THEY HAD RATHER DIE THAN LIE
Thomas Cranmer’s conscience bothered him because he had written something that was a lie. When he finally told the truth, he was sentenced to death. He was chained to a stake and the wood set afire. As he burned, his eyes were lifted up to heaven and he oft repeated “this unworthy right hand!” with which he had written his lies, then died.
George Marsh was ordered to recant what was the truth, but refused. At the stake, he was offered a last-minute pardon, but still refused to lie. They lit the fire, and after a long time of suffering, he suddenly lifted his arms and said, “Father of heaven have mercy upon me!” then died.
Anne Askew was told to recant the truth, but refused. She was executed “compassed in with flames of fire, leaving behind her a singular example of Christian constancy for all men to follow.”
Mrs. Prest said of one wanting her to lie to save her life, “I defy him and all his falsehood…trouble my conscience.” She was offered money, but rejected it. “That will I not. God forbid that I should lose the life eternal for this carnal and short life.” And she was burned at the stake.
Thomas Grantor was sentenced to death in England “to bear testimony to the truth of those principles which he had professed.” He was chained to a stake, burned alive “professing the truth with his last breath.”
John Brown was sentenced to death because he “persisted in his attachment to the truth to the last.” His feet were burned first, and then the rest of him burned, and he died.
John Stilincen was condemned to be burned at the stake, “willing to convince the world that he was ready to die for the truth.”
Nicholas Peke at the stake was given a chance to recant when half dead. “But he persisted in his adherence to the truth without paying any regard to the malice of his enemies; and he was burned alive, rejoicing.”
James Wishart was “too much enlightened with the truth…to be in the least moved.” At the place of his execution, he fell on his knees exclaiming, “Father of heaven, I commend my spirit into Thy holy hands.”
John Hooper refused to recant the truth to save his life. At his execution amidst the fire he prayed with a loud voice “Lord Jesus receive my spirit!”
(Excerpts from chapters 14-16, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)