« AnteriorContinuar »
as predicted to fortify the truth of God and fix immutably the faith of man in prophecy yet unfolded.
This is the character and these are the difficulties of infidel philosophy. This is what skepticism presents and the result in which the rejection of the gospel involves us. How widely different the system of Christianity. In itself, it is the wisdom of God. It comes to render us wise. It borrows no aid from ignorance ; courts investigation ; shrinks not from the light of day; numbers the wisest of earth in her train, and makes them wiser still in the wisdom she imparts. There is no unfairness, nothing disingenuous in its character. It assumes nothing to what it is not entitled ; it charges upon sin, nothing but its nature and its fruits, and asks for virtue nothing but its intrinsic excellence and its own reward. Christianity is pure, chaste and refined. Never did it descend to scurrility and abuse, or betray the dignity of its heavenly origin. It meets its enemies in the mildness of mercy and the tenderness of love, and rather than revile and enkindle wrath, she bows before persecution in the majesty of suffering, and conquers by yielding. You may draw from the Bible the finest lessons of genuine refinement of feelings and of manners, and there view the fairest specimens of true dignity. Christianity comes with a fixedness and permanence of character. Immutable in her laws, changeless in her precepts and her promises, perfect and entire, wanting nothing; like her Author, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. She proffers her benefits upon immutable conditions ; pronounces on all offenders the same unerring judgments, and holds on her steady and uniform course of grace and righteousness. Christianity is consistent as it is immutable. In all its lengthened and blended history, the variety of its parts, the long succession of ages and authors that have combined to raise and mature its imperishable structure, it is perfectly harmonious, presenting a symmetry and beauty, unity of design and effect, reflection on the past and the development of the future, which is not only incomparable, but divine. It is alike distinguished for its pure morality, its elevating power, and its unearthly kindness. It stands an eternal contrast to the immoral, debasing and cruel spirit of skepticism. It takes man, destroyed and in ruins, repairs and saves him. It rebinds sundered society in intellectual and moral harmony, extending the hand of support and love to the afflicted. It restores men from gregarian pollution, to the order, the intelligence, the purity, the dignity
of the sons of God. It throws into the human constitution a fortitude; into the human character a magnanimity, of which it would seem utterly unsusceptible, but from the divinity of its original creation. Its precursor, turning from the ease and honors of life, bound in strange austerities, yet rose in magnanimity and fortitude, the mild reprover of sin, and laid his headless trunk in the dungeon, rather than pamper the pride of a lascivious prince.
Christianity gives those elements of character, that greatness of mind, which shrinks from no difficulty, presses towards high attainments and aspires to fellowship with minds kindred to its
Saul with Gamaliel, was not Paul with Jesus Christ. A pharisee in the synagogue or a citizen of Rome was enough for the one ; but the world itself could not limit the expanding mind and satisfy the glowing heart of the other. His citizenship was in heaven. He was of the household of God. " The Christian selects his companions from the intellectual and moral nobility of the universe - studies David, Daniel, Isaiah and Jesus Christ. He rises to sit with patriarchs and prophets, and apostles, and communes with them as his elect and familiar friends. Nay, not contented yet, he pants after Deity itself, and rests not, till like Enoch, he walks with God, and has his fellowship with the infinite and glorious Father of spirits.”
And while Christianity has imparted this elevation and charity, it has been uniformly successful and true to all her promises. In the face of the world, she has steadily advanced; taken possession after possession; rolled back as with the hand of omnipotence the waves of darkness and delusion. And where has she ever failed in one solitary promise ? She has arrogated to herself nothing which she had not a right to claim, and boasted of no excellence, with which she was not adorned, no wisdom which she did not possess and was not able to impart Christianity is harmonious with nature and with Providence ; borrows proof of her divinity from alliance with the Author of the world, and the harmony of her advancement with the developments of his will. The prophecies of God are fulfilled in her, and the predicted consummation of all events, is the crowning glory of the kingdom of Christ.
fance. tile su times the ben
ON THE ORIGIN AND COMMENCEMENT OF THE REFORMATION;
FROM Planck's PROTESTANT THEOLOGY.
Translated from the German, hy R. Emerson, Prof. of Ecclesiastical History, Theol. Sem.
Andover. Continued from p. 358, Vol. IX. It was at the close of the weak reign of Maximilian I. that the shameless manner in which a despicable* monk publicly sold indulgences, gave the first occasion to the great revolution by which half Europe was detached from papal dominion.
Leo X., who, in 1513, had obtained the pontificate by the combinationt of the younger cardinals, was but too ready, in order to satisfy his propensity for pomp and prodigality, to grasp the means which thus far his predecessors, Julius II. and Alexander VI. had so often found serviceable in their necessities. He had, by a bull, published a general indulgence in Germany, the income of which was to be applied to the building of Peter's church at Rome,f that greatest monument of priestly extrava
* Not only Erasmus and all the sensible men of the age, who were not Dominicans, publicly charged upon Tetzel the blame of all the disquiets that arose, and painted the man in the most odious colors, but so judged even one of the papal nuncios, who were to suppress the disquiets in Germany. See Miltitz's Letters to Degenhard Pfeffinger, in Cyprian's Documents, Part I.
389. + In the Unschuldigen Nachrichten, auf d. y. 1740. p. 378. is the bistory of the conclave in which Leo X. was chosen, and another account of this election, which the count of Carpi wrote to the emperor Maximilian; boih from the Lettres du Roi Louis XII. T. iv. p. 63. seq. It is known how Burillas explains the wonder, that so young a cardinal became a pope; and in the history of the conclave cited, there is at least one circumstance which gives the appearance of probability to his anecdote.
| This stands indeed in the bull, but the Germans, who had but a dark idea of the reckoning and counter-reckoning of the papal treasury, found it a little stumbling, that the profits of the indulgence from most of the provinces in Germany, were assigned as a present to Magdalen the sister of the pope and wife of the prince Cibo. Pallavicini, indeed, denies this circumstance, which Guicciardini and Sarpi adduce; but he properly proves only, that the fault would not be great, even if the allegation were true; and this proof he might have spared himself, if it had been possible for him to show the falsity of the circuinstance.
gance. It was, indeed, nothing uncommon in Germany, to receive such letters of indulgence from Rome, which were at other times sent under the pretext of a war against the Turks, or for the benefit of some particular churches, on condition that part of the avails should be placed in the papal treasury at Rome. There had also been contention already on this subject; and complaints had even been made at the diets concerning the abuse of indulgences; nay, several German bishops had already employed severe measures against the stationers and indulgence-mongers. Still the business had been kept up; nor, as appeared, had it ever been pursued so far, or fallen into such disgraceful hands, as now. Albert of Brandenberg, a brother of the then reigning elector Joachim I. though not quite twenty-four years of
age, had become bishop of Magdeburg in Halberstadt, and elector of Mentz; and, at this age, was, on the small scale, what Leo was on the great. His extravagant propensity to pomp, to building, and to other delights, which did not directly belong to the state of an archbishop, had soon exhausted the income of his lands; and even the money for his pall was not yet paid.* He had therefore no further means remaining but to get transferred to himself the preaching of indulgences in a part of Germany; and, for half the avails, to assume the trouble or the superintendence of collection. As it so deeply concerned himself that this income should prove prolific, he selected a man for the business, who was already known as a most adroit negotiator of such affairs. John Tetzel was the man—a Dominican monk, born at Leipsic, who, not long before, to the advantage of the German order, [the Teutonic knights), had preached, with the most lucky success, an indulgence, from
The tax to the pope, on the presentation of this badge of office. The pall was first given by the Roman emperors, in the fourth century, to the patriarchs and primates of the empire. Afterwards, it was sent by the
patriarchs to the archbishops, as a token of their confirmation in office, and they were to wear it whenever engaged in discharging their higher duties. The popes assumed this right of confirmation in the West; and from the tenth century, have exacted a tribute from the archbishops on the receipt of this token of investiture - amounting sometimes to about $15,000.
The pall was originally a woollen cloak, which was to be buried with the wearer; but since the twelfth century, it has consisted of a white woollen fillet, thrown over the vestments, and coming down from the shoulders a little way before and behind, and ornamented with a red chaplet. Enc. Am. - TR. Vol. X. No. 27.
which the expense of the Muscovite war was to be met. Scarcely would a cloister in Germany have afforded him a more dexterous monk for this purpose. With the peculiar spirit of a monk, and with the sternest monastic theology of an inquisitor, Tetzel united not only the most boundless impudence, but, what rendered his business the most easy for himself, all those low arts of vulgar buffoonery which rendered his access to the multitude more easy, and made his traffic the more gainful among them just in proportion as it disgraced it among the better part of the nation. With the persuasiveness of a genuine vender of quackmedicines, he every where presented his commodity for sale, while he boldly ascribed to his letters of pardon an efficacy which the most avaricious dogmatism of the Romish court, had never ascribed to them. The vulgar, as usual, suffered themselves to be captivated by the bustle; the wiser laughed at the gross deception. But, fired with the noblest indignation, one single monk dared openly to raise his voice against it, as he believed himself called to do by his office and by his station. That this was a peculiar and most righteous, and therefore a sufficient occasion for him,* we cannot better show than by here adducing some of those doctrines concerning indulgence against which his zeal was roused, as they were in part received by the Romish church at that time, and in part still more impudently propounded by Tetzel.
It was not so very long, since the popes had assumed the right to mitigate or wholly to remit the ecclesiastical punish
* Eren Erasmus was so noble as to impute no other motive to Luther. “ They now began," says he, of the mendicant inonks, “ with a smooth front, to the neglect of Christ, to preach nothing but their new and impudent doctrines. They spoke of indulgences in a manner which not even the illiterate could bear.
By these and many like things, the power of gospel doctrine was gradually van. ishing; and, as things grew continually worse, that spark of Christian piety would at length have been totally extinguished, from which charity, already extinct, could have been rekindled. The sum of religion was verging to more than Jewish ceremonies. Good men sighed over and deplored these things. Even theologians who were not monks, confessed them; as did also the monks themselves, in private conversation. These things, I think, moved the mind of Luther first to dare to place himself in opposition to the intolerable impudence of some.” This Erasmus wrote to the elector of Mentz, just two years after the beginning of the contests. Epp. i. xii. ep. 10.