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too, was alarmed for the kingdom of Sicily; and his views upon Naples must of course be disappointed, should the French inf\uence prevail in Italy. Italy therefore, became the seat of war, and the object of ambition-to the kings of France, the emperors, and the Spanish monarchs, until the abdication of Charles V.
In these perplexing circumstances the bishop of Rome must act in a double capacity; as temporal prince, and as spiritual head of entire Christendom. Unhappily the obligations annexed to his character of head of the church,-obligations which have no other object than the interests of religion, the general peace of Christendom, and consequently, the good of Europe ;no other laws than those of charity, justice and truth, --some. times, by a dereliction of duty incident to human nature, were made subservient to the politic and selfish views of the sovereign. Nor can it be denied that there have been popes, who prostituted alike their temporal and their spiritual power-to promote the interests of their family, or what is still more scandalous,--the gratification of their passions. Such were, undoubtedly,Alexander VI. and Julius II. at the commencement of the sixteenth century. On various pretences taxes had been levied upon ecclesiastical property throughout the West; and the sovereign pontiff's had thus been enabled to draw considerable sums from almost every province throughout Europe. The clergy murmured at this abuse; and, whenever it appeared notorious that the pope converted the money thus raised-to purposes merely temporal, France and 'Germany were in the habit of withholding the supply.
The sovereign pontiff's moreover, enjoyed many privileges burdensome both to the people and the clergy, and which, while they filled the treasury at Rome, drained very much those countries whence they flowed; and this--at a period when commerce did not supply the deficiency. These odious and oppressive privileges operated the decline of papal power in the West, where it had numbers of determined and very formidable adversaries.
In this ill boding crisis of affairs, Leo X. formed the project of erecting a magnificent fabric in honor of St Peter. Indulgences were granted to those who should contribute towards the erection; and great abuses were committed by the collectors, as well as by some of those who were commissioned to publish from the pulpit the unseasonable grant. Luther, an Augustinian friar, in his public invectives against these disorders reprobated the indulgences themselves. Leo anathematized his doctrine, and caused his writings to be burnt. The latter appealed from the pontiff ' to a general council, and in his turn ordered the
pa-pal bull to be committed to the flames at Wirtemberg. This daring act of Luther much diminished in the minds of the people
that religious awe, with which the deerees of the sovereign pontiff's had hitherto impressed them, and Luther's audacity increased in proportion. He next attacked his holiness's person. Meanwhile the imperial diet was convoked, and a decree was issued by Charles V. for his arrestation, with orders that the bull of Leo X. should be put in execution. One part of Germany took up arms in Luther's defence; and several princes united to protect him. The empire was menaced by the Turks; a circumstance which prevented Charles from stifling this confederacy, and left Luther full liberty to alter at discretion—whatever in religion his testy palate and his passions did not well know how to relish. He became the apostle of seduction to a considerable part of Germany, which embraced his new religious system, and separated from the communion of the catholic church.
While this was transacting in Germany, Zuinglius, curate of Glaris, declaimed with equal violence against the indulgences published on the same occasion in Switzerland. This rival apostle makes a bold attack upon almost all the dogmata of faith ; discards at once all the ceremonies of religion, and alienates from the catholic communion one half of Switzerland.
The changes thus introduced in the ancient creed and form of worship, Luther and Zuinglius denominate reform ; - and themselves they style evangelical reformers. This title produces, almost invariably, a wild fanaticism both in the head and members of any new sect. It was the case in the present instance. Each of these grand innovators found enthusiasts prepared to -undertake the promulgation of their errors through the various districts of Europe, --with the hazard of their lives : these make numerous proselytes to the sect; communicate to their new converts their fanatic zeal, and disregard the perils and the torments that, in some instances, await them. Denmark, Sweden and part of Hungary are drawn over to the schism, and the English nation too, adopts a part of their novel opinions: they disturb the peace of the Low Countries, and lay the foundation of the commonwealth of the United Provinces, in Holland.
The pretended reformation of Luther and Zuinglius quickly branched forth into a vast variety of independent seets, whose tenets were as inconsistent with each other, as they were at variance with those of the catholic church. We will instance only--the Anabaptists, divided into thirteen or fourteen branches; the Sacramentarians-into nine; the Confessionists, into twenty-four ;-the Extravagantes, who rejected the confession of Augsburg, into six; and we refer our readers to their respective articles.
All these different sects multiplied very rapidly in Germany, and spread their discordant doctrines in the Low Countries, in France, England, &c.
The superficially learned, and those who had no pretensions
to learning, were easily seduced by the sophisms of the reformers ;-a humourous remark upon theologians ;-a ridiculous conclusion attributed to catholics ;---an ambiguous passage of scripture ill understood by any commentator of the church of Rome, or an abuse detected and reproved by some reformer, were esteemed abundant arguments of the ignorance of catholic divines, and proved the reform to be, forsooth, one and the same thing with the re-establishment of christianity.
We have observed already that the reformed were divided among themselves: they had no regular system of divinity, no common symbol of belief. Calvin stept forth to supply the desideratum. Calvin was a Frenchman,-a man of parts and erudition. He had embraced the reforming principles, and laid down for the foundation of his doctrine the leading maxim ainong protestants, that Holy Scripture is the sole rule of faith, and that each private individual is competent to judge of its true sense and meaning. Furnished with this self-interpreting principle, he pretends to deduce from scripture every dogma of the reforming system, and decks out his very erroneous theories in a clear, methodical and not inelegant style. His doctrine made rapid progress in different parts of Europe, particularly in France.
Aided by the same principle which had been so eminently serviceable to Calvin, Socinus proceeded to retrench from christiani. ty-all the mysteries which the former had retained ; and Servetus found that there existed in the universe but one individual substance !
It is then an undeniable fact, that the rule of faith admitted by all the different descriptions of the first reformers, was scripture alone interpreted by each one's private judgment. It is no less an undoubted truth, that the genuine sense of scripture must be obtained either by inspiration, or exclusively, by the aid of rea
Thus the leading principle of the reformation evidently tends- either to fanaticism,-or to a system of christianity which rejects all mysteries above the comprehension of human reason, and every form of worship the utility of which is not obvious to its natural sagacity unassisted by revelation. Time which allows a more extensive range to science, seems daily to do away, more and more perceptibly, the principles of fanaticism in protestant countries; consequently, in the different societies of the reformed, there now exists a something which, silently though forcibly-impels the protestant to Socinianism.
Such, eventually, must be the result of their favorite maxim of what they are pleased to term-Scripture faith ; and it ought to impress all thinking men with the necessity of tracing back their steps to that authority, which their fathers have so unadvisedly. abjured in separating from the communion of the ancient church.
While these revolutions were taking place in the religious creed
of Europe, Bacon, Gassendi and Descartes, were more happily employed in dissipating unphilosophic prejudices which hitherto had been patronised in the schools; and in conducting mankind in their investigation of natural truths. Their method, however, of subjecting all things to the tribunal of reason, and of suspending the judgment upon points of the clearest physical evidence--combined with the principles of the reformation, had this of inconvenience in it, that it disposed the mind to admit nothing as revealed but what reason comprehended, and to discuss, too presumptuously, the grounds of revelation itself;-to investigate in every doctrine of religion-not the laminous prin . ciples which prove its certitude, but those mysterious obscurities which prevent us from having that perfect evidence-inconsistent with the incomprehensible mysteries of our divine faith. Commerce has facilitated the means of circulating these principles through every part of Europe; and they absorb at present a great share of the attention of the literary world.
Thus is human wit, after having tried during the long lapse of eighteen hundred years every method of self-delusion in matters of faith and christian morality, reconducted by the circle of its own errors, at the close of so tedious a career-to doubt the truth of christianity itself. This religious pyrrhonism, often the effect of ignorance or levity of mind, and sometimes too, of habitual corruption, which tends to produce a certain loathing for instruction in the duties of religion, will naturally find extensive patronage in nations of a lively and inquisitive turn of mind, incapable of the attention requisite for the disquisition of serious truisms, and already prepossessed with the erroneous maxim, that nothing must be admitted as the doctrine of truth, which is not evident to human reason.
“ If the piety of our readers is sometimes shocked at the recital of the crimes which have disfigured christianity, let them bear in mind those words of our dear Redeemer-it is necessary that scandals come. They are trials which ensure to his servants the recompence of their fidelity. Vice originates with the passions : these religion does not annihilate ; it teaches us only, how we may subdue, while it leaves us still at liberty to indulge them. We must not, therefore, be surprised at seeing scan- d this dals in the church ; where noxious weeds shall be suffered to grow indiscriminately amidst the good grain, until the time of harvest :-it is likened by our Lord himself—to a barn-floor, on which the chaff lies mingled with the wheat ;--to a boat, in which there are both good and bad fish. These comparisons employed by Christ our Lord in the gospel, declare to us, that in the church itself there shall be found disorders and abuses ;
pes which, indeed, it neither approves nor connives at, but laments, ihen abhors and condemns; and endeavours with unceasing effort to m repress them, although it must not look for a complete emancithes pation from the evil, before the final dissolution of this earthly , tabernacle. As long as it shall continue to sojourn upon earth, qui scandals will not fail to arise among the faithful; an inconveni , hence to which the very ministers of God shall equally be liable. ad: To the pastors of his church Jesus Christ hath promised doco di trinal infallibility, not innocence of conduct: Go, saith he, and - teach all nations ; baptizing them, and teaching them to observe pris all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and behold I am rity with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. In vir
tue of which promise Christ our Lord is present with his mifaidi nisters to secure them from error in faith, but not to privilege cip them from vice. He hath said, He would be with them in the to act of teaching, according to the remark of the learned Bossuet,
--not to ensure their fidelity in practising what he had enjoinsed ed. Thus, speaking to the faithful, he bids them do what they ter should tell them,—not what they themselves might do. Neverown theless we are not to imagine, that their preaching will be with2
of out effect. For as the word of God is never barren, and grace tof is always sure to accompany sound doctrine, it will at all times C0- continue to produce a progeny of saints. Sometimes, indeed, Eticn the harvest will appear but scanty in comparison with the greatmage
er multitude of the wicked ; but, notwithstanding the variety of abuses and disorders which scandalize the church, they will
never be permitted to subvert it, or even to intercept its view ning from the discrimination of sincere seekers. In effect, at periods
the most unpromising, and in ages the least favorable to virtue and to mental acquirements, we still discover bright instances of both. The morality of the gospel hath always been in practice-with numbers of pious christians in every condition of life : each revolving age hath had its models of exemplary sanctity ; pastors of irreproachable demeanour; holy virgins ; truly
fervent religious men; christians faithful to their duty, and y persons sincerely penitent; since, in fact, it was the spirit of
compunction and unfeigned repentance, that--from the eleventh century, when barbarism and impiety were at their EF; zenith, introduced so many new religious establishments to re
vive the sentiments of christianity in a disordered world; God 2) thus inspiring extraordinary personages to enter upon so laud
The church is essentially holy in her doctrine, of and in her sacraments; by the worthy participation of which
many of her members never fail to attain to a state of holiness; and all would do so, were they obedient to her precepts. If then there be found within her pale refractory and rebellious children, she will also have even in the worst of times a holy offspring and a virtuous race, so long as the preaching of the
do' able a project.