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by the Church of England subsequently to the earlier decrees of the Council, the questions of Purgatory and Pardons were not discussed for many months after the publication of the Article. The Article, therefore, cannot be strained into a condemnation and contradiction of that which did not exist at the time; and we must come to the conviction that it was not the formulized doctrine, but a current and corrupt practice in the Latin or Western Church, which is here declared to be "fond" and "vainly invented."
This distinction is a very important one. People are apt to ignore the real reformation which took place within the Latin Church, the wise and scientific treatment to which many points were subjected, and the abuses and scandals which were discountenanced. doubt the reform might with effect have been carried further. Points vitally affecting our own position, e.g. all questions of jurisdiction, might have been defined; the disciplinary enactments for dioceses might have been extended to the Papal Court; still a real reform did take place, and it is unscientific or uncandid to ignore it. The reform, such as it was, only came too late. We cannot say what in the Providence of God would have been the results, if the Popes had yielded sooner to the clamours of Europe for a free and Ecumenical Council; but they feared similar results to those of Constance and Basle, and so the time passed, till all hopes of reconciliation had disappeared. Still the Council did a mighty work, and such men as St. Carlo Bor
b Cantù, Histoire des Italiens, t. viii. p. 394, also p. 441.
romeo, Archbishop of Milan, St. Thomas of Villanueva, Archbishop of Valencia, Rusticucci, Salviati, Sartorio, Gaspar Contarini, Fra Bernardino Ochino da Siena, Bonomo, Bishop of Vercelli, Paul of Arezzo, Bishop of Piacenza, Ypolito Galantino, the silkworker of Florence, S. Filippo Neri, and a host of others, who carried on the work, exhibit in their own persons the results that were effected.
The points against which this Article is directed may be discerned in any of the satires which immediately preceded the Reformation, such as the Epistola Obscurorum Virorum, the history of Dill Eulenspiegel, or the Colloquies of Erasmus. These exhibit the picture of a great decay of practical religion, corruption and avarice reigning among the clergy, nothing done to stem the flood of immorality, and, beside this, a round of ceremonies and puerile superstitions. Nothing is so remarkable as the way in which holy names and holy mysteries are placed by Chaucer in the mouths of those who are perpetrating the foulest deeds. It would seem as if morality and religion had got so divorced that there seemed no incongruity in their association. Erasmus' account of his visit with Colet to Canterbury, and, again, his description of the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham well repay perusal, and are specially important in considering the Article, as they exhibit the prevalent habit of thought of the time, the every-day devotional life of the people, as seen by the eyes of one of the most intelligent of men.
Indeed, the one refreshing aspect of the English
Reformation is that which exhibits to us the way in which the scandals that brought it on were dealt with, how the objects of superstition were cast to the winds, and the gainful frauds exposed and scorned. Even in the reign of Henry VIII. the semi-heathen image of Darvel Gatheren, which had in Wales promoted a horrid cultus, such as is said to have existed till the seventeenth century among the cognate race of the Bretons, was destroyed. The miraculous rood of Boxley, which was said to move its eyes and lips, and to sweat blood, was broken up among the jeers of the people; and through the length and breadth of the land, the instruments of fanaticism were cast into the fire or the water. Even the bones of the saints, the temples of the Holy Ghost, the shrines of the grace of God, were mixed up in the common ruin. Because discredited by a base coinage, the true mintage was destroyed. Because mixed up with manifold impostures, the real authentic relics were dishonoured, and one common grave received the lying and fraudulent objects which had been used to keep alive the failing piety of the preceding ages of declension, and the blessed remains of those holy men who had been the vessels of the favour of God, and His lights in their several generations.
Excess always leads to re-action. Superstition is closer to irreligion than men think for, and the
c Vide Froude's History, vol. iii. p. 294.
d Vide Fuller's Church History, bk. vi. 8-10, p. 244, ed. 1837; also Froude, iii. 288.
misery is, that you can hardly prune away the one without promoting the other. Tear the ivy off the mouldering church wall, and you will bring away part of the wall with it. So it was at the Reformation. It was impossible to reform and not to deform; and, as a fact, much that had been once good, and in time abused, was for the time lost. Solemn rites that had lost their significance, or been veiled in an unknown tongue, were cast aside as useless; edifying ceremonies, such as the washing of poor men's feet, nay, the unction for the sick, which had the support of the Inspired Word itself, were ignored; doctrines, such as the Communion of Saints, the witness of God to innocence in the case of ordeal, the horrible watchful skill and constant infestation of evil spirits, dropped out of sight, and a one-sided view of God's truth was advocated and enforced. This was specially the case with regard to the subject of the Article. "The Romish doctrine," in the earlier type of the Article termed "the scholastic doctrine," was hereby condemned. It only was condemned, but somehow people seemed to forget that besides the Romish doctrine on these subjects, there was a Catholic doctrine also; that the errors lay rather in the exaggeration and want of proportion of the statements, than in the substance, and that as formerly there had been danger from excess, there now was danger in defect, in the way of suppressing important truths of the Gospel.
For on every one of the points mentioned there is an underlying Christian truth, and it is necessary to
the right understanding of the Article to know what this is. We cannot tell what the Article means till we know what it condemns; and we cannot know what it condemns till we know the doctrine, the perversion of which drew forth the condemnation.
But before proceeding to this, historic truth and candour demand that we should say that the protest in the Article is still needed. One does not here speak of those ancient mountain-shrines in the Tyrol or in Switzerland, where the simple, loving herdsman toils his weary way over brake and fell, encountering danger and real hardship, till he falls down before the Marien-bild, or other object of veneration, to which his steps have been directed. God forbid that we should sit in judgment on the simple faith which prompts the prayer, which, perhaps misdirected, God rewards and hears, as if offered immediately to Himself; but the protest is still needed, because it cannot be denied that superstition is still tolerated, if not actually encouraged by the authorities of the Church abroad. At Rome itself, in the church of the Ara Coli, the people are blessed by the elevation of the Bambino, a doll of the infant Saviour, a sort of parody of the solemn rite of benediction with the most Holy Sacrament. At Calcata, a place near Civita Castellana, the exhibition of a certain relice violates the first instincts of decency and
e Vide Narrazione critica storica della reliquia pregiosissima del Sanctissimo prepuzio di N. S. G. C. che si venera nella Chiesa Parrochiale di Calcata, diocesi di Civita Castellana, e Fendo dell' Eminentissima Casa Sinibaldi. Ristampata ed accrescuita per ordine di S. E.