In whose Reign it was that that eminent and worthy Witness and confessor, Mr. Jo. Wickliff, was raised up, so learnedly and successfully to oppose the Church of Rome, both in Doctrine and Discipline, a man of great Prudence and Piety, endowed with great Learning and Eloquence, as the whole University of Oxford did (as you'l hear) so unanimously and affectionately testifie; but especially one who was mighty in the Scriptures, a painful and faithful Preacher, an excellent Disputant, a laborious Writer, who wrote no less, as Balaus tells us from AEneas Sylvas, than 200 Volumes; though for the most part of them extinguished and burnt in their Manuscripts at Prague in Bohemia; so that so very little, saith Fuller, remains
of them to us, that we are beholding to some of his Enemies to tell us the Titles of the books, which you have in Balaus. Only some few are to be found with us, which I have heard of, viz. Mr. Fox tells us of three that he had an intention to print, viz. De Senfu & Veritate Scripture; De Eucharistia Confessio Wicklevi; & De Ecclesia. Mr. Fuller saith, That his Translation of the Bible is in a very fair manuscript in Queens-Colledge in Cambridge, and two more of the same in the University-Library in Oxford; a book called his Dialogues, in Latine [sic], a Quarto; and another called his Trialogia, mentioned by Bishop Usher, written in Latin; an English piece in Octavo, called his Wicket. And two Treatises in English against Begging Friars, printed 1608. by Tho. James, Library-keeper of Oxford; with an Apology he annexes thereto. A Comment upon the whole Book of the Psalms; and his Postils and Exposition upon the Gospel, two Folios; and which are, as I hear, in the Library of Leicester in Manuscript; that of the Psalms, Mr. James saith is in the Oxford-Library. Also an Exposition upon the Decalogue; a Treatise of the Seven Deadly Sins; another of Blasphemy; a Treatise of Civil Government; a Book of Miscellanies; a Treatise of Equivocation. Which last six Books, as all the rest, as Mr. James saith, are in Oxford-Library, with his English Translation of the Bible, fairy written and well bound.
Of whose Opinions and Doctrines so well agreeing with the Waldenses of old, we have an Account, as from his own Writings, so from many Authors that have collected the same from them, viz. Thomas Walden, an Englishman, that lived in his time, or presently after him; that wrote three great volumes against him; Chochleus a German-Writer, that gathers out of his book 303 Articles, and the Proceedings against his Works and Doctrines in the Councils of Constance. Aeneas Sylvas (after Pope Pius the Second) that gave the titles of all his Books, to the number of 200, burnt at Prague; and Orthusmus, in his book called Fasciculus Rerum Expetendarum, Flac. Illyricus, Baleus, Caxton, Walsingham, Wedisfordus, Speed. All which I have perused, and to whom Mr. Fox and Mr. Fuller, in their Writings about him, have respect. As also Mr. James [the Library-keeper of Oxford] in his Apology for him, Printed with two of his books against the Mendicant Friars, wherein is made that good Collection out of several of his books in that Library. And from among them [that you may have some further Account of this Eminent Worthy, and Witness of Jesus Christ,] I have made this following Collection of some of his Tenets; viz.
1. That he asserted and maintained two Sacraments only, viz. Baptism and the Lord's supper; in opposition to the Popish
seven; as appears by the 45, 46, 47 Articles condemned by the Councilo of Constance, James Apol. p. 31.
2. That he taught, That Believers, after the Example of Christ, should be baptized in pure water, Flas. Illyricus, Catal. Test. p. 403. And how well he esteemed the same, he further saith, that it was not lawful for Believers, though they had received the Baptism of the Spirit, to omit the Baptism of water; but that as opportunity and Circumstances might concur, it was necessary to receive it; in his Trialog. 4. c. 12. In these his own words, Non licet Fidelibus supponendo Baptismum Flaminis, Baptismum Fluminis reliquere, sed necesse est, data opportunitate, circumstantia, ipsuna accipere, Ex Wald. Tom. 2. De Sacramentis, c. 107.
3. That Believers are we only Subjects of Baptism; as appears in his 11th Chap. of his Trialog. Where he saith, that persons are first to be baptized with that he calls the first or insensible Baptism, viz. in the blood of Christ, before they are baptized in water; without which, their baptism in water profits not: Which he expressed in these words; Ideo absq; dubitatione si iste insensibilis Baptismus assuerit, Baptizatus a crimne est mundatus; & si ille desnerit, quantumcunq; essent priores, Baptismus non prodest animae ad saluntem. Ex Wald. Tom. 2. De Sacram. c. 97.
And therefore so positive for Faith and Regeneration to be first laid, that in his Book De Vesritate Scriptura, p. 490. he saith, That for any to bring wicked [or unregenerate] persons into the Church, they do wed Christ and the Devil together, taking the Members of a Harlot, coupling them to the Body of Christ. James, Apol. p. 15.
4. That Baptism doth not confer, but only signifies [or is a Symbol of] Grace given. So Fuller out of Chocleus in his Eccles. Hist. upon the Life and Doctrine of Wickliff. Cent. 4. Ri. 2.
Which Definition and Order is owned by those that assert Adult Bapt. viz. That Baptism is a present Regeneration wrought, and of which there is something of the thing signified to be demonstrated in the party to be baptized, before the Sign be applied; therefore Faith and Repentance, or Regeneration goes first, Baptism of Water follows after; as p. 2, 3. In order to the Baptism of the Spirit; as Acts 2. 38. And which as necessarily excludes all Children, as it does impugne the Popish Heresie upon which it was first founded and instituted, viz. to take away all sin, to confer Grace, to work Regeneration, and to save the Soul; as still held fast by them that teach young Children to say, that by their Baptism they were made Children of God, Members of Christ, and Inheriters of the Kingdom of Heaven; and therefore must the Midwife, in case of necessity, baptize the Child, left its salvation be hazarded.
5. That they are fools and presumptuous, which affirm such Infants not to be saved which die without Baptism; so Fuller words it out of Chochleus. And Wickliff's own words, as c. 2. de Trialog. Quod definetes parvulos Fidelium sine Baptismo Sacramentali, decedentes non fore salvandos, in hoc sunt presumptuosi & stolidi. For as to Childrens-estate, as to Salvation or Damnation, he can say nothing, what God will do with them. Si Deus voluerit, potest damnare Infantes; & si voluerit, porest ipsos salcvare; nec audeo partem aliquam desinire. But for those that make Baptism the thing to save them, and the Paarents omission thereof, to damn them, he utterly denies; because as God hath not appointed baptism to work Grace, or to regenerate; so it would unreasonable to charge Damnation upon little ones, for the Parents neglect [which they cannot help]. Trialog. c. 12. Which Wideford in Fasciculus Rerum, and Walden also do charge upon him as a desperate Error; impugning, as they say, not only St. Austin; who in his Book De Fide, ad Petrum, is so positive for the Damnation of unbaptized Infants; but so expressly contrary to the words of the Canon De Consecrat. Dist. c. 4. Which asserts, That young Infants are only to be saved by Baptism. And that it opposeth the Judgment and Practice of the Church in all Ages; and which, saith he, they esteemed of such absolute necessity, that in case of peril of Death, they permitted the Midwife to do it; and that if it died without Baptism, it was no more admitted to Christian Burial, either to lie in the Church or Churchyard, than a Pagan or Infidel.
6. That all Truth is contained in the Holy Scripture, and that which is not originally there, is to be accounted prophane. L. De Verit. Script. p. 39. That Christís Law sufficeth by it self to rule Christís Church, Expositio Decalog. p. 5. And again, That we must receive nothing but what is in the Scripture, and that whatever is added to it, or taken from it, is blasphemous. And That no rite or Ceremony ought to be received in the Church, but that which is plainly confirmed by Godís Word, De Veritas. Script. p. 581. And therefore saith, wise men leave that as impertinent which is not plainly exprest, Fuller out of Cholchleus: And which Wald. fol. 3. De Sacram saith, is one of the Lollards great Doctrines to be shunned. And further, That we are to admit of no Science, or conclusion, that is not proved by Scripture-testimony. And tht whoever holds the contrary opinion, cannot be a Christian, but flatly the Devilís Champion, De Verit. Scrip. p. 128.
And whether all this is not full-mouth'd Argument against Infants-Baptism; for which Rite there not the least Scripture-Institution or Instance, as confessíd by so many of themselves, is left to consideration.
7. That he Righted the Authority of general Councils, as Fuller out of Cholchleus; Detested and abhorred all popish and Humanís Traditions; saying that the Popes Decretals are Apocrypha; and none but
Fools study them. De Veritate. Scriptura. p. 487.
And thence it was, saith Mr. James, p. 15. of his Apology, That Wickliff rejected their Popish Superstitions and Traditions, of Salt, Oyl, Spittle, Chrysm, the five Sacraments, Monkish Orders, and all of that kind. And may not we from as good Evidence say, ad Infants-Baptism also; for other than Humane Tradition, Decrees of Councils, and Popes Decretals, there was no Authority for it, as most Papists, and so many Protestants do so fully grant, as before.
And therefore not only from this manner of consequential Reasoning, but from his more positive Assertions, doth Thomas Walden, in his Book De Baptismi Sacramentalibus, Tit. 5. c. 53. fol. 118. c. 53 so vehemently charge and inveigh against him, as one of the seven Heads that comes out of the Bottomless Pit, for denying Infants Baptism; as also that it was the Heresie of the Lollards, of whom he was so great a Ring-leader. And that he doth positively assert, as he saith, That Children are not Sacramentally to be baptized; and that if they have Grace poured into their Souls by the Spirit of Christ, they are sufficiently baptized. and Which, he saith is very agreeable to the Doctrine of former Hereticks, viz. Pelagius, with whom Austin contended; who said, it was not necessary to take away Original Sin, because they had none. To Vincentius Vitter, with whom Austin contended also; who said, that though they had Original sin, yet without Baptism they might enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
And that this was also the Albigensian Heresie, who were called of old the Publicani, who denied Baptism to Little ones; as Wickliff, and the Lollards do. And therefore he tells us how well one Petrus Blesinns did urge in one of their Synods, upon a complaining that the Amorites and Philistines do oppose us, the former Hereticks being risen up among us, which were called of old the Publivani and Patrini, who admit no of Infant-Baptism, nor the Sacrament of the Altar &c. and who increase and multiply without Number; so that if you cut off in one place, they like Hydraís Heads, do grow up in another. And so saith Walden, This Heresie we find, which has been, as it were working, under-ground for near 200 years, is broken out amongst the Wickliffians, and appears more publickly; And therefore, saith he, if Austin did so contend with those old Hereticks, what would he do with these their Offspring, in this Generation? And therefore Walsingham in his Ypodigma Neustria, upon the year 1381, p. 139 saith, That in this time it was that that most damnable Heretick John Wickliff re-assumed the cursed Opinions of Beringarius; which was, as you have heard, to deny Infants-Baptism, Transubstantion, &c.
8. And as a further Argument that he denied Infants-Baptism, may appear, because he did so vehemently impugne Confirmation; which was ordained together with Infants-Baptism, with the same Heads and Hands, and especially calculated for the Ratifications and Confirmation
thereof, as you'l hear in a following Treatise upon the Subject. Concerning which, saith he, That as there is not the least Syllable from the Word of God, so not the least colour from Reason for the same. Triang. 4. c. 15. And that Bishops Benedictions, Confirmations, Conserations, were but tricks to get Money. Fuller out of Chochleus. And that the Popes Chrysm whereby Children were confirmed, was not founded on the Scripture; but was a Relique of the Devil, and Blasphemy against God. Art. 8. Condemned by the C. Const. And for which these two great Doctors do so vehemently oppose themselves against him, viz. Walden, in his Book De Confirmat. Sacrament. from p. 123 to p. 127. And Wediford, in his second Tom. De Sacrament. c. 109. fol. 102. to 124.
9. That it is Blasphemy to call any Head of the Church but Christ alone.
10. That the Pope is Antichrist, yea, Potissimus Antichrist, Antichrist himself, and that Abomination of Desolation that stands in the Holy Place.
11. That the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Chruch of Rome in matters of Faith, is greatest Blasphemy of Antichrist.
12. That from the Words, and Works, and Silence of Prelates in preaching, it seemeth probable that they are Devils incarnate.
13. That all beautiful Building and Adorning of Churches is blame-worthy, and favours of Hypocrisie.
14. That right of Patronage, and endowing of Churches is Antichristian.
15. That vowing of Virginity is a Doctrine of Devils.
16. That it is lawful for any Lay-man to preach without Ecclesiastical Orders, or leave from his Ordinary,
17. That Christ hath no where appointed, in his Word that his Ministers should be nursed up in Universities and Colledges; or that they should take there any degrees of Divinity, or be known by distinction of Habits and Orders.
18. That there are only two Orders and Degrees in the Church, viz. Elder and Deacon; and that Elder, bishop and Presbyter are all one.
19. That the Church of Rome is the Synagogue of Satan.
20. That all the Patrons of private Religion, as Benedict, Francis, Dominick, Bernard, &c. and those that enter therein, if [they do] not repent of their wickedness, are in a damnable state; and that all such as Found and endow Monasteries, and all that enter therein, are Members of the Devil.
21. That to enrich the Clergy, is against the Rules of Christ.
22. That Tithes are but pure Almes, and therefore not to be exacted from the people, and who may dispose them as they please themselves.
23. That to worship God in an unknown tongue, and to keep the Scriptures lockt up therein, is a Heresie and Blasphemy of Antichrist.
24. That to appoint Canonical hours for Worship, is unlawful.
25. To enjoyn and bind to set Forms of Prayer, though the L. Prayer, &c. derogates from Liberty God hath given his people.
26. That all who omit the hearing and preaching of the Gospel for fear of Popish Excommunication, are already excommunicated, and in the day of Judgment shall be accounted the Betrayers of Christ.
27. That though the goods of Christians are not to be in common, yet that Christian Charity should be common.
28. A great opposer of sallacious, blasphemous and Equivocal Oaths, but not against lawful Swearing, to end strife.
29. That dominion over the Creature is founded in Grace, and that God divesteth him of all Right, who abuseth his Power.
All which, and many more, you have out of fuller from Chocleus, out of James his Apology. And in his Articles condemned by the Council of Constance; and especially out of Easciculus Rerum; wherein there are Answers to each of them, by Wedifordus and others.
Great were the Endeavors of the Clergy in the time of Edward the Third, to have crushed this good man, and suppressed his Doctrines; especially Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, Courtney Bishop of London, and Wickham Bishop of Winchester, who designed often against him; but he had such favour from the King himself, so much Friendship from the Duke of Lancaster, and Piercy, L. Marshal of England; and was so much in the hearts of the Citizens of London, that they were not able to touch him all this King's days; and it is observable, that this King Edward 3, who so favoured this good man and his Party (the people that feared God in his time) was blessed with the greatest honour, success, and longest Life of any of the Kings we read of in all our Chronicles.
In the time of Richard the Second, Wickliffe's Friends, especially the Duke of Lancaster, and the L. Marshal, being withdrawn from the Court, his mortal Enemies, the Bishops, began to bestir themselves; who therefore procured the Bull of Pope Gregory II, against him, directed to the University of Oxford, requiring him and all his Adherents to be seized and imprisoned, and his Books to be supprest; with a Letter to the King and Archbishop to the same purpose; with several Articles against him; upon which Articles he was summoned to appear before the Archbishop, at his Court In Lambeth, with design to proceed with the greatest severity against him. But upon the day when they designed to have passed the definitive
Sentence, one Sir Lewis Clifford [so Walsingam calls him] came from the Queen, as saith Mr. James (who it seems was a true Friend and Favourer of Wickliff) and entering in amongst them, commanded them that they should not proceed to any Definitive Sentence against him; at whose words they were so amazed, that they desisted their purpose; and so by this special Providence, he escaped their Clutches. The Citizens of London were also (as the Story saith) very zealous for his Deliverance; whose coming off in that manner tended very much to spread and promise his Reputation and Doctrine. The Death also of P. Greg. and the Schism that so long attended the Chair by the Anti-Popes, viz. for 39 years, made much for the furtherance of the Truth, and not a little for his preservation, though the Endeavours of his Enemies at home, were incessant against him; as Mr. fox in his first Vol. p. 565. &c.
After this, the Archbishop summons another Convocation, June 11, 1382, in the Black Friars, London, to adjudge him and his Sect; at which instant, was that terrible earthquake mentioned in the Chron. of St. Albons; and of which Wickliff also takes notice in his Writings; which it should tend, much discouraging them in their work. Fox. p. 570.
Afterwards fresh Persecution was stirred up by the Archbishop, who procured the King's Letter to the Vice-Chancelor of Oxford against
him and many of his Adherents and Associates, and who so hotly pursues several of them, that some did recant; of whom mention is made of Nicholas Hereford, a Learned man, and Philip Repington, after a Bishop in the next King's time, and a great Persecuter. One Jo. Ashton withstood ('tis said) all their fury, and was delivered from them by the Londoners, who broke into their Conclave, and took him from them by force; who approved themselves such Friends and Favourers of the Lollards, That, as the History of St. Albons saith of them, that they neither believed in God, nor in the Traditions of their Fore-fathers, but were sustainers of the Lollards, depravers of Religion, and withholders of Tithes.
And thereupon, the Bishops complaining to the King against them; they were several ways vexed and punished; viz. By altering their Form of Government, removing their Mayor and Sheriffs from them, and setting a Warden or Governor over them; and removing the Terms and Courts of Judicature from London to York.
After this, the Bishops summoned Wickliff again, and designed, by some that were to lay wait from him, to take away his Life; whereupon, he either concealed himself, or withdrew for some time into Bohemia, (as some say) though in that time he writes a Letter to the king, another to the Pope, and returns after to England, and dies peaceably in his own House at Littlerworth in Leicestershire, Anno 1387.
Forty five years after his Death, he was Condemned and Sentenced by the Council of Constance to be taken up out of his Grave, and burnt for an Heretick, and his Books to be all burnt that could be found any place; and which was performed accordingly; most of his Books were burnt at Prague in bohemia, and many at Oxford, and his Bones took up and burnt at Litterworth by the Priests and Suffragans. Fox, Part I, p. 655.
Concerning whom, you may please to take that most remarkable Testimonial given by the University of Oxford, 19 years after his Death, Recorded by Mr. Fox, p. 585, from its Original; but by whom procured, not mentioned; viz.
A Treatise of Baptism Index