuredly certified of the same. Even the same shall the world find true in us shortly after our deaths, as also there be at this hour (the Lord be thanked there-for) not a few that already know it; as we ourselves also are by God's grace assuredly certified in our consciences -- that we are not heretics, but members of the true catholic church; and that our adversaries the bishops and popish clergy, which will have that title, are the members of Satan's church, and their antichristian head of Rome with them.

            "But here they will cry out, Lo! these men will be still like John Baptist, the apostles, and prophets,' &c.

            "I answer, 'We make not ourselves like unto them, in the singular virtues and gifts of God given unto them; as of doing miracles, and of many other things.' The similitude and likeness of them and us consisteth not in all things, but only in this; that is, that we be like them in doctrine, and in the suffering of persecution and infamy for the same.

            "We have preached their very doctrine, and none other thing: that we are able sufficiently to declare by their writings; and by writing, for my part, I have proffered to prove the same, as is now often said. And for this cause we suffer the like reproach, shame, and rebuke of the world, and the like persecution, losing of our lives and goods, forsaking (as our Master Christ commandeth) father, mother, sisters, brethren, wives, children, and all that there is; being assured of a joyful resurrection, and to be crowned in glory with them, according to the infallible promises made unto us in Christ, our only and sufficient Mediator, Reconciler, Priest, and Sacrifice; which hath pleased the Father, and quieted and pacified his wrath against our sins, and made us without spot or wrinkle in his sight by imputation, although we, of and in ourselves, are bespotted, and be-blotted with many filthy sins, which, if the great mercy granted in Christ did not put away, by not imputing them unto us of his measureless unspeakable mercy and love to save us, they would have brought us to everlasting damnation, and death perpetual: herein, and in no other, do we affirm ourselves to be like unto our Head Christ, and all his apostles, prophets, martyrs, and saints. And herein ought all Christian men to be like them; and herein are all true Christian men and women like them every one, according to the measure of the faith that God hath dealt unto them, and to the diversity of the gifts of the Spirit given unto them.

            "But let us now consider, that if it be God's good will and pleasure to give his own beloved heart (that is, his beloved church, and the members thereof) into the hands of their enemies, to chasten, try, and prove them, and to bring them to the true unfeigned acknowledging of their own natural stubbornness, and disobedience towards God and his commandment, as touching the love of God and of their brethren or neighbours, and their natural inclination, readiness, and desire to love creatures; to seek their own lusts, pleasures, and things forbidden of God; to obtain a true and earnest repentance, and sorrowfulness there-for, and to make them to sigh and cry for the forgiveness of the same. and for the aid of the Spirit daily to mortify and kill the said evil desires and lusts: yea, and often falling into gross outward sins, as did David, Peter, Magdalene, and others, to rise again also thereout with a mighty crying for mercy, with many other causes --let us also consider what he hereafter doth with the said enemies, into whose hands he hath given his tender beloved dearlings to be chastened and tried. Forsooth, whereas he but chasteneth his dearlings, and crosseth them for a small while, according to his good pleasure, as all fathers do wilh their children, he utterly destroyeth, yea, and everlastingly damneth, the unrepentant enemies. Let Herod tell me what he won by killing James, and persecuting Peter, and Christ's tender dearlings, and beloved spouse and wife, his church. Verily God thought him not worthy to have death ministered unto him by men or angels, or any worthy creatures, but those small, and yet most vile vermin, lice and worms, must consume and kill his beastly, vile, and tyrannous body. Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, for all their pride and most mighty power, must at length let God's dearlings go freely away out of their land; yea, out of their bands and tyranny. For when it could not be obtained at their hands that God's congregation might have true mercy ministered unto them, but the counterfeit mercy of these our days, (that is to say, extreme cruelty, and even the very and that most horrible and cruel death,) God-arose and awoke out of his sleep, and destroyed those enemies of his flock with a mighty hand and stretched-out arm. Pharaoh did, with most great and intolerable labours and burdens, oppress and bring under the poor Israelites; and yet did the courtiers undoubtedly noise abroad, that the king was merciful unto them, to suffer them to live in the land, and to set them awork, that they might get them their livings. If he should thrust them out of his land, whither should they go, like a sort of vagabonds and runagates? This title and name of mercy would that tyrant have, and so did his flattering false courtiers spread his vain praise abroad. Have not we the like examples now-a-days? Oh that I had now time to write certain things pertaining to our Winchester's mercy! How merciful he hath been to me and to my good brethren I will not speak of, neither yet unto the duke of Suffolk's most innocent daughter, and to her as innocent husband. For, although their fathers were faulty, yet had their youth and lack of experience deserved a pardon by all true merciful men's judgments. Oh that I had time to paint out this matter aright! but there be many alive that can do it much better when I am dead. Pharaoh had his plagues, and his most flourishing land was, by counterfeit mercy, which was indeed right cruelty and abominable tyranny, utterly destroyed. And think ye that this bloody, butcherly bishop of Winchester, and his most bloody brethren, shall escape? or that England shall, for their offences, and specially for the maintenance of their idolatry, and wilful following of them, not abide as great a brunt?-- Yes, undoubtedly.

            "If God look not mercifully upon England, the seeds of utter destruction are sown in it already, by these hypocritical tyrants, and antichristian prelates, popish papists, and double traitors to their natural country. And yet they speak of mercy, of blessing, of the catholic church, of unity, of power, and strengthening of the realm. This double dissimulation will show itself one day, when the plague cometh, which will undoubtedly light upon those crown-shorn captains, and that shortly; howsoever the godly and the poor realm suffer in the mean while, by God's good sufferance and will.

            "Spite of Nebuchadnezzar's beard, and maugre his heart, the captive, thralled, and miserable Jews must come home again, and have their city and temple builded up again by Zerubbabel, Esdras, and Nehemiah, &c. And the whole kingdom of Babylon must go to ruin, and be taken in of strangers, the Persians and the Medes. So shall the dispersed English flock of Christ be brought again into their former estate, or to a better, I trust in the Lord God, than it was in innocent King Edward's days; and our bloody Babylonical bishops, and the whole crown-shorn company, brought to utter shame,rebuke, ruin, decay, and destruction. For God cannot, and undoubtedly will not, suffer for ever their abominable lying false doctrine; their hypocrisy, bloodthirst, whoredom, idleness; their pestilent life, pampered in all kind of pleasure; their thrasonical boasting pride; their malicious, envious, and poisoned stomachs, which they bear towards his poor miserable Christians. Peter truly warneth, that, If judgment beginneth at the house of God, what shall be the end of them, that believe not the gospel? If the righteous shall scant be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinful appear? Some shall have their punishment here in this world, and in the world to come; and they that do escape in this world, shall not escape everlasting damnation. This shall be your sauce, O ye wicked papists; make ye merry here, as long as ye may!"

            After that John Rogers, as ye have heard, had been long and straitly imprisoned, lodged in Newgate amongst thieves, often examined, and very uncharitably entreated, and at length unjustly and most cruelly by wicked Winchester condemned: the fourth of February, A. D. 1555, being Monday in the morning, he was warned suddenly, by the keeper's wife of Newgate, to prepare himself to the fire; who, being then found asleep, scarce with much shogging could be awaked. At length being raised and waked, and bid to make haste, "Then," said he, "if it be so, I need not tie my points "and so was had down first to Bonner to be degraded. That done, he craved of Bonner but one petition. And Bonner asking what that should be: "Nothing," said he, "but that I might talk a few words with my wife before my burning." But that could not be obtained of him. "Then," said he, "you declare your charity, what it is." And so he was brought into Smithfield by Master Chester and Master Woodroofe, then sheriffs of London, there to be burnt; where he showed most constant patience, not using many words, for he could not be permitted; but only exhorting the people constantly to remain in that faith and true doctrine which he before had taught, and they had learned, and for the confirmation whereof he was not only content patiently to suffer and bear all such bitterness and cruelty as had been showed him, but also most gladly to resign up his life, and to give his flesh to the consuming fire, for the testimony of the same.

            Briefly, and in few words, to comprehend the whole order of his life, doings, and martyrdom: first, this godly Master Rogers was committed to prison, as is above said, and there continued a year and a half. In prison he was merry, and earnest in all he went about. He wrote much; his examinations he penned with his own hand, which else had never come to light: wherein is to be noted, by the way, a memorable working of God's providence. Ye heard a little above, how Master Rogers craved of Bonner, going to his burning, that he might speak a few words before with his wife; which could not be granted. What these words were, which he had to say to his wife, it is for no man certainly to define. Likewise it may be supposed that his purpose was, amongst other things, to signify unto her of the book written of his examinations and answers, which he had privily hid in a secret corner of the prison where he lay. But where man's power lacketh, see how God's providence worketh. For notwithstanding that during the time of his imprisonment, strait search there was to take away his letters and writings; yet, after his death, his wife and one of her sons, called Daniel, coming into the place where he lay, to seek for his books and writings, and now ready to go away, it chanced her son aforenamed, casting his eye aside, to spy a black thing (for it had a black cover, belike because it should not be known) lying in a blind corner under a pair of stairs; who, willing his mother to see what it was, found it to be the book written with his own hand, containing these his examinations and answers, with other matter above specified. In the latter end whereof was also contained, that which concerneth a prophetical forewarning of things pertaining to the church, and which, in the same his words as they be there written, may be seen in the end of his Admonitions, Sayings, and Prophesyings.

            Furthermore, amongst other words and sayings, which may seem prophetically to be spoken of him, this also may be added, and is notoriously to be marked, that he spake, being then in prison, to the printer of this present book, who then also was laid up for like cause of religion "Thou," said he, "shalt live to see the alteration of this religion, and the gospel to be freely preached again: and therefore have me commended to my brethren, as well in exile as others, and bid them be circumspect in displacing the papists, and putting good ministers into churches; or else their end will be worse than ours." And for lack of good ministers to furnish churches, his device was, (Master Hooper also agreeing to the same,) that for every ten churches some one good and learned superintendent should be appointed, which should have under him faithful readers, such as might well be got; so that popish priests should clean be put out, and the bishop once a year to oversee the profiting of the parishes. And if the minister did not his duty, as well in profiting himself in his book, and his parishioners in good in-structions, so that they may be trained by little and little to give a reckoning how they do profit, then he to be expelled, and another put in his place; and the bishop to do the like with the superintendent. This was his counsel and request: showing moreover, and protesting in his commendations to his brethren by the printer aforesaid, that if they would not so do, their end, he said, would be worse than theirs.

            Over and besides divers things touching Master Rogers, this is not to be forgotten, how in the days of King Edward the Sixth, there was a controversy among the bishops and clergy, for wearing of priests' caps, and other attire belonging to that order. Master Rogers, being one of that number which never went otherwise than in a round cap, during all the time of King Edward, affirmed that he would not agree to that decreement of uniformity, but upon this condition: that if they would needs have such a uniformity of wearing the cap, tippet, &c., then it should also be decreed withal, that the papists, for a difference betwixt them and others, should be constrained to wear upon their sleeves a chalice with a host upon it. Whereupon if they would consent, he would agree to the other: otherwise he would not, he said, consent to the setting forth of the same, nor ever wear the cap; as indeed he never did.

            To proceed now further in describing the doings of this man, during the time while he remained prisoner in Newgate, he was to the prisoners beneficial and liberal; for whom he had thus devised: that he with his fellows should have but one meal a day, they paying notwithstanding for the charges of the whole; the other meal should be given to them that lacked on the other side of the prison. But Alexander Andrew, their keeper, a strait man, and a right Alexander, a coppersmith indeed, of whose doing more shall be said, God willing, hereafter, would in no case suffer that.

            The Sunday before he suffered, he drank to Master Hooper, being then underneath him, and bade them commend him unto him, and tell him, "There was never little fellow better would stick to a man, than he would stick to him; "presupposing they should both be burned together, although it happened otherwise; for Master Rogers was burnt alone. And thus much briefly concerning the life and such acts of Master Rogers, as I thought worthy noting.

Illustration -- John Rogers Burnt at the Stake

            Now when the time came, that he, being delivered to the sheriffs, should be brought out of Newgate to Smithfield, the place of his execution, first came to him Master Woodroofe, one of the aforesaid sheriffs, and calling Master Rogers unto him, asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine, and his evil opinion of the sacrament of the altar. Master Rogers answered and said, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." "Then," quoth Master Woodroofe, "thou art a heretic." "That shall be known," quoth Rogers, "at the day of judgment." "Well," quoth Master Woodroofe, "I will never pray for thee." "But I will pray for you," quoth Master Rogers: and so was brought the same day, which was Monday the fourth of February, by the sheriffs towards Smithfield, saying the psalm Miserere by the way, all the people wonderfully rejoicing at his constancy, with great praises and thanks to God for the same. And there, in the presence of Master Rochester, comptroller of the queen's household, Sir Richard South well, both the sheriffs, and a wonderful number of people, 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 in 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. A little before his burning at the stake, his pardon was brought, if he would have recanted, but he utterly refused. He was the first protomartyr of all the blessed company that suffered in Queen Mary's time, that gave the first adventure upon the fire. His wife and children, being eleven in number, and ten able to go, and one sucking on her breast, met him by the way as he went towards Smithfield. This sorrowful sight of his own flesh and blood could nothing move him; but that he constantly and cheerfully took his death, with wonderful patience, in the defence and quarrel of Christ's gospel.

 

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