Category Archives: Protestant Martyrs

Were The Wycliffites Seditious?

WycliffeYeamesLollards 01Wyclif Giving ‘The Poor Priests’ His Translation of the Bible

Some of the Catholics may tell you, that the followers of Wickliffe were a seditious people; that they threatened to overthrow the civil institutions of the country; that all law and order were set at defiance by them; and that this was the cause of their persecution. This is false in fact—it is historically false.

If the followers of Wickliffe, or Lollards, as they were called, were disturbers of the peace; if their lives were seditious, disorderly, and rebellious, why were they not indicted, under some statute of the realm, made and provided to take cognizance of such crimes? Why were they not even accused of such crimes? Was the meek, mild, and learned John Wickliffe, accused or indicted for disturbing the peace? Was it for disturbing the peace, that his venerable bones were disinterred thirty years after being deposited in the cold grave? Was it for disturbing the peace, and for riotous proceedings, his bones were subsequently burned, and their ashes thrown into the next river? Was it for disturbing the peace, the learned and brave Cobham was hung in iron chains, by the middle.

No such accusation has ever been brought against these great and good men, or against thousands who suffered with them. They were accused only of heresy. Papists were their accusers; Papists were their judges; and Papists were their executioners.

~William Hogan, Popery! As it Was and as it Is, Crusade Against the Albigenses

He Prayed God to Forgive His Enemies

The burning of Sir John Cobham, Lord Oldcastle, a Lollard an Wellcome V0041775
On the death of martyr Lord Cobham, a Wycliffite/Lollard, showing the difference between how the RCC treats its enemies and how Protestants respond to that treatment:

“On the day appointed,” says Bale, “he was brought out of the Tower with his arms bound behind him, having a very cheerful countenance. Then he was laid upon a hurdle as though he had been a most heinous traitor to the crown, and so drawn forth into St. Giles’s field, where they had set up a new gallows. When he arrived at the place of execution, and taken from the hurdle, he fell down devoutly on his knees, and prayed God to forgive his enemies. Then he stood up and beheld the multitude, exhorting them, in the most godly manner, to follow the laws of God, written in the Scriptures, and to beware of such teachers as they see contrary to Christ, in their conversation and living, with many other special councils. Then was he hanged up there, by the middle, in chains of iron, and so consumed alive in the fire, praising the name of the Lord, so long as life lasted. In the end he commended his soul into the hands of God, and so, most Christianly, departed home, his body being resolved to ashes.”

Thus was a nobleman, and a noble Christian, most barbarously put to death for believing that the Bible contained God’s truth; and therein differing from the Roman church, which teaches that the traditions of the fathers, and dreams of monks, are of equal authority.

~William Hogan, Popery! As it Was and as it Is, Crusade Against the Albigenses

The Religion of Rome

Thomas Rowlandson - Spanish Inquisition - Google Art Project

Charles Spurgeon:

WE WELCOME the publication of a volume entitled “The Religion of Rome.” It consists of letters published in a Roman Journal, which have been translated from the Italian, by Mr. William Howitt. In these times, when liberality is the only popular virtue, and zeal for truth the cardinal sin, it is worth much to let the public know assuredly that Popery is not the angel of light it professes to be. “Distance lends enchantment to the view;” but, to the rightminded, to see Romanism is to abhor it. It is a system which is as dangerous to human society, as it is hostile to true religion. We would by no means abridge the civil rights of a Catholic, or a Mormonite, but whether in any community the confessional or polygamy ought to be endured is not a question with us. The system of confession to priests is the sum of all villanies. Murphy1 was martyred for speaking the truth about the confessional, and in his person the liberty of public speech received a serious blow. The day will come in which that man’s name and fate will be looked upon in a different light, and many will regret that he was given over as a victim to Romish bigotry, when they feel that bigotry burdening themselves. We have seen with our own eyes2 that which would make the blood of any decent man boil within him. In the confessional boxes in Germany and Italy, anybody may see for himself, exhibited in the compartment allotted to the priest, a list of the sins concerning which the confessor is to enquire; these include crimes which we will not pollute our paper by mentioning; he must be a hardened profligate who would dare allude to them in the presence of a young girl. Not in the pages of a folio reserved for studious eyes did we read the degrading memoranda of which we speak, but in the confessional itself, where every passer-by may see them if he will. True, the document is in Latin; but, unfortunately, such words as abortio, sodomia, and the like, need no translation. But we dare not trust our hand to write more,—the superstition of Rome is the worst of all the evils which have befallen our race; may the Lord arise, and sweep it down to the hell from whence it arose.
 Mr. Howitt has seen Old Giant Pope at home, and marked for himself the monster’s baleful influence, even in times when advancing light tends to mitigate the evils of his reign. To his testimony we can add our own corroborating witness, and so, we believe, can every sojourner in Italy. He says—“Well may the people of Italy rejoice over the fall of this incubus of the ages! If anyone would satisfy himself of what Popery is at its centre; what it does where it has had its fullest sway, let him make a little tour, as we have lately done, into the mountains in the vicinity of Rome, and see in a country extremely beautiful by nature, what is the condition of an extremely industrious population. In the rock towns of the Alban, Sabine, and Volscian hills, you find a swarming throng of men, women, and children, asses, pigs, and hens, all grovelling in inconceivable filth, squalor, and poverty. Filth in the streets, in the houses, everywhere; fleas, fever, and smallpox, and the densest ignorance darkening minds of singular natural cleverness. A people brilliant in intellect, totally uneducated, and steeped in the grossest superstition.
 “These dens of dirt, disease, and, till lately, of brigandage, are the evidences of a thousand years of priestly government! They, and the country around them, are chiefly the property of the great princely and ducal families which sprang out of the papal nepotism of Rome, and have by successive popes, their founders, been loaded with the wealth of the nation. The pope-originated aristocratic families live in Rome, in their great palaces, amidst every luxury and splendour, surrounded by the finest works of art, and leave their tenants and dependents without any attention from them. Some steward or middleman screws the last soldo from them for rent; and when crops fail, as they did last year from drought, lifts not a finger to alleviate their misery.
 “And the Papal Government, too—a government pretendedly based on the direct ordination of Him who went about doing good—what has it done for them? Nothing but debauch their minds with idle ceremonies and unscriptural dogmas, lying legends, priests, monks, and beggary! The whole land is a land of beggars, made so by inculcated notions of a spurious charity. Every countrywoman, many men, and every child, boy or girl, are literally beggars—beggars importunate, unappeasable, irrepressible! What a condition of mind for a naturally noble and capable people to be reduced to by—a religion!
 “And is this the religion which so many of our educated countrymen and countrywomen, and still more signally the clergy, are so anxious to give us in exchange for the freedom and intelligence of Protestantism? What a stupid blunder, to say the least of it!”

 The letters which are translated for us in this volume, touch upon a wide range of subjects, and are written with great vigour and vivacity. It is a remarkable sign of the times that they should have appeared in a daily paper in the Eternal City itself. Here is a paragraph upon “Kissing the foot of the Pope”:—
 “Why does the pope cause his foot, or rather his slipper, to be kissed? When did this custom begin? We will give our readers a brief answer to these queries.
 “Theophilus Rainaldo and the Bollandist fathers, as well as other Roman Catholic authors, tell us a gallant story of Pope St. Leo I., called the Great, which, if it were true, might show the origin of the practice. They say that a young and very handsome devotee was admitted on Easter day, to kiss the hand of Pope St. Leo after the mass. The pope felt himself very much excited by this kiss, and remembering the words of the Saviour, ‘If thy hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee’ (Matt. v. 30), he at once cut off his hand. But as he was unable to perform mass with only one hand, the people were in a great rage. The pope therefore prayed to God to restore his hand, and God complied: his hand was again united to the stump. And to avoid such dilemmas in future, Leo ordered that thereafter no one should kiss his hand, but only his foot. A very little common sense is sufficient to make us understand that such was not the origin of this custom.
 “The first who invented this degrading act of kissing feet was that monster in human form, the Emperor Caligula. He, in his quality of Pontifex Maximus, ordered the people to kiss his foot. The other emperors refused such an act of base slavery. But Heliogabalus, as emperor and Pontifex Maximus, again introduced it. After that impious wretch, Heliogabalus, the custom fell into disuse; but the Christian emperors retaining some of the wicked fables given to the pagan emperors, permitted the kissing of the foot as a compliment on the presentation of petitions. We may cite a few instances. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon say that Fazius, Bishop of Tyre, in his petition to the emperor, said, ‘I supplicate, prostrate, at your immaculate divine feet.’ Bassianus, Bishop of Ephesus, says, ‘I prostrate myself at your feet.’ Eunomius, Bishop of Nicomedia, says, ‘I prostrate myself before the footsteps of your power.’ The Abbot Saba, says, ‘I have come to adore the footsteps of your piety.’ Procopius, in his ‘History of Mysteries,’ says that the Emperor Justinian, at the instigation of the proud Theodora, his wife, was the first amongst the Christian Emperors who ordered prostrations before himself and his wife, and the kissing of their feet.
 “The ecclesiastics, the bishops, and, finally, the popes, were not exempt from paying this homage to the emperors. The prelates of Syria held this language to the Emperor Justinian:—’The pope of holy memory, and the archbishop of ancient Rome, has come to your pious conversation, and has been honoured by your holy feet.’ Pope Gregory I., writing to Theodorus, the physician of the Emperor Maritius, in the year A.D. 593, said, ‘My tongue cannot sufficiently express the great benefits that I received from God Almighty, and from our great emperor, for which I can only love him and kiss his feet.’ In the year A.D. 681, Pope Agathon, sending his legates to the sixth council, writes to the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus:—’As prostrate in your presence, and embracing your feet, I implore you,’ etc. In the seventh century, therefore, not only did the popes not have their feet kissed, but they themselves were obliged to kiss those of the emperor. Becoming sovereigns of Rome, they soon began to adopt the same custom. Pope Eugenius II., who died in 827, was the first who made it the law to kiss the papal foot. From that time it was necessary to kneel before the popes. Gregory VII. ordered all princes to submit to this practice.
 “From what we have said, it is clear that the origin of feet kissing was entirely pagan and idolatrous. That this system is in total contradiction to the precepts of the Gospel would be a waste of words to assert. Jesus Christ was so far from desiring people to kiss his feet, that he set himself on one occasion to wash the feet of his disciples. These are the words of the Gospel: ‘He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.’
 “This act of Jesus Christ is in perfect keeping (John xiii. 4, 5) with all his precepts, with his inculcations of modesty, equality, humility, and with his condemnation of those who set themselves above others. Who would have said that a day would come in which those claiming to be his vicars should cause people to kiss their feet? How thoroughly has Catholicism borrowed from Paganism its idolatries? And with all this, with this so flagrant a violation of the religion of Christ, a herd of people go and press their lips on the slipper of the pope, as was done formerly to the Roman emperors, the pontifices maximi, that is to say, the priests of Jove. The comparison is sufficiently eloquent.”

 Very terrible is the chapter upon Excommunications and the Holy Office of the Inquisition: it is indeed sickening. The story of Rome’s bloody persecutions of all who differed from her, when told in the mildest manner, is yet a thing to chill the blood and make the flesh creep. Blessed be God she has such horrors no longer in her power; but if she had her fangs untrimmed as of old, it would not be long before her victims would be aware of it. We will give but a brief extract, referring to times of comparatively modern date.
 “The times changed, and being no longer able to burn the heretics and the excommunicated publicly, the holy office found means of putting them to death without the shedding of blood and for the glory of God, by means of walling-up and ovens.
 “The walling-up was of two kinds, the propria, and impropria, or complete and incomplete. By the first they punished dogmatists, by the second, the professors of witchcraft and sorcery. To punish the former they made a niche in a wall, where standing upright on his feet, they placed the condemned, binding him well to the wall with cords and chains, so that he could not move in the least. They then began to build from the feet to the knees, and every day they raised the wall a course, at the same time giving the prisoner to eat and to drink. When he died, and God knows with what agonies, the wall was built up. But dead or alive, it was closed in such a manner that no one could see where the niche had been and that a body remained there.
 “The incomplete walling-up, or enclosure, was made by sitting the condemned in a pit bound hand and foot, so that his head only was above ground. The pit was then filled up with quicklime, and moisture from the body soon acting on it, converted it into fire, and the miserable wretch was burnt alive with the most frightful torture.
 “As knowledge and civilization increased, and the people began to see through the impostures of the priests, they feared lest, spite of their secrecy, such atrocities might creep abroad amongst the corrupt sons of the age, and in order to retain the knowledge of these holy proceedings amongst a few, they dismissed the building-up, and adopted a plan more anticipative of the pains of hell, and this was by burning the condemned without flame, and without shedding of blood. They invented ovens, or furnaces, which being made red-hot, they lowered the condemned into them, bound hand and foot, and immediately closed over them the mouth of the furnace. This barbarous punishment was substituted for the burning pile, and in 1849, these furnaces at Rome were laid open to public view in the dungeons of the holy Roman Inquisition, near the great church of the Vatican, still containing the calcined bones.”

 The manufacture of relics would be a deeply interesting subject if some one behind the scenes would write upon it; and we need not despair of that desideratum, for many of the works of darkness have of late, by accident or otherwise, been brought to light. The following extracts will show that even in the depths of roguery which surround relic-making, there is yet a lower depth, and even counterfeits are counterfeited:—
 “A sudden and terrible blow has fallen on the popedom in the discovery of a most extensive manufacture and sale of false relics by the priest officials of the papal court. Before, however, stating the particulars of the illicit traffic in relics, it will be as well to take a view of what is the regular practice at the Vatican in regard to relics. It is well known that for ages the papacy has carried on a trade in relics, and that they abound in all parts of the world amongst Catholics, who put the most profound faith in them, and believe them possessed of wonderful supernatural power. These have all issued from the manufactory of the Vatican under authority of the successive popes, and many of them have been expressly blest by them. Notwithstanding that on this system they have two heads of St. Peter in Rome, as many as four, five, six, seven bodies of the same saint in different places, and as much wood of the true cross as would build a navy, these things do not in the least shake the faith of devotees. The priests say, that there being such things only makes the miracle the greater. The Vatican has for ages had a distinct department for the production and dissemination of relics, at the head of which is placed the Pope’s vicar. This vicar appoints a superintendent of relics, a Jesuit by-the-way, who pronounces to what saint the body about to be cut up into relics belongs, and these are prepared in the Vatican itself.
 “In the Roman daily paper, La Capitale, on the 6th of April, 1871, there appeared an announcement of the discovery in the papal archives of a judicial trial or investigation into a charge of an extensive manufacture of false relics by the official priests of the Lipsanotica, or relic department of the Vatican. The documents of this inquiry had by some means fallen into the hands of the Italians, since their forcible entry into Rome on the 20th September, 1870.
 “The publication of so astounding a fact was immediately declared by the papal journals to be a totally groundless and atrocious calumny. But unfortunately for this denial, immediately appeared one Guiseppe Colangeli, who had been the porter of the Lipsanotica at the time of this lucrative traffic, and had been charged, not only as an accomplice, but as one of the greatest offenders. He had been imprisoned on this charge in St. Angelo, condemned, and, as we shall see, as suddenly liberated and dismissed. He now came out, with a long and circumstantial letter in his own defence in the Capitale, thus putting the truth of this official process and of these records of it beyond all doubt. From the documents which have been published, and are on sale in Rome, and from Colangeli’s letter, we arrive at the facts, of which we proceed to give a brief résumé.
 “Besides Colangeli, two other laymen were accused as concerned in this unholy but most lucrative trade—Vincenzo Campodonico, chapletmaker, and Guiseppe Campodonico, maker of shrines for the false relics. Amongst the priests implicated were, the Rev. Dr. Guiseppe Gaggi, Jesuit and official of the Lipsanotica; Brother Benoit, also a Jesuit priest; the Abbot Spirito Rembert, a minorist priest; Norberto Constantine, and the Rev. Dr. Archangelo Scognamiglio, the custodian of the Lipsanotica, Bembo Nare, Don Antonio Anselmi, and Don Guiseppe Milani, priestly officers in the Lipsanotica, who, having access to the seals of the cardinal vicar, the head of the relic department, freely used them for authenticating these forged relics.
 “It appears that so far back as 1828 this trade was going on, and at that time Agostino Campodonico, the father of the present Campodonicos, was largely concerned in it. At the trial before the cardinal-vicar of the pope, Guiseppe Campodonico was known to be in the habit of making little shrines, or calendars, for the false relics, and that Vincenzo Campodonico supplied these with pieces of bones of sheep and hares, or of human bones, old and carious, taken from the catacombs, but such as were probably those of pagans, certainly not of saints and martyrs whose names they affixed to them. These bits of bones were fixed into little images of wax, professed to be the likenesses of the saints they had belonged to, and were secured to the backs of the shrines by threads of silk, and then by seals, purporting to be the seals of the papal office, and to bear the signature of the custodian of the Lipsanotica. Giuseppe Colangeli, the porter of the Lipsanotica, was represented to be the medium by which these lots of trumpery were conveyed to the Lipsanotica, and the necessary authentications of the custodian obtained, after which he carried them back to the Campodonicos, who dealt in them.
 “Enormous sums were given by English noblemen, and others, English ladies and gentlemen, by wealthy Spaniards, and Spanish ladies, by rich and religious Belgian dupes, and, in fact, the false relics were sent all over the Catholic world, and sold in the different monasteries and convents. Brother Benoit, the Jesuit, was a great agent in this traffic, and all parties were reaping a rich harvest from it. The custodian of the Lipsanotica, Dr. Archangelo Scognamiglio, defended himself by saying that Colangeli, being employed by him, in consequence of the large sale of genuine relics, that is, such relics as the Vatican calls genuine, to write out the authentications for his signature, wrote out twice as many as ordered, and appropriated half to his own use in this nefarious trade. To this shallow pretence, Colangeli, in his published letter, properly replied, that, had this been the case, the custodian would at once have noticed the extra number, and he assured the public that the custodian, with his assistants, Anselmi and Milani, were as deep in the business as any of the set.
 “The Jesuits play a prominent part in these transactions, as they do in most Catholic affairs. Father Gaggi, we are told, put the authenticating seal to the false relics, some of which were in shrines, and others in settings of gold or silver. Brother Benoit was the great wholesale dealer in them, and during the trial, with their usual cunning, the Jesuits took care that he could not be found. It was confidently believed that he was secreted in the head-quarters of the Jesuits at Lyons. No means whatever were taken by the pope, or his court, to make known the existence of this legion of forged relics, so that, so far as they were concerned, the thousands and tens of thousands of dupes might go on for ever worshipping the bones of sheep and hares, and carrying them to the sick in the hope of their being healed by them.
 “The exposure of this most scandalous manufacture of and traffic in the bones of sheep, hares, and old pagans, within the precincts of the Vatican, and by the spiritual officers of the pope himself, has produced a profound sensation throughout Christendom, and has invalidated the whole of the pretended holy relics in existence. The report of this trial, and the letter of Colangeli, are printed in a small book, and sold for two francs, little more than eighteen pence, and have been translated into German and other languages.3 In combination with the shock given to the popedom by the resistance to the dogma of infallibility, this exposure has gone far to shake the great papal imposture to its deepest foundations. What a religion must that be, which trading on the ignorance and superstition which it has itself created in such vile fetich wares as these, makes its impostures so gross and palpable, that its very priests, seeing all its impudent greed, themselves extend the base delusion on their own account.”

 Another subject may also interest the reader. At the further end of St. Peter’s, one may see what is said to be the chair of Peter. It is raised above a majestic altar, composed of fine marbles, and is supported by four gigantic figures. Angels hover all around, and above it is a field of transparent glass, coloured to represent light, and so to typify the presence of the Holy Spirit. Is this the chair of Peter or no? Common sense is quite able to give the answer, and her verdict is abundantly sustained by rumour and fact. The whole story of this blessed chair lies in a nut shell; here it is:—
 “Lady Morgan, in her work on Italy, in the fourth volume, relates a story about the famous chair of St. Peter, which is venerated in Rome with so much solemnity, which account we now give in her own words:—’The sacrilegious curiosity of the French, in their occupation of Rome, in the beginning of this century, overcame all obstacles, and would see the chair of St. Peter. They took off the precious case of gilt bronze, and laid open the relic. Through the dust they saw the traces of antiquity, and some figures cut in the wood, which resembled letters. The chair, being taken out and exposed to the light, after clearing away the cobwebs and dust, they made an exact copy of the inscription, which proved to be the well-known Mahometan confession of faith, ‘There is no God but God, and Mahomet is his prophet.’ It is supposed that this chair was one of a number of relics brought by the Crusaders from the East in times of ignorance.'”
 We have no desire to insist on the truth of the statement of Lady Morgan, which would make this out to be the chair of some devout Mahometan, instead of being that of St. Peter; but we do not think the reply made by the theologians to the English traveller was either serious or conclusive. The most telling reply is that which the theologians of Rome gave to demonstrate the impossibility of this chair having belonged to a Turk—namely, that the Turks do not use chairs. But the Roman theologians, if they knew the history and customs of the East, would know that the Orientals, though they do not use chairs in their houses, at least commonly, yet they use them in their mosques to preach from. Al Jannati, a famous Arab writer, relates that Mahomet caused a chair to be made by one Nakum, a Greek workman, to preach from; and says that upon this chair both Mahomet and all the Califs, his successors, preached; and, in imitation of this, there is in every mosque a chair to preach from. What wonder, then, if the chair of which Lady Morgan speaks should be one of these chairs taken by the Crusaders from some mosque? And this the more, that the sacred motto of the Mahometans is only found on sacred objects. For the rest, the testimony of Lady Morgan begets at least a doubt; therefore, let the Roman priests expose to view this famous chair without its covering of bronze, and then it will be seen whether Lady Morgan has erred, or has spoken the truth.
 The identity of this chair has been placed in doubt—or, rather, denied by the learned and pious Father Tillemont, the Benedictine, who says—“It is pretended that the episcopal chair of St. Peter is preserved in Rome, and Baronius says that it is of wood; but people who saw in 1666 that which was about to be solemnly placed in the church of St. Peter, asserted that it was of ivory, and that the sculpture upon it was antique, and of the third or fourth century, and that it represented the twelve labours of Hercules. How happens it, then, that Baronius and Tillemont are not in accordance? How can possibly be found on the same chair the twelve labours of Hercules and a profession of the Mahometan faith? These two things certainly cannot exist together, and especially in a chair of St. Peter. This is probably the truth of the matter. In the time of Cardinal Baronius, the chair was really one of the old curule chairs of ivory, and had upon it sculptured the twelve labours of Hercules. Cardinal Baronius caused Clement VIII. to observe that, if it was important to have in Rome the chair of St. Peter, it was still more important that the Protestants and the incredulous should not find in this an evident argument for the denial of its antiquity. A curule chair, with the labours of Hercules sculptured on it, was a thing incredible as a chair of St. Peter. The pope was convinced of this, and caused the chair to be changed, without any publicity, the public not being able to observe this change, since the chair was in a case of gilt copper. Into this case was put an old chair of wood, in the Gothic style, and this is the chair of wood of which Baronius speaks.
 “Sixty years later, Alexander VII. caused the famous altar of the cathedral to be erected, as described above; but when they were about to put the chair into the present case, it was remarked that the Gothic style did not exist in the time of St. Peter. Then they rejected the chair selected by Baronius, and wished to restore the former one; but here the labours of Hercules presented an equal obstacle. The warehouse of relics was then visited, and there they found an ancient chair brought from the East, by the Crusaders, and this was it which was put into the new case, and which is the one spoken of by Lady Morgan. So then the grand proof of the Roman clergy of St. Peter having been in Rome, is a chair from a Mahometan mosque!
 “Here we are reminded of the trial about the false relics! If they falsify even chairs, can you then believe in their bones? What reason had Pope Ganganelli, who suppressed the Jesuits, to exclaim, ‘If one put faith in all the relics that they exhibit in all countries, one must many times be persuaded that a saint had ten heads and ten arms!’ It was a pope who said this—that is, an infallible person—and not we only.”

 Essence of lies, and quintessence of blasphemy, as the religion of Rome is, it nevertheless fascinates a certain order of Protestants, of whom we fear it may be truly said that “they have received a strong delusion to believe a lie, that they may be damned.” Seeing that it is so, it becomes all who would preserve their fellow-immortals from destruction to be plain and earnest in their warnings. Not in a party-spirit, but for truth’s sake, our Protestantism must protest perpetually. Dignitaries of the papal confederacy are just now very prominent in benevolent movements, and we may be sure that they have ends to serve other than those which strike the public eye. A priest lives only for his church; he may profess to have other objects, but this is a mere blind. Our ancient enemies have small belief in our common sense if they imagine that we shall ever be able to trust them, after having so often beheld the depths of Jesuitical cunning and duplicity. The sooner we let certain Archbishops and Cardinals know that we are aware of their designs, and will in nothing co-operate with them, the better for us and our country. Of course, we shall be howled at as bigots, but we can afford to smile at that cry, when it comes from the church which invented the Inquisition. “No peace with Rome” is the motto of reason as well as of religion.
C. H. S.

NOTES
1. William Murphy, an anti-Catholic apologist and lecturer of the Victorian era, who was beaten into a coma by a pro-Catholic mob while giving a lecture in Cumberland in April 1871. Murphy died 13 months later, without ever regaining consciousness.
2. See Chapter 74 of the Autobiography for a more complete description of the confessional booth to which Spurgeon refers here.
3. Processo delle reliquie false. Rome, via de cessarini 76, Prezzo 2 lire.


Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/relrome.php

The Massacre of St. Bartholomew

Debat-Ponsan-matin-Louvre

Charles Spurgeon:

NOT until the day of universal restitution will the infamous atrocity perpetrated on the eve of St. Bartholomew, 1572, by the Roman Catholics on the unoffending Huguenots or Protestants of France, cease to be remembered with the most intense horror. The coolness of the proceedings which instigated such a carnage, and the devilish passions which led Catholic nobles and statesmen to burst the bounds of humanity by heading the massacre, make the event unparalleled in the history of gigantic crimes. There, is no shadow of doubt as to who the originators of the plot were. The Roman Catholics had conceived the bitterest hatred to the Huguenots, and were determined that the land should be rid of them. Catherine de Medicis, whose furious enmity to Protestantism made her an admirable mover in the dreadful design, controlled her son, Charles IX. sufficiently to make him a mere puppet in her hands. Admiral Coligny, one of the most prominent advisers of the King of Navarre, who was then at the head of the Huguenots, was invited to attend the Parisian court. Coligny was the especial object of the Catholics’ resentment, and an unsuccessful attempt was therefore made upon his life. The Queen-mother, finding that this part of her scheme had failed, represented to the king that the Huguenots were clamorous for revenge upon the nobles of the court for the attack upon Coligny. These representations had the effect of frightening the weak-minded king, who at once authorized the massacre of the offending Protestants.
 Our illustration represents the first attack of the murderous Catholics in the streets of Paris. Charles IX. is in the act of giving the first signal by firing a gun from the window of his palace. Coligny with his household was murdered, and his body thrown out to the mob. Everywhere the cry was heard, “Kill every man of them! Kill the Huguenots!” The streets were reeking with the blood of men, women, and children. Not an individual suspected of a leaning towards the Reformed religion was suffered to escape. While this scene was going on, the Protestants of Lyons, Rouen, and other cities, fell victims to the savage fury of the Catholics. The massacre was carefully planned so as to break out at the same hour in various cities and in their suburbs. By some it is supposed that at least 100,000 persons suffered death. The estimate given by Sully at 70,000, has, however, been adopted. It is pretty certain that at least 10,000 were destroyed in Paris alone, and this estimate does not include the 500 who belonged to the higher orders. It is said that “the roads were rendered almost impassable, from the corpses of men, women, and children,—a new and appalling barricade.”
 The monstrous deed received the high approval of the Pope and his Cardinals, and thanks were impiously made to Heaven for the distinguished favor that had been rendered to the Church. The then head of the English Church by law established (Queen Elizabeth) seemed to take the matter equally well; for we find her immediately afterwards receiving the French Ambassador, and accepting thankfully a love-letter from the Duke of Alençon; and, in a few months, standing at the font as godmother to the child of the murderous King of France.
 By the side of these facts we ought to place a few computations which will show that the unexampled outrage on St. Bartholomew’s Eve is only a part of a line of policy which the Church on the Seven Hills has carried out during the twelve hundred years of its existence. Mr. D. A. Doudney, the incumbent of Bedminster, near Bristol, recently mentioned at a public meeting that at least fifty millions have been put to death by the Romish Church. That estimate gives us the number of martyrs annually at 40,000, or more than 100 a day for the last twelve hundred years. Spain especially has had her share in the responsibility of this iniquity, for under forty-five Inquisition trials, between the years 1481 and 1808, 31,658 were burnt alive, 18,049 were burnt in effigy, and 225,214 were condemned to galleys or imprisonment. It must not be supposed that in consequence of the respectable appearance which Catholicism is now necessitated to put on that the nature of Popery is changed. It is, and from its organization must continue to be, ambitious of supremacy. Even the Times, which looks upon the proselytizing schemes of the Romanists with cynical indifference, believes that it is impossible not to recognize in the recent complaints of English priests and dignitaries “something of that perverse ambition which has always been the bane of Roman Catholicism. A purely religious power the Roman Catholic Church never has been, is not now, and it seems to have made up its mind that it never will be. Though it still embraces half Europe in its spiritual sway, it laments the loss of a few petty provinces in Italy with a bitterness far keener than that of the exiled dukes.” That this ever-increasing ambition will not rest satisfied until England shall bow before the Beast may be readily believed; and that all the efforts now being put forth to weaken the progress of Protestantism in this country have as their central object the humiliation of a liberty-loving people is too plain a fact to withstand. To obtain its ends Popery would not despise the most atrocious and abominable means. If our Savior’s words, “By their fruits shall ye know them,” have any significance whatever, they may be appropriately used in reference to this insidious Church. What have been the fruits of this fearful heresy during the period of its almost unlimited sway, but spiritual and political oppression as well as persecution in its grossest and most multifarious forms? Looking at the atrocities of this Church, one would feel tempted to question whether its character of being “Drunken with the blood of the saints” is not too mildly drawn. The only defense of God’s true Church is in God. By the constant preaching of his Word, and by the uplifting of the cross, we hope the day will come when no invectives will be required to denounce the gross imposture which has for so long a time “made the people to sin.”

Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/stbarts.php

The Inquisition

Charles Spurgeon:

Execution of the Rev. James Guthrie, Edinburgh 1661THE union of the church with the state renders persecution possible; and hitherto churches have not been slow to avail themselves of the secular arm that they might confound all dissent with arguments which come home to the bone and the flesh. All churches, when they lose the spirit of Christ, are very prone to persecute; but a horrible pre-eminence must be awarded to the scarlet harlot of the seven hills, for no church on earth except that of Rome has had a separate institution for hunting out and destroying heretics. Whether it may be traced to want of will or want of inclination on the part of other establishments, it is certain that the Popish Antichrist alone has been able to drink of the overflowing blood-cup filled by familiars and tormentors. Long pampered by the state, she came to be its lord and tyrant, using fire and sword, prison and rack, to work her accursed will. The Inquisition was the masterpiece of infernal craft and malice, and its deeds were far more worthy of fiends than men. If the church of Rome could at this moment change its Ethiopian skin for ever, lay aside its leopard’s spots, and become a pure community, ten thousand years of immaculate holiness and self-denying philanthropy could not avail to blot out the remembrance of the enormous crimes with which the Inquisition has loaded it. There is a deep and indelible sentence of damnation written upon the apostate church by avenging justice for its more than infernal cruelties, and the curse is registered in heaven; nor can any pretences to present liberality reverse the condemnation which outraged humanity has pronounced against it; its infamy is engraved in the rock for ever. Centuries of the most liberal policy would not convince mankind that Popery had become tolerant at heart; she wallowed so greedily in oppression, torture, and murder in her palmy days, that the foam of human gore hangs around her wolfish hugs, and men will not believe her to be a gentle lamb, let her bleat as she may. Against her common humanity is up in arms as much as evangelical religion. Her confessional is as dangerous to the mere moralist as to the Christian; her inquisition would be as ruinous to mercantile prosperity as to spiritual activity. Men of all religions and of no religion should deprecate the growth of a system which rendered the Inquisition possible; while followers of Jesus, for their own sake as well as for their Lord’s, should oppose it with all their might.
 Rome made the worst possible use of the weapon which the state gave her, but the radical evil was the state’s entering into alliance with the church, and lending its power to fulfill her purposes. Had true church principles prevailed, the crimes which make us shudder would have been impossible. Disarm and disestablish every sect, and leave each religion to its own moral and spiritual power, and no inquisition can be dreamed of; but put forward the doctrine that a state should propagate or maintain religion, and you have uncaged the lion; no one knows how much he may rend and devour. Modern Romanists would, many of them, lament the cruelties of former ages, but they ought to see that these were but the ripe fruits of their system when plentifully irrigated with royal favor, and planted in a soil rank with ignorance and superstition; a principle which, among Protestants with far less scope, has nevertheless produced most horrible results. Anglican churchmen who persist in upholding church and state, if they will but carefully think the matter over, will see that the Inquisition is but a grosser exposition of their principles; it is not the outgrowth of either one creed or another, but the result of a paternal government protecting its espoused faith with all its power. The argument that a state ought to have a religion, and support it by national funds, when like a medlar fully ripe and rotten, lands us at Smithfield’s stakes or the Lollard’s Tower. Whether Papists or so-called Protestants hold it, its results are the same in substance though not in measure. Rome has made a diabolical use of it, but no priests are to be trusted, even Protestants can persecute if they have the opportunity. Principles do not stop short at a hard and fast line, though their practice may be compelled to do so; and it is clear to every thinking man that, although state-churchmen would shrink from setting up an inquisition, the full development of their views would logically require it: the path of prudence is to return to the true principle, and leave the kingdom of Christ to be as at the first, not of this world. The same spirit which blazed up at an auto-da-fé smoulders in an imprisonment for church-rates, and the same principle which in its manhood dyed the Netherlands with blood in order to thrust in the Papacy, is that which thrusts in the Irish church upon an unwilling people. We Protestants who are really so, must fight zealously against the essential Popery which would lead us to use the secular arm in spiritual matters, and would tempt us to employ compulsion where everything to be acceptable must be voluntary. We must insist upon it that no shade of coercion or degree of patronage shall be exercised towards any religion; all must be fully tolerated, nay, more, all protected in their natural liberty, and all secured an absolute equality before the law. To act as Rome has acted is to unprotestantise ourselves. To deny Roman Catholics the fullest civil and religious equality is to degrade ourselves to their level by handling their weapons. Faction suggests reprisals, and fear demands precautions, and none can wonder, for the Papistical party is cunning and bigoted to the last degree; but Christianity scorns to sin in order to avenge a wrong, or avert an evil. If we treat our antagonists as they treated our fathers, we cannot convert them, for they have already perverted us. A people boasting of their Protestantism as the English do, should be ashamed to support Popery in the Anglican establishment, or to bow before the dogma of union between church and state, which is the essence of Antichrist and the germ of persecution: an injustice to man, and an impertinence to God. The inmost soul of Protestantism is the responsibility of the conscience to God alone, the spiritual nature of true religion, and the freedom of faith from the rule of earthly lords. State-churchism is antichristian, and always ripens into oppression and tyranny wherever opportunity is given it. “NO POPERY” is our cry, and therefore laying the ax at the root of the system, we demand the abolition of every union between church and state, and the disallowance of every form of interference on the part of Caesar with things which belong alone to God.
 We have been led to these remarks through reading a most thrilling work by Dr. W. H. Rule, a solid volume of sober history, written without the slightest tinge of sensationalism, and yet more stirring by far than any romance. Dr. Rule has, by this book, contributed to the standard library of Christendom—every one should read it, and see what state-religion leads to when it has nothing to hinder it. Truly in the case of the Romish church it makes one loathe the very name of Romanist, and shake himself, lest the plague of intolerance should by any means linger in his own garments. To Rome it seems to be essential to rend and devour. “‘Blessed Father,’ said Baronius to Paul V., ‘the ministry of Peter is twofold—to feed and to kill.’ For the Lord said to him, ‘Feed my sheep;’ and he also heard a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Kill and eat.’ To feed sheep is to take care of obedient, faithful Christians, who in meekness, humility, and piety, show themselves to be sheep and lambs. But when he has no longer to do with sheep and lambs, but with lions, and other wild, refractory, and troublesome beasts, Peter is commanded to kill them; that is to say, to attack, fight, and slaughter them, until there be none such left.'” This notion of killing (eating is another matter)—has been fully carried out by the Papacy, as our long rolls of martyrology can prove. It is the duty of all Protestants to be well read in our martyr annals, that our detestation of Popery and all that leads to intolerance may be renewed and confirmed.
 Dr. Rule commences with a paragraph which shows that persecution commenced as soon as ever the church was affiliated with the state. “The first imperial patron of Christians, Constantine the Great, cannot be fairly described as a persecutor, but rather as benevolent and liberal; yet, educated in heathenism, he thought it quite right to employ repressive measures for the extinction of idolatry, measures which the Pagans complained of as unjust, but could not regard as cruel in comparison with the ancient hostilities waged against each other by the votaries of hostile gods. Constantine, as a matter of course, discouraged freedom of utterance, where such freedom seemed inexpedient, and denied liberty of worship to idolaters and heretics. His edicts, or constitutions, became part of the civil law of Christian Europe. No fewer than seventy-two such laws, made by Constantine and his successors, against controversialists and heretics, with many more against Jews, Samaritans, and Pagans, may be found in the Theodosian Code, and show how diversities of religious opinion were to be prevented, and the teachers crushed. Confiscation, banishment, death, were the penalties to be inflicted for breach of what Romanists are pleased to call ‘Catholic unity.'” Every reader of this paragraph who is not an anti-state churchman should carefully note it, and meditate within himself as to what the fact here stated most surely indicates.
 The powers of the Inquisition when in its palmy days were very extensive. A Romish writer says, “The tribunal claims right of jurisdiction over the following persons:—All heretics without exception. All who blaspheme God and the saints. They who utter words of blasphemy when extremely drunk are not to be condemned at once, but watched. If half drunk, they are entirely guilty. They who speak blasphemously or heretically in their sleep are to be watched; for it is likely that their lips betrayed the heresy that was lurking in their hearts. All who speak jestingly of sacred things. Wizards and fortune-tellers. Worshippers of the devil: and it seems that while the Inquisition was in its glory, when the Reformation had scarcely dawned, or where its light had scarcely penetrated, people were known to offer sacrifices to the evil one, kneel down to him, sing hymns to him, observe ‘chastity’ and fast in honor of him, illuminate and cense his images, insert names of devils in the litanies of saints, and ask them to intercede with God. Such was the condition of many who had known no other church but that of Rome. All who harbor, or show kindness to heretics, being themselves orthodox; very near relatives, however, having slight indulgence allowed them, in some cases, if the inquisitors please. All who look ill on an inquisitor—those ugly looks being indications of heresy, and injurious to the holy office. Persons in civil office who hinder the inquisition and its agents, or who refuse to help them, or allow an accused person to conceal himself or to escape. Any one who gives food to a heretic, unless he be actually dying of hunger: for in this case it is allowable to feed him, that he may live to take his trial, and, haply, to be converted. Experienced inquisitors could detect a heretic by a characteristic unsightliness about the eyes and nostrils.”
 The terrible burnings of the faithful witnesses of the Lord at the autos-da-fé of the Inquisition are painted to the life by our author, so that one shudders to read the description. “At Lisbon, the place of execution was at the water-side. For each person to be burnt, whether dead or alive, a thick stake, or spar, was erected, not less than twelve feet above ground; and within about eighteen inches of the top there was a thick cross-piece, to serve for a seat, and to receive the tops of two ladders. Between those ladders, which were for the use of two Jesuits, there was one for the condemned person, whom they compelled to mount, sit on the transverse piece, and there be chained fast. The Jesuits then went up, delivered a hasty exhortation to repentance, and, that failing, declared that they left him to the devil, who was waiting to receive his soul. On perceiving this, the mob shouted, ‘Let the dog’s beard be trimmed;’ that is to say, let his face be scorched. This was done by tying pieces of furze to the end of a long pole, and holding the flaming bush to his face, until it was burnt black. The disfiguration of countenance, and his cries for ‘mercy for the love of God,’ furnished great part of the amusement for the crowd, who, if he had been suffering death in a less barbarous way for any criminal offense, would have manifested every appearance of compassion. When ‘the beard’ was trimmed, they lit the heap of furze at the foot of the stake, and, if there were was no wind, the flame would envelop the seat, and begin to burn their legs; but, as there generally is a breeze on the banks of the Tagus, it seldom reached so high. If there was no wind, he would be dead in an half an hour; but the victim generally retained entire consciousness for an hour and a-half, or two hours, in dire torment, which the spectators witnessed with such delight as could never be produced by any other spectacle. In short, the burning, or rather roasting to death, was so contrived that the sufferer should be exposed to every spectator, and that his cries from that elevation should be distinctly audible all round.” Occasionally a poor wretch would recant, and indeed every cunning device was used to induce such recantation. One of their own order coolly says, “And while fulfilling its office, a few upright men, zealous for the faith, may go to the criminal, and exhort him to return to the Catholic faith, and renounce his errors. And if, after the sentence is passed, and he is given over to the secular court, while they are taking him away to be burnt, or when he is tied to the stake, or when he feels the fire, he say that he is willing to turn and repent, and abjure his heresy, I should think that he might in mercy be received as a heretic penitent, and immured for life, according to some passages in the Decretals” (which are cited), “although I imagine this would not be found very justifiable, nor is great faith to be placed in conversions of this sort. Indeed, such an occurrence did take place in Barcelona, where three heretics impenitent, but not relapsed, were delivered to the secular arm, and when one of them, a priest, had the fire lit round him, and was already half burnt on one side, he begged to be taken out, and promised to abjure and repent. He was taken out, abjured. But whether we did right or not, I cannot say. One thing I know, that fourteen years afterwards he was accused, and found to have persisted in his heresy all the time, and infected many. He then refused to be converted, and, as one impenitent and relapsed, was again delivered to the secular arm, and consumed in fire.”
 Frequently, a refinement of cruelty was displayed which unassisted mortals could hardly have thought of, the direct suggestion of Satan is evident in many a passage in the Inquisitorial history. Incarnate fiends trod those bloodstained halls. “Gaspar de Santa Cruz escaped to Toulouse, where he died, and was buried, after his effigy had been burnt in Zaragoza. In this city lived a son of his, who, as in duty bound, had helped him to make good his retreat. This son was detained as an impeder of the holy office, arrested, brought out at an act of faith, made to read a condemnation of his deceased father, and then sent to the inquisitor at Toulouse, who took him to his father’s grave, and compelled him to dig up the corpse, and burn it with his own hands. Whether the inquisitors were most barbarous, or the young man most vile, it may be difficult to say.”
 We trust, for the sake of our common nature, that there is some mistake in the description which Gavazzi gives of the Roman Inquisitorial edifice, when laid bare during the short-lived Roman republic. He says, “So short was the time that it remained open to the public, so great the crowd of persons that pressed to catch a sight of it, and so intense the horror inspired by that accursed place, that I could not obtain a more exact and particular impression.
 “I found no instruments of torture, for they were destroyed at the first French invasion, and because such instruments were not used afterwards by the modern Inquisition. I did, however, find in one of the prisons of the second court a furnace, and the remains of a woman’s dress. I shall never be able to believe that that furnace was used for the living, it not being in such a place, or of such a kind, as to be of service to them. Every thing, on the contrary, combines to persuade me that it was made use of for horrible deaths, and to consume the remains of victims of inquisitorial executions. Another object of horror I found between the great hall of judgment and the luxurious apartment of the chief jailer, the Dominican friar who presides over this diabolical establishment. This was a deep tray, a shaft opening into the vaults under the Inquisition. As soon as the so-called criminal had confessed his offense, the second keeper, who is always a Dominican friar, sent him to the father commissary to receive a relaxation of his punishment. With hope of pardon, the confessed culprit would go towards the apartment of the holy inquisitor; but in the act of setting foot at its entrance, the trap opened, and the world of the living heard no more of him. I examined some of the earth found in the pit below this trap; it was a compost of common earth, rottenness, ashes, and human hair, fetid to the smell, and horrible to the sight and thought of the beholder.
 “But where popular fury reached its highest pitch was in the vaults of St. Pius V. I am anxious that you should note well that this Pope was canonized by the Roman Church especially for his zeal against heretics. I will now describe to you the manner how, and the place where, those vicars of Jesus Christ handled the living members of Jesus Christ, and show you how they proceeded for their healing. You descend into the vaults by very narrow stairs. A narrow corridor leads you to the several cells, which, for smallness and for stench, are a hundred times more horrible then the dens of lions and tigers in the Coliseum.
 “Wandering in this labyrinth of most fearful prisons, which may be called ‘graves for the living,’ I came to a cell full of skeletons without skulls, buried in lime. The skulls, detached from the bodies, had been collected in a hamper by the first visitors. Whose were these skeletons? And why were they buried in that place and in that manner?
 “The following is a most probable opinion, if it be not rather the history of a fact:—The condemned were immersed in a bath of slaked lime, gradually filled up to their necks. The lime, by little and little, enclosed the sufferers, or walled them up all alive. The torment was extreme, but slow. As the lime rose higher and higher, the respiration of the victims became more painful, because more difficult. So that what with the suffocation of the smoke, and the anguish of a compressed breathing they died in a manner most horrible and desperate. Some time after their death, the heads would naturally separate from the bodies, and roll away into the hollows left by the shrinking of the lime. Any other explanation of the fact that may be attempted will be found improbable and unnatural.”
 The modes by which confessions were extracted by the inquisitors, it would be difficult to condemn too severely. Take a specimen:—A wife of a physician was accused with her three unmarried daughters. “One of these daughters was imprisoned first, but made no disclosure. The inquisitor then tried a novel and horrible method. He had her brought into the audience-chamber, sent his subordinates out of the room, and professed that he had fallen in love with her—that he was resolved to save her life. Day after day he repeated the declaration, and at length persuaded the poor girl that he was indeed her lover. He then told her that, although she knew it not, her mother and sisters were accused of heresy by many witnesses, and that, for the love he bore to her, he desired to save them; but that, in order to effect his object, he must be fully informed of their case, under secrecy, that he might so proceed as to save them all from death. She fell into the snare, and told him all. His point was gained. Their conversation ended. The very next day he called her to another audience, and made her declare, judicially, what she had revealed to him in the assumed character lover. That was enough. The mother and her daughters were sent together to the flames. And the fiend saw his victims burnt.” Shall not God be avenged on such a people as this?
 Our author has not condescended to defile his pages with details of the lasciviousness of the holy fathers of the sacred office, otherwise he might have told a tale of the kind which blanches raven locks, and makes men’s flesh creep on their bones. Pandemonium was Paradise itself compared with the Inquisition. He does not even dwell upon the horrible cruelties enacted more than is barely sufficient for his purpose, but the whole history is nevertheless harrowing to the last degree.
 Even while these wretches crushed their victims, they evidently feared their testimony, and found it needful to check their holy witnessing. The gag, in its most cruel form was always ready. One instance we must not omit:—”Dr. Michael Geddes, when a prisoner was brought out who had been several years shut up in a dungeon where clear daylight never penetrated, saw the poor man raise his eyes towards the sun, and heard him exclaim in rapture, as if overwhelmed with majesty of the object, ‘How can people that behold that glorious body worship any other being than Him that created it?’ Instantly the gag was thrust into his mouth, and the Jesuits who attended him to the Terreiro de Paco were not troubled with any more of his reflections.”
 Which shall we wonder at most, the endurance of the faithful or the cruelty of their tormentors? Is it not proven beyond all dispute that there is no limit to the enormities which men will commit when they are once persuaded that they are keepers of other men’s consciences? To spread religion by any means, and to crush heresy by all means is the practical inference from the doctrine that one man may control another’s religion. Given the duty of a state to foster some one form of faith, and by the sure inductions of our nature slowly but certainly persecution will occur. To prevent for ever the possibility of Papists roasting Protestants, Anglicans hanging Romish priests, and Puritans flogging Quakers, let every form of state-churchism be utterly abolished, and the remembrance of the long curse which it has cast upon the world be blotted out for ever.

Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/inq.php

Image info: Guthrie, minister at Stirling, was the second man (after the Duke of Argyll) to be executed for opposing Charles II’s reintroduction of episcopacy after the Restoration of 1660. He is reported to have lifted the handkerchief from his face and shouted to the crowd, “The covenants, the covenants, shall yet be Scotland’s reviving!”. (Guthrie was executed at the mercat cross in Edinburgh’s High Street. Artistic licence has been used in depicting the execution as having taken place in the Grassmarket which became the main place of execution for Covenanters in the 1680s.)

The Florentine Monk

Charles Spurgeon:

Girolamo SavonarolaIN THE month of May this year it is proposed to hold a conference of Italian Christians in the fine old city of Florence. Gavazzi, whose evangelistic work among his countrymen has inspired new hopes in English breasts, as to the future of Protestantism in that land of olives and cypresses, has, with the assistance of those who are equally enthusiastic for the cause of God and truth, formed an Evangelical Alliance in Italy, for the purpose of unitedly combatting “the two great enemies of the divine religion of Christ—Popery and Rationalism.” They thus hope to “present a compact phalanx against the expected assaults of the coming Œcumenical Council.”1 Florence has not inaptly been chosen as the scene of this Protestant demonstration. Exactly four centuries ago, it witnessed the martyrdom of a Florentine monk, who, ere the Reformation dawned, and while, indeed, Martin Luther was a youth of six years of age, had aroused the enmity of one of the vilest miscreants of all the debased wretches that wore the triple crown, and had struck a blow at the pretensions of the Papacy, which was only the precursor of that mightier onslaught which staggered the see of Rome, and ushered in the Reformation. It is worth while to run over the incidents of that short but eventful life, since its lessons are as useful to-day as ever.
 Savonarola was born in 1452, of respectable parents, at Ferrara. From his grandfather, a physician to a noble duke, he gained his first acquaintance with learned pursuits; from his mother he obtained those lessons of goodness and piety which influenced his heart and moulded his character. Designed for the medical profesion, he soon evinced a passionate longing for other pursuits. Thoughtful, earnest, high-souled, his heart guided his head, and both became devoted to the inner world of spiritual life, into which he withdrew, bidding adieu to the scenes of greedy lust and worldly pleasures by which he was surrounded. He was not the first, we suppose, who sought to relieve his young burning heart by rhyming. We have very little left of his youthful effusions, but they indicate the great struggles of his soul, and foretell the thoughts of a riper and more matured and experienced observation. Thus early, he seemed to have gained a profound sense of the deep-seated corruptions of the apostate church. The profligate sensuous age moved him to write in terms of just severity; and it is noticeable how emphatically he lays the axe at the root of the upas-tree—2

“The earth so staggers under every vice,
That never will it lift its head again;
Rome is that head, so bowed with wickedness,
That ended now for ever is her reign.” 

 Deeply did he lament the corruptions of the church. Bitterly did he bewail its abandonment of the high mission to which he believed it had been called. And yet, when he saw the outside world, he viewed it with intense disgust. For him it had no attractions. He despised its allurements; he detested its vanities; and so, with a moral determination, and a stern self-denial, worthy of a nobler consummation, he retired into a Dominican cloister. At first a lay-brother, mending the garments and keeping the garden of the convent, he became, after a year of probation, a monk. He was an enthusiastic student. As he himself confesses, he strove after truth with all his powers. Truth was the empress of his soul. He loved her for her own sake. “She illumines,” he says, “the soul with divine light, and leads it to communion with God, who is himself truth.” Fortunately, he obtained, like his successor of the convent of Erfurt, a copy of the Holy Scriptures. How earnestly did he apply himself to a thorough investigation of its teachings! Here, in his solitary cell, shut out from the gaieties and fascinations of Italian life, isolated from others by his very earnestness and heart-yearnings, like a panting hart braying for the water-brooks, he thirsted for the translucent purity of God’s all-satisfying truth. It is true, he read the Scriptures in the light—always a “dim, religious” one—of the church, but he could not shut his eyes to the awful revelations it gave of the abomination of desolations. His soul luxuriated in the peace-infusing teachings of the Word; but his heart was stirred up within him as he compared the church as it was with its ideal state. “Where,” he asks, “are the precious stones—where the pure diamonds, the bright lamps, the sapphires, the white robes, and white roses of the church?” It was thus that fourteen years of retirement were spent; the fires of suffering purifying his nature, and leading him to that higher renunciation and nobler consecration so needed for the work of the future.
 Called from the seclusion of his cell, at the age of thirty-seven, to active labour in the city of Florence, Savonarola journeyed thither on foot—a dark, mysterious providence overhanging him; a disturbed world of conflicting thoughts within him; and an atmosphere of disquietude and gloom around. To what had his God called him? What meant those ceaseless agitations which electrified his soul, and burdened him as with a message from the Lord, crushing him to the earth? Subsequent events developed the foreshadowings.
 Just at this time, Florence was at the dizzying height of its renown. It possessed nearly a thousand fortified positions. Its beauty of situation, its rich lands, its luxuriance, its wealth, its treasures of art, its libraries, its seats of learning, magnificent palaces, unrivalled advantages and commercial prosperity, with its gaities and worldly attractions, made it one of the wonders of Europe. If England be, as the keen satire of Napoleon has represented, a nation of shopkeepers, Florence was well-nigh a city of bankers and merchants. Being the great banking-place of the Continent, its wealth was enormous. As Corinth, under the fostering care of Augustus, and in the zenith of its commercial glory, grew licentious, and proud, and reckless, so Florence, under the luxurious sway of Lorenzo di Medici the Magnificent, became heathenish and viciously immoral. Savonarola’s voice was soon heard in the church of St. Mark, censuring the tendencies of the age, and laying, bare, with merciless severity, the corruptions of the church. It must have been a strange sight to see the spare, haggard form of his pale-faced, keen-eyed, Roman-nosed monk, exciting, the crowds of listeners, and overpowering them with his vigorous eloquence. There was nothing in his voice to allure attention. It was thin and weak. Nor was there anything in his manner, for he was unpractised in speaking; but his words carried weight, and each had a flaming fire-dart which pierced its way, and carried conviction. His denunciations of the paganism of Florence, and the gross abominations of the church, stirred the city to its depths. The friar’s popularity grew and spread like living fire. Men listened and shuddered. Priests heard, trembled, and hated. The people grew enthusiastic. Salvation by faith, not by works—forgiveness of sin, not by absolution, but by Christ; these were unheard of truths from such a pulpit, and were as welcome as they were strange. With sternness of manner he denounced the prevailing sins of the time, and with affectionate entreaty besought men, like another John the Baptist, to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand.” Indeed, his prophetic utterances of a visitation from God were listened to with much dismay. His extraordinary faithfulness in rebuking those current sins of the wealthy to which they thought they had a prescriptive right; his personal form of address, without which no minister or reformer can hope to be successful in soul-winning; his clear evangelic utterances as to the natural state of the soul, its need of redemption, and the suitability of the free gospel of God’s grace to meet that need, told upon the people. They wept. They were silenced. Men who took down his discourses, were known to drop the pens from their hands. Country people walked miles to hear the great preacher; came, indeed, the night before the Sunday, and besieged the church doors at early morn, that they might be sure of a seat. Rich burghers gave them victuals, and even acted as doorkeepers. The convent church was too small; nor could the cathedral accommodate more than the three thousand persons who flocked to hear the friar.
 As prior of St. Mark, Savonarola was expected to pay homage to Lorenzo di Medici. He refused. In vain did Lorenzo seek to win the stern friar’s confidence; he would loiter in the garden to attract his attention; money was given most royally to the poor; the sermons were heard; but all Lorenzo got in return was unsparing denunciation. Five men were sent to induce the friar to moderate his stinging criticisms, and to cease his prophetic utterances. “Go,” was the stern answer, “and tell Lorenzo that he must repent of his sins, for God is about to punish him and his. He threatens me with banishment. Well, I am a foreigner, and he a citizen, and the first in the city; but know that I shall stay, and that he will soon be forced to quit.” Strange to say, this declaration came true. Lorenzo the Magnificent lay on his death-bed. Anxious to be absolved from his sins, he sent for the monk, whom he had feared. Savonarola imposed three conditions. He was first to believe in God’s ability and willingness to forgive; this the sick man confessed. Then he was to restore that which he had unrighteously gained. This duty he promised to perform by his heir. Thirdly, said Savonarola, “Give back to Florence her ancient liberty;” but Lorenzo turned his head away, and Savonarola departed.
 After Lorenzo’s death he addressed himself to the work of reformation. Beginning where reformation, as well as charity, should begin, at home, he renovated his convent, induced the monks to reform, to live higher lives, to study, and to preach. Next, he sought the reformation of the Florentine State. Henceforth he must become a politician. It is useless to criticise and condemn: he may have been fanatical, unwise, foolish. He, at least, did not think so. He had his dreams of an ideal government, and he lived to see them come true, though they hastened his fate. He preached on the downfall of the State; declared that soon the Lord’s vengeance would come upon the Florentines; announced the termination of the great house of Medici; and predicted that “Over the Alps one is coming sword in hand against Italy to chastise her tyrants. His coming will be in the storm and in the whirlwind, like that of Cyrus.” At the time, no one believed the warning voice of the strange prophet. The city was at peace; people were married and given in marriage, and the end came not. But lo! the King of France came over the Alps, with an immense army, took Naples, and marched into Florence. Then believed they the message of the friar. The Medici were expelled. Savonarola appeared before the King of France, secured peace, obtained milder terms; and the Florentines were allowed to choose their own mode of government. On the friar, however, was devolved this task. He chose the democratic form; but Jesus Christ was to be King of the city. A general amnesty was proclaimed, and the streets of Florence were thus saved from the deluge of blood which seemed inevitable. A contemporary writer states that “Apart from the Father’s preaching, streams of blood would have been seen to flow in the city; but his words and his authority, which stood at that time very high, appeased the storm, and hindered the carrying out of revengeful thoughts.”
 It was marvellous how his power was felt. He was looked upon as a deliverer and a prophet. His words were treasured up, and were held as coming from God himself. His holy ascendancy was such that men everywhere saw it, felt it, were cowed under it, and not a few wished to be delivered from it. He waged relentless war against the sins of the rich, and denounced the vices of the poor. He changed for a time the character of society in the city. Dr. Seibert, in his biography, “Savonarola der Reformator von Florenz,” describes the wondrous effect of the friar’s teaching:—”Mortal enemies fell into each other’s arms and became reconciled; the rich spontaneously restored ill-gotten gains: one citizen in particular made restitution of 3,000 ducats, the possession of which disquieted his conscience. Women renounced of their own accord their pride of dress, and went about in modest garments of drab. Ballads and love songs were heard no longer in the country, and religious singing took their place. In the city the theatres and taverns soon became empty and desolate, and in a short time cards and dice were no longer to be seen, vain pomp disappeared, all moral earnestness, and a wonderful degree of love and devotion to eternal things laid hold of the people.” As one of his opponents said, “The people seemed to become fools from love to Christ.” At the season of carnival men delivered up their dice, cards, and card-boards, scandalous images, and immoral novels, and women their rouge, scented waters, veils, false hair, mirrors—indeed, never before, and we fear never since, were women more self-sacrificing—all these luxuries were collected in the marketplace and burnt, youths singing in procession, round what has been called this “auto-da-fé of sin and worldly pleasures.”
 Besides improving the social condition of the poor, he endeavoured to reform the church. He never spared the priests—they were “the devil’s midwives.” Referring to the primitive church, he once said, “In those days they had a golden priest and wooden vessels, but now we have golden vessels and a wooden priest.” But especially was he emphatic in his testimony to the preciousness of the Scriptures. “The ruin of the church,” he said, “is to be traced to this, that Christians no longer read the Scriptures; it is owing to this that thick darkness broods over the Christian people, and that impiety gets so much the upper hand.” He very imperfectly understood the Scriptures, but he was alone in demanding that they should be read, and their lessons taught to the people.
 A man like Savonarola, it is needless to remark, must soon have aroused the enmity of the Papacy. It was no difficulty for him to find foes; they compassed him about like bees. They were principally of the order of the Franciscans, who always hated the order of which Savonarola was a member—the Dominican. News reached Rome of the terrible power and popularity of the friar. The Pope’s first thought was to conciliate so dangerous a foe. He, therefore, offered him a cardinal’s hat. But it was declined. “I wish,” he said, “for no other red hat than that of a martyr, dyed with my own blood.” It was equally in the power of the Pope to grant him that favour—for which, indeed, he felt most inclined. He was then respectfully and in a most fatherly way invited to show himself at Rome. “Beloved son! Health to thee, and apostolic benediction.” But, as everyone knows, the Pope’s blessing was always a curse, and in this case the blessing concealed—or only partly concealed—a power that would by penance, prison, or poison, reduce the friar to everlasting silence. Savonarola was not to be caught. He knew the man with whom he was dealing. The Pope was the incarnation of all the devilry that ever escaped from hell. An abandoned wretch, guilty of scandalous crimes—who could trust him? And so, wisely, the friar refused to go. He did not refuse, however, to fulminate against the Pope. He, too—like most of us—could issue his little bull from his diminutive Vatican. At last the Pope prohibited his preaching, and ordered that the congregation of St. Mark should be dissolved. Such elements were, however, not readily dissolved. Savonarola for a time maintained silence, but was stung into action by the Pope’s Breve. “I cannot forbear preaching,” he declared; “the word of God is as a fire in my heart; unless I speak it, it burns my marrow and bones.” “It is now time,” he said, “to open the den; we will turn the key; such a stench and so much filth will be vomited forth by Rome as will overspread all Christendom, and everybody will be tainted with it.” At last the Pope applied to the Signori to deliver up this heretic; but it was in vain. Franciscan monks were sent to preach him down; but his preaching went up. Then it was, with his customary politeness, that the Pope sent a gracious message, hurling his curse at his head, cutting him off as a rotten member of the church’s body, and giving him over to the powers of hell. Savonarola had his defenders in Florence, and those were among the wealthy as well as among the poor; but a host of circumstances were combining to ruin him. His friends were injudicious. His new state constitution was, as might be expected, a failure. His alliance with the King of France, who had done nothing for the church, damaged his popularity. Plague and famine irritated the people; and, as no miracle was wrought on their behalf, Savonarola was disliked. One of his friends foolishly put a controversy with the Franciscans upon the issue of a trial by the ordeal of fire. The fire was prepared in the marketplace of Florence; the citizens expected to behold a notable spectacle; but the Signori and a shower of rain interfered and dispersed the crowd. The mob then turned upon Savonarola; the monastery was assailed; the once popular monk was made a prisoner; and the Pope was communicated with. Overcome with joy, “His Holiness” granted permission for the monk to be tortured. A recantation was demanded of him, but he refused. He was then stretched seven times during the week upon the rack. In the height of his sufferings he cried, “Lord, take my spirit,” and, worn out by the tortures, he agreed to confess. When, however, he had rested a while, he withdrew his recantation, and boldly avowed all that he had previously taught. Between the day of his trial and the day of his execution he wrote an exposition of the fifty-first Psalm, which Luther highly prized, and published in Germany.
 He was burnt, with two friends, on the 22nd of May, 1498. The bishop deprived him of his priestly garments, saying, “Thus I exclude thee from the militant and triumphant church.” “From the church militant thou mayst,” exclaimed Savonarola, “but from the church triumphant thou canst not.” He died blessing the people who had deserted him, and clinging to the Christ whose love had never departed from him.
 The question has often been asked, How far was Savonarola the herald of Protestantism? The best answer to that question is, we think, furnished in his admirable work—far ahead of the times in which it was written—”The Triumph of the Cross.” We are glad that those enterprising publishers, Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton have brought it out in a cheap and handsome form.3 For the sake of the memory of the martyr, it should be read; for the sake of the truths it so luminously sets forth, it deserves a wide circulation. Mr. Travers Hill, beside writing an interesting sketch of the Italian Reformer’s life, has ably translated the work. At a time when the church held every one in bondage, when the Scriptures were hid from view, and the masses were ignorant of the way of salvation—when darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people—when the church to which every one bowed in lowly submission was so corrupt as to allow a pope stained with every crime to preside over it—and when Luther’s shrill testimony had not as yet been given—it is pleasant to find words of such evangelic power written in the cloister of a monastery. And though Savonarola was wedded to many of the errors of the church, yet his testimony in favour of justification by faith and not by works, the forgiveness of sins by Christ and not by man, was clear and decisive. His object was undoubtedly to purify the church of Rome, not to destroy it; but it is evident that throughout his life he was, if loyal to his church, far more loyal to Christ.

Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/tfm1869.php

Vatican May Apologize for Persecution of Christians

via The Still Man:

The Vatican may soon issue a formal apology for the Roman Catholic church’s historical persecution of Bible-believing Protestant Christians. During a recent homily, Pope Francis, the False Prophet of Revelation 13, said,

“Jesus, before the Passion, prayed for the unity of Christians, so that they might be one—as He and the Father are one—that the world might believe. But within the Church there are those who “sow weeds,” who divide and destroy the community with their wagging tongues.”

“The unity of the Christian community,” he said, “is a witness: a witness to the fact that the Father has sent the Son. But achieving unity is very difficult.”

He then went on to say this:

“We have to seek forgiveness for our history, for having waged war against our Christian brothers,—divisions which continue even today.”

“Those who sow weeds,” I believe, refers to those Protestants who know the truth; those Protestants who know that all cumbaya rhetoric aside, the Roman Catholic church and its Pope always have been and always will be the irreconcilable enemy of Protestant Christianity.

Jack Chick, in volume 16 of the Crusader Series, entitled “The Four Horsemen,” says that according to former Jesuit priest, Alberto Rivera, the Vatican is planning to one day formally apologize for the Holocaust. Perhaps this is a lead up to that event. The Roman Catholic church has always been the bitter enemy of both the Christian Church and Israel and has sworn to destroy both—and it will pull out all the stops during the Great Tribulation towards this end.

You must understand that the Roman Catholic Council of Trent declared Martin Luther and all Bible-believing Christians heretics and placed them under one hundred twenty-five curses. Beginning with Vatican II, the Roman Catholic church ostensibly left off the incendiary rhetoric and began to call Christians “separated brethren.” But the reality is that the Vatican has never repealed the decrees of the Council of Trent and follows them to this very day. Bible-believing Christians are still considered heretics who deserve to die.

Charles Chiniquy, in the book, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, speaking on the hatred the Roman Catholic church holds towards Christians writes:

“The Roman Catholics [feel that they] have not only the right, but it is their duty to kill heretics” (p. 78). [brackets mine.]

He then goes on to quote the Roman Catholic church father, “Saint” Alphonsus Liguori to have written:

“Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the Church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate in their errors must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular powers to be exterminated.”  [Emphasis mine.]

Think about that and consider what the United States government did to the Branch Davidian church, in 1993, during the siege at Waco, Texas, when it burned those men, women, and children alive. Think about that and consider what the Philadelphia police department did to the Move Group, in 1985, when it burned those men, women, and children alive. It is important to understand that both those groups had religious beliefs that were very un-Catholic.

The Roman Catholic church feigns friendship for the time being in order to beguile Christians to go along with its One World agenda. Their reason for courting Christians, according to Ligouri, is to bring them “back to the faith of the Church.” They want to unite the Roman Catholics and Protestants in the Vatican’s One World Church. But, once they achieve their ends, the mask will come off and the poor Christians who fell for the deception will see Rome’s true colors. History will repeat itself.  Don’t be deceived!

“Christian brothers” could also mean the Eastern Orthodox Church, which Rome has too persecuted, but the Pope’s use of the term “wagging tongues” and that he says they cause division makes me believe he is talking about Protestant preachers who preach against Rome.

Be encouraged and look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.

The Still Man

~published under the following permission from http://www.thestillman.com/stillmanfiles/:

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Burned Without Pity

The below quote has been attributed to Pope Innocent III but please see http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2017/03/01/burned-without-pity-a-fake-quotation-attributed-to-pope-innocent-iii/comment-page-1/, which shows that this quote has been falsely attributed.

Innocent III bas-relief in the U.S. House of Representatives chamberPope Innocent III:

“Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burned without pity.”

~Papal Bull, 1198, qtd. in Peter Tompkins, Symbols of Heresy in THE MAGIC OF OBELISKS, p.57 (New York: Harper, 1981)

Source: https://www.worldslastchance.com/end-time-prophecy/appalling-papal-proclamations-straight-from-the-harlots-mouth.html

Image information: Innocent III marble bas-relief, one of 23 reliefs of great historical lawgivers in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. Sculpted by Joseph Kiselewski in 1950. Diameter 28 inches.

Related:

2015 Saw The Worst Persecution Of Christians Since The Vatican’s Spanish Inquisition

Open Thou Their Blind Hearts

“Rather death than false of faith”

(inscription on Anne Askew’s portrait)

Hans Eworth Portrait of a Lady call Anne Ayscough“Lord, I heartily desire of thee, that thou wilt of thy most merciful goodness forgive them, that violence which they do, and hath done, to me.   Open also thou their blind hearts, that they may hereafter do that thing in thy sight, which is only acceptable before thee, and to set forth thy verity aright, without all vain fantasies of sinful men. So, be it, O Lord, so be it!

By me, Anne Askew”

~Select works of John Bale D.D. Bishop of Ossory: edited by Rev. Henry Christmas

Source: http://out-of-theordinary.blogspot.ca/2015/10/anne-askew-extraordinary-life-of.html

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

~Matthew 5:44

If They Admitted It, They Might Live!

J.C. Ryle on the Protestant Martyrs of the Reformation:

BentoXVI-51-11052007 (frag)“The principal reason why they were burned, was because they refused one of the peculiar doctrines of the Romish Church. On that doctrine, in almost every case, hinged their life or death.  If they admitted it — they might live; if they refused it — they must die! The doctrine in question was the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the consecrated elements of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper.”

~Five English Martyrs by J.C. Ryle

Source: http://out-of-theordinary.blogspot.ca/2015/10/anne-askew-extraordinary-life-of.html

Related: https://theantipaschronicles.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/why-were-our-reformers-burned/