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in which it had been openly represented by his ancestors in this council ? But so imperious were the Italian cardinals, that they used very threatening language, accusing both the emperor, and those who favoured his views of heresy. They also added craft to their menaces, and by degrees drew over the German deputies themselves to their party; and at length Sigismund, being left alone, consented that the choice of a pope should be previous to the reformation. This was all that the Italians desired : for Martin and his cardinals contrived to elude the wishes of the nations for reform. And thus,--the French, who, with Gerson as their adviser, had condemned the upright servants of God, the Germans, who, with Sigismund at their head, had supported the accusation against them,– and the English who had perfecuted the followers of Wickliff, and joined in the cry against Huss and Jerom, -all these very deservedly became the dupes of papal artifice ; and the nations were destined for another century to groan under one of the most intolerable of all governments. The glory of God, the truths of the gospel, and the real kingdom of Jesus Christ being kept out of sight by all parties, none of thein regarding reformation much further than it concerned their own interested views, nothing that deserved the name of Reformation ensued. Among the valuable leffons to be learnt from the history of the council of Constance, this is one ; namely,-Those who really mean to serve God and his Christ, and to profit mankind in religion, whether they be pastors, or fynods, must begin,if the people be in a state of ignorance, -with explaining the written word of God; they must plainly set forth the essential doctrines of salvation by Jesus Christ, and then erect the whole structure of their reformation upon those doctrines. How void the council was of all true knowledge
of the scripture-doctrines of salvation, will appear from the Bull, by which the pope dissolved that assembly. An extract of it is as follows, “ Martin, bilhop, servant of the servants of God, at the request of the sacred council, we dismiss it. Moreover, by the authority of Almighty God, and of the bleffed Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and by our own authority, we grant to all the members of the council plenary absolution of all their fins once in their lives, so that every one of them, within two months after the notification of this privilege has come to his knowledge, may enjoy the benefit of the said absolution in form. We also grant them them the same privilege in the moment of death; and we extend it to the domestics, as well as to the masters, on condition, that from the day of the notification, both the one and the other fast every friday, during a whole year, for the absolution granted to them while alive; and another year for their abfolution in the moment of death, unless there be some lawful impediment, in which case they shall do other works of piety. And after the fecond year they shall be obliged to fast on fridays during life, or to do some other acts of piety, on pain of incurring the displeasure of Almighty God and of the bleffed Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul.”
I hasten to close the history of this council
, because in the latter part of their proceedings there is little that falls within my plan. Martin V., by making agreements with the nations separately, found means to defeat all attempts after any thing that might deserve the name of a general and effectual reformation.-But though this new pontiff seemed reluctant and dilatory in correcting abuses, he foon discovered a disposition sufficiently active in fupporting his own authority.
He persecuted the Hussites inost vigorously.-These were divided into two bodies, the Calixtines *, who differed from the church of Rome only in the affair of the new communion in both kinds; and the Taborites mentioned above, who are thought to have much resembled the Waldenses. A greater encomium, the circumstances of those times being fully considered, could scarcely be passed upon them. But, it is difficult to reconcile this encomium with the accounts of their military ferocity. Most probably, wheat was mixed with the tares; and while one part of the people lived the life of “ the faith of the Son of Godt," the other could produce few marks of zeal in the cause of religion, except those, which were of a bloody and violent kind.
Under the auspices of the council of Constance paganism was extirpated in Samogitia by the king of Poland. Historical justice required that this fact should be mentioned :-yet, I know no evidences of real conversion among the Samogitians; but, the very introduction of christian formalities among idolaters, ought to be esteemed, on the whole, a considerable advantage to a nation.
This celebrated council, which began to sit A. D. in 1414, was dissolved in 1418.
If the materials of evangelical bistory appear by no means in quantity proportioned to the length of this chapter, the importance of the falutary lessons, connected with the information it contains, may be thought a sufficient apology for the defect. A great effort was made by the united wisdom of Europe, but in vain, to effect that reforination, which God alone
in * From calix the cup.
+ Gal. xi. 25. Vol. IV.
in his own time produced in such a manner, as to illustrate the divine declaration, namely, Salvation is * * not by power, but by my Spirit, faith the Lord of hofts."
CH A P.
THE HUSSITES TILL THE BEGINNING OF THE
E have seen with what indignation the
Bohemians heard of the murder of John Huss and Jerom of Prague. To this cause historians ascribe the commencement of the Hussite war, which was carried on by the enraged Bohemians for three years under the famous Zisca, and for ten years after his death.
The historian of the church of Christ withdraws from a scene, crowded with almost incredible victories over the emperor, and with inhuman cruelties on both sides. - The main body of the discontented Bohemians were at length satisfied with the liberty of the cùp in the facrament, and with the administration of the ordinance in their own language. These points, after the effusion of a deluge of blood, were given up by the papal party in the year 1433, and a treaty of peace was made, of A. D. which these formed the basis. In other respects, 1433. the Calixtines resembled the papists, by whose artifices they were induced even to perfecute the genuine followers of Huss. These last mentioned, the true Huffites, besides the scriptural celebration of the sacrament, desired to see a real reformation of the church, and the establishment of purity of doctrine and discipline. But, after a long series of military confusion, they found themselves still a persecuted body of men; and