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REFORMATION. Amid the corruptions of the or the unwritten word, was set up. This had Christian church, from its first aberration from the been the artifice of the earliest heretics, who, simplicity of the gospel down to the council of when they were charged with holding doctrines Trent, there have ever been those who exhibited not according to scripture, affirmed that some 'the faith and patience of the saints:' and to these things had been revealed which were not compersons, who amid persecution, and contempt, mitted to writing, but were orally transmitted. and neglect, were indeed the salt of the earth, The pharisees before them pleaded the same supwe are indebted, under God, for those efforts posititious authority for the formalities which they which, after many conflicts and trials, terminated superadded to the law, and by which they somein the reformation of the Christian profession in times superseded it, making the word of God of the sixteenth century; and divested it of that none effect,' as our Saviour himself reproached gorgeousness, extravagance, and ceremonial for- them; upon this ground the Romish clergy jusmality, by which its purity and spirituality had tified all the devices of man's imagination with been long obscured, and well nigh obliterated. which they had corrupted the ritual and the faith The conflicts between truth and error, light and of the western churches. darkness, had endured, with more or less of vio At one time relics, or entire bodies, used to be lence and alternate success, from the time of carried about the country and exhibited to the Paulinus of Apulia to that of Wickliff'; and credulous multitude ; but this gainful practice thence down to those of the great Luther. It is gave occasion to such scandalous impostures true the powers of ignorance and of a corrupt that it was at length suppressed; but what is still religion held the minds of mankind in the deep- encouraged is sufficiently disgraceful to the Roest thraldom; and few, comparatively, were manists. those who felt their moral degradation, and sigh I. State of the Romish church. A review of ed after a holier and a more pure faith: yet were the then existing state of the Romish faith and these few valiant for the truth,'' not counting practice will, at once, justify the efforts of those their lives dear unto themselves.' Of these many who sought to reform their abuses and restore who adhered to the gospel, and remained uncor- the purity of its doctrine and discipline. The rupted amidst the growth of superstition; who bodies of the saints were, at times, exposed in deplored the miserable state to which Christianity their churches, some dried and shrivelled, others was reduced by the alteration of its divine doc- reduced to a skeleton, clothed either in religious trines, and the vices of its profligate ministers; habits or in the most gorgeous garments ;-a opposed with vigor the tyrannical ambition both spectacle as ghastly as the superstition itself is of the lordly pontiff and the aspiring bishops; degrading! The poor fragments of mortality, and in some provinces privately, in others a scull, a bone, or the fragment of a bone, or openly, attempted the reformation of a corrupt tooth, or a tongue, were either set or mounted, and idolatrous church, and of a barbarous and according to the size, in gold or silver; depositsuperstitious age. This was, indeed, bearing ed in costliest shrines of the finest workmanship, witness to the truth in the noblest manner. and enriched with the most precious gems.
Before, however, we enter on a raview of the Churches soon began to vie with each cther in various attempts which were thus made to cor- the number and variety of these imaginary trearect the abuses of the Roman church, it will be sures, which were sources of real wealth to their necessary to take a survey of its actual state, at posessors: the instruments of our Lord's crucithe period to which we refer. That authority, fixion were shown (the spear and the cross bavto which the church could lay no claim for the ing, so it was pretended, been miraculously purity of its members, was supported by its ar- discovered); the clothes wherein he was wrapt in rogant pretensions; availing itself of all notions, infancy; the manger in which he was laid ; the accidents, practices, and frauds, from which any vessels in which he converted water into wine at advantage could be derived, till the whole mon- the marriage feast ; the bread which he brake at strous accumulation assumed a coherent form, the last supper; his vesture, for which the solwhich well deserves to be called the mystery diers cast lots. Such was the impudence of Roof iniquity.' The scriptures, even in the Latin mish fraud, that portions were produced of the version, had long become a sealed book to the burning bush, of the manna which fell in the people: and the Roman see, in proportion as it wilderness, of Moses's and Samson's honeycomb, extended its supremacy, discouraged or proscrib- of Tobit's fish, of the blessed Virgin's milk, and ed the use of such vernacular versions as existed. of our Saviour's blood ! Enormous prices were This it did, not lest the ignorant and half inform- paid by sovereigns for such relics; it was deemed should mistake the sense of Scripture, nor ed excusable, not to covet merely, but to steal lest the presumptuous and the perverse should them; and if the thieves were sometimes miradeduce new errors in doctrine, and more fatal culously punished they were quite as often consequences in practice, from its distorted lan- enabled by miracle to effect the pious robbery, guage; but in the secret and sure consciousness and bring the prize in triumph to the church for that what was now taught as Christianity was not which it was designed. In the rivalry of deceit 10 be found in the written word of God. In which the desire of gain occasiuned, it often maintenance of the dominant system, tradition, happened that the head of the same saint was
shown in several churches, each church insist- out Christendom; and she was worshipped uning that its own was genuine, and all appealing der innumerable appellations, devotees to miracles as the test. Sometimes the dispute believing that the one which they particularly afwas accomplished in a more satisfactory manner, fected was that to which the object of their by asserting a miraculous multiplication, and adoration most willingly inclined her ear. By three whole bodies of one person have been such representations and fables, the belief of the shown; the dead saint having tripled bimself people became so entirely corrupted that Christ, to terminate a dispute between three churches at instead of being regarded as our mediator and his funeral! The catacombs at Rome were an Redeemer, appeared to them in the character of inexhaustible mine of relics.
a jealous God, whom it behoved them to propiWith the reverence which was paid to relics, tiate through the mediation of his virgin mother; arising thus naturally at first, and converted by for through her alone could mercy and salvation crafty priests into a source of lucre, saint worship be obtained. The pantheon, which Agrippa had grew up. If such virtue resided in their earthly dedicated to Jupiter and all the gods, was by the and perishable remains, how great must be the pope, who converted it into a church, inscribed power wherewith their beatified spirits were in to the blessed Virgin, and all the saints. The vested in heaven! The Greeks and Romans consequence of this persuasion brought into full attributed less to their demigods than the Catho- view the weakness and strength of human nature; lic church has done to those of its members who in some respects they degraded it below the beasts. have received their apotheosis. They were in- The dearest and holiest ties of nature and society voked as mediators between God and man; were set at nought by those who believed that individuals claiined the peculiar protection of the way to secure their own salvation was to those whose names they had received in baptism; take upon themselves the obligations of a monasand towns, and kingdoms, chose each their tute tic life. They regarded it as merit to renounce lary saint. But, though every saint was able to all intercourse with their nearest friends and kin; avert all dangers and heal all maladies, each was and, being by profession dead to the world, rensupposed to exert his influence more particularly dered themselves, by a moral suicide, dead in in some specific one, which was determined by reality to its duties and affections. For the sake the circumstances of his life or martyrdom, the of saving their own souls, or of attaining a higher accidental analogy of a name, or by chance and seat in the kingdom of heaven, they sacrificed, custom if these shadows of a cause were wanting without compunction, the feelings, and, as far as The virtue which they possessed they imparted depended upon them, the welfare and happiness to their images, in which, indeed, it was affirmed of a wife, parent, or child; yet when the conthat they were really and potentially present, par- version of others was to be promoted, these very taking of ubiquity in their beatitude. Church persons, it is but justice to add, were ready to vied with church, and convent with convent, in encounter any danger and to offer up their lives, the reputation of their wonder-working images, not in doing good to others, but in inflicting the some of which were pretended to have been greatest possible quantity of discomfort and acmade without hands, and some to have descend- tual suffering upon themselves. It was deemed ed from heaven! But the rivalry of the monastic meritorious to disfigure the body by neglect and orders was shown in the fictions wherewith they filth, to attenuate it by fasting and watchfulness, filled the histories of their respective founders and to lacerate it with stripes, and to fret the wounds worthies. While the monastic orders contended with cilices of horse hair. Linen was proscribed with each other in exaggerating the fame of their among the monastic orders; and the use of the deceased patriarchs, each claimed the Virgin warm bath, which, being not less conducive Mary for its especial patroness. Some peculiar to health than to cleanliness, had become general favor she had bestowed upon each; she had ap in all the Roman provinces, ceased throughout pointed their rule of life, or devised the pattern Christendom; because, according to the morality of their habits, or enjoined them some new prac- of the monastic school, cleanliness itself was a tice of devotion, or granted them some singular luxury, and to procure it by pleasurable means privilege. She had espoused their founder with was a positive sin. There were some saints who a ring, or fed him like a babe at her breast. All never washed themselves, and made it a point therefore united in elevating her to the highest rank of conscience never to disturb the vermin who in the mythology of the Romish church--for so, were the proper accompaniments of such sanctity; in strict truth, must this enormous system of fa- in as far as they occasioned pain while burrowble be designated. They traced her in types ing; or, at pasture, were increasing the stock of throughout the Old Testament: She was the tree the aspirant's merits. The act of eating they made of life; the ladder which Jacob had seen leading an exercise of penance, by mingling whatever from heaven to earth; the rod which brought was most nauseous with their food. They bound forth buds and blossoms, and produced fruit; chains round the body which ate into the flesh; the ever burning bush; the ark of the covenant; or fastened graters upon the breast and back; or the fleece upon which alone the dew of heaven girded themselves with bandages of bristles indescended." And though, indeed, being subject iermixed with points of wire. Cases of horrid to death, she paid the common tribute of mor self-mutilation were sometimes discovered; and tality; yet, having been born without sin, she ex many perished by a painful and lingering suipired without suffering, and her most holy body, cide, believing that, in the torments which they too pure a thing see corruption, was transla inflicted upon themselves, they were offering an immediately to heaven, there to be glorified. Her acceptable sacrifice to their Creator. Some beimage was to be found in every church through- came famous for the number of their daily ge
nuflections; others for immersing themselves to for ever, to this end. Thus were men taught to the neck in cold water during winter while they put their trust in riches; their wealth, being thus recited the psalter. Thus there was created á invested, became available to them beyond the large and accumulating fund of good works, which, grave; and in whatever sins they indulged, prothough supererogatory in the saints, were never- vided they went through the proper forms and theless not to be lost. The redemption which obtained a discharge, they might purchase a free had been purchased for fallen man was held to passage through purgatory, or, at least, an abbe from external punishment only; sin was not, breviation of the term and a mitigation of its tortherefore, to go unpunished, even in repentant sin- ments while they lasted. But purgatory was not ners who had confesssed and received absolution. the only invisible world over which the authority The souls of baptised children, it was held, pass- of the church extended ; for to the pope, as to the ed immediately to heaven: but for all others, ex- representative of St. Peter, it was pretended that cept the few who attained to eminent holiness in the keys of heaven and hell were given; a portheir lives, purgatory was prepared ; a place, ac- tion of this power was delegated to every priest, cording to the popular belief, so near the region and they inculcated that the soul which departed of everlasting torments, though separated from it, without confession and absolution, bore with it that the same fire pervaded both; acting indeed the weight of its deadly sins to sink it to perdito a different end, and in different degrees, but tion. even in its mildest effect inflicting sufferings Of all the practices of the Romish church this more intense than heart could think or tongue is the one which has proved most injurious to reexpress, and enduring for a length of time which ligion and morals; and, if it be regarded in conwas left fearfully indefinite. Happily for man nexion with the celibacy of the clergy, the cause kind, the authority of the pope extended over this will be apparent why the state of morals is gedreadful place. The works of supererogation neraliy so much more corrupt in Catholic than were at his disposal, and his treasure was inex. in Protestant countries. Tables were actually haustible, because it contained an immeasurable set forth, by authority, in which the rate of aband infinite store derived from the atonement. solution for any imaginable crime was fixed, and One drop of the Redeemer's blood being sufficient the most atrocious might be committed with to redeem the whole human race, the rest which spiritual impunity for few shillings. The had been shed during the passion was given as a church of Rome appears to have delighted in inlegacy to be applied in mitigation of purgatory, lting as well as in abusing human credulity, as the popes in their wisdom might think fit. and to have pleased herself with discovering how So they in their infallibility declared, and so the far it was possible to subdue and degrade the people believed ! The popes were liberal of this human intellect, as an eastern despot measures treasure.
his own greatness by the servile prostration of If they wished to promote a new practice of his subjects. If farther proof than has already devotion, or encourage a particular shrine, they appeared were needful, it would be found in the granted to those who should perform the one or prodigious doctrine of transubstantiation. Strange visit the other an indulgence, that is a dispensa as it may appear, the doctrine had become popution for so many years of purgatory; sometimes lar-with the people for its very extravagancefor shorter terms, but often by centuries, or with the clergy because they grounded upon it thousands of years, and in many cases the indul- their loftiest pretensions; for if there were in the gence was plenary-a toll ticket entitling the sacrament this actual and entire sole presence, soul to pass scot free. All persons, however, which they denoted by the term transubstantiacould not perform pilgrimages; and even the tion, it followed that divine worship was something accommodating device of the church, which pro- more than a service of prayer and thanksgivingmised large indulgences for saying certain prayers an actual sacrifice was performed in it, wherein, before the engraved portrait of a miraculous they affirmed, the Saviour was again offered up, image, was liable in numerous instances to be in the same body which had suffered on the cross, frustrated. The picture might not find its way by their hands. The priest, when he performed this to remote places, the opportunity of acquiring it stupendous function of his ministry, had before might be neglected, or it might remain in the his eyes, and held in his hands, the maker of possession of its unthinking owner, a forgotten heaven and earth ; and the inference which they thing. The Romish church, in its infinite be- deduced from so blasphemo
mous an assumption was, nevolence, considered this, and therefore sold that the clergy were not to be subject to any seindulgences, making the act of purchasing them, cular authority, seeing that they could create God and thus contributing to its wants, a merit of itself their Creator! Let it not be supposed that the sufficient to deserve so inestimable a reward. It statement is in the slightest part exaggerated : it was taught, also, that merits were transferrible by is delivered faithfully in their own words. If, gift or purchase : under this persuasion large then, such were the power of the clergy, even of endowments were bestowed upon convents, on the meanest priest, what must be attributed to condition that the donor should partake in the their earthly head, the successor of St. Peter? merits of the community; and few persons, who They claimed for him a plenitude of power; and bad any property at their own disposal, went out it has been seen that he exercised it over the of the world without bequeathing some of it to princes of Christendom in its fullest meaning. the clergy for saying masses, in number propor- According to the canons the pope was as far tioned to the amount of the bequest, for the bc- above all kings as the sun is greater than the nefit of their souls. The wealthy founded moon. He was king of kings and lord of lords, chantries, in which service was to be performed though he subscribed himself the servant of ser
vants. The immediate and sole rule of the not more merciful than Christ, inasmuch as he whole world belonged to him, by natural, moral, delivered souls from the pains of purgatory, and divine right; all authority depending upon whereas we do not read that this was ever him. As supreme king, he might impose taxes done by our Saviour. Lastly, it was affirmed upon all Christians; and the popes declared it that he might do things unlawful, and thus could was to be held as a point necessary to salvation, do more than God. All this was certain, because that every human creature is subject to the Ro- the church was infallible. Where this fallibility man pontiff. That he might lawfully depose resided the Romanists have differed among kings was averred to be so certain a doctrine that themselves, some vesting it in the pope, others it could only be denied by madmen, or through requiring the concurrence of a general council. the instigation of the devil; it was more perni- Infallible, however, it was determined that the cious and intolerable to deny it than to err con Roman Catholic church must be, and thus the cerning the sacraments. All nations and king- keystone was put to this prodigious structure of doms were under the pope's jurisdiction; for io imposture and wickedness. No one acquainted bim had God delivered over the power and do- with ecclesiastical history will consider this view minion in heaven and earth. Nay, he might of the morals and conditions of the Roman take away kingdoms and empires, with or with- church as exaggerated or incorrect, We will out cause, and give them to whom he pleased, therefore turn to a more grateful subject, and though the sovereign whom he should depose briefly trace the various efforts which were were, in every respect, not merely blameless but made to correct this lamentable state of things, meritorious. It was reason enough for the and to bring back the church to its original fuchange that the pope deemed it convenient. rity and discipline. The spouse of the church was vice-God: men II. The early efforts at reform.-As early as were commanded to bow at his name, as the reign of Charlemagne, Paulinus, a royal faat the name of Christ; the proudest sovereigns vorite, and the bishop of Aquilia, employed his waited upon him like menials, led his horse by the voice and his pen to arrest the progress of these bridle, and held his stirrup while he alighted; and similar corruptions. In the year 804 his and there were ambassadors who prostrated honorable career was terminated, and in a few themselves before him, saying, “O thou that tak- years later it devolved on the celebrated Claude est away the sins of the world, have njercy upon of Turin to check the same abuses, to advocate us!' The advocates of the papal power pro- the same truth, and to scatter more widely the claimed that any secular laws which might be seeds of future opposition and reform. The passed, against a decree of the Roman Pontiff, sovereignty of the Redeemer in his church was were in themselves null and void : and that all so maintained by this prelate as virtually to anpontifical decrees ought for ever to be observed, nihilate the ambitious pretensions of the Roman by all men, like the word of God; to be received see. The worship of images he denounced as as if they came from the mouth of St. Peter gross idolatry; the childish veneration of relics himself, and held like canonical scripture. Nei- he exposed to its deserved contempt: and, disther the Catholic faith, nor the four evangelists, carding prayer for the dead as the device of man, could avail those who rejected them, this being a his zeal bowed to no authority in religion, opsin which was never to be remitted. Christ had posed to the obvious meaning of the sacred bestowed upon the pope, when he spake as such, Scriptures. Explaining the doctrine of justifithe same infallibility which resided in himself. cation by faith alone, with a force and perspicuAnd were he utterly to neglect his duty, and by ity not unworthy of Luther, the papal scheme of his misconduct draw down innumerable souls to merit was greatly broken and impeded by his lahell with bim, there to be eternally tormented, bors. More than twenty years of his life were no mortal man might presume to reprove him for devoted to this warfare against the prevailing suhis faults.
perstitions, and to the cause of Christian truth, Even this monstrous proposition was advanced, as embraced by its earliest disciples. that, although the Catholic faith teaches all virtue The episcopal authority of Turin extended to be good and all vice evil, nevertheless if the over the valleys of Piedmont, and that the faith pope, through error, should enjoin vices to be defended by Claude was preserved on that localcommitted, and prohibit virtues, the church ity through the ninth and tenth centuries is the would be bound to believe that vices were good testimony of Catholic writers. Before tbe close and virtues evil, and would sin in conscience of this period the fires of persecution were were it to believe otherwise. He could change kindled in that favored diocese, in the hope of the nature of things, and make injustice justice. consigning both the name and the doctrine of its Nor was it possible that he should be amenable distinguished reformer to oblivion. But in the to any secular power; for he had been called hour of trial the disciple was often found to be God by Constantine, and God was not to be worthy of his master; while the zeal of such as judged by man: under God, the salvation of all were expelled their home increased by a natural the faithful depended on him, and commentators process with the increase of suffering, never even gave him the blasphemous appellation of failing to convert the fact of their dispersion into our Lord God the pope ! It was disputed in the means of imparting a more extended influthe schools whether he could not abrogate what ence to their obnoxious creed. It was in the the apostles had enjoined; determine an opinion century commencing with the year following that contrary to theirs, and add a new article to the in which the poem of the Troubadours, entitled creed; whether he did not, as God, participate la Nobla Leyczon, was completed, that Peter de both natures with Christ: and whether he were Brugs, became distinguished in Provence and
Languedoc, as the intrepid advocate of certain enforcement of the truths of the Gospel won the reformed opinions; and his zeal, after the labor applause and the grateful attachment of mulof twenty years, sustained the trial of martyrdom. titudes. For a season he found his protection On his decease his place was more than supplied in his rank, in the influence of his connexions, by the learning and the invincible ardor of Henry and in the number of his followers. But the inthe founder of the sect called Henricians. But, roads of his zeal which had thus eluded every if Henry imbibed the zeal of his predecessor, he hostile purpose of the local authorities were, at had also to share in his reward. The invective length, deemed so serious an innovation as to in which these preachers indulged on the man- require the most formal interference of the paners of their age, and especially on the vices of pacy. In a council convened by Alexander III. the clergy, was not to be patienily endured. It Peter Waldo and his numerous disciples were roused the displeasure of the pontiffs and of their presumed to be convicted of heresy, and until court; and, in the name of Eugenius III., the signs should be given of repentance they were person of Henry was seized and committed to cut off from all communion with the faithful. prison, where, after a brief interval, his life was This sentence would probably have beea little the sacrifice incurred by his unshaken integrity. regarded, had it not, through the ferocity of the Such are the measures which have been long and times, become no less destructive of civil than of widely adopted to crush the leaders of reform, religious communion. The Lyonese, who were and experience has shown how little they are not fully prepared to brave the wrath of the suited to diminish either the number or the church, were constrained to refuse the haled ardor of its advocates. But if the Petrobrussians sectaries even the remotest intercourse of social and Henricians were sufficiently numerous to life. That flourishing city was, in consequence, excite the alarm of the church, it is certain they deserted by a large, and by the most valuable, were but few and feeble when compared with portion of its inhabitants ; but like the Hebrew their opponents.
tribes they were not to be lost in their disperIt was towards the close of the century, in the sion. Waldo continued to publish his doctrine former half of which they had flourished, that with great success, through Dauphiny, Picardy, the ear of Europe became familiar with the name and various of the German states, concluding a of Arnold of Brescia, as that of a more daring labor of twenty years in a province of Bohemia. opponent of clerical ambition. This extraordi- His disciples, every where harassed by the hand nary man had suddenly risen from the lowest of persecution, are still found associated with rank in the church, and there are facts included almost every continental sect, and by a benevoin his bistory which impart to it an unusual lent arrangement of providence they were preinterest. He studied under the famous Abelard, served as witnesses for the truth until the age of and had probably adopted some of the specula- Luther. Aware of the assistance which he had tions which exposed the lover of Eloise to the derived from the Scriptures, and of the princifrown of the church. But with the skill of the ples which assert them to be the property of the master ihe disciple associated an independence people no less than of the priest, it had been an and hardihood peculiar to bimself. In the garb object of early solicitude with Waldo to confer of a monk, and with a countenance which be- upon his followers a vernacular translation of spoke his decision and capacity, but which had the inspired volume. It was a novelty in moalready become marked with many cares, Arnold dern Europe, and contributed much to his uncommenced his stormy career, as a preacher in precedented success in the work of reformation. the streets of Brescia. Arraigned before the pre- The Noble Lesson* had long since supplied the fect of the city, the reformer was condemned to devout with a valuable summary of Scripture die; and, deserted (perhaps of necessity) by his history, and of the doctrines and the duties of more powerful adherents, he perished at the the Gospel ; but such was the impulse given to stake, amid the idle gazings of the Roman popu- the mind of multitudes by the possession of the lace. His ashes were given to the Tiber; but Scriptures, that the numerous sectaries, however his opinions were not so easily consigned to ob- poor and despised, were generally capable of livion. But ten years from that period had vindicating their peculiarities of custom or opiscarcely passed, when Peter Waldo, an opu- nion by an appeal to that authority; it was even lent merchant of Lyons, became known in that their boast that there was scarcely a man or wocity as an opponeni of the Romish superstition, man among them who was not far better read in and a zealous advocate of what has since been the Bible than the doctors of the church. Waldo designated the reformed faith. Waldo had finished his career in 1179, and it was two years witnessed the sudden decease of a friend at his later that the pontiff, Lucian III., issued his table, and a disposition already favorable to re memorable decree, condemning all manner of ligion was much confirmed by the affecting in- heresy, by whatever name denominated. By cident. Often scandalised by the manners of the the haughty Innocent III. every motive which clergy, his superior education had enabled him to superstition could supply was employed to arm consult the Latin Version of the Scriptures. From the princes and the people of Europe against that source he derived the instruction which the pacific disciples of the Gospel. To extirpate taught him to separate from communion with the papal church. His morals had ever defied the
La Noble Leyczon, or The Noble Lesson, is a breath of calumny; from this period his wealth
poem in the language of the Troubadours; the deministered largely to the comforts of the poor; pository of opinions, and an expression of feelings, and if his opposition to vice and error exposed not unworthy of the professors of the Gospel in the him to the malice of interested men, his fearless most favored period of its history.