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Church of England Magazine.
MARCH 1, 1823.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
John Tetzel, a Dominican inquisi[Continued from Page 48.]
tor, a crafty, mendacious, impuWHEN Luther was cr ed Doc- dent character, who was adroit in tor in Divinity, he took an oath to this kind of merchandise, and had this effect: “ I swear before God, been distinguished by collecting to teach his word henceforth with great sums for the Teutonic knights constant purity and truth, accord- in their war with the Muscovites ing to my conscience, and without under a similar grant from the regard to fear or favour.” A man Pope. He scrupled not to make of his conscientious turn of mind the most extravagant assertions in would not forget the sacredness of the disposal of his church wares, such an obligation, especially when his full pardons, and his temporary placed in a post of authority, like licenses. If an epicure or an inthat of Sub-vicar of the Augustines valid wished to eat cheese and eggs in Misnia and Thuringia. Nor during Lent, he would grant him was it long before an occasion of- this favour for a few shillings. If fered of showing his zeal and inte- an affectionate child was anxious grity in the cause of religion, and concerning the state of his departin the service of his God.
ed parent, he would say, “ Put The reigning Pontiff, Leo X. some money into my box, and was a man of prodigal expenditure when you hear it chink, the soul of and unbounded gratification; who, your father will fly out of purgawhile he indulged his classic taste tory :” and when he had collected in prosecuting the design of his the doles of the deluded multitude, predecessor, Julius II. in the he would shake his box, and exerection of the magnificent cathe- claim, “ There they go! There dral of St. Peter, found his finances they go !” He boasted that he so much embarrassed, that he was bad saved more souls from hell by fain to give more extensive noto- his indulgences, than St. Peter had riety to the scheme of a sale of in- converted by his preaching. He dulgences, which had been de- assured the purchasers, that their vised for the support of this great crimes, however enormous, would undertaking. In Germany, the be forgiven. Nay, he proceeded right of disposing of these indul- to such lengths, as not only to gençes was granted to Albert, bro- grant pardon for past offence, but ther of the Elector of Brandenburg, even for intended transgression. Archbishop of Mentz and Magde- One day, when he was at Leipsic, burg. This prelate employed as a nobleman asked him, Pray, his retail agent in those districts, father, can you grant me absolu
tion for a sin that I design to com- the keys; while, even in those mit?” -“. Surely,” replied he; dạrk days, there were found some “ but, on condition that you pay intelligent characters, who perdown the required sum.” The bar- ceived that they were instruments gain was immediately struck. Not in the hands of crafty priests, to long after, as Tetzel was journeya minister to their avarice, and took ing from that city, the nobleman clandestine modes of expressing attacked him, emptied his chest, that disapprobation which they beat him soundly with his cudgel, dared not avow in a more open and sent him back, saying, “ This manner: witness those burlesque is the crime I intended to commit, verses which were found inscribed for which I have already your ab- on the grand altar in the cathedral -solution * !” The person of this of Bourges : papal agent had before been in imminent danger; for the Emperor I join thee to the saints in heaven.
“ If here thy cash be freely given, Maximilian, disgusted at his as
Sick souls are cleans'd by paying here : surance, and finding him guilty of Come then, ye people, far and near, a capital offence, had ordered him Down with the needful: bliss and glory, to be tied up in a sack and thrown I certify ye, lie before ye.
Seize, seize the boon: nay, do not falter ; into the river; but his life was
But bring tby gift, man, to the altar. spared through the intercession of Ab! did you know how great the blessing, Frederick, Elector of Saxony. You would not stand in need of pressing. It may not be inexpedient, in
Get absolution while you may; this place, to advert to the origin Open your purse without delay. and progress of this flagrant super- A seat in heaven is his, no doubt.
His arm to buy, who stretches out, stition. According to the doctrine When pardons ready stand for sale, of the Romish church, all the good The purchaser must needs prevail. works of the saints, over and above O haste, and fill the church's coffer, those which were necessary to their For Paradise is hers to offer: own justification, were deposited E’en a few shillings will secure as it were in a treasury, together But be that pays down largely, buys
A pretty lodging for the poor ; with the infinite merits of Jesus One of the mansions in the skies. Christ. The Popes, as succes- Come, pr’ythec, if thou lov'st thyself, sors of St. Peter, might transfer a
Part with a little dirty pelf;
And thus by cash, and cash alone, portion of this superabundant stock
Inherit a celestial throne *.” favoured applicant, whether for his personal advantage, or the
When Tetzel entered any town, benefit of his deceased friends in with intent to dispose of his prepurgatory. Such indulgences were cious wares, it was with that imfirst granted by Urban II. in the posing pomp which could not but eleventh century, to the crusaders; attract the notice of all ranks. The afterwards to such as provided a papal bull was borne before him in soldier to serve in the recovery of a rich silken or golden wrapper. the Holy Land; and at length, to He was saluted by the regular and those who contributed towards the secular clergy, magistracy, univeraccomplishment of any pious work sity, and commonalty, bearing 'enjoined by the see of Rome. standards and torches, who pre
The abuse made of this power in ceded him to the principal church, the fifteenth and sixteenth centu- where his red cross, which he told ries disgusted many devout mem- them was as efficacious as the cross bers of the Romish church, who of Christ himself, was set up amid were far from denying that the the playing of organs and the ringpower itself was a prerogative of
* Chemnitius, Exam. Concil. Trid. P. * Hectius, Vita Tezelii, p. 46, 47.
IV. p. 361.
ing of bells, with the banner of the volted against trifling with religion. Holy See.
He protested in the pulpit against Although, however, by the the sale of indulgences, which he terms of his commission, he was said was a plan well suited to enonly empowered to carry on his courage those who disliked the traffic in the archbishoprics of humbling doctrines of faith and reMagdeburg and Mentz, the bi- pentance, and would rather seek shopric of Halberstadt, and mar- for redemption in pecuniary com quisate of Brandenburg, he yet promise than in the cross of the was bold enough to exceed these Saviour; while the money which boundaries. In Saxony, the rage the more wealthy parted with, on for purchasing indulgences was so the pretence that it was needed great, that the Elector and his for the finishing of St. Peter's, nobles were alarmed and incensed would be much better employed in at the manner in which their vas- relieving the wants of their poorer sals were drained of their sub- neighbours. As: Tetzel was at this stance, and shocked at the immo- time in the neighbouring town of ralities which were committed un- Jutterbock, making use of all the der sanction of this abominable de- low artifices which would occur lusion. John of Salhausen, Bi- to a man of consummate boldness, shop of Misnia, a venerable and but of slender education, backed by enlightened ecclesiastic, who had inquisitorial terrors, the proceedbefore forbidden the venders of in- ing of the Wittenberg Professor dulgences from proffering their excited considerable emotion. commodities in his diocese, had Luther’s next step was to write blamed his people for suffering to the Archbishop of Mentz himthemselves to be so easily cheated, self, of whose participation in the and had declared, that from a dili- gain of this traffic he was not gent perusal of Scripture he had aware, entreating him to put a stop discovered true religion to be very to measures which threatened the different from that which generally existence of common morality, and prevailed, and saw that the traffic also enclosing a copy of ninety-five would soon be opposed. He ob- theses, or queries, which discover served, on his dying bed, “ This how much thought he had beTetzel will be the last seller of in- stowed on the subject. He also dulgences, his impudence is so in- addressed a letter to the Bishop of tolerable!”
Brandenburg, his own diocesan, Some persons coming to Luther who reverenced his integrity, and to confess, in the year 1517, and to some other prelates, to the same owning themselves great offenders, effect. The Archbishop returned refused to comply with the pe- him no answer; his own diocesan nances which he enjoined them, advised him to be quiet. As these because they were already pos- appeals to the constituted authorisessed of papal indulgences. He ties were fruitless, he thought it very properly replied, that he his duty to publish the propositions. could not in conscience grant them He accordingly fixed them up on absolution, while they entertained the doors of the church, adjoining such notions. They immediately the castle of Wittenberg, on the made their complaint to the Domi- eve of All Saints, with this pronican inquisitor, who threatened testation : “ I, Martin Luther, vengeance on all who should dare Doctor of the order of Eremites at to despise his authority. The in- Wittenberg, would have it putcident, however, sunk deep into licly testified, that I have set forth the mind of Luther, whose good certain propositions against the sense, as well as .solid piety, re- Pope's indulgences, so called;
and albeit that neither our learned than theological composition. He university, nor the civil or eccle- thundered out his anathemas siastical power, hath condemned against Luther in the pulpit, deme, yet, as is reported, certain claring that such an heretic ought persons of violent spirit have pre- to be burnt alive; and as a specisumed to brand me a heretic, as men of the author's desert, publicthough they had competent know- ly committed his propositions and ledge of the whole matter; I be- sermon to the flames. This indigniseech every one, as I have oft be- ty so much offended the Wittenberg fore, so now by the Christian faith, students, that they resolved to rethat they either show me a better taliate, by burning the counter way, if it be revealed by God to theses in the market-place. The any of them, or else let them sub- Reformer was much hurt at this mit their sentence to God, and the conduct of his friends. He knew -udgment of his church : for, nei- that the system of mutual combusther am I so rash as to require that tion was not the way to settle remy opinion be preferred to all other; ligious controversy: and as, when nor so insensible as to see, without he proposed his queries, he avowanimadversion, the word of God ed, that his sole object was a deless regarded than cunningly de- sire to ascertain the truth, so he vised fables.” He challenged any deprecated prejudice and courted one to oppose bis theses, either by investigation. He speaks with writing or disputation; and at the much feeling on this subject in a same time sent out some discourses letter to John Langus, Prior of the against the abuses in the reigning Augustines at Erfurt: “ That you superstition, particularly a sermon may be advertised of the truth, if a against indulgences, which he pub- certain story should reach your lished in German, that the com- ears about the burning of the Tetmon people might have some no- zelian propositions, and that others tion of the question which was agi- may not add to the tale, as is usutating among the learned in Latin. ally the case, I beg to inform you, On the day fixed, no person ap- that the students, heartily tired of peared to oppose the Professor. the old sophistical mode of study, The propositions, meanwhile, but much attached to biblical inspread rapidly over Germany, and struction, and it may be, led by a in the course of a fortnight were personal regard to me in abolishing perused by great numbers, who the former; hearing that a man were astonished at the boldness of had arrived from Halle, who was an Augustine monk. The friars of an emissary of Tetzel, collected on his own order were gratified at the the instant, and asking the fellow honour reflected on themselves, in a menacing tone, how he dared and the disgrace which attached to to bring such stuff to their quarter, the Dominicans; nor was his sove- some of them bought copies for reign, the Elector of Saxony, dis- themselves, while others seized on pleased to see some check likely to the remainder, which inight be be given by this dispute to the ex- about eight hundred; and (giving actions of the court of Rome. notice, that if any one wished to
Tetzel, enraged at the reception be present at a bonfire in the margenerally given to the propositions, ket-place, to be made of Tetzel's published some counter theses at theses, he should come thither at Francfort on the Oder, which were two o'clock) burnt their prize; but understood to be composed by it was entirely without the knowConrad Wimping, a divine of that ledge of the Prince, the Senate, the city. The Dominican himself was Rector, or, in short, of any of us. a greater adept in inquisitorial cant Indeed we were all much hurt, that the injury which had been of- though Frederick reverenced the fered to the man should be im- character of the Professor, yet he puted to us. For my part, I am was a prince of remarkable caualtogether innocent; but I am tion, and had not even honoured afraid that I shall bear the blame Luther with a personal interview, of the whole. A great story has but contented himself with such inbeen made of it in every direction, telligence as was conveyed through which is exaggerated by the suf- the secretary *. fering party, who have certainly When Luther perceived that his reason to be offended. What will theses, which with honest diffibe the consequence, I cannot say; dence he had proposed for acadeexcept, indeed, that I shall stand mical discussion and ecclesiastical more in jeopardy than I did be- judgment, were entertained by the fore." He also wrote to Jodock public in so favourable a manner, of Eisenach, who had been his that sentence seemed already preceptor, on the same occasion: passed upon them, he wrote to the “ I am surprised, that you could Bishop of Brandenburg, submitbelieve me to have been the author ting his writings to his decision, of this conflagration. Can you and requesting that he would draw imagine, that I have lost all com- his pen through every passage that mon sense, so as to have inflicted displeased him, or throw any
obsuch an outrage on a person in au- noxious page into the fire. His thority ; in a manner too, so unbe- diocesan returned for answer, that coming my character as a monk he had better defer the publication and a divine?” He was also te- of his arguments, and that he was nacious of the credit of others, as afraid the question of indulgences well as his own; and because, would produce too great a stir. among other rumours, it was cir- “ I am content,” rejoined the Proculated, that the Elector had se- fessor; “ I would rather perform an cretly instigated him to publish his act of obedience, than work a mitheses, he wrote to Spalatinus : racle, were it in my power.” But “One thing I am particularly anx- as he had sought direction from his ious you should understand. I am diocesan in the character of a much vexed, that certain low tale- priest, so he thought it right to adbearers should assiduously spread dress himself to his superior in that it abroad, that I am only the agent of a monk. Besides, he loved the of our illustrious Prince, for the Vicar-general, as the person who purpose of disgracing the Archbi- had first led him to right views of shop of Mentz. What ought I to some important doctrines. He do in such a case? Should I men-" begged him to transmit his writings tion it to the Prince himself? I to the Pope, to whom he had been am extremely concerned, that my defamed, that Leo might judge for sovereign should be suspected on himself. “ Not,” said he, that my account; and I am shocked I would involve you in my dangers. and alarmed to be the cause of dif- I desire to stand the issue alone. ference between characters in such I would leave it to Christ to dehigh station. I am very ready to termine, whether the cause be attend any disputation by order of mine or his. To my
kind advisers the Elector, provided I have public who recommend caution, I would security; but let them not involve reply, He that has nought to lose, an innocent governor in my fault. has nought to fear. I declare, that See what unreasonable creatures riches, popularity, or honours, are men are; a people loving darkness rather than light!” The report * Opp. L. 1. Epp. 42, 47, 39.--Secwas altogether unfounded; for, kendorf, p. 25.-Gerdesius, T. i. p. 98.