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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 to the most distant parts of the globe, and may be justly considered as the main 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 produced by it, and the inconveniences of which it has been the innocent occasion. The history, therefore, of such an important revolution, from which so many others have derived their origin, and whose relations and connexions are so extensive and so general, demands a peculiar degree of attention, and has an unquestionable right to a distinguished place in such a work as this. We now proceed to give a compendious view of the modern history of the Christian church, accord. ing to the intimated plan and method.

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THE

SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

SECTION I.

THE HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION.

The division

I. The History of the Reformation is too ample CENT. XVI. and extensive to be comprehended, without some degree of confusion, in the uninterrupted narrative of the first of one Section : we shall therefore divide it into Four Section. Parts.

The first will contain an account of the state of Christianity before the commencement of the Reformation ;

The second will give the history of the Reformation from its beginning until the date of the Confession of Augsburg;

The third will exhibit a view of the same history, from this latter period to the commencement of the war of Smalcald; and

The fourth will carry it down to the peace that was concluded with the advocates of the Reformation in the year 1555 This division is natural; it arises spontaneously from the events themselves.

• The writers of the history of the Reformation, of every rank and order, are enumerated by the very learned Philip Fred. Hane (who himself deserves a most eminent rank in this class), in his Historia Sacrorum a Luthero emendatorum, part i. and by Jo. Alb. Fabricius, in his Centifolium Lutheranum, part ii. cap. clxxxvii. The greatest part, or at least the most eminent, of this list of authors must be consulted by such as desire a farther confirmation or illustration of the matters which I propose to relate briefly in the course of this history.

The illustrious names of Sleidan and Seckendorff, and others, who bave distinguished themselves in this kind of erudition, are too well known to render it necessary to recommend their works to the perusal of the curious reader.

CHAPTER I.

Concerning the State of the Christian Church before the

Reformation.

LENT. XVI,

I. ABOUT the commencement of this century, the Things were

Roman pontiffs lived in the utmost tranquillity ; nor in a quiet had they, as things seemed to be situated, the least beginning of reason to apprehend any opposition to their pretenthis century. sions, or rebellion against their authority, since those

dreadful commotions, which had been excited in the preceding ages by the Waldenses, Albigenses, and Beghards, and more recently 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 knowlege adequate to any new attempt, and therefore, instead of inspiring terror, became objects of contempt.

II. We must not, however, conclude from this against the apparent tranquillity and security of the pontiffs and popes and their adherents, that their measures were applauded; clergy in

or that their chains were worn without reluctance; for 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 counsels, the arrogance, tyranny, and extortion of their legates, the unbridled licentiousness and enormous crimes of the clergy and monks of all

The com

effectual.

poseb.

denominations, the inordinate severity and partiality Cens. XVI. 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 pur

But these complaints and demands were not carried so far as to produce any good effect, since they came from persons who did not 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 which 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 pontiff was deemed 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.

III. If any thing seemed proper to destroy the The restogloomy empire of superstition, and to alarm the ration of

learning. security of the lordly, pontiffs, it was the restoration of learning in Europe, and the number of men of genius that suddenly arose, under the benign influence of that auspicious revolution. But even this new scene was insufficient to terrify the lords of the church, or to make them apprehend the decline of

It is true, that this happy revolution in the republic of letters dispelled the gloom of ignorance, and kindled in the minds of many the

their power.

b These complaints and accusations have been largely enu. merated by several writers. _See, among many others, Val, Ern. Loescherus, in Actis et Documentis Reformationis, tom. i. cap. v. ix. et Ern. Salom. Cyprian. Præfat. ad Wilk. Ern. Tenzelii Historiam Reformat. published at Leipsic in 1717The grievances complained of by the Germans in particular, are amply mentioned by J. F. Georgius in his Gravamina Imperator. et Nationis German. adversus Sedem Romanam, cap. vii. Nor do the wiser and more learned aniong the modern Romanists pretend to deny that the church and clergy, before the time of Luther, were corrupt in a very high degree.

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