429. THE FAILURE OF QUEN MARY'S PERSECUTION.
A brief declaration, showing the unprosperous success of Queen Mary in persecuting God's people, and how mightily God wrought against her in all her affairs.
Now, forasmuch as Queen Mary, during all the time of her reign, was such a vehement adversary and persecutor against the sincere professors of Christ Jesus and his gospel: for the which there be many which do highly magnify and approve her doings therein, reputing her religion to be sound and catholic, and her proceedings to be most acceptable and blessed of Almighty God: to the intent, therefore, that all men may understand, how the blessing of the Lord God did not only not proceed with her proceedings, but, contrariwise rather, how his manifest displeasure ever wrought against her, in plaguing both her and her realm, and in subverting all her counsels and attempts, whatsoever she took in hand, we will bestow a little time therein, to perpend and survey the whole course of her doings and chievances, and consider what success she had in the same. Which being well considered, we shall never find any reign of any prince, in this land or any other, which did ever show in it (for the proportion of time) so many arguments of God's great wrath and displeasure, as were to be seen in the reign of this Queen Mary; whether we behold the shortness of her time, or the unfortunate event of all her purposes, who seemed never to purpose any thing that came luckily to pass, neither did any thing frame to her purpose, whatsoever she took in hand, touching her own private affairs.
Of good kings we read in the Scripture, in showing mercy and pity, in seeking God's will in his word, and subverting the monuments of idolatry, how God blessed their ways, increased their honours, and mightily prospered all their proceedings; as we see in king David, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, with such others. Manasseh made the streets of Jerusalem to swim with the blood of his subjects; but what came of it the text doth testify.
Of Queen Elizabeth, who now reigneth among us, this we must needs say, which we see: that she, in sparing the blood, not only of God's servants, but also of God's enemies, hath doubled now the reign of Queen Mary her sister, with such abundance of peace and prosperity, that it is hard to say, whether the realm of England felt more of God's wrath in Queen Mary's time, or of God's favour and mercy in these so blessed and peaceable days of Queen Elizabeth.
Gamaliel, speaking his mind in the council of the Pharisees concerning Christ's religion, gave this reason: that if it were of God, it should continue, whosoever said nay; if it were not, it could not stand. So may it be said of Queen Mary and her Romish religion; that if it were so perfect and catholic as they pretend, and the contrary faith of the gospellers were so detestable and heretical as they make it, how cometh it then, that this so catholic a queen, such a necessary pillar of his spouse the church, continued no longer, till she had utterly rooted out of the land this heretical generation? yea, how chanced it rather, that Almighty God, to spare these poor heretics, rooted out Queen Mary so soon from her throne, after she had reigned but only five years and five months?
Now furthermore, how God blessed her ways and endeavours in the mean time, until she thus persecuted the true servants of God, remaineth to be discussed: where this is first to be noted, that when she first began to stand for the title of the crown, and yet had wrought no resistance against Christ and his gospel, but had promised her faith to the Suffolk men, to maintain the religion left by King Edward her brother, so long God went with her, advanced her, and, by the means of the gospellers, brought her to the possession of the realm. But after that she, breaking her promise with God and man, began to take part with Stephen Gardiner, and had given over her supremacy unto the pope, by and by God's blessing left her, neither did any thing well thrive with her afterward, during the whole time of her regiment.
For first, incontinently, the fairest and greatest ship she had, called Great Harry, was burnt; such a vessel as in all these parts of Europe was not to be matched.
Then would she needs bring in King Philip, and by her strange marriage with him, to make the whole realm of England subject unto a stranger. And, all that notwithstanding, (that she either did, or was able to do,) she could not bring to pass to set the crown of England upon his head. With King Philip also came in the pope and his popish mass; with whom also her purpose was to restore again the monks and nuns unto their places: neither lacked there all kind of attempts to the uttermost of her ability; and yet therein also God stopped her of her will, that it came not forward.
After this, what a dearth happened in her time here in her land! the like whereof hath not lightly in England been seen, insomuch that in sundry places her poor subjects were fain to feed off acorns, for want of corn.
Furthermore, where other kings are wont to be renowned by some worthy victory and prowess by them achieved, let us now see what valiant victory was gotten in this Queen Mary's days. King Edward the Sixth, her blessed brother, how many rebellions did he suppress in Devonshire, in Norfolk, in Oxfordshire, and elsewhere! What a famous victory in his time was gotten in Scotland, by the singular working (no doubt) of God's blessed hand, rather than by any expectation of man! King Edward the Third (which was the eleventh king from the Conquest) by princely puissance purchased Calais unto England, which had been kept English ever since, till at length came Queen Mary, the eleventh likewise from the said King Edward, which lost Calais from England again; so that the winnings of this queen were very small -- what the losses were let other men judge.
Hitherto the affairs of Queen Mary have had no great good success, as you have heard. But never worse success had any woman, than had she in her child-birth. For seeing one of these two must needs be granted, that either she was with child or not with child: if she were with child and did travail, why was it not seen? if she were not, how was all the realm deluded! And in the mean while, where were all the prayers, the solemn processions, the devout masses of the catholic clergy? why did they not prevail with God, if their religion were so godly as they pretend. If their masses be able to fetch Christ from heaven, and to reach down to purgatory, how chanced then they could not reach to the queen's chamber, to help her in her travail, if she had been with child indeed? if not, how then came it to pass that all the catholic Church of England did so err, and was so deeply deceived?
Queen Mary, after these manifold plagues and corrections, which might sufficiently admonish her of God's disfavour provoked against her, would not yet cease her persecution, but still continued more and more to revenge her catholic zeal upon the Lord's faithful people, setting fire to their poor bodies by half dozens and dozens together. Whereupon, God's wrathful indignation increasing more and more against her, ceased not to touch her more near with private misfortunes and calamities. For after that he had taken from her the fruit of children, (which chiefly and above all things she desired,) then he bereft her of that, which of all earthly things should have been her chief stay of honour, and staff of comfort, that is, withdrew from her the affection and company even of her own husband, by whose marriage she had promised before to herself whole heaps of such joy and felicity. But now the omnipotent Governor of all things so turned the wheel of her own spinning against her, that her high buildings of such joys and felicities came all to a castle-come-down; her hopes being confounded, her purposes disappointed, and she now brought to desolation; who seemed neither to have the favour of God, nor the hearts of her subjects, nor yet the love of her husband; who neither had fruit by him while she had him, neither could now enjoy him whom she had married, neither yet was at liberty to marry any other whom she might enjoy. Mark here, Christian reader, the woeful adversity of this queen, and learn withal what the Lord can do, when man's wilfulness will needs resist him, and will not be ruled.
At last, when all these fair admonitions would take no place with the queen, nor move her to revoke her bloody laws, nor to stay the tyranny of her priests, nor yet to spare her own subjects, but that the poor servants of God were drawn daily by heaps most pitifully, as sheep to the slaughter, it so pleased the heavenly majesty of Almighty God, when no other remedy would serve, by death to cut her off, which in her life so little regarded the life of others; giving her throne, which she abused to the destruction of Christ's church and people, to another, who more temperately and quietly could guide the same, after she had reigned here the space of five years and five months. The shortness of which years and reign, scarce we find in any other story of king or queen since the Conquest or before, (being come to their own government,) save only in King Richard the Third.
And thus much here, as in the closing up of this story, I thought to insinuate, touching the unlucky and rueful reign of Queen Mary; not for any detraction to her place and state royal, whereunto she was called of the Lord, but to this only intent and effect: that forasmuch as she would needs set herself so confidently to work and strive against the Lord and his proceedings, all readers and rulers may not only see how the Lord did work against her therefor, but also by her may be advertised and learn what a perilous thing it is for men and women in authority, upon blind zeal and opinion, to stir up persecution in Christ's church, to the effusion of Christian blood, lest it prove in the end with them, (as it did here,) that while they think to persecute heretics, they stumble at the same stone as did the Jews, in persecuting Christ and his true members to death, to their own confusion and destruction.