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    WE have seen how widespread was Christianity amongst the common people, the poor, and the despised. The time had now come when it must receive the attention of the nobles, princes, and heads of the nations. This movement began in England.ECE 605.1

    2. In 1365 Pope Urban V demanded that England should pay the one thousand marks tribute which Innocent III had exacted of King John of England, which had not been paid for the last thirty-five years. The demand was accompanied with the intimation that if the king, Edward III, did not make the regular payment of the one thousand marks each year, and all that was due for the thirty-five years back, he would be summoned to Rome “to answer before his liege lord for contumacy.” King Edward assembled the Parliament in 1366, and laid before it Pope Urban’s letter, and asked that they take counsel and decide what answer should be given. The Parliament asked for a day, “to think over the matter.” This was granted; and the next day Parliament assembled to give its answer.ECE 605.2

    3. The first to speak said: “The kingdom of England was won by the sword, and by that sword has been defended. Julius Caesar exacted tribute by force; force gives no perpetual right. Let the pope then gird on his sword, and come and try to exact his tribute by force. I, for one, am ready to resist him.”ECE 605.3

    4. The second said: “He only is entitled to secular tribute who legitimately exercises secular rule, and is able to give secular protection. The pope can not legitimately do either: he is a minister of the gospel, not a temporal ruler. His duty is to give ghostly counsel, not corporal protection. He should follow the example of Christ, who refused all civil dominion: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air their nests, He had not where to lay His head. Let us see that the pope abide within the limits of his spiritual office, where we shall obey him. But if he shall choose to transgress these limits, he must take the consequences. Let us boldly oppose all his claims to civil power.”ECE 605.4

    5. The third said: “The pope calls himself the servant of the servants of God. Very well, he can claim recompense only for service done. But where are the services which he renders to this land? Does he minister to us in spirituals? Does he help us in temporals? Does he not rather greedily drain our treasures, and often for the benefit of our enemies? I give my voice against this tribute.”ECE 606.1

    6. The next one said: “The pope claims to be the suzerain of all estates held by the Church. These estates held in Mortmain amount to one third of the realm. There can not be two suzerains. The pope, therefore, for these estates, is the king’s vassal. He has not done homage for them; he may have incurred forfeiture.”ECE 606.2

    7. The next: “On what grounds was this tribute originally demanded? Was it not for absolving King John, and relieving the kingdom from interdict? But to bestow spiritual benefits for money is sheer simony: it is a piece of ecclesiastical swindling. Let the lords, spiritual and temporal, wash their hands of a transaction so disgraceful. But if it is as feudal superior of the kingdom that the pope demands this tribute, why ask a thousand marks? Why not ask the throne, the soil, the people, of England? If his title be good for these thousand marks, it is good for a great deal more. The pope, on the same principle, may declare the throne vacant, and fill it with whomsoever he pleases.”ECE 606.3

    8. The next: “Pope Urban tells us that all kingdoms are Christ’s, and that he, as His vicar, holds England for Christ. But as the pope is peccable, and may abuse his trust, it appears to me that it were better that we should hold our land directly and alone of Christ.”ECE 606.4

    9. The last: “Let us go at once to the root of this matter: King John had no right to gift away the kingdom of England without the consent of the nation. That consent was never given. The golden seal of the king, and the seals of the few nobles whom John persuaded or coerced to join him in this transaction, do not constitute the national consent. If John gifted his subjects to Innocent like so many chattels, Innocent may come and take his property if he can. We, the people of England, had no voice in the matter. We hold the whole bargain, charter, signature, seal, an absolute nullity from the beginning.”ECE 606.5

    10. The unanimous decision of the Parliament declared: “Forasmuch as neither King John, nor any other king, could bring his realm and kingdom into such thraldom and subjection, but by common assent of Parliament, the which was not given, therefore, that which he did was against his oath at his coronation, besides many other causes. If, therefore, the pope should attempt anything against the king by process, or other matters indeed, the king, with all his subjects, should, with all their force and power resist the same.” 1[Page 607] Wylie’s “History of Protestantism,” book ii, chap 3, pars. 2-7; Milman’s “History of Latin Christianity,” Vol. vii, book xiii, chap 6. par. 19.ECE 607.1

    11. It will be seen that in these speeches there is a general agreement in the repudiation of the temporal power of the pope; also of his infallibility; and, in that, of his being vicar of Christ. There is also a clear idea of the separation of the spiritual and the secular powers. Now the papacy knew exactly where to lay the blame for all this. Though there was in Parliament no defender of the pope’s claim, a monk stood forth to defend his cause. This monk set forth as a fundamental proposition that “as vicar of Christ, the pope is the feudal superior of monarchs, and the lord paramount of their kingdoms.” From this he drew the conclusion that “all sovereigns owe to the pope obedience and tribute; that vassalage was specially due from the English monarch in consequence of the surrender of the kingdom to the pope by John; that Edward had clearly forfeited his throne by the nonpayment of the annual tribute; and finally, that all ecclesiastics, regulars, and seculars, were exempt from the civil jurisdiction, and under no obligation to obey the citation or answer before the tribunal of the magistrate.” Then the monk singled out by name JOHN WICKLIF, and challenged him to disprove these propositions.ECE 607.2

    12. From this it is perfectly plain that the papacy traced directly to Wicklif the responsibility for the arguments made, and the positions taken, by the king and the Parliament. And this was entirely correct. Wicklif, at this particular time, was royal chaplain—“the king’s peculiar clerk.” Six years before this time he had been appointed to the mastership of Balliol College. “This preferment he owed to the fame he had acquired as a scholastic.” About that time also he acquired the degree of Bachelor of Theology, and, as such, gave public lectures in the University of Oxford, on the books of Scripture. As he studied the Scriptures, he saw, in their light, what the papacy really is; and he hesitated not to teach the Word of God as he found it, which, in the very nature of things, exposed to public view the vast difference between Christianity and the papacy. And the abuses and oppressions of the papacy upon the realm of England were then so great, that the nobles, and even the king, were glad to know that in breaking loose from the papal thraldom, they could find support in the Word of God.ECE 607.3

    13. This was the secret of the clear and bold statement of principles, manifestly drawn from the Scriptures, made by the successive speakers in Parliament. For the one great aim of Wicklif, to the day of his death, was to have all people as fully as possible acquainted with the Scriptures. More than this, it is only Wicklif who reported these proceedings of Parliament, which shows that he was present there. And this is how the papacy knew so well who should be challenged to defend against the pope the position of the king and Parliament. The papists knew that these principles were to be traced to Wicklif; that it was his preaching that was responsible for the prevalence of these principles in the Parliament; and therefore, that when they would challenge a defender of the principles, they must call out Wicklif by name.ECE 608.1

    14. Nor did Wicklif in any sense evade the issue. He accepted the challenge, although at that very time there was before the pope an appeal in which he was involved, and he knew that his action here would decide his case there. He said: “Inasmuch as I am the king’s peculiar clerk, I the more willingly undertake the office of defending and counseling that the king exerciseth his just rule in the realm of England when he refuses tribute to the Roman pontiff.” As the grounds of his argument in this defense, he named “the natural rights of men, the laws of the realm of England, and the precepts of Holy Writ.” He declared: “Already a third and more of England is in the hands of the pope. There can not be two temporal sovereigns in one country: either Edward is king or Urban is king. We make our choice. We accept Edward of England and refuse Urban of Rome.”ECE 608.2

    15. Wicklif “made the sacred Scriptures the ultimate standard of all law.” He declared it to be the great problem of Church evolution, to reform everything according to the principles therein contained. “His endeavors to do this procured for him the title of doctor evangelicus.” In the year 1372 he was made doctor of theology; and both by his lectures and his writings, greatly enlarged his evangelical influence. As his knowledge of the Scriptures grew, stronger became the ground which he took against the corruptions of the papacy. In this always his point of special attack was the mendicant monks. In his defense of the kingdom of England against the invasions of the papacy, he objected not only to the extortions practiced by the Roman court, but just as strongly against the practice of having the high offices in the Church of England held by Italians, who were not only unfit for their spiritual calling, but especially because they were ignorant of the language and customs of the country.ECE 609.1

    16. In 1374 Wicklif was one of seven ambassadors who were sent to meet the papacy in a mutual consideration of the matters that had been raised in England with respect to the papacy. Happily for Wicklif this embassy was not obliged to go to Rome: they met the papal representatives at Bruges. This commission was a great benefit to Wicklif, for “he was thus enabled to obtain a more intimate knowledge of the spirit of the Roman chancery, of the corruptions springing from that quarter, and of the intrigues prevailing there; and was led to examine more closely into the rights of the papacy, and to come out more vehemently in opposition to it as the principal cause of corruption in the Church. He came to the conviction that the papacy had not its origin in divine right: that the Church stood in no need of a visible head.ECE 609.2

    17. “He spoke and wrote against the worldly spirit of the papacy, and its hurtful influence. He was wont to call the pope antichrist, ‘the proud worldly priest of Rome,’ ‘the most cursed of clippers and pursekervers [purse-carvers].’ He says in one of his papers, ‘the pope and his collectors draw from our country what should serve for the support of the poor, and many thousand marks from the king’s treasury for sacraments and spiritual things. And certainly though our realm had a huge hill of gold, and no man took therefrom but this proud worldly priest’s collector, in process of time the hill would be spent; for he is ever taking money out of our land, and sends nothing back but God’s curse for his simony, and some accursed clerk of antichrist to rob the land still more for wrongful privileges, or else leave to do God’s will, that [which] men should do without his leave, and buying and selling.’” 2[Page 610] All quotations in this chapter not otherwise credited are from Neander’s “History of the Christian Religion and Church,” Vol. v, sec. ii, part i.ECE 609.3

    18. “It is thus that the wretched beings of this world are estranged from faith, and hope, and charity, and become corrupt in heresy and blasphemy, even worse than heathens. Thus it is that a clerk, a mere collector of pence, who can neither read nor understand a verse in his psalter, nor repeat the commandments of God, bringeth forth a bull of lead, testifying in opposition to the doom of God, and of manifest experience, that he is able to govern many souls. And to act upon this false bull, he will incur costs and labor, and often fight, and get fees, and give much gold out of our land to aliens and enemies; and many are thereby slaughtered by our enemies, to their comfort and our confusion. As much, therefore, as God’s word and the bliss of heaven in the souls of men, are better than earthly goods, so much are these worldly prelates, who withdraw the great debt of holy teaching, worse than thieves; more accursedly sacrilegious than ordinary plunderers, who break into churches, and steal thence chalices, and vestments, and never so much gold.” 3[Page 610] Wylie’s “History of Protestantism,” book ii, chap 9, pars. 17, 18. At that time the revenues of the papacy, taken out of England, were five times the total revenues of the king of England himself.ECE 610.1

    19. Wicklif insisted that the care of the clergy should be only for the good of their flocks; and therefore they should be content to receive from their flocks what might be necessary for the supply of their bodily wants, and no more. He counted it part of the calling of the clergy to stand up for the rights of the poor. He held that whatever was given to the clergy merely for the purpose of ministering to their luxury, was just so much taken from the poor. Thus he was the declared enemy of the begging monks, as they on their part “were the most zealous and the most influential organ of the Roman hierarchy which he attacked. They appeared to him the chief promoters of superstition, of the externalization of religion into forms and ceremonies, of the immoral tendencies made safe and secure by false reliances.”ECE 610.2

    20. In one of his writings entitled: “A Short Rule of Life,” he speaks thus of the minister of religion: “If thou art a priest, and by name a curate, live thou a holy life. Pass other men in holy prayer, holy desire, and holy speaking, in counseling, and teaching the truth. Ever keep the commandments of God, and let His gospel and His praises be ever in thy mouth. Let thy open life thus be a true book, in which the soldier and the layman may learn how to serve God and keep His commandments. For the example of a good life, if it be open and continued, striketh rude men much more than open preaching with the word alone. Have both meat and drink, and clothing; but the remnant give truly to the poor: to those who have freely wrought, but who now may not labor, from feebleness or sickness; and thus thou shalt be a true priest, both to God and to man.”ECE 611.1

    21. Then to the people he said: “Thy second father is thy spiritual father who has special care for thy soul, and thus thou shalt revere him. Thou shalt love him especially before other men; and obey his teaching as far as he teaches God’s will. And thou shalt help, according to thy power, that he may have a reasonable sustenance when he doth well his office. If thy spiritual father fail in his office, by giving evil example, and in ceasing to teach God’s law, thou art bound to have great sorrow on that account, and to tell, meekly and charitably, his fault to him, between thee and him alone.”ECE 611.2

    22. Further of the clergy he said: “Neither prelates nor doctors, priests nor deacons, should hold secular offices; that is, those of chancery, treasury, privy seal, and other such secular offices in the exchequer—more especially while secular men are sufficient to do such offices. Prelates and great religious possessioners are so occupied in heart about worldly lordships and with plans of business, that no habit of devotion, of praying, of thoughtfulness on heavenly things, on the sins of their own heart, or on those of other men, may be preserved; neither may they be found studying and preaching of the gospel, nor visiting or comforting of poor men. They resemble baliffs rather than bishops.”ECE 611.3

    23. The center of all Wicklif’s teaching was the keeping of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. We have already found in his words the instruction to let the life be a true book in which the soldier and the layman may learn how to serve God and keep His commandments. We have read his word: “Ever keep the commandments of God, and let His gospel and His praises be ever in thy mouth.” And by the expression, “the commandments,” he meant specifically the Ten Commandments. One of his very first works as a reformer “was a detailed exposition of the Ten Commandments, in which he contrasted the immoral life prevalent among all ranks, in his time, with what these commandments require.” He himself says that he was “led to do this by the ignorance which most people betrayed of the decalogue; and that it was his design to counteract a tendency which showed greater concern for the opinions of men than for the law of God.” His spiritual insight was so clear that he correctly saw that the whole body of Christian morality is derived from the Ten Commandments.ECE 611.4

    24. He says: “Many think if they give a penny to a pardoner, they shall be forgiven the breaking of all the commandments of God, and therefore they take no heed how they keep them. But I say thee, for certain, though thou have priests and friars to sing for thee, and though thou each day hear many masses, and found chauntries and colleges, and go on pilgrimages all thy life, and give all thy goods to pardoners, all this shall not bring thy soul to heaven. While, if the commandments of God are revered to the end, though neither penny nor half-penny be possessed, there shall be everlasting pardon and the bliss of heaven.” Nor in this keeping of the commandments did he mean in any sense the outward endeavor of a justification by works; for “he ever presupposes the connection of all this with trust on Jesus as the only Saviour, and with the practical imitation of him which such trust implies.” He said: “Before all we are bound to follow Christ. For Christ ever lives near the Father, and is the most ready to intercede for us, imparting Himself to the soul of every wayfaring pilgrim who loves Him. Therefore should no man seek first the mediation of other saints, for He is more ready to help than any one of them. So long as Christ is in heaven the Church hath in Him the best pope. Preachers should set an example to all of walking after Christ; they should be nearest to Christ, and nearest to heaven, and fullest of charity.”ECE 612.1

    25. On the friars he said: “The friars drive the youth from the religion of Christ, in their several Orders, by hypocrisy, falsehood, and theft. For they say, before them [before the youth], that their particular Order is holier than any other, and that they shall take a higher place in the bliss of heaven than others who are not members of it; and that people of their Order will never come to perdition, but will, on the day of judgment, with Christ judge others. And thus they steal away children from fathers and mothers, sometimes such as are incapable of ordination, and sometimes such as, by the commandment of God, are bound to support their elders. Hence they are blasphemers of God, who confidently advise things of a doubtful character, which are, in the Holy Scriptures, neither expressly commanded nor forbidden.” What a moral pestilence these mendicants were may be estimated from the asseveration of the archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland, that “I have in my diocese of Armagh about two thousand persons, who stand condemned by the censures of the Church, denounced every year against murderers, thieves, and such-like malefactors, of all which number scarce fourteen have applied to me or to my clergy for absolution: yet they all receive the sacraments, as others do, because they are absolved, or pretend to be absolved, by friars.” 4[Page 613] Wylie’s “History of Protestantism,” book ii, chap 5, par. 3, note.ECE 613.1

    26. Wicklif proclaimed: “There cometh no pardon but of God. The worst abuses of these friars consist in their pretended confessions, by means of which they affect, with numberless artifices of blasphemy, to purify those whom they confess, and make them clear from all pollution in the eyes of God, setting aside the commandments and satisfaction of our Lord. There is no greater heresy than for a man to believe that he is absolved from his sins if he give money, or if a priest lay his hand on this head, and say that he absolveth thee. Thou must be sorrowful in thy heart, and make amends to God, else God absolveth thee not. May God of His endless mercy destroy the pride, covetousness, hypocrisy, and heresy of this feigned pardoning; and make men busy to keep His commandments, and to set fully their trust in Jesus Christ.ECE 613.2

    27. “I confess that the indulgences of the pope, if they are what they are said to be, are a manifest blasphemy. The friars give a color to this blasphemy by saying that Christ is omnipotent, and that the pope is His plenary vicar, and so possesses in everything the same power as Christ in His humanity. Against this rude blasphemy I have elsewhere inveighed. Neither the pope nor the Lord Jesus Christ can grant dispensations or give indulgences to any man, except as the Deity has eternally determined by His just counsel.”ECE 613.3

    28. He declared that the way of living followed by the friars was not the most perfect imitation of the life of Christ; for Christ by no means bred himself to such kind of poverty. Christ had not asked everybody without distinction to give Him alms, but received from Mary Magdalene and other pious women and men what was necessary for His subsistence. Christ bade His disciples not to take scrip or purse; but both scrip and purse were used by the begging monks for the purposes of conveying home to their monasteries whatever they had begged. Christ directed His disciples rather to consider who were prepared to receive the message of the gospel; and with such they were to eat and drink, and not go about from house to house. He cited the example of Paul, who supported himself and his companions with the labor of his own hands; and sought not to obtain gold nor silver nor apparel from those whom he instructed: thus instructing other teachers by his example, that in times of distress they should do likewise. To these beggars he quoted the Scripture: “If any will not work, neither shall he eat.”ECE 614.1

    29. In 1375 Wicklif became parish priest of Lutterworth, and “labored alternately as teacher of theology at Oxford, and as preacher and curate at Lutterworth.” He held fast the mighty truth that “the highest service that man can arrive at on earth is to preach the Word of God. This service falls peculiarly to priests, and therefore God more straightly demands it of them. Hereby should they produce children to God, and that is the end for which God has wedded the Church. Lovely it might be to have a son that were lord of this world, but fairer much it were to have a son in God, who, as a member of holy Church, shall ascend to heaven! And for this cause Jesus Christ left other works, and occupied himself mostly in preaching; and thus did His apostles, and for this God loved them. As saith the Scripture, ‘Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.’ Luke 11:28. Hence he made the sermon a principal thing in the improvements introduced into public worship, and endeavored to lead the way in this reform by his own example, as well as to encourage the clergy who followed him in their course of training to do the same. And this because the office of preaching “Christ enjoined on His disciples more than any other; by this He conquered the world out of the fiend’s hand. Men who love not the souls, have little love for the bodies, of their neighbors; therefore the work of Christian instruction is the best service that man may do for his brother.”ECE 614.2

    30. Yet his work for mankind was not confined to Christian instruction by preaching only. He took special pains to get the hearts of Christians interested in the works of charity, in bestowing sympathy and relief on the suffering, whether from age, from sickness or from poverty; in providing for all their bodily wants. In his “Exposition of the Ten Commandments” the Christian is instructed “to visit those who are sick, or who are in trouble, especially those whom God hath made needy by age, or by other sickness, as the feeble, the blind, and the lame, who are in poverty. These thou shalt relieve with thy goods, after thy power, and after their need, for thus biddeth the gospel.”ECE 615.1

    31. Against monks excluding themselves in what they called the contemplative life, he declared it a temptation of the great adversary, saying: “Before all we are bound to follow Christ; yet Christ preached the gospel and charged His disciples to do the same. All the prophets and John the Baptist were constrained by love to forsake the desert, renounce the contemplative life, and to preach. Ah, Lord, what cursed spirit of falsehood moveth priests to close themselves within stone walls for all their life, since Christ commanded all His apostles and priests to go into all the world, and to preach the gospel! Certainly they are open fools, and do plainly against the gospel: and if they continue in this error, are accursed of God as perilous deceivers and heretics.”ECE 615.2

    32. The monks cited against him the example of Mary Magdalene, who, by sitting at the feet of Jesus, chose the better part than did Martha, who spent the time in serving. Wicklif answered: “The example might be pertinent if the priests were women, and if no command opposed to a life to solitude could be found in Scripture. From what is usually said respecting the value of the contemplative life, it might be gathered that Christ, when in this world, chose the life least suited to it, and that He has obliged all His priests to forsake the better and take the worse. Prayer is good; but not so good as preaching; and, accordingly, in preaching, and also in praying, in the giving of sacraments, the learning of the law of God, and the rendering of a good example by purity of life—in these should stand the life of a priest.”ECE 615.3

    33. Consistently with this high but truly Christian view of the office of the Christian preacher, Wicklif held that to have preachers only of particular churches was not enough. He therefore sent forth everywhere through the land traveling preachers, because, as he said, “the gospel relates how Jesus went about in the places of the country, both great and small, as in cities and castles, or small towns, and this to teach us to profit generally unto men, and not to forbear to teach to a people because they are few, and our name may not, as a consequence, be great.” These traveling preachers called themselves “poor priests”—the word poor used not as boasting of poverty, but in the sense of “deficient in desirable or essential qualities;” but they soon acquired from the people the name of “Lollards” because of their singing: from lollen or lullen, to sing with a low voice, from lull, and lullaby, to sing to sleep. They were also called by the people, “Bible men,” because of their large use of the Bible. Said Wicklif to these preachers, as they went forth: “If begging friars stroll over the country, preaching the legends of saints and the history of the Trojan War, we must do for God’s glory what they do to fill their wallets, and form a vast itinerant evangelization to convert souls to Jesus Christ. Go and preach: it is the sublimest work; but imitate not the priests whom we see, after the sermon, sitting in the ale-houses, or at the gaming table, or wasting their time in hunting. After your sermon is ended, do you visit the sick, the aged, the poor, the blind, and the lame, and succor them according to your ability.” 5[Page 616] D’Aubigne’s “History of the Reformation,” book xvii, chap 7, par. 6 from end.ECE 616.1

    34. Another reason for this was the corrupt system that then prevailed in the Church, by which no true Christian preacher could find a place where he could be regularly settled and a teacher of the people. Wicklif wrote on the question, “Why Poor Priests Have No Benefices,” saying: “If there be any simple man who desires to live well, and to teach truly the law of God, and despise pride and other sins, both of prelates and other men, he shall be deemed a hypocrite, a new teacher, a heretic, and not suffered to come to any benefice. If in any little poor place he shall live a poor life, he shall be so persecuted and slandered, that he shall be put out by wiles, and imprisoned or burnt.”ECE 616.2

    35. He says that many of the lords who held the power of appointment to benefices, in order to disguise the simony by which the most worthless men obtained high Church livings, pretended that they did not want any money as the price for the place, but simply a present, as for example, “a kerchief for the lady, or a palfrey, or a tun of wine. And when some lords would present a good man, then some ladies are the means of having a dancer presented, or a tripper on tapits, or a hunter, or a hawker, or a wild player of summer gambols.” He declared that the prelates and lords who practiced this collusion were the allies of antichrist; they would not suffer Christ’s disciples to teach His children the law of Christ so as to save their souls. And thus they labor to banish Christ and His law out of His heritage: that is, those souls whom He redeemed, not with corruptible gold and silver, but with the precious blood of His own heart, which He shed on the cross from glowing love.ECE 617.1

    36. “Now it is to escape such sins that some poor priests take no benefices. The poor priests are afraid that if they receive such particular appointments, they shall be withdrawn thereby from better employments, from such as would bring more benefit to the Church. That is what they have to fear more than anything else; for it concerns directly their own persons; for they have received their whole calling from God to help their brethren, that they may get to heaven, by their teaching, their prayers, and their example. And it seems to them that they can most easily fulfill this vocation by a general curacy of Christian love, after the example of Christ and the apostles. By this means also they can easily deliver themselves from danger, and are enabled to give most assistance to their brethren. So now, the poor priests, when persecuted by the clerks of antichrist, can flee without let or hindrance from one city to another, as Christ commanded in the gospel. So also they can best be present at once and lend their aid, according to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, at any spot where they are needed. In this way priests and laymen, free from all strife, will be joined together in love. Thus some poor priests have associated themselves together, for the purpose of following to the utmost the example of Christ and the apostles: of laboring where there is the most need, as long as they still retain the vigor of youth, without condemning other priests who faithfully do their duty.”ECE 617.2

    37. Wicklif realized the danger which he incurred by this faithful conformity to the Christian model of Christ and the apostles. He said that it was “an invention of hypocrisy to hold that martyrdom is no longer possible, because all are Christians. He who declares the truth, which is opposed to their corruption, to satraps [for thus he designated the prelates] shall not escape their deadly hatred, and may therefore die as martyrs. And so we Christians need not visit the heathen for the purpose of converting them and dying as martyrs: but let us but steadfastly preach the law of Christ, even to the imperial satraps, and straightway there shall be a blooming martyrdom, if we hold on in faith and patience. But I know from the evangelical faith, that antichrist with his blows can destroy only the body; but Christ, for whose cause I fight, can destroy both soul and body in hell, and I know that he will suffer nothing to be wanting of that which is most needful for His servants, when he has freely surrendered himself to a terrible death, and permitted all the disciples who were dearest to him to endure severe torments for their own benefit.”ECE 618.1

    38. As to the Church, Wicklif said: “Holy Church is the congregation of just men for whom Christ shed His blood; and not mere stones, and timber, and earthly dross, which the priests of antichrist magnify more than the righteousness of God and the souls of men.” At that time when men spoke of “holy Church,” it was generally held that by this was to be understood the prelates and priests, with the monks, canons, and friars. But of this Wicklif said: “Those people would not reckon as belonging to the Church the secular men of holy Church, though they live never so truly according to God’s law, and die in perfect charity. Nevertheless, all who shall be saved in the bliss of heaven are members of holy Church, and no more.ECE 618.2

    39. “Prelates make many new points of belief, and say it is not enough to believe in Jesus Christ and to be baptized—as Christ says in the Gospel by St. Mark—except a man also believe that the bishop of Rome is the head of holy Church. But certainly no apostle of Jesus Christ ever constrained any man to believe this of himself. And yet they were certain of their salvation in heaven. How, then, should any sinful wretch constrain men to believe that he is head of holy Church, while he knows not whether he shall be saved or lost. The pope is he chief antichrist, for he himself falsely pretends that he is the immediate vicar of Christ, and most resembling Him in life; and consequently, the most humble pilgrim, the poorest man, and the farthest removed from worldly men and worldly things; when, however, the fact generally is, that he stands first in the opposite sin. So long as Christ is in heaven, the Church hath in Him the best pope, and that distance hindereth Him not in doing His deeds; as He promiseth that He is with His always to the end of the world. We dare not put two heads, lest the Church be monstrous. The Head above is therefore alone worthy of confidence.”ECE 618.3

    40. In 1376 the monks gathered from Wicklif’s teaching nineteen propositions which they denounced as heretical, and sent them to the pope to have them condemned. Gregory XI was the pope. However, his enemies did not wait for an answer from the pope before beginning proceedings against him. Feb. 19, 1377, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London set up their court at Lambeth and summoned Wicklif to appear. This created such excitement that a great crowd assembled at the place set for the trial. Wicklif was not allowed to go alone. John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and Lord Henry Percy, earl marshal of England, accompanied him. When they came to the place, the crowd was so dense at the doors that they were compelled to press their way through to the tribunal of the prelates, in “the Chapel of Our Lady” in St. Paul’s Cathedral. The crowd was composed of those who had zealously espoused Wicklif’s cause “as that of a martyr for the truth.”ECE 619.1

    41. Earl Percy was the first to succeed in making his way through the crowd into the presence of the judges. The prelates were offended at his coming before them with so little ceremony, and the bishop of London addressed him: “Percy, if I had known what masteries you would have kept in the Church, I would have stopped you from coming in hither.” The duke of Lancaster answered for Percy: “He shall keep such masteries, though you say nay.” Earl Percy, addressing Wicklif, said: “Sit down, Wicklif, sit down; you have many things to answer to, and have need to repose yourself on a soft seat.” The bishop of London interposed: “He must and shall stand. It is unreasonable that one on his trial before his ordinary should sit.” The duke of Lancaster again spoke: “Lord Percy’s proposal is but reasonable: and as for you, who have grown so arrogant and proud, I will bring down the pride not of you alone, but of all the prelacy in England.” The bishop replied: “My trust is in no friend on earth, but in God.” As this was a direct slur upon the friendship of the duke and the earl to Wicklif, it stirred the anger of the duke. But, by this time, there was considerable confusion, and the only words that could be heard were those of the duke: “Rather than take such words from you, I’ll drag you out of the court by the hair of your head.”ECE 619.2

    42. And now the crowd at the door having caught an idea of what was really occurring at the court, broke down the barriers, and burst into the chapel where the court was held. Further colloquy between the duke and the bishop was thus broken off, and all further procedure as well, was broken up by the clamors and uproar of the crowd that had rushed in and taken possession. Wicklif, all this time, was waiting meekly and quietly for his trial to begin. But now the situation had grown so dangerous to the bishops that they did not dare to attempt to carry proceedings any further against Wicklif. “It was their turn to tremble. Their citation, like a dangerous spell which recoils upon the man who uses it, had evoked a tempest which all their art and authority were not able to allay. To proceed with the trial was out of question. The bishops hastily retreated; Wicklif returned home, ‘and so,’ says one ‘that council, being broken up with scolding and brawling, was dissolved before nine o’clock.’” 6[Page 620] Wylie’s “History of Protestantism,” book ii, chap 7, pars. 7-13.ECE 620.1

    43. May 22, 1377, Gregory wrote a letter to the chancellor and the University of Oxford, in which he reprimanded them for suffering the “pestilential errors” of Wicklif to take root in England “to the disgrace of the Catholic faith;” and commanded them to seize Wicklif and deliver him up to the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London, or to either of them. On the same date he wrote a letter to each of these prelates to examine carefully, but privately, into the doctrine of Wicklif, and if they found it to be as was reported to him, to keep Wicklif carefully and closely confined until further orders. He also instructed them that in case they failed to capture Wicklif, then they should publish an edict summoning him to appear in three months in Rome, at the “tribunal of the apostolic see.” He further instructed them that they should inform the king, the royal family, and the nobles of the kingdom, of the errors taught by Wicklif, and exhort them to the “extirpation of his errors.”ECE 620.2

    44. To the prelates in England the pope inclosed a list of sixteen propositions upon which Wicklif had been accused to him of holding and publicly preaching. Four of these relate to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, and are more scholastic distinctions than expressions of truth, except perhaps the first one: “That the eucharist is not the real body of Christ, but only the figure or representation of it.” Others of the charges are altogether false, having been drawn by Wicklif’s bitter enemies. Others are entirely true, exactly as stated; but as they attacked the supremacy of the pope, they were considered as amongst the chiefest errors that could possibly be expressed. These were: “That the pope has no more authority than any other priest; that the gospel alone is sufficient to direct every Christian; that no ecclesiastic ought to have prisons for punishing delinquents; that excommunications, interdicts, and other ecclesiastical censures, when employed for the temporalities of the Church, are in themselves null; that the sacraments administered by bad priests are null; that those who forbear to preach the Word of God, to perform divine service, or assist at it, on account of any excommunication or interdict, incur thereby excommunication; that the institution of the Mendicant Order is repugnant to the gospel; and that it is encouraging idleness, and therefore sinful to relieve them.” 45. These letters of Gregory were not very favorably received in England, except by the prelates to whom they were addressed. The authorities of the University of Oxford really hesitated a long while as to whether they should receive them at all, or whether they should not reject them with scorn. June 21, 1377, King Edward III died, and was succeeded by his grandson, Richard II, who was but eleven years old. During his minority his uncles, the duke of Lancaster and the duke of Gloucester, the two principal men of the kingdom, were his guardians; and these two nobles, with the earl marshal of the kingdom, Henry Percy, were firm friends to Wicklif and his cause. This was so well known to the prelates, that no one dared to attempt to carry out the pope’s instruction as to exhorting the king to arrest Wicklif and to extirpate his “pestilential errors.”ECE 621.1

    46. Yet the archbishop of Canterbury issued his citation to Wicklif, to appear before his court. “On the appointed day, Wicklif, unaccompanied by either Lancaster or Percy, proceeded to the archiepiscopal chapel at Lambeth. ‘Men expected he should be devoured, being brought into the lions’ den.’” But, though the princes were not with Wicklif, the burgesses took their place. “The assault of Rome had aroused the friends of liberty and truth” in all England. Yet more than this, a higher authority than burgesses or even princes intervened: “The archbishop had scarcely opened the sitting, when Sir Louis Clifford entered the chapel, and forbade the court, on the part of the queen mother, to proceed against the reformer. The bishops were struck with panic fear: ‘They bent their heads,’ says a Roman Catholic historian, ‘like a reed before the wind.’” Before he retired, however, Wicklif handed in a protest in which he said: “In the first place. I resolve with my whole heart, and by the grace of God, to be a sincere Christian; and, while life shall last, to profess and demand the law of Christ so far as I have power.” In attacking Wicklif’s protest, one of the papists said, “Whatever the pope orders should be looked upon as right.” Wicklif answered: “What! The pope may then exclude from the canon of the Scriptures any book that displeases him, and alter the Bible at pleasure.” 7[Page 622] D’Aubigne’s “History of the Reformation,” book xvii, chap 7, par. 14-16.ECE 622.1

    47. In June, 1378, the court sat again, and Wicklif was summoned. Again his friends went with him: and the crowd was there, too. This time, however, a hearing was obtained, and Wicklif had an opportunity to give his own explanation of the points upon which the monks had sent to the pope charges against him. He declared himself submissive to the correction of the church in all cases of detected error. He stated all the points in his own way, with his own intended meaning, the meaning in which they had always been stated, and recanted not a single item. His concluding words were: “Far be it from the Church of Christ that the truth should be condemned because it sounds harshly to sinners or to the ignorant; for then the entire faith of Scripture would be deserving of condemnation.” Wicklif was allowed to go in peace, and “the zealots for the hierarchical party were much dissatisfied with the issue of the cause, and saw in it nothing but a yielding up of their cause on the part of the court, from motives of fear.”ECE 622.2

    48. In 1379 Wicklif fell dangerously sick. His enemies, thinking he was going to die, a deputation of four doctors of theology from the Mendicant Orders, and four senators of the city of Oxford, visited him, “to wish him a restoration to health.” But, since he might die, they considered it proper to “remind him of the many calumnies which the Mendicant Friars had suffered from him; and to admonish him, in view of death, to retract what he had said against them.” Wicklif was too weak even to raise himself up in his bed; but he caused his attendant to lift him to a sitting posture; and then, summoning his remaining strength, he answered the monks: “I shall not die; but live, and ever continue to expose the bad practices of the begging monks.” The monks gathering from this that their ministrations in view of his death were no more needed, retired more uneasy than ever at the prospect before them.ECE 623.1

    49. Wicklif recovered, and the next year was enabled to accomplish the one cherished purpose of his life: to publish the Bible in the English language (1380). For “he felt it to be his duty to make the Bible, which to the laity was an altogether sealed book, and to the clergy of that age one but little known, accessible to all as the common source of faith, by translating it into the vernacular tongue.” But this publication of the Scriptures in the language of the common people, brought upon him fiercer attacks than had anything that he had ever before done. He was attacked from various quarters, because he was “introducing among the multitude a book reserved exclusively for the use of priests. But he steadfastly defended his undertaking and so expressed himself concerning the right and the duty of laymen to draw directly, themselves, from the Word of God, as could not fail to provoke against him still more violent attacks.”ECE 623.2

    50. A certain Henry Knighton who lived at the time, and wrote a history of the period, said: “Master John Wicklif has translated out of Latin into English the gospel which Christ delivered to the clergy and doctors of the Church, that they might administer to the laity and to weaker persons, according to the state of the times and the wants of men, in proportion to the hunger of their souls, and in the way which would be most attractive to them. Thus was the gospel by him laid more open to the laity, and to women who could read, than it had formerly been to the most learned of the clergy; and in this way the gospel pearl is cast abroad, and trodden underfoot of swine.” The monks said: “It is heresy to speak of Holy Scripture in English. Since the Church has approved of the four Gospels, she would have been just as able to reject them and admit others. The Church sanctions and condemns what she pleases.... Learn to believe in the Church rather than in the gospel.” 8[Page 624] Id., chap 7, par.5.ECE 623.3

    51. Wicklif answered: “When so many versions of the Bible have been made, since the beginning of the faith, for the advantage of the Latins, it might surely be allowed to one poor creature of God to convert it into English, for the benefit of Englishmen.” He cited the fact that the venerable Bede and King Alfred had translated the Scriptures into English. He cited the French, the Bohemians, and the Britons who had translated the Bible into their languages; and said: “I can not see why Englishmen should not have the same in their language, unless it be through the unfaithfulness and negligence of the clergy, or because our people are not worthy of so great a blessing and gift of God, in punishment for their ancient sins.” Of those who held it heretical that the Bible should be translated into English, he said: “They would condemn the Holy Ghost, who taught the apostles to speak in divers tongues. The clergy are withholding from the laity those keys of knowledge which have been given to them. They are heretics who affirm that people of the world, and lords, have no need of knowing the law of Christ, but that it is sufficient for them to know only what the priests impart to them orally. Holy Scripture is the faith of the Church, and the more familiar they become with them, in a right believing sense, the better.” His work in thus issuing the Scriptures was so abundantly successful in reaching the people, that a writer of the time declared that “you could not meet two persons on the highway, but one of them was Wicklif’s disciple.” 9[Page 624] Id., chap 7, par.4.ECE 624.1

    52. He censured the clergy for having taken “the liberty to withhold from the laity many things contained in the Scriptures, which are against their own interest: as for example, whatever relates to the obligation of the clergy to follow Christ in poverty and humility. But all laws and doctrines of the prelates are to be received only so far as they are founded on the sacred Scriptures. As all believers must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to give account of the talents committed to them, so all should rightly know these talents and their use, in order that they may know how to render an account of them: for then [in the Judgment] no answer which must be given through a prelate or a steward can be of any avail, but each must answer in his own person. The New Testament is intelligible to all laymen who only do what in them lies to attain to the understanding of it. There is no peculiar sort of preparation, which is possible only to the order of priests, requisite for the understanding of the New Testament. The hungering and thirsting after righteousness is the most important qualification; but, whoever observes gentleness and love, he possesses the true understanding of the Holy Scriptures. It is heresy to affirm that the gospel, with its truth and freedom, does not suffice for the salvation of a Christian, without the ordinances and ceremonies of sinful and ignorant men. Indeed, there is no subtlety in grammar, neither in logic, nor in any other science that can be named, but that it is found in a more excellent degree in the Scriptures.”ECE 624.2

    53. In 1381 Wicklif openly attacked transubstantiation—that one point in which, more than any other, the papacy has supplanted the daily sacrifice and intercession of Christ, with “the daily sacrifice of the mass.” The doctrine of the papacy on this is that the bread and the wine, at the word of the priest, is turned into the very flesh and blood of Christ, so that it is no longer bread nor wine, but flesh and blood. And, since this be so, either is complete flesh and blood: therefore, in administering the wafer only, the flesh and blood of Christ is administered just as really as though both the wafer and the wine were administered. Accordingly to the laity, only the wafer is administered as the eucharist; while the wine is withheld from them.ECE 625.1

    54. But all this system Wicklif declared to be falsehoods, and said: “The author of these falsehoods is not He who spoke, and it stood fast; but rather that lying spirit who spake, and it ceased to be.” The decree of the Lateran Council held by Innocent III was cited against him. But, to this he boldly replied: “Although Innocent may have taught such an insane fiction as the monks affirm, still this can make out nothing against the truth, which is founded on the gospel; for it is from this source that all truth must be derived, and especially that truth which relates to our faith.” He did not presume to undertake to enter into any precise definition of the divine mystery of the Lord’s supper, as a positive doctrine, but left it on its surest ground to the soul of the believer: to be comprehended by the faith of the believer himself. He said: “The right faith of a Christian is this: that this commendable sacrament is bread and body of Christ as true God and true man; and this faith is founded on Christ’s own words in the Gospels. I am certain of the negatives, viz., that the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the doctrine of the accidentibus sine subjecto [accident without a subject], can not be true. I am not certain of the positive side: how it is necessary to conceive the relation of the consecrated bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ.”ECE 625.2

    55. Next Wicklif “presented to the English Parliament a paper, in which he proposed that the king and the realm should obey prelates only so far as, according to the teaching of Scripture, such obedience belonged to the obedience of Christ; because, otherwise, Christ must obey antichrist. For there is no neutral ground between Christ and antichrist. All obedience should be paid solely to Christ; and any act of obedience not paid to him, must therefore be paid to antichrist. ‘He that is not for me is against me.’” This was in the time when one pope reigned at Avignon and another at Rome. Wicklif in his paper proposed that the money of the kingdom of England should not be sent either to the court of Rome or to Avignon; nor yet to any other foreign power, unless it be “proved that men are bound to do so from Holy Scripture.”ECE 626.1

    56. He declared that “neither a cardinal nor any other man had a right to enjoy the fruits of an English Church, unless he duly resided there, or was lawfully employed in prosecuting some affair of the realm, which had been approved by the nobles.” For “he would else not enter in through Christ, but as a disciple of antichrist; and by human ordinances he would plunder the kingdom, like a robber, among the poor under his power, without returning any equivalent for the money obtained. The common weal of the realm should not be burdened with inordinate taxes, until the patrimony with which the clergy was endowed, was exhausted; for that was all property of the poor, to be used for their benefit in the spirit of charity, as it would be, if the clergy lived in the perfection of primitive poverty. The king should employ no bishop or priest in secular affairs: as well king as clergyman would otherwise be Christ’s betrayer. The king should cause no person to be arrested because he remained under excommunication, till it should be proved by the law of God, that he remained justly under excommunication; for many have been excommunicated through haste and imprudence, in cases where, according to the laws of God and the Church, they ought not to have suffered excommunication. To arrest a man when he does his whole duty, is a work of the devil.”ECE 626.2

    57. In November, 1382, Wicklif’s inveterate enemy, former bishop of London, now archbishop of Canterbury, visited Oxford. “Having gathered round him a number of bishops, doctors, priests, students, and laymen, he summoned Wicklif before him.... Weakened by labors, by trials, by that ardent soul which preyed upon his feeble body, he might have refused to appear. But Wicklif, who never feared the face of man, came before them with a good conscience. We may conjecture that there were among the crowd some disciples who felt their hearts burn at the sight of their master; but no outward sign indicated their emotion. The solemn silence of a court of justice had succeeded the shouts of enthusiastic youths. Yet Wicklif did not despair: he raised his venerable hand, and turned to Courtenay with that confident look which had made the regents of Oxford shrink away. Growing wroth against ‘the priests of Baal,’ he reproached them with disseminating error in order to sell their masses. Then he stopped, and uttered these simple and energetic words: ‘The truth shall prevail!’ Having thus spoken, he prepared to leave the court: his enemies dared not say a word; and, like his Divine Master at Nazareth, he passed through the midst of them, and no man ventured to stop him.”—D’Aubigne. 10[Page 627] Id., chap 8, par.11.ECE 627.1

    58. On the papal schism he published a paper in 1382, in which he said: “Trust we in the help of Christ on this point; for He hath begun already to help us graciously, in that He hath clove the head of antichrist and made the two parts fight the one against the other. For it is not doubtful that the sin of the popes, which hath been so long continued, hath brought in this division. Let the rival pontiffs continue to launch their anathemas against each other, or should one of them prevail, in either case a severe wound has been inflicted. Let the emperor and kings lend their assistance in this cause, to maintain God’s law, to recover the heritage of the Church, and to destroy the foul sins of clerks, saving their persons. Thus will peace be established and simony destroyed. And so God would no longer suffer the fiend to reign in only one such priest, but for the sin which they had done, made division among two, so that men, in Christ’s name, may the more easily overcome them both. The pope is not on Christ’s side, who put his soul for the sheep; but on the side of antichrist who putteth many souls for his pride. This man feedeth not the sheep of Christ, as Christ commanded Peter; but spoileth them and slayeth them, and leadeth them many wrong ways.”ECE 627.2

    59. When Popes Urban VI and Clement VII were excommunicating one another, each declaring the other to be antichrist, Wicklif agreed with them both in this. And, of the crusades which each preached against the other, Wicklif reproached them “for using the banner of the cross, that symbol of peace, of grace, and of charity, to lead men on to the destruction of Christians, from love to two false priests, open antichrists, in order to maintain their worldly state, and oppress Christendom. Why is not the proud priest in Rome willing to grant full pardon to all men when they live in peace, charity, and patience, as he grants it to all who will engage in the work of destroying Christians?”ECE 628.1

    60. Urban VI had renewed the summons of Gregory XI, that Wicklif should appear before the tribunal of the pope in Rome. Wicklif published a letter in reply, in which he said: “Believing the gospel as I do, to be the supreme rule, higher than all other laws, I consider the pope as bound above all men to keep this law [he] being the highest representative of Christ on earth. For the greatness of Christ’s representative is not to be measured by the standard of worldly greatness, but by the degree in which a person represents Christ by a virtuous life. I suppose that Christ, during His life on earth, was the poorest of men. No Christian should follow the pope, nor any saint in heaven, except so far as such an one follows Christ. For James and John were in error, and Peter and Paul sinned. Let the pope surrender his secular rule to secular lords, and he will soon induce all his clergy to do the same; for so Christ did and taught His disciples to do, till the evil fiend blinded this world.ECE 628.2

    61. “So far as it depends on me I am ready to go to Rome; but Christ has bidden me do the contrary, and has taught me to obey God rather than man. And I hope of our pope, that he will be no antichrist, nor act in direct contradiction to the will of Christ; for if he cites me against reason, and this unreasonable citation is followed up, then he is an open antichrist. An honest intention did not suffice to excuse Peter, nor prevent Christ from calling him Satan. So, in the present case, a blind intention and bad counsel, will not serve to excuse the pope. But when he requires poor priests to undertake a journey which is beyond their means, this can not be excused by the pious intention, nor so as to prevent his being called antichrist. God takes no man beyond what he is able to bear; why should a man require such a service from another? Therefore, we pray God in behalf of our Pope Urban VI, that His holy purpose of old may not be hindered and frustrated by the fiend. And Christ, who can not lie, says that the fiend of man is in his own house.”ECE 629.1

    62. In 1382 Wicklif had suffered a stroke of paralysis. And Dec. 29, 1384, while conducting service in his church at Lutterworth, he was again stricken and died forty-eight hours afterward, December 31, in his sixty-first year. Under God he began a work, proclaimed truth, and set an example in behalf of Christianity against the papacy, which shall never fade. “Wicklif is the greatest English Reformer: he was in truth the first reformer of Christendom; and to him under God, Britain is indebted for the honor of being the foremost in the attack upon the theocratic system of Gregory VII.... ‘The rising sun of the Reformation,’ for so has Wicklif been called, had appeared above the horizon, and its beams were no more to be extinguished. In vain will thick clouds veil it at times; the distant hilltops of eastern Europe will soon reflect its rays; and its piercing light, increasing in brightness, will pour over all the world, at the hour of the Church’s renovation, floods of knowledge and of light.” 11[Page 629] Id., par. 18 and last.ECE 629.2

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