Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Reformation Martyrs of Sussex: Deryk Carver

Throughout history many men and women have been martyred for the faith. They have differed in age, nationality and social standing. Some names are well known to us, some lost to history, yet all have this in common, that they have sealed their faith by their blood and have gone on to receive their eternal reward in glory. In one county of England alone a number of ordinary people displayed in their life and death that conviction of faith.

In 1555 Deryk Carver was living as a brewer in the town of Brighton, his place of business located in Black Lion Street. Originally from Flanders he had been blessed by the Lord both with temporal riches as well as spiritual treasures. It is likely that his conversion to Christ had been during the reign of Edward VI, but now that ‘bloody’ Mary had ascended the throne it was impossible for him to worship in the parish church and so he assembled together with a few like minded friends for prayer and worship at his home.

On such an occasion in 1555 he was apprehended by the sheriff, Edward Gage, and sent to London where he was committed to Newgate prison. He was approximately forty years old when he was put on trial before Bishop Bonner and he gave a clear and definite answer to all that was put to him. Amongst those things which he denied were the doctrines of transubstantiation and auricular confession, he declared that the Latin mass was unprofitable and that the faith being then taught was contrary to the Word of God. Upon further examination he declared that he possessed a Bible and Psalter in English and that such had been read in his house on many occasions. When broughtback before the bishop on 10th June his confession of faith was read to him and he was asked if he would stand by it. Replying in the affirmative he said
‘Yes, for your doctrine is poison and sorcery. If Christ were here you would put him to a worse death than he was put before. You say that you can make a God. Ye can make a pudding as well. Your ceremonies in church be beggary and poison’.
On 22nd July 1555 he was brought to the town of Lewes where a stake was set up at the ‘Sign of the Star’, an inn in the centre of the town. A barrel had been prepared into which his Bible had been thrown. Carver took the bible and threw it out amongst the people however the sheriff ordered in the name of the king and queen that it be thrown back. Carver’s last exhortation to the crowd before he was burnt was recorded
‘Dear brethren and sisters, witness to you all, that I am come to seal with my blood Christ’s gospel, because I know that it is true. It is unknown unto all you, but that it hath been truly preached here in Lewes, and in all places in England, and now it is not. And for because I will not deny here God’s gospel, and be obedient to man’s laws, I am condemned to die. Dear brethren and sisters as many of you as do believe upon the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost unto everlasting life, see that you do the works appertaining to the same. And as many of you as do believe upon the Pope of Rome, or any of his laws which he set forth in these days, you do believe to your utter condemnation, and except the great mercy of God, you shall burn in hell perpetually.’
As the flames came upon him he commended his spirit in to the hands of the almighty God and passed into his glory, the first of the Sussex martyrs. A plaque on his place of business, still standing in Black Lion Street, Brighton, bears the simple inscription ‘Deryk Carver, First Protestant Martyr burnt at Lewes, July 22nd 1555, lived in this brewery’.

Adapted from ‘Sussex Martyrs of the Reformation’, The Sussex Martyrs Commemoration Council

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Contrasting Christmas Messages of Britain's Leaders

Once again Britain's leaders have delivered their annual Christmas messages to the nation. The content of those messages has been varied, with many missing the opportunity afforded to them to speak to people of their need of the Saviour. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the pre-eminent 'Christian leader' in the United Kingdom, in his Christmas sermon offers no more certain hope than the statement that Jesus Christ offers 'fresh possibilities for being at peace with God and each other'. A mere possibility of peace with God is of no comfort to those in the depths of sin and despair, but what is needed by men and women is that sure and certain hope that their sins have been forgiven. The man centred message of 'seeing ourselves honestly' and 'seeing the world differently' is not the message of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ but is 'another gospel: which is not another'. Though to many it may seem the same it is but poison to the soul, for what is truly needful is that turning from self to sole reliance on the Christ who was born in the manger, yet who was born with that purpose of dying on Calvary as the substitute for our sins.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Spurgeon's Christmas Message

The following sermon, entitled The First Christmas Carol, was preached by Rev C.H. Spurgeon on 20th December 1857 at the Royal Surrey Garden Music Hall.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."—Luke 2:14.

It is superstitious to worship angels; it is but proper to love them. Although it would be a high sin, and an act of misdemeanor against the Sovereign Court of Heaven to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, yet it would be unkind and unseemly, if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart's warmest love. In fact, he that contemplates the character of angels, and marks their many deeds of sympathy with men, and kindness towards them, cannot resist the impulse of his nature—the impulse of love towards them. The one incident in angelic history, to which our text refers, is enough to weld our hearts to them for ever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from heaven to save their compeers when they fell. When Satan, the mighty angel, dragged with him a third part of the stars of heaven, Christ did not stoop from his throne to die for them; but he left them to be reserved in chains and darkness until the last great day. Yet angels did not envy men. Though they remembered that he took not up angels, yet they did not murmur when he took up the seed of Abraham; and though the blessed Master had never condescended to take the angel's form, they did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found him arrayed in the body of an infant. How free, too, they were from pride! They were not ashamed to come and tell the news to humble shepherds. Methinks they had as much joy in pouring out their songs that night before the shepherds, who were watching with their flocks, as they would have had if they had been commanded by their Master to sing their hymn in the halls of Caesar. Mere men—men possessed with pride, think it a fine thing to preach before kings and princes; and think it great condescension now and then to have to minister to the humble crowd. Not so the angels. They stretched their willing wings, and gladly sped from their bright seats above, to tell the shepherds on the plain by night, the marvelous story of an Incarnate God. And mark how well they told the story, and surely you will love them! Not with the stammering tongue of him that tells a tale in which he hath no interest; nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the passions of others, when he feeleth no emotion himself; but with joy and gladness, such as angels only can know. They sang the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, "Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Methinks they sang it with gladness in their eyes; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves. And, verily, it was good news to them, for the heart of sympathy makes good news to others, good news to itself. Do you not love the angels? Ye will not bow before them, and there ye are right; but will ye not love them? Doth it not make one part of your anticipation of heaven, that in heaven you shall dwell with the holy angels, as well as with the spirits of the just made perfect? Oh, how sweet to think that these holy and lovely beings are our guardians every hour! They keep watch and ward about us, both in the burning noon-tide, and in the darkness of the night. They keep us in all our ways; they bear us up in their hands, lest at any time we dash our feet against stones. They unceasingly minister unto us who are the heirs of salvation; both by day and night they are our watchers and our guardians, for know ye not, that "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him."

Friday, 21 December 2012

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