Billeder på siden

purpose to live and die, acknowledging as I beleeve and teach other men to beleeve, that the worshipfull sacrament of the altar,

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


that which alone is sufficient for every Christian man to believe concerning the use and force of this sacrament; finally, nothing but that wherewith the writings of all antiquity are consonant and all Christian confessions agreeable. And as truth in what kind soever is by no kind of truth gainsayed, so the mind which resteth itself on this is never troubled with those perplexities which the other do both find, by means of so great contradiction between their opinions and true principles of reason grounded upon experience, nature, and sense. Which albeit with boisterous courage and breath they seem often times to blow away, yet whoso observeth how again they labour and sweat by subtilty of wit to make some shew of agreement between their peculiar conceits and the general edicts of nature, must needs perceive they struggle with that which they cannot fully master. Besides sith of that which is proper to themselves their discourses are hungry and unpleasant, full of tedious and irksome labour, heartless and hitherto without fruit : on the other side, read we them or hear we others, be they of our own or of ancienter times, to what part soever they be thought to incline touching that whereof there is controversy, yet in this where they all speak but one thing their discourses are heavenly, their words sweet as the honeycomb, their tongues melodiously tuned instruments, their sentences mere consolation and joy, are we not hereby almost even with voice from heaven admonished which we may safeliest cleave unto?

He which hath said of the one sacrament, 'Wash and be clean,' hath said concerning the other likewise, ' Eat and live.' If therefore without any such particular and solemn warrant as this is, that poor distressed woman coming unto Christ for health could so constantly resolve herself, “May I but touch the skirt of his garment I shall be whole ;'—what moveth us to argue of the manner how life should come by our bread, our duty being here but to take what is offered, and most assuredly to rest persuaded of this, that can we but eat we are safe? When I behold with mine eyes some small, and scarce discernible grain or seed, whereof nature maketh promise that a tree shall come, and when afterwards of that tree any skilful artificer undertaketh to frame some exquisite and curious work, I look for the event; I move no question about performance either of the one or of the other. Shall I simply credit nature in things natural; shall I in things artificial rely myself on art, never offering to make doubt, and in that which is above both art and nature refuse to believe the Author of both, except he acquaint me with his ways, and lay the secret of his skill before me? Where God himself doth speak those things which, either for height and sublimity of matter, or else for secrecy of performance, we are not able to reach unto, as we may be ignorant without danger, so it can be no disgrace to confess we are ignorant. Such as love piety will as much as in them lieth know all things that God commandeth, but especially the duties of service which they owe to God. As for his dark and hidden works, they prefer, as becometh them in such cases, simplicity of faith before that knowledge, which, curiously sifting what it should adore, and disputing too boldly of that which the wit of man cannot search, chilleth

is the sacrament of Christs flesh and his blood, in forme of bread and wine.

And the archbishop said to mee; It is sooth, that this sacrament is very Christs bodie in forme of bread. But thou and thy sect teachest it to be substance of bread. Thinke you this true teaching?

And I said ; Neither I, nor any other of the sect that yee damne, teach any otherwise then I have told you, nor beleeve otherwise, to my knowing. Neverthelesse sir, I aske of you for charitie, that ye will tell me here plainely, how ye shall understand the text of Saint Paul, where he saith thus; This thing feele you in your selfe that is in Christ Jesu, while he was in the forme of God. Sir, calleth not Paul here the forme of God, the substance or kind of God? Also sir, saith not the church in the Hours of the most blessed virgine accordinglie hereto, where it


for the most part all warmth of zeal, and bringeth soundness of belief many times into great hazard. Let it therefore be sufficient for me presenting myself at the Lord's table to know what there I receive from him, without searching or inquiring of the manner how Christ performeth his promise ; let disputes and questions, enemies to piety, abatements of true devotion, and hitherto in this cause but over patiently heard, let them take their rest: let curious and sharp-witted men beat their heads about what questions themselves will, the very letter of the word of Christ giveth plain security that these mysteries do as nails fasten us to his very cross; that by them we draw out, as touching efficacy, force, and virtue, even the blood of his gored side, in the wounds of our Redeemer. We there dip our tongues : we are dyed red both within and without; our hunger is satisfied, and our thirst for ever quenched; they are things wonderful which he feeleth, great which he seeth, and unheard of which he uttereth; whose soul is possessed of this Paschal Lamb and made joyful in the strength of this new wine, this bread hath in it more than the substance which our eyes behold; this cup hallowed with solemn benediction availeth to the endless life and welfare both of soul and body, in that it serveth as well for a medicine to heal our infirmities and purge our sins, as for a sacrifice of thanksgiving ; with touching it sanctifieth; it enlighteneth with belief; it truly conformeth us unto the image of Jesus Christ; what these elements are in themselves it skilleth not; it is enough that to me which take them they are the body and blood of Christ; his promise in witness hereof sufficeth; his word he knoweth which way to accomplish; why should any cogitation possess the mind of a faithful communicant but this, O my God, thou art true!“O my soul, thou art happy!"" -Book v.

chap. lxvii. $ 12. Of the most blessed Virgine.] The words here referred to are these,

“Memento, salutis auctor,

Quod nostri quondam corporis,
Ex illibata virgine,
Nascendo formam sumpseris.”

[ocr errors]

is written thus ? Thou author of health remember, that sometime thou tooke of the undefiled virgin, the forme of our bodie. Tell me for charitie therefore, whether the forme of our bodie, be called here the kind of our bodie or no?

And the archbishop said to me; Wouldest thou make mee to declare this text after thy purpose, since the church now hath determined', that there abideth no substance of bread after the consecration, in the sacrament of the altar? Beleevest thou not this ordinance of the church?

And I said ; Sir, whatsoever prelates have ordained in the church, our beleefe standeth ever whole. I have not heard, that the ordinance of men under beleefe ®, should be put into beleefe.

And the archbishop said to me; If thou hast not learned this before, learne now to know that thou art out of beleefe, if in this matter and other, thou beleevest not as the holy church beleeveth. - What say doctors treating of this sacrament?

7 The church now hath determined.] The archbishop felt that his strength, such as it was, lay here. He was armed with the authority of the church; and against one so fortified, scripture or reason equally was of very little avail. There he had a short method for deciding all controversies : and he found it so easy and convenient in the application, that we shall see he resorted to it very frequently. The words before us are one instance. Immediately after, he says, “ Thou art out of beleefe, if in this matter and other, thou beleevest not, as the holy church beleeveth.” Again, shortly after, “I purpose to make thee obey to the determination of holy church.” Again, “As holy church hath suffered the images of the Trinitie, and all other images to be painted and shewed, it sufficeth to them that are members of holy church.” “ If Chrysostome meant accordingly to the ordinance of holy church, we will accept him.” Nay, even of St. Paul, Arundel, or one of his brother bishops, said to Lord Cobham: “Paul must be otherwise understood. For it is sure an heresie to say that it is bread after the consecration : for it is against the determination of holy church.And, to go no further, what confidence he had in his weapons, and how he was determined not to be sparing in the use of them, appears sufficiently from his words to Thorpe below: “God has brought me again into this land to destroy thee and the false sect that thou art of: and I shall pursue you so narrowly, that I shall not leave a slip of you in this land.”

8 Men under beleefe.] That is, I have never been taught, that the determinations of men under beleefe, posterior in time, or rather living under the obligation of obedience to the articles of Christian faith, should be elevated into equal authority with those articles. The passage is sufficiently illustrated by a similar declaration of Lord Cobham : “And as of Images, I understand, that they be not of beleeve, but that they were ordained, sith (since) the beleeve was given of Christ, by sufference of the church.” Fox, p. 515, given below in this Collection.


And I said ; Sir, Saint Paul, that was a great doctor of holie church, speaking to the people, and teaching them in the right beleefe of this most holy sacrament, calleth it bread that we breake. And also in the Canon of the masse after the consecration, this most worthy sacrament is called holie bread. And every priest in this land, after that he hath received this sacrament, saith in this wise; That thing that wee have taken with our mouth, we pray God that we may take it with a pure and cleane mind : That is, as I understand, wee pray God that we may receive through very beleefe, this holy sacrament worthily. And sir, Saint Augustine saith ; That thing that is seene, , is bread; but that mens faith asketh to be informed of, is very Christs bodie. And also, Fulgence an ententife doctor saith; As it were an error to say that Christ was but a substance, that is, very man, and not very God; or to say that Christ was very God, and not very man; so is it (this doctor saith) an errour to say, that the sacrament of the altar is but a substance; and also sir, accordingly hereto, in the secret of the mid masse on Christmasse day, it is written thus; Idem refulsit Deus, sic terrena substantia nobis conferat quod divinum est; which sentence sir, with the secret of the fourth ferie, quatuor temporum Septembris'; I pray you sir declare here openly in English,

And the archbishop said to me, I perceive well enough whereabout thou art, and how the divell blindeth thee, that thou may not understand the ordinance of holy church, nor consent thereto. But I command thee now, answere me shortlie; beleevest thou that after the consecration of this foresaid sacrament, there abideth substance of bread or not?

And I said ; Sir, as I understand, it is all one to grant or


9 Canon of the masse.] In the whole of this paragraph, Thorpe closely follows the arguments of his master Wickliffe. See Lewis's History of Wickliffe, p. 79.

1 An ententife doctor.] “Ententif (Fr.); busie, earnest, intentive, &c." Cotgrave.

? Secret of the mid masse.] “ Then after followeth a prayer secretly said, which is called the secret of the Mass ; and that signifieth Christ's secret and privy conversation, which he kept with his disciples a little before his passion.” Book of Ceremonies in Strype's Ecclesiastical Memorials, vol. i. p. 287, Records.

3 Quatuor temporum Septembris.] The fourth ferie (feria quarta) quatuor temporum Septembris may be easily found in any Breviary. The Quatuor tempora denote the fasting-days in the four Ember weeks; which in September are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday next after the 14th.

beleeve, that there dwelleth no substance of bread, and to grant and to beleeve, that this most worthie sacrament of Christs owne body is accident without subject". But sir, for as mikle as your asking passeth my understanding, I dare neither denie it nor grant it, for it is schoole matter, about which I busied mee never for to know and therefore I commit this terme accidens sine subjecto, to those clerkes which delight them so in curious and subtle sophistry, because they determine oft so difficult and strange matters, and wade and wander so in them from argument to argument, with pro et contra, till that they wot not where they are, and understand not themselves. But the shame that these proud sophisters have to yeeld them to men, and before men, maketh them oft fooles, and to be concluded shamefully before God.

And the archbishop said to me; I purpose not to oblige thee to the subtle arguments of clerks, since thou art unable thereto: but I purpose to make thee obey to the determination of holy church.

And I said ; Sir, by open evidence and great witnesse, a thousand yeere after the incarnation of Christ, the determination which I have here before you rehearsed, was accept of holy church as sufficient to the salvation of all them that would beleeve it faithfully, and worke thereafter charitablie. But sir, the determination of this matter was brought in, since the feend was loosed by frier Thomas Aquine, specially calling the most wor


* Without subject.] Compare above, Life of Wickliffe, note on p. 186.

5 Was accept of holy church.] This was expressly conceded, in after times, in the reign of queen Mary, by the learned and candid Tonstall, bishop of Durham, in his book De Eucharistia. P. 45. A.D. 1554. See also Life of Bernard Gilpin, in this collection.

6 Since the feend was loosed.] “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled : and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Revelation, chap. xx. ver. 1-3. To this passage in the Apocalypse, reference is here made by Thorpe, as it was by Wickliffe and his followers, on many other occasions, as prophetical, first, of the purer ages of Christianity, and also of the corruptions which overspread the church in the second millenary after Christ's ascension. See Lewis's History of Wickliffe, p. 87 and 124; Fox, p. 365, 6.

The words which follow, viz. “ Frier Thomas Aquine," are printed thus in

« ForrigeFortsæt »