F. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) Painter.

Luther on education; including a historical introduction, and a translation of the reformer's two most important educational treatises online

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England — were acquiring a strong self-consciousness.
It was a part of that general progress manifest in all
Europe toward the close of the Middle Ages. In
every country a spirit of patriotism was awakened — a
spirit that opposed all interference on the part of a
foreign prince, even when clothed with supreme eccle-
siastical dignity. Papal pecuniary exactions met with
increasing opposition ; papal bulls were sometimes dis-
regarded or resisted; reverence for the Pope as head
of the Church declined among princes and people.
Louis XII., of France, had a medal struck with the in-
scription, " Pcrdam Babylonis 7iomen — I will destroy
the name of Babylon." Maximilian, of Austria, speak-
ing of Leo X., by whom he had been deceived, said,
" This Pope also, in my opinion, is a scoundrel. I
may now say that never in my life has any Pope kept
his faith or his word with me." During the so-called
Babylonish captivity of the Papacy at Avignon, in the
fourteenth century, its sympathy with French interests,
and its subserviency to French kings, intensified this
national feeling against the Popes. The literary mind
in the several countries of Europe led a reaction
against Roman domination. The vernacular languages,
which toward the close of the Middle Aees becran to


assume a literary form, were made the media of sharp
and unceasing attacks upon the avarice, tyranny, and
degeneracy of the papal hierarchy. Walther von der
Vogelweide, the best of the Minnesingers of the thir-
teenth century, says that " the Pope himself increases
infidelity, for he leads tHe clergy by the devil's rein ;
they are full of vices, they do not practice what they
preach, and he who is a Christian in words only, and
not in deeds, is really half a heathen." In the Pro-
logue to the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer, along with an
inimitable portrait of a faithful village pastor, depicts
the coarse sensuality of a friar, and the shallow fraud
of a pardoner or indulgence vender :

" Whose walet lay biforn hym in his lappe
Brimful of pardon, come from Rome all hot.

* * * * *

But of his craft, fro Berwyk unto Ware
Ne was there such another pardoner ;
For in his male^ he had a pilwebeer*
Which, that he seyde, was oure lady veyl ;
He said he had a gobet^ of the seyl
Thatte St. Peter hadde whan that he wente
Upon the sea, til Jhesu Crist hym hente.*
He had a croys of latoun^ full of stones
And in a glas he hadde pigges bones."

^Valise. ^ Pillow-case. ** Piece. *Took.
* A kind of tinned iron.



Thus, on every hand, was gathering a storm that
needed only a favorable opportunity to burst upon

5. Behind all these causes we must not forget the
providence of God. He is ever present in the great
movements of succeeding generations. Though His
presence is unrecognized by the heedless multitude, it
becomes manifest to the devout inquirer who, turning
away from the distracting turmoil of human events,
seeks in all things an ultimate cause and an intelligent
purpose. God in history is a great fact, an invaluable
lesson coming to us from the Old Testament, a mighty
truth that gathers up what is seemingly fragmentary
in human affairs, and binds them together in the sym-
metry of a majestic temple. Not alone for the advent
of Christ, but for every significant epoch in the world's
progress, there is a " fullness of time." The history
of mankind is not a chaos. The hand of God is
especially manifest in the Reformation. The favoring
circumstances that we have considered, were not, as
some believe, a fortuitous concurrence, but an intelli-
gent preparation for a new era of human advance-

When everything was ready, the reformatory work
began. Its immediate occasion was Tetzel's sale of
indulgences. According tfo the Romish faith, "an


indulgence is a remission of that temporal punish-
ment which, even after the sin is forgiven, we have
yet to undergo, either here or in purgatory."

The Church, it is claimed, has an inexhaustible
treasure of the merits of Christ and his saints, which
the Pope can draw upon at any time to make up
deficiencies in individual members. At the time of
the Reformation, this doctrine had given rise to gross
abuses. This fact was recognized by the Council of
Trent, which, after declaring that the use of indul-
gences should be retained in the Church, continues in
its decree : " Nevertheless, the Council desires that
moderation be shown in granting them, according to
the ancient and approved custom of the Church, lest
by too much laxity ecclesiastical discipline be weak-
ened. Anxious moreover to correct and amend the
abuses that have crept in, and by reason of which the
honorable name of indulgences is blasphemed by the
heretics, the Council determines generally by this
present decree, that all wicked gains accruing from
them, which have been the principal source of these
abuses, shall be wholly abolished." * The abuses
"proceeding from superstition, ignorance, and irrever-
ence" are referred by the Council to the several bish-

* Smets, Concilii Tridentini, Sessio XXV. Schafif. Creeds of
Christendom, Vol. II.


ops. Let US inquire a little more closely into the
nature of these abuses.

In order to provide funds for the completion of St.
Peter's at Rome, Leo X. had ordered a sale of in-
dulgences. In 15 17 John Tetzel, acting as agent for
Albert, elector of Mayence, appeared at Jiiterbock, not
far from Wittenberg, and proceeded to dispose of his
wares. Shrewd and unscrupulous, he extolled the
virtue of indulgences in a shameless and even blas-
phemous manner. " His red cross with the Pope's
arms," Tetzel said, " was as efficacious as the cross of
Christ. In heaven he would not exchange places with
St. Peter, for he had saved more souls with his indul-
gences than the apostle had saved with his gospel.
The grace of indulgences was precisely the grace by
which man was reconciled with God. Sorrow for sin
was not necessary when an indulgence was bought ;
and as soon as the money rattled in the chest, the soul
leaped from purgatory into heaven. Such great grace
and power had been conferred upon him at Rome, that
if any one had done violence to the Virgin Mary, he
could forgive it, together with future sins, if the of-
fender paid a sufficient sum of money."* Without re-

* Matthesius, Leben Luther's, Zweites Predigt. " See also
Meurer, Life of Luther, and D^Aubigne, History of Reforma-


pentance, all the penalties of sin were removed, and
heaven was gained by money. Tetzel had even fixed
a scale of prices for particular sins. For polygamy the
charge was six ducats; for sacrilege and perjury, nine
ducats ; for murder, eight ducats ; for witchcraft, two
ducats. Such were some of the abuses of this infamous

Luther at this time was a professor, preacher, and
pastor at Wittenberg. In the confessional, some of his
people who had attended Tetzel's auction acknowl-
edged gross sins — adultery, licentiousness, usury, ill-
gotten gains ; and when Luther sought to correct them,
they refused to amend their lives. They appealed to
their indulgences, which Luther would not recognize ;
and in the language of the Scripture he declared unto
them, " Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Having thus seen the demoralizing effect of indulgences
upon the religious life, and having also learned of
Tetzel's blasphemous pretensions, he prepared ninety-
five theses or propositions which were aimed at the
abuses of the traffic, but which in reality undermined
the doctrine of indulgences itself. " When our Lord
and Master Jesus Christ said. Repent ye, etc., he meant
that the whole earthly life of believers should be a re-
pentance (Thesis i). . . The Pope has neither the will
nor the power to remit any penalties, except those


which he has imposed by his owri authority, or by that
of the canons of the Church (5). . . Those preachers
of indulgences are in error who say that, by the indul-
gences of the Pope, a man is loosed and saved from
all punishment (21). . . They preach the vain fancies
of man, who say that the soul flies out of purgatory
as soon as the money rattles in the chest (27). . .
Those who believe that through letters of pardon they
are made sure of their own salvation, will be eternally
damned along with their teachers (32). We must
especially beware of those who say that these pardons
from the Pope are that inestimable gift of God, by
which man is reconciled to God (33). . . They preach
no Christian doctrine who teach that sorrow or repent-
ance is not necessary for those who buy souls out of
purgatory, or buy confessional licenses (35). Every
Christian who truly repents of his sins has of right
plenary remission of pain and guilt, even without let-
ters of pardon (36). . . To say that the cross set up
among the insignia of the papal arms is of equal power
with the cross of Christ, is blasphemy (79)."

These theses were nailed on the door of the church
of All Saints, at Wittenberg, Oct. 31, 15 17, and Luther
offered to defend them against all comers. A papal
agent and an accepted doctrine were attacked. In the
issue thus joined, the Reformation had its beginning.


Summing up the results of this inquiry, we may say
that the Reformation was due chiefly to the following
co-operative causes :

1. A reaction, brought about by the increased intel-
ligence of the people, against ecclesiastical oppression.

2. The corrupt condition of the Church in doctrine
and practice.

3. The external character imposed upon Christianity
by the Papacy.

4. The pretensions of the Popes to temporal power
in the presence of a growing national spirit.

5. Back of these causes, the providence of God,
which arranged the " fullness of time," and raised up
the proper agent.



THE Papacy must be distinguished from the Roman
Catholic Church. According to authoritative
Catholic standards, the Church is composed of all the
faithful who have been baptized, profess the same doc-
trine, partake of the same sacraments, and are gov-
erned by one visible head, the Pope. Accepting this
definition, external and defective as it is, we cheerfully
recognize in the Roman Catholic communion the ex-
istence of evangelical piety. At the present time, as
in the past, it contains many God-fearing men and
women. The Papacy is the governing power of the
Church. In its aims and methods, and in some of its
teachings, even when administered by pious men, it is
mischievous, tyrannical, and anti-Christian. It is the
relation of the Papacy to popular education that is to
be considered. While the Roman Church as a whole
entertains the same views, it is not primarily responsi-
ble for them. The Church simply obeys the orders
of its official leaders.

The Papacy, with all its boasted unity, has not al-


ways been at one with itself. Two antagonistic views
have existed for centuries in regard to the powers of
the See of Rome. The Gallican or episcopal view,
represented by many distinguished prelates and de-
fended by the Councils of Constance and Basel, makes
the Church the ultimate source of authority. The
Pope is but the administrative head of the Church..
The Church finds utterance in its General Councils,
which are superior to the Pope, and competent to pass •
laws binding upon him. This view restricts the Pope's
jurisdiction to spiritual things, and forbids his interfer-
ence in political affairs. It harmonizes papal suprem-
acy with national independence. It is called Gallican,
because its exemplification and its leading advocates
as Gerson and Bossuet, were found in France.

The opposite of Gallicanism is Ultramontanism.
The Ultramontane view makes the Pope the vicar of
Christ on earth. As such he is the source of all
power, both spiritual and temporal. The Church is
under his absolute control. In his official utterances,
he is incapable of erring. Princes are bound to obey
him ; and when he deems it desirable for the interests
of the Church, he may resist or depose them. All
episcopal authority is derived from him. It is his pre-
rogative to call Councils, to watch over their proceed-
ings, and to give validity to their decrees. He is the



universal teacher of the Church, the authoritative in-
terpreter of Scripture, and the source of all doctrine.
When the decree of papal infallibility was passed by
the Vatican Council in 1870, Ultramontanism was
given a permanent ascendency. On this line the
Roman Church is now working out its destiny. It is
the purpose of the Papacy to secure universal suprem-
acy ; and it is this fact that renders it a constant men-
ace and danger to existing institutions.

The organization of the Church, which embodies
the practical wisdom of ages, is exceedingly compact.
The laity are bound to obey the priest ; the priest, the
bishop ; and the bishop, the Pope. This arrangement
is supported in a surprising manner by doctrines,
oaths, and penalties, and is designed to give the Pope
absolute control of the clergy and laity throughout
the world.

In the "Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council"
of 1870, it is said that "all the faithful of Christ must
believe that the holy Apostolic See and the Roman
pontiff possesses the primacy over the world, and that the
Roman pontiff is the successor of the blessed Peter,
Prince of Apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ, and
head of the whole Church, and father and teacher of
all Christians; and that full power was given to him in
blessed Peter to rule, feed, and govern the universal


Church by Jesus Christ our Lord." A careful reading
of these decrees in the hght of history fully justifies
Mr. Gladstone's judgment, that they " in the strictest
sense establish for the Pope supreme command over
loyal and civil duty."* Every Catholic layman,
whether he realizes it or not, is bound by his connec-
tion with the Church to yield in all things obedience
to the Pope. His ballot and the education of his chil-
dren are subject to the Roman pontiff In view of
these facts, Bismarck was right when he said in 1875,
" This Pope, this foreigner, this Italian, is more power-
ful in this country than any one person, not excepting
even the King."

The authority of the Pope over the clergy is con-
firmed by an oath. After requiring fidelity and obedi-
ence to the Roman pontiff, the form of oath continues:
"The rights, honors, privileges and authority of the
holy Roman Church, of our lord the Pope, and his
aforesaid successors, I will endeavor to preserve, de-
fend, increase, and advance. I will not be in any
counsel, action, or treaty, in which shall be plotted
against our said lord, and the said Roman Church,
any thing to the hurt or prejudice of their persons,
rights, honor, state, or power ; and if I shall know of
any such thing to be treated by any whatsoever, I will

* Vaticanism, p. 7.


hinder it to my power ; and as soon as I can, I will
signify it to our said lord, or to some other, by whom
it may come to his knowledge . . . Heretics, schis-
matics, and rebels to our said lord or his aforesaid
successors, I will to my power persecute and oppose."*
The Constitution of the United States forbids the
establishment of a state religion, and guarantees lib-
erty of conscience, and freedom of the press. Our
naturalization laws require that "the alien seeking to
be naturalized shall make oath that he will support
the Constitution of the United States, and that he
absolutely and entirely renounces and abjures all
allegiance and fidelity to every foreign prince, poten-
tate, or sovereignty, particularly the state or sove-
reignty of which he has been a subject." Our institu-
tions are opposed to the principles of the Papacy.
No Roman prelate of foreign birth can take the nat-
uralization oath without perjury or disloyalty to the
Pope. In holding to Ultramontanism, the Roman
clergy of this country are a body of aliens, whose
principles are at war with American institutions.
The doctrines and discipline of the Roman Church

* Pontificale Romanum. The last sentence in the original
reads : " Haereticos, Schismaticos et Rebelles eidem Domino
nostro vel successoribus praedictis pro posse persequar et im-


are marvelously adapted to maintain and perpetuate
the power of the Papacy. A hierarchy is established
between the laity and God — a hierarchy through
which as a channel salvation is communicated. The
sacrifice of the mass is the central thing in worship.
By means of this sacrifice, the priest makes an offer-
ing to God for the sins of the living and the dead.
According to the doctrine of indulgences, the Pope
can draw upon the treasury of supererogatory merits
to supply the deficiencies of needy members. Through
auricular confession, the priest obtains possession of
the inmost secrets of individuals and families. In the
case of disobedience, the Church imposes severe pen-
alties ; and where it is free to use external force, it
resorts at last to the stake. With such a system, it is
not strange that Roman ecclesiastics have almost un-
limited power over their members. Resistance to
priestly authority not only subjects the laity to tem-
poral persecution, but it also cuts them off, as they
are taught to believe, from the hope of eternal life.

In the light of the foregoing statement of facts and
principles, we are better prepared to consider a num-
ber of points relating directly or indirectly to popular
education, especially in this country,

I. The idea of temporal power is inherent in the
Ultramontane conception of the Papacy. As the rep-


resentative of God in the world, the Pope is logically
the source of all authority, whether ecclesiastical or
secular. Civil rulers are bound to obey him. In the
famous bull, Unam sanctam, of Boniface VIII., it is
declared that " The spiritual sword is to be used by
the Church, but the carnal sword for the Church.
The one in the hands of the priest, the other in the
hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and
pleasure of the priest. It is right that the temporal
sword and authority be subject to the spiritual power.
. . Moreover, we declare, say, define, and pronounce,
that every human being should be subject to the
Roman pontiff." The Papacy at the present day has
not receded from its claims during the Middle Ages.
The papal " Syllabus of Errors" of 1864, which must
now be regarded as an infallible and irreformable
declaration of principles, condemns the following
propositions : " 24. The Church has not the power of
availing herself of force, or any direct or indirect
temporal power . . , 27. The ministers of the Church
and the Roman pontiff ought to be absolutely ex-
cluded from all charge and dominion over temporal
affairs. . . 42. In the case of conflicting laws between
the two powers, the civil law ought to prevail." In
this same Syllabus it is declared that the Church is
absolutely independent of the State in the exercise of


authority; that the obhgations of Catholic teachers
and authors are not confined to dogmas of faith; that
Roman pontiffs have never exceeded the hmits of
their power; that the Church has the innate and le-
gitimate right of acquisition and possession; and that
the immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical per-
sons is not derived from the civil law. In these state-
ments the Papacy shows itself to-day what it has been
in the past ; it disowns no part of its history, and re-
affirms the preposterous claims of the Middle Ages.
It is a mistake to suppose that the Papacy has been
influenced in its essential principles by modern pro-
gress. Lulled by this belief, we have become some-
what indifferent to the schemes and efforts of its rep-
resentatives. In the " Syllabus of Errors " already
referred to, the proposition is explicitly condemned
that " the Roman pontiff can and ought to reconcile
himself to and agree with progress, liberalism, and
civilization, as lately introduced." By this declara-
tion the Pope shows himself out of sympathy with
modern civilization, and opposed to its broad and
tolerant spirit. He places himself at the head of a
reactionary body, that seeks to set up again the des-
potic reign of the dark ages.

2. The Papacy specifically repudiates religious free-
dom. This is consistent with its fundamental claim.


As the infallible source of all religious truth, it is
necessarily intolerant. The Syllabus condemns the
two following propositions : " 'j'j. In the present day,
it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion
shall be held as the only religion of the State, to the
exclusion of all other modes of worship. 78. Whence
it has been wisely provided by law, in some countries
called Catholic, that persons coming to reside therein
shall enjoy the public exercise of their own worship."
The desire and aim of the Papacy is to establish the
Roman Catholic religion in every country, to exclude
every other form of worship and belief, and if neces-
sary to impose its faith by force upon all men. The
Syllabus denies that " Every man is free to embrace
and profess the religion he shall believe true, guided
by the light of reason." Religious liberty is toler-
ated by the Papacy only where it can not be success-
fully resisted.

The Papacy has not relaxed in its bitterness toward
Protestantism. Protestants are declared to be exposed
to the pains of eternal damnation, and every prelate is
sworn to oppose them. The papal bull In Cocna
Domini clearly sets forth the attitude of the Roman
See toward heretics and infringers of its privileges.
This bull was formerly read every year at Easter time,
but in 1770, though its principles are still binding on


the Papacy, its annual promulgation was discontinued
from considerations of expediency. " In the name of
God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and by
the authority of the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul,
and by our own, we excommunicate and anathematize
all Hussites, Wyclifites, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvin-
ists, Huguenots, Anabaptists, and other apostates from
the faith ; and all other heretics, by whatsoever name
they are called or of whatsoever sect they may be.
And also their adherents, receivers, favorers, and gen-
erally any defenders of them ; with all who, without our
authority or that of the Apostolic See, knowingly read
or retain, or in any way or from any cause, publicly
or privately, or from any pretext, defend their books
containing heresy or treating of religion ; as also schis-
matics, and those who withdraw themselves, or recede
obstinately from their obedience to us or the existing
Roman pontiff." TJie Rambler, a Catholic paper of
London, is merely consistent and outspoken in the fol-
lowing extract: " Religious liberty, in the sense of a
liberty possessed by every man to choose his religion,
is one of the most wicked delusions ever foisted upon
this age by the father of all deceit. The very name of
liberty — except in the sense of a permission to do cer-
tain definite acts — ought to be banished from the do-
main of religion. It is neither more nor less than a


falsehood. No man has a right to choose his religioft.
None but an atheist can uphold the principles of relig-
ious liberty. Shall I foster that damnable doctrine
that Socinianism, and Calvinism, and Anglicanism,
and Judaism, are not every one of them mortal sins,
hke murder and adultery ? Shall I hold out hopes to
my erring Protestant brother that I will not meddle
with his creed if he will not meddle with mine?
Shall I tempt him to forget that he has no more right
to his religious views than he has to my purse, to my
house, or to my life-blood? No, Catholicism is the
most intolerant of creeds. It is intolerance itself; for it
is truth itself"* Roman Catholics in this country have
predicted that men now living would see the majority
of the people of the United States papists; that Cath-
olicism is destined to become the State religion ; and
that plans are in operation for gaining a complete vic-
tory over Protestantism.

3. The Papacy does not tolerate intellectual free-

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Online LibraryF. V. N. (Franklin Verzelius Newton) PainterLuther on education; including a historical introduction, and a translation of the reformer's two most important educational treatises → online text (page 2 of 16)