These insightful comments by D’Aubigne are set in context of the sale of indulgences in the early 16th century. It is the third paragraph in particular that caught my eye. -jr
The doctrine and the sale of indulgences operated on an ignorant people as a powerful stimulus to evil. It is no doubt true, that, according to the doctrine of the church, indulgences were of use only to those who promised to amend, and actually kept their promise. But what was to be expected of a doctrine which had been invented with a view to the profit which it might be made to yield…?
In those ages of darkness, what disorders and crimes must have prevailed when impunity could be purchased with money? What ground could there be for fear when a trifling contribution to build a church procured exemption from punishment in the world to come…!
The priests were the first to yield to the corrupting influence. In wishing to raise (ie. exalt their position by means of being the ones offering forgiveness -jr), they had lowered themselves. They had tried to steal from God a ray of his glory, that they might place it in their own bosom; but, instead of this, had only placed in it some of the leaven of corruption, stolen from the Evil one. The annals of the period teem with scandalous stories. In many places people were pleased to see their priest keeping a mistress, in the hope that it might secure their wives from seduction…
from D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation