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IN THE TEMPLE OF ST. MARY OVERY’S, BEFORE THE LORD CHANCELLOR, AND DIVERS OTHER BISHOPS, THE 29TH DAY OF JANUARY, 1555.
AFTER the excommunication of John Rogers, John Bradford was called in; and standing before the lord chancellor and other bishops set with him, the said lord chancellor spake thus in effect, that where tofore, the 22nd of January, they called the said Bradford before them, and offered unto him the queen’s pardon, although he had contemned the same, and further he said that he would stiffly and stoutly maintain and defend the erroneous doctrine holden in the days of king Edward the sixth; yet, in consideration that the queen’s highness is wonderful merciful, they thought good eftsoons to offer the same mercy again, before it be too late. “Therefore,” quoth my lord chancellor, “now advise you well; there is yet space and grace tofore we so proceed that you be committed to the secular power, as we must do and will do, if you will not follow the example of master Barlow and Cardmaker:” whom he there commended, adding oratoriously amplifications, to move the said Bradford to yield to the religion presently set forth.
After the lord chancellor’s long talk, Bradford began on this sort to speak: “My lord,” quoth he, “and my lords all, as now I stand in your sight before you, so I humbly beseech your honors to consider that you sit in the sight of the Lord, who, as David doth witness, ‘is in the congregations of judges,’ and sits in the midst of them judging: and as you would your place to be now of us taken as God’s place, so demonstrate yourselves to follow him in your sitting; that is, seek no guiltless blood, nor hunt not by questions to bring into the snare them which are out of the same. At this present I stand before you guilty or guiltless: if guilty, then proceed and give sentence accordingly; if guiltless, then give me the benefit of a subject, which hitherto I could not have.”
Here the lord chancellor replied, and said that the said Bradford began with a true sentence, Dens stetit in synagoga, [“God hath stood in the congregation,”] etc.: “but,” quoth he, “this and all thy gesture declareth but hypocrisy and vain-glory.” And further he made much ado to purge himself, that he sought no guiltless blood; and so began a long process how that Bradford’s fact at Paul’s Cross was presumptuous, arrogant, and declared a taking upon him to lead the people; “which could not but turn to much disquietness,” quoth he, “in that thou” (speaking to Bradford) “wast so prefract and stout in religion at that present. For the which, as thou wast then committed to prison, so hitherto hast thou been kept in prison, where thou hast written letters to no little hurt to the queen’s people, as by the report of the earl of Derby in the parliament-house was credibly reported.” And to this he added, that the said Bradford did stubbornly behave himself the last time he was before them: “and therefore not for any other thing now I demand thee of,” quoth he, “but of and for thy doctrine and religion.” “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “where you accuse me of hypocrisy and vainglory, I must and will leave it to the Lord’s declaration, which one day will open yours and my truth and hearty dealings. In the mean season I will content myself with the testimony of mine own conscience; which, if it yielded to hypocrisy, could not but have God my foe also; and so both God and man were against me. As for my fact at Paul’s Cross, and behavior before you at the Tower, I doubt not but God will reveal it to my comfort: for if ever I did any thing which God used to public benefit, I think that that my deed was one; and yet for it I have been and am kept of long time in prison. And as for letters and religion, I answer,” quoth Bradford, “as I did the last time I was before you.” “There didst thou say,” quoth my lord chancellor, “that thou wouldest stubbornly and manly maintain the erroneous doctrine in king Edward’s days.” “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “I said the last time I was before you, that I had six times taken an oath that I should never consent to the practising of any jurisdiction on the bishop of Rome his behalf; and therefore durst not answer to any thing that should be demanded so, lest I should be forsworn; which God forbid. Howbeit, saving mine oath, I said that I was more confirmed in the doctrine set forth public in king Edward’s days, than ever I was before I was put in prison: and so I thought I should be, and think yet still I shall be, found more ready to give my life as God will, for the confirmation of the same.” “I remember well,” quoth my lord chancellor, “that thou madest much ado about a needless matter, as though the oath against the bishop of Rome were so great a matter. So others have done before thee, but yet not in such sort as thou hast done; for thou pretendest a conscience in it, which is nothing else but mere hypocrisy.” “My conscience,” quoth Bradford, “is known to the Lord: and whether I deal herein hypocritically or no, he knoweth. As I said therefore then, my lord,” quoth he, “so say I again now, that, for fear lest I should be perjured, I dare not make answer to any thing you shall demand of me, if my answering should consent to the practising of any jurisdiction for the bishop of Rome here in England.” “Why,” quoth my lord chancellor, “didst thou not begin to tell that we are dii [gods] and sit in God’s place; and now wilt thou not make us answer?” “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “I said you would have your place taken of us now as God’s place; and therefore I brought forth that piece of scripture, that ye might be the more admonished to follow God and his ways at this present; who seeth us all, and well perceiveth whether of conscience I pretend this matter of the oath or no.” “No,” quoth my lord chancellor, “all men may see thine hypocrisy: for if for thine oath’s sake thou dost not answer, then wouldest thou not have spoken as thou didst, and have answered me at the first: but now men may well perceive that this is but a starting-hole to hide thyself in, because thou darest not answer, and so wouldest escape, blinding the simple people’s eyes, as though of conscience you did all you do.” “That which I spake at the first,” quoth Bradford, “was not a replication or an answer to that you spake to me; and therefore I needed not to lay for me mine oath: for I thought perchance you would have more weighed what I did speak, than you did. But when I perceived you did not consider it, but came to ask matter, whereto by answering I should consent to the practising of jurisdiction on the bishop of Rome his behalf here in England, and so be forsworn; then of conscience and simplicity I spake, as I do yet again speak, that I dare not for conscience’ sake answer you: and therefore I seek no starting-holes, nor go about to blind the people, as God knoweth.
For if you of your honor shall tell me that you do not ask me any thing whereby my answering should consent to the practising of the bishop of Rome’s jurisdiction, ask me wherein you will, and you shall hear that I will answer you as flatly as ever any did that came before you. I am not afraid of death, I thank God; for I look and have looked for nothing else at your hands of long time: but I am afraid, when death cometh, I should have matter to trouble my conscience by the guiltiness of perjury; and therefore do answer as I do.” “These be but gay glorious words,” quoth my lord chancellor, “full of hypocrisy and vain-glory: and yet dost not thou know,” quoth he, speaking to Bradford, “that I sit here as bishop of Winchester in mine own diocese, and therefore may do this which I do, and more too?” “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “give me leave to ask you this question, that my conscience may be out of doubt in this matter. Tell me here coram Deo , ‘before God,’ all this audience being witness, that you demand me nothing whereby my answering should consent to and confirm the practice of jurisdiction for the bishop of Rome here in England; and your honor shall hear me give you as flat and as plain answers briefly to whatsoever you shall demand me, as ever any did.”
Here the lord chancellor was wonderfully offended, and spake much how that the bishop of Rome’s authority needed no confirmation of Bradford’s answering, nor no such as he was; and turned his talk to the people, how that Bradford followed crafty covetous merchants, which, because they would lend no money to their neighbors when they were in need, would say that they had sworn oft they would never lend anymore money, because their debtors had so oft deceived them. “Even so thou,” quoth he to Bradford, “dost at this present, to cast a mist in the people’s eyes, to blear them with an heresy, (which is greater, and more hurtful to the commonwealth,) pretend thine oath, whereby the people might make a conscience, where as they should not. Why speakest thou not?” quoth he. “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “as I said, I say again: I dare not answer you for fear of perjury, from which God defend me; or else I could tell you that there is a difference between oaths. Some be according to faith and charity, as the oath against the bishop of Rome: some be against faith and charity, as this, to deny my help to my brother in his need.”
But Bradford answered, that howsoever his honor took him, yet was he assured of his meaning, that no fear but the fear of perjury made him afeared to answer. “For as for death, my lord,” quoth he, “as I know there are twelve hours in the day, so with the Lord my time is appointed; and when it shall be his good time, then shall I depart hence: but in the mean season,” quoth he, “I am safe enough, though all the world had sworn my death. Into his hands I have committed it: his good will be done! And,” quoth Bradford, “saving mine oath, I will answer you in this behalf, that the oath against the bishop of Rome was not, nor is not, against charity.” “How prove you that?” quoth my lord chancellor. “Forsooth, ,” quoth Bradford, “I prove it thus: That is not against charity, which is not against God’s word; but this oath against the bishop of Rome’s authority in England is not against God’s word: therefore it is not against charity.” “Is it not against God’s word,” quoth my lord chancellor, “that a man should take a king to be supreme head of the church in his realm?” “No,” quoth Bradford, “saving still mine oath, it is not against God’s word, but with it, being taken in such sense as it may be well taken; that is, attributing to the king’s power the sovereignty in all his dominions.” “I pray you,” quoth the lord chancellor, “where find you that?” “I find it in many places,” quoth Bradford, “but specially in the thirteenth to the Romans, where St. Paul writeth, ‘every soul to be obedient to the superior power:’ but what power? Quae gladium gestat, ‘The power verily which beareth the sword;’ which is not the spiritual, but the temporal power: as Chrysostom full well noteth,” quoth Bradford, “upon the same place, which your honor knoweth better than I. He (Chrysostom I mean) there plainly sheweth that bishops, prophets, and apostles, owe obedience to the temporal magistrates.” Here yet more the lord chancellor was stirred, and said how that Bradford went about to deny all obedience to the queen for his oath; “and so,” quoth he, “this man would make God’s word a warrant of disobedience: for he will answer the queen on this sort, that, when she saith, ‘Now swear to the bishop of Rome, or obey his authority;’ ‘No,’ will he say, ‘for I am then forsworn;’ and so make the queen no queen.” “No,” quoth Bradford, “I go not about to deny all obedience to the queen’s highness by denying obedience in this part, if she should demand it. For I was sworn to king Edward, not simply (that is, not only concerning his own person), but also concerning his successors: and therefore in denying to do the queen’s request herein, I deny not her authority, nor become disobedient.” “Yes, that doest thou,” quoth my lord chancellor: and so he began to tell a long tale, how, if a man should make an oath to pay a hundred pounds by such a day, and the man to whom it was due would forgive the debt, the debtor would say, ‘No, you cannot do it; for I am forsworn then,’ etc.
Here Bradford desired my lord chancellor not to trifle it, saying that he wondered his honor would make solemn oaths made to God trifles in that sort; and make so great a matter concerning vows (as they call it) made to the bishop for marriage of priests.
At these words the lord chancellor was much offended, and said, he did not trifle; “but,” quoth he, “thou goest about to deny obedience to the queen, which now requireth obedience to the bishop of Rome.” “No, my lord,” quoth Bradford, “I do not deny obedience to the queen, if you would discern between genus and species . Because I may not obey in this, to reason, ergo I may not obey in the other, is not firm: as if a man let or sell a piece of his inheritance, yet, this notwithstanding, all his inheritance is not let or sold; and so in this case, all obedience I deny not, because I deny obedience in this branch.” “I will none of those similitudes,” said the lord chancellor. “I would not use them,” quoth Bradford, “if that you went not about to persuade the people I mean that which I never meant: for I myself not only mean obedience, but will give ensample of all most humble obedience to the queen’s highness, so long as she requireth not obedience against God.” “No, no,” quoth my lord chancellor, “all men may perceive well enough your meaning. There is no man, though he be sworn to the king, doth therefore break his oath, if afterwards he be sworn to the French king and to the emperor.” “It is true, my lord,” quoth Bradford: “but the cases be not like; for here is an exception, ‘Thou shalt not swear to the bishop of Rome at any time.’ If in like manner we were sworn, ‘Thou shalt not serve the emperor,’ etc., you see there were some alteration and more doubt. But,” quoth Bradford, “I beseech your honor remember what ye yourself have written, answering the objections hereagainst in your book, De vera obedientia. FC48 Vincat modo Domini verbi veritas : ‘Let God’s word and the reasons thereof bear the bell away’.” Here the lord chancellor was thoroughly moved, and said still how that Bradford had written seditious letters, and perverted the people thereby, and did stoutly stand as though he would defend the erroneous doctrine in king Edward’s time against all men: “and now,” quoth he, “he saith he dare not answer.” “I have written no seditious letters,” quoth Bradford, “I have not perverted the people: but that which I have written and spoken, that will I never deny, by God’s grace. And where your lordship saith, I dare not answer you; that all men may know I am not afraid, saving mine oath, ask me what you will, and I will plainly make you answer, by God’s grace, although I now see my life lieth thereon. But, O Lord!” quoth he, “into thy hands I commit it, come what come will: only sanctify thy name in me, as in an instrument of thy grace. Amen. “Now ask what you will,” quoth Bradford, “and you shall see I am not afraid, by God’s grace, flatly to answer.” “Well then,” quoth my lord chancellor, “how say you to the blessed sacrament? Do you not believe there Christ to be present concerning his natural body?” “My lord,” quoth Bradford, “I do believe Christ to be corporally present in his sacrament duly used: corporally I say, that is, in such sort as he would:
I mean, Christ is there corporally present unto faith.” “Unto faith,” quoth my lord chancellor: “we must have many more words to make it more plain.” “You shall so,” quoth Bradford; “but first give me leave to speak two words.” “Speak on,” quoth my lord chancellor. “I have been now a year and almost three quarters in prison,” quoth Bradford; “and of all this time you never questioned with me hereabouts, when I might have spoken my conscience frankly without peril: but now you have a law to hang up and put to death, if a man answer freely, and not to your appetite; and so you now come to demand this question. Ah, my lord,” quoth Bradford, “Christ used not this way to bring men to faith: no more did the prophets or the apostles. Remember what Bernard writeth to Eugenius the pope: Apostolos logo stetisse judicandos; sedisse judicantes non lego. Hoc erit, illud fuit, etc.: ‘I read that the apostles stood to be judged; but I read not that they sat to judge. This shall be, that was,’ “ etc.
Here the chancellor was appeased, as it seemed, and spake most gently that he used not this means. “It was not my doing, although some there be,” quoth he, “that think this to be the best way. I, for my part,” quoth he, “have been challenged for being too gentle oftentimes.” The which thing the bishop of London confirmed, and so did almost all the audience, that he “had been ever too mild and too gentle.”
As soon as he had spoken thus, the lord chancellor (belike thinking Bradford would have had mercy and pardon, as Cardmaker and Barlow had) said that with all his heart not only he, but the queen’s highness, would stretch out mercy, if with them he would return. “Return! my lord,” quoth Bradford: “God save me from that going back; I mean it not so: but I mean,” quoth he, “that I was three quarters of a year in the Tower without paper, pen, or ink; and never in all that time nor sithen did I feel any gentleness from you. I have rather looked for, as I have hitherto found, extremity. And,” quoth he, “I thank God I perceive now you have kept me in prison thus long, not for any matter you had, but for matter you would have. God’s good will be done.”
Here was now divers telling my lord it was dinner-time: and so he rose up, leaving Bradford speaking, and saying that in the afternoon they would speak more with him. And so was he had into the vestry, and was there all that day till dark night; and so was conveyed again to prison, declaring by his countenance great joy in God; the which God increase in him! THE EFFECT