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purity of worship, the grand simplicity of innocence, truth, and virtue, and became a creature of the state. A virgin before :-she became a prosti
Such christians, in a long succession, converted christianity into something worse than paganism. They elevated the christian church into a temporal kingdom, and they degraded temporal kingdoms into fiefs of the church. They founded dominion in grace, and they explained grace to be a love of dominion. And by these means they completed that general apostacy, known by the name of Popery, which St. Paul had foretold, 1 Tim. iv. 1. and which rendered the reformation of the sixteenth century essential to the interests of all mankind.
The state of religion at that time (1515) was truly deplorable. Ecclesiastical government, instead of that evangelical simplicity, and fraternal freedom, which Jesus Christ and his apostles had taught, was become a spiritual domination under the form of a temporal empire. An innumerable multitude of dignities, titles, rights, honors, privileges, and pre-eminences belonging to it, and were all dependent on a sovereign priest, who, being an absolute monarch, required every thought to be in subjection to him. The chief ministers of religion were actually become temporal princes, and the high-priest, being absolute sovereign of the ecclesiastical state, had his court and his council, his ambassadors to negociate, and his armies to murder his flock. The clergy had acquired immense wealth, and, as their chief study was either to collect and to augment their revenues, or to prevent the alienation of their estates, they had constituted numberless spiritual corporations, with powers, rights, statutes, privileges, and officers.
The functions of the ministry were generally neglected, and, of consequence, gross ignorance prevailed. All ranks of men were extremely depraved in their morals, and the Pope's penitentiary had published the price of every crime, as it was rated in the tax-book of the Roman chancery. Marriages, which reason and scripture allowed, the Pope prohibited, and for money dispensed with those which both forbad. Church benefices were sold to children, and to laymen, who then let them to under tenants, none of whom performed the duty, for which the profits were paid: but all having obtained them by simony, spent their lives in fleecing the flocks to repay themselves. The power of the pontiff was so great, that he assumed, and, what was more astonishing, he was suffered to exercise a supremacy over many kingdoms. When monarchs gratified his will, he put on a triple crown, ascended a throne, suffered them to call him Holiness, and to kiss his feet. When they disobliged him, he suspends all religious worship in their dominions; published false and abusive libels, called bulls, which operated as laws, to injure their persons; discharged their subjects from obedience; and gave their crowns to any who would usurp them. He claimed an infallibility of knowledge, and an omnipotence of strength; and he forbad the world to examine his claim. He was addressed by titles of blasphemy, and tho' he owned no jurisdiction over himself, yet he affected to extend his authority over heaven and hell, as well as over a middle place called purgatory, of all which places, he said he kept the keys. This irregular churchpolity was attended with quarrels, intrigues, schisms, and wars.
Religion itself was made to consist of the performance of numerous ceremonies, of pagan, jew
ish, and monkish extraction, all which might be performed without either faith in God, or love to mankind. The church ritual was an address, not to the reason, but to the senses of men; music stole the ear, and soothed the passions; statutes, paintings, vestments, and various ornaments, beguiled the eye; while the pause, which was produced by that sudden attack, which a multitude of objects made on the senses, on entering a spacious decorated edifice, was enthusiastically taken for devotion. Blind obedience was first allowed by courtesy, and then established by law. Public worship was performed in an unknown tongue, and the sacrament was adored as the body and blood of Christ. The credit of the ceremonial produced in the people a notion, that the performance of it was the practice of piety, and religion degenerated into gross superstition. Vice, uncontrolled by reason or scripture, retained a pagan vigor, and committed the most horrid crimes; and superstition atoned for them, by building and endowing religious houses, and by bestowing donations on the church. Human merit was introduced, saints were invoked, and the perfections of God were distributed by canonization, among the creatures of the Pope.
The pillars, that supported this edifice, were immense riches, arising, by imposts, from the sins of mankind; idle distinctions between supreme and subordinate adoration; senseless axioms, called the divinity of the schools; preachments of buffoonery, or blasphemy, or both; cruel casuistry, consisting of a body of dangerous and scandalous morality; false miracles and midnight visions; spurious books and paltry relics; oaths, dungeons, inquisitions, and crusades. The whole was denominated THE
HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, and laid to the charge of Jesus Christ.
Loud complaints had been made of these excesses, for the last hundred and fifty years, to those whose business it was to reform, and, bad as they were, they had owned the necessity of reformation, and had repeatedly promised to reform. Several councils had been called for the purpose of reforming: but nothing had been done, nor could any thing be expected from assemblies of mercenary men, who were too deeply interested in darkness to vote for day. They were inflexible against every remonstrance, and, as a Jesuit has since expressed it. They would not extinguish one taper, tho' it were to convert all the Hugonots in France.
The restorers of literature reiterated and reasoned on these complaints: but they reasoned to the wind. The church champions were hard driven, they tried every art to support their cause: but as they could neither get rid of the attack by a polite duplicity, nor intimidate their sensible opponents by anathemas, as they would not determine the matter by scripture, and as they could not defend themselves by any other method, as they were too obstinate to reform themselves, and too proud to be reformed by their inferiors, the plantiffs at length laid aside thoughts of applying to them, and, having found out the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, went about reforming themselves. The reformers were neither popes, cardinals, nor bishops; but they were good men, who aimed to promote the glory of God, and the good of mankind. This was the state of the church, when Francis I. ascended the throne, 1515.
Were we to enter into a minute examination of the reformation in France, we would own a particular interposition of Providence; but we would also
take the liberty to observe, that a happy conjunction of jarring interests rendered the sixteenth century a fit æra for reformation. Events, that produced, protected, and persecuted reformation, proceeded from open and hidden, great and little, good and bad causes. The capacities and the tempers, the virtues and the vices, the views and the interests, the wives and the mistresses, of the princes of those times; the abilities and dispositions of the officers of each crown; the powers of government, and the persons who wrought them; the tempers and geniuses of the people; all these and many more, were springs of action, which, in their turns, directed the great events that were exhibited to public view. But our limits allow no inquiries of this kind.
The reformation, which began in Germany, had extended itself to Geneva, and thence into France. The French had a translation of the bible, which had been made, in 1224, by Guiars des Moulins. It had been revised, corrected, and printed at Paris, 1487, by order of Charles VIII. and the study of it now began to prevail. The reigning king, who was a patron of learning, encouraged his valet de chambre, Clement Marot, to versify some of David's psalms, and took great pleasure in singing them,* and either protected, or persecuted the reformation, as his interest seemed to him to require. Although in 1535, he went in procession to burn the first martyrs of the reformed church, yet, in the same year, he sent for Melancthon to come into France to reconcile religious differences. Although he persecuted his own protestant subjects
His majesty's favorite psalm, which he sung when he went a hunting was the 424. The queen used to sing the 6th, and the king's mistress the 130th. Marot translated filty, Beza the other hundred, Calvin got them set to music by the best musicians, and every body sang them as ballads. When the reformed churches made them a part of their worship, the papists were forbidden to sing them any more, and to sing a psalm was a sign of a Lű