Chapter IX – On the State of Intelligence and Piety
Although the Reformation of the sixteenth century has contributed in no small measure to develop all the nobler faculties of man, and thereby inaugurated a new phase of European civilization,* its primary effect was not propitious** to the cultivation of polite literature and gave no healthy impulse to the arts and sciences. The agitations, in the midst of which it flourished, interfered with the repose of students, or, converting some into ecclesiastical polemics, made them concentrate their chief attention on the primitive records of the Church, the Fathers, Councils, Canonists, and Historians. We accordingly meet with few, if any, classical scholars in the latter half of the century who proved themselves a match either in erudition or in elegance for giants like Erasmus, Ludovicus Vives, or Jean Budé (Budaeus). Italy itself, which formed the cradle where the literature of ancient Greece had been revived, could hardly boast of one Hellenist at the close of the present period.***
*[Few writers question the reality of this change; but Balmez, in his Protestantism and Catholicity compared, has laboured to establish that Europe suffered grievously even in its moral and social relations from the progress of theLutheran movement. His main positions are that European civilization had reached all the development that was possible for it before the rise of Protestantism; that Protestantism perverted the course of civilization, and so produced immense evils; and that all the progress, or apparent progress, which has since been effected, is made in spite of Protestantism.]
**[Döllinger (Die Reformation, I. 418 sq.) has consequently some reason on his side when he infers from evidence there collected, that the Reformation was not so exclusively the friend of literature as some have represented. “It is generally believed,” says Warton (Engl. Poetry, III. 13, ed. 1840), “that the reformation of religion in England, the most happy and important event in our annals, was immediately succeeded by a flourishing state of letters. But this was by no means the case”: cf. Hallam, Lit. of Europe, I. 464 sq., Lond. 1840, and Roscoe’s Life of Leo X. II. 237 sq., Lond. 1846.]
***[Ranke, Popes, I. 493. “It is true,” he writes, “that another Aldus Manutius appeared at Rome, and that he was professor of eloquence; but neither his Greek nor his Latin could win admirers.” In other European countries some progress was visible in the second half of the century; as the names of Henry Stephanus (Estienne), Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon will sufficiently indicate.]
Nor can this decline be ascribed entirely to the barbarous intermeddling of the “Holy Office” and the consequent flight of scholars from the southern to the northern states of Europe. England,* which had often furnished an asylum to such fugitives, was, generally speaking, in the same condition. The decline of taste is indicated most of all by the degenerate character of the Latinity, and the undue attention commonly bestowed on the less cultivated authors; while Greek, which at the opening of the sixteenth century, had, in spite of its alleged connection with heretical doctrines,** captivated a large class of students, now receded for a time and fell into comparative oblivion.
*[See Warton, as above, pp. 14, 15. On p. 16 we have the following evidence from the founder of Trinity College, Oxford: “He [cardinal Pole] advyses me to order the Greeke to be more taught there than I have provyded. This purpose I well lyke; but I fear the tymes will not bear it now. I remember when I was a young scholler at Eton [circ. 1520], the Greeke tonge was growing apace; the studie of which is now a-late much decaid.” Luther himself regretted this unreasonable neglect of classical authors: cf. J. J. Blunt, Reform. in England, p. 104, 6th ed.]
**[Priests in their confessions of young scholars, used to caution them against learning Greek: “Cave a Graecis ne fias haereticus.” And Erasmus, who mentions this and other like facts, had the greatest difficulties in obtaining currency at Cambridge for his edition of the Greek Testament. On the other hand, the following picture of a French savant, DuchČtel (Castellanus), will both exhibit the voracity of students at this period, and the fastidiousness of their taste: “DuchČtel retrouva, dans l’emploi de lecteur, les loisirs qu’il avait ens ą BČle lorsqu’il remplissait les fonctions de correcteur dans l’imprimerie de Frobeu. Il les consacra, n’en laissant rien perdre, ą relire les anciens auteurs Latins et Grecs at ą se perfectionner dans toutes lea études. Suivant le conseil de Platon, qui recommande aux gens studieux de ne remplir leur estomac qu’une fois par jour, il mangeait, ą huit heures du matin, nu morceau de pain, ne buvait ą ce repas qu’un verre de vin, et dĒnait ą cinq heures. Il donnait trois ou quatre heures au sommeil, et le reste de ses nuits au travail. Le matin, il étudiait les philosophes et les mathématiciens; dans l’aprŹsmidi, les historiens et les poĎtes. Pour ses études nocturnes, il réservait la Bible, qu’il lisait en Hébreu durant deux heures, at les interprŹtes du Nouveau Testament, entre lesquels il préférait saint Jérôme, trouvant que saint Augustin est un sophiste de mauvais goět, qui ne sait pas trop sa grammaire.” Hauréau, Franćois Ier et sa Cour, pp. 219, 220, Paris, 1855.]
These facts, however, cannot, in the present instance, be regarded as the omens of returning barbarism or symptoms of intellectual poverty and weakness. Men’s thoughts were feverishly intent on moral and religious, to the disregard of literary and scholastic questions. Yearnings were excited in their spirits, which could find no satisfaction in the cloudy reveries of Christian Platonism, nor in the frigid reasonings of Aristotle: and it was only when the Reformation was established, when the controversies it provoked were losing their original freshness and intense attraction, that the study of the pagan authors was more generally resumed, and sacred images replaced more freely [See Warton, III. 396 sq., on what he terms the “fresh inundation of classical pedantry”.] by conceptions borrowed from the Greek mythology or the writings of philosophers who shed imperishable lustre on the speculations of the ancient world.
The Reformation, itself one product of the intellectual enlightenment which sprang up in the former period, [See Middle Age, pp. 360, 361.] was in turn the parent of a moral, social, and religious revolution. It allied itself, indeed, with the great Biblical movement of the age preceding; but, as the necessities of the case required, its progress rather coincided with the practical and mystical, than with the critical direction of that movement.* When Luther burst the fetters that once held him in complete subjection to the papacy, the Western Church was lamentably fallen: it was ignorant, disordered, and demoralized. So deeply rooted was this feeling in the hearts of men, that numbers who had little or no personal affection for the author of Protestantism regarded his first onslaught with unqualified approbation. [Above.] Reforms of some kind or other were felt to be imperatively needed, and the sanguine therefore hoped that Luther was himself the man whom Providence had now commissioned for restoring to the Church of God her ancient characteristics. “Before the rise of the Lutheran and Calvinistic heresy,” is the confession of the prince of Romish controversialists, [Bellarmin. Concio XXVIII; Opp. VI. 296, Colon. 1617; cf. above.] “according to the testimony of persons then alive, there was almost an utter abandonment of equity in the ecclesiastical courts; in morals there was no discipline, in sacred literature no erudition, in Divine things no reverence. Religion was on the point of vanishing from the earth.” And similar witness had been borne already by another polemic who was struggling to resist the onward march of the Reformers; “I have frequently avowed,” he writes,** “that the discipline of the Church is ruined; that morals are corrupted; that the lives of great men and of the clergy are defiled by license, by avarice, by ambition; that learning is utterly neglected, or else pursued only in a sordid and godless spirit, which is the reason why our pulpits are now filled by such ignorant, absurd, and silly preachers. I have complained also more than once that the cure of souls is disregarded; that parishes are abandoned; that the great aim now is to get possession of sinecure benefices; and that there is no end of calumnious lawsuits and disgraceful traffickings in order to obtain admission to the priesthood. Accordingly from these evils greater still have issued, and do issue. Feuds have risen in the Church amounting almost to barbarity, religion is corrupted, ignorance of the Gospel is most rife, the ancient discipline is relaxed, all strength of principle is gone, and conduct is grown impious: there is contempt of God, contempt of magistrates; abhorrence of the priests; and, in a word, the mass of crimes and vices is so huge that, in our day, we find the burden almost intolerable.”
*[“Der Zusammenschluss jener biblisch-praktischen und dieser mystischen Richtung ist das schöpferische Prinzip der Reformation geworden”: Dorner, Entwickelungs-gesch. der Lehre von der Person Christi, II. 452, Berlin, 1853.]
**[Barthol. Latomus, in his controversy with Bucer, printed in Bucer’s Scripta Duo Adversaria, Argentorat. 1544, p. 27. It was not unnatural for Bucer to draw the following inference from such admissions (p. 216): “Non docetur ergo neque regitur a Spiritu Sancto vestra Ecclesia, hoc est, coetus vestrorum prelatorum, qui novas illas et peregrinas invexerunt doctrinas atque ceremonias.” Cf. above, where many of the prevalent corruptions are traced by the Roman cardinals to the excessive laxity and ignorance of ecclesiastics. DuchČtel (the French scholar mentioned above) was deterred from entering into holy orders by the same causes: “Non semel mihi ingenue confesses est,” writes his biographer (Ibid. p. 218, note), “ut, si sue genio obsequi sibi integrum fuisset, sagatam quam togatam vitam, militarem quam ecclesiasticam in qua plerosque fere omnes flagitiose versari videbat, sequi maluisset.” And Luther’s Preface to his Catechismus Minor pro parochis et concionatoribus tells the same distressing tale: “Miserabilis illa facies, quam proxime, quum Visitatorem agerem [A.D. 1527], vidi, me ad edendum hunc catechismum simplicissime et brevissime tractatum coegit. Deum immortalem! quantam calamitatem ibi vidi: vulgus, praesertim autem illud, quod in agris vivit, item plerique parochi, adeo nullam Christianae doctrinae cognitionem habent, ut dicere etiam pudeat. Et tamen omnes sancto illo Christi nomine appellantur, et nobiscum communibus utuntur sacramentis, quum Orationem Dominicam, symbolum Apostolicum et Decalogum non modo non intelligant, sed ne verba quidem referre possint. Quid multis moror? nihil omnino a bestiis differunt. Jam autem quum Evangelium passim doceatur, illi vel maxima Christianorum libertate fruuntur (Und nun das Evangelium kommen ist, dennoch fein gelehret haben, aller Freiheit meisterlich zn missbrauchen). Quid hic Christo respondebitis, episcopi, quibus illa cura est Divinitus demandata? Vos enim estis, quibus vel solis illa Christianae religionis calamitas debetur, etc.: in Francke’s Libr. Symbol. Eccl. Lutheran. Part II. p. 63.]
In such a state of morals and religious intelligence, it seemed to be the foremost duty of each Christian pastor to impress again upon his flock the alphabet of the Gospel, rather than to follow in the wake of timorous and halfhearted chieftains like Erasmus, with a hope that the diffusion of politer literature would issue in the spiritual exaltation of society. The chief aim accordingly was to preach what the apostles and evangelists had preached at first, to Jew and Gentile, Greek and Roman, – “Jesus Christ, and Him as crucified.” This verity became to all Reformers the substance of their choicest homilies, the centre, life and marrow of their theological system.* The image of the Crucified was ever printed on their hearts:** by it they stirred their audience to a deeper hatred of sin, and warmed in them an earnest and abiding love of the Almighty. While the general tendency of thought had been among the Orientals to lay stress on the Prophetic character of Christ, to worship Him as the great source of supernatural light and wisdom; while the Latins of the Middle Age adored Him chiefly as the King, incarnate, crucified, and risen, as the Sovereign and the Judge whose visible dominion coincided with the limits of the papal monarchy, new aspects of His character grew more familiar at the time of the Reformation. In asserting the malignity of evil and the moral impotence of man regarded in himself, the leaders of that movement pointed more distinctly and more uniformly to the Priest, the Substitute, the Reconciling Victim.
*[Thus, for example, Oswald Myconius urged in his address Ad Sacerdotes Helvetiae (Tiguri, 1524, p. 20): “Praedicare enim Evangelium, quid aliud est quam praedicare Christum pro salute nostra crucifixum? Quem si populo sic praescripsissent, non potuissent certe vel de meritis operum, vel de satisfactionibus, vel de intercessione sanctorum dicere. Ex missa non fecissent sacrificium. Idola in templa Christianorum nunquam intrusissent: nihil immutassent de iis quae Christus statuit.”]
**[See the fine passage in the English Homilies, pp. 425 sq., Camb. 1850. The vicarious nature of Christ’s mediation is illustrated as follows in the same document (p. 487); “For upon Him, He [God the Father] put our sins, upon Him He made our ransom; Him He made the mean betwixt us and Himself, whose mediation was so acceptable to God the Father, through His profound and perfect obedience, that He took His act for a full satisfaction of our disobedience and rebellion, whose righteousness He took to weigh against our sins, whose redemption He would have stand against our damnation.”]
Thus the Wittenberg Reformer had been driven, through despair of his own efforts, to cry out, as early as 1516:* “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my Righteousness, but I am Thy sin: Thou hast taken mine, and given me Thine”: confessions which may be regarded as the prelude and epitome of all his future teaching on the justification of the sinner. Zwingli, notwithstanding the divergencies in his mode of training, and the difference in his natural temperament, had started from the same profound conviction. “The death of Christ, and that alone,” he argued, “is the price paid for the remission of sins.”** In other words, the sharp distinction thus established between the righteousness of God and man, between the salutary work done in us and the salutary work done for us, was a leading characteristic of Reformed theology.
*[Above. In 1531 we find both him and Melanchthon stating their convictions on this subject with remarkable clearness (Melanchthon’s Works, II. 501 sq.). The latter writes (to Brentz): “Ideo non dilectio, quae est impletio legis, justificat, sed sola fides, non quia est perfectio quaedam in nobis, sed tantum quia apprehendit Christum: justi sumus non propter dilectionem, non propter legis impletionem, non propter novitatem nostram, etsi sint dona Spiritus Sancti, sed propter Christum, et Hunc tantum fide apprehendimus.” While Luther adds a postcript: “Et ego soleo, mi Brenti, ut hanc rem melius capiam, sic imaginari, quasi nulla sit in corde meo qualitas, quae fides vel caritas vocetur, sed in loco ipsorum pono Ipsum Christum et dico: Haec est justitia mea; Ipse est qualitas et formalis, ut vocant, justitia mea, ut sic me liberem ab intuitu legis et operum; imo et ab intuitu objectivi istius Christi, qui vel doctor vel donator intelligitur; sed volo Ipsum mihi esse donum et doctrinam per Se, ut omnia in Ipso habeam.”]
**[See above. In like manner he declares (Fidei Ratio, in Niemeyer, p. 19): “Scio nullam aliam esse expiandorum scelerum hostiam quam Christum, nam ne Paulus quidem pro nobis est crucifixus: nullum aliud pignus Divinae bonitatis et clementiae certius esse ao indubitatius, nihil enim aeque firmum ac Deus est: et non est aliud nomen sub sole in quo nos oporteat salvos fieri quam Jesu Christi. Relinquuntur ergo hic cum operum nostrorum justificatio et satisfactio, tum sanctorum omnium, sive in terra sive in coelis degentium, de bonitate et misericordis Dei expiatio aut intercessio.”]
It was not, indeed, alleged that previous generations had been wholly ignorant of such distinctions, or had ever ventured openly to impugn the doctrine of gratuitous justification by faith in Christ.* Yet the Reformers were unanimous in believing that, if not denied, this verity had, in later times, been so grievously displaced and so completely pushed into the background, as to exercise far less than its original influence on the life and character of Christians. They felt that a large group of human and angelic mediators had been practically interposed between the worshipper and Christ Himself. They had experienced how ideas of superabundant merit in the saint and his prevailing intercession had so filled the spirit of the destitute and the sin-stricken, that Christ was virtually excluded, and His mediating sacrifice constructively denied. The blessed Virgin, and a multitude of others whom the popular imagination had located in the heavenly palace, were thus either exalted into rivalry with the King of saints Himself, or made to intercept His glory from the worshipper. But in countries where the principles of the Reformation were adopted, all created mediators were dethroned, disparaged, or forgotten. Saints and priests and sacraments became at once subsidiary and ministerial; a wall of partition, which had separated Christ from the believers, and reduced them all into the servile state of Hebrews, was now broken down afresh; and in the consciousness of spiritual freedom which this thought of a gratuitous mercy had inspired, all notions of sufficiency, of human merit, of an adequate or a superfluous satisfaction, were utterly rejected. The “ancient writers and best expositors” had taught that Christ alone is “the Author and Giver of remission of sins, justice, life and eternal salvation to all believers; which thing,” it was contended, “is so proper and peculiar unto Him, that no part or portion thereof may be, in any respect, imparted unto others without manifest sacrilege and blasphemy.”**
*[See, for instance, Cranmer’s Notes and Authorities on Justification, Miscellaneous Writings, ed. P. S. pp. 203 sq. In the Homily Of Salvation, he writes to the same effect: “And after this wise, to be justified only by this true and lively faith in Christ, speaketh all the old and ancient authors, both Greeks and Latins” (p. 23, Camb. 1850).]
**[Bp. Woolton’s Christian Manual, p. 5, ed. P. S. 1851: cf. Zwingli’s language, above, “Oh!” says the English Homilist (p. 328), “that all men would studiously read and search the Scriptures. Then should they not be drowned in ignorance, but should easily perceive the truth, as well of this point of doctrine, as of all the rest. For there doth the Holy Ghost plainly teach us, that Christ is our only Mediator and Intercessor with God, and that we must seek and run to no other.”]
A second feature of the “new learning” was hardly less remarkable when traced into its practical consequences. The Reformation insisted, with unwonted emphasis, upon the fact, that man’s religion is a personal concern; that his future destiny will be determined by the issues of a judgment which must bring him face to face with God, the Searcher of all spirits; and that he will not only be there dealt with as an isolated individual responsible for all his faculties of soul and body, but that his condition will be rendered irreversible by death, which fixes an eternal gulf between the justified and the condemned.* So long as men continued to believe in purgatory, the most careless trusted that, even if impenitent when he died, he might be corrigible hereafter, and might pass eventually into the circles of the blessed; that the offerings of survivors might really turn to his advantage; and therefore that he need not be deterred from his unholy habits by the prospect of the worm that never dieth, and the fire unquenchable.
*[E.g. Latimer declares in his 4th sermon before Edw. VI (Sermons, p. 162, ed. P. S.): “There is but two states, if we be once gone. There is no change. ... There are but two states, the state of salvation and the state of damnation. There is no repentance after this life, but if he die in the state of damnation, he shall rise in the same: yea, though he have a whole monkery to sing for him, he shall have his final sentence when he dieth.” The Homilist, in like manner, after quoting passages from the Fathers, urges the same thought on the attention of his audience: “Let these and such other places be sufficient to take away the gross error of purgatory out of our heads; neither let us dream any more that the souls of the dead are anything at all holpen by our prayers: but, as the Scripture teacheth us, let us think that the soul of man, passing out of the body, goeth straightways either to heaven, or else to hell, whereof the one needeth no prayer, and the other is without redemption” (p. 339).]
It is true, the doctors of the Mediaeval church [See Middle Age, pp. 308, 426, 427, 3rd edition.] had drawn distinctions between the temporal and eternal consequences of sin, and had sometimes impressed on their disciples the idea that purgatory was reserved for none, except that section of Christians, who, though justified, had not at death entirely liquidated the debt of penance which had been entailed by their misdoings; but so lax and scandalous was their theory with respect to the conditions on which eternal consequences of sin may be remitted, that multitudes were still satisfied with vague professions of regret or passionate self-reproaches on their deathbed, trusting for the rest to the effects of prayers and offerings made in their behalf by others, to grants of indulgences, and, most of all, to special masses duly celebrated by the chantry priests. It may be also granted, that the council of Trent [Above.] did something to remedy this flagrant evil, by publishing more accurate definitions respecting penance: yet the source of the disorder was unhealed. The reassertion of a purgatorial fire, [See above.] from which escape may be facilitated by vicarious services, was ever tempting man to postpone the settlement of his account with God to an indefinite future; or in cases where the standard of religious earnestness rose higher, the ideas from which that dogma sprang were tending to produce a habit of mind in which the Christian rather studies to propitiate a Master, or disarm an angry and avenging Judge, than to be active from a principle of gratitude, holy from a love of holiness, unworldly from an aspiration to be Christlike. The devout Reformer, on the contrary, looked up to God as to a reconciled Father. Conscious, on the one hand, that he could never satisfy Divine justice by his self-inflicted torments, and that, on the other hand, no fellow mortal could be substituted in his place or alter the relation in which he stood to the Almighty at the hour of dissolution, he took refuge in the hope set before him in the Gospel, he put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and by his incorporation into the New Man from heaven, he found “wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
But this principle of personal faith in Christ the Mediator was, in the system of the continental Reformers, closely interwoven with a second, – the sacerdotal character of every Christian. Luther so exalted the benefits of baptism* as to recognize in it the special agent by which God imparts His choicest blessings and invests the human soul with new and nobler characteristics. From that time forward the baptized is consecrated to the Christian priesthood, and is entitled to all privileges that flow from union with God in Christ. He is taught of God, his body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and he alone is truly “spiritual”. “We have,” the potentates of Germany are reminded,** “we have one baptism and one faith, and that is it which constitutes us spiritual persons. The unction, the tonsure, the ordination, the consecration conferred by a bishop or a pope may make a hypocrite, but never a spiritual man. We are all alike consecrated priests at our baptism, as St Peter says, Ye are priests and kings; and if that consecration by God were not upon us, the unction of the pope could never constitute a priest. If ten brothers, sons of a king, and, having equal rights to the inheritance, should choose one from among them to administer the kingdom for them, they would all be kings, but one alone the minister of their common power. So is it in the Church.” Impelled by this conviction, scandalized by the malpractices of clergymen and monks, and, at the same time, smarting under the severe denunciations of the pontiff, the Wittenberg reformer made no effort to distinguish [Cf. Mr. Derwent Coleridge’s Scriptural Character of the Church, Berm. X.] clearly between the rights and privileges which constitute the sacerdotal character of Christians generally, and the authority transmitted from our blessed Lord Himself to one special order of Christians who officiate in His name, and for the edification of His people. Luther seems indeed to have convinced himself that these two ideas are utterly incompatible. He was unable to perceive that, in the Hebrew Church, the priesthood was, in one sense, granted to the whole community; they were “a kingdom of priests,” and yet the Aaronic ministrations were not thereby superseded, – which at least was calculated to suggest the possibility of analogous institutions in the Christian Church itself. A bright but vague ideal had possessed the ardent imagination of Luther and his followers. They trusted that the time had come when Christians, rescued from the papal tyranny, would be capable of larger measures of self-government than were hitherto enjoyed, that worldliness and self-indulgence, hypocrisy, irreverence, and ecclesiastical ambition, would be banished from the midst of them, that the Church would reappear in its true character as a holy and a happy brotherhood, where all the members find their pleasure in offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
*[Even where he was most vehement in his denunciations of papal tyranny and mechanical forms of worship, in his Prelude on the Babylonish Captivity of the Church, he expressed himself with great emphpsis on this subject (cf. above): “Baptismi sacramentum, etiam quoad signum, non esse momentaneum aliquod negotium, sed perpetuum. Licet enim usus ejus subito transeat, tamen res ipsa significata durat usque ad mortem, imo resurrectionem in novissimo die” (Opp. II. fol. 273 a, Jenae), 1600). ... “Nunquam fit baptismus irritus, donec desperans redire ad salutem nolueris: aberrare quidem poteris ad tempus a signo, sed non ideo irritum est signum. Ita semel es baptizatus sacramentaliter, sed semper baptizandus fide, semper moriendum, semperque vivendum” (fol. 273 b). ... “Hanc gloriam libertatis nostrae, et hanc scientiam baptismi esse hodie captivam, cui possumus referre acceptum, quam uni tyrannidi Romani pontificis? qui, ut Pastorem primum decet, unus omnium maxime debuit esse praedicator et assertor hujus libertatis et scientiae, sicut Paulus,” etc. ... “Quis dedit ei potestatem captivandae hujus nostrae libertatis, per baptismum nobis donatae?” (Ibid.)]
**[See the whole of this remarkable (German) tract, in Walch’s edition of his Works, X. 296 sq. It is Luther’s first assault on the despotic “walls” built up by “Romanists,” to keep the temporal ruler and his subjects under the direction of the spirituality; and the main object is to depress the papal power by showing that all Christians without exception, if true to their sacred calling, are alike “spiritual” men. He repeated his assertions in the tract, De instituendis ministris Ecclesiae (cf. above): e.g. “Sacerdos namque in Novo praesertim Testamento non fit, sed nascitur, non ordinatur, sed creatur. Nascitur vero non carnis, sed Spiritus nativitate, nempe ex aqua et Spiritu in lavacro regenerationis. Suntque prorsus omnes Christiani sacerdotes, et omnes sacerdotes sunt Christiani. ... Porro hanc sequelam esse fidelem et probam: Christus est sacerdos, ergo Christiani sunt sacerdotes, patet ex Psal. xxii, Narrabo nomen Tuum fratribus meis. Et rursus, Unxit Te Deus, Deus Tuus, oleo prae participibus Tuis. Quod fratres Ejus sumus, non nisi nativitate nova sumus. Quare et sacerdotes sumus, sicut et Ipse; filii, sicut et Ipse; reges, sicut et Ipse. Fecit enim nos cum Ipso consedere in coelestibus, ut consortes et cohaeredes Ejus simus, in Quo et cum Quo omnia nobis donata sunt” (Opp. II. 548 b, 549 a, Jenae, 1600).]
We saw that as the Reformation proceeded, [Above.] this vague and transcendental theory of the Church was considerably modified on the continent, and in England it had never many advocates or admirers. The recognition of all Christians, as exalted by their fellowship with Christ to be both kings and priests to God, was there associated with firm belief in the Divine appointment and authority of the ministerial office.* The faithful were instructed to obey their spiritual pastors and masters, not as officers whom they had chosen for their representatives, but who were placed over them by the Lord, and gifted with specific powers and privileges in virtue of their ordination.
*[For example, Cranmer’s Catechism of 1548 (respecting which see above) contains the following passage on this subject: “After Christes assention the apostelles gaue authoritie to other godly and holye men to minyster Gods worde, and chiefely in those places wher ther wer Christen men alredy, whiche lacked preachers, and the apostles theim selues could not longer abide with them. For the apostles dyd walke abrod into diuerse partes of the worlde, and did studye to plant the gospel in many places. Wherefore wher they founde godly men, and mete to preache Gods worde, they layed their handes vpon them, and gaue them the Holy Gost, as they theimselues receaued of Christ the same Holy Gost, to execute this office. And they that were so ordeyned were in dede, and also were called, the ministers of God, as the apostles theimselues were, as Paule sayeth vnto Tymothy. And so the ministration of Gods worde (which our Lord Jesus Christ hymselfe dyd first institute) was deryued from the apostles vnto other after theim, by imposition of handes and gyuynge the Holy Ghost, from the apostles tyme to our dayes. And this was the consecration, ordres, and vnction of the apostles, wherby they, at the begynnynge, made byshopes and pryestes; and this shall continewe in the churche euen to the worldes ende. And what soeuer rite or ceremonye hath ben added more than this, commeth of mannes ordinaunce and policye, and is not commaunded by Goddes worde. Wherefore, good children, you shall gyue due reuerence and honour to the ministers of the churche, and shal not meanely or lyghtly esteme them in the execution of their office, but you shall take them for Gods ministers, and the messengers of on; Lorde Jesus Christe. For Christ himselfe saieth in the gospel, He that heareth you, heareth me. And he that dyspiseth you, dyspiseth me. Wherefore, good children, you shal stedfastly beleue al those thinges, whiche suche ministers shall speake vnto you from the mouth and by the commaundement of our Lorde Jesus Christ. And what soeuer they do to you, as when they baptyse you, when they gyue you absolution, and dystribute to you the bodye and bloude of our Lord Jesus Christe, these you shall so esteme as yf Christe hymselfe, in his awne person dyd speake and minister vnto you. ... And on the other syde, you shall take good hede and beware of false and priuye preachers, whiche pryuely crepe into cities, and preache in corners, hauyng none authoritie, nor being called to this office. For Christe is not present with such prechers, and therefore dothe not the Holy Gost worke by their preching,” etc.: pp. 196, 197. On Cranmer:s vacillation respecting the minister of ordination in 1540, and his subsequent firmness, see Mr. Harington’s Succession of Bishops in the Church of England.]
But neither in this country, nor in continental Europe, was the promulgation of the “new learning” at once followed by results which satisfied the ardent wishes of its friends, and silenced the ungenerous cavils of its enemies. That some improvement was visible in the morals of the populace is confidently stated by one class of writers [E.g. Oswald Myconius, Ad Sacerdotes, Helvetiae, pp. 5 sq., Tiguri, 1524.]: yet the measure of it did not correspond,* in the opinion of reforming chieftains, to the vast importance of the truths now rescued from oblivion. What constituted the strength of the Reformers constituted also the peculiar weakness of their cause. They gave unwonted prominence to a class of doctrines which, if fairly apprehended, must result in the formation of a high and noble character; but doctrines, at the same time, easily capable of distortion and perversion. Thus the advocate of the “new learning” was driven to confess [Bp. Woolton, Christian Manual, p. 23, ed. P. S.] that “many lip-gospellers and protestants have commonly in their mouths Jesus Christ, His Gospel and faith, and yet so live that the name of Christ and his Gospel is evil spoken of” ... “Most part of mortal men,” he added, [Ibid. pp. 141, 142.] “nowadays, have no regard at all of temperance and sobriety, but give themselves to rioting and surfeiting, and run headlong into all kind of mischief, having no fear of God before their eyes: they follow their filthy lusts, they snatch, they steal, they swear and forswear, they lie, they deceive, and, to be short, do all things saving that which is lawful. And yet, in the mean time, they will needs be accounted Christians, and gospellers, and earnest favourers of true religion.” “It happened now, as when the central truths of Christianity were promulgated at the first: men turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, and, boasting of emancipation from the ancient yoke, converted their abandonment of popery into pretexts for unchristian living.** In some cases, doubtless, the exaggeration of the Reformers, in establishing their favourite dogmas, led to a one-sided apprehension of religious truth. The doctrine of gratuitous redemption and the efficacy of faith were sometimes urged with such exclusive vehemence as to do away with the nbcessity of holiness. Luther’s doctrine of the Church was plainly calculated to engender self-assertion; and this, in ordinary minds, would often pass into an overweening self-conceit, if not into presumption, arrogance and carnal self-complacency. The guidance of the Christian pastor was rejected, not, as in the former age, because the secularity of his spirit and his stolid ignorance both rendered him contemptible, but because it was concluded from the theory of the universal priesthood, that the power of judging and displacing teachers was inherent in all Christians.***
*[It is plain from Luther’s writings that he expected great results and was bitterly disappointed. See the admissions collected by Döllinger, Die Reformation, I. 318 sq., 412 sq. On one occasion Luther went so far as to declare that, morally speaking, the change had been for the worse: “Der Teufel fähret nun mit Haufen unter die Leute, dass sie unter dem hellen Lichte des Evangelii sind geiziger, listiger, vortheilischer, unbarmherziger, unzüchtiger, frecher and ärger, denn unter dem Papstthum”: Werke, ed. Walch, XIII. 19.]
**[Thus Erasmus writes (1523) in his bitter Spongia Adversus Huttenicas Adspergines (cf. above): “Sunt quidam indocti, nullius judicii, vitae impurae, obtrectatores, pervicaces, intractabiles, sic addicti Luthero, ut nec sciant, nec servent quod Lutherus docet. Tantum Evangelium habent in ore, negligunt preces et sacra, vescuntur quibus libet, et maledicunt Romano Pontifici: sic Lutherani sunt.” Luther himself draws a like picture in 1529, but lays the blame on his predecessors (De Wette, III. 424): “Miserrima est ubique facies ecclesiarum, rusticis nihil discentibus, nihil scientibus, nihil orantibus, nihil agentibus, nisi quod libertate abutuntur, non confitentes, non communicantes, ac si religione in totum liberi facti sunt: sic enim papistica neglexerunt, nostra contemnunt, ut horrendum sit episcoporum papisticorum administrationem considerare.” Or, to take another instance, we find the primate of Sweden writing in the following terms (1553: in Gieseler, III. i. 486, ed. Bonn): “Habemus hoc saeculo, gratia Dei singulari, purum Ejus verbum et lucem Evangelii clarissimam, qua illuminati a tenebris Papistarum liberamur, in fideqne salvifica conservamur, servientes Deo juxta patefactam Ejus voluntatem. Sed, proh! dolor, multi nostratium hoc minime considerantes vix audire purum Verbum Dei gestiunt; tantum abest, ut vitam suam juxta idem verbum instituant. ... Reliqui fructum nullum, praedicato Evangelio, ostendunt, licet ejus praedicatione videantur delectari: verum (quod magis dolendum est) sub libertate Evangelii licentiam peccandi studiosius sectantur multi, quasi finis praedicati Evangelii sit, eaque libertas Christiana, ut liceat homini Christiano, adhuc peccatori, agere quae lubet.” On the “relaxation of morals” in England, see J. J. Blunt, Reform. pp. 156, 157, 6th ed.; Haweis, Reform. (from the contemporary pulpit), pp. 127–164; although it should be added, that many of the same, and even greater, vices had been fearfully prevalent anterior to the Reformation. Abundant evidence of this will be found in the Sermones declamati coram alma Vniuersitate Cantabrigiensi, by Stephen Baron, a provincial of the Minorites, and confessor to Henry VIII. They were published, circ. 1520, several years before the rupture with the papacy.]
***[Cf. above. Audin (Hist. de is Vie de Martin Luther, I. 264), who is desirous of proving that the success of the Reformers was due to the laxity of their teaching, parades the following extract from a contemporary letter: “Nec enim vult Lutherus quemquam de actionibus suis admodum anxium esse, siquidem ad salutem et aeternitatem promerendam fidem et sanguinem Christi sufficere. Lasciviant igitur homines, obsonentur, pergraecentur in Venerem, in caedes, in rapinas, ut libet, efferantur.”]
In the great majority, however, the neglect of holy living was in absolute defiance of the sermons and example of the chief Reformers. “We mean nothing less,” they pleaded, [Woolton, Christian Manual, p. 32.] “than to reject or take away good works and honest actions.” They would hear no longer, it is true, “of beads, of lady psalters and rosaries, of fifteen O’s, of St. Bernard’s verses, of St Agathe’s letters, of purgatory, of masses satisfactory; of stations and jubilees, of feigned relics, of hallowed beads, bells, bread, water, palms, candles, fire, and such other; of superstitious fastings, of fraternities or brotherhoods, of pardons, with such like merchandise;” all these having been “so esteemed and abused to the great prejudice of God’s glory and commandments, that they were made most high and holy things, whereby to attain to the everlasting life, or remission of sin” [Homilies, “3rd part of the Sermon of Good Works,” p. 58.]. But the depreciation of such observances and institutions which were held to be commandments of men, had not unfrequently imparted greater emphasis to exhortations of Reformers in behalf of God’s commandments. These, they urged, were followed from a principle of faith, have been ordained “as the right trade and pathway unto heaven” [Ibid. p. 60.]; obedience to these was the criterion by which genuine Christians might be known, and on the measure and degree of that obedience would depend the measure and degree of future blessedness.*
*[E.g. in the Apologia Confessionis, cap. III. Art. VI. (Francke, Part I. p. 96) it is declared: “Talia opera vituperare, confessionem doctrinae, officia caritatis, mortificationes carnis, profecto esset vituperare externam regni Christi inter homines politiam. Atque hic addimus etiam de praemiis et de merito. Docemus operibus fidelium proposita et promissa esse praemia. Docemus bona opera meritoria esse, non remissionis peccatorum, gratiae aut justificationis (haec enim tantum fide consequimur), sed aliorum praemiorum corporalium et spiritualium in hac vita et post hanc vitam, quia Paulus inquit: Unusquisque recipiet mercedem juxta suum laborem. Erunt igitur dissimilia praemia propter dissimiles labores.”]
Erasmus appears to have forgotten statements of this kind when he imputed moral laxity to some of the Reformers,* and ascribed the rapid victories of their cause to the indulgent doctrines which it sanctioned. Even with regard to the disuse of the confessional, his charges are considerably exaggerated. Luther,** on the continent, and Latimer,*** in England, were decidedly in favour of the practice of confession, provided only it did not embrace minute descriptions of particular failings, and was limited to urgent cases, where the conscience was oppressed by special difficulties. As soon, however, as confession ceased to be compulsory, the influence of the priesthood was proportionally difilinished. The proud and profligate, the careless, worldly and rapacious, on the sudden abolition of ancient checks, were seen in their true colours; while the growth of spiritual freedom and the copious circulation of religious knowledge, rendered such direction less desirable, in the case of ordinary Christians.
*[Cf. Audin, as above, I. 264. The only point where real ground for censure is discoverable, related to the way in which some continental Reformers spoke of matrimony. Carlstadt, supposing that the Mosaic law was valid on that subject, seems to have advised a man to marry two wives (Ranke, Ref. II. 204): and as late as 1539, Luther, Melanchthon, Bucer and others, took part in a reply to the petition of Philip, landgrave of Hessen, by which they connived at his secret cohabitation with a concubine, under the title of a lawful wife, while his true wife was still living: cf. Bossuet, Variations, liv. VI. ch. 2–10.]
**[Tholuck thus alludes to the opinion of the Wittenberg Reformer (Predigten über das Augsburgische Glaubensbekenntniss, p. 198. Halle, 1850): “Diese Beichte und Absolution, wo Priester und Sünder sich allein gegenüberstehen, und über ihnen kein anderes Auge, als des Auge Gottes, diese Beichte, von der Luther schreibt: ‘Wenn tausend und abertausend Welten mein wären, so wollte ich alle lieber verlieren, denn dass ich wollte dieser Beichte das geringste Stücklein eines aus der Kirche kommen lassen,’ – die ist gefallen!”]
***[After reflecting on the practice of the “papists,” who required a particular enumeration of sins, Latimer proceeds as follows (Remains, p.180, ed. P. S.): “But to speak of right and true confession, I would to God it were kept in England; for it is a good thing. And those which find themselves grieved in conscience might go to a learned man [cf. p. 13, where it is “‘some godly minister”], and there fetch of him comfort of the Word of God, and so to come to a quiet conscience. ... And surely it grieveth me much that such confessions are not kept in England, &c.”]
This conviction that all members of the Church were free, had access to the oracles of God, and were invested with the right of ascertaining the true basis of their belief, had generated even in the laity an ardent and insatiable longing for ecclesiastical literature. To gratify this thirst, they had recourse to Holy Scripture, which, both in the original and in translations, now began to be diffused in every quarter with astonishing rapidity. Erasmus, who conducted the biblical as well as literary movements of the age, commences a new period in the history of sacred scholarship.* Following freely in the steps of Laurentius Valla and emulating the zeal of Jacques LefŹvre, the patriarch of French reformers, he directed his critical acumen to the elucidation of the sacred text with a sagacity and independence hitherto but rarely witnessed in the schools and cloisters of Western Christendom. After the publication of his Greek Testament and Paraphrases, a number of more earnest followers caught his literary spirit, and proceeded with the work he had inaugurated. Luther** and Melauchthon, Zwingli and Bollinger, Calvin, Beza, and Castellio, all accepted, in a greater or less degree, the sober, critical, and grammatical methods of interpretation which he ventured to revive. Some of his principles of exegesis were also shared at the beginning of the century by cardinal Cajetanus,*** and subsequently by the Jesuit Maldonatus, [Commentarii in IV. Evangelistas, Pont-ą-Mousson, 1596: cf. Simon, p. 618.] so that henceforth the study of the sacred text was prosecuted more successfully among the Romanists as well as the Reformed. Hebrew, at the same time, had been gradually admitted to a place in the affections of the learned theologian. [On the history of the printed text of the Old Testament, see Davidson, Bibl. Criticism, I. 137 sq., Edinb. 1852.] It was no longer associated with over-fondness for the Jews [See Middle Age, p. 361, n. 4.]; and in the noble outbreak of enthusiasm that possessed a multitude of the Reformers, all who had the leisure and the means recurred directly to the fountains*4 of the Old as well as of the New Testament.
*[See above, and Davidson’s Sacred Hermeneutics, pp. 182 sq. Erasmus’s edition of the Greek Testament was at length eclipsed by the labours of Robert Stephanus (Estienne), who printed three editions in 1546, 1549 and 1550, and endeavoured to establish a text on more critical principles by registering the various readings in his margin.]
**[Luther expressed his contempt for allegories and for Dionysius the Areopagite (“plus Platonisans quam Christianisans) at a very early period: Opp. II. fol. 282 a, Jenae, 1600. About the same time (1521) he rejected the theory of a four-fold sense in Holy Scripture, “quadrigam illam sensuum Scripturae, literalem, tropologicum, allegoricum, et anagogicum.” “Nonne impiissimum est,” he adds (Ibid. fol. 243 b), “sic partiri Scripturas, ut literae neque fidem neque mores neque spem tribuas, sed solam historiam jam inutilem?” – alluding to the medieval couplet;
“Litera gesta docet, quid credas Allegoria,
Morelia quid agas, quo tendas Anagogia.”]
***[The freedom of this scholar (who died in 1534) amounted sometimes to irreverent licence. In that respect he far exceeded Luther (cf. above), and was attacked severely by Ambrosius Catharinus, one of Luther’s antagonists: cf. Simon, Hist. Critique des principaux Commentateurs, p. 537, Rotterdam, 1693.]
*4[Thus the Florentine, Petruccio Ubaldini, who visited this country in the reign of Edward VI, remarks of the English people: “The rich cause their sons and daughters to learn Latin, Greek and Hebrew; for since this storm of heresy has invaded the land, they hold it useful to read the Scriptures in the original tongue”: Von Raumer, Hist. of the XVIth and XVIIth centuries, illustrated by original documents, II. 74, Lond. 1835: cf. Oswald Myconins, Ad Sacerdotes Helvetiae, p. 19.]
The masses were, however, indebted of necessity to vernacular translations. These accordingly sprang up in every country which had felt the genial impulse of the Reformation. [See Hallam’s Lit. of Europe, I. 525 sq., II. 137, 138, Lond. 1840.] As soon as Luther’s version of the New Testament was circulated in Northern and Middle Germany, it caused a vast vibration in all ranks and orders of society. In the language of a strenuous adversary,* “even shoemakers and women read it with feverish eagerness, committed parts of it to memory, and carried the volume about with them in their bosoms.” Boys are said, in like manner, to have been so devoted to the study of it, that they often quoted texts with greater ease than “theologians of thirty years’ standing”. An equal measure of enthusiasm was afterwards excited in all parts of England. Men had not indeed been wholly ignorant [See Middle Age, pp. 420 sq.] of the facts of sacred history, nor of the leading doctrines of the Gospel: but the prospect of exchanging human and derived for heavenly streams of knowledge, and the spiritual satisfaction, which had flowed from deep acquaintance with “the true and lively Word of God” contained in holy Scriptures, gave an impulse hitherto unprecedented to the circulation of religious literature.** The times, moreover, had so far altered that the price of Tyndale’s version of the New Testament, which first appeared in 1525, was forty-fold less than that of Wycliffe a century before. [J. J. Blunt’s Reform. in England, p. 109, 6th ed.]
*[Cochlaeus, De Actis et Scriptis M. Lutheri, ad annum 1522, fol. 50 b. He adds: “At jam dudum persuaserat Lutherus turbis suis, nullis dictis habendam esse fidem, nisi quae ex sacris literis proferrentur. Idcirco reputabantur catholici ab illis ignari scripturarum, etiamsi eruditissimi essent theologi Quinetiam palam aliquando coram multitudine contradicebant eis laici aliqui, tanquam mera pro concione dixerint mendacia aut figmenta hominum.” Speaking of the new generation of theological students, he continues: “Quod si quis novitatibus eorum contradiceret, mox praetendebant lectionem Graecam vel Hebraicam, aut aliquem ex vetustissimis auctoribus, et confestim plenis convitiorum plaustris invehebantur in Graecarum et Hebraicarum literarum ignaros theologos, quos odiose sophistas, asinos, porcos, animalia ventris, et inutilia pondera terrae vocitabant, superaddentes etiam ronchos et cachinnos immodestissime.” See a disputation between this writer and Alexander Ales, which appeared in 1533 with the title An expediat laicis legere Novi Testamenti libros linguČ vernaculČ? (copy in the Camb. Univ. Libr. AB, 13, 5).]
**[Above. Udal in the “Preface vnto the Kinges Maiestie” (Edw. VI), prefixed to his edition of The first tome or volume of the Paraphrases of Erasmus (1551), alludes to the reaction against the reading of the Bible in English, which had occurred during the later years of Henry VIII, and congratulates his successor as “the faythful Josias, in whose tyme the booke of the lawe is found out in the house of the Lord, and by the King’s injunction read in the hearing of all the people.” According to him, “As the winnower pourgeth the chaffe from the corne, and the boulter tryeth out the branne from the meale; so hath Erasmus scoured out of all the Doctours and commentaries vpon Scriptures, the dregges whiche through the faulte of the times or places, in whiche those writers liued, had setled itselfe emong the pure and fyne substaunce.”]
Yet in all countries where the holy Scriptures were thus freely circulated, such publicity entailed, as might have been expected from the nature of the fermentation, a fresh crop of feuds and controversies. To say nothing of unseemly brawlings and contentions prevalent in the ecclesiastical order, laymen were so far interested and excited by the struggles between the “old” and “new learning,” that almost every house was now divided in opinion, while the taverns echoed with religious war cries, and irreverent disputations. “I am very sorie to know and heare,” says Henry VIII* at the close of his reign, “how unreverently that most precious jewell the Word of God is disputed, rimed, sung and jangled in every ale-house and taverne, contrary to the true meaning, and doctrine of the same.” A spirit had, in fact, been raised, which, if perverted, would impel the ignorant and self-conceited to assume a right of judging in all matters of faith, would sow the seeds of an ecclesiastical revolution, and ultimately precipitate the fiery, sanguine, and ill-balanced reader of the Bible into every species of fanaticism. We saw this melancholy result in the projection of lawless and distempered sects who followed closely in the track of the Reformers.
*[Stow’s Annales. p. 590, Lond. 1631: of. above. In the Homily Against Brawling and Contention, p.135, we have a graphic picture of the strifes then raging in England with reference to certain questions, not so much pertaining to edification as to vain-glory. The taunts thrown out were such as the following: “He is a Pharisee, he is a gospeller, he is of the new sort, he is of the old faith, he is a new-broached brother, he is a good catholic father, he is a papist, he is an heretic.”]
The same remark is applicable to other products of the press. This instrument had been as cordially* used on one side, as it was suspected and disparaged on the other. While the Romanists attempted, not in vain, to strangle it [See above.] by means of the Index and Inquisition, the Reformer welcomed it as one of God’s best gifts, and as the aptest and most powerful handmaid of the Gospel. The number of Lutheran publications, we have seen, was really prodigious. Bibles, commentaries, sermons, hymns, and catechisms, a learned and elaborate history** of the Church, regarded from the standing ground of Luther, swarms of popular tracts, the work of writers thoroughly in earnest and passionately devoted to the cause they had espoused; these all, combined with formal treatises on vexed questions of the period, were transmitting the distinctive doctrines of the Reformation into regions far beyond the personal influence of their authors. Nor were such the only kind of publications which contributed to its success. Ballads, pasquils, satires, ribalds full of pungent humour and sarcastic virulence, effected quite as much as the homily and the prayer book. Erasmus*** himself opened these attacks as, early as 1500, to the joy of all who were disgusted with the ancient reign of ignorance and immorality; and his imitators during the next fifty years were almost innumerable. [See, for instance, above.] The tone, however, of such publications gradually became more scurrilous and offensive. They decried the Roman pontiffs, it is true, with irresistible audacity: they poured abundant ridicule on errors, foibles, and absurdities of the Mediaeval period: but even if we make considerable allowance for the greater coarseness of the generation in which these missiles were projected, the violence and levity of their spirit, and the ribaldry, approaching to profaneness,*4 which they sometimes manifested in discussing the most sacred topics, must have rather tended to generate contempt for all sacred things and persons, than promoted the spiritual and moral elevation of the reader. It should also be observed that, as the sixteenth century advanced, the circulation of godless and immoral books became enormous, satisfying the most ardent friends of Reformation, that the benefits arising from the press were not unmixed with serious, though it might be, unavoidable calamities.*5
*[E.g. Justus Jonas writes in his philippic Adversum Joannem Fabrum ... pro conjugio sacerdotali (Tiguri, 1523): ... “in quem potissimum usum Deus in hoc saeculorum fine, in his novissimis diebus Typographiae divinum artificium protulit. Vides lingaas, Graecam, Latinam, Hebraicam, breviter omne eruditionis genus servire Evangelio”: sign. A iii. b. He then adds triumphantly: “Eliminata est barbaries, profligati e theologorum scholis sophistae, asseritur quotidie magis ac magis syncera Theologia et puritas Evangelii.”]
**[This was the work commonly known as the Magdeburg Centuries, the extensive character of which is indicated by the title of the original edition: Ecclesiastica Historia, integram Ecclesiae Christi ideam, quantum ad Locum, Propagationem, Tranquillitatem, Doctrinam, Haereses, Ceremonias, Gubernationem, Schismata, Synodos, Personas, Miracula, Martyria, Religiones extra Ecclesiam, et statum Imperii politioum attinet, secundum singulas Centurias perspicuo ordine complectens &c.: in thirteen volumes, folio, each embracing one century, Basel, 1559–1574. One of the chief contributors was Matthias Flacius Illyricus (above). To the Catalogus Testium of the same writer John Foxe was largely indebted for materials in compiling Actes and Monumentes of Christian Martyrs and Matters ecclesiasticall, of which the first edition is dated 1563. The great work of Illyricus and his friends gave rise to the Annales Ecclesiastici of Caesar Baronius, a member of the Oratory, which appeared at Rome, 1588–1607, for the purpose of counteracting the effects of the Magdeburg Centuries: see Dowling, Introd. to Eccl. Hist. p. 123.]
***[“The lively Colloquies of Erasmus, which exposed the superstitions practices of the papists, with much humour, and in pure Latinity, made more protestants than the ten tomes of John Calvin”: Warton, Engl. Poetry, III. 8, Lond. 1840. Roger Ascham, on the other hand, when noticing the importation of foreign literature into England remarks: “Ten Sermons at Paules Crosse doe not so much good for moouing men to true doctrine, as one of these [Italian] bookes does harme with inticing men to ill living. ... More papists be made by your merry bookes of Italy than by your earnest bookes of Louvain”: Ibid. p. 372. See Ascham’s Scholemaster, ed. Mayor, pp. 80, 81.]
*4[Dr. Maitland has called attention to this aspect of the great religious movement in his Essays on the Reformation, No. XI–No. XIV. After speaking of the genuine Reformers, he adds (p. 226): “There were, at the same time, other partisans of the Reformation, very noisy and very numerous, of quite a different spirit, whom, to say the least, they did not keep at a proper distance, or repudiate with sufficiently marked detestation. I mean those who used a jeering scoffing humour, to turn the ministers and the services of religion into ridicule, – men who employed themselves in raising a laugh against popery, at whatever expense, and in providing for the eyes and ears of even the rude multitude who could not read, gross and profane pictures, jests, songs, interludes, – all in short that could nurse the self-conceit of folly, and agitate ignorance into rebellion against its spiritual pastors and teachers.” For a specimen of the ballads against the Reformation, see Strype’s Crammer, Append. No. XLIX.]
*5[Thus, Edward Topsell, preaching at the close of Elizabeth’s reign, has echoed the complaints of previous writers: “We have heresy and blasphemy and paganism and bawdry committed to the press, to be commended in print: there is no Italian tale so scurrilous, or fable so odious, or action so abominable, but some have ventured to defend it”: in Haweis, Sketches of the Reformation, p. 148, Lond. 1844. Ascham (The Scholemaster, pp. 81, 82, ed. Mayor, 1863) shews, however, that in the times of “Papistrie,” such books as Morte Arthur, full of “mans slaughter and bold bawdrye,” had been by far the most popular. “I knowe,” he continues, “when God’s Bible was banished the Court, and Morte Arthure received into the Princes chamber.”]
But owing to the cost of books, and the comparative ignorance of the multitude, the press did not contribute so directly to the triumphs of the “new learning,” as the oral admonitions and denunciations of Reformers. The lecture room effected much [See above.]: the pulpit more. Throughout the Mediaeval period, preaching had grown less and less frequent, and the quality of the sermons more insipid and unspiritual. [Middle Age, pp. 421, 422.] But when Luther’s manly voice was heard at Wittenberg, and when his Postills, which united, to a singular extent, the qualities of vigour, fervour, and simplicity,* were rapidly dispersed and reproduced in every province where the Lutheran theology had been accepted, it was felt that a new era was commencing, and that powerful springs of action had been touched in many a bosom which was hitherto estranged from God, or was at least impervious to the higher and more spiritual doctrines of the Gospel. In this respect, as in many others, the counter-reformation party were themselves vastly benefited by the example of their enemies.** They grew more conscious that the older class of sermons would no longer satisfy their audience, and a new race of preachers was accordingly produced, especially among religious orders,*** the Jesuits, the Theatines, the Barnabites, and the Oratorians, who were then established in the hope of remedying the past neglect and utter worldliness of ordinary ecclesiastics.
*[It is interesting to observe what was Luther’s own idea of good sermons. Ratzeberger (Handschrift. Gesch. p. 87, Jena, 1850) has preserved an anecdote where the great reformer delicately reflects on Bucer for preaching only to the learned: “Aber wenn ich uf die Cantzel trete, so sehe ich was ich fur Zuhörer habe, denen predige ich, was sie verstehen können; dan die meistere unter ihnen sind arme leyen und schlechte Wenden” [the aboriginal inhabitants of the district]. He goes on to compare simple and natural discourses to a mother’s milk, which weeping children always prefer to syrups and other sweetmeats.]
**[See above. In the “Praefatio” to the Catechismus Romanus it is stated: “At vero, cum haec Divini Verbi praedicatio nunquam intermitti in Ecclesia debeat, tum certe hoc tempore majori studio et pietate elaborandum est, ut sana et incorrupta doctrina, tamquam pabulo vitae fideles nutriantur et confirmentur.” A fair specimen of these controversial sermons is supplied in Stapleton’s Promptuarium Catholicum, ad instructionem concionatorum contra hareticos nostri temporis, Colon. 1594.]
***[Above. On Philip of Neri, who founded the “Congregatio Oratorii” in 1564, see Acta Sanctorum, Maii. Tom. VI. pp. 460 sq.]
The number and the length* of sermons at this period shews the deep conviction which men had as to the might and efficacy of the agent. A few of the more eminent Reformers, such as Hooper, Gilpin, and Jewel, are said to have preached once or even twice a day: some of the parochial clergy were no less energetic: and where the Friar proved unfavourable to the “new learning,” itinerant preachers corresponding to him in the main, were dispatched into remoter districts, to occupy the places of the ancient “limitors”.** Laymen [Ibid. pp. 102, 103.] also, who possessed an adequate amount of learning and sobriety were, on applying for a license, occasionally permitted to go forth on the same errands, till at length, by all these agencies, the prominent doctrines of the Reformation were most fully known, if not sincerely cherished, and consistently obeyed.
*[Cf. Ratzeberger, as before, p. 88, where he mentions that the pastor of Wittenberg (Bugenhagen) always preached more than one, often more than two hours.]
**[See Mr. Haweis’ chapter on “the itinerant preachers”: Sketches of the Reformation, pp. 84–108. Two of the more interesting characters among them were Gilpin and Bradford. On the latter high praise was bestowed by his contemporaries: “In this preaching office, for the space of three years, how faithfully Bradford walked, how diligently he laboured, many parts of England can testify. Sharply he opened and reproved sin, sweetly he preached Christ crucified, pithily he impugned heresies and errors, earnestly he persuaded to godly life”: Ibid. pp. 92, 93.]
The troubles of the age, as we have seen, were not propitious to the growth of general literature. This cause had most seriously affected not a few of the educational establishments designed for training Christian scholars, and the ministers of religion. The English mind was in particular unsettled by the frequent alterations of the public faith and worship. [Warton, III. 14 sq.] The unscrupulous seizure of church property, and the menace that was constantly suspended over the revenues of colleges and universities, had there tended to discourage many a student who was hoping to advance his fortune by attaining academic distinctions.* It was somewhat different in communities of continental reformers. Conventual property had been applied, at least in Saxony and Würtemberg, to literary and religious purposes, [Gieseler, III. ii. pp. 425, 426 (ed. Bonn).] and several flourishing universities sprang up to vindicate the Reformation from the charges it incurred in certain quarters, – of lowering the standard of sacred literature. Still it must be granted that a large proportion of pastors in the sixteenth century, in reformed as well as unreformed communions, were ill-educated, drawing their meagre stock of knowledge, not from the original sources, but from textbooks, commentaries, and compendiums of such modern divines, as Eck and Melchior Canus on the one side, or Melanchthon, Bullinger, and Calvin on the other.
*[“The common ecclesiastical preferments were so much diminished by the seizure and alienation of impropriations [cf. above] in the late depredations of the Church, and which continued to be carried on with the same spirit of rapacity in the reign of Elizabeth, that few persons were regularly bred to the Church, or, in other words, received a learned education”: Ibid. p. 18. The writer mentions, for example, that “about 1563 there were only two divines, and those of higher rank, the president of Magdalen college and the dean of Christ Church, who were capable of preaching the public sermons before the University of Oxford.” And archbishop Parker (Correspond. ed. P. S. p. 370) found it difficult in 1570 to meet with any divine at Cambridge, able and willing to fill the office of Lady Margaret’s professor. “Look,” cried Bernard Gilpin, an Oxford man, preaching in the reign of Edward, “look at the two wells of this realm, Oxford and Cambridge: they are almost dried up”: one reason being that noblemen rewarded “servants with livings appointed for the Gospel” (Haweis, p. 59). Thomas Lever at the same period utters similar complaints touching the state of Cambridge, his own university: “There was in the houses belonging to the University of Cambridge two hundred students of divinity, many very well learned, which be now all clean gone, house and man, young toward scholars and old fatherly doctors, not one of them left” (Ibid. p. 61). The impropriators were also, in his mind, the cause of this declension, “great thieves which murder, spoil and destroy the flocks of Christ” (p. 63). See other curious information touching the condition of the clergy at this period in the Pref. to the English version of Bullinger’s Decades, ed. P. S. 1849.]
Although the dissolution of religious houses involved not only the temporary depression of sacred literature in general, but the loss of the monastic schools, that second loss was neither so wide nor so grievous as might appear at the first glance. Such institutions had, for many years, been rapidly declining; and when Erasmus opened his unsparing warfare on the monks and friars in whom he saw the natural enemies of elegance and erudition, it was felt that other establishments must be constructed for communicating secular and sacred knowledge, and reduced into more perfect harmony with modern wants, and the increased capacities of the age. Accordingly more grammar schools had been erected and endowed in England during the thirty years preceding the Reformation than in three centuries before.* In Germany also, the first wish of those who headed the reforming movement was to institute a far larger number of town and village schools. They bore in mind a hint of Gerson, [Middle Age, p. 417, n. 2.] that the “reformation of the Church, to be effectual, must begin at the children.” Luther** had proceeded in this spirit as early as 1524. He then urged the subject of religious*** education on the notice of the magistrates in every part of Germany, imploring them to devote a number of pious imposts, which had formerly been levied on their people, to the general diffusion of sacred knowledge among the poor. “Our system,” he contended,*4 after dwelling on the social advantages of the Reformation, “is so much improved, that more may now be learned in three years, than could hitherto be found in all the schools and cloisters.” “Herewith,” concludes the author, “I commend you all to God’s grace, that He may soften and inflame your hearts, to the end that ye may earnestly take charge of the poor, miserable, and neglected youth, and, by God’s help, instruct and aid them towards a holy and Christian ordering of the German people, in body and soul, with all fullness and overflowing, to the praise and honour of God the Father, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
*[Knight, Life of Colet, pp. 100 sq., Lond. 1724: where it is remarked, “This noble impulse of Christian charity in the founding of grammar schools, was one of the Providential ways and means for bringing about the blessed Reformation.”]
**[In writing to Strauss (April 25: De Wette, II. 504, 505) his words are: “Caeterum oro, apud tuos urgeas causam istam juventutis instituendae. Video enim Evangelio impendere maximam ruinam, neglectu educandae pueritiae. Res ista omnium maxime necessaria est”: cf. above. Hooper, at a later period, presses the same point in England (Early Writings, p. 508, ed. P. S.): “I would likewise pray and admonish the magistrates to see the schools better maintained: for the lack of them shall bring blindness into this Church of England again.” The Stat. 1 Edw. VI. c. 14, entitled “The Act for Chantries Collegiate,” which was opposed by Cranmer among others (see Stephens, Eccl. Stat. I. 294, n. 3), from a wish to keep church property out of the hands of lay plunderers, hinted at the desirableness of converting these foundations “to good and godly uses, as in erecting of grammar schools to the education of youth in virtue and godliness, the further augmenting of the Universities, and better provision for the poor and needy”: but nearly all the revenues thus made available were swept into the royal coffers: cf. Ibid. p. 301 note, and J. J. Blunt, Ref. p. 319.]
***[The idea of disjoining secular and religious education had not occurred to any class of the Reformers. All the schoolmasters in England, for example, were placed under the jurisdiction of the bishops: see Elizabeth’s Injunctions (1559), §§ 40–42. One of the first advocates of the opposite theory was Lord Herbert, who at the beginning of the next period contended, that from the time when children went to school they should have two masters, one for lessons, the other for manners and morals, and that each of these should keep strictly to his own province.]
*4[See this remarkable address at length in Walch, X. 532 sq. The title is An die Rathsherren alter Städte Deutschlandes dass sie Christliche Schulen aufrichten und halten sollen.]
But the annals of this period everywhere attest that the Reformers, anxiously devoted as they were to the instruction of the young, had to encounter a most formidable class of rivals [See above.] in the Order of the Jesuits. The reaction which eventually issued in the restoration of the pontiff to his ancient honours may be traced, in almost every case, to the untiring energy, and the consummate skill, with which the tenets of Tridentine Romanism had been insinuated by able followers of Ignatius Loyola into the minds of their pupils.
One of the main causes which retarded the advance of education, in the lower ranks of life, was the unpopularity of clerics. We have already noticed instances of this antipathy in various parts of Europe. Nor can it, in fairness, be regarded as the product of the moral revolution which had given fresh importance to the laity, and urged them to assert their spiritual independence. Long before* the earliest dawn of Reformation, the excessive levity and irreverence, the pride, extortion and unchastity of those who should have been ensamples to their flock, were rendering the parochial clergy, in too many cases, a legitimate object of suspicion, and exposing them to satire, hatred, and contempt. When Luther visited Rome in 1511, his mortification was intense on finding himself associated with monks and clerics who had so little regard for decency, that even the most solemn offices of worship were celebrated with contemptuous haste, and made the subject of profane caricatures. [Waddington, Reform. I. 59, 60.] This frightful blasphemy produced a similar effect upon the spirit of Erasmus; [See the extract from his letter, in Middle Age, p. 352, n.1, where he declares that he was himself an ear-witness.] and when the pope was ultimately constrained to undertake some reformation of the Churches subject to his jurisdiction, the committee of inquiry ventured to report, [Above.] that most of the prevailing scandals were attributable to the irreverence of the clergy, and to the contempt with which the sacerdotal order was too commonly regarded.
*[Middle Age, pp. 241, 242, 348–350, and above. In the case of England the evidence is irresistible. Dean Colet, in his famous sermon preached before the Convocation, in 1511 (Knight’s Life, pp. 273 sq.), draws a dark picture of clerical immorality. “Hath nat this vice [of carnal concupiscence] so growen and waxen in the Churche as a fludde of theyr luste? so that there is nothynge loked for more diligently, in this moost besy tyme, of the most parte of pristes, than that that dothe delite and please the senses? They gyue them selfe to feastes and bankettynge: They spend them selfe in vaine bablyng: They gyue them selfe to sportes and plays: They apply them selfe to huntynge and haukynge. They drowne them selfe in the delytes of the worlde. Procurers and fynders of lustes they set by,” &c. On the irreverent mode in which Divine worship was celebrated, and the filthy condition of the churches and the mutilations of the service, Stephen Baron, the Cambridge preacher (as above, pp. 368, 369, n.4), has numerous passages: e.g. after dwelling on the dignity of the priesthood and the sanctity of their ministrations, he exclaims (fol. 22 b.): “Sed proth pudor, si considerentur altaria multis in ecclesiis, inuenientur ibi tobalee [altar cloths] sordidissime, pulueribus et stercoribus vel auium vel murium plene: corporalia vero nigra et feculenta, indumentaque sacerdotalia lacerate; et cuncta, ut sic dicam, deturpata. Ecclesiastici quoque viri, Christiani ministri, a potentibus et popularibus contemptui habentur etc. ... .Quot insuper scurrilia verba, sincopationes omissionesgue in orationibus et Divino officio!” And the same humiliating view is satirically presented in the Colyn Cloute of John Skelton, poet-laureate in the early years of Henry VIII, and himself for some time a parochial clergyman. The whole poem (ed. Dyce, I. 311–360) is a fearless onslaught on corruptions then prevalent in the Church, friars and bishops included: e.g.
“And howe when ye gyue orders
In your prouinciall borders,
As at Sitientes [the first word of the Introit of the Mass on the Saturday before Passion Sunday]
Some are insufficientes,
Some parum sapientes,
Some nihil intelligentes,
Some valde negligentes
Some nullum sensum habentes,
But bestiall and vntaught;
But whan thei haue ones caught
Dominus vobiscum by the hede,
Than renne they in euery stede [place],
God wot, with dronken nolles [heads];
Yet take they cure of soules,
And woteth neuer what thei rede,
Paternoster, Ave, nor Crede;
Construe not worth a whystle
Nether Gospell nor Pystle;
Theyr mattyns madly sayde,
Nothynge deuoutly prayed;
Theyr lernynge is so small
Theyr prymes and houres fall
And lepe out of theyr lyppes
Lyke sawdust or drye chippes.
I speke not nowe of all
But the moost part in generall.]
On the other hand, it is quite obvious from the records* of the sixteenth century, that the Reformation was unable to effect an instantaneous change in these particulars. It produced a bright succession of noble-hearted pastors who retained their Christian fervour and integrity amid a crooked and rapacious generation: yet, regarded as a whole, the ministers of Reformed communities, though less obnoxious to the censures and abhorrence of their flocks, continued to be worldly-minded, and as such were held in general disrepute. England, for example, still abounded with pluralists,** who fattened on the fruits of three or more benefices. Absentees*** were thus made numerous in the same proportion. Many of the lay patrons whose property was charged with the support of the extruded monks, in order to save their pensions,*4 had installed them in the parish churches, for the ministry of which they were unqualified: while numbers of the smaller benefices were held by incumbents whose ignorance was only exceeded by their want of earnestness and sympathy with their parishioners. Generally speaking, therefore, the social position of ordinary ecclesiastics was lamentably depressed. As in the period just preceding the Reformation, their character was lowered in the eyes of laymen by concubinage and unchastity, so now they felt themselves degraded, in a different form, by ill-assorted alliances. Marriage with ecclesiastics was long deemed censurable, or at least equivocal,*5 and hence the fear of rejection in the higher circles of society impelled the clergyman to seek companionship in quarters where the female mind was wanting in delicacy, elevation, and intelligence. Some tokens of improvement had, however, grown more visible in England with the progress of the sixteenth century. The clerics had more frequently graduated at the universities, and were less wretched in their social status. The lay impropriators, having found at length that ministers who are inordinately poor are often, in the same proportion, noisy and disaffected, were less open to the charge of arrogance and rapacity. Popular contempt had also been succeeded by a greater measure of respect and reverence. The number of pluralists and nonresidents was considerably diminished; and if the force of Whitgift’s administration*6 had not been weakened by internal discord, and resisted by the scruples of the Puritanic faction, it is not unlikely that the clerics of the Church of England would have risen at once into the social rank, and been invested with the influence, which they ultimately attained.
*[See abundant evidence from the contemporary pulpit collected in Haweis, pp. 63 sq. One of these passages may be taken as a summary of the whole: “The churches are full of Jeroboam priests – I mean the very refuse of the people, in whom is no manner of worthiness, but such as their greedy Latrones, Patrones I would say, allow of – I mean their worthy paying for it; and then a quare impedit against the bishop that shall deny him institution” (p. 72).]
**[Among other evidence we find Fagius and Bucer writing with considerable bitterness on this subject to their continental friends (Gieseler, III. ii. pp. 19, 20 ed. Bonn). The former observes: “Interim tamen habent magnas, multas et pingues praebendas, et sunt magni domini: satis esse putant, in conviviis et colloquiis posse aliquid de Evangelio nugari, captiosas et curiosas quaestiunculas movere, cui vitio video Anglicam gentem admodum obnoxiam.”]
***[The following extract from a letter of the bishop of Carlisle [Best], to Cecil, written in 1563, is one specimen of the disastrous consequences: “By the absence of the Deane of Carlill, Mr. Doctor Smyth, their churche goeth to decay: their wodes almost destroide, a great parte of the livings under color conveyed to their kynsmen, themselves takyng the profitts, and that for three or four score years, their statutes appointing but onlie twenty-one. Where for reparations is allowed yerlie a hundred pounds, there nothyng done. No residence kept; no accompts; the prebendaries turning all to their oune gayne; which when I go about to reforme in my visitation, can take no place, because they are confederate together, and the losses their oune. Three of them are unlearned, and the fourth unzealous. Breeflie the city is decaed by them, and God’s truth sclanderyd”: Queen Elizabeth and her Times (original letters), ed. Wright, I. 149, Lond. 1838.]
*4[Thus Bucer complains (as above p. 382, n. 5): “Et primores quidem regni multis parochiis praefecerunt eos, qui in coenobiis fuerunt, ut pensione eis persolvenda se liberarent, qui sunt indoctissimi, et ad sacrum ministerium ineptissimi”: cf. J. J. Blunt’s Reform. p. 163.]
*5[Cf. Haweis, p. 77, who remarks with justice, “The queen grossly insulted the primate’s wife, after accepting her hospitality; her neighbours at Worcester behaved in the same way to the wife of bishop Sandys. The wife of a martyred bishop was living at the time in extreme poverty.”]
*6[A statistical return from the different dioceses of England and Wales in 1603 enables us to speak with some precision on this subject (Haweis, pp. 306, 307). The number of parishes in both provinces was then 8806; the number of ecclesiastics doubly beneficed, 801; the number of persons licenced to preach 4793. The same table informs us how many of the parishes were “impropriate,” and how many of the clergy were non-graduates. The aggregate number of Recusants (Romish and Reformed) in both provinces was 87,014.]
But while the issues of the Reformation were thus favourable as a whole to the diffusion of a higher order of intelligence; while, in spite of serious drawbacks and reverses, which had been entailed on the great movement by the scandals and immorality of the times preceding, it was elevating the standard of religion, banishing a multitude of abject superstitions,* and expanding all the faculties and energies of man, its operation, in a different province of his being, was no less powerful and remarkable. It changed the character of his devotion, making worship far more simple, rational, and profound, and, at the same time, furnishing the worshipper of ordinary intelligence with a number of fresh auxiliaries, superior both in tone and in matter to the manuals of the former age. The Mediaeval “Horae” was converted into the Reformed “Orarium” [See on this subject Mr. Clay’s “Preface” to the Elizabethan Private Prayers, ed. P. S.]: and of other English books, which had been given to the public prior to 1595, more than eighty are classified under the general head of “Praiers”.** Some of these collections of devotional exercises embrace nearly all the states, conditions, and emergencies of human life. The same spirit was also strongly manifested in numerous volumes of sacred poetry that issued from the English press in the Elizabethan period.*** Hymns and metrical psalms had now, indeed, become the popular vehicles of private and public worship; the new impulse being given by the courtier Clement Marot;*4 whose embellished version of parts of the Psalter, after winning for itself the patronage of the French aristocracy, was eagerly adopted, in 1553, by Calvin, for the public worship of the Genevese, and even grew into a model for religious versifiers in some other countries. [On the English versions, see Warton, III. 146–163; and Procter, Prayer Book, pp. 174 sq.] But the primary aim and leading element of public worship at this period was instruction in the principles of Christianity, rather than aesthetic and unreasoning devotion. The prayers were now translated into tongues “understanded of the people”; and the place of the officiating minister was, at the same time, so regulated, that the worshippers might listen to the supplications which he offered, and intelligently follow him throughout the services.*5 The generation had gone by, when it was deemed enough for Christians to be present at a solemn and imposing spectacle. The clergyman was now the leader of the people, not their agent or their substitute. In some, indeed, of the extreme reformers, there was cause for apprehensions of an opposite character. The principle of reverence had been so far shaken, and the gratification of the thirst for homiletic teaching was so far predominant, that offices of worship now began to be relatively disparaged:*6 yet, until the close of the sixteenth century, all communities of Christians retained at least the rudiments of a liturgic form of service, or, in other words, were not dependent solely on extemporaneous effusions of the individual minister.
*[Many of these, however, lingered both in the Reformed and in the unreformed communities. A belief in witchcraft, for example, still prevailed in almost every quarter. See a vast collection of charms &c. Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft, Lond. 1584: the collector, however, himself denying that the Evil Spirit has any power to control the course of nature. Both the Romanist and Reformer seemed anxious now and then to elicit a knowledge of the unseen, and a corroboration of the truth of their special doctrines, from persons who were held to be under the tyranny of Satan: see on the one side Sully’s Mémoires (IV. 498 sq., Paris, 1827), where a Jesuit is the questioner, and on the other, The ends and last confession of mother Waterhouse (1566), who, to the satisfaction of her prosecutors, acknowledged that Satan would not allow her to pray “in Englyshe but at all times in Laten”. Several of the London ministers, in like manner, were deluded in 1574 by “a maid which counterfeited herself to be possessed by the devil”: cf. Parker’s letter to Cecil in Queen Elizabeth and her Times, as above, I. 509. The terrors, generally excited by the approach of 1588, “the year of marvels,” “the grand climacteris of the world,” are sketched in Smedley’s Reform. in France, II. 229 sq.]
**[Preface to Bull’s Christian Prayers and Holy Meditations (ed. P. S.), p. iv.; which is a favourable specimen of that class of writings. Many of the Prayers are from the older English Primers, others from the Excitationes animi in Deum of Ludovicus Vives, translated and enlarged by Bradford. A fair specimen of practical and devotional theology in England is A Progress of Piety, by John Norden (ed. P. S.), an Elizabethan layman.]
***[Warton remarks (Engl. Poetry, III. 403, ed. 1840) that “more poetry was written in the single reign of Elizabeth than in the two preceding centuries.” Of this no inconsiderable proportion was religious: see specimens in the two parts of Sacred Poetry, published by the Park. Soc. in 1845, and Warton, III. 146 sq.]
*4[Warton, Ibid. III. 142. Beza took part in the completion of the work, when the whole Psalter was published at Strasburg in 1545.]
*5[Thus, in the Reform. Eccl. Hassiae (1526), p. 9, ed. Credner, it is enjoined with this object that public worship shall not be celebrated in the choir, but in the body of the church; yet in the English Prayer Book of 1552, notwithstanding Bucer’s dislike of chancels, the service was to be conducted in that part of the church, chapel, or chancel where the people may best hear; and in 1559, in “the accustomed place ... except it shall be otherwise determined by the ordinary.”]
*6[Lord Bacon (Of Church Controversies, Works, III. 145, Lond. 1765) saw reason to complain of these extravagances: “We see wheresoever, in a manner, they find in the Scriptures the Word spoken of, they expound it of preaching: they have made it, in a manner, of the essence of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to have a sermon precedent: they have, in a sort, annihilated the use of Liturgies and forms of Divine service, although the house of God be denominated of the principal, domus orationis, a house of prayer, and not a house of preaching,” &c.: cf. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. Bk. V. ch. XXI. sq , and an account of the Puritan substitutes for the Prayer Book in Procter, pp. 83 sq.]
In the Swiss communion, and still more among the English Puritans who sympathized entirely with the doctors of Scotland and Geneva, the leaning was in the direction of extreme simplicity, or rather nudity, of ceremonial. [See above.] The ear, and not the eye, was recognized as the great channel of religious edification. An idea had been imbibed and fostered, half-consciously in many instances, that grace being always communicated from God directly to the human spirit, we are not to look for it in connection with earthly media, and therefore that outward rites, except for purposes of order and decorum, are to be eschewed as hindrances and clogs, instead of being welcomed as so many helps and incentives to devotion. Guided by this sweeping principle, and recoiling from all contact with the ancient services, which they had felt to be in many ways unscriptural and unedifying, Zwingli and the German-speaking Swiss reduced the ceremonial worship of the sanctuary as far as possible, retaining “a few simple and moderate rites, in perfect harmony with Holy Scripture.”* They drew up a new form of baptism** and anxious, above all things, to extrude the thought of sacrifice from the Eucharist, proceeded to replace the Mediaeval ordinances by a love feast,*** pleading the example of the primitive Christians. Pictures of all kinds were banished from the churches, on the ground that they were “idols,” or had ministered to “idolatry”. Organs too were silenced, in 1527, from a notion that the use of them could be no longer reconciled with apostolic practice.*4
*[The following extract from the second Helvetic Confession (in Niemeyer, pp. 530, 531) is a good specimen of their line of argument: “Veteri populo traditae sunt quondam caeremoniae, ut paedagogia quaedam, iis qui sub lege veluti sub paedagogo et tutore quodam custodiebantur, sed, adveniente Christo liberatore, legeque sublata, fideles sub lege amplius non sumus (Rom. 8), disparueruntque caeremoniae. ... Proinde Judaismum videremur reducere et restituere, si in ecclesia Christi, ad morem veteris ecclesiae, caeremonias ritusque multiplicaremus. ... Quanto magis accedit cumulo rituum in Ecclesia, tanto magis detrahitur non tantum libertati Christianae, sed et Christo et Ejus fidei: dum vulgus ea quaerit in ritibus, quae quaereret in solo Dei Filio Christo per fidem. Sufficiunt itaque piis pauci, moderati, simplices, nec alieni a Verbo Dei ritus.” The same feeling prompted Zwingli to depreciate the special observance of the Lord’s day: “Fidelis enim dominus est et sabbati”: Opp. I. 332, ed. 1829. Luther, on the other hand, advocated such observance, but treated the festival as one of human or ecclesiastical institution: “non est immutanda temere haec innoxia veterum consuetudo jam recepta.” See the whole exposition in his Catechism. Major, Part I. Praecept. III.]
**[See the earliest form drawn up by Leo Judae (1523) in Daniel’s Codex Liturg. Eccl. Reform. pp. 106 sq., and Zwingli’s own form (1525), Ibid. pp. 112 sq.]
***[Above. Hence his followers boasted that while the Lutherans with their German mass, their German psalms, their church music and old ceremonies, were introducing a new phase of popery, (“zu eines nüwen oder veränderten Babstthums Anfang angericht”), Zwingli had abolished all such things, “die ersten Kilchen wieder ze bringen”: quoted in Gieseler, III. i. p. 167, n. 93 (ed. Bonn. V. 324. ed. Edinb.).]
*4[See passages in Daniel, as above, Praef. p. 18. Oswald Myconius, in like manner, had asked some years before: “Organa vero, quid aliud quam hominum mentes jam in Deum erectas dementant?” Ad Sacerdotes Helvetiae, p. 16, Tiguri, 1524: see also the Reformatio Eccl. Hassiae, p. 7.]
Past abuses may have, doubtless, tended to propel men, by the force of natural revulsion, into this excessive scrupulosity: for it was now felt, in various parts of Christendom, that church music, such, at least, as had been current in the previous age, was so fantastic and so void of feeling, as to be no longer compatible with genuine devotion. In the Roman Church itself, the choral services were on the very point of being interdicted,* owing to this scandalous vitiation of the art of music, when the genius of Palestrina rescued it from its degeneracy, and made it one of the most powerful and pathetic instruments for heightening the tone of worship. But the sternness and severity of the Swiss reformers could not tolerate the use of artistic auxiliaries. The singing, even of metrical hymns, was long unsanctioned in the ordinary congregations of Zürich:** the conviction there being that Christians meet together only for the purposes of prayer and preaching. These, with public confession of sins which followed after the sermon, and with occasional administration of the Eucharist, which took place at separate congregations six times in the year,*** completed the monotonous cycle of their public worship. When, however, the main characteristics of the Church of Zürich were afterwards transmitted to Geneva,*4 the services, in the latter place, were somewhat more diversified: for, in the Calvinistic provinces of Switzerland, as well as in France, in Scotland, and the Netherlands, although organs had been silenced, [Cf. Daniel, as before, pp. 18–22.] several hymns in metre [Above: and Richter, I. 347.] were appointed to be sung at every congregation. The same ideas, we saw above, are traceable in all the Hessian churches at an early period; they eventually predominated also in the troubled towns of the Palatinate.
*[Ranke, Popes, I. 509, 510: cf. above, p. 279. One member of the commission nominated by Pius IV to determine whether music was to be permitted in the churches or not, was Carlo Borromeo; the choral service as then performed seeming more calculated “ą chatouiller les oreilles qu’ą élever l’esprit ą Dieu”: Godeau, Vie de S. Charles Borromeo, p. 120.]
**[“Morem cantandi multis de causis Ecclesia Tigurina non recepit, tempus sacris destinatum coetibus duntaxat auscultationi Verbi Dei et precibus impendens”: Lavater (as before, p. 347, n. 3), p. 42. At the date however of the second Helvetic Confession (1562), the use of music was contemplated, or not absolutely condemned: “Cantus, quem Gregorianum nuncupant, plurima habet absurda: unde rejectus est merito a nostris et pluribus ecclesiis. Si ecclesiae sunt, quae orationem fidelem legitimamque habent, cantum autem nullum habent, condemnari non debent. Non enim canendi commoditatem omnes habent ecclesiae. Ac certum est, ex testimoniis vetustatis, ut cantus usum fuisse vetustissimum in orientalibus ecclesiis, ita sero tandem receptum esse ab occidentalibus.”]
***[See Lavater, as before, p. 23. Before these solemnities he adds (p. 52), “habentur sermones ad populum de dignitate et usu Eucharistiae: item quo pacto se quisque ad percipiendas sacras has epulae praeparare debeat.”]
*4[See Les Ordonnances Ecclésiastiques de l’Eglise de GenŹve (1541), in Richter, Kirchen-ordnungen, I. 342 sq. The holy Communion was then administered four times a year, on the Sunday after Christmas, at Easter, on Whitsunday, and the first Sunday in September.]
Meanwhile, a very different spirit had pervaded all the Lutheran regulations for conducting public worship. “On ceremonies,” wrote Melanchthon, [Works, II. 193, ed. Bretschn. He was referring to the passage in Zwingli’s Ratio Fidei, quoted above, p. 106, n. 3.] “Zwingli has expressed himself in the true Swiss fashion, that is, most barbarously, in wishing to have them all abolished.” The Saxons also, it is true, were adverse to those rites of Mediaevalism which clashed with the express injunctions of Holy Scripture; but wherever any usage of the Church was free from such objection,* they as uniformly pleaded either for its absolute adoption in their own services, or at least for its suspension in the catalogue of things indifferent. Hence the aspect of their public worship, at the death of Luther, bore in Saxony, at least, a strong resemblance to the system of the Middle Ages.** Pictures, organs, altars, and vestments, were generally retained.*** The new Baptismal Office [See above.] on the one side, and the German Mass book [Printed from the first edition in Richter’s Kirchen-ordnungen, I. 35 sq.] on the other, were avowedly nothing more than simplifications and corrections of corresponding Latin services, with which the Saxon people had been familiar from their childhood. As one instance of this predilection for the usages of former times, the custom of elevation*4 in the Eucharist was not itself relinquished till 1543. Luther also was constant in his advocacy of music, painting, and architecture, not only as considered in themselves, but in their application to religious objects. “I am not one of those,” he writes, [Works, ed. Walch, X. 1723: and cf. Daniel, Codex Liturg. Eccl. Lutheranae, Pref. pp. 14, 15.] “who fancy that the Gospel has superseded or placed its ban upon the fine arts, whatever some misguided spirits may have represented. On the contrary, I would fain see all the arts, and music more especially, devoted to the service of Him who has given and created them.”
*[Above. Daniel, admitting that Luther has indulged in violent phraseology with reference to many of the church traditions, shews that such extravagances were only occasional and inoperative: “Sed quae Lutherus, effervescens in dicendo, stomacho saepe iracundiaque vehementius ebulliit, in Cinglio ac Calvino circumspectio et accurata consideratio excogitavit, subtilis et frigida argumentatio probavit, peracre judicium pronuntiavit. Quibus causis factum est, ut Lutherus cultum Romanum longa consuetudine corruptum et depravatum reformare studeret et corrigere, Reformati [i.e. Zwinglians and Calvinists] abolere gestirent et obliterare, ne odor quidem ejus relinqueretur.” Praef. as above, pp. 3, 4.]
**[The following is Luther’s own version of the matter, in April, 1541 (De Wette, V. 340): “Es sind, Gottlob, unsere Kirchen in den Neutralibus so zugericht, dass ein Laie oder Walh oder Spanier, der unsere Predigt nicht verstehen könnte, wenn er sähe unser Messe, Chor, Orgeln, Glocken, Caseln, etc., würde er müssen sagen, es wäre ein recht päpstisch Kirche, und kein Unterschied oder gar wenig gegen die, so sie selbs unter einander haben.” Gieseler, who quotes this passage (III. p. 402, n. 20), traces the later modifications in the service partly to the Adiaphoristic controversy (above).]
***[These peculiarities did not escape the keen eye of bishop Gardiner. Speaking of images, he writes in a letter to Ridley: “Wherein Luther (that pulled away all other regard to them) strove stoutly, and obtained, as I have seen in divers of the churches in Germany of his reformation, that they should (as they do) still stand”: Ridley’s Works, ed. P. S. pp. 496, 497.]
*4[In the Deutsche Messe the reason alleged for retaining it is “dass es fein mit dem deutschen Sanctus stimmet, und bedeut, dass Christus befohlen hat, sein zu gedenken. Dann gleichwie das Sacrament wird leiblich aufgehaben, und doch drunter Christus Leib und Blut nicht wird gesehen, also würd durch das Wort der Predigt seiner gedacht und erhaben, dazu mit Empfahung des Sacraments bekannt und hochgeehrt.” On the final reasons for the change, see Melanchthon’s letter (June 18, 1544): Works, V. 420.]
In Lutheran churches, a distinction had been clearly drawn between the homiletic and liturgic parts of public worship, and exalted views there taken of the Presence in the Holy Communion led to the continual celebration of it, and invested all the ritual adjuncts of the service with peculiar dignity.* A similar remark is applicable to another class of regulations. In Switzerland, although ecclesiastical festivals were nominally observed,** regard was seldom had by preachers in their choice of subjects to the order of the Christian seasons: while the Lutheran church conformed almost punctiliously to old arrangements,*** moderating, it is true, the number of festivities, but clinging to the cycle of epistles and gospels, and adapting sermons then delivered to the thoughts which had been naturally suggested by the fresh recurrence of particular celebrations.
*[See the Deutsche Messe, passim. In addition to double service every day, three services were provided on the Sunday, the holy Communion being always celebrated at the second.]
**[Daniel, Cod. Lit. Eccl. Reform. Praef. pp. 23–26. The number was gradually reduced to five or six festivals in honour of our blessed Lord.]
***[“Accepit igitur ut pretiosum _________ ab antiqua ecclesia annum ecclesiasticum, ita tamen ut et deminueretur festivitatum numerus ac rescinderetur, quae originem suam et quasi sedem non haberent in Scripturae sacrae historic sed in apocryphis et Legendis. Porro laudanda est doctrinae perpetuitas et constantia, quae conspicitur in veterum Pericoparum comprobatione. Nam annus ecclesiae cum pericopis suis tam arcte cohaeret, ut alterum sine altero vix manere et perseverare possit: dein apud Lutheranos pericopa adjungit festivitati suae auctoritatem et fidem, ne _______ videatur. Non recedit denique Lutheri ecclesia, nisi articuli fidei qui vocantur primarii ac fundamentales alia jubeant, ab laudabili antiquorum consuetudine”: Daniel, Eccl. Luther. Praef. pp. 18, 19, where a full account is added of the Lutheran holy days and seasons.]
It is, however, in the service books of England, that the old materials of public worship, and the usages of ancient Christendom, have been most delicately criticized, and most extensively preserved. The various offices of the Church were then translated into the vernacular language; doctrines inconsistent with the Word of God and the received interpretation of antiquity were carefully weeded out; some points of ritual which had proved offensive to the English taste,* as being too luxuriant or too histrionic, were reduced into sobriety; expressions capable of superstitious or profane meanings were corrected and replaced by others more conducive to religious fervour and the edification of the multitude: yet no wish was manifested to renounce communion with past ages by repudiating hymns and creeds and prayers, the chastened collect and impassioned litany of our forefathers in Christ. Such of them as needed reformation were reformed and expurgated; they were not contemned, anathematized, and cast away. The gloomy and severe, the overscrupulous and revolutionary spirits were reminded in a Preface, found in all editions of the Prayer Book, that some degree of ceremonial is absolutely necessary: and if they think much that any of the old do remain, and would rather have all devised anew, then such men granting some ceremonies convenient to be had, surely where the old may be well used, there they cannot reasonably reprove the old, only for their age, without bewraying of their own folly”.**
*[While thus modifying the ceremonial worship of England, the compilers of the Prayer Book state expressly, “In these our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing but to our own people only: For we think it convenient that every country should use such ceremonies as they shall think best to the setting forth of God’s honour and glory, and to the reducing of the people to a most perfect and godly living, without error or superstition; and that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in men’s ordinances it often chanceth diversely in divers countries.”]
**[Cf. Hooker, Eccl. Pol. V. xxviii. § 1, who remarks, in meeting the charge that our Liturgy is too near the Papists’, and too different from that of other reformed churches: “Where Rome keepeth that which is ancienter and better, others whom we much more affect leaving it for newer and changing it for worse; we had rather follow the perfections of them whom we like not, than in defects resemble them whom we love.”]
In the earlier stages of the Reformation, the prevailing modes of thought, with reference to the Mediaeval usages, resembled what we have remarked in Lutheran communities, [This relationship, indeed, was urged in condemnation of the chief reformers by the Zwinglian party: see above.] and the bulk of the English people, conscious of the close affinity between the old and new ritual, cheerfully conformed to the doctrinal modifications then established. [See Dodd’s account, Ch. Hist. II. 28 sq.] But when Hooper had returned from his retreat in Zürich,* fascinated by the Zwinglian usages, and when misgivings of a similar kind were freely ventilated in the neighbourhood of the court,** and, under certain modifications, infused into the mind of some of those ecclesiastical dignitaries who were ardently devoted to the cause of reformation, the ruling spirit was considerably changed. Fresh projects were devised in order to accomplish a more thorough simplification of public worship, and the result was a revision of the English service books. No disposition, it is true, was manifested by the prelates to reduce the English ritual into conformity with the Helvetic: such a step would have involved an utter discerption of it, or rather its annihilation; but the growth of scruples, touching the propriety of particular features in the office for the Holy Communion, impelled one section of the church authorities to countenance the project of revision. It is highly probable, that some of the continental refugees, who symbolized more fully with the Swiss than with the Saxon theologians, may have stimulated this new measure. [See above.] It is also probable, that the forms of worship*** they now celebrated in London, may have here and there supplied a model for the imitation of their English neighbours. But, however this may be, a series of long discussions and delays resulted in the authorizing of the second Prayer Book of king Edward, by which the aspect of public worship was materially altered through the further pruning of the ceremonial. The church walls, the windows and the niches, had been purged already of all figures which were held to favour superstition or idolatry; [Above.] many “ornaments”*4 had been defaced; some crosses had been broken down; the shrines containing relics had been plundered, and vessels for the celebration of the mass abstracted by unauthorized rapacity,*5 or surrendered to the crown. The stone altars*6 also, thus dismantled, had been subsequently replaced by wooden structures, standing table-wise, and sometimes actually transferred, like a domestic table, into the body of the church. [See Maitland, Reformation, pp. 303 sq.] But on the appearance of the new service books, the changes went still further. All the Mediaeval vestments were authoritatively proscribed, with the exception of a surplice for the priest, and a rochet for the bishop at the Holy Communion; while the place of the minister, who before officiated always in the choir, was now to be determined by the size and other circumstances of the church, at the discretion of the ordinary. As might have been anticipated from the previous state of feeling, the extreme Reformers were in the habit of overstraining these concessions. Chancels*7 they regarded with peculiar aversion. The white vestment [Ibid. p. 479, where the preacher adds: “It is rather the habit and vesture of Aaron and the Gentiles than of the ministers of Christ.”] seemed irreconcilable with apostolical simplicity, and they accordingly varied from the rubric, by occasionally substituting in its place their ordinary gown [See Haweis, p. 116.] at the celebration of the Lord’s supper. Bread, wine, a table, and a fair table cloth,*8 were all that Hooper and his party were desirous of preserving; their object being to retain “the perfection of Christ’s institution,” and to do nothing which “had not God’s Word to bear it”. [Ibid. p. 335.]
*[Above. In an Epistle, dated Sept. 6, 1550, and prefixed to his Sermons upon Jonas, “Early Writings,” P. S. p. 440, after urging the king and his council not to be terrified by the prospect of “sedition and tumults,” he proceeds: “Most gracious king and noble councillors, as ye have taken away the mass from the people, so take from them her feathers also, the altar, vestments and such like as apparelled her; and let the holy communion be decked with the holy ceremonies that the high and wise Priest, Christ, decked and apparelled her in first of all.” If the bishops should prove refractory, he recommended the royal council to “do with them as the mariners did with Jonas” (p. 442).]
**[Hooper preached the sermons above mentioned before the king and council on the Wednesdays during Lent in 1550; Ponet (Poynet) preaching on the Fridays. When the course was finished the two preachers were respectively offered the bishoprics of Gloucester and Rochester: cf. above, where attention is directed to Cranmer’s inflexibility in opposition to Hooper.]
***[See above; “Comparatively little of the Prayer Book,” as Professor Blunt observed, “is of the date of the Reformation itself: for though some foreign Liturgies of the day did certainly supply a contingent – these, however, be it observed, not themselves compiled irrespectively of the older ones – still the staple of the Prayer Book was ancient, most ancient, lost in antiquity”: Sermons, p. 95, Camb. 1850.]
*4[Brokes (Brokys), intruding bp. of Gloucester, who preached before Queen Mary in 1553, alluded to what he considered a general decay of religions feeling, and attributed it to “the defacing of churches, in spoiling their goods and ornaments, the breaking down altars, throwing down crosses, casting out of images, the burning of tried holy relics, ... change in altars, change in placing, change in gesture, change in apparel” (quoted by Haweis, p. 115).]
*5[“Besides the profanation of churches,” writes Strype (Cranmer, II. viii. pp. 89, 90, ed. Eccl. H. S.), “there prevailed another evil, relating also to churches, viz. that the utensils and ornaments of these sacred places were spoiled, embezzled, and made away, partly by the churchwardens, and partly by other parishioners. Whether the cause were, that they would do that themselves, which they imagined would ere long be done by others, viz, robbing of churches; which it may be, those that bore an ill will to the Reformation might give out, to render it the more odious. But certain it is, that it now became more or less practiced all the nation over, to sell or take away chalices, crosses of silver, bells and other ornaments.” He then gives a letter (April 30, 1548) from the council to the archbishop requiring him to inhibit the practice.]
*6[Above. Ridley’s exhortation was that, “for the sake of godly unity, the curates, churchwardens and questmen, should set up the Lord’s board after the form of an honest table, decently covered, in such place of the quire or chancel as shall be thought most meet by their discretion and agreement, so that the ministers with the communicants may have their place separated from the rest of the people; and to take down and abolish all other by-altars or tables”: Works, p. 320, ed. P. S.]
*7[Bucer and Hooper, much as they had been opposed on other subjects, were agreed on this: see the Censura, c. 1, in Bucer’s Scripta Anglicana, p. 457. Hooper’s theory is as follows (Early Writings, pp. 491, 492): “But this I would wish that the magistrates should put both the preacher, minister and the people in one place, and shut up the partition called the chancel, that separateth the congregation of Christ one from the other, as though the veil and partition of the Temple in the old law yet should remain in the Church; where, indeed, all figures and types ended in Christ.”]
*8[Speaking of the outward preparation of the minister, Hooper declares (Ibid. p. 534): “If he have bread, wine, a table and a fair table cloth, let him not be solicitous nor careful for the rest, seeing they be no things brought in by Christ, but by the popes; unto whom, if the king’s majesty and his honourable council have good conscience, they must be restored again. And great shame it is for a noble king, emperor, or magistrate, contrary unto God’s Word, to detain and keep from the devil or his minister any of their goods or treasure, as the candles, vestments, crosses, altars! For if they be kept in the Church as things indifferent, at length they will be maintained as things necessary.”]
In the reign of Mary, which had for a time been checking the development of these ideas, all things were reduced, as far as possible, into their former places; while the elevation of Elizabeth to the throne was calculated to produce a mixed effect on the appearance of the English churches, and the character of public worship. Her chief advisers manifested little or no sympathy with continental theologians, or at least in ritual matters, as in doctrine, sided rather with the Lutheran [Above.] than with the Swiss Reformers. Hence, although the interdicts of Edward were reissued so as to displace a large majority of the altars, and eject all images and paintings that were deemed propitious to the reign of superstition, the old vestments* were now authorized afresh and other changes introduced, which plainly indicate a leaning towards the position assumed by the Reformers in the first Edwardine Prayer Book.
*[Cf. above. The Elizabethan Puritans at first objected most to “the cap, the surplice and the tippet,” the use of which alone appears to have been pressed by the authorities: but all the other vestments were equally prescribed in the new edition of the Prayer Book and the Act of Uniformity. Hence in An Answere for the Tyme, put forth in 1566, [copy, with other kindred tracts, in the Camb. Univ. Lib. G, VI. 84] the writer sums up his grievances as follows: “Cope, surplese, starch-bread [wafers], gospelers, pistlers, kneling at communion, crossing at baptisme, baptisme of [by] women, cap, tippet and gowne: Item; by authoritie of parliament, albes, alters, vestments, &c. these few things are more then may well be borne.”]
Yet, owing to the scruples generated in the school of Hooper, and still more to new antipathies which some of the Marian exiles had brought back with them from Switzerland, the English Church continued to be torn by hostile factions,* which allowed her little rest for the remainder of the century. On the one side, public worship was conducted so as to exhibit principles like those of Parker, Whitgift, Hooker, and Saravia; on the other, it was made to harmonize with the ideas of Whittingham, of Cartwright, and of Walter Travers. Here the feeling was, that innovations had been carried to the utmost verge of Christian prudence: there, that all which had been hitherto accomplished should be welcomed only as the starting point of more decisive measures, or, in other words, the Reformation must itself be thoroughly reformed. The disposition, on the one side, was to commune freely with the past, to recognize the visible continuity of the Church as an organic system, even where its life was paralyzed by grievous errors and corruptions, and to estimate alike the excellencies and demerits of our Christian predecessors in a large and generous spirit, from a consciousness that, where the tares had been most thickly scattered, wheat continued to grow up among them, and repay the culture of the Husbandman. Whereas, the rival theory of the Church denied this visible continuity, or, at the most, concluded that religion had for ages found its only shelter from the violence of Antichrist, in the recesses of some Alpine valley, or the bosom of some persecuted sect, – conclusions which impressed their author with the deepest hatred of all Mediaeval forms of worship as connected his mind with the ascendancy of anti-christian influences. On the one side it was felt that church authority, at least as to its spiritual properties, had been transmitted through a line of bishops, who were therefore specially entrusted with the exposition of Christian truth, as well as with the conservation of Christian order: on the other, such authority was held to be the voluntary gift of each congregation; and accordingly the favourite model of government was that which left no room for prelates, by investing all the ministers with equal rank and jurisdiction. Like differences are often traceable in their mode of handling some of the more vital principles of Christianity, though these divergencies were never marked so strongly in the sixteenth as in the following century. With lax ideas respecting the dogmatic statements of the oecumenical councils, such as we have seen in Zwingli and in Calvin, also grew a tendency to innovate upon the ancient terminology of the Church in speaking even of the Holy Trinity, and the Incarnation of our blessed Lord; while the profound relationship which many of the opposite school had traced between this latter doctrine, rightly apprehended, and the orthodox view respecting the efficacy of the sacraments, was overlooked, if not entirely contradicted, in the writings of the English Puritans.
*[“Descenderant Angli in partes: aliis cordi erat, ut, servata apostolicae ecclesiae atque Anglicane cohaerentia et antiquae disciplinae virtutibus recto aestimatis, Anglia Christiana, non in Romana sed in catholica religione constanter perseveraret; alii impetum suum convertebant in majorum instituta totamque Angliam Calvin vindicare studebant.” Daniel, Codex Liturg. Eccl. Reform. p. 295. He then adds in a note: “Quo factum est ut Anglicana Ecclesia, Rebeccae consimilis, in utero ferat prolem gemellam, sed valde disparem atque pugnacem. Et necessitate quadam versabatur in controversia ac contentione usque dum eventum habuerit vaticinium: ‘Duae gentes in utero tuo et duo populi ex ventre tuo dividentur, populusque populum superabit et major serviet minori.’”]
But notwithstanding these intellectual conflicts and this busy strife of tongues, itself, with all its melancholy consequences, a plain index of reviving thought, of manliness and Christian fervour, truth, in the more personal and practical bearings of it, went victoriously upon its mission: it continued to exalt, invigorate, and humanize: it furnished nurture to a multitude of thirsting spirits; it was ever the support, the joy, the solace of the simple hearted and uncontroversial. Many a parish in the distant nooks of England, which had never been disturbed by vestment troubles, nor the boisterous sermons of some disaffected churchman, was administered by pastors whose prime object was the edification of the souls committed to their keeping, and the glory of the Lord, to whom they must hereafter give account of all their Christian talents. Many a church, despite the outbreaks of irreverence on the one side, or the vestiges of superstition on the other, had been cleansed and garnished with affectionate care, and won the praises of the passing traveller by the chastened beauty of its ornaments. And many a household, tended by such pastors, and excited in the way of holiness by worshipping in such well-ordered sanctuaries, became the favourite haunt of angels, and the centre of religious blessing to the neighbourhood: their sons grew up like the young plants, their daughters were like polished corners of the temple.
Chapter X – Growth of the Church.
Those agencies which operated so powerfully in narrowing the field of general study had prevented the expansion of the Church of Christ beyond her ancient limits. There was now indeed a keener and more stirring sense of the importance of the Gospel, and the vastness of the human family for whose illumination it was promulgated: but the various sections of the Western Church were so completely occupied until the middle of the sixteenth century with their own domestic conflicts, with promoting the purification of their doctrine or establishing fresh bulwarks for their self-defense, that nearly all the missions of this period were “home missions,” instead of being aimed at the conversion of the heathen.
The miserable remnant of the Jews who lingered in the Spanish peninsula, were subjected, as in the former period, [See Middle Age, pp. 318–320.] to most brutal persecutions: and in Germany the hatred of their race was no less deep and universal, being stimulated, more especially, by machinations of the rude Dominicans at Cologne. [The members of this order, satirized so mercilessly in the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum, had even the ingenuity to invent a legal authority for their persecution of the Jews. They declared that it was necessary to examine how far the Jews had deviated from the Old Testament, which the emperor was fully entitled to do, since their nation had formally acknowledged before the judgment seat of Pilate the authority of the imperial majesty of Rome”: Ranke, Reform. s. 260.]
The menacing attitude of the Turks was, on the contrary, a source of daily terror to the western potentates, [See above.] and the necessity of wrestling with their armies on the battlefields of Europe had precluded all endeavours to subdue them by the peaceful weapons of the Gospel. Pious men were rather bent on praying for their ruin and confusion.* An apparent exception to this warlike policy is found in the alliance for a while cemented between Francis I, “the most Christian” monarch, and the sultan Soliman, the Magnificent; but its object was avowedly political,** intended to promote the balance of power or complicate the quarrel with the emperor by bringing in the hordes of barbarians on Germany; and accordingly, so far from leading to the extension of Christianity, it might itself be properly regarded as one symptom of religious indifferentism or of irreligious treachery to the common interests of Christendom. The followers of Islam had also, notwithstanding the terrific outbreaks of fanaticism among themselves,*** as well as their habitual hatred of the Christians, shewn occasional tendencies to modify the stern traditions of their sanguinary forefathers.
*[Thus, in the English Form of 1566, above cited, we have the following specimen: “The Turk goeth about to set up, to extol, and to magnify that wicked monster and damned soul Mahumet, above Thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, Whom we in heart believe, and with month confess to be our only Saviour and Redeemer. Wherefore awake, O Lord our God and heavenly Father, and with thy fatherly and merciful countenance look upon us Thy children, and all such Christians as are now by those most cruel enemies invaded and assaulted: overthrow and destroy Thine and our enemies,” &c. p. 535.]
**[Thus, in speaking to the Venetian ambassador, in 1535, Francis gave the following account of his policy: “I cannot deny that I wish to see the Turk appear powerful at sea; not that I am pleased with the advantages they obtain, for they are unbelievers and we Christians, but because they keep the Emperor occupied, and thereby confer greater security upon other potentates.” In Ranke’s Civil Wars &c. in France, I. 144, 145, Lond. 1852. “If,” reflects the historian, “a new epoch had once been marked by the fact that Philip the Fair [Middle Age, p. 253] exploded the institutions in which all Christendom had united for the conquest of the Holy Land, it was a second great step in the same course when Francis I even entered into alliance with the very power whose hostility was in the highest degree dangerous to Christendom.”]
***[Thus the Sultan Selim, who headed the Sunnite faction, whether Turkish subjects or otherwise, opened his war against the Persians, who are of the opposite faction (Shiites), by causing all the members of this latter party, within his territories, to be put to death in one day: Ranke, Reform, I. 249.]
At the court of Akbar, who presided over the Muhammedan empire in the north of Hindustan from 1555 to 1605, appear the representatives* of nearly all the known religions of that age, – Jews, Christians, Brahmans, and Parsees, as well as both sections of Mussulmans, the Sunnites and the Shiites. Yet none of these varieties of human thought could, either singly or compounded, satisfy the speculative mind of the Mogul. His “philosophical” advisers were triumphant, who persuaded him that Deism, represented with as much of nudity as the weakness of mankind could bear, is the religion, which alone commends itself to reason and the purer instincts of humanity; while “the means of attaining to future bliss are comprised in the following virtues, liberality, forgiveness and forbearance, chastity, devotion, temperance, fortitude, gentleness, politeness, acting so as to please God and not man, and resignation to the will of God’:** Akbar ultimately assumed the title [Ibid. pp. 254, 259.] of “God’s vicegerent,” the “Apostle and perfect Messenger”; but although the system which he organized could boast of numerous followers during his own lifetime, it soon withered when Islamism was again acknowledged as the religion of the state: and after the lapse of fifty years, no trace of it was visible.***
*[See the interesting paper by Captain Kennedy, entitled Notice respecting the Religion introduced into India by the Emperor Akbar, among the Transactions of the Literary Society of Bombay, II. 242 sq. Lond. 1820; and Manouchi’s account of Akbar in his History of the Great Mogul. It is almost certain that this emperor was at one time strongly impressed in favour of the Gospel, as presented to him by Jesuit missionaries (Hough’s Hist. of Christianity in India, II. 271 sq. Lond. 1839): but after wavering for some years, he resolved to set on foot a composite religion of which he should himself be the acknowledged head. “My people,” he says (Ibid. p. 276), “are a strange medley of Muhammadans, Idolaters, and Christians. I am resolved to bring them all to one opinion. I will join the baptism of the one, and the circumcision of the other, to the worship of Brahma. I will retain the metempsychosis, plurality of wives, and the worship of Jesus Christ. Thus compounding my religion of those points which are most agreeable to the professors of the respective sects, I shall be able to form them into one entire flock, of which I myself shall be leader and head.”]
**[Akbar’s advocate in one of the dialogues above cited argued in favour of this simple creed, from the diversities and contradictions observable in the various systems of theology. When the religion of one prophet has been embraced, and when the worship of God and the knowledge of truth has been established, according to his doctrine, another prophet arises who divulges a new doctrine and new precepts. Hence mankind become perplexed, and they know not whether to consider the first prophet a liar, or to conclude that religions must change after certain periods of time. But truth is immutable, and admits of no variation or inconsistency” (p. 257).]
***[Ibid. p. 267. “It cannot be doubted,” says Kennedy, “that its failure was occasioned principally by that pertinacity with which the Muhammadans and Hindus have at all times resisted every innovation in their respective religions.”]
Some earlier agitations* that sprang up in other realms of heathenism had synchronized still more remarkably with the reforming movement of the west; yet none of them was in the least degree attributable to Christian impulses. The Church, however, was not without her native congregations even in the distant towns and villages of India. To pass over the remains of the Nestorian and Latin missions [See Middle Age, pp. 216–218.] which had once held out the promise of evangelizing every corner of that dark and populous region, there was still the confraternity known as “Christians of St. Thomas,”** whose settlements extended for 120 Indian miles below Goa, on the coast of Malabar, and inland as far as the southernmost extremity of Hindustan: another settlement surviving on the opposite coast, at St. Thomas’s Mount, in the neighbourhood of Madras. This venerable church, retaining its connection with the Nestorian patriarch of Mosul, and numbering two hundred thousand souls, excited the amazement of the Portuguese discoverers who had left the Tagus in 1502 on a commercial enterprise. But other feelings afterwards succeeded, when the Portuguese were able to assume an attitude of independence, and converted Goa into the metropolis of their extensive empire. Instead of propagating Christianity among the heathen natives, the archbishop of Goa determined to correct the errors of the church of Malabar:*** and most of all to place it in subjection to the Roman pontiff. A sharp struggle now ensued; but, after the bishop of the Indian Christians had been cajoled into obedience, and then forcibly extruded from his see, the council of Diamper*4 (Udiampoor) in 1599 completed, for a time at least, their “reconciliation” with the papacy. A multitude of their ancient writings were then committed to the flames [Hough, II. 72.]; the Syriac service books were all remodeled in accordance with Roman usages; their canon of the New Testament Scriptures, hitherto defective,*5 was completed by the same authority; and, until the middle of the following century, when the Portuguese had in their turn been humbled and excluded by the Dutch, the “Christians of St. Thomas” were all constrained to recognize the jurisdiction of the Latins. At that crisis, however, we are told, one half of them fell back into their ancient isolation.
*[On the composite religion which Baba Nannk now established in the Punjab with the hope of binding together Muhammadans and Hindus, see Cunningham’s Hist. of the Sikhs, Lond. 1849.]
**[Ibid. p. 28, and Hough’s Hist. of Christianity in India, I. 32 sq. On the kindred encroachments of the Portuguese in Abyssinia, see Middle Age, p. 315, n. 5.]
***[The first assault was made in 1545 by a Franciscan of the name of Vincent, whose chief policy was to educate some of their priests in his own doctrines and so influence the community (Hough, I. 247). This attempt failed, however, and was not repeated for some years, at the end of which the Jesuit missionaries circumvented Mar Joseph, the bishop. He was then sent to Rome in triumph and there consecrated afresh to the see of Angamale: but failing in his engagements with the pontiff he was apprehended in compliance with an order of pope Pius V (Jan. 15, 1567), and shipped off to Portugal (Ibid. p. 260).]
*4[See Geddes, Hist. of the Church of Malabar with the acts and decrees of the Synod of Diamper, Lond. 1694, and Hough, as above, II. 1–132, with the documents in Appendix A. Some of the chief points in which the Christians of Malabar had previously differed from their Romish invaders were the following: They rejected the papal supremacy and paid allegiance to the patriarch of Babylon (Mosul). They condemned the adoration of images, but venerated the symbol of the cross. They had not heard of masses for the dead, of purgatory, or of extreme unction. They repudiated auricular confession, and the constrained celibacy of ecclesiastics. They regarded the Eucharist as an oblation, and solemnly offered the elements upon the altar, yet, as one of their assailants urged, “their books contained enormous errors against this holy sacrament, errors that shew that the heretics of our own time [i.e. the European Reformers], who have revived all the ancient heresies and forgotten errors, derived their doctrines from this source” (Hough, II. 14). They held three sacraments, – ranking orders with baptism and the Eucharist. But whether they were Nestorian in their tenets respecting the Person of our blessed Lord is far from certain. Buchanan, Christian Researches in Asia, p. 126, maintains that their descendants at least are orthodox on this subject. The result of their treatment by the Portuguese seems to have been to break off their connection with the Nestorian and throw them into union with the Jacobites. See Neale, Eastern Ch. Intr. I. 151.]
*5[The second epistle of St Peter, the second and third of St John, the epistle of St Jude, and the Apocalypse were wanting in their Syriac version: see Geddes, as above, p. 135, where other less important variations are noticed.]
Meanwhile a vigorous effort had been made by worthier missionaries of the Roman church, assisted by the greatest maritime power of Europe, to carry the religion of the cross into remoter strongholds both of Brahmanism and Buddhism. This great project dated from the landing of Francis Xavier,* at Goa, on the 6th of May, 1542. The friend and first disciple of Ignatius Loyola, and like him strongly tinged with old ideas of chivalry and self-devotion, the ardent Jesuit soon exchanged his residence in Portugal, to which he was invited by king John III, for distant fields of missionary labour, in the hope of gathering millions of his fellow men into the fold of Christ, and of the Roman church. His apostolic tenderness, his zeal, his heroism, his abundant labours, sufferings, and success, in the discharge of his adventurous calling, earned for him the title of “Apostle of the Indies”. Many of the narratives respecting him are, it is true, most grievously disfigured, either by the fraud or by the credulity of their compilers:** but when due allowance has been made for fable and exaggeration, the career of Xavier stands almost unparalleled in the history of Christian missions. On reaching Goa, he discovered that religion was already at the lowest ebb among the Portuguese settlers, many of whom had virtually abandoned their profession, and sunk down into the heathen level of impurity and license.*** Xavier, therefore, with the sanction of the bishop, opened his crusade by preaching the necessity of reformation to the European Christians. After spending a portion of each day in visits to the hospitals and prisons, where his earnest and unselfish spirit won the heart of every inmate, his practice was to walk through the streets of Goa with a bell in his hand, imploring all the fathers of families, for the love of God, to send their children and their slaves to him for catechetical instruction: and such wonderful effects were thus produced by his impulsive fervour, that a change was soon apparent in the conduct of the whole population, more especially the young.*4
*[See Tursellinus, De Vita Fr. Xaverii, qui primus e Societ. Jesu in India et Japonia evengelium propagavit, Rom. 1594: Bouhours, Vie de S. Francois Xavier, reprinted at Louvain, 1822; Lettres de F. Xavier, Bruxelles, 1838: Hough, Hist. of Christianity in India, Bk. II. ch. iii.]
**[For instance, on the stupendous miracles attributed to him, but not mentioned in his own correspondence, see Grant’s Missions to the Heathen, Append. No. xxi.]
***[“Mais, ee qui doit parottre plus étrange, les Portugais vivoient euxmźmes plus ep IdolČtres qu’en Chrétiens”: Bouhours, p. 69; cf. Hough, I. 173 sq.]
*4[“Les enfans s’assembloient en foule antour de Xavier, soit qu’ils vinssent d’eux-mźmes par une curiosité naturelle, soit que leurs pŹres les envoyassent, par le respect qu’ils avoient déją pour le saint, tout vicieux qu’ils étoient. Il les menoit ą l’église, et lą il leur expliquoit le symbole des apôtres, les commandemens de Dieu, et toutes les pratiques de piété qui sont en usage parmi les fidŹles”: Ibid. p, 73. Among other occupations which he engaged in while at Goa, he assisted in the organizing of a seminary for the education of heathen orphans (“the college of St Paul”).]
When Xavier had devoted six months to the promotion of these objects, and had meanwhile gained a meagre knowledge of one or two Indian languages, he started on his earliest mission to the Paravars, – a miserable people, near Cape Comorin, who had been rescued by the Portuguese from their Moslem taskmasters, and thus propitiated in favour of Christianity.* Subsisting there on rice and water like the very poorest of the natives, Xavier exercised his missionary duties with the same devotion and success that marked his triumphs over the degenerate Portuguese at Goa. He instructed all the children whom he gathered round him in some elements of Christian truth,** and then charged them to diffuse this knowledge, far and wide, among their parents, friends, and neighbours. Fifteen months were occupied in pressing forward the conversion of the Paravars, when the devoted missionary retraced his steps to Goa, in the hope of gaining fresh assistance, and, at the same time, carried with him a band of children to be regularly educated for the Christian ministry.*** His sojourn in the Portuguese colony was not of long continuance: for, early in 1544 we see him hastening back into the south of India, now supported by three European colleagues. Each of these had a station assigned him on the coast, while Xavier himself resolved to penetrate alone into adjacent provinces. The kingdom of Travancore immediately excited his peculiar interest, and the population, as if moved by one great impulse, signified their willingness to entertain his offers, or rather to accept the faith he had commended to their best affections by his enterprising zeal and self-forgetting labours.*4 On a subsequent voyage to this district he saw reason to infer from adverse winds that the Almighty was intending him for other fields of duty [Bouhours, p. 136.]; and at length was carried eastward as far as Malacca, where the thriving trade of Portugal had also given rise to an extensive settlement. There, as at Goa, Xavier commenced his ministry by urging on the Europeans the profound importance of religion,*5 and afterwards proceeded to reap a further harvest of conversions at Amboyna.*6 But other places where he touched were less susceptible of Christian influences; and in the islands of Del Moro*7 and at Java [Ibid. p. 189.] his life was more than once seriously imperilled.
*[Several of them had already been baptized (Bouhonrs, p. 76), but had no knowledge of Christian doctrine, “faute de gens qui les instruissent.”]
**[These were contained in his version of “The Words of the sign of the Cross,” the Apostles’ Creed, the Decalogue, the Lord’s Prayer, etc. (Bouhours, p. 176, Hough, I. 177), which he made the children learn by heart. The whole account of his dealing with neophytes is preserved in the 14th Lettre. In one passage he remarks that “the astonishment, both of the neophytes and the pagans, is great when they perceive the sanctity of the Christian law, and its perfect conformity with reason.”]
***[Bouhours, p. 101. During his absence the work of keeping alive what he had taught was committed to some of the more intelligent converts, who thus form a species of catechists: Hough, I. 180.]
*4[The following extract from one of his letters will prove that he was at first unacquainted even with the language of the natives: “Vous ponvez juger quelle vie je mŹne ici, par ce que je vais vous dire. Je n’entends point la langue de ces peuples, ils n’entendent point la mienne, et je n’ai point de trucheman. Tout ce que je puis faire,” he adds, “est de baptiser les enfans et de servir les malades, qu’on entend trŹs-bien sans le secours d’aucun interprŹte, pour peu qu’on voye ce qu’il souffrent” (Bouhours, p. 105). He also made a most profound impression on the whole country by heading them when terrified by the invasion of an army of savage marauders (the Badages): Hough, I. 183, 184. He had shewn a like heroism in rescuing his Paravar converts from the same danger.]
*5[Ibid. pp. 156, 157. “Avant que d’entreprendre la réformation d’une ville toute corrompue il s’employa quelques jours uniquement au service des malades: il passa plusieurs nuits en oraison, et il fit des austérités extraordinaires.”]
*6[Here also the Portuguese had a garrison, and Christianity was not unknown: Ibid. p. 165. The same results followed at Ternate: p. 175.]
*7[When dissuaded from his purpose to visit this group of islands, whose inhabitants bore the worst possible character, Xavier exclaimed: “Quoi! Celui Qui a soumis le monde entier ą l’empire de la croix par le ministŹre des apôtres, ne pourroit pas y soumettre un petit endroit de la terre! Les seules Ēles du More n’auroient point de part au bienfait de la Redemption! ... Je puis tout en Celui Qui me fortifie, et de Qui seul vient la force des ouvriers evangéliques.” Ibid. p. 182. Animated by this spirit, he landed on a coast where the bodies of some Portuguese, who had been recently massacred, were lying in their blood, and continued in the island three months.]
It was in the summer of 1547, that Xavier, while resting at Malacca, had frequent interviews with Anger, [Ibid. pp. 228 sq., Hough, I. 197 sq.] a native of the island of Japan, who, having wasted all the morning of his life in dissipation and frivolity was, at the age of five-and-thirty, tortured by a wounded conscience. He had sought in vain for comfort from the heathen priesthood, and was finally determined by the hint of some Portuguese trader to set forth upon a voyage to Malacca in the hopes of benefiting from the counsel of the far-famed missionary. Under Xavier’s guidance he became a Christian. He then proceeded for complete instruction to the Jesuits’ college at Goa, where he was joined by Xavier, with whom he resolved, if possible, to organize a mission for his native country. A supply of European auxiliaries, attracted by the forcible appeals* that were circulated far and near by Xavier and his friends, had, in the meantime, enabled him to complete his own arrangements for the conduct of the Indian missions. He accordingly embarked for Japan, in April, 1549, with three companions, one of them his favourite convert. On their voyage they were detained for some months at Malacca, but reached the place of destination, Kagósima, in the following August. The mission work was instantly commenced,** and during the next two years, the patience, love and energy of Xavier were rewarded by the formation of a small community of Christians, which was made the starting point of further acquisitions in the next half century. He then returned to Goa; but the same unquenchable desire to spread a knowledge of the Christian faith impelled him to resume his apostolic labours, that the banner of the cross might also be unfurled afresh upon the soil of China. [Ibid. pp. 394 sq.] This, however, might not be. The ardent missionary fell a victim to the climate. He was left behind, at his own request, upon the isle of Sancian, within sight of that gigantic empire whose conversion had long occupied his thoughts; expiring of malignant fever at the early age of six-and-forty (Dec. 2, 1552). The only witness of his mortal agonies was a Spanish outcast, who afterwards recollected how the fragments of some hymn or prayer were ever falling from the lips of Xavier even in the midst of his delirium.
*[e.g. In one of Xavier’s letters, he declares: “Il me vient souvent en pensée de parcourir les académies de l’Europe, principalement celle de Paris, et de crier de toutes mes forces ą ceux qui ont plus de savoir que de charité: Ah! combien d’Čmes perdent le Ciel, at tombent dans les enfers par votre faute!”]
**[Ibid. pp. 284 sq. Xavier’s first object was to gain a more adequate knowledge of the language, and with the aid of his Japanese convert he circulated a small catechism, in which he explained the leading facts and doctrines of Christianity.]
But while other and less worthy hands proceeded with the Indian missions of the Portuguese, attempts were made to carry out the plan for circulating further knowledge of the Gospel in the various provinces of China. Some advances are ascribable to earlier bands of Jesuits who had reached that country from Macao, but Ricci’s name is properly associated with the opening of their regular missions. He* was an Italian by birth, who, having been incorporated into the order of the Jesuits, was sent out to India, and at the age of thirty was attached to one of the embassies which proceeded from Macao to the coast of China (1582).
*[See Schröckh, Kirchengesch. seit der Reform. III. 676 sq., and the original account in Possinus, Hist. Soc. Jesu, Part V. Tom. I. pp. 213 sq. Tom. II. pp. 515 sq.]
The policy of Ricci differed much from that of Xavier. Instead of carrying his appeals at once to the emotional province of man’s nature, preaching of repentance and of faith in Christ the Mediator, he strove, at first*, by a profuse display of learning, especially of Mathematical science, to disarm the prejudices of the Chinese literati; regarding such a course as the more likely to enlist the sympathy of the natives in favour of the Christian faith. The dogmas he was going to propound were, as he hinted, only the revival and completion of ideas already current in the writings of Confucius.** Ricci meanwhile had consorted freely with the natives, adopted their costume, and studied all the leading features of the national character. At last, when he concluded that his work of preparation was sufficiently advanced, and that he had no longer any cause to apprehend hostility in the highest quarters, he entered vigorously upon his proper task of making known the special doctrines of the Gospel. Churches were now gathered with remarkable facility; and, at the death of Ricci, in 1610, the Chinese mission promised to extend itself among all ranks and orders, and to leaven the whole mass of the surrounding population. But the policy of its founder, as pursued into its consequences by less scrupulous disciples, issued in a series of unholy compromises, which were fatal to the reputation, and at length to the vitality, both of this and of other missions planted by the Jesuits.
*[e.g. The following statement is made in the second volume of the work just cited, p. 516: “Primo quidem Riccius nonnihil ipsi [i.e. a native enquirer] de mathematicis tradebat disciplinis: deinde aliquod doctrinae Christianae caput explicabat. ... Paucis mensibus ita profecit, ut de arte numerandi, quam algebram vocant, commentarios ediderit in lucem, multis eruditorum laudibus ornatos.”]
**[Ibid. p. 552: “Negabat religionem, quae unum sine consorte Deum doceret, peregrinam esse: hanc probabat fuisse a Sinensibus philosophis et eorum principe Confucio traditam, sed obliteratam paulatim temporum vitio; restitui tantummodo a Christianis et instaurari, additis de Christo, quae Confucius, quingentis ante Christum annis natus, rescire non potuerat.”]
The supremacy which Portugal obtained in many districts of the East, had found its parallel in the victorious march of Spanish conquerors in North and South America. We saw [Middle Age, pp. 316, 317.] that the enormous wrongs inflicted by the empire which they raised in Mexico began to be abated when a party of Franciscans, who had followed in the bloody track of conquest, succeeded in reconciling the Aztec population to the Christian faith. This work was finished in the second quarter of the sixteenth century; but a longer interval elapsed before a church was fully organized* among the remnant of Peruvians who survived the butchery of Pizarro and his sanguinary comrades. In the end, however, an archbishopric was placed at Lima, the metropolis; with jurisdiction reaching to the six dioceses of Peru, and also to the neighbouring states of Chili, which were now reduced into a like subjection to the majesty of Spain. The agents here engaged in the conversion of the natives were chiefly furnished by religious orders, so that these eventually obtained immense authority in the Spanish settlements of South America.
*[Fabricius, in his Lux Evangelii (ch. XLIX), gives a list of authorities respecting the introduction of Christianity into this and other parts of South America. For central America, see Fancourt’s Hist. of Yucatan, pp. 130 sq. Lond. 1854.]
On the coast of Brazil [See Southey’s Hist. of Brazil, Lond. 1810; and Wittmann’s Gesch. der Cathol. Missionen, II. 486 sq. Augsburg, 1850.] the Portuguese had gained themselves a footing as early as 1504. Their colony, however, was comparatively neglected until 1549, in which year were laid the foundations of Bahia (San Salvador): and the new governor, accompanied by a troop of Jesuits, manifested some anxiety to wean the natives from a state of cannibalism, and so conciliate their affections in behalf of Christianity.
A fresh detachment of the same intrepid order was invited from Brazil to aid in the evangelizing of the Spanish settlement in Paraguay (1586). While other tribes of South America possessed a very scanty knowledge of the Gospel, and its hold upon them was proportionally slight, the present mission was distinguished by its growth and vigour. So triumphant was the progress of the Jesuits, and so absolute was the control they exercised upon the spirit of the native heathen, that the whole appearance of the country underwent a rapid change.* Their general policy was to humanize a people hitherto most savage and nomadic in their habits, with the hope that by making them “reasonable creatures” they might prepare them to be afterwards made true Christians. Yet notwithstanding all the brilliant consequences of these measures in the first generation, it was soon discovered that their practical effect had been to mould the natives of Paraguay into a principality of Jesuits, deeply tinctured with all kinds of superstition, rather than to found a Christian church upon the Apostolic model.
*[See Charlevoix, Hist. du Paraguay, Paris, 1756, and a sketch of the system there adopted by the Jesuits in Grant’s Missions to the Heathen, Append. No. XXII.]
Of the few missions to the heathen,* which continental Reformers had enough of breathing time to set on foot, the most remarkable [See the narrative at length in Brown, I. 2–9.] proceeded to the coast of South America. Excited by the current stories touching the resources of Brazil, a French knight of Malta, named Villegagnon, had conceived the project of planting a colony there to rival that from which so many galleons had come back with treasures to the court of Portugal. The author of this project represented himself as highly favourable to the Huguenots, and having won the patronage of their great champion, the admiral Coligny, secured through him the approbation of king Henry II. It was a day of trouble and perplexity; fresh storms were blackening the horizon of Protestantism in France; and partly, therefore, to provide some quiet refuge from the persecutor, and partly to disseminate a knowledge of the Christian faith, in countries where the Gospel had hitherto made little or no progress, Huguenots came forward in great numbers, and the ships of the adventurer were filled with sanguine colonists (1556). On their establishment at Rio Janeiro, they were joined by other volunteers of like spirit, and also by two ministers and twelve students from Geneva, whom Villegagnon had invited over to assist in purely missionary enterprises. But this expedition to “Antarctic France” was ere long miserably defeated by the tergiversation of the leader. Influenced, it is said, by the cardinal of Lorraine, Villegagnon rapidly receded from the terms on which his expedition started: he declared his strong aversion to Genevan doctrines, and even went so far as to prohibit the religious meetings of his Huguenot confederates. Some of them he afterwards banished from the fort, but finding that the other colonists were still bent on holding communication with them, he determined, in January, 1558, to send them back to France; entrusting to the master of the vessel a formal charge of heresy, which had been lodged against the Swiss ministers, and requiring him to call upon the magistracy of France for their immediate execution. The voyage home was rendered horrible by the incessant leakage of the ship, and by extremities of famine such as none may read without a shudder. At length, after an almost incredible series of disasters, the small party landed near Hennebon; yet Providence so ordered, that the malice of Villegagnon was never gratified by hearing that the objects of his persecution had been committed to the flames. The French judges, on the contrary, acquitted them with manifest tokens of commiseration: while the colony itself, which they had laboured to establish and evangelize, was afterwards completely ruined by the inroads of the Portuguese.
*[In Europe itself heathenism was not yet eradicated. Thus in Lithuania (see Middle Age, pp. 312, 313) serpent worship continued to be rife; and Gustavus Vasa was under the necessity of sending a mission into Lapland, where the people clung almost entirely to the ancient superstitions: see Brown’s Propagation of Christianity among the Heathen since the Reformation (only Protestant missions), I. 10, Lond. 1823.]
It was during the palmy days of Queen Elizabeth, that our European neighbours trembled as they marked the proud advances of the maritime power of England. At the close of 1580, Drake returned in triumph from his perilous voyage round the world. A closer intercourse had now been opened with the northern and the southern seas; and deeper knowledge of the frightful degradation wrought by gentilism is frequently associated, in the chronicles of English mariners, [See the deeply interesting revelations in Hakluyt’s Voyages, Lond. 1598 sq.] with keener sense of missionary duties. “Compassion of poore infidels captived by the deuill, tyrannizing in most wonderful and dreadfull manner over their bodies and their souls” – was henceforth held to be a leading motive in the genuine colonizer.* Accordingly when projects were devised for planting English settlements in various districts of America, the hope of raising both the temporal and the spiritual condition of the natives was put prominently forward; while earnest individuals, such as Hariot, [Anderson, I. 93; cf. p. 96, note, where Wood’s mistakes respecting Hariot are corrected.] one of Ralegh’s colleagues in Virginia, found their labours not entirely unrewarded. The first baptism [Ibid. p. 98.] of a native has been placed on record in 1587. Though Ralegh was himself most unsuccessful in his colonizing schemes, he always manifested a warm interest in the progress of the Gospel, and presented as a parting to the Virginia Company the sum of one hundred pounds “for the propagation of the Christian religion” in that settlement (1588–9). [Ibid. p. 101.]
*[Ibid. III. 184, 185, and Anderson’s Hist. of the Church of England in the Colonies, &c. I. 73 sq. Lond. 1845. In one of Hakluyt’s own “Epistles Dedicatorie,” he rejoices that some natives of the far-off east had found their way to England: “For mine own part, I take it as a pledge of God’s further fauor both vnto vs and them; to them especially vnto whose doores I doubt not in time shal be by vs caried the incomparable treasure of the trueth of Christianity and of the Gospell, while we vse and exercise common trade with their merchants.”]
The thoughts of England had been meanwhile turning eastward, as she listened to the story of adventurous merchants who had penetrated overland as far as India; and after the return of Lancaster, the first of her commanders who opened a highway to the east, by sailing far beyond Cape Comorin, her enterprise received fresh impulses, and a more practical direction. The English flag waved freely in those harbours where it had been destined to achieve a marvelous predominance, and thereby to entail upon the English Church unparalleled responsibility; for the last day of the year 1600 witnessed the concession of a royal charter to the “Governor and Company of merchants of London trading to the East Indies.”