Luther and the Reformation: eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Luther and the Reformation:.


Tetzel entered the towns with noise and pomp, amid waving of flags, singing, and the ringing of bells.  Clergy, choristers, monks, and nuns moved in procession before and after him.  He himself sat in a gilded chariot, with the Bull of his authority spread out on a velvet cushion before him.

The churches were his salesrooms, lighted and decorated for the occasion as in highest festival.  From the pulpits his boisterous oratory rang, telling the virtues of indulgences, the wonderful power of the keys, and the unexampled grace of which he was the bearer from the holy lord and father at Rome.

He called on all—­robbers, adulterers, murderers, everybody—­to draw near, pay down their money, and receive from him letters, duly sealed, by which all their sins, past and future, should be pardoned and done away.

Not for the living only, but also for the dead, he proposed full and instantaneous deliverance from all future punishments on the payment of the price.  And any wretch who dared to doubt or question the saving power of these certificates he in advance doomed to excommunication and the wrath of God.[7]

Catholic divines have labored hard to whitewash or explain away this stupendous iniquity; but, with all they have said or may say, such were the presentations made by the hawkers of these wares and such was the text of the diplomas they issued.

A dispensation or indulgence was nothing more nor less than a pretended letter of credit on Heaven, drawn at will by the pope out of the superabundant merits of Christ and all saints, to count so much on the books of God for so many murders, robberies, frauds, lies, slanders, or debaucheries.  As the matter practically worked, a more profane and devilish traffic never had place in our world than that which the Roman hierarchy thus carried on in the name of the Triune God.


[7] Many of the sayings which Tetzel gave out in his addresses to the people have been preserved, and are amply attested by those who listened to his harangues.

“I would not,” said he, “exchange my privileges for those of St. Peter in heaven.  He saved many by his sermons; I have saved more by my indulgences.”

“Indulgences are the most precious and sublime of all the gifts of God.”

“No sins are so great that these pardons cannot cover them.”

“Not for the living only, but for the dead also, there is immediate salvation in these indulgences.”

“Ye priests, nobles, tradespeople, wives, maidens, young men! the souls of your parents and beloved ones are crying from the depths below:  ’See our torments!  A small alms would deliver us; and you can give it, and you will not.’”

“O dull and brutish people, not to appreciate the grace so richly offered!  This day heaven is open on all sides, and how many are the souls you might redeem if you only would!  Your father is in flames, and you can deliver him for ten groschen, and you do it not!  What punishment must come for neglecting so great salvation!  You should strip your coat from your back, if you have no other, and sell it to purchase so great grace as this, for God hath given all power to the pope.”

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Luther and the Reformation: from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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