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been convulsed by the indulgences granted by Pope Leo X. to those who would contribute to the building of St. Peter's. These indulgences," he says, "and consequently the agents in distributing them, I do not now defend. And I remember that, as far as my position and honour would then allow, I spoke against them when those decrees were published, and when my opinion had no effect I was greatly grieved." He did not, he continued, doubt the power of the Pope in granting the indulgences, but held that "in giving them, the manner now insisted on with every care by the supreme Pontiff, Paul III., ought to be maintained, namely, that they should be granted freely, and that there should be no mention of money in regard to them. The lovingkindness and mercy of God should not be sold for money, and if anything be asked for at the time, it should be requested as a work of piety."'
The above will show that earnest-minded men were fully alive to the abuses which might be connected with the granting of indulgences, and no condemnation could have been stronger than that formulated by the Council of Trent. At the same time, it is clear that the abuses of the system were, so far as England at least is concerned, neither widespread nor obvious. The silence of Sir Thomas More on the matter, and the very mild representations of his adversary, Christopher SaintGerman, show that this is the case. Saint-German's objection was not against the system, but against the same kind of abuses against which subsequently the Fathers of Trent legislated. The reformers attacked not the abuses only but the whole system, and their language has quite unjustly been frequently interpreted by subsequent writers as evidence of the existence everywhere of widespread abuses. In this regard it is well to bear in mind that the translation of the works of the German reformers into English cannot be taken as contemporary evidence for England itself. The cry of the advanced party which would sweep away every vestige of the old religious observances was certainly not popular. One example of a testimony to the general feeling in London is given in a little work printed by one of the reforming party in 1542, when it was found that Henry VIII. did not advance along the path of reformation marked out by the foreign followers of Luther as quickly as his rejection of papal supremacy and the overthrow of the religious houses had caused some people to hope. The tract in question is called The lamentation of a Christian against the Citie of London made by Roderigo Mors,1 and some quotations from it will show what view an ardent reformer took of the spirit of Londoners towards the new doctrines. "The greater part of these inordinate rich, stiff-necked citizens," he writes, "will not have in their houses that lively word of our souls" nor suffer their servants to have it, neither yet (will they) gladly read it or hear it read, but abhors and disdains all those who would live according to the Gospel, and instead thereof they set up and maintain idolatry and other innumerable wickedness of man's invention daily committed in the city of London."
'Jacobi Sadoletti, Opera Omnia, Ve1ona (1737), torn, ii., p. 437.
"The greatest part of the seniors and aldermen, with the multitude of the inordinate rich. . . . with the greatest multitude of thee, O city of London, take the part and be fully bent with the false prophets, the bishops and other strong, stout, and sturdy priests of Baal, to persecute unto death all and every godly person who either preaches the word or setteth it forth in writing. . . . O Lord! how blind are these citizens who take so good care to provide for the dead which is not com'It is said to be "printed at Jericho in the land of Promes, by Thomas Treuth."
'The English Testament.
manded of them nor availeth the dead.1 . . When they feel themselves worthily plagued, which comes of Thee only, then they will run a-gadding after their false prophets through the streets once or twice a week, crying and calling to creatures of the Creator, or with ora pro nobis, and that in a tongue which the greatest part of them understand not, unto Peter, Paul, James and John, Mary and Martha: and I think within a few years they will (without Thy great mercy) call upon Thomas Wolsey, late Cardinal, and upon the unholy (or as they would say holy) maid of Kent. Why not, as well as upon Thomas Becket? What he was, I need not write. It is well known.*
"And think ye not that if the Blessed Virgin Mary were now upon earth and saw her Son and only Redeemer robbed of His glory, which glory you blind citizens give to her, would she not rend her clothes, like as did the Apostles, for offering oblations with their forefathers' kings' heads unto the Queen of Heaven? How many queens of Heaven have ye in the Litany? O! dear brethren, be no longer deceived with these false prophets your bishops and their members."'
"The great substance which you bestow upon chantries, obits, and such like dregs of . . . Rome, which most commonly ye give for three causes, as ye say, first, that you will have the service of God maintained in the church to God's honour, and yet by the same service is God dishonoured, for the Supper of the Lord is perverted and not used after Christ's institution . . . and the holy memory turned into a vain superstitious ceremonial Mass, as they call it, which Mass is an abominable idol, and of all idols the greatest; and never shall idolatry be quenched where that idol is used after antichrist's institution . . . which no doubt shall be reformed when the time is come that God hath appointed, even as it is already in divers cities of Germany, as Zurich, Basle, and Strasburg and such other."
1 Sig. A3. 'Ibid-.sig. A 4.
* Ibid., sigs. A 5 d., A 6 d.
"The second cause is for redeeming your souls and your friends', which is also abominable. . . The idolator nowadays, if he set a candle before an image and idol, he says he does not worship the image, but God it represents. For, say they, who is so foolish as to worship an image? The third cause of your good intent is that the profit of your goods may come to the priests; as though they were the peculiar people of God and only beloved: as indeed to those who preach the Gospel the people are bound to give sufficient living . . . but not that their prayers can help the dead no more than a man's breath blowing a sail can cause a great ship to sail. So is this also become an abomination, for those be not Christ's ministers, but the ministers of a rabble of dirty traditions and popish ceremonies, and you find a sort of lusty lubbers who are well able to labour for their living and strong to get it with the sweat of their face."1
". . . O ye citizens, if ye would turn but even the profits of your chantries and obits to the finding of the poor, what a politic and goodly provision! whereas now London being one of the flowers of the world as touching worldly riches hath so many, yea innumerable poor people, forced to go from door to door and to sit openly in the streets begging, and many not able to do otherwise but lie in their houses in most grievous pains and die for lack of the aid of the rich, to the great shame of thee, oh London !"'
After exclaiming against the amount of money spent by the authorities of the city of London on civic entertainments, and railing against the support given to "the Mass of Scala Cceli, of the Five Wounds, and other such like trumpery," our author continues: "Have you not slain the servants of the Lord, only for speaking against the authority of the false bishop of Rome, that monstrous beast, whom now you yourselves do, or should, abhor? I mean all his laws being contrary to Christ and not His body, and yet you see that a few years past you burnt for heretics abominable those who preached or wrote against his usurped power, and now it is treason to uphold or maintain any part of his usurped power, and he shall die as a traitor who does so, and well worthy."1
1 Ibid., sig. B i. "Ibid., sig. B ii.
After declaiming against the Mass and confession, and declaring that the bishops and cathedral churches should be despoiled of their wealth as their "companions and brethren in antichrist, the abbots," had been, the author of the tract goes on: "God gave the king a heart to take the wicked mammon from you, as he may rightfully do with the consent of the Commons by Act of Parliament, so that it may be disposed of according to God's glory and the commonwealth, and to take himself as portion, as (say) eight or ten of every hundred, for an acknowledgment of obedience and for the maintenance of his estate. The rest politically to be put into a commonwealth, first distributed among all the towns in England in sums according to the quantity and number of the occupiers and where most need is, and all the towns to be bound to the king so that he may have the money at his extreme need to serve him, he rendering it again. And also a politic way (should be) taken for provision of the poor in every town, with some part to the marriage of young persons that lack friends."'
The bishops the writer considers to be the greatest obstacles to the reformation of religion in England on the model of what had already taken place in Germany. "You wicked mammon," he continues, "your inordinate riches was not of your heavenly Father's planting; therefore it must be plucked up by the roots with the riches of your other brethren of the Romish church or church
1 Ibid., sig. B viii. 'Ibid., sig. D vii.