Eucharisticon Ioan. Foxi.
John Wade, University of Sheffield
To the Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Saviour, a Thanksgiving from John Foxe.
The task, which I first took on and started under your auspices, is now finished, most high and reverend Jesus, and likewise most merciful Saviour. I have finally completed and brought this to a close through your kindness and favour, certainly contrary to all expectations and my strength: and so it remains, in accordance with my duty, for this little soul, like a votive tablet, to give thanks, if not as great as it should be (would that this were possible), but as great as it is able, to your most bountiful majesty, which has so mercifully with fruitful success and relief supported so wretched a little man, or rather the mere skin of a man, being agitated with so many and such great toils as would wear out even some burden bearing donkey. But although there is no point in pleading the difficulty of the work, which will hardly be able to be appraised by many, yet your omnipotent majesty is not unaware that the completion of this business, such as it is, has cost me unbearable cares, sleeplessness and worries, to which we would in no way have been equal, if the divine will of your favouring grace had not shone upon me, and involved itself in some way or other with my work. For why should I not admit and frankly attest what we have experienced in the accusation? For we have seen clearly, and we have almost caught sight with our very eyes of the outstanding energy of your exalted right hand, not only in promoting the success of the matter, but also in preserving life and breath amid the toils. And so it is a mark of your gift, most merciful Jesus, that the task undertaken under your auspices, has been carried forward thus far: we in turn, as should be our duty, give thanks for your mercy, both privately in our own name, and in a manner publicly in the name of your church. It is from this fact, indeed, namely that you, with such great inclination, favour illustrating their name, that we perceive how much you value the cause of your martyrs. And yet, even if no record of them were to exist here, those whose names have been inscribed in the book of your life could not fail to be most illustrious in every way. But it was in this way that your majesty wanted to declare, and make known to us men, how honourable it is for those who are fighting bravely for the glory of your name to die, whose life you so liberate from the ash and the funeral pyre, whose cause you so protect and whose dignity you show, that it receives from you the same [life], much more distinguished with the advantage of glory, than if they themselves had never otherwise lost it. For the business of fighting in your service brings this special blessing, far removed from this world, that, whether they live fighting in your camp, they live for you, or whether they die, they become famous more fortunately from their death than if they had lived at all.[Back to Top]
In this way we see with how much greater glory Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, John Hooper, Bradford and the rest of the prize fighters in the same company, died fighting in your army, than if they had abandoned the posts in which they had been placed and put your cause after their own safety. For what people, what language, what nation, what old age of time, what posterity will not sing their praises, will not recognise their courage and will not admire their greatness. Who would have thought that Wickliff or Cobham had ever been born, if they had not acted so vigorously in your cause? How much honour did Huss of Bohemia and our own Tyndale have in the fact that they preferred to receive from you a life lost in the cause of your gospel than to keep it themselves. Let us look on the opposite side at your adversaries, of whom it is generally agreed that there were so many murders, injustices, cruelties against your own people, and likewise many crimes perpetrated secretly and wickedly by the same people, which they never expected would be publicly known; and yet what was ever designed by them in corners and in darkness so secretly against the Church, that your providence has not brought it out and will bring it out into the sunlight, and has brought it out in such a way that, where they themselves conceived in their hearts thoughts of praise, there they have acquired the utmost disgrace and reproach for themselves from which they will never be able to escape in life or end with death. Who does not now know of the Guises, the Bonners and the Storeys as the names of men accursed, and shudder? What day will obliterate their crimes, what memory bury them? And why do I list these men amid such a great crowd of your enemies? For whom has it ever been a success to rebel against your divine will or to profess himself to be an enemy to your Church? How celebrated and famous was the name of the Pope formerly in these lands? Now what is more rotten, what is more disgraceful? Initially men began to admire the eminence of Cardinals, and to honour it with much respect; likewise the houses of Monks and Nuns formerly had their own applause among the simple and credulous people. But after they had rejected your truth and begun to attack you, and become the murderers of your people, they finally slipped to such an extent that, save a few whom your grace exempted, the rest of the dregs seems to be nothing other than certain names left to disgrace.[Back to Top]
These, of course, our most holy Lord and God, are preludes to your most just judgement, and from this it cannot be difficult to gauge what those whom you load with such great infamy and disgrace in this world, that is in their own kingdom, are to expect in the next. But leaving these aside, let us return to your holy Martyrs, in whose name we rightly and constantly owe and keep as it were a sacrifice of praise and thanks to your goodness. First, because to those fighting in the cause of your church you have given such a brave and keen spirit and one which rises above all their tortures against the Papist murderers. Secondly, because the propitious favour of your mercy has been present also with us as we were sweating in compiling their history. There is also this private debt owed in my own name to your outstanding love, that you have wanted my life, which is otherwise so often weak, to be preserved through your kindness in this task and labour whose immensity you alone know. But we all equally owe this debt in particular to your boundless love towards us, that you have thought it worthy to recall to light anew and reveal to the notice of your church the cause and innocence, as if gathered again from the ash, of your blessed Martyrs, whom the perversity of this world reduced to flames and ashes. For although there is no doubt that in that final judgement of yours, when the virtues of heaven are moved, all their cases will be examined with the utmost diligence before your judgement seat, yet it is something that here also in your church should not be unknown, the case of these very people, their deeds, and the rest of the virtues their lives. Then a richer glory will abound for them, and in the meantime a greater fruit will abound for us, when from their righteous deeds, their integrity, their innocence, their faith and patience, it can generally be agreed not only what they themselves have done, but what must also be done by us through their example.[Back to Top]
But here again, sweetest Jesus, there is need of the kind protection of your favour. For we who are the sons of your Martyrs, and for whom it is particularly appropriate that we imitate our ancestors, now retain almost nothing of our parents, except this freedom of life alone which they left behind, having gained it with their blood: this also we most intemperately abuse, so that now there is the danger that we may not only not deserve to be the sons of the Martyrs, but not even their brothers. For assuredly it is shameful to report what a difference and what complete disharmony there is between our way of life and the path of discipline which they pursued. But why should I tell you, whose majesty perceives and examines everything? How much eagerness and concern did they have out of love for you to resign all other things and indeed themselves to contempt for life, to account the world with all its desires as of small importance, and to reject pleasures as mere trifles? And the dangers which were threatening them on all sides did not allow them to have time for amassing wealth, much less for accumulating honours. But our life now, our enthusiasm and all our exertion, on the contrary, what do they breathe except the world, what else do they seem other than a sort of perpetual lying in wait for and aspiring to ephemeral things, wealth and honours. But how splendidly those people would have thought things had turned out for them, if they had been allowed even to live. And on that account there were many among them who offered Queen Mary all their means and possessions as far as their last penny, if she would only give them back their conscience. And what folly of possession hounds us, for whom neither a single nor an insignificant way of life can be sufficient? Without measure, without end, we gape at riches, priesthoods and expanding property. With what great ambition do we wear out our friends and enemies, not only so that we may live, but that we may live exalted and honoured? Concerning their faith, concerning their clemency, endurance, innocence and unbelievable patience, what can sufficiently be said? With how much determination, with what eagerness of heart did they suffer whatever was inflicted, resigning all vengeance to God, to whom they also entrusted their cause. No power of their adversaries was able to dislodge them, nor threats break them, nor insults move them, nor dangers nor tortures subdue them, nor allurements flatter them.[Back to Top]
Let us now compare our weakness with these qualities. But shames prevents us, for what so light a breeze of temptation could blow upon us, which does not instantly rush us headlong and crosswise into greed, into pride, desires, dishonour, vengeance and all other evils? What so trivial a little injury can be offered, for which we do not mingle heaven with earth, and disturb the seas from the bottom? From this it is easy to gather how far away we are from ever undergoing death in your cause, if ever the situation were to demand martyrdom, when we are not even willing to cut off those ignoble passions at your command. Wherefore just as indeed we give thanks to your holy name for the sake of those martyrs, so we in turn pray on our own behalf, that you, who have bestowed on them the means of conquering, may assist us in like manner with the good fortune to imitate their pious examples, and that in this way your grace may shine on your church, so that nowhere seduced by the allurements of this world we ourselves should seem more lazy in preserving the victory of your gospel than those men seem energetic in establishing it. Finally, since we have embarked on this history with your assent and will and have put effort and eagerness into this matter, so that the deeds and achievements of your saints, most holy Jesus, might emerge to the glory of your name and public advantage of the church, add now fruit to the labour, and at the same time we earnestly beg you to take for yourself the protection of the history, to whom I commend, dedicate and consecrate with the whole of my body and soul and my strength both the work itself and the whole of myself, whom in so many ways I owe to your mercy, and before whom may every knee fall and every voice and tongue of confession give glory and make it resound throughout all the churches. Amen.[Back to Top]
COnfecto nunc opere, quod tuis primum auspiciis ac voluntate aggressus (summe et adorande Iesu, idemque Seruator clementissime) inchoaui, quodq; tuo demū beneficio ac fauore exegi atque absolui præter omnē certè opinionē et vires meas: superest itaque pro officio meo, vt animula hæc, ceu pro votiua tabula, gratias, si non quantas debeat (vtinam enim id posset) at quantas queat maxime, munificentissimæ tuæ persoluat maiestati: quæ tam miserum homuncionem, vel syphar potius hominis, in laboribus tot tantisque istis, qui vel asellum quemuis ἀχθοφόρον possent conficere, tumultuantē, benigno successu ac solatio tam clementer suffulcerit. Quanquā autem de operis difficultate nihil hic causari attinet, quæ vix æstimari à multis poterit: tua tamen nō ignorat omnipotens maiestas, huius, qualecunque sit, negocii confectio quibus quāq; non ferendis curis, vigiliis, molestiis constitit: Quibus nullo modo pares futuri essemus, nisi fauentis gratiæ tuæ numen affulsisset, ac sese quodā modo admiscuisset operi. Quid ni enim fatear ac tester ingenue, quod re ipsa experti sumus. Persensimus enim, penèque oculis ipsis conspeximus singularem excelsæ dexteræ utæ ἐνεργίαν, nō modo in succesu negocii prouehendo, sed in vita etiam spirituque inter labores, conseruando. Tui igitur mumeris est (clementissime Iesu) quod opus tuis susceptum auspiciis huc vsque prouectū sit: Nos vicissim quod nostri sit officii, gratias clementiæ tuæ, cum nostro priuatim, tum publico quodammodo ecclesiæ tuæ nomine, agimus. Vel hinc enim cernimus quanti causā martyrum tuorum æstimes, quando eorum illustrando nomini tāta faueas propensione. Quanquā vero si nulla hic extaret eorum recordatio, non possent non omnibus modis esse illustrissimi, quorum sint nomina vitæ tuæ libro inscripta. Et tamen voluit hoc modo tua declarare maiestas, nobisque innotescere hominibus, quám honorificum sit pro tui nominis gloria fortiter dimicantes occumbere, quorum tu vitā á cinere ac rogo sic vindicas, sic causam tueris, sic dignitatem illustras, vt eandem multo cum gloriæ fœnore abs te recipiat clariorem, quā si ipsi nunquā alioqui perdidissent. Habet siquidem peculiare hoc sibi militiæ tuæ ratio, longe á mondo hoc diuersum, quòd in castris tuis militantes siue viuant, tibi viuant, siue moriantur, multo clarescant a funere felicius, quám si vixissent maxime. Sic Cranmerum videmus, Ridleum, Latimerum, Iohānē Hoperum, Bradfordum, cæterosque eiusdem decuriæ pugiles, quanto maiore occubuisse cum gloria in acie tua depugnantes, quám si relicta statione, in qua erant collocati, saluti ipsi suæ causā tuā postposuissent. Quæ enim gens, quæ lingua, quæ natio, quæ temporū vetustas, quæ hominum posteritas eorum non cantabit laudes, non virtutem agnoscet, non magnitudinem admirabitur? Quis VVicleuum vnquam, aut Cobhamum natum fuisse existimasset, nisi tua in causa tam egissent strenue? Quanto honori illud Hussio Bohemensi, nostroque Tindallo fuit, quod vitam in Euangelii tui causa, perditam, magis abs te recipere, quam ipsi retinere maluerint? Spectemus é diuersa parte aduersarios tuos, quorum tam multas esse constat cædes, iniurias, crudelitates aduersus tuos, multaque item occulte et sceleste ab iisdem perpetrata, quæ nunquam sperabant fore palam: Et tamen quid vnquam in angulis et tenebris ab illis est designatū tam occulte aduersus Ecclesiam, quod non in apricum tua produxit producetq; prouidentia? atque ita produxit, vt vnde ipsi laudis sibi conceperunt animo opinionē, inde summū sibi ipsis dedecus pepererint et contumeliā, quā nec vita effugere, nec morte vnquam finire poterint. Quis Guisios, Boneros, Storios tanquam execranda hominū nomina nunc non nouit? non exhorret, quis eorū facinora obliterabit dies, aut sepeliet memoria? Et quid hos in tanta multitudine hostiū tuorū recēseo? Cui unquā prospere cessit tuo rebellare numini, aut hostē se ecclesiæ tuæ profiteri? Papæ nomen quàm erat aliquando in his terris celebre et gloriosū? Nunc quid putidius, quid probrosius? Cardinalitium fastigium cœperunt primo admirari homines, multaque prosequi reuerentia: Sic Monachorum et Nonnarum collegia suum quōdam habebant plausum apud plebem simplicem et credulam: At postquam spreta veritate tua cæperunt grassari contra te, tuorumq; homicidæ fieri, eo tandem sūt prolapsi (exceptis paucis quos tua exemit gratia) vt reliqua fex nihil aliud iam esse præter vocabula quædam ad ignominiam relicta videatur. Hæc nimirum (sanctissime domine ac deus noster) iustissimi iudicii tui sunt præludia, ex quo haud difficile æstimare fuerit, quidnam in altero illo expectaturi sint, quos in hoc ipso seculo, hoc est in[Back to Top]