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THE GREAT SCHISM. 397.
pal books. Usurers or brokers, intervening between the purchasers of benefices and the papal exchequer, were established, and it is said that, under the pressing difficulties of the case, benefices were known to have been sold, many times in succession, to different claimants in one week. Late applicants might obtain a preference for appointments on making a cash payment of twenty-five florins; an increased preference might be had for fifty. It became, at last, no unusual thing to write to kings and prelates for subsidies-a proof how greatly the papacy had been weakened by the events of the times. But religious Europe could not bear with such increasing scandals. The rival popes were incessantly accusing each other of falsehood and all manner of wickedness. At length the public sentiment found its expression in the Council of Pisa, called by the cardinals on their own responsibility. This council summoned the two popes -Benedict XIII. and Gregory XII.-before it; declared the crimes and excesses imputed to them to be true, and deposed them both, appointing in their stead Alexander V. There were now, therefore, three popes. But, besides thus rendering the position of things worse than it was before in this respect, the council had taken the still more extraordinary step of overthrowing the autocracy of the pope. It had been compelled by the force of circumstances to destroy the very foundation of Latin Christianity by assuming the position of superiority over the vicar of Christ. Now might be discerned by men of reflection the purely human nature of the papacy. It had broken down. Out of the theological disputes of preceding years a political principle was obviously emerging; the democratic spirit was developing itself, and the hierarchy was in rebellion against its sovereign. Nor was this great movement limited to the clergy. In every direction the laity participated in it, pecuniary questions being in very many instances the incentive. Things had come to such a condition that it seemed to be of little moment what might be the personal character of the pontiff; the necessities of the position irresistibly drove him to replenish the treasury by shameful means. Thus, on Alexander’s death, Balthazar Cossa, an evil but an able man, who succeeded as John XXIII., was not only compelled to extend the existing simoniacal practices of the ecclesiastical brokers’ offices, but actually to derive revenue from the licensing of prostitutes, gambling-houses, and usurers. In England, for ages a mine of wealth to Rome, the tendency of things was shown by such facts as the remonstrance of the Commons with the crown on the appointment of ecclesiastics to all the great offices; the allegations made by the “Good Parliament” as to the amount of money drawn by Rome from the kingdom. They asserted that it was five times as much as the taxes levied by the king, and that the pope’s revenue from England was greater than the revenue.
of any prince in Christendom. It was shown again by such facts as the passage of the statutes of Mortmain, Provisors, and Prmmunire, and by the universal clamor against the mendicant orders. This dissatisfaction with the clergy was accompanied by a desire for knowledge. Thousands of persons crowded to the universities both on the Continent and in England. In a community thus well prepared, Wiclif found no difficulty in disseminating his views. He had adopted in many’, particulars the doctrines of Berengar. He taught that the bread in the Eucharist is not the real body of Christ, but only its image; that the Roman Church has no true claim to headship over other churches; that its bishop has no more authority than any other bishop; that it is right to deprive a delinquent Church of temporal possessions; that no bishop ought to have prisons for the punishment of those obnoxious to him; and that the Bible alone is a sufficient guide for a Christian man. His translation of the Bible into English was the practical carrying out of that assertion for the benefit of his own countrymen. All classes of society were becoming infected. The government for a season vacillated. It was said that every other man in England was a Lollard. The Lollards were Wiclifites. But the Church at last persuaded the government to let her try her hand, and the statute “de heretico comburendo” was passed, A.D. 1400. William Sautree, a priest who had turned Wiclifite, was the first English martyr. John Badbee, a tailor, who denied transubstantiation accused of having said that, if it were true, there were 20,000 gods in every corn-field in England-next suffered in like manner at the stake, in presence of the Prince of Wales. Lord Cobham, the head of the Lollards, who had denounced the pope as Anti-Christ, the Son of Perdition, was imprisoned; but escaping, became involved in political movements, and suffered at length the double penalty for heresy and treason, being hung on a gallows with a fire blazing at his feet. It is interesting to remark the social rank of these three early martyrs. Heresy was pervading all classes, from the lowest to the highest. The Council of Constance met A.D. 1415. It had a threefold object: 1. The union of the Church under one pope; 2. The reformation of the clergy; 3. The suppression of heresy. Its policy from the first was determined. It proclaimed itself supreme. It demanded the abdication of the pope, John XXIII.; exhibited articles of accusation against him, some of them of such enormity as almost to pass belief, and justifying the epithet that he was “a devil incarnate.” The suffrage of the council was changed. The plan of voting by nations, which reduced the Italians to a single vote, was introduced. These incidental facts may indicate to us that there were present men who understood thoroughly how to manage the machinery of such an assembly, and that the remark of AEneas Sylvius, afterward Pope Pius II., re-

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