Imágenes de páginas

second to encounter the council of Pisa with the council of Lateran; or as lawful a challenge as Mr. Jewel made to confute the pretended catholics by the Fathers: but those things will not excuse the imitation of evil in another. It should be contrariwise with us, as Cæsar said, Nil malo, quam eos similes esse sui, et me mei. But now, Dum de bonis contendimus, de malis consentimus ; while we differ about good things, we resemble in evil.

Surely, if I were asked of these men, who were the more to be blamed, I should percase remember the proverb, that the second blow maketh the fray, and the saying of an obscure fellow ; Qui replicat, multiplicat ; he that replieth, multiplieth. But I would determine the question with this sentence; Alter principium malo dedit, alter modum abstulit; by the one means we have a beginning, and by the other wę shall have none end.

And truly, as I do marvel that some of those preachers which call for reformation, whom I am far from wronging so far as to join them with these scoffers, do not publish some declaration, whereby they may satisfy the world, that they dislike their cause should be thus solicited; so I hope assuredly, that my lords of the clergy have none intelligence with this interlibelling, but do altogether disallow that their credit should be thus defended. For though I observe in one of them many glosses, whereby the man would insinuate himself into their favours, yet I find it to be ordinary, that many pressing and fawning persons

do misconjecture of the humours of men in authority, and many times, Veneri immolant suem, they seek to gratify them with that which they most dislike: for I have great reason to satisfy myself touching the judgment of my lords the bishops in this matter, by that which was written by one of them, which I mentioned before with honour. Nevertheless I note, there is not an indifferent hand carried towards these pamphlets as they deserve; for the one sort flieth in the dark, and the other is uttered openly; wherein I might advise that side out of a wise writer, who hath set it down, that punitis ingeniis gliscit auctoritas.

And indeed we see it ever falleth out, that the forbidden writing is always thought to be certain sparks of a truth that fly up into the faces of those that seek to choke it, and tread it out; whereas a book authorised is thought to be but temporis voces, the language of the time. But in plain truth I do find, to mine understanding, these pamphlets as meet to be suppressed as the other. First, because as the former sort doth deface the government of the Church in the persons of the bishops and prelates, so the other doth lead into contempt the exercises of religion in the persons of sundry preachers; só as it disgraceth an higher matter, though in the meaner person.

Next, I find certain indiscreet and dangerous amplifications, as if the civil government itself of this state had near lost the force of her sinews, and were ready to enter into some convulsion, all things being full of faction and disorder; which is as unjustly acknowledged, as untruly affirmed. I know his meaning is to enforce this irreverent and violent impugning of the government of bishops to be a suspected forerunner of a more general contempt. And I grant there is a sympathy between the estates; but no such matter in the civil policy, as deserveth so dishonouralle a taxation.

To conclude this point : As it were to be wished that these writings had been abortive, and never seen the sun; so the next is, since they be come abroad, that they be censured, by all that have understanding and conscience, as the intemperate extravagancies of some light persons. Yea farther, that men beware, except they mean to adventure to deprive themselves of all sense of religion, and to pave their own hearts, and make them as the high way, how they may be conversant in them, and much more how they delight in that vein; but rather to turn their laughing into blushing, and to be ashamed, as of a short madness, that they have in matters of religion taken their disport and solace.

But this, perchance, is of these faults which will be soonest acknowledged; though I perceive, nevertheless, that there want not some who seek to blanch and excuse it.

But to descend to a sincere view and consideration of the accidents and circumstances of these controversies, wherein either part deserveth blame or imputation, I find generally, in causes of Church matters, that men do offend in some or all of these five points.

The first is, the giving occasion unto the controversies : and also the inconsiderate and ungrounded taking of occasion.

The next is, the extending and multiplying the controversies to a more general opposition or contradiction than appeareth at the first propounding of them, when men's judgments are least partial.

The third is, the passionate and unbrotherly practices and proceedings of both parts towards the persons each of others, for their discredit and suppression.

The fourth is, the courses holden and entertained on either side, for the drawing of their partisans to a more strait union within themselves, which ever importeth a farther distraction of the intire body.

The last is, the undue and inconvenient propounding, publishing, and debating of the controversies. In which point the most palpable error hath been already spoken of, as that, which through the strangeness and freshness of the abuse first offereth itself to the conceits of all men.

Now concerning the occasion of the controversies, it cannot be denied, but that the imperfections in the conversation and government of those which have chief place in the Church, have ever been principal causes and motives of schisms and divisions, For whilst the bishops and governors of the Church continue full of knowledge and good works; whilst they feed the flock indeed; whilst they deal with the secular states in all liberty and resolution, according to the majesty of their calling, and the precious care of souls imposed upon them, so long the Church is situated as it were upon an hill ; no man maketh question of it, or seeketh to depart from it: but when these virtues in the fathers and leaders of the Church have lost their light, and that they wax worldly,


lovers of themselves, and pleasers of men, then men begin to grope for the Church as in the dark; they are in doubt whether they be the successors of the apostles, or of the Pharisees; yea, howsoever they sit in Moses' chair, yet they can never speak, tanquam auctoritatem habentes, as having authority, because they have lost their reputation in the consciences of men, by declining their steps from the way which they trace out to others; so as men had need continually have sounding in their ears this same Nolite exire, go not out; so ready are they to depart from the Church upon every voice. And therefore it is truly noted by one that writeth as a natural man, that the humility of the friars did, for a great time, maintain and bear out the irreligion of bishops and prelates.

For this is the double policy of the spiritual enemy, either by counterfeit holiness of life to establish and authorise errors; or by corruption of manners to discredit and draw in question truth and things law

This concerneth my lords the bishops, unto whom I am witness to myself, that I stand affected as I ought. No contradiction hath supplanted in me the reverence that I owe to their calling; neither hath any detraction or calumny imbased mine opinion of their persons. I know some of them, whose names are most pierced with these accusations, to be men of great virtues ; although the indisposition of the times, and the want of correspondence many ways, is enough to frustrate the best endeavours in the edifying of the Church. And for the rest, generally, I can condemn none. I am no judge of them that belong to so high a Master; neither have I two witnesses. And I know it is truly said of fame, that

Pariter facta, atque infecta canebat. Their taxations arise not all from one coast; they have many and different enemies ready to invent slander, more ready to amplify it, and most ready to believe it. And Magnes mendacii credulitas; credulity is the adamant of lies. But if any be, against whom the Supreme Bishop hath not a few things, but



many things; if any have lost his first love; if any be neither hot nor cold; if any have stumbled too fondly at the threshold, in such sort that he cannot sit well, that entered ill; it is time they return whence they are fallen, and confirm the things that remain.

Great is the weight of this fault; et eorum causa abhorrebant homines a sacrificio Domini : and for their cause did men abhor the adoration of God. But howsoever it be, those which have sought to deface them, and cast contempt upon them, are not to be excused.

It is the precept of Solomon, that the rulers be not reproached; no, not in our thought: but that we draw our very conceit into a modest interpretation of their doings. The holy angel would give no sentence of blasphemy against the common slanderer, but said, Increpet te Dominus, the Lord rebuke thee. The Apostle St. Paul, though against him that did pollute sacred justice with tyrannous violence, did justly denounce the judgment of God, saying, Percutiet te Dominus, the Lord will strike thee; yet in saying paries dealbate, he thought he had gone too far, and retracted it: whereupon a learned father said, ipsum quamvis inane nomen, et umbram sacerdotis expavit.

The ancient councils and synods, as is noted by the ecclesiastical story, when they deprived any bishop, never recorded the offence; but buried it in perpetual silence: only Cham purchased his curse by revealing his father's disgrace; and yet a much greater fault is it to ascend from their person to their calling, and draw that in question. Many good fathers spake rigorously and severely of the unworthiness of bishops; as if presently it did forfeit, and cease their office. One saith, Sacerdotes nominamur, et non sumus, we are called priests, but priests we are not. Another saith, Nisi bonum opus amplectaris, episcopus esse non potes; except thou undertake the good work, thou canst not be a bishop; yet they meant nothing less than to move doubt of their calling or ordination,

The second occasion of controversies, is the nature

« AnteriorContinuar »