Ex-Classics Home Page

Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 82. WILLIAM SWINDERBY.


In the year 1389, William Swinderby, priest, within the diocese of Lincoln, being accused and detected upon certain opinions, was presented before John, bishop of Lincoln, and examined upon certain articles in the church of Lincoln, after the form and order of the pope's law, according to their usual rite observed; his denouncers were these, Friar Frisby, an observant, Friar Hincely, an Augustine, and Thomas Blaxton, Dominican. The articles wherewith they charged him, although in form of words, as they put them up, they might seem something strange here to be recited; yet to the intent that all men may see the spiteful malice of these spider friars, in sucking all things to poison, and in forging that which is not true, as in process (Christ willing) hereafter shall better appear by his answers, I thought good to notify the same.

That men may ask their debts by charity, but in no manner for debt to imprison any man; and that he so imprisoning is accursed.

That if parishioners do know their curate to be a lecher, incontinent, and an evil man, they ought to withdraw from him their tithes, or else they be abettors of his sins.

That tithes be purely alms, and in case that curates be evil men, the same may lawfully be conferred to other men.

That for an evil curate to curse his subject for withholding of tithes, is nothing else, but to take with extortion wickedly and unduly from them their money.

That no prelate may curse a man, except he know before that he is cursed of God.

That every priest may absolve any sinner being contrite; and is bound (notwithstanding the inhibition of the bishop) to preach the gospel unto the people.

That a priest, taking any annual pension upon covenant, is in so doing a simoniac and accursed.

That any priest being in deadly sin, if he give himself to consecrate the body of the Lord, committeth idolatry rather than doth consecrate.

That no priest entereth into any house, but to evil entreat the wife, the daughter, or maid; and therefore he admonished the good man of the house to take heed what priest he let into his house.

Another conclusion falsely to him objected, That a child is not truly baptized, if the priest that baptizeth, or the godfather or godmother, be in deadly sin.

Item, that no man living against the law of God is a priest, however he were ordained priest of any bishop.

These articles or conclusions, untruly collected, were as cruelly exhibited against him by the friars in the bishop of Lincoln's court. The which articles, although he never preached, taught, or at any time defended, as appeareth more in the process following; yet the friars with their witnesses standing forth against him, declared him to be convict; bringing also dry wood with them to the town to burn him, and would not leave him before they made him promise and swear, for fear of death, never to hold them, teach them, nor preach them privily nor apertly, under pain of relapse; and that he should go to certain churches to revoke the aforesaid conclusions, which he never affirmed: as first in the church of Lincoln; then in St. Margaret's church of Leicester; also in St. Martin's church in Leicester; and in our Lady's churches at Ncwark; and in other parish churches also, of Melton-Mowbray, of Helhoughton, Hareborough, and Lent-borough. Which penance, being to him enjoined, he did obediently accomplish; with this form of revocation, which they bound him unto, under these words.

"I, William Swinderby, priest, although unworthy, of the diocese of Lincoln, acknowledging one true catholic and apostolic faith of the holy Church of Rome, do abjure all heresy and error repugning to the determination of the holy mother church, whereof I have been hitherto defamed; namely, the conclusions and articles above prefixed, and every one of them, to me judicially objected, by the commissary of the reverend father in Christ and Lord, Lord John, by the grace of God, bishop of Lincoln; and do revoke the same, and every one of them, some as heretical, some as erroneous and false; and do affirm and believe them to be so, and hereafter will never teach, preach, or affirm publicly or privily the same. Neither will I make any sermon within the diocese of Lincoln, but asking first and obtaining the licence of the aforesaid reverend father and lord, the bishop of Lincoln. Contrary to the which if I shall presume hereafter to say or do, to hold or preach, I shall be content to abide the severity of the canon, as I have judicially, by the necessity of the law, sworn, and do swear," &c.

Thus have you the conclusions and articles of this good man, falsely objected to him by the malicious and lying friars; and also the retractation whereunto they by force compelled him; whereby it may likewise be conjectured what credit is to be given to the articles and conclusions which these cavilling friars, wresting all things to the worst, have objected and imputed both to Wickliff and all other of that sort, whom they so falsely do defame, so slanderously do belie, and so maliciously do persecute. After these things thus done and wrought in the diocese of Lincoln, it so befell, that the said William Swinderby removed to the diocese and county of Hereford; where he was as much, or more, molested by the friars again, and by John Tresnant, bishop of Hereford, as by the process and story here ensuing, set out at large out of their own registers, may appear.

The process of John Tresnant, bishop of Hereford, had against the aforesaid William Swinderby in the cause of heretical pravity, as the popish heretics call it.

"The glorious name of the Prince of Peace, and his counsel (whose counsellor no man is, and whose providence in his disposition is never deceived) being invocated, To all and singular believers of Christ, which shall see or hear this our process underwritten, John, by the sufferance of God, bishop of Hereford, greeting, and peaceable charity in the, Lord. Forasmuch as God, the Creator of all things, the keeper of justice, the lover of right, and the hater of malice, beholding from the high throne of his providence the sons of men, now, through the fall of their first father, prone and declining to dishonest, and filthy, and detestable mischiefs, and to keep under their malice, which wicked transgression did first gender, hath appointed divers presidents of the world stablished in sundry degrees, by whom, and their circumspect providence, man's audacity should be restrained, innocency should be nourished amongst the good, and terror should be stricken into the wicked not to deceive; also that their power to hurt and their insolency should be bridled in all places: and whereas, amongst many kinds of cares which come to our thoughts, by the duty of the office committed unto us, we are specially bound to extend our strength, chiefly that the catholic faith may prosper in our times, and heretical pravity may be rooted from out of the borders of the faithful. We, therefore, being excited, through the information of many credible and faithful Christians of our diocese, to root out pestiferous plants, as sheep diseased with an incurable sickness, going about to infect the whole and sound flock, are by the care of the shepherd to be removed from the flock, that is to say, preachers, or more truly execrable offenders of the new sect, vulgarly called Lollards; which, under a certain cloaked show of holiness, running abroad through divers places of our diocese, and endeavouring to cut asunder the Lord's unsewed coat, that is to say, to rend the unity of the holy church, and of the catholic faith, and also to tear in pieces with their tempestuous blasts the power of St. Peter, that is to say, to weaken the strength of the ecclesiastical states and degrees, and the determination of the same holy church, have wickedly presumed and do presume from day to day to speak, to teach, to maintain, and, that which is more horrible to be uttered, to preach openly many things heretical, blasphemies, schisms, and slanderous defamings, even quite contrary to the sacred canons and decrees of the holy fathers, so that they know not to direct their paths in the ways of righteousness and truth, in that they expound to the people the Holy Scripture as the letter soundeth, after a judicial sort, otherwise than the Holy Ghost will have it, whereas the words wander from their proper significations, and appear to bring in, by guessing, new meanings; whereas the words must not be judged by the sense that they make, but by the sense whereby they be made, where the construction is not bound to the Donates' rules, where faith is far placed from the capacity of reason; but they labour, by their pernicious doctrines and teachings, public and privy, to boil out the poison of schisms between the clergy and the people. We, to encounter against such kind of preachers, nay rather deceivers, and horrible seducers amongst the people, advancing and rousing up ourselves in God's behalf, and holy mother church, with the spiritual sword, which may strike them wisely, and wound them medicinally, for their health and welfare; and namely, William Swinderby, priest, so pretending himself to be, as a teacher of such kind of pernicious doctrine, and a horrible seducer amongst the people; to whom personally appearing before us on the Wednesday, to wit, the fourteenth of the month of June, in the parish church of Kingston, of our diocese, in the year of our Lord 1391, he being vehemently defamed to us of heresy, schism, and his perverse doctrines both manifest and privy; we, therefore, have caused many cases and articles concerning the catholic faith to be ministered unto him, that he should answer to the same at a day and place for him meet and convenient, of his own choice and free will; that is to say, on the Friday, being the last of the same month of June next following; assigned to him, at the church of Bodenham of the same our diocese: of which cases and articles exhibited unto us by many of Christ's faithful people, zealous followers of the catholic faith, to make information to our office, which cases and articles also were by us administered, as is before said, to the same William Swinderby, the tenor thereof followeth, and is thus:

"Reverend father and high lord, Lord John, by God's sufferance bishop of Hereford, it is lamentably declared unto your reverend fatherhood on the behalf of Christ's faithful people, your devout children of your diocese of Hereford, that notwithstanding the misbelief of very many Lollards, which have too long a time sprung up here in your diocese, there is newly come a certain child of wickedness, named William Swinderby; who, by his horrible persuasions and mischievous endeavours, and also by his open preachings and private teachings, doth pervert as much as in him is the whole ecclesiastical state, and stirreth up, with all his possible power, schism between the clergy and the people. And that your reverend fatherhood may be the more fully informed, who and what manner of man the same William Swinderby is, there be proposed and exhibited hereafter to the same your fatherhood, on the behalf of the same faithful people of Christ, against the same William Swinderby, cases and articles. Which if the same William shall deny, then shall the same cases and articles most evidently be proved against him by credible witness worthy of belief, and by other lawful proof and evidences, to the end that those being proved, the same fatherhood of yours may do and ordain therein, as to your pastoral office belongeth.

"Imprimis, the same William Swinderby, pretending himself priest, was openly and publicly convicted of certain articles and conclusions, being erroneous, schismatical, and heretical, preached by him at divers places and times before a multitude of faithful Christian people. And the same articles and conclusions did he by force of law revoke and abjure, some as heretical, and some as erroneous and false; avouching and believing them for such, as that from thenceforth he would never preach, teach, or affirm openly or privily any of the same conclusions: and if, by preaching or avouching, he should presume to do the contrary, that then he shouldbe subject to the severity of the canons, accordingly as he did take a corporal oath, judicially, upon the holy Gospels.

"2. Also the conclusions, which by the same William were first openly taught and preached, and afterward abjured and revoked, as is aforesaid, are contained before in the process of the bishop of Lincoln, even as they be there written word by word. And, for the cases and articles, they were consequently exhibited by the forenamed faithful Christian people against the said William Swinderby, together with the conclusions beforesaid, and hereafter written: of which cases and articles the tenor here ensueth.

"3. Item, The said William, contrary to the former revocation and abjuration, not converting to repentance, but perverted from ill to worse, and given up to a reprobate sense, came into your diocese, where he, running about in sundry places, hath presumed to preach, or rather to pervert and to teach of his own rashness, many heretical, erroneous, blasphemous, and other slanderous things, contrary and repugnant to sacred canons and the determination of the holy catholic church. What those things were, at what place and what time, it shall hereafter more particularly be declared.

"4. Item, The same William, notwithstanding your commandments and admonitions, sealed with your seal, and to all the curates of your diocese directed, containing amongst other things, that no person, of what state, degree, or condition soever he were, should presume to preach or to teach, or else expound the Holy Scripture to the people, either in hallowed or profane places within your diocese, without sufficient authority, by any manner of pretence that could be sought, as in the same your letters monitory and of inhibition, the tenor whereof hereafter ensueth, is more largely contained; which letters the same William did receive into his hands, and did read them word by word in the town of Monmouth of your diocese, in the year of our Lord 1390, so that these your letters and the contents thereof came to the true and undoubted knowledge of the same William; yet, notwithstanding, hath the same William presumed in divers places and times to preach within the same your diocese, after and against your commandments aforesaid."

The tenor of the same letters before mentioned followeth, and is this:

"John, by the sufferance of God, bishop of Hereford, to the dean and chapter of our church of Hereford; and to all and singular abbots, priors, provosts, deans rural, parsons and vicars of monasteries, priories, churches, colleges, and parishes, and to other having cure of souls within the city and diocese of Hereford; and to all and every other being within the same city and diocese, greeting, grace, and blessing. Forasmuch as the golden laurel of teaching doctoral is not from above indifferently every man's gift, neither is the office of preaching granted, save to such as are called, and especially by the church admitted thereunto: we do admonish and require you, all and singular clerks aforesaid, and do straitly enjoin you all, in the virtue of holy obedience, that you nor any of you do admit any man to preach or to teach the catholic faith, saving such as the same office of preaching shall by the authority apostolical, or else your bishop, be specially committed unto; but that, as much as in you shall lie, you do by word and deed labour to let those that would attempt the contrary. And you, lords, ladies, knights, barons, esquires, and all singular persons, of what estate, degree, pre-eminence, or condition soever ye be, remaining within the city and diocese of Hereford, we do beseech and exhort in our Lord, that, following the words of our Saviour, you beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.

"Item, according to the saying of the apostle, Be not ye carried away with divers and strange doctrines, and that in the mean while, as saith the apostle, you be not removed from the sense of the holy ancient fathers, lest that any man by any means should seduce you; but you, agreeing together in one mind, see that you honour God with one mouth. But if any man, to whom that thing is not specially, as is aforesaid, committed, shall attempt to instruct, or in this your life to direct you into the catholic faith, do ye deny to give them audience, and refuse you to be present at their assemblies, and shun ye their teachings, because they be wicked and perverse. And as for us, we will not omit to proceed according to the sacred canons and precepts of the holy fathers, against such as do the contrary.

"Dated at London, in the house of our habitation, under our seal, the last day save one of December, in the year of our Lord 1389, and of our consecration the first."

"5. Item, The same William, in his preaching to the people on Monday, being the first of August, in the year of our Lord 1390, in the parish of Whitney, of your diocese, did hold and affirm that no prelate of the world, of what estate, pre-eminence, or degree soever he were of, having cure and charge of souls, he being in deadly sin, and hearing the confession of any under his hand, in giving him absolution doth nothing; as who neither doth loose him from his sin, nor in correcting or excommunicating him for his demerits doth bind him by his sentence, except the prelate shall be free himself from deadly sin, as St. Peter was, to whom our Lord gave power to bind and loose.

"6. Item, The same William in many places said and affirmed, in the presence of many faithful Christian people, that after the sacramental words uttered by the priest, having the purpose to consecrate, there is not made the very body of Christ in the sacrament of the altar.

"7. Item, That accidents cannot be in the sacrament of the altar without a subject, and that there remaineth material bread there to such as be partakers communicant with the body of Christ, in the same sacrament.

"8. Item, That a priest, being in deadly sin, cannot be able, by the strength of the sacramental words, to make the body of Christ, or bring to perfection any other sacrament of the church, neither yet to minister it to the members of the church.

"9. Item, That all priests are of like power in all things, notwithstanding that some of them in this world are of higher and greater honour, degree, or pre-eminence.

"10. Item, That only contrition putteth away sin, if so be that a man shall be duly contrite; and that all auricular and outward confession is superfluous, and not requisite or necessity to salvation.

"11. Item, Inferior curates have not their power of binding and loosing immediately from the pope or bishop, but immediately from Christ; and therefore neither can the pope nor bishop revoke to themselves such kind of power, when they see time and place, at their lust and pleasure.

"12. Item, That the pope cannot grant such kind of annual and yearly pardons, because there shall not be so many years to the day of judgment, as are in the pope's bulls or pardons contained. Whereby it followeth that the pardons are not of such like value as they speak of, and are praised to be.

"13. Item, It is not in the pope's power to grant unto any person penitent, forgiveness of the punishment of the fault.

"14. Item, That person that giveth his alms to any, which in his judgment is not in necessity, doth sin in so giving it.

"15. Item, That it stands not in the power of any prelate, of what religion soever he be of, privately to give letters for the benefit of his order; neither doth such benefit granted profit them, to the salvation of their soul, to whom they be granted.

"16. Item, That the same William, unmindful of his own salvation, hath many and oftentimes come into a certain desert wood, called Dervallwood, of your diocese, and there in a certain chapel not hallowed, or rather in a profane cottage, hath, in contempt of the keys, presumed of his own rashness to celebrate, nay, rather to profanate.

"17. Item, The same William hath also presumed to do such things in a certain profane chapel, being situate in the park of Newton, nigh to the town of Leintwarden, of the same your diocese.

"Upon Friday, being the last of the month of June, in the year above said, about six of the clock, in the said parish church of Bodenham, hath the said William Swinderby personally appeared before us. And he, willing to satisfy the term to him assigned, as before specified, hath read out word by word before all the multitude of faithful Christian people, many answers made and placed by the same William (in a certain paper-book of the sheet folded into four parts) to the said articles, and the same answers for sufficient hath he already to us exhibited, avouching them to be agreeable to the law of Christ. Which thing being done, the same William (without any more with him) did depart from our presence, because that we, at the instance of certain noble personages, had promised to the same William free access, that is, to wit, on that day for the exhibiting of those answers, and also free departing without prefixing of any term, or without citation, or else any other offence or harm in body or in goods."

William Swinderby keeping from the bishop was citeth as followeth.

"John, by God's permission bishop of Hereford: to his dear sons, our dean of Leamster, to the parsons of Croft, Almady, and Whitney, and also to the vicars of Kingston, Ladersley, Wiggemore, and Monmouth Clifford, and of St. John's altar in our cathedral church of Hereford, and to the rest of the deans, parsons, vicars, chaplains, parish priests, and to other, whosoever in any place are appointed through our city and diocese of Hereford, sendeth greeting, grace, and benediction.

"We bid and command, charging you straitly, in the virtue of holy obedience, that you cite or cause to be cited peremptorily, and under the pain of excommunication, William Swinderby, pretending himself to be a priest; that he appear before us, or our commissaries, the twentieth day of this present month of July, at North Lodebury, within our diocese, with the continuance of the days following in other places also to be assigned unto him if it be expedient, till such things as have been and shall be laid against him he fully discussed, to answer more at large to certain positions and articles, touching the catholic faith, and the holy mother church's determination, that have been exhibited and ministered unto the said William; and to see and hear also many things that have openly, in judgment before us and a great number of faithful Christians, by him been even in writing confessed, to be condemned as heretical, false, schismatical, and erroneous; and to see and hear positions and articles denied by the said William, to be proved by faithful witnesses, and other lawful trials against the said William; and to receive for his false, heretical, erroneous, and schismatical doctrine, that justice shall appoint, or else to show causes why the premises should not be done.

"And if the said William lieth privily, or else cannot be so cited in his proper person, we will that in your churches, when most people shall then come together to Divine service, you openly, with a loud voice, and that may be understood, cause the said William , peremptorily to be cited unto the premises, certifying the same William, that whether he shall appear the day and place appointed or no, we notwithstanding will proceed unto the premises against the said William, according to the canonical decrees by form of law, in the absence or contumacy of the said William notwithstanding. We will, moreover, if the said William shall appear at the said day and place, as is aforesaid, before us, friendly hear him, and honestly and favourably, as far as we may with God's leave, deal with him; granting free licence to come and to go for his natural liberty without any hurt either in body or goods. And see that you fully certify us of the things that you or any of you shall do about the execution of this our commandment, and that by your letters patent signed with your seal authentical; giving also faithfully to the said William, or to his lawful proctor, if he require it, a copy of this our present commandment.

"Given at our house of Whitborne, under our seal, the fifth day of the month of July, in the year of our Lord 1391."

First sitting against William Swinderby.

"On Thursday, the twentieth of July, in the year of the Lord aforesaid, we, in the parish church of North Lodebury aforesaid, about six of the clock, sitting in judgment, after that it was reported unto us how the aforesaid William was personally taken and lawfully cited, caused the same William then and there openly in judgment to be called out, to do, hear, and receive such things, whereto he was afore cited, and to do otherwise that which justice should persuade. And the said William appeared neither by himself, nor by proctor; but only by a servant, whose name we know not, he sent a certain schedule of paper, made like an indenture, unto us, to excuse him. After which schedule seen, read, and with right deliberation weighed, and in any wise notwithstanding, we adjudged the said William, after he was often called, and long, even to the due hour, tarried for, and by no means appearing, worthily obstinate; and for his obstinacy, and for his stubbornness, we assigned unto him the 29th day of July, in the church of Ponsley, to appear before us with the aforesaid safeguard, to answer more fully to such articles, and otherwise to hear, receive, and do as before is noted."

Second sitting.

"Upon Saturday, being the twenty-nine of July, and in the year of our Lord aforesaid, we, John, by God's permission the fore-remembered bishop, in the church of Pontesbury, of our diocese, at six of the clock, or thereabout, sitting in judgment, made the said William of Swinderby to be openly called, that, as was to him appointed and assigned, he should appear before us, to answer to the aforesaid articles more fully, and to declare the said articles as the darkness of his answers did worthily require. And because the said William, being called, and for a due time looked for, did make no means to appear, we pronounced him to be obstinate, and for his obstinateness (to overcome his malice, and of our exceeding favour) thought good to appoint, and did appoint the eighth of August, then next following, at Cleobury Mortemere of the same our diocese, unto the said William for the same thing."

Third sitting.

"Upon Tuesday, the eighth of August, the year aforesaid, I, John, by God's permission bishop of Hereford aforesaid, in the church of Cleobury Mortemere, about six of the clock, sitting in judgment, caused the aforesaid William Swinderby to be called many times openly, to do and receive about the premises, according to the appointment of the same day, that justice should advise; which William did not appear at all. Whereupon, we, after that the said William was called, and often proclaimed, and long looked for, but appeared not at all, did judge him worthily (as of right appertained) obstinate; and, for his obstinateness, assigned him the sixteenth day of the same month of August next following, in the parish church of Whitborne, of the same our diocese, to bring forth, or to see brought forth, all laws, muniments, and other kinds of proofs, and to see all witnesses brought forth, admitted and sworn, by whom and which things we intend to prove the aforesaid articles, or, at leastwise, some of the same."

Fourth sitting.

"Upon Wednesday, the sixteenth day of the month of August, the year aforesaid, we, John, the bishop, in the parish church of Whitborne aforesaid of our diocese, sitting in judgment, caused the said William Swinderby oftentimes to be called, who, as is aforesaid, appeared not all; whom, after that he was so called, proclaimed, and long looked for, and yet by no means appeared, we pronounced to be obstinate. We received also, by certain faithful Christians, and zealous men for the catholic faith of our diocese, a certain process made and had at another time against the same William, before the reverend father in God and lord, Lord John, by the grace of God, bishop of Lincoln, confirmed by the hanging on of the seal of the same reverend father, the lord bishop of Lincoln. The tenor whereof, word for word, is contained before. And these faithful Christians, moreover, against the obstinateness of the said William Swinderby, brought forth discreet men, Master William Leviet, parson of the parish church of Kyversly, and also Edmund Waterdon, parish chaplain of the chapel of N., and Roger Newton, and Hugh Sheppert, laymen of the diocese of Lincoln, asking instantly that they might be received for witnesses, to prove some of the aforesaid articles, whom, against the obstinateness of the said William Swinderby, we thought good to receive, and did receive, and their oaths on the holy Gospels of God, being laid hands on corporally in our hand; and did diligently examine them in proper person severally in form of law; whose sayings and depositions are afterward brought in, and at the instance of the same faithful Christians, we assigned the second day of September then next following to the said William Swinderby, to say and allege against the said process, witnesses, and their sayings, in the said church of Whitborne; decreeing that a copy should be made for him of these things that were brought forth, and of the depositions of the witnesses. * * * [Here we fail in our copy, till the register come to our hands again.]

by the doore, but wendeth upon another halfe, he is a night theefe and a day theefe. And there he telleth, how he that flyeth from the flock, is not the sheepeheard, but an hired man, and it pertaineth not to him of the sheep.

"* To the second conclusion that he saien is error or heresie, that toucheth taking away of the temporalties and of lordships of priests that beene evill livers.

"I say, me seemeth that the conclusion is true, and is this; that it were needfull and leefull to secular lords by way of charity, and by power given to them of God, in default of prelates that amend nought by Gods law: cursed curates that openly misuse the goods of the holy church, that ben poore mens goods: and customably ayens the law of God, (the which poore men lords ben holden to maintaine and defend) to take away and to draw from such curates poore mens goods in help of the poore, and their owne wilfull offrings, and their bodily almsdeeds of worldly goods, and give them to such as duly serven God in the church, and ben ready in upbearing of the charge that prelats shoulden do, and done it not. And as anences taking away of temporalties, I say thus, that it is leefull to kings, to princes, to dukes, and to lords of the world to take away from popes, from cardinals, from bishops, prelates, and possessioners in the church, their temporalties and their almes that they have given them upon condition, that they shoulden serve God the better: when they verily seene that their giving and taking ben contrary to the law of God, contrary to Christs living, and his apostles; and namely in that they taken upon them that they shoulden be next followers of Christ and his apostles, in poorenesse and meekenesse, to be secular lords against the teaching of Christ and of Saint Peter. Truly me seemeth that all Christen men, and namely priests shoulden take keepe, that their doing were according with the law of God, either the old law, either the new. The priests of the old law weren forbidden to have lordships among their brethren; for God said, that he would be their part and their heritage. And Christ that was the highest Priest of the New Testament forsooke worldly lordship, and was here in forme of a servant, and forbad his priests such lordships, and said, the kings of the heathen beare dominion and rule, &c. But you shall not doe so. And as Saint Peter saith, Not bearing rule and dominion of the clergie, &c. So it seemeth me, that it is against both lawes of God, that they have such lordships, and that their title to such lordships is not ful good: and so it seemeth me that if they have beene thereto of evill living, it is no great perill to take away from them such lordships, but rather meedfull, if the taking away were in charity, and not for singular covetousnesse ne wrath. And I suppose that if friers that beene bounden to their founders to live in povertie, would break their rule and take worldly lordships; might not men lawfully take from them such lordships, and make them to live in povertie as their rule would? And forsooth it seemeth me, that priests oughten also well to keepe Christs rule, as friers owen to keep the rule of their founder. Jeremie witnesseth how God commended Rechabs children for that they would not breake their faders bidding in drinking of wine. And yet Jeremy proffered them wine to drink. And so I trow, that God would commend his priests, if they woulden forsake worldly lordships, and holden them apayed with lifelot, and with clothing, and busie them fast about their heritage of heaven. And God saith, You shall have no inheritance in that land, nor have no part amongst them: I will be your part and inheritance amongst the children of Israel, &c. Deut. xviii. The priests and Levites, and all that be of the same tribe, shall have no part nor inheritance with the rest of Israel; because they shall eate the sacrifices of the Lord and his oblations, and they shall take nothing for the possession of their brethren. The Lord himself is their possessions, as he spake unto them. And the 14. chapter of Luke; Even so every one of you, which forsaketh not all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple. And Jerome in his 14. Epistle hath the like words. And Bernard in his 20. booke to Eugenius the Pope. And also Hugo in his book De Sacramentis, the second part of his second book the 7. chapter. And also in the 12. q. first chapter, Duo sunt, and in the chapter Clericus. And again, Bernard in Sermone de Apostolis, upon this place; Behold we leave all, &c. Chrysostome upon the Gospel of S. Matth. &c.

"* The third conclusion toucheth the matter of preaching of priests, withouten leave of bishops, and is this; that such true priests may counsell sinfull men, that shewen to them their sins, after the wit and cunning that God hath given, to turne hem from sin to vertuous life.

"As touching preaching of the gospell, I say that no bishop oweth to let a true priest, that God hath giffen grace, wit, and cunning to doe that office. For both priests and deacons that God hath ordained deacons or priests bene holden, by power given to them of God, to preach to the people the gospell; and namely, and soverenly popes, bishops, prelates, and curates; for this is due to the people and the parishioners, to have it and ask it. And hereto seemeth me, that Christ said generally to his disciples, Goe and preach the gospell to all creatures, as well as he said, Goe and baptize all nations; and also as well longeth preaching to priests without leave of a bishop, as doth baptizing; and then why may he not preach Gods word withouten a bishops leave? And sithen Christ bad his priests preach, who should forbidden them preach? The apostles were forbidden of a bishop at Jerusalem to speak more of the name of Jesus; but Peter said, Whether it be iust in the sight of God to hear and obey you before the Lord, be your selves judges. A bishop may not let a priest of giving bodily almes in his diocesee: much more may he not let the doing of spirituall almes in his diocesee by Gods law. A priest may say his mattens withouten the bishops leave; for the pope, that is above the bishop, hath charged priests therewith: and me thinketh that Christs bidding should be all so much of charge as the popes. Matt. x. Goe you forth and preach. And againe, Behold I send you, &c. Mark xvi. Go you into all the world, &c. and Luke x. And Beda upon this place; The harvest is great. Also Isidorus. And Gregorius in the canon distinct. 43. and Chrysostome in his 34. distinction. And Augustine in the 34. distinction. And Gregory in his pastorall. And Chrysostome in his 31. Homily. And Augustine in the prologue of his Sermons. And Hierome in the 95. distinct. And Augustine upon this place, A certaine traveller.

"* The fourth conclusion toucheth the sacrament of the altar, and is this: That wholly I beleeve that the sacrament of the altar, made by vertue of heavenly words, is bread and Christs body; so as Christ himselfe saith in the gospell, and as Saint Paul saith, and as doctors in the common law have determined: to this sentence John vi., Moses hath not given you bread from heaven, but my Father will give you bread from heaven. He is the true bread that came downe from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. My Father giveth unto you bread indeed: the very true bread of God is that, which came downe from heaven and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread of life: the bread which I will give is my flesh. And in the canon of the masse, the holy bread of life. And Corinthians the tenth chapter and first Epistle; The bread which we break, is it not the communicating of the body of the Lord? Let a man prove himselfe, and so eat of that bread, &c. And canon De consecratione, distinction 2. under the authority of Hilarius the pope; Corpus Christi quod sumitur de altari, &c. And Augustine in the foresaid distinction: That which is seene is bread, &c. That which faith requireth, is bread and is the body of Christ. And in the foresaid distinction, cap. Omnia quæcunque, &c. By these two sentences it is manifestly declared, that that bread and this be not two, but one bread and one flesh. Note the words for that he saith the bread and flesh. And the author, De divinis officiis, and also Augustine in his booke De remediis pœnitentiæ: Why preparest thou thy teeth, &c.? And Ambrose, De Sacramentis, de consecratione, dist. 2. Revera mirabile est, &c. This meate which you receive, and this bread of one which descended from heaven, doth minister the substance of eternall life, and whosoever shall eate the same shall not dye everlastingly, and is the body of Christ. Note how hee saith and is the body of Christ.

"* The fifth article telleth of forgivnesse of sinnes, and is this: That very contrition withouten charitie and grace, doe away all sinnes before done of that man that is verily contrite; and all true confession made by mouth outwardly to a wise priest and a good, profiteth much to a man, and it is need-full and helping, that men shew their life to such, trusting fully to Gods mercy, that he forgiveth the sinne.

"And hereto I say, that there been two remissions of sinnes; one that belongeth only to God; and that remission is the cleansing of the soul from sinn: and the other remission, a certifying that one man certifieth another that his sinnes beene forgiven of God, if he be sorry with all his heart for them; and is in full will to leave them for ever: and this maner of forgivnesse longeth to priests. Of the first manner of forgivnesse David saith; And I said I will confesse my unrighteousnesse unto the Lord, and thou forgavest me my misdeed. And Zecharie saith, And thou O child shalt be called the prophet of the highest, &c. To give knowledge of salvation unto his people for the remission of their sins, by the bowels of Gods mercy. And John Baptist, Behold the Lambe of God that taketh away the sinnes of the world. And Saint John the evangelist saith in his Epistle; If we confesse our sinns, he is faithfull and iust to forgive us our sinnes, and cleanse us from all our iniquitie. And it followeth: If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ, and he it is that is the propitiation for our sins. And of the other remission of sins Christ speaketh in the gospel, and saith; Whose sins ye forgive they shall bee forgiven. And mans forgivenesse availeth little, but if God forgive our sins through his grace.

"* The sixth conclusion toucheth indulgences and pardons that the pope granteth in his buls; and men callen it an absolution, A pœna et culpa.

"Of this manner of speech I cannot find in the gospell, ne in no place of holy writ, ne I have not read that Christ used this manner of remission, ne none of his apostles. But as mee seemeth, if the pope had such a power, sithen the paines after a mans death beene much greater than any bodily paines of the world; me thinketh he should of charite keepe men out of such paines, and then men needed not to find so many vicious priests, after their life, to bring their soules out of purgatorie. Another thing me thinketh, that sith the popes power ne may not keepe us in this world from bodily paines, as from cold, from hunger, from dread, from sorrow and other such paines, how should his power helpe us from spirituall paines, when wee beene dead? But for that no man commeth after his death to tell us the sooth of what paine they been, men mow tell thereof what him list. Saint John saith in his Apocalypse, that he saw under the altar the soules of them which were slaine for the word of God, and for the testimonie which they had. And they did cry with a loud voice saying; How long Lord holy and true, dost not thou revenge our blood of them which dwell on the earth? And white stoles were given to every of them to rest a while, til the number of their fellow servants and brethren should be fulfilled, which also remained to be slaine as they were, &c. Here seemeth it, that these soules were not assoiled a pœna, that is, from paine; for their desire is not fullfilled. And they were bidden abide awhile, and that is a paine. And if martyrs were not assoiled from paine, it is hard for any man to say, that he assoileth other men a pœna. Also good mens souls have not but spirituall blisse, and they want bodily blisse, untill their resurrection in the day of doome. And after they desiren to have that blisse, and abiden it, and that is paine to them. And I cannot see that the pope hath power to bring him from this paine. But if any man can shew me, that he hath such a power granted in the troth of holy writ, I will gladly leefen it."

"* The seventh point speaketh of the pope, and is this; Sith it is only due to God, as I have said before, to geve and to grant plenar remission from paine, and from blame: that whatsoever he be, pope or other, that presumptuously mistaketh upon him the power that is onely due to God, in that, inasmuch as in him is, he maketh himselfe even with Christ, and blasphemeth God, as Lucifer did, when he said, I will ascend, and be like the highest, &c.

"For that I say, if the pope hold men of armes in maintaining of his temporall lordship, to venge him on them that gilten and offenden him, and geveth remission to fight and to sley them, that contrarien him, as men sayden he did by the bishop of Norwich, not putting his sword in his sheath, as God commanded to Peter; he is antichrist. For hee doth the contrary of the commandement of Jesus Christ, that had Peter forgiven to his brother seventy sithe seven sithe. Well I finde in the Gospell, that when Christ sent his disciples to Samaria, the Samaritans would not receive them. And some of them bidden Christ, that hee should make fire come downe from heaven, to destroy the citie. And he blamed them and said; Ye know not of what spirit ye are; the Son of man is not come downe to destroy, but to save the lives and soules of men, &c. If Christ then come to save men, and not to slea them: who that doth the revers hereof, is against Christ, and then he is antichrist. Christ bad Peter put his sword into his sheath and said; All which take the sword, shall perish with the sword. And I cannot find that Peter drew out his sword after that time, but suffered as Christ said; When thou shalt waxe old, another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wilt not. And therefore said Peter, Christ suffered for us, leaving us example that we should follow his steps. And Paul saith, Not defending your selves but give place to anger, leave revenging to me, and I shall reward them, &c. And therefore it seemeth to me, that it is much against Christs lore, that his vicar should bee a fighter; sithen that hee mote bee a shepheard, that should goe before his sheepe, and let them come after him, and not with swords to drive them away from him. For as Christ saith, A good shepheard shal putt his life for his sheepe. And zif all that Christ had two swords, when that he was taken of the Jewes, he said himselfe, it was for that the Scriptures moten zif be fulfilled, He was reputed among the wicked: and not to figure two swords, that men sayen the pope hath to governe with the church. And when I see such doings of the pope, and many other that accorden not with Christs lore, ne his living; and when I read divers Scriptures of holy writ, I am foule astonied whether they shoulden bee understood of him, or of any other. And I pray you for Gods love tell mee the sooth. Christ saith; Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall seduce many, &c. Christ (I wot well) is as much to say, as hee that is anointed, and two anointings there weren in the law, one of kings, another of priests. And Christ was both king and priest, and so the pope saith that he is. And if all that have been emperours of Rome, and other heathen kings have beene antichrists, they come not in Christs name. But who so commeth in Christs name, and faineth himselfe Christs friend, and he be privily his enemy, he may lightly beguile many. Saint Paul saith, before there commeth a defection first and the sonne of perdition shall be revealed, which is the adversary, and is extolled above all that is named God, or which is worshipped; so that he shall sit in the temple of God, shewing himselfe as God. And it followeth in the same place; And now ye know what holdeth till he be revealed in his time, for he worketh already the mystery of iniquity. Onely he that holdeth, let him hold till he come abroad, and then that wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of his mouth, &c. And Saint John saith in the Apocalyps; I saw another beast ascending out of the earth, and two homes like to the lamb. He spake like the dragon, and had the power of the first beast. Many such authorities astonieth me oft sithes; and therefore I pray you, for the love of God, to tell me what they meane."

The sentence.

"The which schedule aforementioned, with the contents thereof, diligently of us perused, we considering that diseases, which he not easily cured with gentle remedy, must have harder plaisters; considering moreover these his articles with his answers to the same, and to other articles, also lastly against him produced; first mature deliberation had before upon the whole matter, with the aforesaid masters and doctors, as well secular as regular, to a great number, observing in the same all things to be observed in this behalf, have given sentence against the said William in form as followeth.

"The name of Christ being invocated, we John, by the permission of God bishop of Hereford, sitting in tribunal seat, having God before our eyes, weighing and considering the articles by the aforesaid faithful Christians put up against the said Swinderby, pretending himself to be priest, with his answers upon the same actis et actitatis before us, in the cause of heretical perversity, with mature deliberation had before, in this behalf, with masters and doctors of divinity, and also of other faculties, with their counsel and consent, do pronounce, decree, and declare the said William to have been and to be a heretic, schismatic, and a false informer of the people, and such as is to be avoided of faithful Christians. Wherefore we admonish, under the pain of the law, all and singular Christians, of what sex, state, condition, or pre-eminence soever, that neither they nor any of them within our diocese, or any other, do believe, receive, defend, or favour the said William, till he shall deserve fully to be reconciled to the bosom again of holy church."

The appeal of William Swinderby, from this sentence of the bishop prefixed, unto the king and his council.

n the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. I, William Swinderby, priest, knowledge openly to all men, that I was before the bishop of Hereford the third day of October, and before many other good clerkes, to answer to certaine conclusions of the faith that I was accused of. And mine answer was this, that if the bishop or any man couthe shew me by Gods law, that my conclusions or my answers were errour or heresie, I would be amended, and openly revoke them before all the people. * * * knowes in any of my conclusions, but sayden singly with sword, that there was errours in them, and bidden me subiect me to the bishop, and put me into his grace, and revoke mine errour, and shewed me nought by Gods law ne reason, ne proved which they weren. And for I would not knowledge mee guilty, so as I knew no errour in them, of which I should be guilty, therefore the bishops sate in doome in mine absence, and deemed me an heretike, a schismatike, and a teacher of errours, and denounced me accursed, that I come not to correction of the church. And therefore for this unrightfull judgement, I appeale to the kings justices for many other causes.

"One cause is, for the kings court in such matter is above the bishops court; for after that the bishop has accursed, he may no feare by his law, but then mote he sech succour of the kings law, and by a writ of Significavit put a man in prison.

"The second cause is, for in cause of heresie there liggeth judgement of death, and that dome may not be given without the kings justices. For the bishop will say; It is not lawfull for us to kill any man; as they saiden to Pilate, when Christ should be doomed. And for I thinke that no justice will give sodainly an untrue doome, as the bishop did, and therefore openly I appeale to hem, and send my conclusions to the knights of the parliament, to be shewed to the lords, and to be taken to the justices, to be well aviset or that they geven doome.

"The third cause is, for it was a false doome; for no man is an heretike, but he that masterfully defends his errour or heresie, and stiffely maintaines it. And mine answer has beene alway conditionall, as the people openly knowes, for ever I say, and yet say, and alway will; that if they cannen shew me by Gods law that I have erret, I will gladly bene amendet, and revoke mine errours, and so I am no heretike, ne nevermore in Gods grace will ben in no wise.

"The fourth cause is, for the bishops law, that they doome men by, is full of errours and heresies, contrary to the truth of Christs law of the gospell.

"For there as Christs law bids us love our enemies, the popes law gives us leave to hate them and to sley them, and grants men pardon to werren against heathen men, and sley hem. And there as Christs law teach us to be merciful, the bishops law teaches to be wretchfull. For death is the greatest wretch that men mowen done to him that guiltie is.

"Where as Christs law teaches us, to blessen him that diseazen us, and to pray for him; the popes law teacheth us to curse them, and in their great sentence that they usen, they presume to damne hem to hell that they cursen. And this is a foule heresie of blasphemie: there as Christs law bids us be patient, the popes lawes iustifies two swords, wherewith he smiteth the sheep of the church. And he has made lords and knights to swear to defend him and his church.

"There as Christs law forbiddeth us lechery, the popes law iustifies the abominable whoredome of common women; and the bishops in some place have a great tribute or rent of whoredome.

"There as Christs law bids to minister spirituall things freely to the people; the pope with his law sels for money, after the quantitie of the gift, pardons, orders, blessing, and sacraments, and prayers, and benefices, and preaching to the people, as it is knowne amongst them.

"There as Christs law teaches peace; the pope with his law assoiles men for money to gader the people, priests, and other to fight for his cause.

"There as Christs law forbids swearing; the popes law iustifieth swearing, and compels men thereto.

"Whereas Christs law teacheth his priest to bee poore; the pope with his law iustifies and maintains priests to be lords.

"And yet the fifth cause is, for the popes law, that bishops demen men by is the same unrightfull law that Christ was demet by of the bishops, with the Scribes and with the Pharisees. For right as at that time they gaven more credens to the two false witnesses that witnessed against Christ, than they deden to all the people that witnesseden to his true preaching and his miracles: so the bishops of the popes law geven more leven by their law to two heretiks and apostates, or two comen women that woulden witnesseden agains a man in the cause of heresie, than two thousands of people that were true and good. And for the pope is this antichrist, and his law contrary to Christ his law, fully I forsake this law, and so I reed all Christen men. For thus by another point of this law they mighten conquer much of this world: for whan they can by this law present a man an heretike, his goods shulen bee forfet from him & from his heires, & so might they lightly have two or three false witnesses to record an heresie againe what true man so hem liked. Herefore mee thinks, that whatsoever that I am a Christen man, I may lawfully appeale from a false doome of the law, to bee righteously demet by the trouth of Gods law. And if this appeale will not serve, I appeale openly to my Lord Jesus Christ that shall deme all the world, for hee, I wot well, will not spare for no man to deeme a trouth. And therefore I pray God almighty with David in the Sauter book, O God, give thy iudgement to the king,& thy iustice to the kings son, to iudge thy people in iustice, & thy poore ones in iudgement, &c."

A letter sent to the nobles and burgesses of the parliament, by Master William Swinderby.

"Jesus that art both God and man, helpe thy people that loven thy law, and make knowne through thy grace thy teaching to all Christen men. Deare sirs, so as wee seene by many tokens that this world drawes to an end, and all that ever have beene brought forth of Adams kind into this world shulen come togeder at domesday, rich and poore, schone to geve accompt and receive after his deeds, joy or paynen for evermore: therefore make wee our werkes good, ye while that God of mercy abides, and bee yee stable and true to God, and yee shulen see his helpe about you. Constantes estote et videbitis auxilium Domini super vos. This land is full of ghostly cowards; in ghostly battell few dare stand. But Christ that comforter of all that falleth (to that his heart brast for our love) against the fiend the doughty duke comforteth us thus; Estote fortes in bello, &c. Bee yee strong in battell, hee sayes, and fight yee with the old adder. State in fide, viriliter agite, &c. Wake yee and pray yee, stond yee in beleeve, doe yee manly and bee yee comfortet, and let all your things bee done with charity. For, Saint Paul that saw the mysteries of God in heaven, bids thus in his Epistle, Awake yee that beene righteous men, bee yee stable and unmoveable: awake yee quickly and sleepe nought, and stond now strongly for Gods law. For Saint Iohn in the Apocalyps sayes, Blessed bee hee that awakes; for nought to sleepers but to wakers God has behite the crowne of life. For the houre is now, as S. Paul saith to us, from sleepe for to rise, for bee that earely awakes to mee, he shall finde mee, saith Christ himselfe. This waking ghostly is good living out of sinne: this sleepe betokens that which cowardeth a mans heart from ghostly comfort, and to stand in the same through a deceiveable sleepe is this that lets a man of the blisse of heaven: the fiend makes men bold in sinne, and ferd to doe worship to God: death is a likening to a theefe that privily steales upon a man that now is rich, and full of wele, anon bee makes him a needy wretch? therefore said God by Saint Iohn in the Apocalyps in this wise, Bee thou waking, for if thou wake nought, I shall come to thee as a theefe, and thou shalt not wit what houre. And if the husbandman (sayes Christ) wist what houre the theefe should come, hee would wake and suffer him not to undermine his house. Saint Peter therefore warneth and saith: Wake and bee yee ware, suffer yee no man (hee saies) as a theefe, but willingly for Gods love; for it is time, as Peter sayes, that doome begin from the house of God. Yee beene the body of Christ, sayes Paul, that needs must suffer with the head, or else your bodies beene but dead and departed from Christ that is the head. And therefore curset bee hee, sayes Paul, that loves not Iesus Christ. And who it is that loves him, Christ himselfe tels in the Gospell: Hee that has my hests, and keepes them, hee it is that loves mee. Cursed hee bee therefore, sayes Paul, that doth Christs workes deceiveably. Bee yee not therefore, sayes Paul, ashamed of the true witnesse of Iesus Christ; for Christ our God sayes in his Gospell, Hee that shames mee and my words, him shall mans Sonne ashame, when hee shall come for to set in the siege of his Majestie. And each man, hee sayes, that knowes mee and my words before men in this sinfull generation and whorish, mans Sonne shall knowledge him before my Father, sayes Christ himselfe, when hee shall come with his angels in the glory of his Father. Sith yee therefore beene Christen men, that is to say, Christs men, shew in deed that yee beene such as yee daren shew you the Kings men; for hit had beene, as Peter saies, better not to have knowne the way of truth, than after the knowing thereof to bee converted backward therefrom. We knowen Christ, that is trought; wee sain all through our beliefe, if wee turne from him for dred, truly wee deny the troth. And therefore sith our time is short, how short no man knowes but God, do we the good that wee may to Gods worship, when wee have time. Bee true, saies God, to the death, and you shall have the crowne of life. And thinke on Iudas Macchabeus, that was Gods true knight, that comforted heartily Gods true people, to bee the followers of his law. And geve ye, he said, your lives for the testament of your fathers. And ye shulen win, hee said, great joy, and a name for evermore. Was not Abraham, he said, in temptation founden true, and was arectet unto him evermore to righteousnesse: Ioseph in time of his anguish he kept truely Gods hest, hee was made by Gods providence lord of Egypt, for his troth. Phinees our fadure loving, he saith, the zeale of God, tooke the testament of everlasting priesthood. Iosue, for hee fulfillet the word of God, was doomes man in Israel. Caleph, that witnessed in the church, he took therefore the heritage, he saith: David in his mercy hee gat the siege of the kingdome in worlds: Heli, for that hee loved the zeale of Gods law, was taken up into heaven. Ananie, Azarie, and Misael, hee sayes, weren delivered thoore through true beliefe out of the hoat flame of fire. True Daniel in his simplenesse was deliveret from the lions mouth. Bethinke ye therefore, he sayes, by generation and generation, and thou shalt never find that hee failed that man that truely trusted in him. And therefore dread you nought, hee sayes, of the words of a sinfull man; his glory is, he sayes, but wormes and tords: hee is to day, he saith, ymade hie, to morrow, he says, he is not founden; for he is turned, he sayes, into his earth again, and the minde of him is perishet. Sonnes therefore, he sayes, be yee comfortet, and die manly in the law: for when yee han done that that God commands you to doe, ye shulen be glorious in him. And King David sayes also on this wise in the Psalter booke: Blesset be they (Lord) that keepen thy law, in worlds of worlds they shall praise thee. And in Levit. sayes God thus, Gif that ye wenden in mine hests, and keepen my commandements, and done hem, I shall bring forth their fruit, and trees shall be fulfilled with apples. And ye shall eate your bread in fulnesse, ye shoulen dwell in your land without drede; I shall give peace in your costes, yee shall sleepe and no man shall feare you. Evill beasts I shall done away from you, and sword shall not passe your termes, yee shulne pursue your enemies, and they shall fall before you; fifty of yours shulne pursue an hundreth of heren, an hundret of yours, a thousand of theirs: your enemies, hee saith, sholen fall through sword, and your sute: I shall, hee sayes, behold you and make you to wax, and ye shall bee multipliet: And I shall strength with you my covenant, yee shall eat the aldest, and the new shulne come in thereon; and yee shulne cast forth the old: I shall dwell in the midst of you. And I shall wend amongs you, and I shall bee your God, and yee shulne bee my people. If that yee heare mee not, ne done nought all my hests, but despisen my law and my doomes, and that yee done not those things that of mee bene ordenet, and breaken my commandements and my covenants; I shall doe these things to you. I shall visit you surely in nene and brenning, which shall dimme your eghenen, and shall waste your lives about nought. Yee shulne sow your sede, for hit shall bee devouret of enemies, I shall put my face against you, and yee shall fall before your enemies. And yee shullen bee underlings to them that han hatet you, yee shall flee, no man pursuing. And if yee will not be buxome to mee, I shall adde thereunto thornes and sevenfold blame. And I shall all to-brast the hardnesse of you, I shall geve the heaven above you as iron, and the earth as brasse. About nought shall your labour bee, for the earth shall bring you forth no fruite, ne tree shall geve none apples unto you. If that ye wenden against mee, and will not heare mee, I shall adde hereto sevenfold wounds for your sinnes. I shall send amongst you beasts of the field that shall devoure you and your beasts, I shall bring you into a field, and wayes shulne be desart. And if that yee will not receive lore, but wenden against me, I will also wenden against you, and I shall smite you seven sithes for your sinnes. I shall leade in upon you sword, venger of my covenant; and upon the fleen into cities I shall send pestilence in the middest of you. So that tenne women shall bake their bread in one furnace, and yeld them againe by weight, and yee shall eat, and bee not fillet. If that yee heare mee not by these things, but wenden against mee, I shall wend in against you in a contrary woodnesse, and blame you with seven plagues for your sinnes, so that they shulne eate the flesh of your sonnes and of your daughters. And insomuch my soule shall loth you, that I shall bring your cities into wildernesse, and your sanctuaries I shall make desart, ne I shall not over that receive sweet odor of your mouth. And I shall disperkle your land, and enemies shullen marvell thereon, when they shulen inhabit it, I shall disperkle you among heathen, and draw my sword after you. These vengeances and many moe God said should fall on them that breake his bidding, and despiseth his lawes, and his doomes. Then sith Christ become man, and bought us with his heart blood, and has shewed us so great love, and given us an easie law, of the best that ever might bee made, and to bring us to the joy of heaven, and wee despise it and loven it nought: what vengeance will bee taken hereon, so long as hee has suffered us, and so mercifully abidden, when hee shall come that righteous judge in the cloudes to deme this world? Therefore turne wee us to him, and leave sinne that hee hates, and over all things maintaine his law that hee confirmed with his death. For other lawes, that men had made, should be demed at that day by the just law of Christ, and the maker that them made; and then we wonne that long life and that joy that Paul speaketh of, that eye ne see not, ne eare heard not, ne into mans heart ascended not, the blisse and joy that God hath ordained to them that loven him and his lawes.

"Deare worshipfull sirs in this world, I beseech you for Christs love, as yee that I trow loven Gods law and trouth (that in these dayes is greatly borne abacke) that they wollen vouchsafe these things that I send you written to Gods worship, to let them bee shewed in the parliament, as your wits can best conceive, to most worship to our God, and to sheaving of the trouth and amending of holy church. My conclusions, and mine appeale, and other true matters of Gods law (gif any man can finde therein error, falsenesse, or default, provet by the law of Christ clearely to Christen mens knowledge) I shall revoke my wrong conceit, and by Gods law bee amendet; ever ready to hold with Gods law openly and privily with Gods grace, and nothing to hold, teach, or maintaine that is contrary to his law."

Of this process, answers, and condemnation of this worthy priest, and true servant of Christ, William Swinderby, you have heard. What afterward became upon him I have not certainly to say or affirm; whether he in prison died, or whether he escaped their hands, or whether he was burned, there is no certain relation made. This remaineth out of doubt, that during the life of King Richard the Second, no great harm was done unto him. Which was to the year 1401, at what time King Richard being wrongfully deposed, Henry the Fourth invaded the kingdom of England. About the beginning of whose reign we read of a certain parliament holden at London, mentioned also of Thomas, Walden, as is above specified, in which parliament it was decreed, that whosoever showed themselves to be favourers of Wickliff, who at that time were called Lollards, they should be apprehended, and if so be they did obstinately persevere in that doctrine, they should be delivered over unto the bishop of the diocese, and from him should be committed unto the secular magistrate. This law, saith the story, brought a certain priest unto punishment the same year, who was burned in Smithfield in the presence of a great number. This we have drawn out of a piece of an old story; and it is most certain that there such a priest was burned for the affirmation of the true faith; but it doth not appear by the story what the priest's name was. Notwithstanding by divers conjectures it appeareth unto me that his name was Swinderby, that was forced to recant before the bishop of Lincoln. Whereby what is to be conjectured by the premises let other men judge what they think, I have nothing hereof expressly to affirm. This is plain for all men to judge, which have here seen and read his story, that if he were burned, then the bishops, friars, and priests, which were the causes thereof, have a great thing to answer to the Lord, when he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

Previous Next