83. Walter Brute.
After the story of William Swinderby, I thought good and convenient to adjoin the acts and doings of Walter Brute, his joint fellow and companion, being a layman, and learned; brought up, as it seemeth, in the university of Oxford, being there also graduate; the tractation of whose discourse, as it is something long, so therein may appear divers things worthy to be read and considered.
First, the mighty operation of God's Spirit in him, his ripe knowledge, modest simplicity, his valiant constancy, his learned tractations and manifold conflicts sustained against God's enemies. On the contrary part, in his adversaries may appear, might against right; man's authority against plain verity; against which they, having nothing directly to answer, proceed in condemnation, against whom they are able to bring forth no confutation. The chiefest occasion, that seemed to stir up the heart and zeal of this Walter against the pope, was the impudent pardons and indulgences of Pope Urban, granted to Henry Spencer, bishop of Norwich, to fight against Pope Clement, mentioned before. Secondly, the wrongful condemnation of the articles and conclusions of William Swinderby; the whole order whereof, in the process here following, more plainly may appear.
The process had by John, bishop of Hereford, against Walter Brute, a layman and learned, of the diocese of Hereford, touching the cause of heresy, as they called it; set forward by the way of the bishop's office, &c., at the instruction of certain faithful Christians, as he termed them, but indeed cruel and false promoters.
"In the name of God, Amen: To all manner of faithful Christian people, that shall see and hear this our present process, John, by the sufferance of God, bishop of Hereford, sendeth greeting and continual charity, in the Lord. We would that you all should know, that of late, by many faithful Christian people, and specially zealous followers of the catholic faith, it was lamentably done us to understand, by way of complaint, that a certain son of ours going out of kind, named Walter Brute, a lay person, learned, of our diocese, hath, under a cloaked show of holiness, damnably seduced the people; and, setting behind him the fear of God, doth seduce them as much as he can, from day to day; informing and teaching openly and privily as well the nobles as the commons, in certain conclusions heretical, schismatical, and erroneous, and also heretofore condemned: and they have also probably exhibited against the same Walter, articles underwritten, in manner and form as followeth.
"Reverend father and lord! we, the faithful people of Christ, and zealous lovers of the catholic faith, and also your humble and devout children, do minister and exhibit to your reverend fatherhood the articles underwritten, touching the catholic faith, contrary and against malicious persons, and detractors of the same faith, and the determinations of holy mother church; and, namely, against the child of Belial, one Walter Brute, a false teacher and seducer amongst the people: humbly beseeching, that you would vouchsafe to have regard to the correction of the enormities underwritten, according unto the canonical constitutions, even as to your office pastoral doth lie and belong.
"Imprimis, We do give and exhibit, and intend to prove, that the same Walter Brute, being unmindful of his salvation, hath been, by many and divers faithful Christian people, sundry times accused of the cursedness of heresy, as by the swift report, slander, and rumour of the people, proceeding before the most reverend father and lord, Lord William, archbishop of Canterbury, and also before the reverend father and lord, Lord John, late bishop of Hereford, your predecessor, and now bishop of St. Asaph, hath been testified; and also hath been many and divers times cited to answer unto articles by him against the catholic faith avouched, and openly and publicly taught. But he, in this matter of heretical cursedness, (so grievously and shamefully spoken of,) hath never regarded to purge his innocency; but lurkingly, and running into corners, hath many and sundry years laboured to advance things erroneous and schismatical, and also heresies, and to imprint them in the hearts of faithful people.
"Item, The aforesaid Walter Brute hath openly, publicly, and notoriously avouched, and commonly said and taught, and stubbornly affirmed, that every Christian man, yea, and woman, being without sin, may make the body of Christ so well as the priest.
"Item, The same Walter hath notoriously, openly, and publicly avouched and taught, that in the sacrament of the altar there is not the very body, but a sign and a memorial only.
"Item, The aforesaid Walter hath said commonly, and avouched and also hath laboured to inform men and companies, that no man is bound to give tithes nor oblations; and if any man will needs give, he may give his tithes and oblations to whom he will, excluding thereby their curates.
"Item, That such as do preach and prefer croised matters and pardons (granted by the high bishop to them that helped the purpose of the reverend father Lord Henry, by the grace of God bishop of Norwich, when he took his journey upon him to fight for the holy father the pope) are schismatics and heretics, and that the pope cannot grant such manner of pardons.
"Item, The said Walter hath oftentimes said, and commonly avouched, that the pope is antichrist, and a seducer of the people, and utterly against the law and life of Christ.
"Item, Whereas of late your reverence did (at the instance of faithful Christian people) proceed in form of law against William Swinderby; and that the said William Swinderby had unto the said articles objected against him given up his answers in writing, containing in them errors, schisms, and heresies, even as you, with the mature counsel of masters and doctors in divinity and other faculties, have determined and given sentence, and have pronounced the same William Swinderby to be a heretic and a schismatic, and an erroneous teacher of the people: nevertheless the forenamed Walter hath openly, publicly, and notoriously said, avouched, and stubbornly affirmed, that the said William's answers (whereof notice hath been given before) are good, righteous, and not able to be convinced, in that they contain none error; and that your sentence before said, given against the said William, is evil, false, and unjust; and that your assistants have wickedly, naughtily, perversely, and unjustly condemned the answers aforesaid.
"Now thereupon immediately those same faithful Christian people have instantly required, that we would vouchsafe that other articles given by the same faithful Christians against the said William Swinderby, together with the writings and answers of the same William thereunto, should be admitted against Walter Brute, mentioned of in this matter of cursed heresy; of which articles and answers the tenors do follow in these words:
"Imprimis, That one William Swinderby, pretending himself priest, was of certain articles and conclusions, erroneous, false, schismatical, and heretical, by him preached, at divers places and times, before a great multitude of faithful Christians, judicially convinced; and the same articles and conclusions did he (enforced by necessity of law) revoke and abjure, some as heretical, and other as erroneous and false; and for such did he avouch them for ever afterward, promising so to take and believe them, and that from thenceforth he would openly or privily preach, teach, or affirm none of them; nor that he should make sermon or preach within your diocese without licence demanded and obtained: and in case he should to the contrary presume, by preaching or avouching, that then he should be subject to the severity of the canons, even as he judicially sware accordingly as the law enforced. Also the conclusions abjured by the said William do follow, and are such:
"1. Imprimis, That men by the rule of charity may demand debts, but by no means imprison any man for debts: and that the party so imprisoning a body, is excommunicated.
"2. Item, That if the parishioners shall know their curate to be incontinent and naughty, they ought to withdraw from him their tithes, &c.
"3. Item, That tithes are mere alms, and in case that the curates shall be ill, that they may be lawfully bestowed upon others by the temporal owners, &c.
"4. Item, That an evil curate to excommunicate any under his jurisdiction for withholding of tithes, is nought else, &c.
"5. Item, That no man may excommunicate any body, except that first he know him excommunicate of God: neither do those that communicate with such a one incur the sentence of excommunication by any manner of means.
"6. Item, That every priest may absolve every sinner, being contrite; and is bound to preach the gospel unto the people, notwithstanding the prohibition of the bishops.
"7. Item, That a priest, receiving by bargain any thing of yearly annuity, is in so doing a schismatic, and excommunicate.
"8. Item, He doth assuredly believe (as he avoucheth) that every priest, being in deadly sin, if he dispose himself to make the body of Christ, doth rather commit idolatry, than make Christ's body.
"9. Item, That no priest doth enter into any house, but to handle ill the wife, the daughter, or the maid, and therefore, &c.
"10. Item, That the child is not rightly baptized, if the priest, &c.
"11. Item, That no manner of person, if he live against God's law, &c.
"12. Item, The same William, against the things premised, and his revocation and abjuration, (not to his heart converting, but from evil to worse perverting,) did turn aside into our diocese, where, running to and fro in divers places, he hath of his own rash head presumed to preach, or rather to pervert, &c.
"13. Item, After that we had heard divers rumours, and slanders of very many, we directed divers monitions and commandments comminatory, to be sent abroad by our commissaries to sundry places of our diocese; that no person, of what estate, degree, or condition soever he were, should presume to preach or to teach the sacred Scripture to the people, in places holy or profane, within our diocese.
"14. Item, That the same sort of monitions, inhibitions, and precepts, confirmed by our seal, came to the true and undoubted knowledge of the said William.
"15. Item, The same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath since, and against those monitions, inhibitions, and precepts, and (that which is more abominable to be spoken) in contempt of the high bishop's dignity, and to the slander and offence of many people, presumed, in divers places of our said diocese, to preach, or rather to pervert, and to teach the forementioned and other heretical, erroneous, and schismatical devices.
"16. Item, The same William, in preaching to the people on Monday, to wit, the first of August, in the year of our Lord 1390, in the church of Whitney in our diocese, held and affirmed, that no prelate of the world, of what state, pre-eminence, or degree soever he were, having cure of souls and being in deadly sin, &c.
"17. Item, The same William in many places said and affirmed in the presence of many faithful Christian people, after the sacramental words uttered by the priest, having the intent to consecrate, there is not made the very body of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
"18. Item, That accidents cannot be in the sacrament of the altar without their subject; and that there remaineth material bread concomitanter, with the body of Christ in the sacrament.
"19. Item, That a priest being in deadly sin cannot, by the power of the sacramental words, make the body of Christ.
"20. Item, That all priests are of like power in all points, notwithstanding that some of them are in this world of higher dignity, degree, or preeminence.
"21. Item, That contrition only putteth away sin if a man shall be duly contrite; and that all vocal confession and exercise is superfluous, and not requisite of neccssity to salvation.
"22. That inferior curates have not their power of binding and loosing immediatcly from the pope or bishop, but immediately of Christ, &c.
"23. Item, That the pope cannot grant such a kind of annual pardons, because there shall not be so many years to the day of judgment as are contained in the pope's bulls or pardons. Whereby it followeth, that pardons are not so much worth as they are noised and praised to be.
"24. Item, That it is not in the pope's power to grant to any penitent body forgiveness of the pain, or of the trespass.
"25. Item, That one giving his alms to any body, which as he judgeth hath no need thereof, doth sin in so giving, &c.
"26. Item, That it stands not in the power of any prelate, of what private religion soever he be, to give by letters benefits of their order; neither do such kind of benefits given profit them to whom they be given for the salvation of souls.
"27. Item, That the same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath many times and often resorted to a certain desert wood called Derwalswood,of our diocese, and there in a certain unhallowed chapel (nay, a profane cottage) hath presumed of his own proper rashness, to celebrate, &c.
"28. Item, The same William hath also presumed to do the like things in a certain profane chapel, situate in the park of Newton, nigh to the town of Leyntwardyn, in the same our diocese.
"Which things being done, the same faithful Christian people, and specially Sir Walter Pride, the penitentiary of our cathedral church of Hereford, personally appearing before us, sitting in our judgment-seat in the parish church of Whitborne of our diocese, brought forth and exhibited two public instruments against the same Walter Brute, in the case of cursed heresy aforesaid, of which instruments here followeth the tenors and articles in this sort.
"In the name of God, Amen. Be it plainly known to all persons by this present public instrument, that in the year from the incarnation, after the course and computation of the church of England, 1391, the indiction fifteen of the pontifical office of our most holy father and lord in Christ, Lord Boniface the Ninth, by God's wisdom pope; the second year, the fifteenth day of the month of October, in the dwelling-house of the worshipful man, Master John Godemoston, canon of the cathedral church of Hereford, in the presence of me the public notary underwritten, and of witnesses subscribed; Walter Brute, a layman, learned, of Hereford diocese, personally appearing said, avouched, and stiffly maintained, that the said bishop of Hereford, and his assistants which were with him, the third day of the foresaid month of October, the year of our Lord aforesaid, in the church of Hereford, did naughtily, wickedly, perversely, and unjustly condemn the answers of Sir William Swinderby, chaplain, given by the same Sir William to the same lord bishop in writing, and also the articles ministered by the same Sir William.
"And furthermore he said, held, and avouched, that the same conclusions given by the same Sir William, even as they were given, are true and catholic.
"Item, as touching the matters objected against him by them that stood by, concerning the sacrament of the altar; he said, that after the sacramental words there doth remain very bread, and the substance thereof after the consecration of the body of Christ; and that there do not remain accidents without substance or subject after the consecration of the body of Christ. And as touching this matter, the doctors hold divers opinions.
"Furthermore, as concerning the pope, he said, held, and avouched, that he is the very antichrist; because that in life and manners he is contrary to the laws, doctrines, and deeds of Christ our Lord.
"All and every of these things were done, even as they be above-written and rehearsed, in the year of our Lord, pontifical office, month, day, and place aforesaid, at supper time of the day aforenamed; then and there being present the worshipful and discreet men, Sir Walter Ramsbury, chief chanter of the said cathedral church of Hereford, Roger Hoore, canon of the same church, Walter Wall, chaplain of the said church of Hereford, being a vicar of the choral, and certain other worthy witnesses of credit, that were specially called and desired to the premises.
"And I, Richard Lee, wheeler, clerk of Worcester, being a public notary, by the authority apostolic, was personally present at all and singular the premises, whilst that, as is before rehearsed, they were done and a doing in the year of our Lord 1391; pontifical office, month, day, place, and the hour aforesaid; and I did see, write, and hear all and singular those things thus to be done, and have reduced them into this public manner and form; and, being desired truly to testify the premises, have sealed the said instrument made hereupon, with mine accustomed seal and name.
"In the name of God, Amen. Be it plainly known to all persons, by this present public instrument, that in the year from the incarnation of the Lord, after the course and computation of the Church of England, 1391, the indiction fifteen, in the third year of the pontifical office of the most holy father in Christ, and our lord, Lord Boniface, pope, by the providence of God, the Ninth, and in the nineteenth day of the month of January; Walter Brute, layman, of Hereford diocese, personally appearing before the reverend father in Christ and lord, Lord John, by God's grace bishop of Hereford, in the presence of me, being a public notary, and one of the witnesses underwritten, did say, hold, publish, and affirm, the conclusions hereafter written, that is to say, that Christian people are not bound to pay tithes, neither by the law of Moses nor by the law of Christ.
"Item, That it is not lawful for Christians, for any cause in any case, to swear by the Creator, neither by the creature.
"Item, He confesseth openly and of his own accord, that within the same month of January, he did eat, drink, and communicate with William Swinderby, not being ignorant of the sentence of the said reverend father, whereby the same William Swinderby was pronounced a heretic, schismatic, and a false seducer of the common people; which conclusions the same reverend father caused to be written, and in writing to be delivered to the same Walter; which when he had seen and read, he said also that he did maintain and justify them according to the laws aforesaid. These things were done in the chamber of the said bishop of Hereford, at his manor of Whitborne of the said diocese of Hereford; there being then present the same bishop abovesaid, Master Reynold, of Wolston, canon of Hereford; Sir Philip Dilesk, parson of the parish church of Blamurin; Thomas Guildefeld, parson of the church of Englishbyknore; John Cresset, parson of the church of Whitborne; and Thomas Wallewayne, household servant; for witnesses especially called and desired to the premises, of the diocese of Hereford and St. Asaph.
"And I, Benedict Come, clerk of the diocese of St. Asaph, public notary, by the apostolic authority of the diocese of St. Asaph, was personally present, together with the witnesses before named, at all and singular these and other things here premised, whilst they were so done and a doing; and did see, hear, and write those things so to be done, as is before mentioned; and did write the same, and reduce them into this public form, and with my wonted and accustomed seal and name have sealed it, being desired and required truly to testify the prcmises.
"At the last, the aforesaid Walter Brute did present and cause to be presented to us, at divers places and times, assigned by us to the same Walter, to answer to the former conclusions and articles, divers scrolls of paper, written with his own proper hand, for his answers to the same articles and conclusions above written; he partly appearing by his own self, before us sitting in our judgment-seat, and partly by his messengers, specially appointed to that purpose; of which scrolls, the tenors do follow in order, word by word, and be on this manner.
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen. I, Walter Brute, sinner, layman, husbandman, and a Christian, (having my offspring of the Britons, both by my father's and mother's side,) of the Britons have been accused to the bishop of Hereford, that I did err in many matters concerning the catholic Christian faith, by whom I am required that I should write an answer in Latin to all those matters; whose desire I will satisfy to my power, protesting first of all, before God, and before all the world, that like as it is not my mind, through God's grace, to refuse the known truth, for any reward greater or smaller, yea, be it never so big, nor yet for the fear of any temporal punishment; even so it is not my mind to maintain any erroneous doctrine for any commodity's sake. And, if any man, of what state, sect, or condition soever he be, will show me that I err in my writings or sayings, by the authority of the sacred Scripture, or by probable reason grounded on the sacred Scripture, I will humbly and gladly receive his information. But as for the bare words of any teacher, (Christ only excepted,) I will not simply believe, except he shall be able to stablish them by the truth of experience, or of the Scripture; because that, in the holy apostles elected by Christ, there hath been found error by the testimony of the Holy Scripture, because that Paul himself doth confess that he rebuked Peter, for that he was worthy to be rebuked, Gal. ii. There have been errors found in the holy doctors that have been before us, as they themselves confess of themselves. And oftentimes it falleth out, that there is error found in the teachers in our age, who are of contrary opinions among themselves, and some of them do sometimes determine one thing for truth, and others do condemn the selfsame thing to be heresy and error. Which protestation premised, I will here place two suppositions or cases for a ground and a foundation of all things that I shall say, out of which I would gather two probable conclusions, stablished upon the same, and upon the sacred Scripture. By which conclusions, when they shall be declared after my manner and fashion, it shall plainly appear what my opinion and judgment is concerning all matters that I am accused of. But because I am ignorant and unlearned, I will get me under the mighty defences of the Lord: O Lord, I will remember thine only righteousness.
"God the Father Almighty, uncreate, the Maker of heaven and earth, hath sent his Son, that was everlastingly begotten, into this world, that he should be incarnated for the salvation and redemption of mankind, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, everlastingly proceeding from the Father and the Son, and was born of Mary the Virgin, to the end that we might be born anew. He suffered passion under Pontius Pilate for our sins, laying down his life for us, that we should lay down our life for our brethren. He was crucified, that we should be crucified to the world, and the world to us. He was dead, that he might redeem us from death, by purchasing for us forgiveness of sins. He was buried, that we, being buried together with him into death by baptism, and that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness. He descended into hell, thereby delivering man from thraldom, and from the bondage of the devil, and restoring him to his inheritance, which he lost by sin. The third day he rose from the dead, through the glory of his Father, that we also should walk in newness of life. He ascended up to the heavens, to which nobody hath ascended, saving he that descended from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. He sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, until his enemies be made his footstool. He being in very deed so much better than the angels, as he hath obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than they. From whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, according to their works, because the Father hath given all judgment to the Son. In whose terrible judgment we shall rise again, and shall all of us stand before his judgment-seat, and receive joy, as well bodily as spiritually, for ever to endure, if we be of the sheep placed at the right hand; or else punishment both of body and soul, if we shall be found amongst goats, placed on the left hand, &c.
"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, very God and very man, a King for ever, by establishing an everlasting kingdom, breaking to powder all the kingdoms of the world, Dan. ii.; a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek, whereby also he is able evermore to save such as by him come unto God, and always liveth to entreat for us, Heb. vii. He, offering one sacrifice for our sins, hath made perfect for ever by one oblation those that be sanctified, Heb. x. Being the wisdom that cannot be deceived, and the truth that cannot be uttered, he hath in this world taught the will of God his Father, which will he hath in work fulfilled, to the intent that he might faithfully instruct us; and hath given the law of charity to he of his faithful people observed; which he hath written in the hearts and minds of the faithful with the finger of God, where is the Spirit of God, searching the inward secrets of the Godhead. Wherefore his doctrine must be observed above all other doctrines, whether they be of angels or of men, because that he could not or would not err in his teaching. But in men's doctrine there chanceth oftentimes to be error, and therefore we must forsake their doctrines, if cloakedly or expressly they be repugnant to the doctrine of Christ. Men's doctrines being made for the people's profit, must be allowed and observed, so that they be grounded upon Christ's doctrine, or at least be not repugnant to his words.
"If the high bishop of Rome, calling himself the servant of the servants of God, and the chief vicar of Christ in this world, do make and maintain many laws contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, then is he of those that have come in Christ's name, saying, I am Christ, and have seduced many a one, by the testimony of our Saviour in Matt. xxiv., and the idol of desolation sitting in the temple of God, and taking away from him the continual sacrifice for a time, times, and half a time, which idol must be revealed to the Christian people, by the testimony of Daniel, whereof Christ speaketh in the Gospel; When ye shall see the abomination of desolation that was told of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let him that readeth understand; he is the pestiferous mountain infecting the whole universal earth, as witnesseth Jeremiah, chap. li., and not the head of Christ's body. For the ancient person in years, and honourable in reverence, he is the head: and the prophet teaching lies is the tail, as Isaiah allegeth, chap. ix.; and he is that wicked and sinful captain of Israel, whose foreappointed day of iniquity is come in time of iniquity, who shall take away Cidarim, and take away the crown, Ezekiel, chap. xxi., to whom it was said, Forasmuch as thy heart was exalted, and didst say, I am a god, and sittest in the seat of god, in the heart of the sea, seeing thou art a man and not a god, and hast given thine heart, as if it were the heart of God; therefore, behold, I will bring upon thee the most strong and mighty strangers of the nations, and they shall draw their swords upon the beauty of thy wisdom, and shall defile the commandments, and kill thee, and pull thee out; and thou shalt die in the destruction of the slain. And it followeth, In the multitude of thine iniquities, and of the iniquities of thy merchandise, thou hast defiled thy sanctification. I will therefore bring forth a fire from the midst of the whole earth, and will make thee as ashes upon the earth. Thou art become nothing, and never shalt thou be any more, Ezekiel, chap. xxviii. Furthermore, he is the idle shepherd, forsaking his flock, having a sword on his arm, and another sword on his right eye, Zech. xi., and, sitting in the temple of God, doth advance himself above all that is called God, or whatsoever is worshipped, by the testimony of Paul to the Thessalonians, 2 Epist. chap. ii.: and in the defection or falling away shall the man of sin be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth. For every kingdom divided in itself shall be brought to desolation. He is also, besides, the beast ascending up out of the earth, having two horns like unto a lamb, but he speaketh like a dragon; and as the cruel beast ascending up out of the sea, whose power shall continue forty and two months. He worketh the things that he hath given to the image of the beast. And he compelled small and great, rich and poor, free-men and bond-slaves, to worship the beast, and to take his mark in their forehead or their hands, Apoc. xiii. And thus, by the testimony of all these places, is he the chief antichrist upon the earth, and must be slain with the sword of God's word, and cast, with the dragon, the cruel beast, and the false prophet that hath seduced the earth, into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented world without end.
"If the city of Rome do allow his traditions, and do disallow Christ's holy commandments, and Christ's doctrine, that it may confirm his traditions, then is she Babylon the great, or the daughter of Babylon, and the great whore sitting upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth are become drunken with the wine of her harlotry, lying open to lewdness, with whose spiritual whoredom, enchantments, witchcrafts, and Simon Magus merchandises, the whole round world is infected and seduced; saying in her heart, I sit as queen, and widow I am not, neither shall I see sorrow and mourning. Yet is she ignorant that within a little while shall come the day of her destruction and ruin by the testimony of the Apocalypse, chap. xvii., because that from the time that the continual sacrifice was taken away, and the abomination of desolation set up, there be passed twelve hundred and ninety days by the testimony of Daniel, chap. xii.; and the chronicles added do agree to the same. And the holy city also hath been trodden under foot of the heathen for forty-two months, and the woman was nourished up in the wilderness (unto which she fled for fear of the face of the serpent) during twelve hundred and sixty days, or else for a time, times, and half a time, which is all one. All these things be manifest by the testimony of the Apocalypse, and the chronicles thereto agreeing. And as concerning the fall of Babylon aforesaid, it is manifest in the Apocalypse, chap. xiv.; where it is said, In one day shall her plagues come, death, lamentation, and famine, and she shall be burned with fire. For, strong is the Lord, which shall judge her. And again, Babylon, that great city, is fallen, which hath made all nations to drink of the wine of her whoredom. And thirdly, One mighty angel took up a mill-stone, that was a very great one, and did cast it into the sea, saying, With such a violence as this is, shall that great city Babylon be overthrown, and shall no more be found. For her merchants were the princes of the earth, and with her witchcraft all nations have gone astray, and in her is there found the blood of the saints and prophets. And of her destruction speaketh Isaiah in chap. xiii.: And Babylon, that glorious city, being so noble amongst kingdoms in the pride of the Chaldeans, it shall be that, like as the Lord did overturn Sodom and Gomorrah upside down, it shall never more be inhabited, nor have the foundation laid in no age, from generation to generation. Jeremiah, chap. li., saith, Your mother that hath borne you is brought to very great confusion, and made even with the ground. And again, The Lord hath devised and done as he hath spoken against the inhabiters of Babylon, which dwell richly in their treasures upon many waters, thine end is come. And thirdly, Drought shall fall upon her waters, and they shall begin to be dry; for it is a land of graven images, and boasteth in her prodigious wonders: it shall never more be inhabited, neither be builded up in any age or generation. Verily even as God hath subverted Sodom and Gomorrah with their calves.
"Pardon me, I beseech you, though I be not plentiful in pleasant words; for if I should run after the course of this wicked world, and should please men, I should not be Christ's servant. And, because I am a poor man, and neither have nor can have notaries hired to testify of these my writings, I call upon Christ to be my witness, which knoweth the inward secrets of my heart, that I am ready to declare the things that I have written after my fashion, to the profit of all Christian people, and to the hurt of no man living, and am ready to be reformed if any man will show me where I have erred; being ready also (miserable sinner though I be) to suffer for the confession of the name of Christ, and of his doctrine, as much as shall please him by his grace and love to assist me, a miserable sinner. In witness of all these things I have to this writing set the seal of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which I beseech him to imprint upon my forehead, and to take from me all manner of mark of antichrist. Amen."
These two suppositions, as they are termed in the schools, written by Walter Brute, and exhibited unto the bishop, although they contained matter sufficient either to satisfy the bishop if he had been disposed to learn, or else to have provoked him to reply again, if his knowledge therein had been better than his; yet could they neither of them work effect in him. But he, receiving and perusing the same, when he neither could confute that which was said, neither would reply or answer by learning to that which was truth, finding other by-cavillations, said, That this his writing was too short and obscure; and therefore required him to write upon the same again more plainly and more at large. Whereupon the said Master Walter, satisfying the bishop's request, and ready to give to every one an account of his faith in a more ample tractation, reneweth his matter again before declared, writing to the bishop in words and form as followeth
"Reverend father, forasmuch as it seemeth to you that my motion in my two suppositions or cases, and in my two conclusions, is too short and somewhat dark, I will gladly now satisfy your desire, according to my small learning, by declaring the same conclusions; in opening whereof, it shall plainly appear, what I do judge in all matters that I am accused of to your reverence, desiring you, first of all, that your discretion would not believe that I do enterprise of any presumption to handle the secrets of the Scriptures, which the holy, and just, and wise doctors have left unexpounded. It is not unknown to many, that I am in all points far inferior to them, whose holiness of life and profoundness in knowledge is manifoldly always allowed. But as for mine ignorance and multitude of sins, they are to myself and others sufficiently known; wherefore I judge not myself worthy to unloose or to carry their shoes after them. Do you therefore no otherwise deem of me, than I do of mine own self. But if you shall find any goodness in my writings, ascribe it to God only, who, according to the multitude of his mercy, doth sometimes reveal those things to idiots and sinners, which are hidden from the holy and wise, according to this saying, I will praise and confess thee, O Father! for that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast disclosed them to the little ones; even so, O Father! because it hath thus pleased thee. And in another place: I am come to judgment into this world, that they which see not, may see, and that they which see, may be made blind. And Paul saith, That God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; that no man shall boast in himself, but that all men should give the honour to God.
"It was commanded to Isaiah, bearing the type of Christ: Go, and say to this people, Hear ye with your hearing, and do not understand? Behold ye the vision, and yet know ye not the thing that ye see? Make blind the heart of this people, and make dull their ears, and shut their eyes, lest that perchance with their eyes they should see, and with their ears they should hear, and with their hearts they should understand, and be converted, and I should heal them. And I said, How long Lord? And he said, Until that the cities be made desolate without inhabitants, and the house without any person within it. Also in Isaiah thus it is written: And the multitude of the nations, which shall fight against Ariel, and all persons that have warred, and besieged and prevailed against it, shall be as a dream that appeareth in the night, and as the hungry person dreameth that he eateth, but when he shall awake out of sleep, his soul is empty. And like as the hungry person dreameth that he eateth, and yet after that he shall awake he is still weary and thirsty, and his soul void of nourishment; even so shall it be with the multitude of all nations that have fought against the mount Zion. Be you amazed, and have great wonder; reel ye to and fro, and stagger ye; be ye drunken, and not with wine; stagger, but not through drunkenness; for the Lord hath mingled for you the spirit of drowsiness. He shall shut your eyes, he shall cover your prophets and princes that see visions. And a vision shall be to you, altogether, like the words of a sealed book, which when he shall give to one that is learned, he shall say, Read here, and he shall answer, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book shall be given to one that is unlearned, and knoweth not his letters, and it shall be said unto him, Read; and he shall answer, I know not the letters, I am unlearned. Wherefore the Lord saith, Forasmuch as this people draweth nigh me with their mouths, and glorifieth me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, and they have rather feared the commandments of men, and have cleaved to their doctrines; behold, therefore, I will add besides, and bring such a muse and marvel upon this people which shall make men amazed with marvelling. For wisdom shall perish from their wise men, and the understanding of the prudent persons shall be hidden. And soon after it followeth in the same place; Yet a little while and Libanus shall be turned into Carmel, and Carmel counted for a copse or grove; and in the same day shall the deaf folks hear the word of this book, and the eyes of the blind (changed from darkness and blindness) shall see.
"Nebuchadnezzar inquiring of Daniel said, Thinkest thou that thou canst truly declare me the dream that I have seen, and the meaning thereof? And Daniel said, As for the mystery whereof the king doth ask, neither the wise men, magicians, soothsayers, nor enchanters can declare to the king: but there is a God in heaven, that discloseth mysteries, who will declare to thee (O King Nebuchadnezzar) what things shall come to pass in the last times of all. To me also is this sacrament or mystery disclosed, not for any wisdom that is in me more than in all men living, but to the end that the interpretation might be made manifest to the king, and that thou shouldst know the cogitations of thy mind.
"It was also said to Daniel, And thou, Daniel, shut up the words, seal up the book, until the time appointed. Verily many people shall pass over, and manifold knowledge shall there be. And Daniel said to the man that was clothed with linen garments, who stood upon the waters of the flood: How long will it be before the end shall come of these marvellous things? And I heard the man that was clothed in linen apparel, who stood upon the waters of the floods, when he had lifted up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and had sworn by him that liveth for evermore, that for a time, times, and half a time, and when the scattering abroad of the hand of the holy people shall be accomplished, then shall all these things be finished. And I heard and understood not, and I said, O my Lord! what shall be after these things? And he said, Go thy ways, Daniel, for this talk is shut and sealed up, until the time that is before appointed.
"All these things have I written, to show that he that hath the key of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth, doth (when and how long it pleaseth him) hide the mysteries, and the hid secrets of the Scriptures, from the wise, prudent, and righteous; and otherwhiles at his pleasure revealeth the same to sinners, and lay persons, and simple souls, that he may have the honour and glory in all things. Wherefore, as I have before said, if you shall find any good thing in my writings, ascribe the same to God alone; if you shall find otherwise, think ye the same to be written of ignorance, and not of malice. And if any doubt of error be showed me in all my writings, I will humbly allow your information and fatherly correction.
"But why that such manner of matters are moved touching the disclosing of antichrist in this kingdom, more than in other kingdoms, and in this time also more than in time past; the answer, as concerning the time of the motion, is, that it is the last conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of the Twins, which is the house of Mercury, being the signifier of the Christian people; which conjunction seemeth to me to betoken the second coming of Christ to reform his church, and to call men again, by the disclosing of antichrist, to the perfection of the gospel, from their heathenish rites, and ways of the Gentiles. By whom the holy city was trampled under foot for forty-two months, even as the conjunction of the said two planets, being enclosed in the side of the Virgin, which is also the house of Mercury, did betoken the first coming of Christ, for the salvation of all people that were perished of the house of Israel, whereby to call them, through the same coming, to the full perfection of the gospel. As touching this calling of the heathen speaketh Christ in the gospel, I have also other sheep that are not of this fold, and those must I bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one sheepfold, and one shepherd. For although the Gentiles be converted from the infidelity of their idolatry to the faith of Christ, yet are they not converted to the perfection of the law of Christ. And therefore did the apostles in the primitive church lay no burden upon the Gentiles, but that they should abstain from heinous things, as from things offered to idols, and from blood, and strangled, and fornication. As touching this second coming speaketh Isaiah; On that day the root of Jesse, which standeth for a sign or mark to the people, to him shall the heathen make their homage and supplication, and his sepulchre shall be glorious; and in that day shall it come to pass, that the Lord shall the second time put to his hand, to possess the remnant of his people, &c. And he shall lift up a token toward the nations, and he shall assemble the runnagate people of Israel that were fled, and those that were dispersed of Judah shall he gather together from the four quarters of the earth. And the zealous emulation of Ephraim shall be broken to pieces, and the enemies of Judah shall come to nought. Paul to the Thessalonians saith, We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together before him, that you be not soon removed from your understanding, neither that you be put in fear, as though the day of the Lord were at hand, neither, as it were, by letter sent by us, neither by spirit, nor yet by talk. Let not anybody by any means bring you out of the way, or seduce you, for except there shall first come a departing, and that the man of sin, the son of perdition, shall be disclosed, which maketh resistance and is advanced above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he doth sit in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God. Do you not remember, that whilst I was as yet with you, I told you of this? And now ye know what keepeth him back, that he may be uttered in his due time. For even now doth he work the mystery of iniquity; only that he which holdeth, may hold still until he be come to light; and then shall that wicked one be disclosed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming; even him whose coming is, according to the working of Satan, in all power, with signs and lying wonders, and in all deceitful leading out of the truth towards those that do perish, because that they receive not heartily the love of truth, that they might be saved.
"Christ being demanded of the apostles what should be the token of his coming, and of the end of the world, said unto them, There shall come many in my name, saying, I am Christ, and they shall seduce many: also he telleth them of many other signs; of battles, famine, pestilence, and earthquakes. But the greatest sign of all he teacheth to be this, When you shall see, saith he, the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, he that readeth let him understand. But Luke, in chap. xxi. of his Gospel, speaketh more plainly hereof; When you, therefore, shall see Jerusalem to be compassed about with an army, then know ye that the desolation thereof shall draw nigh. And afterward it followeth, And they shall fall by the face of the sword, and shall be led away captive to all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden underfoot of the heathen, until the times of the nations be fulfilled. Now in Daniel thus it is written of this matter: And after seventy-two weeks shall Christ be slain, neither shall that be his people, that will deny him. And as for the city and sanctuary, a people shall (with his captain that will come with them) destroy the said city and sanctuary, and his end shall be to be wasted utterly, till it be brought to nought; and, after the end of the war, shall come the desolation appointed. In one week shall he confirm the covenant to many, and within half a week shall the offering and sacrifice cease. And in the temple shall there be the abomination of desolation, and even unto the end shall the desolation continue. And elsewhere, in Daniel, thus it is written, From the time that the continual sacrifice shall be offered, and that the abomination shall be placed in desolation, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
"Now if any man will behold the Chronicles, he shall find that after the destruction of Jerusalem was accomplished, and after the strong hand of the holy people was fully dispersed, and after the placing of the abomination, that is to say, the idol of desolation of Jerusalem, within the holy place, where the temple of God was before, there had passed twelve hundred and ninety days, taking a day for a year, as commonly it is taken in the prophets; and the times of the heathen people are fulfilled, after whose rites and customs God suffered the holy city to be trampled under foot for forty and two months. For although the Christian church, which is the holy city, continued in the faith from the ascension of Christ, even till this time, yet hath it not observed and kept the perfection of the faith all this whole season; for soon after the departure of the apostles, the faith was kept with the observation of the rites of the Gentiles, and not of the rites of Moses's law, nor of the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, seeing that this time of the error of the Gentiles is fulfilled, it is likely that Christ shall call the Gentiles from the rites of their Gentility to the perfection of the gospel, as he called the Jews from the law of Moses to the same perfection in his first coming; that there may be one sheepfold of the Jews and Gentiles, under one Shepherd. Seeing, therefore, that antichrist is known, which hath seduced the nations, then shall the elect, after that they have forsaken the errors of their Gentility, come, through the light of God's word, to the perfection of the gospel, and that same seducer shall be slain with the sword of God's word: so that by these things it doth partly appear unto me, why that at this time, rather than at any other time, this matter of antichrist is moved.
"And why that this motion is come to pass in this kingdom, rather than in other kingdoms, methinks there is good reason; because that no nation of the Gentiles was so soon converted unto Christ as were the Britons, the inhabitants of this kingdom. For to other places of the world there were sent preachers of the faith, who, by the working of miracles, and continual preaching of the word of God, and by grievous passion and death of the body, did convert the people of those places; but, in this kingdom, in the time of Lucius, the king of the Britons, and of Eleutherius, bishop of the Romans, did Lucius hear from the Romans, who were infidels, (by the way of rumours and tales,) of the Christian faith which was preached at Rome. Who believed straightways, and sent to Rome, to Eleutherius, for men skilful to inform him more fully in the very faith itself; at whose coming he was joyful, and was baptized, with his whole kingdom. And, after the receiving of the faith, they never forsook it, neither for any manner false preaching of other, neither for any manner of torments, or yet assaults of the Painims, as in other kingdoms it hath come to pass. And thus it seemeth to me the Britons, amongst other nations, have been, as it were by the special election of God, called and converted to the faith of Christ.
"Of them, as me seemeth, did Isaiah prophesy, saying, For they did see, to whom there was nothing told of him, and they did behold, that had not heard of him. And again, Behold, thou shalt call a nation which thou knowest not; and nations that have not known thee shall run unto thee; for the Lord thy God, and the Holy One of Israel, shall glorify thee.
"Of this kingdom did St. John in the Apocalypse prophesy, (as me seemeth,) where he said, The dragon stood before the woman, which was about to be delivered of a child, to the intent that when she had brought it forth into the world, he might devour up her son: and she brought forth her child, which was a man-child, who should govern all nations with an iron rod. And the same son was taken up to God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they may feed her one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And again, in the same chapter, after that the dragon saw that he was cast out upon the earth, he did persecute the woman, which brought forth the man-child. And there were given to the woman two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness into her place, where she is fostered up for a time, times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent did cast, as it were, a flood of water after the woman, to the intent that he might cause her to be drowned by the flood; and the earth, opening her mouth, did help the woman, and did swallow up the flood which the dragon did cast out of his mouth. Let us see how these sayings may be applied unto this kingdom rather than to other kingdoms. It is well known that this kingdom is a wilderness or a desert place, because that the philosophers and wise men did not pass upon it, but did leave it for a wilderness and desert, because it is placed without the climates.
"Unto this place fled the woman; that is to say, the church, (which by faith did spiritually bring forth Christ into the world,) where she was fed with the heavenly bread, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, seeing that for so many days, taking a day for a year, the Britons continued in the faith of Christ; which thing cannot be found so of any Christian kingdom, but of this desert. And well it is said, that she flew to this place. For from the East came the faith into Britain, not by walking in journey, nor yet by sailing; for then should it have come by Rome, Italy, Almaine, or France, which cannot be found: and therefore she flew over those plates, and rested not in them, even as a bird, flying over a place, resteth not in the same, but resteth in this wilderness for a time, times, and half a time, that is, one thousand two hundred and sixty years, from the first coming of the faith into Britain until this present.
"In saying for a time, times, and half a time, there is a going forward from the greater to the less. The greatest time that we name, is one thousand years; there is a time; and the next time, that is less, in the singular number, is one hundred years. In the plural number, "times" signify that there be more hundreds than one, at least two hundred years. Wherefore, if they be put under a certain number, it must needs be that they be two; but the same two cannot fitly be called some times, except they be hundreds. For in that, that there is a going down from the greater to the less, when it is said a time, times, and half a time, and that the number of one thousand is likely assigned for a time, it must needs follow, that times must be taken for hundreds, and half a time for sixty, because it is the greater half of a hundred years, though that fifty be the even half.
"And when that the serpent sent the water of the persecution after the woman to cause her to be drowned of the flood, then did the earth, that is to say, the stableness of faith, help the woman, by supping up the water of tribulation. For in the most cruel persecution of Dioclesian and Maximian against the Christians, when Christianity was almost every where rooted out, yet did they, in this kingdom, stand continually in the faith unmovable. And so, considering that the Britons were converted to the faith of Christ, as you would say, by an election and picking out amongst all the nations of the heathen, and that, after they had received the faith, they did never start back from the faith for no manner of tribulation; it is not to be marvelled, if, in their place, the calling of the Gentiles be made manifest, to the profiting of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by the revealing of antichrist.
"But besides this, me seemeth that Ezekiel doth specially speak of them, where he speaketh of the fall of the prince of Tyre, saying; Forasmuch as thy heart is lifted up, as if it were the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring upon thee some of the strongest of the heathen; and they shall draw their naked swords upon the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy comeliness, and they shall slay thee, and pull thee out; and thou shalt die in the slaughter of the slain persons, in the heart of the sea.
"This prince, who saith that he himself is God, and doth sit in God's chair in the heart of the sea, doth signify, as most likely it seemeth to me, that antichrist shall be destroyed by the most mighty persons of the Gentile folk, through the sword of the word of God; because that amongst the other Gentiles there have been none more strong than the Britons, either in their body or their faith; and, in their bodily wars, there have been none more mighty than they, for never in wars have they been vanquished, but by their own sedition or treason. But how many kingdoms have they conquered! Yea, and neither by the most mighty city of Rome could they be driven out of their kingdom, until that God sent upon them pestilence and famine; whereby they, being wasted, were compelled to leave their country; which thing I have not heard of any other people. Now, in the faith, have they been amongst all the people the strongest, as is before said, because that by no tribulation could they be compelled to forsake the faith.
"Wherefore of them this seemeth to me to be understood: Then I will bring upon thee some of the strongest people, and they shall draw their naked swords, &c. By these things it may plainly appear, why at this time (rather than in time past) this matter is stirred up; and why in this kingdom (rather than in other kingdoms) the calling of the Gentiles is treated of, to the verifying of the gospel, through the disclosing of antichrist.
"But forasmuch as many tales and fables are told of antichrist and his coming, and many things, which do rather seduce than instruct the hearers, are applied to him out of the Scriptures of the prophets, we will briefly write those things which are spoken of him, and we will show that the same fable sprang from the error of people imagining, and from no truth of the Scriptures prophesying. Now then they do say, that antichrist shall be born in Babylon of the tribe of Dan, and conceived of the mixture of man and woman in sin, because that Christ was born of a virgin, and conceived of the Holy Ghost. They say, that he shall be an ill-favoured personage, because that it is written of Christ, Comely and beautiful is he, beyond the sons of men. They say, that he shall preach three years and a half where Christ preached; and that he shall circumcise himself, and say that he is Christ and the Messias, sent for the salvation of the Jews. And they say, that he shall three manner of ways seduce the people; by false miracles, gifts, and torments; so that whom he shall not be able to overcome with miracles nor with gifts, those shall he go about to overcome with divers kinds of torments; and those that he shall seduce, will he mark with his tokens in their forehead or hands. He shall sit in the temple of God, and cause himself to be worshipped as God. He shall fight (as they say) with the two witnesses of Christ, Enoch and Elijah, and shall kill them; and he himself shall finally be slain with lightning. To this imagined man of their own imagination, but of none of the prophets foreshowed, (at least in no such wise as this is,) do they apply the prophets, as this of Daniel: When that continual sacrifice shall be taken away, and abomination shall be placed to desolation: that is, (say they,) when the worshipping of God shall be taken away, and desolation (to wit, antichrist) shall abominably show forth himself to be worshipped, then shall there be one thousand two hundred and ninety days; that is to say, three years and a half: and this time do they say is the time, times, and half a time. And when it is said in Daniel, Blessed is he that looketh for and cometh to one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days; this, do they say, is thus to be understood: forty-five days of repentance to such as have worshipped antichrist; which forty-five days added to the one thousand two hundred and ninety, make one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days: which days they that shall reach unto shall be called blessed.
"They apply also to this antichrist, this saying of the Apocalypse, I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, who had power given him to make forty-two months: which months (as they say) do make three years and a half, in which antichrist shall reign. And many other things there are told, and applied unfitly to this imagined antichrist, that are not truly grounded upon the Scriptures.
Now let us show the errors of this fable. First of all, if there shall come such a one, (saying expressly that he is Christ,) what Christian would be seduced by him, though he should do never so many miracles? Neither shall he come after the manner of a seducer, which shall show himself an express adversary. Neither is it likely that the Jews can be seduced by such a one, seeing that Christ is not promised unto them of the stock of Dan by any of the prophets, but of the stock of Judah; nor yet is he promised to them to be a king warlike, but peaceable, taking war away, and not making war. For of Christ saith Isaiah, And in the last days shall there be prepared the mountain of the house of the Lord, in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and to it shall all the nations have great recourse, and many people shall go and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he shall teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths. For out of Zion shall there go a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he shall judge the nations, and reprove much people. And they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into scythes. There shall not a nation lift up itself against another nation, nor yet shall they be any more exercised to war. And again, A little babe is born to us, and a son is given to us, and his imperial kingdom upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, The great Counsellor, The mighty God, The Father of the world to come, The Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of his peace. He shall sit upon the seat of David, and upon his kingdom; that he may make it stedfast and strong in judgment and in justice, from henceforth and for evermore. Zechariah doth say of Christ, Rejoice thou greatly, O thou daughter Zion! be thou exceeding merry, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold, thy king shall come a righteous person and a Saviour unto thee, and yet he a poor man, and getting up upon an ass, even upon a young colt of the she-ass. And I will scatter abroad the chariot of Ephraim, and the horse of Jerusalem; and the bow of war shall be dispersed, and he shall speak peace to the nations, and his power shall be from the sea to the sea, and from the flood unto the borders of the earth.
"By which things it is manifest, that the wise Jews knew well enough Christ to be promised to them of the stock of Judah, and not of the stock of Dan; and that he was given all to peace, and not to war: therefore it is not likely that they can be seduced by such a one. But if there should have been, in time to come, some such singular antichrist, then would Christ (seeing he loved his) have said somewhat unto them of him. Now, of one singularly doth he not speak, but of many, saying, Many shall come in my name, and say, I am Christ; and they shall seduce many persons. But now let us see how the prophecies in Daniel, and in the Apocalypse, aforesaid, be falsely and erroneously applied to the same imagined antichrist. For in Daniel, chap. ix., thus it is written: And after seventy-two weeks shall Christ be slain, and they which will deny him shall not be his people. And the city and sanctuary shall a people, with their captain that shall come with them, destroy; whose end shall be utter desolation, and after the end of the war a determined destruction. Now he shall in one week confirm his covenant towards many, and in the half week shall the offering and sacrifice cease; and in the temple shall there be an abomination of desolation; and even to the fulfilling up of all, and to the end shall the desolation continue. It is plain and manifest that this prophecy is now fulfilled. For the people of Rome, with their captain, destroyed Jerusalem even to the ground, and the people of the Jews were slain and scattered. And the abomination, that is, the idol of desolation, was placed of Adrian, in the last destruction, in Jerusalem, in the holy place, that is to say, in a place of the temple. And from that time hitherto have passed near about twelve hundred and ninety days, taking a day for a year, as Daniel takes it in his prophecies, and other prophets likewise. For Daniel, speaking of sixty-two weeks, doth not speak of the weeks of days, but of years. So, therefore, when he saith, From the time that the continual sacrifice was taken away, &c., twelve hundred and ninety days must be taken for so many years, from the time of the desolation of Jerusalem, even unto the revealing of antichrist; and not for three years and a half, which, they say, antichrist shall reign. And again, whereas Daniel said, How long till the end of these marvellous matters? It was answered him, For a time, and times, and half a time. Behold also, how unfitly they did assign this time, by three years and a half, which they say antichrist shall reign. For when it is said a time, times, and half a time; there is a going downward from the greater to the less, from the whole to the part, because it is from a time to half a time. If, therefore, there be a going downward from the whole to the part, by the midst, (which is greater than the whole itself,) the going downward is not meet nor agreeing. And this is done when it is said, that a time, times, and half a time, is a year, two years, and half a year. Wherefore more fitly it is said, that a time, times, and half a time, doth signify twelve hundred and ninety years, as is before said in the chapter preceding. Thus therefore is the prophecy of Daniel falsely applied to that imagined antichrist.
"Likewise is the process of the Apocalypse applied to the same imagined antichrist too much erroneously. Because that the same cruel beast which came up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, to whom there was power given over every tribe, people, and tongue; and the power given for the space of forty-two months: this beast doth note the Roman emperors, which most cruelly did persecute the people of God, as well Christians as Jews. For when the condemnation of the great whore sitting upon the many waters was showed to John, he saw the same woman sitting upon the purple-coloured beast, full of the names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns; and he saw a woman being drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. And the angel, expounding and telling him the mystery of the woman and the beast that carried her, said, That seven heads are seven hills, and are seven kings: five are fallen; one is, the other is not yet come: and when he shall come, he must reign a short time. And the ten horns which thou sawest, are ten kings, who have not yet taken their kingdom, shall receive their power as it were in one hour under the beast. And, finally, he saith, The woman whom thou sawest is the great city, which hath the kingdom over the kings of the earth. And it is manifest that the city of Rome, at the time of this prophecy, had the kingdom over the kings of the earth. And this city was borne up and upholden by her cruel and beastly emperors; who, by their cruelty and beastliness, did subdue unto themselves, in a manner, all the kingdoms of the world; of zeal to have lordship over others, and not virtuously to govern the people that were their subjects, seeing that they themselves did lack all virtue, and drew back others from the faith, and from virtue.
"Wherefore that cruel beast coming up out of the sea, doth rightly note the Roman emperors, who had power over every language, people, and country. And the power of the beast was for forty-two months, because that from the first emperor of Rome, that is to say, Julius Cæsar, unto the end of Frederic, the last emperor of Rome, there were forty-two months, taking a month for thirty days, as the months of the Hebrews and Grecians are, and taking a day always for a year, as commonly it is taken in the prophets. By which things it may plainly appear how unfitly this prophecy is applied to that imagined antichrist; and the forty-two months taken for three years and a half, which they say he shall reign in, against the saying of the prophets, because that days are taken for years. As in the 2nd of the Apocalypse, They shall be troubled ten days; which do note the most cruel persecution of Dioclesian against the Christians, that endured ten years. And in another place of the Apocalypse it is written of the smoke coming up out of the bottomless pit: out of which pit there came forth grasshoppers into the earth, and to them was power given, as scorpions have power, to vex and trouble men five months. Now, it is manifest, that from the beginning of the Friars Minors and Preachers, to the time that Armachanus began to disclose and uncover their hypocrisy, and their false foundation of valiant begging under the poverty of Christ, were five months, taking a month for thirty days, and a day for a year: and to Ezekiel were days given for years. Wherefore it is an unfit thing to assign the forty-two months, being appoint.ed to the power of the beast, unto three years and a half, for the reign of that fantastical and imagined antichrist; especially seeing that they do apply to his reign the twelve hundred and ninety days in Daniel, which make forty-two months, and in the Apocalypse they assign him forty-two months. It is plain that the psaltery and the harp agree not. And, therefore, seeing that it is sufficiently showed that the same fabling tale of that imagined antichrist to come, is a fable and erroneous; let us go forward to declare whether antichrist be already come, and yet is he hid from many, and must be opened and disclosed within a Iittle while, according to the truth of the Holy Scripture, for the salvation of the faithful.
"And because that in the first conclusion of mine answer I have conditionally put it, Who is that antichrist lying privy in the hid Scriptures of the prophets? I will pass on to the declaration of that conclusion, bringing to light those things which lay hid in darkness, because nothing is hid which shall not be disclosed, and nothing covered which shall not be known. And therefore the thing which was said in the darkness, let us say in the light; and the thing that we have heard in the ear, let us preach upon the house-tops. I, therefore, as I have before said, so say, that if the high bishop of Rome, calling himself the servant of God, and the chief vicar of Christ in this world, do make and justify many laws contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, then is he the chief of many, which, coming in the name of Christ, have said, I am Christ; who have seduced many: which is the first part of the first conclusion, and is manifest; for Christ is called of the Hebrews the very same that we call anointed; and amongst them there was a double sort of legal anointing by the law, the one of kings, and the other of priests; and as well were the kings, as the priests, called in the law Christs. The kings, as in the Psalm, The kings of the earth stood up together, and the princes assembled themselves in one against the Lord, and against his Christ or Anointed. And in the Books of the Kings, very often are the kings called Christs; and our Saviour was Christ, or anointed King, because he was a King for evermore upon the throne of David, as the Scriptures do very oftentimes witness. The priests also were called anointed, as where it is written, Do not ye touch my Christs, that is, mine anointed ones, and be not ye spiteful against my prophets. And so was our Saviour Christ a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedec.
Seeing then that the bishops of Rome do say that they are the high priests, they say also therein that they are kings, because they say that they have the spiritual sword pertaining to their priesthood, and the corporal sword which agreeth for a king's state. So is it plain, that really and in very deed, they say that they are Christs, albeit that expressly they be not called Christs. Now, that they come in the name of Christ is manifest, because they say that they are his principal vicars in this world, ordained of Christ specially for the government of the Christian church. Therefore, seeing they say that really and in very deed they are Christs, and the chief friends of Christ; if they make and justify many laws contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ, then is it plain that they themselves in earth are the principal antichrists, because there is no worse plague and pestilence than a familiar enemy. And if in secret they be against Christ, and yet in open appearance they say that they are his friends, they are so much the more meet to seduce and deceive the Christian people; because that a manifest enemy shall have much ado to deceive a man, because men trust him not; but a privy enemy, pretending, outward friendship, may easily seduce, yea, those that be wise.
"But that this matter may the more fully be known, let us see what is the law and doctrine of Christ, that ought to be observed of all faithful people; which being known, it shall be an easy thing to see, if the bishop of Rome do make or maintain any laws contrary to the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"I say then, that the law of Christ is charity, which is the perfect love of God and of Christ. This thing is plain and manifest. For Christ being demanded of a certain doctor of the law, What is the greatest commandment in the law? answered: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind: that is the principal and greatest commandment. And as for the second, it is like unto this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thine own self. On these two commandments the whole law and prophets depend. And in another place Christ saith, All manner of things, therefore, that you would that men should do to you, the same also do ye unto them, for this is the law and the prophets. And in John xiii. Christ saith, And now do I say unto you, I give you a new commandment, that you should love each other; as I loved you, in like manner that you also should love one another. In this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you shall have love one towards another. And John xv., This is my commandment, that you love together as I have loved you. Greater love than this hath nobody, that a man should give his life for his friends. The apostle Peter saith, in his First Epistle, chap. iv., Above all things having continually charity one towards another; for charity covereth the multitude of sins. Be ye harbourers, and entertain ye one another without grudging: every one as he hath received grace, so let him bestow it upon another man, as the good stewards of the manifold graces of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the word of God. If any man do aught for another, let it be done with singleness and unfeigned verity, ministered of God to usward, that in all things God may be honoured through Jesus Christ our Lord. James, in his Epistle, chap. ii.: If ye perform the royal law accordingly to the Scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, ye do well; but if ye be partial in receiving and preferring men's personages, ye work wickedness, being blamed of the law as transgressors. And again, So speak ye, and so do ye, as ye should now begin to be judged by the law of liberty. What shall it avail, my brethren, if a man say he have faith and have no works? Never shall the faith be able to save him. For if a brother or sister be naked, and have need of daily food, and some of you say to them, Go ye in peace, be ye made warm and satisfied; and if ye shall not give those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it avail? Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself.
"John, in his First Epistle, chap. iii., This is the tidings which you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another. And again, We know that we are translated from death to life, if we love the brethren: he that loveth not, abideth in death. And again, Herein do we know the love of God, because that he hath laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our life for the brethren. He that shall have the substance of this world, and shall see his brother have need, and shall shut up his bowels from him, how abideth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word nor tongue, but in deed and truth. And again, 4th chapter: Most dearly beloved, let us love together. For love is of God; he that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. In this thing hath the love of God appeared in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we should live by him. Herein is love; not that we have loved God, but that he hath first loved us, and hath sent his Son an atonement for our sins. Most dearly beloved, if God have loved us, we so ought to love together. No man hath seen God at any time; if we love together, God abideth in us, and his love is perfect in us. And again, Let us love God, for he hath first loved us. If a man shall say, I love God, and do hate his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment have we of God, that whoso loveth God, should love his brother also. Paul the apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, the 13th chapter: Owe ye nothing to nobody, saving that you should love together, for he that loveth his brother hath fulfilled the law. For thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods; and if there be any other commandment, it is plentifully fulfilled in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Wherefore the fulfilling of the law is love.
"Paul to the Corinthians, the 13th chapter, saith, If I should speak with the tongues of men and angels, and yet have not charity, I am become as it were a piece of sounding metal or tinkling cymbal. And if I shall have all prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and shall have all faith, so that I might remove mountains, and yet shall not have charity, I am nothing. And if I shall give abroad all my goods to feed the poor, and shall give up my body to be burned, and yet have not charity, it profits me nothing. To the Galatians, chap. v., saith Paul, For you, my brethren, are called unto liberty; do ye not give your liberty for an occasion of the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve ye one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thine own self. To the Ephesians, 4th chapter, he saith, I therefore that suffer bonds in the Lord do beseech you, that you would walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called, with all humbleness and mildness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, being careful to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; that you be onebody and one spirit, even as you be called in one hope of your calling. And again in the 5th chapter, Be ye followers of me as most dear children, and walk ye in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered up himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God of a sweet savour. To the Philippians, thus he speaketh, in the first chapter: Only let your conversation be worthy of the gospel of Christ, that either when I shall come and see you, or else in mine absence I may hear of you, that you stand stedfast in one spirit, labouring together with one accord for the faith of the gospel. And in nothing be ye afraid of the adversaries, which is to them a cause of damnation, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For to you it is given, not only that you should believe in him, but also that you should suffer with him, you having the like fight and battle that both you have seen in me, and also now do hear of me. If therefore there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels of compassion, fulfil you my joy, that you may be of one judgment, having one and the selfsame charity, being of one accord, of one manner of judgment, doing nothing of contention nor of vain-glory, but in humbleness accounting other amongst you, every one, better than yourselves; not everybody looking upon the things that be his own, but those that belong unto others. And to the Colossians, 3rd chapter, thus he writeth, You therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put upon you the bowels of mercy, gentleness, humbleness, lowliness, modesty, patience, bearing one with another, and giving place to yourselves: if any have a quarrel against any body, even as the Lord forgave you, so do you also. Above all things have ye charity, which is the bond of perfection, and let the peace of Christ triumph in your hearts, in which pcace you also are called in one body; and be ye kin and thankful. And to the Thessalonians, thus Paul writeth, in his First Epistle, chap. iv.: As concerning brotherly charity we have no need to write unto you; for you yourselves have learned of God, that you should love one another. And the same thing ye do towards all the brethren throughout all Macedonia.
"Out of all these and many other places of the Holy Scripture it sufficiently appeareth, that the law of Christ is charity; neither is there any virtue commanded of Christ, or any of his apostles, to be observed of the faithful people, but that it cometh out of charity, or else doth nourish charity.
"The law is given by Moses, and the truth by Christ. Christ came not to unloose the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. But yet many things were lawful and might have been observed in the time of the law, which in the time of grace must not be observed. And many things were unlawful to them that were under the law, which in the time of grace are lawful enough. After what sort then he did not loose the law, but did fulfil it, it is necessary to declare, for those things which hereafter must be said; for amongst Christians many things are judged to be lawful, because in the former testament in the law they were lawful, and yet they be expressly contrary to Christ's gospel. But the authors of such things do argue and reason thus, Christ came not to loose the law or the prophets. Now, after what sort he did not unloose them it is manifest by the Holy Scripture; that the law given by Moses, was written in tables of stone, to declare the hardness of the people's heart towards the love of God, or of Christ. But Christ hath written his law in the hearts and in the minds of his; that is to say, the law of perfect love of God, and of Christ; which law, whosoever observeth, he doth observe the law of Moses, and doth much greater works of perfection, than were the works of the law. Thus, therefore, were the morals of the old law fulfilled in the law of charity of Christ, and not unloosed; because they are much more perfectly observed, than of the Jews: this I say, if the Christians do observe the commandments of Christ in such sort as he commanded the same to be observed. Christ hath fulfilled the laws moral of the Old Testament, because that the morals and judicials were ordained, that one person should not do injury to another, and that every man should have paid him that is his. Now they that are in charity, will do no injury to others, neither do they take other men's goods away from them. Nay, it seeketh not her own things; for charity seeketh not the things that be her own. Wherefore much less by a stronger reason it ought not to seek for other men's goods. And when the judicials and morals were ordained, Christ did not by the works of the law justify the believers in him, but by grace justified them from their sins. And so did Christ fulfil that by grace, that the law could not by justice.
"Paul to the Romans declareth in a godly discourse, and to the Galatians likewise, that none shall be justified by the works of the law, but by gracc in the faith of Jesus Christ. As for the morals and ceremonies of the law, as circumcision, sacrifices for offences and for sins, first-fruits, tenths, vows, divers sorts of washings, the sprinkling of blood, the sprinkling of ashes, abstaining from unclean meats, which are ordained for the sanctifying and cleansing of the people from sin; no, nor yet the prayers of the priests, neither the preachings of the prophets, could cleanse a man from his sin. For death reigned even from Adam to Moses, and sin from Moses to Christ, as Paul declareth to the Romans, in the fifth chapter. But Christ, willing to have mercy and not sacrifice, being a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, and a High Priest of good things to come, did neither by the blood of goats nor calves, but by his own blood, enter in once into the holy places, when everlasting redemption was found: neither did Jesus enter into the holy places that were made with hands, which are the examples of true things, but unto the very heaven, that now he may appear before the countenance of God for us. Nor yet he did so, that he should offer up himself oftentimes, as the high bishop entered into the holy place every year with strange blood (for otherwise he must needs have suffered oftentimes since the beginning of the world); but now, in the latter end of the world, hath he once appeared by his own sacrifice, for the destruction of sin. And, like as it is decreed for men once to die, and after that cometh judgment, even so was Christ once offered up to consume away the sins of many. The second time shall he appear without sin to the salvation of such as look for him. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image or substance itself of the things, can never by those sacrifices which they offer (of one selfsame sort continually, year by year) make them perfect that come unto her. Otherwise men would leave off offering, because that those worshippers, being once cleansed, should have no more prick of conscience for sin afterwards. But in them is there remembrance made of sins every year. For it is impossible, that by the blood of goats and bulls sins should be taken away. Wherefore he, entering into the world, doth say, As for sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not have, but a body hast thou framed unto me: and sacrifices for sin have not pleased thee. Then said I, Behold, I come; in the head, or principal part, of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will, O God. Wherefore he said before, that sacrifices, oblations, and burnt-offerings, and that for sin, thou wouldst not have; neither were those things pleasant to thee which are offered according to the law: then said I, Behold, I come, that I may do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish that that followed. In which will we are sanctified and made holy by the offering up of the body of Jesus Christ once. And verily every priest is ready every day ministering, and oftentimes offering the selfsame sacrifices, which never can take away sins. But this man, offering one sacrifice for sins, doth for ever and ever sit at God's right hand, looking for the rest to come, till that his enemies be placed to be his footstool. For with one offering hath he for ever made perfect those that be sanctified. By which things it plainly appeareth, that Christ by once offering hath cleansed him from their sins, who could not be cleansed from the same by all the ceremonies of the law, and so did fulfil that which the priesthood of the law could. Wherefore only the morals and judicials he fulfilled by the law of charity, and by grace; and the ceremonials, by one offering up of his body on the altar of the cross. And so it is plain that Christ fulfilled the whole law.
"Wherefore since that the holy things of the law were a shadow of those things that were to come in the time of grace, it were meet that all those things should utterly cease amongst Christians, which should either be against charity or the grace of Christ. Although in the time of the law they were lawful, and not utterly contrary to it, but were figures of perfections in Christ's faith; yet it were meet that they should cease at the coming of the perfection which they did prefigurate; as circumcision, the eating of the paschal lamb, and other ceremonial points of the law. Whereupon also, Paul to the Hebrews, chap. vii., saith thus, If, therefore, the making up of the perfection of all, was by the Levitical priesthood, (for the people received the law under him,) why was it necessary besides that another Priest should rise up after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is removed, it must needs be that the law also be removed. For he in whom these things are spoken, is of another tribe, of which none stood present at the altar; because it is manifest that our Lord had his offspring of Judah, in which tribe Moses spake nothing of the priests. And besides this, it is manifest, if, according to the order of Melchisedec, there do rise up another Priest, which was not made according to the law of the carnal commandment, but according to the power of the life that cannot be lost. For thus he beareth witness, that thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec: so that the commandment that went before, is disallowed for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, for the law hath brought nobody to perfection. By which things it appeareth that Christ, making an end of the priesthood of Aaron, doth also make up a full end of the law belonging to that priesthood. Whereupon I marvel that your learned men do say, that Christian folks are bound to this small ceremony of the payment of tithes, and care nothing at all for other, as well the great as the small ceremonics of the law.
"It is plain that the tithes were given to the sons of Levi, for their serving in the tabernacle and in the temple of the Lord, as the first-fruits were givento the priests, and also part of the sacrifices; and so were the vows of their ministry, as it appeareth in the book of Numbers, chap. xxii. But forasmuch as the labour of those sacrifices did cease at the coming of Christ, how should those things be demanded, which were ordained for that labour? And seeing that the first-fruits were not demanded of Christians, which first-fruits were then rather and sooner demanded than the tithes; why must the tithes be demanded, except it be therefore, peradventure, because that the tithes be more worth in value than be the first-fruits?
"Secondly, why are the lay people bound to the payment of tithes, more than the Levites and the priests were to the not having of possessions of realties and lordships amongst their brethren, seeing that the selfsame law, in the selfsame place, (where he saith that the tithes ought to be given to Levites,) saith also to the Levites, You shall be contented with the offering of the tithes, and have none other thing amongst your brethren. Wherefore seeing that the priests be bound to the not having of temporal lordships, how are the lay people bound by that law (of God he meaneth, and not of man) to the payment of tithes?
"Thirdly, as touching circumcision, which is one of the greater ceremonies of the law, and was given before the law, and was a universal ceremony concerning the covenant between God and his people, and was so much regarded in the law, that thereof it was said, The soul, whose flesh shall not be circumcised in the foreskin, shall perish from amongst his people: yet did this ceremony utterly cease at the coming of Christ, although that certain of the Jews did say in the primitive church, that the Christians must needs keep the commandment of circumcision with the faith; whom Paul reproveth, writing thus to the Galatians, chap. iv., where he speaketh of the children of the bond-woman and of the free-woman, which do signify the two testaments: But we, O brethren, are the children of the promise after Isaac; but like as at that time, he that was born after the flesh did persecute him which was after the spirit, even so it is now also. But what saith the Scripture? Throw out the bond-woman and her son. The son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. Wherefore, brethren, we are not the sons of the bondwoman, but of the free. Stand ye stedfast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath delivered you, and be not ye holden again under the yoke of slavery. Behold, I Paul say unto you, if you be circumcised, Christ shall nothing profit you. For I testify again, to every man that circumciseth himself, that he is bound to keep all the whole law. Ye are utterly void of Christ: whosoever will be justified in the law, are fallen from grace.
"In like manner we may reason, if we be bound to tithing, we are debtors and bound to keep all the whole law. For to say that men are bound to one ceremony of the law, and not to the others, is no reasonable saying. Either, therefore, we are bound to them all, or to none. Also, that by the same old law men are not bound to pay tithes, it may be showed by many reasons, which we need not any more to multiply and increase, because these things that be said are sufficient. Whereupon some do say that by the gospel we are bound to pay tithes, because Christ said to the Pharisees, Matt. xxiii., Woe be to you scribes and Pharisees, which pay your tithe of mint, of anise seed, and of cummin, and leave judgment, mercy, and truth undone, being the weightier things of the law! both should ye have done these things, and also not have left the other undone. O ye blind guides, that strain out a gnat, and swallow up a camel. This word soundeth not as a commandment or manner of bidding, whereby Christ did command tithes to he given; but it is a word of disallowing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, who, of covetousness, did weigh and esteem tithes because of their own singular commodity, rather than other great and weighty commandments of the law. And me seemeth that our men are in the same predicament of the Pharisees, which do leave off all the ceremonies of the old law, keeping only the commandment of tithing. It is manifest and plain enough by the premises, and by other places of the Scripture, that Christ was a priest after the order of Melchisedec, of the tribe of Judah, not of the tribe of Levi; who gave no new commandment of tithing of any thing to him and to his priests, whom he would place after him; but when his apostles said to him, Behold, we leave all things and have followed thee, what then shall we have; he did not answer them thus, Tithes shall be paid you; neither did he promise them a temporal, but an everlasting reward in heaven. For he both for for food, and also apparel, taught his disciples not to be careful: Be ye not careful for your life, what ye shall eat, or for your body, what ye shall put on: is not the life of man more worth than the meat, and the body more worth than apparel? Behold ye the birds of heaven, which do not sow, nor reap, neither yet lay up in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. And as for apparel, why should you be careful? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they labour not, neither do they spin, &c. In conclusion he saith, Be not ye careful, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be covered? For all these things do the Gentiles seek after; for your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things. First, therefore, seek ye for the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be cast unto you. And Paul, right well remembering this doctrine, instructeth Timothy, and saith thus, But we having food, and wherewithal to be covered, let us therewith be contented. And as the Acts of the Apostles do declare in the first conversion of the Jews at Jerusalem, they had all things common, and to every one was division made, as need required. Neither did the priests make the tithes their own proper goods. For like as it was not meet that the lay people, being converted, should have propriety of goods, even so neither that priests should have propriety of tithes. So that if the priests started back from fervent charity in challenging to themselves the propriety of tithes; it is no marvel of departing backward (as do the priests from the perfection of charity) also of the laity, to be willing to appropriate to themselves the nine parts remaining after tithes. Wherefore seeing that neither Christ, nor any of the apostles, commanded to pay tithes; it is manifest and plain, neither by the law of Moses, nor by Christ's law, Christian people are bound to pay tithes; but by the tradition of men they are bound.
"By the premises now it is plain, that Christ did not undo the law, but by grace did fulfil it. Notwithstanding, in the law many things were lawful which in the time of grace are forbidden; and many things were then unlawful, which now are lawful enough. For nothing that is contrary to charity, is lawful to a Christian.
"Let us now hear what manner of commandments Christ hath given us in the gospel, without the observation of which commandments, charity shall not perfectly be kept. By which commandments Christ did not undo the old law, but did fulfil it. By the observation also of which commandments, he teacheth us to pass and go beyond the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, who most perfectly thought themselves to keep the law. This absolute and perfect righteousness, which we are bound to have beyond the righteousness of the Pharisees and the scribes, he teacheth in Matt. v. -- vii., which being heard and compared to the traditions made and commanded by the Roman prelates, it shall plainly appear, whether they be contrary or no. Christ therefore saith, You have heard, that it was said to them of the old time, Thou shalt not kill; for he that killeth shall be guilty of judgment. But I say unto you, that every one that is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment. In this he doth teach that we ought not to be angry with our brethren; not that he would undo this old commandment (Thou shalt not kill); but that the same should be the more perfectly observed. Again, he saith, You have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy friend and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, do well to them that hate you, pray for them that persecute and slander you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; which maketh his sun to arise upon the good and the evil people, and raineth upon the just and unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward shall you have? Do not the publicans thus? And if you shall salute your brethren only, what great thing do ye? do not the heathens thus also? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect, Matt. v. 38 -- 42.
"Again Christ saith: You have heard that it is said, An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, see that you resist not evil; but if any man shall strike you upon the right cheek, give him the other too. And to him that will strive with thee for thy coat in judgment, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall constrain thee one mile, go with him also two other. He that asketh of thee, give him; and he that will borrow of thee, turn not thyself from him, Matt. vi. 38 -- 42.
"By these things it may plainly appear how that Christ, the King of Peace, the Saviour of mankind, who came to save, and not to destroy, who gave a law of charity to be observed of his faithful people, hath taught us not to be angry, not to hate our enemies, nor to render evil for evil, nor to resist evil: for all these things do foster and nourish peace and charity, and do proceed and come forth of charity; and when they be not kept, charity is loosed, and peace is broken. But the bishop of Rome approveth and alloweth wars, and slaughters of men in war, as well against our enemies, that is, the infidels, as also against the Christians, for temporal goods. Now, these things are quite contrary to Christ's doctrine, and to charity, and to peace.
"In the decree 23. q. 1. cap. Paratus, it is taught, that the precepts of patience must always be retained in purpose of the heart; so that patience, with benevolence, must be kept in the mind secret. But apparently and manifestly that thing should be done which seemeth to do good to those whom we ought to wish well unto; wherein they give to understand, that a Christian may freely defend himself. And for confirmation of this saying they do say, that Christ, when he was stricken on the face of the high bishop's servant, did not fulfil (if we look upon the words) his own commandment; because he gave not to the smiter the other part, but rather did forbid him, that he should not do it, to double his injury. For he said, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why dost thou strike me? I do marvel of this saying, for, first, if those commandments of patience must be kept in secret in the mind, and seeing the body doth work at the motion of the mind, and is and ought to be moved and ruled by the same, it must then needs be, that if patience be in the mind, it must appear also outwardly in the body.
"Secondly, I marvel that it is said, that Christ did not fulfil his own precept of patience: for it is manifest, that albeit he, teaching always as a good schoolmaster those things which were fit for the salvation of souls, speaking the wholesome word of instruction to the high bishop's servant smiting him unjustly, did neither by word forbid another stroke to be given on the other cheek, neither did he defbnd himself bodily from striking on the same cheek; but, speaking to him, it is likely that he gave him the other cheek; he meaneth, that he turned not the other cheek away. For a man turneth not away from him whom he speaketh to, or whom he informeth, but layeth open before him all his face; even so do I believe that Christ did, that he might fulfil in very deed that which before he had taught in word. Neither yet did Christ, by his word, or by his deed, show any thing of defence, or of bodily resistance.
"Thirdly, I marvel why wise men, leaving the plain and manifest doctrine of Christ, whereby he teacheth patience, do leave corners of their own imagining, to the intent they may approve fightings and wars. Why mark they not after what manner Christ spake to Peter, striking the high bishop's servant, saying, Put up thy sword into the sheath, for every one that shall take the sword, shall perish with the sword? But in another case we must make resistance; which case may be so righteous, as it is for a man's lord and master being a most righteous man, and yet suffering injury of mischievous persons.
"Fourthly, I marvel, seeing that we are bound of charity, and by the law of Christ, to give our lives for our brethren, how they can allow such manner of dissensions, and resisting; for when thy brother shall maliciously strike thee, thou mayst be sure, that he is manifestly fallen from charity, into the snare of the devil. If thou shalt keep patience, he shall be ashamed of his doing, and thou mayst bow and bend him to repentance, and take him out from the snare of the devil, and call him back again to charity. If thou resist, and perchance by resisting dost strike again, his fury shall be the more kindled, and he, being stirred up to greater wrath, peradventure shall either slay thee, or thou him. Touching thyself, thou art uncertain, if thou go about to make resistance, whether thou shalt fall from charity, and then shalt thou go backward from the perfection of Christ's commandment; neither dost thou know but that it may happen thee so greatly to be moved, as that by the heat and violence of wrath, thou shalt slay him. Whereas if thou wouldst dispose thyself to patience, (as Christ teacheth,) thou shouldst easily avoid all these mischiefs, as well on the behalf of thy brother, as also of thine own part. Wherefore the observing of charity, as the precept of patience, is to be observed.
"Fifthly, I do marvel why, that for the allowing of this corporal resistance, he doth say in the same chapter, that Paul did not fulfil the precept of the patience of Christ, when he, being stricken in the place of judgment by the commandment of the high priest, did say, God strike thee, O thou painted wall; dost thou sit to judge me according to the law, and dost thou command me to be stricken against the law? It is manifest that Paul made resistance in nothing, though he spake a word of instruction to the priest, who against the law commanded him to be stricken. And if Paul had over-passed the bounds of patience, through the grief of the stroke, what of that? Must the deed of Paul's impatience for this cause be justified, and the commandment of patience taught by Christ be left undone for Paul's deed, and corporal resistance be allowed? God forbid. For both Paul and Peter might err; but in the doctrine of Christ there may be found no error. Wherefore we must give more credence and belief to Christ's sayings, than to any living man's doings. Wherefore although Paul had resisted, which I do not perceive in that scripture, it followeth not thereof, that corporal resistance must be approved, which is of Christ expressly forbidden. I much marvel that always they seek corners and shadows to justify their deeds. Why do they not mark what great things Paul reciteth himself to have suffered for Christ? And where, I pray you, have they found that he, after his conversion, struck any man that did hurt him? Or where do they find that he in express word doth teach such a kind of corporal resistance? But as touching patience, he saith in plain words to the Romans, Be not wise in your own conceits: render ill for ill to nobody; providing good things not only before God, but also before all men, if it be possible. Be at peace with all folks as much as in you lieth; not revenging yourselves, my most dearly beloved, but give you place unto anger; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, and I will recompense them, saith the Lord. But if thine enemy shall be an hungered, give him meat; if he be athirst, give him drink: for thus doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome thou evil with good.
"To the Corinthians, 1 Cor. vi., as touching judgment and contention, which are matters of less weight than are fightings, thus he writeth: Now verily there is great fault in you, that ye be at law amongst yourselves: why rather take ye not wrong? why rather suffer ye not deceit? And generally, in all his epistles, he teacheth that patience should be kept, and not corporal resistance by fighting, because charity is patient, it is courteous, it suffereth all things. I marvel how they justify and make good the wars by Christians, saving only the wars against the devil and sin; for, seeing that it is plain, that those things which were in the Old Testament were figures of things to be done in the New Testament, therefore, we must needs say, that the corporal wars being then done, were figures of the Christian wars against sin and the devil, for the heavenly country which is our inheritance. It is plain that it was written thus of Christ: The mighty Lord, and of great power in battle, hath girded himself in force and manliness to the war; and he came not to send peace into the earth, but war. In this war ought Christian people to be soldiers, according to that manner which Paul teacheth to the Ephesians, chap. vi.: Put upon you the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For we have not to wrestle against flesh and blood, but against princes and potentates, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly things, which are in the high places. Wherefore take ye the armour of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand perfectly in all things. Stand ye, therefore, girded about in truth upon your loins, having put upon you the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod in a readiness to the gospel of peace; in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may quench all the fiery darts of that wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
"By these things it is plain, what are the wars of Christians, and what are the weapons of their warfare. And because it is manifest, that this testament is of greater perfection than the former, we must now fight more perfectly than at that time: for now spiritually, then corporally; now for a heavenly everlasting inheritance, then for an earthly and temporal; now by patience, then by resistance. For Christ saith, Blessed are they that suffer persecution for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. He saith not, Blessed are they that fight for righteousness. How can a man say that they may lawfully make war and kill their brethren for the temporal goods, which peradventure they unjustly occupy, or unjustly intend to occupy? for he that killeth another to get those goods which another body unjustly occupieth, doth love more the very goods than his own brother; and then he, falling from charity, doth kill himself spiritually: if he go forward without charity to make war, then doth he evil, and to his own damnation. Wherefore he doth not lawfully nor justly in proceeding to the damnation of his own self and his brother, whom, though he see unjustly to occupy his goods, yet he doth intend to kill. And what if such kind of wars were lawful to the Jews? this argueth not that now they are lawful to Christians; because that their deeds were in a shadow of imperfection, but the deeds of Christians in the light of perfection. It was not said unto them, All people that shall take the sword, shall perish with the sword. What if John the Baptist disallowed corporal fightings, and corporal warfare, at such time as the soldiers asked him, saying, And what shall we do? who saith to them, See that ye strike no man, neither pick ye quarrels against any, and be ye contented with your wages. This saying of John alloweth not corporal warfare amongst Christians; for John was of the priests of the Old Testament, and under the law; neither to him it appertained not to follow the law, but to warn the people to the perfect observation of the law: for he, being likewise demanded of the publicans what they should do, said unto them, Do no other thing than is appointed unto you. But Christ, the author of the New Testament, and of greater perfection than was the perfection of the old law, gave new things, as it plainly appeareth by the gospel; so that Christians ought to receive information of Christ, not of John. For of John also doth Christ speak, Verily I say unto you, there hath not risen amongst the children of men a greater than John Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. In which saying Christ showeth, that those that the least in the kingdom of heaven in the time of grace, are placed in greater perfection than was John, which was one of them that were the elders; and he lived also in the time of the law in greater perfection. And when certain of John's disciples said unto him, Master, he that was beyond Jordan, to whom thou gavest witness, behold, he baptizeth, and all people come unto him: John answered and said, A man cannot take upon him, unless it shall be given him from above. You yourselves do bear me record, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I was sent before him. He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom; as for the bridegroom's friend, who standeth and heareth him, he rejoiceth with great joy to hear the voice of the bridegroom. This therefore my joy is fulfilled; he must increase, and I must be diminished. He that cometh from on high, is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven, is above all folks; that which he hath seen and heard, the same doth he witness, and yet his witnessing doth nobody receive. But he that receiveth his witnessing, hath put to his seal, that God is true. For he whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God.
"By which things it plainly appeareth, that credence is to be given neither to John, nor yet to an angel, if he teach any thing that is not agreeable to Christ's doctrine. For Christ is above the angels, because that God infinitely passeth them in wisdom. Now, if Moses the servant of God, a minister of the Old Testament., was so much to be believed, that nothing could be added, nor yet any thing diminished from the commandments that were given by him, (for so Moses had said, The thing that I command thee, that do thou only to the Lord, neither add thou any thing, nor diminish,) how much more ought we not to add nor to take away from the commandments given by God himself, and also the Son of God! In the primitive church, because the Christians had fervent love and charity, they observed these precepts as they were given; but their fervent charity afterward waxing lukewarm, they invented glosses by drawing the commandments of God hack to their own deeds, which they purposed to justify and maintain; that is to say, wars against the infidels. But that these, by wars, should be converted to the faith is a deed faithless enough: because that by violence, or unwillingly, nobody can believe in Christ, nor be made a Christian; neither did he come to destroy them by battle that believed not in him; for he said to his disciples, You know not what spirit you are of. The Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. Then to grant pardons and forgiveness of sins to those that kill the infidels, is too much an infidel's fact, seducing many people; for what greater seducing can there be, than to promise to a man forgiveness of sins, and afterward the joy of heaven, for setting himself against Christ's commandments in the killing of infidels, that would not be converted to the faith? whereas Christ doth say, Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, this person shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now the will of the Father is, that we should believe in his only Son Jesus Christ, and that we should obey him by observing of those things which he himself hath commanded. Wherefore Christ's precepts of patience must be fulfilled; wars, fightings, and contentions must be left, because they are contrary to charity.
"But peradventure some man will thus reason against Christ: The saints, by whom God hath wrought miracles, do allow wars against the faithful people, as also against the infidels; and the holy kings were warriors, for whose sakes miracles also have been showed, as well in their death, as also in their life, yea, in the very time wherein they were at warfare: wherefore it seemeth that their facts were good and lawful; for, otherwise, God would not have done miracles for them.
"To this again I say, that we for no miracles must do contrary to the doctrine of Christ, for in it there can be no error; but in miracles there oftentimes chanceth error, as it is plain as well by the Old, as by the New Testament. God forbid then that a Christian should, for deceivable miracles, depart from the infallible doctrine of Christ. In Exodus, chap. vii., it is manifest, how that the wicked wise men of the Egyptians, through the enchantments of Egypt, and certain secret workings, threw their wands upon the earth, which were turned into dragons; even as Aaron, beforetime, in the presence of Pharaoh, threw his wand upon the earth, which, by the power of God, was turned into a serpent. In the first book of Kings, chap. xxii. 19, Micaiah did see the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing about him on the right hand and on the left. And the Lord said, Who shall deceive Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and be slain in Ramoth-gilead? And one said this way, and another otherwise. Now there went forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will deceive him. To whom the Lord spake; By what means? And he said, I will go forth, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt deceive him and prevail; go thy ways forth, and do even so. Thus also it is written in Deuteronomy: If there shall arise a prophet amongst you, or one that shall say he hath seen a dream, and shall foretell a sign and a wonder; and if that shall come to pass that he hath spoken, and he shall say unto thee, Let us go and follow strange gods, whom thou knowest not, and let us serve them, thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or dreamer; for the Lord your God tempteth you, to make it known whether ye love him, or no, with all your heart, and with all your soul.
"In Jeremiah, chap. xxiii.: Are not my words even like fire, saith the Lord? and like a hammer that breaketh the stone? Therefore, behold, I will come against the prophets which have dreamed a lie, (saith the Lord,) which have showed those things, and have seduced the people through their lies and their miracles, whenas I sent them not, neither commanded them; which have brought no profit unto this people, saith the Lord. In Mark, chap. xiii., saith Christ; For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, to deceive, if it were possible, even the very elect. Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. xi.: Such false apostles are deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for even Satan transformeth himself into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing though his ministers transform themselves, as though they were the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.
"In the Apocalypse, chap. xiii., John saw a beast ascending up out of the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb, but he spake like the dragon, and he did all that the first beast could do before him; and he caused the earth and the inhabitants thereof to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed, and did great wonders, so that he made fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, and deceived them that dwelt on the earth, by means of the signs which were permitted him to do in the sight of the beast.
"By these things it is most manifest and plain, that in miracles this manifold error oftentimes happeneth, through the working of the devil, to deceive the people withal; wherefore we ought not, for the working of miracles, to depart from the commandments of God. I would to God that they which put confidence in miracles, would give heed unto the word of Christ, in the seventh chapter of Matthew, thus speaking: Many shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not in thy name prophesied? and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many great works? &c. I will profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, all ye which work iniquity.
"By this saying it is most manifest that the servants of Christ are not discerned by working of miracles, but by the working of virtues, departing from iniquity, and obeying the commandments of God. Wherefore it is wonderful, that any in this life dare presume to prevent the day of the judgment of God, to judge by means of miracles, that some are saints, whom men ought to worship; whom, peradventure, God will in the last judgment condemn, saying, Depart from me, all ye which work iniquity. If any man could here on earth judge sinners to be condemned, then, if this judgment were certain, Christ should not judge the second time; and whatsoever such judges bind in earth, the same ought to be bound in heaven. But if such a judgment be uncertain, then it is perilous and full of deceit, when by it men on earth may, instead of saints, worship such as are damned with the fellowship of the devils, and in prayer require their aid, who, even like as the devils their companions, are more ready, and more of might, to evil than to good, more to hurt than to profit. I wonder they mark not what Christ said, when his kinswoman came unto him, desiring and requiring something of him, and saying, Command that these my two sons may sit one upon thy right hand, and the other upon thy left hand in thy kingdom. But Jesus answering, said, Ye know not what ye ask; can ye drink of the cup which I shall drink of? They said unto him, We can. He said unto them, Of my cup indeed ye shall drink but to sit at my right hand, or at my left, it is not mine to give, but unto whom it is prepared of my Father. Christ, being equal unto the Father according to his Godhead, and exceeding all manner of men according to his manhood, namely, in goodness and wisdom, said, To sit at my right hand, or at my left, is not mine to give, but unto whom it is prepared of my Father. If it were none of his to give, to sit at the right hand, or at the left, &c.; how then is it in the power of any sinful man to give unto any man a seat, either on the right hand, or on the left, in the kingdom of God, which sinful man knoweth not whether such have any seat prepared for them of the Father in his kingdom? They much extol themselves, which exercise this judicial power in giving judgment, that there are some saints which ought to be honoured of men, by reason of the evidences of dreams, or of deceitful miracles; of which men they are ignorant, whether God in his judgment will condemn them or not, together with the devils, for ever to be tormented. Let them beware, for the infallible truth saith, that every one that exalteth himself shall be brought low.
"By these things is gathered that the wars of Christians are not lawful; for that by the doctrine and life of Christ they are prohibited, and by reason of the evidence of the deceitful miracles of those which have made wars amongst the Christians, as well against the Christians, as also against the infidels: because Christ could not err in his doctrine, forasmuch as he was God; and forasmuch as heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of Christ shall not pass away. He, therefore, which establisheth his laws, allowing wars and the slaughter of men in war, as well of Christians as of infidels, doth he not justify those things which are contrary unto the gospel and law of Christ? Therefore in this he is against Christ, and therefore antichrist, seducing the people, making men believe that to be lawful and meritorious unto them, which is expressly prohibited by Christ."nd thus much concerning the first part, touching peace and war, wherein he declareth Christ and the pope to be contrary, that is, the one to be given all to peace, the other all to war, and so to prove, in conclusion, the pope to be antichrist: where, in the mean time, thou must understand, gentle reader, his meaning rightly; not that he so thinketh no kind of wars among the Christians in any case to be lawful, for he himself before hath openly protested the contrary; but that his purpose is to prove the pope, in all his doings and teachings, more to be addicted to war than to peace; yea, in such cases where is no necessity of war. And therein proveth he the pope to be contrary to Christ, that is, to be antichrist.
Now he proceedeth further to the second part, which is of mercy. In which part he showeth how Christ teacheth us to be merciful, because mercy, as he saith, proceedeth from charity, and nourisheth it.
"In this doctrine of mercy, Christ breaketh not the law of righteousness, for he himself, by mercy, hath cleansed us from our sins, from which we could not by the righteousness of the law be cleansed. But whom he hath made clean by mercy, undoubtedly it behoveth those same to be also merciful; for in the 6th chapter of Matthew he saith, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And again, in the 6th of Matthew, If ye forgive unto men their sins, your Father will forgive unto you your sins. And again, in the 7th chapter of Matthew, Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; and with what measure ye measure, with the same shall it be measured unto you again. In the 18th chapter of Matthew, Peter asked the Lord, saying, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I shall forgive him? seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee seven times, but seventy times seven times. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which oweth him ten thousand talents; and because he had nothing wherewithal to pay, his master commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and his children, and all that he had, and the debt to be paid. The servant therefore fell down, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the Lord had pity on that servant, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was departed, he found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence, and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest; and his fellow fell down, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. But he would not, but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. And when his other fellows saw the things that were done, they were very sorry, and came and declared unto their master all that was done. Then his master called him, and said unto him, O thou ungracious servant, I forgave thee all that debt when thou desiredst me: oughtest thou not then also to have such pity on thy fellow, even as I had pity on thee? And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him unto the jailers, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, except ye forgive from your hearts each one to his brother their trespasses.
"By this doctrine it is most plain and manifest, that every Christian ought to be merciful unto his brother, how often soever he offendeth against him; because we, so often as we offend, do ask mercy of God. Wherefore forasmuch as our offence against God is far more grievous than any offence of our brother against us, it is plain that it behoveth us to be merciful unto our brethren, if we will have mercy at God's hand. But, contrary to this doctrine of mercy, the Romish bishop maketh and confirmeth many laws which punish offenders even unto the death; as it is plain by the process of the decrees. It is declared and determined, that to kill men ex officio, that is, having authority and power so to do, is not sin; and again, The soldier which is obedient unto the higher power, and so killeth a man, is not guilty of murder; and again, He is the minister of the Lord, which smiteth the evil in that they are evil, and killeth them. And many other such-like things are, throughout the whole process of that question, determined: that for certain kinds of sins men ought, by the rigour of the law, to be punished even unto death. But the foundation of their saying they took out of the old law, in which, for divers transgressions were appointed divers punishments. It is very much wonderful unto me, why that wise men, being the authors and makers of laws, do always, for the foundation of their sayings, look upon the shadow of the law, and not the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ; for they give not heed unto the figure of perfection, nor yet unto the perfection figured. Is it not written in the 3rd of John, God sent not his Son into the world to judge the world, but to save the world by him? In John the 8th chapter, The scribes and Pharisees bring in a woman taken in adultery, and set her in the midst, and said unto Christ, Master, even now this woman was taken in adultery; but in the law, Moses hath commanded us to stone such: what sayest thou therefore? This they said to tempt him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And while they continued asking him, he lift himself up, and said unto them, Let him that is among you without sin, cast the first stone at her. And again he stooped and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest: so Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lift up himself again, he said unto her, Where be they which accused thee? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee, go thy way, and sin no more.
"It is manifest by the Scriptures, that Christ was promised he should be King of the Jews, and unto the kings pertained the judgments of the law; but, because he came not to judge sinners according to the rigour of the law, but came according to grace, to save that which was lost, in calling the sinner to repentance; it is most plain, that in the coming of the law of grace, he would have the judgment of the law of righteousness to cease: for otherwise he had dealt unjustly with the aforesaid woman, forasmuch as the witnesses of her adultery bare witness against her. Wherefore, seeing the same King, Christ, was a judge, if it had been his will that the righteousness of the law should be observed, he ought to have adjudged the woman to death, according as the law commanded; which thing, forasmuch as he did not, it is most evident that the judgments of the righteousness of the law are finished in the coming of the King, being King of the law of grace; even as the sacrifices of the priesthood of Aaron are finished in the coming of the Priest, according to the order of Melchisedec, who hath offered himself up for our sins; because, as it is before said, neither the righteousness of the law, nor sacrifices for sin, brought any man to perfection. Wherefore it was necessary that the same, by reason of their imperfection, should cease. And seeing, among all the laws of the world, the law of Moses was most just; forasmuch as the author thereof was God, who is the most just Judge; and by that law always look, what manner of injury one had done unto another, contrary to the commandment of the law, the like injury he should receive for his transgression, according to the upright judgment of the law; as death for death, a blow for a blow, burning for burning, wound for wound, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and most just punishments were ordained according to the quantity of the sins. But if this law of righteousness be clean taken away in the coming of the law of grace, how then shall the law of the Gentiles remain among Christians, which was never so just? Is not this true, that in them which are converted unto the faith, there is no distinction between the Jew and the Grecian? For both are under sin, and are justified by grace in the faith of Christ, being called unto faith and unto the perfection of the gospel.
"If therefore the Gentiles converted are not bound to play the Jews, to follow the law of the Jews; why should the Jews converted follow the laws of the Gentiles, which are not so good? Wherefore it is to be wondered at, why thieves are, among Christians, for theft put to death, when after the law of Moses they were not put to death. Christians suffer adulterers to live, Sodomites, and they which curse father and mother, and many other horrible sinners; and they which according to the most just law of God were condemned to death, are not put to death. So we neither keep the law of righteousness given of God, nor the law of mercy taught by Christ.
"Wherefore the law-makers and judges do not give heed unto the aforesaid sentence of Christ unto the scribes and Pharisees, who said, He which amongst you is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her. What is he that dareth be so bold as to say he is without sin, yea, and without a grievous sin, when the transgression of the commandment of God is a grievous sin? And who can say that he never transgressed this commandment of God, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; or the other commandment, which is of greater force, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c.? Wherefore thou, whatsoever thou art, that judgest thy brother unto death, thinkest thou that thou shalt escape the judgment of God, which peradventure hast offended more grievously than he hath whom thou judgest? How seest thou a mote in thy brother's eye, and seest not a beam in thine own eye? Knowest thou not that with what measure thou measurest, that same shall be measured to you again? Doth not the Scripture say, Unto me belongeth vengeance, and I will render again, saith the Lord? How can any man say that these men can with charity keep these judgments of death? Who is it that offendeth God, and desireth of God just judgment for his offence? He desireth not judgment, but mercy. If he desire mercy for himself, why desireth he vengeance for his brother offending? How therefore loveth he his brother as himself? Or how dost thou show mercy unto thy brother (as thou art bound by the commandment of Christ) which seekest the greatest vengeance upon him that thou canst infer unto him? for death is the most terrible thing of all, and a more grievous vengeance than death can no man infer. Wherefore, they which will keep charity, ought to observe the commandments of Christ touching mercy; and they which live in the law of charity, ought to leave the law of vengeance and judgments. Ought we to believe that Christ in his coming, by grace, abrogated the most just law which he himself gave unto the children of Israel, by Moses's servant, and established the laws of the Gentiles, being not so just, to be observed of his faithful? Doth not Daniel expound the dream of Nebuchadnezzar the king, concerning the image, whose head was of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, one part of the feet was of iron, and the other part of clay. Nebuchadnezzar saw that a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands, and struck the image in his feet of iron and of clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and gold broken all together, and became like the chaff of the summer floor, which is carried away by the wind, and there was no place found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. He applieth therefore four kingdoms unto the four parts of the image, namely, the kingdom of the Babylonians unto the head of gold; the kingdom of the Medes and Persians unto the breast and arms of silver; the kingdom of the Grecians unto the belly and thighs of brass; but the fourth kingdom, which is of the Romans, he applieth unto the feet and legs of iron. And Daniel addeth, In the days of their kingdoms shall God raise up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and his kingdom shall not be delivered unto another, but it shall break and destroy those kingdoms; and it shall stand for ever, according as thou sawest, that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and brake in pieces the clay, and iron, brass, silver, and gold. Seeing therefore it is certain that this stone signifieth Christ, whose kingdom is for ever; it is also a thing most assured, that he ought to reign every where, and to break in pieces the other kingdoms of the world. Wherefore if terrestrial kings, and the terrestrial kingdom of the Jews, and their laws and judgments, have ceased by Christ the King calling the Jews unto the perfection of his gospel, namely, unto faith and charity; it is not to be doubted, but that the kingdom of the Gentiles, which is more imperfect, and their laws, ought to cease among the Gentiles, departing from their Gentility unto the perfection of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For there is no distinction between the Jews and Gentiles being converted unto the faith of Christ; but all of them, abiding in that eternal kingdom, ought to be under one law of charity and of virtue. Therefore they ought to have mercy, and to leave the judgments of death, and the desire of vengeance. Wherefore they which do make laws mark not the parable of Christ, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man which sowed good seed in his field; but when men were asleep, the enemy came and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and went his way. But when the herb was grown and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares. And the servants came unto the good man of the house, and said unto him, Lord, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then come these tares? And he said unto them, The enemy hath done this. And the servants said unto him, Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? And he said, No, lest peradventure gathering up the tares ye pluck up the wheat by the roots; suffer them both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say unto the harvestmen, Gather first the tares and bind them in bundles, that they may be burnt, but gather the wheat into my barn. Christ himself only expoundeth this parable in the selfsame chapter, saying, He which soweth the good seed is the Son of man, but the field is the world, and the good seed, those are the children of the kingdom. But the tares are the naughty children. And the enemy which soweth them is the devil. And the harvest is the end of the world; and the harvestmen are the angels. Even as therefore the tares are gathered and burnt with fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all offenders, and those which commit iniquity, and shall put them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
"By which plain doctrine it is manifest, that Christ will have mercy showed unto sinners, even unto the end of the world, and will have them to remain mingled with the good; lest peradventure, when a man thinketh that he doth right well to take away the tares, he taketh away the wheat. For how great a sinner soever a man be, we know not whether his end shall be good, and whether in the end he shall obtain mercy of God; neither are we certain of the time, wherein God will by grace judge him whom we abhor as a sinner. And peradventure such a one shall more profit after his conversion in the church, than he whom we think to be just, as it came to pass in Paul. And if God justifieth a man by grace, although at his end, why darest thou be so bold to be his judge, and to condemn him? Yea rather, although a man seem to be obstinate and hardened in his evil, so that he is not corrected by a secret correction, correct him before one alone; if he do not receive open correction, being done before two or three witnesses; neither passeth upon a manifest correction when his sin is made known unto the church; Christ doth not teach to punish such a one with the punishment of death. Yea rather, he saith, If he hearken not unto the church, let him be unto thee as an ethnic and publican. And Paul, following this doctrine in 1 Cor. v., saith, There goeth a common saying, that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not once named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather sorrowed, that he which hath done this deed might be put from among you. For I, verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have already determined, as though I were present, that he which hath done this thing, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that such a one, by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Paul teacheth not to kill this man, as some gather by this text, but to separate him from the other faithful, and so from Christ, which is the Head of the church of the faithful; and so is he delivered unto Satan, which is separated from Christ, that the flesh may be killed, that is, that the carnal concupiscence, whereby he luxuriously lusted after the wife of his father, may be destroyed in him by such a separation, that the spirit may be saved, and not that his body should be killed, as some say; as it is most manifest in the same chapter, where he saith, I wrote unto you an epistle, that you should not keep company with fornicators; and I meant not of all the fornicators of this world, either of the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, for then must ye needs have gone out of the world. But now I have written unto you, that ye keep not company together; if any that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous person, or a worshipper of images, either a cursed speaker, or drunkard, or an extortioner: with him that is such, see that ye eat not.
"By which it is manifest, that Paul would have the aforesaid fornicator separated from the fellowship of the faithful; that his carnal concupiscence might be mortified, for the health of the spirit, and not that the body should be killed: wherefore they do ill understand Paul, which by this saying do confirm the killing of men. And forasmuch as heresy is one of the most grievous sins, (for a heretic leadeth men in errors, whereby they are made to stray from faith, without which they cannot be saved,) it doth most great hurt in the church.
"Further, as concerning such a wicked man, Paul thus speaketh, Flee from the man that is a heretic after the first and second correction, knowing that such a one is subverted and sinneth, forasmuch as he is by his own judgment condemned. Behold, Paul teacheth not to kill this man, but with Christ to separate him from the fellowship of the faithful. But some say, that Peter, in the primitive church, slew Ananias and Sapphira for their sins: wherefore, they say, it is lawful for them to condemn wicked men to death. We will declare, in showing the whole process, how falsely they speak in alleging of Peter, to justify their error.
"In the 4th chapter of the Acts it is written, that as many as were possessors of lands or houses, they sold them, and offered the prices of that which they sold, and laid it before the feet of the apostles; and it was divided unto every one as he had need thereof. But a certain man, called Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of land, and kept back a part of the price of the field, his wife being privy unto it; and bringing a certain part thereof, he laid it at the feet of the apostles. But Peter said unto Ananias, Ananias, why hath Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldest lie unto the Holy Ghost, to keep back a part of the price of the land? Did it not, whilst it remained, remain unto thee; and being sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and gave up the ghost, and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men rose up and took him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it came to pass, about the space of three hours after, that his wife came in, being ignorant of that which was done. And Peter said unto her, Tell me, woman, sold ye the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. But Peter said unto her, Why have ye agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. And straightway she fell down before his feet, and gave up the ghost; and the young men entering in, found her dead, and they carried her out, and buried her by her husband. And great fear came on all the church, and all those which heard these things. It is marvel that any man that is wise will say that by this process Peter slew Ananias or his wife. For it was not his act, but the act of God, who made a wedding to his Son, and sent his servants to call them that were bidden unto the wedding, and they would not come. The king then sent forth his servants to the out-corners of the highways, to gather all that they could find, both good and evil, and so they did; and the marriage was full furnished with guests. Then came in also the king to view and see them sitting; among whom he perceived there one sitting, having not a wedding garment, and saith unto him, Friend, how carnest thou hither? And he being dumb had not a word to speak. Then said the king to the servitors, Take and bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outward darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Many there be called, but few chosen.
"It is manifest, that this wedding garment is charity, without which because Ananias entered into the marriage of Christ, he was given to death, that by one many might be informed to learn and understand, that they which have faith and not charity, although they appear to men to have, yet it cannot be privy to the Spirit of God, that they do feign. Such there are, no doubt, but they shall be excluded from the marriage of Christ, as we see this here exemplified in the death of Ananias and his wife by the hand of God, and not by the hand of Peter. And how should Peter then have judged Ananias (albeit he had judged him) worthy of death by the rigour of the old law? For why? by the law he had not been guilty of death, for that part which they fraudulently and dissemblingly did reserve to themselves: yea, and if they had stolen as much from another man, which was greater, neither yet for his lie committed, he had not therefore, by that law of justice, been found guilty of death. Wherefore, if he did not condemn him by the law of justice, it appeareth that he condemned him by the law of grace and mercy, which he learned of Christ: and so, consequently, it followeth much more apparent, that Peter could not put him to death. Furthermore, to say that Peter put him to death by the mere motion of his own will, and not by the authority of the old law, nor by the new, it were derogatory and slanderous to the good fame and name of Peter. But if Peter did kill him, why then doth the bishop of Rome, which pretendeth to be the successor of Peter, excuse himself and his priests from the judgment of death against heretics and other offenders, although they themselves be consenting to such judgments done by laymen? For that which was done of Peter without offence, may reasonably excuse him and his fellow priests from the spot of crime, Acts v.
"It is manifest that there was another which did more grievously offend than Ananias, and that Peter rebuked him with more sharp words; but yet he commanded him not so to be put to death. For Simon Magus also remaining at Samaria, after that he believed and was baptized, he joined himself with Philip; and when he saw that the Holy Spirit was given by the apostles, (laying their hands upon men,) he offered them money, saying, Give unto me this power, that upon whomsoever I shall lay my hand, he shall receive the Holy Ghost. To whom Peter answered, Destroyed be thou and thy money together; and for that thou supposest the gift of God to be bought with money, thou shalt have neither part nor fellowship in this doctrine. Thy heart is not pure before God, therefore repent thee of thy wickedness, and pray unto God that this wicked thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee; for I perceive thou art even in the bitter gall of wickedness, and band of iniquity. Behold here the grievous offence of Simon Peter's hard and sharp rebuking of him, and yet thereupon he was not put to death. Whereby it appeareth that the death of Ananias, aforesaid, proceeded of God and not of Peter. Of all these things it is to be gathered, seeing the judgments of death are not grounded upon the express and plain Scriptures, but only under the shadow of the old law, that they are not to be observed of Christians, because they are contrary to charity. Ergo, the bishop of Rome, approving such judgments, alloweth those that are contrary to the law and doctrine of Christ; as before is said of wars, where he approveth and justifieth that which is contrary to charity. The order of priesthood, albeit it doth justify the judgments to death of the laity, whereby offenders are condemned to die, yet are they themselves forbidden to put in execution the same judgments. The priests of the old law, being imperfect, when Pilate said unto them concerning Christ, whom they had accused worthy of death, Take him unto you, and according to your law judge him, answered, That it was not lawful for them to put to death any man.
" Whereby it appeareth, that our priests, being much more perfect, may not lawfully give judgment of death against any offenders: yet, notwithstanding, they claim unto them the power judicial upon offenders; because, say they, it belongeth unto them to know the offences by the auricular confession of the offenders, and to judge upon the same being known, and to enjoin divers penances unto the parties offending, according to the quantity of their offences committed, so that the sinner may make satisfaction, say they, unto God, for the offences which he never committed. And to confirm unto them this judicial power, they allege the Scripture in many places, wresting it to serve their purpose.
"First, They say that the bishop of Rome (who is the chief priest and judge among them) hath full power and authority to remit sins. Whereupon they say, that he is able fully and wholly to absolve a man; so that if a man at the time of his death had this remission, he should straightways fly unto heaven without any pain of purgatory. The other bishops, as they say, have not so great authority. The priests constituted under every bishop, have power, say they, to absolve the sins of them that are confessed, but not all kind of sins: because there are some grievous sins reserved to the absolutions of the bishops; and some again to the absolution only of the chief and high bishop. They say also, that it behoveth the offenders, for the necessity of their souls' health, to call to remembrance their offences, and to manifest the same, with all the circumstances thereof, unto the priest in auricular confession, supplying the place of God, after the manner of a judge; and afterward humbly to fulfil the penance enjoined unto him by the priest for his sins, except the said penance so enjoined, or any part thereof, be released by the superior power. All these things, say they, are manifestly determined, as well in the decrees as decretals. And although these things have not expressly their foundation in the plain and manifest doctrine of Christ, nor any of the apostles, yet the authors of the decrees and decretals concerning this matter, have grounded the same upon divers places of the Scriptures, as in the process of Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chap. xvi. Whereupon they ground the pope's power judicial, to surmount the powers of other priests; as where Christ said unto his disciples, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, Some say thou art John Baptist, some Elias, and some Jeremias, or one of the prophets. To whom he said, But who say you that I am? Simon Peter making answer, said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon the son of Jonas; for flesh and blood hath not opened this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church, and hell-gates shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall also be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.
"Out of this text of Christ, divers expositors have drawn divers errors. For when Christ said, And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church: some thereupon affirm that Christ meant he would build his church upon Peter, by authority of that text, as it is written in the first part of the decrees. The exposition hereof is ascribed to Pope Leo; the error whereof is manifestly known. For the church of Christ is not builded upon Peter, but upon the rock of Peter's confession, for that he said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And for that Christ said singularly unto Peter, I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c. By this saying they affirm, that Christ gave unto Peter specially, as chief of the rest of the apostles, a larger power to bind and to loose, than he did unto the rest of the apostles and disciples. And because Peter answered for himself and all the apostles, not only confessing the faith which he had chiefly above the rest, but also the faith which the rest of the apostles had even as himself, by the revelation of the heavenly Father; it appeareth that as the faith of all the apostles was declared by the answer of one; so by this that Christ said unto Peter, Whatsoever thou shalt bind, &c., is given unto the rest of the apostles the same power and equality to bind and to loose, as unto Peter. Which Christ declareth in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chap. xviii., in these words: Verily I say unto you, what things soever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be also loosed in heaven. And further he addeth: And again I say unto you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, and request, whatsoever it be, it shall be granted unto you of my Father which is in heaven. For when two or three be gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them. And in John, chap. xx., he saith generally unto them, Receive ye my Spirit. Whose sins ye shall remit, shall be remitted unto them; and whose sins you shall retain, shall be retained.
"By this it appeareth that the power to bind and to loose is not specially granted to Peter, as chief and head of the rest, and that by him the rest had their power to bind and to loose; for that the head of the body of the church is one, which is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. Peter and the rest of the apostles are the good members of the body of Christ, receiving power and virtue of Christ; whereby they do confirm and glue together the other members, (as well the strong and noble, as the weak and unable,) to a perfect composition and seemliness of the body of Christ; that all honour from all parts and members may be given unto Christ as head and chief, by whom, as head, all the members are governed. And therefore Paul, 1 Cor. iii.: When one man saith, I hold of Paul, and another saith, I hold of Apollos, are ye not carnal men? For what is Apollos? what is Paul? The minister of him in whom ye have believed, and he, as God, giveth unto every man. I have planted, Apollos hath watered, but God hath given the increase. Therefore neither he that planteth is any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. And Paul to the Galatians, chap. ii.: God hath no respect of persons. Those that seemed to be great and do much, availed or profited me nothing at all; but, contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the circumcision unto Peter, for he that wrought with Peter in the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought with me also among the Gentiles; and when they knew the grace which was given me, Peter, James, and John straightways joined themselves with me and Barnabas; that we among the Gentiles, and they in circumcision only, might be mindful of the poor, the which to do I was very careful. Hereby it appeareth, that Paul had not his authority of Peter to convert the Gentiles, to baptize them, and to remit their sins, but of him which said unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Here is Paul the head of the church, and not Peter; by which head they say, that all the members are sustained and made lively.
"The third error which the authors of the canons conceive in the said text of Christ, which was said to Peter, Unto thee will I give the keys, is this. They say that in this sentence which was said to Peter, of the authority to bind and loose, was meant, that as Christ gave unto Peter, above all the rest of the apostles, a special, and as it were an excellent power above all the apostles; even so, say they, he gave power unto the bishops of Rome, whom they call Peter's chief successors, the same special power and authority, exceeding the power of all other bishops of the world.
"The first part of this similitude and comparison doth appear manifestly by the premises to be erroneous; wherein is plainly showed, that the other apostles had equal power with Peter to bind and loose. Wherefore consequently it followeth the second part of the similitude, grounded upon the same text, to be also erroneous. But and if the first part of the said similitude were truth, as it is not, yet the second part must needs be an error, wherein is said, that the bishops of Rome are Peter's chief successors. For although there be but one catholic Christian church of all the faithful sort converted, yet the first part thereof, and first converted, was of the Jews, the second of the Greeks, and the third part was of the Romans or Latins: whereof the first part was most perfectly converted unto the faith, for that they faithfully observed the perfection of charity, as appeareth in the Acts of the Apostles, chap. ii., by the multitude of the believers. They were of one heart and one soul, neither called they any thing that they possessed their own, but all was common amongst them.
"Hereupon Paul to the Romans, chap. i.: Salutation to every believer, first to the Jew, and to the Greeks after the Jews. The Greeks were the second, and after the Jews next converted; and after them the Romans, taking their information of the Greeks, as appeareth by the chronicles, although indeed some Romans were converted unto the faith by Peter and Paul; and as Christ said thrice unto Peter, Feed my sheep, so Peter ruled these three churches, as witnesseth the chronicles. But first he reformed the church of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judea, as appeareth by the testimony of the Acts of the Apostles; for, chap. i., it is manifest how Peter, standing up amongst his brethren, spake unto them concerning the election of an apostle in the place of Judas the traitor, alleging places unto them out of the Scripture, that another should take upon him his apostleship: and so by lot was Matthias constituted in the twelfth place of Judas. Acts ii., after that the Holy Ghost was come upon the apostles, and that they spake with the tongues of all men, the hearers were astonied at the miracle; and some mocked them, saying, These men are full of new wine: but Peter stood up and spake unto them, saying, That it was fulfilled in them that was prophesied by Joel the prophet. And he preached unto the people Christ, whom they of ignorance had put to death; to whom was a Saviour promised by the testimony of the prophets. And when they heard the words of Peter, they were pricked at the heart, saying unto him and the rest of the apostles, What shall we then do? And Peter said unto them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost. And there were joined unto them the same day about three thousand souls. And Acts iii. -- v., it appeareth that Peter, above the rest, did those things which belonged to the ministry of the apostleship, as well in preaching as in answering. Whereupon some chronicles say, that Peter governed the church of the Jews at Jerusalem four years before he governed Antioch. And by the testimony of Paul to the Galatians, chap. ii., as before is said, the gospel of the uncircumcision is committed to Paul, even as the circumcision to Peter; and he that wrought with Peter in the apostleship of circumcision, wrought with Paul amongst the Gentiles; whereby it appeareth that the church of the Jews was committed to the government of Peter. And in the process of the Acts of the Apostles it appeareth, that Peter believed that the faith of Christ was not to be preached unto those Gentiles, which always lived in uncleanness of idolatry. But when Peter was at Joppa, Cornelius, a Gentile, sent unto him that he would come and show him the way of life: but Peter, a little before the coming of the messengers of Cornelius, being in his chamber, after he had prayed, fell in a trance, and saw heaven open, and a certain vessel descending even as a great sheet, letten down by four corners from heaven to earth; in the which were all manner of four-footed beasts, serpents of the earth, and fowls of the air. And a voice spake unto him, saying, Arise, Peter, kill and eat: and Peter said, Not so, Lord, because I have never eaten any common or unclean thing. This was done thrice. And Peter descended, not knowing what the vision did signify, and found the messengers of Cornelius.
"As concerning the authority judicial of the clergy, many things are written thereof in the canons of decrees greatly to be marvelled at, and far from the truth of the Scripture. The authors of the canons say, that Christ gave unto the priests power judicial over sinners that confessed their sins unto them. And this they ground upon the text of Christ, I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou loosest, &c. And these keys of the kingdom of heaven they call the knowledge to discern, and the power to judge, which they say only belongeth to the priests, except in case of necessity; then they say a layman may absolve a man from sin. And as touching absolution, they say there are three things to be required on the sinner's part: first, hearty contrition, whereby the sinner ought to bewail his offending of God through sins. The second is, auricular confession, whereby the sinner ought to show unto the priest his sins, and the circumstances of them. The third is, satisfaction through penance enjoined unto him by the priest for his sins committed. And of his part that giveth absolution there are two things, say they, to be required: that is to say, knowledge to discern one sin from another; whereby he ought to make a difference of sins, and appoint a convenient penance, according to the quantity of the sins. The second is, authority to judge, whereby he ought to enjoin penance to the offender. And further they say, that he that is confessed ought with all humility to submit himself to this authority, and wholly and voluntarily to do those penances which are commanded him by the priest, except the said penance be released by a superior power; for all priests, as they say, have not equal authority to absolvc sins. The chief priest, whom they call Peter's successor, hath power fully and wholly to absolve. But the inferior priests have power, some more, some less. The more, as they are near him in dignity; the less, as they are further from the degree of his dignity. All this is declared by process in the decrees, but not by the express doctrine of Christ, or of any of his apostles; for although Christ absolved men from their sins, I do not find that he did it after the manner of a judge, but of a Saviour. For Christ saith, God sent not his Son into the world to judge sinners, but that the world should be saved by him, John iii. Whereupon he spake unto him whom he healed of the palsy, Behold, thou art made whole, go thy ways and sin no more: and to the woman taken in adultery Christ said, Woman, where be thy accusers? hath no man condemned thee? who said, No man, Lord. To whom then Jesus thus said, No more will I condemn thee; go, and sin no more, John v.
"By which words and deeds of Christ, and many other places of the Scripture, it appeareth he was not, as a judge, at his first coming, to punish sinners according to the quantity of their offences; but that day shall come hereafter, wherein he shall judge all men, according to their works, as in Matt. xxv., where he saith, When the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all his angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty, and all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats, &c. Neither shall he judge alone, but his saints also with him: for he saith, You that have followed me in this generation, when the Son of man shall sit in the seat of his majesty, shall sit also upon twelve seats, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. If then Christ came not as a judge, why do the priests say, that they supply the room of Christ on earth, to judge sinners according to the quantity of their offences? And yet not only this, but it is more to be marvelled at, how the bishop of Rome dareth to take upon him to be a judge before the day of judgment, and to prevent the time, judging some to be saints in heaven, and to be honoured of men, and some again to be tormented in hell eternally with the devils. Would God these men would weigh the saying of St. Paul, 1 Cor. iv., Judge ye not before the time until the coming of the Lord, who shall make light the dark and secret places, and disclose the secrets of hearts, and then every one shall have his praise. Let the bishop of Rome take heed, lest that in Ezekiel be spoken of him, Because thy heart is elevate, and thou saidst unto thyself, I am God, I have sitten in the seat of God, and in the heart of the sea, when thou art but man, and not God. It is manifest that the remission of sins principally belongeth to God, who, through grace, washeth away our sins. For it is said, The Lamb of God taketh away the sins of the world. And unto Christians it belongeth as the ministers of God. For in John xx. Christ saith, Receive unto you the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. Seeing, therefore, that all Christians that are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, receive the Holy Ghost, it appeareth that they have power given to them of Christ, to remit sins ministerially. Hath not every Christian (according to the principles and practice of the Church of Rome) authority to baptize? and in the baptism all the sins of the baptized are remitted. Ergo, they that do baptize do remit sins. And thus ministerially all such have power to remit sins. I pray you, how are the sins remitted him that is baptized of the priest, (yea, although he were of the pope himself baptized,) more than if he were baptized of another Christian? Surely I think no more. For seeing that before baptism he remaineth a sinner, and of the kingdom of the devil by sin, after baptism he entereth into the kingdom of heaven; it appeareth that he that doth baptize, openeth the gate of the kingdom of heaven to him that is baptized, the which he cannot do without the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore every one that doth baptize, hath the keys of the kingdom of heaven; as well the inferior priest, as the pope. But these keys are not the knowledge to discern, and power to judge, because these do nothing avail in baptism. Ergo, there are other keys of the kingdom of heaven than these. Wherefore it seemeth that the authors of the canons erred in mistaking the keys, whereupon they ground the authority judicial of the clergy.
"Now a little error in the beginning granted, groweth to great inconvenience in the end. Wherefore, in my judgment, it seemeth that the keys of the kingdom of heaven are faith and hope. For by faith in Jesus Christ, and hope in him for the remission of sins, we enter the kingdom of heaven. This faith is a spiritual water, springing from Jesus Christ the fountain of wisdom, wherein the soul of the sinner is washed from sin. With this water were the faithful patriarchs baptized before the law; and the faithful people of the Hebrews, and the faithful Christians, after the law. Wherefore I greatly marvel at that saying in the decrees, which is ascribed unto Augustine, that little children that are not baptized shall be tormented with eternal fire, although they were born of faithful parents, that wished them with all their hearts to have been baptized: as though the sacrament of baptism in water were simply necessary to salvation, when nevertheless many Christians are saved without this kind of baptism, as martyrs. If that kind of sacrament be not necessary to one of elder years, how then is it necessary to an infant born of the faithful? Are not all baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire? but yet not with material fire; no more is the lotion of water corporally necessary to wash away sins, but only spiritual water, that is to say, the water of faith. Are not the quick baptized for them that are dead? as witnesseth Paul, 1 Cor. xv., If the dead rise not at all, why are the living then baptized for them? If the living be baptized for the dead, why then is not the infant saved by the baptism of his parents; seeing the infant itself is impotent at the time of death, and not able to require baptism? Christ saith, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He saith not, he that is not baptized, but he that believeth not, shall be damned. Wherefore in the 12th chapter of John Christ saith, I am the resurrection and life; he that believeth in me, yea, although he were dead, shall live. The faith, therefore, is necessary which the infant hath in his faithful parents, although he be not washed with corporal water. How then is the infant damned and tormented with eternal fire? Were not they that were before the coming of Christ, and dead before his death by a thousand years, saved also by his death and passion? All that believed in him were baptized in his blood, and so were saved and redeemed from sin and the bondage of the devil, and made partakers of the kingdom of heaven. How then in the time of grace shall the infant be damned that is born of faithful parents, that do not despise, but rather desire, to have their children baptized? I dare not consent to so hard a sentence of the decrees; but rather believe that he is saved by virtue of the passion of Christ in faith of his faithful parents, and the hope which they have in Christ; which faith and hope are the keys of the heavenly kingdom. God were not just and merciful, if be would condemn a man that believeth not in him, except he showed unto him the faith which he ought to believe. And therefore Christ saith, If I had not come and spoken unto them, sin could not have been laid unto their charge, but now they have no excuse of sin. Therefore seeing the faith of Christ is not manifest unto the infant departing before baptism, neither hath he denied it, how then shall he be damned for the same? But if God speaketh inwardly by way of illumination of the intelligence of the infant, as he speaketh unto angels, who then knoweth (save God alone) whether the infant receiveth or not receiveth the faith of Christ? What is he, therefore, that so rashly doth take upon him to judge the infants begotten of faithful parents dying without baptism, to be tormented with eternal fire?
"Now let us consider the three things which the canons of decrees affirm to be requisite for the remission of the sins of those that sin after baptism; that is to say, contrition of heart, auricular confession, and satisfaction for the deed through penance enjoined by the priest for the sins committed. I cannot find in any place in the gospel, where Christ commanded that this kind of confession should be done unto the priest; nor can I find that Christ assigned any penance unto sinners for their sins, but that he willed them to sin no more. If a sinner confess that he hath offended God through sin, and sorroweth heartily for his offences, minding hereafter no more to sin, then is he truly repentant for his sin, and then he is converted unto the Lord. If he shall then, humbly and with good hope, crave mercy at God and remission of his sins, what is he that can let God to absolve that sinner from his sin? And as God absolveth a sinner from his sin, so hath Christ absolved many, although they confessed not their sins unto the priests, and although they received not due penance for their sins. And if Christ could, after that manner, once absolve sinners, how is he become now not able to absolve, except some man will say that he is above Christ, and that his power is minished by the ordinances of his own laws? How were sinners absolved of God in the time of the apostles, and always heretofore, unto the time that these canons were made? I speak not these things as though confession to priests were wicked, but that it is not of necessity requisite unto salvation. I believe verily that the confession of sins unto good priests, and likewise to other faithful Christians, is good, as witnesseth St. James the apostle: Confess ye yourselves one to another, and pray ye one for another, that ye may be saved; for the continual fervent prayer of the just availeth much. Elias was a man that suffered many things like unto you, and he prayed that it should not rain upon the earth, and it rained not in three years and six months. And again he prayed, and it rained from heaven, and the earth yielded forth her fruit. This kind of confession is good, profitable, and expedient; for if God peradventure heareth not a man's own prayer, he is helped with the intercession of others. Yet, nevertheless, the prayers of the priests seem too much to be extolled in the decrees, where they treat of penitence, and that saying is ascribed unto Pope Leo, dist. 1. cap. Multiplex misericordiæ Dei, &c. And it followeth, So is it ordained by the providence of God's divine will, that the mercy of God cannot be obtained but by the prayer of the priests, &c. The prayer of a good priest doth much avail a sinner, confessing his faults unto him. The counsel of a discreet priest is very profitable for a sinner, to give the sinner counsel to beware hereafter to sin, and to instruct him how he shall punish his body by fasting, by watching, and such-like acts of repentance, that hereafter he may be better preserved from sin.
"After this manner I esteem confession to priests very expedient and profitable to a sinner. But to confess sins unto the priest as unto a judge, and to receive of him corporal penance as a satisfaction unto God for his sins committed; I see not how this can be founded upon the truth of the Scripture. For before the coming of Christ, no man was sufficient or able to make satisfaction unto God for his sins, although he suffered never so much penance for his sins. And therefore it was needful that he that was without sin, should be punished for sins, as witnesseth Isaiah, chap. liii. 4, where he saith, He took our griefs upon him, and our sorrows he bare. And again, He was wounded for our iniquities, and vexed for our wickedness. And again, The Lord put upon him our iniquity. And again, For the wickedness of my people have I stricken him. If, therefore, Christ through his passion hath made satisfaction for our sins, whereas we ourselves were unable to do it; then through him have we grace and remission of sins. How can we say now, that we are sufficient to make satisfaction unto God by any penance enjoined unto us by man's authority, seeing that our sins are more grievous after baptism, than they were before the coming of Christ? Therefore, as in baptism the pain of Christ in his passion was a full satisfaction for our sins; even so after baptism, if we confess that we have offended, and be heartily sorry for our sins, and mind not to sin again afterwards.
"Hereupon John writeth in his First Epistle, chap. i. 8: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, he will remit them, and cleanse us from all our iniquities. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My well-beloved children, thus I write unto you, that ye sin not; but if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world. Therefore we ought to confess ourselves chiefly unto God, even from the heart, for that he chiefly doth remit sins, without whose absolution little availeth the absolution of man. This kind of confession is profitable and good. The authors of the canons say, that although auricular confession made unto the priest be not expressly taught by Christ, yet, say they, it is taught in that saying which Christ said unto the diseased of the leprosy, whom he commanded, Go your ways and show yourselves unto the priests; because, as they say, the law of cleansing lepers, which was given by Moses, signified the confession of sins unto the priest. And whereas Christ commanded the lepers to show themselves unto the priests, they say, that Christ meant, that those that were unclean with the leprosy of sin, should show their sins unto the priests by auricular confession. I marvel much at the authors of the canons; for, even from the beginning of their decrees unto the end, they ground their sayings upon the old law, which was the law of sin and death, and not (as witnesseth Paul) upon the words of Christ, which are spirit and life. Christ saith, The words which I speak unto you, are spirit and life. They ground their sayings in the shadow of the law, and not in the light of Christ: For every evil-doer hateth the light, and cometh not unto it, that his deeds be not reproved; but he that doth the truth, cometh into the light, that his works may be openly seen, because they are done in God, John iii. 20, 21.
"Now let us pass to the words that Christ spake to the leper: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus stretching forth his hand touched him, saying, I will, be thou clean; and straightways he was cleansed of his leprosy. And Jesus said unto him, See thou tell no man, but go and show thyself to the priests, and offer the gifts that Moses commanded for a witness of these things. This Gospel witnesseth plainly, that the diseased of the lepers were cleansed only by Christ, and not by the priests: neither did Christ command the leper to show himself unto the priests, for any help of cleansing that he should receive of the priests; but to fulfil the law of Moses, in offering a sacrifice for his cleansing, and for a testimony unto the priests, who always of envy accused Christ as a transgressor of the law. For if Christ, after he had cleansed the leper, had licensed him to communicate with others that were clean, before he had showed himself cleansed unto the priests, then might the priests have accused Christ as a transgressor of the law; because it was a precept of the law, that the leper, after he was cleansed, should show himself unto the priests. And they had signs in the book of the law, whereby they might judge whether he were truly cleansed or no. And if he were cleansed, then would the priests offer a gift for his cleansing; and if he were not cleansed, then would they segregate him from the company of others that were clean. Seeing every figure ought to be assimilated unto the thing that is figured, I pray you then what agreement is there between the cleansing of lepers by the law, and the confession of sins? By that law the priest knew better whether he were leprous than he himself that had the leprosy. In confession, the priest knew not the sins of him that was confessed, but by his own confession. In that law the priest did not cleanse the leprous. How now therefore ought the priests to cleansc sinners from their sin, and that without them they cannot be cleansed? In this law the priest had certain signs, by the which he could certainly know whether a man were cleansed from his leprosy or not. In confession the priest is not certain of the cleansing of sins, because he is ignorant of his contrition. He knoweth not also whether he will not sin any more; without the which contrition and granting to sin no more, God hath not absolved any sinner. And if God hath not absolved a man, without doubt then is he not made clean. And how then is confession figured under that law? Doubtless so it seemeth to me, (under the correction of them that can judge better in the matter,) that this law beareth rather a figure of excommunication, and reconciliation of him that hath been obstinate in his sin, and is reconciled again. For so it appeareth by the process of the gospel, that when the sinner doth not amend for the private correction of his brother, nor for the correction of two or three, neither yet for the public correction of the whole church; then is he to be counted as an ethnic and a publican, and as a certain leper to be avoided out of the company of all men. Which sinner, notwithstanding, if he shall yet repent, is then to be reconciled, because he is then cleansed from his obstinacy.
"But he which pretendeth himself to be the chief vicar of Christ, and the high priest, saith that he hath power to absolve a p?na et culpa. But I do not find it is founded in the Scripture, that of his own authority he may enjoin to sinners penance for their sins. And grant that from their sins he may well absolve them, yet from the pain (which they call a p?na) he doth not simply absolve, as in his indulgences he promiseth. But if he were in charity, and had such power as he pretendeth, he would suffer none to lie in purgatory for sin: forasmuch as that pain doth far exceed all other pain which here we suffer, what man is therebeing in charity, but if he see his brother to be tormented in this world, if he may, he will help him and deliver him? Much more ought the pope then to deliver out of pains of purgatory, indifferently, as well rich as poor. And if he sell to the rich his indulgences, doublewise, yea treblewise, he seduceth them. First, in promising them to deliver them out of the pain from whence he doth not, neither is able to deliver them; and so maketh them falsely to believe that which they ought not to believe. Secondly, he deceiveth them of their money, which he taketh for his indulgences. Thirdly, he seduceth them in this, that he, promising to deliver them from pain, doth induce them into grievous punishment indeed, for the heresy of simony, which both of them do commit, and, therefore, are worthy both of great pain to fall upon them: for so we read that Jesus cast out buyers and sellers out of his temple. Also Peter said unto Simon, the first author of this heresy, Thy money, said he, with thee be destroyed, for that thou hast thought the gift of God to be possessed for money. Moreover, whereas Christ saith, Freely you have received, freely give; and whereas, contrary, the pope doth sell that thing which he hath taken; what doubt is there, but that he doth grievously deserve to be punished, both he that selleth, and he that buyeth, for the crime of simony which they commit? Over and besides, by many reasons and authorities of the Scripture it may be proved, that he doth not absolve a man contrite for his sins, although he do absolve him from the guilt.
"But this marvelleth me, that he, in his indulgences, promiseth to absolve men from all manner of deadly sins, and yet cannot absolve a man from debt; forasmuch as the debt which we owe to God, is of much greater importance than is the debt of our brother. Wherefore, if he be able to remit the debt due to God, much more it should seem that he is able to forgive the debt of our brother.
"Another thing there is that I marvel at, for that the pope showeth himself more strait in absolving a priest for not saying, or negligently saying, his matins, than for transgressing the commandment of God; considering that the transgression of the commandment of God, is much more grievous than the breach of man's commandment.
"For these and many other errors concurring, in this matter of the pope's absolutions, blessed be God, and honour be unto him, for the remission of our sins. And let us firmly believe and know, that he doth and will absolve us from our sins, if we be sorry from the bottom of our hearts that we have offended him, having a good purpose and will to offend him no more. And let us be bold to resort unto good and discreet priests, who, with wholesome discretion and sound counsel, can instruct us, how to avoid the corruption of sin hereafter. And which, because they are better than we, may pray to God for us; whereby we may both obtain sooner the remission of our sins past, and also may learn better how to avoid the danger of sin to come."
And thus much concerning the judgment and doctrine of this Walter for Christian patience, charity, and mercy; which, as they be true and infallible notes and marks of true Christianity, so the said Walter Brute, making comparison herein between Christ and the pope, goeth about purposely to declare and manifest, whereby all men may see, what contrariety there is between the rule of Christ's teaching, and the proceedings of the pope; bctween the examples and life of the one, and the examples of the other. Of which two, as one is altogether given to peace, so is the other, on the contrary side, as much disposed to wars, murder, and bloodshed, as is easy to be seen. Whoso looketh not upon the outward shows and pretended words of these Romish popes, but adviseth and considereth the inward practices and secret works of them, shall easily espy, under the visor of peace, what discord and debate they work; who bearing outwardly the meek horns of the lamb mentioned in the Apocalypse, within do bear the bowels of a wolf, full of cruelty, murder, and bloodshed. Which, if any do think to be spoken of me contumeliously, would God that man could prove as well the same to be spoken of me not truly! But truth it is, I speak it sincerely, without affection of blind partiality, according to the truth of histories both old and new. Thus, under in Dei nomine, Amen, how unmercifully doth the pope condemn his brother! And while he pretended not to be lawful for him to kill any man, what thousands of men hath he killed! And likewise in this sentence, pretending in visceribus Jesu Christi, as though he would be a mediator to the magistrate for the party; yet, indeed, will he be sure to excommunicate the magistrate, if he execute not the sentence given. Who be true heretics, the Lord when he cometh shall judge; but give them to be heretics whom he condemneth for heretics, yet what "bowels of mercy" is here, where is nothing but burning, faggoting, drowning, poisoning, chaining, famishing, racking, hanging, tormenting, threatening, reviling, cursing, and oppressing; and no instructing, nor yet indifferent hearing of them, what they can say? The like cruelty also may in their wars appear, if we consider how Pope Urban the Fifth, beside the racking and murdering of sevenor eight cardinals, set up Henry Spencer, bishop of Norwich, to fight against the French pope Innocent the Fourth was in war himself against the Apulians. Likewise Alexander the Fourth, his successor, stirred up the son of King Henry the Third to fight against the son of Frederic the Second, emperor, for Apulia. Boniface the Eighth moved Albertus, which stood to be emperor, to drive Philip, the French king, out of his realm. Gregory the Ninth excited Louis, the French king, three sundry times to mortal war against the Earl Raimund, and city of Toulouse, and Avignon, where Louis, the said French king, died. Honorius the Third, by strength of war, many ways resisted Frederic the Second, and sent out thirty-five galleys against the coasts of the emperor's dominions. The same pope also besieged Ferrara. To pass over the war at Ticinum, with many other battles and conflicts of popes against the Romans, Venetians, and divers other nations, Innocent the Third set up Philip, the French king, to war against King John. What stir Pope Gregory the Seventh, otherwise named Hildebrand, kept against the emperor, Henry the Fourth, it is not unknown. And who is able to recite all the wars, battles, and fields, fought by the stirring up of the pope? These, with many other like examples considered, did cause this Walter Brute to write in this manner so as he did, making yet thereof no universal proposition, but that Christian magistrates, in case of necessity, might make resistance in defence of public right. Now he proceedeth further to other matter of the sacrament.
"Touching the matter," saith he, "of the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, divers men have divers opinions, as the learned do know. As concerning my judgment upon the same, I firmly believe whatsoever the Lord Jesus taught implicitly or expressly to his disciples and faithful people to be believed. For he is, as I believe and know, the true bread of God which descended from heaven, and giveth life to the world: of which bread whosoever eateth, shall live for ever; as it is in the 6th of John declared. Before the coming of Christ in the flesh, although men did live in body, yet in spirit they did not live, because all men were then under sin, whose souls thereby were dead; from the which death no man, by the law, nor with the law, was justified: For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, Gal. ii. And again, in the same Epistle, chap. iii., That by the law no man is justified before God, it is manifest; for the just man shall live by his faith: the law is not of faith; but whosoever hath the works thereof, shall live in them. And again in the same chapter: If the law had been given, which might have justified, then our righteousness had come by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise might be sure by the faith of Jesus Christ to all believers. Moreover, before that faith came, they were kept and concluded all under the law, until the coming of that faith which was to be revealed. For the law was our schoolmaster in Christ Jesus, that we should be justified by faith. Also the said Paul, Rom. v. 20, saith, That the law entered in the mean time, that sin might more abound. Where then sin hath more abounded, there hath also grace superabounded; that like as sin hath reigned unto death, so that grace might also reign by righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Whereby it is manifest, that by the faith which we have in Christ, believing him to be the true Son of God which came down from heaven to redeem us from sin, we are justified from sin; and so do live by him, which is the true bread and meat of the soul. And the bread which Christ gave is his flesh given for the life of the world, John vi. For he being God, came down from heaven, and being truly carnal man, did suffer in the flesh for our sins, which in his Divinity he could not suffer. Wherefore like as we believe by our faith that he is true God; so must we also believe that he is true man. And then do we eat the bread of heaven, and the flesh of Christ. And if we believe that he did voluntarily shed his blood for our redemption, then do we drink his blood.
"And thus, except we eat the flesh of the Son of man, and shall drink his blood, we have not eternal life in us; because the flesh of Christ verily is meat, and his blood is drink indeed; and whosoever eateth the flesh of Christ and drinketh his blood, abideth in Christ and Christ in him, And as in this world the souls of the faithful live, and are refreshed spiritually, with this heavenly bread, and with the flesh and blood of Christ; so in the world to come, the same shall live eternally in heaven, refreshed with the Deity of Jesus Christ, as touching the most principal part thereof, that is, to wit, intellectum: forasmuch as this bread of heaven, in that it is God, hath in itself all delectable pleasantness. And as touching the intelligible powers of the same, as well exterior as interior, they are refreshed with the flesh, that is to say, with the humanity, of Jesus Christ; which is as a queen standing on the right hand of God, decked with a golden robe of divers colours: for this queen of heaven alone, by the word of God, is exalted above the company of all the angels; that by her all our corporal power intellective may fully be refreshed, as is our spiritual intelligence with the beholding of the Deity of Jesus Christ, and even as the angels shall we be fully satisfied. And in the memory of this double refection, present in this world and in the world to come, hath Christ given unto us, for eternal blessedness, the sacrament of his body and blood in the substance of bread and wine; as it appeareth in Matt. xxvi. 26: As the disciples sat at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed it, brake it, and gave it unto his disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body: and he took the cup, and thanked, and gave it them, saying, Drink ye all of this, this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. And Luke in his Gospel, chap. xxii., of this matter thus writeth: And after he had taken the bread, he gave thanks, he brake it, and gave it unto them, saying, This is my body which shall be given for you; do you this in my remembrance. In like manner he took the cup after supper, saying, This is the cup of the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you. That Christ said, This is my body, in showing to them the bread, I firmly believe, and know that it is true; that Christ, forasmuch as he is God, is the very truth itself, and, by consequence, all that he saith is true. And I believe that the very same was his body, in such wise as he willed it to be his body; for in that he is almighty, he hath done whatsoever pleased him. And as in Cana of Galilee he changed the water into wine, really, so that after the transubstantiation it was wine, and not water; so when he said, This is my body, if he would have had the bread really to be transubstantiated into his very body, so that after this changing it should have been his natural body, and not bread as it was before, I know that it must needs have been so. But I find not in the Scripture, that his will was to have any such real transubstantiation or mutation.
"And as the Lord God Omnipotent, in his perfection essential being the Son of God, doth exceed the most pure creature, and yet when it pleased him he took upon him our nature, remaining really God as he was before, and was really made man; so that after this assuming of our substance, he was really very God and very man; even so, if he would, when he said, This is my body, he could make this to be his body really, the bread still really remaining as it was before. For less is the difference of the essence between bread and the body of a man, than between the Deity and humanity, because that of the bread is naturally made the body of a man. Of the bread is made blood; of the blood, natural seed; and of natural seed the natural substance of man is engendered. But in that that God became man, this is an action supernatural. Wherefore, he that could make one man to be very God and very man, could, if he would, make one thing to be really very bread, and his very body. But I do not find it expressly in the Scripture, that he would any such identity or conjunction to be made. And, as Christ said, I am very bread, not changing his essence or being into the essence or substance of bread, but was the said Christ which he was before really, and yet bread by a similitude or figurative speech; so, if he would, it might be, when he said, This is my body, that this should really have been the bread as it was before, and sacramentally or memorially to be his body. And this seemeth unto me most nearly to agree to the meaning of Christ, forasmuch as he said, Do this in remembrance of me. Then, forasmuch as in the supper it is manifest that Christ gave unto his disciples the bread of his body, which he brake, to that intent to eat with their mouths, in which bread he gave himself also unto them, as one in whom they should believe, (as to be the food of the soul,) and by that faith they should believe him to be their Saviour which took his body, wherein also he willed it to be manifest, that he would redeem them from death; so was the bread eaten with the disciples' mouths, that he, being the true bread of the soul, might be in spirit received and eaten spiritually by their faith which believed in him.
"The bread which in the disciples' mouths was chewed, from the mouth passed to the stomach. For as Christ saith, Whatsoever cometh to the mouth, goeth into the belly, and from thence into the draught, Matt. xv. 17. But that true and very bread of the soul was eaten of the spirit of the disciples, and by faith entered their minds, and abode in their inward parts through love. And so the bread broken seemeth unto me to be really the meat of the body, and the bread which it was before; but, sacramentally, to be the body of Christ; as Paul, I Cor. x. 16, The bread which we break, is it not the participation of the body of the Lord? So the bread which we break is the participation of the Lord's body: and it is manifest that the heavenly bread is not broken, neither yet is subject to such breaking, therefore Paul calleth the material bread which is broken, the body of Christ, which the faithful are partakers of. The bread therefore changeth not its essence, but is bread really, and is the body of Christ sacramentally: even as Christ is the very vine, abiding really and figuratively the vine; so the temple of Jerusalem was really the material temple, and, figuratively, it was the body of Christ, because he said, Destroy you this temple, and in three days I will repair the same again. And this spake he of the temple of his body; whereas othersunderstood it to be the material temple, as appeared by their answer. For, said they, Forty and seven years hath this temple been in building, and wilt thou build it up in three days?
"Even so may the consecrated bread be really bread, as it was before, and yet, figuratively, the body of Christ. And if, therefore, Christ would have this bread to be only sacramentally his body, and would not have the same bread actually to be transubstantiated into his body, and so ordained his priests to make this sacrament as a memorial of his passion, then do the priests grievously offend, which beseech Christ in the holy mass, that the bread which lieth upon the altar may be made really the body of Christ, if he would only have the same to be but a sacrament of his body; and then both be they greatly deceived themselves, and also do greatly deceive others. But whether the bread be really transubstantiated into the body of Christ, or is only the body of Christ sacramentally, no doubt but that the people are marvellously deceived; for the people believe that they see the body of Christ, nay rather Christ himself, between the hands of the priests, for so is the common oath they swear, By him whom I saw this day between the priest's hands. And the people believe that they eat not the body of Christ but at Easter, or else when they lie upon their death-bed, and receive with their bodily mouth the sacrament of the body of Christ. But the body of Christ, (admit the bread be transubstantiated really into the body) is in the sacrament not able to be divided; and so, not able to be measured: ergo, not able to be seen. To believe therefore that he may be seen corporally in the sacrament, is erroneous. And forasmuch as the body of Christ is the soul's food, and not the food of the body in this world, for that whosoever believeth doth eat spiritually and really, at any time when he so believeth; it is manifest that they do greatly err which believe that they eat not the body of Christ, but when they eat with their teeth the sacrament of the body of Christ.
"And although it should be to the great honour of priests, that the bread really were changed into the body of Christ, by the virtue of the sacramental words pronounced; yet if Christ would not have it to be so, then they, desiring to do this contrary to the will of Christ, and informing the people what is to be done, so contrary to the will of Christ, are in great peril, most dangerously seducing both themselves and the people. And then, although that hereby they get a little worldly and transitory honour for a short time, it is to be feared lest perpetual shame finally shall follow and ensue upon the same; for Christ saith, Every one that exalteth himself shall be brought low. Let them therefore take heed, lest they, extolling themselves for this sacrament above the company of angels which never sinned, for the error which they be in, for evermore be placed with the sinful angels under the earth.
"Let every man therefore think lowly of himself, in what state or degree soever he be; neither let him presume to do that which he is not able to do; neither desire to have that thing done, which God would not have done.
"I greatly marvel at those which were the makers of the canons, how variably, and contrary one to another, they write of this sacrament of the body of Christ. In the last part of the decrees where this matter is touched, not only in the text, but also in the process of the matter, divers do diversely write, and one contrary to another. For in the chapter that thus beginneth, Prima inquit hæresis, it is thus written, You shall not eat this body which you see, nor shall drink this blood which they shall shed which shall crucify me: I will commend unto you a certain sacrament spiritually understood that quickeneth you; for the flesh profiteth you nothing at all. And in the end of the same chapter it is thus written, Till the world shall have an end, the Lord's place is in heaven: yet notwithstanding the verity of the Lord is here abiding with us. For the body wherewith he rose ought to be in one place; but his verity is in every place diffused and spread abroad. And in the chapter following, which thus beginneth, Omnia quæcunque voluit, &c., it is written, Although the figure of the bread and wine seem to be nothing, yet, notwithstanding, they must, after the words of consecration, be believed to be none other thing than the very flesh of Christ, and his blood. Whereupon the Verity himself said unto his disciples, This is, saith he, my flesh, which is given for the life of the world, and to speak yet more marvellously, this is none other flesh than that which was born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered upon the cross, and rose out of the sepulchre.
"See how far this chapter differeth from the first. And in the chapter which beginneth, Ego Berengarius, &c., this is the confession which Berengarius himself confessed touching this sacrament, and his confession is of the church allowed: 'I confess,' saith Berengarius, that the bread and wine which is laid upon the altar after the consecration, is not only a sacrament, but also that it is the very body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ: and the same not only sensually to be a sacrament, but also verily to be handled with the priest's hands, and to be broken, and chewed with the teeth of faithful men.' This confession doubtless is heretical: for why? If the body of Christ be in the sacrament (as of the church it is so determined) it is there then multiplicative, and so indivisibiliter, wherefore not sensualiter. And if it be there indivisibiliter, that is, in such sort as it cannot be divided or separated, then can it not be touched, felt, broken, nor with the teeth of men chewed.
"The writers of this time and age do affirm, that if, by the negligence of the priest, the sacrament be so negligcently left, that a mouse, or any other beast or vermin, eat the same; then they say, that the sacrament returneth again into the nature and substance of bread. Whereby they must needs confess, that a miracle is as well wrought by the negligence of the priest, as first there was made by the consecration of the priest in making the sacrament. For either by the eating of the mouse the body of Christ is transubstantiated into the nature of bread, which is a transubstantiation supernatural, or else of nothing by creation is this bread produced; and therefore either of these operations is miraculous and to be marvelled at. Now, considering the disagreeing opinions of the doctors, and for the absurdities which follow, I believe with Paul, that the bread which we break, is the participation of the body of Christ; and, as Christ saith, that the bread is made the body of Christ for a memorial and remembrance of him. And in such sort as Christ willed the same to be his body, in the same manner and sort do I believe it to be his body.
"But, whether women may make the body of Christ, and minister it unto the people; or whether that priests be divided from the lay-people for their knowledge, pre-eminence, and sanctity of life, or else by external signs only; also, whether the sign of tonsure and other external signs of holiness in priests, be signs of antichrist and his characters, or else introduced and taught by our Lord Jesus Christ: consequently it remaineth next to speak thereof unto the faithful sort, according to the process of the Holy Scripture; and first, of the three kinds of the priests. I remember that I have read, the first of them to be Aaronical, legal, and temporal; the second to be eternal and regal, according to the order of Melchisedec; the third to be Christian. The first of these ceased at the coming of Christ; for that, as St. Paul to the Hebrews saith, The priesthood of Aaron was translated to the priesthood of the order of Melchisedec. The legal sort of priests of Aaron were separate from the rest of the people by kindred, office, and inheritance: by kindred, for that the children of Aaron only were priests: by office, for that it only pertained to them to offer sacrifice for the sins of the people, and to instruct the people in the precepts and ceremonies of the law: by inheritance, because the Lord was their portion of inheritance; neither had they any other inheritance amongst their brethren, but those things which were offered unto the Lord, as the first-fruits, parts of the sacrifices, and vows; except places for their mansion houses, for them and theirs, as appeareth by the process of Moses's law. The priesthood of Christ did much differ from this priesthood, as Paul doth witness to the Hebrews, chap. vii. -- x.
"First, in kindred: because that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came of the stock and tribe of Judah, of which tribe none had to do with the altar, and in which tribe nothing at all was spoken of the priests of Moses.
"Secondly, for that other were made priests without their oath taken; but he, by an oath by him which said, The Lord swore and it shall not repent him, Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedec.
"Thirdly, by durability; for that many of them were made priests but during the term of their lives; but he, for that he remaineth for ever, hath an eternal priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save us for ever, having by himself access unto God, which ever liveth to make intercession for us. The law made also such men priests as had infirmities; but Sermo (that is, the Word, which, according to the law, is the eternal Son and perfect) by an oath.
"The priesthood of Christ also did differ from the priesthood of Aaron and the law in the matter of the sacrifice, and in the place of sacrificing. In the matter of their sacrifice: because they did use in their sacrifices strange bodies of the matter of their sacrifices, and did shed strange blood for the expiation of sins; but he offering himself unto God his Father for us, shed his own blood for the remission of our sins. In the place of sacrificing: because that they did offer their sacrifice in the tabernacle or temple; but Christ suffering death without the gates of the city, offered himself upon the altar of the cross to God his Father, and there shed his precious blood. In his supping chamber, also, he blessed the bread, and consecrated the same for his body, and the wine which was in the cup he also consecrated for his blood; delivering the same to his apostles to be done for a commemoration and remembrance of his incarnation and passion. Neither did Jesus enter into the sanctuary made with man's hands, which be examples and figures of true things, but he entered into heaven itself, that he might appear before the Majesty of God for us. Neither doth he offer himself oftentimes, as the chief priest in the sanctuary did every year with strange blood (for then should he oftentimes have suffered from the beginning ); but now once for all, in the latter end of the world, to destroy sin by his peace-offering hath he entered. And even as it is decreed, that man once shall die, and then cometh the judgment, so Christ hath been once offered, to take away the sins of many. The second time be shall appear without sin to them that look for him, to their salvation. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, can never, by the image itself of things, (which every year without ceasing they offer by such sacrifices,) make those perfect that come thereunto; for otherwise that offering should have ceased, because that such worshippers, being once cleansed from their sins, should have no more conscience of sin. But in these, commemoration is made every year of sin; for it is impossible that by the blood of goats and calves, sins should be purged and taken away. Therefore, coming into the world he said, Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not have, but a body hast thou given me; peace-offerings for sins have not pleased thee: then said I, Behold I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will, O God: saying, as above, Because thou wouldst have no sacrifices nor burnt-offerings for sin, neither dost thou take pleasure in those things that are offered according to the law. Then said I, Behold I come, that I may do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first to establish that which followeth. In which will we are sanctified, by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest is ready daily ministering, and oftentimes offering like sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Jesus, offering one sacrifice for sin, sitteth for evermore on the right hand of God, expecting the time till his enemies be made his footstool. For by his own only oblation hath he consummated for evermore those that are sanctified.
"All these places have I recited which Paul writeth, for the better understanding and declaration of those things I mean to speak; by all which it appeareth manifestly, how the priesthood of Christ differeth from the legal priesthood of Aaron; and by the same also appeareth, how the same differeth from all other priesthood Christian, that imitateth Christ; for the properties of the priesthood of Christ, above recited, are found in no other priest, but in Christ alone.
"Of the third priesthood, that is, the Christian priesthood, Christ, by his express words, speaketh but little to make any difference between the priests and the rest of the people; neither yet doth use this name of sacerdos, in the gospel, but some he calleth disciples, some apostles, whom he sent to baptize and to preach, and in his name to do miracles. He calleth them the salt of the earth, in which name wisdom is meant; and he calleth them the light of the world, by which good living is signified: for he saith, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. And Paul, speaking of the priests to Timothy and Titus, seemeth not to me to make any diversity betwixt the priests and the other people, but in that he would have them to surmount other in knowledge and perfection of life.
"But the fourth priesthood is the Roman priesthood, brought in by the Church of Rome; which church maketh a distinction between the clergy and the lay-people; and after that the clergy is divided into sundry degrees, as appeareth in the decretals. This distinction of the clergy from the laity, with the tonsure of clerks, began in the time of Anacletus, as it doth appear in the chronicles. The degrees of the clergy were afterward invented and distinguished by their offices, and there was no ascension to the degree of the priesthood, but by inferior orders and degrees. But in the primitive church it was not so; for immediately after the conversion of some of them to faith and baptism received; they were made priests and bishops; as appeareth by Anianus, whom Marcus made of a tailor or shoemaker to be a bishop; and of many other it was in like case done, according to the traditions of the Church of Rome. Priests are ordained to offer sacrifices, to make supplication and prayers, and to bless and sanctify. The oblation of the priesthood only to priests (as they say) is congruent; whose duties are upon the altar to offer for the sins of the people of the Lord's body, which is consecrated of bread. Of which saying I have great marvel, considering St. Paul's words to the Hebrews before recited. If Christ, offering for our sins one oblation for evermore, sitteth at the right hand of God, and with that one oblation hath consummated for evermore those that are sanctified; if Christ evermore sitteth at the right hand of God, to make intercession for us; what need he to leave here any sacrifice for our sins, by the priests to be daily offered? I do not find in the Scriptures of God, nor of his apostles, that the body of Christ ought to be made a sacrifice for sin; but only as a sacrament and commemoration of the sacrifice passed, which Christ offered upon the altar of the cross for our sins. For it is an absurdity to say that Christ is now every day really offered as a sacrifice upon the altar by the priests; for then the priests should really crucify him upon the altar, which is a thing of no Christian to be believed. But even as in his supper his body and his blood he delivered to his disciples, in memorial of his body that should be crucified on the morrow for our sins: so, after his ascension, did his apostles use the same (when they brake bread in every house) for a sacrament, and not for a sacrifice, of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And by this means were they put in remembrance of the great love of Christ, who so entirely loved us, that willingly he suffered the death for us, and for the remission of our sins. And thus did they offer themselves to God by love, being ready to suffer death for the confession of his name, and for the saving health of his brethren, fulfilling the new commandment of Christ, which said unto them, A new commandment do I give unto you, that you love one another, as I have loved you. But when love began to wax cold, or rather to be frozen for cold, through the anguish and anxiety of persecution for the name of Christ; then priests did use the flesh and blood of Christ, instead of a sacrifice. And because many of them feared death, some of them fled into solitary places, not daring to give themselves a sacrifice by death unto God through the confession of his name, and saving health of their brethren; some other worshipped idols, fearing death, as did also the chief bishop of Rome, and many other more in divers places of the world. And thus it came to pass, that that which was ordained and constituted for a memorial of the one and only sacrifice, was altered, for want of love, into the reality of the sacrifice itself."
After these things thus discussed, he inferreth consequently upon the same, another brief tractation of women and laymen; whether, in defect of the other, they may exercise the action of prayer, and administration of sacraments belonging to priests; where he declareth the use received in the pope's church for women to baptize, which, saith he, cannot be without remission of sins; wherefore seeing that women have power by the pope to remit sin, and to baptize, why may not they as well be admitted to minister the Lord's supper, in like case of necessity? Wherein also he maketh relation of Pope Joan the Eighth, a woman pope, moving certain questions of her. All which, for brevity, I pretermit, proceeding to the ministration of prayer, and blessing of santification, appropriate to the office of priests, as followeth:
"Furthermore, as touching the function and office of praying and blessing, whereunto priests seem to be ordained, (to omit here the question whether women may pray in churches, in lack of other meet persons,) it remaineth now also to prosecute. Christ, being desired of his disciples to teach them to pray, gave them the common prayer both to men and women, to the which prayer in my estimation no other is to be compared. For in that, first, the whole honour due unto the Deity is comprehended. Secondly, whatsoever is necessary for us, both for the time present, or past, or for time to come, is there desired and prayed for. He informeth us besides to pray secretly, and also briefly; secretly to enter into our close chamber, and there in secrecy he willeth us to pray unto his Father. And saith, moreover, When ye pray, use not much babbling, or many words, as do the heathen; for they think in their long and prolix praying to be heard: therefore be you not like to them. By the which doctrine he calleth us away from the errors of the heathen Gentiles, from whom proceed these superstitious manners of arts, (or rather of ignorances,) as necromancy, the art of divination, and other species of conjuration, not unknown to them that be learned; for these necromancers believe one place to be of greater virtue than another; there to be heard sooner, than in another. Like as Balaam, being hired to curse the people of God by his art of soothsaying or charming, when he could not accomplish his purpose in one place, he removed to another; but he in the end was deceived of his desire: for he, intending first to curse them, was not able to accurse them whom the Lord blessed, so that his curse could not hurt any of all that people. After like sort the necromancers turn their face to the East, as to a place more apt for their prayers. Also the necromancers believe that the virtue of the words of the prayer, and the curiosity thereof, causeth them to bring to effect that which they seek after; which is also another point of infidelity, used much of charmers, sorcerers, enchanters, soothsayers, and such like. Out of the same art, I fear, proceedeth the practice of exorcising, whereby devils and spirits be conjured to do that whereunto they are enforced by the exorcist. Also, whereby other creatures likewise are exorcised or conjured, so that, by the virtue of their exorcism, they may have their power and strength exceeding all natural operation.
"In the Church of Rome many such exorcisms and conjurations be practised, and are called of them benedictions, or hallowings. But here I ask of these exorcisers, whether they believe the things and creatures so exorcised and hallowed, have that operation and efficacy given them which they pretend? If they so believe, every child may see that they are far beguiled. For holy water, being of them exorcised or conjured, hath no such power in it, neither can have, which they in their exorcism do command. For there they enjoin and command, that wheresoever that water is sprinkled, all vexation or infestation of the unclean spirit should avoid, and that no pestilent spirit there should abide, &c. But most plain it is, that no water, be it never so holy, can have any such power so to do, as it is commanded; to wit, to be a universal remedy to expel all diseases.
"This I would ask of these exorcists: whether in their commanding they do conjure, or adjure, the things conjured to be of a higher virtue or operation, than their own nature doth give; or else whether they in their prayers desire of God, that he will infuse into them that virtue which they require? If they, in their commanding, do so believe, then do they believe that they have that power in them to the which the inferior power of the thing exorcised must obey, in receiving that which is commanded. And so doing, they are much more deceived, forasmuch as they see themselves, that they which are so authorized to the office of exorcising, say to the devil being conjured, Go, and he goeth not; and to another, Come, and he cometh not: and many things else they command the inferior spirit, their subject, to do, and he doth not. So, in like case, when they pray to God to make the water to be of such virtue, that it may be to them health of mind and body, and that it may be able to expulse every unclean spirit, and to chase away all manner of distemperature and pestilence of the air, (being an unreasonable petition asked, and sore displeasing to God,) it is to be feared lest their benediction, their hallowing and blessing, is changed into cursing, according to that saying that followeth: And now, O you priests, I have a message to say unto you; if you will not hear and bear well away in your minds, to give the glory unto my name, saith the Lord God of hosts, I will send scarcity amongst you, and I will curse your blessings. What things, and how many, were blessed or hallowed in the church, that in hallowing thereof displease God, and are accursed? And therefore, according to the saying of St. James, chap. iv., they ask and are not heard, because they ask not as they should, that they in their own desires may perish. Let a man behold the blessing or hallowing of their fire, water, incense, wax, bread, wine, the church, the altar, the churchyard, ashes, bells, copes, palms, oil, candles, salt, the hallowing of the ring, the bed, the staff, and of many such-like things; and I believe that a man shall find out many errors of the heathen magicians, witches, soothsayers, and charmers. And notwithstanding the ancient and old magicians, in their books, command those that be conjurers, that they in any wise live devoutly, (for otherwise, as they say, the spirits will not obey their commandments and conjurations,) yet the Roman conjurers do impute it to the virtue of the holy words, because they be they which work, and not the holiness of the conjurers. How cometh it to pass that, they say, the things consecrated of a cursed and vicious javel should have so great virtue in pronouncing (as they say) the holy and mystical words, as if they were pronounced of a priest never so holy? But I marvel that they say so, reading this saying in the Acts of the Apostles: because the charmers pronouncing the name of Jesus, that is above all names, would have healed those that were possessed with devils, and said, In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preacheth, go ye out of the men; and the possessed with devils answered, Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but what are ye? And they all to be beat the conjurers.
"And now, considering this and many such-like things, I marvel wherefore the vicious priests do sell their prayers and blessings dearer (as also their masses and trentals of masses) than those that be devout laymen, and holy women, which, with all their heart, desire to flee from vices, and take hold of virtue: forasmuch as God, in divers places of the Scripture, doth promise that he will not hear sinners and wicked persons; neither should he seem to be just, if he should sooner hear the prayers of his enemies, than of his faithful friend. How, I pray you, shall a sinful priest deliver another man from sin by his prayers, or else from the punishment of sin, when he is not able to deliver himself, by his prayers, from sin? What then doth God so much accept in the mass of a vicious priest, that for his mass, his prayer or oblation, he might deliver any man either from sin, or from the pain due for sin? No, but for this, that Christ once offered himself for our sins, and now sitteth on the right hand of God the Father, always showing unto him what and how great things he hath suffered for us. And every priest always maketh mention in his mass of this oblation; neither do we this that we might bring the same oblation into the remembrance of God, because that he always, in his presence, seeth the same; but that we should have in remembrance this so great love of God, that he would give his own Son to death for our sins, that he might cleanse and purify us from our sins. What doth it please God, that the remembrance of so great love is made by a priest which more loveth sin than God? Or how can any prayer of such a priest please God, in what holy place soever he he, or what holy vestments soever he put on, or what holy prayers soever he maketh? And, whereas Christ and his apostles do command the preaching of the word of God, the priests be now more bound to celebrate the mass, and more straitly bound to say the canonical hours; whereat I cannot but greatly marvel. For why? To obey the precepts of men more than the commandments of God, is in effect to honour man as God, and to bestow the sacrifice upon man which is due unto God, and this is also spiritual fornication. How, therefore, are priests bound, at the commandment of man, to leave the preaching of the word of God, at whose commandment they are not bound to leave the celebration of the mass, or singing of matins? Therefore, as it seemeth, priests ought not, at the commandment of any man, to leave the preaching of the word of God, unto the which they are bound both by Divine and apostolical precepts. With whom agreeth the writing of Jerome upon the decretals, saying in this wise; Let none of the bishops swell with the envy of devilish temptation; let none be angry, if the priest do sometimes exhort the people; if they preach in the church, &c. For to him that forbiddeth me these things I will say, that he is unwilling that priests should do those things which be commanded of God. What thing is there above Christ? or what may be preferred before his body and his blood? &c.
"Do priests therefore sin or not, which bargain for money to pray for the soul of any dead man? It is well known that Jesus did whip those that were buyers and sellers out of the temple, saying, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made the same a den of thieves. Truly he cast not out such merchants from out of the church, but because of their sins. Whereupon Jerome, upon this text, saith; Let the priest be diligent and take good heed in this church, that they turn not the house of God into a den of thieves. He doubtless is a thief which seeketh gain by religion, and by a show of holiness studieth to find occasion of merchandise. Hereupon the holy canons do make simoniacal heresy accursed, and do command that those should be deprived of the priesthood, which, for the surpassing or marvellous spiritual grace, do seek gain or money. Peter, the apostle, said to Simon Magus, Let thy money and thou go both to the devil, which thinkest that the gifts of God may be bought for money. Therefore the spiritual gifts of God ought not to be sold.
"Verily prayer is the spiritual gift of God, as is also the preaching of the word of God, or the laying on of hands, or the administration of other the sacraments. Christ, sending forth his disciples to preach, said unto them, Heal ye the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead; freely ye have received, freely give ye again. If the priest have power by his prayers to deliver souls being in purgatory from grievous pains, without doubt he hath received that power freely from God. How, therefore, can he sell his act, unless he resist the commandments of God, of whom he hath reccived that authority? This truly cannot be done without sin, which is against the commandment of God. How plainly spake Christ to the Pharisees and priests, saying; Woe be unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because ye have eaten the whole houses of such as be widows by making long prayers, and therefore have you received greater damnation? Wherein, I pray you, do our Pharisees and priests differ from them? Do not our priests devour widows' houses and possessions, that by their long prayers they might deliver the souls of their husbands from the grievous pains of purgatory? How many lordships, I pray you, have been bestowed upon the religious men and women to pray for the dead, that they, by their prayer, might deliver those dead men from the pain (as they said) that they suffer in purgatory, grievously tormented and vexed? If their prayers and speaking of holy words shall not be able to deliver themselves from pain, unless they have good works, how shall other men be delivered from pain by their prayers, which, whilst they lived here, gave themselves over to sin? Yea, peradventure those lordships or lands, which they gave unto the priests to pray for them, they themselves have gotten by might, from other faithful men, unjustly, and violently: and the canons do say, that sin is not forgiven, till the thing taken away wrongfully be restored: how then shall they be able (which do unjustly possess such lordships or lands) to deliver them by their prayers from pain, which have given to them these lordships or lands, seeing God, from the beginning, hath hated all extortion in his burnt-sacrifices? Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he which doth the will of my Father which is in heaven. And again, Not the hearers of the law, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
"If, therefore, the words of him that prayeth, do not deliver himself from sin, nor from the pain of sin, how do they deliver other men from sin or from the pain of sin, when no man prayeth more earnestly for another man than for himself? Therefore many are deceived in buying or selling of prayers, as in the buying of pardons, that they might be delivered from pain; whenas commonly they pay dearer for the prayers of the proud and vicious prelates, than for the prayers of devout women and devout men of the lay-people. But, out of doubt, God doth not regard the person of him that prayeth, neither the place in which he prayeth, nor his apparel, nor the curiousness of his prayer, but the humility and godly affection of him that prayeth. Did not the Pharisee and the publican go up into the temple to pray? The publican's prayer, for his humility and godly affection, is heard. But the Pharisee's prayer, for his pride and arrogancy, is contemned. Consider that neither the person, nor the place, nor the state, nor the curiousness of his prayer, doth help the Pharisee: because the publican, not thinking himself worthy to lift up his eyes unto heaven, for the multitude of his sins, saying, O God! be merciful unto me a sinner, is justified by his humility, and his prayer is heard. But the Pharisee, boasting in his righteousness, is despised; because God thrusteth down the proud, and exalteth the humble and those that be meek. The rich glutton also, that was clothed with purple and silk, and fared every day daintily, prayed unto Abraham, and is not heard, but is buried in pains and torments of hell-fire. But Lazarus, which lay begging at his gate, being full of sores, is placed in the bosom of Abraham. Behold that neither the riches of his apparel, nor the deliciousness of his banquets, nor the gorgeousness of his estate, neither the abundance of his riches, doth help any thing to prefer the prayers or petitions of the rich glutton, nor yet diminish his torments, because that mighty men in their mightiness, shall suffer torments mightily. How dare any man, by composition, demand or receive any thing of another man for his prayers? If he believe that he can, by his prayer, deliver his brother from grievous pain, he is bound by charity to relieve his brother with his prayers, although he be not hired thereunto: but if he will not pray unless he be hired, then hath he no love at all. What therefore helpeth his prayer which abideth not in charity? Therefore let him first take compassion of himself by prayer, that he may come into charity, and then he shall be the better able to help others. If he believe not, or if he standeth in doubt whether he shall be able to deliver his brother by his prayer, wherefore doth he make with him an assured bargain, and taketh his money, and yet knoweth not whether he shall relieve him ever a whit the more or not, from his pain? I fear lest the words of the prophet are fulfilled, saying, From the least to the most, all men apply themselves to covetousness; and from the prophet to the priest, all work deceitfully. For the poor priests excuse themselves of such bargaining and selling of their prayers, saying, The young cock learneth to crow of the old cock. For, say they, thou mayest see that the pope himself, in stalling of bishops and abbots, taketh the first-fruits: in the placing or bestowing of benefices he always taketh somewhat, and especially if the benefices be great. And he selleth pardons and bulls; and, to speak more plain, he taketh money for them. Bishops, in giving orders, in hallowing churches and churchyards, do take money; in ecclesiastical correction they take money for the mitigation of penance; in the grievous offences of convict persons, money is required, and caused to be paid. Abbots, monks, and other religious men that have possession, will receive no man into their fraternity, or make them partakers of their spiritual suffrages, unless he bestow somewhat upon them, or promise them somewhat. Curates and vicars, having sufficient livings by the tithes of their parishioners, yet in dirges and years-minds, in hearing confessions, in weddings and buryings, do require and have money. The friars, also, of the four orders of beggars, which think themselves to be the most perfect men of the church, do take money for their prayers, confessions, and buryings of the dead; and when they preach, they believe that they shall have either money or some other thing worth money. Wherefore then be the poor priests blamed? ought not they to be held excused, although they take money for their prayers by composition? Truly, me thinketh that this excuse by other men's sins doth not excuse them, forasmuch as to heap one mischief upon another's head, is no sufficient discharge. I would to God that all the buyers and sellers of spiritual suffrages would with the eyes of their heart behold the ruin of the great city, and the fall of Babylon, and that which they shall say after that fall. Doth not the prophet say, And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn for her, because no man shall buy any more their merchandise; that is, their merchandise of gold and silver, and of precious stone, and of pearl, and of silk and purple? And again, he saith, And the merchants which were made rich by her, shall stand aloof for fear of her torments, weeping, mourning, and saying, Alas! alas! that city Babylon, that great city, which was wont to wear purple, white silk, crimson, gold, pearl, and precious stone, because that in one hour all those riches are come to nought. And again, And they cast dust upon their heads, and cried out, weeping, and mourning, and saying, Alas! alas! that great and mighty city Babylon, by whom all such as had ships upon the sea were made rich by her rewards; because that in one hour she is become desolate.
"Thus, reverend father, have I made mine answer to the matter whereof I am accused; beseeching you, that as I have been obedient to your desire, and that even as a son, declaring unto you the secrets of my heart in plain words (although rudely); so I may know your opinion, and crave your fatherly benevolence, that now your labour may be for my instruction and amendment, and not to accusation and condemnation. For like as in the beginning, I have promised you, if any man, of what state, sect, or condition soever he be, can show me any error in any of my writings by the authority of Holy Scripture, or by any probable reason grounded onthe Scriptures; I will receive his information willingly and humbly."
After that all the aforesaid things were exhibited and given by the aforesaid Walter Brute, unto the aforesaid bishop of Hereford, he further appointed to the same Walter, the third day of the month of October, at Hereford, with the continuance of the days following, to hear his opinion. Which third day now at hand, being Friday, in the year of our Lord God 1393, the said Walter Brute appeared before him, sitting in commission in the cathedral church of Hereford, at six o'clock or thereabout; having for his assistants in the same place, divers prelates, abbots, and twenty bachelors of divinity, whereof twelve were monks, and two doctors of the law. Amongst these was Nicholas Herford, accompanied with many other prelates and worshipful men and wise graduates in sundry faculties. Now was the aforesaid Walter apposed of his writings aforesaid, and the contents therein. Earnest were they in picking out of those writings his heresies, and in showing his schisms, sundry errors, and divers other things. Now, after that they had continued all that day and the two days following, (that is, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday,) in their informations and examinations against the same Walter Brute, the same Walter Brute submitted himself to the determination of the church, and to the correction of the said John, bishop, as it appeareth word for word in a scroll written in the English tongue: the tenor of which scroll is as followeth
"I, Walter Brute, submit myself principally to the evangel of Jesus Christ, and to the determination of holy kirk, and to the general councils of holy kirk. And to the sentence and determination of the four doctors of holy writ; that is, Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and Gregory. And I meekly submit me to your correction, as a subject ought to his bishop."
Which scroll, as before is recited, in the English tongue, the aforesaid Walter Brute read, with a loud and intelligible voice, at the cross in the churchyard, on Monday, that is to say, the sixth of the said month of October, before the sermon made unto the people, in presence of the said bishop of Hereford and other above written, as also other barons, knights, and noblemen, and clergy, and also a great multitude of people. After which reading of the scroll, the aforesaid Thomas Crawlay, bachelor of divinity, made a sermon unto the people, and took for his theme the words of the apostle to the Romans, chap. xi. 20, that is as followeth: Be not over-wise in your own conceits, but stand in fear, &c.
Out of these declarations and writings of Walter Brute, the bishop, with the monks and doctors above rehearsed, did gather and draw certain articles, to the number of thirty-seven, which they sent to the university of Cambridge to be confuted, unto two learned men, Master Colwill and Master Newton, bachelors of divinity: which Masters Colwill and Newton did both labour in the matter, to the uttermost of their cunning, in replying and answering to the said thirty-seven articles.
Besides them also, William Woodford, a friar, who wrote likewise against the articles of Wickliff, labouring in the same cause, made a solemn and a long tractation; compiling the articles of the said Brute, to the number of nine and twenty: all which treatises, as I wish to come to the reader's hand, that the slenderness of them might be known; so it may happen percase, that the same being in my hands may hereafter be further published, with other like tractations more, as convenient time, for the prolixity thereof, may hereafter better serve than now.
What, after this, became to this Walter Brute, or what end he had, I find it not registered; but like it is, that he for this time escaped. Certain other writings I find, moreover, which albeit they bear no name of this Walter, nor of any certain author, yet because they are in the same register adjoined to the history of him, I thought therefore most fit here to be inserted: of the which one was a letter sent to Nicholas Herford, a little above specified, who, being at the first a great follower of John Wickliff, as appeareth before, was now in the number of them which sat upon this Walter, as is above recorded. The copy of this letter, bearing no name of any special author, but only as sent by a certain Lollard, as the register doth term him, is written in the manner and form as followeth.
"Forasmuch as no man that putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back, is meet for the kingdom of God, as our Saviour Christ saith, what marvel is it, although Master Nicholas Herford, which at the first (by the visitation of the Spirit of God, peradventure) put his hand, that is, gave his diligence unto the plough; that is, to the sowing of the word of God and Holy Scripture, as well in preaching as in doing good works, is now so blind and unskilful to expound the Scripture, that he knoweth not what is understood by the kingdom of heaven? Truly it is no marvel, O thou that art the master of the Nicolaitans! which, like Nicholas the most false deacon, hast left or forsaken the infallible knowledge of the Holy Scripture: for the true knowledge of the theological verity is shut up as well from thee as from all the other Nicolaitans following thy conditions; forasmuch as thou goest not in by the door to expound the same evangelical verity. Therefore when thou didst recite this other day, first, the Pharisaical and hypocritical woe, (nothing at all to any purpose,) thou shouldest have said justly in this sort, both of thyself, and other thy followers and religious antichrists: Woe be unto us, scribes and Pharisees, which shut up the kingdom of heaven! that is to say, the true knowledge of the Holy Scriptures before men, by our false glosses and crooked similitudes; and neither we ourselves enter into the same kingdom or knowledge, nor suffer others to enter into it. Wherefore, it seemeth unto the faithful sort, that wrongfully, falsely, and without any reverence, ye have expounded that text of Gregory, 1 quæst. 1, that is to say, Quicunque studet, &c. For this is the true understanding of the same: knowing, first, that there be some priests after the thing and name only; and doth show that this is true, that whosoever studieth to receive the holy order by giving of money, he is not a priest, secundum rem et nomen; but, to say the truth, he desireth to be called a priest, that is, to be a priest secundum nomen tantum. And such a priest, which is a priest in name only, is no priest; no more than St. Mary painted is St. Mary; nor a false doctor a doctor, but no doctor; and a man painted is not a man, but no man. And thus such a priest in name only is not a priest; because that all faithful men do firmly believe with St. Gregory, that no man buying the holy orders, may then be called a priest, as he saith, 1 quæst. 1, They that buy or sell holy orders can be no priests. Whereupon it is written, Anathema danti, and Anathema accipienti; that is, simoniacal heresy. And it followeth, How, therefore, if they be accursed and not blessed, can they make others blessed? And when that they be not in the body of Christ, how can they either receive or deliver the body of Christ? He that is accursed, how can he bless? as though he would say, It is impossible. As Pope Urban saith, 1 quæst. 1, Si quis a simoniacis, &c., They that willingly know and suffer themselves to be consecrated, nay rather execrated, of those that are infected with simony, we judge that their consecration is altogether void. Also Pope Leo, in 2 quæst. 1, saith in this wise: Grace, if it be not freely given and received, is not grace. Spiritual usurers do not receive freely: therefore they receive not the spiritual grace, which specially worketh in the ecclesiastical orders. If they receive it not, they have it not: if they have it not freely, they cannot give it freely. And by this it is more clear than the light, that they which know so much, and receive orders by spiritual usury or simony, are neither priests nor deacons, neither after the manner nor character. For if such character or mark were otherwise given in giving orders, it were requisite always that there should be a certain grace imprinted in the man; but there is no such grace given or imprinted, as afore is manifest. Therefore there is no such character to be feigned. Therefore such character or mark abideth not in him, forasmuch as he never had, nor hath, the same. And yet furthermore, in the same place, What then do the simoniacal prelates give? And he maketh answer, Truly even that which they have, as the spirit of lying. How prove we this? Because that if it be the spirit of verity, as the same verity doth testify from whom it cometh, it is freely received. And it followeth for the whole purpose no doubt, it is convicted to be the spirit of lying, which is not freely received.
"By this it appeareth manifestly to the faithful sort, that those which wittingly and simoniacally are made priests, forasmuch as they receive not the character of the Lord, but only the spirit of lying and the mark of Simon Magus, and of Judas the traitor, they be not priests neither according to the mark nor manner: and such do no more make the sacraments of the church, than any other laymen may in the time of necessity; nor yet so truly, during their heretical naughtiness. And yet indeed, brother mine, uni voce natura, but yet æqui voce in moribus; I do not write thus sharply unto you, through anger, or any imperfect hate, but through the perfect hate of your horrible heresy and denying the faith of Christ, that I may say with David in the psalm, Perfecto odio oderam, &c. And I am very sorry for you, that you, which in times past have excellently well and fruitfully preached the gospel in the pulpit, do now as well fail in the congruity of the Latin tongue, as in the other science natural. For, as it was heard, thrice in one lecture you said appetítis; that is to say, pronouncing the middle syllable long, which thing not only the masters, but also the young scholars, understood. And many other faults there were in your grammar, which for shame I dare not recite. I send unto you these five conclusions.
"First, It is an infallible verity that the words of the four chief doctors, expounding the Holy Scripture according to the verity which the words do pretend, are to be holden.and kept.
"Second, He which importeth any equivocation out of any of the doctors' expounding, for the colouring of his text, his equivocation is always to be left.
"Third, No perversion of any reprobate is able to turn the congregation of the elect from the faith, because all things that shall come to pass are eternally in God, devised and ordained for the best unto the elect Christians.
"Fourth, Like as the mystical body of Christ is the congregation of all the elect, so antichrist, mystically, is the church of the wicked and of all the reprobates.
"Fifth, The conclusions of Swinderby be agreeable to the faith in every part."
This letter was thus subscribed: "By the Spirit of God, sometime visiting you."