316. RIDLEY AND LATIMER DEBATE WITH "ANTONIAN."
A conference had betwixt Master Ridley and Master Latimer in prison, upon the objection of Antonian; meaning, by that name, some popish persecutor -- as Winchester; alluding thereby to the History of Victor, Book III. on African Persecutions.
Ridley.--"In writing again ye have done me an unspeakable pleasure, and I pray that the Lord may requite it you in that day; for I have received great comfort at your words: but yet I am not so filled withal, but that I thirst much more now than before, to drink more of that cup of yours, wherein ye mingle unto me profitable with pleasant. I pray you, good father, let me have one draught more to comfort my stomach; for surely except the Lord assist me with his gracious aid, in the time of his service, I know I shall play but the part of a white-livered knight. But truly my trust is in him, that in mine infirmity he should try himself strong, and that he can make the coward in his cause to fight like a man.-- Sir, now I daily look when Diotrephes with his warriors shall assault me; wherefore I pray you, good father, for that you are an old soldier, and an expert warrior, and God knoweth I am but a young soldier, and as yet of small experience in these feats, help me, I pray you, to buckle my harness. And now I would have you to think, that these darts are cast at my head of some one of Diotrephes' or Antonius' soldiers."
Antonian.--"All men marvel greatly, why you, after the liberty you have granted unto you, more than the rest, do not go to mass, which is a thing (as you know) now much esteemed of all men, yea, of the queen herself."
Ridley.--"Because no man that layeth hand on the plough, and looketh back, is fit for the kingdom of God, and also for the self-same cause why St. Paul would not suffer Titus to be circumcised, which is, that the truth of the gospel might remain with us uncorrupt. And again, If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a trespasser. This is also another cause: lest I should seem by outward fact to allow the thing, which I am persuaded is contrary to sound doctrine, and so should be a stumbling-stock unto the weak. But woe be unto him by whom offence cometh! it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the midst of the sea."
Latimer.--"Except the Lord help me, ye say. Truth it is: for without me, saith he, ye can do nothing; much less suffer death of our adversaries, through the bloody law now prepared against us. But it followeth, If you abide in me, and my word abide in you, ask what you will, and it shall be done for you. What can be more comfortable? Sir, you make answer yourself so well, that I cannot better it. Sir, I begin now to smell what you mean by travailing thus with me: you use me as Bilney did once, when he converted me, pretending as though he would be taught of me, he sought ways and means to teach me, and so do you. I thank you therefore most heartily. For indeed you minister armour unto me, whereas I was unarmed before and unprovided, saving that I give myself to prayer for my refuge."
Antonian.--"What is it then that offendeth you so greatly in the mass, that you will not vouchsafe once either to hear it or see it? and from whence cometh this new religion upon you? Have not you used in times past to say mass yourself?"
Ridley.--"I confess unto you my fault and ignorance; but know you that for these matters I have done penance long ago, both at Paul's Cross, and also openly in the pulpit at Cambridge, and I trust God hath forgiven me this mine offence: for I did it upon ignorance. But if you be desirous to know, and will vouchsafe to hear, what things do offend me in the mass, I will rehearse unto you those things which be most clear, and seem to repugn most manifestly against God's word, and they be these: the strange tongue; the want of the showing of the Lord's death; the breaking of the Lord's commandment of having a communion; the sacrament is not communicated to all under both kinds, according to the word of the Lord; the sign is servilely worshipped for the thing signified; Christ's passion is injured, forasmuch as this mass-sacrifice is affirmed to remain for the purging of sins: to be short, the manifold superstitions and trifling fondness which are in the mass, and about the same."
Latimer.--"Better a few things well pondered, than to trouble the memory with too much; you shall prevail more with praying, than with studying, though mixture be best, for so one shall alleviate the tediousness of the other. I intend not to contend much with them in words, after a reasonable account of my faith given: for it shall be but in vain. They will say, as their fathers said, when they have no more to say: We have a law, and by our law he ought to die. Be ye stedfast and unmovable, saith St. Paul: and again, Persistite, Stand fast: and how oft is this repeated, If ye abide, if ye abide, &c. But we shall be called obstinate, sturdy, ignorant, heady, and what not? so that a man hath need of much patience, having to do with such men."
Antonian.--"But you know how great a crime it is to separate yourself from the communion or fellowship of the church, and to make a schism or division. You have been reported to have hated the sect of the Anabaptists, and always to have impugned the same. Moreover, this was the pernicious error of Novatian, and of the heretics called Catharists, that they would not communicate with the church."
Ridley.--"I know that the unity of the church is to be retained by all means, and the same to be necessary to salvation. But I do not take the mass, as it is at this day, for the communion of the church, but a popish device, whereby both the commandment and institution of our Saviour Christ, for the oft-frequenting of the remembrance of his death, is eluded, and the people of God are miserably deluded. The sect of the Anabaptists, and the heresy of the Novatians, ought of right to be condemned, forasmuch as without any just or necessary causethey wickedly separated themselves from the communion of the congregation, for they did not allege that the sacraments were unduly ministered, but, turning away their eyes from themselves, wherewith according to St. Paul's rule they ought to examine themselves, and casting their eyes ever upon others, either ministers, or communicants with them, they always reproved something for the which they abstained from the communion, as from an unholy thing."
Latimer.--"I remember that Calvin beginneth to confute the Interim after this sort, with this saying of Hilary; The name of peace is beautiful, and the opinion of unity is fair; but who doubteth that to be the true and only peace of the church, which is Christ's?' I would you had that little book; there should you see how much is to be given to unity. St. Paul, when he requireth unity, joineth strait withal, according to Jesus Christ -- no further. Diotrephes now of late did ever harp upon unity, unity. 'Yea, sir,' quoth I, 'but in verity, not in popery. Better is diversity, than a unity in popery.' I had nothing again but scornful taunts, with commandment to the Tower."
Antonian.--"But admit there be in the mass, that peradventure might be amended, or at least made better; yea, seeing you will have it so, admit there be a fault: if you do not consent thereto, why do you trouble yourself in vain? do you not know, both by Cyprian and Augustine, that communion of sacraments doth not defile a man, but consent of deeds?"
Ridley.--"If it were any one trifling ceremony, or if it were some one thing of itself indifferent, (although I would wish nothing should be done in the church, which doth not edify the same,) yet, for the continuance of the common quietness I could be content to bear it. But, forasmuch as things done in the mass tend openly to the overthrow of Christ's institution, I judge that by no means, either in word or deed, I ought to consent unto it. As for that which is objected out of the fathers, I acknowledge it to be well spoken, if it be well understood. But it is meant of them which suppose they are defiled if any secret vice be either in the ministers, or in them that communicate with them; and is not meant of them which do abhor superstition, and wicked traditions of men, and will not suffer the same to be thrust upon themselves or upon the church instead of God's word and the truth of the gospel."
Latimer.--"The very marrow-bones of the mass are altogether detestable, and therefore by no means to be borne withal: so that of necessity the mending of it is to abolish it for ever. For, if you take away oblation and adoration, which do hang upon consecration and transubstantiation, the most papists of them all will not set a button by the mass, as a thing which they esteem not, but for the gain that followeth thereon. For, if the English communion, which of late was used, were as gainful to them, as the mass hath been heretofore, they would strive no more for their mass: from thence groweth the grief."
Antonian.--"Consider into what dangers you cast yourself, if you forsake the church; and you cannot but forsake it, if you refuse to go to mass. For the mass is the sacrament of unity: without the ark there is no salvation. The church is the ark, and Peter's ship. Ye know this saying well enough, He shall not have God to be his Father, which acknowledgeth not the church to be his mother. Moreover, Without the church, saith St. Augustine, be the life never so well spent, it shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven."
Ridley.--"The holy catholic or universal church, which is the communion of saints, the house of God, the city of God, the spouse of Christ, the body of Christ, the pillar and stay of the truth; this church I believe, according to the Creed; this church I do reverence, and honour in the Lord. But the rule of this church is the word of God, according to which rule we go forward unto life. And as many as walk according to this rule, I say with St. Paul, Peace be upon them, and upon Israel which pertaineth unto God. The guide of this church is the Holy Ghost. The marks whereby this church is known unto me in this dark world, and in the midst of this crooked and froward generation, are these: the sincere preaching of God's holy word, the due administration of the sacraments, charity, and faithful observing of ecclesiastical discipline, according to the word of God. And that the church or congregation which is garnished with these marks, is in very deed that heavenly Jerusalem, which consisteth of those that be born from above. This is the mother of us all, and by God's grace I will live and die the child of this church. Forth of this (I grant) there is no salvation; and I suppose the residue of the places objected are rightly to be understood of this church only. 'In times past,' saith Chrysostom, 'there were many ways to know the church of Christ; that is to say, by good life, by miracles, by chastity, by doctrine, by ministering the sacraments. But from that time that heresies did take hold of the church, it is only known by the Scriptures, which is the true church. They have all things in outward show, which the true church hath in truth. They have temples like unto ours.' And in the end concluded, 'Wherefore only by the Scriptures do we know which is the true church.' To that which they say, that the mass is the sacrament of unity, I answer, The bread which we break, according to the institution of the Lord, is the sacrament of the unity of Christ's mystical body. For we, being many, are one bread and one body, forasmuch as we all are partakers of one bread. But in the mass the Lord's institution is not observed; for we be not all partakers of one bread, but one devoureth all, &c. So that (as it is used) it may seem a sacrament of singularity, and of a certain special privilege for one sect of people, whereby they may be discerned from the rest, rather than a sacrament of unity, wherein our knitting together in one is represented."
Latimer.--"Yea, what fellowship hath Christ with antichrist? Therefore is it not lawful to bear the yoke with papists. Come forth from among them, and separate yourselves from them, saith the Lord. It is one thing to be the church indeed, another thing to counterfeit the church. Would God it were well known what is the forsaking of the church! In the king's days that dead is, who was the church of England? The king and his fautors, or mass-mongers in corners? If the king and the fautors of his proceedings, why be not we now the church, abiding in the same proceedings? If clanculary mass-mongers might be of the church, and yet contrary to the king's proceedings, why may not we as well be of the church, contrarying the queen's proceedings? Not all that be covered with the title of the church, are the church indeed. Separate thyself from them that are such, saith St. Paul. From whom? The text hath before, If any man follow other doctrine, &c., he is puffed up, and knoweth nothing, &c. Weigh the whole text, that ye may perceive what is the fruit of contentious disputations: but wherefore are such men said to know nothing, when they know so many things? You know the old verses: 'This is to be ignorant, to know many things without Christ. If thou knowest Christ well, thou knowest enough, though thou know no more.' Therefore would St. Paul know nothing but Jesus Christ crucified, &c. As many as are papists and mass-mongers, they may well be said to know nothing; for they know not Christ, forasmuch as in their massing they take much away from the benefit and merit of Christ."
Antonian.--"That church which you have described unto me is invisible, but Christ's church is visible and known. For else why would Christ have said, Dic ecclesi e, i. e. Tell it unto the church. For he had commanded in vain to go unto the church if a man cannot tell which it is."
Ridley.--"The church which I have described is visible, it hath members which may be seen; and also I have afore declared, by what marks and tokens it may be known. But if either our eyes are so dazzled, that we cannot see, or that Satan hath brought such darkness into the world, that it is hard to discern the true church; that is not the fault of the church, but either of our blindness, or of Satan's darkness. But yet, in this most deep darkness, there is one most clear candle, which of itself alone is able to put away all darkness: Thy word is a candle unto my feet, and a light unto my steps."
Antonian.--"The church of Christ is a catholic or universal church, dispersed throughout the whole world; this church is the great house of God; in this are good men and evil mingled together, goats and sheep, corn and chaff; it is the net which gathereth all kind of fishes: this church cannot err, because Christ hath promised it his Spirit, which shall lead it into all truth, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; that he will be with it unto the end of the world; whatsoever it shall loose or bind upon earth, shall be ratified in heaven, &c. This church is the pillar and stay of the truth; this is it for the which St. Augustine saith, he believeth the gospel. But this universal church alloweth the mass, because the more part of the same alloweth it. Therefore, &c."
Ridley.--"I grant that the name of the church is taken after three divers manners in the Scriptures. Sometimes for the whole multitude of them which profess the name of Christ, of the which they are also named Christians. But, as St. Paul saith of the Jew, Not every one is a Jew, that is a Jew outwardly, &c., neither yet all that be of Israel, are counted the seed; even so not every one which is a Christian outwardly, is a Christian indeed. For if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his. Therefore that church which is his body, and of which Christ is the Head, standeth only of living stones, and true Christians, not only outwardly in name and title, but inwardly in heart and in truth. But, forasmuch as this church, (which is the second taking of the church,) as touching the outward fellowship, is contained within the great house, and hath with the same, outward society of the sacraments and ministry of the word, many things are spoken of that universal church, (which St. Augustine calleth the mingled church,) which cannot truly be understood, but only of that pure part of the church: so that the rule of Tichonius concerning the mingled church, may here well take place; where there is attributed unto the whole church that which cannot agree unto the same, but by reason of the one part thereof; that is, either forthe multitude of good men, which is the very true church indeed; or for the multitude of evil men, which is the malignant church and synagogue of Satan. And there is also a third taking of the church; of the which, although there be seldomer mention in the Scriptures in that signification, yet in the world, even in the most famous assemblies of Christendom, this church hath borne the greatest swinge. This distinction presupposed of the three sorts of churches, it is an easy matter, by a figure called synecdoche, to give to the mingled and universal church, that which cannot truly be understood but only of the one part thereof. But if any man will stiffly affirm that universality doth so pertain unto the church, that whatsoever Christ hath promised to the church, it must needs be understood of that, I would gladly know of the same man, where that universal church was in the times of the patriarchs and prophets, of Noah, Abraham, and Moses (at such time as the people would have stoned him); of Elias, of Jeremy; in the times of Christ, and the dispersion of the apostles; in the time of Arius, when Constantius was emperor, and Felix bishop of Rome succeeded Liberius. It is worthy to be noted, what Lyra writeth upon Matthew; 'The church,' saith he, 'doth not stand in men by reason of their power or dignity, whether it be ecclesiastical or secular. For many princes and popes, and other inferiors, have been found to have fallen away from God.' Therefore the church consisteth in those persons, in whom is true knowledge and confession of the faith, and of the truth. 'Evil men' (as it is in a gloss of the Decrees) 'are in the church in name, and not in deed.' And St. Augustine, contra Cresconium Grammaticum, saith, 'Whosoever is afraid to be deceived by the darkness of this question, let him ask counsel at the same church of it; which church the Scripture doth point out without any doubtfulness.' All my notes which I have written and gathered out of such authors as I have read in this matter, and such like, are come into the hands of such, as will not let me have the least of all my written books; wherein I am enforced to complain of them unto God: for they spoil me of all my labours, which I have taken in my study these many years. My memory was never good, for help whereof I used for the most part to gather out notes of my reading, and so to place them, that thereby I might have had the use of them when the time required. But who knoweth whether this be God's will, that I should be thus ordered, and spoiled of the poor learning I had (as methought) in store, to the intent that I now, destitute of that, should from henceforth learn only to know, with Paul, Christ and him crucified. The Lord grant me herein to be a good young scholar, and to learn this lesson so well, that neither death nor life, wealth nor woe, &c., make me ever to forget that. Amen, amen."
Latimer.--"I have no more to say in this matter; for you yourself have said all that is to be said. That same vehement saying of St. Augustine, 'I would not believe the gospel,' &c., was wont to trouble many men; as I remember, I have read it well qualified of Philip Melancthon; but my memory is altogether slippery. This it is in effect; 'The church is not a judge, but a witness.' There were in his time that lightly esteemed the testimony of the church, and the outward ministry of preaching, and rejected the outward word itself, sticking only to their inward revelations. Such rash contempt of the word provoked and drove St. Augustine into that excessive vehemency; in the which after the bare sound of the words, he might seem to such as do not attain unto his meaning, that he preferred the church far before the gospel, and that the church hath a free authority over the same: but that godly man never thought so. It were a saying worthy to be brought forth against the Anabaptists, which think the open ministry to be a thing not necessary, if they any thing esteemed such testimonies. I would not stick to affirm, that the more part of the great house, that is to say, of the whole universal church, may easily err. And again, I would not stick to affirm, that it is one thing to be gathered together in the name of Christ, and another thing to come together with a mass of the Holy Ghost going before. For in the first Christ ruleth; in the latter the devil beareth the swinge -- and how then can any thing be good that they go about? From this latter shall our Six Articles come forth again into the light, they themselves being very darkness. But it is demanded, whether the sounder or better part of the catholic church may be seen of men, or no? St. Paul saith, The Lord knoweth them that are his. What manner of speaking is this, in commendation of the Lord, if we knew, as well as he, who are his? Well, thus is the text: The sure foundation of God standeth still, and hath this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every man that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. Now how many are there of the whole catholic church of England which depart from iniquity? how many of the noblemen, how many of the bishops or clergy? how many of the rich men, or merchants? how many of the queen's councillors? yea, how many of the whole realm? In how small a room then, I pray you, is the true church within the realm of England? And where is it? And in what state? I had a conceit of mine own, well grounded, (as they say,) when I began, but now it is fallen by the way."
Antonian.--"General councils represent the universal church, and have this promise of Christ: Where two or three be gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. If Christ be present with two or three, then much more where there is so great a multitude, &c. But in general councils mass hath been approved and used: therefore, &c."
Ridley.--"Of the universal church, which is mingled of good and bad, thus I think: Whensoever they which be chief in it, which rule and govern the same, and to whom the whole mystical body of Christ doth obey, are the lively members of Christ, and walk after the guiding and rule of his word, and go before the flock towards everlasting life, then, undoubtedly, councils, gathered together of such guides and pastors of the Christian flock, do indeed represent the universal church, and being so gathered in the name of Christ, they have a promise of the gift and guiding of his Spirit into all truth. But that any such council hath at any time allowed the mass, such a one as ours was of late, in a strange tongue, and stuffed with so many absurdities, errors, and superstitions; that I utterly deny, and affirm it to be impossible. For like as there is no agreement betwixt light and darkness, between Christ and Belial; so surely superstition and the sincere religion of Christ, will-worship and the pure worshipping of God, such as God requireth of his, (that is, in spirit and truth,) can never agree together. But ye will say, Where so great a company is gathered together, it is not credible but there be two or three gathered in the name of Christ. I answer, If there be one hundred good, and two hundred bad, (forasmuch as the decrees and ordinances are pronounced according to the greater number of the multitude of voices,) what can the less number of voices avail? It is a known thing, and a common proverb, Oftentimes the greater part overcometh the better."
Latimer.--"As touching general councils, at this present I have no more to say, than you have said. Only I refer you to your own experience, to think of our country parliaments and convocations, how and what ye have there seen and heard. The more part in my time did bring forth the Six Articles; for then the king would so have it, being seduced of certain. Afterwards the more part did repel the same, our good Josias willing to have it so. The same Articles now again, alas! another great but worse part hath restored. Oh, what an uncertainty is this! But after this sort most commonly are man's proceedings, God be merciful unto us. Who shall deliver us from such torments of mind? Therefore is death the best physician but unto the faithful, whom she together and at once delivereth from all griefs. You must think this written upon this occasion, because you would needs have your paper blotted."
Antonian.--"If the matter should go thus, that in general councils men should not stand to the more number of the multitude, (I mean of them which ought to give voices,) then should no certain rule be left unto the church, by the which controversies in weighty matters might be determined: but it is not to be believed, that Christ would leave his church destitute of so necessary a help and safeguard."
Ridley.--"Christ, who is the most loving spouse of his espouse the church, who also gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it unto himself, did give unto it abundantly all things which are necessary to salvation; but yet so, that the church should declare itself obedient unto him in all things, and keep itself within the bounds of his commandments; and further, not to seek any thing which he teacheth not, as necessary unto salvation. Now further, for determination of all controversies in Christ's religion, Christ himself hath left unto the church not only Moses and the prophets, whom he willeth his church in all doubts to go unto, and ask counsel at, but also at the Gospels, and the rest of the body of the New Testament; in the which whatsoever is heard of Moses and the prophets, and whatsoever is necessary to be known unto salvation, is revealed and opened. So that now we have no need to say, Who shall climb up into heaven, or who shall go down into the depth, to tell us what is needful to be done? Christ hath done both, and hath commended unto us the word of faith, which also is abundantly declared unto us in his word written; so that hereafter, if we walk earnestly in this way, to the searching out of the truth, it is not to he doubted, but through the certain benefit of Christ's Spirit, which he hath promised unto his, we may find it, and obtain everlasting life. Should men ask counsel of the dead for the living? saith Isaiah. Let them go rather to the law and to the testimony, &c. Christ sendeth them that be desirous to know the truth, unto the Scriptures, saying, Search the Scriptures. I remember a like thing well spoken of Jerome: 'Ignorance of the Scriptures is the mother and cause of all errors.' And in another place, as I remember, in the same author: 'The knowledge of the Scriptures is the food of everlasting life.' But now methinketh I enter into a very broad sea, in that I begin to show, either out of the Scriptures themselves, or out of the ancient writers, how much the Holy Scripture is of force to teach the truth of our religion. But this is it that I am now about, that Christ would have the church, his spouse, in all doubts to ask counsel at the word of his Father written, and faithfully left, and commended unto it in both Testaments, the Old and New. Neither do we read, that Christ in any place hath laid so great a burden upon the members of his spouse, that he hath commanded them to go to the universal church. Whatsoever things are written, saith Paul, are written for our learning. And it is true, that Christ gave unto his church, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds and teachers, to the edifying of the saints, till we come all to the unity of faith, &c. But that all men should meet together out of all parts of the world, to define of the articles of our faith, I neither find it commanded of Christ, nor written in the word of God."
Latimer.--"There is diversity betwixt things pertaining to God or faith, and politic and civil matters. For in the first we must stand only to the Scriptures, which are able to make us all perfect and instructed unto salvation, if they be well understood. And they offer themselves to be well understood only to them, which have good wills, and give themselves to study and prayer: neither are there any men less apt to understand them, than the prudent and wise men of the world. But, in the other, that is, in civil or politic matters, oftentimes the magistrates do tolerate a less evil, for avoiding of a greater, as they which have this saying oft in their mouths: 'Better an inconvenience than a mischief.' And 'it is the property of a wise man,' saith one, 'to dissemble many things; and he that cannot dissemble, cannot rule.' In which sayings they bewray themselves, that they do not earnestly weigh what is just, what is not. 'Wherefore forasmuch as man's laws, if it be but in this respect only, that they be devised by men, are not able to bring any thing to perfection, but are enforced of necessity to suffer many things out of square, and are compelled sometimes to wink at the worst things: seeing they know not how to maintain the common peace and quiet otherwise, they do ordain that the more part shall take place. You know what these kind of speeches mean: I speak after the manner of men; Ye walk after the manner of men; All men are liars: and that of St. Augustine, 'If ye live after man's reason, ye do not live after the will of God.'"
Antonian.--"If ye say, that councils have sometimes erred, or may err, how then should we believe the catholic church? for that councils are gathered by the authority of the catholic church."
Ridley.--"From 'may be,' to 'be indeed,' is no good argument; but from 'being,' to 'may be,' no man doubteth but it is a most sure argument. But now that councils have sometime erred, it is manifest. How many councils were there in the east parts of the world, which condemned the Nicene council; and all those which would not forsake the same, they called by a slanderous name, (as they thought,) 'Homousians.' Were not Athanasius, Chrysostom, Cyril, Eustachius, men very well learned, and of godly life, banished and condemned as famous heretics, and that by wicked councils? How many things are there in the canons and constitutions of the councils, which the papists themselves do much mislike! But here, peradventure, one man will say unto me, 'We will grant you this in provincial councils, or councils of some one nation, that they may sometimes err, forasmuch as they do not represent the universal church; but it is not to be believed, that the general and full councils have erred at any time.' Here, if I had my books of the councils, or rather such notes as I have gathered out of those books, I could bring something which should serve for this purpose. But now, seeing I have them not, I will recite one place only out of St. Augustine, which (in my judgment) may suffice in this matter instead of many. 'Who knoweth not,' saith he, 'that the Holy Scripture is so set before us, that it is not lawful to doubt of it, and that the letters of bishops may be reproved by other men's words, and by councils; and that the councils themselves which are gathered by provinces and countries, do give place to the authority of the general and full councils; and that the former and general councils are amended by the latter, when by some experience of things either that which was shut up is opened, or that which was hid is known.' Thus much out of Augustine. But I will plead with our Antonian upon matter confessed. Here with us, when papistry reigned, I pray you how doth that book, which was called the Bishop's Book, made in the time of King Henry the Eighth, whereof the bishop of Winchester is thought to be either the first father, or chief gatherer; how doth it (I say) sharply reprove the Florentine council, in which was decreed the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, and that with the consent of the emperor of Constantinople, and of the Grecians? So that in those days our learned ancient fathers and bishops of England did not stick to affirm, that a general council might err. But me-thinketh I hear another man despising all that I have brought forth, and saying, These which you have called councils, are not worthy to be called councils, but rather assemblies and conventicles of heretics.' I pray you, sir, why do you judge them worthy of so slanderous a name? 'Because,' saith he, 'they decreed things heretical, contrary to true godliness and sound doctrine, and against the faith of Christian religion.' The cause is weighty, for the which they ought of right so to be called. But, if it be so that all councils ought to be despised, which decree any thing contrary to sound doctrine, and the true word, which is according to godliness, forasmuch as the mass, such as we had here of late, is openly against the word of God; forsooth it must follow of necessity, that all such councils, as have approved such masses, ought of right to be fled and despised, as conventicles and assemblies of men that stray from the truth.
"Another man allegeth unto me the authority of the bishop of Rome, 'without which neither can the councils,' saith he, 'be lawfully gathered, neither, being gathered, determine any thing concerning religion.' But this objection is only grounded upon the ambitious and shameless maintenance of the Romish tyranny and usurped dominion over the clergy; which tyranny we Englishmen long ago, by the consent of the whole realm, have expulsed and abjured. And how rightly we have done it, a little book set forth, De utraque potestate, (that is, of both the powers,) doth clearly show. I grant that the Romish ambition hath gone about to challenge to itself and to usurp such a privilege of old time. But the council of Carthage, in the year of our Lord 457, did openly withstand it, and also the council at Milevis, in the which St. Augustine was present, did prohibit any appellations to be made to bishops beyond the sea."
Antonian.--"St. Augustine saith, 'the good men are not to be forsaken for the evil, but the evil are to be borne withal for the good.' Ye will not say (I trow) that in our congregations all be evil."
Ridley.--"I speak nothing of the goodness or evilness of your congregations; but I fight in Christ's quarrel against the mass, which doth utterly take away and overthrow the ordinance of Christ. Let that be taken quite away, and then the partition of the wall that made the strife shall be broken down. Now to the place of St. Augustine, for bearing with the evil for the good's sake: there ought to be added other words, which the same writer hath expressedly in other places; that is, if those evil men do cast abroad no seeds of false doctrine, nor lead others to destruction by their example."
Antonian.--"'It is perilous to attempt any new thing in the church, which lacketh example of good men. How much more perilous is it to commit any act, unto the which the example of the prophets, of Christ, and of the apostles, is contrary!' But unto this your fact, in abstaining from the church by reason of the mass, the example of the prophets, of Christ, and of the apostles, is clean contrary: therefore, &c. The first part of the argument is evident, and the second part I prove thus: In the times of the prophets, of Christ, and his apostles, all things were most corrupt. The people were miserably given to superstition, the priests despised the law of God; and yet, notwithstanding, we read not that the prophets made any schisms or divisions; and Christ himself haunted the temple, and taught in the temple of the Jews. Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer; Paul, after the reading of the law, being desired to say something to the people, did not refuse to do it. Yea further, no man can show, that either the prophets, or Christ and his apostles, did refuse to pray together with others, to sacrifice, or to be partakers of the sacrament of Moses' law."
Ridley.--"I grant the former part of your argument, and to the second part I say, that although it contain many true things, as of the corrupt state in the times of the prophets, of Christ, and the apostles, and of the temple being haunted of Christ and his apostles; yet, notwithstanding, the second part of your argument is not sufficiently proved: for ye ought to have proved that either the prophets, either Christ or his apostles, did in the temple communicate with the people in any kind of worshipping, which is forbidden by the law of God, or repugnant to the word of God. But that can no where be showed. And as for the church, I am not angry with it, and I never refused to go to it, and to pray with the people, to hear the word of God, and to do all other things whatsoever may agree with the word of God. St. Augustine, speaking of the ceremonies of the Jews, (I suppose in the epistle ad Januarium,) although he grant they grievously oppressed that people, both for the number and the bondage of the same, yet he calleth them burdens of the law, which were delivered unto them in the word of God, not presumptions of men, which notwithstanding, if they were not contrary to God's word, might after a sort be borne withal. But now, seeing they are contrary to those things which are in the word of God written, whether they ought to be borne of any Christian or no, let him judge which is spiritual, which feareth God more than man, and loveth everlasting life more than this short and transitory life. To that which was said, that my fact lacketh example of the godly fathers that have gone before, the contrary is most evident in the history of Tobit. Of whom it is said, that when all other went to the golden calves, which Jeroboam the king of Israel had made, he himself alone fled all their companies, and got him to Jerusalem unto the temple of the Lord, and there worshipped the Lord God of Israel. Did not the man of God threaten grievous plagues both unto the priests of Bethel, and to the altar which Jeroboam had there made after his own fantasy? which plagues king Josias, the true minister of God, did execute at the time appointed. And where do we read, that the prophets or the apostles did agree with the people in their idolatry, when the people went a whoring with their hill-altars? For what cause, I pray you, did the prophets rebuke the people so much, as for their false worshipping of God after their own minds, and not after God's word; for what was so much as that was, wherefore the false prophets ceased not to malign the true prophets of God? Therefore they beat them, they banished them, &c. How else, I pray you, can you understand that St. Paul allegeth, when he saith, What concord hath Christ with Belial? Either what part hath the believer with the infidel? or how agreeth the temple of God with images? For ye are the temple of the living God, as God himself hath said, I will dwell among them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and separate yourselves from them, (saith the Lord,) and touch none unclean thing; so will I receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Judith, that holy woman, would not suffer herself to be defiled with the meats of the wicked. All the saints of God, which truly feared God, when they have been provoked to do any thing which they knew to be contrary to God's laws, have chosen to die, rather than to forsake the laws of their God. Wherefore the Maccabees put themselves in danger of death for the defence of the law, yea, and at length died manfully in the defence of the same. If we do praise, saith St. Augustine, the Maccabees, and that with great admiration, because they did stoutly stand even unto death, for the laws of their country; how much more ought we to suffer all things for our baptism, for the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, &c. But the supper of the Lord, such a one (I mean) as Christ commandeth us to celebrate, the mass utterly abolisheth, and corrupteth most shamefully."
Latimer.--"Who am I that I should add any thing to this which you have so well spoken? Nay, I rather thank you that have vouchsafed to minister so plentiful armour to me, being otherwise altogether unarmed, saving that he cannot be left destitute of help, which rightly trusteth in the help of God. I only learn to die in reading of the New Testament, and am ever now and then praying unto my God, that he will be a helper unto me in time of need."
Antonian.--"Seeing you are so obstinately set against the mass, that you affirm, because it is done in a tongue not understood of the people, and for other causes, (I cannot tell what,) therefore is it not the true sacrament ordained of Christ, I begin to suspect you, that you think not catholicly of baptism, also. Is our baptism, which we do use in a tongue unknown unto the people, the true baptism of Christ, or no? if it be, then doth not the strange tongue hurt the mass. If it be not the baptism of Christ, tell me, how were you baptized? or whether will ye, (as the Anabaptists do,) that all which were baptized in Latin, should be baptized again in the English tongue?"
Ridley.--"Although I would wish baptism to be given in the vulgar tongue for the people's sake which are present, that they may the better understand their own profession, and also be more able to teach their children the same, yet, notwithstanding, there is not like necessity of the vulgar tongue in baptism, as in the Lord's supper. Baptism is given to children, who, by reason of their age, are not able to understand what is spoken unto them, what tongue soever it be. The Lord's supper is, and ought to be, given to them that are waxen. Moreover, in baptism, which is accustomed to be given to children in the Latin tongue, all the substantial points (as a man would say) which Christ commanded to be done, are observed. And therefore I judge that baptism to be a perfect and true baptism; and that it is not only not needful, but also not lawful for any man so christened, to be christened again. But yet notwithstanding, they ought to be taught the catechism of the Christian faith, when they shall come to years of discretion; which catechism whosoever despiseth, or will not desirously embrace and willingly learn, in my judgment he playeth not the part of a Christian man. But in the popish mass are wanting certain substantials, that is to say, things commanded by the word of God to be observed in the ministration of the Lord's supper; of the which there is sufficient declaration made before."
Latimer.--"Where you say, 'I would wish,' surely I would wish that you had spoken more vehemently, and to have said, It is of necessity, that all things in the congregation should be done in the vulgar tongue, for the edifying and comfort of them that are present, notwithstanding that the child itself is sufficiently baptized in the Latin tongue."
Antonian.--"Forasmuch as I perceive you are so stiffly, I will not say obstinately, bent, and so wedded to your opinion, that no gentle exhortations, no wholesome counsels, no other kind of means, can call you home to a better mind, there remaineth that which, in like cases, was wont to be the onlyremedy against stiff-necked and stubborn persons, that is, you must be hampered by the laws, and compelled either to obey whether ye will or no, or else to suffer that which a rebel to the laws ought to suffer. Do you not know that whosoever refuseth to obey the laws of the realm, he bewrayeth himself to be an enemy to his country? Do you not know that this is the readiest way to stir up sedition and civil war? It is better that you should bear your own sin, than that through the example of your breach of the common laws, the common quiet should be disturbed. How can you say, you will be the queen's true subject, when you do openly profess that you will not keep her laws?"
Ridley.--"O heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength, I beseech thee, for thy only Son our Saviour Christ's sake, look mercifully upon me, wretched creature, and send thine Holy Spirit into my breast, that not only I may understand according to thy wisdom, how this pestilent and deadly dart is to be borne off, and with what answer it is to be beaten back, but also when I must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy name, that then I, being strengthened with the defence of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and of thy truth, and continue in the same unto the end of my life, through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
"Now to the objection. I grant it to be reasonable, that he, which by words and gentleness cannot be made to yield to that is right and good, should be bridled by the strait correction of the laws: that is to say, he that will not be subject to God's word, must be punished by the laws. It is true that is commonly said, 'He that will not obey the gospel, must be tamed and taught by the rigour of the law.' But these things ought to take place against him which refuseth to do that is right and just according to true godliness, not against him, which cannot quietly bear superstitions and the overthrow of Christ's institutions, but doth hate and detest from his heart such kind of proceedings, and that for the glory of the name of God.
"To that which ye say, a transgressor of the common laws bewrayeth himself to be an enemy of his country, surely a man ought to look unto the nature of the laws, what manner of laws they be which are broken: for a faithful Christian ought not to think alike of all manner of laws. But that saying ought only truly to be understood of such laws as be not contrary to God's word. Otherwise, whosoever love their country in truth, (that is to say, in God,) they will always judge if at any time the laws of God and man be then contrary to the other, that a man ought rather to obey God than man. And they that think otherwise, and pretend a love to their country, forasmuch as they make their country to fight as it were against God, in whom consisteth the stay only of their country, surely I do think that such are to be judged most deadly enemies and traitors to their country. For they that fight against God, which is the safety of their country, what do they else but go about to bring upon their country a present ruin and destruction? But they that do so are worthy to be judged enemies to their country, and betrayers of the realm. Therefore, &c.
"'But this is the readiest way,' ye say, 'to stir up sedition, to trouble the quiet of the commonwealth: therefore are these things to be repressed in time by force of laws.' Behold; Satan doth not cease to practise his old guiles, and accustomed subtleties. He hath ever this dart in readiness to hurl against his adversaries, to accuse them of sedition, that he may bring them, if he can, in danger of the higher powers: for so hath he by his ministers always charged the prophets of God. Ahab said unto Elias, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? The false prophets, also, complained to their princes of Jeremy, that his words were seditious, and not to be suffered. Did not the scribes and Pharisees falsely accuse Christ as a seditious person, and one that spake against Cæsar? did they not, at the last, cry, If you let this man go, ye are not Cæsar's friend? The orator Tertullus, how doth he accuse Paul before Felix the high deputy? We have found this man, saith he, a pestilent fellow, and a stirrer of sedition, unto all the Jews in the whole world, &c. But I pray you were these men, as they were called, seditious persons? Christ, Paul, and the prophets? God forbid! But they were of false men falsely accused. And wherefore I pray you, but because they reproved before the people their guiles, superstition, and deceits? And when the others could not bear it, and would gladly have had them taken out of the way, they accused them as seditious persons, and troublers of the commonwealth, that being by this means made hateful to the people and princes, they might the more easily be snatched up to be tormented, and put to death. But how far they were from all sedition, their whole doctrine, life, and conversation do well declare. For that which was objected last of all, that he cannot be a faithful subject to his prince, which professeth openly that he will not observe the laws which the prince hath made; here I would wish that I might have an indifferent judge, and one that feareth God, to whose judgment in this cause I promise I will stand. I answer therefore, a man ought to obey his prince; but in the Lord, and never against the Lord. For he that knowingly obeyeth his prince against God,doth not a duty to the prince, but is a deceiver of the prince, and a helper unto him to work his own destruction. He is also unjust, which giveth not the prince what is the prince's, and to God what is God's. Here cometh to my remembrance, that notable saying of Valentinian the emperor, for choosing the bishop of Milan: 'Set him,' saith he, 'in the bishop's seat, to whom if we (as man) do offend at any time, we may submit ourselves.' Polycarp, the most constant martyr, when he stood before the chief rulers and was commanded to blaspheme Christ, and to swear by the fortune of Cæsar, &c., he answered with a mild spirit, We are taught,' saith he, 'to give honour unto princes, and those powers which be of God: but such honour as is not contrary to God's religion."
"Hitherunto ye see, good father, how I have in words only made as it were a flourish before the fight, which I shortly look after, and how I have begun to prepare certain kinds of weapons to fight against the adversary of Christ, and to muse with myself how the darts of the old enemy may be borne off, and after what sort I may smite him again with the sword of the Spirit. I learn also hereby to be in use with armour, and to assay how I can go armed. In Tynedale where I was born, not far from the Scottish borders, I have known my countrymen to watch night and day in their harness, such as they had, that is, in their jacks, and their spears in their hand, (you call them northern-gads,) especially when they had any privy warning of the coming of the Scots. And so doing, although at every such bickering some of them spent their lives, yet by such means, like pretty men, they defended their country. And those that so died, I think that before God they died in a good quarrel, and their offspring and progeny all the country loved them the better for their fathers' sake. And in the quarrel of Christ our Saviour, in the defence of his own divine ordinances, by the which he giveth unto us life and immortality; yea, in the quarrel of faith, and Christian religion, wherein resteth our everlasting salvation, shall we not watch? shall we not go always armed? ever looking when our adversary, which like a roaring lion seeketh whom be may devour, shall come upon us by reason of our slothfulness? Yea, and woe be unto us, if he can oppress us unawares, which undoubtedly he will do, if he find us sleeping. Let us awake therefore: for if the good man of the house knew at what hour the thief should come he would surely watch, and not suffer his house to be broken up. Let us awake therefore, I say: let us not suffer our house to be broken up. Resist the devil, saith St. James, and he will fly from you. Let us therefore resist him manfully; and taking the cross upon our shoulders, let us follow our Captain, Christ, who by his own blood hath dedicated and hallowed the way which leadeth unto the Father, that is, to the light which no man can attain, the fountain of the everlasting joys. Let us follow, I say, whither he calleth and allureth us, that after these afflictions which last but for a moment, whereby he trieth our faith, as gold by the fire, we may everlastingly reign and triumph with him in the glory of the Father, and that through the same our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever; Amen, Amen.
"Good father, forasmuch as I have determined with myself, to pour forth these my cogitations into your bosom, here, methinketh, I see you suddenly lifting up your head towards heaven, after your manner, and then looking upon me with your prophetical countenance, and speaking unto me, with these or like words: 'Trust not, my son (I beseech you vouchsafe me the honour of this name; for in so doing I shall think myself both honoured and beloved of you): trust not, I say, my son, to these word-weapons; for the kingdom of God is not in words but in power. And remember always the words of the Lord. Do not imagine aforehand, what and how you will speak: for it shall be given you even in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' I pray you therefore, father, pray for me, that I may cast my whole care upon him, and trust upon him in all perils. For I know, and am surely persuaded, that whatsoever I can imagine or think aforehand, it is nothing, except he assist me with his Spirit, when the time is. I beseech you therefore, father, pray for me, that such a complete harness of the Spirit, such boldness of mind, may be given unto me, that I may out of a true faith say with David, I will not trust in my bow, and it is not my sword that shall save me. For he hath no pleasure in the strength of a horse, &c.: but the Lord's delight is in them that fear him, and put their trust in his mercy. I beseech you pray, pray that I may enter this fight only in the name of God, and that when all is past, I, through his gracious aid, being not overcome, may remain and stand fast in him, till that day of the Lord, in the which to them that obtain the victory shall be given the lively manna to eat, and a triumphant crown for evermore.
"Now, father, I pray you help me to buckle on this gear a little better. For ye know the deepness of Satan, being an old soldier, and you have collared with him ere now: blessed be God that hath ever aided you so well. I suppose he may well hold you at the bay. But truly he will not be so willing, I think, to join with you, as with us younglings. Sir, I beseech you, let your servant read this my babbling unto you, and now and then, as it shall seem unto you best, let your pen run on my book; spare not to blot my paper, I give you good leave."
Latimer.--"Sir, I have caused my man not only to read your armour unto me, but also to write it out. For it is not only no bare armour, but also well-buckled armour. I see not how it could be better. I thank you even from the bottom of my heart for it, and my prayer shall you not lack, trusting that you do the like for me; for indeed there is the help, &c. Many things make confusion in memory; and if I were learned as well as St. Paul, I would not bestow much amongst them, further than to gall them, and spur-gall too, when and where occasion were given, and matter came to mind: for the law shall be their sheet-anchor, stay, and refuge. Therefore there is no remedy, (namely now, when they have the master-bowl in their hand, and rule the roost,) but patience. Better it is to suffer what cruelty they will put upon us, than to incur God's high indignation. Wherefore, good my Lord, be of good cheer in the Lord, with due consideration what he requireth of you, and what he doth promise you. Our common enemy shall do no more than God will permit him. God is faithful, which will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength, &c. Be at a point what ye will stand unto; stick unto that, and let them both say and do what they list. They can but kill the body, which otherwise is of itself mortal: neither yet shall they do that when they list, but when God will suffer them; when the hour appointed is come. To use many words with them it shall be but in vain, now that they have a bloody and deadly law prepared for them. But it is very requisite that ye give a reasonable account of your faith, if they will quietly hear you; else ye know, in a wicked place of judgment a man may keep silence, after the example of Christ. Let them not deceive you with their sophistical sophisms and fallacies: you know that false things may have more appearance of truth, than things that be most true: therefore Paul giveth us a watch-word, Let no man deceive you with likeliness of speech. Neither is it requisite that with the contentious ye should follow strife of words, which tend to no edification, but to the subversion of the hearers, and the vain bragging and ostentation of the adversaries. Fear of death doth most persuade a great number. Be well aware of that argument; for that persuaded Shaxton, (as many men thought,) after that he had once made a good profession openly before the judgment-seat. The flesh is weak, but the willingness of the spirit shall refresh the weakness of the flesh.
"The number of the criers under the altar must needs be fulfilled: if we be segregated thereunto, happy be we. That is the greatest promotion that God giveth in this world, to be such Philippians, to whom it is given not only to believe, but also to suffer, &c. But who is able to do these things
Surely all our ability, all our sufficiency, is of God. He requireth and promiseth. Let us declare our obedience to his will, when it shall be requisite in the time of trouble, yea, in the midst of the fire.
"When that number is fulfilled, which I ween shall be shortly, then have at the papists, when they shall say, 'Peace, all things are safe,' when Christ shall come to keep his great parliament, to the redress of all things that be amiss. But he shall not come as the papists feign him, to hide himself, and to play bo-peep as it were under a piece of bread: but he shall come gloriously, to the terror and fear of all papists; but to the great consolation and comfort of all that will here suffer for him. Comfort yourselves one another with these words.
"Lo, sir, here have I blotted your paper vainly, and played the fool egregiously; but so I thought better than not to do your request at this time. Pardon me, and pray for me; pray for me, I say; pray for me, I say. For I am sometimes so fearful, that I would creep into a mouse-hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with his comfort. So he cometh and goeth, to teach me to feel and to know mine infirmity, to the intent to give thanks to him that is worthy, lest I should rob him of his due, as many do, and almost all the world. Fare ye well.
"What credence is to be given to papists, it may appear by their racking, writing, wrinching, and monstrously injuring of God's Holy Scripture, as appeareth in the pope's law: but I dwell here now in a school of obliviousness. Fare you well once again, and be you stedfast and unmovable in the Lord. Paul loved Timothy marvellous well, notwithstanding he saith unto him, Be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel; and again, Harden thyself to suffer afflictions. Be faithful unto the death, and I will give thee a crown of life, saith the Lord."