A Quick Look At The Life Of Hugh Latimer

By | 06:30:00 10 comments

One of the guys from Church History that I've loved has been Hugh Latimer (1485 - 1555), who was bishop of Worcester. Today I thought I'd give a quick overview of this mans life.

His Conversion
Hugh Latimer was a very zealous roman catholic who strongly opposed any Lutheran or reformed teachings.
In 1524 a protestant by the name of Thomas Bilney (who afterwards was martyred for his faith) took a strange liking to Latimer & on one occasion asked Latimer to 'hear' his confession.

Thinking that he was going to see the victory of bringing such a man back to the roman catholic church, Latimer accepted the invitation & met up with Bilney. Thomas Bilney basically knelt in front of Latimer and gave his testimony of Christ.
Speaking of this occasion Latimer writes:

"By his confession I learned more than before in many years. So from that time forth I began to smell the word of God, and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries."

Accused of Heresy & a Recanting
Even as quick as one year after his conversion to Christ, Latimer was investigated by the bishop of Ely who suspected him of having Lutheran tendencies He was reassessed again in 1531 & in 1532 was again accused of heresy & only escaped the heretic's fate by a full recantation.

Back to Preaching the Reformed Faith
His recantation didn't last long & when under King Edward VI the church in England became protestant, Latimer began preaching twice every Sunday. In his 1st sermon he hit on a theme that was to be his main call to England through the remainder of his life; a cry to London to repent of covetousness.
During this time Latimer was often to be found preaching before King Edward, for whom he did not water his messages down.

His Sermon StyleLatimer's sermons were talked, and since he would preach for a couple of hours he would use humour to help both himself & his hearers. He is said to have been simplistic & direct with burning zeal & humanity, along with an inexhaustible supply of funny stories & incidents that he noted down throughout his life among people.

His Martyrdom
Edward's reign lasted only six years and when he died, 'bloody Mary' took the throne, undone Edwards protestant reforms & began exterminating protestants, killing more than 300 men, women & children over her short 5 year reign.
Their crime was simply that they held the reformed faith; that justification was by faith alone, apart from works & mass etc...

Latimer who had been in & out of prison many times was arrested, imprisoned, & questioned often by roman catholic committees to which he continually responded with the Word of God.
He did not recant this time even under the threat of death, and on 16/10/1555, alongside Nicholas Ridley, he was brought out to be burned at the stake. As the flames were lit Latimer spoke his famous words:

"Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Both men died martyrs for Jesus, faithful & worthy to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).


Timotheus said...

Thanks for that concise overview of Latimer's life brother. How we need men like that today who don't water down the Gospel depending on who they're speaking to.

Boaly said...

Yeh, I wish I was like that myself, but alas...

Anonymous said...

This is a great story of his conversion...I preached a few weeks ago through John 4 and one of the applications I made was that what with the internet and apologetics and creationism on one side and rampant atheism on the other I think a lot of Christians think they need to go to Bible college to do personal evangelism...I emphasised that they don't all they need to do, like the Samaritan woman did is to give a personal testimoney...."Come see a man who....."

This seems to be exactly what Bilney did...I wish I had know this a few weeks ago...it would have been a great illustration.

Boaly said...

Yeh, Bilney is a great illustration for us in this, no theological arguments, simply presenting his own testimony or confession of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I had never heard of this man before today. Quite the story!

Dan said...

A friend of mine sent me the link to this blog. It is especially refreshing since I've been in conversation with friend who is converting to the Catholic church and is immune to even the most elementary logic. thank you. I am sending the link home and will add you to my blogroll.

I'm especially interested in a couple of links on your blog.....

Boaly said...

aragamuffinsreflections, thesepuritans & reformers are great. I came across a book of his sermons a couple of years ago in a second hand shop for 50p and have loved this guy ever since.

I thought his life quite extraordinary.

Dan, my wife is a converted catholic so I guess I love reading or hearing of such guys like Latimer.
I took a bit of time to pray for your friend there, very sad!

Joel said...

Well, I'm a Catholic, and from what little I know of Latimer, I respect him. I think he was wrong theologically, but he seems to have made his errors for love of God and truth rather than because it was expedient, like so many others of the time. He had his chance to recant, he stood firm, and I think that's the kind of servants God wants. I hope to meet him in heaven someday.

heartafire said...

Aaahhh....I recognized what I little I had heard of him in the last words before the fire. Thanks so much for this post----I am always delighted to learn about men like this---people we will surely know in heaven.

I was especially struck by the story about Bilney and Latimer. What a true man of God Latimer was, to meet with Bilney, having one thing in mind, yet allowing God to capture his heart in another, better direction. That type of humility is always such a Christian flag to me.

Thanks again for a wonderful blog.

Boaly said...

Joel, I wouldn't agree with you about his errors, but I certianly agree about his standing firm, though I believe that it was the grace of God that worked in him to keep him firm in the faith.

Heartafire, my pleasure & i'm glad you enjoyed it.