Marking The Martyrdoms Of Latimer, Ridley And Cranmer
On Saturday 15th October, to mark the 450th anniversary of the deaths of Oxford Martyrs, Bishops Latimer, Ridley and Archbishop Cranmer, an open-air witness was conducted in Oxford city centre.
Jonathan Hewett and Colin Tyler of Wollaston Evangelical Church in Stourbridge, travelled to Oxford to preach the gospel and distribute tracts. Arriving around noon, we stationed ourselves at first near the Martyrs memorial near to St. John’s College. Spending about an hour here, we passed out many tracts but found the traffic noise level not conducive to preaching. A brief conversation, however, was had with two students of Old Testament prophecy from the U.S.A. about the importance of the day and our personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were polite and seemed receptive.
We then moved around the corner into Broad Street, where a stone cross set into the centre of the road and a memorial stone set in a nearby wall mark the very spot where God’s dear saints gave their lives for Christ and His gospel on October 15th 1555 and March 21st 1556.
Our first text was taken from Jeremiah chapter thirty-eight and verse twenty, “Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.”
Commenting upon this text and addressing our opening remarks mainly to the many passing students, we pointed out that having Christ in our hearts was a far greater need than having mere facts in our heads. Learning may be good, but to obey the voice of the Lord is essential. Some sitting in nearby doorways were clearly paying attention and some passers-by stopped briefly to listen.
We found great delight in informing the people of the significance of the cross inlaid into the road surface. It was a joy to speak loudly and publicly of Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer. During the course of the afternoon many people stopped to ask us for more information about the martyrs.
After a break for lunch we returned again to Broad Street. Jonathan Hewett read aloud from J. C. Ryle’s account of the burnings of Latimer and Ridley, which seemed to go forth with power. Brother Jonathan then took a text from Lamentations chapter one and verse twelve, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?” Preaching on this text and referring both to the martyrs and the cross of Christ, Jonathan lovingly challenged the people over their ignorance and indifference. We believe this preaching was owned of God, Jonathan preaching with such passion and energy that he lost his voice.
The reality of tangible memorials, the significance of the day, and the sense of God’s blessing seemed to work together to bring the momentous and moving deaths of his servants afresh before us. We told our fluctuating audience that it was for the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that they yielded their lives. We believe some hearts must have been touched.
The liberty and freedom that we enjoyed to witness freely in Broad Street and at the Memorial was just a little marred by the awareness that no other Christians from the entire British Isles appeared to have been moved to come and witness in commemoration of the great occasion. We are grateful to all the brethren who were remembering us specifically in their prayers.
Taken with permission from the English Churchman Fridays 11 and 18 November 2005, 64 Ripley Road, Worthing, BN11 5NH
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