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ed, whether the religious habit should be coarse and short, or somewhat longer and of materials not quite so rough. Some religious men as well as laics, made holiness to consist in the practice of the strictest poverty, and would not work for fear they should acquire a right to call any thing their own ; others deemed it a point of conscience not to labour for perishable food. Some again, pretending to resemble Jesus Christ more perfectly even than St Francis, caused themselves to be wrapped in swaddling cloths, and put into a cradle. One maintained himself to be Št Michael; and after his death was metamorphosed into the Holy Ghost.
Another asserted, that an angel had brought a letter from above, in which Jesus Christ had declared it neces· sary for all that desired the forgiveness of their sins--to forsake their country, and to flog themselves severely during thirty-four days, in remembrance of the time that he had sojourned upon earth.
All these strangely stupid and ridiculous conceits had each their frantic abettors, who propagated their various sects over all the provinces of Europe. In pursuit of imaginary perfection they formed themselves into societies, the members of which were to bear towards each other a
more particular affection. But soon perceiving that their fanciful perfection had not rid them of the tyranny of their passions, they were willing to compromise, and to obey them as the order of nature, while they pretended to retrench whatever went beyond this: hence, they esteemed fornication, for instance, a laudable, or at least, an innocent act in the time of temptation; whereas, these hypocrites affected to condemn all kisses, however innocent their motive, as enormous crimes. Of these multifarious societies of men and women—were composed the abominable sects of the Begardæ, the Fratricelli or Frerots, the Spiritual Brethren, the Apostolics, the Dulcenists, the Flagellants, the Turlupins, &c. &c.
John XXII. excommunicated the Frerots and their upholders. But these sectaries arraigned the authority by which they were proscribed, and in order to secure the patronage
of princes, they coupled their errors with propositions inimical to the pretensions of the court of Rome. Much rigour was employed against them; but they survived the storm, and united with the expatriated Albigenses. This was the case among other sectarians of the Lollards. Wickliff, an Oxford divine, made common cause with these fanatics, and in his sermons and his writings inveighed outrageously—against the pope, the clergy and the church itself, --its ceremonies, and its sacraments.
In the schools, Aristotle and his Arabian commentators were still passionately admired : many adopted their principles in judicial astrology; attributed every event to the influence of the stars, and pretended to account from the analogous disposition
of these heavenly bodies, for all human occurrences, and for the origin and the progress of every religion,-christianity not
excepted. Of this number was the very fanciful Cæcus Asculafear Others embraced the metaphysical principles of these hers philosophers, and undertook to reconcile them with religion:
they failed in the attempt, and in general wandered wide of the Hectly truth.
If to o the
Fifteenth century of the christian era. eht a zces After the defeat and captivity of the Turkish tyrant Bajazet, sake who was overthrown and taken prisoner in a great battle by the four famous Tartarian prince Tamerlane, the empire of Constantinopor ple enjoyed an interval of peace; while Mahomet and his brothers
quarrelled about the division of the Turkish dynasty. But no sooner had the former reunited his father Bajazet's dominions in
his own person, than he recommenced with vigor the war ion against the Greeks. The Greek empire was now on the verge tich of ruin. The emperor implored the aid of the Western princes; on. succeeded in his endeavours to reunite the Greek and Latin rid churches; and the decree of union procured very considerable
succours to the Constantinopolitan empire. But no change was hey thus effected in the discipline of the Greek church; nor was any ber
alteration intended in its morality: notwithstanding which, the clergy obstinately refused to accede to the decree, or to admit to any ecclesiastical functions--those among their brethren that had
signed it. The discontent soon became general, and the greater - of part of those that had promoted the union, were forced to reBe
tract: the council of Florence was impeached, and the decree of the union was reprobated throughout the East. The emperor was Ens determined to support his own act and deed ; while the schisma
tical party threatened him with excommunication, in case he should continue to hold communion with the Latin church.
Meanwhile Amurath and Mahomet II. were making daily acofquisitions in the empire; and every thing prognosticated the
speedy fall of Constantinople. But bigotry and fanaticism re
gard the destruction of empires as of trifling importance; and med
the Greeks on this occasion deemed it an impiety to hesitate one 76 갱
moment-between the ruin of their country and their groundless
rancor against the Western church. Mahomet II. took advandtage of their prejudices,--laid siege to Constantinople, and en
tered it by storm about the middle of the fifteenth century,
The German empire at this period was full of disorder and confusion : the emperors had no longer any authority in Italy; and civil contention reigned triumphant in that unhappy country. Robert the Short, who succeeded Wenceslas in the empire,
was not able to re-establish order ; nor indeed, were those that followed him more successful in the arduous attempt.
France was not less turbulent than her neighbours. The imbecility of Charles VI,—the ambition of the dukes of Burgundy and Orleans; the murder of the last mentioned duke, which placed the crown upon the head of the king of England; the exertions of Charles VII. in order to wrest the sceptre out of his hands ; the disagreement of the dauphin with his father Charles; and finally, the quarrels of Lewis XI. with the dukes of Burgundy,– of Berry, Britany, &c.; and the wars of Charles Vill. with some of these princes, together with his military expeditions into Italy, kept the nation in a continued state of irritation. The
peace of the church was disturbed by the baneful evil of schisin. Gregory XII. and Benedict XIII. contested the pontificate, and were both deposed by the council of Pisa, which then proceeded to the election of John XXIII. This extraordinary measure, instead of allaying, augmented the disorder. All Europe supported respectively the different interests of one or other of these three popes. At length, however, a happy period was put to this unfortunate division by the efforts of the general council of Constance. This council saw with regret, that the church, as well as bodies politic, was obliged to tolerate in her members various abuses and disorders, which called aloud for redress; and with a view of promoting this salutary reform in discipline and order, commanded a synod to assemble at Pavia. For different reasons it was transferred to Sienna and then to Basil, whence pope Eugenius attempted to translate it to Ferrara. In this he was opposed by the prelates assembled at Basil; and, in consequence, he dissolved the council. The refractory menbers pretended to depose the pope, and set up Amadeus of Savoy, under the name of Felix V. Eugenius excommunicated the schismatical synod, together with the newly elected pontiff'; and the two rivals continued to divide the West, till the death of Eugenius. The mildness and amiable condescension of his successor Nicolas V. restored tranquillity to the church: Felix renounced his pretensions; and the schism terminated. The succeeding popes were too much implicated in the wars of Italy, and were constantly occupied either in reuniting christian princes against the Turks, or, less laudably, with views of self aggrandizement, and the interests of their families.
The writings of Wickliff were now in extensive circulation ; they had been industriously disseminated over all Europe. In them Wickliff attacked the authority of the pope, and that of the church ;--their spiritual jurisdiction, as well as their temporal possessions. He inveighed with much profane scurrility against religious orders and the sacraments, and he made it a point of conscience-to refuse the payment of tithes. In a word, Wickliff's works contained principles admirably suited to
characters of all descriptions, particularly to persons whose interest inclined them to oppose--the authority of the church, the papal jurisdiction, and the influence of the clergy. In England the Begards and the Lollards had joined the Wickliffites, and had formed a considerable party, which the authority of the king, and the efforts of the clergy combined, were hardly adequate to control.
Certain theologians of this age maintained-to their full extent—the immoderate pretensions of some of the Roman pontiffs, and subjected all things to ecclesiastic power. Other sectaries and writers, in the opposite extreme, sought to despoil the church and its pastors of their just prerogatives and unalienable rights; while the more moderate and more virtuous part of christians wished to see the power
and clergy reduced within its proper bounds, and the abuses and corruptions which tainted the morals of the faithful, corrected and reformed.
France, which abounded at this period with enlightened characters,—with learned divines and celebrated universities, preserved unimpaired both its civil and ecclesiastic liberty, without violating the attachment and respect due to the see of Rome; barring only some few instances of a contrary tendency-the effect of indiscreet zeal, which was censured on its first appearance, and found no advocates to canonize it. Whereas, in England, which at this time could not boast the like literary advantages with France, and where the papal influence was infinitely more absolute, the Wickliffites and Lollards were more successful: they made some proselytes, and gradually formed a party patronized by the house of commons-eventually too strong and fanatic to be intimidated by the power of the king, or annihilated by the rigours of proscription.
In Germany, John Huss undertook to establish a reform of morals. The writings of Wickliff he conceived well calculated to diminish the authority of churchmen, to whom he was inimi.. cal—from a persuasion that they would oppose his projects. In his sermons to the people he made much use of Wickliff's principles, and recommended them to his auditory-with effect. The clergy censured his doctrines, and summoned him to appear before his holiness at Rome. He was banished Prague; and from that moment was confirmed in his resolution to prosecute more vigorously his system of reform. He declaimed a-new against the church, against the clergy, against the pope, and also against the abuse of indulgences which were sometimes granted without sufficient cause; likewise against ecclesiastical censures, occasionally prostituted to unworthy purposes, and denounced alike, he said, against the innocent and the guilty. These were specious pretexts for schism and contumacy in in
feriors, very capable of imposing upon the ignorant, and of producing in them a spirit of revolt.
Huss was ordered to attend the council of Constance, and to give an account of his seditious doctrines. He was condemned for his obstinacy, and punished by the secular power as incorrigible in his errors. His followers took up arms; and the war undertaken to reduce them, was attended in Bohemia with all its usual train of horrors. That unhappy kingdom, with a part of Germany, became one vast wilderness inundated with human blood, and covered with the ashes of once-flourishing citiesof monasteries and other sacred asylums of religion. This dreadful war terminated only with the final ruin of the whole fanatic sect.
With the exception of the Wickliffites, and their auxiliaries the Lollards, &c. those enthusiasts who had formed themselves into societies apart in the preceding age, were now no more. Only a few frantic sectaries still continued to publish their extravagant and impure theories. One Pikard, for instance, and the Adamites, renewed the infamies of the Gnostics, and were destroyed by Zisca. Certain Flemish devotees turned prophets ; and some few Hussites had survived the general wreck, and retreated into forests or lived retired in lonesome caverns.
Sixteenth century of the christian era.
The conquest of the Greek empire did not satisfy the boundless ambition of the Turkish emperors. They next attacked the provinces of the West, and established themselves in Hungary, Their warlike attitude alarmed all Europe; it influenced and regulated the enterprises of the sovereigns of the West, especially those of Germany, which the movements of the Turks seemed more immediately to affect. Against these hereditary enemies of the christian name, the sovereign pontiffs were soli. citous to unite the christian powers. Their zeal, however, had not the desired effect. They wished to allot the tenth part of all ecclesiastical property to the above important concern; but this very laudable project also, was counteracted, and found impracticable.
The French had relinquished their Italian possessions ever since the reign of Charles VIII. During this interval the Venetians, the pope and the Milanese disagreeing among themselves, Lewis XII. took advantage of their quarrels, and re-entered Italy. Alexander VI. joined him; and the whole dukedom of Milan was reduced within twenty days. This excited the jealousy of the emperor Maximilian, who apprehended legt, in the event of the French becoming masters of Italy, the imperial crown should be claimed by the kings of France. Ferdinand