Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
70 [57]

and steale. After that was allured by them vnto greater mischiefe and wickednesse. Marginaliawhat wicked company doth.Wherin by custome of time by little and little, he being more practised, and being of a good witte, and a stoute courage, lyke vnto a wilde or an vnbroken horse, leauing the right way and running at large without bridle, was caried headlong to the profunditie of all misorder and outrage. And thus being paste all hope of grace, vtterly forgetting and reiecting the wholesome doctrine of saluation, which he had learned before, beganne to set his mind vpon no small matters. And forasmuch as he was entred so far in the way of perdition, he cared not how further he proceded in þe same. And so associating vnto him the companye of his companions, and fellowe theues, tooke vpon him to be as head and captayne among them, in committing all kynde of murther and felonye.

[Back to Top]

In the meane time it chaunced, þt of necessitie Iohn was sent for to those quarters agayne, and came. The causes being decised, and his busines ended, for þe which he came, by the way meting with the Bishop afore specified, requyreth of him the pledge, which in the witnesse of Christ, and of the congregation then present, he left in his handes to keepe. The Bishop something amased at the wordes of Iohn, supposing he had ment of some money committed to his custodye, which he had not receaued, and yet durst not mistrust Iohn, nor contrary hys wordes, could not tell what to answer. Then Iohn perceauing his doubting, and vttering hys minde more playnely: The young man (sayth he) and the soule of our brother committed to your custodie, I do requyre. Then the Bishop with a loude voyce, sorrowing and wepyng, sayd, he is dead: to whom Iohn sayd, how? And by what death? The other sayd, he is dead to God: for he is become an euill man, & pernicious, to be briefe, a theefe: and now he doth frequent this mountayne with a company of villanes and theues, like vnto himselfe agaynst the church. MarginaliaA notable lessō for all ministers to seke againe their lost sheepe.But the Apostle renting his garmentes, and with great lamentation, sayd, I haue left a good keper of my brothers soule. Get me a horse, and let me haue a guyde with me, which being done, his horse and man procured, hasted from the church as much as he coulde, and cōming to the same place, was taken of the theues þt watched. But he neyther flying, neyther refusing, said: I came for this same cause hether, lead me (sayeth he) to your captaine. So he being brought, the captaine all armed, fiercely beganne to looke vpon him. And eftsones cōming to the knowledge of him, was stroken with confusion and shame, and beganne to flye. But the old mā followed him, as much as he might, fogetting his age, and crying: My sonne, why doest thou flie from thy father? an armed man, from one naked, a yong man, frō an old man. Haue pity on me my sonne, and feare not, MarginaliaO vnspeakeable loue shewed out to a wicked synner.for ther is yet hope of saluation. I wil make an answer for thee vnto Christ. I will dye for thee, if neede be, as Christ hath died for vs. I will geue my life for thee, beleue me Christ hath sent me. He hearing these thinges, first as in a mase stood still, and therewith his courage was abated. After that he cast downe his weapons, by and by he trembled, yea and wept bitterlye: and comming to the old man, embraced him, & spake vnto hym with weeping (as wel as he could) being euen then baptised afresh with teares, onely his right hand being had and couered. Then the Apostle, after that he had promised and firmly acerteined him that he should obtaine remission of our sauiour, and also praied falling downe vpon his knees, and kissed his murdering right hande, which for shame he durst not shew before: as now purged through repentaunce, brought him to the congregation, and when he had praied for him with continuall praier and dayly fastinges, and had comforted and confirmed his minde with many sentences, went not from him (as the autour reporteth) before he hadde restoredhim to the congregation againe, and made him a great example and triall of regeneration, and a token of the visible resurrection.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaAn example of the godly to flee the cōpany of the wicked.Moreouer, the foresaid Ireneus in lib. 3. cap. 3. and Eusebius lib, 3. cap. 28. and lib. 4. cap. 14. prosecuting the history of Iohn, declare in these woordes, saying, that there were certaine which heard Policarpus say, that Iohn the disciple of our Lord, going into Ephesus to be washed, seing Cerinthus within, he leaped out of the bathe vnbathed, because he feared the bathe shoulde haue fallen, seing that Cerinthus, an ennemy to the truth, was within. Such feare had the Apostles (saith Ireneus) that they would not communicate a woord with them that adulterate the truth.

[Back to Top]

And forasmuch as we are here in hand with the story of Iohn the blessed Euangelist, commeth in matter and occasion, not geuen by him, but taken of other, of a great doubt & difficultye, suche as hath occupied all the Catholicke, subtile, illuminate, and seraphical Doctors of the Popes catholicke church, these. 500. yeares. The difficulty is this: that forsomuch as auricular confessiō hath bene, and is yet receaued in the Popes catholicke church for an holy and necessary sacrament, extending vniuersallye to all and singular creatures Christian. MarginaliaA catholique question.Here then riseth a question, who was our Ladies confessour, or ghostly father? MarginaliaSolution.But that is decreed and confessed with ful consent of al the Catholiques to be saint Iohn. Whosoeuer denieth or doubteth of this, is straite waies ipso facto an hereticke. MarginaliaAn other catholique question.This then so determined, emergeth an other question or doubt, that seing our Ladye was without all originall sinne, and also actuall or mortall: what neede then had she of any Confessour? or what should she confesse vnto him? For if she had confessed any sinne, when she had none: then had she made her selfe a lyar, and so had sinned in dede. Here therfore gentle Reader, in this perplexitye, these our illuminate Doctours stand neede of thine ayde, to helpe at a pinch. MarginaliaSolution.
Albert. super euangelium Missus est.
Magnus Albertus the great diuine, denieth not, but that she in deede, althoughe most pure, yet was confessed to her gostly father, to keepe the obseruances of the lawe, appointed for such as had that neede, which she had not. And therfore (saith he) necessary it was that she should confesse with mouth. MarginaliaAn other question with the solution.But then here is to be asked, what did she say in her confession, when she had nothing to confesse? To this Albertus answereth againe, and telleth vs plainly what she sayde in her confession, whych was this: MarginaliaAlbert ibidē, cap. 74.that she had receaued that great grace, not ex condigno, that is, not of any dignity of her own, but yet notwithstanding of congruitye. And this was it (saith Albert) that she sayd in her confession. Albert. cap. 74, super Euang. Missus est. &c.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaS. Thomas parc. 3. quest. 37. art. 5.Moreouer, to helpe this case out of al doubt, cōmeth in famous Thomas of Watring, and thus looseth the knot, much after like effect, saying: that as Christe, although he did owe nothing to the law, yet notwithstanding receaued he circumcision, to geue to other example of humility and obediēce: In like maner would our Lady shew her selfe obedient to the obseruaunce of the law, albeit there was no cause, why she had anye neede therof. And thus hast thou (gentle Reader) this doubtful question moued, and soluted to the entent I woulde reueale to thee some part of the deepe diuinitye of our catholique Maisters, that haue ruled and gouerned the church in these their late popish daies.

[Back to Top]
The third persecution. 
Commentary  *  Close
The first ten persecutions

The section on the first 300 years of the church was, however, just the preface to the 'First Ten Persecutions', a structured 'decade' of martyrdoms in the early church that mirrored the 'centuries' into which the Magdeburg Centuries had chosen to organize its history of the Christian church. For our examination of Foxe's (extensive) borrowings from the Magdeburg Centuries, we have made use of the online edition of this text at: http://www.mgh-bibliothek.de/digilib/centuriae.htm and, for the bibliographical complexities surrounding its publication, Ronald E. Diener, 'The Magdeburg Centuries. A Bibliothecal and Historiographical Study'. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Divinity School 1978/79). For these sections, we have undertaken a very preliminary analysis, concentrating on the following textual divisions: Introduction to first 10 persecutions (1583, p. 34; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 53-4); First persecution (1583, pp. 34-5; 1576, p. 34; 1570, pp. 54-6); Second persecution (1583, pp. 35-9; 1576, pp. 35-9; 1570, pp. 56-7); Third persecution (1583, pp. 39-42; 1576, pp. 39-42; 1570, pp. 57-9); Fourth persecution (1583, pp. 42-46; 1576, pp. 42-46; 1570, pp. 59-69); Martyrs of Lyons (1583, pp. 46-50; 1576, pp. 46-50; 1570, pp. 69-74); Remainder of fourth persecution (1583, pp. 50-4; 1576, pp. 50-4; 1570, pp. 74-9); Fifth persecution (1583, pp. 54-9; 1576, pp. 54-9; 1570, pp. 79-85); Sixth persecution (1583, p. 59; 1576, pp. 59-60; 1570, pp. 85-6).

[Back to Top]

In the block on the first persecutions, prepared for the 1570 edition and repeated in the later ones, Foxe cites as his source Eusebius, book 3, ch. 30. Although it is probably the case that he consulted the source, it is much more likely that, for this (as for the succeeding sections of this part of the narrative) that he drew on the published volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, in this case, vol. 1, book 2, cols 561-4.

[Back to Top]

For the second persecution, Foxe continued to use Eusebius, supplementing it (apparently) with Irenaeus' Against Heresies and the Historiae adversum paganos of Orosius. Again, although it is difficult to be certain of this at present, his direct source was likely to have been the Magdeburg Centuries. For the fourth persecution, concerned especially with the martyrdom of Polycarp, we can be clearer. Although some of the sections of Foxe's narrative (such as the Epistle to Pontus and the sayings of Polycarp to Martin the heretic, are direct translations from Eusebius, the section on the life and works of Polycarpus, which indirectly comes from Eusebius, book 5, ch. 20, is clearly lifted from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 173 and 176. For the contradictory views of various authors on who were the popes at the time, Foxe clearly used the Magdeburg Centuries, I, book 2, cols 626-8 but he also consulted at least some of the other sources he mentions in order to construct an independent view. The section on the order of the popes to Eleutherius certainly is taken from the Magdeburg Centuries, II, cols 117 and 209-210.

[Back to Top]

For the fourth persecution, it is evident that the Magdeburg Centuries formed the direct source for the following sections of it:- the Epistle of Pliny to Trajan and its response (p. 53 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 13-4); the martyrdoms under Emperor Hadrian (p. 54 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 15-6 and cols 231-33); the final rising of the Jews under Hadrian and subsequent slaughter, the succession of Antoninus Pius, and resumption of the fourth persecution (p. 55 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col 17); the disputed claims concerning Hyginus (p. 66 of the 1570 edition) - (II, cols 111; 141; 212-3); Eleutherius' mission to convert the British (II, cols 8-9); and the contention over the date of Easter at the time of Commodus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (II, col. 118).

[Back to Top]

For the fifth persecution, Foxe drew directly on the Magdeburg Centuries for the following passages:- the fifth persecution by Septimus Severus (p. 67 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 9-10); the martyrdom of Origen and his father - (III, cols 9-10; 150-1; 253-259); for the list of martyrs under Septimus Severus (p. 68 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 10; 251; 305); for Basilides and the miracles of Potomiena - (III, col. 305); for Alexander as bishop of Jerusalem - (III, col. 209); for the persecutions in the time of Septimus Severus - (III, cols 295-6; 211); for Tertullian as an ecclesiastical writer (p. 69 of the 1570 edition - (III, cols 236; 241; 242); for the controversy over Easter in the time of Victor (p. 70 of the 157- edition) - (II, cols 152-58); for the epistles of Zephirus - (III, cols 275-6); for the invasion of Britain - (III, col. 315); for the epistles of Calixtus (p. 72 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 276-77). Foxe clearly used other sources for this account as well, but only further research will confirm more precisely the extent to which he worked outwards from the Magdeburg Centuries to write a more independently based narrative of this section.

[Back to Top]

For the sixth persecution, we have undertaken a similar analysis of the extent of Foxe's dependence on the Magdeburg Centuries. The results are less complete. It is certainly the case that he drew somewhat on that source for the beginning of the sixth persecution under Emperor Maximus (pp. 73-4 of the 1570 edition) - (III, col. 13). He also borrowed to some degree for the description of the rule of Pontianus, bishop of Rome (p. 74 of the 1570 edition) - (III, cols 177; 278); for the story of Natalius he also fairly clearly derived his material from the Centuries - (IIII, cols 287-288); for Emperor Philip the same is true (III, cols 8; 254; 279).

[Back to Top]

We have not continued our analysis beyond this stage at present. It will require a more extensive and detailed examination of the full range of the sources cited by Foxe in his marginalia, and a comparison of them with what was contained in the extant volumes of the Magdeburg Centuries, which had become available to him in between the publication of the 1563 and 1570 editions, to arrive at a proper assessment of Book One.

[Back to Top]

Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe third persecution of the church.
An. 100
THe thirde persecution was vnder the Emperour Traianus, which if ye looke vpon his politicke and ciuil gouernaunce, might seme in comparison of other, a right worthy and commendable Prince. Much familiar with inferiours, and so behauing himselfe towarde his subiectes, as he him selfe would haue the Prince (he said) to him, if he were a subiect. Also he was noted to be

[Back to Top]
a great