Beausobre*, doctor Lardner t, and Mr. Alban Butler †, have left us nothing to desire. But, in respect to their tenets on civil power and property, these authors are almost entirely silent. The religious tenets of the Manichean sectaries, in the middle ages, have been ably discussed by Bossuet II, father Persons S, Mr. Alban Butler, and Basnage ; but these writers have said little on their political tenets. I beg leave to mention, that those, who desire to investigate this subject, should consult Monetæ adversus Catharos et Valdenses, libri quinque, fol. Roma, 1743.

I wish you to undertake this investigation; but I fear you could not complete it, in the manner you and your friends would wish, without ransacking foreign libraries. The great point for investigation is, whether these sectaries did not, by their disorganizing tenets, prelude to the doctrine of Liberty and Equality, so frightfully propagated in our time?

* Histoire Critique de Manichée et de Manichéisme; 2 vols. 4to. + Credibility of the Gospel History, XLIII.

Note in his Life of St. Augustine. # Variations, livre xii. $ Three Conversions of England, part iii. c. 3. 6.

Note in his Life of St. Dominick. ** Hist. des Eglises Reformées, 2 vols. 4to.

XI. 1.

Rise of the Reformation-Persecution under the House of

Lancaster. When I inserted, in my Historical Memoirs

of the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics,' an account of “the preliminaries of the reforma“tion *,” I gave to the subject all the attention, and made every research, that the time, which I could bestow upon it, allowed. I have frequently reconsidered this part of my work, and have not discovered any thing which appears to me to require alteration.

I shall, therefore, now re-state what I have inserted in that work,—the opinion of Mosheimt, that, “ before the Reformation, there lay concealed, “ in almost every part of Europe, particularly in “ Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland and Germany,

many persons who adhered tenaciously to the

following doctrine, which the Waldenses, Wick“ liffites, and Hussites, had maintained; some in

a disguised, others in a more open and public

manner :—that the kingdom of Christ was an “ assembly of true and real saints, and ought,

therefore, to be inaccessible to the wicked and

unrighteous, and also, exempt from those institu“ tions which human prudence suggests, to oppose “the progress of iniquity, or to correct or reform “ transgressions." “ From these principles they inferred, that all

+ Cent. xvi. c. 3. 5. 2. 5.

• Vol. 1, p. 93.

“ things ought to be in common among the faith“ ful; that taking interest for the loan of money “ought to be entirely abolished ; that, in the king“ dom of Christ, civil magistrates were absolutely “ useless ; and that God still continued to reveal “ his will to chosen men.” In a future part of this letter, I shall transcribe, from the chapter of your work, which is the subject of this letter, passages which completely accord with that which I have cited from Mosheim.

Such were the principles of these sectaries. How did they carry them into execution ? Confining the answer to the English Lollards,—What insurrections, what rapine, what murders, were produced by them! They murdered the chancellor, and primate, Sudbury; the lord treasurer Hales; the chief justice Cavendish : They sought to murder the king ; to exterminate the nobility, the dignitaries, and the principal functionaries of the clergy. “ The celebrated John Ball,” says Walsingham

taught the perverse dogmas, and false opinions, “ and raving doctrines of Wickliffe. Being, upon “ this account, prohibited by his bishop from preach

ing in the churches, he went to villages and towns “ to preach to them. He was excommunicated : “ but ventured to preach, and was sent to prison, .“ where he announced his immediate delivery by

20,000 men. This actually happened ; and, “ having deliberated with them, he headed them,

instigating them to greater enormities. At “Blackheath, where 20,000 men were assembled, “ he thus began his address to them :

* Walsingham, p. 275. 228. 385.

6. When Adam delv'd, and Evë span,

“ Who was then the gentleman? They fixed placards on the doors of the churches “ of London, announcing that they were ready, to “ the number of 100,000, to rise against all who “ did not relish them. To this they were invited

by the power and contrivance of one John Old* castle.” In the following year they endeavoured to raise a rebellion in St. Giles's Fields, where Oldcastle had appointed them to rendezvous.-Seditious proceedings of a similar nature took place, about the same time, in different parts of England.

The Albigenses, in the south of France, exceeded the Lollards, both in the wildness of their doctrine, and the ferocity of their proceedings.

Such, then, were the principles of the sectarians, and such the enormities to which they led. You yourself admit, that Wickliffe held “some erro“neous opinions, some fantastic ones, and some " that, in their moral and political consequences, “ were most dangerous.” (We have just seen what Walsingham says of Wickliffe and his doctrines). Is it not surprising that, almost in the line immediately following, you call him “ a great and ad« mirable man." Is not this exaggerated eulogy ? Should a man be pronounced great and admirable, some of whose opinions are admitted to have been " erroneous,

some to have been “ fantastic," and some to have been" most dangerous ? Should it be done in this age, where liberty and equality, in


the disorganizing sense of those words, are so loudly called for, and the loudness of the call increases every day? In respect to the tenets of the Lollards, I beg leave to ask, if contemporary writers do not unanimously declare, that they originated with Wickliffe ? Should you not have mentioned with praise, the christian spirit and forbearance of the clergy of those times, who, although he had so vehemently attacked both their doctrines and their possessions, permitted him to spend his last days in privacy and peace ?

I have shortly mentioned the dreadful effects produced by these dangerous opinions. To prevent them from spreading, the legislature, in the reign of Henry IV. had passed the statute de Haretico comburendo : It authorized the bishop to proceed against heretics, and to punish them by imprisonment, and fine to the king; and enacted, that, if they should refuse to abjure their heretical pravity, or, after their abjuration, should relapse into it, they should be delivered to the sheriff, and burned on a high place, before the people. This statute was succeeded by others.

You cannot condemn these legislative proceedings more than I do: they were an infraction of the rights of conscience; they made religious opinion a test of political principle ; and thus confounded principle, with which the legislature has no concern, with action, its only proper object.

Under these statutes many suffered. Your account of their sufferings is drawn with admirable eloquence and feeling. I sympathize in what you

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