Neal - Houston-Packer Collection BX9333 .N4 1754 v1

4 The HISTORY of the PURITANS.' Chap. I. maintain his opinions at Rome, if God had not otherwife vifited him with ficknefs, and other infirmities. It was well for this good man that there were two anti-popes at this time at war with each other, one at Rome, and the other at Avignon. InEngland alto there was a minority, which was favourable to Wickliffe, infomuch that he ventured out of his retirement, and returned to his parifh at Lutterworth, where he quietly departed this life in the year 1384. This Wickl è was a wonderful man for the times in which he lived, which were overfpread with the thickeft darknefs of an- tichriftian idolatry; he was the fiat who tranflated the new teftament into Englifh; but the art of printing not being then found out, it hardly efcaped the inquifition of the prelates, at leaft it was very fcarce when Tindal tranflated it a fecond time 1527. He preached and publifhed the very fame doctrines for fubftance that afterwards obtained at the reform- ation ; he writ near two hundred volumes, all which were called in, con- demned, and ordered to be burned, together with his bones, by the council of Gonfance, in the year 1425. fortyone years after his death ; but his doctrine remained, and the number of his difciples (who were diftinguifh- ed by thename of Lollards) encreafed after his deceafe, which gave occa- fion to the making fundry other fevere laws againft hereticks. of .Rfe penal The clergy made their advantage of the contentions between the houles lawn againft of frkandLancafier; both parties courting theirafftance, which they beretias. did not fail to make ufe of for the fupport of the catholick faith, (as they called it) and the advancement of their fpiritual tyranny over the confciences of men. In the primitive times,, there were no capital pro- ceedings againft hereticks,, the weapons of the church being only fpiritual ; but when it was found that ecclefiaftical cenfures were not fufficient to keep men in a blind fubjedion to the Pope, a decree was obtained in the fourth council of Lateran, A D. 1215. " That all hereticks fhould be " delivered over to the civil magiflrate to be burned." Here was the fpring of that antichriftian tyranny and oppreffion of the confciences of men, which has fince been attended with a fea óf chriftian blood: the papifts learned it from the heathen emperors ; and the molt zealous proteftants of all nations have taken it up from them. Confcience cannot be convinced by fines and imprifonments, or by fire and faggot ; all attempts of this kind ferve only to make men hypocrites, and are defervedly branded with the name of perfecutian. There was no pretence for putting thefe fan- guinary laws in execution among us, till the latter end of the fourteenth century ; but when the Lollards or followers of Wickliffe, threatened the papal power, the clergybrought this Italian drug from Rome, and planted it in the churchof England. In