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53 [53]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.
¶ The first booke, conteyning the. 300. yeares next after Christ. 
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The first 300 years of the Church

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.

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Mark Greengrass and Matthew Phillpott
University of Sheffield

T Hese thynges before premised, hauyng thus hetherto prepared þe way vnto our story, let vs now (by the grace and speede of Christ our Lorde) enter into the matter: that as we haue heretofore set forth in a general description the whole state as wel of the primatiue, as of the latter tymes of this Church of Rome: so now consequently to discourse in particular sorte the Actes and doynges of euery age, by it selfe, in such order as is afore prefixed.

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Marginalia1. First to declare of the sufferyng tyme of the Churche, which conteineth about the tyme of. 300. yeares after Christ.

Marginalia2. Secondly, the florishyng & growyng tyme of the same: conteinyng other. 300. yeares.

Marginalia3. Thirdly, the declinyng tyme of the Church, and of true Religion, other. 300. yeares.

Marginalia4. Fourthly, of the time of Antichrist, reignyng & ragyng in the Church since the loosing out of Sathan.

Marginalia5. Lastly, of the reformyng tyme of Christes Churche in these latter. 300. yeares.

In the tractation of all whiche thinges our chief purpose and endeuour shalbe (so neare as the Lord will geue vs grace) not so much to intermedle with outward affayres of Princes, or matters ciuile, (except sometyme for example of life) as specially mindyng (by the helpe of the Lorde) to prosecute such thynges, which to the Ecclesiasticall state of the Church are apperteinyng: as first to entreate of the stablishyng of Christian fayth, then of the persecutions of tyrauntes, the constancie and pacience of Gods Saintes, the first conuersion of Christē Realmes to the fayth of Christ, namely of this Realme of England and Scotland: first begynnyng with kyng Lucius, and so forward followyng the order of our English kinges here in this land, to declare the mainteinaunce of true doctrine, the false practise of Prelates, the creepyng in of superstition, and hypocrisie, the manifold assaultes, warres and tumultes of the princes of this world, agaynst the people of God. Wherein may appeare the wonderfull operation of Christes mighty hand, euer workyng in his Church, and neuer ceasing to defend the same agaynst his enemyes, accordyng to the veritie of his owne word, promising to be with his Churche while the world shall stand, so as by the proces of this storie may well be proued and be testified in the sequell therof.

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MarginaliaTwo thynges in this hystory [illegible text] to be noted. In the tractatioū of all which things. ij. speciall pointes I chiefly commend to the reader, as most requisite and necessary for euery Christen man to obserue and note for his owne experience and profite, as first the disposition and nature of this world: secondly the nature and condition of the kyngdome of Christ: the vanitie of the one, and stablishment of the other: The vnprosperous and vnquiet state of the one, ruled by mans violence & wisedome: And the happy successe of the other euer ruled by Gods blessyng & prouidence. The wrath and reuengyng hand of God in the one, and his mercy vpon the other. MarginaliaThe world. The world I call all such as be without or agaynst Christ, either by ignoraunce not knowyng him, or by heathenish life not followyng him, or by violence resistyng him. On the other side, MarginaliaThe kyngdome of Christ in this world. the kyngdome of Christ in this world I take to be all them which belong to the fayth of Christ, and here take his part in this world agaynst the world. The nūber of whom although it be much smaller then the other, and alwayes lightly is hated & molested of the world, yet it is the number, which the Lord peculiarly doth blesse and prosper, and euer will. MarginaliaThe visible Church. And thys nuūber of Christes subiectes is it, whiche we call the visible Church here in earth. MarginaliaThe Church of Christ deuided in two sortes of people. Whiche visible Church hauyng in it selfe a difference of. ij. sortes of people, so is it to be deuided in. ij. parts, of whiche the one standeth of such as be of outward profession onely, the other which by election inwardly are ioyned to Christ: the first in word and lyppes seemeth to honour Christ and are in the visible Church onely, but not in the Church inuisible, and partaketh the outward Sacramētes of Christ, but not the inward blessing of Christ: The other are both in the visible and also in the inuisible Church of Christ, which not in wordes onely and outward profes-sion, but also in hart do truely serue & honour Christ, partakyng not onely the Sacraments, but also the heauēly blessinges and grace of Christ.

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And many tymes it happeneth, that as betwene the world, and the kyngdome of Christ there is a continuall repugnaunce: so betwene these two partes of this visible Church aforesayd, oft tymes groweth great variaunce and mortal persecutiō, in somuch that sometime the true church of Christ hath no greater enemyes, than of their owne profession and company, as happened not onely in the time of Christ, and his Apostles, but also from time to tyme almost cōtinually. Euseb. Lib. 8. cap. 1. MarginaliaEuseb. Lib. 8. cap. 1. But especially in these latter dayes of the Church vnder the persecutiō of Antichrist and his retinue, as by the readyng of this volume more manifestly hereafter may appeare.

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At the first preachyng of Christ, and commyng of the Gospell: who should rather haue knowen & receaued him, then the Phariseis and Scribes of that people, whiche had his lawe? And yet who persecuted and reiected him more, then they them selues? What followed? MarginaliaGods punishment for refusing the Gospell. They in refusing Christ to be theyr kyng, and chosing rather to be subiect vnto Cæsar, were by the sayd their owne Cæsar 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 gentely offered.

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The like example of Gods wrathfull punyshmēt is to be noted no lesse in the Romaines also them selues. MarginaliaTiberius Cæsar moueth the Senate to haue Christ receiued. For when Tiberius Cæsar hauyng receaued by letters from Pontius Pilate, of the doynges of Christ of his miracles, Resurrection, and Ascension into heauen, and how he was receaued as God of many, was himselfe also moued with belief of the same, and did conferre thereof with the whole Senate of Rome, to haue Christ adored as God: MarginaliaChrist refused of the Senate of Rome. but they not agreeyng therunto, refused him, MarginaliaThe vayne cause why the Senate of Rome refused Christ. because that contrary to the law of the Romaines, he was consecrated, (sayd they) for God, before the Senate of Rome had so decreed & approued hym. &c. Tertul. Apol. cap. 5. MarginaliaTertul. Apost. cap. 5.
Euseb. Lib. 2. cap. 2.
Thus the vayne Senate followyng rather the lawe of man, then of God, and which were contented with the Emperour to reigne ouer them, were not contented with the meeke kyng of glory the sonne of God to be their kyng. And therfore after much like sort to the Iewes were scourged and intrapped for their vniust refusyng, by the same way which they them selues dyd preferre. MarginaliaThe Senate and Citie of Rome plagued for refusyng of Christ. For as they preferred the Emperour, and reiected Christ: so the iust permission of God, did styrre vp their own Emperours agaynst them in such sorte, that both the Senatours them selues were almost all deuoured, and the whole Citie most horribly afflicted the space almost of. 300. yeares together. For first the same Tiberius, whiche for a great part of hys reigne, was a moderate and a tollerable Prince, afterward was to them a sharpe and heauy tyraunt, who neither fauoured his owne mother, nor spared his own neuewes, nor the Princes of the Citie, such as were his owne counsellours, of whom to the number of. xx. he left not past two or three aliue, and so cruell was he to the Citie, that as the storye recordeth: Nullus a pœna hominum cessabat dies, ne religiosus quidem ac sacer. Suet. MarginaliaEx Suet. in vita Tiberij. reporteth him to be so sterne of nature and tyrannicall, that in tyme of hys reigne, very many were accused and condemned with their wiues and children. Maydes also first defloured, then put to death. In one day he recordeth. xx. persons to be drawen to the place of execution. By whom also, through the iust punishment of God, Pilate vnder whom Christ was crucified, was apprehended, and accused at Rome, deposed, then banished to the towne of Lyonce, and at length did slay hym self. Neither did Herode and Cayphas lōg escape, of whō more foloweth hereafter. Agrippa also by him was cast in prison, albeit afterward he was restored. MarginaliaChrist suffereth and riseth agayne. In the reigne of this Tiberi9 the Lord Iesus the sonne of God, in the. xxxiiij. yeare of his age, which was the. xvij. of this Emperour, by the malice of the Iewes, suffered his blessed passion for the conquering of sinne, death, and Sathan the prince of this world, & rose agayne the third day. MarginaliaAn. 34. After whose blessed passion and resurrection, this foresayd Tiberius Nero (otherwise called) Biberius Mero, lyued. vi. yeares, duryng which tyme no persecution was yet styrring in Rome against the Christians, through the cōmaundement of the Emperour.

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MarginaliaSaint Paul conuerted.
An. 35.

In the reigne also of this Emperour, and yeare which was the next after the passion of our Sauiour, or somewhat more S. Paule was cōuerted to the fayth. MarginaliaAn. 39.
Cæsar Caligula
After the death of Tiberius: when he had reigned. 23. yeare, succeded C. Cæsar Caligula, Claudius Nero, and Domitius Nero: which. 3. were likewise such scourges to the Senate and people of Rome, that the first not onely tooke other mens wiues violently from them, but also defloured three of his own sisters,

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and