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652 [596]

Actes and Monumentes of the Church.

God worketh a secrete saluation. And the wryter of sentences saythe: a Sacrament is a visible signe of inuisible grace, and by and by after he interpreteth the inuisible grace to be the cōdempnation of synne. Fynally D. Thomas denieth that any mā hath any power to make Sacramentes. Wherfore let vs fyrst agree vpon the definition of a sacrament, and afterwarde we shall easely determine the nomber of those Sacramentes whiche are left vnto vs by Christ, for the signification of remission of synnes. And saint Augustine in his 118. Epistle vnto Ianuarius MarginaliaAugust. ad Ianuarium. assenteth but vnto twoo Sacraments where he speaketh these wordes. Fyrst sayeth he, I woulde haue you to vnderstande what the summe of this controuersie or disputation is: Verely that our Lorde Iesus Christ (as he him selfe doth wytnes in his gospell) hath charged vs with a lyghte and easye burden and yoke, wherby he hathe ioyned the congregation of his newe people with fewe Sacramentes, and that easy to be obserued, but moste excellent in sygnification, that is by Baptisme and the supper of the Lorde, or if there be any in the holy scriptures of that sort, those onely excepte, they were layde vpon the people of the olde lawe as yokes of bondage, for the hardenes of their hartes. And againe in the thyrde booke De doctrina christiana. MarginaliaAugust. de doctrina christiana lib. 3. The scripture (sayeth he) teacheth vs very fewe sacramentes, as the sacrament of Baptisme, and the famous memoriall of the bodye and bloud of the Lorde &c.

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MarginaliaBoner.Then the byshop of London whiche coulde scarsly refrayne him selfe all this whyle, and nowe coulde forbeare no longer, brake out in this maner, fyrst of all (sayth he) where you alledge, that all the Sacramentes whiche are in the churche, instituted by Christ him selfe haue either some manifest ground in the scripturs, or ought to shewe forth some signification of remission of synnes, it is false and not to be allowed. Then sayde Alesius: I wyll easely proue it by manifest autoritie of scriptures, and euident testimonies of auncient interpreters.

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MarginaliaFox bishop of Herford.But the byshop of Herforde whiche was thē lately retourned out of Germany (where he hadde bene Ambassadour for the kynge to the Protestauntes) being moued with the byshop of Londons frowardnes, tournyng hym selfe fyrst vnto Alexander Alesius, wylled hym not to contende with the bishop in suche maner by the testimonies of Doctours and scholemen, forsomuche as they doo not all agree in lyke matters, neyther are they stedfaste amongest them selues in al pointes, but do varie, and in many pointes are vtterly repugnant. Wherfore if this disputation shalbe determined by their myndes and aunsweres, there shalbe nothyng establyshed, neyther doth there appeare any meane or waye of concorde and vnitie,furthermore it is commaunded by the Prynce that these controuersies should be determined only by the rule and iudgement of the scripture. This he spake vnto Alesius. Then he turnyng him selfe vnto the byshoppes, he like wyse admonyshed them with a graue & sharpe oration, whiche we thought not good to omyt in this place.

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MarginaliaThe Oration of Foxe vnto the bishoppes.I woulde not that you shoulde thynke brethren and fathers, or deceaue your selues with vayne hope, that you can by any arte or vaine sophistication, banysh agayne out of the world the manifest truthe of the holy gospell whiche nowe shyneth and sheweth it selfe in all mens eyes. For Christ hath so illustrate all partes of Christendome with thincredible bryghtnes of his doctrine, and hath as it were lighted vp such a bryght sonne of his truth in his church, that all darkenes of errour beyng expulsed, it seameth he wyll shortly subdue all the cloudes and darke stormes that may shadow the same. For euen the laye people, and the ignoraunte multitude of handycraftes menne, doo vnderstand more in the sacred Byble, then the most parte of our profounde and depe deuines. For so muche as the worlde nowe beginneth in euery place to loke vp: and specially the Germaynes, with suche care and diligence, haue translated the volumes of scripture accordinge to the veritie of the Hebrewe, and with suche lyght and perspicuitie that many thinges may more easely be vnderstand than by longe gloses or comentaries of the doctours.

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Moreouer they haue vttered these controuersies and poynts of Religion in their wrytyng, þt euen wemen & chyldren of theyr own wyttes, do vnderstande and perceyue the errors of the tymes past, wherewithal they haue bene deluded and mocked. whiche thynges being thus, it is necessary that we bestowe more laboure and diligence about these matters, except that we wyll make our selues mockynge stockes vnto all the worlde, or that our folye purchase this opinion at the handes of al men, that they should iudge no sparke of learnynge or godlynes in vs: whereby both your dignytie and estimation shalbe muche diminished amongest them whiche hetherto haue reuerenced you as learned menne, and moste apte mēbers of a common wealth. Vpon what hope or confydence do you so muche depende, that there neither hath bene neither shalbe any heresie whiche the Popes authoritie shal not dissipate or destroye? it is nothing to the purpose, but you ought rather contrarywyse to thynke, that there is nothyng so broken or weake, so that it be true, but that in tyme it wyll breake out and haue the victorie against falshode and lyes: for the daye is the parent and norysher of the truthe, and truthe is the doughter of time. And whatsoeuer thyng is assaulted by þe force

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