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cial remark, because it amounts to a direct impeach-
which is the most glaring, its impious interference with the sole office of Christ, its peril to the sinner, or its gross inconsistency with the truth of the Gospel system. Our author proceeds as follows:
- Another abuse was the forced penances. I find some of these in Spain from the seventh century. Afterward the bishops, seeing many sinners who did not come to submit themselves to penance, complained in the Parliaments, and besought the princes to constrain them by their temporal power. But this showed a great ignorance of the nature of penitence, which consists in repentance, and in the conversion of the heart; it was putting the sinner, who, in order to prevent divine justice, punishes himself voluntarily, in the same class with the crimi. nal, whom human justice punishes in spite of himself.”—(App.,
Speaking of the official course of Pope Gregory
" The worst evil was that he sought to sustain spiritual pun-
"Let us see now the consequences of these principles. Suppose a prince to be unworthy and accused of crimes, like Henry IV., king of Germany. ... He is cited to Rome, to render account of his conduct, and does not appear. After several citations, the pope excommunicates him : he despises the censure. The pope declares him deposed from royalty, absolves his subjects from their oath of allegiance, forbids them to obey him, and permits, or even orders them, to elect another king. What must
be the result ? Seditions and civil wars in the State, and schisms in the Church."-(App., Note 193.)
“ Let us return, then, to the maxims of sage antiquity. A sovereign may be excommunicated like a private man, I grant it, but.... the results should only be spiritual. ... It was never pretended, at least in the most enlightened ages of the Church, that a private man, excommunicated, lost the ownership of his property, or of his slaves, or the power of a parent over his children. Jesus Christ, in establishing His Gospel, did nothing by force, but all by persuasion, according to the remark of St. Augustin. He has said that His kingdom was not of this world, and he was not willing even to assume the authority of arbiter between two brothers. ... His apostles and their successors followed the same plan. ... It was not till after more than a thousand years that they undertook to form a new system, and to exalt the chief of the Church into a sovereigo monarch even with respect to the mporal power.”—(App., Note 194.)
Gregory VII.,” continues our candid historian, " allowed himself to be drawn into the error already favored, that God is bound to make His justice shine forth in the present life. From this it was that in his letters he promises temporal prosperity to those who should be faithful to St. Peter, besides the expectation of eternal life; and threatens the rebels with the loss of both the one and the other.... But God does not work mira. cles at the will of men, and it appears that He designed to confound the rashness of this prophecy.... Far from correcting King Henry, the pope only gives him occasion to commit new crimes; he excites cruel wars, which throw Germany and Italy into flames; he brings a schism into the Church ; they besiege himself in Rome; he is obliged to fly, and finally dies in exile at Salerno.”—(App., Note 195.)
Now here I pray the reader to observe the argument of Fleury against the new system of tyrannical compulsion adopted by the papacy in reference to the deposition of kings who had incurred excommunication. He declares rightly that our Lord and Saviour “ did nothing by force, but all by persuasion,” quoting St. Augustin. But it is manifest that his argument applies with far greater emphasis to the monstrous abuse of auricular confession; for, up to the thirteenth century, Christians, once admitted to the communion of the Church, could not be deprived of it, unless they were convicted, on competent testimony, of gross sins, whereby their brethren were justly offended. Then, in the arrogance of priestly despotism, the fourth Council of Lateran commanded every believer, without exception, to confess his very thoughts in private, and to perform whatever penance the confessor might enjoin, under the penalty of public infamy; being prohibited from entering the Church while living, and denied Christian burial after death: that is to say, they established a perfectly new kind of sin, unknown before, and entirely unauthorized, and placed it in the same rank with the deadliest of. fenses, and punished it in a similar manner by a sentence almost equivalent to the greater excommunication! Here was force applied to every one, male and female, grinding all into the dust under the feet of the priesthood. What was an occasional outbreak of hostility between a pope and a king, in comparison with this sweeping and universal tyranny, exercised by a constant and perpetual system, over every heart and conscience in Christendom ! To have been consistent with his own principles, therefore, Fleury ought to have denounced the Confessional as a yet more grievous usurpation than the papal claim to depose rebellious princes. But his candor on the latter subject was safe in France, where the assumption of temporal power by the popes had usually been successfully resisted. Whereas an equal degree of candor on the other would have struck at the power of the priesthood, and therefore his thoughts upon the subject could not be so openly proclaimed, although he has intimated them in many places pretty clearly.
But let me return to our author, and hear him on the subject of the general decline of spiritual disci.
pline which followed the papal indulgences first grant. ed in the Crusades.
« Of all the results of the Crusades," saith he," the most important to religion has been the cessation of the canonical penitences. I say the cessation, and not the abrogation; for they have never been abolished expressly by the Constitution of any. pope, or of any Council. ... I have seen nothing similar in the whole course of history. The canonical penances fell insensibly through the weakness of the bishops and the hardness of sinners, through negligence, through ignorance ; but they received the mortal blow, as I may say, through the indulgences of the Crusade."-(App., Note 196.)
The learned historian goes on to explain himself in the following interesting passage :
" I know," saith he, “ that this was not the intention of Pope Urban and the Council of Clermont. They expected, on the contrary, to obtain two benefits at once : to deliver the Holy Land, and facilitate penitence to an infinity of sinners, who would never have undertaken it otherwise.... But it is to be feared that they had not sufficiently considered the solid reasons of the ancient canons which had regulated the times and the exercises of penitence. The saints who had established them had it not only in view to punish sinners, they sought chiefly to be assured of their conversion, and wished, besides, to warn them against falling again. They began, therefore, by separating them from the rest of the faithful, and they kept them thus shut up during the whole time of their penitence, oxcept when they had to assist in church at the common prayers and instructions. Thus they kept away the occasions of sin ; and the recollection of this retreat gave to penitents the leisure and opportunity to make serious reflections on the enormity of sin, the rigor of the divine justice, eternal punishment, and the other terrible truths which the priests who had charge of them failed not to set before them, in order to excite in them the spirit of compunction. Afterward they comforted them, they encouraged them, and they confirmed them by degrees in the resolution to renounce sin forever, and lead a new life.” —(App., Note 197.)
" It was not till the eighth century that they introduced pilgrimages to take the place of satisfaction; and these began to ruin penitence by distractions and occasions of relapse. Still,
however, these individual pilgrimages were much less dangerous than the Crusades.”—(App., Note 198.)
" It was, so to speak, sinners all raw, who, without conversion of heart, and without previous preparation, unless, perhaps, a confession such as it was, went, for the expiation of their sins, to expose themselves to the most dangerous occasions for committing them anew. Men chosen from persons of the most approved virtue would have found it difficult to preserve themselves in such voyages. It is true that some of them prepared themselves seriously for death, by paying their debts, restoring property wrongfully acquired, and satisfying all those whom they had injured; but it must be also acknowledged that the Crusade served as a pretext for men oppressed by debt to get rid of their creditors, for malefactors to avoid the punishment of their crimes, for unruly monks to quit their cloisters, for abandoned women to continue their disorders more freely, since inany of them were found in the train of these armies, and some of them disguised as men.”—(App., Note 199.)
· The Crusaders, who established themselves in the East after the conquest of Jerusalem, far from being converted, corrupted themselves more and more.
."—(App., Note 200.) “At length,” continues Fleury, “Jerusalem and the Holy Land fell again into the power of the infidels, and the Crusades have ceased for four hundred years ; but the canonical penitences have not returned. While the Crusades continued, they took the place of penitence, not only for those who assumed the cross voluntarily, but for all great sinners, to whom the bishops would give absolution only on condition that they would perform in person the service of the Holy Land during a certain time, or would maintain for that purpose a number of soldiers. It seemed, then, that, after the end of the Crusades, they ought to have returned to the ancient penitences; but the use of them was interrupted for two hundred years at least, and the penitences had become arbitrary. The bishops scarcely any longer entered into the details of sacramental administration ; the mendicant friars were the most ordinary ministers of the sacraments, and these transient missionaries could not follow long enough the conduct of a penitent to examine the progress and solidity of his conversion, as the proper pastors had formerly done : these monks were obliged to dispatch sinners promptly in order to pass to others.”—(App., Note 201.)
From the mischiefs consequent upon the Crusades,