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CENT. JOHN of. Salisbury, a man of great learning and
,, true genius, whose philosophical and theological
knowledge was adorned with a lively wit and a flowing eloquence, as appears in his Metalogicus, and his book De nugis Curialium ;
PETRUS COMESTOR, author of An Abridgement of the Old and New Testament, which was used in the schools for the instruction of the youth, and called probably from thence, Historia Scholastica.
A more ample account of the names and characters of the Latin writers may be found in those authors who have professedly treated that branch of literature.
CH A P. III.
Concerning the Doctrine of the Christian church in
Christianity I. VITHEN we consider the multitude of corrupted
causes which united their influence in more and
obscuring the lustre of genuine Christianity, and corrupting it by a profane mixture of the inventions of superstitious and designing men with its pure and sublime doctrines, it will appear surprising, that the religion of Jesus was not totally extinguished. All orders contributed, though in different ways, to corrupt the native purity of true religion. The Roman pontifs led the way ; they would not suffer any doctrines that had the smallest tendency to diminish their despotic authority; but obliged the public teachers to interpret the precepts of Christianity in such a manner, as to render them subservient to the support of papal dominion and tyranny, This order was so much the more terrible, in that such as refused to comply with it, and to force the words of
XII. , W PARTU.
scripture into significations totally opposite to the c ENT intention of its divine author, such, in a word, aset had the courage to place the authority of the word gospel above that of the Roman pontifs, and to consider it as the supreme rule of their conduct, were answered with the formidable arguments of fire and sword, and received death in the most cruel forms, as the fruit of their sincerity and resolution. The priests and monks contributed, in their way, to disfigure the beautiful simplicity of religion; and, finding it their interest to keep the people in the grossest ignorance and darkness, dazzled their feeble eyes with the ludicrous pomp of a gaudy worship, and led them to place the whole of religion in vain ceremonies, bodily austerities and exercises, and particularly in a blind and stupid veneration for the clergy. The scholastic doctors, who considered the decisions of the ancients, and the precepts of the Dialecticians as the great rule and criterion of truth, instead of explaining the doctrines of the gospel, , mined them by degrees, and sunk divine truth under the ruins of a captious philosophy; while the Mystics; running into the opposite extreme, maintained, that the souls of the truly pious were incapable of any spontaneous motions, and could only be moved by a divine impulse ; and thus, not only set limits to the pretensions of reason, but excluded it entirely from religion and morality ; nay, in some measure, denied its very existence.
II. The consequences of all this were super-Superstistition and ignorance, which were substituted in tion reigns the place of true religion, and reigned over the multitude multitude with an universal sway. Relics, which were for the most part fictitious, or at least uncertain, attracted more powerfully the confidence of the people, than the merits of Christ, and were supposed by many to be more effectual, than the prayers offered to heaven, through the media· Vol. III.
CENT. tion and intercession of that divine Redeemer pt.
1. The opulent, whose circumstances enabled them
either to erect new temples, or to repair and embellish the old, were looked upon as the happiest of all mortals, and were considered as the most intimate friends of the Most High. While they, whom poverty rendered incapable of such pompous acts of liberality, contributed to the multiplication of religious edifices by their bodily labours, cheerfully performed the services that beasts of burden are usually employed in, such. as carrying stones and drawing waggons, and expected to obtain eternal salvation by these yolunu tary and painful efforts of misguided zeal . The-saints had a greater number of worshippers, than the Supreme Being and the Saviour of mankind; nor did these superstitious worshippers, trouble their heads about that knotty question, which occasioned much debate and many laborious disquisitions in succeeding times, viz. Hora the inhabitants of heaven came to the knowledge of the prayers and supplications that were addressed to them from the earth? This question was prevented in this century by an opinion, which the Christians had received from their Pagan ances-tors, that the inhabitants of heaven descended often from above, and frequented the places in which they had formerly taken pleasure during their residence upon earth [r]. To finish the horrid
[o] See GUIBERT DE NOVIGENTO, De pignoribus (so were relics called) sanctorum, in his Works published by DACHERIUS, P. 327, where he attacks, with judgment and dexterity, the superstition of these miserable times. '
 See HAYMON'S Treatise concerning this custom, pubTished by MABILLON, at the end of the sixth tome of his Annal. Benedict. See also these Annals, p. 392.
[r] As a proof that this assertion is not without foundation, we shall transcribe the following remarkable passage of the Life of St ALTMAN, bishop of PADYA, as it stands in SEB. TENG
portrait of superstition, we shall only observe, that C B N T the stupid credulity of the people in this century went so far, that when any person, either through the frenzy of a disordered imagination, or with a design to deceive, published the dreams or visions, which they fancied, or pretended they had from above, the multitude resorted to the new oracle, and respected its decisions as the com. mands of God, who in this way, was pleaser, as they imagined, to communicate counsel, instruction, and the knowledge of his will to men. This appears, to mention no other examples, from the extraordinary reputation which the two famous prophetesses HILDEGARD abbess of Bingen, and ELISABETH of Schonauge, obtained in Germany [s]. Ill. This universal reign of ignorance and su. The scana
4 dalous traf perstition was dexterously, yet basely improved, fic of indulby the rulers of the church, to fill their coffers, gences be
'gun by the and to drain the purses of the deluded multitude. Bishops. And, indeed, all the various ranks and orders of the clergy had each their peculiar method of fleecing the people. - The bishops, when they wanted money for their private pleasures, or for the exigencies of the church, granted to their flock the power of purchasing the remission of the penalties imposed upon transgressors, by a sum of money, which was 'to be applied to certain religious purposes, or, in other words, they published indulgences, which became an inexhaustible source of opulence to the episcopal orders, and
NAGL's Cabeci. Vet. Monumentor. p.41. “ Vos licet, sancti Domini, somno vestro requiescatis ... haud tamen crediderim, spiritus vestros deesse locis quæ viventes tanta devotione cogn struxistis, et dilexistís. Credo vos adesse, cunctis illic degenti. bus, astare videlicet orantibus, succurrere laborantibus, et vota singulorum in conspectu divinæ majestatis promovere.
[s] See MABILLON, Annales Benedict. Lott. vi. p. 438,*$29: $54.
CE N T.enabled them, as is well known, to form and
Il execute the most difficult schemes for the enlargement of their authority, and to erect a multitude of sacred edifices, which augmented considerably the external pomp and splendour of the church [t]. The abbots and monks, who were not qualified to grant indulgences, had recourse to other methods of enriching their convents. They carried about the country the carcasses and relics of the saints in solemn procession, and permitted the multitude to behold, touch, and embrace these sacred and lucrative remains at certain fixed prices. The monastic orders gained often as much by this raree-show, as the bishops did by
their indulgences [u]. And after
.. IV. When the Roman pontifs cast an eye upon wards mo- the immense treasures that the inferior rulers of nopolized the church were accumulating by the sale of inby the Roc man pon- dulgences, they thought proper to limit the power
of the bishops in remitting the penalties imposed upon transgressors, and assumed, almost entirely, this profitable traffic to themselves. In consequence of this new measure, the court of Rome became the general magazine of indulgences, and the pontifs, when either the wants of the church, the emptiness of their coffers, or the demon of avarice, prompted them to look out for new subsidies, published, not only an universal, but also a complete, or what they called a plenary
[t] STEPHANUS, Obazinensis in BALUZII Miscellan. tom. iv. p. 130.--MABILLON, Annal. Benedict. tom. vi. p. 535, &c.
[u] We find in the records of this century innumerable examples of this method of extorting contributions from the multitude. See the Chronicon. Cenrulense in DACHERII Spicilegio Veter. Scriptor, tom. ii. p. 354.–Vita Stæ Romanæ, ibid. p. 137.--MABILLON, Annal. Benedici. tom. vi. p. 342. 644. Acta Sanctor. Mensis Maii, tom. vii. p. 533. where we have an account of a long journey made by the relics of St Mauculus, -MABILLON, Acta Sanctor. Ord. Benedici. tom. vi. p. 519. $20. and tom. ï. p. 732.