In my opinion you have exposed the artifices of the false brethren satisfactorily, and without undue harshness; but describe more particularly the way in which they seduce the countries they inhabit; for it appears to me, that since they have not leave from their own sovereign to bring ruin on the place wherein they dwell, and do not recognise the king as liege lord of their temporal possessions, they have another lord, namely, Antichrist.
Methinks, in overlooking the pith of the matter,—the good of the soul, you may exert yourself unfaithfully about a merely temporal offscouring. Yet I am certain that these sects of the friars carry on their machinations to the hurt and prejudice of kingdoms, as though it were their intent to destroy them. For it would amount to the same thing for the friars, if they should, without leave asked or obtained of their respective sovereigns, set up Antichrist, as lord over all the property they possess, both houses and moveables, and make him sovereign of the kingdoms they inhabit. Because, if some iniquitous Antichrist should chance to have under him more friars than a good pope, what is there, except the grace of God, and the strength of the kingdom, to hinder his seizing on the realm of England as his own? For it is said that he has in England treasure ample enough for that purpose. And, as the friars pretend, it would be altogether contrary to reason to put a check upon the power of such an one, so as to prevent his turning to his own purposes those possessions which are made his own by the occupation of the friars. Now this is only an artful introduction to prepare the way for a claim on all the residue of the kingdom.
The believer, therefore, should prudently counsel our sovereign to resist these insidious beginnings. This acting of Satan is seen more plainly in the fact, that the friars are aware that it is against the logic of Scripture they thus utter their falsehoods. For they pretend, in order to make an appearance of sanctity, that they can hold nothing, either as their own individually, or as common property—a ground they cannot defend with effect, unless they admit, at the same time, that they are heretics, and members of the devil—for it is certain, that as they have natural existence, and the goods of nature, so they have in possession many of the goods of fortune. Therefore, if they in truth are possessed of nothing themselves, and yet to so large an extent abuse the possession of others, then they must be plainly members of Satan, on the ground of their possessing, by the pretended grace of Christ, what belongs to others. But if they say that they possess nothing in particular, or in common, in a civil, but only in a gospel sense, it is then certain, cæteris paribus, that they imply the civil dominion of the pope, the vicar of Peter, and so that of Christ. And since it is allowable (as they say) for them to exercise dominion in whatever way Christ in his humanity exercised dominion, it is allowable for them to exercise civil dominion. But why do they impose on the vicar of Peter, and so on Peter himself, such dominion, when neither Peter nor Christ could, in such circumstances, exercise such dominion? Are we to believe that these friars excel Christ, that they thus set Antichrist over kingdoms, and make him lord of lords? If then these friars in words only exclude themselves from this dominion, and confer the thing itself on their father, who they say is next to Christ, of necessity they must either blaspheme Christ, or assert that, in so doing, they subject their father to a spiritual stain and poison.
But leaving this ancient archery, which we pass by because of its folly, it appears that the friars have in general intoxicated the kingdom, particularly since the year of our Lord 1072, and especially in their own recent council, held in the time of the earthquake in London. For it is credibly reported, and the friars maintain and defend their conduct in this particular, that the more artful among them, and the heads of these orders, by their common council, so successfully drew over many bishops, as to induce them to agree to what implied that our Lord Jesus Christ, and many of his saints now in the highest blessedness, died heretics. Into a greater blasphemy these heretics could not have precipitated themselves. Previously, our bishops are said to have hated the false brethren as they hated Satan, when in the time of the lord bishop of Armagh, we are told they defended that prelate in his controversy with these false orders. But now Herod and Pilate, who were before at variance, are made friends. From this I predict two consequences. First, that inasmuch as this alliance is not founded on the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, it will not stand, but come to an end, to the hurt of one party or the other, since the Christian can have no profitable fellowship with Belial. Secondly, I predict that our bishops and nobles must either desert the doctrines of these false brethren herein, or be involved with them in heresy. For in their first article the friars have determined (as in opposition to heresy) that no part of the substance of the material bread or wine remains after consecration in the sacrament of the altar. Opposed to this (say they) is the manifest heresy—for heresy it is—that the accidents do not remain without the subject, after consecration in this same sacrament. Although I have determined that out of the schools I will not use these terms,—the substance of the material bread or wine, yet my faith compels me to admit the convertibility of the terms in this proposition; for as St. Jerome saith—the bread which Christ took in his hands and brake, is the body of the Lord our Saviour. But I ask, what was that bread? Was it the substance of material bread, or something else unknown? When therefore Christ said that this bread was his body, and these friars deny the same as the height of heresy, it is plain, that, as far as in them lies, they condemn Christ as the worst of heretics. Now since the conditions of such condemnation make it necessary that the party condemning should be the heretical one, it follows plainly, since Christ could not possibly be a heretic, that this sect of the friars is utterly heretical, either in express terms, or by tacit consent. Again, the substance of the body of Christ remains after consecration in the sacrament of the altar, as it behoves the friars to believe; and wheresoever is the substance of the body of Christ, there is the most general genus of substance, and therefore the thing itself remains, after consecration in the sacrament of the altar. And since the thing itself is the substance and quiddity of every special substance whatsoever, it follows, that it is the substance of any material bread or wine whatever; and thus the folly of the condemnation they pronounce is manifest. For it is not inconsistent with this sacrament, that a crumb of material bread, or a drop of wine, should be received within the pores of this venerable sacrament. Again, as we have often observed, if, according to the definition of these blasphemers, there be in this sacrament an accident without a subject, they should admit that this accident is the sacrament itself; and since an accident cannot be the body of the Lord, they are shut up to the conclusion that the sacrament itself cannot be the body of the Lord. Since Christ says, “This is my body,” and displays the bread, as is shown above, it follows that these heretics, in being so expressly contrary to Christ, are blasphemers. Hence it is that many of the faithful devoutly believe, that, as in that other condemnation of Christ by the priests of the old law, (which was less to be reprobated) so in this condemnation of him, there was an unusual shaking of the earth, to expose the deficiency of human testimony against such guilt; for when the members of Christ fail to exclaim against such idiot heretics, the very earth cries out. My advice, then, to our bishops, and our seculars, without exception, is, that they expel such men, since these devils would fain seduce by their heresy others who stand firm in the faith.