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only that men might be left to judge upon that point as God should open their hearts, no party condemning the other, but nourishing brotherly love, and each bearing with the other's infirmity. The like he said concerning purgatory, requiring that a belief in it should not be insisted on as essential to salvation. Many peradventure would marvel, he observed, seeing he would have these things be left indifferently unto all men, whether to believe or not, what then was the cause why he would so willingly suffer death? “The cause," said he, “why I die is this ; for that I cannot agree that it should be necessarily determined to be an article of faith, and that we should believe, under pain of damnation, the bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of our Saviour, the form and shape only not being changed. Which thing, if it were most true, (as they shall never be able to prove it by any authority of the Scripture, or doctors,) yet shall they not so bring to pass, that that doctrine, were it never so true, should be holden for a necessary article of faith."
Tindal, hearing of his danger, encouraged him by his letters to suffer constantly. They who abjured, he said, and afterwards repented, and died to witness their repentance, afforded their enemies occasion to malign their memory; so that though their death was accepted with God, it was not glorious, and lost in great part its effect upon others. ...“ Your cause,” said he, “is Christ's Gospel, a light that must be fed with the blood of faith. The lamp must be dressed daily, and that oil poured in evening and morning, that the light go not out.” He encouraged him by the doctrine of fatalism, (which Tindal had adopted, and upon which More had victoriously attacked him,) and by a better reliance upon God. “Yield yourself,” said he; “ commit yourself wholly and only to your loving Father; then shall his
power be in you, and work for you above all that your heart can imagine. If the pain be above your strength, remember 'whatsoever ye shall ask in iny name, I will give it you,' and pray to your Father in that name, and he shall cease your pain, or shorten it.”
Frith needed not these stirring exhortations from a friend who, as he well knew, was ready to act as he advised. When he was taken to Croydon, for examination, by two of the Arch
bishop's people, the men were so won by his discourse, and so unwilling to lead him like a sheep to the slaughter, that they devised a plan for letting him escape, and proposed it to him. Upon his refusing with a smile, and saying that he was not afraid to deliver his opinion, they asked him, wherefore then he had been willing to fly before he was apprehended, if now he did not think proper to save himself ? He answered, “I would then fain have enjoyed my liberty, for the benefit of the Church of God; but being now by his Providence delivered into the hands of the Bishops, to give testimony to that doctrine which I am bound to maintain, ... if I should now start aside, I should run from my God, and be worthy of a thousand hells. Bring me, therefore, I beseech you, where I was appointed to be brought ; or else I will go thither alone.” Being at length brought for final examination before Stokesley and Gardiner, the Bishops of London and Winchester, both distinguished for the severity with which they enforced the persecuting laws, ... he was by them condemned as a wicked and stiff-necked heretic, persisting with damnable obstinacy in his detestable opinions; for which they excommunicated him, and left him to the secular power; “most earnestly,” said the sentence, “requiring them, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this execution and punishment, worthily to be done upon thee, may be so moderate, that the rigour thereof be not too extreme, nor yet the gentleness too much mitigated.” Could any heresy be more detestable and more impious than such language ?
One Andrew Hewet, a young tailor, who was taken up as a suspected person, and on his examination had declared, that he believed concerning the Sacrament as Frith did, was told, that if he persisted in that opinion, he should be burnt with him. And upon his expressing his resolution to follow Frith's example, he was sent to the same prison, and taken with him to Smithfield, where they were fastened to the same stake, back to back. The Romanists notice the simple sincerity of this young man with a sneer, and make no remark upon the execrable inhumanity of those who burnt him alive for it. When they were at the stake, a priest admonished the people in no wise to pray for them, no more than they would for a dog ; words which excited indignation in the multitude, but moved Frith only to a
compassionate smile, and a prayer that the Lord would forgive such persecutors. He suffered with that constancy which was to be expected from so true a courage, and so firm a faith ; and his last expression which could be understood, was one of thankfulness, that the wind having carried the force of the fire to the other side of the stake, had shortened the sufferings of his companion in martyrdom. Tindal did not long survive his friend. A villain, by name Henry Philips, who had been an English student at Louvain, by a long and most odious scheme of treachery betrayed him into the hands of the Emperor's Court at Brussels; and he was put to death at Vilvorde, by a more merciful martyrdom than would have been his lot in England, being strangled at the stake before he was burnt.
To so excellent a man as Tindal, who was “ without spot or blemish of rancour or malice, full of mercy and compassion, so that no man living was able to reprove him of any kind of sin or crime,” (thus he is described by those who knew him,) death could at no time be unwelcome in such a cause. And he had already seen, that owing to his efforts, though not by his means, his countrymen would have the Scriptures in their own tongue, and thus his heart's desire would be accomplished. Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn, as it had been preceded by his separation from the authority of the Church of Rome, was followed by a reformation of its doctrines. Upon Warham's death, Cranmer was made Primate ; one of his first measures was to procure a resolution from both houses of Convocation, to request his Majesty that the Scriptures should be translated by some learned men, whom he should appoint, and delivered unto the people according to their learning; and before Tindal's martyrdom, Miles Coverdale's Bible was allowed to be used. Tindal had published the Pentateuch and the Book of Jonah from the Hebrew; the Psalter, and some other portions, had been published by George Joye, but Coverdale’s was a complete version ; and this book, printed, it is supposed, at Zurich, was not only allowed in England, but its use enjoined ; injunctions to the Clergy being issued by the King's authority, that the whole Bible, both in Latin and English, should be placed in the quire of every parish church ; and that all men should be encouraged and exhorted to read it as the very word of God, that thereby
they might the better know their duty to God, their sovereign lord the King, and their neighbour.
This most important change was brought about by Cranmer, with Cromwell's aid, and through the Queen's favour. The decided manner in which Anne Boleyn promoted the great religious change occasioned by Henry's desire of marrying her, has given historical importance to a life, which otherwise would only have afforded a theme for tragedy. Of what importance it was to the Reformation, may be seen by the fiendish malignity with which her story has been blackened. That event, to which England owes her civil as well as her intellectual freedom, is represented by the Romanists as disgraceful in its origin, flagitious in its course, and fatal in its end. The Church of England canonizes none of its benefactors; it is even blameable for paying no honours to the memory of those virtuous men by whose exertions it was founded, and who laid down their lives in its service. It regards Anne Boleyn as a woman, who encouraged in the King an attachment, from which the sense of duty ought to have made her turn away. The splendour of a crown had dazzled her; and he who beholds in the events of this world that moral government which is sufficiently apparent, sees that, in her otherwise unmerited fate, she was punished for this offence. But the Romanists were in that age so accustomed to falsehood, that they could not abstain from it, even when truth might have served their cause. With characteristic effrontery they asserted, that her mother and her sister had both been mistresses of the King; that she was his own daughter; and that her nominal father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, reminded him of this, to prevent, if possible, the incestuous marriage, but in vain. They described her as a monster of deformity and wickedness. In this spirit their histories of our Reformation were composed, till they perceived that such coarse calumnies could no longer be palmed upon the world, and then they passed into an insidious strain, little less malicious, and not more faithful.
It was by Queen Anne's influence that Bilney's convert, Latimer, was made Bishop of Worcester. He, more than any other man, promoted the Reformation by his preaching. The straightforward honesty of his remarks, the liveliness of his illustrations, his homely wit, his racy manner, his manly freedom, the play
fulness of his temper, the simplicity of his heart, the sincerity of his understanding, gave life and vigour to his sermons when they were delivered, and render them now the most amusing productions of that age, and to us perhaps the most valuable. The public feeling was now in favour of reformation, though even the leaders in that work knew not as yet how far they should proceed. But the Romanists had injured their own cause, and the martyrs had not offered up their lives in vain. Frith's case, in particular, had shocked the people. They had seen him kiss the stake, and suffer with the calm intrepidity of conscious virtue, full of hope and faith ; and when they saw so young, so learned, and so exemplary a man put to this inhuman death, for no crime, ... not even for teaching heretical doctrines, but merely because he would not affirm that a belief in purgatory and in the corporeal presence was necessary to salvation, many even of those who believed in both, were shocked at the atrocious iniquity of the sentence. The effect appeared in Parliament; and an act was passed, by which the Clergy were deprived of the power of committing men on suspicion of heresy, or proceeding against them without presentment or accusation. Presentments by two witnesses at least were required, and then they were to be tried in open court. In other respects, the laws, inhuman as they were, were left in force. The age was not yet ripe for further mitigation, but this was a great and important step.
The Romanists injured themselves by their craft, as well as their cruelty. A Nun in Kent was encouraged to feign revelations; at first, for the purpose of bringing a particular image into repute, ... afterwards, a political bearing was given to the imposture: she declared strongly against the divorce while the cause was pending, and predicted, that if Henry persisted in his purpose and married another wife, he should not be King a month longer, nay, not an hour in the sight of God, but should die a villain's death. Her prophecies were collected in a book, and repeated in sermons, particularly by the Observant Franciscans, one of whom, preaching before the King, told him that many lying prophets had deceived him, but he, as a true Micaiah, warned him that the dogs should lick his blood, as they had done Ahab's. The ferocity of Henry's heart had not yet been awakened; he bore this treasonable insolence with patience, and