Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 84. A LETTER FROM LUCIFER TO THE POPE AND PRELATES

84. A LETTER FROM LUCIFER TO THE POPE AND PRELATES

Besides this epistle above prefixed, there is also found annexed with the same, a device of another certain letter counterfeited under the name of Lucifer, prince of darkness, writing to the pope and all popish prelates, persecuting the true and right church with all might and main, to maintain their pride and domination in this earth, under a colourable pretence and visor of the catholic church and succession apostolical: which letter, although it seemeth in some authors to be ascribed to Ocham, above mentioned; yet, because I find it in the same register of the church of Hereford contained, and inserted among the tractations of Walter Brute, and devised, as the register said, by the Lollards, I thought no meeter place than here to annex the same; the tenor whereof thus proceedeth in words as follow:

"I, Lucifer, prince of darkness and profound heaviness, emperor of the high mysteries of the king of Acheron, captain of the dungeon, Erebus king of hell, and controller of the infernal fire: To all our children of pride, and companions of our kingdom, and especially to our princes of the church of this latter age and time, (of which our adversary Jesus Christ, according to the prophet, saith, I hate the church or congregation of the wicked,) send greeting; and wish prosperity to all that obey our commandments, as also to those that be obedient to the laws of Satan already enacted, and that are diligent observers of our behests, and the precepts of our decree.

"Know ye that in times past certain vicars or vicegerents of Christ, following his steps in miracles and virtues, living and continuing in a beggarly life, converted, in a manner, the whole world from the yoke of our tyranny unto their doctrine and manner of life, to the great derision and contempt of our prison-house and kingdom, and also to the no little prejudice and hurt of our jurisdiction and authority; not fearing to hurt our fortified power, and to offend the majesty of our estate. For then received we no tribute of the world, neither did the miserable sort of common people rush at the gates of our deep dungeon as they were wont to do, with continual pealing and rapping; but then the easy, pleasant, and broad way, which leadeth to death, lay still, without great noise of trampling travellers, neither yet was trod with the feet of miserable men. And when all our courts were without suitors, hell then began to howl; and thus, continuing in great heaviness and anguish, was robbed and spoiled: which thing considered, the impatient rage of our stomach could no longer suffer, neither the ugly, reckless negligence of our great captain-general could any longer endure; but we, seeking remedy for the time that should come after, have provided us of a very trim shift. For, instead of these apostles and other their adherents which draw by the same line of theirs, as well in manners as doctrine, and are odious enemies unto us, we have caused you to be their successors, and put you in their place, which be prelates of the church in these latter times, by our great might and subtlety, as Christ hath said of you: They have reigned, but not by me. Once we promised unto him all the kingdoms of the world if he would fall down and worship us; but he would not, saying, My kingdom is not of this world, and went his way when the multitude would have made him a temporal king. But to you, truly, which are fallen from the state of grace, and that serve us in the earth, is that my promise fulfilled; and by our means all terrene things which we have bestowed upon you, are under your government: for he hath said of us, as ye know, The prince of this world cometh, &c., and hath made us to reign over all children of unbelief. Therefore our adversaries before recited did patiently submit themselves unto the princes of the world, and did teach that men should do so, saying, Be ye subject to every creature for God's cause, whether it be to the king, as most chief: and again, Obey ye them that are made rulers over you, &c. For so their Master commanded them, saying, The kings of the heathen have dominion over them, &c. But I think it long till we have poured our poison upon the earth, and therefore fill yourselves full.

"And now, be ye not only unlike those fathers, but also contrary unto them in your life and conditions; and extol yourselves above all other men. Neither do ye give to God that which belongeth to him, nor yet to Cæsar that which is his: but exercise you the power of both the swords, according to our decrees, making yourselves doers in worldly matters, fighting in our quarrel, entangled with secular labours and business. And climb ye, by little and little, from the miserable state of poverty, unto the highest seats of all honours, and the most princely places of dignity by your devised practices, and false and deceitful wiles and subtlety: that is, by hypocrisy, flattery, lying, perjury, treasons, deceits, simony, and other greater wickedness than which our infernal furies may devise. For after that ye have by us been advanced thither where ye would be, yet that doth not suffice you, but, as greedy shavelings, more hungry than ye were before, ye suppress the poor, scrateh and rake together all that comes to hand, perverting and turning every thing topsyturvy; so swollen, that ready ye are to burst for pride, living like lechers in all corporal delicateness, and by fraud directing all your doings. You challenge to yourselves names of honour in the earth, calling yourselves lords, holy, yea, and most holy persons.

"Thus, either by violence ye ravin, or else by ambition subtlely ye pilfer away, and wrongfully wrest, and by false title possess, those goods, which for the sustentation of the poor members of Christ, (whom from our first fall we have hated,) were bestowed and given, consuming them as ye yourselves list; and therewith ye cherish and maintain an innumerable sort of whores, strumpets, and bawds, with whom ye ride pompously like mighty princes, far otherwise going than those poor beggarly priests of the primitive church. For I would ye should build yourselves rich and gorgeous palaces; yea, and fare like princes, eating and drinking the daintiest meats and pleasantest wines that may be gotten: hoard and heap together an infinite deal of treasure, not like to him that said, Gold and silver have I none: serve and fight for us according to your wages! O most acceptable society or fellowship, promised unto us by the prophet, and of those fathers long ago reproved: whilst that Christ called thee the synagogue of Satan, and likened thee to the mighty whore which committed fornication with the kings of the earth, the adulterous spouse of Christ, and of a chaste person made a strumpet. Thou hast left thy first love and hast cleaved unto us, O our beloved Babylon! O our citizens, which from the transmigration of Jerusalem come hither! we love you for your deserts; we rejoice over you, which contemn the laws of Simon Peter, and embrace the laws of Simon Magus our friend, and have them at your fingers' ends; and exercise the same publicly, buying and selling spiritual things in the church of God, and against the commandment of God. Ye give benefices and honours by petition, or else for money; for favour, or else for filthy service: and refusing to admit those that be worthy to ecclesiastical dignities, and preferring those that are unworthy, you call unto the inheritance of God's sanctuary, bawds, liars, flatterers, your nephews, and your own children; and to a childish boy ye give many prebends, the least whereof ye deny to bestow upon a poor good man: ye esteem the person of a man, and receive gifts; ye regard money and have no regard of souls. Ye have made the house of God a den of thieves. All abuse, all extortion, is more exercised a hundred-fold in your judgment-seats, than with any secular tyrant. Ye make laws and keep not the same; and ye dispense with your dispensations as it pleaseth you; you justify the wicked for rewards, and you take away the just man's desert from him. And, briefly, ye perpetrate or commit all kind of mischief, even as it is our will ye should. And ye take much pain for lucre's sake, in our service; and, especially, to destroy the Christian faith; for now the lay-people are almost in doubt what they may believe; because, if ye preach any thing to them, (as sometimes, although it be but seldom seen, and that negligently enough, even as we would have it,) yet, notwithstanding, they believe you not, because they see manifestly that ye do clean contrary to that ye say. Whereupon the common people, doing as ye do which have the government of them, and should be an example to them of well-doing; now, many of them, leaning to your rules, do run headlong into a whole sea of vices, and so, continually, a very great multitude flocketh at the strong and well-fenced gates of our dungeon. And doubtless ye send us so many day by day of every sort and kind of people, that we should not be able to entertain them, but that our insatiable chaos, with her thousand ravening jaws, is sufficient to devour an infinite number of souls: and thus the sovereignty of our empire by you hath been reformed, and our intolerable loss restored. Wherefore, most specially we commend you, and give you most hearty thanks; exhorting you all that in any wise ye persevere and continue, as hitherto ye have done; neither that you slack henceforth your enterprise. For why? by your helps we purpose to bring the whole world again under our power and dominion. Over and besides this, we commit unto you no small authority, to supply our places in the betraying of your brethren; and we make and ordain you our vicars, and the ministers of antichrist our son, now hard at hand, for whom ye have made a very trim way and passage. Furthermore, we counsel you which occupy the highest rooms of all others, that you work subtlely, and that ye feignedly procure peace between the princes of the world, and that ye cherish and procure secret causes of discord. And, like as craftily ye have destroyed and subverted the Roman empire, so suffer ye no kingdom to be overmuch enlarged or enriched by tranquillity and peace; lest perhaps in so great tranquillity, all desire of peace set aside, they dispose themselves to view and consider your most wicked works, suppressing on every side your estate; and from your treasures take away such substance as we have caused to be reserved and kept in your hands, until the coming of our well-beloved son antichrist. We would ye should do our commendations to our entirely beloved daughters, Pride, Deceit, Wrath, Avarice, Belly-cheer, and Lechery, and to all other our daughters; and specially to Lady Simony, which hath made you men, and enriched you; and hath given you suck with her own breasts, and weaned you, and therefore see that in no wise you call her Sin. And be ye lofty and proud, because that the most high dignity of your estate doth require such magnificence: and also be ye covetous, for whatsoever you get and gather into your fardel, it is for St. Peter, for the peace of the church, and for the defence of your patrimony and the crucifix; and therefore ye may lawfully do it. Ye may promote your cardinals to the highest seat of dignities without any let in all the world, in stopping the mouth of our adversary Jesus Christ, and alleging again, that he preferred his kinsfolks, being but of poor and base degree, unto the apostleship; but do not you so, but rather call, as ye do, those that live in arrogancy, in haughtiness of mind, and filthy lechery, unto the state of wealthy riches and pride; and those rewards and promotions, which the followers of Christ forsook, do ye distribute unto your friends. Therefore, as ye shall have better understanding, prepare ye vices cloaked under the similitude of virtues. Allege for yourselves the glosses of the Holy Scripture, and wrest them directly to serve for your purpose: and if any man preach or teach otherwise than ye will, oppress ye him violently with the sentence of excommunication; and by your censures heaped one upon another, by the consent of your brethren, let him be condemned as a heretic, and let him be kept in most strait prison, and there tormented till he die, for a terrible example to all such as confess Christ. And, setting all favour apart, cast him out of your temple; lest, peradventure, the ingrafted word may save your souls, which word I do abhor as I do the souls of other faithful men. And do your endeavour that ye may deserve to have the place which we have prepared for you, under the most wicked foundation of our dwelling-place. Fare ye well, with such felicity as we desire and intend, finally, to reward and recompense you with.

"Given at the centre of the earth, in that our dark place, where all the rabblement of devils was present, specially for this purpose called unto our most dolorous consistory; under the character of our terrible seal, for the confirmation of the premises."

Who was the true author of this poesy or epistle above written, it is not evidently known; neither doth it greatly skill. The matter being well considered on their part which here be noted, may minister unto them sufficient occasion of wholesome admonition, either to remember themselves what is amiss, or to bethink with themselves what is to be amended. Divers other writings of like argument, both before and since, have been devised; as one bearing the title, Luciferi ad malos Principes Ecclesiasticos, imprinted first at Paris in Latin; and under the writing thereof, bearing this date, A. D. 1351; which if ye count from the passion of the Lord, reacheth well to the time of Wickliff, 1385; which was above six years before the examination of this Walter Brute.

There is also another epistle of Lucifer, prince of darkness, mentioned in the epistle of the school of Prague, to the university of Oxford, set forth by Hulderic Hutten, about the year of our Lord (as is there dated) 1370; which seemeth to be written before this epistle.

Also Vincentius, in Speculo Hist. lib. 25. cap. 89, inferreth like mention of a letter of the fiends infernal unto the clergymen, as in a vision represented, four hundred years before. In which the devils gave thanks to the spiritual men, for that by their silence, and not preaching the gospel, they sent infinite souls to hell, &c.

Divers other letters also of like device have been written, and also recorded in authors: whereunto may be added, that one, Jacobus Carthusiensis, writing to the bishop of Worms, allegeth out of the prophecy of Hildegard, in these words: "Therefore, saith he, the devil may say of you priests in himself, The meats of banqueting dishes, and feasts of all kind of pleasure, I find in these men; yea, also mine eyes, mine ears, my belly, and all my veins be full of their frothing, and my breasts be full stuffed with their riches," &c. "Furthermore," saith he, "they labour every day to rise up higher with Lucifer, but every day they fall with him more deeply."

Hereunto also appertaineth a story written, and commonly found in many old written books: In the year of our Lord 1228, at Paris in a synod of the clergy, there was one appointed to make a sermon; who being much careful in his mind, and solicitous what to say, the devil came to him, and asking him why he was so careful for his matter what he should preach to the clergy; say thus, quoth he, The princes of hell salute you, O you princes of the church, and gladly give you thanks, because through your default and negligence it cometh to pass, that all souls go down to hell. Adding, moreover, that he was also enforced by the commandment of God to declare the same; yea, and that a certain token, moreover, was given to the said clerk for a sign, whereby the synod might evidently see that he did not lie.

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