Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 431. FOREIGN EXAMPLES OF PERSECUTORS PLAGUED BY GOD'S HAND.

431. FOREIGN EXAMPLES OF PERSECUTORS PLAGUED BY GOD'S HAND.

            Wherefore to pass over our own domestical examples of English persecutors plagued by God's hand,(wherewith this our present story doth abound,) I will stretch my pen a little further, to adjoin withal a few like examples in foreign countries.

            Hoimeister, the great arch-papist, and chief master-pillar of the pope's falling church, as he was in his journey going toward the council of Ratisbon, to dispute against the defenders of Christ's gospel, suddenly in his journey, not far from Ulm, was prevented by the stroke of God's hand; and there miserably died, with horrible roaring and crying out.

            What a pernicious and pestilent doctrine is this of the papists, which leadeth men to seek their salvation by merits and works of the law, and not by faith only in Christ the Son of God, and so to stay themselves by grace! And what inconvenience this doctrine of doubting and desperation bringeth men to at length, if the plain word of God will not suffuciently admonish us, yet let us be warned by examples of such as have been either teachers or followers of this doctrine, and consider well what end commonly it hath and doth bring men unto. To recite all that may be said in this behalf, it were infinite. To note a few examples for admonition's sake, it shall be requisite.

            In the university of Louvain was one named Guarlacus, a learned man, brought up in that school, who at length was reader of divinity to the monks of St. Gertrude's order; where, after he had stoutly maintained the corrupt errors of such popish doctrine, at last falling sick, when he perceived no way with him but death, he fell into a miserable agony and perturbation of spirit, crying out of his sins, how wickedly he had lived, and that he was not able to abide the judgment of God; and so, casting out words of miserable desperation, said, his sins were greater than that he could be pardoned; and in that desperation wretchedly he ended his life.

            Another like example we have of Arnoldus Bomelius, a young man of the said university of Louvain, well commended for his fresh flourishing wit and ripeness of learning, who, so long as he favoured the cause of the gospel, and took part with the same against the enemies of the truth, he prospered and went well forward; but after that he drew to the company of Tyleman, master of the pope's college in Louvain, and framed himself after the rule of his unsavoury doctrine, that is, to stand in fear and doubt of his justification, and to work his salvation by merits and deeds of the law, he began more and more to grow in doubtful despair and discomfort of mind; as the nature of that doctrine is, utterly to pluck away a man's mind from all certainty and true liberty of spirit, to a servile doubtfulness, full of discomfort and bondage of soul.

            Thus the young man, seduced and perverted through this blind doctrine of ignorance and dubitation, fell into a great agony of mind, wandering and wrestling in himself a long space, till at length, being overcome with despair, and not having in the popish doctrine wherewith to raise up his soul, he went out of the city on a time to walk, accompanied with three other students of the same university, his special familiars; who as they returned home again after their walk, Arnoldus for weariness, as it seemed, sat down by a spring side to rest him awhile. The others, supposing none other but that he for weariness there rested to refresh himself, went forward a little past him. In the mean time what doth Arnoldus, but suddenly taketh out his dagger, and struck himself into the body,

            His fellows, seeing him shrinking down, and the fountain to be all coloured with the blood which issued out of the wound, came running to him to take him up; and so searching his body where the wound should be, at length found what he had done, and how he had stricken himself with his dagger into the breast. Whereupon they took him and brought him into a house next at hand, and there exhorted him, as well as they could, to repent his fact; who then, by outward gesture, seemed to give some show of repentance. Notwithstanding, the said Arnoldus, espying one of his friends there busy about him to have a knife hanging at his girdle, violently plucked out the knife, and with main force stabbed himself to the heart.

            By these Louvanian examples, as we have all to learn, no man to be sure of his life, but that he always needeth to crave and call unto the Lord to bless him with his truth and grace; so especially would I wish our English Louvanians, which now make forts in that university against the open truth of Christ's gospel, to be wise in time, and not to spurn so against the prick.

            Or if they think yet these examples not enough for sufficient admonition, let them join hereunto the remembrance also of James Latomus, a chief and principal captain of the same university of Louvain; who, after he had been at Brussels, and there, thinking to do a great act against Luther and his fellows, made an oration before the emperor so foolishly and ridiculously, that he was laughed to scorn almost of the whole court: then, returning from thence to Louvain again, in his public lecture he fell in an open fury and madness, uttering such words of desperation and blasphemous impiety, that the other divines which were there, and namely, Ruardus Anchusianus, were fain to carry him away, as he was raving, and so shut him into a close chamber. From that time unto his last breath, Latomus had never any thing else in his mouth, but that he was damned, and rejected of God, and that there was no hope of salvation for him, because that wittingly, and against his knowledge, he withstood the manifest truth of his word.

            Thus Almighty God, not only by his word, but by examples in divers and sundry wise, doth warn us, first to seek to know the perfect will and decree of the Lord our God, appointed in his word. The perfect will and full testament of the Lord in his word, is this, that he hath sent and given his only Son unto us, being fully contented to accept our faith only upon him for our perfect justification and full satisfaction for all our transgressions; and this is called in Scripture, justitia Dei. To this will and righteousness of God, they that humble themselves, find such peace and rest in their souls, as no man is able to express, and have strength enough against all the invasions and temptations of Satan. Contrariwise, they that will not yield their obedience unto the will and ordinance of God expressed in his word, but will seek their own righteousness, which is of man, labouring by their merits and satisfaction to serve and please God; these not only do find with God no righteousness at all, but, instead of his favour, procure to themselves his horrible indignation; instead of comfort, heap to themselves desperation; and in the end what inconvenience they come to, by these above-recited examples of Guarlacus, Bomelius, and Latomus, it is evident to see. And out of this fountain spring not only the punishments of these men, but also all other inconveniences, which happen amongst men, wheresoever this pernicious and erroneous doctrine of the papists taketh place.

            A Dominic friar of Munster, as he was inveighing in the pulpit against the doctrine of the gospel then springing up, was struck with a sudden flash of lightning, and so ended his life.

            Manlius, in his book, De Dictis Philippi Melancthonis, maketh mention of a certain tailor's servant in Leipsic, who, receiving first the sacrament in both kinds with the gospellers, afterward, being persuaded by the papists, received with them under one kind. Whereupon, being admonished of his master to come to the communion again in the church of the gospellers, he stood a great while, and made no answer. At last, crying out upon a sudden, he ran to the window thereby, and so cast himself out, and brake his neck.

            In the same Manlius mention is also made of a certain gentleman of name and authority, but he nameth him not, who bearing these words in a song, "Our only hold or fortress is our God," answered and said, "I will help to shoot against thy stay or fort; or else I will not live." And so, within three days after, he died without repentance, or confessing his faith.

            Of Sadolet, the learned cardinal, likewise, it is reported of some, that he died not without great torments of conscience and desperation.

            The commendator of St. Anthony, who sat as spiritual judge over that godly learned man, Wolfgangus, burnt in Lorraine, in Germany, and gave sentence of his condemnation, fell suddenly dead shortly after. Read before.

            Also his fellow, the abbot of Clarilocus, and suffragan to the bishop of Mentz, at the crack of guns, suddenly fell down and died.

            David Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews in Scotland, shortly after the condemning of Master George Wisehart, how he by the just stroke of God was slain, and wretched ended his life within his own castle, in the discourse of his story is evident to see, whoso listeth further to read of that matter.

            John Sleidan, in his 23d book, maketh relation of Cardinal Crescentius, the chief president and moderator of the council of Trent, anno 1552. The story of whom is certain, the thing that happened to him was strange and notable, the example of him may be profitable to others, such as have grace to be warned by other men's evils. The narration is this.

            The twenty-fifth day of March, in the year aforesaid, Crescentius, the pope's legate and vicegerent in the council of Trent, was sitting all the day long until dark night, in writing letters to the pope.

            After his labour, when night was come, thinking to refresh himself, he began to rise; and at his rising, behold there appeared to him a mighty black dog, of a huge bigness, his eyes flaming with fire, and his ears hanging low down well near to the ground, to enter in, and straight to come toward him, and so to couch under the board. The cardinal, not a little amazed at the sight thereof, somewhat recovering himself, called to his servants, who were in the outward chamber next by, to bring in a candle, and to seek for the dog. But when the dog could not be found, neither there, nor in any other chamber about, the cardinal, thereupon stricken with a sudden conceit of mind, immediately fell into such a sickness, whereof his physicians, which he had about him, with all their industry and cunning could not cure him. And so in the town of Verona died this popish cardinal, the pope's holy legate, and president of this council; wherein his purpose was, (as Sleidan saith,) to recover and heal again the whole authority and doctrine of the Romish see, and to set it up for ever.

            There were in this council, besides the pope's legates and cardinal of Trent, twenty-four bishops, doctors of divinity sixty-two. And thus was the end of that popish council, by the provident hand of the Almighty, despatched and brought to nought.

            This council of Trent, being then dissolved by the death of his cardinal, was afterward, notwithstanding, re-collected again about the year of our Lord 1562; against the erroneous proceedings of which council, other writers there be that say enough. So much as pertaineth only to story, I thought hereunto to add, concerning two filthy adulterous bishops to the said council belonging, of whom the one, haunting to an honest man's wife, was slain by the just stroke of God, with a boar-spear. The other bishop, whose haunt was to creep through a window, in the same window was subtlely taken, and hanged in a gin laid for him of purpose; and so conveyed, that in the morning he was seen openly in the street hanging out of the window, to the wonderment of all that passed by.

            Amongst all the religious orders of papists, who was a stouter defender of the pope's side, or a more vehement impugner of Martin Luther, than John Eckius; who, if his cause wherein he so travailed had been godly, had deserved (no doubt) great favour and condign retribution at the hands of the Lord. Now, forasmuch as we cannot better judge of him than by his end, let us consider the manner of his departing hence, and compare the same with the end of Master Luther.

            In the which Master Luther, being such an adversary as he was to the pope, and having no less than all the world upon him at once, first, this is to be noted; that after all these travails, the Lord gave him to depart both in great age, and in his own native country where he was born. Secondly, he blessed him with such a quiet death, without any violent hand of any adversary, that it was counted rather a sleep than a death. Thirdly, as the death of his body was mild, so his spirit and mind continued no less godly unto the end, continually invocating and calling upon the name of the Lord; and so commending his spirit to him with fervent prayer, he made a blessed and a heavenly ending. Fourthly, over and besides these blessings, Almighty God did also add unto him such an honourable burial, as to many great princes scarce happeneth the like. And this briefly concerning the end of Martin Luther, as ye may read before more at large.

            Now let us consider, and confer with this, the death of John Eckius, and the manner thereof, which we find in the English translation of the history of John Carion, folio 250, in these words expressed. "This year," saith he, "died at Ingoldstadt, Dr. Eckius, a faithful servant and champion of the pope, and a defender of the abominable papacy. But as his life was full of all ungodliness, uncleanness, and blasphemy; so was his end miserable, hard, and pitiful, insomuch that his last words (as it is noted of many credible persons) were these: 'in case the four thousand guilders were ready, the matter were despatched,' &c. (dreaming belike of some cardinalship that he should have bought). Some say that the pope had granted him a certain deanery, which he should have redeemed from the court of Rome with the foresaid sum." Now what a heavenly end this was of Master Eckius, I leave it to the reader's judgment.

            In the city of Antwerp was (as they term him there) a shoulted, (that is to say, the next officer to the margrave,) one named John Vander Warfe, bastard son of a stock or kindred called Warfe, of good estimation amongst the chiefest in Antwerp; who, as he was of nature cruel, so was he of judgment perverse and corrupt, and a sore persecutor of Christ's flock, with greediness seeking and shedding innocent blood; and had drowned divers good men and women in the water, for the which he was much commended of the bloody generation. Of some he was called a blood-hound or bloody dog. Of other he was called shilpad, that is to say, shelt-toad; for that he, being a short grundy, and of little stature, did ride commonly with a great broad hat, as a churl of the country. This man, after he was weary of his office, (wherein he had continued above twenty years,) he gave it over; and because he was now grown rich and wealthy, he intended to pass the residue of his life in pleasure and quietness. During which time, about the second year after he had left his office, he came to Antwerp, to the feast called our Lady's Oumegang, to make merry; which feast is usually kept on the Sunday following the Assumption of our Lady. The same day in the afternoon, about four of the clock, he being well laden with wine, rode homewards in his waggon, with his wife, and a gentlewoman waiting on her, and his fool. As soon as the waggon was come without the gate of the city, called Cronenberg-gate, upon the wooden bridge, being at that time made for a shift with rails or barriers on both sides for more surety of the passengers, (half a man's height and more,) the horses stood still, and would by no means go forward, whatsoever the guider of the waggon could do.

            Then he, in a drunken rage, cried out to him that guided the waggon, saying, "Ride on, in a thousand devils' names; ride on!" Whereat the poor man answered, that he could not make the horses to go forward. By and by, while they were yet thus talking, suddenly rose, as it were, a mighty whirlwind, with a terrible noise, (the weather being very fair, and no wind stirring before,) and tossed the waggon over the bar into the town ditch, the ropes whereat the horses had been tied, being broken asunder in such sort, as if they had been cut with a sharp knife; the waggon also being cast upside down, with the fore end thereof turned toward the town again, and he drowned in the mire: and when he was taken up, it was found that his neck also was broken. His wife was taken up alive, but died also within three days after. But the gentlewoman and the fool, by God's mighty providence, were preserved and had no harm. The fool, hearing the people say his master was dead, said, "And was not I dead? was not I dead too?" This was done, anno 1553.-- Witness hereof not only the printer of the same story in Dutch, dwelling then in Antwerp, whose name was Francis Fraet, a good man, and afterward for hatred put to death of papists, but also divers Dutchmen here now in England, and a great number of English merchants, which then were at Antwerp, and are yet alive.

            Of the sudden death of Bartholomew Chassanees, or Chassanus, persecutor, read before.

            Of Minerius, the bloody persecutor, or rather tormenter of Christ's saints, how he died with bleeding in his lower parts, ye heard before.

            And what should I speak of the judge which accompanied the said Minerius in his persecution, who, a little after, as he returned homeward, was drowned; and three more of the same company killed one another, upon a strife that fell amongst them?

            Johannes de Roma, a cruel monk, whom we may rather call a hell-hound than persecutor, what hellish torments he had devised for the poor Christians of Angrogne, the contents of the story before doth express. Again, with what like torments afterward, and that double-fold, the Lord paid him home again, who, in his rotting and stinking death neither could find any enemy to kill him, nor any friend to bury him; who neither could abide his own stinking carrion, nor could any man else abide to come near him. Hereof read also before.

            Such a like persecutor also the same time was the lord of Revest, who likewise escaped not the revenging hand of God's justice, being stricken, after his furious persecution, with a like horrible sickness, and such a fury and madness, that none durst come near him, and so most wretchedly died whereof read before.

            Touching the like grievous punishment of God upon one John Martin, a persecutor, read before.

            Erasmus, in an Epistle, or Apology, written in defence of his Colloquies, inferreth mention of a certain noble person of great riches and possessions, who, having wife and children, with a great family at home, (to whom, by St. Paul's rule, he was bound in conscience principally above all other worldly things to attend,) had purposed before his death to go see Jerusalem. And thus all things being set in order, this nobleman, about to set forward on his journey, committed the care of his wife, (whom he had left great with child,) and of his lordships and castles, to an archbishop, as to a most sure and trusty father. To make short, it happened in the journey this nobleman to die; whereof so soon as the archbishop had intelligence, instead of a father, he became a thief and a robber, seizing into his own hands all his lordships and possessions. And moreover, not yet contented with all this, he laid siege against a strong fort of his, (unto the which his wife, for safeguard of herself, did flee,) where, in conclusion, she, with the child that she went withal, was pitifully slain, and so miserably perished. Which story was done (as testifieth Erasmus) not so long before his time, but that there remained the nephews of the nobleman then alive, to whom the same inheritance should have fallen, but they could not obtain it.

            What cometh of blind superstition, when a man, not containing himself within the compass of God's word, wandereth in other by-ways of his own, and not contented with the religion set up of the Lord, will bind his conscience to other ordinances, prescriptions, and religions devised by men, leaving God's commandments undone for the constitutions and precepts of men, what end and reward (I say) cometh thereof at length, by this one example, beside infinite others of the like sort, men may learn by experience: and therefore they that yet will defend idolatrous pilgrimage and rash vows, let them well consider hereof. It is rightly said of St. Jerome, "To have been at Jerusalem is no great matter; but to live a godly and virtuous life, that is a great matter in very deed."

            In the year of our Lord 1565, there was in the town of Ghent in Flanders, one William de Wever, accused and imprisoned by the provost of St. Peter's in Ghent (who had in his cloister a prison and a place of execution); and the day when the said William was called to the place of judgment, the provost sent for Master Giles Brackleman, principal advocate of the council of Flanders, and borough-master and judge of St. Peter's in Ghent, with other of the rulers of the town of Ghent, to sit in judgment upon him; and as they sat in judgment, the boroughmaster, named Master Giles Brackleman, reasoned with the said William de Wever upon divers articles of his faith. The one whereof was, why the said William de Wever denied that it was lawful to pray to saints: and he answered, (as the report goeth,) for three causes. The one was, that they were but creatures, and not the Creator. The second was, that if he should call upon them, the Lord did both see it, and hear it; and therefore he durst give the glory to none other, but to God. The third and chiefest cause was, that the Creator had commanded in his holy word to call upon him in troubles, unto which commandment he durst neither add nor take from it.

            The boroughmaster, Master Giles Brackleman, also demanded, whether he did not believe that there was a purgatory which he should go into after this life, where every one should be purified and cleansed. He answered, that he had read over the whole Bible, and could find no such place, but the death of Christ was his purgatory: with many other questions proceeding after their order, until he came to pronounce his condemnation. But ere the said condemnation was read forth, the judgment of God was laid upon the said boroughmaster, who suddenly at that present instant was struck with a palsy, that his mouth was drawn up almost to his ear; and so he fell down, the rest of the lords by and by standing up and shadowing him, that the people could not well see him; and also the people were willed to depart, who, being still called upon to depart, answered, the place was so small to go out, that they could go no faster. Then the borough-master of the town, being taken up, was carried to his house, and it is not yet understood, nor commonly known, that ever he spake word after he was first struck, but was openly known to be dead the next day following. And yet, notwithstanding that this was done about ten of the clock, they burnt the said William de Weyer within three hours after, on the same day.

            The fourth day of March, 1566, the like example of the Lord's terrible judgment was showed upon Sir Garret Triest, knight, who had long before promised to the regent to bring down the preaching: for the which act, (as the report goeth,) the regent promised again to make him a 'grave, which is an earl. Of the which Sir Garret it is also said, that he, coming from Brussels towards Ghent, brought with him the death of the preachers; and being come to Ghent, the said Sir Garret with other of the lords having received from the regent a commission to swear the lords and commons unto the Romish religion, the said Sir Garret, the fourth day of March above noted, at night being at supper, willed the lady his wife to call him in the morning, one hour sooner than be was accustomed to rise, for that he should the next day have much business to do in the town-house, to swear the lords and people to the Romish religion. But see what happened. The said Sir Garret, going to bed in good health, (as it seemed,) when the lady his wife called him in the morning, according to his appointment, was found dead in the bed by her, and so unable to prosecute his wicked purpose.

            The fifth of March, 1556, which was the day that Sir Garret Triest appointed to be there, and the lords of Ghent were come into the town-house, (as they had afore appointed,) to proceed and to give the oath, according as they had their commission, and Master Martin de Pester, the secretary, being appointed and about to give the oath, as the first man should have sworn, the said Martin de Pester was struck of God with present death likewise, and fell down, and was carried away in a chair or settle, and never spake after. Witnesses hereof: Peter de Bellemaker, Abraham Rossart, Maerke de Mil, Liven Hendrickx, Jahn Coucke, Rogeyr Van Hulle, Joys Neuehans, Lyavin Neuehens, William Vanden Boegarde, and Joys de Pytte.

            About the borders of Suabia in Germany, not far from the city of Uberlingen, there was a certain monastery of Cistercian monks called Salmesville, founded in the days of Pope Innocent the Second, by a noble baron named Guntherame, about the year of our Lord 1130. This cell thus being erected, in process of time was enlarged with more ample possessions, finding many and great benefactors and endowers liberally contributing unto the same; as emperors, dukes, and rich barons. Amongst whom most especial were the earls of Montfort, who had bestowed upon that monastery many new liberties and great privileges, upon this condition, that they should receive with free hospitality any stranger, both horseman or footman, for one night's lodging, whosoever came. But this hospitality did not long so continue, through a subtle and devilish device of one of the monks, who took upon him to counterfeit to play the part of the devil, rattling and raging in his chains, where the strangers should lie, after a terrible manner in the night-time, to fray away the guests; by reason whereof no stranger nor traveller durst there abide; and so continued this a long space.

            At length (as God would) it so happened, that one of the earls of the said house of Montfort, benefactors to that abbey, coming to the monastery, was there lodged, whether of set purpose, or by chance, it is not known. When the night came, and the earl was at his rest, the monk after his wonted manner beginneth his pageant, to play the tame, yea, rather the wild devil. There was stamping, ramping, spitting of fire, roaring, thundering, bouncing of boards, and rattling of chains, enough to make some men stark mad. The earl, hearing the sudden noise, and being somewhat, peradventure, afraid at the first, although he had not then the feat of conjuring, yet taking a good heart unto him, and running to his sword, he laid about him well favouredly, and following still the noise of the devil, so conjured him at last, that the monk which counterfeited the devil in jest, was slain, in his own likeness, in earnest.

            After the imprisonment of the congregation, which were taken hearing God's word in St. James's Street in Paris, anno 1558, (as is above storied,) was a letter written to the king, which was divulgate abroad, proving and declaring by divers histories, what afflictions and calamities from time to time, by God's righteous judgment, have fallen upon such as have been enemies to his people, and have resisted the free passage of his holy word. In which letter, forasmuch as besides the said examples much other good fruitful matter is contained, worthy of all men to be read, and especially of princes to be considered, I thought good here to copy out the whole, as the French book doth give it; the translation of the which letter into English, is after this tenor, as followeth.

            "Consider, I pray you, sir, and you shall find that all your afflictions have come upon you, since you have set yourself against those which are called Lutherans. When you made the edict of Chateau-Briant, God sent you wars; but when you ceased the execution of your said edict, and as long as ye were enemy unto the pope, and going into Almany for the defence of the Germans afflicted for religion, you affairs prospered as ye would wish or desire. On the contrary, what hath become upon you since you were joined with the pope again, having received a sword from him for his own safeguard, and who was it that caused you to break the truce? God hath turned in a moment your prosperities into such afflictions, that they touch not only the state of your own peison, but of your kingdom also. To what end became the enterprise of the duke of Guise in Italy, going about the service of the enemy of God, and purposing after his return to destroy the valleys of Piedmont, to offer or sacrifice them to God for his victories? The event hath well declared, that God can turn upside down our counsels and enterprises; as he overturned of late the enterprise of the constable of France at St. Quintin's; having vowed to God, that at his return he would go and destroy Geneva, when he had gotten the victory. Have you not heard of L. Ponchet, archbishop of Tours, who made suit for the erection of a court called Chamber-Ardent, wherein to condemn the protestants to the fire? who afterwards was stricken with a disease, called the fire of God, which began at his feet, and so ascended upward, that one member after another had to be cut off, and so died miserably without any remedy. Also one Castellane, who having enriched himself by the gospel, and forsaking the pure doctrine thereof to return unto his vomit again, went about to persecute the Christians at Orleans, and by the hand of God was stricken in his body with a sickness unknown to the physicians, the one half of his body burning as hot as fire, and the other as cold as ice; and so most miserably crying and lamenting, ended his life.

            "There be other infinite examples of God's judgments worthy to be remembered; as the death of the chancellor and legate Du Prat, which was the first that opened to the parliament the knowledge of heresies, and gave out the first commissions to put the faithful to death, who afterwards died at his house at Natoillet, swearing and horribly blaspheming God, and his stomach was found pierced and gnawn asunder with worms. Also John Ruse, councillor in the parliament, coming from the court, after he had made report of the process against the poor innocents, was taken with a burning in the lower part of his belly, and, before he could be brought home to his house, the fever invaded all his inward parts; and so he died miserably, without any sign or token of the acknowledging of God. Also one named Claude de Asses, a councillor in the said court, the same day that he gave his opinion and consent to burn a faithful Christian, (albeit it was not done in deed as he would have it,) after he had dined, committed whoredom with a servant in the house, and even in doing the act he was stricken with a disease called apoplexy, whereof he died out of hand. Peter Liset, chief president of the said court, and one of the authors of the foresaid burning chamber, was deposed from his office, for being known to be out of his right wit, and bereaved of his understanding. Also John Morin, lieutenant-criminal of the provost of Paris, after he had been the cause of the death of many Christians, was finally stricken with a disease in his legs, called the wolves, whereby he lost the use of them, and died also out of his wits, many days before denying and blaspheming God. Likewise John Andrew, bookbinder of the palace, a spy for the President Liset and of Bruseard the king's solicitor, died in a fury and madness. The inquisitor, John de Roma, in Provence, his flesh fell from him by piecemeal, so stinking that no man might come near him. Also John Minerius of Provence, who was the cause of the death of a great number of men, women, and children, at Cabriers and at Merindol, died with bleeding in the lower parts, the fire having taken his belly, blaspheming and despising God: besides many others whereof we might make recital, which were punished with the like kind of death.

            "It may please your Majesty to remember yourself, that ye had no sooner determined to set upon us, but new troubles were by and by moved by your enemies, with whom ye could come to no agreement; which God would not suffer, forasmuch as your peace was grounded upon the persecution which ye pretended against God's servants: as also your cardinals cannot let through their cruelty the course of the gospel, which hath taken such root in your realm, that if God should give you leave to destroy the professors thereof, you should be almost a king without subjects.

            "Tertullian hath well said, that 'the blood of martyrs is the seed of the gospel.' Wherefore, to take away all these evils coming of the riches of the papists, which cause so much whoredom, sodomitry, and incest, wherein they wallow like hogs, feeding their idle bellies, the best way were to put them from their lands and possessions, as the old sacrificing Levites were, according to the express commandment which was given to Joshua: for as long as the ordinances of God took place, and that they were void of ambition, the purity of religion remained whole and perfect; but when they began to aspire to principalities, riches, and worldly honours, then began the abomination of desolation that Christ foretold.

            "It was even so in the primitive church, for it flourished and continued in all pureness as long as the ministers were of small wealth, and sought not their particular proflt, but the glory of God only. But since the pope began to be princelike, and to usurp the dominion of the empire under the colour of a false donation of Constantine, they have turned the Scriptures from their true sense, and have attributed the service to themselves, which we owe to God. Wherefore your Majesty may seize with good right upon all the temporalties of the benefices, and that with a safe conscience, to employ them to their true and right use.

            "First, for the finding and maintaining of the faithful ministers of the word of God, for such livings as shall be requisite for them, according as the case shall require. Secondly, for the entertainment of your justices that give judgment. Thirdly, for the relieving of the poor, and maintenance of colleges to instruct the poor youth in that which they shall be most apt unto. And the rest, which is infinite, may remain for entertainment of your own estate and affairs, to the great easement of your poor people, which alone bear the burden, and possess in manner nothing.

            "In this doing, an infinite number of men, and even of your nobility, which live of the crucifix, should employ themselves to your service and the commonwealth's so much the more diligently, as they see that ye recompense none but those that have deserved; whereas now there is an infinite number of men in your kingdom, which occupy the chiefest and greatest benefices, which never deserved any part of them," &c. And thus much touching the superfluous possession of the pope's lordly clergy. Now proceeding further in this exhortation to the king, thus the letter importeth:

            "But when the papists see that they have not to allege for themselves any reason, they essay to make odious to your Majesty the Lutherans, (as they call us,) and say: 'If their sayings take place, ye shall be fain to remain a private person; and that there is never change of religion, but there is also change of princedom.' A thing as false as when they accuse us to be sacramentaries, and that we deny the authority of magistrates, under the shadow of certain furious Anabaptists, which Satan hath raised in our time, to darken the light of the gospel. For the histories of the emperors which have begun to receive the Christian religion, and that which is come to pass in our time, show the contrary.

            "Was there ever prince more feared and obeyed, than Constantine in receiving the Christian religion? was he therefore put from the empire? No, he was thereby the more confirmed and established in the same, and also his posterity which ruled them selves by his providence. But such as have fallen away, and followed men's traditions, God hath destroyed, and their race is no more known in earth: so much doth God detest them that forsake him.

            "And in our time the late kings of England and Germany, were they constrained, in reproving superstitions which the wickedness of the time had brought in, to forsake their kingdoms and princedoms? All men see the contrary; and what honour, fidelity, and obedience the people in our time that have received the reformation of the gospel, do, nnder their princes and superiors. Yea, I may say, that the princes knew not before what it was to be obeyed at that time when the rude and ignorant people received so readily the dispensations of the pope, to drive out their own kings and natural lords.

            "The true and only remedy, sir, is, that ye cause to be holden a holy and free council, where ye should be chief, and not the pope and his, who ought but only to defend their causes by the Holy Scriptures; that in the mean while ye may seek out men not corrupted, suspected, nor partial, whom ye may charge to give report faithfully unto you, of the true sense of Holy Scriptures. And this done, after the example of the good kings, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josias, ye shall take out of the church all idolatry, superstition, and abuse, which is found directly contrary to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; and by that means ye shall guide your people in the true and pure service of God, not regarding in the mean time the cavilling pretences of the papists, which say that any such questions have been already answered at general councils: for it is known well enough, that no council hath been lawful since the popes have usurped the principality and tyranny upon men's souls; but they have made them serve to their covetousness, ambition, and cruelty; and the contrariety which is among those councils, maketh enough for their disproof, besides a hundred thousand other absurdities against the word of God, which be in them. The true proof for such matters, is in the true and Holy Scriptures, to the which no times nor age hath any prescription to be alleged against them; for by them we received the councils founded upon the word of God, and also by the same we reject that doctrine which is repugnant.

            "And if ye do thus, sir, God will bless your enterprise; he will increase and confirm your reign and empire, and your posterity. If otherwise, destruction is at your gate, and unhappy are the people which shall dwell under your obedience. There is no doubt but God will harden your heart, as he did Pharaoh's, and take off the crown from your head, as he did to Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Ahab; and to many other kings, which have followed men's traditions, against the commandment of God; and give it to your enemies, to triumph over you and your children.

            "And if the emperor Antoninus the meek, although he were a pagan and idolater, seeing himself bewrapt with so many wars, ceased the persecutions which were in his time against the Christians, and determined in the end to hear their causes and reasons, how much more ought you, that bear the name of the most Christian king, to be careful and diligent to cease the persecutions against the poor Christians, seeing they have not troubled, nor do trouble in any wise, the state of your kingdom and your affairs; considering also that the Jews be suffered through all Christendom, although they be mortal enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we hold by common accord and consent for our God, Redeemer, and Saviour; and that until ye have heard lawfully debated and understand our reasons, taken out of the Holy Scriptures; and that your Majesty have judged, if we be worthy of such punishments. For if we be not overcome by the word of God, neither the fires, the swords, nor the cruelest torments, shall make us afraid. These be exercises that God hath promised to his, the which he foretold should come in the last times, that they should not be troubled when such persecutions shall come upon them."
            [Translated out of the French book, intituled, Commentaries of the State of the Church and Public Weal, &c. page 7.]

 

The story and the end of the French king.

            Whosoever was the author or authors of this letter above prefixed, herein thou seest, good reader, good counsel given to the king. If he had had the grace to receive it, and had followed the same, no doubt but, God's blessing working with him, he had not only set that realm in a blessed state from much disturbance, but also had continued himself in all flourishing felicity of princely honour and dignity. For so doth the Lord commonly bless and advance such kings and princes as seek his honour, and submit their wills to his obedience. But commonly the fault of kings and potentates of this world is, that being set about with parasites, either they seldom hear the truth told them, or, if they do, yet will they not lightly be put from their own wills, disdaining to be admonished by their inferiors, be their counsel never so wholesome and godly; which thing many times turneth them to great plagues and calamities, as by plentiful examples of kings destroyed, wounded, imprisoned, deposed, drowned, poisoned, &c., may well, to them that read histories, appear. But especially this present example of Henry the French king, the second of that name, is in this our age notoriously to be considered; who, being well warned before, (as may seem,) would not yet surcease his cruel persecution against the Lord's people, but rather was the more hardened in heart, and inflamed against them; insomuch that he said to Anne du Bourg, one of the high court of parliament in Paris, threatening him, that he would see him burn with his own eyes.

            Further, how his purpose was to extend his power and force likewise against other places more, in persecuting the gospel of Christ, and professors thereof, to the uttermost of his ability, I leave it to the report of them, which in this matter know more than I here will utter.

            But notwithstanding all these cracks and threatenings of the king, (to see what the Lord can do in making high kings to stoop,) even the same day when the king was in his most rage against these good men, Almighty God, taking the cause in hand to fight for his church, so turned the matter, that he made the great enemy of his, both with his mouth and with his hand to work his own destruction; with his mouth in commanding, with his hand in giving him the lance into his hand, which the same day gave him his death's wound, as by the sequel hereof in reading, ye may understand.

            King Henry being in the parliament house which was kept at the Friar Augustines at Paris, because the palace was in preparing against the marriage of his daughter and his sister, and having heard the opinion in religion of Anne du Bourg, counsellor in the law, a man eloquent and learned, he caused the said Anne du Bourg, and Loys du Faux, counsellors, to be taken prisoners by the constable of France, who apprehended them, and delivered them into the hands of the count of Montgomery, the which carried them to prison. Against whom the king being wrathful and angry, among other talk, said to the said Anne du Bourg, "These eyes of mine shall see thee burnt." And so, on the nineteenth of June, commission was given to the judges to make his process.

            During this mean while, great feasts and banquets were preparing in the court, for joy and gladness of the marriage that should be of the king's daughter and sister, against the last day of June save one. So, when the day and time above prefixed were come, the king employed all the morning in examining as well the presidents as counsellors of the said parliament against these prisoners, and other their companions that were charged with the same doctrine; which being done, they went to dinner.

            The king, after he had dined, for that he was one of the defendants at the tourney, which was solemnly made in St. Antony's Street, near to the prison where the foresaid prisoners were committed, entered into the lists; and therein jousting, as the manner is, had broken many staves right valiantly as could be, running as well against the count of Montgomery, as others more. Whereupon he was highly commended of the lookers-on. And because he had done so valiantly, and was thought now to have done enough, he was desired to cease with praise. But he, being the more inflamed with the hearing of his praise, would needs run another course with Montgomery; who then, refusing to run against the king, and kneeling upon his knees for pardon not to run, the king being eagerly set, commanded him upon his allegiance to run, and (as some affirm) did also himself put the staff in his hand, unto whose hands he had committed the foresaid prisoners a little before. Montgomery, thus being enforced, whether he would or no, to run against the king, addressed himself after the best wise to obey the king's commandment. Whereupon he and the king met together so stoutly, that in breaking their spears the king was stricken with the counter-blow, so right in one of his eyes, by reason that the visor of his helmet suddenly fell down at the same instant, that the shivers entered into his head; so that the brains were perished, and thereupon so festered, that no remedy could be found, although physicians and surgeons were sent for from all places in the realm, as also from Brabant by King Philip; but nothing availed, so that the eleventh day after, that is, the tenth of July, 1559, he ended his life in great dolour, having reigned twelve years, three months, and ten days.

Illustration -- King Henry II of France Killed at a Joust

            Some report, that among other words he said, that he feared he was stricken for casting the poor Christians wrongfully in prison but the cardinal of Lorrain, standing by, (as he was always at hand,) said unto him, that it was the enemy that tempted him, and that he should be stedfast in the faith. By this means the hall, which was prepared for a place of joy and gladness, did now serve for a chapel to keep the corpse, being dressed with black mourning cloth, and night and day there was nothing heard but mourning and lamenting for the space of forty days.

            About a year after this, which was the year of our Lord 1560, there were certain gentlemen put to death at Amboise, for taking arms against the house of Guise; touching which gentlemen this is to be noted, that as one of them should be brought to the place of execution, where the other lay dead before him, he thrust his hands into the blood of two of his companions which were there beheaded, and then, lifting them up to heaven, cried with a loud voice, "Lord! behold the blood of thy children: thou wilt in time and place revenge it."

            Not long after the same, the chancellor Olivier, who was condemner of them, at the instigation and pursuit of the cardinal of Lorrain, through great remorse of conscience fell sick, and in a frenzy casting out sighs incessantly, and afflicting himself after a fearful and strange fashion for his unrighteous sentence, and more than barbarous cruelty, shrieked upon a sudden with a horrible cry, and said, "O cardinal! thou wilt make us all to be damned." And within a very few days after he died.

            Francis, the second of that name, king of France, at the persuasion of the cardinal of Lorrain, and of certain others, caused an assembly of the estates of the realm in the town of Orleans, among other things to maintain the papal see, to the overthrow of those which would live after the sincerity of the gospel: but being fallen sick, shortly after, in the foresaid place, of a fever, through an imposthume in his left ear, he died the 5th of December, 1560, having reigned but one year and about five months.

            It was said of this King Francis, (as the author above mentioned reporteth,) that when he was drawing toward his end, the cardinal of Lorrain made him to say and pronounce these words which follow: "Lord! forgive me my trespasses, and impute not unto me the faults which my ministers have done, under my name and authority."

            Neither is it unworthy of observation, that, after the father, it happened in much like sort (by God's mighty judgment) unto Charles IX., his second son, and brother to Francis above mentioned, in these our later days; who, after the horrible and bloody murder of the admiral, and other true professors of Christ's gospel, both men, women, and children, to the number of many thousands of divers cities, insomuch that the prisons and streets are said to be coloured with blood, smoking after such a cruel sort, as in our time or country the like hath not hitherto been seen; by the stroke of God's just revenge, the same king, by credible report of story, is said to die of bleeding, not only at his ears and nose, but in all other places of his body, where blood might have any issue.

            Unto these afore-recited histories of King Henry and his two sons, might also be added the death of the emperor Charles V., who, in like manner, being an enemy, and a great terror to the gospel, was cut off likewise from doing any more hurt to the church, much about the same time, anno 1558; which was but three months before the death of Queen Mary, and ten months before the death of the said Henry II.

            Not long after Anne du Bourg's death, the president Minard, who was a sore persecutor, and the condemner of the said Anne du Bourg, as he returned from the palace or council-chamber to his own house, being upon his mule, even hard by his house, was slain with a dag; but who was the doer thereof, or for what cause he was slain, for all the inquisition and diligent search that could be made, it was never known.

            Among many other examples worthy to be noted, let us also consider the end of the king of Navarre, brother to the worthy prince of Conde, who, after he had sustained a certain time the cause of the gospel, at length being allured by the flattering word of the duke of Guise, and the cardinal of Lorrain his brother, and upon hope to have his lands restored again, which the king of Spain retained from him, was contented to alter his religion, and to join side with the papists; and so, being in camp with the duke of Guise, at the siege of Rouen, was there shot with a pellet. After which wound received, being brought to a town three miles from the camp, called Preaux, he did vehemently repent and lament his backsliding from the gospel, promising to God most earnestly, that if he might escape that hurt, he would bring to pass that the gospel should be preached freely through all France: notwithstanding, within five or six days after he died.

            Neither did the duke of Guise himself, the great arch-enemy of God and his gospel, continue in life long after that, but both he and the whole triumvirate of France, that is, three [of] the greatest captains of popery, were cut off from doing any more hurt, to wit, the duke of Guise before Orleans, the constable before Paris, the marshal of St. Andrew before Dreux.

 

Of the emperor Sigismund.

            Amongst others, here is not to be past over nor forgotten, the notable example of God's just scourge upon Sigismund the emperor, of whom mention is made before, in the condemnation of John Huss, and Jerome of Prague. After the death and wrongful condemnation of which blessed martyrs, nothing afterward went prosperously with the said emperor, but all contrary; so that he both died without issue, and in his wars he ever went to the worst. And not long after, Ladislaus, his daughter's son, king of Hungary, fighting against the Turk, was slain in the field. So that in the time of one generation all the posterity and offspring of this emperor perished. Besides this, Barbara his wife came to such ruin by her wicked lewdness, that she became a shame and slander to the name and state of all queens; whereby all Christian princes and emperors may sufficiently be admonished, if they have grace, what it is to defile themselves with the blood of Christ's blessed saints and martyrs.

 

Previous Next