write ; and trust that, when I shall hereafter mention the sufferings of the roman-catholics, under the reigns of Henry Viii, Edward vi, Elizabeth, and the three first princes of the Stuart line, you will read those pages with equal sympathy.

Before I conclude my letter, I beg leave to express some surprise at the tenderness with which you treat Sir John Oldcastle, often called Lord Cobham. You describe him as a victim; and, when you come to his final catastrophe, you tell us, that “ the remainder of his history is perplexed by * contradictory statements, from which nothing * certain can be collected, but the last results." Is this so ? Had not his practices with the Lollards, in their most revolutionary designs, and his encouragement of them, been discovered ? Had he not defied the process of the spiritual courts? Had not Henry V. declared in his proclamation, that the Lollards meant to destroy him, his brothers, and several of the spiritual and temporal lords ? to confiscate the possessions of the church ; to secularize the religious orders; to divide the realm into confederate districts; and to appoint Sir John Oldcastle president of the commonwealth? Had they not proceeded far in carrying this plan of enormous wickedness into execution ? On the arraignment of Oldcastle, did he venture to assert his innocence? Did he not deny the king's title to the crown? Did not the sentence pronounced upon him, declare, that he should both be hanged as a traitor, and burned as a heretic? It is almost ridiculous to ask,-- did he not impiously prophecy,

that he should rise on the third day? Surely you do not concur with a notorious writer, whom you often praise, John Fox, the martyrologist, who ranks several of these convicted rebels among his saints ?

If it were allowed by the proper limits of these Letters, I should have offered you some considerations on the Waldenses, Albigenses, and the Hussites; on some decrees of the council of Constance ; and on the inquisition, with which the subject is connected. I have expressed myself fully on all these topics, in the chapter of my Historical Memoirs on the Preliminaries of the Reformation *. It was written with care, and I trust with impartiality: I beg leave to refer you to it.

In one part of your present chapter, you inform us, “that indignation against spiritual tyranny, un“ compromising sincerity, and intrepid zeal, made " the Lollards formidable to the hierarchy.” Móst protestant writers describe them in the same tone of lofty eulogy; but does it convey the whole truth? How do you yourself afterwards describe them in this very chapter ?

Undoubtedly the Lollards," say you, highly dangerous at this time: if there were some among them, whose views and wishes did not go beyond a just and salutary reformation, the

greater number were eager for havoc, and held opinions which were incompatible with the peace

of society. They would have stript the monas“ teries ; confiscated the church lands; and pro

* Vol. 1, c. 10.

were is

“ claimed the principle, that the saints should

possess the earth.” The public safety required, “ that such opinions should be repressed ; and,

founded, as they were, in gross error, and leading “ to direct and enormous evil, the church would “ have deserved the approbation of impartial pos

terity, if it had proceeded temperately and justly “ in repressing them. But the course which the

church pursued, was equally impolitic and iniqui“ tous, by making transubstantiation the test of

heresy; and insisting, on pain of the stake, upon “ the belief of a proposition, which no man could “ believe, unless he disregarded the evidence of his

senses; they gave the Lollards all the advantage, “ which men derive from the reputation and the “ merit of suffering in the cause of truth.”

In this sentence, I cannot but dislike the manner in which you mention transubstantiation ; and believing, that, on the occasions of which you are speaking, the judges frequently acted from errors of judgment, or in moments of exaltation, I wish you had substituted some other word for “ iniqui" tous :" -- With these exceptions, I subscribe to it in all parts. But I must ask, -does not the church of England now make the belief of transubstantiation heretical, and subject the believers of it to severe penalties and disabilities ? You

say, “ be believed by no man, unless he disregards the " evidence of his senses." What regard to the. senses enters into the belief of the TRINITY, the INCARNATION, or the IMMATERIALITY OF THE Soul? Bishop Burnet once observed to a Jesuit,

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that“ some of the doctrines, in which catholics differ “ from protestants, as justification, the invocation of

saints, and purgatory, although erroneous, were “not absolutely contrary to reason; but how can you, he asked the good father, “ rationally explain tran“ substantiation ?" “My lord,” replied the good father, “ after you have rationally explained the Trinity and Incarnation, there is no difficulty in “ rationally explaining Transubstantiation.

Permit me also to observe, that you cannot criminate the judges, who condemned the Lollards for not believing transubstantiation, without condemning the laws, which, in subsequent times, condemned the catholics for believing it, or conforming to those religious rites, which they found established, and which had made a part of the constitution, both of the church and state, of England, from the earliest introduction of christianity till their own time. I shall advert to this circumstance in a future letter. When you read it, you will, I hope, join me in a tear of sympathy on the sufferings, both of the priests and their flocks, for their belief of transubstantiation. Even now,


you not sympathize with the roman-catholic peers, the Howards, the Talbots, the Stourtons, the Arundells, the Cliffords, and the Petres, who, in consequence of their belief of transubstantiation, are deprived of their hereditary seats in Parliament ?

XI. 2.

The Mendicant and other Religious Orders of the

Roman-catholic Church. In your perusal of the gospel, you must have remarked the words, “ If thou desire to be perfect,

go, and sell all thou hast, and give it to the

poor ;"_" If any man come after me, let him “ deny himself +.”—“It is a good thing not to “ touch a woman.”—“ He who gives his virgin in

marriage does well, but he who gives her not “ does better.”--- Is it not with justice that the roman-catholic church considers these intimations, not as precepts, the observance of which is necessáry to salvation, but as counsels to those, who, to use the words of Christ himself, desire to be perfect ? Do they not imply, that a voluntary renunciation of riches, a voluntary renunciation of our will, and a voluntary renunciation of sensual, but lawful pleasure, are acceptable to God? Do we not imitate, by the first, the voluntary poverty of our holy Redeemer?-by the second, his voluntary obedience · to the will of his Eternal Father, and to the will of his Virgin Mother ?—by the third, his immaculate purity? To this humble imitation of Christ, the mendicant and the other religious orders of the catholic church aspire; and their different rules prescribe different modes, suited to the various charácters and tempers of mankind, of carrying these councils into execution. In what age of the church

* Matt. xix.

+ Matt. xvi.

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