Page images
PDF
EPUB

Europe at his feet, and to banish Christianity from the earth.

Having pitched his tent before the walls of Vienna, he sent three Christian prisoners into the town, to terrify the citizens with an account of the strength of his army, while a great many more whom he had taken in his march were torn asunder by horses. Happily for the Germans, three days only before the arrival of the Turks, the earl palatine, Frederic, to whom was assigned the defence of Vienna, had entered the town with 14,000 chosen veterans, besides a body of horse. Solyman sent a summons for the city to surrender; but the Germans defying him, he instantly cominenced the . siege. It has before been observed, that the religion of Mahomet promises to all soldiers who die in battle, whatever be their crimes, admission into paradise. Hence arises that fury and temerity which they usually display in fighting. They began with a most tremendous cannonade, and made many attempts to take the city by assault. But the steady valour of the Germans was superior to the enthusiasm of their enemies. Soly. man, filled with indignation at this unusual check to his fortune, determined to exert every power to carry his project. To this end he planted his ordinance before the king's gate, and battered it with such violence that a breach was soon made ; whereupon the Turks, under cover of the smoke, poured in torrents into the city, and the soldiers began to give up all for lost. But the officers, with admirable presence of mind, causing a great shouting to be made in the city, as if fresh troops had just arrived, their own soldiers were inspired with fresh courage, while the Turks, being seized with a panic, fled precipitately, and overthrew each other; by which means the city was freed from destruction.

Grown more desperate by resistance, Solyman resolved upon another attempt, and this was by undermining the Corinthian gate. Accordingly, he set his Illyrians at work, who were expert at this kind of warfare. They succeeded in coming under ground to the

foundations of the tower; but being discovered by the wary citizens, they, with amazing activity and diligence, countermined them; and having prepared a train of gunpowder, even to the trenches of the enemy, they set fire to it, and by that means rendered abortive their attempts, and blew up about 8000 of them. Foiled in every attempt, the courage of the Turkish chief degenerated into madness; he ordered his men to scale the walls, in which attempt they were destroyed by thousands, their very numbers serving to their own defeat; till, at length, the valour of his troops relaxed, and dreading the hardihood of their European adversaries, they began to refuse obedience. Sickness also seized their eamp, and numbers perished from famine ; for the Germans, by their vigilance, had found means to cut off their supplies. Frustrated-in all his designs, Solyman, after having lost above 80,000 men, resolved to abandon his enterprise ; and sending his baggage before him, proceeded homewards with the utmost expedition-thus freeing Europe from the impending terror of yniversal Mahometanism,

57. DOCTRINÈ ÓF ROMIŠA INDULGÊNCES. This doctrine of the Romish church proceeded upon the idea that all the good works of the saints, over and above those which were necessary towards their own justification, are deposited, together with the infinite merits of Christ, in one inexhaustible treasury; the keys of which were committed to St. Peter, and his successors, the popes, who may open it at pleasure ; and by transferring a portion of this superabundant merit to any person, for a sum of money, may convey to him a pardon of all his sins, past, present, and future; or a release of any of his friends from purgatory, who might be suffering its pains.

Pope Leo X., in order to carry on the magnificent strueture of St. Peter's, at Rome, published indulgences, and a plenary remission to all who should contribute money for this object. They were, in some parts,

farmed out to the highest bidders ; who, to make the best of their bargain, procured the most able preachers to cry up the value of their ware. The form of indulgences is as follows :-“ May our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon thee, and absolve thee by the merits of his most holy passion. And I, by his authority, that of his blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, and of the most holy pope, granted and committed to me in these parts, do absolve thee, first, from all ecclesiastical censures, in whatever manner they have been incurred; then, from all thy sins, transgressions, and excesses, how cnormous soever they may be, even from such as are reserved from the cognizance of the holy see, and as far as the keys of the holy church extend. I remit to you all punishment which you deserve in purgatory on their account; and I restore you to the holy sacraments of the church, to the unity of the faithful, and to that innocence and purity which you possessed at baptism; so that when you die, the gates of punishment shall be shut, and the gates of the paradise of delight shall be opened ; and if you die not at present, this grace shall remain in full force when you are at the point of death in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'

The prices of them were various, according to the character, ability, and crimes of the purchasers. For instance, if a man take a false oath, to be pardoned he must pay nine shillings; for robbing, twelve shillings ; for murdering a layman, seven shillings and sixpence ; for laying violent hands on a clergyman, ten shillings and sixpence, &c. &c.

In 1517, the sale of these indulgences was intrusted to one John Tetzel, who boasted that she had saved more souls from hell, by his indulgences, than St. Peter had converted to Christianity by his preaching." He could assure a child who might fear his father was unhappy in another world, “ that the moment the money tinkled in the chest his father's soul would mount up from purgatory !"

A certain nobleman, thinking there was some imposi

tion in the case, put this question to him, “Can you grant absolution for a sin, which a man shall intend to commit in future?”—“Yes," replied he, “ provided the proper sum of money be paid down.” This being done, he received from Tetzel a certificate, absolving him from the crime he intended to commit; which he did not divulge at that time.

Not long after this, Tetzel left the place, with his chest of money. This nobleman concealed himself on the road, and when Tetzel appeared he rushed forth, attacked, robbed, and beat him soundly with a stiek, and sent him back with an empty chest; at the same time producing the very certificate to him which he had a short time previous given him, and told him he had done only what he intended to when he purchased it, and presumed he was, by virtue of that, free from the crime.

Since the reformation, the popes have been more sparing in the exercise of their power; though indulgences are still sold in India for two rials apiece. A gentleman not long since being in Naples, to ascertain fully the fact respecting them, attended the sale ; and, for two sequins, purchased a plenary remission of all his own sins, and for any two of his friends, whose names he was empowered to insert !

58. ENGLISH MARTYRS. QUEEN MARY ascended the throne of England in 1553. She was strongly bigoted to the popish religion, and during her reign (which was of about five years' continuance) she carried on a most bloody persecution against the protestants. It was computed that during this persecution two hundred and seventy-seven persons were burnt, besides those punished by imprisonment, fines, and confiscations. Among those who suffered by fire, were five bishops, twenty-one clergymen, eight lay gentlemen, eighty-four tradesmen, one hundred husbandmen, fifty-five women, and four children.

Rogers, prebendary of St. Paul's, and Hooper, bishop

of Gloucester, were the first martyrs. Saunders and Taylor, two other clergymen, whose zeal had been distinguished in carrying on the reformation, were the next that suffered. “ Bonner, bishop of London, bloated at once with rage and luxury, let loose his vengeance without restraint, and seemed to take a pleasure in the pains of the unhappy sufferers; while the queen, by her letters, exhorted him to pursue the pious work without pity or interruption. Soon after, in obedience to her commands, Ridley, bishop of London, and the venerabie Latimer, bishop of Worcester, were condemned together. Ridley had been one of the ablest champions for the reformation ; his piety, learning, and solidity of judgment, were admired by his friends, and dreaded by his enemies. The night before his execution he invited the mayor of Oxford and his wife to see him ; and when he beheld them melted into tears, he himself appeared quite unmoved, inwardly supported and comforted in that hour of agony.

When he was brought to the stake to be burnt, he found his old friend Latimer there before him. Of all the prelates of that age, Latimer was the most remarkable for his unaffected piety and the simplicity of his manners.

He had never learned to flatter in courts ; and his open rebuke was dreaded by all the great, who at that time too much deserved it. His sermons, which remain to this day, show that he had much learning and much wit; and there is an air of sincerity running through them, not to be found elsewhere. When Ridley began to comfort his ancient friend, Latimer on his part was as ready to return his kind office. “ Be of good cheer, brother,” cried he, “ we shall this day kindle such a torch in England, as I trust in God shall never be extinguished.” A furious bigot ascended to preach to them and the people while the fire was preparing; and Ridley gave a most serious attention to his discourse. No way distracted by the preparations about him, he heard him to the last; and then told him, that he was ready to answer to all that he had preached upon, if he were permitted a short indulgence, but this was refused him. At

« PreviousContinue »