« VorigeDoorgaan »
ed themselves headlong into all Vice, and all Flesh had
corrupted its Way.”
All these Testimonies which have been produc'd, are in general, and for the Substance of them, confirm’d by two of the greateft Advocates for the Roman Church, Bellarmine, and Barronius : Bellarmine says of this tenth Age, that (a)“ There was never any more ualearn“ ed, or more unhappy."
Barronius speaks more particularly, (b) “ What was u then the face of the Roman Church? How de-. « form’d? When Whores, no less powerfal chan vile, " bore the Chief Sway at Rome, and at their Pleasure, “ chang'a Sees, appointed Bifhops, and (which is terri" ble to mention) did thrust into St. Peter's See, their
own Gallants; false Popes, who wou'd not have been “ meotion’d in the Catalogue of the Roman Popes, but
only for the more distinct recording of so long a Suc« cession of Tiines." And a little after; “ Christ was: " then, it seems, in a very deep Sleep, and which was '" worse, when the Lord was thus afle:p, there were
no Disciples to awaken him, being them'elves all fast:
alleep.". What kind of Cardinals, Presbyters, and Deacons, can we think were chosen by these Monsters, when nothing is so natural, as for every one to propa. gate his own Likeness?
But it may be, this dismal State of the Roman Church: lalted but a little while; let us therefore enquire a little into the State of succeeding Times; and we find in the thirteenth Century, St. Bernard complaining, that the Degeneracy of the Priests was in his Days greater than eyer : (C) “ We cannot, says he, now fav, as is the People, “ fo is the Príeft; for the People are not so bad as the « Priests."
At this time the noble Emperor Henry, was poisond in the Sacrament, by Pope Clement the Fifth, as it is re
(a) De Rom. Pontif. Lib.4. Cap. 12. (b) A. Tom. 10.Anno 900. (ç) In Convers. Sandr Pauli. Ser. 1.
corded by Charion, in Supplemento Chronicorum, in Ravia. fius Texter, and others.
The like Record there is of poisoning Pope Vi&or the Third in the Chalice, which you may read in Martinus Polonius, the Pope's Penitentiary, Vollateranus, Mat. theus Palmerius, Supplimento Chronicorum, Fasciculus Temporum, Textor, and others.
In the fitteenth Century, Nic. de Clemangiis, who liv'd at that Tume, wrote a Book upon this Argument, of the corrupt State of the Church, he says, (a) ·
6. There “ was an universal Degeneracy in the Church, from the
very Head of it, to its lowest Members." In the lame Chapter, he complains thus, " Who is there that “ preaches the Gospel unto the People? Who fhew's « them the Way to Salvation, either by Word or Actie “ on?” Again, speaking of the Pope's taking to bimfelt the Collation of all vacant Bishopricks and Dignities, he says, (b) “ One might think that the Pope did this, u that the Church might be provided of worthier Go“ vernors, both in their Learning, and their Lives, did
not the Thing itselt declare the contrary; and that ig. norant and useless Perlons, (provided they had Money)
were by Simony advanc'd to the highest Degrees in the “ Church.”. And, speaking what a vast Number of Candidates there was usually at Rome from all Parts, waiting for Benefices, and Dignities, he tells us, that, (c) " Many of these did not come from their Studies,
or Schools of Learning to govern their Parishes, but " from the Plouh, and from the meanest Professions: "! And that they understood Latin, and Arabick, much " at the sam Rate; and many of tham cou'd not read “ at all. But it may be, says he, their Manners were “ such as might be some excule for their Ignorance. No, .“ tho' their Learning was but little, their Virtue was « less; for, being brought up in Idleness, they follow" ed nothing but Debauchery and Sports, ec. Hence it
comes to pass, that Priests are so contemned by the
(a) Cap. 3: (b) Cap. s. (c) Cap. 6.
common People: Formerly, the Priesthood was
highly honoured by the People, and nothing was more « venerable than that Order of Men ;- but now, nothing " is more vile and despicable.” Again, (a) “ I make
no doubt, fays be, but there are more Thieves and “ Robbers, than true Pastors in the Church.” Again, (b) Why shou'd any Man now flatter himselt with -6 Hopes of Preferment, because of his Virtue or Learn
ing Men do not now (as formerly) rise by such Arts. “ Which of these that are now advanced to the pontifi“ cal Dignity, hath so much as perfunctorily read, or “ heard, or learn'd the Scriptures ; yea, or even touch'd 6 any more than the cover of the Bible ? Again, speaking of the prodigious Covetouiness of the Governors of the Church, and the grofs Neglect of their Flacks, he says, (c) “ They wou'd much more con
tentedly bear the Loss of a thousand Souls, than of “ ten or twelve Shillings. But why do I say more “ contentedly? When, without the least Trouble or “ Disturbance to themselves, they can bear the Loss of of Souls; a Thing so far from their Care, that it never “ entered into their Thoughts." "He goes on, and tells us, that “ It perhaps there was any one who did not “ take those Courses, the Rest wou'd all snarl at him, call “ him Fool, and say, he was unfit to be a Priest; so that " the Study of the Scriptures, together with the Pro“ fessors of it, was turn'd into Laughter, and Scorn, by « all; but(which is prodigious) especially by the Popes, “ who prefer their own Traditions many Degrees before “ the Commands of God." Again, speaking of the Choice of Persons to be Priests, he tells us, that (d) ". There wis no Enquiry, made into their Lives, no
Question about their Manners: But for their Learning,
says he, what need I speak of that? When we see the “ Priests almost universally have much ado to read, tho' “ but in an helitating ard spelling Fashion, drawing out
(a) Cap. 9. (b) Cap. 11. (c) Cip. 14. (d) Cap. 16.
so one Syllable after another, without understanding ef4. ther the sense of what they read, or the Words (a). The Particulars of what he says concerning the com-mon Drunkennefs and Incontinency of Priests, who (because they make Conscience of Marriage) keep Whores in their Houses, concerning the diffolute Lives of Monks, and concerning. Nunneries; “ Which instead “ of being the Sanctuaries of God, were the
abominable “ Stews of Venus, and the Receptacles of, lascivious “ young Men, wou'd be too tedious to repeat.”. And to fhew that he does not speak these Things of a few, but with Relation to the general Corruption of that Age, be adds, that (b) “ Wickedness did fo abound in all Orders “.of. Men, that scarce one among a Thousand was to be " found, who did truly live up to his Proteflion : -And if " there was any one that did not follow these lewd “ Courses, he became ridiculous to others, and was “ branded either as an insolent, singular Madman, or an: * Hypocrite." This long Testimony shall be concluded with a Character which he gives of one of the Popes of his Time, Clement, by Name. He says, that (c) “ He * chiefly apply'd himself toʻgratify all the Parasites and “ Buftoons that had any Interest in the several Courts " of Princes; and to this End, did confer upon these, and upon handsome
young Boys, (which he much de. « lighted in) alınost all the vacant Bishopricks, and: k most of the other Church Dignitics."
If we-enquire into the Lives and Manners of the Priesthood nearer Home, we ihall find, by what King Alfred tells us, that (d)." In England there was not one : « Priest on the South-side of Thames, cou'd give the “ Meaning of the usual Service in English, and few on of the North of it, cou'd read it.”
It is recorded by Gulielmus Neubrigensis,(e) who lived in King Henry the Second's Time, that in that Reign,
(a) Cap. 21, 20, 23. (b) Cap, 25. (c) Cap: 27. (d) Ad Lib. Paftor. Gregorii. (e) Gul. Nanbri. Lib. 2.
there grew great Contests, touching the Prerogatives of the Clergy. This Author adds, that,
“ The Judges complained that there were many Robberies, and Rafes, « and Murtbers then committed within the Realm, by « ecclefiaftical Persons ; and therefore made Request ia • Parliament, that good Consideration might be had of “ it, for tho’ they themselves were temporal Minifters, " yet they had neither Law nor Jurisdiction to deal a
gainst the Clergy. As for the Bishops, says he, whose Duty it was to fee such Disorders corrected, of so ma
ny thousand wicked Priekts, they never degraded, nor “ punished so much as one. For they, says Neubrigenfis,
looking more carefully how to maintain the Dignity “ and Liperty of their Clergy, than the Correction of
their Manners, think they do good Service to God, os and to his Church, if they maintain’d wicked Priests, "/against the good Order of the common Weal, where
by, says he, it cometh to pass, that the Priests, that « Mou'd fine as Stars in the Heavens, having free Li
berty to do what they list, care neither for God, nor .66 for Man."
To this Effeet we might have produced many more Testimonies, if it was not universally acknowledged by 'the popish Writers, that the Devil had many hundred Years to play his Pranks in, before the Reformation.
Any one therefore, that will reflect on the dismal State of Religion in the Romish Church, and the monstrous Practices of the Roman Bishops, and their servile Clergy in those Ages, the strange Fates they play'd, and what Absurdities they impos'd upon the superstitious Credulity of Princes and People, may readily imagine, not only the Possibility, but the Eatinefs of innovating new Doctrines, as they thought proper, under the specious Pretence of Ant quity, and constant and uninterrupred Tradition.
Here we behold the Church in her declining State, when Knowledge being decay'd, Superstition usurp'a the Place of Zeal; and instead of the right Administration of the Sacraments, the Ido'arrous Mals, was by Piecemeal brought into the Churchs and the People, instead of the pure Milk of the Word, were entertaincd with feigned