صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

before the authority and opinions of fallible men. It would be equally rash and absurd to represent this great man as exempt from error and free from infirmities and defects; yet, if we except the contagious effects of the age in which he lived, and of the religion in which he had been brought up, we shall, perhaps, find but a few things in his character that render him liable to reproach [m]."

Dr. Mosheim has taken no notice of the calumnies invented and propagated by some late authors, in order to make Luther's zealous opposition to the publication of indulgences appear to be the effi ct of selfih and ignoble motives. His ingenious Translator, however, has, in a very judicious manner, set this matter in rue light; not that the cause of the Reformation, he says, (which muit stand by its own intrinsic dignity, and is, in no way, affected by the views or characters of its inftruments) can derive any ftrength from this enquiry, but as it may tend to vindicate the personal character of a man, who has done eminent service to the cause of religion.

• Mr. Hume, says Mr. Maclaine, in his History of the Reign of Henry VII. has thought proper to repeat what the enemies of the Reformation, and some of its dubious or ill.informed friends, have advanced with respect to the motives that engaged Luther to oppose the doctrine of indulgences. This elegant and persuasive historian tells us, that the Austin friars had usually been employed in Suxony to preach indulgences, and from this truft had derived both proît and consideration; that Arçemboldi gave this occupation to the Dominicans * ; that Martin Luther, an Auffin friar, professor in the univerfi y of Wittemberg, resenting the affront put up n his Order, began to preach against the abuses that were committed in the sale of indulgences, and, being provoked by opposition, proceedid even to decry indulgences themselves t. It were to be wilhed, that Mr. Hume's candor had engaged him to examine this accusation better, before he had determined to repeat it, For, in the first place, it is not true, that the Austin friars had been ulually employed in Saxony to preach indulgences. It is well known, that that commision had been offered alternately, and sometimes jointly to all the Mendicants, whether Austin friars, Dominicans, Franciscans, or Carmelites. Nay, from the year 1229, thai lucrative commission was principally intrusted with

persualiresi sony to preach induize that Arçemboldi gave, lin friar,

' [m] The writers, who have given any circumstantial account of Luther, and his transactions, are accurately enumerated by Jo. Alb. Fabricius, in his Centifolium Lutheranum, the first part of which was published at Hamburg in the year 1728, and the second in 1730, in 8vo.'

« * Hume's History of England, under the House of Tudor, vol. i. p. 119. $ Id. Ib. p. 130,

the

the Dominicans *; and in the records, which relate to indula gences, we rarely meet with the name of an Austin friar, and not one single act by which it appears that the Roman pontif ever Damed the friars of that order to the office under consideration. More particularly it is remarkable, that, for half a century before Luther (i. e. from 1450 to 1517) during which periods in, dulgences were sold with the most scandalous marks of avaritious extortion and impudence, we scarcely meet with the name of an Austin friar employed in that service ; if we except a monk, named Palzius, who was no more than an underling of the papal questor Raymond Peraldus ; so far is it from being true, that the Augustine order were exclusively, or even usually, employed in that service t. Mr. Hume has built his assertion upon the sole authority of a single expression of Paul Sarpi, which has been abundantly refuted by De Priero, Pallavicini, and Graveson, the mortal enemies of Luther. But it may be alledged, that, even supposing it was not usual to employ the Auguftin friars alone in the propagation of indulgences, yet Luther might be offended at seeing such an important commission given to the Dominicans exclusively, and that, consequently, this was his motive in opposing the propagation of indulgences. To thew the injustice of this allegation, I observe, .

. Secondly, That in the time of Luther, the preaching of indulgences was become such an odious and unpopular matter, that it is far from being probable, that Luther would have been sollicitous about obtaining such a commission either for himself or for his order. The princes of Europe, with many bishops, and multitudes of learned and pious men, had opened their eyes upon the turpitude of this infamous traffic ; and even the Franciscans and Dominicans, towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, opposed it publicly, both in their discourses and in their writings I. Nay more, the very commission which is supposed to have excited the envy of Luther, was offered by Leo to the general of the Franciscans, and was refused both by him and his order ||, who gave it over entirely to Albert bishop of Mentz and Magdeburg. Is it then to be imagined, that either Luther or the other Austin friars aspired after a commission of which the Franciscans were ashamed? Besides, it is a mistake to affirm, that this office was given to the Dominicans in general ;

« • See Weismanni Memorabilia Hiftoriæ Sacræ N, T. p. 1051, 1115

o't Happii Dissertat. de Nonnullis Indulgentiarum, Sæc, xiv. et xv, Quæforibus, p. 384. 387. : . I See Walch. Opp. Luther, tom. xv. p. 114. 283. 212. 349.Seckendorf. Hift. Lutheranismi, lib. i. Sect. vi. p. 13. !! Waich, loc. cit. p. 371,

fince it was given to Tetzel alone, an individual member of that order, who had been notorious for his profligacy, barbarity, and extortion. vo. But that neither resentment nor envy were the motives that led Luther to oppose the doctrine and publication of indulgences will appear with the utmost evidence, if we consider in the third place, That he was never accused of any such motives either in the edicts of the pontifs of his time, or amidst the other reproaches of the cồntemporary writers, who defended the cause of Rome, and who were far from being sparing of their invectives and calumnies. All the contemporary adverfaries of Luther are absolutely silent on this head. From the year 1517 to 1546, when the dispute about indulgences was carried on with the greatest warmth and animosity, not one writer ever ventured to reproach Luther with these ignoble motives of opposition now under consideration. I speak not of Erasmus, Sleidan, De Thou, Guiccardini, and others, whose testimony might be perhaps fúspected of partiality in his favour; but I speak of Cajetan, Hogftrat, De Prierio, Emser, and even the infamous John Tetzel, whom Luther opposed with such vehemence and bitternefs. Even the lying Cochlæus was silent on this head during the life of Luther; though, after the death of that great reformer, he broached the calumny I am here refuting. But fuch was the fcandalous character of this man, who was notorious for fraud, calumny, lying, and their fifter-vices *, that Pallavicini, Bof fuet, and other enemies of Luther were ashamed to make ofe either of his name or testimony. Now, may it not be fairly prefumed, that the contemporaries of Luther were better judges of his character and the principles from which he acted, than those who lived in after-times? Can it be imagined, that motives to action, which escaped the prying eyes of Luther's contemporaries, should have discovered themselves to us who live at such a distance of time from the scene of action, to M. Bossuet, to M. Hume, and to other abettors of this ill-contrived and foolish ftory? Either there are no rules of moral evidence, or Mr. Hume's assertion is entirely groundless. . 16.1 might add many other confiderations to thew the unreafonableness of suppofing that Luther expofed himfelf to the rage of the Roman pontif, to the persecutions of ani exasperated clergy, to the severity of such a potent and despotic prince as Charles V, to death itself, and that from a principle of avarice and ambition. But I have said enough to satisfy every candid niind.' As Dr. Mosheim has not given so circumstantial an account

Sleidan, De Statu Rel. et Reip. in Dedic. Epift. ad Auguft. Elector.'

of

Charly to them Pontif, that Lomlideratio

has made theeader will be mentio

of the conferences between Miltitz and Luther as they deserve, Mr. Maclaine has made the following addition to his author's work, which the curious Reader will be pleased with

. It was sufficient, says he, barely to mention the measures taken by Cajetan to draw Luther anew under the papal yoke; because thele measures were, indeed, nothing more than the wild suggestions of superstition and tyranny, maintained and avowed with the most frontless impudence. A man, who began by commanding the reformer to renounce his errors, to believe, and that upon the dictates of mere authority, that one drop of Christ's blood, being sufficient to redeem the whole human race, the rea maining quantity, that was fhed in the garden and upon the cross, was left as a legacy to the church, to be a treasure from whence indulgences were to be drawn and administered by the Roman pontifs »). Such a man was not to be reasoned with. But Miltitz, proceeded in quite another manner, and his conferences with the Saxon Res former are worthy of attention. He was ordered, indeed, to dea mand of the elector, that he would either oblige Luther to renounce the doctrines he had hitherto maintained, or, that he would withdraw from him his protection and favour. But per ceiving, that he was received by the elector with a degree of coldness that bordered upon contempt, and that Luther's credit and cause were too far advanced to be destroyed by the efforts of mere authority, he had recourse to gentler methods. He loaded Tetzel with the bitterest reproaches, on account of the irregular and fuperftitious means he had employed for promoting the sale of indulgences, and attributed to this miserable wretch all the abuses that Luther had complained of. Tetzei, on the other ħand, burthened with the iniquities of Rome, tormented with a consciousness of his own injustice and extortions, ftung with the opprobrious censures of the new legate, and seeing himself equally despised and abhorred by both parties, died of grief and despair [y]. This incendiary, being facrificed as a victim to cover the Roman pontif from reproach, Miltitz entered into a particular conversation with Luther, at Altenburg, and, without pretending to justify the scandalous traffic in question, required only, that he would acknowledge the four following things : A, That the people had been seduced by false notions of in

• [(x) Such, among others, fill more absurd, were the expressions of Cajetan, which he borrowed from one of the Decretals of Clement VI, called (and that juftly for more than one reason) Extravagants.]

[(y) Luther was so affected by the agonies of despair under which Tetzel laboured, that he wrote him a pathetic leiter of confolation, which, however, produced no effect. His infamy was perpetuated by a pi&ture, placed in the church of Pirma, in which he is represented fisting on an ass, and selling indulgences.]

dulgences : dulgences : 2dly, That he (Luther) had been the cause of that feduction, by representing indulgences as much more heinous than they really were : 3dly, That the odious conduct of Tetzel alone, had given occasion to these representations : and 4thly, That, though the avarice of Albert, archbishop of Metz, had set on Tetzel, yet, that this rapacious tax-gatherer had exceeded by far the bounds of his commission." These proposals were accompanied with many soothing words, with pompous encomiums on Luther's character, capacity, and talents, and with the softest and most pathetic expoftulations in favour of union and concord in an afflicted and divided church; all which Miltitz joined together with the greatest dexterity and address in order to touch and disarm the Saxon Resormer. Nor were his mild and insinuating methods of negociating without effect; and it was upon this occafion that Luther made submission: which Thewed that his views were not, as yet, very extensive, his former prejudices entirely dispelled; or his reforming principles steddily fixed. For he not only offered to observe a profound Gilence for the future with respect to indulgences, provided the fame condition were imposed on his adversaries; he went much farther; he proposed writing an humble and submissive letter to the pope, acknowledging that he has carried his zeal and animosity too far; and such a letter he wrote some time after the conference at Altenburg [2]. He even consented to publish a circular letter, exhorting all his disciples and followers to reverence and obey the dictates of the holy Roman church. He declared, thạt his only intention in the writings he had composed, was to brand with infamy those emissaries, who abused its authority, and employed its protection as a mask to cover their abominable and impious frauds. It is true, indeed, that amidst those weak submiffions which the impartial demands of historical truth obligeth us to relate, there was, properly speaking, no retractation of his former tenets, nor the smallest degree of refpe&t Mewn to the infamous traffic of indulgences. Nevertheless, the pretended majesty of the Roman church, and the authority of the Roman pontif, were treated by Luther in this transaction and in his letter to Leo, in a manner that could not naturally have been expected from a man who had already appealed from the pope to a general council. :. Had the court of Rome been prudent enough to have ac, cepted of the submission made by Luther, they would have almost nipped, in the bud, the cause of the reformation, or would, at leaft, have confiderably retarded its growth and progress. Having gained over the head, the members would, with great fa

· [(z) This letter was dated the 13th of March, 1519, about ewa months after the conference of Altenburg]

cility,

« السابقةمتابعة »