From the year 1502 John Tetzel uninterruptedly fulfilled the office of dealer in indulgences. To him all means were good that filled his treasure chest. Raising his voice and displaying the eloquence of a mountebank, he offered his indulgences to all comers, and knew better than any tradesman how to extol his wares.
“Listen to one of the harangues Tetzel delivered after the elevation of the cross. ‘Indulgences,’ said he, ‘are the most precious and the most noble of God’s gifts.
‘This cross’ - pointing to the red cross—’ has as much efficacy as the very cross of Jesus Christ.
‘Come, and I will give you letters, all properly sealed, by which even the sins that you intend to commit may be pardoned.
‘I would not change my privileges for those of St. Peter in heaven; for I have saved more souls by my indulgences than the apostle by his sermons.
‘There is no sin so great that an indulgence cannot remit; and even if any one—which is doubtless impossible—had offered violence to the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, let him pay—only let him pay well, and all will be forgiven him.
‘Reflect then, that for every mortal sin you must, after contrition and confession, do penance for seven years, either in this life or in purgatory: now, how many mortal sins are there not committed in a day, a week, how may in a month, how many in a year, how many in a whole life! Alas, these sins are almost infinite, and they entail an infinite penalty in the fires of purgatory. And now, by means of these letters of indulgence, you can once in your life, and afterwards in the article of death, obtain a plenary [full] remission of all your penalties and all yours sins.’”
“But more than this,’ said he, ‘indulgences avail not only for the living, but for the dead.
For that not even repentance is necessary.
‘Priest, noble, merchant, wife, youth, maiden, do you not hear your parents and your other friends who are dead, and who cry from the bottom of the abyss, We are suffering horrible torments; a trifling alms would deliver us; you can give it, and you will not!
‘At the very instant,’ continued Tetzel, “that money rattles at the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory and flies liberated to heaven.’”
The truth is that the Lord offers salvation freely, without money and without price:
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1).
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: “ (1Peter 1:18,19).
THE TRIUMPH OF TRUTH by M. L. Daubigne pgs. 67-68.