« PoprzedniaDalej »
remedy or appeal. A long and angry contest ensued. The legate was infuriated by the opposition he encountered. His colleagues disapproved of his measures; the whole strength of the Imperial party was vigorously directed against him; while on every side he met the resistance of the incensed prelates. Yet he recklessly maintained his ground, and endeavoured to obtain by threats what his wily policy had failed to accomplish. The bishop of Orenza presumed to say that he doubted the truth of the assertions contained in the obnoxious paragraphs. “He who doubts in a matter of faith,” said Crescentio, “is a heretic, therefore you are one."' 2 3 Taunting insults and fierce menaces awaited all who dared oppose him: deep-laid intrigues were employed to procure favourable suffrages; and there was some reason to fear that he would succeed, monstrous as were the claims which he sought to establish. The postponement of the decree was a most opportune event for the Catholic church, as it saved her from the shame of a publicly acknowledged thraldom. But the Protestant will discern in this affair the natural fruits of pure and undisguised popery.
The fifteenth session was held Jan. 25. In the decree passed on that occasion the postponement of the doctrinal articles was announced, and a hope expressed that the Protestants, for whose sake the delay had been granted, would at length repair to Trent, not obstinately to oppose the Catholic faith, but to learn the truth and acquiesce in the decrees and discipline of holy mother church. The new safe-conduct was published in the form previously settled, without any regard to the remonstrances and demands of the ambassadors; and it was particularly observable that in guaranteeing perfect liberty, notwithstanding any statutes, decrees, laws, canons, or decisions of councils, and especially of the council of Constance, the infamous enactment of that
23 Vargas, p. 434. “The Legate has become more infuriated than any one else. It is his object to carry his point by threats and bravados.” “ The Legate has acted, and still acts, as if possessed by an evil spirit.” “ The Legate insults and threatens all who oppose him. I know not how God can permit such excesses. Perhaps he wishes to cover us still more with shame and confusion." Ibid. p. 433, 436, 492.
assembly respecting the preservation of faith with heretics was declared to be superseded "for that time," 2 4 an expression not obscurely intimating that the church of Rome still tenaciously clings to the sentiment contained in that abominable decree. An official copy of the safe-conduct was forwarded to the Protestant ambassadors: their own opinions on it had been already expressed; all they could do was to transmit it to Gerinany, and wait for further directions.2 5
It seems that the fathers occupied the interval of leisure they now enjoyed, partly in hearing sermons and attending the devotional solemnities of the church, and partly in intrigue. What sort of discourses were usually delivered before the prelates we have not the means of ascertaining; but it will be confessed that there was little to promote conciliation and charity in the sermon preached by Ambrose Pelargo. His subject was the parable of the tares. The tares he understood to signify the heretics, and he taught, in open contradiction to his text, that they should be rooted up, if it could be done without injury to the wheat. When complaints were made and the preacher was interrogated respecting his assertions, he boldly vindicated himself. It was his decided opinion, he said, that heretics ought to be exterminated, by fire, by sword, by the halter, or in any other way in which their destruction might be safely accomplished: but he had taken care to employ only general terms, not mentioning the Protestants by name, and he had said nothing in contravention of the safeconduct recently granted by the council. This impudent excuse was accepted, and the fellow went free. 3 6 Doubtless the monk's sermon expressed the feelings of a large proportion of the fathers at Trent. But it augured ill for reconciliation or union that such an outrage should be committed with impunity. And small hopes of reform could be indulged when an office in the gift of the Pope was put up for sale by public auction, in the city of Rome; and that, too, while a general council was sitting, avowedly for the purpose of retrieva
24 " Pro hac vice."
Sarpi, 1. iv. s. 41.
ing the lost honour of the church, by the removal of its manifold corruptions and abuses !27
Six protestant divines arrived at Trent in the month of March, four from Wirtemburg (Brentius was one of them,) and two from Strasburg; notwithstanding the acknowledged deficiency of the safe-conduct they had ventured to the council to explain and defend their confession of faith, should the fathers give them opportunity. They had brought with them printed copies of their confession, which were eagerly sought after by the bishops and divines, much to the annoyance of the legate, who had contrived that very few should see it in manuscript, though it had been publicly presented to the council.2 8
Various ineffectual endeavours were made by the Imperial ambassadors to procure a hearing for the Protestant divines; but some excuse for delay was always at hand. They would have consented to any method of discussion which the legate might prefer; they were willing to re-examine the former decrees of the council, or to discuss separately the articles of their confession, or to proceed in any other way that their adversaries might choose to adopt. But it had been already determined that they should not be heard; difficulty after difficulty was placed in their way, and at length it was so evident that there existed no sincere desire to effect an amicable adjustment of the differences between them, that the divines resolved to return home. The Protestant ambassadors had already departed, in consequence of the serious aspect of political affairs, and the rumours of approaching war. 2 9
Charles V. had aimed a deadly blow at the civil and religious liberties of Germany. For many years he had prosecuted his favourite scheme of becoming uncontrolled despot of that country. But the day of retri
27 Vargas, p. 531. Manners and morals were at a low ebb at Trent. The Imperial ambassador confesses having indulged too freely with the bottle ; and the Spanish bishops had taken the precaution to secure good cooks: unfortunately, they had forgotten to provide themselves with a physician, and they suffered for their neglect. Ibid. p. 509, 547.
28 Sleidan, p. 394.
bution was now come. An event for which he was totally unprovided dissipated all his plans, and dashed to the ground the edifice on which he had spent so much time and treasure and blood, just when he expected to lay the last stone and enjoy the reward of his toils. Nor could it fail to be observed that his defeat was the more signal, inasrnuch as it was accomplished in such a way as deeply to mortify his pride at the same time that it crushed his power. By detaching Maurice of Saxony from the Protestant cause, he had ensured his former success. When that same individual, perceiva ing the imminent danger of his country, took up arms against Charles and declared himself the avenger of the wrongs of Germany, he who had so often valued himself on his skill in the arts of worldly policy was foiled and overreached in the sight of all the world, and “the wise was taken in his own craftiness.”
As almost every day brought fresh intelligence of Maurice's success, and his forces were known to be moving in the direction of Trent, the necessity of suspending the proceedings of the council was generally confessed. The cardinal of Trent wrote to the Pope stating that he could not answer for the safety of the city; and at the same time Pighino, who had presided since the latter end of March in consequence of the dangerous illness of the legate, sent to Rome for explicit directions how to act. At a congregation of cardinals it was unanimously decreed that the council should be suspended for two years. Still the nuncio hesitated to execute his orders, on account of the opposition of the Spaniards, who affected to disbelieve the extent of the danger. But before he could receive further instructions the consternation had become so general that all difficulty was removed. On the 28th of April the sixteenth session was held, but with much less pomp than ordinary. No sermon was preached. Instead of the gospel for the day the following passage from the gospel of John was chanted, “Yet a little while, and ye shall see me," &c. The decree was then read, declaring the council to be suspended for two years, with this proviso, that whenever peace should be restored, whether before or after the termination of that period, the suspension should be considered at an end. Meanwhile, christian
princes and prelates were exhorted to observe, and cause to be observed, within their respective kingdoms, dominions, or dioceses, all the decrees and enactments of the council. 30
Immediately after the session the prelates separated, anxious to secure their personal safety by getting as far as possible from the seat of war. Crescentio, though very ill, had sufficient strength to reach Verona, where he died three days after his arrival.
It was asserted that great dissatisfaction was expressed at Rome on account of that part of the decree in which the observance of the enactments of the council was enjoined, but without any reference to their confirmation by the Pope, which was supposed to be essential to their validity. Some went so far as to say that according to the canon a censure had been incurred by the nuncios for infringing on the authority of the holy see. They alleged in their defence that the decree only exhorted to the observance, but did not command it. It would have been much better, as father Paul observes, to confess the truth, viz. that the Pope had seen and confirmed every thing beforehand.
30 Pallav. I. xiii. c. 3. Sarpi, l. iv. s. 50. Twelve Spanish bi. shops protested against the suspension.