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142 [1334]

Actes and Monumentes of Marters.

truth, how worthy a thing had it ben, for the Apostolike dignity. Firste to haue communicate the matter, with the man him self, or els to haue debated the same (as far as had bene lawfull) amongst learned men. Truely it had bene their offyce and duety, stoutly to subdue & ouerthrow errours by the scriptures and not by force. And verely to accuse him so rashlye, to so noble and valiāt a prince and king, not hauing any cause, which either they could not, or wold not bryng and aledge againste him, it seemeth to be a kynde of moste straunge and barbarous crueltyand lightnesse, of men impudently abusinge the maiesty of their Prince.

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And yet these menne (whome nothinge can once cause to blushe or be ashamed) desire to be counted the successoures of the Apostles. From whose manners and examples they do so much vary and are distant, as we are distant from India. S. Paule willeth, þt after thou hast admonyshed or warned an heritike once or twise, if he do not amend, then to flie and eschue his company. Which of þe Apostles at any time did cast any hereticke in prison, were he neuer so obstinate, or bound him in fetters, eyther consumed him to ashes? As thoughe the truthe it selfe, or Christ, which is the authour of truthe, were not stronge inough of them selues, to reproue heritickes without they were holpen wyth bondes and tormentes. Saint Paul instructing the Ecclesiasticall pastor with Apostolike preceptes, amongst other thinges, wryteth thus vnto Tymothe. It is not mete (saith: he) for the seruaunt of the Lord, to fight and striue, but to shew him selfe mylde and gentle toward all men, readye to instruct, suffring euell, and with mekenesse, teachinge not onlye those whiche were seduced through error or ignorance, but also such as do resist, that God in time maye geue them repentaunce to know his truth. And againe wryting vnto Titus (he saith) that he must be stoute or stronge to ouercome those, which resist & gaine say him: but how? with sworde, weapon, or torment? No, I thincke not, but wyth the armoure and power of the spirite, and wyth the word of God. For it is farre different to fight wt worldly Princes, as touching their right, and to dyspute in causes of religion, in the church of God. I confesse, that accordinge to S. Paules worde, we must eschue and flie an heriticke. But it is one thinge to eschue an heriticke, and a cleane contrary to kill an innocent, in stead of an heriticke. He that being once or twise admonyshed or warned, and continueth still in his errour, is worthy not only to be eschued of all men, but also, by strayght imprisonment, to be secluded frō all good and honest company. But howe shal I know that it is an erroure, wythout thou do aledge better?

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MarginaliaBy what meanes the Bishoppes do conuince herisyes.From whence then is this example of barbarous crueltie, sprong vp or come into the Chri-sten Hierarchy, that they wil straight condempn vnto death him whome not only they haue not ouercome with anye argumentes, but also not once admonished for no other cause, but only for that he semeth vnto thē an heriticke? Wherefore he that can so boldly pronounce or determine of other mennes herisies, had neade to be assuredly grounded, what is the true sinceritye of the faithe. Otherwise if it were sufficient for euery man, that which his owne wil and affection leadeth him vnto: it were to be feared least as it happened vnto the Iewes in time past, the which when they wold haue crucified Christ as a deceiuer, they crucified the very sonne of God.

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MarginaliaThe Papistes greatest herytikes them selues.So likewyse maye happen vnto theym in persecuting of heritickes, that they them selues become the most great heritickes of all other. But now a daies there are many, whome their nature or crueltye, eyther follye, or some vaine superstition hath so moued or stirred vp, that albeit they vnderstand & se no more in these matters then a pore blind man doth in coulours, yet is ita world to see, with howe great boldnesse they wil determine and pronoūce against heretickes. And yet these are they which cā not fail, erre, or be deceiued, neither is it lawfull for any man to examine their willes by the censure of any humain iudgemēt. O most miserable estate of the church, seing that the whole state of Christen people dependeth in the will, as it were in the becke of anye one manne, that whatsoeuer doth either please or displease his blockish brain It must be receiued and embrased of al men, and accordyng therevnto, the hole religion to be applyed and formed. What other thing is this, thē to referre Christes religion vnto mennes willes and not men vnto religion?

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But now we wyll leaue to speake any more of the Pope, and returne vnto MarginaliaWyccleffe commaunded to kepe silence by the byshopsWyccleffe. Who allbeit as we said before, was forced by the Byshoppes and Prelates to kepe silence, yet coulde he not so be suppressed, but þt through the vehemencie of the truthe, he burste oute afterwarde much more fiersly.

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For Wiccleffe hauing obtained and gotten the good wyl and fauour of certain noble men, attempted againe to sturre vp his doctryne amongste the common people. Then began the Pharisies  

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That is, the Catholic clergy.

again to swarm and gather together with maruelous tragedies, striuing against the light of the gospell, which begā to shine abrode. Nether was the pope him selfe behind wyth his part, for he neuer ceased with his bulles and letters, to stirre vp them, which otherwyse of their owne accorde, were but to furyous and madde. Diuers copies of his letters I haue by me: in the which more then force and violence, threatnings & vayn words, ther was nothing els cōteined. Wherupon, the bishop of Canterburi and other Bishops being partly encouraged by those Letters, and partly moued and pricked forwarde by

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