Trialogus. Chapter 21. Further Showing That the Mendicancy of the Friars Is Not Consistent With Scripture
4 min read
4 min read
I see clearly, from the reasons adduced, and from many others that might be brought forward, if need were, that this mendicancy of the friars is not only without scriptural authority, but a manifest blasphemy. Yet it may be well to go briefly over the poor evidence adduced by the friars in its support. In John 4. it is written that Christ asked drink of a Samaritan woman; who can refuse, they argue, to attribute such mendicancy to Christ, when he was thus poor? But in weighing this argument we should define clearly what is meant by begging, one man of another. For, when a creditor or his agent seeks a debt, he does not, in so doing, beg; and much less does a lord, when he claims to be served with what is his own. Accordingly, though Christ, as Lord, received gifts of his people, it does not thence follow that he begged of them, but rather that he required a ministering of goods that were his own for the common benefit of those so ministering to him. Thus some students of the Gospel are of opinion that Christ asked the drink of faith and devotion from the woman; for it is not likely that Christ when hungry would have asked water to drink, especially as it was the sixth hour of the day, and the disciples had gone into the village to buy food. Moreover, if Christ had asked for material water, he would probably have drunk it at once, without delay; but when the woman was ready to give him water, he deferring drinking, and said some time after to his disciples, when they exhorted him to eat—“I have meat which ye know not of,” &c. The friars, therefore, are herein more foolish than this woman, who mistook the meaning of Christ through an excusable ignorance, while they equivocate damnably by nefarious falsehoods concerning the Holy Spirit. I wish they were doomed to beg nothing of the people but water, until they have made satisfaction for the error of so heretical a lie against God.
In the second place, the friars endeavour to establish their falsehood by that passage in Luke 19. where Christ saith—“Zaccheus, make haste, and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house.” From which words these ignorant men conclude that Christ begged food and lodging of Zaccheus. Let these untaught grammarians acquire some knowledge of the use of terms, before they utter such blasphemies, and neither lie, nor avail themselves of lies, to defend their begging,—for Christ perceiving the piety of Zaccheus, spake these words, on account of the charity that was in him, and not from being himself in misery or destitution. So let friars mark these terms, and blush to ascribe beggary thus falsely to Christ, when they should rather regard him in the light of a supreme and most generous Physician, who is pleased of his surpassing charity to abide with men.
In the third place, these blasphemers argue from Matthew 21., where Christ sent two disciples to Jerusalem for an ass and her colt, whereon he might go up thither,—Did he not then beg from the city of Jerusalem? Now let these heretics blush to say, that it is after the example of the Lord that they beg of men without leave sought or obtained; for Christ the Lord of all needed not thus to mount a colt and an ass, save to fulfil the Scripture, (Zechariah 9.) and to prefigure how he should ride over the Gentiles as colts, and the Jews (stupidly continuing under the burdens of the law) as asses, and still more when his disciples laid their garments on those beasts, that is to say, while the apostles taught the virtues, and principally the virtue of humility, by the efficacy of their example. Nay, I repeat, Christ mounted these animals to condemn the riding of pope and cardinals, and of the inferior bishops too, who are wont to ride in superfluous pomp on war-horses decked out with gold and silk.
In the fourth place, these blind heretics argue, that Christ begged lodging and bread for his last supper in Jerusalem, which they rest on Matthew 26. But let these shameless heretics know that the words of the Gospel plainly condemn their heresy. For the words of Christ are—“Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.” Where it appears clearer than light that Christ speaks as Lord, and not as a mendicant. For as in Matthew 21. this Lord taught his disciples, saying, “If any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them,” so he speaks in this instance as Lord and Master.—Let the heretic mark this consequence—“The Lord hath need of them,”—and it follows, “straightway they will let them go:”—therefore the Truth, uttering those words, begged the animals referred to; for in both these cases they attribute to Christ robbery of the poor. Christ, therefore, in addressing these words to his disciples, “Go into the city,” &c., and especially in giving fulfilment to those words in a manner consistent with justice, shows the extent of his dominion, because John, in the twelfth chapter, says, “Ye call me Master and Lord,” &c. Hence, according to the evangelical doctrine, Christ’s disciples dare not call themselves masters and lords, but servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let heretics, then, compare these three sayings of Christ; in the first place, how he enjoined upon his disciples, in general terms, that they were to go into a certain city, as if he had said,—By reason of the universality of my dominion, whatever I shall ask of any one in my name is provided by him. In the second place, they should mark the expression—“The Master saith;” for Christ who speaks is greater in station than any other man that can be named. Whence to denote the certainty of what he says, and to denote that teachers are worthy of their maintenance, he subjoins distinctly these words, “The Master saith,” &c. But let the same men mark the third expression also—“My time is at hand;” for other men whom Christ does not illuminate in so high a degree, withdraw their help even when they suppose their dearest friends are near death; so when Christ speaks with such certainty and authority, he shows that he makes it imperative on the part of that citizen to do as required. Therefore, to conclude, it is manifest to believers, that the Gospel, so far from teaching that Christ practised such mendicancy, condemns the custom as the height of heresy.