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roborated and established by undeniable facts, and authentic historical evidence; or in other words, by its immediate effects, or the very first fruits it produced wberever it did prevail.
Those who advocate the cause of the reformers say that their labours were abundantly fruitful of good works, and that their doctrine produced the happiest effects wherever it was received. But their opponents flatly deny it, and positively assert that the very reverse was actually the case : and they support their assertion, not only by referring to those long and bloody wars which resulted from the reformation, but also to the express testimony of credible witnesses, who affirm, that vice and immorality greatly increased wherever protestantism became predominant. Nor is it a little remarkable that these same witnesses are, for the most part, some of the very chief reformers; so that their evidence comes with a force that cannot well be resisted. Some of them belonged to the continent, and others to this kingdom; but we shall in this place bring forward only the former, reserving the latter till we come to exhibit the rise and progress of the reformation in this country
We shall begin with Luther, whose testimony on this occasion is very strong and remarkable._"The world” (says hc) grows worse and worse.
It is plain that men are much more covetous, malicious, and resentful, much more upruly, shameless, and full of vice, than they were in the time of popery." * "F8rmerly, when we were suduced by the pope, men willingly followed good works, but now all their study is to get every thing to themselves by exactions, pillage, theft, lying, usury.” + “It is a wonderful thing, and full of scandal, that from the time that the pure doctrine was first called to light, the world should daily grow worse and worse.” 1-The testimony of Bucer, another celebrated reformer, is to the same effect. “The greater part of the people" (says he) "seem only to have embraced the gospel, in order to shake off the yoke of discipline, and the obligation of fasting, penance, &c., which lay upon them in the time of popery; and to live at their pleasure, enjoying their lust and lawless appetites without controul. They therefore lend a willing ear to the doctrine that we are justified by faith alone and not by good works, having no relish for them.” U Musculus also, another eminent rcformer, is said to have borne much the same testimony. Ś
CALVIN's evidence in this case seems also to be equally forcible and decisive: “Of so many thousands (says be) seemingly eager in embracing the gospel, how few have since amended their lives ? Nay, to what else does the greater part pretend, except by shaking off the heavy yoke of superstition to launch out more freely in
* Luth. Serm, in Postill. Evang. 1. Adv. t Luth. Serm. Dom. 26, post Trin. # Luth, in Serm. conviv. H Bucer de regni, Christ. I, i. c, 4. Şee Milner's Letters to Sturges, 2d. Ed. p. 170, 171, &c. a work that contains a great deal of very curious mat. ter on these subjects, and on most of the great points at issue between the catholics and their opponents.
to every kind of lasciviousness ?” * Thus said Calvin. When the character of the reformation is duly and thoroughly considered, and especially that of Calvin's own doctrine, it is no great wonder that such effects should follow. It would have been much more wonder'ful if they had not followed; at least, when we further consider the abominable conduct, the vile and bloody deeds that were sanctioned by the same reformer's own example. Had he been a different sort of man, these unsightly fruits of his labours might have led him to doubt the soundness of his faith, or suspect that his creed did not altogether tally with the doctrine that is according to godliness. But from him it could not be expected.
Another testimony of no small weight in this case, and which must not be here omitted, is that of the celebrated ERASMUS, one of the greatest luminaries and most eminent characters of that age, who has been reckoned among the principal authors of the reformation as well as restorers of literature. Let us listen then to his evidence on this subject : “What an evangelical generation is this? Nothing was ever seen more licentious and nore seditious. Nothing is less evangelical than these pretended gospellers. + Take notice of this evangelica people, and shew me an individual amongst them all who from being a drunkard has become sober, from be
* Calv. I. vi. de scand. quoted by Milner, as before. + Erasm. Ep. 1. vi, 4.-It appears by the mode of expression here used, that notwithstanding all the’unfavourable and unchristianlike effeets of their ministry, they actually did, like some modern labourers in the same vineyard, boldly arrogate to themselves the ex. clusive name of evangelical ministers, or propagators of the genuins and pure gospel.
ing a libertine has become chaste. I, on the other hand, can shew you many who have become worse by the change. Those whom I once knew to have been chaste, sincere, and without fraud, I found, after they had embraced this sect, to be licentious in their conversation, gamblers, neglectful of prayer, passionate, vain, as spiteful as serpents, and lost to the feelings of human nature. I speak from experience." I
Upon the whole, it seems impossible to evade the force of this evidence, or deny that vice and immorality increased where protestantism prevailed, and, consequently, that there must have been some radical and essential defect in that system from the very first : so that it must be the very height of folly, absurdity, and arrogance in our present pretended evangelical demagogues to attempt to hold it up to the people as a standard of unadulterated truth and model of christian perfection. It is remarkable enough that these good people, almost to a man, are very loud in their reprobation of the French revolution, although it might easily be proved that that same revolution was nearly, if not quite as honourable in its origin, and respectable in its progress as that which was excited and conducted by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and their coadjutors, and which they seem so much to admire, and so ready to commend and justify. While reprobating the Gallic revolution on account of the licentiousness and crimes it produced, they are not aware how much the protestant revolution is liable to the same imputation.
Erasm, ad. Frat. Infer. Germ. quoted by Milner, as before, p. 172.
Section II. The former subject continued, with oce casional and brief remarks.
There does not seem on any point a greater difference of opinion between the admirers of the reformation and their opponents than that which relates to the real cha, racter of the reformers. Volumes have been written on both sides of the question: one party extolling them to the skies, as if they had been all perfect beings or angels of light, and the other degrading them to the lowest point, as if they had been no better than so many demons. Too much, no doubt, has been said both for and against them. We must not believe them to be quite so bad as some catholic writers have represented them; nor yet, on the other hand, altogether so good and perfect as they have been described by the generality of our protestant authors. What is unfounded on either side we wish to explode; but some apparently well established facts relating to the reformers, and not generally known among protestants, ought not here to be passed over unnoticed, as they are well calculated to correct the reader's ideas, both as to the reformers and the reformation.
As to Luther, it seems to be the common opinion among protestants that he was convinced of the er. rors and corruptions of the church of Rome, and, of course, decidedly hostile to them before the appearance of Tetzel with his indulgences. But this opinion appears to be untenable.
It is more likely that he had thought nothing about the said errors and corruptions