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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 346. JOHN FORTUNE, OTHERWISE CUTLER.



N the examination of Roger Bernard, ye heard a little before, how he was compared by the priests there, to John Fortune, and called his scholar. This John Fortune, otherwise called Cutler, of Hintlesham in Suffolk, was by his occupation a blacksmith, whom they had before them in examination a little before the twentieth day of April. In spirit he was zealous and ardent, in the Scriptures ready, in Christ's cause stout and valiant, in his answers marvellous, and no less patient in his wrongful suffering than constant in his doctrine. Whether he was burned, or died in prison, I cannot certainly find; but rather I suppose that he was burned. Certain it is, howsoever he was made away, he never yielded. What his answers and examinations were before Dr. Parker and the bishop, ye shall hear him, although not with his own mouth speaking, yet with his own hand you shall see written, what he did say, as followeth.

            First, Dr. Parker asked me how I believed in the catholic faith. And I asked him, which faith he meant; whether the faith that Stephen had, or the faith of them that put Stephen to death. Dr. Parker being moved said, "What a naughty fellow is this! you shall see anon he will deny the blessed sacrament of the altar."

            Then said Master Foster, "I know you well enough. You are a busy merchant. How sayest thou by the blessed mass?" And I stood still and made no answer.

            Then said Master Foster, "Why speakest thou not, and makest the gentleman an answer?" And I said, "Silence is a good answer to a foolish question."

            Then said the doctor, "I am sure he will deny the blessed sacrament of the altar also." And I said, "I know none such, but only the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ."

            Then said he, "You deny the order of the seven sacraments. And why dost thou not believe in the sacrament of the altar?" And I said, "Because it is not written in God's book."

            Then said he, "You will not believe unwritten verities." And I said, "I will believe that those unwritten verities that agree with the written verities, be true: but those unwritten verities that be of your own making, and invented of your own brain, I do not believe."

            "Well," said Master Foster, "you shall be whipped and burned for this gear, I trow." Then said I, "If you knew how these words rejoice my heart, you would not have spoken them."

            Foster.--"Away, thou fool! dost thou rejoice in whipping?"

            "Yea," said I, "for it is written in the Scriptures, and Christ saith, Thou shalt be whipped for my name's sake; and since the time that the sword of tyranny came into your hands, I heard of none that was whipped. Happy were I, if I had the maiden-head of this persecution."

            "Away with him then," said he. "for he is ten times worse than Samuel: "and so I was carried to prison again.


Three examinations of John Fortune, before Dr. Hopton, bishop of Norwich.

            When I came before the bishop he asked me if I did not believe in the catholic church. I said, "I believe that church whereof Christ is the Head."

            Then said the bishop, "Dost thou not believe that the pope is supreme head of the church?" And I said, "No, Christ is the Head of the true church."

            Bishop.--"So do I believe also: but the pope is God's vicar upon earth, and the head of the church; and I believe that he hath power to forgive sins also."

            Then said I, "The pope is but a man, and the prophet David saith, that no man can deliver his brother, nor make agreement for him unto God: for it cost more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever."

            And the bishop again fetching about a great circumstance said, Like as the bell-wether weareth her bell, and is the head of the flock of sheep, so is the pope our head. And as the hives of bees have a master-bee that bringeth the bees to the hive again, so doth our head bring us home again to our true church."

            Then I asked him, whether the pope were a spiritual man: and he said, "Yea." And I said again, "They are spiteful men; for in seventeen months there were three popes, and one poisoned another for that presumptuous seat of antichrist."

            "It is maliciously spoken," said he, "for thou must obey the power, and not the man." And thus was the pope denied to be supreme head.

            "Well," said he, "what sayest thou to the ceremonies of the church?"

            And I answered, "All things that are not planted by my heavenly Father, shall be plucked up by the roots, saith Christ. For they are not from the beginning, neither shall they continue to the end."

            Bishop.--"They are good and godly, and ne-cessary to be used."

            Fortune.--"St Paul called them weak and beggarly."

            Bishop.--"No, that is a lie."

            Fortune.--"I hearing that, said, that "St. Paul writeth thus in Gal. iv., You foolish Galatians, saith he, who hath bewitched you, that ye seek to be in bondage to these weak and beggarly ceremonies? Now which of you do lie? you or St. Paul? And also it is said, that works instituted and enjoined without the commandment of God, pertain not to the worship of God, according to the text, Matt. xv., In vain do men worship me with men's traditions and commandments. And St Paul saith, Wherefore do ye carry us away from the grace of Christ to another kind of doctrine? And Christ openly rebuked the scribes, lawyers, Pharisees, doctors, priests, bishops, and hypocrites, for making God's commandments of none effect, to support their own tradition."

            Bishop.--"Thou liest! there is not such a word in all the Scriptures, thou naughty heretic. Thou art worse than all other heretics: for Hooper," said he, "and Bradford allow them to be good, and thou dost not. Away with him!"

            Here you may perceive, how that the catholic church cannot err, but whatsoever they say must needs be true. And so my Lord Bishop cannot lie, as it may appear to all men most plainly in the text.

            The next day I was brought before the said bishop again, where he made a sermon upon the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, of Christ's words, I am the bread that came down from heaven, &c. And thereupon had a great bibble-babble to no purpose. So in the end I was called before him, and he said to me:

            Bishop.--"How believest thou in the sacrament of the altar? Dost thou not believe, that after the consecration, there is the real substance of the body of Christ?" And I answered him, "That is the greatest plague that ever came into England."

            Bishop.--"Why so?"

            I said, "If I were a bishop, and you a poor man as I am, I would be ashamed to ask such a question: for a bishop should be apt to teach, and not to learn."

            Bishop.--"I am appointed by the law to teach: so are not you."

            And I said, "Your law breaketh out very well; for you have burned up the true bishops and preachers, and maintained liars to be in their stead."

            Bishop.--"Now you may understand that he is a traitor: for he denieth the higher powers."

            Fortune.--"I am no traitor; for St. Paul saith, All souls must obey the higher powers; and I resist not the higher powers, concerning my body, but I must resist your evil doctrine wherewith you would infect my soul."

            Then said a doctor, "My Lord, you do not well; let him answer shortly to his articles."

            Bishop.--"How sayest thou? make an answer quickly to these articles."

            Fortune.--"St. Paul saith, Christ did one sacrifice once for all; and sat him down on the right hand of his Father, triumphing over hell and death, making intercession for sins."

            Bishop.--"I ask thee no such question, but make answer to this article."

            Fortune.--"If it be not God before the consecration, it is not God after: for God is without beginning and without ending."

            Then said he, "Lo what a stiff heretic is this! he hath denied altogether. How sayest thou? Is it idolatry to worship the blessed sacrament, or no?"

            Fortune.--"God is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and truth."

            Bishop.--"I ask thee no such question: answer me directly."

            Fortune.--"I answer that this is the god Mauzzim, that robbeth God of his honour."

            Bishop.--"It is pity that the ground beareth thee, or that thou hast a tongue to speak." Then said the scribe; "Here are a great many more articles."

            Then said the bishop, "Away with him! for he hath spoken too much."

            And when I came to mine examination again, the bishop asked me if I would stand unto mine answer that I had made before: and I said, Yea: for I had spoken nothing but the truth. And after that he made a great circumstance upon the sacrament.

            Then I desired him to stand to the text; and he read the gospel on Corpus Christi day, which said, I am the bread which came down from heaven: "Believest thou not this?" And I said, "Yea, truly."

            And he said, "Why dost thou deny the sacrament?" "Because your doctrine is false," said I.

            Then said he, "How can that be false which is spoken in the Scriptures?" And I said, "Christ said, I am the Bread, and you say, the bread is He. Therefore your doctrine is false," said I.

            And he said, "Dost thou not believe that the bread is He? And I said, "No."

            Bishop.--"I will bring thee to it by the Scriptures."

            Fortune.--"Hold that fast, my Lord: for that is the best argument that you have yet."

            Bishop.--"Thou shalt be burnt like a heretic."

            Fortune.--"Who shall give judgment upon me."

            Bishop.--"I will judge a hundred such as thou art, and never be shriven upon it."

            Fortune.--"Is there not law for the spiritualty, as well as for the temporalty?" And Sir Clement Higham said, "Yes. What meanest thou by that?"

            Fortune.--"When a man is perjured by the law, he is cast over the bar, and sitteth no more in judgment. And the bishop is a perjured man, and ought to sit in judgment of no man."

            Bishop.--"How provest thou that?"

            Fortune.--"Because you took an oath in King Henry's days to resist the pope. So both spiritual and temporal are perjured, that here can be no true judgment."

            Bishop.--"Thinkest thou to escape judgment by that? No, for my chancellor shall judge thee. He took no oath, for he was then out of the realm."

            Master Higham.--"It is time to weed out such fellows as you be, indeed."

            Bishop.--"Good fellow, why believest not thou in the sacrament of the altar?"

            Fortune.--"Because I find it not in God's book, nor yet in the doctors. If it were there, I would believe it with all my heart."

            Bishop.--"How knowest thou it is not there?"

            Fortune.--"Because it is contrary to the second commandment. And seeing it is not written in God's book, why do you then rob me of my life?"

            Then the bishop having no more to say, commanded the bailiff to take him away. And thus much touching the examinations of this man.

            Now whether he died in fire, or was otherwise prevented with death, as I said before, I am uncertain. In the register of Norwich this I do find, that his sentence of condemnation was drawn and registered; but whether it was pronounced, in the said register it is not expressed, according as the usual manner of the notary is to declare, in the end of the sentence. Nevertheless this is most certain, that he never abjured nor recanted, howsoever it pleased the Lord by death to call him out of the world.


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