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were fruitless, and served only to preserve the memory of them to posterity.”*

It is the remarkable testimony of the same Roman Catholic writer, as if he had been watching so as to note the continued corruption of the Romish church from that very time, that from the year 1450 to the end of the century, “ The popes were more occupied with the cares of aggrundizing their temporal power, and settling their families (!) than with ecclesiastical affairs. Yet many letters and bulls were written in their name, about the affairs which are commonly carried to the court of Rome, as the canonization of saints, the privileges of monasteries, the affairs of religious orders, of dispensations, processes about churches,” &c.f

According to the same authority, and from the same page, it appears, that Callistus III., who was elevated to the popedom, during the very time of the siege of Constantinople, instead of repenting of the works of the hands of his predecessors, " added to the corruptions of the church by establishing the festival of the transfiguration. His successor, Pius II., immediately, on ascending the papal throne, issued a bull, retracting all that he had formerly written in favour of a council, and forbade any appeal from the pope to that tribunal.”!

Sixtus IV., by two decrees, granted indulgences to those who should celebrate the feast of the conception, and say the office composed by Nogarol, a canon of Verona ; and enjoined catholics not to treat with heretics, on pain of excommunication. He limited the term of the jubilee to five-and-twenty years. Alexander VI., the last pope of the fifteenth century, having become the head of the church by bribery and largesses to the cardinals of benefices and lands,

disgraced his dignity by his ambition, his avarice, his cruelties, and debaucheries, and died in the year

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* Du Pin's Hist. 15th cent. vol. xiii. chap. ix. + Ibid. c. 3, p. 56.

Ibid. p. 88.

1503, by unconsciously taking the poison which he had prepared for the cardinals."* Indulgences were granted in vast numbers, and with great facility, by the popes,

who, in the same century, began to convert them into a species of traffic. +

From such evidence, drawn from such a source, we may, without suspicion or reserve, turn to other testimony, which, however, we still choose, as before, to give without mutilation, in the very words of the historian to whose province it pertains.

« The monastic societies, as we learn from multitude of authentic records, and from the testimonies of the best writers, were at this time so many herds of lazy, illiterate, profligate and licentious epicureans, whose views of life were confined to opulence, idleness and pleasure. The rich monks, particularly those of the Benedictine and Augustine orders, perverted their revenues to the gratification of their lusts, and renouncing in their conduct all regard to their respective rules of discipline, drew upon themselves the popular odium by their sensuality and licentiousness."!

“ While the opulent monks exhibited to the world scandalous examples of luxury, ignorance, laziness and licentiousness, accompanied with a barbarous aversion to every thing that carried the remotest aspect of science, the mendicants, and more especially the Dominicans and the Franciscans, were chargeable with irregularities of another kind. Besides their arrogance, which was excessive, a quarrelsome and litigious spirit, an ambitious desire of encroaching upon the rights and privileges of others, an insatiable zeal for the propagation of superstition among them, drew upon them the displeasure and indignation of many," &c.

“ The state of religion was become so corrupt among the Latins, that it was utterly destitute of any thing that could attract the esteem of the truly virtuous and judicious part of mankind. This is a fact, which even they whose prejudices render them unwilling to acknowledge it, will never presume to deny. The number of those who were studious to acquire a just notion of religious matters, to investigate the

* Du Pin's Hist. c. iii. p. 56. of Ib. chap. ix. p. 139. i Mosheim, cent. 15, part ii. c. 2, § 19. Ś Ibid. c. 15, part ii. sect. 20.

true sense of the sacred writings, and to model their lives aud manners after the precepts and example of the divine Saviour, was extremely small, and such had some difficulty in escaping the gibbet, in an age when virtue and sense were looked upon as heretical.”

“ This miserable state of things, this enormous perversion of religion and morality, throughout almost all the western provinces, were observed and deplored by many wise and good men, who all endeavoured, though in different ways, to stem the torrent of superstition, and to reform a corrupt church. The Waldenses, though persecuted and oppressed on all sides, and from every quarter, raised their voices even in their remote vallies and lurking places, where they were driven by the violence of their enemies,' and called aloud for succour to the expiring cause of religion and virtue. Even in Italy, many, and among others the famous Savanavola, had the courage to declare, that Rome was become the image of Babylon; and this notion was adopted by multitudes of all ranks and conditions. But the greatest part of the clergy and monks, persuaded that their honours, influence, and riches would diminish in proportion to the increase of kuowledge among the people, and would receive inexpressible detriment from the downfall of superstition, opposed, with all their might, every thing that had the remotest aspect of a reformation, and imposed silence


these unfortunate censors by the formidable authority of fire and sword.”+

“ The additions that were made to the Roman ritual, relating to the worship of the Virgin Mary, public and private prayers, the traffic of indulgences, and other things of that nature, are of too little importance to deserve an exact and circumstantial enumeration. We need not such a particular detail to convince us, that, in this century, religion was reduced to a mere show, to a show composed of pompous absurdities and splended trifles."*

The rest of the men, i. e.-" throughout almost all the western provinces," repented not of the works of their hands ; each new pontificate added to the superstitious rites of the church, and the greatest part of the clergy opposed reformation with all their might. The grossest

+ Ibid. sect. 3.

* Mosheim, cent. 3, sect. 1.

Ibid. c. 4, sect. 2.

They repented not of their MURDERS—heresy, or the pure worship of God, was repressed with "fire and sword ;” and any virtuous man who dared to confess Christ before men, and to hold to the simplicity of the faith, could scarcely escape the gibbet ; and the vallies of Piedmont continued to be stained with the blood of the Waldenses, the purest in Christendom. They repented not of their SORCERIES. fictions and the most extravagant inventions continued to be practised. The power of miracles was as needful as ever in the Catholic church, to vindicate its assumptions, sustain its power, and supply the lack of virtue. And to palm on the world a belief in the efficacy of indulgences, and in a thousand other superstitious fooleries,—to warp the minds of men in such 56

strong delusion” and belief of lieswere such acts of sorcery as were never surpassed by all the artifice of mortals.They repented not of their FORNICATION.

66 The licentiousness and sensuality of the monks towards the close of the fifteenth century, were aggravated rather than abated ; and if the papal chair could have admitted of a deeper stain, the “ debaucheries" of Alexander VI. would have tinged it. Neither repented they of their

“ The rights and privileges of others were encroached on” by greedy mendicant monks. The sale of indulgences ; the purchased sentence of absolution ; masses said for the dead, when paid for by the living; hundreds of monasteries held in commendam, given to those who were not regularly invested with office, and by whom no duty was done; and all manner of gifts and precious things extorted from the people in honour of the saints, -were all augmented rather than diminished during the fifteenth century, and


still more and more numerous towards its close : and, in moral estimation, these are all mere modes of robbery and acts of theft,


from which neither the first nor yet the second woe deterred the church of Rome. None of their corruptions were cured ; none of their iniquities were abandoned. The men that were not killed, continued in their sins—and other judgments had yet to arise, before the world would learn righteousness.

“ Constantinople," says Gibbon, after having described its fall, no longer appertains to the Roman historian ; and it is before the sepulchre of the martyr that the new sultans are girded with the SWORD of empire. — The remaining fragments of the Greek kingdom in Europe and Asia I shall abandon to the Turkish arms; but the final extinction of the two last dynasties which have reigned in Constantinople, should terminate the decline and fall of the Roman empire in the east."

À false philosophy, often a mere idolizing of the works of nature, and sometimes, as if copying dark superstition, of the memories of the dead, might have wisdom to receive a warning and to bear a rebuke, from the palpable manifestation of the punishment of idolatry and vice. They who reject the everlasting covenant" need not look unprofitably to the fate of those who broke it.

And before passing from the observation of the second woe and closing the volumes of Gibbon, it may not be superfluous to remark, how all his industry and genius were unconsciously devoted to the task of showing the form in which a portion of the revelation of Jesus Christ was developed. He who, by a strange speculation, which demonstrates nothing but the aberrations of a vigorous mind, strove to show how the gospel was propagated by secondary causes, when all the powers of the

world and all the passions of men were arrayed against it, has himself proved, by the toil of twenty years, and thousands of accu

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