A Father’s Advice To His Children
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 6/20/04
One of my prized possessions is a 1551 Matthew Bible. A wonderful Bible believing Preacher, John Rogers, edited this Bible. It was published in three editions, 1537, 1549 and 1551. John Rogers started out as a Catholic priest, but in 1534 he met William Tyndale. Tyndale did a Bible study with Rogers and was able to lead him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As a result, Rogers became a Gospel preacher, and the companion and helper of Tyndale. He also married a lady from Antwerp. When Tyndale was burned at the stake for his faith in 1536, Rogers inherited the manuscripts of Tyndales translation of the Bible. Tyndale’s translation work was exceptional because he was an excellent Hebrew and Greek scholar and because he translated from the original Hebrew and Greek. Tyndale had published his New Testament in 1526 and a revised one in 1534. He had also translated Genesis from 2 Chronicles and Jonah. Therefore, Rogers took all of Tydale’s work and then used Coverdale’s work from Ezra to Malachi (which was not translated from the originals), and published a Bible under the pseudonym Thomas Matthews, hence the Matthews Bible.
When Protestant King Edward the VI died in 1553 at age 15, his cousin Lady Jane Grey, who was a devout Christian, came to the throne for a short lived reign of only 9 days. Mary I (bloody Mary) came to the throne with the intent of restoring Roman Catholicism throughout England. John Rogers preached a fiery sermon at Saint Paul’s encouraging the people to hold to the Bible and the spiritual truths taught in Edwards reign. As a result, Bloody Mary called for his arrest and imprisonment. He was convicted of heresy for "denying the Christian character of the Church of Rome and the real presence in the Sacrament." Now, you should know that John Rogers had ten children. Rogers had asked to speak to his wife before he was burned at the stake, but his request was denied. Therefore, several days before he died he wrote a long poetic letter to his children.
As he was being led out of prison to be taken to Smithfield to be burned, the Sheriff, Mr. Woodroofe, asked him if he would revoke his abominable doctrine, and the evil opinion of the Sacrament of the altar. Mr. Rogers answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." Then Mr. Woodroofe said, "Thou art an heretic." Rogers responded, "That shall be known, at the Day of Judgment." "Well," said Mr. Woodroofe, "I will never pray for thee." "But I will pray for you," said Rogers. As he walked toward Smithfield, He began to quote Psalm 51 out loud. The French Ambassador, who was a witness wrote of the support given to Rogers by the greatest part of the people: "even his children assisted at it, comforting him in such a manner that it seemed as if he had been led to a wedding."
John Rogers was the first Protestant martyr of Mary's reign with hundreds more to follow, and his friend Bradford wrote that "he broke the ice valiantly." Another historian wrote, he was burnt to ashes, washing his hands in the flames as he was burning. He cheerfully took his death with wonderful patience, in defense of the Gospel of Christ.
Now, that brings me to another book I have in my collection. That is the New England Primer. Earlier I told you about the letter that John Rogers wrote to his ten children and his wife. That letter is recorded in this little primer. It is a father’s advice to his children.
In this message we are going to consider some of the advice John Rogers gave to his children.
In his poetic letter, John Rogers shared with his children that he was a sinner and that Salvation was through the precious blood of Christ. Here is what he said –
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 SAVIOUR'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.
Have you shared with your children why they need to be saved and how you came to know Christ as Savior? Don’t make the mistake of leaving the teaching of Salvation to the Church. Tell them why they need to be saved, tell them how to be saved and tell them how you got saved and then pray for them to be saved.
Rogers writes about his prayers for their salvation –
And I beseech Almighty GOD, replenish you with grace, That I may meet you in the heavens, and see you face to face.
Two sections of Rogers poetic letter deal with being a whole hearted Christian and putting the Lord first.
Keep always God before your eyes with all your whole intent…
Seek first, I say, the living GOD, and always him adore, And then be sure that he will bless, your basket and your store.
John Rogers clearly put God first and with his whole heart. When he could have professed to turn from his New Testament faith and embrace Rome he writes to his children –
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.
Dad’s, do you children see you putting God first? Do they see you seeking the Lord with a whole heart? Do they see you standing for biblical convictions even when the cost is high? Do your children see you focusing on heavenly goals? (Colossians 3:1-4).
Concerning focusing on heavenly Rogers wrote –
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.
Be always thankful to the LORD, with prayer and with praise, Begging of him to bless your work, and to direct your ways
Rogers clear and to the point when he exhorted his children to –
Commit no sin in any wise, keep his commandment.
Dads, you should teach your children that sin is a serious matter! Furthermore, we are to keep the Lord’s commandments.
John Rogers wrote this to his children, warning them to steer clear of sexual sin –
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.
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.
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.