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instruments for her subtle wisdom, " to take the wise in their own crastiness ;” at the same time, the begging and preaching friars were admirable instruments “ to crouch and lie down, and draw the poor into the net.” But with the philosophy of the schools, a worse poison was now introduced, and scattered far and wide by the new missionaries, which reduced to a still, lower ebb the little life that was left in the body of the Roman church. The doctrines of grace, as maintained by Augustin in the fifth century, had all along been a medicine of health to. some; and little real religion can be found in the Roman churches, but in connexion with the teaching of these doctrines, which, though but little felt and regarded, were till about this time, still, esteemed among many of the Roman Catholics, as of authority, and as orthodox.
But now the Pelagian doctrines were the fashionable divinity. “ Grace of congruity,” Dr. Mosheim observes, was in high repute; in other words, justification by men's own works was insisted on; and while some decent show of respect was shewn in words to the merits of Christ, the real meritorious objects on which men were taught to place their hope, were some performances by which they might, in a lower sense, deserve grace, and purchase the application of it to themselves. Thus, a religion prevailed, which accommodated all sorts of sinners. Those of a more decent cast were taught to expect the Divine favour by their own works, which deserved grace of congruity; and the most scandalous transgressors, by the doctrine of commutation of offences, might still obtain forgiveness; the exercise of munificence towards the hierarchy was sure to cover all crimes; the humble and contrite alone, who felt what sin is, and sighed for a remedy, found no relief to consciences which could not admit the delusive refreshments provided by the papacy.”
But the God of all grace will never excite a spiritual thirst for the waters of life, which he will not quench; if the priest's lips no longer retain knowledge, they are supplied from another
A few names, indeed, there are, and but a few, that from this era are to be found among the Catholics of Rome, claiming to be recorded in this part of our history. There appears one monarch of excellent character far above his contenporaries, Louis IX. of France, of whom good may be hoped"; and one sovereign pontiff, Celestine V., who, because he found
it impossible to reform, abdicated the papacy, and through the jealousy of his successor, died in prison.
Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, may be mentioned, who certainly retained some knowledge of the truth ; and after combating with an intrepid spirit, during his life, against the grosser abuses of the papacy, seemed, when near his death, almost to have discovered its true character. In allusion to the pope, he says: “ Christ came into the world to save souls ; ought not he, then, who takes pains to ruin souls, to be denominated Antichrist?" " Many popes have afflicted the church ; this Innocent has enslaved it more than they all.”
• The church can never be delivered from this Egyptian bondage, but by the edge of the sword.” And while he was scarcely able to speak for sighs and tears, his breath failed him.
But more especially may be mentioned Bradwardine, archbishop of Canterbury, in the fourteenth century', who, not many weeks after his consecration, was taken away from the evils which he deplored. He had been the confessor of Edward III., and was in high esteem with the king, whom he accompanied in his French wars.
“ He often preached before the army," and “ made it his business to calm and mitigate the fierceness of his master's temper, when he saw him either immoderately fired with warlike rage, or improperly flushed with the advantages of victory. He also often addressed the army; and with so much meekness and persuasive discretion, as to restrain them from those insolent excesses which are too frequently the attendants of military success 4.” His great work was, “ The Cause of God against Pelagius ;" an admirable performance,” says Mr. Milner, “ whether one considers the force of his genius, the solidity of his reasoning powers, or the energy of his devotion. In reviewing it, it gave me great satisfaction to observe that the Spirit of God had not forsaken the church ; but, on the contrary, in one of the darkest periods had raised up a defender of Divine truth, who might have done honour to the brightest. Abstracted from the spirit of the times in which he lived, Bradwardine gave himself up to the investigation of real Gospel truth.”
The following extract throws some light on the state of religion in the age in which he lived. “ As I was somewhat encouraged by the countenance of those who love the cause of God, so I own I am discouraged by the opposition of those who embrace the cause of Pelagius, who are, alas ! far more numerous: For behold, I speak it with real grief of heart, as formerly eight hundred and fifty prophets, with the addition of numbers of the populace without end, were united against one prophet of the Lord, so, at this day, how many, O Lord, contend for free-will against thy gratuitous grace, and against St. Paul, the spiritual champion of grace! How many, indeed, in our times, despise thy saving grace; and maintain that free-will suffices for salvation! or if they use the term grace, how do they boast that they deserve it by the strength of free-will; so that grace in their eyes appears to be sold at a price, and not freely conferred from above! How many, presuming on the power of their own freewill, refuse thy influence in their operations, saying, with the ungodly, Depart from us! How many, extolling the liberty of their own will, refuse thy service; or if with their lips they own that thou co-operatest with them, how do they, like the proud disobedient angels of old, who hated thee, refuse that thou shouldest reign over them! Nay, prouder than Satan, and not content to esteem themselves thy equals, they most arrogantly boast that they reign above thee, the King of kings! For they fear not to maintain that their own will in common actions goes before as mistress, that thine follows as a handmaid ; that they go before as lords, that thou followest as a servant ; that they as kings command, and that thou as a subject obeyest! How many support Pelagianism with clamour, raillery, and derision! Almost the whole world is gone after Pelagius into error. Arise, O Lord, judge thine own cause,” &c.
I A.D. 1296. ? A.D. 1253.
3 AD. 1319.
Sir Ilenry Savile, in Milner.
He largely refutes the error, more famous than any other in his day, that men by their works deserve grace of congruity.
• By this it is,” says he, “ that men rush headlong into Pelagianism : not content with gratuitous grace, men would have grace to be sold by God, though at a very cheap rate.”
Why do we fear to preach the doctrine of the predestination of saints and of the genuine grace of God? Is there any cause to dread lest man should be induced to despair of his condition, when his hope is demonstrated to be founded on God alone? Is there not much stronger reason for him to despair, if, in pride and unbelief, he founds his hope of salvation on himself ?”
Bradwardine was indeed a light shining in a dark place; and we behold, through the light afforded for a moment, the imagery of papal darkness, which it was not given to him to enlighten. But though his lamp was so soon extinguisher, it pleased God
to light it again in a more humble station, and by his own power to make it more permanent in England, by the ministry of Wickliff, as we shall see in the following chapter.
But down to the Reformation itself, there wanted not some in the Roman communion, who, unconnected with the Reformers, knew and published the truth. Thomas Rhedon, a Frenchman, and Carmelite friar, was burnt at Rome, for his zealous preaching against her abominations. Savanarola, an Italian monk, with two friars, Dominic and Silvester, were accused, in explicit terms, of having preached the doctrine“ of free justification through faith in Christ.” Persevering in what was called an obstinate heresy, they were degraded, and delivered to the secular power at Florence, and burnt to death.
Thomas à Kempis, Vincent Ferrer, John de Wesalia, who was condemned to perpetual penance, especially John Wesselus, of Groningen, are recorded in Mr. Milner's larger history. The last, who died in 1489, he says, has been justly called the forerunner of Luther. That great reformer was so astonished when he first met with some pieces of the composition of Wesselus, that in the Leipsic edition of 1522, he wrote a preface to the work, in which he says, “ By the wonderful providence of God, I have been compelled to become a public man, and to fight battles with these monsters of indulgences and papal decrees. All along I supposed myself to stand alone;" — “but, behold! I am told that, even in these days, there is a secret remnant of the people of God. Nay, I am not only told so, but I rejoice to see a proof of it; here is a new publication of Wesselus of Gropingen, a man of an admirable genius, and of an uncommonly enlarged mind. It is very plain that he was taught of God, as Isaiah prophesied that Christians should be; and as in my own case, so with him, it cannot be supposed that he received his doctrines from men. If I had read his works before, my enemies might have supposed that I had learned everything from Wesselus ; such a perfect coincidence there is in our opinions. As to myself, I not only derive pleasure, but strength and courage from this publication. It is now impossible for me to doubt whether I am right in the points which I have inculcated, when I see so entire an agreement in sentiment, and almost the same words used by this eminent person, who lived in a different
age, in a distant country, and in circumstances very unlike my own. I am surprised that this excellent Christian writer should be so
kittle known. The reason may be, either that he lived without blood and contention (for this is the only thing in which he differs from me); or perhaps the Jews of our times have suppressed his writings as heretical.”
THE REFORMERS FROM POPERY WHO APPEARED PREVIOUSLY
TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.—THE WALDENSES—THE
After tracing the evidences which history affords of the existence of a remnant according to the election of grace, during this long period of a thousand years, in the midst of the apostate church itself, our attention is next demanded for those individuals or classes of men, whom the catholics of Rome called heretics ; but who may appear to us, perhaps, to have worshipped the God of their fathers, uncontaminated with the abominable 'idolatries of Rome, and to have borne a more clear and decided testimony against the mystery of iniquity, now triumphant in the visible church.
If we admit that many, far more than history knows any thing about, were the objects of Divine pity and compassion, and, in the midst of Catholic conformity, were rebuked and purified by the chastening hand of God, — they, as individuals, were saved as brands plucked from the burning, suffering the loss of all their labours; for the effect of their labours as were completely subservient to Rome- was but to erect wood, and hay, and stubble, upon the foundation which, by the miracle of Divine grace, they held. As public characters, they cannot, in general, be reckoned on the side of the Gospel ; nay, some of them, in their ignorance, aided in the erecting of that abomination which made the church desolate. For the faithful witnesses of the truth, who bore a public testimony profitable to its cause, and rescued souls from the captivity of these damnable delusions, we are compelled to look to those despised and persecuted classes of men, whose names were cast out as evil, and whom the world could not love, because their spirit was stirred up within them, to testify of it that its deeds were evil.
In pursuing our researches among these sectaries, a very great difficulty occurs, which every one who is at all acquainted with the subject, will be ready to acknowledge and appreciate. We have no account of the opinions and sentiments of these people,