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163 [162]

The Epistle of Huldricke Bysh. to Pope Nicol. Priestes Mariage.

read to be restrained: but in the Gospel thus he sayth: There be some Eunuches which haue gelded them selues for the kyngdome of heauen, but all men do not take this worde: he that can take it, let him take it. Wherefore the Apostle sayth: concernyng virgins, I haue no commaundement of the Lord, but onely I geue counsell. Which counsell also all mē do not take, as in the commaundement of the Lord before, but many there be, false dissemblers and flatterers, goyng about to please men and not God, whom we see vnder a false pretence of continencie, to fall into horrible wickednesse: MarginaliaThe inconuenience of single lyfe.Some to lye with their fathers wiues, some to be sodomites, and not to abhorre to playe the beastes with brute beastes. And therefore least through the infection of this wicked pestilēce, the state of the Church should to much go to ruine: therfore he sayd: because of fornication, let euery man haue his own wife. Touchyng which saying, our false hypocrites falsly do lye, and fayne: as though onely it pertayned to the laitie, and not to them. And yet they them selues seemyng to be set in the most holy order, are not afrayde to abuse other mēs wiues: and as we see with (weepyng eyes) al they do outrage in the foresayd wickednes.

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These men haue not rightly vnderstanded the Scripture: whose brestes while they sucke so hard (in stede of milke) they sucke out bloud. For the saying of the Apostle: MarginaliaThe saying of the Apostle, let euery one haue his owne wife.let euery mā haue his owne wife: doth except none in very deede, but him onely which hath the gift of continencie, prefixyng with him selfe to keepe and to continue his virgine in the Lord. Wherefore (O reuerend father) it shalbe your part to cause & ouersee, that who soeuer, either with hād or mouth, hath made a vow of continencie, and afterward would forsake: either should be compelled to keepe his vow, or els by lawfull authoritie should be deposed from his order.

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And to bryng this to passe, ye shal not onely haue me, but also all other of my order, to be helpers vnto you. But that you may vnderstand, that such which know not what a vow doth meane: are not to be violently compelled thereunto: heare what the Apostle sayth vnto Timothie. A Byshop (sayth he) must be irreprehensible, the husband of one wife. Which sentence, least ye should turne and apply onely to the Churche, marke what he inferreth after: he that knoweth not (sayth he) to rule his own houshold and familie, how should he rule the Church of God? And likewise the Deacons (sayth he) let them be the husbandes of one wife, which haue knowledge to gouerne their owne house and children. And this wife, how she is wont to be blest of the Priest, you vnderstand sufficiently: I suppose, by the decrees of holy Siluester the Pope.

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MarginaliaThis Decree is contrary to the Byshops and Prelates in Queene Maries tyme.To these and such other holy sentences of the Scripture, agreeth also, he that is the writer of the rule of the Clergy, writyng after this maner. A Clarke must be chaste and continent, or els let hym be coupled in the bandes of matrimony, hauing one wife. Whereby it is to be gathered, that the Byshop and Deacon, are noted infamous and reprehensible, if they be deuided in mo women then one: otherwise, if they do forsake one, vnder the pretence of Religion: both they together, as well the Byshop as the Deacon be here condemned by the Canonicall sentence, which sayth: let no Byshop or Priest forsake his owne wife, vnder the coulour and pretence of Religion. If he do forsake her, let him be excommunicate. And if he so continue, let him be disgraded. S. Austen also, a man of discrete holynes, sayth in these wordes: There is no offence so great or greuous, but it is to auoyde a greater euill.

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Furthermore, we read in the second booke of the Tripartite history: That when the Councell of Nice, goyng about to establish the same decree, would enact that Byshoppes, Priestes, and Deacons, after their consecration, either should abstaine vtterly from their own wiues, or els should be deposed. Then Paphnutius (one of those holy Martyrs, whom the Emperour Maximus had put out the right eye, & hockt their left legs) rising vp amōgest them, withstode their purposed decrement: confessing Mariage to be honorable, and callyng the bed of matrimony to be chastitie: & so perswaded the Councell from makyng that law, declaryng therby what occasion might come to them selues and their wyues of fornication. And thus much dyd Paphnutius (beyng vnmaryed him selfe) declare vnto them. And the whole Coūcell commendyng his sentence, gaue place thereto, and left the matter freely without compulsion, to the will of euery man, to do therein as he thought.

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Notwithstandyng there be some, which take Saint Gregory for their defence in this matter: whose temeritie I laugh at, and ignoraunce I lament: for they know not, being ignorauntly deceiued, how dangerously the decree of this heresie was (being made of Saint Gregory) who afterwardwell reuoked the same, wyth condigne fruite of repētaunce.

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MarginaliaMore then 6000 heades of infāts founde in the Popes mote through the wicked decree of the single lyfe of Priestes.For vpon a certaine day day as he sent vnto his fishponde to haue fishe, and did see more then sixe thousand infantes heades brought vnto him, which were takē out of the same ponde or mote: did greatly repent in hym selfe the decree made before, touchyng the single lyfe of Priestes, which he confessed to be the cause of that so lamentable a murther. And so purgyng the same, with condigne fruite of repentaunce: altered agayne the thynges which he had decreed before, commendyng that counsell of the Apostle, whiche sayth: It is better to marry then to burne. Addyng moreouer of hym selfe thereunto, and saying: MarginaliaLet Priestes note well the saying of Gregory.it is better to marry, then to giue occasion of death.

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Peraduenture if these mē had read with me this, which so happened: I thinke they would not be so rashe in their doyng and iudgyng, fearyng at least the Lordes commaūdement: do not iudge, that ye be not iudged. And S. Paule sayth: who art thou that iudgest an other mans seruant? Either he standeth or falleth to hys owne maister: but he shall stād, for the Lord is mighty, and able to make him stand. Therefore let your holynesse cease to compell and enforce those, whom onely ye ought to admonishe: least through your owne priuate commaundement (whych God forbid) you be found contrary: as well to the old Testament, as to the new. For as S. Austen sayth to Donatus: this is onely that we do feare in your iustice, lest (not for the consideration of Christian lenitie, but for the greuousnes and greatnesse of transgressions committed) you be thought to vse violence in executyng punishment of that whiche onely we do desire you (by Christ) not to do. For transgressions are so to be punished, that the lyfe of the transgressours may repent. Also an other saying of Austen we woulde you to remember, which is this: Nil nocendi fiat cupiditate, omnia consulendi charitate: & nihil fiat immaniter, nihil inhumaniter. That is: MarginaliaNote well the saying of AustenLet nothyng be done through the greedynes of hurting, but all thyngs through the charitie of profityng. Neither let any thyng be done cruelly, nothyng vngently. Item of the same Austen it is written: In the feare and name of Christ I exhorte you, which of you so euer haue not the goodes of this world, be not greedy to haue thē: Such as haue thē, presume not to much vpon thē. For I say, to haue thē is no damnatiō, but if ye presume vpon them, that is damnatiō: if for the hauyng of them ye shall seeme great in your owne sight, or if ye do forget the common cōdition of man, through the excellencie of any thyng you haue. Vse therfore therein due discretiō, tēpered with moderatiō, the which cup of discretion is drawen out of that foūtaine of the Apostolike preachyng which sayth: art thou lose frō thy wife? Do not seeke for thy wife. Art thou bound to thy wife? Seeke not to be loosed frō her. Where also it followeth: such as haue wiues, let them be as though they had them not: and they that vse the world, let them be as not vsing it.

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MarginaliaWhat it is to marry in the Lord.Item concernyng the widow he sayth: Let her marry to whom she will, onely in the Lord. To marry in the Lord, is nothyng els but to attempt nothyng in contractyng of matrimony, which the Lord doth forbid. Ieremy also saith: trust not in the wordes of lyes, saying: the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. The which saying of Ieremy, Hierome expoundyng sayth thus: this may agree also, and be applyed vnto such virgins, which brag and vaunt their virginitie with an impudent face, pretēdyng chastitie, when they haue an other thing in their consciēce, and know not how the Apostle defineth the virgine, MarginaliaWhat a virgine is by the definition of the Apostle.that she should be holy in body, and also in spirite. For what auayleth the chastitie of the body, if the mynde inwardly be defloured? Or if it haue not the other vertues, which the propheticall Sermon doth describe? The whiche vertues, for as much as we see partly to be in you, and because we are not ignoraunt, that this discretion (although neglected in this part, yet in the other actions of your lyfe to be kept honestly of you:) do not dispayre, but you will also soone amende the litle lacke which is behynd. And therfore with as much grauitie as we can, we cease not to call vpon you, to correct and amende this your negligēce. For although, accordyng to our common callyng, a Byshop is greater then a priest, yet Austē beyng lesse then Hierome (notwithstādyng the good correction proceedyng frō the lesser to the greater) was not to be refused or disdayned, especially when he which is corrected, is found to striue agaynst the truth, to please men.

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For as S. Austen sayth, writyng to Boniface: the disputations of all men, be they neuer so Catholicke or approued persons: ought not to be had in steede of the Canonicall Scriptures. So that we may disproue or refuse (sauying the honor and reuerence whiche is due vnto them) any thyng that is in their wrytinges: if any thyng there be founde, con-

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