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hierarchy ever found the least fault with Tetzel as exceeding bis commission, till an opposition was openly made to the practice of indulgences. Whence it is evident, that the protestants have not unjustly censured the corruptions of the court of Rome in this respect. Leo is declared to have granted, immediately and without hesitation*, the profits of the indulgences collected in Saxony and the neighbouring countries as far as the Baltic, to his filter the wife of prince Cibus, by way of gratitude for personal favors which he had received from the family of the Cibi. The indulgences were farmed to the best bidders, and the undertakers employed such deputies to carry on the traffic, as they thought most likely to promote their lucrative views. The inferior officers concerned in this commerce were daily feen of in public houses, enjoying themselves in riot and voluptuousness : In fine, whatever the greatest enemy
popery could have wished, was at that time exhibited with the most undisguised impudence and temerity, as if on purpose to render that wicked ecclesiastical system infamous before all mankind.
Indulgences were granted also at this time on many PARTICULAR occasions. The consecrated Host had been loft at the parish church at Schiniedeberg in the diocese of Misnia: in consequence of which, the pastor had excommunicated the deacon and the porter of the church. These men, whom the superstition of the times had made culprits, had however recourse to the generosity of Tetzel, who was in the neighbourhood, and who furnished them with a diploma of absolution. The prices of these indulgences were accommodated to the various circumstances of petitioners; and thus a
plan Maimbourg, p. 11. + ld. p. 12. Seckend. p. 15.
plan was formed and was successfully carrying into execution, which would infallibly lay all orders of men under contribution. The prodigious sale of indulgences evinces both the profound ignorance of the age, and also the power of superstitious fears, with which the consciences of men were then diftressed. This however was the very fituation of things, which opened the way for the reception of the Gospel.. But who was to proclaim the Gospel in its native beauty and simplicity ? To give a fatisfactory answer to this question was no easy matter. The princes, the bishops, and the learned men of the times, faw all this scandalous traffic respecting the pardon of fins, but none was found who possessed the knowledge, the courage, and the honesty, necessary to detect the fraud, and to lay open to mankind the true doctrine of salvation by the remission of fins through Jesus Christ. But at length an obscure pastor appeared, who alone and without help, began to erect the standard of sound religion. No man who believes that “ The preparation of the heart is from the Lord,” will doubt whether Martin Luther, in this great undertaking, was moved by the Spirit of God. - This extraordinary person, at that time an Augustine monk, was professor or lecturer of the university of Wittenberg in Saxony. That Academy was at once a college of students and a society of monks. Frederic the Wise, elector of Saxony, ardently desirous of promoting literary knowledge, had added the former character to the latter, and always shewed a steady regard to Luther, on account of his skill and industry in advancing the reputation of that infant feminary of knowledge, which then was very low and abject both in its revenues and its exterior appearance. Luther preached also from time to
time, and heard confessions*. In the memorable A. D. year 1517, it happened, that certain persons, re1517: peating their confessions before him, and owning
themselves to be atrocious offenders, yer refused to comply with the penances which he enjoined them, because they said they were pofseffed of diplomas of indulgences. Luther was struck with the evident absurdity of such conduct, and ventured to refuse them absolution. The persons thus rejected, complained loudly to Tetzel, who was preaching in a town at no great distance. The Dominican Inquisitor had not been accustomed to contradiction. He stormed, and frowned, and menaced every one, who dared to oppose him; and sometimes he ora dered a pile of wood to be constructed and set on fire for the purpose of striking terror into the minds of heretics. Luther was at that time only thirtyfour years old, vigorous both in mind and body, fresh from the schools, and fervent in the Scriptures.
He saw crowds flock to Wittemberg and the neighbouring towns to purchase indulgences, and having no clear idea of the nature of that traffic, yet fensible of the obvious evils with which it must be attended, he began to signify, in a gentle manner, from the pulpit, that the people might be better employed than in running from place to place to procure INDULGENCEs. So cautiously did this great man begin a work, the consequence of which he then fo little foresaw. He did not fo much as know at that time, who were the receivers of the money.
In proof of this, we find he wrote to Albert, arch-bishop of Mentz, who, he understood, had appointed Tetzel to this employment, but with whose personal concern in the gains he was then unacquainted, intreating him to withdraw the licence of Tetzel, and expressing his fears of the evils which would attend the sale of Indulgences. He sent him likewise certain theses which he had drawn up in the form of queries concerning this subject. He expressed bimself with the greatest caution and modetty. In fact, he faw enough to alarm a tender conscience, but he knew not well where to fix the blame. He was not, as yet, fully satisfied in his own mind either as to the extent of the growing mischief, or the precise nature of its cause. In this state of doubt and anxiety, he wrote also to other bishops, and particularly to his own diocesan the bishop of Brandenburg*, with whom he was a particular favourite.
the + See p. 288, of this Vol.
Seckend, p. 17.
Nothing can be more orderly, candid, and open, than this conduct of our reformert Zeal and charity were here united with the most perfect regard to ecclefiaftical discipline. The bishop of Brandenburg reverenced the integrity of Luther, while he was aware of the dangerous ground on which he was advancing. “ You will oppose the church," he replied, “ you cannot think in what troubles you will involve yourself; you had much better be ftill and quiet.” This was not a language calculated to repress the firm and intrepid spirit of the Saxon monk; for, though by no means as yet a competent master of the points in debate, he saw they were of too great magnitude for a con. scientious paftor to pass them by unnoticed: He knew too the manners of lower life, and could judge, far better than the bishops in general could do, of the mischievous consequences, which were to be apprehended. With deliberate steadiness he ven. tured therefore to persevere; and having tried in vain to procure the concurrence of the dignitaries of the church, he published his theses, ninety-five in number; and in fifteen days they were spread throughout Germany. Their effect on the minds of men was rapid and powerful, though Tetzel by threats, had filenced some pastors who had faintly opposed him, and though bishops and doctors, through fear of the flames, remained perfectly silent.
faw . Id. p. 16.
+ Du Pin, in conjunction with all the Roman catholic wri. ters, asserts that Luther's zèal for the interest of his own order, led him to oppose the doctrine of indulgences. The best refutation of this calumny is to be derived from a fair statement of facts. It has been said likewise, that Staupitius, the vicar general of Luther's order of monks, and that the elector of Saxony, stimulated Luther to commence his opposition. But there is no where to be found the smallest proof of these assertions. The love of truth itself appears from his whole conduct to have influenced his measures, and the story needs only to be fairly told, in order to convince any candid person, that this was the case.
“Thus,” says Luther,- for much of the foregoing account is taken from his own words,-“I was commended as an excellent doctor, who, alone had ' the spirit to attempt so great an undertaking; but the fame, which I had acquired was by no means agreeable to my mind; because I had then some doubts concerning the nature of indulgences, and because I feared that the task was beyond my powers and capacity* .”
But the real motives of Luther will be discovered in the sureft manner by a brief review of the manners and spirit of the man, previous to his open
declarations respecting indulgences. This Saxon A. D. reformer was born in the year 1483 at Ifleben, a 1483. town belonging to the county of Mansfield. His
father wrought in the mines of Mansfield which were at that time very famous; and, after the birth of his son Martin Luther, removed to that town, became a proprietor in the mines, discharged public offices there, and was esteemed by all men for his integrity. He gave a very liberal education to