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544 [544]

K. Edw. 3. The hostory of John Wickleffe.

saued him, but could not.

The like also appeared by iudgement geuen against a priest at Notingham, for killing of his maister.

And lykewyse, by hanging certain monks of Combe Ex. parlam. an. 25. Ed. 3.

MarginaliaThe raynement of the Archb. of Cant. an. 15 Ed. 3. tit. 49Item, in the parlament of the. 15. yeare, by apprehending of I. Stratford, Archbishop of Canterbury, & hys arraynment: concerning which his arrainmēt, al things were committed to syr William of Kildisby.

Besides these truthes and notes of the kinges parlamentes, wherein may appeare the toward procedinges of this king and of all his commons agaynst the pretensed church of Rome: This is moreouer to be added to the commendation of the king, how in the booke of the acts and rolls of the king appeareth. MarginaliaIohn Wyckliffe sent with the kings Embassadours by the K.That the sayd king Edward the third, sent also Iohn Wickliffe, reader then of the diuinitie lector in Oxford, with certayne other lords and Embassadours to the Duke of Millane, to entreate a mariage betwene his daughter, and Leonel kyng Edwards sonne. By the which it is to be noted, what good wyll the king then bare to the said Wickleffe, and what small regard he had to the sinfull see of Rome.

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Of the which Iohn Wickleffe, because we are nowe approched to his tyme: remayneth consequently for our story to entreate of, so as we haue here to fore done of other like valiāt soldiours of Christes church before him.

¶ Iohn Wickleffe.

MarginaliaHere beginneth the story of Iohn Wickliffe.AFter all these here tofore recited, by whom (as ye haue herd) it pleased the Lord somthing to worke agaynst the bishop of Rome, and to weaken the pernitious superstition of þe friers: Now remaineth consequently following the course of yeares, orderly to enter into the storie and tractation of Iohn Wickleffe our countreyman, and other moe of his tyme, & same countrey, whom the Lord (with the like zeale and power of spirit) raised vp here in England, to detect more fully and amplye the poyson of the popes doctrine, and false religion set vp by the friers. In whose opinions and assertions, albeit some blemishes perhaps may be noted: MarginaliaThe blemishes of Wickleffe made worse then they be.yet suche blemishes they be, which rather declare him to be a mā that might erre, then which directlye dyd fight against Christ our Sauiour, as the popes procedinges and the fryers dyd. And what doctor or learned man hath been from the prime age of the church, so perfect, so absolutely sure, in whome no opinion hathe sometime swarued awrye? And yet bee the sayde articles of his neyther in number so many, nor yet so grosse in thēselues and so Cardinall, as those Cardinall enemies of Christ perchaunce do geue thē out to be: if hys bookes whom they abolished, were remayning to be conferred with those blemyshes, which they haue wrasted to the worste, as euil will neuer sayd the best.

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Thys is certaine and can not be denied, but that he being þe publike reader of diuinitie in the vniuersitie of Oxford: was for þe rude tyme wherin he liued, famously reputed for a great clerke, a deepe scholeman, & no lesse experte in all kinde of Philosophie. The which doth not onely appeare by his owne most famous & learned writinges and monumentes, but also by the confession of Walden his most cruel and bitter enemie. Who in a certain Epistle written vnto pope Martine the v. saith, that he was wonderfully astonished at his most strong argumentes, with the places of auctoritie whiche he had gathered with the vehemency and force of his reasons. &c. And thus much out of Walden. Marginalia1371.It appeareth by such as haue obserued the order and course of tymes, that thys Wickleffe florished about the yeare of our Lord. 1371. Edward the third raignyng in England: for thus we do finde in the chronicles of Caxton. MarginaliaThe tyme of Iohn Wickliffe.In the yeare of our Lord. 1371. (sayth he) Edward the third, kyng of Englād in his parliamēt, was agaynst the popes clergy: He willyngly harkned and gaue eare to the voyces and tales ofHeretickes, with certain of his counsel: conceauing and folowyng sinister opinions, agaynst the clergy. Wherfore (afterward) he rasted and suffred much aduersitie & trouble. MarginaliaAn. 1372And not long after, in þe yeare of our Lord (saith he) 1372. he wrote vnto þe byshop of Rome, that he should not by any meanes entermedle any more within hys kyngdome as touchyng the reseruations, or distributiō of benefices: And that all such bishops as were vnder his dominion, should enioy their former and auncient libertie, and be confirmed of their metropolitanes, as hath been accustomed in tymes past. &c. Thus much writeth Caxton: But as touchyng the iust number of the yeare and time, we will not be very curious or carefull about, at this present. This is out of all doubt, þt at what tyme all the world was in most desperate and vile estate, and that the lamentable ignorance and darkenes of God his truth had ouershadowed the hole earth: This man stepped forth lyke a valiaunt champion, vnto whom it may iustly bee applyed that is spoken in the booke called Ecclesiasticus of one Simon the sonne of Onias. Euen as the mornyng starre beyng in the middest of a cloud, and as the moone beyng full in her course, and as the bryght bemes of the sunne: so doth he shyne and glister in the temple and churche of God. Thus doth almighty God continually succour and helpe, when all thynges are in dispayre: beyng alwayes (accordyng to the Prophecy of the Psalme) a helper in tyme of nede. The whiche thyng neuer more playnly appeared, thē in these latter dayes & extreme age of the churche: when as the whole state and condition (not onely of wordly thinges, but also of religion) was so depraued and corrupted. That lyke as the disease named Lethargus amongest the Phisicions, euen so the state of religion amongest the diuines, was past al mens helpe and remedy. MarginaliaA description of Wickliffes tyme.The onely name of Christ remayned amongest Christians, but his true and lyuelye doctrine was as farre vnknowen vnto the most part, as his name was comen vnto all men. As touchyng fayth, consolatiō, the end and vse of þe lawe, the office of Christ, of our impotency and weakenes, of the holy ghost, of the greatnes and strength of sinne, of true workes, of grace and free iustification & liberty of a Christian man, wherin consisteth and resteth the whole summe and matter of our profession: there was no mention nor any worde almost spoke of. Scripture, learnyng, and diuinitie, was knowne but vnto a fewe, and that in the scholes onely: & there also, turned and conuerted almost all into sophistry. In stede of Peter and Paul, men occupied their tyme in studying Aquinas and Scotus, & the maister of sentēce. The world leauyng and forsakyng the liuely power of Gods spirituall word and doctrine, was altogether led & blynded with outward ceremonies and humaine traditions, wherin the whole scope, in a maner of all Christiā perfection did consiste and depende. In these was all the hope of obteynyng saluation fully fixed: here vnto all thynges were attributed. In so much, that scarsly any other thyng was seen in the temples or churches taught or spoken of in sermons, or finally intended or gone about in theyr whole life, but onely heaping vp of certain shadowed ceremonies vpon ceremonies, neither was ther any end of this theyr heapyng.

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The people were taught to worshyp no other thyng but that whiche they did see, and did see almost nothyng whiche they did not worshyp.

The churche beyng degenerated from the true Apostolicke institution aboue all measure (reseruyng onely the name of the Apostolicke churche, but farre from the truth thereof in very dede) dyd fall into all kynde of extreme tyranny: Where as the pouertie and simplicity of Christ was chaunged into cruelty and abhomination of lyfe. In steade of the Apostolicke giftes and continuall labours and trauailles, slouthfulnes and ambition was crept in amongest the priests. Besides al this, there arose

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and
Y.iiij.
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