Should you go First
"Be of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man, we shall this day light such a candle, by god's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out".
Princess Mary ascended the throne of England in July 1553 after the death of Edward VI and the ill fated attempt to have the young Lady Jane Grey become Queen. Mary the daughter of Catherine of Arragon and Henry VIII had a hatred for the Reformation and the protestant ministers of the gospel. Two of these noble servants of Christ, were Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. Andrew Miller tells the story of their martyrdom:
'Having been examined by the queen's commissioners at Oxford on the charge of heresy, they were condemned to be burnt as obstinate heretics. They were old, learned, and greatly esteemed as ministers of Christ; Latimer was eighty-four, and had been one of the most eloquent preachers in England. They were sent back to prison, where they were detained nearly twelve months, the sentence of death hanging over them. In October 1555, an order was issued for the execution of Ridley and Latimer. They were led to the city ditch, over against Balliol college. After spending a few moments in prayer, they were fastened to the stake. The torch was first applied to the faggots around Ridley. The dear old Latimer addressed his companion in words still fresh, after three centuries, as on the day on which they were uttered: "BE OF GOOD COMFORT, MASTER RIDLEY, AND PLAY THE MAN, WE SHALL THIS DAY LIGHT SUCH A CANDLE, BY GOD'S GRACE, IN ENGLAND, AS I TRUST SHALL NEVER BE PUT OUT". They both leaned forward as if to embrace the flames-the chariot of fire that was to carry them to heaven-their happy souls soon departed to be for ever with the Lord. Quietly have they been reposing on that heart of eternal love these three hundred years, and there they will rest until the morning of the first resurrection when the sleeping dust of God's redeemed shall be raised and their bodies fashioned like unto Christ's body of glory, "according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself".
Miller's Church History
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing".
Peace like a river is flooding my soul,
Andrew Miller in his Church History relates: 'the simple story' of Martin Luther's conversion as follows:
'One day, as he lay, overwhelmed with despair, he was visited by an old monk, who spoke to him of the way of peace. Won by the kindness of his words, Luther opened his heart to him. The venerable father spoke to him of the efficacy of faith, and repeated to him that article in the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins". These few simple words, with the Lord's blessing, seem to have turned the mind of Luther from works to faith. He had been familiar with the form of these words from his childhood, but he had only repeated them as a form of words, like thousands of nominal Christians in all ages. Now they filled his heart with hope and consolation. The old monk, hearing him repeating the words to himself, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins", as if to fathom their depth, interrupted him by saying that it was not a mere general but a personal belief. I believe in the forgiveness, not merely of David's sins, or of Peter's sins, but of my sins. Even the devils have a general but not a personal belief. "Hear what St. Bernard says", added the pious old monk, "The testimony of the Holy Ghost to thy heart is this, thy sins are forgiven thee". From this moment divine light entered the heart of Luther, and, step by step, through the diligent study of the word and prayer, he became a great and honoured servant of the Lord'.
Miller's Church History
There’s nothing like the old, old story,
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword...
In Psalm 11, because of the activities of the wicked, the question is asked: ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ (v 3). David gives us the answer: ‘In the LORD put I my trust… The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven… For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright’ (vs 1, 4 & 7). Our faith is in our unchanging God who reigns overall and our assurance is that He is on His throne and in ultimate control ever watching over His people. The chorus of a hymn says it simply:
God is still on the throne,
And He will remember His own;
Tho’ trials may press us and burdens distress us,
He never will leave us alone;
God is still on the throne,
He never forsaketh His own;
His promise is true, He will not forget you,
God is still on the throne.
Thus says the Lord: