Page images
PDF
EPUB

oo and

appearance of outward righteousness], “yet is he never a part of the holy church” [in reality]: the predestinate is ever a member of the church, although sometime he fall from grace adventitiâ, but not from the grace of predestination : ever taking the church for the convocation of the predestinate, whether they be in grace or not, according to present justice." i. e. whether they be converted already, or yet remain to be so, the predestinate, or elect, constitute, as such, that invisible church which God the Father hath chosen, and God the Son redeemed.

The grace of predestination is the band, wherewith the body of the church, and every member of the same, is indissolubly joined to Christ their head.”

Nothing can be more innocent and scriptural than these positions. But the religion of the Bible is not the religion of Rome. Hence, in the bull above mentioned, the pope thus fulminates against those doctrines and their abettors : “ certain arch-heretics have risen and sprung up, not against one only, but against divers and sundry documents of the catholic faith : being land-lopers, schismatics, and seditious persons; fraught with devilish pride and wolvish madness, deceived by the subtilty of satan, and, from one evil vanity, brought to a worse. Who, although they rose up and sprang in divers parts of the world, yet agreed they all in one, having their tails as it were knit together; to wit, John Wickliff of England, John Huss of Bohemia, and Jerom of Prague, of damnable memory, who drew with them no small number to miserable ruin and infidelity. We, therefore, having a desire to resist such evil and pernicious errors, and utterly root them out from amongst the company of faithful Christians, will and command your discretions, by our letters apostolical, that you that are archbishops, bishops, and other of the clergy, and every one of you by himself, or by any other or others, do see that all and singular per

sons, of what dignity, office, pre-eminence, state, or condition soever they be, and by what name soever they are known, who shall presume, obstinately, by any ways or means, privily or apartly, to hold, believe, and teach the articles, books, or doctrine of the foresaid arch-heretics, John Wickliff, John Huss, and Jerom of Prague; that then, as before, you see and cause them and every of them to be most severely punished ; and that you judge and give sentence upon them as heretics, and that, as arrant heretics, you leave them to the secular court or power. Furthermore we will and command, that, by this our authority apostolical, ye exhort and admonish all the professors of the catholic faith, as emperors, kings, dukes, princes, marquisses, earls, barons, knights, and other magistrates, rectors, consuls, proconsuls, shires, countries, and universities of the kingdoms, provinces, cities, towns, castles, villages, their lands and other places, and all other executing temporal jurisdiction, that they expel out of their kingdoms, provinces, cities, towns, castles, villages, lands and other places, all and all manner of such heretics; and that they suffer no such, within their shires and circuits, to preach, or to keep either house or family, or to use any handy-craft or occupations, or other trades of merchandize, or to solace themselves any ways, or to frequent the company of Christian men. And furthermore, if such public and known heretics shall chance to die, let him and them want Christian burial. His goods and substance also, from the time of his death, according to the canonical sanctions, being confiscate; let no such enjoy them to whom they appertain, until, by the ecclesiastical judges, sentence upon his or their crime of heresy be declared and promulgate.” The reader, who is desirous of perusing the whole of this bull, may see it in Fox, vol. i. from p. 737 to 742. But the sample here given, may suffice to show that Calvinism appeared as dreadful to the eyes of po

pery, as it can to those of John Wesley or Walter Sellon.

The see of Rome relished these doctrines no better, in the century that followed. Three years after the rise of Martin Luther, another flaming bull was issued against that reformer, by Leo X. Of this bull, these were some of the roarings : “Rise up, O Lord, , and judge thy cause, for foxes are risen up, seeking to destroy thy vineyard. Rise up, Peter, and attend to the cause of the holy church of Rome, the mother of all churches; against which, false liars have risen up, bringing in sects of perdition, to their own speedy destruction, whose tongue is like fire, full of unquietness, and replenished with deadly poison; who, having a wicked zeal, and nourishing contentions in their hearts, do brag and lie against the verity. Rise up, Paul, also: we pray thee, who hast illuminated the same church with thy doctrine and martyrdom, for now is sprung up a new porphiry, who, as the said porphiry did then unjustly slander the holy apostles, so semblably doth this man” (meaning Luther] “ now slander, revile, rebuke, bite, and bark against the holy bishops, our predecessors. Finally, let all the holy universal church rise up, and, with the blessed apostles, together make intercession to Almighty God, that the errors of all schismatics being rooted up, his holy church may be conserved in peace and unity. We, for the charge of our pastoral office committed unto us, can no longer forbear, or wink at the pestiferous poison of these foresaid errors; of which errors, we thought good to recite certain here, the tenor of which is as followeth." A long catalogue of pretended heresies is then given : among which, are these two :

In every good work the just man sinneth.

Free-will, after sin [i. e. ever since original sin], is a title and name only [i. e. a mere empty word, without reality or foundation in truth].

On these and the other articles asserted by Luther, pope Leo thus continues to descant: “ all which errors, there is no man in his right wits, but he knoweth the same, in their several respects; how pestilent they be, how pernicious, how much they seduce godly and simple minds, and, finally, how much they be against all charity, and against the reverence of the holy church of Rome, the mother of all faithful, and mistress of the faith itself; and against the sinews and strength of ecclesiastical discipline, which is obedience, the fountain and well-spring of all virtues, and without which every man is easily convicted to be an infidel. Wherefore, by the counsel and assent of the said our reverend brethren, upon due consideration of all and singular the premises; by the authority of Almighty God, and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own, we do condemn, reprove, and utterly reject all and singular the articles or errors aforesaid, respectively: and, by the tenor hereof, we here decree and declare, that they ought of all Christian people, both men and women, to be taken as damned, reproved, and rejected. And therefore forbidding here, under pain of the greater curse and excommunication ; Iosing of their diguities, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal; and to be deprived of all regular orders and privileges; also of losing their liberties to bold general schools, to read and profess any science or faculty; of losing also their tenures and feoffments, and of inability for ever to recover the same again, or any other; moreover, under pain of secluding from Christian burial, yea, and of treason also: we charge and command all and singular Christian people, as well of the laity, as of the clergy, that they shall not presume, publicly or privately, under any manner of pretence or colour, colourably or expressly, or how else soever, to hold, maintain, defend, preach or favour the foresaid errors, or any of them, or any such perverse doctrine (d).” This instrument, of which I have hardly retailed the tenth part, is dated June 15, 1520.

Honest Luther laughed at this ecclesiastical thunder and lightning. He published an answer, whose purport did equal honour to his integrity and intrepidity. “ A rumour reached me,” says the adamantine reformer, “that a certain bull was gone forth against me, and circulated almost over the world, before I had so much as seen it: though, in right, it ought to have been transmitted first and directly to my hands, I being the particular object at whom it was levelled.” The fact was, the pope's bull (somewhat like Mr. Wesley's abridgment of Zanchius) was, as Luther expresses it, of the owl or bat kind : it flew about surreptitiously and in the dark. Noctis et tenebrarum filia, timet lucem vultus mei, says Luther; hunc tamen ipsam noctuam vix tandem, multem adjuvantibus amicis in imagine suâ datum est videre: “this bird of night sought to elude my view; the owl was, however, though with some difficulty, caught by my friends, and brought to me, that I might survey the creature in its proper form." I do,” adds Luther, “hold, defend, and embrace, with the full trust of my spirit, those articles condemned and excommunicated in the said bull: and I affirm, that the same articles ought to be held of all faithful Christians under pain of eternal malediction; and that they are to be counted for antichrists, whosoever have consented to the said bull: whom I also, together with the spirit of all them that know the truth, do utterly detest and shun. And let this stand for thy revocation, O bulla, verè bullarum filia, O thou bull, which art the very daughter of all vain bubbles (e).” The pope got nothing by stigmatizing Luther with heresy and schism. The German re

(d) Fox, vol. ii. p. 537_541. (e) See Fox, ibid. p.

541. and sequ.

« PreviousContinue »