Still another fabrication was needed to enable Rome to profit by the fears and the vices of her adherents.
This was supplied by the doctrine of indulgences.
Full remission of sins, past, present, and future, and release from all the pains and penalties incurred, were promised to all who would enlist in the pontiff's wars to extend his temporal dominion, to punish his enemies, or to exterminate those who dared deny his spiritual supremacy.
The people were also taught that by the payment of money to the church they might free themselves from sin, and also release the souls of their deceased friends who were confined in the tormenting flames.
By such means did Rome fill her coffers and sustain the magnificence, luxury, and vice of the pretended representatives of Him who had not where to lay His head.¹
¹ For a detailed history of the doctrine of indulgences see Mandell Creighton, A History of the Papacy from The Great Schism to the Sack of Rome (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1911), vol. 5, pp. 56-64, 71; W. H. Kent, "Indulgences," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, pp. 783-789; H. C. Lea, A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church (Philadelphia: Lea Brothers and Co., 1896); Thomas M. Lindsay, A History of the Reformation (New York; Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917), vol. 1, pp. 216-227; Albert Henry Newman, A Manual of Church History (Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1953), vol. 2, pp. 53, 54, 62; Leopold Ranke, History of the Reformation in Germany (2d London ed., 1845), translated by Sarah Austin, vol. 1, pp. 331, 335-337, 343-346; Preserved Smith, The Age of the Reformation (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920), pp. 23-25, 66.
On the practical outworkings of the doctrine of indulgences during the period of the Reformation see a paper by Dr. H. C. Lea, entitled, "Indulgences in Spain," published in Papers of the American Society of Church History, vol. 1, pp. 129-171. Of the value of this historical sidelight Dr. Lea says in his opening paragraph: "Unvexed by the controversy which raged between Luther and Dr. Eck and Silvester Prierias, Spain continued tranquilly to follow in the old and beaten path, and furnishes us with the incontestable official documents which enable us to examine the matter in the pure light of history."