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"And sure if any benefit or alms, done to one of Christ's poor folk for His sake, be reputed and accepted by His high goodness, as done unto Himself: and if whosoever receiveth one of His apostles or disciples receives Himself, every wise man may well think that in like manner he who honours His holy saints for His sake, honours Himself, except these heretics think that God were as envious as they are themselves, and that He would be wroth to have any honour done to any other, though it thereby redoundeth unto Himself. In this matter our Saviour Christ clearly declares the contrary, for He shows Himself so well content that His holy saints shall be partakers of His honour that He promises His apostles that at the dreadful doom (when He shall come in His high majesty) they shall have their honourable seats and sit with Himself upon the judgment of the world. Christ also promised that St. Mary Magdalene should be worshipped through the world and have here an honourable remembrance because she bestowed that precious ointment upon His holy head. When I consider this thing it makes me marvel at the madness of these heretics that bark against the old ancient customs of Christ's church, mocking at the setting up of candles, and with foolish facetiousness (fallacies) and blasphemous mockery demand whether God and His saints lack light, or whether it be night with them that they cannot see without a candle. They might as well ask what good did that ointment do to Christ's head? But the heretics grudge the cost now as their brother Judas did then, and say it were better spent on alms upon a poor folk, and thus say many of them who can neither find in their heart to spend on the one nor the other. And some spend sometimes on the one for no other intent but the more boldly to rebuke against and rail against the other."
After pointing out how riches were lavished on the temple by God's special ordinance, Sir Thomas More continues: "If men will say that the money were better spent among poor folk by whom He (i.e. God) setteth more store as the living temples of the Holy Ghost made by His own hand than by the temples of stone made by the hand of men, this would perhaps be true if there were so little to do it with that we should be driven by necessity to leave the one undone. But God gives enough for both, and gives divers men divers kinds of devotion, and all to His pleasure. Luther, in a sermon of his, wished that he had in his hand all the pieces of the holy cross, and said if he had he would throw them where the sun should never shine on them. And for what worshipful reason would the wretch do such villainy to the cross of Christ? Because, as he says, there is so much gold now bestowed on the garnishing of the pieces of the cross that there is none left for poor folks. Is not this a high reason? As though all the gold that is now bestowed about the pieces of the holy cross would not have failed to be given to poor men if they had not been bestowed on the garnishing of the cross; and as though there was nothing lost except what is bestowed about Christ's cross. Take all the gold that is spent about all the pieces of Christ's cross through Christendom (albeit many a good Christian prince and other godly people have honourably garnished many pieces of it), yet if all the gold were gathered together it would appear a poor portion in comparison with the gold that is bestowed upon cups—what do we speak of cups for? in which the gold, though it is not given to poor men, is saved, and may be given in alms when men will, which they never will; how small a portion, ween we, were the gold about all the pieces of Christ's cross, if it were compared with the gold that is quite cast away about the gilding of knives, swords, &c"
Our author then goes on to put in the mouth of the "objector" the chief reasons those who were then the advocates of the religious changes were urging against pilgrimages to the shrines of saints and to special places of devotion to our Blessed Lady. Protesting that he had, of course, no desire to see the images of the saints treated in any way disrespectfully, the objector declares that "yet to go in pilgrimages to them, or to pray to them, not only seemed vain, considering that (if they can do anything) they can do no more for us among them all than Christ can Himself alone who can do all things, nor are they so ready to hear (if they hear us at all) as Christ that is everywhere." .... Moreover, to go a pilgrimage to one place rather than to another "seems to smell of idolatry," as implying that God was not so powerful in one place as He is in another, and, as it were, making God and His saints "bound to a post, and that post cut out and carved into images. For when we reckon we are better heard by our Lord in Kent than at Cambridge, at the north door of Paul's than at the south door, at one image of our Lady than at another," is it not made plain that we " put our trust and confidence in the image itself, and not in God and our Lady," and think of the image and not of what the image represents.
Further, "men reckon that the clergy gladly favour these ways, and nourish this superstition under the name and colour of devotion, to the peril of people's souls, for the lucre and temporal advantage that they themselves receive from the offerings " (p. 120).
Lest it may be thought that these objections to places of pilgrimage were merely such as Sir Thomas More invented to put into the mouth of the " objector" in order to refute them, the reader may like to have the words of a known advocate of the new ideas. Lancelot Ridley, in his expositions of some of the Epistles, states his views very clearly. "Ignorant people," he writes, "have preferred the saints before God, and put more trust, more confidence, (look for) more help and succour, in a saint than in God. Yea, I fear me that many have put their help and succour in an image made of stone or of wood by men's hand, and have done great honour and reverence to the image, believing that great virtue and great holiness was in that image above other images. Therefore that image must have a velvet coat hanged all over with brooches of silver, and much silver hanged about it and on it, with much light burning before it, and with candles always burning before it. I would no man (should put out the light) in contempt of the saint whose image there is, but I would have this evil opinion out of the simple hearts that they should esteem images after the value they are, and put no more holiness in one image than in another, no more virtue in one than in another. It holds the simple people in great blindness, and makes them put great trust and (esteem) great holiness in images, because one image is called our Lady of Grace, another our Lady of Pity, another our Lady of Succour or Comfort; the Holy Rood of such a place, &c" And this he maintained, though he did not condemn images generally in churches. These he thought useful to remind people of God's saints and their virtues, and "to stir up our dull hearts and slothful minds to God and to goodness." What he objected to chiefly was the special places of pilgrimage and special images to which more than ordinary devotion was shown.1 In another of his Expositions, printed in 1540, Ridley again states his objections to the places of pilgrimage. "Some think," he writes, "that they have some things of God, and other part of saints, of images, and so divide God's glory, part to God and part to an image of wood or of stone made by man's hand. This some ignorant persons have done in times past, and thanked God for
1 Lancelot Rydley. Exposition in the Epistell of Jude. London, Thomas Gybson, 1538, sig. B. v. In sermons and writings, pre-Reforma tion ecclesiastics strove to impress upon the minds of the people the true principles of devotion to shrines and relics of the saints. To take one example beyond what is given above. In The Art of Good Lyvyng and Good Deyng, printed in 1503, the writer says: "We should also honour the places that are holy, and the relics of holy bodies of saints and their images, not for themselves, but for that in seeing them we show honour to what it represents, the dread reverence, honour and love of God, after the intention of Holy Church, otherwise it were idolatry " (fol. 6).
their health and the blessed Lady of Walsingham, of Ipswich, St. Edmund of Bury, Etheldred of Ely, the Lady of Redbourne, the Holy Blood of Hayles, the Holy Rood of Boxley, of Chester, &c, and so other images in this realm to the which have been much pilgrimage and much idolatry, supposing the dead images could have healed them or could have done something for them to God. For this the ignorant have crouched, kneeled, kissed, bobbed and licked the images, giving them coats of cloth, of gold, silver, and of tissue, velvet, damask, and satin, and suffered the living members of Christ to be without a russet coat or a sackcloth to keep them from the cold."1
Again in another place he says that his great objection to images is not that they may not be good in themselves and as a reminder of the holiness of the saints, but that they are used as a means of making money. "Who can tell," he writes, "half the ways they have found to get, yea to extort money from men by images, by pardons, by pilgrimages, by indulgences, &c ... all invented for money." The above passages may be taken as fair samples of the outcry against shrines and pilgrimages raised by the English followers of Luther and the advocates of the religious changes generally. It will be noticed that the ground of the objections was in reality only the same as that which induced them to declare against any honour shown to images, whether of Christ or His saints. There is no suggestion of any special abuses connected with particular shrines and places of pilgrimage, such as is often hinted at by those who refer to Chaucer and Erasmus. In addition to the general ground of objection, the only point raised in regard to pilgrimages by the advocates for their suppression was that money was spent upon them which might have been bestowed more profitably on the poor, and that the clergy were enriched by the offerings made at the shrines visited. Sir Thomas More's
1 A Commentary in Englyshe upon the Ephesians, 1540, sig. A. ii.