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"To do something to instruct, but more to undeceive, the timid and admiring student;to excite him to place more confidence in his own strength, and less in the infallibility of great names;-to help him to emancipate his judgment 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;-to shew him that what may tickle the ear or dazzle the imagination, will not always inform the judgment;-to dispose him rather to fast on ignorance than to feed himself with error."

Fragment on Government.

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Printed for the Editor, by George Smallfield;




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On the Attempts that were made towards the Reformation of Religion in Italy in the Sixteenth Century.

Ifollowers of Luther and of Ziving places, in their discourses and writ

has been disputed, between the object. Individuals had, in some

lius, to which of those eminent persons ought to be ascribed the honour of originating the great work of the Reformation from Popery. In whatever way this controversy may be decided, it is not possible that the reputation of either of the illustrious individuals, whose credit is thought to be staked upon the issue of it, can be at all affected. The history of the proceed ings of both, in their manly stand against spiritual usurpation and tyranny, is now well known; the value of their services, in their respective theatres of action, is properly understood, and their merits are rightly and fully appreciated by a grateful posterity. It is, however, due to each of them to bear in mind, that their la bours in the cause of Christian truth and liberty commenced about the same period in different countries; that they were independent actors; and had at first, and for a considerable period, no knowledge of each other's designs and proceedings in respect to their common object. It follows, therefore, from these facts, that neither of them can substantiate a just claim to priority of service on the score of time, or pretend to the merit of having been the first to set the example to the other.

But whatever meed of praise may be awarded to Luther and to Zwinglius, there is good reason to question the right of either of them to be, in strict propriety, regarded as the father of the Reformation. Long antecedently to their day, men's minds had, in various countries of Europe, been drawn to the consideration of the Anti-Christian spirit of the Church of Rome, and of the licentiousness and profligacy of its rulers and ministers. To its religious tenets and worship, also, some persons had been led to

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ings, animadverted upon what they deemed its false doctrines and superstitious rites: whilst others had associated, in considerable numbers, for the public celebration of the ordinances of religion upon principles which they deemed more accordant with Christian truth and evangelical simplicity.* The Roman Pontiffs had, in fact, been themselves, for several ages, gradually preparing the instruments which were to subvert their spiritual empire. Their insolence and their excesses had disgusted and alienated their best friends and warmest partizans, and had excited an universal desire for some change that should curb their ambition, effect the improvement of the religious orders, relieve from the bur

* This statement is abundantly justified by what is detailed in the common compilations of Ecclesiastical History respecting those numerous and, in some instances, discordant sects which passed under the general name of Albigenses, and which so frequently exposed themselves to the thunderbolts of the Vatican. Their heretical opinions were publicly condemned so early as the year 1176 by a Council held at Albi, in the South of France. In 1179 they were cruelly persecuted by Pope Alexander; in the early part of the thirteenth century a crusade was proclaimed against them by Pope Innocent the Third, whose name contained the bitterest satire upon his character, at least in this instance; and about this period the infernal tribunal of the Inquisition was created with an express view to their extirpation.

The result of these violent measures might have taught the Roman Pontiffs and their ministers, how inappropriate and unavailing are such instruments of conversion, as dungeons and torture, fire and gibbets, to act upon the reason of men who will think before they believe.

den of the Romish ritual those who disapproved of it, and leave men more at liberty in the choice, and in the outward profession and exercises of their religion. By the time that Luther and Zwinglius appeared in the field against the Roman power, there existed a very general, and, in some places, a very decided disposition to enter into their views of reform, and to aid their exertions to carry them into execution. This fact will sufficiently account for the kind of reception they experienced from those who were the first witnesses of their proceedings, as well as for the success, so far exceeding, probably, their own most sanguine expectations, which ultimately crowned their efforts in their honourable but arduous undertaking. For whilst their labours were, in some instances, needed to awaken the spirit of religious inquiry and independence in minds in which it had become torpid and inert under the chilling influence of a long and oppressive spiritual thraldom, it is perfectly evident that, in a great number of other cases, they had little more to do than to encourage its workings, and to direct and apply its energies, where it had already broken its slumbers, and burst forth in active life and vigour.

For some time the visible progress of the Reformation, so far as this was manifested by the open renunciation of the authority of the Roman Church, and the institution of a different form of religious worship and discipline, was restricted to Switzerland, and some districts of Germany. But though its public triumphs were limited to those places, its friends, in other parts of Europe, did not remain passive spectators of the great drama which was then acting. Occasional efforts were made in other quarters, at least by individuals, to break the Roman yoke. But, owing, perhaps, to the want of union and co-operation among those who were agreed in their views and object; owing, too, in all probability, to the want of an active and intrepid leader, like Luther or Zwing lius, to whom all could look with confidence; and, in some cases, owing, no doubt, to the determined opposi tion of the civil power, and the extreme vigilance of the agents of the Inquisition; their proceedings were

followed by no very extensive or lasting benefits to the common cause.

Whilst the doctrines and pretensions of the Church of Rome were thus freely canvassed and opposed in Germany and Switzerland, it was scarcely possible that in Italy, where men were placed within a nearer view, and under the more immediate influence of the system, its follies and excesses should have escaped notice and animadversion. Indeed, at a period long anterior to that which is at present under consideration, we meet with occasional memorials of individuals who had openly impugned the papal authority. Amongst these may be here mentioned Cecco d'Ascoli, who wrote a poem on the Nature of the Universe. Crescimbeni, the historian of the Vernacular Poetry of Italy, calls him Astrologo del Duca di Calavria, “the Astrologer of the Duke of Calabria." He says of him that he was the advocate or defender of emperors, of kings, and of the laws against the clergy and the pope and states that he was burnt at Florence on the 16th of September, 1327, for "his wicked opinions.”* Some other names might be here introduced of persons who are known to have borne a public testimony against the corruptions of the Roman Church; and there can be no doubt that many more of a similar character

L'Istoria della Volgar Poesia, scritta da Giovanni Mario de' Crescimbeni, 4to. 1698, p. 47, "Il quale per le sue mal vage opinioni fu arso in Firenze," &c.

Many of the Italian writers of the 13th and 14th centuries abound with animadversions, more or less direct and of religion, the licentiousness of the severe, upon the prevailing corruptions priesthood, and the pride and tyranny of the head of the church. Dante, who flourished towards the end of the 13th, aud in the beginning of the 14th century, sometimes makes himself merry at the expense of the religious orders, in the situations he assigns them in the other world. Boccacio, a writer of the generation immediately following, has enployed his Decameron to convey his cenincidents of his tales being drawn from sures of the same body, many of the their corrupt practices. And Petrarch, who wrote only a few years later, is known to have occasionally directed his pen in the same way, and to have incurred the displeasure of his ecclesiastical

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