Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

observed. 3. The education of candidates for ecclesiastical offices. Provision was made for the institution of seminaries, in which youths might receive instruction; the poor, gratuitously, the rich, by paying certain fixed charges. They were to learn grammar, singing, and other sciences; and to become versed in scripture, ecclesiastical reading, the homilies of the saints, and the rites and ceremonies used in the administration of the sacraments. Special care was to be taken that they attended mass every day, confessed their sins once a month, and partook of the Lord's supper under the direction of the confessor. They were to receive the first tonsure immediately on their admission; to wear the clerical habit, and to be gradually initiated into the services of the church.*

SECTION II.-Celibacy of the Priesthood.

Crafty Policy of the Legates with respect to Reform—Twenty-FOURTH

SESSION-Decree on Matrimony-Doctrine and Practice of the Church of Rome in regard to the Celibacy of the Clergy.

The records of the Council of Trent become less interesting as we approach the termination of its proceedings. A very cursory review of the remainder of the history will be sufficient for the present purpose.

Lengthened discussions on matrimony had taken place before the twenty-third session. These debates were remarkably dry and jejune, and, indeed, chiefly related to customs or circumstances peculiar to those times. The marriage of priests may be excepted; but even on this subject there was scarcely any difference of opinion. All agreed in extolling the virtues of celibacy, and the most part denounced as heretics such as maintained the lawfulness of the marriage of the clergy; while some few were willing to admit that there were cases in which the Pope might dispense with the vow of chastity. The Protestant reader will not care to inquire for the arguments

* Pallav. l. xxi. c. 12. Sarpi, 1. viii. s. 25.

х

by which men attempted to withstand the dictates of nature, and pervert the word of God.*

Two measures proposed by the legates, but ultimately withdrawn or considerably modified, deserve to be mentioned, as illustrative of the spirit and designs of the papacy. The first was as follows :- When the sacrament of orders was under discussion, a canon was presented to the fathers, enjoining princes and civil rulers in general to require of all persons whom they should invest with any public office, dignity, magistracy, or place of trust, that they should subscribe to a creed therein recited, comprising the distinctive tenets of the Roman-catholic religion, and concluding with a solemn promise to reject all novel doctrines, avoid all schism, detest every heresy, and promptly and faithfully assist the church against all heretics whatsoever.t

The other measure was a proposal for the reformation of the civil powers. Assailed on all sides by urgent demands for reform, the legates were compelled to put on the appearance of concession. They prepared a decree, touching as lightly as possible the evils and abuses which had excited such general indignation. The closing articles of the decree were levelled at the sovereigns and states of Europe. It was pre

* Pallav. 1. xx. c. 1, 4; xxii. c. 1, 4, 9. Sarpi, 1. vii. s. 59, 62, 64, 70. One divine edified the fathers with a long “ disputation” on this subject. Like Ruth, he said, he would follow the reapers, those who had spoken before him, collect the few small ears they had left, separate them from dirt and straw, and present them to fair Naomi; “ that is, the holy Catholic church, my mother.” His tirade was in the form of an imaginary dialogue between himself and Calvin. Thus

“ Heus bone vir Calvine, Deus te convertat : quidnam monstri nunc alis in pectore tuo? Respondet Calvinus. Egone ? Cogito cogitationes, quibus cælibatum evertam, et meum meorumque apostatarum meretricium statum constabiliam.

“ Sanusne es, O Calvine ? Cælibatum, quem Deus instituit, Joannes Baptista servavit, Christus laudavit et prædicavit, ecclesia ab apostolis usque nunc recepit, tu miser homuncio evertere contendis ? An nescis, quod opus quod ex Deo est, nullis humanis aut satanicis viribus dissolvi potest ? Deliras, Calvine, deliras ; tua te libido bis stultum fecit,” &c.--Le Plat, v. pp. 725–743.

† Sarpi, 1. viii. s. 22. Le Plat, vi. pp. 32—42. It is somewhat singular that Pallavicini makes no reference to this creed : it is difficult to believe that he was ashamed of it.

tended that the church also had just cause for remonstrance and complaint, and that the reformation would not be complete unless the encroachments of the secular on the ecclesiastical power were abolished. The legates had even the assurance to demand that the clergy should enjoy an absolute immunity from the civil jurisdiction in all causes whatsoever; that spiritual causes, and those of a mixed nature, should be tried before ecclesiastical judges, to the entire exclusion of laymen, and that these judges should receive their appointments from their spiritual superiors, and not from any secular authority ; that the church should be entirely free from all taxes, imposts, subsidies, &c., under whatsoever name or pretence they might be levied ; and, finally, that all the ancient canons, and all papal constitutions, enacting clerical immunity, should be revived in their full force, and any breach or infringement be visited with excommunication, without trial or notice.

Had these demands been complied with, the triumph of the clergy would have been consummated, and society would have commenced a retrograde movement, which, if not checked by some counter-revolution, might have ended in a state of things analogous to the disorders and usurpations of the middle ages. Most probably, however, the failure of the measure was expected from the very first. It was intended to intimidate the wavering, and extinguish the attempts of the more zealous friends of reform. And the success was complete. The French ambassadors, whose bold and unflinching attacks on the corruptions of the Roman court had given so great offence, protested against the decree in the name of their sovereign, and withdrew to Venice. They returned no more to Trent. Those who remained had no inclination to continue a struggle in which the chances of victory were so few : their acceptance of such reformation as was offered them was the price of the withdrawment of the obnoxious articles. *

The twenty-fourth session was held Nov. 11, 1563. The doctrinal decree related to matrimony.

“ The first parent of the human race, inspired by the Divine Spirit, pronounced the bond of marriage to be per

* Pallav. 1. xxiii. c. 1. 227—251.

[blocks in formation]

ung, This itch, and dogs, love you

petual and indissoluble, when he said, “This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh ; wherefore a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.' (Gen. ii. 23, 24.)

“ Christ our Lord hath expressly taught that two persons only can be joined together and united in this bond. Having quoted the last-mentioned words, as proceeding from God, he said, “Therefore now they are not two but one flesh :' and immediately afterwards he confirmed the durability of the connexion, as it had been so long before declared by Adam, by adding, 'What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.' (Mat. xix. 5, 6.)

“ Christ also, who hath instituted and perfected the venerable sacraments, hath by his passion merited the grace which gives perfection to natural love, confirms the indissoluble union, and sanctifies those who are united. Which the Apostle Paul intimated when he said, " Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself for it;' presently adding, “This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the church.' (Ephes. v. 25, 32.)

“ Since, therefore, under the gospel, matrimony excels the nuptials of the ancients, because of the grace received through Christ, our holy fathers, the councils, and the universal tradition of the church have always taught that it is deservedly reckoned among the sacraments of the new law. Against which doctrine impious men have raved in these times, not only indulging wrongful thoughts respecting this venerable sacrament, but also, according to their manner, introducing liberty of the flesh under cover of the gospel, and writing and speaking much that is contrary to the sentiments of the Catholic church, and the approved customs that are derived from the apostolic era-greatly to the peril of the faithful in Christ. Therefore this holy and universal council, desiring to prevent such rashness, hath determined to destroy the infamous heresies and errors of the before-named schismatics, lest many more should be affected by their destructive contagion ; for which cause the following anathemas are decreed against these heretics and their errors :

Canon 1. Whoever shall affirm, that matrimony is not gruly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evange

lical law, instituted by Christ our Lord, but that it is a human invention, introduced into the church, and does not confer grace :* let him be accursed.

62. Whoever shall affirm, that Christians may have more wives than one, and that this is prohibited by no divine law : let him be accursed.

63. Whoever shall affirm, that only those degrees of consanguinity or affinity which are mentioned in the book of Leviticus can hinder or disannul the marriage contract; and that the church has no power to dispense with some of them, or to constitute additional hindrances or reasons for disannulling the contract :f let him be accursed.

6 4. Whoever shall affirm, that the church cannot constitute any impediments, with power to disannul matrimony, or that in constituting them she has erred : let him be accursed.

665. Whoever shall affirm, that the marriage bond may be dissolved by heresy, or mutual dislike, or voluntary absence from the husband or wife: let him be accursed.

66. Whoever shall affirm, that a marriage solemnized but not consummated is not disannulled if one of the parties enters into a religious order :I let him be accursed.

* “The original institution of marriage, as a natural contract, had for object the propagation of the human race : its subsequent elevation to the dignity of a sacrament is intended for the procreation and education of a people in the religion and worship of the true God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.”....“ The conjugal union between man and wife, of which God is the author, is a sacrament; that is, a sacred sign of the holy union that subsists between Christ and his church.”....“ The faithful are to be taught that, united in the bonds of mutual love, the husband and wife are enabled, by the grace of this sacrament, to repose in each other's affections, to reject every criminal attachment, to repel every inclination to unlawful intercourse, and in everything to preserve ‘marriage honourable, and the bed undefiled.'”_ Catechism, pp. 328–332.

+ Here is evidently an assumption of power to dispense with, and add to, the laws of God. Can there be a clearer indication of antichrist? It may be observed, by the way, that this dispensing authority has ever been tenaciously defended by the popes; and for two reasons-it is an accession of dignity and power, a and fruitful source of wealth. No dispensations can be obtained by the poor.

See the policy of Rome : she declares marriage indissoluble, even for adultery. But everything must give way to the church ; and to get ! additional monk or nun an inviolable compact may be broken.

« PoprzedniaDalej »