« PreviousContinue »
No. 24. Printed and Published by W. E. ANDREWS, 3, Chapter Price 3d.
house-court, St. Paul's Churchyard, London.
There were also many superiors of religious orders, and a great number of eminent canonists. Of such men was this last general council composed; and a more learned body could not be assembled to deliberate on subjects which regarded the eternal happiness of mankind, The order in which the council was conducted we shall give in the Rev. Alban Butler's own words; it shews the sincere desire entertained by those who composed the synod to come at the truth, and their readiness to listen to every objection that might be started. In a word, free discussion was exercised by every one, and in this council, as in all others canonically called, arguments and facts were opposed to sophistry and error.
"Matters were discussed," writes Mr. Butler, "in particular congregations; and, lastly, defined in the sessions. After some debates, "it was agreed that points of faith and matters of discipline should be "jointly considered, and the condemnation of errors, and the decrees
"for the reformation of manners carried on together; there being "abuses, in practice relative to most points of doctrine. The doctrine "of faith is first explained in chapters; then the contrary errors are "anathematized, and the articles of faith defined in canons.
This faith "is in no point new, but the same which the apostles delivered, and "which the church in all ages believed and taught. When F. Barnard Lami, the Oratorian, had advanced that the chapters or exposition of "doctrine in this council are not of equal authority with the canons, "Bossuet, in a few words, charitably convinced him of his mistake, "which the other readily corrected and recalled, as archbishop Languet relates. The decrees for the reformation of manners, and eccle"siastical discipline, particularly in the clergy, follow the chapters and canons of doctrine in the several sessions. Points relating to the holy scriptures, original sin, free-will, justification, the sacraments in general, and those of baptism and confirmation in particular, are ex"amined in the seven first sessions held under Paul III. On account "of an epidemical distemper at Trent, he had consented that the pre"lates might remove the council to Bologna; this was decreed in the eighth session, and the ninth and tenth were held at Bologna, but no "business done; the emperor and some of the prelates being displeased "at the translation, so that the pope suspended the council on the "fifteenth of September, and died November the tenth, 1549. His legates a latere in the council were cardinal Del Monte, bishop of "Palestrino, cardinal Marcellus Cervinus, and cardinal Reginald Pole. "The first of these was chosen pope, after the death of Paul III. took "the name of Julius III. and re-assembled the council of Trent in 1551. "His legates there were cardinal Marcellus Crescenti, legate a latere, "and Sebastian Pictini, archbishop of Manfredonia, and Aloysius Lippomannus, bishop of Verona. The eleventh and twelfth sessions 56 were preparatory: in the thirteenth and fourteenth the eucharist, penance, and extreme-unction were explained: in the fifteenth the "Protestants were invited under a safe conduct; and in the sixteenth "the council was suspended on account of the wars in Germany. "Julius III. died March the twenty-third, 1555, and cardinal Marcellus "Cervinus, an excellent, courageous, and pious man, was chosen pope, "and took the name of Marcellus II. but died within twelve days. "Cardinal Caraffa was chosen pope, May the twenty-third, 1555, and "called Paul IV. The surrender of the empire by Charles V. "between France and Spain, and some difficulties which arose between "the emperor Ferdinand and Paul IV. protracted the suspension of "the council, and this pope died the eighteenth of August, 1559. "Pius IV. who succeeded, obtained the concurrence of the emperor and "Catholic kings to restore the council, and published a bull for the "indiction of the same, November the twenty-fifth, 1560. At the "head of five papal legates at Trent was the cardinal of Mantua, Herculus Conzaga, and after his death cardinal Morone. In the seven"teenth session, held on the eighteenth of January, 1562, the council "was opened. In the following, the prohibition of books was treated "of, and letters of safe-conduct sent to the Protestants. In the twenty-first, the question about communion in both kinds; in the twenty"second, the holy mass; and, in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth,
"the latter sacraments were treated of; in the twenty-fifth and last, "held on the fourteenth of December, 1563, the doctrine of purgatory,
images, invocation of saints, and indulgences was handled, and the "council concluded with the usual acclamations and subscriptions. "After the fathers had subscribed, the ambassadors of Catholic kings "subscribed as witnesses in a different schedule."
How different is this line of conduct from that pursued by the impugners of truth. We here see the utmost pains taken by the pastors of the church, to elicit the doctrines taught by and received from the apostles of Christ. Here was no precipitation used; no hasty conclusions; no rejection of testimony unimpeachable; no reliance on private opinion; no display of empty learning; but the most careful research was made into the constant practice of the primitive ages, and of the different nations in the world on their first receiving the light of the Christian faith. Not so, however, the pretended reformers of religion at this time, whose demeanour was a scandal to that sacred name, and a display of irreligious blasphemy and insolence outraging common sense and decency. Luther is stiled by Fox the unmasker of Popery, and is ranked the father of the pretended reformation. Let us now see the disposition which prepared him for this work, so much extolled by those who hate the Catholic religion for their own temporal interest. In the preface to the first tome of his works, printed at Wirtemberg in 1582, Luther says, "I was mighty desirous to understand Paul in his "Epistle to the Romans: but was hitherto deterred, not by any faint“heartedness, but by one single expression in the first chapter, viz. therein is the righteousness of God revealed. For I hated that word, "the righteousness of God; because I had been taught to understand it "of that formal and active righteousness, by which God is righteous and "punishes sinners, and the unrighteous. Now knowing myself, though "I lived a monk of an irreproachable life, to be in the sight of God a "sinner, and of a most unquiet conscience, nor having any hopes to appease him with my own satisfaction, I did not love, nay, I hated this ❝righteous God, who punishes sinners; and with heavy muttering, if not "with silent blasphemy, I was angry with God, and said, as if it were not enough for miserable sinners, who are lost to all eternity by original “sin, to suffer all manner of calamity by the law of the Decalogue, "unless God by the gospel adds sorrow to sorrow, and even by the gospel threatens us with his righteousness and anger. Thus did I
rage with a fretted and disordered conscience." These, reader, are Luther's OWN WORDS, and must he not have been a most extraordinary instrument to work a reformation in the church of God, supposing him to have been actually commissioned to perform such a work? A man, by his own confession, raging "with a fretted and dis"ordered conscience,"-" angry with God,"-murmuring against him -hating him-and silently blaspheming his justice. Precious dispositions for a reformer of religion! Yet this is the man who is held up by the editors of Fox's Book of Martyrs as an object of veneration! But let us see what he says of the ancient fathers:-- "To what purpose "should any man rely on the ancient fathers, whose authority was revered for so many ages? For were not they too all blind? And even neg"lected Paul's clearest and most obvious words?-Brag now of the
authority of the ancients, and depend on what they say: when, as you see, every man of them neglected Paul, the brightest and most intelligible doctor; and were so deeply plunged into carnal sense, as kept them in a manner designedly at a distance from this morning star, or rather from this sun."-Lib. de Serv. Arb. tom. 2. fol. 480. 2. "Had Austin in plain terms asserted, that there is a power "in the church to make laws, what is Austin? Who shall oblige us "to believe him? If then so great an error, and such a sacrilege prevailed against the word of God for so long a time, with the consent, or submission, or approbation of all mankind-let them consider "if there be not good reason, why God would have no creature to be "credited."-Cont. Reg. Ang. tom. 2. fol. 345. 1. "Neither do I con
cern myself what Ambrose, Austin, the Councils, or practice of ages 66 say. Nor do I want king Harry to be my master in this point. I "know their opinions so well, that I have declared against them”—Ibid. fol. 347. 1.
Enough we think has been said to shew that while Catholics rely upon the promises of Christ, and refer to the testimony of all ages, Protestants have no other grounds for their faith than the visionary productions of self-conceit, and oftentimes arrogance. This boundless license was the occasion of those struggles and wars of desolation that fill the blood-stained pages of the annals of those times. The superiority of the Catholic mode of ascertaining truth over any other, cannot be better shewn than by relating an anecdote to be found in Butler's Saints' Lives, on the authority of the archbishop of Braga, in Portugal, one of the deputies of the council of Trent. Two of the prelates present at that synod, from their attachment to Lutheranism, acted as spies to condemn its decrees. By assisting, however, at the conferences and deliberations, in which all points were discussed before the decisions, they were edified and confirmed in the Catholic faith, by observing the - extreme difference of the method which the reformers pursued, who, in their deliberations about faith, consulted only their own private opinions, caprice, and fancy, as we have seen above in Luther, and that followed by the Catholics, who weighed every thing in the balance of the sanctuary, and by the most careful search into the undeviating and primitive tradition, and the faith of all nations, as we before observed, set the true doctrine of the church of Christ in a clear and perspicuous light. One of them afterwards distinguished himself by his advocacy of truth, and his successful efforts in refuting and converting the Cal- vinists and other sectaries. It is the practice with the adversaries of Catholicism, to represent its professors as blindly led by the priesthood, and it is said, that when a Catholic begins to inquire, he ceases to be a member of that church. The ignorance and falsity of such an assertion must be manifest to all who have read the preceding observations; because we have clearly proved that it is by inquiry, by searching into the records of past ages, and comparing them with the generally received opinions of the present, that Catholics become more and more confirmed in the truth of their faith. When Catholics see, on inquiry, the reformers of the sixteenth century bearing testimony to the evils -produced by their own doctrines, and compare these evils with the good works resulting from a correct observance of the laws of God,
and the precepts of the Catholic church, how can they do otherwise, as men of common sense, than adhere to that system which is the best? Dare not inquire, truly! Oh, yes; they dare and do inquire, and in their researches they find the apostles of the pretended reformation complaining in these terms:
"Men," says Luther, "are now more revengeful, covetous, and li"centious, than they were ever in the Papacy.' -Postil. super Evang. Dom. 1. Adv. And Dom. 26. Post. Trinit. Heretofore," says he, "when we were seduced by the pope, every man did willingly follow good works and now no man neither sayeth or knoweth any thing, "but how to get all to himself by exactions, pillage, theft, lying, 66 usury, &c."
Calvin, L. de Scandalis. "Of so many thousands, who renouncing Popery, seemed eagerly to embrace the gospel, how few have amended "their lives? Nay, what else did the greater part pretend to, but by "shaking off the yoke of superstition, to give themselves more liberty "to follow all kinds of lasciviousness."
Melancthon, on Matthew vi. says, "It is plain, that in these coun"tries, (he speaks of those countries which first embraced Luther's "reformation) men's whole concern almost is about banquetting, drunkenness, and carousing; and so strangely barbarous are the r people, that most men are persuaded, that if they do but fast one day, they must die the following night."
Paulus Eberus, a learned Lutheran divine, in his preface to Melancthon's Commentaries on the first Epistle to the Corinthians, speaking of Protestants in general, writes thus: "Our whole evangelical congregation abounds with so many divisions and scandals, that it is nothing "less than what it pretends to be. If you look upon the evangelical "teachers themselves, you will see that some of them are spurred on " with vain-glory, and an invidious zeal, &c. some of them raise un"reasonable debates, and then maintain them with unadvised heat. "There are many of them who pull down, by their wicked lives, what they had built up by the truth of their doctrine. Which evils, as every one sees with his own eyes, so has he great reason to doubt "whether your evangelical congregation be the true church, in which and such enormous vices are discovered."
Audrew Dudith, in his epistle to Beza, (Beza's Theological Epistles, ep. 1.) writes as follows: "What sort of people are our Protestants, straggling to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, "sometimes to this side, and sometimes to that? You may perhaps "know what their sentiments in matters of religion are to-day; but you can never certainly tell what they will be to-morrow. In what "article of religion do those churches agree among themselves, who "have cast off the bishop of Rome? Examine all from top to bottom, you shall scarce find one thing affirmed by one, which is not imme"diately condemned by another for wicked doctrine.".
Jacobus Andreas, on Luke, xxi. "The other part of the Germans, (viz. the Protestants) give due place to the preaching of the word of "God; but no amendment of manners is found among them; on the contrary, we see them lead an abominable, voluptuous, beastly life; " instead of fasts, they spend whole nights and days in revellings and "drunkenness."