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disgracer of students bred in learning: HONOURER,giving due respect to all men of merit : DISGRACER, who, by his mere natural parts and experience, acquired that perfection of invention, expression, and judgment, to which those who make learning their sole study do never arrive.
It was a gift, I confess, better proportioned to your dignity than my deserts, too great, not for your Honour to bestow, but for me to receive. And thus hath God, by your bounty, equivalently restored unto me what “ the locusts and the palmer-worm, &c. have devoured;" so that now I envy not the pope's Vatican for the numerousness of books, and variety of editions, therein; enough for use being as good as store for state, or superfluity for magnificence. However, hereafter I shall behold myself under no other notion than as your lordship's library-keeper, and conceive it my duty, not only to see your books dried and rubbed, to rout those moths which would quarter therein, but also to peruse, study, and digest them, so that I may present your Honour with some choice collections out of the same, as this ensuing History is for the main extracted thence, on which account I humbly request your acceptance thereof; whereby you shall engage my daily prayers for your happiness, and the happiness of your most noble consort.
I have read how a Roman orator, making a speech at the funeral of his deceased mother-in-law, affirmed, that he had never been reconciled unto her for many years. Now, whilst his ignorant auditors condemned their mutual vindictiveness, the wiser sort admired and commended their peaceable dispositions,—because there never happened the least difference between them needing an agreement; as that bone cannot be set which was never broken. On which account, that never any reconciliation may be between yourself and other self, is the desire of Your Honour's most bounden beadsman,
CHURCH HISTORY OF BRITAIN.
THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
1. Poor Professors still preserved by God's Providence.
A.D. 1501. 17 Henry VII. God hath always been ambitious to preserve and prefer little things. The Jews “the least” of all nations ; David their king, “ least in his father's family; “ little” Benjamin the ruler ;
· “ little” hill of Hermon ; the virgin Mary, “the lowliness" of thy
" handmaiden. God's children, severally, are styled his "little ones,” and collectively make up but a “little Rock.” And, surely, it renders the work of grace more visible and conspicuous, when the object can claim nothing as due to itself. A pregnant proof hereof we have in Divine Providence at this time preserving the inconsiderable pittance of faithful professors against most powerful opposition. This handful of men were tied to very hard duty, being constantly to stand sentinels against an army of enemies, till God sent Luther to relieve them ; and the work was made lighter, with more hands to do it, as in the sequel of our story, God willing, will appear. Mean time we must remember that Henry Dean succeeded in the place of archbishop Morton, lately deceased, and enjoyed his honour but two years, then leaving it to William Warham, one well qualified with learning and discretion. 2. Some burned, some branded, for the Profession of the Truth.
A.D. 1506. Now, it is no small praise to Buckinghamshire, that, being one of the lesser counties of England, it had more martyrs and confessors in it, before the time of Luther, than all the kingdom besides ; where William Tylsworth was burned at Amersham, (the rendezvous of God's children in those days,) and Joan his only
daughter and a faithful woman was compelled with her own hands to set fire to her dear father.* At the same time sixty professors and above did bear faggots for their penance, and were enjoined to wear on their right sleeves, for some years after, a square piece of cloth, as a disgrace to themselves, and a difference from others. But, what is most remarkable, a new punishment was now found out of branding them in the cheek. The manner thus : Their necks were tied fast to a post with towels, and their hands holden that they might not stir; and so the hot iron was put to their cheeks. It is not certain whether branded with L for Lollard, or H for Heretic, or whether it was only a formless print of iron, yet nevertheless painful : this is sure, that they “ bare in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus," Gal. vi. 17. And, no doubt, they had so well learned our Saviour's precept, that, rather than they would have revenged themselves by unlawful means, to them that smit them on the one cheek they would have turned the other also, Matt. v. 39. Surely, ecclesiastical constitutions did not reach thus far, as to impose any corporal torture: and whether there be any statute of the land that enjoins (not to say permits) such punishments, let the learned in the laws decide. This I am sure, if this was the first time that they fell into this (supposed) heresy, by the law they were only to abjure their errors ; and if it were the second time, upon relapse into the same again, their whole bodies were to be burned. Except any will say, that such as by these bloody laws deserved death were branded only by the favour of William Smith, bishop of Lincoln ; and one may have charity enough to incline him to this belief, when, considering the same William (founder of Brazen-nose College in Oxford) was generally a lover of learning and goodness, and not cruelly disposed of himself. However, some of God's children, though burned, did not dread the fire. And Father Rever, aliàs Reive, though branded at the time, did afterwards suffer at a stake ; so that the brand at the first did but take livery and seisin in his cheek, in token that his whole body should afterwards be in the free and full possession of the fire.
3. The cruel Killing of Thomas Chase. They who desire further information of the number and names of such as suffered about this time, may repair to “the Acts and Monuments" of Mr. Fox. Only Thomas Chase of Amersham must not be here omitted, being barbarously butchered by bloody hands in the prison of Woburn ; who, to cover their cruelty, gave it out that he had hanged himself, and, in colour thereof, caused his body to be buried by the highway's side, where a stake knocked into the grave is the monument generally erected for felons de se. “Fear not those,” saith our Saviour, " who kill the body, and afterwards have no more that they can do." But these men's malice endeavoured to do more ; having killed his body, to murder his memory with slanderous reports, although all in vain. For the prison itself did plead for the innocence of the prisoner herein, being a place so low and little, that he could not stand upright. Besides, the woman that saw his dead body, (a most competent witness in this case,) declared, that he was so loaden with manacles and irons, that he could not well move either hand or foot. But we leave the full discussing and final deciding hereof to Him who makes inquisition for blood, at that day when such things as have been done in secret shall be made manifest.
* Fox's " Acts and Monuments," vol. i. p. 1010. † Ibid. p. 1011,
4. The Pope and King Henry VII. share the Money for
Pardons betwirt them. By this time we may boldly say, that all the arrears of money due to the pope for pardons in the year of jubilee five years since were fully collected, and safely returned to Rome by the officers of his Holiness: the lagging money which was last sent thither came soon enough to be received there. We wish the sellers more honesty, and the buyers more wisdom. Yet we envy Rome this payment the less, because it was the last in this kind she did generally receive out of England. Mean time king Henry VII. did enter common with the pope, * having part allowed to connive at the rest. Thus wbilst pope and prince shared the wool betwixt them, the people were finely fleeced. Indeed, king Henry was so thrifty, (I durst call him covetous, not to say sordid, had he been a private man,) who, knowing what ticklish terms he stood upon, loved a reserve of treasure, as being (besides his claims of conquest, match, and descent) at any time a good title ad corroborandum. And we may the less wonder that this money was so speedily spent by his successor; a great part thereof, being gotten by sin, was spent on sin. Was it then charity or remorse, giving or restoring, that hereupon king Henry VII. founded the rich hospital of the Savoy in the Strand, with the finishing whereof, A.D. 1508, he ended his own life? And it is questionable whether his body lies in more magnificence in that stately and costly tomb and chapel of his own erecting, or whether his memory lives more lastingly in that learned and curious History which the lord Bacon hath written of his reign.
Antig. Brit. in Henrico Denco.
5. Henry VIII. succeedeth his Father. 1. Henry VIII. Henry VIII. his son, succeeded him, one of a beautiful person, and majestic presence, insomuch that his picture in all places is known at the first sight. As for the character of his mind, all the virtues and vices of all his predecessors from the Conquest may seem in him fully represented, both to their kind and degree,-learning, wisdom, valour, magnificence ; cruelty, avarice, fury, and lust ; following his pleasures whilst he was young, and making them come to him when he was old. Many memorable alterations in church and state happened in his age; as, God willing, hereafter shall appear.
6. He marrieth the Relict of his Brother Arthur. A.D. 1509.
On the third day of June he was solemnly married to the lady Catherine dowager, formerly wife to his brother prince Arthur deceased. Two popes took the matter in hand to discuss and decide the lawfulness thereof, Alexander VI. and Pius III. but both died before the business was fully effected.* At last comes pope Julius II. and, by the omnipotency of his dispensation, removed all impediments and obstructions against the laws of God or man hindering or opposing the said marriage. We leave them for the present wedded and bedded together, and twenty years hence shall hear more of this matter; only know, that this marriage was founded in covetous considerations, merely to save money, that the kingdom might not be impoverished by restoring her dowry back again into Spain, though hereupon a greater mass of coin was transported out of the land, though not into Spain, into Italy. Thus such who consult with covetousness in matters of conscience, embracing sinister courses to save charges, will find such thrist to prove expensive at the casting-up of their audit ; however, Divine Providence, overruling all actions to his own glory, so ordered it, that the breakingoff the pope's power, with the banishing of superstition out of England, is at this day the only surviving issue of this marriage.
7, Abjured Lollards wear Faggots. The beginning of this king's reign was but barren (as the latter part thereof, some will say, over-fruitful) with eminent church-passages. And therefore we will spare when we may and be brief in his first, that we may spend when we should in the larger description of his latter, years. Cruelty still continued and increased on the poor Lollards, (as they call them, after abjuration) forced to wear the fashion of a faggot wrought in thread, or painted on their left sleeves, all the days of their lives ; it being death to put on their,
SANDERS De Schismate Anglicano, lib. i. page