King James Bible Adam Clarke Bible Commentary Martin Luther's Writings Wesley's Sermons and Commentary Neurosemantics Audio / Video Bible Evolution Cruncher Creation Science Vincent New Testament Word Studies KJV Audio Bible Family videogames Christian author Godrules.NET Main Page Add to Favorites Godrules.NET Main Page

Bad Advertisement?

Are you a Christian?

Online Store:
  • Visit Our Store

  • CHAPTER 6.

    PROGRESS OF THE REFORMATION IN SPAIN THE circumstances attending the condemnation of Egidius inflicted a severe shock on the infant church of Seville. While the enemies of truth triumphed in his fall, its friends felt “as when a standard-bearer fainteth.”

    His release from imprisonment, and the proofs which he gave of unabated attachment to the doctrine which he had formerly taught, were consolatory to them; but the obstinacy with which he continued to the last to upbraid himself for his imbecility, together with the restraints under which he was laid, threw a melancholy air over his instructions, which had a tendency to discourage those who needed to be animated by the countenance and advice of a person of unbroken courage and high reputation. Providence furnished them with such a head, a little before the death of Egidius, by the return of the individual who had been his associate in his early labors, and who was unquestionably the greatest ornament of the reformed cause in Spain.

    Constantine Ponce de la Fuente was a native of San Clemente de la Mancha, in the diocese of Cuença. Possessing a good taste and a love of genuine knowledge, he evinced an early disgust for the barbarous pedantry of the schools, and attachment to such of his countrymen as sought to revive the study of polite letters. Being intended for the church, he made himself a master of Greek and Hebrew, to qualify him for interpreting the scriptures. At the same time he spoke and wrote his native language with uncommon purity and elegance. Like Erasmus, with whose writings he was first captivated, he was distinguished for his lively wit, which he took pleasure in indulging at the expense of foolish preachers and hypocritical monks. But he was endowed with greater firmness and decision of character than the philosopher of Rotterdam. During his attendance at the university, his youthful spirit had betrayed him into irregularities, of which his enemies afterwards took ungenerous advantage; but these were succeeded by the utmost decorum and correctness of manners, though he always retained his gay temper, and could never deny himself a jest. One of his contemporaries remarked, “that he never knew any man who loved or hated Constantine moderately;” a treatment which is experienced by every person who possesses superior talents and poignancy of wit combined with generosity and benevolence. His knowledge of mankind made him scrupulous in forming intimate friendships, but he treated all his acquaintance with a cordial and easy familiarity. Notwithstanding the opportunities he had of enriching himself, he was so exempt from avarice that his library, which he valued above all his property, was never large.

    His eloquence caused his services in the pulpit to be much sought after; but he was free from vanity, the besetting sin of orators, and scorned to prostitute his talents at the shrine of popularity. He declined the situation of preacher in the cathedral of Cuença, which was offered him by the unanimous vote of the chapter. When the more honorable and lucrative office of preacher to the metropolitan church of Toledo was afterwards put in his offer, and thanking the chapter for their good opinion of him he declined it, alleging as a reason, “that he would not disturb the bones of their ancestors;” alluding to a dispute between them and the archbishop Siliceo, who had insisted that his clergy should prove the purity of their descent. Whether it was predilection for the reformed opinions that induced him at first to fix his residence in Seville, is uncertain; but we have seen that he co-operated with Egidius in his plans for disseminating scriptural knowledge. The emperor having heard him preach during a visit to that city, was so much pleased with the sermon, that he immediately named him one of his chaplains, to which he added the office of almoner; and he soon after appointed him to accompany his son Philip to Flanders, “to let Flemings see that Spain was not destitute of polite scholars and orators.” Constantine made it a point of duty to obey the orders of his sovereign, and reluctantly quitted his residence in Seville, for which he had hitherto rejected the most tempting offers. His journey gave him the opportunity of becoming personally acquainted with some of the reformers.

    Among these was James Schopper, a learned man of Biberach in Suabia, by whose conversation his views of evangelical doctrine were greatly enlarged and confirmed. In 1555 he returned to Seville, and his presence imparted a new impulse to the protestant cause in that city. A benevolent and enlightened individual having founded a professorship of divinity in the College of Doctrine, Constantine was appointed to the chair; and by means of the lectures which he read on the scriptures, together with the instructions of Fernando de St. Juan, provost of the institution, the minds of many of the young men were opened to the truth. On the first Lent after his return to Seville, he was chosen by the chapter to preach every alternate day in the cathedral church. So great was his popularity, that though the public service did not begin till eight o’clock in the morning, yet when he preached, the church was filled by four and even by three o’clock.

    Being newly recovered from a fever when he commenced his labors, he felt so weak that it was necessary for him repeatedly to pause during the sermon, on which occasions he was allowed to recruit his strength by taking a draught of wine in the pulpit; a permission which had never been granted to any other preacher. f344 While Constantine was pursuing this career of honor and usefulness, he involved himself in difficulties by coming forward as a candidate for the place of canon magistral in the cathedral of Seville. There are three canonries in every episcopal church in Spain, which must be obtained by comparative trials. These are chiefly filled by fellows belonging to the six Collegios Mayores, who form a kind of learned aristocracy, which has long possessed great influence in that country. No place of honor or emolument in the church or the departments of law is left unoccupied by these collegians. Fellows in orders, who possess abilities, are kept in reserve for the literary competitions; such as cannot appear to advantage in these trials, are provided through court-favour to stalls in the wealthier cathedrals; while the absolutely dull and ignorant are placed in the tribunals of the Inquisition, where, passing judgment in their secret halls, they may not by their blunders disgrace the college to which they belonged. The place of canon magistral in Seville having become vacant by the death of Egidius, the chapter, in accordance with the general wish of the city, fixed their eyes upon Constantine, as the person most fitted by his talents for filling that important office. Egidius had been introduced into it without engaging in the literary competition; but, in consequence of his unpopularity when he first ascended the pulpit, the canons had entered on their records a resolution that the usual trials should take place in all future elections. Constantine had uniformly ridiculed these literary jousts, as resembling the exercises of schoolboys and the tricks of jugglers. Finding him obstinate in refusing to enter the lists, the chapter were inclined to dispense with their resolution, when Fernando Valdes, the archbishop of Seville and inquisitor general, who had conceived a strong dislike to Constantine on account of a supposed injury which he had received from him when he was preacher to the emperor, interposed his authority to prevent the suspension of the law. A day was accordingly fixed for the trial, and edicts were published in all the principal cities, requiring candidates to make their appearance. The friends of Constantine now pressed him to lay aside his scruples; and an individual, who had great influence over his mind, represented so strongly the services which he would be able to render to the cause of truth in so influential a situation, and the hurtful effects which would result from its being occupied by some noisy and ignorant declaimer, that he consented at last to offer himself as a candidate. The knowledge of this fact prevented others from appearing, with the exception of two individuals who came from a distant part of the country. One of them declined the contest as soon as he became acquainted with the circumstances; but the other, a canon of Malaga, instigated by the archbishop, who wished to mortify his competitor, descended into the arena. Despairing, however, of being able to succeed by polemical skill, or by interest with the chapter, he had recourse to personal charges and insinuations, in which he was supported by all those who envied the fame of Constantine, had felt the sting of his satire, or hated him for his friendship with Egidius. He was accused of having contracted a marriage before he entered into holy orders; it was alleged that there were irregularities in his ordination and the manner in which he obtained his degree of doctor of divinity; and an attempt was made to fasten on him the charge of heresy. In spite of these accusations he carried his election, was installed in his new office, and commenced his duty as preacher in the cathedral with high acceptance. But this contest arrayed a party against him, which sought in every way to thwart his measures, and afterwards found an opportunity to make him feel the weight of its vengeance. f346 Constantine, while he instructed the people of Seville from the pulpit, was exerting himself to diffuse religious knowledge through the nation at large by means of the press. In the character of his writings, we have one of the clearest indications of the excellence of his heart. They were of that kind which was adapted to the spiritual wants of his countrymen, and not calculated to display his own talents, or to acquire for himself a name in the learned world. They were composed in his native tongue, and in a style level to the lowest capacity. Abstruse speculations and rhetorical ornaments, in which he was qualified both by nature and education to excel, were rigidly sacrificed to the one object of being understood by all, and useful to all. Among his works were a Catechism, whose highest recommendation is its artless and infantine simplicity; a small treatise on the doctrine of Christianity, drawn up in the familiar form of a Dialogue between a master and his pupil; an Exposition of the first Psalm in four sermons, which show that his pulpit eloquence, exempt from the common extremes, was neither degraded by vulgarity, nor rendered disgusting by affectation and effort at display; and the Confession of a sinner, in which the doctrines of the gospel, poured from a contrite and humbled spirit, assume the form of the most edifying and devotional piety. His Summary of Christian Doctrine, without being deficient in simplicity, is more calculated to interest persons of learning and advanced knowledge. In this work he proposed to treat first of the articles of faith; and secondly, of good works and the sacrament. The first part only came from the press; f348 the second being kept back until such time as it could be printed with greater safety, a period which never arrived. It was not the author’s object to lay down or defend the protestant doctrines, but to exhibit from the scriptures, and without intermeddling with modern disputes, the great truths of the gospel. The work was translated into Italian, and has been highly praised by some Roman catholic writers. But it was viewed with great suspicion by the ruling clergy, who took occasion from it to circulate reports unfavorable to the author’s orthodoxy, and held secret consultations on the propriety of denouncing him to the Inquisition. They complained that he had not condemned the Lutheran errors, nor vindicated the supremacy of the bishop of Rome; and that, if at any time he mentioned indulgences, purgatory and human merit, instead of extolling, he derogated from these authorized doctrines of the church, by warning his readers not to risk their salvation on them. When these charges came to the ears of Constantine, he contented himself with saying, that these topics did not properly belong to the first part of his treatise, but that he would explain his views respecting them in his second volume, which he was preparing for the press. This reply, backed by the popularity of which he was in possession, silenced his adversaries for that time. f350 Previously to the period of which we have been speaking, an occurrence took place which had nearly proved fatal to the disciples of the reformed faith in Seville. Francisco Zafra, a doctor of laws, and vicar of the parish church of San Vicente, had long cherished a secret predilection for the Lutheran sentiments. Being a man of learning, he was frequently called, in the character of qualificator , to pronounce judgment on the articles laid to the charge of persons denounced to the Holy Office, and had been instrumental in saving the lives of many individuals, who otherwise would have been condemned as heretics. He had received into his house Maria Gomez, a widow, who was a zealous and constant attendant on the private meetings of the protestants, and consequently well acquainted with all the persons of that persuasion in the city. In the year 1555 she became deranged in her intellect, and having conceived, as is not unusual with persons in that unhappy state of mind, a violent antipathy to her former friends, she talked of nothing but vengeance on heretics. It was found necessary to lay her under an easy restraint; but, escaping from her domestic confinement, she went straight to the castle of Triana, in which the inquisitors held their sittings, and, having obtained an audience, told them that the city was full of Lutherans, while they, whose duty it was to guard against the entrance and spread of this plague, were slumbering at their post. She ran over the names of those whom she accused, amounting to the number of more than three hundred. The inquisitors had no apprehension of the extent to which the reformed doctrines had been embraced in Seville, and could not but perceive marks of derangement in the appearance and incoherent talk of the informer; but, acting according to the maxim of their tribunal, that no accusation is to be disregarded, they resolved to make inquiry, and ordered the instant attendance of Zafra. Had he yielded to the sudden impressions of fear, and attempted to make his escape, the consequences would have been fatal to himself and his religious connections. Instead of this, he, with great presence of mind, repaired on the first notice to the Holy Office, treated the accusation with indifference, stated the symptoms of the woman’s distemper, with the reason which induced him to confine her, and referred to the members of his family and the neighbours for the truth of the facts. His statement, together with the character which he bore, succeeded in removing the suspicions of the inquisitors, who were persuaded that Maria labored under a confirmed lunacy, and that her representations had no other foundation than the visionary workings of a disordered brain. Accordingly they requested Zafra to take the unfortunate woman along with him, and to keep her under a stricter confinement than that from which she had escaped. Thus did this dark cloud pass away, by the kindness of Providence, which watched over a tender flock, yet not sufficiently prepared for encountering the storm of persecution. f352 In the mean time the protestant church in Seville was regularly organized, and placed under the pastoral inspection of Christobal Losada, a doctor of medicine. He had paid his addresses to the daughter of a respectable member of that society, and was rejected on a religious ground; but having afterwards become acquainted with Egidius, he embraced the reformed opinions, and recommended himself so strongly to those of the same faith by his knowledge of the scriptures, and other gifts, that they unanimously chose him as their pastor. His future conduct did not disgrace their choice. He was assisted by a friar named Cassiodoro, whose ministry was uncommonly successful. The church met ordinarily in the house of Isabella de Baena, a lady not less distinguished for her piety than for her rank and opulence. Among the nobility who attached themselves to it, the two most distinguished were Don Juan Ponce de Leon, and Domingo de Guzman. The former was a younger son of Don Rodrigo, count de Baylen, cousin german of the duke D’Arcos, and allied to the principal grandees of Spain. So unbounded was this nobleman in charity to the poor, that, by distributing to their necessities, he encumbered his patrimonial estate, and reduced himself to those straits in which others of his rank involve themselves by prodigality and dissipation. He was equally unsparing in his personal exertions to promote the reformed cause. f356 Domingo de Guzman was a son of the duke de Medina Sidonia, and being destined for the church, had entered the order of St. Dominic. His extensive library contained the principal Lutheran publications, which he lent and recommended with uncommon industry. f357 Most of the religious institutions in Seville and the neighborhood were leavened with the new doctrines. The preacher of the Dominican monastery of St. Paul’s was zealous in propagating them. They had disciples in the convent of St. Elizabeth, a nunnery established according to the rule of St. Francis d’Assisa. But they made the greatest progress in the Hieronymite convent of San Isidro del Campo, situated within two miles of Seville. This was owing in a great degree to a person whose singular character merits examination.

    Garcia de Arias, commonly called Doctor Blanco, on account of the extreme whiteness of his hair, possessed an acute mind and extensive information; but he was undecided and vacillating in his conduct, partly from timidity and partly from caution and an excess of refinement. He belonged to that class of subtle politicians, who, without being destitute of conscience, are wary in committing themselves, forfeit the good opinion of both parties by failing to yield a consistent support to either, and trusting to their address and dexterity to extricate themselves from difficulties, are sometimes caught in the toils of their own intricate management. There is no reason to question the sincerity of his attachment to the reformed tenets, but his adoption of them was known only to the leaders of the Sevillian church, with whom he was secretly in correspondence. By the ruling clergy, he was regarded not only as strictly orthodox, but as the ablest champion of their cause, and accordingly was consulted by them on every important question relative to the established faith. An anecdote which has been preserved is strikingly illustrative of his character and mode of acting. Gregorio Ruiz, in a sermon preached by him in the cathedral of Seville, employed expressions favorable to the protestant doctrine concerning justification and the merit of Christ’s death, in consequence of which he was denounced to the Inquisition, and had a day fixed for answering the charges brought against him. In the prospect of this, he took the advice of Arias, with whose real sentiments he was perfectly acquainted, and to whom he confidentially communicated the line of defence which he meant to adopt. But on the day of his appearance, and after he had pleaded for himself, what was his surprise to find the man whom he had trusted rise, at the request of the inquisitors, and in an elaborate speech refute all the arguments which he had produced! When his friends remonstrated with Arias on the impropriety of his conduct, he vindicated himself by alleging that he had adopted the course which was safest for Ruiz and them; but, galled by the censures which they pronounced on the duplicity and baseness with which he had acted, he began to threaten that he would inform against them to the Holy Office. “And if we shall be forced to descend into the arena,” said Constantine to him, “do you expect to be permitted to sit among the spectators?”

    Yet this was the man who was made the instrument of conveying the light of divine truth into the convent of San Isidro, when it was immersed in the most profound ignorance and superstition. Without laying aside his characteristic caution, he taught his brethren, that true religion was something very different from what it was vulgarly supposed to be; that it did not consist in chanting matins and vespers, or performing any of those acts of bodily service, in which their time was consumed; and that if they expected to obtain the approbation of God, it behoved them to have recourse to the scriptures to know his mind. By inculcating these things in his sermons and in private conversation, he produced in the breasts of the monks a feeling of dissatisfaction with the circular and monotonous devotions of the cloister, and a spirit of inquiry after a purer and more edifying piety. But from versatility, or with the view of providing for his future safety, he all at once altered his plans, and began to recommend, by doctrine and example, austerities and bodily mortifications more rigid than those which were enjoined by the monastic rules of his order. During Lent he urged his brethren to remove every article of furniture from their cells, to lie on the bare earth, or sleep standing, and to wear shirts of haircloth, with iron girdles, next their bodies. The monastery was for a time thrown into confusion, and some individuals were reduced to a state of mind bordering on distraction. But this attempt to revive superstition produced a reaction which led to the happiest consequences. Suspecting the judgment or the honesty of the individual to whom they had hitherto looked up as an oracle, some of the more intelligent resolved to take the advice of Egidius and his friends in Seville; and having received instructions from them, began to teach the doctrines of the gospel to their brethren in a plain and undisguised manner; so that, within a few years, the whole convent was leavened with the new opinions. The person who had the greatest influence in effecting this change was Cassiodoro de Reyna, afterwards celebrated as the translator of the Bible into the language of his country. f361 A more decided change on the internal state of this monastery took place in the course of the year 1557. An ample supply of copies of the scriptures and protestant books, in the Spanish language, having been received, they were read with avidity by the monks, and contributed at once to confirm those who had been enlightened, and to extricate others from the prejudices by which they were inthralled. In consequence of this, the prior and other official persons, in concurrence with the fraternity, agreed to reform their religious institute. Their hours of prayer, as they were called, which had been spent in solemn mummeries, were appointed for hearing prelections on the scriptures; prayers for the dead were omitted, or converted into lessons for the living; papal indulgences and pardons, which had formed a lucrative and engrossing traffic, were entirely abolished; images were allowed to remain, without receiving homage; habitual temperance was substituted in the room of superstitious fasting; and novices were instructed in the principles of true piety, instead of being initiated into the idle and debasing habits of monachism. Nothing remained of the old system but the monastic garb and the external ceremony of the mass, which they could not lay aside, without exposing themselves to imminent and inevitable danger. f362 The good effects of this change were felt without the monastery of San Isidro del Campo. By their conversation, and by the circulation of books, these zealous monks diffused the knowledge of the truth through the adjacent country, and imparted it to many individuals who resided in towns at a considerable distance from Seville. In particular, their exertions were successful in religious houses of the Hieronymite order; and the prior and many of the brotherhood of the Valle de Ecija, situated on the banks of the Xenil, were among the converts to the reformed faith. Individuals of the highest reputation belonging to that order incurred the suspicion of heresy. Juan de Regla, prior of Santa Fe, and provincial of the Hieronymites in Spain, was a divine greatly celebrated for his talents and learning, and had assisted at the council of Trent during its second convocation. Being denounced to the inquisition of Saragossa, he was condemned to penance, and the abjuration of eighteen propositions savoring of Lutheranism. After his recantation, he verified the maxim respecting apostates, by his bitter persecution of those who were suspected of holding the new opinions, and was advanced to the office of confessor, first to Charles V. and afterwards to Philip II. Francisco de Villalba, a Hieronymite monk of Montamarta, sat in the council of Trent along with Regla, and was preacher to Charles and Philip. He waited on the former in his last moments, and pronounced his funeral oration with such appalling eloquence, that several of his hearers declared that he made their hair stand erect. After the emperor’s death, a process was commenced against Villalba before the inquisition of Toledo, in which he was accused of having taught certain Lutheran errors. At the same time an attempt was made, in a chapter of the monks of St. Jerome, to attaint his blood, by showing that he was of Jewish extraction. This charge was refuted. But it was not so easy to put a stop to his trial before the inquisitors; all that he could obtain, through the intervention of the court, was, that his incarceration should be delayed until additional witnesses should be found; and while matters remained in this state, he was released from persecution, by the hand of death. f366 While the reformed doctrine was advancing in Seville and its vicinity, it was not stationary at Valladolid. The protestants in this city had for their first pastor Domingo de Roxas, a young man of good talents, and allied to some of the principal grandees of Spain. His father was Don Juan, first marquis de Poza; his mother was a daughter of the conde de Salinas, and descended from the family of the marquis de la Mota. Being destined for the church, Domingo de Roxas had entered into the order of Dominicans.

    He was educated under Bartolome de Carranza, from whom he imbibed opinions more liberal than those which were common either in the colleges or convents of Spain. But the disciple did not confine himself to the timid course pursued by the master. The latter made use of the same language with the reformers respecting justification, and some other articles of faith; but he cautiously accompanied it with explications intended to secure him against the charge of heterodoxy. The former was bolder in his speculations, and less reserved in avowing them. Notwithstanding the warnings which he received from Carranza to be diffident of his own judgment, and submissive to the decisions of the church, De Roxas repudiated as unscriptural the doctrine of purgatory, the mass, and other articles of the established faith. Beside the books of the German reformers, with which he was familiar, he circulated certain writings of his own, and particularly a treatise entitled, Explication of the Articles of Faith; containing a brief statement and defence of the new opinions. By his zealous exertions, many were induced to join themselves to the reformed church in Valladolid, among whom were several individuals belonging to his own family, as well as that of the marquis of Alcagnizes, and other noble houses of Castille. f367 The protestants at Valladolid obtained an instructor of greater talents and reputation, though of inferior courage, in Doctor Augustin Cazalla. This learned man was the son of Pedro Cazalla, chief officer of the royal finances, and of Leanor de Vibero, both of them descended from Jewish ancestors. In 1526 a process was commenced before the Inquisition against Constanza Ortiz, the mother of Leanor de Vibero, as having died in a state of relapse to Judaism; but her son-in-law, by his influence with the inquisitor Moriz, prevented her bones from being disturbed, and averted the infamy which otherwise would have been entailed on his family. His son, Augustin Cazalla, was born in 1510, and at seventeen years of age had Bartolome Carranza for his confessor. After attending the college of San Gregorio at Valladolid, he finished his studies at Alcala de Henares, and was admitted a canon of Salamanca. The interest possessed by his father, together with his own talents, opened up to him the most flattering prospect of advancement in the church. Being esteemed one of the first pulpit orators in Spain, he was in 1545 chosen preacher and almoner to the emperor, whom he accompanied in the course of the following year to Germany. During his residence in that country, he was engaged in opposing the Lutherans, by preaching and private disputation. f371 Spanish writers impute the extensive spread of the protestant opinions in the Peninsula, in a great degree, to the circumstance that their learned countrymen, being sent into foreign parts to confute the Lutherans, returned with their minds infected with heresy; an acknowledgment not very honorable to the cause which they maintain, as it implies that their national creed owes its support chiefly to ignorance, and that, when brought to the light of scripture and argument, its ablest defenders were convinced of its weakness and falsehood. “Formerly,” says the author of the Pontifical History, “such Lutheran heretics as were now and then apprehended and committed to the flames, were almost all either strangers,—Germans, Flemings, and English, or, if Spaniards, they were mean people and of a bad race; but in these late years, we have seen the prisons, scaffolds, and stakes, crowded with persons of noble birth, and, what is still more to be deplored, with persons illustrious, in the opinion of the world, for letters and piety. The cause of this, and many other evils, was the affection which our catholic princes cherished for Germany, England, and other countries without the pale of the church, which induced them to send learned men and preachers from Spain to these places, in the hopes that, by their sermons, they would be brought back to the truth. But unhappily, this measure was productive of little good fruit; for of those who went abroad to give light to others, some returned home blind themselves, and being deceived, or puffed up with ambition, or a desire to be thought vastly learned, and improved by their residence in foreign countries, they followed the example of the heretics with whom they had disputed.” This important fact is confirmed by the testimony of contemporary protestant writers, with a particular reference to those divines whom Philip II. brought along with him into England, on his marriage with queen Mary. “It is much more notable,” says the venerable Pilkington, “that we have seen come to pass in our days, that the Spaniards sent for into the realm on purpose to suppress the gospel, as soon as they were returned home, replenished many parts of their country with the same truth of religion to the which before they were utter enemies.” It is probable that these authors include in their statement those divines who were accused to the Inquisition, and thrown into prison, on suspicion of heresy, though they were averse to Lutheranism, or, at most, favorably inclined to it in some points connected with the doctrine of justification.

    But there are at least two striking instances of the truth of their remark. It was during his attendance on the emperor in Germany, as we have already seen, that Constantine Ponce de la Fuente decidedly embraced the reformed faith; and Augustin de Cazalla became a convert to it in the same circumstances. f374 On returning to Spain in 1552, Cazalla took up his residence at Salamanca, where he remained for three years. But he kept up an epistolary correspondence with the protestants of Seville; and his office of royal chaplain leading him occasionally to visit Valladolid, he was induced by Domingo de Roxas to fix his abode in this city. He still continued, however, to be regarded as a patron of the established faith, and was consulted on the most important questions of an ecclesiastical kind. Soon after his return to Spain he was nominated by the emperor as a member of a junta of divines and lawyers, who were called to give their opinion on the conduct of Julius III. in transferring the general council from Trent to Bologna; on which occasion he joined with his colleagues in declaring that the pope was actuated in that measure more by personal considerations than regard to the good of the church. He also preached at different times before Charles V. after his retirement into the convent of St. Juste, when he had for hearers the princess Joanna, who governed Spain in the absence of her brother Philip II., together with other members of the royal family. In spite of the caution which he used on these occasions, his real sentiments were discovered by the more intelligent of those who frequented the court; but they were unwilling to fix the stigma of heresy on a person of so great reputation, and could not permit themselves to believe that he would rush upon certain danger by transgressing the line of prudence which he appeared to have prescribed to himself. In this opinion, however, they were deceived. After his settlement at Valladolid his mother’s house became the ordinary place in which the protestant church assembled for worship. The greater part of his relations were among its members. He could not resist the pressing requests which were made to him to take the charge of its spiritual interests; and favored with his talents and the authority of his name, it increased daily in numbers and respectability. f377 At Valladolid, as at Seville, the reformed doctrine penetrated into the monasteries. It was embraced by a great portion of the nuns of Santa Clara, and of the Cistercian order of San Belen; and had its converts among the class of devout women, called in Spain beatas , who are bound by no particular rule, but addict themselves to works of charity. f379 The protestant opinions spread in every direction round Valladolid. They had converts in almost all the towns, and in many of the villages, of the ancient kingdom of Leon. In the town of Toro they were embraced by the licentiate Antonio Herezuelo, an advocate of great spirit, and by individuals belonging to the houses of the marquises de la Mota and d’Alcagnizes. f380 In the city of Zamora the protestants were headed by Don Christobal de Padilla, a cavalier, who had undertaken the task of tutor to a noble family of that place, that he might have the better opportunity of propagating the knowledge of the truth. The reformed opinions were also introduced into Aldea del Palo and Pedroso, in the diocese of Zamora. In the last of these villages they had numerous converts, who enjoyed the instructions of Pedro de Cazalla, their parish priest. Their spread was equally extensive in the diocese of Palencia. In the episcopal city they were taught by Doctor Alfonso Perez, a priest, and patronized by Don Pedro Sarmiento, a cavalier of the order of Santiago, commander of Quintana, and a son of the marquis de Roxas. The parish priest of the neighboring villages of Hormigos belonged to the family of Cazalla, which was wholly protestant. From Valladolid, the new opinions were diffused through Old Castile to Soria in the diocese of Osma, and to Logrono on the borders of Navarre. In the last-named town they were embraced by numbers, including the individual who was at the head of the custom-house, and the parish priest of Villamediana in the neighbourhood of Logrono. f384 The propagation of the reformed doctrine in all these places was owing in a great degree to Don Carlos de Seso. This distinguished nobleman was born at Verona in Italy. Having performed important services for Charles V., he was held in great honor by that monarch, through whose interest he obtained in marriage Donna Isabella de Castilla, a descendant of the royal family of Castile and Leon. De Seso was not less elevated by dignity of character, mental accomplishments and decorum of manners, than by his birth and connexions. While he resided at Valladolid he connected himself with the protestants in that city. At Toro, of which he was corregidor, or mayor, at Zamora, and at Palencia, he zealously promoted the cause of reformation, by the circulation of books and by personal instructions. After his marriage, he settled at Villamediana, and was most successful in diffusing religious knowledge in the city of Logrono, and in all the surrounding country. f385 The reformed cause did not make so great progress in New Castile, but it was embraced by many in different parts of that country, and particularly in the city of Toledo. It had also adherents in the provinces of Granada, f387 of Murcia, and of Valencia. But, with the exception of the places around Seville and Valladolid, nowhere were they more numerous than in Aragon. They had formed settlements in Saragossa, Huesca, Balbastro, and many other towns. This being the case, it may appear singular that we have no particular account of the protestants in the eastern parts of Spain.

    But one reason serves to account for both facts. The inhabitants of Bearn were generally protestants; and many of them, crossing the Pyrenees, spread themselves over Aragon, and, at the same time that they carried on trade, found the opportunity of circulating their religious books and tenets among the natives. When violent measures were adopted for crushing the Reformation in Spain, the greater part of them made good their retreat, without difficulty and without noise, to their native country, where the proselytes they had made found an asylum along with them; whereas their brethren who were situated in the interior of the kingdom either fell into the hands of their prosecutors, or, escaping with great difficulty, were dispersed over all parts of Europe; and thus the tragical fate of the one class, and the narrow and next to miraculous escape of the other, by exciting deep interest in the public mind, caused their names and their history to be inquired after and recorded.

    By the facts which have been brought forward, the reader will be enabled to form an estimate of the extent to which the reformed doctrine was propagated in Spain, and of the respectability, as well as number, of its disciples. Perhaps there never was in any other country so large a proportion of persons, illustrious either from their rank or their learning, among the converts to a new and proscribed religion. This circumstance helps to account for the singular fact, that a body of dissidents, who could not amount to fewer than two thousand persons, scattered over an extensive country, and loosely connected with one another, should have been able to communicate their sentiments, and hold their private meetings, for a number of years, without being detected by a court so jealous and vigilant as that of the Inquisition. In forming a judgment of the tendency which existed at this time in the minds of Spaniards toward the reformed doctrine, we must take into account, not only the numbers who embraced it, but also the peculiar and almost unprecedented difficulties which resisted its progress. At the beginning of Christianity, the apostles had for some time the external liberty of preaching the gospel; and when persecution forced them to flee from one city, they found “an effectual door” opened to them in another. Luther, and his co-adjutors in Germany, were enabled to proclaim their doctrine from the pulpit and the press, under the protection of princes and free cities, possessing an authority within their own territories which was independent of the emperor. The reformers of Scotland enjoyed a similar advantage under their feudal chiefs.

    The breach of Henry VIII. with the pope, on a domestic ground, gave the people of England the Bible in their own language, which they were at least permitted to hear read from the pulpits, to which it was chained. In France, a Hugonot could not be seized without the concurrence and orders of the magistrates, who sometimes proved reluctant and dilatory. And the same check was imposed on the violence of a persecuting priesthood, in many of the Italian states. But not one of these advantages was enjoyed by the friends of the Reformation in Spain, where the slightest expression of public opinion in favor of the truth was prevented or instantly put down by a terrific tribunal, armed with both swords, and present at once in every part of the kingdom. That flame must have been intense, and supplied with ample materials of combustion, which could continue to burn and to spread in all directions, though it was closely pent up, and the greatest care was taken to search out and secure every aperture and crevice by which it might find a vent, or come into communication with the external atmosphere. Had these obstructions to the progress of the reformed doctrine in Spain been removed, though only in part and for a short time, it would have burst into a flame, which resistance would only have increased, and which, spreading over the Peninsula, would have consumed the Inquisition, the hierarchy, the papacy, and the despotism by which they had been reared and were upheld. These were not the sanguine anticipations of enthusiastic friends to the Reformation, but the deliberately-expressed sentiments of its decided enemies. “Had not the Inquisition taken care in time,” says one of them, “to put a stop to these preachers, the protestant religion would have run through Spain like wildfire; people of all ranks, and of both sexes, having been wonderfully disposed to receive it.” The testimony of another popish writer is equally strong. “All the prisoners in the inquisitions of Valladolid, Seville, and Toledo, were persons abundantly well-qualified. I shall here pass over their names in silence, that I may not, by their bad fame, stain the honor of their ancestors, and the nobility of the several illustrious families which were infected with this poison. And as these prisoners were persons thus qualified, so their number was so great, that had the stop put to that evil been delayed two or three months longer, I am persuaded all Spain would have been set in a flame by them.” I subjoin the reflection of a protestant author, who resided for a considerable time in Spain, and, feeling a deep interest in this portion of its history, drew up a short account of its protestant martyrs. “So powerful (says he) were the doctrines of the Reformation in those days, that no prejudices nor interests were any where strong enough to hinder piously-disposed minds, after they came thoroughly to understand them, from embracing them. And that the same doctrines have not still the same divine force, is neither owing to their being grown older, nor to popery’s not being so gross, nor to any change in people’s natural dispositions, but is owning purely to the want of the same zeal for those doctrines in their professors, and especially for the three great doctrines of the Reformation, which the following martyrs sealed with their blood: which were, that the pope is antichrist; that the worship of the church of Rome is idolatrous; and that a sinner is justified in the sight of God by faith, and through Christ’s and not through his own merits. f394


    God Rules.NET
    Search 80+ volumes of books at one time. Nave's Topical Bible Search Engine. Easton's Bible Dictionary Search Engine. Systematic Theology Search Engine.