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whole, it may be doubted whether Christianity owes more to the grave confutations of Clemens Alexandrinus, Arnobius, and Justin Martyr, or to the facetious wit of Lucian.'
To enter at present upon any other parts of the vast subject which we have merely opened would be incompatible with our limits; there are twenty, each of which might be richly deserving of a separate discussion from abler hands than ours. But in the meantime we would hope that what we have said may stimulate the industry of some person possessing the accomplishments and the leisure which such a task demands; and we venture to suggest to Dr. Bruce, whose ingenious tract on the age of Homer, recently published at Belfast, has not as yet received the notice it merits, that an essay equally comprehensive in purpose, and not quite so condensed in style and execution, on The Age of Lucian, would be worthy of his utmost exertions, and in a high degree interesting, as well as instructive, to all readers whose favour an author of his acquirements is likely to covet.
Art. III.—History of the Progress and Suppression of the Re
formation in Italy, in the Sixteenth Century; including a Sketch of the History of the Reformation in the Grisons.
By Thomas M'Crie, D.D. 8vo. Edinburgh. 1827. IT has been often asked, with an air of triumph, by the Roman
Catholics, where was the religion of Protestants before Luther? And it has been as often replied, in the Bible. But though this answer was enough, another might have been given, and one, perhaps, more to the purpose.
Differing, as we do, from Milner, in his Church History, on very many points, in this we concur with him—that from the time when Christianity was first planted, there has ever been in existence a body of men, obscure, perhaps, as the seven thousand in Israel, to whom the name of the True Church more especially belonged ; and who, amidst the corruptions, the discouragements, and the dangers of a world with which they had but little in common, and which was not worthy of them, pursued their pure course in privacy.
It is not easy, indeed, to get with accuracy at the state of religious opinion, where it differed from the church of Rome, before the Reformation. Then it was that the strings of the tongue were thoroughly loosed, and many sentiments, which, though in being, had been nearly without witness, first found a free utterance. It has been the boast of that church, that for many previous centuries she was at union with herself, and that
divisions and dissent were not known within her borders. The boast, like many others from the same quarter, requires qualification, as Bishop Jewel has abundantly proved; but allowing it to be founded in truth, what could be more natural, than that
when the strong man, armed, kept the house, his goods should be at peace'?—and who has ever heard of Whigs, Tories, or Radicals in Turkey? Yet it would be contrary to all experience to believe that such a revolution in the world as Luther effected could have been wrought by one private individual, without the aid of powerful predisposing causes. It is not usual with men who are more than half a century in advance of their generation, to make any great and permanent change in its character-Luther happened to be the first to put the world into the waters, after the angel had sufficiently troubled them.
But some hundred years before the reformer was born, (perhaps, in one instance, from the earliest ages of Christianity,) there had been communities of men to be found, in the south of France, in England, in the valleys of the Alps, in Calabria, in Bohemia, perhaps in Spain itself, who held doctrines essentially the same as those afterwards established at the Reformation, and by means of whom the leaven could not fail to be propagated in some degree throughout Europe: for it is a mistake to suppose that the familiar intercourse of nations is a thing of modern growth, and that turnpike-roads and mail-coaches, canals and steam-boats, are the only methods by which we can bring together distant lands, dissociabiles terras. Commerce undoubtedly does great things in this way now, but so did it heretofore by other ways; and it may even be doubted whether the custom of resorting in person to the great fairs holden in various parts of Europe, lasting for eighteen or twenty days, and whilst they lasted giving to an uninclosed waste the appearance of a populous and well-ordered city; it may be doubted, we say, whether these points of annual concourse did not bring together a much greater number of foreigners, (limited as trade then was,) than can be seen upon all the exchanges of a country at this day, when the safe and rapid transmission of letters, and the universal institution of banks, have rendered any closer communication among merchants for the most part unnecessary. Then the traffic in the wooden saint, in the rosaries that had hung about the neck of the famous Virgin of the spot, or in the girdles that had encircled her waist, (whoever has seen the stalls of a Roman catholic fair in our own times will well believe that such' hallowed trinkets, which brought a benediction to the buyer,' would not be wanting,) might chance to be the occasion of some casual confession of faith in the parties who dealt or refused to deal, and thus might they, perhaps, teach and learn some scriptural
heresy, whilst, like children, they were playing in the marketplace.
But whatever commerce might do to promote an intercourse amongst the different states of Europe, pilgrimage did more the more distant the object of devotion, the greater was the merit in visiting it; and every country took care to be provided with a source of gain so simple and commodious.—Many were the bones left to whiten on their road to St. James of Compostello, or our Lady of Walsingham. The wife of Bath
• Thries hadde ben at Jerusaleme,
In Galice, at Seint James, and at Coloine.' Indeed, so common appears to have been the practice amongst our own countrymen of visiting Rome, that the name of that holy city has, perhaps, furnished us with our most familiar term to express wandering to a distance. The Eternal City was long the political capital of the world, and was then frequented by the nations as the seat of arts, of arms, and of lucrative employment. She was now the religious capital of the world, and frequented, with perhaps equal zeal, as the seat of the true faith, and the fountain of ecclesiastical preferment.
Like Jerusalem at the feasts, it was the resort of persons dwelling in every region under heaven, and a certain circulation of ideas was by this means established throughout the whole of Christendom. The spirit in which those religious rambles were undertaken, and the motley character of the pilgrims brought together, are well seen in the Canterbury Tales, or the humorous Peregrinatio of Erasmus ; and all that curiosity could extract or loquaciousness impart, would not fail to come out by the
way. Nor was this all—under various pretences, the
claimed a right to present to benefices even in countries beyond the Alps; and Italian priests, who would naturally maintain a correspondence with their friends at home, were everywhere to be found. The universities of note, again, collected students from distant lands. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were so many English at the university of Ferrara, as to form a distinct and influential body in that learned society. An interchange of professors, moreover, which was constantly taking place, contributed to expedite the communication of thought and knowledge amongst those classes of men who were precisely the best fitted to speculate, and to impart their speculations to others; and Latin, being then an universal language, both among scholars and diplomatists, removed at once the obstacle to intercourse, which must have arisen out of a difference in vernacular tongues,
by providing a medium common to all. Freemasons, again, were a kind of nomade tribe, who journeyed on, and, like the patriarchs of old, marked their resting-places by setting up noble altars to their God; their very occupation must have rendered them conversant with religious matters, and the suspicion with which they were soon regarded, and which, in a measure, has descended to our own times, may possibly have had its origin in some heretical opinions they might be supposed to entertain and propagate. John of Gaunt, who patronised Wickliffe, patronised them. Minstrels were ever upon the stroll from abbey to abbey and from hamlet to hamlet, retailing their own adventures, or the wonders they might have heard, to the monks and villagers, who, like the Athenians, and for the same reason, were always right glad to hear some new thing,' though it should be (as it often was in the case of the monks) to their own prejudice : and mendicants by profession, often, no doubt, assuming the cowl, as they now do the sailor's jacket, rambled over a country in the spirit of Autolycus, in numbers of which we may judge from the multitudes executed in our own land after the dissolution of the monasteries, when they betook themselves to plunder for their bread,
These were some of the channels through which, in former times, province communicated with province, and nation with nation; and how effectually, may be guessed even from the vocabulary of our own tongue." We have often thought that it would be a subject of curious and most interesting inquiry, to trace the history of England, political, religious, and domestic, in its language, and in its language alone. We are persuaded that it might be done, and that upon such an investigation it would be found that our intercourse with Italy has been far greater than our vulgar annals, or even our literature itself, would lead us to conclude. Though our literature bespeaks it to have been considerable, and especially in its more popular department of ballads, plays founded upon ballads, and gossips' stories, the substance of which must have circulated chiefly 'per ora virûm,' from mouth to mouth; as now a favourite air creeps by degrees throughout Europe. The nature of that intercourse (the arts, the conveniences, the vices introduced by it) would be discovered in the class of Italian words we have naturalized. Independently of ecclesiastical and theological terms, (which would, of course, prevail,) from Italy we derive, in a great measure, our terms of war, of book-keeping, of cookery, of gambling, the names of some of our commonest sports and pastimes, (blind man's buff, for instance,) and very many of our strongest expressions of abuse, contempt, and abhorrence-these last the dregs, perhaps, of the camp of the crusaders.
Johnson, who is least happy in the etymological department of his dictionary, has not kept Italy sufficiently in sight, and has, consequently, sometimes embarrassed himself, (as in his miserable exposition of the word rubbish,') where an attention to this principle would have set him at ease. But we must hold our hand from a seductive subject, which we have been led incidentally to touch upon, whilst we have been endeavouring to show the communication which in ancient times subsisted between remote countries, and the facility with which opinions might be spread, and knowledge conveyed, throughout the civilized world.
Thus it was, we apprehend, that many of those religious truths, which the Reformation brought out, had been already dispersed, with more or less local success, over a great part of catholic Europe; and that Luther's province was, not to call into existence the spirit which shook the popedom to its foundations, but to call it into action.
Wickliffe, indeed, has been usually allowed to have been the forerunner of Huss, and Huss of Luther; but even Wickliffe seems to have been but the avowed representative of a very large portion of his countrymen, and the organ by which they spoke sentiments hitherto suppressed through dread of consequences. He neither believed in the supremacy of the pope, nor in transubstantiation, nor in the right of the clergy to monopolise the scriptures; yet so far were his doctrines from being offensive to the people, that when he was brought before the bishops, at Lambeth, they clamoured for his release—so far were his tenets from being unpopular, that persons holding them travelled from county to county, preaching them, not only in churches and churchyards, but in markets and fairs, to the great emblemishing (as it was said) of the Christian faith.' Knyghton, a contemporary historian, does not scruple to say, ' that you could not meet two people in the way, but one of them was a disciple of Wickliffe ;' and Wickliffe himself asserts that the third part of the clergy thought with him on the Lord's Supper, and would
defende that doctrine on paine of theyr lyfe.' Nor will this be matter of surprise, when it is recollected that some centuries before Wickliffe's translation of the New Testament, Saxon versions of portions of the Gospels at least had been made,
for the edification, as it is expressly said, of the simple, who know only this speech.' Spirits congenial to Wickliffe were already in Bohemia, where the effect of his writings was acknowledged by the severity with which they were suppressed. The Albigenses had been denounced by canons, preached at by St. Bernard, and tortured by St. Dominic, so early