« הקודםהמשך »
IV. In the Particular History of this century, we pro
pose passing in review, in their proper order, the various sects into which the Christian church was divided. This part of our work, for the sake of method and precision, we shall subdivide into two. In the first we shall comprehend what relates to the more ancient Christian sects, both in the eastern and western hemispheres ; while the second shall be confined to the history of those more modern societies, the date of whose origin is posterior to the Reformation in Germany. In the accounts that are here to be given of the circumstances, fate, and doctrines of each sect, the method laid down in the Preface to this work shall be rigorously observed, as far as is possible ; since it seems the most adapted to lead us to an accurate knowledge of the nature, progress, and tenets of every Christian society, that arose in these times of discord. History of the Re- V. The most momentous event that distinguished the formation.
church after the fifteenth century, and, we may add, the most glorious of all the revolutions that happened in the state of Christianity since the time of its divine and immortal Founder, was that happy change introduced into religion, which is known by the title of the Blessed Reformation. This grand revolution, which arose in Saxony from small beginnings, not only spread itself with the utmost rapidity through all the European provinces, but also extended its efficacy more or less to the most distant parts of the globe, and may be justly considered as the main and principal spring which has moved the nations from that illustrious period, and occasioned the greatest part both of those civil and religious revolutions that fill the annals of history down to our times. The face of Europe was, in a more especial manner, changed by this great event. The present age feels yet, in a sensible manner, and ages to come will continue to perceive, the inestimable advantages it produced, and the inconveniences of which it has been the innocent occasion. The history, therefore, of such an important revolution, from whence so many others have derived their origin, and whose relations and connexions are so extensive and universal, demands undoubtedly a peculiar degree of attention, and has an unquestionable right to the principal place in such a work as this. We therefore now proceed to give a compendious view of the modern history of the Christian church, according to the plan and method already laid down.
THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE
REFORMATION BY LUTHER TO THE PRESENT TIMES,
THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.
The Sixteenth Century,
the first section. tensive to be comprehended without a certain degree of
The First will contain “ An Account of the State of Christianity before the Commencement of the Reformation."
The Second, "The History of the Reformation from its first Beginnings until the date of the Confession drawn up at Augsburg."
The Third will exhibit “A View of the same History, from this latter period to the Commencement of the War of Smalcalde.' And,
The Fourth will carry it down to “ The Peace that was entered into with the Abettors of the Reformation in the year 1555."a This division is natural; it arises spontaneously from the events themselves.
the beginning of pontiffs lived in the utmost tranquillity ; nor had they, as
a The writers of the History of the Refor- this list of authors must be consulted by such mation of every rank and order, are enume- as desire a farther confirmation or illustrarated by the very learned Philip Frid. Hane, tion of the matters which I propose to relato who himself deserves a most eminent rank in briefly in the course of this history. The this class, in his Historia Sacrorum a Luthero illustrious names of Sleidan and Seckendorf, Emendatorum, part I. cap. i. p. 1. and by and others, who have distinguished themselves Jo. Alb. Fabricius, in his Centifolium Luther- in this kind of erudition, are too well known anum, part II. cap. clxxxvii. p. 863.-The to render it necessary to recommend their greatest part, or at least the most eminent, of works to the perusal of the curious reader,
hend any opposition to their pretensions, or rebellion against their authority ; since those dreadful commotions, which had been excited in the preceding ages by the Waldenses, Albigenses, and Beghards, and lately by the Bohemians, were entirely suppressed, and had yielded to the united powers of counsel and the sword. Such of the Waldenses as yet remained, lived contented under the difficulties of extreme poverty in the valleys of Piedmont, and proposed to themselves no higher earthly felicity, than that of leaving to their descendants that wretched and obscure corner of Europe, which separates the Alps from the Pyrenean mountains ; while the handful of Bohemians, that survived the ruin of their faction, and still persevered in their opposition to the Roman yoke, had neither strength nor knowledge adequate to any new attempt, and therefore, instead of inspiring terror, became objects of contempt. The complaints II. We must not, however, conclude, from this apparent popes and clergy tranquillity and security of the pontiffs and their adherents,
that their measures were applauded, or their chains worn without reluctance. This was far from being the case. Not only private persons, but also the most powerful princes and sovereign states, exclaimed loudly against the despotic dominion of the pontiffs, the fraud, violence, avarice, and injustice that prevailed in their councils, the arrogance, tyranny, and extortion of their legates, the unbridled licentiousness and enormous crimes of the clergy and monks of all denominations, the unrighteous severity and partiality of the Roman laws, and demanded publicly, as their ancestors had done before them, a Reformation of the church, in its head and in its members, and a general council to accomplish that necessary and happy purpose. But these complaints and demands were not carried so far as to produce any good effect; since they came from persons who never presumed to entertain the least doubt about the supreme authority of the pope in religious matters, and who, of consequence, instead of attempting, themselves, to bring about that reformation that was so ardently desired, remained entirely inactive, and looked for redress to the court of Rome, or to a general council. As long as the authority of the Roman pontiff was held sacred, and his jurisdiction supreme, there could be no reason to expect any considerable reformation either of the corruptions of the church or of the manners of the clergy. The restoration of III. If any thing seemed proper to destroy the gloomy learning.
empire of superstition, and to alarm the security of the lordly pontiffs, it was the restoration of learning in Europe, and the number of men of genius that arose, of a sudden, under the benign uence of that auspicious revolution. But even this new scene of things was insufficient to terrify the lords of the church, or to make them appri hend the decline of their power. It is true, indeed, this happy revolution in the republic of letters dispelled the gloom of ignorance, and kindled in the minds of many the love of truth and sacred liberty. Nay, it is also certain that many of these great men, such as Erasmus and others, pointed the delicacy of their wit, or levelled the fury of their indignation, at the superstitions of the times, the corruptions of the priesthood, the abuses that reigned in the court of Rome, and the brutish manners of the monastic orders. But this was not sufficient, since none had the courage to strike at the root of the evil, to attack the papal jurisdiction and statutes, which were absurdly, yet artfully, sanctified by the title of canon-law, or to call in question that ancient and most pernicious opinion, that Christ had established a vicegerent at Rome, clothed with his supreme and unlimited authority. Entrenched, therefore, within these strongholds, the pontiffs looked upon their own authority and the peace of the church as beyond the reach of danger, and treated with indifference the threats and invectives of their enemies. Armed, moreover, with power to punish, and abundantly furnished with the means of rewarding in the most alluring manner, they were ready on every commotion to crush the obstinate, and to gain over the mercenary to their cause; and this indeed could not but contribute considerably to the stability of their dominion. The popes :
bThese complaints and accusations have ances complained of by the Germans in partibeen largely enumerated by several writers. cular, are amply mentioned by J. F. GeorSee, among many others, Val. Ern. Loeg- gius, in his Gravamina Imperator. et Nationis cherus, in Actis et Documentis Reformationis, German. adversus Sedem Roman. cap. vii. p. tom. i. cap. v. p. 105-cap. ix. p. 181; et 261. Nor do the wiser and more learned Ern. Salom. Cyprian. Præfat, ad Wilk. Ern. among the modern Romanists pretend to deny Tenzelii Historiam Reformat. published at that the church and clergy, before the time of Leipsic, in 8vo, in the year 1717.— The griev- Luther, were corrupted in a very high degree. < See the Life of Alexander VI. in two volumes 8vo, by Alex. Gordon, Esq.--- As also another life of the same pontiff, written with more moderation, and subjoined, along with that of Leo. X., to the first volume of the learned and ingenious work entitled, His
IV. Hence it was, that the bishops of Rome lived in Alexander VI. the utmost security and ease, and being entirely free from Pius III.
apprehensions and cares of every kind, followed without reluctance, and gratified without any limitation or restraint, the various demands of their lusts and passions. Alexander VI., whom humanity disowns, and who is rather to be considered as a monster than as a man, whose deeds excite horror, and whose enormities place him among the most execrable tyrants of ancient times, stained the commencement of this century by the most tremendous crimes. The world was delivered from this papal fiend in the year 1503, by the poisonous draught which he had prepared for others, as is generally believed: though there are historians that attribute his death to sickness and old age. He was succeeded in the pontificate by Pius III. who in less than a month was deprived by death of that high dignity. The vacant chair was obtained by fraud and bribery by Julian de la Rovero, who assumed the denomination of Julius II.
V. To the odious list of vices with which Julius II. Julius II.
dishonoured the pontificate, we may add the most savage ferocity, the most audacious arrogance, the most despotic vehemence of temper, and the most extravagant and frenetic passion for war and blood
He began his military enterprises by entering into a war with the Venetians, after having strengthened his cause by an alliance with the emperor and the king of France. He afterwards laid siege to Ferrara ; and, at length, turned his arms against his former ally, the French monarch, in conjunction with the Venetians, Spaniards, and Swiss, whom he had drawn into this war, and engaged in his cause by an offensive league. His whole pontificate, in short, was one continued scene of military tumult; nor did he suffer Europe to enjoy a moment's tranquillity as long as he lived. We may easily imagine the miserable condition of the church under a vicar of Christ, who lived in camps, amidst the din of arms, and who was ambitious of no other fame than that which arose from battles won and cities laid desolate. Under such a pontiff all things must have gone to . ruin ; the laws must have been subverted, the discipline of the church destroyed, and the genuine lustre of true religion entirely effaced. The council of VI. Nevertheless, from this dreadful cloud that hung
over Europe, some rays of light seemed to break forth, that
toire Du Droit Publique Ecclésiastique François, par M. D. B. published in 4to, at London, in 1752.
d See Du Bos, flistoire de la Ligue de Cambray, published at the Hague in two volumes 8vo, in the year 1710.
promised a better state of things, and gave some reason to expect that reformation in the church that was so ardently and so universally desired. Lewis XII. king of France, provoked by the insults he had received from this arrogant pontiff, meditated revenge, and even caused a medal to be struck with a menacing inscription, expressing his resolution to overturn the power of Rome, which was represented by the title of Babylon, on this coin. Several cardinals also, encouraged by the protection of this monarch and the emperor Maximilian I. assembled, in the year 1511, a council at Pisa, with an intention to set bounds to the tyranny of this furious pontiff, and to correct and reform the errors and corruptions of a superstitious church, Julius, on the other hand, relying on his own strength, and on the power of his allies, beheld these threatening appearances without the least concern, nay, treated them with mockery and laughter. He did not, however, neglect the methods of rendering ineffectual the efforts of his enemies, that prudence dictated, and therefore gave orders for a council to meet in the palace of the Lateran in the year 1512,' in which the decrees of the council of Pisa were condemned and annulled in the most injurious and insulting terms. This condemnation would, undoubtedly, have been followed with the most dire and formidable anathemas against Lewis and other princes had not death snatched away this audacious pontiff, in the year 1512, in the midst of his ambitious and vindictive projects. Leo X
VII. He was succeeded, in the year 1513, by Leo X. of
the family of Medicis, who, though of a milder disposition than his predecessor, was nevertheless equally indifferent about the interests of religion and the advancement of true piety. He was a protector of men of learning, and was himself learned as far as the darkness of the age would admit of. His time was divided between conversation with men of letters and pleasure; though it must be observed, that the greatest part of it was consecrated to the latter. He had an invincible aversion to whatever was accompanied with solicitude and care, and discovered the greatest impatience under events of that nature. He was remarkable for his prodigality, luxury, and imprudence, and has even been charged with impiety, if not atheism. He did not, however, neglect the grand object which the generality of his predecessors had so much at heart, even the promoting and advancing the opulence and grandeur of the Roman see. For he took the utmost care that nothing should be transacted in the council of the Lateran, which Julius had assembled and left sitting, that had the least tendency to favour the Reformation of the church. He went still farther; and, in a conference which he had with Francis I. king of France, at Bologna, he engaged that monarch to abrogate the Pragmatic Sanction, which had been so long odious to the popes of Rome, and to substitute in
e See B. Christ, Sigismund. Liebii Commentatio de Nummis Ludovici XII Epigraphe, Perdam Babylonis nomen, insignibus; Leipsic, 1717.- See also Thesaurus Epistolicus Crozianus, tom. i. p. 238, 243; Colonia, Hist. Litter. de la Ville de Lyon, tom. ii. p. 443.
- The authenticity and occasion of this medal have been much disputed, and, as is well known, have afforded matter of keen debate. of Harduini, Concilia, tom. ix. p. 1559,
& We have mentioned this Pragmatic Sanction, Cent. XV. Part II. Chap. II. sect. xvi. noted, and given there some account of its nature and design. This important edict is
published at large in the eighth volume of the Concilia Harduini, p. 1949, as is the Concordate, that was substituted in its place, in the ninth volume of the same work, p. 1867, and in Leibnitz, his Mantissa Codicis Diplomat. part I. p. 158, part II. p. 358.—The history of these two pieces is given in an amplo and accurate manner by Bishop Burnet, in his History of the Reformation, vol. iii. p. 3.See also, on the same subject, Du Boulay, Hislor. Acad. Paris, tom. vi. p. 61-109; Du Clos, Histoire de Louis XI., Histoire du Droit Ecclésiastique François, tom. i. Diss. ix. p. 415; Menagiana, tom. iii. p. 285.