« ForrigeFortsæt »
" who fell upon Muncer before he could be joined by the several bo“ dies of insurgents on their march to reinforce him. Muncer was “ discomfited; and more than seven thousand Anabaptists perished on or this occasion. Their fanatic leader was himself taken, and a short “ time after executed. (See Catrou, Hist. des Anab. Sleidam, 1. 10, “ Seckendorf Comment. Hist. &c.) The defeat and death of Muncer “ did not extinguish Anabaptism in Germany: the party, indeed, was “ no longer formidable; although it seemed even to increase in num“ bers. Its sectaries, odious alike to Catholics, to Protestants, and Sa"cramentarians, were persecuted and defamed through the German
territories. In Switzerland, the Low Countries, and in Holland, they
were treated with still greater rigour; numbers were put to death, " and the prisons were crowded with these poor deluded people. Their “ enthusiasm, however, could not be subdued by terror; and they still
continued to increase. From time to time, there appeared among “ them impostors who promised them more happy times. Matthew
son, a baker at Haarlem, sent ten apostles into Friesland, to Munster “ and other places. At Munster there were already some Anabaptist
proselytes, who received the new apostles as emissaries from hea
ven. They all assembled together in a body at night; and Matthew.“ son's vice-deputy conferred upon them the apostolic spirit which " they were eagerly waiting to receive. They appeared not much in
public, till their numbers were greatly augmented; when they suddenly ran up and down the country exclaiming: Repent ye, and do pe
nance and be baptized, that the wrath of God may not fall upon you. “ The spirit of fanaticism was quickly diffused; and when the magis“ trates set forth an ordinance against them, the Anabaptists flew to
arms, and seized upon the market place: the townsmen took their
post in another quarter of the city. Thus they guarded each other “ during three days; till they at length agreed to lay down their arms, “ and that both parties should mutually tolerate each other, notwith
standing their difference of sentiments in matters of religion. “Meanwhile thc Anabaptists dispatched secret messages to different
parts, informing by letter their adherents, that a prophet inspired by “the Holy Spirit was come to Munster; that he predicted marvel“ lous events, and instructed men in the true method of saving their “ souls. In consequence of this intelligence, a prodigious number of
Anabaptists repaired to Munster; upon which several of the party
ran up and down the streets, crying out with all their might: Re“ tire all ye wicked from this place, if you wish to escape entire destruc“ tion: all those who refuse to be rebaptized will be knocked on the head. “ The clergy and the natives then abandoned the town; and the Ana
baptists pillaged the churches and forsaken houses; and committed « to the flames all books indiscriminately, except the bible. Soon after -* the town was besieged; and Matthewson, sallying out upon the as“ sailants, was himself numbered among the slain. His death was a “ thunderbolt to the party; till John Becold revived their drooping
spirits by running naked through the streets, and crying out: the " king of Sion is at hand. After this extraordinary frolic, he retired to “his lodgings, and dressed himself as ordinary; but stirred not out of “ doors. The next morning the people attended in crowds to learn the
of so mysterious à proceeding John Becold answered not a word; but signified in writing, that God had enjoined him silence for “ three days. The term of his mutism was expected with impatience; " and then with a prophetic tone he declared to the people, that God
had commanded him to establish twelve judges over Israel. He “ named them, and introduced in the government of Munster whatever “ alterations he thought fit. When the impostor deemed himself suf
ficiently secure of the good opinion of the multitude, a certain gold“ smith presented himself before the judges, and said to them: 'Hear “ what the Lord God eternal saith. As heretofore I established Saul “ king of Israel, and after him David, although he was but a simple
shepherd; so I this day establish my prophet Becold, king in Sion.' Another prophet stepped forth and presented him with a sword, say
ing: 'God establish thee king, not of Sion only, but of all the earth.' “ The credulous people, in transports of joy, proclaimed the new king « of Sion, and caused a crown of gold to be made for the occasion, and
money to be coined in his name.
“ Without loss of time, Becold dispatched twenty-six apostles to their “ various destinations, with commission every where to propagate his “ empire. Confusion and disorder marked the progress of these new “ missionaries, particularly in Holland, where John of Leyden pre“ tended that God had made him a present of Amsterdam, and of se“ veral other cities. Here the Anabaptists, after exciting much tumult “and sedition, were many of them punished with death. The king of “ Sion learnt with extreme concern the deplorable mischances of his " apostles. All was now despondency in Munster; the town was taken, “ and king Becold himself was put to an ignominious and cruel death.
Thus terminated the reign of Anabaptism at Munster, in the year “ 1536." So far Mr. Bell.
The Fanatic Martyrology is more explicit on the freaks of this king of Sion, and as we are threatened, not altogether with as violent outrages, but with equally as fanátical prophets and preachers, we feel it our duty to shew. the extremes to which the human mind will go, when unrestrained by divine authority, and acting upon that unstable guide, called REASON. Within these few days, a shoemaker, named Hale, after realizing an independent property by his trade in the Strand took it into his head to be inspired with scriptural wisdom, and discovered that war was against the sacred text, and therefore every soldier who fought in defence of his country would be damned. Not willing to confine this opinion to himself, he caused his notion to be printed in the form of a pamphlet, and set about converting the soldiers in the barracks to his way of thinking, Had he succeeded, we should have had very little security forour property or our lives; the civil authorities, however, held him to bail for his good behaviour, which he, fired with enthusiasm, refusing to give, the result has been a commitment to prison to take his trial for the offence. Had this business happened in a Catholic.country, instead of Protestant England, there is no doubt but
few plain Christians” would have made the treatment of Mr. Hale a subject of religious persecution. At the time we are now writing (Oct. 8, 1824) the papers are filled with a detail of fanaticism scarcely surpassed in the frensied days of the pretended Reformation
of the sixteenth century, on which we are treating. A set of self-interpreting bible-readers, after following an old woman, the late Johanna Southcot, as a prophetess, have taken it into their heads to adopt the ceremonial of the old law, circumcision, and, in some instances, of long beards, to appear like the patriarchs of old. In performing the rite of circumcision on a child of 14 days old, however, from the unskilfulness of the high priest, death ensued; the priest has been found guilty of manslaughter, and committed to Lancaster gaol. Being in a Protestant country, we do not hear of any outcry against the proceeding, but we have not-a doubt, had the affair taken place in Spain, and the circumciser been put into the inquisition, that the “ few plain Christians" would have made him a confessor of the faith in their next edition of this Book of Martyrs.
From the statement given by Fox, the reader is induced to believe that every thing was perfectly quiet and regular on the part of the reformers, until Charles declared war against them. We wish the reader not only to examine dates, but to be made acquainted with some of the diabolical doctrines propagated by these pretended reformers of religion, the dear and beloved friends of the “few plain Christians, who have united to “diffuse among their fellow-believers a knowledge " and love of the genuine principles of Christianity." Well, then, reader, among other notions imbibed by these scripture-readers, it was held by them, that all those who were not re-baptized MUST BE IMMEDIATELY SLAIN! A very moderate mode of propagating the truth, and by no means partaking of the spirit of persecution. They also believed all books but the Bible useless, and accordingly they burned all they could meet with, to shew their great love for learning and the sciences. The Fanatic Martyrology tells us that John of Leyden declared, “that a man should not be tied to one wife, but might marry
as many as he pleased. Some scrupling to approve of this doctrine, "he summoned them to appear before the twelve governors, where " he swore upon the evangelists, that this doctrine had been revealed to “him from Heaven, and to testify the evidence of the spirit, he com“manded some of the opposers to be beheaded. Immediately his
preachers confirmed this doctrine; but the greatest confirmation was the prophet's practice, who presently married three wives, and
never gave over till he had made them up fifteen. Many followed “his example, and it was looked upon as honourable to have many
wives, nay so eager were those holy brothers, that as soon as the “ revelation was made public, they all ran after the handsomest women, “ lying with them beforehand, without any matrimonial contract, for " fear of being disappointed."
Of the horrid freaks carried on by this mock king, and submitted to by the infatuated victims of delusion, the reader may form some idea from the last mentioned work :-" This upstart king, being originally “ taylor, soon converted the rich.copes and vestments he had stolen “ from the churches, into robes to adorn his vile person, and appeared « glittering in gold and silver; and even his horses had all their fur“niture suitable, their saddles, hoosings ,&c. being embroidered. The “ taylor king rode abroad daily in much state, atteuded by his officers. “ Next before him went two young men, the one carrying a bible
" and the other a sword. About his neck he wore a great chain, in “the nature of the collar of some order of knighthood, with this "motto, rer justitiæ hujus mundi, the king of righteousness of this “ world. He was followed by 50 persons well clad. Thrice a week “ he gave public audience, and sat in judgment on an high throne. “Under him sat Knipperdoling, his governor of the city, and some“what lower his four great councellors of state. In this court he de“cided all controversies, which were principally about divorces ; for
by the new erected scheme of libertinism, every man that was weary “ of his wife, might put her away, and take another. The tyrant pre“ tended king to shew his authority, being offended at one of his wives,
brought her forth into the market-place, and struck off her head, causing all his other wives to dance about her, and give thanks to their
heavenly Father, after which he began to dance himself, and com« manded all the people to do the like.
“ Another time, when he was sitting on the throne, in great majesty, his prophet Thuscocurer came to him and said, king John, the
gospel was renewed by thee, thus said the Lord God. Go and “the king of Sion, that he prepare my supper in the church-yard of “ the great church; and that he send forth preachers of my word unto " the four quarters of the world, to teach all nations the way of “ righteousness, and to bring them, by the spirit of their mouths, unto my sheepfold. “ Accordingly a public communion was celebrated being a full meal,
a solemn feast, for the number of persons and plenty of meat; the « communicants, as they called them, being about 4000, and the com" munion three courses of meat; between the which courses there was
a bloody inter-mess, for John of Leyden, during the entertainment, " accused a man of treason, and cut off his head, and returning with “his hands reeking with the blood, took upon him to administer the " communion, assisted by his queen, performing the office of a deacon, “ and the like was done by the principal officers of state.”
The scenes here described demonstratively prove that the reformation so called was ushered in by very different means to those pursued by the apostles of Christ and their successors. The maxims laid down by the latter and enforced by example carried conviction to the Jews and Gentiles, and softened the barbarian nations into civiJized Christians. The notions, however, instilled by the reformers of the sixteenth century brutalized their followers and made them ignorant and cruel. The fruit of Catholicism was the raising of noble edifices to the worship of God, and public institutions for the support of the indigent and infirm; the fruit of Protestantism was the demolition of these sacred temples, and the confiscation of the patrimony of the poor. . But even in the midst of these disorders, the arm of force was not raised until the power of persuasion was shewn to be unavailable, At the instigation of the pope, Leo X. and the princes of the empire, the emperor Charles assembled a diet at Worms in 1521, to discuss and deliberate on the most effectual means to put a stop to the disorders that troubled their states. Luther was summoned and attended, but eloquence and truth were lost on this ambitious and immoral man. He would not retract; an imperial edict was therefore passed, condemning his books, and placing him under the ban of the empire.Luther thought fit to secure his safety by flight, and the emperor being called suddenly into Spain, the edict was not acted upon. In 1524 another diet met at Nuremburg, and two others at Spire in 1526 and 1529, but to no purpose. In the year 1530 the Lutheran doctors published a profession of faith in twenty one articles, called the Confession of Augsburg, and in the year following the famous league of Smalkald was entered into, by which the confederate princes of the new confession bound themselves to support each other against the emperor, and protested against all compulsive measures he might think fit to adopt to bring them to a sense of duty. From this Smalkald protest, the reformers acquired the appellation of Protestants. Notwithstanding this warlike disposition on the part of the Protestants, Charles did not assume a similar attitude. He recommended plans of pacification, such as the calling of a general council, and a committee of divines on each side to compose a formulary of faith that should be agreeable to all parties. To this mode of proceeding there could be no objection, provided Truth was the object of each; but as the Catholics could make no change in the doctrines they had received from God, and as the Lutherans were not disposed to give up the indulgent system they' bad adopted, the recommendation was fruitless and nugatory.
As we have before shewn, when error has been carried to an extreme height, and the exertions of the provincial guardians of the faith have been ineffectuat in suppressing it, recourse has usually been had to general councils, for preserving and pointing out the Truth. This conduct was pursued by the church against the Arians in 325; the Macedonians in 381; the Nestorians in 430; the Eutychians in 451; the Monothelites in 680.; the Iconoclasts in 757; the Photians in 869; the Manicheans and Albigenses in 1139; the Wickliffites, Hussites, &c. in 1414; and the Lutherans, in 1545. The motive of these councils is not to encourage or sanction persecution, but to remove the current of abuses, by adopting salutary measures of reform; and to silence error by a solemn declaration of the truths received from the apostles and handed down from the primitive ages to the period in which these sacred synods or ecclesiastical parliaments were held. Thus on the 13th day of December, in the year 1545, a considerable number of prelates and divines assembled from all parts of Christendom, in the cathedral of Trent, a free city of the Germanic empire, under the authority of a bull issued by pope Paul III. Besides Italian, French, and Spanish bishops, there were some from Portugal, Greece, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Illyrica, Moravia, Croatia, Flanders, Ireland, and one from England. Thus it may be very justly said, the Catholic church was fairly represented from all parts of the world, and the deputed fathers could testify as to the belief held in their respective countries. The Irish bishops were Thomas O'Herlihy, bishop of Ross, in Munster, who died in 1597, Donat Mac-Congail, bishop of Raphoe, in Ulster, who died in 1589; and Eugene O'Hart, a Dominican bishop of Achonry, in Connaught, who died in 1603, at the age of one hundred years. The English prelate was Thomas Goldwell, bishop of St. Asaph's. Besides the prelates above, a hundred and fifty theologians, some of the ablest of all Catholic nations attended, and discussed every point in the conferences.