The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Public Defence of Certain Articles of John Wickliff, in the first Act before the whole University of Prague, in Charles's College

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The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, Volume 3 by John Foxe, edited by Stephen Reed Cattley
The Public Defence of Certain Articles of John Wickliff, in the first Act before the whole University of Prague, in Charles's College by Jan Hus


The Determination of John Huss upon the Thirteenth Article of Wickliff, touching the Preaching and Hearing of the Word of God, made in the Year of our Lord 1412.
Forasmuch as to condemn the truth wittingly, or without reasonable examination, doth tend to great danger of salvation, as the Lord saith, [Luke vi.] "Do ye not condemn, and ye shall not be condemned:" therefore, to avoid this great danger, the university of Prague, and the whole commonalty thereof, the rector, masters, doctors, bachelors, and students, in their general assembly, not agreeing a to the condemnation pronounced by the doctors in their council-house, require of the said doctors a reasonable proof of their condemnation, and that theyThe whole university of Prague is against the judgment of the doctors who cendemned the forty-five articles. should by Scripture, authority, or infallible reason, prove the falsehood of every those five and forty articles; the which being once done, the said university will agree to the said condemnation as just. For the university doth well know, that, as Augustine saith, at the end of his second book of Christian Doctrine, "Whatsoever a man doth learn besides the holy Scriptures, if it be hurtful, there it is condemned; if it be profitable, there it is found. And when a man hath found all things therein which he hath profitably learned elsewhere, he shall much more abundantly find those things which are found in no place else, but are learned in the marvellous depth and marvellous profoundness of those most sacred Scriptures only."

Thus writeth Augustine. And Gregory, in his twenty-third book of Morals, saith thus: "God, in the holy Scripture, hath comprehended whatsoever thing may happen unto any man, and in the same hath, by the examples of those who are gone before, taught those who are to come, how to reform their lives." Whereby it appeareth that if every of the five and forty articles containeth in it wholly the thing that is false and untrue, the same is either plainly or darkly condemned in the holy Scriptures.

Secondly, it followeth by the sentence and mind of this holy man, that if the condemnation of the five and forty articles be profitable, the same is found in the holy Scriptures. And whereas again St. Augustine writeth unto St. Jerome, in his eighth epistle, and the ninth distinction, "I," saith he, "have learned to attribute this honour and reverence unto those writers only who are called canonical, that I dare affirm none of them to have erred in their works or writings. As for all other writers, I do so read them, that although they abound with never so much holiness, or excel in doctrine, I do not by and by think it true because they themselves do so judge; but if they can, by other canonical authors or probable reasons, persuade or prove that they do not digress from the truth."

Also the said Augustine, in his book 'De Unico Baptismo,' lib. ii., saith thus: "Who doth not know or understand the holy canonical Scripture to be contained in his own bonds and limits, and the same to be preferred before all other letters and decrees of bishops," &c. And, a little after, he hath the like saying, as for the letters of other bishops which have been written, or be written (after the canon, being confirmed), they may lawfully be reprehended and reproved, both by the word of them that be more skilful in that matter, and also by the ancient authority of other bishops, or by the prudence and wisdom of such as be better learned, or more expert, or else by general councils, if it so chance that they in any point have erred and gone astray from the sincere truth.

By these sayings of St. Augustine and others, &c., the university of Prague hath concluded and determined, that they will not receive the condemnation of the five and forty articles, made by the doctors in their council-house, as just and true, unless they who condemned them will prove their condemnation by the holy Scriptures and probable reasons upon every of the five and forty articles.

Wherefore, for the due examination of the aforesaid condemnation, whether it be effectual or no, we will at this present take in hand the fourteenth article of the number of the five and forty; which article is this:—

"They who leave off preaching and hearing of the word of God, for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicate, and in the day of judgment shall be counted the betrayers of Christ."

This article containeth: First, that all priests, omitting the preaching of the word of God for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicated.

Secondly, It containeth that all such as do omit the hearing of the word of God, for fear of excommunication, are already excommunicated.

Thirdly, That both these sorts of men in the day of judgment, shall be counted traitors to Christ. As concerning the first point, it is pre-supposed, that the preaching of the word of God is commanded unto the apostles and their followers, as it appeareth in Matt, x., where it is said, "Jesus sent his twelve disciples, commanding them and saying, Go and preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Also in the last of Matthew, and the tenth of Luke. Whereupon Peter, the apostleThe preaching of the gospel commanded by God. of Christ, acknowledging this precept and commandment for himself, and for the other apostles and successors, in Acts x., saith thus: "He commanded us to preach and testify, that it is he which is ordained of God, the judge both of the quick and the dead." This commandment, also, the other apostles did acknowledge, and especially the chosen vessel, pronouncing under a great threatening, [1 Cor. ix.] "Wo be unto me if I do not preach the gospel." And pope Nicholas, considering that great threatening in the forty-third distinction, saith: "The dispensation and distribution of the heavenly seed is commanded and enjoined unto us; wo be unto us if we do not sow it abroad, or if we hold our peace." Which thing when the vessel of election did fear and cry out upon, how much more ought all other inferiors to fear and dread the same! To the same purpose doth St. Gregory write, in his Pastoral, in the distinction, "Sit rector."[1] It is also evident by many other doctors and holy men, as by St. Augustine, Jerome, Isidore, Bernard, whose words it were too long here to rehearse.

The hearing of the word commanded by God.As touching the second point, That the hearing of the word and law of God is commanded unto the people, it is evident both by the old and new law; for it is said in Proverbs [chap, xxviii.], "He that turneth away his ear, and will not hear the law of God, his prayer shall be cursed." And our Saviour, rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees, concludeth thus in John viii., saying, "He that is of God, heareth God's word; but forasmuch as you are not of God, therefore you hear not his word."

Excom-munication.Thirdly, It is to be noted that excommunication is a separation from the communion, 11 quest. 3 par., "Nihil;" et cap. "Canonica;" and 27 quest. 1 par., "Viduas;" 34 quest. 3 par., "Cum sacerdos." And this excommunication is Excom-munication double.double, that is to say, either secret or manifest. The secret excommunication is, whereby a man is separated from the mystical body of Christ, and so from God through sin, according unto the 59th of Isaiah, "Your iniquities have made separation between your God and you." And with this excommunication doth the apostle excommunicate every man who doth not love the Lord Jesus Christ; saying in the firsth epistle to the Corinthians, and the last chapter, "If any man do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed." The manifest and apert excommunication may be divided into a manifest excommunication by God, which is spoken of in Matt, xxv., "Go, ye cursed," &c., and oftentimes else in the law of God: also into a manifest excommunication by men, whereby the prelate doth either justly or unjustly cast out any man from the participation of the communion of the church; whereof this shall suffice at this present.

The proofs of the first part of the article.Then, as touching the first part of the article, it is thus argued, &c.

Whosoever forsake or leave the commandments of God undone, they are excommunicate of God. But the priests who leave off the preaching of the word of God, for fear of the unjust excommunication of men, do leave the commandment of God undone. Ergo, those priests who do leave off preaching of the word, are excommunicated of God.

The first part of this article is true: the major appeareth by the Psalm, "Cursed be they which do decline and swerve from thy precepts." The minor is evident by the first proposition, which proveth that the preaching of the word of God is the commandment of God enjoined unto those priests and ministers. Whereupon the saying of our Saviour [Matt, xv.] is spoken unto them: "Wherefore do you transgress the commandments of God for your own traditions?" leaving off the preaching of the word of God for fear of unjust excommunication; and so dishonouring the father Christ, and the mother the holy church.

It is thus confirmed: All they who do omit or let slip any manner of work, principally and straitly enjoined them by the Lord Jesu Christ, under the cloak and colour of grace, for fear of any excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. But priests, and especially curates, admonished by the Spirit of God, leaving off the preaching of the word of God for fear of the excommunication of men, omit and leave off, for fear of the same excommunication, a work principally and straitly enjoined them by the Lord Jesus Christ, under the cloak and colour of grace: ergo, priests, and especially curates and such as be admonished and warned by the Spirit of God, omitting the preaching of the word of God for fear of excommunication, are excommunicate. The consequence is well known. The major appeareth by the Psalm, "Cursed be they which do decline and go away from thy commandments." The minor is also evident again by the first supposition.

The apostles did not obey any wicked inhibition.Item, If the apostles of Christ had left off the preaching of the word of God for fear of the excommunication of men, which the Lord did foreshow unto them in John xvi., saying, "They shall excommunicate you out of their synagogues;" they had been excommunicated of God: ergo, by like evidence, the priests and ministers of Christ, being inspired with the same spirit to preach and declare the word of God, if they leave it undone for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. The consequence dependeth upon a similitude, and the antecedent is evident; for if the apostles had left off preaching for fear of excommunication, they had broken the commandments of God, and consequently had been accursed. Wherefore they, willing to observe and keep the commandments of God, and to put off the excommunication of men, said unto the high priests, elders, and scribes at Jerusalem, to Annas, Caiphas, John, and Alexander, and all others of the kindred of the priests who were gathered together, and commanded them that they should not preach or teach in the name of Jesus, "If it be just in the sight of God, that we should rather obey you than God, that judge you." [Acts iv.] And in the fifth of the Acts they said unto them, "We ought rather to obey God than man." By this saying of the Holy Ghost it is concluded, that the priests and ministers of Christ, inspired by the Holy Ghost to preach the word of God, ought rather to obey the Holy Ghost, than those that shall prohibit and command them to the contrary, and to suffer the excommunication of men patiently. Whereupon pope Anacletus spake very well in this, as it is written [Dist. 43,]: "We know," saith he, " that many do go about to molest and trouble the doctors and teachers to this end, that they might utterly destroy them, and fulfil their own proper lusts and desires: yet, notwithstanding, the said doctors, as much as in them lieth, ought not to depart or go back from their good doings and intent, knowing assuredly that blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake." Thus much writeth he. And, upon these words, "Ye shall find an ass tied up, and a he-foal with her; loose her and bring her unto me: and if any man say any thing unto you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them," the reverend Bede writeth thus: "Here it is mystically commanded unto the doctors and teachers, that if any adversity do let or hinder, or any man do prohibit or stop, that sinners cannot be loosed from their bonds or snares, and be brought unto the Lord by the confession of their faith, that they, notwithstanding, should not leave off preaching, but constantly and boldly affirm and say, that the Lord hath need of such to edify and build again his church. For so did the apostles; so likewise ought all the humble and meek ministers of Christ to do." And St. Jerome, writing to Rusticus, the bishop of Narbonne, saith thus: "Let no bishop from henceforth be puffed up or inflamed with the envy of devilish temptation, if the priests now and then do exhort and teach the people, or preach openly in the churches; or, as it is said, do bless the people; for unto him who should deny unto me the doing hereof, I would say in this manner: He that wills not that priests shoidd do those things which they are commanded by God, let him say that he is greater and above Christ;" by which words St. Jerome doth openly declare, that priests are commanded to exhort and teach the people, and to preach in the churches. Secondly, That a bishop, denying or forbidding the same to be done, specially the priests or ministers being apt men thereunto, is extolled above Christ; and therefore, consequently, is not to be obeyed nor heard in his doings.

If the pope be a heretic, the godly bishops may preach against him.Item, Admit that the pope be a heretic, and teach doctrine perverse and contrary to the holy Scriptures, and that the bishop be a catholic man, unto whom the pope giveth in commandment that he shall suffer no man to preach contrary to his opinion, as it happened in pope Leo, and St. Hilary the bishop: adding this also, that the bishop do execute the pope's commandment, under pain of excommunication; this notwithstanding, if the catholic priests, learned in the law of God, do leave off preaching against the pope's heresies, for fear of excommunication of men, they are already excommunicate; which thing is evident, forasmuch as they are accursed through the consent of their silence, as St. Isidore saith, 11 quest. 1 par.: "He that doth consent unto sinners, or defendeth a sinner, he shall be cursed both before God and man, and shall be punished with a most severe rebuke." And in the 7th question, 4 par., "Omnis," it is said: "He that doth neglect to amend that which he may correct, committeth no less fault than he who had before offended; for not only they who do commit the offence, but also they who consent thereunto, are judged partakers thereof." In like case, priests who do not preach against the heresy which the pope teacheth, are dumb dogs, not able to open their mouths or bark against the wolf, which will kill the sheep of Jesus Christ: ergo, how can it then be otherwise, but they must needs be betrayers of the sheep of their own shepherd?

Though the chief priests be adulterers, yet outght the ministers to preach against adultery.Item, Let it be so, that the bishop with the chief prelates be adulterers, or otherwise open offenders, and that he, together with his prelates, do command under pain of excommunication, that none be so hardy as to preach against adultery; in such a case, they who do omit their duty in preaching against adultery, for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicated of God: ergo, the first part of the article is true. The antecedent is proved: for our Saviour, in Mark viii., saith thus: "He that acknowledgeth me and my words in this wicked and adulterous generation, the Son of Man shall also acknowledge and confess him when he shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels." Therefore he that shall confess Christ, and these words of Christ, [Matt, v.] "You have heard that it was said to them in old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that every one which shall behold a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart:" he, I say, that shall confess these things before an adulterous bishop, with his chief prelates, who, perchance, are the wicked and adulterous generation, the Son of Man shall also acknowledge him, when he shall come in the glory of his Father, and so consequently is he blessed. Contrariwise he who, for the fear of excommunication of men, will not confess Christ and his words before the sinful and adulterous generation, is accursed. The consequence holdeth by the words of Christ, [Luke ix.] "He that is ashamed of me and my words, him shall the Son of Man be ashamed of, when he shall come in his majesty, and in the glory of his Father, and his holy angels:" pronouncing that which is spoken, [Matt, xxv.] "Verily I say unto you, I know you not; go you cursed into everlasting fire."

Example of Christ.Also our Saviour Jesus Christ did not omit, or leave off the preaching of the kingdom of God for any pretended excommunication of the bishops, Scribes, and Pharisees; so likewise his true and humble priests ought not to omit their preaching for any pretended excommunication of men; the consequence holdeth by the saying of Christ, [John xv.] "Be ye mindful of the words which I have spoken unto you, the servant is not greater than his master: if they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also." The antecedent is apparent by the saying of St. John, chap. ix.: "Even now the Jews had conspired, that whosoever did confess him to be Christ, should be excommunicate." And likewise, John vii.: "Whether did any of the princes or rulers, or any of the Pharisees believe in him? but this people which knoweth not the law are accursed."

Obedience of christian priests towards their prelates.Also the humble and just ministers of God ought not, under pain of sin, to cease from the fruitful preaching of the law of God for any unjust excommunication, or unlawful commandment; and it is proved thus: the humble and just ministers of Christ ought not to obey their prelates in such things as are contrary to God; as all the holy doctors, and such as are learned in the law of God, do wholly with one consent affirm. And, forasmuch as an unjust excommunication and unlawful commandments are against God, therefore the just and true ministers of God ought not to obey such unlawful excommunication and commandments; and, consequently, ought not to cease for them from the fruitful preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; but ought boldly and gladly to preach the same. Forasmuch as the Lord doth comfort them in Matt. v., saying thus: "Blessed and happy are ye when men do curse you and persecute you, and speak all kind of evil against you, making lies and slanders upon you for my sake; rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven."

Also every minister having power given him from above to preach the gospel, hath the same given unto him for the edifying of the church, and not for the destruction of the same; as the apostle saith, [2 Cor. x.,] "But every one leaving off the preaching of the gospel, for fear of any pretended excommunication of men, should frustrate the power given him for the edifying of the church." And, therefore, in so doing, he should sin against God and his church, and consequently ought rather to choose not to cease from preachingPreaching of the gospel meant for edification, not for destruction. for fear of any such excommunication, lest that he be excommunicated of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Item, Set a case that the pope doth command that there shall be no preaching in any place: then the ministers of Christ, leaving off their preaching- for fear of the pope's curse, are already excommunicated of God: it is evident, forasmuch as they have neglected the commandment of God for the commandment of men. And this case is possible; for by what reason may the pope command, under pain of excommunication, that there shall be no preaching inThe preaching of the gospel is not to be left off for all the pope's prohibitions. some place, and namely in the parish churches? by the same reason he may command that no man should preach in any place. The first part is evident not to be by the prohibition of pope Alexander, who in his bull did prohibit to preach the word of God unto the people in chapels, although the said chapels were confirmed by the privilege of the see apostolic; the which bull the lord Subincon, archbishop of Prague, with his canons, obtained. By these aforesaid, the first part of the article is evident, which is this, that all priests omitting the preaching of the word of God, for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. The second part of the article is this: that all they who doThe proofs of the second part of the article. omit the hearing of the word of God, for fear of the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. And it is proved thus: all such as neglect the commandments of God are excommunicate. But they who neglect the hearing of the word of God, for the excommunication of men, are they who neglect the commandments of God. Therefore they who omit the hearing of the word of God, for the excommunication of men, are already excommunicate. The major is apparent by Psalm cxviii., "Cursed be they which decline from thy commandments;" and the minor is evident by the second supposition, which saith, that the hearing of the word of God is commanded unto the people. This is confirmed: all such as omit the necessary means unto salvation areMeans necessary unto salvation are not to be omitted. excommunicate. But, such as omit the hearing of the word of God, for the excommunication by men, be such as do omit the necessary means unto salvavation: therefore, in so doing, they are excommunicate. The consequence is not to be plain: the major is made evident by this, that all such as do omit the necessary means unto salvation, do also neglect their salvation, and so are out of the way of salvation, and be excommunicated of God. The minor appeareth hereby, that to hear the word of God is the means most necessary unto salvation, as the apostle doth prove in Romans x.; "How," saith he," shall they believe on him, whom they never heard of? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" And, by and by afterwards, the apostle inferreth to the same purpose, "That faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

A man ought to do nothing against his conscience.Item, Whatsoever is done contrary to conscience, doth tend to eternal damnation; as it is said, touching the restitution of the spoiled goods, chap. "Literas porro." But to omit the hearing of the word of God for fear of excommunication of men, is a thing which is done against conscience: therefore, to omit the hearing of the word of God for excommunication, doth tend to eternal damnation, and therefore consequently ought not to be done, for fear of any excommunication. Wherefore a woman being adjudged to a man, whom she knoweth to be within the degrees of consanguinity which God's law hath prohibited, ought not to obey that judgment, lest she offend against God; but meekly and patiently to sustain the excommunication, as it appeareth in the chapter before alleged. So, likewise, all true Christians ought, rather than offend against God, meekly to suffer the excommunication of men, and not to omit the hearing of the word of God. To this purpose also serveth that which is spoken in the 11 quest. 3 par., " He that feareth the omnipotent God, will not presume by any means to do any thing contrary unto the gospel or apostles, either contrary unto the prophets, or the institutions of the holy fathers." By these premises, the second part of this article is manifest, that all such as do omit the hearing of the word of God, for fear of excommunication of men, are already excommunicated.

And forasmuch as all Christians, being of lawful age, not repenting at the end, shall be counted in a manner as traitors to Christ in the day of judgment, because they were unfaithful servants of Christ,—therefore they who through fear omit the preaching and hearing of the word of God, for the excommunication of men, shall be counted as traitors to Christ, and shall render account thereof unto the Lord. Whereupon Chrysostome touching The proofs of the third part of the article.both those sorts in his 41st homily, showing how the Lord would have some to be teachers, and others to be disciples, saith thus: "For unto those whom he would have to be teachers, he speaketh thus by his prophet Isaiah: 'Ye priests speak to the hearts of the people, for if the priests do not manifest all the truth unto the people, they shall render account thereof at the day of judgment: and, likewise, if the people do not learn the truth, they shall also give an account at the day of judgment.'" It is also made more evident by him in Matt, x., "'Do not fear those which kill the body,' lest through the fear of death, you do not freely speak that which you have heard, neither boldly preach that unto all men which you alone have heard in your ears. So that hereby alone it is evident that not only he is a betrayer of the truth, who, transgressing the truth, doth openly speak lies instead of the truth; but he also who doth not freely pronounce, or doth not freely defend the truth, which he ought boldly to defend, is also a traitor unto the truth. For like as the priest is a debtor to preach the truth which he hath heard of the Lord, even so the layman is bound to defend the truth, which he hath heard of the minister, approved by the Scriptures: which if he do not, then is he a traitor to the truth; for steadfast belief with the heart, prevaileth unto righteousness; Chrysostome, although he was excommunicate, yet he did preach.the confession which is made with the mouth, helpeth unto salvation." Thus much writeth Chrysostome, who, together with the people meekly bearing the excommunication of the bishops, freely preached the truth, and the people heard him; and so by his word and his works he freely taught the truth, lest he should be a traitor to the truth, and consequently be counted as a traitor to our Lord Jesus Christ in the day of judgment. And thus the third part of the article aforesaid is manifest.

The Defence of the Fifteenth Article of John Wickliff by John Huss.

"It is lawful for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the apostolic see, or of his catholics."

First, I understand here by the autliority of the apostolic see, his special consent properly authorizing. And, likewise, I understand by authority of the bishop, a special consent of the bishop authorizing the said deacon or priest to preach.

Confirmation of the fifteenth article. Every man being lawfully called by the church, ought to preach the word of God without the pope's license.Now as touching the truth of this article, I thus argue: like as after matrimony once complete, the man and wife may lawfully, without any special license of the pope or bishop, procreate carnal children, so likewise deacons or priests, by the motion of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, may lawfully, without any special license either of pope or bishop, generate spiritual children. Ergo, this article is true, and the antecedent is thus proved. For as it is an acceptable work unto God for man and wife, without the special license of the pope or bishop, to generate carnal children; so it is acceptable unto him, that deacons or priests, by the motion of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, should lawfully generate spiritual children, without the special license of the pope or of any other bishop: ergo, the assumption is true.

But if any man will deny this similitude, let him show the diversity. Yea, as it is worse not to receive or to choke the seed of God's word, than the carnal seed, so contrariwise, it is better to receive and sow abroad that seed of the word of God, whereby children might be raised up unto God, than to receive or give seed whereby carnal children may be gotten. Whereupon our Saviour, in Matthew x., saith thus; "Whosoever doth not receive you, neither heareth your words, wipe off the dust from your feet: verily I say unto you, that in the day of judgment it shall be better unto the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than to that city."

Also a deacon or priest, being stirred by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, may preach the word of God without the special license of the pope or bishop. Ergo, it is lawful for him so to do. The consequence is thus manifest; so much as the Spirit of God, moving the deacon or priest unto the preaching of the gospel, is of greater force than any prohibition of pope or bishop invented by man: ergo, according unto the rule of the apostles, they ought infallibly to be obedient unto the Spirit of Christ, which doth so move them thereunto, and rather to obey God than man: [Acts v.] Also, by like reason, as Eldad and Medad, upon whom the Spirit of God did rest, did lawfully prophesy without requiring any license at Moses' hands, as it is written Numb. xi.; for the same reason may the meek minister of Christ, upon whom the Spirit of God doth rest, without the requiring of any license either of the pope or bishop, lawfully preach the word of God unto the people. And would to God in this behalf all prelates had the spirit of Moses; for it is said, Numb, xi., that when Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the tents, a child ran unto Moses, and told him, saying; "Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the tents;" and by and by Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, whom he had chosen out amongst many, said, " My master Moses, forbid them:" and he said, " Why enviest thou for my sake? God grant that all the people may prophesy. St. Gregory.Would God that all the people could prophesy, and that God the Lord would give them his Spirit!" O would to God the pope and bishops had the affections which this holy man, the friend of God, had! Then would he not prohibit the meek deacons and ministers of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The like affection had the blessed man Gregory, who, in his twenty-second book of Morals, writing upon these words of Job, "And I have not afflicted the soul of his husbandmen," saith thus: "The husbandmen of this earth are these, who, being set in small authority, with as fervent desire as they can, and with as great labour as they may, do work by the preaching of grace, to the erudition of the holy church, which husbandmen of this world not to afflict, is not to envy their labours and doings: neither ought the ruler of the church, albeit he do challenge unto himself alone the title of preaching, through envy gainsay others who do preach truly and uprightly. For the godly mind of the pastor, who seeketh not his own glory amongst men, desireth to be holpen; which thing also the faithful preacher doth wish, if it might by any means be brought to pass, that the truth, which he alone cannot sufficiently express, all men's mouths might declare. Wherefore, when Joshua would have resisted the two who were prophesying in the host, 'why dost thou envy,' saith he, ' for my sake?' for he did not envy that good in others which he himself had." Thus writeth St. Gregory.

The course of the word of God ought not to be stopped.Also the meek ministers of Christ have, by a special gift of God, knowledge and mind to preach the gospel; but it is lawful neither for the pope nor bishop, nor any other man, to let or hinder them, lest thereby they should hinder the word of God, that it have not its free course. Ergo, this article is true; for the king doth not so much rule over the goods of his subjects, no not of his own sons, but that they may give alms to whom they will: much more the bishop hath not so great authority over the knowledge of the meek minister, with his other gifts of God, but that he may now freely, under the title of spiritual alms, freely preach the gospel unto the people. Ergo, forasmuch as it should seem strange, that a bishop should forbid any man to give any corporal alms to the poor that are an-hungered; much more strange and marvellous would it be, if he should prohibit the spiritual minister of Christ to give spiritual alms, by the preaching of the gospel of the word of God.

Item, No catholic man ought to doubt, but that a man able for the purpose, is more bound to teach those who are ignorant, to counsel and comfort the weak in spirit, to correct such as are unruly, to forgive those that do them wrong, than to do any other work of mercy forasmuch then as he that hath sufficient is bound, under pain of damnation, to give corporal alms, as it appeareth in Matthew XXV., much more he who is able, is bound to do spiritual alms. And this alms St. Bernard.St. Bernard, writing unto Eugenius in his third book, perceived to be very necessary for the bishop of Rome, where he saith thus: "I fear no greater poison, nor greater sword nor mischief, will happen unto thee, than this insatiable desire of dominion." With what face, then, can the faithful minister withdraw or keep back the spiritual alms for the pope and any other, even without the special license of the pope or of the bishop; which license, through the far distance from the pope, the ministers cannot so easily obtain or come by? For any prohibition of any prelate, being broken through necessity, is not to be blamed. 11 quest. 3 par. "Intercessor," and also in the chapter following.

Item, All authority of preaching given unto deacons and priests in their consecration, were but vain, except that in case of necessity, without any special license, they might preach the gospel. For it is evident, inasmuch as it is not lawful for them to use that authority without the special license of their adversary: ergo, it is given them in vain. The consequence is evident by the common saying of the philosopher, that "power is but vain, whereof proceedeth no use of action." But forasmuch as this article doth, as it were, depend upon the preceding article, therefore this shall suffice to be spoken thereof at this present.

Objection.But, against the affirmations of both these articles, this is objected out of the 16 quest. 1 par.: "All faithful people, and especially all priests, deacons, and all others of the clergy, ought to take heed that they do nothing without the license of their bishop." It is also objected out of the fifth book of Decretals, "Tituli de hæreticis;" cap. "Cum ex injuncto;" where it is said, no man ought to usurp to himself indifterently the office of preaching, forasmuch as the apostle saith, "How shall they preach, except they be sent?" Whereas, also, Innocent doth declare, that it is not sufficient for a man to say, that he is sent of God to preach except he do show the same. Answers to the objection.As touching the first point, the Gloss doth sufficiently answer upon this word, "without license;" "that is to be expounded," saith he, "without general license; which is obtained and given, when a bishop doth appoint any priest to govern the people;" " for thereby," saith he, "it seemeth a bishop is thought to give him general power to minister unto the people, and to rule the church." Thus much in the Gloss. And to the same end and purpose it is said in the 7 quest. 1 chapter, "Episcopi:" "Bishops or priests, if they come into the church of another bishop to visit the same, as it is said Gloss 1. 'in honore suo,' let them be received in their degree, and desired as well to preach the word, as to do any other consecration or oblation."

What is falsely to usurp the office of a preacher. Secondly, it is to be noted, which is very well expressed in the same place; "No man ought to usurp unto himself the office of preaching, as a thing indifferent," for to usurp, is unlawfully to use any thing: ergo, the same deacon or priest doth then usurp the office of preaching indifterently, who, living viciously, contrary unto the law of Christ, or being ignorant of the law of God, doth preach either for gain or covetousness of living, either for his belly or dainty Who is a true minister of the, or for any vain glory; but he who doth live according to the laws of Christ, and being moved with the affection of sincere charity, intending purely the honour of God and the salvation of himself and his neighbours, doth preach no lies or vain jests or other things not authorized, but only the law of Christ and the minds of the holy doctors. And he that doth so preach, necessity occasioning or moving him thereunto, in case there be no pope or bishop, or in case possible, to withstand the preaching of heritics or false preachers, in so doing doth not usurp the office of preaching; and in such case there is no doubt but he is sent of God. And this doth also answer unto that which is consequently said, that if any man will peradventure craftily answer, that such preachers are invisibly sent of God, although not visibly of men, when the invisible sending of God is much better than the visible sending of men; a man may reasonably answer thereunto, that forasmuch as that internal sending is secret, it is not sufficient for a man only to say that he is sent of God, forasmuch as every heretic may so say; but he ought to prove the same his invisible calling by the working of some miracle, or by some special testimony of the Scripture.

Four kinds of sending or calling according to St. Augustine.Here it is to be noted, that according to St. Augustine, in his 65th book of Questions to Orosius, there are four kinds of sending. The first is from God only, whereof we read in Moses and others, who were inspired by God. And this kind of sending looseth from the danger of the statute; so that he whom the Spirit of God hath inspired, this prelate (giving thanks) may proceed unto a better life. Whereupon pope Urban saith, 19th quest. 2 par., "There be," said he, The common law."two laws, the one public, the other private. The public law is that which is confirmed in writing by the holy fathers, such as is the canon law, which is only given for transgressions. As for example, it is decreed in the canons, that none of the clergy shall go from one bishopric to another, without the letters commendatory of his bishop; which was ordained only for offenders, that no infamed persons should be received by any bishop; for they were wont, when they could not celebrate or do their office under their own bishopric, to go to another; which now is forbidden by the laws and precepts. The private law.The private law is that, which, by the instruction of the Holy Ghost, is written in the heart, as the apostle speaketh of many who have the law of God 'written in their hearts.'" And in another place: "Forasmuch as the Gentiles have not the law of God, but naturally do those things which are of the law, they are laws unto themselves." Private law, that is, the secret and inward working of God's Spirit in the heart.And afterwards he saith, "the private law is much more worthy than the public law. For the Spirit of God is a law ; and 'they who are moved by the Spirit of God, are led by the law of God. And who is he, that can worthily resist against the Holy Ghost?' Whosoever therefore is led by the Spirit of God, albeit his bishop do say him nay, let him go freely by our authority; for 'the law is not appointed for the just man,' for ' where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty: and if ye be led by the Spirit of the God, ye are not under the law.'"

Behold, here it is affirmed, that the sending by God through inspiration, is not bound under the bondage of the law; for that law is more worthy than the public law. Secondly, that the law is made for transgressors and offenders, and not for the just. Thirdly, that whosoever is led by the Spirit of God, although his bishop stand against him, he may proceed unto a better life. Whereby it is evident, that a deacon or priest disposed to preach, and being led by the Spirit of God, may freely preach the gospel of Christ, without the spiritual license of his bishop. It is evident, forasmuch as it is good, that a deacon or priest do live well, and preach fruitfully. Ergo, he may proceed from idleness unto the labour and office of preaching, and so to a better life.

Every man may pretend to be sent of God immediately. Two kinds of preachers.But whereas it is said before, that forasmuch as the inward sending or calling is secret, therefore it is not sufficient for a man barely to affirm only that he is sent of God, when every heretic may so say; but it is necessary, that he do confirm and prove his invisible sending by the working of some miracle, or by some special testimony of the Scripture: here is to be noted, that there are two kinds of preachers; those of the Saviour Christ, and those of the seducer Antichrist. The first sort, following their Master, Christ, teach the people in truth. The kinds of other sort, being of a corrupt mind, and reprobate touching faith, resist against the verity; and, through covetousness by their feigned words, do make merchandize of the people. And these men do give, and shall give miracles, as our Saviour saith [Matt, xxiv.], "There shall arise false Christs and false prophets which shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that even the elect themselves, if it were by any means possible, should be brought into error." And the apostle [2 Thes. ii.], as touching their head, Antichrist, writeth thus:— "Whose coming shall be according to the operation of Satan, with all power and signs, false miracles, seducing unto iniquity those which do perish, because, they have not received the charity and love of truth, that they might be saved: therefore will the Lord send upon them the operation of error, that they shall give credit unto lies; that all such as have not believed the truth, but consent unto wickedness, should be judged." Of the signs and wonders of Antichrist.Behold how expressly our Saviour, by himself, and by his apostle, doth teach us, how the disciples of Antichrist, with their head, should shine through their great signs and wonders. But the true disciples of Christ shall not so do in the time of Antichrist. For, as St. Isidore saith, in his first book, 22 par., "De summo bono:" "Before Antichrist shall appear, all virtues and signs shall cease from the church, that he may the more boldly persecute the same, as an abject. For this profit, shall all miracles and signs cease under Antichrist, that thereby the patience of the holy men might be known, and the lightness of the reprobate, who are offended, may be opened, and also that the cruelty of the persecutors should be made more fierce."

Why true miracles shall cease under Antichrist. Thus writeth St. Isidore; and St. Gregory, in his twenty-fourth book of Morals, saith, "For why? By a terrible examination of God's secret dispensation shall all signs of virtue or power be taken away from the holy church, before that the Leviathan appear in that most wicked and damnable man, whose shape he doth take upon him. For prophecy is hidden, the gift of healing is taken away, the virtue of long abstinence is diminished, the words of doctrine are put to silence, and the wonderful works of miracles are extinguished; which things nothing can utterly take away, but only the dispensation of God. But this dispensation is not so openly and manifoldly declared, as it hath been in times past; which also is done by a marvellous dispensation, that through one only thing both God's love and justice should be fulfilled. For the power of miracles being for a while taken away, the holy church appeareth the more abject and forsaken, and the reward of good men doth cease, who reverenced the same for the hope of heavenly riches, and not for any present signs; and that the minds of evil men against the same might the sooner be known, who neglect to follow the invisible things which the church doth promise, while they be led with visible signs."

Forasmuch then as the humility of the faithful is, as it were, destitute of the multitude and appearing of signs by the terrible working of God's secret dispensation, whereby mercy is given unto the good and just, wrath heaped upon the evil; forasmuch then, as it is truly said, that before this Leviathan shall plainly and manifestly come, poverty shall go before his face (for, before that time, the riches of miracles shall be taken away from the faithful), then shall that ancient enemy show himself against them by open wonders; that, as he is extolled through signs and wonders, so shall he the more manfully be vanquished of the faithful, without any signs or miracles. Also in his sixteenth book upon these words, which the blessed man Job [chap, xxiv.] said; "Who shall reprehend his way before him, or who shall cast in his teeth what he hath done?" While he did speak of the body of all evil, he suddenly converted his speech unto the head of all the wicked; for he did see that, towards the end of the world,The description of Antichrist out of St. Gregory.Satan should enter into man, whom the Scripture calleth Antichrist; he shall be extolled with such pride, he shall rule with such power, he shall be exalted with such signs and wonders, under the pretence of holiness, that his doing cannot be controlled of men, forasmuch as his signs and tokens are joined with power and terror, and with a certain show of holiness. Wherefore, he saith, "Who shall control his ways before him?" what man is he that dare once rebuke or check him? whose look or countenance is he afraid of? But, notwithstanding, not only Enoch and Elias, who are brought as example for his probation, but also the elect, do argue and reprove his way, while they do contemn, and by the force and power of their minds, resist his malice. But forasmuch as this thing is not done by their own power and strength, but by God's help and grace, therefore it is very well said: "Who shall argue or reprove his ways before him?" who, but only God, by whose help, the elect are aided and  ade able to resist.

The proof of holiness.And, a little after, upon the same book of Job, Gregory saith, "Inasmuch as holy men do withstand his iniquity, it is not they themselves who do so rebuke his ways, but it is He through whose help they are strengthened." Also in his second book he saith, "Now the holy church doth not regard, but despise the signs and miracles of the heretics, if they do any; forasmuch as the church doth sufficiently understand, that it is no kind of holiness: for why? the proof of holiness is not to make signs or wonders, but to love every man as himself, to think truly of the very true God, and to think better of thy neighbour than of thyself: for true virtue and holiness consisteth in love, and not in showing of miracles. This the Verity declareth, saying; 'Hereby shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another:' but he saith not, that 'hereby men shall know that ye are my disciples, because ye work miracles;' but contrariwise, 'if ye love one another:' declaring plainly thereby, that it is not miracles, but the mere charity and love of God which maketh us the servants of God. Wherefore the chief testimony of being God's disciple is to have the gift of brotherly love." This throughout doth St. Gregory write, and oftentimes, in other places, he speaketh very much of miracles, how they shall cease amongst the just, and abound amongst the wicked.

Signs of common and indifferent to the ministers of Christ and Antichrist. Also Chrysostome, in his fifty-fifth homily, saith thus: "It is a common and an indifferent work between the ministers of God and the ministers of the devil, to cast out devils; but to confess the truth, and to work righteousness, is the only work of the saints and holy men: therefore, whomsoever thou dost see casting out devils, if he have not the confession of the truth in his mouth, neither righteousness in his hands, he is not a man of God: but if thou dost see a man openly confessing and declaring the truth, and doing justice, although he do cast out no devils, yet is he the man of God." And it followeth, The principal of miracles."Let us know, that like as at the coming of Christ, before him the prophets, and with him the apostles, wrought miracles, through the Holy Ghost; for such as the thing is, which is stirred, such scent and savour will proceed from the same." He writeth also upon the beginning of Matthew, "The whole world did marvel and wonder at three things,— that Christ rose again after his death; that flesh ascended into heaven; and that he did convert the whole world by his eleven apostles. There are four causes which wrought the same; that is to say, the contempt of riches or money; the despising of pomp and glory; the separation of themselves from all worldly occupation and business, and the patient suffering of torments." Thus much writeth Chrysostome.

Cause why the church now worketh not miracles. Also St. Isidore, in his first book and twenty-fifth chapter, "De summo bono," writeth thus: "Like as in the apostles, the marvellous effect and power of works was much more commendable than the virtue of their signs; even so now in the church, it is much better to live well, than to work any signs or miracles. And the cause why the church of God doth not at this present work miracles, as it did in the time of the apostles, is this; that it was necessary at that time that the world should believe miracles, and now, at this present, every faithful believer ought to shine with good works, for to this end were signs and miracles then outwardly wrought, that their faith thereby might be inwardly strengthened and established: for whatsoever faithful man he be that seeketh to work miracles, he seeketh vain-glory to be praised of men; for it is written, 'Miracles are signs and tokens unto the infidels and unbelievers, and not unto the faithful.'" Thus much writeth Isidore.

A great miracle to love a man's enemy. Item, St. Augustine, in his book of confessions, saith thus: "There is no greater miracle amongst men, than to love our enemies." By these words of these holy men a man may easily gather, that, both in our days, and in the time to come, the disciples of Antichrist both do and shall flourish and show themselves more by strange signs and miracles, than did the disciples of Christ, according to the saying of our Saviour Jesus Christ; "There shall rise up amongst you false prophets, which shall work strange miracles." Secondly, it is proved that they are greater and stranger miracles, to confess the truth, and to do justice, than to work any other kind of miracle. Thirdly, it is gathered thereby, that whatsoever minister or deacon loveth his enemies, contemneth riches, despiseth the glory of the world, and flieth from all worldly troubles, and meekly sustaineth and suffereth most terrible and cruel threatenings and strokes for the gospel's sake, he worketh miracles, having thereby a testimony and witness, that he is the true disciple of Jesus Christ.The true miracles of Christ's ministers. And it is evident by the saying of our Saviour Jesus Christ, [Matt, v.] "Let your good works so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." And likewise, John x. 38, "Believe the works."[2] Whereupon St. Gregory, in his first book of Dialogues, writeth thus: "The estimation of a true life consisteth in the virtue of its works, and not in the showing of signs." Whereby it is fourthly concluded by what is aforesaid, that it is a more effectual testimony and witness for a priest or deacon that he is sent of God to confess the truth, and follow Christ in the aforesaid virtues, than to cast out devils, or to do any other miracles, as it is evident by the saying of Chrysostome before alleged: "Whomsoever thou dost see to cast out devils, if the confession or acknowledging of the truth be not in his mouth, neither righteousness nor justice in his hands, he is not a man of God." This is also confirmed by the words of Christ [Matt, vii.], "Many shall say unto me in that day. Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name; have not we cast out devils in thy name; and have not we also wrought many great wonders and miracles in thy name? Then I will answer and say unto them; Forasmuch as I have not known you at any time, depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." And as touching the second part, Chrysostome saith; "If you see a man confessing and preaching the truth, and working righteousness, although he do not cast out devils, he is a man of God."

The testimony of a true priest.Hereby it appeareth, that every deacon, priest, or minister, confessing the truth and working justice, hath a perfect and sure testimony that he is sent of mony God; and that it is not necessary for him to approve this his sending by the working of any miracle, instead of working righteousness; neither by any testimonial, which should plainly declare him by name, that he was sent of the Lord to preach.

The first part appeareth manifest by that which is already spoken, that all miracles in the time of Antichrist shall cease in the elect.

The second part is also evident: forasmuch as none of the present preachers can show by the Scripture of the law of God, that he is specially named thereunto.

And likewise, I do also affirm and say, as touching all preachers who shall come hereafter, that they are not named by name; but let no man here object Enoch and Elias, who were ancient preachers, and prophesied by the Holy Spirit of God. And it is apparent, that like as it is not a cause sufficient to prove, that this priest or deacon is sent of God to preach, because he worketh miracles; so is it not a cause sufficient to prove that he is not sent of God to preach, because he doth no miracles; but to confess the truth, to work righteousness, to contemn the world with the glory thereof, patiently to suffer rebukes, is a sufficient testimony for any priest or deacon, having knowledge of the law of God, freely to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, forasmuch as, in such case, he is sent of God. And this is the sending which the apostle speaketh of in Romans xii. "How should they preach, except they be sent?" Whereupon the Gloss of St. Augustine writeth thus; "These things serve to set forth God's grace, declaring that all our goodness is prevented[3] by grace." "For," he saith, "belief cometh of hearing, hearing cometh of preaching, and preaching by the sending of God; so that it altogether and wholly cometh out of the fountain of grace, and preaching truly cometh of sending." This hath the Gloss: "How shall they then preach, without they be sent of God? And this is evident, that the great and principal sending is from God alone, as it is proved by Moses."

The second sending is both from God and man; as by the example of Joshua and others, who were sent both by God and the rulers to preach.

The third sending is from man alone; which is not founded in the law of God, but in men's traditions, which they rather esteem.

The fourth sending, which hath but the name only, is proper to them, who of themselves unworthily usurp the office of preaching, as those false prophets of whom God speaketh in Jeremy xxiii., "I did not send them, and they ran; I spake not unto them, and they prophesied: if they had continued in my counsels, and had declared my words unto my people, I would have converted them from their evil ways, and wicked imaginations." And our Saviour speaketh of these prophets in Matthew, saying, "There shall arise false prophets." And Peter, his true vicar, in his second epistle and second chapter, prophesying unto the faithful believers in Christ, speaketh thus of them: "There were amongst the people false prophets, as there shall be amongst you also masters of lies, through whom the truth shall be blasphemed and slandered;" and that he might the better instruct the people to know them, he addeth, "They shall go about with feigned words, for coveteousness' sake, to make merchandize of you."

Difference between the ministers of Christ and Antichrist.Wherefore every faithful man, diligently weighing these things in his mind, may now easily perceive how great a number of false prophets there be, through whom the christian truth is blasphemed, and all covetous dealing is exercised; and these are they who freely preach lies. But the humble and true ministers of Christ, wheresoever they do appear, by and by are persecuted, whereby the prophecy of the apostle is verified, which is written in the second epistle to Timothy, chap. iii. "All men," saith he, "which desire to live godly, shall suffer persecution; but the evil men and seducers shall prosper in their wickedness, running daily more and more into all kinds of errors." Ministers of Antichrist do cloak the vices of their prelates.The wicked have now so much prevailed, that they do preach lies, making heretics of the faithful Christians; neither is there any man that dare prohibit them their lying, so that they do not preach against the vices of the prelates. How then can you say, that Antichrist is not exalted above all that is called God, suppressing the members of Christ in his office, fortifying and fostering his members in lying? Therefore the true and faithful disciples of Christ ought to stand ready girt about their loins, and shoes upon their feet, in defence of the gospel, taking the sword in hand, which is the word of God [Ephes. vi.], and to fight against the crafts of Antichrist, who goeth about utterly to extinguish the true preaching of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. Greg. dist. 44, cap. 6, "Rector."
  2. "Operibus credite." Latin edition, p. 37. The English editions erroneously translate this, "Trust unto your good works."—Ed.
  3. Is preceded by, or is the result of.—Ed.