The Reformation in Britain
Letter to Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer
- John Bradford, Prebendary of St Paul's Cathederal in the 1500s. He was an English Reformer and martyr best remembered for his utterance, 'There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.' He was martyred in 1555. View all resources by John Bradford
Jesus Emmanuel. My dear fathers in the Lord, I beseech God our sweet Father, through Christ, to make perfect the good he has begun in us all. Amen.
I had thought that all your staves had stood next the door, but now it is otherwise perceived. Our dear brother Rogers has broken the ice valiantly; and as this day, I think, or tomorrow at the uttermost, hearty Hooper, sincere Saunders, and trusty Taylor, end their course, and receive their crown. The next am I, which hourly look for the porter to open for me the gates after them, to enter into the desired rest. God forgive me mine unthankfulness for this exceeding great mercy, that amongst so many thousands it pleases his mercy to choose me to be one in whom he will suffer. For although it is most true that I justly suffer, for I have been a great hypocrite, and a grievous sinneróthe Lord pardon me! yea, he has done it; he has done it indeed; yet, what evil has he done? Christ, whom the prelates persecute; his verity, which they hate in me, has done no evil, nor deserves death. Therefore ought I most heartily to rejoice of this dignation (being accounted worthy; this is a singular mercy of God to have death, which is a punishment due for sin, turned into a demonstration and testimony of the Lords truth; Letters of the Martyrs), and tender kindness of the Lord towards me, which uses this remedy for my sin, as a testimonial of his testament; to his glory, to my everlasting comfort, to the edifying of his church, and to the overthrowing of antichrist and his kingdom. Oh, what am I, Lord! that thou shouldest thus magnify me, so vile a man and miserable as I always have been? Is this thy wont, to send for such a wretch, and a hypocrite, as I have been, in a fiery chariot, as thou did for Elias? Oh, dear fathers! be thankful for me, and pray for me, that I still may be found worthy in whom the Lord would sanctify his holy name. And for your part, make you ready: for we are but your gentlemen-ushers. The marriage of the Lamb is prepared; come unto the marriage. I now go to leave my flesh there, where I received it. I shall be conveyed thither, as Ignatius was to Rome, by wild beasts (he means that he should be conveyed by the Queen's guard into Lancashire, to be burned as the adversaries had once determined; like as Ignatius was conveyed to Rome by a company of soldiers and cast to the wild beasts; Letters of the Martyrs), by whose evil I hope to be made better; God grant what I ask, if it be his will, it may make them better by me. Amen.
For my farewell, therefore, I write and send this unto you, trusting shortly to see you, where we shall never be separated; in the mean season, I will not cease, as I have done, to commend you to our Father in heaven, and I must heartily pray every one of you, that you would so do by me; you know now I have most need; but faithful is God, which will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength. He never did it hitherto, nor now, and I am assured he never will. Amen. He is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart shall rejoice; for he shall not leave my soul in hell, neither shall suffer me, his holy one, by his grace in Christ, to see corruption. Out of prison, in haste, looking for the tormentor.
The 8th of February, 1555.