Page:Balthasar Hübmaier.djvu/43

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7
Anabaptists and the Reformation

should adopt this view of the case and decline to support his reformation. They therefore fixed upon the Anabaptists as the party that should be made to bear all the reproach of the social disorders of the time. The rest was easy. It was only necessary to make the name Anabaptist a general term of opprobrium, like "scoundrel," "villain," "heretic," and apply it recklessly to any party or to any man disapproved by the speaker or writer, to all who had published unorthodox opinions or been guilty of unworthy deeds. This was done for generations by writers who repeated these wholesale slanders without taking the least trouble to discover the facts. What wonder that the name Anabaptist still reeks with foul suggestions, after standing through more than three centuries for the sum of all wickedness, the synonym of all that is falsest in doctrine and vilest in practice?

One of the earliest notes of dissent from this unsparing condemnation, if not the first of all, was sounded by a Roman Catholic writer. Dr. Cornelius, of Bonn.[1] He first spoke an effective word in

  1. A captious critic might object that Dr. Cornelius should not be described thus, since he belonged for the last thirty years of his life