191. JOHN LAMBERT
The history of the worthy martyr of God, John Lambert, otherwise named Nicholson, with his troubles, examinations, and answers, as well before Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and other bishops, as also before King Henry the Eighth, by whom at length he was condemned to death, and burned in Smithfield, in A.D. 1538.MMEDIATELY upon the ruin and destruction of the monasteries, the same year, and in the month of November, followed the trouble and condemnation of John Lambert, the faithful servant of Jesus Christ, and martyr of blessed memory. This Lambert, being born and brought up in Norfolk, was first converted by Bilney, and studied in the university of Cambridge; where after that he had sufficiently profited both in Latin and Greek, and had translated out of both tongues sundry things into the English tongue, being forced at last by violence of the time, he departed from thence to the parts beyond the seas, to Tyndale and Frith, and there remained the space of a year and more, being preacher and chaplain to the English House at Antwerp, till he was disturbed by Sir Thomas More, and, by the accusation of one Barlow, was carried from Antwerp to London; where he was brought to examination first at Lambeth, then at the bishop's house at Otford, before Warham, the archbishop of Canterbury, and other adversaries; having five and forty articles ministered against him, whereunto he rendered answer again by writing: the which answers, forasmuch as they contain great learning, and may give some light to the better understanding of the common causes of religion now in controversy, I thought here to exemplify the same, as they came right happily to our hands. The copy both of the articles, and also of his answers, here in order followeth.
"Imprimis, Whether thou wast suspected or infamed of heresy?
"II. Whether ever thou hadst any of Luther's books, and namely, since they were condemned? and how long thou didst keep them, and whether thou hast spent any study on them?
"III. Whether thou wast constituted priest, and in what diocese, and of what bishop?
"IV. Whether it be lawful for a priest to marry a wife, and whether a priest in some case be bound by the law of God to marry a wife?
"V. Whether thou believest that whatsoever is done of man, whether it be good or ill, cometh of necessity?
"VI. Whether the sacrament of the altar be a sacrament necessary unto salvation? and whether after the consecration of the bread and wine done by the priest, as by the minister of God, there is the very body and blood of Christ, in likeness of bread and wine?
"VII. Item, What opinion thou holdest touching the sacrament of baptism? whether thou dost believe that it is a sacrament of the church, and a necessary sacrament unto salvation, and that a priest may baptize; and that the order of baptizing ordained by the church, is necessary and wholesome?
"VIII. Item, Whether thou believest that matrimony be a sacrament of the church necessary to be observed in the church, and that the order appointed by the church for the solemnizing thereof is allowable and to be holden?
"IX. Item, Whether thou dost believe orders to be a sacrament of the church, and that saying of mass, ordained by the church, is to be observed of priests? whether it be deadly sin or not, if it be omitted or contemned; and whether the order of priesthood were invented by man's imagination, or ordained by God?
"X. Item, Whether penance be a sacrament of the church, and necessary unto salvation; and whether auricular confession is to be made unto the priest, or is necessary unto salvation? and whether thou believest that a Christian is bound, besides contrition of heart, having the free use of an apt or free priest, under necessity of salvation, to be confessed unto a priest, and not unto any layman, be he ever so good and devout; and whether thou believest that a priest, in cases permitted to him, may absolve a sinner (being contrite and confessed) from his sins, and enjoin him wholesome penance?"
"XI. Item, Whether thou dost believe and hold, that the sacrament of confirmation and extreme unction be sacraments of the church, and whether that they do profit the souls of them that receive them? and whether thou believest the aforesaid seven sacraments to give grace unto them that do duly receive them?
"XII. Whether all things necessary unto salvation are put in Holy Scripture, and whether things only there put be sufficient? and whether some things upon necessity of salvation are to be believed and observed, which are not expressed in Scripture?
"XIII. Whether thou believest that purgatory is, and whether that souls departed be therein tormented and purged?
"XIV. Whether holy martyrs, apostles, and confessors departed from this world, ought to be honoured and called upon, and prayed unto?
"XV. Whether the saints in heaven, as mediators, pray for us?
"XVI. Whether thou believest that oblations and pilgrimages may be devoutly and meritoriously done to the sepulchres and relics of saints?
"XVII. Whether the fast in Lent, and others appointed by the canon law, and received in common usage of Christian people, (unless necessity otherwise requireth,) are to be observed?
"XVIII. Whether it be laudable and profitable, that worshipful images be set in churches for the remembrance of Christ and his saints?
"XIX. Whether thou believest that prayers of men living, do profit souls departed, and being in purgatory?
"XX. Whether men may merit and deserve, both by their fastings and also by their other deeds of devotion?
"XXI. Whether thou dost believe that men, prohibited of bishops to preach, as suspected of heresy, ought to cease from preaching and teaching, until they have purged themselves of suspicion before a higher judge?
"XXII. Whether thou believest that it is lawful for all priests freely to preach the word of God, or no?
"XXIII. Whether thou believest that it is lawful for laymen of both kinds, that is to wit, both men and women, to sacrifice and preach the word of God?
"XXIV. Whether excommunication, denounced by the pope against all heretics, doth oblige and bind them before God?
"XXV. Whether every priest is bound to say daily his matins and even-song, according as it is ordained by the church; or whether he may leave them unsaid without offence or deadly sin?
"XXVI. Whether thou believest that the heads or rulers, by necessity of salvation, are bound to give unto the people Holy Scripture in their mother-language?
"XXVII. Whether is it lawful for the rulers, for some cause, upon their reasonable advisement, to ordain that the Scripture should not be delivered unto the people in the vulgar language?
"XXVIII. Whether thou believest that consecrations, hallowings, and blessings used in the church, are to be praised?
"XXIX. Whether thou believest that the pope may make laws and statutes, to hind all Christian men to the observance of the same, under pain of deadly sin, so that such laws and statutes be not contrary to the law of God?
"XXX. Whether thou believest that the pope and other prelates, and their deputies in spiritual things, have power to excommunicate priests and lay-people, that are inobedient and sturdy, from entering into the church, and so suspend or let them from administration of the sacraments of the same?
"XXXI. Whether faith only, without good works, may suffice unto a man fallen into sin after his baptism, for his salvation and justifying?
"XXXII. Whether a priest, marrying a wife, and that without the dispensation of the pope, and begetting also children of her without slander-giving, do sin deadly?
"XXXIII. Item, Whether a Latin priest, after he hath taken the order of priesthood, being sore troubled and stirred with pricking of lust and lechery, and therefore marrying a wife for remedy of the same, do sin deadly?
"XXXIV. Item, Whether thou dost ever pray for John Wickliff, John Huss, or Jerome of Prague, condemned of heresy in the council of Constance, or for any of them, since they died? or whether thou hast done openly or secretly any deeds of charity for them, affirming them to be in bliss, and saved?
"XXXV. Item, Whether thou hast accounted them, or any of them, to be saints, and worshipped them as saints?
"XXXVI. Item, Whether thou dost believe, hold, and affirm, that every general council, and the council of Constance also, doth represent the universal congregation or church?
"XXXVII. Item, Whether thou dost believe the same things which the council of Constance, representing the universal church, hath approved and doth approve, for the maintenance of faith, and soul's health, and that the same is to be approved and holden of all Christians?
"XXXVIII. Whether the condemnations of John Wickliff, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, done upon their persons, books, and documents, by the whole general council of Constance, were duly and rightly done, and so, for such, by every catholic person they are to be holden?
"XXXIX. Whether thou believest that John Wickliff of England, John Huss of Bohemia, and Jerome of Prague, were heretics, and for heretics to be named, and their books and doctrines to have been, and now be, perverse; for the which books, and pertinacy of their persons, they are condemned by the holy council of Constance for heretics?
"XL. Item, Whether thou believest or affirmest, that it is not lawful in any case to swear?
"XLI. Whether thou believest that it is lawful, at the commandment of a judge, to make an oath to say the truth, or any other oath in case convenient, and that also for purgation of infamy?
"XLII. Item, Whether a Christian person, despising the receipt of the sacraments of confirmation, extreme unction, or solemnizing of matrimony, doth sin deadly?
"XLIII. Item, Whether thou believest that St. Peter, as Christ's vicar, hath power upon earth to bind and loose?
"XLIV. Item, Whether the pope, ordinarily chosen for a time, his proper name being expressed, be the successor of St. Peter?
"XLV. Item, Whether thou hast ever promised at any time, by an oath, or made any confederacy or league with any person or persons, that you would always hold and defend certain conclusions or articles, seeming to you and your accomplices right and consonant unto the faith; and that you certify us touching the order and tenor of the said opinions and conclusions, and of the names and surnames of them that were your adherents, and promised to be adherent unto you in this behalf?"
The answers of John Lambert to the forty-five articles.
"Unto your first demand, wherein you do ask whether I was suspected of or infamed of heresy, I answer, that I am not certain what all persons at all seasons have deemed or suspected of me; peradventure some better, some worse; like as the opinion of the people was never one, but thought diversely of all the famous prophets, and of the apostles, yea, and of Christ himself: as appeareth in St. John, how, when he came into Jerusalem in the feast called Scenopegia, anon there arose upon him a great noise, some saying that he was a very good man; others said nay, and called him a seducer, because he led the people from the right ways of Moses's law into error. Seeing therefore that all men could not say well by Christ, which is the author of verity and truth, yea, the very truth itself, and likewise of his best servants; what should I need to regard if at some time some person, for a like cause, should suspect of me amiss, and evil report of me? seeing moreover, it is said in the Gospel, Woe be to you, when all men speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the false prophets. If therefore at any season such infamy was put upon me, I am glad that I have so little regarded the same, that now I have forgotten it. And though I did remember any such, yet were I more than twice a fool to show you thereof; for it is written in your own law, No man is bound to bewray himself. But this I insure you: I was never so charged with suspicion or infamy of crime, that I was therefore at any time convented and reproved before any judge before that I was troubled for these causes, for which I was at the first put into your hands: and of them, seeing you could not prove me faulty, I wonder why you would never yet pronounce me quit and innocent, according as I have even lowly desired of you, and required full instantly the same. But letting those things pass, you have imagined new matters to charge me with, wherein I think certainly, that you could no more have proved me culpable, than you did in the first; that is to wit, no whit culpable in either, had it not been that by long imprisonment you forced me to tell what I thought in them, which I have and will freely do; and that, indifferently considered, I suppose shall not deserve any sore punishment, unless you will beard the truth, whereunto I hope it shall not disagree.
"To your second demand, where you do inquire whether I had ever any of Luther's books, and namely, since they were condemned, and how long I kept them, and whether ever I have spent any study in them; I say that indeed I have had of them, and that both before they were condemned and also since; but I neither will nor can tell you how long I kept them. But truth it is, that I have studied upon them, and I thank God that ever I so did; for by them hath God showed unto me, and also to a huge multitude of others, such light as the deceivable darkness of them (I beseech God to amend it) that name themselves, but amiss, to be the holy church, cannot abide. And that appeareth evidently, for they dare not stand to any trial. He coveteth above all things, as all his adversaries do well know, that all his writings, and the writings of all his adversaries, might be translated into all languages, to the intent that all people might see and know what is said of every part; whereby men should the better judge what the truth is. And in this methinketh he requireth nothing but equity; for the law would have no man condemned, nor justified, until his cause were beard and known.
"But the contrary part, I mean our over-rich prelacy, who are so drowned in voluptuous living that they cannot attend to study God's Scripture, nor preach the same, which should be the principal part of their office, abhor this fashion (albeit it is right indifferent and full of equity) no less than they do abhor death. And no marvel, for doubtless, if it so could be obtained that the writings of all parties might be openly seen and conferred, we should soon see their sleightly dealing, and facing doctrine, with all other cloaked abusion, lightly overthrown, as appeareth well in Almain: for there be the books of every party seen openly, and translated into the vulgar language, that all people may see and read upon them; and so, upon the sight of the books, they lightly follow the true light of God's.word, refusing the horror of darkness and false doctrine, whereby, before, they have been seduced from the right teaching and way showed in the Bible. And this is done, not by a hundred, nor by a thousand; but generally by whole cities and countries, both high and low; few or none excepted.
"But our prelates, seeing this, and that their dealing should, if this light were set up, soon be detected and discovered, have sent out commandments, that if any person should adventure to keep any such books, they shall, for so doing, be excommunicated from God, and all his saints, and cursed as black as pitch, whether the books be in Latin, English, French, Dutch, or any other tongue; as indeed men, seeing the fruit contained in them, have set them forth in all languages. But this ought not Christian men to think any novelty; for so did their forefathers, the prelates in Christ's time and afterwards, to the apostles; yea, and if it were well tried, I think it should soon be found out, that they have so dealt ever since unto this day. For when Christ went about preaching, the scribes and Pharisees, who were bishops then and prelates, gave a general commandment, that whosoever confessed him to be Christ should be accursed, and put out of the synagogue, that we call the church; and so they were.
"Look in the Acts of the Apostles, and you shall find how they were in like manner served; yea, look in the Old Testament, and you shall find (as I remember) how they procured of one that was a temporal ruler at that season, to have the prophecy of Jeremy (for he of all others is most vehement against the dissimulation of priests) to be burned. Why then should we eschew them, or their works, (unless we knew a better cause why,) whom our prelates reject and cast away, seeing they render no reasonable cause of their enterprise? but, presuming of their power, without any due authority, that I can find, granted unto them so to do, will, because they so command, so have all done? according to the tyrannical saying, as I trow, of Sardanapalus, Sic solo, sic jubeo; stat pro ratione voluntas; that is to say, So will I, so do I command; and let my will for reason stand.
But I would to God that such knew what spirit they have in them; for if they had indeed the spirit which they claim and pretend to have, I mean the Spirit of Christ, I dare say it should soon alter them from such haughty language and doting, and cause them to turn a new leaf; for that Spirit is full of softness and lenity, lowliness and humility, patience and temperancy; void of all wilfulness and tyranny: yea, it should cause them not to prevent, but easily to follow, the counsel and doctrine of Christ's apostles and holy saints, that be their interpreters. As St. Paul, which writing unto the Thessalonians, would have them all to prove all things, and to retain or bold that only which is good; refraining from all that hath semblance of evil. And St. John would have Christian people to try the spirit of them that should speak; whether they were of God or no. Also, writing in another Epistle unto a noble woman, and unto her children, he saith, If any person shall come unto you, bringing .with them the doctrine that is not of Christ, receive him not into your house, nor make him any cheer. So that in this he would have women to know the doctrine of Christ, and to love that, refusing to give credence unto foreign teaching; not favouring the same.
"In the First Epistle also to the Corinthians, St. Paul, writing in general to all the inhabitants of that city, saith, Brethren, be ye not children in wit and understanding; but as concerning maliciousness, be you children. In wit I would have you perfect. And why? Verily for no other cause, but that we should (as he writeth unto the Hebrews) have discretion to judge the good from ill, and the ill from the good, and so to be like men differing from beasts, according unto the saying of the prophet, See that ye be not like unto a horse or a mule, which lack understanding. And we should pray with him in another Psalm, O Lord! teach me the way that I should walk in, for I lift up my soul unto thee.
"St. Chrysostom, according unto this, in a certain book of his Commentaries upon Matthew, (the book is called, Opus Imperfectum,) writeth after this fashion, as near as my remembrance doth serve, and certain I am that I shall not misreport him, and in that I will be tried whensoever it shall please you to bring the book. 'The priests that were Pharisees in the time,' saith he, 'of Christ, made an ordinance, that whosoever should acknowledge Jesus to be Christ, should be accursed and excommunicated. If then the Pharisees or priests that now do occupy their rooms should make a like ordinance, because they would not have Christ's doctrine to be professed for hindering of their lucre, should we therefore give in all points credence unto them, and leave off to seek after the knowledge of Christ's doctrine? Nay truly. Why,' quoth he, 'shall we not be excused herein by ignorance, seeing we be forefended by the rulers to have knowledge?' He answereth, 'No verily; for if,' saith he, 'when thou desirest to buy cloth, thou wilt not be content to see one merchant's ware, but go from the first to the second, from the second to the third, and so further, to know where is the best cloth, and best cheap, thou, using such careful diligence for a temporal profit, art well worthy great reproach, that wilt be more remiss and negligent for thy soul's health. Seek therefore about from one doctor or teacher unto another, that thou mayst know who doth most duly and truly teach Christ, and him follow according to the saying of the apostle, Prove all, and hold the good; and as it is said in the Gospel, that thou mayst know who be true or lawful changers or coiners, and who be not.
"He also addeth another similitude or parable. 'When thou goest,' quoth he, 'a journey, not knowing perfectly the way, thou wilt, lest thou shouldst fail of the right way, inquire of one man, and after of another; and if thou shouldst chance to go somewhat wide, yet thou wilt not so leave off thy journey undone, but make inquisition again to come where thou wouldst rest. So likewise,' saith he, 'ought we to seek about intentively for the wealth of our soul, who are the right key-bearers, and who not;' meaning there by the key-bearers, Christ's apostles, and the bearers of his testimony or message. Which saving, although it were written of no authentical author, (howbeit it is written even of him whom I showed you in the said work,) but uttered of one that were in little estimation, every indifferent person having wit and reason would answer, I doubt not, that it is full true.
"The same author also, in an epistle which you shall find in a work called Psegmata Chrysostomi, showeth, as I remember, how certain men deemed ill of him, because he did study Origen's works, who before was condemned for a heretic: but he maketh an apology to the same, showing, that Christian men ought not to be reprehended for so doing; in which apology he bringeth for his defence the saying of Paul above rehearsed, Prove all things, &c. Likewise did St. Jerome, I wot not well in what place of his works, but you shall find it in a Treatise called Unio Dissidentium, where he treateth De mandatis Hominum. When it was objected against him that he retained by him the works of Eusebius and of Origen, studying upon them, he bringeth for him, that it was so lawful, the said place of the apostle,, making therewith an assent, worthy to be greatly noted.
"The same is also reported in the book called Ecclesiastica Historia, or else Historia Tripartita, I wot not now precisely whether. So that these and other authorities of the Scripture, and semblable ensamples of holy interpreters, shall prove, that I and other may safely (no good law inhibiting, unless constitutions pharisaical) read and search the works not only of Luther, but also of all others, be they ever so ill or good; namely, seeing I am a priest: whom the bishop of Norwich ought not to have admitted into orders, unless he had seen me to have had judgment to discern good from ill; neither ought any of you to give orders to any such, in whom ye do not find like ability to judge the light from darkness, and the truth from falsehood: and therefore, if for this you would punish me, I cannot see but you shall condemn yourselves, judging rather of sensual pleasure than of equity, which, in men of your order, were a great shame, and much uncomely.
"Unto your third demand, wherein you do ask whether I was constituted a priest, and in what diocese, and by what bishop; I say that I was made a priest in Norwich, and by the bishop's suffragan of the same diocese.
"Unto the fourth, wherein you do demand whether it be lawful for a priest to marry a wife, and whether a priest in some case be bound by the law of God to marry a wife I say that it is lawful, yea and necessary, for all men that have not given to them of God the gift of chastity, to marry a wife; and that show both Christ and St. Paul. In Matthew xix., Christ, speaking unto the Pharisees that came to tempt him, in the conclusion, saith in this wise, 'Whosoever shall forsake his wife, except it be for fornication, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and whosoever marrieth her so forsaken, committeth adultery.'
"With that say his disciples, 'If thus the case stand betwixt a man and his wife, it shall be hurtful, and not expedient to contract matrimony.' He made answer, 'Every man cannot away with that saying, but they unto whom it is given of God;' meaning, that every man could not abide single or unmarried, but such unto whom was given of God a special grace so to continue. And if, with your better advice, I might herein be somewhat bold, I would suppose that whereas he doth say, Non omnes sunt capaces hujus dicti, (Every man cannot away with that saying,) this word non omnes ought to be here taken as it is in many other places of Scripture; as where, in the Psalm, it is said, Non justificabitur in conspectu tuo omnis vivens, it is meant that no person living shall be justified before God. And in the Epistle to the Galatians, and to the Romans, where it is said, By the works of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight, it is meant thereby nulla caro: so that, non omnis, after the rule of equipollence, should be taken for as much as nullus, and then the sense should be thus, Nulli sunt capaces hujus dicti nisi hi quibus datum sit. No man can be capax of this saying, or can so pass his life without marriage, except those who have it given them, by a singular grace of God, to live chaste.
Then he proceeded further, saying, There be eunuchs that so were born from the mother's womb; and there be some eunuchs that have been so made by men; and there be eunuchs that have so made themselves, for love of the kingdom of heaven. In conclusion he saith, Who, that receiveth this saying, (thinking that it should be inexpedient for him to marry, and that he may live chaste through the gift given him of God,) let him take it and so live. So he leaveth singleness of life to all men's election, without any compelling them thereto.
"Hereunto assenteth St. Paul: when that by many reasons he had persuaded the Corinthians to single life, finally he concludeth thus, This, quoth he, say I unto you, willing that which should be for your profit, but not to bring you in bondage. And a little before, I would, quoth he, that all men were even as myself am. But every one hath a several gift of God, one one wise, another otherwise: showing thereby, that unto some it is given of God to live continently, and to others to engender and procreate children, and therefore his will cannot come to effect. Which thing you may easily perceive in this, that after he had showed forth his good wish and desire, saying, I would that all men were even as I am, he putteth a conjunction adversative, that declareth an obstacle or stop, saying, But every man hath his proper gift of God. Upon this he proceedeth further, whereby you may apertly see, that he would have all men, none except, to marry, wanting the gift of continency. This, quoth he, I say to the unmarried and widows; expedient it were for them to remain as I do: but if they cannot live continent, let them contract marriage; for better is it to marry than to burn. This proveth well, that all priests, wanting continency of heart, had need to marry for to avoid burning lust, unless they be inobedient to the mind of Christ that spake in Paul, in observing the traditions of men. In the beginning of the same chapter also he saith, It is good that a man should not deal with a woman: notwithstanding, for avoiding fornication, quoth he, let every man have his wife, and every woman have her husband. He saith here, every man and every woman; and not some man or some woman. He excepteth neither priest nor nun, but every one, both man and woman, is bound, for avoiding of burning and fornication, to marry, not having the gift given of chastity.
"The same also confirmeth your own law, where it is written thus, 'If any man do hold that a priest, being married, in that respect that he is married, ought not to minister in his function, be he accursed.' And, 'If any man shall find fault with matrimony, and detest a faithful and devout woman lying with her husband, and think her culpable, as one that could not therefore enter into the kingdom of God, be he accursed.' And every where else such-like are to be seen.
"Moreover, in Historia Tripartita it is written, that a noble martyr of Christ called Paphnutius, in the Nicene council, when all other bishops were purposed to have enacted there, that priests should live unmarried, this holy man resisted them so mightily both with reasons, and also with authority of Scripture, that then their purpose altered, and their first device could not pass. And one authority I remember was this, which he borrowed of Paul in the Second Epistle to Timothy: Your device, quoth he, may have a semblance of holiness, but indeed, it shall be the destruction and undoing of the same.
"Moreover, in one of the principal histories of France, called Les Illustrations de Galles, whosoever please may there read it as it standeth, within six leaves afore the end of the same; how the author with deep sorrow lamenteth the ordinance that first decreed priests to live unmarried, showing, and that amply, the miseries that have ensued in France thereby, imputing it unto Calixtus the pope, of whom he maketh a doleful mention in metre, whereof the first I yet remember, and it is thus: 'O holy Calixtus! all the world hateth thee;' which followeth in writing, to all that lust to behold therein. But what need I to make longer treatise hereof, forasmuch as you do daily both hear and see, what foul abomination ariseth in every corner, of this piteous law, made of men that would presume to be wiser than God; thinking (as we ever do) that either he would not, or else for lack of wisdom he could not, show us a sufficient law or way, to direct our life and conversation to come to the joy and resting-place by him promised, and so by us longed and looked for; whereby both we be far unreasonable in so deeming of him after our unwise wit, and he much dishonoured. The which I beseech him to help. Amen.
"Unto the fifth, where ye do ask, whether I believe that whatsoever is done of man, whether it be good or ill, cometh of necessity; that is (as you construe) to wit, whether man hath free-will, so that he may deserve joy or pain I say (as I said at the beginning) that unto the first part of your riddle, I neither can nor will give any definitive answer, forasmuch as it surmounteth my capacity; trusting that God shall send hereafter others that shall be of better learning and wit than I, for to indite it. As concerning the second part, where you do interpret; that is to say, whether man hath free-will or no, so that he may deserve joy or pain: as for our deserving specially of joy, I think it very slender or none, even when we do the very commandments and law of God. And that I am taught by our Saviour in St. Luke, where he saith thus, Which of you, quoth he, having a servant that hath eared your land, or fed your beasts, will say unto him, when he cometh home out of the field, Go thy way quickly, and sit down to thy meat; and rather will not say unto him, Make ready my supper; serving me thereat till I have made an end thereof, and afterwards take thyself meat and drink? Think you that he is bound to thank his servant which thus shall do his commandment? I trow, saith he, nay. Even so you, saith he, when you have done all things to you commanded, say yet you be unprofitable servants, and have done that which you were bound to do.
"In which words you may clearly see, that he would not have us greatly esteem our merits, when we have done that is commanded by God, but rather, reckon ourselves to be but servants unprofitable to God, forasmuch as he hath no need of our well-doing for his own advancement, but only that he loveth to see us do well for our own behoof; and moreover, that when we have done his bidding, we ought not so to magnify, either ourself, or our own free will, but laud him with a meek heart, through whose benefit we have done, (if at any time we do it) his liking and pleasure; not regarding our merit, but his grace and benefit, whereby only is done all that in any wise is to him acceptable. And thus, if we ought not to attend our merits in doing the commandment of God, much less should we look for merit for observing of our own inventions or traditions of men, unto which there is no benefit in all Scripture (which Paul calleth the word of truth and of faith) promised.
"But here may be objected against me, that the reward is promised in many places to them that do observe the precepts of God. That I affirm to be very sooth. Notwithstanding such reward shall never be attained of us, except by the grace and benefit of Him who worketh all things in all creatures. And this affirmeth well St. Augustine, with St. Ambrose, Fulgentius, and others, as you may see everywhere in their works, and especially in the treatise called 'Unio Dissidentium,' wherein Jerome treateth 'De Gratia et Meritis.' And of St. Augustine I remember two or three right notable sentences, concerning the same. One is in the ninth book of his Confessions, in this form; 'Woe be to the life of men, be they ever so holy, if Thou shalt examine them, setting thy mercy aside. Because thou dost not exactly examine the faults of men, therefore we have a vehement hope and trust to find some place of mercy with thee. And whosoever recounteth unto thee his merits, what other thing doth he recount but thy benefits? O would to God all men would see and know themselves, and that he who glorieth, would glory in the Lord.' Again, in the first book, he saith thus unto God: 'Doth any man give what he oweth not unto thee, that thou shouldest be in his debt? and hath any man aught that is not thine? Thou renderest debt, and yet owest to no man. Thou forgivest debts, and yet losest nothing.' And therefore his usual prayer was this: 'Lord give that thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.'
"Also in the book called Manuale Augustini, or De Contemplatione Christi, he saith in this wise, 'All my hope is in the Lord's death. His death is my merit, my refuge, my health, and my resurrection. My merit is the mercy of the Lord. I am not without merit, so long as the Lord of mercy shall continue; and if the mercies of the Lord be great and rich, then am I also great and rich in merits.'
"And to conclude, they be Christ's own merits and good works, (as saith St. Ambrose well-nigh every where,) that he worketh in us, which he doth reward and crown; and not ours, if one should look narrowly upon the thing, and speak properly. Howbeit, they yet nevertheless are ours by him, forasmuch as his merciful bounty imputeth his goods to be ours; so that in this, I wot not how others do mean, which lust to sell their merits unto their neighbours, who haply have scarcely enough for themselves: but I do wholly deem and believe, according as the Scriptures, with these holy doctors and such other, do teach, wishing that men ever, for good doing, should not so much (as the common people do) regard their merit Or reward, for that is not the thing that engendereth the love of God in us, but rather maketh men to honour God in a servile fashion, and for the love of themselves, in doing works for love of reward, or for dread of pain, more than because it so pleaseth God, and liketh him: whereas, if we regarded first, yea and altogether, that it is our duty to do well, (which is the keeping of his commandments,) and that so we should content his pleasure, reward should undoubtedly ensue good deeds, although we minded no whit the same, as heat followeth evermore the fire unseparate therefrom. And thus, we should serve God with hearty love as children, and not for meed or dread, as unloving thralls and servants.
"Concerning free-will, I mean altogether as doth St. Augustine, that of ourselves we have no liberty nor ability to do the will of God, but are subject unto sin and thralls of the same, 'shut up and sold under sin,' as witness both Isaiah and also Paul but, by the grace of God, we are rid and set at liberty, according to the portion that every man hath taken of the same, some more, some less.
"Whereas, in your sixth demand, you do inquire whether the sacrament of the altar be a sacrament necessary unto salvation, and whether after the consecration of the bread and wine done by the priest, as by the minister of God, there is the very body and blood of Christ in likeness of bread and wine, I neither can nor will answer one word otherwise than I have told since I was delivered into your hands. Neither would I have answered one whit thereunto, knowing so much at the first as now I do, till you had brought forth some that would have accused me to have trespassed in the same; which I am certain you cannot do, bringing any that is honest and credible.
"As concerning the other six sacraments, I make you that same answer that I have done to the sacrament of the altar, and no other; that is, I will say nothing until some men appear to accuse me in the same, unless I know a more reasonable cause than I have yet heard, why I so ought to do. But as touching the form and fashion, I shall answer willingly so far forth as my rudeness will serve. I hold well that such as be duly elected ministers in the church, ought to baptize, except necessity require otherwise; and that the form used in the church is, in mine opinion, not uncommendable. Nevertheless it should edify much more, if it were uttered in the vulgar language, and cause people, in the baptism of children, more effectuously to thank God for his institution, and the high benefit thereby represented.
"In like condition do I also deem of ministration in all the others, that it should be expedient to have them ministered openly in the vulgar language, for the edifying of the people. As concerning the form used in matrimony, I like it right well, and think it commendable, saving in all countries lightly Judas hath set in his foot over far, and taketh in hand to sell his Master, accompanied with Simon Magus, saying, 'What will you give me, if I deliver unto you Christ?' This is the saying of all them that require, without any lawful authority, in some places twelvepence, in some sixpence, in some more, in some less, but in every place lightly some money, when a couple should he married: and this they call 'the church's right.' Moreover, that they will not suffer marriage to be solemnized at all times of the year, I think it standeth not with Christ's rule, but rather is against the same; and that they will not suffer the bans upon all holy-days to be proclaimed, unless a dispensation for money be purchased there-for. All this God forbiddeth. Finally, like as no money ought to be given for this, no more should any be taken for any other. But the contrary is seen, which is great pity; yea, even at the receiving of the sacrament of the altar, priests every where use to claim somewhat, and in some parts of the west country, no less than twopence, of every poll.
"As touching priesthood in the primitive church, when virtue bare (as ancient doctors do deem, and Scripture, in mine opinion, recordeth the same) most room, there were no more officers in the church of God, than bishops and deacons; that is to say; ministers: as witnesseth, besides Scripture fully apertly, Jerome, in his Commentaries upon the Epistles of Paul, where he saith, that those whom we call priests, were all one and none other but bishops; and the bishops none other but priests; men ancient both in age and learning, so near as they could be chosen. Neither were they instituted and chosen, as they be now-a-days, with small regard by a bishop or his officer, only opposing them if they can construe a collect; but they were chosen not only by the bishop, but also with the consent of the people among whom they should have their living, as showeth St. Cyprian; and the people (as he saith) ought to have power to choose priests that be men of good learning, of good and honest report. But, alack for pity! such elections are now banished, and new fashions brought in; which if we should confer with the form of the election showed of Christ by his apostle Paul, we should find no small diversity, but all turned upside down. To conclude, I say, the order or state of priests and deacons was ordained by God; but subdeacons and conjurers, otherwise called Exorcistæ and Accolitæ, which we call Benet and Collet, were instituted by the invention of men. And this you may find in the law, Dist. 21, and in other places where it is written, 'Subdeaconship, in the time of the apostles, was no holy order.'
"As touching ear-confession, I say that the common fashion now used, was never ordained by Christ's law, that is, written in the Bible; neither can you prove by any authority of the same, that we ought to confess all our offences particularly, with the circumstances of all and of every such, to any man. Again, for the maintenance of this which I have said, you shall know that Chrysostom standeth stiffly with me, in his Commentaries upon the Epistle to the Hebrews; in a homily also that he maketh upon the Psalm Miserere; and moreover in a sermon that he maketh, De pœnitentia, besides many other treatises, wherein he continueth ever one, testifying in semblable wise.
"In like manner doth one of your principal doctors, writing upon your canon law, named Panormitane, testify that it is made by the law of man, and not of God, in cap. Omnis utriusque sexus. In the book also called Historia Tripartita, you shall find how it was first instituted, (as I remember,) and afterwards undone again, because of a huge villany committed with a woman by a minister of the church, through confession.
"Also it is mentioned in the end of the first Distinction De pœnitenti, how the Greek church, whom I think you do not note to be heretics, will not yet hitherto allow it. There are also many reasons brought forth, both to prove that confession made to a priest should not be necessary, and also that confession made unto God should suffice, concluding in this wise, Quibus authoritatibus, &c. I could bring forth others that be yet living, men of surmounting and excellent literature, who exactly, by many and mighty both authorities and reasons, do show and confirm this my saying to be just: but I keep silence, and will not name them, lest I should bring them into hatred. Notwithstanding, I never said, nor will say, but that men feeling themselves aggrieved in conscience with some great temptation, had need to go unto such whom they know and trust to he of stedfast credence, and to have good skill in the law of God, opening their grief unto them, to the intent they may know, through counsel, some ease and remedy thereof.
"But in this I mean not that they ought to go unto their curate, or to any other priest, whose credence they deem not at all trusty, or their counsel not sage, but to any other, whatsoever he be, whom they know most sufficient in properties above-showed, when their curate doth lack them. And this thing is most behoveable, when men, needing counsel, be so void of knowledge in Christ's law, that they cannot find therein remedy themselves. For the doctrine of Christ, if it were well known, containeth remedies for all infirmities and maladies of the mind, so that men, by spiritual knowledge, might ease themselves.
"To the other part of your question, where you do ask whether a priest, in cases unto him limited, may loose a sinner confessed and contrite for his sin, enjoining him wholesome penance; I say that only Christ looseth a sinner who is contrite, by his word and promise,, and the priest doth nothing but show and declare the word: neither doth declaration or ministry of the priest any whit avail for to loose any person, unless he that should be loosed give credence unto the word ministered and showed by the priest, which word or promise of Christ is called the word of reconciliation or atonement making betwixt God and man. And this testified St. Paul, in the Corinthians, where he saith in this wise, God hath reconciled us unto him through Jesus Christ.
See how it is God that looseth us from sin, who is to make reconciliation or atonement betwixt us and him, and that through Christ, whom he caused to die for the same purpose. And he, quoth St. Paul, hath ordained us ministers of the said atonement. See how Christ's apostles called not themselves the authors of binding and loosing, but ministers; For he, that is to wit, God, reconciled the world unto him, forgiving their sins (where you may know what reconciling is); and hath committed, saith Paul, unto us, to be messengers of the same word, or tidings of atonement or reconciling.
"Also, that the power whereby men are loosed from sin is not the priest's power, you may know by the vulgar saying, which is right true; yea, and with leisure, I doubt not but that I can show the same in the Decrees, which is thus, 'Only God forgiveth and pardoneth us of our sins.' And this was preached at Paul's Cross the Sunday next after the Epiphany last, the bishop of London sitting by; the preacher speaking after this form, treating of this text, 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.' In that, 'said the preacher, 'testimony is given of Christ to be a lamb, it is showed that he was an innocent man. But in that it is said, that he taketh away the sins of the world, is showed that he was God;' alleging there, for the confirmation of this part of his purpose, the vulgar saying above said by me, Solus Deus remittit peccata. And the same proposition, or another equal with the same, useth St. Chrysostom, in a homily that is made upon this text of St. Matthew, His name shall be called Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Also St. Chrysostom, in Opus lmperfectum, upon this text, Woe be unto you, scribes and Pharisees! because ye shut up the kingdom of heaven before men, &c. As near as my remembrance doth serve me, or else in some other place, but in the book, (as I suppose,) he affirmeth that the keys of heaven are the word and doctrine of God. This witnesseth moreover St. Gregory, I trow, in his book called Pastoralia, or else it is an epistle that he writeth to the bishop of Constantinople, in these words: 'The key of loosing is the word of the corrector, who, rebuking, doth disclose the fault, which many times he knoweth not, that committeth the same.'
"St. Ambrose, agreeing to the same, saith, 'The word of God forgiveth sin.' But shall we then say that God's ministers do not bind and loose? I say, No, not as the authors of so doing; but they do loose and bind in like manner as it is said of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, where our Saviour spake unto him in this manner,: I shall, said our Saviour, deliver thee from the people and nations unto whom I send thee, that thou shouldest open their eyes, that they may be converted from darkness to light. Here Paul is said to open the eyes of men's hearts, albeit to speak properly, it is God that so doth; and therefore David prayeth unto him, Open mine eyes, O Lord. And in like manner it is spoken of John Baptist, that he should go before Christ in the spirit and power of Elias, and turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the unbelievers to the wisdom of the righteous: albeit to turn men's hearts, and to work in them, belongeth to God; but so use we to speak metonymice. As, if your Lordship had defined to me to be excommunicated, and thereupon should send a commandment to the parson of Knoll, to declare the same, the people would say, that the parson of Knoll, proclaiming your commandment, had accursed me; but yet doth he not properly curse me, but you rather, when he, in pronouncing the same, doth your act and commandment, rather than his own.
"Touching cases limited to priests and ministers, for loosing from sin, or binding in the same, I do know no such things showed in Scripture, which is the perfect way of our life: neither can any man, I suppose, show by authority thereof, that one should have more or less limited him than another. And if you can or will thereby teach it me, I shall thank you for your doing, and pray God to requite you.
"Concerning enjoining of penance, I know of none that men need to admit, nor you to put or enjoin the same, except it be renovation of living in casting apart old vice, and taking them unto new virtue, which every true penitent intendeth, or ought to intend, verily by the grace and assistance of our Saviour Christ, to show and perform.
"Unto the eleventh article I say, that grace is given unto them that duly receive the sacraments of Christ and his church; but whether by them or no, that I cannot define; for God sendeth his grace where he pleaseth, either with them, or without them, and when he pleaseth: so that it is at his arbitrement, how and when. Moreover, many a lewd person receiveth the sacraments, who is destitute of grace, to his confusion. So that I cannot affirm that the sacraments give grace; yet, in due receipt of the sacraments, I suppose and think, that God giveth unto them grace that so take them, as he doth unto all good, even without them also.
"Whereas in your twelfth article you do ask, whether all things necessary unto salvation are put in Holy Scripture, and whether things only there put be sufficient, and whether some things, upon necessity of salvation, are to be believed and observed, which are not expressed in Scripture: this is the question, as great learned men have showed me, whom I do count my friends, since the time I appeared at your Lordship's assignment before Master doctor Lesse, and Master Melling, with other, in your chapel of Lambeth, when these questions were first propounded: this, I say, is the question, which, as they told me, is the head and whole content of all others objected against me. Yea, this is both the helm and stern of all together, and that which they contended right sorely to impugn: but love of the truth (wherewith in this point I reckoned me well fenced) would not suffer me to apply and yield to their will, thinking 'that the truth ought to be preferred before all friendship and amity; 'and also, If thy right hand offend, it ought to be cut off, and cast away.
"But touching an answer unto this question, I suppose verily, that if I had St. Cyril's works by me, I should not need to show any other answer in this, than he hath showed beforetime, writing upon this saying of St. John, There are many things more which Jesus did. Notwithstanding, forasmuch as every man at all seasons cannot have what he would, and therefore must make other shift, such as he may, I say, that I suppose the first part of your question to be very true, and therefore to be affirmed, that is to wit, that all things needful for man's salvation be mentioned and showed in Holy Scripture, and that the things only there put be sufficient for the regiment of spiritual living, and man's soul's health. And in this shall you find both the ancient doctors standing with me; and moreover, the suffrage of holy writ, whose authority is of most sovereign and infallible stedfastness.
"Look what St. Jerome saith upon this verse, The Lord shall rehearse it, when he writeth up the people. St. Ambrose also, in a treatise, De Paradiso, doth show likewise, where he bringeth this text of Paul, written in 2 Cor. xi., I am afraid lest it may, by some means, be brought to pass, that as the serpent deceived Eve through wiliness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simple verity that is in Christ. And also in his Commentaries upon the Epistle to the Colossians, upon this text, In Christ Jesus is all treasure of wisdom; and in divers other places of the same work.
St. Chrysostom also, in his Commentaries upon Paul, declaring this saying, 'The whole Scripture given by inspiration of God,' &c. And in his book called Opus Imperfectum, I wot not precisely upon what text, but there you shall find, that he would have a true preacher of God's law not swerving therefrom, neither on the right hand, neither on the left, but keeping thereafter, according to the teaching of Solomon: for he that should thereunto add or withdraw, should enterprise, as saith St. Chrysostom, to be wiser than God. These, or else such like words, doth he say. I will be deemed by the book brought forth, because my remembrance cannot retain perfectly all such things.
"St. Cyprian maintaineth well the same in an epistle that he writeth, Ad Cecilium Fratrem, which I would to God were in English, that all men might learn the devout goodness in it contained. In the same he teacheth clearly, how we ought to hear Christ only, and his learning, not regarding or attending to the traditions of men; like as he doth also in many other places. And this agreeth well with Scripture, which is called the word of salvation; the administration of righteousness; the word of truth, yea, and the truth itself; the rod of direction; our spiritual food; the spiritual sword that we ought to fight with against all temptations and assaults of our ghostly enemies; the seed of God; the kingdom of heaven, and the keys of the same; the power of God; the light of the world, which whoso followeth shall not be overcome with darkness; the law of God; his wisdom and testament. Of which words, and such like, every one will give matter of substantial argument, that we, following the same doctrine only, shall have sufficient safe-conduct to come unto the inheritance promised, albeit none other ways or means were annexed with the same. And certain I am, that in this blessed doctrine of Christ is taught how we ought to do truth and mercy, which is all that we need to do, as testifieth the Psalm, in these words, All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth. And again, the prophet, willing us to do as he did, saith in this manner, I have cleaved to thy testimonies, O Lord; confound me not. In like manner the said whole Psalm warneth us; yea, all the Scripture biddeth us stick fast, to the steady and true word of God, saying, that he is true, and all his ways are truth; but all men are vain and liars. For that is the sure foundation which cannot fail them that ground thereupon, as reporteth Christ: Every one, saith he, that heareth my words, and doth them, is like to a wise man that buildeth upon a sure foundation. And there ought to be none other foundation to Christian men, but only the undoubted truth of Jesus to build our faith upon, and direct our living thereafter, as showeth St. Paul, saying, Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. And likewise in, the Epistle unto the Ephesians, where he saith, Now ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but citizens with the, saints, and of the household of God. And in the same Epistle, St. Paul, dilating of Christ's beneficence, showeth how that he ordained in the church divers officers, to the edifying of Christian people, that hecalleth Christ's body, until all we may come unto the unity of faith; which cometh by following of one doctrine, which is Christ's, whereby we may grow to be perfect men; and that we should not be here like to children, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by deceit and wiliness of men that study to deceive us.
"In like form doth he warn us, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that we should not be carried about as the wind, with divers and strange doctrines, but continue in that which ever continueth like and all one, agreeable for all men in all parts, and that at all times; not being changeable, as men's constitutions be, whereof look what one doth counsel or ordain to be of effect, another annuls the same, according as men's minds do always alter, and are full unsteady. Neither do such pertain unto all men; for the Greeks, with others, (whom neither the pope, nor any of his people, will yet deny to be of Christ's church,) will in no condition admit such, neither for men to live after them, nor to believe them as pertaining to their faith. But they allow well the doctrine that persevereth every one, and is immutable, as showeth St. Paul, saying, Jesus Christ yesterday and to-day is all one, and so ever shall be. He is white bread, without any sour leaven of Pharisaical traditions; verity without guile; light without any darkness; the very straight way that hath neither hook nor crook. From this ought we not to turn, neither upon one hand nor the other, unless we will go from him that is our felicity and anchor of safety.
"But should I more treat of this, except I would recite all Scripture, which in every part is full of admonitions, exhorting and warning us to cleave fast unto this way, which is the doctrine of the gospel, which God, I beseech him, grant us all both to know and love, taking heed that in no wise we be seduced therefrom by laws and doctrines of men. Look also into Colossians ii., and into the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. So that I conclude that in Holy Scripture is contained sufficiently enough of doctrine for the regiment and salvation of our souls; and because learned men do call this the head article laid against me, I would that all men should well note it, and record my saying therein hereafter, whatsoever shall betide of me; for the truth is so indeed, that hereupon hangeth the sum of all. Therefore I shall recite it once again. I say, that in Holy Scripture the doctrine there only contained, is sufficient for the salvation of Christian men's souls: God give us grace that we may know it, to build our faith stedfastly upon the same, in working thereafter
"As touching the latter part of your question, I say that there are many things both to be observed, and to be believed, that are not expressed in Scripture; as the civil laws of princes and commonalties, ordained for civil regiment of the body, and all other, so that they be not hurtful to faith or charity, but helpful to the same: I reckon that we ought to keep them, not only for fear of punishment, but also for conscience' sake, although such ordinances be not expressly and particularly in Scripture expressed; for they are generally therein contained and spoken of.
"Moreover, if you mean by this word 'expressed,' that which in Scripture is clearly showed out, and appeareth evidently to every reader or hearer that hath but a mean understanding, so do I affirm that there are some things which a man ought to believe, although they be not by him expressly understood: as I have ever believed that the Virgin Mary was, and is, a perpetual virgin, and that the same might be gathered by the Scripture. But if, by this word 'expressed,' you mean comprehended or contained, (as methinks the mind of him that wrote the demand should he,) so that he meaneth by this question thus: whether any thing ought to be observed and believed, which is not contained in Scripture, and that, upon necessity of salvation; then I say, that there is nothing either to be observed, or to be believed upon necessity of salvation, which is not contained in Scripture and mentioned in the same either generally or specially. Yet do I not deny but other things are to be believed, as I believed that Dr. Warham was archbishop of Canterbury, ere ever I saw your Lordship; and I believe that I knew verily who was my father and mother, albeit I had no intelligence when they begot me; and such like: and yet in such points, although a man have not a steady belief, he may be saved.
"To the thirteenth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that purgatory is, and whether that souls departed be therein tormented and purged? I say that there is a purgatory in this world, and that doth the Scripture, and also do the holy doctors, call the fire of tribulation, through which all Christians shall pass, as testifieth St. Paul to Timothy, whose testimony is full notable and true, albeit that few do know it, and fewer, peradventure, will believe it. Mark you the words, good people! and know, that they be his, and not mine. They be thus, All that will live godly in Jesus Christ, shall suffer persecution. In this purgatory do I now reckon myself to stand; God send me well to persevere unto his honour! Of this speaketh also St. Peter in these words, which pertain to the instruction of all Christian people: Ye, quoth he, are preserved through the power of God, by faith, unto salvation, which is, prepared to be revealed in the last time; wherein ye now rejoice, though for a season (if need require) ye are sundry ways afflicted and tormented; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto laud, glory, and honour, at the appearing of Jesu Christ, &c. Other purgatory know I none, that you can prove by Scripture, unless it be by one place of the same, which, well examined, I trow, shall make but little against me, for the maintenance of any other than I have showed.
"But whatsoever be brought against me, I trust that holy doctors shall, by their interpretation, sustain the part which I do take upon me, making answer for me sufficient; so that you shall say, it is no new thing which I have or shall speak. Yet, that you should see even now somewhat written of ancient doctors concerning the same, I shall show you what I have read in St. Augustine; first, in a sermon that he maketh De Ebrietate, in this wise, saying, 'Brethren! let no man deceive himself, for there be two places, and the third is not known. He that with Christ hath not deserved to reign, shall without doubt perish with the devil.' In another also that he maketh, it is said thus: 'Know you, that when the soul is departed from the body, it is incontinent, for its good deeds, put in paradise, or else thrown headlong into the dungeon of hell for its sins. Choose ye now which ye list, and purpose, while ye be here in this life, either to joy perpetually with the saints, or else to be tormented without end among wicked sinners.' Thus saith holy Augustine.
"To make an end, I hope surely, that by the aid of our Saviour, I shall come to heaven, and reign with Christ, ere that I shall feel any purgatory beside that I have and shall sustain in this life. And he that believeth not stedfastly any other to be, shall yet be saved as well (and God wotteth whether better or no, but I think no whit less) as such as teach the people, or suffer them to be taught, that in going from this station to that, from one altar to another, they shall cause souls to be delivered: yea, and as well as such as say, that a man, being buried in a Grey Friar's frock, shall so have remission of the third part of his sins, (as is granted in a bull unto the said religion,) and such like. For St. Augustine shall make with me in his book called Enchiridion, after he hath confuted the opinion of some that in the church of Christ, living in mischief, ungraciously, taking thereof no repentance, did yet falsely deem that they should be saved through the cleansing of purgatory, where he concludeth thus: 'Such a thing after this life to be,' saith he, 'is not incredible; but whether it be so or no, a doubt may be thereof moved, or a question demanded.' The same words doth he again recite in a book called Quæstiones ad Dulcium, or Dulcitium, I wot not 'whether it is called, and there he treateth of the same more copiously; and would I might see the place once again.
"To this agreeth St. Paul, writing thus to the Corinthians, For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every man may receive the things which are done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or evil. And again, where he writeth unto the Hebrews, I trow it be said in this wise: Remember them that are in bonds, even as though you were bound with them; be mindful of them which are in affliction, as if ye were also afflicted in the body.
"To the fourteenth article, where you ask whether holy martyrs, apostles, and confessors, departed from this world, ought to be honoured, called upon, and prayed unto? I answer, as touching the honouring of them, with the very words of St. Augustine, in his book De Vera Religione, in his last leaf, where he saith thus 'Non sit nobis religio cultus hominum mortuorum: quia si pie vixerunt, non sic habentur, ut tales quærant honores, sed ilium a nobis coli volunt, quo illuminante lætantur meriti sui nos esse consortes; honorandi stint ergo propter imitationem non adorandi propter religionem. Si autem male vixerunt, ubicunque sunt, non sunt colendi.' Again, a little after the same, he saith, 'Nam id ipsum actum est temporali dispensatione ad salutem nostram, ut naturam humanam ipsa Dei virtus, et Dei sapientia incommutabilis, et consubstantialis Patri et coæternus suscipere dignaretur, per quam nos doceret, id esse homini colendum, quod ab omni creatura intellectuali et rationali colendum est: hoc est, ipsos optimos angelos, et excellentissima Dei ministeria velle credamus, ut unum cum ipsis colamus Deum, cujus contemplatione beati sunt; neque enim et nos videndo angelum beati sumus, sed videndo veritatem, qua ipsos etiam diligimus angelos et his congratulamur.
"Nec invidemus quod ea paratiores, vel nullis molestiis interpedientibus perfruuntur, sed magis eos diligimus, quoniam et nos tale aliquid operate a communi Domino jussi sumus. Quare honoramus eos charitate, non servitute; nec eis templa construimus. Nolunt enim se sic honorari a nobis, quia nos ipsi cum boni sumus, templa summi Dei esse noverunt. Recte itaque scribitur, hominem ab angelo prohibitum ne se adoraret, sed unum Deum, sub quo ille esset et conservus.'
"Thus saith St. Augustine, handling the same matter a little after more at large.
"The contents of this unto you I expound, that know no Latin; for I covet that all persons should know both my thought in this and all manner of doing, to the intent that of all persons I would have true report and testimony, whatsoever shall betide me. St. Augustine, in these words, would have that we should worship no men departed, be they ever so good and holy, (for they seek no such honour,) but would have us to worship God alone; no, nor yet any angel, nor honour the same, but only in imitation of them, following their good acts in our living, as they followed our most merciful God while they were alive; not building churches in the name or honour of them, for they would have no such honour done unto them: it is to them no pleasure, but contrariwise. No, the angels will not that we should build any churches in reverence of them; but would that with them we should honour the original Maker and Performer of all. They refuse all honour, saving that which is called honor charitatis, which is nothing else but to be loved. Thus saith St. Augustine, Which love we shall testify in following their good acts, by helping the poor or helpless with alms and mercy, and dealing truly in word and deed, according to our state and calling, both towards God and man; which is no light matter to them that do consider the thing well. But whosoever shall truly and duly follow that trade, shall feel it, I dare say, as the burden of Christ's cross was unto him, right weighty and grievous when he bare it to Calvary; saving that we need not fear, for he hath promised to be with us in tribulation, to rid us from the same. For the prophet David saith, When a just person beginneth to fall, he shall not be borne flat down to be broken, for the Lord shall put his hand under him to rear him up again. And in the Gospel he biddeth, Come you unto me, all that do travail and are sore charged, and I shall comfort or refresh you. Take my yoke upon you, learning of me that am soft and meek-minded, and you shall find ease thereby in your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burthen light. See you here how he is ever ready to support them that for truth shall sustain the chargeable and sore vexations put upon them by the world, which cannot endure the truth to prevail, and the untruth to be disclosed.
"As touching invocation, that is, to wit, calling upon them, we have in Scripture, how we should call upon Almighty God in all necessities or tribulations. As in the Psalms every where; as in this, Call upon me in time of your tribulation, and I shall deliver you. Mark how he saith here, Call upon me, appointing neither St. Thomas, nor Master John Shorn. Also in another place, The Lord is nigh unto them that call upon him, that call upon him truly; and with that he showeth who calleth truly upon him, saying thus: He shall do the will or desire of them that reverence him, and shall hear graciously their prayer, and make them safe; for the Lord loveth all that love him, and all sinners shall be destroyed. And thus used the holy prophets, patriarchs, apostles, and other good faithful people in old time, in all tribulation and anguish, to resort unto the head fountain, which is of grace infinite, as is showed in other places in this wise: In my trouble I called upon the Lord, saith David, and he heard me graciously. When I was troubled, I cried unto the Lord, and he mercifully heard me. Also, I lift mine eyes unto the mountains. But from whence shall help come unto me? Mine help, quoth he, shall come from the Lord, that made both heaven and earth. I read the first of these verses in form of interrogation, following St. Augustine, who, as I remember, interpreteth it in this wise. If I recite not authorities in all places in the most perfect form, I would pray you somewhat to pardon me, for you know that I lack books, and have not them lying by me. Notwithstanding, I am certain, I shall not decline much from him. The hills toward which David did lift up his eyes, were saints and holy men, by whom when he could not have his mind satisfied, he turned another way, saying, From whence shall help come unto me? Anon, remembering himself better, he sued unto God himself, of whom incontinent he obtained the accomplishment of his wish, and so witnessed the same for our instruction, saying, Mine help is of the Lord, or cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. This interpretation, as near as I remember, is after the mind of St. Augustine; and I suppose verily, that it is not contrary unto the mind of God, nor disagreeing with the sequel of Scripture. Also, in this wise it is reported in the New Testament, by authority deduced out of the Old, where it is written, Every one that calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. And mark how, cum energia, it is said, upon the name of the Lord; without any sending us either to St. Christopher, (though he be painted ever so stout,) or to St. Patrick's purgatory in Ireland, or to St. James in Galicia, in the year of grace, or yet to any other saint or place; but he would have us that we should call upon Almighty God, and upon his name, for the love that he beareth to Christ, who is alway our advocate before our Father, to purchase mercy for our sins; and not for our sins only, quoth St. John, (who is the writer of this saying and testimony,) but also for the sins of all the world. St. Augustine upon the same, noteth that St. John, in that place, saith, We have an advocate, and that Christ is advocate for him, like as he is for all others, to purchase mercy for him, like as he doth for all others that shall be saved; and that St. John will not be known for our advocate, but that Christ should be taken for advocate of all. St. Bede (as I remember) upon the same, maketh as much for this purpose as doth St. Augustine, or well more; so that by course of Scripture we are taught to resort for all aid and relief (as I have said) unto the head-spring and fountain of all comfort and mercy, as St. Paul calleth him, the Father of mercies and of all comfort, who is ready to comfort us in all tribulation: which, as the Psalm reporteth, healeth all our infirmities, and taketh mercy upon all our iniquities. For he is sweet, as is said in another place, and gentle, and many mercies are laid up for all those that call upon him. Yet he showeth us no where, I trow, of benefits that we shall purchase by praying unto saints departed; and if any person can or will vouchsafe to teach me that, by some authority of Scripture, I would think myself highly beholden to him, whatsoever he were, either great or small, young or old: but I ween it cannot be. I have made truly long search, yet could I never find any such substantial teaching; howbeit, I offer myself ever to learn, and know that my rude wit, foolish youth, inexpert experience, and feeble discretion, had need of good instruction as much as any other. Howbeit I see (thanked be God) that sometimes he showeth some sparkle of light and wisdom to children, hiding the same from others that are reputed of higher prudence; so that the world thereby many times is brought into admiration, seeing such facts done by God before their face, and laugh thereat sometimes with indignation, as the Pharisees did at the blind man whom Christ had restored to sight, where they said to him, Thou, caitiff! wast born blind for thy sins, and wilt thou teach us, that are a great multitude of high officers of the temple, and doctors to teach the law? As who would say, It becometh thee full ill. Yet we ought not to marvel greatly at such doing, forasmuch as St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, showeth of the like practice done in his time, and that he writeth for the instruction of all ages after ensuing; so that it pertaineth (like as the Holy Scripture doth) as well to our time, as it did to that it was first written in. The doctrine of Christ's cross, that is, to wit, of the New Testament, is to them that perish, folly, saith he; but to us that obtain thereby salvation, meaning thereby to such as believe, it is the might or power of God; for it is written, saith he, by the prophet Isaiah, that God aforetime said, he would destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding or learning of the learned would he throw away and despise.
"This prophecy alleged, Paul thought to be authority sufficient to dissuade the Corinthians from the foolish affiance, vain-glory, or opinion, that they had in men, whom they peradventure over-highly esteemed for their offices or solemn titles. So that he proceedeth forth in the same: Where are ye now, quoth he, the worldly wise, the scribes, that is to say, doctors, and such other like officers: Hath not God showed the wisdom of the world to be foolish and unsavoury? For after that by the wisdom of God, which is showed in Scripture, I suppose, the world hath not studied to know God, by wisdom it hath pleased God now to save them that believe through the foolishness of preaching.' He calleth the word of God 'foolish preaching,' not because it was foolish, for afore he called it godly wisdom, but he spake after the opinion of them that set a little or nought thereby, esteeming it as Æsop's cock did the precious stone, and as swine do pearls.
"After long process in the same matter, he con- cludeth thus: 'Brethren,' saith he, 'you see your calling, how that not many wise men after the flesh are called to the belief of the gospel, nor many mighty men, nor many of noble parentage; but those that be fools after the estimation of the world, hath God chosen to confound the wise,' &c.
"Therefore I say, as I said afore, that, thanks be to God, albeit I am, as I showed before, void of such great prudency as others be well endued with, yet I see partly how their great reasons be not very substantial, whereby they contend by the treaty of reason, when authority faileth them, to show that we ought to pray to saints departed, to be mediators for us to Christ. And amongst other, this is one that they lean much upon, bringing it forth so usually, that common people well nigh altogether harp upon the same; some favouring it, other, contrariwise, esteeming it of no value.
The reason is this: If, when one should desire to come to the speech of our sovereign, to obtain some boon of him, need it were, first to purchase the favour of his chamberlains, or some other like officers, to bring him to the king's presence, for else he may watch long in vain, until he be full cold ere that he shall speak with his Grace, and much less is he like to obtain his petition. In like wise it fareth (as they say) betwixt God and us; of whom, if we would purchase any benefit, we must first break it unto the saints departed, making them our friends to go betwixt God and us, as mediators and intercessors. But such, (with their leave I would speak it,) I think, are deceived, in that they resemble God and the king together. For though the king be a full gracious prince, (as I hear by common report he is,) yet is he not in graciousness to he conferred with God; and though he were as. gracious as might be, yet hath he not the knowledge that is in God, for God knew of all things before the beginning of the world, and is every where, to see not only our outward dealing, but also all secret thoughts of all men's hearts; so that he needeth no mediators to inform him of our desires, as the king doth need. And he is full of infinite mercy, that I may as lightly, or as soon, obtain of him that which is for my be-hoof, as I should win by praying holy saints to be intercessors to him for me.
"Therefore, passing such apparent reasons, I take me to the ensample of antiquity, I mean of the patriarchs, prophets, and the apostles, and the authority of Scripture, which teach that we need not to fear, but may boldly resort unto Chris himself and his holy Father, forasmuch as he biddeth us, in these words and others like, so to do, saying, Come unto me, all ye that travail, are vexed, and sore charged; and I will refresh and ease you. Mark how he biddeth us to resort unto himself, and that without fear. For he and his Father, which are all one, giveth abundantly of all goodness unto all men, and upbraideth nobody for his unworthiness. But if we intend to obtain of Him, we must, all doubtfulness (as I said before) put apart, with a sure confidence of his mercy, ask of him what we would have; so that I leave unto others what they list to do, praying Jesus, that we all may lust for that which is most pleasing to him.
"But I think, concerning-myself, that according to Christ's own commandment I may, without any doubt casting, resort in all encumbrances, to seek ease thereof, even unto himself and to his blessed Father. Therefore he biddeth us, when we should pray, to say after this fashion, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' &c. For there is no creature, nor creatures, that ever were or be, that have more, or so much, either of might, whereby cometh ability to give help; or of mercy and tenderness, which should make them willing in proportion agreeable with ability; nor of knowledge, that should teach to minister both the other, as is our Lord God, who not only is almighty, all-merciful, and all-wise, but also infinite in all these glorious properties; so that undoubtedly he can, will, and best knoweth how, to relieve and succour us in all necessity and anguish. To whom be honour without end for ever, Amen.
"One thing yet I will show you in this case, of which thing I was once advertised by a great learned man, who (as I suppose) is now living. I will not name him, lest I should perhaps cause any displeasure to be conceived against him through my relation. The thing was this: 'I will,' quoth he, 'pray unto saints; but that shall be when I think, that God either cannot or will not give me my petition. But that (as I showed in the Convocation house) shall never be, I hope. And therefore it is to me needless to seek any further about, standing in such trust and belief as, I hope, I have found upon God's sure promise.'
"To the fifteenth article, where you do demand whether the saints in heaven, as mediators, pray for us, I say, that I believe saints in heaven do pray for us; for I suppose they know that all men generally living upon earth, be wrapped in manifold miseries, like as they also were, their souls being imprisoned within their bodies, being mortal. Albeit I think they know not what particular miseries men upon earth be entangled and clogged with, as showeth Augustine, or else some other (as I think rather) under his name, in a certain work, saying in this wise: that souls departed neither feel, nor know of any particular miseries sustained by men living in this world, whereby they should need to take either patience, or else compassion after their decease. Yet, forasmuch as they know in general, that all men living are clad with frailty, and that their charity is not minished after they be hence departed, but increased; therefore I believe verily, that they do pray for us as petitioners; but not as mediators, so far forth as I can see. For Scripture useth to speak but of one Mediator, which I think signifieth a maker of peace or atonement betwixt God the Father and man. Record I take of Paul, who, in the Epistle to Timothy, saith, There is one God, and one mediator, or peacemaker, betwixt God and man, the man called Christ Jesus, which gave himself for the redemption of all.
"Thus, I say, I believe saints in heaven do pray for us as petitioners, but not as mediators. Yea, all the saints, I ween, do pray, and long that the day of judgment may soon come, according to the saying of St. Paul, The fervent desire of the creature waiteth when the sons of God shall be revealed. And again, Every creature groaneth with us, and travaileth in pain together unto this present; which shall be for the accomplishment of glory, both to them and all others elect of God to be his children, and co-inheritors with Christ.
"In the sixteenth article, where you demand, whether I believe that oblations and pilgrimages may be devoutly and meritoriously done to the sepulchres and relics of saints, I say, that what they may be, I cannot perfectly tell; for God can so work, that unto those whom he hath chosen to be inheritors with him, all things shall turn to a good conclusion, as saith St. Paul to the Romans, in this wise: Unto those that love God, all things shall well succeed, and work together for their furtherance in goodness: of whom it is written in the Psalm, Blessed is that nation that hath the Lord for their God, the people whom he hath chosen to be his inheritors; yea, their evil deeds shall not hurt them, but come well to pass for the increase of virtue. For as it is said in the Gospel. To whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And again, it hurted not Onesimus, that he ran away from his master Philemon, but God wrought, that by occasion thereof he met with Paul, which converted him to the faith of the gospel, who before was without belief. Therefore, whether they may be done meritoriously or no, I will not define; God wotteth. But this I say, that God did never institute any such thing in the New Testament, which is the verity and rule of all Christian people to follow and believe: yea, that only is of perfect surety, and none other, but as it is agreeable to, and hath ground of the same. And like as we have no certain doctrine instituted by Christ, or his disciples, teaching us thus for to do; no more is there any merit appointed by him therefore, as I showed before, where I told my mind of our merits.
"Moreover, where ye put pie, which I call 'devoutly,' very true devotion (that is called in Latin, pietas) is that which hath annexed therewith divine promises for this present life, and for that which is to come, as witnesseth Paul, which is nothing else but the observation of Christ's law, that, in the Psalm, for the pureness thereof, is called, silver fined often and many times through the fire. It hath no chaff in it, as have men's traditions; but is pure and clean wheat, as showeth Jeremy, writing in this wise, What is the chaff to the wheat? Therefore behold, I will come against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my word every one from his neighbour, and deceive my people in their lies and in their errors. And this devotion is that which St. James calleth the pure religion of Christ, saying, Pure and immaculate religion before God the Father is, to visit fatherless children and widows in their vexation; whereby he meaneth all needy people that are succourless and helpless, with our counsel and other alms, according to our ability, whensoever we see them in need and distress.
"The other part of this religion showed by St. James, is, That a man should keep himself clean from the world; and that do they which be not so affectionate unto any thing therein, but that they have the things of the world, or occupy the same by true dealing, so that they can find in their heart to depart from them, when God shall please, or charity so requireth.
"Thus doing, we shall follow the exhortation of blessed Paul, which, writing to the Corinthians, saith thus, Brethren, the time is short: this remaineth, that they which have wives, should be as they had them not; and those that weep, should be as they wept not; and those that buy, as if they were without possession; and they that occupy this world, as though they occupied it not: for the fashion of this world passeth away. And this meaneth none other thing, but that we should neither love nor dread any worldly thing passing measure, or inordinately, but God above all things, and all other things in him or for him; and he that thus doth, fulfilleth the commandment of Christ spoken to the rich man in the Gospel, where he saith, Go and sell that ever thou hast, and come, follow me. For he hath sold away all that ever he had, that surely intendeth for the love of Christ, to help the poor with all that he may. The will is accepted for the deed, as is commonly said. And this saying both of James, and also of the evangelist, I think verily belongeth to all Christian men that they should perform it, none except, neither lay man nor woman, (as we use to say,) but to them, as well as to any whom we call religious.
"As concerning the relics and tombs of saints, I have said to your Lordship before, what I do think of the milk of our Lady, the blood which they say is at Hayles, Norwich, and other places, with such others, whereof I trust you do know what ought to be done. And I beseech God you may do therein as your office doth require, so showing example to other prelates to follow your Lordship in good doing, as is comely for a primate to do; remembering always, as Paul saith, the time is short, and therefore it were good to set to hand in time.
"Finally, holy Moses, when he died, would be so buried that no man should know which was his grave, as it is witnessed in the book of Deuteronomy; and that (as the expositors testify) was, because the Jews, who were prone to new-fangled worshipping, should not fall into idolatry, worshipping him as God, for the great and manifold miracles that were wrought by him while he was alive.
"To conclude, I say, it is no point of my belief, to think that oblations and pilgrimages at saints' graves and relics, are meritorious works, nor yet that there is any devotion in so doing. That is godly which is instituted by Scripture. If you think contrary, I would desire to know, for mine instruction, what part of Scripture should make therefore against me.
"In the seventeenth article, where you do ask, whether the fast in Lent, and others appointed by the common law, and received in common usage of Christian people, (unless necessity otherwise requireth,) are to be observed, I say that, in mine opinion, they are to be observed, and fasting discreetly done is commendable, for so shall a man avoid sloth, and be the more ready to serve God, and also his neighbours, and thereby tame the rebellion of carnal concupiscence, according to the saying of the poet, 'Without wine and good fare, lust waxeth cold.' And as St. Jerome, 'The body inflamed with wine, bursteth out into lust.'
"Yet shall not the breaking of these fasts make a man to do deadly sin, except in his mind be some other malicious affection therewith annexed, as rashness of mind, despite, or such-like; forasmuch as no positive law of man, made without foundation of Scripture, may bind any person, so that in breaking of such, he shall therefore sin deadly. And of this sort made by man, are the fast of Lent and other days ordained in your laws without authority of Scripture, which willeth us to fast perpetually, eating and drinking but when need requireth (not for any voluptuousness, as many, that recount themselves great fasters, I fear have done); yea, and that sparely, foreseeing always that our stomachs be never cloyed with drunkenness or surfeiting (as is commanded by our Saviour in Luke); but contrariwise, after the fashion rather of a certain prince that is mentioned, I trow, in Valerius Maximus, that never rose from his meal's meat with a full stomach, but rather somewhat empty, or hungry; which, as the story testifieth, caused him to live so wonderfully a long season, that a man could scarcely think it possible for one's life to be so prolonged, had not such a notable author reported it.
"And, to tell the truth, I suppose the prelates should better have persuaded the people to pure fasting by instant preaching of the word of God, and fatherly exhortations, than by ordaining of so sore a multitude of laws and constitutions; for the nature of man is well described by Horace, saying, 'Look, what is forbid, that we most desire, and always covet the things that be denied us.' And in another proverb, 'The rope, by overmuch straining, bursteth asunder.' According to this said a good old father in Cambridge. I remember his saying well yet: he was an old doctor of divinity. When a legate came into England at a time, and he, with certain bishops, had ordained, that the dedication of all churches through England (as I remember) should be kept holy and solemnized upon one day, and priests should have their gowns made close before, with such other like ordinances, he resisted, not condescending to have them put in execution, when his diocesan required him; declaring how this multitude of laws pleased him not; for we had enough and abundantly before. Adding this reason, 'Adam, being in Paradise, had but one law to observe, and yet he brake it: What other thing then shall this multitude do,' quoth he, 'but multiply transgression? for when a faggot is bound over strait, the bond must break.'
"God therefore, I beseech him, send us of the sweet dew of his heavenly doctrine, to moisten and supple the earthly ground of our hearts, that we may grow like fashioned unto him; putting apart our old Adam, with all his dissimulation and painted show, that is much caused by human laws and constitutions; and do upon us Christ, that is the very truth, and the way directing men to the same, Amen.
"Unto the eighteenth article, where you ask, whether it be laudable and profitable that worshipful images be set in churches for the remembrance of Christ and his saints, I say, that I know of no images that ought to be worshipped, specially made by the hand of men: for the Psalm saith, Confusion or shame be upon them that worship and make obeisance unto carved images, and that glory in their pictures. Moreover St. Augustine, in his book De Vera Religione, saith thus: 'Let us not have devotion in worshipping the works of men.' Or else thus: 'Let us not be bound to worship the works of men; for the workmen are more excellent than the things which they make, whom notwithstanding we ought not to worship.' Lactantius also maketh strongly with the same: I cannot without book recite his saying, for he teacheth largely of the same matter. Origen also, writing against Celsus, I trow, will likewise testify; where, as I remember, he concludeth, saying, that he would have no goldsmiths nor gravers in a commonalty; for they do but little profit or none thereto. And St. Gregory, that was chief, either inventor that images should be set in churches, or else maintainer thereof, would not, as I have read, (I trow, it is in an epistle which he writeth to Servus,) have them worshipped.
"And as concerning the exciting of men's memory, I would suppose that if Christ's doctrine were so showed and opened, that people might clearly understand it, (and that is the principal office of prelates and curates to do, by diligent teaching thereof,) I think verily we should have little need of any other images than that which should, by wholesome doctrine, be showed unto us by word of mouth and writing: 'Nothing is so effectual, to exercise the remembrance of disciples, as the lively voice of good teachers;' as it is testified both by common report, and also by the sentence of learned men.
"So that I suppose, if this lively doctrine of God had aforetime been apertly and diligently opened unto the people, as curates ought to have done, we should have such profit thereby, that we should not need to contend for setting up, or taking down, of other dumb stocks, and lifeless stones, carved or made by men; and if prelates would begin to set up Christ's word, which, alas for pity! is not looked upon, (but rather trodden down and despised so that many are not ashamed to say, 'I will have no more learning in Christ's law than my predecessors, for they that magnify it must be sore punished, and taken for heretics,' with such other grievous words,) if this doctrine were yet set up in churches, I say, and truly opened, that all men might have their judgment thereby reformed and made clear, I think we should not greatly need the profit that cometh by images made of men, to excite our remembrance to live Christianly.
"For that word which came from the breast of Christ himself, and was written of others that wrote and spake by the suggestion of his Spirit, the Holy Ghost, showeth full perfectly his blessed will, which is the true and certain image of his mind and device. If this, therefore, were diligently inculcated, I think we should be transformed anew, according to the mind of Paul, who, writing to the Colossians, saith thus: 'See that you lie not one to another, after that now you have put off the old man with his works, and have put upon you the new man, which is transformed and renovated after the knowledge and image of Him that made us.' Yea, thus should we all be taught of God, as is said in John; and all should know God, both small and great, according to the promise recited in the Hebrews: yea, thus should we be restored to goodness, that we should have the image of God carved in our hearts full expressly. For every man is transformed into the fashion of virtuous things, that he is accustomed to read and hear. And, therefore, it were a great grace, if we might have the word of God diligently and often spoken and sung unto us in such wise that the people might understand it. Yea, then it should come to pass, that craftsmen should sing spiritual psalms sitting at their works, and the husbandman at his plough, as wisheth St. Jerome.
"Yea, this holy image of Christ, I mean his blessed doctrine, doth appoint us also to consider the works made by the hands of God, such as no man can make like, whereby, as saith St. Paul, writing to the Romans, The invisible power and divinity of God is known and seen by the creation of the world, of such as will consider his works that are therein by him made. Look in the Psalms, Praise ye the Lord from heaven. The heavens declare the glory of God, with others. And these two images, God's works and his doctrine, have, ere any images made by men were set up in churches, well and sufficiently instructed the primitive church: and should yet instruct us well, if they were well considered, so that we should not need so sorely to contend for setting up of others made by men.
Whereby I have perceived much harm to arise, and no great profit; nor the Scripture maketh not for them, but rather contrary; as concerning which matter, I would your Lordship would please to read the Epistle of Baruch once again, writing of the same matter.
"Unto the nineteenth article, where you ask, whether I believe that prayers of men living, do profit souls departed and being in purgatory, I made answer in the thirteenth article.
"Unto the twentieth, where you do ask, whether men merit and deserve both by their fasting, and also by other deeds of devotion, I have showed what I do think thereof, in the fifth demand.
"In the one and twentieth, where you do ask, whether I do believe that men, prohibited by bishops to preach, as suspected of heresy, ought to cease from preaching and teaching until they have purged themselves of suspicion, before a higher judge? I say that men may be wrongfully suspected of heresy, either because they never thought to believe such errors as men, by false suspicion, do deem them to favour; or else, when men, as well of high estate as of low, by sinister judgment may think that to be error, which is the very truth. And of this speaketh Isaiah, Woe be to them, quoth he, that call the light darkness, and the darkness light; the truth falsehood, and the falsehood truth. As the bishops and the priests, with their orator Tertullus, called Paul, saying thus, before a judge called Felix, unto whose court they brought him to be condemned to death: We have, quoth they, gotten here a pestilent fellow, a sower of sedition or discord among all the Jews of the world, and a bringer-up of the sect of the Nazarenes; which was also minded to have polluted our temple, &c. This is to call, by perverse judgment, truth falsehood. And thus did their predecessors speak of the prophets, yea, and of Christ himself, calling him a seducer and preacher of heresy: which is written for our instruction. And men being thus suspected, (as I would none were,) ought in no wise, therefore, to cease either from preaching, or teaching.
"Ensample of this we have in the Acts of the Apostles, where it is showed that when Peter and John had done a miracle upon a man that had been lame from his nativity, (whom by the power of Christ they healed, and caused to go where he pleased,) the people, hearing of this, came running about Peter and John. Peter, seeing this, did exhort the people in a sermon, that they should not think him and his fellow St. John to have done this wonderful thing by their own power or holiness, but by the virtue of Christ, whom they and their head rulers had slain.
While they were thus speaking with the people, there came upon them the priests and officers of the temple, accompanied with the Sadducees, being sore displeased that they should enterprise to teach the people, and preach that men should arise from death by the name of Christ, whom they had caused to be crucified; and therewith they laid hands upon them, and put them in ward until next day. The next day they sent for the apostles before them, demanding by what power, and in whose name, they did this miracle? Peter made answer, If you, quoth he, that are head-rulers over the people, lust by examination to know by what means we did it, we would you should all know, that we did it through the name of Christ Jesus of Nazareth, whom you did crucify: but God did cause him to arise again. In the virtue of his name doth this man, that afore was lame, now stand afore you here both whole and sound. For Christ is that head corner-stone, whom you cast away, which should have builded the people's faith upon him, neither is there any salvation without him.
"These great men, seeing that Peter spake so freely, and that he, with his fellow John, were simple men, without any pompous apparel, or great guard of servants, being like idiots and men unlearned, wondered thereat. At last they did command them to depart out of their council-house, while they should commune more largely of the matter. Afterwards they called the apostles before them again, commanding them that they should no more preach, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But the apostles answered, saying, I beseech you, judge better. Ought we to obey you more than God, or no? for certainly we must needs testify of those things which we have both heard and seen. Then the head priests, threatening them sore, did give them strait charge not to break their precept; and so did let them go, not knowing any cause why they might punish them; for they feared lest the people would have taken part with the apostles, for the people gave glory unto God for the miracle showed by them.
"Notwithstanding all these great threats, Peter wrought miracles still amongst the people, doing them to know that glory therefore ought to be given to Jesus, by whose power and name they were done; wherewith the hearts of the people melted for joy, so that they followed after the apostles whithersoever they went.
"The primate of the priests, hearing of this, and all that were about him, replete with indignation, laid hands upon the apostles, putting them in the common prison. But the angel of God, in the night, opened the prison-doors, and brought them out, saying, Go you into the temple, and stand there preaching unto the people all the words of life; that is to say, Christ's doctrine: and so they did early in the morning. Then came forth the chief priest, and they whom he used to have about him, and called a council, in which were all the priests of Israel, or ancients of Israel. So they sent unto the prison-house to have the apostles brought forth before them. When their servants came to the prison-house, and found the apostles gone thence, they returned to their masters, saying, We found the prison fast shut round about in every part, and the keepers watching at the doors without, full diligently. But when we had opened the prison, we could find nobody within.
"Then, as the high priests and officers of the temple heard this, they were in a great perplexity, doubting what would thereof come. Then came one unto them and showed them, saying, Behold, the men that ye put in prison are standing in the temple, preaching unto the people. Then went they thither, and brought the, apostles with them without any violence; but they were afraid lest the people would have beaten them down with stones.
"Then they caused the apostles to be brought into their council-house, the high priest beginning his proposition against the apostles in his form: Have we not straitly commanded you, said he, that you should not preach in the name of Christ? and see, you have filled all Jerusalem with your doctrine. Will you bring this man's blood upon us, that we should unrighteously have caused him to suffer death? Then answered Peter and the other apostles, saying, We ought to obey God more than any man. The God of our fathers hath raised Jesu from death, whom you did slay, hanging on a tree. Him notwithstanding hath God raised, and by his power advanced to be our King and Saviour: by whom shall be given to all Israel, that will take repentance, forgiveness of sin.
"These great rulers hearing this, their hearts were therewith cloven asunder, and they consulted together to slay the apostles. But one good man among their multitude advised them otherwise, whose advice they did approve. Then they called the apostles again before them, causing them to be scourged, and charged them no more to preach in the name of Jesus; and so did let them depart.
"Then went they away out of the council, rejoicing that God had made them worthy to suffer such rebukes for his name's sake. But yet they never ceased to teach and preach of Jesus Christ every day in the temple, and in all houses that they came into. This is written in the fourth, fifth, and sixth of the Acts of the Apostles, and for our instruction, doubt you not: for such practice is showed in all ages. So that hereby you may see, when men be wrongfully suspected or infamed of heresy, and so prohibited by bishops to preach the word of God, that they ought for no man's commandment to leave or stop, though they do never purge themselves before them: for such will admit no just purgation many times, but judge in their own causes, and that as they lust, which methinketh not at all comely. Therefore in the old law, the priests and other judges do sit together, hearing of matters that were in controversy.
"Yet this I think reasonable, that a man justly and not causelessly suspected, and namely if be be so found faulty of heresy, ought to cease from preaching, after he is inhibited, until he have made his purgation before some judge. But, in my rude opinion, it were necessary and convenient that our heads should not be over ready of suspicion, and so inhibiting men approved from preaching, especially in this session, when the poople do suspect them to do it more for love of themselves, and maintaining of their private lucre or honour, than to do it for love of God, or maintenance of his honour.
"In the two and twentieth article, where you demand whether I believe that it is lawful for all priests freely to preach the word of God or no, and that in all places, at all seasons, and to all persons to whom they shall please, although they be not sent: I say, that priests are called in Scripture by two distinct words, that is to wit, presbyteri, and sacerdotes. The first is to say, ancient men, seniors, or elders, and by that word or vocable are the secular judges, or such-like head officers, sometimes also signified; as we read in Daniel, that they were so called which defamed and wrongfully accused Susanna: that this is seldom, and nothing so customable as for those to be called presbyteri, who are set to be prelates in the church, to guide the same by the word of God and his blessed doctrine, that is the rod of direction, and the foundation of Christ's faith. And priests thus called presbyteri, in the primitive church, (what time there were but few traditions and ordinances to let us from the strait trade or institution made by Christ and his apostles,) were the very same and none other but bishops; as I showed you in the first part of mine answer, by the authority of St. Jerome.
"Paul, also, recordeth the same right evidently in the First to Titus; in this form: I left thee Titus, quoth blessed Paul, behind me in Crete, that thou shouldest set in due order such things as lack, or be not else perfectly framed; and that thou shouldest set priests in every town, like as I did appoint thee, if any be without reproach or blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not given to riot, or that be not unruly. For so ought a bishop to be, &c. These are not my words, but St. Paul's in the Epistle to Titus. Where you may see that a priest, called presbyter, should be the same that we call a bishop, whom he requireth a little after, to be able, by wholesome doctrine of God's Scripture, to exhort the good to follow the same doctrine; and if any shall speak against it, to reprove them thereby. And mark ye how he would have a bishop (otherwise called an ancient man or a priest) to make exhortation by Holy Scripture, and thereby to reprove them that shall speak against the truth, and not to condemn them by might or authority only, or else by traditions of men made in general councils. And as many as are in this wise priests. who are commonly called presbyteri, (otherwise bishops,) such as in the church are set to take cure of souls, and to be spiritual pastors, ought to preach freely the word of God in all places and times convenient, and to whomsoever it shall please them, if they suppose and see that their preaching should edify and profit.
"And whereas you add this particle, 'though they were not sent;' I say, that all such are chosen to be preachers, and therefore sent. For of this speaking St. Gregory in his Pastorals, in this wise: 'Whosoever taketh priesthood upon him, taketh also upon him the office of preaching.' Yea, your law reporteth in like manner, Distinction 43, where it is thus said, 'A priest ought to be honest, that he may show honesty both in words and conditions.' Wherefore it is said in the Canticles, The cheeks of the spouse, that is, to wit, of preachers, are to be compared to a turtle dove. Where is moreover added, he must also have the gift of teaching, because (as saith St. Jerome) innocent conversation, without speech or preaching, how much it is available by example-giving, so much doth it hurt again by silence-keeping: for wolves must be driven away by barking of dogs, and by the shepherd's staff, which (as the Gloss showeth) signifieth preaching, and sharp words of the priest. And this I understand of such as should be priests elect both by God and men, in God's church; whose office is to preach.
"And though many of them who now do minister in the church, and are elected by bishops, otherwise than after the manner of Christ's institution, and the form of the primitive church, neither do nor can preach; yet ought not the multitude of such to be laid for an authority against me or others, that are compelled to show the truth and right ordinances of the apostles, that were used aforetime inthe primitive church: God bring it in again! Neither ought we, for the negligence of bishops, who have chosen such an ignorant multitude, whereby the principal duty of priests is grown out of knowledge, when we do show you thereof, to be so enforced by a book-oath, and therefore noted as heretics, imprisoned and burned.
"Other be called priests in the New Testament, by this word sacerdotes, that is to say, I think, sacrificers. And thus as Christ was called king and priest, so be all Christian men in the New Testament (as is testified, Apoc. i.) by Christ made kings and priests. The words in the Apocalypse be thus: To Jesu Christ, which hath loved us, and washed us from our sins through his blood, and made us kings and priests unto God, even his Father, unto him be glory and rule for ever and ever. Amen. Thus saith St. John, speaking of all Christian people. In like manner it is said, by St. Peter, where he writeth unto all Christian men, You, quoth he, be a chosen generation, a regal priesthood, an holy people. St. Bede, expounding the same, (as my remembrance doth serve,) shall testify plainly with me. And St. Augustine, I wot well, in divers places recordeth that all Christian men be so called, regale sacerdotium; and likewise doth Faber, in his Commentaries upon the same place. Whosoever looketh upon the treatise called Unio Dissidentium, shall find a multitude of ancient fathers' sayings, declaring the same.
"But this may yet seem a strange thing and a new, that all persons should be called priests, and that, in Scripture, which cannot lie. Truth it is indeed, it may seem strange to divers, as it did to me and many other, when we read it first, because we never read or heard of the same before; and so did Christ's doctrine (and his apostles') seem new to his audience, when he himself preached. Albeit he yet proved his doings and sayings by authority of the law and prophets, as is showed in Romans i., where Paul reporteth, that he was chosen apart, to be a minister of the gospel that was promised before by the prophets. And our Saviour testifieth the same in St. John, saying to the Jews, Think you not, quoth he, that I shall accuse you before my Father. There is one to accuse you, which is Moses, in whom ye do trust. But if you believed Moses, you should certainly believe me, for he writeth of me, &c. Likewise a little above, he biddeth them search the Scriptures, for they make report of him.
"But although these sayings do seem new, for lack that we have not had old familiarity with Scripture, and usage in reading the same, (God amend and help it, when it shall please him I) yet truly so standeth it written as I have said, and so it is interpreted by the doctors above named; and so was it preached of a certain doctor also of divinity in London, the second day of Advent last past, in this sentence. I wot not whether these were the self words or no: 'The church,' quoth the doctor, 'is nothing else but the congregation of faithful people: and you all,' quoth he to the people, 'are of the church, as well as I, or any others, if you be of God. And likewise we and all men are priests, but yet are not all alike ordained ministers,' said he, 'for to consecrate the body of Christ in the church.' Thus said the preacher; whom, when I see opportunity, I dare be bold to name. And these, I say, ought not all to preach openly in general conventions or assemblies, neither can they, but they rather should come to learn: yet privately are they bound, for instruction of their servants, children, kinsfolk, and such-like, to speak what should be for the destruction of vice, and for the increase or upholding of virtue, whensoever time and place so behoveth; as showeth St. Paul, saying in this wise: You that are fathers, provoke not your children to wrath or anger; but bring them up in the doctrine and discipline of the Lord.
"In the three and twentieth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that it is lawful for lay people of both kinds (that is to wit, both men and women) to sacrifice and preach the word of God: I say, that it is meet for none, in mine opinion, to preach openly the word of God, except they be chosen and elected to the same, either by God or solemnly by men, or else by both; and therefore St. Paul calleth himself, in all his epistles, an apostle of God, that is to wit, a messenger of God. And to the Galatians he writeth thus, Paul an apostle; not sent of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ. Also to the Romans, How shall men preach truly, quoth he, except they be sent?
"Notwithstanding, I say this, both by supportation of God's law, and also of laws written in the Decrees, that in time of great necessity lay people may preach; and that of both kinds, both men and women; as you may see in the Epistle to the Corinthians, where he saith that it is a shame for a woman to speak in a multitude or congregation. Yet in another place he saith that every woman praying or prophesying, having nothing upon her head, doth dishonour her head.
"To this accordeth the prophecy of Joel, recited in the Acts, where, in the person of God, it is said thus, I shall pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and both your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Thus did Anna the prophetess, daughter of Phanuel, give praise unto Christ in the temple, and spake ofhim to all men of Jerusalem, that looked after the redemption of Israel.
"This also doth the Virgin Mary yet speak unto us in the Scripture, by the song which she made, that is daily recited in the church, called Magnificat. Yea, Stephen also, being no priest; but a deacon, made a wonderful good sermon. This also willeth your Decrees, Dist. 9, De Consecratione, where it is thus said: 'A woman, although she is learned and holy, may not presume to teach men in the congregation, nor baptize, except necessity requireth.' So that, where need is, I shall add this, but not without the mind of him that wrote the law, like as a woman may baptize, so may she teach the word of God, or preach, as is declared more plainly, Cap. 16. Quest. 1. et in Glossa. 11. Cap. Adjicimus. Dist. 18. And I beseech God, that, for lack of true and well learned officers, such necessity do not now come upon us, that such shall need to take upon them to preach.
"There is a learned man, which, in a dialogue that he maketh betwixt a rude abbot and a gentlewoman having skill in learning, jesteth, but with pretty earnest, (as his manner is;) and giveth a watch-word touching somewhat my purpose. It is in the end of the dialogue. The gentlewoman answering the abbot, for that he had partly checked her because she was quick in utterance of learning, 'Sir,' quoth she, 'if you continue therein so dull as you have done, and daily do, the world perceiving it, (as they begin fast to grow quick in sight,) it is to be feared lest they will set you beside the saddle, and put us in your room.'
"As concerning sacrifice-doing, (so do I understand by the word which you do use, libare, not knowing else what it should mean,) I say that it is lawful for all men and women to do sacrifice, of what sort soever they be: but I mean not by sacrifice-doing, to say mass as priests used to do, thereunto appointed; but like as Christian people be sacerdotes, that is to say, sacrificers, as is showed before, so ought they to offer, and do offer, spiritual sacrifices, as writeth St. Paul to the Romans, saying, I beseech you, brethren, for the love of God's mercy, that you will give your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, being a reasonable worshipping. In that he saith our body should be a sacrifice, he would have it slain: for that was the manner, that all beasts that were wont to be sacrificed should be first slain. But he joineth therewith, living; saying, Give your body to be a living. sacrifice. So that he would we should continue to live in this body to God's pleasure, but fleeing the evil lusts and appetites thereof, and so shall our worshipping be reasonable, if we do not give unto our reason overmuch of the bridle whereby it may run at riot, in following fleshly concupiscence, and wicked vanity or arrogancy: as when men will take in hand to devise by their own wit, a more godly way of living than is instituted by Christ, (which is the wisdom of his heavenly Father,) saying that his is not sufficient enough for us to follow; of whom it is said by the prophet Isaiah in these words: This people approach near unto me, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: but they do worship me in vain, teaching doctrines that are laws or precepts of men.
"Then Paul proceedeth, showing of this Christian sacrifice, saying, And apply not yourselves unto the fashion of this world, but be you transformed, by renovation of your mind; that you may know what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and rightful before him. See how he would have us do this sacrifice, and mortify our lusts, in refusing the corrupt fashion and behaviour of the world, altering our minds by a new way, by knowing the will of God, and following after the same.
"Another manner of sacrifice which he requireth is, that we should alway offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, that is, to wit, the fruits of our lips, that Hosea calleth vitulos labiorum, giving laud unto his name; and that we should not forget to do good, and to be beneficial to our neighbours: For in such sacrifice, saith he, God hath delight.
"Thus I say that by plain suffrage of your law in the Decrees, and also of Scripture, lay persons, in necessity and in time of need, may lawfully preach or show the word of God, and also do sacrifice: but I think, except great need require, they ought not so to do.
"Thus have you herein my mind, which if it be not firm and substantial, I will yet reform it when any better is showed; as I will also do in all other things; for I am not in this yet fully certified. Albeit methinketh the decrees do pass evidently with me.
"In the twenty-fourth article, where you do ask, whether excommunication, denounced by the pope against all heretics, do oblige and bind them before God: I say, that it bindeth them before God, if it be lawfully denounced, that is, if they be in very deed, as they be named; and if he denounceth them so to be, not of his own proper head or affection only, but with the consent of others gathered with him in Christ's name, for the behoof of Christ's church: for so used St. Paul, when he did excommunicate the man of Corinth, which had full horribly defiled his mother-in-law, as appeareth in 1 Cor. v.
"And the same form declareth the Gospel, in these words: If thy brother hath trespassed against thee, go and reprove him betwixt thee and him alone. If he will hear thee, thou hast so won thy brother. If he will not hear thee, take one or two with thee, that in the report of two or three, every thing may be assured. If he will not hear them, show it unto the congregation. If he will not follow the mind of the congregation, let him be unto thee as a paynim, or a notable sinner. For verily I say unto you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven. So that such excommunication ought to be done (as methinketh) by the congregation assembled together with their pastor, whose advice they ought principally to esteem and follow, if it be virtuous and godly.
"And thus is it convenient to be done: for the pope is made of flesh, as well as other men; and therefore he may sometimes judge awry, cursing the blessed, and blessing the cursed. And likewise many other prelates, judging the Christian to be heretics, and heretics Christian: of whom it is also written in the prophecy of Ezekiel, They slew the souls of them that should not die, and gave life to the souls that should not live; as did the Pharisees when they did cast Christ out of the vineyard, which signifieth the church; and as our Saviour prophesied, saying unto his disciples, There shall be, quoth he, some that shall excommunicate you: yea, and the time shall come, that whosoever shall slay you, shall think to do honour to God. And this shall they do unto you, because they do neither know my Father nor me. These words be written in the Gospel of John; whereby you see, that for lack of knowledge of God, which is taught and seen by the light of Scripture, Christ prophesied how lewd men should lewdly excommunicate the good, yea, and slay his true servants, thinking, through such facts, to please God, and to do him good service.
"Wherefore send, O Lord! I beseech thee, the knowledge of thee to be dilated upon earth, (which Hosea bewaileth sore, seeing it absent,) whereby men's judgments may be rectified; and so do accordingly to the leading of the same!
"In the twenty-fifth article, where you do ask, whether every priest is bound to say daily his matins and even-song, according as it is ordained by the church, or whether he may leave them unsaid, without offence or deadly sin. I say that prayer in Scripture is much commended, and many great and immeasurable benefits are showed to ensue thereupon, that men should the more lustily give themselves thereto. With prayer doth St. Paul bid us to fight in divers places, continuing in the same against our ghostly enemies. A figure of this is read in Exodus, when the Israelites fought in battle against a nation of infidels: I trow their captain was called Amalek. Moses stood upon a mountain to behold what should be the conclusion, and lifting up his hands, prayed that it might well succeed with the Israelites: but in long holding them up, at last his fervour began to grow cold and faint, and his hands sagged downwards. And ever as his hands grew heavy, (which signifieth that his affection in praying abated and waxed cold,) the infidels prevailed; but as he kept them heaved upward, (whereby was meant intentive prayer of a devout mind,) he purchased victory to the Israelites. Aaron and Hur, which indited the law to the people, and were thereof the interpreters, stood with Moses; who always, as they did see his arms to faint, did uphold them, so that finally the victory came unto Israel.
"By 'Moses' is signified, as show great clerks, devotion; by 'Aaron and Hur,' the knowledge of God's doctrine: which two things (devotion, I mean, and knowledge) all men had need to have present with them: for devotion doth elevate the mind to God, but knowledge doth sustain or uphold the same, that it may with courage continue, not falling down; but so alway doth it incense and kindle it, that it mounteth up into the presence of our heavenly Father; where they savour together far more sweetly than any fumigation either of juniper, incense, or whatsoever else, be they ever so pleasant, do savour in any man's nose.
"Therefore St. Paul, seeing how necessary the knot of these two, devotion and knowledge of God's will, was (which is showed in Scripture, as teacheth St. Cyprian in these words: 'The will of God,' saith he, 'is that which Christ hath taught and wrought'): Paul, I say, seeing this, wished to be excommunicated and separated from God, for to have the Jews come to the knowledge of Christ's church, which is the only right way to salvation; for whom he prayed right studiously, as appeareth a little after, saying, I bear them record, that they have a zeal and devotion to God, but not according to the knowledge of Christ's doctrine, &c. Where you may clearly see how the Jews (as St. Paul, which is no liar, recordeth here) had a zeal and devotion to God, but they lacked knowledge therewith. 'Moses' was amongst them, but 'Aaron' was away; whose absence pained Paul so sore, that he, ravished with exceeding charity, wished no small harm unto himself, upon condition that the multitude of them might be holpen, and have better judgment, even to be separated from God. It must needs be then greatly hurtful, albeit men have devotion, to be without the knowledge of God and his law, signified by 'Aaron.'
"St. Paul also, before that he came to knowledge, had such-like devotion himself, as he reporteth in these words: All the Jews, quoth he, have known my living, that I have led since I entered into man's age, (which time, as I remember, is accounted from the sixteenth or eighteenth year of a man's life; in Latin he calleth it adolescentia,) which, from the beginning thereof, was, saith he, at Jerusalem, among mine own nation, that did know me afore also from the beginning, if they would say the truth, and that I lived after the most strait order or sect of our religion, being a Pharisee. And I, quoth Paul a little after, thought to do many things in fighting against the name of Jesus Christ, yea, and did also, being at Jerusalem; and I thrust many saints or holy men into prison, having power given me thereto of the high priests; and, when they should be put to death, I gave sentence: and I, quoth he, was commonly in all synagogues, punish, ing them, and compelling them to blaspheme (as men are fain now-a-days, when the bishops make them to abjure and to deny the truth of the gospel); yea, moreover did I, quoth Paul, rage against them, pursuing after them into strange lands.
"See what zeal Paul had to God before he was instructed in the doctrine of Christ. He thought to have pleased God highly in persecuting his servants, of whom one was St. Stephen. He was then sore blinded, through ignorance, and wanted the assistance of 'Aaron:' but anon, as Christ, which is the true Aaron, had appeared unto him, asking him, and saying, in a lamentable form, O Saul! Saul! why dost thou persecute me, in troubling and striking my servants, the members of mine own body? of whom it is said, He that smiteth you, shall smite the tender ball of mine eye: his heart fell, I dare say, as low as his body, that is, even down to the earth, repenting himself full sore, being ready to amend and follow after a new way; as appeareth by his answer, where he saith, O Lord! what wilt thou have me to do? As though one would say, Now I see all that I thought to have done before of good intention, and good purpose or devotion, hath deceived me. I find it otherwise. That which I esteemed good, in very deed is and was naught. Teach me therefore, good Lord! quoth he, a better way, and amend my judgment, that, mine own will or intention forsaken, I may now follow thine to please thee, and to do thy will. And so, as he came to Ananias, by the assignment of Christ, the thick filthiness of his old wayward judgment fell away, as appeareth by the dross or rubbish that came from his eyes, even like scales, as the Scripture maketh relation, and he put upon him a new judgment, which is directed after the straight rule of the gospel: whereby you may see that men's devotion may oft beguile and seduce them, except knowledge do assist the same, for to sustain and direct it; which, knit together, shall much strengthen men in all trouble and temptations. So that it is much expedient for all men, as nigh as they may, to have prayer annexed with knowledge: and that showeth full notably Erasmus, in the second passage of Enchiridion, where he testifieth but of easy liking that he hath, in saying of matins, yea, rather contrariwise he showeth disliking; and so he doth also in his exposition of the first Psalm, Beatus vir, where the text maketh agreeably for the same. It is written in this wise: Blessed is the man that hath not gone after the counsel of the wicked, and hath not stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence; but hath his will in the law of God, and shall muse or be occupied in it both day and night.
"See how the prophet (which, I doubt not but he knew as perfectly that will and pleasure of God, as ever did any pope or general council, or whatsoever they were besides, that ordained long service to be said of priests) testifieth them to be blessed, that study and are exercised in the law of God both day and night; . that is, to wit, always. A great promise put of God to such blessed exercise, which we may call right devotion, or true godliness. For Paul, defining godliness, saith thus: Godliness is profitable unto all things; for that hath annexed thereto promises of this life present, and of the life to cone.
"But no such promise is made of God, I am certain, to them that say daily matins; neither are we certain by the word of God, that we shall therefore be blessed of him, no more than we are certain, that for saying over the fifteen Aves, every day once through a whole year, we shall apertly see our Lady to aid us before our death, as it is testified in the scripture of the Primer, but not by scripture of the Bible; or that we shall have a like benefit for saying of her Psalter upon the ten beads that come from the crossed friars, or upon the five beads hallowed at the Charter-house, or for fasting 'the Lady's fast,' as men call it; nor for fasting on the Wednesday, as is showed by a book that is allowed to be printed and read of all men that lust; for it is neither the New Testament nor the Old.
"They are condemned, you wot well (and I perhaps shall have a little less favour because I tell the truth freely, for such things are called offensive). But would God, that all persons, so thinking, would remember what answer Christ made unto his disciples, when 'they came to him, and warned him to beware, saying, 'You know that the Pharisees are offended, hearing such words spoken. I will leave out Christ's answer, lest I should be thought over free and plain in tarrying or uttering of abusions, and speak no further.
"A like demand, with answer thereunto annexed, shall you find in Luke, where Christ would not refrain to speak any deal more easily. Therefore I beseech them that deem me (God wotteth whether righteously or no) slanderously, to revise the said places, and then counsel me to do what shall be most expedient to follow, if their charity will so require. Yet would I that all people should know that I do not reprove that saying of the fifteen Ooes, which (so far forth as my remembrance doth serve is a very good prayer, or such-like prayers; nor would I that any person should think me to disallow any secret fastings; for such, not only present with you, but even from hence absent, have I commended in earnest speaking, and so intend to do, by the assistance of God's grace. Nevertheless such vain promises I do abhor, as be with them annexed, with the upholders of the same: for such do cause vain confidence in the people, withdrawing and seducing them from the right belief of the gospel, (which Christian men ought only to build their faith upon,) unto new inventions of vanity. St. Paul calleth such, old women's tales, where he writeth unto Timothy, bidding him to beware of them, and to throw them away.
"The prophet David, likewise, doth accord thereunto, saying, Blessed is the man that hath in the name of God his affiance or hope; and hath not looked back to vanities and false dotages or madness. And this I say again, that the matins-saying hath no more promise of God made to the sayers, than hath the other above named; for they were instituted by the fantasy or mind of men, and not by the rule of Scripture. Neither do I think that the priests who will truly follow the rule of God written in the Bible, ought so to be charged or encumbered with saying of them, that they thereby should be hindered from the study of that, which to know, belongeth principally both to their own soul's salvation, and also to thedischarge of their duty, and which God most highly of priests doth require, (I mean the study of his gospel,) whereby they themselves should be spiritually nourished, and thereafter should feed Christ's flock, the congregation of his people, according to the saying of our Saviour: I am the door, quoth he; whosoever shall come in by me, shall both come in and go out, and find good pasture or feeding that is to say, whosoever shall enter to be a pastor or minister in Christ's church' or congregation by Christ, shall both enter into contemplation of God's glory, declared abundantly in Scripture, and after go forth and show the same abroad to others, for their wealth and edifying.
"To this accordeth what is written in Luke, where our Saviour speaketh to all his church signified in the person of St. Peter. Peter! quoth he, I have prayed that thy faith should not fail; and thou, being converted, go then about to confirm thy brethren. So that he would have Peter established first in the faith of his sure doctrine, and then to go forth as he did, to teach others to be grounded in the same likewise. And thus ought all priests to be called presbyteri, which will be ministers in the church; for so biddeth St. Peter, saying thus: I beseech the priests, quoth he, that are among you, I myself being a priest and a witness-bearer of Christ's afflictions, and also a partaker of the glory which shall be revealed; see that you with all diligence do feed the flock of Christ, taking care of the same, not as enforced thereto, but willingly, not desiring filthy lucre, but with a loving mind; neither as men exercising dominion over the children or inheritors of God, but so that you be patterns, or ensample-givers to the flock, 1 Pet. v. See how he requireth of priests, that they should spend all their diligence to feed Christ's flock, and to show good ensample of living, making no mention of long matins-saying, which then was not mentioned nor spoken of.
According to this, it is written in your Decrees after this form: Ignorance, saith the law, mark it well I beseech you all, is the mother of all errors; which ought to be eschewed especially of priests, who, among the people of God, have taken upon them the office of preaching. Priests are commanded to read the Holy Scriptures, as saith Paul the apostle to Timothy: Give heed to reading, exhortation, and teaching; and continue always in the same. Let priests therefore know Holy Scripture, and let all their labour be in preaching and teaching, and let them edify all men both in knowledge of faith, and in discipline of good works. These be the words of the law in the Decrees, dist. 38; wherefore you see how the law lamenteth ignorance in all persons; for it is the original of all errors. God send us therefore the knowledge of his true' gospel! It biddeth that ignorance should be utterly eschewed, and principally by priests, whose labour and diligence should all be bestowed in reading of Scripture, and preaching the same; bringing in for the same purpose the saying of the apostle, which willeth it in like manner.
"Moreover, it requireth that priests should give all their study to edify others in faith and virtuous living; whereof I do gather both by the saying of the prophet, that willeth us to be studious in the law of God day and night; and by the saying of the apostle, who would have Timothy to be occupied ever in reading and teaching; and by the report of your own law, which likewise saith, that a priest ought to bestow all his labour in reading and preaching: so that a priest, set thus truly to study, that he may establish himself in the faith of Christ's doctrine, intending afterwards to help others with true preaching of the same, or doing other like deeds of charity assigned in the law of God, shall not offend deadly, if, so spending his time, he omitteth to say matins, which is an ordinance of men.
"Nevertheless, concerning the huge multitude of such as be now made priests by negligent admission of bishops, and their own presumption, that labour to be made priests before they be any clerks, and, ere ever they know what is the very office of a priest, do not fear to take upon them, if they may attain thereto, to be curates, they reck not of how many, so they may get a good lump of money, never minding, after that, the study of Scripture, after they are come to Dominus vobiscum: for such I do think long matins to be needful, to restrain them from other enormities that they should else run into; of which you may be weary to see the experience thereof daily arising. Yea, and if such would be. content to admit it, I would every one matin were as long to them as five, except they could bestow their time better.
In the six and twentieth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that the heads or rulers, by necessity of salvation, are bound to give unto the people Holy Scripture in their mother language: I say that I think they are bound to see that the people may truly know Holy Scripture, and I do not know how that may be done so well, as by giving it to them truly translated in the mother tongue, that they may have it by them at all times, to pass the time godly, whensoever they have leisure thereto, like as they have in France under the French king's privilege, and also the privilege of the emperor; and so do I know that they have had it these fifty-four years in France at least, and it was translated at the request of a king called, I trow, Louis, as appeareth by the privilege put in the beginning of the book.
"In like manner have they it in Flanders, printed with the privilege of the emperor: in Almain also, and Italy, and I suppose through all the nations of Christendom. Likewise hath it been in England, as you . may find it in the English story called Polychronicon. There it is showed, how when the Saxons did inhabit the land the king at that time, who was a Saxon, did himself translate the Psalter into the language that then was generall used. Yea, I have seen a book at Crowland Abbey, which is kept there for a relic; the book is called St. Guthlake's Psalter; and I ween verily it is a copy of the same that the king did translate, for it is neither English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, nor Dutch, but somewhat sounding to our English; and, as I have perceived since the time I was last there, being at Antwerp, the Saxon tongue doth sound likewise after ours, and it is to ours partly agreeable. In the same story of Polychronicon is also showed, how that St. Bede did translate the Gospel of St. John into English, and the author of the same book promised that he would translate into English all the Bible; yea and perhaps he did so, but (I wot not how it cometh to pass) all such things be kept away; they may not come to light: for there are some walking privily in darkness, that will not have their doings known. It is no lie that is spoken in the Gospel of John, All that do naughtily, hate the light, and will not have their doings known. And therefore they keep down the light strongly; for that opened and generally known, all wrongful conveyance should anon be disclosed and reproved, yea, and all men should see anon, whether those that hold against unrighteousness, being there-for sometimes horribly infamed and slandered, named heretics and schismatics, were indeed as they be called, or no.
"Yea moreover, I did once see a book of the New Testament, which was not unwritten by my estimation this hundred years, and in my mind right well translated after the example of that which is read in the church in Latin. But he that showed it me said, he durst not be known to have it by him, for many had been punished aforetime for keeping of such, and were convicted therefore of heresy.
"Moreover I was at Paul's Cross, when the New Testament, imprinted of late beyond the sea, was first forefended; and truly my heart lamented greatly to hear a great man preaching against it, who showed forth certain things that he noted for hideous errors to be in it, that I, yea, and not only I, but likewise did many others, think verily to be none. But, (alack for pity!) malice cannot say well. God help us all, and amend it.
"So that to conclude, I think verily it were profitable and expedient, that the Holy Scriptures were delivered, by authority of the head-rulers, unto the people, truly translated in the vulgar tongue, in like manner as it is in all other countries. And whereas you add, whether they be bound by necessity of salvation to deliver it to the people: I will not so narrowly touch that point now; but I say, that they are bound by right and equity to cause it to be delivered unto the people in the vulgar tongue, for their edifying, and the consolation which the people, by God's grace, should gather thereof; which now it is like they want, and are destitute of.
"In the twenty-seventh article, where you do demand, whether it be lawful for the rulers, for some cause, upon their reasonable advisement, to ordain that the Scripture should not be delivered unto the people in the vulgar language: all men may here see, that whosoever devised these questions, thought not contrary (whatsoever they will yet say) but that it is good for the people to have the Scripture in the vulgar tongue, and that they thought that I, so saying, could not be well reproved; and therefore are laid out all these additions, as it were to snare and trap me in: Whether the heads be bound, and that by necessity of salvation, to deliver it to the people: and whether, for opportunity of time, they may ordain to restrain it for some cause, and by some reasonable advisement of them taken: But without cause you spread the net before the eyes of the birds or fowls. I show you plainly, that notwithstanding all these things, in mine opinion it was not well done to inhibit it, and worse, that the bishops have not since amended it, if so be they could, that the people might have it to use and occupy virtuously.
"And here I will add one reason: The Scripture is the spiritual food and sustenance of man's soul. This is showed to be true in many places of Scripture; like as other corporal meat is food of the body. Then if he be an unkind father, that keepeth bodily meat away the space of a week or a month from his children; it should seem that our bishops be no gentle pastors or fathers, that keep away the food of men's souls from them (specially when others do offer the same) both months, years, and ages; neither do I see any opportunity of time, or reasonable advisement, that should cause it to be withdrawn and taken away; but the contrary rather, for it is reason, convenient and needful for men, to eat their meat ever when they are right hungry; and blessed are they that hunger and thirst after the word of God, which teacheth to know him and to do his pleasure at all times; for that we do crave every day in our Pater-noster, saying, Give us, Lord, our heavenly bread.
"In the twenty-eighth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that consecrations, hallowings, and blessings used in the church are to be praised? I say that I know not of all, and therefore I will not dispraise them; neither can I therefore overmuch speak of them all, seeing I know them not: such as are the hallowing of bells, the hallowing of pilgrims when they should go to Rome, the hallowing of beads, and such-like. But those which I am advised of, and do remember, be in mine opinion good; such as is this: when the priest hath consecrated holy bread, he saith, 'Lord, bless this creature of bread, as thou didst bless the five loaves in the desert, that all persons tasting thereof may receive health,' &c.: which I would every man might say in English, when he should go to meat, I like it so well.
"Also this is a right good one, that is said over him that shall read the gospel: 'The Lord be in your heart, and in your mind and mouth, to pronounce and show forth his blessed gospel;' which is also spoken over a preacher taking benediction when he shall go into a pulpit. All such good things I like very well, and think them commendable, wishing therefore that all people might know what they mean, that they with rejoicing of heart might pray joyfully with us, and delight in all goodness; which should be, if they were uttered in English, according to the mind of St. Paul, where he wisheth, rather to speak five words in the church heartily with understanding, whereby others might have instruction, than ten thousand words in a tongue unknown: yea, to say truth, (and truth it is indeed that I shall say,) a good thing, the further and the more largely or apertly it is known, the further the virtue thereof spreadeth, and rooteth in men's hearts and remembrance. God send therefore the blind to see, and the ignorant to have knowledge of all good things!
"Thus I conclude, that consecrations, hallowings, and blessings used in the church (so far forth as I remember and know) be commendable. Of others I can give no sentence, wishing, even as I trust men shall once see it come to pass, that all good things may be sung and spoken in our vulgar tongue.
"In the twenty-ninth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that the pope may make laws and statutes to bind all Christian men to the observance of the same, under the pain of deadly sin, so that such laws and statutes be not contrary to the law of God: I say, that if that be true which is written in the Decrees, that is to wit, that laws be never confirmed, until they be approved by common manners of them that shall use them, then cannot the pope's laws bind all Christian men; for the Greeks and the Bohemians will (as you do know full well) never admit them, but do refuse them utterly, so that I do not find that his laws may bind all Christian men.
"Finally, I cannot see that he hath authority to make laws, binding men to the observance of them under pain of deadly sin, more than hath the king, or the emperor. And, to say sooth, I say, (as have said before,) I think verily that the church was more full of virtue before the decrees or decretals were made, (which is not very long ago, but in the time of Constantine, if that be true which is reported in the Decrees,) than it hath been since. God repair it, and restore it again to the ancient purity and perfection!
"In the thirtieth article, where you do ask, whether I believe that the pope and other prelates, and their deputies in spiritual things, have power to excommunicate priests and lay people, that are inobedient and sturdy, from entering into the church, and to suspend or let them from ministration of the sacraments of the same: I think that the pope and other prelates have power to excommunicate both priests and laymen, such as be rebellious against the ordinance of God, and disobedient to his law: for such are sundered from God, before the prelates do give sentence, by reason of their sin and contumacy, according as it is said in Isaiah by Almighty God: Your sins, quoth he, do make division betwixt you and me. And the prelates, by right judgment, should pronounce of sinners as they do find them, and that is to pronounce such to be excommunicated of God, and unworthy to minister any sacraments, or to be conversant with Christian folk, that will not amend. For thus biddeth Paul, If any amongst you, called a brother, shall be a whoremonger, a covetous person, or a worshipper of images or idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner, see that with such you eat no meat. Such ought to be put out of the church, and not be suffered to come within it.
"I am not certain that prelates have any such power: and though they had, I doubt whether charity would permit them to show it forth and execute it without singular discretion. For in churches ought the word of God to be declared and preached, through which the sturdy, coming thither and hearing it, might soon be smitten with compunction and repentance, and thereupon come to amendment. This confirmeth well a law made in the council of Carthage, which is this: 'A bishop ought to prohibit no person to come into the church, and to hear the word of God, whether he be Gentile, or Jew, or heretic, until the mass time of them that are called Catechumeni.'
"Moreover, where you speak of prelates' deputies, I think such be but little behovable to Christ's flock. It were necessary and right, that as the prelates themselves will have the revenues, tithes, and oblations of their benefices, they themselves should labour and teach diligently the word of God therefore, and not to shift the labour from one unto another till all be left (pity it is!) undone. Such doth St. John call thieves and murderers, although they make ever so goodly a worldly show outward, and bear a stout port.
"This I say, that the pope and other prelates have power to excommunicate rebels against God's ordinances, and to suspend them from receiving or ministering the sacrament: but I am not sure, that they have power to forefend them from out of churches, especially when God's word is there preached, unless the sinners be so sore desperate that they scorn the same. And I would that every prelate, receiving his living of benefices, should himself work in the same, especially in true preaching of Christ's doctrine, without winding his own neck out of the yoke, and charging therewith others, called deputies or vicars, curates, and such-like. For God would have every man to get his living by the sweat of his own face; that is to say, by his labour, according to his estate and calling. And like as every workman is worthy his meat, so contrariwise, they that labour not, unless they be let by impotency, are worthy to have no meat, and much less to take of those, to whom they do no service, fifty or forty pounds a year, for waiting after none other thing than the moon shining in the water. The canon law maketh clearly with the same. Look in the Decrees, and you shall find plainly as I say.
"In the thirty-first article, where you ask, whether faith only, without good works, may suffice unto a man fallen into sin after his baptism, for his salvation and justifying? I say, that it is the usage of Scripture to say, faith only doth justify, and work salvation, before a man do any other good works; and that is showed by many authorities, both of Scripture and, also of many holy fathers, in a treatise called Unio Dissidentium, which I would to Christ, as it is in French, and other languages, we had it truly translated into English. And truly I do think in this matter, (like as is here showed by many authorities of holy fathers,) that a man fallen into sin after baptism, shall be saved through faith, and have forgiveness by Christ's passion, although he doth no more good deeds thereafter: as when a man, having short life, lacketh leisure to exercise other deeds of mercy. Notwithstanding, true faith is of such virtue and nature, that when opportunity cometh, it cannot but work plenteously deeds of charity, which are a testimony and witness-bearer of man's true faith This declareth St. Augustine upon John; I trove it is where he expoundeth this text: If ye love me, keep my commandments: where, within a little after, he speaketh in this wise: 'Good works make not a just or a righteous man; but a man once justified, doeth good works.'
"In the thirty-second article, where you ask,whether a priest marrying a wife, and that without the dispensation of the pope, begetting also children of her without slander-giving, do sin deadly; I say, that he doth not so much offend as those which in Wales, (as I have heard say,) and also in many parts beyond the sea, or rather in all places, do give openly, for money, dispensations to priests to take concubines: neither doth he offend so much as the purchasers of such dispensations; for they, on every hand, do clearly commit fornication and adultery, utterly forbidden by God's law; and the priest, of whom speaketh your demand, offendeth but man's law, if he do that. For in the Decrees it is written; I ween it be in a gloss, and certainly I wot not whether it be in the text or no, I can lightly turn to it having a book: the sentence is thus: A priest doing fornication, ought to be punished more than one who hath married a wife. Finally, I think such a priest as before is named in your demand, sinneth not deadly.
"In the thirty-third article, where you ask, whether a Latin priest, after he hath taken the order of priesthood, being sore and oft troubled and stirred with prickings of lust or lechery, and therefore marrying a wife for a remedy of the same, do sin deadly: I say, that a Latin priest and a Greek priest are all one before God, if they follow both one rule of Christ, left to us in Holy Scripture; neither doth Christ put any such difference, but the one hath by that rule the same liberty as another, and no more nor less; for there is the same God in Greece that is here, and hath left one way for us to live after, both here and there. And, therefore, I cannot see by his law, but that a Latin priest may marry, as well as they do. And if the Greeks should not follow Christ's law in believing the same, and living thereafter, you would call them heretics. But that will not the pope have done. Wherefore, seeing they do let priests marry, affirming it may so be done by the law of God, and yet are not reputed heretics, why should other men, that say the same, be called heretics, or be therefore burned? Therefore, following the law of God, I make the same answer of a Latin priest, that I made before of all priests: that a priest, not having the gift of chastity, is bound to marry, for avoiding fornication.
"In the thirty-fourth article, where you ask, whether I ever prayed for John Wickliff, John Huss, and for Jerome of Prague, condemned of heresy in the council of Constance, or for any one of them, since they died, and whether I have openly or secretly done any deeds of charity for them, affirming them to be in bliss and saved: I say, that I never prayed for any of them, so far forth as I can remember: and though I had, it followeth not, that in so doing I should be a heretic. For you wot well, that there is a mighty great country, called Bohemia, which yet doth follow (as men say) that same doctrine, which John Huss and Jerome of Prague taught their ancestors, whom (as I trow) neither the pope nor you do account heretics and infidels.
"In the thirty-fifth article, where you ask, whether I have recounted and said them or any of them to be saints, and worshipped them as saints: I say that in such secret and hid things which I do not perfectly know, I follow the counsel of St. Paul, which biddeth that we should not judge over soon, but abide (unless the things which we should pass upon be the more evident) until the coming of the Lord, who shall illumine, and show forth clearly, things that now lie hid in darkness. Therefore hitherto have I neither judged with them, nor against them, but have resigned such sentence to the knowledge and determination of God, whose judgment I wot is infallible.
"And whereas you say, they were condemned of heresy in the council of Constance: if so the council did right, God shall allow it, I doubt not; and that shall suffice to have commendation of him: so that it is not need to ask of me whether the acts of the same are commendable or no; neither can I give any direct answer thereto; for I do not verily know them. And though I did, yet am not I verily persuaded that I, because the council hath condemned them, must therefore believe them to be damned. For a council, as I ween, may sometimes slip beside the right truth: but what that council did in condemning them, I cannot precisely say; God wotteth. Yea, and that one singular person may judge more rightly, than a great multitude assembled in a council, appeareth by God's law, and by the law of man. Experience hereof may you see by the council that is spoken of in the Gospel, where it is showed, that after our Saviour had restored Lazarus to life, the bishops and Pharisees then were gathered together in a council, saying, What shall we do? Truth it is that this man Jesus doth many miracles, and if we suffer him thus, all the world will believe him; whereupon the Romans will come, and put us out of Jerusalem, our dwelling-place, and destroy our nation. At which time Caiaphas did arise, showing forth his sentence, which the whole council did admit.
"In like wise is showed in the Acts, where, in a council of bishops and priests assembled to know what punishment should be done unto Christ's apostles, because they preached in the name of Christ, contrary to the precept of them, (for they before had commanded the apostles no more to speak in Christ's name,) there, among a shrewd multitude of them gathered together, did arise a certain man,called Gamaliel; (a pitiful thing verily, to see but one good man in such a great convocation or council of priests, that should he the lights of virtue to all the people;) which Gamaliel was a doctor of the law, and had in good reputation among the people: much like he was, as seemed to me, to Dr. Colet, sometime dean of Paul's in London, while he lived. I may come no nearer, to name some other of our time, lest I should be thought offensive. This Gamaliel did bid the apostles go aside for a while out of the council, or convocation-house; and so he spake unto the other priests or bishops in the council thus: You men of Israel, quoth he, take heed to yourselves what ye shall do unto these men the apostles: for afore this time hath risen one called Theudas, and afterwards another named Judas of Galilee, which have turned the people after them, and in conclusion they perished, and all they that followed after them vanished away. And now, quoth he, I say unto you, refrain from hurting these men the apostles, and let them alone, or suffer them. For if this enterprise and work that they have made be of men, undoubtedly it shall perish, and be fore-done: but if, quoth he, it be of God, you cannot foredo it. And this I tell you, said Gamaliel, lest you should be found to strive and fight against God.
"Unto this sentence of Gamaliel, did all the others of the convocation or parliament agree; and so they called in the apostles of Christ before them, causing them to be scourged, and charging them, no more afterwards to preach of Christ's name; and so did let them depart. This was undoubtedly done in the time of our Saviour and of his apostles, and caused to be written for our comfort and learning; for the Holy Ghost knew before, that like practice should come in the latter time of the world, which we are in. Whereby you may clearly see, that councils do not always discern with Christ, but sometimes they may do against him. And therefore said David, I did not sit with the assembly or council of vain doers, or liars, and I will not go in amongst them that work iniquity: for I have hated the convocation of them that are malicious or maligners, and amongst the wicked will not I sit: but I will wash my hands among innocents, &c. Also in another psalm he writeth thus; The Lord doth destroy or annihilate the counsels of the Gentiles; he reproveth the counsels of the people and of rulers. But the counsel or device of the Lord endureth ever; and the purpose of his mind abideth unto the world of worlds. For that purpose doth St. Peter, in the Acts of the Apostles, allege this verse out of the psalm, Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people imagine vain things, &c. Like unto this it is written, in Isaiah i. Also you may see in the councils of the Pharisees above showed, that one singular person may sometimes perceive a thing more than a generality or a multitude: for Gamaliel only did see better what was behoveable, than could all the others there congregated.
"Agreeable unto this we find in the Decrees, where it is written that the council of Nice, willing to correct or amend the life of men of the church, ordained laws, called canons or rules. And as they treated upon such ordinances, some thought it expedient to bring in a law that bishops, priests, deacons, and subdeacons, should not lie with their wives whom they had married before they were consecrated into the order. With that arose Paphnutius, a confessor of Christ, and gainsayed it, testifying that marriage was an honourable thing; saying also, that it is chastity for a man to lie with his own proper wife. And so he persuaded the council, that they should constitute no such law; affirming, that it was a sore matter that they were minded to do, which should be either to the priests, or else to their wives, an occasion of fornication: and this was Paphnutius's reason. The words of the canon proceed thus: 'This declared Paphnutius, he never being married, nor having experience of marriage; and the council commended his sentence, making no statute in this matter, but put it to every man's free-will and liberty, without any enforcement or necessity.' These words stand, as I have recited them unto you, written in the Decrees, albeit they are somewhat otherwise rehearsed in Historia Tripartita, as I have showed before in the fourth article. Upon this, that Paphnutius did thus resist and prevail against all the other council, doth the Gloss note in the same law, that one singular person may gainsay or speak against a universal generality, having a reasonable cause on his side. Suffrage also of the same have we in Abbot Panormitane, where he saith thus: 'I would,' quoth he, 'rather believe one lay person, bringing for him authority of Scripture, than a universal council, that ordaineth or defineth a thing without Scripture.'
"Finally, I say, that I never accounted them either saints or devils, but resigned the judgment thereof to God; neither have I in earnest reported them the one, or the other; neither have done unto them particular worship, so far forth as I can remember.
"In the thirty-sixth article, where you do ask, whether I believe, hold, and affirm that every general council, and the council of Constance also, do represent the universal congregation or church: I say, that what such councils do represent I cannot certainly tell, and therefore believe neither yea nor nay; neither can I therefore make any affirmation, pro or contra, with this demand or against it: and no marvel; for I know of no Scripture to certify me of the same, nor yet any sufficient reason. And methinketh this, (under correction I speak,) that councils might represent (albeit I know not whether they do or no) the universal church, not being yet the same as I wot well they neither are nor were. For the church I do take to be all those that God hath chosen or predestinated to be inheritors of eternal bliss and salvation, whether they be temporal or spiritual, king or subject, bishop or deacon, father or child, Grecian or Roman. And this church spreadeth through the universal world, where any do call for help truly upon the name of Christ; and there do they ever most grow and assemble commonly, where his blessed word is purely and openly preached and declared: for that is the relief of man's soul, whereunto all men, loving their soul's health, lust to resort and seek (as all things do naturally seek after that which should nourish and prolong their life); for in it is showed that righteousness, which whosoever doth thirst after, and is an hungered for, shall come into the kingdom of heaven. Of this the proverb in the Gospel (although it be applied to the judgment of God when he shall appear in the general doom) may well be verified, Wheresoever is a dead carrion, thither will soon be assembled eagles. That is to wit, wheresoever is declared, by the course of Scripture, the benefits and commodities granted to us by Christ's death, thither will men seek and fly, to know how they may enjoy and attain them; which I beseech him to grant us. Amen.
"In the thirty-seventh article, where you do ask, whether I believe that the same thing which the council of Constance, representing the universal church, hath approved, and doth approve, for the maintenance of faith and soul's health, is to be approved and holden of all Christian people; and that which the same council hath condemned, and doth condemn, to be contrary to faith and good manners, ought of the same Christian people to be believed and affirmed for a thing condemned: I say that whatsoever the same council or any other hath approved, being approbation or allowance worthy, is of all Christian people to be likewise approved, holden, and allowed. And again, whatsoever the same or any other hath condemned, being reproof and condemnation worthy, because it is hurtful to faith or good living, I say that the same ought of all Christian people to be condemned and reproved. But this surmounteth my knowledge, to discern in what wise their judgment passed; whether with right or unright; because I did never look upon their acts, neither do I greatly covet for to do wherefore I refer the determination to them that have better advised their doings, and thereby have some more skill in them than I.
"In the thirty-eighth you demand, whether the condemnations of John Wickliff, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, done upon their persons, books, and documents, by the holy general council of Constance, were duly and rightfully done, and so for such, of every catholic person, whether they are to be holden and surely to be affirmed: I answer, that it passeth my knowledge, and I cannot tell; thinking surely, that though I am ignorant of the same, so that I cannot discuss the thing determinately, yet my Christendom shall be therefore nevertheless; and that I and all Christian men may well suspend our sentence, being thereof ignorant, affirming neither the one nor the other, neither yea nor nay.
"In the thirty-ninth you ask, whether I believe, hold, and affirm, that John Wickliff of England, John Huss of Bohemia, and Jerome of Prague, were heretics, and for heretics to be named, and their books and doctrines to have been, and now be, perverse; for the which books, and pertinacity of their persons, they are condemned by the holy council of Constance for heretics: I say that I know not determinately whether they be heretics or no, nor whether their books be erroneous or no, nor whether they ought to be called heretics or no.
"In the fortieth article, where you ask whether I believe and affirm, that it is not lawful in any case to swear: I say, that I neither so do believe, nor affirm, nor ever did.
"In the forty-first, where you ask, whether I believe that it is lawful, at the commandment of a judge, to make an oath to say the truth, or any other oath in a case convenient, and that also for purgation of infamy: I answer, that I never said the contrary, but that I think and have thought it lawful to give an oath before a judge, to say the truth, if the judge so require, and that by request lawful and convenient. As when a thing is in controversy betwixt two persons, and thereupon they sue unto a judge for sentence; when the judge can none otherwise bolt out the truth, he may require an oath. As when the two women who contended before Solomon to avoid the crime of murder, which the one had committed in oppressing her child to death, and would have put the same upon the other, if Solomon could not by his wisdom otherwise have investigated the truth, he might, I suppose, for to come by the more certain information of the thing, have caused one of them, or both, seeing it expedient for him, to swear; wherein the woman had been bound to obey him; but judges had need to be spare in requiring of oaths; for in customable, or oft juries, creepeth in always, betwixt times, some perjury, as showeth Chrysostom in words semblable to these: and things precious, through oft haunt or occupying, lose their estimation; and so reverent oaths, unadvisedly required for every trifle, usually do cause men to regard little for making of them, yea, and I fear, to break them.
"Therefore in Almain, they have made of late (as I have heard say by credible persons, who have come from thence) many notable ordinances for the commonwealth within a while, and amongst others this is one: If a man be set for to enter plea against another in any town, the peers thereof before whom all actions are used to be debated, hearing such a plea entered, shall call the parties privately together, before they come into an open court. And the matter examined, they shall exhort them to let the plea cease without further process, showing them the great damage, both godly and worldly, coming of waging the law, and the great ease and commodity that is in agreement and concord.: which exhortation they use to show with so great gravity and fatherly love, (such wonders are wrought where the gospel hath free passage,) that very few will commence plea. And though any plea be commenced, through such sage admonition it falleth lightly to sequestration and arbitrement of neighbours, who do set the suitors at unity, ere the matter do come to discussion in open court.
"Notwithstanding, if some be so waywardly minded, (as in a multitude all are not one man's children, and therefore unlike of intent,) that they will needs proceed and follow the law, they shall be heard to speak their matters in open court, and taught how the matter is most like to succeed, and counselled with new exhortation to stop their process. If they will not be persuaded, and then the judges, seeing the matter so ambiguous that they cannot give perfect sentence therein, except, by virtue of an oath made by one of the parties, they be first better certified; then will they show the same before the suitors, declaring what a chargeful thing it is to give a solemn oath for love of winning some worldly profit: and how, unless such as shall make it be the better aware to eschew the same, they shall, beside an evil example given to a multitude, work themselves, haply, shame, or dishonesty.
"Upon this, they shall give respite until a certain day appointed; so that in the mean while the suitors may take deliberation thereof, what is best to be done. If after this they will not thus rest, at the day appointed shall they come forth into a common place, and the great bell of the city he caused to be rung, whereby the people shall be warned, what they are about to do: and the people assembled, the judges shall, in full chargeable and lamentable wise, charge the parties, under virtue of their oath, to make true relation of what shall be demanded. So that by reason of soberly and fatherly exhortations made by the judges or peers of the town, and persuasion of neighbours, and for avoiding of God's displeasure and shame of men, there is little suit in courts; and if at any time any be made, they be lightly stopped; so that jury and swearing be well excluded, and need not much to be required.
"This I have showed, because it pitieth me to hear and see the contrary used in some of our nation, and such also as name themselves spiritual men, and should be head ministers of the church; who, incontinent as any man cometh before them, anon they call for a book, and do move him to swear, without any longer respite; yea, and they will charge him by virtue of the contents in the Evangely, to make true relation of all that shall demand him, he not knowing what they will demand, neither whether it be lawful to show them the truth of their demands, or no: for such things there be that are not lawful to be showed. As if I were accused of fornication, and none could be found in me; or if they should require me to swear to bewray any other that I have known to offend in that vice, I suppose it were expedient to hold me still, and not to follow their will: for it should be contrary to charity, if I should so assent to bewray them that I need not, and to whom, perhaps, though I have known them to offend, yet, trusting to their amendment, I have promised before to keep their fault secret without any disclosing of the same. Yea, moreover, if such judges sometimes, not knowing by any due proof that such as have to do before them are culpable, will enforce them, by an oath, to detect themselves, in opening before them their hearts; in this so doing, I cannot see that men need to condescend to their requests. For it is in the law (but I wot not certainly the place) thus: 'No man is bound to bewray himself.' Also in another place of the law it is written, 'No man should suffer punishment of men for his thought.' To this agreeth the common proverb, that is thus 'Thoughts be free, and need to pay no toll.' So that, to conclude, I think it lawful, at the command-merit of a judge, to make an oath to say the truth, especially if a judge requireth an oath duly, and in lawful wise; or to make an oath in any other case convenient; and that also for purgation of infamy, when any infamy is lawfully laid against a man.
"In the forty-second, where you ask, whether a Christian person, despising the receipt of the sacraments of confirmation, extreme unction, or solemnizing of matrimony, doth sin deadly; I say the like of the receipt of them, as I have said before of the self-same things, and none otherwise.
"In the forty-third, where you ask, whether I believe that St. Peter was Christ's vicar, having power on earth to bind and loose: I say, that I do not perceive clearly what you mean by this term vicar; for Christ never called Peter nor any other so, in Scripture. If you mean thereby that, after the departing hence of Christ, when he was risen from death in his immortal body, and so hied into heaven, where he remaineth sitting upon the right hand of his Father, that he so being away from hence, St. Peter occupied his room: then, I say, it is not untrue that Peter, in a manner, (which I shall show hereunder,) was his vicar: and like as Peter was his vicar, even so were Paul and the other apostles, and the one no less than the others, if it be true that St. Cyprian doth write, which is also consenting to Scripture. He saith thus: that Christ spake unto Peter, saying; I say, quoth our Saviour, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock of stone shall I build my congregation, and the gates of hell shall not overcome it. To thee will I give the keys of heaven, and what things thou shalt bind upon earth, the same shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. And to him, after his resurrection, doth Christ say, Feed my sheep.
"And albeit that he gave equal power unto all his apostles after his resurrection, and saith, Like as my Father sent me, do I also send you. Take you the Holy Ghost. If you shall retain to any man his sins, they shall be retained. If you shall remit to any man his sins, to him they shall be remitted. Nevertheless, because he would declare unity, he ordained, by his authority, the original of the same unity beginning of one. The other apostles were the same that Peter was, endued with equal partaking both of honour, and authority or power; but the beginning cometh of one, that the congregation should be showed to be one. Those are the words of St. Cyprian, in a treatise that is called, De Simplicitate Prælatorum; wherein you may see that Christ made all the apostles of equal honour and like authority. Notwithstanding, because he would testify the unity of his church or congregation, he spake, as it were, only unto Peter, when he said, Feed my sheep; and, I shall give thee, Peter, the keys of heaven. But in so saying, though the words seem spoken to Peter only, yet they were spoken unto him, in that he sustained the general person of all the church, being, as it were, a common speaker for the same. So that in speaking to him, Christ spake unto all other the apostles, unto whom also he gave all the same authority that he gave unto Peter; as you may see both in these words of Cyprian, and also the same is clearly showed out of St. Augustine in divers places; but no where more plainly in a few words, than in a treatise called De Agone Christiano.
"To this accordeth well that which was written by Paul. Of those apostles, quoth Paul, which seemed to be of authority, I was not taught; (what they were in time past it skilleth me nothing; God regardeth not the exterior appearance of man;) nevertheless, they which appeared to be of price, showed me no learning, nor gave me any counsel. But contrary, when they had seen that the gospel of uncircumcision was committed unto me, like as the evangely of circumcision was unto Peter, (for He that was mighty in Peter concerning the apostleship toward the Jews, was mighty also in me toward the Gentiles,) therefore, when James, Peter, and John, which appeared to be as pillars, knew the grace given me, they gave unto me and Barnabas their right hands in sign of fellowship, to be their partners, so that we should exercise the office of apostles among the Gentiles, as they did among the Jews. Wherein you may clearly see, that Paul took no instruction of those who seemed to be in high authority, and that Peter, James, and John, who were noted principals, took Paul and Barnabas to be their mates and fellows; which they would not have done, as I suppose, if they had known that God had granted unto them a prerogative singular, to excel Paul, and to be his sovereign. But, according to the prerogative of God granted, they might have safely showed it, and enjoyed the same; like as they did rejoice in other benefits granted to them of God, to be ministers in his church for the edifying of the same; and as St. John calleth himself the disciple loved of his master Jesus, and testifieth, how that unto him, Christ, hanging upon the cross, did commit his blessed mother.
"Moreover, if these three apostles, James, Peter, and John, should by humility have left out to make mention of their prerogative, when they took Paul and Barnabas into their fellowship, yet it is to be thought that Paul, who never useth any inordinate arrogancy, writing the words above said for the magnifying of his own privilege and authority given him of God, would not have suppressed and passed over their primacy unspoken of, with whom he maketh here comparison: for then it might be thought he were envious, to pick away authority from others to himself unlawful; which cannot so be. Moreover he saith a little after the words before rehearsed, that he reproved St. Peter, even before his face. Whereupon St. Jerome, expounding the same Epistle, saith, (as I remember,) that Paul would not have been bold so to do, except he had known himself equal to Peter.
"In the words also of Paul above written this might be noted, as serving to my purpose, that Peter had no pre-eminence or primacy above the others, for James is named before him; which Paul would not have done, I think, knowing Peter to be James's superior. Therefore he, making no such variety in order, put James before, saying, And James, Peter, and John, that appeared the principals, quoth he, gave unto me, and to Barnabas, their right hands in sign of fellowship. Yet, notwithstanding, Paul loved good order, I suppose, as well as any that now are, who contend so sore for superior rooms and pre-eminency, claiming to be the apostles' successors. I would it were so much for the commonwealth of Christian people, as it is suspected that they do it for vain-glory and worldly lucre. According to this you shall find in Acts xi., where is showed that after Peter, by instinct of the Holy Ghost, had gone unto one of the Gentiles, called Cornelius, a petty captain, having the governance of a hundred men, teaching him the ways and doctrine of Christ, and baptizing him and others with him assembled, being, like as he before was, pagans; the apostles, and other Christian brethren that were in Jewry, hearing thereof, when Peter came to Jerusalem, they which held upon circumcision made none obeisance unto him, (albeit I think verily he had more holiness than ever had any pope,) as the emperor is fain to do to the pope at his coronation, falling down to kiss the pope's feet, or to hold the pope's stirrup while he mounteth upon his horse's back; according to the form of law written, I am not certain, whether in the Decrees, or else the Decretals, or in both rather, (for such ordinances are inviolable, and worthy to be principally recorded,) but they reasoned sore, and disputed both against St. Peter, and also his doings, saying, You have gone amongst them that you ought not have had to do with, nor to have meddled among them that are men unclean, because they are uncircumcised; yea, and what is more, you have eaten and drunk with them. Peter, mildly and coldly, made answer again, rehearsing all the manner of his doing in order, showing that he was so instructed to do, by mighty and clear revelations of God, and not by his own fantasy and pleasure. Which answer being heard, the others that before had made sore objections against him, (which were both of the apostles, and other Christian brethren,) were content, holding their peace without any more complaining, and gave glory therefore to God, saying, Then God hath granted also unto the Gentiles to take repentance, and so to come to eternal life.
Wherein you may see, that the other apostles were as bold with Peter, as before is showed of Paul, to dispute against him; neither were they therefore by Peter reproved of inobedience. He did not allege any pre-eminency or authority to rebuke them for their complaining: as one would say, Why should you that are my sheep control me, that am the head of the church and your pastor, or Christ's general vicar, having both jurisdiction temporal and spiritual? with such other like: but showed them it was the will of God that he had done, going to the Gentiles to tell them of eternal life, which God pleased to give to them, as well as to the Jews; in token whereof the Holy Ghost did sensibly come among them, and so were they baptized.
"Thus may you see, that if Peter were the vicar of Christ, even so likewise were Paul and all the other apostles. And I do not think contrary but that Peter, and all other of the apostles, were Christ's vicars, if you mean by this word 'vicar,' a deputy, or such like, for to preach his evangely, (which is an office of all others most sovereign,) to minister sacraments, and to do other such divine service in God's church. And thus were they worthy to be called (as the Scripture nameth them) Christ's true apostles, bishops, priests, legates, or any such like; which authority was given them by Christ after his resurrection, when he said unto them these words, Peace be amongst you. Like as my Father hath sent me, so do I send you. Take you the Holy Ghost: whose sins soever you shall forgive, are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. And the same authority did they receive, when Christ spake unto all the church, after the mind of St. Augustine and others, in Peter, saying, Peter, feed my sheep.
"In the forty-fourth article, where you ask, whether I believe, that the pope ordinately chosen for a time (his proper name being expressed) be the successor of Peter: I say, that it seemeth to me a thing of no great value, whether a man believe so or no; I cannot see that it should be numbered amongst the articles of our faith: notwithstanding I will show my rude thought in it, which is this:
"The pope may succeed in St. Peter's stead or office, and do the same, duly and diligently feeding Christ's flock, and showing virtuous example of living to the same: and, so doing, he may and ought to be thought and named a true successor of St. Peter. And thus is your Lordship St. Peter's successor, performing the conditions aforesaid, with other like properties requisite to your order and duty; yea, and as many others as do truly their duty, and duly the office of a bishop: and otherwise may not the pope be called the successor of Peter, because he is entered into St. Peter's office, not regarding to do what is requisite for the same, nor following the trace of virtue; but the contrary. And then he is wrongfully named, if at any time such be, which is not impossible. For what should men call those Peter's successors, that play the pageants, and follow with the conditions of Caiaphas, Simon Magus, or Judas? Such verily, if any be, cannot rightly claim to be Peter's successors, no more than the night may claim to be successor of the day; for Peter was never so minded, nor taught them so. Yea, they ought rather to be called Peter's adversaries, forasmuch as they do not his will which is showed by his own acts and writing, but work against the same. Of such may be said, 'They are not all saints' children that occupy the room of saints, but they are their children that exercise their works.' Yea, of such may be said that which is written of St. Jerome: 'All bishops,' quoth he, 'are not bishops. Mark you well Peter, but mark also Judas: behold Stephen, but behold Nicholas. Ecclesiastical dignity maketh not a Christian man. Cornelius the centurion, being yet a pagan, was made clean through the benefit of the Holy Ghost: contrariwise, Daniel, being a child, condemneth priests, or ancient men.' 'It is no easy thing,' saith he, 'to stand in the room of Peter and Paul, and to keep the seat of them now reigning with Christ: for unsavoury salt is nought worth else, but to be thrown out of the doors, and trodden down of hogs.' This saith St. Jerome. Whereunto agreeth well St. Augustine: 'Every one,' quoth he, 'that saith unto you, Pax vobis, ought not to be heard, or to be believed as a dove. Crows be fed of dead carrion; and so is not a dove, but she liveth by the fruits of the earth: her living is pure, innocent, and hurtless. Whereby you may see, that ill bishops are no bishops, and that they that follow not saints in virtuous living, are not the successors of saints, but unsavoury salt; that is, neither of the church, nor shall come into heaven, to reign there with Peter and Paul, but be thrown out with great contempt: for God knoweth a dove from a crow, and an innocent liver from a devourer of carrion; but such as declare and show good deeds, as the saints did, be their children and successors, and shall with them reign in heaven.
"So that, to conclude, I say, that the pope, ordinately chosen, is the successor of St. Peter, following St. Peter's godly living. And else, except he study to do diligently, that he may be so called worthily, it shall be but a vain name: for rather may he else be reputed an image of a pope, or of a bishop, according as such be called of the prophet, O idol shepherds!
"In the five and fortieth article, where you ask, whether ever I have promised at any time by my oath, or made any confederacy or league with any person or persons, that I would alway hold and defend certain conclusions or articles seeming to me and to my complices right and consonant unto the faith; and will that I should certify you of the course and form of the said opinions and conclusions by row, and of the names and surnames of them that were to me adherent, and promised to be adherent in this behalf: I say, that I do not remember that ever I made pact or confederacy with any person or persons, nor made any promise by oath, that I would always hold and defend any conclusions or articles, seeming to me and others right and consonant to the faith, unless it hath chanced me to say in this form: That I would never, with the aid of God, forsake, nor decline from, the truth, neither for fear, nor yet for love of man or men.'
"Thus I have, perhaps, said in some time, or some place, because I have indeed so intended, and do intend, God's grace assisting me. But I cannot yet tell you, whether I have so said or no, or to what persons, or at what time, either in what place; neither do I reckon me to have any complices, but such as do love me, and I them, for God, and in God: and those do I reckon all them that are or will be truly Christian, in calling upon Christ's name. And concerning opinions or conclusions, I can tell you of none others than I have showed; the sum whereof I reckon and think utterly to be concluded in two propositions, which both are written in the New Testament.
"The first is in the Acts of Apostles, in this wise: Christ is the head corner-stone of our faith, whereupon it should be set and grounded, neither is salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given amongst men, wherein we may be saved. This is one of the propositions, wherein is engrossed or comprehended my saying, which St. Paul doth thus otherwise explicate; Christ is made of God our wisdom, our righteousness, our pureness, our satisfaction, and our redemption. And in another place: There is none other foundation that any man may put, except that which is already put, that is, Christ Jesus.
"The other proposition is written by the prophet Isaiah, and recited by our Saviour, in the Evangely of Matthew, in these words: Men do worship me in vain, teaching doctrines and precepts, or laws human. Of this writeth Paul very largely in divers places, and every where well nigh: amongst others, in the second chapter of Colossians, where he warneth the Colossians to take heed that no man do spoil them, or to steal them away by philosophy or vain deception, according to the constitutions of men, and ordinances of this world.
"Thus I do certify you of all the opinions and conclusions which I intend or have intended to sustain, being contained in the two propositions above written. Others hold I none, but such as are mentioned in the Creed, both that which is sung at mass, and also in the other Creed that all people say every day.
"Finally, in that you require to know of the names and surnames, in order of them particularly, that be to me adherents, or that have promised me to be adherent in this part: I say, that I know of none particular that I remember, without I should note unto you a great multitude, which you may know and hear of, I suppose, through all regions and realms of Christendom, that do think in like wise as I have showed. I ween the multitude mounteth nigh unto the one half of Christendom; and more should do likewise, by a great sort, within a while, I doubt not, but that our ghostly enemy laboureth amain to have the knowledge of the truth suppressed, and letteth that it cannot come abroad to be seen. I say therefore again, I know of no particular adherents, nor of any that have so promised me to be. in these matters: and though I did, I would not (except I knew that charity so required, which I do not find yet hitherto) detect or bewray any one of them, for any man's pleasure: for I am bound to obey God above men: who be with us, and grant the truth to be known! Amen."
These answers of John Lambert to the five and forty articles above expressed, were directed and delivered to Dr. Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, as it appeareth, about A.D. 1532, at which time the said Lambert was in custody in the archbishop's house at Otford, being there destitute of all help and furniture of books, as by his own words is to be gathered. But, so the providence of God wrought for Lambert, that within short space after, A.D. 1533, the said Archbishop Warham died; whereby it seemeth that Lambert, for that time, was delivered. In this mean while Dr. Cranmer was sent over in embassage, with the earl of Wiltshire, Dr. Stokesley, Dr. Kern, Dr. Benet, and other learned men, to the bishop of Rome lying then at Bologna, to dispute the matter of the king's marriage openly, first in the court of Rome, then in the court of the emperor; where, after sundry promises, and appointments made, yet, when the time came, no man there appeared to dispute with them, in these two propositions: first, that no man, jure Divine, could or ought to marry his brother's wife: secondly, that the bishop of Rome by no means ought to dispense to the contrary. But of this more copiously we will treat, (the Lord's grace permitting,) in the sequel of our story, coming to Dr. Cranmer's life.
After the death of William Warham, succeeded in that see the said Dr. Cranmer. Lambert, in the mean season, being delivered, partly by the death of this archbishop, partly by the coming in of Queen Anne, returned unto London, and there exercised himself about the Stocks, in teaching children both in the Greek and Latin tongue. And forasmuch as priests, in those days, could not be permitted to have wives, he left his priesthood, and applied himself to the function of teaching, intending shortly after also to be free of the Grocers, and to be married. But God, who disposeth all men's purposes after the secret pleasure of his own will, did both intercept his marriage, and also his freedom, and married him to his Son Christ Jesus, (as now consequently followeth to be declared,) bringing him into the freedom of his spiritual kingdom, to reign with him.
And thus much, briefly, touching the first education and bringing up of John Lambert; hereafter it followeth more at large to discourse and declare the whole process and order of his doings and disputations, with the order and manner of his death and condemnation. This death and punishment of his happened in this year; being so much the more lamentable, in that it was first occasioned, and afterwards brought to pass, by no others than by such, whom, for the common society of the profession of the gospel, it had been more meet to have been authors of his safeguard, rather than the causers of his destruction. But this is the accustomed craft and malice of that ancient serpent, which intermeddleth himself in all congregations, envying all men's felicity and welfare, rejoicing in nothing but in the death and blood of innocents; seeking occasions of sedition, not only amongst the wicked, but the good also; stirring brethren oftentimes to contention amongst themselves; and that so craftily, that his policies can never be perceived until the mischief be done. I would to God that as this is a common complaint to all countries, so this our region of England, amongst others, were free from it, and not more infected herewith than the rest. Where now, in a manner, shall a man find more slaughter of the commons, subversion of the nobles, burning of good men, and most cruel contentions, which are never, in a manner, ended but with bloodshed? that mischievous disturber of human concord and quietness doth so incessantly rage!
But as I am here forced to speak against my will, so would to God that, even with my own contumely and hatred, I might engrave more meekness in the hearts of our men; which, notwithstanding, I doubt not but will shortly come to pass, by the most prosperous success of learning, which daily flourisheth more and more in England: and as it is to be hoped, foreign examples, and greater experience of things, will bring a more civility to this, which is already obtained by learning. But, because we will not pass our bounds too far, we will return again to the matter as touching John Lambert, intending to make declaration of his cause even from the first beginning, so far forth as we could attain unto the knowledge thereof.
So soon as the dark clouds of ignorance were driven away, and that the brightness of the gospel began to shine in England, there was at the same time, although not of the number of those who sustained the first assaults of the adversaries, the aforenamed John Lambert; who, partly for the cruelty of the time, and partly for the desire of learning, which he was always inclined unto, departed into foreign lands, being but a young man, where he understood that learning did most flourish. From thence, after a few years, he returned again, hoping that the time had been amended, for that, by the means of Queen Anne and Cromwell, and the abolishing of the pope, all things seemed more prosperous and quiet in England; and began to set his mind to the setting forth of the gospel.
Thus then, after that John Lambert now had continued in this vocation of teaching, with great commendation, and no less commodity to the youth, it happened this present year (1538) he was present at a sermon in St. Peter's church at London. He that preached was named Dr. Taylor, a man in those days not far disagreeing from the gospel, and who afterwards, in the time of King Edward, was made bishop of Lincoln, and, at last, in the time of Queen Mary, was deprived from the same; and so ended his life among the confessors of Jesus Christ.
When the sermon was done, Lambert, having gotten opportunity, went gently unto the preacher to talk with him, and uttered divers arguments wherein he desired to be satisfied. All the whole matter or controversy was concerning the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. Taylor, excusing himself at that present for other business, willed him to write his mind, and to come again at more leisure. Lambert was contented, and so departed; who, within a while after, when he had written his mind, came again unto him. The sum of his arguments were ten, which he comprehended in writing, proving the truth of the cause, partly by the Scriptures, and partly by good reason and by the doctors: the which arguments, although they came not all unto our hands, yet such men as were present at those affairs, reported them to be of great force and authority; and of a few, which were borne away in memory, the first reason was this, gathered upon Christ's words, where it is said in the Gospel, This cup is the new testament.
"And if," saith he, "these words do not change either the cup, or the wine, corporally into the new testament, by like reason it is not agreeable that the words spoken of the bread, should turn the bread corporally into the body of Christ."
Another reason was this: "That it is not agreeable to a natural body to be in two places or more at one time: wherefore it must follow of necessity, that either Christ had not a natural body, or else, truly, according to the common nature of a body, it cannot be present in two places at once, and much less in many, that is to say, in heaven and in earth; on the right hand of his Father, and in the sacrament.
"Moreover, a natural body cannot be without its form and shape, conditions and accidents; like as the accidents and conditions also cannot be without their subject or substance. Then, forasmuch as in the sacrament there is no quality, quantity, or condition of the body of Christ, and finally no appearance at all of flesh; who doth not plainly perceive, that there is no transubstantiated body of his in the sacrament? And, to reason by the contrary, all the proper conditions, signs, and accidents, whatsoever they be, pertaining to bread, we do see to be present in the sacrament, which cannot be there without the subject; therefore we must of necessity confess the bread to be there."
He added also many other allegations out of the doctors. But to be short, this Taylor the preacher, whom I spake of before, willing and desiring, as is supposed, of a good mind to satisfy Lambert in this matter, amongst others whom he took to counsel, he also conferred with Dr. Barnes; which Barnes, although he did otherwise favour the gospel, and was an earnest preacher, notwithstanding seemed not greatly to favour this cause; fearing, peradventure, that it would breed among the people some let or hinderance to the preaching of the gospel, (which was now in a good forwardness,) if such sacramentaries should be suffered. He persuaded Taylor, by and by, to put up the matter to Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. And hereby we may see it truly verified, which William Tyndale before, writing to John Frith, did note in Dr. Barnes, saying, "That Dr. Barnes will be hot against you," &c.
Upon these originals Lambert's quarrel first began, and was brought unto this point, that, through the sinister doings of many, it began of a private talk to be a public and common matter: for he was sent for by the archbishop, and brought into the open court, and forced to defend his cause openly. For the archbishop had not yet favoured the doctrine of the sacrament, whereof afterwards be was an earnest professor. In that disputation, it is said that Lambert did appeal from the bishops to the king's Majesty. But howsoever the matter was, the rumour of that disputation was, by and by, spread throughout the whole court.
I told you before, how that King Henry for two years past, showing the part of a hard husband, had beheaded Queen Anne his wife; which deed did not only greatly displease the German princes, (who for that only cause had broken off the league with him, A.D. 1536,) but also many other good men in England. Moreover, how that, within a while after, abbeys began to be subverted, and all their goods to be confiscated and given abroad: for which causes, but especially for the late abolishing of the bishop of Rome, the commons had conceived a very evil opinion of him, insomuch that the seditious sort rebelled against him.
At that time Stephen Gardiner, then bishop of Winchester, was in authority amongst the king's councillors, who, as he was of a cruel nature, so was he no less of a subtle and crafty wit, ever gaping for some occasion how to let and hinder the gospel: albeit a long time he was not so greatly esteemed with the king, that he could much prevail to achieve his conceived purpose. But, at length, upon this matter advising himself, he thought he had apt occasion and opportunity to accomplish his desire: neither did he foreslack the occasion ministered, but went straight unto the king, privily admonishing him, and with fair flattering words giving him most pernicious counsel, declaring how great hatred and suspicion was raised upon him in almost all places; first, for abolishing the bishop of Rome's authority; then for subversion of the monasteries; and also for that the divorce of Queen Katharine was yet fresh in men's minds; and now the time served, if he would take it, easily to remedy all these matters, and pacify the minds of them that were displeased and offended with him, if only in this matter of John Lambert he would manifest unto the people how stoutly he would resist heretics; and by this new rumour he would bring to pass, not only to extinguish all other former rumours, and as it were with one nail to drive out another, but also should discharge himself of all suspicion, in that he now began to be reported to be a favourer of new sects and opinions.
The king, giving ear more willingly than prudently or godlily to this siren, immediately received the wicked counsel of the bishop, and by and by sent out a general commission, commanding all the nobles and bishops of this realm to come with all speed to London, to assist the king against heretics and heresies, which commission the king himself would sit in judgment upon.
These preparations made, a day was set for Lambert, where a great assembly of the nobles was gathered from all parts of the realm, not without much wonder and expectation in this so strange a case. All the seats and places were full of men round about the scaffold.
By and by the godly servant of Christ, John Lambert, was brought from the prison with a guard of armed men, (even as a lamb to fight with many lions,) and placed right over against where the king's royal seat was, so that now they tarried but for the king's coming to that place.
At last the king himself did come as judge of that great controversy, with a great guard, clothed all in white, as covering, by that colour and dissembling, severity of all bloody judgment. On his right hand sat the bishops, and behind them the famous lawyers, clothed all in purple, according to the manner. On the left hand sat the peers of the realm, justices, and other nobles in their order; behind whom sat the gentlemen of the king's privy chamber. And this was the manner and form of the judgment, which, albeit it was terrible enough of itself to abash any innocent, yet the king's look, his cruel countenance, and his brows bent unto severity, did not a little augment this terror; plainly declaring a mind full of indignation far unworthy such a prince, especially in such a matter, and against so humble and obedient a subject.
When the king was set in his throne, he beheld Lambert with a stern countenance; and then, turning himself unto his councillors, he called forth Dr. Day, bishop of Chichester, commanding him to declare unto the people the causes of this present assembly and judgment. The whole effect of his oration tended in a manner to this point:
"That the king in this session would have all states, degrees, bishops, and all others to be admonished, of his will and pleasure, that no man should conceive any sinister opinion of him, that now, the authority and name of the bishop of Rome being utterly abolished, he would also extinguish all religion, or give liberty unto heretics to perturb and trouble the churches of England, without punishment, whereof he is the head. And moreover, that they should not think that they were assembled at that present, to make any disputation upon the heretical doctrine; but only for this purpose, that by the industry of him and other bishops, the heresies of this man here present, (meaning Lambert,) and the heresies of all such like, should be refuted or openly condemned in the presence of them all."
When he had made an end of his oration, the king, standing up upon his feet, leaning upon a cushion of white cloth of tissue, turning himself toward Lambert with his brows bent, as it were threatening some grievous thing to him, said these words: "Ho! good fellow; what is thy name?" Then the humble lamb of Christ, humbly kneeling down upon his knee, said, "My name is John Nicholson, although of many I be called Lambert." "What," said the king, "have you two names? I would not trust you, having two names, although you were my brother."
Lambert. "O most noble prince! your bishops forced me of necessity to change my name." And after divers prefaces and much talk had in this manner, the king commanded him to go unto the matter, and to declare his mind and opinion, what he thought as touching the sacrament of the altar.
Then Lambert, beginning to speak for himself, gave God thanks, who had so inclined the heart of the king, that he himself would not disdain to hear and understand the controversies of religion: for that it happeneth oftentimes, through the cruelty of the bishops, that many good and innocent men, in many places, are privily murdered and put to death, without the king's knowledge. But now, forasmuch as that high and eternal King of kings, in whose hands are the hearts of all princes, hath inspired and stirred up the king's mind, that he himself will be present to understand the causes of his subjects, specially whom God of his divine goodness hath so abundantly endued with so great gifts of judgment and knowledge, he doth not mistrust but that God will bring some great thing to pass through him, to the setting forth of the glory of his name.
Then the king, with an angry voice, interrupting his oration: "I came not hither," said he, "to hear mine own praises thus painted out in my presence; but briefly go to the matter, without any more circumstance." Thus he spake in Latin. But Lambert, being abashed at the king's angry words, contrary to all men's expectation, stayed a while, considering whither he might turn himself in these great straits and extremities. But the king, being hasty, with anger and vehemency said, "Why standest thou still? Answer as touching the sacrament of the altar, whether dost thou say, that it is the body of Christ, or wilt deny it?" And with that word the king lifted up his cap.
Lambert. "I answer, with St. Augustine, that it is the body of Christ, after a certain manner." The king. "Answer me neither out of St. Augustine, nor by the authority of any other; but tell me plainly, whether thou sayest it is the body of Christ, or no." These words the king spake again in Latin.
Lambert. "Then I deny it to be the body of Christ."
The king. "Mark well! for now thou shalt be condemned even by Christ's own words, Hoc est corpus meum."
Then he commanded Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, to refute his assertion; who, first making a short preface unto the hearers, began his disputation with Lambert very modestly, saying, "Brother Lambert! let this matter be handled between us indifferently, that if I do convince this your argument to be false by the Scriptures, you will willingly refuse the same; but if you shall prove it true by the manifest testimonies of the Scripture, I do promise, I will willingly embrace the same."
The argument was this, taken out of that place of the Acts of the Apostles, where Christ appeared unto St. Paul by the way: disputing out of that place, that is not disagreeable to the word of God, that the body of Christ may be in two places at once, which being in heaven was seen of St. Paul the same time upon earth; and if it may be in two places, why, by the like reason, may it not be in many places?
In this manner the archbishop began to refute the second argument of Lambert, which, as we have before said, was written and delivered by the said Lambert unto the.preacher; for the king had first disputed against his first reason.
Lambert answered unto this argument, saying, that the minor was not thereby proved, that Christ's body was dispersed in two places or more, but remained rather still in one place, as touching the manner of his body. For the Scripture doth not say that Christ, being upon earth, did speak unto Paul; but that suddenly a light from heaven did shine round about him, and he, falling to the ground, heard a voice, saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest, &c. Here this place doth nothing let, but that Christ, sitting in heaven, might speak unto Paul, and be heard upon earth: for they that were with Paul verily heard the voice, but did see no body.
The archbishop, on the contrary part, said, "Paul himself doth witness that Christ did appear unto him in the same vision."
But Lambert again said, that Christ did witness in the same place, that he would again appear unto him, and deliver him out of the hands of the Gentiles: notwithstanding, we read in no place that Christ did corporally appear unto him.
Thus when they had contended about the conversion of St. Paul, and Lambert so answering for himself that the king seemed greatly to be moved therewith, and the bishop himself that disputed to be entangled, and all the audience amazed, then the bishop of Winchester, who was appointed the sixth place of the disputation, fearing lest the argument would be taken out of his mouth, or rather being drowned with malice against the poor man, without the king's commandment, observing no order, before the archbishop had made an end, unshamefacedly kneeling down to take in hand the disputation, alleged a place out of 1 Corinthians ix., where St. Paul saith, Have I not seen Jesus? And again in the fifteenth chapter: He appeared unto Cephas, and afterwards unto James, then to all the apostles; but, last of all, he appeared unto me, as one born out of due time.
Hereunto Lambert answered, he did nothing doubt but that Christ was seen, and did appear; but he did deny that he was in two or in divers places, according to the manner of his body.
Then Winchester again, abusing the authority of Paul, repeated the place out of 2 Cor. v., And if so be we have known Christ after the flesh, now, henceforth, know we him so no more, &c.
Lambert answered, that this knowledge is not to be understood according to the sense of the body, and that it so appeared sufficiently by St. Paul, who; speaking of his own revelation, saith thus I know one, whether in the body, or without the body, God knoweth, who was rapt into the third heaven; and I know not whether in the body or without, God knoweth: whereby, even by the testimony of St. Paul, a man shall easily gather, that in this revelation he was taken up in spirit into the heavens, and did see those things; rather than that Christ came down corporally from heaven, to show them unto him: especially for that it was said by the angel, that even as he ascended into heaven, so he should come again. And St. Peter saith, whom it behoveth to dwell in the heavens. And moreover, appointing the measure of time, he addeth, even until all things be restored, &c. Here again, Lambert, being taunted and rebuked, could not be suffered to prosecute his purpose.
After the bishop of Winchester had done, Tonstal, bishop of Durham, took his course, and after a long preface, wherein he spake much of God's omnipotency, at the last he came to this point, saying, that if Christ could perform that which he spake, touching the converting of his body into bread, without doubt he would speak nothing but what he would perform.
Lambert answered, that there was no evident place of Scripture, wherein Christ doth at any time say, that he would change the bread into his body: and moreover that there is no necessity why he should do so. But this is a figurative speech, every where used in Scripture, when the name and appellation of the thing signified is attributed unto the sign; by which figure of speech, circumcision is called the covenant, the lamb the passover; besides six hundred such other. Now it remaineth to be marked, whether we shall judge all these, after the words pronounced, to be straightway changed into another nature.
Then again began they to rage afresh against Lambert, so that if he could not be overcome with arguments, he should be vanquished with rebukes and taunts. What should he do? He might well hold his peace like a lamb, but bite or bark again he could not.
Next orderly stepped forth the valiant champion Stokesley, bishop of London, who afterwards, lying at the point of death, rejoiced, boasting that in his lifetime he had burned fifty heretics. This man, amongst the residue, intending to fight for his belly, with a long protestation promised to prove, that it was not only a work of a divine miracle, but also that it did nothing abhor nature. "For it is nothing dissonant from nature, the substances of like things," saith he, "to be oftentimes changed one into another, so that nevertheless the accidents do remain; albeit the substance itself, and the matter subject, be changed." Then he declared it by the example of water boiling so long upon the fire, until all the substance thereof be evaporated. "Now," saith he, "it is the doctrine of the philosophers, that a substance cannot be changed but into a substance: wherefore we do affirm the substance of the water to pass into the substance of the air; notwithstanding the quality of the water, which is moistness, remaineth after the substance is changed; for the air is moist even as the water is."
When this argument was heard, the bishops greatly rejoiced, and suddenly their countenance changed, as it were assuring themselves of a certain triumph and victory by this philosophical transmutation of elements, and like as it had been of more force than Chrisippus's argument, which passed all manner of solution.
Lambert's answer was long looked for here of all men; who, as soon as he had obtained silence, and liberty to speak, first of all denied the bishop's assumpt, that the moisture of the water did remain after the substance was altered. "For albeit," saith he, "that we do grant, with the philosophers, the air to be naturally moist; notwithstanding ithath one proper and a diverse degree of moisture, and the water another. Wherefore, when the water is converted into the air, there remaineth moisture, as you do say; but that is not the moisture of water, but the proper and natural moisture of the air. Whereupon there is another doctrine amongst the philosophers, as a perpetual rule, that it can by no means be, that the qualities and accidents in natural things should remain in their own proper nature, without their proper subject."
Then again the king and the bishops raged against Lambert, insomuch that he was not only forced to silence, buf also might have been driven into a rage, if his ears had not been acquainted with such taunts before. After this the other bishops, every one in his order, as they were appointed, supplied their places of disputation.
There were appointed ten in number, for the performing of this tragedy; for his ten arguments, which (as before we have declared) were delivered unto Taylor the preacher. It were too long in this place to repeat the reasons and arguments of every bishop; and no less superfluous were it so to do, especially forasmuch as they were all but common reasons, and nothing forcible, and such as by the long use of disputation have been beaten, and had little in them either worthy the hearer or the reader.
Lambert, in the mean time, being compassed in with so many and great perplexities, vexed on the one side with checks and taunts, and pressed on the other side with the authority and threats of the personages; and partly being amazed with the majesty of the place in the presence of the king, and especially being wearied with long standing, which continued no less than five hours, from twelve of the clock, until five at night; being brought in despair, that he should nothing profit in this purpose, and seeing no hope at all in speaking, was at this point, that he chose rather to hold his peace. Hereby it came to pass, that those bishops which last of all disputed with him, spake what they listed without interruption, save only that Lambert now and then would allege somewhat out of St. Augustine for the defence of his cause; in which author he seemed to be very prompt and ready. But, for the most part, (as I said,) being overcome with weariness and other griefs, he held his peace; defending himself rather with silence, than with arguments, which, he saw, would nothing at all prevail.
At the last, when the day was passed, and that torches began to be lighted, the king, minding to brake up this pretended disputation, said unto Lambert in this wise: "What sagest thou now," said he, "after all these great labours which thou hast taken upon thee, and all the reasons and instructions of these learned men? art thou not yet satisfied? Wilt thou live or die? what sayest thou? thou hast yet free choice."
Lambert answered, "I yield and submit myself wholly unto the will of your Majesty." Then said the king, "Commit thyself unto the hands of God, and not unto mine."
Lambert. "I commend my soul unto the hands of God, but my body I wholly yield and submit unto your clemency." Then said the king, "If you do commit yourself onto my judgment, you must die, for I will not be a patron unto heretics." And, by and by, turning himself unto Cromwell, he said, "Cromwell! read the sentence of condemnation against him." This Cromwell was at that time the chief friend of the gospellers. And here it is much to be marvelled at, to see how unfortunately it came to pass in this matter, that through the pestiferous and crafty counsel of this one bishop of Winchester, Satan (which oftentimes doth raise up one brother to the destruction of another) did here perform the condemnation of this Lambert by no other ministers than gospellers themselves, Taylor, Barnes, Cranmer, and Cromwell; who, afterwards, in a manner, all suffered the like for the gospel's sake; of whom (God willing) we will speak more hereafter.
This, undoubtedly, was the malicious and crafty subtlety of the bishop of Winchester, which desired rather that the sentence might be read by Cromwell, than by any other; so that if he refused to do it, he should likewise have incurred the like danger. But, to be short, Cromwell, at the king's commandment, taking the schedule of condemnation in hand, read the same; wherein was contained the burning of heretics, which either spake or wrote any thing, or had any books by them, repugnant or disagreeing from their papistical church and tradition touching the sacrament of the altar: also a decree that the same should be set upon the church porches, and be read four times every year in every church throughout the realm, whereby the worshipping of the bread should be the more firmly fixed in the hearts of the people. And in this manner was the condemnation of John Lambert; wherein great pity it was, and much to be lamented, to see the king's Highness that day so to oppose, and set his power and strength so fiercely and vehemently, in assisting so many proud and furious adversaries against that one poor silly soul, to be devoured, whom his Majesty, with more honour, might rather have aided and supported, being so on every side oppressed and compassed about without help or refuge, among so many wolves and vultures; especially in such a cause, tending to no derogation to him nor his realm,but rather to the necessary reformation of sincere truth and doctrine decayed. For therein, especially, consisteth the honour of princes, to pity the miserable, to relieve the oppressed, to rescue the wrongs of the poor, and to tender and respect the weaker part, especially where right and truth stand with him: which if the king had done that day, it had been, in my mind, not so much for the comfort of that poor persecuted creature, as it would have redounded to the immortal renown of his princely estate to all posterity.
But how much more commendable for thee, O King Henry! (if that I may a little talk with thee, wheresoever thou art,) if thou hadst aided and holpen the poor little sheep, being in so great perils and dangers, requiring thy aid and help against so many vultures and leopards; and hadst granted him thy authority, to use the same for his safeguard, rather than unto the others, to abuse it unto slaughter. For they, even of themselves, were cruel enough, that thou shouldst not have needed to have given thy sword of authority unto those mad-men, whose force and violence if you had that day broken, believe me! you should have committed a worthy spectacle unto all men, and have done a most commendable and praiseworthy thing for yourself. For what hath that poor man Lambert offended against you, who never so much as once willed you evil, neither could resist against you!
But, peradventure, you thought him to be a heretic! At the least his reasons and allegations should have been moderately heard; which if they had seemed more sound, you should have given place unto the truth; if not, notwithstanding, he should have been convinced, either with the like or more strong arguments, and have been reclaimed by all manner of means again into the way; for an error is not overcome with violence, but with truth. Truly it was not meet that you should have refused him, who so obediently yielded and submitted himself unto you. But, O King Henry! I know you did not follow your own nature therein, but the pernicious counsels of the bishop of Winchester: notwithstanding, your wisdom should not have been ignorant of this, (which all other kings also ought to consider, who, at this present, through the wicked insinuations of the bishops and cardinals, do so rage against the simple servants of Christ,) that the time shall once come, when ye shall give account for all the offences which you have either committed by your own fault, or by the counsel or advice of others, what shall then happen, if these miserable heretics, which you here in this world do so afflict and torment, shall come with Christ, and his apostles and martyrs, to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, sitting upon their seats? if they, with like severity, shall execute their power upon you; what then, I say, shall become of you? With what face will ye behold their majesty, who here in this world have showed no countenances of pity upon them? With what heart will ye implore their mercy, who so unmercifully rejected and cast them off, when they fled unto your pity and mercy? Wherefore, if that the ears of princes be so prompt and ready to hearken unto the counsels of others, being void of counsel themselves, why do they not rather set apart these flatterers, backbiters, and greedy blood-suckers, and hearken unto the wholesome counsel of the prophetical king? who, crying out in the Psalms, sayeth, "Now, ye kings, understand, and ye which judge the earth, be wise and learned, serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice in him with trembling. Embrace his Son, lest that ye err and perish from the just way; for, when his wrath shall suddenly kindle, blessed are all they which trust inhim."
But thus was John Lambert, in this bloody session, by the king judged and condemned to death; whose judgment now remaineth with the Lord against that day, when before the tribunal seat of that great Judge both princes and subjects shall stand and appear, not to judge, but to be judged, according as they have done and deserved.
And thus much, hitherto, of Lambert's articles, answers, disputations, and his condemnation also. Now to proceed further to the story of his death.
Illustration: Lambert burned at the stake
Upon the day that was appointed for this holy martyr of God to suffer, he was brought out of the prison at eight o'clock in the morning unto the house of the Lord Cromwell, and so carried into his inward chamber, where, it is reported of many, that Cromwell desired of him forgiveness for what he had done. There, at the last, Lambert, being admonished that the hour of his death was at hand, was greatly comforted and cheered; and, being brought out of the chamber into the hall, he saluted the gentlemen, and sat down to breakfast with them, showing no manner of sadness or fear. When the breakfast was ended, he was carried straightway to the place of execution, where he should offer himself unto the Lord, a sacrifice of sweet savour, who is blessed in his saints, for ever and ever. Amen.
As touching the terrible manner and fashion of the burning of this blessed martyr, here is to be noted, that of all others which have been burned and offered up at Smithfield, there was yet none so cruelly and piteously handled as he. For, after that his legs were consumed and burned up to the stumps, and that the wretched tormentors and enemies of God had withdrawn the lire from him, so that but a small fire and coals were left under him, then two that stood on each side of him, with their halberts pitched him upon their pikes, as far as the chain would reach, after the manner and form that is described in the picture adjoined. Then he, lifting up such hands as he had, and his fingers' ends flaming with fire, cried unto the people in these words, "None but Christ, None but Christ;" and so, being let down again from their halberts, fell into the fire, and there ended his life.
Thus ye have heard by what craft and subtlety this good man was entrapped, and with what cruelty he was oppressed; so that now remaineth nothing but only his punishment and death, which the drunken rage of the bishops thought should not be long protracted.
During the time that he was in the archbishop's ward at Lambeth, which was a little before his disputation before the king, he wrote an excellent confession or defence of his cause to King Henry, wherein, first mollifying the king's mind and ears with a modest and sober preface, he declared how he had a double hope of solace laid up, the one in the most high and mighty Prince of princes, God; the other next unto God, in his Majesty, which should represent the office and ministry of that most high Prince in governing here upon earth. After that, proceeding in gentle words, he declared the cause which moved him to that which he had done. And, albeit he was not ignorant how odious this doctrine would be unto the people, yet, notwithstanding, because he was not also ignorant how desirous the king's mind was to search out the truth, he thought no time unmeet to perform his duty, especially forasmuch as he would not utter those things unto the ignorant multitude, for avoiding of offence; but only unto the prince himself, unto whom he might safely declare his mind.
After this preface made, he, entering into the book, confirmed his doctrine touching the sacrament by divers testimonies of the Scriptures by the which Scriptures he proved the body of Christ, whether it riseth, or ascendeth, or sitteth, or be conversant here, to be always in one place.
Then, gathering together the minds of the ancient doctors, he did prove and declare, by sufficient demonstration, the sacrament to be a mystical matter: albeit he so ruled himself, in such temperance and moderation, that he did not deny but that the holy sacrament was the very natural body of our Saviour, and the wine his natural blood: and that, moreover, his natural body and blood were in those mysteries; but after a certain manner, as all the ancient doctors in a manner do interpret it.
After this protestation thus made, he inferreth the sentence of his confession, as here followeth.
A treatise by John Lambert upon the sacrament; addressed to the king.
"Christ is so ascended bodily into heaven, and his holy manhood thither so assumpt, where it doth sit upon the right hand of the Father, (that is to say, is with the Father there remanent and resident in glory,) that, by the infallible promise of God, it shall not, or cannot, from thence return before the general doom, which shall be in the end of the world. And as he is no more corporally in the world, so can I not see how he can be corporally in the sacrament, or his holy supper. And yet, notwithstanding, do I acknowledge and confess, that the holy sacrament of Christ's body and blood is the very body and blood in a certain manner, which shall be showed hereafter, with your Grace's favour and permission, according to the words of our Saviour, instituting the same holy sacrament, and saying, This is my body, which is given for you: and again, This is my blood which is of the new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins.
"But now, for approving of the first part, that Christ is so bodily ascended into heaven, and his holy manhood so thither assumpt, &c., that by the infallible promise of God he shall not, or cannot, any more from thence bodily return before the general doom, I shall for this allege first the Scriptures, following the authorities of old holy doctors, with one consent testifying with me. Besides this, I need not to tell, that the same is no other thing but that we have taught to us in these three articles of our Creed, 'He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.' For Christ did ascend bodily; the Godhead, which is infinite, uncircumscriptible, replenishing both heaven and earth, being immutable, and unmovable, so that properly it can neither ascend nor descend."
Scriptures affirming the same.
"The Scriptures which I promised to allege for the confirmation of my said sentence, be these: He was lifted up into heaven in their sight, and a cloud received him from their eyes. And when they were looking up into heaven, they saw two men, &c. Here it is evidently showed, that Christ departed and ascended in a visible and circumscript body. That this departing was visible and in a visible body, these words do testify: And when they were looking up; Why stand you here looking up into heaven? and, Even as ye have seen him, &c. That, secondly, it was in body, I have before proved: and moreover the Deity is not seen, but is invisible, as appeareth thus; To God only invisible, &c.; and, He dwelleth in the inaccessible light which no man seeth, nor may see, &c.: therefore the manhood and natural body was assumpt, or did ascend. That, thirdly, it was in a circumscript body, appeareth manifestly in this: first, that his ascension and bodily departing caused them to look up and, secondly, that he was lifted up; that is to wit, from beneath or, from below: and, thirdly, that a cloud received him; whereas no cloud nor clouds can receive or embrace the Deity, &c.
"I am fain to leave out other evident arguments for the same purpose, lest I should be over prolix and tedious. It doth there also follow, in like form, how the angels made answer to the disciples, saying, Ye men of Galilee! why stand ye gazing into heaven? This Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come again, as you have seen him going up into heaven. Here we see again, that Jesus is assumpt, or taken away into heaven. And then it must be from out of the world, according to that we read, I went forth from the Father, and I came into the world: I leave the world again, and I go unto the Father. That is, not else but as he came from the Father of heaven into this world, in that he was incarnate and made man, (for his Godhead was never absent, either from heaven, or yet from earth,) even so should his manhood leave the world again, to go to heaven. Moreover, in that it is said, So shall he come, is plainly testified, that he is away, and now corporally absent.
"Finally, it is showed, further, after what manner he shall come again, by these words, Even as you have seen him going up into heaven; which is not else but as you did visibly see him ascend or go away to heaven, a cloud embracing him, and taking him from among you; even so shall you visibly see him to come again in the clouds, as we read in Matthew, You shall see the Son of man to come in the clouds of heaven: and again, And they shall see the Son of man. Such other texts have we full many, declaring my sentence to be catholic and true; of which I here shall briefly note some places, and pass over them, knowing that a little rehearsal is sufficient to your noble wisdom. The places be, Mark xvi.; Luke xxiv.; John xiii., xiv., xvi., and xvii.; Rom. viii.; Ephes. i. and ii.; and 2 Cor. vi.; Heb. viii., ix., x., and xii.; and 1 Thess. iv.; and 1 Pet. ii.; which all do testify, that Christ hath bodily forsaken the world, and, departing from it unto his Father, ascended into heaven; sitting still upon the right hand of the Father, above all dominion, power, and principality; where he is present Advocate and Intercessor before his Father; and that he shall so bodily come again, like as he was seen to depart from hence.
"Nothing can better, or more clearly, testify and declare, what is contained in the sacrament of Christ's holy body and blood, than do the words of Scripture, whereby it was instituted. Mark doth agree with Matthew, so that in a manner he reciteth his very words. And no marvel it is; for, as the doctors do say, The Gospel of Mark is a very epitome or abridgement of Matthew. I shall therefore write the relations of them, touching the institution of this sacrament, together. The relation or testimony of Matthew is this: As they were eating, Jesus took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake and gave to his disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And taking the cup, and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins. And I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day, that I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my Father.
"The testimony or relation of Mark, is this: And as they did eat, Jesus took the bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it, and he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily, I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, unto that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Luke, being the companion of Paul, as appeareth in the Acts, and 2 Tim. iv., doth so next agree with him in making relation of this supper, and holy institution of the sacrament. His relation or report is this: When he had taken bread, and given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise also, after supper, he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
"Paul's testimony doth follow next, agreeably to Luke, and it is thus: For I have received of the Lord that which I also have delivered to you; that our Lord Jesus Christ, in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you: this do ye in remembrance of me. After the same manner he also took the cup when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do, as oft as ye drink it, in the remembrance of me; for as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye shall show the Lord's death till he come. By these testimonies shall I declare my sentence to your Grace, which I conceive of the holy sacrament of Christ's blessed body and blood, and in all points of difficulty shall I annex the very interpretation of the old holy doctors and fathers, to show that I do not ground any thing upon myself. Thereafter shall I add certain arguments, which, I trust, shall clearly prove and justify my sentence to be true, catholic, and according both with God and his laws, and also with the mind of holy doctors.
"My sentence is this: That Christ ascended into heaven, and so hath forsaken the world, and thereshall abide, sitting on the right hand of his Father, without returning hither again, until the general doom; at which time he shall come from thence, to judge the dead and the living. This all do I believe done in his natural body, which he took of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother, in which he also suffered passion for our safety and redemption upon a cross; who died for us, and was buried: in which he also did rise again to life immortal. That Christ is thus ascended in his manhood and natural body, and so assumpt into heaven, we may soon prove; forasmuch as the Godhead of him is never out of heaven, but ever replenishing both heaven and earth, and all that is besides, being infinite and interminable or uncircumscriptible, so that it cannot properly either ascend or descend, being without all alterations, and immutable or unmovable. So that now his natural body, being assumpt from among us, and departed out of the world, the same can no more return from thence unto the end of the world. For as Peter witnesseth, Whom the heavens must contain, until the time that all things be restored which God had spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. And the same doth the article of our Creed teach us, which is, From thence [i. e. from heaven] shall he come, to judge the quick and the dead;' which time Paul calleth the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Seeing then this natural body of our Saviour, that was born of his mother Mary being a virgin, is all whole assumpt into heaven, and departed out of this world, and, so as saith St. Peter, He must remain in heaven until the end of the world, which he calleth, the time when all things must be restored; this, I say, seen and believed according to our Creed and the Scriptures, I cannot perceive how the natural body of him can, contrariwise, be in the world, and so in the sacrament. And yet, notwithstanding, is this true, that the holy sacrament is Christ's body and blood, as after shall be declared."
Doctors affirming the same.
"But first, for the establishing of my former purpose, that the natural body of our Saviour is so absent from this world, and ascended into heaven, that it can be here no more present until the general doom; I would beseech your Grace to consider the mind and sentence of the old holy doctors in this purpose or matter, how agreeably they testify with that which is before showed. Amongst whom we have first St. Augustine, writing thus to Dardanus.
"Therefore as concerning the Word, Christ is the Creator, all things are made by him. But as touching man, Christ is a creature made of the seed of David, according to the flesh, and ordained according to the similitude of men. Also, because man consisteth of two things, the soul and the flesh, in that he had a soul, he was pensive and sorrowful unto death; in that he had flesh, he suffered death. Neither when we call the Son of God Christ, we do separate his manhood; nor, when we call the same Christ the Son of man, we do separate his Godhead from him. In that he was man, he was conversant upon the earth (and not in heaven, where he now is) when he said, No man ascendeth up into heaven, but he which descended from heaven, the Son of man, which is in heaven: although in that respect that he was the Son of God, he was in heaven; and in that he was the Son of man, he was yet in the earth, and as yet was not ascended into heaven. Likewise, in that respect that he is the Son of God, he is the Lord of glory; and in that he is the Son of man, he was crucified: and yet, notwithstanding, the apostle saith, And if they had known the Lord of glory, they would never have crucified him. And by this, both the Son of man was in heaven; and the Son of God, in that he was man, was crucified upon earth. Therefore, as he might well be called the Lord of glory, being crucified, when as yet that suffering did only pertain unto the flesh; so it might well be said, This day thou shalt be with me in paradise, when, according to the humility of his manhood in his flesh, he lay in the grave; and according to his soul, he was in the bottom of hell that same day. According to his divine immutability, he never departed from paradise, because, by his Godhead, he is always every where. Doubt you not, therefore, that there is Christ Jesus according to his manhood, from whence he shall come. Remember it well, and keep faithfully thy Christian confession; for he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father: neither will he come from any other place than from thence, to judge the quick and the dead. And he shall come, as the voice of the angel beareth witness, as he was seen to go into heaven; that is to say, in the selfsame form and substance of flesh, whereunto, undoubtedly, he gave immortality, but he did not take away the nature thereof: according to this form of his flesh, he is not to be thought to be everywhere. And we must take heed that we do not affirm the Divinity of his manhood, that we thereby take away the truth of his body: for it is not a good consequent, that that thing which is in God should so be in every place as God. For the Scripture saith very truly of us, that in Him we live, move and have our being: and yet, notwithstanding, we are not in every place as he is; but that man is otherwise in God, because God is otherwise in man, by a certain proper and singular manner of being; for God and man is one person, and only Jesus Christ is both. In that he is God, he is in every place; but in that he is man, he is in heaven.'
"By these words of holy Augustine, your Grace may evidently see, that he testifieth and teacheth the blessed body or flesh of Christ to be no where else than in heaven. For to it being assumpt or ascended into heaven, God, as he saith, hath given immortality, but not taken away nature: so that by the nature of that holy flesh or body, it must occupy one place. Wherefore it followeth, 'According to this form,' that is to wit, of his flesh, 'Christ is not to be thought to be in every place;' for if Christ should, in his humanity, be every where diffused or spread abroad, so should his bodily nature, or natural body, be taken from him. And therefore he saith, 'For we must beware that we do not so affirm the divinity of man, that we do take away the humanity of his body.' But in that he is God, so is he every where, according to my words before written; and in that he is man, so is he in heaven. And, therefore, it is said, For God and man is one person, and only Jesus Christ is both. He, in that he is every where, is God: but in that he is man, he is in heaven.
"And yet do we read, agreeably to the same matter, more largely in the same epistle, by these words: 'Thou shalt not doubt Christ our Lord, the only Son of God, equal with his Father; and the same being the Son of man, whereby the Father is greater, is present every where as God, and is in one and the same temple of God as God, and also in some place of heaven, as concerning the true shape of body.'
"Thus find we clearly, that for the measure of his very body he must be in one place, and that in heaven, as concerning his manhood; and yet every where present in that he is the eternal Son of God, and equal to his Father. Like testimony doth he give in the thirtieth treatise that he maketh upon the Evangely of John. These be his words there written: Until the world be at an end, the Lord is above, but here is the truth of the Lord also; for the body of our Lord in which he rose must be in one place, but his truth is abroad in every place. The first parcel, that is, Until the world's end, is so put, that it may join to the sentence going before, or else to these words following, The Lord is above, &c.; and so should well accord to my sentence before showed, which is, The Lord is so bodily ascended, that in his natural body he cannot again return from heaven until the general doom.
"But howsoever the said clause or parcel be applied, it shall not greatly skill, for my sentence notwithstanding remaineth full stedfast; insomuch as the Scripture doth mention but two advents or comings of Christ, of which the first is performed in his blessed incarnation, and the second is the coming at the general doom. And furthermore, in this article of our Creed, 'From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead,' is not only showed wherefore he shall come again, but also when he shall come again; so that in the mean while, as the other article of our Creed witnesseth, 'He sitteth at the right hand of God his Father,' which is nothing else than to say, he remaineth in glory with the Father. Furthermore, even as I have before rehearsed the aforesaid authority of Augustine, so have I read in his Quinquagenes, upon a psalm, of which I cannot now precisely note or name the number. And the same words doth he also write in the epistle to St. Jerome; so that we may know he had good liking in it, that he so commonly doth use it as his usual proverb, or by-word.
"In the same is also testified, that his blessed body can be but in one place, so that it being now, according to the Scripture and article of our belief or Creed, in heaven, it cannot be in earth; and much less can it be in so innumerable places of the earth, as we may perceive that the sacrament is. Thus, although the body of our Saviour must be in one place, as he writeth agreeably to the saying of Peter, Whom the heavens must receive until the time of the restitution of all things; yet, as the words following make mention, But his verity is scattered every where. This verity of Christ, or of his body, I do take to be what he in other places doth call the virtue of the sacrament. As in the twenty-fifth treatise upon John we find thus written: 'The sacrament is one thing, and the virtue of the sacrament is another thing.' And again, 'If any man eat of him, he dieth not; but he meaneth of him that doth appertain to the virtue of the sacrament, and not of him that pertaineth to the visible sacrament.' And to declare what is the virtue of the sacrament, 'which I count to be the truth of the Lord or of his body,' he saith, 'He who eateth inwardly in spirit, not outwardly; he that eateth in heart, and not he who cheweth with teeth.'
"So that finally, this 'truth of the Lord or his body,' which is dispersed every where abroad, is the spiritual profit, fruit, and comfort, that is opened to be received every where of all men, by faith in the verity of the Lord, that is to wit, in the very and true promise or testament made to us in the Lord's body that was crucified and suffered death for us, and rose again, ascending immortal into heaven, where he sitteth, that is, abideth, on the right hand of his Father, from thence not to return until thegeneral doom or judgment. This bodily absence of our Saviour is likewise clearly showed in the fiftieth treatise that he maketh upon John, where he doth expound this text, Ye have the poor always with you, but ye shall not always have me with you, to my purpose, that thereby I count and hold mine opinion to be rather catholic, than theirs that hold the contrary. Finally, the same doth he confirm in his sermons of the second and third Feries of Easter; and in so many places besides, as here cannot be recited, the number of them is so passing great.
"With him consenteth full plainly Fulgentius, in his second book to Thrasimundus, writing in this wise: "'One and the same man, being local in that he is man, who is God Almighty of the Father. One and the same, according to human substance, being absent from heaven when he was in the earth, and leaving the earth when he ascended up into heaven; but, according to his Divine and almighty substance, neither departing from heaven when he descended from heaven, neither leaving the earth when he ascended into heaven. The which may well be known by the undoubtful saying of our Lord himself; which, that he might the better show his humanity occupying a place, said unto his disciples, I ascend up unto my Father and your Father, unto my God and your God. Also when he had said of Lazarus, Lazarus is dead, he adjoined, saying, And I am glad for your sakes, that you may believe, because I was not there. But, showing the greatness of his Divinity, he said to his Disciples, Behold, I am with you unto the end of the world. For how did he ascend into heaven, but because he is local and true man? and how is he present to his faithful, but because he is Almighty and true God?' &c.
"In this manner doth Fulgentius proceed forth, speaking much full agreeably to my sentence, which is now over-long here to write. But what can be said more plainly in so few words making for me?
"First he saith, that Christ being a man, is, as concerning his manhood, local, that is to say, contained in one place. And to express that more clearly, he addeth to it, saying, 'He is one and the same, according to his human substance; absent from heaven when he was in earth, and leaving the earth when he ascended into heaven;' whereas he hath a contrary antithesis for the godly nature, to show forth the first point the more effectually. The antithesis is thus: 'But according to his Divine and incomparable substance, neither leaving heaven when he descended from heaven, neither forsaking the earth when he ascended into heaven.' Whereby that is also confirmed which I said: Christ did descend and ascend, as touching his humanity, but not in his Deity, which is immutable and unmovable; as we may perceive by that he here doth call it 'almighty substance.' Furthermore, to show that Christ (as touching his human and natural body) is local, and in one place, he allegeth, and that right justly, two texts of Scripture: the first is, I ascend to my Father, &c.; and the second is of Lazarus, I am glad for your sakes, &c.
"Finally, he maketh this demand: 'But how did he ascend into heaven, but because he is a local and very man?' whereby we may see, that by this sentence Christ could not ascend, except he had been local, that is, contained in one place, and so very man. And that is according to St. Augustine, writing as is above showed: 'And he shall so come (as the angel witnesseth) even as you have seen him go up into heaven; that is to say, in the same form and substance of his flesh. According to this form he is not spread abroad in every place: for we must beware that we do not so esteem his Divinity, that we thereby do take away the verity of his body. So that they both do testify, and that very plainly, that Christ could not have ascended, except he had been local, that is to wit, contained in one place, and very man; and that if he were not local, he could not be a man. Wherefore St. Augustine saith further, to Dardanus, 'Take away locality, or occupying of place from bodies, and they shall be no where: and because they shall be no where, they shall have no being at all.'
"We, therefore, coveting to find Christ or his natural body, should seek for him in heaven, where his natural manhood is sitting on the right hand of his Father. So willeth us St. Ambrose, in the tenth book which he writeth upon Luke, speaking of Christ's humanity assumpt, in this wise: 'Therefore we ought not to seek thee upon the earth, nor in the earth, neither according to the flesh, if we will find thee: for now, according to the flesh, we do not know Christ. Furthermore, Stephen did not seek thee upon the earth, when that he did see thee standing on the right hand of God the Father: but Mary, which sought thee upon the earth, could not touch thee. Stephen touched thee, because he sought thee in heaven: Stephen amongst the Jews saw thee being absent,' &c.
"Thus we must seek for the natural body of Christ, not upon the earth, but in heaven, if we will not be deceived. And that doth he more largely show in the same treatise, speaking thus of the verity of Christ's body: 'How could it come to pass that the body could not rest in the sepulchre, in which the tokens of the wounds and scars did appear, which the Lord himself did offer to be touched (in which doing he did not only establish the faith, but also augmented devotion)? Because he would rather carry up into heaven the wounds received for us, and would not put them away, that he might present to God the Father the price of our liberty: such a one the Father doth place at his right hand, embracing the triumph and victory of our salvation,' &c.
"Gregory also, in a homily of Pentecost, saith agreeably to the others, in these words: 'When was it that he did not tarry with them, which, ascending up into heaven, promiseth, saying, Behold, I am here with you continually until the end of the world? But the Word Incarnate tarrieth, and also goeth away. It departeth in body, and tarrieth in Divinity. And therefore he saith, that he tarried with them: even he which was ever present with them by his invisible power, and now departed by his corporal vision.' In like wise doth he testify in the homily of Easter-day.
"With these doth Bede accord in a homily of Easter, in which he declareth this text, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and also in a homily of the Vigil of Pentecost. And who can otherwise say or think, knowing the Scripture and our belief, but that the natural body of Christ is so assumpt into heaven all whole, that it must there abide without returning, until the general judgment? Notwithstanding, seeing this is the chief point whereupon I seek to establish my sentence in this matter of the holy sacrament, that Christ's holy and natural body is so assumpt into heaven, that there it must remain all whole without returning until the general doom, I will yet, with the permission of your Grace, add one or two arguments deduced out of the Scriptures, to declare further my sentence to be faithful and catholic."
Arguments out of Scripture.
"First, as Christ was enclosed, and so borne about, in the womb of his mother, being a virgin undefiled, and afterwards was born into this world, and put in a manger, and so he, growing in age, did abide in divers places, but in one after another, some time in Galilee, some time in Samaria, some time in Jewry, some time beyond and some time on this side of Jordan, and consequently he was crucified at Jerusalem, there being enclosed and buried in a grave, from whence he did arise, so that the angels testified of him, He is risen, and is not here; and as at the time appointed, after his resurrection, he was assumpt, or lifted up into heaven from the top of the mount of Olivet, in the sight of his disciples, a cloud compassing him about; even so shall he come from the same celestial place corporally, as they did see him to depart out of the one place corporally, according to the testimony of the angels. So that in this we may undoubtedly find that Christ, as touching his manhood, cannot be corporally in many and divers places at once; and so to be corporally in his natural body in heaven, and also in the earth; and that it is, moreover, in so many parts of the world, as men have affirmed.
"Neither doth the Scripture require that we should spoil Christ of the property of man's nature, which is, to be in one place, whom the same Scripture doth perpetually witness and teach to be man, and so to confound the condition of his bodily nature with the nature divine. Paul doth teach, that Christ, in his manhood, was made in all points like unto his brethren, sin excepted: how then can his body be in more places at once, unlike unto the natural property of the bodies of us his brethren? But here do some witty philosophers, yea, rather sophisters than divines, bring in, to the annulling of Christ's humanity, a similitude of man's soul, which, being one, is yet so all whole in all our whole body, that it is said to be all whole in every part of the body. But such should remember, that it is no convenient similitude which is made of things different and diverse in nature, such as be the soul and body of man, to prove them to have like properties. This is as if they would prove Christ's body to be of one nature and property with his soul, and that things naturally corporal were not most diverse from creatures naturally spiritual.
"Furthermore, if so it might be, that the body or flesh of Christ were merely spiritual, and full like unto the substance of angels, yet it could not in this wise follow, that his body could be every where, or in divers places at once. Wherefore such subtleties are to be omitted, and the trade of Scripture should well like us, by which the old doctors do define that the body of Jesus, exalted or assumpt into heaven, must be local, circumscript, and in one place, notwithstanding that the verity, spiritual grace, and fruit that cometh of it, is diffused and spread abroad in all places, or every where. How could Christ corporally depart out of this world, and leave the earth, if he in the kinds of bread and wine be not only corporally contained and received, but also there reserved, kept, and enclosed? What other thing else do these words testify, But Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to his Father, &c.; and in like form, And it came to pass that as he blessed them, he departed from them, and was carried up into heaven? what do they signify, if Christ went not verily out of this world, his natural body being surely assumpt into heaven?
"They do therefore undoubtedly declare that Christ, being very God and very man, did verily depart out of this world in his natural body, his humanity being assumpt into heaven, where he remaineth sitting in glory with the Father: whereas yet his Deity did not leave the world, nor depart out from the earth. Paul doth say, that of two things he wist not which he might rather choose, that is to wit, to abide in the flesh, for preaching the gospel; or else to be dissolved from the flesh, seeing that to abide with Christ is much and far better. By which Paul doth manifestly prove, that they be not presently with Christ, who yet do abide mortal in the flesh. Yet they be with Christ in such wise as the Scripture doth say, that the believing be the temple of Christ; and as Paul doth say, Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? in which sense he also promised to be with us unto the end of the world. Christ, therefore, must be otherwise in that place in which the apostle desired to be with him, being dissolved, and departed from his body, than he doth abide either in the supper, or else in any other places of the churches. He therefore doth undoubtedly mean heaven, which is the paradise of perfect bliss and glory; where Christ, being a victor, triumpher, and conqueror over death, sin, and hell, and over all creatures, doth reign and remain corporally. Thus do I trust that your Grace doth see my sentence, so far forth, to be right catholic, Christian, and faithful; according to Holy Scripture, to holy fathers, and the articles of our Christian belief. Which sentence is this: Christ's natural body is so assumpt into heaven, where it sitteth or remaineth in glory of the Father, that it can no more come from thence, that is to wit, return from heaven, until the end of the world: and therefore cannot the same natural body naturally be here in the world, or in the sacrament, for then should it be departed or gone out of the world, and yet be still remaining in the world. It should then be both to come, and already come; which is a contradiction, and variant from the nature of his manhood."
The second part of this matter.
"Now my sentence in the second part of this matter is this (if so be your Grace shall please to know it, as I, your poor and unworthy, but full true subject, would with all submission and instance beseech you to know it): I grant the holy sacrament to be the very and natural body of our Saviour, and his very natural blood, and that the natural body and blood of our Saviour is in the sacrament after a certain wise, as after shall appear: for so do the words of the supper testify, Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you: and again, Drink ye all of this; this is my blood which is of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Of which words, seeing on them depend a great trial and proof of this matter, and that for the interpretation of them is, and hath been, all the controversy of this matter, I, therefore, shall show the interpretation that holy doctors have made of them, that, as to me seemeth, be full worthy of credit.
"First, We find in the second book of Tertullian, which he writeth against Marcion, 'Christ did not reprove the bread, because it doth represent his body.' This Marcion, against whom Tertullian doth thus write, did erroneously reprove all creatures as evil. Which thing Tertullian doth improve by the sacrament, saying as is above written, 'Christ did not reprove the bread, which representeth his body.' As who would say, If Christ had judged the bread evil, then would he not have left it for a sign or sacrament to represent his blessed body. Agreeably to the same doth he also say in the fourth book made against the said Marcion in these words 'Christ made the same bread, which he took and distributed to his disciples, his body, saying, This is my body; that is to say, the figure of my body. But it could not have been a figure, unless it were the body of a very true thing indeed. Furthermore, a void thing, which is a fantasy, could not receive a figure or a form.' This Marcion had an erroneous opinion, that Christ had no natural body, but a body fantastical; which error or heresy, this famous doctor Tertullian doth improve by the holy sacrament, saying, as before is written, that the sacrament is a figure of Christ's body: ergo, Christ had a very and true body; for a thing which is vain and fantastical can receive no figure. So that in both places we may clearly perceive his interpretation of these words, This is my body: which interpretation is not new, but authentic, or full ancient, like as is the writer. And this interpretation do I the rather allow, because none of the older doctors which followed him did ever reprove him there-for, but rather have followed it; as appeareth by holy Augustine. In the preface upon the third Psalm, doth the said Augustine highly commend the wonderful sufferance of Christ, which so long did suffer and forbear Judas, as if he had been a good and an honest man: whereas, notwithstanding, he did know his traitorous thoughts, when he received him to the feast or supper in which he did commend and deliver to his disciples the figure of his body and blood. The words of Augustine be these: 'In the history of the New Testament, the patience of our Lord was so great, and so to be marvelled at, because he suffered Judas so long as a good man, when be knew his thoughts when be received him to the feast in which he did commend and deliver the figure of his body and blood to his disciples.'
"The same holy doctor also, writing against Adamantius, saith thus: 'For the Lord did not doubt to say, This is my body, when he gave a sign of his body.' And for a further declaration, in the same chapter, he saith, 'For so the blood is the soul, as the rock was Christ.' Notwithstanding he doth not say, that the rock did signify Christ: but he doth say, that the rock was Christ.
"Expressly doth Augustine here call the sign of Christ's body, his body; plainly interpreting these words, This is my body, as both he and Tertullian did before.
"Moreover, he taketh these three sentences, This is my body, The soul is the blood, and Christ was the stone, to be of one phrase, and to be like speeches, or to be expounded after one fashion. And this text, The rock was Christ, doth he commonly thus expound, 'The rock did signify Christ;' as appeareth, lib. xviii. De Civitate Dei, cap. 48. Also in the Book of Questions upon Genesis, and in the Book of Questions upon Leviticus, handling John xviii.; and in his sermon of the Annunciation of our Lady.
"In like manner also St. Jerome expoundeth it in the small Scholies, written upon 1 Cor. i., and all other writers with one consent, so far as I can read; and so doth the text require it to be expounded. For Christ was not a natural stone, as all men may well perceive, and yet was he the very true stone figuratively, as Lyra saith, 'The thing which signifieth, is wont to be called by the name of the thing which it doth signify.' And so is the stone signifying Christ, called Christ, which thereby is signified. And as he doth approve this text, The stone was Christ, likewise doth he expound The blood is the soul, with which he doth knit this text, This is my body, to be figuratively expounded, as they be. According to this doth the holy doctor write, 'Unless a man do eat my flesh, he shall not see eternal life. They understood that very foolishly, and conceived the same carnally; and thought that our Lord would cut away lumps or pieces of his body, and give to them. And they said, This is a hard saying. But they were hard of belief, and not the saying hard. For if they had not been hard, but meek, they would have said to themselves, He speaketh not this without a cause, but because there is some hid sacrament or mystery therein. They should have aboden with him, easy of belief, and not hard; and then should they have learned of him that which other learned, that tarried after they were gone away.'
"In this may we see, that our Saviour willeth his precious flesh to be eaten. But for the manner of eating, there is, and hath been, much controversy. The Jews of Capernaum were offended with Christ when he said, he would have his flesh eaten, and, except a man should eat his flesh, he could not come to life eternal. They supposed grossly, and understood him (if a man might so plainly speak it) butcherly, that he would cut out lumps and pieces out of his body, as the butcher doth out of dead beasts, and so give it them to eat of, as Augustine doth here say. And upon this gross, or (as holy Augustine doth here call it) foolish and fleshly understanding, they were offended, and said to him, This a sore or hard saying. They did shoot forth their bolt and unwise saying over soon, and were offended before they had cause. They took that for hard and sore, which should have been passing pleasant and profitable to them, if they would have heard the thing declared throughly to the end.
"And even so now, that which in this matter may appear at the first blush a sore, strange, and intolerable sentence, forasmuch as we have not heard of it before, but the contrary hath of a long time been beaten into our heads, and persuaded to our minds, yet, by deliberation and indifferent hearing, and abiding a trial of that which at the first may appear sore and intolerable, shall (I trust) be found a sweet truth, to such specially as your Grace is, loving to hear and to know all truth. But the Capernaites were hard, as here saith Augustine, and not the word. For if they had not been hard, but soft and patient to hear, they would have said in themselves, Christ saith not this without a cause, and there is some hidden mystery therein: and so, by patient tarriance, they should have known the truth, that they could not attain to for perverse hastiness or haste, which is a great stop and let of true judgment. But the disciples tarried patiently to hear further, and so did they know this speech of Christ to be the words of life, that to the other, over readily departing from Christ, were words of death; for they took them literally and grossly: and the letter (as Paul saith) slayeth.
"But, to show what the disciples remaining with Christ did learn, St. Augustine doth consequently show, by the words of the Gospel, saying thus: 'But he instructed them, and said unto them, The spirit is that which giveth life, the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life. Understand you that which I have spoken, spiritually. You shall not eat this body which you see, neither shall you drink that same blood which they shall shed forth which shall crucify me. I have set forth to you a certain sacrament or mystery, which, being spiritually understood, shall give you life. And although it be requisite that this be celebrated visibly, yet it ought to be understood invisibly.' In this do we see, that both Christ and Augustine would have Christ's words to be understood spiritually, and not carnally; figuratively, and not literally: and therefore doth he say, You shall not eat this body which you see, neither shall you drink that same blood which they shall shed forth that shall crucify me. And what else is this, but that Christ would his body to be eaten, and his blood to be drunken? But he would not his body to be carnally eaten, which was materially seen of them to whom he spake; nor his material or natural blood to be carnally drunken, which his crucifiers should cause to issue from his natural body crucified, as saith Augustine: but he ordained and willed his body and blood to be spiritually eaten and drunken, in faith and belief that his body was crucified for us, and that his blood was shed for remission of our sins.
"This eating and drinking is nothing but such true faith and belief as is showed. Wherefore, as Christ saith, He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath life everlasting, even so doth he say, He that believeth in me hath life everlasting. And St. Augustine, agreeable to the same, treating upon John, doth say, Why dost thou prepare thy teeth and belly? believe, and thou hast eaten. I do know that Christ ordaineth his sacrament to be received and eaten, which is in a certain wise called his body, as after shall be more largely opened: but the same doth not feed the mind of men, except it be taken spiritually, and not corporally. It is good to establish the heart with grace, and not with meat.
"And St. Augustine, assenting to the same, doth say in a sermon that he maketh upon these words in the Gospel of St. Luke, Lord, teach us to pray: He said bread, but supersubstantial bread. This is not the bread which goeth into the body; but that bread which doth satisfy the substance of our soul.' Our souls therefore, into whom nothing corporal can corporally enter, do not carnally receive the body and blood of our Saviour, neither did he ordain his blessed body and blood so to be eaten and drunken; although our souls cannot live except they be spiritually fed with the blessed body and blood of him, spiritually eating and drinking them, in taking also at times convenient the blessed sacrament, which is truly called his body and blood. Not that it is so really, but as is showed by the interpretation both of Tertullian and Augustine, because it is a sign or figure of Christ's body and blood. And the signs or sacraments do commonly, as saith St. Augustine, both Ad Bonifacium, and in his work De Civitate Dei, take their denomination of the things by them represented and signified.
"But forasmuch as some will object that Augustine, in the words before rehearsed, doth not speak of eating the sacrament; for the text of the Scripture, upon the which he doth ground, is not spoken by eating the sacrament, which text is this, Unless a man may eat my flesh, &c.; I answer, that true it is, he began of spiritual eating, and thereto serveth the text recited. Nevertheless, he meaneth that Christ is not ordained to be eaten either without the sacrament or in the sacrament, but spiritually of the faithful; as more evidently doth appear by these words there following: 'I have commended unto you a sacrament, which, being understood of you spiritually, shall quicken you. Although it were necessary that the same should be celebrated visibly, yet notwithstanding it ought to be understood invisibly.'
"Here doth he show that he meaneth of eating, not without the sacrament only, but also in the sacrament, and therefore he doth not only say, 'I have commended unto you a certain sacrament,' &c.; but he addeth moreover, 'Although it is requisite the same to be celebrated visibly.' How, therefore, can the eating of Christ and the sacrament thereof be visibly celebrated, but in the Maundy, or in his supper; which is celebrated visibly in visible things of bread and wine, which cannot quicken or relieve us and our souls, except they be understood and so received spiritually?
"Furthermore, as concerning the exposition of these words of the supper, This is my body, &c., St. Augustine, writing to Boniface, saith thus:
"'We use oftentimes this manner of phrase, that when Easter doth approach, we name the day that cometh after, or the next day after that, the Passion of the Lord, whereas he, notwithstanding, had suffered before that many years; neither that passion was done but once for all. So truly do we say, upon the Lord's day, This day the Lord hath risen: whereas so many years are passed since he rose. Wherefore no man is so fond, that he will reprove us as liars for this manner of speaking, because we call these days according to the similitude of those in which these things were done: so that it is called the same day which is not the same, but which, by course of time of the year coming about, is like unto it; and also because that thing is said to be done that day, through the celebration of the sacrament, which was not done that day, but long before that time. Was not Christ once offered up in himself? and yet, notwithstanding, he is not only offered up in the sacrament in the solemn feasts of Easter, but every day mystically for the people. Neither doth he make a lie, which being demanded, answereth, that Christ is offered up: for, if the sacraments had not a certain similitude of those things whereof they are sacraments, then should they be no sacraments at all. By reason of this similitude or likeness, sacraments oftentimes do receive the names of the selfsame things whereof they are sacraments.
"'Therefore as, after a certain manner, the sacrament of Christ's body is the body of Christ, and the sacrament of Christ's blood is the blood of Christ; even likewise, the sacrament of faith is faith: for to believe, is none other thing than to have faith. And by this it is answered, that the very infants have faith, because of the sacrament of faith, and convert themselves unto God, because of the sacrament of conversion: for the very answer itself doth appertain unto the celebration of the sacrament. As the apostle speaketh of baptism; for he saith, We are buried by baptism into death. He did not say, We have signified a burying, but he plainly saith, We are buried. Therefore he named the sacrament of so weighty a matter or thing by no other name, but by the very name of the thing itself.'
"Nothing can be more plainly spoken, or more agreeable to the natural understanding of the texts of the supper, and to the exposition before showed of Tertullian and of himself. For seeing that Christ is bodily in heaven, and so absent from the earth, it is needful to know how the holy sacrament, which he doth call his body and blood, should be his body and blood.
"This holy doctor Augustine, therefore, doth this matter manifestly and sincerely declare by other like speeches; and first by common speeches, and secondly by speeches of Scripture. The first common speech is, 'We do,' saith he, 'use often to say, that when Easter doth approach or draw nigh, tomorrow, or the next day, is the Lord's passion: whereas he did suffer before many years past, and that passion was never but once done.'
"The second common speech is, 'And of that Sunday we say, that this day the Lord did rise from death; whereas so many years be yet past since the time he arose.' Wherefore to conclude, he saith, 'No man is so foolish, that he will reprove us for so saying, or to say that we have lied, because we do call these days after the similitude of those in which these things were done. So that it is called the same day, not for that it is the selfsame, but by revolution of time like unto it. And the resurrection is said to be done in the same day, through the celebrating of the sacrament of that which is not done that day, but long time before past.'
"The third speech, 'Was not Christ offered up once for all in his own person? yet is he nevertheless offered in the sacrament mystically for the people, not only every year at the feast of Easter, but also every day: neither doth he lie, which, when he is demanded, shall answer, that he is offered up or sacrificed. For if the sacraments had not a certain similitude of those things of which they be sacraments, then should they be no sacraments at all: by reason of which similitude they do for the most part receive the denomination or name of those things signified. And, therefore, after a certain manner, the sacrament of Christ's body is the body of Christ, and the sacrament of Christ's blood is the blood of Christ, and so also be the sacraments of faith called faith.' This doth he yet prove by another example of speech, which is this: It is none other thing to believe, than to have faith. And therefore, when answer is made that the infants have faith, who indeed have it not in full working, it is answered that such have faith for the sacrament of faith, and that they do convert themselves unto faith for the sacrament of conversion. For the very answer itself doth pertain to the celebration of the sacrament, &c. Thus doth it sufficiently appear, that as we use truly to call that Good Friday, or the day of Christ's passion, which is not indeed the day of Christ's passion, but only a memorial thereof once done for ever; and as we use to call the next Easter-day, the day of Christ's resurrection, not because that Christ in the same day shall arise, but only for a memorial of his resurrection once done for ever, and that of long time past; and as Christ, being offered up once for all in his own proper person, is yet said to be offered up not only every year at Easter, but also every day in the celebration of the sacrament, because his oblation, once for ever made, is thereby represented: even so, saith Augustine, is the sacrament of Christ's body the body of Christ, and the sacrament of Christ's blood the blood of Christ, in a certain wise or fashion. Not that the sacrament is his natural body or blood indeed, but that it is a memorial or representation thereof, as the days before showed be of his very and natural body crucified for us, and of his precious blood shed for the remission of our sins. And thus be the holy signs or sacraments truly called by the names of the very things in them signified. But why so? for they, saith Augustine, have a certain similitude of those things whereof they be signs or sacraments; for else they should be no sacraments at all: and therefore do they commonly, and for the most part, receive the denomination of the things whereof they be sacraments.
"So that we may manifestly perceive that he calleth not the sacrament of Christ's body and blood the very body and blood of Christ, but as he saidbefore. But yet he saith, in a certain manner or wise. Not that the sacrament absolutely and plainly is his natural body and blood; for this is a false argument of sophistry, which they call Secundum quid ad simpliciter; that is to say, that the sacrament of Christ's body is in a certain wise the body of Christ: ergo, it is also plainly and expressly the natural body of Christ. For such another reason might this be also: Christ is after a certain manner a lion, a lamb, and a door: ergo, Christ is a natural lion, and a lamb, or a material door. But the sacrament of Christ's body and blood is therefore called his body and blood, because it is thereof a memorial, sign, sacrament, token, and representation, spent once for our redemption: which thing is further expounded by another speech that he doth here consequently allege of baptism: Sicut de ipso baptismo apostolus dicit, &c. 'The apostle,' quoth Augustine, 'saith not, We have signified burying, but he saith utterly, We be buried with Christ. For else should all false Christians be buried with Christ from sin, who yet do live in all sin.' And therefore saith Augustine immediately thereupon, He called therefore the sacrament of so great a thing, by none other name than of the thing itself.'
"Thus, O most gracious and godly prince! do I confess and acknowledge, that the bread of the sacrament is truly Christ's body, and the wine to be truly his blood, according to the words of the institution of the same sacrament: but in a certain wise, that is to wit, figuratively, sacramentally, or significatively, according to the exposition of the doctors before recited, and hereafter following. And to this exposition of the old doctors am I enforced both by the articles of my creed, and also by the circumstances of the said Scripture, as after shall more largely appear. But by the same can I not find the natural body of our Saviour to be there naturally, but rather absent both from the sacrament, and from all the world, collocate and remaining in heaven, where he, by promise, must abide corporally, unto the end of the world.
"The same holy doctor, writing against one Faustus, saith in like manner, 'If we do prefer with great admiration the Maccabees, because they would not once touch the meats which Christian men now lawfully use to eat of, for that it was not lawful for that time, being then prophetical, that is, in the time of the Old Testament; how much rather now ought a Christian to be more ready to suffer all things for the baptism of Christ, and for the sacrament of thanksgiving, and for the sign of Christ, seeing that those of the Old Testament were the promises of the things to be complete and fulfilled, and these sacraments in the New Testament are the tokens of things complete and finished?' In this do I note, that according to the expositions before showed, he calleth the sacrament of baptism, and the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, otherwise properly named Eucharistia, signum Christi, that is, a sign of Christ; and that, in the singular number, forasmuch as they both do signify well-nigh one thing. In both them is testified the death of our Saviour. And moreover, he called them indicia rerum completarum; that is tò wit, the tokens or benefits that we shall receive by the belief of Christ for us crucified. And them he doth usually call both the sacraments, signum Christi, in the singular number. And as the same St. Augustine in his fiftieth treatise upon the Gospel of St. John teacheth, where he saith thus: 'If thou be good, if thou pertain to the body of Christ, (which this word Petrus doth signify,) then hast thou Christ both here present, and in time to come: here present through faith; here present by the figure and sign of Christ; here present by the sacrament of baptism; here present by the meat and drink of the altar,' &c."
More there was that John Lambert wrote to the king, but thus much only came to our hands.