The World’s Famous Orations, Vol 3

Author: Thomas Cranmer  | Date: 1556

Cranmer

On The Eve of His Execution*
(1556)

[After repeating the Lord’s Prayer, Cranmer continued.] Every man, good people, desireth at the time of his death to give some good exhortation, that others may remember the same before their death, and be the better thereby; so I beseech God grant me grace that I may speak something at this, my departing, whereby God may be glorified and you edified.

First, it is a heavy cause to see that so many folk so much dote upon the love of this false world, and be so careful for it, that of the love of God, or the world to come, they seem to care very little or nothing. Therefore, this shall be my first exhortation: That you set not your minds overmuch upon this deceitful world, but upon God, and upon the world to come, and to learn to know what this lesson meaneth which St.John teacheth, that the love of this world is hatred against God.

The second exhortation is: That next unto God you obey your king and queen willingly and gladly, without murmuring or grudging; not for fear of them only, but much more for the fear of God, knowing that they be God’s ministers, appointed by God to rule and govern you; and, therefore, whosoever resisteth them, resisteth the ordinance of God.

The third exhortation is: That you love altogether like brethren and sisters. For, alas! pity it is to see what contention and hatred one Christian man beareth to another, not taking each other as brother and sister, but rather as strangers and mortal enemies. But I pray you learn and bear well away this one lesson, To do good unto all men, as much as in you lieth, and to hurt no man, no more than you would hurt your own natural loving brother or sister. For this you may be sure of, that whosoever hateth any person, and goeth about maliciously to hinder or hurt him, surely, and without all doubt, God is not with that man, altho he think himself ever so much in God’s favor.

And now, forasmuch as I am come to the last end of my life, whereupon hangeth all my life past and all my life to come, either to live with my master Christ forever in joy, or else to be in pain forever with wicked devils in hell, and I see before mine eyes presently either heaven ready to receive me, or else hell ready to swallowme up; I shall therefore declare unto you my very faith how I believe, without any color of dissimulation, for now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have said or written in times past.

First, I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, etc. And I believe every article of the Catholic faith, every word and sentence taught by our Savior Jesus Christ, His apostles and prophets, in the New and Old Testament.

And now I come to the great thing which so much troubleth my conscience, more than anything that ever I did or said in my whole life, and that is the setting abroad of a writing contrary to the truth—which now I here renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand contrary to the truth2 which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and to save my life if it might be—and that is, all such bills and papers which I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand hath offended, writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for when I come to the fire, it shall be first burned.

And as for the Pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and anti-Christ, with all his false doctrine.

And as for the sacrament, I believe as I have taught in my book against the Bishop of Winchester, which my book teaeheth so true a doctrine of the sacrament, that it shall stand at the last day before the judgment of God, where the Papistical doctrine contrary thereto shall be ashamed to show her face.

* Printed here from Foxe’s "Book of Martyrs." Slightly abridged. Cranmer’s writings, in two volumes, edited for the Parker Society by the Rev. John Edmond Cox, were published in 1844–46.

2 A reference to the recantation, which he had signed, while imprisoned in the Tower.

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Chicago: Thomas Cranmer, The World’s Famous Orations, Vol 3 in The World’s Famous Orations, ed. William Jennings Bryan (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906), 20–23. Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=42BHK2PP6G3865V.

MLA: Cranmer, Thomas. The World’s Famous Orations, Vol 3, in The World’s Famous Orations, edited by William Jennings Bryan, Vol. The World#8217;s Famous Orations, New York, Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906, pp. 20–23. Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=42BHK2PP6G3865V.

Harvard: Cranmer, T, The World’s Famous Orations, Vol 3. cited in December, 1906, The World’s Famous Orations, ed. , Funk and Wagnalls, New York, pp.20–23. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=42BHK2PP6G3865V.