Continued from previous post:
The corruptions and usurpations of the Church were the immediate objects of these reformers ; but, at the foundation of all their exertions, there was a single, plain, and almost self-evident principle that man has a right to the exercise of his own reason. It was this principle which the sophistry and rapacity of the Church had obscured and obliterated, and which the intestine divisions of the same Church itself first restored. The triumph of reason was the result of inquiry and discussion. Centuries of desolating wars have succeeded, and oceans of human blood have flowed for the final establishment of this principle ; but it was from the darkness of the Cloister that the first spark was emitted, and from the arches of an University that it first kindled into day. From the discussion of religious rights and duties, the transition to that of the political and civil relations of men with one another, was natural and unavoidable ; in both, the reformers were met by the weapons of temporal power. At the same glance of reason, the tiara would have fallen from the brow of priesthood, and the despotic sceptre would have departed from the hand of royalty, but for the sword by which they were protected that sword which, like the flaming sword of the Cherubim, turned every way to debar access to the tree of life.