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Among the monastic orders, none were held in higher estimation than the mendicants, who are represented at a later period as the main pillar of the hierarchy. As a specimen of the frauds practised by them, and the blind veneration paid to these friars, may be mentioned the story of Simon Stockius, general of the order of Carmelites, in the thirteenth century. To this ecclesiastic, it was asserted and believed, that the virgin Mary had appeared, and given a solemn promise, that all who died with the Carmelite cloak or scapular upon their shoulders, should be infallibly preserved from eternal damnation; and strange as it may appear, a fiction so impious and absurd, found patrons even among the pontiffs.
Another source of emolument arose out of the reliance placed on the intercession of the saints, and the efficacy of their relics, which were supposed to protect the possessor from all manner of evil. Not only every church, but every individual had a patron saint; and the fertile invention of the clergy, speedily increased their numbers, in proportion to the demand. The fabulous histories of the lives of these imaginary saints, purchased with avidity, formed the chief study of the people, and superceded the perusal of the scriptures; while the discovery of their relics, which was invariably ascribed to a celestial vision, or divine revelation to some favoured ecclesiastic, afforded an extensive and profitable article of traffic with the deluded multitude.
But these pious frauds appear venial, when com-
pared with the infamous method afterwards adopted, to satisfy the avarice of the See of Rome. This was the abominable sale of indulgencies, whereby the payment of certain sums could purchase impunity for crimes, either past or future; and the ground on which the pretence to this absolving power was founded, displays at once the ignorance of the people, and the unprincipled cupidity of the pontiffs. It was maintained that the meritorious works of the saints, being more than sufficient for their own salvation, left an immense fund for the benefit of others, at the disposal of the church. It was further asserted, that one drop of Christ's blood, being more than sufficient to redeem the whole human race, the remaining quantity that was shed in the garden and on the cross, was left as a legacy to the church, to be a treasure, whence indulgencies were to be drawn, and administered by the Roman pontiff.'
It was this scandalous pretence on the part of Leo the 10th, and his demanding from Luther the acknowledgment of his power, to deliver from all the punishments due to sin and transgression, that brought about the reformation in the 16th century. But long before this the ambition of the pontiffs had claimed supremacy over all the kings of the earth. In the 13th century we learn, that Innocent the 3d. claimed the empire of the world, and disposed of crowns and sceptres according to his pleasure. In Asia he gave a king to the Armenians; in Europe he conferred the regal dignity on Primislaus, duke
of Bohemia; by his legate, was Johannicius, duke of Bulgaria and Wallachia, invested with the ensigns and honors of royalty; while he crowned with his own hand Peter the 2d. of Arragon, who had rendered his dominions subject and tributary to the church. When the empire was disputed between Philip, duke of Suabia, and Otho the 4th, he embraced the cause of Otho, thundered out his anathemas against Philip, and upon his death placed the crown on the head of his adversary. But Otho, not chusing to submit to his authority, was in his turn excommunicated, and Frederic the 2d. raised to the throne in his place. The same pontiff compelled Philip Augustus of France, to take back the queen whom he had divorced; and obliged John of England to acknowledge himself his vassal. Such was the arrogance of the avowed representative of the meek and humble Jesus.
When we consider the character which Christianity had assumed, from the time of its accession to the imperial throne, little surprise will be excited by the means employed for its propagation among the nations of Europe. The open avowal of the use of the sword in disseminating their faith, is urged as an eternal reproach against the followers of Mahomet. With what reason this charge is brought against them by the self-styled Christians, will be seen from a cursory view of the means employed by themselves. If we look back to the 8th century, when most of the northern nations were still enveloped in the darkness of the pagan super
stitions, we shall find Christianity making little progress by any other means than force; and the conversion of the Saxon nations appears to have been chiefly owing to the victorious arms of the Franks, under Charlemagne. In the 9th century indeed, some little success seems to have attended the efforts of missionaries, who employed better means, among the Bulgarians, and Bohemians; and the same may be said of the first dawning of the light of the gospel among the Russians in this century; but such instances are of rare occurrence. In the 10th century, the conversion of Rollo and his Normans, was purchased by Charles the Simple, at the expence of part of his territory, and the hand of his daughter Gisela. By threats and promises, edicts and penal laws, Micislaus conquered the obstinacy of the Poles; while similar means succeeded in persuading the Hungarians, to follow the example of Stephen their prince. Harald and the Danes in the same century, received the faith, less through choice than compulsion, from their victorious enemy, Otho the Great; while the Norwegians in like manner, abandoned the gods of their ancestors, compelled by the victorious arms of the Swedes. At the end of this century, Adalbert, bishop of Prague, endeavoured to instil the truths of the gospel into the minds of the Prussians, then a fierce and savage race; but he perished in the attempt, and received, from the lance of Siggo, a pagan priest, the crown of martyrdom. His death was avenged by Boleslaus, king of Poland, and the
Prussians in the 11th century, after a bloody war, were dragooned into the Christian church. In the 12th century, the Finlanders were compelled to receive the faith; and among the Livonians, the propagation of the gospel was attended with horrible scenes of bloodshed and cruelty. The chief instruments in this achievement were the military order of knights sword-bearers, instituted by Innocent the 3d. to preach the gospel sword in hand, and prove its truth by blows instead of arguments. New legions were however required from Germany, to second the efforts of these booted apostles; until by slaughter and violence, the spirit of this wretched people was finally subdued.
A. D. 1500 to 1600.-We have seen by what means the dominion of the pope was extended over the northern nations, and with what reason the Mahommedans are upbraided with the use of force, in propagating their faith. Before the end of the 12th century, ten kings, according to the prophecy, had given their power to the beast, and continued to do so till the middle of the 16th, the period of the reformation; these were France, Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, and Hungary. Of these, some threw off the papal yoke entirely, at the time of the reformation; as England, Scotland, and Sweden; others