תמונות בעמוד

its place another body of laws, more advantageous to the papacy, which were imposed upon his subjects under the title of the Concordate, and received with the utmost indignation and reluctance.h The avarice of the VIII. The raging thirst of dominion that consumed popes.

these pontiffs, and their arrogant endeavours to crush and oppress all that came within the reach of their power, were accompanied with the most insatiable avarice. All the provinces of Europe were, in a manner, drained to enrich these ghostly tyrants, who were perpetually gaping after new accessions of wealth, in order to augment the number of their friends and the stability of their dominion. And indeed, according to the notions commonly entertained, the rulers of the church seemed to have a fair enough pretext, from the nature of their character, to demand a sort of tribute from their flock; for none can deny to the supreme governors of any state, and such was the character assumed by the popes, the privilege of levying tribute from those over whom they bear rule. But as the name of tribute was every way proper to alarm the jealousy and excite the indignation of the civil magistrate, the pontiffs were too cunning to employ it, and had recourse to various stratagems and contrivances to rob the subject without shocking the sovereign, and to levy taxes under the specious mask and pretext of religion. Among these contrivances, the distribution of indulgences, which enabled the wealthy to purchase impunity for their crimes by certain sums applied to religious uses, held an eminent rank. This traffic of indulgences was constantly renewed whenever the coffers of the church were exhausted. On these

The king went in person to the parliament to offer the Concordate to be registered, and letters patent were made out requiring all the judges and courts of justice to observe this act, and see it executed. The parliament, after deliberating a month upon this important matter, concluded not to register the Concordate, but to observe still the Pragmatic Sanction, unless the former edict was received and established in as great an assembly as that was, which published the latter in the reign of Charles VII. And when by violence and force they were obliged to publish the Concordate, they joined to this publication a solemn protest, and an appeal from the pope to the next general council, into both which measures the university and the clergy entered with the greatest alacrity and zeal. But royal and papal despotism at length prevailed.

The chancellor De Prat, who was principally concerned in promoting the Concordate, bas generally been regarded as an enemy to the liberties of the Gallican church. The illustrious and learned president Hainault bas not, however, hesitated to defend his memory against this accusation, and to justify the Concordate as an equitable contract, and as & measure attended with less inconveniences than the Pragmatic Sanction. He observes, that by the king's being invested, by the Concordate, with the privilege of nominating to the bishoprics and vacant benefices of the first class, many corruptions and abuses were prevented, which arose from the simoniacal practices that prevailed almost everywhere, while, according to the Pragmatic Sanction, every church chose its bishop, and every mo

nastery its abbot. He observes, moreover, that this nomination was the natural right of the crown, as the most considerable part of the great benefices had been created by the kings of France, and he insists particularly on this consideration, that the right which Christian communities have to choose their leaders, cannot be exercised by such large bodies without much confusion and many inconveniences; and that the subjects, by entrusting their sovereign with the governaient of the state, invest bim, ipso faclo, with an authority over the church, which is a part of the state, and its noblest branch. See Hainault, Abrégé Chronologique de l'Histoire de France, in the particular remarks that are placed at the end of the reign of Lewis XIV.

The most specious objection that was made to the Concordate was this: that in return for the nomination to the vacant benefices, the king granted to the popes the annates, or first-fruits, which had so long been complained of as an intolerable grievance. There is, however, no mention of this equivalent in the Concordate. And it was by a papal bull that succeeded this compact, that the pontiffs claimed the payment of the first-fruits, of which they had put themselves in possession in the year 1316, and which had been suispended by the Pragmatic Sanction. See the Histoire du Droit Ecclésiastique François, As this substitution of the Concordate, in the place of the Pragmatic Sanction, was a most important transaction, and had a very great influence upon the minds of the English, the translator judged it necessary to give here. some account of that matter.

ferior to that of a council.

occasions, they were recommended warmly to the ignorant multitude under some new, specious, yet fallacious pretext, and were greedily sought after, to the great detriment both of individuals and of the community. The pope's au- IX. Notwithstanding the veneration and homage that thority held in

was almost every where paid to the Roman pontiffs, they

were far from being universally reputed infallible in their decisions, or unlimited in their authority. The wiser part of the German, French, Flemish, and British nations, considered them as liable to error, and bounded by law. The councils of Constance and Basil had contributed extremely to rectify the notions of the people in that respect; and from that period all Christians, except the superstitious monks and parasites of Rome, were persuaded that the pope was subordinate to a general council, that his decrees were not infallible, and that the council had a right to depose him, whenever he was convicted of gross errors or enormous crimes. Thus were the people in some measure prepared for the reformation of the church; and hence that ardent desire, that earnest expectation of a general council, which filled the minds of the wisest and best Christians in this century. Hence, lso, those frequent appeals that were made to this approaching council, when the court of Rome issued out any new edict, or made any new attempt repugnant to the dictates of piety and justice. The corruption of

X. The licentious examples of the pontiffs were zeathe lower orders lously imitated in the lives and manners of the subordinate of the clergy.

rulers and ministers of the church. The greatest part of the bishops and canons passed their days in dissolute mirth and luxury, and squandered away, in the gratification of their lusts and passions, the wealth that had been set apart for religious and charitable purposes. Nor were they less tyrannical than voluptuous ; for the most despotic princes never treated their vassals with more rigour and severity, than these ghostly rulers employed towards all such as were under their jurisdiction. The decline of virtue among the clergy was attended with the loss of the public esteem ; and the most considerable part of that once-respected body became, by their sloth and avarice, their voluptuousness and impurity, their ignorance and levity, contemptible and infamous, not only in the eye of the wise and good, but also in the universal judgment of the multitude, Nor could the case be otherwise as matters were now constituted; for, as all the offices and dignities of the church were become venal every where, the way of preferment was inaccessible to merit, and the wicked and licentious were rendered capable of rising to the highest ecclesiastical honours.

XI. The prodigious swarms of monks that overspread monastic orders. Europe were universally considered as cumberers of the ground, and occasioned murmurs and complaints every where. And, nevertheless, such was the genius of the age, of an age that was but just emerging from the thickest gloom of ignorance, and was suspended, as it were, in a dubious situation between darkness and light, that these monastic drones would have remained undisturbed, had they taken the least pains to preserve any remains even of the external air of decency and religion, that used to distinguish them in former times. But the Benedictine and the other monkish fraternities, who were invested with the privilege of possessing certain lands and revenues, broke through all restraint, made the worst possible use of their opulence, and forgetful of the gravity of their character, and of the laws of their order, rushed headlong into the shameless practice of vice in all its various kinds and degrees. On the other hand, the Mendicant orders, and especially those who followed the rule of St. Dominic and St. Francis, though they were not carried away with the torrent of licentiousness that was overwhelming the church, yet they lost their credit in a different way; for their rustic impudence, their ridiculous superstitions, their ignorance, cruelty, and brutish manners, alienated from them the minds of the people, and diminished their reputation from day to day. They had the most barbarous aversion to the arts and sciences, and expressed a like abhorrence of certain eminent and learned men, who endeavoured to open the paths of science to the pursuits of the studious youth, recommended the culture of the mind, and attacked the barbarism of the age in their writings and in their discourse. This is sufficiently evident from what happened to Reuchlinus, Erasmus, and other learned men.

i See Cernelii Aurelii Gaudani Apocalypsis, Hist. de Hadriano VI. p. 245, printed in 4to sen Visio Mirabilis super miserabili Statu Ma- at Utrecht in 1727. tris Ecclesiæ, in Caspar. Burmanni Aualcct.

The state of the

XII. Among all the monastic orders, none enjoyed a

higher degree of power and authority than the Dominican friars, whose credit was great, and their influence universal. This will not appear at all surprising, when we consider that they filled very eminent stations in the church, presided every where over the terrible tribunal of the inquisition, and had the care of souls with the function of confessors, in all the courts of Europe; a circumstance this, which, in these times of ignorance and superstition, manifestly tended to put the most of the European princes in their power. But notwithstanding all this credit and authority, the Dominicans had their enemies; and about this time their influence began to decline. Nay, several marks of perfidy, that appeared in the measures they employed to extend their authority, exposed them justly to the public indignation. Nothing could be more infamous than the frauds they practised to accomplish their purposes, as may be seen, among other examples, by the tragedy they acted at Bern, in the year 1509.j They

The Dominicans.

i This most impious fraud is recorded four Dominicans, who bad undertaken the at length by Ruchet, at the end of the sixth management of this plot, conveyed himself volume of his Histuire de la Reformation en secretly into Jetzer's cell, and about midnight Suisse; and also by Hottinger, in his Histor. appeared to him in a horrid figure, surrounded Eccles. Helvet. tom. i. p. 334. There is with howling dogs, and seemed to blow fire also a compendious, but distinct, narration of from his nostrils, by the means of a box of this infernal stratagem, in Bishop Burnet's combustibles which he held near his mouth. Travels through France, Italy, Germany, and In this frightful form he approached Jetzer's Switzerland, p. 31. The stratagena in ques- bed, told him that he was the ghost of a tion was the consequence of a rivalship be- Dominican, who bad been killed at Paris, as tween the Franciscans and Dominicans, and a judgment of heaven for laying aside his more especially of their controversy concern- monastic habit; that he was condemned to ing the immaculate Conception of the Virgin purgatory for this crime; adıling, at the same Mary. The former maintained, that she was time, that, by his means, he might be rescued born without the blemish of original sin : the from his misery, which was beyond expression. latter asserted the contrary. The doctrine of. This story, accompanied with horrible cries the Franciscans, in an age of darkness and and bowlings, frightened poor Jetzer out of superstition, could not but be popular; and the little wits he had, and engaged him to hence the Dominicans lost ground from day promise to do all that was in his power to to day. To support the credit of their order, deliver the Dominican from his torment. they resolved, at a chapter held at Vimpsen in Upon this the impostor told him, that nothing the year 1504, to have recourse to fictitious but the most extraordinary mortifications, visions and dreams, in which the people at such as the discipline of the whip, performed that time had an easy faith; and they deter- during eight days by the whole monastery, mined to make Bern the scene of their opera- and Jetzer's lying prostrate in the form of tions. A person named Jetzer, who was ex- one crucified in the chapel during mass, could tremely simple, and much inclined to auste- contribute to bis deliverance. He adderl, rities, and who had taken their habit as a lay that the performance of these mortifications brother, was chosen as the instrument of the would draw down npon Jetzer the peculiar delusions they were contriving. One of the protection of the Blessed Virgin : and con


were perpetually employed in stigmatizing, with the opprobrious mark of Heresy, numbers of learned and pious men, in encroaching upon the rights and properties of others to augment their possessions, and in laying the cluded by saying, that he would appear to Accordingly, she took his hand by force, and him again, accompanied with two other spirits. struck a large nail through it, which threw Morning was no sooner come, than Jetzer the poor dupe into the greatest torment. The gave an account of this apparition to the rest next night this masculine virgin brought, as of the convent, who all unanimously advised he pretended, some of the linen in which him to undergo the discipline that was en- Christ had been buried, to soften the wound, joined him: and every one consented to bear and gave Jetzer a soporific draught, which his share of the task imposed. The deluded had in it the blood of an unbaptized child, simpleton obeyed, and was admired as a saint some grains of incense and of consecrated by the multitudes that crowded about the salt, sone quicksilver, the hairs of the eyeconvent, while the four friars that managed brows of a child, all which, with some stupifythe imposture, magnified, in the most pomp- ing and poisonous ingredients, were mingled ous manner, the miracle of this apparition, together by the prior with magic ceremonies, in their sermons and in their discoures. The and a solemn dedication of himself to the night after, the apparition was renewed with devil in the liope of his succour. This draught the addition of two impostors, dressed like threw the poor wretch into a sort of lethargy, devils, and Jetzer's faith was augınented by during which the monks imprinted on bis hearing from the spectre all the secrets of his body the other four wounds of Christ in such life and thoughts, which the impostors had a manner that he felt no pain. When he learned from his confessor. In this and some awakened, be found, to his unspeakable joy, subsequent scenes (the detail of whose enor- these impressions on his body, and came at mities, for the sake of brevity, we shall here last to fancy bimself a representative of Christ omit) the impostor talked much to Jetzer of in the various parts of his passion. He was, the Bominican order, which he said was pecu- in this state, exposed to the admiring multiliarly dear to the blessed Virgin ; he added, tude on the principal altar of the convent, to that the Virgin knew herself to be conceived the great mortification of the Franciscans. The in original sin; that the doctors who taught Dominicans gave him some other draughts, the contrary were in purgatory ; that the that threw him into convulsions, which were blessed Virgin abhorred the Franciscans for followed by a voice conveyed through a pipe making her equal with her Son; and that the into the mouths of two images, one of Mary town of Bern would be destroyed for harbour- and another of the child Jesus ; the former ing such plagues within her walls. In one of which had tears painted upon its cheeks in of these apparitions, Jetzer imagined that the a lively manner. The little Jesus asked his voice of the spectre resembled what of the mother, by means of this voice (which was prior of the convent, and he was not mistaken; that of the prior) why she wept? and she but, not suspecting a fraud, he gave little answered, that her tears were owing to the attention to this, The prior appeared in impious manner in which the Franciscans various forms, sometimes in that of St. Bar- attributed to her the honour that was due barn, at others in that of St. Bernard ; at to him, in saying that she was conceived and length he assumed that of the Virgin Mary, born without sin. and, for that purpose, clothed himself in the The apparitions, false prodigies, and abobabits that were employed to adorn the statue minable stratagems of these Dominicans were of the Virgin in the great festivals; the little repeated every night, and the matter was at images that on these days are set on the length so grossly over-acted, that simple as altars, were made use of for angels, which, Jetzer was, he at last discovered it, and had being tied to a cord that passed through a almost killed the prior, who appeared to him pulley over Jetzer's head, rose up and down, one night in the form of the Virgin with a and danced about the pretended Virgin to in- crown on her head. The Dominicans fearing, crease the delusion. The Virgin thus equipped, by this discovery, to lose the fruits of their addressed a long discourse to Jetzer, in which, iinposture, thought the best method would be among other things, she told him that she to own the whole matter to Jetzer, and to was conceived in original sin, though she had engage him by the most seducing promises of remained but a short time under that blemish. opulence and glory, to carry on the cheat. JetShe

gave bim, as a miraculous proof of her zer was persuaded, or at least appeared to be so. presence, a host, or consecrated wafer, which But the Dominicans, suspecting that he was turned from white to red in a moment; and pot entirely gained ovor, resolved to poison after various visita, in which the greatest enor- but his constitution was so vigorous, that mities were transacted, the Virgin-prior told though they gave him poison five several times, Jetzer, thas she would give him the most he was not destroyed by it. One day they affecting and undoubted marks of her Son's sent him a loaf prepared with some spices, love, by imprinting on him tho five wounds which, growing green in a day or two, he that pierced Jesus on the cross, as she had threw a piece of it to a wolf's whelps that donc before to St. Lucie and St. Catharine. were in the monastery, and it killed them


most iniquitous snares and stratagems for the destruction of their adversaries. And they were the principal counsellors, by whose instigation and advice Leo X. was determined to that most rash and imprudent measure, even the public condemnation of Luther. The state of learn

XIII. The principal places in the public schools of learning, and of the ing were filled very frequently by monks of the Mendipublic schools.

cant orders. This unhappy circumstance prevented their emerging from that ignorance and darkness which had so long enveloped them : and it also rendered them inaccessible to that auspicious light of improved science, whose salutary beams had already been felt in several of the European provinces. The instructors of youth, dignified with the venerable titles of Artists, Grammarians, Physicians, and Dialecticians, loaded the memories of their laborious pupils with a certain quantity of barbarous terms, arid and senseless distinctions, and scholastic precepts, delivered in the most inelegant style ; and all such as could repeat this jargon with a certain readiness and rapidity, were considered as men of uncommon eloquence and erudition. The whole body of the philosophers extolled Aristotle beyond all measure, while scarcely any studied him, and none understood him. For what was now exhibited as the philosophy of that famous Grecian sage, was really nothing more than a confused and motley heap of obscure notions, sentences, and divisions, which even the public doctors and heads of schools were unable to comprehend. And if, among these thorns of scholastic wisdom, there was any thing that had the appearance of fruit, it was crushed and blasted by the furious wranglings and disputes of the Scotists and Thomists, the Realists and Nominalists, whose clamours and contentions were unhappily heard in all the European academies.

XIV. The wretched and senseless manner of teaching logy.

theology in this century may be learned from many books yet extant, which were written by the divines it produced, and which, in reality, have no other merit than their enormous bulk. The expositors of the holy scriptures were very few in number during this century; and there were scarcely any of the Christian doctors that had a critical knowledge of the sacred oracles. This kind of knowledge was so rare, that when Luther arose there could not be found, even in the university of Paris, which was considered the first and most famous of all the public schools of learning, a single person qualified to dispute with him, or oppose his doctrine upon a scripture foundation. Any commentators, that were at this time to be found, were such as, laying aside all attention to the true meaning and force of the words of scripture, which their profound ignoimmediately. At another time they poisoned stance, having poisoned bimself, as was bethe host, or consecrated wafer, but as ho lieved by some. Had his life been taken vomited it up soon after he swallowed it, he away before he had found an opportunity of escaped once more. In short, there were no making the discovery already mentioned, this means of securing him, which the most detest- execrable and horrid plot, which, in many of able impiety and barbarity could invent, that its circumstances, was conducted with art, they did not put in practice, till finding at last would have been handed down to posterity an opportunity of getting out of the convent, as a stupendous miracle. This is a very brief be threw himself into the hands of the magis- account of the matter; such as are desirous trates, to whom he made a full discovery of of a more circumstantial relation of this famous this infernal plot. The affair being brought imposture, may consult the authors mentioned to Rome, commissaries were sent from thence in the beginning of this note. to examine the matter; and the whole cheat k See Bilib. Pirkheimeri Epistola ad Habeing fully proved, the four friars were so- drianum Pontif. Maxim, de Dominicanorum lemnly degraded from their priesthood, and Flagitiis, in Opp. ejus, p. 372. This letter is were burned alive, on the last day of May, also to be found in Gerdesii Introd. ad Ilistor. 1509. Jetzer died some time after at Con- Renovati Evangelii, tom. i. p. 170, Append.

The state of theo.

« הקודםהמשך »