The Testimony of Thomas Haukes
"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." Revelation 2:10
The reign of Queen "Bloody" Mary
Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was born in 1516 and suffered through a terrible childhood of neglect and intolerance. Mary was many times humiliated by her father because he wanted to divorce her mother and would at times call her illegitimate.
This and other things caused her to become so bitter that one day she hoped she would get her revenge. Mary began her tumultuous reign at 37 years of age. Her first act was to repeal the Protestant legislation of her brother, Edward VI, hurling England into a phase of severe religious persecution.
Her major goal was the re-establishment of Catholicism in England. Persecution came more from a desire for purity in faith than from vengeance, yet the fact remains that nearly 300 people were burned at the stake for heresy, earning Mary the nickname, "Bloody Mary." One of those three hundred was a man by the name of Thomas Haukes.
Haukes was of the country of Essex, born of an
honest stock. His profession was that of a courtier and like a gentleman, he was
a man of great comeliness and character. He was known for his gentle behavior
towards others, and his fervent studies of the Scriptures were known by all
those that knew him.
When he died, all things began to go backward. Religion to decay, true piety not only to wax cold, but also to be in danger everywhere and chiefly in the houses of the great. Haukes disliking the state of things and forsaking the nobleman's house, he departed to his own home, where he might more freely give himself to God. Meanwhile, he had born to him a son, whose baptism was deferred to the third week, because he would not allow him to be baptized after the papal manner, which at the time had become mandatory.
Thomas spent most of his life studying the scriptures and was convinced that infant baptism was of the traditions of men, believing that baptism as taught in the scriptures came as a result of accepting Godís gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
His adversaries found out about this, and laid hands upon him, brought him to the Earl of Oxford, there to be reasoned with as not sound in religion, but seeming to contemn the sacraments of the church. He put him in the hands of Bonner, Bishop of London, who began to communicate with Mr. Haukes. He first asked, what should move him to leave his child "unchristened" for so long? To this he answered, "Because we are bound to do nothing contrary to the word of God. His institution I do not deny; but I deny all things invented and devised by man"
Using that as his defense, many high churchmen tried to convince him that he was in error, but their arguments fell apart as Haukes explained the scriptures to them.
In one session they tried to teach that if his son died, he would be damned, and only by the baptism would his sins be washed away. He reminded them that only by true faith and belief in Christ Jesus are sins washed away. His accusers said, "How can your child, being an infant, believe?" Haukes replied, "The deliverance of it from sin standeth in the faith of his parents. The unbelieving man is sanctified by the believing woman, and the unbelieving woman is sanctified by the believing man, or else were your children unclean, but now are they holy."
Each time they tried to convince him of the importance of the ceremonies and traditions of the Church, but Haukes would only show them how the scriptures proved them wrong. Later, they had other people who had recanted to tried to persuade him, but to no avail.
As a last straw, they wrote a document containing twisted statements he made during the interrogations, but he refused to sign. Knowing that his stand would eventually bring his death, he realized that he was in the hands of the living God. He knew that if he was burned at the stake, it was Godís will and it would somehow be a testimony to those involved.
On February 9, 1555, Haukes and six others were condemned to death by burning at the stake. His execution was prolonged until June 10th. On that day, this blessed servant of God was strapped with a chain around his middle. He gave testimony to those there concerning his faith in Christ until the violent flames overtook him.
Prior to the execution, friends of Thomas came to him and asked him that while he was burning, that he would give them a sign that the flames of fire were bearable to endure. He said that he would raise his hands if the flames were bearable.
When all there thought that he had perished, suddenly with his body covered in flames and his skin melting, this servant of God raised his hands and clapped them three times, then fell and died.
The testimony of Thomas Haukes reminds me of the testimony of King David when he said:
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;" Psalms 23:4
Even though his death was detestable and cried of injustice, it was such a testimony to those who were against him. To those who supported him, it brought comfort and hope in knowing that Jesus will never leave or forsake you.
Have you been hurt by someone you love? Has someone betrayed you? Are you looking for something to live and die for?
What would it profit you if you spend your whole life in bondage to this world, only to be in bondage for all eternity?
"I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the father, but by me."