and wrote comments upon them. He demonAtrated the antichriftianity of popery, and the abomination of defolation in the temple of God. He afferted the one true facrifice of Chrift, and oppofed the facrifice of the mafs, tranfubftantiation, the adoration of the hoft, the feven facraments, purgatory, prayers for the dead, the worship of faints and images, and in short all the principal corruptions and fuperftitions of the church of Rome. His fuccefs too was greater than he could have expected. The princes, the people, the univerfity of Oxford, many even of the clergy, favored and fupported him, and embraced his opinions. His enemies have charged him with feveral heterodox notions; but many years ago was pub·lifhed An apology for John Wickliff, fhowing his conformity with the now church of England, &c; collected out of his written works in the Bodleian library by Thomas James keeper of the fame, at Oxford 1608. This truly great and good man died of a palfy the laft day of the year 1387, but his doctrins did not die with him. His books were read in the public schools and colleges at Oxford, and were recommended to the diligent perufal of each student in the univerfity, till they were condemned and prohibited by

hem. ibid. Cap. 6. Leland, Bale, Tanner. &c. &c.

(5) Wal

by the council of Conftance in the next century. His followers the Lollards in the year 1395 presented (5) a remonftrance to the parlament, which contained these with other articles; that when the church of England began to misma→ nage her temporalities in conformity to the precedents of Rome, faith, hope, and charity began to take their leave of her communion; that the English priesthood derived from Rome, and pretending to a power fuperior to angels, is not that priesthood which Christ settled upon his apostles; that injoining celibacy to the clergy was the occafion of fcandalous irregularities in the church; that the pretended miracle of transubstantiation runs the greatest part of christendom upon idolatry; that exorcisms and benedictions pronounced over wine, bread, water, the mitre, the crofs, &c, have more of necromancy than religion in them; that prayer made for the dead is a wrong ground for charity and religious endowments; that pilgrimages, prayers and offerings made to images and croffes, are hear of kin to idolatry; that auricular confeffion makes the priests proud, lets them into the fecrets of the penitent, gives opportunities for intrigues, and is attended with fcandalous confequences,

(5) Walfingham, Stow, Spelman, Collier's Ecclef. Hift. B. 6. P. 596. &c.

(6) Balzi

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


fequences, as well as the doctrin of indulgences; that the vow of fingle life undertaken by wornen in the church of England is the occafion of horrible diforders, &c. Some falfe tenets might be contained in the fame remonstrance; for alas, who is there that holdeth the truth without any mixture or allay of error? They denied the infallibility of the pope, and they could not well pretend to be infallible themselves. Two things contributed much to the revival of learning in the fifteenth century, the Greeks flying with their books from Conftantinople which the Turks had taken, and the invention of printing. As learning more revived, so the truth prevailed more; and the more the truth prevailed, the fury of perfecution increased in -proportion. Wickliff himself had been permitted -to die in peace; but after his death (6) his doctrins were condemned, his books were burnt, his very body was dug up and burnt too, by a decree of the council of Conftance, and the command of pope Martin V, executed by Richard Fleming bishop of Lincoln. His followers however were not difcouraged, and many of them witneffed a good confeffion even unto -death. William Sawtre, parish priest of St. Ofith



[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

(6) Balai Script. Brit. Cent. 6. No 1. H. Wharton in Ap.

pend. ad Cave p. 63. Dupin, Collier, Tanner, &c.

(7) Fox,

Ofith in London, (7) hath the honor of being the first who was burnt for herefy in England; which was done in the reign of Henry IV, at the beginning of this century. A few years afterwards Thomas Badby (8) was convicted of herefy, and alfo ordered to be burnt in Smithfield. Henry prince of Wales was present at his execution: and the poor man showing very fenfible figns of the torment he indured, the prince out of compaffion commanded the fire to be removed, and promised him pardon and a penfion for life, provided he would retract his errors. But Badby being come to himself, refolutely rejected this offer; he chofe rather to die with a good, than to live with an evil confcience; and fo the fire was kindled again, and he was confumed to ashes. In the next .reign Sir John Oldcastle, baron of Cobham, (9) was profecuted for being the principal patron and abetter of the Lollards. Being examined before the archbishop of Canterbury, he declared against tranfubftantiation, penances, the worshipping of the cross, the power of the keys; and afferted that the pope was Antichrift and the head of that body, the bishops were the members,

(7) Fox, Burnet's Hift. of the Ref. B.1. Collier's Ecclef. Hift. B. 7. p. 617. &c. Rapin, &c.

(8) Walfingham, Rapin, Collier ibid. p. 629. &c. &c. (9) Walfingham, Rapin, Col

members, and the friers the hinder parts of the antichristian society. He was therefore pronounced a heretic convict, aud delivered over to the fecular power. But before the day fixed for his execution he efcaped out of prifon; and being charged by his enemies with endevoring to make an insurrection, he was outlawed for high treafon; and being taken afterwards, he was hanged as a traitor, and burnt hanging as an heretic, being the first nobleman in England who fuffered death for the caufe of religion. It was the great blot and stain of Henry the fifth's reign and character, that while he was carrying the glory of the English arms abroad, he was still perfecuting the poor Lollards at home. But notwithstanding thefe perfecutions, and the feverest laws and proclamations against them, their numbers ftill increafed, not only among the people, but even in parlament, not only in England, but even in foreign countries, and especially in Bohemia. For there (1) John Hufs and Jerome of Prague having received Wickliff's books, advanced and propagated the fame doctrins; for which they were both condemned to the flames, and fuffered death with the

lier ibid. p. 632. &c. &c.
(1)Spanhemii Hift. Chriftian.
Sæc. XV. Cap. 6 & 7. Dupin

Siecle XV. Chap. 7. Lenfant
Hift. Conc. Pif. & Conftance.

(2) Uffer

« ElőzőTovább »