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1156 [1155]

K. Henry. 8. The Epistle of Volusianus for Priestes mariage.

If thou take a wife thou sinnest not, and if the virgine mary, she sinneth not.

And that he spake not this by way of commaunding, but of sufferance and compassion, he sheweth plainly in these wordes folowyng: But I spare you: that is to say, I beare with your infirmity: and therfore he leaueth it in the free power and will of euery man, to chuse what he best lyketh. Neither doth he inforce any man (he saith) violently, nor charge them with any straight commaundement and therfore addeth these woordes followyng: And this I speake for your owne commoditie, not to tangle you as in a snare 

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1 Cor. &: 35

, but for that it is good and honest for you, that you may serue the Lord without separation.

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Thsi he saith to them who before he exorted to continencie, and whome he woulde not to be let or troubled by matrimonial coniunction. But to other he sayth thus: Ifany man thinke that it is vncomely for his virgin to remayne ouer long vnmaried, and if nede do require, let him do what he thinketh good, he sinneth not: let them mary: And again both be good, he sayth, but yet the one be better he cōcludeth saying. Therfore he that ioyneth in Matrimony, his virgin doth wel, but he that doth not doth better. Which agreeth wel wt the text aboue, speaking of both kynds, as well þe man as the womā, where he saith: if thou take a wife thou sinnest not, and if the virgin take a husband she sinneth not.

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If therfore it be no sinne for the man to take a wife, nor for the virgin to take a husband, after the apostles mynde, neither doth diminish their felicitie, but rather encrease it, & for as much as both do well, & so both be blessed: we then which take wyues for our infirmitie, what do we sinne in hauyng them? Or if the Apostle do suffer & permit to euery man for the auoyding of fornication to haue his wife, we thē which come of the same lumpe or masse and taking our sinfull flesh of the sinfull flesh of Adam, are not able otherwyse to conteyne, why are we not permitted for the same cause & by the same permissiō, to haue likewyse our wyues, but are enforced to forsake them beyng maried?

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MarginaliaMaryage is permitted to the infirmitie of all men: Priests are infirme as other men be. Ergo, mariage ought to be permitted to Priestes also. Wherfore either do you permit vs, folowing the apostle, to haue our wyues, or els teach vs that we come not of the same masse, either els shew vs that the same sufferaunce & permission is not graunted to vs by the Apostle which is graunted to other. Which cause peraduenture you wil thus pretend: that this sufferance was graunted of the Apostle, not to the clergy or to any of our order, but onely to lay men. Which can not well be defended, neither by the wordes of the Apostle, nor by any circumstance of his Epistle, for as much as there is no certayne distinction or denomination either of persons or degrees, or professions there mencioned, neyther doth he make any difference either in names or offices of mē, either of thē which wrote vnto him, either of those persons of whō he wrote, or els of those to whō he aunswereth, but only in general to þe whole church of þe Corinthiās, as he himselfe in the beginnyng of his Epistle purporteth in these words. 

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1 Cor. 1: 1-2.

Paul called the apostle of Iesus Christ, by the wil of God & Sosthenes his brother to the Church which is at Corinthe, such as be sanctified in Christ Iesus, called saints, with al that inuocate the name of the lord. &c. Marginalia1. Cor. 1. [And after a few other wordes, which here for breuities sake we omit, as not beyng greatly to the purpose pertinēt: thus he inferreth 
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Foxe is omitting pasages here which say that clerics should be celibate but that this ideal is impossible to maintain because of man's sinful nature (Epistolae duae D. Volusiani…[London, 1569], STC 24872, pp. 10-11).

These premisses being thē wel cōsidered, we besech you to haue regarde & compassion of our infirmitie, most humbly desiring you, not to oppresse vs with this violence. MarginaliaForced continēcie, is no vertue. For as we haue sufficiently before proued, no mā ought to be constrayned vnto continency agaynst his wyll, neyther is this kynd of vertue commaunded of god to any man, of necessitie but only of voluntary deuotion to be offered to the Lord, as he hymselfe speaketh in the Gospell 
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Matt. 19: 11.

: All men can not receiue this saying, but to whom it is geuen. Wherunto he gently exhorteth them that can take it, saying: He that is able to receiue this, let him receiue it. &c. MarginaliaMath. 19.

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Wherfore for distinctions sake Moyses is not hymselfe commaunded to clothe Aaron and hys sonnes with breches as in these wordes goyng before 

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The verses below are from Exodus 29: 4-9.

: Thou shalt clothe wyth these Aaron thy brother, and his sonnes with hym. &c. but he thus sayth: Thou shalt make linnen breches that they themselues may couer the filth of their flesh. That they thē selues (sayeth he) may couer the filth of theyr flesh. Thou (saith he) shalt make the breches for the bishop & his sons: thou shalt teach the rule of chastity: thou shalt exhort thē to absteyne from the cōpany of their wyues, which shal do the priestes office: Yet laying vpon none violently the sayd yoke of continency, but whosoeuer shall be priestes and shall serue the aulter, shall of their owne accorde surcesse from the vse of matrimony: which when they shal do, & of theyr own voluntary consent shal take vpon them the purpose of cōtinency to serue the alter, then shal the grace of God be present, which as it did apparell those other priestes aforesayd with attire for them conuenient: so shall it instruct these aboundauntly how they ought to lyue and to teache. And thys sence well agreeth with the texte that followeth, saying:

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MarginaliaExod. 29. And when thou shalt wash the father and his sonnes with water, thou shalt take the garments, that is, the strait cote, the tunicle and the brest lappe, and put them vpon Aaron & gird them to him with a brodered girdle of the Ephod. Then thou shalt put the miter vpon hys head, and shalt put the holy crowne vppon the miter, and thus shall he be consecrated. Also thou shalt bryng his sonnes and put coates vpon them, and shalt girde them with girdles, both Aaron & his sonnes, and shalt put bonnettes on them, and the Priestes office shall be theirs for a perpetuall law.

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MarginaliaThe place o Moyses Exod 29. applyed. Thus then you see a commaundement of receiuing the lynen breches of Moyses. Whereby it playnely appeareth, that Aaron and hys sonnes, first did apparell themselues wyth this kynd of apparell, and so entred in to be washed, inducted, annointed and consecrated by þe handes of Moyses.

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By the which we are plainly taught, that the yoke of continēcy is not to be inforced vpō any mā against his will, but is to be receiued of god with a prompt & a deuoute will. Which thing also Dionysius Areopagita that godly wise man, the Disciple of S. Paule and ordeyned of him B. of Athenes, in a certayne Epistle of his sent to Pymtus B. of the Gnasians, in which he toucheth many things of mariage and chastitie (as is in the Ecclesiasticall history rehearsed) doth admonish the said Pymtus, and prayeth him that he will lay no greuous burthens vpon the neckes of þe Disciples, neither inferre any necessitie of compelled chastitie vpon the brethren, wherby the infirmity of some of them might be in daunger. And Pymtus aunswering to Dionysius againe, sheweth himself willing to embrace the sentēce of hys holesome counsaile. MarginaliaEx Histor. Tripartita. The same also did Paphnutius, þt diuine & chast Bishop, who in the Coūcell of Nice (as þe Tripertite hystory doth shew vs) when the fathers, which there were present wēt about to restraine priests frō mariage: he rising vp amōgest them and moued with the zeale of mās infirmitie, desired them that they would not so do, but rather to leaue it vnto the voluntary discretiō of euery mā, least in so doyng they might peraduenture geue occasion of adultery and fornication. For those holy men did then vse this cautele and moderation in Religion, that when they treated any thing concernyng instruction and edification of the people, and would haue them styrred vp to a better lyfe by godly instructions, MarginaliaThe spirite of lenitie requyred in Byshops. they would rather perswade thinges to be obserued with patience and lenitie, then commaunde with rigour and authoritie: neither would they compel any man to their obedience against his will.

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Whose examples you also folowyng, which succeede in their rowme and name, do you not lay vpō vs infirme persons, such importable burthens, lest you be partakers with the Phariseys and lawyers of the Lords curse: Who saith 

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Luke 11: 46.

: Woe to you lawyers which lay burthens vpon men, which they can not beare, and you your selues touch not the burdens with one finger. MarginaliaLuke. 11. And least 
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This is an allusion to Exodus 3: 7.

the cry of the children of Israell ascend vp to the Lord for the cruell dealing of them which are ouerseers of the workes: Marginalia Exod. 3.
Read the Canons of the Apostles. Can. 22.
Neither do you make such Eunuches which are so borne from their mothers wombe, or such Eunuches which are violētly made by mē, but 
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Matt. 19: 12.

rather those Eunuches which of their owne accord haue gelded themselues for the kyngdome of heauen. MarginaliaMath. 19. Neyther do you bryng vpō the holy order of Gods ministers for vs onely, such an offence & sclaūder, that for our wicked life you make the ministry to be despised of others, whyle you will not suffer them either to heare vs, or to receiue the sacramentes of vs, infamyng thereby our leude lyfe, & causing þe sauour of vs to stinke before Pharao & his seruantes. MarginaliaExod. 5. Wherin it semeth to vs þt you deale not soundly & vprightly, if a mā may so say (I pray you take it in good worth þt I speak) & also to be against þe authority of gods word, & þe canonical cōstitutiōs which you do: where as þe lord saith by moses þe law geuer 
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Lev. 18: 7.

: the shame of thy mother thou shalt not disclose, & her ignominy thou shalt not discouer. MarginaliaLeuit. 18. Our mother is þe church: þe sonnes of this mother be al þe faithful, which name yet most fitly is approbriate vnto priests: for they do beget þe faithful, both by þe word of preaching & sacramēt of baptism. Was not he to be coūted a right mother: who said 
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Gal. 4: 19.

: My litle childrē of whō I trauell in birth again? MarginaliaGal. 4. The shame & ignominy of our mother, what is it but þe reproueable cōuersatiō of þe life of priests? which shame & ignominy is thē reueled, when the life of priests is publikely infamed. Which thing you do, þt discouer & notifie vnto mē our fragilitie, lying before as hid & couered, because before it was not known and for the same you bring the holy ministery & mysteries of god into contempt & hatred: As though the polluted life of other did any thing pertayne therto to pollute the same, and as though our vncleannes did any thing blemish them, or diminish the purenes therof, where as the Psalmist sayeth 
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Psalm 19: 9.

: The law of the Lord is pure and immaculate: MarginaliaPsal. 18. Or as thoughe they were any whitte polluted by our infection, which do receyue the sayd mysteries either by our mouth,

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