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[The Commissioners appointed by the queen to make a reformation of religion in the University of Cambridge and other parts of the realm, having addressed their letters to the Vice-Chancellor of the University touching the restitution of Bucer and Phagius to the degrees and titles of honour which had been taken from them after their death, and the repealing of all acts done against them and their doctrine; these demands were openly consented unto by all the graduates of the University: and a congregation being called in St Mary's Church on the 30th of July, 1560, an oration was made on the occasion by Master Acworth, the common orator of the University.]
WHEN Acworth had made an end of his oration, Master James Pilkington, the queen's reader of the divinity lecture, going up into the pulpit, made a sermon upon the 112th psalm, the beginning whereof is: “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord.”
Where, intending to prove that the remembrance of the on just man shall not perish, and that Bucer is blessed, and that #:oil. the ungodly shall fret at the sight thereof, but yet that all their attempts shall be to no purpose, to the intent this saying may be verified, “I will curse your blessings, and bless your curs- o:*. ings;” he took his beginning of his own person, that albeit he were both ready and willing to take that matter in hand, partly for the worthiness of the matter itself, and in especially for certain singular virtues of those persons for whom that congregation was called, yet notwithstanding, he said, he was nothing meet to take that charge upon him. For it were more reason, that he which before had done Bueer wrong, should now make him amends for the displeasure. As for his own part, he was so far from working any evil against Bucer, either in word or deed, that for their singular knowledge almost in all kind of learning he embraced both him and Phagius with all his
heart: but yet he somewhat more favoured Bucer, as with whom he had more familiarity and acquaintance. In consideration whereof, although that it was scarce convenient that he at that time should speak, yet notwithstanding he was contented, for friendship and courtesy sake, not to fail them in this their business.
Having made this preface, he entered into the pith of the matter; wherein he blamed greatly the barbarous cruelty of the court of Rome, so fiercely extended against the dead. He said, it was a more heinous matter than was to be borne with, to have shewed such extreme cruelness to them that were alive; but for any man to misbehave himself in such wise toward the dead, was such a thing as had not lightly been heard of: saving that he affirmed this custom of excommunicating and cursing of dead folk to have come first from Rome. For Evagrius reporteth in his writings, that Eutychius was of the same opinion, induced by the example of Josias, who slew the priests of Baal, and burnt up the bones of them that were dead, even upon the altars. Whereas, before the time of Eutychius this kind of punishment was well near unknown, neither afterward usurped of any man, that ever he heard of, until a nine hundred years after Christ. In the latter times, (the which how much the further they were from that golden age of the apostles, so much the more they were corrupted,) this kind of cruelness began to creep further. For it is manifestly known, that Stephen the sixth, pope of Rome, digged up Formosus, his last predecessor in that see; and spoiling him of his pope's apparel, buried him again in layman's apparel, (as they call it,) having first cut off and thrown into Tiber his two fingers, with which, according to their accustomed manner, he was wont to bless and consecrate. The which his unspeakable tyranny used against Formosus, within six years after, Sergius the third increased also against the same Formosus. For taking up his dead body, and setting it in a pope's chair, he caused his head to be smitten off, and his other three fingers to be cut from his hand, and his body to be cast into the river of Tiber, abrogating and disannulling all his decrees; which thing was never done by any man before that day. The cause why so great cruelty was exercised (by the report of Nauclerus) was this: because that Formosus had been an adversary to Stephen and Sergius, when they sued to be made bishops.
This kind of cruelty, unheard of before, the popes awhile exercised one against another. But now, or ever they had sufficiently felt the smart thereof themselves, they had turned the same upon our necks. Wherefore it was to be wished that, seeing it began among them, it might have remained still with the authors thereof, and not have been spread over thence unto us. But such was the nature of all evil, that it quickly passeth into example, for others to do the like. For about the year of our Lord 1400 , John Wickliffe was in like manner digged up, and burnt into ashes, and thrown into a brook that runneth by the town where he was buried. Of the which self-same sauce tasted also William Tracy of Gloucester, a man of a worshipful house, because he had written in his last will that he should be saved only by faith in Jesus Christ, and that there needed not the help of any man thereto, whether he were in heaven or in earth; and therefore bequeathed no legacy to that purpose, as all other men were accustomed to do. This deed was done sithens we may remember, about the twenty-second year of the reign of king Henry the eighth, in the year of our Lord 1530.
Now, seeing they extended such cruelty to the dead, he said, it was an easy matter to conjecture what they would do to the living. Whereof we had sufficient trial by the examples of our own men, these few years past. And if we would take the pains to peruse things done somewhat longer ago, we might find notable matters out of our own chronicles. Howbeit it was sufficient, for the manifest demonstration of that matter, to declare the beastly butchery of the French king, executed upon the Waldenses at Cabrier and the places near thereabout, by his captain Miner, about the year of our Lord 1545; than the which there was never thing read of more cruelty done, no, not even of the barbarous pagans. And yet for all that, when divers had shewed their uttermost cruelty both against these and many others, they were so far from their purpose in extinguishing the light of the gospel, which they endeavoured to suppress, that it increased daily more and more. The which thing Charles the fifth, (than whom all christendom had not a more prudent prince, nor the church of Christ almost a sorer enemy,) easily perceived; and therefore, when he had in his hand Luther dead, and Melancthon and Pomeran with certain other preachers of the gospel alive, he not only determined not anything extremely against them, nor violated their graves, but also entreating them gently sent them away, not so much as once forbidding them to publish openly the doctrine that they professed. For it is the nature of Christ's church, that the more that tyrants spurn against it, the more it increaseth and flourisheth. A notable proof assuredly of the providence and pleasure of God in sowing the gospel, was that coming of the Bohemians unto us, to the intent to hear Wickliffe, of whom we spake before, who at that time read openly at Oxford ; and also the going of our men to the said Bohemians, when persecution was raised against us. But much more notable was it, that we had seen come to pass in these our days; that the Spaniards, sent for into this realm of purpose to suppress the gospel, as soon as they were returned home, replenished many parts of their country with the same truth of religion, to the which before they were utter enemies. By the which examples it might evidently be perceived, that the princes of this world labour in vain to overthrow it, considering how the mercy of God hath sown it abroad, not only in those countries that we spake of, but also in France, Pole, Scotland, and almost all the rest of Europe. For it is said, that some parts of Italy, (although it be under the pope's nose,) yet do they of late incline to the knowledge of the heavenly truth. Wherefore sufficient argument and proof might be taken by the success and increasement thereof, to make us believe that this doctrine is sent us from heaven, unless we will wilfully be blinded. And if there were any that desired to be persuaded more at large in the matter, he might advisedly consider the voyage that the emperor and the pope with both their powers together made jointly against the Bohemians; in the which the emperor took such an unworthy repulse of so small a handful of his enemies, that he never almost in all his life took the like dishonour in any place. Hereof also might be an especial example that death of Henry, king of France, who the same day that he had purposed to persecute the church of Christ, and to have burned certain of his guard, whom he had in prison for religion, at whose execution he had promised to have been himself in proper person, in the midst of his triumph, at a