194. THE VARIABLE CHANGES AND MUTATIONS OF RELIGION IN KING HENRY'S DAYS.O many which be yet alive, and can testify these things, it is not unknown, how variable the state of religion stood in these days; how hardly and with what difficulty it came forth; what chances and changes it suffered. Even as the king was ruled and gave ear sometimes to one, sometimes to another, so one while it went forward, at another season as much backward again, and sometimes clean altered and changed for a season, according as they could prevail, who were about the king. So long as Queen Anne lived, the gospel had indifferent success.
After that she, by sinister instigation of some about the king, was made away, the course of the gospel began again to decline, but that the Lord then stirred up the Lord Cromwell opportunely to help in that behalf; who, no doubt, did much avail, for the increase of God's true religion, and much more had brought to perfection, if the pestilent adversaries, maligning the prosperous glory of the gospel, by contrary practising had not craftily undermined him, and supplanted his virtuous proceedings. By means of which adversaries it came to pass, after the taking away of the said Cromwell, that the state of religion more and more decayed during all the residue of the reign of King Henry.
Among these adversaries above mentioned, the chief captain was Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester; who, with his confederates and adherents, disdaining at the state of the Lord Cromwell, and at the late marriage of the Lady Anne of Cleves (who, in the beginning of the year of our Lord 1540, was married to the king); as also grieved partly at the dissolution of the monasteries, and fearing the growing of the gospel, sought all occasions how to interrupt these happy beginnings, and to train the king to their own purpose. Now what occasion this wily Winchester found out to work upon, ye shall hear in order as followeth:
It happened the same time, that the Lord Cromwell, for the better establishing of sincere religion in this realm, devised a marriage for the king, to be concluded between him and the Lady Anne of Cleves, whose other sister was already married unto the duke of Saxony. By this marriage it was supposed that a perpetual league, amity, and alliance, should be nourished between this realm and the princes of Germany; and so thereby godly religion might be made more strong on both parts against the bishop of Rome and his tyrannical religion. But the devil, ever envying the prosperity of the gospel, laid a stumbling-block in that clear way for the king to stumble at. For, when the parents of the noble lady were communed withal for the furtherance of the said marriage, among others of her friends whose good will was required, the duke of Saxony, her brother-in-law, misliked the marriage, partly for that he would have had her bestowed upon some prince of Germany more nigh unto her sister, and partly for other causes which he thought reasonable. Whereupon it followed that the slackness of the duke in that behalf being espied, crafty Winchester, taking good hold-fast thereon, so alienated the king's mind from the amity that seemed now to begin and grow between the duke and the king, that by the occasion thereof he brought the king at length clean out of credit with that religion and doctrine, which the duke had then maintained many years before.
This wily Winchester, with his crafty fetches, partly upon this occasion aforesaid, and partly also by other pestilent persuasions creeping into the king's ears, ceased not to seek all means how to work his feat, and to overthrow religion, first bringing him in hatred with the German princes, then putting him in fear of the emperor, of the French king, of the pope, of the king of Scots, and other foreign powers to rise against him; but especially of civil tumults and commotion here within this realm, which above all things he most dreaded, by reason of innovation of religion, and dissolving of abbeys, and for abolishing of rites and other customs of the church, sticking so fast in the minds of the people, that it was to be feared lest their hearts were or would be shortly stirred up against him, unless some speedy remedy were to the contrary provided: declaring, moreover, what a dangerous matter in a commonwealth it is, to attempt new alterations of any thing, but especially of religion. Which being so, he exhorted the king, for his own safeguard, and public quiet and tranquillity of his realm, to see betimes how and by what policy these so manifold mischiefs might be prevented. Against which no other way or shift could be better devised, than if he would show himself sharp and severe against these new sectaries, Anabaptists and Sacramentaries (as they called them); and would also set forth such articles, confirming the ancient and catholic faith, as whereby he might recover again his credence with Christian princes, and whereby all the world besides might see and judge him to be a right and perfect catholic. By these, and such-like crafty suggestions, the king, being too much seduced and abused, began to withdraw his defence from the reformation of true religion, supposing thereby to procure to himself more safety both in his own realm, and also to avoid such dangers which otherwise might happen by other princes; especially seeing of late he had refused to come to the general council at Vincenza, being thereto invited both by the emperor, and other foreign potentates, as ye have heard before, And therefore, although he had rejected the pope out of this realm, yet because he would declare himself, nevertheless, to be a good catholic son of the mother church, and a withstander of new innovations and heresies, (as the blind opinion of the world then did esteem them,) first he stretched out his hand to the condemning and burning of Lambert; then, afterwards, he gave out those injunctions above prefixed; and now, further to increase this opinion with all men, in the year next following, which was A.D. 1540, through the device and practice of certain of the pope's factors about him, he summoned a solemn parliament to be holden at Westminster the 28th day of April, of all the states and burgesses of the realm; also a synod or convocation of all the archbishops, bishops, and other learned of the clergy of this realm, to be in like manner assembled.
The Act of the Six Articles.
In which parliament, synod, or convocation, certain articles, matters, and questions, touching religion, were decreed by certain prelates, to the number especially of six, commonly called The Six Articles, (or, The Whip with Six Strings,) to be had and received among the king's subjects, on pretence of unity. But what unity thereof followed, the groaning hearts of a great number, and also the cruel death of divers, both in the days of King Henry, and; of Queen Mary, can so well declare as I pray God never the like be felt hereafter.
The doctrine of these wicked articles in the bloody Act contained, although it be worthy of no memory amongst Christian men, but rather deserveth to be buried in perpetual oblivion, yet, for that the office of history compelleth us thereunto, for the more light of posterity to come, faithfully and truly to comprise things done in the church, as well one as another, this shall be: briefly to recapitulate the sum and effect of the aforesaid six articles, in order as they were given out, and hereunder do follow.
The first Article.
The first article in this present parliament accorded and agreed upon, was this: "That in the most blessed sacrament of the altar, by the strength and efficacy of Christ's mighty word, (it being spoken by the priest,) is present really, under the form of bread and wine, the natural body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary; and that after the consecration there remaineth no substance of bread or wine, or any other substance, but the substance of Christ, God and man."
The second Article.
"That the communion in both kinds is not necessary ad salutem, by the law of God, to all persons: and that it is to be believed, and not doubted of, but that in the flesh, under form of bread, is the very blood, and with the blood, under form of' wine, is the very flesh, as well apart, as they were both together."
The third Article.
"That priests, after the order of priesthood received as before, may not marry by the law of God."
The fourth Article.
"That vows of chastity or widowhood, by man or woman made to God advisedly, ought to be observed by the law of God; and that it exempteth them from other liberties of Christian people, which, without that, they might enjoy."
The fifth Article.
"That it is. meet and necessary, that private masses be continued and admitted in this English church and congregation; as whereby good Christian people, ordering themselves accordingly, do receive both godly and goodly consolations and benefits and it is agreeable also to God's law."
The sixth Article.
"That auricular confession is expedient and necessary to be retained and continued, used and frequented, in the church of God."
After these articles were thus concluded and consented upon, the prelates of the realm, craftily perceiving that such a foul and violent Act could not take place or prevail unless strait and bloody penalties were set upon them, they caused, through their accustomed practice, to be ordained and enacted by the king and the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in the said parliament, as followeth:
The penalty upon the first Article.
"That if any person or persons, within this realm of England, or any other the king's dominions, after the twelfth day of July next coming, by word, writing, imprinting, ciphering, or any otherwise, should publish, preach, teach, say, affirm, declare, dispute, argue, or hold any opinion, that in the blessed sacrament of the altar, under form of bread and wine, (after the consecration thereof,) there is not present really the natural body and blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, or that after the said consecration there remaineth any substance of bread or wine, or any other substance but the substance of Christ, God and man; or, after the time above said, publish, preach, teach, say, affirm, declare, dispute, argue, or hold opinion, that in the flesh, under the form of bread, is not the very blood of Christ, or that with the blood of Christ, under the form of wine, is not the very flesh of Christ, as well apart, as though they were both together; or by any of the means above said, or otherwise, preach, teach, declare, or affirm the said sacrament to be of other substance than is above said, or by any mean contemn, deprave, or despise the said blessed sacrament: that then, every such person so offending, their aiders, comforters, counsellors, consenters, and abettors therein, (being thereof convicted in form under written, by the authority above said,) should be deemed and adjudged heretics, and every such offence should be adjudged manifest heresy; and that every such offender and offenders should therefore have and suffer judgment, execution, pain and pains of death by way of burning, without any abjuration, benefit of the clergy, or sanctuary, to be therefore permitted, had, allowed, admitted, or suffered; and also should therefore forfeit and lose to the king's Highness, his heirs and successors, all his or their honours, manors, castles, lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services, possessions, and all other his or their hereditaments, goods and chattels, farms and freeholds, whatsoever they were, which any such offender or offenders should have, at the time of any such offence or offences, committed or done, or at any time after, as in any cases of high treason."
The penalties upon the last five Articles.
And as touching the other five articles following, the penalties devised for them were these: "That every such person or persons which do preach, teach, obstinately affirm, uphold, maintain, or defend, after the twelfth day of July the said year, any thing contrary to the same: or if any, being in orders, or after a vow advisedly made, did marry, or make marriage, or contract matrimony, in so doing should be adjudged as felons, and lose both life, and forfeit goods, as in case of felony, without any benefit of the clergy, or privilege of the church or of the sanctuary, &c.
"Item, That every such person or persons, which after the day aforesaid, by word, writing, printing, ciphering, or otherwise, did publish, declare, or hold opinion contrary to the five articles above expressed, being for any such offence duly convicted or attainted: for the first time, besides the forfeit of all his goods and chattels, and possessions whatsoever, should suffer imprisonment of his body at the king's pleasure: and for the second time, being accused, presented, and thereof convicted, should suffer as in case aforesaid of felony.
"Item, If any within order of priesthood, before the time of the said parliament, had married or contracted matrimony, or vowed widowhood, the said matrimony should stand utterly void and be dissolved.
"Item, That the same danger that belonged to priests marrying their wives, should also redound to the women married unto the priests.
"Furthermore, for the more effectual execution of the premises, it was enacted by the said parliament, that full authority of inquisition of all such heresies, felonies, and contempts, should be committed and directed down into every shire, to certain persons specially thereunto appointed; of which persons three at least, (provided always the archbishop, or bishop, or his chancellor, or his commissary, be one,) should sit four times at least in the year having full power to take information and accusation, by the depositions of any two lawful persons at the least, as well as by the oaths of twelve men, to examine and inquire of all and singular the heresies, felonies, and contempts above remembered; having also as ample power to make process against every person or persons indicted, presented, or accused before them; also to hear and determine the aforesaid heresies, felonies, contempts, and other offences, as well as if the matter had been presented before the justices of peace in their sessions. And also, that the said justices in their sessions, and every steward or under-steward, or his deputy, in their law-days, should have power, by the oaths of twelve lawful men, to inquire, likewise, of all and singular the heresies, felonies, contempts, and other offences, and to hear and determine the same, to all effects of this present Act, &c.
Provided withal, that no person or persons thereupon accused, indicted, or presented, should be admitted to challenge any that should be empannelled for the trial of any matter or cause, other than for malice or envy; which challenge should forthwith be tried in like manner, as in cases of felony, &c.
"Provided, moreover, that every person that should be named commissioner in this inquisition, should first take a corporal oath, the tenor of which oath here ensueth.
The oath of the commissioners.
"Ye shall swear, that ye, to your cunning, wit, and power, shall truly and indifferently execute the authority to you given by the king's commission, made for correction of heretics and other offenders mentioned in the same commission, without any favour, affection, corruption, dread, or malice, to be borne to any person or persons, as God you help, and all saints."
And thus much briefly collected out of the Act and originals, which more largely are to be seen in the statute, anno 31, reg. Hen. VIII., concerning the six articles, which otherwise, for the bloody cruelty thereof, are called The Whip with Six Strings, set forth after the death of Queen Anne, and of good John Lambert, devised by the cruelty of the bishops, but especially of the bishop of Winchester, and at length also subscribed by King Henry. But herein, as in many other parts more, the crafty policy of that bishop appeared, who, like a lurking serpent, most slily watching his time, if he had not taken the king coming out upon a sudden, there where it was, (I spare here to report as I heard,) it was thought and affirmed by certain which then were pertaining to the king, that Winchester had not obtained the matter so easily to be subscribed as he did.
These six articles above specified, although they contained manifest errors, heresies, and absurdities against all Scripture and learning, (as all men having any judgment in God's word may plainly understand,) yet such was the miserable adversity of that time, and the power of darkness, that the simple cause of truth and of religion was utterly left desolate, and forsaken of all friends. For every man seeing the king's mind so fully addicted, upon politic respects, to have these articles pass forward, few or none in all that parliament would appear, which either could perceive what was to be defended, or thirst defend what they understood to be true, save only Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, who then, being married, (as is supposed,) like a constant patron of God's cause, took upon him the earnest defence of the truth, oppressed in the parliament; three days together disputing against those six wicked articles; bringing forth such allegations and authorities, as might easily have helped the cause; who, in the said disputation, behaved himself with such humble modesty, and with such obedience in words towards his prince, protesting the cause not to be his, but the cause of Almighty God, that neither his enterprise was misliked of the king; and again, his reasons and allegations were so strong,that they could not well be refuted. Wherefore the king, (who ever bare special favour unto him,) well liking his zealous defence, only willed him to depart out of the parliament-house into the council-chamber, for a time, (for safeguard of his conscience,) till the Act should pass and be granted; which he, notwithstanding, with humble protestation, refused to do.
After the parliament was finished, and that matter concluded, the king, considering the constant zeal of the archbishop in defence of his cause, and partly also weighing the many authorities and reasons whereby he had substantially confirmed the same, sent the Lord Cromwell, (who, within few days after, was apprehended,) the two dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and all the lords of the parliament, to dine with him at Lambeth; where they signified unto him, that it was the king's pleasure, that they all should, in his Highness's behalf, cherish, comfort, and animate him, as one that for his travail in that parliament had declared himself both greatly learned, and also a man discreet and wise; and therefore they willed him not to be discouraged in any thing that was passed in that parliament contrary to his allegations.
He most humbly thanked, first, the king's Highness, for his singular good affection towards him, and them for all their pains; adding moreover, that he so hoped in God, that hereafter his allegations and authorities should take place to the glory of God, and commodity of the realm: which allegations and authorities of his, I wish were extant among us, to be seen and read. No doubt but they would stand, in time to come, in great good stead, for the overthrow of the wicked and pernicious articles aforesaid.
Allegations against the Six Articles.N the mean while, forasmuch as the said heretical articles are not so lightly to be passed over, whereby the rude and ignorant multitude hereafter may be deceived in the false and erroneous doctrine of them any more, as they have been in times pift, for lack of right instruction and experience of the ancient state and course of times in our fore-elders' days; I thought therefore, (the Lord thereunto assisting,) so much as antiquity of stories may help to the restoring again of truth and doctrine decayed, to annex hereunto some allegations out of ancient records, which may give some light to the convincing of these new-fangled articles and heresies above touched.
And first, as touching the article of transubstantiation, wherein this parliament doth enact that the sacrament of the altar is the very natural body of Christ, the selfsame which was born of the Virgin Mary; and that in such sort as there remaineth no substance of bread and wine, after the priest's consecration; but only the body and blood of Christ, under the outward forms of bread and wine First, here is to be noted, that this monstrous article of theirs; in that form of words as it standeth, was never obtruded, received, or holden either in the Greek church, or in the Latin church, universally for a catholic, that is, for a general, opinion or article of doctrine, before the time of the Lateran council at Rome, under Pope Innocent the Third, A.D. 1216.
And forasmuch as it hath been a common persuasion amongst the most sort of people, that this article, in the form of words as here it standeth, is, and hath been ever since Christ's time, a true catholic and general doctrine, commonly received and taught in the church, being approved by the Scriptures and doctors, and consent of all ages unto this present time; to the intent therefore that the contrary may appear, and the people may see how far they have herein been beguiled, we will here (Christ willing) make a little stay in our story, and examine this foresaid article by true antiquity and course of histories, to try whether it be a doctrine old or new.
Now therefore, for the better discussing of the matter, let us first orderly and distinctly advise the words of the article; the contents of which article consist in two parts or members. In the first whereof is noted to us a presence of a thing which there was not before: in the second, is noted a privation or absence of a thing which there before was present.
The presence is noted by these words of the article, where it is said that in the blessed sacrament, by the words pronounced, are present the natural body and blood of our Saviour under the forms of bread and wine: so that in these words, both the sacrament and the natural body are imported necessarily to be present. For else, how can the natural body of Christ be present in the sacrament under the forms of bread and wine, if the sacrament there were not present itself? or how can a thing be said to be in that which is not there? Wherefore by these words both the sacrament, and also the body, must necessarily have their being and presence, the one being in the other. And this presence both of the sacrament and of the body, being rightly taken, may right well stand together; the sacrament to the outward eyes and mouth of man, the body of Christ to the inward eyes of faith, and mouth of the soul. And therefore touching these prepositions in this article, "in" and"under," if question be asked, In what is the body of Christ? it may well be answered, In the sacrament, to the eyes of our faith; like as the outward sacrament is also present to the outward eyes of the body. Again, if the question be asked, Under what is the body of Christ? it may be well answered, Under the forms of bread and wine, so as the doctors did take the forms to mean the outward elements and natures of the sacrament, and not the accidents.
And thus, to the first part of the article, being well expounded, we do assent and confess the same to have been the true catholic opinion, approved by the ancient doctors and consent of all times, even from the first institution of this sacrament.
But as concerning the second member or part of the article, which taketh away all presence and substance of bread from the sacrament; to that we say, that first it standeth not with their own article: secondly, that it standeth not with the doctrine of Scripture: thirdly, that it standeth not with antiquity, but is merely a late invention.
And first, that it agreeth not with their own article, it is manifest. For whereas in the former part of their article they say, that the natural body of Christ is present in the blessed sacrament under the forms of bread and wine, how can the natural body of Christ be present in the sacrament, if there remain no sacrament? or how can any sacrament of the body remain, if there remain no substance of bread, which should make the sacrament? for how can the body of Christ be in that thing, which is not? or how can the sacrament of the body have any being, where the substance of bread hath no being? For first, that the body itself cannot be the sacrament of the body, is evident of itself.
Secondly, that the accidents of bread, without the substance of bread, cannot be any sacrament of Christ's body, certain it is, and demonstrable by this argument.
Argumentum à definitione.
"A sacrament is, that which beareth a similitude of that thing whereof it is a sacrament.
"Accidents bear no similitude of that thing which is there signified.
"Ergo, Accidents can in no wise be a sacrament."
Wherefore, upon this argument being thus concluded, upon the same this also must needs follow. "In the sacrament of the Lord's body, the thing that representeth must needs bear a similitude of the thing represented.
"The substance of bread in the sacrament, is only that which beareth the similitude of Christ's body. "Ergo, The substance of bread must needs be in the sacrament."
And therefore, by this demonstration it is apparent that these two parts in the article aforesaid are evil couched together, whereof the one must needs destroy the other. For if the first part of the article be true, that the natural body of Christ is present in the sacrament, under the forms of bread and wine, and seeing the sacrament wherein the body of Christ is present must needs be the substance of bread, and not the accidents only of bread, as is above proved, then the substance of bread cannot be evacuated from the sacrament; and so the second member of the article must needs be false.
Or, if the second part be true, that there is no substance of bread remaining, and seeing there is nothing else to make the sacrament of the natural body of Christ, but only the substance of bread, forasmuch as the accidents of bread can make no sacrament of Christ's body, as is above showed; then, taking away the substance of bread, the first part of the article must needs be false, which saith, that the natural body of Christ is present in the sacrament; forasmuch as the substance of bread being evacuated, there remaineth no sacrament, wherein the body of Christ should be present. Secondly, that it disagreeth from the whole order and course of the Scriptures, it is sufficiently explained before in the treatise of John Lambert upon the sacrament, as also in other sundry places in these volumes besides. Thirdly, that the said article of transubstantiation is no ancient or authentic doctrine in the church publicly received; but rather is a novelty lately invented, reaching not much above the age of three or four hundred years, or at most above the time of Lanfranc, A.D. 1070, it remains now to be proved.
Wherein first may be joined this issue: that this monstrous paradox of transubstantiation was never induced or received publicly in the church, before the time of the Lateran council, under Pope Innocent the Third, A.D. 1216; or at most before the time of Lanfranc, the Italian, archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1070.
In which time of Lanfranc, I deny not but that this question of transubstantiation began to come in controversy, and was reasoned upon amongst certain learned of the clergy. But that this article of transubstantiation was publicly determined or prescribed in the church, for a general law or catholic doctrine, of all men necessarily to be believed, before the time of the aforesaid Innocentthe Third, it may be doubted, and also, by histories of time, proved to be false.
And though our adversaries seem to allege out of the old doctors certain speeches and phrases, which they wrest and wring to their purposes; wherein they say, "that the bread is called, is believed, and is, the body of Christ;" "that of bread is made the body of Christ;" 'and "that the bread is changed, altered, or converted to the body of Christ, or is made to be his body; '" that the creatures be converted into the substance of the body and blood of Christ;" "that the bread and wine do pass into the Divine substance;" with such other like sentences; and bear themselves brag upon the same, as though this doctrine of transubstantiation stood upon the consent of the whole universal church, of all ages and times, of nations and people, and that the judgment of the church was never other than this: and yet, if the old doctors' sayings be well weighed, and the discourse of times by this history well examined, it will be found that this prodigious opinion of transubstantiation hath no such ground of consent and antiquity as they imagine; nor yet that any heresy or treason was made of denying transubstantiation before the time of Innocent the Third, or, at the furthest, of Lanfranc, as is aforesaid, about which time Satan, the old dragon, was prophesied by the Apocalypse, to be let loose, to seduce the world.
For probation whereof, first I will begin with the time of Tertullian and of Augustine; which both do teach the sacrament to be a figure, a sign, a memorial, and a representation of the Lord's body, and knew no such transubstantiation; and yet were no traitors nor heretics.
Neither was St. Ambrose any heretic or traitor, where he writeth these words, Ut sint quæ erant, nec in aliud convertantur, &c.; which words Lanfranc could not answer unto any other wise, but by denying them to be the words of Ambrose. Gelasius was bishop of Rome, and lived about five hundred years after Christ, and speaketh of a transmutation of the bread and wine into the Divine nature; but there, expounding himself, he declareth what he meaneth by that mutation, so that he expressly showeth the elements of bread and wine, notwithstanding, to remain still in their proper nature, with other words more, very plain to the same effect: unto the which words Contarenus in the assembly of Ratisbon could not well answer, but stood astonied.
Theodoret likewise, speaking of the visible symbols, hath these words: "After the sanctification they remain in their former substance, figure, and form."
Ireneus, where he saith that "the bread broken, and the cup mixed, after the vocation of God, cease to be common bread any more, but are the Eucharist of the body and blood of Christ:" and, explicating his words more plainly, addeth, moreover, that "the Eucharist consisteth in two things, one being earthly, which is bread and wine; the other heavenly, which is the body and blood of Christ," &c.: he declareth, in these words, both his own opinion plainly, and also teacheth us what was then the doctrine of his time.
Hesichius also, who was five hundred years after Christ, where he speaketh of the said mystery, to be both flesh and bread; declaring thereby two substances to be in the sacrament. By the which we have to understand that transubstantiation, in his age, was not crept into the church; and yet neither heresy, nor treason, therefore, was ever laid to his charge for so saying.
Emissene, comparing a man converted unto Christ by regeneration, unto the holy mysteries converted into the body and blood of our Lord, expresseth plainly, that outwardly nothing is changed, and that all the change is inward, &c.; wherein, no doubt, he spake against this article, and yet no man, in all that age, did accuse him therefore to be either heretic or traitor.
Here might be added the words of Fulgentius, "This cup is the new testament; that is, this cup which I deliver unto you, signifieth the new testament."
Bede also, who lived about the year 730, writing upon the twenty-first Psalm, hath these words: "Poor men, to wit, despisers of the world, shall eat indeed really, if it be referred unto the sacraments, and shall be filled eternally; because they shall understand in bread and in wine, being visibly set before them, a thing invisible, to wit, the true body and true blood of the Lord, which are true meat and true drink, wherewith not the belly is filled, but the mind is nourished."
And thus, in these words of Bede, likewise, is to be understood, that no transubstantiation as yet in his time was received in the church of England.
Long it were to stand upon all particulars. Briefly to conclude; the further the church hath been from these our latter days, the purer it was in all respects, and especially touching this barbarous article of transubstantiation. We will now draw more near our own time, coming to the age of Bertram and of Haymo, who were about the year of our Lord 810, under Charlemagne.
By whose writing it is evident, that the church was infected as yet with no such fantasy of transubstantiation, neither did any almost dream oftaking away the substance of bread from the sacrament. For although Haymo, Remigius, Rabanus, and others who lived in that age, do attribute to the sacrament, that honourable name and reverence (as we also do) of the Lord's body and blood, yet they exclude not from thence all substance of meal and bread, and leave the bare accidents, as our new-come Catholics do, as by the words of Haymo doth appear. Where he, following the words of Bede, showeth also the cause, why it is so called by the name of the Lord's body? "Because," saith he, "bread confirmeth the heart of man, therefore it is called conveniently the body of Christ; and because wine worketh blood in the flesh of man, therefore it is referred to the blood of Christ." What can be more effectually spoken to prove the substance of bread there to remain? for take away the substance of bread and wine, what is in the accidents left, that can confirm man's heart, or engender blood in the flesh? And therefore, seeing there must needs something remain, that must be referred to Christ's body and blood in that sacrament, it either must he the substance of bread and wine, or else it can be no sacrament. And furthermore, speaking of the visible things which are sanctified, how and whereunto they be converted, he saith, that by the Holy Ghost they passed to a sacrament of the Lord's body.
And likewise the same Haymo, in another place, speaking of the fruits of the earth, that is, of corn and wine, declareth how our Saviour, making of them "an apt mystery," converteth them to "a sacrament of his body and blood," &c.
Bertram likewise, as he lived in the same age, so in like sort he showed his opinion therein, to the like effect as Haymo did. For, as Haymo, writing in these words, declareth, "The sacrament is one thing, and the virtue of the sacrament is another thing; for the sacrament is received with the mouth, but with the virtue of the sacrament the inward man is satisfied."
So after like manner, Bertram, according to the same, thus writeth: "The bread, which by the ministry of the priest is made the body of Christ, doth import one thing outwardly to the senses of man, and another thing it speaketh to the minds of the faithful. Outwardly, it is bread, the same it was before; the same form is pretended, the colour appeareth, the same taste remaineth: but inwardly, there is another matter far more precious and more excellent, because it is heavenly, which is the body of Christ that is seen, not with the outward eyes of the flesh, but with the sight of a faithful mind," &c.
We will now proceed to the testimony of Rabanus Maurus, bishop of Mentz, and scholar some time to Alcuinus, in.garis, an Englishman; who, living also in the same age with Haymo and Bertram, (which was eight hundred years after Christ,) giveth the like testimony of this doctrine in his Book of Institutions; where he, asking the question why the Lord would give the mysteries of his body and blood then under such things as might be kept and reserved whole with great honour, thus he answereth again: "The Lord," saith he, "would rather that the sacraments of his body and blood should be received with the mouth of the faithful, and made to be their food, that by the visible action the invisible effect might be showed. For, like as material meat outwardly nourisheth and quickeneth the body, so also the word of God inwardly nourisheth and strengtheneth the soul: for man liveth not only by bread, but by every word proceeding from the mouth of God." And after followeth, "For this bread and drink signifieth the eternal society of the Head and of the members together." And again: "For the sacraments are one thing, and the virtue of the sacrament is another thing. The sacrament is received with the mouth; with the virtue of the sacrament the inward man is nourished; for the sacrament is turned to the nourishment of the body; but, by the virtue of the sacrament, the dignity of eternal life is gotten. Wherefore, like as the same is turned into us when we eat of it, so also are we turned into the body of Christ, when we live obediently and godly," &c.
Who seeth not by these words of this bishop, what form of doctrine was then in the church received concerning this article of the sacrament, such diverse from this our gross opinion of transubstantiation?
With the same Rabanus, also, accordeth another of the like standing and doctrine also, called Christianus Druthmarus, who, writing upon Matthew, "The wine," saith he, "doth cheer and cherish the blood, and, therefore, not inconveniently the blood of Christ is figured thereby: for whatsoever proceedeth from him to us, it cheereth us with true gladness, and increaseth all goodness unto us." And a little before, the said Druthmarus saith, "The Lord gave to his disciples the sacrament of his body to the remission of sins, and keeping of charity; that they, alway remembering his doing, might do that in figure, which he should do for them. This is my body, saith he; that is, in sacrament." This Druthmarus lived also in the time of Charlemagne, as witnesseth the abbot of Spanheim.
After Bertram was Johannes Scotus, or else, as some call him, Johannes Erigena; a man well accepted with Charles the Bald, and afterwards with Louis the Stammerer, about A.D. 880. He wrote a book, De Corpore et Sanguine Domini, so affirming therein, and teaching, as he knew that Bertram had taught a little before in France. This book the pope caused to be condemned in the synod of Vercelli. Of the life and conversation of this Johannes Scotus, and also of his death, read before.
In the year of our Lord 950, lived Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, in whose time, it appeareth, by the Romish Catholics' own confession, that many priests then affirmed, that the bread and wine, after consecration, did remain in their former substance, and that the said mysteries were only a figure of the body and blood of Christ, as we find it witnessed by Osberne himself, who did write the lives of Odo, Dunstan, and Elphege, at the bidding of Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, as reporteth Edmerus, Anselm's chaplain. The words of Osberne be these: "About this time," saith Osberne, writing in the days of Lanfranc, "certain of the clergy, being seduced by wicked error, did hold and maintain that bread and wine, which are set upon the altar, after the consecration do remain in their former substance, and are but only a figure of the body and blood of Christ," &c. And no doubt but at that time the common opinion of most of the clergy was so, that the sacrament was the body and blood of Christ, and that the substance of bread and wine, notwithstanding, were not transubstantiated, as the Romish Catholics do now teach. But this is the guise of these men, that in their writings and stories still they diminish the better number, whereby their faction may seem ever to be the bigger; and therefore to extenuate the common opinion then received in the church, he inferreth mention of certain of the clergy, &c.
And as he faileth in the number of these clergymen which then held against transubstantiation, so he upholdeth the same with as lying a miracle; which miracle he feigned to be wrought the same time, for the conversion of the said clergymen, by the blood dropping out of the host at mass, as Odo was breaking the host over the chalice. At the sight whereof, first, Odo himself (saith he) wept for joy; seeing his petition accomplished which he so earnestly prayed for.
Secondarily, "All those clergymen," saith he, "which before believed not this transubstantiation, by and by were converted, and blessed the archbishop that ever he was born; desiring him to pray again, that the blood might return to his former shape; and straight: it was done." And this was the miracle; which seemeth as true as that which William of Malmesbury writeth of the said Odo, how, by his prayers, he caused a sword to come flying from heaven into King Ethelstan's scabbard, when he had lost his own, as he would fight against Analanus; or else, as that miracle where the said Odo is said to cover and defend the church of Canterbury, that no drop of rain could touch it, so long as the roof thereof was in making.
In the which so miraculous a miracle, many things are to be marvelled. First, I marvel that at this great miracle of the archbishop in his cathedral church, amongst so many singing men, we read of no Te Deum there to be sung after the doing thereof.
Secondly, I marvel that those priests and clerks which then denied transubstantiation, were suffered to be so near the archbishop at his mass, and that they were not committed rather to ward like heretics and traitors, if this article of transubstantiation had been then such a catholic doctrine, and so publicly received in the church, as they say it was.
Thirdly, I marvel, seeing the time of miracles is expired, we, having the Scriptures to guide us, why the archbishop would seek to miracles and apparitions to convert men, rather than to the law and prophets, according as we are commanded: especially having no such examples of all the old doctors, which, in confutation of so many erroneous opinions, yet never sought to such miracles, or blind means.
Fourthly, I marvel much at the discrepance in telling this tale, between Osberne and the others, which since have written Legends of Odo. For whereas Osberne, speaking of certain priests, nameth no place, but leaveth the matter at large; and speaketh absolutely, certain priests; all other, who have since written the Legends of Odo, do tell this tale against certain priests of Canterbury; adding to the words of Osberne, certain priests of Canterbury. But to convict the falsehood of them all, as well of Osberne as of the rest, there is a legend of the life of Odo, and of Oswald together, more ancient than this of Osberne, written (as it may seem) in the time of Elfric, archbishop of Canterbury, and Elphege, then bishop of Winchester, wherein mention is made indeed of this miracle, but after another sort than this of Osberne, and to another purpose than to dissuade certain priests, infected with that error, from the opinion before declared: which is only brought to show the holiness of Odo, as commonly the manner of legends is to do: so that in this old legend it is thus reported, that when this miracle was done, Odo disclosed the matter not to many priests of England that were in that error, as Osberne would, "but called unto him a certain faithful servant who was near about him, and showed unto him the miracle secretly;" whereupon the priest (saith the legend) much rejoiced at the holiness of Odo, and desired him to make his prayer to Almighty God, that the body might return again to the former shape, &c. Out of this old lying legend Osberne, and other likewise that followed him, seemeth to have taken this tale, so that out of the error of one (as the manner is) springeth the error of a number more.
But this much more I marvel, why this miracle is not storied in Henry Huntingdon, which professedly writeth of such miracles, nor in Roger Hoveden, and such others; but only in such blind legends, which commonly have no substance of verity, nor certainty of time or writer, to know when and by whom they were written, and for the most part are stuffed with lying visions and prodigious fables.
Finally, if this miraculous fiction of Osberne were true, that for the converting of priests of England which would not believe transubstantiation, this blood did drop out of the host, (of which blood peradventure came the blood of Hayles,) and by the sight thereof, the priests eftsoon were all converted, (as Osberne pretendeth,) how then came it to pass, that after the time of Odo, in the days of Elfric, which was after him archbishop of Canterbury, the third from Dunstan, and fourth from Odo, not only the priests of England, but also the archbishop himself, were not yet brought to the belief of this transubstantiation, but taught the very same doctrine of the sacrament then, which we do now: as most clearly appeareth both by the epistles and homilies of the aforesaid archbishop Elfric, which hereunder, for the more evidence (Christ willing) we will annex.
This Elfric, as saith Capgrave, in the life of Oswald, bishop of Worcester, was first abbot of St. Alban's, and after made archbishop of Canterbury, about A.D. 996, in the time of King Etheldred, and of Wulfsine, bishop of Sherbourne. Elfric, also, (as witnesseth William of Malmesbury, in the life of Adelmus,) was abbot of Malmesbury. Furthermore, the said William of Malmesbury, writing of Elfric, archbishop of Canterbury, saith, that he was before bishop of Wells, and afterwards bishop of Canterbury. So, that Elfric was archbishop of Canterbury, it is out of all ambiguity. But whether Elfric, who was abbot, (of whom we do here speak,) were the same archbishop or not, by this diversity of Capgrave and Malmesbury, it may be doubtful. But whether he were or no, to this our present purpose is not greatly material, forasmuch as although they were divers persons, yet were they both in one age, and lived in one time together.
Furthermore, the same Elfric, of whom now we speak, of what calling soever he was, yet, notwithstanding, he was of such estimation and good liking in those days amongst the most learned, that for his learning, authority, and eloquence, his writings were accepted and authorized among the canons and constitutions of the church in that time, as hereby may appear. For whereas the bishops and priests, before the coming of William the Conqueror, had collected together a certain book of canons and ordinances to govern the clergy, gathered out of general and particular councils, out of the book of Gildas, out of the penitential books of Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, out of the writings of Egbert, archbishop of York, out of the epistles of Alcuinus, as also out of the writings of the old fathers of the primitive church, &c.; among the same canons and constitutions be placed these two epistles of the said Elfric hereunder following, whereof the one was sent to Wulfsine, bishop of Sherbourne, the other to Wulfstane, archbishop of York; as yet are to be seen in two books belonging to the library of the church of Worcester, the one written in the old Saxons' tongue, entitled Beppeost dinothe, the other for the most part in Latin, with this title, Admonitio Spiritualis Doctrinæ: which book of Saxon canons and constitutions, sometime belonging to Wulfstane, bishop of Worcester, was given by him, as for a great jewel, to the church of Worcester, as by the same book appeareth.
Moreover, besides this book of Worcester above-touched, there is yet extant also another like book of canons, belonging to the church of Exeter, wherein the same two epistles of Elfric be contained in the old Saxon tongue, and also in Latin, and prescribed yearly to be read to the clerks and priests of that church; which book, in like manner, was given to the church of Exeter, by Leofric, the first and most famous bishop of that see.
Of this Elfric, further, is to be understood, that he translated two books of fourscore sermons out of Latin into the Saxon speech, used then orderly to be read in churches on Sundays, and other festival days of the year.
Of his epistles especially we read of four which he wrote, one to the monks of Egnehsam, De consuetudine Monachorum: another to Wulfstane, archbishop of York, wherein is touched the matter of the sacrament: the third he wrote against priests' marriage, to one Sygeferth, with whom there was a certain anchorite abiding, who defended the marriage of priests, affirming it to be lawful. The fourth he wrote to Wulfsine, bishop of Sherboume, touching the matter of the sacrament; in the which epistle, he, taking occasion by a certain abuse in his time, which was, that priests, on Easter-day, filled their housel-box for sick persons, and so kept it for the space of a whole year, till Easter came again, writeth upon that occasion in these words:
"Men shall reserve more carefully that holy housel, and not reserve it too long, but hallow other of new, for sick men, always within a week or a fortnight, that it be not so much as hoary: for so holy is the housel which to-day is hallowed, as that which on Easter-day was hallowed. That housel is Christ's body not bodily, but ghostly: not the body which he suffered in, but the body of which he spake, when he blessed bread and wine, to housel, the night before his suffering, and said, by the blessed bread, This is my body: and, again by the holy wine, This is my blood which is shed for many in forgiveness of sins. Understand now that the Lord, who could turn that bread, before his suffering, to his body, and that wine, to his blood ghostly, that the selfsame Lord blesseth daily, through the priest's hands, bread and wine, to his ghostly body and to his ghostly blood."
After this epistle of Elfric above prefixed, written to Wulfsine, bishop of Sherbourne, concerning the sacramental bread, how it is not Christ's body lichamlice, that is, "bodily," or, as we term it now, "really; "and also how the same ought not to be over long kept in the pix; here followeth further another epistle of the said Elfric, written to Wulfstane, archbishop of York, both reprehending the said abuse above touched, and also containing matter more at large, against the bodily presence in the sacramental bread. The copy of his epistle, in our English, here followeth:
"Some priests fill their box for housel on Easter-day, and to reserve it a whole year for sick men, as though that housel were more holy than any other. But they do unadvisedly, because it waxeth hoary or altogether rotten, by keeping it so long space: and thus are they become guilty, as the book witnesseth to us. If any do keep the housel so long, or lose it, or mice or other beasts do eat it, see what the penitential book saith by this: 'So holy is altogether that housel which is hallowed to-day, as that which is hallowed on Easter-day.' Wherefore I beseech you to keep the holy body of Christ with more advisement, for sick men, from Sunday to Sunday, in a very clean box; or at the most not to keep it above a fortnight, and then eat it, laying other in the place. We have an example hereof in Moses' books, as God himself hath commanded in Moses' law, how the priests should set, every Saturday, twelve loaves, all new baked, upon the tabernacle, which were called Panes propositionis: and those should stand there, in God's tabernacle, till the next Saturday; and then did the priests themselves eat them, and set others in the place."
"Some priests will not eat the housel which they do hallow. But we will now declare unto you how the book speaketh by them: 'The priest that doth say mass, and dare not eat the housel, his conscience accusing him, is accursed.' It is less danger to receive the housel, than to hallow it. He that doth twice hallow one host to housel, is like unto those heretics, who do christen twice one child. Christ himself blessed housel before his suffering: he blessed the bread and brake it, thus speaking to his apostles, Eat this bread; it is my body. And again, he blessed one chalice with wine, and thus also spake unto them, Drink ye all of this; this is mine own blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. The Lord which hallowed housel before his suffering, and saith that the bread was his own body, and that the wine was truly his blood, halloweth daily, by the hands of the priest, bread to his body and wine to his blood, in ghostly mystery, as we read in books. And yet, notwithstanding, that lively bread is not bodily so; nor the self-same body that Christ suffered in; nor is that holy wine the Saviour's blood which was shed for us in bodily thing, but in ghostly understanding. Both be truly, that bread is his body, and that wine also is his blood; as was the heavenly bread which we call manna, that fed forty years God's people; and the clear water, which did then run from the stone in the wilderness, was truly his blood, as St. Paul wrote in one of his Epistles, All our fathers did eat in the wilderness the same ghostly meat, and drink the same ghostly drink: they drank of that ghostly stone, and that stone was Christ. The apostle hath said, as you have heard, that they all did eat the same ghostly meat, and they all did drink the same ghostly drink. And he saith not bodily, but ghostly. And Christ was not yet born, nor his blood shed, when the people of Israel did eat that meat and drank of that stone. And the stone was not bodily Christ, though he so said. It was the same mystery in the old law, and they did ghostly signify that ghostly housel of our Saviour's body, which we consecrate now."
Besides these epistles above prefixed of Elfric to Wulfsine and Wulfstane, which fight directly against transubstantiation, mention was touched also before of certain sermons, to the number of fourscore, translated by the said Elfric out of Latin into the Saxon, that is, into our English tongue, as ye partly have heard before. Of the which fourscore sermons, twenty-four were chiefly selected to be read, instead of homilies or treatises, unto the people; in such order as the first twelve sermons or treatises, treating of general matters, were appointed to be read at pleasure, and at the discretion of the minister. The other twelve sermons were prescribed of proper feasts, whereof this testimony remaineth in the same book yet to be seen, both in the Saxon tongue, and also in the preface of the latter twelve sermons.
Furthermore, as touching these fourscore sermons aforesaid, which Elfric translated into English, here is to be understood, that among the said sermons, used then orderly to be recited by the people, there was one appointed to be read In Die Sancto Paschæ, that is, upon Easter-day; which sermon, being translated by the said Elfric, we have here exhibited both in Saxon speech and English, to the intent that the Christian and indifferent reader, perusing the same, may judge thereby how the fantastical doctrine of transubstantiation, in those days of Elfric, and before his time, was not yet received or known in the church of England; forasmuch as the said sermon, being in Latin before, doth leave unto us an evident declaration, what was the common opinion of the sacrament in the church received, before Elfric did ever set hand to translate the same out of the Latin.
And though the Latin copies and exemplars of these aforesaid sermons are not remaining in our libraries, let that be no marvel to thee, loving reader! but understand thereby the crafty packing of the pope's clergy, who, in the time of Lanfranc and Pope Innocent, studying by all means how to prefer and further this their new-come doctrine of transubstantiation, did abolish and rase out of libraries and churches all such books which made to the contrary. And therefore, because Lanfranc, and other Italian priests here in England, understood not the Saxon books as they did the Latin, (all that which they understood they made away,) the Saxon books, because they knew them not, they let remain: and this is the cause why our Saxon copies are now to be found: which to be true by three reasons conjectural it may be probably supposed.
First, for that these Saxon sermons, being translated out of the Latin, (as ye have heard by the words of Elfric already proved,) we see only the Saxon books reserved: of the Latin none do appear.
Secondly, there is yet remaining one certain piece or fragment of an epistle of Elfric in the library of Worcester; wherein, so much as maketh against the matter of transubstantiation, we found in the middle of the said Latin epistle utterly rased out, so that no letter nor piece of a letter doth there appear. The words cut out were these: "Notwithstanding this sacrifice is not the same body of his wherein he suffered for us, nor the same blood of his which he shed for us: but, spiritually, it is made his body and blood as that manna which rained from heaven, and the water which did flow out of the rock. As Paul,' &c. These words, so rased out, are to be restored again by another Saxon book found in Exeter: by the rasing of which one place, it may easily be conjectured what these practisers have likewise done in the rest.
Thirdly, by one Italian trick of Polydore Virgil in our days, the properties and doings of all other Italian papists of elder time may partly be conjectured: for so I am informed by such as precisely will affirm it to be true, that when Polydore, being licensed by the king to view and search all libraries, had once accomplished his story by the help of such books as he had compiled out of libraries; in the end, when he had taken out what he would, like a true factor for the pope's own tooth, he piled his books together, and set them all on a light fire. For what cause he so did, I cannot certainly pronounce; but whoso considereth well his religion, may shrewdly suspect him: for a probation whereof, this may serve for a sufficient trial; that whereas of all other writers of histories that have been in England, as of Fabian, Lanquet, Rastal, More, Leland, Bale, Hall, and such others, some of their books which they then occupied, yet remain in hands to be seen: only of such books as Polydore used, and which passed his hands, what Englishman is he that hath seen, or can show me one? Whereby it may well be thought the aforesaid information to be true. As also by this one Italian trick of Polydore, may other Italians likewise be suspected, in making away such Latin books within this land, as made not for their purpose. But forasmuch as those Latin books be now abolished, and cannot be had, let us return to our tongue again, and see what this Saxon sermon of Elfric's translation doth say for transubstantiation; the copy whereof here ensueth:
"Men beloved! it hath been often said unto you about our Saviour's resurrection, how he, on this present day after his suffering, mightily rose from death. Now will we open unto you, through God's grace, of the holy housel, which ye should now go unto, and instruct your understanding about this mystery, both after the old covenant, and also after the new, that no doubting may trouble you about this lively food.
"The Almighty God bade Moses, his captain in the land of Egypt, to command the people of Israel, to take to every family a lamb of one year old, the night they departed out of the country to the land of promise, and to offer that lamb to God, and after to cut it, and to make the sign of the cross, with the lamb's blood upon the side posts and the upper posts of their door; and afterwards to eat the lamb's flesh roasted, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce.
God saith unto Moses, Eat of the lamb nothing raw, nor sodden in water, but roasted at the fire. Eat the head, the feet, and the inwards, and let nothing of it be left until the morning; if any thing thereof remain, that shall you burn with fire. Eat it in this wise: gird your loins, and do your shoes on your feet; have your staves in your hands; and eat it in haste. The time is the Lord's passover. And there was slain on that night, in every house throughout all Pharaoh's reign, the first-born child: and God's people of Israel were delivered from that sudden death through the lamb's offering, and his blood's marking. Then said God unto Moses, Keep this day in your remembrance, and hold it a great feast in your kindreds, with a perpetual observation; and eat unleavened bread always seven days at this feast.
"After this deed, God led the people of Israel over the Red Sea with dry foot, and drowned therein Pharaoh and all his army, together with their possessions, and fed, afterwards, the Israelites forty years with heavenly food, and gave them water out of the hard rock, until they came to the promised land. Part of this story we have treated of in another place, and part we shall now declare; to wit, that which belongeth to the holy housel. Christian men may not now keep that old law bodily, but it behoveth them to know what it ghostly signifieth. That innocent lamb which the old Israelites did then kill, had signification, after ghostly understanding, of Christ's suffering, who, unguilty, shed his holy blood for our redemption. Hereof sing God's servants at every mass, 'Thou Lamb of God! that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.'
"Those Israelites were delivered from that sudden death and from Pharaoh's bondage, by the lamb's offering, which signified Christ's suffering; through which we be delivered from everlasting death, and from the devil's cruel reign, if we rightly believe in the true Redeemer of the whole world, Christ the Saviour. That lamb was offered in the evening; and our Saviour suffered in the sixth age of this world. This age of this corruptible world, is reckoned unto the evening. They marked with the lamb's blood, upon the doors and the upper posts, Thau, that is, the sign of cross, and so were defended from the angels that killed the Egyptians' first-born child. And we ought to mark our foreheads and our bodies with the token of Christ's rood, that we also may be delivered from destruction, when we shall be marked both on forehead, and also in heart, with the blood of our Lord's suffering. Those Israelites did eat the lamb's flesh at their Easter time, when they were delivered; and we receive ghostly Christ's body, and drink his blood, when we receive with true belief that holy housel. That time they kept with them at Easter seven days, with great worship, when they were delivered from Pharaoh, and went from that land. So also Christian men keep Christ's resurrection at the time of Easter these seven days, because through his suffering and rising we be delivered, and be made clean by going to this holy housel, as Christ saith in his Gospel: Verily, verily I say unto you, ye have no life in you except ye eat my flesh, and drink my blood. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him, and hath that everlasting life, and I shall raise him up in the last day. I am the lively bread that came down from heaven: not so as your forefathers did eat that heavenly bread in the wilderness, and afterwards died. He that eateth this bread liveth for ever. He blessed bread before his suffering, and divided it to his disciples, thus saying, Eat of this bread; it is my body: and do this in my remembrance. Also he blessed wine in one cup, and said, Drink ye all of this. This is my blood that is shed for many, in forgiveness of sins. The apostles did as Christ commanded; that is, they blessed bread and wine to housel again afterwards in his remembrance. Even so, also, their successors and all priests, by Christ's commandment, do bless bread and wine to housel in his name with the apostolic blessing.
"Now men have often searched and do yet often search, how bread that is gathered of corn, and through fire's heat baked, may be turned to Christ's body; or how wine that is pressed out of many grapes is turned, through one blessing, to the Lord's blood. Now say we to such men, that some things be spoken of Christ by signification, and some be things certain. True this is, and certain, that Christ was born of a maid, and suffered death of his own accord, and was buried, and on this day rose from death. He is said to be bread by signification, and a lamb, and a lion, and a mountain. He is called bread, because he is our life, and angels' life. He is said to be a lamb for his innocency; and a lion for strength, wherewith he overcame the strong devil. But Christ is not so, notwithstanding, after true nature; neither bread, nor a lamb, nor a lion. Why is then the holy housel called Christ's body, or his blood, if it be not truly what it is called? Truly the bread and the wine which in the supper by the priest are hallowed, show one thing without, to human understanding, and another thing within, to believing minds. Without, they be seen bread and wine, both in figure and in taste; and they be truly, after their hallowing, Christ's body and his blood, through ghostly mystery.
"A heathen child is christened, yet he altereth not his shape without, though he be changed within. He is brought to the font-stone sinful, through Adam's disobedience; howbeit he is washed from all sin within, though he hath not changed his shape without. Even so the holy font water, that is called the wellspring of life, is like in shape to other waters, and is subject to corruption; but the Holy Ghost's might cometh to the corruptible water, through the priest's blessing, and it may, after, wash the body and soul from all sin, through ghostly might. Behold, now we see two things in this one creature: after true nature, that water is corruptible moisture; and after ghostly mystery, hath wholesome virtue. So also, if we behold the holy housel after bodily understanding, then we see that it is a creature corruptible and mutable. If we acknowledge therein ghostly might, then understand we that life is therein, and that it giveth immortality to them that eat it with belief. Much is betwixt the invisible might of the holy housel, and the visible shape of proper nature. It is naturally corruptible bread, and corruptible wine, and is, by might of God's word, truly Christ's body and blood; not so notwithstanding bodily, but ghostly.
"Much is betwixt the body of Christ which he suffered in, and the body that is hallowed to housel. The body truly, that Christ suffered in, was born of the flesh of Mary, with blood and with bone, with skin and with sinews, in human limbs, with a reasonable soul living; and his ghostly body, which we call the housel, is gathered of many corns, without blood and bone, without limb, without soul, and therefore nothing is to be understood therein bodily, but all is ghostly to be understood. Whatsoever is in that housel, which giveth substance of life, that is of the ghostly might and invisible doing. Therefore is that holy housel called 'a mystery,' because there is one thing in it seen, and another thing understood. That which is there seen, hath bodily shape; and what we do there understand, hath ghostly might. Certainly Christ's body, which suffered death, and rose from death, never dieth henceforth, but is eternal and unpassible. That housel is temporal, not eternal; corruptible and dealed into sundry parts, chewed between the teeth, and sent into the belly; howbeit, nevertheless, after ghostly might, it is all in every part. Many receive that holy body, and yet, notwithstanding, it is so all in every part, after ghostly mystery. Though some chew the less, yet is there no more might, notwithstanding, in the more part, than in the less, because it is whole in all men, after the invisible might. This mystery is a pledge and a figure: Christ's body is truth itself. This pledge we do keep mystically, until that we be come to the truth itself; and then is this pledge ended. Truly it is, so as we before have said, Christ's body and his blood; not bodily, but ghostly.
"But now hear the apostle's word about this mystery. Paul the apostle speaketh of the old Israelites, thus writing in his Epistle to faithful men, All our forefathers were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea; and all they did eat the same ghostly meat, and drank the same ghostly drink. They drank truly of the stone that followed them, and that stone was Christ. Neither was that stone then from which the water ran, bodily Christ; but it signifieth Christ, that calleth thus to all believing and faithful men, Whosoever thirsteth, let him come to me and drink, and from his bowels shall flow lively water. This he said of the Holy Ghost, which they received who believed on him. The apostle Paul saith that the Israelites did eat the same ghostly meat, and drank the same ghostly drink; because that heavenly meat that fed them forty years, and that water which from the stone did flow, had signification of Christ's body and his blood, that now be offered daily in God's church. It was the same which we now offer, not bodily, but ghostly.
"We said unto ye ere while, that Christ hallowed bread and wine to housel before his suffering, and said, This is my body and my blood. Yet he had not then suffered; but so notwithstanding he turned, through invisible might, the bread to his own body, and that wine to his blood, as he before did in the wilderness, before that he was born to be a man; when he turned that heavenly meat to his flesh, and the flowing water from that stone to his own blood. Very many did eat of that heavenly meat in the wilderness, and drank the ghostly drink; and were nevertheless dead, as Christ said. And Christ meant not that death which none can escape, but that everlasting death, which some of that folk deserved for their unbelief. Moses and Aaron, and many others of that people who pleased God, did eat that heavenly bread, and they died not that everlasting death, though they died the common death. They saw that the heavenly meat was visible and corruptible, and they ghostly understood by that visible thing, and ghostly received it. The Saviour saith, He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life. And he bade them not eat that body wherewith he was enclosed, nor to drink that blood which he shed for us; but he meant with those words, that holy housel which ghostly is his body and his blood, and he that tasteth it with believing heart, hath that eternal life.
"In the old law faithful men offered to God divers sacrifices, that had foresignification of Christ's body, which, for our sins, he himself to his heavenly Father hath since offered to sacrifice. Certainly this housel which we do now hallow at God's altar, is a remembrance of Christ's body, which he offered for us, and of his blood, which he shed for us. So he himself commanded, Do this in my remembrance. Once suffered Christ by himself, but yet, nevertheless, his suffering is daily renewed at this supper, through mystery of the holy housel. Therefore we ought to consider diligently, how that this holy housel is both Christ's body, and the body of all faithful men, after a ghostly mystery. As wise Augustine saith of it, If ye will understand of Christ's body, hear the apostle Paul thus speaking: Ye truly be Christ's body and his members. Now is your mystery set on God's table, and ye receive your mystery, which mystery ye yourselves be. Be that which ye see on the altar, and receive that which ye yourselves be. Again, the apostle Paul saith by it, We many be one bread, and one body. Understand now and rejoice: many be one bread and one body in Christ. He is our Head, and we be his limbs; and the bread is not of one corn, but of many; nor the wine of one grape, but of many. So, also, we all should have one unity in our Lord, as it is written of the faithful army, how that they were in so great a unity, as though all of them were one soul and one heart. Christ hallowed, on his table, the mystery of our peace and of our unity. He that receiveth that mystery of unity, and keepeth not the bond of true peace, receiveth no mystery for himself, but a witness against himself. It is very good for Christian men, that they go often to housel, if they bring with them to the altar unguiltiness and innocency of heart; if they be not oppressed with sin. To an evil man it turneth to no good, but to destruction, if he receive unworthily that holy housel. Holy books command that water be mingled to that wine which shall be for housel, because the water signifieth the people, and the wine Christ's blood; and therefore shall neither the one without the other be offered at the holy mass, that Christ may be with us, and we with Christ; the Head with the limbs, and the limbs with the Head.
"We would before have treated of the lamb which the old Israelites offered at their Easter time, but that we desired first to declare unto you of this mystery, and after, how we should receive it. That signifying-lamb was offered at the Easter. And the apostle Paul saith, in the Epistle of this present day, that Christ is our Easter, who was offered for us, and on this day rose from death. The Israelites did eat the lamb's flesh, as God commanded, with unleavened bread and wild lettuce; so we should receive that holy housel of Christ's body and blood without the leaven of sin and iniquity. As leaven turneth the creatures from their nature; so doth sin, also, change the nature of man from innocency to uncleanness. The apostle hath taught how we should feast, not in the leaven of the evilness, but in the sweet dough of purity and truth. The herb which they should eat with the unleavened bread is called lettuce, and is bitter in taste: so we should with bitterness of unfeigned repentance, purify our mind, if we will eat Christ's body. Those Israelites were not wont to eat raw flesh, and therefore God bade them to eat it neither raw nor sodden in water, but roasted with fire. He shall receive the body of God raw, that shall think without reason, that Christ was only man like unto us, and was not God. And he that will, after man's wisdom, search the mystery of Christ's incarnation, doeth like unto him that doth seethe lamb's flesh in water, because that water, in this same place, signifieth man's understanding. But we should understand that all the mystery of Christ's humanity was ordered by the power of the Holy Ghost; and then eat we his body roasted with fire, because the Holy Ghost came in fiery likeness to the apostles in divers tongues.
"The Israelites should eat the lamb's head, and the feet, and the purtenance; and nothing thereof must be left over-night. If any thing thereof were left, they did burn that in the fire; and they brake not the bones. After ghostly understanding we do eat the lamb's head, when we take hold of Christ's Divinity in our belief. Again, when we take hold of his humanity with love, then eat we the lamb's feet, because that Christ is the beginning and the end, God before all worlds, and man in the end of this world. What be the lamb's purtenance, but Christ's secret precepts? and these we eat, when we receive with greediness the word of life. There must nothing of the lamb be left unto the morning, because that all God's sayings are to be searched with great carefulness; so that all his precepts may he known in understanding and deed in the night of this present life, before that the last day of the universal resurrection do appear. If we cannot search out thoroughly all the mystery of Christ's incarnation, then ought we to betake the rest unto the might of the Holy Ghost with true humility, and not to search rashly of that deep secretness, above the measure of our understanding. They did eat the lamb's flesh with their loins girded. In the loins is the lust of the body, and he who will receive that housel, shall cover or wrap in that concupiscence, and take with chastity that holy receipt.
They were also shod. What be shoes, but of the hides of dead beasts? We be truly shod, if we match, in our steps and deeds, the life of men departed this life, who pleased God with keeping of his commandments. They had staves in their hands when they did eat. This staff signifieth a carefulness and diligent overseeing: and all they that best know, and ken, should take care of other men, and stay them up with their help. It was enjoined to the eaters, that they should eat the lamb in haste, for God abhorreth slothfulness in his servants, and that he loveth those that seek the joy of everlasting life with quickness and haste of mind. It is written, Prolong not to turn unto God, lest the time pass away through thy slow tarrying. The eaters might not break the lamb's bones. No more might the soldiers, that did hang Christ, break his holy legs, as they did of the two thieves that hanged on either side of him. And the Lord rose from death, sound, without all corruption: and at the last judgment they shall see him, whom they did most cruelly wound on the cross. This time is called in the Hebrew tongue, pascha, and in Latin, transitus, and in English, a passover, because that on this day the people of Israel passed from the land of Egypt over the Red Sea, from bondage to the land of promise: so also did our Lord at this time depart, as saith John the evangelist, from this world to his heavenly Father. Even so we ought to follow our Head, and to go from the devil to Christ; from this unstable world, to his stable kingdom. Howbeit we should first, in this present life, depart from vice to holy virtue, from evil manners to good manners, if we will, after this our lent life, go to the eternal life; and, after our resurrection, to Christ. He bring us to his everlasting Father, who gave himself to death for our sins! To him be honour and praise of well-doing, world without end. Amen."
And thus, I suppose, it standeth clear and evidently proved by course of all these ages afore recited, from the time of Tertullian and Augustine, unto the days of this Elfric above mentioned, and after him, that this new-come miracle of transubstantiation was not yet crept into the heads of men, nor almost came in any question amongst learned men, nor was admitted for any doctrine in the church, (at least for any general doctrine of all men to be received,) till a thousand years complete after Christ, that is, till Satan began to be set at large. For who ever heard in all the primitive church, or ever read in the works of the old ancient doctors, this question once to be asked or disputed, whether any substance of bread and wine remained in the Lord's supper? or what man was ever so doltish to believe any such thing, or ever called heretic for not believing the same, before the time of seduction, that is, before the thousand years aforesaid were expired? Wherefore they that stand so much on the antiquity of this article, as a doctrine which hath ever, since Christ's time, been received in the church, taught by the apostles, believed by all catholics, and confirmed by consent of all ages, of councils, of nations, and people, unto this present day; these, I say, either show themselves very ignorant in histories, and in all state of antiquity, or else most impudently they do abuse the simple credulity of people.
To proceed now further in this discussion of antiquity, it followed that after the time of Elfric aforesaid, this matter of transubstantiation began first to be talked of, and to come in question among a few superstitious monks; so that as blindness and superstition began more and more to increase, so the said gross opinion still more and more, both in number and authority, prevailed, insomuch that about the year of our Lord 1050, the denying of transubstantiation began to be counted heresy.
And in this number first was one Berengarius, a Frenchman and archdeacon of Angers, which, of all Christian men which we read of, was first called and counted a heretic for denying of transubstantiation, and troubled for the same, as ye shall hear.
This Berengarius lived in the time of Pope Leo the Ninth, Victor, and Nicholas the Second, which latter died in the year 1061. Albeit I do find our writers here in some discrepance; for the most of them do hold, that he first recanted under Pope Leo the Ninth, in the council of Vercelli, and afterwards again under Pope Nicholas the Second, about the year 1062, as is to be gathered of Gratian, De Consecrat. dist. 2, "Ego Berengarius," where he saith that Pope Nicholas did send about to bishops and archbishops the copy of his recantation.
Again, by the acts of the council of Rome it there appeareth that the said Berengarius made this his said last recantation under Pope Hildebrand, called Gregory the Seventh. But this difference of times is no great matter to stand upon. The truth of the story is this; that when Berengarius had professed the truth of the sacrament, and had stood in the open confession thereof, according to the ancient verity of the doctrine received in the church before, he was so handled by certain malignant and superstitious monks, that, what by evil entreaty, and what for fear of death, (such is the weak frailty of man,) he began to shrink, and afterwards did indeed recant the truth.
Of these malicious enemies against Berengarius, the chiefest troublers were Lanfranc, abbot of Caen,afterwards archbishop of Canterbury; Guimund, a monk likewise first of the abbey of Leufrede, and afterwards archbishop of Aversa; Algerius also, monk of Corbeny; Fulbert also, monk and bishop; and Hildebrand, some time monk of Cluni, and then archdeacon of Tours, and afterward bishop of Rome.
By these, and such other monks of the like fraternity, the error and heresy of transubstantiation began first to be defended, and parts publicly, in writing, to be taken about that matter; of the which sides and parts, the first that began to set up that faction by writing seemeth to be Paschasius, who was a little before Berengarius, about the time of Bertram, and likewise Lanfranc, the first that brought it into England.
On the contrary side again, the first that was openly impugned and troubled for denying transubstantiation, was this Berengarius; with whom Lanfranc, also, was supposed at the first beginning to hold and take part; but afterwards, to clear himself, he stood openly against him in the council, and wrote against him.
It followeth then in the act of the council, when the synod of archbishops, bishops, abbots, and other prelates were together assembled, the greater number (saith the story) did hold that the bread and wine were turned substantially into the body and blood of Christ. Notwithstanding, (saith he,) divers there were in the said council who held the contrary with Berengarius, but at last were driven to give over. Berengarius, among the rest, after he had long stood in the constant defence of the truth, at last relented to their wills, confessing his error, (where none was,) and desired pardon of the council. And this was (as seemeth by William of Malmesbury) his first giving over; who afterwards, returning to himself again after the death of Pope Leo, and pricked with the sting of conscience, was driven again to recognise the truth, which he before had denied.
The pope, (saith Malmesbury,) perceiving this, would not leave him so, but sent into France Hildebrand, his cardinal chaplain, (as meet a mate for such a feat, as was in all Satan's court,) and made him with a wanyand to come again coram nobis; who so handled Berengarius, bringing him before the face of the council holden at Tours, that he made him to say, erravi, once again: against whom stood up in that council Lanfranc, and Guimund aforesaid, impugning his assertion. And thus standeth the narration of Malmesbury. But, by the acts of council of Rome, appeareth another declaration, which is, that this latter recantation of Berengarius should be at Rome under Hildebrand being then pope, in the year of our Lord 1079, and in the month of February; and that in the same council, holden in the church of Our Saviour, this recantation of Ego Berengarius was made, and he enjoined by the said Pope Hildebrand, upon his oath, never hereafter to teach or dispute contrary to that faith of the sacrament there holden, &c.
Again, Henry Bullinger in his book, De Origine Erroris, following belike some other author, expresseth the order of the aforesaid recantation after this sort, and saith, that in the time of Pope Leo the Ninth, A.D. 1050, there was a Roman council holden at Vercelli; in the which council, Lanfranc being then present, the book of John Scotus was openly read, and there condemned. Also Berengarius was sent for, who, seeing the prejudicial proceeding of that council, refused himself to come, but sent two clerks, which openly there defended his cause and quarrel, and were for the same committed unto prison. Such is the freedom of the pope's general councils, with prisons and violence to defend their verities. Against the doings of this council notwithstanding, the Frenchmen stood stiff, both at Angers and Tours, joining and consenting with Berengarius.
Not long after this died Pope Leo; and after him succeeded Pope Victor, by whom another synod was kept at Florence, where the acts and doings of the aforesaid council of Vercelli were confirmed, and a legate also appointed to be sent to Tours in France. This legate was Hildebrand above mentioned, who, calling the clergy of France together in a synod, fell there in hand with the cause of the sacrament. Berengarius, not being ignorant of these Roman councils, so kept himself, that in all his actions he would give none other answer, but that he believed and consented with the faith of the catholic church; and so for that time did frustrate the purpose of the council, rather deluding the pretences of his enemies, than freely confessing the simple truth.
Again, after Victor, came Pope Nicholas the Second, who, congregating another council at Rome, A.D. 1059, sent for Berengarius there to appear, who, being present, argued what he could for the justness of his cause, but all would not serve: in the pope's general councils such a stroke and mastership beareth authority above verity. Berengarius being thus borne down on every side by might and superiority, when no remedy would serve, but he must needs recant again, (for the law of relapse was not yet in season,) he desired to know what other confession of the sacrament the pope would require of him, besides that which he had there confessed. Then Pope Nicholas committed that charge to Humbert, a monk of Lorraine, and, afterwards, a cardinal, that he should draw out in formable words the order of his recantation, after the prescription of Rome, which he should read, and publicly profess before the people; the form of which words is registered in the Decrees. The effect thereof is this:
"That he pretendeth with heart and mouth to profess, that he, acknowledging the true, catholic, and apostolical faith, doth execrate all heresy, namely, that wherewith he hath lately been infamed, as holding that the bread and wine upon the altar, after the consecration of the priest, remain only a sacrament, and are not the very self body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, neither can be handled or broken with the priest's hands, or chewed with the teeth of the faithful, otherwise than only by manner of a sacrament: consenting now to the holy and apostolical Church of Rome, he professeth with mouth and heart to hold the same faith touching the sacrament of the Lord's mass, which the lord pope Nicholas, with his synod here present, doth hold, and commandeth to be holden by his evangelical and apostolical authority; that is, that the bread and wine upon the altar after consecration, are not only a sacrament, but also are the very true and self body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and are sensibly felt and broken with hands, and chewed with teeth: swearing by the holy evangelists, that whosoever shall hold or say unto the contrary, he shall hold them perpetually accursed; and if he himself shall hereafter presume to preach or teach against the same, he shall be content to abide the severity and rigour of the canons," &c.
This cowardly recantation of Berengarius, as it offended a great number of the godly sort, so it gave to the contrary part no little triumph, whereby, ever since, they have taken the greater courage to tread down the truth.
It happened shortly after this, that Hildebrand, the pope's grand captain in the behalf of his master, Pope Nicholas, went in warfare against the Normans. This war being finished, shortly after he set upon a new voyage to fight for Pope Alexander, against Cadolus; which victory being also achieved, it was not long but he put the new Pope Alexander beside the cushion, and was made pope himself: so that during the busy stir of these wars, the pope's Holiness had no leisure to attend the debating of this controversy of the sacrament.
At length, when all was quieted, and Pope Hildebrand now was where he would be, his restless brain could not be unoccupied, but eftsoons summoneth a new council at Rome, in the church of Lateran, to revive again the old disceptation of Berengarius, about the year, as some hold, 1079. Thus Berengarius, being tossed by these monks and Pharisees, was so confounded, and baited on every side, that partly for worldly fear straining him on the one side, partly for shame and grief of conscience, that he had now twice denied the truth, on the other side, the man, (as is of him reported,) after these such turbulent tragedies, forsaking his goods, his studies, learning, and former state of life, became a labourer, and wrought with his hands for his living, all the residue of his life.
The opinion which Berengarius maintained touching the sacrament (as by his own words, in Lanfranc's book, may appear) was this:
"The sacrifice of the church consisteth of two things: the one visible, the other invisible, that is, of the sacrament, and of the thing or matter of the sacrament. Which thing, (which is to mean, the body of Christ,) if it were here present before our eyes, it were a thing visible and to be seen: but being lifted up into heaven, and sitting on the right hand of his Father, to the time of restoring all things, (as St. Peter saith,) it cannot be called down from thence. For the person of Christ consisteth of God and man: the sacrament of the Lord's table consisteth of bread and wine; which, being consecrated, are not changed, but remain in their substances, having a certain resemblance or similitude of those things, whereof they be sacraments," &c.
By these words of Berengarius's doctrine, all indifferent readers may see and judge, that he affirmed nothing but what was agreeable to the Holy Scripture, believing with St. Augustine, and all other ancient elders of the church, that in the holy supper all faithful believers be refreshed spiritually with the body and blood of the Lord, unto everlasting life. Wherefore most impudently they do misreport him, (as they do many others besides,) which falsely lay to his charge, as though his teaching should be, that in the sacred supper of the Lord nothing else were received of the faithful, besides only the bare signs, which are the bread and the wine.
And now that you have seen the doctrine of Berengarius, let us also take a view of the contrary teaching of Lanfranc and his fellows, conferring and comparing together the institution on the one side, with the institution of the other, to mark and consider which of them soundeth nearer to the truth of -the Scriptures. The words of Lanfranc be these: "I believe the earthly substances, which, upon the Lord's table, are divinely sanctified, through the ministration of the priest, to be converted unspeakably, incomprehensibly, and miraculously, by the operation of God's mighty power, into the essence of the Lord's body, the outward forms only of the things themselves, and certain qualities re-served, and that for two respects: the one, lest the sight of the raw and bloody flesh might otherwise make men to abhor from eating thereof; the other, for that they which believe the thing they see not, might have the greater merit for their belief. The conversion of which earthly substances into the essence of the Lord's body notwithstanding, yet is the selfsame body of the Lord in heaven, and there hath its essential being at the right hand of his Father, immortal, inviolate, perfect, undiminished, and uncorrupted; so that truly it may be affirmed, the selfsame body both to be received of us, and yet not the selfsame. The selfsame, I mean, as touching the essence, property, and virtue of his true nature: and yet not the selfsame, as touching the forms of bread and wine, and other outward qualities incurring to our outward senses," &c.
And thus have ye the confession of Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury. From this confession of Lanfranc, the opinion and assertion also of Guimund, archbishop of Aversa, doth nothing differ in grossness and impiety, but rather passeth the same, thus affirming and defending: "that the body of Christ is pressed, and torn with teeth, even like as it was felt and touched with the hands of Thomas."
And moreover, the said Guimund, (if his book be not rather counterfeited at Louvain,) in the same place, answering to an objection put out, that it is not lawful for Christ to be torn in pieces with teeth, doubteth not to pronounce, that whether we take tearing for hard biting or soft biting, it is not repugnant nor disagreeing, but that (by the will of God agreeing thereunto) the body of Christ may be touched with hands, bitten with mouth, crushed, yea, and divided in pieces, with hard or soft pressing of the teeth: and that as he was bruised upon the cross, according to the prophet, saying, He was bruised for our iniquities, &c.; so the same body, for the health of the faithful, may devoutly be torn and rent with their teeth, any thing to the contrary notwithstanding, &c. Judge now, all good studious readers, what is to be thought of this kind of doctrine, and how this opinion cohereth with the infallible voice of God's word, saying, in Exodus, And of him ye shall not break a bone, &c.
This rude and misshapen doctrine of these monks concerning transubstantiation, as ye have heard when and by whom it began first to be broached, so, if you would now know by what learning and scriptures they did confirm and establish the same, ye must here think and understand, how their chief-est grounds and substance to persuade the people, were at this time certain miracles by them forged, and published both in their writings and preachings; whereof one was the same above recited of Odo, which Osberne or some other monkish legend invented of him, how he should show unto certain the host, turned into the likeness of flesh and blood, dropping into the chalice, for the conversion of those clerks, who before would not believe it. Another like miracle is also told by the said Osberne of Dunstan, in this order: how the said Dunstan appeared to a certain lame cripple in the night, willing him to resort unto his tomb, to have his limbs again restored; which cripple, according as he was willed, after he had there continued praying for health a long time, and could not obtain, began to return home again after long tarrying, without all hope of recovery. To whom the said Dunstan, appearing again by the way, asked from whence he came; and whither he would. The cripple, answering, declared how he came thither upon hope of health, where he had long tarried; and because he could find no recovery, therefore he now was returning home. To whom then said Dunstan: "I am," saith he, "Dunstan, the fellow servant of all God's servants, and have been occupied with certain necessary business, for which I could not be present there with my children: for Elfric," said he, "otherwise surnamed Bata, hath attempted to disherit my church; but I have so stopped him, that he could not prevail."
Many other fabulous miracles of the like stamp are rife in popish stories, counterfeited and forged under divers and sundry names, some referred to Gregory, some to Paschasius, and to others more, which, to recite all, would fill a whole sea full of lies and fables. Among many, one is thus invented of Paschasius. "There was a priest of Almain," (saith he,) "named Plegildus, who did see and handle with his hands visibly the shape of a child upon the altar; and so after he had embraced and kissed it, it returned again to the likeness of bread, as he should come to the receiving thereof." This miracle when it was objected against Berengarius, he, merrily deriding the blind fable, answered in these words: "A godly peace," quoth he, "of a false varlet; that whom he kissed before with his mouth, by and by he goeth about to tear him with his teeth."
Another miracle is reported of a Jew boy, who, upon a time, entering into the church with another, a Christian lad, who was his play-fellow, saw upon the altar a little child broken and torn in pieces, and afterwards, by portions, to be distributed among the people: which sight when the young Jew, coming home, had told unto his father to be true and certain, he was for the same condemned to be burned. Thus he, being enclosed in a house, and the door made fast where he should be burned,he was found and taken out from thence by the Christians, not only alive, but also having not one hair of his head blemished with the flames about him. Who then being of the Christians demanded, how he was so preserved from the burning fire, "There appeared," said he, "to me, a beautiful woman sitting on a chair, whose son the child was, which was before divided and distributed in the church among the people; who reached to me her hand in the burning flame, and with her gown-skirts kept the flame from me, so that I was preserved thereby from perishing." Belike these monks lacked miracles among the Christians, when they were fain to borrow such figments of the Jews, to prove their feigned transubstantiation. And these commonly were then the argments of these monks, wherewith they persuaded the people to believe their transubstantiation. But to leave these monks' fictions, and to return again to Berengarius, thus Malmesbury of him reporteth, that after he had once or twice recanted, as is aforesaid, yet, notwithstanding, this doctrine of the sacrament still remained in the mind of his hearers. And howsoever the tyranny of the pope did drive him, through fear, to deny his opinion, and wrought him much trouble, yet, notwithstanding, after his death he lacked not his wellwillers; in the number of whom was Hilbert, bishop of Mans.
Although in this time of Berengarius, which was about the year of our Lord 1050, (as ye have heard,) this error of transubstantiation began to grow in force and strength, by the supporting of certain popish monks above rehearsed, as Lanfranc, Guimund, Algerius, Hugo, bishop of Lincoln, Fulbert, (of whom it is said in stories, that our Lady gave him suck, being sick, with her own breasts,) and such others: yet, notwithstanding, all this while the said transubstantiation was decreed for no public law, nor doctrine to be holden by any general consent, either of the Church of Rome, or any other council, before the council of Lateran, under Pope Innocent the Third, who, A.D. 1215, celebrating in the church of Lateran a general council of thirteen hundred bishops, enacted there divers constitutions, as of yearly confession; and the communion to be used by the whole multitude once a year through every parish church. Item, for the recovery of the holy land, with subsidy also to be levied for the same. Item, for the abolishing of the books and writings of Joachim the abbot, and also the opinions of Almaric before mentioned. Notwithstanding that the said Joachim did subscribe with his own hand, that he held the same doctrine which was in the Church of Rome, and also submitted his books to be presented to the see of Rome, there to be corrected or approved, yet was he judged, though not a heretic, yet to be erroneous; and especially in those books which he wrote against Peter the Lombard, called afterwards the Master of Sentences.
In the said council, besides divers other constitutions and the articles of the Creed there in order repeated, as appeareth, there was also enacted, decreed, and established, the faith and belief of transubstantiation, in these words following:
"There is one universal church of the faithful, without which none can be saved; in which church the selfsame Jesus Christ is both priest and also the sacrifice; whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the forms of bread and wine, the bread being transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood, by the power and working of God: so that to the accomplishing of this mystery of unity, we might take of his, the same which he hath taken of ours. And this sacrament none can make or consecrate, but he that is a priest lawfully ordained, according to the keys of the church, which Jesus Christ hath left to his apostles, and to their successors," &c.
And thus was the foundation laid for the building of transubstantiation, upon the consent of these aforesaid thirteen hundred bishops, in the year of our Lord above specified, under Pope Innocent, and the doctrine thereof intruded for an article of faith into the church, necessarily to be believed of all men under pain of heresy.
But yet all this while, notwithstanding that the substance of bread and wine was now banished out of the sacrament, and utterly transcorporated into the substance of Christ's very body and blood, yet was not this body elevated over the priest's head, nor adored by the people, till the days of Pope Honorius the Third, succeeding after Innocent, who, by his council, likewise commanded adoration and elevation to he joined with transubstantiation; as one idolatry commonly bringeth forth another.
Again, the said sacrament of the Lord's supper being now consecrated, transubstantiated, elevated, and adored, yet it was not offered up for a sacrifice propitiatory for the quick and the dead, nor for a remedy of the souls in purgatory, nor for a merit operis operati, sine bono motu utentis, &c., before that other popes, coming after, added still new additions to the former inventions of their predecessors.
And thus have you the whole order and origin of these idolatrous parts of the mass described by their times and ages, which first began with consecration and the form thereof, which were words of the canon. Then came transubstantiation by Innocent, and afterwards elevation and adoration by Honorius;and, last of all, came the oblation, meritorious and propitiatory, for the quick and the dead in remission of sins, ex opere operato; which things being thus constituted by the too much usurped authority of the Church of Rome, shortly after followed persecution, tyranny, and burning among the Christians; first beginning with the Albigenses, and the faithful congregation of Toulouse, near about the time of the said Innocent, as is before remembered.
And thus much for the first article, of transubstantiation, which, as you have heard, was not admitted into the church for any general doctrine of faith, before the year and time above assigned of Pope Innocent the Third: and therefore, if any have been otherwise persuaded, or yet do remain in the same persuasion still of this doctrine, as though it had been of a longer continuance than for the time above expressed, let him understand that by ignorance of histories he is deceived: and for the more satisfying of his mind, if he credit not me, let him believe the words of one of his own catholic sort, John Duns Scotus I mean, who, in his fourth book, writing of transubstantiation, in what time and by whose authority it was first established, hath these words, which also are before mentioned: "These words of the Scripture might be expounded more easily and more plainly without transubstantiation; but the church did choose this sense, which is harder, being thereto moved, as seemeth, chiefly because men should hold, of the sacraments, the same which the Church of Rome doth hold," &c. And further, in the same place, the said Duns, expounding himself what he meaneth by the Church of Rome, maketh there express mention of the said Innocent the Third, and of this council of Lateran, &c. And furthermore, to the intent that such as be indifferent seekers of the truth may be more amply satisfied in this behalf, that this transubstantiation is of no antiquity, but of a late invention, I will also adjoin to this testimony of John Scotus, the judgment and verdict of Erasmus, where he writeth in these words: "In the sacrament of the communion, the church concluded transubstantiation but of late days. Long before that, it was sufficient to believe the true body of Christ to be present either under bread, or else by some other manner," &c.
The second article: of both kinds.S touching the second article, which debarreth from the lay-people the one-half of the sacrament, understanding that under one kind both parts are fully contained, forasmuch as the world well knoweth that this article is but young -- invented, decreed, and concluded no longer since than at the council of Constance, not two hundred years ago, I shall not need to make any long standing upon that matter; especially for that sufficient hath been said thereof before, in our long discourse of the Bohemians' story.
First, let us see the reasons and objections of the adversaries, in restraining the laity from the one kind of this sacrament. "The use," say they, "hath been of so long continuance in the church:" whereunto we answer, that they have no evident nor authentic example of any ancient custom in the church, which they can produce in that behalf.
Item, where they alleged the place of St. Luke, where Christ was known in breaking of bread, &c.; citing, moreover, many other places of Scripture, wherein mention is made of breaking of bread: to answer thereunto, although we do not utterly repugn, but that some of those places may be understood of the sacrament, yet that being granted, it followeth not therefore, that one part of the sacrament was only ministered to the people without the other, when by the common use of speech, under the naming of one part, the whole action is meant. Neither doth it follow, because that bread was broken among the brethren, therefore the cup was not distributed unto them: for so we find by the words of St. Paul, that the use of the Corinthians was to communicate, not only in breaking of bread, but in participating the cup also: "The cup," saith he, "which we participate," &c.
Also, after the apostles, in the time of Cyprian, of Jerome, of Gelasius, and others successively after them, it is evident that both the kinds were frequented in the church. First Cyprian, in divers places, declareth that the sacrament of the blood was also distributed. "How do we," saith he, "provoke them to stand in the confession of Christ, to the shedding of their blood, if we deny unto them the blood of Christ, when they prepare themselves to the conflict?"
The words of Jerome are plain: "Priests," saith he, "which minister the Eucharist, and divide the blood unto the people."
In Historia Tripartita, it was said to the emperor Theodosius, "How will you receive the body of the Lord with such bloody hands, or the cup of his precious blood with that mouth, who have spilled so much innocent blood?"
In the canon of Gelasius, and in the pope's own decrees, these words we read: "We understand that there be some, who, receiving only the portion of the Lord's body, do abstain from the cup of his sacred blood; to whom we enjoin that either they receive the whole sacrament in both kinds, or else that they receive neither; for the dividing of that whole and one sacrament, cannot be done without great sacrilege," &c. So that this decree of Pope Gelasius being contradictory to the council of Constance, it must follow, that either the pope did err, or else the council of Constance must needs be a sacrilegious council; as no doubt it was.
The like testimony also appeareth in the council of Toledo, that the laity did then communicate in both kinds, beside divers other old precedents remaining yet in the churches both of Germany and also of France, declaring likewise the same.
And thus it standeth certain and demonstrable, by manifold probations, how far this new-found custom differeth from all antiquity and prescription of use and time. Again, although the custom thereof were ever so ancient, yet no custom may be of that strength to gainstand or countermand the open and express commandment of God, which saith to all men, Drink ye all of it.
Again, seeing the cup is called the blood of the new testament, who is he that dare or can alter the testament of the Lord, when none may be so hardy to alter the testament of a man, being once approved or ratified?
Further, as concerning those places of Scripture before alleged, Of breaking of bread; whereupon they think themselves so sure that the sacrament was then administered but in one kind: to answer thereunto, first, we say, it may be doubted whether all those places in Scripture are to be referred to the sacrament. Secondly, the same being given unto them, yet can they not infer thereby, because one part is mentioned, that the full sacrament therefore was not ministered. The common manner of the Hebrew phrase is, under breaking of bread, to signify generally the whole feast or supper: as in the prophet Isaiah, these words, Break thy bread to the hungry, do signify as well giving drink, as bread, &c. And thirdly, howsoever those places, concerning the breaking of bread, be taken, yet it maketh little for them, but rather against them. For, if the sacrament were administered among them in fractione panis, that is, in breaking of bread, then must they needs grant, that if bread was there broken, ergo there was bread, forasmuch as neither the accidents of bread without bread can be broken, neither can the natural body of Christ be subject to any fraction or breaking by the Scripture, which saith, And ye shall break no bone of him, &c. Wherefore take away the substance of bread, and there can be no fraction. And take away fraction, how then do they make a sacrament of this breaking, whereas neither the substance of Christ's body, neither yet the accidents without their substance, can be broken, neither again will they admit any bread there remaining to be broken?. And what then was it, in this their breaking of bread, that they did break, if it were not bread, that is, the substance of bread, which was broken? To conclude: if they say that this fraction of bread was a sacramental breaking of Christ's body, so by the like figure let them say that the being of Christ's natural body in the sacrament is a sacramental being, and we are agreed.
Item, They object further, and say, that the church, upon due consideration, may alter as they see cause, in rites, ceremonies, and sacraments.
Answer: -- The institution of this sacrament standeth upon the order, example, and commandment of Christ. This order he took: first, he devided the bread severally from the cup; and afterwards, the cup severally from the bread. Secondly, this he did not for any need on his behalf, but only to give us example how to do the same after him, in remembrance of his death, to the world's end. Thirdly, besides this order taken, and example left, he added also an express. commandment, Do this: Drink ye all of this, &c. Against this order, example, and commandment of the gospel, no church, nor council of men, nor angel in heaven, hath any power or authority to change or alter; according as we are warned: If any bring unto you any other gospel beside that ye have received, hold him accursed, &c.
Item, Another objection: And why may not the church (say they) as well alter the form of this sacrament, as the apostles did the form of baptism? where, in the Acts, St. Peter saith, Let every one be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, &c.
Answer: -- This text saith not that the apostles used this form of baptizing, "I baptize thee in the name of Christ," &c.; but they used many times this manner of speech, "to be baptized in the name of Christ," not as expressing thereby the formal words of baptizing, but as meaning this: That they would have them to become members of Christ, and to be baptized as Christians, entering into his baptism, and not only to the baptism of John: and therefore, although the apostles thus spake to the people, yet, notwithstanding, when they baptized any themselves, they used, no doubt, the form of Christ prescribed, and no other.
Item, Among many other objections, they allege certain perils and causes of weight and importance, as spilling, shedding, or shaking the blood out of the cup, or souring, or else sticking upon men's beards, &c.; for the which, they say, it is well provided the half communion to suffice.
Whereunto it is soon answered, that as these causes were no let to Christ, to the apostles, to the Corinthians, and to the brethren of the primitive church, but that in the public assemblies they received all the whole communion, as well in the one part as in the other; so neither be the said causes so important now, to annul and evacuate the necessary commandment of the gospel, if we were as careful to obey the Lord, as we are curious to magnify our own devices, to strain at gnats, to stumble at straws, and to seek knots in rushes, which rather are in our own fantasies growing, than there, where they are sought.
In summa: Divers other objections and cavillations are in popish books to be found, as in Gabriel, the difference made between the laity and priests; also the distinction used to be made between the priests' communion and the laical communion: where is to be understood, that when priests were bid to use the laical communion, thereby was meant, not receiving under one kind, as laymen do now, but to abstain from consecrating, and only to receive as the laymen then did. Some also allege certain special or particular examples, as of the cup only serving for the bread, or of the bread only sent to certain sick folk for the cup. And here they do infer the story of Sozomenus, touching the woman in whose mouth the sacrament of bread, which she only received without the cup, was turned to a stone, &c. Others allege other private examples likewise of infants, aged men, sick persons, men excommunicated, frantics, and madmen, or men dwelling far off from churches, in mountains or wildernesses, &c. All which private examples neither make any instance against the ancient custom of public congregations frequented from the apostles' time; and much less ought they to derogate from the express and necessary precept of the gospel, which saith to all men without exception, This do ye, and, Drink ye all of it.
The third article: of private masses, trental masses, and dirige masses.
Private masses, trental masses, and dirige masses, as they were never used before the time of Gregory, six hundred years after Christ, so the same do fight directly against our Christian doctrine, as by the definition thereof may well appear. The mass is a work or action of the priest, applied unto men for meriting of grace, ex opere operato; in the which action the sacrament is first worshipped, and then offered up for a sacrifice for remission of sins, a pœna et culpa, for the quick and the dead. Of this definition, as there is no part but it agreeth with their own teaching, so there is no part thereof which disagreeth not from the rules of Christian doctrine; especially these, as follow:
I. The first rule is, Sacraments be instituted for some principal end and use, out of which use they are no sacraments: as the sacrament of baptism is a sacrament of regeneration and forgiveness of sins to the person that is baptized; but if it be carried about to be worshipped and showed to others, as meritorious for their remission and regeneration, to them it is no sacrament.
II. No sacrament or ceremony doth profit or conduce but to them only who take and use the same.
III. Only the death of Christ, and the work of his sacrifice upon the cross, is to be applied to every man by faith, for salvation and health of his soul. Besides this work alone, to apply any action or work of priest or any other person, as meritorious of itself, and conducible to salvation, to souls' health, or to remission of sins, it is idolatry, and derogatory to the testament of God, and to the blood of Christ prejudicial.
IV. To make idols of sacraments, and to worship dumb things for the living God, it is idolatry.
V. Every good work, whatsoever it be, that a man doth, profiteth only himself, and cannot be applied to other men, ex opere operato, to profit them unto merit or remissions; only the actions of Christ excepted.
VI. No man can apply to another the sacrifice of Christ's death by any work-doing, but every man must apply it to himself by his own believing.
VII. The sacrifice of Christ's death doth save us freely by itself, and not by the means of any man's working for us.
VIII. The passion of Christ once done, and no more, is a full and a perfect oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, both original and actual: by the virtue of which passion the wrath of God is pacified towards mankind for ever. Amen.
IX. The passion of Christ once done, is only the object of that faith of ours which justifieth us, and nothing else. And therefore, whosoever setteth up any other object beside that passion once done, for our faith to apprehend and behold the same, teacheth damnable doctrine, and leadeth to idolatry.
Against all these rules private masses directly do repugn. For first, besides that they transgress the order, example, and commandment of Christ, (who divided the bread and cup to them all,) they also bring the sacrament out of the right use whereunto, principally, it was ordained. For whereas the use of that sacrament is principally instituted for a testimonial and remembrance of Christ's death, the private mass transferreth the same to another purpose, either to make of it a gazing idol, or a work of application meritorious, or a sacrifice propitiatory for remission of sins, or a commemoration for souls departed in purgatory: according as it is written in their mass book, Pro quorum memoria corpus Christi, sumitur; pro quorum memoria sanguis Christi sumitur, That in remembrance of whom the body and blood of Christ are taken, whereas Christ saith contrary, This do ye in remembrance of me.
Furthermore, the institution of Christ is broken in this, that whereas the communion was given in common, the private mass suffereth the priest alone to eat and drink up all; and when he hath done, to bless the people with the empty cup.
Secondly, whereas sacraments properly profit none but them that use the same, in the private mass the sacrament is received in the behoof not only of him that executeth, but of them also that stand looking on, and of them also which be far off, or dead and in purgatory.
Thirdly, when by the Scripture nothing is to be applied for remission of our sins, but only the death of Christ, cometh in the private mass, as a work meritorious done by the priest; which being applied to others, is available both to him that doth it, and to them for whom it is done.
Fourthly, private masses, and all other masses now used, of the sacrament make an idol; of commemoration make adoration; instead of receiving, make a deceiving; in place of showing forth Christ's death, make new oblations of his death; and of a communion make a single sole supping, &c.
Fifthly, whereas, in this general frailty of man's nature, no man can merit by any worthiness of working for himself, the priest, in his private mass, taketh upon him to merit both for himself, and for many others.
Sixthly, it standeth against Scripture, that the sacrifice and death of Christ can be applied any otherwise to our benefit and justification, than by faith: wherefore it is false that the action of the mass can apply the benefit of Christ's death unto us, ex opere operato, sine bono motu utentis vel sacrificantis.
Seventhly, whereas the benefit of our salvation and justifying standeth by the free gift and grace of God, through our faith in Christ; contrarily, the application of these popish masses stoppeth the freeness of God's grace, and maketh that this benefit must first come through the priest's hands, and his opus operatum, unto us.
The eighth contrariety between private mass and God's word is in this; that where the Scripture saith, With one oblation he hath made perfect them that be sanctified for ever: against this rule the private mass proceedeth in a contrary doctrine, making of one oblation a daily oblation, and that which is perfectly done and finished, anew to be done again: and finally, that which was instituted only for eating, and for a remembrance of that oblation of Christ once done, the popish mass maketh an oblation, and a new satisfaction daily to be done for the quick and the dead.
To conclude, these both private and public masses of priests, turn away the object of our faith from the body of Christ sacrificed, to the body of Christ in their masses. And whereas God annexeth no promise of justification, but only to our faith in the body of Christ crucified, they do annex promise of remission a pœna et culpa, to the body in their masses sacrificed, by their application; besides divers other horrible and intolerable corruptions which spring of their private and public masses, which here I leave to others at their leisure further to conceive and to consider. Now let us proceed to the other articles following.
The fourth and fifth articles; of vows and priests' marriage.
As we have discoursed before, by stories and order of time, the antiquity of the three former articles above mentioned, to wit, of transubstantiation, of the half communion, and of private masses; so now, coming to the article of vows, and that of priests' marriage, the reader will look, perchance, to be satisfied in this likewise, as in the other before, and to be certified from what continuance of time these vows and unmarried life of priests have continued; wherein, although sufficient hath been said before in the former process of this history, as in the life of Anselm, also of Pope Hildebrand, &c., yet, for the better establishing of the reader's mind against this wicked article of priests' marriage, it shall be no great labour lost, here briefly to recapitulate in the tractation of this matter, either what before hath been said, or what is more to be added. And to the intent that the world may see and judge the said law and decree of priests' single sole life, to be a doctrine of no ancient standing here within this realm, but only since the time of Anselm, I will first allege for me the words of Henry of Huntingdon, here following:
"The same year, at the feast of St. Michael, Anselm, the archbishop of Canterbury, held a synod at London; in the which synod he forefended priests here in England to have wives, which they were not inhibited before to have: which constitution seemed to some persons very pure and chaste. To others again it seemed very dangerous, lest while that men should take upon them such chastity, more than they should be able to bear, by that occasion they might haply fall into horrible filthiness, which should redound to the exceeding slander of Christian profession," &c.
Albeit I deny not but before the time also of Anselm, both Odo, and after him Dunstan, archbishop of Canterbury, and Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, and Oswald, bishop of Worcester, in the days of King Edgar, A.D. 959, as they were all monks themselves, so were they great doers against the marriage of priests, placing monks in churches and colleges, and putting out the married priests, as ye may read before; yet, notwithstanding, neither was that in many churches, and also the priests then married were not constrained to leave their wives, or their rooms, but only at their own choice. For so writeth Malmesbury, "Therefore divers and sundry clerks of many churches, being put to their choice, whether to change their weed, or to part from their places, went their ways," &c. So also Elfric, after them, (of whom mention was made before,) was somewhat busy in setting forward the single life of priests, and Lanfranc likewise. But yet this restraint of priests' lawful marriage was never publicly established for a law here, in the church of England, before the coming of Anselm, in the days of William Rufus and King Henry the First, writing in these words: "Boldly I command, by the authority which I have by my archbishopric, not only within my archbishopric, but also throughout England, that all priests that keep women, shall be deprived of their churches, and all ecclesiastical benefices," &c.; as ye may read more at large before: which was much about the same time when Hildebrand also, at Rome, began to attempt the same matter, as before hath been showed; and also besides him were other popes more, as Pope Innocent the Third, Nicholas the Second, and Calixtus the Second, by whom the act against priests' marriage was brought at length to its full perfection, and so hath continued ever since.
Long it were, and tedious, to recite here all such constitutions of councils provincial and general, namely, of the council of Carthage and of Toledo, which seemed to work something in that behalf against the matrimony of priests.
Again, longer it were to number up the names of all such bishops and priests, which, notwithstanding, have been married since that time in divers countries, as more amply shall be showed (the Lord willing) in the sequel hereof. In the mean season, as touching the age and time of this devilish prohibition for priests to have their wives, this is to be found by credible proofs and conferring of histories, that about the year of our Saviour 1067, at what time Pope Hildebrand began first to occupy the papal chair, this oath began first to be taken of archbishops and bishops, that they should suffer none to enter into the ministry, or into any ecclesiastical function, having a wife; and likewise the clergy to be bound to promise the same.
And this was, as I said, about A.D. 1067, well approved and testified by course of histories: whereby appeareth the prophecy of St. Paul truly to be verified, speaking of these latter times, 1 Tim. iv., where he writeth in these words: The Spirit speaketh plainly, that in the latter times there shall some depart from the faith, hearkening unto spirits of error, and to doctrines of devils, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which the Lord hath created to be taken with thanksgiving, &c.
In this prophecy of St. Paul two things are to be observed; first, the matter which he prophesieth of, that is, the forbidding of marriage, and forbidding of meats, which God generally hath left free to all men. The second thing in this prophecy to be noted is, the time when this prophecy shall fall, that is, in the latter times of the world. So that this concurreth right well with these years of Pope Hildebrand aforesaid, being a thousand years complete after the ascension of our Saviour; so that they may well be called the latter times.
This prophecy of St. Paul, thus standing, as it doth, firm and certain, that is, that forbidding of marriage must happen in the latter times of the world, then must it needs consequently follow thereby, that the married life of priests is more ancient in the church than is the single life; than the law, I mean, commanding the single life of priests: which may soon be proved to be true, by the true count of times, and search of histories.
I. For first, at the council of Nice, A.D. 325, it is notorious that this devilish law of marriage to be restrained, was stopped by Paphnutius.
II. Before this council of Nice, we read of Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, who, about A.D. 193, dissenting from Pope Victor about a certain controversy of Easter-day, allegeth for himself how his progenitors before him, seven together, one after another, succeeded in that see, and he now, the eighth after them, was placed in the same, using this his descent of his parents not only as a defence of his cause, but also as a glory to himself.
III. Pope Syricius, about A.D. 390, wrote to the priests of Spain, about the same matter of putting their wives from them; if his epistle be not counterfeit. These Spanish priests had then with them a bishop of Tarragona, who, answering to Syricius in this behalf, alleged the testimonies of St. Paul, that priests might lawfully retain their wives, &c. To this Syricius replied again (if his writing be not forged) most arrogantly, and no less ignorantly, reproving the priests that were married; and, for the defence of his cause, alleged this sentence of St. Paul, If ye shall live after the flesh, ye shall die, &c. Whereby may appear, not only how they in Spain then had wives, but also how blind these men were in the Scriptures, which showed themselves such and so great adversaries against priests' marriages.
IV. To be short, the further we go, and the nearer to the ancient time of the church, the less ancient we shall find the deprivation of lawful matrimony amongst Christian ministers, beginning, if ye will, with the apostles, their examples and canons, who, although they were not all married, yet divers of them were, and the rest had power and liberty to have and keep their wives, witnessing St. Paul, where he writeth of himself, Have we not power to lead about a sister to wife, as also the other apostles have? Whereby is to be seen, both what he might do, and what the other apostles did. Albeit Clement of Alexandria, who was two hundred years after Christ, denieth not but that Paul was married, being an apostle, as well as Peter and Philip. And as the said apostles, in their doctrine, admonish all men to marry that cannot otherwise do, saying unto every one being in danger of temptation, Let every man have his own wife, lest Satan tempt you, &c., so likewise the same apostles, in their canons, (as in the pope's decrees is cited,) do precisely charge, that no bishop or priest should sequester from him his wife for any matter or pretence of religion, saying, "If any shall teach that a priest, for religion's sake, ought to contemn his own wife, let him be accursed," &c.
As for the gloss there in the margin, which expoundeth this word "contemning "for exhibiting things necessary for her sustenance, all the world may see that to he a gloss of mere sophistry. And because I have here made mention of Clement of Alexandria, it shall not be to our purpose impertinent, to infer the words of this worthy writer, wherewith he doth defend priests' lawful matrimony against certain vain boasters of virginity in his time: "These glorious braggers do vaunt themselves to be the followers of the Lord, who neither had wife, nor yet possessed any thing here in the world," &c. And it followeth, "To these the Scripture maketh answer, God withstandeth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Again, they consider not the cause why the Lord took no wife. First, he had his own peculiar spouse, which is the church. Moreover, neither was he as a common man, that he should stand in such need of a helper after the flesh," &c. And in the same book a little after, alleging against them that abhor matrimony, he inferreth the words of St. Paul, how that in the latter days, some shall fall from the faith, attending to spirits of error, and to doctrine of devils, forbidding to marry, and bidding to abstain from meats, &c. Which place of St. Paul, Clement here applieth not against the Novatians, and them that condemn matrimony in general in all men as naught; but he applieth it only against such as forbid marriage in part, and namely in priests, &c. This Clement wrote after Christ two hundred years, and yet if we come downward to lower times, we shall find both by the council of Gangra three hundred years, and also by the council of Nice four hundred years, after Christ, the same liberty of priests' marriage established and enacted as a thing both good and godly. The words of the council of Gangra be these: "If any do judge that a priest, for his marriage' sake, ought not to minister, and therefore doth abstain from the same, let him be accursed."
Moreover, proceeding yet in times and chronicles of the church, we shall come to the sixth council, called the Synod of Constantinople, almost seven hundred years after Christ; the words of which council be alleged in the Decrees, and be these: "Because, in the order of the Roman canon we know it so to be received, that such as be deacons and priests shall profess themselves to have no more connexion with their wives; we, following the ancient canon of the diligent apostles and constitutions of holy men, enact that such lawful marriage, from henceforth, shall stand in force, in no case dissolving their conjunction with their wives, neither depriving them of their mutual society and familiarity together, in such time as they shall think convenient," &c. Hitherto ye have heard the decree: hear now the penalty in the same decree and distinction contained. "If any man, therefore, shall presume, against the canons of the apostles, to deprive either priest or deacon from the touching and company of his lawful wife, let him be deprived. And likewise this priest and deacon, whosoever, for religion's sake, shall put away his wife, let him be excommunicated," &c. (and the council of Gangra saith: "let him be accursed.") By these words of the council recited, six things are to be noted:
I. First, how this council calleth the marriage of priests lawful, contrary to these six articles, and to a certain late English writer of our country, entitling his book Against the Unlawful Marriage of Priests.
II. In that this council so followeth "the canons of the apostles, and constitutions of holy men," we have to understand what the censures both of the apostles, and determination of other holy men, were therein.
III. If the injunction of this council, agreeing thus with the apostles and holy men, stood with truth, the contrary canon of the Romans, and also of these six English articles, must needs be condemned of error.
IV. By this council appeareth, that so long time, almost seven hundred years after Christ, this prohibition of priests' marriage was not yet entered into the Orient church, but stoutly was holden out.
V. By the Roman canon here mentioned, which began with Gregory, six hundred years after Christ, a little before this council, it cannot be denied but that the Church of Rome began then to dissever, not only from the verity, but also from the unity of all other churches following the apostolic doctrine; albeit the said Roman canon at that time stood not long, but was shortly disannulled by the said Gregory again, by the occasion of infants' heads found in the fish pond; whereof (Christ willing) more shall be spoken hereafter.
VI. Sixthly, here is to be noted and remembered the crafty false packing and fraud of the Romans, who, in the Latin book of Councils, in divers new impressions, have suppressed this canon, because belike it maketh little with their purpose: playing much like with this, as Pope Sosimus, Boniface, and Celestine played with the sixth council at Carthage, who, for their supremacy, would have forged a false canon of Nice, had not the council sent to Constantinople for the true exemplar thereof, and so proved them open liars to their faces. So likewise this canon above mentioned, although it be omitted in some books, yet, being found in the ancient and true written copies, being alleged of Nilus, a Greek bishop of Thessalonica, two hundred years ago; and moreover being found and alleged in the pope's own book of Decrees, dist. 31, must needs convince them of manifest theft and falsehood.
Thus it may stand sufficiently proved, that the deprivation of priests' lawful marriage, all this space, was not entered into the church, neither Greek nor Latin, at least took no full possession, before Pope Hildebrand's time, A.D. 1067, and especially Pope Calixtus' time, A.D. 1119, which were the first open extorters of priest's marriage. Aventine, a faithful writer of his time, writing of the council of Hildebrand, hath these words:
"In those days priests commonly had wives, as other Christian men had, and had children also, as may appear by ancient instruments, and deeds of gift, which were then given to churches, to the clergy, and to religious houses; in which instruments, both the priests and their wives, also, with them, (who there be called presbyterissæ,) I find to be alleged for witnesses. It happened, moreover, at the same time, (saith Aventine,) that the emperor had the investing of divers archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys, and nunneries, within his dominions; Pope Hildebrand disdaining against both these sorts aforesaid, (that is, both against them that were invested by the emperor, and also against all those priests that had wives,) provided so in his council at Rome, that they who were promoted by the emperor into livings of the church, were counted to come in by simony: the others, who were married priests, were counted for Nicolaitans. Whereupon Pope Hildebrand, writing his letters to the emperor, to dukes, princes, and other great prelates and potentates; namely, to Berthold of Zaringia, to Rodulph of Suevia, to Welphon of Bavaria, to Adelberon, and to their ladies, and to divers others to whom he thought good, also to bishops; namely, to Otto, bishop of Constance, with other priests and lay people, willeth them, in his letters, to refuse and to keep no company with those simoniacs and those Nicolaitan priests, (for so were they termed then,) which had either any ecclesiastical living by the emperor, or else who had wives: to avoid their masses; neither to talk, neither to eat or drink with them, nor once to speak to them, or to salute them; but utterly to shun them, as men execrable and wicked, no otherwise than they would eschew the plague or pestilence.
"By reason hereof ensued a mighty schism and affliction among the flock of Christ, such as lightly the like hath not been seen: for the priests went against their bishops, the people against the priests, the laity against the clergy: briefly, all ran together in heaps and in confusion. Men and women, as every one was set upon mischief, wickedness, contention, and avarice, took thereby occasion, upon every light suspicion, to resist their minister, to spoil the goods of the church. The vulgar people contemned the priests which had married wives, despised their religion, and all things that they did; yea, and in many places would purge the place where they had been with holy water, and burned their tithes. Also, such was the mischief of them, that they would take the holy mysteries which those married priests had consecrated, and cast them in the dirt, and tread them under their feet: for so then had Hildebrand taught them, that those were no priests, neither that they were sacraments which they did consecrate. So that by this occasion many false prophets rose, seducing the people from the truth of Christ by forged fables, and false miracles, and feigned glosses, wresting the Scriptures as served best for their own purposes: of whom few there were, that kept any true chastity. Many could make glorious boasts and brags thereof; but the greatest part, under the show and pretence of honesty and pureness of life, committed incest, fornication, adultery, every where almost, and no punishment was for the same," &c.
To this testimony of Aventine above mentioned, we will also adjoin the record of Gebuilerus, a writer of this our latter time, and one also of their own crew, who doth testify, that in the time of the emperor Henry the Fourth, A.D. 1057, the number of twenty-four bishops, both in Germany, Spain, and in France, were married, with the clergy also of their diocese. Of which Spanish bishops we read also in Isidore, who wrote more than six hundred years after Christ, (and the place is also cited in the pope's distinctions,) in his book De Clericorum Vita, how they ought either to lead an honest, chaste life, or else to keep themselves within the band of matrimony, &c. Whereby is declared the single life of priests either to be then voluntary, or else their marriage not to be restrained as yet by any law.
Moreover, such Calixtian priests as be nowadays, counting priests' marriage as a new device, and not standing with ancient times, let them look upon the decree of Pope Symmachus, and answer thereof to the Gloss, dist. 81; where it is written, "Let priests be all restrained from the conversation of all women, except it be their mother, sister, or their own wife," &c.
Thus, if either the voice of Scripture might take place with these men which be so rigorous against priests' marriage; or if the examples of the apostles might move them, (whom St. Ambrose witnesseth to have been all married, except only Paul and John,) or else if the multitude of married bishops and priests might prevail with them, here might be rehearsed, that Tertullian was a married priest; as witnesseth Jerome; Spiridion, bishop of Cyprus, had wife and children; Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, was also married; Gregory, bishop of Nissa; Gregory, bishop of Nazianzum; Prosper, bishop of Rheggio; Cheremon, bishop of Nilopolis: all these were married bishops. Of Polycrates, and his seven ancestors, bishops and married men, we spake before. Epiphanius, bishop of Constantinople in Justinian's time, was the more commended, because his father and ancestors before him were priests and bishops married. Jerome saith, that in his time, "many priests were then married men."
Pope Damasus reciteth up a great number of bishops of Rome, who were priests' sons; as, Sylverius, A.D. 536; Deodatus, about the year 614; Adrian the Second, about the year 867; Felix the Third, about the year 483; Osius; Agapetus, A.D. 535; Gelasius, A.D. 492; Boniface, A.D. 418; Theodore, (whose father was bishop of Jerusalem,) about the year 642; John the Tenth, A.D. 914 John the Fifteenth, the son of Leo, a priest, about the year 985; Richard, archdeacon of Coventry: Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon; Volusianus, bishop of Carthage; Thomas. archbishop of York, son of Sampson, bishop of Worcester. And bow many other bishops and priests in other countries, besides these bishops of Rome, might be annexed to this catalogue, if our leisure were such as to make a whole bead-roll of them all!
In the mean time the words of Cardinal Sylvius, afterwards bishop of Rome, are not to be forgotten, which he wrote to a certain friend of his, which, after his orders taken, was disposed to marriage. To whom the aforesaid Sylvius answereth again in these words following: "We believe that you, in so doing, follow no sinister counsel, in that you choose to be married, when otherwise you are not able to live chaste. Albeit this counsel should have come into your head before that you entered into ecclesiastical orders: but we are not all gods, to foresee before what shall happen hereafter. Now, forasmuch as the matter and case standeth so, that you are not able to resist the law, better it is to marry than to burn," &c.
All these premises well considered, it shall suffice, I trust, though no more were said, to prove that this general law and prohibition of priests' marriage, pretended to be so ancient, is of no such great time, nor long continuance of years, as they make it, but rather to be a late devised doctrine, gendered by the monks, and grounded upon no reason, law, or Scripture; but that certain which be repiners against the truth, do rack and wrest a few places out of the doctors, and two or three councils, for their pretended purpose: whose objections and blind cavillations, I, as professing here but to write stories,refer to the further discussion of divines, in whose books this matter is more at large to be sought and searched. In the mean season, so much as appertaineth to the searching of times and antiquity, and to the conservation of such acts and monuments as are behovable for the church, there is a certain epistle learned and ancient, of Volusianus, bishop some time of Carthage, tending to the defence of priests' lawful wedlock, which Æneas Sylvius, in Descriptione Germaniæ; also Illyricus in Catalogo; and Melancthon, Lib. de Conjugio, do father upon Hulderic, bishop of Augsburg, in the time of Pope Nicholas the Second. But as I find it in an old written example, sent by John Bale to Matthew, archbishop of Canterbury, as it is joined in the same book, so it beareth also the same title and name of Volusianus, bishop of Carthage.
As touching the antiquity of the first epistle, it appeareth by the copy which I have seen and received, of the above-named Matthew, archbishop of Canterbury, to be of an old and ancient writing, both by the form of the characters, and by the wearing of the parchment, almost consumed by length of years and time.
And as concerning the author thereof, the superscription (if it be true) plainly declareth it to be the epistle of Volusianus, bishop of Carthage: albeit, heretofore, it hath commonly been taken and alleged by the name of Hulderic, bishop of Augsburg, and partly appeareth to be so, both by the testimony of Æneas Sylvius, in Descriptione Germaniæ, who, in the said treatise, affirmeth that Hulderic, bishop of Augsburg, did constantly resist the pope, abolishing the marriage of priests, &c.: and also by the record of Illyricus, testifying that the said epistle not only remaineth yet to this day in old monuments, but also that he himself did see two exemplars of the same, both pretending the name of the said Hulderic to be the author, notwithstanding this copy I have seen, beareth the title, not of Hulderic, bishop of Augsburg, but of Volusianus, bishop of Carthage in Africa; as ye may see by the words of the preamble, saying, "This is the rescript of Volusianus, bishop of Carthage, unto Pope Nicholas, concerning priests not to be restrained from lawful marriage," &c.
Furthermore, which Pope Nicholas this was, to whom these epistles were written, it is not plainly showed in the same; but that by probable conjecture it may be guessed rather to be Pope Nicholas the Second, forasmuch as in his time priests' marriage began somewhat earnestly to be called in, more than at other times before.
These two epistles, written to Pope Nicholas under the title of Volusianus, give us to understand by the contents thereof, first, that he himself was then a married bishop: secondly, that the liberty of priests' marriage ought not to be restrained by any general law of compulsion, but to be left to every man's free choice, and voluntary devotion: thirdly, the said epistles, being written to Pope Nicholas, (if the title be true,) declare, that this law, prohibiting the lawful matrimony of churchmen, began first in this pope's time generally to be enacted.
And although it be not here expressed which Pope Nicholas this was, yet by the circumstance of time, and especially by the words of Pope Alexander, it may probably be esteemed to be Nicholas the Second, and not Nicholas the First, as some do suppose; amongst whom is Illyricus, and also John Bale, with certain others: from whose judgments, although I am loth to dissent, yet, notwithstanding, modestly and freely to utter herein my opinion, this I suppose, that if the truth of this matter were throughly tried, it might, peradventure, be found that they be herein deceived, and all by mistaking a certain place of Gratian: for the better explanation hereof it is to be understood, that amongst the distinctions of Gratian, there is a constitution, the tenor whereof is this, "No man shall hear mass of any priest whom he knoweth undoubtedly to have a concubine, or a woman privily resorting to him," &c.
This decree, forasmuch as Gratian doth allege under the name and title of Pope Nicholas, not naming what Nicholas he was, therefore John Bale, and Illyricus, one following the other, and they both following Volateran, do vouch this constitution upon Nicholas the First. The words of Volateran be these, writing of Nicholas the First; "He determined on many useful measures, such as that none should be present at the sacrifice of a priest who kept a concubine."
In like effect follow also the words of Illyricus aforesaid; and he allegeth, as Volateran doth, the said distinction of Gratian, in alleging whereof they both seem to be deceived, in mistaking belike one Nicholas for another: as may be proved and made good by three or four reasons.
First, by the words of Pope Alexander the Second, in the next chapter following, who, being the successor of Leo, and of Nicholas the Second, useth the same words in his synod of Mantua, (which Gratian referreth unto Nicholas,) and prosecuteth the same more amply and fully, alleging, moreover, the former constitution of both his predecessors, Popes Leo and Nicholas, who, by all stories, are known to be Leo the Ninth and Nicholas the Second, which both were next before him. The words of Alexander the Second be these; "Beside this, we command that none hear mass from a priest known to be privately married. Hence the holy synod has determined this under pain of excommunication, saying, Whosoever of the priesthood, after the constitution of our predecessors of blessed memory, the most holy Popes Leo and Nicholas, shall openly marry a wife, or if married, shall not leave her," &c., &c. By which words, speaking of Nicholas his predecessor, it is evident to understand this to be Pope Nicholas the Second, which was his next predecessor, and not Pope Nicholas the First, who was about two hundred years before him.
The second reason, I take out of the chapter of Gratian next going before, where he allegeth again the same Nicholas, writing to Otho archbishop; which Otho was then, in the time of this Nicholas the Second, archbishop of Cologne, and was afterwards in the council of Mantua, under Pope Alexander the Second, as witnesseth Johannes Quintius, the lawyer. Whereby it must needs be granted, that this was Nicholas the Second, and not Nicholas the First.
The third conjecture or reason is this, for that Pope Nicholas the First never made any such act or decree, that neither priests that were entangled with a concubine, should sing mass, nor that any should resort to hear the mass of such, &c.; but rather to the contrary. For so we read in the history of Antoninus.
And yet more plainly also afterwards he saith, "Where ye demand concerning the priest that hath a wife, whether ye ought to sustain him, and honour him, or reject him from you: we answer, that albeit they be very much blameworthy; yet ye ought to be followers of God, who maketh his sun to rise both upon the good, and upon the bad. And therefore ye ought not to reject such away from you," &c.
And this Nicholas, Antoninus confesseth plainly to be Nicholas the First; whereby it is not only not unlikely, but also most certain, that Nicholas the First was not the author of this constitution, either to exterminate married priests from their churches, or to excommunicate the people from receiving their communion; much less then from hearing their service.
Fourthly: forasmuch then as it is undoubted that Nicholas the Second, and Alexander the Second, through the instigation of Hildebrand, were the authors of that constitution whereof Gratian speaketh, it remaineth plain by the words of Volusianus, in the latter end of his letter, (wherein he maketh mention both of discharging the priest from singing mass, and the people from hearing,) that the said epistle was written, not to Pope Nicholas the First, but to Pope Nicholas the Second, because both these were decreed against married priests under Nicholas the Second, and Alexander the Second, as is before declared.
And further, lest my judgment herein should seem to stand alone and singular, without some to take my part, I will here produce for me a Parisian doctor, and a famous lawyer, Johannes Quintius, above mentioned, who in his book De Clericorum Moribus plainly accordeth with mine opinion touching this Nicholas, author of the decree aforesaid, where he writeth in these words; "Pope Nicholas, writing to Otho, archbishop of Cologne, &c. Gloss: There have been, in all, five popes called by the name of Nicholas; of which five, this Nicholas, the writer hereof, must be either the first or second: the one a Roman, in the year 860; the other a Burgundian, in the year 1059, or 1060. The other Nicholases lived after Gratian, who wrote in the year 1151. In my judgment I suppose this to be Nicholas the Second, which, in the third Book of the Laws, called Pannomia, tit. De Lapsis, is named Nicholas the younger: which Nicholas, also, is author of the next decree that followeth," &c.
Wherefore if any man shall object hereafter, that, because Gratian, in the distinction aforesaid, nameth Pope Nicholas absolutely, without any addition, he is therefore to be taken for Nicholas the First, unto this objection I set here these two lawyers to answer. Unto whose answer this I add also, that the common manner of Gratian lightly in all his distinctions is, that when he speaketh of popes, as of Innocent, Gregory, Leo, Lucius, and such others, very seldom he expresseth the difference of their names: so in the eighteenth distinction, Presbyteris, where he bringeth in the decree of Pope Calixtus in like manner, against the matrimony of priests, deacons, and sub-deacons, he addeth thereto no discrepance of his name; and yet all the world knoweth that this was Calixtus the Second, and not Calixtus the First, &c. But whether he were or no, the matter forceth not much. The letters, no doubt, by their title appear to be written by Volusianus. Most certain this is, by whomsoever they were written, fruitful epistles they are, and effectual to the purpose.
But lest we should seem too much to digress from our purpose, let us return to the story and time of Nicholas the Second again, who was about the year, as is said, 1059, a little before Hildebrand was pope. This Hildebrand, albeit he was then but a cardinal, yet was he the whole doer of all things, and concluded what him listed in the church of Rome, and also made popes whom he would, asappeareth both by this Nicholas, and also Pope Alexander, who followed him. So that this dissolution of priests' marriage began somewhat to kindle under this Pope Nicholas, through the pestilent means of Hildebrand, and after him increased more under Pope Alexander, as appeareth by the synod holden at Milan, in the year 1067. But most of all it burst out under the said Hildebrand himself, being pope in the year, as is said, 1076.
Although, as touching this prohibition of priests to be married, I am not ignorant that certain of the contrary faction, in searching out the reach and antiquity of this tradition, for priests to abstain from wives, do refer the same to the time of the second council of Carthage, which was about the time of Pope Syricius, a great enemy to ministers' wives, as appeareth in the eighty-fourth distinction, Cum in præterito; yet, notwithstanding, to the same may be answered,
First, That this was no universal or general council, but some particular synod, and, therefore, of no such great forcible authority.
Secondly, The same synod being about the time of Pope Syricius, who was a capital enemy against priests' marriage, may seem to draw some corruption of the time then present.
Thirdly, Neither is it impossible, but as divers bastard epistles have been falsely fathered upon certain ancient bishops of the primitive church, and divers canons also, as of the council of Nice, have been corrupted by bishops of Rome, so some falsehood, likewise, or forgery, might be used in this second council of Carthage.
Fourthly, Although no false conveyance had been used therein, yet, forasmuch as the said canon of this second council of Carthage doth misreport and falsify the canons of the apostles, in so doing it doth justly diminish its own credit.
Fifthly, Seeing the aforesaid canon of this second council of Carthage tendeth clean contrary to the canons of the apostles, to the council of Gangra, and other councils more, and commandeth that which they do accurse, the authority thereof ought to have no great force, but rather may be rejected.
Sixthly and finally, Though this constitution of the council of Carthage were perfectly sound without all corruption, yet plain and evident it is, by this Volusianus, bishop also of Carthage, that the same constitution took no great hold in the church, forasmuch as we see that both this Volusianus was married, after that, in Carthage himself, and also, besides him, many hundred years after, marriage was a common matter through most churches of Christendom, amongst bishops and priests; as partly before hath been declared, and more may be seen in histories, what great tumults and business was long after that, in Hildebrand's time, and after him also amongst the clergymen, both in Italy, Spain, France, and in all quarters of Christendom, for separating priests from their liberty of marrying.
And again, if this tradition concerning the unmarried life of priests had stood upon such an old foundation from the second council of Carthage, (as they pretend,) what needed then, in the time of Pope Nicholas the Second, Pope Alexander the Second, Pope Gregory the Seventh, and other popes after them, so much labour to be taken, so many laws and decrees to be devised and enacted, for the abolishing of priests' marriage, if the same had been of such a long antiquity as they would make men believe
By these things considered it may appear, that this detraction of priests' marriage, by public law compelling them to single life, was never received for a full law, generally to be observed in the Church of Rome, but only since the beginning of Hildebrand; that is, since these five hundred years. About which time first is to be noted, that under Pope Leo, and this Pope Nicholas, Cranzius and certain German chroniclers do say, that simony and priests' marriage were prohibited. This Pope Leo the Ninth was A.D. 1049.
After him Pope Nicholas (to whom the aforesaid letter of Volusianus seemeth to be written) made this ordinance: "Let no one hear mass by a presbyter who, he knows without doubt, keeps a concubine or woman in secret." And presently, "Whatsoever priest, deacon, or sub-deacon, according to the constitution of Pope Leo our predecessor, concerning the chastity of clerks, shall openly marry a concubine, or shall not put her away being married: in the behalf of Almighty God," &c., "we utterly charge and forbid the same, that he sing no mass, nor read the gospel or epistle at mass, nor execute any Divine service," &c. And this was about A.D. 1059. Although, in this constitution of Pope Nicholas, this word "concubine" may be understood for no wife, but so as Gratian understandeth it in the seventeenth canon of the apostles, in these words, "For one besides a man's wife."
Then, after this Pope Nicholas, cometh Pope Alexander, and especially Pope Hildebrand, who do expound this concubine forbidden, for a wife; and such priests as be married, they expound them for Nicolaitanes; for so we read in the synod of Milan, under Pope Alexander the Second: "Those clergy are called Nicolaitanes, who, contrary to the rules of ecclesiastical chastity, mingle with women." And further it followeth in the same synod, "We no less condemn the heresy of the Nicolaitanes; and, in virtue of the same testimony, we promise to separate from the vile company of their wives, not merely priests, but also deacons and sub-deacons, to the utmost of our power."
And moreover it followeth upon the same, "I do accurse all heresies extolling themselves against the holy catholic and apostolic church; but especially and namely, the heresy of simony: and in like manner the abominable heresy of the Nicolaitanes, which impudently barketh, that the ministers of the holy altar may and ought to use wives lawfully, as well as laymen," &c. And thus much concerning the synod of Milan, under Pope Alexander the Second, A.D. 1067.
Next after this Alexander rose up Pope Hildebrand, of all others the chiefest and most principal enemy against priests' marriage. For whereas all other approved canons and councils were contented that any clergyman, having a wife before his entering into his ministry, might enjoy the liberty of his marriage, so that he married not a widow, or a known harlot, or kept a concubine, or were twice married; now cometh in Pope Hildebrand, making priests' marriage to be heresy, and further enacting, that "whatsoever clerk, deacon, or minister had a wife, whatsoever she was, maid or other, either before his orders, or after, should utterly put her from him, or else forsake his ministry," &c.
Although, notwithstanding, the greatest part of ecclesiastical ministers, seeing this strange doctrine and proceedings, (which St. Paul expressly calleth the doctrine of devils,) did what they could to withstand the same: of whom Lambert of Aschaffenburg thus writeth: "Against this decree, the whole number of the clergy did vehemently storm and grudge, crying out upon him as a pernicious heretic, and one that maintained fantastical doctrine: who, forgetting what the Lord saith, All men cannot take this word; he that can take it, let him take it; and also what the apostle saith, Whoso cannot otherwise contain, let him marry; better it is to marry than to burn; yet, notwithstanding, would he bind men to live like angels: who, if he continued as he began, they would (they said) sooner forsake the order of priesthood, than their order of matrimony," &c.
This Hildebrand, all this notwithstanding, yet ceased not still to call upon them, and to send to the bishops every where to execute his commandment with all severity; threatening to lay the apostolical censure upon them, if otherwise they showed not their diligence therein to the uttermost. This was A.D. 1074. Of the same Hildebrand, Ra- dulph also writing, hath these words: "Pope Gregory the Seventh, called Hildebrand, holding a synod, accursed such as committed simony, and removed married priests from saying service; forbidding also the laymen to hear their mass, after a new and strange example; and, as many thought, after an inconsiderate prejudice, against the sentence of holy fathers."
And thus much for the antiquity of bringing in the single life of priests, which, first springing from the time of Pope Nicholas and Alexander the Second, began first with a custom, and afterwards was brought into a law, chiefly by Pope Hildebrand, and so spread from Italy into other countries, and at length into England also; albeit not without much ado, as ye shall hear, the Lord willing.
In the mean while, as Pope Nicholas and Hildebrand were busy at Rome, so Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, likewise, was doing here in England about the same matter; although he began not altogether so roughly as Pope Hildebrand did, for so it appeared by his council holden at Winchester; where, though he inhibited such as were prebendaries of cathedral churches to have wives, yet did he permit, in his decree, that such priests as dwelt in towns and villages, having wives, should retain them still, and not be compelled to be separate from them; and they that had none, should be inhibited to have: enjoining, moreover, the bishops thus to foresee hereafter, that they presumed not to admit into orders any priests or deacons, unless they should first make a solemn profession to have no wives.
And here, to note by the way of the said Lanfranc, for all his glorious gay show of his monkish virginity and single life, yet he escaped not altogether so unspotted for his part, but that the story of Matthew Paris, writing of Paul of Caen, whom Lanfranc preferred so gladly to be abbot of St. Alban's, thus reporteth of him: "Paul, a monk of Caen, and nephew of the archbishop Lanfranc, yea, as some say further, more near in blood to him than so," &c.
Then, after Lanfranc, came Anselm into the see of Canterbury, who, taking to him a stouter stomach, more fiercely and eagerly laboured this matter, in abrogating utterly the marriage of priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and of the universal clergy; not permitting (as Lanfranc did) priests that had wives in villages and towns to keep them still, but utterly commanding, and that under great pain, not only priests and deacons, but sub-deacons also, (which is against the council of Lateran,) who were already married, to be separated, and that none should be received into orders hereafter, without profession of perpetual chastity.
And yet notwithstanding, for all this great blustering and thundering of this Romish ?ισογαμος [Greek:misogamos] ,the priests, yet still holding their own as well as they could, gave not much place to his unlawful injunction, but kept still their wives almost two hundred years after; refusing and resisting of long time the yoke of that servile bondage, to keep still their freedom from such vowing, professing, and promising, as may well appear by those priests of York, of whom Gerard, archbishop of York, speaketh, writing to Anselm in these words
"I much desire the purity of my clergymen: howbeit, except it be in very few, I find in them the deafness of the serpent, aspis, and the inconstancy of Proteus, that the poet's fable spake of. With their stinging tongues they cast out some-while threats, somewhile taunts and rebukes. But this grieveth me less in them that be further off. This grieveth me most of all, that they that be of mine own church, as in mine own bosom, and prebendaries of mine own see, contemn our canons, and argue, like sophistical disputers, against the statutes of our council. The prebendaries who inordinately have been taken into orders heretofore, without making vow or profession, refuse utterly to make any profession to me. And they that be priests or deacons, having married before openly wives or concubines, will not be removed, for any reverence, from the altar. And when I call upon any to receive order, stiffly they deny to profess chastity in their ordering," &c.
Thus, for all the rigorous austerity of this Anselm, enforcing his decree made at London against the marriage of priests, yet the same had no great success, either in his lifetime, or after his life. For although sundry priests, during his lifetime, were compelled by his extremity to renounce their wives, yet many denied to obey him.
Divers were contented rather to leave their benefices than their wives. A great number were permitted by King Henry, for money, to enjoy their wives; which was so chargeable unto them, saith Eadmer, in his fourth book, that at length two hundred priests, in their albes and priestly vestments, came barefoot to the king's palace, crying to him for mercy; and especially making their suit to the queen, who, using much compassion towards them, yet durst not make any intercession for them.
Anselm, at this time, was over the sea, making his voyage to the pope; who, hearing hereof, writeth to the king, declaring that such forfeitures appertained nothing to him, but only unto bishops, and in their default, to the archbishops: whereof read more before. So wilful was the blind zeal of this prelate, against all reason, against nature itself, against the example of his fore-elders, against public custom of his own time, against the doctrine of the apostles, the constitution of councils, against all honesty, and all God's forebode, that he, neither at the commiseration of the king, nor at the crying out and public dolour of so many priests, nor yet moved with the letters of Pope Paschal himself, who, putting him in remembrance of so many priests' sons, willed him to consider the necessity of the time, would yet nothing relent from his stubborn purpose unto his latter end: in whom, as many great crimes may justly be noted, so of all others this is most principally in him to be reprehended, for that he, seeing and perceiving what sodomitical fedity and abomination, with other inconveniences, did spring incontinently upon this his diabolical doctrine, yet, for all that, would not give over his pestilent purpose. For so the story recordeth, that when Anselm had established his synodal constitution, in separating priests from their wives, (which was A.D. 1103,) not long after, rumours and complaints were brought to him, of the execrable vice of sodomitry, which then began especially to reign in the clergy, after this inhibition of matrimony. Whereupon Anselm was constrained to call another council at Paul's, within London, to provide for this mischief; in which council this was made: "All them that commit the ungracious sin of sodomitry, and them also that assist them in their wicked purpose, with grievous curse we do condemn, till such time as they shall deserve absolution by penance and confession," &c.
Thus ye have heard what abominable wickedness ensued after priests were debarred from marriage, and what sore punishment was devised, by this maidenly prelate, for extirpating that sinful wickedness; in the abolishing whereof, more wisely he should have removed away the occasion whereof he was the author himself, than by penalty to suppress it; which he could never do.
Now let us hear further, what followed in that worthy council: "It is enacted, that whosoever shall be publicly known to be guilty hereof, if he be a religious person, he shall from henceforth be promoted to no degree of honour, and that degree which he hath already, shall be taken from him. If he be a lay person, he shall be deprived of all his freedom within the whole realm of England, and that none under a bishop shall presume to assoil such as have been monks professed, of that trespass. It is also enacted, that every Sunday in the year, and in every parish church in England, this general curse aforesaid shall be published and renewed."
Is not here, trow you, good division of justice, that lawful wedlock of priests can find no grace or pardon, yea, is made now heresy, whereas adultery and horrible sodomitry are washed away with a little confession? And see yet what followeth more. After that this penal curse had now gone abroad, and been published in churches, the monks, perceiving this matter to touch them somewhat near, whispered in Anselm's ear, persuading him that the publication of that act might grow to great danger and inconvenience, in opening the vice which before was not known; in such sort, that in short time after that curse was called in again.
And so cursed sodomitry and adultery passed free without punishment, or word spoken against it; where, contrarily, godly matrimony could find no mercy.
Now, what reasons and arguments this Anselm sucked out of the court of Rome, to prove the matrimony of priests unlawful, were it not for cumbering the reader with tediousness, here would be showed. Briefly, the chief grounds of all his long long disputation in his book entitled, Offendiculum Sacerdotum, between the master and scholar, come to this effect.
Argument. Priests of the old law, during the time of their ministration, abstained from their wives:
Ergo, Priests in the time of the gospel, which every day minister at the altar, must never have any wives.
Argument. Moses, when he should sanctify the people, going up to the hill, commanded them to sequester themselves from their wives three days:
Ergo, Priests that must be sanctified to the Lord always, ought to live chastely always without wives. Argument. David, before he should eat of the shew-bread, was asked whether he and his company had been without the company of their wives three days:
Ergo, Priests that be continually attending upon the table and sacraments of the Lord, ought never to have company with any such.
Argument. Uzzah, which put his hand to the ark, was slain therefore, as it is thought, because he lay with his wife the night before:
Ergo, Priests whose hands be always occupied about the Lord's service, must be pure from the company of wife, or any woman.
Argument. Nadab and Abihu, which sacrificed with strange fire, were devoured therefore, because they companied with their wives the same night:
Ergo, Priests and sacrificers must have no wives to company withal.
Argument. The priests of the Gentiles in old time, when they sacrificed to their idols, are said to lie from their wives:
Ergo, Much more the priests that sacrifice to the living God, ought so to do.
Argument. Christ was born of a virgin, Christ lived ever a virgin, and commandeth them that will serve him to follow him:
Ergo, Priests that have wives, are not meet to serve him.
Text. 1 Cor. vii. 2. Let every man have his own wife, for avoiding of fornication.
Exposition. "That is meant and granted of the apostle only to laymen."
Text. 1 Cor. vii. 9. It is better to marry than to burn.
Exposition. "It is a lighter fault to marry one lawful wife, than to be consumed with concupiscence of strange women."
Text. 1 Tim. iii. 2. A bishop ought to be un-reprovable, the husband of one wife, &c.
Exposition. "The apostle here commandeth, that none should presume to be priest, but he who, being a layman before, hath had no more but one wife: and after he be made priest, not to couple himself any more with her, but only to minister to her things necessary for her living," &c.
And finally, after these things thus disputed and alleged, the said Anselm concludeth the matter with this final censure and determination, as followeth: "In that these men (he speaketh of married priests) do put on the holy vestments, or do touch the holy vessels, they do lay violent hands upon Christ. And in that they presume impudently to offer, they do in a manner visibly crucify Christ upon the altar. The ministry of such is read to be a persecution, or rather a crucifying of Christ," &c.
Lo! here, the mighty reasons, and strong-timbered arguments, and the deep divinity, wherewith this Anselm, and all others that draw after his string, go about to impugn the lawfulness of priests' marriage. Because the Israelites, when they should appear before the Lord at Mount Sinai, were commanded to keep from their wives three days; and because the priests of the old law in doing their function, as their turn came about, refrained the company of their wives for that present time; ergo, priests of the new law must at no time have any wives, but live always single, &c.
And why might not Anselm as well argue thus: The people of Israel, approaching to the mount, were commanded in like sort to wash their garments: ergo, priests of the new law, which are occupied every day about the altar, ought every day to wash all their garments.
Moses, approaching to the presence of the Lord in the bush, was commanded to put off his shoes: ergo, priests of the new law, which are ever approaching to the presence of their God, should never wear shoes.
Of King David and his company, which but once in all their life did eat of the shew-bread, it was demanded by the high priest, whether they had kept them from their wives three days before: ergo, kings and the people of the New Testament, which every year eat the bread of the Lord's board, more precious than ever was that panis propositionis, should abide all their life wifeless and unspoused.
But here Anselm should have considered how by these scriptures we are taught not to put away our wives, but wisely to distinguish times, when and how to have them. For, as Solomon teacheth that there is a time for all things, so is there a time to marry, and a time not to marry; a time to resort, a time to withdraw; a time of company, a time of abstinence and prayer, which St. Paul calleth, προσκαιρον [Greek:proskairon]; and as he speaketh of a time of prayer and abstinence, so he speaketh also of a time of resorting together, and addeth the cause why: Lest Satan, saith he, tempt you for your incontinency.
And thus should Anselm, with Solomon and Paul, have considered the order and distinction of times. Oftentimes in Scripture, that is commanded to some, and at some time, which extendeth not to others; and that which for a time is convenient, is not, by and by, always convenient: neither that which for a time is forbidden in Scripture, is therefore forbidden for ever: neither ought special examples to break general orders: neither again do extraordinary prohibitions make a universal rule.
They were then commanded to sequester themselves from their wives at the coming of the Lord: not that the coming of the Lord did break wedlock, but his commandment did bind obedience; and therefore obeyed they, because they were commanded. And yet were they not commanded to put away their wives, but only to separate themselves for a time; and that not for months and years, but only for three days: which abstinence also was enjoined them, not in the presence, nor at the appearing, of the Lord, but three days before his descending to them on the hill. Whereby it appeareth that the use of their wedlock neither displeased God, being present, nor yet did drive his presence away, when he was come; for he remained there present amongst them, on the hill, forty days notwithstanding.
Furthermore, this time of separation from their wives, as it was expressly commanded to them of God, so was it not long nor tedious, but such as was neither hard for them, nor inconvenient for the time: giving us thereby to understand, how to use separation in wedlock wisely, that is, neither at every time, nor yet too long.
For as they do not well, who never follow the time of St. Paul, called προσκαιρον [Greek:proskairon], for abstinence and prayer; so do thby worse, which fall into that παρακαιρον [Greek:parakairon], whereof St. Paul again giveth us warning. But worst of all do they, who so separate their wives clean from them, and so abjure all matrimony, that they fall headlong into the devil's pitfall of fornication and all filthy abomination. And therefore the Lord, foreseeing the peril thereof, said unto the people, Be ye ready by the third day, and approach not your wives; appointing indeed a separation from their wives; but yet, knowing the infirmity of man, he limiteth the time withal, adding, by the third day, and goeth no further. He saith not, as Anselm said in the council of Winchester, Jurabunt presbyteri, diaconi, et subdiaconi, uxores suas omnino abjurare, nec ullam deinceps cum iis conversationem habere, sub restrictione censuræ, &c.
The like order also was taken by the Lord with the priests of the Old Testament, who, although they were enjoined to withdraw themselves from their wives during the times of their priestly service, yet, for avoiding fornication, they were permitted to have their wives notwithstanding. So that both their absenting from their wives served to sanctification, and their resorting again unto them served to avoid adultery and fornication.
But here our priestly prelates will object, that because they be continually conversant about the priestly function, therefore a perpetual sanctification is of them specially required. Whereunto I answer, First, The priestly function of those high priests, sacrificing for the people in the old law, representeth only the function of Christ, the High Priest, sacrificing for the sins of the world, who truly and only performed that pure chastity in his sanctified body, which the law then in those priests prefigured.
Secondly, Speaking now of the priests of the New Testament, (and speaking properly,) the Scripture neither knoweth nor admitteth any priest to sacrifice to God for the sins of man, but only the High King and Priest, Christ Jesus.
Thirdly, Unto that Priest all others be but servants and ministers; of whom some be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some preachers having the gift of utterance, some interpreters and doctors having the gift of understanding, some deacons serving the Lord's board. The office of all whom chiefly consisteth in ministering the word, next in administering the sacraments.
Fourthly, Forasmuch as in these, principally above all others, pureness and sanctification of life is required, as much as, and more too, than was in the priests of the old law, from whom all fornication, adultery, incest, and uncleanness of life ought most to be banished; therefore, in these especially,above the priests of the old law, matrimony and spousage is most requisite and convenient, whosoever he be, which otherwise cannot contain; according to the apostle, saying, Let every one have his own wife.
Fifthly, Neither is this matrimony in these, any hinderance to their sanctification before God, but rather furthereth and helpeth their sanctification; forasmuch as where matrimony is not, there commonly reigneth adultery, fornication, and all kinds of filthiness; according to the true saying of Bernard, "Take from the church honourable marriage and the bed undefiled, shalt thou not replenish it with concubinaries, with incestuous persons, sodomitical vices, and finally with all kinds of beastly filthiness?"
The truth of which saying lacketh no kind of examples for confirmation, if we list here to ransack the lives of these glorious despisers of matrimony, even from Lanfranc, the first ringleader of this dance here in England, with Paulus, monk of Caen, his nephew, whom Matthew Paris misdoubted to be his own son, even to Stephen Gardiner with his gold locks, the author and work-master of these six articles. But to the reasons of Anselm hitherto sufficient; which, of themselves, be so frivolous and gross, that only to recite them is enough to confute the same.
Permitting therefore the rest to the discussing of divines, it shall suffice for our purpose, professing here to write stories, to declare and make manifest, by process of times and histories, that this cruel law, compelling ministers of the church to abjure matrimony, entered not into this land before Lanfranc, A.D. 1076, and Anselm his successor, as both may appear by the multitude of priests' sons lawfully begotten in matrimony, and succeeding in the churches here in England, testified by the epistle of Pope Paschal to Anselm before, and also may appear likewise by the council of Anselm, holden at Winchester, which partly was touched before, and now the full act we have more largely expressed, to be read and seen of all posterity.
And yet this unreasonable statute of Anselm, so diligently defended with sharp censures and penalties, had no such great speed, neither in the lifetime of the said Anselm, nor long after his death; but that divers priests notwithstanding still kept their wives, or after his death they returned to their wives again, through the sufferance of the then famous and learned king, named Henry Beauclerk, who something stayed the importunity of this monkish prelate, and willed the priests should keep both their wives and their churches, as they did before in Lanfranc's days.
Then, after Anselm, followed Radulph, archbishop of Canterbury, in whose time was no great stir against the priests that were married. About the time of this archbishop, King Henry the First called a council at London, where he obtained of the spiritualty a grant to have the punishment of married priests (which the spiritualty afterwards did much repent); whereby the priests, paying a certain sum to the king, were suffered to retain their wives still, as is above storied.
Next after this Radulph, then succeeded William Corbeil, surnamed De Turbine, who renewed again the constitution of Anselm against married priests, especially by the help of Johannes, priest, and cardinal of Crema, the pope's legate, sent the same time into England, A.D. 1125. Of which cardinal of Crema, because enough hath been before declared, how, after his stout replying, in the council of London, against the married state of priests, exclaiming what a shameful thing it was to rise from a polluted bed, to make Christ's body, the night following he was shamefully taken with a notable whore, &c., as is apparent before.
I will therefore pass over that matter, returning again to William the archbishop, who, with the cardinal legate aforesaid, although he busily occupied himself in reproving the matrimony of priests, insomuch that he would give them no longer respite to put away their wives but from Michaelmas to St. Andrew's day following, yet could he not bring his purpose to pass, but that the priests still continued with their wives by the king's leave, as the Saxon story plainly recordeth in these words: "This William, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops who were in England, did command, and yet all these decrees and biddings stood not: all held their wives by the king's leave, even so as they before did." So hard was this cause to be won, that the archbishop at length gave it over, and left the controversy wholly unto the king. Whereupon he decreed that the priests should remain with their wives still. And so continued they after that, in the time of Theobald after him, of Thomas Becket, Richard Baldwin, Stephen Langton, Richard, Edmund, Boniface, Peckham, and others, during well-near the time, after Anselm, of two hundred years.
And, lest the quarrelling adversaries, being peradventure disposed here to cavil, should object and say that such marriage amongst the spiritual men might be private and secret, but not openly known, nor quietly suffered by any law of this realm: to avoid, therefore, what may be by them objected, I thought it good, and as a thing neither impertinent nor unprofitable to this story, and for the further satisfying of the reader's mind herein, to infer and make known, by good record, not only that the liberty of marriage, amongst spiritual men, hath continued within this realm during the time aforesaid, to wit, two hundred years, or thereabouts, after Anselm; and that not in secret wise, but also openly; and being known, the same to be suffered, and lawfully allowed of, in such sort as both they, their wives, children, and assigns, might inherit and enjoy lands, tenements, and other hereditaments, by way of feoffment, deed of gift, or any other assurance, in such sort, manner, and form, as laymen, their heirs and assigns, at this day lawfully may do: as by divers writings and instruments, showed to us at the writing hereof, by divers men whose names hereafter follow, (some to this day remaining fair sealed, some by antiquity and long keeping much worn, and their seals mouldered and wasted,) is very evident and manifest to be seen.
First, about the year of our Lord 944, the profession of single life, and displacing of marriage, began to come into example here in England by reason of St. Benedict's monks, which then began to increase; and also about the time of King Edgar, especially by the means of Oswald, archbishop of York, Odo and Dunstan, archbishops of Canterbury, and Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester: so that in divers cathedral churches and bishops' sees, monks, with their professed singleness of life, crept in, and married ministers, (who were then called secular priests,) with their wives, out of sundry churches were dispossessed, not from wives, but only from their places: and yet not in all churches, but only in certain, whereof read before.
Not long after that, about the time of Pope Nicholas the Second, A.D. 1059, of Alexander, and Hildebrand, came into the see of Canterbury another monk, called Lanfranc, who also, being a promoter of this professed chastity, made the decree more general, that all prebendaries being married, in any churches, should be displaced; yet the priests in towns and villages should not be compelled to leave their married wives, unless they would.
Last of all followed monkish Anselm, A.D. 1104; by whom was made this law at Winchester aforesaid, that priests, archdeacons, deacons, and subdeacons, which had wives and spiritual living, should be put from them both; and also that none after should be admitted to their orders, but should first profess single life, that is, to live without wives. And thus much concerning priests' marriage forbidden.
The sixth article; touching auricular confession.
Of confession, three kinds we find in the Scriptures expressed and approved. The first is our confession privately or publicly made unto God alone; and this confession is necessary for all men at all times. Wherefore St. John speaketh, If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive, &c.
The second is the confession which is openly made in the face of the congregation. And this confession, also, hath place when any such thing is committed, whereof riseth a public offence and slander to the church of God; as examples there be of penitentiaries in the primitive church, as Melchiades and others, &c.
The third kind of confession is that which we make privately to our brother. And this confession is requisite, when either we have injured or by any way damnified our neighbour, whether he be rich or poor; whereof speaketh the Gospel, Go and reconcile thyself first unto thy neighbour, &c. Also St. James, Confess yourselves one to another. Or else this confession may also have place, when any such thing lieth in our conscience, in the opening whereof we stand in need of the counsel and comfort of some faithful brother. But herein must we use discretion in avoiding these points of blind superstition: first, that we put therein no necessity for remission of our sins, but that we use therein our own voluntary discretion, according as we see it expedient for the better satisfying of our troubled mind. The second is, that we be not bound to any enumeration of our sins. The third, that we tie not ourselves to any one person, more than to another, but that we use therein our free choice, who we think can give us the best spiritual counsel in the Lord.
But as there is nothing in the church so good and so ghostly, which, through peevish superstition either hath not, or may not be perverted, so this confession, also, hath not lacked its abuses. First, the secret confession to God alone, as it hath been counted insufficient, so hath it been but lightly esteemed by many. The public confession to the congregation hath been turned to a standing in a sheet, or else hath been bought out for money. Furthermore, the secret breaking of a man's mind to some faithful or spiritual brother, in disclosing his infirmity or temptations, for counsel and godly comfort, hath been turned into auricular confession in a priest's ear, for assoiling of his sins. In which auricular confession, first, of the free liberty of the penitent in uttering his griefs, they have made a mere necessity, and that unto salvation and remission of sins. Secondly, they require withal an enumeration and a full recital of all sins whatsoever, both great and small. Also besides the necessity of this ear-confession, they add thereto a prescription of time, at least once in the year, for all men, whether they repent or no, to be confessed; making, moreover, of the same a sacrament. And lastly, whereas before it stood in the voluntary choice of a man, to open his heart to what spiritual brother he thought best, for an easement of his grief, and for ghostly consolation, they bind him to a priest, (unless some friar come by the way to be his ghostly father,) to whom he must needs confess all, whatsoever he hath done; and though he lack the key of knowledge, and, peradventure, of good discretion, yet none must have power to assoil him, but he, through the authority of his keys.
And this manner of confession, they say, was instituted by Christ and his apostles, and hath been used in the church ever since to this present day: which is a most manifest untruth, and easy by stories to be convinced.
For Socrates, lib. v. c. 19, and Zozimus, lib. vii. c. 16, in the Book of Ecclesiastical History, do give us plainly to understand, that this auricular confession never came of Christ, but only of men.
Item, In the time of Tertullian, Beatus Rhenanus testifieth, that there was no mention made of this auricular confession: which may well be gathered hereof, for that Tertullian, writing upon repentance, maketh no mention at all thereof.
Item, In the time of Chrysostom, it appeareth there was no such assoiling at the priest's hands, by these words, where he saith, "I require thee not that thou shouldest confess thy sins to thy fellow servant. Tell them unto God, who careth for them."
Item, The said Chrysostom, in another place, writing upon repentance and confession, "Let the examination of thy sins and thy judgment," saith he, "be secret and close without witness; let God only see and hear thy confession," &c.
Item, In the time of Ambrose, the gloss of the pope's own decrees reporteth, that "this institution of penance was not then begun, which now, in our days, is in use."
Item, It is truly said, therefore, of the gloss in another place, where he testifieth that "this institution of penance began rather of some tradition of the universal church, than of any authority of the New Testament, or of the Old," &c.
The like also testifieth Erasmus, writing upon Jerome, in these words, "It appeareth that in the time of Jerome, this secret confession of sins was not yet ordained, which the church afterwards did institute wholesomely, if our priests and laymen would use it rightly. But herein, divines, not considering advisedly what the old doctors do say, are much deceived. That which they say of general and open confession, they wrest, by and by, to this privy and secret kind of confession, which is far diverse, and of another sort," &c.
The like testimony may also be taken of Gratian himself, who, speaking of confession used then in his time, leaveth the matter in doubtful suspense, neither pronouncing on the one side nor on the other, but referreth the matter to the free judgment of the readers, which the Act of these Six Articles here enjoineth as necessary, under pain of death.
Briefly, in few words to search out and notify the very certain time when this article of ear-confession first crept into the church, and what antiquity it hath, in following the judgment of Johannes Scotus and of Antoninus, it may well be supposed that the institution thereof took its first origin by Pope Innocent the Third, in his council of Lateran, A.D. 1215; for so we read in Johannes Scotus: Præcipua autem specificatio hujus præcepti invenitur in illo capite, Extrav. de pœnit. et Remiss. Omnis utriusque sexes, &c. And after, in the same article, it followeth, For at the first institution of the church it does not appear that there were distinctive priests. By which words it appeared that there was no institution of any such confession specified before the constitution of Pope Innocent the Third.
But more plainly the same may appear by the words of Antoninus. "Pope Innocent the Third, in his general council aforesaid, touching the sacraments of confession and the communion, made this constitution, as followeth: 'That every faithful person, both man and woman, after they come to the years of discretion, shall confess all their sins by themselves alone, at least once a year, to their own ordinary priest; and shall endeavour to fulfil, by their own strength, their penance to them enjoined, &c.; or else, who so doth not, shall neither have entrance into the church, being alive, nor, being dead, shall enjoy Christian burial. Wherefore this wholesome constitution we will to be published often in the churches, lest any men, through the blindness of ignorance, may make to themselves a cloak of excuse,"' &c. And thus much hitherto we have alleged, by occasion incident, of these six articles, for some part of confutation of the same, referring the reader, for the rest, to the more exquisite tractation of divines, who professedly write upon those matters.
In the mean time, forasmuch as there is extant in Latin a certain learned epistle of Philip Melancthon, written to King Henry the Eighth, against these six wicked articles above specified, I thought not to defraud the reader of the fruit thereof, for his better understanding and instruction. The tenor and effect of his epistle translated into English thus followeth:
"Most famous and noble prince! there were certain emperors of Rome, as Adrian, Pius, and afterwards the two brethren, Verus and Marcus, which did receive gently the apologies and defences of the Christians; which so prevailed with those moderate princes, that they assuaged their wrath against the Christians, and obtained mitigation of their cruel decrees: even so, forasmuch as there is a decree set forth of late in your realm, against that doctrine which we profess as both godly and necessary for the church, I beseech your most honourable Majesty favourably both to read and consider this our complaint; especially seeing I have not only for our own cause, but much rather for the common safeguard of the church, directed this my writing unto you. For, seeing those heathen princes did both admit and allow the defences of the Christians, how much more is it beseeming for a king of Christian profession, and such a one as is occupied in the studies of holy histories, to hear the complaints and admonitions of the godly in the church! And so much the more willingly I write unto you, for that you have so favourably heretofore received my letters with a singular declaration of your benevolence towards me. This also giveth me some hope, that you will not unwillingly read these things, forasmuch as I see that the very phrase and manner of writing do plainly declare, not yourself, but only the bishops to be the authors of those articles and decrees there set forth: albeit, through their wily and subtle sophistications, they have induced you (as it happened to many other worthy princes besides you) to condescend and assent unto them; as the rulers persuaded Darius, being otherwise a wise and just prince, to cast Daniel unto the lions.
"It was never unseemly for a good prince to correct and reform cruel and rigorous laws, to have (as it is commonly said) a second view and oversight of things before passed and decreed.
"The wise Athenians made a decree, when the city of Mitylene was recovered, (which before had forsaken them,) that all the citizens there should be slain, and the city utterly destroyed: whereupon there was a ship sent forth with the same commandment to the army. On the next morrow, the matter was brought again before the same judges, and, after better advice taken, there was a contrary decree made, that the whole multitude should not be put to the sword, but a few of the chief authors of their rebellion should be punished, and the city saved. There was, therefore, another ship sent forth with a countermand in all haste to overtake and prevent their former ship, as also it happened: neither was that noble city, which then ruled and reigned far and wide, ashamed to alter and reform their former decree. Many such examples there be, the most part whereof I am sure are well known unto you. But in the church especially, princes have many times altered and reformed their decrees, as Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. There was a decree set forth in the name of Ahasuerus, concerning the killing of the Jews; that decree was afterwards called in again. So did Adrian and Antoninus, also, correct and reform their decrees.
"Therefore, although there be a decree set forth in England, which threateneth strange punishments and penalties, disagreeing from the custom of the true church, and swerving from the rules and canons hereof; yet I thought it not unseemly for us to become petitioners unto you, for the mitigation of these your sharp and severe proceedings; the which, when I consider it, grieve my mind, not only for the peril and danger of them that profess the same doctrine that we do, but, also, I do lament for your cause, that they should make you an instrument and a minister of their bloody tyranny and impiety. And partly, also, I lament to see the course of Christian doctrine perverted, superstitious rites confirmed, whoredom and lecherous lusts maintained.
"Besides all this, I hear of divers good men, excelling both in doctrine and virtue, to be there detained in prison, as Latimer, Cromer, Shaxton, and others, to whom I wish strength, patience, and consolation in the Lord. Unto whom, albeit there can nothing happen more luckily or more gloriously, than to give their lives in the confession of the manifest truth and verity; yet would I wish that you should not distain your hands with the blood of such men; neither would I wish such lanthorns of light in your church to be extinguished; neither these spiteful and malicious Pharisees, the enemies of Christ, to have their wills so much fulfilled. Neither again would I wish that you should so much serve the will and desire of that Romish antichrist, which laugheth in his sleeve to see you now to take part with him against us, hoping well, by the help of his bishops, to recover again his former possession, which of late, by your virtues and godly means, he lost. He seeth your bishops, for the time, loyal unto you, and obsequious to obey your will; but, in heart, he seeth them linked unto him, in a perpetual bond of fidelity and obedience. In all these feats and practices the Romish bishops are not to seek. They see what great storms and blasts heretofore they have passed by bearing and suffering: they see that great things be brought to pass in time.
"Many good and learned men in Germany conceived of you great hope, that, by your authority and example, other princes also would be provoked to surcease, likewise, from their unjust cruelty, and better to advise themselves for the reformation of errors crept into the church; trusting that you would be as a guide and captain of that godly purpose and enterprise. But now, seeing these your contrary proceedings, we are utterly discouraged; the indignation of other princes is confirmed; the stubbornness of the wicked is augmented; and old and great errors are thereby established.
"But here your bishops will say again, no doubt, that they defend no errors, but the very truth of God's holy word. And although they be not ignorant that they strive in very deed both against the true word of God, and the apostolic church, yet, like crafty sophisters, they can find out fair glosses, pretending a goodly show outwardly, to colour their errors and abuses.
"And this sophistication not only now in England is had in great admiration, and esteemed for great wisdom; neither in Rome only reigneth, where the Cardinals Contarini, Sadolet, and Cardinal Pole, go about to paint out abuses with new colours and goodly glosses; but also in Germany, divers noblemen are likewise corrupted and seduced with the like sophistication: and therefore I nothing marvel that so many there, with you, be deceived with these crafty jugglings. And although you, for your part, lack neither learning nor judgment, yet sometimes we see it so happen, that wise men also be carried away, by fair and colourable persuasions, from the verity. The saying of Simonides is praiseworthy: 'Opinion,' saith he, 'many times perverteth verity.' And many times false opinion hath outwardly a fairer show than simple truth; and especially it so happeneth in cases of religion, where the devil transformeth himself into an angel of light, setting forth, with all colourable and goodly shows, false opinions. How fair seemeth the gloss of Samosatenus, upon the Gospel of St. John, In the beginning was the Word, &c.! and yet is it full of impiety. But I omit foreign examples.
"In these articles of yours, how many things are craftily and deceitfully devised! 'Confession,' saith the article, 'is necessary, and ought to be retained.' And why say they not plainly, that the rehearsing and . numbering up of sins, is necessary by God's word? This the bishops knew well to be very false, and therefore, in the article, they placed their words generally, to blear the eyes of the simple people; that when they hear confession to be necessary, they should thereby think the enumeration of sins to be necessary by God's word.
"The like legerdemain, also, they use in the article of private masses, albeit the beginning of the said article containeth a manifest untruth, where they say that it is necessary to retain private masses. What man in all the primitive church, more than four hundred years after the apostles' time, did ever so say or think, at what time there were no such private masses used? But afterwards, in the process of the article, follow other blind sophistications, to make the people believe that they should receive by them divine consolations and benefits. And why do they not plainly declare what consolations and benefits those be? The bishops here do name no application and merit, for they know that they cannot be defended. Yet they daily, with glossing words, whereby they may wind out and escape, if any should improve their application. And yet, notwithstanding, they would have this their application to be understood and believed of the people. They would have this idolatrous persuasion confirmed, to wit, that this sacrifice doth merit unto others remission a pœna et culpa; release of all calamities, and also gain and lucre in common traffic; and, to conclude, whatsoever else the careful heart of man doth desire.
"The like sophistication they use also, where they say that priests' marriage is against the law of God. They are not ignorant what St. Paul saith, A bishop ought to be the husband of one wife: and therefore they know right well that marriage is permitted to priests by the law of God. But, because now they say, they have made a vow, they go craftily to work, and do not say that priests for their vows' sake cannot marry, but plainly give out the article after this sort, that marriage of priests is utterly against the law of God. Again, what impudency and tyranny do they show moreover, when they compel marriages to be dissolved, and command those to be put to death, which will not put away their wives, and renounce their matrimony! whereas the vow of priests, if it had any force at all, should extend no further, but only to put them from the ministry, if they would marry. And this, no doubt, is the true meaning of the councils and canons.
"O cursed bishops! O impudent and wicked Winchester! who, under these colourable fetches, thinkest to deceive the eyes of Christ, and the judgments of all the godly in the whole world. These things have I written, that you may understand the crafty sleights, and so judge of the purpose and policy, of these bishops. For if they would simply and heartily search for the truth, they would not use these crafty collusions and deceitful jugglings.
"This sophistication, as it is in all other affairs pernicious and odious, so, above all things, most specially it is to be avoided in matters of religion; wherein it is a heinous impiety to corrupt or pervert the pure word of God. And hereof the devil, which is called Diabolus, specially taketh his name, because he wresteth the word of God out of men's hearts by such false juggling and sophistical cavillations. And why do not these bishops, as well, plainly utter and confess, that they will abide no reformation of doctrine and religion in the church, for that it shall make against their dignity, pomp, and pleasure? Why do not their adherents also, and such as take their part, plainly say that they will retain still the present state of the church, for their own profit, tranquillity, and maintenance? Thus to confess, were true and plain dealing.
"Now, while they pretend, hypocritically, a false zeal and love to the truth and sincere religion, they come in with their blind sophistications, wherewith they cover their errors. For their articles set forth in this act be erroneous, false, and impious, how glorious soever they seem outwardly. Wherefore it were to be wished, that these bishops would remember God's terrible threatening in the prophet Isaiah: Woe to you, saith he, which make wicked laws! What will you do in the day of visitation and calamity to come? &c. Woe unto you that call evil good! &c.
"Now, to come more near to the matter which we have in hand, this cannot be denied, but that long and horrible darkness hath been in the church of Christ. Men's traditions not only have been a yoke to good men's consciences, but also (which is much worse) they have been reputed for God's holy service, to the great disworship of God. There were vows, things bequeathed to churches, diversity of garments, choice of meats, long babbling prayers, pardons, image-worship, manifest idolatry committed to saints, the true worship of God and true good works not known. Briefly, little difference there was betwixt the Christian and heathen religion, as still is yet at Rome to this present day to be seen. The true doctrine of repentance, of remission of sins which cometh by the faith of Christ, of justification, of faith, of the difference between the law and the gospel, of the right use of the sacraments, was hid and unknown. The keys were abused to the maintenance of the pope's usurped tyranny. Ceremonies of men's invention were much preferred before civil obedience and duties done in the commonwealth.
"Unto these errors, moreover, was joined a corrupt life, full of all lecherous and filthy lusts, by reason of the law forbidding priests to marry. Out of this miserable darkness, God something hath begun to deliver his church, through the restoring again of true doctrine. For so we must needs acknowledge, that these so great and long-festered errors have not been disclosed and brought to light by the industry of man; but this light of the gospel is only the gift of God, who now again hath appeared unto the church. For so doth the Holy Ghost prophesy before, how in the latter times the godly should sustain sore and perilous conflicts with antichrist, fore-showing that he should come, environed with a mighty and strong army of bishops, hypocrites, and princes; that he should fight against the truth, and slay the godly.
"And that now all these things are so come to pass it is most evident, and cannot be denied. The tyranny of the bishop of Rome hath partly brought errors into the church, partly hath confirmed them, and now maintaineth the same with force and violence, as Daniel well foreshowed; and much we rejoice to see you divided from him, hoping and trusting well, that the Church of England would now flourish. But your bishops be not divided from the Romish antichrist: his idolatry, errors, and vices they defend and maintain with tooth and nail; for the articles now passed are craftily picked out. They confirm all human traditions, in that they establish solemn vows, single life, and auricular confession. They uphold and advance not only their pride and authority, but all errors withal, in retaining the private mass.
"Thus have they craftily provided that no reformation can take any place, that their dignity and wealth may still be upholden. And this to be the purpose of the bishops, experience itself doth plainly teach us. Now what man will not lament to see the glory of Christ thus to be defaced? for, as I said before, this matter concerneth not only these articles which be there enacted, but all other articles of sound doctrine are likewise overthrown, if such traditions of men shall be reputed as necessary, and to be retained. For why doth Christ say, For they worship me in vain with the precepts of men? or why doth St. Paul so oft detest men's traditions?
It is no light offence to set up new kinds of worshipping and serving of God without his word, or to defend the same: such presumption God doth horribly detest, which will be known in his word only. He will have none other religions invented by man's device; for else all sorts of religions, of all nations, might be approved and allowed. Lean not, saith he, to thine own wisdom. But he sent Christ, and commanded us to hear him, and not the invention of subtle and politic heads, which apply religion to their own lucre and commodity.
"Furthermore, private masses, vows, the single life of priests, numbering up of sins to the priest, with other things more, being but mere ordinances of men, are used for God's true service and worship. For although the supper of the Lord was truly instituted by Christ, yet the private mass is a wicked profanation of the Lord's supper: for in the canon, what a corruption is contained in this, where it is said, that Christ is offered, and that the work itself is a sacrifice, which redeemeth the quick and the dead? These things were never ordained of Christ; yea, manifold ways they are repugnant to the gospel. Christ willeth not himself to be offered up of priests, neither can the work of the offerer, or of the receiver, by any means be a sacrifice. This is manifest idolatry, and overthroweth the true doctrine of faith, and the true use of the sacraments. By faith in Christ we are justified, and not by any work of the priests. And the supper is ordained that the minister should distribute to others, to the intent that they, repenting for their sins, should be admonished firmly to believe the promises of the gospel to pertain unto them. Here is set a plain testimony before us, that we are made the members of Christ, and washed by his blood. And this is the true use of that supper which is ordained in the gospel, and was observed in the primitive church three hundred years and more, from the which we ought not to be removed: for it is plain impiety to transfer the Lord's institution to any other use, as we are taught by the second commandment. Wherefore these private masses, forasmuch as they swerve from the right institution of Christ manifold ways, as by oblation, sacrifice, application, and many other ways besides, they are not to be retained, but to be abolished. Flee, saith St. Paul, from all idolatry. In these private masses much idolatry is committed, which we see our bishops now so stoutly to defend; and no marvel for, in the latter times, the Scripture plainly showeth that great idolatry shall reign in the church of God; as Christ himself also signifieth, saying, When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which is foretold of the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, he that readeth, let him understand. And Daniel saith, And he shall worship the God Mauzzim in his place, and shall adore the God whom his fathers knew not, with gold, silver, and precious stones. Both these places do speak of mass.
"This kind of worship and horrible profanation of the sacrament, God abhorreth: for how many and sundry kinds of manifest impiety are here committed in this one action of the mass! First, it is set forth to sale. Secondly, they that are unworthy are compelled to receive, whether they will or no. Thirdly, it is applied as meritorious and satisfactory for the quick and the dead. Fourthly, many things are promised thereby, as prosperous navigation, remedies against diseases both for man and beast, with other infinite more. These be most manifest and notorious abominations. But besides these, there be others, also, no less to be reprehended, which the simple people do not so plainly see. Such worshipping and serving of God is not to be set up after the fantasy of man.
"Wherefore they do wickedly, when they offer sacrifice to God without his commandment: for when of this work they make a sacrifice, they imagine that private masses are to be done, because God would be worshipped after this sort. And we see that masses are bought with gold and silver, great riches, and sumptuous charges: also that the sacrament is carried about in gold and silver to be worshipped; whereas the sacrament was never ordained for any such purpose. Wherefore, seeing the commandment of God biddeth to flee from idolatry, private masses are not to be maintained. And I marvel that they say that such private masses are necessary to be retained, when it is evident that, in the old time, there were none such. Shall we think that things pertaining to the necessary worship of God, could so long be lacking in the primitive church, three hundred years after the apostles and more? What can be more absurd and against all reason?
"We see these private masses to be defended with great labour and much ado: of some, for fear lest their gain should decay; of some, because they would serve the affection of the vulgar people, (which think to have great succour thereby, and therefore are loth to leave it,) rather than for any just cause or reason to leave them. But, howsoever they do, a most manifest and evident cause there is, why these private masses ought to be abolished. For first, their application undoubtedly is wicked; neither doth the work of the priest merit any grace to any person, but every one is justified by his own faith. Neither again would God have any man to trust upon any ceremony, but only to the benefit of Christ: and most certain it is, that the application of these masses for the dead, is full of great error and impiety.
"But here come in blind glosses (albeit to no purpose) to excuse this application. For universally, among all the people, who is he that thinketh otherwise, but that this work is available for the whole church? yea, the canon of the mass itself declareth no less. And why then do some of these crafty sophisters dally out the matter with their glossing words, denying that they make any application of their masses, when they know full well, that the error of the people is confirmed by this their doing; although they themselves do think otherwise? Albeit, how few be there, in very deed, which do otherwise think!
"We ought not to dissemble in God's matters. Let us use them as the Holy Scripture teacheth, and as the ancient custom of the primitive church doth lead us. Why should any man be so presumptuous as to swerve from ancient custom? Why now do they defend the errors of others which have perverted the institution of Christ?
"Now, although some perhaps will pretend and say, that he maketh no application of his masses, yet, notwithstanding, he so dealeth in handling the ceremony privately by himself, that he thinketh this his oblation to be high service done to God, and such as God requireth: which is also erroneous and to be reproved. For why? No service or worship pertaining unto God ought to be set up by man's device, without the commandment of God.
"Wherefore, I beseech you, for the glory of Christ, that you will not defend the article of this act concerning these private masses, but that you will suffer the matter to be well examined by virtuous and learned men. All things that we here with us do, we do them by evident and substantial testimony of the primitive church; which testimony I dare be bold to set against the judgments of all that have since followed, such as have corrupted the ancient and old rites, with manifold errors.
"As touching the other articles, they have no need of any long disputation. Vows that be wicked, feigned, and impossible, are not to be kept. There is no doubt but this is the common persuasion of all men touching vows, that all these will-works devised by man, are the true service and worship of God; and so think they, also, which speak most indifferently of them. Others add thereunto more gross errors, saying, that these works bring with them perfection, and merit everlasting life. Now all these opinions the Scripture in many places doth reprove. Christ saith, They worship me in vain with the precepts of men; and Paul saith, that these observations be the doctrine of devils, for they ascribe to the power and strength of man false honour, because they are taken for the service of God: they obscure faith and the true worshipping of God. Item, the said Paul to the Colossians saith, Let no man deceive you by feigned humility, &c. Why make you decrees, &c.? Wherefore these corrupt traditions of men are indeed a wicked and detestable service of God.
"Unto these also are annexed many other corrupt and wicked abuses. The whole order of monkery, what superstition doth it contain! What profanations of masses, invocation of saints, colours and fashions of apparel, choice of meats, superstitious prayers without all measure! of which causes every one were sufficient, why these vows ought to be broken. Besides this, a great part of men are drawn to this kind of life chiefly for the belly's sake, and then, afterwards, they pretend the holiness of their vow and profession.
"Furthermore, this vow of single life is not to all men possible to be kept, as Christ himself saith, All men do not receive this. Such vows, therefore, which without sin cannot be performed, are to be undone: but these things I have discussed sufficiently in other of my works.
"But this causeth me much to marvel, that this vow of priests, in your English decree, is more strait and hard than is the vow of monks, whereas the canons themselves do bind a priest no further to single life, but only for the time that he remaineth in the ministry. And certainly it made my heart to tremble, when I read this article which so forbiddeth matrimony, and dissolveth the same, being contracted, and appointeth, moreover, the punishment of death for the same. Although there have been divers godly priests, who, in certain places, have been put to death for their marriage, yet hath never man hitherto been so bold as to establish any such law. For every man in a manner well perceived, that all well-disposed and reasonable persons would abhor that cruelty; and also they feared lest posterity would think evil thereof. Who would ever think that in the church of Christ, wherein all lenity toward the godly ought most principally to be showed, such cruelties and tyranny could take place, to set forth bloody laws, to be executed upon the godly for lawful matrimony?
"'But they brake their vows,' will the bishops say. First, as I said, that vow ought not to stand, seeing it is turned to a false worship of God, and is impossible to be kept. Again, although it stood in force, yet it should not extend to them that forsake the ministry. Finally, if the bishops, here, would have a care and regard to men's consciences, they should then ordain priests without any such profession or vow-making; as appeareth by the old canons, how that many were admitted to the ministry without professing of any vow; and the same afterwards, when they had married their wives, remained in the ministry, as is testified in the Distinctions.
"Certainly, of what I may here complain, I cannot tell. First, in this article I cannot impute it to ignorance, which they do; for no man is ignorant of the commandment of God, which saith, Let every man have his wife, for avoiding of fornication.
Again, who is so blind but he seeth what a life these unmarried priests do live? The complaints of good men are well known. The filthiness of the wicked is too, too manifest. But, peradventure, your bishops, holding with the sect of epicures, do think God is not offended with filthy lusts: which if they so think, then do we sustain doubtless a hard cause, where such must be judges.
"I am not ignorant that this single life is very fit to set out the glory and bravery of bishops, and colleges of priests, and to maintain their wealth and portly state; and this I suppose to be the cause why some do abhor so much that priests should be married. But, O lamentable state of the church! if laws should be so forced to serve, not the verity and the will of God, but the private gain and commodity of men! They err which think it lawful for them to make laws repugnant to the commandment of God, and to the law of nature, so that they be profitable to attain wealth and riches. And, of truth, from my very heart I do mourn and lament, right noble prince, both for your sake, and also for the cause of Christ's church. You pretend to impugn and gainstand the tyranny of the Romish bishop, and truly do call him antichrist, as indeed he is; and, in the mean time, you defend and maintain those laws of that Romish antichrist, which be the strength and sinews of all his power, as private masses, single life of priests, and other superstitions. You threaten horrible punishments to good men, and to the members of Christ; you violently oppress and bear down the verity of the gospel, beginning to shine in your churches. This is not to abolish antichrist, but to establish him.
"I beseech you, therefore, for our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye defile not your conscience in defending those articles which your bishops have devised and set forth, touching private masses, auricular confession, vows, single life of priests, and prohibition of the one half of the sacrament. It is no light offence to establish idolatry, errors, cruelty, the filthy lusts of antichrist. If the Roman bishop should now call a council, what other articles chiefly would he devise and publish unto the world, but the very same which your bishops have here enacted?
"Understand and consider, I pray you, the subtle trains and deceits of the devil, who is wont first to set upon, and assail, the chief governors. And as he is the enemy of Christ from the beginning of the world, so his chiefest purpose is, by all crafty and subtle means, to work contumely against Christ, by sparsing abroad wicked opinions, and setting up idolatry; and also in polluting mankind with bloody murders and fleshly lusts: in the working whereof he abuseth the policies and wits of hypocrites, also the power and strength of mighty princes; as stories of all times bear witness, what great kingdoms and empires have set themselves, with all might and main, against the poor church of Christ.
"And yet, notwithstanding, God hath reserved some good princes at all times out of the great multitude of such giants, and hath brought them to his church, to embrace true doctrine, and to defend his true worship; as Abraham taught Abimelech, Joseph the Egyptian kings: and after them came David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, excelling in true godliness. Daniel converted to the knowledge of God the kings of Chaldea and Persia: also Brittany brought forth unto the world the godly prince Constantine. In this number I wish you rather to be, than amongst the enemies of Christ, defiled with idolatry, and spotted with the blood of the godly; of whom God will take punishment, as he doth many times forewarn, and many examples do teach.
"Yet again therefore, I pray and beseech you, for our Lord Jesus Christ, that you will correct and mitigate this decree of the bishops; in doing which you shall advance the glory of Christ, and provide as well for the wealth of your own soul, as for the safeguard of your churches.
"Let the hearty desires of so many godly men through the whole world move you, so earnestly wishing that some good kings would extend their authority to the true reformation of the church of God, to the abolishing of all idolatrous worship, and the furthering of the course of the gospel. Regard also, and consider, I beseech you, those godly persons who are with you in bands for the gospel's sake, being the true members of Christ.
"And if that cruel decree be not altered, the bishops will never cease to rage against the church of Christ, without mercy or pity: for them the devil useth as instruments and ministers of his fury and malice against Christ. These he stirreth up to slay and kill the members of Christ: whose wicked and cruel proceedings, and subtle sophistications, that you will not prefer before our true and most righteous request, all the godly most humbly and heartily do pray and beseech you. Which if they shall obtain, no doubt but God shall recompense to you great rewards for your piety; and your excellent virtue shall be renowned both by pen and voice of all the godly, while the world standeth. For Christ shall judge all them that shall deserve either well or evil of his church: and while letters shall remain, the memorial worthy of such noble deserts shall never die or be forgotten with the posterity to come. And seeing we seek the glory of Christ, and that our churches are the churches of Christ, there shall never be wanting such as both shall defend the righteous cause, and magnify, with due commendation, such as have well deserved, and likewise shall condemn the unjust cruelty of the enemies.
"Christ goeth about hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, complaining of the raging fury of the bishops, and of the wrongful oppression and cruelty of divers kings and princes, entreating that the members of his body be not rent in pieces, but that true churches may be defended, and his gospel advanced. This request of Christ to hear, to receive, and to embrace, is the office of a godly king, and service most acceptable unto God."
Treating a little before, of certain old instruments for proof of priests' lawful marriage in times past, I gave a little touch of a certain record taken out of an old martyrology of the church of Canterbury, touching Livingus a priest, and his wife, in the time of Lanfranc: wherein I touched, also, of certain lands and houses restored again by the said Lanfranc to the church of St. Andrew. Now, forasmuch as the perfect note thereof is more fully come to my hands; and partly considering the restoring of the said lands to be to Christ's church in Canterbury, and not to St. Andrew's in Rochester; and, also, for that I have found some other precedents approving the lawful marriage of priests, and legitimation of their children, I thought good, for the more full satisfying of the reader, to enter the same, as followeth:
A note out of an old martyrology of Canterbury.
"After the death of William king of England, the said Lanfranc restored again to Christ's church in Canterbury all the lands which from ancient memory unto these latter days have been taken away from the right of the said church. The names of which lands be these: in Kent, Reculver, Sandwich, Richborow, Wootton, the abbey of Lyming, with the lands and customs unto the same monastery belonging, Saltwood, &c., (Stoke and Denentum, because they belonged of old time to the church of St. Andrew, them he restored to the same church,) in Surrey, Mortlake; the abbey of St. Mary in London, with the lands and houses which Livingus, priest, and his wife, had in London. All these Lanfranc restored again for the health of his own soul, freely, and without money," &c.
A note, for the legitimation of priest's children.
"Note, that in the nineteenth year of this king, in an assize at Warwick, before Sir Guy Fairfax, and Sir John Vavasour, it was found, by verdict, that the father of the tenant had taken the order of deacon, and after married a wife, and had issue; the tenant died, and the issue of the tenant did enter. Upon whom the plaintiff did enter, as next heir collateral to the father of the tenant; Upon whom he did re-enter, &c.; and, for difficulty, the justices did adjourn the assize. And it was debated in the exchequer chamber: 'If the tenant shall be a bastard,' &c. And here, by advice, it was adjudged that he shall not be a bastard, &c. Frowick, chief justice, said to me, in the nineteenth year of Henry the Seventh, in the Common Pleas, that he was of counsel in this matter, and that it was adjudged as before; which Vavasour did grant. And Frowick said, that if a priest marry a wife, and hath issue and dieth, his issue shall inherit; for that the espousals be not void, but voidable. Vavasour: If a man take a nun to wife, this espousal is void."'
Note, that in the latter impression of Henry the Seventh's Years of the Law, this word "priest," in this case aforesaid, in some books is left out; whether of purpose or by negligence, I leave it to the reader to judge.
Concerning these six articles passed in this Act aforesaid, in the twenty-first year of this King Henry the Eighth, sufficiently hitherto hath been declared; first, what these articles were: secondly, by whom, and from whom chiefly they proceeded: thirdly, how erroneous, pernicious, repugnant, and contrarious to true doctrine, Christian religion, and the word of God, to nature also itself, all reason and honesty, and finally to the ancient laws, customs, and examples of our fore-elders, during the days of a thousand years after Christ, they were. Fourthly, ye have heard also what unreasonable and extreme penalty was set upon the same, that a man may deem these laws to be written not with the ink of Stephen Gardiner, but with the blood of a dragon, or rather the claws of the devil; the breach whereof was made no less than treason and felony, and no less punishment assigned thereto than death.
Besides all this, the words of the Act were so curious and subtle, that no man could speak, write, or cipher against them, without present danger; yea, scarcely a man might speak any word of Christ and his religion, but he was in peril of these six articles. Over and besides, the papists began so finely to interpret the Act, that they spared not to indict men for abusing their countenance and behaviour in the church: so great was the power of darkness in those days. And thus much concerning this Act.
Besides these six articles in this aforesaid Act concluded, there was also another constitution annexed withal, not without the advice (as may seem) of the Lord Cromwell, which was this: that priests and ministers of the church, seeing now they would needs themselves be bound from all matrimony, should therefore, by law, be likewise bound to such honesty and continency of life, that carnally they should use and accustom no manner of woman, married or single, by way of advoutry, or fornication; the breach whereof for the first time, was to forfeit goods, and to suffer imprisonment at the king's pleasure: and for the second time, being duly convicted, it was made felony, as the others were.
In this constitution, if the Lord Cromwell, and other good men of the parliament, might have had their will, there is no doubt but the first crime of these concubinary priests, as well as the second, had had the same penalty as the other six articles had, and should have been punished with death. But Stephen Gardiner, with his fellow bishops, who then ruled all the roost, so boasted this extraordinary article with their accustomed shifts, that if they were taken and duly convicted for their not catès, nor cautè, at first time it was but forfeit of goods. Also, for the second conviction or attainder they so provided that, the next year following, that punishment and pain of death, by act of parliament was clean wiped away and repealed. And why so? "Because," saith the statute, "that punishment by pain of death is very sore, and much extreme; therefore it pleaseth the king, with the assent of the lords, that that clause above written, concerning felony, and pains of death, and other penalties and forfeitures, for and upon the first and second conviction or attainder of any priest or woman for any such offences aforesaid, shall be from henceforth void, and of none effect," &c. So that by this statute it was provided, for all such votaries as lived in whoredom and adultery, for the first offence to lose his goods, and all his spiritual promotions, except one; for the second, to forfeit all that he had to the king; for the third conviction, to sustain continual imprisonment.
In these ungodly proceedings of the pope's catholic clergy, two things we have to note.
First, The horrible impiety of their doctrine, directly fighting against the express authority of God and his word, forasmuch as that which God permitteth, they restrain; that which he bids they forbid. Let a man have, saith he; Let him not have, say they; taking exceptions against the word of the Lord. That which he calleth honourable and undefiled, they call heresy; that which he commandeth and instituteth, they punish with pains of death. Not only the priests that marry, but them also that say or cipher that a priest may marry, at the first they kill as felons; neither can any miserere take place for chaste and lawful wedlock; whereas, contrariwise, a spiritual man may thrice defile his neighbour's wife, or thrice his brother's daughter, and no felony at all be laid to his charge. What is this in plain words to say, but that it is less sin thrice to commit advoutry, than once to marry?
The second to be noted is, how these painted hypocrites do bewray their false dissembled dealings unawares, with whom a man might thus reason Tell us, you priests and votaries! which so precisely flee the state of matrimony, intend you to live chaste, and are you able so to do without wives? Do you keep yourselves chaste and honest without them, and without burning, or not? If you be not able, why then marry you not? why take you not the remedy appointed of God? why make you those vows, which you cannot perform? or why do you not break them being made, falling thereby in danger of breaking God's commandment, for keeping your own? If you be able, and so do intend, to continue an honest and a continent conversation without wives, then shall I ask of you according as Dr. Turner gravely and truly layeth to your charge: "Why do you so carefully provide a remedy by your laws beforehand, for a mischief to come, which you may avoid if you list? unless either ye listed not to stand, though you might; or else saw your own infirmity, that you could not, though ye would: and therefore, fearing your own weak fragility, you provide wisely for yourselves aforehand, that, where others shall suffer pains of death at the first for well doing, you may fall thrice in abominable adultery, and yet, by the law, have your lives pardoned."
And here cometh out your own hypocrisy, by yourselves bewrayed; for whereas you all confess, that you are able to live chaste if ye will, without wives, this moderation of the law, provided before against your adulterous incontinency, plainly declareth that either ye purpose willingly to fall, or, at least, ye fear and stand in doubt not to be able to stand. And why then do you so confidently take such vows upon you, standing in such doubt and fear for the performance thereof?
And be it to you admitted, that all do not fall, but that some keep their vow, though some viciously run to other men's wives and daughters: then herein again ask I you, seeing these vicious whore-hunters and adulterous persons among you do live viciously, (as you cannot not deny,) and may do otherwise, if they list, as you confess: what punishment then are they worthy to have, which may live continent, and will not, neither yet will take the remedy provided by God, but refuse it? Which being so, then what iniquity is this in you, or, rather, impiety inexcusable against God and man, to procure a moderation of laws for such, and to show such compassion and clemency to these so heinous adulterers, whore-hunters, and beastly fornicators, that, if they adulterate other men's wives never so oft, yet there is no death for them; and to show no compassion at all, nor to find out any moderation for such, but at the very first to kill them as felons and heretics, which honestly do marry in the fear of God, or once say, that a priest may marry? How can ye here be excused, O you children of iniquity? What reason is in your doing, or what truth in your doctrine, or what fear of God in your hearts? You that neither are able to avoid burning and pollution without wedlock, nor yet will receive that remedy that the Lord hath given you, how will you stand in his face, when he shall reveal your operations and cogitations to your perpetual confusion, unless by time ye convert and repent? And thus, being ashamed of your execrable doings, I cease to defile my pen any further in this so stinking matter of yours, leaving you to the Lord.
It was declared before, that what time these six articles were in hand in the parliament house, Cranmer, then being archbishop of Canterbury only, withstood the same, disputing three days against them; whose reasons and arguments I wish were extant and remaining. After these articles were thus passed and concluded, the king, who always bare especial favour unto Cranmer, perceiving him to be not a little discomforted therewith, sent all the lords of the parliament, and with them the Lord Cromwell, to dine with him at Lambeth (as is before declared); and, within few days also upon the same, required that he would give a note of all his doings and reasonings in the said parliament: which the said Cranmer eftsoons accomplished accordingly, drawing out his reasons and allegations; the copy whereof, being fair written out by his secretary, was sent and delivered unto the king, and there remained.
Now, after these things thus discussed, as touching the six wicked articles, it followeth next, in returning to the order of our story again, to declare those things which, after the setting out of these articles, ensued, which otherwise for the wicked cruelty thereof, are called The Whip with Six Strings, set forth after the death of Queen Anne and of good John Lambert, devised by the cruelty of the bishops, but specially by the bishop of Winchester, and at length also subscribed by King Henry. But therein, as in many other things, the crafty policy of Winchester appeared, who if he had not watche his time, and taken the king, coming out where it did, it is thought he had not got the matter so easily to be subscribed. We come now to the time and story of the Lord Cromwell, a man whose worthy fame and deeds are worthy to live renowned in perpetual memory.