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But it was all in vain. The laws, decrees, councils, and anathemas of the papal power were daily decreasing in authority. The seed
holy synod declares, defines, and gives judgment, that this same John Wickliffe was a notorious, pertinacious heretic, and that he died in heresy, and therefore anathematizes him, and condemns his memory. And it decrees and ordains, that his body and his bones, if they can be distinguished from other bodies and bones of the faithful, shall be dug up and cast out of the church's sepulture, according to the canonical and lawful decrees.”
II. Of communion in both kinds, Sess. xiii.
“Whereas in some parts of the world certain persons rashly presume to assert that Christian people ought to receive the holy sacrament of the Eucharist under both kinds of bread and wine ...
this present holy general council of Constance... declares, decrees, and determines, that although Christ instituted this venerable sacrament after supper in both kinds of bread and wine, YET NOTWITHSTANDING THIS,(!) the laudable authority of the sacred canons, and the approved authority of the church has observed that this sacrament ought not to be performed after supper, and in like manner that although in the primitive church this sacrament was received of the faithful in both kinds, yet for the avoiding any dangers and scandals, the custom has reasonably been introduced, that it be received by the ministers under both kinds, but by the laity under the kind of bread only.”
There are also decrees in this council, session xv. and xxi. against John Huss, and Jerome, of Prague, anathematizing and condemning them as heretics because they followed Wickliffe in denying the above doctrines. Can folly or impiety be greater? Can want of charity and ignorant assumption be more conspicuous than in thus confessing the institution of our Lord, and yet
notwithstanding this,” forbidding the communion in both kinds, and exhuming the bones of the dead who had asserted it.
had been sown, and the tree must needs grow up. The sixteenth century approached; and while the power of Rome was slumbering in unsuspecting security, its supremacy, as far as overt acts went, not disputed—its infallibility not questioned-by a mere accident, as it were, there arose from an individual voice that defiance of its authority, which nations and kingdoms had not the daring to announce. A Dominican monk, of the name of Tetzel, in the year 1517, proclaimed, as was the custom of the time, a sale of indulgences, licenses as it were, for the remission of sins past, present, and to come. Martin Luther, a native of Eisleben, in Saxony, and a monk of the Augustinian order of Eremites, disgusted at the effrontery of this open assumption of divine power, and unable to repress his just indignation, publicly opposed both the doctrine of indulgences and the power of the pope. This opposition on the part of a feeble and solitary monk, would have probably ended in nothing, had it not been for the injudicious management of the controversy by those whom the pope appointed to decide it. From
of doctrine, Luther proceeded to others, and assuming fresh courage as he advanced, the question which was originally a dispute between individuals on church discipline, very quickly assumed the appearance of a national and
general dissension on the leading doctrines of catholicism. The zeal of the monk was countenanced and aided by the general stream of opinion bursting forth in all directions. The matter of dispute became day by day more difficult of adjustment, until at length the pope being on the point of calling to his aid the last great exercise of his authority, excommunication, Luther, with great adroitness, evaded the blow, and voluntarily withdrew himself from that church, from whose communion he would otherwise have been forcibly expelled. Thus was the first great schism brought about, and thus was established that which is now generally called, from its original founder, the Lutheran church.
The example of this great reformer was soon followed by other learned men. Princes and people swelled the ranks of the pope's opponents, until throughout the whole of Europe, but principally in Switzerland and Germany, arose so formidable a power, that it was no longer possible to check or to divert its progress.
The five greatest names who appear as founders of the new churches, are Luther, Melancthon, Carlostadt, Zuingle, and Calvin ; Luther, as we have seen, the original leader in the reformation, Carlostadt, his colleague and companion, Melancthon, also the friend of Luther, and his successor in the govern
ment of his church, Zuingle, the founder of the reformed church in Switzerland, and Calvin, the founder of the church of Geneva. From these five names we may date nearly all the doctrines, and nearly all the forms of church government, that are established in Europe; men, though varying in character and disposition, yet all united by one bond of fraternal union in conferring on mankind the great blessings of knowledge and true religion ; all men of considerable learning, unwearied zeal, and indomitable courage. Still, however, being but men, and living in times of great peril and excitement, their characters are not entirely free from question. We must not be surprised that, though they were united in the great and essential features of liberating the consciences of mankind from the tyranny of the church of Rome, there still might linger points of personal consideration in the breasts of each, and that although they agreed in their general principles, they should disagree in points of detail. It was impossible to be otherwise. The great point of infallibility in any one man as head of the church being given up, there remained test by which uniformity of doctrine could be maintained. It was nothing but opinion against opinion; and thus, unfortunately, it happened that no sooner did the greater portion of Europe
separate from the communion of the church of Rome, than there arose within itself, and between the great heads which guided the separation, an endless diversity of opinion. And more particularly did this diversity of opinion display itself in that point which it is our present object to investigate. The sacrament of the Eucharist would naturally form a material feature in the new doctrines of the reformers; the great. command of Christ stood before them, “This do in remembrance of How then
this remembrance to be carried into effect? with all the superstition of the papal church, or in some more pure and more rational form ? The body and blood of Christ was to be received by the communicants. How was it to be received ? with the notion of a corporeal and visible presence of the Saviour, or as a spiritual sacrifice and an emblematic memorial of his death? These were the great questions which they had to determine. The idolatrous worship of the host was at once put aside by all. The refusal of the cup to the laity was at once put aside by all. On these points they were unanimous. But when they came to discuss the nature of Christ's presence; when they came to analyze the manner in which the bread and wine became affected by the words of consecration: here, unfortunately, unanimity could no longer obtain.