Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The Dangers of False Doctrine
By Thomas Cranmer (14891556)
From the Preface to the Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament
THESE injuries to Christ be so intolerable, that no christian heart can willingly bear them. Wherefore, seeing that many have set to their hands, and whetted their tools, to pluck up the weeds, and to cut down the tree of error, I, not knowing otherwise how to excuse myself at the last day, have in this book set to my hand and axe with the rest, to cut down this tree, and to pluck up the weeds and plants by the roots, which our heavenly Father never planted, but were grafted and sown in his vineyard by his adversary the devil, and antichrist his minister. The Lord grant that this my travail and labour in his vineyard be not in vain, but that it may prosper and bring forth good fruits to his honour and glory! For when I see his vineyard overgrown with thorns, brambles, and weeds, I know that everlasting woe appertaineth unto me, if I hold my peace, and put not to my hands and tongue to labour in purging his vineyard. God I take to witness, who seeth the hearts of all men thoroughly unto the bottom, that I take this labour for none other consideration, but for the glory of his name, and the discharge of my duty, and the zeal that I bear toward the flock of Christ. I know in what office God hath placed me, and to what purpose; that is to say, to set forth his word truly unto his people, to the uttermost of my power, without respect of person, or regard of thing in the world, but of him alone. I know what account I shall make to him hereof at the last day, when every man shall answer for his vocation, and receive for the same good or ill, according as he hath done. I know how antichrist hath obscured the glory of God, and the true knowledge of his word, overcasting the same with mists and clouds of error and ignorance through false glosses and interpretations. It pitieth me to see the simple and hungry flock of Christ led into corrupt pastures, to be carried blindfold they know not whither, and to be fed with poison in the stead of wholesome meats. And moved by the duty, office, and place, whereunto it hath pleased God to call me, I give warning in His name unto all that profess Christ, that they flee far from Babylon if they will save their souls, and to beware of that great harlot, that is to say, the pestiferous see of Rome, that she make you not drunk with her pleasant wine. Trust not her sweet promises, nor banquet not with her; for instead of wine she will give you sour dregs, and for meat she will feed you with rank poison. But come to our Redeemer and Saviour Christ, who refresheth all that truly come unto him, be their anguish and heaviness never so great. Give credit unto him, in whose mouth was never found guile nor untruth. By him you shall be clearly delivered from all your diseases, of him you shall have full remission a poena et a culpa. He it is that feedeth continually all that belong unto him, with his own flesh that hanged upon the cross, and giveth them drink of the blood flowing out of his own side, and maketh to spring within them water that floweth unto everlasting life. Listen not to the false incantations, sweet whisperings, and crafty juggling of the subtle papists, wherewith they have this many years deluded and bewitched the world; but hearken to Christ, give ear unto his words, which lead you the right way unto everlasting life, there with him to live ever as heirs of his kingdom. Amen.