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438 [438]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

A bishoppe sayeth hee, muste be irreprehensyble, the husbande of one wife. Whyche sentence least ye should tourne and applye onlye to the Church, marke what he inferreth after: he that knoweth not (sayeth he) to rule hys owne housholde and family, howe shoulde he rule the church of GOD? And likewyse the Deacons (sayeth hee) lette them be the husbandes of one wife, whyche haue knowledge to gouerne their owne house and chyldren. And this wife howe she is wonte to be blest of the priest, you vnderstande suffycientlye I suppose by the decrees of holye Syluester the Pope.

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To these and suche other holye sentences of the scripture, agreeth also he that is the wryter of the rule of the cleargy, wrytinge after this manner. A clarke muste be chaste and continent, or elsse lette him be coupled in the bandes of matrimonye, hauinge one wyfe. Whereby it is to be gathered that the byshop and Deacon, are noted infamous and reprehensible if they be deuided in mo wemen then one, otherwise if they doo forsake one vnder þe pretence of religion. Bothe they together as well the byshoppe as the Deacon be here condempned by the Canonicall sentence, whyche sayeth, MarginaliaThys decree is contrary to the bishops and prelates in Quene Maryes tyme.lette no byshoppe or priest forsake his owne wife, vnder the couler and pretence of religion. If he doo forsake her, let him be excōmunicate. And if he so continue, let him be disgraded. Saint Austine also a man of discreate holines, saith in these wordes. There is no offence so great or greuous, but it is to be doon to auoid a greater euil.

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Furthermore we read in the seconde booke of the Tripartite history. That when the coūcell of Niece goinge aboute to establyshe the same decree. Woulde enacte that Byshoppes, Priestes and Deacons after their consecratyon, either shoulde abstaine vtterly from theyr owne wiues, or elsse should be deposed: Then Parphuntius (one of those holye martyrs, whome the Emperoure Maximus hadde put oute the right eie, and cutte their lefte legges) rising vp amongst them, wtstode theyr purposed decrement, cōfessyng mariage to be honorable, and callinge the bedde of matrimonye to be chastitye, and so perswadinge the Councell from makynge that lawe, declaring there by what occasion myghte come to them selues and their wiues of fornicatiō. And thus much did Parphuntius beinge vnmarried hym selfe declare vnto them, and the whole Councell commendinge his sentence, gaue place there to, and left the matter frelye without compulsion to the will of euerye manne, to do there in as he thought.

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Allbeit notwithstandinge there bee some, whiche take Saynt Gregory for their defencein this matter, whose temeritye I laughe at, and ignoraunce I lament, for they knowe not beinge ignorauntlye deceiued, howe daungerous the decre of this heresy was, being made of Sainte Gregorye, who afterwarde well reuoked the same with condign frute of repentaunce.

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MarginaliaMore then 6000. heds of infantes found in the popes mote thorow the wicked decree of the syngle lyfe of priestes.For vppon a certaine daye as he sent vnto his fishe ponde to haue fyshe, and did see more then syxe thousande infantes heades broughte vnto him, whyche were taken out of the same ponde or mote, did greatlye repente in hym selfe the decree made before, touchinge the single life of Priestes, whiche be confessed to be the cause of that so lamentable a murther: and so pourginge the same, with condigne frute of repentaunce, aultered againe the thynge whiche he hadde decreed before, commendyng that councell of the Apostle, whiche sayeth it is better to marrye then to bourne. Addynge moreouer of him selfe there vnto, and saying: MarginaliaLet priests note well the saying of Gregory.it is better to marrye, then to geue occasyon of death.

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Peraduenture, if these menne had red with me this, whiche so happened, I thyncke they woulde not be so rashe in their doinge and iudginge, fearinge at leaste the Lordes commaundemente: doo not iudge that ye be not iudged. And Sainte Paule sayeth: who arte thou that iudgest a nother mannes seruaūt? Either he standeth or falleth to his owne master: but he shall stande, for the Lord is mightye and able to make him stande. Therefore lette your holinesse cease to compell and enforce those, whome only ye oughte to admonish: leaste throughe your owne pryuate commaundement (which God forbid) you be foūd contrary as well to the olde Testament as to the new, for as Saint Austine sayth to Donatus. This is onlye that we doo feare in your iustice, least not for the consideration of Christian lenitie, but for the greuousnes and greatnesse of transgressions, commytted you by thought to vse violence in executing punyshment of that, which only we doo desire you be Christ not to doo. For transgressions are so to be punished, that the life of the transgressors may repent. Also a nother sayinge of Austin we wold you to remember, which is this: MarginaliaNote wel the saying of Austen.Nihil nocendi fiat cupiditate, omnia soluendi charitate: et nihil fiat immaniter, nihil inhumaniter: that is: Let nothing be doon thorow the gredines of hurting, but al things thorow the charity of profitting: Neither let any thing be doon cruelly, nothing vngentilly. Item of the same Austine it is wrytten. In the feare and name of Christ I exhort you, which of you so euer haue not the goodes of this worlde, be not gready to haue them: Such as haue them presume not to much vpon them.

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