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But far as Wycliffe's confessions must have
been, from affording satisfaction to his judges; Perplexi, it is easy to conceive that no little difficulty would judges. be felt, in adjusting the measures to be adopted
concerning him. It was known that he had acquired no mean place in the affections of the people, and that many of the learned and of the powerful had shewn themselves disposed to venerate bis character. But from this period, and by virtue of letters obtained from the king, his connexion with Oxford was dissolved.18 This, however, was not until the seeds of his doctrine had been there sown with sufficient profusion, to
“ faith, that the white thing and round that the priest consecrates like
Thus also he is continually expressing himself in his homilies. In that on Ephes. iv. he thus writes, “ Christ saith, and saints after, that " the host which is sacred is verily Christ's own body in form of bread, " as christian men believe, and neither an accident without a subject,
nor nought as heretics say. An error in understanding holy writ hath
brought in this heresy.” Again, on 1 Thessalonians, c. iv. “ Would “ God that men took heed to the speech of Paul in this place, both to “ hold virtues and to flee heresies, for both are needful to men. Then
men should hear God's word gladly, and despise fables, and err not “ in the sacred host, but grant that it is both things, both bread and “ God's body.” Thus also, is the discourse on the tenth chapter in the 1 Corinthians, noticing the evangelical meaning given by the apostle to the rock of the wilderness as a figure of Christ, he exclaims, " and “ would God that heretics, in the matter of the sacred host, understood " these subtle words to the intent of the Holy Ghost, then should they “ not fear to grant that this bread is God's body.” 13 Fox. Acts, &c.
defy every subsequent effort to remove them. CHAP. Sustained by the same benevolent providence, the reformer continued to be known as the rector of Lutterworth; and to effect a wider diffusion of his principles by means of his writings, we find him labouring with an industry which would seem to increase with his years and infirmities.''
It is about this period that Wycliffe was sum- He is moned by Urban to appear at Rome, and to cited by answer before the chair of St. Peter, on the tiff. matters imputed to him. His sufferings from paralysis, rendered his taking such a journey impracticable; and had it been otherwise, it would have been no part of wisdom to have exposed himself to a conflict more unequal than that which he was called to encounter nearer home. When the venerable Grossteste ventured to publish his opposition to a particular branch of papal corruption, he chose an indirect method of conveying his reproof.16 'If we except the sins of “ Lucifer and antichrist,” he observes,
" there is not, nor can there be a greater crime, nor any thing more opposed to the doctrine of the gospel, or more odious and abominable in the
sight of Jesus Christ, than to desolate and destroy “ the souls of men by depriving them of the
14 Wood, (189) has taken up the calumny of Wycliffe's having descended to recant his opinions,-a statement which, as Dr. Wordsworth observes, does not accord with what the same writer “ tells us in the
same page, that this confession was encountered by no less than six « several antagonists immediately after its publication.” p. 49. The following are the names of the assailants : William de Berton, who had previously condemned the doctrine of Wycliffe, and repeats his anathema on this document; John Tyssington; Thomas Winterton; John Welleys ; Ughtred Bolton; Simon Southry; all, with the exception of Berton, being either monks or friars. 25 See Appendix, No. 8.
16 Paris, 870.
ministry and the spiritual aid of their pastors. “ It is impossible, therefore, that the holy apos“ tolic see, which has received its power from the “ Lord Jesus Christ, for edification and not for
destruction, can be guilty of such a crime, or any thing approaching to it, so hateful to God,
so injurious to man. This would be a most “ manifest corruption of its authority, the for“ feiture of all its glory, and the means of plung
ing it into the pains of hell.” The bishop of Lincoln, however, well knew that the sins which he so forcibly condemns, were the daily practice of the pontiffs. Wycliffe, who was not unacquainted with the memorable remonstrance of this prelate, appears to have made it the model of his own address to the same power, but glances more widely over the features of its degeneracy, speaks with more plainness of the necessity of
reformation, and also as to the principles which His reply: should lead to it. He begins his letter by ob
serving, “ I have joyfully to tell the belief which “ I hold, and always to the pope. For I suppose, “ that if my faith be right and given of God, the
pope will gladly preserve it, and that if my “ faith be error, the pope will wisely amend it.” From this introduction he proceeds to declare his faith in the supreme authority of the scriptures, and his determination to follow the pontiff himself, but as he shall be found to follow the Author of the gospel. Describing “ of Christ” as a “part of the body of God's “ law,” he thus proceeds. For I believe that “ Jesus Christ, who gave in his own person this gospel, is very God, and very man, and that
“ the gospel
“ for this reason it passes all other laws. I sup
pose over this that the pope is most obliged to w “ the keeping of the gospel among all men who “ here live, for the pope is the highest vicar that “ Christ has here on earth. But the greatness “ of Christ's vicars is not measured by worldly
greatness, but by this, that this same vicar “ follows Christ most in virtuous living, for thus “ teaches the gospel. That this is the judgment “ of Christ and his apostles, I take as a part of
faith, since Christ, during the time that he “ walked here, was the most poor of all men “ both in spirit and in possession, for Christ says, “ that he had no where for to rest his head. “ And beside this, I take as a part of faith, that
no man should follow the pope, no, nor any “ saint that is now in heaven, but inasmuch as “ he followed Christ; for James and John erred, “ and Peter and Paul sinned.” If this assertion of religious independence would offend, the following statement would be equally unwelcome.
This,” he observes, “I take as wholesome “ counsel, that the pope should leave his worldly
lordship to worldly lords, as Christ enjoins him; “ and that he should speedily move all his clerks “ to do so, for thus did Christ, and taught his
disciples thus, until the fiend had blinded this “ world.” He concludes with his usual expression of willingness to retract his opinions, should they be proved erroneous; and by stating, that as the providence of the Redeemer was plainly opposed to his visiting Rome, he trusts the pontiff will not shew himself to be indeed antichrist, by insisting on a compliance with his pleasure on that point.
STATE OF THE REFORMFD DOCTRINE ON THE CONTINENT DURING THE AGE OF
WYCLIFFE-CAUSES OF THE PROTECTION FREQUENTLY AFFORDED TO ITS
DISCIPLES BY THE SECULAR NOBILITY PROBABLE MOTIVES OF THE DUKE
OF LANCASTER ÎN PATRONIZING WYCLIFFE-THE REFORMER IS FAVORED BY
THE DUKE OF GLOUCESTER, AND THE QUEEN MOTHER--ANNE OF BOHEMIA
INFLUENCE OF POETRY ON THE REFORMATION OF THE CHURCH
the reformed doctrine
WHILE the rector of Lutterworth was thus em
ployed, in diffusing the principles of spiritual State of freedom through this once vassal kingdom ; the
descendants of the Vaudois and Albigenses, had
so far increased in several provinces of the concontinent tinent, as to begin to assume something of their the age of former character. The secrecy to which their Wycliffe.
opinions and practices had been consigned, as affording their only hope of security from the return of persecution, was less cautiously observed ; and their names in consequence occur with greater frequency in the bulls of the pontiffs, and in the decrees of clerical assemblies. Germany, from the period in which it owned the authority of its apostle, St. Boniface, had frequently yielded an asylum to the fugitive Vaudois. When the penalty of exile, was imposed on Peter Waldo and his followers; the states to which our countryman had been the first to announce the message of the gospel, became the residence of the greater