Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 447. WILLIAM HASTLEN.

447. WILLIAM HASTLEN.

 

A certain good man troubled in Boulogne the first year of King Edward the Sixth, for the gospel.

            "The examination of me, William Hastlen, gunner, in the castle of High Boulogne, in the year of our Lord 1547, and the first year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth. As I was in the church of Boulogne, called the Stale, upon the twelfth of April, being Easter Tuesday, reading of a godly book, called The Lamentation of a Christian against the Citizens of London, between the hours, of three and four at afternoon, there came certain men to me as I stood at an altar in the church reading to myself, and asked me what good book I had; and I said, they should hear if they pleased. Then they desired me to read out that they might hear, and so did I very gladly; but I had not read long (the priests and clerks were at their Latin evensong, I reading mine English book) but there came a tip-staff for me, taking my two books from me, and commanded me to go with him; for he said I must go before the council of the town.

            "Then went I forthwith with him; and a little without the church-door Sir John Bridges met us, and bade the tipstaff carry me to Sir Leonard Beckwith, knight, to be examined; and coming before his presence, he asked me what books they were that I had at the church, and was reading of one of them openly in the church to the people. And I said, so far as I had read them they were good godly books. And he said, they were heresy. And with that he asked me how I did believe of the sacrament of the altar, whether I did not believe that to be the very body of Christ, flesh, blood, and bones: and I asked him whether he meant that that was in the pix or no? and he said, Yea, even that in the pix. And I said, that since I had sure knowledge of Scriptures, I did not believe it to be the body of Christ, but a bare piece of bread; nor by God's help will I ever believe it otherwise to be. Then he said, I was a heretic, and asked me what I made of the sacrament; and I said, if it were duly ministered according to Christ's institution, that then I did believe that the faithful communicants, in receiving that blessed sacrament, did receive into their inward man or soul, the very body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Then said he, 'Dost thou not believe it to remain the very body of Christ after the words of consecration pronounced by the priest?' And I said, No. Then said he, 'What dost thou make of the church?' I said, 'As it is now used, it is a den of thieves, and the synagogue of Satan.' 'Thou heretic,' said he, 'there remaineth the very body of Christ.' But I said, that Christ being God and man, dwelleth not in the temples made with men's hands. Much other communication had we at that time, but this was the effect that day. Then he asked me whether I would be forthcoming till to-morrow. And I said, 'Sir, if you think that I will not, you may lay me where I shall be so.' Then he let me go for that night, and said, 'We shall talk further with thee to-morrow;' so I departed home.

            "And about the space of two hours after, Master Huntingdon the preacher (which did much good with his preaching in Boulogne at that time) came to me, and said, that he heard me spoken of at my Lord Gray's, who was then lord deputy of the town and country of Boulogne; 'and I perceive,' said he, 'that you are in great danger of trouble, if you escape with your life: for there are some of the council marvellously bent against you.' I said, The Lord's will be done.' 'Well,' said he, 'without you feel in yourself a full purpose, by God's help, to stand earnestly to the thing that ye have spoken, you shall do more hurt than good. Wherefore,' said he, 'if you will go to Calais, I will send you where you shall be well used, and be out of this danger.' Then I thanked Master Huntingdon, saying, 'I purpose by God's assistance to abide the uttermost that they can do unto me.' 'Well then,' said he, 'I can tell you you will be sent for tomorrow betimes before the whole council.' 'That is,' said I, 'the thing that I look for.'

            "Then rose I betimes in the morning and went into the market-place, that I might spy which way the officer should come for me. I had not tarried there long, but I spied a tipstaff, and went toward him, and asked him whom he sought; and he said, 'A gunner of the great ordnance in the castle of Boulogne:' and I said, 'I am he:' then said he, 'You must go with me to my Lords:' and I said, 'There-for I looked.'

            "When I came there, I saw my Lord and the whole council were assembled fogether in a close parlour. Doing my duty to them, my Lord said to me, 'It is informed me that thou hast seditiously congregated a company together in the church, and there in the time of service thou didst read unto them an heretical book, and hast not reverently used silence in the time of the divine service. What sayest thou to this?'

            "I said, 'If it please your Honour, I was in the church a good while before any service began, and nobody with me, reading to myself alone, upon a book that is agreeable to God's word, and no heresy in it that I read; and when it drew toward service time, there came men to the church, and, some of them coming to me whom I knew not, asking me what good book I had, I said it was a new book that I had not yet read over. Then they prayed me that I should read so that they might hear some part with me; and so I did, not calling, pointing, nor assembling any company to me. And the service being in Latin, that for the strangeness of the tongue, besides much superstition joined with it, was not understood of the most part of them that said or sung it, much less of them that stood by and did hear it; whereas, by the word of God, all things in the church or congregation should be done to the edifying of the people; and seeing I could have no such thing by their service, I did endeavour to edify myself, and others that were desirous of reading godly books. And because the church is so abused contrary to the word of God, being beset round about with a sort of abominable idols, before whom no man ought to kneel, nor do any manner of reverence, because the Scriptures do curse both the idol and the idol-maker, and all that do any worship or reverence unto them, or before them, for that cause I used no reverence there.'

            "'Well,' said my Lord, 'I would thou couldst answer to the rest, as well as thou hast done to this; but I fear me thou canst not: for it is told me that thou hast spoken against the blessed sacrament.' And I said, 'If it please your Lordship, that did I never in all my life, nor ever will do, by the grace of God.'

            "With that my chief accuser, Sir Leonard Beckwith, knight, said to me, 'Didst thou not say to me yesterday, that thou didst not believe the sacrament of the altar, after the words of consecration by the priest, to be the very body of Christ, flesh, blood, and bones, as it was born of the Virgin Mary?'

            "'It is true indeed that I said so; for neither do I believe it to remain Christ's body, nor ever will by the grace of God believe it so to be: for I believe that Christ, with that body that was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, did ascend up into heaven; and there (according to our belief) he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father; and from thence that body shall come at the day of judgment to judge the quick and the dead. And yet, in the mean while, I believe, that (the sacrament duly ministered according to Christ's institution) all the faithful receivers of this sacrament, lifting up the eyes of their mind into heaven where Christ's body is, do receive in that sacrament into their soul or inward man the very body of our Saviour Jesus Christ: yea, and I believe further, that Christ, concerning his Divine power, or the power of his Godhead, is wheresoever two or three be gathered together in his name, that he is in the midst even amongst them; and that he is so with his faithful flock even to the world's end.'

            "Then they laid their heads together and had privy talk. After that two of them said to me, that it was rank heresy, that I did believe it to remain bare bread after the priest had consecrated it; and not believing it to be the very body of Christ, I was worthy to be burned. Then said I earnestly unto them, 'Think you not, though I be a vile abject in your sight, and he that is most busy among you to seek my blood, but that my blood shall be required at his or their hands?'

            "Then had they privy talk together again, after the which my Lord said unto me, 'Thou hearest that they here lay heresy to thy charge, and I am a man of war, and have no skill in such high mysteries; wherefore thine accusers say, that thou must suffer here as a heretic, that all the rest of the garrison may beware by thee, that they fall not into the like heresy, and so cast away themselves.' Then said 1, I appeal from this council to the council of England.' Then said my Lord, 'I am very glad that thou hast appealed to the council of England, for there are learned men and divines that can skill of such matters: thither shalt thou be sent ere it be long.'

            "Then was I carried to Sir John Bridges' house; and having pen and ink, I was bidden to write mine articles, which were in effect those points of religion which you have heard before in my examination. Then on the morrow, being Thursday, and the fourteenth of April, I was brought to the prison in the town, called the Marshalsea, where I was very gently used: for a good gentleman, one Master Waghan, was the keeper there at that time. But surely, when I was apprehended, I had not so much as one penny to help myself with, for we had been long unpaid. Furthermore, I thought in that town of war, that there were very few or none that favoured the word of God; for I looked for no help there, but to be hated and despised of all men there: for I knew not past two or three there that had any love to the gospel till I was in prison; and then there came very many soldiers unto me that I never knew before, and gave me money, so that I had as good as three pounds given me in a small time that I was in prison. The fourteenth day of May, foward night, I was sent into England; one Master Messenger and one other man brought me to London even the same day, being Sunday at night and the fifteenth day of May. There was a great talk over all the city of one Dr. Smith that recanted that day. They brought me to the Marshalsea and there left me, I hearing no more of them that brought me thither: but Master Huntingdon, as a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, that gave me warning before of all this trouble, came from Boulogne to London, causing my articles to be seen, so that by his painful diligence to the council for me, after that I had been there little more than one month, I was discharged out of prison, and bid get me home to Boulogne, to my living again.

            "But surely if I had not appealed to the council of England, I had been burnt in Boulogne; for it was told me of them that knew much in that matter, that it was already determined shortly to have been accomplished, if I had not appealed: for the which deliverance I give praise to the everliving God."

 

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