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a view of the fame history, from this latter period to the commencement of the war of Smalcald; and the fourth carries it down to the peace that was entered into with the abettors of the Reformation, in the year 1555
The view which Dr. Mosheim gives of this glorious revolution in the state of Christianity, to which we are indebted for many inestimable advantages, though short, is clear and distinct, and contains many just and pertinent observations. He introduces it in the following manner :
" While the Roman pontif flumbered in fecurity at the head of the church, and saw nothing throughout the vast extent of his dominion but tranquillity and submiffion, and while the worthy and pious professors of genuine Christianity almost despaired of seeing that reformation on which their most ardent desires and expectations were bent, an obfcure and inconsiderable person arose, on a sudden, in the year 1517, and laid the foundation of this long-expected change, by oppofing, with undaunted resolution, his single force to the torrent of papal ambition and defpotism. This extraordinary man was Martin Luther, a native of Aisleben in Saxony, a monk of the Augustinian Eremites, who were one of the Mendicant orders, and, at the same time, professor of divinity in the academy that had been erected at Wittemberg, a few years before this period, by Frederick the Wise. The papal chair was, at this time, filled by Leo X; Maximilian I, a prince of the house of Austria, was king of the Romans, and emperor of Germany; and Frederick, already mentioned, elector of Saxony. The bold efforts of this new adversary of the pontifs were honoured with the applauses of many, but few or none entertained hopes of their success. It seemed scarcely possible that this puny David could hurt a Goliah, whom so many heroes had opposed in vain.
None of the qualities or talents that distinguished Lutber were of a common or ordinary kind. His genius was truly great and unparalleled ; his memory vast and tenacious; his patience in supporting trials, difficulties, and labour, incredible ; his magnanimity invincible and independent on the vicissitudes of human affairs; and his learning moft extensive, considering the age in which he lived. All this will be acknowledged even by his enemies, at least by such of them as are not totally blinded by a spirit of partiality and faction. He was deeply versed in the theology and philosophy that were in vogue in the schools during this century, and he taught them both with the greatest reputation and success in the academy of Wittemberg. As a philosopher, he embraced the doctrine of the Nominalists, which was the system adopted by his order; while, in divinity, he followed chiefly the sentiments of Augustin; but in both he preferred the decisions of scripture and the dictates of right reason
before the authority and opinions of fallible men. It would be equally rash and absurd to represent this great man as exempt from crror and free from infirmities and defects; yet, if we except the contagious effects of the age in which he lived, and of the religion in which he had been brought up, we shall, perhaps, find but a few things in his character that render him liable to reproach [m].”
Dr. Mosheim has taken no notice of the calumnies invented and propagated by some late authors, in order to make Luther's zealous opposition to the publication of indulgences appear to be the effi ct of selfiih and ignoble motives. His ingenious Translator, however, has, in a very judicious manner, set this matter in rue light; not that the cause of the Reformation, he says, (which muit stand by its own intrinsic dignity, and is, in no way, affected by the views or characters of its instruments) can derive any strength from this enquiry, but as it may tend to vindicate the personal character of a man, who has done eminent service to the cause of religion.
· Mr. Hume, says Mr. Maclaine, in his History of the Reign of Henry VII. has thought proper to repeat what the enemies of the Reformation, and some of its dubious or ill informed friends, have advanced with respect to the motives that engaged Luther to oppose the doctrine of indulgences. This elegant and persuasive historian tells us, that the Austin friars had usually been employed in S: xony to preach indulgences, and from this trust had derived both prost ána confderation; that Arcemboldi gave this accupation to the Dominicans * ; that Martin Luther, an Austin friar, professor in the univerfiy of Wittemberg, resenting the affront put up in his Order, began to preach against the abuses that were committed in the file of indulgences, and, being provoked by opposition, proceedid even to decry indulgences themselves t. It were to be wished, that Mr. Hume's candor had engaged him to examine this accufation better, before he had determined to repeat it, For, in the first place, it is not true, that the Austin friars had been yliially einployed in Saxony to preach indulgences. It is well known, that that commiffion had been offered alternately, and sometimes jointly to all the Mendicants, whether Austin friars, Dominicans, Franciscans, or Carmelites. Nay, from the year 1 229, that lucrative commission was principally intrusted with
• [m] The writers, who have given any circumstantial account of Luther, and his crankctions, are accurately enumerated by Jo. Alb. Fabricius, in his Centifolium Lutheranum, the first part of which was published at Hamburg in the year 1728; and the second in 1730, in 8vo.'
• * Hume's Hitory of England, under the House of Tudor, rol, i. p. 119. • * Id. Ib. p. 130,
the the Dominicans *; and in the records, which relate to indulgences, we rarely meet with the name of an Austin friar, and not one single act by which it appears that the Roman pontif ever .named the friars of that order to the office under consideration. More particularly it is remarkable, that, for half a century before Luther (i. e. from 1450 to 1517) during which periods indulgences were sold with the most scandalous marks of avaritious extortion and impudence, we scarcely meet with the name of an Austin friar employed in that service; if we except a monk, named Palzius, who was no more than an underling of the papal questor Raymond Peraldus; so far is it from being true, that the Augustine order were exclusively, or even
usually, employed in that service t. Mr. Hume has built his assertion upon the role aathority of a single expression of Paul Sarpi, which has been abundantly refuted by De Priero, Pallavicini, and Gravelon, the mortal enemies of Luther. But it may be alledged, that, even supposing it was not usual to employ the Augustin friars alone in the propagation of indulgences, yet Luther might be offended at seeing luch an important commission given to the Dominicans exclusively, and that, consequently, this was his motive in opposing the propagation of indulgences. To thew the injustice of this allegation, I observe,
Secondly, That in the time of Luther, the preaching of indulgences was become such an odious and unpopular matter, that it is far from being probable, that Luther would have been sollicitous about obtaining such a commission either for himself or for his order. The princes of Europe, with many bishops, and multitudes of learned and pious men, had opened their eyes upon the turpitude of this infamous traffic, and even the Franciscans and Dominicans, towards the conclusion of the fifteenth century, opposed it publicly, both in their discourses and in their writings I. Nay more, the very commission which is supposed to have excited the envy of Luther, was offered by Leo to the general of the Franciscans, and was refused both by him and his order ||, who gave it over entirely to Albert bishop of Mentz and Magdeburg. Is it then to be imagined, that either Luther or the other Austin friars aspired after a commission of which the Franciscans were ashamed? Besides, it is a mistake to affirm, that this office was given to the Dominicans in general;
« * See Weismanni Memorabilia Hiftoriæ Sacræ N, T. p. 1051, 1115
• '+ Happii Dissertat. de Nonnullis Indulgentiarum, Sæc, xiv. et xv. Quæltoribus, p. 384. 387.
I See Walch. Opp. Luther, tom. xv. p. 114. 283. 212. 349. — Seckendorf. Hift. Lutheranismi, lib. i. Sed, vi. p. 13. ! Wach. loc. cit. p. 371,
fince it was given to Tetzel alone, an individual member of that order, who had been notorious for his profligacy, barbarity, and extortion.
• But that neither resentment nor envy were the motives that Jed Luther to oppose the doctrine and publication of indulgences will appear with the utmost evidence, if we consider in the third place,-That he was never accused of any such motives either in the edicts of the pontifs of his time, or amidft the other reproaches of the contemporary writers, who defended the cause of Rome, and who were far from being fparing of their invectives and calumnies. All the contemporary adverfaries of Luther are absolutely filent on this head. From the year 1517 to 1546, when the dispute about indulgences was carried on with the greatest warmth and animosity, not one writer ever ventured to reproach Luther with these ignoble motives of opposition now under confideration. I speak not of Erasmus, Sleidan, De Thou, Guiccardini, and others, whose testimony might be perhaps fuspected of partiality in his favour ; but I speak of Cajetan, Hogstrat, De Prierio, Emfer, and even the infamous John Tetzel, whom Luther opposed with such vehemence and bitterness. Even the lying Cochlæus was filent on this head during the life of Luther; though, after the death of that grea reformer, he broached the calumny I am here refuting. But fuch was the fcandalous character of this man, who was notorious for fraud, calumny, lying, and their fifter-vices *, that Pallavicini, Boffuet, and other enemies of Luther were ashamed to make use either of his name or testimony. Now, may it not be fairly prefumed, that the contemporaries of Luther were better judges of his character and the principles from which he acted, tħan those who lived in after-times ? Can it be imagined, that motives to action, which eseaped the prying eyes of Luther's contemporaries, should have discovered themselves to us who live at such a distance of time from the scene of action, to M. Bossuet, to M. Hume, and to other abertors of this ill-contrived and foolish kory? Either there are no rules of moral evidence, or Mr. Hume's assertion is entirely groundless. 1.6 I might add many other confiderations to thew the unreafonableness of suppofing that Luther expofcd himself to the rage of the Roman pontif, to the persecutions of an exasperated clergy, to the severity of such a potent and despotic prince as Charles V, to death itself, and that from a principle of avarice and ambition. But I have said enough to satisfy every candid mind.'
As Dr. Mosheim has not given so circumstantial an account
1 * Sleidan, De Statu Rel. et Reip. in Dedic, Epist. ad Auguft. Elector.'
of of the conferences between Miltitz and Luther as they deserve, Mr. Maclaine has made the following addition to his author's work, which the curious Reader will be pleased with.
. It was sufficient, says he, barely to mention the measures taken by Cajetan to draw Luther anew under the papal yoke; because these measures were, indeed, nothing more than the wild suggestions of fuperftition and tyranny, maintained and avowed with the most frontless impudence. A man, who began by commanding the reformer to renounce his errors, to believe, and that upon the dictates of mere authority, that one drop of Chriff's blood, being suficient to redeem the whole human race, the remaining quantity, that was shed in the garden and upon the cross, was left as a legacy to the church, to be a treasure from whence indulgences were to be drawn and administered by the Roman pontifs [x]. Such a man was not to be reasoned with. But Miltitz, proceeded in quite another manner, and his conferences with the Saxon Reformer are worthy of attention. He was ordered, indeed, to de mand of the elector, that he would either oblige Luther to renounce the doctrines he had hitherto maintained, or, that he would withdraw from him his protection and favour. But perceiving, that he was received by the elector with a degree of coldness that bordered upon contempt, and that Luther's credit and cause were too far advanced to be destroyed by the efforts of mere authority, he had recourse to gentler methods. He loaded Tetzel with the bittereft reproaches, on account of the irregular and fuperstitious means he had employed for promoting the sale of indulgences, and attributed to this miserable wretch all the abuses that Luther had complained of. Tetzel, on the other hand, burthened with the iniquities of Rome, tormented with a consciousness of his own injustice and extortions, ftung with the opprobrious censures of the new legate, and seeing himself equally despised and abhorred by both parties, died of grief and despair (y). This incendiary, being facrificed as a victim to "cover the Roman pontif from reproach, Miltitz entered into a particular conversation with Luther, at Altenburg, and, without pretending to justify the scandalous traffic in question, required only, that he would acknowledge the four following things :
“ That the people had been seduced by false notions of in• [(*) Such, among others, still more absurd, were the expressions of Cajetan, which he borrowed from one of the Decretals of Clement VI, called and that juftly for more than one reason) Extravagants.]
· [(y) Luther was so affected by the agonies of despair under which Tetzel laboured, that he wrote him a pathetic letter of consolation, which, however, produced no effect. His infamy was perpetuated by a picture, placed in the church of Pirma, in which he is represented ficting on an ass, and selling indulgences.]