Page images

fected, put into a ferment, and inflamed. A new order of things w the result; powerful republics were founded. Their principles, s more powerful than their arms, were introduced into all nations.

Her arose great revolutions, and those which may yet arise doubtless inc culable. pp. 97, 98.

The political condition of the nations of Europo czternally, i also been much changed by the influence of the Reformatio Most of them had to some extent learned their own strength, a how to estimate and direct their own resources, before the Reform tion ; but there had been nothing to awaken a common sympath or to call into existence extensive alliances for the general good.They were like so many separate and isolated families, acquainti with their own internal regulatiors, but feeling no interests in con mon with each other. The crusades had for a time presented common point of action, around which most of the nations ha been gathered ; but, as their object involved no great and perma nent principles of public concern, as soon as this dream of supei stitious enthusiasm vanished, all fell back again upon their own re sources and separate interests. But the stirring scenes and hig purposes of the Reformation brought men and nations together and bound by deep sympathies in a common object those who hai before felt and acted only for themselves. A principle of greate power than patriotism was at work, forcing out the feelings of the heart beyond the boundaries of home and country. A protestan felt a stronger attachment to one of kindred spirit, whether of Eng. land, Germany, Holland or Geneva, than to his popish neighbor oi countryman. The triumph of this cause was more grateful to him than the victories of his own sovereign, who was in league with the papacy. As the result of these new interests co-operating or opposing, combinations and alliances were formed, solemn leagues and treaties were made ; and thus by setting off one nation against another, Europe at length came to discover that “ balance of power" which has ever since been held of so great importance in all the politics of that continent. The several states had before found their own centers of gravity. That of the whole European system was now known; and the new revolutions around it greatly changed the relative position of its different portions. Says Mons. Villers :

• The new interests to both princes and nations, produced in men's minds by this religious reformation, became a general concern of christianity in the aggregate, and no longer depended on the localities of any country in particular, but exceeded them all in importance. States which had scarcely existed to each other, then began to feel a sympathy which led to a union, France formed an alliance with Sweden, England with Holland, Bavaria with Spain. Their views being enlarged,

enlarged also their foresight, and gave birth to precautions. Their inrests having become common, required common measures. The desans of the House of Austria were discovered, and openly resisted. 1. find a counterpoise which could balance this ambitious power, and perent it from rising at pleasure, became an affair of the utmost imcrtance to the newly coalesced Europe. Hence the fruitful idea of an equilibrium between the European powers,-an idea which was the both of the negotiations at Westphalia, and has become a principal conmaderation in all the public affairs of Europe, since the treaty which was the result of it.'


110. Some of the most striking changes in this equipoise of Europe, and in the transposition of weights to secure the proper balance, are thus stated in the Essay :

From 1520 to 1556, the colossal increase of the Austrian power **s the first cause which showed other states the necessity of a closer a'liance among them.” The Reformation came and supplied the means, and by its assistance the European opposition was organized with facibly. Henry VIII, who might have held an honorable rank in it, drew back; he dreaded appearing subordinate to Francis I, and at length was too much engaged with his mistresses and theology. In revenge, France introduced the Ottoman power into the new system. France, Turkey, and the Protestant princes of the north, were the first united mass destined to be a counterpoise to German Austria, Spain, and Burgundy. These two masses formed themselves, one around the Protestant party, and the other around the Catholic party, in Germany.' p.112.

From 1556 to 1603, Philip II. of Spain, and the Catholics, were on one side, and Elizabeth of England, and the protestants, on the other. During the period from 1603 to 1648, occurred the thirty years war between the Emperor of Germany and the protestant princes of Europe. At its commencement Spain was inert, England agitated by internal convulsions, and France recruiting its exhausted strength. At length Austria, Spain, the pope, Bavaria, and some of the small Catholic states, were on the one side; France, Sweden, and the protestant states of Germany on the other. These remained in the same relation to each other at the end of this period, closing with the celebrated treaty of peace at Westphalia, 1648. Afterwards “Sweden declined, and France arose, and new variations supervened in the equilibrium of Europe. But it is not necessary to follow them. From this time the immediate influence of the Reformation ceases to be manifest in it. Religious interest is no longer the dominant principle of activity in cabinets.”

In relation to the second part of the question,---the influence of the Reformation on the progress of knowledge,-our remarks must be

brief, although this is perhaps the most interesting portion of the subject.


The rigid censorship maintained by the church of Rome repressed all inquiry, and crushed all freedom of thought. The church said, believe ; and brought its anathemas, flames, and gibbets, to enforce a blind obedience. Luther cried, think, examine ; and poured the light of truth upon the surrounding darkness. The human mind was thus aroused from its longslumber, and awakened to vigorous action. Rome shut the bible, forbad its common use, and discountenanced all critical research even by the learned. The teaching of Greek and Hebrew was prohibited by all the power of the church, and thus was all progress in theological science effectually prevented. The Reformation threw down at once all these barriers. The bible was given to the people, and as they understood and felt its lifegiving spirit, and sought for further instruction, translations, paraphrases, commentaries, notes, etc., were written and published The study of antiquities, of the theory of interpretation, with its reduction to practice, and of ecclesiastical history, were forthwith prosecuted, giving rise to voyages, travels, and extensive investigations, which have thrown light upon every department of science.

At Rome, the end of all philosophy was to support the arrogant pretensions of the hierarchy. The Aristotelian system, perverted by the most subtle ingenuity, was the grand instrument of accomplishing this purpose ; hence all the acute but sophistical quibbling of the schoolmen. This philosophy was subverted by the spirit and power of free inquiry, and in its place have come the systeins of Bacon, Newton, Locke, and others. In moral philosophy, the ethics of the bible have taken the place of the wretched casuistry of the schools; and from morals as relates to individuals, the human mind has proceeded to morals as relates to states and empires ; and thus have they discovered the great principles of international law, founded upon the particular rights and reciprocal duties of different nations. The canon law was rigorously separated from the civil law, on which it had long been making encroachments ; its dreadful cruelties and empty superstitions abolished ; and thus law became more simple, legislation better understood, and the moral influence of the statute-book more extensively and powerfully felt; virtue increased and crimes diminished. A note by the author of the essay, in relation to the proportion of crimes, is highly interesting, and the facts it contains are most striking.

* Rebmann, president of the special tribunal at Mayence, speaking of the department on the Rhine, says: " The number of malefactors in the Catholic and Protestant cantons, is in the proportion of four, if not of six to one. At Augsburgh, the territory of which offers a mixture of the two religions, of 946 malefactors convicted in the course of ten years, there were only 194 Protestants, that is to say, less than one in five. The celebrated philanthropist Howard observed, that the prisons of Italy were incessantly crowded ; at Venice he has seen three or four hundred prisoners in the principal prison ; at Naples 980 in the succursal prison alone, called Vicaria ; while he affirms that the prisons of Berne we almost always empty; that in those of Lausanne he did not find any prisoner, and only three individuals in a state of arrest at Schaff

hausen. Here are facts ; I do not draw any conclusion.' p. 139, note. - The improvements in agriculture and rural economy which have

arisen from the invigorating influence of the Reformation, are as wonderful as its many other effects. The hand of man laboring for himself is powerful. Where it is free and guided by instruction, beauty and plenty spring up as if by enchantment beneath its touch. Thus says our author:

"The contrast of these indubitable effects of the two religions is more particularly observable in Germany and Switzerland, where the different territories are intermixed, causing the traveler to pass continually from a Catholic to a Protestant country.

Does he meet with a miserable med cottage, covered with thatch; and fields badly kept; wretched, rude peasants, and many beggars ; he will be in little danger of erring, ir be conjecture that he is in Catholic country. If, on the contrary, Beat pleasant houses are seen, offering the spectacle of affluence and industry ; the fields well enclosed; a culture well understood, it is very probable that he is among Protestants.? • Thus nature seems to change ber aspect, as he who gives her laws enjoys bis liberty more or less, and exercises all his powers in a greater or less degree.' p. 141.

As all science has changed, so the whole system of education has also been new-modeled. History, instead of being a mere relation of events and incidents, has been treated philosophically, resolving actions into their causes and tracing them out in their moral effects. Mathematical and geometrical science has felt the same quickening influence; and the belles letters have been promoted, not only by the general excitement of mind, but by the cultivation of a better taste

, in consequence of the revived study of the classics, and especially of the original scriptures. Philology and grammar have received their full portion of influence from the various translations which the bible has in consequence undergone ; and indeed it is scarcely possible to mention any science that has not been either brought into being, or greatly enlarged, as an immediate or proximate result of the Reformation. The fine arts, painting and sculpture

, constitute perhaps the only exception. These proud accompaniments of a gaudy religion, to the embellishments of which Rome was indebted for all that was splendid and imposing in her services, have probably been depressed by the simplicity and spirituality of protestantism, although this is by no means the necessary result; and the want of distinguished artists may doubtless, in some degree, also be attributed to the peculiarities of character among those nations who have become protestant.

Other consequences might be more fully traced, by following in detail the wars which ensued; the different theological set and the spirit of bitter noisy controversy in which they allou themselves to be drawn ; the connection of Romanismn with! secret societies of that period, and the effect of the Reformati upon them, as Free-masons, Rosicrucians, Mystics, Illuminati, et to all of which a portion of the essay is devoted; but we hast to a close, by making a few reflections which an examination this subject has excited in our minds. Io view of these facts » would call the attention of our readers to the following particula

1. The unchanging principles of popery are destrictive of civil and religious liberty. We have only to look back upon i bistory, and we learn both its character and tendency. For centi ries, during the reign of its unchecked power, it permitted no gover ment to be free. It went systematically and deliberately to the wor of putting out the light of truth, and then wrapped its chains thicke and stronger around the nations. Kinys, with the most abject an servile prostration, did obeisance to the pope ; and nations wer the prey of despotism or anarchy, as he determined to uphold o depose their sovereigns. It is idle to suppose that Romanism ha changed its character. In those particulars which render it hostile to liberty, it does not admit of change. It may perhaps vary some of its ostentatious forins, and superstitious ceremonies, without encroaching upon its boasted infallibility. The distinction which it claims, for its own convenience, between doctrines and opinions, may perhaps allow some change in that which has only come in under the influence of incidental speculation. But if there is any thing fundamental to the whole tyrannical system of popery, it is its denial of the right of private interpretation, --its unwavering requisition that the bible shall be understood in the very sense which its own authority has settled; and under the pains of heretical expurgation in this life, and the fires of purgatory in the next, its subjects shall believe in exact accordance with the doctrines which its own infallibility has imposed. So long as this is one of the unchanging dogmas of that church, and without this the whole superstructure of its infallibility falls to the ground,) it can be no otherwise than in deadly hostility to every principle of liberty, and the rights of freemen. In matters of religion it will continue to bind the intellect and the conscience; nor can it separate, in its despotic influence, matters of religion from civil government and social relations. The bible applies its principles to families and nations; but, by virtue of the usurped authority of infallible interpretation, the Romish see claims the right to absolve children from all obligation to their parents, and subjects from all allegiance to their governments. Both in matters of religion and of civil polity, it maintains its still unrelinquished claim, to cut every thing to its

« PreviousContinue »