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what if under Paul's name there was an Epistle forged to



the Thessalonians, ought we therfore to have his other
Epistles in less esteem ? God forbid. Velenus should
shew, if he can, for what reason any of the heretics should
feign, that Peter was at Rome, or whose heresy would by
this opinion be in the least promoted. To this very day
no one is to be found, except Velenus alone, and he a
capital foe to the Roman Church, who ever denied that
Peter was at Rome. As to the Apostle's dying at Rome,
suppose there is some variety as to the year or day when
they were put to death, this ought not to be an argument
that they were not put to death at Rome, no more than we
ought to doubt of Christ's death at Jerusalem, when yet
there is no little controversie among writers, not only about
the year, but also about the day when he was crucified.
As to Velenus's stiling what is ascribed to Linus concern-
ing the passions of Peter and Paul, inventions and lies, he
has, the Bishop says, no reason for it : since the things he
quotes from Paul are not inconsistent, but relating to dif-
ferent times, which the adversary either orders prepos-
terously, or very odly confounds. But should he grant to
the adversary, that these three books of Linus, Dyonisius,
and Hegesippus, were forged, there are innumerable
writers besides, and so many monuments of that matter
extant, that he must be a very impudent man who should
attempt to contradict it: besides a most constant fame,
V. which Jerome and others call the law of history. To the
answer to the ffth objection, the Bishop observes, that
Velenus attempts here to prove, that Christ never spake
the foresaid words to Peter. But, says he, for what
reason ? To wit, because Christ never has descended from
heaven since he ascended thither ; nor ever will come
again from thence before the day of judgment ; which he
attempts to prove from Scripture, and particularly from
Acts, iii. the words of Peter himself, Whom the heaven must receive
till the time of restitution of all things, Sec. But, says the



DR. JOHN FISHER. 271

Bishop, from this Scripture nothing more can be collected CHAP,
than that Christ is perpetually to remain in heaven till he ^^^'
come to judgment; and this no wise contradicts the
former story of his appearing to Peter : since Christ may
by his miraculous power exhibit himself corporally present
on earth, and yet nevertheless continue in heaven at the
right hand of the father inconvulsibly. His Lordship
adds, that there is nothing in this story of Peter unlike
the colloquy or conversation which Christ had with Paul
when he appeared to him in his way to Damascus ; and
that there is more than one witness of this story of Peter,
as Eusebius, Linus, ^gesippus, and Ambrose. To Ve-
lenus's answer to the sixth objection, the Bishop says, VI.
there is no one called in the Holy Scriptures Mark Aris-
tarchus, as they are two persons in the Epistle to the
Colossians, so they are also in that to Philemon : that the
adversary owns, that this Mark, whom Paul remembers to
Philemon, wrote the Gospel according to Mark, and ther-
fore he cannot deny, that he was called by Peter his son :
now that he whom Peter called his son was the cousin of
Barnabas is plain from the Acts. His Lordship adds, that
since in the Acts, Aristarchus is often mentioned, but
never called Mark, it's by no means probable either, that
in the Epistle to Philemon he was called Mark Aristar-
chus, or that in those two Epistles to the Colossians and
Philemon, Paul should mention two called by the name of
Mark. To the answer to the last objection, the Bishop yil.
reply s, that the reader here sees what fetches the adver-
sary uses : for when he ought to have answered the testi-
mony of Jerome, he does not do it ; but, avoiding the
dart, he pretends, that he has proved, by very powerful
reasons, that Peter was never at Rome, which is nothing
else but to shew himself conquered. For he cannot deny,
that Philo was some time at Rome, so great is the consent
of writers in this aifair ; and therfore by way of subterfuge,
he betakes himself to the fiction of Philo's rather contract-
ing friendship with Peter in Judaea. But that 'tis plain



372 THE LIFE OF

CHAP, the adversary has done nothinor by this cavil of his, since
XVI ... o .' '

' it no wise hinders Peter's being at Rome, as Eusebius



and Jerome, no inconsiderable authors, constantly affirm.
And indeed if the adversary had not cast away all shame,
he would by these proofs be so restrained, as no longer to
bark against Peter's pontificate at Rome : shame, if he
was not a man of the most brazen forehead, would restrain
him from affirming so extraordinary a lie. But all the
Lutherans have imbibed so much malice against the See
of Peter, that, as a rotten ^ close-stool always sends forth
nothing but a pestilent vapour, so they don't cease to
vomit out against the Pope and his See what lies and
calumnies they are able to invent. The Bishop thus con-
cludes his Confutation, &c. He thinks it plain, he says,
from this answer of his, by what foolish pratings, frivolous
sophisms, and most trifling trifles the adversary has at-
tempted to shew, that Peter was never at Rome ; and, on
the contrary, by what effectual reasons, by what solid sub-
scriptions of authors, and by what more evident tokens he
has demonstrated that Peter was at Rome, so that he be-
lieves the reader desires nothing more to be said for this
cause. But notwithstanding, ex ahundanti, he shall en-
deavour agen to shew how these things in the Gospel
which suit this matter, serve to the purpose. For the
* See Bar- present he shall only remember three. I. That Peter, tho'
supremacy, h^ was not the first* called by Christ, was yet by Christ
constituted thefirst among the Apostles. IL That Peter
was called by Christ Petra, the rock, upon which the
structure of his Church should be raised. IIL That it
was said to him by Christ, / have prayed for thee, Peter,
that thy faith fail not. These things the Bishop thought so

•^ In much such a cleanly manner does our Bishop's great friend, Sir
Thomas Moore, treat Luther. Heec est domini doctoris posterioristice, qui
quutn sihijam priusfas esse scripserit coronam regim/i conspergere et conspur-
care stercoribus ; an 71071 nobis fas erit posterius hi/jiis posterioristice lingnam
stercoratam pronunciare dignissimam ut vel meientis mulae posteriora lingat
suis prioribus donee rectins ex prioribus didicerit posteriores concludere
propositionibus. Respo7uio ad cotivitia M. Jmtheri, fol 72, b. col. 1.



DR. JOHN FISHER. 273

plain, that they could not be denied by any but those who chap.
are perfectly shameless ; and therfore he refers it to the ^^^'
reader to consider with himself, whether it does not most
fitly agree to the Jirst of these : that when the whole world
was to be converted to Christianity, that city which is ac-
counted the^r*^ should by divine appointment fall to the
lot of no other for a seat than of him who was the Jirst
among the Apostles. As to the second, who, says the
Bishop, does not know, that the Church which we now have,
proceeded from no other Apostle than Peter only ? Who
therfore does not see how agreeable it is to those words
of Christ that Peter sometime sat at Rome? since from
the Roman Church, as from the chief fountain, the light
of the true faith shines to the rest of the churches which
are dispersed thro' Christendome. Lastly, the Bishop ob-
serves, that if we consider what has been said in the third
place of the faith of Peter, we shall plainly perceive, that
it's by no means fit that Peter should have for his prin-
cipal seat any of the churches which are now in the pos-
session of the darkness of infidelity, as Antioch, &c. but
that he should have that part of the world in which the
evangelical faith should not be extinguished, that which,
the Bishop adds, he scarce dares to assert has happened
to any other of the Apostles.

In this manner did the Bishop assert the certainty of
the Apostle Peter's being at Rome, in order to support
the opinion of his being bishop of that place : an opinion
which, however it may serve the purpose of his supposed
successors there, is so far from being to the honour of the
Apostle, that it rather lessens and degrades him, and, to
use the words of a learned writer, is a disparagement to Barrow of
the apostolical majesty. So much superior is the office of *^^ Supre-
an Apostle to that of a particular bishop. But however scai. ia
this be, it has been observed, that the time which old tra- Euseb.

J. . . /> o T-« Onuph.apud

dition assigns of St. Peter's going to Rome is rejected by Beliar.—
divers learned men, even of the Roman party, and by Vaies. ia
others asserted to be not till a long time after the 44th E^^^^-

T



274 THE LIFE OF

CHAP, year of Christ, or the 2nd of Claudius Caesar. But whe-

XVT

' ther Peter was ever at Rome or not, it's plain, as was said

before, no argument on either side of the question can be

had from the Scripture, but must be deduced from pro-

Summa fane history. This being observed by Velenus, and that

Joarniis"^ there was a great variety and disagreement among the

Raiaoidi writers in setling the time when Peter came to Rome ;
cum Jo- . vi • 1 1 • f> 1 T>

anne Harto observmg likewise the shameless practice of the Romanists
fide E^cde- ^" fogging fables to serve their cause, as in the pretended
siae. donation of Constantine, and being sensible that a fraud of

■ the same nature was in those monuments which they have
left concerning Peter, as is that fable of Linus about his
death : and lastly, having found, that St. Peter's martyr-
dome is remembred by Jerome and Lyra, as if he was
crucified by the scribes and pharisees, he was led by those
and the like reasons into an opinion, that Peter was never
at Rome. But in this, as he is acknowledged to be very
singular, so it seems as if he was mistaken, since all the
fathers do with one mouth declare that he was at Rome.
Accordingly, it has been observed, that none of all the
Protestants who have been employed in compiling histo-
ries and chronicles, excepting Bale, however they may
have spoken doubtfully of it, and as what is no article of
our faith, have ever *" denied, that Peter was at Rome, but
only, that he did not go thither till a long time after the
44th year of Christ, or the 3rd of Claudius. But however
A.D. 1523. this be, in July this year was published an answer to this
book of the Bishop's, of which I've not been able to come
at the sight of any more than the title. It was written by
Simon Hess, and had this title praefixed to it. ^An Apo-
logy against the Lord of Rochester, an English bishop, on

* See a Discourse of Peter's Lyfe, Peregrination and Death, wherin is
plainly proved, by the order of time and place, that Peter was never at
Rome, by Christo: Carlile, Rector of Hackney, London, 1582.

^ Apologia Simonis Hessi adversus dominum Roffensem Episcopum An-
glicanum super concertatione ejus cum Ulrico Veleno, An Petrus fuerit
Roraae,e.tquid de primatu Romani Pontificis sit censendum. Addita est



DR. JOHN FISHER. 275

his dispute with Ulric Velenus, whether Peter was ever at CHAP.
Rome, and what is to be thought of the primacy of the
Roman pontiff. In it, I suppose, was Velenus's opinion
defended, but I don't find that any notice was ever taken
of it by the Bishop.

5. Cardinal Wolsey at this time summoned a convoca-
tion of the clergy, to consider of, and provide for the
reformation of their lives. His mandate for this purpose
is entred in our Bishop's register, and dated at his palace
at Westminster, May 7, 1523. The monastery, or nunnery
of Higham, was likewise now appropriated to the college
of St. John the Evangelist, in Cambridge, the instrument
of this union and annexing is dated May 19, 1523. There
is likewise entred in our Bishop's register the abjuration
of one Thomas Batman, heremyte, and late keper of the
chapel of St. WilHams, in the parishe of St. Margaret's
next Rochester.

Epistola eruditissima de Ecclesiasticorum pastorum autoritate et officiis in
Bubditos et subditorum in superiores obedientia.

Versa pagina, Lector, conspicies libelli summam.

At the end, Julii Mense An?ii M.D. xxiij. 12 leaves, in large 4".



276 THE LIFE OF



CHAP. xvn.

1. Of the Bishop's ill state of health. 2. His desiring
Erasmus to write a treatise of the manner of Preaching.

1. 1 HESE severe studies and labours of the Bishop
seem to have had a very ill effect on his health, inso-
much, that in a letter wrote by him about this time to
his dear friend, Erasmus, he intimated to him, that he
very much doubted whether his book, which Erasmus was
then compiling, and which the Bishop hastened him to
finish, would find him alive. This intimation was yet fur- i
ther explained to Erasmus by the Bishop's servant who <
brought him this letter, who assured him, that his lord was
afflicted with a very ill state of health. Erasmus, therfore,
in his answer to this letter of his Lordship's, dated from
A. D. 1524. Basil, September 4, 1524, tells the Bishop, that he no
way indulged his thin body : that he suspected that a
great part of his illness proceeded from the place, and that
therfore, if he'd give him leave, he'd act the part of a
physician to him : that it was near the sea, and the slub,
being every now and then left bare by the tide, exasper-
ated the air ; that he had a study which was glass windows
on every side of it, which thro' their chinks transmitted a
subtile, and, as the physicians speak, a percolated air,
which was pestilential to thin and weak bodies : that he
was very sensible how much the Bishop was in his study,
which was a paradise to him, or in which he took the
greatest pleasure; but that if he was to stay in such a
place but three hours he should be sick : that therfore a
chamber would be more convenient for him with a boarded
floor and wainscotted walls, since bricks and lime produce
a noxious steam : that he knew, that to those who live a
devout life, death is not formidable ; but that the whole
Church has an interest in the life of such a bishop, when



DR. JOHN 'FISHER. 277

there is so great a scarcity of good ones. Tho' as for chap.

Erasmus, it was not much matter how he did. '__

2. The book mentioned to Erasmus by the Bishop

seems to have been, Of the manner of preaching, about

which his Lordship desired this great man to compose a

discourse. Erasmus himself intimated in the Epistle De- Basil, Aug.

6 1535
dicatory to what he calls a Miscellany, rather than a just '

treatise on this subject, that the Bishop pressed him very

much to set about this work ; and that tho' he did not

actually promise his Lordship, he yet intended to oblige

him with this book. To induce him to undertake and

finish such a performance, Erasmus tells us, his Lordship

signified to him, that he had then the care of three col- Queen's,

leges in the most celebrated University of Cambridge, of gg^^^j'^g^*,

which he was likewise Chancellor, from whence his aim ^^^^ ^\.

isarnardi.
was, that there should come forth divines, not so much Christ's

furnished with weapons to maintain a fight about words, john'sColl.
as instructed soberly to preach the word of God. By
what has been said before, it appears how sensible the
Bishop always was of the necessity and usefulness of
sober, serious, and affectionate preaching. But it's not
at all improbable, that now he had a better opinion of it
than ever, since he saw how much, thro' the neglect of it,
the Reformation gained ground, the patrons of which did
all they could to recommend themselves by it. Whatever
has been said to soften and palHate this fact of there
being but few sermons in the time of popery, it's very noto-
rious, that as there was then very Uttle preaching, so what
there was of it was far enough from being to the edifica-
tion of the hearers. The preachers of those times were
generally of the orders of the begging friers, who were
the Pope's questors or pardon-mongers, and whose busi-
ness it was in their sermons, instead of preaching the
Gospel, and promoting the power of godliness, by plea-
sant flattering and lying words, to get people together Ricardi
about them only that they might have, and eat, and devour g^^^^^^f^i^
their worldly things, insomuch, that they became the very 85, b.



278



THE TLIFE OF



CHAP.
XVJI.



Vicaria
Leodien-
eis, App.



scorn and jest of the poets. As for the parish priests, or

they who had the cures of souls, who were not always in

See Chau- priest's Orders, a writer of those times tells us, " they

cer, &c. ^ ' . ,

Of the Or- "•' were so unkunning, that men ^scorned them in saying of

PHesthode " ^^^ir service, in reading of their Epistle and Gospel."
MS. To the same purpose Archbishop Peccam had observed

before, that the people were plunged into error thro' the
ignorance of the priests, and therfore he made a constitu-
tion, requiring every parish priest to read to his parishi-
oners four times a year, or once a quarter, the explanation
of the fourteen Articles of faith, the Ten Commandments,
&c. which he there gave them. But, alas ! this signified
little, the explanation itself needing explaining to men so
ignorant as not to understand plain Latin. Thoresby,
Archbishop of York, therfore translated into English this
explanation for the use of the clergy of his diocese, for
which his Grace gave the following reason. *' For thi
" that mikel folke now in yis world ne is noght wele ynogh
** lered to knawe God almighten, ne love him, ne serve
" him als thai suld do — and peraventure ye defaitor in
" thaime that has thaire saules to kepe, and suld teche
" thame als prelates, parsons, vikers, and priestes."— We
therfore need not wonder at Dr. Gascoigne's complaint
afterwards, that there were but few good preachers of
God's word, and Dean Colet's observation about our
Bishop's time, that the vicars and parish priests were
foohsh and unmeet. Our Bishop's friend, Erasmus, agen
Episto. Li- and agen takes notice, that the people at this time seldom
ep. iv. lib. heard evangelical preachers, or those who preached the
xxix. ep. Gospel, and yet seldomer fit or proper ones: that in
country villages, and even in some towns, they never, or
very rarely, heard the word of God, or the Gospel of
Christ. He intimates the same in his Epistle dedicatory
before this book of the manner of pi'eaching, which he
intended for the Bishop, if he had not been prevented by



Diction:
Theolog.-

MS.

Oratio ad
Clerum.
1511.



A. S, jceapn, dung, dregs.



DR. JOHN FISHER. 279

his untimely death. He observed, that nothing contri- CHAP.

butes more to the amendment of people's manners, than '_

the scattering abroad the seed of the Gospel by fit
preachers. For, says he, whence is it, that in the hearts
of a great many Christ is so cold, not to say quite extinct ?
whence is it, that under the Christian name there is so
much real paganism, but from the scarcity of faithful
preachers ? v'



280 THE LIFE OF



CHAP. XVIII.

1 . The Bishop writes a Defence of the Christian Priest-
hode, in answer to Luther. 2. Some account of this
book.

I. Notwithstanding the regard shewed by the

Bishop to the friendship of Erasmus, it seems his advice
had not that effect on him as to cause him to desist from
his prosecuting with so much eagerness his beloved stu-
dies for the sake of his health. For not long after the
publication of his book against Velenus came forth ano-
ther, written by him in opposition to Luther, which he
A,D 524. entituled, A Defence of the Sacred Priesthode against
Luther. In this tract his Lordship refers to this little
book of his against Velenus, in which, he says, he has
shewn, that the succession which began from Christ is not
to be ended before that all things which are predicted by
Christ shall be accomplished.

2. In a prologue prefixed to this book, the Bishop gives
the following account of it. He had not, he says, without
much grief of mind, read a great many books which Lu-
ther had some time since published : for that in them he
found every where dispersed so much poison, wherewith
the minds of the simpler sort, and that in no small
number, were every day mortally infected. But he had
never seen any book more pestilent, more unsound and
impudent, than that to which Luther had given the title
* Of abrogating the Mass, in which he attempts wholly
to abolish the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ,
which has hitherto been reckoned by the Church princi-
pally salutiferous, and the great incentive of devotion in
all the faithful servants of Christ. And that he may with
greater probability effect this, he contends, says the

j_* de abroganda Missa privattt.



DR. JOHN FISHER. 281

Bishop, with abundance of prating, that there is no visible CHAP,
priesthode; but that the priesthode which the ancient _i^I^
fathers usurped for so many ages, was partly made up of
humane lies, and partly erected by satanical instincts.

3. It's much such another account that Maimbourg
gives of this book of Luther's, that in it he determined,
that the mass cannot be a sacrifice ; that there is no pur-
gatory, nor transubstantiation, but that the body and blood
of Jesus Christ are in the sacrament under the substance
of bread and wine : that both species of the sacrament are
to be given to the laity : that there is no difference betwixt
the clergy and laity, but that every one in the Church has
the same power of consecrating and administring the
sacraments, and also of teaching, altho', for order's and
decency's sake, this power be committed to elders, by
which he means presbyters and bishops, &c. But Seek- Comm. de
endorf observed, that these things were represented more Lutheran-

o ^ ismo, s cm

invidiously than truly : that Luther inquiring more accu-
rately into the distinction of clergy and laity, thought him-
self convinced by very plain texts of Scripture, that after
the taking away the priesthode of the Old Testament, and l Pet. ii. 9.
Christ's being constituted the only priest of the New and xx!' '
Covenant, all true Christians, or all the faithful, were to
be accounted spiritual priests, and that there was no more
occasion for other priests, properly so called, than for a
sacrifice either bloody or ceremonial, and representative, un-
less it were to present themselves every day spiritual sacri-
fices unto God, anu instead of a sacrifice, to offer prayers
and thanksgivings in spirit and in truth, and whatsoever
else of worship and observance which may please God
thro' Christ. But that Luther never denied, that particular
men ought to be appointed to preach the word of God,
and administer the sacraments ; nor said, that, unless there
was the utmost necessity, any of the faithful might, of bro-
therly charity, do those things which ordinarily ought to
be done by the ministers of the Church. That if, therfore,
he had either wrote or said any things on this article more



282 THE LIFE OF

CHAP, freely, it was to depress the too great prerogatives of the
xviir. clergy, which they thought their due by divine right, and
very much abused.

4. The Bishop proceeds to tell us, that Luther endea-
voured to shew, that there was no visible priesthode, by
three arguments, and that therfore he should likewise
attempt to brandish against Luther three other attacks, by
which, as by a sponge, he would wipe out whatsoever
Luther with his filthy and blasphemous mouth had ob-
jected to the priests. But that there may be no confu-
sion, and the reader not left uncertain, as often as attacks
are mentioned, whether he is to understand them of the
Bishop or of Luther, he shall call, he says, his own
attacks, congresses. The Jirst of these, his Lordship
says, shall be a prescription of the former truth, which
has been infallibly conveyed down to us by the orthodox
fathers, from the first founders of the Church themselves.
The second will be a certain series of axioms digested from
the Holy Scriptures, and placed in order, by which that
priesthode, which Luther calls visible, will be plainly de-
termined. The third will be a plain confi.itation of every
one of Luther's arguments to the contrary.
I. In laying down the ancient prescription, his Lordship

begins with St. Augustine, and so goes backward, quoting
the following writers of the Church, viz. Hierome, Am-
brose, Hilary, Arnobius, Cyprian, Tertullian, Gennadius,
Cyrillus, Chrysostome, Gregory Nazianzene, Basil, Euse-
bius, Origen, Egesippus, Ignatius, Polycarp, Dionysius,



Online LibraryJohn LewisThe life of Dr. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, in the reign of King Henry VIII (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 32)