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is denied his just rights; and impostors usurp the honour which is only due to the “ Great High Priest, who hath passed into the heavens.”
The correction of certain abuses in the celebration of mass was the subject of a second decree. Avarice, irreverence, and superstition, were mentioned as the springs of those abuses. Unreasonable pecuniary stipulations or demands for new masses were condemned, as savouring of simoniacal pravity and base gain. It was required that officiating priests should be men of good character and becoming deportment, and that all licentious music, and whatever was inconsistent with the gravity of a religious service, should be abolished. With regard to superstitious observances, it was well known that they were too numerous to be described, and that their exposure would reflect little credit on the Romish church; a general authority was vested in the bishops as delegates of the Holy See, to prohibit, correct, amend, and inflict ecclesiastical censures and other penalties, at their discretion.
This was followed by the decree of reformation. Its provisions were few and unimportant. Besides the renewal of ancient canons respecting the characters and lives of the clergy, and their ordination, it contained nothing answerable to the wishes and expectations of Christendom, and was consequently subjected to severe criticism.
A separate decree was published, declaring that the question of conceding the cup to the laity was referred absolutely to the Roman Pontiff, who in his wisdom would decide that point, and do what should be most useful to the Christian commonwealth at large, and salutary to those who petitioned for the privilege. About forty of the fathers recorded their dissent from this decree. *
* Pallav. I. xviii. c. 9. Sarpi, 1. vi. s. 58. A document was read at this session, purporting to be the confession of one Abdissi, Patriarch of Musal, in Assyria, who had visited Rome to receive from the Pope the confirmation of his appointment to office. He promised true allegiance to the Pontiff, and obedient reception of all the decrees of the council, the future as well as the past. The Romanists attached a great deal of importance to this event: the submission of a high dignitary of the Eastern church seemed a very favourable opening for papal ambition : but it came to nothing.-Le Plat, v. pp. 407–501.
Section 1.- The Sacrament of Orders.
Determination to close the Council— Debates on the Sacrament of Orders,
and on the divine Right of Episcopacy and of Residence- Arrival of the Cardinal of Lorraine, and the French Prelates—Their Views and Intentions-Fears of the Papal Party-Miscellaneous historical Notices—Frequent Prorogations of the Session-TWENTY-THIRD SEssion—Decree on the Sacrament of Orders—View of the spiritual and temporal Power of the Pope—Decree of Reformation.
THE Pope had resolved to bring the council to a speedy termination, and thus deliver himself from the vexations and alarms which agitated him during its continuance. To accomplish his purpose he spared no promises, well knowing that it would be very easy to put insuperable difficulties in the way of their performance. But at length the dispatches received from the legates convinced him that nothing short of a bonâ fide concession would be satisfactory.* He wrote to them to this effect :-that he was willing to consent to all just and necessary amendment; that a committee might be appointed to examine the memorials which had been presented at various times by the ambassadors, and select such articles as were most important; that if the question of episcopal residence could not be decided without a violent contest, it would be better to procure it to be referred to himself; and that for the rest, he placed the fullest confidence in the judgment and prudence of the legates, and gave them permission to act according to circum
* By the French ambassadors it had been demanded that doctrine and discipline should be discussed on alternate days, to avoid the indecent haste with which the latter had been commonly treated. The imperial ambassadors required the presentation of the memorial which they had placed in the hands of the legates long before. Drascovitch proposed that the votes should be taken by nations, an expedient that would have utterly destroyed the Pope's Italian majority.
stances. They were well acquainted with the Pontiff's real views and wishes, and took care not to thwart them. The business of reformation was committed to Simonetta, who, with the assistance of Boncompagno, Paleotta, and others,* undertook to prepare such a decree as might at the same time please the Pope and satisfy the oft-repeated demands of the states of Europe. This arrangement was secretly made, and the selfappointed committee pursued its labours unknown to the council, till the time came for the production of the decree. Thus the fathers were saved the trouble of investigation; the wounds of corruption were gently opened, and speedily closed again ; all they had to do was to receive and apply such remedies as were brought ready prepared to their hands.t
The sacraments of orders and of matrimony were appointed for decision at the next session. In order to facilitate and expedite the business, the divines were arranged in six classes, to each of which a specific portion of the discussion was allotted. To the first three classes the sacrament of orders was assigned, and the sacrament of matrimony to the remainder. Injunctions were issued, prohibiting any one from speaking more than half an hour at a time; but very few observed them.
Seven articles, said to contain the opinions of the Protestants on the subject of orders, were committed to the divines for examination. Two or three extracts from the speeches delivered in the course of the discussions will summarily comprise the prevailing sentiments.
Alphonso Salmeron, the Jesuit, affirmed, that Christ instituted the sacrament of orders, when he appointed his apostles to the priesthood, as declared in the last session. The power then bestowed chiefly related to the consecration of his real body. Another power, that of jurisdiction over his mystical body, the church, was imparted when he breathed on them
* Boncompagno was one of the “ Abbreviators" of the Roman Chancery : these officers prepare the letters, briefs, bulls, and other documents requiring the Pope's signature. He was created a cardinal in 1565, and in 1572, attained the popedom, and is known as Gregory XIII. Paleotta was an Auditor of the Rota, the exchequer of the papal court ; he also obtained the cardinalate.
+ Pallav, I. xviii. c. 11.
and said, “ Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” &c. (John xx. 23 ;) this power was connected with the impression of a character, in which respect the sacrament of orders resembles those of baptism and confirmation. Further, when the Saviour led the apostles out and blessed them, (Luke xxiv. 50,) he constituted them bishops, sending them to preach the gospel. These and similar sentiments, equally foreign to the true meaning of scripture, he confirmed by the authority of the Apostolical Constitutions (a well-known apocryphal work), and various traditions and councils.
Peter Soto spoke of the hierarchy. He maintained that in the government of the church, which is vested in the priesthood, there is a regular gradation, as in the angelic host; and that bishops, priests, and other ministers, are the rulers of the spiritual community, ordinary Christians being entirely excluded; although he admitted that the latter have in certain cases the right of election, which had been denied by the preceding speaker. In opposition to the Protestants he asserted, that so far from the office of priests being confined to preaching the gospel, that duty rather belongs to bishops, according to the saying of the apostle, “ Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.”
Melchior Cornelio vindicated the use of unction and other ceremonies used in ordination. He also endeavoured to prove that bishops are superior to priests, and that the episcopacy is an order of peculiar dignity, principally because confirmation and ordination are conferred by them only.*
The debates that arose on the last article (relating to the superiority of bishops to priests) excited a dispute that more than ever distracted and divided the council. When this subject was discussed in 1552, the question proposed was, “ Whether bishops are superior to presbyters by divine right;" and Crescentio, while he conceded the affirmative, had contrived to evade its effect, and would have succeeded, had he not been detected and exposed. † The present legates had resolved to avoid, if possible, the revival of the controversy,
* Pallav. 1. xviii. c. 12. Sarpi, 1. vii. s. 7-9. Le Plat, v. pp. 508—516.
+ See p. 208.
chiefly on account of its connexion with the dispute respecting residence, which they intended should be quietly referred to the Pope. With these views they erased from the article the words jure divino,” “ by divine right,” hoping that the subject would not be introduced. But they were mistaken. The Spaniards resolutely refused to be silent. A furious contest was the result, which, though the issue was favourable to the papal interests, necessarily prolonged the council much beyond the time which had been fixed for its continuance.
When the deliberations of the divines were ended, a committee was appointed to prepare the decree and canons, copies of which were soon distributed among the fathers. In examining them, the prelates were unusually critical, even to fastidiousness. At the close of the discussion, the Archbishop of Granada remarked that there was a great defect in the decree, inasmuch as the declaration of the divine right of episcopal superiority was wanting. Such a declaration, he said, had been prepared and agreed to in 1552, as some who were then present could testify. In a long and studied address, he laboured to defend his sentiments. The Legate Osius interrupted the archbishop, and said, that this was a point on which there was no dispute with the heretics, and therefore such a declaration as he demanded was totally unnecessary; even the confession of Augsburg did not deny the divine right of bishops, but only that those who were consecrated with Romish rites were not true prelates. “If it is confessed by the heretics themselves,” replied the archbishop, “why should we hesitate to affirm it ?” The legate still persisted that this was needless, evidently wishing to evade the question altogether. But this was impracticable; the assertion respecting the confession of Augsburg was shewn to be incorrect,* and the archbishop and his friends persevered in their demand, greatly to the annoyance of the legates.
A contentious debate followed, and continued several days.
* The Augsburg confession has no reference whatever to the point debated at Trent: the divine right of bishops or pastors is indeed mentioned; but it is the right to preach the word, administer the sacraments, and exercise discipline. The Wirtemburg confession expressly asserts the equality of bishops and presbyters, on the authority of Jerome.-Corpus et Syntagma, pp. 43–47, 120.