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21. However this be, we are told, that “our Bishop's CHAP. opinions, which he had propagated among the common people, by publishing them in English, coming to the Acta Johan.
Whetham of those
who were the more valiant champions stede, &c. “ of the faith, and bolder soldiers of the ecclesiastical MS.
court, they resolved to nip this plague in the bud, and provide themselves of such a remedy, as might effec
tually stop the mouth of him who uttered such perverse " things, and cut off his hand, who wrote things not only “ to be suspected, but which deserved to be burnt. That
going therefore to the Archbishop, the solid hinge and “ stout pillar of the Church of England, they besought “ him, that for the preservation of the ship of faith, now “ in danger of being sunk, his Grace would cause the Bi
shop to be cited, and appoint him the day, hour, and
place to appear before him, to answer those things “ which should be objected to him in a cause of faith."
22. The Archbishop, to satisfy the importunity of these Doctors, &c. ordered the Bishop to be cited to appear before him, and to bring with him the books which he had written and published, against which exceptions had been taken, that so they might be examined, according to a decree made and promulged some time before. This decree was a constitution of Archbishop Arundel's, made A.D. Lyndwood,
Provin. p. 1408; by which it was ordained, that no little book or 285. tract compiled by John Wiclif, or any one else in his time or since, or to be compiled hereafter, shall henceforth be read in the schools, halls, or inns, or in any other places whatsoever, within the province of Canterbury, &c. unless by the University of Oxford or Cambridge, or at least by twelve persons of each University chosen for the purpose, it be first examined, and being unanimously examined by the two Universities, be afterwards expressly approved by the Archbishop, &c. and in the name and by the authority of the University delivered to the stationers u to be copied,
This was the way of publishing books before the invention of printing, or the introduction of it into England.
CHAP. and a faithful collation being made of it, it be sold or
given to those who desire to have its the original for ever remaining in some chest of the University. Whoever acted otherwise was to be punished as a sower of schism
and fautor of heresy, as the quality of the fault required. Lyndwood, The same Archbishop ordained, that nobody hereafter Provin. p.
should by his own authority translate any text of holy Scripture into English, by way of a book, little book, or tract; and that he who acted otherwise should be punished as a fautor of heresy and error. This our canonist Lyndwood understood to mean the applying the text of holy Scripture, and translating it into English, in the compiling any treatise of the sayings of the Doctors, or their own. Now our Bishop's books being many of them written in English, and his Lordship having applied the text of holy Scripture to the several subjects which he treated, translating it into English, an advantage was given to his adversaries against him by these constitutions. For though Lyndwood understands by the words own authority, à man's private judgment, and intimates, that it is otherwise when any text of holy Scripture is so applied and translated into English by the authority of the Bishop, according to which interpretation our Bishop might possibly think himself secure, as being invested with that character; yet still his Lordship had not complied with the directions of the constitution, which ordained that no books should be published, till after they had been examined by twenty-four Doctors of both the Universities, &c.
23. This citation of our Bishop to appear before the Archbishop, and produce the books he had written, in order to their being examined as abovesaid, soon made à great noise; and it was presently published in the pulpits, by such of the Clergy as were prejudiced against the Bishop, at Paul's Cross and elsewhere, that his Lordship had written in the said books certain conclusions contrary to the orthodox faith, and did pertinaciously hold and defend them. Of this the Bishop seems to have complained to the Archbishop as very injurious to his state and good
fame, and an immense grievance of himself and his opin- CHAP. ions. The Archbishop therefore issued forth his mandate, dated at his manor of Lambeth, October 22, 1457, and directed it, “ to all and singular Parsons, Vicars, Chaplains, “ Curates, and not Curates, Clerks, and learned men “ whomsoever, throughout the province of Canterbury, “ commanding and enjoining them publicly and generally “ to admonish all and singular, who would oppose any “thing against the Conclusions of the said Bishop, had or “ contained in his books or writings, freely to appear be“fore the Archbishop, or his commissaries, on the 20th Novem. 11. “ day after this monition made to them by them, where
soever the Archbishop, &c. should then be, in the city, “ diocese, or province of Canterbury, sufficiently and fully “ to propose and allege in writing, whatever heretical or “erroneous things they have to say or propose against the “ conclusions of this kind in the books aforesaid: withal “ commanding them by his authority to inhibit all and “ singular those, who so preach as aforesaid, that they do not presume
in any manner out of court to assert, judge, or preach any thing to the prejudice or scandal of the
aforesaid Lord Bishop Reynold, whilst this affair of the « examination and discussion of his books and conclusions “ before him, or his commissaries, was depending and un“ finished.” This was not only an act of justice to the Bishop, but what was necessary to preserve the power and authority of the Archbishop's court; since if the credit and reputation of men must fall or be condemned by the malice and prejudice of private persons, without their having any opportunity to answer their accusers and defend themselves, as the most innocent cannot possibly be safe, so it must make the judgments of courts or legal sentences of little weight or authority, when private persons thus presume to take the cause out of their superiors' hands, and prejudge for them.
24. The time appointed by this mandate appears to be near the same with that mentioned by Gascoigne, as the time of our Bishop's appearance in the King's council
CHAP. house at Westminster, viz. November 11; which time
likewise is intimated by the attestation of the notary at the end of the copy of the Bishop's book, called the Re
pressour, &c. though by that entry it is affirmed, that the MS. in Bibl. Archbishop was in his chapel at Lambeth, and conse
quently that our Bishop was there to answer to the citation made of him. But indeed Gascoigne does not say that the Bishop appeared in the King's council-chamber
on St. Martin's day, but that about that feast his Lordship tini Episco- was expelled from thence. And elsewhere he tells us, pi, Nov. 11. that the Bishop was cited and admonished by the Archbi
Circa festum S. Mar
shop the Saturday before the octaves of St. Martin, &c. But whether the Bishop was expelled the council before or after his appearance before the Archbishop, it is certain that on the day mentioned before, his Lordship exhibited to the Archbishop in his chapel at Lambeth his books to be examined by the twenty-four Doctors above mentioned, who were to report to his Grace and his assessors or auditors the result of their examination, viz. William Waynflete Bishop of Winchester, John Chedworth Bishop of Lincoln, and John Lowe Bishop of Rochester. Accordingly our Bishop's books were by these Doctors declared to abound with errors and heretical pravity, which sentence of theirs they undertook to prove before the King and his nobles. If this offer of theirs was accepted by the Archbishop, it is not improbable that this was the occasion of the Bishop's being with the lords temporal in the King's council-chamber, as has been said before. But however this be, the Bishop, we are told, excepted to this sentence of the Doctors, as being passed by persons utterly unqualified to judge of such matters. But this exception of his Lordship's was over-ruled by the Archbishop.
25. It is observed, that at this time x whatever differed
* Nunc quæcunque ab scholæ placitis dissident, scholastico theologo sunt hæretica; quod crimen ita vulgatum est ut rebus quoque levissimis impingatur, quum sit ipsum per se atrocissimum. Ludovici Vivis de Disciplina, lib. i,
VIII. c. 14.
from the tenets of the schools was by the school divines CHAP. reckoned heretical, and that this, though the most grievous crime in itself, was made so common, as that it was charged on the smallest matters : that heresy was at first Bishop Stilthe same with renouncing baptism, or turning Jew or the Eccles. Turk, or using sorcery; but that now the ordinaries en
tion, c. 2. larged the notion of heresy, extending it to the denial of whatsoever the Church or Clergy thought fit to determine, and took upon themselves to be sole judges in it: that accordingly the subjects of this realm were by the ordinaries, 25 Henry by suspicion conceived of their own fancy without due accusation or presentment, put in the infamy and slander of heresy; and that “ the act for the punishment of heresy, “ 2 Hen. IV. c. 15. was conceived in such general and “ doubtful expressions, that scarcely the most expert and “ best learned man of the realm, diligently lying in wait
upon himself, could avoid the penalties and dangers of “ the same act and canonical sanctions, if he should be “ examined upon such captious interrogatories, as had “ been accustomed to be ministered by the ordinaries, in “ cases where they would suspect any person of heresy." The like reflection has been made on Archbishop Arundel's constitution in particular, by which our Bishop was condemned, viz. " that it was a net made for the catching, or letting go, whomsoever or whatsoever the ordinaries
pleased.” By this we may see what care the rulers of the Church of Rome took, that their authority should not be in the least disputed.
26. Our Bishop however did not tamely, and without any defence of himself, submit to this sentence and declaration of the Doctors; though what his Lordship’s defence was, we have at present no account. Only it is in- Gascoigne, timated to us, that it gave so little satisfaction to many of Dist
. Theol. the standers-by, that they treated him very roughly for it; particularly George Nevil y, then Bishop elect of Exeter,
y He was brother to the Earl of Salisbury, and promoted to the see of Exeter by Papal provision, A. D. 1456, when he was not above twenty-three years old, on condition he should not be consecrated till he was twenty-seven. 'But