Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 319. LETTERS OF MASTER LATIMER.

319. LETTERS OF MASTER LATIMER.

 

OW, after these things thus finished and discoursed pertaining to the story of his life, let us come to his letters, which he wrote at divers and sundry times from the first beginning of his preaching, all which here to comprehend which he wrote both in English and Latin, lack of space and place at this present will not permit: nevertheless certain we will take, and first concerning the articles above mentioned, for the which he was troubled by the priests of the country about his benefice at West Kington; which he writeth thereof to Master Morice, the copies whereof follow.

 

A letter of Master Latimer to Master Morice, concerning the articles written, which were falsely and untruly laid against him.

            "Right worshipful and mine own good Master Morice, salutem in Christo Jesu.--And I thank you for all hearty kindness, not only heretofore showed unto me, but also that now of late you would vouchsafe to write unto me, so poor a wretch, to my great comfort among all these my troubles. I trust and doubt nothing in it, but God will reward you for me, and supply abundantly mine unability, &c. Master Morice, you would wonder to know how I have been entreated at Bristol, I mean of some of the priests, which first desired me, welcomed me, made me cheer, heard what I said, and allowed my saying in all things while I was with them. When I was gone home to my benefice, perceiving that the people favoured me so greatly, and that the mayor had appointed me to preach at Easter, privily they procured an inhibition for all them that had not the bishop's licence, which they knew well enough I had not, and so craftily defeated Master Mayor's appointment, pretending that they were sorry for it; procuring also certain preachers to blatter against me, as Hubberdin and Powell, with other more, whom when I had brought before the mayor and the wise council of the town, to know what they could lay to my charge, wherefore they so declaimed against me, they said they spake of information: howbeit no man could be brought forth that would abide by any thing. So that they had place and time to belie me shamefully; but they had no place nor time to lay to my charge, when I was present and ready to make them answer. God amend them, and assuage their malice that they have against the truth and me, &c.

            "'Our Lady was a sinner.'--So they did belie me to have said, when I had said nothing so, but to reprove certain, both priests and beneficed men, which do give so much to our Lady, as though she had not been saved by Christ, a whole Saviour both of her, and of all that be and shall be saved. I did reason after this manner: that either she was a sinner, or no sinner. If a sinner, then she was delivered from sin by Christ; so that he saved her, either by delivering or preserving her from sin; so that without him neither she, nor none other, either be, or could be saved. And, to avoid all offence, I showed how it might be answered, both to certain scriptures which make all generally sinners, and how it might be answered unto Chrysostom and Theophylact, which make her namely and specially a sinner. But all would not serve, their malice was so great; notwithstanding that five hundred honest men can and will bear record. When they cannot reprove that thing that I do say, then they will belie me to say that thing that they can reprove; for they will needs appear to be against me.

            "'Saints are not to be worshipped.'--So they lied when I had showed divers significations of this word 'saints' among the vulgar people. First, images of saints are called saints, and so they are not to be worshipped: take worshipping of them for praying to them--for they are neither mediators by way of redemption, nor yet by way of intercession. And yet they may be well used, when they be applied to that use that they were ordained for, to be laymen's books for remembrance of heavenly things, &c.

            Take saints for inhabiters of heaven, and worshipping of them for praying to them -- I never denied, but that they might be worshipped, and be our mediators, though not by way of redemption, (for so Christ alone is a whole mediator, both for them and for us,) yet by the way of intercession.

            "'Pilgrimage.'-- And I never denied pilgrimage. And yet I have said that much scurf must be pared away, ere ever it can be well done; superstition, idolatry, false faith and trust in the image, unjust estimation of the thing, setting aside God's ordinance for doing of the thing; debts must be paid, restitutions made, wife and children be provided for, duty to our poor neighbours discharged. And when it is at the best, before it be vowed, it need not to be done; for it is neither under the bidding of God, nor of man, to be done. And wives must counsel with husbands, and husbands and wives with curates, before it be vowed to be done, &c.

            "'Ave Maria.'-- As for the Ave Maria, who can think that I would deny it? I said it was a heavenly greeting or saluting of our blessed Lady, wherein the angel Gabriel, sent from the Father of heaven, did annunciate and show unto her the goodwill of God towards her, what he would with her, and to what he had chosen her. But I said, it was not properly a prayer, as the Pater noster, which our Saviour Christ himself made for a proper prayer, and bade us say it for a prayer, not adding that we should say ten or twenty Ave Marias withal: and I denied not but that we may well say Ave Maria also, but not so that we shall think that the Pater noster is not good, a whole and perfect prayer, nor cannot be well said without Ave Maria. So that I did not speak against well saying of it, but against superstitious saying of it, and of the Pater noster too; and yet I put a difference betwixt that, and that which Christ made to be said for a prayer.

            "'No fire in hell.'-- Whoever could say or think so? Howbeit good authors do put a difference betwixt a suffering in the fire with bodies, and without bodies. The soul without the body is a spiritual substance, which they say cannot receive a corporal quality; and some make it a spiritual fire, and some a corporal fire. For as it is called a fire, so it is called a worm, and it is thought of some not to be a material worm, that is, a living beast, but it is a metaphor; but that is neither to nor fro: for a fire it is; a worm it is; pain it is; a torment it is; an anguish it is; a grief, a misery, a sorrow; a heaviness inexplicable, intolerable, whose nature and condition in every point who can tell, but he that is of God's privy council, saith St. Augustine? God give us grace rather to be diligent to keep us out of it, than to be curious to discuss the property of it; for certain we be, that there is little ease, yea, none at all, but weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; which be two effects of extreme pain -- rather certain tokens what pain there is, than what manner of pain there is.

            "'No purgatory.'--He that showeth the state and condition of it, doth not deny it. But I had rather be in it, than in Lollards' Tower, the bishop's prison, for divers skills and causes.

            "First, In this I might die bodily for lack of meat and drink: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might die ghostly for fear of pain, or lack of good counsel: there I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be in extreme necessity: in that I could not if it be peril of perishing.

            "Item, In this I might lack charity: there I could not.

            "Item, In this I might lose my patience: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be in peril and danger of death: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be without surety of salvation: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might dishonour God: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might murmur and grudge against God: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might displease God: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be displeased with God: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be judged to perpetual prison, as they call it: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be craftily handled: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be brought to bear a faggot: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be discontented with God: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be separated and dissevered from Christ: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be a member of the devil: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might be an inheritor in hell: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this I might pray out of charity, and in vain: in that I could not.

            "Item, In this my Lord and his chaplains might manacle me by night: in that they could not.

            "Item, In this they might strangle me, and say that I hanged myself: in that they could not.

            "Item, In this they might have me to the consistory, and judge me after their fashion: from thence they could not.

            "Ergo, I had rather to be there than here. For though the fire be called never so hot, yet if the bishop's two fingers can shake away a piece, a friar's cowl another part, and scala cœli altogether, I will never found abbey, college, nor chantry for that purpose.

            "For seeing there is no pain that can break my charity, break my patience, cause me to dishonour God, to displease God, to be displeased with God, cause me not to joy in God, nor that can bring me to danger of death, or to danger of desperation, or from surety of salvation; that can separate me from Christ, or Christ from me; I care the less for it. John Chrysostom saith, that the greatest pain that damned souls have, is to be separate and cut off from Christ for ever: which pain, he saith, is greater than many hells; which pain the souls in purgatory neither have nor can have.

            "Consider, Master Morice, whether provision for purgatory hath not brought thousands to hell. Debts have not been paid; restitution of evil-gotten lands and goods hath not been made; Christian people (whose necessities we see; to whom whatsoever we do, Christ reputeth done to himself; to whom we are bounden under pain of damnation to do for, as we would be done for ourself) are neglected and suffered to perish; last wills unfulfilled and broken; God's ordinance set aside; and also for purgatory, foundations have been taken for sufficient satisfaction: so we have trifled away the ordinance of God and restitutions. Thus we have gone to hell with masses, diriges, and ringing of many a bell. And who can pill pilgrimages from idolatry, and purge purgatory from robbery, but he shall be in peril to come in suspicion of heresy with them? so that they may pill with pilgrimage and spoil with purgatory. And verily the abuse of them cannot be taken away, but great lucre and vantage shall fall away from them, which had rather have profit with abuse, than lack the same with use; and that is the wasp that doth sting them, and maketh them to swell. And if purgatory were purged of all that it hath gotten, by setting aside restitution, and robbing of Christ, it would be but a poor purgatory; so poor, that it should not be able to feed so fat, and trick up so many idle and slothful lubbers.

            "I take God to witness, I would hurt no man, but it grieveth me to see such abuse continue without remedy. I cannot understand what they mean by the pope's pardoning of purgatory, but by way of suffrage; and as for suffrage, unless he do his duty, and seek not his own but Christ's glory, I had rather have the suffrage of Jack of the scullery, which in his calling doth exercise both faith and charity; but for his mass. And that is as good of another simple priest as of him. For, as for authority of keys, it is to loose from guiltiness of sin and eternal pain, due to the same, according to Christ's word, and not to his own private will. And as for pilgrimage, you would wonder what juggling there is to get money withal. I dwell within half a mile of the Foss-way, and you would wonder to see how they come by flocks out of the west country to many images, but chiefly to the blood of Hayles.. And they believe verily that it is the very blood that was in Christ's body, shed upon the mount of Calvary for our salvation, and that the sight of it with their bodily eye, doth certify them, and putteth them out of doubt, that they be in clean life, and in state of salvation without spot of sin, which doth Bolden them to many things. For you would wonder if you should commune with them both coming and going, what faiths they have: for as for forgiving their enemies, and reconciling their Christian brethren, they cannot away withal; for the sight of that blood doth requite them for the time.

            "I read in Scripture of two certifications: one to the Romans, We being justified by faith, have peace with God. If I see the blood of Christ with the eye of my soul, that is true faith that his blood was shed for me, &c.

            "Another in the Epistle of John: We know that we are translated from death to life, because we love the brethren. But I read not that I have peace with God, nor that I am translated from death to life, because I see with my bodily eye the blood of Hayles. It is very probable, that all the blood that was in the body of Christ, was united and knit to his Divinity, and then no part thereof shall return to his corruption. And I marvel that Christ shall have two resurrections. And if it were that they did violently and injuriously pluck it out of his body, when they scourged him and nailed him to the cross, did see it with their bodily eye, yet they were not in clean life. And we see the self-same blood in form of wine, when we have consecrated, and may both see it, feel it, and receive it to our damnation, as touching bodily receiving. And many do see it at Hayles without confession, as they say. God knoweth all, and the devil in our time is not dead.

            "Christ hath left a doctrine behind him, wherein we be taught how to believe, and what to believe; he doth suffer the devil to use his crafty fashion for our trial and probation. It were little thankworthy to believe well and rightly, if nothing should move us to false faith, and to believe superstitiously. It was not in vain that Christ, when he had taught truly, by and by bade beware of false prophets, which would bring in error slily. But we be secure and uncareful, as though false prophets could not meddle with us, and as though the warning of Christ were no more earnest and effectual than is the warning of mothers when they trifle with their children, and bid them beware the bug, &c.

            "Lo sir, how I run at riot beyond measure. When I began, I was minded to have written but half a dozen lines; but thus I forget myself ever when I write to a trusty friend, which will take in worth my folly, and keep it from mine enemy, &c.

            "As for Dr. Wilson, I wot not what I should say; but I pray God indue him with charity. Neither he, nor any of his countrymen, did ever love me, since I did inveigh against their factions and partiality in Cambridge. Before that, who was more favoured of him than I? That is the bile that may not be touched, &c.

            "A certain friend showed me, that Dr. Wilson is gone now into his country about Beverley in Holderness; and from thence he will go a progress through Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, and so from thence to Bristol. What he intended by this progress, God knoweth, and not I? If he come to Bristol, I shall hear tell, &c.

            "As for Hubberdin, no doubt he is a man of no great learning, nor yet of stable wit. He is here servus hominum; for he will preach whatsoever the bishops will bid him preach. Verily, in my mind, they are more to be blamed than he. He doth magnify the pope more than enough. As for our Saviour Christ and Christian kings, they are little beholden to him. No doubt he did miss the cushion in many things. Howbeit they that did send him, men think, will defend him; I pray God amend him and them both. They would fain make matter against me, intending so either to deliver him by me, or else to rid us both together, and so they would think him well bestowed, &c.

            "As touching Dr. Powell, how highly he took upon him in Bristol, and how little he regarded the sword, which representeth the king's person, many can tell you. I think there is never an earl in this realm that knoweth his obedience by Christ's commandment to his prince, and wotteth what the sword doth signify, that would have taken upon him so stoutly. Howbeit Master Mayor, as he is a profound wise man, did twit him prettily; it were too long to write all. Our pilgrimages are not a little beholden to him; for, to occasion the people to them, he alleged this text: Whosoever leaveth father, house, wife, &c. By that you may perceive his hot zeal and crooked judgment, &c. Because I am so belied, I could wish that it would please the king's Grace to command me to preach before his Highness a whole year together every Sunday, that he himself might perceive how they belie me, saying, that I have neither learning, nor utterance worthy thereunto, &c. I pray you pardon me; I cannot make an end."

 

A brief digression touching the railing of Hubberdin, against Master Latimer.

            Forasmuch as mention hath been made in this letter of Hubberdin, an old divine of Oxford, a right painted Pharisee, and a great strayer abroad in all quarters of the realm to deface and impeach the springing of God's holy gospel, something would be added more, touching that man, whose doings and pageants, if they might be described at large, it were as good as any interlude for the reader to behold; who, in all his life, and in all his actions, (in one word to describe him,) seemeth nothing else but a right image or a counterfeit, setting out unto us in lively colours the pattern of perfect hypocrisy. But because the man is now gone, to spare therefore the dead, (although he little deserved to be spared, which never spared to work what villany he could against the true servants of the Lord,) this shall be enough for example's sake, for all Christian men necessarily to observe, how the said Hubberdin, after his long railing in all places against Luther, Melancthon, Zuinglius, John Frith, Tyndale, Latimer, and all other like professors, after his hypocritical open alms, given out of other men's purses, his long prayers, pretended devotions, devout fastings, his woolward-going, and other his prodigious demeanour,-- riding in his long gown down to the horse-heels like a Pharisee, or rather like a sloven dirted up to the horse-belly,-- after his forged tales and fables, dialogues, dreams, dancings, hoppings and leapings, with other like histrionical toys and gestures used in the pulpit, and all against heretics: at last, riding by a church side, where the youth of the parish were dancing in the churchyard, suddenly this Silenus, lighting from his horse, by the occasion of their dancing came into the church, and there causing the bell to toll in the people, thought instead of a fit of mirth to give them a sermon of dancing. In the which sermon, after he had patched up certain common texts out of the Scriptures, and then coming to the doctors, first to Augustine, then to Ambrose, so to Jerome and Gregory, Chrysostom, and other doctors, had made them every one (after his dialogue manner) by name to answer to his call, and to sing after his tune for the probation of the sacrament of the altar against John Frith, Zuinglius, Œcolampadius, Luther, Tyndale, Latimer, and other heretics (as he called them); at last, to show a perfect harmony of all these doctors together -- as he had made them before to sing after his tune, so now to make them dance also after his pipe -- first he calleth out Christ and his apostles; then the doctors and ancient seniors of the church, as in a round ring all to dance together, with "pipe up Hubberdin." Now dance Christ; now dance Peter, Paul; now dance Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome. And thus old Hubberdin, as he was dancing with his doctors lustily in the pulpit against the heretics, how he stampt and took on I cannot tell, but "crash," quoth the pulpit, down cometh the dancer, and there lay Hubberdin, not dancing, but sprawling in the midst of his audience; where altogether he brake not his neck, yet he so brake his leg the same time, and bruised his old bones, that he never came in pulpit more, and died not long after the same. Whereupon when the churchwardens were called, and charged for the pulpit being no stronger, they made answer again, excusing themselves, that they had made their pulpit for preaching, and not for dancing, &c. But to spend no more paper about this idle matter, now to our purpose again.

            Amongst many other impugners and adversaries, whereof there was no small sort which did infest this good man in sermons; some also there were, which attempted the pen against him. In the number of whom was one Dr. Sherwood, who, upon the same occasion of preaching of the Virgin Mary, (or as they thought, against the Virgin,) did invade him with his pen, writing against him in Latin.

            Besides Latin letters, other letters also he wrote in English, as well to others, as namely to Sir Edward Baynton, knight, which letters, because they do contain much fruitful matter worthy to be read and known, I thought here presently to insert; which albeit may seem somewhat prolix in reading, yet the fruit thereof, I trust, shall recompense the length of them.

 

A letter sent by Master Latimer, parson of West Kington, in the county of Wiltshire, to Sir Edward Baynton, knight.

            "Salutem in Christo.-- Right worshipful sir, I recommend me unto your Mastership with hearty thanks for your so friendly, so charitable, and so mindful, remembrance of me so poor a wretch. Whereas of late I received your letters by Master Bonnam, perceiving therein both who be grieved with me, wherefore, and what behoveth me to do, in case I must needs come up: which your goodness towards me with all other such like to recompense, whereas I myself am not able, I shall not cease to pray my Lord God, which both is able, and also doth indeed reward all them that favour the favourers of his truth for his sake; for the truth is a common thing, pertaining to every man, for the which every man shall answer another day. And I desire favour neither of your Mastership, neither of any man else, but in truth, and for the truth, I take God to witness, which knoweth all. In very deed Master Chancellor did show me that my Lord bishop of London had sent letters to him for me; and I made answer that he was mine ordinary, and that both he might and should reform me as far as I needed reformation, as well and as soon as my Lord of London. And I would be very loth, now this deep winter, being so weak and so feeble, (not only exercised with my old disease in my head and side, but also with new, both the cholic and the stone,) to take such a journey; and though he might so do, yet he needed not, for he was not bound so to do. Notwithstanding I said, if he, to do my Lord of London pleasure, to my great displeasure would needs command me to go, I would obey his commandment, yea, though it should be never so great a grievance, and painful to me; with the which answer he was content, saying he would certify my Lord of London thereof, trusting his Lordship would be content with the same: but as yet I hear nothing from him. Master Chancellor also said, that my Lord of London maketh as though he were greatly displeased with me, for that I did contemn his authority, at my last being in London.

            "Forsooth I preached in Abb-church, not certain then (as I remember) whether in his diocese or no, intending nothing less than to contemn his authority: and this I did not of mine own seeing, or by mine own procuration, but at the request of honest merchantmen, (as they seemed to me,) whose names I do not know, for they were not of mine acquaintance before. And I am glad thereof for their sakes, lest, if I knew them, I should be compelled to utter them, and so their godly desire to hear godly preaching should return to their trouble: for they required me very instantly, and, to say the truth, even importunately. Whether they were of that parish or no, I was not certain; but they showed not only themselves, but also many others to be very desirous to hear me, pretending great hunger and thirst of the word of God, and ghostly doctrine. And upon consideration, and to avoid all inconveniences, I put them off, and refused them twice or thrice, till at the last they brought me word that the parson and curate were not only content, but also desired me, notwithstanding that they certified him both of my name plainly, and also that I had not the bishop's seal to show for me, but only a licence of the university; which curate did receive me, welcomed me, and, when I should go into the pulpit, gave me the common benediction; so that I had not been alone uncharitable, but also churlishly uncharitable, if I should have said nay. Now all this supposed to be truth, (as it is,) I marvel greatly how my Lord of London can allege any contempt of him in me.

            "First, he did never inhibit me in my life; and if he did inhibit his curate to receive me, what pertaineth that to me, which neither did know thereof, nor yet made any suit to the curate deceitfully; nor did it appear to me very likely that the curate would so little have regarded my Lord's inhibition, which he maintaineth so vigilantly, not knowing my Lord's mind before. Therefore I conjectured with myself, that either the curate was of such acquaintance with my Lord, that he might admit whom he would, or else, (and rather,) that it was a train and a trap laid before me, to the intent that my Lord himself, or some others pertaining to him, were appointed to have been there, and to have taken me if they could in my sermon: which conjecture both occasioned me somewhat to suspect those men which desired me, though they spake never so fair and friendly, and also the rather to go. For I preach nothing, but (if it might be so) I would my Lord himself might hear me every sermon I preach. So certain I am that it is truth, that I take in hand to preach. If I had with power of my friends (the curate gainsaying and withstanding) presumed to have gone into the pulpit, there had been something wherefore to pretend a contempt. I preached in Kent also, at the instant request of a curate; yet hear I not that his ordinary layeth any contempt to my charge, or yet doth trouble the curate.

            "I marvel not a little, how my Lord bishop of London, having so broad, wide, and large a diocese committed unto his cure, and so peopled as it is, can have leisure for preaching and teaching the word of God, opportune, importune, tempestive, intempestive, privatim, publice, to his own flock, instando, arguendo, exhortando, monendo, cum omni lenitate et doctrina: have leisure (I say) either to trouble me, or to trouble himself with me, so poor a wretch, a stranger to him, and nothing pertaining to his cure, but as every man pertaineth to every man's cure; so intermixing and inter-meddling himself with another man's cure, as though he had nothing to do in his own. If I would do as some men say my Lord doth, gather up my Joyce, as we call it, warily and narrowly, and yet neither preach for it in mine own cure, nor yet other where, peradventure he would nothing deny me.

            "In very deed I did monish judges and ordinaries to use charitable equity in their judgments towards such as be accused, namely, of such accusers which be as like to hear and bewray, as other be to say amiss; and to take men's words in the meaning thereof, and not to wrest them in another sense than they were spoken in: for all such accusers and witnesses be false before God, as St. Jerome saith upon the twenty-sixth chapter of St. Matthew. Nor yet do I account those judges well advised, which wittingly will give sentence after such witnesses; much less those which procure such witnesses against any man: nor do I think judges now-a-days so deeply confirmed in grace, or so impeccable, but that it may behove and become preachers, to admonish them to do well, as well as other kinds of men, both great and small. And this I did, occasioned of the Epistle which I declared, (Rom. vi.,) wherein is this sentence, Ye Christian men that believe in Christ, are not under the law.

            "What a saying is this, (quoth I,) if it be not rightly understood; that is, as St. Paul did understand it? for the words sound as though he would go about to occasion Christian men to break law, seeing they be not under the law: and what if the pseudo-apostles, adversaries to St. Paul, would have so taken them, and accused St. Paul of the same to my Lord of London? If my said Lord would have heard St. Paul declare his own mind of his own words, then he should have escaped, and the false apostles have been put to rebuke; if he would have rigorously followed utcunque allegata et probata, and have given sentence after relation of the accusers, then good St. Paul must have borne a faggot at Paul's Cross, my Lord of London being his judge. Oh! it had been a godly sight, to have seen St. Paul with a faggot on his back, even at Paul's Cross, my Lord of London (bishop of the same) sitting under the cross. Nay, verily, I dare say, my Lord should sooner have burned him, for St. Paul did not mean that Christian men might break law, and do whatsoever they would, because they were not under the law; but be did mean, that Christian men might keep the law, and fulfil the law, if they would; .because they were not under the law, but under Christ, by whom they were divided from the tyranny of the law, and above the law, that is to say, able to fulfil the law to the pleasure of him that made the law, which they could never do of their own strength, and without Christ: so that to be under the law, after St. Paul's meaning, is to be weak to satisfy the law; and what could St. Paul do withal, though his adversaries would not so take it?

            "But my Lord would say, peradventure, that men will not take the preacher's words otherwise than they mean therein. Bona verba: as though St. Paul's words were not otherwise taken, as it appeareth in the third chapter to the Romans, where he saith, Our unrighteousness commendeth and maketh more excellent the righteousness of God; which sounded to many as though they should be evil that good should come of it, and by unrighteousness to make the righteousness of God more excellent. So St. Paul was reported to mean; yet he did mean nothing so; but showed the inestimable wisdom of God, which can use our naughtiness to the manifestation of his unspeakable goodness; not that we should do naughtily to that end and purpose. Now my Lord will not think, I dare say, that St. Paul was to blame that he spake no more circumspectly, more warily, or more plainly, to avoid evil offence of the people; but rather he will blame the people, for that they took no better heed and attendance to Paul's speaking, to the understanding of the same: yea, he will rather pity the people, which had been so long nurseled in the doctrine of the Pharisees, and wallowed so long in darkness of man's traditions, superstitions, and trade of living, that they were unapt to receive the bright lightness of the truth, and wholesome doctrine of God, uttered by St. Paul. Nor do I think that my Lord will require more circumspection, or more convenience to avoid offence of errors in me, than was in St. Paul, when he did not escape malevolous corrections, and slanderous reports of them that were of perverse judgments, which reported him to say whatsoever he appeared to them to say, or whatsoever seemed to them to follow of his saying.

            "But what followeth? So they report us to say, saith St. Paul; so they speak evil of us: but such, whose damnation is just, saith he. And I think the damnation of all such that evil report preachers now-a-days, likewise just, for it is untruth now and then. Yea, Christ himself was misreported, and falsely accused, both as touching his words, and also as concerning the meaning of his words. First he said, Destroy you; they made it, I can destroy: he said, this temple; they added, made with hand, to bring it to a contrary sense. So they both inverted his words, and also added unto his words, to alter his sentence; for he did mean of the temple of his body, and they wrested it to Solomon's temple.

            "Now I report me, whether it be a just fame raised up and dispersed after this manner. Nay verily, for there be three manner of persons which can make no credible information: first, adversaries, enemies: secondly, ignorant and without judgment: thirdly, whisperers and blowers in men's ears, which which will spew out in hudder-mudder, more than they dare avow openly. The first will not, the second cannot, the third dare not: therefore the relation of such is not credible, and therefore they can make no fame lawful, nor occasion any indifferent judge to make process against any man; and it maketh no little matter what they be themselves that report of any man, whether well or evil: for it is a great commendation to be evil spoken of, of them that be naught themselves, and to be commended of the same is, many times, no little reproach. God send us once all grace to wish well one to another, and to speak well one of another!

            "Me seemeth it were more comely for my Lord (if it were comely for me to say so) to be a preacher himself, having so great a cure as he hath, than to be a disquieter and a troubler of preachers, and to preach nothing at all himself. If it would please his Lordship to take so great a labour and pain at any time, as to come to preach in my little bishopric at West Kington, whether I were present or absent myself, I would thank his Lordship heartily, and think myself greatly bounden to him, that he of his charitable goodness would go so far to help to discharge me in my cure, or else I were more unnatural than a beast unreasonable; nor yet would I dispute, contend, or demand by what authority, or where he had authority so to do, as long as his predication were fruitful, and to the edification of my parishioners.

            "As for my Lord, he may do as it pleaseth his Lordship. I pray God he do always as well as I would wish him ever to do: but I am sure St. Paul, the true minister of God, and faithful dispenser of God's mysteries, and right exemplar of all true and very bishops, saith in the first chapter to the Philippians, that in his time some preached Christ for envy of him, thinking thereby so to grieve him withal, and as it were to obscure him, and to bring his authority into contempt; some of good will and love, thinking thereby to comfort him: Notwithstanding, saith he, by all manner of ways, and after all fashions, whether it be of occasion or of truth, (as ye would say, for truth's sake,) so that Christ be preached and showed, I joy and will joy: so much he regarded more the glory of Christ, and promotion of Christ's doctrine, to the edification of Christian souls, than the maintenance of his own authority, reputation, and dignity; considering right well, (as he said,) that what authority soever he had, it was to edification, and not to destruction.

            "Now I think it were no reproach to my Lord, but very commendable, rather to joy with St. Paul, and be glad that Christ be preached quovis modo -- yea, though it were for envy, that is to say, in disdain, despite, and contempt of his Lordship (which thing no man well advised will enterprise or attempt)-- than when the preaching cannot be proved justly, to demand of the preacher austerely, as the Pharisees did of Christ, qua authoritate hæc facis, aut quis dedit tibi istam authoritatem? As my authority is good enough, and as good as my Lord can give me any, yet I would be glad to have his also, if it would please his Lordship to be so good a lord unto me. For the university of Cambridge hath authority apostolic to admit twelve yearly, of the which I am one: and the king's Highness (God save his Grace!) did decree that all admitted of universities should preach throughout all his realm as long as they preached well, without distraint of any man, my Lord of Canterbury, my Lord of Durham, with such other not a few, standing by, and hearing the decree, nothing gainsaying it, but consenting to the same. Now to contemn my Lord of London's authority were no little fault in me; so no less fault might appear in my Lord of London to contemn the king's authority and decree, yea, so godly, so fruitful, so commendable a decree, pertaining both to the edification of Christian souls, and also to the regard and defence of the popish grace and authority apostolic. To have a book of the king not inhibited, is to obey the king, and to inhibit a preacher of the king's admitted, is it not to disobey the king? Is it not one king that doth inhibit and admit, and hath he not as great authority to admit as to inhibit? He that resisteth the power, whether admitting or inhibiting, doth he not resist the ordinance of God? We low subjects are bound to obey powers, and their ordinances: and are not the highest subjects also, who ought to give us example of such obedience? As for my preaching itself, I trust in God, my Lord of London cannot rightfully belack it, nor justly reprove it, if it be taken with the circumstance thereof, and as I spake it; or else it is not my preaching, but his that falsely reporteth it.

            "But now I hear say that my Lord of London is informed, and upon the said information hath informed the king, that I go about to defend Bilney, and his cause, against his ordinaries and his judges, which I assure you is not so: for I had nothing to do with Bilney, nor yet with his judges, except his judges did him wrong; for I did nothing else but monish all judges indifferently to do right; nor am I altogether so foolish as to defend the thing which I knew not. It might have become a preacher to say as I said, though Bilney had never been born. I have known Bilney a great while, I think much better than every did my Lord of London: for I have been his ghostly father many a time. And to tell you the truth, what I have thought always in him, I have known hitherto few such so prompt and ready to do every man good after his power, both friend and foe, noisome wittingly to no man, and towards his enemy so charitable; so seeking to reconcile them as he did, I have known yet not many; and to be short, in sum, a very simple good soul, nothing fit or meet for this wretched world, whose blind fashion and miserable state (yea, far from Christ's doctrine) he could as evil bear, and would sorrow, lament, and bewail it, as much as any man that ever I knew: as for his singular learning, as well in Holy Scripture, as in all other good letters, I will not speak of it. Notwithstanding, if he either now of late, or at any time attempted any thing contrary to the obedience which a Christian man doth owe either to his prince or to his bishop, I neither do nor will allow and approve that, neither in him, nor yet in any other man: we be all men, and ready to fall; wherefore he that standeth, let him beware he fall not. How he ordered or misordered himself in judgment, I cannot tell, nor will I meddle withal; God knoweth, whose judgments I will not judge. But I cannot but wonder, if a man living so mercifully, so charitably, so patiently, so continently, so studiously and virtuously, and killing his old Adam, (that is to say, mortifying his evil affections and blind motions of his heart so diligently,) should die an evil death, there is no more, but, Let him that standeth, beware that he fall not: for if such as he shall die evil, what shall become of me, such a wretch as I am?

            "But let this go, as little to the purpose, and come to the point we must rest upon. Either my Lord of London will judge my outward man only,as it is said, Men see things only without, or else he will be my God, and judge mine inward man, as it is said, God looks on the heart. If he will have to do only with mine outward man, and meddle with mine outward conversation, how that I have ordered myself toward my Christian brethren, the king's liege people, I trust I shall please and content both my Lord God, and also my Lord of London: for I have preached and teached but according to Holy Scripture, holy fathers, and ancient interpreters of the same, with the which I think my Lord of London will be pacified: for I have done nothing else in my preaching, but with all diligence moved my auditors to faith and charity, to do their duty, and that that is necessary to be done.

            "As for things of private devotion, mean things, and voluntary things, I have reproved the abuse, the superstition of them, without condemnation of the things themselves, as it becometh preachers to do: which thing, if my Lord of London will do himself, (as I would to God he would do,) he should be reported, no doubt, to condemn the use of such things, of covetous men which have damage, and find less in their boxes by condemnation of the abuse, which abuse they had rather should continue still, than their profit should not continue (so thorny be their hearts). If my Lord will needs coast and invade my inward man, will I, nill I, and break violently into my heart, I fear me I shall either displease my Lord of London, which I would be very loth, or else my Lord God, which I would be more loth: not for any infidelity, but for ignorance, for I believe as a Christian man ought to believe. But peradventure my Lord knoweth, and will know many things certainly, which (perchance) I am ignorant in, with the which ignorance, though my Lord of London may, if he will, be discontent, yet I trust my Lord God will pardon it, as long as I hurt no man withal, and say to him with diligent study, and daily prayer, My heart is prepared, O God, my heart is prepared, so studying, preaching, and tarrying the pleasure and leisure of God: and in the mean season, (Acts viii.,) as Apollos did, when he knew nothing of Christ but the baptism of John, teach and preach mine even christened, that and no further than I know to be true.

            "There be three Creeds, one in my mass, another in my matins, the third common to them that neither say mass nor matins, nor yet know what they say, when they say the Creed: and I believe all three, with all that God hath left in holy writ, for me and all others to believe. Yet I am ignorant in things which I trust hereafter to know, as I do now know things in which I have been ignorant heretofore: ever to learn, and ever to be learned; to profit with learning, with ignorance not to annoy. I have thought in times past, that the pope, Christ's vicar, hath been lord of all the world as Christ is; so that if he should have deprived the king of his crown, or you of the lordship of Bromeham, it had been enough: for he could do no wrong. Now I might be hired to think otherwise; notwithstanding I have both seen and heard Scripture drawn to that purpose. I have thought in times past, that the pope's dispensations of pluralities of benefices, and absence from the same, had discharged consciences before God: forasmuch as I have heard, Ecce vobiscum sum, and Qui vos audit me audit, bended to corroborate the same. Now I might be easily entreated to think otherwise, &c.

            "I have thought in times past that the pope could have spoiled purgatory at his pleasure with a word of his mouth: now learning might persuade me otherwise; or else I would marvel why he would suffer so much money to be bestowed that way, which so needful is to be bestowed otherwise, and to deprive us of so many patrons in heaven as he might deliver out of purgatory, &c. I have thought in times past, that if I had been a friar, and in a cowl, I could not have been damned, nor afraid of death; and by occasion of the same, I have been minded many times to have been a friar, namely, when I was sore sick and diseased: now I abhor my superstitious foolishness, &c. I have thought in times past, that divers images of saints could have holpen me, and done me much good, and delivered me of my diseases: now I know that one can help as much as another; and it pitieth mine heart, that my Lord, and such as my Lord is, can suffer the people to be so craftily deceived. It were too long to tell you what blindness I have been in, and how long it were ere I could forsake such folly, it was so corporate in me: but by continual prayer, continual study of Scripture, and oft communing with men of more right judgment, God hath delivered me, &c. Yea, men think that my Lord himself hath thought in times past, that by God's law a man might marry his brother's wife, which now doth dare think and say contrary: and yet this his boldness might have chanced, in Pope Julius's days, to stand him either in a fire, or else in a faggot. Which thing deeply considered, and pondered of my Lord, might something stir him to charitable equity, and to be something remissible toward men which labour to do good as their power serveth with knowledge, and do hurt to no man with their ignorance: for there is no greater distance than between God's law and not God's law; nor is it so, or so, because any man thinketh it so, or so: but,because it is so or so indeed, therefore we must think it so or so, when God shall give us knowledge thereof: for if it be indeed either so or not, it is so, or not so, though all the world hath thought otherwise these thousand years, &c.

            "And finally, as ye say, the matter is weighty, and ought substantially to be looked upon, even as weighty as my life is worth; but how to look substantially upon it, otherwise know not I, than to pray my Lord God day and night, that as he hath imboldened me to preach his truth, so he will strengthen me to suffer for it, to the edification of them which have taken, by the working of him, fruit thereby. And even so I desire you, and all other that favour me for his sake, likewise to pray: for it is not I (without his mighty helping hand) that can abide that brunt; but I have trust that God will help me in time of need, which if I had not, the ocean-sea, I think, should have divided my Lord of London and me by this day. For it is a rare thing for a preacher to have favour at his hand which is no preacher himself, and yet ought to be. I pray God that both he and I may both discharge ourselves, he in his great cure, and I in my little, to God's pleasure, and safety of our souls; Amen.

            "I pray you pardon me, that I write no more distinctly, nor more truly, for my head is so out of frame, that it would be too painful for me to write it again; and, if I be not prevented shortly, I intend to make merry with my parishioners this Christmas, for all the sorrow, lest perchance I never return to them again: and I have heard say, that a doe is as good in winter as a buck in summer.

 

A letter of Sir Edward Boynton, knight, answering to the letter of Master Latimer, sent to him before.

            "Master Latimer, after hearty recommendations; I have communicated the effect of your letters to divers of my friends, such as for Christian charity (as they say) rather desire in you a reformation, either in your opinion, (if it swerve from the truth,) or at the least in your manner and behaviour, inasmuch as it giveth occasion of slander and trouble, in let of your good purposes, than any other inconvenience to your person or good name. And, forasmuch as your said letter misliketh them in some part, and that I have such confidence in your Christian breast, as in my judgment ye will conformably and gladly both hear what may be reformed in you, and also (as it is worthy) so acknowledge and confess the same: I have therefore desired them to take the pain to note their minds in this letter which I send to you, as aggregate of their sayings, and sent from me your assured friend and favourer, in that that is the very truth of God's word: wherein nevertheless, as I trust ye yourself will temper your own judgment, and in a soberness affirm no truth of yourself, which should divide the unity of the congregation in Christ; and the received truth agreed upon by holy fathers of the church, consonant to the Scripture of God; even so whatsoever ye will do therein, (as I think ye will not otherwise than ye should do,) I, being unlearned, and not of the knowledge to give sentence in this alteration and contention, must rather of good congruence show myself, in that you disagree with them, readier to follow their doctrine in truth, than yours, unless it may please Almighty God to inspire and confirm the hearts of such people to testify the same in some honest number, as ought to induce me to give credence unto them.

            "Only God knoweth the certain truth, which is communicated to us, as our capacity may comprehend it by faith, but that it is 'per speculum in ænigmate.' And there have been 'qui zelum Dei habuerunt, sed non secundum scientiam.' Among which I repute not you, but to this purpose I write it, that to call this or that truth, it requireth a deep and profound knowledge, considering that to me, unlearned, what I take for truth may be otherwise, not having 'sensus exercitatos,' as St. Paul saith, 'ad discernendum bonum et malum:' and it is showed me, that an opinion or manner of teaching which causeth dissension in a Christian congregation, is not of God, by the doctrine of St. John in his Epistle, where he saith, 'Omnis qui confitetur Christum in carne,' &c. 'ex Deo est.' And like as the word of God hath always caused dissension among men unchristened, whereupon hath ensued and followed martyrdom to the preacher, so in Christ's congregation, among them that profess Christ's name, 'in uno Domino, uno baptismate, et una fide,' they that preach and stir rather contention than charity, though they can defend their saying, yet their teaching is not to be taken as of God, in that it breaketh the chain of Christian charity, and maketh division in the people, congregate and called by God into a unity of faith and baptism. But for this point I would pray to God, that not only in the truth may be agreement, but also such soberness and uniform behaviour used in teaching and preaching, as men may wholly express (as they may) the charity of God, tending only to the union and love of us all, to the profit and salvation of our souls."

 

The answer of Master Latimer to the letter of Sir Edward Baynton above prefixed.

            "Right worshipful sir, and my singular good master, salutem in Christo Jesu, with due commendation, and also thanks for your great goodness towards me, &c. And whereas you have communicated my last letters to certain of your friends, which rather desire this or that in me, &c., what I think therein I will not now say, not for that there could be any peril or danger in the said letters, well taken, as far as I can judge, but for that they were rashly and unadvisedly scribbled, as ye might well know both by my excuse, and by themselves also, though none excuse had been made. And besides that, ye know right well, that where the bee gathereth honey, even there the spinner gathereth venom, not for any diversity of the flower, but for divers natures in them that suck the flower: as in times past, and in the beginning, the very truth, and one thing in itself, was to some offence, to some foolishness; to others otherwise disposed, the wisdom of God. Such diversity was in the redress of hearers thereof.

            "But this notwithstanding, there is no more but either my writing is good, or bad. If it be good, the communicating thereof to your friends cannot be hurtful to me; if it be otherwise, why should you not communicate it to them which both could and would instruct you in the truth, and reform my error? Let this pass, I will not contend: 'had I wist' cometh ever out of season. Truly I were not well advised, if I would not either be glad of your instruction, or yet refuse mine own reformation: but yet it is good for a man to look ere he leap, and God forbid that ye should be addict and sworn to me so wretched a fool, that you should not rather follow the doctrine of your friends in truth, so great learned men as they appear to be, than the opinions of me, having never so Christian a breast.

            "Wherefore do as you will; for as I would not if I could, so I cannot if I would, be noisome unto you: but yet I say, I would my letters had been unwritten, if for no other cause, at least-way inasmuch as they cause me to more writing, an occupation nothing meet for my mad head. And as touching the points which in my foresaid letters mislike your friends, I have now little leisure to make an answer thereto, for the great business that I have in my little cure, (I know not what other men have in their great cures,) seeing that I am alone without any priest to serve my cure, without any scholar to read unto me, without any book necessary to be looked upon, without learned men to come and counsel withal: all which things others have at hand abundantly. But something must be done, howsoever it be. I pray you take it in good worth, as long as I temper mine own judgment, affirming nothing with prejudice of better. First ye mislike, that I say I am sure that I preach the truth; saying in reproof of the same, that God knoweth certain truth. Indeed alonely God knoweth all certain truth, and alonely God knoweth it as of himself, and none knoweth certain truth but God, and those which be taught of God, as saith St. Paul, 'Deus enim illis patefecit;' and Christ himself, 'Erunt omnes docti a Deo.' And your friends deny not but certain truth is communicated to us, as our capacity may comprehend it by faith, which if it be truth, as it is, then there ought no more to be required of any man, but according to his capacity. Now certain it is, that every man hath not like capacity, &c.

            "But as to my presumption and arrogancy; either I am certain or uncertain that it is truth that I preach. If it be truth, why may not I say so, to courage my hearers to receive the same more ardently, and ensue it more studiously? If I be uncertain, why dare I be so bold to preach it? And if your friends, in whom ye trust so greatly, be preachers themselves, after their sermon I pray you ask them whether they be certain and sure that they taught you the truth or no; and send me word what they say, that I may learn to speak after them. If they say they be sure, ye know what followeth: if they say they be unsure, when shall you be sure, that have so doubtful teachers and unsure? And you yourselves, whether are you certain or uncertain that Christ is your Saviour? And so forth of other articles that ye be bounden to believe. Or whether be ye sure or unsure, that civil ordinances be the good works of God, and that you do God service in doing of them, if ye do them for good intent? If ye be uncertain, take heed he be your sure friend that heareth you say so, and then with what conscience do ye doubt, cum quicquid non est ex fide, peccatum est? But contrary say you, alonely God knoweth certain truth, and ye have it but 'per speculum in ænigmate;' and there have been 'qui zelum Dei habuerunt, sed non secundum scientiam.' And to call this or that truth, it requireth a deep knowledge, considering that to you unlearned, that you take for truth may be otherwise, not having 'sensus exercitatos,' as Paul saith, 'ad discernendum bonum et malum;' as ye reason against me, and so you do best to know surely nothing for truth at all, but to wander meekly hither and thither, 'omni vento doctrina,' &c. Our knowledge here, you say, is but 'per speculum in ænigmate:' What then? ergo, it is not certain and sure.

            "I deny your argument, by your leave; yea, if it be by faith, as ye say, it is much sure, because 'the certainty of faith is the most surest certainty,' as Duns and other school doctors say, that there is a great discrepance between certain knowledge and clear knowledge; for that may be of things absent that appear not, this requireth the presence of the object, I mean of the thing known; so that I certainly and surely know the thing which I perfectly believe, though I do not clearly and evidently know it. I know your school subtleties as well as you, which dispute as though enigmatical knowledge, that is to say, dark and obscure knowledge, might not be certain and sure knowledge, because it is not clear, manifest, and evident knowledge; and yet there have been, say they, which have had a zeal, but not after knowledge. True it is, there have been such, and yet be too many, to the great hinderance of Christ's glory, which nothing doth more obscure than a hot zeal accompanied with great authority without right judgment. There have been also, which have had knowledge without any zeal of God, who holding the verity of God in unrighteousness, shall be beaten with many stripes, while they, knowing the will of God, do nothing thereafter. I mean not among Turks and Saracens, that be unchristened, but of them that be christened. And there have been also that have lost the spiritual knowledge of God's word which they had before; because they have not ensued after it, nor promoted the same; but rather with their mother-wits have impugned the wisdom of the Father, and hindered the knowledge thereof, which therefore hath been taken away from them, ut justificetur Christus in sermonibus suis, et vincat cum judicatur; threatening to him that hath not, that also which he hath (that is, that which he seemeth to have) shall be taken from him: because to abuse that which a man hath, or not to use it well, is as not to have it; and also seeing it is true, that God's wisdom will not dwell in a body subject to sin, albeit it abound in carnal wisdom too much; for the mere carnal and philosophical understanding of God's Scriptures is not the wisdom of God, which is hid from the wise, and is revealed to little ones. And if to call this or that truth, requireth a deep and profound knowledge, then either every man hath a deep and profound knowledge, or else no man can call this or that truth: and it behoveth every preacher to have so deep and profound knowledge, that he may call this or that truth, which this or that he taketh in hand to preach for the truth; and yet he may be ignorant and uncertain in many things, both this and that, as Apollos was: but which things, whether this or that, he will not attempt to preach for the truth. And as for myself, I trust in God, I have my senses well enough exercised to discern good and evil in those things, which (being without deep and profound knowledge in many things) I preach not; yea, there be many things in Scripture in which I cannot certainly discern 'bonum et malum,' I mean 'verum et falsum;' not with all the exercise that I have in Scripture, nor yet with help of all interpreters that I have, to content myself and others in all scrupulosity that may arise. But in such I am wont to wade no further into the stream, than that I may either go over, or else return back again; having ever respect, not to the ostentation of my little wit, but to the edification of them that hear me, as far forth as I can, neither passing mine own, nor yet their capacity.

            "And such manner of argumentations might well serve the devil contra pusillanimes, to occasion them to wander and waver in the faith, and to be uncertain in things in which they ought to be certain: or else it may appear to make and serve against such preachers which will define great subtleties and high matters in the pulpit, which no man can be certain and sure of by God's word to be truth, 'ne sensus quidem habens ad discernendum bonum et malum exercitatissimos.' As whether, if Adam had not sinned, we should have stockfish out of Iceland: how many larks for a penny if every star in the elements were a flickering hobby: how many years a man shall lie in purgatory for one sin, if he buy not plenty of the oil that runneth over our lamps to slake the sin withal; and so forget hell which cannot be slaked, to provide for purgatory.

            "Such argumentation, I say, might appear to make well against such preachers; not against me, which simply and plainly utter true faith and fruits of the same, which be the good works of God, which he hath prepared for us to walk in; every man to do the thing that pertaineth to his office and duty in his degree and calling, as the word of God appointeth, which thing a man may do with soberness, having 'sensus ad discernendum bonum et malum vel mediocriter exercitatos.' For it is but foolish humility, willingly to continue always an infant still in Christ, and in infirmity: in reproof of which it was said, 'Facti estis opus habentes lacte non solido cibo.' For St. Paul saith not, 'estote humiles, ut non capiatis:' for though he would not that we should think arrogantly of ourselves, and above that that it becometh us to think of ourselves, but so to think of ourselves, 'ut simus sobrii ac modesti,' yet he biddeth us so to think of ourselves, as God hath distributed to every one the measure of faith. For he that may not with meekness think in himself what God hath done for him, and of himself as God hath done for him, how shall he, or when shall he, give due thanks to God for his gifts? And if your friends will not allow the same, I pray you inquire of them whether they may, 'cum sobrietate et modestia,' be sure they preach to you the truth, and whether we may, 'cum sobrietate et modestia, follow St. Paul's bidding, where he saith unto us all, Be not children in understanding, but in maliciousness be infants. God give us all grace to keep the mean, and to think of ourselves neither too high nor too low; but so that we nay restore unto him, 'qui peregre profectus est,' his gifts again cum usura,' that is to say, with good use of the same, so that 'ædificemus invicem' with the same, ad gloriam Dei.' Amen.

            "For my life, I trust in God that I neither have, neither (by God's grace) shall I, neither in soberness, nor yet in drunkenness, affirm any truth of myself, therewith intending to divide that unity of the congregation of Christ, and the received truth agreed upon by the holy fathers of the church consonant to the Scripture of God, though it be showed you never so often, that an opinion or manner of teaching which causeth dissension in a Christian congregation, is not of God, by the doctrine of St. John in his Epistle, where he saith, Every one that confesseth Christ in the flesh, is of God. First, not every thing whereupon followeth dissension, causeth dissension, as I would that they that showed you that, would also show you, whether this opinion, that a man may not marry his brother's wife, be of God or of men: if it be of men, then, as Gamaliel said, 'dissolvetur;' if it be of God, as I think it is, and perchance your friends also, 'who can dissolve it, but shall seem to repugn against God?' And yet there be many, not heathens, but in Christendom, that dissent from the same, which could bear full evil to hear said unto them, 'Vos ex patre diabolo estis.' So that such an opinion might seem to some to make a dissension in a Christian congregation, saving that they may say perchance with more liberty than others, that an occasion is sometimes taken and not given, which with their favour I might abuse for my defence, saving that non omnes omnibus licet in hac temporum iniquitate.

            The Galatians having for preachers and teachers the false apostles, by whose teaching they were degenerate from the sweet liberty of the gospel into the sour bond of ceremonies, thought themselves peradventure a Christian congregation, when St. Paul did write his Epistle unto them, and were in a quiet trade under the dominion of masterly curates, so that the false apostles might have objected to St. Paul that his apostleship was not of God, forasmuch as there was dissension in a Christian congregation by occasion thereof, while some would renew their opinions by occasion of the Epistle, some would 'opinari,' as they were wont to do, and follow their great lords and masters, the false apostles, which were not heathen and unchristianed, but christianed, and high prelates of the professors of Christ. For your friends, I know right well what Erasmus hath said in an epistle set before the paraphrases of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which Erasmus hath caused no small dissension with his pen in a Christian congregation, inasmuch as many have dissented from him, not alonely in cloisters, (men more than christened men,) of high perfection, but also at Paul's Cross, and St. Mary Spital, besides many that with no small zeal have written against him, but not without answer.

            "And I would fain learn of your friends, whether that St. Jerome's writings were of God, which caused dissension in a Christian congregation, as it appeareth by his own words in the prologue before the canonical epistles, which be these: 'Et tu virgo Christi Eustochium, dum a me impensius Scripturæ veritatem inquiris, meam quodammodo senectutem invidorum dentibus vel morsibus corrodendam apponis, qui me falsarium corruptoremque Scripturarum pronunciant: sed ego in tali opere nec illorum invidentiam pertimesco, nec Scripturæ veritatem poscentibus denegabo.' I pray you what were they, that called St. Jerome 'falsarium,' and corrupter of Scripture, and for envy would have bitten him with their teeth? Unchristian or Christian? What had the unchristian to do with Christian doctrine? They were worshipful fathers of a Christian congregation, men of much more hotter stomachs than right judgment, of a greater authority than good charity: but St. Jerome would not cease to do good for the evil-speaking of them that were naught, giving in that an ensample to us of the same and if this dissension were in St. Jerome's time, what may be in our time? de malo in pejus scilicet.

            "And I pray you what mean your friends by a Christian congregation? All those, trow ye, that have been christianed? But many of those be in worse condition, and shall have greater damnation, than many unchristianed. For it is not enough to a Christian congregation that is of God, to have been christened: but it is to be considered what we promise when we be christened, to renounce Satan, his works, his pomps: which thing if we busy not ourselves to do, let us not crack that we profess Christ's name in a Christian congregation, in one baptism.

            "And whereas they add, 'in one Lord,' I read in Matt. xvii., Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, &c. And in Luke the Lord himself complaineth and rebuketh such professors and confessors, saying to them, Why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not that I bid you? Even as though it were enough to a Christian man, or to a Christian congregation, to say every day, 'Domine, dominus noster,' and to salute Christ with a double 'domine.' But I would your friends would take the pains to read over Chrysostom, super Matthæum, hom. 49. cap. 24, to learn to know a Christian congregation, if it will please them to learn at him. And whereas they add, in one faith. St. James saith boldly, Show me thy faith by thy works. And St. Jerome, 'If we believe, we show the truth in working.' And the Scripture saith, He that believeth God attendeth to his commandments: and the devils do believe to their little comfort. I pray God to save you and your friends from that believing congregation, and from that faithful company!

            "Therefore all this toucheth not them that be unchristened, but them that be christened, and answer not unto their christendom. For St. Jerome showeth how true preachers should order themselves, when evil priests and false preachers, and the people by them deceived, should be angry with them for preaching the truth, exhorting them to suffer death for the same, of the evil priests and false preachers, and the people deceived of them; which evil priests and false preachers, with the people deceived, be christened as well as others. And I fear me that St. Jerome might appear to some Christian congregation, as they will be called, to write seditiously, to divide the unity of a great honest number confessing Christ, 'in uno baptismate, uno Domino, una fide,' saying,' The people which before were brought asleep by their masters, must go up to the mountains: not such mountains which smoke when they are touched, but to the mountains of the Old and New Testament, the prophets, apostles, and evangelists. And when they are occupied with reading in these mountains, if they find no instructors, (for the harvest is great, and the workmen be few,) yet shall the diligent study of the people he approved in fleeing to the mountains, and the slothfulness of the masters shall be rebuked.'

            "I do marvel why our Christian congregations be so greatly grieved that lay-people would read Scripture, seeing that St. Jerome alloweth and approveth the same, which compareth not here the unchristened to the christened, but the lay-people christened to their curates christened, under the which they have been rocked and locked asleep in a subtle trade a great while full soundly, though now of late they have been waked, but to their pain; at the least-way to the pain of them that have wakened them with the word of God. And it is properly said of St. Jerome to call them masters and not servants: meaning that servants teach not their own doctrine, but the doctrine of their Master Christ, to his glory. Masters teach not Christ's doctrine, but their own, to their own glory; which masterly curates cannot be quiet till they have brought the people asleep again: but Christ the very true Master saith, 'Vigilate, et orate, ne intretis in tentationem.' 'Non cogitationes meæ cogitationes vestræ, neque viæ meæ viæ vestræ; dicit Dominus:' and there have been, 'which have gone about counsels, which they could not establish.' I pray God give our people grace so to wake, ut studium illorum comprobetur, and our masters so to sleep, ut non desidia illorum coarguatur. For who is so blind that he seeth not how far our Christian congregation doth gainsay St. Jerome, and speaketh after another fashion?

 

God amend that is amiss;
For we be something wide I wis.

            "But now your friends have learned of St. John, that Every one that confesseth Jesus Christ in flesh, is of God and I have learned of St. Paul, that there have been, not among the heathen, but among the Christians, which confess Christ with their mouth, and deny him with their acts; so that St. Paul should appear to expound St. John, saving that I will not affirm any thing as of myself, but leave it to your friends to show you 'utrum qui factis negant Christum et vita sint ex Deo necne per solam oris confessionem:' for your friends know well enough by the same St. John, 'qui ex Deo est, non peccat:' and there both have been and be now too many, which with mouth only confess Christ to be come in the flesh; but will not effectually hear the word of God, by consenting to the same, notwithstanding that St. John saith, 'Qui ex Deo est, verbum Dei audit; vos non auditis, quia ex Deo non estis.' And many shall hear, I never knew you, which shall not alonely be christened, but also shall 'prophetare,' and do puissant things 'in nomine Christi:' and St. Paul said there should come ravening wolves which will not spare the flock; meaning it of them that should 'confiteri Christum in carne,' in their lips, and yet usurp by succession the office, which Christ calleth false prophets, and biddeth us beware of them, saying, They shall come in sheep's clothing; and yet they may wear both satin, silk, and velvet, called afterwards, naughty servants, not feeding but smiting their fellow servants, eating and drinking with the drunken, which shall have their portion with hypocrites. They are called 'servi,' servants, I trow, quod ore confitentur Christum in carne; nequam vero, quia factis negant eundem, non dantes cibum in tempore, dominium exercentes in gregem: because they confess Christ in the flesh: and naughty they are called, because they deny him in their deeds, not giving meat in due season, and exercising mastership over the flock. And yet your friends reason as though there could none bark and bite at true preachers, but they that be unchristianed, notwithstanding that St. Augustine, upon the same Epistle of John, calleth such confessors of Christ, qui ore confitentur, et factis negant, 'antichristos;' a strange name for a Christian congregation. And though St. Augustine could defend his saying, yet his saying might appear not to be of God, to some men's judgment, in that it breaketh the chain of Christ's charity, so to cause men to hate antichrists, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, Hate that is evil: and so making division, not between christened and unchristened, but between Christians and antichristians, when neither pen nor tongue can divide the antichristians from their blind folly. And I would you would cause your friends to read over St. Augustine upon the Epistle of St. John; and tell you the meaning thereof, if they think it expedient for you to know it. As I remember, it is in his Tractate iii. But I am not sure nor certain of that, because I have not seen it since I was at Cambridge; and here I have not St. Augustine's works to look for it: but well I wot, that there he teacheth us to know the Christians from the antichristians, which both be christened, and both confess 'Jesum esse Christum,' if they be asked the question: and yet the one part denieth it in very deed. 'But let us not stand upon our talk, but attend to our doings and manner of life, to know whether we strive to perform the duties of our calling or not: yea, rather, we perhaps persuade ourselves that it is not necessary for us to perform them, referring them all to primitive usage; but that it is enough for us to bear rule and authority, and to bestow ourselves wholly upon secular matters, pleasures, and pomp of this world.'

            "And yet as long as they minister the word of God, or his sacraments, or any thing that God hath ordained to the salvation of mankind, wherewith God hath promised to be present, to work with the ministration of the same to the end of the world, they be to be heard, to be obeyed, to be honoured for God's ordinance sake, which is effectual and fruitful, whatsoever the minister be, though he be a devil, and neither church nor member of the same, as Origen saith, and Chrysostom, so that it is not all one to honour them, and trust in them, St. Jerome saith: 'But there is required a judgment, to discern when they minister God's word and ordinance of the same, and their own, lest peradventure we take chalk for cheese, which will edge our teeth, and hinder digestion.' For as it is commonly said, 'the blind eat many a fly,' as they did which were persuaded of the high priests, to ask Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus; and ye know that to follow the blind guides, is to come into the pit with the same. 'And well you know,' saith St. Augustine, how apertly they resist Christ, when men begin to blame them for their misliving, and intolerable secularity and negligence? They dare not for shame blaspheme Christ himself, but they will blaspheme the ministers and preachers of whom they he blamed.'

            "Therefore, whereas ye will pray for agreement both in the truth, and in uttering of the truth, when shall that be, as long as we will not hear the truth, but disquiet with crafty conveyance the preachers of the truth, because they reprove our evilness with the truth? And, to say truth, better it were to have a deformity in preaching, so that some would preach the truth of God, and that which is to be preached, without mutilation and adulteration of the word, (as Nicolas de Lyra saith in his time few did: what they do now-a-days, I report me to them that can judge,) than to have such a uniformity, that the silly people should be thereby occasioned to continue still in their lamentable ignorance, corrupt judgment, superstition, and idolatry; and esteem things, as they do all, preposterously; doing that that they need not for to do, leaving undone that they ought to do, for lack or want of knowing what is to he done; and so show their love to God, not as God biddeth, which saith, If ye love me, keep my commandments; and again, He that knoweth my precepts, and doth them, he it is loveth me; but as they bid, which seek their own things, not Christ's: as though to tithe mint were more than judgment, faith, and mercy.

            "And what is to love in state of curates, but what he taught, who said, Peter, lovest thou me? Feed, feed, feed; which is now set aside, as though to love were to do nothing else, but to wear rings, mitres, and rochets, &c. And when they err in right loving, how can the people but err in loving, and be all of the new fashion, to his dishonour that suffered his passion, and taught the true kind of loving, which is now turned into piping, playing, and curious singing, which will not be reformed, I trow, 'nisi per manum Dei validam.' And I have both St. Augustine and St. Thomas, with divers others, that 'lex' is taken not alonely for ceremonies, but also for morals, where it is said, 'Non estis sub lege,' though your friends reprove the same. But they can make no division in a Christian congregation. And whereas both you and they would have a soberness in our preaching, I pray God send it unto us, whatsoever ye mean by it. For I see well, whosoever will be happy, and busy with 'væ vobis,' he shall shortly after come 'coram nobis.'

            "And whereas your friends think that I made a lie, when I said that I have thought in times past that the pope had been lord of the world, though your friends be much better learned than I, yet am I sure that they know not what either I think, or have thought, better than I; juxta illud, nemo novit quæ sunt hominis, &c.; as though better men than I have not thought so, as Boniface (as I remember) Octavus, and the great learned man John of the Burnt Tower, presbyter cardinalis, in his book, where he proveth the pope to be above the council general, and specially where he saith that the pope is 'king of kings, and lord of lords;' and that he is 'the true lord of the whole world by good right, albeit in fact he be not so;' and that Constantine did but restore his own unto him, when he gave unto him Rome, so that, (as St. John saith Christ did,) He came unto his own, and his own received him not: and yet I hear not that any of our Christian congregations have reclaimed against him, until now of late dissension began. Who be your friends I cannot tell; but I would you would desire them to be my good masters, and if they will do me no good, at the least-way do me no harm; and though they can do you no more good than I, yet I am sure I would be as loth to hurt you as they, either with mine opinions, manner of preaching, or writing.

            "And as for the pope's high dominion over all, there is one Raphael Marulphus in London, an Italian, and in times past a merchant of dispensations, which I suppose would die in the quarrel, as God's true knight, and true martyr.

            "As touching purgatory, and worshipping of saints, I showed to you my mind before my ordinary; and yet I marvelled something, that after private communication had with him, ye would (as it were) adjure me to open my mind before him, not giving me warning before, saving I cannot interpret evil, your doings towards me; and yet neither mine ordinary, nor you, disallowed the thing that I said. And I looked not to escape better than Dr. Crome, but when I have opened my mind never so much, yet I shall be reported to deny my preaching, of them that have belied my preaching, as he was: I shall have need of great patience to bear the false reports of the malignant church.

            "Sir, I have had more business in my little cure, since I spake with you, what with sick folks, and what with matrimonies, than I have had since I came to it, or than I would have thought a man should have in a great cure. I wonder how men can go quietly to bed, which have great cures and many, and yet peradventure are in none of them all. But I pray you tell none of your friends that I said so foolishly, lest I make a dissension in a Christian congregation, and divide a sweet and a restful union, or 'tot quot,' with 'hæc requies mea in seculum seculi.' Sir, I had made an end of this scribbling, and was beginning to write it again more truly and more distinctly, and to correct it, but there came a man of my Lord of Farley, with a citation to appear before my Lord of London in haste, to be punished for such excesses as I committed at my last being there, so that I could not perform my purpose: I doubt whether ye can read it as it is. If ye can, well be it: if not, I pray you send it me again, and that you so do, whether you can read it or not. Jesu mercy, what a world is this, that I shall be put to so great labour and pains, besides great costs, above my power, for preaching of a poor simple sermon! But I trow our Saviour Christ said true, I must needs suffer, and so enter: so perilous a thing it is to live virtuously with Christ, yea, in a Christian congregation. God make us all Christians, after the right fashion, Amen!"

 

A Letter of Master Latimer to King Henry the Eighth, for restoring again the free liberty of reading the Holy Scriptures.

            "To the most mighty prince, king of England, Henry the Eighth, grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ:-- The holy doctor, St. Augustine, in an epistle which he wrote to Casalandus, saith, that he which for fear of any power hideth the truth, provoketh the wrath of God to come upon him: for he feareth men more than God. And according to the same, the holy man St. John Chrysostom saith, that he is not only a traitor to the truth, which openly for truth teacheth a lie; but he also which doth not freely pronounce and show the truth that he knoweth. These sentences, most redoubted king, when I read now of late, and marked them earnestly in the inward parts of mine heart, they made me sore afraid, troubled, and vexed me grievously in my conscience; and at the last drave me to this strait, that either I must show forth such things as I have read and learned in Scripture, or else be of that sort that provoke the wrath of God upon them, and be traitors unto the truth: the which thing rather than it should happen, I had rather suffer extreme punishment.

            "For what other thing is it to be a traitor unto the truth, than to be a traitor and a Judas unto Christ, which is the very truth, and cause of all truth? the which saith, that whosoever denieth him here before men, he will deny him before his Father in heaven. The which denying ought more to be feared and dreaded, than the loss of all temporal goods, honour, promotion, fame, prison, slander, hurts, banishments, and of all manner of torments and cruelties, yea, and death itself, be it never so shameful and painful. But alas, how little do men regard those sharp sayings of these two holy men, and how little do they fear the terrible judgment of Almighty God! and specially they which boast themselves to be guides and captains unto others, and challenging unto themselves the knowledge of Holy Scripture, yet will neither show the truth themselves, (as they be bound,) neither suffer them that would. So that unto them may be said, that which our Saviour Christ said to the Pharisees, Woe be unto you, scribes and Pharisees, which shut up the kingdom of heaven before men, and neither will you enter in yourselves, neither suffer them that would, to enter in! And they will, as much as in them lieth, debar, not only the word of God, which David calleth, a light to direct and show every man how to order his affections and lusts, according to the commandments of God, but also by their subtle wiliness they instruct, move, and provoke in a manner, all kings in Christendom, to aid, succour, and help them in this their mischief. And especially in this your realm, they have so blinded your liege people and subjects with their laws, customs, ceremonies, and Banbury glosses, and punished them with cursings, excommunications, and other corruptions (corrections I would say). And now, at the last, when they see that they cannot prevail against the open truth, (which the more it is persecuted, the more it increaseth by their tyranny,) they have made it treason to your noble Grace to have the Scripture in English.

            "Here I beseech your Grace to pardon me a while, and patiently to hear me a word or two; yea, though it be so that, as concerning your high majesty and regal power whereunto Almighty God hath called your Grace, there is as great difference between you and me, as between God and man: for you be here to me and to all your subjects, in God's stead, to defend, aid, and succour us in our right; and so I should tremble and quake to speak to your Grace. But again, as concerning that you be a mortal man, in danger of sin, having in you the corrupt nature of Adam, in the which all we he both conceived and born; so have you no less need of the merits of Christ's passion for your salvation, than I and other of your subjects have, which be all members of the mystical body of Christ. And though you be a higher member, yet you must not disdain the lesser. For, as St. Paul saith, Those members that be taken to be most vile, and had in least reputation, be as necessary as the other, for the preservation and keeping of the body. This, most gracious king, when I considered, and also your lowly, favourable, and gentle nature, I was bold to write this rude, homely, and simple letter unto your Grace, trusting that you will accept my true and faithful mind even as it is.

            "First, and before all things, I will exhort your Grace to mark the life and process of our Saviour Christ, and his apostles, in preaching and setting-forth of the gospel; and to note also the words of our Master Christ, which he said to his disciples when he sent them forth to preach his gospel; and to these have ever in your mind the golden rule of our Master Christ, The tree is known by the fruit: for by the diligent marking of these, your Grace shall clearly know and perceive who be the true followers of Christ, and teachers of his gospel, and who be not. And concerning the first, all Scripture showeth plainly, that our Saviour Jesus Christ's life was very poor.

            "Begin at his birth, and I beseech you, who ever heard of a poorer, and so poor as he was? It were too long to write how poor Joseph and the blessed Virgin Mary took their journey from Nazareth toward Bethlehem, in the cold and frosty winter, having nobody to wait upon them, but he both master and man, and she both mistress and maid. How vilely, thinks your Grace, were they entreated in the inns and lodgings by the way! and in how vile and abject place was this poor maid, the mother of our Saviour Jesus Christ, brought to bed, without company, light, or any other thing necessary for a woman in that plight! Was not here a poor beginning, as concerning this world? Yes truly. And according to this beginning was the process and end of his life in this world, and yet he might by his godly power have had all the goods and treasures of this world at his pleasure, when and where he would.

            "But this he did to show us, that his followers and vicars should not regard and set by the riches and treasures of this world, but after the saying of David we ought to take them, which saith thus: If riches, promotions, and dignity happen to a man, let him not set his affiance, pleasure, trust, and heart upon them. So that it is not against the poverty in spirit, which Christ preacheth in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter v., to be rich, to be in dignity and in honour, so that their hearts be not fixed and set upon them so much, that they neither care for God nor good men. But they be enemies to this poverty in spirit, have they never so little, that have greedy and desirous minds to the goods of this world, only because they would live after their own pleasures and lusts. And they also be privy enemies, (and so much the worse,) which have professed, as they say, wilful poverty, and will not be called worldly men; and they have lords' lands, and kings' riches. Yea, rather than they would lose one jot of that which they have, they will set debate between king and king, realm and realm,yea, between the king and his subjects, and cause rebellion against the temporal power, to the which our Saviour Christ himself obeyed, and paid tribute, as the gospel declareth; unto whom the holy apostle St. Paul teacheth every Christian man to obey: yea, and beside all this, they will curse and ban, as much as in them lieth, even into the deep pit of hell, all that gainsay their appetite, whereby they think their goods, promotions, or dignities should decay.

            "Your Grace may see what means and craft the spiritually (as they will be called) imagine, to break and withstand the acts which were made in your Grace's last parliament against their superfluities. Wherefore they that thus do, your Grace may know them not to be true followers of Christ. And although I named the spiritualty to be corrupt with this unthrifty ambition; yet I mean not all to be faulty therein, for there be some good of them: neither will I that your Grace should take away the goods due to the church, but take away such evil persons from the goods, and set better in their stead.

            "I name nor appoint any person or persons, but remit your Grace to the rule of our Saviour Christ, as in Matthew vii., By their fruits you shall know them. As touching the words that our Saviour Christ spake to his disciples when he sent them to preach his gospel, they be read in Matthew xv., where he showeth, that here they shall be hated and despised of all men worldly, and brought before kings and rulers, and that all evil should be said by them, for their preaching sake. But he exhorteth them to take patiently such persecution by his own example, saying, It becometh not the servant to be above the Master. And seeing they called me Beelzebub, what marvel is it, if they call you devilish persons and heretics. Read the fourteenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, and there your Grace shall see that he promised to the true preachers no worldly promotions or dignity; but persecution and all kinds of punishment, and that they should be betrayed even by their own brethren and children. In John also he saith, In the world ye shall have oppression, and the world shall hate you: but in me you shall have peace. And in the tenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel saith our Saviour Christ also, Lo, I send you forth as sheep among wolves. So that the true preachers go like sheep harmless, and be persecuted, and yet they revenge not their wrong, but remit all to God; so far is it off that they will persecute any others but with the word of God only, which is their weapon. And so this is the most evident token that our Saviour Jesus Christ would that his gospel and the preachers of it should be known by, that it should be despised among those worldly-wise men, and that they should repute it but foolishness, and deceivable doctrine; and the true preachers should be persecuted and hated, and driven from town to town, yea, and at the last lose both goods and life.

            "And yet they that did this persecution, should think that they did well, and a great pleasure to God. And the apostles, remembering this lesson of our Saviour Christ, were content to suffer such persecutions, as you may read in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. But we never read that they ever persecuted any man. The holy apostle St. Paul saith, that every man that will live godly in Christ Jesus, should suffer persecution. And also he saith further in the Epistle written to the Philippians, in the first chapter, that it is not only given to you to believe in the Lord, but also to suffer persecution for his sake.

            "Wherefore take this for a sure conclusion, that there, where the word of God is truly preached, there is persecution, as well of the hearers, as of the teachers; and where is quietness and rest in worldly pleasure, there is not the truth. For the world loveth all that are of the world, and hateth all things that are contrary to it. And, to be short, St. Paul calleth the gospel, the word of the cross, the word of punishment. And the Holy Scripture doth promise nothing to the favourers and followers of it in this world, but trouble, vexation, and persecution, which these worldly men cannot suffer, nor away withal.

            "Therefore pleaseth it your good Grace to return to this golden rule of our Master and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is this, By their fruits you shall know them. For where you see persecution, there is the gospel, and there is the truth; and they that do persecute, be void and without all truth, not caring for the clear light, which (as our Saviour Jesus Christ saith in the third chapter of St. John's Gospel) is come into the world, and which shall utter and show forth every man's works. And they whose works be naught, dare not come to this light, but go about to stop it and hinder it, letting as much as they may, that the Holy Scripture should not be read in our mother tongue, saying that it would cause heresy and insurrection: and so they persuade, at the least-way they would fain persuade, your Grace to keep it back. But here mark their shameless boldness, which be not ashamed, contrary to Christ's doctrine, to gather figs of thorns, and grapes of bushes, and to call light darkness, and darkness light, sweet sour, and sour sweet, good evil, and evil good, and to say, that that which teacheth all obedience, should cause dissension and strife. But such is their belly wisdom, wherewith they judge and measure every thing, to hold and keep still this wicked mammon, the goods of this world, which is their god, and hath so blinded the eyes of their hearts, that they cannot see the clear light of the sacred Scripture, though they babble never so much of it.

            "But as concerning this matter, other men have showed your Grace their minds, how necessary it is to have the Scripture in English. The which thing also your Grace hath promised by your last proclamation: the which promise I pray God that your gracious Highness may shortly perform, even today, before to-morrow. Nor let the wickedness of these worldly men detain you from your godly purpose and promise. Remember the subtle worldly-wise counsellors of Hanun the son of Nahash, king of the Ammonites, which when David had sent his servants to comfort the young king for the death of his father, by crafty imaginations counselled Hanun, not only to receive them gently, but to entreat them most shamefully and cruelly, saying that they came not to comfort him, but to espy and search his land; so that afterward they, bringing David word how every thing stood, David might come and conquer it. And they caused the young king to shear their heads, and to cut their coats by the points, and sent them away like fools; whom he ought rather to have made much of, and to have entreated them gently, and have given them great thanks and rewards. O wretched counsellors! But see what followed of this carnal and worldly wisdom. Truly nothing but destruction of all the whole realm, and also of all them that took their parts.

            "Therefore good king, seeing that the right David, that is to say, our Saviour Christ, hath sent his servants, that is to say, his true preachers, and his own word also, to comfort our weak and sick souls, let not these worldly men make your Grace believe that they will cause insurrections and heresies, and such mischiefs as they imagine of their own mad brains, lest that he be avenged upon you and your realm, as was David upon the Ammonites, and as he hath ever been avenged upon them which have obstinately withstood and gainsaid his word. But peradventure they will lay this against me, and say that experience doth show, how that such men as call themselves followers of the gospel regard not your Grace's commandment, neither set by your proclamation; and that was well proved by those persons which of late were punished in London for keeping such books as your Grace had prohibited by proclamation: and so, like as they regarded not this, so they will not regard nor esteem other your Grace's laws, statutes, or ordinances. But this is but a crafty persuasion: for your Grace knoweth that there is no man living, specially that loveth worldly promotion, that is so foolish, to set forth, promote, or enhance his enemy, whereby he should be let of his worldly pleasures and fleshly desires: but rather he will seek all the ways possible that he can, utterly to confound, destroy, and put them out of the way. And so as concerning your last proclamation, prohibiting such books, the very true cause of it, and chief counsellors, (as men say, and of likelihood it should be,) were they, whose evil living and cloaked hypocrisy these books uttered and disclosed. And howbeit that there were three or four, that would have had the Scripture to go forth in English, yet it happened there, as it is evermore seen, that the most part overcometh the better. And so it might be that these men did not take this proclamation as yours, but as theirs set forth in your name, as they have done many times more, which hath put this your realm in great hinderance and trouble, and brought it in great penury, and more would have done, if God hath not mercifully provided to bring your Grace to knowledge of the falsehood and privy treason, which their head and captain was about: and be you sure not without adherents, if the matter be duly searched. For what marvel is it, that they, being so nigh of your counsel, and so familiar with your lords, should provoke both your Grace and them to prohibit these books, who before by their own authority have forbidden the New Testament, under pain of everlasting damnation: for such is their manner, to send a thousand men to hell, ere they send one to God; and yet the New Testament (and so I think by the other) was meekly offered to every man that would and could, to amend it, if there were any fault.

            "Moreover, I will ask them the causes of all insurrections, which have been in this realm heretofore; and whence is it, that there be so many extortioners, bribers, murderers, and thieves, which daily do not break only your Grace's laws, ordinances, and statutes, but also the laws and commandments of Almighty God? I think they will not say these books, but rather their pardons, which causeth many a man to sin, in trust of them. For as for those malefactors which I now rehearsed, you shall not find one amongst a hundred, but that he will cry out both of these books, and also of them that have them, yea, and will be glad to spend the good which he hath wrongfully gotten, upon faggots, to burn both the books and them that have them.

            "And as touching these men that were lately punished for these books, there is no man, I hear say, that can lay any word or deed against them that should sound to the breaking of any of your Grace's laws, this only except, if it be yours, and not rather theirs. And be it so that there be some that have these books that be evil, unruly and self-willed persons, not regarding God's laws, nor man's, yet these books be not the cause thereof, no more than was the bodily presence of Christ, and his words, the cause that Judas fell; but their own froward mind and carnal wit, which should be amended by the virtuous example of living of their curates, and by the true exposition of the Scripture. If the lay people had such curates, that would thus do their office, neither these books, nor the devil himself, could hurt them, nor make them to go out of frame: so that the lack of good curates is the destruction and cause of all mischief. Neither do I write these things because that I will either excuse these men lately punished, or to affirm all to be true written in these books, which I have not all read; but to show that there cannot such inconvenience follow of them, and specially of the Scripture, as they would make men believe should follow.

            "And though it be so that your Grace may by other books, and namely by the Scripture itself, know and perceive the hypocrite-wolves clad in sheep's clothing, yet I think myself bound in conscience to utter unto your Grace such things as God put in my mind to write. And this I do (God so judge me!) not for hate of any person or persons living, nor for that I think the word of God should go forth without persecution, if your Grace had commanded that every man within your realm should have it in his mother's tongue. For the gospel must needs have persecution unto the time that it be preached throughout all the world, which is the last sign that Christ showed to his disciples should come before the day of judgment: so that if your Grace had once commanded that the Scripture should be put forth, the devil would set forth some wile or other to persecute the truth. But my purpose is, for the love that I have to God principally, and the glory of his name, which is only known by his word, and for the true allegiance that I owe unto your Grace, and not to hide in the ground of my heart the talent given me of God, but to chaffer it forth to others, that it may increase to the pleasure of God, to exhort your Grace to avoid and beware of these mischievous flatterers, and their abominable ways and counsels.

            "And take heed whose counsels your Grace doth take in this matter: for there be some that, for fear of losing of their worldly worship and honour, will not leave of their opinion, which rashly, and that to please men withal by whom they had great promotion, they took upon them to defend by writing, so that now they think that all their felicity, wh eh they put in this life, should be marred, and their wisdom not so greatly regarded, if that which they have so slanderously oppressed, should now be put forth and allowed. But, alas! let these men remember St. Paul, how fervent he was against the truth (and that of a good zeal) before he was called: he thought no shame to suffer punishment and great persecutions for that which, before, he despised and called heresy. And I am sure that their living is not more perfect than St. Paul's was, as concerning the outward works of the law, before he was converted.

            "Also the king and prophet David was not ashamed to forsake his good intent in building of the temple, after that the prophet Nathan had showed him that it was not the pleasure of God that he should build any house for him; and, notwithstanding that Nathan had before allowed and praised the purpose of David, yet he was not ashamed to revoke and eat his words again, when he knew that they were not according to God's will and pleasure.

            "Wherefore they be sore drowned in worldly wisdom, that think it against their worship to acknowledge their ignorance; whom I pray to God that your Grace may espy, and take heed of their worldly wisdom, which is foolishness before God; that you may do that God commandeth, and not that seemeth good in your own sight without the word of God, that your Grace may be found acceptable in his sight, and one of the members of his church; and, according to the office that he hath called your Grace unto, you may be found a faithful minister of his gifts, and not a defender of his faith; for he will not have it defended by man or man's power, but by his word only, by the which he hath evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man's power or reason, as all the stories of the Bible make mention.

            "Wherefore, gracious king, remember yourself, have pity upon your soul; and think that the day is even at hand, when you shall give account of your office, and of the blood that hath been shed with your sword. In the which day that your Grace may stand stedfastly, and not be ashamed, but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and to have (as they say) your 'quietus est' sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which only serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to him that suffered death for our sins, which also prayeth to his Father for grace for us continually. To whom be all honour and praise for ever, Amen. The Spirit of God preserve your Grace.-- Anno Domini 1530.

 

N this letter of Master Latimer to the king above prefixed, many things we have to consider: first, his good conscience to God, his goodwill to the king, the duty of a right pastor unto truth, his tender care to the commonwealth, and specially to the church of Christ. Further, we have to consider the abuse of princes' courts, how kings many times be abused with flatterers and wicked counsellors about them; and specially we may note the subtle practices of prelates, in abusing the name and authority of kings, to set forth their own malignant proceedings. We may see moreover, and rather marvel at in the said letter, the great boldness and divine stoutness in this man, who, as yet being no bishop, so freely and plainly, without all fear of death, adventuring his own life to discharge his conscience, durst so boldly, to so mighty a prince, in such a dangerous case, against the king's law and proclamation set out in such a terrible time, take upon him to write, and to admonish that, which no counsellor durst once speak unto him, in defence of Christ's gospel. Whose example if the bishops and prelates of this realm, for their parts, likewise in like cases of necessity would follow, (as indeed they should,) so many things peradventure would not be so out of frame as they be, and also for lack that the officers of God's word do not their duty.

            Finally, this moreover in the said letter is to be noted, how blessedly Almighty God wrought with his faithful servant's bold adventure, and wholesome counsel, though it did not prevail through the iniquity of the time: yet, notwithstanding, God so wrought with his servant in doing his duty, that no danger nor yet displeasure rose to him thereby, but rather thanks and good-will of the prince, for, not long after the same, he was advanced by the king to the bishopric of Worcester, as is above declared.

            Seeing Master Latimer was so bold and plain with the king, (as is afore specified,) no great marvel if he did use the like freedom and plainness toward other meaner persons in admonishing them of their misorder, especially if any such occasion were given, where truth and equity required his defence against injury and oppression: for example whereof we have another letter of his written to a certain justice of the peace in Warwickshire, who, as he is long since departed, so he shall be here unnamed. The letter, although it may seem somewhat long and tedious, yet I thought here not to overpass the same for divers and sundry respects: first that the virtue and faithful conscience of this good pastor may appear more at large; also for that all other bishops and pastors by this example may learn with like zeal and stomach to discharge their duty and conscience in reforming things amiss, and in powdering with the salt of God's word the sores of the people. Which thing if every bishop for his part within his diocese had done in King Edward's days, in redressing such corruption of that time with like diligence as this man did, verily I suppose that the persecution of Queen Mary had not so plagued the realm as it did: but where never a man almost liveth in due order, and yet never a bishop will stir to seek redress, what can become of the realm? Item, another respect is, because of the justices and all other placed in room and office, which may take heed thereby, not to abuse their authority to tread down truth, and bear down poor men with open wrong, through extortion or partiality. And finally, that all injurious oppressors whatsoever, by the said letter may take some fruit of wholesome admonition. What the argument and occasion was of this letter, I showed before. The tenor and purport thereof, as it was written to the gentleman, is this as followeth.

            "Right worshipful, salutem in Domino. And now, sir, I understand, that you be in great admirations at me, and take very grievously my manner of writing to you, adding thereunto that 'you will not bear it at my hand, no, not if I were the best bishop in England,' &c.

            "Ah sir! I see well I may say as the common saying is, 'Well, I have fished and caught a frog:' brought little to pass with much ado. 'You will not bear it with me,' you say. Why, sir? what will ye do with me? You will not fight with me, I trow. It might seem unseemly for a justice of peace to be a breaker of peace: I am glad the doting time of my foolish youth is gone and past. What will you then do with me, in that you say you will not bear it at my hand? What hath my hand offended you? Perchance you will convent me before some judge, and call me into some court. God turn it to good. I refuse no judgment. Let us accuse one another, that one of us may amend another, in the name of the Lord. Let justice proceed in judgment: and then and there, do best, have best, for club halfpenny. Or peradventure ye will set pen to paper, and all to rattle me in a letter, wherein, confuting me, you will defend, yourself and your brother against me. Now that would I see, quoth long Robin, ut dicitur vulgariter. I cannot choose but must allow such diligence: for so should both your integrities and innocencies best appear, if you be able to defend both your own proceedings, and your brother's doings, in this matter to be upright. And then will I gladly give place, confessing my fault humbly, as one conquered with just reasons. But I think it will not be.

            "But now first of all let me know what it is that ye will not bear at my hand? What have I done with my hand? What hath my hand trespassed you? Forsooth, that can I tell; no man better: for I have charitably monished you in a secret letter, of your slipper-dealing, and such-like misbehaviour. What a sore matter is this! And will ye not bear so much with me? Will ye not take such a show of my good-will towards you, and toward the saving of your soul at my hand? O Lord God, who would have thought that Master N. had been so impudent, that he would not bear a godly monition for the wealth of his soul? I have in use to commit such trespass many times in a year with your betters by two or three degrees, both lords and ladies, and the best of the realm, and yet hitherto I have not heard that any of them have said in their displeasure, that they will not bear it at my hand. Are you yet to be taught what is the office, liberty, and privilege of a preacher? What is it else, but even to rebuke the world of sin, without respect of persons. Which thing undoubtedly is the peculiar office of the Holy Ghost in the church of God, so that it be practised by lawful preachers. You could but ill bear (belike) to hear your fault openly reproved in the pulpit, which cannot bear the same in a secret sealed-up letter, written both friendly, charitably, and truly: unless perhaps to rebuke sin sharply, be now to lack all charity, friendship, and truth. But, Master N., if you will give me leave to be plain with you, I fear me you be so plunged in worldly purchasings, and so drowned in the manifold dregs of this deceivable world, that I ween you have forgotten your catechism. Read therefore again the opening of the first commandment, and then tell me whether you of me, or I of you, have just cause to complain, &c.

            "Item, sir, you said further, 'that I am wonderfully abused by my neighbour,' &c. How so, good Master N.? Wherein? or how will you prove it to be true, and when? So you said, that he had abused you, and given you wrong information; but the contrary is found true by good testimony of Master Chamber, which heard as well as you what my neighbour said, and hath testified the same, both to you, and against you, full like himself. Master N., to forge and feign, (which argueth an ill cause,) that is one thing; but to prove what a man doth say, that is another thing: as though you were privileged to out-face poor men, and bear them in hand what you list, as may seem to make some maintenance for your naughty cause. Trust me, Master N., I was but a very little acquainted with my neighbour when this matter began; but now I have found him so conformable to honesty, upright in his dealings, and so true in his talk, that I esteem him better than I do some others whom I have perceived and found otherways. For I will flatter no man, nor yet claw his back in his folly, but esteem all men as I find them, allowing what is good, and disallowing what is bad: among all men, either friends or enemies, according to Paul's precept, not esteemed of the children of this world, Hate you, saith he, that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good. And let us not any time, for the favour of men, call good evil, and evil good, as the children of this world are commonly wont to do, as it is every where to be seen. And now what manner of man do you make me, Master N., when you note me to be so much abused by so ignorant a man, so simple, so plain, and so far without all wrinkles? Have I lived so long in this tottering world, and have I been so many ways turmoiled and tossed up and down, and so much as it were seasoned with the powder of so many experiences to and fro, to be now so far bewitched and alienated from my wits, as though I could not discern cheese from chalk, truth from falsehood; but that every silly soul, and base-witted man, might easily abuse me to what enterprise he listed at his pleasure? Well, I say not nay, but I may be abused. But why do you not tell me how your brother abused me, promising before me and many more, that he would stand to your awardship, and now doth deny it? Why do you not tell me, how those two false, faithless wretches abuse me, promising also to abide your award, and do it not? Yea, why do you not tell me, how you yourself have abused me, promising me to redress the injury and wrong that your brother hath done to my neighbour, and have not fulfilled your promise? These notable abuses be nothing with you, but only you must needs burden me with my neighbour's abusing me, which is none at all, as far forth as ever I could perceive, so God help me at my need! For if he had abused me as you and others have done, I should be soon at a point with him, for any thing further doing for him, &c.

            "Item, sir, you said further, that I shall never be able to prove that either your brother, or the two tenants, agreed to stand to your award, &c. No, sir, Master N., you say belike as you would have it to be, or as your brother with his adherents have persuaded you to think it to be, so inducing you to do their request to your own shame and rebuke, if you persevere in the same, beside the peril of your soul, for consenting, at least-way to the maintenance by falsehood of your brother's iniquity. For in that you would your awardship should take none effect, you show yourself nothing inclinable to the redress of your brother's unright dealing with an honest poor man, which hath been ready at your request to do you pleasure with his things, or else he had never come into this wrangle for his own goods with your brother.

            "Ah, Master N.! what manner of man do you show yourself to be? or what manner of conscience do you show yourself to have? For first, as touching your brother, you know right well that Sir Thomas Coking, with a letter of his own handwriting, hath witnessed unto your brother's agreement; which letter he sent to me unsealed, and I showed the same to my neighbour, and others more ere I sealed it, and perchance have a copy of the same yet to show. With what conscience then can you say that I shall never be able to prove it? Shall not three men upon their oaths make a sufficient proof, trow you? the Lord himself saying, In the mouth of two or three, &c. Yea, you think it true, I dare say, in your conscience, if you have any conscience, though I were in my grave, and so unable to prove any thing. And as for the two tenants, they be as they be, and I trust to see them handled according as they be; for there be three men yet alive that dare swear upon a book, that they both did agree. But what should we look for at such men's hands, when you yourself play the part you do? But God is yet alive, which seeth all, and judgeth justly.

            "Item, sir, you said yet further, that the justices of peace in the country think you very unnatural, in taking part with me before your brother, &c. Ah, Master N., what a sentence is this to come out of your mouth! For partaking is one thing, and ministering of justice is another thing; and a worthy minister of justice will be no partaker, but one indifferent between party and party. And did I require you to take my part, I pray you? No, I required you to minister justice between your brother and my neighbour, without any partaking with either other. But what manner of justices be they, I pray you, which would so fain have you to take part naturally with your brother, when you ought and should reform and amend your brother? as you yourself know, no man better. What! justices? No, jugglers you might more worthily call such as they be, than justices. Be those justices which call you unnatural, for that you will not take your brother's part against all right and conscience, whom you have picked out and appointed to have the final bearing and determining of my neighbour's cause, after your substantial and final award-making? Verily I think no less. Forsooth he is much beholden to you, and I also for his sake. Is that the wholesome counsel that you have to give your poor neighbours in their need? Indeed you show yourself a worthy juggler, oh! I would have said a justiciar, among other of your juggling and partaking justices. O good God! what is in the world? Marry, sir, my neighbour had spun a fair thread, if your partaking justices, through your good counsel, had had his matter in ordering and finishing. I pray God save me and all my friends, with all God's flock, from the whole fellowship of your so natural and partaking justices. Amen.

            "Lord God! who would have thought that there had been so many partaking justices, that is to say, unjust justices, in Warwickshire, if Master N. himself, one of the same order, (but altogether out of order,) and therefore knoweth it best, had not told us the tale? But these call you, you say, very unnatural, &c. And why not rather, I pray you, too much natural. For we read of a double nature, sound, and corrupt. That was full of justice: this, unless it be restored, abideth always unjust, bringing forth the fruits of wickedness one after another: so that he that will not help his brother, having a just cause, in his need, may be justly called unnatural, as not doing according to the instinct of nature, either as it was at the beginning, or as it was restored. But he that will take his brother's part against right, as to ratify his brother's wrong deceiving, he is too much natural; as one following the disposition and inclination of corrupt nature against the will of God; and so to be natural may seem to be cater-cousin, or cousin-germain with, to be diabolical.

            "I fear me we have too many justices that be too much natural, to their own perishment both body and soul. For worthy justices having ever the fear and dread of God before their eyes, (of which sort we have a fewer amongst us, than I would,) will have no respect at all in their judgments and proceedings to vicinity of blood; but altogether ad dignitatem et æquitatem causæ, ut quod justum est semper judicent intuitu Dei, non quod injustum est intuitu hominum; of which number I pray God make you one. Amen. He is just, saith St. John, that doth justice. But he that sinneth (as they all do, which do unjustly for favour and pleasure of men) is of the devil, saith he; of which sort all our partaking and natural justices be with all their partiality and naturality. Quare dignum et justum est, that as many as be such justices, be justly deprived of their offices, and further also be punished, according to the quantity or quality of their crime; so that by that means they may be cut off, as men born and bred to the hurt and detriment of the commonwealth, which trouble us, when they ought to help us. Amen.

            Quare seponite justitiam, et sequimini naturam, as your naturals and diabolicals would have you to do, that is, even as just as Germain's lips, which came not together by nine miles, ut vulgo dicunt, &c.

            "Item, sir, finally and last of all you added these words following: 'Well,' quoth you, 'let Master Latimer take heed how he meddleth with my brother, for he is like to find as crabbed and as froward a piece of him, as ever he found in his life,' &c. Ah, sir! and is your brother such a one as you speak of indeed? Merciful God! what a commendation is this for one brother to give another! Is this your glorying, my friend? And were it not possible, trow you, to make him better? It is written, 'Vexation giveth understandeth.' And again, 'It is good, O Lord, that thou hast humbled me.' At least-way, I may pray to God for him as David did for such like, after this sort: Bind fast asses with bridle and snaffle, that they approach not near unto thee. In the mean season, I would I had never known either of you both; for so should I have been without this inward sorrow of my heart, to see such untowardliness of you both to godliness, for I cannot be but heavy-hearted, to see such men so wickedly minded.

            Well, let us ponder a little better your words, where you say, 'I shall find him as crabbed and as froward a piece,' &c. Mark well your own words. For by the tenor of the same it plainly appeareth, that you confess your brother's cause, wherein he so stiffly standeth, to be unjust and very naught. For he that standeth so stiffly in a good quarrel and a just cause, as many good men have done, is called a fast man, a constant, a trusty man. But he that is so obstinate and untractable in wickedness and wrong doing, is commonly called a crabbed and froward piece, as you name your brother to be. Wherefore, knowing so well your brother's cause to be so naughty, why have you not endeavoured yourself, as a worthy justice, to reform him accordingly, as I required you, and you promised me to do, now almost twelve months ago, if not altogether? Summa summarum, Master N., if you will not come off shortly, and apply yourself thereunto more effectually hereafter, than you have heretofore, be you well assured thereof, I shall detect you to all the friends that I have in England, both high and low, as well his crabbedness and frowardness, as your colourable supportation of the same; that I trust I shall be able thereby either to bring you both to some goodness, or at least-way I shall so warn my friends and all honest hearts to beware of your illness, that they shall take either no hurt at all, or at least-way less harm by you through mine advertisement; in that, knowing you perfectly, they may the better avoid and shun your company.

            "You shall not stay me, Master N., no, though you would give me all the lands and goods you have, as rich as you are noted to be. I will not forsake such a just cause, neither will I communicate with other men's sins. For whether it be by detestable pride, whether by abominable avarice, or by both two linked together, it is no small iniquity to keep any poor man so long from his right and duty so stiff-neckedly and obstinately, or, whether ye will, crabbedly and frowardly. And what is it then any manner of ways to consent to the same? You know, I trow, Master N., what theft is; that is, to take or detain by any manner of way another man's good against his will that is the owner, as some define it. If he be a thief that so doth openly, what shall he be that approveth him which is the doer, defendeth, maintaineth, and supporteth him by any manner of colour? Consider with yourself, good Master N., what it is to oppress, and to defraud your brother in his business; and what followeth thereof. It is truly said, The sin is not forgiven, except the thing be restored again that is taken away. No restitution, no salvation; which is as well to be understood of things gotten by fraud, guile, and deceit, as of things gotten by open theft and robbery. Wherefore let not your brother, Master N., by cavillation, continue in the devil's possession. I will do the best I can, and wrestle with the devil, omnibus viribus, to deliver you both from him. I will leave no one stone unmoved to have both you and your brother saved. There is neither archbishop nor bishop, nor yet any learned man neither in universities or elsewhere, that I am acquainted withal, that shall not write unto you, and in their writing by their learning confute you. There is no godly man of law in this realm that I am acquainted withal, but they shall write unto you, and confute you by the law. There is neither lord nor lady, nor yet any noble personage in this realm, that I am acquainted withal, but they shall write unto you, and godly threaten you with their authority.

            "I will do all this; yea, and kneel upon both my knees before the king's Majesty, and all his honourable council, with most humble petition for your reformation, rather than the devil shall possess you still, to your final damnation. So that I do not despair, but verily trust, one way or other, to pluck both you and also your crabbed brother (as crabbed as you say he is) out of the devil's claws, maugre the devil's heart.

            "These premises well considered, look upon it, good Master N., that we have no further ado: God's plague is presently upon us; therefore let us now diligently look about us, and in no wise defend, but willingly acknowledge and amend whatsoever hath been amiss. These were the capital points of your talk, as I was informed, after you had perused that my nipping and unpleasant letter; and I thought good to make you some answer to them, if perchance I might so move you, the rather to call yourself to some better remembrance, and so more earnestly apply yourself to accomplish and perform what you have begun and promised to do, namely, the thing itself being of such sort as apparently tendeth both to your worship, and also to God's high pleasure.

            "Thus, lo, with a mad head, but yet a good will, after long scribbling I wot not well what, (but I know you can read it and comprehend it well enough,) I bid you most heartily well to fare in the Lord, with good health, and long life to God's pleasure. Amen.--From Baxterley, the 15th of June.
            "Yours to do you good, to his power.
            HUGH LATIMER."

            During the time that the said Master Latimer was prisoner in Oxford, we read not of much that he did write, besides his conference with Dr. Ridley, and his protestation at the time of his disputation. Otherwise of letters we find very few or none that he did write to his friends abroad, save only these few lines, which he wrote to one Mrs. Wilkinson of London, a godly matron, and an exile afterward for the gospel's sake who, so long as she remained in England, was a singular patroness to the good saints of God, and learned bishops, as to Master Hooper, to the bishop of Hereford, to Master Coverdale, Master Latimer, Doctor Cranmer, with many others. The copy ænd effect of which his letter to Mrs. Wilkinson here followeth.

            "If the gift of a pot of cold water shall not be in oblivion with God, how can God forget your manifold and bountiful gifts, when he shall say to you, I was in prison, and you visited me? God grant us all to do and suffer, while we be here, as may be to his will and pleasure. Amen.
            "Yours, in Bocardo.
            HUGE LATIMER."

 

Illustration -- Latimer Presenting the New Testament to King Henry VIII.

            Touching the memorable acts and doings of this worthy man, among many others- this is not to be neglected, what a bold enterprise he attempted, in sending to King Henry a present, the manner whereof is this. There was then, and remaineth still, an ancient custom received from the old Romans, that upon New-year's day, being the first day of January, every bishop with some handsome New-year's gift should gratify the king; and so they did, some with gold, some with silver, some with a purse full of money, and some one thing, some another. But Master Latimer, being bishop of Worcester then, among the rest, presented a New Testament for his New-year's gift, with a napkin having this posy about it, Fornicatores et adulteros judicabit Dominus.

 

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