« PoprzedniaDalej »
they knew that the pacification of the heretics depended upon it. A new safe-conduct was, indeed, granted, which was affirmed to be substantially the same as that of Basle ;* but in fact those parts on which the greatest stress had been laid were either omitted or altered.t - When the safe-conduct was prepared, a copy was given to the imperial ambassadors, by whom it was presented to the Protestant envoys, who had all agreed to act in concert. On examining it they found that it materially differed from the model which had been proposed to the council. · Four things had been granted at Basle to the Bohemians :-1. That they should have a deliberative voice, or right of suffrage; 2. that everything should be decided by the authority of Scripture, the practice of Christ and his apostles, and the primitive church, approved councils, and those fathers who regarded the word of God as the sole appeal in matters of faith ; 3. that they should have liberty to exercise their religion in their own houses ; 4. that nothing should be said or done to bring their doctrine into contempt. $ Of these the first, third, and fourth, were altogether omitted, and the second was so altered as to neutralize its provisions, for the legate had added, “ Apostolic tradition,” and “the consent of the Catholic church,” to the authorities there mentioned; and they well knew that if these were suffered to remain, a Romanist might prove anything he wished, and justify every corruption that would pay for its preservation. The imperial ambassadors were immediately informed that such a safe-conduct could not be received.
When the presidents of the council heard this, they affected great surprise and displeasure. They denied that a deliberative voice had been granted to the Bohemians; and with regard to the rest, they maintained that the safe-conduct was in substance like that of Basle, but that, as the Protestants evidently sought a pretext for complaint and dispute, nothing remained but to publish the decree as it was, and leave it to them to accept it or not. Count Montfort replied, that if it was really in substance like that given at Basle, the best plan would be to stop the mouths of their opponents by transcrib
*“Ipsa pene verba.” Pallav. I. xii. c. 15. s. 17.
+ Sarpi, ut sup. Vargas, pp. 487-489.
ing the latter word for word. The presidents looked at one another in silence; it was an observation they were not prepared to meet. At length Crescentio said that the whole affair should be laid before the fathers, and the result communicated to them. A congregation was summoned; the fathers were persuaded that the cause of God and the church was in danger, and the legate manæuvred so well that it was unanimously agreed to preserve the original form of the safe-conduct, without any alteration. *
The general congregation for the reception of the Protestant ambassadors met at Crescentio's house, Jan. 24. The legate addressed the assembly in a short discourse; he said, that the business on which they had met was more important than any that had occurred to the church for many ages, and that on such an occasion they needed special assistance from God. Prayers followed. Then the secretary read a protestation in the name of the council, purporting that the reception of the Protestant ambassadors was entirely an act of condescension and grace, and that it was not to be considered as a precedent, nor any consequence derived therefrom, prejudicial to the authority and rights of general councils.p The Wirtemburg ambassadors being introduced, they presented their confession of faith, and briefly stated their master's demands. This was in the morning. In the evening the congregation was again assembled, and the Saxon ambassadors were admitted. Badehorne spoke with great freedom and courage, little regarding the presumed dignity of his audience. He renewed the demand for a safe-conduct similar to that granted at Basle, and justified the demand by referring to the unrepealed decision of the Council of Constance, “ that faith is not to be kept with heretics.” He strongly urged the propriety of absolving the bishops from their oath of allegiance to the Pope, that they might be entirely unshackled and uninfluenced in considering the important question of reform, the necessity for which became every day more apparent. The free spirit and bold manner of the ambassadors produced a powerful impression in their favour. “ They have spoken,” said the
* Sleidan, p. 390. Sarpi, 1. iv. s. 38.
See Appendix, No. 5.
Bishop of Orenza, “much at length in full congregation, and said such things respecting reform as we ourselves dare not say. It is true there were some bad passages in their discourse; but there were so many good ones that it was right to take care that the people should not hear them. We have great hopes of doing something for the service of God, if they would give us liberty !”* There was the evil—the secret cause of all the mischief that was practised at Trent; the most part spoke and voted according to orders; if any acted otherwise, they were insulted and silenced. It need scarcely be added that the speeches of the ambassadors were delivered in vain, and that the fathers resolved to leave the safe-conduct unaltered and risk the consequences.f
The resolution to suspend the publication of the decrees till the Protestants had been heard prevented the accomplishment of a project which the legate had secretly formed in the true spirit of Romish policy. During the progress of the negotiations with the Protestant ambassadors, the subject of the sacrament of orders had been discussed by the divines. A decree was framed, comprising three chapters and eight canons, and conveying the sentiments of the council on “ the necessity and institution of the sacrament of orders,” the “ visible and external priesthood of the church,” and “the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and the difference between priests and bishops." In the last chapter, which taught the divine right of episcopacy, and enumerated the exclusive privileges belonging to that order, the crafty legate had caused to be inserted a direct acknowledgment of the absolute and unqualified supremacy of the Pope in all things pertaining to the church, expressed in such strong and unequivocal terms that if the decree had passed in that state, all hopes of amendment and reform would have been completely quashed, and the chains of spiritual tyranny more firmly riveted than ever. I
By consenting to the decree, the prelates would have
* Vargas, p. 472. + Pallav. I. xii. c. 15. Sarpi, 1. iv. s. 39, 40. Le Plat, iv. pp. 418—-533. Le Plat has reprinted the confessions presented by the ambassadors : they may also be seen in the “ Corpus et Syntagma Confessionum Fidei,” Geneva, 1654.
| Vargas, pp. 345—369. Le Plat, iv. pp. 397—405.
sense of their means, the sages and in
yielded to the pontiff the little remnant of power that was left, and confessed themselves his slaves. Yet, strange to say, none of them saw their danger, and the decree was about to receive the final approval of a general congregation, when Vargas discovered the objectionable passages and immediately gave the alarm. By his means, the Spanish bishops were awakened to a sense of their peril, and placed themselves in the attitude of determined opposition. Probably the concession of the divine right of their order had so gratified and soothed them, that the jealous suspicions with which they were accustomed to watch the proceedings of the legate were lulled to rest. But they were soon convinced that this concession was entirely nullified by the grasping pretensions with which it was associated. Crescentio had, indeed, acknowledged the divine right of episcopacy; but at the same time he had taught that the Pope was absolute lord and master of the bishops in everything pertaining to their office, so that, in fact, they were only to be considered as the servants and delegates of the holy see! And he had denied to the laity, of whatever rank, all right of interference in the appointment or election of the clergy, resting the same ultimately in the Pope. Had the decree passed, a perfect ecclesiastical despotism would have been established, without 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."* 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.
* Vargas, p. 434. “Le Légat a été échauffé plus qu'aucun autre. Il veut emporter les affaires par ses bravades et par ses menaces.” “Le Légat a fait et il fait encore le diable.” “Le Légat dit des injures ; il fait des menaces à tous ceux qui s'opposent à lui. Je ne sçai comment Dieu permet de pareils excès. Peutêtre qu'il veut nous couvrir encore de honte et de confusion.”—Ibid. pp. 433, 436, 492.
The fifteenth session was held January 25th. 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 assembly respecting the preservation of faith with heretics was declared to be superseded “for that time,”* 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 Germany, and wait for further directions.t
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
*“ Pro hac vice." + Pallav. I. xii. c. 15. Sarpi, 1. iv. s. 41.