Billeder på siden

expositors do,) but in the third he differed from them : denying that the apostles, who were poor men, were commanded to feed their sheep with temporal revenue, because they had none of it themselves : and he named somewhat else in this third place. Lastly, that by blaming those that read all or most of their sermons (which I confess many do now in England very coldly) he had obliquely taxed his diocesan, who being a very

old man was wont to do so. The archbishop being well acquainted with Colet's excellencies, received the articles; but instead of being his judg, became his advocate.

27. Yet the old man's fury did not end so, but strove to incense the court against him, especially king Henry VIII, himself; because the doctor had said in a sermon, That an unjust peace was to be preferred before a most just war: which sermon was preached in that nick of time, when the king was raising forces against the French. Two Minim friars were the chief men that managed this business; whereof one was an incendiary of the war, (for which he deserved a bishoprick,) the other, with a pair of huge lungs, declaimed in his sermons against poets, thereby aiming at Colet, who though he had skill in music, yet was in truth averse from poetry.

28. Here the king (who was an excellent person in his youth) gave an evident proof of his royal parts, exhorting Colet privately to go on in his preaching, freely to tax the corrupt manners of that age, and not to withdraw his light in those most dark times; adding, that he knew very well what incensed the bishops so highly against him, and how much good Colet had done by his divine life and holy doctrine to the English church and nation,



To the English church.] I give here a large extract from an ancient English translation of a Latin sermon preached by Colet before the Convocation, in the year 1511. It is valuable as putting us in possession of the sentiments of a reflecting and ingenuous mind, on the state of church affairs in England, at the time when the crisis of the Reformation began to draw


“ This reformation and restoring of the churches estate must needes begynne of you our fathers, and so folowe in us your priestes, and all the clergye : you are our heades; you are an example of lyving unto us. Unto you we looke as unto markes of our direction. In you and in your lyfe we desyre to rede as in lyvely bokes howe and after facion we maye lyve. Wherefore if you will loke and ponder upon oure mottis (motes), fyrste take awaye the blockes out of your own eyes. Hit is an olde proverbe : PhysiLastly, that he would so curb their endeavours, that it should appear to the world, whoever troubled Colet should not escape

tion heale thyselfe. You spiritual physitions fyrst taste you this medicine of purgation of manners : and than after offer in the same to taste.

“ The waye whereby the churche may be reformed into better facion is nat for to make newe lawes. For there be lawes many inowe, and out of nombre : as Salomon saith, Nothynge is new under the sonne. For the evils that are now in the churche were before in tyme paste, and there is no faute but that our fathers have provyded verye good remedyes for it. There be no trespaces but that there be lawes against them in the body of the canon lawe. Therefore hit is no nede that newe lawes and constitutions be made; but that those that are made all redye be kepte : wherefore in this assembley let those lawes that are made be called before you and rehersed. Those lawes, I say, that restrayne vice and those that furder vertue.

“ Fyrste, let those lawes be rehersed that do warne you fathers that ye put not over soone youre handes on every man or admitte into holy orders. For this is the well of evils, that the brode gate of holy orders opened, everye man that offereth hym selfe is all where admitted without pullynge back. Thereof spryngeth and cometh out the people that are in the churche both of unlerned and evyll pristes.

“ Hit is nat inoughe for a priste (after my jugement) to construe a collette, to put forth a question, or to answer to a sopheme, but moche more a good, a pure, and a holy life, approved maners, metely lernynge of holye Scripture, some knowlege of the sacramentes; chiefly and above all thynge the feare of God and love of the hevenly lyfe.

“Lette the lawes be rehersed that commaunde that benefices in the churche be given to those that are worthye, and that promocyons be made in the churche by the ryghte balaunce of vertue, nat by carnall affection, nat hy the acception of persones, wherebye it happeneth nowe a dayes that boyes for old men, fooles for wise men, evyll for goode, do reygne and rule.

“ Lette the lawes be rehersed that warreth agaynst the spotte of symonie. The whiche corruption, the whiche infection, the whiche cruell and odible pestilence, so crepeth now a brode, as the canker evyll, in the minds of pristes, that many of them are not aferde now adayes both by prayer and service, rewardes and promesses to get them great dignities.

“Lette the lawes be rehersed that commande personall resydence of curates in theyr churches. For of this many evyls growe : by cause all things now adayes are done by vicaries and parysshe pristes, yea and those foolish also and unmete, and often tymes wicked, that seke none other thynge in the people than foule lucre, whereof cometh occasion of evyll heresies and yl Christendome in the people.

“ Lette be rehersed the lawes and holye rules given of fathers of the lyfe and honestye of clerkes : that forbydde that a clerke be no marchant, that he be no userer : that he be no hunter ; that he be no common player, that he bere no weapon.

“The lawes that forbydde clerkes to haunte tavernes, that forbydde them


unpunished. Hereupon Colet humbly thanked the king for his royal favour, but beseeched him not to do so, professing that he


to have suspect familiaritie with women: the lawes that commaunde sobernes and a measurablenes in apparyle and temperance in adornynge of the bodye.

“Let be rehersed also to my lordes these monkes, chanons, and religious men, the lawes that commaunde them to go the strayte way that leadeth unto heaven, leavynge the brode way of the worlde ; that command them not to tourmoyll themselves in business, nother secular nor other : that commaunde that they serve nat in princis courts for earthen thynges : for it is in the councel of Calcidinens, that monkes ought onely to gyve themselfe to prayer and fastynge, and to the chastening of their fleshe, and observynge of their rules.

“Above all thynges let the lawes be rehersed that pertayne to and concerne you, my reverent fathers and lordes bysshops : laws of your juste and canonical election, in the chaptres of your churches with the callynge of the Holy Goste. For by cause that is nat done now a dayes, and by cause prilates are chosen often more by favor of men than by the grace of God; therefore truly have we nat a fewe tymes byshops full litell spirituall men, rather worldly than hevenly, savoring more the spirite of this world than the spirite of Christe.

“ Lette the lawes be rehersed of the resydence of byshops in their diocesis ; that commaunde that they loke diligently and take hede to the helthe of soules : that they sowe the worde of God; that they shew them selfe in their churches at the least on great holye dayes. That they do sacrifice for their people. That they here the causes and matters of poure men, that they susteine fatherles children and widowes ; that they exercise themselfe in workes of vertue.

“Let the lawes be rehersed of the good bestowynge of the patrimony of Christe. The lawes that commande that the goodes of the churche be spent, nat in costly bylding, nat in sumptuous apparel and pompis, nat in feastynge and bankettynge, nat in excesse and wantonnes, nat in enrichynge of kynsfolke, nat in kepynge of dogges, but of thynges necessarye and profitable to the churche. For whan Saynt Augustyne, some tyme bysshoppe of Englande, did aske the pope Gregorie howe that the bysshops and prelates of Englande shulde spende theyr goodes that were the offeringes of faythful people ; the said pope answered (and his answere is put in the Decrees in the xii. chap. and seconde question) that the goodes of bysshops ought to be devyded into foure partes, whereof one parte oughte to be to the bysshoppe and his householde: another to his clerkes : the third to repayre and upholde his tenementes : the fourthe to the poore people.

“Let the lawes be rehersed, ye and that often tymes, that take awaye the filthes and unclenlines of courtes ; that take awaye those daylye new faunde craftes for lucre ; that besy them to pull away this foule covetousnes, the whiche is the spring and cause of all evils, the whiche is the well of all iniquitie.

“ At the laste lette be renewed those lawes and constitutions of fathers of the celebration of councels, that commaunde provincial councels to be aftener

had rather lay down his preferment, than that any should suffer for his sake.

ye may teache

used for the reformation of the churche. For there never hapneth nothynge more hurtful to the churche of Christe than the lack both of councel generall and provinciall.

“When these lawes and such other ar rehersed that be for us, and that concerne the correction of maners, there lacketh nothynge but that the same be put in execution, with all auctoritie and power. That ones (seing we have a lawe,) we live after the lawe. For the whiche things, with all due reverence, I calle chiefly upon you fathers. For this execution of the lawes, and observing of the constitutions, muste nedes begynne of you,

that us pristes to folowe you by lyvelye examples, or elles truely hit will be sayd of you: They lay gredous burdens upon other mens backes, and they them selfe wyl nat as much as touche it with their lytell fynger.

“For sothe if you kepe the lawes, and if you reforme fyrste your lyfe to the rules of the canon lawes, then shall ye gyve us lyght (in the whiche we may se what is to be done of our parte), that is to say the lyghte of your good example, and we seyinge our fathers so keping the lawes wyll gladly folowe the steppes of our fathers.

The clergies and spirituals part ones reformed in the churche, than may we with a juste order procede to the reformation of the lays parte : the whiche truely wyll be verye easy to do, if we be fyrst reformed. For the bodye followeth the soule. And such rulers as are in the city, like dwellers be in it. Wherfore if pristes, that have the charge of soules be good, streyghte the people will be good. Our goodnes shall teche them to be good more clerely than al other teachynges and preachynges. Our goodnes shal compel them in to the right way truly more effectuously than all your suspendynges and cursynges.

“Wherfore if ye wyll have the lay people to lyve after youre wysshe and wyll, fyrst lyve you your selfe after the wyl of God. And so, trust me, ye shall get in them what so ever ye wyll !

“Ye wyll be obeyed of them, and right it is. For in the epistell to the Hebrewes these are the wordes of St. Paule to the laye people. Obey (saith he) your rulers and be you under them. But if ye will have this obedience, first performe in you the reason and cause of obedience: the whiche the said Paule doth teache, and hit followeth in the texte ; that is, Take you hede also diligently, as though you shulde give a recknynge for their soules : and they wyll obey you.

“You will be honored of the people ; hit is reason. For Saint Paule wryteth unto Timothe: Pristes that rule well are worthye double honors ; chiefly those that labour in worde and teachynge. Therefore if ye desyre to be honoured, fyrst look that ye rule well, and that ye labour in worde and teachynge, and than shall the people have you in all honor.

“You will repe their carnall thynges, and gether tithes and offrynges without any stryvinge : right it is. For Saint Paule, wryting unto the

. Romanes sayth : They are dettours, and ought to minister to you in carnall thinges : fyrst sowe you your spirituall thynges, and then ye shall repe plen


29. But soon after another occasion was offered, by which they hoped to ruin him ; for it happened that the king made preparation to march after Easter' against the French ; and upon GoodFriday Colet made a sermon to the king and courtiers, which was much admired, concerning the victory of Christ; wherein he exhorted all Christians to fight under the banner of their heavenly King, and overcome, saying, That they who either through hatred, or ambition, or covetousness, do fight with evil men, and

tifully their carnall thynges. For truely that man is very hard and unjust that wyl repe where he never did sowe ; and that wyll gether where he never skatered.

“Ye wyl have the churches liberte, and not to be drawen aftere secular juges, and that also is ryght. For hit is in the Psalmis, touche ye nat myne anoynted. But if ye desyre this liberte, first unlouse yourself from the worldlye bondage, and from the services of man: and lyfte up your selfe into the trewe lybertye, the spirituall lybertye of Christe, into grace from synnes, and serve you God, and rayne in him. And than, beleve me the people wyll nat touche the anoynted of theyr Lord God.

Ye wolde be of busines in rest and peace, and that is convenient: But if ye wyl have peace, come agayne to the God of peace and love. Come agayne to Christe, in whom is the very true peace of the Goste, the which passeth all wytte. Come again to your selfe, and to your pristly lyvynge. And to make an ende, as Saint Paule saythe: Be you reformed in the newnes of your understandynge, that you savoure those thynges that are of God, and the peace of God shall be with you.

These things are they, reverend fathers and ryghte famous men, that I thoughte to be said for the reformation of the churches estate. I trust ye will take them of your gentylnes to the best. And if peradventure it be thought that I have past my bounds in this sermon, or have sayd any thyng out of tempre, forgive hit me, and ye shall forgyve a man speakyng of very zeale, to a man sorrowynge the decay of the churche: and consyder the thynge hit selfe, nat regardynge my foolysshenes. Consyder the miserable fourme and state of the churche, and endevour yourselves with all yow myndes to reforme it.

“Suffre nat fathers this your so greate a getherynge to depart in vayne. Suffre nat this your congregation to slyppe to naughte. Truly ye are gethered often tymes together, but, by your favour to speke the trouth, yet I se nat what frute cometh of your assemblyng, namely to the churche.

“Go ye nowe in the spirite that ye have called on, that by the helpe of hit, ye may in this youre councell fynd out, decerne, and ordeyne those thynges that may be profitable to the churche, prayse unto you, and honour unto God. Unto whom be all honoure and glorye for evermore. Amen."

? After Easter.] In 1512. In pursuance of the treaty with Ferdinand of Spain, made in the latter part of 1511, by which Henry bound himself to invade Guienne with an army of 6500 men, to join 9000 which were to be sent by Ferdinand. Rymer, xiii. 311—319.

« ForrigeFortsæt »