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Richard Sharpe Thomas Banion And Thomas Hale

Mr. Sharpe, weaver, of Bristol, was brought the 9th day of March, 1556,
before Mr. Dalby, chancellor of the city of Bristol, and after
examination concerning the sacrament of the altar, was persuaded to
recant; and on the 29th, he was enjoined to make his recantation in the
parish church. But, scarcely had he publicly avowed his backsliding,
before he felt in his conscience such a tormenting fiend, that he was
unable to work at his occupation; hence, shortly after, one Sunday, he
came into the parish church, called Temple, and after high mass, stood
up in the choir door, and said with a loud voice, "Neighbours, bear me
record that yonder idol (pointing to the altar) is the greatest and most
abominable that ever was; and I am sorry that ever I denied my Lord
God!" Notwithstanding the constables were ordered to apprehend him, he
was suffered to go out of the church; but at night he was apprehended
and carried to Newgate. Shortly after, before the chancellor, denying
the sacrament of the altar to be the body and blood of Christ, he was
condemned to be burned by Mr. Dalby. He was burnt the 7th of May, 1558,
and died godly, patiently, and constantly, confessing the protestant
articles of faith.

With him suffered Thomas Hale, shoemaker, of Bristol, who was condemned
by chancellor Dalby. These martyrs were bound back to back.

Thomas Banion, a weaver, was burnt on August 27th, of the same year, and
died for the sake of the evangelical cause of his Saviour.

J. Corneford, of Wortham; C. Browne, of Maidstone; J. Herst, of
Ashford; Alice Snoth, and Catharine Knight, an aged woman.

With pleasure we have to record that these five martyrs were the last
who suffered in the reign of Mary for the sake of the protestant cause;
but the malice of the papists was conspicuous in hastening their
martyrdom, which might have been delayed till the event of the queen's
illness was decided. It is reported that the archdeacon of Canterbury,
judging that the sudden death of the queen would suspend the execution,
travelled post from London, to have the satisfaction of adding another
page to the black list of papistical sacrifices.

The articles against them were, as usual, the sacramental elements and
the idolatry of bending to images. They quoted St. John's words, "Beware
of images!" and respecting the real presence, they urged according to
St. Paul, "the things that be seen are temporal." When sentence was
about to be read against them, and excommunication take place in the
regular form, John Corneford, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, awfully
turned the latter proceeding against themselves, and in a solemn
impressive manner, recriminated their excommunication in the following
words: "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the most mighty
God, and by the power of his holy Spirit, and the authority of his holy
catholic and apostolic church, we do here give into the hands of Satan
to be destroyed, the bodies of all those blasphemers and heretics that
maintain any error against his most holy word, or do condemn his most
holy truth for heresy, to the maintenance of any false church or foreign
religion, so that by this thy just judgment, O most mighty God, against
thy adversaries, thy true religion may be known to thy great glory and
our comfort and to the edifying of all our nation. Good Lord, so be it.

This sentence was openly pronounced and registered, and, as if
Providence had awarded that it should not be delivered in vain, within
six days after, queen Mary died, detested by all good men and accursed
of God! Though acquainted with these circumstances, the archdeacon's
implacability exceeded that of his great exemplary, Bonner, who, though
he had several persons at that time under his fiery grasp, did not urge
their deaths hastily, by which delay he certainly afforded them an
opportunity of escape. Father Lining and his wife, with several others,
thus saved their lives, who, had they been under the barbarous
archdeacon, must inevitably have perished. At the queen's decease, many
were in bonds: some just taken, some examined, and others condemned. The
writs indeed were issued for several burnings, but by the death of the
three instigators of protestant murder,--the chancellor, the bishop, and
the queen, who fell nearly together, the condemned sheep were liberated,
and lived many years to praise God for their happy deliverance.

These five martyrs, when at the stake, earnestly prayed that their blood
might be the last shed, nor did they pray in vain. They died gloriously,
and perfected the number God had selected to hear witness of the truth
in this dreadful reign, whose names are recorded in the Book of
Life;--though last, not least among the saints made meet for immortality
through the redeeming blood of the Lamb!

Catharine Finlay, alias Knight, was first converted by her son's
expounding the Scriptures to her, which wrought in her a perfect work
that terminated in martyrdom. Alice Snoth at the stake sent for her
grandmother and godfather, and rehearsed to them the articles of her
faith, and the commandments of God, thereby convincing the world that
she knew her duty. She died calling upon the spectators to bear witness
that she was a Christian woman, and suffered joyfully for the testimony
of Christ's gospel.

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