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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REFORMATION.-XXXI.
THE HUSSITE WAR. Huss was murdered, but the work of blood was not complete; the Heresiarchi was dead, but his most active coadjutor was yet alive. Huss had been silenced (or so the Council hoped), but his blood yet spake. The voice of Huss resounded through the after-time, until its echo was caught up and mingled with the giant voice of Luther, and became then the witness, not of martyrdom, but of victory. Huss was, however, silenced, so far as it was ini the power of the Church to silence him ; but Jerome of Prague still lived. He was in their clutches, and should he be allowed to escape, to undo all they hoped to have done in quelling the Bohemian heresy? They knew not, or cared not to know, that to do that they must put to death many more than Jerome. At least, this victim shall not escape. Thirteen days after Huss's martyrdom, Jerome, weak and emaciated, was brought from the dungeon in which he had been confined. Jerome, a man of impulse, had never walked steadily through life; and now, when it became a question of denying the truth, or dying for it, he faltered in his purpose and recanted. But for a moment only; it was the weakness of a noble man-a weakness, too, which humanity must forgive, even had he not nobly redeemed it. He retracted his recantation, and a few months after suffered the same fate as his master.
The close of the Council followed soon after the death of Jerome. How had it performed its purposed mission ? It had partially, and only partially, succeeded in healing the schism in the Church by the deposition and enforced submission of two of the three contending Popes, John XXIII. and Gregory XII., and the election of Martin V. Old Benedict XIII., however, refused to submit, and while he lived continued twice a-day to fulminate anathemas against Martin, whose title he disputed, and who only when Benedict died became sole Pope. The contemplated Reformation the Council bad left for Martin to work out; but no sooner was he seated in his new dignity than he revoked all his promises, or, in other words, played the traitor in the matter. The Clergy, therefore, remained unreformed, either in its head or members ; a result not wonderful, considering that the Council, which projected the Reform and elected Martin, consisted of the very men that needed reforming. Their principal work, indeed, was that in which they thought they had succeeded the attempt to crush Reform in the persons of John Huss and Jerome. But “this Huss, burnt, resuscitated in Jerome, and burnt again, is “ so far from being dead, that he returns ere long in the shape of a great, an “ armed people, sword in hand.” The Church had not yet done with Huss or with Wycliffe ; and after the closing of the great Council, which was to extirpate erroneous and heretical doctrines, she is still fighting Hussites in Bohemia, and burning Lollards in England.
The martyrdom of Huss and Jerome spread like wild-fire through Bohemia. So wide-spread was the feeling of horror at the treachery and murder of which the Church had been guilty, that the whole Bohemian nation flew to arms to revenge their deaths. Another crusade for the extermination of these Bohemian heretics, even as the Albigenses of old, is preached. Sigismund, the forsworn traitor, who sat on the imperial throne of Germany, leads the armies of the Church, while Zisca is the name of the Hussite commander. A war without mercy on either side now commences. Huss was martyred in 1415, and in 1454 the war, caused by his martyrdom, was still raging, and crusades were being preached in Germany for the extermination of the obstinate heretics of Bohemia. Exterminated, however, they never were ; for when more than a century after the death of Huss the voice of Luther resounded through Bohemia, in common with other lands, it was “welcomed by a “ numerous body of hereditary Reformers, who rejected, and whose ancestors “ had rejected, the sacrifice of the mass, purgatory, transubstantiation, prayers " for the dead, the adoration of images; and who confirmed their spiritual “ emancipation by renouncing the authority of the Pope."* Indeed, the Hussites live still in the Moravian Brethren of these days.
Sigismund, the Emperor, we have said, led the armies of the Church, and more than one of the reigning powers in Europe became implicated in that Hussite war ere it ended. Yes! the unholy alliance between Priestcraft and Kingcraft is now complete. A fact which must be borne in mind, if the after history of Europe, and especially of the Reformation, is to be understood. In that unholy alliance, which since the human mind began to progress beyond the superstitious stage-since mankind began to refuse entire submission to the priest, the Church has sought to render ever more and more complete, we see--what? We see the source of some of the foulest deeds that disgrace the page of history--some of the blackest crimes against humanity that have ever been committed. Does any man doubt! Let him look at the history of Austria, read the annals of Spain, consider the black tale of Neapolitan tyranny-nay, let him look no further than this very Hussite struggle, and he shall see the work of Kingcraft taught by priests, and Priestcraft supported by kings. We see, moreover, in that unholy alliance, the means by which the Church, on the one hand, trading on the credulity and mental slavery of the mass of men, and the State, on the other, profiting by the absence of political freedom, have sought, nay, are at this moment seekingto prevent the coming of that day when men shall be really free-free in soul and body too. The priest, in his weakness, seeks a factitious strength by becoming the tool of kings, whose aid is lent that he may be the more useful tool. And let none think that these considerations belong wholly to the Past, for they have much significance even in the Present. The alliance of which we have spoken is by no means destroyed. And if the issues of the great Reformatory movement, which, in these articles, it is our object to pourtray, were not all they might have been, let us not forget that one cause of this was the aid given to Priestcraft by kings. This reflection, however, may console us, that the work then left undone is our heritage ; that it is ours to achieve, if we will, those issues which were then frustrated.
It has been well said that the dying embers of Huss's funeral pile kindled the mountain fires of Bohemia, and the desire of avenging the death of the martyr became the watchword of hundreds of thousands of armed men. Led by the one-eyed Zisca, the Hussites dealt death among their foes, and the hollow truce completed by Sigismund was only a breathing time, ended by renewed years of slaughter. Like all religious wars, it was a war without mercy ; but one deed, accomplished by the troops of the Church, stands horrible on the page of history-almost unique in its devilish cruelty. A Jarge number of the Hussites had fallen prisoners into the hands of the Church troops ; they laid down their arms on the promise that no harm should come to them; and, believing the promise, they gathered all together into certain barns, which they were informed they might use for sbelter. Thus decoyed to their destruction, they had no sooner all entered than the gates were closed
Waddington, Church Hist., p. 603,
upon them, and the buildings set on fire. In this way many thousands were roasted alive. And Priestcraft sang its Te Deums at the event; and blessed the inhuman wretches who perpetrated this vile and hideous deed.
The age was drunk with passion and with blood. Thus hunted to death by the Church, the truth taught by Huss developed and branched off into heresies of manifold and fantastic kinds. As ever in such circumstances, religion became fanaticism. As an illustration of this we may mention the Adamites--a sect of the Hussites, one among many others that might be mentioned—who taught (and practically exemplified the teaching) that the primitive innocence which they believed belonged to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, would be restored to the world if mankind would return to the state of natural nudity which they supposed distinguished their first parents. The effect produced by this may be imagined but cannot be described. Take this fact too, that when Procop, one of the Hussite leaders, fell in battle, his followers tanned his skin and made thereof a drum, which “ beat through Germany its murderous roll,” making martial music in many a future contest. This was the century, also, when the remarkable phenomenon appeared which is known as the “Dance of Death, a phenomenon which in those days must have appeared all the more terrible, seeing that the science of that time would fail to find any sufficient explanation of it. Modern science, however, explains it as a result arising from the shock which the nervous systems of men sustained by the manifold miseries of the time, and the morbid state of mind engendered by the universal terror which reigned through Europe, and the equally universal spiritual death.
Extremes meet, they say; and even as Tragedy easily slides into Farce, so the accumulated horrors-physical and spiritual—which marked this age, found expression in this maniacal dance, equally terrible and absurd. The Dance of Death became general in many countries of Europe. One would suddenly begin a convulsive dance in the street, presently a passer-by would seize his hand, then another and another. Round and round they whirl ; bystanders looking coldly on erelong find a strange sensation creeping over them, the eye growing dim, the head confused, and involuntarily the coolest and most self-possessed would join the frenzied groups. Round and round they whirl, faster and faster, the circle growing larger and larger every moment with fresh additions. Presently a fresh circle would be formed, and on they went increasing, interlacing, growing vaster, blinder, more rapid, and more phrenzied, every instant. Down the streets of cities and towns they pass, whirling in this mad galop, men and women and children, people even rushing from their houses to join the fearful throng of dancers. Nothing will stop them while the circle remains entire; they will dance themselves into Eternity unless the chain can be broken, On they go, whirl. ing and spinning with all the might that is in them, every nerve convulsed in the dreadful effort. And only when some bystander is wise enough to break the circle will they cease; he must do it without waiting to look, or he too will begin to dance like the rest. The age, in fact, was mad, delirious. 'Twas time a change should come. Such, then, were some of the fearful results of injustice and passion, so much of which arose out of the state into which Priestcraft had forced humanity, for, as has been well said by Michelet (to whom we are indebted in the above description), it was men's souls which were agitated by convulsions and vertigo, not their bodies merely.
In all these things there is, however, an important teaching for us men of the present, which we must not overlook. We have progressed, it is said, far beyond the men of that time, and the saying is a true one, but let us be careful of giving it a wider application than it deserves. We have progressed; the Black Plagues and other pestilences which then decimated mankind so frequently no longer afflict us. They had their source in the ignorance of God's laws, which led them to leave their cities undrained, themselves uncleaned,--to ignore, in fact, the laws of physical health. They have been destroyed and conquered, by what? By a better scientific knowledge, by an earnest search after the laws which govern man's physical existence, and by careful attention thereto, freed from the prejudices which were based upon the ignorance of that old time. We are, therefore, safe from the recurrence of those dreadful scourges. But are we free from the plague of fanaticism ; are we as safe from the recurrence of the morbid moral phenomena of that time? We are not; nor does it need that the evidence should now be adduced, for all who are capable of learning aught from it are already but too well-acquainted with it. True, the disease spreads not so wide as in that old time, because the mental strength ensured by our progress in other fields, stands in the way of its becoming so widespread ; but still the facts of our time shew its existence among us. Nor will it be uprooted until we make our religion scientific; until with a freedom from prejudice equal to that with which the exact sciences are studied, we seek the laws of moral health ; until, in short, we destroy the source of fanaticism by uprooting Priestcraft; and are to be as reasonable and active and free in urging on religious progress, as the wisest amongst us are in advancing scientific discovery.
JAS. L. GOODING.
SOUTH PLACE CHAPEL SUNDAY EVENING LECTURES.
BY P. W. PERFITT, Pr. D.
(Continued from p. 80.) But returning to Elijah, we find that he bas gone on the way towards Samaria, and there he met Obadiah, a minister of Ahab's. We are informed that so severe had been the pressure of famine, that the king resolved to search the land in one way, and ordered Obadiah to search in another, to see if there could any springs be found beside which the cattle could be kept alive. Obadiah was out on this mission when he met Elijah, and the following conversation ensued: “And as " Obadiah was on his way, behold Elijah met him; and Obadiah knew him, and “ fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah ? And he answered him. "I am : go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I "sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hands of Ahab, to slay « me? As the Lord thy God livetli, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my
lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took "an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou “sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijalı is here. And it shall come to pass, as “soon as I am gone from thec, that the Spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither “I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he " shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth. Was it not told “my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the Lord, how I hid an “hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread “and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and “ he shall slay me. And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I
“stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to-day. So Obadiah went to meet “Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah."*
That Ahab in his anger and misery lad diligently sought after Elijah is perfectly consistent with the idea common to the age, and to which I alluded in my last week's lecture. It was generally supposed that the prophet had wickedly put a spell upon the land the famine was believed to be the consequence of his supernatural arts. The idea is not represented as having entered the mind of Ahab or any of his people, that the famine, with all its horrors and miseries, had come as a punishment from God, else we may be sure there had been some change in his conduct, for man, as we know him to be constituted, is not capable of consciously fighting against the Divinity-he cannot knowingly take up arms to war with God. To the king it seemed perfectly clear that the famine was dependant upon Elijah'; the prophet was considered as the sole cause; he had cursed, or placed the land under a ban, and that “the prophet's curse," or command, would be fulfilled, was the universally settled conviction in the mind of the king and people. Hence it was that when Abab came into the presence of Elijah bis first question was, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?" indicating, as clearly as language can indicate, that the thought which was then uppermost in his mind was that Elijah had been the sole cause, and was the only responsible instrument, of the agonies, the sufferings, and the deaths, which he as a monarch had been compelled to witness.
But the consequences of his interview were most memorable. According to the narrative Elijah boldly told Ahab that it was the wickedness of himself and of his father's house which had troubled Israel, and then followed up his charge by demanding that the king should collect together the priests of Baal, and those who had their meat from the table of Jezebel, “Bring them all together,” said he, “ to Mount Carmel.”
It has been urged that if what is said were true that Ahab liad previously sought after the life of Elijah-he would not now have obeyed, but would have seized and bound him; but they who thus speak cannot have sufficiently studied human nature. Ahab thought, when Elijah was at a distance, that, could he but take him, he would compel him to remove the spell, but when standing in the presence of the prophet he discovered himself to be impotent. The terror of his power as a prophet bound both the hand and tongue of the king, and he could neither injure nor order any injury to be inflicted upon him. And, indeed, were we to abandon the argument derived from the supernatural, still the superiority of Elijah's mental resources was enough to bind the weak king, and to render him powerless. The man of strong will must conquer the man whose will is weak, and hence the positive victory achieved upon this occasion.
But upon Mount Carmel it is arranged that the prophets shall be brought together, and in order to realise the whole scene we must enter fully into its spirit. Say that it is but a fancy piece, still, the man who drew it was a master, and a finer dramatic scene was never got together. Mount Carmel stands upon the coast of Palestine, and rises nearly two thousand feet above the water, as the highest peak of a range of mountains of the same name. It resembles a flattened cone, and is certainly one of the finest and most beautiful mountains in that land. The base of the mountain was washed by the ancient river-the river Kishon, while the plain of Sharon spread out towards the south. We are told by enlightened travellers, that “ the prospect from the summit over the gulf of Acre and its “ fertile shores, and over the blue heights of Lebanon, and the white cape, is “ truly enchanting ;”-that “in front the view extends to the distant horizon, “ over the dark blue waters of the Mediterranean;”-that "behind stretches the “great plain of Esdraelon, and the mountains of the Jordan and Judæa;”-that « below, on the right hand, settles the little city of Acre, diminished to a mere “ speck ; while in the far distance beyond, the eye rests upon the summits of « Lebanon, and turning to track the coast on the left hand, takes in the ruins of of Cæsarea, the city of Herod and of the Roman sovereigns of Palestine." It
* 1 Kings, xviii, 7.16,