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1005 [1005]

K. Henry. 8. Reformation of the Church in the tyme of M. Luther.

lyke, or figge vnto an other, then þe words, properties, and conditions of that rauenyng Griphe resembleth the true Image, that is, the nature & qualities of that which we call the Churche of Rome, in euery point and degre? and therfore no great maruell, if that narration was exempted out of the copies of Chaucers workes: whiche notwithstandyng now is restored agayne, and is extant, for euery man to read that is disposed.

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This Geffray Chaucer being borne (as is thought) in Oxfordshyre, & dwellyng in Wodstocke, lyeth buried in the Churche of the minster of S. Peter at Westminster, in an Ile on the South side of the sayd Churche, not far from the doore  

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Bale mentioned that Chaucer was buried in Westminster abbey, but the description of his tomb is not in Bale. Presumably Foxe saw it or had a description sent to him.

leading to the cloyster, and vpon his grauestone first were written these ij. old verses.

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Galfridus Chauser vates et fama poesis
Maternæ, hac sacra sum tumulatus humo.

Afterward, about the yeare of our Lord. 1556. one M. Brickam, bestowyng more cost vppon his tumbe, did adde therunto these verses folowyng.

Qui fuit Anglorum vates ter maximus olim,
Galfridus Chaucer conditur hoc tumule.
Annum si quaras Domini, si tempora mortis,
Ecce nota subsunt, qua tibi cuncta notent.

25. Octob. An. 1400.

¶ Here beginneth the reformation of the Churche of Christ, in the tyme of Martin Luther.

MarginaliaThe corruptiō of the Churche described.ALthoughe  

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Prophecies preceeding Luther

The purpose of this section is threefold. One is to underscore the importance of Martin Luther (and consequently his doctrine of justification by faith; notice how Foxe begins this section with a little lecture on the insufficiency of works to obtain salvation) in the history of the Church. (It is worth remarking that it is Luther, not Wiclif, whom Foxe sees as the central figure in initiating the reform of the Anti-Christian Church). Secondly, it is a way to invoke the miraculous to support the Protestant cause. If, as Foxe is claiming here, the advent of Luther was prophesied and, if it was heralded by portents, than who could doubt that his teachings were God's word? The drawback was that, as with Foxe's collection of prophecies of the rise of Islam and of the Ottoman Empire, these prophecies were extra-Biblical and, while some of them came from what, to Foxe and his readers were reliable sources, such as Jan Hus, other came from people, such as Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, whom even Foxe was wary of crediting with the spirit of prophecy. A third purpose of this section was to underscore the corruption of the medieval Church. This was a relatively easy task, since many of these prophecies were contained in writings denouncing the pope and the clergy.

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Most of the material in this section came from the basic works which Foxe relied on for his interpretation of Church history: John Bale's Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae…Catalogus (Basel, 1557) and Matthias Flacius's Catalogus testium veritatis (Basel, 1556). Foxe also drew on another work of Flacius: his two volume edition of the writings of Jan Hus: Ioannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi historia et monimenta (Nuremburg, 1558).

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

it can not bee sufficiently expressed with tongue or pen of mā, into what miserable ruine and desolation the Churche of Christ was brought in those later dayes: yet partly by þe readyng of these stories aforepast, some intelligence may be geuen to them, which haue iudgement to marke or eyes to see, in what blyndnes and darkenes the world was drowned duryng the space of these 400. yeres heretofore and more. By the vewing and cōsideryng of whiche times and histories, thou mayst vnderstand (gentle reader) how the Religion of Christ, whiche onely consisteth in spirit and veritie, was wholy turned into outward obseruations, ceremonies, & idolatrie. So many sainctes we had, so many Gods. So many monasteries, so many pilgremages. As many Churches, as many reliques forged and feyned we had. Agayne, so many reliques, so many lyeng miracles we beleued. In stede of the onely lyuing Lorde, we woorshipped dead stockes and stones. In place of Christ immortall, we adored mortall bread. In steade of his bloud, we worshipped the bloud of duckes. How the people were led, so that þe priestes were fed, no care was takē. In steade of Gods worde, mans word was set vp. In stead of Christes Testament, the Popes Testament, that is the Canon law: in stead of Paul, the maister of Sentence  
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I.e., the great twelfth-century theologian, Peter Lombard.

tooke place, and almost full possessiō. The law of God was litle read: the vse & end therof was lesse knowen. And as the end of the law was vnknowen, so the difference betwene the Gospell and the law, was not vnderstanded, the benefite of Christ not considered, the effect of faith not expended. Through the ignoraunce wherof, it can not be told, what infinite errours, sectes, and religions crept into þe church ouerwhelmyng the world, as with a floud of ignoraunce and seduction. And no meruell, for where the fundation is not well layd, what buildyng can stand and prosper? MarginaliaThe foundatiō of Christiā Religion.The fundation of all our Christianitie is onely this: The promise of God, in the bloud of Christ his sonne, geuing and promising life vnto all that beleue in him: Geuyng (sayth the Scripture) vnto vs, and not barganyng or indentyng with vs: MarginaliaRom. 6.And that freelye (sayth the Scripture) for Christes sake, and not condicionally for our merites sake. MarginaliaRom. 4.Furthermore freelye (sayth the Scripture) by grace, that the promise might be firme and sure, and not by the workes that we do, whiche are alwayes doubtfull. MarginaliaRom. 4. By grace (sayth þe Scripture) through promise to all and vpon all that beleue, and not by þe law vpon them that do deserue. MarginaliaRom. 3.For if it come by deseruyng, then is it not of grace: If it be not of grace, then is it not of promise. And cōtrariwise, if it be of grace and promise, MarginaliaRom.11.thē is it not of workes, sayth s. Paul.  
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See Romans 3-4.

Vpon this fundatiō of Gods free promise, and grace first builded the patriarches, kynges, and prophetes. Vppon the same fundation also Christ the Lord builded his Churche. Vpon þe which fundation the Apostles lykewise builded the Churche Apostolicall or Catholicall.

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This Apostolicall and Catholique foundation, so long as the Churche did retaine, so long it continued syncere and sound: whiche endured a long season after the Apostles tyme. But after in proces of yeares, through wealth and negligence crept into Churche, as soone as this fundation began to be lost, came in newe builders whiche would builde vppon a new foundation, a newe Church more glorious, whiche we call nowe the churche of Rome. Who beyng not contented with the old fundation and the head corner stone, whiche the Lord by hys word had layd, in place therof they layd the groūd worke vpon the condition & strength of the law and workes.  

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Ephesians 2:20-22.

Althoughe it is not to bee denyed, but that the doctrine of Gods holy lawe, and of good workes accordyng to the same, is a thing most necessary to be learned and folowed of all men: yet is not that the foundation, wherupon our saluation consisteth, neither is that foundation able to beare vp the weyght of the kyngdome of heauen: but is rather the thyng, which is builded vpon the foundation: whiche foundation is Iesus Christ, accordyng as we are taught of S. Paul, saying: No man can laye any other foundation, beside that whiche is layd, Christ Iesus. &c.  
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1 Cor. 3:11.

Marginalia1. Cor. 3.

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MarginaliaThe doctrine of the Church corrupted.But this auncient foundation with the olde auncient Church of Christ (as I said) hath bene now of long time forsaken, and in stead therof a new Churche, with a new foundation hath bene erected, & framed, not vpon Gods promise & his free grace in Christ Iesus, nor vpon þe free iustificatiō by faith, but vpon merites & desertes of mens workyng. And hereupon haue they plāted all these their new deuises, so infinite that they can not well be numbred, as Masses, trecenares, diriges, obsequies, mattens and houres, singyng seruice, vigiles, mydnightrising, barefootegoyng, fishfastyng, lentfast, imberfast, stations, rogations, iubiles, aduocation of sainctes, praying to Images, pilgremage walking, workes of supererogatiō, application of merites, orders, rules, sectes of religion, vowes of chastitie, wilfull pouertie, pardons, relaxations, indulgences, penaunce and satisfaction, with auricular confession, foundyng of Abbays, building of chappels, geuyng to Churches: And who is able to recite all their laborious buildynges, falsely framed vpon a wrōg grounde, and all for ignoraunce of the true foundation, whiche is the free iustification by fayth in Christ Iesus the sonne of God.

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MarginaliaThe lyfe & manners of the church corrupted.Moreouer to note, that as this newfounde Churche of Rome was thus deformed in doctrine: so no lesse was it corrupted in order of lyfe and depe hypocrisie, doyng all thinges onely vnder pretenses and dissembled titles. So vnder the pretense of Peters Chayre, they exercised a maiesty aboue Emperours and kynges. MarginaliaHabentes specie pietatss, sed vim eius abnegātes.2. Timo. 3.Vnder the visour of their vowed chastity, reigned adultery: vnder the cloke of professed pouertie, they possessed the goodes of the temporaltie. Vnder the title of beyng dead vnto the world, they not onely reigned in the world, but also ruled the worlde: vnder the colour of the keyes of heauen to hand vnder theyr gyrdle, they brought all the states of the worlde vnder theyr girdle, and crept not onely into the purses of men, but also into their consciences: they heard their confessions: they knewe their secretes: they dispensed as they were disposed, and loosed what them lysted: And finally when they had brought the whole worlde vnder their subiection, yet did their pride neither cease to ascend, neither could their auarice bee euer satisfied. And if the example of Cardinall Wolsey, and other Cardinals and Popes can not satisfie thee, I beseche thee (gentle reader) turne ouer the foresayd booke of the Ploughmans tale in Chauser aboue mentioned,  

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The 'Ploughman's Tale' is not by Chaucer. It was an anonymous medieval work, possibly partly rewritten to increase its anti-papal slant, attributed to Chaucer and printed as part of 'The Canterbury Tales'.

where thou shalt vnderstand much more of their demanour, thē I haue here described.

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