Enemies of Truth are often more Diligent to win over Hearts and Minds than Those on the Side of Truth

October 7, 2021 • 4 min

From Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More, page 275

More did not find many Englishmen to share his anxieties; he thus expresses and laments the general apathy of good Catholics:

If because we know our cause so good we bear ourselves thereupon so bold, that we make light and slight of our adversaries, it may happen to fare between the Catholics and heretics at length, as it fareth sometimes in a suit at the law by some good man, against whom a subtle, wily shrew [i.e. a rogue] beginneth a false action, and asketh from him all the land he hath. This good man sometimes, that knoweth his matter so true, persuadeth to himself that it were not possible for him to lose it by the law.

And when his counsel talketh with him, and asketh him how he can prove this point or that for himself, answereth again: “Fear ye not for that, sir, I warrant you all the country knoweth it. The matter is so true and my part so plain, that I care not what judges, what arbiters, what twelve men go thereon. I will challenge no man for any labour that mine adversary can make therein.”

And with such good hope the good man goeth him home, and there sitteth still and putteth no doubt in the matter. But in the meanwhile his adversary, which for lack of truth of his cause must needs put all his trust in craft, goeth about his matter busily, and by all the false means he may, maketh him friends, some with good fellowship, some with rewards, findeth a fellow to forge him false evidence, maketh means to the sheriff, getteth a partial panel, laboureth the jury, and when they come to the bar hath all his trinkets ready; whereas good Tom Truth cometh forth upon the other side, and because he weeneth all the world knoweth how true his matter is, bringeth never a witness with him, and all his evidence unsorted.

And one wist I once that brought unto the bar, when the jury was sworn, and openly delivered his counsel, his tinder box, with his flint and his matches, instead of his box of evidence, for that had he left at home. So negligent are good folk sometimes, when the known truth of their matter maketh them over bold.

And surely much after this fashion in many places play these heretics and we. For like as a few birds, always chirking and flying from bush to bush, seem a great many, so these heretics be so busily walking, that in every ale-house, in every tavern, in every barge, and almost every boat, as few as they be, a man shall always find some.

And there be they so busy with their talking (and in better places also where they may be heard), so fervent and importune in putting forth of anything which may serve for the furtherance of their purpose, that between their importunate preaching and the diligence or rather the negligence of good Catholic men, appeareth oft times as great a difference as between frost and fire.

And surely between the true Catholic folk and the false heretics, it fareth also much like as it fared between false Judas and Christ’s faithful Apostles. For while they, for all Christ’s calling upon them to wake and pray, fell fast in a slumber, and after in dead sleep, the traitor neither slept nor slumbered, but went about full busily to betray his Master, and bring himself to mischief.

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