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Apprehensions At Islington








In a retired close, near a field, in Islington, a company of decent
persons had assembled, to the number of forty. While they were
religiously engaged in praying and expounding the scripture,
twenty-seven of them were carried before Sir Roger Cholmly. Some of the
women made their escape, twenty-two were committed to Newgate, who
continued in prison seven weeks. Previous to their examination, they
were informed by the keeper, (Alexander,) that nothing more was
requisite to procure their discharge, than to hear mass. Easy as this
condition may seem, these martyrs valued their purity of conscience more
than loss of life or property; hence, thirteen were burnt, seven in
Smithfield, and six at Brentford; two died in prison, and the other
seven were providentially preserved. The names of the seven who suffered
were, H. Pond, R. Estland, R. Southain, M. Ricarby, J. Floyd, J.
Holiday, and R. Holland. They were sent to Newgate June 16, 1558, and
executed on the 27th.

The story of Roger Holland is the only one of these martyrs which has
been handed down to us. He was first an apprentice to one Mr. Kempton,
at the Black-Boy, Watling-street. He was, in every sense of the word,
licentious, a lover of bad company, and, more than all, a stubborn
determined papist--one of whom it might be said, that a miracle only
could effect his conversion. Dissipated as he was, his master had the
imprudent confidence to trust him with money; and, having received
thirty pounds on his master's account, he lost it at the gaming table.
Knowing it was impossible to regain his character, he determined to
withdraw to France or Flanders.--With this resolution, he called early
in the morning on a discreet servant in the house, named Elizabeth, who
professed the gospel, and lived a life that did honour to her
profession. To her he revealed the loss his folly had occasioned,
regretted that he had not followed her advice, and begged her to give
his master a note of hand from him acknowledging the debt, which he
would repay if ever it were in his power; he also entreated his
disgraceful conduct might be kept secret, lest it would bring the grey
hairs of his father with sorrow to a premature grave.

The maid, with a generosity and Christian principle rarely surpassed,
conscious that his imprudence might be his ruin, brought him the thirty
pounds, which was part of a sum of money recently left her by legacy.
"Here," said she, "is the sum requisite: you shall take the money, and I
will keep the note; but expressly on this condition, that you abandon
all lewd and vicious company; that you neither swear nor talk
immodestly, and game no more; for, should I learn that you do, I will
immediately show this note to your master. I also require, that you
shall promise me to attend the daily lecture at Allhallows, and the
sermon at St. Paul's every Sunday; that you cast away all your books of
popery, and in their place substitute the Testament and the Book of
Service, and that you read the Scriptures with reverence and fear,
calling upon God for his grace to direct you in his truth. Pray also
fervently to God, to pardon your former offences, and not to remember
the sins of your youth, and would you obtain his favour, ever dread to
break his laws or offend his majesty. So shall God have you in his
keeping, and grant you your heart's desire." We must honour the memory
of this excellent domestic, whose pious endeavours were equally directed
to benefit the thoughtless youth in this life and that which is to come.
May her example be followed by the present generation of servants, who
seek rather to seduce by vain dress and loose manners the youth who are
associated in servitude with them! God did not suffer the wish of this
excellent domestic to be thrown upon a barren soil; within half a year
after the licentious Holland became a zealous professor of the gospel,
and was an instrument of conversion to his father and others whom he
visited in Lancashire, to their spiritual comfort and reformation from
popery.

His father, pleased with his change of conduct, gave him forty pounds
to commence business with in London. Upon his return, like an honest
man, he paid the debt of gratitude, and, rightly judging that she who
had proved so excellent a friend and counsellor, would be no less
amiable as a wife, he tendered her his hand. They were married in the
first year of Mary, and a child was the fruit of their union, which Mr.
Holland caused to be baptised by Mr. Ross in his own house. For this
offence he was obliged to fly, and Bonner, with his accustomed
implacability, seized his goods, and ill-treated his wife. After this,
he remained secretly among the congregations of the faithful, till the
last year of queen Mary, when he, with six others was taken not far from
St. John's Wood, and brought to Newgate upon May-day, 1558.

He was called before the bishop, Dr. Chedsey, the Harpsfields, &c. Dr.
Chedsey expressed much affection for him, and promised he should not
want any favour that he or his friends could procure, if he would not
follow his conceit. This was seconded by squire Eaglestone, a gentleman
of Lancashire, and a near kinsman of Holland's, who said, "I am sure
your honour means good to my cousin. I beseech God he may have the grace
to follow your counsel." Holland directly replied, "Sir, you crave of
God you know not what. I beseech of God to open your eyes to see the
light of his blessed word." After some private communication among the
commissioners, Bonner said, "I perceive, Roger, you will not be ruled by
any counsel that I or my friends can give."

The following speech of Mr. Holland we are induced to give unabridged,
as it contains a pointed charge, founded on the sins resulting from
false doctrines; and, besides, is in itself a well-digested and just
attack upon the tenets of popery.

"I may say to you, my lord, as Paul said to Felix and to the Jews, in
the 22d of the Acts, and in the 15th of the first epistle to the
Corinthians. It is not unknown to my master, to whom I was apprenticed,
that I was of your blind religion--that which now is taught, and that I
obstinately and wilfully remained in it, till the latter end of king
Edward. Having liberty under your auricular confession, I made no
conscience of sin, but trusted in the priests' absolution, who for money
did also some penance for me; which after I had given, I cared no
farther what offences I did, no more than he did after he had my money,
whether he tasted bread and water for me, or not: so that lechery,
swearing, and all other vices, I accounted no offence of danger, so long
as I could for money have them absolved. So straitly did I observe your
rules of religion, that I would have ashes upon Ash Wednesday, though I
had used ever so much wickedness at night. Though I could not in
conscience eat flesh upon the Friday, yet I made no conscience at all of
swearing, drinking, or gaming all night long: thus I was brought up, and
herein I have continued till now of late, when God hath opened the light
of his word, and called me by his grace to repent of my former idolatry
and wicked life; for in Lancashire their blindness and whoredom is much
more, than may with chaste ears be heard. Yet these my friends, who are
not clear in these notable crimes, think the priest with his mass can
save them, though they blaspheme God, and keep concubines besides their
wives, as long as they live. Yea, I know some priests, very devout, my
lord, yet such have six or seven children by four or five sundry women.

"Mr. Doctor, as to your antiquity, unity, and universality, (for these
Dr. Chedsey alleged as notes and tokens of their religion,) I am
unlearned. I have no sophistry to shift my reasons with; but the truth I
trust I have, which needs no painted colours to set her forth. The
antiquity of our church is not from pope Nicholas, nor pope Joan, but
our church is from the beginning, even from the time that God said unto
Adam, that the seed of the woman should break the serpent's head; and so
to faithful Noah; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom it was promised,
that their seed should multiply as the stars in the sky; and so to
Moses, David, and all the holy fathers that were from the beginning unto
the birth of our Saviour Christ. All who believed these promises were of
the church, though the number was oftentimes but few and small, as in
Elias' days, who thought he was the only one that had not bowed the knee
to Baal, when God had reserved seven thousand that never had bowed their
knees to that idol: as I trust there be seven hundred thousand more than
I know of, that have not bowed their knee to that idol your mass, and
your God Maozim; in the upholding of which is your bloody cruelty while
you daily persecute Elias and the servants of God, forcing them (as
Daniel was in his chamber) closely to serve the Lord their God; and even
as we by this your cruelty are forced in the fields to pray unto God,
that his holy word may be once again truly preached amongst us, and that
he would mitigate and shorten these idolatrous and bloody days wherein
all cruelty reigns. Moreover, of our church have been the apostles and
evangelists, the martyrs and confessors of Christ, who have at all times
and in all ages been persecuted for the testimony of the word of God.
But for the upholding of your church and religion, what antiquity can
you show? The mass indeed, that idol and chief pillar of your religion,
is not yet four hundred years old, and some of your masses are younger,
as that of St. Thomas a Becket, the traitor, wherein you pray, That you
may be saved by the blood of St. Thomas. And as for your Latin service,
what are we of the laity the better for it? I think if any one were to
hear your priests mumble up their service, although he well understood
Latin, yet he would understand very few words of it, the priests so
champ them and chew them, and post so fast, that they neither understand
what they say, nor they that hear them; and in the mean time the people,
when they should pray with the priest, are set to their beads to pray
our Lady's Psalter. So crafty is Satan to devise these his dreams,
(which you defend with fagot and fire,) to quench the light of the word
of God; which, as David saith, should be a lantern to our feet. And
again, Wherein shall a young man direct his way, but by the word of
God? and yet you will hide it from us in a tongue unknown. St. Paul had
rather have five words spoken with understanding, than ten thousand in
an unknown tongue, and yet will you have your Latin service and praying
in a strange tongue, whereof the people are utterly ignorant, to be of
such antiquity.

"The Greek church, and a good part of Christendom besides, never
received your service in an unknown tongue, but in their own natural
language, which all the people understand; neither your
transubstantiation, your receiving in one kind, your purgatory, your
images, &c.

"As for the unity which is in your church, what is it but treason,
murder, poisoning one another, idolatry, superstition, and wickedness?
What unity was in your church, when there were three popes at once?
Where was your head of unity when you had a woman pope?" Here he was
interrupted, and was not suffered to proceed. The bishop said his words
were blasphemous, and ordered the keeper to take him away. Bonner
observing, on his second examination, that Holland said, he was willing
to be instructed by the church, (meaning the true church,) he ordered
the keeper to let him want for nothing, not even for money, by which
conduct he hoped to inveigle him from the truth. This, however, upon his
last examination did not produce the intended effect. Bonner spoke very
handsomely to him, and assured him his former hasty answers should not
operate against him, as he himself (the bishop) was sometimes too hasty,
but it was soon over; he further said, that he should have consigned him
to his own ordinary for examination, but for the particular interest he
took in his welfare, for his and his friends' sake. From this exordium
he proceeded to the touchstone question of the real presence in the
mass.

"Do you not believe, that, after the priest hath spoken the words of
consecration, there remains the body of Christ, really and corporeally
under the forms of bread and wine? I mean the self-same body as was born
of the Virgin Mary, that was crucified upon the cross, that rose again
the third day." Holland replied, "Your lordship saith, the same body
which was born of the Virgin Mary, which was crucified upon the cross,
which rose again the third day: but you leave out 'which ascended into
heaven;' and the Scripture saith, He shall remain until he come to judge
the quick and the dead. Then he is not contained under the forms of
bread and wine, by Hoc est corpus meum, &c."

Bonner, finding no impression could be made upon his firmness, and that
he himself could not endure to hear the mass, transubstantiation, and
the worshipping the sacrament, denominated impious and horrid idolatry,
pronounced the condemnatory sentence, adjudging him to be burnt.

During this fulmination, Holland stood very quiet, and when he was about
to depart, he begged permission to speak a few words. The bishop would
not hear him, but, at the intercession of a friend, he was permitted.
In the following speech, there is a spirit of prophecy which entitles it
to particular attention; they were not the words of a random enthusiast,
but of one to whom God seems to have given an assurance, that the
present abject state of his faithful people should shortly be altered.





Next: Holland Even Now I Told You That Your Authority Was From God And By

Previous: Thomas Hudson Thomas Carman And William Seamen



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