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140 [1332]

Actes and Monumentes of Marters.

Nowe we will also in few wordes shew somwhat of his troubles and conflictes.

When as Iohn Wickleffe had now by alōg time professed diuinitie in the Vniuersitie of Oxford, and perceauing the trewe doctrine of Christes Gospell to be adulterate and defyled with so many fylthy inuentions of Bishops, sectes of Monkes and darke errors, and that he hafter longe debating and deliberating with hym selfe with many secret sighes, and bewayling in his mind the general ignorāce of the hole world, could no longer suffer or abide the same, but that he at the laste determined with hym selfe to help and to remedy such thinges as he saw to be wide and out of the way. But for so muche as he sawe that this daungerous medlyng coulde not be attempted or sturred, without greate trouble, neyther that these thinges whiche had be so longe tyme with vse and custome roted and grafted in mens mindes, coulde not be sodenly plucked vp or taken away, he thoughte with hym selfe that thys matter shulde be doon by litell and lytell, euen as he that plucked oute the heares oute of the horse tayle as the prouerbe sayth. Wherfore he takyng hys originall at small occasions, he therby opened hym self a way or mayne to greater matters. And fyrste he assayled his aduersaryes in logicall and metaphisicall questions disputyng with them of the first forme and facion of thinges, of thincrease of tyme, and of the intelligible substance of a creature, with other such lyke sophemes of no greate effecte: But yet not withstanding did not alytle helpe and furnyshe hym, whyche minded to dispute of greater matters. So in these matters first begā Kegningham a carmelyte to dispute and argue agaynste Iohn Wickliffe.

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By these originales the way was made vnto greater matters, so that at the length he came to touche the sacramente of the body and bloude of Chryste. In the whyche matter this holy man toke great paynes, protesting (as they sayde) openli in the scholes, that it was his chief and principal purpose and intent, to reuoke and call back the Churche from her idolatry in this poynte. But this byle or sore could not be touched withoute the great greef and paine of the hole world. For first of all the hole glut of Monkes and begging Freers wer set on a rage or madnes, which euen as Hornets with their sharp stinges did assayle this good man on euery syde: fightyng (as is said) for their altars, paunches and bellies. After them the Priestes, and then after them the Bishops toke the matter in hande. At the laste when theyr power also semed not sufficiente towithstande the truth which then was breaking out, they ran holly vnto the lightninges and thōderboltes of the Bishop of Rome, as it had ben vnto the last refuge of most force and strengthe. For thys is theyr extreme succoure and anker-holde in all suche stormes and troubles, when as the outecryes of Monkes and Freers and theyr pharisaicall wickednes can not any more preuayle.

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Againste all these so many and mighty enemyes and aduersaryes only thys valiant Wickliffe happely maintained the cause of the sacramente, prouinge it bothe by the holy scriptures and also by thautoritie of the doctors, but specially suche as were most auncient. MarginaliaThe latter wryters got the churche to be misdoubted.As for the latter wryters, that is to say such as haue written vpon that argumēt vnder the thousand yeres since Chrystes tyme, he vtterly refused: saying that after these yeres Sattan was losed and set at lyberty. And that synce that tyme the lyfe of man hath ben most subiect and in daunger of errours the simple and plaine truthe to apere and consist in the scriptures, wherunto all humaine traditions whatsoeuer they be, muste be referred and specially suche as are set forth and published now of late yeares. This was the cause why he refused the latter wryters of decretalles, leaning only to the scriptures and auncient doctors, moste stoutly affirming oute of thē, MarginaliaThe accidēces not to be in the sacrament wtout the substācethat in the Sacramente of the body whiche is celebrate, with breade the accidēce not to be present without the substāce. That is to say, þt the body of christ is not present without the bread, as the comen sorte of Priestes in those dayes did dreame. As for hys argumentes, what they were: we will shorly at more oportunitie by Gods grace, declare thē in an other booke, leste that with so longe a digression we seeme to differ and put of the reader But herein the truthe (as the Poete speaketh very truly) had gotten Iohn Wiccleffe great displeasure and hatred at many mens handes: and specially of the Monkes & rychest sort of priestes. MarginaliaKing Edward a fauourer of Wickliffe.How be it so lōg as king Edward liued, he was well inoughe defended by him against all theire woluish violence and cruelty. MarginaliaWickliffe commaunded to kepe silence.Notwithstanding in the laste yeare of his rainge Iohn Wickliffe was taken by the bishop of Canterbury, at thinstigation of the Pope, and put to silence in the presence of the Duke of Lancaster, and the Lord Henry Piercy: yet afterward when he had gotten the fauour of certayne noble men he keyte not longe silence. MarginaliaAn. 1377.At the last wen the kinge was by deathe taken away, and that Richard his nephewe succeded in the kingdome about the yeare of our Lorde. MCCCLXXvii. Pope gregory neuer ceassed to solicite and moue his mind (which otherwise was noble and gentle) by hys letters Bishopes, and Bulles, to persecute Wickeleffe and his adherentes, The copie of the Popes letter whiche he wrote vnto the kynge here foloweth.

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