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431 [431]

And thorow their continual and incessant instance and labour, partlye with giftes and rewardes, and with flatteringe woordes, they bringe to passe, that manye virgines and matrones, which otherwise would be honest, partly by their secreate confessyons (as they call them) as it hath bene founde by experience, by their continuall sute haue bene ouercome and moued to synne and wickednes. And it happeneth oftentimes, that they doo detaine and keepe awaye the Wiues, and Daughters from their husbands and fathers, threatnyng them with fire and sweard that do require thē againe. Thus thorow their raging luste, they heape and gather together innumerable mischeues and offences. It is to be meruailed at, how licenciouslye withoute punishment they daily offende in robberies, murther, accusinge of innocentes, burning, rapine, theft, and coūterfaitinge of false coines, besyde a thousande other kinde of mischeues, cōtrary and against all lawes both of God and man, not without great offence of others. Trusting only vppon the fredom and liberty of synne, which they vsurpe vnto them selues by the priueledge of their canons. For when as they once perceiue that it is lawful for them to do what they lust without punishment, then they doo not onlye contempn the ciuil magistrates, but also their bishops and superiors, whatsoeuer they ether commaund or forbid them to do.

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And moreouer to the intent they may be the more and better maintained in their mischiefe and wickednes, contrarye to all reason and equity, it is partly forbidden the Archbyshops and bishoppes, that they may not condempne these malefactors openly, except they be fyrste disgraded, which must be don with such sumptuousnesse and pompe, that therby it hapneth very seldome, that those annoynted naughtye packes, receiue condigne punishment: besides that, the bishops are so bound by their Chapters, þt they dare not punish any person which hathe taken orders by the canonicall lawes, with none so light or smal punishment, which thing wholy tendeth to this poynte, that thorow this inequality betwene the laity and the cleargy, great hatred, discord, and dissention is sprong and risen. It is also not a litle to be feared, that if the cleargy whiche are the cause of this greuance and other mischiefs, which daily they do procead to perpetrate, haue not like lawes, equall iudges, and like punishmente, their offensiue life wil moue and stir vp some great tumults and sedition amonges the common people, not only against the clergy them selues, but also against the superiors and magistrates, for that they leaue so notorious offences vnpunished.

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Wherfore necessity and iustice doth require that the said presupposed priueledges of thecleargy should be abrogate and taken awaye, and in their place that it be prouided, ordained and decreed, that the cleargy, of what order or degree so euer they be, shall haue like lawes, like iudgement and punishment, as the laitye haue. So that they shall pretende no prerogatiue or fredome in like offence, more then the lay man. But that euery one of the cleargy offending vnder the iudge where the offence is committed, shall be punished for his fact according to the measure and quality of his offēce. In like māner, as other malefactors are, with the punishmente appoynted by the common lawes of the Empire: which thinge, wythoute doubte will please the true ministers of the churche, such as are honest and learned, that they will not thincke their power and authority, therby in anye case deminished. By thys meanes it shall be brought to passe, that such as are of the cleargy only by name, and other wise, naughty wicked men, throughe the obedience due vnto their superiors, shalbe compelled to liue honestly and well. And all sedition and priuy hatred betwene them and the laity shall be put away, and finally there by the laity shall be the more moued and stirred to loue and reuerence suche of the cleargye as be of a sound life.

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¶ Of the burthern and greuaunce of excommunication.

ITem at Rome, and in other places, many christians are excommunicate by the Archbishops, Bishops, or by their Ecclesiasticall iudges for prophane causes, for the desyre and couetousnesse of mony and filthye lucre. The consciences of men which are weake in faith, there by are burthened and brought vnto desperation, and finally for mony and luker, a matter of no importance is made to tend to the destruction both of body and soule, contrarye bothe to the law of God and man. For so much as no man ought to be excommunicate but only for heresy, or to be counted as a man seperate from the christian catholicke churche, as the scriptures witnes. Therfore the princes, nobles, states, and laitye of the sacred Empire, desire and require the popes holinesse, that as a faithfull christian and louing father, he wil abolish the said burthen of excommunication at the sea of Rome, and also take it away from all other Archbishops and Ecclesiastical iudges: and finally to decree that no man shall here after be excommunicate, but onlye for a manifest conuicte crime of heresye. For it is to wycked a thing that faithful christians for anye offence of temporal goodes or gaine, or for any other worldly matter, but only for obstinacye of he-

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