W. T. vn to the Christen reader.
As ye Ä“vious Philistenes stopped ye welles of Abraham Äd filled them vpp with erth / to put ye memoriall out of mÄ«de / to ye entent yt they might chalenge ye grounde: even so the fleshly mÄ«ded ypocrites stoppe vpp the vaynes of life which are in ye scripture / wt the erth of theyr tradiciÅs / false similitudes & lienge allegories: & yt of like zele / to make ye scripture theyr awne possessiÅ & marchaundice: and so shutt vpp the kingdome of heven which is Gods worde nether enterÄ«ge in thÄ“ selues nor soferinge them that wolde.
¶ The scripture hath a body with out / Äd within a soule / sprite & life. It hath wt out a barke / a shell Äd as it were an hard bone for ye fleshly mynded to gnaw vppon. And within it hath pith / cornell / mary & all swetnesse for Gods electe which he hath chosen to geve them his spirite / & to write his law & ye faith of his sonne in their hertes.
¶ The scripture cÅteyneth .iii. thÄ«ges in it first ye law to cÅdemne all flesh: secÅdaryly ye Gospell / yt is to saye / promises of mercie for all yt repent & knowlege their sinnes at the preachÄ«ge of ye law & cÅsent in their hertes that the law is good / & submitte them selues to be scolers to lern to kepe the lawe & to lerne to beleue ye mercie that is promised thÄ“: & thridly the stories & liues of those scolars / both what chaunces fortuned thÄ“ / & also by what meanes their scolemaster taught thÄ“ and made them perfecte / & how he tried the true from the false.
¶ When ye ypocrites come to ye lawe / they put gloses to Äd make no moare of it then of a worldly law which is satisfied with ye outwarde worke and which a turke maye also fulfill. WhÄ“ yet Gods law never ceaseth to cÅdemne a man vntill it be written in his herte and vntill he kepe it naturally without cÅpulsion & all other respecte saue only of pure love to God and his neyboure / as he naturally eateth whÄ“ he is an hongred / without cÅpulsiÅ & all other respecte / saue to slake his hongre only.
¶ And whÄ“ they come to the Gospell / there they mÄ«gle their leuen & saye / God now receaueth vs no moare to mercie / but of mercie receaueth vs to penaunce / that is to wete / holy dedes yt make them fatt belies & vs their captiues / both in soule and body. And yet they fayne theyr Idole ye Pope so mercifull / yt if thou make a litle money glister in his Balams eyes / there is nether penaunce ner purgatory ner any fastÄ«ge at all but to fle to heven as swefte as a thought and at the twinkellynge of an eye.
¶ And the liues stories and gestes of men which are cÅtayned in the bible / they reade as thÄ«ges no moare perteynÄ«ge vn to thÄ“ / then a of RobÄ« hode / & as thÄ«ges they wott not wherto they serue / saue to fayne false discÄt & iuglinge allegories / to stablish their kingdome with all. And one ye chefest & fleshliest studie they have / is to magnifie ye sayntes aboue measure & aboue ye trueth & with their poetrie to make them greater then euer God make them. And if they finde any infirmite or synne asscribed vn to ye saintes / that they excuse with all diligÄ“ce / diminushÄ«ge the glorie of ye mercie of God & robbinge wretched sinners of all theyr cÅforte / & thinke therby to flater the sayntes and to obtayne their fauoure & to make speciall aduocates of thÄ“: even as a man wold obtayne ye fauoure of wordely tirantes: as they also fayne the saintes moch moare cruell then ever was any heathÄ“ man & moare wrekefull and vengeable then ye poetes faine their godes or their furies yt torment ye soules in hell / if theyr euÄ“s be not fasted & their images visited & saluted wyth a Pater noster (whych prayer only oure lippes be accoynted with oure hertes vnderstÅdinge none at all) and worsheped wt a candell & ye offerÄ«ge of oure deuociÅ/ in ye place which thei haue chosen to heare ye supplicaciÅs & meke peticiÅs of their clientes therin.
¶ But thou reader thÄ«ke of ye law of God how yt it is all to gether spirituall / & so spirituall yt it is neuer fulfilled wt dedes or werkes / vntill they flow out of thyne herte wt as greate loue toward thy neyboure / for no deseruÄ«ge of his ye though he be thine enimie / as Christ loued ye Äd did for the / for no deseruÄ«ge of thyne / but evÄ“ whÄ“ thou wast his enimie....