Sir John Oldcastle — from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

After John Wickliffe, the battle against the evil Pope of Rome, which they regarded as the great Antichrist of Europe, came to Sir John Oldcastle, knight, Lord Cobham, leader of the Lollards. The king at first supported him in his beliefs, but soon he gave into the church and insisted that Lord Cobham go to the Pope and be corrected.

So he submitted himself and was fully examined in what he and his brethren, the Lollards believed. And, as it was also with John Wickliffe, he spoke straight out boldly, even to call the Pope the Antichrist! So, he explained both how he believed and also how he did not believe in many of the doctrines of the Pope (the church at that time).

They required him to speak concerning four points: 1) On the sacraments; 2) on the need to join the Catholic church; 3) that the power of the Papacy was given to the church by St. Peter; and 4) on the requirement to go on a pilgrimage to view holy places, relics, and images, etc. To all these four points Lord Cobham gave them the wrong answer, but instead said that he saw no commandment of God in the Scriptures concerning any of those points. He also said, “I will no otherwise believe in these points than what I have told you here before. Do with me what you will.”

And with that answer the archbishop stood and read a bill of his condemnation. They charged that he was a heretic in his own person as well as a heretic of the church of Rome. They also denounced as many as were in favour of him and defended him.

To that condemnation Lord Cobham responded “with a most cheerful countenance:”

Though ye judge my body, which is but a wretched thing, yet am I certain and sure, that ye can do no harm to my soul, no more than could Satan unto the soul of Job.

Then, because of Lord Cobham’s good response, they feared that maybe they were too cruel in the eyes of the people and the king, so they gathered together to make him look bad. Well, after one false accusation did not work, they tried another. They set out to bring a pack of lies about him to the king and so to set the king against him. And it worked.

And so, the true Christians were betrayed both by the church of Rome and also by the king. And as it happened, the king ordered that all who read the Scriptures according to Wickliffe’s translation, would forfeit land, cattle, body, life and goods forever. And so, they were condemned as heretics and as enemies to the crown. And if they would not repent and recant, they would suffer death by hanging for treason against the king, and then be burned for heresy against God.

So, as it was, many of the Lollards did suffer cruel death. But many fled out of the land and to other countries. Lord Cobham also escaped and fled into Wales. But after four years they found him and brought him back to London. There he had his Arms bound behind him; and after he fell down upon his knees, he in prayer forgave his enemies; and then he stood and exhorted them in a godly manner to follow the laws of God. He was then hanged by the middle and also was consumed alive in fire. And all the while he was praising the name of God as long as his life lasted.

My Comments

As I thought about how the Papacy set out to make themselves look good and to make Lord Cobham look bad with lies, I thought about how this also happened at our Lord’s trial. It was the same. And it was by the same Pharisees. But it is also being done today. There are many evil doers like the Clinton’s and like the Obama’s and like the Biden’s. They are constantly telling lies in order to make themselves look good and others look bad. Yes, it is interesting how evil is repeated over and over again through the centuries. And it is so interesting how those in high positions take such great pains to plot their evil schemes. It was done many centuries ago, and it is still being done today. I think how President Trump was plotted against, saying that he was aided by Russia. And then, the latest and most damaging evil scheme is the voting fraud. And it seems that there is nothing stopping it—because there are so many ways that this evil is being done: by rigging the voting machines, by not counting votes, by duplicating votes, by counting the votes of the dead, by discarding ballots, etc.

And soon we will see true Christians being tormented and martyred just as was done in Rome and then by the church. Well, it is being done in some countries now by Muslims. But soon it will be done world-wide by the state and the church, by the Antichrist and also by the false church. Yes, as soon as the true church is taken up to God, these things will begin. I think this evil action is closer to us than we think.

John Wickliffe — from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

As mentioned in my last post on this subject, Constantine the Great stopped the persecutions for 1,000 years until John Wickliffe. However, it was through the doings of Constantine that the church became corrupted by the Romans as they successfully mixed the church with the evil Roman government (as they were corrupted by Babylonian influence by which much idolatry was introduced).

So it was, with this background, John Wickliffe came on the scene. This biblical scholar from England, the Lord raised up to detect and combat all the Pope’s false doctrine. Indeed, he had a challenge since the Pope managed to keep the true gospel and all of the bible out of the hands of the people. They did know the name of Christ, but they knew nothing of the apostle’s doctrine, such as justification by faith, the liberty of the Christian, the strength of sin, etc. Instead, the Pope’s main teaching was of ceremonies and traditions.

So it was, seemingly, that John Wickliffe alone took great pains to protest this false teaching of the Pope openly in the schools. And he was somewhat supported by the King—at least at first.

Oh, Wickliffe was a bold fellow, not afraid of the Papacy in the least. Here are a few points of Wickliffe’s sermons:

  • The holy eucharist is not the very body of Christ.
  • The church of Rome is not the head of all churches.
  • The Gospel is a rule sufficient of itself, without any other rule.
  • The Pope ought not to have prisons to punish transgressors.

Wickliffe, for his sermons, was commanded by the bishops to keep silence, but it was written that “he burst out afterward much more fiercely.” And he for his boldness got “the goodwill and favour of certain noblemen… [and] the common people.”

Then, in 1377, Pope Gregory, sent a letter (a bull) to the university of Oxford (where Wickliffe arrived from and taught at) and rebuked them for putting up with the teachings of Wickliffe. His words were quite fierce against Wickliffe: that he made “erroneous and false propositions…savoring even of heretical pravity, tending to weaken and overthrow the status of the whole church…” So, they were told, “By our authority you seize or cause to be seized the said John.” And then another letter was sent that he should be warned by public citation to appear before the Pope to be admonished.

Well, as it happened, by the miraculous grace of God, John Wickliffe managed to escape out of the bishops’ hands, by the aid one time of a great earthquake, and a second time by a lightning strike.

But yet, the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered a mandate against John Wickliffe that he was forbidden to preach “his heresies” against the church. But at the same time the chancellor in Oxford favoured Wickliffe and said that he was a good and innocent man. And so, it went like that back and forth.

Well, as it happened Wickliffe was secretly kept safe from the Pope and he died an old man. Yet he was declared a heretic and was cursed by the holy catholic church. And they set out to find his body and to burn his bones, but they could not find him; so they burned the bones of another man instead and said it was John Wickliffe.

Wickliffe became the father and leader of all those true Christians who would follow him. And though he was not martyred, all that followed him were martyred, as the Popes became more and more evil and not willing that any would escape from their grasp.