Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Who was John Rogers?

We have had in our home now for many years a reprint of the 1777 edition of the New England Primer. This Primer was used to teach children the alphabet and also, reading, writing and the Scriptures. Many of the early fathers of our country grew up with this type of training. While it may seem simple, with our modern complex education system. It is really telling, which one does the better job of molding character and setting the mind for good social service (showing love for his fellow man). The following is a poem that is in the midst of the primer. It is by John Rogers. In light of the conversation we have been having with many Roman Catholics, I thought it might be well to look back and be reminded of faithful men who stood firm against Rome, even when it cost them their lives and denied them opportunity to be with their wife and children, for they were looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.

With this in mind, let me say that I am profoundly amazed when men write such things as this before their death. As they instruct little ones to look unto Jesus and follow Him. That is fresh air. We hear so many today who simply want to have Christ for ease, but I say, "If you will have Christ, be ready to share in His sufferings. If you will love the Son of God, love Him unto death." This was the mind of John Rogers and many of those before him. May God grant us grace, that when we face persecution, tribulation, and trials, we can face those around us and even our spouse and children and say, "It is well with my soul to face these things for Jesus' sake, do thou likewise." Amen.

The primer says this concerning him and the poem:

MR. JOHN ROGERS, minister of the gospel in London, was the first martyr in Queen MARY's reign, and was burnt at Smithfield, February 14,1554. His wife with nine small children, and one at her breast following him to the stake; with which sorrowful sight he was not in the least daunted, but with wonderful patience died courageously for the gospel of JESUS CHRIST.
Some few days before his death, he wrote the following Advice to his Children.

GIVE ear my children to my words
Whom God hath dearly bought,

Lay up his laws within your heart,
and print them in your thoughts.

I leave you here a little book
for you to look upon,

That you may see your father's face
when he is dead and gone:

Who for the hope of heavenly things,
While he did here remain,

Gave over all his golden years
to prison and to pain.

Where I, among my iron bands,
inclosed in the dark,

Not many days before my death,
I did compose this work:

And for example to your youth,
to whom I wish all good,

I send you here God's perfect truth,
and seal it with my blood.

To you my heirs of earthly things:
which I do leave behind,

That you may read and understand
and keep it in your mind.

That as you have been heirs of that

that once shall wear away,

You also may possess that part,
which never shall decay.

Keep always God before your eyes
with all your whole intent,

Commit no sin in any wise,
keep his commandment.

Abhor that arrant whore of ROME,
and all her blasphemies,

And drink not of her cursed cup,
obey not her decrees.

Give honor to your mother dear,
remember well her pain,

And recompence her in her age,
with the like love again.

Be always ready for her help,
and let her not decay,

Remember well your father all,
who would have been your stay.

Give of your portion to the poor,
as riches do arise,

And from the needy naked soul,
turn not away your eyes:

For he that doth not hear the cry
of those that stand in need,

Shall cry himself and not be heard,
when he does hope to speed.

If GOD hath given you increase,
and blessed well your store,

Remember you are put in trust,
and should relieve the poor.

Beware of foul and filthy lust,
let such things have no place,

Keep clean your vessels in the LORD,
that he may you embrace.

Ye are the temples of the LORD,
for you are dearly bought,

And they that do defile the same,
shall surely come to nought.

Be never proud by any means,
build not your house too high,

But always have before your eyes,
that you are born to die.

Defraud not him that hired is,
your labour to sustain,

But pay him still without delay,
his wages for his pain.

And as you would that other men
against you should proceed,

Do you the same to them again,
when they do stand in need.

Impart your portion to the poor,
in money and in meat

And send the feeble fainting soul,
of that which you do eat.

Ask counsel always of the wise,
give ear unto the end,

And ne'er refuse the sweet rebuke
of him that is thy friend.

Be always thankful to the LORD,
with prayer and with praise,

Begging of him to bless your work,
and to direct your ways.

Seek first, I say, the living GOD,
and always him adore,

And then be sure that he will bless,
your basket and your store.

And I beseech Almighty GOD,
replenish you with grace,

That I may meet you in the heavens,
and see you face to face.

And though the fire my body burns,
contrary to my kind,

That I cannot enjoy your love
according to my mind:

Yet I do hope that when the heavens
shall vanish like a scroll,

I shall see you in perfect shape,
in body and in soul.

And that I may enjoy your love,

and you enjoy the land,

I do beseech the living LORD,
to hold you in his hand.

Though here my body be adjudg'd
in flaming fire to fry,

My soul I trust, will straight ascend
to live with GOD on high.

What though this carcase smart awhile
what though this life decay,

My soul I hope will be with GOD,
and live with him for aye.

I know I am a sinner born,
from the original,

And that I do deserve to die
by my fore-father's fall:

But by our SAVI0UR'S precious blood,
which on the cross was spilt,

Who freely offer'd up his life,
to save our souls from guilt;

I hope redemption I shall have,
and all who in him trust,

When I shall see him face to face,
and live among the just.

Why then should I fear death's grim look
since CHRIST for me did die,

For King and Caesar, rich and poor,
the force of death must try.

When I am chained to the stake,
and fagots girt me round,

Then pray the LORD my soul in heaven
may be with glory crown'd.

Come welcome death the end of fears,
I am prepar'd to die:

Those earthly flames will send my soul
up to the Lord on high.

Farewell my children to the world,
where you must yet remain;

The LORD of hosts be your defence,
'till we do meet again.

Farewell my true and loving wife,
my children and my friends,

I hope in heaven to fee you a11,
when all things have their end.

If you go on to serve the LORD,
as you have now begun,

You shall walk safely all your days,
until your life be done.

GOD grant you so to end your days,
as he shall think it best,

That I may meet you in the heavens,
where I do hope to rest.

OUR days begin with trouble here,
our life is but a span,
And cruel death is always near,
so frail a thing is man.

Then sow the seeds of grace whilst young,
that when thou com'st to die,

Thou may'st sing forth that triumph song,
Death where's thy victory.

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