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would make people think, but on their side they are as good as the temporality are on theirs.”1
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.”2
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
Ibid., pp. 937, 938. ? A treatise concerning the division, f. 8.
purchased for secular princess the good
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 par
· English Works, p. 880.
dons and to go on pilgrimages, leaving their debts unpaid and restitution unmade which should be done first, and that this was the custom of the spirituality. In this,” says More, “standeth the question.” The point is not whether debts and restitution should be satisfied before all other things, which all will allow, but whether the “multitude of the clergy, that is to say either all but a few, or at least the most part, solicit and labour lay people to do these (voluntary) things rather than pay their debts or make restitution for their wrongs. . . . That the multitude of priests do this, I never heard any honest man for very shame say. For I think it were hard to meet with a priest so wretched, who, were he asked his advice and counsel on that point, would not in so plain a matter, though out of very shame, well and plainly counsel the truth, and if perchance there were found any so shameless as to give contrary counsel, I am very sure they would be by far the fewer, and not as this good man's first book says, the greater part and multitude." What, therefore, More blames so much is, that under pretext of an altogether “untrue report ” the clergy generally are held up to obloquy and their good name slandered. If he thinks that “ I do but mock him to my poor wit, I think it somewhat more civility in some such points as this to mock him a little merrily, than with odious, earnest arguments to discuss matters seriously with him."
In some things even Saint-German considers the outcry raised against the clergy unreasonable. But then, as he truly says, many “work rather upon will than upon reason," and though possessed of great and good zeal are lacking in necessary discretion. Thus some people, seeing the evils that come to the Church from riches, have held the opinion that it was not lawful for the Church to have any possessions.” Others, “taking a more mean way,” have thought that the Church ought not to have “that great abundance that " it has, for this induces a love of riches in churchmen and “hinders, and in a manner strangles, the love of God.” These last would-be reformers of churchmen advocate taking away all that is not necessary. Others again, have gone a step further still, “and because great riches have come to the Church for praying for souls in Purgatory, have affirmed that there is no Purgatory." In the same way such men would be against pardons, pilgrimages, and chantries. They outwardly appear “to rise against all these . ... and to despise them, and yet in their hearts they know and believe that all such things are of themselves right good and profitable, as indeed they are, if they are ordered as they should be.
* Ibid., p. 951.
Sir Thomas More truly says that what is implied in this outcry against the riches of the clergy is that as a body they lead idle, luxurious, if not vicious lives. It is easy enough to talk in this way, but how many men in secular occupations, he asks, would be willing to change ? There might be “ some who would, and gladly would, have become prelates (for I have heard many laymen who would very willingly have been bishops), and there might be found enough to match those that are evil and naughty secular priests, and those too who have run away from the religious life, and these would, and were able to, match them in their own ways were they never so bad. Yet, as the world goes now, it would not be very easy, I ween, to find sufficient to match the good, even though they be as few as some folk would have them to be.”
In the fifteenth chapter of his book on the Division, Saint-German deals specially with the religious life and with what in his opinion people think about it, and about those who had given up their liberty for a life in the cloister. The matter is important, and considerable
| A treatise concerning the division, f. 3.
extracts are necessary fully to understand the position. “ Another cause" of the dislike of the clergy by the laity is to be sought for in the “great laxity and liberty of living that people have seen in religious men. For they say, that though religious men profess obedience and poverty, yet many of them have and will have their own will, with plenty of delicate food in such abundance that no obedience or poverty appears in them. For this reason many have said, and yet say to the present day, that religious men have the most pleasant and delicate "life that any men have. And truly, if we behold the holiness and blessed examples of the holy fathers, and of many religious persons that have lived in times past, and of many that now live in these days, we should see right great diversity between them. For many of them, I trow, as great diversity as between heaven and hell.” Then, after quoting the eighteenth chapter of The Following of Christ, he proceeds: “ Thus far goeth the said chapter. But the great pity is that most men say that at the present day many religious men will rather follow their own will than the will of their superior, and that they will neither suffer hunger nor thirst, heat nor cold, nakedness, weariness nor labour, but will have riches, honour, dignities, friends, and worldly acquaintances, the attendance of servants at their commands, pleasure and disports, and that more liberally than temporal men have. Thus, say some, are they fallen from true religion, whereby the devotion of the people is in a manner fallen from them."
“ Nevertheless, I doubt not that there are many right good and virtuous religious persons. God forbid that it should be otherwise. But it is said that there are many evil, and that in such a multitude that those who are good cannot, or will not, see them reformed. And one great cause that hinders reform is this: if the most dissolute person in all the community, and the one who lives most openly against the rules of religion, can use this policy, namely, to extol his (form of) religious life above all