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putrifying sores." So the prophet denounced the church and court of Jerusalem; and Rome was not more pure.'
The friends of real Christianity, which, under present circumstances, necessarily implied substantial and considerable reformation, had little to expect from the ascetic and superstitious virtues of Adrian; and his early removal, whether natural or not, put a termination to all hopes or fears respecting his personal performances in the purification of his church.' pp. 6-9.
In the mean time, the Protestant Reformation lost no ground; and the importunate demands for a reform of some kind within the Church, compelled the new Pope, Paul III., after summoning council to meet at Mantua, to which he cited the excommunicated King of England, to issue a commission for the purpose of examining into the abuses of the Papal court. The Commissioners were Cardinals Contarino, Sadoleto, Carafa, (afterwards Paul IV.,) and Polo (or Pole). Their report was printed in the ensuing year at Rome, under the title: "Consilium Delectorum Cardinalium et aliorum Prælatorum, de emendanda Ecclesia, S. D. N. D. Paulo Tertio ipso jubente conscriptum, et exhibitum Anno M.D.XXXVIII." Mr. Mendham has given an abstract of this penitential and self-condemnatory document,' which Carafa, one of its authors, when raised to the pontificate, actually placed in the Index of prohibited books! Paul III., however, was disposed to take the matter of the report into consideration; but, on consulting his Cardinals, he was told, that it was not the proper time, as such an act would give occasion of triumph to the Lutherans.
After two prorogations, the pontiff published a bull to assemble the council at Vicenza, in the Venetian territory, on the 1st of May, 1537; and even sent three legates to open it in the following year. Against this new announcement and location of a council, the king of England published a fresh protestation, dated April 8, 1538. The pope suspended the meeting on the 10th of June, 1539.
In the mean time, imperial diets were being held; which produced great terror in Rome, lest the temporal sovereigns should take the matter of reformation into their own hands, and assume to themselves the office, which the bishop of Rome regarded as exclusively his own, of interfering with, and regulating, affairs of religion. Between this terror and the antagonist one of being necessitated to call a council, which, if it effected any true and adequate reformation in doctrine or discipline, would bring certain destruction to the whole system of the papacy, the mind of its sovereign was distracted; and the dilemma produced all those vacillating, but almost uniformly corrupt, measures, by which, throughout, the Synod of Trent was characterized.'
'The reader will hereafter discover that it was the main point with Rome, to establish doctrine precisely to such an effect as to crush heresy; that is, the supposed existing form of it at the time, the Lu
theran; and the main point of the Emperor was, to let the former rest, and enforce reformation. But reformation was the great dread of the Papacy; and we shall trace the contrivance and intrigues of that power to evade or avoid it.' pp. 14, 15; 29.
These extracts from Mr. Mendham's Introduction, will, we think, render our readers desirous of perusing his Memoirs of the Council itself, which exhibit a laborious collation of all the contemporary documents that throw light upon its proceedings. The Bull of Indiction for the meeting of the council is dated May 22d, 1542; and summoned the council to meet at Trent on the 1st of November following; but this bull, which is prefixed to every edition of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, was suspended in July 1543; and a new bull was issued, summoning the council for March 15th, 1545. The council was not actually opened, however, till December 13th of that year, being the third Sunday in Advent, in the 12th year of the Pontificate of Paul III. After being continued, from time to time, during eighteen years, it was at last terminated with indecorous precipitation. The French Cardinal (Lorraine) urged a speedy close of the council from the necessities of France; and be'cause it had been determined in a meeting of the king and the 'states, that, if the council did not terminate, a national council 'should be called, the evils of which might easily be anticipated.' His argument was enforced by the illness of the Pope, and the dangers which might be apprehended from his death, or that of the Emperor, while the Council was still existing.
On the 3d of December, at an early hour, the twenty-fifth and concluding session of the council commenced, and the decrees were published with almost universal consent. The legates, although determined upon closing the council, yet finding it impossible to get through all the business which they had before them, published from the pulpit, that the session would be continued and finished on the next day. After divine service, the legates employed themselves at home in preparing for the transactions of the morrow, and every thing was completed. Among the preparations was the decree of indulgences, to any definition of which Morone was averse, partly because he doubted whether it would not give an occasion of disputation and of protracting matters, and partly thinking it better that so important a subject, presenting so many points of controversy, should be entirely omitted, than that it should be slightly treated. The cardinal of Lorraine, however, with many other prelates, was anxious that some mention should be made of indulgences, lest the error of the heretics should be more confirmed, if they should see that nothing was done about them; and likewise, because this very omission alone might easily be made a pretence for convoking a fresh council. Therefore, on that very night, a decree concerning indulgences was composed; and early the next morning, before the church was opened, the
ambassadors and very many of the prelates were called together, and before them were read all the decrees which were to be promulgated in the session, together with this of indulgences, respecting which, openly and before all, cardinal Morone professed that he was not satisfied that any thing should be defined. Lorraine, however, Madruccio, all the ambassadors, and other prelates, replied and expressed their approbation of the form then delivered. There were, however, withdrawn from it some words, which expressly prohibited the paying of any certain sum of money for indulgences, not even when what are called suspensions are given; and these words were withdrawn in favour of the count de Luna, because they appeared to be industriously selected to designate the Spanish cruzada.
On the 4th of December the session was concluded, and at the same time an end was put to the council. There were promulgated on it the following decrees-of Indulgences, of choice of food, of an Index of books, and of a Catechism. We may add, from Servantio, and, indeed, from the decrees themselves, the reformation of the Breviary and Missal. Afterwards were read all the decrees relative to faith, published under Paul III. and Julius III. Assent was then given by the fathers to the question whether they were pleased that the council should close, and the confirmation of it by his holiness be requested; and the chief president dismissed them in peace. The cardinal of Lorraine, justly enough denominated, the French pope, led the concluding acclamations, which ended with three anathemas, which were probably multiplied into three times three, loud and deep.'
After referring to Mr. Charles Butler's panegyric upon this iniquitous Council, Mr. Mendham thus concludes his narrative.
'We are content with the more sober and historical statements to be found in the authorities which have been mainly and almost exclusively cited in the preceding memoirs. And when the reader has perused the testimony of eye-witnesses and parties, of leaders themselves, unexceptionable, and even favourable to their subject as they are, let him honestly say, (without denying considerable exception, but smothered and quenched,) whether, in the whole compass of history, any legislative assembly, the furthest possible remote from religion of any kind or degree, can be pointed out, in which more of exclusively secular motives and objects, more interested policy, more immoral and dishonourable intrigue, more flagrant injustice towards the party devoted to suppression, and more violent and indecorous internal contention were exhibited, than in this professedly religious convocation of all the spiritual wisdom and piety of Christendom, arrogating to itself the peculiar direction of the Holy Spirit, and undertaking to enact and issue laws, both for the defence and guidance of the universal church, and for the correction or condemnation of its enemies.'
The Protestant public are much indebted to the Author of this volume, for the laborious pains which he has taken to illustrate a
most important chapter of modern ecclesiastical history *. The canons and decrees of this Council still exercise a binding authority over the Roman Catholic world, from which it can be relieved only by the decisions of another general council, repealing the ecclesiastical laws then agreed upon, by an equal authority. A distinction, however, is made by the Catholics themselves, and therefore ought to be kept in view by Protestants, between the decrees of councils defining articles of faith, and those which regard discipline and matters of civil polity. A great portion of the laws of this description enacted by the Council of Trent, have never been generally received. While Spain admitted them entire, France rejected them altogether. For instance, the Council decreed, that the field wherein a duel is fought, shall be forfeited by the owner; a salutary but wholly abortive enactment, which never took effect even in Spain or Belgium.
It has been maintained by high Romish authorities, that not 'all things which are even absolutely and simply affirmed in 'councils are decrees of faith,' but only those, the denial of which is adjudged to be heresy, and anathematized †. Dr. Doyle remarks, that the canon of the Council of Trent, re-enacting Confession to the Priest, innovated upon the old custom, by removing the obligation which the Church law before imposed, of more frequent confession, and limiting its observance to once at least in each year. This canon relaxed the ancient discipline'; and 'it 'is very possible,' he adds, that if a general council were assembled in our days, it might repeal the ecclesiastical law alto'gether, and leave the Divine law alone to operate upon the 'consciences of men.' In our controversy with the Romanists, it is both just and necessary to distinguish between the legislative acts and the dogmatic decisions of their Church; more especially when Episcopalians make a similar distinction between their own articles of faith and the canons and constitutions still unrepealed, though for the most part fallen into desuetude. After making every due and requisite distinction and allowance, enough remains in the received and acknowledged doctrines of the Romish Church, to justify, not hatred and persecution of its members, but the
* As a popular History of the Council of Trent, comprising a translation of its decrees, and a complete exposure of the imposture of the Papal religion by authorities the most unexceptionable, the most decisive, the most condemning,'-Mr. Mendham strongly recommends "The Text Book of Popery, by J. M. Cramp," 12mo. This honourable testimony to the merit of Mr. Cramp's volume, we transcribe with much pleasure, and regret that we have not before found an opportunity of referring our readers to the work.
+ See Doyle on the Catholic Claims, pp. 104-109. + Ib. pp. 261-264.
most uncompromising opposition to its insidious and perilous perversion of the Christian faith and institutions. But we shall never succeed in weaning the Roman Catholic from his errors, by imputing to him what he does not hold, or by confuting doctrines which he disclaims.
It is surely a great point gained, when, in their popular tracts, Roman Catholics sanction a direct appeal, although it be for the purpose of defending error, to the ultimate rule of faith,-the Holy Scriptures. It is true, that every Catholic will be apt to receive the gloss as of the same authority with the text, and to be confirmed in his opinions by false Scripture. But now that the Scriptures are becoming so generally accessible, it will be found more and more difficult to mislead and fetter the minds of the people by partial and erroneous citations, while sanctioning a deference to the paramount authority of the Word of God. "It is written," was an argument used by the Tempter. "It is written again," was the reply by which he was confounded. Popery, finding itself hard pressed, takes to the letter of Scripture as its stronghold. From this, its last retreat, it must be driven by the general prevalence of those sound principles of Biblical exegesis and criticism, which Protestants themselves have hitherto been slow to adopt, and before which other forms of error besides Popery are destined to give way.
We should be glad to see a refutation of the errors of Popery, that would fairly grapple with them on the ground chosen by the more respectable modern apologists for the Romish faith, and taking their doctrines according to their own shewing. Protestants have been accustomed to deal with Papists too much as political enemies; and, as Dr. Chalmers remarked of the Catholic disabilities, what were intended as a line of circumvallation 'around the strongholds of the Protestant faith, in effect have 'been a line of circumvallation around the strongholds of the Catholic faith.' The exactions and oppressions which the English and Irish Catholics have endured, have closed every avenue to the truth in their minds; and the theological reasons assigned for excluding them from political privileges, have served but to create political prejudices against theological verities. Among other erroneous opinions entertained respecting the Catholic religion, exposed by the Author of the Remarks', is that which relates to the supposed incompatibility of that religion with civil freedom. This notion is combated with considerable force; and our readers will at all events be pleased with the Writer's sound notions of religious liberty.
The Catholic religion does not in its tenets meddle with forms of Government, and it is unjust to charge it with being inimical to civil liberty. Sir Robert Filmer, in his Patriarcha, written in praise of absolute monarchy, directs all his arguments against Catholic writers,