Obrazy na stronie

“ CHAP. III. Of the minister of this sacrament, and the

time at which it is to be given. 66 And now as to the law relative to the persons who are to receive and administer this sacrament; this is laid down with sufficient clearness in the afore-cited words. For there it appears that the elders of the church'* are the proper ministers of this sacrament : which appellation is to be understood in that passage as meaning either bishops or priests regularly ordained by them, with laying on of the hands of the presbytery; and not persons advanced in years, or of elevated rank.+ The council also declares that this unction is to be applied to the sick, and especially to those who lie in so dangerous a state as in all appearance to be appointed to death, whence it is called the sacrament of the dying 'I But if the sick recover after receiving this unction, they may again enjoy the aid of the sacrament, when they are in similar danger of their lives. Wherefore, those persons are on no account to be listened to, who teach, in opposition to the most express and

*“ Priests of the church—Douay version. The reader will see that in this place it was necessary to give the Protestant translation, which every scholar knows is the only correct one.

† “ In this, as in the other sacraments, it is also to be distinctly recollected, that the priest is the representative of Jesus Christ and of his church."Catechism, p. 301.

I“ Extreme unction is to be administered to those only whose malady is such as to excite apprehensions of approaching dissolution. It is, however, a very grievous sin to defer the holy unction until, all hope of recovery now lost, life begins to ebb, and the sick person is fast verging into insensibility.” ...“ Extreme unction, then, can be administered only to the sick, and not to persons in health, although engaged in anything however dangerous, such as a perilous voyage, or the fatal dangers of battle. It cannot be administered even to persons condemned to death, and already ordered for execution. Its participation is also denied to insane persons, and to children incapable of committing sin, who, therefore, do not require to be purified from its stains, and also to those who labour under the awful visitation of madness, unless they give indications, in their lucid intervals, of a disposition to piety, and express a desire to be anointed. To persons insane from their birth, this sacrament is not to be administered ; but if a sick person, whilst in the possession of his faculties, expressed a wish to receive extreme unction, and afterwards becomes delirious, he is to be anointed.”?....“ The pastor will follow the uniform practice of the Catholic church, and not administer extreme unction until the penitent has confessed and received.”—Ibid. pp. 299, 300.

lucid statements of the Apostle James, that this unction is a human invention, or a rite received from the fathers, but not a command of God, with promise of grace; nor those who affirm that its power has long ago ceased, as if the gift of healing belonged to the primitive church only; nor those who say that the rites and customs observed by the holy Roman church, in the administration of this sacrament, are opposed to the language of the Apostle James, and therefore may be changed for any other; nor, finally, those who assert that this extreme unction inay be despised by the faithful without sin. For all these assertions are manifestly contradictory to the plain words of the great apostle. Nor, indeed, has the church of Rome, the mother and mistress of all other churches, adopted any other observance in administering this unction, as far as relates to the substance of the sacrament, than was enjoined by the blessed Apostle James. Neither can so important a sacrament be despised without great sin and insult to the Holy Spirit himself.”

The following canons were added :

Canon 1. Whoever shall affirm, that extreme unction is not truly and properly a sacrament, instituted by Christ our Lord, and published by the blessed Apostle James, but only a ceremony received from the fathers, or a human invention : let him be accursed.

“ 2. Whoever shall affirm, that the sacred unction of the sick does not confer grace, nor forgive sin, nor relieve the sick ; but that its power has ceased, as if the gift of healing existed only in past ages : let him be accursed. · “3. Whoever shall affirm, that the right and practice of extreme unction observed by the holy Roman church is repugnant to the doctrine of the blessed Apostle James, and therefore that it may be altered or despised without sin: let him be accursed.

“4. W hoever shall affirm, that the elders of the church,' whom blessed James exhorts to be brought in to anoint the sick man, are not priests, ordained by the bishop, but persons advanced in years, in any community ; and therefore that the priest is not the only proper minister of extreme unction : let him be accursed.”

All will confess the vast importance of right views and feelings in the prospect of death. Perilous as is deception or delusion in things spiritual at any time, the danger is immeasurably increased when the last change is fast approaching, and the final destiny is about to be sealed for ever. It is then that the church of Rome “lays the flattering unction to the soul.” The dying man sends for the priest, and makes confession; absolution is promptly bestowed; the eucharist is administered ; and lastly, the sacred chrism is applied. These are the credentials of pardon, the passports to heaven. No attempt is made to investigate the state of the heart, detect false hopes, bring the character to the infallible standard ; nothing is said of the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying influences of the Spirit. Without repentance, without faith, without holiness, the departing soul feels happy and secure, and is not undeceived till eternity discloses its dreadful realities —and then it is too late. It is not affirmed, indeed, that the description is universally applicable ; but that, with regard to a large majority of instances, it is a fair statement of facts cannot, alas, be questioned.

The decree of reformation, passed at the fourteenth session, embraced the following particulars :-papal dispensations, or licences, exempting their possessors from episcopal jurisdiction, were abolished; titular bishops were forbidden to exercise their authority in extra-diocesan places, or to ordain priests whom other bishops had rejected ; the power of issuing letters conservatory, by which certain individuals and public bodies were privileged to have their causes tried by a judge appointed by the Pope, was restrained, though very partially; priests were ordered to appear in grave and becoming attire ; ecclesiastics who had committed murder were adjudged to be for ever deprived of all their dignities and benefices; for involuntary homicide dispensations might be granted, under some restrictions, which, however, were not to bind the Roman pontiff; the right of patronage was granted to those only who built a new church, or endowed one already built; and patrons were required to present the priests of their choice to none but the bishop of the diocese for induction. Some regulations of less importance were also included. But the decree was received by the friends of reform with great dissatisfaction. It was very

evident that all their zeal and labour would be expended to very little purpose. *

It had been decided that the subjects of the next decree should be communion in one kind, the mass, and orders. Of the debates no account need be given in this place, as the decrees on those points were not passed till the third period of the history of the council. The circumstances that occurred between the fourteenth session and the suspension of the council will now be briefly stated.

Early in January the Protestant ambassadors already at Trent were joined by Wolfius Coler and Leonard Badehorne, the representatives of Maurice of Saxony. They were instructed to say, that it was indispensably necessary to issue a safe-conduct exactly conformable to that granted by the Council of Basle, to suspend the decision of those matters which were then under discussion, and to re-examine all the former decrees; besides which, the Pope must not preside, but declare his own submission to the enactments of the council, and absolve the bishops from their oath of allegiance to himself, that their suffrages might be free. They were directed to request an early audience, in order to lay these demands before the fathers, as the Protestant divines were about forty miles from Trent, and would repair to the city as soon as they were assured of safety.

The ambassadors refused to treat with the legate and his colleagues, lest that act should be construed into an acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Pope. Consequently, the negotiations were carried on by the intervention of the imperial envoys.f

*« La réformation, de la manière dont on s'y prend, ne peut pas être plus mauvaise." “ Elle est inutile et malheureuse pour nous : mais la cour de Rome y trouve ses avantages. On l'y fera valoir autant qu'on poura. Les subtilitez, qu'on a mises dans les decrets, sont la semence d'une infinité de procès, et elles maintiendront les abus. Nous sommes en un siècle trop malheureux. Si la cour de Rome vous accorde quelque chose, c'est pour vous faire encore plus de mal.”—Vargas, pp. 244, 248.

The Bishop of Astorga writes to the same effect :—“On a fait aussi quelques decrets touchant la reformation. Ils ne sont pas tels qu'il faudroit, pour corriger les abus qui se trouvent dans l'Eglise catholique, et pour faire cesser les scandales qui ont donné occasion aux gens de tomber dans l'erreur. Mais nous faisons ce qu'on noụs laisse la liberté de faire, et non pas ce que nous voudrions, conformément aux besoins que nous voions.”—Ibid. p. 254.

† Sarpi, 1. iv. s. 36. Sleidan, 1. 23. p. 389. Ed. 1559.

The presidents of the council conducted themselves with great haughtiness and violence, and absolutely refused to concede anything. It was a great insult, they said, that the sectaries should hesitate to trust a council that represented the universal church; they would rather lose their lives than permit the relaxation of the episcopal oath, or hear such impious blasphemies as were then uttered against the holy see; the ambassadors were sent to the council, and were bound to acknowledge them as its presidents. If such unreasonable demands were persisted in, they would withdraw, dismiss the assembly, and forbid the fathers to perform any public and official act. So far did Crescentio suffer himself to be influenced by his indignation and fears, that, to prevent the council from granting the required safe-conduct, he abstracted the seal, and thus left them without the means of issuing a formal and authoritative decree of any kind.*

It was soon perceived, however, that such conduct was both unwise and unsafe. The Emperor directed his ambassadors to interfere and remonstrate; and after a hard struggle, the legate consented that the Protestants should be received, not in public session, but at a general congregation to be held in his own house. This point being gained, the ambassadors next pressed the suspension of the forthcoming decree. Count

Toledo remarked that he had often heard preachers say, that the salvation of one soul was so dear to Jesus Christ that, if it were necessary, he would consent to be crucified afresh in order to redeem it; how, then, could they refuse to grant the little delay that was asked, when on that delay the salvation of Germany depended ? The legate started various objections, but they were quickly answered; and he at last agreed to propose the matter to the council...

A congregation being convened, the suspension of the decree was readily conceded. But the affair of the safe-conduct was not so easily settled. The very name of the Council of Basle awakened the most unpleasant emotions in the breasts of the fathers; and the concessions demanded went far beyond their intentions. No considerations could induce them to follow the ominous example of that detested council, although

[ocr errors]

* Vargas, pp. 401, 403. Sarpi, ut sup.

« PoprzedniaDalej »