Obrazy na stronie

surely account for the hatred and contempt which every where lurked secretly against the Romish hierarchy. Complaints and murmurs arose on every hand; thousands of voices united in demanding a reformation of the church in its head and in its members, in its faith and in its manners. Next to the lordly pride of the Roman court we may reckon among the proximate causes of the Reformation the luxury, extravagance, and religious indifference of Leo X. About the period of Luther's first attack on the religion of the Catholics, Rome was in profound peace; and this interval of repose Leo X. occupied in expensive schemes for aggrandizing the family of the Medici; in expending the splendor of the papal see; and in lavishing presents on authors, artists, profane wits, and buffoons. To support the enormous expenses to which these pro}. subjected the supreme pontiff required argreater resources than the now almost exhausted o treasury supplied. Yet at no time was the oman court in greater splendor, nor did the vicars of Christ ever exhibit a magnificence so imposing as that displayed during the pontificate of Leo X. Every decoration that art could suggest; every wish that the most voluptuous appetite could engender; and every refinement that an unbounded love of science and literature could devise; found a patron in that luxurious prince. This profusion and magnificence in the supreme pontiff was amply copied by the chiefs and the princes of the Roman court, who vied with each other in the grandeur and sumptuousness of their palaces, and the prodigality and gaiety of their entertainments; nor did it deduct from the pressure to which this extravagance exposed the subjects of the papal dominion, that a considerable portion of the riches which were drained from the labor or the purses of the poor was lavished without discrimination on artists, painters, and sculptors. Divine providence, intending on the one hand to chastise the church for her profligacy of manners, and on the other to free the gospel of Christ from the errors and corruptions which had grown upon it, seems to have lulled the supreme pontiff to a fatal security, and to have struck with blindness those whom it designed to punish. An admirer of the fine arts, from which he only sought fame and gratification, a crafty but presuming politician, prepossessed with contempt for the German rudeness of manners, under which he was unable to discover that strength and manliness of character, all the energy of which he had to encounter, Leo X. was not qualified to enter the lists with Luther; and the arrogant weakness of the one opened numberless advantages to the intrepid firmness of the other. Whoever considers the characteristic national differences between the Italians and Saxons will perceive that divine providence had been secretly but effectually preparing for that great Reformation in the church. The Italians adhered strongly to a religion which captivated their senses, and permitted indulgence of their vices. A taste for luxury, pomp, and voluptutuousness, with that of the fine arts, was all their enjoyment; always oppressed, they were naturallv deceitful, cunning, dissimulating, and self

ish; every thing conducive to the enjoyment of taste, every thing flattering to the sensibility, hysical and moral, had become the object o' talian activity. But the calm, equal, persevering activity of the Saxons was directed to the abstract sciences, to philosophy, to historical researches. When the Reformation burst forth, there was not a single theologian of Italy capable of encountering those of Saxony; some of them had the presumption to attempt it,-a presumption always the associate of ignorance; they were defeated and covered with confusion; in revenge Italy boasted loudly of her poets and her painters; they had not produced a Luther, but Saxony had not produced an Ariosto. The recent invention of the art of printing operated in a very powerful manner to bring into circulation those principles which, at length, produced the Reformation. The revival of literature about this period under the especial patronage of Leo gave a stimulus to every effort of intellect. Hence the reproaches so profusely cast on the conduct of the clergy were carried by means of the press to every cottage, and were read with eagerness by both the s: and the profane; by those who saw the decay of devotion in the people, and the licentiousness of the clergy, with sentiments of sorrow, and a wish to have them reformed; and also by those who saw these evils with a malicious pleasure, and a secret desire for the ruin of the Roman court, and the destruction of the papal hierarchy. The ill use which Tetzel and others made of the sale of indulgences is a cause of the Reformation which has been repeated by every writer on the subject since the days of Luther. The splendor and magnificence of the papal see have been already stated; but we deferred to notice the enormous expenses to which the Roman government was subjected, in the completion of the astonishing fabric begun during the pontificate of Julius II., the church of St. Peter at Rome. To accomplish this stupendous undertaking large supplies were become indispensably needful; and Leo X., as almost a last resource, resorted to a measure which had been applied to as early as A. D. 1100, when Urban II. granted a plenary indulgence and remission of sins to all such persons as should join in the crusades to liberate the holy sepulchre from the hands of the infidels. In thus reviving an ancient practice Leo X. was not introducing any new mode of taxation ; yet he took no pains to secure the church from the disgrace which she subsequently sustained by the improper use of this extraordinary species of traffic. But the mere act of vending remittances of holy discipline was not all. The commissioners in this noble traffic were not chosen from among the ranks of wise, prudent, and honest men. John Tetzel, a Dominican friar, of the most depraved habits and vicious principles, was appointed by Albert, archbishop of Mentz, to dispose of these disho: norable wares to the credulous and deluded people. Being determined to extend the benefit of his commerce as much as possible, he scrupled not to exceed the bounds of his commission, nor to extol his merchandise as abounding with every virtue that the most meritorious sacrifice or service could confer. To such an impious length did this agent of iniquity extend his blasphemies as to declare that these indulgencies would atone for every vice,—past, present, or to come, and remit every punishment, both in this life and in the next, to which the most profligate wretch could be exposed 1 This blasphemous and most ridiculous fraud was played off upon the people in every possible shape, while the infamous fabricator and vender wallowed in every species of luxury, debauchery and wickedness; an abuse so flagrant could not but cause the honest indignation of every thinking person. Accordingly, when a knowledge of these practices came to the ear of Martin Luther, all the greatness of his soul was called into action, and he inveighed not, at first, against indulgences themselves, but against that torrent of corruption which Tetzel's abuse of them was bringing into Christendom. But it is not to be supposed that an institution of so long standing, ingrafted on so many prejudices and interests, and supported by such an extraordinary weight of power and influence, could be overturned by any of the aforenamed causes, unless those causes had been called into action by some bold and intrepid spirit; some daring soul, impatient of the crown of martyrdom, and indifferent to every consideration that contributed not to advance the glory of his character, the immortality of his memory, and, above all, the interests of that religion to which he was devoted. Inspired by a zeal which could consume the most obdurate prejudice, and a courage that could brave the most potent authority, Luther carried every thing before him that retarded his designs. He knew when to advance, and when to make good a safe retreat; when to trust the energies of his own mind, and when to profit by the advice of others. The Europeans, who till this time had been confined within the limits of the old world, had just launched beyond it; the road to India and America had been lately discovered. While enterprising navigators were in this manner subduing an ocean that had been unconquerable, every mind seemed also desirous of being liberated from the narrow circle of ideas within which it had been confined for ages. The human race advanced perceptibly towards the point of maturity of a new epoch. A change in the order of things, an approaching commotion, seemed at hand; a rumbling was heard in the bowels of the volcano; ardent vapors burst forth and streamed through the obscurity. Such was the menacing fermentation which appeared in the political state of nations from the commencement of the sixteenth century. The minds of men had undergone a great change; worship had become the business of the senses and religion a mythology; splendid ceremonies had superseded simple prayers ; saints and images became the intercessors with an almost forgotten God, and the immediate objects of devotion. The populace and the ignorant adhered very strongly to this system of superstition, which captivated their senses and lulled all their vices. But he who began to think and to 'examine would perceive, amid all this pomp and ceremonial observance,

only the work of man's hand; he would at once, and entirely, reject a system in which he could no longer discover any trace of true religion. Advancing to the period of the German reformation we find that the first attack on the church of Rome commenced in 1517 on the part of Martin Luther, who, on the 30th of September, delivered ninety-five propositions, in which he censured, in the boldest manner, the extravagant conduct and extortion of the papal commissioners for the sale of indulgences. These propositions were promulgated at Wittemberg, at the college of which he was doctor. Ignorant of a stipulation made between Leo X. and Albert of Brandenburgh, by which the latter should retain one half of the profits arising from the sale of these indulgences, Luther addressed a letter of remonstrance to this elector; but, as might naturally have been supposed, no regard was paid to his complaints. Exasperated by this neglect, he next published to the world the protoo. he had read in the church in Wittemerg. They contained many censures on the pope himself, but were rendered as palatable as possible by repeated expressions of obedience to the papal authority and the doctrines and decisions of the church. On the first appearance of these propositions Tetzel, the principal vender of the indulgences by the appointment of the elector of Mentz, endeavoured to defend a traffic in which he had so much personal interest. To effect this purpose, he published a set of counter Fo and then publicly burned those by uther. The friends of Luther, in a similar spirit, rejoined, by burning 800 copies of Tetzel's propositions in one of the public squares of Wittemberg. This conduct Luther had the moderation or good sense to lament; and he affirmed that it was adopted without his knowledge. Leo X., confiding in the professions of Luther, who had declared to him “that he would regard whatever came from him as delivered by Christ himself,' took no immediate steps to curb the zeal of the reformers, nor to remove the cause of their just complaints. At length, however, the indolent pontiff was roused from his danger; and, in 1518, he summoned Luther to appear before him at Rome, within sixty days, there to answer the questions which should be proposed to him by Prierio, his virulent opponent. It required no extraordinary degree of penetration to perceive what must be the issue of the trial, wherein the judge and the plaintiff were one and the same person. Accordingly Luther made sufficient interest to have his cause heard in Germany. Tomaso de Vio, cardinal of Gaeta, the pope's legate at the diet of Augsburg, was empowered to summon Luther before him; and, if he should persist in his errors, to hold him in custody till farther instructions should be sent from Rome. It was of small consequence to Luther whether his cause should be heard before the prejudiced and interested Prierio at Rome or by the equally interested Dominical cardinal of Gaeta, in Germany. Whatever might have been the lenient principles at first cherished by the pope, this Pop. and rash determination gave great and just cause of offence to Luther and his friends. No alternative, however, remained; and Luther, having obtained with great difficulty and delay a safe conduct from the emperor, repaired to Augsburg. Previously, however, to this, and after the pope had sent his mo– nitory to the cardinal of Gaeta, a power had been delegated to that cardinal to hear his defence, and, in case of penitence and submission, again to receive him to the communion of the faithful. Encouraged by several powerful and determined patrons, Luther contemned the authority of the legate; and refused to make any concessions, or to violate his conscience, as he termed it, by disavowing what he knew to be the truth. He yielded, however, so far as to consent that his opinions should be submitted to such universities as he should name; and promised in future to desist from impugning the discipline of indulgences, provided his adversaries were likewise to be silent concerning them. Luther, after different meetings, was permitted to depart; when his friends judging from the bold or rash manner of his proceeding, and the known authority of his adversaries, that it would not be prudent for him to remain any longer in danger, advised a secret flight from Augsburg. Prior, however, to his departure, he published a solemn appeal from the supreme pontiff prejudiced and misled to the same pontiff when better informed. The abrupt departure of Luther from Augsburg naturally awakened the resentment of the cardinal, and he immediately addressed a letter to the elector of Saxony, to whose protection Luther fled, expressing his surprise and indignation at his conduct, at the same time requesting that, if he should continue to hold and defend his opinions, he might be sent to Rome, or at least banished from the elector's dominions. Frederick, the elector, replied in a respectful manner to the legate's letter, but refused to condemn Luther before his opinions were proved to be erroneous. Every day increased the danger to which Luther was exposed by his intrepid zeal and perseverance; but the power claimed by Leo X., in a bull he had just issued, reduced him to this most difficult alternative—either openly to acknowledge, as he had ever done, his perfect obedience to the holy see, by submitting his judgment to the decisions of the pope; or at once renounce obedience to the vicar of Christ, and declare open war against the whole Christian world. With a boldness unparallelled, he resolved on the latter, and immediately appealed from the pope to a general council. He was then at Wittemburg. To justify himself in this measure, he truly declared that general councils “are superior in power to the pope, who, being a fallible man, might err, as St. Peter, the most perfect of his predecessors, had erred.’ He further remarked that the prophet forbids us to put our trust or confidence in man, even in princes, to whose judgment nothing ought less to be committed than the words of God; protesting, however, at the same time, that he had no intention to speak any thing against the holy catholic and apostolic church, nor against the authority of the holy see. Leo X., still unwilling or afraid to push matters to extremities against this unruly son of the church, addressed a conciliatory message to the elector of Saxony. This was accompanied by

a present which a very snort time oefore would have had the most pleasing effects on the mind of the elector: it was the consecrated rose, which the pontiff had been in the habit of sending annually to those princes for whom he professed a more than usual affection and regard. This sacred and honorable present came too late. The rose had lost its fragrance with the half reformed elector. VI. Decisive progress of the Reformation in Germany.—About this period Andrew Bodenstein, called by himself Carlostadt, from the place of his birth, having embraced the opinions of Luther, published a thesis in their defence. This called forth the learning and powerful abilities of Eckius. To enter into a detail of the ...]". at Leipsic between Eckius, Carlostadt, and Luther, would neither edify the reader nor illustrate the history. As usual both sides clained the victory: before they entered upon the debate, which was conducted in the hall of the castle at Leipsic, in the presence of George, duke of Saxony, and a large concourse of other eminent persons, Eckius proposed to appoint suitable judges. Luther, with his characteristic boldness and impetuosity, replied that all the world might be the judge. If, however, these disputes had but little effect, while they were carried on by both parties in propriá personá, when they were renewed in writing they called forth the efforts of many learned and eminent scholars; amongst whom were Melancthon and Erasmus, whose various publications awakened the spirit of enquiry, and forwarded, in a very powerful manner, the cause of the Reformation. After the fruitless disputes at Leipsic, Luther returned to Wittemburg, where Miltitz renewed his efforts to reconcile Luther to the pope and the church; and prevailed upon him, by calling in the assistance of the society of the Augustine monks, to which Luther belonged to write again to the pope, with a further and more explicit account of his conduct. Under the retext of obedience, respect, and even affection or the pontiff, Luther conveyed the most determined opposition, the most bitter satire, and the most marked contempt; insomuch that it is scarcely possible to conceive a composition more replete with insult and offence than that which Luther affected to allow himself to be prevailed on to write by the representations of his own fraternity. After justifying the asperity with which he had commented on the misconduct of his adversaries, by the example of Christ and of the prophets and apostles, he thus proceeds: “I must, however, acknowledge my total abhorrence of your see, the Roman court, which neither you nor any man can deny is more corrupt than either Babylon or Sodom, and according to the best of my information is sunk in the most deplorable and notorious impiety. For what has Rome poured out for many years past (as you well know) but the desolation of all things, both of body and soul, and the worst examples of all iniquity. It is indeed as clear as daylight to all mankind that the Roman church, formerly the most holy of all churches, is become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless ot all brothels, the kingdom of sin, of death, and of hell: the wickedness of which not antichrist himself could conceive. The fate of the court of Rome is decreed; the wrath of God is upon it; advice it detests; reformation it dreads; the fury of its impiety cannot be mitigated, and it has now fulfilled that which was said of its mother: “We have medicined Babylon and she is not healed; let us therefore leave her.' It was the office of you and your cardinals to have apo a remedy; but the disorder derides the and of the physician, “nec audit currus habenas.' Had the friends of the Roman court viewed this in the light in which some protestants have considered it, and not in fact completing “the measure of his offences' against the pope and the holy Catholic church, the bull of excommunication which Leo X. unwillingly issued against the author of it, would never have been put in force. Luther and his adherents are conjured in it to return to their duty, and renounce their errors; assuring them, that if they give manifest proof of their obedience, by destroying and disavowing their writings within six days, they should be graciously received to the bosom and protection of the church; but that, should they persist in their errors and contumacy, after the time specified, they should be proceeded against immediately as obstinate and perverse heretics, and receive the punishment which the law, in such cases, has provided. The bull of Leo X., instead of allaying these tumults, called forth all the zeal and energy of Luther, and his powerful and numerous friends. To such a pitch of exasperation did this measure raise the intrepid and daring innovator, that he threw off, in the most unequivocal manner, all forms of respect, and even decency, towards the pope, the councils and the Catholic church. Refusing to appear to the pope's citation, he boldly exclaimed, ‘I defer my appearing there until I am followed by 5000 horse and 20,000 foot; then will I make myself believed.' No epithet of a severe and offensive nature was spared in representing the character and conduct of the pope and his whole court. He once more appealed to a general council, and hesitated not to call the supreme pontiff, the lord, whose authority he had lately declared as inferior only to that of Jesus Christ, a tyrant, a heretic, an apostate, and antichrist, himself. He even summons the pope and his cardinals to reo of their sins and renounce their errors, or e would otherwise deliver over both them and their bull, with all their decretals, to Satan, that by the destruction of the flesh, their souls may be liberated in the coming of our Lord. Not being in a capacity to carry his threat into execution in any other way, ‘on the 10th of December 1520, he caused a kind of funeral pile to be erected without the walls of Wittemberg, surrounded by scaffolds, as for a public spectacle; and, when the places thus prepared were filled by the members of the university and the inhabitants of the city, Luther made his appearance with many attendants, bringing with him several volumes containing the decrees of Gratian, the decretals of the popes, the constitutions called the Extravagants, the writings of Eckius, and of Emser, another of his antagonists, and, Vol. XVIII.

finally, a copy of the bull of Leo X. The pile being then set on fire, he, with his own hands, committed the books to the flames, exclaiming at the same time, “Because ye have troubled the holy of the Lord, ye shall be burnt with eternal fire.' That there might be no mistake respecting the real sentiments of these zealous reformers, on the following day Luther mounted the pulpit and openly declared that the conflagration they had just seen was a matter of small importance; that it would be more to the purpose if the pope himself, or, in other words, the oapal see, were also burnt. • Every one must allow to Luther the merit of uncommon fortitude, zeal, and constancy. This was manifested in a conspicuous manner at the diet of Worms, which was assembled early in the year 1521, by the emperor Charles V. To this assembly Luther was summoned to appear, and he did not hesitate promptly to obey the summons, declaring to his friends, who were alarmed for his safety should he comply, that were he sure to encounter there as many devils as there were tiles on the houses, he would not disobey the call. He arrived at the city of Worms on the 16th of April, attended by a numerous and splendid retinue, and was conducted to the diet on the following day by the marshal count Pappenhem, who informed him that he would not be permitted to address the assembly, but must

give unequivocal answers to such questions as

should be put to him. Being asked whether the books published in his name, the titles whereof were recited to him,' were indeed his own publications; and, also, if they were, whether he was prepared to retract what had been condemned by the pope's bull in them: He replied, that cer. tainly the books were his, and that he should never deny them; but that with respect to retracting any thing he had advanced in those books, it was a matter of such importance, that he requested a little time to consider before he gave his answer. Accordingly he was allowed till the following day to deliver a verbal and decided resolution. Encouraged by the plaudits and the advice of numerous friends, and urged on to constancy by the admiration of the populace, he again appeared before the diet at the time appointed. He delivered a very long and eloquent oration, in which he declared that some of his writings being published purely for the promotion of piety and good morals, he could not be expected to condemn what both friends and enemies allowed to be useful and innocent;—that others being directed principally against the ty: ranny of the papistical doctrines, which had given such general offence, he could not retract them without betraying the cause of liberty and truth, which he had hitherto resolved to support; —but that with respect to the third portion of his writings, which were those written directly against his various adversaries, he would confess he might have departed from that strict line of mildness and decorum which he ought to have observed; and that as he made no extraordinary pretensions to sanctity, and was rather disposed to defend his doctrines than his manners, he should only reply in the words of the Saviour; “If I have spoken evil, bear witness ofo evil,' 2

This was the only concession he appeared disposed to make, except that, if any of his doctrines could be proved to be opposed to the holy Scriptures, he himself would be the first to commit them to the flames. Addressing himself immediately to the emperor and the other princes who were present, he said that the true doctrine, when publicly acknowledged, was, at all times, to be regarded as a divine blessing; but that to reject it would infallibly bring upon them many serious calamities. This harangue not being deemed a satisfactory answer, it was demanded of him to'say, simply and unequivocally, whether he would or would not retract his opinions and writings. Now it was that all the native greatness and dignity of his soul became manifest, and he boldly replied in the following terms, as translated by Mr. Roscoe —‘Since your majesty, and the sovereigns now present, require a simple answer, I shall reply thus, without evasion and without vehemence. Unless I be convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by evident reason (for I cannot rely on the authority of the pope and councils alone, since it appears they have frequently erred and contradicted each other), and unless my conscience be subdued by the word of God, I neither can nor will retract any thing, seeing that to act against my own eonscience is neither safe nor honest.” After which he added, in his native German, for he had previously spoken in Latin, “Hier stehe; ich gan nicht anders; Gott helf mir, Amen.” “Here I take my stand; I can do no other; God be my help! Amen.' Never through his whole life did Luther appear to so much advantage as on this memorable occasion.' The answer which Luther had given to the diet seemed to have placed the matter beyond all further dispute, and that nothing remained but to put the law against heretics in force upon him; yet, through much persuasion, the emperor was induced to allow him to remain three days longer at Worms, and in the mean time several persons were permitted to use their best efforts in private to persuade him to obedience. But, every mild and lenient method proving abortive, he was commanded to depart from the city and not to be found within the emperor's dominions after the expiration of twenty days. Some persons even advised the emperor to disregard the safe conduct which had been granted, and, imitating the council of Constance, to destroy at once so dangerous a heretic; but to the eternal honor of Charles V. he replied, that he would not give himself occasion to blush as the emperor Sigismund had done, in the case of John Huss. In thus nobly refusing to depart from the spirit of his religious profession, he was encouraged by Louis, the elector count Palatine, who declared that such an act would brand the German name with perpetual infamy; and added that it was intolerable that the empire should be for ever disgraced and reproached for not keeping the public faith merely to gratify the resentment of a few priests. Luther left the city of Worms on the 26th of April, accompanied by the imperial herald. He was met at the gate of the city by a numerous body of his friends, from whom he received the warmest congratulations and applauses; he then proceeded on his jour

ney to Wittemberg. On the 26th of May, one month after his departure, the emperor, after repeated solicitations, issued a decree of the diet against him, in which he is represented “as the devil in the semblance of a man, and the dress of a monk:' and all the subjects of the imperial dominions are required to seize upon him and his adherents, to destroy their property, and burn their books and writings; and all printers are forbid to publish any of their works without the consent of the ordinary. Luther, however, escaped the rage of his enemies, by a very fortunate and unlooked-for circumstance. Passing through a wood on his way to Wittemberg, with but a small band of attendants, he was seized by several persons in masks, employed by the elector of Saxony, and forcibly carried to the castle of Wartburg, where he remained in privacy for the space of nine or ten months, during which Leo X. died, and was succeeded by Adrian VI. This master piece of policy and humanity in Frederick was attended by several beneficial effects. During this retreat Luther employed himself in composing many of those works which have since become, in a manner, the ground-work of the Reformation. Here, also, he translated a great part of the New Testament into the German language, and wrote numerous letters to various parts; so that the work of the Reformation went on with a rapidity equal to his most sanguine wishes, notwithstanding the opposition it met with from the apostolic nuncios and others. From this period the Reformation may properly be said to have taken effectual root. The subject which now chiefly engaged public attention was the expected call of a general council. The reformed party was solicitous for the measure, in the hope of reducing the prerogative of the pontiff; while the moderate and well-intentioned part of the Catholics looked to it as the means of stopping the farther progress of schism. After many delays the unsteady and irresolute Clement had at last declared his assent to the long expected convocation. Whether he was sincere in this declaration, or as is more probable meant only an apparent concession to the wish of the German diet, the occurrence of his death, in the midst of the negociation, has left a matter of uncertainty. Alexander Farnese, to whom Clement had, in a manner, bequeathed the pontificate, succeeded him without opposition, and assumed the name of Paul III. Paul proceeded, or affected to proceed, on the plan of making arrangements for the convocation of a council. But, as the reformed were now too numerous to be refused access to the council, Paul determined, as a preliminary step, to despatch a confidential person to confer with their leading men. His nuncio in Germany, Peter Paul Verger, a native of Istria, and a favorite of Paul's predecessor, was chosen for this commission. This person proceeded to Wittemberg to meet Luther. The interview was terminated, as might be expected, without any beneficial result. The pope now ordered his legate to declare to the diet of Spires, assembled in 1542, that he would, according to the promise he had already made, assemble a general council, and that Trent should be the place of its meeting, if the diet had no

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