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divers places, faith, hope, and charity began to flee from our
Church, because pride, with its doleful progeny of mortal
sins, claimed this under title of truth. This conclusion is
general, and proved by experience, custom, and manner or
fashion, as you shall afterwards hear.

2. The 2. That our usual priesthood which began in Rome,
now con- prctended to be of power more lofty than the angels, is not
ferred is that priesthood which Christ ordained for His apostles,
and not This Conclusion is proved because the Roman priesthood is
from bestowed with signs, rites, and pontifical blessings, of small

virtue, nowhere exemplified in Holy Scripture, because the
bishop's ordinal and the New Testament scarcely agree,
and we cannot see that the Holy Spirit, by reason of any
such signs, confers the gift, for He and all His excellent
gifts cannot consist in any one with mortal sin. A corol-
lary to this is that it is a grievous play for wise men to see
bishops trifle with the Holy Spirit in the bestowal of orders,
because they give the tonsure in outward appearance in the



XLi] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 127

place of white hearts ^ ; and this is the unrestrained intro- 1394.
duction of antichrist into the Church to give colour to
idleness.

3. That the law of continence enjoined to priests, which 3- Celibacy
was first ordained to the prejudice of women, brings sodomy o-Hevous
into all the Holy Church, but we excuse ourselves by the sin.
Bible because the decree says that we should not mention

it, though suspected. Reason and experience prove this
conclusion : reason, because the good living of ecclesiastics
must have a natural outlet or worse ; experience, because
the secret proof of such men is that they find delight in
women, and when thou hast proved such a man mark him
well, because he is one of them. A corollary to this is that
private religions and the originators or beginning of this sin
would be specially worthy of being checked, but God of
His power with regard to secret sin sends open vengeance
in His Church.

4. That the pretended miracle of the sacrament of bread 4- The pre-
drives all men, but a few, to idolatry, because they think that miracle of
the Body of Christ which is never away from heaven could the Mass

1 r ^ • 1 1 ^ i i • 11 • produces

by power of the priest s word be enclosed essentially in idolatry.
a little bread which they show the people ; but God grant
that they might be willing to believe what the evangelical
doctor says in his Trialogus (iv. 7), that the bread of the
altar is habitually the Body of Christ, for we take it that in
this way any faithful man and woman can by God's law
perform the sacrament of that bread without any such
miracle. A final corollary is that although the Body of
Christ has been granted eternal joy, the service of Corpus
Christi, instituted by Brother Thomas [Aquinas], is not true
but is fictitious^ and full of false miracles. It is no
wonder ; because Brother Thomas, at that time holding
with the pope, would have been willing to perform a miracle

* The Latin runs * loco alborum cervorum ' = harts.

* ' pictum,' qy. 'fictum '; but the clause is corrupt.



128



DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE [xli



1394.



5. Exor-
cism and
benedic-
tion of
material
things is
mere
jugglery.



6. No man
shouldhold
clerical and
lay offices
together.



7. Masses
for the
dead and
houses of
alms are on
a wrong
foundation.



with a hen's egg ; and we know well that any falsehood
openly preached turns to the disgrace of Him who is always
true and without any defect.

5. That exorcisms and blessings performed over wine,
bread, water and oil, salt, wax, and incense, the stones of
the altar, and church walls, over clothing, mitre, cross, and
pilgrims' staves, are the genuine performance of necro-
mancy rather than of sacred theology. This conclusion is
proved as follows, because by such exorcisms creatures are
honoured as being of higher virtue than they are in their
own nature, and we do not see any change in any creature
which is so exorcized^ save by false faith which is the
principal characteristic of the Devil's art. A corollary : that
if the book of exorcizing holy water, read in church, were
entirely trustworthy we think truly that the holy water used
in church would be the best medicine for all kinds of
illnesses — sores, for instance ; whereas we experience the
contrary day by day.

6. That king and bishop in one person, prelate and judge
in temporal causes, curate and officer in secular office, puts
any kingdom beyond good rule. This conclusion is clearly
proved because the temporal and spiritual are two halves of
the entire Holy Church. And so he who has applied him-
self to one should not meddle with the other, for no one
can serve two masters. It seems that hermaphrodite or
ambidexter would be good names for such men of double
estate. A corollary is that we, the procurators of God in
this behalf, do petition before Parliament that all curates,
as well superior as inferior, be fully excused and should
occupy themselves with their own charge and no other.

7. That special prayers for the souls of the dead offered
in our Church, preferring one before another in name, are
a false foundation of alms, and for that reason all houses
of alms in England have been wrongly founded. This con-
clusion is proved by two reasons : the one is that meritorious



XLi] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 129

prayer, and of any effect, ought to be a work proceeding 1394.
from deep charity, and perfect charity leaves out no one, ^ hundred

houses
for ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' And so it ^vould

is clear to us that the gift of temporal good bestowed on suffice.

the priesthood and houses of alms is a special incentive to

private prayer which is not far from simony. For another

reason is that special prayer made for men condemned is

very displeasing to God. And although it be doubtful, it

is probable to faithful Christian people that founders of a

house of alms have for their poisonous endowment passed

over for the most part to the broad road. The corollary is :

effectual prayer springing from perfect love would in general

embrace all whom God would have saved, and would do

away with that well-worn way or merchandise in special

prayers made for the possessionary mendicants and other

hired priests, who are a people of great burden to the whole

realm, kept in idleness : for it has been proved in one book,

which the king had, that a hundred houses of alms would

suffice in all the realm, and from this would rather accrue

possible profit to the temporal estate.

8. That pilgrimages, prayers, and offerings made to blind 8. Pilgrim-

crosses or roods, and to deaf images of wood or stone, are offerings to

pretty well akin to idolatry and far from alms, and although images are

these be forbidden and imaginary, a book of error to the lay

folk, still the customary image of the Trinity is specially

abominable. This conclusion God clearly proves, bidding

alms to be done to the needy man because they are the

image of God, and more like than wood or stone ; for God

did not say, ' let us make wood or stone in our likeness and

image,' but man ; because the supreme honour which clerks

call latria appertains to the Godhead only ; and the lower

honour which clerks call du/ia appertains to man and angel

and to no inferior creature. A corollary is that the service

of the cross, performed twice in any year in our church, is

full of idolatry, for if that should, so might the nails and

K



130 DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE [xli

1394, lance be so highly honoured ; then would the lips of Judas
be relics indeed if any were able to possess them. But we
ask you, pilgrim, to tell us when you offer to the bones of
saints placed in a shrine in any spot, whether you relieve
the saint who is in joy, or that almshouse which is so well
endowed and for which men have been canonized, God
knows how. And to speak more plainly, a faithful Christian
supposes that the wounds of that noble man, whom men
call St. Thomas, were not a case of martyrdom.
9. Auricu- 9. That auricular confession which is said to be so neces-
lar confes- g^j.y ^^ ^j^g salvation of a man, with its pretended power of

sion works •' .

greatharm. absolution, exalts the arrogance of priests and gives them

opportunity of other secret colloquies which we will not
speak of ; for both lords and ladies attest that, for fear of
their confessors, they dare not speak the truth. And at the
time of confession there is a ready occasion for assignation
that is for ' wooing,' and other secret understandings leading
to mortal sins. They themselves say that they are God's
representatives to judge of every sin, to pardon and cleanse
whomsoever they please. They say that they have the keys
of heaven and of hell, and can excommunicate and bless,
bind and loose, at their will, so much so that for a drink,
or twelve pence, they will sell the blessing of heaven with
charter and close warrant sealed with the common seal.
This conclusion is so notorious that it needs not any proof.
It is a corollary that the pope of Rome, who has given
himself out as treasurer of the whole Church, having in
charge that worthy jewel of Christ's passion together with
the merits of all saints in heaven, whereby he grants pre-
tended indulgence from penalty and guilt, is a treasurer
almost devoid of charity, in that he can set free all that
are prisoners in hell at his will, and cause that they should
never come to that place. But in this any Christian can
well see there is much secret falsehood hidden away in our
Church.



XLi] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 131

10. That manslaughter in war, or by pretended law of 1394.
justice for a temporal cause, without spiritual revelation, is ^o- War is
expressly contrary to the New Testament, which indeed is the to the New
law of grace and full of mercies. This conclusion is openly Testament,
proved by the examples of Christ's preaching here on

earth, for he specially taught a man to love his enemies, and
to show them pity, and not to slay them. The reason is
this, that for the most part, when men fight, after the first
blow, charity is broken. And whoever dies without charity
goes the straight road to hell. And beyond this we know
well that no clergyman can by Scripture or lawful reason
remit the punishment of death for one mortal sin and not
for another ; but the law of mercy, which is the New Testa-
ment, prohibits all manner of manslaughter, for in the
Gospel : ' It was said unto them of old time. Thou shalt not
kill.' The corollary is that it is indeed robbery of poor folk
when lords get indulgences from punishment and guilt for
those who aid their army to kill a Christian people in distant
lands for temporal gain, just as we too have seen soldiers
who run into heathendom to get them a name for the
slaughter of men ; much more do they deserve ill thanks
from the King of Peace, for by our humility and patience
was the faith multiplied, and Christ Jesus hates and threatens
men who fight and kill, when He says : ' He who smites
with the sword shall perish by the sword.'

11. That the vow of continence made in our Church by n. Vows
women who are frail and imperfect in nature, is the cause ^^^^^^^tity

^ ' among

of bringing in the gravest horrible sins possible to human women

nature, because, although the killing of abortive children ^° ^'"*

before they are baptized and the destruction of nature by

drugs are vile sins, yet connexion with themselves or brute

beasts or any creature not having life surpasses them in

foulness to such an extent as that they should be punished

with the pains of hell. The corollary is that, widows and

such as take the veil and the ring, being delicately fed, we

K 2



132 DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE [xli

1394. could wish that they were given in marriage, because we

cannot excuse them from secret sins.

12. Unne- 12. That the abundance of unnecessary arts practised in

^^r^lf uld ^^^ I'ealm nourishes much sin in waste, profusion, and dis-

be re- guise. This, experience and reason prove in some measure,

strained, because nature is sufficient for a man's necessity with few

arts. The corollary is that since St. Paul says : ' having food

and raiment, let us be therewith content,' it seems to us that

goldsmiths and armourers and all kinds of arts not necessary

for a man, according to the apostle, should be destroyed for

the increase of virtue; because although these two said

arts were exceedingly necessary in the old law, the New

Testament abolishes them and many others.

These con- This is our embassy, which Christ has bidden us fulfil,

elusions ^gj-y necessary for this time for several reasons. And
are a brief •' •'

summary although these matters are briefly noted here they are how-
only, gygj. ggj. forth at large in another book, and many others
besides, at length in our own language, and we wish that these
were accessible to all Christian people. We ask God then
of His supreme goodness to reform our Church, as being
entirely out of joint, to the perfectness of its first beginning.

[Foxe^s translation of some contemporary verses added
to the foregoing document ?\

Conclud- The English nation doth lament of these vile men their
ing verses. gjn,

Which Paul doth plainly signify by idols to begin.
But Gehazites full ingrate from sinful Simon sprung,
This to defend, though priests in name, make bulwarks

great and strong.
Ye princes, therefore, whom to rule the people God hath

placed
With justice' sword, why see ye not this evil great de

faced ?



XLii] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 133



XLII.
THE ACT 'DE H^ERETICO COMBURENDO,'

A. D. 1401.

2 Henry IV, cap. 15.

Letters Patent against the Lollards had been issued in 1382 and 1401.
1384 (vide ante, No. XXXVIII), but the following Act was the earliest
step taken by Parliament to suppress Lollardy. The Act was ex-
panded by 2 Henry V, Stat, i, cap. 7, and repealed by 25 Henry VIII,
cap. 14, I Edward VI, cap. 12 ; revived by i & 2 Philip and Mary,
cap. 8 {post, No. LXXIII), and repealed by i Elizabeth, cap. i {post,
No. LXXIX), and 29 Charles II, cap. 9.

[Tr. Statutes of the Realm, ii. 125.]

Whereas it is showed to our sovereign lord the king on The
behalf of the prelates and clergy of his realm of England ?^?°^Jf
in this present Parliament, that although the Catholic served by
faith, founded upon Christ, and by His apostles and the thekmgs

progeni-

Holy Church sufficiently determined, declared, and ap- torsandthe

proved, has been hitherto by good and holy and most rights and

ui • r • 1 J 1 1 • • 1. -J liberties ol

noble progenitors of our sovereign lord the king in the said theEnglish

realm, amom^st all the realms of the world, most devoutly Church

, upheld by

observed, and the English Church by his said most noble them.

progenitors and ancestors, to the honour of God and of

the whole realm aforesaid, laudably endowed, and in her

rights and liberties sustained, without that that the same

faith or the said Church was hurt or grievously oppressed, or

else disturbed by any perverse doctrine or wicked, heretical,

or erroneous opinions :

Yet nevertheless divers false and perverse people of The false

a certain new sect, damnably thinking of the faith of the doctrme of

a new sect,
sacraments of the Church and the authority of the same,

and, against the law of God and of the Church, usurping the

office of preaching, do perversely and maliciously, in divers



134 DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE [xlii

1401. places within the said realm, under the colour of dissembled
holiness, preach and teach in these days, openly and privily,
divers new doctrines and wicked, heretical, and erroneous
opinions, contrary to the same faith and blessed determina-
tions of the Holy Church.
Means And of such sect and wicked doctrine and opinions, they

ta en to ^-^^\^q unlawful conventicles and confederacies, they hold

spread this ' ^

false and exercise schools, they make and write books, they do

octrine. wickedly instruct and inform people, and, as much as they

may, excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection,

and make great strife and division among the people, and

do daily perpetrate and commit other enormities horrible

to be heard, in subversion of the said CathoHc faith and

doctrine of the Holy Church, in diminution of God's honour,

and also in destruction of the estate, rights, and liberties

of the said English Church; by which sect and wicked

and false preachings, doctrines, and opinions of the said

false and perverse people, not only the greatest peril of

souls, but also many more other hurts, glanders, and perils,

which God forbid, might come to this realm, unless it be

the more plentifully and speedily helped by the king's

majesty in this behalf, namely :

Why the Whereas the diocesans of the said realm cannot by their

bishops, by ju J. jg(jj(.|-JQj^ spiritual, without aid of the said royal majesty,

spiritual Sufficiently correct the said false and perverse people, nor

jurisdic- refrain their malice, because the said false and perverse
tion, can-
not, with- people go from diocese to diocese, and will not appear

out the before the said diocesans, but the same diocesans and their

sufficiently jurisdiction spiritual, and the keys of the church, with the

correct censures of the same, do utterly disregard and despise, and

so they continue and exercise their wicked preachings and

doctrines, from day to day, to the utter destruction of all

order and rule of right and reason.

The pre- Upon which novelties and excesses above rehearsed, the

clergy and Prelates and clergy aforesaid, and also the Commons of the



XLii] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 135

said realm being in the same Parliament, have prayed 1401.

our sovereign lord- the king, that his royal highness would Commons

vouchsafe in the said Parliament to provide a convenient king to

remedy : the same our sovereign lord the king — graciously provide a

. remedy,
considering the premises, and also the laudable steps of his

said most noble progenitors and ancestors, for the conserva-
tion of the said Catholic faith, and sustentation of God's
honour, and also the safeguard of the estate, rights, and
liberties of the said English Church, to the praise of God,
and merit of our said sovereign lord the king, and pros-
perity and honour of all his said realm, and for the
eschewing of such dissensions, divisions, hurts, slanders,
and perils, in time to come, and that this wicked sect,
preachings, doctrines, and opinions should from henceforth
cease and be utterly destroyed — by the assent of the estates
and other discreet men of the realm, being in the said
Parliament, has granted, stablished, and ordained from
henceforth firmly to be observed : That none within the The king
said realm, or any other dominions, subject to his royal ^"^^^ p^J_^'
majesty, presume to preach, openly or privily, without the hibit un-
licence of the diocesan of the same place first required and pJeachi^g.
obtained — curates in their own churches, and persons hitherto Except by

privileared, and others of the canon law granted, only except, curates in
, , - , r , 1,1, their own

And that none, from henceforth, preach, hold, teach, or churches

instruct anything, openly or privily, or make or write any ^"d per-

sons
book contrary to the Catholic faith or determination of the hitherto

Holy Church, nor that any of such sect and wicked doctrines privileged,
and opinions shall make any conventicles, or in any wise hold j.°"^h ° j.
or exercise schools. And also that none from henceforth in write
any wise favour such preacher, or maker of any such and ^athohV ^
the like conventicles, or holding or exercising schools, or faith, or
making or writing such books, or so teaching, informing, ^^°"^
or exciting the people, nor them, nor any of them, maintain or teachers
or in any wise sustain. against it.

And that all and singular having such books or any heretlca"^



136 DOCUMENTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE [xlii

1401. writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions, shall really,
writings to ^yj|.|^ effect, deliver, or cause to be delivered, all such books

deliver .

same,with- and writings to the diocesan of the same place within

in forty f^j-j-y ^j^yg {^q^ ^he time of the proclamation of this ordi-
days,tothe ■' •'

diocesan, nance and statute. And if any person or persons, of
Persons whatsoever kind, estate, or condition he or they be, from
of owning henceforth do or attempt against the royal ordinance
same and Statute aforesaid, in the premises or in any of them, or

so deliver- ^^^^ books, in form aforesaid, do not deliver, then the
ing, to be diocesan of the same place, in his diocese, such person or
and^pro- P^rsons, in this behalf defamed or evidently suspected, and
ceeded every of them, may, by the authority of the said ordinance
canon law ^"^ Statute, cause to be arrested, and under safe custody in
his prisons to be detained, till he or they, of the articles laid
to him or them in this behalf, canonically purge him or
themselves, or else such wicked sect, preachings, doctrines,
and heretical and erroneous opinions abjure, according
as the laws of the Church do require ; so that the said
diocesan, by himself or his commissaries, do openly and
judicially proceed against such persons so arrested and
remaining under his safe custody to all effect of the law,
and determine that same business, according to the canonical
decrees, within three months after the said arrest, any lawful
impediment ceasing.
Persons And if any person, in any case above expressed, be, before

callv con- ^^^ diocesan of the place, or his commissaries, canonically
victed to convicted, then the same diocesan may cause to be kept in
prison or" ^^^ prison the said person so convicted according to the
be deliver- manner of his default, and after the quality of the offence,
secular ^ according and as long as to his discretion shall seem expe-
court dient, and moreover put the same person to pay a pecuniary
fine to the lord the king, except in cases where he, accord-
ing to the canonical decree, ought to be left to the secular
court, according as the same fine shall seem competent to the
diocesan, for the manner and quality of the offence, in which



XLii] HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 137

case the same diocesan shall be bound to certify the king 1401.

of the same fine in his exchequer by his letters patent

sealed with his seal to the effect that such fine, by the king's

authority, may be required and levied to his use of the

goods of the same person so convicted.

And if any person within the said realm and dominions, Officers of

upon the said wicked preachings, doctrines, opinions, schools, ^^cular

and heretical and erroneous informations, or any of them, be, receiveand

before the diocesan of the same place, or his commissaries, Publicly

^ ' . burn those

convicted by sentence, and the same wicked sect, preachings, convicted

doctrines and opinions, schools and informations, do refuse ^'^ I'^^. .
1^ ^ ' ecclesiasti-

duly to abjure, or by the diocesan of the same place, or his cal courts
commissaries, after abjuration made by the same person, ofi'efusmg

' ■' •' r- 7 to abjure

be pronounced relapsed, so that according to the holy their

canons he ought to be left to the secular court, whereupon heresy, or
^ ^ ofrelaps-

credence shall be given to the diocesan of the same place, ing into it.
or to his commissaries in this behalf — then the sheriff of
the county of the same place, and the mayor and sheriff or
sheriffs, or mayor and bailiffs of the city, town, or borough of
the same county nearest to the same diocesan or the said
commissaries, shall be personally present in preferring of such
sentences, when they, by the same diocesan or his commis-
saries, shall be required : and they shall receive the same per-
sons and every of them, after such sentence promulgated, and
them, before the people, in a high place \e7fit?ienti] cause to be
burnt, that such punishment may strike fear to the minds of
others, whereby no such wicked doctrine and heretical and
erroneous opinions, nor their authors and favourers in the
said realm and dominions, against the Catholic faith, Christian
law, and determination of the Holy Church be sustained
(which God forbid), or in any wise suffered. In which all
and singular the premises concerning the said ordinance and



Online LibraryHenry GeeDocuments illustrative of English church history → online text (page 12 of 59)