His words were at once carried to the ears of Tetzel, who fumed with rage at such impudence toward the authority of the Church. He ascended the pulpit and hurled the curses of God upon the Saxon monk.
* * * * *
Thus an honest pastor finds some of his flock on the way to ruin, and tries to guide them right. He is not thinking of attacking Rome. He is ready to fight and die for holy Mother Church. His very protests are in her behalf. He is on his own rightful field, in faithful pursuit of his own rightful duty. Here the erring hierarchy seeks him out and attacks him. Shall he yield to timid fears and weak advisers, keep silence in his own house, and let the souls he is placed to guard become a prey to the destroyer? Is he not sworn to defend God’s holy Word and Gospel? What will be his eternal fate and that of his people should he now hold his peace?
SERMON ON INDULGENCES.
Without conferring with flesh and blood his resolve was made—a resolve on which hung all the better future of the world—a resolve to take the pulpit against the lying indulgences.
For several days he shut himself in his cell to make sure of his ground and to elaborate what he would say. With eminent modesty and moderation his sentences were wrought, but with a perspicuity and clearness which no one could mistake. A crowded church awaited their delivery. He entered with his brother-monks, and joined in all the service with his usual voice and gravity. Nothing in his countenance or manner betrayed the slightest agitation of his soul. It was a solemn and momentous step for himself and for mankind that he was about to take, but he was as calmly made up to it as to any other duty of his life. The moment came for him to speak; and he spoke.
“I hold it impossible,” said he, “to prove from the Holy Scriptures that divine justice demands from the sinner any other penance or satisfaction than a true repentance, a change of heart, a willing submission to bear the Saviour’s cross, and a readiness to do what good he can.
“That indulgences applied to souls in Purgatory serve to remit the punishments which they would otherwise suffer is an opinion devoid of any foundation.
“Indulgences, so far from expiating or cleansing from sin, leave the man in the same filth and condemnation in which they find him.
“The Church exacts somewhat of the sinner, and what it on its own account exacts it can on its own account remit, but nothing more.
“If you have aught to spare, in God’s name give it for the building of St. Peter’s, but do not buy pardons.
“If you have means, feed the hungry, which is of more avail than piling stones together, and far better than the buying of indulgences.
“My advice is, Let indulgences alone; leave them to dead and sleepy Christians; but see to it that ye be not of that kind.