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K Edward. 3. The storie of I Wickliffe. The ignorance of the former age.

sayd Bishop, and M. William Vghtred monke of Duresme, and M. Iohn Shepie to the see Apostolicall: And hereof to make ful relation of all things done and past in the sayd assembly, that all such things which may tend to the honor of holy Church and the aduauncement of our crowne and this our realme may be the assistaunce of God and the wisedome of the see Apostolicall bee brought to good effect, and accomplished accordingly. Witnes our selues. &c. at London dated the 26. day of Iuly in the 48. yeare of our raigne.

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By the which it is to be noted, what good wil the king then bare to the sayd Wickleffe, and what smal regarde he had to the sinfull sea of Rome.

Of the whych Iohn Wickleff, because we are now approched to his time: remaineth consequently for our story to entreat of, so as we haue heere to fore done of other lyke valiant souldiours of Christes Church before him.

¶ Iohn Wickliffe.

MarginaliaHere beginneth the story of Iohn Wickliffe. AFter all these heretofore recited, by whome (as ye haue heard) it pleased the Lord something to worke against the Byshop of Rome, & to weaken the pernitious superstition of the Friers. Nowe remayneth consequently following the course of yeares, orderly to enter into the story and tractation of Iohn Wickleffe our countreyman, and other moe of his time, and same countrey, whom the Lord (wyth the like zeale and power of spirit) raysed vp here in England, to detect more fully and amply the poison of the Popes dectrine, & false religion set vp by the Fryers. In whose opinions and assertiōs, albeit some blemishes perhaps may be noted: yet such blemishes they be, whych rather declare him to be a mā that might erre, then which directly did fight against Christ our Sauiour, as the Popes procedings and the friers did. And what doctor or learned man hath ben from the prime age of the church, so perfect, so absolutely sure, in whome no opinyon hath sometyme swarued awry? And yet be the sayd articles of hys, neither in number so many, nor yet so grosse in themselues and so cardinall, as those Cardinal ennemies of Christ perchance doe geue them out to be: if his bookes whō they abolished, were remaining to be conferred wt those blemishes, which they haue wrasted to the worste, as euill will neuer sayde the best. MarginaliaThe blemishes of Wickliffe made worse then they be.

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This is certaine and can not be denied, but that he being the publike Reader of Diuinitie in the Vniuersitie of Oxford: was for the rude time wherein he liued, famously reputed for a great clerke, a deepe scholeman, & no lesse expert in all kinde of philiosophie. The which doth not onely appeare by his owne most famous and learned wrytings and monuments, MarginaliaThe testimonie of Walden an enemy in commendation of Wickliffe. but also by the confession of Walden hys most cruel & bitter enemy. Who in a certain Epistle wrytten vnto pope Martin the fift, sayth that he was wonderfully astonyshed at his most strong arguments, wyth the places of authority whych hee had gathered, wyth the vehemency and force of hys reasons. &c. And thus much out of Walden. It appeareth by such as haue obserued the order and course of times, that this Wickleffe florished about the yeare of our Lord. 1371. MarginaliaAnn. 1371. The tyme of I. Wickliffe.Edward the third raigning in England: for thus we doe finde in the Chronicles of Caxton. In the yere of our Lord 1371. (sayeth he) Edward the third, king of England in his Parliamēt, was against the Popes clergy: He willingly harkned and gaue eare to the voices and tales of heretickes, wyth certaine of his counsel: conceiuing and folowing sinister opinions against the Clergy. Wherefore (afterward) he tasted and suffred much aduersity & trouble. And not long after, in the yeare of our Lord (sayth he) 1372. MarginaliaAnno. 1372.he wrote vnto the Byshop of Rome, that he should not by any meanes entermeddle any more wtin his kingdom as touching the reseruation, or distribution of benefices: and that all such byshops as were vnder hys dominion, should enioy their former and anciēt liberty, and be confirmed of theyr Metropolitanes, as hath ben accustomed in times past. &c. Thus much wryteth Caxtō: MarginaliaEx Caxtono.But as touching the iust number of the yere and time, we will not be very curious or carefull about, at this present. Thys is out of all doubt, that at what time all the worlde was in most desperate and vile estate, & that the lamentable ignorance and darknes of God his truth had ouershadowed the whole earth: this man stepped forth like a valiant champiō, vnto whom it may iustly be applyed that is spoken in the boke called Ecclesiasticus of one Simon the sonne of Onias. Euen as the morning star being in the middest of a cloud, & as the Moone being ful in her course, and as the bryght beames of the Sunne, so doeth he shine and glister in the temple and Church of God.

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Thus doth almighty God continually succor & helpe, whē all thinges are in dispaire: being alwaies (accordingto the Prophecye of the Psalme) a helper in tyme of need. The which thing neuer more playnely appeared, then in these latter dayes and extreme age of the Church: when as the whole state & condition (not onely of worldly things, but also of Religion) was depraued and corrupted. That like as the disease named Lethargus among the Phisitions, euen so the state religion amongst the Diuines, was past al mens helpe and remedy. The onely name of Christ remayned amongest Christians; but his true & liuely doctrine was as farre vnknowne vnto the most part, as his name was cōmon vnto al men. MarginaliaA description of Wickliffes time.As touchyng fayth, cōsolation, the end & vse of the law, the office of Christ, of our impotency and weaknes, of the holy ghost, of the greatnes & strength of sinne, of true works, of grace and free iustification, of liberty of a Christian man, wherein consisteth and resteth the summe and matter of our profession: there was no mention of any word almost spokē of Scripture; leaning & diuinitie, was knowne but vnto a few, & that in the scholes onely: & there also turned & cōuerted almost al into sophistry. In stead of Peter & Paule, men occupyed theyr time in studying Aquinas and Scotus, and the maister of sentēce. The worlde leauing & forsaking the liuely power of Gods spirituall word and doctrine, was altogether led and blinded with outward ceremonies & humaine traditions; wherein the whole scope, in a maner, of all christian perfection did consist & depend. In these was all the hope of obteining saluation fully fixed: hereunto all thynges were attributed. In so much, that scarcely any other thyng[illegible text] was sene in the temples or Churches, taught or spoken of in sermōs, or finally intēded or gone about in theyr whole life, but only heaping vp of certain shadowed ceremonies vpon ceremonies, neither was there any end of theyr heaping,

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The people were taught to worship no other thing but that which they did see, and did see almost nothing whiche they did not worship.

The Church being degenerated from the true Apostolick institutiō aboue al measure (reseruing onely the name of the Apostolick church, but farre from the truth thereof in very deede) did fall into all kinde of extreme tyranny: Where as the pouerty and simplicity of Christ was chaūged into cruelty and abhomination of life. In stead of the Apostolicke giftes and continuall labours and trauelles, slouthfulness & ambitiō was crept in amongst the priests. Besides all this, there arose & sprong vp a thousand sortes and fashions of straunge religions, being the onely root & well head of all superstitiō. How great abuses and deprauations were crept into the Sacramentes, at what tyme they were compelled to worship similitudes and signes of thinges, for the very things themsleues: and to adore such things as were instituted and ordeined onely for memorials? MarginaliaAll good things defiled & spotted with superstition. Finally what thing was there, in the whole state of Christen religion so sincere, so sound and pure, which was not defiled and spotted with some kinde of superstitiō? Besides this, with how many bondes & snares of dayly new fangled ceremonies, the sely consciences of men redeemed by Christ to liberty, were snared and snarled? In so much, that there could be no great differēce almost perceiued betwene Christianitie and Iuishnes, saue onely the name of Christ; so that the state and condition of the Iewes[illegible text] might seeme somwhat more tolerable then ours. There was nothing sought for out of the true fountaines, but out of the dirty pudles of the Philistians. The christian people were wholy caried away as it were by the noses, with mere decrees and constitutions of men, euen whether as pleased the bishops to lead them, and not as Christes will did direct them. All the whole world was filled and ouerwhelmed with errours and darknesse. And no great maruell, for why the simple and vnlearned people being far from all knowledge of the holy Scripture; thought it sufficient inough for them, to know onely these things whych were deliuered them by their pastors and shepheards; and they on the other part taught in a maner nothing else, but such things as came foorth of the Court of Rome. Whereof the most part tended to the profite of their order, more then to the glory of Christ.

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The Christian faith was esteemed or counted none other thing then, but þt euery man should know that Christ once suffred;; that is to say, that all men should know and vnderstand þt thing which the deuills thēselues also knew. Hypocrisie was counted for wonderful holines. All men were so addict vnto outward shewes, that euen they thēselues which professed þe most absolute & singular knowledge of the scriptures, scarsly did vnderstād or know any other thing. MarginaliaThe captaines of the church seduced as well as the inferior sort.And thys euidētly did appere, not only in the common sort of doctours and teachers, but also in the very heades and captaines of the Church: whose whole reli-

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