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1379 [1379]

K. Henry. 8. Allegations against the vj. Articles Auricular confeßion.

some faythful or spiritual brother in disclosing his infirmitie or temptations, for counsaile, and godly comfort, hath bene turned into Auricular cōfession in a Priestes eare for assoylyng of hys sinnes. Marginalia4. or 5. abuses in auricular confession.In the whiche Auriculare cōfession, Marginalia1. Necessitie.
2. Ennumeration of sinnes.
3. Prescription of tyme.
4. Confessiō made a sacrament.
5. To a priest onely.
first of the free libertie of the penitent in vtteryng his griefes, they haue made a mere necessity, and that vnto saluation and remission of sinnes. Secōdly, they require withall, ennumeration and a full recitall of all sinnes whatsoeuer, both great and small. Also besides the necessitie of this eare confession, they adde therto a prescriptiō of time, at least once in þe yeare for all men, whether they repent or no, to be cōfessed: makyng moreouer of the same a Sacrament. And lastly, where as before it stoode in the voluuntary choyse of a man to open his harte to what spirituall brother hee thought best, for easement of hys griefe and ghostly cōsolation, they bynd hym to a Priest (vnlesse some Frier come by þe way to be hys ghostly father) to whō he must nedes confesse all, what soeuer he hath done, & though he lacke the key of knowledge, and perauēture of good discretion, yet none must haue power to assoyle hym, but he through the authoritie of hys keyes.

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And this maner of confession, say they, was instituted by Christ, and hys Apostles, and hath bene vsed in the Churche euer since to this present day. Whiche is a most manifest vntruth, and easie by storyes to bee conuinced.

MarginaliaSocrat. Lib. 5. cap. 19. Sozo. Lib. 7. cap. 16.For Socrates lib. 5. cap. 19. Sozom. lib: 7. cap. 16. in the booke of Ecclesiasticall hystory, do gyue vs playnly to vnderstand, that this Auricular confession neuer came of Christ, but onely of men.

MarginaliaBeat. Rhenanus in argum. libel. Tertulliani de pœnitentia.Item, in þe time of Tertullian, Beat. Rhenanus testifieth 

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Beatus Rhenanus, Q. Septimii Florentes Tertulliani…(Basel, 1521), p. 434.

, that there was no mention made of this Auriculare confession. Whiche may well be gathered therof, for that Tertullian writyng vpon repentaunce, maketh no mention at all therof.

MarginaliaChrysost. in Psal. 30. hom. 2.Itē, in the tyme of Chrysostome, it appeareth there was no such assoylyng at the Priestes handes, by these wordes where he saith: I require thee not that thou shouldest confesse thy sinnes to thy felovv seruaunt. Tell them vnto God, vvho careth for them. &c.

MarginaliaChrysost. in hom. De pœnit. & confeßione.Item, the sayd Chrysostome in an other place writyng vpon repentaunce, and confession: Let the examination of thy sinnes, and thy iudgement (sayth hee) be secrete and close vvithout vvitnes. Let God onely see and heare thy cōfeßiō. &c.

MarginaliaDe pœnit. dist. 1. Petrus in Glosa.Item, in the tyme of Ambrose, De pœnit. Dist. 1. Petrus, the Glose of the Popes owne Decrees recordeth: That the institution of Baptisme vvas not thē begon, vvhich novv in our dayes is in vse.

MarginaliaDe pœnit. Dist. 5. in principio.Item, it is truly sayd therfore of the Glose in an other place, where he thus testifieth: That this institution of penaunce beganne rather of some tradition of the vniuersall Churche, then of any authoritie of the nevve Testament, or of the old. &c.

MarginaliaErasm. in Schol. in Epitaphium fabiolæ.The lyke also testifieth Erasm. writyng vpō Hiero. in these wordes: Apparet tempore Hieronymi nondum institutam fuisse. &c. That is, It appeareth, that in the tyme of Hierome, this secret cōfeßion of sinnes vvas not yet ordeined, vvhich the Church aftervvard did institute vvholsomely, if our Priestes & lay mē vvould vse it rightly. But herein Diuines not cōsidering aduisedlye vvhat the old Doctours do say, are much deceyued. That vvhich they say of generall & opē cōfeßiō, they vvrast by and by to this priuie and secret kind of confeßion, vvhich is farre diuers & of an other sorte. &c.

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MarginaliaGratian. De pœnitēt. Dist. 2. Quanuis.The lyke testimonie may also be taken of Gracian hym selfe, who speakyng of confession vsed then in hys tyme, leaueth the matter in a doubtfull suspense, neyther pronouncyng on the one side, nor on the other, but referreth the matter to þe free iudgemēt of the readers, whiche the Acte of these vj. Articles here enioyneth as necessarye, vnder payne of death.

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MarginaliaThe first institution of auricular cōfession, when and by whom it beganne.Briefly, in few wordes to search out and notifie the very certeine tyme, when this Article of eareconfession first crept into the Church, and what antiquitie it hath, in folowyng the Iudgement of Ioannes Scotus, and of Antoninus, it may be well supposed, that the institution therof tooke hys first origine by Pope Innocent the thyrd, in hys Councell of Laterane, an. 1215. MarginaliaIoan. Scotus. Lib. 4 Sent. Dist. 17. Artic. 3.For so we read in Ioannes Scotns Lib. 4. Sent. Dist. 17. Artlc. 3. Præcipua autem specificatio huius præcepti inuenitur in illo cap. Extra. de pænit. & remiß: Omnis vtriusq; sexus. &c. And after in the same Article it foloweth: Nam ex prima institutione Ecclesiæ nō videntur fuisse Distincti proprij sacerdotes. Quando enim Apostoli hinc & inde ibant prædicando verbū dei. &c. By the whiche woordes it appeareth that there was no institution of any such confession specified before the constitution of Innocentius the thyrd.

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MarginaliaAntoninus part. 3. Histor. tit. 19.But more playnely the same may appeare by the woordes of Antoninus in 3. parte Histor. Which be these: Innocētius tertius in Concilio generali prædicto, circa Sacramenta confessionis & communionis sic statuit: Omnis vtriusq; sexus fidelis, postquam ad annū discretionis peruenerit, omnia peccata sua solus saltem semel in anno cōfiteatut proprio sacerdoti, & iniūctam sibi pœnitentiam proprijs vitibus studeat adimplere, aljoqui & viuens ab ingressu Ecclesiæ arceatur, & moriens Christiana careat sepultura. Vnde hoc salutare statutū frequēter in Ecclesijs publicetur: ne quisquam ignorantiæ cœcitate velamē excusationis assumat. &c. MarginaliaThe constitution of Pope Innocent 3. touching auricular confession.That is, Pope Innocent the 3. in his generall Councell aforesayd, touchyng the Sacramentes of confeßion and the communion, made this constitution as folovveth: That euery faithfull person, both man & vvoman, after they come to the yeares of discretion, shall confesse all their sinnes by them selues alone, at lest once a yeare, to their ovvne ordinary Priest, and shall endeuour to fulfill by their ovvne strēgth, their penaūce to thē enioyned. Or els vvho so doth not, shall neither haue entrance into the Churche beyng alyue, nor beyng dead shall enioy Christian buriall. VVherfore this vvholesome constitutiō vve vvill to be published often in the Churches, lest any man through the blyndnes of ignoraunce may make to thē selues a cloke of excuse. &c. And thus much hetherto we haue alledged by occasion incident of these vj. Articles for some part of cōfutation of the same, referryng the reader for the rest, to the more exquisite tractation of Diuines, which professedly write vpon those matters.

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In the meane tyme, forsomuch as there is extant in Latin a certeine learned Epistle of Philippe Melancthon, written to K. Henry agaynst these vj. wicked Articles aboue specified, I thought not to defraude the reader of the fruite therof, for his better vnderstādyng and instruction. The tenour and effect of hys Epistle translated into Englishe thus foloweth. 

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Foxe's declaration that this is the 'tenour and effect' of Melanchthon's letter suggests that he has amended or abridged it. We cannot know, because unfortunately, the original has not survived. Moreover, Foxe does not supply the date of the letter. But Melancthon wrote a number of letters to Henry VIII and Archbishop Cranmer, in the spring of 1539, making similar arguments (L&P 14(1), pp. 245-6 and 333).

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¶ The copie of Melanctons Epistle sent to kyng Henry, against the cruell Acte of the vj. Articles.

MarginaliaA fruitfull epistle of Phil. Melancthon sent to K. Henry, touchyng the vj. Articles.MOst famous and noble Prince, there were certeine Emperours of Rome, as Adrianus, Pius, and afterward the two brethren Verus & Marcus, which did receyue gently the Apologies and defenses of the Christians: whiche so preuayled with those moderate Princes, that they swaged their wrath aganist þe Christians, & obteined mitigation of their cruell Decrees. Euen so, for asmuch as there is a Decree set foorth of late in your Realme agaynst that doctrine whiche we professe, both godly and necessary for the Churche, I beseche your most honorable maiestie fauorably both to read and consider this our cōplaint, especially seyng I haue not onely for our owne cause, but much rather for the common sauegarde of the Churche, directed this my writyng vnto you. For seyng those heathen Princes dyd both admitte and allowe the defenses of the Christiās, how much more is it besemyng for a king of Christian profession, and such a one as is occupyed in the studyes of holy historyes, to heare the complayntes and admonitions of the godly in the Churche? And so much the more willyngly I write vnto you, for that you haue so fauorably heretofore receyued my letters, with a singular declaratiō of your Marginalia* He meaneth here the kinges liberall reward sent to hym before in money, by M. Ioh. Hales, which money he then distributed among the ministers and learned mē of Wittenberge.* beneuolence towardes me. This also giueth me some hope that you wil not vnwillingly read these thinges, for asmuch as I see that þe very phrase & maner of writyng doth playnly declare, not your self, but only the Bishops to be þe authors of those articles & Decrees there set forth: Albeit, through their wily and subtile sophistications, they haue induced you (as it hath happened to many other worthy Princes besides you) to condescend and assent vnto them: as the Rulers persuaded Darius beyng otherwise a wise and a iust Prince, to cast Daniell vnto the Lyons. 

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See Daniel 6: 1-24.

MarginaliaDan. 3.

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It was neuer vnseemely for a good Prince to correct and reforme cruell and rigorous lawes, and (as it is cō-

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