« AnteriorContinuar »
sity, and the bishops to greater zeal against Wickliffe, occasioned another summons for his appearance before the delegates at Lambeth. He appeared; when the Londoners, now on his side, forced themselves into the chapel, to encourage the doctor.-Willing to give all proper satisfaction, he delivered in a paper, explaining the several conclusions, wherewith he was charged: But, that which procured him an exemption from any harsher sentence, than that of an injunction of silence, (to which little regard was payed) was a message from the King's mother, by Sir Lewis Clifford, to forbid them from proceeding to any definitive sentence against Wickliffe. The delegates were confounded at this message; and as their own historian Walsingham, says, (who is not a little displeased with them for this timidity) "at the wind of a reed shaken, their speech became soft as oil, to the public loss of their own dignity, and the damage of the whole Church! They were struck with such a dread, that you would think them to be as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.'
However, it seems, the fatigues which Wickliffe underwent by attending the delegates, and in the course of this harrassing affair, threw him into a dangerous fit of illness, on his return to Oxford. His old antagonists, the begging friars, sent a solemn deputation to him, upon this occasion, advising him to revoke the errors he had advanced and spread; those especially, which tended to their prejudice: But he raising himself on his pillow, said, with much vivacity,-I shall not die but live, and declare the evil deeds of the Friars. The deputies upon this, retired in confusion, and Wickliffe recovered to make good his promise.
The death of his great enemy,Pope Gregory the XIth, in 1378, gave Wickliffe rest from persecution, and time to open the minds of men, by the disseminating his opinions. The schism too, which happened by the election of two Popes, not only threw the Church into confusion, but afforded Wickliffe and his party a fair occasion to speak freely of the head of the church. He wrote accordingly, a tract, entitled, "Of the schism of the Roman pontiffs:" and being very anxious for a publication of the sacred scriptures, in the vulgar tongue, he now also printed his book," of the truth of the scripture," in which,' he affirms, that the will of God is evidently revealed inthe two Testaments, and contends earnestly for a transla
tion of them. Accordingly his wishes were soon after accomplished: and he lived to see the "first translation of the whole Bible into the English language," published by himself, and his learned associates; for which single work, he deserves ever to be held dear in the memory and estimation of every protestant."
Courtney, bishop of London, who succeeded Simon Sudbury, in the see of Canterbury, was always a great opposer of Wickliffe and his followers: and was preparing to proceed against them with all rigour. But as soon as the parliament met in 1382, Wickliffe presented his appeal to the King and both houses. And it should seem, as if he met with powerful support and protection; for in spite of all the enmity and virulence which were exerted against this heroic confessor, we do not find, that his enemies were able to prevail against him. Anne of Luxemburg, whom the King married in 1382, became a great patroness of him and his doctrines: some of which, though a court appointed by Courtney, condemned them as heretical and erroneous, and who can wonder at this yet they were never able to harm his person: power for the imprisonment and burning of heretics not yet being given to the church, independent of the
It doth not appear that Wickliffe had any thoughts of separating from the Romish church entirely; he appears. only to have wished for a reformation of many gross and grievous abuses then prevailing, and for a demolition of the absolute and spiritual tyranny then exercised by the Pope and his numerous adherents of monks, friars, &c. For we find, that after his retirement from his professorship at Oxford, to his living at Lutterworth, he exercised the duties of his function in the regular way. He had a stroke of the palsy (a disease frequently occasioned by great fatigues and anxiety of mind) in 1384, when the Pope cited him to appear at Rome. He returned a letter of excuse to his holiness, and tells him in it, that "Christ 'taught him more obeishe (obedience) to God than man.' His enemies were sensible that this distemper would soon. put a period to his life, and therefore they permitted him to spend the remainder of his days in tranquillity, after he had been many years exposed to continual danger. He was seized with another violent fit of the palsy on Innocents-day, 1384,'as he was hearing mass in his church of Vol. IX. Churchm. Mag. July, 1805. C Lutterworth,
Lutterworth, when he fell down, never recovered his speech, and soon expired in the sixtieth year of his age.
He wrote and left hehind him many pieces; uncouth indeed to our ears, but elegant and well written for those times. Manyof these are found in different libraries; and their utility is sufficienly proved by the strict injunction given by the priests that no man should read them and by the excommunication, which the Pope threatened againt those, who should even keep any of them in their possession. He is said to have written two hundred volumes, besides his translation of the Bible, a fair copy of which is now in Queen's College library, Oxford, and two more in the university library.
The letters testimonial given by the University of Oxford, and sealed with the common seal, do his character inore honour than all the invidious representations of his many foes do him prejudice. In these it is said, "that his conversation, from his youth to his death, was so praiseworthy and honest in the University, that he never gave any offence, or was aspersed with any mark of infamy, or sinister suspicion: but that in answering, reading, preaching, and determining, he behaved himself laudably, as a valiant champion of the TRUTH, and catholically vanquished by sentiments of holy scripture, all such as by their wilful beggary blasphemed the religion of Christ. That this doctor was not convicted of heretical pravity, or by our prelates delivered to be burnt after his burial. For God forbid that our prelates should have condemned. a man of so great probity for an heretic, who had not his equal in all the University in his writings of logic, philosophy, divinity, morality, and the speculative sciences."
But though our prelates condemned him not, yet the Council of Constance sufficiently shewed what spirit they were of, and what they would have done, by ordering his bones to be taken up and burnt, so many years after, and his ashes to be thrown into the river Swift.
His followers indeed, sometimes called Wickliffites, and more frequently Lollards, felt all the weight of the
*It has been commonly supposed, that this name, which undoubtedly is of German original, was derived from one Walter Lollard, a German reformer. Du Pin and others assert this but a later historian, of much ingenuity, Mosheim, (in his Ecclesiastical History, p. 589. quarto) declares, that upon the strictest inquiry, he could not be satisfied of the truth of this; and gives it as his opinion, that as the religious people, who were called by the name of Lollards in reproach, were remarkable
civil and ecclesiastical arm, combined to destroy them.. Archbishop Chichely, in 1416, set up a kind of inquisition In every parish, to discover and punish the Wickliffites; by which cruel and unchristian method Lord Cobham, amongst many others was burnt for heresy: he was the first nobleman whose blood was shed in England, on account of religion, by popish barbarity. But this prevented not the growth of these opinions, as the present state of the church abundantly proves: nay even in those days, Knyghton, one of their own historians, tells us, "that the number of those who believed in Wickliffe's doctrine, very much increased; and, like suckers growing out of the root of a tree, were multiplied, and every where filled the compass of the kingdom; insomuch that a man could not meet two people on the road, but one of them was a disciple of Wickliffe's. These were, like their master, (continues this prejudiced writer) too eloquent, and too many for other people in all disputes or contentions by word of mouth: being powerful in words, strong in prating, exceeding all in making speeches, and out-talking every body in litigious disputations."
Practical Discourses by THOMAS A KEMPIS, translated by Bishop HORNE..
Against Vain Glory.
1. LET your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven. Let every man be careful to do good works, but let him be as careful not to glory in them, or take the for all charitable offices, particularly attending the sick, and taking care of their funerals, when, according to the German custom, hymns and psalms were always sung: and as upon other occasions, they delighted especially in spiritual songs and hymns, hence they were called by way of derision, Lollards, or Psalm-siugers; for he tells us, that such is the direct signification of the word, derived from the German, lullen, lollen, lallen, with the usual termination hard. Lollen, or Lullen, signifies to sing with a low and sweet voice, and hence says he in English, the phrase, to lull asleep. See the Etymolog. Anglican, of Francis Junius. Mosheim confirms this opinion by many arguments, which the curious will be pleased to read in the original.
praise to himself: lest by snatching at his reward here, ho lose it hereafter. Every good gift cometh down from above, and thither it must be returned by gratitude and praise, while it is used to the glory of GoD, and the edi fication of man. But if it be detained, and employed only in the adorning ourselves, that we may be had in admir ation of the world, we shall find ourselves at the last day, in the company of those whom our Lord thought proper to stigmatize with the appellation of whited sepulchres. What advantageth it us to be applauded by men, while conscience tells us all the while, how little we deserve it? And who would plow, as the prond man doth, for an harvest of shame and everlasting contempt, which must be his portion in the next world, unless he repenteth in this? Foolish are those virgins, who for any good word or work seek after the praise of men. They are only wise, who, fearing always, place a guard of unfeigned humility around the little good which they do, ascribing all their wisdom and strength to God, who worketh in them both to will and to do. They who act otherwise, are thieves; they rob GoD of his glory, and will suffer accordingly.
2. Be not puffed up, O man, because thou hast read and knowest much, or because thou hast been of a long season a professor of the Gospel; but rather mourn, that in so long a season thou hast made no greater progress in the way of godliness, nay and perhaps hast lost the fer vours of thy first love. Notwithstanding, be not therefore swallowed up of overmuch sorrow, nor suffer thyself to be tempted to despair; but rather pray the more humbly and earnestly for the divine assistance, that God would be pleased to renew a right spirit within thee, and give thee once more the joy of his salvation. For as man, in this ever variable state, frequently declines from good to evil, through the corruption of nature, so he may be again brought back from evil to good, by the power of grace. There is not upon earth, saith King Solomon, a just man, who doeth good, and sinneth not. And if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, according to St. John, and the truth is not in us. Let no man therefore put in the plea of innocence, since, as St. James asserteth, in many things we all offend. We offend either knowingly, or through igmorance; maliciously, or through infirmity; through fear, or love; despair, or presumption; levity or custom, or Jukewarmness, and carelessness; we are prevailed upon