Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 414. WILLIAM WOOD OF KENT.


            The examination of William Wood, baker, dwelling in the parish of Strood, in the county of Kent, before Dr. Kenall chancellor of the diocese of Rochester, Dr. Chedsey, the mayor of Rochester, and Master Robinson the scribe, the nineteenth day of October, and in the second year of Queen Mary, in St. Nicholas' church in Rochester.

            Robinson.--"William Wood! you are presented, because you will not come to the church, nor receive the blessed sacrament of the altar. How say you? have you received, or have you not?"

            Wood.--"I have not received it, nor dare I receive it, as you now minister it."

            Kenall.--"Thou heretic! what is the cause that thou hast not received the blessed sacrament of the altar?" And at this word all they put off their caps, and made low obeisance.

            Wood.--"There be three causes that make my conscience afraid, that I dare not receive it. The first; Christ did deliver it to his twelve apostles, and said, Take, eat, and drink ye all of this, &c.; and ye eat and drink up all alone. The second cause is, you hold it to be worshipped, contrary to God's commandment, Thou shalt not bow down nor worship. The third cause is, you minister it in a strange tongue, contrary to St. Paul's doctrine, I had rather have five words with understanding, than ten thousand with tongues: by reason whereof the people be ignorant of the death of Christ."

            Kenall.--"Thou heretic, wilt thou have any plainer words than these: Take, eat, this is my body? Wilt thou deny the Scripture?"

            Wood.--"I will not deny the Holy Scriptures, God forbid! but with my heart I do faithfully believe them. St. Paul saith, God calleth those things that are not, as though they were: and Christ saith, I am a vine, I am a door. St. Paul saith, The rock is Christ: all which are figurative speeches, wherein one thing is spoken, and another thing is understood."

            Robinson.--"You make a very long tale of this matter: learn, Wood, learn."

            Kenall.--"Nay, these heretics will not learn: look how this heretic glorieth in himself. Thou fool! art thou wiser than the queen and her council, and all the learned men of this realm?"

            Wood.--"And please you, Master Chancellor, I think you would be loth to have such glory, to have your life and goods taken away, and to be thus called upon, as you rail upon me: but the servant is not greater than his Master. And whereas you do mock me, and say that I am wiser than the queen and her council, St. Paul saith, The wisdom of the wise of this world, is foolishness before God; and he that will be wise in this world, shall be accounted but a fool."

            .Kenall.--"Dost not thou believe that after these words spoken by a priest, This is my body, there remaineth no more bread and wine, but the very flesh and blood of Christ, as he was born of the Virgin Mary, really and substantially, in quantity and quality, as he did hang upon the cross?"

            Wood.--"I pray you, Master Chancellor, give me leave, for my learning, to ask you one question, and I will answer you after."

            Kenall.--"It is some wise question, I warrant you."

            Wood.--"God spake to the prophet Ezekiel, saying, Thou son of man, take a razor, and shave off the hair of thy bead and of thy beard. And take one part, and cast into the air; take the second part, and put it into thy coat-lap; and take the third part, and cast it into the fire: and this is Jerusalem. I pray you, Master Chancellor, was this hair that the prophet did cast into the fire, or was it Jerusalem?"

            Kenall.--"No; it did signify Jerusalem."

            Wood.--"Even so in this word of Christ, This is my body, is not to be understood, that Christ's carnal, natural, and real body is in the same, in quantity and quality, as it was born of the Virgin Mary, and as he was crucified upon the cross, is present or enclosed in the sacrament: but it doth signify Christ's body, as St. Paul saith, So oft as ye do eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye shall show forth the Lord's death till be come. What should the apostle mean by this word, till he come, if he were here carnally, naturally, corporally, and really, in the same quantity and quality as he was born of the Virgin Mary, and as he did hang on the cross, as you say? But St. Paul saith, You shall show the Lord's death till he come. This doth argue, that he is not here, as you would have us to believe."

            Chedsey.--"I will prove that Christ is here present under the form of bread: but not in quantity and quality."

            Dr. Kenall said, "Yes, he is present in quantity and quality."

            Chedsey.--"He is here present under a form, and not in quantity and quality."

            "Yes! "said Kenall.

            "No! "said Chedsey.

            "I will prove him here in quantity and quality" said Kenall.

            "I will prove the contrary," said Chedsey.

            And these two doctors were so earnest in this matter, the one to affirm, the other to deny, contending and raging so sore one at the other, that they foamed at the mouth, and one was ready to spit in another's face; so that in great fury and rage the two doctors rose up from the judgment-seat, and Dr. Kenall departed out of the church in great rage and fury immediately.

            Wood.--"Behold, good people, they would have us to believe, that Christ is naturally, really, in quantity and quality, present in the sacrament; and yet they cannot tell themselves, nor agree within themselves, how he is there! "

            At these words the people made a great shout, and the mayor stood up, and commanded the people to be quiet, and to keep silence. And the God that did deliver St. Paul out of the hands of the high priests, by the contention that was between the Pharisees and Sadducees, did even so deliver me at that time out of the mouths of the bloody papists, by the means of the contention of these two doctors. Blessed he the name of the Lord, which hath promised to lay no more upon his, than he will make them able to bear, and in the midst of temptation he can make way for his (how, and when it pleaseth him) to escape out of all dangers.


Previous Next