sort hearyng and reading in their writinges no other Church mentioned or magnified but onely that Church which here florished in this world in riches and iollitye, were drawne also to the same persuasion, to thinke no other Church to haue stand in all the earth, but onely the Church of Rome.
In the number of this sort of writers, besides our Monkes of England (for euery Monastery almost had hys Chronicler) I might also recite both Italian, and other countrey authors, as Platina, Sabellicus, Nauclerus, Martinus, Antoninus, Vincentius, Onuphrius, Laziardus, Georgius Lilius, Pollid. Virgilius, with many more, who takyng vpon them to entermeddle with matters of the Church, although in parte they expres some truth in matters concernyng the Byshops and sea of Rome: yet in suppressing an other part, they play with vs, as Ananias and Saphira did with their money, or as Apelles did in Pliny, who painting the one halfe of Venus commyng out of the Sea, left the other halfe vnperfect. So these writers while they shewe vs one halfe of the Byshop of Rome, the other halfe of hym they leaue vnperfect, and vtterly vntold. For as they paint hym out on the one part glistering in wealth and glory, in shewing what succession the Popes had from the chaire of S. Peter, when they first began, and how long they sate, what Churches and what famous buildings they erected, howe farre their possessions reached, what lawes they made, what councels they called, what honour they receaued of Kinges and Emperours, what Princes and countreys they brought vnder their authority, with other like stratagemes, of great pompe and royaltie: so on the other side what vices these Popes brought with thē to their seate, what abominations they practized, what superstition they maintayned, what Idolatrie they procured, what wicked doctrine they defended contrary to the expresse word of God, to what heresies they fell, into what diuision of sectes they cut the vnitie of Christian Religion, how some practized by Symonie, some by Necromancy, and sorcery, some by poysoning, some indentyng with the deuill to come by their Papacy, what hypocrisie was in their liues, what corruption in their doctrine, what warres they raysed, what bloudshed they caused, what trachery they trauersed agaynst their Lordes and Emperours, imprisoning some, betraying some to the Templaries and Saracens, in bringing other vnder their feete, also in beheddyng some, as they did with Fredericus & Conradinus, the heyres and ofspring of the house of Fredericus Barbarossa. an. 1269: furthermore howe mightely almighty God hath stand agaynst them, how their warres neuer prospered agaynst the Turke, how the iudgemētes of the godly learned from time to tyme haue euer repugned against their errours &c. of these and a thousand other mo, not one word hath ben touched, but all kept as vnder Benedicite in Auricular confession.[Back to Top]
This partiall dealyng and corrupt handlyng of histories, when I considered, I thought with my selfe nothing more lackyng in the Church, then a full and a complet history, which beyng faythfully collected out of all our Monasticall writers & written Monumentes, should containe neyther euery vayne written fable for that would be to much, nor yet leaue out any thyng necessary, for that would be to litle: but with a moderate discretion taking the best of euery one, should both ease the labour of the reader frō turning ouer such a nūber of writers: and also shoulde open the playne truth of tymes lying long hyd in obscure darknes of antiquitie. Whereby all studious readers, beholding as in a glasse the state, course, and alteration of Religion, decay of doctrine, and the controuersies of the Church, might discerne the better betwene antiquitie and noueltie. For if the thynges which be first (after the rule of Tertullian) are to be preferred before those that be latter, then is the reading of histories much necessary in the Church, to know what went before, and what followed after. MarginaliaPrimum quoq; verissimum est Tertul.And therfore not without cause Historia, in old authors is called, the witnesse of tymes, the light of veritie, the lyfe of memory, teacher of lyfe and shewer of antiquitie. &c. Without the knowledge whereof mans life is blind, and soone may fall into any kinde of errour, as by manifest experience we haue to see, in these desolate latter times of the Church, whē as the Byshops of Rome vnder colour of antiquitie haue turned truth into heresie and brought such new found deuises of straunge doctrine and Religion as in the former age of the Church were neuer heard of before, and al through ignoraunce of tymes, and for lacke of true history.[Back to Top]
For to say the truth, if tymes had ben well searched, or if they which wrote histories had without partiallitie gone vpright betwen God, and Baal, haltyng on neyther side, it myght well haue bene found the most part of all this Catholicke corruptiō intruded into the Church by the Byshops of Rome, as Trāsubstantiation, leuation, and adoration of the Sacrament, auriculer confession, forced vowes of Priestes not to marry, veneration of Images, priuate and satisfactory Masses, the order of Gregories Masse now vsed, the vsurped authoritie and Summa potestas of the sea of Rome, with all the route of their ceremonies and wiedes of superstition ouergrowing now the church, al these (I say) to be new nothings lately coyned in the minte of Rome, without any stampe of antiquitie, as by readyng of this present history shall sufficiently, I trust, appeare. Which history therefore I haue here taken in hand, that as other storywriters heretofore haue employed their trauaile to magnifie the Church of Rome: MarginaliaImage of both Churches.so in this history might appeare to all Christen readers the Image of both Churches, aswell of the one as of the other: especially of the poore oppressed and persecuted Church of Christ. Which persecuted Church though it hath ben of long season trodden vnder foote by enemies, neglected in the world, nor regarded in histories, & almost scarce visible or knowne to worldly eyes, yet hath it bene the true Church onely of God, wherin he hath mightely wrought hetherto in preseruing the same in all extreme distresses, cōtinually stirring vp from time to time faythfull Ministers, by whome alwayes hath ben kept some sparkes of his true doctrine and Religion.[Back to Top]
Now for somuch as the true Church of God goeth not lightly alone, but is accompanied with some other Church or Chappell of the deuill to deface and maligne the same, necessary it is therfore, the difference betwne them to be sene, and the descent of the right Church to be described from the Apostles tyme. MarginaliaThe descent of Christes Church from the Apostles tyme described.Which hetherto in most part of histories hath ben lacking, partly for feare, that men durst not: partly for ignoraunce that men could not discerne rightly betwene the one and the other. Who beholding the Church of Rome to be so visible and glorious in the eyes of the world, so shyning in outward beauty, to beare such a port, to cary such a trayne and multitude, and to stand in such hye authoritie, supposed the same to be onely the right Catholicke mother. The other because it was not so visibly knowne in the worlde, they thought therefore it could not be the true Church of Christ. Wherein they were farre deceaued. For although the right Church of God be not so inuisible in the world, that none can see it: yet neyther is it so visible agayne that euery worldly eye may perceaue it. MarginaliaHow the true Church of Christ is visible, and not visible.For like as is the nature of truth: so is the proper condition of the true Churche, that commonly none seeth it, but such onely, as be the members and partakers thereof. And therefore they which require that Gods holy Church should be euident and visible to the whole world seeme to define the great Sinagoge of the world, rather then the true spirituall Church of God.[Back to Top]
In Christes time who would haue thought, but the congregation and Councels of the Pharisies had bene the right Church: and yet had Christ an other Church in earth besides that, which albeit, it was not so mani-