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should dare to legislate in religious matters without the concurrence of the Head of the Church, were intolerable offences. In a long and indignant epistle his Holiness reproached the emperor for his conduct. He complained that laymen and even heretics had been permitted to meddle with spiritual things, the exclusive province of the priesthood; and that in referring their disputes and grievances to a council they had not even mentionc. the successor of St. Peter, to whom only the right of convening such an assembly belonged. It resembled the sins of Uzzah, Dathan, Abiram, Korah, and Uzziah. The judgments of God would fall upon him, unless he revoked the decree. By such conduct he had not only endangered the peace and unity of the church, but also exposed his own soul's salvation to imminent peril ! 3 5 The emperor sent him a calm and dignified reply.
In the autumn of the same year, peace was concluded between the emperor and the King of France. They engaged, among other things, to co-operate in the defence of the Roman Catholic religion, to further, by all the means in their power, the reformation of manners in the church, and to procure the convocation of a general council, which might now be safely convened. The Pope did not wait for their interference, but issued a bull in November, summoning the princes and prelates of Europe to meet at Trent, March 15, 1545.3 6
35 Le Plat, iii. 237–247. “Thus but little reliance can be placed on the conscience or the promises of princes, although they are not otherwise wanting in honesty and piety; if they would only assume as the rule of their policy the great command of Jesus Christ, wbich ordains that we should seek above all, the Kingdom of God and his righteousness; without which, all human wisdom is but folly before God, and must be attended with unhappy consequences.” In Seckendorf Hist. lib. iii. sect. 28. It is easy to conceive what the Jesuit meant by.“ the kingdom of God and his righteousness!”
35 Lo Plat, iii. 255-259,
Description of Trent-Progress of the Reformation - State of par.
ties - Character of the Legates Intentions of the Emperor-Fears of the Pope--OPENING OF THE Council-Bishop of Bitonto's Sermon-Measures taken by the Pope to manage the Council Various disputes-Second SESSION-Exhortation of the Legales -Discussions on the method of procedure—The plan adopted THIRD SESSION—The Creed recited-Marks of the Church enu. merated-Infallibility-Exclusive salvation. í
Trent is a city of the Tyrol, on the confines of Germany and Italy, 67 miles from Venice and about 250 from Rome. It is situated in a fertile and pleasant plain, almost surrounded by the Alps. The river Adige washes its walls, and thence flows swiftly onwards to the Adriatic. The city is now in the state of Venice, and is subject to Austria. In the sixteenth century it was in the dominions of the King of the Romans, of whom it was held by the cardinal of Trent. Though not within the Papal territories, it was so near that the Italian bi. shops, by wlose efforts the Pope expected to preserve his authority and prevent reform, could reach it without much expense or trouble; and the distance from Rome was not so great as to hinder that communication between his Holiness and the legates by which he purposed to ensure the management of all the proceedings of the council
When Luther first appealed to a general council he stood almost alone and unsupported; but at the time of the opening of that assembly, the cause of Protestantism had already triumphed extensively in Europe, and was daily advancing. Among its adherents were numbered the Kings of Great Britain, Sweden, and Denmark, a large proportion of the princes and states of Germany, and many of the most eminent men of the age, both for learning and piety. The progress of religious inquiry and the course it had taken were no less remarkable. Those who had begun with the exposure of corruptions and abuses, and were at that time most dutiful sons of the church, ended not till they had explored all the abominations of the pa pacy, in doctrine, discipline, and worship, and renounced their allegiance to the see of Rome. The whole system was declared to be anti-christian and unscriptural, alike hostile to the welfare of society, the interests of true religion, and the glory of the only Saviour. They heard the voice of God—“Come out of her, my people," and fearlessly proclaimed the duty of absolute separation from a community in which none could remain without utmost hazard to their souls. It may be easily imagined that those who entertained such views could indulge very feeble hopes froin the holding of a council. They saw that fatal errors and childish superstitions had been gra. dually interwoven with the whole economy of life, and that their eradication would be like plucking out the right eye and cutting off the right hand. Nothing less than a complete revolution could satisfy their wishes: the dogmas of the schoolmen must be exploded, the human mind unfettered, scripture restored to its just honours, and the mummeries and tricks of image-worship suppressed for ever. It was hardly to be expected that such sweeping changes would be sanctioned by a general council, or that the priesthood would tamely consent to lose the hope of their gains. These doubts were justified by facts, and strengthened by time.
On the other hand the sovereigns and states of Eurone looked forward to the council with sanguine expectations. They resolved to exert all their influence to procure a thorough reformation of abuses. Were this effected, they conceived that the Protestants would cheerfully return to the bosom of the church. Their own interest was also concerned in the favourable issue of the assembly; for ecclesiastical immunities and exactions had shorn them of much of their power, and diffused general discontent and distress among their subjects.
The bishops had similar expectations. Their influence and authority had suffered greatly from the encroachments of the monastic orders, and the frequency
of appeals to Rome, which the Popes took care to encourage. In the council they intended to assert and hoped to recover their rights and privileges.
Such was the state of parties. The feelings and designs of the Roman Pontiff differed from those of all the rest. He determined to make no concessions, to permit no change, except for the further aggrandizement of the Holy See. Protestants, prelates, princes, all were to be duped or disappointed : and they were so.
Three legates were appointed to preside in the council in the name of the Pope-the Cardinals De Monte, Santa Croce, and Pole. De Monte was chairman or president: he was well versed in the policy of the court of Rome, zealous for the continuance of things as they were, and distinguished by his haughty, overbearing demeanour. Santa Croce was better fitted for the managemnent of theologicaldebates, in which department he was chiefly employed. Pole has been mentioned before. In the instructions delivered to them the pontiff commended their faith, learning, probity, skill and experience; declared that he sent them as “ Angels of peace," and exhorted them to fulfil their important duties in such a manner as to obtain from God, the rewarder of good works, the glory of eternal happiness. 3 With these instructions they received a secret bull, giving them power to transfer the council to any more suitable place, whenever they should think fit. This bull, however, was not published, for obvious reasons; and none knew of its existence till it was produced as the authority for removing the council to Bologna in 1548.38
On the arrival of the legates at Trent, March 13, they found but one prelate there, the bishop of Cava, so that it was impossible to open the council on the day appointed. Ten days after two others arrived, the bishops of Feltri and Bitonto. They accompanied Mendoza, the Imperial ambassador, who strongly urged the legates to proceed to business immediately, and enter upon the subject of reformation of abuses. He found, however, that this was a very distasteful topic; and the small number of prelates furnished a sufficient excuse
37 Le Plat, üi. 260.
for remaining inactive. By the end of May about twenty had assembled. They were employed in adjusting the ceremonials to be observed, and in such other harmless engagements as the cardinal of Trent could devise; but his task was by no means easy, for they soon became impatient of delay, and some of them were so poor that the legates were obliged to supply them with money for their support from the papal purse.
The whole summer was spent in various intrigues and negotiations. A diet was held at Worms, from March till July. The Protestants soon perceived that their situation was dangerous. Peace had been granted them till the convocation of a lawful council: they were now called upon to submit to the decrees of the church assembled at Trent, or abide the consequences of their rebellion. But they maintained that the council was not a lawful one, inasmuch as the Pope, who presided in it by his legates, was a party in the cause, and had already prejudged them. No other indulgence was granted than the appointment of another diet, and a conference, to be held at Ratisbon in the ensuing winter: and even this was only done to gain time, and enable the emperor to mature those warlike preparations by which he hoped to humble and subdue the Protestant states. He had pledged his word to the Pope that nothing should be permitted, either in the diet or the conference, that could in the slightest degree injure the Roman Catholic faith or the interests of the Apostolic See. 30
Although the pontiff had convoked the council under auspices so favourable to himself, he could not dissemble his fear of the results, 4 0 and laboured hard to persuade the emperor to agree that the place of meeting should be changed for Rome or some city within the papal do
*39 Pallav. lib. v. c. 14. s. 2.
40 “ His Holiness cannot digest the council.” “One of the reasons why it is said that the Pope dreads the council, is, that there are some cardinals, his enemies, to whom money was offered by him at his election, and these know others who accepted it." So wrote two good Catholics, the Viceroy of Naples, and the Imperial Ambassador at Trent. See the Rev. Blanco White's Practical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism, p. 315-318. Second Edition.