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Some Account

of

the Rev. John Bradford,

Prebendary of St.Paul's, and Martyr, A.D. 1555.


John Bradford was born at Manchester about the year 1510. His parents gave him a good education. He was a hard student from his youth, and his skill in accounts procured him employment under sir John Harrington, treasurer and paymaster of the English forces in France. The abilities he manifested in this situation obtained him considerable esteem, and, as Fox expresses, "he continued certain years in a right honest and good trade of life, after the course of this world, likely to have come forward, if his mind could have so liked, or had been given to the world as many others." His office he resigned, apparently not be willing to connive at some abuses by which the king was defrauded to a considerable amount.

The precise nature of the transaction, and Bradford's share in it are not clearly ascertained. His letters to father Traves show that it was some transaction effecting his employer, and that he used every means in his power to induce sir John Harrington to replace the amount. A letter from father Traves to Bradford confirms this view, that it was a matter effecting his master more than himself, although Bradford seems to have been concerned in the transaction, and therefore not free from blame. That it was no act for his own advantage further appears from his answer to Gardiner, when the latter asserted that Bradford had defrauded his master. In reply, he called upon anyone to prove this, and desired the lord chancellor, as chief justicer of England, to do justice upon them that slandered him.

But whatever were the circumstances, he could not rest satisfied till restitution was made; at one time he thought of making himself a bondman, and he seems to have sacrifices his patrimonial property towards atttaining this object, which evidently worked most painfully on his mind. This transaction is generally supposed to be noticed in one of Latimer's searching sermons. The energetic appeals of that powerful preacher might have been the means of exciting a right feeling in Bradford, and it appears that he conferred with Latimer on the subject. It was not finally settled till after he had gone to Cambridge.

Bradford studies the law for a short period, but his heart was set upon a more spiritual calling. Fox says: "The Lord which had elected him unto a better function, and preordained him to preach the gospel of Christ, in that hour of grace, which in his secret council he had appointed, called him his chosen child to the understanding and partaking of the same gospel of life. In which call he was so truly taught, that forthwith his effectual call was perceived by the fruits. For then Bradford did forsake his worldly affairs and forwardness in worldly wealth, and after a just account given to his master of all his doings, he departed from him, and with marvellous favour to further the kingdom of God by the ministry of his holy word, he gave himself wholly to the study of the holy scriptures. The which his purpose to accomplish the better, he departed from the temple at London, where the temporal law is studied, and went to the University of Cambridge, to learn by God's law how to further the building of the Lord's temple. In Cambridge, his diligence in study, his profiting in knowledge, and godly conversation, so pleased all men, that within one whole year after he had been there, the university gave him a degree."

"Immediately after, the master and fellows of Pembroke-hall gave him a fellowship in their college; yea, that man of God, Martin Bucer, so liked him, that he had him not only most dear unto him, but also oftentimes exhorted him to bestow his talent in preaching. Unto which Bradford answered always, that he was unable to serve in that office through want of learning. To the which Bucer was wont to reply, 'If thou have not fine manchet bread yet give the poor people barley bread, or whatsoever else the Lord has committed unto thee.' And while Bradford was thus persuaded to enter into the ministry, Dr. Ridley, that worthy bishop of London and glorious martyr of Christ, according to the order that then was in the church of England, called him to taake the degree of a deacon. Which order because it was not without some abuse, to which Bradford would not consent, the bishop yet perceiving that Bradford was willing to enter into the ministry, was content to order him deacon without any abuse, even as he desired. This being done, he obtained for him a licence to preach, and gave him a prebend in his cathedral church of St. Paul's."

"In this preaching office, by the space of three years, how faithfully Bradford walked, how diligently he laboured, many parts of England can testify. Sharply he opened and reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ crucified, pithily he impugned heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded to godly life."

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