But, doubtless, necessity is a hard weapon. Pardon these subterfuges. Throughout the whole course of fifteen centuries these men find neither town, village nor household professing their doctrine, until an unhappy monk by an incestuous marriage had deflowered a virgin vowed to God, or a Swiss gladiator had conspired against his country, or a branded runaway had occupied Geneva. These people, if they want to have a Church at all, are compelled to crack up a Church all hidden away; and to claim parents whom they themselves have never known, and no mortal has ever set eyes on, Perhaps they glory in the ancestry of men whom every one knows to have been heretics, such as Aerius, Jovinianus, Vigilantius, Helvidius, Berengarius, the Waldenses, the Lollards, Wycliffe, Huss, of whom they have begged sundry poisonous fragments of dogmas. Wonder not that I have no fear of their empty talk: once I can meet them in the noon-day, I shall have no trouble in dispelling such vapourings. Our conversation with them would take this line. Tell me, do you subscribe to the Church which flourished in bygone ages? Certainly. Let us traverse, then, different countries and periods. What Church? The assembly of the faithful. What faithful? Their names are unknown, but it is certain that there have been many of them. Certain? to whom is it certain? To God Who says so! We, who have been taught of God—stuff and nonsense, how am I to believe it? If you had the fire of faith in you, you would know it as well as you know you are alive. Let in as spectators, could you withhold your laughter? To think that all Christians should be bidden to join the Church; to beware of being cut down by the spiritual sword; to keep peace in the house of God; to trust their soul to the Church as to the pillar of truth; to lay all their complaints before the Church; to hold for heathen all who are cast out of the Church; and that nevertheless so many men for so many centuries should not know where the Church is or who belong to it! This much only they prate in the darkness, that wherever the Church is, only Saints and persons destined for heaven are contained in it. Hence it follows that whoever wishes to withdraw himself from the authority of his ecclesiastical superior has only to persuade himself that the priest has fallen into sin and is quite cut off from the Church. Knowing as I did that the adversaries were inventing these fictions, contrary to the customary sense of the Churches in all ages, and that, having lost the whole substance, they still wished in their difficulties to retain the name, I took comfort in the thought of your sagacity, and so promised myself that, as soon as ever you had cognisance of such artifices by their own confession, you would at once like men of mark and intelligence rend asunder the web of foolish sophistry woven for your undoing.