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eminent Divines of the reformed Church during the seventeenth century; and his Ecclesiastical History has raised him to the very first rank among the historians of the Christian Church. Though it has been eclipsed in later times by the more popular compendium of Mosheim, Professor Schroeckh, himself the most voluminous writer on this subject whom the last century has produced, has borne willing testimony to its value.* Of Spanheim's great work, which fills nearly two thousand closely printed columns in large folio, a judicious compendium was published by himself at Leyden, in 1689, in two thick volumes, intituled, “ Summa Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ a Christo nato ad sæculum XVI. inchoatum. Præmittitur Doctrina Temporum." This is the basis of Mr. Wright's neatly printed volume ; but he has very materially enriched and improved it by various additions, of which we proceed now to give some account to our readers.
The first division of Mr. W.'s work contains the elements of Technical Chronology, translated from Spanheim, for whose comparatively short tables, he has substituted a new and commodious set of Chronological Tables, compiled from the best accessible sources, from the first century of the Christian Æra to the end of the seventeenth century; exhibiting the contemporary sovereigns, popes or bishops of Rome, eminent theological and civil writers, heretics, and remarkable events, that occurred in each century.
To this succeeds a geographical description of ancient Palestine, which is not to be found in the edition of Spanheim's “ Summa Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ,” which we have consulted. It is abridged from his “ Introductio ad Geographiam Sacram,” which was printed in 1679, and which is also to be found in the first volume of his collective works. From this last-mentioned volume Mr. Wright has abridged his “ Ecclesiastical History of the Old Testament,” the principal events of which are succinctly related : it is divided into nine epochs, terminating at the birth of Christ.
The “ Ecclesiastical History of the New Testament,” which commences with that great event, is a compressed translation of Spanheim's “ Summa Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ" already noticed : it is divided into sixteen centuries, in each of which are discussed the following topics, viz. the State of the Church - Eminent Teachers— Propagation of Christianity-Doctrine, Rites, and Ceremonies - Ecclesiastical Polity -Corruptions in the Church-Heresies –Councils — Ecclesiastical Writers – and Miscellaneous Events. These several topics are perspicuously related : we have been particularly pleased with the accuracy with which the progressive corruptions of religion are described, together with the various steps by which the Romish Church attained
• Christlicke Kirchen-Geschischte, Vol. I. p. 222.
its usurped domination. We subjoin one or two passages, which (we think) will gratify our readers. Our first extract shall be the character of Pope Gregory VII., better known by the name of Hildebrand, who carried papal tyranny, insolence, and pride to its utmost height.
Cardinal Benno, who was present at the council of Nuremburg, where Hildebrand was deposed, says, that he practised magic, and “ was an impious, perjured, perfidious, cruel, proud, superstitious, and hypocritical man." He was, also, an admirer of the fair sex, particularly in the person of his mistress Mathilda, from whom he extorted the provinces of Tuscany and Genoa.
He is accused, upon good evidence, of having removed some of his predecessors by poison, and of obtaining the pontificate by purchase. His first decrees breathed the spirit of uncontrolled power both in temporal and spiritual affairs.
He was elected in a tumult of the laity in the evening on which Pope Alexander died, and immediately sent letters, dictated in lofty terms, to various princes and powers of Christendom, commanding their subjection, under pain of anathema, and declaring they held their sceptres for the benefit of the apostolic see : and he claimed, as tributary to the Roman Church, the kingdoms of Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, France, England, Poland, Hungary, and the dutchy of Bohemia, &c. At the election of the Emperor, he required him to swear true obedience, and to perform whatever the pope should command him. In short, he created and deposed emperors, kings, and princes at his pleasure, and, like imperial Jove, brandished his thunders against the high and the low, among the sons of men.
Although the vicar of Christ, who brought peace and good will to men, Gregory lighted up the flames of war, and fomented the rebellion of subjects against their sovereign.. The devastations, and fields moistened with human blood, throughout Germany were literally the work of his hands. Historians cannot describe without horror the dreadful scenes which were caused by his wars with Henry IV. and other princes.
The contest of Gregory with the Emperor Henry IV.is, indeed, singular and ferocious. Henry is justly extolled for many valuable qualities, but he was not of a disposition to bear tamely the pride, threats, commands, and citations of the pope, nor to behold unmoved the excommunication of his ministers and bishops. Gregory persisted, however, till the Emperor's patience was exhausted, and a council was convoked at Worms, at which many bishops from France, Germany, and Italy, were present; it was there decreed, that Gregory had been unlawfully raised to the see, and was in many respects a wicked man, and therefore ought to abdicate. No way dismayed, Gregory immediately excommunicated the Emperor and all his adherents, deposed him from his kingdom, and gave it to Rodolph. No one dared to have communication even with the great Emperor of Germany, upon whom the pope had pronounced his dreadful curses, and Henry's friends and even domestics soon abandoned hiin. He was compelled to go to Canosa, in the midst of winter, to lay aside his royal robes, and to stand, in a suppliant state and posture, fasting, and with naked feet, in the court yard of the pope's palace among the lackeys. Even these hard conditions, and others more severe, did not soften the heart of Gregory; he again excommunicated Henry, and commanded Rodolph to take possession of the kingdom. As an earnest of success, he sent him an imperial crown, and the prediction of the death of Henry. After many vicissitudes on both sides, Henry marched to Rome, and at length completely triumphed over Gregory; a new pope, Clement III., was elected, and the stubborn Gregory was banished to Salerno A.D. 1035.
Such being the conduct of this pope, the reader must expect to hear that the dogmas which he delivered, were equally foreign to the Gospel; so that by many writers he is not unjustly denominated an antichrist. He is, however, highly extolled by the papists; his visions, miracles, prophecies, and cures, are enumerated with wonderful reverence. Baronius constantly runs into
FOL. XI. NO. III.
hyperbole when speaking of him. “ In Gregory,” says he, “the grace of the Holy Spirit abundantly inhabited, so that beyond all other men he excelled in divine things by the gift of the same Spirit:” and he gives a spiritual meaning and purpose to the connexion of this pope with the fair Mathilda, the princess of Lombardy and Tuscany.--Pp. 461—463.
Yet has this wicked man, whose whole life was one unceasing and unprincipled effort to realise universal dominion, been enrolled by the Romish Church in the catalogue of her saints, in defiance of the reclamations of every government in her communion ; so that he is at present worshipped only in Italy and in IRELAND.
The events which took place in the sixteenth century, are particularly interesting, but the account of them is too long to admit of being extracted : we shall, therefore, only insert the following character of the accomplished but profligate pontiff, Leo. X., together with a few particulars concerning the unprincipled sale of indulgences, and its effects in accelerating the Reformation.
John de Medicis succeeded Julius, under the title of Leo X. The writers of those times very properly place him at the head of the Epicureans of his day. One laudable trait in his character was his love of literature; he frequently extended his fostering hand to bring forward men of genius and science, of which he was an excellent judge; but in all other respects he was a vicious man, and obtained the objects of his wishes, whether wealth or power, by the crooked paths of perfidy and fraud, marked out by Machiavel. Leo was most ignorant of Religion, excepting the few ceremonies which he had to perform in public; and it is said he even treated Christianity as a fable. In several particulars he trod in the steps of Julius II. He continued the council of the Lateran which Julius had convoked, and he persevered in his machinations against Louis XII. Finding his own forces inefficient, he subsidized a large body of Swiss troops to take the field against the French, with whom he carried on a war. He united very opposite qualities in his character. He patronized learning, was greedy of money, studious of military warfare, and devoted to pleasures, games, amours, hunting, convivial parties, and grand pontifical suppers, surpassing even Lucullus in luxury and splendour. He was lavish in the extreme in his gifts to his friends, and daily expended large sums in this manner.
To support his extravagance and replenish his coffers, he extorted the annats (or first-fruits) with great rigour from Francis and the French clergy. He deprived Rovere, the nephew of Julius II. of the dutchy of Urbino. He blew the trumpet for a new Crusade to the Holy Land, with the design of securing a portion of the money, which would pass through the pontifical treasury. He opened a vein of gold in the mine of papal indulgences for his sister Magdalene, and sold a paper remission of sins to every individual who had piety and faith sufficient to induce him to become a purchaser. The frequency of this practice and its attendant opprobrious circumstances, brought great reproach upon religion; and had more influence, perhaps, than any other thing, to rouse the spirit of several eminent men, whose attempts to produce a reformation were favoured by Divine Providence; so that a large part of the Church of Christ emerged from the surrounding darkness into the light of true religion.—Pp. 633, 634.
Although the Church was much debased, it seemed hardly possible that the consciences and souls of men should become a jest, and heaven be sold for a stipulated price. This unheard of impiety attained its climax in the pontificates of Alexander VI. and Leo X.: the latter, who was the most expensive and luxurious of all the popes, sent his agents into various parts of Europe with full power to sell remission of every kind and degree of sin. So profitable was this traffic, and so great the necessities of Leo and his fair sister, that in Germany alone, the practice was repeated thrice in the space of three years, viz. in the years 1514, 1516, and 1517. John Tetzel, a Dominican friar, was employed in this affair, and accompanied his offers to sell indulgences, with the most impudent and shameless language, declaring that “ the souls of deceased persons would'Aly from purgatory to heaven, as soon as the jingling of the money, paid for the indulgence was heard in his box." The price of a plenary absolution of every sin was ten shillings, and Christians were persuaded, that they might, at this small expense, ensure a safe entrance into the regions of purity, holiness and joy. The pretexts which were urged to excuse the sale of indulgences were, the expense of building St. Peter's Church, the necessary preparations to resist the threatened invasion of the Turks, and some other triffing reasons; but the true cause is to be found in the luxury and prodigality of Leo and his sister. The circumstance of such repeated sales of pardon for sin, roused the spirit of Martin Luther, and other eminent men, to rescue the church from worse than Egyptian bondage.
Luther was a monk of the Augustine order, a doctor and professor of divinity in the University of Wittemburg. He had long been a zealous defender of the doctrine of Augustine, respecting the free grace of God and the necessity of righteousness of life. His first public act, except his sermons and lectures, was to oppose ninety-five Theses against indulgences, purgatory, penance, and other abuses of the Church, which he offered publickly to defend before the University against all comers. This was in the year 1517. These Theses, with explanatory letters, he submitted to Albert of Brandenburg, archbishop of Mentz, exhorting him to abolish the absurd and sinful practice of granting indulgences. Luther was cited to Rome the next year. In the mean time, he sent other explanatory letters to the archbishop, to John Stupitius, vicar-general of his order, and also to Leo X., to whom as yet Luther referred himself and the whole matter. But the evil was aggravated at Rome. In the year 1518 a new sale of indulgences was advertised by Leo, and the sale made accordingly. The power of the pontiff was extolled more highly than ever, by the writers of the Roman court : letters were also sent to Frederic, elector of Saxony, to forward the views and purpose of Cardinal Cajetan, who was sent into Germany to re-establish the falling credit of paper pardons, and to reduce the refractory Luther and his friends to obedience. He was, however, disappointed. Luther was inflexible. The influence of his doctrines was surprising, and suon spread over Saxony. Some judicious measures which he adopted, such as translating the Bible into the vernacular language, printing sermons, tracts, Psalms, &c., had a good effect, in extending the truth; and from this beginning, the reformation, so ardently desired, proceeded, until a large part of Germany, Prussia, England, Switzerland, Holland, and other countries, renounced communion with the corrupted Church of Rome, and formed religious establishments according to their own ideas of expediency, and the consent of Scripture.—Pp. 639—641.
We have compared different parts of Mr. Wright's volume with Spanheim's original treatises, and justice requires us to state that he is not a servile translator. While he has faithfully given the sense of his author, he has enriched his pages with many interesting and instructive notes ; and we regard his publication as a valuable access sion to ecclesiastical literature, which will be found peculiarly useful to candidates for Holy Orders, and to clergymen, who will here find a more condensed survey of the history of the Christian Church, than we recollect ever to have seen in the compass of a single volume.
Art. III.-A Literal Translation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews,
from the original Greek, with copious explanatory Notes, by the late Rev. GEORGE VAUGHAN SAMPSON, M. A. M. R. I. A, H.M.G.S. L. Rector of Errigal, Diocese of Derry, Author of the Statistical Survey, Chart, and Memoir of the County of Londonderry. Edited by his Son, the Rev. George Vaughan Sampson. London: Rivingtons. pp. 199. Price 78. 6d.
It is something more than confidence that is required in him who offers to the public a new translation of any part of Scripture. To translate the Bible well, demands much :-critical and profound skill in the original languages, thorough knowledge of history and customs, study of ancient versions, acquaintance with primitive interpretation, perfect purity of purpose, and, especially, sobriety of mind, and stoical indifference to hypothesis. All these great and rare qualities, seldom combined in any individual, (never indeed in their perfection) are yet always justly expected from him who voluntarily undertakes to render the word of God. But the task is eminently arduous, where an attempt is made to improve upon the version authorized by the Church of England : a version not intrusted to the infirmities of any individual, however qualified, but the joint production of an assemblage of piety, learning, diligence, and sober fidelity never surpassed, perhaps never equalled, since the Apostolic age. This version is all that it might be expected to prove ; it is, by common consent of friends and foes (Socinians and Sabellians excepted) allowed to be the most faithful ever given to the world.* To affirm that it is perfect, would be to follow the absurdities of the Romanists, who contend for the unqualified and perfect correctness of the Latin vulgate : no member of the Church of England affirms any such thing, and scholars have pointed out many minor errors and corrigible points in the Anglican version. Still the general fidelity of the translation is unimpeached, and all who allow the Scriptures the virtue which St. Paul claims for them, admit that the English Bible is able to make men wise unto salvation. If this be the case, some important reason should be manifested why a new English translation of any entire book should be put forth ; and the translator should certainly bring with him, in the most eminent degree, the qualifications which his attempt supposes and implies. And if the authorized version be really the faithful representation of the original which it is allowed to be, it will follow that any other version, widely departing from it, cannot convey a very just idea of that original.
In the Epistles of St. Paul, the merits of the authorized version do not exactly stand on the same footing as in the other parts of Scrip
* See Horne's Introduction, Part. I. Ch. vi. $ 3, where testimonies are adduced.