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1366 [1366]

K. Henry. 8. The Epistle of Volusianus, for Priestes Mariage.

maryed lyfe whiche is to them lawfully permitted, and in whiche they might be saued, and striue with a presūptuous desire to lead a single life, both they lose that health and safety, whiche they might haue had in the one, and incurre great daūger in the other: so that, wherby they suppose most to gayne, by the same they lose and fall into the pitte of greater ruine. Which thing S. Paul the Doctour of the Gentles well considering, and tenderly prouiding for þe infirmitie of the weake Corinthians writyng to hym for counsaile touchyng this matter, did write to them agayne in this wise, saying 

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1 Cor. 7: 1-3.

. As concernyng the thynges vvhereof ye vvrote vnto me, it is good for a man not to touche a vvoman. Neuerthelesse to auoyde vvhoredome, let euery man haue his vvife and let euery vvoman haue her husband. Let the husband giue vnto his vvife due beneuolence: lykevvyse also the vvyfe vnto her husband. And a litle after: vvithdravve not (sayth hee) your selues one from an other, except it be vvith consent for a tyme, that you may giue your selues vnto fastyng and prayer: and aftervvard come together agayne lest Sathan tempt you for your incontinencie. Marginalia1. Cor. 7.For, as the Poete sayth, we can not all do all thynges, and as the Apostle sayth 
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2 Rom. 9: 16.

: It is not in hym that vvylleth nor in hym that runneth, but in God that shevveth mercy. MarginaliaRom. 9.Also in an other place 
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Eph. 4: 17.

: For to euery one of vs is giuen grace accordyng to the measure of the gift of Christ. MarginaliaEphes. 4.

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And that euery one of vs ought to kepe & not to trāsgresse thys measure, he teacheth anone after, saying 

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1 Cor. 7: 7.

: I vvishe that all mē vvere as I my selfe am: but euery man hath his proper gift of God, one after this maner, an other after that. Marginalia1. Cor. 7.

And that we are to bee kept within our compasse and measure, and ought therewith to bee content, he teacheth moreouer as foloweth: Let euery man abyde in that vocation vvherein he is called. And shortlye after, for confirmation therof, he repeateth the same agayne and sayth: Let euery man vvherein he is called, therin abyde vvith the Lord. And because he perceyued that þe infirmitie of man was not able to susteyne the burnyng motions and heates of nature styrring in man, but onely by the grace of God, neither to bee hable to conquer the fleshe fyghtyng agaynst the spirite, accordyng to that which he sayth of hym self in an other place: For I see an other lavve in my members rebellyng agaynst the lavv of my mynde, he therefore of mercy and compassion, as condescending vnto their weakenes: and not by rigour of lawe and force of commaundement, thus sayd. As also in an other place in hys Epistles hee speaketh in lyke wordes saying 

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Rom. 6: 19.

: I speake thus grossely after the maner of men, because of the infirmity of your fleshe. MarginaliaRom. 6.And in this foresayd Epistle moreouer a litle before, vsyng the same maner of speach, hee sayth 
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1 Cor. 7: 6.

: Thus I say to you as of fauour and not of commaundement. And addyng moreouer, he sheweth 
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1 Cor. 7: 25.

: As touchyng virgines I haue no commaundement of the Lord: but onely do giue counsell, as one that haue founde mercye vvith God, that I should be faythfull: Marginalia1. Cor. 7.That is, after the same mercy wherewith the Lorde hath informed and instructed me when he called me to the fayth, and made me faythfull to him: so I lykewyse, do giue counsell to other, and shew the same mercy to them.

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And for as much as both are good: to witte to haue a wife or not to haue: to haue a husbād or not to haue: neyther is there any sinne in hauyng wife or husband: shortly after he inferreth, saying: I suppose therefore this to be good for the present neceßity: I meane, that it is good for a man so to be: What meaneth this, for present necessitie? MarginaliaFor presēt necessitie to marye, what it meaneth.What is this necessity present, but present infirmity? or els instant necessitie, compellyng to doe, as the order of necessitye requireth. Or els hee meaneth by this present necessitye, the distresse of that time which then was instant, & cōpelled hym so to write and so to beare with thē, whiche was for the auoydyng of fornication, whiche was amongest them, and many other kyndes of filthynes aboue touched whiche might haue happened. For the whiche fornication hee tooke occasion to write vnto the Corinthians and to aunswere to their letters: and therfore he vehemently agaynst the sayd Corinthians in the former parte of the sayd Epistle vttereth these wordes 

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1 Cor. 4: 21-5: 1.

: VVhat vvill you? shall I come to you vvith a rodde? or in loue & in the spirit of mekenes? There is heard among you to be fornication, and such fornication as is not named among the Gentiles, that one should haue hys ovvne fathers vvyfe. & c. Marginalia1. Cor. 4.And therefore for thys necessitie of auoydyng such fornication, he sayth: 
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1 Cor. 7: 8-9.

It is good for a man so to bee: that hee vvhiche can not conteyne should mary and take a vvyfe. Which afterward he expoūdeth, thus inferring: Art thou bound to a vvyfe? seeke not to be losed: and if thou bee loosed from a vvyfe, seeke not a vvyfe. But if thou takest a vvife thou sinnest not, and if a virgine mary, she sinneth not. &c. Marginalia1. Cor. 7.And that hee spake not thys by way of cōmaundyng, but of sufferance and compassion, he sheweth playnly in these wordes fo-lowyng: But I spare you: that is to say, I beare with your infirmitie: and therefore hee leaueth it in the free power and will of euery man, to choose what he best lyketh. Neither doth hee inforce any man (hee sayth) violentlye, nor charge them with any streit commaundement, and therfore addeth these woordes folowyng: And this I speake for your ovvne commoditie, not to tangle you as in a snare 
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1 Cor. &: 35

, but for that it is good and honeste for you, that you may serue the Lord vvithout separation.

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This hee sayth to them whom before hee exhorted to continencie, and whom hee would not to be let or troubled by matrimoniall coniunction. But to other he sayth thus: If any man thincke that it is vncomely for his virgine to remayne ouer long vnmaryed, and if nede so require, let hym do vvhat he thynketh good, he sinneth not: let them marye. And agayne both be good, he saith, but yet the one to be better he concludeth, saying: Therfore he that ioyneth in matrimony hys virgine, doth vvell: but he that doth not, doth better. Which agreeth well with þe text aboue, speaking of both kyndes, as well the man as the woman, where he sayth: If thou take a vvife thou sinnest not, and if the virgine take a husband she sinneth not.

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If therfore it be no synne for þe mā to take a wife, nor for the virgine to take a husband, after þe Apostles mynd, neither doth diminishe theyr felicitie, but rather encrease it, and for as much as both do wel, and so both be blessed: we then whiche take wiues for our infirmitie, what do we sinne in hauyng them? Or if the Apostle do suffer and permitte to euery man for the auoydyng of fornication, to haue hys wife, we then which come of the same lumpe or masse & takyng our sinfull fleshe of the sinfull fleshe of Adam are not able otherwise to conteyne, why are we not permitted for the same cause and by the same permission, to haue likewise our wyues, but are enforced to forsake them beyng maryed?

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MarginaliaMariage is permitted to the infirmitie o all men: Priestes are infirme as other men be. Ergo, mariage ought to bee permitted to Priestes also.Wherfore either do you permitte vs, folowing the Apostle, to haue our wyues, or els teach vs þt we come not of the same masse, either els shewe vs that the same sufferance and permission is not graunted to vs by the Apostle whiche is graunted to other. Whiche cause peraduenture you will thus pretende: that thys sufferāce was graūted of the Apostle not to the Clergy or to any of our order, but onely to lay men. Which can not well be defended, neither by the wordes of the Apostle, nor by any circumstance of hys Epistle, for as much as there is no certeyne distinction or denomination either of persons, or degrees, or professions there mencioned, neither doth he make any difference either in names or offices of men, either of them which wrote vnto him, either of those persons of whom he wrote, or els, of those to whom he aunswereth, but onely in generall to the whole Churche of the Corinthians, as he hym selfe int he begynnyng of hys Epistle purporteth in these wordes 

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1 Cor. 1: 1-2.

. Paule called the Apostle of Iesus Christ, by the vvill of God and Sosthenes hys brother, to the Church vvhich is at Corinthe, such as bee sanctified in Christ Iesus, called Sainctes, vvith all that inuocate the name of the Lorde. &c. Marginalia1. Cor. 1.[And after a fewe other wordes, which here for breuities sake we omitte, as not being greatly to the purpose pertinent: thus he inferreth: 
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Foxe is omitting pasages here which say that clerics should be celibate but that this ideal is impossible to maintain because of man's sinful nature (Epistolae duae D. Volusiani…[London, 1569], STC 24872, pp. 10-11).

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These premisses beyng then well considered, we beseche you to haue regarde & compassion of our infirmity, most humbly desyryng you, not to oppresse vs with this violence. MarginaliaForced continencie, is no vertue.For as we haue sufficiently before proued, no mā ought to be cōstrayned vnto continency agaynst hys wyll, neither is this kynd of vertue commaūded of God to any man, of necessitie but onely of voluntary deuotion to be offered to the Lord, as he hym selfe speaketh in the Gospell 

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Matt. 19: 11.

: All mē cā not receaue this saying, but to vvhō it is giuen. Whereunto yet he gently exhorteth them that can take it, saying: He that is able to receaue thys, let hym receaue it. &c. MarginaliaMath. 19.

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Wherfore for distinctions sake Moyses is not him selfe commaunded to cloth Aaron & hys sonnes with breches, as in these woordes goyng before 

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The verses below are from Exodus 29: 4-9.

: Thou shalt cloth vvith those, Aaron thy brother and hys sonnes vvith hym. &c. but hee thus sayth: Thou shalt make lynen breches that they them selues may couer the filthe of their fleshe. MarginaliaExod. 28.That they thē selues (sayth he) may couer the filth of theyr fleshe. Thou (sayth hee) shalt make the breches for the Byshop and hys sonnes: thou shalt teache the rule of chastitie: thou shalt exhorte them to absteyne from the cōpany of theyr wiues, which shall do the Priestes office: Yet laying vpon none violently the sayd yoke of continencie, but who soeuer shall be Priestes and shall serue the Altar, shall of their owne accorde surcesse from the vse of Matrimony: whiche whē they shall do, and of theyr owne voluntary consent shall take vppon them the purpose of continency to serue the Alter, then shall the grace of God be present, whiche as

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