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ness to a just sense of their danger and their duty, it is to be feared, that nothing short of the infliction of judicial blindness is reserved for them,-if, indeed, it has not already commenced, and “ That God's righteous judgment will overtake the British empire with a blow far worse than that from which our Church this day commemorates her deliverance.”
A REVIEW OF MARTIN LUTHER'S VIEWS COMPARED WITH
THE ROMANISTS', ON CLOISTER VOWS, CELIBACY, POVERTY, · AND OBEDIENCE TO THE RULE OF THEIR ORDER, AND
DISPENSATIONS. ARRANGED BY REV. C. SMYTH, B.A., OXON., FROM HIS “GERMAN TREATISES,"
(Continued from page 317.) The next characteristic appears in the raiment and various dresses of the countless fraternities, which drew upon the brotherhood as it were divine respect. Hence such honour to dresses ; to the red cardinal's hat; the double-pointed mitre; the scarlet train. The Re. former alludes to their tonsured heads, and high-scented, oily hands. It was usual now to divide Christians into two classes to speak of one of them as devoted to God, and serving Him in office, and contemplation, and prayer; to speak of them as kings, ruling over themselves and others in holiness amd righteousness; as having a sovereignty emanating froin God, which was typified by the tonsured crowns upon their heads. This crown the Romish Church instituted to be worn above the temples, as an emblem of the expected kingdom of the Lord Jesus, in which the clergy would reign triumphant above all with Christ.
When the monks were required to produce their grounds and reasons for adopting the life of cloistered celibacy, they told Luther and the world they could allege two sufficient warrants; the first of which, according to their interpretation of the Gospel, was an opinion that the Gospel is not universally applicable to mankind for a rule of life; and that it is accordingly divisible into counsels and commandments. But Luther addresses them in the following terms :" You say, that your rule of the Celibate is grounded on the counsels of Christ's Gospel, and not on its commandments'; and you add, that the latter only are obligatory upon the general mass of Christians. You know not, it appears to me, what the Gospel is, when you divide it into a system of counsels on the one hand, and of commandments on the other ; because I assure you it is nothing but a consoling, gracious promise from the Almighty, mixed with precepts and admonitions. Is the Gospel, I ask, to be completely observed but by a few? Why, then, is it to be published to all the world, if the many are justified in rejecting it by one-half? No; it contains not any announcement from God to tell you to make vows of retiring within a monastery and nunnery. Where is the Scripture's testimony for so doing ? Show one letter or tittle for the practice. Observe, here is the ground and foundation of every cloister. But the vow is unbelief! (gelobde ist unglaube). It is despite to the Gospel ! (verachtung des Evangelii ). Your division of the Christian life into a state of perfection, and a state of imperfection, is another error. You ascribe the latter to the multitude, and the former to yourselves; although, in fact, the statement requires to be made just the contrary.”
These views were controverted by the Romanists, who drew up a protest, which they presented before the Diet of the Empire assembled at Augsburg, 1530. The Romanists expressed their opinions upon the subject of spiritual vows, and defended them by such arguments as these, viz., that religious vows were based upon precedents to be found in the Old and New Testaments; that vows were in existence long before the monasteries; that it had never been heard or asserted that the ecclesiastics were in a state of perfection, but only that the spiritual state is the instrument and means for attaining to perfection ; and that it was by no means an impossibility to adhere to vows, particularly if prayer and correction and fasting were pursued; for then every vow might be fulfilled, but principally the cause of falling was to be avoided, and the religions professed must dash the little infant thoughts, as it were, against the rock; in other words, first thoughts must be repressed by a remembrance of Christ. The Romapists quoted the celebrated passage in confirmation of their views, viz., they pointed to the passage where it is written, “ Ask, and it shall be given to you." · They said it was perfectly well known how many thousands of persons, men and women, had thoroughly preserved their cloister vow, and in consequence were saved ; they used several other arguments, which were far less plausible, and some of them approached to the profane. It was on the 6th of August the dispute between the Lutherans and Romanists was brought to the vote and opinion of the members of the Diet. The Bishop of Augsburg, being diocesan of the place, a man of prudence and firmness, rose up, and recommended fair dealing and circumspection to the princes and bishops, and expressed his inost decided conviction that the Lutherans had denied no one article of faith, and that the best course to take would be to consult for the tranquillity of the Church. The Bishop of Salzburg immediately told him that he had used different words to himself. The Bishop of Augsburg pleaded guilty to the charge, and said that he was wrong, and meant to change his opinions and practice, and told his accuser he would not persist in the course he recommended to him. Instantly the Elector of Brandenburg raised his voice in a loud tone, and declared it was false to say the Lutherans had not denied any article of the Christian faith. The Bishop of Augsburg persisted that he was right, and asked what Articles were intended which the Lutherans denied ? It was replied, they had denied the Article relating to the Catholic Church, and the invocation of the saints. The Bishop of Augsburg answered, “ the invocation of the saints is no article of the faith.” Thus the Lutherans were considered by him to hold to the true Christian Church, and the Bishop contended that their controversy was only aimed at the abuses of the Romish Church ; and he avowed that it was impossible for any one to deny that the Church of Rome was addicted to many abuses.
We will return to the subject of vows, and hear the great Reformer using the following argument against the monastic profession, viz., “ Let us, then, take a view into this practice, and let us now see what has been vowed by a friar or a nun. Their own words, when truly interpreted, amount to the following declaration, In the presence of God Almighty I promise that I will be obedient (they do not say to the Gospel) to my abbot alone; prior, or my prelate ; and in this manner I promise to observe the Gospel.'”.
Luther next considers the vow of poverty which was taken by recluses, and observes that they ought to reflect upon and cultivate much rather the poverty of spirit preached in the Gospel, than to pique and pride themselves upon renouncing all temporalities; and yet they were accused for managing, by means of stewards, to amass vast wealth, although the names of the religious did not appear in their worldly transactions; and Luther adds, that he had heard with his own ears many eminent persons amongst the ecclesiastics declaring that no wealthier persons existed anywhere than amongst the clergy and monastic orders. · According to Gratian and the Canonists, a man in the holy order ought to possess no worldly property ; that is, as the clergy are the Lord's portion or inheritance, as the word cleros in Greek, and the term sors in Latin signified, they ought to be satisfied with being God's own possession, and with having him for their possession. Such was the opinion of St. Ambrose, who,, in his treatise “ De fugâ Sæculi,” declared that the ministers of Christ's religion should adopt for their rule the following principle, “ Nudam Crucem nudus sequor," in which judgment he agrees with St. Jerome; and Gregory gave the same direction to Augustine, Bishop of Britain; and Pope Urban wrote to all Catholics for the clergy to possess all things in common. But the Reformer puts the following question, and desires to be informed how or why the monks can call themselves poor brethren, how they can describe their convent as poor, and themselves a poor brotherhood, when they labour under no penury, under no privation, but have abundance of food and superfluity of clothing? He puts the following home question :
“ Who ever heard that poverty consisted in this, when I or you possess nothing of our own, and yet we have more than sufficient from our general stock? Over their larders were written, in capital letters, Deus providebit.' And what will you say in vindication of those friars, who have been elected from cloisters to the Papacy? or to the rank of Cardinals, to the office of dignified Bishops, and ecclesiastical honours ? Surely these persons always have their own property, and not only their own resources, but the provinces and their inhabitants, with towns and castles, villages, and court attendants, princely pomp, horses, mules, &c. Does not the Pontiff grant them these inheritances, as lord over them ? And, what. is more, does not the Pope insist upon being the disposer of secular property as well as ecclesiastical ? And now what is become of your vow of poverty? Is the vow of poverty one that may be shifted ? In short, when I for the first time entered a friary, and made my vow of poverty, I made no promise to become a Prior or Provost, but to live and die a poor brother of the Augustinian order.
“I perfectly well remember a story which Dr Staupitz told me of
a certain Prior in a monastery, Staupitz was visitor of the Augustinian order, and the Prior constantly complained to him that the resources of the establishment were very inadequate for its support; and to supply all the monks with necessaries. At last Staupitz requested him to give up the receipt book of income, and expenditure, in which the visitor discovered that the monasterial property became greatly augmented every year; he, therefore, made the Prior to appear and answer, and removed him from his office, and addressed him in the following terms:- Thou art a faithless man, and therefore it is impossible that you can properly govern the foundation.””
In his “ Exposition of the Twenty-fifth Chapter of Genesis," the Reformer speaks of the far-spread and very dangerous, though admired language of St. Ambrose, when, in commenting upon the words of Christ, in Luke xvi.; viz., “that they may receive you into everlasting habitations ;" that celebrated bishop uttered this sentence, “ Regnum coelorum est pauperum.” Luther remarks that this sentence went through every heart, and pierced like a sharp sword. People have most earnestly and loudly proclaimed, that if the rich have any desire to be saved, then they must purchase it from the poor; but by the poor were intended the Franciscans or barefoot monks, fratres minores, and the other spiritual brethren, who hold the kingdom of heaven in their hands, and from them every other man must buy it.
- (To be continued.),
. THE “TIMES,” VERSUS POPISH condition of Popery worth their acASCENDANCY.
ceptance but that which enables them
to domineer over and put down every “Fallen ! fallen! fallen! :/ : other faith, why then it is they, and Fallen from its high degree !" not the Protestants of this land, who
put the alternative of Popery or no EXTRACT FROM A SPEECH OF REV. Popery." . : HUGH M'NEILE, D.D. ; . It may be asked, Sir, how long it is IN corroboration, Sir, of the great ago since the “Times” published principle on which I ventured to 'this? That will be shown in the ground this proposal—the intoler- course of this extract, ance of Rome I would take the. “The Protestants are ready enough liberty, with your permission, if I do to tolerate Papists; but they will not not weary the audience, to read an tolerate us." extract from the “ Times” news Now, Sir, we have shown 'ourselves paper. It is headed, “ Protestant or ready to tolerate,-nay, more, to give Popish Ascendancy," and it runs freely;" the Protestant nation has thus : —
shown herself tolerant—the Protest“The question daily forced upon ant Church has shown herself toleus by the indefatigable enemies of rant. What more would they have ? the Protestant religion, involving They want more: there are Bills with it the most valuable and most going on this very day in the House sacred of all our civil institutions, is of Commons, aiming at more. I hope not, strictly speaking, the question of they will be stopped this very day Popery, or no Popery. It is Popish too. They are not contented with subjection to the State, or Popish what they have got. And what do supremacy over it. If the Papists by you think they are aiming at now, in the whole course of their political a Bill this very day before the House? action have proved that the Romish Legalizing bequests for certain pious religion and its ministers - deem no uses, which our law holds to be unlawful, because superstitious. Accord. is a great principle involved in that ing to a Bill passed some years ago, a question, and I should like to hear it bequest was made for these uses, and, stated; it would do the country good besides the uses mentioned in the Bill, to hear it stated. It would be a very was specified the saying of prayers for awkward question for them to refuse the dead. The matter came to be to answer,-it would be a very awktried in our courts of law, and a de- ward question for them to answer, cision was come to, that for certain and it would be a very proper questhings mentioned in the will, the be- tion for you, Sir, to put. quest held in law, and was good; but The “ Times" proceeds :for other matters mentioned, the be- “In the speech of Sir James Graquest did not hold in law, because ham to the people of Glasgow, dethe things specifiedwere superstitious. livered a few days ago, on receiving The object of this Bill is to remove the freedom of that important city, that hindrance out of the way, so that the Right Honourable Baronet embequests for spiritual purposes may ploys the following language with be legalized in England. Then you reference to the conspiracy now diswould have large sums left for saying closed and proclaimed by the Roman masses for the souls of the dead, ac Catholic leaders throughout Great cording to British law.
Britain and Ireland against the Pro“ We gave them," this extract con testant religion, which he justly calls tinues, "we gave them political the foundation of the British monpower as a shield for themselves; archy, as professedly recognised by they have turned it into a sword all our national statesmen since the wherewith to attack and destroy their expulsion of the Popish tyrant James : benefactors.”
- You have referred in your address I ask, Sir, What more would they to my attachment to our national have? There is something more that Protestant religion. The pillar of our they want; and I protest that, upon greatness rests, as I think, on this rethe principles advocated in the House ligion, established in these realms. of Commons, I do not see how it can This is the source of all moral and be kept from them. On what prin- intellectual improvement, and if you ciple, maintained on either side of allow the foundations to be shaken, that Honourable House, can the Act the superstructure must fall. But it of Settlement be kept? Is it not an will be said, Whý mingle religion insult to our Roman Catholic fellow- with political strife ? My answer is, subjects, that the Sovereign on the that the national religion is studithrone cannot be a Catholic ? Is it ously blended with all our national not an insult to that Church, that the institutions; that it was the avowed Lord Chancellor cannot be a Ca- object of our forefathers to render the tholic ? Oh, shame on these en State itself an oblation not unworthy lightened days! Why retain such the Most High; and this connexion a rag of intolerance on the Statute between the Church and State is the book? Why is it absolutely neces ancient policy of these realms, under sary that the Sovereign should still which our native land has consolibe a Protestant ? It is very easy to dated her strength, matured her hapapplaud such a question, but I should piness, and acquired her glory.'”. like to get an answer. Why should Such was the language of Sir it be? I would not wish to involve James Graham when he was appointed you, Sir, in any more trouble than is Rector of the University of Glasgow forced upon you, but I should be -I think in 1839. exceeding glad if you would ask Sir “ The Right Hon. Baronet pro. Robert Peel or Lord John Russell to ceeds to show, that every occasion tell you, and to tell the country, on during the last three centuries, since what principle must the Sovereign be the soul of man within Great Britain a Protestant still ? I think the answer was released, and his reason set loose to this question would involve a prin from the shackles of Popery, since ciple very inconvenient to the Right Luther and Calvin taught men to Hon. Gentlemen at other times. There think, and Cranmer, Latimer, and