Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Latimer

Hugh Latimer was born circa 1485 in Thurcaston, Leicester. His parents sent him to Cambridge when he was 14. After finishing several courses, he took up the study of Scholastic theology and began his Bachelor of Divinity studies. At this time, he was a very zealous papist. He composed an oration against Melanchthon and railed against the divinity lecturer, Stafford. Whenever there was a procession, he carried the cross.

Bilney was so distressed by Latimer’s blind zeal, that he arranged a meeting with Latimer so that he could hear his confession of faith. Latimer was so moved by this gesture that he gave up his Scholastic theology and began to study Reformed Theology. He often sought Bilney’s advice and soon asked forgiveness of Stafford

He became a powerful preacher, and though, in 1529, the bishop of Ely forbade him to preach, he kept at it. He visited prisons and did much to help the needy.

He became an advisor to Henry VIII after his break with Rome in 1534. He was made a bishop in 1535. He began to preach against social injustices and the Romish teaching about images and purgatory. He resigned his seat in 1539 when Henry showed disapproval of Reformed teaching. During this period Latimer was imprisoned twice.

When Edward VI began his reign, he appointed Latimer to be the court preacher, a post he held until his 67th year.

When Mary Tudor ascended to the throne, she condemned Latimer for repudiating Roman Catholic doctrine. He was sentenced to death with Thomas Cranmer and Nicholas Ridley. He was led to the stake at Oxford with Ridley. When he came to the stake, he looked up into heaven and said, “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able.” As the execution began, Latimer encouraged his friend Ridley with these words, “Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” As he was burning, Latimer cried out, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul.” He died, burnt at the stake, with his friend Ridley in 1555.

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