THE SIXTH BOOK,
THE LAST THREE HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE LOOSING OUT OF SATAN.
111. A PREFACE TO THE READER.CCORDING to the five sundry diversities and alterations of the church, so have I divided hitherto the order of this present church story into five principal parts, every part containing three hundred years. So that now coming to the last three hundred years, that is, to the last times of the church, counting from the time of Wickliff: forasmuch as in the compass of the last three hundred years are contained great troubles and perturbations of the church, with the marvellous reformation of the same through the wondrous operation of the Almighty; all which things cannot be comprehended in one book; I have therefore disposed the said latter three hundred years into divers books, beginning now with the sixth book at the reign of King Henry the Sixth. In which book, beside the grievous and sundry persecutions raised up by antichrist, to be noted, herein is also to be observed, that whereas it hath of long time been received and thought of the common people, that this religion now generally used hath sprung up and risen but of late, even by the space (as many do think) of twenty or thirty years, it may now manifestly appear, not only by the acts and monuments heretofore passed, but also by the histories hereafter following, how this profession of Christ's religion hath been spread abroad in England of old and ancient time, not only for the space of these two hundred late years, from the time of Wickliff, but hath continually from time to time sparkled abroad, although the flames thereof have never so perfectly burst out as they have done within these hundred years and more; as by these histories here collected and gathered out of registers, especially of the diocese of Norwich, shall manifestly appear: wherein may be seen what men, and how many both men and women, within the said diocese of Norwich, have been, which have defended the same cause of doctrine which now is received by us in the church. Which persons although then they were not so strongly armed in their cause and quarrel as of late years they have been, yet were they warriors in Christ's church, and fought to their power in the same cause. And although they gave back through tyranny, yet judge thou the best, good reader, and refer the cause thereof to God, who revealeth all things according to his determinate will and appointed time.