The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Sermon of the Bishop of Londe, before the Sentence was given upon John Huss
In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Trusting by humble invocation upon the Divine help and aid, most noble prince, and most christian emperor, and you most excellent fathers, and reverend lords, bishops and prelates, also most excellent doctors and masters, most famous and noble dukes, and high counts, honourable nobles and barons, and all other men worthy of remembrance; The theme.that the intent and purpose of my mind may the more plainly and evidently appear unto this most sacred congregation, I am first of all determined to treat or speak of that which is read in the epistle on the next Sunday, in the sixth chapter to the Romans; that is to say, 'Let the body of sin be destroyed,' etc.
His theme confirmed by Aristotle.It appeareth by the authority of Aristotle, in his book entituled 'De Cœlo et theme Mundo,' how wicked, dangerous, and foolish a matter it seemeth to be, not to withstand perverse and wicked beginnings. For he saith, that a small error in the beginning, is very great in the end. It is very damnable and dangerous to have erred, but more hard to be corrected or amended. Whereupon that worthy doctor, St. Jerome, in his book 'On the Exposition of the Catholic Faith,' teacheth how necessary a thing it is, that heretics and heresies should be suppressed, even at the first beginning of them, saying thus: 'The rotten and dead flesh is to be cut off from the body, lest the whole body do perish and putrefy. For a scabbed sheep is to be put out of the fold, lest that the whole flock be infected; and a little fire is to be quenched, lest the whole house be consumed and burned.' Arius was first a spark in Alexandria, who, because he was not at the first quenched, presumed, and went about with his wicked and perverse imaginations, and fantastical inventions, to spot and defile the catholic faith, which is founded and established by Christ, defended with the victorious triumphs of so many martyrs, and illuminated and set forth with the excellent doctrines and writings of so many men. Such therefore must be resisted; such heretics, of necessity, must be suppressed and condemned.
Wherefore I have truly propounded, as touching the punishment of every such obstinate heretic, that the body of sin is to be destroyed. Whereupon it is to be considered, according to the holy traditions of the fathers, that some sins are adverse and contrary to others. Others are annexed or conjoined together; others are, as it were, branches and members of others; and some are, as it were, the roots and heads of others. Amongst all which, those are to be counted the most detestable, out of which the most and worst have their original and beginning. Wherefore, albeit that all sins and offences are to be abhorred of us, yet those are especially to be eschewed, which are the head and root of the rest. For by how much the perverseness of them is of more force and power to hurt, with so much the more speed and circumspection ought they to be rooted out and extinguished, with apt preservatives and remedies. Forasmuch then as amongst all sins, none doth more appear to be inveterate than the mischief of this most execrable schisin, therefore have I right well propounded, that the body of sin should be deslroj'ed. For by the long continuance of this schism, great and most cruel destruction is sprung up amongst the faithful, and hath long continued; abominable divisions of heresies have grown up; threatenings are increased and multiplied; the confusion of the whole clergy is grown thereupon, and the opprobries and slanders of the christian people are abundantly sprung up and increased. And truly it is no marvel, forasmuch as that most detestable and execrable schism is, as it were, a body and heap of dissolution of the true faith of God; for what can be good or holy in that place, where such a pestiferous schism hath reigned so long a time? For, as St. Bernard saith, 'Like as in the unity and concord of the faithful, there is the habitation and dwelling of the Lord; so likewise in the schism and dissipation of the Christians, there is made the habitation and dwelling of the devil.' Is not schism and division the original of all subversion, the den of heresies, and the nourisher of all offences? for the knot of unity and peace being once troubled and broken, there is free passage made for all strife and debate. They cannot abide the laity to rule in any case.Covetousness is uttered in others for lucre's sake; lust and will is set at liberty, and all means opened unto slaughter. All right and equity is banished, the ecclesiastical power is injured, and the calamity of this schism bringeth in all kind of bondage; swords and violence do rule, the laity have the dominion, concord and unity are banished, and all prescript rules of religion utterly contemned and set at nought.
All the popish religion lieth in lands, lordships, and liveries.Consider, most gentle lords! during this most pestiferous schism, how many heresies have appeared and showed themselves? how many heretics have escaped unpunished? how many churches have been spoiled and pulled down? how many cities have been oppressed, and regions brought to ruin? what confusion hath there happened in the clergy? what and how great destruction hath been amongst the christian people? I pray you mark how the church of God, the spouse of Christ, and the mother of all faithful, is contemned and despised; for who doth reverence the keys of the church? who feareth the censures or laws, or who is it that doth defend the liberties thereof? Note here the pope's divinity, how the blood of Christ serveth to purchase their patrimony.But rather who is it that doth not offend the same, or who doth not invade it, or else what is he that dare not violently lay hands upon the patrimony or heritage of Jesus Christ? the goods of the clergy and of the poor, and the relief of pilgrims and strangers, gotten together by the blood of our Saviour and of many martyrs, are spoiled and taken away: behold, the abomination of desolation brought upon the church of God, the destruction of the faith, and the confusion of the christian people, to the ruin of the Lord's flock or fold, and all the whole company of our most holy Saviour and Redeemer.
This loss is more great and grievous than any which could happen unto the martyrs of Christ, and this persecution much more cruel than the persecution of any tyrants ; for they did but only punish the bodies, but in the schism and division the souls are tormented. There, the blood of men was only shed; but, in this case, the true faith is subverted and overthrown. That persecution was salvation unto many; but this schism is destruction unto all men. When the tyrants raged, then the faith did increase; but by this division it is utterly decayed. During their cruelty and madness, the primitive church increased; but through this schism it is confounded and overthrown. Tyrants did ignorantly offend; but in this schism many do wittingly and willingly, even of obstinacy, offend. There came in heretics, users of simony, and hypocrites, to the great detriment and deceit of the church ; under those tyrants, the merits of the just were increased. But during this schism, mischief and wickedness are augmented: for in this most cursed and execrable division, truth is made an enemy to all Christians, faith is not regarded, love and charity hated, hope is lost, justice overthrown, no kind of courage or valiantness, but only unto mischief; modesty and temperance cloaked, wisdom turned into deceit, humility feigned, equity and truth falsified, patience utterly fled, conscience small, all wickedness intended, devotion counted folly, gentleness abject and cast away, religion despised, obedience not regarded, and all manner of life reproachful and abominable.
With how great and grievous sorrows is the church of God replenished and filled, whilst that tyrants do oppress it, heretics invade it, users of simony do spoil and rob it, and schismatics go about utterly to subvert it? O most miserable and wretched christian people ! whom now, by the space of forty years, with such indurate and continual schism, they have tormented, and almost brought to ruin! This schism continued forty years.O the little bark and ship of Christ! which hath so long time wandered and strayed now in the midst of the whirlpools, and by and by sticketh fast in the rocks, tossed to and fro with most grievous and tempestuous storms! O miserable and wretched boat of Peter! if the most holy Father would suffer thee to sink or drown, into what dangers and perils have the wicked pirates brought thee ! amongst what rocks have they placed thee! O most godly and loving Christians! what faithful devout man is there, who beholding and seeing the great ruin and decay of the church, would not be provoked unto tears? What good conscience is there that can refrain weeping, because that contention and strife are poured upon the ecclesiastical rulers, who have made us to err in the way, because they have not found, or rather would not find, the way of unity and concord? whereupon so many heresies and so great confusion are sprung up, and grown in the flock of Peter, and the fold of the Lord!He stirreth up the emperor Sigismund.Many princes, kings and prelates, have greatly laboured and travailed for the rooting out hereof; but yet could they never bring to pass, or finish that most wholesome and necessary work. Wherefore, most christian king! this most glorious and triumphant victory hath tarried only for thee, the crown and glory thereof shall be thine for ever; and this most happy victory shall be continually celebrated to thy great honour and praise, that thou hast restored again the church which was so spoiled, thou hast removed and put away all inveterate and overgrown schisms and divisions, thou hast trodden down users of simony, and rooted out all heretics. Dost thou not behold and see how great, perpetual, and famous renown and gloiy it will be unto thee? for what can be more just, what more holy, what better, what more to be desired; or, finally, what can be more acceptable, than to root out this wicked and abominable schism, to restore the church again unto her ancient liberty, to extinguish and put away all simony, and to condemn and destroy all errors and heresies from amongst the flock of the faithful? Nothing truly can be better, nothing more holy, nothing more profitable for the whole world; and finally, nothing more acceptable unto God. For the performance of which most holy and godly work, thou wast elected and chosen of God; thou wast first deputed and chosen in heaven, before thou wast elected and chosen upon earth. Thou wast first appointed by the celestial and heavenly prince, before the electors of the empire did elect or choose thee; and especially, that by the imperial force and power, thou shouldest condemn and destroy these errors and heresies which we have presently in hand to be condemned and subverted. To the performance of this most holy work, God hath given unto thee the knowledge and understanding of his divine truth and verity, power of princely majesty, and the just judgment of equity and righteousness, as the Highest himself doth say: Loripidem rectus redideat, æthiopem albus.
Not the vile flattery of these papists, when they would have any thing of the emperor for their purpose.'I have given thee understanding and wisdom, to speak and utter my words, and have set thee to rule over nations and kingdoms, that thou shouldest help the people, pluck down and destroy iniquity. And by exercising of justice thou shouldest, I say, destroy all errors and heresies, and specially this obstinate heretic here present, through whose wickedness and mischief, many places of the world are infected with most pestilent and heretical poison, and, by his means and occasion, almost utterly subverted and destroyed. This most holy and godly labour, O most noble prince! was reserved only for thee; upon thee it doth only lie, unto whom the whole rule and ministration of justice is given. Wherefore thou hast established thy praise and renown, even by the mouths of infants and sucking babes; for thy praises shall be celebrate for evermore, that thou hast destroyed and overthrown such and so great enemies of the faith. The which that thou mayest prosperously and happily perform and bring to pass, our Lord Jesus vouchsafe to grant thee his grace and help, who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen!
The proctor of the council calleth for the sentence.When this sermon was thus ended, the procurer of the council rising up, named Henricus de Piro, required that the process of the cause against John Huss might be continued, and that they might proceed uuto the definitive sentence. Then a certain bishop, who was appointed one of the judges, declared the process of the cause, which was pleaded long since in the court of Rome, and elsewhere, between John Huss and the prelates of Prague.
At last he repeated those articles which we have before remembered; amongst which he rehearsed also one article, That John Huss should teach the two natures of the Godhead and manhood to be one Christ. John Huss went about briefly, with a word or two, to answer unto every one of them; but as often as he was about to speak, the cardinal of Cambray commanded him to hold his peace, saying, "Hereafter you shall answer all together, if you will." Then said John Huss: "How can I at once answer all these things which are alleged against me, when I cannot remember them all?" Then said huss to the cardinal of Florence: "We have heard thee sufficiently." But when John Huss, for all that, would not hold his peace, they sent the officers who should force him thereunto. Then began he to entreat, pray, and beseech them, that they would hear him, that such as were present might not credit or believe those things to be true which were reported or him. But when all this would nothing prevail, he, kneeling down upon his knees, committed the whole matter unto God, and the Lord Jesus Christ; for at their hands he believed easily to obtain that which he desired.
When the articles abovesaid were ended, last of all there was added a notable blasphemy, which they all imputed to John Huss; that is, That he said there should be a fourth person in divinity, and that a certain doctor did hear him speak of the same. When John Huss desired that the doctor might be named, the bishop that alleged the article, said, That it was not needful to name him. Then said John Huss: "O miserable and wretched man that I am, which am forced and compelled to bear such a blasphemy and slander!"
Afterwards the twenty-first article was repeated, how he appealed unto Christ; and that, byname, was called heretical. Whereunto John Huss answered: "O Lord Jesu Christ! whose word is openly condemned here in this council, unto thee again I do appeal, who when thou wast evil entreated of thine enemies, didst appeal unto God thy Father, committing thy cause unto a most just Judge; that by thy example, we also, being oppressed with manifest wrongs and injuries, should flee unto thee." Last of all, the article was rehearsed, contempt as touching the contempt of the excommunication by John Huss. Whereunto he answered as before, that he was excused by his advocates in the court of Rome, wherefore he did not appear when he was cited; and also that it may be proved by the acts, that the excommunication was not ratified; and finally, to the intent he might clear himself of obstinacy, he was for that cause come unto Constance, under the emperor's safe-conduct. When he had spoken these words, one of them, who was appointed judge, read the definitive sentence against him, which followeth thus word for word.