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161 [138]

Huldericke his Epistle to Pope Nicholas, prouing the mariage of Priestes to be lawfull.

ye ought to stirre vp to the continency of mariage. For is not this to be counted a violence and tiranny to the iudgement of all wise men: when a man is compelled by your decrees to doe that which is against the institution of the Gospell, and the proceeding of the holy Ghost? MarginaliaPriestes Mariage in the olde law permitted, in the new law not forbidden. Seyng then there be so many holy examples both of the olde and new Testament, teachyng vs (as you know) due information: I desire your patience not to thinke it greuous for me to bryng a few here out of many.

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First in the olde law, the Lord permitteth mariage vnto the Priestes, which afterward in the new law, we doe not read to bee restrayned, but in the Gospel thus he sayth: There bee some Eunuches which haue gelded themselues for the kingdome of heauen, but all men do not take this word, he that can take it, let him take it. Wherfore the Apostle sayth, concerning virgins I haue no commaundement of the Lord, but onely I geue counsell. Which counsaile also all men do not take, as in the commaundement of the Lord before, but many there be, false dissemblers and flatterers, goyng about to please men and not God, whome we see vnder a false pretence of continencie, to fall into horrible wickednesse: MarginaliaThe inconuenience of single life. Some to lye with their fathers wiues, some to bee Sodomites, and not to abhorre to play the beastes with bruite beastes. And therfore, least through the infection of this wicked pestilēce, the state of the Church should too much go to ruine: therfore he sayd, because of fornication, let euery man haue his owne wyfe. Touching which saying, our false hypocrites falsly do lye, & faine: as though onely it pertayned to the laitie, and not to them. And yet they themselues seming to be set in the most holy order, are not afrayd to abuse other mens wiues, and as we see with (weeping eyes) all they do outrage in the foresayd wickednes.

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These men haue not rightly vnderstanded the Scriptures, whose brestes while they sucke so hard (in stead of milke) they suck out bloud. For the saying of the Apostle: let euery man haue his own wife: MarginaliaThe saying of the Apostle, let euery one haue hys own wife. doth except none in very deede, but him onely which hath the gifte of continency, prefixing with himselfe to keepe and to continue hys virgine in the Lord. Wherfore (O reuerend father) it shalbe your part to cause & ouersee, that whosoeuer, either with hand or mouth, hath made a vowe of continencie, and afterward would forsake, either should be compelled to keepe his vowe, or els by lawfull authoritie should be deposed from his order.

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And to bring this to passe, ye shall not onely haue me, but also all other of my order, to be helpers vnto you. But that you may vnderstand, that such which know not what a vowe doth meane, are not to be violently compelled thereunto: heare what the Apostle sayth vnto Timothie. A Bishop (sayth he) must be irreprehensible, the husband of one wife. Which sentence, least ye should turne and apply onely to the Church, marke what he inferreth after: he that knoweth not (sayth he) to rule his owne householde and familie, how should he rule the Church of God? And likewise the Deacons (sayth he) let them be the husbandes of one wyfe, which haue knowledge to gouerne their owne house and children. And this wyfe, how she is woont to be blest of the Priest, you vnderstand sufficiently: I suppose, by the decrees of holy Siluester the Pope.

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To these and such other holy sentences of the Scripture, agreeth also, he that is the writer of the rule of the Clergy, writing after this maner. A Clarke must be chaste and continent, or els let him be coupled in the bandes of Matrimony, hauing one wyfe. MarginaliaThis Decree is contrary to the Bishops and Prelates in Queene Maryes tyme. Wherby it is to be gathered, that the Bishop and Deacon, are noted infamous and reprehensible, if they be deuided in mo women then one: otherwise, if they do forsake one vnder the pretence of Religion, both they together, as well the Bishop as the Deacon bee here condemned by the Canonicall sentence, which sayth: Let no Bishop or Priest forsake his owne wife, vnder the colour and pretence of Religion. If he doe forsake her, let hym bee excommunicate. And if he so continue, let hym bee disgraded. Saint Augustine also, a man of discrete holynesse, sayth in these wordes: There is no offence so great or grieuous, but it is to auoyd a greater euill.

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Furthermore, we read in the second booke of the Tripartite history: That when the Councell of Nice, goyng about to establish the same decree, would enact that Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, after their consecration, either should abstaine vtterly from their own wiues, or els should be deposed. Then Paphnutius (one of those holy Martyrs, whom the Emperor Maximus had put out the right eie, & hockt their left legs) rising vp amongst thē, withstood their purposed decreement: confessing Mariage to be honourable, and calling the bed of matrimony to be chastitie, and so perswaded the Councell from making that law, declaring thereby what occasion might come to themselues & their wiues of fornication. And thus much did Paphnutius (being vnmaried himself) declare vnto thē. And the whole Councell commending his sentence, gaue place thereto, & left the matter freely without cōpulsion, to the will of euery man, to do therein as he thought.

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Notwithstanding there be some, which take S. Gregory for their defence in this matter, whose temeritie I laugh at, & ignorance I lament, for they know not, being ignorauntly deceiued, how daungerously the decree of this heresie was (being made ofS. Gregory) who afterward well reuoked the same, with condign fruit of repentaunce.

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MarginaliaMore then 6000 heads of infantes found in the Popes mote thorough the wicked decree of the single lyfe of priestes. For vpon a certaine day as he sent vnto his fishpond to haue fish, and did see more then sixe thousand infants heades brought vnto him, which were taken out of the same pond or mote: did greatly repent in himselfe the decree made before, touchyng the single lyfe of Priests, which he confessed to be the cause of that so lamentable a murther. And so purging the same with condigne fruite of repentaunce, altered agayne the things which he had decreed before, commending that counsaile of the Apostle, which sayth: It is better to marry then to burne. Adding moreouer of himself thereunto, and saying: It is better to marry, then to giue occasion of death. MarginaliaLet Priestes note well the saying of Gregory.

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Peraduenture if these men had read with me this, which so happened: I thinke they would not be so rash in their doing and iudging, fearyng at least the Lordes commaundement: Doe not iudge, that ye be not iudged. And S Paule sayth: Who art thou that iudgest an other mans seruant? Either he standeth or falleth to his owne maister, but he shall stand, for the Lord is mighty and able to make him stand. Therfore let your holynes cease to compell and enforce those, whom onely ye ought to admonish: least through your owne priuate commaundement (which God forbid) you be found contrary, as well to the olde Testament, as to the new. For as S. Augustine sayth to Donatus: MarginaliaAugust ad Donatum. this is onely that we doe feare in your iustice, lest (not for the consideration of christian lenitie, but for the grieuousnes and greatnesse of transgressions committed) you be thought to vse violence in executyng punishment of that which onely we doe desire you (by Christ) not to do. For transgressions are so to be punished, that the lyfe of the transgressours may repent. Also an other saying of Augustine we would you to remember, which is this: MarginaliaNote well the saying of Austen. Nil nocendi fiat cupiditate, omnia consulendi charitate, & nihil fiat immaniter, nihil inhumaniter. That is: Let nothing be done through the greedines of hurting, but all things through the charitie of profiting: Neither let any thing be done cruelly, nothing vngently. Item of the same Augustine it is written. In the feare and name of Christ I exhort you, which of you soeuer haue not the goods of this world be not greedy to haue them. MarginaliaAugust. Such as haue them, presume not to much vpon them. For I say, to haue them is no damnation, but if ye presume vpon them, that is damnation, if for the hauing of thē ye shal seeme great in your owne sight, or if ye do forget the cōmon condition of man through the excellencie of any thing you haue. Vse therfore therin due discretion, tempered with moderation, the which cup of discretion is drawen out of that fountaine of the Apostolike preaching which sayth: Art thou loose frō thy wife? Do not seeke for thy wife. Art thou bound to thy wife? Seke not to be loosed from her? Where also it followeth, Such as haue wiues, let them be as though they had them not, and they that vse the world, let them be as not vsing it.

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Item concerning the widow he sayth: Let her marry to whō she wil, only in the Lord. MarginaliaWhat it is to marry in the Lord. To marry in the Lord, is nothing els but to attempt nothing in cōtracting of matrimony, which the Lord doth forbid. Ieremy also saith: Trust not in the words of lies, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. The which saying of Ieremy, Hierome expounding, saith thus: this may agree also, & be applied vnto such virgins, which brag & vaunt their virginitie with an impudent face, pretending chastitie, when they haue an other thing in their conscience, and know not how the Apostle defineth the virgine, MarginaliaWhat a virgine is by the diffinition of the Apostle. that she should be holy in body, and also in spirit. For what auayleth the chastitie of the body, if the mind inwardly be defloured? Or if it haue not the other vertues, which the prophetical Sermon doth describe? The which vertues, for as much as we see partly to be in you, and because we are not ignorant, that this discretiō (although neglected in this part, yet in the other actiōs of your life to be kept honestly of you) do not dispaire, but you wil also soone amend the little lacke which is behind. And therfore with as much grauitie as we can, we cease not to call vpō you, to correct and amend this your negligēce. For although according to our common calling, a bishop is greater then a Priest, yet Austen being lesse then Hierome (notwithstāding the good correctiō proceeding frō the lesser to the greater) was not to be refused or disdained, especially when he which is corrected, is found to striue against the truth to please mē. For as S. Austen saith, writing to Boniface: MarginaliaAugust ad Bonifaciū. the disputatiōs of all mē, be they neuer so Catholick or approued persōs: ought not to bee had in stead of the Canonicall Scriptures. So that we may disprooue or refuse (sauing the honor & reuerence which is due vnto thē) any thing that is in their writings: if any thing there be found, contrary to trueth: and what can be found more contrary to the trueth then this? When as the trueth him selfe speaking of continency, not of one onely, but of all men together, (the number onely excepted of them which haue professed continencye) sayth: He that can take, let him take: the which saying, these men (mooued, I cannot tell by what occasion) doe turne and say: he that cannot take, let him be accursed. And what can bee more foolishe amongest men, then when anye Byshoppe or Archdeacon, runne themselues headlong into all kinde of lust, to adultery

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