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The history of the church may almost be said to be a history of the trials and sufferings of its members, as experienced at the hands of wicked men. At one time, persecution, as waged against the friends of Christ, was confined to those without; at another, schisms and divisions have arrayed brethren of the same name against each other.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book by John Foxe
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And scenes of cruelty and woe have been exhibited within the sanctuary, rivalling in horror the direst cruelties ever inflicted by pagan or barbarian fanaticism. This, however, instead of implying any defect in the gospel system, which breathes peace and love; only pourtrays in darker colours the deep and universal depravity of the human heart.
Pure and unsophisticated morality, especially when attempted to be inculcated on mankind, as essential to their preserving an interest with their Creator, have constantly met with opposition. It was this which produced the premature death of John the Baptist. It was the cutting charge of adultery and incest, which excited the resentment of Herodias.
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Who never ceased to persecute him, until she had accomplished his destruction. The same observation is equally applicable to the Jewish doctors, in their treatment of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In the sudden martyrdom of John the Baptist, and the crucifixion of our Lord, the history of christian martyrdom must be admitted to commence.
And from these, as a basis for the subsequent occurrences, we may fairly trace the origin of that hostility, which produced so lavish an effusion of christian blood, and led to so much slaughter in the progressive state of christianity. The first persecution of the church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome.
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This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants.
While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macænas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared, “That he wished the ruin of all things before his death.” Besides the noble pile, called the circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.
This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book
And the barbarities exercised on the christians were such as even excited the commisseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in the skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs till they expired.
And others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.
To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian; and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-labourer with him; Joseph, commonly called Barsabas; and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the seventy. Nerva, succeeding Domitian, gave a respite to the sufferings of the christians; but reigning only thirteen months. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book
His successor Trajan, in the tenth year of his reign A. D. 108, began the third persecution against the christians. While the persecution raged, Pliny 2d, a heathen philosopher wrote to the emperor in favor of the Christians; to whose epistle Trajan returned this indecisive answer: “The christians ought not to be sought after, but when brought before the magistracy, they should be punished.”
Trajan, however, soon after wrote to Jerusalem, and gave orders to his officers to exterminate the stock of David; in consequence of which, all that could be found of that race were put to death. Symphorosa, a widow, and her seven sons, were commanded by the emperor to sacrifice to the heathen deities.
She was carried to the temple of Hercules, scourged, and hung up, for some time, by the hair of her head: then being taken down, a large stone was fastened to her neck, and she was thrown into the river, where she expired. With respect to the sons, they were fastened to seven posts, and being drawn up by pullies, their limbs were dislocated. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book
These tortures, not affecting their resolution, they were martyred by stabbing, except Eugenius, the youngest, who was sawed asunder. Phocas, bishop of Pontus, refusing to sacrifice to Neptune, was, by the immediate order of Trajan, cast first into a hot lime-kiln, and then thrown into a scalding bath till he expired.
Trajan likewise commanded the martyrdom of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. This holy man was the person whom, when an infant, Christ took into his arms, and showed to his disciples, as one that would be a pattern of humility and innocence. He received the gospel afterward from St. John the Evangelist, and was exceedingly zealous in his mission.
He boldly vindicated the faith of Christ before the emperor, for which he was cast into prison, and tormented in a most cruel manner. After being dreadfully scourged, he was compelled to hold fire in his hands, and, at the same time, papers clipped in oil were put to his sides, and set on fire. His flesh was then torn with red hot pincers, and at last he was despatched by being torn to pieces by wild beasts. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book
Trajan being succeeded by Adrian, the latter continued this third persecution with as much severity as his predecessor. About this time Alexander, bishop of Rome, with his two deacons, were martyred; as were Quirinus and Hernes, with their families; Zenon, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other christians.
When the reformed religion began to diffuse the gospel light throughout church. He accordingly instituted a number of inquisitors, or persons who were to make inquiry after, apprehend, and punish, heretics, as the reformed were called by the papists. At the head of these inquisitors was one Dominic, who had been canonized by the pope, in order to render his authority the more respectable.
Dominic, and the other inquisitors, spread themselves into various Roman catholic countries, and treated the protestants with the utmost severity. In process of time, the pope, not finding these roving inquisitors so useful as he had imagined, resolved upon the establishment of fixed and regular courts of inquisition. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book
After the order for these regular courts, the first office of inquisition was established in the city of Thoulouse, and Dominic became the first regular inquisitor, as he had before been the first roving inquisitor. Courts of inquisition were now erected in several countries; but the Spanish inquisition became the most powerful, and the most dreaded of any.
Even the kings of Spain themselves, though arbitrary in all other respects, were taught to dread the power of the lords of the inquisition; and the horrid cruelties they exercised compelled multitudes, who differed in opinion from the Roman catholics, carefully to conceal their sentiments.
The most zealous of all the popish monks, and those who most implicitly obeyed the church of Rome, were the Dominicans and Franciscans: these, therefore, the pope thought proper to invest with an exclusive right of presiding over the different court of inquisition, and gave them the most unlimited powers, as judges delegated by him, and immediately representing his person. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Download
They were permitted to excommunicate, or sentence to death whom they thought proper, upon the most slight information of heresy. They were allowed to publish crusades against all whom they deemed heretics, and enter into leagues with sovereign princes, to join their crusades with their forces.
In 1244, their power was farther increased by the emperor Frederic the Second, who declared himself the protector and friend of all the inquisitors, and published the cruel edicts, viz. 1. That all heretics who continued obstinate, should be burnt. 2. That all heretics who repented, should be imprisoned for life.
This zeal in the emperor, for the inquisitors of the Roman catholic persuasion, arose from a report which had been propagated throughout Europe, that he intended to renounce christianity, and turn Mahometan; the emperor therefore, attempted, by the height of bigotry to contradict the report, and to show his attachment to popery by cruelty. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Download
The officers of the inquisition are three inquisitors, or judges, a fiscal proctor, two secretaries, a magistrate, a messenger, a receiver, a jailer, an agent of confiscated possessions; several assessors, counsellors, executioners, physicians, surgeons, doorkeepers, familiars, and visiters, who are sworn to secrecy.
If any denied the jurisdiction of the inquisitors at Venice, they were sent to Rome, where, being committed purposely to damp prisons, and never called to a hearing, their flesh mortified, and they died miserably in jail. A citizen of Venice, Anthony Ricetti, being apprehended as a protestant, was sentenced to be drowned in the manner we have already described.
A few days previous to the time appointed for his execution, his son went to see him, and begged him to recant, that his wife might be saved, and himself not left fatherless. To which the father replied, a good christian is bound to relinquish not only goods and children, but life itself, for the glory of his Redeemer. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Download
Therefore I am resolved to sacrifice every thing in this transitory world, for the sake of salvation in a world that will last to eternity. The lords of Venice likewise sent him word, that if he would embrace the Roman catholic religion, they would not only give him his life, but redeem a considerable estate which he had mortgaged, and freely present him with it.
This, however, he absolutely refused to comply with, sending word to the nobles that he valued his soul beyond all other considerations; and being told that a fellowprisoner, named Francis Sega, had recanted, he answered, if he has forsaken God, I pity him; but I shall continue steadfast in my duty.
Finding all endeavours to persuade him to renounce his faith ineffectual, he was executed according to his sentence, dying cheerfully, and recommending his soul fervently to the Almighty. What Ricetti had been told concerning the apostacy of Francis Sega, was absolutely false, for he had never offered to recant, but steadfastly persisted in his faith, and was executed. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Download
A few days after Ricetti, in the very same manner. Francis Spinola, a protestant gentleman of very great learning, being apprehended by order of the inquisitors, was carried before their tribunal. A treatise on the Lord’s supper was then put into his hands and he was asked if he knew the author of it.
To which he replied, I confess myself to be the author of it, and at the same time solemnly affirm, that there is not a line in it but what is authorized by, and consonant to, the holy scriptures. On this confession he was committed close prisoner to a dungeon for several days. Being brought to a second examination, He charged the pope’s legate.
And the inquisitors, with being merciless barbarians, and then represented the superstitions and idolatries practised by the church of Rome in so glaring a light, that not being able to refute his arguments, they sent him back to his dungeon, to make him repent of what he had said. On his third examination, they asked him if he would recant his errors! Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Free
To which he answered, that the doctrines he maintained were not erroneous, being purely the same as those which Christ and his apostles had taught, and which were handed down to us in the sacred writings. The inquisitors then sentenced him to be drowned, which was executed in the manner already described.
He went to meet death with the utmost serenity, seemed to wish for dissolution, and declaring, that the prolongation of his life did but tend to retard that real happiness which could only be expected in the world to come. Having preached before the king’s majesty, he was soon after made bishop of Gloucester.
In that office he continued two years, and behaved himself so well, that his very enemies could find no fault with him, and after that he was made bishop of Worcester. Dr. Hooper executed the office of a most careful and vigilant pastor for the space of two years and more, so long as the state of religion in king Edward’s time was sound and flourishing. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Free
After he had been cited to appear before Bonner and Dr. Heath, he was led to the Council, accused falsely of owing the queen money, and in the next year, 1554, he wrote an account of his severe treatment during near eighteen months’ confinement to the Fleet, and after his third examination, January 28, 1555, at St. Mary Overy’s, he, with the Rev.
Mr. Rogers, was conducted to the Compter in Southwark, there to remain till the next day at nine o’clock, to see whether they would recant. Come, brother Rogers, said Dr. Hooper, must we two take this matter first in hand, and begin to fry in these fagots? Yes, Doctor, said Mr. Rogers, by God’s grace. Doubt not, said Dr. Hooper, but God will give us strength.
And the people so applauded their constancy, that they had much ado to pass. January 29, bishop Hooper was degraded and condemned, and the Rev. Mr. Rogers was treated in like manner. At dark, Dr. Hooper was led through the city to Newgate; notwithstanding this secrecy, many people came forth to their doors with lights, and saluted him, praising God for his constancy. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Free
During the few days he was in Newgate, he was frequently visited by Bonner and others, but without avail. As Christ was tempted, so they tempted him, and then maliciously reported that he had recanted. The place of his martyrdom being fixed at Gloucester, he rejoiced very much, lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven.
And praising God that he saw it good to send him among the people over whom he was pastor, there to confirm with his death the truth which he had before taught them. On Feb. 7th, he came to Gloucester, about five o’clock, and lodged at one Ingram’s house. After his first sleep, he continued in prayer until morning.
And all the day, except a little time at his meals, and when conversing with such as the guard kindly permitted to speak to him, he spent in prayer. Sir Anthony Kingston, at one time Doctor Hooper’s good friend, was appointed by the queen’s letters to attend at his execution. As soon as he saw the bishop he burst into tears. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs PDF Book Free
With tender entreaties he exhorted him to live. “True it is,” said the bishop, “that death is bitter, and life is sweet: but alas! consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet.”