Word on Fire

Paul writes to Timothy

'I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you'
(2Tim 1:6)

so, to help the church with this, we offer this brief word, because

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord'
(Jeremiah 23:29)

The Burning of Christopher Wade

because we share the same name and passion for Jesus
...and because people like him should be remembered

The accession of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) in 1553 led to the burning of some 280 Protestants throughout England. Christopher Wade, a Dartford linen-weaver, refused to give up the Protestant faith and convert to Catholicism. It was ordered that he should be publicly burned at the stake on Dartford Brent on 17 July 1555.
An account of the burning of Christopher Wade, 17th July 1555, taken from John Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Christopher Wade of Dartford, linen-weaver, was condemned … and appointed to be burned at Dartford. One the day of his execution there was in the morning carried out of the town in a cart, a stake and many bundles of reeds to a place a quartere of a mile out of the town, called the Brimpt, into a gravel pit there, the common place for the execution of felons. There also was brought a load of broom-faggots and tall wood. … to which place resorted [came] the people of the country in great numbers … and also fruiterers with horse-loads of cherries which they sold. About 10 o’clock came the sheriff with a great many other gentlemen and with them Wade and by him Margery Polley of Tunbridge, both singing a psalm. Margery as soon as she saw the multitude gathered at the place they were to burn said to him very loudly and cheerfully, "You may rejoice, Wade, to see such a company [crowd] gathered to celebrate your marriage this day."And Wade … in a long white shirt … coming straight to the stake, he took it in his arms, embracing it and kissed it, setting his back to it and standing in a pitchbarrel. Then a smith brought a hoop of iron and made him fast to the stake under his arms.As soon as he was settled he spoke with his hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, with a cheerful and loud voice, the last verse of Psalm 86 "Show some good token [sign] upon [to] me O Lord, so that they who hate me may see it and be ashamed". Near the stake was a little hill on the top of which … was a pulpit: in to which, as Wade was praying at the stake, a friar [monk] entered. When Wade saw him he cried to the people to embrace [believe] the gospel preached in the days of King Edward and beware the beliefs of the whore of Babylon preached by the friar. The sheriff said, "Be quiet Wade and die patiently". "I am," he said, "I thank God, quiet, master sheriff and so ready to die." When the friar saw he could not get the attention of the people he withdrew without speaking and went away to the town. Then the reeds being put about him, Wade pulled them and embraced them in his arms, always making a hole against his face so that his voice might be heard. … Then fire being put unto him, he cried unto God often "Lord Jesus, receive my soul" … till at length, after the fire was thoroughly kindled, he was heard by no man to speak; even when he was dead and altogether roasted his hands were held up over his head together towards heaven. This sign did God show him so that his enemies might realise that God had heard his prayer and showed him a sign to make them ashamed and confused.

In 1850 a subscription was opened to construct a memorial to Wade and the other Kentish martyrs. The memorial was unveiled in 1851 but was not well-constructed and rapidly fell into decay. Subscriptions for a new memorial were requested in 1887. The restored Martyrs’ Memorial (still standing today) was finally unveiled on 31 October 1888. The Martyrs’ Memorial situated in the old churchyard above East Hill commemorates three Kentish martyrs who were burned at the stake for their faith, Christopher Wade (burned at Dartford 17 July 1555), Margaret Polley (burned at Tonbridge 18 July 1555), and Nicholas Hall (burned at Rochester).
There is a fire reserved for the Devil and his angels. Sadly, throughout history the Devil has counterfeited the works of God, masquerading evil as good. The burning of God's saints is just one such example.


click to enlarge images
Images and some text, above, from http://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk and used with thanks.