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do condemn and reprove the same; and by the motion, knowledge, and authority aforesaid, decree and ordain, that the preachers of God's word, and all other persons, of what state, degree, order, or condition soever they be, which shall presume to dare affirm or preach to the people these foresaid opinions and assertions to be true, or shall read, hold, or maintain any such books for true, having before intelligence hereof, shall incur thereby the sentence of excommunication; from which they shall not be absolved otherwise than by the bishop of Rome, except only in the time of death."-This bull being dated the year of our Lord 1483, gave no little heart and encouragement to the grey friars, Franciscans, which defended the pure conception of the holy virgin, against the black Dominic friars with their confederates, holding the contrary side. By the rigour of which bull, the grey order had got such à conquest of the black guard of the Dominics, that the said Dominics were compelled at length, for a perpetual memorial of the triumph, both to give to the glorious virgin every night an anthem in praise of her conception, and also to subscribe unto their doctrine in which doctrine, these with divers other points be contained :
1. That blessed Mary the virgin suffered the griefs and adversities in this life, not for any necessity inflicted for punishment of original sin; but
only because she would conform herself to the imitation of Christ.
2. That the said virgin, as she was not obliged to any punishment due for sin, as neither was Christ her son; so she had no need of remission of sins, but instead thereof, had the divine preservation of God's help, keeping her from all sin; which grace only she needed, and also had it.
3. Item, that whereas the body of the Virgin Mary was subject to death, and died; this is to be understood to come not for any penalty due for sin; but either for imitation and conformity unto Christ, or else for the natural constitution of her body, being elemental, as were the bodies of our first parents; who, if they had not tasted of the forbidden fruit, should have been preserved from death, not by nature, but by grace, and strength of other fruits and meats in paradise; which meats, because Mary had not, but did eat our common meats, therefore she died; and not for any necessity of original sin. Clitovæus, lib. 2. cap. 2.
4. The universal proposition of St. Paul, which saith that the scripture hath concluded all men under sin, is to be understood thus, as speaking of all them which be not exempted by the special privilege of God, as is the blessed Virgin Mary.
5. If justification be taken for reconciliation of him that was unrighteous before, and now is made
righteous; then the blessed virgin is to be taken not for justified by Christ, but just from her beginning by preservation.
6. If a saviour be taken for him which saveth men fallen into perdition and condemnation, so is not Christ the saviour of Mary, but is her saviour only in this respect, for sustaining her from not falling into condemnation, &c,
7. Neither did the Virgin Mary give thanks to God, nor ought so to do, for expiation of her sins, but for her conservation from case of sinning,
8. Neither did she pray to God at any time for remission of her sins; but only for remission of other men's sins she prayed many times, and counted their sins for her's.
9. If the blessed virgin had deceased before the passion of her son, God would have reposed her soul, not in the place among the patriarchs, or amongst the just; but in the same most pleasant place of paradise, where Adam and Eve were before they transgressed.
These were the doting dreams and phantacies of the Franciscans, and of other papists, commonly then holden in the schools, written in their books, preached in their sermons, taught in churches, and set forth in pictures; so that the people was taught nothing else almost in the pulpits, all this while, but how the Virgin Mary was conceived immaculate
and holy, without original sin; and how they ought to call to her for help, whom they with special terms do call, "the way of mercy; the mother of grace; the lover of piety; the comforter of mankind; the continual intercessor for the salvation of the faithful; and an advocate to the king her son, which never ceaseth, &c. Verba papa Sexti in decret." And although the greatest number of the school doctors were of the contrary faction, as Peter Lombardas, Thomas Aquine, Bernardus, Bonaventura, and other; yet these new papists shifted off their objections with frivolous distinctions and blind eva
Pope Sixtus (as I said) by the authority apostolical, after he had decreed the conception day of the virgin perpetually to be sanctified, and also with his terrible bull, had condemned for heretics all them which withstood the same; the Dominic friars, with authority oppressed, were driven to two inconveniences. The one was, to keep silence; the other was, to give place to their adversaries the Franciscans. Albeit, where the mouth durst not speak, yet the heart would work; and though their tongues were tied, yet their good will was ready by all means possible to maintain their quarrel and estima
Whereupon it happened the same year of our Lord, 1509, after this dissention between the Domi
nic friars and the Franciscans, that certain of the Dominics, thinking by subtle sleight to work in the people's heads that which they durst not achieve with open preaching, devised a certain image of the virgin so artificially wrought, that the friars, by privy gins, made it to stir, and to make gestures, to lament, to complain, to weep, to groan, and to give answers to them that asked. Insomuch that the people therewith were brought in a marvellous persuasion; till at length the fraud being espied, the friars were taken, condemned, and burned at Berne, the year above-mentioned, 1509.
This frivolous dispute was agitated with great violence, during several years, and engaged the attention of the whole christian world. The above narrative presents a favourable specimen of Fox's ability as an historian: for, in general, he is a weak and prejudiced writer. It was objected by his adversaries, to the first edition of his "Acts and Monuments," that it contained several accounts of martyrdoms of persons, who were found to be living some years after its publication; and the objection, it should seem, was not wholly without foundation.