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zed millions, for whom the Savior died, with curses more horrid still. But let us learn of Him who has taught us to love one another, to love our enemies, to bless, and curse not.
The religion of Jesus is confidence in the divine favors; it is hope in everlasting life; it is forgiveness to those who injure us; it is fervent in supplications for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. This religion is designed to overcome evil with good, and to reconcile all things to God; so that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
For the Repository.
▲ SUCCINCT HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, FROM THE BIRTH OF CHRIST DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME. DIVIDED INTO SIX PERIODS.
Period V.....From the commencement of the 15th century to the Council of Trent, 1563.
At the commencement of the 15th century the pope was in the height of his glory and power. He assumed infallibility to himself, and vainly pretended that all power, temporal, and spiritual, was at his disposal. He also exercised the right of pardoning the sins of those who would espouse his cause, or pay him a tribute. In this state, things remained, with very little alteration, through the whole century. The popes conducted like other temporal princes; making war or peace as best suited their purposes, and breaking treaties at their pleasure. There were, however, several instances of violent opposition to the authority of the popes. It was the opinion of many that the power of a general council exceeded that of the pope. This occasioned a considerable-schisin, which was soon terminated without any
thing of consequence being done. However, knowledge continued to increase during this century.
One remarkable event which occurred in this period, contributed more than any thing else to the increase of science, and the downfall of popery. In 1440 the art of printing was discovered by the Dutch. This most useful of all arts has contributed much to promote the cause of religion and morality from that time to the present.
We have now come to a period in our history which is full of important events. The 16th century is memorable for the Reformation of the church. At the commencement of this century, the call for a reform was loud in many places. The church, and especially the clergy, were addicted to almost every impunity, giving themselves up to voluptuousness and sensuality.
Pope Leo X. finding his treasury exhausted by his luxury, was induced to publish new indulgences tu obtain a revenue. He accordingly appointed agents to travel the country and sell indulgences. The most celebrated agent or pedler of indulgences, was John Tetzel, a profligate character, who had once been condemned to death for his sensuality. Tetzel did not fail to magnify his office. He declared "that he had saved more souls by his indulgences than St. Paul did by his preaching; that as soon as the sound of the money that was paid for indulgences, was heard in that basin which received it, the souls for which it was paid, were released from purgatory; that repentance was not necessary; that these indulgences ensured pardon for every sin and blasphemy whatever; and in short, that no crime was absolutely unpardonable, but that of despising indulgences."
The money which this religious swindler spunged from the people, was wasted in sensual rioting. But as extravagant as were his pretensions, and as depraved as
was his character, he was received with rejoicing in many places. Vast multitudes thronged around him to obtain absolution: These abuses at length excited the attention of Martin Luther, a man raised up by divine Providence for the great work of the reformation, and endued with talents and a temper suited to the undertaking. Luther was a native of Germany; and after passing through the usual forms of the university, he retired to a monastery. He soon after took holy orders, and was appointed a teacher of philosophy at the university, where he devoted himself to study, especially the study of the scriptures.
Such was the character and situation of Luther, when Tetzel, in 1517, came to publish his indulgences in the diocess of Magdeburg. Luther seeing these abuses, could not refrain from opposing them in a public lecture. This so enraged Tetzel that he threatened him with the inquisition, and prepared a fire to burn him in effigy. But the invincible spirit of Luther was not to be deterred from his undertaking by the threats of an abandoned profligate. To expose the cause of indulgences, Luther composed several pieces. His object appears to have been nothing more than to correct the abuses of indulgences. These writings of Luther's were greatly admired, and such was the rapidity with which they were circulated through Germany, and so great was their influence upon the public mind, that indulgences and the preaching of indulgences were in a short time. generally despised.
Tetzel condemned the writings of Luther to the flame, and then attempted to refute them. But the great reformer, intent upon his purpose, continued to expose the corruptions of Rome. The doctrines and writings of Luther soon attracted the notice of the pope, who cited Luther to appear before him in 1518. But Luther
refused to appear at Rome, and requested that he might be heard in his own country. The pope dispatched his legate to Germany to compel Luther to appear at Rome; but such was Luther's popularity with the German prince, that the legate thought prudent to desist. In several instances Luther was on the eve of a recantation, but he finally chose the better part, and persevered.
His close application gave him greater light upon the subject, and he now began to attack their doctrines themselves. He asserted the pope was antichrist, and Rome, Babylon. In the space of two years, Luther's writings had extended themselves to almost all parts of Europe. The pope evidently dreaded the influence of Luther, and consequently proceeded against him with more caution than was usual on such occasions.
Luther's opinions were condemned by two councils ; but no sooner were these censures published, than they were attacked by him in the most spirited manner. Το show his contempt for the papal power, among other things he says, "I equally despise the favors and the frowns of Rome. Let them condemn me, and burn my books; I will condemn and burn their decrees, and renounce forever all submission."-Nor was this an empty boast; for soon after, when the pope published his excommunication, he attacked it with the same spirit. He not only opposed the pope by argument, but he said to him, "If you do not renounce your blasphemies and impieties, I will regard your church as the damnable seat of antichrist, which I will not obey, and to which I will never be united. you persevere, we will deliver you to Satan, with your bulls and decretals."
The German princes professed neutrality, but would not consent that Luther should be taken to Rome. They were willing that he should be cited before any tribunal in his own country. But the pope knowing his
popularity in Germany, was unwilling to have the case decided there. But finding the emperor determined, he at last consented, though he used every secret art to prevent his attendance. But Luther desiring an opportunity to be heard, was determined to attend at all events. When Luther appeared in council, he was exhorted to recant what he had written, but in the most manly and independent manner he refused, assuring them that unless they, by scripture and reason, could convince him that his opinions were erroneous, he should continue to defend them, and should not abide the decisions of popes or councils.
The emperor, who before had professed to be neuter, now took decisive measure against him. He confirmed the excommunication of the pope, and assured Luther that he should allow him to depart, agreeable to his former engagement, but that after his departure, he should use every means to suppress his heresy, and prevent his preaching. This sentence was heard with the greatest firmness. Soon after leaving the council, he was seized by his friends in the character of a mob, who conducted him to a place of safety, and immediately spread a report that he was assassinated. In his retirement, he continued to write and expose the corruption of the Romish church. He also translated the New-Testament, and soon after the Old, which were circulated extensively, and did much towards effecting the reformation.
In 1522, the Anabaptists made their appearance. They were filled with enthusiasm, claimed superior holiness, and pretended to work miracles.
On the same year Luther left his retirement, and appeared again in public view to the confusion of his enemies. The same year Henry VIII. of England, published a book against Luther, defending the doctrine of Rome, in consequence of which; the pope conferred upon