By the treaty of Paris, A.D. 1229, the open war against the Languedocians was at all end, but the Inquisition continued its secret, and hardly less destructive crusade. It was not enough that the treachery of Arnold and the sword of Montfort had exterminated these heretics; steps must be taken to prevent their reappearance in all time coming. Dominic and his associates, although we have not seen them in the siege or in the battle, have been doing their dreadful work in secret. But now the Inquisition is to be canonized. At a Council held in Toulouse in November, 1229, it was ordered that a permanent Inquisition should be established against the heretics. One of the canons indirectly reveals the root of Satan's rage, and reflects great honor on the name of the Albigenses, but throws a deep shade of guilt on the name of their persecutors. It was discovered by the inquisitorial missionaries, that the Bible was the principal source of their opinions; therefore, to prevent its perusal by the people, the Council passed the following decree — "We prohibit the books of the Old and New Testament to the laity; unless, perhaps, they may desire to have the Psalter, or Breviary, or the Hours of the blessed Virgin Mary; but we expressly forbid their having the other parts of the Bible translated into the vulgar tongue." The scriptures had long been withheld from the laity, but this is the first direct prohibition that we meet with.
The papal interpretation of this canon, or justification of its severity, will give the reader a fair specimen of how the clergy quoted and applied scripture in those days. "If so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart." The people were as beasts because of their ignorance; the word of God was as a mountain, and, if they dared to touch it, they were to be instantly killed. Innocent had a general acquaintance with scripture and used it largely in his letters and edicts, after this style; but the divine words, though misapplied, had an immense power over the ignorant mind. One grand object of the Inquisition was to keep the people in utter darkness as to the divine mind on spiritual subjects, so that the power of the clergy might be unquestioned and absolute; or, rather, the power of Satan, the prince of darkness. Not only was all public teaching suppressed by the Council of Toulouse, but freedom of thought in secret was condemned under the severest penalties. It would be difficult to conceive of wickedness more daring: to withhold the word of life, to suffer the people to perish, and to make the possession of it a capital crime, is surely the height of diabolical enmity to Christ and precious souls. And these were the professed shepherds of the sheep, who swore they would lead them by the green pastures and the still waters. But we must not stay to moralize, although it is difficult to pass on without expressing the indignation which rises in the heart against such spiritual iniquity. But knowing their just sentence is with the living God, we may withhold ours.
The following brief notice of the statues against heresy, will give the reader some idea of the unrelenting cruelties of the Catholics, and the oppressed state of the feeble remnant in Languedoc. "The archbishops, bishops, and abbots, were to appoint in every parish one priest, and three or four lay inquisitors, to search all houses and buildings, in order to detect heretics, and to denounce them to the archbishop or bishop, the lord of his bailiff, so as to ensure their apprehension. The lords were to make the same inquisition in every part of their states. Whoever was convicted of harbouring a heretic forfeited the land to his lord, and was reduced to personal slavery. Every house in which a heretic was found was to be razed to the ground, the farm confiscated, the bailiff who should not be active in detecting heretics was to lose his office, and be incapacitated from holding it in future. Heretics who recanted were to be removed from their homes, and settled in Catholic cities, to wear two crosses of a different color from their dress, one on the right side, one on the left. Those who recanted from fear of death were to be imprisoned for life. All persons, males of the age of fourteen, females of twelve, were to take an oath of abjuration of heresy, and of their catholic faith; if absent, and not appearing within fifteen days, they were held suspected of heresy."
The above extracts from a Catholic code of persecution are sufficient to show the reader what the spirit of popery was in those days, and what it would be today if it had the same power. And these laws were considered by the legate not strict enough; and so he summoned a Council at Melun, where new statutes were enacted more rigorous and efficient. But as the heretics could only be judged by a bishop or an ecclesiastic, and the work becoming so laborious from the number of apprehensions, Pope Gregory IX. in the year 1233, committed this formidable jurisdiction into the hands of the Dominicans, and the Inquisition was then erected into a distinct institution. Having said so much about the Inquisition as to its origin, it may be interesting to glance for a moment at the gradual expansion of the inquisitorial idea in the church from its commencement.
Previous to the reign of Constantine, or to the union of Church and State, heresy and spiritual offenses were punished by excommunications only; but shortly after his death capital punishments were added. Theodosius is generally allowed to have been the first of the Roman Emperors who pronounced heresy to be a capital crime. But the inquisitors at that time did not belong to the clerical order, they were laymen appointed by Roman prefects. Priscillian, the Spanish heretic, was put to death about 385. Justinian in 529 enacted penal laws against heretics, and as centuries rolled onward, the proceedings against them were marked by increasing severity. It was not, however, as we have just seen, until the thirteenth century that the court of Inquisition was established by canon-law. Then it became a criminal tribunal, charged with the detection, prosecution, and punishment of heresy, apostasy, and other crimes against the established faith. Whether Dominic or Innocent is to have the credit of the invention, it evidently had its origin in the Albigensian war. The papal legate discovered that the open slaughter of heretics would never accomplish their utter extermination. This difficulty led to the creation of a new fraternity, called the order of the Holy Faith; the members of which were bound by solemn oaths to employ their utmost powers for the repression of free inquiry in matters of religion and for maintaining the unity of the faith, for the destruction of all heretics and for the rooting out of all heresy from the homes, the hearts, and the souls of men. But it was reserved for Gregory IX., in the Council of Toulouse, to fix the establishment of the Inquisition in the form of a tribunal, and at the same time to give it positive laws.
This terrible tribunal was gradually introduced into the Italian states, into France, Spain, and other countries; but into the British islands it never was allowed to force its way. In France and Italy it required strenuous and persevering efforts to organize and establish it; Germany successfully resisted a permanent Inquisition; in Spain, however, though it met with some opposition at first, it speedily gained a footing, and in time attained a magnitude which, from a variety of causes, it never reached in any other country. Gradually the authority of the inquisitors was extended, and they were called upon to pronounce judgment, not only upon the words and actions, but even upon the thoughts and intentions of the accused. During the fourteenth century, its progress was steady, whilst its rigor and energy were continually on the increase. But it was not till the close of the fifteenth century; when Isabella, wife of Ferdinand of Arragon, had ascended the throne of Castile, and when the different kingdoms of Spain — Castile, Navarre, Arragon, and Portugal — were united under these sovereigns, that the Inquisition became general in the country, and assumed that form which it retained until the period of its dissolution in 1808.
Under this head, as all know now, the darkest deeds, the most irresponsible tyranny and inhuman cruelties that ever blackened the annals of mankind, might be written; but lengthy details, however painfully interesting, would be out of place in our "Short Papers;" so we will content ourselves with a few brief statements and extracts. No tribunal, we may safely affirm, so regardless of justice, humanity, and every sacred relationship in life, ever existed in the dominions of heathenism or Mahometanism.
When a man was slightly suspected of heresy, spies, called the Familiars of the Inquisition, were employed narrowly to watch him, with the view of discovering the least possible excuse for handing him over to the tribunal of the Holy Office. The man may have been a good Catholic, for Llorente assures us that nine-tenths of the prisoners were true to the Catholic faith; but, perhaps, he was suspected of holding liberal opinions, or he may have shown in conversation that he knew more of theology than the illiterate monks, or differed with them on some point of doctrine. Any of these things would be enough to create suspicion; for nothing was more to be dreaded than new light or truth; he was now marked and denounced by the familiars.
At midnight a knock is heard, the suspected man is ordered to accompany the messengers of the Holy Office. His wife and family know what that means; their distress is great; they must now take a last farewell of the beloved husband and the beloved father. Not a word of entreaty or of remonstrance dare be breathed. Thus suddenly and unexpectedly this frightful institution pounced upon its victims. Wives gave up their husbands, husbands their wives, parents their children, and masters their servants, without a question or a murmur. Terror constituted the great element of its power. No man, from the monarch to the slave, knew when the knock might come to his door. An impenetrable secrecy characterized all the proceedings of this institution. This feeling of insecurity and the workings of the imagination lent their aid to exaggerate the fearful reality. Neither rank, nor age, nor sex, afforded any defense against its watchful vigilance and its pitiless severity.
The prisoner, the helpless victim, is now within the gates of the Inquisition; and few who ever entered there left it absolved and acquitted; not more, it is said, than one in a thousand. Certain forms were gone through as to the question of the alleged guilt of the accused, but all were a gross mockery of justice. "The court sat in profound secrecy; no advocate might appear before the tribunal; no witness was confronted with the accused; who were the informers, what the charges, except the vague charge of heresy, no one knew. The suspected heretic was first summoned to declare on oath that he would speak the truth, the whole truth, of all persons living or dead, with himself, or like himself, on suspicion of heresy, or Waldensianism. If he refused, he was cast into a dungeon, the most dismal, the most foul, the most noisome, in those dreary ages. No falsehood was too false, no craft too crafty, no trick too base, for this deliberate, systematic, moral torture which was to wring further confession against himself, denunciation against others. It was the deliberate object to break the spirit; the prisoner's food was to be slowly, gradually, diminished till body and soul were prostrate. He was then to be left in darkness, solitude, and silence." The next part of the procedure of the Holy Office in these secret prisons was the application of bodily torture. The helpless victim was charged with the culpable concealment and denial of the truth. In vain did he affirm that he had answered every question fully and honestly to the Utmost extent of his knowledge; he was urged to confess if ever he had entertained an evil thought in his heart against the church, or the Holy Office, or anything else they chose to name. No matter what answer he gave, he was denounced as an obstinate heretic. After some hypocritical expressions as to their love for his soul, and their sincere desire to deliver him from error, that he might obtain salvation, a vast apparatus of torturing instruments were shown to him; the rack must now be applied to make him confess his sin.
Were it not that truth and impartial history demand that the real nature of the papacy should be told, we would much rather not describe, even in the briefest way, those scenes of torture; but few of our young readers in these peaceful times have any idea of the cruel character of popery, and of its thirst for the blood of God's saints. And that nature, let it be remembered, is unchanged. As late as 1820, which may be said to be our own day, when the Inquisition was thrown open in Madrid by the orders of the Cortes, twenty-one prisoners were found in it: not one of them knew the name of the city in which he was; some had been confined for three years, some a longer period, and not one knew perfectly the nature of the crime of which he was accused. One of these persons was to have suffered death the following day by the Pendulum. This method of torture is thus described. The condemned is fastened in a groove, upon a table, on his back, suspended above him is a pendulum, the edge of which is sharp, and it is so constructed as to become longer with every movement. The victim sees this implement of destruction swinging to and fro above him, and every moment the keen edge approaches nearer and nearer; at length it cuts the skin of his face, and gradually cuts through his head, until life is extinct." This was a punishment of the Secret Tribunal in 1820, and may be so today in some places in Spain and Italy!
The penances and punishments to which the accused were subjected, in order to obtain such a confession as the inquisitors desired, were many and various; the rack was usually the first. The naked arms, to which a small hard cord was fastened, were turned behind the back, heavy weights were tied to the feet; and then the sufferer was drawn up by the action of a pulley to the height of the place he was in. Having been kept suspended for some time, he was suddenly let down with a jerk to within a little distance of the floor; this done several times, the joints of the arms were dislocated, whilst the cord, by which he was suspended, cut through the skin and flesh, and penetrated to the bone; and by means of the weights appended to the feet, the whole frame was violently strained. This species of torture was continued for an hour and sometimes longer, according to the pleasure of the inquisitors present, and to what the strength of the sufferer seemed capable of enduring. The torture by fire was equally painful. The prisoner being extended on the floor, the soles of his feet were rubbed with lard, and placed near the fire, until, writhing in agony, he was ready to confess what his tormentors required. A second time the judges doomed their victims to the same torture, to make them own the motives and intentions of their hearts for their confessed conduct or sayings; and a third time, that they might reveal their accomplices or abettors.
When cruelties failed to wring a confession, artifices and snares were resorted to. Persons were sent into the dungeons, pretending to be prisoners like themselves, who ventured to speak against the Inquisition, but only with the view of ensnaring others that they might witness against them. When the accused was held to be convicted, either by witnesses or by his own forced confession, he was sentenced according to the heinousness of his offense. It might be to death, to perpetual imprisonment, to the galleys, or to flogging. Those sentenced to death by fire were allowed to accumulate, that the sacrifice of a great number at once might produce a more striking and terrible effect.
The cruel death by which the Inquisition closed the career of its victims was styled in Spain and Portugal as AUTO DE FE, or "Act of Faith," being regarded as a religious ceremony of peculiar solemnity; and to invest the act with greater sanctity, the cruel deed was always done on the Lord's day. The innocent victims of this papal barbarity were led forth in procession to the place of execution. They were dressed in the most fantastic manner. On the caps and tunics of some were painted the flames of hell, and dragons and demons fanning them to keep them brisk for the heretics; and the Jesuits thundering in their ears that the fires before them were nothing to the fires of hell which they would have to endure for ever. If any brave heart attempted to say a word for the Lord, or in defense of the truth for which he was about to suffer, his mouth was instantly gagged. The condemned were then chained to stakes. Any of the persons confessing that he was a true Catholic and wished to die in the Catholic faith, had the privilege of being strangled before he was burned; but those who refused to claim the privilege, were burnt alive, and reduced to ashes.
A quantity of furze, sometimes green, and pieces of wood were laid around the bottom of the stakes and set on fire. Their sufferings were indescribable. The lowest extremities of the body were sometimes actually roasted before the flames reached the vital parts. And this appalling spectacle was beheld by crowds of people of both sexes, and of all ages, with transports of joy; so demoralized were the people by Romanism. For upwards of four centuries the Auto de Fe was a national holiday in Spain, which its kings and queens, princes and princesses, witnessed in the pomp of royalty.
According to the calculations of Llorente, compiled from the records of the Inquisition, it appears that from the year 1481 to 1808 this tribunal condemned, in Spain alone, upwards of three hundred and forty one thousand persons. And if to this number be added all who suffered in other countries, then under the dominion of Spain, what would the total number be? Torquemada, on being made Inquisitor-general of Arragon in 1483, burned alive, to signalize his promotion to the Holy Office, no less than two thousand of the prisoners of the Inquisition. Sovereigns, princes, royal ladies, learned men magistrates, prelates, ministers of state, were boldly and fearlessly accused and tried by the Holy Office. But the Lord knows them all — He knows the sufferers, He knows the persecutors, He knows how to reward the one and how to judge the other. The dark deeds of those secret dungeons, the pitiful wail of the helpless sufferers, the cruel mockings of the unaccountable Dominicans, must all be revealed before that throne of inflexible justice, of overwhelming purity. The pope and his college of cardinals, the abbot and his fraternity of monks, the inquisitor-general and his gaolers, tormentors, and executioners, must all appear before "the great; white throne" — the judgment-seat of Christ. There we leave these wicked men, thankful that we have not to judge them, and perfectly content with the Lord's decisions. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
He who rebuked His disciples for entertaining the thought of calling down fire on the Samaritans will judge them by His own standard. He then placed on record what should have been a guide to His people in all ages. He rebuked the disciples, and said,
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Lu 9:55-56.)
It may be necessary just to state here, that we do not consider all who suffered by the Inquisition to be martyrs, or even Christians. The crimes of which the inquisitors took cognisance were heresy in all its different forms; such as Judaism, Mahometanism, sorcery, polygamy, apostasy; besides, we have not the privilege of knowing the final testimony of the sufferers. It was quite different with the martyrs under the heathen emperors. At the same time, it is impossible not to be strongly moved with horror as well as compassion, in reading the histories of that dark and diabolical period.
The reader has now before him the commencement and the general character of the Inquisition; individual cases of its cruelty will come before us in the progress of our history. Next in order to be noticed, however briefly, are the new orders of monks which sprang out of the same memorable Albigensian war.
The origin and early history of monasticism are carefully traced in the first in the thirteenth century, it may be well rapidly to sketch its progress from these early times, and thus more clearly see the contrast. This plan will also give us an opportunity of glancing at the internal condition of the church of Rome before the light of the Reformation penetrated and revealed its fearful darkness.
Towards the end of the third century, but especially during the fourth, the deserts of Syria and Egypt had been the abode of monks and hermits. The most private and unfrequented places in the wide wilderness were selected by the original recluses. The accounts of their sanctity, miracles, and devotion, became the literature of the church. The infection spread. Men who were anxious to excel in holiness, or to obtain the reputation of a peculiar piety, embraced the monastic order. The practice prevailed so rapidly, that before the.' beginning of the sixth century it was almost coextensive with Christendom. There were three classes of those ancient monks.
They may be considered as seceders from the Coenobites, who lived within their own gates. The wall which confined them, in some instances, enclosed also their wells and gardens, and all that was necessary for their sustenance, so as to leave no pretext even for occasional intercourse with a world which they had deserted for ever.
Those whom we call monks now-a-days are Coenobites, who live together in a convent or monastery, make vows of living according to a certain rule established by the founder, and wear a habit which distinguishes their order.
The revolutions of the West, in the fifth century, proved favorable to monasticism. The barbarians were awed by the numbers, peculiarities, and professed sanctity of the monks. Their abodes, therefore, were undisturbed, and became a quiet retreat from the troubles of the time. Superstition honored them; wealth began to flow in, but with it degeneracy and corruption. Already there was room for a reformer, and the person who was to appear in that character was the famous St. Benedict.
As nearly all the monastic institutions throughout Europe, for more than six hundred years, were regulated by the Rule of St. Benedict, we need only to give some account of this celebrated order to know the constitution and character of them all. And, as their name is legion, we will thus save a great deal of repetition.
This remarkable man was the son of a Roman senator, born at Nurcia, in Italy, A.D. 480. At the age of twelve he was sent to study at Rome. He had probably heard and read about the lives of the holy anchorites and hermits of the East. With these examples before his mind, and the irregularities of his fellow-students around him, he longed for solitude. When about fifteen, unable to endure any longer the corrupt state of Roman society, he separated himself even from his faithful nurse, Cyrilla, who had been sent with him to Rome by his parents, and left her to lament over his mental derangement. The ferocious Huns and Vandals had made even the heart of Italy a wilderness, so that the youthful hermit found a secluded spot not far from Rome. For years he lived in a lonely cave; the only person acquainted with the secret of his retreat was a monk, named Romanus, who supplied him with bread, by saving a portion of his own daily allowance. But as a steep rock lay between the cloister of Romanus and the grotto of Benedict, the bread was let down by a string to the mouth of the cave. At length he was discovered by some shepherds, who were delighted to hear his instructions and witness his miracles. As the fame of his piety increased, he was persuaded to become abbot of a monastery in the neighborhood; but the strictness of his discipline displeased its inmates, and they agreed to rid themselves of the severe recluse by mixing poison in his wine. But on his making the sign of the cross, which he usually did over his meat and his drink, the cup flew into pieces; whereupon he mildly rebuked the monks, and returned to his mountain cave.
Benedict now became an object of greater interest than ever. His fame spread; great multitudes flocked to him; men of wealth and influence joined him, and large sums of money were placed at his disposal. He was now in a position to build twelve monasteries, each of them consisting of twelve monks, under a superior. Having succeeded in so far accomplishing the object of his residence in the district, and being disquieted by the jealous interference of Florentius, a neighboring priest, he quitted Subiaco with a few followers in the year 528. After some wanderings, he arrived at Monte Cassino, where Apollo was still worshipped by the rustics. With great skill and energy he uprooted the remains of heathen idolatry among the peasants. He cut down the grove, destroyed the idol of Apollo, and on the site of the altar an oratory was erected, which he dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and St. Martin. This was the germ of the great and renowned monastery which became the parent root of the innumerable branches which in a short time covered the face of Europe. Here Benedict drew up his famous Rule, about the year 529. It consists of seventy-three chapters, we are told, which contain a code of laws regulating the duties of monks to each other, and between the abbot and his monks. He provides for the administration of an institution, composed of every variety of character, engaged in every variety of occupation, but all to be perfectly subject to one absolute ruler. The comprehensiveness of his system is astonishing, as being the result of one mind, and without example or precedent. It is regarded by the learned as the most celebrated monument of ecclesiastical antiquity, and was in its operations the very strength and watchword of the satellites of Rome.
The wisdom of this great monk as a legislator, and the superiority of his discipline to all that had previously existed, are mainly found in the place which he gives to manual labor. This was the distinctive feature of the new order — hard, healthy, bodily labor. Monasticism had been hitherto almost entirely a life of mere seclusion and contemplation, supported by the charity of the public, or the overawed peasantry in the neighborhood of the monastery. Benedict had seen the evil effects of this idle, dreamy, state of existence, and made ample provision for the occupation of the monks. Idleness he branded as the enemy of both soul and body. They were not only to labor in the way of prayer, worship, reading, and the education of youth; but they were to labor with their hands, as with the axe in the forest, the spade in the fields, and the trowel on the walls. The advantages of this new system were great. The Benedictine abbeys became industrious agricultural settlements. Husbandry, and the arts of civilized life, were introduced into the most barbarous regions, and the wilderness, under the hands of the monks, blossomed with fertility.
Although the order of St. Benedict was in every way contrary both to the letter and spirit of the word of God, it had more of reason and common sense than the idle and languishing systems of the East. "He was one of those who held," say's Travers Hill, "that to live in this world a man must do something — that life which consumes, but produces not, is a morbid life, in fact an impossible life — a life that must decay — arid therefore, imbued with the importance of this fact, he made labor, continuous and daily labor, the great foundation of his rule." His penetration is also seen in his consideration for the unfriendly climate of the West, and for European constitutions. His laws were milder and more practicable than had been attempted in Eastern countries; the diet rather more generous; and he did not propose any extreme mortification, but permitted his followers to live according to the common habits of their respective countries. In these wise and reasonable considerations lay the whole secret of the wondrous success of the Benedictine order.
But with our modern notions of good living, and of comparatively few religious services in the course of a week, the reader may be disposed to question what we have said of the mildness of the monastic rules, and of the generous nature of the diet. We have spoken of these as compared with the East, where monasticism originated.
At two o'clock in the morning the monks were aroused for vigils, on which occasion twelve psalms were chanted, and certain lessons from the scriptures read or recited. They assembled again at day-break for matins; this service was almost the same as the first, so that in their vigils and matins twenty-four psalms were to be chanted each day, that the psalter might be completed each week. The time for their in-door devotions and their out-door labors was arranged, in summer and winter, as the superior saw fit. But they were obliged to attend at least seven distinct religious services every twenty-four hours, besides seven hours each day for labor. They breakfasted about noon, and dined in the evening. Their usual food consisted of vegetables, grain, and fruit; one pound of bread per day for each monk, and a small quantity of wine. On the public table no meat was allowed; only to the sick was animal food given. Sometimes they had eggs or fish with an evening meal. But every day in Lent they fasted till six in the evening, and were allowed less time for sleep.
The dress of the monks was to be coarse and plain, but variable, according to circumstances. They were allowed the luxury of boots. Their outer garment was to be a loose black gown, with large wide sleeves, and a cowl on their heads, ending in a point behind. Every monk had two coats, two cowls, a table-book, a knife, a needle, and a handkerchief. The furniture of their cells was a mat, a blanket, a rug, and a pillow. Each had a separate bed, and they slept with their clothes on. A dean was to preside over each dormitory, and a light was to be kept burning in each. No talking was allowed after they retired. For small faults they were shut out from the meals of the brotherhood, for greater they were excluded from the chapel; incorrigible Offenders were excluded from the monastery.
Thus the long and tedious day of the self-doomed monk was spent; from his midnight vigils till his evening vespers, all his observances were merely mechanical. On entering the monastery, he renounced wholly every species of personal liberty. His vow of implicit obedience to his superiors in everything was irrevocable. No one could receive a present of any kind, not even from a parent, nor have any correspondence with persons outside the monastery, except by its passing under the inspection of the abbot. A porter always sat at the gate, which was kept locked day and night, and no stranger was admitted without leave from the abbot, and no monk could go out unless he had permission from his superior.
The garden, the mill, the well, the bakehouse, were all within the walls, so that there might be no necessity for leaving the monastery. The trade or the occupation of every monk was to be determined by the abbot. A monk who once was rich and of high birth was now penniless, and might be appointed cook or waiter, tailor, carpenter, or ditcher, according to the pleasure of the absolute superior; the quality and quantity of his food were prescribed and limited as if he had been the merest child. He was not allowed to speak but at certain times. All conversation was strictly prohibited during meals; some one read aloud the whole time.
Thus was the man — the social man — isolated from society. Woman, whom God gave to man, was to be considered, not only a stranger to his thoughts, but the natural enemy of his lonely perfection. By the subtlety of Satan, self was the supreme object of all monks — of every system of monkery. How forcibly the words of the apostle come into the mind when musing on the liberty of Christ and the slavery of Satan: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Mark these truly Christian words, "what things were gain to me — gain to me!" If only gain to me, what is the good of them? I want Christ. I have seen Christ in the glory. I want to be like Him. Everything that religious flesh could boast of, which was gain to him, he flung behind his back as the merest dross. "Yea, doubtless," he says, "and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." What blindness, what perversity, for any one to prefer the order of St. Benedict to Philippians 3 — to the love and liberty of Christ! But such was the deceiving power of Satan, that man thought the sure, if not the only, way to heaven was to become a monk.
Before the death of Benedict, which took place in 543, his order had been established in France, Spain, and Sicily. It spread rapidly far and wide. Wherever the monks traveled, they converted the wilderness into a cultivated country; they cleared forests, drained morasses, reared stately abbeys with their own hands, civilized rude populations, pursued the breeding of cattle and the labors of agriculture in every way. They also cultivated learning, and had schools for the young. But though the Benedictines soon became a great community, and spread through various countries, they were all subject to one rule. The time when this order came into England is well known. St. Augustine and his monks were Benedictines, and so was Gregory who sent them. But although they have the credit of reducing wastes into fertility by tillage, they have also the credit of choosing, when they had the opportunity, the fairest spots in the land for their settlements. "In every rich valley," says Milman, speaking of England, "by the side of every clear and deep stream, arose a Benedictine abbey. The labors of the monks in planting, in cultivation, in laying out the sunny garden, or hanging the hills with trees, may have added much to the picturesque grace of these scenes; but in general, if a district in England be surveyed, the most convenient, most fertile, most peaceful, spot will be found to have been the site of a Benedictine abbey."
The first intention of St. Benedict was not to found a monastic order, but simply to prescribe rules for the Italian monks, in accordance with the practice of the anchorites and recluses of the early church. But the monks of Monte Cassino soon became famous for their superior intelligence, peaceful lives, correct habits, and earnest zeal. In a country and at a time when strife, rapine, ignorance, and dissolute manners were universal, the calm and holy monastery presented an inviting haven of shelter, where, during life's brief period, man might attend to his religious duties, and end his days in peace with heaven and with mankind. The young ardent spirit entering the world had little choice of life; practically it was between a life of war, violence, and wickedness — a life of ferocious joys and sorrows, or of seclusion, humility, obedience, and self-denying labor. The more thoughtful and timid natures welcomed the new haven of rest. Men of all ranks left their luxury or their poverty, and joined the new community; and thus it went on increasing, till its wealth and power were incredible. The following statistics will give the reader a better idea of the opulence of these ancient Benedictine abbeys than mere descriptions.
"The property belonging to the parent monastery of Monte Cassino at length included four bishoprics, two dukedoms, thirty-six cities, two hundred castles, three hundred territories, thirty-three islands, and one thousand six hundred and sixty-two churches. The abbot assumed the following titles: — Patriarch of the Holy Faith; Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Cassino; Head and Prince of all Abbots and Religious Houses; Vice-chancellor of both the Sicilies, of Jerusalem, and Hungary; Count and Governor of Campania and Terra di Savono, and of the Maritime Provinces;
THE MISSIONARY ZEAL OF BENEDICTINES
The Benedictines, in course of time, as their numbers increased, sent out missionaries to preach the gospel amongst the nations then plunged in the depths of Paganism. It has been estimated that they were the means of converting upwards of thirty countries and provinces to the Christian faith, or, as we would say, to the church of Rome. Still, the Lord in His mercy could, and no doubt did, use the cross of Christ as then preached for salvation. A very little bit of truth about the cross or the blood of Christ will convert the soul when the Lord uses it. A most remarkable change took place in the history of the church, or of Christianity, through the preaching of the Benedictines, and of St. Benedict's order, which we will merely name, and leave for the reflection of the thoughtful.
During the first three centuries of the Christian era, the emperors, and all earth's great ones, persecuted the faithful followers of Christ; but during the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries many emperors and kings resigned their crowns, and became monks of the Benedictine order; and also empresses and queens became nuns of the same order.
From the seclusion of the Benedictine cells forty-eight popes were raised to fill the chair of St. Peter; two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops, fifteen thousand bishops, fifteen thousand abbots, four thousand saints, and upwards of thirty-seven thousand religious establishments, including monasteries, nunneries, priories, hospitals, etc. The order has also produced a vast number of eminent writers, and other learned men. Rabanus established the first school in Germany, Alcuin founded the University of Paris, Guido invented the scale of music, Sylvester the organ, and Dionysius Exiguus perfected the ecclesiastical computation.
"The abbots were often little inferior to sovereign princes: their splendor was greatest in Germany, where the abbot of Angia, surnamed the Rich, had a yearly revenue of sixty thousand golden crowns, and into his monastery none were received but the sons of princes, earls, and barons. The abbots of Weissemburg, of Fulda, and St. Gall, were princes of the empire. The abbot of St. Gall once entered Strasburg with a retinue of a thousand horse." For six hundred years all rules and societies gave way before the universal prevalence of the Benedictine order. Many other sects arose during that period, and, though differing from each other in some points of discipline or dress, all acknowledged the Rule of Benedict. The Carthusians, Cistercians, and others innumerable, were only branches growing out of the original stock.
These boasted results of the rule of the solitary hermit of Monte Cassino extend over a period of at least seven hundred years, during which time the Benedictines, like all other human institutions, experienced many reverses and many revivals, which we need not attempt to trace. We would only further say under this head, that, in accordance with the often-told story, no sooner did the monks of St. Benedict become rich and luxurious, than they began to depart from the principles of their founder, and gave themselves up to indolence and every vice. They became involved in civil affairs and the intrigues, of courts, seeking only to advance the authority and power of the Roman pontiffs.
It has often been remarked that, where the Spirit of God is working by means of the gospel, and where there are manifest results, in the conversion of souls to Christ, there also the enemy is sure to be active. He will not quietly suffer his kingdom to be invaded. It may be in hindering the work by persecution, or in corrupting it by seducing to self-indulgence, or by imitating it in an evil and wicked way. We have many sad instances of such things in the history of both Israel and the church — instances too numerous to be referred to here; but we shall now see, at this period of our history of the monastic institutions, what will explain our meaning.
The special object of the new orders which sprang up in the beginning of the thirteenth century, was to counterwork the influence which the Albigensian preachers acquired over the poorer classes of the people by familiarly mixing with them, and constantly preaching the gospel to them. Preaching the gospel of Christ suitably for the humbler classes had been completely neglected for centuries by the clergy of the Romish church. Sometimes an earnest preacher was raised up, such as Claudius, of Turin; Arnold, of Brescia; Fulk, of Neuilly; Henry, the deacon; or Peter Waldo, who devoted himself to the work of the gospel and the salvation of souls; but these instances were few and far between. More commonly it was for some purely popish object, such as the Crusades, when the clergy attempted to rouse the people by their eloquence.
"In theory," says the ecclesiastical historian, "it was the special
privilege of the bishops to preach, but there were few amongst them who had either the gift, the inclination, the leisure from their secular, judicial, or warlike occupations, to preach even in their cathedral cities; in the rest of their dioceses their presence was but occasional, a progress, or visitation of pomp and form, rather than of popular instruction. Almost the only means of religious instruction was the Ritual, which, in so far as language was concerned, had long ceased to be intelligible; and the priests were almost as ignorant as the people; they had just learned to go through the stated observances in the most mechanical way. The married, or secular clergy, as they were called, though by far the most moral and respectable, were acting in opposition to the laws of the church, and even subject to the accusation of living in concubinage; their ministrations had very little weight with the people. The unmarried, or regular clergy obeyed the outward rule, but by every account they so flagrantly violated the severer principles of the church, that their teaching, if they attempted actual teaching, must have fallen powerless on the minds of the people."
Such a state of things in the Established Church left the way open for the heretics, so-called. They embraced the opportunity, stepped in, and labored diligently to spread their doctrines among the people. Preaching in public and in private was the secret, under God, of the great success of the Waldenses and Albigenses. This was from the earliest times, and still is, the divine way of spreading the truth, and gathering souls to Jesus. The more public the preaching, the better. In all ages it has pleased God, by what the world calls "the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe." Open-air preaching, visiting and teaching from house to house, public testimony within-doors and out-of-doors, are ways and means which God will always bless. And such means seem to have been diligently used by those accused of heresy in Languedoc.
The watchful enemy, observing the effect of this mode of action, changes his tactics. In place of shutting up all the sincere and earnest and pious members of the church of Rome in monasteries, to think only about themselves, instruct themselves, pray and preach only to themselves, he now sends them out as open-air preachers, and to overrun the very fields which had been occupied for centuries by the true followers of Christ. His emissaries had strict orders, not only to imitate the heretics, but to surpass them, in plainness of dress, humility, poverty, and familiarity with the people. A complete change now takes place in the history of the monastic orders; in place of cloistered monks, secluded from the eye of the world, saying their prayers, working in the fields, or gathering the fruit of their gardens, we have preaching friars at the corner of every street, and in every town throughout Europe, yea, begging from door to door. But this was not all; being favorites of the pontiffs, they had the direction of nearly everything in Church and State for three centuries. "They held the highest offices, both civil and ecclesiastical," says Mosheim, "taught with almost absolute authority in all the schools and churches, and defended the majesty of the Roman pontiffs against kings, bishops, and heretics, with amazing zeal and success. What the Jesuits were after the Reformation, the same were the Dominicans and Franciscans from the thirteenth century to the times of Luther. They were the soul of the whole Church and State, and the projectors and executors of all the enterprises of any moment."
As we think it more satisfactory to know the beginning of things, we will now briefly describe the origin and character of these two great pillars of the proud temple of Rome. Up to this time — the beginning of the thirteenth century — the exertions of the popes have been almost entirely confined to the building of this temple — the establishment of their own supremacy in the church, and of their temporal authority over the State. But the increasing light of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and the increasing depravity of the church, brought into the field of testimony many noble witnesses for Christ and for His gospel. The temple began to shake. The clergy had alienated the hearts of the common people by their grasping and oppressive power; and their indolence, indulgence, and immoralities, unfavorably contrasted with the industry, humility, self-denial, and consistency of those accused of heresy. The whole fabric was in danger, for these heresiarchs were scattered throughout all provinces, and among all ranks and classes of society, even in Rome itself. The enemy, perceiving the necessities of the moment, hastened to the rescue of the threatened hierarchy. The two men adapted to meet the exigencies of the time were Dominic and Francis.
Dominic was born in 1170, in the village of Calaroga in Old Castile. His parents were of noble name, that of Guzman, if not of noble race. According to some writers, the effect of his burning eloquence as a preacher was foreshown by his mother dreaming that she gave birth to a whelp carrying a fire-brand in his mouth, with which he set the world on fire. But whether it was his mother or his monk historian that had the vision, he faithfully answered to the similitude. "Beware of dogs" never had a truer application than to Dominic; and literal fire, not merely the fire of his eloquence, was his chosen and favorite agent of destruction from the commencement of his career. The flames of hell, Dominic and his followers alleged, were reserved for all heretics, and they deemed it a good work to begin the eternal burnings in time. From infancy his life was rigidly ascetic. His nature, at an early period, showed signs of tenderness and compassion, but his religious zeal, in process of time, steeled him against every kindly impulse of nature. His nights were, for the most part, spent in severe penitential exercises; he flogged himself nightly with an iron chain, once for his own sins, once for the sinners in this world, and once for those in purgatory.
Dominic became a canon in the rigorous house of Osma, and soon excelled the others in austerities. In consequence of his reputation, the Spanish bishop of Osma — a prelate of great ability and of strong religious enthusiasm — invited Dominic to accompany him on a mission to Denmark. He had then reached his thirtieth year, and, though he was considered mild towards Jews and infidels, he was burning with unrelenting hatred towards the heretics. Having crossed the Pyrenees, the zealous bishop and his congenial companion found themselves in the midst of the Albigensian heresy; they could not close their eyes to the disgraceful state of the Romish clergy, to the contempt into which they had fallen, and to the prosperity of the sectaries. The Mass had not been said in some places for thirty years. The papal commission too, which had been appointed by Innocent III., about the year 1200, they found in a most dejected state. This mission, it will be remembered, consisted of such men as Reinerius, Guy, Castelnau, and the infamous Arnold, all monks of Citeaux, the spiritual offspring of St. Bernard. They bitterly lamented their want of success: heresy was deaf to their warnings and threatentrigs; it owned not the authority of the pope.
The papal legates, according to the good old style, had been marching through the land, from city to city, in the most hierarchical pomp, in rich attire, with their retinue, and a vast cavalcade of homes. "How expect success with this secular pomp? " replied the severer Spaniards. "Sow the good seed as the heretics sow the bad. Cast off those sumptuous robes, renounce those richly-caparisoned palfreys, go barefoot, without purse and scrip, like the apostles; out-labor, out-fast, out-discipline these false teachers." The bishop of Osma and his faithful Dominie sent back their own horses, stripped themselves to the rudest monkish dress, and thus led on the spiritual army.
This was the deep subtlety of Satan. The power of the Holy Spirit had been manifested by the men of the valleys, and by the Poor Men of Lyons, who had spread themselves over the provinces; and now comes a great display of mock humility and false zeal, a base imitation of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. It was only by such lies and hypocrisy that the authority of Rome could be maintained, or that the enemy could hope to retain the nations of Europe in Captivity.
We have already spoken of Dominic's labors in the Albigensian territory. There he spent ten years in endeavoring to root out heresy. A small fraternity was then formed, who went out two and two, in imitation of the Lord's appointment of the seventy. (Luke 10; Matthew 10.) The burnings in Languedoc then commenced. Like dogs of a keen scent, the Dominicans went from house to house, searching for prey to feed the sword of de Montfort, and the fires which they had kindled. Dominic's great achievements secured for him the favor of the pontiffs, Innocent III. and Honorius III., who established him in the privileges of a "Founder." He died in 1221; but before he quitted the scene of his cruelties, no fewer than sixty monasteries of his order had sprung up in various regions of Christendom. He was canonized by Gregory IX. in 1233. The fearful tribunal of the Inquisition, directly or indirectly, we doubt not, owed its origin to Dominic, and the most numerous and merciless of its officials belonged to his brotherhood. A few more details may be given when speaking about the Franciscans, as they may be described together.
Contemporary with St. Dominic was his great compeer in ecclesiastical fame, St. Francis, who was to rival, and even exceed, the Spanish monk in celebrity. He was a native of Assist, a town of Central Italy. The many absurd legends which crowd the pages of his Franciscan biographers need not be referred to; they are really blasphemous. Such was their enthusiastic frenzy, that they impiously maintained that St. Francis was a second christ; that the stigmata, or wounds of the Savior, were miraculously impressed upon his body, in imitation of the crucified body of Jesus; and this imposture they dared to found on the text,
"From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Galations 6:17.)
During a year's captivity in Perugia, and other bodily afflictions, he became the subject of the most extraordinary visions and raptures, by which he was encouraged to go forth into the world as a servant of God, and as a savior of mankind. The feverish dreams of his weak mind were divine revelations to the Catholics.
Francis now began to talk mysteriously about his future bride — that bride was poverty. He exchanged his dress for rags. He was raised up, he said, "to oppose truth to error, poverty to the desire of wealth, and humility to ambition." He begged at the gates of monasteries; he discharged the most menial offices; he devoted himself to the care of lepers; he washed their feet and dressed their wounds. "His mother," we read, "heard and beheld all his strange acts with a tender and prophetic admiration: but his father was ashamed of him, and treated him as a madman." But though at first he was mocked and pelted in the streets of Assist, he was believed in by the church, sheltered by the bishop, and soon followed by a crowd of imitators.
Francis was now openly wedded to poverty by an oath never to be broken; and it was to be poverty in its lowest form — beggary. He accepted from an old friend "a herinit's attire, a short tunic, a leathern girdle, a staff, and slippers;" but this was too much fine and comfortable for the ideas of the young fanatic. Making the worst use of the Savior's instructions to His disciples in Matthew 10 and Luke 10, he threw away all he had, excepting a coarse dark grey tunic, which he tied round him with a rope, and set out through the city, calling all to repentance.
Such strange but: fervent piety or fanaticism, at that period of dark superstition and ignorance, could not fail to kindle the zeal of others. The essence of the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ, he affirmed, consisted in the most absolute poverty of all things — that there was no safe path to heaven unless by the destitution of all earthly possessions. "Wonder grew into admiration, admiration into emulation, emulation into a blind following of his footsteps. Disciples, one by one, began to gather round him. He retired with them to a lonely spot in the bend of the river, called Rivo Torto. A rule was wanting for the young brotherhood. The Gospels were opened. Francis read three texts.
Francis made the sign of the cross, and sent forth his followers into the neighboring cities, to the east and west, the north and south."
Such was the origin, and such the character, of the new orders. Though somewhat different in their first constitution, they were very nearly assimilated in character, and even in profession, and entered upon the same career with almost the same objects in view and the same principles of action. Itinerant preachers under the vow of poverty characterized both. In their identification with the lowest of mankind they were entirely agreed. The enemy saw what the Poor Men of Lyons, or the Waldenses, were doing; and these were to be the poor men of the papacy, who were to meet the heretics on their own ground, and outdo them in poverty, humility, labor, and suffering. Having received the formal sanction and protection of the pope, Francis sent forth his followers, vowed to the service of God, to the extirpation of heretics, to chastity, poverty, and obedience.
The new orders included nuns, or a sisterhood, founded in connection with each of the brotherhoods. There was also a grade connected with the mendicant friars, called Tertiaries, who continued to be engaged in the common occupations of the world, and added greatly to the popularity and influence of the friars. It was an avowed link between the world and the church. A few words as to the habits of the preaching friars, in contrast with the earlier monastic orders, will be the simplest way of giving the reader a clear view of both. And, as we have no doubt, the new orders were permitted of God to uphold the tottering fabric of the Romish church, and to hinder the accomplishment of the Reformation for three hundred years, great interest is connected with their history. But the saints of God had a long education to pass through, and the true church of Christ to be enriched with a noble army of martyrs, before that glorious end was gained.
We are fully aware that all human systems must be examined by the word of God, if we would rightly understand their real character. It is not by contrasting the later with the earlier that we can find out how far they may have wandered from the mind of the Lord. The word of the living God, by which all shall at last be judged, must be our only standard now. It matters very little what improvement may he found in one system compared with another, if both are the result of human inwmtion. This is true as to all persons as well as all systems. The word of God must be the Christian's only rule, and Christ Himself the only head and center, power and authority, in the system which He owns — the church, the assembly of God. But, as we have on different occasions looked into scripture on these points, we will now, in a few words, state the difference between the earlier and later monastic systems.
The chief, if not the exclusive, object of the early hermits, anchorites, and ascetics; of every name, was their own religious perfection. The instruction or salvation of others formed no part of their creed. Isolation from the dangerous world, and seclusion in some lonely cell, with all its privations, were deemed necessary to this end. As the halo of their sanctity attracted and allured others, houses were built, and large tracts of land were cultivated, for the necessities of this life. These small beginnings sometimes grew up to be the most stately settlements in the country. And during the long dark night of the middle ages, with its barbarism and feudalism, the monasteries often proved a great mercy to the sick, the poor, and the traveler. All must thankfully acknowledge this fact. During the five or six centuries which followed the subversion of the western empire, the monastic system became a powerful instrument in correcting the vices of society, and in protecting the lower classes from the lawless oppression of the feudal lord. Hospitality, or the entertainment of strangers and pilgrims, was one of the important uses of the monasteries at that time. Inns for the reception of travelers appear not to have existed earlier than the eleventh century. Almost the only two stately buildings which met the traveller's eye in those days, were the castle of the powerful baron and the abbey of the praying monks. The one was war, and the other peace. Religion, learning, and science found a refuge behind the monastery walls, and true piety could peacefully labor there, in writing, transcribing, and otherwise collecting and preserving useful information.
"The Benedictines," says Travers Hill, "were the depositaries of learning and the arts; they gathered books together, and reproduced them in the silence of their cells, and they preserved in this way not only the volumes of sacred writ, but many of the works of classic lore. They started the gothic architecture; they alone had the secrets of chemistry and medical science; they invented many colors; they were the first architects, artists, glass-stainers, carvers, and mosaic workers in mediaeval times. It was a mighty system, and did good work in the world, but it went the way of all human things and human institutions; it became intoxicated with its power, blinded with its own splendor, and corrupted by its own wealth; its abbots grew avaricious, its monks voluptuous; they lost their original simplicity; the rule of their founder existed no longer in the activity of their husbandmen, their scholars, and their artists, but was only to be found in the words mechanically read in the chapter house — monasticism engendered its own corruption, and out of that corruption carne death."
The magnificent abbey of Glastonbury once covered sixty acres. Before the fall of the monasteries in England, the royal commissioners report concerning it; that they had never seen a house so great, good, and princely, with four parks adjoining, a great fishery five miles in compass, well replenished with pike, perch, bream, and roach; four manor houses, besides the chapel, hospital, tribunal, schools, and the great gate-house. Many of the houses of Glastonbury have been built out of the materials of this once superb abbey.
The habits of the modern monks were a perfect contrast to the earlier. In place of dwelling within the walls of a superb abbey, the whole of Christendom in a short time was overspread with hosts of Dominicans and Franciscans. They were gathered from every country, and spoke, therefore, every language and dialect. They preached the old faith in its fullest mediaeval inflexible rigor, in almost every town and hamlet. Unswerving loyalty to the pope and the extirpation of heresy were their grand themes. And the pontiffs in return protected them, and conferred upon them the highest privileges and advantages. Before the century closed, the monasteries and nunneries of the Minoritc order had reached the surprising number of eight thousand, and were inhabited by at least two hundred thousand inmates.
The two rival orders, the Dominicans and Franciscans, not contented with embroiling all Europe in discord, and angry strife, began soon after the decease of their respective founders, to contend with each other for precedence. And although the pontiffs of this and the following centuries used various means to compose and terminate these unseemly disputes, their attempts were fruitless; for these two great orders continued for many a long year to cherish this keen rivalry, and to hurl at each other the most bitter recriminations. They fought hard for the mastery in all the seats of learning in Christendom, but the most noted contest was that of the Dominicans with the university of Paris. Another prominent point of great controversy which long raged, was the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. It was the favorite doctrine of the Franciscans, and was always violently assailed by the Dominicans. The famous Thomas Aquinas argued in favor of the Dominican view of the question, and Duns Scotus, the Dialectictan, taking up the Franciscan view of the doctrine, entered the arena of debate, which has continued to this day; for although the present pope Plus IX. has pronounced the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, the Dominican fraternity are unwilling to admit it. However it has now become an article of faith in the Romish church.
As early as 1256, when Bonaventura became the general of the Franciscans, he found they had begun to be faithless to their ungenial bride, poverty, and were struggling for a divorce. The affections of Francis had not survived in his followers. But under the prudent management of their new general, comparative tranquillity was maintained during his life; but after his death, which took place in 1274, dissensions broke out with as great violence as ever. Indeed these mendicant, or rather satanic, orders caused the most violent contentions in almost every country of Europe down to the period of the Reformation. But all classes, both in Church and State, had to bear with their pride and arrogance, as they were the most faithful servants and satellites of the Roman See.
The following brief sketch from the pen of Matthew Paris, a Benedictine of St. Alban's, who wrote about 1249, will place before the reader the real character and ways of these dreadful pests of society. The picture is by no means overdrawn, though Matthew belonged to the old aristocratic order and might despise his new democratic brothers. Solitude, seclusion, the lonely cell, the private chapel, communication with the outer world sternly cut off, was the old order; the following is a sample of the new, and of what prevailed in England in the thirteenth century.
"It is terrible — it is an awful — presage, that in three hundred years, in four hundred years, even in more, the old monastic orders have not so entirely degenerated as these fraternities. The friars, who have been founded hardly forty years, have built even in the present day in England, residences as lofty as the palaces of our kings. These are they, who, enlarging day by day their sumptuous edifices, encircling them with lofty walls, lay up within them incalculable treasures, imprudently transgressing the bounds of poverty, and violating, according to the prophecy of the German Hildegard, the very fundamental rules of their profession. These are they, who, impelled by the love of gain, force themselves upon the last hours of the lords, and of the rich whom they know to be overflowing with wealth; and these, despising all rights, supplanting the ordinary pastors, extort confessions and secret testaments, boasting of themselves, and of their order, and asserting their vast superiority over all others. So that no one of the faithful now believes that he can be saved, unless guided and directed by the preachers or friars minor. Eager to obtain privileges, they serve in the courts of kings and nobles, as counsellors, chamberlains, treasurers, bridesmen, or notaries of marriages; they are the executioners of the papal extortions. In their preaching they sometimes take the tone of flattery, sometimes of biting censure; they scruple not to reveal confession, or to bring forward the most rash accusations. They despise the legitimate orders, those founded by holy fathers, by St. Benedict or St. Augustine, with all other professors. They place their own order high above all; they look on the Cistercians as rude and simple, half laic or rather peasants; they treat the black friars as haughty epicureans."
Chapter 27 - The Approaching Dawn of the Reformation