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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Date Posted:
3/16/1998

Contents
Pre-Reformation
Reformation
Introduction
Latimer and Ridley
William Hunter
Cranmer - Hooper
Rose Allen
Events Today


William Hunter -- The Boy Martyr


Faithful Unto Death - Chapter 4
Rev W St Clair Taylor
Adapted By Professor Arthur Noble

I must also tell you about the Boy Martyr of Brentwood, and how he was called upon to witness with his life to the great truths of the Gospel. I was motoring through Brentwood, two days before these lines were written, when I noticed what appeared to be a memorial on the left hand side of the main London Road. I stopped my car and went over to this elegant looking monument, and this is what I read - and read again: -

"WILLIAM HUNTER. MARTYR. Committed to the Flames March 26th MDLV. Christian Reader, learn from his example to value the privilege of an open Bible. And be careful to maintain it."

"William Hunter was an apprentice who lived in the town of Brentwood. He loved the Word of God, for it was while reading it that he had found Jesus as his Saviour. It is always true that when we rejoice in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we can't help but love His Word. It was while he was reading this precious volume that he was discovered in the very act, and of course for the reasons I have already mentioned, the Roman Catholic Church regarded such as heretics - and there was only one thing to do with such disobedient people, and that was to put them to death. That is why young Hunter was brought before his judges and this is what took place:

"'Well,' said Master Brown, one of his persecutors, 'as you can expound so well, how say you to the twenty-second of St. Luke? Look here, for Christ saith that the bread is His Body.'

"Hunter answered: 'The text saith, that Christ took bread, but not that He changed it into another substance but gave that which He took, and brake that which He gave, which was bread, as is evident by the text; for otherwise he should have two bodies to affirm which I see no reason.'

"At this answer Brown was very angry, and took up the Bible, and turned the leaves, and flung it down again in a fury, and said: 'Thou naughty boy, wilt thou not take things as they are, but expound them as thou wilt? Does not Christ call bread His Body plainly, and thou wilt not believe that the bread is His Body after the consecration? Thou goest about to make Christ a liar.'

"...though Christ call the bread His Body, as He also says He is a vine, and in another place a door, yet is His body not turned into bread any more than He is turned into a door or a vine." "But Hunter answered: 'I mean not so, sir, but I mean rather more earnestly to search what is in the mind of Christ in that holy institution, in which He commends to us the remembrance of His death, passion, resurrection, and coming again, saying: "This do in remembrance of Me" - and also though Christ call the bread His Body, as He also says He is a vine, and in another place a door, yet is His body not turned into bread any more than He is turned into a door or a vine. Wherefore Christ called the bread His body by a figure!'

"Then Brown said: 'Thou art a villain, indeed! 'Wilt thou make Christ a liar still?' and was in such a fury with Hunter and so raged that Hunter could not speak a word.

"Wherefore, seeing him in such a fury, Hunter desired that he would either hear him quietly, and allow him to answer for himself, or else send him away.

"Brown answered: 'Indeed I will send thee tomorrow to my lord of London, and he shall have thee under examination' - so he wrote a letter immediately, and sent Hunter with a constable to Bonner, the Bishop of London, who commanded his men to put Hunter in the stocks in his gatehouse, where he sat two days and nights, with only a crust of brown bread and a cup of water.

"At the end of two days the Bishop came to him, and finding the cup of water and the crust of bread still by him on the stocks, he said to his men: 'Take him out of the stocks, and let him break his fast with you.' Then they let him out of the stocks, but would not let him eat with them, but called him a heretic.

"After breakfast the Bishop demanded whether He would recant, but Hunter refused.

"The Bishop said that he was no Christian, but that he denied the faith in which he was baptized; but Hunter answered: 'I was baptized in the faith of the Holy Trinity, which I will not go from, God assisting me with His grace.'

"'Well,' said the Bishop, 'you will be burned ere you be twenty years old, if you will not yield yourself better than you have done already.' "The Bishop then sent him to a convict prison and commanded the keeper to lay irons upon him, as many as he could bear; and asked how old he was. Hunter said he was nineteen years old.

"'Well,' said the Bishop, 'you will be burned ere you be twenty years old, if you will not yield yourself better than you have done already.'

"Hunter answered: 'God strengthen me in His truth.' The judges condemned the boy Hunter to the same sad fate as Rose Allen; but the night before his execution he was allowed to see his Father and Mother. How sad that meeting must have been, but I think William's Father and Mother must have been very proud of their boy.

"Now when it was day, the Sheriff set forth to the burning of William Hunter. Then came the Sheriff's son to him, and took him by the right hand, saying: 'William, be not afraid of these men who are here present, with blows, bills, and weapons prepared to bring you to the place where you shall be burned.' William answered: 'I thank God I am not afraid, for I have laid my account what it will cost me already.' At this the Sheriff's son could speak no more to him for weeping.

"Then William Hunter plucked up his gown and went forward cheerfully, the Sheriff's servant taking him by one arm, and his brother by the other. While on his way he met his Father, who spoke to his son, weeping and saying: 'God be with thee, son William'; and William answered: 'God be with you, good father, and be of good comfort; for I hope we shall meet again when we shall be happy.' His Father said: 'I hope so, William.' Then William went to the place where the stake stood, but the things were not ready, so he kneeled down, and read the fifty-first Psalm, till he came to these words: 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.'

Whereupon they replied: 'The translation is false. You translate books as you like yourselves, like heretics.' "Then said his persecutors: 'Thou liest; thou readest false; for the words are "an humble spirit"'; but William said: 'The translation saith, "a contrite heart"'. Whereupon they replied: 'The translation is false. You translate books as you like yourselves, like heretics.'

"'Well,' said William, 'there is no great difference in these words.' Then said the Sheriff: 'Here is a letter from the Queen. If thou wilt recant, thou shalt live; if not thou shalt be burned.' 'No,' answered William, 'I will not recant, God willing.' He was then secured to the stake with a chain.

"Then said William: 'Good People, pray for me; and make speed and despatch me quickly; and pray for me while you see me alive, good people, and I will pray for you likewise.'

"'What!' said one, 'pray for thee? I will pray no more for thee than I would pray for a dog.' William answered: 'Now you have that which you sought for; and I pray God, it be not laid to your charge in the last day. I forgive you.' Then said the other: 'I ask no forgiveness of thee.' 'Well,' said William, 'if God forgive you, I shall not require my blood at your hands.'

"He then prayed: 'Son of Gon, shine upon me!' and immediately the sun in the heavens shone out of a dark cloud so full in his face that he was constrained to look another way, whereat the people wondered, because it was so dark a little time before.

'Away, thou false prophet! Beware of them, good people, and come away from their abominations, lest you be partakers of their plagues.' "Then William, seeing the priest, and perceiving how he would show him the book, said: 'Away, thou false prophet! Beware of them, good people, and come away from their abominations, lest you be partakers of their plagues.' Then said the priest: 'As thou burnest here, so shalt thou burn in hell.' William answered: 'Thou lied, thou false prophet! Away, thou false prophet, away!'

"Then said a gentleman present: 'I pray God have mercy on his soul.' The people said: 'Amen, amen.' Upon this, fire was put to the faggots.

"Then William flung his Psalter into his brother's hands who said: 'William, think on the holy passion of Christ, and be not afraid of death.' William answered: 'I am not afraid.' Then he lifted up his hands to heaven and said: 'Lord, Lord, receive my spirit'; and casting down his head again into the smoke, he yielded up his life for the truth, sealing it with his blood to the praise of God."

Dear reader, I earnestly hope and pray that if you are called upon to witness for Jesus, you too may be given the courage of William Hunter and Rose Allen, the boy and girl martyrs.

"A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice
In robes of light arrayed.

"They climbed the steep ascent of Heav'n
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train."

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