THE names of Martin Luther and Philip Melancthon are familiar in every household, and many a winter's evening has been spent in reading how these brave and good men brought about 'the Reformation among their countrymen. But their work did not affect Germany alone. 

Good people throughout the civilized world were, by the labors of these men, awakened to a desire for learning the true teachings of the word of God, and were encouraged to renounce the false doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. But many were the cruel tortures suffered, many were the noble lives sacrificed in various countries, before the power of the Romish Church was so restrained that men dared to live out their own convictions. 

England bore a conspicuous part in this struggle, and many of her sons left life records hardly less interesting and instructive than those who, in old Germany, first braved the wrath of the pope. 

But before we notice their lives, shall we not ascertain what there was so wrong in the teachings and practices of the church of that day? Now do not think that all Catholics were wicked people"; for many of them were as sincere in their belief, and as pure and noble in their lives, as Christians are today; but they were deceived by their priests and bishops. These men told the people that the bishop of Rome, whom they called the "pope," was the supreme head of the church; that is, that whatever he commanded, the people must reverence the same as though it came from God himself. But the Bible says that we should call no man our master, for one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren, and that "whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased." Yet this man claimed that he and those to whom he gave power, were able to forgive the sins of any who would pay money enough, or who would perform some service for the church. If the sum was a very large one, or the favor very great, the people were promised forgiveness of all the sins that they might commit during a given length of time, and sometimes even to the end of life. 

This, you say, was virtually telling them that they might sin all they wished to, and yet reach Heaven, 

—a promise God never made,—and the Bible says that "to the Lord, our God, belong mercies and forgivenesses." 

The people were also taught that all had to pass through a very disagreeable place, called "purgatory," on their way to Heaven, and that by paying enough money to a priest they might hire him to pray their departed friends through that place, so that they would not have to stay there long. 

Besides this, the priests would pretend to have relics of our Saviour's cross, his tomb, etc., and of dead saints,—all of which they would sell to the people, along with images of Christ, his virgin mother, and others. 

The people thought these relics were very sacred, and would bring God's blessing to their families. 

They were also taught that the images would be valuable in reminding them of God, Christ, his life, etc., etc. 

But the people really worshiped them, just as the heathen do their idols, and so broke the second commandment. These and many other things that were contrary to the teachings of the Bible, the people were led to believe and practice. Many of the priests and some of the bishops really thought these things were true, but others who knew better were either too cowardly to say so, or enjoyed receiving the people's money and reverence more than they valued the approbation of God. They knew that all this sham was gotten up to get money to build grand cathedrals and monasteries, and costly palaces for the bishops, so that they might live in wealth and splendor; they knew how cruel the church was to those who dared stand out and tell the people how they were deceived; they knew, too, how their lands and houses would be taken away and given to the church, and how they and their families would be cut off from all the enjoyments of life, and possibly tortured to death as heretics. 

But, you will ask, why did not the people read the Bible, and learn for themselves what they should do. Ah! There was the root of the whole trouble. They had no Bible to read. In those days the Bible was not printed, but only written out with pen and ink, and those only could own a copy who could pay immense sums of money to have it rewritten for them. Even the copies that did exist were written in a language that only a few of the people could understand, for the bishops would not permit God's word to be written in the English tongue, for fear that the people would 

discover by reading it how wrongly they were taught, and then the church would get no more of their money. 

But we shall have to tell in another paper how the people of England were freed from this wicked power, and of some of the famous men who were God's instruments in doing such a noble but perilous work; and how some of them lost their lives in the struggle.