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their enemies, at the same time that he raiseth up suitable pastors to 'feed them with wisdom and knowledge,' very many individuals in Schneidemühl had been led to read the Bible, and hence to hunger and thirst for a purer milk of doctrine than their old probst could, or did dispense to them, but which they found in the zealous preaching of the young priest thus providentially sent to meet their wants and wishes. Pastor and people went on reading and learning from God's word; and the freedom with which Czerski, on all occasions, avowed his religious sentiments, rendered it impossible that this new thing in the land' could long remain hid from the satellites of Rome. Czerski was summoned to give account of his doctrine before an ecclesiastical tribunal. He, no less than his people, felt that they must now decide on submission, or separation. They chose the latter; and, after some intermediate ecclesiastical forms had been observed, excommunication was pronounced upon Czerski and all his adherents, whether present or future. This sentence deprived Czerski of his office, and threw him penniless upon the world. But this was the very fittest soil for the growth and prosperity of the divine seed. All whose hearts had previously felt with him, and many more, whose eyes were by this very proceeding opened to the uncompromising tyranny of Rome, rallied closely round the victim of papal denunciation; and with high-hearted courage, the little band dared to raise the banner of spiritual liberty in the face of Germany, and openly abjured the dark and degrading servitude of the Roman hierarchy. On the 27th of October, 1844, the new Apostolic Catholic church in Schneidemühl, sent in a written declaration of the step they had taken to the Prussian district government in Bromberg, and solicited its protection.'
The account which Czerski has given of his early life and spiritual struggles, will interest our readers.
'I was born of poor, but pious parents, in Werlubien, a small village in the neighbourhood of Neuenburg, where, until my thirteenth year, I attended the parish school, in which, however, I only learned to read Polish, and the first rudiments of arithmetic; but, having a great thirst for instruction, I was sent to the grammarschool in Bromberg, which after nine months' attendance, I exchanged for the gymnasium, or high school of Conitz, where I worked my way up to the highest class. And here, I cannot refrain from returning publicly my heartfelt thanks to the Conitz professors, for the cordial and conscientious manner in which they met my open and straight-forward disposition, aiming, as became able and honest men, to facilitate the free and unartificial development of my mind and character.
'After having maintained my place in the first class of the gymnasium for eighteenth months, I was received into the alumnat (or theological department) of the St. Mary's gymnasium in Posen, leaving it again after a residence of six months (with a testimonial to having completed the prescribed course), in order to enter the
episcopal seminary. There began for me a period of internal conflict and doubt. I studied theology with the utmost eagerness; but being unable to reconcile to my own mind various propounded dogmas, I compared them with the Bible. This raised, in some degree, the bandage from my eyes; I began to suspect that the pure light of the gospel had been dimmed and obscured by human interpretation: still, I did not see clearly; and these doubts led me into frequent argumentative collisions with my fellow collegians upon isolated articles of belief. Several works (among others, Sarpi's Historia Concilii Tridentini) were only conceded to my perusal with the greatest difficulty in the seminary; for the whole education of a priest must, as the hierarchy expresses it, be conducted in reference to the church; and that, as the clergy have the presumption to deem themselves the church, means neither more nor less, than that all must be conducted and judged of, with reference to the views and interests of a selfish hierarchy. In this view, the reading of the Bible is regulated; and, on the same principle, the perusal of many other excellent and enlightened books forbidden: in short, the clergy train the young priestly plant entirely to their own taste, aud water it with water from the Tiber, in order to secure that the full-grown tree may bring forth only Roman fruit.
'But the bandage was soon to be wholly removed from my eyes; I was soon to see more clearly, and acknowledge more fully, that 'man should worship and serve God, and him only' (Matt. iv. 10). I was to behold the glory of God with unveiled face, and be led from one clear light to another, as by the Lord the Spirit' (2 Cor. iii. 18, Luther's translation), and learn at once to know and cast from me the code of lying papal laws which, twining itself round the consciences of men, precludes the exercise of moral freedom.
I became vicar of the cathedral of Posen, and spent eighteen months in that capital of priestly rule. There my eyes were opened indeed, for I made in Posen the same discovery which Luther did long ago in Rome.
'I applied myself anew to the study of the Bible. I examined some books which had previously been prohibited to me; and I became convinced of what I had before suspected, that I was not serving God, but a human despotic power. I read John xiv. 6, 'I (that is, Christ) am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me;' and 1 Tim. xi. 5, For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;' and I asked myself, 'How can these texts be made to agree with the worship of saints, and even of inanimate things, as recently exhibited in the coat of Treves?'
'Again, I read in Matt. vii. 1, Judge not, that ye be not judged ;' and I pondered, What then can entitle us to pass sentence in the confessional on the faults and frailties of men, we ourselves being weak and fallible creatures, who have all sinned and come short of the glory of God?' I found written in 1 Tim. iii. 2, A bishop must
be blameless, the husband of one wife;' and in Cor. vii. 2, 'Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife;' and lastly, I read, 1 Tim. iv. 1-6, and I could not help shuddering when I compared the lives of most priests with those words of Holy Writ, and thought on the weight and importance attached to the mere abstinence from meats, while real crimes were palliated or sanctioned; for oh, how many and bitter are the tears which the senseless vow of celibacy has wrung from those who have become entangled in the snares of unprincipled priests! And how shameless is the consolatory ambiguity by which the uneasy doubts of the young and ardent, as to their capability of steadfastly adhering to the law of chastity, are met! Non unam habebis, sed mille pro una habebis'* ('thou shalt not have one wife but a thousand,' if not chaste be cautious'); and whoso will dare to draw back with venturous hand the veil which guards the cell of the monk, or can obtain entrance to the secret chambers of the canting secular clergy, will find Venus enthroned there as chief goddess of their idolatry, and often desecrating even the confessional, which is but too frequently employed as a medium and a lure of pollution, to the purest and most innocent minds. But I searched further, and found written in 1 Cor. vii. 16, · What knowest thou, oh wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?' I read also the 12th and 13th verses of the same chapter, and I asked myself, How can mortal man forbid marriage among Christians, though of different confessions ?-pp. 131-135.
In the conclusion of his 'Justification,' Czerski exhibits, with much power, the pith and spirit of his principles.
'I am in God's hand; without whose permission not a sparrow can fall to the ground, not a hair of my head can perish. And, although I see a heavy conflict before me, yet, trusting in God and in the power of his truth, I hope to be strong enough to sacrifice earthly advantages in days to come, as I have done in days that are past. Threats and calumnies I despise; and, despite the name of heretic, the excommunication, and the anathema, with which I shall be loaded, I will show myself zealous for the true, unadulterated doctrine of Christ, as it has taken possession of my mind; and henceforth be no more a minister of the pope and his false doctrines, but of Almighty God only, and of his holy word. I rely upon God, on my right, and on my country. Hear my words, oh pope! thou holy father! No mortal man should claim to be called father in the sense you do; for one is our father, even he who is in heaven. Hear it, pope, clergy, and people; he that will be great among you, let him be your minister; and he that exalteth himself shall be abased?' Hear it, pope! hear it, ye clergy? we are called to teach the word of God, but not the wretched inventions of man; we ought to live in all sobriety and honesty, and should be temperate,
*The German proverb is, 'Wenn nicht enthaltsam sey wachsam.'
given to hospitality, apt to teach; but we should not live in unchastity and fornication; we should not be given to wine, or be greedy of filthy lucre; not strikers, but patient; neither brawlers nor covetous (1 Tim. iii). Hear it, oh pope! and ye Romish clergy: ye blind leaders of the blind; I declare myself free from the banner of your unchristian hierarcy, that I may henceforth live and teach the pure gospel, such as Christ himself proclaimed it to the world. You will hurl your excommunication thunderbolt at my head; you may even prepare for me your burning faggots, and forge your chains, as of old; but here I take my stand, and must abide whatever may befal me. May God be my helper! Amen.'—pp. 139, 140.
A knowledge of the state of morals among the Romish priesthood of Germany, is necessary to enable British readers to understand what the conduct of Czerski really was, in reference to his marriage. Nearly all our contemporaries, who take a favourable view of Czerski, concur in calling his marriage an indiscretion. Now this it certainly was not, whatever it was, for we do not approve of the fashionable habit of calling sins indiscretions. Czerski's marriage was either a mistake, a sin, or a virtuous action. The facts, which are personally known to the author of the Reformation of the Nineteenth Century,' who is resident in the scene of the new movements, support the opinion that the marriage of Czerski was a virtuous action. By the tacit conventions of the priesthood in his neighbourhood, Czerski would have suffered no evil for keeping a succession of mistresses under the names of housekeepers, cousins, and nieces. Venus, he knew, was often the secret deity of the confessional. His priestly vows had not by any magical favour made him any more than any other man insensible to the great and terrible passion of love. He had long loved. No Roman priest would marry him-no Protestant clergyman dare marry him. With the legalities, technicalities, and conventionalities he could not be married. They were against him. He was their victim. The path of vice was open and safe to him. But he would not enter it by the degradation of the woman he loved from a holy to an obscene creature. To true love this is impossible. He was still a Romish priest. He had not yet wrought his courage up to the point of bursting through the circle of terror which kept him within the Roman Church. 'Out of this church there is no salvation,' was the axiom in which he had been born and bred. Czerski had not mustered courage to leave what he had once deemed the precincts of salvation. As yet he was not sure there was salvation any where else.
Where is the wonder if, in these circumstances,
Czerski should perceive that though the legalities of marriage were denied him, the essentials were all in his power. It is better to marry, than to love without marrying. He could remove the degradations of secrecy, the infamies of falsehood, the demoralizations of concealment from his connection with his love, and accomplish, if not a marriage according to the German lawyers, a marriage in accordance with the holy ordinances of God. He did all that was possible for him. He called his friends and the relatives of his lady together, and before these witnesses (who are ready to attest the fact) the couple declared their purpose to live together. Ceremonies, prayers, exhortations, kneelings at altars, sacramental absurdities, and profanities, may be added to this affair to any amount, but they cannot add to what Czerski did, aught essential to a really virtuous marriage.
The vow of celibacy which Czerski had taken did, in the abstract, of course, bind him. But the obedience of vows, and the keeping of oaths are concrete affairs. Among his brethren the vow to take none, meant living with several, and therefore it was a step in advance of the morality in practice among his associates, for Czerski by a conscience marriage to become what a bishop ought to be-the husband of one wife.
The German correspondent of the Continental Echo, the author of the work before us, is well known to be a Christian gentlewoman, whose intelligence and worth have gained her the esteem of several most distinguished divines in this country. She resides in Czerski's neighbourhood, and her opinion of his marriage is exactly coincident with that we have ventured to express.
'He entered the priestly office full of high and admiring thoughts of the purity and supernal sanctity of the priesthood; but, when initiated into the mysteries of the monkish cell and the priest's dwelling, he discovered those modern Pharisees to be truly depicted by the divine appellation of 'whited sepulchres,' which conceal all manner of loathsomeness and corruption. He shrank from, and abhorred this. He searched the Scriptures, and found in them no prohibition against marriage; but, on the contrary, an, at least, implied command; since, among the qualifications of a bishop, the apostle mentions being 'the husband of one wife,' and therefore, detesting concubinage, which was free to him, Czerski desired to marry, but found himself debarred from it by ecclesiastical law. He then resolved on contracting what has been termed a clandestine, or conscience marriage, with a young woman to whom he had become attached and this he accordingly did, in the presence of respectable witnesses, summoned for the purpose, and who are still