Foxe's account of the first three hundred years of the church, as it was formulated for the 1570 edition, no longer emphasised the innocent childhood and adolescence of the church as it had in the 1563 edition. Instead, it was prefaced by Foxe's exposition of two classic protestant divisions. The first, which went back to the 'Zweie Reiche', or 'Two Kingdoms' in Luther's thinking, was a clear distinction between the affairs of this world (vain and mutable, 'ruled by mans violence and wisedome') and the 'kingdome of Christ' (which was ruled by 'Gods blessing & providence'). The second distinction was between the visible and invisible church, one which Foxe might have acquired from a variety of Reformed theologians, but which he probably owed particularly to John Bale and his Image of Both Churches (Antwerp, 1545 and subsequent editions). These two distinctions then became the guiding principles to the way in which he structured the material, largely from Eusebius, on the earliest persecutions in the history of the church.[Back to Top]
Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield
THese thinges be-fore premised, hauing thus hetherto prepared the way vnto our story, let vs now (by the grace and spede of Christ our Lord) enter into þe matter: þt as we haue heretofore set forth in a generall description the whole state as well of þe primatiue, as of þe latter times of this church of Rome: so now consequently to discourse in particular sort the Actes and doinges of euery age, by it selfe, in such order, as is afore prefixed.[Back to Top]
Marginalia1.First to declare of the suffering time of the church, which conteyneth. 300. yeares after Christ.
Marginalia2.Secondly, the florishing and growing tyme of the same: conteyning other. 300. yeares.
Marginalia3.Thirdly, the declining tyme of the church, and of true religion, other. 300. yeares.
Marginalia4.Fourthly, of the time of Antichrist, reigning and raging in the church, since the loosing out of Sathan.
Marginalia5.Lastly, of the reforming time of Christes church in these latter. 300. yeares.
In the tractation of all which things our chiefe purpose and endeuour shalbe (so neare as the Lord wil geue vs grace) not so much to intermedle with outwarde affayres of princes, or matters ciuile, (except sometime for example of lyfe) as specially minding (by the helpe of the Lord) to prosecute such things, which to þe ecclesiasticall state of the church are apperteyning: as first to entreate of the stablishing of christian faith, then of the persecutions of tyrauntes, the constancie and pacience of Gods Saintes, the first conuersion of christen Realmes, to the fayth of Christ, namely of this Realme of England and Scotland: first beginning with King Lucius, & so forward following the order of our English Kings here in this land, to declare the maintenaunce of true doctrine, the false practise of prelates, the creping in of superstitiō, and hipocrisie, the manifolde assaultes, warres and tumultes of the princes of this world, against the people of God. Wherin may appeare the wonderful operation of Christes mightie hand, euer working in his church, and neuer ceasing to defend the same agaynst his enemyes, according to the veritie of hys own worde, promising to be with his church while the worlde shall stande, so as by the proces of this storie maye wel be proued, and be testified in the sequell therof.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaTwo thinges in thys storye chieflely to be noted.In þe tractation of all which things. ij. special pointes I chieflye commend to the reader, as most requisite and necessarye for euery chirsten man to obserue and note for his own experience and profite, as first the dispositiō and nature of thys world: secondly the nature and condition of the kingdome of Christ: the vanitie of the one, and stablishment of the other: The vnprosperous & vnquiet state of the one, ruled by mans violence and wisedome: And the happy succes of the other euer ruled by Gods blessing & prouidence. The wrath & reuēging hād of God in the one, and his mercye vpon the other. MarginaliaThe world.The world I call all such as be without or against Christ, eyther by ignoraunce not knowing him, or by heathenyshe lyfe not following him, or by violence resisting him. On þe other side, MarginaliaThe kyngdome of Christ in the world.the kingdome of Christ in this world I take to be all them which belonge to the fayth of Christ, and here take his part in thys world agaynst the world. The number of whom although it be muche smaller then the other, and alwayes lightlye is hated and molested of the world, yet it is the number, which the Lorde peculiarlye doth blesse and prosper, and euer will. MarginaliaThe visible church.And thys number of Christs subiectes is it, which we call the visible church here in earth. MarginaliaThe church of Christ deuided in two sortes of people.Which visible church hauing in it selfe a difference of. ij. sortes of people, so is it to be deuided in. ij. parts, of which the one stādeth of such as be of outward professiō onely, the other which by election inwardly are ioyned to Christ: the first in word and lippes seemeth to honour Christ, and are in the visible church onely, but not in the church inuisible, and partaketh the outwarde sacramentes of Christ, but not the inwarde blessing of Christ: The other are both in the visible and also in þe inuisible church of Christ, which not in woordes onely and outward profession, but also in hart do truely serue and honour Christ, partaking not onely the sacraments, but also the heauenly blessings and grace of Christ.[Back to Top]
And many tymes it happeneth, that as betwene the world, and the kingdome of Christ there is a continuall repugnaunce: so betwene these two partes of thys visible church aforesayd, oft times groweth great variance and mortall persecution, insomuch that somtime þe true church of Christ hath no greater enemyes, than of theyr own profession and company, as happened not onely in the tyme of Christ, and hys Apostles, but also from time to tyme almost continually. Euseb. Lib. 8. cap. 1. MarginaliaEus. Lib. 8. cap. 1.But especially in these latter dayes of the church vnder the persecution of Antichrist and hys retinue, as by the readyng of this volume more manifestly here after may appeare.[Back to Top]
At the first preaching of Christ, and comming of the Gospell: who should rather haue knowen and receaued hym, then the Phariseis & Scribes of that people, which had hys lawe? And yet who persecuted and reiected him more, then they them selues? What followed: MarginaliaGods punishment for refusyng the Gospell.They in refusing Christ to be theyr king, and chosing rather to be subiect vnto Cesar, were by the sayd their own Cesar at length destroyed: when as Christes subiectes the same tyme escaped the daunger. Whereby it is to be learned, what a daungerous thyng it is to refuse the Gospell of God, when it is so gently offered.[Back to Top]
The like example of Gods wrathfull punyshment is to be noted no lesse in þe Romaines also themselues.
MarginaliaTiberius Cesar moueth the Senate to haue christ receiued.For when Tiberius Cesar hauyng receaued by letters from Pontius Pilate, of the doings of Christ, of his miracles, resurrection, and ascension into heauē, and how he was receued as God of many, was himself also moued with beliefe of the same, & dyd conferre therof with the whole Senate of Rome, to haue Christ adoured as God:
MarginaliaChrist refused of the Senate of Rome.but they not agreeing therunto, refused hym,
MarginaliaThe vaine cause why the Senate of Rome refused Christ.because þt contrary to þe law of þe Romaines, he was consecrated, (said they) for God, before the Senate of Rome had so decreed and approued hym, &c. Tertul. Apol. cap. 5.
MarginaliaTertul. Apost. cap. 5.
Euseb. Lib. 2. cap. 2.Thus þe vaine Senate following rather the lawe of man, then of God, and which wer contented with the Emperour to reigne ouer them, were not contented with the meeke Kyng of glory the sonne of God to be theyr Kyng. And therfore after much lyke sort to the Iewes wer scourged and intrapped for theyr vniust refusing, by þe same way which they themselues dyd preferre. MarginaliaThe Senate & citie of Rome plaged for refusyng of Christ.For as they preferred the Emperour, and reiected Christ: so the iuste permission of God, did styrre vp theyr own Emperours agaynst them in such sorte, that both the Senatours themselues were almost all deuoured, and the whole citye most horriblye afflicted the space almost of. 300. yeares together. For fyrst the same Tiberius, which for a great parte of hys reigne, was a moderate and a tollerable prince, afterward was to them a sharpe and heauy tyrant, who neyther fauoured his owne mother, nor spared hys own nenewes, nor the princes of the citie, such as were his own counsellours, of whom to the number of. xx. he lefte not paste two or three aliue, and so cruell was he to the citie, that as þe storye recordeth: Nullus a pæna hominum cessa-