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thee ; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ, and blessed is Anna thy mother, of whom thy virgin's flesh hath proceeded without blot of original sin. Amen.
Wherein thou mayst note (gentle reader) for thy learning, three things: first, how the pope turneth that improperly into a prayer, which properly was sent of God for a message or tidings. Secondly, how the pope addeth to the words of the scripture, contrary to the express precept of the Lord. Thirdly, how the pope exempteth Mary the blessed virgin, not only from the seed of Abraham and Adam, but also from the condition of a mortal creature: for if there be in her no original sin, then she beareth not the image of Adam, neither doth she descend of that seed, of whose seed evil proceedeth upon all men and women to condemnation, as St. Paul doth teach, Romans v. Wherefore, if she descend of that seed, then the infection of original evil must necessarily proceed unto her. If she descend not thereof, then cometh she not of the seed of Abraham, nor of the seed of David, &c. Again, seeing that death is the effect and stipend of sin, by the doctrine of St Paul, Rom. vi. then had her flesh injury by the law, as Christ himself had, to suffer the malediction and punishment of death, and so should never have died, if original sin had no place in her, &c." But to re
turn unto our story. This constitution of the pope being set forth for the conception of the blessed virgin, which was the year of our Lord 1476, it was not long after, but the said Pope Sixtus, perceiving that the Dominic friars with their complices would not conform themselves hereunto, directed forth, by the authority apostolical, a bull in effect as followeth:
“ Sane cum sancta Romana ecclesia de intemeratæ semperque virginis, &c. In English : “ Whereas the holy church of Rome hath ordained a special and proper service for the public solemnization of the feast of the conception of the blessed Virgin Mary : certain orders of the black friars, in their public sermons to the people in divers places, have not ceased hitherto to preach, and yet daily do, that all they which hold or affirm the said glorious virgin to have been conceived without original sin be heretics; and they which celebrate the service of the said her conception, or do hear the sermons of them which do so affirm, do sin grievously. Also, not contented herewith, do write and set forth books, moreover, maintaining their assertions, to the great offence and ruin of godly minds: We therefore, to prevent and withstand such presumptuous and perverse assertions which have arisen, (and more hereafter may arise by such opinions and preachings aforesaid, in the minds of the faithful) by authority apostolical,
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 thạn 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 a 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 pot 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 conceiyed immaculate