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confessions of the laity. This work was condemned by Pope Alexander IV., in the year 1252, and publicly burned, and the following year the author was banished from all the dominions of France, and a few years after, died a miserable exile (25).
29. In the year 1274, the sect of the Flagellants sprung up, and first made its appearance in Perugia, and thence spread on, even to Rome itself. A torrent of vice had overspread the Italian Peninsula about that time, and a violent spirit of reaction commenced. All were seized on by a new sort of devotion, and old and young, rich and poor, nobles, and plebeians—not alone men, but even ladies--terrified with the dread of Divine judgments, went about the streets, in procession, nearly naked, or, at least, with bared shoulders, beating themselves with scourges, and imploring mercy. Even the darkness of the night, and the rigors of winter,
, could not subdue their enthusiasm. Numerous bodies of penitents -sometimes even as many as twelve thousand—marched in procession, preceded by priests, and crosses, and banners; and the towns, and villages, and plains, resounded with their cries for mercy: A great change for the better in the morals of the people was the first fruit of this wonderful movement-enemies were reconciled, thieves restored their ill-gotten wealth, and all were reconciled to God, by confession. They used to scourge themselves twice a day, it is said, for thirty-three days, in honour of the thirty-three years of our Lord's life, and sung, at the same time,
some canticles in honour of his Sacred Passion. From Italy this practice spread into Germany, Poland, and other kingdoms; but, as neither the Pope nor the bishops approved of this public form of penance, it speedily degenerated into superstition. They said that no one could be saved unless by adopting this practice for a month; they used to hear the confessions of each other, and give absolution, though only lay people; and they had the madness to pretend that even the damned were served by their penance. Pope Clement VI. formally condemned this heresy, and wrote to the bishops of Germany, Poland, Switzerland, England, and France, on the subject, which proves how widely it was spread; he also wrote to all secular princes, calling on them to scatter these hypocrites, to disperse their conventicles, and, above all, to imprison their leaders (26)
30. Another sect—the offspring of an ill-judged piety alsosprung up in this century, that of the Fratricelli. This sect originated with Peter of Macerata and Peter of Fossombrone, two apostate Franciscan friars, who, playing on the simplicity of Pope Celestine V., got permission from him to lead an eremetical life, and observe the rule of St. Francis to the very letter. Boni
(25) Fleury, t. 12, l. 84, n. 30; Nat. Alex. t. 16, c. 3, ar. 7; Berti, Brev. Histor. sec. 13, c. 3. (26) Nat. Alex. t. 16, sec. 13, art. 6; Fleury, t. 13, l. 84, n. 62.
face VIII., Celestine's successor, soon saw that this institute was a source of error, which was spreading every day more widely, and he, accordingly, in express terms, condemned it; but, notwithstanding this sentence, the Fratricelli every day increased in numbers, and openly preached their tenets. John ÅXII., therefore, found it necessary to publish a Bull against them in 1318, and, as Noel Alexander relates, condemned the following errors adopted by them :-First.—They taught that there were two churches, one carnal, abounding in delights, and stained with crime, governed by the Roman Pontiff and his prelates; the other spiritual, adorned with virtue, clothed in poverty, to which they alone, and those who held with them, belonged, and of which they, on account of their spiritual lives, were justly the head. Second.—That the venerable churches, priests, and other ministers, were so deprived both of the power of order and jurisdiction, that they could neither administer the sacraments, nor instruct the people, as all who did not join their apostacy were deprived of all spiritual power, for (as they imagined), as with them alone holiness of life was found, so with them alone authority resided. Third.—That in them alone was the Gospel of Christ fulfilled, which hitherto was either thrown aside or totally lost among men (27).
HERESIES OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.
31. The Beghards and Beguines; their Errors condemned by Clement V. 32. Marsilius
of Padua, and John Jandunus; their Writings condemned as heretical by John XXII. 83. John Wickliffe, and the Beginning of bis Heresy. 34. Is assisted by John Ball ; Death of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 35. The Council of Constance condemos forty-five Articles of Wickliffe. 36, 37. Miraculous Confirmation of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. 38. Death of Wickliffe.
31. The Beghards and Beguines sprung up in Germany in this century. Van Ranst (1) draws a distinction between the good Beghards, who, in Flanders, especially, professed the third rule of the Order of St. Francis, and the heretics; and also between the Beguines, ladies, who led a religious life, though not bound by vows, and the heretical Beguines, whose conduct was not remarkable for purity. The religious Beguines deduce their origin either from St. Begghe, Duchess of Brabant, and daughter of Pepin, Mayor of the Palace to the King of Austrasia, or from Lambert le Begue, a pious priest, who lived in 1170. The origin of the name adopted by the heretics is uncertain; but the followers of the Fratricelli were called by that name in Germany and the Low Countries, as were also the followers of Gerard Segarelli and Dulcinus, who both were burned alive for their errors. The doctrines professed by the Beghards was as absurd as it was impious. Man, said they, might arrive at such
(27) Nat. Alex. loc. cit.
(1) Van Ranst, Hist. Meres. p. 221.
a degree of perfection, even in this life, as to become totally impeccable, and even incapable of advancing any more in grace, and when
, he arrives at this state, he should no longer fast or pray, for sensuality is then so entirely subjected to reason and the spirit, that anything the body desires may be freely granted to it. Those who have arrived at that pitch of perfection are no longer subject to human obedience, or bound by the precepts of the Church. Man can, even in the present life, being thus perfect, obtain final beatitude, as well as he shall obtain it hereafter in the realms of the blessed, for every intellectual nature is in itself blessed, and the soul does not require the light of glory to see God. It is only imperfect men who practise acts of virtue, for the perfect soul throws off virtue altogether. “Mulieris osculum (cum ad hoc natura non inclinet) est mortale peccatum, actus autem carnalis (cum ad hoc natura inclinet) peccatum non est maxime cum tentatur exercens." When the body of Christ is elevated, a perfect man should not show any reverence, for it would be an imperfection to descend from the summit of his contemplation, to think on the Eucharist or on the humanity of Christ. It is remarkable that many of their opinions were adopted by the Quietists in a subsequent century. Clement V. condemned these heretics in a General Council, held in Vienne, in Dauphiny, in 1311.
32. Marsilius Menandrinus, of Padua, and John Jandunus, of Perugia, also lived in this century. Marsilius published a book, called “ Defensorum Pacis," and Jandunus contributed some additions to it. The errors scattered through the work were condemned by Pope John XXII., as heretical, and refuted by several theologians, especially by Noel Alexander, who gives the following account of them (2). When Christ paid tribute to Cæsar, he did it as matter of obligation and not of piety, and when he ascended into heaven he appointed no visible head in the Church, left no Vicar, nor had St. Peter more authority than the rest of the Apostles. It is the Emperor's right to appoint, remove, and punish prelates, and when the Papal Sce is vacant he has the right of governing the Church. All priests, not even excepting bishops and the Pope, have, by the institution of Christ, equal authority and jurisdiction, unless the Emperor wishes that one should have more power than another. The whole united Church has not the
power to punish any man, and no bishop or meeting of bishops can inflict a sentence of excommunication or interdict, unless by authority of the Prince. Bishops, collectively or individually, can no more excommunicate the Pope than he can them. The dispensation for marriages, prohibited by human law alone, and not by Divine law, belongs, of right, to the Prince. To the Prince, by right, it belongs to give a definitive judgment, in regard to persons about to be
(2) Nat. Alex. l. 16, c. 3, ar. 13, p. 193.
ordained, and bishops should not ordain any one without his authority. We will now speak of Wickliffe, the leader of all the so-called Reformers.
33. John Wickliffe began to preach his heresy in 1374, some say because he was disappointed in the bishopric of Winchester. * He was learned in scholastic theology, which he taught at Oxford, and was a favourite preacher, always followed by the people. He led an austere life, was meanly clothed, and even went barefooted. Edward III. died, and was succeeded by his grandson, Richard, the son of Edward, the Black Prince, who was then only eleven years of age; and his uncle, the Duke of Lancaster, was a man of very lax sentiments in regard to religion, and extended his protection to Wickliffe, who openly preached his heresy (3). Gregory IX., who then governed the Church, complained to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, that they were not active enough in putting a stop to this plague, and he wrote on the same subject to the King and the University of Oxford (4). A Synod of Bishops and Doctors was accordingly summoned, and Wickliffe was cited to appear and account for himself; he obeyed the summons, and excused himself by explaining away, as well as he could, the obnoxious sense of his doctrine, and putting another meaning on it. He was then only admonished to be more prudent for the future—was absolved, and commanded to be silent from thenceforward (5)
34. Wickliffe was assisted by a wicked priest of the name of John Ball, who escaped from the prison where his bishop had confined him for his crimes, and joined the Reformers, who gladly received him. The subject of his discourses to the people was, that all ranks should be levelled, and the nobility and magistracy done away with, and he was joined by over an hundred thousand levellers. They laid their demands before the sovereign, but could not obtain what they desired; they considered that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, a good man in the main, but too weak a disposition to cope with the troubles of the times, influenced the sovereign's mind against them; they resolved on his death, therefore, and stormed the tower, where he had taken refuge, and found him praying, and recommending his soul to God. He addressed them mildly, and tried to calm their rage, but his executioner, John Sterling, stepped forward, and told him to prepare for death. The good bishop then confessed that
(3) Nat. Alex. s. 6, n. 1; Gotti, loc. cit. n. 2. (4) Gotti, ib. n. 3; Nat. Alex. 6, n. 1; Grav. loc. cit. (5) Nat. Alex. 3. 6, n. 1; Gotti, ibid. n. 5, & Grav. loc. cit.
* I believe the holy anthor was misled in this fact; it is generally supposed that the primary cause of his rancour against the monastic orders and the Court of home were his expulsion from the wardenship of Canterbury Hall, into which he had illegally intruded himself.--See LINGARI', vol. iv. c. 2.
he deserved that punishment for not being more vigorous in the discharge of his duties, perhaps, and stretched forth his neck to receive the fatal stroke; but whether it was that the sword was blunt, or the executioner awkward, his head was not cut off till he received eight blows (6). Berninus, quoting Walsingham (7), says, that the executioner was immediately possessed by the devil, and that he ran through the streets with the sword hanging round his neck, boasting that he had killed the archbishop, and entered the city of London to receive his reward ; this was, however, different from what he expected, for he was condemned to death, and Ball was hanged and quartered, at the same time, together with his accomplices.
35. William of Courtenay being appointed archbishop, in place of Sudbury, held a Synod in London, and condemned twenty-four propositions of Wickliffe—ten of them, especially—as heretical. These were afterwards condemned by the University of Paris, and by John XXIII., in a Council held at Rome, and, finally, in the eighth Session of the Council of Constance, in 1415, in which forty-five articles of Wickliffe were condenined-the greater part as heretical, the rest as erroneous, rash, &c.—and among these the twenty-four condemned previously were included. The following are the errors condemned by the Council, as Noel Alexander quotes them (8): The material substance of bread and wine remains in the Sacrament of the Altar, and the accidence of the bread is not without the substance in the Eucharist. Christ is not identically and really there in his proper presence. If a bishop or priest be in mortal sin he cannot consecrate, nor ordain, nor baptize. There is nothing in Scripture to prove that Christ instituted the Mass. God ought to obey the devil. If one be truly contrite, all external confession is superfluous and useless. If the Pope is foreknown and wicked, and, consequently, a member of the devil, he has no power over the faithful. After Urban VI. no other Pope should be elected, but, like the Greeks, we should live under our own laws. It is opposed to the Holy Scriptures that ecclesiastics should have possessions. No prelate should excommunicate any one, unless he knows him to be already excommunicated by God, and he who excommunicates otherwise is, by the act, a heretic, or excommunicated himself. A prelate excommunicating a clergyman who appeals to the King, or to the Supreme Council of the realm, is, by the fact, a traitor to the King and the realm. Those who cease to preach, or to listen to the Word of God, on account of the excommunication of man, are excommunicated, and in the judgment of God are traitors to Christ. Every deacon and priest has the power of preaching the Word of God, without any authority from the Holy See or a Catholic Bishop. No one is a civil lord-no
(6) Gotti, loc. cit. n. 5 ; Van Ranst, dicto, n. 241 ; Bernin. I. 3, c. 9. (7) Bernin. loc. cit. c. 9, con. Richari', Ann. 1381, ex Walsingh. (8) Nat. Alex. t. 16, sec. 14, c. 3, art. 22, s. 6; Gotti, ibid. ; Van Ranst.