The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/A Declaration of the Council of Basil touching the three last Articles of the Bohemians

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A Declaration of the Council of Basil touching the three last Articles of the Bohemians, already alleged.

Forasmuch as touching the doctrine of the verity, we ought to proceed soberly and warily, that the truth may be declared with words so orderly conceived and uttered, that there be no offence given to any man, whereby he should fall to take occasion of error, and (to use the words of Isidore) that nothing by obscurity be left doubtful; whereas you have propounded touching the inhibition and correction of sins in these words, The second article of the Bohemians, with the declaration of the council.'All mortal sins, and especially open offences, ought to be rooted out, punished, and inhibited, by them whose duty it is so to do, reasonably and according to the law of God.' Here it is to be marked and understood, that these words, 'whose duty it is', are too general, and may be an offence; and according to the meaning of the Scripture, we ought not to lay any stumbling stock before the blind, and the ditches are to be closed up, that our neighbour's ox do not fall therein: all occasion of offence is to be taken away. Therefore we say, that according to the meaning of the holy Scripture, and the doctrine of the holy doctors, it is thus universally to be holden, that all mortal sins, especially public offences, Punishing of public offences, how and by whom.are to be rooted out, corrected, and inhibited, as reasonably as may be, according to the law of God, and the institutions of the fathers. The power to punish these offenders doth not pertain unto any private person, but only unto those who have jurisdiction of the law over them, the distinction of law and justice being orderly observed.[1]

The third article of the Bohemians, with the declaration of the council.As touching the preaching of the word of God, which article you have alleged in this form, 'That the word of God should be freely and faithfully preached by the fit and apt ministers of the Lord:' lest by this word 'freely' occasion might be taken of disordered liberty (which, as you have often said, you do not mean), the circumstance thereof is to be understood; and we say, that (according to the meaning of the holy Scripture, and doctrine of the holy fathers) it is thus universally to be believed: That the word of God ought freely, but not every where, but faithfully and orderly, to be preached by the priests and Levites of the Lord, being allowed and sent by their superiors unto whom that office appertaineth; Liberty of preaching, how far, and to whom it extendeth.the authority of the bishop always reserved, who is the provider of all things, according to the institution of the holy Fathers.

As concerning the last article, expressed under these words, 'It is not lawful for the christian clergy, in the time of the law of grace, to have dominion over temporal goods;' we remember that in the solemn disputation holden in the sacred council, he who was appointed by the council to dispute, propounded two conclusions in this sort:

First, That such of the clergy as were not religious, and had not bound themselves thereunto by a vow, might lawfully have and possess any temporal goods: as the inheritance of his father or any other, if it be left unto him; or any other goods justly gotten by means of any gift, or other lawful contract, or else some lawful art.

The fourth article of the Bohemians. Temporal possessions in the clergymen’s hands.
The papists stand hard for their temporal lordships.
The second conclusion, 'The church may lawfully have and possess temporal goods, moveable and unmoveable, houses, lands, towns and villages, castles and cities; and in them have a private and civil dominion.' Your ambassador who disputed against him, granted those conclusions, saying, That they did not impugn the sense of this article being well understood, forasmuch as he understandeth this article of civil dominion, formerly meant. Whereby, and also by other things, it may be understood, that those words, 'to have secular dominion,' expressed in the aforesaid article, seem to be referred to some special manner or kind of dominion. But, forasmuch as the doctrine of the church is not to be treated upon by any ambiguous or doubtful words, but fully and plainly; therefore we have thought good more plainly to express that, which according to the law of God, and the doctrine of the holy doctors, is universally to be believed; that is to say, the two aforesaid conclusions to be true. And also, that the clergy ought faithfully to distribute the goods of the Church, whose administrators they are, according to the decrees of the holy Fathers; and that the usurpation of the administration of the church goods, done by any other than by them, unto whom the administration is canonically committed, cannot be without guilt of sacrilege.

'Thus the sacred council,' said they, 'hath diligently gone about, according to the verity of the gospel, all ambiguity set apart, to expound the true sense of the three aforesaid articles. Wherefore, if there do yet remain any doubt, according to the information which we have received in the sacred council, we are ready, by God's help, who is the principal Verity, to declare the truth unto you. If ye do receive and embrace the declaration of the said three articles, which is grounded upon the verity of the holy Scripture, as you are bound, and will effectually have a pure, simple, and perfect unity, touching the liberty of the communion under both kinds, which you desire and require, which also you cannot lawfully have without the license of holy church; we have authority from the general council, by certain means to treat and conclude with you, trusting that you will show yourselves as you will continue.'

The Bohemians take a deliberation upon the first article.These things thus declared, after the Bohemians had taken deliberation, they said, That they would give no answer unto the premises, before they understood what should be offered them as touching the communion. Wherefore it shall be necessary to declare the matter, as it was written in form following:

  1. Note here the pope's addition.