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1382 [1382]

K. Henry. 8. An Epistle of Philip Melancthon to K. Henry, against the vj. Articles.

MarginaliaAgaynst Priestes Mariage.soeuer they do, a most manifest and euident cause there is why these priuate masses ought to be abolished. For first their application vndoubtedly is wicked: neyther doth the worke of the Prieste merite any grace to any person, but euery one is iustifyed by hys owne fayth. Neyther agayn would God haue any man to trust vppon any ceremonye, but onely to the benefyte of Christ. And most certeyne this is, that the application of these Masses for the dead, is full of great errour and impietye.

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MarginaliaApplicatiō of the masse idolatrous.But here come in blynd gloses (albeit to no purpose) to excuse this applicatiō. For vniuersally amongs al þe people, who is he þt thynketh otherwise, but þt this worke is auailable for the whole church? Yea þe Canon of þe Masse it self declareth no lesse. And why then doe some of these crafty sophisters dally out the matter with theyr glosing wordes, denying that they make any application of their Masses, when they knowe full wel that the errour of the people is confirmed by thys their doyng: although they them selues do thinke otherwise? Albeit howe fewe bee there in very deede which do otherwise thynke?

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MarginaliaThe olde institution of Christ is not to bee altered by new inuentions.We ought not to dissemble in Gods matters. Let vs vse them as the holy Scripture teacheth, and as the aūcient custome of the primitiue Churche doth leade vs. Why should any mā be so presumptious to swarue from auncient custome? Why now do they defend the errours of other which haue peruerted the institution of Christ?

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Nowe, although some perhaps will pretende & say, that he maketh no application of hys Masses, yet notwithstanding he so dealeth in handlyng the ceremonye priuatly by hym self, that he thynketh thys hys oblation to be hygh seruice done to God, and such as God requyreth: whiche is also erroneous and to be reproued. For Whye, no seruice nor worshippe perteynyng to God ought to be sett vp by mans deuise, without the cōmanndement of God.

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Wherfore I besech you for the glory of Christe, that you will not defend the article of thys Acte concernyng these priuate Masses, but that you will suffer the matter to be well examined by vertuous and learned men. All thinges that we here with vs doe, we do thē by euident & substanciall testimony of the primitiue Church, which testimony I dare be bold to set against the iudgementes of all that haue synce followed, such as haue corrupted þe aunciēt doctrine and olde rites with manifolde errours.

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MarginaliaAgaynst vowes of Priestes single life.As touching the other articles, they haue no neede of any long disputation. Vowes that be wycked, fayned, & impossible, are not to be kept. MarginaliaThe common errour concerning vowes.There is no doubt, but this is the cōmon perswasion of al mē touchyng vowes, that all these wilworkes deuised by man, are the true seruice and worship of God: and so thynke they also which speake most indifferently of thē. Other adde therunto more grosse errours, saying that these workes bryng with thē perfectiō, & merite euerlasting life. Now all these opinions the scripture in many places doth reproue. Christ sayth 

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Mark 7: 7.

: They vvorship me in vayne vvith the preceptes of men. MarginaliaMark. 7.And Paul saith 
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1 Tim. 4: 1.

, that these obseruations bee the doctrine of deuills: for they ascribe to the power and strēgth of mā, false honour, because they are taken for the seruice of god: they obscure faith & the true worshipping of God. Marginalia1. Tim. 4.Item the sayd Paul to the Coloss. sayth 
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Col. 2: 18 and 20.

: Let no man deceyue you by fayned humilitye. &c. VVhy make you Decrees? &c. MarginaliaColloß. 2.Wherfore these corrupte traditions of men are in deede a wicked and detestable seruice of God.

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Vnto these also are annexed many other corrupt and wicked abuses. The whole order of mōkery what superstition doth it cōteyne? What prophanations of Masses, inuocation of Sainctes, colours and fashions of apparell, choise of meates, superstitious prayers without all measure? MarginaliaCauses why vowes ought to be brokē.Of which causes euery one were sufficient, why these vowes ought to be broken. Besydes this, a great parte of men are drawne to this kynd of lyfe chiefly for the bellies sake, and then afterward they pretend the holynes of theyr vowe and profession. Furthermore, thys vowe of single lyfe is not to all men possible to bee kept, as Christ hym self sayeth 

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Matt. 19: 12.

: All men do not receyue this. MarginaliaMath. 19.Such vowes therfore which without synne can not bee performed, are to bee vndone. But these thynges I haue discussed sufficiently in other of my workes.

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MarginaliaThe vj. articles make the vowe of priestes as straite as the vowe of Monkes, which is contrary to their owne lawe.But this causeth me much to maruell, that this vowe of Priestes in your Englishe Decree, is more straite and hard, then is the vowe of monkes, whereas the Canons them selues do bynd a Priest no farther to syngle life: but onely for the tyme þt he remayneth in the ministerye. And certeynly it made my hart to tremble when I read this Article which so forbiddeth matrimonye, & dissolueth the same beyng contracted, & appoynteth moreouer the pu-nishment of death for the same. MarginaliaNo lawe of death euer stablished for priestes mariage, before the vj. Articles.Although there haue bene diuers godly priests which in certeine places haue bene put to death for theyr mariage, yet hath neuer man hetherto bene so bold to stablishe any such law. For euery man in a maner, well perceyued that all well disposed and reasonable persons would abhorre that crueltye: and also they feared lest the posterity woulde thinke euyll thereof. Who woulde euer thinke, that in the Churche of Christ, wherin all lenitie toward the godly ought most principally to be shewed, suche cruelnes and tyranny could take place, to sette forth bloudy lawes to be executed vpō the godly for lawfull matrimonie?

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MarginaliaWhy Priestes vowes ought not to stand.But they breake theyr vowes, will the Byshoppes saye. First (as I said) that vowe ought not to stand, seing it is turned to a false worship of God, and is impossible to bee kept. Agayne, although it stoode in force, yet it should not extend to them whiche forsake the ministery. Finally, if the Byshops here woulde haue a care and regard to mens consciences, they shoulde then ordayne priestes without any suche profession or vowe makyng, as appeareth by the olde Canons, howe that many were admitted to the ministery without professing of any vowe, and the same afterward, when they had maryed theyr wyues, to haue remayned in the ministery, MarginaliaDist. 28. cap. Diaconi.as is testifyed Cap. Diaconi. Distinct. 28.

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Certeynly what here I may complayne, I can not tell. MarginaliaByshops restraine priestes mariage against al reason and excuse.First, in this article I cā not impute it to ignorance that they do. For no man is ignorant of the cōmaundemēt of God, which sayth: Let euery man haue hys vvyfe for auoyding of fornication. Again, who is so blynd but he seeth what a lyfe these vnmaryed Priestes do lyue? The complayntes of good men are well knowen. The fylthynes of þe wicked is too too manifest. But peraduenture your bishops holding with the Sect of the Epicures, do thinke that God is not offended with filthy lustes. Which if they so thinke, then do we susteyne doubtles a hard cause where such must be iudges.

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I am not ignorant that this single life is very fytte to sette out the glorye and brauerie of Bishops and Colleges of Priestes, & to mainteine their wealth and portly state: and this I suppose to be the cause why some do abhorre so much that priestes should be maryed. But O lamentable state of the church, if lawes should be so forced to serue, not the veritie and the will of God, but the priuate gayne and commoditie of men. MarginaliaComplaint of vniust lawes seruing to the luker of men agaynst the glory of God.They erre whiche thinke it lawfull for them to make lawes repugnaunt to the commaundement of God and to the lawe of nature, so that they be profitable to attaine wealth and riches. And of trouth from my very hart I do mourne & lament, right noble Prince, both for your sake and also for the cause of Christes Church. You pretende to impugne and gaynestand the tyranny of the Romishe Byshop, & truly do call him Antichrist, as in deede he is: and in the meane time you defende & maintayne those lawes of that Romishe Antichrist, whiche be the strength and sinowes of all hys power, as priuate Masses, single lyfe of Priestes, and other superstitions. You threaten horrible punishmētes to good mē & to the mēbers of Christ. you violently oppresse & beare downe the veritie of the Gospell begynnyng to shyne in your Churches. This is not to abolishe Antichrist, but to establishe hym.

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I besech you therfore for our Lord Iesus Christ, that you file not your conscience in defendyng those Articles which your Bishops haue deuised and set forth touching priuate Masses, Auricular confession, vowes, single lyfe of Priestes, and prohibition of þe one halfe of the Sacrament. It is no light offence to establishe Idolatrie, errours, cruelty, the filthy lustes of Antichrist. If the Romane Byshop should now call a Councell, what other Articles chiefly would he deuise and publishe vnto the world, but the very same whiche your Byshops haue here enacted?

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MarginaliaThe subtiltie of Sathan in abusing the power of princes to maintaine his kingdome.Vnderstand and consider I praye you, the subtile traynes and deceites of the deuill, whiche is wont first to set vpon and assayle the chief gouernours. And as hee is the enemy of Christ from the beginnyng of the world, so his chief purpose is by all craftye and subtile meanes, to worke contumely agaynst Christ in sparsyng abroad wicked opinions and setting vppe Idolatrie: and also in pollutyng mankynde with bloudye murthers and fleshlye lustes: to the workyng whereof hee abuseth the policies and wittes of hypocrites: also the power and strength of mighty Princes: as stories of all times beare witnes what great kyngdomes and Empires haue set them selues with all might and maine, against the poore Churche of Christ.

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And
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