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spiritual extortion. To gild the pentance ; and that robberies bait, which he wished the people and murders, the most detestable greedily and universally to swal- immoralities, the most unnatural low, he pretended an anxiety to and even unheard of crimes, finish the building of the church nay, blasphemies against God dedicated to St. Peter, which Ju- and the holy Virgin, were sins, for lius II. had begun. By this he which it was easy to obtain pardon. hoped at once to render the sale He pretended, in short, to give of indulgences more productive, absolution equally of sins past, and to gratify his natural lore of and of sins to come : sold withmagnificence. In arranging the out scruple, remission of crimes, manner in which this plan was and license to commit them; to be carried into effect, he fixed and withheld forgiveness from on Albert, archbishop of Mentz those only, who despised induland Magdeburg, and brother of gences, or denied their efficacy." the elector of Brandenburg, as With this doctrine, Tetzel and his commissary for Germany ; his associates came into the dioand accordingly, in 1517, sent cess of Magdeburg, in which him a commission to extend and Wittemberg is situated, where establish the authority of indul. Luther was; who having never gences throughout all the pror- thoroughly studied the subject inces of the empire.
of indulgences,t when he saw i Albert delegated the office to the people around him, running John Tetzel, a Dominican inquis in crowds to purchase them, conitor, whose private character tented himself at first, with was as immoral, as the object of preaching that something differhis labours was iniquitous. This ent from tumultuously flocking to shameless monk, who had no obtain ecclesiastical pardons, was mean talents for declamatory and required by God, in order to obpopular eloquence, and, as the tain salvation. In subsequent „servant of the Teutonic knights, discourses he asserted the same in their war against the Russians, doctrine, but on finding that the had long been accustomed to the Elector was displeased, he resolr. flagitious traffic, had the effron- ed to be silent on the subject. tery to preach, that a red cross But the effect of indulgences in elevated in the churches, with the preventing the exercise of peniarms of the Pope, had the same tential discipline, soon obliged virtue as the cross of Christ ; him to examine more narrowly that he himself had saved more their nature and tendency ; for souls by indulgences than. St. he found, that the possession of Peter had by his preaching; that these forms of absolution was no sooner did the money tinkle considered as effectual, not only in the chest, than the souls.. for to secure the removal of the spirwhose benefit they . were pur itual guilt and punishment of sin, chased, were released from purgatory, and ascended to heaven; * Beausobre, vol. I. p. 33. that the grace derived from them † His own words are, “ Ego vero, was the same with that which res ita me Christus servator salvet, ne
scirem quid essent indulgentix." conciles man to God ; that they Lutheri Apol. advers. Henr. Brulso superseded the necessity of re- wic.
but to deliver from the temporal the impiety of tenets, which ren: penances which the church pre- dered personal inquiry about. scribed. Convinced that this salvation altogether. unnecessary, i opinion had the mošt pernicious and allowed of the most flagitendency, he refused to absolve tious conduct, by removing the several persons, to whom he act- fear both of present and future; ed as confessor, though they had punishment. They began to received indulgences, unless they think, and they needed only to also submitted to the established think, in order to see, to a cerdiscipline. Conceiving them- tain extent, at least, the evils: selves to be injured, they come which were thus introduced plained to Tetzel,who was so high- Tetzel, however, flattering himJy irritated at this supposed insult self, that the powerful and saagainst his authority, as to threat. cred protection of the Pope, and en with the inquisition, all who the dread of the office which he presumed to call it in question held as a member of the court of
Luther, on receiving this in- inquisition, would awe Luther, formation, became angry in his into silence, and the people into turn, and in the heat of his zeal, subjection, condemned the obthough not without a conviction noxious propositions to the of the propriety of the measure, flames, stigmatizing them as recomposed and published ninety- plete with heresies and blasphefive theses or propositions, con- mies. To prove this accusation, taining many convincing argu- he published an hundred and six ments against the scandalous counter-propositions, as destitute traffic of the Romish emissaries, of sound reasoniog, or scriptural together with a stateinent.of sev- sentiment, as they were full of eral points on which he profess- strong invectives against hereed to be doubtful, and which he tics, and broad assertions of the proposed as subjects of more de- supreme power of the Pope in liberate consideration. Some of heaven and on earth. So con these propositions sapped the temptible did they appear to Luvery foundation of the practice ther, that he thought them un. which they opposed, though worthy of refutation ; insomuch none of thein disputed the right that in a series of new proposiwhich the Pope had to issue in- tions which he soon afterwards dulgences, but on the contrary, printed, Tetzel was not once manifested a superstitious sub- mentioned. This second treajection to his supremacy. It is tise vent much farther than the by no means an easy exertion to first. It attacked several docshake off prejudices early im- trines that were prevalent in the bibed, and long riveted ; be- church, denying the power that sides, the truth was yet but im was attributed to free will, and perfectly known to the mind of the merit of good works, and ret Luther.
jecting the excessive deference These theses were rapidly cir- that was paid to the opinions of culated through Germany, and the school divines. He affirmwere the means of opening the ed, that on the part of man, notheyes of many, formerly blinded ing exists before grace, but disby ignorance and superstition, to inclination, and even rebellions that without grace there is no this lucrative commission was virtue, and with it there is still given principally to the Dominiimperfection ; that the habit of cans, in the records relating to righteousness is acquired by the indulgences, the name of an Auperformance of good works ; but gustine friar is scarcely to be met that it is necessary to have right- with ; and not a single act, in eousness in the heart, in order to which this office is granted to do works really good.*
their order.* This accusation, It is proper, in this part of our besides, was not brought forward narrative, to take notice of the by any of the writers of that age. opinion which has been received Maimbourg himself, who only by several authors of no incon, insinuates it, does not ascribe the siderable name, and industrious- pique to Luther, but to Staupitz, ly retailed by a multitude of in- though the character of this moda ferior writers, that the Augus-, est and venerable man, is of ittine friars having been usually self sufficient to refute it. Even employed, in Saxony, to preach Cardinal Bellarmine does not indulgences, the appointment of suggest it ; nay, Tetzel does not the Dominicans to this office, appear once to have suspected piqued Luther, who was an Au it. “ Can it be supposed, then," gustine, and made him resent the to use the words of the transla, affront that was thus put on his, tor of Mosheim, 54 that motives order. This opinion is main. to action, which escaped the pry: tained by Bossuet, and other his-, ing eyes of Luther's cotempora, torians of the Romish church, ries," and we may add, his ene. and sanctioned by the authority mies, “ should have discovered of our countryman Hume,t themselves to us, who live at whose prejudices against Chrisin such a distance of time from the tianity seem to have perverted scene of action, to M. Bossuet, his judgment respecting almost to Mr. Hume, and to other abelcvery fact connected with it. It ters of this ill contrived and foolis false that the Augustines usu- ish story? Either there are no ally possessed the right of pub- rules of moral evidence, or this lishing indulgences in Saxony. assertion is entirely ground, The Dominicans had, in con- less.”'I junction with the Franciscans, In the beginning of 1518, Lu. exclusively exercised that em- ther went to Heidelberg, to atployment from the year 1507; tend a general meeting of the and Tetzel in two days had rais- chapter of the Augustines, and ed 2000 florins at Fridburg, with was courteously entertained by out any opposition from the Au- the elector Palatine, and his gustines ; which, when we con- brother Wolfgang, the disciple sider their spirit, is altogether of Oecolampadius, to whom he inconsistent with the idea, that had received recommendations this booty of right belonged to them. Nay, from 1224, when * Mosheim, Cent: 16. 51. chap. 2
note ( which contains a full and • Seckendorf, p. 40..
satisfactory refutation of the whole - + Hist. of England, ch. 29. reign charge... of Henry VIII.
† Maimbourg, B. 1. p. 23. Beausobre, vol. I. p. 68.
Mosheim ut sup.
from Frederic. As no business a request, which Frederic did not of importance was before them, forget. * . Luther embraced the opporuni. In the progress of this controty of proposing forty theses, or versy, the light of truth gradualpositions, on free will, faith, jus- ly broke in on the mind of Lutification, and good works, to ther,t who, at first, thought of which he gave a paradoxical little more than checking the inform, as the subjects of public solence of Tetzel, and preventing disputation. After having, ac- the dangerous effects of the sale cording to custom, publicly ex- of indulgences, which he saw to posed them in writing, the de; be prostituted to the worst of bate was opened in presence of a purposes. He did not at once crowded and brilliant assembly, throw off the yoke of papal powin which Luther maintained his er, or the opinions of the school, positions with uncommon ap. men ; but only censured the plause, and with such success, abuse of the one, and the infallithat they were soon after adopt bility ascribed to the other. At ed and taught as the doctrines of last, however, he discovered that the Heidelberg academy. Mar. the holy scriptures are the only tin Bucer, and other eminent authoritative and infallible standmen, who afterwards supported ard of doctrine and duty ; and the reformation, being present, rejected every thing that was not admired his eloquence ; com- built on this foundation. The pared his sentiments to those progressive manner in which he of Erasmus ; preferred his bold- arrived at this conviction, suffiness to the timidity of the latter; ciently accounts for the appearand declared, that the acuteness ance of abject humility to power of his reasoning, and the precis- and opinions, which we shall ion of his language resembled have occasion to remark in some the style of St. Paul, rather than parts of his conduct. The pub; that of Duns Scotus.* But the lications of Silvester de Prierias, principal advantage which he de- and John de Eck, or Eckius, prorived from this journey, was the fessor of theology at Ingolstadt, friendship of Laurence de Bibra, in defence of Tetzel, led Luther þishop of Wurtzburg, who saw to adopt the principles which and lamented the corruption of may be considered as the founthe church, and resisted to the dation of the whole reformation, utmost of his power, the promul. The malignity and virulence gation of indulgences in his dio- which Eckius displayed, and the cess. This prelate did not live contemptible sophistry of Prieritill the reformation was accom- as, made him suspect that the plished; but before his death, he rendered an important service to Beausobre, page 85, from a MS. the, cause, by writing Frederic, Life of Frederic, by Spalatinus. and conjuring him not to suffer + “Optime lector, memento me Luther to leave his territories, unum fuisse ex illis, qui, ut Augusti.
nus de se scribit, scribendo et docendo
profecerint, non de illis qui de nihilo * MS. Hist. of the Reformed Pala repente fiunt summi." These are his tine Churches, in Seckendorf, p. 29, own expressions in the preface to his and 49.
authority of the Pope, proved by am losing it every day. 'All that the decrees of Popes, and of the remains to me is a weak body, Romish church, whose infallibil- sinking under the weight of conity was established by the same tinual hardships : let them take circular mode of reasoning, was it froih me, either by violence, a doctrine unknown in the word or by cunning; I am ready to of God. He accordingly, in re. obey God. They will only, perply, laid down these two princi- haps, shorten my life a few moples : First, “ That it is necessa- ments. Jesus Christ, my Sary to prove all things, and to hold viour, is all-sufficient for me, and fast that which is good.” i Thes. supplies the place of every thing; v. 21. Gal. i. 8, 9, Secondly, as long as I live, I will sing “ That there is no infallible au- hymns to his honour.” The thority on earth, but that of the bislrop disapproved of the trea. holy scriptures." His answers tise, though he was an enemy to to these opponents were quickly indulgences ; and wished him followed by a larger treatise, either to suppress, or at least to which illustrated and defended defer its publication, Luther his former theses. - It defined complied with neither of these the proper nature of penance, as wishes. consisting in godly sorrow, man. Hitherto the dispute was con: ifested by its necessary fruits, fined to a few monks ; the peofasting, (which includes every ple at large were only spectators, species of mortification,) prayer, waiting for its issue : and had and alms; restricted the use of Lea been satisfied with imposindulgences, yet asserted the au- ing silence on the disputants, it thority of the Pope ; and main, is prolyable the reformation would tained the doctrine of purgatory. never have taken place. This is The dedication was indeed ad- said to have been his own opindressed to Leo, and contained the ion for he regarded it as a mat. humblest submission both of his ter of very little consequence ; person and works to that pontiff, and when informed by Prierias declaring that he was ready to of Luther's heresy, he only rereceive his sentence, whether plied, that “ Friar Martin was a approving or condemning, as man of a very fine gepius, and that of Jesus Christ, who presid- that these disputes were merely ed in his person, and spake by his the effusions of monastic envy." mouth.*
Leo was, however, at length Luther sent this book to tlie roused from his indifference and bishop of Brandenburg, and to supineness, by the incessant Staupitz, whom he entreated to remonstrances of the Domini. convey it to the Pope, conclud- cans, and by the instigation of ing with these words, which will the emperor Maximilian, who be a lasting proof of his courage, trembled for the consequences and love to the truth : “I have of the flame that had been kinno possessions, nor do I wish dled in his dominions, the ardour any ; if I had any reputation, I of which had very lately been in
creased by the violence of Hoch, • Resolutioncs disput. de indulgent. strat, who threatened his oppovirtute, ad Leoncm X. Pontit: ad sim. nent with tortures and death.