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authoritie was abolyshed, and immediatly after succeded the subuersion of monasteries.

And for this purpose this manne seamed to be raysed vp of God, that he myght perfourme and fynishe the reste, & principall part of this acte in subuerting the dennes of slouth and idlenes. Wher if thei had remained, þe Pope culd not be excluded out of England, neither could they be subuerted without the Popes autoritie had bene fyrst abolyshed. For there was in Englande an vncredible nombre of Monasteries, whiche may hereupon well be gathered in this, MarginaliaThe nomber of frier houses in Northfolk. that in the only prouince of Norfolke there were nombred to be aboue twenty houses of begging friers besydes a great nomber of regulars and irregulars and Nonnes. Thē seyng the Realme of Englande is deuided into xxxii. prouinces, as easy accompt maye be made of all the other multitude throughoute Englande. Albeit that their nomber was not so hyghe, but that their ryches and possession were farre greater, vpbrayding euen vnto the kynges them selues and nobles, beggery.

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Their houses also were no lesse sumptuous, whiche for the mooste parte were pulled downe to the grounde. And their reuenuees & substaunce the kyng partly conuerted to hys owne cofers, and partly distributed amongest the nobilitie.

MarginaliaThe defēce of Crōwell in subuertyng the abbeys.But here I must of necessitie aunswere the complaynt of some of our countrie men, for I do here, of many the subuersion of these Abbies to be reprehended as euyll and wycked. The buyldyng saye they, myght haue bene cōuerted vnto scholes and houses of learnyng. The goodes and possessions, might haue bene bestowed to the necessary and godly vse of the poore, and kepyng of hospitalitie. Neyther do I denie that these thynges are well and godly spoken of them, and could willyngly embrace their opinion with my whole harte, if I dyd not consyder and beholde a farre more secrete and profounde meanyng of the deuine prouidence then otheir mennes myndes doo peraduenture perceaue. The whiche counsell, if it were folowed in any free cytie where as the gouernaunce were in the handes of good mē, and that they lyued vnder continuall certayn lawes, nothyng would be presently more profitable, neither yet more holesome for the posteritie. Either els if in a kyngdome there should be continuall succession of good prynces, the reason thereof were worthely to be allowed. But what if it should happen through the mutabilitie of the world, that the kyngdom shuld come into the handes of some wycked prynce of a contrary religiō? But what shal we nede to stay long in this matter, when as by the doynges of Quene Mary, euery man may consider what she should haue done if the monasteries had bene left standing vntyll her supersti-tious daies? How many of thē should not haue bene restored & filled againe with monkes & friers? For if the goodes and possessions of the religious being in the handes of the Dukes & nobilitie, could scarsly withstand the Quenes power and violence, howe coulde the meaner sorte haue retayned or kept them? wherfore it is not to be doubted but that Gods gret prouidence did forsee these thinges before in this man, whereupon as often as he sent out anye men to suppresse any monasterie, he woulde sende them with this charge that they shoulde subuerte their houses euen from the foundation. Which wordes although it may seme vnto many to be very cruelly spoken of hym, yet contrarywyse doo I thus thynke of hym: That I thynke all we are bounde vnto that one man, in that otherwyse we shoulde haue bene myserable, and yet ther is some hope left of þe recouery of religion, the great flockes of monkes beyng banyshed, which els at this daye woulde haue possessed Englande in so great nomber, that ten Cromewels woulde hereafter scarsly suffice to banysh thē againe. Wherfore in my opinion, let the monasteries remayne in state as they are 

Commentary  *  Close

Matt. 15:13.


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Furthermore, as touching the godly vse of the poore, scholes, and stypendes of preachers, (for vnto these three diligent respecte is to be had in euery common wealth) there are other meanes prouided, whiche as they are alyke honest, so are they also muche more sure, so that the auncient godlines do not slake in the nobilitie. And if þe nobilitie in tymes past haue ben so lyberall in bestowing so greate costes and charges vpon thynges wherein there is no godlynes: howe vncomely would it be for the true gospellers to be more nygardly in preferryng true godlines and the study of the gospel? Thus is it sufficiently declared howe greatly Cromwell auailed in subuertinge þe synagoge of the byshop of Rome. Nowe let vs also see howe greatly he trauayled in the settyng vp of Christes churche and congregation.

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After that the byshop of Romes power and autoritie was banyshed out of Englande, the byshoppes of his sect neuer ceased to seake all meanes and occasions, how that they myght either restore their whole head againe whiche hadde receyued that deadly wounde, or at the least to kepe vpryght those thynges which yet remayned besydes the head, wherin although their whole labours were not frustrate, yet had they brought muche more to passe, if that this one man Cromwell (as a mighty and happy wall and defence of the churche) MarginaliaCromwell the fort and defence of the church. had not resisted contynually their enterpryses. For their pryuie conspyracies coulde neuer so much preuayle, neyther theyr craftie policies helpe, but that alwayes his wysdome dyd preuent them, and his autoritie also assisted his wysdome.

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