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1169 [1168]

K. Hen. 8. An Epistle of Phillip Melancton to K. Henry against the vi. Articles.

And this sophistication not onely nowe in England is had in great admiration, and esteemed for great wisedome, neither in Rome onely reigneth, where Cardinall Conterrenus, Sadolet, and Cardinall Poole, go about to paynt out abuses with new colours and goodly gloses: but also in Germany diuers noble men are likewise corrupted and seduced with the lyke sophistication. And therfore I nothyng maruell that so many there with you bee deceaued with these crafty iugglynges. And although you for your parte, lacke neither learnyng nor iudgement, yet some tymes we see it so happen, that wise men also be caryed away by fayre and colourable persuasions, from the veritie. The saying of Simonides is prayse worthy: Opinion (sayth hee) many tymes peruerteth veritie. MarginaliaFalsehode oftentimes beareth a fayrer shewe, then truth. And many tymes false opinion hath outwardly a fayrer shew, then simple truth. And specially it so happeneth in cases of Religion, where the deuill trāsformeth himselfe into an Aūgel of light, setting forth wt all colourable and goodly shewes, false opinions. How fayre seemeth the glose of Somosatenus, vpon the Gospell of S. Iohn: In the begynnyng was the word. &c. MarginaliaIohn. 1. and yet is it full of impietie. But I omit foreine examples.

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In these Articles of yours, how many things are craftely and deceitfully deuised? MarginaliaConfession Cōfession sayth the Article, is necessarie, & ought to be reteined. And why say they not playnly, that the rehearsing & numbring vp of sinnes is necessary by Gods word? This the Byshops knew well to be very false, & therfore in the Article they placed their wordes generally, to bleare the eyes of the simple people, that when they heare confession to be necessary, they should thereby thinke the enumeration of sinnes to be necessary by Gods word.

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MarginaliaPriuate Masses. The like legerdimaine also they vse in þe Article of priuate Masses, albeit the begynnyng of the sayd Article conteineth a manifest vntruth, where they say that it is necessary to reteyne priuate Masses. What man in all the primatiue Church, more then iiij. hundreth yeares after the Apostles tyme, did euer so say or thinke, at what tyme there were no such priuate Masses vsed? But afterward in the processe of þe Article, followe other blynd sophistications, to make the people beleue that they should receiue by them, diuine consolations and benefites. And why do they not plainly declare what consolations and benefites those be? The Byshops here do name no application MarginaliaBy application of Masses is ment, when the passion and merites of Christ is applyed to any by vertue of the Masse. and merite, for they knowe that they can not be defended. Yet they dally with glosing wordes, wherby they may winde out & escape, if any should improue their application. And yet notwithstandyng they would haue this their application to be vnderstanded and beleued of the people. They would haue this Idolatrous persuasion confirmed: to witte, that this sacrifice doth merite vnto others, remission A pœna & culpa: release of all calamities, and also gayne and luker in common trafficke, and to conclude, what soeuer els the carefull hart of man doth desire.

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MarginaliaPriestes mariage. The lyke sophistication they vse also, where they say that Priestes Mariage is agaynst the law of God. They are not ignoraunt what S. Paule sayth 

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1 Tim. 3: 2.

: A Byshop ought to be the husband of one wife: Marginalia1. Tim. 3. and therefore they knowe right well that Mariage is permitted to Priestes by the law of God. But because now, they say, they haue made a vow, they go craftely to worke, and do not say þt priestes for their vowes sake can not mary, but playnly giue out the Article after this sorte: that Mariage of Priestes is vtterly agaynst the law of God. Agayne, what impudencie and tyrāny do they shew moreouer, when they compell Mariages to be dissolued, & commaunde those to be put to death, which will not put away their wiues, and renounce their Matrimony? Where as the vow of Priestes, if it had any force at all should extend no further but onely to put them from the ministerie if they would mary. And this (no doubt) is the true meanyng of the Councels and Canons.

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MarginaliaWinchester cunning in the arte of iugling, called deceptio visus. O cursed Byshops. O impudent and wicked Winchester, who vnder these colourable fetches, thinketh to deceiue the eyes of Christ, and the iudgementes of all the godly in the whole world. These thinges haue I written that you may vnderstand the craftie sleightes and so iudge of the purpose and policie of these Byshops. For if they would simply and hartely search for the truth, they woulde not vse these crafty collusions and deceitful iugglynges.

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MarginaliaThe worde of God ought simply to be handled without al sophistrie. This sophistication, as it is in all other affaires pernicious and odious, so aboue all thynges, most specially it is to be auoyded in matters of Religion: wherein it is a heynous impietie to corrupt or peruerte the pure word of God. And hereof the deuill whiche is called Diabolus, specially taketh his name, because he wrasteth the word of God out of mens hartes by such false iuggling and sophistical cauillations. And why do not these Byshops as well plainly vtter and confesse that they will abyde no reformation of doctrine and Religion in the Church, for that it shall make agaynst their dignitie, pōpe and pleasure? Why do not their adherents also and such as take their part, playnly say that they will retaine still this present state of the Churche for their own profite, tranquilitie, and mainteynaunce? Thus to confesse, were true and playne dealyng. MarginaliaThe cloked hipocrisie of false Papistes. Now, whiles they pretend hipocritically a false zeale and loue to the truth and sincere Religion, they come in with their blynd sophistications, wherewith they couer their errours: for their Articles set forth in this acte be erroneous, false and impious, how glorious soeuer they seme outwardly. Wherfore it were to be wished that these byshops would remember Gods terrible threatnyng in the prophet Esay 

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The following verses are quoted in this order: Isaiah 10: 1, Isaiah 10: 3 and Isaiah 5: 20.

: Woe to you (sayth he) whiche make wicked lawes. What will you do in the day of visitation and calamitie to come? &c. MarginaliaEsa. 10. Woe vnto you that call euill good. &c. MarginaliaEsa. 5.

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Now to come more nere to the matter which we haue in hand: this can not be denied, but that long and horrible dareknes hath bene in the church of Christ. MarginaliaMens traditions coūted for Gods seruice. Mens tradtions not onely haue bene a yoke to good mens consciences, but also (which is much worse) they haue bene reputed for Gods holy seruice, to the great disworship of God. There were vowes, thynges bequethed to churches, diuersitie of garmentes, choyse of meates, long babling praiers, pardōs, imageworship, manifest idolatrie committed to saintes, the true worship of God and true good workes not knowen. Briefly, litle difference there was betwixt the Christian and Heathen religion, as stil is yet at Rome to this present day, to be seene. The true doctrine of repentaunce of remission of sinnes, which cōmeth by the fayth þe in Christe, of iustification of fayth, of the difference betwene the law and the gospell, of the right vse of the Sacramentes, was hid and vnknowen. The keyes were abused to the maintenaunce of the Popes vsurped tyranny. Ceremonies of mens inuention were much preferred before ciuile obedience and dueties done in the common wealth.

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MarginaliaThe filthy lyfe of the Clergie for lacke of mariage. Vnto these errours moreouer was ioyned a corrupte lyfe, full of all lecherous and filthy lustes, by reason of the law forbyddyng Priestes to mary. Out of this miserable darkenes, God somethyng hath begon to deliuer his church through the restoryng agayne of true doctrine. MarginaliaThis restoring of the Gospell is onely of God and not of man For so we must needes acknowledge, that these so great and long festred errors haue not bene disclosed and brought to lyght by the industry of man, but this lyght of the Gospell, is onely the gift of God, who now agayne hath appeared vnto the Church. For so doth the holy ghost prophecie before, how in the later tymes the godly should susteine sore and perilous conflictes with Antichrist, forshowing that he should come, enuironed with a mighty and strong army of Byshops, hipocrites and Princes: that he should fight against the truth and slay the godly.

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And that now al these thinges are so come to passe, it is most euident, and can not be denied. The tyrany of the Byshop of Rome hath partly brought in errors into þe Church partly hath confirmed thē, and now maintayneth the same with force and violence, as Daniell well foreshewed. And much we reioyced to see you diuided from hym, hoping and trusting well that the Church of England would now florishe. But your Byshops be not deuided from the Romish Antichrist: hys Idolatrie, errours, and vices they defende and maintaine with toth and nayle: MarginaliaBy the vi. Articles all errours and traditions are maintayned. for the Articles now passed, are craftely picked out. They confirme all humane traditions in that they establish solemne vowes, single lyfe, and auricular confession. They vphold and aduaunce not onely their pride and authoritie, but all errours withall, in reteyning the priuate Masse.

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Thus haue they craftly prouided that no reformation cā take any place, that their dignitie & wealth may still be vpholden. And this to be the purpose of the byshops, experiēce it selfe doth playnely teach vs. Now what man will not lament to see the glory of Christ thus to be defaced? For (as I sayd before) this matter concerneth not onely these Articles whiche there be enacted, but all other Articles of sound doctrine are likewise ouerthrowne, if such traditions of men shalbe reputed as necessary and to be reteyned. For why doth Christ say? 

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Mark 7: 7.

For they worshyp me in vayne with the preceptes of men? MarginaliaMarke. or why doth S. Paule so oft detest mens traditions?

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MarginaliaGod will not be worshipped but after his worde. It is no light offence to set vp new kindes of worshippyng and seruing of God without his worde, or to defend the same. Such presumptiō God doth horribly detest, which will be knowen in his word onely. He will haue none other Religions inuented by mans deuise: for els al sortes of religions of all nations might be approued and allowed. Leaue not (sayth he) 

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Proverbs 3: 5.

to thine own wisedome. MarginaliaProu. 3. But he sent Christ, and commaundeth vs to heare him, and not the inuention of subtile and politicke heades, which apply Religion to their owne luker and commoditie.

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Furthermore, priuate Masses, vowes, the single lyfe of Priestes, numbryng vp of sinnes to the Priest, with other thynges moe, beyng but mere ordinaunces of men, are

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