FORASMUCH as our holy prelates and our ghostly religious, which ought to defend God’s word, speak evil of it, and do all the shame they can to it, and rail on it; and bear their captives in hand, that it causeth insurrection and teacheth the people to disobey their heads and governors, and moveth them to rise against their princes, and to make all common, and to make havock of other men’s goods: therefore have I made this little treatise that followeth, containing all obedience that is of God; in which, whosoever readeth it, shall easily perceive, not the contrary only, and that they lie, but also the very cause of such blasphemy, and what stirreth them so furiously to rage and to belie the truth. Howbeit it is no new thing unto the word of God to be railed upon, neither is this the first time that hypocrites have ascribed to God’s word the vengeance whereof they themselves were ever cause. For the hypocrites with their false doctrine and idolatry have evermore led the wrath and vengeance of God upon the people, so sore that God could no longer forbear, nor defer his punishment. Yet God, which is always merciful, before he would take vengeance, hath ever sent his true prophets and true preachers, to warn the people that they might repent. But the people for the most part, and namely the heads and rulers, through comfort and persuading of the hypocrites, have ever waxed more hard-hearted than before, and have persecuted the word of God and his prophets. Then God, which is also righteous, hath always poured his plagues upon them without delay; which plagues the hypocrites ascribe unto God’s word, saying,‘See what mischief is come upon us since this new learning came up, and this new sect, and this new doctrine.’ This seest thou, Jeremiah 44 where the people cried to go to their old idolatry again, saying, “Since we left it, we have been in all necessity and have been consumed with war and hunger.” But the prophet answered them that their idolatry went unto the heart of God, so that he could no longer suffer the maliciousness of their own imaginations or inventions; and that the cause of all such mischiefs was, because they would not hear the voice of the Lord and walk in his law, ordinances, and testimonies. The scribes and the Pharisees laid also to Christ’s charge, Luke 23 that he moved the people to sedition; and said to Pilate, “We have found this fellow perverting the people, and forbidding to pay tribute to Cæsar, and saith that he is Christ a king.” And again in the same chapter, “He moveth the people,” said they, “teaching throughout Jewry, and began at Galilee even to this place.” So likewise laid they to the apostles’ charge, as thou mayest see in the Acts. St Cyprian also, and St Augustine, and many other more, made works in defence of the word of God against such blasphemies. So that thou mayest see how that it is no new thing, but an old and accustomed thing with the hypocrites, to wite God’s word and the true preachers of all the mischief which their lying doctrine is the very cause of.
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