Chapter 16: Persecutions in England During the Reign of Queen Mary (41/48)

In this bleeding and helpless state was the suffering infant, covered only with his shirt, taken to his father by one of the actors in the horrid tragedy, who, while he exhibited the heart-rending spectacle, made use of the vilest taunts, and exulted in what he had done. The dutiful child, as if recovering strength at the sight of his father, on his knees implored his blessing. “Alas! Will,” said the afflicted parent, in trembling amazement, “who hath done this to thee!” the artless innocent related the circumstances that led to the merciless correction which had been so basely inflicted on him; but when he repeated the reproof bestowed on the chaplain, and which was prompted by an undaunted spirit, he was torn from his weeping parent, and conveyed again to the house, where he remained a close prisoner.

Bonner, somewhat fearful that what had been done could not be justified even among the bloodhounds of his own voracious pack, concluded in his dark and wicked mind, to release John Fetty, for a time at least, from the severities he was enduring in the glorious cause of everlasting truth! whose bright rewards are fixed beyond the boundaries of time, within the confines of eternity; where the arrow of the wicked cannot wound, even “where there shall be no more sorrowing for the blessed, who, in the mansion of eternal bliss shall glorify the Lamb forever and ever.” He was accordingly by order of Bonner, (how disgraceful to all dignity, to say bishop!) liberated from the painful bonds, and led from Lollard’s Tower, to the chamber of that ungodly and infamous butcher, where he found the bishop bathing himself before a great fire; and at his first entering the chamber, Fetty said, “God be here and peace!” “God be here and peace, (said Bonner,) that is neither God speed nor good morrow!” “If ye kick against this peace, (said Fetty), then this is not the place that I seek for.”

A chaplain of the bishop, standing by, turned the poor man about, and thinking to abash him, said, in mocking wise, “What have we here-a player!” While Fetty was thus standing in the bishop’s chamber, he espied, hanging about the bishop’s bed, a pair of great black beads, whereupon he said, “My Lord, I think the hangman is not far off: for the halter (pointing to the beads) is here already!” At which words the bishop was in a marvelous rage. Then he immediately after espied also, standing in the bishop’s chamber, in the window, a little crucifix. Then he asked the bishop what it was, and he answered, that it was Christ. “Was He handled as cruelly as He is here pictured!” said Fetty. “Yea, that He was,” said the bishop. “And even so cruelly will you handle such as come before you; for you are unto God’s people as Caiaphas was unto Christ!” The bishop, being in a great fury, said, “Thou art a vile heretic, and I will burn thee, or else I will spend all I have, unto my gown.” “Nay, my Lord, (said Fetty) you were better to give it to some poor body, that he may pray for you.” Bonner, notwithstanding his passion, which was raised to the utmost by the calm and pointed remarks of this observing Christian, thought it most prudent to dismiss the father, on account of the nearly murdered child. His coward soul trembled for the consequences which might ensue; fear is inseparable from little minds; and this dastardly pampered priest experienced its effects so far as to induce him to assume the appearance of that he was an utter stranger to, namely, MERCY.

The father, on being dismissed, by the tyrant Bonner, went home with a heavy heart, with his dying child, who did not survive many days the cruelties which had been inflicted on him.

How contrary to the will of our great King and Prophet, who mildly taught His followers, was the conduct of this sanguinary and false teacher, this vile apostate from his God to Satan! But the archfiend had taken entire possession of his heart, and guided every action of the sinner he had hardened; who, given up to terrible destruction, was running the race of the wicked, marking his footsteps with the blood of the saints, as if eager to arrive at the goal of eternal death.

Deliverance of Dr. Sands

This eminent prelate, vice-chancellor of Cambridge, at the request of the duke of Northumberland, when he came down to Cambridge in support of Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne, undertook at a few hours’ notice, to preach before the duke and the university. The text he took was such as presented itself in opening the Bible, and a more appropriate one he could not have chosen, namely, the three last verses of Joshua. As God gave him the text, so He gave him also such order and utterance that it excited the most lively emotions in his numerous auditors. The sermon was about to be sent to London to be printed, when news arrived that the duke had returned and Queen Mary was proclaimed.

The duke was immediately arrested, and Dr. Sands was compelled by the university to give up his office. He was arrested by the queen’s order, and when Mr. Mildmay wondered that so learned a man could wilfully incur danger, and speak against so good a princess as Mary, the doctor replied, “If I would do as Mr. Mildmay has done, I need not fear bonds. He came down armed against Queen Mary; before a traitor-now a great friend. I cannot with one mouth blow hot and cold in this manner.” A general plunder of Dr. Sands’ property ensued, and he was brought to London upon a wretched horse. Various insults he met on the way from the bigoted Catholics, and as he passed through Bishopsgate-street, a stone struck him to the ground. He was the first prisoner that entered the Tower, in that day, on a religious account; his man was admitted with his Bible, but his shirts and other articles were taken from him.

On Mary’s coronation day the doors of the dungeon were so laxly guarded that it was easy to escape. A Mr. Mitchell, like a true friend, came to him, afforded him his own clothes as a disguise, and was willing to abide the consequence of being found in his place. This was a rare friendship: but he refused the offer; saying, “I know no cause why I should be in prison. To do thus were to make myself guilty. I will expect God’s good will, yet do I think myself much obliged to you”; and so Mr. Mitchell departed.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 16

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