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1170 [1169]

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

vsed for Gods true seruice and worshyp. MarginaliaAgainst priuate Masses and the Canon of the Masse. For although the Supper of the Lord was truely instituted by Christ, yet the priuate Masse is a wicked prophanation of the Lordes Supper. For in the Canon what corruption is conteined in this, where it is sayd that Christ is offered, and that the worke it selfe is a sacrifice which redemeth the quicke and the dead? These thynges were neuer ordeined of Christ: yea manifold wayes they are repugnant to the Gospell. MarginaliaChrist but once offered. Christ willeth not iym selfe to be offered vppe of Priestes, neither can the worke of the offerer or of the receiuer, by any meanes be a sacrifice. This is manifest Idolatrie, and ouerthroweth the true doctrine of fayth and the true vse of the Sacramentes. By fayth in Christ we are iustified, and not by any worke of the Priest. MarginaliaThe true vse of the Lordes Supper. And the Supper is ordeined that the Minister should distribute to others, to the intent that they repenting for their sinnes, should be admonished firmely to beleue the promises of the Gospell to perteine vnto them: Here is set a playne testimonie before vs, that we are made the members of Christ, and washed by his bloud.

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And this is the true vse of that Supper, whiche is ordeined in the Gospell, and was obserued in the primatiue Churche 300. yeares and more, from the which we ought not to be remoued. MarginaliaSacramentes ought not to be remoued out of their right vse. For it is playne impietie to transferre the Lordes institution to any other vse, as we are taught by the second commaundement. Wherefore these priuate Masses, for asmuch as they swarue from the right institution of Christ manifold wayes, as by oblation, sacrifice, application and many other wayes besides, they are not to be reteined but to be abolished.Flye (sayth S. Paule) 

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1 Cor. 10: 14.

from all Idolatry. Marginalia1. Cor. 10. In these priuate Masses much Idolatry is committed, which we see our bishops now so stoutly to defend: & no maruell. For in the latter tymes the Scripture playnly sheweth that great Idolatry shall reigne in the Churche of God. As Christ himselfe also signifieth, saying 
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Matt. 24: 15.

: When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which is foretold of the Prophet Daniell, standyng in the holy place, he that readeth, let hym vnderstand. MarginaliaMath. 24. And Daniell in the xi. Chapter. 
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Daniel 11: 38.

And he shall worshyp the God Maozim in his place, and shall adore the God whom his fathers knew not, with Golde, Siluer, and precious stones. MarginaliaDan. 11. Both these places speake of the Masse.

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This kynde of worshyp and horrible prophanation of the Sacrament, God abhorreth. For how many sundry kyndes of manifest impietie are here committed in this one action of the Masse? MarginaliaWhat impietie is in the Masse. First, it is set forth to sale. Secondly they that are vnworthy, are compelled to receiue whether they will or no. Thirdly, it is applyed for meritorious and satisfactory for the quicke and the dead. Fourthly, many thynges are promised thereby, as prosperous nauigation, remedies agaynst diseases both for man and beast, with other infinite moe. These be most manifest and notorious abhominations. But besides these, there be other also no lesse to be reprehended whiche the simple people do not so playnly see. Such worshyppyng and seruyng of God is not to be set vp after the phantasie of men.

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Wherefore they do wickedly when they offer sacrifice to God without his commaundement. For when of this woorke they make a sacrifice, they imagine that priuate Masses are to be done, because God would be worshypped after this sorte. And we see that Masses are bought with gold and siluer, great riches and sumptuous charges: also the Sacrament to be caryed about in gold and siluer to be worshypped, whereas the Sacrament was neuer ordeined for any such purpose. Wherfore seyng the commaundement of God biddeth, flye from Idolatry, priuate Masses are not to be mainteyned. MarginaliaNo priuate Masses vsed in the olde tyme. And I maruell why they say that such priuate Masses are necessarily to be reteyned, when it is euident that in the old tyme there was none such. Shall we thinke that thynges perteinyng to the necessary worshyp of GOD, could so long be lackyng in the primatiue Church 300. yeares after the Apostles and more? What cā be more absurde and agaynst all reason?

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We see these priuate Masses to be defended with great labour and much adoe: of some, for feare lest their gayne should decay: of some, because they would serue the affection of the vulgare people (whiche thinketh to haue great succour thereby, and therefore are loth to leaue it) rather then for any iust cause or reason to lead them. But howsoeuer 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: neither doth the worke of the Priest merite any grace to any person, but euery one is iustified by his own fayth. Neither agayne would God haue any man to trust vpon any ceremony, but onely to the benefite of Christ. And most certaine this is, that the application of these Masses for the dead, is full of great errour and impietie.

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But here come in blynd gloses (albeit to no purpose) to MarginaliaApplication of the Masse idolatrous.excuse this application. For vniuersally amonges all þe people, who is he that thinketh otherwise, but that this worke is auailable for the whole Church? Yea the Canon of the Masse it selfe declareth no lesse. And why then doe some of these craftie sophisters dally out the matter wyth their glosing wordes, denying that they make any applicatiō of their Masses, when they know full well that the errour of the people is cōfirmed by this their doing: although they themselues do thinke otherwise? Albeit how fewe be there in very deede which do otherwise thinke?

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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 auncient custome of þe primitiue church doth lead vs. Why should any man 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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Now, although some perhaps will pretend and say, that he maketh no application of hys Masses, yet notwithstandyng he so dealeth in handlyng the ceremony priuately by himselfe, that he thinketh thys his oblation to be high seruice done to God, and such as God requireth: which is also erroneous and to be reproued. For why, no seruice nor worship perteinyng to God ought to be set vp by mans deuise, without the commanudement of God.

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Wherfore I beseeche you for the glory of Christ, that you will not defend the article of this Acte concerning these priuate Masses, but that you will suffer the matter to be well examined by vertuous and learned men. All thynges that we here wyth vs do, we do them by euident & substātial testimony of the primitiue Church, which testimonye I dare be bold to set agaynst the iudgementes of all that haue since followed, such as haue corrupted þe auncient doctrine and olde rites with manifolde errours.

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MarginaliaAgaynst vowes of Priestes single lyfe. As touching the other articles, they haue no neede of any long disputation. Vowes that be wicked, fayned, and impossible, are not to be kept. MarginaliaThe common errour concerning vowes. There is no doubt, but thys is the common perswasion of all men touching vowes, that all these wilworkes deuised by man, are the true seruice and worship of God: and so thinke they also which speake most indifferently of them. Other adde thereunto more grosse errours, saying that these workes bring wyth them perfectiō, and merite euerlasting lyfe. Now all these opinions the Scripture in many places doth reproue. Christ saith 

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Mark 7: 7.

: They worship me in vayne with the precepts of men. MarginaliaMarke. 7. And Paul sayth 
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1 Tim. 4: 1.

, that these obseruations be the doctrine of deuils: for they ascribe to the power and strength of man, false houour because they are taken for the seruice of God: they obscure fayth and the true worshipping of God. Marginalia1. Tim. 4. Item, the sayde Paule to the Coloss. sayth 
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Col. 2: 18 and 20.

: Let no man deceiue you by fayned humilitie. &c. Why make you Decrees? &c. MarginaliaColloss. 2. Wherfore these corrupt 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 & wicked abuses. The whole order of monkery, what superstition doth it conteine? What prophanations of Masses, inuocation of Saintes, colours and fashions of apparell, choise of meates, superstitious prayers without all measure? MarginaliaCauses why vowes ought to be broken. Of which causes euery one were sufficient, why these vowes ought to be broken. Besides thys, a great part of men are drawen to thys kinde of lyfe chiefely for the bellyes sake, and then afterward they pretend the holynes of their vowe and profession.

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Furthermore, thys vowe of single lyfe is not to all men possible to be kept, as Christ hymselfe sayeth 

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Matt. 19: 12.

: All men doe not receiue this. MarginaliaMath. 19. Such vowes therefore which without sinne can not be performed are to be vndone, but these things I haue discussed sufficiētly in other of my workes.

MarginaliaThe vi. articles make the vowe of priestes as streight 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 themselues doe bynd a Priest no farther to single lyfe: but onely for the tyme that he remayneth in the ministery. And certeynely it made my hart to tremble when I reade thys Article which so forbiddeth matrimony, and dissolueth the same beyng contracted, and appoynteth moreouer the punishment of death for the same. MarginaliaNo lawe of death euer stablished for priestes mariage, before the vi Articles. Although there haue bene diuers godly Priestes which in certeyne places haue bene put to death for their maryage, yet hath neuer man hetherto bene so bolde to stablishe any such law. For euery man in a maner, well perceiued that all well disposed and reasonable persons would abhorre that crueltie: and also they feared least the posterity woulde thinke euill thereof. Who woulde euer thinke, that in the Church of Christ, wherein all lenitie towarde the godly ought most principally to be shewed, such cruelnes and tyrannie could take place, to set forth bloudy lawes to be executed vpon the godly for lawfull matrimonie?

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