« ForrigeFortsæt »
“ still, let justice be tempered with humanity; let us give encourage“ment to repentance; we offer them the choice either to submit to the
chaste' and ancient discipline of the church, or to relinquish their
ecclesiastical possessions." These sentiments, worthy a Christian king, were delivered about the year 969, and we find the effect produced by them in the statement of John Fox, who says, that through the exertions ard behaviour of Elphege, "piety flourished in his dio
cess, unity was established among bis clergy and people, and the " conduct of the church of Winchester made the bishop the admira“ tion of the whole kingdom.” Such reforms as these, governed by the spirit of true religion and justice, are sure to lead to the same results, namely, the happiness and improvement of the people of every rank and condition; but the measures pursued by those who called themselves reformers in the sixteenth century, originated in the worst passions of human nature, and have consequently been attended with the greatest evils that can possibly affiot mankind, as we shall bave occasion to shew in the progress of our labours.
Fox next proceeds to detail the events which led to the martyrdom of Elphege by the Danes, in which the holy prelate shewed the greatest devotion to the interests of his people, and the utmost disregard for his own fate. After being translated to the see of Canterbury, having filled the episcopal chair of Winchester twenty-two years, the Danes laid siege to the former city, and took possession of it. Fox, in his narrative, says, these barbarians took the place by storm, and destroyed all that came in their way; that the monks endeavoured to detain the bishop in the church, but he broke from them, and ran into the midst of the danger; that the Danes seized him, and obliged him to remain till the church was burned and the monks massacred; and then, he continues, they “decimated all the inhabitants, both ecclesiastics “ and laymen, leaving only every. tenth person alive: so that they put
7236 persons to death, and left only four monks and 800 laymen alive.” We notice this statement to shew what little reliance can be placed upon the details of this martyrologist, and the contempt he has for the understandings of his readers. How could he come with such exactness at the population of this city in the eleventh century, as to know the precise number to a single individual that suffered in this decimation, especially as it took place, according to his own account, after an indiscriminate slaughter of the people, and a total massacre of the monks? Will any man of common sense believe it possible for Fox to become acquainted with such particulars at such a distant period? Does it not carry every appearance of fiction, and prove how careful the reader ought to be in crediting the statements made by him, when given with such pretended minuteness? Were any man to attempt at this day to enumerate to a single life, the loss of killed and wounded in storming a besieged town, would he be believed ? Would he not be taken for an impudent asserter, and laughed at or kicked for his impudence? We think such would be his fate with
man, such should be the treatment towards the author and editors of the Book of Martyrs.
To afford our readers the opportunity of contrasting the account of this martyr's death, as given by Catholic writers, with that related by
Fox, we here extract a passage from Butler's Saints' Lives, relative to this event. “During the siege,” Mr. B. writes, "he often sent out to “ the enemies to desire them to spare his innocent sheep, whom he en“deavoured to animate against the worst that could happen. And “having prepared them, by his zealous exhortations, rather to suffer “the utmost than renounce their faith, he gave them the blessed eu
charist, and recommended them to the divine protection. Whilst he was thus employed in assisting and encouraging his people, Canterbury was taken by storm. The infidels, on entering the city, made
a dreadful slaughter of all that came in their way, without distinc" tion of sex or age. The holy prelate was no sooner apprized of the
barbarity of the enemy, but breaking from the monks, who would “ bave detained him in the church, where they thought he might be
safe, he pressed through the Danish troops, and made his way to " the place of slaughter." Dr. Milner, in his History of Winchester, says, “He was seen to rush between the murderers and their helpless
victims, crying out to the former: 'If you are men, spare at least “the innocent and the 'unresisting ; or, if you want a victim, turn your “swords upon me; it is I who have so often reproached you with " your crimes, who have supported and redeemed the prisoners whom " you have made, and have deprived you of many of your soldiers, by
converting them to Christianity. The person and the merit of St.
Elphege were well known to the Danes; having been sent upon dif"! ferent embassies to them, and rendered them many charitable offices. “ Hence they did not dare to strike him, but satisfied themselves with " seizing upon him, and committing him to close custody, intending “to extort an enormous sum for his ransom. During his confinement " of seven months, these Pagans, being alarmed at an epidemical dis
temper which afflicted them, were upon the point of releasing him, “ without any ransom. At length, however, their avarice prevailing,
they sent for him to Greenwich, where their fleet then lay, and put " the question finally to him, whether he was prepared to pay the 3000 "marks of gold, which they had imposed as his fine.
His answer was, that all the money which he could command, had been spent upon
and that if he had more, it would be their property ; “ in a word, that he had no gold to bestow upon those, in whose pre
sence he stood, except that of true wisdom, which consisted in the "knowledge of the living God. Being provoked at this answer, they "beat him to the ground, and began to overwhelm him with stones, "and the horns of slaughtered oxen; whilst he, raising up his
to heaven, thus addressed himself to his divine Master: O good Shep
herd, de thou watch over the children of thy church, whom, with my last " breath, I recommend to thee. Our saint having pronounced this prayer, " and continuing to suffer, a Dane, by name Thrun, whom he had the
day before baptized, moved by a cruel kind of pity, struck him on “the head, with his battle axe, and completed his martyrdom.” Here we see these two Catholic writers confining themselves to general facts, which do not admit of dispute, and such should be the rule of every author who is desirous to narrate the truth and nothing but the truth.
The last martyr recorded by Fox, in this book, to whom Catholicism
can lay claim, is Stanislaus, bishop of Cracow. The character given of this holy prelate by the martyrologist is of the most glowing description. He was a prodigy in learning, amiable in his disposition, austere in his devotions, and fixed in embracing the ecclesiastical-state. On being admitted to holy orders, the then bishop of Cracow made him a canon of his cathedral. “In this capacity;” says Fox, “he lived “ in a most. exemplary manner, and performed his duties with unre
mitting assiduity." His virtues charmed the bishop, and he would fain have resigned his bishopric in favour of Stanislaus, on account of his great age, but the latter refused to accept of it on account of his want of years. The bishop however died in 1071, and all concerned selected Stanislaus for his successor, but he still refused, for the reason before stated. “At length," continues Fox, “the king, clergy, and nobility “unanimously joined in writing to pope Alexander II. who, at their
entreaty, sent an express order that Stanislaus should accept the bi
shopric. He then obeyed, and exerted himself to the utmost in im"proving his flock. He was' equally careful with respect both to
clergy and laity, kept a list of all the poor in his diocese, and by "feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and administering remedies “ to the sick, he proved himself not only the godly pastor, but the phy. “sician and benefactor of the people.” Here then it is clear that this
godly pastor," this “physician and benefactor of the people," was
a Papist,” as the modern editors of Fox would call him, that is, a Catholic, according to the right sense of his creed. He is explicitly stated as yielding to the commands of the pope, therefore he must have allowed the authority and supremacy of the popė, and so must the king and clergy and nobility of Poland, by making their application to Alexander II. to enforce their election. Thus it is manifest the supremacy of the pope was received with the light of Christianity, which would not have been the case had there not been divine authority for it. Fox next proceeds to detail the martyrdom of the saint, which arose, from his
courageous opposition to the unbridled lust and brutish extravagancies of the then king of Poland, Boleslas II. This monarch, it appears was an archetype of our Henry VIII. who murdered the pious bishop Fisher, for adhering to the same spiritual supremacy that Stanislaus acknowledged, and who refused to sanction Henry's enormities as Stanislaus reprobated the cruelties of Boleslas. Why Fox should make a distinction between such characters, either in the case of the monarchs or the prelates is irreconcileable to common sense ; yet so it is, and the modern editors of his book are busily employed in circulating this mass of delusion and inconsistency, in order, they say, to diffuse
among their fellow-believers a knowledge and love of the genuine “principles of Christianity !!” Precious principles of Christianity must they be that require falsehood and deceit for their support. But to return to Stanislaus. After several unsuccessful attempts to bring the king to a sense of his duty to himself and to his people, Stanislaus excommunicated the monarch, and forbad him to be received into the church during divine service. Boleslas in his rage dispatched some of his servants to get rid of the bishop, but they were awed by his venerable aspect, on which the king plunged his dagger into the saint's heart at the foot of the altar, where the martyr was at his devotions.
This happened in 1079. We cannot quit this account without calling the attention of the reader to the amiable self-devotion and charity exhibited in the conduct of these two Catholic bishops, and the general course of life of the reformed (as they are called) bishops and ministers under “Protestant-ascendency."
PERSECUTIONS OF THE WALDENSES IN FRANCE. We are now arrived at a very important period of our review, and we beg the reader's most earneșt attention to the subjects that may come before him. Hitherto the martyrs recorded by Fox have been Catholics, renowned for their exemplary devotion and sincere piety; practising every act of charity, and believing in one system of faith, derived from the apostles, and carried by their successors into all nations. The whole of Europe had at this time received the Catholic faith, and, in every country a regular bierarchy had been established, over each of which the pope held the spiritual supremacy, as head of the whole, by divine appointment. In the preceding pages, we have seen how heresy rose up in the churches of Asia and Africa, and as every error became known, was condemned by the pastors of the church, in which condemnation Fox has joined most cordially; we have seen that the broachers and adherents of the erroneous doctrines invariably had recourse to the civil sword, when foiled in argument, and now it was that the eastern countries were nearly subdued by the sword of Mahometanism for their impiety and presumption. With the exception of the note introd ed by the modern éditors of Fox to the life of St. Boniface, we have no intimation whatever of any error having crept into the church of Christ, nor could such be the case, since Christ had pro- , mised that HIS church should NEVER ERR, but that the Spirit of Truth should abide with her even to the end of the world. Now, unless we could rely upon this promise of Christ, and who shall we believe be.fore God himself? would it not be more consistent to renounce Christianity at once, than to be so beset with folly as to give credit to the notions of this pretender to inspiration, then to that railer against what is called Popery, without examining what claim they have to be believed in preference to the whole church of Christ Without some rule for our guide, it is impossible we can go right, and we have before us the rule which was followed by the successors of the apostles, ·and by every church after the seal of truth was imparted to the people. But, in contradiction of this rule, in the very face of history, and without a single tittle of evidence, we are now assured. by Fox, that the system of faith which had civilized the Pagan world, was become infected with error and superstition. Here are his words, sensible reader, and we beg your particular attention to them.
“ Before this time (he writes) the church of Christ was tainted with many
of the errors of popery, and superstition began to predominate; but a few, who perceived the pernicious tendency of such errors, determined to shew the light of the gospel in its real purity, and to disperse " those clouds which artful priests had raised about it, in order to delude the people. The principal of these worthies was Berengarius, who, "about the year 1000, boldly preached gospel truths according to their “primitive purity. Many, from conviction, went over to his doctrine,
“and were, on that account, called Berengarians. Berengarius was “ succeeded by Peter Bruis, who preached at Toulouse, under the pro“ tection of an earl, named Hildephonsus; and the whole tenets of the
reformers, with the reasons of their separation from the church of Rome,
were published in a book written by. Bruis under the title of ANTI“ Christ. In the year 1140, the number of the reformed was very great, “ and the probability of their increasing alarmed the pope, who wrote to • several princes to banish them their dominions, and employed many “ learned men to write against them. In 1147, Henry of Toulouse,
being deemed their most eminent preacher, they were called Henri“ cians, and as they would not admit of any proofs relative to religion but “ what could be deduced from the scriptures themselves, the popish party
gave them the name of Apostolics. Peter Waldo, or Valdo, a native “ of Lyons, at this time became a strenuous opposer of popery; and from “ him the reformed received the appellation of Waldoy, or Waldenses. “Waldo was a man eminent for his learning and benevolence; and his “ doctrines were adopted by multitudes. The bishop of Lyons, taking umbrage at the freedom with which he treated the pope and Romisk
clergy, sent to admonish him to refrain in future from such discourses; “ but Waldo answered, “That he could not be silent in a cause of such
importance as the salvation of men's souls; wherein he must obey God rather than man.''
Such is the introduction made by Fox, on changing his tone respecting the subject of religion; let us now examine his statements by the test of history. We have shewn the impossibility of the smallest degree of error in points of faith creeping into the church of Christ, though Fox blasphemously asserts that it was tainted with many corruptions; but we do not mean to deny that there were artful priests, who sought to delude and lead others into error. Among these we have seen Arius and his abettors, both bishops and priests, condemned by Fox himself, Novatus, Eutyches, Nestorius, and a swarm of beretics, who were immediately detected and denounced by the guardians of the true faith as soon as their novelties began to be made public. The same was the case with Berengarius, who is named by John Fox as the principal among the worthies,” who, about the year 1000“ preached
gospel truths according to their primitive purity." This "worthy," this gospel preacher, was honoured with the Catholic priesthood, and nominated archdeacon of Angers, in France, by Hubert of Vendome, bishop of the see, about the year 1039. He first broached errors against marriage and infant baptism, about the year 1047, but soon corrected himself. He next began to teach his novelty respecting the real presence of our Saviour in the blessed eucharist, about fifty years after the period stated by Fox, and as soon as he had declared himself, his own schoolfellow, Adelman, bishop of Brescia, warned him that he stood in opposition to the sense of the whole Catholic church. Here then we have a man placing his own individual opinion against the general conviction of the whole Christian world; and is there a being simple enough to believe that Berengarius knew better than the whole of mankind put together, and that he only was in possession of the truth? To entertain such an idea would be madness, and yet here are a set of men putting forth such folly, in order to diffuse, they say,