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"To do something to iostract, but more to undece ve, the timid and admiring student;a to exeite him to place more confidence in his own strength, and less in the infallibility of great names;-to help him to emancipate his jadgment from the shackles of authority; to teach him to distinguish between showy language and sound sense ;-to warn him not to pay himself with words ;-o shew him that what may tickle the ear or dazzle the imagination, will not always infor the judgment;-to dispose him rather to fast on ignorance than to feed himself with error."
Fragment on Government.
JANUARY TO DECEMBER, INCLUSIVE,
Printed for the Editor, by George Smallfield ;
PUBLISHED BY SHERWOOD, NEELY AND JONES,
The NoncoNFORMIST. No. XXIII. On the Attempts that were made towards the Reformution of Religion in Italy
in the Sixteenth Century. has been disputed, between the object. Individuals had, in some lius, to which of those eminent persons ings, animadverted upon what they ought to be ascribed the honour of deemed its false doctrines and super-' originating the great work of the Re- stitious rites : whilst others had assoformation from Popery. In whatever ciated, in considerable numbers, for way this controversy may be decided, the public celebration of the ordinances it is not possible that the reputation of religion upon principles which they of either of the illustrious individuals, deemed more accordant with Christian whose credit is thought to be staked truth and evangelical simplicity.* The upon the issue of it, can be at all Roman Pontiff's had, in fact, been affected. The history of the proceed themselves, for several ages, gradually ings of both, in their manly stand preparing the instruments which were against spiritual usurpation and ty- to 'subvert their spiritual empire. ranny, is now well known; the value Their insolence and their excesses had of their services, in their respective disgusted and alienated their best theatres of action, is properly under- friends and warmest partizans, and stood, and their merits are rightly and had excited an universal desire for some fully appreciated by a grateful poste. change that should curb their ambirity. It is, however, due to each of tion, effect the improvement of the them to bear in mind, that their la- religious orders, relieve from the burbours in the cause of Christian truth and liberty commenced about the same period in different countries ; * This statement is abundantly justithat they were independent actors; fied by what is detailed in the common and had at first, and for a conside- compilations of Ecclesiastical History rerable period, no knowledge of each specting those numerous and, in some other's designs and proceedings in re- instances, discordant sects which passed spect to their common object. It under the general name of Albigenses, follows, therefore, from these facts, and which so frequently exposed themthat neither of them can substantiate selves to the thunderbolts of the Vatican. a just claim to priority of service on
Their heretical opinions were publicly
condemned so early as the year 1176 by the score of time, or pretend to the
a Council held at Albi, in the South of merit of having been the first to set France. In 1179 they were cruelly perthe example to the other.
secuted by Pope Alexander; in the early But whatever meed of praise may part of the thirteenth century a crusade be awarded to Luther and to Zwing- was proclaimed against them by Pope lius, there is good reason to question Innocent the Third, whose name conthe right of either of them to be, in tained the bitterest satire upon his chastrict propriety, regarded as the father racter, at least in this instance; and of the Reformation. Long antece- about this period the infernal tribunal of dently to their day, men's minds had, the Inquisition was created with an exin various countries of Europe, been press view to their extirpation. The drawn to the consideration of the An- have taught the Roman Pontiffs and their
result of these violent measures might ti-Christian spirit of the Church of ministers, how inappropriate and unavailRome, and of the licentiousness and ing are such instruments of conversion, profligacy, of its rulers and ministers.
as dungeons and torture, fire and gibbets, To its religious tenets and worship, to act upon the reason of men who will also, some persons had been led to think before they believe.
den of the Romish ritual those who followed by no very extensive or lastdisapproved of it, and leave men more ing benefits to the common cause. at liberty in the choice, and in the Whilst the doctrines and pretensions outward profession and exercises of of the Church of Rome were thus their religion. By the time that Lu- freely canvassed and opposed in Gerther and Zwinglius appeared in the many and Switzerland, it was scarcely field against the Roman power, there possible that in Italy, where men were existed a very general, and, in some placed within a nearer view, and under places, a very decided disposition to the more immediate influence of the enter into their views of reform, and system, its follies and excesses should to aid their exertions to carry them have escaped notice and animadverinto execution. This fact will suffi- sion. Indeed, at a period long anteciently account for the kind of recep- rior to that which is at present under tion they experienced from those who consideration, we meet with occasional were the first witnesses of their pro- memorials of individuals who had ceedings, as well as for the success, openly impugned the papal authority. so far exceeding, probably, their own Amongst these may be here mentioned most sanguine expectations, which Cecco d'Ascoli, who wrote a poem on ultimately crowned their efforts in the Nature of the Universe. Crescimtheir honourable but arduous under- beni, the historian of the Vernacular taking. For whilst their labours were, Poetry of Italy, calls himn Astrologo in some instances, needed to awaken del Duca di Calavria, “the Astrothe spirit of religious inquiry and in. loger of the Duke of Calabria.” He dependence in minds in which it had says of him that he was the advocate become torpid and inert under the or defender of emperors, of kings, and chilling influence of a long and oppres. of the laws against the clergy and the sive spiritual thraldom, it is perfectly pope : and states that he was burnt evident that, in a great number of at Florence on the 16th of September, other cases, they had little more to 1327, for “his wicked opinions." do than to encourage its workings, Some other names might be here inand to direct and apply its energies, troduced of persons who are known where it had already broken its slum- to have borne a public testimony bers, and burst forth in active life and against the corruptions of the Roman vigour.
Church; and there can be no doubt For some time the visible progress that many more of a similar character of the Reformation, so far as this was manifested by the open renunciation of the authority of the Roman Church, L'Istoria della Volgar Poesia, scritta and the institution of a different form da Giovanni Mario de'Crescimbeni, 4to. of religious worship and discipline, 1698, p. 47," Il quale per le sue male, was restricted to Switzerland,' and vage opinioni fu arso in Firenze," &c. some districts of Germany. But though + Many of the Italian writers of the its public triumphs were limited to 13th and 14th centuries abound with those places, its friends, in other parts animadversions, more or less direct and of Europe, did not remain passive of religion, the licentiousness of the
severe, upon the prevailing corruptious spectators of the great drama wbich priesthood, and the pride and tyranny of was then acting. Occasional efforts the head of the church. Dante, who were made in other quarters, at least flourished towards the end of the 13th, by individuals, to break the Roman aud in the beginning of the 14th century, yoke. But, owing, perhaps, to the sometimes makes himself merry at the want of union and co-operation anong expense of the religious orders, in the those who were agreed in their views situations he assigns them in the other and object; owing, too, in all proba- world. . Boccacio, a writer of the genebility, to the want of an active and ration immediately following, bas eniintrepid leader, like Luther or Zwing- ployed his Decameron to convey his cenlius, to whom all could look with sures of the same body, many of the confidence; and, in some cases, owing, their corrupt practices. And Petrarch,
incidents of his tales being drawn from no doubt, to the determined opposi- who wrote only a few years later, is tion of the civil power, and the ex- known to have occasionally directed his treme vigilance of the agents of the peu in the same way, and to have it. Inquisition ; their proceedings were curred the displeasure of his ecclesiastical