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practically unknown only four or five years before 1533, and that it originated undoubtedly from the dissemination of Lutheran views and teachings by Tyndale and others. It is useful to examine well into the grounds upon which this anti-clerical campaign was conducted, and to note the chief causes of objection to the clergy which are found set forth by Saint-German in his books. In the first place: "Some say," he writes, that priests and religious "keep not the perfection of their order," and do not set that good example to the people "they should do." Some also work for "their own honour, and call it the honour of God, and rather covet to have rule over the people than to profit the people." Others think more about their " bodily ease and worldly wealth and meat and drink," and the like, even more than lay people do. Others, again, serve God "for worldly motives, to obtain the praise of men, to enrich themselves and the like, and not from any great love of God."
Such is the first division of the general accusations which Saint-German states were popularly made against the clergy in 1532. Against these may be usefully set Sir Thomas More's examination of the charges, and his own opinion as to the state of the clergy. In his previous works he had, he says, forborne to use words unpleasant either to the clergy or laity about themselves, though he had "confessed what is true, namely, that neither were faultless." But what had offended "these blessed brethren," the English followers of Luther, was that "I have not hesitated to say, what I also take for the very truth, that as this realm of England has, God be thanked, as good and praiseworthy a temporality, number for number, as any other Christian country of equal number has had, so has it had also, number for number, compared with any other realm of no greater number in Christendom, as good and as commendable a clergy. In both there have never been wanting plenty of those who have always been 'naught'; but their faults have ever been their own and should not be imputed to the whole body, neither in the spirituality nor temporality."'
Turning to the special accusation made by Saint-German that ecclesiastics " do not keep the perfection of their order," More grants that this may " not be much untrue." For "Man's duty to God is so great that very few serve Him as they should do." ..." But, I suppose, they keep it now at this day much after such a good metely manner as they did in the years before, during which this division was never dreamed of, and therefore those who say this is the cause have need to go seek some other."' To the second point his reply is equally clear. It is true, More thinks, that some ecclesiastics do look perhaps to their own honour and profit, but, he asks, "were there never any such till so lately as the beginning of this division, or are all of them like this now?" No doubt there are some such, and " I pray God that when any new ones shall come they may prove no worse. For of these, if they wax not worse before they die, those who shall live after them may, in my mind, be bold to say that England had not their betters any time these forty years, and I dare go for a good way beyond this too. But this is more than twenty years, and ten before this division "(between the clergy and laity) was heard of." Further, as far as his own opinion goes, although there may be, and probably are, some priests and religious whom the world accounts good and virtuous, who are yet at heart evil-minded, this is no reason to despise or condemn the whole order. Equally certain is it that besides such there are "many very virtuous, holy men indeed, whose holiness and prayer have been, I verily believe, one great special cause that God has so long held His hand from letting some heavier stroke fall on the necks of those whether in the spirituality or temporality who are naught and care not."4
In his Apology, Sir Thomas More protested against the
1 Ibid., p. 87o. * Ibid., p. 877. 'Ibid., p. 877- • Ibid., p. 878.
author of the work on the Division translating a passage from the Latin of John Gerson, about the evil lives of priests; and on Saint-German excusing himself in his second book, More returns to the point in The Debellation of Salem and Bizance. More had pleaded that his opponent had dragged the faults of the clergy into light rather than those of the laity, because if the priests led good lives, as St. John Chrysostom had said, the whole Church would be in a good state; "and if they were corrupt, the faith and virtue of the people fades also and vanishes away." "Surely, good readers," exclaims More, "I like these words well." They are very good, and they "prove the matter right well, and very true is it, nor did I ever say the contrary, but have in my Apology plainly said the same: that every fault in a spiritual man is, by the difference of the person, far worse and more odious to God and man than if it were in a temporal man." And indeed the saying of St. Chrysostom "were in part the very cause that made me write against his (i.e. Saint-German's) book. For assuredly, as St. Chrysostom says: ' If the priesthood be corrupt, the faith and virtue of the people fades and vanishes away.' This is without any question very true, for though St. Chrysostom had never said it, our Saviour says as much himself. 'Ye are (saith He to the clergy) the salt of the earth.' . . . But, I say, since the priesthood is corrupted it must needs follow that the faith and virtue of the people fades and vanishes away, and on Christ's words it must follow that, if the spirituality be nought, the temporality must needs be worse than they. I, upon this, conclude on the other side against this 'Pacifier's' book, that since this realm has (as God be thanked indeed it has) as good and as faithful a temporality (though there be a few false brethren in a great multitude of true Catholic men) as any other Christian country of equal size has, it must needs, I say, follow that the clergy (though it have some such false evil brethren too) is not so sorely corrupted as the book of Division would make people think, but on their side they are as good as the temporality are on theirs."'
On one special point Saint-German insists very strongly. As it is a matter upon which much has been said, and upon which people are inclined to believe the worst about the pre-Reformation clergy, it may be worth while to give his views at some length, and then take Sir Thomas More's opinion also on the subject. It is on the eternal question of the riches of the Church, and the supposed mercenary spirit which pervaded the clergy. "Some lay people say," writes Saint-German, "that however much religious men have disputed amongst themselves as to the pre-eminence of their particular state in all such things as pertain to the maintenance of the worldly honour of the Church and of spiritual men, which they call the honour of God, and in all such things as pertain to the increase of the riches of spiritual men, all, religious or secular, agree as one." For this reason it is found that religious men are much more earnest in trying to induce people to undertake and support such works as produce money for themselves, such as trentals, chantries, obits, pardons, and pilgrimages, than in insisting upon the payments of debts, upon restitution for wrong done, or upon works of mercy "to their neighbours poor and needy—sometimes in extreme necessity."*
Sir Thomas More replies that those who object in this way, object not so much because the trentals, &c, tend to make priests rich, but because they "hate" the things themselves. Indeed, some of these things are not such that they make priests so very rich, in fact, as to induce them to use all endeavour to procure them. The chantries, for example, "though they are many, no one man can make any very great living out of them; and that a priest should have some living of such a mean thing as the chantries commonly are, no good man will find great
1 Ibid., pp. 937, 938. * A treatise concerning the division, f. 8.
fault." As for pilgrimages, " though the shrines are well garnished, and the chapel well hanged with wax (candles), few men nowadays, I fear, can have much cause to grudge or complain of the great offerings required from them. Those men make the most ado who offer nothing at all." And with regard to "pardons," it should be remembered that they were procured often "by the good faithful devotion of virtuous secular princes, as was the great pardon purchased for Westminster and the Savoy" by Henry VII. "And in good faith I never yet perceived," he said, "that people make such great offerings at a pardon that we should either much pity their expense or envy the priests that profit."
"But then the trentals! Lo, they are the things, as you well know, by which the multitude of the clergy, and specially the prelates, all get an infinite treasure each year." For himself, Sir Thomas More hopes and "beseeches God to keep men devoted to the trentals and obits too." But where this "Pacifier" asserts that "some say that all spiritual men as a body induce people to pilgrimages, pardons, chantries, obits, and trentals, rather than to the payment of their debts, or to restitution of their wrongs, or to deeds of mercy to their neighbours that are poor and needy, and sometimes in extreme necessity, for my part, I thank God," he says, " that I never heard yet of any one who ever would give that counsel, and no more has this 'Pacifier' himself, for he says it only under his common figure of ' some say.'"'
In his second reply, More returns to the same subject. Saint-German speaks much, he says, about "restitution." This, should there be need, no reasonable man would object to. "But now the matter standeth all in this way: this man talks as if the spirituality were very busy to procure men and induce people (generally) to give money for trentals, to found chantries and obits, to obtain par1 English Works, p. 88o.