From Lydgate's The Siege of Thebes
And his song/ this auctour can yow teche,
Was no thyng / but the crafty speche
Of this kyng / ycalled Amphioun
And thus the wallis made of lym and stoon,
Were Reysed first be syngying of this kyng
Lich as Poetys feyne in her writyng
Passyng Rich and Royal of entaille.
(In The Siege of Thebes, John Lydgate imagines that he joins the Canterbury pilgrims at Canterbury, and he tells the story of the siege of Thebes which precedes the opening to The Knight's Tale.)
"In this aforesaid parliament, and in the twelfth year of King Richard's reign, he let cry and ordain general jousts, that is called a tournament, of lords, knights, and squires. And these jousts and tournaments were held at London in Smithfield, for all manner of strangers, of whatever land and country they were from, and thither they were right welcome; and to them and to all others was held open household and great feasts; and also great gifts were given to all manner of strangers. And they of the king's side were all of one suit: their coats, their armour, shields, and their horses and trappings--all was white harts, with crowns about their necks and chains of gold hanging thereupon, and the crown hanging low before the hart's body; the which hart was the king's livery that he gave to lords and ladies, knights and squires, to know his household from other people. And at this first coming to their jousts, 24 ladies led these 24 lords of the Garter with chains of gold, and all in the same suit of harts as was before said, from the Tower, on horseback through the city of London into Smithfield where the jousts were to be held. And this feast and jousts were held general, and to all those who wished to come, of whatever land or nation that ever they came from, and this was held during 24 days, at the king's own cost, and these 24 lords to answer to all manner of people that would come thither. And thither came the Earl of St. Poule of France, and many other worthy knights with him from diverse parts, full well arrayed. And out of Holland and Heinalt came the Lord Ostrenaunde, that was the Duke of Holland's son and many other worthy knights with him, both from Holland and Heinalt, full well arrayed. And when these feasts and jousts were done and ended, the King thanked these strangers and gave them many great gifts, and then they took their leave of the king and of other lords and ladies and went home again to their own countries, with great love and much thanks."
The Brut, or the Chronicles of England, ed. Friedrich W. D. Brie (London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner and Co., Ltd, 1908) E.E.T.S., vol 2, p. 343, translation mine.
Thomas Aquinas discusses the possibility that some people, even though they
have not been baptized, can attain salvation by virtue of baptism of desire (a
person who desires baptism but is prevented from receiving it) and baptism of
blood (death by martyrdom). From the Summa Theologica, III, 68, 2:
Objection 1. It seems that no man can be saved without Baptism. For our Lord said (John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." But those alone are saved who enter God's kingdom. Therefore none can be saved without Baptism, by which a man is born again of water and the Holy Ghost.
Objection 2. Further, in the book De Eccl. Dogm. xli, it is written: "We believe that no catechumen, though he die in his good works, will have eternal life, except he suffer martyrdom, which contains all the sacramental virtue of Baptism." But if it were possible for anyone to be saved without Baptism, this would be the case specially with catechumens who are credited with good works, for they seem to have the "faith that worketh by charity" (Gal. 5:6). Therefore it seems that none can be saved without Baptism.
Objection 3. Further, as stated above (1; 65, 4), the sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. Now that is necessary "without which something cannot be" (Metaph. v). Therefore it seems that none can obtain salvation without Baptism.
On the contrary,Augustine says (Super Levit. lxxxiv) that "some have received the invisible sanctification without visible sacraments, and to their profit; but though it is possible to have the visible sanctification, consisting in a visible sacrament, without the invisible sanctification, it will be to no profit." Since, therefore, the sacrament of Baptism pertains to the visible sanctification, it seems that a man can obtain salvation without the sacrament of Baptism, by means of the invisible sanctification.
I answer that, The sacrament or Baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, both in reality and in desire; as is the case with those who neither are baptized, nor wished to be baptized: which clearly indicates contempt of the sacrament, in regard to those who have the use of the free-will. Consequently those to whom Baptism is wanting thus, cannot obtain salvation: since neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through Whom alone can salvation be obtained.
Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism, which desire is the outcome of "faith that worketh by charity," whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly. Hence Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: "I lost him whom I was to regenerate: but he did not lose the grace he prayed for."
Reply to Objection 1. As it is written (1 Kgs. 16:7), "man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart." Now a man who desires to be "born again of water and the Holy Ghost" by Baptism, is regenerated in heart though not in body. thus the Apostle says (Rm. 2:29) that "the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God."
Reply to Objection 2. No man obtains eternal life unless he be free from all guilt and debt of punishment. Now this plenary absolution is given when a man receives Baptism, or suffers martyrdom: for which reason is it stated that martyrdom "contains all the sacramental virtue of Baptism," i.e. as to the full deliverance from guilt and punishment. Suppose, therefore, a catechumen to have the desire for Baptism (else he could not be said to die in his good works, which cannot be without "faith that worketh by charity"), such a one, were he to die, would not forthwith come to eternal life, but would suffer punishment for his past sins, "but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" as is stated 1 Cor. 3:15.
Reply to Objection 3. The sacrament of Baptism is said to be
necessary for salvation in so far as man cannot be saved without, at least,
Baptism of desire; "which, with God, counts for the deed" (Augustine, Enarr.
in Ps. 57).
Hypertext Version Copyright © 1995
Hypertext Version Copyright © 1995
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