Jeremy Taylor.

The whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) online

. (page 6 of 50)
Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 6 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ginning of the Church, there was no use of indulgences, and
that they began after the people were awhile affrighted with
the torments of purgatory." To this there are two answers ;
the first is, that Bishop Fisher said no such words. No ? ' Pro-
ferte tabulas.' His words are these; " Who can now wonder,
that, in the beginning of the Primitive Church, there was no
use of indulgences?" 1 " And again: "Indulgences began
awhile after men trembled at the torments of purgatory."
These are the words of Roffensis. What in the world can
be plainer? And this is so evident, that Alphonsus a Castro*
thinks himself concerned to answer the objection, and the
danger of such concessions. " Neither, upon this occasion,
are indulgences to be despised, because their use may seem

i Vide quae supra annotavl ex Decreto Gratiani, sect. i.

r In art. 18. cock Luther. Lib. viii. adv. Hares tit. Indulgentia.



OF INDULGENCES. 49

to be received lately in the Church, because there are many
things known to posterity, which those ancient writers were
wholly ignorant of." " Quid ergo mirum, si ad hunc modum
contigeret de indulgentiis, ut apud priscos nulla sit de iis
mentio?" Indeed, antiquity, was wholly ignorant of these
things : and as for their catholic posterity, some of them
also did not believe that indulgences did profit any that
were dead. Amongst these, Hostiensis and Biel were the
most noted. But Biel was soon made to alter his opinion ;
Hostiensis did not, that I find. 1

The other answer is by E. W., that " Roffensis saith it
not so absolutely, but with this interrogation : ' Quis jam de
indulgentiis mirari potest ? Who now can wonder concern-
ing indulgences ?' " Wonder ! at what? for E. W. is loath to
tell it: but truth must out. " Who now can wonder, that,
in the beginning of the Church, there was no use of indul-
gences?" so Roffensis; which first supposes this; that in
the Primitive Church there was no use of indulgences ; none
at all : and this, which is the main question here, is as abso-
lutely affirmed as anything; it is like a precognition to a
scientifical discourse. And then the question, having presup-
posed this, does by direct implication say, it is no wonder that
there should be then no use of indulgences : that is, not
only absolutely affirms the thing, but by consequence the
notoriety of it and the reasonableness. Nothing affirms or
denies more strongly than a question. "Are not my ways
equal (said God), and are not your ways unequal?" that is,
' It is evident and notorious that it is so.' And by this 'we
understand the meaning of Roffensis, in the following words ;
" Yet, as they say, there was some very ancient use of them
among the Romans." ' They say,' that is, there is a talk
of it amongst some or other; but such they were, whom
Roffensis believed not ; and that, upon which they did ground
their fabulous report, was nothing but a ridiculous legend,
which I have already confuted."

The same doctrine is taught by Antoninus, who confesses
that concerning them we have nothing expressly in the
Scriptures, or in the sayings of the ancient doctors. And

* Hostiensis in summa lib. v. tit. de Remiss. Biel in Canon. Missae.lect. 57.
Vide Bellarm. lib. i. c. 14, de Indul. sect. Quod ad primam.

Dissuasive, part i. sect. 3.

VOL XI. E



50 OF INDULGENCES.

that he said so cannot be denied ; but E. W. says, that I
omit what Antoninus adds ; that is, I did not transcribe his
whole book. But what is it that I should have added ? This ;
" Quamvis ad hoc inducatur illud apostoli, 2 Cor. ii. Si quid
donavi vobis propter vos in persona Christi." Now to this
there needs no answer, but this ; that it is nothing to the
purpose. 'To whom the Corinthians forgave any thing ; to
the same person St. Paul for their sakes did forgive also.'
But what then ; therefore the pope and his clergy have power
to take off the temporal punishments, which God reserves
upon sinners, after he hath forgiven them the temporal ? and
that the Church hath power to forgive sins beforehand, and
to set a price upon the basest crimes, and not to forgive,
but sell indulgences? and lay up the supernumerary trea-
sures of the saints' good works, and issue them out by retail
in the market of purgatory? Because St. Paul caused the
Corinthians to be absolved, and restored to the Church's
peace after a severe penance ; so great, that the poor man
was in danger of being swallowed up with despair and the
subtilties of Satan ; does this prove, that therefore all pe-
nances may be taken off, when there is no such danger, no
such pious and charitable consideration? And yet, besides
the inconsequence of all this, St. Paul gave no indulgence,
but what the Christian Church of Corinth (in which at that
time there was no bishop) did first give themselves. Now
the indulgence which the people give, will prove but little war-
rant to what the Church of Rome pretends ; not only for the
former reasons, but also because the Primitive Church had
said nothing expressly concerning indulgences ; and there-
fore did not to any such purpose expound the words of St.
Paul ; but also because Antoninus himself was not moved by
those words, to think they meant any thing of the Roman
indulgences; but mentions it as the argument of other
persons. Just as if I should write, that there is concerning
transubstantiation nothing expressly said in the Scriptures,
or in the writings of the ancient fathers ; although ' Hoc est
corpus meum' be brought in for it: would any man in his
wits say, that I am of the opinion, that, in Scripture, there
is something express for it, though I expressly deny it ? I
suppose not.

It appears now that Roffensis and a Castro declared



OF INDULGENCES. 51

against the antiquity of indulgences ; their own words are
the witnesses ; and the same is also true of Antoninus ; and
therefore the first discourse of indulgences, in ' the Dissuasive,'
might have gone on prosperously, and needed not to have
been interrupted. For if these quotations be true, as is pre-
tended, and as now appears, there is nothing by my adver-
saries said in defence of indulgences, no pretence of an ar-
gument in justification of them ; the whole matter is so foul,
and yet so notorious, that the novelty of it is plainly acknow-
ledged by their most learned men, and but faintly denied by
the bolder people that care not what they say. So that I
shall account the main point of indulgences to be (for aught
yet appears to the contrary) gained against the Church of
Rome.

But there is another appendant question, that hap-
pens in by the by ; nothing to the main inquiry, but a par-
ticular instance of the usual ways of earning indulgences,
viz. by going in pilgrimages ; which very particularly I af-
firmed to be reproved by the ancient fathers : and particularly
by St. Gregory Nyssen, in a book or epistle of his written
wholly on this subject (so I said), and so Possevine calls it,
' librum contra peregrinationes ; the book against pilgrim-
ages.' The epistle is large and learned, and greatly dissua-
sive of Christians from goingin pilgrimage to Jerusalem. " Do-
minus profectionem in Hierosolyma inter recte facta, quae eo
(viz. ad regni coelorum haereditatem consequendam) dirigant,
non enumeravit ; ubi beatitudinem annunciat, tale studium
talemque operarn non est complexus." And again : " Spiri-
tualem noxam affricat accuratum vitae genus insistentibus.
Non est ista tanto digna studio, imo est vitanda summo
opere." And if this was directed principally to such persons,
who had chosen to live a solitary and private life ; yet that
was, because such strict and religious persons were those
whose false show of piety he did, in that instance, reprove;
but he reproves it by such arguments all the way, as concern
all Christians, but especially women ; and answers to an ob-
jection made against himself for going ; which, he says, he
did by command, and public charge, and for the service of
the Arabian churches, and that he might confer with the
bishops of Palestine. This epistle of St. Gregory Nyssen,
' de adeuntibusHierosolymam, 1 was printed at Paris, in Greek,



52 OF INDULGENCES.

by Gulielmus Morellus, and again published in Greek and
Latin with a double version by Peter du Moulin, and is
acknowledged by Baronius* to be legitimate; and therefore
there is no denying the truth of the quotation : the author of
the Letter had better to have rubbed his forehead hard, and to
have answered as Possevine did : y " Ab heereticis prodiit liber
sub nomine Gregorii Nysseni:" and Bellarmine, being pinch-
ed with it, says, " Forte non est Nysseni ; nee scitur quis ille
verterit in sermonern Latinum, et forte etiam non invenitur
Greece." All which is refuted by their own parties.

That St. Chrysostom was of the same judgment, appears
plainly in these few words : " Namque ad impetrandam nos-
tris sceleribus veniam, non pecunias impendere nee aliud
aliquid hujusmodi facere : sola sufficit bonee voluntatis inte-
gritas. Non opus est in longinqua peregrinando transire,
nee ad remotissimas ire nationes," 2 &c. St. Chrysostom, ac-
cording to the sense of the other fathers, teaches a religion
and repentance wholly reducing us to a good life, a service
perfectly consisting in the works of a good conscience. And
in the exclusion of other external things, he reckons this of
pilgrimages. For, how travelling into foreign countries for
pardon of our crimes differs from pilgrimages, I have not
been yet taught. a

The last b I mentioned is St. Bernard : his words are these :
" It is riot necessary for thee to pass over sea, to penetrate
the clouds, to go beyond the Alps? there is, I say, no great
journey proposed to you ; meet God within yourself, for the
word is nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, " c
&c. So the author of the latter acknowledges St. Bernard to
have said in the place quoted : yea, but says this objector,
* I might as well have quoted Moses, Deut. xiii. 14.' Well,
what if I had quoted Moses ; had it been ever the worse? But
though I did not, yet St. Bernard quoted Moses, and that, it
seems, troubled this gentleman. But St. Bernard's words
are indeed agreeable to the words of Moses, but not all out

x Tom vi. ad. A.D. 386. num. 39.

J Lib. iii. de Cultu Sanct, c. 8. sect. Ad Magdeburgenses.

1. Homil. in Philom. A. L. p. 9, n. 23. b A. L. ibid. p. 9, n. 24.

c Non oportet, 6 homo, niari.i transf'retare, non penetrare nubes, non transalpi-
nare necesse est. Non grandis, inquam, tibi ostenditur via : usque temetipsum
occurrere Deo tuo.



OF INDULGENCES. 53

the same ; for Moses made no prohibition of going to Rome
which I suppose St. Bernard meant by ' transalpinare.'

There remains in A. L. d yet one cavil, but it is a question
of diligence, and not to the point in hand. The authority of
St. Austin I marked under the title of his sermon * de Mar-
tyribus.' But the gentleman, to shew his learning, tells us
plainly that " there is but one in St. Austin's works with that
title, to wit, his one hundred and seventeenth sermon ' de
Diversis,' and in that there is not the least word to any such
purpose." All this latter part may be true, but the first is a
great mistake ; for if the gentleman please to look in the
Paris edition of St. Austin, 1571, torn. 10, p. 277, he shall find
the words I have quoted. And whereas he talks of one hun-
dred and seventeen sermons ' de Diversis,' and of one only
sermon 'de Martyribus,' I do a little wonder at him to talk,
so confidently ; whereas in the edition I speak of, and which
I followed, there are but forty-nine sermons, and seventeen
under the title ' de Diversis,' and yet there are six ser-
mons that bear the title ' de Martyribus,' but they are to be
found under the title ' de Sanctis ; ' so that the gentleman
looked in the wrong place for his quotation ; and if he had
not mistaken himself, he could have had no colour for an
objection. But for the satisfaction of the reader ; the words
are these in his third sermon ' de Martyribus Diversis :' " Non
dixit ' vade in orientem, et qusere justitiam ; naviga usque ad
occidentem, ut accipias indulgentiam.' Dimitte iuimico tuo
et dimittetur tibi : indulge et indulgetur tibi : da et dabitur
tibi ; nihil a te extra te quaerit. Ad teipsum et ad conscien-
tiam tuam te Deus dirigit. In te enim posuit quod requi-
rit." But now let it be considered, that all those charges,
which are laid against the Church of Rome and her greatest
doctors respectively in the matter of indulgences, are found
to be true ; and if so, let the world judge, whether that doc-
trine and those practices be tolerable in a Christian Church.

But that the reader may not be put oif with a mere de-
fence of four quotations, I shall add this ; that I might have
instanced in worse matters made by the popes of Rome to
be the pious works, the condition of obtaining indulgences.
Such as was the bull of Pope Julius the Second, giving
indulgence to him thatmeetinga Frenchman should kill him,
and another for the killing of a Venetian. 6 But we need not

d Ibid. n. 25. De Regim. Prin. lib. iii. c. 10. inter opuscula, a. 20.



54 OF INDULGENCES.

to wonder at it, since, according to the doctrine of Thomas
Aquinas, " we ought to say, that in the pope is the fulness
of all graces ; because he alone bestows a full indulgence of
all our sins ; so that what we say of our chief Prince and
Lord (viz. Jesus Christ), does fit him ; for ' we all received of
his fulness.'" Which words, besides that they are horrid
blasphemy, are also a fit principle of the doctrine and use
of indulgences to those purposes, and in that evil manner, we
complain of in the Church of Rome.

I desire this only instance may be added to it, that Pope
Paul the Third, he that convened the Council of Trent, and
Julius the Third, for fear, as I may suppose, the council should
forbid any more such follies, for a farewell to this game, gave
an indulgence f to the fraternity of the sacrament of the altar,
or of the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ, of such a
vastness and unreasonable folly, that it puts us beyond the
question of religion, to an inquiry, whether it were not done
either in perfect distraction, or, with a worse design, to make
religion to be ridiculous, and expose it to a contempt and
scorn. The conditions of the indulgence are, either to visit
the Church of St. Hilary of Chartres, to say a ' Pater Noster'
and an ' Ave Mary' every Friday, or, at most, to be present at
processions and other Divine service upon ' Corpus Christi
day.' The gift is as many privileges, indults, exemptions,
liberties, immunities, plenary pardons of sins, and other spi-
ritual graces, as were given to the fraternity of the image of
our Saviour ' ad Sancta Sanctorum ; ' the fraternity of the
charity and great hospital of St. James in Augusta, of St. John
Baptist, of St. Cosmus and Damianus ; of the Florentine
nation, of the hospital of the Holy Ghost in Saxia, of the
order of St. Austin and St. Champ, of the fraternities of the
said city ; of the churches of our Lady ' de populo et verbo :'
and all those that were ever given to them that visited these
churches : or those which should be ever given hereafter.
A pretty large gift ! In which there were so many pardons,
quarter-pardons, half-pardons, true pardons, plenary pardons,
quarantines, and years of quarantines ; that it is a harder
thing to number them, than to purchase them. I shall
remark in these some particulars to be considered.

1. That a most scandalous and unchristian dissolution
and death of all ecclesiastical discipline, is consequent to the

' Impress. Paris, per Philippum Hotot. 1550.



OF INDULGENCES. 55

making all sin so cheap and trivial a thing ; that the horrible
demerits and exemplary punishment and remotion of scandal
and satisfactions to the Church, are indeed reduced to trifling
and mock penances. He that shall send a servant with a
candle to attend the holy sacrament, when it shall be carried
to sick people, or shall go himself; or, if he can neither go
nor send, if he say a ' Pater Noster' and an ' Ave;' he shall
have a hundred years of true pardon. This is fair and easy.
But then,

2. It would be considered what is meant by so many
years of pardon, and so many years of true pardon. I know
but of one natural interpretation of it ; and that it can
mean nothing, but that some of the pardons are but fan-
tastical, and not true : and in this I find no fault, save only
that it ought to have been said, that all of them are fan-
tastical.

3. It were fit we learned, how to compute four thousand
and eight hundred years of quarantines ; and remission of
a third part of all their sins ; for so much is given to every
brother and sister of this fraternity, upon Easter-day and
eight days after. Now if a brother needs not thus many, it
would be considered whether it do not encourage a brother
or a frail sister to use all their medicine and to sin more
freely, lest so great a gift become useless.

4. And this is so much the more considerable because
the gift is vast beyond all imagination. The first four days
in Lent they may purchase thirty-three thousand years of
pardon, besides a plenary remission of all his sins over and
above. The first week of Lenta hundred and three-and-thirty
thousand years of pardon, besides five plenary remissions
of all their sins, and two third parts besides, and the delivery
of one soul out of purgatory. The second week in Lent a
hundred and eight-and-fifty thousand years of pardon, be-
sides the remission of all their sins, and a third part besides;
and the delivery of one soul. The third week in Lent, eighty
thousand years, besides a plenary remission, and the delivery
of one soul out of purgatory. The fourth week in Lent, three-
score thousand years of pardon, besides a remission of two-
thirds of all their sins ; and one plenary remission and one
soul delivered. The fifth week, seventy-nine thousand years
of pardon, and the deliverance of two souls, only the two



56 OF INDULGENCES.

thousand seven hundred years that are given for the Sunday
may be had twice that day, if they will visit the altar twice ;
and as many quarantines. The sixth week two hundred arid
five thousand years, besides quarantines ; and four plenary
pardons. Only on Palm-Sunday, whose portion is twenty-
five thousand years, it may be had twice that day. And all
this is the price of him that shall, upon these days, visit the
altar in the Church of St. Hilary. And this runs on to the
Fridays, and many festivals and other solemn days in the
other parts of the year.

5. Though it may be, that a brother may not need all
this, at least at that time ; yet that there may be no insecu-
rity, the said popes give to every brother and sister of the
fraternity, plenary pardon and indulgence of all their sins
thrice in their life, upon what day and hour they please. I
suppose that one of the times shall be in the article of death ;
for that is the surest way for a weak brother. I have read, 5
that the popes do not only give remission of sins already
committed, but also of such as are to be committed. But
whether it be so or no, there is in the bulls of this frater-
nity as good provision; for he that hath a dormant faculty
for a plenary pardon lying by him to be used at what hour
he please, hath a bull beforehand for pardon of sins afterward
to be committed, when he hath a mind to it.

6. To what purpose is so much waste of the treasure of
the Church ? " Quorsum perditio heec ?" Every brother or
sister of this fraternity may have, for so many times visiting
the altar aforesaid, fourteen or fifteen plenary pardons. Cer-
tainly the popes suppose these persons to be mighty crimi-
nals, that they need so many pardons, so many plenaries.
But two alls of the same thing is as much as two nothings.
But if there were not infinite causes of fear, that very many
of them were nullities, and that none of them were of any
certain avail, there could be no pretence of reasonableness
in dispensing these jewels with so loose a hand, and useless
a freedom, as if a man did shovel mustard, or pour hogsheads
of vinegar, into his friend's mouth, to make him swallow a
mouthful of herbs.

7. What is the secret meaning of it, that in divers clauses
in their bulls' 1 of indulgences, they put in this clause, A

t Vide Revue du Cone, de Trent, lib. v. c. 1. b Bull. Julii III. de an Jubil. 1.



OF INDULGENCES. 57

pardon of all their sins, " be they never so heinous." The ex-
traordinary cases reserved to the pope ; and the consequent
difficulty of getting pardon of such great sins, because it
would cost much more money, was or might be some little
restraint to some persons from running easily into the most
horrible impieties ; but to give such a loose to this little,
and this last rein and curb; and by an easy indulgence to
take off all, even the most heinous sins, what is it but to
give the devil an argument to tempt persons, that have any
conscience or fear left, to throw off all fear and to stick at
nothing?

8. It seems hard to give a reasonable account, what is
meant by giving a plenary pardon of all their sins; and yet,
at the same time, an indulgence of twelve thousand years,
and as many quarantines ; it seerns the bounty of the Church
runs out of a conduit, though the vessels be full, yet the
water still continues running and goes into waste.

9. In this great heap of indulgences (and so it is in very
many other) power is given to a lay sister or brother to free
a soul from purgatory. But if this be so easily granted,
the necessity of masses will be very little ; what need is there
to give greater fees to a physician, when a sick person may
be cured with a posset and pepper ? The remedy of the way
of indulgences is cheap and easy, a servant with a candle, a
* Pater' and an ' Ave,' a going to visit an altar, wearing the
scapular of the Carmelites, or the cord of St. Francis : but
masses for souls are a dear commodity, fivepence or six-
pence is the least a mass will cost in some places ; nay, it
will stand in ninepence in other places. But then if the
pope can do this trick certainly, then what can be said to
John Gerson's question ?

Arbitrio Papa proprio si clavibus uti

Possit, cur sinit ut pcena pios cruciet?
Cur non evacuat loca purgandisanimabus

Tradita? [The answer makes up the tetrastic j]
Sed servus esse fidelis amat.

The pope may be kind, but he must be wise too ; ' a
faithful and wise steward ;' he must not destroy the whole
state of the purging Church; if he takes away all the fuel
from the fire, who shall make the pot boil ? This may be
done: " Ut possit superesse quos peccasse pceniteat ;" sin-
ners must pay for it, in their bodies or their purses.



58 OF PURGATORY.



SECTION II.
Of Purgatory.

THAT the doctrine of purgatory, as it is taught in the Roman
Church, is a novelty, and a part of their new religion, is suf-
ficiently attested by the words of the Cardinal of Rochester,
and Alphonsus a Castro ; whose words I now add, that he
who pleases, may see how these men would fain impose their
new fancies upon the Church, under pretence and title
of ancient and catholic verities. The words of Roffensis in
his eighteenth article against Luther are these :' " Legat qui
velit, Grsecorum veterum commentaries, et nullum, quantum
opinor, aut quam rarissimum, de purgatorio sermonem inve-
niet. Sed neque Latini simul omnes, at sensim hujus rei
veritatem conceperunt; He that pleases, let him read
the commentaries of the old Greeks, and, as I suppose, he
shall find none, or very rare mention or speech of purgatory.
But neither did all the Latins at one time, but by little and
little, conceive the truth of this thing." And again : " Ali-
quandiu incognitum fuit, sero cognitum universae ecclesiae.
Deinde quibusdam pedetentim, partirn ex Scripturis, partim
ex revelationibus creditum fuit; For some while it was
unknown ; it was but lately known to the catholic Church.

1 A Letter to a Friend touching Dr. Taylor, sect. 4, n. 26, p. 10, which if
the reader please for his curiosity or his recreation to see, he shall find this
pleasant passage, of deep learning and subtle observation : " Dr. Taylor had said
that Roffensis and Polydore Virgil affirm, that whoso searcbeth the writings of
the Greek fathers, shall find that none, or very rarely any one of them, ever makes
mention of purgatory. Whereas Polydore Virgil affirms no such thing ; nor doth
Roffensis say, that very rarely any one of them mentions it, but only, that in these
ancient writers he shall find none, or but very rare mention of it." If this man



Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe whole works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor (Volume 11) → online text (page 6 of 50)