The Rev Mr Lawrence Saunders





Mr. Saunders after passing some time in the school of Eaton, was chosen

to go to King's college in Cambridge, where he continued three years,

and profited in knowledge and learning very much for that time shortly

after he quitted the university, and went to his parents, but soon

returned to Cambridge again to his study, where he began to add to the

knowledge of the Latin, the study of the Greek and Hebrew tongues, and

gave himself up to the study of the holy scriptures, the better to

qualify himself for the office of preacher.



In the beginning of king Edward's reign, when God's true religion was

introduced, after license obtained, he began to preach, and was so well

liked of them who then had authority, that they appointed him to read a

divinity lecture in the college of Fothringham. The college of

Fothringham being dissolved, he was placed to be a reader in the minster

at Litchfield. After a certain space, he departed from Litchfield to a

benefice in Leicestershire, called Church-langton, where he held a

residence, taught diligently, and kept a liberal house. Thence he was

orderly called to take a benefice in the city of London, namely,

All-hallows in Bread-street.--After this he preached at Northampton,

nothing meddling with the state, but boldly uttering his conscience

against the popish doctrines which were likely to spring up again in

England, as a just plague for the little love which the English nation

then bore to the blessed word of God, which had been so plentifully

offered unto them.



The queen's party, who were there, and heard him, were highly displeased

with him for his sermon, and for it kept him among them as a prisoner.

But partly for love of his brethren and friends, who were chief actors

for the queen among them, partly because there was no law broken by his

preaching, they dismissed him.



Some of his friends, perceiving such fearful menacing, counselled him to

fly out of the realm, which he refused to do. But seeing he was with

violence kept from doing good in that place, he returned towards London,

to visit his flock.



In the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 15, 1554, as he was reading in his

church to exhort his people, the bishop of London interrupted him, by

sending an officer for him.



His treason and sedition the bishop's charity was content to let slip

until another time, but a heretic he meant to prove him, and all those,

he said, who taught and believed that the administration of the

sacraments, and all orders of the church, are the most pure, which come

the nearest to the order of the primitive church.



After much talk concerning this matter, the bishop desired him to write

what he believed of transubstantiation. Laurence Saunders did so,

saying, "My Lord, you seek my blood, and you shall have it: I pray God

that you may be so baptised in it that you may ever after loathe

blood-sucking, and become a better man." Upon being closely charged with

contumacy, the severe replies of Mr. Saunders to the bishop, (who had

before, to get the favour of Henry VIII. written and set forth in print,

a book of true obedience, wherein he had openly declared queen Mary to

be a bastard) so irritated him, that he exclaimed, Carry away this

frenzied fool to prison.



After this good and faithful martyr had been kept in prison one year and

a quarter, the bishops at length called him, as they did his

fellow-prisoners, openly to be examined before the queen's council.



His examination being ended, the officers led him out of the place, and

staid until the rest of his fellow-prisoners were likewise examined,

that they might lead them all together to prison.



After his excommunication and delivery over to the secular power, he was

brought by the sheriff of London to the Compter, a prison in his own

parish of Bread-street, at which he rejoiced greatly, both because he

found there a fellow-prisoner, Mr. Cardmaker, with whom he had much

christian and comfortable discourse; and because out of prison, as

before in his pulpit, he might have an opportunity of preaching to his

parishioners. The 4th of February, Bonner, bishop of London, came to the

prison to degrade him; the day following, in the morning the sheriff of

London delivered him to certain of the queen's guard, who were appointed

to carry him to the city of Coventry, there to be burnt.



When they had arrived at Coventry, a poor shoemaker, who used to serve

him with shoes, came to him, and said, O my good master, God strengthen

and comfort you. Good shoemaker, Mr. Saunders replied, I desire thee to

pray for me, for I am the most unfit man for this high office, that ever

was appointed to it; but my gracious God and dear Father is able to make

me strong enough. The next day, being the 8th of February, 1555, he was

led to the place of execution, in the park, without the city; he went in

an old gown and a shirt, bare-footed, and oftentimes fell flat on the

ground, and prayed. When he was come nigh to the place, the officer,

appointed to see the execution done, said to Mr. Saunders, that he was

one of them who married the queen's realm, but if he would recant, there

was pardon for him. "Not I," replied the holy martyr, "but such as you

have injured the realm. The blessed gospel of Christ is what I hold;

that do I believe, that have I taught, and that will I never revoke!"

Mr. Saunders then slowly moved towards the fire, sank to the earth and

prayed; he then rose up, embraced the stake, and frequently said,

"Welcome, thou cross of Christ! welcome everlasting life!" Fire was then

put to the fagots, and, he was overwhelmed by the dreadful flames, and

sweetly slept in the Lord Jesus.





The Rev Mr George Marsh The Rev Robert Samuel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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