81. JOHN WICKLIFF (CONTD.)
And thus far concerning Nicholas Herford, and the other aforesaid. But all this mean while what became of John Wickliff is not certainly known; albeit, so far as may be gathered out of Walden, it appeareth that he was banished and driven to exile. In the mean time it is not to be doubted, but he was alive during all this while, wheresoever he was, as by his letter may appear, which he about this time wrote to Pope Urban the Sixth. In the which letter he doth purge himself, that being commanded to appear before the pope at Rome, he came not; declaring also in the same a brief confession of his faith: the copy of which epistle here followeth, A. D. 1382.
"Verily I do rejoice to open and declare unto every man the faith which I do hold; and especially unto the bishop of Rome; the which, forasmuch as I do suppose to be sound and true, he will most willingly confirm my said faith, or, if it be erroneous, amend the same.
"First, I suppose that the gospel of Christ is the whole body of God's law; and that Christ, which did give that same law himself, I believe to be very God and very man, and in that point to exceed the law of the gospel, and all other parts of the Scripture. Again, I do give and hold the bishop of Rome, forasmuch as he is the vicar of Christ here in earth, to be bound most of all other men unto that law of the gospel. For the greatness amongst Christ's disciples did not consist in worldly dignity or honours, but in the near and exact following of Christ in his life and manners: whereupon I do gather out of the heart of the law of the Lord, that Christ for the time of his pilgrimage here was a most poor man, abjecting and casting off all worldly rule and honour, as appeareth by the Gospel of St. Matthew, the 8th chapter, and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, the 8th chapter.
"Hereby I do fully gather, that no faithful man ought to follow, either the pope himself, or any of the holy men, but in such points as he hath followed the Lord Jesus Christ. For Peter and the sons of Zebedee, by desiring worldly honour contrary to the following of Christ's steps, did offend, and therefore in those errors they are not to be followed.
"Hereof I do gather, as a counsel, that the pope ought to leave unto the secular power all temporal dominion and rule, and thereunto effectually to move and exhort his whole clergy; for so did Christ, and especially by his apostles. Wherefore, if I have erred in any of these points, I will most humbly submit myself unto correction, even by death, if necessity so require; and if I could labour according to my will or desire in mine own person, I would surely present myself before the bishop of Rome; but the Lord hath otherwise visited me to the contrary, and hath taught me rather to obey God than men. Forasmuch then as God hath given unto our pope just and true evangelical instincts, we ought to pray that those instincts be not extinguished by any subtle or crafty device. And that the pope and cardinals be not moved to do any thing contrary unto the law of the Lord.
"Wherefore let us pray unto our God, that he will so stir up our Pope Urban the Sixth, as he began, thathe with his clergy may follow the Lord Jesus Christ in life and manners; and that they may teach the people effectually, and that they, likewise, may faithfully follow them in the same. And let us specially pray, that our pope may be preserved from all malign and evil counsel, which we do know that evil and envious men of his household would give him. And seeing the Lord will not suffer us to he tempted above our power, much less then will he require of any creature to do that thing which it is not able; forasmuch as that is the plain condition and manner of antichrist."hus much wrote John Wickliff unto Pope Urban. But this Pope Urban, otherwise termed Turbanus, was so hot in his wars against Clement, the French pope, his adversary, that he had no leisure, and less list, to attend unto Wickliff's matters. By the occasion of which schism, God so provided for poor Wickliff, that he was in some more rest and quietness. Concerning which schismatical wars of these popes, forasmuch as we have here entered into the mention thereof, it shall not be impertinent from the order of our story, digressing a little from the matter of John Wickliff, to touch something of the tragical doings of these two holy popes, striving for the triple crown; to the intent that the Christian reader, judging by their fruits and proceedings, may see and understand what difference is between these popes, and Christ and his apostles. For though in the story of the gospel it is read, that certain of the disciples did strive which should be the greater, yet neither do we read that one of them took ever weapon against the other; and moreover, in the said story of the gospel it doth appear, that they, for so striving as they did, were therefore sharply rebuked of our Saviour Christ, and were taught by him another lesson.
About the beginning of the next year following, which was A. D. 1383, Pope Urban setting all his study how to repress and conquer the contrary pope, his adversary, being then at Avignon, seeing all his other means to fail, and that his cross keys could do no good, took to him the sword of Romulus, and set upon him with open war. And first devising with himself whom he might best choose for his chief champion, he thought none meeter for such affairs than Henry Spencer, being then bishop of Norwich, a young and stout prelate, more fitting for the camping cure, than for the peaceable church of Christ, as partly also might appear before by his acts done at Lennam, in striving for the mayor's mace, mentioned before. Unto this bishop of Norwich the pope had sent his bulls about this time, to croisy whomsoever would go with him into France, to destroy the antipope, which named himself Clement, and to make war against all those that took his part. Which bulls, for that they gave unto him such great authority, he caused to be published in the parliament house, and caused the copies of the same to be sent all about, and to be set up and fastened upon all the church doors and monastery gates, that all men might read them. In the which bulls many privileges were granted.
This courageous or rather outrageous bishop, armed thus with the pope's authority, and prompt with his privileges, in the year aforesaid, 1383, about the time of Lent, came to the parliament; where great consultation and contention, and almost no less schism, was about the voyage of this popish bishop in the parliament, than was between the popes themselves. In the which parliament many there were, which thought it not safe to commit the king's people and subjects unto a rude and unskilful priest. So great was the diversity of judgments in that behalf, that the voyage of the said bishop was protracted unto the Saturday before Passion Sunday. In the which Sunday was sung the solemn anthem, Behold the cross of the Lord, fly away, all you adversaries. After which Sunday the parties so agreed amongst themselves by common decree, that the bishop should set forth in his voyage, having given to him the fifteenth, which was granted to the king in the parliament before. Which things thus concluded in the parliament, this warlike bishop, preparing before all things in readiness, set forward in his pope-holy journey. Who about the month of May, being come to Canterbury, and there tarrying for a wind in the monastery of St. Augustine, received a writ from the king that he should return to him, to know further of his pleasure. The bishop fearing that, if he turned again to the king, his journey should be staid, and so all his labour and preparation lost with great derision and shame unto him, thought better to commit himself to fortune with that little army he had, than, by tarrying, to be made a laughing-stock to his adversaries. Wherefore he sent word back again to the king, that he was now ready prepared, and well forward on his journey; and that it was not expedient now to protract the time for any kind of talk, which, peradventure, should be to no manner of purpose; and that it was more convenient for him to hasten in his journey to God's glory, and also to the honour of the king. And thus he, calling his men unto him, entered forthwith the seas, and went to Calais; where he waiting a few days for the rest of his army, after the receipt of them, took his journey first to the town of Gravelines; which he besieged so desperately, without any preparation of engines of war, or counsel, or of politic men skilful in such affairs, that he seemed rather to fly upon them, than to invade them. At length, through the superstition of our men, trusting upon the pope's absolution, he so harshly approached the walls and invaded the enemies, that a great number of them were piteously slain with shot and wildfire; till at the end (the inhabiters being oppressed and vanquished) our men entered the town with their bishop, where they, at his commandment, destroying both man, woman, and child, left not one alive of all them which remained in the whole town. And so it came to pass by the virtue of the cross, that the enemies of the cross were so utterly destroyed that not one of them remained alive.
From Gravelines this warlike bishop set forward to Dunkirk, where not long after the Frenchmen meeting with him, joined with them in battle; in which battle, if the story be true, twelve thousand of the Frenchmen were slain in the chase, and of our men but seven only missing. It would require a long tractation here to discourse all things done in these popish wars; also it would be no less ridiculous to view and behold the glorious temerity of this new upstart captain. But certes, lamentable it is to see the pitiful slaughter and murder of Christ's people by the means of these pitiless popes, during these wars in France; as when the bishop coming from Dunkirk to the siege of Ypres, a great number of Englishmen there were lost, and much money consumed, and yet nothing done effectually, to the great shame and ignorance of the bishop. Again, after the siege of Ypres, thus with shame broke up, the same bishop proceeding with a small power to fight with the French king's camp, contrary to the counsel of his captains, which counted him rash and unskilful in his attempt, was fain to break company with them; whereby part of the army went unto Burburgh, and the bishop with his part returned to Gravelines; which both towns shortly after were besieged by the French army, to the great loss both of the English and French men. In fine, when the bishop could keep Gravelines no longer, the said bishop with his croysies, crossing the seas, came home again as wise as he went. And thus, making an end of this pontifical war, we will return again from whence we digressed, to the story and matter of John Wickliff.
Which John Wickliff returning again within short space, either from his banishment, or from some other place where he was secretly kept, repaired to his parish of Lutterworth, where he was parson; and there, quietly departing this mortal life, slept in peace in the Lord, in the beginning of the year 1384, upon Silvester's day.
Here is to be noted the great providence of the Lord in this man, as in divers other, whom the Lord so long preserved in such rages of so many enemies from all their hands, even to his old age. For so it appeareth by Thomas Walden, writing against him in his tomes entitled, De Sacramentis contra Wiclevium, that he was well aged before he departed; by that which the aforesaid Walden writeth of him in his epilogue, speaking of Wickliff in these words; "so that the same thing pleased him in his old age, which did please him being young." Whereby it seemeth that Wickliff lived till he was an old man, by this report. Such a Lord is God, that whom he will have kept, nothing can hurt.
This Wickliff had written divers and sundry works, the which, in the year of our Lord 1410, were burnt at Oxford, the abbot of Shrewsbury being then commissary, and sent to oversee that matter. And not only in England, but in Bohemia likewise, the books of the said Wickliff were set on fire, by one Subincus, archbishop of Prague, who made diligent inquisition for the same, and burned them; the number of the volumes, which he is said to have burned, most excellently written, and richly adorned with bosses of gold, and rich coverings, (as Æneas Silvius writeth,) were about the number of two hundred.
Johannes Cocleus, in his book De historia Hussitarum, speaking of the books of Wickliff, testifieth, that he wrote very many books, sermons, and tractations. Moreover, the said Cocleus, speaking of himself, recordeth also, that there was a certain bishop in England which wrote unto him, declaring that he had yet remaining in his custody two huge and mighty volumes of John Wickliff's works, which for the quantity thereof might seem to be equal with the works of St. Augustine.
Among other of his treatises I myself also have found out certain, as De sensu et veritate Scripturæ; item, De Ecclesia; item, De Eucharistia confessio Wicklevi; which I intend hereafter, the Lord so granting, to publish abroad.
By his words of this blessed man, whom the whole church doth reverence and worship, it doth appear that the pope hath not power to occupy the church goods, as lord thereof; but as minister, and servant, and proctor for the poor. And would to God that the same proud and greedy desire of rule and lordship, which this seat doth challenge unto it, were not a preamble to prepare a way unto anti-christ; for it is evident by the gospel, that Christ through his poverty, humility, and suffering of injury, got unto him the children of his kingdom.
And moreover, so far as I remember, the same blessed man, Bernard, in his third book writeth also thus unto Eugenius; "I fear no other greater poison to happen unto thee, than greedy desire of rule and dominion."
This Wickliff, albeit in his lifetime he had many grievous enemies, yet was there none so cruel unto him as the clergy itself. Yet, notwithstanding, he had many good friends, men not only of the base and meanest sort, but also of the nobility, amongst whom these men are to be numbered, John Clenbon, Lewis Clifford, Richard Stury, Thomas Latimer, William Nevil, John Montague, who plucked down all the images in his church. Besides all these, there was the earl of Salisbury; who, for contempt in him noted towards the sacrament in carrying it home to his house, was enjoined by Ralph Ergom, bishop of Salisbury, to make in Salisbury a cross of stone, in which all the story of the matter should be written, and he every Friday during his life to come to the cross barefoot and bareheaded in his shirt, and there kneeling upon his knees to do penance for his fact.
The Londoners at this time, somewhat boldly, trusting to the mayor's authority, who for that year was John of Northampton, took upon them the office of the bishops, in punishing the vices, belonging to civil law, of such persons as they had found and apprehended in committing both fornication and adultery. For first, they put the women in the prison, which, amongst them, was then named Dolium; and lastly, bringing them into the marketplace, where every man might behold them, and cutting off their golden locks from their heads, they caused them to be carried about the streets, with bagpipes and trumpets blown before them, to the intent they should be the better known, and their companies avoided; according to the manner then of certain thieves that were named appellatores, accusers or appeachers of others that were guiltless, which were so served. And with other suchlike opprobrious and reproachful contumelies, did they serve the men also that were taken with them, in committing the forenamed wickedness and vices. Here the story recordeth how the said Londoners were encouraged hereunto by John Wickliff, and others that followed his doctrine, to perpetrate this act, in the reproach of the prelates being of the clergy; for they said, that they did not only abhor to see the great negligence of those to whom that charge belonged, but also their filthy avarice they did as much detest; which for greediness of money were choked with bribes, and, winking at the penalties due to such persons by the laws appointed, suffered such fornicators and incestuous persons favourably to continue in their wickedness. They said furthermore, that they greatly feared, lest for such wickedness perpetrated within the city, and so apparently dissimulated, that God would take vengeance upon them and destroy their city. Wherefore they said, that they could do no less than purge the same; lest by the sufferance thereof God would bring a plague upon them, or destroy them with the sword, or cause the earth to swallow up both them and their city.
This story, gentle reader, albeit the author thereof, whom I follow, doth give it out in reproachful wise, to the great discommendation of the Londoners for so doing, yet I thought not to omit, but to commit the same to memory, which seemeth to me rather to tend unto the worthy commendation both of the Londoners that so did, and to the necessary example of all other cities to follow the same. After these things thus declared, let us now adjoin the testimonial of the university of Oxford of John Wickliff.
The public testimony given out by the university of Oxford, touching the commendation of the great learning and good life of John Wickliff.
"Unto all and singular the children of our holy mother the church, to whom this present letter shall come, the vice-chancellor of the university of Oxford, with the whole congregation of the masters, with perpetual health in the Lord. Forasmuch as it is not commonly seen, that the acts and monuments of valiant men, nor the praise and merits of good men, should be passed over and hidden with perpetual silence, but that true report and fame should continually spread abroad the same in strange and far distant places, both for the witness of the same, and example of others; forasmuch also as the provident discretion of man's nature, being recompensed with cruelty, hath devised and ordained this buckler and defence against such as do blaspheme and slander other men's doings, that whensoever witness by word of mouth cannot be present, the pen by writing may supply the same.
"Hereupon it followeth, that the special good will and care which we bear unto John Wickliff, sometime child of this our university, and professor of divinity, moving and stirring our minds, as his manners and conditions required no less, with one mind, voice, and testimony, we do witness, all his conditions and doings throughout his whole life to have been most sincere and commendable; whose honest manners and conditions, profoundness oflearning, and most redolent renown and fame, we desire the more earnestly to be notified and known unto all faithful, for that we understand the maturity and ripeness of his conversation, his diligent labours and travails, to tend to the praise of God, the help and safeguard of others, and the profit of the church.
"Wherefore we signify unto you by these presents, that his conversation, even from his youth upward, unto the time of his death, was so praiseworthy and honest, that never at any time was there any note or spot of suspicion noised of him. But in his answering, reading, preaching, and determining, he behaved himself laudably, and as a stout and valiant champion of the faith, vanquishing, by the force of the Scriptures, all such who by their wilful beggary blasphemed and slandered Christ's religion. Neither was this doctor convicted of any heresy, either burned of our prelates after his burial. God forbid that our prelates should have condemned a man of such honesty for a heretic; who, amongst all the rest of the university, had written in logic, philosophy, divinity, morality, and the speculative arts, without peer. The knowledge of which all and singular things, we do desire to testify and deliver forth; to the intent that the fame and renown of this said doctor may be the more evident and had in reputation, amongst them unto whose hands these present letters testimonial shall come.
"In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters testimonial to be sealed with our common seal. Dated at Oxford, in our congregation-house, the first day of October, in the year of our Lord 1406."
Now as we have declared the testimony of the university of Oxford, concerning the praise of John Wickliff, it followeth likewise that we set forth and express the contrary censures and judgments of his enemies, blinded with malicious hatred and corrupt affections against him, especially of the pope's council gathered at Constance, proceeding first in condemning his books, then of his articles, and afterward burning of his bones. The copy of which their sentence given against him by that council here followeth.
The sentence given by the Council of Constance, in condemning the doctrine and five and forty articles of John Wickliff.
"The most holy and sacred Council of Constance, making and representing the catholic church, for the extirpation of this present schism, and of all other errors and heresies, springing and growing under the shadow and pretence of the same, and for the reformation and amendment of the church, being lawfully congregate and gathered together in the Holy Ghost, for the perpetual memory of the time to come.
"We are taught by the acts and histories of the holy fathers, that the catholic faith, without the which, as the holy apostle St. Paul saith, it is impossible to please God, hath been always defended by the faithful and spiritual soldiers of the church, by the shield of faith, against the false worshippers of the same faith, or rather perverse impugners; which, through their proud curiosity, will seem to know more and to be wiser than they ought to be, and for the desire of the glory of the world have gone about ofttimes to overthrow the same. These kinds of wars and battles have been prefigured to us before, in those carnal wars of the Israelites against the idolatrous people. For in those spiritual wars the holy catholic church, through the virtue and power of faith, being illustrate with the beams of the heavenly light, by the providence of God, and being holpen by the help and defence of the saints and holy men, hath always continued immaculate, and the darkness of errors, as her most cruel enemies, being put to flight she hath most gloriously triumphed over all. But in these our days, the old and unclean enemy hath raised up new contentions and strifes, that the elect of this world might be known, whose prince and captain in time past was one John Wickliff, a false Christian; who, during his lifetime, taught and sowed very obstinately many articles contrary and against the Christian religion, and the catholic faith. And the same John Wickliff wrote certain books which he called a Dialogue, and a Trialogue, besides many other treatises and works, the which he both wrote and taught, in the which he wrote the aforesaid and many other damnable and execrable articles; the which his books, for the publication and advancement of his perverse doctrine, he did set forth openly for every man to read. Whereby, beside many offences, great hurt and damage of soul hath ensued in divers regions and countries, but specially in the kingdom of England and Bohemia. Against whom the masters and doctors of the universities of Oxford and Prague, rising up in truth and verity of God, according to the order of schools, within a while after, did reprove and condemn the said articles.
"Moreover, the most reverend fathers the archbishops and bishops, for that time present, of Canterbury, York, and Prague, legates of the apostolic see, in the kingdom of England and Bohemia, did condemn the books of the said Wickliff to be burned. And the said archbishop of Prague, commissary of the apostolic see, did likewise in this behalf determine and judge. And, moreover, he did forbid thatany of those books, which did remain unburned, should be hereafter any more read. And again, these things being brought to the knowledge and understanding of the apostolic see, and in the general council, the bishop of Rome in his last council condemned the said books, treatises, and volumes, commanding them to be openly burned; most straitly forbidding that any men, which should bear the name of Christ, should be so hardy either to keep, read, or expound any of the said books or treatises, volumes or works, or by any means to use or occupy them, or else to allege them openly or privily, but to their reproof and infamy. And to the intent that this most dangerous and filthy doctrine should be utterly wiped away out of the church, he gave commandment throughout all places, that the ordinaries should diligently inquire and seek out, by the apostolic authority and ecclesiastical censure, for all such books, treatises, volumes, and works; and the same so being found, to burn and consume them with fire; providing withal, that if there be any such found, which will not obey the same, process to be made against them, as against the favourers and maintainers of heresies. And this most holy synod hath caused the said forty-five articles to be examined and oftentimes perused, by many most reverend fathers of the Church of Rome, cardinals, bishops, abbots, masters of divinity, and doctors of both laws, besides a great number of other learned men; the which articles being so examined, it was found as in truth it was no less that many, yea, and a great number of them, be notoriously for heretical reproved and condemned by the holy fathers; other some not to be catholic, but erroneous; some full of offence and blasphemy; certain of them offensive unto godly ears, and many of them to be rashful and seditious. It is found, also, that his books do contain many articles of like effect and quality, and that they do induce and bring into the church unsound and unwholesome doctrine, contrary unto the faith and ordinance of the church. Wherefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, this sacred synod, ratifying and approving the sentences and judgments of the archbishops and council of Rome, do by this their decree and ordinance perpetually for evermore condemn and reprove the said articles, and every one of them, his books which he entitled his Dialogue and Trialogue, and all other books of the same author, volumes, treatises, and works, by what name soever they be entitled or called, the which we will here to be sufficiently expressed and named. Also we forbid the reading, learning, exposition, or alleging of any of the said books unto all faithful Christians, but so far forth as shall tend to the reproof of the same; forbidding all and singular catholic persons, under the pain of curse, that from henceforth they be not so hardy openly to preach, teach, or hold, or by any means to allege the said articles, or any of them, except (as is aforesaid) that it do tend unto the reproof of them; commanding all those books, treatises, works, and volumes aforesaid, to be openly burned, as it was decreed in the synod at Rome, as is afore expressed. For the execution whereof duly to be observed and done, the said sacred synod doth straitly charge and command the ordinaries of the place diligently to attend and look unto the matter, according as it appertaineth unto every man's duty by the canonical laws and ordinances."
What these articles were, here condemned by the council, collected out of all his works, and exhibited to that said council, to the number of forty-five, the copy of them following underwritten declareth.
Certain other articles gathered out of Wickliff's books by his adversaries, to the number of forty-five, exhibited up to the council of Constance after his death, and in the same council condemned.
Besides the twenty-four articles above mentioned, there were others also gathered out of his books, to the number of forty-five in all, which his malicious adversaries, perversely collecting, and maliciously expounding, did exhibit up to the Council of Constance; all which to repeat, though it be not here needful, yet to recite certain of them as they stand in that council, it shall not be superfluous.
25. All such as be hired for temporal living to pray for other, offend, and sin of simony.
26. The prayer of the reprobate prevaileth for no man.
27. Hallowing of churches, confirmation of children, the sacrament of orders, be reserved to the pope and bishops only, for the respect of temporal lucre.
28. Graduations and doctorships in universities and colleges, as they be used, conduce nothing to the church.
29. The excommunication of the pope and his prelates is not to be feared, because it is the censure of antichrist.
30. Such as found and build monasteries do offend and sin; and all such as enter into the same be members of the devil.
31. To enrich the clergy is against the rule of Christ.
32. Silvester the pope, and Constantine the emperor, were deceived in giving and taking possessions into the church.
33. A deacon or a priest may preach the word of God without the authority of the apostolical see.
34. Such as enter into orders, or religion monastical, are thereby unable to keep God's commandments, and also to attain to the kingdom of heaven, except they return from the same.
35. The pope, with all his clergy, having those great possessions as they have, be heretics in so having, and the secular powers in so suffering them do not well.
36. The church of Rome is the synagogue of Satan; neither is the pope immediately the vicar of Christ, nor of the apostles.
37. The decretals of the pope be apocryphal, and seduce from the faith of Christ, and the clergy that study them be fools.
38. The emperor and secular lords be seduced, which so enrich the church with such ample possessions.
39. It is not necessary to salvation to believe the Church of Rome to be supreme head over all churches.
40. It is but folly to believe the pope's pardon.
41. All oaths, which be made for any contract or civil bargain betwixt man and man, be unlawful.
42. Benedict, Francis, Dominic, Bernard, with all such as have been patrons of private religion, except they have repented, with such also as have entered into the same, be in a damnable state, and so, from the pope to the lowest novices, they be altogether heretics.
Besides these articles, to the number of forty and five, condemned as is said by the council of Constance, other articles also I find diversely collected, or rather wrested out of the books and writings of Wickliff; some by William Woodford, some by Walden, by Friar Tissington, and other, whom they in their books have impugned rather than confuted.
Besides this William Woodford aforementioned, divers other there were which wrote against these articles of Wickliff aforesaid, maintaining the pope's part, as seemeth, for flattery, rather than following any just cause so to do, or showing forth any reason or learning in disproving the same. Notwithstanding, on the contrary part, some there were again, both learned and godly, which taking the part of Wickliff, without all flattery, defended the most of the said articles openly in schools and other places; as appeareth by the works of John Huss, who, in his public determinations in the university of Prague, stood in defence of the same against all his adversaries.
John Huss prosecuted Wickliff's articles with long arguments and reasons; and it were too long a travail, neither agreeable for this place, to allege all the whole order of his reasons and proofs, which he used in that disputation, above the number of twenty more, besides the testimonies of all the writers before recited, the which he allegeth out of the Scriptures, decretals, St. Ambrose in his book of offices, St. Augustine in his fifth book and fifth question, and also unto Macedo, Isidore, the Council of Nice, Gregory his eleventh question, Bernard unto Eugene in his third book, and out of Lincolniensis, the threescore and one epistle, besides many other more. The sum of all which testimonies tend unto this end, that he might utterly take away all earthly rule and dominion from the clergy, and to bring them under the subjection and censure of kings and emperors, as it were within certain bonds, the which is not only agreeable unto equity and God's word, but also profitable for the clergy themselves. He teacheth it also to be necessary, that they should rather be subject under the secular power, than to be above them; because that else it were dangerous, lest that they, being entangled with such kind of business, should be an easier prey unto Satan, and sooner trapped in his snares. And thereby it should come to pass, that the governance and principality of all things being at the length brought into the hands of the clergy, the lawful authority of kings and princes should not only be given over unto them, but in a manner as it were grow out of use; especially forasmuch as already, in certain kingdoms and commonwealths, the ecclesiastical power is grown unto such height, that not only in Bohemia, but also almost throughout all the commonwealths, they do occupy the third, or at least the fourth part of the rents and revenues. And last of all, he allegeth the example of Gregory and of Mauritius, and afterward the prophecy of Hildegard, writing in this manner:
"As the ecclesiastical ministers do willingly receive reward and praise of kings and rulers for their good deeds; so also ought they, when they do offend, willingly suffer and receive punishment at their hands for their evil doings. The consequence holdeth thus; forasmuch as the punishment meekly and humbly received for his offence doth more profit a man than his praise received for any good work: whereupon St. Gregory writeth thus unto Mauritius the emperor, when he did persecute him, saying, 'I believe that you do please Almighty God so much the better, in so cruelly afflicting me, which have been so evil a servant unto him.' If then this holy pope did so humbly and meekly, without any offence, suffer this affliction of the emperor, why should not any of the clergy, when they do offend, meekly sustain punishment at the king's or ruler's hands, under whom they are bound to be subject, whenas the true vicar of Christ saith, 1 Pet. ii., Be ye subject unto every creature for God's cause, whether it be unto the king, as most excellent, or unto the rulers, as men sent of God for the punishing of the wicked, and to the praise of the good; for so is the good will of God?
"Whereupon Pope Leo, leaning unto this rule, submitted himself unto Louis, the emperor, as it is written in the second question, 7 par., in these words, 'If we have done any thing incompetently, or if we have not observed the upright path and way of equity among subjects, we will amend the same, either by your own judgment, or else by the advice or judgment of those which you shall appoint for that purpose. For if we, which ought to correct and punish other men's faults, do commit more grievous ourselves, we are not then the disciples of the truth, but, with sorrow we speak it, we shall be above all other the masters of error.'
"And in the tenth distinction he writeth thus, touching the obedience unto the emperor: As concerning the precepts and commandments of our emperors, and our predecessors bishops, (the which the Gloss nameth emperors, which are anointed after the manner of bishops,) to be observed and kept unbroken, we do profess ourselves by all means possible, as much as in us lieth, or that we may and can, we will by the help of God preserve and keep them both now and ever. And if peradventure any man do inform, or hereafter shall inform, you otherwise, know you him assuredly to be a liar and slanderer.'
Mark how this devout and holy pope, calling the emperors bishops, submitted himself, according to the rule of St. Peter the apostle, under the obedience, and also punishment, of the emperor. Wherefore then should not the clergy of the kingdom of Bohemia submit themselves under the obedience of their king, for God's cause, to be punished if they do offend; and not only submit themselves unto the king, but also unto the rulers; and not only unto the rulers, but unto every other creature? For by how much they do so humble and abase themselves in this world for God's sake, so much the more shall they be exalted with him: but what is the let thereof, but only pride, whereby antichrist doth exalt himself above the most humble and meek Lord Jesus Christ?
"Also it seemeth to appear by that which is aforesaid upon the taking away of the temporalties, out of the prophecy of Hildegard, the virgin, the which she writeth in her books under Eugene the pope, in the Council of Treves, approved and allowed by many bishops of France, Italy, and Almain, which were there present, where also St. Bernard himself was present; the which virgin prophesying, spake in this manner: 'The kings and other rulers of the world, being stirred up by the just judgment of God, shall set themselves against them, and run upon them, saying, We will not have these men to reign over us with their rich houses, and great possessions, and other worldly riches, over the which we are ordained to be lords and rulers; and how is it meet or comely that those shavelings, with their stoles and chisils, should have more soldiers, or more or richer armour or artillery, than we? So is it not convenient that one of the clergy should be a man of war, neither a soldier to be one of the clergy. Wherefore let us take away from them that, which they do not justly, but wrongfully possess.' And immediately after she saith, 'The omnipotent Father equally divided all things, that is to say, the heavens he gave unto the heavenly creatures, and the earth unto the earthly. And by this means was there a just division made between the children of men, that the spiritualty should have such things as belong unto them, and the secular people, such things as are meet and necessary for them, so that neither of these two sorts should oppress each other by violence; for God doth not command, that the one son or child should have both the cloak and the coat, and the other should go naked, but he willed that the one should have the cloak and the other the coat. Wherefore the secular sort ought to have the cloak for the greatness of their worldly cares, and for their children, which daily increase and multiply. The coat he giveth unto the spiritualty, that they should not lack clothing, and that they should not possess more than necessity doth require. Wherefore we judge and think it good, that all these aforesaid be divided by reason and equity; and that where the cloak and the coat are both found, there the cloak should be taken away, and given unto the needy, that they do not perish for lack or want.' These aforesaid spake the virgin Hildegard, plainly foreshowing the taking away of the temporalties from the clergy by the secular lords; and showing for what cause they shall he so taken away, and what manner of division shall be made of those things that are taken away, that they be not consumed, and spent unprofitably."
Hugo, also, in his second book of Sacraments, in the second part, and third chapter, saith, "The laity, forasmuch as they intermeddle with earthly matters necessary unto an earthly life, they are the least part of the body of Christ. And the clergy, forasmuch as they do dispose those things which pertain unto a spiritual life, are, as it were, the right side of the body of Christ." And afterward, interpreting both these parts himself, he saith, "A spiritual man ought to have nothing but such as pertaineth unto God, unto whom it is appointed to be sustained by the tithes and oblations which are offered unto God; but unto the Christian and faithful laity the possession of the earth is granted; and unto the clergy the whole charge of spiritual matters is committed, as it was in the Old Testament." And in his seventh chapter he declareth how that certain things are given unto the church of Christ by the devotion of the faithful, the power and authority of the secular power reserved, lest there might happen any confusion; forasmuch as God himself cannot allow any disordered thing. Whereupon oftentimes the worldly princes do grant the bare use of the church, and oftentimes use and power to exercise justice, which the clergy cannot exercise by any ecclesiastical minister, or any other person of the clergy. Notwithstanding they may have certain lay persons ministers unto that office; "but in such sort," saith he, "that they do acknowledge the power which they have to come from the secular prince or ruler, and that they do understand their possessions can never be alienated away from the king's power; but (if that necessity or reason do require) the same possessions, in all such case of necessity, do owe him obeisance and service. For like as the king's power ought not to turn away the defence or safeguard which he oweth unto another; so likewise the possessions obtained and possessed by the clergy, according to the duty and homage which is due unto the patronage of the king's power, cannot by right be denied." Thus much writes Hugo.
And thus, hitherto, I may peradventure seem to have made sufficient long recital out of John Huss, but so, notwithstanding, that the commodity of those things may abundantly recompense the prolixity thereof. Wherefore, if I shall seem unto any man, in the rehearsal of this disputation, to have passed very far the bounds of the history, let him think thus of me, that in what time I took in hand to write of these ecclesiastical matters, I could not omit these things which were so straitly joined with the cause of the church. Not that I did make more account of the history which I had taken in hand, than of the common utility whereunto I had chief respect.
There were, besides these, certain other articles, whereupon the said John Huss had very wisely and learnedly disputed; but these shall suffice us for this present. And for the residue, we will pass them over, to the intent we may the more speedily return whereas our story left; declaring what cruelty they used not only against the books and articles of John Wickliff, but also in burning his body and bones, commanding them to be taken up forty-one years after he was buried, as appeareth by the decree of the said synod, the form whereof we thought hereunto to annex.
The decree of the synod of Constance, touching the taking up of the body and bones of John Wickliff to be burned forty-one years after he was buried in his own parish at Lutterworth.
Illustration -- The Burning of the bones of John Wickliff
"Forasmuch as by the authority of the sentence and decree of the Council of Rome, and by the commandment of the church and the apostolical see, after due delays being given, they proceeded unto the condemnation of the said John Wickliff and his memory, having first made proclamation, and given commandment to call forth whosoever would defend the said Wickliff, or his memory, if there were any such (but there did none appear, which would either defend him or his memory). And moreover witnesses being examined, by commissioners appointed by Pope John, and his council, upon the impenitency and final obstinacy and stubbornness of the said John Wickliff, (reserving that which is to be reserved, as in such business the order of the law requireth,) and his impenitency and obstinancy, even unto his end, being sufficiently proved by evident signs and tokens, and also by lawful witnesses, and credit lawfully given thereunto: wherefore, at the instance of the steward of the treasury, proclamation being made to hear and understand the sentence against this day, the sacred synod declareth, determineth, and giveth sentence, that the said John Wickliff was a notorious obstinate heretic, and that he died in heresy: cursing and condemning both him and his memory.
"This synod also decreeth and ordaineth, that the body and bones of the said John Wickliff, if it might be discerned and known from the bodies of other faithful people, should be taken out of the ground, and thrown away far from the burial of any church, according unto the canon laws and decrees. Which determination and sentence definitive being read and pronounced, the lord president, and the aforesaid presidents of the four nations, being demanded and asked whether it did please them or no, they all answered, (and first Hostiensis the president, and after him the other presidents of the nations,) that it pleased them very well; and so they allowed and confirmed all the premises, &c."
What Heraclitus would not laugh, or what Democritus would not weep, to see these so sage and reverend Catos, to occupy their heads to take up a poor man's body, so long dead and buried before, by the space of forty-one years; and yet, peradventure, were not able to find his right bones, but took up some other body, and so of a catholic made a heretic! Albeit, herein Wickliff had some cause to give them thanks, that they would at least spare him so long till he was dead, and also to give him so long respite after his death, forty-one years to rest in his sepulchre before they ungraved him, and turned him from earth to ashes; which ashes also they took and threw into the river. And so was he resolved into three elements, earth, fire, and water, thinking thereby utterly to extinguish and abolish both the name and doctrine of Wickliff for ever. Not much unlike to the example of the old Pharisees and sepulchre-knights, which, when they had brought the Lord unto the grave, thought to make him sure never to rise again. But these and all other must know, that as there is no counsel against the Lord, so there is no keeping down of verity, but it will spring and come out of dust and ashes, as appeared right well in this man: for though they digged up his body, burned his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the word of God, and truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day, for the most part of his articles, do remain, notwithstanding the transitory body and bones of the man were thus consumed and dispersed, as by this picture here above set forth to thine eyes, gentle reader, may appear.
These things thus finished and accomplished, which pertain to the story and time of Wickliff, let us now, by the supportation of the Lord, proceed to treat and write of the rest, which either in his time or after his time, springing out of the same university, and raised up (as ye would say) out of his ashes, were partakers of the same persecution; of whom speaketh Thomas Walden in his book, De Sacramentis et Sacramentalibus, cap. 53, where he saith, that after Wickliff many suffered most cruel death, and many more did forsake the realm; in the number of whom were William Swinderby, Walter Brute, John Purvey, Richard White, William Thorp, and Reynold Peacock, bishop of St. Asaph, and afterward of Chichester.
To this catalogue also pertaineth (mentioned in ancient writers) Lawrence Redman, master of arts; David Sautre, a divine; John Ashwarby, vicar, as they call him, of St. Mary's church at Oxford; William James, an excellent young man, well learned; Thomas Brightwell, and William Hawlam, a civilian; Rafe Greenhurst, John Scut, and Philip Norise; which, being excommunicated by Pope Eugenethe Fourth, in the year of our Lord 1446, appealed unto a general or ?cumenical council.
Peter Paine also, who, flying from Oxford unto Bohemia, did stoutly contend against the sophisters, as touching both kinds of the sacrament of the last supper; who, afterward, among the rest of the orators, was one of the fourteen that was sent unto the Council of Basil; where, by the space of three days, he disputed upon the fourth article, which was touching the civil dominion of the clergy, A. D. 1438. Also the Lord Cobham, &c., with divers others besides, whose names are mentioned in the king's writ, sent to the sheriff of Northampton, which writ of the king followeth in this tenor:
"Forasmuch as John Attyate of Chepingwarden, John Warryner, R. Brewood, &c. being receivers and abettors of heretics, and especially of John Woodward, priest, publicly defamed and condemned of heresy, will not be justified by the censures of the church, as the reverend father, John, bishop of Lincoln, hath certified us; we therefore, willing to withstand all defenders and abettors of such heresies, do will and command as well the fore named, as namely, the aforesaid John Woodward to be apprehended, straitly charging the same to be imprisoned by their bodies, or otherwise punished, as shall seem good to the justices, until they and every of them shall submit themselves to the obedience of the aforesaid bishop in that behalf accordingly. Whereof fail you not, under pain of a hundred pounds. Witness ourselves: Given at our manor of Langley, the eighth day of March, the twelfth year of our reign."
To these above rehearsed, and other favourers of Wickliff, within this our country of England, we may add also the Bohemians; forasmuch as the propagation of the said doctrine of Wickliff in that country also took root, coming from England to Bohemia by this occasion, as in story here followeth.
There chanced at that time a certain student of the country of Bohemia to be at Oxford, one of a wealthy house, and also of a noble stock, who, returning home from the university of Oxford to the university of Prague, carried with him certain books of Wickliff, De Realibus Universalibus, De Civili Jure et Divino, De Ecclesia, De Quæstionibus Variis contra Clerum, &c. It chanced the same time, a certain nobleman in the city of Prague had founded and builded a great church of Matthias and Matthew, which church was called Bethlehem, giving to it great lands, and finding in it two preachers every day, to preach both holy day and working day to the people. Of the which two preachers this John Huss was one, a man of great knowledge, of a pregnant wit, and excellently favoured for his worthy life amongst them. Thus John Huss having familiarity with this young man in reading and perusing these books of Wickliff, took such pleasure and fruit in reading thereof, that not only he began to defend this author openly in the schools, but also in his sermons; commending him for a good man, a holy man, and heavenly man, wishing himself, when he should die, to be there placed, where the soul of Wickliff should be. And thus for the spreading of Wickliff's doctrine enough.
And thus much briefly concerning the favourers and adherents of John Wickliff in general. Now, particularly and in order, let us, by Christ's grace, prosecute the stories and persecutions of the said parties aforenamed, as the course of their times shall require, first beginning with the valiant champions William Swinderby and Walter Brute.