Page images

Her husband, without entirely crediting her story, might have thought to frighten the priest, to extort money, or to gain some other end. And we think his parley with Mr. Weinzæpflen, and his whole conduct, will justify this hypothesis. Had he really believed the priest guilty, he would not have acted as he did: at least no other husband breathing would have so acted. And the result confirms the conclusion, when he found that he had gained nothing by his menaces against Mr. Weinzepflen, he abandoned his wife and child to their fate! She was too bad even for him!

But the woman may have had another motive. She was a bad Catholic; was not a regular communicant; and had recently incurred the disgrace of her family and church by running away from her parents and marrying Schmoll before a magistrate. She keenly felt her disgrace; and to re-instate herself, wished to go to communion publicly. She told Mathias Stahlhofer, the sexton of the church, as much as this. She stated to him, “that she would prefer going to confession privately, so that if he (the priest) sent her away, it might not be known;—that she would be ashamed to death if sent away ;-that if he did not give her absolution, she, in substance, threatened she would have her revenge &c.'"*

And she had spoken still more plainly to Catherine Henrich, whom she had assured shortly before the eve of Ascension day, that if, as her father feared, she did not get absolution, “she would, as the language in German is, break every thing down, that she would do injury to the priest or the church ;-—that she was a bad girl and would do any thing ;-that ..... if she ever told a lie, she would stick to it &c.”+

Yet one more circumstance in this fatal affair, and we are done. In her testimony she had made her prayer-book a kind of tutelary angel which was always with her ;-before, at the time of, after the alleged crime. She had played all manner of fantastic tricks with that same prayer-book. She had taken it into the confessional, and she had not taken it; she had prayed out of it, and she had not prayed out of it; she had found it on the bench by her side, after the alleged outrage, and she had not found it &c. &c. But one thing is certain. With all her fainting and falling down stone dead; with all her agitation and nerves; after all the horrors of that scene; she coolly went to seek that same prayer-book, and carried it home with her.

We are done; though we have not said half of which might have been said on the subject. Much we have omitted on purpose, because we could not sully our paper with obscenity. Mr. Weinzæpflen is in a felon's prison ; and his persecutors are at large, exalting over his disgrace. But who is there that would not prefer his condition to theirs? Who is there that would not prefer to suffer imprisonment, innocent, than to be at large, guilty ? Who would

• See his sworn deposition—Supplement p. 10.

| Ibid.

not rather be in the place of Mr. Weinzepflen in the State penitentiary at Jeffersonville, than occupy the editorial chair of the Chandlers at Evansville ?

One thing is certain : there is a just God in heaven-let the persecutors of Mr. Weinzæpflen look to it! He is patient, because he is eternal: He has an eternity to reward His friends, and an eternity to punish His enemies!

Persecution never can put down the Church of Christ, nor crush truth or innocence. Our enemies may burn our Churches, burn our libraries, burn our schools, rob our graves, in the East; and they may imprision our priests, in the West! All will do them no good. We will thrive by persecution. The blood of martyrs will still prove a fertile seed! Our Church will rise, phenix-like, from her ashes ; our slandered clergy will come out brighter from the fiery ordeal: truth and innocency-we repeat it cannot be crushed by persecution or slander !

What are Catholics to do in this crises of affliction ? Are they to seek revenge, or feel angry? God forbid! Like Christ, they are to forgive and to pray for their enemies. Let them pray, pray, pray, more even for their persecutors than for their friends ; for the former need prayer more than the latter. Let them, in one word, imitate the good and innocent Mr. Weinzeepflen, who in the penitentiary does little bui pray for his enemies !* Not one murmur escapes his lips : not one harsh word against those who have injured him; his meek and forgiving spirit has won the hearts of his keepers and of all who see him : they, as well as the lawyers who pleaded for him, all believe him innocent: and the day is not distant, when even his bitterest enemies will know it and feel ashamed !

P. F.

• See his letter from the prison--Suppl. p. 57-8.

THE REFORMATION. D'Aubigne's " History of the Great Reformation in Germany and Switzerland,"

Reviewed; or the Reformation in Germany Examined, in its Instruments, Causes, and Manner, and in its influence on Religion, Government, Literature, and General Civilization. By M. J. SPALDING, D. D. Baltimore :-John Murphy.

No source of error teems with more serious and enduring results, than the abuse of language. Once connect an idea or a fact with an expression that presents it in a false light, and let the fraud be sanctioned by the authority of custom; and it will be found an almost hopeless effort to strip the idea or fact of the dress which conceals its real character. The word, reformation, in its

of stom; and it will be eat, and let the fraud of a fact with an

original acceptation denoted—not simply a change, but a change for the better ; and the word, reformer, indicated—not a mere changer, but one who effected a change for the better. And yet ihe most deplorable schism that is recorded in the annals of the church, the most marked departure from the principles on which she was constituted by her Divine Founder, and the most undeniable deterioration in the morals of that portion of christendom which was effected by the change alluded to ;—all are expressed in ordinary usage by the word Reformation; and the men by whom this change for the worse was effected the turpitude of whose lives is no less a matter of history than the pernicious doctrines they advocated—have been dubbed “Reformers.”

Various and contradictory are the histories which have been written in latter days of the great religious revolution of the sixteenth century. Its apologists and panegyrists have regarded it either as the work of God, or--if they have condescended to recognize its human character, they have proclaimed it to have been a giant stride in the way of improvement and perfectibility. But fortutunately for the cause of truth, history has not always been written under the influence of party spirit; and there have been found men who to the encomiastic praises of friends have opposed the stubborn evidence of facts, derived from the unsuspicious evidence of other but less prudent advocates of the Reformation, and consigned in the writings of those who gave it birth.

The prudent inquirer after truth may here feel the difficulty of forining a correct idea of an event só variously represented, and may very naturally conclude, that if the apologists of the reformation are to be listened to with caution, its adversaries cannot escape the suspicion of being influenced by opposite feelings, no less detrimental to the impartiality of the historian. We at once adinit the reasonableness of the principle which suggests their doubt ; but we deny its application to the class of writers opposed to the Reformation to whom we have above alluded.

It must be admitted that however liable to suspicion may be the testimony of friends the concessions of an opposite tendency which they make, the facts which they acknowledge, and the conclusions which a rigid and unsparing logic must derive from the premises they lay down--are so many titles to confidence in the writer who, in the examination of this distorted event, confines himself to such authorities, and does little more than make the Reformation condemn itself. Such an appreciation of the Reformation we find in the work the title of which we have placed at the head of this article. Its author, the Rev. Dr. Spalding, has almost in every instance,--certainly in relation to every important fact connected with the Reformation, selected the materials of his most interesting volume from the writings of the apologists of that event, and not unfrequently from the very lips of the reformers themselves.

This most opportune contribution to our theological literature is divided into four parts. In the first of which the author examines the character of the Reformers. The causes and manner of the Reformation are investigated in the

second part; while the influence of that event on religion and society is calmly discussed in the third and fourth division of the work.

The character of the reformers is intimately connected with the character of the reformation. Nothing is more true than that we must not identify religion with the conduct of its ordinary ministers; but nothing is more certain than that God when he raises up men as extraordinary heralds of the truth gives to their mission the sanction which is derived from holiness of life. In the former case, of the ministers of religion in ordinary circumstances, the principle laid down by our Divine Saviour in regard of the Jewish priests finds its full and legitimate application : “The Scribes and Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses: what they say do ye; but their works do ye not.” In the case of those sent by God in extraordinary circumstances, as the immediate messengers of his will, every principle justifies us in expecting to find in them men whose lips have been purified by the living fire of the sanctuary. No one can deny that to reform the Church, which is supposed to have wandered from the high-way of truth into the bye-paths of error; to have purified her from the moral corruption which is attributed--not so much to the frailty of her members, as to the vicious institutions she is said to have adopted and interwoven in her system; in a word that the repristination of christianity would be—were it possible—one of the extraordinary occasions on which those who would come to perform the good work should be permitted to retain as little as possible of human imperfection in their conduct. Was such the character of the reformers? The first part of Dr. Spalding's work will enable the candid enquirer to give the true answer to this question. The most prominent among the reformers, the parent of the reformation, Martin Luther, was a man whose character is as far as might appear possible removed from the idea we have a right to find realized in an extraordinary envoy from heaven. The most charitable conclusion we can draw from a consideration of his eventful career is, that he laboured under a species of monomania-hatred of the Pope--and that under the influence of this disease he believed in all the hallucinations of his powerful but erratic intellect. Follow him from the moment he publicly denounced the Pope as Anti-christ,--that very Pope whom on several occasions even after he commenced his career of reformer, he had recognized as the Vice-gerent of Christ-until almost his last breath when he prayed for a few days longer of life, in order that he might be able " to stigmatize before the whole world this Roman beast,” and you will find this hatred to Rome the main-spring of all his actions. A characteristic anecdote will shew that we do no injustice to Luther in thus describing his feelings towards the Roman Pontiff. Rising from the last supper table at which he sat, and while exhibiting to his afflicted friends the too certain indications of his approaching death, he made an effort to express in one line the ruling principle of his life“Pestis eram vivens, moriens mors ero tua, Papa.” ("In life I was thy pest; in death, O Pope, I shall be thy death.")

This, we are aware, is taken by his friends as a manifestation of his hatred for error ; but Luther cannot be supposed to have had more zeal than the Apostles of Christ, neither can what is nick-named Popery be reckoned worse than Paganism; and yet we would vainly seek for any thing in the actions of Christ's first envoys to justify the conduct and language of the German monk. We abstain from dwelling on the uncertainty which he himself manifested as to the truth of the doctrines he stood forward to promulgate, nor shall we dwell on the changes in doctrine he actually made or threatened to make, when he found it necessary to awe his deluded followers into submission, nor of the utter disregard for truth which he manifested by declaring with regard to communion under one kind, that if a council should ordain the administration of the sacrament in both kinds, he would take it in one kind only, or not at all. All these are facts provable by the very words of the reformer himself; and it is for those who venerate him as a heaven-sent messenger, or who esteem him as a rough but uncompromising champion of truth, to reconcile them with the grounds on which Luther is reverentially regarded by them. Neither shall we do more than allude to the morality of the Arch-Reformer. The double violation of solemn vows made to God involved in his marriage with the nun, Catharine Bore, may appear an act of heroic virtue in the eyes of his admirers; although it seems more than probable that St. Paul (1. Tim. v. 12.) would have passed a different judgment on those acts of, as he has been called, this second Apostle of the nations. But how can his panegyrists contrive to close their ears to the licentiousness of his language in the pulpit before a mixed and excited congregation ;-modern no-popery preachers when they have such matters to treat of, with wonderful regard for public morals, admonish ladies to keep away from the Church !-How can they turn over the leaves of his voluminous correspondence, and especially how can they pass over the disgusting obscenity of his “ Table Talk” which, as reported in original and authentic--not expurgated editions, has some of the foulest indecencies that ever escaped the lips of libertinism. Verily we must be pardoned if we refuse to recognize in the German Reformer any higher character than that of a bold and brutal innovator.

In the words of Dr. Spalding, “it would be very easy to shew that the other reformers were not a whit better than Luther.” But we are spared the disgust of passing them separately in review by the following masterly and condensed portraiture of them, sketched by an artist of consummate skill and entire impartiality. “ The historian, Hume, has truly characterized the reformers as “fanatics and bigots;' but with no less justice might he have added, that they were (with one exception perhaps )* the coarsest hypocrites:t men, who, while professing the most high-llown sanctity in their writings, were in

• Melanchton.
† Bucer admits the justice of this reproach. Epist. ad Calvin.

« PreviousContinue »