PREVIOUS CHAPTER - NEXT CHAPTER - HELP - FB - TWITTER - GR VIDEOS - GR FORUMS - GR YOUTUBE
VOLUME CONTINUATION OF BOOK 5 CONTAINING THE LAST THREE HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE LOOSING OUT OF SATAN.
RICHARD THE SECOND.
PICTURE: Exhumation of Wickliff AFTER king Edward III. succeeded his son’s son, 1 1 Richard II., being yet but young, of the age of eleven years; who, in the same year of his [grand]father’s decease, with great pomp and solemnity was crowned at Westminster, A.D. 1377: who, following his [grand]father’s steps, was no great disfavorer of the way and doctrine of Wickliff: albeit at the first beginning, partly through the iniquity of time, and partly through the pope’s letters, he could not do that he would. Notwithstanding, something he did in that behalf; more perhaps than in the end he had thank for of the papists, as more (by the grace of Christ) shall appear. But as times do change, so changeth commonly the cause and state of men. The bishops now seeing the aged king to be taken away, during the time of whose old age all the government of the realm depended upon the duke of Lancaster; and now the said bishops again seeing the said duke, with the lord Percy, the lord marshal, to give over their offices, and to remain in their private houses without intermeddling, thought now the time to serve them to have some vantage against John Wickliff; who hitherto, under the protection of the aforesaid duke and lord marshal, had some rest and quiet.
Concerning the story of which Wickliff, I trust, gentle reader, it is not out of thy memory what went before (vol. 2 p. 801), how he being brought before the bishops, by the means of the duke and lord Henry Percy the council was interrupted and brake up before nine of the clock, by reason whereof Wickliff at that time escaped, without any further trouble. Who notwithstanding being by the bishops forbid to deal in that doctrine any more, continued yet with his fellows 2 going barefoot and in long frieze gowns, 3 preaching diligently unto the people. Out of whose sermons these articles most chiefly at that time were collected.
That the church of Rome is not the head of all churches more than any other church is; nor that Peter had any more power given of Christ than any other apostle had. Item, That the pope of Rome hath no more in the keys of the church, than hath any other within the order of priesthood Item, If God be, the lords temporal may lawfully and meritoriously take away their temporalties from the churchmen offending “habitualiter.” Item, If any temporal lord do know the church so offending, he is bound, under pain of damnation, to take the temporalties from the same. Item, That the gospel is a rule sufficient of itself to rule the life of every christian man here, without any other rule. Item, That all other rules, under whose observances divers religious persons be governed, do add no more perfection to the gospel, than doth the white color to the wall. Item, That neither the pope, nor any other prelate of the church, ought to have prisons wherein to punish transgressors.
Beside these articles, divers other conclusions afterward were gathered out of his writings and preachings by the bishops of England, which they sent diligently to pope Gregory XI. at Rome; where the said articles being read and perused, were condemned for heretical and erroneous by twenty-three cardinals.
In the mean time the archbishop of Canterbury, sending forth his citations, as is aforesaid, called before him the said John Wickliff, in the presence of the duke of Lancaster and lord Percy; who, upon the declaration of the pope’s letters made, bound him to silence, forbidding him to treat any more of those matters. But then, through the disturbance of the bishop of London, and the duke, and lord Percy, that matter was soon despatched, as hath been above recorded. And all this was done in the days and last year of king Edward III. and pope Gregory XI. * 3 Wickliff, albeit he was forced by the bishops and prelates to keep silence, yet could not so be suppressed, but that through the vehemency of the truth he burst out afterwards much more fiercely. For Wickliff, having obtained and gotten the goodwill and favor of certain noblemen, attempted again to stir up his doctrine amongst the common people. Then began the Pharisees again to swarm and gather together, with marvellous tragedies striving against the light of the gospel, which began to shine abroad; neither was the pope himself behind with his part, for he never ceased with his bulls and letters to stir up them, who otherwise, of their own accord, were but too furious and mad.* Accordingly, that same year, 4 which was the year of our Lord 1377, being the first year of king Richard II., the said pope Gregory, taking his time, after the death of king Edward sendeth his bull by the hands and means (peradventure) of one master Edmund Stafford, directed unto the university of Oxford, rebuking them sharply, imperiously, and like a pope, for suffering so long the doctrine of John Wickliff to take root, and not plucking it up with the crooked sickle of their catholic doctrine. Which bull when it came to be exhibited unto their hands by the pope’s messenger aforesaid, the proctors and masters of the university, joining together in consultation, stood long in doubt, deliberating with themselves whether to receive the pope’s bull with honor, or to refuse and reject it with shame.
I cannot here but laugh in my mind to behold the authors of this story whom I follow; 5 what exclamations, what wonderings and marvels they make at these Oxford men, for so doubting at a matter so plain, so manifest of itself (as they say), whether the pope’s bull sent to them from Rome was to be received or not; which thing to our monkish writers seemed then such a prodigious wonder, that they with blushing cheeks are fain to cut off the matter in the midst with silence.
THE COPY OF THIS WILD BULL, SENT TO THEM FROM THE POPE, WAS THIS: Gregory the Bishop, the Servant of God’s Servants, to his wellbeloved Sons, the Chancellor and University of Oxford, in the Diocese of Lincoln, Greeting and Apostolical Benediction.
We are constrained both to marvel and lament, that you, who— considering the favors and privileges granted to your university of Oxford by the apostolic see, and your knowledge of the Scriptures, the wide ocean whereof (through the favor of the Lord) you so successfully explore—ought to be champions and defenders of the orthodox faith (without which there is no salvation of souls), through negligence and sloth on your part allow cockle to spring among the pure wheat in the field of your glorious university aforesaid, and (what is worse) to grow up; and take no means (as we were lately informed) for rooting out of the same; to the great blemishing of your fair name, the peril of your souls, the contempt of the Roman church, and the decay of the orthodox faith. And (what grieveth us still more bitterly) the increase of the said cockle is perceived and felt in Rome before it is in England, where (however) the means of extirpating it ought to be applied. It hath, in truth, been intimated to us by many trust-worthy persons (who are much grieved on the subject), that one John Wickliff, rector of Lutterworth, in the diocese of Lincoln, professor of divinity (would that he were not rather a master of errors), hath gone to such a pitch of detestable folly, that he feareth not to teach, and publicly preach, or rather to vomit out of the filthy dungeon of his breast, certain erroneous and false propositions and conclusions, savoring even of heretical pravity, tending to weaken and overthrow the status of the whole church, and even the secular government. Some of these, with a change only in certain of the terms, seem to be identical with the perverse opinions and unlearned doctrine of Marsilius de Padua and John de Ghent of cursed memory, whose book was reprobated and condemned by our predecessor of happy memory, pope John XXII. These opinions, I say, he is circulating in the realm of England, so glorious for power and abundance of wealth, but still more so for the shining purity of its faith, and wont to produce men illustrious for their clear and sound knowledge of the scriptures, ripe in gravity of manners, conspicuous for devotion, and bold defenders of the catholic faith; and some of Christ’s flock he hath been defiling therewith, and misleading from the straight path of the sincere faith into the pit of perdition. Wherefore, being (as in duty bound) unwilling to connive at so deadly a pest, for which if not at once checked, yea, plucked up by the roots, it would be too late to apply a remedy when it had infected multitudes—we strictly charge and command your university by, our apostolic letters, in virtue of your holy obedience, and on pain of forfeiting all the graces, indulgences, and privileges, ever granted to you and your society by the said see, that you never again permit conclusions and propositions to be asserted or propounded which bear unfavorably on good works and faith, yea, though the proposers of them may strive to defend them under some curious disguise of words or terms; and that by our authority you seize or cause to be seized the said John, and send him under trusty keeping to our venerable brethren the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London, or either of them: and morseover that any recusants in the said university, subject to your jurisdiction. (if such there be, which God forbid!) who may be infected with these errors, If they obstinately persist in them, that you do (as in duty hound) firmly and anxiously proceed to a like or other seizure and transmission of them, so that you may supply your lack of diligence, which hath been hitherto remiss as touching the premises, and may obtain beside the reward of the divine recompense, the favor and goodwill also of us and the see aforesaid. Given at St. Mary’s the Greater, Rome,11 Cal. of June, and the seventh year of our pontificate. [May 22d, A.D. 1377.] Beside this bull sent to the university of Oxford, the said pope Gregory directed, moreover, his letters the same time to the archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, and to the bishop of London, named William Courtney, with the conclusions of John Wickliff therein enclosed, commanding them, by virtue of those his letters apostolical, and straitly enjoining them, to cause the said John Wickliff to be apprehended, and cast in prison. 6 Besides this bill or bull of the pope, sent unto the archbishop of Canterbury and to the bishop of London, bearing the date, eleventh Kalend. Jun. and the seventh year of the reign of the pope; I find, moreover, in the said story, two other letters 6 of the pope concerning the same matter, but differing in form, sent unto the same bishops, and all bearing the same date, both of the day, year, and month of the reign of the said pope Gregory; the 7 one directing that in case Wickliff could not be found, he should be warned by public citation to appear before the pope at Rome within three months; the other exhorting the said bishops that the king and the nobles of England should be admonished by them, not to give any credit to the said John Wickliff, or to his doctrine in any wise.
Whereby it is to be supposed that the said pope either was very exquisite and solicitous about the matter, to have Wickliff to be apprehended, who wrote three divers letters to one person, and all in one day, about one business, or else that he did suspect the bearers thereof; the scruple whereof I leave to the judgment of the reader.
Furthermore, beside these letters written to the university, and to the bishops, he directeth also another epistle, bearing the same date, unto king Edward, as one of my stories saith; but as another saith, to king Richard, which soundeth more near the truth; forasmuch as in the seventh year of pope Gregory XI., which was A.D. l378, king Edward was not alive. 8 The copy of his letter to the king here followeth:— THE COPY OF THE EPISTLE SENT BY THE BISHOP OF ROME TO RICHARD, KING OF ENGLAND, TO PERSECUTE JOHN WICKLIFF. To his most dear son in Christ, Edward, the illustrious king of England, health, etc.
The realm of England, which the most High hath put under your governance, a realm glorious for its power and abundance of all things, but still more glorious for its piety and faith, and reflecting the brightness of the sacred page, hath been wont ever to produce men endued with a right understanding of the holy Scriptures, grave in years, fervent in devotion, and defenders of the catholic faith: the which have instructed by wholesome precepts not only their own people, but the people of other countries also, and have directed them into the path of God’s commandments. But we have lately learned (to our great sorrow of heart) by the information of many trustworthy persons, that John Wickliff, rector of Lutterworth in the diocese of Lincoln, professor of divinity (would to God he were not rather a master of errors), hath run to such a detestable and abominable excess of folly, that he hath propounded and set forth certain conclusions full of errors, and containing manifest heresy, which tend to weaken and subvert the status of the whole church; some of which (albeit with a change in certain terms) seem to be identical with the perverse opinions and unlearned doctrine of Marsilius de Padua and John de Ghent, of cursed memory, whose book was reprobated and condemned by our predecessor of happy memory, pope John XXII.
Hitherto, gentle reader, thou hast heard how Wickliff was accused by the bishop. Now you shall also hear the pope’s mighty reasons and arguments, by the which he did confute him to the king. It followeth:— Whereas, therefore, our venerable brethren the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London have received a special commandment from us, by our authority to seize and commit to prison the aforesaid John, and to take and transmit to us his confession touching the said propositions or conclusions; and whereas they are known to need the favor and help of your highness in the prosecution of this business; therefore we request and earnestly entreat your majesty, who as well as your noble progenitors have been wont to be chief defenders of the catholic faith, whose quarrel is involved in the present affair, that for the reverence you owe to God, to the said faith, to the apostolic see, and to our own person, you would vouchsafe to lend your countenance and aid to the said archbishop and bishop, and all others who shall prosecute this matter, assured that, beside the praise of men, you will obtain a divine reward, and the increased goodwill of us and of the said see. Given at Rome, at St. Mary the Greater, the 11th Kal. of June, in the 7th year of our bishopric, A.D. 1377. * 10 These are the whole force and strength of the arguments with the which these apostolic bishops do defend the christian faith, by the which also they do persuade the whole world to the burning of their brethren, whom they, by a slanderous title and name, do call heretics, and we truly, contrariwise, most blessed martyrs. “We will, require, and command you” 11 —what reason is brought herein, but only that will standeth for reason? Whatsoever the pope doth once pronounce or speak, it is counted of such force and effect, that there is no man so hardy or stout, that dare once murmur against it. But they which do succeed in the apostles’ room and place, ought to confer with their brethren with an apostolic spirit and meekness, considering with themselves (according to the counsel of the gospel) “of what spirit,” and whose ministers they are: for whatsoever is lawful unto an extern judge, in a profane cause; or in time past hath been licensed unto tyrants amongst the heathen; or else, whatsoever was permitted unto the bishops of the old law, is not by-and-by fit and decent for the ministers of the New Testament, the which have received a far diverse and contrary spirit, even the spirit of him, which commanded them to learn of him to be humble and meek of heart. Wherefore it were very decent that these men (brag they never so much of the apostles’ succession) do remember themselves, not only that they are ministers and servants, but also whose ministers they are; for, as Themistocles said, that he would not count him a cunning musician that kept neither number nor measure in his song; so likewise must these men think of themselves in the using of their function and office, that they frame themselves no other way, than according to the true harmony of the rule which they have professed. And albeit that Wickliff had been a most great and rank heretic, yet where did the pope learn to bind him in fetters, to lay him in prison, and with force and fire to oppress and persecute him, 12 when as yet he had confuted him by no probable argument, whose cause also, peradventure, he did not sufficiently know? And seeing that John Wickliff had written so many books in Latin, if they had seemed not consonant unto the truth, how worthy a thing had it been for the apostolic dignity, first to have communicated the matter with the man himself, or else to have debated the same (as far as had been lawful) amongst learned men. Truly it had been their office and duty, stoutly to subdue and overthrow errors by the Scriptures, and not by force: and, verily, to accuse him so rashly, to so noble and valiant a prince and king, not having any cause, which either they could not, or would not, bring and allege against him, it seemeth to be a kind of most strange and barbarous cruelty and lightness of men, impudently abusing the majesty of their prince.
And yet these men (whom nothing can once cause to blush or be ashamed) desire to be accounted the successors of the apostles; from whose manners and examples they do so much vary, and are as distant, as we are distant from India. St. Paul willeth, that after thou hast admonished or warned any heretic once or twice, if he do not amend, then to fly and eschew his company [Titus 3:10]. Which of the apostles, at any time, did cast a heretic in prison, were he never so obstinate, or bound him in fetters, either consumed him to ashes? as though the truth itself, and Christ, who is the author of truth, were not strong enough of themselves to reprove heretics, without they were holpen with bonds and torments. St. Paul, instructing the ecclesiastical pastor with apostolic precepts, amongst other things writeth thus to Timothy [2 Timothy 2:24], “It is not meet for the servant of the Lord to fight and strive, but to show himself mild and gentle towards all men, ready to instruct, suffering evil, and with meekness teaching not only those which were seduced through error or ignorance, but also such as do resist, that God in time may give them repentance to know his truth.” And again, writing unto Titus [1:9] he saith that “he must be stout, or strong, to overcome those who resist and gainsay him:” but how? with sword, weapon, or torment? No! I think not; but with the armor and power of the Spirit, and with the word of God. For it is far different to fight with worldly princes, as touching their right, and to dispute in causes of religion, in the church of God. I confess, that according to St. Paul’s word, we must eschew and fly a heretic; but it is one thing to eschew a heretic, and a clean contrary to kill an innocent, instead of a heretic. He that being once or twice admonished or warned, continueth still in his error, is worthy not only to be eschewed of all men, but also by strait imprisonment to be secluded from all good and honest company. But how shall I know that it is an error, without thou do allege better?
From whence then is this example of barbarous cruelty sprung up or come into the christian hierarchy, that they will straight condemn to death, him, whom not only they have not overcome with any arguments, but also not once admonished, for no other cause but only that he seemeth unto them a heretic? wherefore, he that can so boldly pronounce or determine of other men’s heresies, had need to be assuredly grounded as to what is the true sincerity of the faith otherwise, if it were sufficient for every man, that which his own will and affection leadeth him unto, it were to be feared, lest as it happened unto the Jews in time past, the which when they would have crucified Christ as a deceiver, they crucified the very Son of God; so likewise may happen unto them in persecuting of heretics, that they themselves become the greatest heretics of all others. But now-adays, there are many, whom either their nature, or cruelty, or folly, or some vain superstition, hath so moved or stirred up, that albeit they understand and see no more in these matters, than a poor blind man doth in colors; yet is it a world to see with how great boldness they will determine and pronounce against heretics. And yet, these are they which cannot fail, err, or be deceived; 13 neither is it lawful for any man to examine their wills by the censure of any human judgment! O most miserable estate of the church! seeing that the whole state of christian people dependeth in the will (as it were in the beck) of any one man, that whatsoever doth either please or displease his blockish brain, it must be received and embraced of all men; and according thereunto, the whole religion to be applied and formed. What other thing is this, than to refer Christs religion unto men’s wills, and not men unto religion? But now we will leave to speak any more of the pope, and return unto Wickliff.* The articles included in the pope’s letters, which he sent to the bishops and to the king against Wickliff, were these which in order do follow:— THE CONCLUSIONS OF JOHN WICKLIFF, 10 EXHIBITED IN THE CONVOCATION OF CERTAIN BISHOPS AT LAMBETH. I. The whole human race concurring, without Christ, have not power simply [or, absolutely] to ordain that Peter and all his meiny 15 should rule over the world politically for ever [in perpetuum].
IV. Every one existing [or, being] in grace 11 justifying finally, not only hath a right unto, but in fact hath, all the things of God [or, not only hath a right unto the thing, but for his time hath by right a power over all the good things of God]. V. A man can give dominion to his natural or adopted son, 17 whether that dominion be temporal or eternal, only ministerially.
VI. If God be, temporal lords can lawfully and meritoriously take away the goods of fortune from a delinquent church. 12 VII. We know that it is not possible that the vicar of Christ, merely by his bulls, or by them together with his own will and consent, and that of his college of cardinals, can qualify or disqualify any man.
VIII. It is not possible that a man should be excommunicated to his damage, unless he be excommunicated first and principally by himself.
IX. Nobody ought to excommunicate, suspend, or interdict any one, or proceed to punish according to any ecclesiastical censure, except in the cause of God. X. Cursing or excommunication doth not bind, except in so far as it is used against art adversary of the law of Christ.
XV. This ought to be universally believed, that every priest rightly ordained according to the law of grace hath a power, according to which he may minister all the sacraments secundum speciem, and, by consequence, may absolve him who hath confessed to him, and is contrite, from any sin.
XVI. It is lawful for kings, in cases limited by law, to take away the tem-poralties from churchmen who habitually abuse them. XVII. If the pope, or temporal lords, or any other, shall have endowed the church with temporalties, it is lawful for them to take them away in certain cases, namely, when the doing so is by way of medicine to cure or prevent sins, and that, notwithstanding excommunication or any other church censure, since these endowments were not given but under a condition implied. XVIII. An ecclesiastic, even the Roman pontiff himself, may lawfully be rebuked by their subjects for the benefit of the church, and be impleaded by both clergy and laity. The above letters, with these articles enclosed, being received from the pope, *the 23 bishop of Canterbury and other bishops took no little heart; for, being partly encouraged by them, and partly moved and pricked forward by their own fierceness and cruelty, it is to be marvelled at, with what boldness and stomach they did openly profess, before their provincial council,* that all manner respects of fear or favor set apart, no person, neither high nor low, should let them, neither would they be *seduced 24 by the entreaty of any man, neither by any-manner threatenings or rewards; but that in the cause, they would follow straight and upright justice and equity, yea, albeit that danger of life should follow thereupon: surely a very good and noble promise, if they had determined this justice within his right bounds.* But these so fierce brags and stout promise, with the subtle practices of these bishops, who thought themselves so sure before, the Lord, against whom no determination of man’s counsel can prevail, by a small occasion did lightly confound and overthrow. For the day of the examination being come 25 a certain personage of the prince’s court, and yet of no great noble birth, named Lewis Clifford, entering in among the bishops, commanded them that they should not proceed with any definitive sentence against John Wickliff.
With which words all they were so amazed, and their combs so cut, that, as in the story is mentioned, they became so mute and speechless, as men having not one word in their mouth to answer. 26 And thus, by the wondrous work of God’s providence, John Wickliff escaped the second time out of the bishops’ hands, and was by them clearly dismissed upon his declaration made of his articles, as anon shall follow.
Moreover, here is not to be passed over, how at the same time, and in the said chapel of the archbishop at Lambeth, where the bishops were sitting upon John Wickliff, the historian, writing of the doing thereof, addeth these words, saying: 27 “I say, not only that the citizens of London, but also the vile abjects of the city, presumed to be so bold in the same chapel at Lambeth, where the bishops were sitting upon John Wickliff, as both to entreat for him, and also to let and stop the same matter; trusting, as I suppose, upon the negligence which they saw before, in the bishops,” etc.
Over and besides, here is not to be forgotten, how the said John Wickliff, the same time of his examination, offered and exhibited unto the bishops, in writing, a protestation, with a declaration or exposition of his own mind upon the said his articles, the effect whereof here followeth. THE PROTESTATION OF JOHN WICKLIFF. First of all, I publicly protest, as I have often before done, that I purpose and will with my whole heart, by the grace of God, to be an entire Christian, and as long as breath shall remain in me to profess and defend the law of Christ so far as I am able. And if through ignorance, or any other cause, I shall fail therein, I ask pardon of my God, and do now, as before, revoke and retract it, humbly submitting myself to the correction of holy mother church.
And for-somuch as an opinion concerning the faith which I have taught in the schools and elsewhere hath been reported by children, and moreover hath been conveyed beyond sea by these children even to the court of Rome; therefore, lest Christians should be scandalized on my account, I wish to set down in writing my opinion for the which I am impeached, the which opinion I will defend even unto death, as I believe all Christians ought to do, but specially the bishop of Rome and the rest of the priests of the church. But I understand the conclusions after the sense and manner of speaking of the scripture and the holy doctors, the which [sense and manner of speaking] I am ready to expound; and if the conclusions shall then be found contrary to the faith, I am willing and most ready to revoke them.
AN EXPOSITION UPON THE CONCLUSIONS OF JOHN WICKLIFF, EXHIBITED BY HIM TO THE BISHOPS.
And it is plain that it is not in the power of men to hinder the coming of Christ to the final judgment, in the which we are bound to believe according to that article of the Creed, “From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.” For after that, according to the faith delivered in Scripture, all human polity shall cease. But I understand political dominion, or civil secular government, to pertain to the laity who are actually living, on their pilgrimage, whilst they are absent from the Lord: for it is of such a political dominion that the philosophers speak. And although that which is periodical [or, terminable] is sometimes styled perpetual [or, for ever], yet because in holy Scripture, in the use of the church, and in the books of the philosophers, perpetual is plainly used commonly in the sense of eternal, I accordingly suppose the term to be taken here in that more famous signification; for thus the church singeth, “Glory be to God the Father, and to his only Son, with the Spirit the Paraclete, both now and for ever [in perpetuum]. And then the conclusion Immediately followeth on the principles of the faith; since, it is not in the power of men to appoint the pilgrimage of the church to be without end.
By civil dominion I mean the same that I meant above by political dominion, and by perpetual [or, for ever] the same that I did before, as the Scripture understandeth the “perpetual habitations” in the state of blessedness. I have said, therefore, First, that God of his ordinary power cannot give man civil dominion for ever. I have said, Secondly, that it seemeth probable that God of his absolute power cannot give man such a dominion for ever, because he cannot, as it seemeth, always imprison his spouse on the way, nor for ever defer the ultimate completion of her blessedness.
This is an incident truth. For we ought not to reckon as catholic [canonizare] all the charters that are held by an unjust occupier. But if it were so determined by the faith of the church, occasion would be given to the chartered to trust in temporalties, and too much encouragement to petition for them. For as every truth is necessary, so every error may be supposed possible; as is plain by the testimony of Scripture, and of the holy doctors, who entreat of the necessity of things future.
IV. “Every one existing [or, being] in grace justifying finally, 29 not only hath a right unto, but in fact hath. all the things of God: or, hath not only a right unto the thing, but for his time hath by right a power over all the good things of God.”
This is plain from Scripture; because the Truth Himself promiseth this to those citizens who enter into his joy (Matthew 24); “Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” For the right of the communion of saints in their own country is founded objectively on the universality of the good things of God. V. “ A man can give dominion to his natural or adopted son, whether that dominion be temporal or eternal, only ministerially.”
This is plain from the fact, that every man ought to acknowledge himself in all his works an humble minister of God; as is evident from Scripture, “Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ.” Nay Christ himself so ministered, and taught his principal apostles so to minister. But in their own country the saints will give to their brethren the dominion of goods; as is plain from their mode of acting in the body, or their disposal of good things inferior by nature; according to that of Luke 6.” Good measure pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.”
This conclusion is correlative with the first article of the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” But I understand the word can as the Scripture doth, which granteth that God can of stones raise up children unto Abraham. For, otherwise, all christian princes would be heretics. For the first conclusion on the argument is thus formed: If God is, he is almighty; and if so, he can prescribe to temporal lords so to take away the goods of fortune from a delinquent church; and if so, they can lawfully so take them away. Ergo, etc. Wherefore, in virtue of that principle, christian princes have ever put that opinion in practice.
But God forbid that from thence it should be believed, that it was my meaning, that secular lords can lawfully take them away when and howsoever they please, or by their bare authority: but they may do it only by the authority of the church, and in cases and form limited by law.
VII. “We know that it is not possible, that the vicar of Christ, merely by his bulls, or by them together with his own will and consent, and that of his college [of cardinals], can qualify or disqualify any man.”
This is plain from the catholic faith. Since it behoveth the Lord in every vicarious operation to maintain the primacy. Therefore, as in every qualifying of a subject, meetness and worthiness are required of the subject to be qualified, so in every disqualification there is first required a deserving from some dement of the person to be disqualified; and, by consequence, such a qualifying or disqualifying is not made purely by the ministry of the vicar of Christ, but from above, from elsewhere [or, from some other].
VIII. “It is not possible, that a man should be excommunicated to his damage, unless he be excommunicated first and principally by himself.”
This is plain; since such an excommunication must be originally founded on the sin of the party damaged. Whence Augustine in his 21st Sermon on the words of our Lord saith, “Do not thou misuse thyself, and man shall not get the better of thee.” And to this day the faith of the church singeth, “No adversity shall do us any hurt, if iniquity do not prevail.” To this eighth conclusion we add, that, notwithstanding, all excommunication is to be dreaded on many accounts, even although the excommunication of the church be to the humble excommunicate, not damnable, but wholesome.
This appeareth from the fact, that every just cause is the cause of God, to which point respect ought chiefly to be had. Nay, a love for the excommunicate ought to exceed the zeal or appetite of punishment, and the affection for any temporal things. Since, otherwise, even he that excommunicateth injureth himself. To this ninth conclusion we add, that it is agreeable thereto, that a prelate should excommunicate in human causes, but principally on the account that an injury is done to his. God, as appeareth from [Decreti Pars II. Causa] 23. Quaest. 4, cap. 27. “inter querelas.”
This is plain, since it is God only that bindeth simply [or, absolutely] every one that is bound; who cannot excommunicate unless it be for a transgression of, or prevaricating with, his own law. To this tenth conclusion we add, that it is consonant thereto, that the ecclesiastical censure, used against an adversary of a member of the church, doth bind secondarily, though not absolutely.
This is plain from the faith taught in Scripture, according to which we believe that God is to be loved above all things, and our neighbor and enemy more than all the temporalties of this world; and it is necessarily so, because the law of God is not contradictory to itself.
As is plain from Scripture (Luke 22), where Christ forbade his Apostles to reign civilly [or, to exercise any temporal dominion]: “The kings of the gentiles,” saith he, “exercise lordship over them, but ye shall not be so.” And in that sense the passage is expounded by St. Bernard, St. Chrysostom, and other saints. We add to this twelfth conclusion, that, notwithstanding, they may exact temporalties by ecclesiastical censures accessorie, in vindication of their God.
The opposite of this would destroy the whole catholic faith. Since it importeth no less than blasphemy, to suppose any one to usurp such an absolute power of the Lord’s. I add to this thirteenth conclusion, that I do not intend by this conclusion to derogate from the power of the pope or of any other prelate of the church, but do allow that they may, in virtue of the Head, bind and loose. But I understand the denied conditional as impossible in this sense; that it cannot be that the pope or any other prelate should pretend that he doth bind or loose at any rate [or, just as he will], unless he do in fact so bind and loose; and then he cannot be guilty of any fault [peccabilis].
XV. “This ought to be universally believed, that every priest rightly ordained according to the law of graces hath a power, according to which he may minister all the sacraments secundum speciem, and, by consequence, may absolve him who has confessed to him, and is contrite, from any sin.”
This is plain from the fact, that the priestly power is not more or less sufficient in its essence: notwithstanding, the powers of inferior priests are at one time reasonably restrained, and at other times relaxed to meet the exigences of the ministry. I add to this fifteenth conclusion, that, according to the doctors, every prelate hath a twofold power, viz. a power of order, and a power of jurisdiction or government; and that it is in reference to this last that they are prelates, viz. as being of a superior majesty and government.
This is plain from the fact, that temporal lords ought to depend more on spiritual alms, which bring forth greater plenty of fruit, than on alms for the necessities of the body; and that it may happen to be a work of spiritual alms to correct such clergymen as damage themselves both in soul and body, by withholding from them the temporalties. The case which the law putteth is, when the spiritual head [or, president] doth fail in punishing them, or that the faith of the clerk is to be corrected, as appeareth [Decreti Pars II. Causa] 16. Quaest.7. “filiis,” and [Decreti Pars I.] distinctio 40. “Si papa” XVII. If the pope, or temporal lords, or any other, shall have endowed the church with temporalties, it is lawful for them to take them away in certain cases, viz. when the doing so is by way of medicine to cure or prevent sins, and that, notwithstanding excommunication or any other church censure: since these endowments were not given, but with a condition implied.”
This is plain from the fact, that nothing ought to hinder a man from doing the principal works of charity necessarily, and that in every human action the condition of God’s good pleasure is necessary to be understood, as in the civil law, De Capitulis Conradi, c, 5, in fine collationis 10. We add to this seventeenth article, God forbid that by these words occasion should be given to the temporal lords to take away the goods of fortune to the detriment of the church.
This is plain from the fact, that the pope himself(as is here supposed) is capable of sin, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; saving the sanctity, humility, and reverence, due to so worthy a Father. And since he is our peccable brother [or, liable to sin as well as we], he is subject to the law of brotherly reproof. And when, therefore, it is plain that the whole college of cardinals are remiss in correcting him for the necessary welfare of the church, it is evident that the rest of the body of the church, which, as it may chance, may chiefly be made up of the laity, may medicinally reprove him, and implead him, and reduce him to lead a better life.
This possible case is handled dist. 40, “Si papa fuerit a fide devius.” For as so great a lapse ought not to be supposed in the lord pope without manifest evidence, so it ought not to be supposed possible that when he doth fall he should be guilty of so great obstinacy, as not humbly to accept a cure from his superior with respect to God. Wherefore many chronicles attest the facts of this conclusion. God forbid that truth should be condemned by the church of Christ, because it soundeth ill in the ears of sinners and ignorant persons: for then the whole faith of the Scripture would be liable to be condemned.
Thus John Wickliff, in giving his exposition unto his aforesaid propositions and conclusions, as is above prefixed, through the favor and diligence of the Londoners either shifted off the bishops, or else satisfied them so, that for that time he was dismissed and scaped clearly away, only being charged and commanded by the said bishops, that he should not teach or preach any such doctrine any more, for the offense of the lay people.
Thus this good man being escaped from the bishops with this charge aforesaid, yet notwithstanding ceased not to proceed in his godly purpose, laboring and profiting still in the church as he had begun; unto whom also, as it happened by the providence of God, this was a great help and stay, for that in the same year 31 the aforesaid pope Gregory XI., who was the stirrer up of all this trouble against him, turned up his heels and died. * 32 Whose death was not a little happy to Wickliff; for immediately after his decease there fell a great dissension between the Romish and the French pope,* and others succeeding them, one striving against another, that the schism thereof endured the space of thirty-nine years, until the time of the Council of Constance ( A.D. 1417) The occasioner of which schism first was pope Urban VI., who in the first beginning of his popedom was so proud and insolent to his cardinals and other (as to dukes, princes, and queens), and so set to advance his nephew and kindred, with injuries to other princes, that the greatest number of his cardinals and courtiers by little and little shrunk from him, and set up another French pope against him, named Clement VII., who reigned sixteen years; and after him Benedict XIII., who reigned twenty-three years.
Again, of the contrary side, after Urban VI. succeeded Boniface IX., Innocent VII., Gregory XII., Alexander V., John XXIII. ( A.D. 1410). As touching this pestilent and most miserable schism, it would require here another Iliad to comprehend in order all the circumstances and tragical parts thereof; what trouble in the whole church; what parts-taking in every country; what apprehending and imprisoning of priests and prelates taken by land and sea; what shedding of blood did follow thereof; how Otho, duke of Brunswick and prince of Tarentum, was taken and murdered; how Joan, queen of Jerusalem and Sicily, his wife, who before had sent to pope Urban, besides other gifts at his coronation, forty thousand ducats in pure gold, after by the said Urban was committed to prison, and in the same prison strangled; what cardinals were racked, and miserably, without all mercy, tormented on gibbets to death; what slaughter of men, what battles were fought between the two popes, whereof five thousand on the one side were slain, beside the number of them who were taken prisoners; of the beheading of five cardinals together after long torments; and how the bishop of Aquila,21 being suspected of pope Urban for not riding faster with the pope, his horse being not good, was there slain by the pope’s commandment, sending his soldiers unto him to slay him and cut him in pieces. All these things, with divers other acts of horrible cruelty happening in the time of this abominable schism, because they are abundantly discoursed at full by Theodricus Niemus, 35 who was near to the said pope Urban and present at all his doings, therefore, as a thing needless, I here pretermit; referring them who covet to be certified more amply herein, unto the three books of the said Theodric, above mentioned.
About the same time also, about three years after, there fell a cruel dissension in England, between the common people and the nobility, the which did not a little disturb and trouble the commonwealth. In this tumult Simon of Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury, was taken by the rustical and rude people, and was beheaded; in whose place after succeeded William Courtney, who was no less diligent than his predecessor had been before him, in doing his diligence to root out heretics. Notwithstanding, in the mean season, Wickliff’s sect increased privily, and daily grew to greater force, until the time that William Berton, chancellor of Oxford, about A.D. 1381, had the whole rule of that university: who calling together eight monastical doctors, and four other, with the consent of the rest of his affinity putting the common seal of the university unto certain writings, he set forth an edict, declaring unto every man, and threatening them under a grievous penalty, that no man should be so hardy, hereafter to associate themselves with any of Wickliff’s abettors or favorers: and unto Wickliff himself he threatened the greater excommunication and farther imprisonment, and to all his fautots, unless that they after three-days’ admonition or warning, canonical and peremptory (as they call it), did repent and amend, 36 The which thing when Wickliff understood, forsaking the pope and all the clergy, he thought to appeal unto the king’s majesty; but the duke of Lancaster coming between forbade him, that he should not hereafter attempt or begin any such matters, but rather submit himself unto the censure and judgment of his ordinary. Whereby Wickliff being beset with troubles and vexations, as it were in the midst of the waves, he was forced once again to make confession of his doctrine; in the which his confession, to avoid the rigour of things, he answered as is aforesaid, making his declaration, and qualifying his assertions after such a sort, that he did mitigate and assuage the rigour of his enemies. The next year after ( A.D. 1882), by the commandment of William, archbishop of Canterbury, there was a convocation holden at London, whereat John Wickliff was also commanded to be present; but whether he there appeared personally or not, I find it not in story certainly affirmed. Here is not to be passed over the great miracle of God’s divine admonition or warning; for when as the archbishop and suffragans, with the other doctors of divinity and lawyers, with a great company of babbling friars and religious persons, were gathered together to consult as touching John Wickliff’s books, and that whole sect; when as they were gathered together at the Black-Friars 40 in London to begin their business upon St.
Dunstan’s day, after dinner, about two of the clock, the very hour and instant that they should go forward with their business, a wonderful and terrible earthquake fell throughout all England: 41 whereupon divers of the suffragans, being feared by the strange and wonderful demonstration, doubting what it should mean, thought it good to leave off from their determinate purpose. But the archbishop (as chief captain of that army, more rash and bold than wise) interpreting the chance which had happened clean contrary to another meaning or purpose, did confirm and strengthen their hearts and minds, which were almost daunted with fear, stoutly to proceed and go forward in their attempted enterprise: who then discoursing Wickliff’s articles, not according unto the sacred canons of the holy Scripture, but unto their own private affections and men’s traditions, pronounced and gave sentence, that some of them were simply and plainly heretical, other some half erroneous, others irreligious, some seditious and not consonant to the church of Rome. *Besides 42 the earthquake aforesaid, there happened another strange and wonderful chance, sent by God, and no less to be marked than the other, if it be true, that was reported by John Huss’s enemies. 26 These enemies of his, amongst other principal points of his accusation, objected and laid this to his charge at the Council of Constance; that he should say openly unto the people as touching Wickliff, that at what time as a great number of religious men and doctors were gathered together in a certain church to dispute against Wickliff, suddenly, the door of the church was broken open with lightning, in such sort, that his enemies hardly escaped without hurt. This thing, albeit that it were objected against Huss by his adversaries (neither is it in the story of Wickliff, that I can find or know), yet, forsomuch as he did not deny the same, neither, if he so said, it seemeth that he would speak it without some ground or reason, I have not thought it good to leave it clean out of memory. Of like credit is this also, which is reported of Wickliff (which thing I do here write only of report), that when as Wickliff was lying very sick at London, certain friars came unto him to counsel him; and when they had babbled much unto him, as touching the catholic church, and of the acknowledging of his errors, and of the bishop of Rome; Wickliff, being moved with the foolishness and absurdity of their talk, with a stout stomach, setting himself upright in his bed, repeated this saying out of the Psalms, [118. 17], “I shall not die, but I shall live, and declare the works of the Lord;” the which thing, if it be so true, as it is reported of some, it doth declare and show a great fervency and desire of the spirit in that man, passing and above the common state of our human nature and infirmity,43 * The causes alleged of the archbishop, William Courtney, for the conventing together of the aforesaid council, with the time and place thereof, and the articles of John Wickliff condemned therein, here follow underwritten, truly copied out of the archbishop’s own registers. PROCESS OF ARCHBISHOP COURTNEY RESPECTING HERESY.
Be it remembered, that—whereas, as well among the nobles as the commons of the realm of England, a rumor had spread of certain conclusions heretical and erroneous, and repugnant to the determinations of the church, and which tend to overthrow the status of the whole church and of our province of Canterbury, and likewise the tranquillity of the realm, being preached in divers places of our said province generally, commonly, and publicly— We William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, being desirous to be certified of these matters, and to execute the duty of our office, did assemble together certain fellow-brethren, our suffragans, and others a great many, doctors and bachelors of divinity and of the canon and civil law, whom we believed to be the most famous and skillful men and of the soundest judgment in religion in all the realm, whose names hereunder follow. And on the 17th day, in the year of our Lord 1382, the same being assembled in a certain chamber within the precincts of the priory of the Preaching Friars at London, the said conclusions (the tenor whereof hereunder ensueth) having been publicly propounded and distinctly and clearly read before us and our aforesaid fellowbrethren then and there personally present, we burdened our fellow-brethren and the doctors and bachelors aforesaid, on the faith wherein they stood bound to our Lord Jesus Christ, and as they would answer before the most High Judge in the day of judgment, that they should severally tell us their opinion touching the said conclusions.
And at length, after deliberation had upon the premises, our fellowbrethren the bishops, and the doctors and bachelors aforesaid, being re-assembled before us on the 21st day of the same month in the chamber aforesaid, the said conclusions being a second time read and clearly set forth, it was declared, with the common consent of us all, that some of the said conclusions are heretical, and others erroneous and contrary to the determination of the church, as hereafter shall more fully appear. And forsomuch as by sufficient information we find, that the said conclusions have been, as is premised, preached in many places of our said province, and that divers persons have held and maintained the same, and be of heresy vehemently and notoriously suspected, we have instituted the processes—as well general as special—which are underwritten.
The articles of John Wickliff 28 here above specified, whereof some ten were by these friars condemned as heretical, the rest as erroneous, here in order follow, and are these: although it may be thought, that some of them were made worse by their sinister collecting than he meant them in his own works and writings.
THE ARTICLES OF JOHN WICKLIFF CONDEMNED AS HERETICAL. 1. That the substance of material bread and wine doth remain in the sacrament of the altar after consecration. 2. That the accidents do not remain without the subject in the same sacrament, after consecration. 3. That Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar identically, truly, and really, in his proper corporal person. 4. That if a bishop or a priest be in mortal sin, he doth not ordain, consecrate, nor baptize. 5. That if a man be duly contrite, all exterior confession is to him superfluous and invalid. 6. That God ought to obey the devil. 7. That it hath no foundation in the gospel, that Christ did ordain the mass. 8. That if the pope be a reprobate and an evil man, and consequently a member of the devil, he hath no power over the faithful of Christ given to him by any, unless it be by Caesar [or, except peradventure it be given him by the emperor]. 9. That after Urban VI. none other is to be received for pope, but that Christendom ought to live after the manner of the Greeks under its own laws. 10. That it is against the sacred Scripture, that ecclesiastical persons should have any temporal possessions. THE OTHER ARTICLES OF JOHN WICKLIFF, CONDEMNED AS ERRONEOUS. 11. That no prelate ought to excommunicate any man except he first know him to be excommunicate of God. 12. That he who doth so excommunicate, is thereby himself either a heretic or excommunicated. 13 .That a prelate or bishop excommunicating a cleric who hath appealed to the king or the council of the realm, in so doing is a traitor to the king and the realm. 14. That they who leave off to preach or hear the word of God or the gospel preached, for fear of such excommunication, are already excommunicate, and in the day of judgment shall be counted traitors to God. 15. That it is lawful for any deacon or presbyter to preach the word of God, without the authority or license of the apostolic see or any other of its catholics. 16. That a man is no civil lord, nor bishop, nor prelate, as long as he is in mortal sin. 17. Also, that temporal lords may at will take away their temporal goods from churches habitually delinquent. 18. That tithes are pure almose, 31 and that parishioners may for the offenses of their curates detain them, and bestow them on others at pleasure; and that tenants [populates] may correct delinquent landlords [dominos] at will. 19. Also, that special prayers, applied to any one person by prelates or religious men, do no more profit the same person, than general prayers would, caeteris paribus, profit him. 20. That whosoever doth give any almose unto friars, or to any friar that preacheth, is excommunicate; as also is he that taketh. 21 . Moreover, in that any man doth enter into any private religion whatsoever, he is thereby made more unapt and unable to observe the commandments of God. 22. That holy men, who have instituted any private religions whatsoever (as well of seculars having possessions, as of begging friars who have none), in so instituting did err. 23. That religious men living in private religions are not of the christian religion. 24 . That friars are bound to get their living by the labor of their hands, and not by begging.
The names of the jurors were these:—Eight bishops: William of Canterbury, William of Winchester, John of Durham, Thomas of Exeter, John of Hereford, Ralph of Sarum, Thomas of Rochester, and friar William Bottlesham, bishop nanetensis. Doctors of civil and canon law, fourteen: John Appelby, dean of St. Paul’s; John Waltham, canon of York; Thomas Baketon, archdeacon of London; Nicholas Chaddesdene, Ralph Gregrisyow, Thomas Stowe, John Blawnchard, William Rocoumbe, John Lydeford, John Welbourne; William Flaynburgh, Adam de Mottrum, licentiate in the Decrees; Thomas Braundon, John Prophet, rector of Hadesham in Kent, the pope’s public notary. Three Preaching friars of London: William Syward, prior, John Parys, John Langley. Four Minorites: William Folvyle, Hugh Karlel, Roger Fryseby, Thomas Bernwell.
Augustine friars, four: Thomas Ayshbourne, John Bankyn, Robert Waldeby, John Horninton. Carmelites, four: Robert Glanvile, William Dys, John Lovey, John Kyningham. And Monks, two:
John Wells, monk of Ramsey, John Bloxham, warden of Merton Hall, Oxford. Bachelors of divinity, six: Robert Humbleton, William Pickweth, John Lyndlowe, Dominicans; Ralph Wych, Franciscan; John Chiseldene, John Toniston, Carmelites. * 51 When these conclusions were thus condemned in the council of the earthquake (as Wickliff called it), it was given forth in commandment unto friar Peter Stokes, a Carmelite, at Oxford, and unto the bishop of London, that by their means the condemnation of the conclusions should be published throughout the university and the whole province,* in form as followeth: — THE MANDATE OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY DIRECTED TO THE BISHOP OF LONDON, AGAINST JOHN WICKLIFF AND HIS ADHERENTS.
William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, to our reverend brother, by the grace of God bishop of London, greeting, and brotherly love in the Lord. The prelates of churches ought so much the more vigilantly to intend the keeping of the Lord’s flock committed unto them, by how much the more they know that wolves, dressed up in sheep’s clothing, be fraudulently going about to worry and scatter the sheep. Truly, by continual cry and bruited fame (which it grieveth us to relate) it is come to our hearing, that although, by the canonical sanctions, no man, being forbidden or not sent, ought to usurp to himself the office of preaching, publickly or privily, without the authority of the apostolic see or of the bishop of the place; yet notwithstanding, certain, being sons of perdition under the veil of great sanctity, are brought into such a doating mind, that they take upon them authority to preach, and are not afraid to affirm, and teach, and generally, commonly, and publicly to preach, as well in the churches as in the streets, and also in many other profane places of our said province, certain propositions and conclusions hereunder recited, both heretical, erroneous, and false, condemned by the church of God, and repugnant to the determinations of holy church, which threaten to subvert the whole status of the same, and of our province of Canterbury, and to weaken and destroy the tranquillity of the realm; who also infect therewith very many good christians, causing them lamentably to err from the catholic faith, without which there is no salvation.
We therefore—considering that so pernicious a mischief as this is, which may creep amongst many, with its deadly contagion slaying their souls, we ought not to suffer and by dissimulation to pass over, lest their blood be required at our hands, but wishing as much as is permitted us from above to extirpate the same—with the counsel and assent of many of our brethren and suffragans, we convoked divers doctors of divinity and professors of the canon and civil law and other clerks, the best learned within the realm, and of the soundest judgment in the catholic faith, to give their opinions and judgments concerning the aforesaid conclusions. But, forsomuch as the said conclusions and assertions having been in the presence of us and our fellow-brethren and the other convocares openly expounded and diligently examined, it was in the end found and unanimously declared, that some of those conclusions were heretical, and some of them erroneous and repugnant to the determinations of the church, as they are hereunder described; we charge and command your brotherhood, and in virtue of holy obedience firmly enjoin you, to enjoin all and singular our brethren the suffragans of our church of Canterbury, with all the speed you possibly can, as we do hereby enjoin them and each of them and yourself, that every of them, in their own cathedral churches, and in the other churches of their cities and dioceses, do admonish and warn; and that you in your own church, and the other churches of your city and diocese, do admonish and warn; as we, by the tenor of these presents, do admonish and straitly warn; once, twice, and thrice, assigning for the first admonition one day, for the second admonition another day, and for the third admonition, canonical and peremptory, another day—That no man henceforth, of what estate or condition soever, do hold, teach, preach, or defend the aforesaid heresies and errors, or any of them; nor that he admit to preach any one that is prohibited or not sent to preach, or any one else of whom there is any doubt; nor that he hear or hearken to any one preaching the said heresies or errors, or any of them; nor that he favor or adhere to him, either publicly or privily; but that immediately he shun and avoid him, as he would avoid a serpent putting forth pestiferous poison; under pain of the greater curse: the which against all and singular who shall be rebellious in this behalf, and shall not regard our monitions, after that those three days be past which are assigned for the canonical monition, their delay, fault, and offense committed so requiring, we do hereby pronounce, for then as for now, and do command to be fulminated, both by every one of our fellow-brethren and suffragans in their cities and dioceses, and by you in your city and diocese, so much as belongeth both to you and to them.
And furthermore, we for our part will and command our aforesaid fellow-brethren, all and singular, through you, by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, and likewise exhort you, that as, according to the institution of the sacred canons, they be in their respective cities and dioceses inquisitors of heretical pravity, and you also in your city and diocese be the like inquisitor of heretical pravity, that of such presumptions they and you carefully and diligently inquire, and that both they and you (according to the duty of your office) do proceed effectually against the same, to the honor and praise of His name that was crucified, and for the preservation of the orthodox faith,52 Given at our manor of Otteford, the last day but one of May, in the year of our Lord MCCCLXXXII  and the first of our translation.
MATTERS INCIDENT OF ROBERT RYGGE, 36 CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD, NLCHOLAS HEREFORD: AND PHILIP REPPYINGDON, WITH OTHER The chancellor the same time in Oxford was Master Robert Rygge; * 2 who, as it seemeth, inclining and favoring Wickliff’s part, as much as he could or durst, providing for the defense of the truth, many times dissembled and cloked certain matters, and oftentimes (as opportunity would serve) preferred and holpe forward the cause of the gospel, which was then in great danger. But when the time was come, that there must needs be sermons made unto the people, he committed the whole doings thereof to such as he knew to be most addict and greatest favorers of John Wickliff.* The two proctors were John Huntman and Walter Dish; who then, as far as they durst, favored the cause of John Wickliff and that side. Insomuch that the same time and year, which was A.D. 1382, when certain public sermons should be appointed customably at the feast of the Ascension and of Corpus Christi to be preached in the cloister of St. Frideswide (now called Christ’s Church), before the people, by the chancellor aforesaid and the proctors, the doings hereof the chancellor aforesaid and proctors had committed to Philip Reppyngdon and Nicholas Hereford, so that Hereford should preach on the Ascension-day, and Reppyngdon on Corpus Christiday.
First Hereford beginning, was noted to defend John Wickliff openly, to be a faithful good, and innocent man; for the which no small ado with outcries was among the friars. This Hereford, after he had long favored and maintained Wickliff’s part, grew first in suspicion amongst the enemies of the truth; for as soon as he began somewhat liberally and freely to pronounce and utter any thing which tended to the defense of Wickliff, by-and-by the Carmelites and all the orders of religion were in his top, and laid not a few heresies unto his charge, the which they had strained here and there out of his sermons, and had compiled together in a certain form by the hands of certain notaries, through the industry and diligence of one Peter Stokes, a Carmelite, a kind of people prone and ready to all kind of mischief, uproars, debate, and dissension, * 3 as though they were born and provided only for that purpose, utterly unprofitable and nothing worth for any thing else. Much like thing do divers writers (such as entreat of the properties of beasts) write of the nature of certain spiders; that whatsoever pleasant juice is in herbs, they suck it out, and convert it into poison. But these cowled merchants in this behalf do pass all the spiders, for whatsoever is worst and most pestilent in a man, that do they hunt out and seek for, and with their teeth even, as it were, gnaw it out; and. of the opinions which be good, and agreeable with verity, they do make schisms and heretics. Such is the aptness of art, when nature helpeth thereunto.* After this, the feast of Corpus Christi drew near, upon which day it was looked for that Reppyngdon should preach. This man was a canon of Leicester, and had before taken his first degree unto doctorship; 37 who preaching the same time at Brackley in Northamptonshire, 4 for the same sermon he became first suspected and hated of the pharisaical brood of the friars; but, through the great and notable dexterity of his wit 38 which all men did behold and see in him, accompanied with like modesty and honesty, he did so overcome, or at least assuage, this cruelty and persecution which was towards him, that shortly after, by the consent of the whole fellowship, he was admitted doctor; who as soon as he had taken it upon him, by-and-by he stepped forth in the schools, and began immediately to show forth and utter that which he had long hidden and dissembled, protesting openly that in all moral matters he would defend Wickliff; but as touching the sacrament, he would as, yet hold his peace, until such time as the Lord should otherwise illuminate the hearts and minds of the clergy.
Now the day of Corpus Christi aforesaid approaching near, when the friars understood that this man should preach shortly, these Babylonians fearing lest that he would scarce civilly or gently rub the galls of their religion, convented with the archbishop of Canterbury, that the same day, a little before Philip should preach, Wickliff’s conclusions, which were privately condemned, should be openly defamed in the presence of the whole university; the doing of which matter was committed to Peter Stokes, friar, standard-bearer and chief champion of that side against Wickliff, as is before declared. There were also letters sent unto the chancellor, that he should help and aid him in the publishing of the same conclusions. 5 * Robert Rygge 42 6 (as we have said before) was chancellor at that time, who (albeit privily) with all labor and diligence that he might, endeavored himself to prefer the gospel. Who having received the archbishop’s letters and perceived the malicious and wicked enterprise of the Carmelite, was wonderfully moved against him, and falling out with him and his like (not without cause) for perturbing and troubling the state of the university, said, that by them and their means the privileges and liberties of the university were enerved and weakened, affirming also, that neither the bishop nor the archbishop had any rule or power over that university, nor should not have, in the determination of any heresies. And afterward taking deliberation, calling together the proctors, with other regents and non-regents, he did openly say and affirm, that he would by no means assist or help the Carmelite in his doings or enterprise.* These things thus done and finished, Reppyngdon at the hour appointed proceeded to his sermon; in the which sermon, among many other things, he was reported to have uttered these sayings, or to this effect: “That the pope or bishops ought not to be recommended * 7 and prayed for in sermons before* temporal lords.”
Moreover, “That the duke of Lancaster was very earnestly affected and minded in this matter, and would, that all such should be received under his protection;” besides many things more, which touched the praise and defense of Wickliff.
And finally, in concluding his sermon, he dismissed the people with this sentence; “I will,” said he, “in the speculative doctrine, as appertaining to the matter of the sacrament of the altar, keep silence and hold my peace, until such time as God otherwise shall instruct and illuminate the hearts of the clergy.”
When the sermon was done, Rappyngton entered into St. Frideswide’s church, accompanied with many of his friends, who, as the enemies surmised, were privily weaponed under their garments, if need had been.
Friar Stokes, the Carmelite aforesaid, suspecting all this to be against him, and being afraid of hurt, kept himself within the sanctuary of the church, not daring as then to put out his head. The chancellor and Reppyngdon, friendly saluting one another in the church-porch, sent away the people, and so departed every man home to his own house. There was not a little joy throughout the whole university for that sermon; but in the mean time, the unquiet and busy Carmelite slept 8 not this matter. For first, by his letters he declared the whole order of the matter unto the archbishop, exaggerating the perils and dangers that he was in, requiring and desiring his help and aid, pretermitting nothing whereby to move and stir up the archbishop’s mind, who of his own nature was as hot as a toast (as they say), and ready enough to prosecute the matter of his own accord, though no man had prickt him forward thereunto; pouring oil into the burning flame. * 9 The archbishop hearing this, was moved and angered, and calling together the whole convocation, commanded Rygge, the chancellor, and the proctors, John Huntman and Walter Dish, to be sent for, with one Master Brightwell, against whom he would attempt and lay certain suspicions, or rather evidences, 10 to convict them for taking Wickliff’s part.* But besides all this, the Tuesday after, 11 with a fierce and bold courage the said friar, breathing out threatenings and heresies against them, took the way unto the schools, minding there to prove, that the pope and the bishops ought to be prayed for before the lords temporal. Whiles this friar was thus occupied in the schools, he was mocked and derided of all men, and the same day he was sent for by the archbishop to London; whom, immediately after, the chancellor and Brightwell followed up, 44 12 to purge and clear themselves and their adherents from the accusations of this friar Peter. * 9 They at first denied, and by excusing themselves with fair words and doubtful sentences went about to slip their heads out of the collar.* At length, they being examined upon Wickliff’s Conclusions that were condemned, they did all consent that they were worthily condemned. The chancellor being afterwards accused for the contempt of the archbishop’s letters, when as he perceived and saw that no excuse would prevail, to avoid that danger, humbling himself upon his knees, he desired pardon; the which when he had now again (albeit very hardly) obtained by the help of the bishop of Winchester, he was sent away again with certain commandments and suspensions of heretics; * 9 and under this condition, that so soon as he was returned home, making inquisition throughout the university, he should put to silence all such as he found to be the favorers of Wickliff, Hereford, Reppyngdon, Ashton, and Bedman; and that he should also publish, in the head church of the university, all Wickliff’s Conclusions to be condemned, and that all other, whosoever he took or found to be an adherent unto Wickliff’s sect or faction, that he should either put them to their purgation, or cause them to abjure; unto whom when the chancellor answered again, that he durst not do it for fear of death, “What!” said the archbishop, “is Oxford such a nestler and favorer of heresies, that the catholic truth cannot be published?”
Hereby it appeareth (to note here by the way concerning this university) that Oxford amongst all other schools and universities that I hear of, was the first and most forward in setting forth and maintaining the truth of all this christian religion and doctrine, which now, through the operation of Christ, is spread so far and wide abroad. wherefore, as this university of Oxford may worthily challenge the first praise hereof, under the Lord, amongst all other christian schools, so is it to be wished of the Lord, that the said university now will show herself no less fervent and studious in retaining or defending the same, which she so fervently set forth in the beginning.* For confirmation of the foregoing history hereunder follow— THE PROCESS AND COMMANDMENTS AFORESAID, TAKEN OUT OF THE ARCH-BISHOP’S REGISTER. Item, on the twelfth day of June, A.D. 1382, in the chamber of the friars preachers , master Robert Rygge, chancellor of the university of Oxford, and Thomas Brightwell, professors of divinity, being appointed the same day and place by the reverend father in God, the archbishop of Canterbury, appeared before him in the presence of the reverend father in Christ, lord William, by the grace of God bishop of Winchester, and divers doctors and bachelors of divinity and of the canon and civil law, whose names are under recited. And first, the said chancellor, by the lord archbishop of Canterbury being examined what his opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions, publicly affirmed and declared that certain of those conclusions were heretical, and certain erroneous, as the other doctors and clerks before mentioned had declared. And then immediately next after him, the aforesaid Thomas Brightwell was examined, who, upon some of the conclusions at first somewhat staggered, but, in the end, being by the said archbishop diligently examined upon the same, did affirm and repute the same to be heretical and erroneous, as the aforesaid chancellor had done.
Another bachelor of divinity also there was, named , who stammered at some of those conclusions, but in the end he affirmed that his opinion therein was, as was the judgment of the aforesaid chancellor and Thomas Brightwell, as is above declared.
Whereupon the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, willing to let and hinder the peril of such heresies and errors, delivered unto the aforesaid chancellor, there being publicly read, his letters-patent to be executed, the tenor whereof in these words doth follow.
A LETTER OF WILLIAM COURTNEY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, TO THE CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD, AGAINST WICKLIFF AND HIS ADHERENTS.
William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, to our well-beloved son in Christ, the chancellor of the university of Oxford, greeting, grace, and benediction. The prelates of the church ought so much the more vigilantly to intend the keeping of the Lord’s flock committed to them, by how much the more they know that wolves, dressed up in sheep’s clothing, be fraudulently going about to worry and scatter the sheep. Truly, by continual cry and bruited fame (as it grieveth us to relate) it is come to our ears, etc. [as far as the words “as hereunder are described” in the archbishop’s mandate, p. 23, I. 43.] We charge, therefore, and command, and firmly enjoin you, that in the church of the blessed Mary in Oxford, on those days when accustomably the sermon is made there, as also in the schools of the said university on the days when the lectures be read, ye publish, and cause by others to be published, to the clergy and people, as well in the vulgar as in the Latin tongue, plainly, clearly, and without any curious implications of terms, that the said heretical and erroneous conclusions, so repugnant to the determination of holy church, have been (as is aforesaid) and are condemned; the which conclusions we also declare by these our letters to be condemned: And, furthermore, that you forbid and canonically admonish, and cause to be forbidden and admonished, as we by the tenor of these presents do forbid and admonish once, twice, thrice, and that peremptorily, that none hereafter hold, teach, preach, or defend, the aforesaid heresies and errors, or any of them, either in the schools or out of them, even under any sophistical cavillations: nor that any admit to preach, or hear or hearken to, John Wickliff, Nicholas Hereford, Philip Rappyngdon, (canon regular), John Ashton, or Lawrence Bedeman, 47 who be vehemently and notoriously suspected of heresy, or any other whatsoever so suspected or defamed; nor either publicly or privately aid or fautor them, but immediately shun and avoid the same as a serpent putting forth pestiferous poison.
And furthermore, we suspend the said suspected persons from every scholastic act, till such time as they shall purge their innocence before us in this behalf; and we enjoin that you denounce the same to have been and to be by us suspended, and that ye cause inquiry to be made faithfully and diligently through all the halls of the said university for all their fautors; and that when you shall have intelligence of their names and persons, ye compell them all and singular by ecclesiastical censures and other pains canonical, to abjure these their excesses, under pain of the greater curse, which against all and singular who shall rebel and disobey our monitions, their fault, deceit, and offense so requiring, after the third monition (which we deem canonical in this behalf), we now as well as then do hereby pronounce, specially reserving to ourselves the absolution of all and singular who shall incur (which God forbid) this sentence sent forth by us. And we exhort you, chancellor, by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, that you henceforth labor to the uttermost of your power, that, if there be any of the clergy and people within your jurisdiction who have erred from the catholic faith, they may be recovered from their error, to the laud and honor of His name that was crucified, and the preservation of the orthodox faith. And our will is further, that of what you shall do in the premises, and of the manner and form of your process to be made in this behalf, you do, when required thereto on our part, plainly and distinctly certify us by your letters patent, having the tenor hereof.
Given at our manor of Lambeth, under our private seal, the twelfth day of June, A.D. 1382, and in the first year of our translation.
After this, the same day and place, 49 the aforesaid lord archbishop of Canterbury, delivered his letters monitory to the aforesaid chancellor of Oxford, for the repressing of this doctrine; which still notwithstanding, both then, and yet to this day (God be praised), doth remain: the copy of his monition to the chancellor here, out of his own register, followeth.
THE MONITION OF WILLIAM COURTNEY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, UNTO THE AFORESAID CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD.
In the name of God, Amen. Whereas we William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, did, with the consent of our suffragans, cause to be assembled certain clerics, secular and regular, of the university of general study at Oxford, within our province of Canterbury, and others who are sound in the catholic faith, to inform us touching and upon certain heretical and erroneous conclusions generally and commonly preached and published in divers places of our province of Canterbury, to the subverting of the whole church and our said province; and whereas, after full deliberation had upon the same, by the unanimous sentence of us and our said suffragans and the other convocates, it was declared, that some of those conclusions are heretical, and some erroneous and notoriously repugnant to the determination of the church, and have been and are condemned by the church, which also in addition we declare to be so condemned: and whereas we have learned from the testimony of trustworthy persons, and from experience of the fact, that thou, master Robert Rygge, chancellor of the university aforesaid, hast somewhat inclined and dost still incline to the aforesaid conclusions so condemned, whom therefore in this behalf we hold suspected of an intention by your crafty contrivances de facto to annoy in many ways the said clerics who were so summoned, and others who (as in duty bound) adhere to and favor us in the matter, and on that very pretext:: Therefore, we admonish thee, master Robert, the chancellor aforesaid, once, twice, and thrice, and peremptorily, that thou do not grieve, let, or molest, judicially or extra-judicially, publicly or privily, the aforesaid clerics, secular or regular, or such as favor them in the premises, in their scholastic acts, or on any other occasion whatever, neither cause or procure, directly or indirectly, by yourself or any one else, that they be so grieved, let, or molested, neither permit as far as in you lieth that they be so grieved; and that you permit no one henceforth in the university aforesaid to hold, teach, preach, or defend the heresies and errors aforesaid, or any of them, in the schools or out of them; and that you do not admit to preach John Wickliff, Nicholas Hereford, Philip Rappyngdon (canon regular), John Ashton, or Laurence Bedman, who are notoriously suspected of heresy, or any one else so suspected or diffamed, but suspend them from every scholastic act, until they have purged their innocence in this behalf before us, under pain of the greater excommunication, which against thy person, if you shall not with effect obey these our monitions, thy fault, deceit, and offense in this behalf so requiring, after the said warning (which in this behalf we deem canonical), we do now as then and then as now, pronounce hereby; specially reserving to ourselves the absolution from this extreme excommunication if it should happen thee (which God forbid) to incur the same. * 15 But to the story again. The next day the matter was declared unto the council by the archbishop, whereby the chancellor received a new commandment from the king’s council, that with all diligence he should execute the archbishop’s injunction. With these commandments he returned home. 16 * Then began the hatred on either part somewhat to appear and show; and specially all men were offended and in the tops of the friars 52 and religious men, unto 17 whom whatsoever trouble or mischief was raised up, they did impute it, as to the authors and causers of the same. * 18 And, in my mind, not without cause, for what trouble or business hath there ever been, where men of religion have not been the ringleaders, both in city, town, and country: in all places they creep, in all matters they meddle.
And as in Christ’s time none were more against him than they who professed most sanctimony, so now amongst all sorts of men none more against true religion than they who most professed religion;* amongst whom there was one Henry Crompe, 50 a monk Cistercian, a well learned divine, who afterward was accused by the bishops of heresy. He at that time was openly suspended’ by the chancellor, because in his lectures he called the Lollards “heretics,” 51 from his acts (as they term them in the schools). 19 Then he, coming by and by up to London, made his complaint unto the archbishop and to the king’s council. * 15 Whereupon the chancellor and the proctors were again sent for in the king’s and the council’s name.* Whereupon he obtained a decree of the king’s council, by virtue whereof he, returning again to the university, was to be released and restored to his former state; and afterward a letter of the king himself, the words of which letter hereafter follow. Mention was made (as you heard) a little before, how Master Rygge, chancellor of Oxford, coming up with Master Brightwell to the archbishop of Canterbury, was there straitly examined of the conclusions of Wickliff; where he, notwithstanding, through the help of the bishop of Winchester obtained pardon, and was sent away again with commandments and charges to seek out all the favorers of John Wickliff. This commandment being received, Nicholas Hereford and Philip Reppyngdon, being privily warned by the said chancellor, in the mean season conveyed them out of sight, and fled to the duke of Lancaster for succor and help; 21 * 22 but, the bishop’s alders were at hand (as it were serpents lying in wait), to bite Christ by the heel; unto whom the duke showed himself at the first somewhat sharp;* but whether for fear or for what cause else, I cannot say, * 22 overcome by the bishop’s adherents,* in the end he forsook his poor and miserable clients. * 22 Who being put back from him, they were sent unto the censure of the archbishop, as the proverb saith—from the hall to the kitchen.* 23 EXAMINATION OF NICHOLAS HEREFORD, 56 PHILIP REPPYNGDON, AND JOHN ASHTON. The eighteenth day of the month and year aforesaid ( .A.D. 1382), in the chamber of the preaching friars aforementioned, before the aforesaid archbishop, in the presence of divers doctors and bachelors of divinity, and of the canon and civil law, whose, names are underwritten, appeared master Nicholas Hereford, master Philip Rappyngdon, canon regular, doctors of divinity, and John Ashton, bachelor of divinity; who, after a corporal oath taken to show their judgment upon the conclusions aforesaid, were examined severally, each one by himself, before the archbishop; when the said Nicholas and Philip there required a longer day to deliberate upon the conclusions aforesaid, and to give their answer unto the same in writing, and also required to have a copy of the said conclusions to be delivered unto them, the which copy, the said Nicholas and Philip, being openly read unto them, received.
Also 25 the aforesaid. master John Ashton like wise was examined, and judicially admonished by the said archbishop, by virtue of his oath, that he, setting aside all sophistical words and subtleties, should fully and plainly say his mind upon the conclusions aforesaid. And being asked, moreover, by the said archbishop, whether he would have a further day to deliberate upon his answers, as the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip had before, he said expressly that he would not, but would answer presently to those conclusions; and so for final answer said, as concerning all these conclusions (containing them all together), that his judgment was in this behalf to hold his peace. Wherefore the aforesaid archbishop, reputing the said John herein to be suspected, admonished him in form of words as followeth: “We admonish thee, John Ashton, whom we repute to be notoriously defamed and suspected of heresy, the first, the second, and third time, that in our province of Canterbury hereafter thou do not preach publicly or privately without our special license, under pain of the greater curse, which we denounce here by these presents against thy person, if thou obey not our monitions, for now as for then.” And consequently, forasmuch as the said John, being asked of the archbishop, confessed that he had heard before of the publication of the archbishop’s mandate, wherein was inhibited that no person prohibited or not sent should preach hereafter, the aforesaid archbishop assigned. to him the Friday next following, which was the twentieth day of the same month, after dinner, to appear before him either at Lambeth, or in the same place, to say for himself wherefore he might not be pronounced a heretic, and for such an one be denounced through his whole province. Also the said archbishop assigned to the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip the said day and place, to answer peremptorily and to speak fully and plainly to the conclusions afore-said, all sophistication of words and disputation set apart.
Carmelites three: Walter Dysshe, John Kynyngham, John Loveye.
On the twentieth day aforesaid of the said month of June, the year and place above prefixed, before the aforesaid archbishop, sitting in his tribunal seat, in the presence of divers doctors of divinity, and lawyers both civil and canon, personally appeared master Nicholas Hereford and master Philip Reppyngdon, bachelors of divinity, and John Ashton, master of arts. Where the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip, being required by the archbishop to answer and say fully and plainly their judgment upon the conclusions prefixed (for which purpose the said archbishop had assigned to the said Nicholas and Philip the same term), did exhibit to the said archbishop, there judicially sitting, certain answers in writing contained, after the manner of indenture. The tenor of which indenture, containing the aforesaid conclusions unto them moved as afore, followeth in these words:
THE PROTESTATION25 OF NICHOLAS HEREFORD AND PHILIP REPPYNGDON, WITH THEIR ARTICLES AND ANSWERS TO THE SAME.
We protest here as before, publicly, in these presents, that we intend to be humble and faithful children to the church and holy Scripture, and to obey in all things the determinations of the church. And if it shall chance us at any time, which God forbid, to swerve from this our intention, we submit ourselves humbly to the correction of our reverend father, the lord archbishop of Canterbury and primate of all England; and of all others who have interest to correct such swervers. This protestation premised, thus we answer to the conclusions aforesaid. 1. “That the substance of material bread and wine remaineth in the sacrament of the altar after consecration.”
After any sense contrary to the Decretal 27 “Cum Marthee,” we grant that it is heresy; 3. “That Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar the self same, truly, and really, in his proper corporal person.”
Although this conclusion, as the words stand, sound to be probable and intelligible, yet in any sense contrary to the Decretal 28 in the Clementines, “ Si Dominum," 57 we grant that it is heresy. And, briefly, concerning this whole matter of the sacrament of the altar, as touching also all other things, we profess that we will, both in word and sense, hold with the holy Scripture, with the determination of the holy church, and sayings of the holy doctors. 4. “Obstinately to affirm that it hath no foundation in the gospel, that Christ ordained the mass.”—We grant that it is heresy. 5. “That God ought to obey the devil.”
In this sense, that God in his own person or essence ought to obey the devil with the obedience of necessity, we grant that it is heresy. 6. “If a man be duly contrite, that all external confession is to him superfluous and unprofitable.”—We grant that it is heresy. 7. “If the pope be a reprobate, and an evil man, and consequently a member of the devil, he hath no power over the faithful of Christ given to him by any, unless it be by Caesar.”—We grant that it is heresy. 8. “That after pope Urban VI. none is to he received for pope; but that we ought to live after the manner of the Grecians, under our own laws.”—We grant that it is heresy. 9. To say “that it is against the holy Scripture for ecclesiastical persons to have temporal possessions.”—If obstinacy be joined withal, we grant that it is heresy. 10. “That no prelate ought to excommunicate any man, unless he know him before to be excommunicate of God.”—We grant that it is an error; understanding this knowledge to mean an experimental knowledge; so that herewith may stand the decree 29 of the church,11 q. 3, “Nemo Episcaporum.” 11. “That he who doth so excommunicate, is thereby an heretic, or excommunicate.”—After any sense agreeing to the other before, we grant it to be an error. 12. “That a prelate excommumcating a clerk, who appealeth to the king, or council of the realm, in so doing is a traitor to God, the king, and the realm. We grant it is an error. 13. “That they who leave off to preach or to hear the word of God and the gospel preached, for the excommunication of men, are excommunicate and in conclusion universally, so as Scripture and laws do understand such indefinite propositions, we grant it is an error. 14. To affirm “that it is lawful for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the see apostolic, or catholic bishop, or of any other whose authority he knoweth sufficient.—We grant it is an error. 15. To affirm “that there is no civil lord, no bishop, nor prelate, while he is in mortal sin.”—We grant it is an error. 16. “That temporal lords may, at their pleasure, take away the temporal goods from churches offending ‘habitualiter.’”— Understanding this after this sense, that they may so take away temporal goods of the churches, without the cases limited in the laws of the church and kingdoms, we grant it is an error. 17. “That the vulgar people may correct the lords offending, at their pleasure.”—Understanding by this word “may” that they may do it by the law, we grant, it is an error, because subjects have no power over their lords. 18. “That tithes be pure almose, and that parishioners may, for the offenses of their curates, detain the same, and bestow them to others at their pleasure.”—Understanding by this word “may” (as before) to be “may by the law,” we grant it is an error. 19. “That special prayers, applied to any one person by prelates or religious men, do no more profit the same than general prayers, if there be no let by the way to make them unlike.”—Understanding this conclusion universally negatively, and understanding by ‘special’ prayers’ the prayers made upon special devotion, and ‘general prayers’ of general devotion; then after this sense, that no such special prayers, applied to any one person by special, orators, do profit more specially the said person than general prayers do, which are made of the same and for the same persons, we grant it is an error. 20. “That he that giveth alms to the friars, or to any friar that preacheth, is excommunicate, as also is he that taketh.”— Understanding this proposition universally or conditionally, as is aforesaid, we grant it to be an error. 21. “That whoso entereth into any private religion whatsoever, is thereby made more unapt and unmeet to obey the commandments of God.”—We grant it is an error. 22. “That such holy men as did institute any private religions whatsoever, as well of seculars having possesions, as of friars having none, in so instituting did sin.”—Understanding this reduplicatively or universally, we grant it is an error, after this sense, that what saints soever did institute private religion, instituting the said religion upon that consideration as they did, did sin. 23. “That religious men, living in private religions, be not of the religion of Christ.”—Understanding the preposition universally, as is aforesaid, we grant it is an error. 24. “That friars are bound to get their living by the labor of their hands, and not by begging.”—Understanding this proposition universally, as before, we grant it is an error.
These things have we spoken, reverend father and lord, in all humility, under your gracious supportation and benign correction, according to our abilities and slender capacities, for this present (the honor of God, the verity of our beliefs and safe conscience always in all points reserved); more humbly yet beseeching you, that, if it should seem unto your excellency and discretion that we should have spoken otherwise either in substance or in manner, your gracious fatherhood would vouchsafe to inform us as your sons by the sacred Scriptures, by the determinations of the church, or authorities of the holy doctors; and, doubtless, with most ready, wills and obedient minds we will consent unto your more wholesome doctrine. May it therefore please your most reverend fatherhood, according to the accustomed manner of your benignity, favourably to accept these our words and sayings, forasmuch as the aforesaid conclusions were never commonly by us either in the schools asserted, or else in sermons publicly preached.
When all these answers were made,unto the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, the said Nicholas and Philip, for that they answered not unto the sense and words of the first conclusion expressly, but to the sense contrary to the Decretal “Firmiter credimus,” were there judicially examined what that sense was, but they would not express the same. Then was it demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion declared on the part of the said lord of Canterbury, whether the same material bread “in numero,” which before the consecration is laid upon the altar, remain in its proper substance and nature after the consecration in the sacrament of the altar; and likewise of the wine. To 30 this sense the said Nicholas and Philip answered, that for that time they could say no more therein, than that they had already answered, as was afore alleged, in the writing. And for that unto the sense and words of the second conclusion they answered not fully and expressly, but to the sense contrary to the Decretal “Cum Marthae,” being asked what that sense was, they would not express the same. Therefore it was demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion declared on the part of the said lord of Canterbury, whether those corporal accidences which formally were in the bread and wine before the consecration of them, after the consecration were in the same bread and wine, or else were subjected in any other substance. To this sense they answered, that better to answer than before in the writing they already had, for that time they could not. To the meaning also and words of the third conclusion, for that they answered not plainly and expressly, but to the sense contrary to the Decretal in the Clementines “Si Dominum,” being asked what that sense was, they would not declare the same. Where-fore it was then demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion declared on the part of the said lord of Canterbury, whether the same body of Christ, which was assumpted of the Virgin, be in the sacrament of the altar “secundum seipsum,” even as he is really in carnal substance, proper essence, and nature. To this sense they answered, that for that time they could say no more than that they had said, as was before specified in the writing.
Furthermore, to the sense and text of the sixth conclusion for that they answered not fully and expressly, being asked whether God ought any manner of obedience to the devil or not, they said, “Yea, as the obedience of love, because he loveth him, and punisheth him as he ought.” And that God ought so to obey the devil, they offered to prove to any one, on pain of being, burnt. To the eleventh conclusion for that they answered not expressly, being asked whether a prelate might excommunicate any man being in a state of grace, they said, “Yea.”
Unto the nineteenth conclusion 58 for that they answered not fully, simply, and expressly, being demanded whether special or general prayers did most profit and were of greater force, they would not say but that special.
Unto the last conclusion for that they answered neither simply, nor expressly, and being demanded particularly, whether, any friar were bound to get his living with his manual labor, so that it might not be lawful for them to live by begging, they would make no answer at all.
After that, the aforesaid lord archbishop of Canterbury demanded of all the aforesaid doctors, what their judgment was touching the answers that were made upon all and singular such conclusions; all which doctors and every of them severally said, that all the answers, given unto the first, second, third, and sixth conclusions (as is before recited) were insufficient, heretical, and subtle; and that all the answers made specially to the nineteenth and last conclusions, as is above mentioned, were insufficient, erroneous, and perverse. Whereupon, the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, considering the said answers to be insufficient, heretical, subtle, erroneous, and perverse, according as the said doctors did likewise consider (as is aforesaid), admonished the said Nicholas and Philip sufficiently under this form of words: — MONITION OF THE ARCHBISHOP TO NICHOLAS HEREFORD AND PHILIP REPPYNGDON.
The name of Christ being called upon, we William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, and through our whole province of Canterbury inquisitor of heretical pravity, seeing that you Nicholas Hereford and Philip Reppyngdon, professors of divinity, having this day and place assigned you by your own express consent and our prefixion, peremptorily to answer and to say fully and plainly your opinion touching those conclusions whereunto we do refer you (all subtle, and sophistical, or logical words set apart), being thereunto sworn, admonished, and commanded, without any reasonable or legitimate cause, neither have been willing, nor are willing, nay rather have contemptuously refused and still dost refuse, to answer to some of those conclusions before us judicially, according to our monition and commandment aforesaid, but have answered unto some of them heretically, and to other some erroneously and not fully; we fully admonish you once, twice, and thrice, and that peremptorily, that you and each of you, fully and plainly (all subtle, sophistical, or logical words set apart) answer unto the same conclusions, and that after the sense and meaning by us limited, under the pain that otherwise such conclusions be held as by you confessed, and that you be held as convicted touching the same conclusions.
Which admonition being made and done, for that the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip would make none other answer, the said lord archbishop of Canterbury concluded that business, prefixing and assigning unto the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip the same day se’nnight, 59 that is to say, until the twenty-seventh day of the same month, that then they should appear before the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, wheresoever within the same his province of Canterbury he should then fortune to be, to hear his decree that should be made in that behalf. This done, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury monished and cited lawfully and sufficiently John Ashton, under the tenor of these words following.
MONITION OF THE ARCHBISHOP TO JOHN ASHTON.
The name of Christ being called upon, we William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, legate of the apostolic see, and through our whole province of Canterbury inquisitor of heretical pravity, seeing that thou John Ashton, master of arts and scholar in divinity, otherwise appearing before us judicially, hast been corporally sworn on the book to speak the plain verity touching those conclusions, to the which we do refer thee, and the which we have caused to be delivered to thee; as also hast been otherwise by us admonished and commanded in this behalf, and hast this day and place by our prefixion for a peremptory term, to propone reasonable cause (if thou hast any) wherefore thou oughtest not to be pronounced a heretic; we do lawfully and fully monish and cite thee, the frst, second, and third time, and that peremptorily, that thou fully and plainly (all subtle, sophistical, or logical words set apart) do answer unto the same conclusions, under the pain that such conclusions be held to have been on thy part confessed, and that thou be held as convicted touching the said conclusions.
Which monition being thus premised, the said archbishop read the first conclusion, and of the said John inquired what was his opinion and meaning therein? and bade him hereupon say his mind, according to the aforesaid monition Then the aforesaid John Ashton, being often required by the archbishop, that he would answer in the Latin tongue to those questions which were demanded of him, because of the lay people that stood about him; he, crying out in the English tongue, uttered frivolous and opprobrious contumelies 60 to move and excite the people against the said archbishop, as it should seem. 32 Neither did he unto the first conclusion, nor unto any of these other conclusions, effectually and pertinently seem to them to answer, but rather by subtleties and shifts, saying oftentimes and expressly, as a hyman might say, that it was sufficient for him to believe as holy church believed, 33 Then the said archbishop examined him upon the first conclusion touching the sacrament of the altar; whether that after the words of consecration there remaineth material bread, particular bread, or universal bread? He said the matter passed his understanding, and therefore said, he would in that form and manner answer, and otherwise not: but amongst other things, he spake in deriding wise unto the said archbishop against this word “material,” saying, “You may put that in your purse, if you have any.” Whereupon the said archbishop, calling that an unwise and foolish answer, as the rest of the doctors did (of whom mention was made before), the rather for that he was a clerk and a graduate in the schools, farther proceeded against the said John Ashton in this wise.
THE SENTENCE PRONOUNCED ON JOHN ASHTON.
And seeing that thou John Ashton, monished and commanded by us, as is aforesaid, after thine oath taken, without any reasonable or legitimate cause, neither wouldst, nor yet wilt, but refusedst, and yet dost refuse contemptuously, to answer unto these conclusions before us judicially, according to our monition and commandment aforesaid, we do hold all such conclusions to be by thee confessed; and thee the aforesaid Dominus John, as touching those conclusions, which by us, with the deliberation of certain prelates our suffragans, and divers of doctors of divinity, and other wise men in the law, according to the canonical sanctions have been condemned as savouring of heresy and heretical and declared to be such, we pronounce and sententially declare to have been, and to be still, a heretic. And as touching the other conclusions, by us heretofore reputed erroneous and for erroneous condemned, we do pronounce and declare sententially by these our writings, that thou hast erred, and dost err.
Upon the same twentieth day of June, in the year and place above recited, the aforesaid lord of Canterbury being desirous, as he asserted, to be informed by Thomas Hilman, bachelor of divinity, there being present, and somewhat favoring the said master John Ashton, what his judgment and opinion was, touching the aforesaid conclusions, prefixed and assigned unto the said Thomas (for that time demanding the same deliberation and day) that day se’nnight; that is to say, the twenty-seventh of the said month, 61 to appear before the archbishop of Canterbury, wheresoever within his said province of Canterbury he should then happen to be, to declare plainly and fully what his judgment and opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions. The names of friars and doctors assistant at the examination aforesaid.—Masters in divinity, ten, viz.: of Friars Preachers; bishop Nanetensis, John Langley, William Syward: of Friars Carmelite; John Kynyngham, John Lovey, Peter Stokes, Walter Dys: of Friars Augustine; Thomas Ayshbourne, Bankine of London, Robert Waldeby.—Doctors of civil law, six, viz.; Master John Barnet, Master Thomas Baketon, Master John Blaunchard, Master John Shillyngford, Master John Lydeford, Master Thomas Southam.
The Friday next following, that is to say, the twenty-seventh of June, A.D. 1382, the aforesaid Master Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas Hilman, appeared before the said archbishop and lord inquisitor of Canterbury 34 in the chapel of his manor of Otford, in the diocese of Canterbury, there sitting on his tribunal seat. To whom the said archbishop of Canterbury said, that for because at that time he had not the presence and assistance of the doctors in divinity and of the canon and civil law, he continued 35 the said business touching the said Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas, in the same state wherein then it was, till Tuesday next and immediately ensuing, that is to say, the first day of July, the year of our Lord aforesaid; and prefixed unto the said Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas Hilman, the same day to appear before him, wheresoever within his province of Canterbury he should then chance to be, to do that which upon the said twenty-seventh day they were purposed to do, together or apart. The archbishop, yet not contented with this, 63 doth, moreover, by all means possible solicit the king to join withal the power of his temporal sword; for that he well perceived, that hitherto as yet the popish clergy had no authority sufficient, by any public law or Statute of this land, to proceed unto death against any person whatsoever in case of religion, but only by the usurped tyranny and example of the court of Rome. 64 Where note, gentle reader, for thy better understanding, the practice of the Romish prelates in seeking the king’s help to further their bloody purpose against the good saints of God; which king being but young and under years of ripe judgment, partly induced, or rather seduced, by importune suit of the aforesaid archbishop, partly, also, either for fear of the bishops (for kings cannot always do in their realms what they will), or else, perhaps, enticed by some hope of subsidy to be gathered by the clergy, was contented to adjoin his private assent, such as it was, to the setting down of an ordinance, which was indeed the very first law that is to be found made against religion and the professors thereof, bearing the name of an Act made in the parliament holden at Westminster in the fifth year of Richard II.; where, among sundry other statutes then published, and yet remaining in the printed books of statutes, this supposed statute is to be found (cap. 5. et ultimo) as followeth:— A PRIVATE STATUTE MADE BY THE CLERGY, WITHOUT CONSENT OR KNOWLEDGE OF THE COMMONS. Item, Forasmuch as it is openly known that there be divers evil persons within the realm, going from county to county, and from town to town, in certain habits, under dissimulation of great holiness, and without the license of the ordinaries of the places, or other sufficient authority, preaching dally, not only in churches and churchyards, but also in markets, fairs, and other open places where a great congregation of people is, divers sermons containing heresies and notorious errors, to the great emblemishing of the christian faith and destruction of the laws and of the estate of holy church, to the great peril of the souls of the people and of all the realm of England, as more plainly is found and sufficiently proved before the reverend father in God the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops and other prelates, masters of divinity, and doctors of canon and of civil law, and a great part of the clergy of the said realm, specially assembled for this cause; which persons do also preach divers matters of slander, to engender discord and dissension betwixt divers estates of the said realm, as well spiritual as temporal, in exciting of the people, to the great peril of all the realm: which preachers, being cited or summoned before the ordinaries of the places, there to answer of that whereof they be impeached, will not obey to their summons and commandments, nor care not for their monitions nor the censures of holy church, but expressly despise them; and moreover, by their subtle and ingenious words do draw the people to hear their sermons, and do maintain them in their errors by strong hand and by great routs: it is ordained and assented in this present parliament, that the king’s commissions be made and directed to the sheriffs, and other ministers of our sovereign lord the king, or other sufficient persons learned, and according to the certifications of the prelates thereof to be made in the Chancery from time to time, to arrest all such preachers, and also their fautors, maintainers, and abettors, and to hold them in arrest and strong prison, till they will justify themselves according to reason and the law of holy church. And the king willeth and commandeth, that the chancellor make such commissions at all times that he by the prelates, or any of them, shall be certified and thereto required, as is aforesaid. [Teste Rege apud Westm. 26 Maii, anno regni Regis R. II. 5. 37 ] AN EXAMINATION OF THE AFORESAID SUPPOSED STATUTE, AND OF THE INVALIDITY THEREOF.
Which supposed statute, forasmuch as it was the principal ground whereupon proceeded all the persecution of that time, it is, therefore, not impertinent to examine the same more particularly; whereby shall appear, that as the same was fraudulently and unduly devised by the prelates only, so was it in like manner most injuriously and unorderly executed by them. For, immediately upon the publishing of this law, without further warrant either from the king or his council, commissions under the great seal of England were made in this form: “Richard, by the grace of God,” etc. (as the Act shows, p. 541); “Witness myself at Westminster, the twenty-sixth day of June, in the sixth year of our reign;” without more words of warrant underwritten, such as in like eases are both usual and requisite; viz. “per ipsum regem,” “per regem et concilium,” or “per breve de privato sigillo:” all or any of which words being utterly wanting in this place, as may be seen in the king’s records of that time, it must, therefore, be done either by warrant of this aforesaid statute, or else without any warrant at all. Whereupon it is to be noted, that whereas the said statute appointed the commissions to be directed to the sheriff, or other ministers of the king, or to other sufficient persons learned, for the arresting of such persons; the said commissions are directed to the archbishop and his suffragans, being, as it appeareth, parties in the ease, authorizing them, further, without either the words or reasonable meaning of the said statute, to imprison them in their own houses, or where else pleased them.
Besides also, what manner of law this was, by whom devised, and by what authority the same was first made and established, judge by that which followeth, viz. — In the Utas of St. Michael 38 next following, at a parliament sum moned and holden at Westminster, the sixth year of the said king, among sundry petitions made to the king by his commons, whereunto he assented, there is one in this form: — AN EXTRACT FROM THE PETITION OF THE COMMONS FOR REPEALING THE AFORESAID STATUTE. Item, the commons pray, That, whereas a statute was made the last parliament in these words—“It is ordained and assented in this present parliament, that the king’s commissions be directed to the sheriffs and other ministers of the king, or to other sufficient persons, after and according to the certificates of the prelates thereof to be made unto the Chancery from time to time, to arrest all such preachers, and their fautors, maintainers, and abettors, and them to hold in arrest and strong prison, until they will justify themselves according to reason and the law of holy church; and the king willeth and commandeth, that the chancellor make such commissions at all times that he shall be by the prelates or any of them certified and thereto required, as is aforesaid:”—the which statute was never assented to nor granted by the Commons; but whatsoever was moved therein was without their assent: That the said statute be therefore annulled. For it was never any wise their intent to be justified to the prelates, nor to bind their successors to be so, more than their ancestors have been in times past: whereunto was answered, “Yl pleist au roy;” that is, “the king is pleased.”
Hereby notwithstanding the former unjust law of the fifth of Rich. II. was repealed, and the fraud of the framers thereof sufficiently discovered, yet such means was there made by the prelates, that this act of repeal was never published, nor ever sithence imprinted with the rest of the statutes of that parliament: insomuch as the said repeal being concealed, like commissions 40 and other process were made from time to time by virtue of the said bastard statute, as well during all the reign of this king, as ever sithence, against the professors of religion; as shall hereafter, by the grace of God, appear in the second year of king Henry IV., where the clergy pursued the like practice. 41 And now again to the story of our Oxford divines, and of the archbishop; to whom the king writeth his letters-patent, first to the archbishop, then to the chancellor of Oxford, in form as followeth:— THE KING’S LETTERS - PATENT TO THE ARCHBISHOP, AGAINST THE FAVORERS OF WICKLIFF.
Richard, by the grace of God king of England and France and lord of Ireland, to all those to whom these present letters shall come, greeting. By the petition of the reverend father in God William, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of England, exhibited unto us, we fully understand, that divers conclusions, contrary to sound doctrine and notoriously redounding to the subversion of the catholic faith, of the holy church, and of his province of Canterbury, in divers places within the province aforesaid have been openly and publicly although damnably preached: of the which conclusions, some as heresies, other some as errors, after good and mature deliberation first therein had, and by common counsel of the said archbishop and his suffragans and many doctors in divinity, and other clerks learned in the holy Scriptures, have been sententially condemned and wholesomely declared to be so.
Whereupon, the said archbishop having made his supplication unto us, that for the coercion and due castigation of such as would henceforth of an obstinate mind preach or maintain the aforesaid conclusions, we would vouchsafe to put to the arm of our royal power—We, moved (as in duty bound) by zeal for the catholic faith, whereof we be and will be on all occasions the defender, and unwilling to allow that any such heresies or errors should spring up within the limits of our dominion, do give and grant special authority and license by the tenor of these presents unto the aforesaid archbishop and his suffragans, to arrest and imprison, either in their own prisons or any other if they please, all and every such person and persons, as shall either privily or apertly preach or maintain the said conclusions so condemned; and the.same persons, so imprisoned, to detain there till such time as they shall repent them and amend them of such erroneous and heretical pravities; or till it shall be by us and our council touching such arrests otherwise provided: further charging and enjoining all and singular our liege-men, ministers, and subjects, of what state or condition soever they be, upon their fidelity and allegiance wherein they stand bound to us, that by no means they either favor, counsel, or help the maintainers or preachers of the said conclusions so condemned, or their fautors, on pain of forfeiture of all that ever they have; but that they rather obey and humbly attend upon the said archbishop, his suffragans, and ministers, in the execution of these presents; so that due and open publication may be made against the aforesaid conclusions and their maintainers without any perturbation, as for the defense and preservation of the catholic faith shall be thought most requisite to be done. In witness whereof, we have caused these our letterspatent to be made.
Witness our self, at Westminster, the twenty-sixth day of June, and sixth year of our reign. FURTHER PROCESS AGAINST HEREFORD AND REPPYNGDON.
The Tuesday 43 being come, the aforesaid archbishop, in the chapter-house of his church at Canterbury, before the hour of nine, with the doctors whose names are under contained, and other clerks a great multitude, expected the aforesaid Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas, long time by the beadle calling them and looking after them; who, nevertheless, appeared not: wherefore, he continued the aforesaid business in the pristine state till two of the clock after dinner the same day; at which hour the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, having assistants the doctors and clerks under recited, examined the aforesaid Master Thomas Hilman, then and there judicially appearing, what his opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions; who, at them, and the meaning of them, somewhat stammering, at last, to all and singular the same conclusions then to him read and expounded thus answered: “I suppose and judge all and singular those conclusions lately condemned by my lord of Canterbury that now is, together with the counsel and consent of his clerks, to be heretical and erroneous, even as the same my lord of Canterbury, and other doctors of divinity, and of the canon and civil law, by common consent and counsel have supposed and thought. And the same, being for heresies and errors, as before is said, condemned, I do, as much as in me is, condemn; protesting that I will hold and affirm the contrary of those conclusions, and in the same faith live and die.” Then the said archbishop of Canterbury, then and there sitting on his tribunal seat, pronouncing the said masters Nicholas and Philip, long in court called before and tarried for and yet not appearing, guilty of contumacy and disobedience, excommunicated them for the penalty of this their contumacy, in tenor of these words following:
THE SENTENCE OF EXCOMMUNICATION PASSED UPON NICHOLAS HEREFORD AND PHILIP REPPYNGDON.
We William, by the grace of God archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, and through our whole province of Canterbury inquisitor of heretical pravity, do pronounce Master Nicholas Hereford and Master Philip Reppyngdon, professors of divinity, having this day and place by our prefixion appointed to hear our decree in this business of heretical pravity, being in court by our beadle called and long tarried for, and yet not appearing, contumacious persons; and for the penalty of this their contumacy we do excommunicate them, and both of them, by these presents.
The names of the doctors and friars, assistant at this sitting, were these.—Masters in divinity, nine, viz.: of seculars; Master William Blankpayne, Master William Berton: of Friars Carmelite; Robert Yvory, provincial, John Kynnyngham, Philip Loveye: of Friars Minor; William Barnewell, John Ryddene: Friar Preacher, William Bruscumbe: Friar Augustine, John Courte: Bachelors in divinity, three, viz.; Stephen Patrington, John Tempston, John Reppys, Carmelites.
Against this blind excommunication of the said archbishop the parties excommunicate commenced and exhibited their appeal unto the bishop of Rome; which appeal of theirs, as insufficient, or rather to him unpleasant, the said archbishop utterly rejected 45 (as might oftentimes overcometh right), proceeding in his preconceived excommunication against them, and writing, moreover, his letters to him that should ]preach next at Paul’s Cross, to denounce and to publish openly the said Nicholas Hereford and Philip Reppyngdon to be excommunicate, for not appearing at their term assigned; which was dated the thirteenth day of July:
THE DENOUNCING OF THE EXCOMMUNICATION AGAINST NICHOLAS HEREFORD AND PHILIP REPPYNGDON.
William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, etc., to our beloved son in Christ, whosoever he be, that this instant Sunday shall preach the word of God at St. Paul’s Cross in London, health, grace, and benediction. For-somuch as to Master Nicholas Hereford, and Master Philip Reppyngdon, canon regular of the monastery of St. Mary at Leicester, doctors of divinity, and of heretical pravity vehemently suspected, after certain answers not fully but impertinently made, as also heretically and erroneously, touching certain heretical and erroneous conclusions, in divers places of our said province commonly, generally, and publicly preached and taught, we prefixed a certain competent day and place for them, judicially appearing before us, to do and to receive peremptorily in that behalf what thing soever the quality of that business should move us unto; and that we did for their contumacy in not appearing before us at the said day and place judicially excommunicate them, as right therein required: we, by these presents, charge and command you, firmly enjoining you, that on the same Sunday, when the largest multitude of people shall have gathered together to hear your sermon, in the place aforesaid you publicly and solemnly denounce the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip, holding up the cross, and lighting up candles, and then throwing the same down upon the ground, to have been and still to be so excommunicated by us.—Fare ye well.
This archbishop, moreover, the said year, 68 in the month and on the day aforesaid, sent also another letter to Master Rygge, the chancellor of Oxford, straitly enjoining and charging him, not only to denounce the said sentence of excommunication, and to give out public citation against them, but also to make diligent search and inquisition through all Oxford for them, to have them apprehended and sent up to him, personally before him to appear at a certain day prescribed for the same; requiting, moreover, by him to be certified again what he had done in the premises.
MANDATE OF THE ARCHBISHOP TO THE CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD AGAINST THE SAID NICHOLAS AND PHILIP.
Forsomuch as we prefixed a competent day and place to Master Nicholas Hereford, and Master Philip Reppyngdon, etc. [see the preceding letter, as far as the words “as right therein required”]: we therefore straitly charge and command you, firmly enjoining you, that you publicly and solemnly denounce in the church of St.
Mary at Oxford, and in the schools of the university, the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip to have been and still to be by us excommunicated; and further that you cite, or cause to be cited, peremptorily the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip, that they and each of them appear before us within fifteen days after the date of such citation,wheresoever within our said province of Canterbury it shall fortune us then to be; to hear and see how we mean to proceed against them and each of them, concerning the said heretical and erroneous conclusions, according to the form of the retroactions used in this behalf, and the quality of the business: and that of the day of the receipt of these presents, and of the manner and form of your citation; and whether the said Nicholas and Philip, or either of them, have been apprehended by personal citation, or whether they or either of them have absconded to avoid such apprehension; as of every thing else, which in this behalf you shall think meet to be done; between this and the feast of St.
Laurence you clearly certify us by your letters patent, containing the effect of these things.—Fare ye well.
Given at our manor of Lambeth, the thirteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord 1382, and the first of our translation.
The young king also, 69 moved by the unquiet importunity of the archbishop, sendeth, moreover, a special letter to the chancellor and proctors of the university of Oxford, wherein, under a pretended zeal of the defense of christian faith, he straitly and sharply enjoineth and assigneth them, for the utter abolishing of those conclusions and opinions, to make a general inquisition through the whole university, for all whom they know or judge to be suspected of the doctrine of John Wickliff, Nicholas Hereford, Philip Reppyngdon, John Ashton, and such others; or to be maintainers, receivers, and defenders of the aforesaid parties or their conclusions, in any manner of way; to the intent that they, being so apprehended through their diligent search, may be within seven days of their admonitions expulsed the university, and cited up to the archbishop of Canterbury, before him to appear and to stand to their answers: willing, moreover, and commanding the said chancellor and proctors, with other regents their assisters, that if any person or persons in any house, hall, or college, or in any other place, shall be found to have any of their books or treatises compiled by the said John Wickliff, Nicholas Hereford, etc., they will cause without delay the said person or persons, with their books, to be arrested and attached, and presented within one month, without correction, corruption, or mutation, to the aforesaid archbishop, upon their faith and allegiance, as they will avoid the forfeiture of all and singular the liberties and privileges to the university appertaining; and that they will be obedient to the archbishop aforesaid in the ordering hereof, and all other his injunctions to be obeyed in all things lawful and honest. Giving, moreover, in these his letters charge and commandment to the sheriff, mayor, bailiffs, and others, the inhabitants of Oxford, to be assistant and attendant unto the aforesaid chancellor and proctors, touching the execution of the premises, bearing the date of July 13th, A.D. 1382.
THE KING’S LETTERS-PATENT TO THE CHANCELLOR AND PROCTORS OF OXFORD.
Richard, by the grace of God king of England and France and lord of Ireland, to the chancellor and the proctors of the university of Oxford who now be, or for the time being shall be, greeting. Being wholesomely moved and induced by zeal for the christian faith, whereof we be and always will be defenders, and having a great desire to repress, and by condign punishment to restrain, the impugners of the faith, who have newly and wickedly presumed to sow their naughty and perverse doctrines within our realm, of England, and to hold and preach conclusions already condemned, notoriously repugnant to the same faith, and are endeavoring to pervert our people, as we understand, before they proceed any further in their errors and naughtiness, or infect others; We by these presents appoint you, with the assistance of all the divinity regents of the university aforesaid, to make inquiry of all and singular the graduates and lawyers within the same university whether they know any within the jurisdiction of that university, who be probably of them suspected to be in the favor, belief, or defense of any heresy or error, and especially of any of the conclusions publicly condemned by the venerable father, William, archbishop of Canterbury, with the counsel of his clergy, or else of any other conclusion like unto any of them in meaning or in words: and that if henceforth you shall find any that believe, fauter, or defend any of the aforesaid heresies or errors, or any such like, or who shall dare to receive into their houses and inns, Master John Wickliff, Master Nicholas Hereford, Master Philip Reppyngdon, Master John Ashton, or any other by probable suspicion noted of any of the aforesaid heresies or errors, or any other like unto them in words or in meaning; or that shall presume to communicate with any of them, or else to defend or fauter any such fautors, receivers, communicants, and defenders; that, within seven days after the same shall appear and be manifest unto you, you banish and expel them from the university and town of Oxford, till such time as they shall declare their innocency by manifest purgation before the archbishop of Canterbury for the time being; and that in order that such may be compelled to purge themselves, you certify us and the same archbishop under your seals, from time to time, within one month that they be such manner of men: commanding moreover that through all the halls of the university aforesaid, ye cause to be inquired and searched out of hand whether any man have any book or tractate put forth or compiled by the aforesaid Master John Wickliff or Nicholas Hereford, and that wheresoever ye shall chance to find any such book or tractate, ye cause the same to be arrested and taken and presented unto the aforesaid archbishop within one month, without any correction, corruption, or mutation whatsoever, as to its meaning or words. And therefore we enjoin and command you, upon the fidelity and allegiance wherein ye stand bound unto us, and upon pain of forfeiture of all and singular the liberties and the privileges of your said university and of all else that you can forfeit to us; that you give yourself diligently to execute the premises well and faithfully; and that you do execute the same in form aforesaid; and that you obey the aforesaid archbishop, and his lawful and honest mandates, that he shall think good to direct unto you in this behalf, as it is meet you should.
And we give in charge unto the sheriff 70 and mayor of Oxford for the time being, and to all and singular our other sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, ministers, and other our faithful subjects by these presents, that they aid, obey, and be attendant upon you in the execution of the premises. Witness myself at Westminster, the thirteenth day of July, the sixth year of our reign.
Besides these letters-patent, 71 the said young king sendeth another letter the next day to the aforesaid chancellor and proctors of the university of Oxford touching Henry Crompe, of whom ye heard before.
ANOTHER LETTER OF THE KING TO THE CHANCELLOR AND PROCTORS OF OXFORD.
Richard, by the grace of God king of England and France, lord of Ireland, to the chancellor and proctors of the university of Oxford, greeting. Whereas we of late—upon the grievous complaint of Henry Crompe, monk, and regent in divinity within the university aforesaid, how that, while he was assistant with the reverend father in God, the archbishop of Canterbury, and other divines in the city of London, at the condemnation of divers conclusions erroneous and heretical, you, at the sinister suggestion of certain adversaries of his, who pretended the peace of the university aforesaid to have been broken by the said Henry in his last lecture in the schools, did call him to answer before you; and for his not appearing (as forsooth he could not) did pronounce him contumacious and convicted of peace-breaking, and did also suspend the said Henry from his scholastical acts and lectures—by our writ did appoint you a day (now past) to appear and answer before our council touching the premises, and to do certain other things expressly contained in the writ aforesaid; whereupon, the matter aforesaid with its circumstances having been before our said council, in your presence, examined, investigated and fully understood, it was by our said council decreed and specially determined, that all your process against the said Henry on the occasions premised, with all the consequences thereof, was null, void, vain, and of none effect; and commandment was given that the aforesaid Henry should be restored and admitted again to the scholastic acts and customary lectures, and to his pristine state, as you fully know: To the intent therefore that the decree and determination aforesaid should be duly executed, we most strictly charge and command you, that you, speedily and entirely revoking all your process against the said Henry Crompe in the university aforesaid, with all the consequences thereof, do admit the said Henry and cause him to be restored to his scholastic acts, his accustomed lectures, and pristine state without delay, according to the form of the decree and determination aforesaid: enjoining you, moreover, and your commissaries or deputies, and your successors, and all masters regent and non regent, and other secular presidents, officers, and ministers of the university aforesaid, upon the faith and allegiance wherein you are bound to us, that you do not in any manner privily or apertly let, molest, or grieve, or cause to be let, molested, or grieved, the said friar Henry for the causes aforesaid, or friar Peter Stokes, Carmelite, by occasion of his absence from the university aforesaid, or friar Stephen Patting-ton, Carmelite, or any other religious or secular person favoring them, by occasion of any deed or word in any way concerning the doctrine of Master John Wickliff, Master Nicholas Hereford, and Master Philip Reppyngdon, or the reproof and condemnation of their heresies and errors, or the blaming or correction of their favorers; but that you do procure, and with all diligence nourish, and to your utmost preserve, peace, unity, and quiet within the university aforesaid, and chiefly between the religious and secular persons: and that you in no case omit to do these things on forfeiture of all and singular the liberties and privileges of the university aforesaid, and of all else which you can possibly forfeit to us.
In testimony whereof we have caused these our letters patent to be made. Witness myself at Westminster, the fourteenth day of July.
Unto the aforesaid letters, 72 received from the archbishop, diligent certificate was given accordingly, the tenor whereof was this:
A LETTER OF ROBERT RYGGE, CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD, TO THE ARCHBISHOP.
To the most reverend father in Christ and lord, William, by divine permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, Robert Rygge, professor, of divinity and chancellor of the university of Oxford, the reverence and obedience due to so great a father with honor. Your letter directed to me I reverently received on the fourteenth day of July, the year of our Lord underwritten, commencing with the words, “William, by divine permission,” etc.; by the authority whereof I have publicly and solemnly, in the church of St. Mary and in the schools of the university aforesaid, denounced, and caused to be denounced by others, according to the force, form, and effect of the same letters, Master Nicholas and Master Philip aforesaid to have been and to be excommunicated. Moreover, I have diligently sought for the aforesaid Master Nicholas and Master Philip as you commanded, to apprehend them by personal citation and to cite them; but I have not been able to find them in order to cite. them, as you commanded. But touching the lurking place of Master Nicholas and Master Philip aforesaid, it was clear to me on diligent inquisition made by me that they did not lurk, nor do they lurk here now, as far as is known. The which I signify to your fatherhood by these presents signed with the seal of mine office, given at Oxford the twenty-fifth day of the month of July, A.D. 1382.
In the mean time, 73 great search and inquisition was made for them, to cite and to apprehend them wheresoever they might be found; whereupon the archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtney, directed his letters to the bishop of London, named Robert Braybroke, charging him that the said excommunication be denounced, not only within his own jurisdiction, but likewise throughout all the dioceses of his suffragans; moreover, that diligent search and watch should be laid for them, both in London and elsewhere, that they might be apprehended; requiring, moreover, by them to be certified again what they had done in the premises. And this was written the thirtieth day of July, A.D. 1382. 46 Whereby may appear how busy this bishop was in disquieting and persecuting these poor men, whom rather he should have nourished and cherished as his brethren. But as his labor is past, so his reward will follow, at what day the great Archbishop of our souls shall judicially appear in his tribunal seat, to judge both the quick and the dead.
In the mean time Nicholas Hereford and Reppyngdon being repulsed of the duke, and destitute, as was said, of his supportation, whether they were sent, or of their own accord went, to the archbishop, it is uncertain.
This I find in a letter 74 of the aforesaid archbishop, contained in his register, that Reppyngdon, the twenty-third day of October, the same year ( A.D. 1382), was reconciled again to the archbishop, and also by his general letter was released, and admitted to his scholastic acts in the university; and so was also John Ashton, of whom (Christ willing) more shall follow hereafter. 47 Of Nicholas Hereford, all this while, I find no special relation.
In the mean time, about the twenty-third of September in the said year, the king sent his mandate to the archbishop for the collecting of a subsidy, and to have a convocation of the clergy summoned against the next parliament, which should begin the eighteenth of November. The archbishop likewise, on the fifteenth day of October 48 ( A.D. 1382), directed his letters monitory, as the manner is, to Robert Braybroke, bishop of London, to give the same admonition to all his suffragans, and to other of the clergy within his province, for the assembling of the convocation aforesaid. All which done and executed, the parliament began, being holden at Oxford the eighteenth of November, where the convocation was kept in the monastery of Frideswide, in Oxford. In the which convocation the archbishop, with the other bishops there sitting in their pontificalibus, declared two causes of that their present assembly: the one, said he, to repress heresies, which began newly in the realm to spring, and for correcting other excesses in the church; the other cause, said he, was to aid and support the king with some necessary subsidy of money to be gathered: which thus declared, the convocation was continued till the day following, which was the nineteenth of November.
At the said day and place, the archbishop with the other prelates assembling themselves as before, the archbishop, after the usual solemnity, willed the proctors of the clergy, appointed for every diocese, to consult among themselves in some convenient several place, what they thought for their parts touching the redress of things, to be notified and declared to him and to his brethren.
Furthermore, forsomuch, saith he, as it is so noised through all the realm, that there were certain in the university of Oxford, who did hold and maintain conclusions (as he called them) heretical and erroneous, condemned by him, and by other lawyers and doctors of divinity; he therefore assigned the bishops of Sarum, Hereford, and Rochester, with William Rugge, then chancellor of the university of Oxford (for be-like Robert Rygge was then displaced), also with William Berton and John Middleton, doctors; giving them his full authority, with cursing and banning to compel them to search, and to inquire with all diligence and in all ways possible, over all and singular whatsoever, either doctors, bache]ors, or scholars of the said university, who did hold, teach, maintain, and defend, in schools or out of schools, the said conclusions heretical (as he called them) or erroneous, and afterward to give certificate truly and plainly touching the premises. And thus, for that day, the assembly brake up to the next, and so to the next, and the third, being Monday, the twenty-fourth of November. On the which day, 50 in the presence of the prelates and the clergy in the chapter-house of St. Frideswide, came in Philip Reppyngdon, otherwise called of the brethren afterward ‘Rampyngdon,’ who there abjured the conclusions and assertions aforesaid in this form of words as followeth.
ABJURATION OF PHILIP REPPYNGDON.
In the name of God, Amen. I Philip Reppyngdon, canon of the church of St. Mary de Pre, Leicester, in the diocese of Lincoln, acknowledging the true catholic and apostolic faith, do curse and also abjure all heresy; and namely the heresies and errors underwritten, condemned and reproved by the canonical decrees, and by you most reverend father, touching which hitherto I have been defamed; condemning, moreover, and reproving both them and the authors of them; and I do confess the same to be catholically condemned. And I swear, also, by God’s holy gospels which here I hold in my hand, and do promise, never for any persuasions of men, nor by any other means, to defend or hold as true, the said conclusions under-written or any of them; but that I do and will stand and adhere henceforth in all things, to the determination of the holy catholic church, and to yours, in this behalf. Over and besides, all such as contravene this faith, I do pronounce them. with their doctrine and followers, worthy of everlasting curse. And if I myself shall presume at any time to hold or preach any thing contrary to the premises, I shall be content to abide the severity of the canons.—Subscribed with mine own hand, and of mine own accord.PHILIP REPPYNGDON.
And thus the said ‘Rampyngdon’ was discharged, who afterward was made bishop of Lincoln, and became at length the most bitter and extreme persecutor 75 of this side of all the other bishops within the realm, as in process hereafter may appear.
After the abjuration of this Reppyngdon, immediately was brought in John Ashton, student of divinity; who, being examined upon those conclusions, and willed to say his mind, answered, That he was too simple and ignorant, and therefore would not, and could not, answer any thing clearly or distinctly to those conclusions. Whereupon the archbishop assigned to him doctor William Rugge, the chancellor, and other divines, such as he required himself, to be instructed in the mystery of those conclusions against the afternoon; 51 who, then appearing again after dinner before the archbishop and the prelates, did in like sort and form of words abjure, as did Reppington before.
Of this John Ashton we read, that afterwards, by Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, he was cited and condemned; but whether he died in prison, or was burned, we have yet no certainty to show. This is certain, by the plain words of the Chronicle of St. Alban’s, that when the archbishop, with his doctors and friars, sat in examination upon this John Ashton, in London, the Londoners broke open the door of the conclave, “and did hinder the archbishop himself sitting in the city of London, when he would have made process against John Ashton.” 52 (A.D. 1382.) 76 And thus much of John Ashton.
As touching Nicholas Herford, during the time of this convocation he did not appear; and, therefore, had the sentence of excommunication, against which he put in his appeal from the archbishop to the king and his council.
The archbishop would not admit it, but finding stays and stops, caused him to be apprehended and enclosed in prison. Notwithstanding, through the will of God, and good means, he escaped out of prison, returning again to his former exercise, and preaching as he did before, albeit in as covert and secret a manner as he could; whereupon the archbishop, thundering out his bolts of excommunication against him, sendeth to all pastors and ministers, willing them in all churches and on all festival days, to divulge the said excommunication against him to all men: he writeth, moreover, and sendeth special charge to all and singular of the laity, to.beware that their simplicity be not deceived by his doctrine, but that they, like catholic children, will avoid him, and cause him by all others to be avoided.
Furthermore, not contented with this, he addresseth his letter unto the king, requiring also the aid of his temporal sword to chop off his neck, whom he had already cast down. See and note, reader! the seraphical charity of these priestly prelates towards the poor redeemed flock of Christ. And yet these be they, who, washing their hands with Pilate, say and pretend, “Nobis non licet interficere quenquam:” “it is not our parts to kill any man.” The copy of the letter written to the king is this:— A CRUEL LETTER OF THE ARCHBISHOP TO THE KING, AGAINST NICHOLAS HERFORD.
To the most excellent prince in Christ, etc.; William, etc., greeting in Him by whom kings do reign and princes bear rule. Unto your kingly celsitude by the tenor of these presents we intimate, that one Master Nicholas Herford, doctor of divinity, for his manifest contumacy and offense in not appearing before us, being called, at the day and place assigned, is therefore enwrapped in the sentence of the greater curse, publicly by our ordinary authority; and in the same sentence hath continued now forty days, and yet still continueth with obdurate heart, wickedly contemning the keys of the church, both to the great peril of his soul, and to the pernicious example of others. Forasmuch, therefore, as the holy mother the church hath not to do, or to proceed, any further in this matter, we humbly desire your kingly majesty to direct out your letters for the apprehending of the said excommunicate, according to the custom of this realm of England, wholesomely observed and kept hitherto; to the intent that such, whom the fear of God doth not restrain from evil, the discipline of the secular arm may bridle and pluck back from offending. 53 Your princely celsitude the Lord long continue.—From Lambeth, the fifteenth of January.
To this letter of the archbishop, might not the king, gentle reader, thus answer again, and answer well. “Your letters with your complaint and requests in the same contained, we have received and well considered: for the accomplishing whereof ye shall understand, that as we are readily bent to gratify and satisfy your mind in this behalf on the one hand, so we must beware again on the other, that our authority be not abused, either to oppress before we know, or to judge before we have tried. Wherefore, forasmuch as you, in your letters, do excite and sharpen the severe discipline of our secular sword against one Nicholas Herford, for his not appearing before you, and yet showing, in the said your letters, no certain cause to us what you have to charge him withal; we, therefore, following the example of Alexander the Great, or rather the rule of equity, in opening both our ears indifferently, to hear as well the one part as the other, do assign both to him, when he may be found, and to you, when ye shall be called, a term to appear before us: to the intent that the controversy between you and him, standing upon points of religion, being tried by the true touchstone of God’s holy word, due correction indifferently may be ministered according as the offense shall be found. In the mean time, this we cannot but something marvel at in your said letters. First, to see you, men of the church and angels of peace, to be so desirous of blood.
Secondly, to consider you again so fierce in prosecuting the breach of your law, and yet so cold in pursuing the breach of the express law of God and his commandments. Thirdly, to behold the unstable doubleness in your proceedings, who, pretending in your public sentence to become entreaters for them to us, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, that we will withdraw from them the rigor of our severity, yet, in your letters, you be they who most set us on. If not appearing before you be such a matter of contumacy in case of your law, that it is in no case to be spared, what should then our princely discipline have done to men of your calling? Henry Spencer, bishop of Norwich, being at Canterbury, was sent for by our special commandment, to come at our call, who denied to come, and yet we spared him. 54 John Stratford, archbishop, your predecessor, being required of our progenitor king Edward III., to come to him at York, would not appear; by reason whereof Scotland at the same time was lost, and yet was he endured. The like might be said of Robert Winchelsey, in the days of king Edward I., and of Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, in the days of king Henry III. Stephen Langton was sent for by king John to come; he came not. The like contumacy was in Becket toward king Henry II. Also in Anselm, toward king Henry I. All these, for their not appearing before their princes, ye do excuse, who, notwithstanding, might have appeared without danger of life: this one man, for not appearing before you, you think worthy of death, whose life you would have condemned notwithstanding, if he had appeared. If the squirrel, climbing the tree from the lion’s claws, would not appear, being sent for, to be devoured it is no reason that the eagle therefore should seize upon him without any just cause declared against the party. Wherefore, according to this and to that aforesaid, when he shall appear, and you be called, and the cause justly weighed, due execution shall be administered.”
And thus far concerning Nicholas Hereford, and the other aforesaid. But all this mean while, what became of John Wickliff, it is not certainly known; albeit, so far as may be gathered out of Walden, it appeareth that he was banished and driven to exile. 55 In the mean time, it is not to be doubted, but he was alive during all this while, wheresoever he was, as by his letter may appear, which he about this time wrote to pope Urban VI.
In the which letter he doth purge himself, that being commanded to appear before the pope at Rome, he came not; declaring also in the same a brief confession of his faith: the copy of which epistle here followeth.
AN EPISTLE OF JOHN WICKLIFF TO POPE URBAN VI., A.D. 1882.
Verily I do rejoice to open and declare unto every man the faith which I do hold; and especially unto the bishop of Rome: which, forasmuch as I do suppose to be sound and true, he will most willingly confirm my said faith, or, if it be erroneous, amend the same.
First, I suppose that the gospel of Christ is the whole body of God’s law; and that Christ, who did give that same law himself, I believe to be very God and very man, 56 and in that point, to exceed the law of the gospel, and all other parts of the Scripture. Again, I do give and hold the bishop of Rome, forasmuch as he is the vicar of Christ here on earth, to be most bound, of all other men, unto that law of the gospel. For the greatness among Christ’s disciples did not consist in worldly dignity or honors, but in the near and exact following of Christ in his life and manners: whereupon I do gather out of the heart of the law of the Lord, that Christ, for the time of his pilgrimage here, was a most poor man, abjecting and casting off all worldly rule and honor, as appeareth by the gospel of St. Matthew, chap. 8, and the second epistle of the Corinthians, chap. 8.
Hereby I do fully gather, that no faithful man ought to follow, either the pope himself or any of the holy men, but in such points as he hath followed the Lord Jesus Christ; for Peter and the sons of Zebedee, by desiring worldly honor, contrary to the following of Christ’s steps, did offend, and therefore in those errors they are not to be followed.
Hereof I do gather, as a counsel, that the pope ought to leave unto the secular power all temporal dominion and rule, and thereunto effectually to move and exhort his whole clergy; for so did Christ, and especially by his apostles. Wherefore, if I have erred in any of these points, I will most humbly submit myself unto correction, even by death, if necessity so require; and if I could labor according to my will or desire in mine own person, I would surely present myself before the bishop of Rome; but the Lord hath otherwise visited me to the contrary, and hath taught me rather to obey God than men. Forasmuch then as God hath given unto our pope just and true evangelical instincts, we ought to pray that those instincts be not extinguished by any subtle or crafty device, and that the pope and cardinals be not moved to do any thing contrary unto the law of the Lord.
Wherefore, let us pray unto our God, that he will so stir up our pope Urban VI., as he began, that he with his clergy may follow the Lord Jesus Christ in life and manners; and that they may teach the people effectually, and that they, likewise, may faithfully follow them in the same. And let us specially, pray, that our pope may be preserved, from all malign and evil counsel, which we do know that evil and envious men of his household would give him.
And seeing the Lord will not suffer us to be tempted above our power, much less then will he require of any creature to do that thing which it is not able; forasmuch as that is the plain condition and manner of Antichrist.
Thus much wrote John Wickliff to pope Urban. But this Urbanus, otherwise termed ‘Turbanus,’ was so hot in his wars against Clement the French pope, his adversary, that he had no leisure, and less list, to attend to Wickliffs matters; by reason of which schism, God so provided for poor Wickliff, that he was in some more rest and quietness. Concerning these schismatical wars of the popes, forasmuch as we have here entered upon the mention thereof, it shall not be impertinent from the order of our story, digressing a little from the matter of John Wickliff, to say something of the tragical doings of these two holy popes, striving for the triple crown; to the intent that the christian reader, judging by their fruits and proceedings, may see and understand what difference there is between these popes, and Christ and his apostles. For though in the story of the gospel it is read, that certain of the disciples did strive which should be the greater; yet neither do we read that one of them ever took weapon against the other; and moreover, in the said story of the gospel it doth appear, that they, for so striving as they did, were sharply rebuked by our Savior Christ, and were taught by him another lesson.
About the beginning of the year following, which was A.D. 1883, pope Urban setting all his study how to repress and conquer the contrary pope, his adversary, being then at Avignon, seeing all his other means to fail, and that his cross keys could do no good, took to him the sword of Romulus, and set upon him with open war. And first devising with himself whom he might best choose for his chief champion, he thought none meeter for such affairs than Henry Spencer, being then bishop of Norwich, a young and stout prelate, more fitting for the camping cure, than for the peaceable church of Christ, as partly also might appear before by his acts done at Lynn, in striving for the mayor’s mace, mentioned before. 57 Unto this bishop of Norwich the pope had sent his bulls about this time to croysie whosoever would go with him into France to destroy the antipope, who named himself Clement, and to make war against all those that took his part. Which bulls, for that they gave unto him so great authority, he caused to be published in the parliament house, and caused copies of the same to be sent all about, and to be set up and fastened upon all church doors and monastery gates, that all men might read them; in the which bulls these privileges were granted, the copy whereof here followeth.
POPE URBAN’S BULL80 TO DESTROY CLEMENT THE ANTIPOPE. Imprimis , That the said bishop of Norwich may use his sword against the antipope, and all his adherents, favorers, and counsellors, and with violence put them to death. 2. Item, That he may publish all processes which have been fulminated by the said Urban against the said antipope and his adherents, 3. Item, That he hath full power to inquire of all and singular such schismatics, and to put them in prison, and to confiscate all their goods, moveable and immovable. 4. Item, That he hath power and authority to deprive all laymen that are such schismatics, of all manner of secular offices whatsoever, and to give their offices to other fit and convenient persons. 5. Item, That he may deprive all such clerks as be schismatics, and declare them so deprived and so on in this behalf, and to bestow their benefices, either with cure or without cure, their dignities, parsonages, or offices, on other persons more meet for the same. 6. Item, He hath power and authority over persons that are exempt, both lay and cleric, both secular and regular, yea although they, be friars mendicant, or masters and professed of other houses, or of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem or St. Mary of Flanders, or professed of any other orders whatsoever. 7. Item, He hath power to dispense with what secular clerk soever, being beneficed, either with cure or without cure, and also with such as have dignities, parsonages, or offices, regulars exempt or not exempt, that every one of them may be absent with him from their dignities and benefices, etc. under the standard of the cross, without license obtained of any of their prelates, and yet to receive and take the entire fruits of their benefices, as though they had been personally resident upon the same. 8. Item, There is granted to all that pass the seas in this quarrel, either at their own expense, or at the expense of any other, full remission of their sins; and as large privileges are granted to those that pass the sea with him, as to them that go to fight for the Holy Land. 9. Also, All such as from their proper goods and substance shall give sufficient stipend to able soldiers, at the discretion of the aforesaid lord bishop or of any other his deputy, although they themselves be not personally at this business aforesaid, yet shall have like remission and indulgence, as they who were personally with him in this expedition. 10. Item, All they are partakers of this remission, who shall give a suitable part of their goods to the said bishop to fight against the said schismatics. 11. Item, If any shall chance to die in the journey who are soldiers under the said standard of the cross, or else the quarrel meanwhile to be by some means made up, they shall fully and wholly receive the said grace, and shall be partakers of the aforesaid indulgence and remission. 12. Item, He hath power to excommunicate, suspend, and interdict, what persons soever be rebellious or disturbers of him in the execution of the power committed unto him, of what dignity, state, degree, preeminence, order, place, or condition soever they shall be: yea, although they be distinguished for regal, queenly, or imperial dignity, or any dignity else whatsoever, either ecclesiastical or mundane. 13. Item, He hath power to compel all religious persons whatsoever, and to appoint them, and send them over sea, if it seem good to him, yea, although they be professed of the friars mendicant, for the execution of the premises.
FORM OF THE POPE’S ABSOLUTION PRONOUNCED BY THE BISHOP.
By the authority apostolical to me in this behalf committed, we absolve thee A.B from all thy sins confessed with thy mouth, and being contrite with thy heart, and whereof thou wouldst be confessed if they came into thy memory; and we grant unto thee plenary remission of sins, and we promise unto thee the recompense of the just, and an increase of everlasting salvation. And as many privileges as are granted to them that go to fight for the Holy Land, we grant unto thee; and we impart to thee a share in the suffrages of the prayers and good works of the universal synod of the church, and of the holy catholic church.
This courageous or rather outrageous bishop, armed thus with the pope’s authority, and prompt with his privileges, in the year aforesaid ( A.D. 1383), about the time of Lent, came to the parliament, where great consultation and contention, and almost no less schism, was, about the voyage of this popish bishop in the parliament, than was between the popes themselves; in which parliament many there were, who thought it not safe to commit the king’s people and subjects to a rude and unskilful priest. So great was the diversity of judgments in that behalf that the bishop’s voyage was protracted to the Saturday before Passion Sunday.
On that Sunday was sung the solemn anthem, “Ecce crucem Domini, fugite partes adversae;” that is, “Behold the cross of the Lord, fly away all you adversaries.” After that Sunday the parties so agreed amongst themselves by common decree, that the bishop should set forward on his voyage, having given to him the fifteenth, which was granted to the king in the parliament before. These things thus concluded, this warlike bishop preparing beforehand all things in readiness, set forward on his pope-holy journey; who, about the month of May, came to Canterbury, 81 and there, tarrying for a wind in the monastery of St. Augustine, received a writ from the king that he should return to him, to know further of his pleasure. The bishop fearing, that if he turned again to the king, his journey should be staid, and so all his labor and preparation lost, with great derision and shame unto him, thought better to commit himself to fortune with that little army he had, than, by tarrying, to be made a laughing stock to his adversaries. Wherefore he sent word back again to the king, that he was now ready prepared, and well forward on his journey; and that it was not expedient now to protract the time for any kind of talk, which, peradventure, should be to no manner of purpose; and that it was more convenient for him to hasten in his journey to God’s glory, and also to the honor of the king. And thus he, calling his men unto him, entered forthwith upon the seas, and went to Calais, where he, waiting a few days for the rest of his army, on its arrival, took his journey first to the town of Gravelines, which he besieged so desperately, without any preparing of engines of war, or counsel of politic men skillful in such affairs, that he seemed rather to fly upon them, than to invade them. At length, through the superstition of our men trusting to the pope’s absolution, he so harishly 59 approached the walls and invaded the enemies, that a great number of them were piteously slain with shot and wild-fire; till, in the end, the inhabitants being oppressed and vanquished, our men entered the town with their bishop, where they, at his commandment, destroying both man, woman: and child, left not one alive of all those who remained in the whole town. “And so it came to pass by the virtue of the cross, that the enemies of the cross were so utterly destroyed, that not one of them remained alive.” From Gravelines this warlike bishop set forward to Dunkirk, where, not long after, the Frenchmen meeting with him, joined with him in battle; in which battle, if the story be true, twelve thousand of the Frenchmen were slain in the chase, and of our men only seven were missing. It would require a long narration here to discourse of all things done in these popish wars; also it would be no less ridiculous to view and behold the glorious temerity of this new upstart captain. But certes, lamentable it is to see the pitiful slaughter and murder of Christ’s people by means of these pitiless popes, during these wars in France; as when the bishop coming from Dunkirk to the siege of Ypres, a great number of Englishmen there were lost, and much money consumed, and yet nothing done effectually, to the great shame, and ignominy of the bishop. Again, after the siege of Ypres, thus with shame broken up, the same bishop proceeding with a small power to fight with the French king’s camp, contrary to the counsel of his captains, who counted him rash and unskilful in his attempt, was fain to break company with them; whereby part of the army went unto Burburgh, and the bishop with the other part returned to Gravelines; both which towns shortly after were besieged by the French army, to the great loss both of the English and French. In fine, when the bishop could keep Gravelines no longer, the said bishop with his croysies, crossing the seas. came home again as wise as he went. And thus, making an end of this pontifical war, we will return again from whence we digressed, to the story and matter of John Wickliff.
This John Wickliff returning again within short space, either from his banishment, or from some other place where he was secretly kept, repaired to his parish of Lutterworth, where he was parson; and there, quietly departing this mortal life, slept in peace in the Lord, in the end 61 of the year 1384, upon Silvester’s day. Here is to be noted the great providence of the Lord in this man, as in divers others, whom the Lord so long preserved in such rages of so many enemies from all their hands, even to his old age. For so it appeareth by Thomas Walden, writing against him in his tomes entitled “De Sacramentis, contra Wiclevium, that he was well aged before he departed, by that which the aforesaid Walden writeth of him in his epilogue, speaking of Wickliff in these words; 63 “so that the same thing pleased him in his old age, which did please him being young.” Whereby it seemeth that Wickliff lived till he was an old man by this report. Such a Lord is God, that whom he will have kept, nothing can hurt.
This Wickliff had written divers and sundry works, which were burnt at Oxford A.D. 1410. the abbot of Shrewsbury being then commissary, and sent to oversee that matter. 64 And not only in England, but in Bohemia likewise, the books of the said Wickliff were set on fire by Sbinko Lepus, archbishop of Prague, who made diligent inquisition for the same, and burned them. The volumes which he is said to have burned, most excellently written, and richly adorned with bosses of gold, and rich coverings ( as Eneas Silvius writeth 84 ), were about the number of two hundred. *I would to God, that our destinies had not so much envied us, as to have deprived us of the felicity and commodity of so great a treasure. Albeit, in this behalf, John Bale hath deserved not a little praise, through whose exquisite labor and diligence it is brought to pass, that not only certain titles and arguments of his books, but also certain monuments, 65 as I do hear, are recovered out of darkness; a man who, not in this respect alone, hath well deserved, of good students.* Johannes Cocleus, 67 in his book ‘De historia Hussitarum,’ speaking of the books of Wickliff, testifieth, that he wrote very many books, sermons, and tractations. Moreover, the said Cocleus, speaking of himself, recordeth also, that there was a certain bishop in England, who wrote to him, declaring, that he had yet remaining in his custody two huge and mighty volumes of John Wickliff’s works, which, for the quantity thereof, might seem to be equal to the works of St. Augustine.
Among other of his treatises, I myself also have found out certain, as ‘De sensu et verirate Scripturae;’ ‘De Ecclesia;’ ‘De Eucharistia confessio Wicklevi,’ which I intend hereafter, the Lord so granting, to publish abroad.
As concerning certain answers of John Wickliff which he wrote to king Richard II., touching the right and title of the king and of the pope, because they are but short, I thought here to annex them. The effect whereof here followeth:— THE SUBSTANCE OF JOHN WICKLIFF’S ANSWER TO KING RICHARD II., TOUCHING THE RIGHT AND TITLE OF THE KING AND THE POPE.
It was demanded “whether the kingdom of England may lawfully in the case of necessity, for its own defence, detain and keep back the treasure of the kindom, that it be not carried away to foreign and strange nations, the pope himself demanding, and requiring the same, under pain of censure, and by virtue of obedience.” Wickliff, setting apart the minds of learned men, and what might be said in the matter, either by the canon law, or by the law of England, or by the civil law, saith: “It resteth now only to persuade and prove the affirmative part of,his doubt, by the principles of Christ’s law. And first, I prove it thus: Every natural body hath power given by God to resist against its contrary, and to preserve itself in due estate, as philosophers know very well; insomuch, that bodies without life are endued with such kind of power, as it is evident, unto whom hardness is given to resist those things that would break them, and coldness to withstand the heat that dissolveth them. Forasmuch then, as the kingdom of England, after the manner and phrase of the Scriptures, ought to be one body, and the clergy, with the commonalty, the members thereof, it seemeth that the same kingdom hath such power given it of God; and so much the more apparently, by how much the same body is more precious unto God, adorned with virtue and knowledge. Forasmuch then as there is no power given of God unto any creature for any end or purpose, but that he may lawfully use the same to that end and purpose, it followeth that our kingdom may lawfully keep back and detain their treasure for the defense of itself, in what case soever necessity doth require the same.
Secondly, The same is proved by the law of the gospel: for the pope cannot challenge the treasure of this kingdom, but under the title of alms, and consequently under the pretense of works of mercy, according to the rule of charity.
But in the case aforesaid, the title of alms ought utterly to cease:
Ergo, the right and title of challenging the treasure of our realm, shall cease also, in the presupposed necessity. Forasmuch as all charity hath its beginning of itself, it were no work of charity, but of mere madness, to send away the treasures of the realm unto foreign nations, whereby the realm itself may fall into ruin, under the pretense of such charity.
It appeareth also by this, that Christ, the head of the church, whom all christian priests ought to follow, lived by the alms of devout women [Luke 7 and 8 He hungered and thirsted, he was a stranger, and many other miseries he sustained, not only in his members, but also in his own body, as the apostle witnesseth [2 Corinthians 8] “He was made poor for your sakes, that through his poverty you might be rich:” whereby, in the first endowing of the church, whatsoever he were of the clergy that had any temporal possessions, he had the same by form of a perpetual alms, as both writings and chronicles do witness.
Hereupon the blessed Bernard, declaring in his second book to Eugenius, that he could not challenge any secular dominion by right of succession, as being the vicar of St. Peter, writeth thus; “But let it be so, that you do challenge it unto you by some other ways or means; but, truly, by any right or title apostolical you cannot so do: for how could he give unto you that which he had not himself?
That which he had, he gave you; that is to say, care over the church; but did he give you any lordship or rule? Hark what he saith, ‘Not hearing rule as lords over the clergy, but behaving yourselves as examples to the flock.’ And lest thou shouldst think it to be spoken only in humility, and not in verity, mark the word of the Lord himself in the gospel, ‘The kings of the people do rule over them, but you shall not do so.’ Here lordship and dominion are plainly forbidden to the apostles. Go to then, and usurp (if thou darest), either (if thou wilt be a lord) the apostleship, or (if thou wilt be an apostle) the lordship; for thou art plainly debarred the one or the other. If thou wilt have both together, thou shalt lose both; or else think thyself to be of that number, of whom God doth complain, saying, ‘They have reigned, but not through me; they are become princes, and I have not known it.’ Now if it do suffice thee to rule without God,68 thou hast thy glory, but not with God. But if we will keep that which is forbidden us, let us hear what is said, ‘He that is the greatest amongst you,’ saith Christ, ‘shall be made as the least, and he which is the highest shall be as the minister;’ and for example he set a child in the midst of them. So this, then, is the true form and institution of the apostolic calling, lordship is forbidden, ministration is commanded.”
By these words of this blessed man, whom the whole church doth reverence and worship, it doth appear that the pope hath not power to hold in possession the goods of the church, as lord thereof, but as minister and servant, and proctor for the poor. And would to God, that the same proud and greedy desire of rule and lordship, which this see doth challenge unto it, were not a preamble to prepare a way for Antichrist; for it is evident by the gospel that Christ through his poverty, humility, and suffering of injury, begot unto him the children of his kingdom.
And moreover, as far as I remember, the same blessed man Bernard, in his third book, writeth also thus unto Eugenius, “No poison, no sword, do I dread more for thee, than the lust of dominion.” This Wickliff, albeit in his lifetime he had many grievous enemies, vet was there none so cruel to him, as the clergy itself. Yet, notwithstanding, he had many good friends, men not only of the meaner sort, but also of the nobility, amongst whom these men are to be numbered, John Clenbon, Lewes Clifford, Richard Stury, Thomas Latimer, William Nevil, and John Montague, who plucked down all the images in his church. Besides all these, there was the earl of Salisbury, who, for contempt in him noted towards the sacrament, in carrying it home to his house, was enjoined by Ralph Ergom, bishop of Salisbury, to make in Salisbury a cross of stone, in which all the story of the matter should be written: and he, every Friday during his life, to come to the cross barefoot, and bareheaded in his shirt, and there kneeling upon his knees to do penance for his deed. The Londoners at this time, somewhat boldly trusting to the mayor’s authority, who for that year was John of Northampton, took upon them the office of the bishops, in punishing the vices, belonging to civil law, of such persons as they had found and apprehended in committing both fornication and adultery; for, first, they put the women in the prison, which, amongst them, was then named Dolium; and lastly, bringing them into the market-place, where every man might behold them, and cutting off their golden locks from their heads, they caused them to be carried about the streets, with bagpipes and trumpets blown before them, to the intent they should be the better known, and their companies avoided; according to the manner then of certain thieves that were named “Appellatores,” accusers or impeachers of others that were guiltless, who were so served.
And with other such like opprobrious and reproachful contumelies did they serve the men also that were taken with them in committing the aforenamed wickedness and vices. Here the story recordeth how the said Londoners were encouraged hereunto by John Wickliff, and by others who followed his doctrine, to perpetrate this act, to the reproach of the prelates of the clergy; for they said, that they did not only abhor to see the great negligence of those, to whom that charge belonged, but also their filthy avarice they did as much detest, who, for greediness of money, were choaked with bribes, and winking at the penalties due to such persons by the laws appointed, suffered such fornicators and incestuous persons favorably to continue in their wickedness. They said, furthermore, that they greatly feared, lest for such wickedness perpetrated within the city, and so apparently dissembled, God would take vengeance upon them, and destroy their city. Wherefore they said, that they could do no less than purge the same; lest, by the sufferance thereof, God should bring a plague upon them, or destroy them with the sword, or cause the earth to swallow up both them and their city. This story, gentle reader, although the author thereof, whom I follow, doth give it out in reproachful terms to the great discommendation of the Londoners for so doing, yet I thought not to omit, but to commit the same to memory; which seemeth to me. rather to tend unto the worthy commendation both of the Londoners and the aforesaid John of Northampton, the mayor, * 72 A notable and worthy example, doubtless, of a true magistrate; which man, if they that follow him now in like office, would also follow him in like severity and diligence, I doubt not but that it would be better with the city of London, for the good reformations of the people: so that, we had not either fallen into this tempest of great misery, wherewith all the realm of England is now plagued, or else, we should yet the sooner shake off the plague, and put it away. But now, while the princes do attend and give ear to blind prophecies, the bishops play the tyrants, 73 the divines are drowned in ambition, the prophets slain, the noblemen fall into all kinds of lascivious wantonness, the magistrates wink at vice unpunished, the common people run into all kinds of lasciviousness; while prostitution, divorcements, adultery, avarice and covetousness, craft and deceit, drunkenness, contentions, usury and perjury, with all other kinds of vice and wickedness, overflow now the realm, what marvel is it, if all the joints and frames of the commonwealth being loosed asunder, all things run in heaps, to ruin and decay. Hitherto it may be thought, that we are sufficiently instructed by the great scourges, plagues, and miseries which have happened; and except we are so, nothing will teach us what it is to fall into the hand of the Lord, and what it is to abuse his holy gospel. Time it is, yea, and high time doth require it, that we now, forsaking and wearing weary of our old corruptions and evils, may at length convert and turn the wrath and displeasure of God, into his mercy and favor; which thing we shall soon do, if we first of all ourselves, do correct and amend our lives, and change our vice into virtue; but of this matter (God willing) we will find another place to treat. Now we will return again to the favorers of Wickliff, amongst whom is to be counted the lord Cobham, who is reported openly to have confessed (as Walden writeth) that he did never with his heart hate sin, before he was instructed and taught by Wickliff. All these were noble men, yet was there no want amongst the meanest sort of such as, with all their diligence, did defend his doctrine; and especially among the Oxford men, of whom there was not one that escaped free without some kind of mark; for either they were most shamefully forced unto recantation, or most cruelly judged to the fire.* After these things thus declared, let us now add the testimonial of the university of Oxford in favor of John Wickliff.
THE PUBLIC TESTIMONY GIVEN BY THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, TOUCHING THE GREAT LEARNING AND GOOD LIFE OF JOHN WICKLIFF. Unto all and singular the children of our holy mother the church, to whom this present letter shall come, the chancellor of the university of Oxford, with the whole congregation of the masters, wish perpetual health in the Lord. Forsomuch as it is not seemly, that the acts and monuments of valiant men, nor the praise and merits of good men, should be passed over and hidden with perpetual silence, but that true report and fame should continually spread abroad the same in strange and far distant places, both for the witness of the same, and the example to others; forsomuch also as the provident discretion of human nature, well weighing the cruelty of mankind, hath devised this way of narrative as a buckler of defense against such as do blaspheme and slander other men’s doings, that whensoever testimony by word of mouth cannot he present, the pen by writing may supply the same:— Hereupon it followeth, that the special good will and tender care which we bear unto John Wickliff, sometime a son of this our university, and professor of divinity, moving and stirring our minds (as his good manners required no less), with one heart, voice, and testimony, we do witness all his conditions throughout his whole life to have been praiseworthy; whose honest manners and conditions, profoundness of learning, and most redolent renown and fame, we desire the more earnestly to be notified and known unto all the faithful, for that we understand the ripeness of his conversation, and his assiduous labors, to tend to the praise of God, the good of others, and the profit of the church.
Wherefore we signify unto you by these presents, that his conversation, even from tender years unto the time of his death, was so excellent and honest, that never at any time was there any note or spot of suspicion reported of him. But, in his answering, reading, preaching, and determining, he behaved himself laudably.
Neither was the said doctor convicted of any heresy, nor burned of our prelates after his burial,76 God forbid, that our prelates should have condemned for a heretic a man of such probity; who had written in logic, philosophy, divinity, morality, and the speculative arts, without his peer (as we believe) amongst all the rest of the university. The which we are delighted to produce to the knowledge of all and singular to whom these presents may come, to the intent that the fame and renown of the said doctor may be the more spread abroad. In testimony whereof, we have caused these our letters testimonial to be sealed with our common seal.
Given at Oxford, in our congregation-house, the fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord, 1406. THE TESTIMONY AND JUDGMENT OF MASTER JOHN HUSS, TOUCHING MASTER JOHN WICKLIFF. Verily, as I do not believe, neither grant, that Master John Wickliff is a heretic, so do I not deny, but firmly hope, that he is no heretic; forasmuch as in all matters of doubt, I ought, as near as I can, to choose the better part. Wherefore I hope, that Master John Wickliff is one of them who should be saved. The words of Christ move me thereunto, saying [Matthew 8] “Do not ye judge, that ye be not judged,” and [Luke 6] “Do not condemn, and ye shall not be condemned;” and the words of the apostle [1 Corinthians 4] “Do not ye judge before the time, until the Lord do come, who shall in darkness, and manifest the secrets of the hearts.”
Secondly , The charity which I ought to bear unto my neighbor, loving him as myself, doth move me thereunto. [Luke 5] Thirdly , His good fame and report moveth me, which he hath of the good priests, and not of the wicked; of the university of Oxford; and commonly of the priests, and not of the wicked; of the universtiy of Oxford; and commonly of the vulgar sort, although not of the wicked, covetous, proud, and lecherous prelates and priests.
Fourthly , His own writings do stir me thereunto, by which he goeth about with his whole endeavor to reduce all men unto the law of Christ, and especially the clergy, that they should forsake the pomp and dominion of this world, and with the apostles lead the life of Christ.
Fifthly , His protestations, which he doth use in his sentences, very often repeating the same, do not a little move me.
Sixthly , His affection which he had unto the law of Christ doth not a little move me thereunto, asserting the verity thereof, which cannot fail in any one jot or tittle. Whereupon he made a book “concerning the verity of holy Scripture,” approving, even unto the uttermost, the truth of God’s law. Therefore, it were too foolish a consequence to say, that because the multitude of the prelates and clergy in the realms of England, France, and Bohemia, do count Master John Wickliff for a heretic, that therefore Master John Wickliff is a heretic. For so Jesus Christ were not God, because the Turks and the Jews so judge, etc.
The like reasoning would apply to the burning of his books, for it is written in the first book of Maccabees, the first chapter, that “They did burn the books of the Lord, tearing them in pieces, and whosoever was found to have kept any books of the Testament of the Lord, or which observed and kept the law of the Lord, he was, by the kingcommandment, put to death.” If then the burning of books by wicked men did argue or prove evil of the books, then were the law of God evil and naught. So likewise the burning of St.
Whereupon as it doth not follow, that because the chief-priests, scribes, and pharisees, with the elders of the people, condemned Christ Jesus as a heretic, that therefore he is a heretic; so likewise doth it not follow of any other man, that becausE; the bishops, and masters of divinity, with the monks and prelates, condemned that man as a heretic, therefore, he is a heretic. For this consequence is reproved in the blessed John Chrysostome, who was twice condemned as a heretic by the bishops and the whole of the clergy.
Likewise St. Gregory, in his books, was condemned by the cardinals.
By like proof also, as they affirm Master John Wickliff to be a heretic, John duke of Lancaster, a man of worthy memory, and progenitor of Henry, king of England that now is, should be a heretic: because the said duke defended, cherished, and greatly loved Master John Wickliff; ergo, the said duke is or was a heretic.
The consequence is good; for the minor is well known to Englishmen, the major appeareth in the canon law, where it is said (Causa 24. quaest, ult.), “He who defendeth a heretic, is not only a heretic, but a heresiarch.”
But, these things set apart, I demand of the adversary, whether Master John Wickliff be damned for ever or no? If he say, that he is damned because he is a heretic, I propound this unto him: whether Master John Wickliff, whilst he lived, held any false doctrine contrary to the holy Scriptures? If he do affirm it, let him then show what doctrine that is, and afterwards show that he held it obstinately. But he shall find that in his books he always wrote commendable protestations against obstinacy.
Further, Master John Stokes in his “Intimation” saith, that Master John Wickliff in England is counted for a heretic. This seemeth also false 87 by the letter testimonial of the university of Oxford, to which there is more credit to be given than unto him. And if any one shall dare to say that the letter is forged, let him be bound under a penalty to prove it: to do which he must prove the Englishmen falsifiers, for the seal and the letter on parchment are clearly English.
Now as we have declared the testimony of the university of Oxford, and of John Huss, concerning the praise of John Wickliff, it followeth, likewise, that we set forth and express the contrary censure and judgments of his enemies, blinded with malicious hatred and corrupt affections against him; especially of the pope’s council gathered at Constance, proceeding, first, in condemning his books, then his articles, and afterward burning his bones. The copy of their sentence given against him by that council here followeth.
THE SENTENCE GIVEN BY THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE, IN CONDEMNING THE DOCTRINE AND FORTY-FIVE ARTICLES OF JOHN WICKLIFF. A.D. 1415. The holy and sacred synod of Constance, making a general council and representing the catholic church, being lawfully gathered together in the Holy Ghost for the extirpation of this present schism and of the errors and heresies springing under the shadow of the same, and for the reformation of the church, for the perpetual memory of the thing:— We are taught by the writings and acts of the holy fathers, that the catholic faith, “without which,” as saith the apostle, “it is impossible to please God,” hath often been attacked by false worshippers, or rather perverse impugners, of the said faith; who, through their proud curiosity, affected to be wiser than they ought to be, and, through their desire of worldly glory, have gone about to overthrow the same faith; the which hath been as often defended against them with the shield of faith by the faithful sad spiritual soldiers of the church. These kind of wars were prefigured to us in the carnal wars of the Israelites against the idolatrous nations. In these spiritual wars, then, the holy catholic church, being enlightened in the true faith with the beams of the heavenly light, by the providence of God, and with the help of the saints, always continuing immaculate, and the darkness of error as her most cruel enemy being put to flight, hath most gloriously triumphed. But in these times, that old and envious enemy hath raised up new contentions, that the elect of this age might be made manifest, whose captain and prince in time past was one John Wickliff, a false christian; who, during his lifetime, obstinately asserted and dogmatized many articles contrary to the christian religion and the catholic faith, forty-five whereof we have though, good here to set down, and they are as followeth.
And the same John Wickliff composed certain books which he called “Dialogue” and “Trialogue,” and many other treatises, volumes, and small works, in which he inserted and dogmatized the aforesaid and many other damnable and execrable articles; the which his books, for the more publication of his perverse doctrine, he did set forth openly for every man to read. Whence great scandal, damage, and peril to souls hath ensued in divers regions, but especially in the kingdoms of England and Bohemia. Against which the masters and doctors of the universities and schools of Oxford and Prague rising up in the truth of God, within a while after did formally condemn the said articles.
Moreover, the most reverend fathers, the archbishops, for the time being, of Canterbury, York, and Prague, legates of the apostolic see in the kingdoms of England and Bohemia, did condemn them. And the said archbishop of Prague, commissary of the apostolic see in this behalf, did moreover judge the books of the said Wickliff to be burnt, and forbade the reading of any of those books which might remain unburned.
And again, those things being brought to the knowledge of the apostolic see and of the general council, the bishop of Rome in the last council celebrated at Rome condemned the said books, treatises, and small works, commanding them to be burned; most straitly forbidding that any one bearing the name of Christ should dare either to read, or expound, or keep any of the said books, volumes, treatises, or works; or in any way use them; or else suede them publicly or privily, but to their reprobation. And, to the intent that this dangerous and most filthy doctrine should be utterly banished out of the church, he gave commandment that diligent inquisition should be made every where by the ordinaries of the places, by apostolic authority and ecclesiastical censure (with the addition, that, if need be, proceedings should be instituted against recusants as against fautors of heresy), after all such books, treatises, volumes, and works, and that the same being found, should be publicly burned with fire.
And this holy synod caused the aforesaid forty-five articles to be examined and oftentimes perused by many most reverend fathers of the church of Rome, cardinals, bishops, abbots, masters of divinity, and doctors of both laws, besides a great number of other learned men; which articles being so examined, it was found (as in truth it is no less) that some, yea and many of them, were and are notoriously heretical, and for such long ago condemned by the holy fathers; other some not catholic, but erroneous; other some scandalous and blasphemous; certain of them offensive unto godly ears; and many of them rash and seditious. It is found, also, that his books do contain many other articles of like quality, and that they do induce into the church of God unsound and unwholesome 81 doctrine, inimical both to faith and morals.
Wherefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, this synod, ratifying and approving the sentences and judgments of the aforesaid archbishops and council of Rome, do by this decree for evermore reprove and condemn the aforesaid articles and every one of them, his books which he entituled “Dialogue” and “Trialogue,” 82 and all other books, volumes, treatises, and works, of the same author, by what name soever they be entituled, which we will to be here sufficiently expressed and named. Also, we forbid unto all faithful Christians the reading, 83 learning, exposition, and alleging of the said books or any of them, but for the reprobation of the same; and we forbid all and singular, under pain of curse, that they never from , henceforth presume openly to preach, teach, or hold, or by any means allege the said articles or any of them, except, as is aforesaid, for the reprobation of them; commanding all those books, treatises, volumes, and works aforesaid, to be openly burned, as was decreed in the synod at Rome, 84 and as is before expressed. The execution and observance whereof the aforesaid sacred synod doth charge the ordinaries of the places vigilantly to intend, according as it appertaineth to every man’s duty, by the laws and holy canons.
NOTE.—Besides the twenty-four articles above mentioned, 85 there were others also gathered out of his books, to the number of forty-five in all, which his malicious adversaries, perversely collecting and maliciously expounding, dig exhibit up to the Council of Constance; which to repeat all, though it be not here needful yet to recite certain of them as they stand in that council, it shall not be superfluous. 25. All such as engage to pray for others on condition of their providing for them in temporals, are guilty of simony. 26. The prayer of a reprobate availeth no man. 27. All things happen from absolute necessity. 28. The confirmation of young persons, ordination of clerics, and the consecration of places, be reserved to the pope and bishops for the sake of temporal lucre and honor. 29. Universities, schools [studia], and colleges, and the degrees and masterships used in the same, were introduced from a vain affectation of Gentilism, and no more profit the church than the devil himself doth. 30. The excommunication of the pope or any other prelate is not to be feared, because it is the censure of Antichrist. 31. Such as found monasteries do sin, and all such as enter the same be members of the devil. 32. To endow the clergy is against the rule of Christ. 33. Sylvester, the pope, and Constantine, the emperor, erred in endowing the church. 34. Any deacon or presbyter may lawfully preach the word of God without the authority of the apostolic see or that of a bishop. 35. Such as enter into any order or religion [monastical] are thereby disabled for the observance of Godcommandments, and by consequence for the attaining the kingdom of heaven, except they forsake the same. 36. The pope with all his clerics, having those great possessions which they have, be heretics for so having, as also are all secular lords and other laics who consent to them. 37. The church of Rome is the synagogue of Satan; nor is the pope the immediate and proximate vicar of Christ and of the apostles. 38. The decretal epistles be apocryphal, and tend to seduce from the faith of Christ; and the clerics that study them be fools. 39. The emperor and secular lords were seduced by the devil, that they endowed the church with temporal goods. 40. It is not necessary to salvation to believe the church of Rome to be supreme head over other churches. 41. It is infatuation to believe in the indulgences of the pope. 42. Oaths which be made for any contract or civil bargain betwixt man and man, be unlawful. 43. Augustine, Benedict, Bernard, with all such as have held endowments, and such as have instituted or entered into [private] religion, except they repented them thereof, be damned; and so all from the pope to the lowest novice be heretics. 44. All [private] religions, without distinction, were not introduced by Christ. 45. That all in the order of mendicants be heretics, and all who give them alms be excommunicate. Besides these articles, to the number of forty-five, condemned, as is said, by the council of Constance, other articles also I find diversely collected, or rather wrested, out of the books and writings of Wickliff, some by William Woodford, and some by Walden, friar Tissington, and others; which they, in their books, have impugned rather than confuted; in the number of whom William Woodford especially findeth out these articles, and writeth against the same, to the number of eighteen, as hereunder follow.
ARTICLES AGAINST WICKLIFF COLLECTED BY WILLIAM WOODFORD. 1. The substance of the bread remaineth after the consecration thereof upon the altar, and ceaseth not to be bread. 2. As John was figuratively Elias, and not personally, so the bread is figuratively the body of Christ, and not naturally the body of Christ.
And without all doubt it is a figurative speech, “This is my body,” as when Christ said, “This John is Elias.” 3. The sacrament of the Eucharist is naturally true bread, speaking as before of material ]bread, white and round: and so hath the court of Rome determined in the chapter, “ Ego Berengarius." 4. They who do affirm that the infants of the faithful, departing without the sacrament of baptism, are not saved, be presumptuous and fools in so affirming. 5. The administration of the sacrament of confirmation is not reserved to the bishops. 6. In the time of St. Paul, two orders of clerks did suffice the church, priests and deacons. Neither was there in the time of the apostles any distinction of pope, patriarchs, archbishops: but it sufficeth according to Scripture that there be presbyters and deacons; the emperor’s pride did invent the others. 7. Such as marry in old age either for covetousness of temporal lucre, or in hope of mutual succor, or in order to excuse their lust, although they have no hope of issue, are not coupled together by true matrimony. 8. Causes of divorce on account of consanguinity or affinity be unwarrantable human ordinances. 9. These words, “I will take thee to wife,” are rather to be used in contracting of matrimony, than the words, “I do take thee to wife.”
And the contract with any party by the words of the future tense, “I will take thee to wife,” ought not to be frustrated by a contract by another party afterwards made by the words of the present time, “I do take thee to wife.” 10. These twelve are the proctors of Antichrist, the pope, the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, officials and deans, monks and bifurcate canons, the false friars last introduced, and collectors. 11. In the Book of Numbers, chap. 18, and in Ezekiel, chap. 94, it is simply commanded negatively, that neither priests of the family of Aaron, nor the Levites, should have any part of the inheritance with the other tribes, but should live merely by tithes and oblations. 12. There is not a greater heretic or Antichrist than the clerk who teacheth that it is lawful for the priests and Levites of the law of grace to be endowed with temporal possessions. And if any be heretics, apostates, or blasphemers through handling the word of God deceitfifully, such be the clerks who so teach. 13. Not only can the lords temporal take away the goods of fortune from a church habitually delinquent, that is, not only is it lawful for them so to do, but also they are bound so to do under pain of eternal damnation. 14. He that is the more humble and more devoted in the love of Christ, and more loving toward the church, is the greater in the church militant, and the nearest vicar of Christ. 15. If corporal unction [‘or anoyling] were a sacrament (as is now feigned), Christ and his apostles would not have passed in silence the institution thereof. 16. Unto true secular dominion is requisite the virtuous life [justiris] of him that claimeth the dominion, so that no man who is in mortal sin is really lord of anything. 17. All things that are to happen will so happen absolutely and of necessity. 18. Whatsoever the pope or his cardinals can deduce, clearly out of holy Scripture, that only is to be believed or to be done at their monition; and whatsoever they presume [to require] beyond this is to be contemned as heretical.
Besides this William Woodford aforementioned, 92 divers other there were who wrote against these articles of Wickliff aforesaid, maintaining the pope’s part, as seemeth, for flattery, rather than following any just cause so to do, or showing forth any reason or learning in disproving the same.
Notwithstanding, on the contrary part, some there were again both learned and godly, who, taking the part of Wickliff, without any flattery, defended the most of the said articles openly in schools and other places. * 93 Thus you have the whole sum of Wickliff’s articles, containing his whole doctrine, described and set forth; albeit not as he hath uttered them, but as his froward adversaries have compiled and collected them out of his writings. Wherefore, if some of them seem hard or strange, I think it rather to be imputed to their evil will, than to his good meaning; as it might soon appear, if his books had been now extant to testify of his doctrine. But this is certain; howsoever his articles were taken of the wicked and evil disposed, with all good men he was highly favored, and had in such estimation for his profound knowledge and great learning, that also foreign nations were moved with his authority. Amongst all other, the Bohemians had him in such reverence for the opinion of his singular learning, that John Huss, the greatest doer in the university of Prague, not only took profit of his doctrine, but also openly defended his articles. Insomuch that in his public disputation and solemn acts after the manner of schools, he took upon him the public defension of divers of the said articles; namely, upon the fourteenth, fifteenth, and seventeenth, with other more; whose disputation upon the same matter, if it shall not seem tedious to the reader to understand, it shall not seem grievous to me to declare; not only for the antiquity of the matter, but also for the utility of the same.* THE PUBLIC DEFENCE OF CERTAIN ARTICLES OF JOHN WICKLIFF, IN THE FIRST ACT, BEFORE THE WHOLE UNIVERSITY OF PRAGUE, IN CHARLES’S COLLEGE, A.D. 1412. The Determination of John Huss upon the Fourteenth Article of Wickliff, 90 touching the Preaching and Hearing of the Word of God, made in the Year of our Lord 1412.
Forsomuch as to condemn the truth wittingly, or without reasonable examination, doth tend to great danger of salvation, as the Lord saith [Luke 6], “Do not ye condemn, and ye shall not be condemned:” therefore, to avoid this great danger, the university of Prague, and the whole commonalty thereof, the rector, masters, doctors, bachelors, and students, in, general congregation not agreeing to the condemnation pronounced by the doctors in their council-house, require of the said doctors a justification of their condemnation, and that they should by Scripture, authority, or infallible reason, prove the falsehood of every those five and forty articles; the which being once done, the said university will agree to the said condemnation as just. For the university doth well know, that, as Augustine saith, at the end of his second book of Christian Doctrine, “Whatsoever a man doth learn besides the holy Scriptures, if it be hurtful, there it is condemned; if it be profitable, there it is found· And when a man hath found all things therein which he hath profitably learned elsewhere, he shall much more abundantly find those things which are found in no place else, but are learned in the marvellous depth and marvellous profoundness of those most sacred Scriptures only.”
Thus writeth Augustine. And Gregory, in his twenty-third book of Morals, saith thus: “God in the holy Scripture hath comprehended whatsoever thing may happen unto any man, and in the same hath by the examples of those who are gone before taught those who are to come, how to reform their lives.”
Hence it appeareth, that if every of the five and forty articles containeth in it wholly the thing that is false and untrue, the same is either explicitly or implicitly condemned in the holy Scriptures.
Secondly, it followeth by the sentence and mind of this holy man, that if the condemnation of the five and forty articles be profitable, the same is found in the holy Scriptures. And whereas again St.
Augustine writeth unto St. Jerome in his eighth epistle, as cited in the ninth Distinction, “I,” saith he, “have learned to attribute this honor and reverence unto those writers only who are called canonical, that I dare affirm none of them to have erred in their works or writings. As for all other writers, I do so read them, that although they abound with never so much holiness, or excel in doctrine, I do not by-and-by think it true because they themselves do so judge; but if they can, by other authors, or canonical, or probable reasons, persuade or prove that it doth not digress from the truth.”
Also, the said Augustine, in his book ‘De Baptismo contra Donatistas,’ 91 lib. 2 cap. 3, saith thus: “Who doth not know the holy canonical Scripture to be contained in his own bounds and limits, and the same to be so preferred before all other letters and decrees of bishops, as that it must not be once doubted or questioned touching anything written therein, whether it be true and right. As for the letters of other bishops which have been written, or be written, since the settlement of the canon, they may lawfully be reprehended and reproved, both by the word of them that be more skillful in that matter, and also by the ancient authority of other bishops, or by the prudence and wisdom of such as be better learned, or more expert, or else by general councils, if it so chance that they in any point have erred and gone astray from the sincere truth.”
From these sayings of St. Augustine and others, etc., the university of Prague hath concluded and determined, that they will not receive the condemnation of the five and forty articles, made by the doctors in their council-house, as just and true, except they who condemned them will prove their condemnation by the holy Scriptures or probable reasons upon every of the five and forty articles.
Wherefore, for the due examination of the aforesaid condemnation, whether it be effectual or no, we will at this present take in hand the article numbered fourteenth of the five and forty; which article is this: “They who leave off preaching or hearing the word of God for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicate, and in the day of judgment shall be counted the betrayers of Christ.”
As concerning the first point, it is pre-supposed, that the preaching of the word of God is commanded unto the apostles and their followers, as it appeareth in Matthew 10, where it is said, “Jesus sent his twelve disciples, commanding them, and saying, Go and preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Also in the last of Matthew, and the tenth of Luke. Whereupon Peter, the apostle of Christ, acknowledging this precept and commandment for himself, and for the other apostles and successors, in Acts 10, saith thus: “He commandeth us to preach and testify, that it is he which is ordained of God the judge both of the quick and the dead.’ This commandment, also, the other apostles did acknowledge, and especially the chosen vessel, pronouncing under a great threatening, [1 Corinthians 9] “Wo be unto me if I do not preach the gospel.” And pope Nicholas, considering that great threatening in the forty-third Distinction, saith: “The dispensation of the heavenly seed is enjoined unto us; wo be unto us if we do not sow it abroad, or if we hold our peace. Which thing when the vessel of election did fear and cry out upon, how much more ought all inferiors to fear!” To the same purpose doth St. Gregory write in his ‘Pastoral,’ as cited in the same Distinction, cap. “Sit rector.” 95 It is also evident by many other doctors and holy men, as by St. Augustine, Jerome, Isidore, Bernard, whose words it were too long here to rehearse.
As touching the second point, That the hearing of the word and law of God is commanded unto the people, it is evident both by the old and new law; for it is said in Proverbs [chap. 28], “He that turneth away his ear, and will not hear the law of God, his prayer shall be cursed.”
Thirdly, It is to be noted that excommunication is a separation from communion, Causa 11 quest. 3. cap., “Nihil,” et cap.”
Canonica;” and Causa 27 quest. 1. cap., “Viduas;” Causa34, quest. 3. cap. “Cum Sacerdos.” And this excommunication is double, that is to say, either secret or manifest. The secret excommunication is, whereby a man is separated from the mystical body of Christ, and so from God, through mortal sin, according unto the 59th of Isaiah, “Your iniquities have made separation between your God and you.” And with this excommunication doth the apostle excommunicate every man who doth not love the Lord Jesus Christ; saying in the first epistle to the Corinthians, and the last chapter, “If any man do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” The manifest excommunication may be divided into a manifest excommunication by God, which is spoken of in Matthew 25, “Go, ye cursed,” etc., and oftentimes elsewhere in the law of God: also a manifest excommunication by men, whereby a prelate or community doth either justly or unjustly cast out any man from participation with the community, or from the church: whereof let this suffice for the present.
Then, as touching the first part of the article, it is thus argued, etc.
Whosoever leave the commandment of God undone, they are excommunicate of God. But the priests who leave off the preaching of the word of God for fear of the unjust excommunication of men, do leave the commandment of God undone. Therefore, those priests who do leave off preaching of the word of God, are excommunicated of God. Ergo, the first part of the article is true.
The major appeareth by that in the Psalm, “Cursed be they which do decline from thy precepts.” The minor is evident by the first supposition, which proveth that the preaching of the word of God is a commandment of God enjoined unto those priests. Whereupon the saying of our Savior [Matthew 15] is spoken unto:” Wherefore do you transgress the commandment of God for your own tradition?” i.e. in not preaching of the word of God for fear of unjust excommunication; and so dishonoring your father, Christ, and your mother, holy church. It is thus confirmed: All they who for fear of any excommunication of men do omit any manner of work, principally and straitly enjoined them by the Lord Jesu Christ, under the cloak of grace, are excommunicate. But priests, and especially curates, and such as be admonished by the Spirit of God, omitting the preaching of the word of God for fear of the excommunication of men, do omit for fear of the same excommunication a work principally and straitly enjoined them by the Lord Jesus Christ, under the cloak of grace: ergo, priests, and especially curates, and such as be admonished by the Spirit of God, omitting the preaching of the word of God for fear of excommunication, are excommunicate. The consequence is well known. The major appeareth by the Psalm, “Cursed be they which do decline from thy commandments.” The minor is also evident again by the first supposition. Item, If the apostles of Christ had left off the preaching of the word of God for fear of the excommunication of men, which the Lord did foreshow unto them in John 16, saying, “They shall excommunicate you out of their synagogues,” they had been excommunicated of God: ergo, by like evidence, the priests and ministers of Christ, being inspired with the same Spirit to preach and declare the word of God, if they leave it undone for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. The consequence dependeth upon a similitude, and the antecedent is evident; for if the apostles had left off preaching for fear of excommunication, they had declined from the commandments of God, and consequently had been accursed. Wherefore they, willing to observe the commandment of God and to put off the excommunication of men, said unto the high priests, elders, and scribes at Jerusalem, to Annas, Caiphas, John, and Alexander, and all others of the kindred of the priests who were gathered together, and who commanded them that they should not preach or teach in the name of Jesus, “If it be just in the sight of God, that we should rather obey you than God, that judge you.” [Acts 4] And in the fifth of the Acts they said unto them, “We ought rather to obey God than man.” From this saying of the Holy Ghost it may be inferred, that the priests and ministers of Christ, inspired by the Holy Ghost to preach the word of God, ought rather to obey the Holy Ghost than those that, contrary to the Holy Ghost, prohibit them to preach, and patiently to suffer the excommunication of men. Whereupon pope Anacletus spake well, as it is written in Dist. 43: “We know, saith he, that many do go about to molest the teachers to this end, that they may destroy them, and fulfill their own will and desires: yet, notwithstanding, the said teachers, as much as in them lieth, ought not on that account to go back from their good doings and intent, knowing assuredly that blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake.” Thus much saith he. And, upon these words, “Ye shall find an ass tied up, and a foal with her; loose them, and bring them unto me; ‘and if any man say any thing unto you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them,” the venerable Bede saith thus: “Here it is mystically commanded unto teachers, that if any adversity do let or hinder, or any man do prohibit or stop, that sinners be loosed from their bonds, and be brought unto the Lord by the confession of their faith, that they, notwithstanding, should not leave off preaching, but constantly affirm and say, that the Lord hath need of such to edify his church.” So did the apostles; the humble ministers of Christ therefore ought to do likewise. And St. Jerome, writing to Rusticus, the bishop of Narbonne, 92 saith thus: “Let no bishop from henceforth be puffed up or enraged with the envy of devilish temptation, if presbyters now and then do exhort the people, or preach in the churches; or (as is said) do bless the people; for unto him who should deny unto me the doing hereof, I would say in this manner: He that willeth not that presbyters should do those things which they are commanded by God, let him say that he is greater than Christ.” By which words St. Jerome doth openly declare, that presbyters are commanded to exhort the people, and to preach in the churches: Secondly, That a bishop, denying or forbidding them to do so, specially they being apt men thereunto, is extolled above Christ; and, consequently, is not to be obeyed in such doings. Item, Suppose that the pope be a heretic, and teach doctrine contrary to the holy Scripture, and that the bishop be a catholic man, unto whom the pope giveth in commandment that he shall suffer no man to preach contrary to his opinion, as it happened in the case of pope Leo, and holy bishop Hilary: adding this also, that the bishop do execute the pope’s commandment, under pain of the greater excommunication:—In such case, however, if the catholic priests, learned in the law of God, do leave off preaching against the pope’s heresies for fear of excommunication of men, they are already excommunicate. The which thing is evident, forsomuch as they are accursed for the consent of their silence, as St. Isidore saith, cited in Causa 11, quest. 3.: “He that doth consent unto sinners, or defendeth a sinner, he shall be cursed both before God and man, and shall be punished with a most severe rebuke.” And in Distinction 136, cap. 6. “Facientis,” it is said: “He that doth neglect to amend that which he may correct, doubtless committeth no less fault than he who actually offendeth; for not only they who do commit offenses, but also they who consent thereunto, are judged partakers thereof.” In like case, priests who do not preach against the heresy which the pope teacheth, are dumb dogs, not able to bark against, the wolf, which will kill the sheep of Jesus Christ: how then can it be otherwise, but they must needs be betrayers of their shepherd’s sheep. Item, Suppose that the bishop with the chief prelates be an advouterer, or otherwise an open offender, and that he, together with his prelates, do command that none, under pain of excommunication, do preach against adultery. In such a case, they who do forbear preaching against adultery for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicated of God: ergo, the first part of the article is true. The antecedent may be proved: for our Savior, in Mark 8, saith thus: “He that shall confess me and my words in this wicked and adulterous generation, the Son of Man shall also confess him when he shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels.” Therefore he that shall confess Christ not to have been an adulterer, and these words of Christ [Matthew 5], “You have heard that it was said to them in old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that every one which shall behold a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart:” he, I say, that shall confess these things before an adulterous bishop, with his chief prelates, who percase are the wicked and adulterous generation, the Son of Man shall also confess him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and so consequently is he blessed.
Therefore, contrariwise, he who for the fear of excommunication of men will not confess Christ and his words before this sinful and adulterous generation, is accursed. The consequence holdeth by the words of Christ [Luke 9], “He that is ashamed of me and my words, him shall the Son of Man be ashamed of, when he shall come in his majesty, and in the glory of his Father and of his holy angels;” Pronouncing that which is spoken [Matthew 25], “Verily I say unto you, I know you not; go you cursed into everlasting fire.”
Also, our Savior Jesus Christ did not leave off the preaching of the kingdom of God for any pretended excommunication of the High Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees; therefore, neither ought his true and humble priests to leave off their preaching for any pretended excommunication of men; the consequence holdeth by that saying of Christ, [John 15] “Be ye mindful of the word which I spake unto you, the servant is not greater than his master: if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” The antecedent is also apparent by the saying of St. John, chap. 9: “Even now the Jews had conspired, that if any man did confess Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.” And likewise by John 7: “Whether hath any of the princes or of the Pharisees believed in him? but this people which knoweth not the law are accursed.”
Also, the humble and just priests of Christ ought not, under pain of sin, to cease from the fruitful preaching of the law of God for any unjust excommunication or unlawful commandment; which may be proved thus: The humble and just priests of Christ ought only to obey their prelates in such things as are not contrary to God; as all the holy doctors, such as are learned in the law of God, with one accord affirm. But, forsomuch as an unjust excommunication and unlawful commandment are contrary to God, therefore the humble and just priests ought not to obey such unlawful excommunication and commandments; and, consequently, ought not to cease for them from the fruitful preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ; nay, they ought constantly and gladly to preach the same, forsomuch as the Lord doth comfort them in Matthew 5, saying thus: “Blessed are ye when men curse you and persecute you, and speak all kind of evil against you, falsely, for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
Also, every priest having power given him by divine impulse to preach, hath the same given unto him for the edifying of the church, and not for the destruction of the same; as the apostle saith in 2 Corinthians 10. But every one ceasing from preaching for fear, of any pretended excommunication of men, should frustrate that power as to the edifying of the church. And therefore, in so doing, he should sin against God and his church; and consequently ought rather to choose not to cease from preaching for fear of any such excommunication, lest that he be excommunicated of the Lord Jesus Christ. Item, Suppose that the pope doth command that there shall be no preaching in any place; then the priests of Christ, leaving off their preaching for fear of the pope’s excommunication, are already excommunicated of God. This is evident, forsomuch as they would be neglecting the commandment of God for the commandment of man. And this case is possible; for by what reason the pope may command, under pain of excommunication, that there shall be no preaching in some place, and namely in the parish churches; by the same reason he may command that no man should preach in any place. The first: part is evident by the prohibition of pope Alexander, who in his bull did prohibit to preach the word of God unto the people in chapels, although the said chapels were confirmed by the privilege of the apostolic see; the which bull the lord Sbinco, archbishop of Prague, with his canons, obtained. From what hath now been said, the first part of the article is evident, viz. that priests omitting preaching for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate.
The second part of the article is this: that they who do omit the hearing of the word of God for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. And it is proved thus: All such as omit the commandments of God are excommunicate: But they who emit the hearing of the word of God for the excommunication of men, are omitting a commandment of God: Therefore they who: omit the hearing of the word of God for the excommunication of men, are excommunicate. The major is apparent by Psalm 118., “Cursed be they which decline from thy commandments;” and the minor is evident by the second supposition, which saith, that the hearing of the word of God is commanded unto the people. It is confirmed thus. All such as omit the means necessary unto salvation are excommunicate: But, such as omit the hearing of the word of God for the excommunication of men, are omitting the means necessary unto salvation: Therefore, in so doing, they are excommunicate. The consequence is plain. The major is evident by this, that all such as do omit the means necessary unto salvation, do also neglect their salvation, and so are out of the way of salvation, and so be excommunicate of God. The minor appeareth hereby, that to hear the word of God is a means necessary unto salvation, as the apostle doth prove in Romans 10; “How,” saith he, “shall they believe on him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” And afterwards the apostle inferreth to our purpose, “Therefore faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Item, Whatsoever is done contrary to conscience, doth tend to eternal damnation; as it is said in the Decretals (lib. 2 tit. 13. “de restitutione spoil torum,” cap. 13. “Literas”): But to omit the hearing of the word of God for fear of excommunication of men, is a thing which is done against conscience: Therefore, to omit the hearing of the word of God for excommunication of men, doth tend to eternal damnation, and consequently ought not to be done, for fear of any excommunication. Wherefore a woman being adjudged to a man, whom she knoweth to be within the degrees of consanguinity which God’s law hath prohibited, ought not to obey that judgment, lest she offend against God; but rather meekly to suffer excommunication, as appeareth in the chapter before alleged.
So likewise, all true Christians, rather than offend against God, ought meekly to suffer the excommunication of men, and not to omit the hearing of the word of God. To this purpose serveth that which is spoken in Causa 11 quest. 3 cap. 95, “He that feareth the omnipotent God, will not presume by any means to do any thing contrary unto the gospel, nor the apostles, neither contrary to the prophets, nor the institutions of the holy fathers.” From these premises the second part of this article is manifest, viz. that such as do omit the hearing of the word of God for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicate.
And forsomuch as all adult Christians finally impenitent shall be counted in a manner as traitors to Christ in the day of judgment, because they were unfaithful servants of Christ,—therefore, they who through fear omit the preaching and hearing of the word of God for the excommunication of men, shall be counted as traitors to Christ, and shall render account thereof unto the Lord.
Whereupon Chrysostome touching both those sorts, in his 41st homily, showing how the Lord would have some to be teachers, and others to be disciples, saith thus: “For unto those whom he would have to be teachers, he speaketh thus by his prophet Isaiah: ‘Ye priests speak to the hearts of the people. For if the priests do not manifest all the truth unto the people, they shall render account thereof at the day of judgment: and likewise, if the people do not learn the truth, they shall also give account thereof at the day of judgment.’” It is also more expressly declared by him where, writing on Matthew 10, he saith (cited also in Causa quest. 3. cap. “Nolite timere”), “Do not fear those which kill the body, lest through the fear of death you do not freely speak that which you have heard, neither boldly preach that unto all men which you alone have heard in the ear. So that from these words it is evident that, not only he is a betrayer of the truth, who, transgressing the truth, doth openly speak lies instead of the truth; but he also who doth not freely pronounce, or doth not freely defend, the truth, which he ought freely to pronounce or defend, is also a traitor unto the truth. For like as the priest is a debtor freely to preach the truth which he hath heard of the Lord, even so the layman is a debtor boldly to defend the truth which he hath heard proved of the minister by the Scriptures: which if he do not, then is he a traitor to the truth; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Thus much writeth Chrysostome, who, together with the people under his jurisdiction, meekly hearing the excommunication of the bishops, freely preached the truth, and the people heard him; and so in word and deed he freely taught the truth, lest he should be a traitor to the truth, and consequently be counted as a traitor to the Lord Jesus Christ in the day of judgment. And thus the third part of the article aforesaid is manifest.
THE DEFENCE OF THE FIFTEENTH ARTICLE OF JOHN WICKLIFF BY JOHN HUSS. “It is lawful for any deacon or presbyter to preach the word of God without the authority of the apostolic see, or of a catholic bishop.”
First, by ‘the authority of the apostolic see’ is meant properly His special consent authorizing. And, likewise, by ‘authority of a bishop’ is meant a special consent of the bishop authorizing the said deacon or presbyter to preach.
Now as touching the truth of this article, I thus argue: like as after matrimony once consummated, the man and wife may lawfully, without any special license of pope or bishop, procreate carnal children, so likewise deacons or presbyters, by the motion of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, may lawfully, without any special license either of pope or bishop, generate spiritual children.
Ergo, the article is true; and the antecedent is thus proved. For as it is an acceptable work unto God for man and wife, without the special license of pope or bishop, lawfully to generate carnal children; so it is acceptable unto him, that deacons or presbyters, by the motion of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, should generate spiritual children, without the special license of pope or bishop: ergo, the assumption is true.
But if any man will deny this similitude, let him show the diversity. Yea, as it is worse not to receive or to choke the seed of God’s word, than carnal seed, so contrariwise, it is better to sow abroad and receive that seed of the word of God whereby children of God may be raised up, than to receive or give seed whereby carnal children may be raised up. Hence the Savior in Matthew saith: “Whosoever shall not receive you, neither hear your words, shake off the dust from your feet: verily I say unto you, that it shall he more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
Also a deacon or presbyter, being stirred by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, may preach the word of God without the special license of pope or bishop. Ergo, it is lawful for him so to do. The consequence is manifest; because the Spirit of Jesus Christ, moving the deacon or presbyter unto the preaching of the gospel, is of greater virtue than any prohibition of pope or bishop invented by man: ergo, they ought rather to obey the Spirit of Christ which doth infallibly move them thereunto, according to the apostolic rule [Acts 5], “We ought rather to obey God than man.” Also, by like reason as Eldad and Medad, upon whom the Spirit of God did rest, did lawfully prophesy without requiring any license at Moses’ hands, as it is written Numbers 11; for the same reason may an humble priest of Christ, upon whom the Spirit of the Lord doth rest, without requiring leave of pope or bishop, lawfully preach the word of God unto the people. And would to God in this behalf all prelates had the spirit of Moses; for it is said, Numbers 11, that when Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the camp, a child ran and told Moses, saying, “Eldad and Medad do prophesy in camp” and by and by Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, whom he had chosen out amongst many said, “My Master Moses forbid them:” but he said, “Why enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the people could prophesy and that the Lord would give them his Spirit!” O would God the pope and the bishops now had the affection of that holy man the friend of God! for then would they not prohibit the humble deacons and priests of Christ to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The like affection had the blessed Gregory, who, in his twenty-second book of Morals, writing upon these words of Job [31:39], “And I have not afflicted the soul of his husbandmen,” saith thus: “The husbandmen of this earth are those who, being set in a lower place, with as fervent desire and with as great labor as they can, do co-operate by the preaching of grace to the erudition of holy church; which husbandmen of this world not to afflict, is, not to envy their labors: neither ought the ruler of the church, albeit he do challenge unto himself alone the right of preaching, through envy to gainsay others who do preach aright. For the pious mind of a pastor, who seeketh not his own glory from men, desireth to be holpen, that the truth (which thing also the faithful preacher doth wish, if it might by any means be brought to pass) which he alone cannot sufficiently express, all men’s mouths might declare. Wherefore, when Joshua would have resisted the two who were remaining in the camp and prophesying, ‘Why dost thou envy,’ said he, ‘for my sake?’ for he did not envy that good in others which he himself had.” Thus writeth St. Gregory.
Also humble priests of Christ have, by a special gift of God, knowledge and mind to preach the gospel; but it is lawful neither for pope nor bishop, nor any other man, to hinder them, lest thereby they should impeach that word of God, that “the ‘word of Christ should have free course.” Ergo, this article is true: for the king doth not so much rule over the temporalties of his subjects, no not of his own sons, but that they may give alms to whom they will: much more then a bishop hath not so great authority over the knowledge of an humble presbyter, and his other gifts of God, but that he may freely, under the title of spiritual alms, preach the gospel without charge unto the people. Ergo, forasmuch as it would seem strange, that a bishop should forbid any man to give corporal alms to the poor that are an-hungered; so and much more strange would it be, if he should prohibit an humble and learned priest of Christ to give spiritual alms, by the preaching of the word of God. Item, no catholic man ought to doubt, but that a man able for the purpose is more bound to teach the ignorant, to counsel the perplexed, to correct the unruly, to forgive those that do them wrong, than to do any other works of mercy: Forsomuch then as he that hath sufficient to minister corporal alms is hound thereto, under pain of damnation, as appeareth in Matthew 25, much more he who is able, is bound to minister spiritual alms. And this alms St. Bernard, in the third book of his treatise addressed to Eugenius, perceived to be necessary for the bishop of Rome, where he said: “I fear no poison, no sword, for thee, more than the lust of dominion.” 97 With what face, then, could the faithful priest withhold spiritual alms either for the pope or any other, even without the special license of pope or from bishop; which license, through the long distance, priests cannot so easily obtain or come by? For if a prohibition of any prelate be broken through necessity, it is not to be blamed, according to Causa 11, quest. 3. cap. 104., “Antecessor,” and also in the chapter following. Item, The authority to preach given unto deacons and presbyters in their consecration were but vain, unless in case of necessity they might preach the gospel without special authority. It is evident, because (according to our opponents) it is not lawful for them to use that authority, without special license: ergo, it was given them in vain. The consequence is evident by the common saying of the philosopher, that “power is but vain, whereof proceedeth no use of action.” But forsomuch as this article is, as it were, a corollary of the preceding article, therefore let this suffice to be spoken thereof.
But, against the affirmations of both these articles, objection is raised out of Causa 16, quest. 1, cap. 41: “All faithful people, and especially all presbyters, deacons, and all others of the clergy, ought to take heed that they do nothing without the license of their bishop.” It is also objected out of the fifth book of Decretals, title “De haereticis,” cap. 11. “Cum ex injuncto,” where it is said, no man ought to usurp to himself indifferently the office of preaching, forsomuch as the apostle saith, “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” Whereas, also, Innocent doth show, that it is not sufficient for a man to say, that he is sent of God to preach, except he do show the same. To the first passage cited the Gloss doth sufficiently answer upon this word, “without license;” “that is to be expounded,” saith he, “without general license; which is obtained and given, when a bishop doth appoint any priest to govern the people; for thereby,” saith he, “the bishop seemeth to give him general power to minister unto the people, and to officiate in the church.” Thus much the Gloss. And to the same end and purpose it is said in Causa 7 quest. 1. cap. 38, “Episcopi:” “Bishops or priests, if they come to the church of another bishop to visit the same, let them be received in their degree (as it is said in Gloss 1. ‘in honore suo,’) and desired as well to preach the word, as to consecrate the oblation.”
On the second passage that is to be noted, which is therein well said, “No man ought to usurp unto himself the office of preaching indifferently.” For to usurp, is unlawfully to use any thing: ergo, that deacon or priest doth then usurp the office of preaching indifferently, who, living viciously, contrary unto the law of Christ, or being ignorant of the law of God, doth preach either for temporal gain, or for ostentation, or for dainty life, or for vain glory: But he who doth live conformably unto the law of Christ, and being moved with the affection of sincere charity, intendeth purely the honor of God and the salvation of himself and his neighbors, and doth preach no lies, nor vain jests, or things not authorized [apocrypha], but only the law of Christ and the minds of the holy doctors;—he that doth so preach, necessity occasioning him thereunto, in case both pope and bishop fail, or peradventure to withstand the preaching of heretics or false preachers, in so doing doth not usurp the office of preaching; and in such case there is no doubt but he is sent of God.
And this doth also answer unto that which followeth in the Decretal, “But if any man should peradventure craftily answer, that such preachers are invisibly sent of God, although not visibly of men, when the invisible sending of God is much better than the visible sending of men; it may reasonably be answered thereunto, that forsomuch as that internal sending is secret, it is not sufficient for a man barely to assert that he is sent of God, forsomuch as any heretic may so say; but he ought to prove the same, his invisible calling, by the working of some miracle, or by some special testimony of the Scripture.”
Here it is to be noted, that according to St. Augustine, in his book of 65 Questions to Orosius, there are four kinds of sending. The first is from God only, whereof we read in Moses and others, who were inspired by God. And this kind of sending looseth from the obligation of any statute law; so that he whom the Spirit of God doth inspire, his prelate giving leave, may proceed unto a better life. Whereupon pope Urban saith, Causa 19 quest. 2. cap. 2, “There be two laws, the one public, the other private. The public law is that which is confirmed in writing by the holy fathers, such as the canon law, which is only given because of transgressions.
For example, it is decreed in the canons, that none of the clergy shall go from one bishopric to another, without the letters commendatory of his bishop; the which was ordained only for offenders, that no infamed persons should be received of any bishop; for they were wont, when they could not celebrate their offices in their own bishopric, to go to another; which is rightly forbidden by laws and precepts. The private law is that, which by the motion of the Holy Ghost is written in the heart, as the apostle speaketh of some who have the law of God ‘written in their hearts;’ and in another place, ‘Forsomuch as the Gentiles have not the law of God, but naturally do those things which are of the law, they are laws unto themselves.’” And afterward he saith, “The private law is much more worthy than the public law. For the Spirit of God is a law; and they who are moved by the Spirit of God are led by the law of God. And who is he, that can worthily resist against the Holy Ghost? Whosoever therefore is led by the Spirit of God, albeit his bishop do say him nay, let him go freely by our authority; for ‘the law is not appointed for the just man,’ but ‘where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty: and if ye be led by the Spirit of God, ye are not under the law.’” Behold, here it is affirmed, that the sending by God alone through inspiration is not fettered by the obligation of statute law; for that law is more worthy than the public law. Secondly, that the statute law is made for transgressors and offenders, and not for the just.
Thirdly, that whosoever is led by the Spirit of God, although his bishop say him nay, may proceed unto a better life. Whence it is evident, that a deacon or priest disposed to preach, and being led by the Spirit of God, can freely preach the gospel of Christ without the special license of his bishop. It is evident; forsomuch as it is good, that a deacon or priest do live well; still better that he live well, and preach fruitfully: ergo, he may proceed from idleness unto the labor of preaching, and so to a better life.
But whereas it is said before, that “forsomuch as the inward sending is secret, therefore it is not sufficient for a man barely to affirm only that he is sent of God, forsomuch as any heretic may so say; but it is necessary, that he prove that invisible sending by the working of some miracle, or by some special testimony of the Scripture:”—here is to be noted, that there are two kinds of preachers; those of the Savior Christ, and those of the seducer Antichrist. The first sort, following their Master, Christ, teach the people in truth. The other sort, being of a corrupt mind, and reprobate touching the faith, resist against the truth; and through covetousness by their feigned words do make merchandize of the people. And these men do give, and shall give, miracles; as our Savior saith [Matthew 24], “There shall arise false Christs and false prophets which shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that even the elect, if it were possible, should be brought into error.” And the apostle [2 Thessalonians 2] as touching their head, Antichrist, writeth thus:—“Whose coming shall be according to the operation of Satan, with all power and signs, and lying wonders, with every seduction of inquity in those which do perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved: therefore will the Lord send upon them the operation of error, that they shall give credit to a lie; that all such as have not believed the truth, but consented unto iniquity, should be judged.”
Behold how expressly the Savior by himself and by his apostle doth teach us, that the disciples of Antichrist, with their head, shall be conspicuous for their great signs and wonders. But the true disciples of Christ shall not so do in the times of Antichrist: for, as St. Isidore saith in the first book, cap. 25, of his “De summo bono:” “Before Antichrist appear, all virtues and signs shall cease from the church, that he may the more boldly persecute the same, as being more abject. For this profit, shall all miracles and signs cease under Antichrist, that thereby the patience of the saints may be opened, and the lightness of the reprobate who are offended may be showed, and also that the boldness of the persecutors should be made more fierce.”
Thus writeth St. Isidore; and St. Gregory, in his thirty-fourth book of Morals, cap. 3, saith, 98 “For by a terrible ordering of God’s secret dispensation shall all signs of virtue or power be withdrawn from the holy church, before that that Leviathan appear in that damnable man, whose shape he doth assume. For prophecy is hidden, the gift of healing is taken away, the virtue of long abstinence is diminished, the words of doctrine are put to silence, and the prodigies of miracles are extinguished. Which things the dispensation of God doth not indeed utterly withdraw, but doth not display them so openly and manifoldly, as in times past. The which, however, is done by a marvellous dispensation, in order that by one single thing both God’s love and justice should be fulfilled: for while, the power of miracles being withdrawn, the holy church appeareth the more abject, both the reward of good men doth remain in abeyance, who reverence the same for their hope of heavenly riches and not for any present signs; and the minds of evil men against the same are the sooner known, who neglect to follow the invisible things which the church doth promise, while they are occupied with visible signs. While therefore the humility of all the faithful is, as it were, deprived of the multitude and appearing of signs by the terrible working of God’s secret dispensation, mercy is thence given unto the good, from whence just wrath is heaped upon the evil. Forsomuch, then, as before that Leviathan shall plainly and manifestly come the signs of power shall in a great degree cease in holy church, therefore it is rightly said, ‘poverty shall go before his face;’ for before that time the riches of miracles shall be taken away from the faithful: then shall that ancient enemy show himself against them by open wonders; that, as he is extolled through signs and wonders, so he may be the more stoutly and nobly vanquished of the faithful without signs and wonders.”
Also in his fifteenth book, cap. 58, upon these words, Job 21:31. “Who shall reprove his way before him, or who shall cast in his teeth what he hath done? —the same Gregory saith: “The blessed Job, while speaking of the body of all evil, suddenly converteth his speech unto the head of all the wicked; for he did see that in the end of the world, Satan should enter into a man, whom holy Scripture calleth Antichrist; and should be extolled with such pride, rule with such power, he exalted with such signs and wonders under a show of holiness, that his doings cannot be reproved of man, forsomuch as signs and wonders are joined in him with power and terror, and with a show of holiness. Wherefore he saith, ‘Who shall reprove his ways before him?’ i.e. what man is he that dare once reprove him? whose countenance is he afraid to bear? But, notwithstanding, not only Enoch and Elias, who are brought forward for his reprobation, but also all the elect, do reprove his way, while they do contemn him, and by the power of their minds resist his malice. But forsomuch as they do this by God’s grace and not by their own strength, therefore it is well said: ‘Who shall reprove his ways before him?’ who, but only God? by whose help the elect are supported, that they be able to resist.” And a little after Gregory saith, “Therefore, in that holy men do withstand his iniquity, it is not they themselves who do reprove his way, but it is He by whose grace they are strengthened.”
Also in the twentieth book, cap. 7, he saith, “Now holy church doth despise the miracles of heretics, even if they do any; forsomuch as the church doth sufficiently understand, that they imply no sort of holiness: for the proof of holiness, is not the working signs and wonders, but to love every, man as thyself, to think truly of the true God, and to think better of thy neighbor than of thyself: for true virtue consisteth in love, and not in showing of miracles. This the Verity declareth, saying, ‘Hereby shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another’ Whereas he saith, ‘hereby men shall know that ye are my disciples’—not, ‘if ye work miracles,’ but—‘if ye have love one to another;’ he plainly declareth thereby, that it is not miracles, but the love of God only which maketh us the servants of God.
Wherefore the highest testimony of discipleship is the gift of brotherly love. This throughout doth St. Gregory write, and very often in other places he speaketh of miracles, how they shall cease amongst the just, and abound amongst the wicked.
Also Chrysostome, in his fifty-fifth homily, saith thus: 99 “To cast out devils is a work common to the ministers of God and the ministers of the devil; but to confess the truth, and to work righteousness, is the peculiar work of saints only. Therefore, whomsoever thou dost see casting out devils, if he have not the confession of the truth in his mouth, neither righteousness in his hands, he is not a man of God: but if thou dost see a man confessing the truth, and working righteousness, although he do not cast out devils, yet is he a man of God.” And it followeth, “Let us know, that like as at the coming of Christ, before him the prophets, and with him the apostles, wrought miracles through the Holy Ghost; for such as the thing is, which is stirred, such scent and savor will proceed from the same.” He writeth also upon the beginning of Matthew, “The whole world did marvel and wonder at three things,—that Christ rose again after his death; that flesh ascended into heaven; and that he did convert the whole world by his eleven apostles. Hereof there were four causes; that is to say, contempt of money; despising of glory; separation from worldly occupations; and patient suffering of torments.” Thus much writeth Chrysostome.
Also St. Isidore, in the first book and twenty-fifth chapter of his “De summo bono,” writeth thus: “Like as in the apostles, the marvellous virtue of works was more commendable than the virtue of signs; even so now in the church, it is much: better to live well, than to work signs. And the cause why the church of God doth not at this present work miracles, as it did in the time of the apostles, is this, that then it was expected that the world should believe miracles: but now it is expected that every faithful believer shine with good works; for to this end were signs then outwardly wrought, that faith might be inwardly strengthened: for whosoever professing to be in the faith yet seeketh to work miracles, he seeketh vain-glory to be praised of men; for it is written, ‘Miracles are a sign to unbelievers, and not to the faithful.’” Thus much writeth Isidore. Item, St. Augustine, in his book of Confessions, saith thus:, “There is no greater miracle in human affairs, than for a man to love his enemies.”
From these sayings of holy men it may be gathered, that, both in our own times, and in the times to come, the disciples of Antichrist both do and shall shine by miracles more than the disciples of Christ, according to the saying of Christ: “There shall arise false prophets, and shall work great signs.” Secondly, it is proved that they are great, yea greater, miracles, to confess the truth and to work righteousness, than to work any other kind. of miracle.
Thirdly, it is gathered thereby, that whatsoever priest or deacon loveth his enemies, contemneth riches, despiseth the glory of the world, avoideth occupation in secular things, and meekly sustaineth terrible threatenings, yea and strokes, for the gospel’s sake, he worketh miracles, having thereby a testimony that he is the true disciple of Jesus Christ. The same is evident by the saying of our Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 5, “Let your good works so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
And likewise by John 10:38, “Believe the works.” 100 And to the same purpose St. Gregory in his first book of Dialogues saith thus: “The estimation of a true life consisteth in the virtue of works, and not in a display of signs.” And fourthly it is concluded from what hath been said, that to confess the truth, and follow Christ in the aforesaid virtues, is a more effectual testimony to a deacon or presbyter that he is sent of God, than to cast out devils, or to work any other miracle; as is evident by the saying of Chrysostome before alleged: 101 “Whomsoever thou dost see casting out devils, if the confession of the truth ‘be not in his mouth, neither righteousness in his hands, he is not a man of God.” This is also confirmed by the words of Christ in Matthew 7, “Many shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils; and did we not work many miracles in thy name? Then I will confess unto them; Forsomuch as I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Hereby it appeareth, 103 that every deacon or priest, confessing the truth and working righteousness, hath an effectual testimony that he is sent of God, and that it is not necessary for him to prove his mission by the working of any miracle, beyond the working righteousness; neither by any Scripture, which should expressly declare him by name, that he was sent of the Lord to preach the Gospel.
The second part is also evident; forsomuch as none of the present preachers can show by the Scripture of the law of God, that he is specially named thereunto. And likewise I say, as touching all preachers who shall come hereafter, who are not named by name.
It appeareth also, that like as it is not a cause sufficient to prove any particular priest or deacon sent of God to preach, that he worketh miracles; so is it not a cause sufficient to prove him not sent of God to preach, that he worketh no miracles; but to confess the truth, to work righteousness, to contemn the world with the glory thereof, meekly to suffer rebukes, is a sufficient testimony for any priest or deacon, having knowledge of the law of God, freely to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, forsomuch as, in such case, he is sent of God. And this is the sending which the apostle speaketh of in Romans 10, “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” Whereupon the Gloss of St. Augustine saith thus; “These things serve to set forth God’s grace, that thereby all our goodness may be shewn to be by grace Prevenient. 104 For it saith, ‘belief cometh of hearing, hearing cometh of preaching, and preaching by the sending of God;’ so that the whole cometh down out of the fountain of grace, and preaching truly cometh of sending.” This hath the Gloss. How shall they then preach, except they be sent of God?
The fourth sending, which hath but the name only, is proper to them, who of themselves unworthily usurp the office of preaching, as those false prophets of whom God speaketh in Jeremy 23, “I did not send them, and yet they ran; I spake not unto them, and yet they prophesied: if they had continued in my counsels, and had made known my words unto my people, I would have converted them from their evil way and from their wicked imaginations.” And the Savior spake of these prophets in Matthew 24, saying, “There shall arise false prophets.” And Peter, his immediate vicar, in his second epistle and second chapter, prophesying unto the faithful believers in Christ, speaketh thus of them: “There were amongst the people false prophets, as there shall be amongst you also masters of lies, through whom the truth shall be slandered:” and that he might the better instruct the people to know them, he addeth, “They shall go about with reigned words, for covetousness’ sake, to make merchandize of you!”
Wherefore every faithful man, diligently weighing these things in his mind, may now easily perceive how great a number of false prophets there be, through whom the way of Christ’s truth is blasphemed, and all covetous dealing is exercised, and they freely preach lies. But the humble and true priests of Christ, wheresoever they do appear, by-and-by are persecuted; whereby the prophecy of the apostle is verified, which is written in the second epistle to Timothy, chap. 3; “All men,” saith he, “which desire to live godly, shall suffer persecution; but evil men and seducers shall grow worse and worse, erring and leading into error.”
But they now are gone so far in error, that they do preach lies, making heretics of faithful Christians; neither is there any man that will stop their lying, so long as they do not preach against the vices of the prelates. How then can it be said, that Antichrist is not now exalted above all that is called God, suppressing the members of Christ in their office, but indulging and fortifying his own members in lying? Therefore the true and hearty disciples of Christ ought to stand with their loins girt, and their feet shod in the preparation of the gospel, taking the sword, which is the word of God [Ephes. 6], and to fight against the crafts of Antichrist, who is endeavouring to extinguish the preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE105 SECOND DISPUTATION OF JOHN HUSS, IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PRAGUE.
Made in the second Act, the same Year, upon the Seventeenth Article of John Wickliff, most fruitful to be read; proving, by four and twenty reasons out of the Scriptures, that Princes and Lords Temporal have lawful Authority and Jurisdiction over the Spiritualty and Churchmen, both in taking from them, and in correcting their Abuses according to their doings and deserts.
To the honor of Almighty God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, both for the trying out of truth, and the profit of holy mother church, according to the congregation of our university of Prague, which, avoiding always to do that which shall be prejudicial to the truth, hath deferred to consent unto the condemnation of the forty-five articles, wishing, even unto this present time, a reason to be given of the condemnation of the aforesaid articles, and of each one of them in particular. Yea, and the said university doth always require a reason, forsomuch as pope Damasus, in Distinction 118, cap. 5, “Chorepiscopi,” saith thus; “That whatsoever thing wanteth a reason, must needs be rooted out.” Whence it appeareth, that the condemnation of the five-and-forty articles, if it wanteth reason for every article, is necessarily to be rooted out.
But, if any man will object and say, that to require a reason for every thing is to derogate from the divine power: unto this objection Master William doth answer in his philosophy, the first book, near the end, where he, treating of the place in Genesis 2, “God made man of the clay of the earth,” etc., hath these words; “For in what point,” saith he, “are we contrary to the holy Scriptures, if we seek to explain wherefore any thing is done, which is said in the Scriptures to be done? For if one wise man should say that a thing is done, and not declare how it is done, but another should speak the self-same thing, and explain how it is done, what contrariety is there herein? But, forsomuch as they themselves know not the force of nature, to the intent that they might have all men partakers with them of their own ignorance, they would have no man to inquire into them; but they would have us as rude rustics believe, and not seek any reason of our belief, that the prophecy may be fulfilled, “The priest shall be as the people.” But we say, that in all things a reason is to be sought, if any can be found: but then, if any man do stay at any thing which the divine page affirmeth, he should commit the same unto the Holy Ghost and unto faith. For Moses saith, “If the lamb cannot be eaten, let it not be by-and-by consumed in the fire; but let him first call his neighbor which dwelleth in the next house unto him; and if they also be not sufficient to eat the lamb, then let it be burned in the fire.” So likewise, when we go about to inquire any thing as touching the Godhead, and be not able to comprehend the same, let us call our neighbor who dwelleth in the next house unto us; that is to say, let us seek out such a one as abideth in the same catholic faith with us: but if then neither we, nor yet he, be able to comprehend the same, let it then be burned with the fire of faith.
But I exhort you to give no credit unto their habit, for already it is verified in them which the satirical poet saith, ‘Fronti nulla fides,’ i.e. ‘No credit is to be given unto the outward show;’ for which of them doth not abound with sad and detestable vices?” And in another place he saith: ‘They are very dainty of their speech, and have great desire to keep silence.’” And thus much hath Master William.
Let all such hear whom this parable may touch; for I, with the masters, bachelors, and students of our university, considering how hard a matter the condemnation of the forty-five articles, and how grievous a thing it were, without a reason why we ought to consent thereunto, do call together my neighbors, the doctors of our university, and all others who would object any thing against the same, that we might find out now the reason of the condemnation of this article, concerning the taking away the temporalties from the clergy.
Notwithstanding, I protest that it is not my intention, like as it is not the intention of the university, to persuade, that princes or secular lords should take away goods from the clergy when they will, or how they will, and convert them to what use they list. But it is our intention diligently to search out, whether this article, as touching the taking away of temporalties from the clergy, may have in it a true sense, in which it may be defended without reproof. Wherefore the article, numbered the seventeenth among the forty-five, is propounded under this form: “Lords temporal may at their own will and pleasure, take away temporal goods from ecclesiastics habitually delinquent.” It is thus proved: the kings of the Old Testament took away temporal goods at God’s commandment from ecclesiastics, that is, from the priests, offending. Therefore the kings also of the New Testament, at God’s commandment, may do the like, when the priests of the new law do offend. The consequence dependeth upon a similitude; and the antecedent is evident. First, it is proved by Solomon, 1 Kings 2:27; which Solomon deposed Abiathar the high priest, because he took part with Adonijah, the brother of Solomon, that he should be king, without the advice either of David, or of Solomon himself, who ought to reign; and set up Zadoc as priest in the place of Abiathar, because he did not consent with Abiathar unto Adonijah, as it is written, 1 Kings 1:5-8; where it is said, “Adonijah, the son of Haggith, exalted himself, saying, I will reign; and made unto himself chariots and horsemen, and forty men which should run before him; neither, did his father rebuke him at any time, saying, Wherefore hast thou done this? But moreover he was very comely, and was the next in age to Absalom; and his talk was with Joab the son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest, which took part with Adonijah. But Zadoc the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Setethei, and Phelethi, and the power of David’s host, were not on Adonijah’s part.”
This was the cause of the deposing of Abiathar from the priesthood, because he took part with Adonijah, that he should be king, against Solomon, the eldest son of king David: wherefore it is written, 1 Kings 2:26; “The king said unto Abiathar the priest, Go your ways unto Anathoth thine own field, for thou art a man of death; but this day I will not slay thee, because thou hast carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and didst labor in all things wherein my father labored. Therefore Solomon cast out Abiathar, that he should not be the priest of the Lord; that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.”
Behold, the most wise king Solomon, according to the wisdom which was given him of God, did exercise his power upon the aforesaid priest, deposing him from the priesthood, and setting in his place Zadoc as priest. But this was a greater matter than to take away the temporalties. If, then, in the law of Christ now current a bishop should likewise rebel against the heir of the kingdom, wishing to set up another for king, why should not the king or his heir have power to take away the temporalties from him so offending. Item, it is also evident in the instance of king Nebuchadnezzar, who had power from God to lead away the children of Israel, with their priests and Levites, into the captivity of Babylon, as it is written in 2 Kings 25. Item, We read in 2 Kings 12, how that Josiah, the most devout king of Judah, according to the wisdom which God had granted him, “took away all the consecrated vessels which Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah, his forefathers, kings of Judah, had consecrated, and those which he himself had offered, and all the silver that could be found in the treasury of the temple of the Lord and in the king’s palace, and sent it unto Hazael, king of Syria, and he departed from Jerusalem.” Mark how this holy king exercised his power, not only in taking away the temporalties of the priests, but even those things which had been consecrate in the temple of the Lord, to procure unto the commonwealth the benefit of peace. Item, In 2 Kings 18, we read, how that the holy king Hezekiah took all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the king’s treasury; and brake down the doors of the temple of the Lord, and all the plates of gold which he himself had fastened thereupon, and gave them unto the king of the Assyrians; yet was he not rebuked of the Lord for it, as he was rebuked for his other sins, as appeareth in 2 Chronicles 32. Forsomuch, then, as in time of necessity all things ought to be in common among Christians, it followeth that the secular lords, in case of necessity, and in many cases which may occur, may lawfully take away temporal goods from the clergy, when they do habitually offend. Item, It is confirmed, for that we read in Matthew 12, that the disciples of Jesus, to slake their hunger, pulled ears of corn and did eat them on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees upbraided and rebuked them for it; unto whom Christ answered, “Have ye not read what David did when he was hungry, and those that were with him; how he entered into the house of the Lord, and did eat the shewbread, which it was not lawful for him, neither for them that were with him, to eat, but only for the priests?” This story is written in I Sam. 21, and the commandment in Deuteronomy 12. 106 Whereby it appeareth, that it is lawful in time of necessity to use any thing, be it never so much consecrate. Otherwise, children by giving all their temporals to the consecration of the temple, should not be bound to help their parents; which is contrary and against the gospel of St. Matthew [chap. 16], where our Savior sharply rebuked the Pharisees, that for their own tradition they did transgress the commandment of God. Item, Titus and Vespasian, secular princes, had power given them by God, twenty-four years after the Lord’s ascension, to take away the temporalties from the priests who had offended against the Lord’s Holy One, and in fact also bereft them of their lives: and, as it seemeth unto many, they did, and might do, the same meritoriously and according to God’s good pleasure. Therefore, forsomuch as the priests of these days may offend as much or more against the Lord’s Christ, it followeth, that, by the good pleasure of God, secular lords may inflict on them like punishment for their offense. Item, our Savior, being King of kings and high pontiff, with his disciples did give tribute unto Caesar, as it appeareth in Matthew 17, and commanded the Scribes and Pharisees to give the like unto Caesar [Matthew 22]; whereby he gave example unto all priests that should come after him to render tribute unto kings.
Whereupon blessed Ambrose, in his fourth book on St. Luke, Section 73, upon those words in Luke 5:4; “Cast your nets,” speaketh thus; “There is also another apostolic kind of fishing, after which the Lord commanded Peter only to fish, saying, ‘Cast thy hook, and that fish which cometh first up, take him.’” And then to our purpose he saith; “It is truly a great and spiritual proof, that christian men are taught that they ought to be subject unto the higher powers, and that no man ought to think that the statute of an earthly king is to be broken. For if the Son of God did pay tribute, who art thou that thou thinkest it ought not to be paid? He also payed tribute who had no possessions; but thou who daily seekest after the worldly lucre, why dost thou not acknowledge the worldly duty? Why dost thou carry thyself above the world with a certain haughtiness of mind, whereas through miserable covetousness thou art subject to the world?” Thus writeth Ambrose, and it is put in Causa 11 quest. 1 cap. 28, “Magnum quidem.” He also writeth in the ninth book, Section. 35, upon these words in Luke 20:24, “Show me a penny; whose image hath it?” thus; “If it had not the image of Caesar, why did Christ pay tribute? He gave it not of his own, but rendered unto the world that which was the world’s; and if thou wilt not be subject to Caesar, possess not the things of the world; but if thou hast riches thou art subject to Caesar.” If thou wilt owe nothing unto any earthly king, forsake all thou hast, and follow Christ.” If, then, all ecclesiastical ministers having riches ought to he under subjection to kings, and give them temporal things; it followeth that kings may lawfully, according to the authority given them, take away temporal things from them.
Hence Paul, acknowledging himself to be under Caesar’s jurisdiction, appealed unto Caesar, as appeareth in Acts 25:10.; “I stand,” saith he, “at Caesar’s judgment seat; there I ought to be judged. Whereupon, in the eighth Distinction, chapter “Quo jure,” St. Ambrose allegeth, that all things are lawful unto the emperor, and all things are his. For the confirmation whereofit is said [Daniel 2:37,38], “The God of heaven hath given unto thee a kingdom, strength, empire, and glory, and hath given into thy hand all places wherein do dwell the children of men, and the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, and hath set all things under thy subjection.”
Also, in Causa 11 quaest. 1 cap. 27, St. Ambrose saith, “If the emperor require tribute, we do not deny that the church lands should pay tribute; if the emperor have need of our lands, he hath power to challenge them, let him take them, if he will; I do not give them unto the emperor, but neither do I deny them.” This writeth St. Ambrose, expressly declaring that the secular lord hath power at his pleasure to take away the church lands; and consequently the secular lords have power at their pleasures, to take away temporal goods from ecclesiastical ministers when they do habitually offend.
The apostle would have us be obedient unto kings, and honor them, and said, ‘Reverence the king.’ Do not then say, ‘What have I to do with the king?’ What hast thou then to do with possessions? Thy possessions are possessed by the king’s law, and yet thou sayest, ‘What have I to do with the king?’ Do not talk then of thy possessions, seeing thou hast renounced those human laws whereby possessions are held.” Thus writeth St.
Augustine, as cited in the eighth Distinction; from whose words it is manifest, that the king hath power over the church goods, and consequently may take them away from the clergy habitually offending. Item, in his thirty-third epistle to Boniface, he saith, “What sober man will say unto our kings, ‘Care not you in your kingdom, by whom the church of the Lord is maintained, or by whom it is oppressed; it pertaineth not unto you, who will be either a religious man, or who will be a church-robber .’ Unto whom it may be answered, ‘Doth it not pertain unto us in our kingdom, who will be a chaste man, or who will be unchaste?’” Behold, this holy man showeth here how it is the duty of kings to control such as are robbers of churches, and consequently insolent clerics, by taking from them their temporalties when they do offend habitually. Item, he writeth in Causa 23, quaest. 7, cap. 2, “Si de rebus,” “The secular lords may lawfully take away temporal goods from heretics; and forsomuch as it is a case greatly possible, that many of the clergy are simoniacs, and thereby heretics, therefore the secular lords may very lawfully take away their temporalties, from them.“ “For what is there unworthy in it,” continueth St.
Augustine, “if catholics do possess, according unto the will of the Lord, those things which heretics held? forsomuch as this is the word of the Lord unto all wicked men [Matthew 21], ‘The kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given unto a nation, which shall work his righteousness.’ Is it written in vain in the Book of Wisdom [chap. 11], ‘The just shall eat the labors of the wicked?’” And whereas it may be objected as touching the desire of other men’s goods, St. Augustine answereth, That by that evidence the seven nations, which did abuse the Land of Promise and were driven out from thence by the power of God, might object the same unto the people of God occupying the same;” and the Jews themselves, from whom according to the word of the Lord the kingdom was taken away, and given unto a people working righteousness, might object the same unto the church of Christ, as touching the desire of other men’s goods: but St. Augustine’s answer is this; “We do not desire other men’s goods, forsomuch as they are ours by the commandment of Him whose all things are become.” By like evidence, when the clergy do habitually offend, their temporal goods become the goods of others, for the profit of the church. To this purpose also serveth Causa 14 question 4, saying, according to St. Augustine, “Unto an unbeliever it doth not matter a halfpenny; but to a believer it is a whole world of riches.”
Do we not then convict all who seem to have gathered great riches together, and know not how to use them, of possessing what is another’s; for certainly that is not another’s, which is possessed by right; but that only is rightfully possessed, which is justly possessed; and that only is justly possessed, which is well possessed. Ergo, all that which is ill possessed, is another man’s; and he doth ill possess, who doth ill use.
If then the clergy do habitually abuse their temporal goods, the temporal lords may, at their own pleasure, according unto the rule of charity, take away the said temporal goods from the clergy so offending. For then, according to the allegation aforesaid, the clergy do not justly possess those temporal goods; but the temporal lords, proceeding according to the rule of charity, do justly possess those temporalties, forsomuch as all things belong to the righteous. “All things,” saith the apostle [1 Corinthians 3 21-23], “are yours; whether it be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas; either the world, or life or death, or things present, or things to come: for all things be yours, you be qChrist’s, and Christ is God’s.”
Also in Causa 23, quaest. 7, cap. 1, “Quieunque,” it is written: “Jure dininc crania aunt justorum.” *The 107 words of St. Augustine in that place, “Ad Vincentium:,” be these: “Whosoever,” saith he, “upon the occasion of this law of the emperor doth persecute you, not for love and charitable correction, but only for hatred and to do you mischief, in so doing incurreth our displeasure. And although there is nothing here in this earth, that any man may possess assuredly, but either he must hold it by God’s law, by which ‘cuncta justorum esse dicuntur,’ that is, ‘all things pertain to the just:’ or else by man’s law, which it standeth in the power of the kings of the earth to ordain,” etc. By the words of St. Augustine here alleged, ye see all things belong to the possession of the just, by God’s law.* Item, Forsomuch as the clergy by reason of their possessions are subject to, the emperor and king, it followeth, that if they do habitually offend, the emperor or king may lawfully take away their possessions from them. The consequent holdeth, forsomuch as, otherwise, they would not be subject to the emperor or king: and the antecedent is manifest by Causa 11 quaest. 1 cap. 26, parag., “His ita respondetur,” where it is said: Clerici ex officio episcopo sunt suppositi, ex possessionibus imperatori sunt obnoxii: ab episcopo uncti-onem, decimas, et primitias accipiunt; ab imperatore nero possessiones nanciscuntur: quia ergo, ut praedia possideantur, imperiali lege factum est, patet, quod clerici ex praediorum possessionibus imperatori aunt obnoxii:” that is to, say, “The clergy by reason of their office are under the bishop; but by reason of their possessions they be subject unto the emperor: of the bishop they receive unction, tithes, and first-fruits; but of the emperor they receive possessions. That lands therefore are possessed by them, happeneth by the imperial law; and thence it is evident, that the clergy by the possession of their lands are subject to the emperor, [for him to take away from them, or to correct them, according to their deservings, and to have the controlment of them, as. it shall seem good unto him.] Item, Secular lords may take away temporal, goods from such as use simony, because they are heretics. Ergo, this article is true. The antecedent is manifest, forsomuch as the secular lords may reject such as use simony, and punish them except they do repent. For, by the decree of pope Pascal, in Causa 1 the last question and last chapter, it appeareth, that “all such as used simony a were to be rejected of all faithful people, as prime and chief heretics; and if they did not repent after being admonished, they were to be punished by the extern power. For all crimes in comparison of simony be counted as nothing.” Whereupon the Gloss saith, that by this word ‘extern’ is understood the laity, who have this power apart from the church of the clergy, as appeareth in the 17th Distinction, cap. 4, “Neclicuit,” and Causa 23, quest. 5, cap.20, “Principes.” Whereby it is evident, that temporal lords may take away temporal goods from the clergy when they do offend. Item, the blessed Gregory, in the seventh book and ninth chapter of his Register, 93 writeth thus to the queen of the French: “Forsomuch as it is written that righteousness exalteth a nation, and sin maketh them miserable; then is a kingdom counted stable, when the offense which is known is soon amended. Therefore, forsomuch as wicked priests are a cause of the ruin of a people (for who shall offer himself to be intercessor for the sins of the people, if the priest who ought to entreat for the same, have committed greater offenses), and under your dominions the priests do live unchastely and wickedly; therefore we ought earnestly to seek the punishment of the same, that the wickedness of the few may not prove the destruction of the many.” And it followeth, “If you desire, we will send a person, with the consent of your authority, whose duty it shall be, together with other priests, diligently to seek out, and according unto God’s word, amend these things. For these things which we have spoken of ought not to be winked at, for he that can correct any thing, and doth neglect to do it, without all doubt maketh himself a partaker of the sin. Therefore, provide for your own soul; provide for your grandsons, whom you do desire to reign; provide for your country, and with diligence devise the correction of this wickedness, before our Creator do make bare his hand to strike.”
And in the next chapter he writeth unto the king of the French; “Whatsoever you do perceive to pertain either to the reverence of our God, to the reverence of the church, or to the honor of the priests, do you diligently cause to be decreed, and in all points to be observed. Wherefore, once again we do move you, that you command a synod to he congregated, and that, as we wrote lately unto you, you cause the carnal vices which reign amongst your priests, and the wickedness of simoniacal heresy among all your bishops, which is most hard to be condemned and reproved, to he controlled within your kingdom; and that you do not suffer them to possess any more substance there than God’s commandments do allow.”
Behold, how carefully blessed Gregory doth exhort the queen and the king to punish the vices of the clergy, lest through their negligence they should be partakers of the same; and in what way they ought to correct their subjects. Therefore, as they study to be careful against outward enemies, even so, likewise, ought they to be against the inward enemies of souls. But, forsomuch as in just war against outward enemies it is lawful to take away their goods, so long as they continue in their malice; so also it is lawful to take away the goods of the clergy, being the inward enemy. The consequence holdeth, because the domestic enemies are the most hurtful. Item, It is thus argued; if God be, temporal lords can meritoriously and lawfully take away temporal goods from the clergy, if they do habitually offend. For this point let us suppose that we use the term “can” as the true and authentic Scripture doth use it in Matthew 3:9, “God can even of these stones raise up children to Abraham.” Whereupon it is thus argued: If God he, he is omnipotent; and if so, he can give such a power unto secular lords; and so consequently they can meritoriously and lawfully exercise such a power.
But, lest any man object, that this proof is far-fetched and impertinent, it is therefore declared, that temporal lords have power to take away their alms bestowed upon the church, the church abusing the same, as shall be proved hereafter; 109 but for the present thus: It is lawful for kings, in cases limited by the law, to take away temporalties from ecclesiastics habitually abusing them; which is thus proved: Temporal lords are most bound unto the works of greatest mercy, and most easy for them: but it might be the case, that it would he greater alms and easier temporal dominion, to take away their alms from such as build therewithal unto eternal damnation through the abuse thereof, than to give the said alms for bodily relief: Ergo, the assumption is true.
Whereupon, First, this doctrine is laid down agreeably to the law of Christ, as stated in 2 Thessalonians 3, where the apostle writeth thus: “When we were amongst you, we declared this unto you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” The law of nature, therefore, doth license such as have the governance of kingdoms to correct any abuses of the temporalties, which would he the chief cause of the destruction of their kingdoms; whether it were temporal lords, or any other, who had endowed the church with those temporalties. It is lawful for them in some cases to take away the temporaities medicinally, to prevent sin, notwithstanding any excommunication or other ecclesiastical censure; forsomuch as they are not bestowed, but under an implied condition.
The which appeareth by this, that the effect naturally [per se ] consequent upon an endowment or gift of goods to the church, is, that God should he honored: and if this effect be wanting, the contrary taking place, the title of the gift is plainly lost; and consequently the lord who gave the alms ought to correct what is amiss. But excommunication ought not to hinder the fulfilling of justice.
Secondly, this doctrine is laid down agreeably to the canon law, Causa 16 question 7. par. “Filiis,” where it is thus spoken as touching the children, nephews, and the most honest of the kindred of him who hath builded or endowed any church: “That it is lawful for them to foresee, that if they perceive the priest do defraud any part of that which is bestowed, they should either gently admonish him, or else complain of him to the bishop, that he may be corrected. But if the bishop himself attempt to do the like, let them complain of him to his metropolitan; and if the metropolitan do the like, let them not defer to report it in the ears of the king.” Mark, the canon saith, “Let them not defer to report it in the ears of the king.” To what end, I pray you, but that he should apply correction? neither is it to be doubted, but that the king’s correction in this behalf would be more Wholesome and pertinent, viz. a subtraction of the goods, whereof he is lord in capite , proportional to the offense. Item , It is thus argued: It is lawful, for secular lords, by their power, to do correction upon the clergy by some kind of fearful discipline pertaining to their secular power. Ergo, by like reason it is lawful for them by their power to do such correction by all kind of fearful discipline pertaining to their secular power. Forsomuch, then, as the taking away of temporalties is a kind of fearful disciipline pertaining to the secular power, it followeth, that it is lawful for them thereby to do such correction: and, consequently, the truth which was to be proved followeth. The consequent is evident; and the antecedent is proved by Isidore, cited in Causa 23, question 5. cap. 20. “Principes;” where it is thus written: “Secular powers would not be necessary within the church, but only for this purpose, that what the priest cannot effect by preaching or teaching, the secular powers may accomplish by the terror of discipline. For, oftentimes, the heavenly kingdom prevaileth by the earthly kingdom, that they who are in the church, and do any thing contrary to its faith and discipline, are suppressed by the rigour of the princes, and that the power of the prince layeth that discipline upon the necks of the proud, which the meekness of the church cannot exercise.” Item, Every thing that by power ought to effect any end by means reasonably commensurate thereto, may lawfully make by power the subtraction of the excess and the addition of the defect of those means, according as shall be suitable to render them commensurate. Forsomuch, then, as the secular lords ought by their power to provide for the necessary sustentation of the christian clergy by a reasonable proportion of temporalties, which they are bound to bestow upon the christian clergy; it followeth, that they may lawfully, by their power, make a deduction from, or addition to, those temporalties, according as is suitable for making that reasonable proportion. Item, It is lawful for the clergy, by their power, to withhold the sacraments of the church from laymen habitually offending, forsomuch as it doth pertain to the office of the christian clergy, by their power, to minister the same unto the lay-people. Wherefore, forsomuch as it doth pertain unto the office of the laity, according to their power, to minister temporalties to the clergy of Christ, as the apostle saith 1 Corinthians 9; it followeth, that it is also lawful for them, by their power, to withhold the temporalties from the clergy, habitually offending. Item, By like power may he who giveth a stipend, withdraw the same from unworthy laborers, as he hath power to give the same to worthy laborers. Forsomuch then as the temporalties of the clergy are the stipends of the laity, it followeth that the lay-people may, by as good authority, withdraw them from the clergy who will not worthily labor, as they might by their power bestow the same upon those who would worthily labor, according to the saying of the gospel [Matth. 21], “The kingdom shall be taken away from you, and given unto a people which shall bring forth the fruits thereof.” Item, It is lawful for the secular lords, by their power, to chastise lay-people when they do offend, by taking away their temporalties according to the exigence of their offenses, forsomuch as the lay-people are subjected to their dominion. Wherefore, the clergy being also subject to the dominion of the secular lords, as appeareth from Romans 13 and many other places, it followeth that it is lawful for them by their power to chastise the clergy by taking away their temporalties, their offense so requiring. Item, The most easy reformation of the clergy to the life of Christ and his apostles, and the most pertinent to the laity, so that the clergy should not live contrary unto Christ, seemeth to be the withdrawing of their alms, and the taking away of those things which had been bestowed upon them. It is thus proved: that medicine is rather to be applied, whereby the infirmity might soonest be cured, and which would be most handy to the physician; such is the taking away of the temporalties. Ergo, this article is true. The minor appeareth by this, that from abundance of temporalties the worm of pride is produced, whereupon lust is inflamed, and gluttony and lechery are generated. This is evident, forsomuch as the temporalties being once withdrawn, every one of those sins is taken away, or at the least diminished, and the opposite virtue induced. It seemeth also most pertinent to the laity, forsomuch as they need not for this end lay violent hands upon the priests, nor cast away the priestly dignity, neither judge the clergy in their judicial court. It seemeth, also, by the law of conscience to pertain unto the lay-people, forsomuch as every man who doeth any work of mercy, ought diligently to have respect unto the meetness of them that he bestoweth his alms upon; else, by nourishing loiterers, he would be partaker of their sin.
Whereupon, if a priest do not minister in spiritual things, as Hostiensis 94 teacheth in his third book, ‘De Decimis, Primitiis, et Oblationibus,’ the people ought to withdraw the alms of their tithes from them. Item, It is confirmed with respect to Rents appropriate unto the church, by the last chapter in Causa 17 quaest. 4, cap. “Quicunque,” where the case is put thus: That a certain man having no children, and not hoping to have any, gave all his goods to the church, reserving to himself the usufruct thereof: it happened afterwards, that he had children, and the bishop restored again his goods unto him, not expecting it. The bishop had it in his power, not to render him again those things which he had given; but that was by the law of the courts, and not by the law of heaven. If then, by the decree of the most subtil and holy doctor Augustine, in his sermon “De vita clericorum,” St. Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, had not power by God’s law to restore that which was bestowed upon the church for the necessity of the children; by what law do the wanton, proud, and unstable clergy, and superabundantly possessed and enriched, detain temporalties to the detriment of their own state and of the whole church militant, the secular patrons being thereby so impoverished, that they are compelled by penury, to steal, to oppress their tenants, to spoil others, and oftentimes are necessitated to beg? Item, Suppose that a clergyman as grievously as possible do offend, by what kind of offenses soever, as it was in the case of bishop Judas Iscariot, of the religious monk Sergius, of pope Leo the heretic, and many other priests of whom the Scripture and Chronicles make mention, and daily experience doth teach us the same: it is evident, that the priests in the kingdom of Bohemia, as is supposed, offending enormously, it is the king’s part, forsomuch as he is supreme lord of the kingdom of Bohemia next after God, to correct those priests. But, forsomuch as the gentlest correction of such as be obdurate in their wickedness, is, the taking away of their temporal goods, it followeth, that it is lawful for the king so to take away temporalties. Wherefore it would be very marvellous, if priests, riding about, should spoil virgins, and violently defile honest matrons, that in such case it were not lawful to take back from them their armor, horses, guns, and swords. The like reason were it, as if they had unlawfully conspired the death of the king, or that they would betray the king to his enemies. Item, Whatsoever the clergy ought to require of the secular arm, according to the law of Christ, the secular arm ought to perform the same. But the clergy, being hindered by riches, ought to require help of the secular arm for the dispensation of the said riches. Ergo, the secular arm ought, in such case, by the law of Christ, to take upon it the office of getting, keeping, and distributing, all such riches. The minor is hereby proved, that no man ought to have riches, but so that they be helps to the performance of the office which is appointed him of God. Therefore, in case secular possession should hinder the clergy from their duty, the secular power ought to take it away; for so did the apostles, Acts 6, saying, “It is not lawful for us to leave the word of God, and to minister unto tables.”
And thus, hitherto, hath John Huss prosecuted Wickliff’s articles with long arguments and reasons; and it were too long a travail, neither agreeable for this place, to allege all the whole order of his reasons and proofs which he used in that disputation, about the number of eighteen more, 95 besides the testimonies of all the writers before recited, the which he allegeth out of the Scriptures, the Decretals, St. Ambrose in his fifth book of offices, St.
Augustine, cited in the fifth Causa and fifth question, and also in his third Epistle to Macedonius, Isidore, the council of Nice, Gregory cited in the eleventh Causa and the third question, Bernard in his third book to Eugene, and out of Lincolniensis, 96 the sixtyfirst epistle, besides many other more: the sum of all which testimonies tendeth unto this end, that he might utterly take away all earthly rule and dominion from the clergy, and bring them under the subjection and censure of kings and emperors, as it were within certain bounds; the which is not only agreeable unto equity and God’s word, but also profitable for the clergy themselves. He teacheth it also to be necessary, that they should rather be subject under the secular power, than be above it; because that else it were dangerous, lest that, they being entangled with such kind of business, they should be an easier prey to Satan and sooner trapped in his snares; and thereby it should come to pass, that the governance and principality of all things being at the length brought into the hands of the clergy, the lawful authority of kings and princes should not only be given over unto them, but in a manner, as it were, grow out of use; specially forsomuch as already, in certain kingdoms and commonwealths, the ecclesiastical power is grown to such a height, that not only in Bohemia, but also almost throughout all the commonwealths, they did occupy the third, or at least the fourth, part’ of the rents and revenues. And, last of all, he allegeth the example of Gregory writing to the emperor Maurice, and afterwards the prophecy of Hildegard, writing in this manner.
THE SECOND DISPUTATION OF JOHN HUSS, CONTINUED. As ecclesiastics do willingly receive praise of kings and rulers for their well-doing, so ought they, when they do offend, willingly to suffer punishment from them for their evil-doing. The consequent holdeth, forsomuch as punishment meekly received for any offense doth more profit a man, than the praise received for any good work: whereupon the blessed Gregory writeth thus unto Maurice the emperor, who did persecute him. saying, “I believe that you do please Almighty God the more, the more you afflict me, who serve him so ill.” If then that holy pope did so meekly, and without offense, suffer affliction of the emperor, why should not the clergy, when they do offend, meekly sustain punishment from the king or rulers to whom they are bound to be subject, when the immediate vicar of Christ saith [1 Peter 2], “Be ye subject unto every creature for God’s sake, whether it be unto the king, as most excellent, or unto the rulers, as sent of God for the punishing of the wicked, and to the praise of the good: for so is the will of God?”
Whereupon pope Leo, leaning to this rule, submitted himself to Louis, the emperor, as it is written in Causa 2 quaest. 7, cap. 41, in these words, 97 “If we have done any thing incompetently, and have not observed the path of justice and law amongst our subjects, we will amend the same, by your own judgment, and by that of those whom you shall commission. For if we, who ought to correct other men’s faults, do commit worse ourselves, certainly we shall not then be the disciples of the truth, but (with sorrow we speak it) we shall be above all others the masters of error.”
And, in the tenth Distinction, he writeth thus unto the emperor touching obedience: “As concerning your imperial precepts and commandments, and those of the pontiffs (where the Gloss saith, ‘i.e. emperors, who are anointed after the manner of the pontiffs’) your predecessors, to be kept and observed unbroken, we do profess ourselves ready by all means possible, as far as we are now or shall be able, by the help of Christ, to observe them both now and ever. And if, peradventure, any man do, or hereafter shall, inform you otherwise, know you for certain that he is a liar.”
Mark how that devout pope, calling the emperors ‘pontiffs,’ submitted himself, according to the rule of Peter the apostle, under the obedience and also punishment of the emperor. Why, then, should, not the clergy of the kingdom of Bohemia so submit themselves to their king, for God’s sake, both in obedience, and also, if they do offend, in punishment; nor only to the king, but also to the rulers; nor only to the rulers, but also to every human creature? For by how much they should so humble themselves in this world for God’s sake, so much the more should they be exalted with him. But what is the hindrance thereof, but only pride, whereby Antichrist doth exalt himself above the most meek Lord Jesus Christ?
Also, the aforesaid opinion concerning the right of taking away the temporalties, seemeth to appear by the prophecy of Hildegard, the virgin, which site writeth in her books approved under pope Eugene III. 99 in the council of Treyes, many bishops of France, Italy, and Almain being there present, where also the blessed Bernard was present. The virgin prophesying, spake in this manner: The kings and other rulers of the world, being stirred up by the judgment of God, shall vehemently oppose themselves, and rushing upon them shall say, ‘We will not have these men to reign over us with their estates and lands and other secular possessions, over the which we are ordained lords. And how is it comely that those shavelings, with their stoles and chisils, 111 should have more soldiers, or more or richer armor, than we? So is it not convenient that a cleric should be a soldier, or that a soldier shored be a cleric.
Wherefore, let us withdraw from them that, which they do, not rightly, but wrongfully possess.’” And, afterward, she saith thus: “The Omnipotent Father rightly divided all things; that is to say, the heavens he gave unto the heavenly creatures, and the earth unto the earthly. And in like wise let there be a just division , made among the children of men, so that the spiritualty should have such things as pertain to them, and the secular people such things as are meet for them, so that neither of these two sorts should oppress the other by violence. For God did not command, that the one son should have both the cloak and the coat, and the other should go naked; but he would that the one should have the cloak, and the other the coat. Wherefore the secular sort ought to have the cloak, for the greatness of their secular cares, and for their children, which continually increase and multiply: but the coat he giveth unto the spiritualty, that they should not lack clothing, and that they should not possess more than is necessary. Wherefore we judge and think it good, that all things be divided on the aforesaid principle; and that where the cloak and the coat are found together, the cloak should be taken away, and given unto the needy, that they do not perish for want.” These things spake the above-mentioned virgin Hildegard, plainly foreshowing the taking away of the temporalties from the clergy by the secular lords; and showing for what cause they should be so taken away, and what sort of division should be made of those things that are taken away, that they be not spent unprofitably.
Forsomuch as mention is here made of Hildegard, it shall not seem impertinent, moved by the occasion hereof, to give forth unto the reader such things as we have found in certain old volumes, touching her prophecy of the coming of certain false prophets, only meaning, as it seemeth, the begging-friars, who sprang up shortly after her time. The tenor whereof is this, word for word, as we find it written.
HILDEGARD’S PROPHECY RESPECTING FRIARS AND MONKS.
In those days there shall rise up a people without understanding, proud, covetous, untrusty, and deceitful, that shall eat the sins of the people, holding a certain order of foolish devotion, under the reigned cloak of beggary; preferring themselves above all others, by their reigned devotion, arrogant understanding, and pretended holiness; walking without shamefacedness, or the fear of God; inventing many new mischiefs, being strong and stout: but this order shall be accursed of all wise men and faithful Christians; they shall cease from labor, and give themselves, over unto idleness; choosing rather to live through flattery, and by begging. Moreover, they shall together study, how they may perversely resist the teachers of the truth, and slay them together with the noble men; how to seduce and deceive the nobility, for the necessity of their living and the pleasures of this world. For the devil will graft in them four principal vices; that is to say, flattery, envy, hypocrisy, and slander: flattery, that they may have large gifts given them: envy, when they see gifts, given unto others, and not unto them: hypocrisy, that by false dissimulation, they may please men: detraction, that they may extol and commend themselves, and backbite others, for the praise of men, and the seducing of the simple.
Also, they shall instantly preach without devotion or example of the martyrs, and shall traduce the secular princes, taking away the sacraments of the church from the true pastors, receiving alms of the poor, diseased, and miserable, and also associating themselves with the common people, having familiarity, with women, instructing them how the shall deceive their husbands and friends by their flattery and deceitful words, and rob their husbands to give it unto them: for they will take all these stolen and evil-gotten goods, and say, “Give it unto us, and we will pray for you;” so that they, being curious to hide other men’s faults, do utterly forget their own: and alas, they will receive all things of rovers, pickers, spoilers, thieves, and robbers; of sacrilegious persons, usurers, and adulterers; of heretics, schismatics, and apostates; of noblemen, perjurers, merchants, false judges, soldiers, tyrants, princes; of such as live contrary to the law, and of many perverse and wicked men: following the persuasion of the devil, the sweetness of sin, a delicate and transitory life, and fullness even unto eternal damnation.
All these things shall manifestly appear in them unto all people, and they, day by day, shall wax more wicked and hard-hearted; and when their wickedness and deceits shall be found out, then shall their gifts cease, and then shall they go about their houses hungry, and as mad dogs looking down upon the earth, and drawing in their necks as doves, that they might be satisfied with bread. Then shall the people cry out upon them, “Woe be unto you, ye miserable children of sorrow. The world hath seduced you, the devil hath bridled your mouths; your flesh is frail, and your hearts without savor; your minds have been unsteadfast, and your eyes delighted in much vanity and folly; your dainty bellies desire delicate meats; your feet are swift to run unto mischief.” Remember when you were apparently blessed yet envious, poor but rich, simple, mighty devout flatterers, unfaithful betrayers, perverse detractors, holy hypocrites, subverters of the truth, overmuch upright, proud, unshamefaced, unsteadfast teachers, delicate martyrs, confessors for gain, meek slanderers, religious, covetous, humble, proud, pitiful, hard-hearted, liars, pleasant flatterers, peace-breakers, persecutors, oppressors of the poor, brining in new sects newly invented of yourselves, merciless, wicked, lovers of the world, sellers of pardons, spoilers of benefices, unprofitable orators, seditious conspirators, drunkards, desirers of honor, maintainers of mischief, robbers of the world, insatiable, preachers, men-pleasers, seducers of women, and sowers of discord. For Moses, the glorious prophet, spake very well of you in his song: “A people without counsel or understanding; would to God they did know, understand, and foresee the end.”
You have builded up on high, and when you could ascend no higher, then did you fall, even as Simon Magus whom God overthrew, and did strike with a cruel plague; so you, likewise, through your false doctrine, haughtiness, lies, detractions, and wickedness, are come to ruin. And the people shall say unto you, “Go! ye teachers of wickedness, subverters of the truth, brethren of the Shunamite, fathers of heresies, false apostles, who have reigned yourselves to follow the life of the apostles, and yet have not fulfilled it in any part: sons of iniquity! we will not follow the knowledge of your ways, for pride and presumption have deceived you, and insatiable concupiscence hath subverted your erroneous hearts; and when ye would yet ascend higher than was meet or comely for you, by the just judgment of God you are fallen back into perpetual opprobry and shame.” This blessed Hildegard, whose prophecy this is, flourished about the year of our Lord, 1146, as it is written in Martin’s Chronicle.
Hugo, 100 113 also, in his second hook of Sacraments, part 2 chaps. and 7, saith, “The laity, forsomuch as they intermeddle with earthly matters necessary unto an earthly life, are the left part of the body of Christ. But the clergy, forsomuch as they do dispense those things which pertain unto a spiritual, life, are, as it were, the right side of the body of Christ.” And, afterward, interpreting both these parts himself, he saith, “A spiritual man ought to have nothing but God and such things as pertain unto God; unto whom it is appointed to be sustained by the tithes and oblations which are offered unto God; but unto the christian and faithful laity the possession of earthly things is granted; and unto the clergy the whole charge of spiritual matters is committed, as it was in the Old Testament.” And in his seventh chapter he declareth, how that “certain things are given unto the church of Christ by the devotion of the faithful, the right and authority of the secular power being withal reserved, lest there might happen any confusion; forsomuch, as God himself, cannot allow any disorderly thing. Whereupon, sometimes worldly princes do grant the bare use of the church, and sometimes the use and power of exercising justice (which the clergy cannot exercise by any ecclesiastical, minister, or any person of the clergy: notwithstanding they may have certain lay-persons ministers unto that office); but in such sort,” saith he, “that they do acknowledge their having such power to come from the secular prince or ruler, and that they do understand their possessions can never be so alienated away from the king’s power, but that, if necessity or reason do require, the same possessions, in all such case of necessity, do owe him suit and service. For, like as the king’s power ought not to withdraw the patronage which he oweth to the church, so, likewise, the possessions obtained by the clergy cannot by right deny the duty and homage which are due unto the patronage of the king’s power.” Thus much writeth Hugo.
THE THIRD DISPUTATION OF JOHN HUSS, UPON THE EIGHTEENTH ARTICLE OF WICKLIFF.
Made in the third Act, the same Year, after the Feast of St. Virus, Touching Tithes, etc. 114 “Tithes are pure Alms.” Upon this article it is to be noted, First, that forsomuch as alms is a work of mercy, as St. Augustine, St. Chrysostome, and others unanimously affirm; and forsomuch as mercy, according to Lincolniensis’ mind, for the present, is a love or desire to help the miserable out of his misery; and forsomuch as the misery of mankind is twofold, viz. spiritual and bodily, the which is the want or privation of good; and the good of man is either the good of the soul or of the body; and the good of the soul is twofold, viz. the enlightening of the mind, and rectitude of affection:—therefore the misery of the soul is also twofold; viz. the darkness of ignorance, and the swerving of the will from rectitude. But both kinds of the soul’s good are wont to be comprehended under one name, that is to say, ‘wisdom:’ and both kinds of the soul’s misery, under the name of ‘folly.’ Whereupon the whole good of the soul is wisdom, and the whole misery thereof is ignorance. But the miseries of the body are lack of meat, that is to say, hunger; and lack of drink, called thirst: and, briefly, all misery is the privation of some thing which is desired. Also, these are bodily miseries: nakedness, lack of harbor, sickness, and imprisonment. All the miseries therefore being numbered together, are but one of the soul, which is folly and lack of wisdom; and six of the body, which the Lord himself in Matthew 25 doth plainly enumerate. There are also commonly stated seven bodily alms; that is to say, to feed the hungry, to give drink unto the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbor the stranger, to visit the sick, to redeem the captive, 101 and to bury the dead; the which all together are contained in this verse: “Visito, poto, cibo, redimo, tego, colligo, condo.” The which verse is thus Englished, word for word: Visit the sick, the hungry feed, Give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, Bury the dead, the captive redeem, The harborless receive to thy lodging.
There be also beside seven spiritual alms, viz., to teach the ignorant; to counsel him that is in doubt; to comfort him who is in heaviness; to correct the sinner; to forgive him who offended thee; to bear with those who are burdensome and grievous; and to pray for all men: which are also contained in this verse following: “Consule, castiga, solare, remitte, fer, ors.” The which verse is thus Englished, word for word: Instruct the ignorant, the weak confirm, Comfort the heavy heart, and correct sin:
Secondly, it is to be noted that in this present article our intent is only to treat of bodily alms; the which, as Thomas writeth in his second part, second division, question 32, art. 1, according to some is thus to be defined: “Alms is a work whereby any thing is given unto the needy, out of compassion, for God’s sake.” And forsomuch as this definition serveth as well for spiritual as for corporal alms, therefore, for our present purpose, ‘Alms is a work, whereby anything is given unto the needy in body out of compassion, and for God’s sake; or, that is given out of compassion unto the bodily needy, for God’s sake.’ Whence it is manifest that alms, as Augustine and other holy men say, is a work of mercy, as also to give alms. And this appeareth by the very name; for as in the Latin the word ‘miseratio,’ which signifieth ‘pity,’ is derived from ‘misericordia,’ which is ‘mercy;’ so in the Greek the word ‘eleemosyna,’ which signifieth ‘alms,’ is derived from the Greek word ‘elemonia,’ which is to say ‘mercy,’ and from the word ‘sins,’ which is to say ‘commandment,’ as if it were a commandment of mercy: or otherwise, better from the word ‘elimonia,’ with an ‘i;’ which is to say ‘God,’ and the word ‘sina,’ which is ‘commandment:’ and then it is derived from the word ‘eli,’ as if it were ‘the commandment of God;’ as Januensis in his book entitled ‘Catholicon’ affirmeth. 116 For our Savior doth command, in Luke 11, to give alms, saying, “Give alms, and behold all things are clean unto you.” Lest then there should be any equivocation about the term, it is now supposed, that the alms given by men is corporal alms, given by a man simply under the name of ‘alms.’ Secondly, it is to be supposed, that tithes, in this case, are the tenth part of the goods of fortune, given by a man simply under the name of ‘alms’ for God’s sake.
These two things being noted and supposed, it is thus argued for the article: Every gift of fortune, or temporal gift, simply given under the name of alms, is alms: But some tithes are the gift of fortune, or a temporal gift under the name of alms: Therefore, some tithes are alms. This consequence is manifest of itself. The major appeareth by the first supposition; and the minor by the second. Item, Every gift given by a man, for the sake of relieving the miserable from his misery, is an alms. But the tenth part of the goods of fortune given by a man, simply under the name of alms, for God’s sake, is given by the same man for the sake of relieving the miserable from his misery; therefore the tenth part of the goods of fortune, being given by any man simply under the name of alms for God’s sake, is alms. The consequence is manifest. The major appeareth by this, that every such gift is either a spiritual or bodily alms. The minor seemeth hereby true, forsomuch as many holy men have given, and do give, a tithe for the sake of relieving the miserable from his misery. Neither is it to be doubted but that such kind of tithes are alms; for St. Augustine upon these words of the Lord in the Gospel, “Woe be unto you Pharisees, which do tithe the mint and anise,” writeth thus: “If they cannot be cleansed except they believe in Him who doth cleanse the heart by faith, to what purpose is it that He saith, ‘Give alms, and behold, all things are clean unto you?’ Let us give ear, and peradventure He himself doth expound. They did take out the tenth part of all their fruits, and gave it for alms; which, notwithstanding, any christian man doth not lightly do. They therefore mocked Him, when He spake these words to them, as unto men who did no alms. This the Lord knowing said, ‘Woe be unto you Pharisees, which tithe mint and rue, and all kind of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God.’ This is not to do alms; if thou dost understand it, begin with thyself; for how canst thou be merciful unto another, who art cruel unto thyself?” This writeth St. Augustine, expressly saying, that “tithes are alms.”
Also in his Enchiridion, chap. 126, upon these words of St. Luke, chap. 11, “Notwithstanding, that which is more than sufficient for thee give in alms, and all things shall be clean unto you,” he saith thus: “When he had rebuked them, that they washed themselves outwardly but inwardly, were full of violence and iniquity, admonishing them how a man ought first to bestow a sort of alms upon himself and thus to cleanse himself inwardly, he saith, ‘That which is over, give in alms; and behold, all things are clean unto you.’ Afterward, that he might the better declare what he had admonished them of and what they neglected to do, that they should not judge him ignorant of their alms he saith, ‘But woe be unto you Pharisees;’ as though he should say, ‘I admonished you indeed that you should give alms, whereby all things might he clean unto you; but woe be unto you who tithe the mint, rue, and all kind of herbs (for these your alms I do know, that you may not think that I now admonished you touching them), and neglect and pass over judgment and the love of God, by which alms ye might be cleansed from all your inward filthiness, and your bodies also, which you do wash, should be clean. For this word ‘all things’ meaneth both inward and also outward; as it is said in another place, ‘Cleanse that which is within, and that which is without shall be clean also.’ But, lest he should seem to refuse those alms which are given of the fruits of the earth; he saith, ‘You ought to have done these things,’ that is to say, judgment and the love of God, ‘and not to leave the other undone,’ that is to say, the alms of the fruits of the earth.” This writeth St. Augustine, expressly calling the tithes, ‘alms.’ Item, Chrysostome, upon the same words in Luke 11, “That which is over give in alms,” saith thus; “Whereas the discourse was of the Jewish fashion of cleansing, he wholly passed that by; but forsomuch as tithes is a certain alms, and the time was not yet come for expressly abolishing the ceremonies of the law, for this cause he saith, ‘Ye ought to do these things, and not omit the other.’“And St. Thomas allegeth the same in his gloss upon St.
Luke. But St. Chrysostome himself doth touch two points: first, that tithes are alms; secondly, that tithes are in a manner an institution of the law, which had not yet ceased to be given to the priests in the time of Christ. Item, Augustine, in a certain sermon on giving alms, saith thus: “What meaneth ‘Give alms, and behold, all things are clean unto you?’ Let us give ear, and peradventure he doth expound it himself.
When he had spoken these words without doubt they mused within themselves, who did give alms. But how did they give them? They tithed all that they had, and took out the tenth part of all their fruits, and gave it for alms: which no Christian readily doth. Mark what the Jews did: they tithed, not only their wheat, but also their wine and oil; and not that only, but also vile things, at the commandment of the Lord, as cummin, rue, and anise; yea, every thing; i.e. they took the tenth part of them, and gave it for alms. I think, therefore, forsomuch as they called these things to mind, and thought that our Lord Christ spake foolishly to them as though they did no alms, when they knew their own works, that they tithed the smallest and vilest of all their fruits and gave alms thereof, therefore they mocked him, because he did speak in such sort unto them, as unto men that did no alms. This the Lord knowing, by and by added, ‘Notwithstanding, woe be unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who tithe your mint, cummin, and rue, and all kind of herbs; that ye may be assured that I am aware of your alms. Truly, these are your alms, these are your tithes; you tithe even the least and vilest of your fruits, but have left the weightier matters of the law undone.’” Here Augustine repeatedly expoundeth that tithes are alms. Also he writeth the like in his book of Homilies, Homily the sixth. Item, For the proof of this article, That tithes are pure alms, it is thus argued. For this proposition, Tithes are pure alms, is infinite; taking for a truth that which is really true only of many of its particulars. It is certain that it is not damnable, but most catholic, that Something is God; which being false for all other particulars, is only true for that alone which doth surmount all kind. Ergo,by like reason, this indefinite 117 is true, Tithes are pure alms: for it is thus proved; Those tithes of Peter a layman being wholly given by Paul a rector unto a needy layman according to a good intent, how can they be but pure alms, yea, and more pure than any alms given by a cleric who may be a fornicator? Of course, the case I have just put, I only put as a thing possible to have occurred; our opponents perhaps will doubt whether it ever really did occur. Item, It is thus argued; Those tithes, and all other goods of fortune, are pure alms in respect of God, forsomuch as every man, emperor or king, is a beggar of God, as Augustine doth oftentimes assert; and, consequently, if he do receive fruitfully any such goodness at the hand of God, the same is pure alms in respect of God; neither is there any faithful man who will deny but that it simply followeth that the same is pure alms before God: ergo, it is pure alms. Item, It is thus argued; All tithes are by themselves, and every part of them, alms; neither is there any reason contrary to this, that they are alms: ergo, they are pure alms; for they are by no other means or reason than as alms, if they be wholly in themselves alms; forsomuch as it followeth, if they be by any other means or otherwise than as alms, then they are otherwise than some alms; and forsomuch as they themselves are some alms, it followeth that they are otherwise than they themselves are; which is false.
But now to pass beyond the bounds of logic, it is to be enquired, whether before the church was endowed, or sustenance and clothing were given to the apostles, there were any pure alms, or whether alms were given by any other means by an obligation of human duty. And, forsomuch as no reason can be conceived, but that they were pure alms, so are they ever since, for the custom of the same thing according unto like reason doth not alter the kind of the reason; for so might beggars challenge by custom, beyond the purity of alms, the temporalties which they do beg. Neither doth duty before God utterly exclude the purity of alms; for every man duly giving alms doth as he ought to do, as every man duly receiving his alms, ought so to receive it as before God; and simply to establish any human title upon the continuance of any such alms, it is altogether contrary unto the reason of alms. Therefore, they do continually observe and keep the reason of the purity of alms, which they had from the beginning, since an obligation conditioned doth not destroy the purity thereof.
Wherefore, there seemeth to be no cause why it should be denied, that tithes are pure alms, except that the proud should be marvellously extolled, contrary to the humility of Christ. For they do challenge, by the title of their lack so and so to be pleased for their tithes: yet so might the begging friar, by the daily continuance of his begging, challenge according to such and such quantity or circumstance. But it is no argument, that if the curate do perform his corporal ministry, that he ought, therefore, to challenge tithes by any civil title; because that as well on the part of him who giveth the tithe, as also on the part of the rector or curate, such ministry, ought to be given freely, and not by any civil exchange; forsomuch as there is no exaction; nay, rather, the equivalence between the things so exchanged is repugnant to the notion of exaction, since no man freely giveth any sort of alms without expecting, by the law of heaven, a duty of recompense. Item, All temporal goods bestowed upon the clergy by the laypeople on the ground of their being the goods of the church, are the alms of them who give them. It is proved thus, forsomuch as all those goods are the goods of the poor; as appeareth by many sayings of holy men and by the laws. But they were not the goods of the poor, after they were mere secular goods, but only by means of the work of mercy, whereby they were bestowed upon the poor: ergo, they were pure alms. The consequent dependeth upon the definition of pure alms. Item, All things transferred to the use and power of another are transferred either by civil exchange or evangelical; but the church goods are so transferred: therefore it is by one of these ministries.
But the civil exchange is not to be supposed, because it is not done either by buying or selling, or any other civil exchange. Therefore there doth only remain pure gift, in hope of a heavenly reward, which is merely, and so purely alms. And it seemeth to follow, in a way of corollary, that all the clergy receiving such alms are beggars, not only in respect of God, as all other men are, but in respect of men; for they would not so instantly require those alms except they had need of them: neither ought we to he ashamed thereof, or to be proud beggars, for-somuch as Christ, touching his humanity, became a beggar for us, because he declared his need unto God his Father, saying, etc. Item, When any king, prince, knight, citizen, or any other man, doth give unto the clergy or to the priests for their stipend, he giveth it unto the church of God, and to the private party, as a perpetual alms, that he should pray for the king, for the founder, and for his progenitors. But this kind of giving doth not suffice for the clergy to ground thereupon any secular dominion amongst the clergy: it followeth that the bare use remaineth to them, or the secular use without any secular dominion. The major appeareth hereby, for-somuch as, otherwise, alms should not be a work of mercy. Whereby it may also appear, that tithes are pure alms given to the church for the use of the poor.
And hence holy men do say, that tenths are the tributes of needy souls. Whence St. Augustine, in a sermon made upon the paying of tithes, saith, “The giving of tithes, most dear brethren, is the tribute of poor souls; therefore pay your tribute unto the poor.”
And afterward he saith, “Therefore whoso desireth either to get any reward, or to have any remission of sins, by giving tithes, let him study to give alms even of the ninth part: so that whatsoever shall remain more than a competent living and decent clothing, be not reserved for riot, but be laid up in the heavenly treasury, by giving it in alms to the poor. For whatsoever God doth give to us more than we have need of, he doth not give it us specially for ourselves; but doth transmit it by us to he bestowed upon others: if we do not give it, we invade another man’s possessions.” Thus much writeth St. Augustine, and it is cited in Causa 16 question,1. cap. 66. “Decimae.”
Also St. Augustine in his thirty-third epistle to Boniface, and it is alleged in Causa 12 question 11, and also in Causa 23, question 7, “If we do possess any things privately which do suffice us, they are not ours, but the goods of the poor, whose stewards we are, except we do challenge to ourselves the property by a damnable usurpation.” The Gloss upon that part of the twenty-third Causa, question 7, saith, “The prelates are only the stewards of the church-goods, and not lords thereof.”
St. Ambrose, also, upon this saying of the gospel (Luke 16), “Give account of your stewardship,” saith, Hereby then do we learn, that they are not lords, but rather stewards, of other men’s substance.”
And St. Jerome, writing to Nepotianus, saith, “How can they be clergymen? who are commanded to contemn their own property.
And St. Bernard, in his sermon upon these words “Simon Peter Said unto Jesus” (John 19) saith, “ Truly, the goods of the church are the patrimony of the poor: and whatsoever thing the ministers and stewards of the same, not the lords or possesors thereof, do take unto themselves more than sufficient for food and raiment, the same is taken away from the poor by a sacrilegious cruelty.”
And Eusebius, in his “De Transitu Hieronymi,” writeth thus: “If thou dost possess a garment, or any other thing more than extreme necessity doth require, and dost not help the poor and needy, thou art a thief and a robber. Wherefore, dearly beloved children, let us be stewards of our temporalties, and not possessors.”
Also in the third book of the Decretals, “Extra de donationibus,” under the name of Alexander III., bishop of Paris, it saith, “We believe that it is not unknown unto your brotherhood, that a bishop, and every other prelate, is but a steward of the churchgoods, and not lord thereof.”
By these sayings of these holy men it is showed, that not only tithes, but also all other substance which the clergy have by gift or work of mercy, are pure alms, which, after the necessity of the clergy is once satisfied, ought to be transported unto the poor.
And thus, hitherto, I may peradventure seem to have made sufficiently long recital out of John Huss, but so notwithstanding, that the commodity of those things may abundantly recompense the prolixity thereof.
Wherefore, if I shall seem unto any man, in the rehearsal of this disputation, to have passed very far the bounds of the history, let him think thus of me, that at what time I took in hand to write of these, ecclesiastical matters, I could not omit these things which were so straitly joined with the cause of the church; neither that I did make more account of the history which I had taken in hand, than of the common utility, whereunto I had chief respect.
There were besides these, certain other articles whereupon the said John Huss very wisely and learnedly disputed; but these shall suffice us for this present. And for the residue, we will pass them over, to the intent we may the more speedily return to where our story left, declaring what cruelty they used not only against the books and articles of John Wickliff, but also in burning his body and bones, commanding them to be taken up forty- one 118 years after he was buried; as appeareth by the decree of the said synod, the form whereof we thought hereunto to annex, as followeth.
DECREE OF THE SYNOD OF CONSTANCE, A.D. 1415, TOUCHING THE TAKING UP OF THE BODY AND BONES OF JOHN WICKLIFF TO BE BURNED, [EXECUTED] FORTY-ONE118 YEARS AFTER HE WAS BURIED IN HIS OWN PARISH AT LUTTERWORTH.
Forsomuch as by the authority of the sentence and decree of the council of Rome, and by the commandment of the church and the apostolic see, after clue delays being given, proceedings were taken for the condemnation of the said John Wickliff and his memory; proclamations and summonses having been issued to call forth whosoever would defend the said Wickliff or his memory, if any such there were (but there did none appear, who would either defend him or his memory); and, moreover, witnesses having been examined by commissioners appointed by John the present pope and this council, upon the final impenitency and obstinacy of the said John Wickliff; and the rules having been observed which ought to be observed, as in such business the order of the law requireth; and his impenitency and final obstinacy having been lawfully proved by evident signs and tokens made good by lawful witnesses: — Therefore, at the instance of the steward of the treasury this day having been appointed by proclamation for hearing the sentence, this holy synod declareth, determineth, and giveth sentence, that the same John Wickliff was a notorious heretic, and that he died obstinate in his heresy; cursing alike him and condemning his memory.
This synod also decreeth and ordaineth that his body and bones, if they might be discerned from the bodies of other faithful people, should be taken out of the ground, and thrown away far from the burial of any church, according as the canons and laws enjoin.
These things were clone at Constance, Saturday the fourth day of May, in the eighth public session, A.D. 1415. 119 Which determination and sentence definitive being read and pronounced, and it being demanded and asked of the lord president, and the aforesaid presidents of the four nations, whether it did please them or no, they all answered, and first the bishop of Ostia, the president, and after him the presidents of the nations, that it pleased them very well: and so they allowed and confirmed all the premises. *This 120 wicked and malicious sentence of the bishop, would require here a diligent apology, but that it is so foolish and vain, and no less barbarous, that it seemeth more worthy of derision and disdain, than by any argument to be confuted. For what will it prevail to talk with reasons and arguments, against him who followeth neither reason nor argument? except, peradventure, thou wouldst seem to play Parmenio’s part in the comedy, that is, to join perfect reason and mad folly together. First, under many glorious and bragging words, they pretend here a great color of the catholic faith, and yet bring no reason at all to declare the catholic faith. If the catholic faith consist in men’s seats, and not in the men; in words and not in deeds, then would I grant that the see of Rome might seem catholic. Next, they pretend here, the authority of the holy synod; and that, in the name of our Lord, when they bring forth no Scripture of our Lord. “Lawfully” say they “congregated together:” I hear it very well! and to the intent that this authority may be of greater force and effect, the consent also of the synod of Rome is annexed and joined unto this council; for these be their words: “As it was decreed,” say they, “in the synod of Rome,” etc. Which synod of Rome, how lawfully it was gathered together, the owl did sufficiently declare, which oftentimes (as Clemangis 121 doth witness) flying into the council of Rome where pope John did sit, she could sooner put him out from his catholic seat (and so did), than she could be driven away from him with any kind of weapon.
Hereof, Christ so willing, more shall be declared, when we come to the place severally to speak of the council of Constance. In this synod, being thus gathered together, the works, and forty-five articles of Wickliff, were condemned, and he himself, forty-one years after his death, was taken out of his grave and burned. And what was the cause? Only for that he, with most firm and strong reasons, enterprised and went about to control and rebuke their life, errors, filthiness, and pride, which was now grown unto that point, that it was not any longer to be suffered. But how much rather ought they in this behalf to have rendered thanks unto Wickliff:, for his most godly and wholesome admonition, unto whose good counsel, if they had any thing framed themselves, much more truly had that seat seemed catholic. Now, if it shall be sufficient to condemn men or their books, whatsoever the pope’s treasurer, or the four presidents of the four nations shall say, or pleasure is, and so we, standing upon the same, will defend the liberty of sin, that we will neither amend ourselves, nor yet will suffer ourselves to be controlled or corrected by others, to what end then faith, godliness, conscience, learning, or the knowledge of holy Scripture doth serve, I do not greatly perceive. Wherefore, seeing the decree of this council hath nothing in it that can be revinced with argument, beside only bare names and authority of cardinals, archbishops, abbots, masters of divinity, and doctors of the law, we have, on the contrary part, against the witness of these seditious persons, alleged the testimonies of certain good men; first of all the testimonial of the whole university of Oxford, and afterwards the testimony of John Huss, which, if it hath been read, with equal and indifferent ears of the readers, I doubt not, but that it hath made as much for the defence of Wickliff, as these men’s witnesses shall do to the contrary.* What Heraclitus would not laugh, or what Democritus would not weep, to see these so sage and reverend Catos occupying their heads to take up a poor man’s body, so long dead and buried before, by the space of fortyone years 122 ; and yet, peradventure, they were not able to find his right bones, but took up some other body, and so of a catholic made a heretic!
Albeit, herein Wickliff had some cause to give them thanks, that they would at least spare him so long till he was dead, and also give him so long respite after his death, forty-one years to rest in his sepulcher before they ungraved him, and turned him from earth to ashes; which ashes they also took and threw into the river. And so was he resolved into three elements, earth, fire, and water, thinking thereby utterly to extinguish and abolish both the name and doctrine of Wickliff for ever. 123 Not much unlike the example of the old Pharisees and sepulcher-knights, who, when they had brought the Lord unto the grave, thought to make him sure never to rise again. But these and all others must know, that as there is no counsel against the Lord, so there is no keeping down of verity, but it will spring up and come out of dust and ashes, as appeared right well in this man; for though they digged up his body, burnt his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day, for the most part of his articles, doth remain, notwithstanding the transitory body and bones of the man were thus consumed and dispersed, as by this picture here set forth to thine eyes (gentle reader) may appear.
These things thus finished and accomplished, which pertain to the story and time of Wickliff, let us now, by the supportation of the Lord, proceed to treat and write of the rest, who either in his time or after his time, springing out of the same university, and raised up, as ye would say, out of his ashes, were partakers of the same persecution; of whom speaketh Thomas Walden in his book, “De Sacramentis et Sacramentalibus,” cap. where he saith, that after Wickliff many suffered most cruel death, and many more did forsake the realm; in the number of whom were William Swinderby, Walter Brute, John Purvey, Richard White, William Thorpe, and Reynold Peacock, bishop of St. Asaph, and afterwards of Chichester.
To this catalogue also pertaineth (mentioned in ancient writers) Lawrence Bedman, 104 master of arts; David Sautre, a divine; John Ashwarby, vicar, as they call him, of St. Mary’s church at Oxford; William James, an excellent young man, well learned; Thomas Brightwell, and William Hawlain, a civilian; Rafe Greenhurst, John Scut, and Philip Norise; who, being excommunicated by pope Eugene IV., A.D. 1446, appealed unto a general or ecumenical council. *Many 124 more did forsake the realm, but what they were, or what kind of punishment they suffered, Walden left no mention.
But we will not suffer their names to be blotted out with silence, which we might by any means pick out; but sure we are greatly sorry that there came nothing else into our hands but only their bare names. Would to God that the constant diligence of our predecessors had preserved in memory for us the whole order of their life, the form of their process and judgment, and what was to be observed in their adversaries, or to be commended in them. Albeit, that matter were not greatly for our purpose, forsomuch as all those things could not be contained in a few volumes; and that also, by those few, it were easy to be judged what a man may think as touching the cruelty of the papists against all men.* Peter Paine 105 also, who flying from Oxford unto Bohemia, did stoutly contend against the sophisters, as touching both kinds of the sacrament of the last supper; who, afterwards, among the rest of the orators, was one of the fourteen that were sent unto the council,of Basil; where, by the space of three days, he disputed upon the fourth article, which was touching the civil dominion of the clergy, A.D. 1488. Also the lord Cobham; with divers others besides, whose names are mentioned in the king’s writ sent to the sheriff of Northampton, the tenor of which writ of the king here followeth:
The king to the sheriffs of Northampton, health. Forasmuch as John Attyate of Chepingwarden, John Warryner, R. Brewood, etc. being receivers and favorers of heretics, and especially of one John Woodward, priest, publicly defamed and condemned of heresy, will not be justified by the censures of the church, as the reverend father John, bishop of Lincoln, hath certified us: We, therefore, willing to withstand all defenders and favorers of such heresies, do will and command as well the beforenamed, as namely, the aforesaid John Woodward to be apprehended, straitly charging the same to be imprisoned by their bodies, or otherwise punished as shall seem good to the justices, until they and every of them shall submit themselves to the obedience of the aforesaid bishop in that behalf accordingly. Whereof fail you not, under pain of a hundred pounds. Witness ourselves: Given at our manor of Langley, the eighth day of March, the twelfth year of our reign. [ A.D. 1389.] To these above rehearsed, and other favorers of Wickliff, within this our country of England, we may add also the Bohemians; forasmuch as the propagation of the said doctrine of Wickliff in that country also took root, coming from England to Bohemia by this occasion, as in story here followeth.
There chanced at that time a certain student of the country of Bohemia to be at Oxford, one of a wealthy house, and also of a noble stock; 106 who returning home from the university of Oxford to the university of Prague, carried with him certain books of Wickliff, ‘De Realibus Universalibus,’ ‘De Civili Jure, et Divino,’ ‘De Ecclesia,’ ‘De Quaaestionibus Variis contra Clerum,’ etc. It chanced that at the same time a certain nobleman in the city of Prague had founded and built a great church of Matthias and Matthew, which church was called Bethlehem, giving to it great lands, and finding 107 in it two preachers every day, to preach both on holy days and working days to the people. Of the which two preachers John Huss was one; a man of great knowledge, of a pregnant wit, and excellently favored for his worthy life amongst them.
This John Huss having familiarity with this young man in reading and perusing these books of Wickliff, took such pleasure and fruit in reading thereof, that not only he began to defend this author openly in the schools, but also in his sermons, commending him for a good man, a holy man,and a heavenly man, wishing himself, when he should die, to be there placed, where the soul of Wickliff should be. And thus for the spreading of Wickliff’s doctrine enough.
And thus much briefly concerning the favorers and adherents of John Wickliff in general, *Amongs 1 the which his favorers I have only, as yet, rehearsed such, unto whom the profession of the gospel was perilous and an heavy burden; whom, notwithstanding, I thought not worthy to be defrauded of their praise: but now, we will convert our style unto those who, continuing unto the end, have followed the Lamb whithersoever he went, even unto the loss of their lives.
And here I am minded first of all, if the brevity of the matter would suffer it, somewhat to expostulate with the cruelty of the world; forsomuch as all mankind, having put apart all use of humanity, have so far degenerated even unto the iron age, or rather unto a brutal cruelty? that never, as I think, since the beginning of the world was Plautus proverb more verified, “one man is a wolf unto another;” but amongst all the wolves, they are most cruel which are clothed in lambs’ skins, which also do most profess peace.
In times past among the Israelites, and in the time of Christ, and his apostles, the worshipping and religion of God began to be altered unto pharisaical superstition; but now, the same pharisaical superstition, I know not by what means, amongst Christians, is grown into extreme tyranny. Albeit that a small portion of this incommodity or evil doth fall upon those, who, for the love of Christ, do suffer violence. For whereas all others are dead, they only do verily live again who die in Christ. This therefore is a most rare dignity which happeneth but unto a few, insomuch that if we do diligently weigh the matter, this only happiness hath our miserable life, if that it may happen to any man to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Wherefore St. Paul doth not unworthily command, that we should not only have steadfast hope through him, but also suffer affliction for his sake. For howsoever the judgments of men do esteem it, there is no truer life than that which is laid up in Christ as a gage, none more absolute renown than to be slain for the Son of God. But this glory doth not yet appear unto our human senses, which are overwhelmed with the filth of this world. But at the length it shall appear, and peradventure sooner than shall be expedient for some, except with speedy repentance they do wax wise and amend, which, that it may the better be brought to pass, suffer me a little by your license, gentle reader, to talk with these cruel bloodsuckers; whereby they, being admonished, may repent; or if they will not, that they may behold, to their great shame and rebuke, whether they will or no, their wicked cruelty and great slaughters, laid before them, as it were upon a stage. Surely it was a worthy saying of a jester, who was but a profane man, “that it is as unseemly for a prince to abound in tyranny, as for a physician to have many corpses.” What shall we then say unto these reverend prelates of the church: if they be princes, why do they bring in so great torments into the poor cottages of Christ; if they be physicians, how happeneth so great death amongst the sheep? But before I will take this quarrel in hand, I do once again admonish thee, gentle reader, of that which I must oftentimes repeat in this argument. First of all, that you do not interpret any thing which shall be here spoken, in such a manner as though I would maintain any unproved doctrine: for, as I do not favor heretics, who are heretics indeed, even so much less do I favor false bishops. And again, as I do give license unto neither of these, neither to the one, to use his tyranny, nor to the other, to proceed in his errors, so likewise do I not go about here, to take away the power of the civil sword, because it is not borne by the magistrate in vain. For they have their laws, their judges, and their punishments, necessary in a commonwealth, without which there should be no society, neither any discipline amongst men. But this my complaint doth only touch them, who professing a perfectness of spiritual life above all the rest of the common sort of the people, and who ought to be the masters of all pity and godliness, yet shall you scarcely find any men more venomous in hatred, anger, malice, avenging, and all kind of tyranny. Who was the first that brought in amongst Christians these recantations, faggots, and fire, and these lamentable funerals by burning of the live bodies of men, under the name of heretics? who, but only this flock of religious men and the clergy, whose part it had been rather to help those that had erred, and not to kill them, according to the example of their High Master, who came not to destroy, but to save all men: For it is never so certain amongst men’s opinions, but that oftentimes some error will intermeddle itself: the first purity of the church always excepted. Neither doth every error, by and by, make a man a heretic, except it have joined therewith an obstinate and froward will; neither do I know whether, in this point also, the extremities are to be attempted or no; but the quality of the heresy is to be marked, and the rule of the gospel is to be considered, what it doth require, and what is convenient for every man’s profession: the profession of a secular judge is one, the condition of an evangelical minister is another. As St. Augustine writeth in the psalm, “Aliud est sella terrena, aliud tribunal coeleste,” etc.
But our pseudo-evangelical papists, neither marking the quality of the one, nor the condition of the other, nor their own profession, neither looking upon one thing nor upon another, without all respect or difference, like furious Donarista, or homicides rather, under the cloak of religion, of every little word spoken against their pomp and ambitious pre-eminence, make a matter of heresy, whereby to murder and make havoc of Christ’s people.
What did the heart of Bonner, and of such of his affinity, differ from the heart of the strongest pirate, or homicide, murdering by the highway? yea insomuch that the very pirates themselves (if it be true that is reported of Bonner’s receiving into prison), be ashamed of his comparison, and to be counted of his society. And yet, neither pity can stay him from cruel bloodshed, nor shame can drive him to repent such horrible tyranny.
Wherein the case of these sicares and thieves yet may seem better, than of these catholics. For they, at the execution of God’s judgment, as they cannot dissemble their trespass, so are they sooner touched with repentance. The others, either with ignorance drowned, or choked with malice, as they have spoiled the life of many more than ever did any thief; so much more be they further of repenting their iniquity, but think that, good service done to God, which they have done to the devil, who is a murderer from the beginning: and think themselves good pastors, when they devoured the poor flock, and played the wolves. So dangerous a thing it is, to have an ignorant zeal, where true knowledge is wanting. Of these did Christ premonish as before, declaring the blind ignorance of such, who, of their preposterous zeal, should turn iniquity and cruelty to God’s service; and under the title of the church, should impugn the church, and of sincere verity, should make heresy.
But such as these never reigned more, or raged further, than in these latter days of the church, as the monuments of this history will declare: as who, having no regard of man’s life, make every matter spoken against their private commodity to be ‘heresy! heresy!’ In times past it was not accounted as a heresy, except it did contain blasphemy, and did bring in some great peril to the faith, or where the majesty of Christ was hurt: such as were the Donatists, Manicbees, Apollinarists, and Arians.
And notwithstanding the moderation of the bishops was such in those days, that they would not implore the emperor’s aid in this case, except the wickedness of those heretics, who filled all places full of slaughter and schism, did even of necessity force them thereunto. As it doth evidently appear by St. Augustine and divers others, who thought the requiring of the profane power not so necessary in such business; insomuch that he became an advocate unto Dulcitius the tribune, that he should put none of them to death. The like thing, as I suppose, did he unto Macedonins the president, considering with himself that they ought to use no other kind of weapon, in this kind of contention, than only the word of God, prayer, and doctrine; or if the evil were past remedy, then they used to exclude them out of the church. And if the said Austin afterward altered his mind, being led thereunto, rather by the success ensuing than by his own judgment: that helpeth little or nothing the cruelty of our men now-a-days.
For first of all, with what success the Babylonical fire-makers have exercised their tyranny upon the members of Christ, the matter itself doth sufficiently testify: then let us behold those against whom they did then so rage, what manner of Manicbees and Donatists they were; of whom no man is ignorant, that although they were called heretics, yet they were indeed furious robbers, and thieves, so that the matter now seemed no more to belong unto the office of the church, but rather to appertain to the tribunal power, albeit the church would wink thereat.
Whereby it is brought to pass, that through the perilous wickedness of the time, the bishops are driven to this point; that of force the emperor’s laws are to be received for help, and then these laws did threaten none other thing, but only death unto the captains of them, as it appeareth, in the book of the laws upon the Manichees and Samaritans. The disciples were punished by the purse; and such as, neglecting the laws of the princes, did obstinately persevere in their wickedness, banishment was appointed for them: besides that. at that time, there were no university-schools (as we call them) erected, to resist those mischiefs; whereas contrariwise now, there is almost no religion which is not armed and adorned with universities, whereby there may speedy remedy be had, if we be so greatly afeard of heretics. But what is now-a-days come in men’s minds, that— setting apart the universities and all kind of arguments, whereby as they might the more better, so also more easily, convince all errors, and finally forgetting all kind of meekness, the which Christ himself and his apostles do so greatly commend unto us, using no kind of reason—they do think that heretics must be intreated by no other means, than with torments, faggots, and fire! What profit cometh of the universities, when we do think that the truth is to be defended by no other means, than with bonds, stripes, chains, and torments, etc.? Thus we have alleged as touching heretics, as though they were the very same indeed, which they are now falsely accused to be.
Amongst so many, who, in these our days, have been burned, who is it that can show me only three, who either have wickedly taught, or openly spoken of God; who have detracted or taken away one so small a part of the divine nature of Christ; who have taught any blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, or, finally, who have untruly dissented in arty article of the faith? but all this filthy sink is troubled about certain circumstances of places, times, and persons, and of men’s traditions.
What cloth it so much make matter, if any man do truly worship Christ in heaven, although he do not worship him in the sacrament? What great; importance is it, if with Christ and Paul, we do call the bread the body of Christ, if we do not conceive with the school-men, the accident to be there without the subject? What if we do not disclose unto the priest the number of our sins, if that we, confessing ourselves truly unto Christ, do turn unto repentance? What if that we do forsake the trust of our works?
What if that we do contemn the pardon of bishops, and repose our whole righteousness and redemption in Christ, our only bishop? Is our faith therefore the less agreeable and conformable unto the articles given us by the apostles? What if that we, contemning the image of saints, do worship one only Christ in spirit and truth; shall we be any deal the less Christians therefore, or is not Christ alone sufficient for us all? The gospel teacheth only two sacraments, which alone, if a man do reverently embrace, setting apart all the others, which are sprung up by men’s institutions, what hurt shall Christianity sustain thereby? So likewise the Scripture of God doth not permit a concubine; but it doth license every man to have a wife, so that he have but one—whether then do you think doth bind most strictly, the will of God, or the vow of men? Or if that a priest, breaking his unlawful vow, had rather call her, with whom he had a long time accompanied, ‘wife,’ than ‘concubine;’ what! doth this deserve either punishment or prisonment? Neither do I think that thereby the regiment of the church or the order of the clergy, should come to ruin, if that one bishop of Italy setting apart his primacy, which no Scripture doth allow, were reduced unto the order of other bishops. And these are those great offenses of blasphemy, for the which one Christian is so exasperated against another, with so great fury and cruelty. Here again is the admonition to be renewed, which hath been so often before repeated, that we neither speak nor think any thing against the politic laws; but only against such, to whom it were convenient, for their profession, to be most meek of all men, and yet by nature they are most fierce and cruel. Their own constitutions declare the same in the fifth book of their Decretals, where it is commanded, that a heretic, convicted in any error (but how convicted? by authority rather than by the Scriptures!), should be delivered unto the secular power: neither is that yet sufficient that they do so imbrue the secular sword with blood, but that also, with their malice, they do sharpen and whet the same, which of itself is already sharp enough. The writers of the Gloss do also add this unto it, “to be burned.”
And these are they who will represent Christ unto us here upon earth, crying out oftentimes that all Christ’s doings are for our instruction. But if that all our life be to be directed unto Christ’s institutions; what thing less do his examples teach us, than such kind of cruelty, and especially in ministers, in whom he doth, with so great zeal, commend humility and meekness with mutual love, as the only knot of his gospel: wisely forbidding them, that in pulling up of the cockle, they should not be too rash, fearing lest peradventure that might come to pass, which now indeed hath happened: lest together with the cockle they pull up the good wheat also. Then what is there to be said, where, not only together with the cockle, but, instead of the cockle, the very wheat itself is plucked out of the floor of the Lord? How well that is correspondent unto Christ’s doings let they themselves judge.
I surely am greatly afraid that they will deserve, no great thanks at the hands of the Lord of the harvest, when he shall come to reward every man according to his doings. But in this point I do not plead as the advocate of the heretics, if there be any who are heretics indeed. Neither do I go about here to discuss how far the power of the civil sword doth extend, or what is lawful to be done by the civil constitutions. But truly, whatsoever the necessary severity of the civil power doth, yet the priests and rulers of the church ought always to use humility and gentleness, according to the example of Him, who would not compel any man to his religion. What saith he? “He that hath ears to hear let him hear:” yet doth he not by and by threaten death unto him that will not hear; neither doth he grievously threaten those who do depart away from him, as St. Cyprian witnesseth; but turning unto his disciples he said, “Will you also depart from me?” He came not to occupy any civil authority; and as he did not possess any civil authority, so neither did he deliver any man over unto the civil power.
Albeit it is not to be doubted but that it may happen sometimes, that the christian hierarchy shall need to call for the help of the magistrates (like as against the Donatists the help of the laws were very necessary), especially if the heresy do once grow on to tumult, schism, sedition, robbery, or to the ruin of the commonwealth; in such case I suppose the foreign magistrate ought to foresee that the commonwealth suffer no detriment.
Otherwise, if the heresy be such that it do contain itself within some private error, without passing any further, that same doth seem to pertain only unto the bishops and universities, neither do I greatly see what the civil power should meddle herein; for so heresies are more easily trodden down, being convicted rather by reason, than oppressed by violence. But now, these many years, they have raged against heretics with great hatred and extreme torments: but what they have profited thereby, every man doth perceive.
How much more circumspect and worthy of a christian man were it, if that they would walk in the footsteps, and follow the examples, of our forefathers, for our fathers in Christ desired rather to excel in learning, in tongues, in godliness, in the power of the word and Spirit, rather than in any worldly authority. So did Paul, Peter, and the apostles; so did the martyrs of the primitive age; so did the learned doctors and writers after them, whose learning and labor were great in the church, although their authority was but little, after the manner of this world. For such is the nature of the church, that as it is a spiritual regiment, so by spiritual means it is maintained. But now-a-days you shall see many who think there is no other means for defending the church against heretics, than the force and majesty of the bishops only: whereby it is come to pass that the ecclesiastical ministration is far alienated from that, which, in times past, was began in the world by Christ and his apostles; for now it is grown, as it were, to an image and form of a secular empire, and almost unto a kingly power and riches, and, in a manner, unto most extreme tyranny. But if our desire be so great to dissipate heresies, I see no speedier way or remedy, than that if the fathers of the church would diligently take heed that the church of Christ be not overwhelmed with such a number of articles; so should it soon be brought to pass, that not only the young branches of heresy should be easily cut off, wheresoever they begin to spring, but also, that in short time, there should no more spring or rise up. For, if we should say the truth, whereupon cometh it that the world is so full of dissension, but only that all things are so intricate, with so many articles, so many censures, cautions, and school pleas, neither is there any article which hath not its heresy annexed unto it, as the shadow unto a body; insomuch that the matter is now come unto this point, that nothing can now be spoken so circumspectly, but that it shall tend to some snare of heresy, or, at the least, suspicion. There are so many snares of constitutions and decrees, so many titles of reprehension and caption, specially where hitherto, instead of love and charity, which now is banished, I know not into what strange and far distant place, the fury Erinnys is come in place, the depraver of all things, filling all the world with her reproaches and slanders, even for a small occasion, and oftentimes for none at all. Wherefore, since all things are at this point, nothing in mine opinion is to be preferred to this, that we, being reconciled together with a mutual conjunction of our minds, do take away all occasion (as much as may be) of brotherly offense. Whereupon especially this mischief doth grow: if we do commit any heresy, whatsoever doth resist against men’s decrees, it were better that there were fewer articles in the world, and then the heresies would cease of their own accord. For hereupon began the first spring of all mischief, and at this point again, must the method of remedy be sought for. What if that the pope’s decrees did extend no further than Italy? What if there were nothing received into our necessary faith, which is contained in very few words, but only the articles of the apostolical symbols, as they were set forth by the most approved councils, what should the church, the spouse of Christ, be hindered thereby? Yet notwithstanding, for these trifles, we do see in every place old men, young men, and also women burnt, neither do they spare kindred, stock, nor age, insomuch that it is almost less danger to offend against the majesty even of the most mighty princes, than to violate the sanctions of any so mean a bishop. Whereof the storm and tempest of persecution hath been so vehement in these our days, that there is almost no part of Europe, which is not imbrued with the blood of the martyrs which hath been shed. And, albeit that their decrees do most consonantly agree unto the Scriptures (let us also grant them that), yet were it the part of divines to teach, and of tyrants to compel Now what is this—by violence to carry unto the fire for certain doubtful articles of controversy, some not greatly sound, or peradventure disagreeing from the Scriptures! nor only heretics, but, instead of heretics, the guiltless and innocents! Oh what marvellous folly is this of men, that while these tyrants daily do exercise this tyranny in the cottages of Christ, englutting themselves with men’s blood, they do triumphantly rejoice, as though they had done a high service unto God, and wrought a very good deed. Even in like sort, as in foreign wars of princes, it is counted great valiantness, whosoever can kill most of his enemies; so likewise this is the only renown and praise amongst the heads of the church, which of them hath shed most heretics’ blood. As we have heard report of John Stocksley, sometime bishop of London, that he did boast himself, even when he was at the point of death, giving thanks unto God with a loud voice, that he had sent thirty-one heretics unto the infernal fire! Verily these were words more fitted for a beast than for a man.
But let these men take heed that while they go about, by their own fantasies rather than by any just judgment, to put heretics to death, that the same thing do not happen unto them which in times past happened unto the Jews, who when they would have entered upon Christ as a seditious man, they stumbled upon the Son of God.
The which for that it may not come to pass, wisdom and learning chiefly in bishops, diminution of articles, judgment, an evangelical mind, gentleness, a zeal joined with knowledge, a care to save rather than to destroy men, a mind which attributeth nothing unto affection, but submitteth itself wholly unto the rule and governance of equity and the Scriptures, shall principally perform.
But heresy is altogether to be suppressed truly, neither shall heresy find any maintenance at my hands. This only do I require in these catholics, that if they will not use the apostolic moderation, yet they would use some civil modesty, and rather choose to try their matters by some reasonable means, than with such clamors and seditious rashness. I do require some moderation which will lawfully convince those whom it is wished to oppress. I require doctrine which should rather bridle the heresies, than the heretics. Let them rage so much as they will against the name of heretics, truly I think if these days which do seem scarcely christian, had six Jeromes, and as many Augustines, although it had no other help besides, I think the church should want no sufficient aid to put to flight the great heaps of heretics. But forasmuch as in this extreme cruelty of the world, when all charity is waxed so cold, I am not ignorant how small credit these things shall find at many men’s hands, like as also other counsels of moderations before mine have been neglected: wherefore it should be the best for me to leave these kind of men to their own will, rather than to sing unto such as are deaf, and so to lose both time and labor.
But now let us return unto the martyrs; but before we do enter into that lamentable story, we do think it worth our labor, to show first certain prophecies of sundry men, whereby so many great persecutions of the world were prefigured. And first to begin with Joiachim the abbot, we will rehearse what was found of him in an old monument of Hoveden: Thus he saith, “Richard, the king of England, in his expedition unto Jerusalem, hearing tell of the great fame of Joiachim of Calabria, abbot of Curazzo, who, by the spirit of prophecy, did foreshow things to come. What time as he sojourned at Sicily he caused the said abbot to be sent for to him, to hear of him, amongst other things more, what he could declare as touching Antichrist:: he then, expounding the mystery of the seven kings in the Revelation, whereof five were fallen, etc. said “The seven kings are seven persecutors, Herod, Nero, Constantinus, Mahomet, Melsemutus, Saladinus, and Antichrist.” But as touching Antichrist, he said thus, That even at that present he should be bred in Rome, and should be exalted in the apostolic see, of whom the apostle speaketh, ‘he is exalted above all things that is called God.’” Thus 3 much writeth Hoveden; and this abbot was in the year of our Lord 1190. There is also the prophecy of Hildegard (of whom we have spoken before), in the 29th book of Vincentius. “In the year,” saith she, “after the incarnation of Christ 1200, the doctrine of the apostles, and the fervent justice which God had appointed amongst spiritual Christians, shall begin to wax slack and doubtful; but this womanly time shall not so long continue as it hath hitherto continued.” Thus much writeth she. Neither did the archbishop Of Florence doubt openly to:preach that Antichrist was born in his days, A.D. 1105, as it appeareth by Sabellicus. 4 Also before these days, A.D. 1189, Gerardus, bishop of Laodicea, in his book intituled “De Conversatione Servorum Dei,” doth conjecture Antichrist to be even at hand by the rarity of prophesying and the gift of curing. 5 There is also a certain prophecy of Jerome Savonarola, 108 uttered (if it be worthy credit) 69 years ago, wherein he doth affirm in this manner, “that Italy should be plagued with the scourge of God for the manifold sins thereof, even amongst the princes, as well ecclesiastical as secular; and when the cities of Rome and Florence are overthrown then should the church be renewed, the which should happen very shortly; and that the Turks and Mauritaniaus in these our days should be converted unto the true knowledge of Christ.”
I think also it lacketh not his prophecy which happened A.D. 1 501, that throughout all Germany there was seen upon men’s garments, crosses, crowns of thom, the similitude of nails and drops of blood fallen from heaven: and oftentimes these fell within the houses, insomuch that many women wore the same long time upon their garments: if that be true which Gaspar doth report. Hereunto also is to be annexed that which we read in our countryman Froysard, as touching one John of Rochetaylada, a Franciscan friar; not that we have any certainty thereof, but that we do only show what is there written. He, in the year of our Lord 1346, is said to have foreshowed, that the ecclesiastical order should suffer much through their ambition, avarice and pride; whereupon, he was by pope Clement VI. cast into prison. 7 Neither is it to be passed over with silence, that which is reported, that Manfridus, a Dominic friar of Vercelli, is said to have foreshowed that Antichrist should rise up in his time, as it is written by Antoninus.
And Arnoldus de Villa Nova, 8 Catalanus, a singular mathematician and physician, did affirm out of Daniel and, Sibil, that Antichrist, after the year of our Lord 1300, should fully rage over the godly, and that there should be persecution in the church. He said moreover, that these cloister monks did falsify the doctrine of Christ. That the sacrifice of the altar was not profitable to the quick nor to the dead, neither that there was any knowledge in the pope’s consolations, but only of men’s works. At the last he was sent by Frederic, king of Sicily, to the bishop of Rome, where by the way upon the sea he died, and was buried at Genoa. I might also here rehearse the testimony of Peter John Aquitane, 9 a Franciscan friar in Gascony, who, after all the rest, prophesied that in the latter days the law of liberty should appear; who after his burial was by pope Clement IV. declared an heretic, and his dead corpse taken up and burned, if that we may credit Guido of Perpignan. 10 Then we may also repeat those things which so many years before were pronounced of divers, as touching the birth of Luther, and gathered out of Melancthon’s commentaries upon Daniel. These things thus presupposed, and those also remembered, whom this miserable storm of persecution hath afflicted, and driven unto recantation and the uttermost terror of death, now our story shall return to them, unto whom God hath given a greater constancy of heart, and steadfastness of faith, to persevere even unto the death; albeit I cannot promise the whole catalogue of them, forsomuch as there were so many christian martyrs in all parts of the world, whereof a great number were cornpassed in with craft and deceit, some were poisoned, others were tormented with open torments, many were oppressed with private and unknown murder and death, others died in prison, some by famine, and some, by other means, were openly and privately destroyed; that it is scarcely possible to attain to the knowledge of a small number of them, or if that it happen that I obtain the knowledge of the names of them, yet can I not by any means find out the manner of their execution, and the causes of all them who have suffered in so many and far distant places; neither do I think that one man is able to do it; albeit this one thing is most certain in them all, and may be as perpetual: that whatsoever thing hath happened unto any one of them, by the example thereof, you may easily judge what hath happened unto them all: for-somuch as the cruelty of all the bishops towards them hath been in a manner, all alike, the form of their judgments all one, the reason of their condemnation agreeing, and the order and kind of their death nothing different, neither were their causes greatly diverse, when, as in a manner from the superstition of the sacrament only, and a few other ceremonies, and the ambition of the clergy, the whole principal cause and occasion of this trouble, did spring and grow.* Now particularly and in order let us, by Christgrace, prosecute the stories and persecutions of the parties aforenamed as the course of their times shall require, first beginning with the valiant champions William Swinderby and Walter Brute.
THE STORY OF WILLIAM SWINDERBY. 111 In the year of our Lord 1389, William Swinderby, priest, within the diocese of Lincoln, being accused and detected as to certain opinions, was presented before John, bishop of Lincoln, and examined upon certain articles in the church, of Lincoln, after the form and order of the pope’s law, according to their usual rite observed; his denouncers were these: friar Frisby, an Observant; friar Hincely, an Augustine; and Thomas Blaxton, a Dominican. The articles wherewith they charged him, although in form of words, as they put them up, they might seem something strange here to be recited; yet, to the intent that all men may see the spiteful malice of these spider-friars, in sucking all things to poison, and, in forging that which is dot true, as in process (Christ willing) hereafter shall better appear by his answers, I thought good to notify the same.
That no priest entereth into any house, but to evil entreat the wife, the daughter, or the maid; and therefore he admonished the good man of the house to take heed what priest he doth let into his house.
Another conclusion falsely to him objected; That a child is not truly baptized, if the priest that baptizeth, or the godfather or godmother, be in deadly sin. Item, That no man living against the law of God is a priest, however he were ordained priest of any bishop.
These articles or conclusions untruly collected, were as cruelly exhibited against him by the friars in the bishop of Lincoln’s court. Although he had never preached, taught, or at any time defended them, as appeareth more in the process following, yet the friars with their witnesses standing forth against him, declared him to be convicted; bringing also dry wood with them to the town to burn him, and would not leave him before they had made him promise and swear, through fear of death, never to hold them, teach them, or preach them privily or openly, under pain of relapse; and that he should go to certain churches to revoke the aforesaid conclusions, which be never affirmed: as first in the church of Lincoln; then in St.
Margaret’s church in Leicester; also in St. Martin’s church in Leicester, and in our Lady’s churches at Newark, 112 and in other parish-churches also, namely, those of Melton-Mowbray, Helhoughton, Hareborough, and Lentborough: which penance being enjoined him, he did obediently accomplish, with this form of revocation, which they bound him to, in these words.
THE REVOCATION OF WILLIAM SWINDERBY, WHEREUNTO HE WAS FORCED BY THE FRIARS.
I, William Swinderby, priest, although unworthy, of the diocese of Lincoln, acknowledging one true catholic and apostolic faith of the holy church of Rome, do abjure all heresy and error, repugning to the determination of the holy mother church, whereof I have been hitherto infamed; namely, the conclusions and articles above prefixed, and every one of them, to me judicially objected by the commissary of the reverend father in Christ and lord, lord John, by the grace of God, bishop of Lincoln, and do revoke the same, and every one of them, some as heretical, others as erroneous and false; and do affirm and believe them to be so, and hereafter will never teach, preach, or affirm publicly or privily the same. Neither will I make any sermon within the diocese of Lincoln, but asking first and obtaining the license of the aforesaid reverend father and lord, the bishop of Lincoln. Contrary to which if I shall presume hereafter to say or do, to hold or preach, I shall be content to abide the severity of the canon, as I have judicially, by the necessity of the law, sworn, and do swear, etc.
Thus have you the conclusions and articles of this good man, falsely objected to him by the malicious and lying friars; and also the retractation, whereunto they by force compelled him; whereby it may likewise be conjectured, what credit is to be given to the articles and conclusions which these cavilling friars, wresting all things to the worst, have objected and imputed both to Wickliff, and all others of that sort, whom they so falsely do infame, so slanderously do belie, and so maliciously do persecute. After these things thus done and wrought in the diocese of Lincoln, it so befell that the said William Swinderby removed to the diocese and county of Hereford; where he was again, as much or more molested by the friars, and by John Trefnant, bishop of Hereford, 113 as by the process and story here ensuing, set out at large out of their own registers, may appear.
The glorious name of the Prince of Peace, and his counsel (whose counsellor no man is, and whose providence in his disposition is never deceived) being invocated, To all and singular believers of Christ, who shall see or hear this our process underwritten, John, by the sufferance of God bishop of Hereford, greeting, and peaceable charity in the Lord. Forasmuch as God, the creator of all things, the keeper of justice, the lover of right, and the hater of malice, beholding from the high throne of his providence the sons of men, now, through the fall of their first father, prone and declining to dishonest, and filthy, and detestable mischiefs, and to keep under their malice, which wicked transgression did first gender, hath appointed divers presidents of the world established in sundry degrees, by whom, and their circumspect, providence, man’s audacity should be restrained, innocency should be nourished amongst the good, and terror should be stricken into the wicked not to deceive; also that their power to hurt, and their insolency should be bridled in all places: and whereas, amongst many kinds of cares which come to our thoughts, by the duty of the office committed unto us, we are specially bound to extend our strength, chiefly that the catholic faith may prosper in our times, and heretical pravity may be rooted from out of the borders of the faithful. We, therefore, being excited through the information of many credible and faithful Christians of our diocese, to root out pestiferous plants, as sheep diseased with an incurable sickness, going about to infect the whole and sound flock, are by the care of the shepherd to be removed from the flock, that is to say, preachers, or more truly execrable offenders of the new sect, vulgarly called Lollards; who, under a certain cloked show of holiness, running abroad through divers places of our diocese, and endeavoring to cut asunder the Lord’s unsewed coat, that is to say, to rend the unity of the holy church, and of the catholic faith, and also to tear in pieces! with their tempestuous blasts the power of St. Peter, that is to say, to weaken the strength of the ecclesiastical states and degrees, and the determination of: the same holy church, have wickedly presumed, and do presume, from day to day, to speak, to teach, to maintain, and, that which is more horrible to be uttered, to preach openly many things heretical, blasphemies, schisms, and slanderous defamings, even quite contrary to the sacred canons and decrees of the holy fathers, so that they know not to direct their paths in the ways of righteousness and truth, in that they expound to the people the holy Scripture as the letter soundeth, after a judaical sort, otherwise than the Holy Ghost will needs have it, where the words wander from their proper significations, 12 and appear to bring in, by guessing, new meanings; whereas the words must not be judged by the sense that they make, but by the sense whereby they be made; where the construction is not bound to the Donates’ rules, where faith is far placed from the capacity of reason; but they labor, by their pernicious, doctrines and teachings, public and privy, to boil out the poison of schisms between the clergy and the people. We, to encounter against such kind of preachers, nay rather deceivers, and horrible seducers amongst the people, advancing and rousing up ourselves in God’s behalf, and that of holy mother church, with the spiritual sword, which may strike them wisely, and wound them medicinally, 13 for their health and welfare; and namely, William Swinderby, priest (so pretending himself to be), as a teacher of such kind of pernicious doctrine, and a horrible seducer among the people; to whom personally appearing before us on the Wednesday, to wit, the fourteenth of the month of June, in the parish church of Kingeton of our diocese, in the year of our Lord 1391, he being vehemently defamed to us of heresy, schism, and his perverse doctrines both manifest and privy; we, therefore, have caused many cases and articles concerning the catholic faith to be ministered unto him, that he should answer to the same at a day and place for him meet and convenient, of his own choice and free will; that is to say, on the Friday, being the last of the same mouth of June next following, assigned to him, at the church of Bodenham of the same our diocese: which cases and articles were exhibited to us by many of Christ’s faithful people, 14 zealous followers of the catholic faith, who made information to our office; which cases and articles also were by us administered, as is before said, to the same William Swinderby; the tenor thereof followeth, and is thus:
MATTERS ARTICULATED AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
Reverend father and high lord, lord John, by God’s sufferance bishop of Hereford: it is lamentably declared unto your reverend fatherhood on the behalf of Christ’s faithful people, your devout children of your diocese of Hereford, that notwithstanding the misbelief of very many Lollards, who have too long a time sprung up here in your diocese, there is newly come a certain chad of wickedness, named William Swinderby; who, by his horrible persuasions and mischievous endeavors, and also by his open preachings and private teachings, doth pervert, as much as in him is, the whole ecclesiastical state, and stirreth up, with all his possible power, schism between the clergy, and the people. And that your reverend fatherhood may be the more fully informed, who and what manner of man the same William Swinderby is, there be proposed and exhibited hereafter to the same your fatherhood, on the behalf of the same faithful people of Christ, against the same William Swinderby, cases and articles; which if the same William shall deny, then shall the same cases and articles most evidently be proved against him by credible witness worthy of belief, and by other lawful proof and evidences, to the end that those being proved, the same fatherhood of yours may do and ordain therein, as to your pastoral office belongeth.
Imprimis , the same William Swinderby, pretending himself priest, was openly and publicly convicted of certain articles and conclusions being erroneous, schismatical, and heretical, preached by him at divers places and times, before a multitude of faithful christian people. And the same articles and conclusions did he by force of law revoke and abjure, some as heretical, and some as erroneous and false; avouching and believing them for such, as that from thenceforth he would never preach, teach, or affirm, openly or privily, any of the same conclusions: and if, by preaching or avouching, he should presume to do the contrary, that then he should be subject to the severity of the canons, accordingly as he did take a corporal oath, judicially, upon the holy gospels.
II. Also the conclusions, which by the same William were first openly taught and preached, and afterwards abjured and revoked, as is aforesaid, are contained before in the process of the bishop of Lincoln, even as they be there written word by word. And for the cases and articles, they were consequently exhibited by the beforenamed faithful christian people against the said William Swinderby, together with the conclusions before said, and hereafter written: of which cases and articles the tenor here ensueth. [See the Eleven Articles at p. 107, pp. 113-116, and p. 133.] III. Item, The said William, contrary to the former revocation and abjuration, not converting to repentance, but perverted from ill to worse, and given up to a reprobate sense, came into your diocese; where, runnmg about in sundry places, he hath presumed to preach, or rather to pervert and to teach, of his own rashness, many heretical, erroneous, blasphemous, and other slanderous things contrary and repugnant to the sacred canons, and the determination of the holy catholic church. What those things were, at what place and what time, shall hereafter more particularly be declared.
IV. Item, The same William, notwithstanding your commandments and admonitions sealed with your seal, and to all the curates of your diocese directed, containing amongst other things that no person of what state, degree, or condition soever he were, should presume to preach or to teach, or expound the holy Scripture to the people, either in hallowed or profane places within your diocese, without sufficient authority, by any manner or pretense that could be sought, as in the same your letters monitory, and of inhibition, the tenor whereof, hereafter ensueth, is more largely contained; which letters the same William did receive into his hands, and did read them word by word in the town of Monmouth of your diocese, in the year of our Lord 1390, so that these your letters, and the contents thereof, came to the true and undoubted knowledge of the same William; yet, notwithstanding, hath the same William presumed in divers places and times to preach within the same your diocese, after and against your commandment aforesaid.
THE TENOR OF THE SAME LETTERS BEFORE MENTIONED FOLLOWETH, AND IS THIS:
John, by the sufferance of God bishop of Hereford, to the dean and chapter of our church of Hereford, and to all and singular abbots, priors, provosts, deans rural, parsons and vicars of monasteries, priories, churches, colleges, and parishes, and to others having cure of souls within the city and diocese of Hereford, and to all and every other being within the same city and diocese, greeting, grace, and blessing. Forasmuch as the golden laurel of teaching doctoral is not from above indifferently every man’s gift; neither is the office of preaching granted save to such as are called, and especially by the church admitted thereunto: we do admonish and require you, all and singular clerks aforesaid, and do straitly enjoin you all, in the virtue of holy obedience, that neither you nor any of you do admit any man to preach or to teach the catholic faith, saving such as the same office of preaching shall, by the authority apostolical, or else your bishop, be specially committed unto; but that as much as in you shall lie, you do by word and deed labor to let those that would attempt the contrary. And you, lords, ladies, knights, barons, esquires, and all, and singular persons, of what estate, degree, pre-eminence, or condition soever ye be, remaining within the city and diocese of Hereford, we do beseech and exhort in our Lord, that, following the words of our Savior, you beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Item, According to the saying of the apostle, “Be not ye carried away with divers and strange doctrines;” and that in the meanwhile, as saith the apostle, you be not removed from the sense of the holy ancient fathers, lest that any man by any means should seduce you; but you, agreeing together in one mind, see that you honor God with one mouth. But if any men to whom that thing is not speciailly, as is aforesaid, committed, shall attempt to instruct, or in this your life to direct you into the catholic faith, do ye deny to give them audience, and refuse you to be present at their assemblies, and shun ye their teachings, because they be wicked and perverse. And as for us, we will not omit to proceed, according to the sacred canons and precepts of the holy fathers, against such as do the contrary.
V. Item, The same William, in his preaching to the people on Monday the first of August, in the year of our Lord 1390, in the parish of Whitney of your diocese, did hold and affirm, that no prelate of the world, of what estate, preeminence or degree soever he were, having cure and charge of souls, he being in deadly sin, and hearing the confession of any under his hand, in giving him absolution, doth nothing: as who neither doth loose him from his sin, nor in correcting or excommunicating him for his demerits, cloth bind him by his sentence, except the prelate shall be free himself from deadly sin, as St.
VI. Items . The same William in many places said and affirmed, in the presence of many faithful christian people, that after the sacramental words uttered by the priest having the purpose to consecrate, there is not made the very body of Christ in the sacrament of the altar.
VII. Item, That accidents cannot be in the sacrament of the altar without a subject; and that there remaineth material bread there to such as be partakers, ‘concomitanter’ 15 with the body of Christ in the same sacrament.
VIII. Item, That aimest being in deadly sin, cannot be able by the strength of the sacramental words to make the body of Christ, or bring to perfection any other sacrament of the church, neither yet to minister it to the members of the church.
XI. Item, Inferior curates have not their power of binding and loosing mediately from the pope 114A or bishop, but immediately from Christ: and therefore neither the pope nor bishop can revoke to themselves such kind of power, when they see time and place at their lust and pleasure.
XII. Item, That the pope cannot grant such kind of annual and yearly pardons, because there shall not be so many years to the day of judgment, as are in the pope’s bulls, or pardons contained: whereby it followeth, that the pardons are not of such like value as they speak of, and are praised to be.
XV. Item, That it stands not in the power of any prelate, of what religion soever he be, privately to give letters for the benefit of his order, neither doth such benefit granted, profit them, to the salvation of their soul, to whom they be granted.
XVI. Item, That the same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath, many and oftentimes, come into a certain desert wood, called Dervaldwood, of your diocese, and there, in a certain chapel not hallowed, or rather in a profane cottage, hath, in contempt of the keys, presumed of his own rashness to celebrate, nay rather to profanate.
Upon Friday, being the last of the month of June, in the year above said, 16 about six of the clock, in the said parish church of Bodenham, hath the said William Swinderby personally appeared before us. And he, willing to satisfy the term to him assigned, as before specified, hath read out word by word before all the multitude of faithful christian people, many answers made and placed by the same William in a certain paper-hook of the sheet folded into four parts to the said articles, and the same answers for sufficient hath he to us exhibited, avouching them to be agreeable to the law of Christ. Which thing being done, the same William (without any more with him) did depart from our presence, because that we, at the instance of certain noble personages, had promised to the same William free access; that is, to wit, on that day for the exhibiting of those answers, and also free departing without prefixing of any term, or without citation, or else any other offense or harm in body or in goods.
As for the tenor of the same answers, exhibited unto them by the same William, as is before specified, we have hereunder annexed it word for word, and in the same old language used at that time, when it was exhibited. And it followeth in these words.
THE PROTESTATION OF WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
With his Answers to the Articles by the Promoters laid against him, to the Bishop of Hereford, taken out of the Registers in the same old English, wherein he wrote it.
In the name of God, amen. I William Swinderby, priest, vnworthy, couenting and purposing, wholie with all my hart, to be a true christian man, with open confession knowledging mine owne defaults and vnwise deedes; making openlie this protestation, cleping God to record here Before our wershipful bishop John, through the sufferance of God Bishop of Hereford, with witnesse of all this people, that it is not mine intent any thing to say or affirme, to maintaine or to defend, that is contrarie to holie writte, against the beliefe of holie church, or that shoulde offend the holie determination of Christe’s church, or the true sentences of holie doctors. And if I halle here before, through mine vncunning, been vnordered, or, by euill counsaile, bene deceiued, or anie thing saide, preached, holden, maintained, or taught, contrarie to the lawe of God, whollie and fullie for that time for now and euer with full will I reuoke it and withdraw it, as euerich christen man should: praying and beseeching eche christen man, to whom this writing shall come, that gif I ought erre (as God forbid that I doe), or euer erred in anie point, contrarie to holie writ, that it be had and holden of them, as for thing nought said. And all the trothes that I haue said according with ye law of God, that they maintaine them and stand by them, for life or death, to Gods worship, as a true christen man should, submitting me meeklie to the correction of our bishop that here is, or of any other christen man, after Christes lawes and belie writ; in will euer readie to be amended, and, with this protestation, I say and answere to these conclusions and articles that here followen after, the which bene put to me to aunswere to.
The first is this: That I William of Swinderby, pretending (he saith) my selfe a priest, was iudiciallie conuented of certaine articles, and conclusions of error, false, schimaticke, and heresie, by me, in diuers places and times, preached (hee saith) before multitudes of true christen men: and the same articles and conclusions, by need of law reuoked and forsworn, some as heresies, and some as errours and false: and such I affirmed and beleeued them to be. And that none of them from that time forth I should preach, teach, or affirme, openly or priuilie, ne that I should make no sermon to the people, ne preach but by lawfull leaue asked and gotten. And if I would presume in doing or affirming the contrary, then to the seueritie of the lawe I should be buxom, 17 as by nede of the lawe I swore.
To this I say, witnessing God that is in heauen to my wit and vnderstanding, that I neuer preached, held, ne taught, these conclusions and articles, the which falsly of friers were put vpon me, and of lecherous priestes to the bishop of Lincolne. For I was ordained by processe yersaid, 18 of their law, by the bishop and his commissaries, so as I graunted them to bring my purgation of thirteen priestes of good fame. And so I did, with a letter, and twelve scales thereby, from the mayor of Leycester, and from true burgesses, and thirty men to witnesse with me, as the duke of Lancaster knew and heard, the earle of Darby, and other many great men that were that time in the towne, that I neuer said them, taught them, ne preached them. But when I should haue made my purgation, there stooden forth flue friers or moe, that some of them neuer saw me before, ne heard me, and three lecherous priestes openlie knowen, some lieuing in their lecherie twenty yeare (men sayden) or more, as, by their childer, was openly knowen. Some of these they clepinden denounciations, and some weren cleped cornprobations, that weren there falslie forsworne, they suing busilie and crying, with manie an other frier, with great instance to glue the dome vppon me, to hume me, and boughten drie wood before, as men tolden in that towne and these sleights, and swearing, and money gluing, as men saiden, with fanor of the bishop (by what laweI wot not, but sothly not by Gods law), they saiden, they held me as conuicted, and might not haue forth my purgation. So as I fullie forsooke them, and neuer granted that! said them. Ouer this they made me sweare neuer to hold them, teach them, ne preach them, priuilie ne apertlie: and that I would go to certaine churches to reuoke the conclusions which I neuer said, in sclaunder of my selfe, by great instance of the friers. And so for dred of death and for fleshlie counsell that I had,I assented, and so I did. And also they maden me to sweare, that I should not preach (by instance of the fliers) within that diocesse, withouten licence asked and granted, and neuer sithen I did. And now the same conclusions bene rehearsed to me againe: vhether by friers counsell I will not deme, God wet, but in slaunder of me it is: and therefore I will answere now (with God’s helpe) to the conclusions, of the which the first is this: That men mowen asken thir debts by charitie, but in no maner for debt to imprison any man: and that hee so emprisoning, is accursed.”
So I said not; but thus I haue said, and yet say with protestation put before: That whoso pursues his brother with malice, prisoning him cruellie for debt without mercie that faine would pay it if he might: he sinneth against Christe’s teaching, ‘Estote misericordes, sient pater vester misericors est.’
The second conclusion that false friers and lecherous priests putten vpon me was this: That if the parochiens know her curate to bene a lechour, incontinent, and an euill man, they owen to withdraw from him tithe; and else they bene fautours of his sinnes.
Thus I said not, but on this wise, and yet I say with protestation put before: That if it be knowne openlie to the people, that parsons or curates come to their benefice by simonie, and liuen in notorie fornication, and done not their office and her duties to her parochiens by good ensample of holie life, in true preaching, liuing and residence, wending awaie from his cure, occupied in secular office, he owes nought to haue of the parochiens, tithes, ne offringes, ne hem owes not to holde him for their curate, ny hem owes not to geuen him tithes, lest they bin guiltie to God of consent and maintaining of her open sinne. Causa 1 quaest. 1 cap. 5. ‘Nemo militans deo, implicat se negotiis secularibus.’ 1 quest. ca. Quisquis per pecuniam, and dist. 81. cap. 10. ‘Si quis.’
The third conclusion was this, that friers and priestes putten upon me: That tithes purely bene almesses: and in case that curates bene euill men, they mowen leefullie be giuen to other men by temporall lords, and other temporalties bene done away from men of the church actuallie and openlie trespassing. This I said not in these terms, but thus I sale with protestation made before: That it were medefull and leefull 115 to secular lords by waie of charitie and power geuen to hem of God—in default of prelates that amend not by Gods lawe cursed curates that openlie misusen the goods of holy church that ben poor mens goods, and customablie against the law of God, (the which poore men lordes ben holden to maintaine and defend)—to take away and withdrawe from such curates poore mens goods, the which they wrongfullie holden, in helpe of the poore, and their owne wilful offeringes, and their bodily alines deeds, and geue them to such that dulie serue God in ye church and beene needy, in vpbearing of the charge that prelats shoulden doe, and done it not. ‘Alter alterius onera portate, et sic adimplebitis legem Christi.’ And as anentes taking awaie of temporalities I say thus with protestation made before: That it is leefull to kings, princes, dukes, and lordes of the worlde, to take awaie fro popes, cardinals, fro bishops and prelates, possessions in the church, their temporalties, and their almes that they halle giuen them vpon condition they shoulden serue God the better, vhen they verelie sene that their gluing and their taking bene contrarie to the lawe of God, to Christes liuing and his apostles: and namelie in that, that they taken vppon them (that shoulden be next followers of Christ and his apostles in poorenesse and meeknesse) to be secular lords: against the teaching of Christ and saint Peter. Luc. 22:‘Reges gentium.’ Et I Pet. 5 ‘Neque, dominantes in clero.’ And namelie when such temporalties maken them the more proud, both in heart and in araie, then they shoulden bene else, more in strife and debate against peace and chafftie, and in euill ensample to the world more to be occupied in worldly businesse: ‘Omnem solicitudinem proiicientes in eum;’ and drawes them from the seruice of God, from edifying of Christes church, in empouerishing and making lesse the state and the power of kinges, princes, dukes, and lords that God hath set them in; in wrongfull oppression of commons for vnmightfulnesse of realmes. For Paul saith to men of the church (vhose lore, prelates shoulden soueraignlie followen), ‘Habentes victum et vestitum, hiis contenti simus.’ The fourth conclusion is this, that friers and priests putten vpon me falselie: That an euill curate cursing his soget for withholding of tithes, is naught else, but to take with extortion wickedlie and vndulie money from them.
Thus said I not, but thus I snide, and yet doe with protestation made before: That an euill curate cursing his parochiens, vnmightie to pay their tithing, with vengeance without pitie, for his singular worldlie winning against charitie, and not for heed of their soules, there he is hold by his power reasonablie to helpe his needy parochiens, and dooth nought of the goods of the church: wickedlie and vndulie he withholds from them, that vhich is due to them by the law of God: ‘Dimittite et dimittetur vobis: date, et dabitur vobis: verum mihi vindictam, et ego retribuam dicit Dominus. 19 The rift conclusion is this, that friers and priests falsly putten vpon me:
Thus said I not, but thus I said, and say with protestation put before: that no man ought to curse any man, but for charity and with charitie, ‘Omnia vestra cum charitate fiant.’ And sikerly I say, that no wrongfull cursing of pope or any prelate in earth, bindes anentes God, but when they wrongfully and wittinglie cursen men, for that men will not do their singular will, vnreasonable bidding, with highnes of heart and crueltie (standing patience and charity in them that they cursen wrongfully), he is blessed of Almightie God, and they themselfe bene cursed. Math. 5. “Beati eritis cum maledixerint homines,’ etc. Et in Psalmo: ‘Maledicent illi, et tu benedices.’ Et Augustinus, 11 quest. 3. chap. ‘Illud.’
The sixt conclusion is this, that friers and priestes putten vpon me falselie: That each priest may assoile him that sinneth, contrition had: and notwith- standing forbiddings of ye bishop, is holden 20 to preach to the people the gospell. Thus I saide not, but thus I said, and yet say with protestation made before: That each true priest may counsell sinnefull men, that shewen to him her sinnes after the witte and cunning that God had giuen him, to turne fro sinne to vertuous life. And as touching preaching of the gospel, I say that no bishop owes to let a true priest, that God had giuen grace, wit, and cunning to doe that office: for both priestes and deacons, that God had ordained deacons and priestes, ben holden by power giuen hem of God to preach to the people the gospel, and namelie and somelie, popes, bishops, prelates, and curates: for this is due to the people and parochiens, for to haue and aske of hem, and they duely and freely owen to done it. Math. 10. Luke 10. ‘Ire, ecce ego mitto vos.’ Et Marc. 16. ‘Euntes in mundum vniuersum.’ Et. Math. 10. ‘Euntes autem praedicate.’ Et Dist. 21. cap. ‘In nouo testamento.’ Et Ysidor. ‘De summo bono.’ 44. Et Chrysost. Causa 11 q. 3. cap. 86, ‘Nolite.’ Et. Aug. Causa 11 q. 3. cap. 80, ‘Quisquis.’ Et. Greg. in suo Pastorali, cap. 38. Et in Toletano [Dist. 38. cap. 1] cap. ‘lgnorantia.’ Et Ierom. Distinct. 95. cap. ‘Eece Ego.’
This said I neuer in these termes; but thus I said, and yet say with pro- testation put before: That no priestes owes to sell, by bargaining and couenant, his ghostlie trauaile, ne his masses, ne his praiers, ne God’s worde, ne hallowinges, baptisme, ne confirming, order gluing, for weddinges, for shrifte, for housell, or for ennointing: any worldly mens reward to aske or take for these or for anie of these, or for ianie ghostlie thing, he erres and doth simonie: ut patet 1. quest. 2. ca. ‘Nullus;’ et ex concilio Triburenti. capit. ‘Dictum est;’ et Christus, in Euangelio’. Vendentes et ementes eiecit, de templo. Mathhew 22.
The 8 concluson is this, that friers and priestes putten vnto me falsly,saying that I beleeue sadly as my sell sayes: That yche priest being in deadlysinne, yef he put him to make Christes bodle, rather he dos idolatrie then makes it. Thus saide I not, but thus I said, and yet say with a protestation put before: That vhat priest ye puts himself presumptuously and vnworthelie in deadlie sinne, wittingly to minister and to receiue that holie sacrament, and so recordes hit cursedlie and damnably, he receiues his dome: ‘Qui manducat et bibit indigne, iudicium sibi manducat et bibit.’ 1.
The 9 conclusion is this, that friers and priestes falsly putten vppon, me: That no priestes entres into anie house but euill for to treate the wife, the daughter, or the wenche: and therefore they sayden, that I prayed the people that their husbands should beware, that they suffer no priest to enter into her house.
And if I had said thus, then I had praied against my selfe, for I come oft into mens houses: but thus I said, and yet I doe, praying christen men to beware that they nourish nor maintaine no lecherous priestes in their sinnes: for there be vhere (as men wel knowen) they ben maintained in manie places, continuing homelie with her women. And iche man there sayne they paine therefore a certaine to the B. almes. Et ideo ait Ysido. 11. quest. 4. ‘Qui consentit peccantibus et defendit alium delinquentem, maledictus erit apud Deum et homines.’
The 10 conclusion is this, that friers and priestes putten uppon me falslie: That a childe is not verelie baptised, if the priest that baptiseth, the godfather, or the godmother, ben in deadlie sinne.
God wot in heauen they said full false; but thus I said, and yet I say: that the praiers that an euill, priest praies (liuing in lecherie or other deadlie sinne) ouer the child when it shal be halowed, ben not acceptable to God as ben the praiers of a good priest. And the better and clenner the priest is, the godfather, and the godmother, the more graciously God will heare him, if all they ben not greatest nor most rich in the world. Vnde Caus. 3 q. 7. cap. ‘In grauibus; ‘Cure is qui displicet ad intercedendum peccator admittitur, irati animus procul dubio ad deteriota prouocatur.’
Certes this is false, for I said neuer thus in these termes: but thus I said, and thus I say with a protestation put before: That what euerie pope, or cardinal, bishop or priest, or any prelate of the church, comes to his state or dignitie by simonie, and in simonie occupies that office, and holy churches goodes: I say that hee is a theere, and that by the dome of God, and comes but to steale and kill. Ioh. 10. ‘Fur non venit nisi vt furetur, et mactet, et perdat.’
And furthermore I say, that what pope, cardinall, bishop, prelate, or priest, in manner of liuing, or teaching, or lawes making, contrarie to Christes liuing and his lawes, or anie other ground, put in ruling of the church of Christ, but by Christ and his lawes is very Antichrist, aduersarie to Jesus Christ and his apostles. ‘Aliud fundamentum nemo potest ponere, praeter id quod positum est, quod est Christus.’ Et patet 1 quaest. 3 c. ‘Si quis.’ Et 1 quaest. c. ‘Ego autem.’ ‘Quicunq.’
But this worshipfull father bishop of Hereford, that here is, sayes thus in his writing: That I William of Swinderby, notwithstanding the foresaid reuocation and abiuration (not setting at heart, but from euill to worse, he sales, peruerted so his dioces) he sales I come running about by diuers places; and by mine owne follie, he sales, that I haue presumer to preach many heresies, errours, blasphemies, schismes, and other diffames, and to holie canons and determination of holy church contrarie and repugnant, which where and when, within forth more speciallie it shall be shewed forth, that ye bee falsely enformed, ye I halle presumed in diuers places in your dioces to preach heresies, errors, blasphemies, schismes and other diffames. And sire, all the country knowes whether this be sooth or not: for sire, I presume not, sithen it is the office of a priest, by the lawe of Christ, to preach the gospell; ne nought I did for presumption; but for the charge that I haue of God by priesthood (if all I be unworthie), and to the worship of God, and helpe of christen soules, freely, without gathering of her goods, for my preaching. If I erred in this, I will bee amended. And sire, touching your mandement that ye senden to me, there was sent none. And sire, I made neuer yet disobedience vnto you, ne to your ministers: and yef all I had, me owes more to obeyche to God then to you, in that that ye bidden contrarie to Christes bidding. And sire, as ye saine that I had no mind of my hele, it is to lightlie demet: for God forbid, but yef there lie hele more then in your bidding. For God wot for hele I did it, of mine and of the people, and that was in my minde. But sire, it semes me that ye charge not, by euidence of the punishing, so greatlie the breaking of Gods hests, as ye done of your own. And sire, if it be your wil, in default that the people wanted you to teach hem (and her curates did not), by the desire of the people that weren hungrie and thirsty after Gods word, ichone to beare vp others charge as Gods law bids, I preached: not for disobedience to you; but sire, in fulfilling of the obedience that Gods law bids me doe. In excusing of my selfe to you of that ye blaine me of, in open shewing to holie church, with the protestation that I first made, I answere thus to the articles that ye have put to me.
The first is this: That I William of Swinderby, the Monday the first of August, the year of our Lord 1390, preaching to the people in the church of Witney of your dioces, helde and affirmed (as ye saine) that no prelate of the world, of what state or degree that he be, hauing cure of soules, being in deadlie sinne, and hearing confession of his suget, does nought in assoiling him, ne he assoiles him not of his sinne: and also, in amending his suget openlie sinning, and him for his desertes cursing, his sentence bindes not, but if that prelate be as clean out of deadlie sinne as was saint Peter, to whome our Lorde gaue power of binding and vnbinding.
I neuer thought this ne spake this, ne heard it to the time that I saw it written in our booke, and that will witnesse the lord of the towne that has the same sermon written, and many gentils and other that hearden me that daie 21 ; but thus I said, and thus I saie with protestation put before: That there is no man, pope ne bishoppe, prelate ne curate, that bindes soothlie, verilie and ghostly, but in as much as his binding or vnbinding accordes with the keyes of heauen that God gaue to Peter; and, as S. Gregorie saies, ‘That power han they onlie, that hold together the ensample of the apostles with heere teaching.’ ‘Illi soli in hac carne positi ligandi atque soluendi potestatem habent, sicut sancti apostoli qui eorum exempla simul cum doctrina tenent.’ The seconde article that is put vpon me, is this: That I should haue saide, preached, and affirmed, in manie places, before many true men of Christ: that after the sacramentall wordes saide of the priest, hauing intention of consecration, that in the sacrament of Gods bodie, is not verie Gods bodie.
This saide I neuer, God wote, and true men that haue heard me.
The third article is this, that our bishop put vpon me: That I should haue said in many places, and affirmed, that accidents mow not be in the sacrament of the aultar without subiect, and that materiall bread leues not there with Gods bodie in the same sacrament. This conclusion I haue not holden, ne taught, ne preached, for I haue not medled me of that matter; my wit sufficeth not thereto. But hereI tell my beleefe with protestation put before: that the sacrament of the aultar made by vertue of heauenly words, that Christ himselfe said in the Cene, when hee made this sacrament, that it is bread and Christs bodie, so as Christ himselfe sales in the gospell, and S. Paule saies, and as doctors in the common law haue determined to this sentence. Matthew 26. Mark 14. Luke 22. Pa. 1. Corinthians 10. et 11. De consecr, distinct. 2. ‘Panis:’ et De consecr, dist. 2. ‘Corpus.’ Io. 6. ‘Verus panis.’
The fourth article is this, that our bishop accuseth mee of: That I should haue preached about and said: that a priest being in deadlie sinne, may not, by the strength of the sacramentall wordes, make Gods bodie, or none other sacrament of the church, either performe to minister them to members of the same.
Thus I neuer said, thought it, preached it, ne taught it; for well I wot, the wickednesse of a priest may appaire no verie sacrament: but the wiekednesse of the prieste appaires himselfen, and all that boldnesse and example of his sinne causen the people to liuen the worse against Gods law. Vnde Greg. ‘Et si sacerdos in peccatis fuerit, totus populus ad peccandum conuertitur.’
The 5. article is this, that our bishop puts unto me: That all priests ben of euen power in al things, notwithstanding that some of this world bene of higher dignitie or more passing in highnesse of degree. Certes no man would say thus as I suppose, no more did I, ne neuer heard it that I wot of: but this I say with protestation made before, that what priest liues most holilie, next following the law of God, he is most louer of God, and most profitable to the church. If men speaken of worldlie power and lordships and worships, with other vices that raignen therein, what priest that desires and has most hereof (in what degree so he be), he is most Antichrist of all the priests that ben in earth. Vnde Augustinus, ad Valerium scribens, ait: ‘Nihil est in hac vita, et maxime hoc tempore facilius et leuius, et hominibus acceptabilius, episcopi, presbiteri aut decani officiis: sed si perfunctorie aut adulatorie, nihil spud Deum miserabilius aut tristius et damnabilius.’
This conclusion said I neuer that I know of. But thus I say with protestation put before: That veray contrition of heart, that is neuer without charitie and grace, dos away all sinnes before done of that man that is verilie contrite. And all true confession made by mouth outward to a wise priest, and a good, profiteth much to man, and is needfull and helping that men shewe their life to such, trusting full to Gods mercie, and that he forgiues thy sinne. Vnde August. de conse, distinct. 4. ‘Nemo tollit petcata mundi nisi solus Christus qui est agnus, tollens peccata mundi.’
The 7. article is this: That I should say that lower curates haue not here power of binding and assoiling, by meane of pope and bishop, but of Christ without money; and therefore neither pope ne bishop may reuoke such runner power for time and place at her will.
Thus said I not, but not for thy 23 it seemes me thus, that no man should graunt anie thing after his owne will, ghostlie, ne bodilie.
But euerich man should be well aduiset, that hee graunt nothing but if it be the will of God that he so graunt it. And it is no doubt that ne God grauntes * * * 24 by meane persons, as does Antichrist to torment Christes people. Vnde et Ioh. 19. ‘Ait Pilatus. Nescis quia potestatem habeo dimittere to?’ Et Christus. ‘Non haberes potestatem aduersum me vllam, nisi esset tibi datum desuper.’
The 8. article, that our bishop puts me to, is this: That I should say that the pope may not graunt such manet indulgence of yeares; for there shall not be so manie yeares unto the daie of doome, as bene conteined in his buls, or in the popes indulgences: whereof it followes that indulgences bene not so much worth as they semen and bene preached.
This article I saide not thus; but I say that the pope may graunt indulgences written in his letter of yeares, all so far forth that he may graunt him in Gods law: so far to graunt, and farther not: yeares may he graunt no mo then God hath set. If indulgence ben forgiuenesse of sinne, I wot well all onely God forgiues sinne. If it bee releasing of paines in purgatorie ordeinet of God, if God haue bidden him release so many, or ordeined that hee should release so manic, he may then release hem: yet if it be in his owne disposing to release whom him likes, and howe much, then he may destroy purgatorie, and let none come there, and release his own pain, as charitie wots. So it seemes he may be liker to be saued, if himselfe list. If anie go to purgatorie, then it seemes hee full failes charitie. If buls ben the indulgence that men bringen from the court, then ben they not so much worth, as they costen there; for lightlie they might bee lost, drenched, or brent, or a rat might eaten them: his indulgence then were lost. Therefore sire, bane me excuser, I know not these termes: teach me these termes by Gods law, and truely I will learne hem.
Leude I am, but this article stud I not thus leudly: but thus I say, that sithen it is onlie due to God to giue and to graunt plenarie remission from paines and from blame, that what euer he be, pope or other, that. presumptuouslie, mistakes vpon him that power that is onlie due to God; in that (in as much as in him is) he makes himselfe Christ, and blasphemeth in God, as Lucifer did, when he said: ‘Ascendam et ero similis Altissimo.’ Farther I say, if the pope holde men of armes, in mainteining his temporalties and lordship to venge him on hem that gilten and oftenden him, and geues remission to fight and to slay hem that contrarien hem, as men sayden he did by the bishop of Norwich, 25 not putting his swerd into his sheath, as God commanded Peter. ‘Mitre,’ etc. he is Antichristus, for he dos contrarie to the commandementes of Jesus, yt bade Peter forgiue to his brother seuentie sithe seuen sithe. ‘Si peccauerit in me frater meus, quotiens dimittam ei? Septies?’ etc. ‘Et Christus: Non dico tibi septics, sea septuagesies septies.’
The 10. article is this, that our bishop puts to me: That I should haue said: that a man geuing his almes to anie man after his dome (not hauing need), sinnes, in so giuing.
This article soothlie I saide not in these termes; but of this matter I bane spoken, and will, with protestation made before, on this wise: that it is medefull to giue almes to ich man that asketh it bodily or ghostlie, but not to giue to ich shamelesse begger, strong and mightie of bodie to get his lifeloode leuefull and will not; and in vhat degree so he be, men owen not to geue it to such a one, that hee vnreasonablie asketh, for if he giue it to him wittinglie, he sinnes as fautor of his idlenessie. Vnde Sap. 12. ‘Si bene feceris, scito cui bene feceris, et erit gloria in bonis tuis multa.’
The 11. article is this, that is put to me, that I should halle said:
That it is not in the power of anie prelate of what euer priuate religion, to graunt letters of the good deedes of their order, ne such benefices grauntet profits not to hele of soules to hem that they ben grauntet to.
I said neuer thus in these termes; but thus I say with protestation:
And if they blinde the people in misbeliefe for her worldlie winning, wittinglie behetting hem of her owne graunt ghostly medes in heauen by her letters and her seale (vncertaine, who shall be dammed), but make the people bolder to sinne by trust of her praiers: hit is none heal to the soules, but harmes to that one and to that other. ‘For God shall yeld to echone after here werks:’ ‘Ipse reddet vnicuique secundum opera sua.’
The 12. article is this, that our bishop puts to me: That I many times and oft haue come (he saies) to a desert wood, cleped Derwaldswode, of his dioces: and there, in a chappell not hallwood, but accurset shepheardes hulke, 26 by mine owne follie, haue presumed to sing (but rather to curse) in contempt of the keies.
Hereto I say, that this is falsly put vpon me of hem that told you this. For it is a chappell where a priest sings certaine daies in the yeare, with great solemnitie: and certes I neuer song therein seth I was borne into this world.
The 13. article is this: That I should also presume to sing in an unhallowet chappell, that stonds in the parke of Newton, besides the towne of Leyntwardy, of this same dioces.
Truely I wot not vhere that place stonds.
The 14. article is this: That I should say that no man owes to sweare for anie thing, but simply withouten oth to affirme or to denie; and if he sweare he sinnes.
This article said I not, that I halle mind of, in this maner: but oft I haue said and yet will, that men should not sweare by anie creature by the law of God, and that no man should sweare in idel, as welnigh all the people vseth. And therefore me thinkes it is no neede to comfort the people in swearing; for from the olde vnto the yong, and namely men of holie church, breken his heste, and few bishops pursuen hem therefore.
The 15. article is this: That I should haue taught to true men of Christ, that on no maner they should worship the image of him that was done on the crosse, or the image of the blessed mayd his mother, or of other saints into honor and worship of the same ordeinet in ye mind of them. And oft sithes, ye worshipper of such image he has reprouet, saying, and stronglie affirming, that churchmen sinhen and done idolatrie.
Baruc. 6. 2. ad. Corin. 10. Esay 45. Iere 2. 6. 8. and 10.2:2. and vltimo, Sapient. 13.14. and15. Mac. 5. and Threnorum 4. and postremo), that men should not worshippen grauen images that ben werkes of mens hands: and also he bids that men should not make to hem grauen images in likenesse of the things that ben in heauen, to that end to worshippen hem: sethen neither God ne Christ by his manhood gaue neuer commandement to make these images, ne expresse counsell, ne his apostles in all his lawe, ne to worship such that bene made. But well I wote, that by mens owne relation that haue misbelieuet in hem, that many men sinnen in maumetrie 117 worshipping such dead images: notforthy, 116 27 to the men bene images good to whom they haue bene but kalendars, and through the sight of hem they knowen the better and worshippen oft God and his saints· And to such men they done harme that setten her hope and trust in hem or done any worship to hem against Gods law and his heste. Vnde ait Gregorius, in Registro, libro. 10., in epistola ad Serenum Episcopum. ‘Si quis imagines facere voluerit, minime prohibe: adorare omnino prohibe.
Sed hoc solicite fraternitas tua admoneat, vt ex visione rei gestae, ardorem compunctionis percipiant, vt in adoratione totius Trinitatis posternantur.’
These conclusions, points, and articles that I have, vnder protestation, in this booke affirmed, I will stand by hem, and maintaine hem (with the grace of Almightie God) to the time that the contrarie be prouet duelie by Gods law: and this protestation I make for my faith and my beliefe as I did at the beginning: That whensoeuer this worshipfull or any other christen man shewes me veraily by Gods lawe the contrarie of this, I will holy forsake hem, and take me to the veray trouth and better understanding of wiser men, readie to be amended by the law of Jesus Christ, and be a true christen man and faithfull sonne of holy church: and of these I beseech you all beare witnesse where ye commen.
Subsequenter veto, quia fide dignorum relatione recepimus, quod idem Gulielmus Swynderby latitabat quo minus posset in propria persona citari, ipsum Gulielmum viis et toodis per Edicturn publicurn ad instar albi praetoris in ecclesia nostra Cathedrali Herfordensi et parochialibus ecclesiis de Kington, Crofte, et Witney nostrae diocesis, ubi idem Guilielmus solebat commorari, citari fecimus, prout et quemadmodum in modo citatorio continetur, cujus tenor sequitur in haec verba.
WILLIAM SWINDERBY KEEPING FROM THE BISHOP WAS CITED AS FOLLOWETH.
John, by God’s permission bishop of Hereford: to his dear sons, our dean of Leamster, to the parsons of 118 Croft, Almaly, and Whitney, and also to the vicars of Kington, Eardersley, Wiggemore, Monmouth, Clifford, and of St. John’s altar in our cathedral church of Hereford, and to the rest of the deans, parsons, vicars, chaplains, parish priests, and to others, whosoever in any place are appointed through our city and diocese of Hereford, sendeth greeting, grace and benediction.
We bid and command, charging you straitly, in the virtue of holy obedience, that you cite or cause to be cited peremptorily, and under the pain of excommunication, William Swinderby, pretending himself to be a priest; that he appear before us, or our commissaries, the twentieth day of this present month of July, at North Lodebury, within our diocese, with the continuance of the days following in other places also to be assigned unto him if it be expedient, till such things as have been, and shall be laid against him, be fully discussed: to answer more at large to certain positions and articles, touching the catholic faith, and the holy mother church’s determination, that have been exhibited and ministered unto the said William; and to see and heare also many things that have openly, in judgment before us and a great number of faithful Christians, by him been even in writing confessed, to be condemned as heretical, false, schismatical, and erroneous; and to see and hear positions and articles denied by the said William, to be proved by faithful witnesses, and other lawful trials against the said William; and to receive for his false, heretical, erroneous, and schismatical doctrine, what justice shall appoint, or else to show causes why the premises should not be done.
And if the said William lieth privily, or else cannot be so cited in his proper person, we will that in your churches, when most people shall then come together to divine service, you openly, with a loud voice and that may be understood, cause the said William peremptorily to be cited unto the premises, certifying the same William, that whether he shall appear the day and place appointed or no, we, notwithstanding, will proceed unto the premises against the said William, according to the canonical decrees by form of law, in the absence or contumacy of the said William notwithstanding.
We will, moreover, if the said William shall appear at the said day and place as is aforesaid, before us, friendly hear him, and honestly and favourably, as far as we may with God’s leave, deal with him; granting free license to come and to go for his natural liberty without any hurt either in body or goods. And see that you fully certify us of the things that you or any of you shall do about the execution of this our commandment, and that, by your letters patent, signed with your seal authentical; giving also faithfully to the said William, or to his lawful proctor, if he require it, a copy of this our present commandment.
FIRST SITTING AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
On Thursday the twentieth of July, in the year of the Lord aforesaid, we, in the parish church of North Lodebury aforesaid, about six of the clock, sitting in judgment, after that it was reported unto us, how the aforesaid William was personally taken and lawfully cited, caused the same William then and there openly in judgment to be called out, to do, hear, and receive such things, whereto he was afore cited, and to do otherwise that which justice should persuade. And the said William appeared neither by himself, nor by proctor; but only by a servant, whose name we know not, he sent unto us a certain schedule of paper, made like an indenture, to excuse him. After which schedule, seen, read, and with right deliberation weighed, and, in any wise notwithstanding, we adjudged the said William (after he was often called, and long, even to the due hour tarried for, and by no means appearing), worthily, for his obstinacy and for his stubbornness we assigned unto him the twenty-ninth day of July, in the church of Ponsley, to appear before us with the aforesaid safeguard, to answer more fully to such articles, and otherwise to hear, receive, and do, as before is noted.
SECOND SITTING AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
On Saturday the twenty-ninth of July, and in the year of the Lord aforesaid, we, John, by God’s permission the fore-remembered bishop, in the church of Pontesbury, of our diocese, at six of the clock or thereabout, sitting in judgment; made the said William of Swinderby to be openly called, that (as was to him appointed and assigned) he should appear before us, to answer to the aforesaid articles more fully, and to declare the said articles, as the darkness of his answers did worthily require. And because the said William, being called, and long for a due time looked for, did make no means to appear, we pronounced him to be obstinate, and for his obstinateness (to overcome his malice, and of our exceeding favor) thought good to appoint, and did appoint the eighth of August, then next following, at Cleobury Mortemere of the same our diocese, unto the said William for the same thing.
THIRD SITTING AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
On Tuesday the eighth of August, the year aforesaid, I, John, by God’s permission bishop of Hereford aforesaid, in the church of Cleobury Mortemere, about six of the Clock, sitting in judgment, caused the aforesaid William Swinderby to be called many times openly, to do and receive about the premises, according to the appointment of the same day what justice should advise; which William did not appear at all. Whereupon, we, after that the said William was called, and often proclaimed, and long looked for, but not appearing at all, did judge him worthily (as of right upperrained) obstinate; and, for his obstinateness, assigned him the sixteenth day of the same month of August next following, in the parish church of Whitborne.of the same our diocese, to bring forth, or to see brought forth, all laws, muniments, and other kinds of proofs; and to see also witnesses brought forth, admitted, and sworn, by whom and which things we intend to prove the aforesaid articles, or at leastwise some of the same.
FOURTH SITTING AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
On Wednesday the sixteenth day of the month of August, the year aforesaid, we John, the bishop, in the parish church of Whitborne aforesaid of our diocese, sitting in judgment, caused the said William Swinderby oftentimes to be called, who, as is aforesaid, appeared not at all; whom, after that he was so called, proclaimed, and long looked for, and yet by no means appearing, we pronounced to be obstinate. We received also, by certain faithful Christians and zealous men for the catholic faith, of our diocese, a certain process made and had at another time against the same William, before the reverend father in God and lord, lord John, by the grace of God bishop of Lincoln, confirmed by the hanging on of the seal of the same reverend father, the lord bishop of Lincoln. And these faithful Christians, moreover, against the obstinateness of the said William Swinderby brought forth discreet men, Master William Leviet, parson of the parish church of Kyversly, and also Edmund Waterdon, parish chaplain of the chapel of N., and Roger Newton, and Hugh Sheppert, laymen of our diocese of Lincoln, asking instantly that they might be received for witnesses, to prove some of the aforesaid articles, whom against the obstinateness of the said William Swinderby we thought good to receive, and did receive, and their oaths on the holy gospels of God, being laid hands on corporally in our hande, and did diligently examine them in proper person severally in form of law, whose saying and depositions are afterwards brought in; and, at the instance of the same faithful Christians, we assigned the second day of September next following, to the said William Swinderby, to say and alledge against the said process, witnesses, and their sayings, in the said church of Whitborn; decreeing that a copy should be made for him of those things that were brought forth, and of the depositions of the witnesses, * * * [Here we fail in our copy, till the register come to our hands again.] by the dore, but wendith upon an other halfe, hee is a night theefe and a day theefe. And there he telleth how he that flieth from their flocke, is not the sheapherd but an hired man, and it pertaineth not to him of the sheepe.
To the second conclusion: That, he saien, is errour or heresie, that toucheth taking away of the temporalties and of lordships of priests that bene euill liuers.
I saie, me seemeth that the conclusion is true, and is this: That it were medefull and leefull 119 to secular lordes, by way of charitie, and by power giuen to them of God, in default of prelates that amend naught by Gods lawe; cursed curates that openlie misuse the goods of holy church, that ben poore mens goods: and customably ayens the law of God (the which poore men, lordes ben holden to maintaine and defend), to take awaie and to draw from such curates, poore mens goods in helpe of the poore, and their owne wilfull offeringes, and their bodilie aimes deedes of worldlie goods, and glue them to such as duelie semen God in the church, and ben readie in vpbearing of the charge that prelates shoulden doe and done it not. And as anentes taking away of temporalties, I say thus: That it is leefull to kings, to princes, to dukes, and to lords of the world, to take away from popes, from cardinals, from bishops, prelates, and possessioners in the church, their temporalties, and their alines that they haue giuen them vpon condition that they shoulden serue God the better: when they are verilie seene that their giuing and taking bene contrarie to the law of God, contrarie to Christes liuing and his apostles; and namelie in that they taken vppon them, they that shoulden be next followers of Christ and his apostles in poorenesse and meekenesse, to be secular lords against the teaching of Christ and of S. Peter. Truelie me seemeth that all christen men, and namelie priestes shoulden take keepe, that their doing were according with the lawe of God, either the old law, either the new. The priestes of the olde lawe weren forbidden to haue lordships among their brethren: for God said, that he would be their part and their heritage. And Christ, that was the highest priest of the Newe Testament, forsooke worldlie lordship, and was here in fourme of a seruaunt, and forbad his priests such lordships, and said, ‘Reges gentium dominantur eorum, etc. vos autem non sic.’ That is: ‘The kings of the heathen, beare dominion and rule, etc.; but you shall not do so.’ And as S.
Peter saith, ‘Neque dominantes in clero,’ etc. ‘Not bearing rule and dominion of the clergie,’ etc. So it seemeth me: that it is against both lawes of God, that they haue such lordshippes, and that their title to such lordshippes is not full good. And so it seemeth me, that if they bene thereto, of euill liuing, it is no great perill to take away from, them such lord-ships, but rather meedfull, if the taking awaie were in charitie, and not for singular couetousnesse ne wrath.
And I suppose that if friers, that bene bounden to their founders to liue in pouertie, 29 woulde breake their rule and take worldlie lordships, might not men lawfullie take from them such lordships, and make them to liue in pouertie as their rule would? And forsooth it seemeth me, that priestes oughten also well to keepe Christes rule, as friers owen to keepe the rule of their founder.
And yet Jeremie profered them wine to drinke. And so I trowe, that God woulde commend his priestes, if they woulden forsake worldlie lordships, and holden them apayd with lifelot, and with clothing; and busie them fast about their heritage of heauen. And God saith, Numeri. 18., (‘In terra eorum nihil possidebitis, nee tenebitis pattern inter cos: Ego pars et hrereditas vestra in medio filiorum Israel, etc. Et Deuteronomy 18. ‘Non habebitis sacerdotes et Leuitre et orenos qui de eadem tribu estis, partem et hrereditatem cure reliquo Israel, quia sacrificia Domini et oblationes eius comedent, et nihil accipient de possessione fratrum suorum.
Dominus enim ipsc est hrereditas ipsorum, sicut locutus est illis.’
Et Lucre 14. ‘Sic ergo omnis ex vobis, qui non renunciauerit omnibus quae possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus.’ Et Ieronymus in Epistola. 34. Et Bernardus libro 2°. ad Eugenium Papam. Et Hugo ‘De Sacramentis,’ parte 2 libri secundi cap. 7. Et Causa 12 q. 1. cap. ‘Duo sunt:’ Et cap. ‘Clericus.’ Et Bernardus ‘in Sermone de Apostolis, super illud: ‘Ecce nos reliquimus omnia.’ Et Chrysost. super Math. Et ‘Vetus Testamentum: That is, you shall haue no inheritance in their land, nor haue no part amongest them: I will be your part and inheritance amongest the children of Israel,’ etc. Dour. 18. ‘The priests and Leuites, and all that be of the same tribe shall haue no part nor inheritance with the rest of Israel: because they shall eat the sacrifices of the Lord and his oblations, and they shall take nothing of the possession of their brethren. The Lord himself is their possession, as he spake unto them.’ And ye 14. chapter of Luke: ‘Euen so euerie one of you, which forsaketh not all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple.’ And Jerome, in his 14. Epistle, hath the like wordes. And Bernard in his 2nd booke to Eugenius the pope. And also Hugo in his booke ‘De Sacramentis,’ the second part of his second booke, the 7. chapter.
And also in the 12. q. 1. chap. 7. ‘Duo sunt,’ and in the chap. ‘Clericus.’ And againe, Bernard in his booke ‘De sermone de Apostolis,’ vpon this place: ‘Ecce nos reliquimus omnia.’ ‘Behold we leaue all,’ etc. Chrysost. vpon the gospel of S. Math. etc.
The third conclusion toucheth the matter of preaching of priests, withouten leaue of bishops, and is this: That such true priestes may counsell sinfull men, that shewen to them their sinnes, after the wit and cunning that God hath giuen, to turne hem from sinne to vertuous life, and as touching preaching of the gospel.
I say that no bishop oweth to let a true priest, that God hath giffen grace, wit, and cunning to do that office: for both priestes and deacons, that God hath ordained deacons or priestes, bene holden by power geuen to them of God, to reach to the people the gospel, and namelie, and souerenlie, popes, bishops prelates and curats; for this is due to the people and the pansheners, to haue it and aske it.
And hereto seemeth me, that Christ said generallie to his disciples: ‘Ite et praedicate Euangelium omni creaturae,’ ‘Goe and preach the gospel to all creatures,’ as well as he said, ‘Ite et baptizate omnes gentes,’ ‘Goe and baptise all nations,’ that also as well longeth preaching to priests without leaue of a bishop as doth baptising: and then why male he not preach Gods worde withouten a bishops leaue? And sithen Christ bade his priests preach, who should forbidden them preaeh? The apostles were forbidden of a bishop at Jerusalem, to speake more of the name of Jesus, but Peter said: ‘Si iustum est in conspectu Dei, vos potius audire quam Dominum, iudicate.’ That is, ‘Whether it be Just in the sight of God to heare and obey you before the Lord: be your selues judges.’ A bishop may not let a priest of giuing bodilie aimes in his dioces: much more may he not let the doing of spirituall aimes in his dioces by Gods lawe. A priest may saie his mattines withouten the bishops leaue: for the pope that is aboue the bishop, hath charged priestes therewith: and me thinketh that Christes bidding should be all so much of charge as the popes. Math. 10. ‘Euntes autem praedicate.
Ite ecce ego mitto vos.’ Et Mar. 16. ‘Euntes in mundum vniuersum,’ etc. Lucre 10. Et Anacletus pap. Dist. 21. cap. ‘In nouo Testamento.’ Et Beda super illud: “Messis quidem mvlta.’ Et Isidorus ‘De summo bono.’ cap. 44. Et Gregorius in canone Dist. 43. ‘Praeconis quippe officium suscipit,’ etc. Et Chrysostom.
Causa 11:q. 3. cap. 86, ‘Nolite timere.’ Et Aug. Causa 11:q. 3. cap. 80, ‘Quisquis.’ Et Gregorius in suo Pastorall. c. 38, ‘Qui enim est.’
Chrysost. horn. 31. et in Tollitanoc eoncilio: ‘Ignorantia.’ Et Aug. in Prologo sermonum suerum; et Ieronymus, Dist. 95. ‘Ecee ego.’
Et Aug. super id: ‘Homo quidam peregrinus’—That is, ‘Go you forth and preach:’ and again, ‘Behold I send you,’ etc. Mar. 16. ‘Go you into all the world,’ etc. and Luk. 10. and Dist. 21. cap. ‘In Nouo Testamento.’ And Beda vppon this place, ‘The haruest truly is great.’ Also Isidorus ‘De sumtoo bono,’ cap. 44. And Gregorius in the 43rd Distinction, ‘Praeconis quippe officium suscipit,’ etc.: and Chrysostome in the 34th Distinction, Nolite timere:’ and Augustine in the 34th Distinction, cap. ‘Quisquis.’ And Gregorius in his Pastoral, cap. 38, ‘Qui enim est.’ And Chrysostome in his 31st Homelie. And in the council of Toledo, ‘Ignorantia.’ And Augustine in the prologue of his Sermons. And Jerome in the 95th Distinct. cap. 6, ‘Ecee ego.’ And Augustine upon this place, ‘A certaine traueller.’
The fourth conclusion toucheth the sacrament of the aultar, and is this: That wholly I beleeue that the sacrament of the aultar, made by vertue of heauenlie wordes, is bread and Christes bodie, so as Christ himselfe saith in the gospel, and as S. Paul saith, and as doctors in the common law haue determined: To this sentence John 6. ‘Moses hath not giuen you bread from heauen, but my father will glue you bread from heauen. He is the true bread that came downe from heauen and giueth life vnto the worlde. My father giueth vnto you bread in deed: the verie true bread of God is that, which came downe from heauen and giueth life vnto the world. I am the bread of life: The bread which I will glue is my flesh.’ And in the canon of the Masse, Panem sanctum vitae aeternae,’ ‘The holie bread of life.’ And Corinthians the 10. chap. and first epistle. ‘The bread which wee breake, is it not the communicating of the bodie of the Lord? Let a man proue himself, and so eate of that bread,’ etc. And canon ‘De consecratione’ distinction 2. vnder the authoritie of Hilarius the pope: ‘Corpus Christi quod sumitur de altari,’ etc. And Augustine in the foresaid distinction: ‘That which is seene, is bread,’ etc. That which faith requireth, is bread, and is the body of Christ. And in ye foresaid distinction, cap. ‘Omnia quaecunque,’ etc. By these two sentences it is manifestlie declared, that that bread and this, be not two, but one bread and one flesh.
Note the words for that he saith, the bread and flesh; and the anthor, ‘De diuinis officiis;’ and also Augustine in his booke, ‘De remedijs penitentiae:’ ‘Why preparest thou thy teeth,’ etc. And Ambrose, ‘De Sacramentis:’ ‘De consecratione:’ distinct. 2. ‘Reuera mirabile est,’ etc. ‘This meat which you receiue, and this bread of one which descended from heauen, doth minister the substance of eternall life; and whosoeuer shall eate the same, shall not die euerlastinglie, and is the bodie of Christ.’ Note how he saith, ‘and is the bodie of Christ.’ 1 telleth of forgiuenesse of sinnes, and is this: That verie contrition withouten charitie and grace, do away all sinnes before done of that man, that is verilie contrite, and all true confession made by mouth outwardly to a wise priest and a good, profiteth much to a man, and it is needfull and helping, that men shew their life to such, trusting fullie to Gods mercie, that he forgiueth the sinne.
And hereto I say, that there bene two remissions of sinnes: one that belongeth onelie to God: and that remission is the clensing of the soule from sinne: and the other remission, a certifying that one man certifieth another, that his sinnes be forgiuen of God, if he be sory with all his heart for them, and is in full will to leaue them for euer: and this maner of forgiuenesse longeth to priests. Of the first maner of forgiuenesse, Dauid saith: ‘And I said I will confess my vnrighteousnesse, vnto the Lord, and thou forgauest me my misdeede.’ And Zachane saith: ‘And thou, O child, shalt be called the prophet of the highest, etc. to giue knowledge of saluation vnto his people for the remission of their sinnes, by the bowels of Gods mercie.’ And John Baptist: ‘Behold the Lambe of God that taketh away the sinnes of the world.’ And S. John the Euangelist saith in his epistle: ‘If we confesse our sinnes, he is faithfull and iust to forgiue vs our stones, and cleanse vs from all our iniquitie.’ And it followeth: ‘If anie man sinne, we halle an aduocate with the father, euen Jesus Christ, and hee it is that is the propitiation, for our sinnes.’ And of the other remission, of stones Christ speaketh in the gospel, and saith: ‘Whose stones ye forgiue, they shal be forgiuen.’ And mans forgiuenes auaileth litle, unless God forgiue our sinnes through his grace.
The 6. conclusion teacheth indulgences and pardons, that the pope graunteth in his bulles, and men callen it an absolution, ‘A poena et culpa.’
Of this maner of speach I cannot finde in the gospel, ne in no place of holie write, ne I haue not read that Christ vsed this maner of remission, ne none of his. apostles. But as me seemeth, if the pope had such a power, sithen the paines after a man’s death bene much greater than anie bodily pains of the world: me thinketh he should of charitie keep men out of such paines, and then men neede not to finale so manic vicious priests after their life, to bring their soules out of purgatorie. An other thing me thinketh, that sithe the popes power ne may not keep vs in this world fro bodily paines as from cold, from hunger, from dread, from sorrow, and other such paines, how should his power helpe vs from spirituall paines, when we bene dead? But for that no man commeth after his death to tell vs the sooth in what pain they bene, men, now tell thereof what hem lust. S. John saith in his Apocalyps, that he saw vnder the aultar, the soules of them which were slayne for the word of God, and for the testimonie which they had. ‘And they did erie with a loud voice, saying:, ‘Howe long Lord, holie and true, doest not thou reuenge our bloud of them which dwell on the earth? 30 And white stoles were giuen to euerie of them to rest a while, till the number of their fellow seruantes and brethren should be fulfilled, which also remained to be slaine as they were,’ etc. Here seemeth it, that these soules were not assoiled ‘a poena,’ that is, from paine: for their desire is not fulfillen. And they were bidden abide a while, and that is a pain· And if martyrs were not assoiled from paine, it is hard for anie man to saie, that he assoileth other men ‘a poena.’
Also good mens soules halle not but spirituall, blisse, and they want bodilie blisse, untill their resurrection in the day of dome.
And after they desiren to haue that blisse, and abiden it, and that is paine to them. And I cannot see that the pope hath power to bring him from this pain. But if anie man can shew me, that he hath such a power graunted in the troth of Holy Write, I will gladlie leefen it.
The 7. point speaketh of the pope and is this: Sithe it is onlie due to God, as I haue said before, to geue and to grauntplener remission, from, paine, and even from blame, that whatsoeuer he be, pope or other, that presumptuouslie mistaketh, vppon him the power that onelie is due to God, in that, in as much as in him is, he maketh himselfe euen with Christ, and blasphemeth God, as Lucifer did, when he said, ‘Ascendam, and ero similis altissimo.’
That is, ‘I will ascend, and be like the highest,’ etc.
For that I say, if the pope holde men of armes in maintaining of his temporail lordship, to venge him on them that gilten and oftenden him, and geueth remission to fight and to slaie them, that contrarien him, as men sayden bee did by the bishop of Norwich, not putting his sworde in his sheath, as God commaunded to Peter, he is Antichrist. For hee doth the contrarie of the commandement of Jesus Christ, that bade Peter forgiuen to his brother 70. sithe7. sithe. Well I find in the gospel, that vhen Christ sent his disciples to Samarie, the Samaritanes would not receiuen them. And some of them bidden. Christ, that hee should make a fire come downe from heauen, to destroy the, citie. And hee blamed them, and said: ‘Nescitis cuius spiritus estis: filius heminis non venit animas perdere, se’dsaluare.’ That is, ‘Ye know not of what spirite ye are: the sonne of man is not come downe to destroy, but to salle the liues and soules of men,’etc. If Christ then come to saue men, and not to slea them, who that doth the tenets hereof, is against Christ, and then he is Antichrist. Christ bad Peter put his sword in his sheath and said: ‘Omnes qui gladium acceperint, gladio penbunt.’
And I cannot finde that Peter drewe out his sworde after that time, but suffered as Christ said: ‘Cum senueris, alius cinget re, et ducet quotu non vis. That is, When thou shalt waxe old, another shall gird thee and lead thee whether thou wilt not.’ And therefore said Peter, ‘Christ suffered for vs, leaning vs example that we should follow his steppes. And Paule saith: ‘Not defending your seines, but geue place to anger: leaue reuenging to mee, and I shall reward them,’ etc. And therefore it seemeth to mee, that it:is as much against Christes lone, that his vicar should bee a fighter, sithen that hee mote be a shepheard, that should go before his sheepe, and let them come after him, and not with swordes to driue them away from him. For as Christ saith, ‘A good shepheard shall put his life for his sheepe.’ And zif all that Christ had, were two swordes, when hee was taken of the Jewes, he said himselfe, it was, for that the Scriptures moten zit be fulfilled: ‘Quoniam cron iniquis deputatus est,’ that is: ‘Hee was reputed among the wicked:’ and not to figure two swordes, that men sayen the pope hath, to gouerne with the church. And when I see such doings of the pope, and many other that accorden not with Christes lore, ne his liuing: and when I reade diuers Scriptures of belie writte, I am foule astonied whether they shoulden be understanded of him, or of anie other. And I pray you for Gods loue tell me the sooth. Christ saith: ‘Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall seduce manic,’ etc. Christ (I wet well) is as much to say, as he that is anointed; and two anointings there weren in the lawe, one of kings, another of priests. And Christ was both king and priest, and so the pope saith that he is. And if all that haue bene emperours of Rome, and other heathen kinges, halle bene Antichristes, they come not in Christes name. But who so commeth in Christe’s name, and raineth him Christe’s freud, and he be priuilie his chemic, he may lightlie beguile manic. Saint Paule saith: ‘Before there commeth a defection first, and the sonne of perdition shall be reuealed, which is the aduersarie, and is extolled aboue all that is named God, or which is worshipped: so that he shall sit in the temple of God, shewing him selfe as God.’ And it followeth in the same place: ‘And now ye know what holdeth till he be reuealed in his time, for he worketh alreadie the mysterie of iniquitie. Onlie he that holdeth, let him holde till he come abroad, and titan that wicked one shall be reuealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirite of his mouth,’ etc. And Saint John saith in the Apocalyps: ‘I sawe another beast ascending out of the earth, and two homes like to the lambe. He spake like the Dragon, and had the power of the first beast.’ Manic such authorities astonieth me oft sithes, and therefore I pray you, for the lone of God, to tel me that they meane.
THE SENTENCE AGAINST WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
The which schedule 31 aforementioned, with the contents thereof, diligently of us perused, we, considering that diseases which be not easily cured with gentle remedy must have harder plaisters; considering, moreover, these his articles, with his answers to the same, and to other articles also lastly against him produced; first mature deliberation had before upon the whole matter with the aforesaid masters and doctors, as well secular as regular, to a great number, observing in the same all things to be observed in this behalf, have given sentence against the said William in form as followeth.
The name of Christ being invocated, we John, by the permission of God, bishop of Hereford, sitting in tribunal seat, having God before our eyes, weighing and considering the articles by the aforesaid faithful Christians put up against the said Swinderby, pretending himself to be priest, with his answers upon the same ‘Actis et Actitatis’ before us, in the cause of heretical perversity, with the mature deliberation had before, in this behalf, with masters and doctors of divinity, and also of other faculties, with their counsel and consent, do pronounce, decree, and declare the said William to have been, and to be, a heretic, schismatic, and a false informer of the people, and such as is to be avoided of faithful Christians.
Wherefore we admonish, under the pain of the law, all and singular Christains, of what sex, state, condition, or preeminence soever, that neither they, nor any of them, within our diocese, or any other, do believe, receive, defend, or favor the said William, till he shall deserve fully to be reconciled to the bosom again of holy church.
THE APPEAL OF WILLIAM SWINDERBY FROM THIS SENTENCE OF THE BISHOP PREFIXED, UNTO THE KING AND HIS COUNCIL. ‘In nomine patris, et filij, et spiritus santcti,’ Amen. I William Swinderby, priest, knowledge openlie to all men, that I was before the bishop of Hereford the third day of October, and before manie other good clerks, to answere to certaine conclusions of the faith that I was accused of. And mine answer was this: That if the bishop or any man couthe shewe me by Gods law, that my conclusions or mine answeres were error or heresie, I would be amended, and openlie reuoke them before all the people. * * * knowes in any of my conclusions, but sayden singly with word, that there were errours in them, and bidden me subject me to the bishop, and put me into his grace and reuoke mine errour, and shewed me nought by Gods law ne reason, ne proued which they weren. And for I would not knowledge me gulltie, so as I knewe no errour in them, of which I should be guiltie, therefore the bishop sate in dome in mine absence, and deemed me an hereticke, a schismaticke, and a teacher of errours, and denounced me accursed, that I come not to correction of the church. And therefore, for this vnrightfull iudgement, I appeale to the kings justices for manie other causes.
One cause is , for the kings court, in such matter, is aboue the bishops court: for after that the bishop has accursed, hoe may ne feare by his law, but then mote he sech succor of the kings law, and by a writ of ‘significauit ‘put a man in prison.
The second cause is, for in cause of heresie there liggeth Judgement of death, and that dome may not be giuen without the kings justices. For the bishop will say: ‘Nobis non licet interficere quenquam,’ that is, ‘It is not lawfull for vs to kill any man: as they sayden to Pilate, vhen Christ should be deemed. And for I think that no justice will glue sodainly and vntrue dome as the bishop did, and therefore openlie I appeale to hem and send my conclusions to the knightes of the parliament, to be shewed to the lordes, and to be taken to the justices, to be well auiset or that they geuen dome.
The third cause is, for it was a false dome: for no man is an hereticke, but he that maisterfullie defends his errour or heresie, and stiitie maintaines it. And mine answere has ben alwaie conditionall, as the people openlie knowes: for euer I say, and yet say, and alway will; that if they cannen shew me by Gods law that I haue erret, I will gladlie ben amender, and reuoke mine errours; and so I am no hereticke, ne neuer more in Gods grace will ben in no wise.
For there as Christes law biddes vs loue our enemies, the popes law geues vs leaue to hate them and to sley them, and grauntes men pardon to werren againe heathen men, and sley hem. And there as Christes law teache vs to be mercifull, the bishops lawe teaches to be wretchfull. For death is the greatest wretch that men mowen done on him that gulltie is.
There as Christes law teaches vs, to blessen him that diseazen vs, and to pray for him, the popes law teacheth vs to curse them, and in their great sentence that they vsen, they presume to damme hem to hell that they cursen. And this is a foule heresie of blaspheme: there as Christes lawe bids vs be patient, the popes law Justifies two swords, that wherewith he smiteth the sheepe of the church.
There as Christo’s laws bids to minister spirituall thinges freelie to the people, the pope with his law selles for money, after the quantitie of the gift, as pardons, orders, blessing, and sacramentes, and praiers, and benefices, and preaching to the people; as it is knowen amongest them.
Whereas Christo’s law teacheth his priestes to be poore, the pope, with his lawe, iustifies and maintaines priestes to be lordes.
And yet the rift cause is, for the popes lawe that bishops demon men by, is the same vnrightfull lawe that Christ was demet by of the bishops, with the Scribes and with the Pharisies. For right as at that time they gauen more credens to the two false witnesses that witnessed against Christ, then they deden to al the people that witnesseden to his true preaching and his miracles: so the bishops of the popes law geuen more leuen by their lawe to two heretickes and apostates, or two comen wymen, that woulden witnesseden agaynes a man in the cause of heresie, than to thousandes of people that were true and good. And for the pope is this Antichrist, and his law contrary to Christ his law, fully I forsake this law, and so I reed all christen men. For thus, by an other point of this lawe, they mighten conquere much of this world: for whan they can by this lawe present a man an hereticke, his goodes shulen be forfet from him and from his heires, and so might they lightlie haue two or three false witnesses to record an heresie against vhat true man, so hem liked. Herefore me thinkes, that whatsoeuer that I am a christen man, I may lawfully appeale from a false dome of the lawe, to he righteously demet by the trouth of Gods law. And if this appeale will not serue, I appeale openlie to my Lord Jesu Christ that shall deme all the world, for hee I wot well, will not spare for no man to deeme a trouth. And therefore I pray God Almightie with Dauid in the Sauter Booke, ‘Deus iudicium tuum regi da, et iustitiam tuam filio regis: Iudicare populumtuum in iustitia etpauperes, tuos in iudicio:” that is, ‘O God giue thy iudgement to the king, and thy iustice to the kings sonne; to iudge thy people in Justice, and thy poore ones in Judgement,’ etc.
A FRUITFUL LETTER SENT TO THE NOBLES AND BURGESSES OF THE PARLIAMENT, BY MASTER WILLIAM SWINDERBY.
Iesu, that art both God and man, helpe thy people that louen thy law, and make knowen through thy grace thy teaching to all christen men! Deare sirs, so as we seen, by manie tokens, that this world drawes to an end, and all that euer halle bene forth-brought of Adam’s kind into this world, shulen come togeder at domesday, rich and poore, ichone to geue accompt and receiue after his deeds ioy or paynen for euermore: therefore make we our werks good, ye while that God of mercy abides, and be ye stable and true to God, and ye shulen see his helpe about, you. “Constantes estote et videbitis auxilium. Domini super vos.” This land is full of ghostly cowards, in ghostly battaile fewe dare stand. But Christ, the comforter of all that falleth (to that his heart brast for our loue), against that fiend, the doughtie duke comforteth vs thus: “Estote fortes in bello,” etc. “Be ye strong in battaile,” he sales, “and fight ye with the old adder.” “State in fide, viriliter agite,” etc. “Wake ye ‘and pray yee, stond ye in beleiue, do ye manly and be ye comfortet, and let all your things be done with charitie:” For Saint Paul bids thus in his Epistle, that saw the priuities of God in heauen: “Euigilate iusti,” etc. “Awake ye that been righteous men, be ye stable and vnmoueable: Awake ye quickly and sleepe nought, and stond now strongly for God’s law.’ For Saint Iohn in the Apocalips sayes: “Blessed be he that awakes: for nought to sleepers but to wakers God has behite the crown of life.” “For the houre is now,” as Paul saith to vs, “from sleepe for to arise, for bee that earlie awakes to me, he shall finde me, saith Christ himseluen.
This waking ghostly, is good liuing out of sinne: this sleep betokens that which cowardeth a man’s heart from ghostly comfort, and to stand in the same, thorough a deceaueable sleepe is this that lets a man of the blisse of heauen. The fiend makes men bold in sinne and ferd to doe worship to God. Death is a likening to a theefe that priuily steales vpon a man that now is fiche, and full of were; anon hee makes him a needle wreche. Therefore, said God, by Saint Iohn, in the Apocalips, in this wise: “Be thou waking, for if thou wake nought, I shall come to thee as a theere, and thou shalt not wit what houre.” “And if the husbandman” sales. Christ, “wist what houre the theefe shoulde come, hee woulde wake and suffer him not to vndermine his house.” Saint Peter therefore warneth and saith, “Wake and be yee ware, suffer yee no man,” he sayes, “as a theefe, but willinglie for Gods loue;” “for it is time,” as Peter sales, “that dome begin from the house of God.” “Ye bene the body of Christ,” sayes Poule, “that needs must suffer with the head, or els your bodies bene but dead and departed from Christ that is the head.” “And therefore curset be he,” sales Poule, “that loues not Iesu Christ.” And who it is that loues him, Christ himselfe telles in the gospel, “Hee that has my hests, and keeps them, he it is that lones me.” “Cursed he be therefore,” says Poule, “that doth Christe’s workes deceiueably.” “Be ye not therefore,” says Poule, ‘ashamed of the true witnesse of Iesu Christ;” for Christ our God sayes in his gospel, “Hee that shames me and my wordes, him shall mans sonne ashame when he shall come for to set in the siege of his Maiestie. And each man,” he sayes, “that knowes me and my wordes before men, in this sinefull generation and whorish, mails sonne shall knowledge him before my father,” saves Christ himself, “when he shal come with hys aungels in the glorie of his father.” Sithe ye therefore bene Christen men, that is to say, Christes men, shew in deede that ye bene such as ye daren shew you the kings men; “for hit had bene,” as Peter sayes, “better not to haue knowen the way of trueth, then after the knowing thereof to bee conuerted backward there from.” We knowen Christ, that is trought, we sayn all through our beliefe, if we turne from him for drede, truely we denie the troth. And therefore sith our time is short, (how short no man knowes but God,) do we the good that wee may to Gods worship, “when we haue time.” “Be true” (saies God) “to the death, and you shall halle the crowne of life.” And thinke on Iudas Machabeus, 33 that was God’s true knight, that comforted hartely Gods true people, to be the followers of his law. “And geue ye,” hee said, “your liues for the Testament of your fathers And ye shullen winne,” he said, “great ioy, and a name for euermore.” “Was not Abraham,” hee said, “in temptation founden true, and was 34 arectet vnto him euermore to righteousnesse; Ioseph in time of his anguish hee kept truely Gods hest, hee was made, by Gods prouidence, lord of Egypt, for his trouth. Phinees our fadure letting,” hee saith, “the zeale of God, tooke the testament of euerlasting priesthoode. Iosue for hee fulfillet the worde of God was domes man in Israel. Caleph that witnessed in the church, he took therefore the heritage,” he saith: “Dauid, in his mercie, he gat the siege of the kingdom in worlds. Hely for that he loued the zeale of Gods lawe, was taken vppe into heauen. Ananie, Azarye, and Misael,” hee sales, “weren deliueret thoore through true beliefe out of the hot flame of fire. True Daniel in his simplenes was deliueret from the lyons mouthe. Bethinke ye therefore,” he sales, “by generation and generation, and thou shalt neuer finde that he fayled that man that truely trusted it. him. And therefore dread you nought, he sales, “of the words of a sinfull man: his glory is,” he sales, “but wormes and tordes: 35 hee is to day,” he saith y made hie; “to morow,” he sayes, “he is not founden, for he is turned,” he sayes, “into his earth againe, and the mind of him is perishet. Sennes therefore” he saies, “be ye comfortet, and die manly in the law: for when ye hah done that that God commaunds you to doe, ye shulen be glorious in him.”
And Dauid the king sales also on this wise in the Psalter booke: “blesset be they (Lord) that keepen thy law, in worldes of worldes they shall praise thee.” And in Leuiticus sayes God thus: “gif that yee wenden in mine hestes and keepen my commaundementes, and done hem, I shal bring forth their fruit, and trees shall be fulfilled with apples. And ye shallen cate your bread in fulnesse, ye shoulen dwell in your land without drede, I shall glue peace in your costes, ye shal sleepe and no man shall feare you. Euill beastes I shal done away from you, and sword shal not passe your termes, ye shuln pursue your enemies, and they shall fall before you; fiftie of yours shulne pursue an hundreth of heren, an hundret of yours, a thousand of theirs: your enemies, “he saith, “shulen fal through sword, and your sute. I shall” he sayes, “behold you and make you to waxe, and yee shall be multipliet: And I shall strength with you my couenant, ye shall eat the aldest, and the new shull come in thereon: and yee shuln cast forth the olde. I shall dwell in the midst of you, and I shal wend amonges you, and shal be your God, and ye shulne be my people. If that yee heare me not, ne done nought all my hestes, but dispisen my law, and my domes, and that ye done not the things that of me bene ordenet, and breaken my commaundements and my couenant: I shall doe these things to you. I shall visite you surely in nede and brenning, which shal dimme your eghenen, and shal wast your liues about nought: Ye shulne sowe your sede, for hit shal be deuouret of enemies; I shal put my face against you, and ye shall fall before your enemies.
And ye shulden be vnderlinges to them that han hatet you, ye shall flee, no man pursuing. And if ye will not be buxome to me, I shall adde, therevnto, themes, and seuenfold blame. And I shall all to brast the hardnes of you, I shall geue the heauen aboue you as yron, and the earth as brasse. About nought shall your labor be, for the earth shall bring you forth no fruit, ne tree shall geue none apples to you. If that ye wenden against me, and will not heare me, I shall adde hereto, seuen fold woundes for your sinnes. I shall send amongest you beastes of the field that shall deuour you and your beastes, I shall bring you into a field, and wayes shuln be desart. And if that ye will not receiue lore, but wenden againste me, I will also wenden againste you, and I shall smite you seuen sithes for your sinnos. I shall leade in vpon you, sword, venger of my couenant: and vpon the fleen into cities, I shal send pestilence in the middest of you. So that ten women shall bake their bread in one furnace, and yeld them again by waight, and ye shall eat, and not be fillet. If that yee heare me not by these things, but wenden against me, I shall wend in against you in a contrarie woodnesse, and blame you with setten plagues for your sinnes; so that they soulen eat the flesh of your sonnes and of your daughters. And insomuch my soule shall loth you, that I shall bring your cities into wildernesse, and your sanctuaries I shall make desart, ne I shall not ouer that receiue sweet oder of your mouth. And I shall disperple 36 your land, and enemies shulen maruel thereon, when they shulen inhabite it; I shal disperpel you among heathen, and draw my sworde after you.” These vengeances and many too, God said should fall on them that breake his bidding, and dispiseth his lawes, and his domes. Than sithe Christ become man, and bought vs with his heart bloud, and has shewed vs so great loue, and giuen vs an easie law, of the best that euer might be made, and to bring vs to the Joy of heauen, and we dispise it and louen it nought; what vengeance will be taken here on, so long as he has suffered vs, and so mercifully abidden, when Hee shall come, that righteous iudge, in the cloudes, to dome this world? Therefore turne we vs to him, and leaue sinne that hee hates, and, ouer all thinges, maintaine his law that he confirmed with his death. For other lawes that men had made, should be domed, at that day, by the iust law of Christ, and the maker that them made; and then we wonne that long life and that ioy that Poul speaketh of, “that eye ne see not, ne eare heard not, ne into mans heart ascended not, the blisse and ioy that God hath ordeined to them that louen him and his lawes.”
Deare worshipfull sirs, in this world I beseech you for Christes loue, as ye that I trow louen Gods law and trouth, (that, in these daies, is greatly borne abacke) that they wollen vouchsafe these thinges, that I send you written, to Gods worship, to let them be shewed in the parliament as your wits can best conceiue, to most worship to our God, and to shewing of the trouth and amending of holy church. My conclusions and mine appeale, and other true matters of Gods law (gif any man can find therin error, falsenesse, or default, prouet by the law of Christ clearly to christen mens knowledge), I shall reuoke my wrong conceit, and by Gods law be amendet: euer teadie to holde with Gods law, openly and priuily, with Gods grace, and nothing to hold, teach, or maintaine, that is contrarie to his law.
Of the process, answers, and condemnation, of this worthy priest, and true servant of Christ, William Swinderby, you have heard. What afterwards became of him I have not certainly to say or affirm; whether he in prison died, or whether he escaped their hands, or whether he was burned, there is no certain relation mad. 37 This remaineth out of doubt, that during the time of King Richard II. no great harm was done unto him, which was to the year 1399, 38 at which time, king Richard being wrongfully deposed, Henry IV. invaded the kingdom of England; about the beginning of whose reign we read of a certain parliament holden at London, mentioned also by Thomas Walden, as is above spedfied, in which parliament it was decreed, that whosoever showed themselves to be favorers of Wickliff, who at that time were called Lollards, they should be apprehended; and if so be they did obstinately persevere in that doctrine, they should be delivered over unto the bishop of the diocese, and from him should be committed to the correction of the secular magistrate. This law, (saith the story) brought a certain priest to punishment the same year, who was burned in Smithfield in the presence of a great number. This have we drawn out of a piece of an old story, and it is most certain that such a priest was burned there for the affirmation of the true faith, but it doth not appear by the story what the priest’s name was: notwithstanding, by divers conjectures, it appeareth unto me that his name was Swinderby, 122 who was forced to recant, before, by the bishop of Lincoln. Whereby what is to be conjectured by the premises, let other men judge what they think, I have nothing hereof expressly to affirm. This is plain for all men to judge, who have here seen and read his story, that if he were burned, then the bishops, friars, and priests, who were the causes thereof, have a great thing to answer to the Lord, when he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, et seculum per ignem.
THE STORY AND PROCESS AGAINST WALTER BRUTE, 123 A BRITON. After the story of William Swinderby, I thought good and convenient next to adjoin the acts and doings of Walter Brute, his joint fellow and companion, being a lay-man and learned, brought up as it seemeth in the university of Oxford, being there also graduate; the tractation of whose discourse, as it is something long, so therein may appear divers things worthy to be read and considered. First, the mighty operation of God’s Spirit in him, his ripe knowledge, his modest simplicity, his valiant constancy, his learned tractations, and his manifold conflicts sustained against God’s enemies. On the contrary part, in his adversaries may appear, might against right; man’s authority against plain verity: against which, they, having nothing directly to answer, proceed in condemnation of him against whom they are able to bring forth no confutation. The chiefest occasion that seemed to stir up the heart and zeal of this Walter against the pope, was the impudent pardons and indulgences of pope Urban VI., granted to Henry Spencer, bishop of Norwich, to fight against pope Clement VII., mentioned before, at page 51: secondly, the wrongful condemnation of the articles and conclusions of William Swinderby. The whole order whereof, in the process here following more plainly may appear.
THE PROCESS HAD BY JOHN, BISHOP OF HEREFORD, AGAINST WALTER BRUTE, A Lay-man and learned, of the Diocese of Hereford, touching the cause of Heresy, as they call it; set forward by the way of the Bishop’s Office, etc., at the Instruction of certain Faithful Christians, as he termed them, but in deed, cruel and false Promoters. In the name of God, Amen: To all manner of faithful christian people, that shall see and hear this our present process, John, by the sufferance of God, bishop of Hereford, sendeth greeting and continual charity in the Lord. We would that you all should know, that of late, by many faithful christian people, and specially zealous followers of the catholic faith, it was lamentably done us to understand, by way of complaint, that a certain son of ours going out of kind, named Walter Brute, a lay person, learned, of our diocese, hath, under a cloaked show of holiness, damnably seduced the people; and, setting behind him the fear of God, doth seduce them as much as he can, from day to day; informing and teaching openly and privily as well the nobles as the commons, in certain conclusions heretical, schismatical, and erroneous, and also heretofore condemned: and they have also probably exhibited against the same Walter, the articles under-written, in manner and form as followeth.
ARTICLES EXHIBITED AND DENOUNCED TO THE BISHOP, AGAINST WALTER BRUTE, BY CERTAIN PRIESTS AND FRIARS.
Reverend father and lord! we, the faithful people of Christ, and zealous lovers of the catholic faith, and also your humble and devout children, do minister and exhibit to your reverend fatherhood the articles under-written, touching the catholic faith, contrary and against malicious persons, and detractors of the same faith, and the determinations of holy mother church; and namely against the child of Belial, one Walter Brute, a false teacher and seducer amongst the people: humbly beseeching, that you would vouchsafe to have regard to the correction of the enormities underwritten, according unto the canonical constitutions, even as to your office pastoral doth lie and belong. Imprimis , We do give and exhibit, and intend to prove, that the same Walter Brute, being unmindful of his salvation, hath been, by many and divers faithful christian people, sundry times accused of the cursoriness of heresy, as by the swift report, slander, and rumor of the people, proceeding before the most reverend father and lord, lord William archbishop of Canterbury, and also before the reverend father and lord, lord John, late bishop of Hereford, your predecessor, and now bishop of St. Asaph, 124 hath been testified; and also hath been many and divers times cited to answer unto articles by him against the catholic faith avouched, and openly and publicly taught. But he, in this matter of heretical cursoriness (so grievously and shamefully spoken of), hath never regarded to purge his innocency; but lurkingly, and running into corners, hath many and sundry years labored to advance things erroneous and schismatical, and also heresies, and to imprint them in the hearts of faithful people. Item, The aforesaid Walter Brute hath openly, publicly, and notoriously, avouehed, and commonly said and taught, and stubbornly affirmed, that every christian man, yea, and woman, being without sin, may make the body of Christ as well as the priest. Item, The same Walter hath notoriously, openly, and publicly, avouched and taught, that in the sacrament of the altar there is not the very body, but a sign and a memorial only. Item, The aforesaid Walter hath said commonly, and avouched, and also hath labored to inform men and companies, that no man is bound to give tithes or oblations; and if any man will needs give, he may give his tithes and oblations to whom he will, excluding thereby their curates. Item, That such as do preach and prefer croised matters, and pardons (granted by the high bishop to them that helped the purpose of the reverend father lord Henry, by the grace of God, bishop of Norwich, when he took his journey upon him to fight for the holy father the pope), are schismatics and heretics; and that the pope cannot grant such manner of pardons. Item, The said Walter hath oftentimes said, and commonly avouched, that the pope is Antichrist, and a seducer of the people, and utterly against the law and life of Christ. Item, Whereas, of late 125 your reverence did, at the instance of faithful christian people, proceed in form of law against William Swinderby; and that the said William Swinderby had, unto the said articles objected against him, given up his answers in writing, containing in them errors, schisms, and heresies, even as you, with the mature counsel of masters and doctors in divinity, and other faculties, have determined and given sentence, and have pronounced the same William Swinderby to be a heretic and a schismatic, and an erroneous teacher of the people: nevertheless the aforenamed Walter hath openly, publicly, and notoriously, said, avouched, and stubbornly affirmed, that the said William’s answers (whereof notice hath been given before) are good, righteous: and not able to be convinced, in that they contain none error; and that your sentence beforesaid, given against the same William, is evil, false, and unjust; and that you and your assistants have wickedly, haughtily, perversely, and unjustly, condemned the answers aforesaid.
Now, thereupon immediately, those same faithful christian people have instantly required, that we would vouchsafe that other articles given by the same faithful christians against the said William Swinderby, 41 together with the writings and answers of the same William thereunto, should be admitted against Walter Brute, mentioned of in this matter of cursed heresy; of which articles and answers the tenors do follow in these words.
Imprimis, That one William Swinderby, pretending himself priest, was of certain articles and conclusions erroneous, false, schismatical, and heretical, by him preached at divers places and times before a great multitude of faithful christians, judicially convinced; and the same articles and conclusions did he, enforced by necessity of law, revoke and abjure, some as heretical, and other as erroneous and false; and for such did he avouch them, ever afterward promising so to take and believe them, and that from thenceforth he would openly or privily preach, teach, or affirm none of them; nor that he should make sermon or preach within your diocese, without license demanded and obtained.
II. Item, the conclusions abjured by the said William do follow, and are such. 1. Impriimis, That men, by the rule of charity, may demand debts, but by no means imprison any man for debts; and that the party so imprisoning a body, is excommunicated. 2. Item, That if the parishioners shall know their curate to be incontinent and naughty, they ought to withdraw from him their tithes, etc. 3. Item, That tithes are mere almosies; and in case that the curates shall be ill, they may be lawfully bestowed upon others by the temporal owners, etc. 4. Item, That an evil curate to excommunicate any under his jurisdiction for withholding of tithes, is naught else, etc. 5. Item, That no man may excommunicate any body, except that first he know him excommunicate of God; neither do those that communicate with such a one:, incur the sentence of excommunication by any manner of means. 6. Item, That every priest may absolve every sinner being contrite, and is bound to preach the gospel unto the people, notwithstanding the prohibition of the bishops. 7. Item, That a priest, receiving by bargain any thing of yearly annuity, is in so doing a schismatic, and excommunicate. 8. Item, He doth assuredly believe, as he avoucheth, that every priest being in deadly sin, if he dispose himself to make the body of Christ, doth rather commit idolatry, than make Christ’s body. 9. Item, That no priest doth enter into any house, but to handle ill the wife, the daughter, or the maid, and therefore, etc. 10. Item, That the child is not rightly baptized, if the priest, etc. 11. Item, That no manner of person if he live against God’s law, etc.
III. Item, The same William, against the things premised and his revocation and abjuration, not to his heart converting, but from evil to worse perverting, did turn aside into our diocese, where, running to and fro in divers places, he hath of his own rash head presumed to preach, or rather to pervert, etc.
IV. Item, After that we had heard divers rumors, and slanders of very many, we directed divers monitions and commandments comminatory, to be sent abroad by our commissaries to sundry place of our diocese, that no person, of what estate, degree, or condition soever he were, should presume to preach or to teach the sacred Scripture to the people, in places holy or profane, within our diocese, etc.
VI. Item, The same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath sithens and against those monitions, inhibitions, and precepts, and (that which is more abominable to be spoken) in contempt of the high bishop’s dignity, and to the slander and offense of many people, presumed in divers places of our said diocese to preach, or rather to pervert, and to teach, the forementioned and other heretical, erroneous, and schismatical devices.
VII. Item, The same William, in preaching to the people on Monday, to wit, the first of August, in the year of our Lord 1390, in the church of Whitney, in our diocese, held and affirmed, That no prelate of the world, of what state, pre-eminence, or degree soever he were, having cure of souls and being in deadly sin, etc.
VIII. Item, The same William in many places said and affirmed, in the presence of many faithful christian people. That after the sacramental words uttered by the priest, having the intent to consecrate, there is not made the very body of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
XIV. Item, That the pope cannot grant such kind of annual pardons, because there shall not be so many years to the day of judgment, as are contained in the pope’s bulls or pardons. Whereby it followeth, that pardons are not so much worth as they are noised and praised to be.
XVII. Item, That it stands not in the power of any prelate, of what private religion soever he be, to give, by letters, benefits of their order; neither do such kind of benefits given profit them to whom they be given, for the salvation of souls.
XVIII. Item, That the same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath many times and often resorted to a certain desert wood called Derwalswood, of our diocese, and there, in a certain unhallowed chapel (nay, a profane cottage), hath presumed of his own proper rashness, to celebrate, etc.
Which things being done, the same faithful christian people, and especially Sir Waiter Pride, the penitentiary of our cathedral church of Hereford, personally appearing before us, sitting in our judgment seat in the parish church of Whiteborne of our diocese, brought forth and exhibited two public instruments against the same Walter Brute, in the case of cursed heresy aforesaid, of which instruments here followeth the tenors and articles in this sort.
THE FIRST INSTRUMENT EXHIBITED BY CERTAIN CANONS OF HEREFORD AGAINST WALTER BRUTE.
In the name of God, Amen. Be it evidently known to all persons, by this present public instrument, that in the year from the incarnation, after the course and computation of the church of England, 1391, the indiction 14, 126 and of the pontifical office of our most holy father and lord in Christ, lord Boniface IX. by God’s wisdom pope, the second year, the fifteenth day of the month of October, in the dwelling-house of the worshipful man. Master John Godemoston, canon of the cathedral church of Hereford, in the presence of me, the public notary underwritten, and of witnesses subscribed, Walter Brute a layman, learned, of Hereford diocese, personally appearing, said, avouched, and stiffly maintained, that the said bishop of Hereford, and assistants who were with him the third day of the aforesaid month of October, the year of our Lord aforesaid, in the church of Hereford, did naughtily, wickedly, perversely, and unjustly, condemn the answers of Sir William Swinderby, chaplain, given by the same Sir William to the same lord bishop in writing, and also the articles ministered by the same Sir William.
And, furthermore, he said, held, and avouched, that the same conclusions given by the same Sir William, even as they were given, are true and catholic. Item, As touching the matters objected against him by them that stood by, concerning the sacrament of the altar; he said, that after the sacramental words there doth remain very bread, and the substance thereof after the consecration of the body of Christ; and that there do not remain accidents without substance or subject after the consecration of the body of Christ. And as touching this matter, the doctors hold divers opinions.
All and every of these things were done, even as they be abovewritten and rehearsed in the year of our Lord, pontifical office, month, day, and place aforesaid, at supper time of the day aforenamed; then and there being present the worshipful and discreet men, Sir Walter Ramsbury, chief chaunter of the said cathedral church of Hereford, Roger Hoore, canon of the same church, Walter Wall, chaplain of the said church of Hereford (being a vicar of the choral), and certain other worthy witnesses of credit, that were specially called and desired to the premises. 43 And I, Richard Lee, wheeler, clerk of Worcester, being a public notary by the authority apostolic, was personally present at all and singular the premises, whilst that, as is before rehearsed, they were done and a doingin the year of our Lord, 1391; pontifical office, month, day, place, and the hour aforesaid: and I did see, write, and hear, all and singular those things thus to be done, and have reduced them into this public manner and form; and, being desired truly to testify the premises, have sealed the said instrument made hereupon, with mine accustomed seal and name.
FORM OF THE SECOND INSTRUMENT.
In the name of God, Amen. Be it plainly known to all persons, by this present public instrument, that in the year from the incarnation of the Lord, after the course and computation of the church of England, 1391, 44 the indiction fifteen, in the third year of the pontifical office of the most holy father in Christ and cur lord, lord Boniface, pope, by the providence of God, the ninth, and in the nineteenth day of the month of January; Walter Brute, layman, of Hereford diocese, personally appearing before the reverend father in Christ and lord, lord John, by God’s grace bishop of Hereford, in the presence of me, being a public notary, and one of the witnesses under-written, did say, hold, publish, and affirm, the conclusions hereafter written: that is to say, that christian people are not bound to pay tithes either by the law of Moses, or by the law of Christ. Item, That it is not lawful for Christians, for any cause in any case, to swear by the Creator, neither by the creature. Item, He confesseth openly and of his own accord,46 that within the same month of January, he did eat, drink, and communicate with William Swinderby, not being ignorant of the sentence of the said reverend father, whereby the same William Swinderby was pronounced a heretic, schismatic, and a false seducer of the common people; which conclusions the same reverend father caused to be written, and in writing to be delivered to the same Walter, which when he had seen and read, he said also that he did maintain and justify them according to the laws aforesaid. These things were done in the chamber of the said bishop of Hereford, at his manor of Whiteborne of the said diocese of Hereford: there being then present the same bishop abovesaid, Master Reynold, of Wolston, canon of Hereford; Sir Philip Dilesk, parson of the parish church of Blamuwryn; 47 Thomas Guildereld, parson of the church of English-Byknore; 48 John Cresset, parson of the church of Whiteborne; and Thomas Wallewayne, household servant; especially called and desired for witnesses to the premises; being of the diocese of Hereford and St. Asaph.
And I, Benedict Come, clerk of the diocese of St. Asaph, public notary, by the apostolic authority of the diocese of St. Asaph, was personally present, together with the witnesses before named, at all and singular these and other things here premised, whilst they were so done and a doing; and did see, hear, and write those things so to be done, as is before-mentioned; and did write the same, and reduce them into this public form; and with my wonted and accustomed seal and name have sealed it, being desired and required truly to testify the premises.
At last, the aforesaid Walter Brute did present and cause to be presented to us (at divers places and times, assigned by us to the same Walter, to answer to the former conclusions and articles) divers scrolls of paper, written with his own proper hand, for his answers to the same articles and conclusions above written; he, partly appearing by his own self, before us sitting in our judgment seat, and partly by his messengers, specially appointed to that purpose; of which scrolls, the tenors do follow in order word by word, and be on this manner.
CERTAIN EXHIBITS OF WALTER BRUTE, IN WRITING, PRESENTED TO THE BISHOP FOR HIS DEFENCE.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. I Walter Brute, sinner, lay-man, husbandman, and a Christian (having my offspring of the Britons, both by my father’s and mother’s side), of the Britons have been accused to the bishop of Hereford, that I did err in many matters concerning the catholic christian faith, by whom I am required that I should write an answer in Latin to all those matters; whose desire I will satisfy to my power, protesting first of all, before God and before all the world, that like as it is not my mind, through God’s grace, to refuse the known truth, for any reward, greater or smaller, yea, be it never so big, nor yet for the fear of any temporal punishment; even so it is not my mind to maintain any erroneous doctrine for any commodity’s sake. And, if any man, of what state, sect, or condition soever he be, will show me that I err in my writings or sayings, by the authority of the sacred Scripture, or by probable reason grounded on the sacred Scripture, I will humbly and gladly receive his information. But, as for the bare words of any teacher, Christ only excepted, I will not simply believe, except he shall be able to establish them by the truth of experience, or of the Scripture; because that in the holy apostles elected by Christ, there hath been found error by the testimony of the holy Scripture, because that Paul himself doth confess that he rebuked Peter, for that he was worthy to be rebuked [Galatians 2] There have been errors found in the holy doctors, that have been before us, as they themselves confess of themselves. And oftentimes it falleth out, that there is error found in the teachers in our age, who are of contrary opinions among themselves; and some of them do sometimes determine one thing for truth, and others do condemn the self-same thing to be heresy and error. Which protestation premised, I will here place two suppositions or cases for a ground and a foundation of all things that I shall say; out of which I would gather two probable conclusions established upon the same, and upon the sacred Scripture. By which conclusions, when they shall be declared after my manner and fashion, it shall plainly appear what my opinion and judgment is concerning all matters that I am accused of But because I am ignorant and unlearned, I will get me under the mighty defences of the Lord: O Lord! I will remember thine only righteousness.
God the Father Almighty uncreate, the maker of heaven and earth, hath sent his Son, that was everlastingly begotten, into this world, that he should be incarnated for the salvation and redemption of mankind; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, everlastingly proceeding from the Father and the Son, and was born of Mary the virgin, to the end that we might be born anew. He suffered passion under Pontius Pilate for our sins, laying down his life for us, that we should lay down our life for our brethren. He was crucified, that we should be crucified to the world, and the world to us. He was dead, that he might redeem us from death, by purchasing for us forgiveness of sins. He was buried, that we, being buried together with him into death by baptism, and that we, dead to sins, should live to righteousness. He descended into hell, thereby delivering man from thraldom and from the bondage of the devil, and restoring him to his inheritance which he lost by sin. The third day he rose from the dead, through the glory of the Father, that we also should walk in newness of life. He ascended up to the heavens, to which nobody hath ascended, saving he that descended, from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven. He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, until his enemies be made his footstool; he being, in very deed, so much better than the angels, as he hath obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than they. From whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, according to their works, because the Father hath given all judgment to the Son. In whose terrible judgment we shall rise again, and shall all of us stand before his judgment seat; and receive joy as well bodily as spiritually, for ever to endure, if we be of the sheep placed at the right hand; or else punishment both of body and soul, if we shall be found amongst goats, placed on the left hand, etc.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, very God and very man, a king for ever, by establishing an everlasting kingdom, ‘breaking to powder all the kingdoms of the world’ [Daniel 2], ‘a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedec,’ whereby also he is able evermore to save such as by him come unto God, and always liveth to entreat for us’ [Hebrews 7]: he, ‘offering one sacrifice for our sins, hath made perfect for ever by one oblation those that be sanctified’ [Hebrews 10] Being the wisdom that cannot be deceived, and the truth that cannot be uttered, he hath in this world taught the will of the Godhead of his Father, which will, he hath in work fulfilled, to the intent that he might faithfully instruct us, and hath given the law of charity, to be of his faithful people observed; which he hath written in the hearts and minds of the faithful with the finger of God, where is the Spirit of God, searching the inward secrets of the Godhead. Wherefore his doctrine must be observed above all other doctrines, whether they be of angels or of men, because that he could not, nor would not err in his teaching. But in men’s doctrine there chanceth oftentimes to be error; and therefore we must forsake their doctrines, if cloakedly or expressly they be repugnant to the doctrine of Christ. Men’s doctrines being made for the people’s profit, must be allowed and observed, so that they be grounded upon Christ’s doctrine, or at least be not repugnant to his words.
If the high bishop of Rome, calling himself the servant of the servants of God, and the chief vicar of Christ in this world, do make and maintain many laws contrary to the gospel of Jesu Christ, then is he of those that have come in Christ’s name, saying, I am Christ, and have seduced many a one, by the testimony of our Savior in Matthew 24; and the idol of desolation sitting in the temple of God, and taking away from him the continual sacrifice for a time, times, and half a time, which idol must be revealed to the christian people, by the testimony of Daniel, whereof Christ speaketh in the gospel; ‘When ye shall see the abomination of desolation that was told of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let him that readeth understand;’ and he is the pestiferous mountain infecting the whole universal earth, as witnesseth Jeremy, chapter 51, and not the head of Christ’s body. ‘For the ancient person in years, and honorable in reverence, he is the head: and the prophet teaching lies is the tail,’ as Isaiah allegeth, chapter 9; and he is that wicked and sinful captain of Israel, whose foreappointed day of iniquity is come in time of iniquity, who shall take away Cidarim, and take away the crown, [Ezekiel xxi.] to whom it was said, ‘Forasmuch as thy heart was exalted, and thou didst say, I am a God, and sittest in the seat of God, in the heart of the sea, seeing thou art a man and not God, and hast given thine heart, as if it were the heart of God; therefore, behold I will bring upon thee the most strong and mighty strangers of the nations, and they shall draw their swords upon the beauty of thy wisdom, and shall defile the commandments, and kill thee, and pull thee out; and thou shalt die in the destruction of the slain.’
And it followeth, ‘In the multitude of thine iniquities, and of the iniquities of thy merchandise, thou hast defiled thy sanctification. I will therefore bring forth a fire from the midst of the whole earth, and will make thee as ashes upon earth. Thou art become nothing, and never shalt thou be any more,’ [Ezekiel 28] Furthermore, he is the ‘idle shepherd, forsaking his flock, having a sword on his arm, and another sword in his right eye’ [Zechariah 11], and who, ‘sitting in the temple of God, doth advance himself above all that is called God, or whatsoever is worshipped,’ by the testimony of Paul to the Thessalonians, second epistle, chap. 3: ‘And in the defection or falling away shall the man of sin be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth.’ ‘For every kingdom divided in itself shall be brought to desolation.’ He is also, besides, ‘the beast ascending up out of the earth, having two horns like unto a lamb, but he speaketh like a dragon;’ and as ‘the cruel beast ascending up out of the sea, whose power shall continue forty and two months.’ He worketh the things that he hath given to the image of the beast. ‘And he compelled small and great, rich and poor, free-men and bond-slaves, to worship the beast, and to take his mark in their forehead or their hands,’ [Revelation 8] And thus, by the testimony of all these places, is he the chief Antichrist upon the earth, and must be slain with the sword of God’s word, and cast, with the dragon, the cruel beast, and the false prophet that hath seduced the earth, into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented world without end.
If the city of Rome do allow his traditions, and do disallow Christ’s holy commandments and Christ’s doctrine, that it may confirm his traditions, then is she Babylon the great, or the daughter of Babylon, and the great whore sitting upon many waters,’ with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth are become drunken with the wine of her harlotry, lying open to lewdness; with whose spiritual whoredom, enchantments, witchcrafts, and Simon Magus merchandises, the whole round world is infected and seduced; saying in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen, and widow I am not, neither shall I see sorrow and mourning.’ Yet is she ignorant that within a little while shall come the day of her destruction and ruin by the testimony of Revelation, chap. 17, because that from the time that the continual sacrifice was taken away, and the abomination of desolation placed, there be passed twelve hundred and ninety days, by the testimony of Daniel [chap. 12]; and the chronicles added do agree to the same. And the holy city also hath been trodden under foot of the heathen for forty-two months, and the woman was nourished up in the wilderness (unto which she fled for fear of the face of the serpent) during twelve hundred and sixty days, or else for a time, times, and half a time, which is all one. All these things be manifest by the testimony of Revelation, and the chronicles thereto agreeing. And, as concerning the fall of Babylon aforesaid, it is manifest in the Apocalypse [chap. 14], where it is said, ‘In one day shall her plagues come, death, lamentation, and famine, and she shall be burned with fire. For, strong is the Lord, which shall judge her.’ And again, ‘Babylon, that great city, is fallen, which hath made all nations to drink of the wine of her whoredom.’ And thirdly, ‘One mighty angel took up a millstone, that was a very great one, and did cast it into the sea, saying, With such a violence as this is, shall that great city Babylon be overthrown, and shall no more be found. For her merchants were the princes of the earth, and with her witchcraft all nations have gone astray, and in her is there found the blood of the saints and prophets.’ And of her destruction speaketh Isaiah [chap. 13]; ‘And Babylon, that glorious city, being so noble amongst kingdoms in the pride of the Chaldeans, it shall be that, like as the Lord did overturn Sodom and Gomorrah upside down, it shall never more be inhabited, nor have the foundation, laid in any age, from generation to generation.’
Jeremiah [chap. 51], saith, ‘Your mother that hath borne you is brought to very great confusion, and made even with the ground.’ And again, ‘The Lord hath devised and done as he hath spoken against the inhabiters of Babylon, which dwell richly in their treasures upon many waters; thine end is come.’ And thirdly, ‘Drought shall fall upon her waters, and they shall begin to be dry: for it is a land of graven images, and boasteth in her prodigious wonders: it shall never more be inhabited, neither be builded up in any age or generation. Verily even as God hath subverted Sodom and Gomorrah with their calves.’
Pardon me, I beseech you, though I be not plentiful in pleasant words; for if I should run after the course of this wicked world, and should please men, I should not be Christ’s servant. And, because I am a poor man, and neither have, nor can have, notaries hired to testify of these my writings, I call upon Christ to be my witness, who knoweth the inward secrets of my heart, that I am ready to declare the things that I have written after my fashion, to the profit of all christian people, and to the hurt of no man living, and am ready to be reformed, if any man will show me where I have erred; being ready, also (miserable sinner though I be), to suffer for the confession of the name of Christ and of his doctrine, as much as shall please him by his grace and love to assist me, a miserable sinner. In witness of all these things I have to this writing set the seal of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which I beseech him to imprint upon my forehead, and to take from me all manner of mark of Antichrist. Amen.
These two suppositions (as they are termed in the schools)written by Walter Brute, and exhibited unto the bishop, although they contained matter sufficient either to satisfy the bishop, if he had been disposed to learn, or else to have provoked him to reply again, if his knowledge therein had been better than his, yet could they neither of them work effect in him. But he, receiving and perusing the same, when he neither could confute that which was said, nor would reply nor answer by learning to that which was truth, finding other bye-cavillations, said, That this his writing was too short and obscure; and therefore required him to write upon the same again more plainly and more at large. Whereupon the said Master Walter, satisfying the bishop’s request, and ready to give to every one an account of his faith, in a more ample tractation reneweth his matter again before declared, writing to the bishop in words and form as followeth.
ANOTHER DECLARATION OF THE SAME MATTER, AFTER A MORE AMPLE TRACTATION, EXHIBITED BY WALTER BRUTE TO THE BISHOP Reverend father, forasmuch as it seemeth to you that my motion, in my two suppositions or cases, and in my two conclusions, is too short and somewhat dark, I will gladly now satisfy your desire, according to my small learning, by declaring the same conclusions; in opening whereof, it shall plainly appear, what I do judge in all matters that I am accused of to your reverence, desiring you, first of all, that your discretion would not believe that I do enterprize of any presumption to handle the secrets of the Scriptures, which the holy, and just, and wise doctors, have left unexpounded. It is not unknown to many, that I am in all points far inferior to them, whose holiness of life and profoundness in knowledge are manifold ways allowed. But as for mine ignorance and multitude of sins, they are to myself and others sufficiently known; wherefore; I judge not myself worthy to unloose or carry their shoes after them.
Do you therefore no otherwise deem of me, than I do of mine own self. But if you, shall find any goodness in my writings, ascribe it to God only, who, according: to the multitude of his mercy, doth sometimes reveal those things to idiots and sinners, which are hidden from the holy and wise, according to this saying, “I will praise and confess thee, O Father! for that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast disclosed them to the little ones; even so, O Father! because it hath thus pleased thee.”
And in another place: “I am come to judgment into this world, that they which see not, may see; and that they which see, may be made blind.” And Paul saith, “That God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the mighty; that no man shall boast in himself, but that all men should give the honor to God.”
It was commanded to Isaiah [chap. 6], bearing the type of Christ; “Go, and say to this people: Hear ye with your hearing, and do not understand? Behold ye the vision, and yet know ye not the thing that ye see? Make blind the heart of this people, and make dull their ears, and shut their eyes, lest that perchance with their eyes they should see, and with their ears they should hear, and with their hearts they should understand, and be converted, and I should heal them. And I said, How long, Lord? And he said, Until that the cities be made desolate without inhabitants, and the house without any person within it.”
Also in Isaiah [chap. 19], thus it is written: s“And the multitude of all nations which shall fight against Ariel, and all persons that have warred, and besieged, and prevailed against it, shall be as a dream that appeareth in the night, and as the hungry person dreameth that he eateth, but when he shall awake out of sleep, his soul is empty. And like as the hungry person dreameth that he eateth, and yet after that he shall awake he is still weary and thirsty, and his soul void of nourishment; even so shall it be with the multitude of all nations that have fought against the mount Sion. Be you amazed, and have great wonder; reel ye to and fro, and stagger ye; be ye drunken, and not with wine; stagger, but not through drunkennesss; for the Lord hath mingled for you the spirit of drowsiness. He shall shut your eyes, he shall cover your prophets and princes that see visions. And a vision shall be to you altogether like the words of a sealed book, which when he shall give to one that is learned, he shall say, Read here, and he shall answer, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book shall be given to one that is unlearned, and knoweth not his letters, and it shall be said unto him, Read; and he shall answer, I know not the letters, I am unlearned. Wherefore the Lord saith, Forasmuch as this people draweth nigh me with their mouths, and glorifieth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, and they have rather feared the commandments of men, and have cleaved to their doctrines: behold, therefore, I will add besides, and bring such a muse and marvel upon this people as shall make men amazed with marvelling. For wisdom shall perish from their wise men, and the understanding of the prudent persons shall be hidden.” [Isaiah 29] And soon after it followeth in the same place: “Yet a little while and Libanus shall be turned into Carmel, and Carmel counted for a copse or grove; 49 and in the same day shall the deaf folks hear the word of this book, and the eyes of the blind (changed from darkness and blindness) shall see.”
Nabuchadnezzar inquiring of Daniel, said, “Thinkest thou that thou canst truly declare me the dream that I have seen, and the meaning thereof?” And Daniel [chap. 2] said, “As for the mystery whereof the king doth ask, neither the wise men, magicians, soothsayers, nor enchanters, can declare to the king: but there is a God in heaven, that discloseth mysteries, who will declare to thee, O king Nabuchadnezzar, what things shall come to pass in the last times of all.” “To me also is this sacrament or mystery disclosed, not for any wisdom that is in me more than in all men living, but to the end that the interpretation might be made manifest to the king, and that thou shouldst know the cogitations of thy mind.”
It was also said to Daniel [chap. 12], “And thou Daniel, shut up the words, seal up the book, until the time appointed. Verily many people shall pass over, and manifold knowledge shall there be. And Daniel said to the man that was clothed with linen garments, who stood upon the waters of the flood: How long will it be before the end shall come of these marvellous things? And I heard the man that was clothed in linen apparel, who stood upon the waters of the floods, when he had lift up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and had sworn by him that liveth for evermore, that for a time, times, and half a time, and when the scattering abroad of the hand of the holy people shall be accomplished, then shall all these things be finished. sAnd I heard and understood not, and I said, O my Lord! what shall be after these things? And he said, Go thy ways, Daniel, for this talk is shut and sealed up until the time that is before appointed.”
All these things have I written to show that he that hath the key of David, “Who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth,” doth (when and how long it pleaseth him) hide the mysteries, and hide secrets of the Scriptures from the wise, prudent, and righteous; and otherwhiles at his pleasure revealeth the same to sinners, and lay-persons, and simple souls, that he may have the honor and glory in all things. Wherefore, as I have before said, if you shall find any good thing in my writings, ascribe the same to God alone; if you shall find otherwise, think ye the same to be written of ignorance, and not of malice. And if any doubt of error be showed me in all my writings, I will humbly allow your information and fatherly correction.
But why are such manner of matters moved touching the disclosing of Antichrist in this kingdom, more than in other kingdoms, and in this time also more than in time past? The answer as concerning the time of the motion is, that it is the last conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, in the sign of the Twins, 50 which is the house of Mercury, being the signifier of the christian people: which conjunction seemeth to me to betoken the second coming of Christ to reform his church, and to call men again, by the disclosing of Antichrist, to the perfection of the gospel, from their heathenish rites, and ways of the Gentiles, by whom the holy city was trampled under foot for 42 months, even as the conjunction of the said two planets being enclosed in the side of the Virgin, which is also the house of Mercury, did betoken the first coming of Christ, for the salvation of all people that were perished of the house of Israel, whereby to call them, through the same coming, to the full perfection of the gospel. As touching this calling o the heathen, speaketh Christ in the gospel, “I have also other sheep that are not of this fold, and those must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one sheepfold, and one shepherd.” For although the Gentiles be converted from the infidelity of their idolatry to the faith of Christ, yet are they not converted to the perfection of the law of Christ. And therefore did the apostles in the primitive church, lay no burden upon the Gentiles, but that they should abstain from heinous things, as from things offered to idols, and from blood, and things strangled, and fornication. As touching this second coming speaketh Isaiah, [chap. 11], “On that day the root of Jesse, which standeth for a sign or mark to the people, to him shall the heathen make their homage and supplication, and his sepulcher shall be glorious; and in that day shall it come to pass, that the Lord shall the second time put to his hand, to possess the remnant of his people,” etc. “And he shall lift up a token toward the nations, and he shall assemble the runagate people of Israel that were fled, and those that were dispersed of Judah shall he gather together from the four quarters of the earth.
Paul to the Thessalonians saith, “We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together before him, that you be not soon removed from your understanding, neither that you be put in fear, as though the day of the Lord were at hand, neither, as it were, by letter sent by us, neither by spirit, nor yet by talk. Let not any body by any means bring you out of the way, or seduce you, for except there shall first come a departing, and that the man of sin, the son of perdition, shall be disclosed, which maketh resistance and is advanced above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he doth sit in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God. Do you not remember, that whilst I was as yet with you, I told you of this? And now ye know what keepeth him back, that he may be uttered in his due time. For even now doth he work the mystery of iniquity; only that he which holdeth, may hold still until he be come to light; and then shall that wicked one be disclosed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; even him, whose coming is, according to the working of Satan, in all power, with signs and lying wonders, and in all deceitful leading out of the truth towards those that do perish, because that they receive not heartily the love of struth, that they might be saved.”
Christ being demanded of the apostles what should be the token of his coming, and of the end of the world, said unto them, “There shall come many in my name, saying, I am Christ, and they shall seduce many:” also he telleth them of many other signs; of battles, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes. But the greatest sign of all he teacheth to be this, “When you shall see,” saith he, “the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, he that readeth let him understand.” But Luke in chap. 21 of his gospel, speaketh more plainly hereof; “When you therefore, shall see Jerusalem to be compassed about with an army, then know ye that the desolation thereof shall draw nigh.” And afterwards it followeth, “And they shall fall by the face of the sword, and shall be led away captive to all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden under foot of the heathen, until the times of the nations be fulfilled.” Now in Daniel thus it is written of this matter; “And after seventy-two weeks shall Christ be slain, neither shall that be his people, that will deny him. And as for the city and sanctuary, a people shall (with his captain that will come with them) destroy the said city and sanctuary, and his end shall be to be wasted utterly, till it be brought to nought; and, after the end of the war, shall come the desolation appointed. In one week shall he confirm the covenant to many, and within half a week shall the offering and sacrifice cease And in the temple shall there be the abomination of desolation, and even unto the end shall the desolation continue.”
And elsewhere, in Daniel, thus it is written, “From the time that the continual sacrifice shall be offered, and that the abomination shall be placed in desolation, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.”
Now if any man will behold the Chronicles, he shall find that after the destruction of Jerusalem was accomplished, and after the strong hand of the holy people was fully dispersed, and after the placing of the abomination (that is to say, the idol of desolation of Jerusalem, within the holy place, where the temple of God was before,) there had passed twelve hundred and ninety days, taking a day for a year, as commonly it is taken in the prophets; and the times of the heathen people are fulfilled, after whose rites and customs God suffered the holy city to be trampled under foot for forty and two months. For although the christian church, which is the holy city, continued in the faith from the ascension of Christ, even till this time, yet hath it not observed and kept the perfection of the faith all this whole season; for soon after the departure of the apostles, the faith was kept with the observation of the rites of the Gentiles, and not of the rites of Moses’ law, nor of the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, seeing that this time of the error of the Gentiles is fulfilled, it is likely that Christ shall call the Gentiles from the rites of their Gentility to the perfection of the gospel, as he called the Jews from the law of Moses to the same perfection in his first coming; that there may be one sheepfold of the Jews and Gentiles, under one shepherd. Seeing, therefore, that Antichrist is known, who hath seduced the nations, then shall the elect, after that they have forsaken the errors of their gentility, come, through the light of God’s word, to the perfection of the gospel, and that same seducer shall be slain with the sword of God’s word: so that by these things it doth partly appear unto me, why that at this time rather than at any other time, this matter of Antichrist is moved.
And why this motion is come to pass in this kingdom rather than in other kingdoms, methinks there is good reason; because no nation of the Gentiles was so soon converted unto Christ as were the Britons, the inhabitants of this kingdom. For to other places of the world there were sent preachers of the faith, who, by the working of miracles, and continual preaching of the word of God, and by grievous passion and death of the body, did convert the people of those places; but, in this kingdom, in the time of Lucius, king of the Britons, and of Eleutherius, bishop of the Romans, did Lucius hear from the Romans that were infidels (by the way of rumors and tales), of the christian faith which was preached at Rome. Who believed straightways, and sent to Rome, to Eleutherius, for men skillful to inform him more fully in the very faith itself; at whose coming he was joyful, and was baptized, with his whole kingdom. And, after the receiving of the faith, they never forsook it, neither for any manner of false preaching of others, neither for any manner of torments, or yet assaults of the Painims, as in other kingdoms it hath come to pass. And thus it seemeth to me the Britons, amongst other nations, have been, as it were by the special election of God, called and converted to the faith. Of them, as me seemeth, did Isaiah prophesy, saying; “For they did see, to whom there was nothing told of him, and they did behold, that had not heard of him.” And, again, “Behold, thou shalt call a nation which thou knewest not; and nations that have not known thee, shall run unto thee; for the Lord thy God, and the holy one of Israel shall glorify thee.”
Of this kingdom did St. John, in Revelation, prophesy, as me seemeth, where he said, “The dragon stood before the woman, which was about to be delivered of a child, to the intent that when she had brought it forth into the world, he might devour up her son: and she brought forth a child, which was a man-child, who should govern all nations with an iron rod. And the same Son was taken up to God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they may feed her one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”
And again, in the same chapter, “After the dragon saw that he was cast out upon the earth, he did persecute the woman, which brought forth the man-child. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness into her place, where she is fostered up for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
And the serpent did cast, as it were, a flood of water after the woman, to the intent that he might cause her to be drowned by the flood; and the earth, opening her mouth, did help the woman, and did swallow up the flood which the dragon did cast out of his mouth.”
Let us see how these sayings may be applied unto this kingdom rather than to other kingdoms. It is well known that this kingdom is a wilderness or a desert place, because the philosophers and wise men did not pass upon it, but did leave it for a wilderness and desert, because it is placed without the climates.
Unto this place fled the woman; that is to say, the church, which by faith did spiritually bring forth Christ into the world, where she was fed with the heavenly bread:, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, seeing that for so many days, taking a day for a year, the Britons continued in the faith of Christ; which thing cannot be found so of any christian kingdom, but of this desert. And well it is said, that she flew to this place. For from the East came the faith into Britain, not by walking in journey, nor yet by sailing; for then should it have come by Rome, Italy, Almaine, or France, which cannot be found: and therefore she flew over those places, and rested not in them, even as a bird, flying over a place, resteth not in the same, but resteth in this wilderness for a time, times, and half a time: that is, one thousand two hundred and sixty years, from the first coming of the faith into Britain until this present.
In saying for a time, times, and half a time, there is a going forward from the greater to the less. The greatest time that we name, is one thousand years; there is a time; and the next time, that is less, in the singular number, is one hundred years. In the plural number, “times” signify that there be more hundreds than one, at least two hundred years. Wherefore, if they be put under a certain number, it must needs be that they be two; but the same two cannot fitly be called some times, except they be hundreds. For in this, that there is a going down from the greater to the less, when it is said a time, times, and half a time, and that the number of one thousand is likely assigned for a time, it must needs follow, that times must be taken for hundreds, and half a time for sixty, because it is the greater half of a hundred years though fifty be the even half.
And when the serpent sent the water of the persecution after the woman to cause her to be drowned of the flood, then did the earth, that is to say, the stableness of faith, help the woman, by supping up the water of tribulation. For in the most cruel persecution of Dioclesian and Maximian against the Christians, when Christianity was almost every where rooted out, yet did they, in this kingdom, stand continually in the faith unmovable. And so, considering that the Britons were converted to the faith of Christ, as you would say, by an election and picking out amongst all the nations of the heathen, and that after they had received the faith, they did never start back from the faith for any manner of tribulation; it is not to be marvelled at if, in their place, the calling of the Gentiles be made manifest, to the profiting of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by the revealing of Antichrist.
But besides this, me seemeth that Ezekiel doth specially speak of them, where he speaketh of the fall of the prince of Tyre, saying: “Forasmuch as thy heart is lifted up, as if it were the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring upon thee some of the strongest of the heathen; and they shall draw their naked swords upon the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy comeliness, and they shall slay thee, and pull thee out; and thou shalt die in the slaughter of the slain persons, in the heart of the sea.”
This prince, who saith that he himself is God, and doth sit in God’s chair in the heart of the sea, doth signify, as most likely it seemeth to me, that Anti-christ shall be destroyed by the most mighty persons of the Gentile folk, through the sword of the word of God; because that amongst the other Gentiles there have been none more strong than the Britons, either in their body or their faith; and, in their bodily wars, there have been none more mighty than they, for never in wars have they been vanquished, but by their own sedition or treason. But how many kingdoms have they conquered! Yea, and neither by the most mighty city of Rome could they be driven out of their kingdom, until that God sent upon them pestilence and famine; whereby they, being wasted, were compelled to leave their country, which thing I have not heard of any other people. Now, in the faith, have they been amongst all the people the strongest, as is before said, because that by no tribulation could they be compelled to forsake the faith.
Wherefore of them this seemeth to me to be understood: “Then will I bring upon thee some of the strongest people, and they shall draw their naked swords,” etc. By these things it may plainly appear, why at this time, rather than in time past, this matter is stirred up; and why in this kingdom, rather than in other kingdoms, the calling of the Gentiles is treated of, to the verifying of the gospel, through the disclosing of Antichrist.
But forasmuch as many tales and fables are told of Antichrist and his coming, and many things, which do rather seduce than instruct the hearers, are applied to him out of the Scriptures of the prophets, we will briefly write those things which are spoken of him, and we will show that the same fable sprang from the error of people imagining, and from no truth of the Scriptures prophesying.
Now then they do say, that Antichrist shall be born in Babylon of the tribe of Dan, and conceived of the mixture of man and woman in sin, because that Christ was born of a virgin, and conceived of the Holy Ghost. They say, that he shall be an ill favored personage, because that it is written of Christ, “Comely and beautiful is he, beyond the sons of men.” They say, that he shall preach three years and half where Christ preached; and that he shall circumcise himself, and say that he is Christ, and the Messias, sent for the salvation of the Jews. And they say, that he shall three manner of ways seduce the people; by false miracles, gifts, and torments; so that whom he shall not be able to overcome with miracles or with gifts, those shall he go about to overcome with divers kinds of torments; and those that he shall will he seduce, mark with his tokens in their forehead or hands. He shall sit in the temple of God, and cause himself to be worshipped as God. He shall fight, as they say, with the two witnesses of Christ, Enoch and Elijah, and shall kill them; and he himself shall finally be slain with lightning. To this imagined man of their own imagination, but by none of the prophets foreshowed (at least in no such wise as this is), do they apply the prophets, as this of Daniel: “When the continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and abomination shall be placed to desolation:” that is, say they, when the worshipping of God shall be taken away, and desolation (to wit, Antichrist) shall abominably show forth himself to be worshipped, then shall there be twelve hundred and ninety days: that is to say, three years and a half: and this time do they say is the time, times, and half a time.
And when it is said in Daniel, “Blessed is he that looketh for, and cometh to one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days,” this, do they say, is thus to be understood: forty-five days of repentance to such as have worshipped Antichrist; which fortyfive days added to the one thousand two hundred and ninety, make one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days; which days, they that shall reach unto, shall be called blessed. They apply also to this Antichrist, this saying of Revelation, “I saw a beast rising up out of the seat having seven heads and ten horns, who had power given him to make forty-two months:” which months, as they say, do make three years and a half, in which Antichrist shall reign. And many other things there are told, and applied unfitly to this imagined Antichrist, that are not truly grounded upon the Scriptures.
Now let us show the errors of this fable: first of all, if there shall come such a one (saying expressly that he is Christ), what Christian would be seduced by him, though he should do ever so many miracles? Neither shall he come after the manner of a seducer, who shall show himself an express adversary. Neither is it likely that the Jews can he seduced by such a one, seeing that Christ is not promised unto them of the stock of Dan by any of the prophets, but of the stock of Judah: nor yet is he promised to them to be a king warlike, but peaceable, taking war away, and not making war. For of Christ saith Isaiah [chap. 2], “And in the last days, shall there be prepared the mountain of the house of the Lord, in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and to it shall all the nations have great recourse, and many people shall go and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he shall teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths. For out of Sion shall there go a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he shall judge the nations, and reprove much people. And they shall turn their swords into ploughsharest and their spears into scythes. There shall not a nation lift up itself against another nation, nor yet shall they be any more exercised to war.”
And again [Isaiah 9], “A little babe is born to us, and a son is given to us, and his imperial kingdom upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, the great Counsellor, the mighty God, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of his peace. He shall sit upon the seat of David, and upon his kingdom; that he may make it steadfast and strong in judgment and in justice, from henceforth and for evermore.”
Zachariah [chap. 9] doth say of Christ: “Rejoice thou greatly, O thou daughter Sion! be thou exceeding merry, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold, thy king shall come a righteous person and a Savior unto thee, and yet he a poor man, and getting up upon an ass, even upon a young colt of the she-ass.
And I will scatter abroad the chariot of Ephraim, and the horse of Jerusalem; and the bow of war shall be dispersed, and he shall speak peace to the nations, and his power shall be from the sea to the sea, and from the flood unto the borders of the earth.”
By which things it is manifest, that the wise Jews knew well enough, Christ to be promised to them of the stock of Judah, and not of the stock of Dan; and that he was given all to peace, and not to war: therefore it is not likely that they can he seduced by such a one. But if there should have been, in time to come, some such singular Antichrist, then would Christ, seeing he loved his, have said somewhat unto them of him. Now, of one singularly, doth he not speak, but of many, saying, “Many shall come in my name, and say, I am Christ; and they shall seduce many persons.” But now let us see, how the prophecies in Daniel, and in Revelation, aforesaid, be falsely and erroneously applied to the same imagined Antichrist. For in Daniel [chap. 9], thus it is written: “And after seventy-two weeks shall Christ be slain, and they which will deny him shall not be his people. And the city and sanctuary shall a people, with their captain that shall come with them, destroy; whose end shall be utter desolation, and after the end of the war a determined destruction. Now he shall in one week confirm his covenant towards many; and in the half week, shall the offering and sacrifice cease; and in the temple shall there be an abomination of desolation; and even to the fulfilling up of all, and to the end shall the desolation continue.”
And the abomination, that is, the idol of desolation, was placed by Adrian, in the last destruction, in Jerusalem, in the holy place; that is to say, in a place of the temple. And from that time hitherto have passed near about twelve hundred and ninety days, taking a day for a year, as Daniel takes it in his prophechies, and other prophets likewise. For Daniel, speaking of the sixty-two weeks, doth not speak of the weeks of days, but of years. So, therefore, when he saith, “From the time that the continual sacrifice was taken away,” etc., twelve hundred and ninety days must be taken for so many years, from the time of the desolation of Jerusalem, even unto the revealing of Antichrist; and not for three years and a half, which, they say, Antichrist shall reign. And again; whereas Daniel said, “How long till the end of these marvellous matters?” it was answered him, “For a time, and times, and half a time:” behold also, how unfitly they did assign this time, by three years and a half, which they say Antichrist shall reign. For whereas it is said “a time, times, and half a time;” there is a going downward from the greater to the less, from the whole to the part, because it is from a time to half a time. If, therefore, there be a going downward, from the whole to the part, by the midst (which is greater than the whole itself), the going downward is not meet or agreeing. And this is done when it is said, that a time, times, and half a time, is a year, two years, and half a year. Wherefore, more fitly it is said, that a time, times, and half a time, doth signify twelve hundred and ninety years, as is before said in the chapter preceding. Thus therefore is the prophecy of Daniel falsely applied to that imagined Antichrist.
Likewise is the process of the Apocalypse applied to the same imagined Anti-christ too erroneously. Because that the same cruel beast which came up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, to whom there was power given over every tribe, people, and tongue, and the power given for the space of forty-two months: this beast doth note the Roman emperors, who most cruelly did persecute the people of God, as well Christians as Jews. For when the condemnation of the great whore, sitting upon the many waters, was showed to John, he saw the same woman sitting upon the purple-colored beast, full of the names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns, and he saw a woman being drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesu.
And the angel, expounding, and telling him the mystery of the woman and the beast, that carried her, said, “The seven heads are seven hills, and are seven kings: five are fallen, one is, the other is not yet come: and when he shall come, he must reign a short time.
And the ten horns which thou sawest, are ten kings, who have not yet taken their kingdom, but shall receive their power as it were in one hour under the beast.” And, finally, he saith, “The woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which hath the kingdom over the kings of the earth.” And it is manifest that the city of Rome, at the time of this prophecy, had the kingdom over the kings of the earth. And this city was borne up and upholden by her cruel and beastly emperors; who, by their cruelty and beastliness, did subdue unto themselves, in a manner, all the kingdoms of the world, of zeal to have lordship over others, and not virtuously to govern the people that were their subjects, seeing that they themselves aid lack all virtue, and drew back others from the faith, and from virtue.
Wherefore that cruel beast coming up out of the sin, doth rightly note the Roman emperors, who had power over every language, people, and country. And the power of the beast was for fortytwo months, because that from the first emperor of Rome, that is to say, Julius Caesar, unto the end of Frederic, the last emperor of Rome, there were forty-two months, taking a month for thirty days, as the months of the Hebrews and Grecians are, and taking a day always for a year, as it is commonly taken in the prophets. By which things it may plainly appear how unfitly this prophecy is applied to that imagined Antichrist, and the forty-two months taken for three years and a half, which, they say, he shall reign in, against the saying of the prophets, because days are taken for years. As in the second chapter of Revelation, They shall be troubled ten days;” which do note the most cruel persecution of Dioclesian against the Christians, that endured ten years. And in another place of the Apocalypse it is written of “the smoke coming up out of the bottomless pit:” out of which pit there came forth grasshoppers into the earth, and to them was power given, as scorpions have power, to vex and trouble men five months. Now, it is manifest, that from the beginning of the friars minors and preachers,51 to the time that Annachanus began to disclose and uncover their hypocrisy, and their false foundation of valiant begging under the poverty of Christ, were five months, taking a month for thirty days, and a day for a year: and to Ezekiel were days given for years. Wherefore it is an unfit thing to assign the forty-two months, being appointed to the power of the beast, unto three years and a half, for the reign of that fantastical and imagined Antichrist; especially seeing that they do apply to his reign the twelve hundred and ninety days in Daniel, which make forty-two months, and in the Apocalypse they assign him forty-two months.
It is plain that the psaltery and the harp agree not. And, therefore, seeing that it is sufficiently showed that the same fabling tale of that imagined Antichrist to come, is a fable and erroneous; let us go forward to declare whether Antichrist be already come, and yet is he hid from many, and must be opened and disclosed within a little while according to the truth of the holy Scripture, for the salvation of the faithful.
And because that in the first conclusion of mine answer I have conditionally put it: Who is the Antichrist lying privy in the hid Scriptures of the prophets? I will pass on to the declaration of that conclusion, bringing to light those thinest, which lay hid in darkness, because nothing is hid which shall not be disclosed, and nothing covered which shall not be known. And therefore the thing which was said in the darkness, let us say in the light; and the thing that we have heard in the ear, let us preach upon the house-tops. I, therefore, as I have before said, so say, that if the high bishop of Rome, calling himself the servant of God and the chief vicar of Christ in this world, do make and justify many laws contrary to the gospel of Jesu Christ, then is he the chief of many, who, coming in the name of Christ, have said “I am Christ,” who