« EdellinenJatka »
ingly to keep such volumes without the licence of their diocesan in writing."'
About the same time a committee of bishops, including Archbishop Warham and Bishop Tunstall, was appointed to draw up a list of some of the principal errors contained in the prohibited works of English heretics beyond the sea. The king had heard that "many books in the English tongue containing many detestable errors and damnable opinions, printed in parts beyond the sea," were being brought into England and spread abroad. He was unwilling that "such evil seed sown amongst his people (should) so take root that it might overgrow the corn of the Catholic doctrine before sprung up in the souls of his subjects," and he consequently ordered this examination. This has been done and the errors noted, "albeit many more there be in those books; which books totally do swarm full of heresies and detestable opinions." The books thus examined and noted were eight in number: The Wicked Mammon; the Obedience of Christian man; the Revelation of Antichrist; the Sum of Scripture; the Book of Beggars; the Kalendar of the Prymer; the Prymer, and an Exposition unto the Seventh Chapter of 1 Corinthians. From these some hundreds of propositions were culled which contradicted the plain teaching of the Church in matters of faith and morality. In this condemnation, as the king states in his directions to preachers to publish the same, the commission were unanimous.*
The attack on the traditional teachings of the Church, moreover, was not confined to unimportant points. From the first, high and fundamental doctrines, as it seemed to men in those days, were put in peril. The works sent forth by the advocates of the change speak for themselves, and, when contrasted with those of Luther, leave no room for doubt that they were founded on them, and inspired by the spirit of the leader of the revolt, although, as was
1 Ibid., 72o. * Ibid., p. 727.
inevitable in such circumstances, in particulars the disciples proved themselves in advance of their master. Writing in 1546, Dr. Richard Smythe contrasts the old times, when the faith was respected, with the then state of mental unrest in religious matters. "In our days," he writes, "not a few things, nor of small importance, but (alack the more is the pity) even the chiefest and most weighty matters of our religion and faith are called in question, babbled, talked, and jangled upon (reasoned I cannot nor ought not to call it). These matters in time past (when reason had place and virtue with learning was duly regarded, yea, and vice with insolency was generally detested and abhorred) were held in such reverence and honour, in such esteem and dignity, yea, so received and embraced by all estates, that it was not in any wise sufferable that tag and rag, learned and unlearned, old and young, wise and foolish, boys and wenches, master and man, tinkers and tilers, colliers and cobblers, with other such raskabilia, might at their pleasure rail and jest (for what is it else they now do ?) against everything that is good and virtuous, against all things that are expedient and profitable, not sparing any Sacrament of the Church or ordinance of the same, no matter how laudable, decent, or fitting it has been regarded in times past, or how much it be now accepted by good and Catholic men. In this way, both by preaching and teaching (if it so ought to be called), playing, writing, printing, singing, and (Oh, good Lord!) in how many other ways besides, divers of our age, being their own schoolmasters, or rather scholars of the devil, have not forborne or feared to speak and write against the most excellent and most blessed Sacrament of the Altar, affirming that the said Sacrament is nothing more than a bare figure, and that there is not in the same Sacrament the very body and blood of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, but only a naked sign, a token, a memorial and a remembrance only of the same,
if they take it for so much even and do not call it (as they are wont to do) an idol and very plain idolatry."'
As to the date of the introduction of these heretical views into England, Sir Thomas More entirely agreed with Dr. Smythe, the writer just quoted. He places the growth of these ideas in the circulation of books by Tyndale, Frith, and Barnes, and even as late as 1533, declares that the number of those who had accepted the new teaching was grossly exaggerated. He states his belief that " the realm is not full of heretics, and it has in it but a few, though that few be indeed over many and grown more also by negligence in some part than there has been in some late years past."2 It was, indeed, part of the strategy pursued by the innovators in religion to endeavour to make the movement appear more important than it had any claim to be. It is, writes More, the "policy" of "these heretics who call themselves 'evangelical brethren,'" to make their number appear larger than it is. "Some potheaded apostles they have that wander about the realm into sundry shires, for whom every one has a different name in every shire, and some, peradventure, in corners here and there they bring into the brotherhood. But whether they get any or none they do not hesitate to lie when they come home, and say that more than half of every shire is of their own sect. Boast and brag these blessed brethren never so fast, they feel full well themselves that they be too feeble in what country so ever they be strongest. For if they thought themselves able to meet and match the Catholics they would not, I ween, lie still at rest for three days."
"For in all places where heresies have sprung up hitherto so hath it proved yet. And so negligently might these things be handled, that at length it might happen so here. And verily they look (far as they be yet from the power) for it, and some of them have not hesitated to say this, and some to write it, too. For I read the letter myself which was cast into the palace of the Right Reverend Father in God, Cuthbert, now Bishop of Durham, but then Bishop of London, in which among other bragging word . . . were these words contained: 'There will once come a day.' And out of question that day they long for but also daily look for, and would, if they were not too weak, not fail to find it. And they have the greater hope because . . . they see that it begins to grow into a custom that among good Catholic folk they are suffered to talk unchecked." For good men in their own minds indeed think the Catholic faith so strong that heretics with all their babbling will never be able to vanquish it, "and in this undoubtedly their mind is not only good, but also very true. But they do not look far enough. For as the sea will never surround and overwhelm all the land, and yet has eaten it in many places, and swallowed whole countries up and made many places sea, which sometime were well-inhabited lands, and has lost part of its own possession again in other places, so, though the faith of Christ shall never be overwhelmed with heresy, nor the gate of hell prevail against Christ's Church, yet as in some places it winneth in new peoples, so by negligence in some places the old may be lost."'
1 Richard Smythe, D.D., The assertion and defence of the Sacrament of the Altar, 1546, f. 3.
'English Works, p. 94o.
Sir Thomas More is all for vigilance on the part of the authorities. He likens those who are in power and office to the guardians of a fertile field who are bound to prevent the sowing of tares on their master's land; and the multiplication of evil books and their circulation among the people, cannot, in his opinion, have any other effect than to prevent the fertilisation of the good seed of God's word in the hearts of many. "These new teachers," he says, "despise Christ's Sacraments, which are His holy ordinances and a great part of Christ's New Law and Testament. Who can place less value on His commandments than they who, upon the boldness of faith only, set all good works at naught, and little consider the danger of their evil deeds upon the boldness that a bare faith and slight repentance, without shrift or penance, suffices, and that no vow made to God can bind a man to live chastely or hinder a monk from marriage. All these things, with many pestilent errors beside, these abominable books of Tyndale and his fellows teach us. Of these books of heresies there are so many made within these few years, what by Luther himself and by his fellows, and afterwards by the new sects sprung out of his, which, like the children of Vippara, would now gnaw out their mother's belly, that the bare names of those books were almost enough to make a book. Some of every sort of those books are brought into this realm and kept in 'hucker mucker' by some shrewd masters who keep them for no good. Besides the Latin, French, and German books of which these evil sects have put forth an innumerable number, there are some made in the English tongue. First, Tyndale's English Testament, father of them all by reason of his false translating, and after that, the Five Books of Moses translated by the same man; we need not doubt in what manner and for what purpose. Then you have his Introduction to Saint Paul's Epistle, with which he introduces his readers to a false understanding of Saint Paul, making them believe, among many other heresies, that Saint Paul held that faith only was always sufficient for salvation, and that men's good works were worth nothing and could not deserve thanks or reward in heaven, although they were done in grace. . . . Then we have from Tyndale The Wicked Mammona, by which many a man has been beguiled and brought into many wicked heresies, which in good faith would be to me a matter of no little wonder, for there was never a more foolish frantic book, were it not that the devil is ever
1 English Works, p. 921.