« EdellinenJatka »
another for his tithes, or a parson against a religious place for meddling with his parish, or one place of religion with another upon some such like occasions, or sometime some one religious (order) have had some question and dispute as to the antiquity or seniority of its institution, as (for instance) the Carmelites claim to derive their origin from Elias and Eliseus: and some question has arisen in the Order of Saint Francis between the Observants and the Conventuals (for of the third company, that is to say the Colettines, there are none in this realm). But of all these matters, as far as I have read or remember, there were never in this realm either so very great or so many such (variances) all at once, that it was ever at the time remarked through the realm and spoken of as a great and notable fault of the whole clergy." Particular faults and petty quarrels should not be considered the cause of any great grudge against the clergy at large. "And as it is not in reason that it should be, so in fact it is not so, as may be understood from this :" . . . "if it were the case, then must this grudge of ours against them have been a very old thing, whereas it is indeed neither so great as this man maketh out, nor grown to so great (a pass) as it is, but only even so late as Tyndale's books and Frith's and Friar Barnes' began to go abroad."1
Further, in several places Sir Thomas More emphatically asserts that the talking against the clergy, the hostile feeling towards them, and the dissensions said to exist between them and lay folk generally, were only of very recent origin, and were at worst not very serious. "I have, within these four or five years (for before I heard little talk of such things)," he writes, " been present at such discussions in divers good companies, never talking in earnest thereof (for as yet I thank God that I never heard such talk), but as a pass-time and in the way of familiar talking, I have heard at such times some in hand with prelates and secular
priests and religious persons, and talk of their lives, and their learning, and of their livelihood too, and as to whether they were such, that it were better to have them or not to have them. Then touching their livelihood (it was debated), whether it might be lawfully taken away from them or no; and if it might, whether it were expedient for it to be taken, and if so for what use."1
To this Saint-German replies at length in his Salem and Bizance, and says that Sir Thomas More must have known that the difficulties had their origin long before the rise of the new religious views, and were not in any sense founded upon the opinions of the modern heretics.2 More answers by reasserting his position that "the division is nothing such as this man makes it, and is grown as great as it is only since Tyndale's books and Frith's and Friar Barnes' began to be spread abroad." And in answer to SaintGerman's suggestion that he should look a little more closely into the matter, he says: "Indeed, with better looking thereon I find it somewhat otherwise. For I find the time of such increase as I speak of much shorter than I assigned, and that by a great deal. For it has grown greater" by reason of "the book upon the division," which Saint-German with the best of intentions had circulated among the people.8
Putting one book against the other, it would appear then tolerably certain that the rise of the anti-clerical spirit in England must be dated only just before the dawn of the Reformation, when the popular mind was being stirred up by the new teachers against the clergy. There seems, moreover, no reason to doubt the positive declaration of Sir Thomas More, who had every means of knowing, that the outcry was modern—so modern indeed that it was
1 Ibid., p. 882.
2 Salem and Bizance. A dialogue betwixte two Englishmen, whereof one uas called Salem and the other Bizance. London: Berthelet, 1533, f-S
* English Works, p. 934.
practically unknown only four or five years before 1533, and that it originated undoubtedly from the dissemination of Lutheran views and teaching! 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." 1
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."2 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.8 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." *
In his Apology, Sir Thomas More protested against the
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