John Foxe researched and recorded the sufferings of many obscure evangelicals who died during the reign of England’s Queen Mary. Here is his story, condensed, of John Philpot who was burned on December 18, 1555:
The bishop, seeing his unmovable steadfastness in the truth, did pronounce sentence of condemnation against him. “I thank God,” said Philpot, “that I am a heretic out of your cursed church; I am no heretic before God. But God bless you, and give you grace to repent your wicked doings, and let all men beware of your bloody church.” So the officers delivered him to Newgate (Prison). “Well,” said Philpot, “I must be content, for it is God’s appointment. I pray you show me what you would have me do.”
He said, “If you would recant, I will show you any pleasure I can.”
“Nay,” said Master Philpot, “I shall never recant whilst I have my life, that which I have spoken is certain truth;
Then Alexander said, “This is the saying of the whole pack of you heretics.” Whereupon he commanded him to be set upon the block, and as many irons as he could bear.
Upon Tuesday at supper, being the 17th day of December, 1555, there came a messenger from the sheriffs and bade Philpot make ready, for the next day he should suffer. Master Philpot answered, “I am ready; God grant me strength and a joyful resurrection.” He went into his chamber and poured out his spirit unto the Lord God, giving him most hearty thanks, that he of his mercy had made him worthy to suffer for his truth.
In the morning the sheriffs came, about eight of the clock, and he most joyfully came down unto them. When he was come to the place of suffering, he said, “Shall I disdain to suffer at this stake, seeing my Redeemer did not refuse to suffer a most vile death upon the cross for me?” Then in the midst of the fiery flames he yielded his soul into the hands of Almighty God.*
When Christ died, he died for sin once for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God. In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God. (Romans 6:10,11)
* John Foxe: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1981), pp. 340–343.
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Dec. 18.