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which he defended the jurisdiction and majesty of the pontiffs against all their enemies and opposers ;"
John Wesselus and Jerome Savanarola, who may justly be placed among the wisest and worthiest men of this
age. The former, who was a native of Groningen, and on account of his extraordinary penetration and sagacity was called the light of the world, propagated several of those doctrines, which Luther afterward inculcated with greater evidence and energy, and animadverted with freedom and candour upon the corruptions of the Roman church. The latter was a Dominican and a native of Ferrara, remarkable for piety, eloquence, and learning, who touched the sores of the church with a heavier hand, and inveighed against the pontiffs with greater severity. This freedom cost him dear; he was committed to the flames at Florence in the year 1498, and bore his fate with the most triumphant fortitude and serenity of mind ;'
Alphonsus Spina, who wrote a book against the Jews and Saracens, which he called Fortalitium Fidei.
To all these we must join the whole tribe of the scholastic writers, whose chief ornaments were, John Capreolus, John de Turrecremata, Antoninus of Florence, Dionysius a Ryckel, Henry Gorcomius, Gabriel Biel, Stephen Brulifer, and others. The most remarkable among the mystics were, Vincentius Ferrerinus, Henry Harphius, Laurentius Justinianus, Bernardinus Senensis,and Thomas a Kempis, who shone among these with a superior lustre, and to whom the famous book Concerning the Imitation of Christ, is commonly attributed.“
r Lenfant, Histoire de la Guerre des Hussites, tom. ii. p. Waddingi Annales Minorum, tom. ix. p. 67.
s Jo. Henr. Maii Vita Reuchlini, p. 156.
t B. Jo. Franc. Buddei Pærerga Historico Theologica. The life of Savanarola was written by J. Francis Picus, and published in two volumes, 8vo. at Paris, with various annotations, letters, and original pieces by Quetis, in the year 1674. The same editor published also at Paris, that same year, the Spiritual and Ascetic Epistles of Sava. narola, translated from the Italian into Latin. See Echard, Scriptor. Prædicator. tom. i. p. 884.
u The late Abbe Langlet de Fresnoy promised the world a demonstration that this famous book, whose true author has been so much disputed among the learned, was originally written in French by a person named Gersen, or Gerson, and only translated into Latin by Thomas a Kempis. See Granetus in Launoianis, part ii. tom. iv. part ii. opp: p. 414, 415. The history of this famous book is given by Vincentius Thuillierius, in the Opera Posthuma Mabilloni et Ruinarti, tom. iij. p. 54.
CONCERNING THE STATE OF RELIGION, AND THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCIE
DURING THIS CENTURY.
1. The state of religion was become so corrupt among
the Latins, that it was utterly destitute of any state cererea pe thing that could attract the esteem of the truly
virtuous and judicious part of mankind. This is a fact, which even they whose prejudices render them unwilling to acknowledge it, will never presume to deny. Among the Greeks and orientals, religion had scarcely a better aspect than among the Latins; at least, if the difference was in their favour, it was far from being considerable. The worship of the Deity consisted in a round of frivolous and insipid ceremonies. The discourses of those who instructed the people in public, were not only destitute of sense, judgment, and spirit, but even of piety and devotion, and were in reality nothing more than a motley mixture of the grossest fictions, and the most extravagant inventions. The reputation of Christian knowledge and piety was easily acquired; it was lavished upon those who professed a profound veneration for the sacred order, and their ghostly head the Roman pontiff, who studied to render the saints, i. e. the clergy, their ministers, propitious by frequent and rich donations, who were exact and regular in the observance of the stated ceremonies of the church, and who had wealth enough to pay the fines which the papal quæstors had annexed to the commission of all the different degrees of transgression; or, in other words, to purchase indulgences. Such were the ingredients of ordinary piety; but such as added to these a certain degree of austerity and bodily mortification, were placed in the highest order of worthies, and considered as the peculiar favourites of heaven. On the other hand, the number of those who were studious to acquire a just notion of religious matters, to investigate the true sense of the sacred writings, and to model their lives and manners after the precepts and example of the divine Saviour, was extremely small, and such had much difficulty in escaping the gibbet, in an age where virtue and sense were looked
upon as heretical.
11. This miserable state of things, this enormous perversion of religion and morality throughout almost all the western provinces, was observed and de- Defenders of plored by many wise and good men, who all en- gion, raised by deavoured, though in different ways, to stem the several places. torrent of superstition, and to reform a corrupt church. In England and Scotland, the disciples of Wickliff, whom the multitude had stigmatized with the odious title of Lollards, continued to inveigh against the despotic laws of the pontiffs, and the licentious manners of the clergy." The Waldenses, though persecuted and oppressed on all sides, and from every quarter, raised their voices even in the remote valleys and lurking places whither they were driven by the violence of their enemies, and called aloud for succour to the expiring cause of religion and virtue. Even in Italy, many, and among others, the famous Savanarola, had the courage to declare, that Rome was become the image of Babylon; and this notion was soon adopted by multitudes of all ranks and conditions. But the greatest part of the clergy and monks, persuaded that their honours, influence, and riches would diminish in proportion to the increase of knowledge among the people, and would receive inexpressible detriment from the downfal of superstition, opposed, with all their might, every thing that had the remotest aspect of a reformation, and imposed silence upon these importunate censors, by the formidable authority of fire and sword.
III. The religious dissensions that had been excited in Bohemia by the ministry of John Huss and his disciple Jacobellus de Misa, were doubly in- in Bohemia. flamed by the deplorable fate of Huss and Jerome of Prague, and broke out into an open war, which was carried on with the most savage and unparalleled barbarity. The followers of Huss, who pleaded for the administration of the cup to the laity in the holy sacrament, being persecuted and oppressed in various ways by the emissaries and ministers of the court of Rome, retired to a steep and high mountain in the district of Bechin, in which they held their religious meetings, and administered the sacrament of the Lord's supper under both kinds.
This mountain they
v See Wilkins, Concilia Magne Bridern. et Hibern. tom, iv. Wood, Antig. Ogon, tom. i. p. 202, 204.
called Tabor, from the tents which they at first erected there for their habitation; and in process of time they raised a strong fortification for its defence, and adorned it with a well-built and regular city. Nor did they stop here; but, forming more grand and important projects, they chose for their chiefs, Nicholas of Hussinet, and the famous John Ziska, a Bohemian knight, a man of the most undaunted courage and resolution; and proposed, under the standards of these valiant leaders, to revenge the death of Huss and Jerome, upon the creatures of the Roman pontiff, and obtain a liberty of worshipping God in a more rational manner than that which was prescribed by the church of Rome. After the death of Nicholas, which happened in the year 1420, Ziska commanded alone this warlike body, and had the satisfaction to see his army increase from day to day. During the first tumults of this war, which were no more than a prelude to calamities of a much more dreadful kind, Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, departed this life in the year 1419.' iv. The emperor Sigismund, who succeeded him in the
throne of Bohemia, employed not only edicts and The Pustite remonstrances, but also the terror of penal laws,
and the force of arms, to put an end to these la
mentable divisions; and great numbers of the Hussites perished, by his orders, in the most barbarous manner. The Bohemians, irritated by these inhuman proceedings, threw off his despotic yoke in the year 1420, and, with Ziska at their head, made war against their sovereign. This famous leader, though deprived of his sight, discovered, in every step he took, such an admirable mixture of prudence and intrépidity, that his name became a terror to his enemies. Upon his death, which happened in the year 1424, the plurality of the Hussites chose for their general Procopius Rasa, a man also of undaunted courage and resolution, who maintained their cause, and carried on the war with spirit and success. The acts of barbarity that were committed on both sides, were shocking and terrible beyond expression; for, not
war carried on
1 x This prince had no sooner begun to execute the decrees of the council of Constance against the Hussites, than the inhabitants of Prague took fire at this proceeding, raised a tumult, murdered the magistrates wbo published the order, and committed other outrages, which filled the court of Wenceslaus with consternation, and so affected that pusillanimous monarch, that he was seized with an apoplexy, of which he died in a few davs.
withstanding the irreconcilable opposition that there was between the religious sentiments of the contending parties, they both agreed in this one horrible point, that it was innocent and lawful to persecute and extirpate with fire and sword the enemies of the true religion, and such they reciprocally appeared to be in each other's eyes. The Bohemians maintained that Huss had been unjustly put to death at Constance, and consequently revenged, with the utmost fury, the injury that had been done him. They acknowledged it, nevertheless, as an incontestable principle, that heretics were worthy of capital punishment; but they denied obstinately that Huss was a heretic. This pernicious maxim then, was the source of that cruelty that dishonoured the exploits of both the parties in this dreadful war; and it is perhaps difficult to determine, which of the two carried this cruelty to the greatest height.
v. All those who undertook to avenge the death of the Bohemian martyr, set out upon the same princi- The Calixples, and at the commencement of the war, they seemed to agree both in their religious sentiments, and in their demands upon the church and government from which they had withdrawn themselves. But as their numbers increased, their union diminished, and their army being prodigiously augmented, by a confluence of strangers from all quarters, a great dissension arose among them, which, in the year 1420, came to an open rupture, and divided this multitude into two great factions, which were distinguished by the titles of Calixtines and Taborites. The former, who were so called from their insisting upon the use of the cup, or chalice, in the celebration of the eucharist, were mild in their proceedings, and modest in their demands, and showed no disposition to overturn the ancient system of church government, or to make any considerable changes in the religion which was publicly received. All that they required, may be comprehended under the four articles which follow. They demanded, first, that the word of God should be explained to the people in a plain and perspicuous manner, without the mixture of superstitious comments or inventions; secondly, that the sacrament of the Lord's supper should be administered in both kinds ; thirdly, that the clergy, instead of employing all their attention and zeal in the acquisition of