1. Letters from Jane Grey to Henry Bullinger (translated from Latin)
Learned Sir, I give you, as I shall continue to do while I live, unceasing thanks; but cannot engage ever to requite your kindness, since it does not appear that I possess the ability of making suitable returns for it; unless, indeed, you should be of opinion that I return a favour while I treasure it in memory. These professions of gratitude are not made without cause. I have received from you a profound and eloquent epistle which has proved highly grateful to me, not only in regard to your condescension in writing from a distant country, and under the pressure of years, to me who am unworthy of your notice; but also because your writings are of no ordinary cast, not calculated merely to amuse, but abound in pious and divine thoughts, fit for instruction, admonition and consolation, and especially suited to my age, sex and rank in life. In this epistle, as in all those which you have published to the edification of the Christian community, you have shewn yourself not only a scholar of singular erudition, but also a skilful, prudent, and pious counsellor, a man who can relish nothing which is not excellent; think nothing which is not divine; enjoin nothing which is not profitable; and do nothing which is not virtuous, pious, and worthy of so venerable a father. O happy me, who am favoured with such a friend, and so wise a counsellor! for as Solomon says ‘in the multitude of counsellors there is safety’, and who am connected by the ties of friendship and intimacy, with so pious a divine, and so intrepid a champion of true religion. On many accounts I consider myself indebted to God, the greatest and best of beings, but especially for having, after I was bereaved of the pious Bucer, that most learned man and holy father, who night and day, and to the utmost of his ability, supplied me with all necessary instructions and directions, and by his advice promoted and encouraged my progress in probity, piety, and learning; for having I say, granted me in his place, a man so worthy to be revered as yourself, who, I hope, will continue as you have begun, to spur me on, when I loiter, or am inclined to delay. No better fortune can, indeed, await me, than to be thought worthy of the wise and salutary admonitions of men so renowned, whose virtues, who shall sufficiently eulogize? And to experience the happiness enjoyed by Blesilla, Paula, and Eustachia, to whom the divine Jeronymus imparted instruction, and who were brought by his discourses to a knowledge of sacred truths — or the happiness of the aged lady, to whom the divine John addressed an exhortatory and truly evangelical epistle — or lastly, the happiness of the mother of Severus who profited by the lessons of Origen and was obedient to his precepts. These worthies were not so much honoured and celebrated for beauty of person, exalted rank, and large possessions, as their glory and happiness were promoted by the instructions of wise men, who did not disdain, though singularly illustrious for erudition and piety, to conduct them as it were, by the hand, to every thing excellent, and to suggest to their minds such thoughts, as might conduce to their eternal salvation and future felicity. That you, who are not inferior to these wise counsellors in understanding, learning and piety, will condescend to manifest for me a like kindness is my unceasing petition. My unreserved requests may carry with them an appearance of boldness, but when you consider that they originate in a desire of extracting from the storehouse of your piety, instruction for the guidance of my conduct, and for the confirmation of my faith in Christ my Saviour, your goodness cannot, your wisdom will not, allow you to censure them. From the little volume of pure and unsophisticated religion, which you lately sent my father and me, I cull daily, as out of a delightful garden, the sweetest flowers. My father also, as far as the pressure of his occupations allow, is sedulously engaged in the perusal of it. Whatever benefit, however, either of us may derive from the perusal, we are bound to render thanks to you and to God on your account, since it would not be just to receive with ungrateful minds, benefits so numerous and truly divine, conferred by the supremely good and great God, through the instrumentality of you and men such as you; not a few of whom Germany now sends forth to this glorious work. If it be customary with mankind, as indeed it ought to be, to return favour for favour, and to be mindful of benefits, surely they are more strongly bound to cherish and express the most ardent gratitude for divine favours, though they are unable to make adequate returns.
I now come to that part of your letter which contains a panegyric on myself. Your praises, as I cannot claim, so also, I ought not to allow. Such of my actions as bear the characteristics of virtue, I must ascribe solely to that great Being who is the author of all my natural endowments. To Him, O worthy man! may your prayers be continually directed on my behalf. May He so direct my thoughts, that I may be found not unworthy of his great goodness. My noble father would have written, both to thank you for the important services in which you are engaged, and also for your singular politeness in inscribing with his name and publishing under his auspices, your tenth decade, had not weighty business of his majesty the King called him to the remotest parts of Britain: but as soon as public affairs afford him leisure, he is determined on writing to you.
To conclude, as I am now beginning to study Hebrew, if you can point out the way in which I may proceed in this pursuit to the greatest advantage, you will confer on me a great obligation.
Farewell, bright ornament and grace of the Christian Church. May the supremely great and good God, long preserve you for us, and his people.
Your most devoted,
Accomplished man! I cannot do otherwise than thank you for your many acts of kindness to me. Were I to neglect this duty, I should be chargeable with the greatest ingratitude, and might seem forgetful of your goodness and unworthy of your favours. However, I engage in the task with diffidence, for the friendship which you desire to exist between us, and the many favours which you have conferred on me, demand some better return than mere thanks: and I cannot, to the satisfaction of my own mind, discharge by my vain words, the debt of gratitude which I owe you. Moreover, when I direct my thoughts to addressing a letter to a person of your eminence, the consideration of my unfitness for the office not a little disquiets my mind. Nor, indeed, should I wish or presume to trouble your gravity with my trifles and puerilities, or blend my barbarisms with your eloquence, were I not persuaded that I have no other means of gratifying you, and had I not largely experienced your courtesy.
With respect to the letter I have lately received from you — after I had read it once and again (for one perusal seemed insufficient), I appeared to derive such benefit from your excellent and truly divine precepts, as I have scarcely obtained from a daily perusal of the best writers. You exhort me to cherish a genuine and sincere faith in Christ my Saviour. I shall endeavour to comply with the exhortation as fully as God may enable me to do; but as I perceive faith to be his gift, I cannot promise more than he may enable me to perform. However, I shall not cease, with the Apostle, to pray, that God will of his goodness, increase my faith daily. To faith I shall, as you recommend, and with the divine blessing, add holiness of life — that measure of it, at least, which my too feeble powers may enable me to produce. Do you, in the mean time, in the spirit of piety, make daily mention of me in your prayers. I shall engage in that method of studying the Hebrew, which you have so clearly pointed out. Farewell! May God regard you in the task you have undertaken, and prosper you eternally.
Your most religiously obedient,
The late observance of a duty ought not, Learned Sir, to be censured, when not omitted through neglect. The truth is, I am far removed from you, the letter carriers are few, and news reaches me slowly. As I can now, however, avail myself of the messenger, by whom my letters to you, and yours to me, have been hitherto conveyed, I must not neglect writing to you, but must, both in word and deed, discharge an obligation as speedily as possible.
So great, indeed, is your authority with all men, such, as I hear, the solidity of your preaching, and such the integrity of your life, according to the report of those who are acquainted with you, that foreign and remote people, as well as your own countrymen, are by your actions, not less than by your words, incited to follow a good and happy life. For you are not only, as James says, a diligent preacher and herald of the gospel and of the sacred laws of God, but also a genuine observer and doer of them; and you exhibit, in your own life that practice which your precepts enjoin, not deceiving yourself. Nor, indeed, do you resemble the persons who behold their face in a glass, and as soon as they have departed, forget the form of it, but you preach truth and sincerity, and afford an example of that course, which you enjoin others to follow. But why do I thus accost your gravity, when such is my want of refinement, that I cannot adequately celebrate your piety and integrity, or in a becoming manner, display your admirable doctrine. Were I, indeed, to praise you as truth requires, I should need the eloquence of Demosthenes and Cicero. Such are your merits, that to declare them, length of time, acuteness of understanding, and elegance of language beyond that which so young a person can display, are necessary. God appears to have so fitted you, both for his kingdom, and this world, that in this earthly prison you pass your days, as dead to the world; nevertheless you live, not only to Christ, without whom there can be no life, and to yourself, but also to many others, whom you strenuously labour and assiduously endeavour with the divine will, to bring to that immortality which yourself will obtain, when you quit this life. That your piety may render your wishes effectual, is my unceasing prayer to God, the supreme ruler of the universe, and the giver of all good things; whose ears I constantly importune for your long continuance in this life.
In accosting you in this way, I may display more boldness than prudence; but so great has been your condescension in writing to me, a stranger, and in supplying me with instruction for the culture and adorning of my mind, that I should deservedly appear chargeable with neglect and forgetfulness of duty, did I not, to the utmost of my endeavours, treasure up the remembrance of your benefits. Besides, I cherish the hope that you will pardon the more than feminine boldness of an untaught virgin, who presumes to write to a man, and one too who is a father in learning; and that you will overlook that rudeness which has not hesitated to interrupt your graver pursuits with nonsensical trifles and puerilities. Let me but obtain your pardon, and I shall consider myself much indebted to your goodness on many accounts. If I have, indeed, offended by this measure, ascribe rather to my exceeding love of you and of your virtues, than to boldness, which ought never to exist in our sex, or to rashness, which obtrudes itself with a saw like power. The splendour of your endowments so dazzles my mental perception, whether I read your writings or contemplate your character, that my thoughts are occupied in considering, not the behaviour becoming my condition, but the tribute due to your excellence. My mind, indeed, fluctuates and forms different determinations. When I consider my age, sex, moderate attainments in literature, and I may add, my infancy, I am deterred from writing; but when I consider the eminence of your virtues, the celebrity of your character, and the magnitude of your favours towards me, the first consideration yields to the last — the behaviour becoming me, to the tribute due to you; the respect which your merits demand, prevails over all other considerations.
It only remains for me earnestly to beseech you, illustrious Sir, cordially to salute in my name, the excellent Bibliander, that pattern of learning, piety, and seriousness, though he is personally unknown to me. So excellent is the character which he bears in my own country, and so celebrated his name with all people, that I am irresistibly led to seek an acquaintance with a man of such piety and integrity, a man sent us, if I am not deceived, from heaven. I am also urged to pray, that as pillars of the Church you may enjoy good health. As long as I shall be permitted to live, I shall not cease to be your well-wisher, to thank you for your favours, and to pray for your welfare.
Farewell, Learned Sir,
Your most religiously obedient,
Jane Grey. 1553.
2. A letter written by Jane Grey in prison, to her former chaplain Thomas Harding, after he professed himself a Roman Catholic on the ascension of Queen Mary.
So oft as I call to mind (dear friend and chosen Brother) the dreadful and fearful sayings of God, that he which layeth hold upon the plough and looketh back again, is not meet for the kingdom of heaven; and on the other side to remember the comfortable words of our Saviour Christ, to all those that forsaking themselves do follow him, I cannot but marvel at thee and lament thy case; that thou, which sometimes wert the lively member of Christ, but now the deformed imp of the devil; sometimes the beautiful temple of God, but now the stinking and filthy kennel of Satan; sometimes the unspotted spouse of thy Saviour, but now the unshamefast paramour of Antichrist; sometimes my faithful brother, but now a stranger and apostate; yea sometimes my stout christian soldier, but now a cowardly runaway. So oft as I consider the threatenings and promises of the Divine Justice to all those which faithfully love him, I cannot but speak to thee, yea, rather cry out and exclaim against thee, thou seed of Satan, and not of Juda, whom the devil hath deceived, the world hath beguiled, and desire of life hath subverted, and made of a christian an infidel.
Wherefore hast thou taken upon thee the Testament of the Lord in thy mouth? Wherefore hast thou hitherto yielded thy body to the fire, and to the bloody hands of cruel tyrants? Wherefore hast thou instructed others to be strong in Christ, when thou thyself dost now so horribly abuse the testament and law of the Lord; when thou thyself, preachest (as it were not to steal) yet most abominably stealest, not from men but from God, and as a most heinous sacrilegious robber, robbest Christ thy redeemer of his right in his members, thy body and thy soul; when thou thyself dost rather choose to live miserably (with shame) in this world, than to die gloriously and reign in honour with Christ, to the end of all eternity, in whom even in death there is life beyond wish, beyond all expression; and when, I say, thou thyself art most weak, thou oughtest to show thyself most strong, for the strength of a fort is known before the assault, but thou yieldest (like a faint captain) thy hold before any battery be brought against thee.
Oh wretched and unhappy man what art thou but dust and ashes, and wilt thou resist thy maker, that formed and fashioned thee: wilt thou now forsake him that called thee from custom-gathering among the Romish Antichristians, to be an ambassador and messenger of his eternal word; he that first framed thee, and since thy creation and birth preserved thee, nourished thee, and kept thee, yea, and inspired thee with the spirit of knowledge (I cannot, I would I could say of grace) shall he not possess thee, darest thou deliver up thy self to another, being not thine own but his? How canst thou, having knowledge, or how darest thou neglect the law of the Lord, and follow the vain traditions of men? And whereas thou hast been a public professor of his name, become now a defacer of his glory. I will not refuse the true God, and worship the invention of man, the golden calf, the whore of Babylon, the Romish religion, the abominable idol, the most wicked mass: wilt thou torment again, rent and tear the most precious body of our Saviour Christ with thy bodily and fleshly teeth without the breaking whereof upon the cross, our sins and transgressions, could else no way be redeemed? Wilt thou take upon thee to offer up any sacrifice unto God for our sins, considering that Christ offered up himself (as St. Paul saith) upon the Cross, a lively sacrifice once for all.
Can neither the punishment of the Israelites (which for their idolatry so oft they received) move thee; neither the terrible threatenings of the ancient prophets stir thee, nor the crosses of God’s own mouth fear thee to honour any other God than him? wilt thou so regard him that spared not his dear and only son for thee, so diminishing, yea, utterly extinguishing his glory, that thou wilt attribute the praise and honour to idols, which have mouths and speak not, eyes and see not, ears and yet hear not, which shall perish with them that made them: what saith the prophet Baruck, where he reciteth the epistle of Jeremiah, written to the captive Jews? Did he not forewarn them that in Babylon they should see gods of gold, silver, wood, and stone, borne upon men’s shoulders to cause a fear upon the heathen? But be not you afraid of them (saith Jeremiah) nor do as others do: but when you see others worship them, say you in your hearts, it is thou (O Lord) that oughtest only to be worshipped: for as touching the timber of those gods the carpenter framed them and polished them, yea guilded they be and laid over with silver and vain things and cannot speak: he sheweth moreover, the abuse of their deckings how the priests took off their ornaments, and apparelled there women therewithal: how one holdeth a sceptre, another a sword in his hand, and yet can they judge in no matter, nor defend themselves, much less any other, from either hatred or murder, nor yet from knawing worms, dust, filth, or any other evil thing; these and such like words speaketh Jeremiah unto them, whereby he proveth them but vain things, and no gods, and at last he concludeth thus; confounded he those that worship them.
They were warned by Jeremiah, and thou as Jeremiah hast warned others, and art warned thyself by many Scriptures in many places.
God, saith he, is a jealous God, which will have all honour, glory, and worship given to him only. And Christ saith in the fourth of Luke, to satan which tempted him, even to the same satan, the same Belzebub, the same devil which hath prevailed against thee: it is written (saith he) thou shalt honour the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
These and such like do prohibit thee, and all Christians to worship any other God than he which was before all worlds, and laid the foundations both of heaven and earth, and wilt thou honour a detestable idol invented by the Popes of Rome, and the uncharitable college of politic Cardinals?
Christ offered up himself once for all, and wilt thou offer him up again daily at thy pleasure ? But thou wilt say thou doest it for a good intent: Oh sink of sin! Oh child of perdition! Canst thou dream of any good intent therein, when thy conscience beareth thee witness of the wrath of God promised against thee?
How did Saul, who for that he disobeyed the word of God for a good intent, was thrown from his wordly and temporal kingdom: shalt thou then which dost so deface God’s honour and rob him of his right, inherit the eternal heavenly kingdom? Wilt thou for a good intent pluck Christ out of heaven, and make his death void, and deface the triumph of his cross, offering him up daily? Wilt thou either for fear of death, or hope of life, deny and refuse thy God, who enriched thy poverty, healed thy infirmity, and yielded to this victory if thou wouldst have kept it? Dost thou not consider that the thread of life hangeth upon him that made thee, who can (as his will is) either twine it hard to last the longer, or untwine it again to break the sooner? Dost thou not remember the saying of David, a notable king, which teacheth thee, a miserable wretch, in his 104th Psalm, where he saith, “When thou takest away thy spirit, O Lord, from men, they die, and are turned again to their dust, but when thou lettest thy breath go forth, they shall be made, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.”
Remember the saying of Christ in his Gospel, whosoever seeketh to save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose it for my sake shall find it; and in another place, whosoever loveth father or mother above me, is not meet for me, for he that will be my disciple, must forsake father and mother, and himself, and take up his cross and follow me: what cross? The cross of infamy and shame, of misery and poverty, of affliction and persecution, for his name sake.
Let the oft falling of those heavenly showers pierce thy stony heart; let the two-edged sword of God’s holy word hew asunder the knit-together sinews of worldly respects, even to the very marrow and life-blood of thy carnal heart, that thou mayst once again forsake thyself to embrace Christ, and like as good subjects will not refuse to hazard all in the defence of their earthly and temporal governors, so fly not like a white livered milk-sop from the standard, whereby thy chief Captain, Christ, hath placed thee in a noble array of this life; viriliter ago confortetur cor tuum et sustine dominum, fight manfully, come life, come death, the quarrel is God’s, and undoubtedly the victory is ours.
But thou wilt say, I will not break unity; what? Not the unity of satan and his members, not the unity of darkness, the agreement of antichrist and his adherents? Nay, then thou deceives thyself with fond imaginations of such an unity as is amongst the enemies of Christ: were not the false prophets in an unity? Were not Joseph’s brethren, Jacob’s sons, in an unity? Were not the heathen as the Amelechites, the Peresites and Jebusites in an unity? I keep no order but look rather to my matter: were not the Scribes and Pharisees in an unity? Doth not King David testify, conveniunt iu unum adversus Dominum, yea, thieves and murderers, conspirators and traitors have their unity.
Mark my dear friend (yea friend if thou beest not God’s enemy,) there is no unity but when Christ knitteth the knot amongst such as be his, yea, be you well assured that where his truth is resident, there it is verified, that he saith, Non veni mittere pacem in terram sed gladium, that is, Christ came to set one against another; the son against the father, the daughter against the mother: deceive not thyself therefore with the glistering and glorious name of unity, for antichrist hath his unity, yet not in deed, but in name, for the agreement of evil men is not an unity, but a conspiracy.
Thou hast heard some threatenings, some curses, and some admonishments of the Scriptures, to those who love themselves above Christ.
Thou hast heard also the sharp and biting words to those which deny him for love of life, saith he not, that he which denieth me before men, I will deny him before my father which is in heaven: and to the same effect writeth St. Paul in the 6th to the Hebrews, saying, it is impossible that they which have been once lightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift of grace, and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have relished of the pure word of God, if they fall and slide away, it is impossible that they should be renewed again by repentance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him as it were a mockingstock, or gaude of their fancies. And again, (saith he) if we shall willingly sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there is no oblation left for sin, but the terrible expectation of judgement and fire which shall devour the adversaries. Thus St. Paul writeth, and thus thou readest, and dost thou not quake and tremble? Well, if these terrible and thundering alarms cannot stir thee to arise and cleave unto Christ, and forsake the world, yet let the sweet consolations and promises of the Scriptures: let the examples of Christ and his Apostles, both Martyrs and Confessors, encourage thee to take faster hold by Christ. Hearken what he saith again in his holy Gospel; blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you for my sake, rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets before you.
Hear what Esau saith: fear not the curse of men, be not afraid of their blasphemies and railings, for worms and moths shall eat them up like cloth and wool, but my righteousness shall endure for ever, and my saving health from generation to generation: what art thou then (saith he) that fearest a mortal man, the child of a man, which fadeth away as doth the flower, and forgettest the Lord that made thee, that spread out the heavens like a curtain, and laid the foundations of the earth so sure, that they cannot be removed: I am the Lord thy God, which maketh the sea to rage, and to be still, who is the Lord of hosts; I shall put my word in thy mouth, and defend thee with the turning of a hand. And our Saviour Christ saith to his disciples, they shall accuse you, and bring you before the princes and rulers for my name sake, and some of you they shall persecute and kill: but fear you not (saith he) neither care you not what you shall say, for it is my spirit that speaketh in you, the hand of the highest shall defend you, for the hairs of your heads are numbered, and none of them shall perish. I have laid up treasure for you (saith he) where no thief can steal, nor moth corrupt, and happy are you if you endure to the end. Fear not them (saith Christ) which have power over the body only, but fear him that hath power both over the body and the soul; the world loveth her own, and if you were of the world the world would love you, but you are mine, and therefore the world doth hate you.
Let these, and such like consolations out of the Scriptures strengthen you to God-ward; let not the examples of holy men and women go out of your mind, as that of Daniel, and the rest of the prophets; of the three children of Eleazarus, that constant father; the Maccabees’ children, that of Peter, Paul, Stephen, and other Apostles and holy Martyrs, in the beginning and infancy of the Church; as of good Simeon, Archbishop of Seloma, and Zetrophone, with infinite others, under Sapores the king of the Persians and Indians, who condemned all torments devised by the tyrants for their Saviour’s sake.
Return, return again for honour and mercy’s sake into the way of Christ Jesus, and as becometh a faithful soldier, put on that armour which St. Paul teacheth to be most necessary for a Christian man, and above all things take to you the shield of faith.
And be you most devoutly provoked by Christ’s own example, to withstand the devil, to forsake the world, and to become a true and faithful member of his mystical body, who spared not his own flesh for our sins. Throw down thyself with the fear of his threatened vengeance for this so great and heinous offence of apostacy, and comfort yourself on the other part with the mercy, blood, and promises of him that is ready to turn to you whensoever you turn to him: disdain not to come again with the lost son, seeing you have so wandered with him: be not ashamed to turn again with him from the swill of strangers, to the delicates of the most benign and loving father, acknowledging that you have sinned against heaven and earth; against heaven by staining his glorious name, and causing his most sincere and pure word to be evil spoken of through you; against earth by offending your so many weak brethren to whom you have been a stumbling block through your sudden sliding.
Be not ashamed to come again with Mary, and to weep bitterly with Peter, not only with shedding of tears out of your bodily eyes, but also pouring out the streams of your heart, to wash away, out of the sight of God, the filth and mire of your offensive fall; be not ashamed to say with the publican, Lord be merciful unto me a sinner: remember the horrible history of Julian of old, and the lamentable case of Francis Spira of late, whose remembrance me thinketh should be yet so green to your memory, that being a thing of our time, you should fear the like inconvenience, seeing that you are fallen into the like offence. Last of all, let the lively remembrance of the last day be always before your eyes, remembering the terror that such shall be in at that time, with the runagates and fugitives from Christ, which setting more by the world than by heaven, more by their life, than by him that gave them their life, more by the vanity of a painful breath, than the perfect assurance of eternal salvation, did shrink; yea, did clean fall away from him that never forsook them. And contrariwise, the inestimable joys prepared for them which feared no peril, nor dreading death, have manfully fought, and victoriously triumphed over all power of darkness; over hell, death, and damnation, through their most redoubted captain Jesus Christ our Saviour, who even now stretcheth out his arms to receive you, ready to fall upon your neck, and kiss you: and last of all, to feast you with the dainties and delicates of his own most precious blood, which undoubtedly, if it might stand with his determinate purpose, he would not let to shed again, rather than you should be lost; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, praise, and glory everlastingly. Amen.
Yours, if you be Christ’s,
Be constant, be constant, fear not for pain,
Christ hath deliver’d thee, and heav’n is thy gain.
3. A conference held between Lady Jane Dudley and John Feckenham, four days before her death, concerning her faith and religion.
FECKENHAM. What thing is required in a Christian?
JANE. To believe in God the Father, in God the Son, in God the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God.
FECKENHAM. Is there nothing else required in a Christian, but to believe in God?
JANE. Yes: we must believe in him, we must love him, with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself.
FECKENHAM. Why then faith justifieth not, nor saveth not?
JANE. Yes, verily, faith (as St. Paul saith) only justifieth.
FECKENHAM. Why St. Paul saith, if I have all the faith of the world, without love, it is nothing.
JANE. True it is, for how can I love him I trust not, or how can I trust in him whom I love not; faith and love ever agree together, and yet love is comprehended in faith.
FECKENHAM. How shall we love our neighbour ?
JANE. To love our neighbour is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and to give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would do to ourselves.
FECKENHAM. Why, then it is necessary to salvation to do good works, and it is not sufficient to believe?
JANE. I deny that, I affirm that faith only saveth; for it is meet for all Christians, in token that they follow their master Christ, to do good works; yet may we not say, nor in any wise believe, that they profit to salvation: for although we have done all that we can, yet we are unprofitable servants, and the faith we have only in Christ’s blood and his merits, saveth.
FECKENHAM. How many Sacraments are there?
JANE. Two: the one the Sacrament of Baptism, and the other the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
FECKENHAM. No, there be seven Sacraments.
JANE. By what Scripture find you that?
FECKENHAM. Well, we will talk of that hereafter: but what is signified by your two sacraments?
JANE. By the Sacrament of Baptism I am washed with water, and regenerated in the spirit, and that washing is a token to me that I am the child of God: the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is offered unto me as a sure seal and testimony, that I am, by the blood of Christ which he shed for me on the cross, made partaker of the everlasting kingdom.
FECKENHAM. Why, what do you receive in that bread: do you not receive the very body and blood of Christ?
JANE. No, surely, I do not believe so: I think at that supper I receive neither flesh nor blood, but only bread and wine; the which bread when it is broken, and the wine when it is drunk, putteth me in mind how that for my sins the body of Christ was broken, and his blood shed on the cross, and with that bread and wine I receive the benefits which came by breaking of his body, and by the shedding of his blood on the cross for my sins.
FECKENHAM. Why but, madam, doth not Christ speak these words: take eat, this is my body: can you require any plainer words: doth he not say, that it is his body?
JANE. I grant he saith so; and so he saith likewise in other places, I am the vine, I am the door, it being only but a figurative speech: doth not St. Paul say that he calleth those things which are not as though they were? God forbid that I should say that I eat the very natural body and blood of Christ: for then either I should pluck away my redemption, or confess there were two bodies, or two Christ’s: two bodies, the one body was tormented on the cross, and then if they did eat another body, how absurd: again, if his body was eaten really, then it was not broken upon the cross, or if it were broken upon the cross (as it is doubtless) then it was not eaten of his disciples.
FECKENHAM. Why, is it not as possible that Christ by his power could make his body both to be eaten and broken, as to be born of a woman without the seed of man, and as to walk on the sea having a body, and other such like miracles, which he wrought by his power only?
JANE. Yes, verily, if God would have done at his last supper a miracle, he might have done so: but I say he minded nor intended no work or miracle, but only to break his body, and shed his blood on the cross for our sins: but I beseech you answer me to this one question; where was Christ when he said, take, eat, this is my body: was not he at the table? When he said so he was at that time alive, and suffered not till the next day; well, what took he but bread? And what broke he but bread? And what gave he but bread? Look what he took he brake, and look what he brake he gave, and look what he gave that did they eat, and yet all this while he himself was at supper before his disciples, or else they were deceived.
FECKENHAM. You ground your faith upon such authors as say and unsay, both with a breath, and not upon the church, to whom you ought to give credit.
JANE. No, I ground my faith upon God’s word, and not upon the church: for if the church be a good church, the faith of the church must be tried by God’s word, and not God’s word by the church: neither yet my faith: shall I believe the church because of antiquity? Or shall I give credit to that church which taketh away from me a full half part of the Lord’s Supper, and will not layman receive it in both kinds, but the priests only themselves, which thing if they deny to us part, they deny us part of our salvation? And I say, that it is an evil and no good church, and not the spouse of Christ, but the spouse of the devil, which altereth the Lord’s Supper, and both taketh from it, and addeth to it: to that church I say God will add plagues, and from that church will he take their part out of the Book of Life: you may learn of St. Paul, how he did administer it to the Corinthians in both kinds, which since your church refuseth, shall I believe it? God forbid!
FECKENHAM. That this was done by the wisdom of the church, and to a most good intent to avoid an heresy, which then sprung in it.
JANE. O, but the church must not alter God’s will and ordinances, for the colour or gloss of a good intent: it was the error of King Saul, and he not only reaped a curse, but perished thereby, as it is evident in the Holy Scriptures.
To this M. Feckenham gave me a long, tedious, yet eloquent reply; using many strong and logical persuasions, to compel me to have leaned to their church: but my faith had armed my resolution to withstand any assault that words could then use against me. Of many other articles of religion we reasoned, but these formerly rehearsed were the chiefest and most effectual.
4. An exhortation written by Jane Dudley, the night before her execution, in the end of the Greek New Testament which she sent to her sister, Lady Katherine Grey.
I have here sent you, my dear sister Katherine, a book, which although it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, or the curious embroidery of the artfullest needles, yet inwardly it is more worth than all the precious mines which the vast world can boast of: it is the book, my only best, and best loved sister, of the law of the Lord: it is the Testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches and wretched sinners, which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy: and if you with a good mind read it, and with an earnest desire follow it, no doubt it shall bring you to an immortal and everlasting life: it will teach you to live, and learn you to die: it shall win you more, and endow you with greater felicity, than you should have gained possession of our woeful father’s lands: for as if God had prospered him, you should have inherited his honours and manors, so if you apply diligently this book, seeking to direct your life according to the rule of the same, you shall be an inheritor of such riches, as neither the covetous shall withdraw from you, neither the thief shall steal, neither yet the moths corrupt: desire with David, my best sister, to understand the law of the Lord your God, live still to die, that you by death may purchase eternal life, and trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life: for unto God, when he calleth, all hours, times and seasons are alike, and blessed are they whose lamps are furnished when he cometh, for as soon will the Lord be glorified in the young as in the old.
My good sister, once more again let me entreat thee to learn to die; deny the world, defy the devil, and despise the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord: be penitent for your sins, and yet despair not; be strong in faith, yet presume not; and desire with St. Paul to be dissolved and to be with Christ, with whom, even in death there is life.
Be like the good servant, and even at midnight be waking, lest when death cometh and stealeth upon you, like a thief in the night, you be with the servants of darkness found sleeping; and lest for lack of oil you be found like the five foolish virgins, or like him that had not on the wedding garment, and then you be cast into darkness, or banished from the marriage: rejoice in Christ, as I trust you do, and seeing you have the name of a christian, as near as you can follow the steps, and be a true imitator of your master Christ Jesus, and take up your cross, lay your sins on his back, and always embrace him.
Now as touching my death, rejoice as I do, my dearest sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption: for I am assured that I shall, for losing of a mortal life, win one that is immortal, joyful, and everlasting: the which I pray God grant you in his most blessed hour, and send you his all-saving grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true christian faith: from which in God’s name I exhort you that you never swerve, neither through hope of life, nor fear of death: for if you will deny his truth, to give length to a weary and corrupt breath, God himself will deny you, and by vengeance make short what you by your soul’s loss would prolong: but if you will cleave to him, he will stretch forth your days to an uncircumscribed comfort, and to his own glory: to the which glory, God bring me now, and you hereafter, when it shall please him to call you.
Farewell once again, my beloved sister, and put your only trust in God, who only must help you. Amen.
Your loving Sister.
5. A letter from Jane Dudley, written from the Tower a few weeks before her death, to her father, the Duke of Suffolk, whose miscounselled actions had hastened her execution.
Father, although it hath pleased God to hasten my death by you, by whom my life should rather have been lengthened, yet I can so patiently take it, that I yield God more hearty thanks for shortening my woeful days, than if all the world had been given into my possession, with life lengthened at my own will. And albeit I am very well assured of your impatient dolours, redoubled many ways, both in bewailing your own woe, and especially, as I am informed, my woeful estate: yet my dear father, if I may, without offence, rejoice in my own mishaps, herein I may account myself blessed, that washing my hands with the innocence of my fact, my guiltless blood may cry before the Lord, Mercy to the innocent!
And yet though I must needs acknowledge, that being constrained, and as you know well enough continually assayed, yet in taking upon me, I seemed to consent, and therein greviously offended the queen and her laws, yet do I assuredly trust that this my offence towards God is so much the less, in that being in so royal estate as I was, my enforced honour never mingled with mine innocent heart. And thus, good father, I have opened unto you the state wherein I presently stand, my death at hand, although to you perhaps it may seem woeful, yet to me there is nothing that can be more welcome than from this vale of misery to aspire to that heavenly throne of all joy and pleasure, with Christ my Saviour: in whose steadfast faith, (if it may be lawful for the daughter so to write to the father) the Lord that hath hitherto strengthened you, so continue to keep you, that at the last we may meet in heaven with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Your obedient daughter till death,
6. A prayer composed by Jane Dudley shortly before her execution.
O Lord, thou God and father of my life! Hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flyeth unto thee only, in all troubles and miseries. Thou, O Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those that put their trust in thee; and, therefore, I, being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapped in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with the long imprisonment of this vile mass of clay, my sinful body, do come unto thee, O merciful Saviour, craving thy mercy and help, without the which so little hope of deliverance is left that I may utterly despair of my liberty. Albeit, it is expedient that seeing our life standeth upon trying, we should be visited some time with some adversity, whereby we might both be tried whether we be of thy flock or no, and also know thee and ourselves the better; yet thou that saidst thou wouldst not suffer us to be tempted above our power, be merciful unto me, now a miserable wretch, I beseech thee; which, with Solomon, do cry unto thee, humbly desiring thee, that I may neither be too much puffed up with prosperity, neither too much depressed with adversity; lest I, being too full, should deny thee, my God; or being too low brought, should despair and blaspheme thee, my Lord and Saviour. O merciful God, consider my misery, best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defence, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power, but either be thou a deliverer unto me out of this great misery, or else give me grace patiently to bear thy heavy hand and sharp correction. It was thy right hand that delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of Pharaoh, which for the space of four hundred years did oppress them, and keep them in bondage; let it therefore likewise seem good to thy fatherly goodness, to deliver me, sorrowful wretch, for whom thy son Christ shed his precious blood on the cross, out of this miserable captivity and bondage, wherein I am now. How long wilt thou be absent? — forever? Oh, Lord! hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and hast thou shut up thy loving kindness in displeasure? wilt thou be no more entreated? Is thy mercy clear gone for ever, and thy promise come utterly to an end for evermore? Why dost thou make so long tarrying? Shall I despair of thy mercy? Oh God! Far be that from me; I am thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesus; give me grace therefore to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works, assuredly knowing, that as thou canst, so thou wilt deliver me, when it shall please thee, nothing doubting or mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do; therefore do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only, in the meantime, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armour, that I may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace; above all things, taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; and taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of thy spirit, which is thy most holy word; praying always, with all manner of prayer and supplication, that I may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure, and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot but be well all thou doest. Hear me, O merciful Father, for his sake, whom thou wouldest should be a sacrifice for my sins; to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory. Amen!
7. Jane Dudley’s speech on the scaffold.
My lords, and you good christian people, which come to see me die, I am under a law, and by that law, as a never erring judge, I am condemned to die, not for any thing I have offended the Queen’s Majesty, for I will wash my hands guiltless thereof, and deliver to my God a soul as pure from such trespass, as innocence from injustice; but only for that I consented to the thing which I was enforced unto, constraint making the law believe I did that which I never understood. Notwithstanding, I have offended Almighty God in that I have followed over-much the lust of mine own flesh, and the pleasures of this wretched world, neither have I lived according to the knowledge that God hath given me, for which cause God hath appointed unto me this kind of death, and that most worthily, according to my deserts; how be it, I thank him heartily that he hath given me time to repent my sins here in this world, and to reconcile myself to my redeemer, whom my former vanities have in a great measure displeased. Wherefore, my lords, and all you good christian people, I must earnestly desire you all to pray with and for me whilst I am yet alive, that God of his infinite goodness and mercy will forgive me my sins, how numberless and grievous soever against him: and I beseech you all to bear me witness that I here die a true christian woman, professing and avouching from my soul that I trust to be saved by the blood, passion, and merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour only, and by none other means; casting far behind me all the works and merits of mine own actions, as things so far short of the true duty I owe, that I quake to think how much they may stand up against me. And now, I pray you all pray for me, and with me.
8. A note to her father, in a manual of prayers.
The Lord comfort your grace, and that in his word wherein all creatures only are to be comforted. And though it hath pleased God to take away two of your children: yet think not, I most humbly beseech your grace, that you have lost them; but trust that we, by leaving this mortal life, have won an immortal life. And I, for my part, as I have honoured your grace in this life, will pray for you in another life.
Your grace’s humble daughter,
9. A memorial written by Jane Dudley at the request of Sir John Brydges, the Lieutenant of the Tower.
Forasmuch as you have desired so simple a woman to write in so worthy a book, good master Lieutenant, therefore I shall as a friend desire you, and as a christian require you, to call upon God, to incline your heart to his laws, to quicken you in his way, and not to take the word of truth utterly out of your mouth. Live still to die, that by death you may purchase eternal life; and remember how the end of Methuselah, which as we read in the scriptures, was the longest liver that was of a man, died at the last. For, as the Preacher sayeth, there is a time to be born, and a time to die; and the day of death is better than the day of our birth.
Yours, as the Lord knoweth, as a friend,
10. Lines said to have been written by Jane Grey on the walls of her apartment in the Tower, with a pin.
Non aliena putes homini quae obtingere possunt,
Sors hodierna mihi, cras erit illa tibi!
Which has been translated:
To mortals’ common fate thy mind resign,
My lot today, tomorrow may be thine.
Deo juvante, nil nocet livor malus;
Et non juvante, nil juvat labor gravis:
Post tenebras, spero lucem.
Which has been translated:
Whilst God assists us, envy bites in vain,
If God forsake us, fruitless all our pain —
I hope for light after the darkness.