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Century XVI, Chapter VIII

CHAP. VIII.

From The Death Of Leo X. To The Election Of Adrian IV.

Turbulence Of Carolstadt.
Stork, Munzer, &c.
New Pope Adrian.

In the first week of the month of March 1522, Luther left his Patmos and returned to Wittemberg, without the consent or even the knowledge of his patron and protector, Frederic. The active spirit of the Reformer ill brooked his long confinement, and moreover, the distracted state of the infant protestant church absolutely required his presence. Already he had once ventured out of his asylum, and made a short visit to Wittemberg, without the privity of the elector; but matters were now daily becoming more critical; and as Luther had resolved, at the hazard of his life, to resume again his character of a public actor in the concerns of religion, he immediately acquainted his prince with the bold step he had taken, and the motives which compelled him no longer to remain a concealed spectator of transactions which oppressed his mind with the most painful apprehensions for the credit of the dawning reformation *.

The excessive and even dangerous zeal of Carolstadt was one of the afflicting causes which in* See page 24 of this Vol.

fluenced the conduct of Luther on this occasion

CE NT

Carolstadt was a professor at Wittemberg of con- xvi ' siderable. learning and ability, who had exposed the T^Tui^ papal tyranny and superstition with great spirit, ofC«">iand, in general, deserved well of the Protestant ** cause. His name, though not specifically mentioned in the damnatory bull against Luther, was well known at Rome ; and through the malicious instigation of Eckius, whom be had opposed in the Leipsic dis-; putation *, he had been suspended from all communion with the church f. This useful colleague of the great Reformer, soon discovered, during the absence of his master, a temerity of judgment and a violence of temper which absolutely disqualified him for the helm in the present tempestuous conjuncture. Not content with promoting in a legal and quiet way, the auspicious beginnings of reformation which had already appeared at Wittemberg, in the gradual omission and rejection of the private mass and other popish superstitions, he headed a multitude of unthinking impetuous youths, inflamed their minds by popular harangues, and led them on to actions the most extravagant and indefensible. They entered the great church of All Saints, brake in pieces the crucifixes and other images, and threw down the altars, Such indecent and irregular conduct by no means becomes those, who profess themselves the disciples of the Prince of Prince : and though in the midst of his excesses, the sincerity of Carolstadt's endeavours to rectify the abuses of popery is not to be questioned, one cannot but lament that the same man, whose sagacity had penetrated the veil of papal delusion in many instances, should in others be distinguished also for a want of plain sense, and ordinary discretion.—It may be proper to give a brief detail of the circumstances which led to these outrageous proceedings. Honest Carolstadt, mistaking the true meaning

• See Vol. iv. t Com. Luth. lxxv.

VOL. v. D

Chap, of Matthew xi. 2.5. where our Lord says, " I thank . v"1- , thee, O Father, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes," rashly concluded that human learning was useless, if not injurious, to a student of the Scriptures. He frequented the shops of the lowest mechanics, and consulted them about the meaning of the Scriptures. He would be called no longer by the appellation of Doctor, or any other honourable title. He lived in a village, employed himself in rustic occupations, and maintained, that thinking persons stood in no need of learning, but had better labour with their hands. In consequence of his example and conversation, the young academics of Wittemberg left the university, and ceased to pursue their studies ; and even the schools of the boys were deserted. Such proceedings were manifestly conducive to the excesses above mentioned, and in every view extremely hurtful to the nascent reformation which was happily making rapid advances in various parts of Christendom. We have seen * that the Augustine friars of Wittemberg had begun to abolish the celebration of Private Masses, and that Luther was pleased with the news, and employed his pen against that popish corruption. The elector, on the contrary, appears to have been alarmed on the occasion, and to have deputed one of his counsellors f to signify to the church and university of Wittemberg, That his highness had been informed of many innovations and alterations in the ecclesiastical usage, which were taking place every day at Wittemberg; and in particular, that the Aumistinians had omitted to celebrate the customary masses. Six persons from among the canons and the academics J were chosen to examine tbis matter, who, in a written report, not only expressed

* Page 5. t Pontanus.

I Justus Jonas, Philip Melancthon, Nic. Amsd orf.Jcl:n Doltz, Jerome Scurff, Andrew Carolstailt.

their approbation in general of what had been done, Cent. but boldly and solemnly exhorted the prince to ,_^VI- , put an end, throughout his whole territory, to the popish profanation of the Lord's Supper.. " It became him," they said, " as a Christian prince, to act witb dignity and spirit in such an affair; and not to regard die name of Heretic or of Hussite, which might be applied to him. Whoever faithfully supported the laborious and dangerous cause of the Gospel, must expect much abuse and much reproach. Jesus Christ required this service from him. He had deigned to illumine with the knowledge of the truth the mind of the elector of Saxony more than any other of the princes; and his highness would do well to remember, that in the day of judgment God would call him to a severe account of the use of the talents committed to his care."

To this, the Elector directed the following answer The Eiecto be given by professor Beyer. " That he wished bj'profc"TM to conduct himself in every thing like a Christian sorBejer. prince, and leave nothing undone which might promote the glory of God, and tend to the better establishment of evangelical truth. But that the alteration proposed appeared to be a matter of great consequence, which called for the mature deliberation of the whole church, and ought not to be precipitately decided by a small number. If their advice was sound, doubtless it would be followed by others, and he might then undertake to begin the change with some prospect of steady success.—That he had yet to learn, when the present mode of celebrating mass was introduced into the church,— perhaps several centuries ago; as also when the apostolic usage ceased. That as many churches and monasteries had been founded for the express purpose of saying masses, it deserved their consideration, whether, upon the abolition of masses, the Revenues of the said foundations might not be withheld. Lastly, that as they did not seem in

clined to take his advice, he owned himself to be only a lay person, and not skilled in Scripture, and intreated them, therefore, to consult calmly with their brethren, the rulers of the church and of the university, and so to settle the business, that no tumults or seditions might ensue."

The above-mentioned six deputies in their rejoinder adhered to the opinion they had already given, namely, that the abuses of the private masses ought to be abolished ; and this, they believed, might be done without tumult or danger ; but if not, the evil was so great, that it ought to be removed without any regard to the scandal or defamation which might be the consequence. That though the reformers were but a small part of the church, they had the word of God on their side; and this single consideration was paramount to every other, being an authority to which the angels and all created beings ought to bow. From the beginning of the world, it had always been found that only a very small part of mankind acknowledged the truth. Did not Christ himself commit the preaching of the Gospel to a few weak, despised, unlettered persons? and did not a similar dispensation take place at this very day : The true use and nature of the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, together with many other points in religion, was most expressly laid down in the Gospel; notwithstanding which, the dignified priests, and the wise ones of this world, either from interested motives or complete blindness, continued to oppose the truth, and refused to accede to the most reasonable and pious reformations, they only excepted, whose eyes it had pleased God to open by a heavenly illumination. The ancient colleges and monasteries, they said, even to the time of Augustine and Bernard, were founded, not for the purpose of saying a number of masses and babbling the canonical hours, but for the instruction of youth and the care of the poor. It was to the constitution *>f the more recent foundations, almost universally, Cent. that the present mode of celebrating masses was , xvx owing. Moreover, these foundations required a certain number of masses to be said every week by particular persons; and as this was a practice in itself absolutely sinful, the consciences of men ought to be completely released from such fetters without delay. And even if a certain number of masses were not specified, still the very principle on which the masses are celebrated,—namely, that they are good works, or sacrifices, or satisfactions for sin which will therefore appease Almighty God and be useful to others, and even to the dead,—is so contrary to sound doctrine, that they ought to be laid aside. The founders of these ordinances, if they could rise from the dead, would condemn what they themselves had done in this respect, and lament their own credulity, when they saw that these their donations had originated in the avarice of the ecclesiastics. Lastly, it appeared from the history of the church, that even to the time of Cyprian, the ancient custom of communicating in Both Kinds was preserved ; and that in Greece and the Eastern churches the same truly apostolic practice obtained at this day. Therefore it was not their fault, if on account of certain alterations which were become absolutely necessary, some differences, or even tumults, should arise ; these were rather to be laid at the door of the persons, who, for the sake of keeping up their dignity, their income, and theirluxurious tables, continued to obstruct the light of the truth, and cruelly to wage war against the altars of God. They then added in most explicit terms, that if their ecclesiastical and civil rulers would but permit the sacred word of God to be publicly preached, heard, and read, even though they did not assent to the truth, but opposed it with all the arguments they could produce, provided they did not inflict cruel punishments on their adversaries, there would be neither

sedition, nor discord, nor tumult. However, the right Christian rule was, neither to regard the madness of the enemy, nor the greatness of the danger. Christ did not hold his tongue, though he foresaw that the preaching of the Gospel would certainly be attended with discords, seditions, and the revolution of kingdoms ; nor were his apostles more negligent and timid, or less strenuous in instructing the people, because the wise men of this world at that time detested the very name of the Gospel, and looked upon it as the firebrand of those disturbances, schisms, and tumults, which raged among the Jews with so much fury at Jerusalem.

Satan, no doubt, would put men in mind of the various dangers to which they might be exposed, in order that he might the more effectually obstruct the progress of that religion, which he so perfectly hates. But as it is well known that such are his devices, they ought not to be much alarmed at these his frightful suggestions, but each of them keep to his post, like good soldiers in the field, and commit the event to God. They must expect desertions, but they should also remember their Lord's words, " Whosoever loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me*."

A serious argumentative statement like this would, doubtless, much affect the tender conscience of the elector of Saxony, but probably not determine that cautious prince to come to any positive decision respecting the ecclesiastical innovations. Accordingly, he appears to have connived at the proceedings of these bold reformers, but by no means to have sanctioned them.

It was precisely in this situation of things, when, for the purpose of silencing calumny and misrepresentation, a discreet and due regard to order was most peculiarly called for, that the violent spirit of Carolstadt broke out into the mischievous excesses * Luth. Op. II. Comment. Luth. cxxx.

above described*. Already he had done his utmost Cent. to discredit at Wittemberg the studies of literature, . XX Ifor the advancement of which, as subservient to the best of causes, Luther and Melancthon had much exerted themselves. He now ventured to administer the sacrament publicly in both kinds to all ranks and orders of persons, under all circumstances, and without due inquiry or preparation, or regard to any of the usual ceremonies. The senate and also the university of Wittemberg complained of these things in severe terms to the elector, who feeling himself unequal to the difficulty, directed his commissioners to interpose, and, with the consent of all parties, to effect such regulations as the circumstances required. These regulations were so favourable to the new system, that Frederic declared his commissioners had gone further than he had intended, and that they must not allege his mandate for what they had done. He said, he did not choose their alterations to be imputed to him; for it was known they were contrary to the commands of the imperial government; and it was also known, that the bishops were about to commence a visitation of his electorate.

In this convention, it was ordered,— 1st. That Regal* all persons who were penitent, and wished to be in the favour of God, should be exhorted to partake in the sacrament.—2dly. The popish notion of the mass being a sacrifice was entirely rejected : And 3dly, Steps were taken for the removal of the images out of the great church. These, surely, were very considerable amendments; and it is not to be wondered at, if they should have alarmed a German prince of no great power, who stood almost alone, who was himself far from having clear views in religion, and who had to contend with the Pope, the emperor, and the neighbouring potentates, leagued in opposition against the free progress of the Gospel, • Page 33.

tions of the convention . Nevertheless, the violent and impatient spirit of* Carolstadt remained dissatisfied with these triumphs of the truth, and there is too much reason for lamenting that an alloy of pride and ungovernable self-will should have sadly debased the honest Christian zeal of this early reformer. He even avowed to Melancthon that he wished to be as great and as much thought of as Luther. Melancthon told him, that was the language of pride, envy, and unchristian emulation. But Carolstadt was deaf to admonition. He openly professed to have not the least regard for the authority of any human being. He said, he would stick close to the simple word of God, and that no man could be a Christian who found fault with what he did. How deceitful is the human heart, and how inconsistent a creature is fallen man ! Carolstadt, with much Christian light in his understanding, and with abundance of honest zeal in his heart, at the very time that he was making pretensions to an uncommon purity of motive and doctrine, and to an extraordinary respect for the Scriptures, proceeded from one disorderly act to another, till at length he committed those outrages which afforded a considerable handle for complaint to the enemies of the reformation, and made its best friends ashamed of their rash and presumptuous coadjutor.

It will now be some relief to the reader's mind to peruse Luther's observations on these trans* actions. The report of them reached him in his Patmos, and he wrote to the elector of Saxony thus:

" There is no reason to be frightened. Rather give praise to God; and rejoice in the certain expectation that all will end well. Things of this kind always happen to those who endeavour to spread the Gospel. We must not only expect Annas and Caiaphas to rage against us; but even a Judas to appear among the apostles, and Satan himself among the sons of God. Be wise, and look deeper Cent. than to the external appearance. Other agents, , . besides those which are merely human, are at work. Don't be afraid, but be prepared for more events of this sort. This is only the beginning of the business: Satan intends to carry matters much further yet. Believe me in what 1 now say; I am but a plain, simple man; however, I know something of His arts. Suffer the world to clamour against us, and to pass their harsh judgments. Be not so much concerned at the falling away of particular Christians. Even holy Peter fell; and also others of the apostles. Doubt not but they will in a short time rise again, as surely as Christ himself rose from the dead. The words of St. Paul to the Corinthians* are at this moment peculiarly applicable to our circumstances, namely, 1 that we should approve ourselves, as the ministers of God, in much patience, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours.'"

Luther concluded his letter with an earnest request for leave to print and circulate his own writings; and with saying that he intended to be very soon at Wittemberg.

The religious mind of Frederic was deeply af- sentimenti fected by these sentiments of Luther; and he im- jle,ht"r mediately commissioned one of his confidential magistrates to relate to him in his asylum the particulars of all the late proceedings at Wittemberg: How the pupils dwindled in number, and were called away by their guardians; how anxious the prince was, and how completely in doubt what course to take. That nothing was so distressing to his mind as the prospect of seditious tumults, but that the imperial government tied up his hands; and moreover, that the bishops had promised they would themselves preach the Gospel, and also would appoint proper missionaries for that purpose, and that it was impossible for him to oppose their laudable

* 2 Cor. v.

Chap, resolutions. He wished exceedingly to have Luther's VI11- , advice at this crisis, but exhorted him not to think of coming to Wittemberg. The Pope and emperor would insist on his being delivered up to them, which would be the severest stroke that could happen to the elector : Yet he did not see how he could prevent it. He had never undertaken, nor had Luther desired him, nor was it indeed in his power to do more, than to procure him a fair hearing. In one point, however, he was absolutely determined, namely, if he could but find out what was the divine will, he would cheerfully bear, surfer, do, or avoid doing, every thing which should appear to be his duty agreeably to that will. In a word, he remembered who said, " My yoke is easy and my burden is light," and he would willingly bear, through the divine strength and help, the cross that God should lay upon him. The transactions at Wittemberg were most surprising: new sects arose there every day, and it was hard to say which were gaining or which losing ground. The Diet were to assemble at Nuremberg in a short time; and it was expected that much would be said and done respecting Luther's business : He had better therefore be quiet and remain in secret for the present: Considerable revolutions were at hand ; and if it should happen, that the sacred Gospel was obstructed, such a turn in the events would be matter of the greatest grief and mourning to the Elector.

The commissioner concluded all he had to say with the most kind, faithful, and affectionate assurances of the prince's friendship for Luther.

The judicious reader will easily anticipate the inferences to be drawn from this very interesting narrative.

He will observe the elector of Saxony to be on all occasions the same man ; thoughtful, temperate, and pious; approving, in the main, and even admiring Luther; but suspicious of his impetuous 11

temper; and doubtful in some points, as to the line Cent. both of duty and of prudence respecting his own t xyL conduct.

He will be aware of the effect, which the confusions at Wittemberg would naturally produce on the mind of such a prince. They must have increased his disposition to extreme caution, hesitation and suspense of judgment.

Lastly, he will not forget, that the historian, in his relation of these documents, so secret at the time of the transactions, and even now so very little known, is thus extremely minute, chiefly for the purpose of explaining why Luther determined to leave his Patmos at this critical and dangerous moment. The propagation of pure Christianity and the salvation of men's souls appear to have been not only his primary but his sole objects. So long as he considered himself in the pursuit of These, " he counted not even his life dear to him*."

The conscientious Frederic, surrounded as he was at home with timid courtiers, and opposed abroad by bigoted dukes and princes, and still more by self-interested popes and prelates, failed to support the cause of truth in the manner that Luther wished. This reformer, from principle, uniformly resisted the smallest approach to the use of force or violence in spreading the Gospel; but the very same principle induced him earnestly to solicit the Elector to interfere with his authority, and prevent the infliction of pains and penalties on those who favoured the new system. He begged also, that the preaching of evangelical doctrine might be less fettered, and would gladly have obtained some small stipends for the support of such poor clergy as had left their monasteries, and, at the call of the congregations, had become faithful ministers of the Gospel. But almost all Luther's petitions of this species, though by no means coldly received, were inefficiently com• Acts, xx. 24.

plied with by Frederic; who daily found it expedient to adhere to his prudential maxims with a more deliberate circumspection than ever. The papal powers were cruel, artful, and active: The reformers, for the most part, were unskilful politicians ; and home of them, as Carolstadt and his associates, extremely injudicious and headstrong; the fair prospect of reformation grew dark and cloudy; the tempest thickened, and it became absolutely necessary that the most skilful pilot should repair to the helm.

Besides the turbulent behaviour of Carolstadt and the other causes, which have been mentioned, of difficulty and confusion in the church, there took place at the same time another event which threatened consequences perhaps still more pressing and dangerous, and loudly called for the presence of Luther.—Several persons, who really deserved the name of enthusiasts, had appeared in Saxony; among whom Nicholas Stork, Mark Stubner, Martin Cellary, and Thomas Munzer, have, by their follies, obtained a memorial in history. Stork was a baker at Zwickau, who had selected, from his acquaintance of the same calling, twelve whom he called apostles, and also seventy-two disciples. The other three, in a tumultuous manner, harangued the populace in the church of St. Catharine, of the same town. Nicholas Hausman, the pious pastor of the place, resisted these insane prophets to the best of his power, but could not control their fury.—They professed themselves to have a divine commission, and pretended to visions and inspirations. Munzer, in particular, will be found at the head of a ReBellion Of The Peasants in 152.5. At present it may be best to hear Melancthon's account of them in a letter to the elector of Saxony.—" Your highness must excuse the liberty I take; the occasion is urgent, and calls exceedingly for your highnesses attention. Your highness is aware of the many

dangerous dissensions, which have distracted your city of Zwickau, on the subject of religion. Some persons have been cast into prison there for their seditious innovations. Three of the ringleaders are come hither. Two of them are ignorant mechanics, the third is a man of letters. I have given them a hearing; and it is astonishing what they tell of themselves ; namely, that they are positively sent by God to teach ; that they have familiar conferences with God ; that they can foretel events ; and to be brief, that they are on a footing with prophets and apostles. I cannot describe how 1 am moved by these lofty pretensions. I see strong reasons for not despising the men; for it is clear to me there is in them something more than a mere human spirit; but whether the spirit be of God or not, none, except Martin, can easily judge. Therefore, for the peace and reputation of the church, Martin should, I think, by all means, have an opportunity of examining them, and the rather as they appeal to him."

The Elector, who did not consider himself as competent to decide on such cases, and whom we always find constantly disposed to follow the will of God, so far as he knew it, inquired more particularly into the circumstances of the matter, and also called in the advice of some of his most learned counsellors. These could come to no decision: They felt the same doubt, which Melancthon had expressed ; and were afraid of sinning against God by condemning his choicest servants. Upon which Frederic astonished all his ministers and counsellors then present*, by hastily making the following declaration. " This is a most weighty and difficult case ; which I, as a layman, do not comprehend. If I rightly understood the matter, so as to see my duty, most certainly 1 would not knowingly resist the will of Almighty God : no; rather than do that

* Spalatinus was also present at the conference from whose MS. this account is taken.

—though God hath given me and my brother a considerable share of power and wealth, I would take my staff, and quit every thing I possess."— Such was the integrity and tenderness of conscience of this prince ! Many in Saxony also at that time seem to have feared God in like manner; and were brought to the light of the Gospel. That light, however, for the most part was dim as yet; and crafty hypocrites knew how to take advantage of the want of discernment in godly souls.

Melancthon pressed the elector still further to call in the assistance of Luther's judgment. " No person," he said, " could manage the business so well; Stork and his associates had raised disputes concerning the baptism of infants, and had appealed to the supernatural revelations they had had from God ; and that in regard to himself, he was by no means qualified to pronounce sentence in so difficult a cause."

The Elector, in pursuance of his cautious and conscientious views, directed Melancthon to avoid disputes with these men ; and to use every precaution for preventing such tumultuous proceedings as had happened at Zwickau. " He was himself," he said, " no interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, nor did he know whom he ought to appoint to examine the merits of the pretensions in question; but it was then impossible to recall Luther without imminent danger to the person of that Reformer. Luther was his subject, and he had so far supported him that he should not be condemned unheard ; but beyond that point he could not go; for he felt it incumbent upon himself to obey the Emperor, who was his lord and master. With respect to the fanatics, however, he had this to say, that if he could but see clearly what justice required, he was ready to discharge his duty at every hazard*."—In this state of doubt and suspense, Melancthon employed persons to procure * Seek. Addit. p. J93.

the best information they could ; and in the mean Cent. time he treated Stubner, who was a man of some . XV1, , learning, with hospitality, and meekly bore his fooleries, till the arrival of Luther, whose wise and manly treatment of the enthusiasts quickly, as we shall soon see, exposed the emptiness of their claims to a divine commission, and demolished all their authority and influence.

This sound Divine having been informed in his Luther's Patmos of the extraordinary pretensions of these ^peeling men, had all along beheld their conduct with a the jealous eye ; and had answered the enquiries of prophets" Melancthon with much discretion. " As you are my superior," said he, " both in discernment and erudition, I cannot commend your timidity in regard to these prophets. In the first place, when they bear record of themselves, we ought not implicitly to believe them ; but rather to try the spirits, according to St. John's advice. As yet, I hear of nothing done or said by them, which exceeds the imitative powers of Satan. It is my particular wish that you would examine whether they can produce any PRoorof having a divine commission. For God never sent any prophet, who was not either called by proper persons, or authorized by special miracles, no, not even his own Son. Their bare assertion of a divine Afflatus, is not a sufficient ground for your receiving them; since God did not even choose to speak to Samuel, but with the sanction of Eli's authority. So much for their pretensions to a public character.—In the next place, 1 would wish you to sift their private spirit,— whether they have experienced any internal distresses of soul, the attacks of death and hell, and the comforts of the new birth unto righteousness. If you hear nothing from them but smooth, tranquil, and, forsooth, what they call, devout, religious contemplations, regard them not; for there is wanting the characteristic of the Son of Man, of the Man of sorrows ; there is wanting the

Cross, the only touchstone of Christians, and the sure discerner of spirits. Would you know the place, the time, the manner of divine conferences and communicatious ? Hear the written word, ' As a lion will he break all my bones *.' And ' I am cast out of the sight of thine eyes. My soul is full of trouble, and my life draweth nigh unto hell.' The majesty of the Divine Being speaks not ImmeDiately, in a way that man should see HIM : None can see HIM and live. Do you try them therefore carefully, and listen not even to a glorified Jesus, unless you find he was first crucified."

I follow with close attention the progress of infant protestantism, because I am persuaded no scene was ever more instructive since the apostolic times. It will not be necessary to watch the reformation so closely, when it became more involved in civil transactions and was advanced into secular consequence. The purest Christianity is generally in the outset of religious revivals, though it often happens, that together with the most scriptural displays of light and holiness, there appears also the wild fire of fanaticism and delusion. It was even so in the Apostles* days. But how absurdly do sceptics conclude from the disgraceful conduct of such men as Stork, Stubner, and their companions, that enthusiasm marked the whole progress of Lutheranism, when, perhaps, no man was ever more remote from that dangerous spirit, than the Saxon theologian himself! It is, indeed, no small exercise of patience to faithful pastors, that while they are guarding their flocks with the utmost solicitude against gross cheats or fanatical illusions, they themselves should be uncharitably accused of supporting these things.

The true motives of Luther's quitting his Patmos are now before the reader; namely, on the one hand, the indiscreet and even mutinous conduct of certain sincere friends of the reformation; and on • Isaiah, xxxviii. 13.

the other, the conscientious timidity * of the elector Cent. of Saxony, most lamentably manifesting itself both , XVIin not repressing the wild freaks of genuine enthusiasm which had produced so much disturbance, as also in not supporting with vigour the diligent and enlightened clergy of the poorer sort, who not only laboured without salaries, but were often imprisoned and otherwise severely punished for marrying wives, administering the communion in both kinds, preaching Luther's sentiments, and, in general, for transgressing any of the rules and customs of the Romish Church t.

Every part of this account is in perfect harmony with the numerous letters of Luther, written near the time of his return to Wittemberg, and also with other fragments of curious and secret history relative to these interesting transactions. They are, indeed, transactions, which well deserve the most diligent attention; in that, they have, as yet, never been distinctly and collectively detailed by any writer, and also as they throw much light on the principles and conduct both of Luther and his prince. " The whole world," says the excellent Seckendorf on this occasion, " cannot produce such an example of

* Luther, in one of his letters to Spalatinus, rallies his friend respecting the prince's excessive caution on the following occasion. The reformation had proceeded so far, that several of the divines at Wittemberg had married wives- in the course of the year 15-22. Among these was the protestant John Bugenhagius; and Luther bad requested the elector to give this worthy man some little present at the time of his marriage. The present came, together with a piece of venison, but not as sent from the prince, but from Spalatinus, and there was also added an injunction of secrecy.—Luther, in returning thanks, said, " We will keep the thing secret, don't fear. We knew perfectly well before you gave this caution, that the present would come from You, not from the Prixce." See the Appendix. Bugenhagius.

t In a letter to Melanctbon, Luther mentions an additional reason which moved him to return home; namely, his translation of the Bible into the German language. This was a great and very important work, in the execution of which he stood in need of the help of his friends. Melch. Adam. VOI.. V. E

CHAP.
VIII.

Remarkable Letter of Luther to the Elector.

firmness, as appeared in the Reformer; a firmness too which carried along with it the evident marks of divine grace, and which withstood effectually, during the remainder of his life, all the machinations of his enemies."

Luther was at Borna, on his road to Wittemberg, when he wrote, to the elector, the letter above alluded to in page 32 ; and it is sufficiently manifest from the letter itself, that he had received the kind warnings sent to him by Frederic, not to leave his asylum in the present dangerous circumstances. But neither the affectionate caution of his friends, nor the cruel threats of his enemies, could induce the Saxon hero to depart in the smallest degree from what he thought a well-marked line of duty. He wrote in substance as follows, " That the accounts of what had passed at Wittemberg had almost reduced him to a state of despair. That every thing he had as yet suffered was comparatively mere jests and boys play. He could not enough lament, or express his disapprobation of those tumultuous proceedings: the Gospel was in imminent danger of being disgraced from this cause. That, in regard to himself, he wished the elector to understand most distinctly, that All His Hope And Confidence depended most entirely on the justice of his cause. The Gospel which he defended and propagated was by no means a device of his own, but a heavenly gift from Jesus Christ our Lord; that himself therefore was a servant of Christ, and a teacher of the Gospel, and that in future he intended to go by no other name. Hitherto, continued he, I have offered myself for public examination and inquiry; not indeed from any necessity, but because I had hoped that so much humility on my part, might be an inducement to others to listen to the truth. But now that I see plainly, this extreme moderation is, by Satanic art, turned to the disadvantage of the Gospel, I mean no longer to concede in the manner I have done 8 " •

during the last year,—not, however, through fear Cent. of danger, but from respect for my prince. When > xyL j I entered Worms, I dreaded not the innumerable powers of hell; and surely this hostile duke George of Leipsic* is not equal in strength or skill to a single infernal spirit. Moreover, the faithful derive from the Gospel such a fund of courage and comfort, that they are allowed to invoke God as their father. Well therefore may I despise the vengeance of this enraged duke. Indeed, were the city of Leipsic itself in the same condition that Wittemberg is, I would not hesitate to go there, though I were assured that for nine days together the heavens would pour down duke Georges, every one of which would be many times more cruel than the present duke of that name. As it has pleased God to permit this same duke George to treat Jesus Christ with the utmost indignity, it was doubtless my duty to submit ;—nay, I have prayed for him often, and will again pray for him; though I am persuaded he would kill me with a single word if it were in his power.— I write these things, that your highness may know, I consider myself, in returning to Wittemberg, to be under a far more powerful protection than any which the elector of Saxony can afford me. To be plain, I do not wish to be protected by your highness. It never entered my mind to request your defence of my person. Nay, it is my decided judgment, that, on the contrary, your highness will rather receive support and protection from the prayers of Luther and the good cause in which he is embarked. It is a cause which does not call for the help of the sword. God himself will take care of it

• The imperial goverment at Nuremberg had lately issued, in the emperor's absence, and during the confinement of Luther, an edict against the Reformer's principles; and, in consequence, George duke of Saxony, who had been present in the assembly, and instrumental in obtaining the edict and making it as severe as possible, was beginning to persecute, with the greatest cruelty, all persons who adhered to Lutheranism.

without human aid. I positively declare, that if I knew your highness intended to defend me by force, I would not now return to Wittemberg. This is a case where God alone should direct: and men should stand still and wait the event without anxiety; and that man will be found to defend both himself and others the most bravely, who has the firmest confidence in God. Your Highness has but a very feeble reliance on God; and for that reason I cannot think of resting my defence and hopes of deliverance on you. Still you wish to know What Your Duty is In This Business; and you express afear that you may not have been sufficiently active. My answer is, you have already done Too Much, and that at present you ought to do nothing. God does not allow, that either your highness or myself should defend the cause of truth by force. If you do but believe this, you will be quite safe;—but if not, my faith on this head will remain unshaken, and I shall be compelled to leave you a prey to that anxiety which will attend your incredulity. If 1 should be taken, or even put to death, you must stand excused, even in the judgment of my best friends, because I have not followed your advice. Think not of opposing the Emperor by force : permit him to do what he pleases with the lives and properties of your subjects. It seems impossible, however, that he should require you to be my executioner, when all the world know the privileges which belong to the place of my nativity. But if so unreasonable a demand should be made, and your highness would make me acquainted with the fact, I will engage,—whether you do or not believe me,—that no harm shall happen to your highness on my account, either in body, or mind, or estate. Be assured, this business is decided in the councils of heaven in a very different manner from what it is by the regency at Nuremberg; and we shall shortly see that those who now dream they have absolutely devoured the Gospel, have not as yet even

begun their imaginary feast. There is another Being, abundantly more powerful than the duke George, with whom I have to do. This Being knows me perfectly well; and I trust I have a little knowledge of HIM. If your illustrious highness could but believe this, you would see the glory of God. But you remain in darkness through your unbelief.—Glory and praise be to God for evermore * !"

So extraordinary a letter has rarely been penned by a subject and transmitted to a kind prince, whose directions he was at that moment positively disobeying. But Luther saw a Divine Hand in this whole struggle for Christian liberty ! As to Frederic, we see him trembling for the safety of Luther; and uneasy in his conscience lest he should desert the cause of God. What this wise prince would have done, in case Charles V. had seriously demanded Luther's person to be given up to the papal vengeance, it may be hard to say. His prudential maxims constantly led him to evade such a crisis if possible; and as he was well acquainted with the activity, and also the violence of Luther's disposition, nothing could be more natural than for him, through the medium of his confidential friends and agents, to have said, " Remain in your asylum for the present; you are under a sentence of condemnation, and you had better not provoke your enemies to execute it. The duke George who lives at Leipsic is your inveterate enemy, and it seems you have heard of the severe edict of Nuremberg f. It is not in my power to defend you beyond a certain point. Moreover, were I disposed to use force, I might lose my life and property in contending with a potentate so powerful as the emperor of Germany. Still I would not shrink from my duty. Tell me plainly what you think I ought to do : perhaps I have been too timid in this momentous affair."

* Comment. Luth. cxix. Melch. Adam. Soultet. 104. + The chief palace of this duke was at Dresden; but he was often at Leipsic. See Vol. iv.

Chap. The preceding letter of Luther's must evidently „ v*IIj . appear to have been written in reply to such previous admonitions and observations as these ;—even though the greater part of them were not actually to be found among the several documents already before the reader.

The elector, upon receiving this answer, was astonished at the intrepidity of the Reformer; and no doubt concluded, that, on his own part, the most consummate care and caution were never more called for than at the present juncture, for the purpose of tempering the impetuosity and fervour of the determinations of the Man, whom, however, it was impossible he should not both admire and love. He therefore did not choose to communicate in Luther writing his sentiments to Luther himself, but divisited by rected a trusty agent, Jerome SchurfF*, to say and Schurff. (j0 every thing which he wished to have said and done in this delicate business. Accordingly, SchurfF visited Luther, and after assuring him of the kindness and good will of the elector, informed him, it was his highness's desire, that he should compose a. letter to him in a somewhat different style from the; former ; a letter, for example, which he might show to his friends, and to the princes, and to the other great men of the country. In this letter he was to give the reasons which had induced him to return to W ittemberg, and he might openly avow that he had taken this step without the orders of his prince; at the same time he ought to make a decent declaration, that he certainly intended to put no person whatever to inconvenience. SchurfF concluded with saying, That the elector's entire meaning was to prevent sedition ; that he anxiously desired most particular care to be taken in that respect; and, therefore, for the present he would have Luther to abstain from preaching in the great Church where the late tumult had happened; and lastly, he requested that this whole negotiation might be kept a profound secret. * The same person who was Luther's advocate at Worms.

SchurflF, in his answer to the elector, praised Cent. Lnther to the skies; he looked on him as an apostle , . and an evangelist of Christ. He said, all ranks and orders, learned and unlearned, were delighted with the return of the Man, who was now daily, in the most admirable manner, teaching true doctrine, and restoring order every where. Lastly, he informed the elector, that he found Luther completely disposed to write such a letter as had been desired.

In fact, Luther transmitted, through the medium of Schurff, a copy of the required letter, and left it to the elector to make such alterations as he should think necessary; but he added at the same time these remarkable words, " That most certainly he would not consent to do any thing which would not bear the light: that for his part, he should not be afraid, even if his former letter were made public : and that in regard to seditious tumults and commotions, he owned he had hitherto supposed, that the ecclesiastics would be the greatest sufferers ; but on a diligent review of sacred history, he had been led to a different opinion. It had always happened, he said, that the princes and rulers were themselves the first sacrifices to popular fury;—however, not before they had corrupted themselves, and ceased to support the true religion."

Frederic in a few days informed Schurff, that there were in Luther's letter a few expressions which were rather too strong, and which therefore he wished him to alter. Luther assented.

The letter stands in the Latin edition of Luther's works without alteration, and is in substance to this effect:

" Most illustrious Prince, and most kind Master;

I have very diligently considered, that, in returning to Wittemberg without the permission of your clemency, and even without so much as asking that permission, it was my bounden duty to take care that this step should in no way prove injurious to your clemency. For I am well aware, that, with some appearance of truth, my conduct is capable of being represented as causing a multitude of dangers and difficulties to your person, to your government, and to your subjects; and more especially to myself, —being one, who has reason every hour to expect a violent death from the imperial edicts and the papal thunders. However, what can I do ? The most urgent reasons compel me to this step ; the Divine will is plain, and leaves me no choice. I must not act a double part to please any creature in existence. Then be it so; come what will, I return to Wittemberg in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of life and death.

That your clemency may not be ignorant of the just grounds of my conduct, I have determined to state faithfully the principal motives which have influenced my mind in this business.

But in the first place, I would beg leave to deprecate every supposition, which proceeds on the idea of my being moved by pride, or a contempt for the authority either of the emperor, or of your clemency, or of any magistrate. For though it may sometimes happen that the orders of human governments cannot be complied with; for example, when such orders are directly repugnant to the word of God, yet there is No case where The Powers That Be are to be Despised. They are ever to be treated with the greatest respect. So did Jesus Christ; who, though he abhorred the sentence of Pilate, did not on that account either hurl Ca?sar from his throne, or treat his representative with insolent language.

l. My first motive is, I am called back by the letters of the Church and people of Wittemberg, and this—with much solicitation and entreaty. Now, since there is no denying that the reformation, which has already taken place in that church, has been Cent. effected through my instrumentality, and since I , XVI- , cannot but own myself to be, in an especial manner, the minister of the church to which God hath called me, it was impossible for me to refuse a prompt compliance with their request, unless I intended to renounce altogether that labour and fidelity, which belongs to true Christian charity and love of souls.

There are, indeed, those who throughout execrate our religious emendations, and call them diabolical: but their impieties will not excuse me at the tribunal of God, who will judge me not by other men's consciences, but my own. I am most firmly persuaded, that from the first, my preaching and proceeding to divulge the Gospel of Christ is not of my own motion, butthe work of God. Nor, through God's help, shall any kind of death or persecution shake my confidence in this matter; and I believe I rightly divine, when I say that no terror or cruelty will be able to extinguish the light which already has begun to shine.

2. During my absence from Wittemberg, Satan hath made such inroads among my flock, and raised such commotions, as it is not in my power to repress by mere writing. My Presence among my people is absolutely necessary. I must live with them. I must talk to them. I must hear them speak. They must see my mode of proceeding: I must guide them, and do them all the good 1 can. They are my children in Christ, and my conscience will not permit me to be absent from them any longer. Though I should offend your clemency, or bring upon myself the indignation of the whole world, the pressing necessity of the church ought in my judgment to take place of every other consideration.

3. A third motive is, I am much distressed by a well-grounded apprehension, that some great and violent sedition will arise in Germany, and make that country undergo grievous punishments for its contempt and ingratitude towards a kind Providence. We see, indeed, numbers receive the light of the Gospel with lively approbation and thankfulness; yet many are to be found, who abuse the precious gift to carnal purposes. And there are those, who, though it is their duty, by a temperate conduct, to preserve peace and good order, aim at extinguishing every spark of heavenly light by cruel force and persecution; and thus do they madly inflame the bad passions of men, and, though not aware of it, in fact blow the trumpet of sedition. All this tends evidently to the destruction of the country, and without doubt is a heavy judgment of God for the punishment of the inhabitants. My sole object in writing so much was to break to pieces the ecclesiastical system of despotism ; and this, in a considerable degree, is done already. I now suspect it to be the Divine will that matters should proceed much farther, as was the case with the Jews, when, on account of their persecution of the Gospel, and other wickednesses, it pleased God to destroy, root and branch, the city of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish constitution, civil and religious. It is only lately that I have begun to see, what, however, I might have seen long ago, because every line of sacred history clearly shows it, namely, that whether the thing be done with a good or a bad grace, not only ecclesiastical and spiritual dominion, but also civil and political constitutions, must, in the end, give way to the gospel of Christ.

However, since God, through his prophet Ezekiel, requires us to oppose ourselves as a wall for the people, I have judged it needful to obey the Divine command, and, in concert with my friends, to take this matter into our most serious consideration, and to do every thing which we possibly can, in the way of instruction, admonition, and exhortation, to avert, or at least delay for some time, the heavy wrath of God. All I can do, May be in

?ain, and my enemies may ridicule my attempt; it Cent.
will nevertheless be my bounden duty to do every v XVI- ,
thing which I think may tend to promote the laud-
able end I have in view. For I may venture to add
with great truth, and I wish your clemency to be
assured of the fact, That The Decisions In The

COUNCILS OF HEAVEN ARE VERY DIFFERENT
FROM THOSE WHICH ARE PRONOUNCED IN THE
IMPERIAL REGENCY AT NUREMBERG; and We

shall soon see that those who now dream they have
absolutely devoured the Gospel, have not as yet
even begun their imaginary feast.

4. I could enumerate many other reasons, upon some of which, however, I do not lay any great stress, because I have not thoroughly considered them. It is enough for me that the Gospel is oppressed, and begins to labour. This single consideration has too much force in it for me to. neglect lay duty out of regard for any mortal being whatever.

I humbly, therefore, beseech your clemency, for these reasons, to take in good part my return to Mi ittemberg, without your clemency's knowledge,, without having asked leave, and without orders. Your clemency is the Lord of my poor frail body and little fortunes ; but Christ is the Lord of the souls which he hath put under my care ; and Christ also hath given me a spirit for the work. By no means, therefore, must I desert these souls. I trust my Lord and Master Jesus Christ will shew himself more powerful than our enemies, and that he will please to defend and preserve me against all their tory. But if not, may His good will be done ! On my account, no danger, no adversity, shall happen to your clemency. And this promise I dare engage to fulfil.

Martin Luther."

Wittemberg, March 14, 1532.

One of the expressions in this letter, which the elector desired might be softened, appears to have been that in which a comparison is made between the decisions in the councils of heaven, and those in the assembly at Nuremberg. In the German corrected copy it stands thus, " The decisions in the councils of heaven are very different from those

ON EARTH."

From a letter to his friend Spalatinus, we collect, that Luther did not quite relish some of the alterations which the elector had desired to be made. " I am at this moment," says he, " sending my letter to the prince; who, by causing certain phrases therein to be altered according to his own mind, has discovered many marks of timidity, and of want of faith. This infirmity of his I ought to bear; but he has insisted on my using one word which I own does offend me; namely, in that I am directed to call the emperor my most Kind, or most MerciFul* Lord, when all the world knows he is to me as hostile as possible ; and there is not an individual who will not laugh at this downright hypocrisy ; yet I would rather submit to the ridicule and to the imputation of this species of hypocrisy, than thwart the infirmity of the prince in this instance. In regard to my conscience, I quiet that from the charge of insincerity thus: It is now the established custom to address the emperor in that manner; so that those words are to be considered as his proper name and title, to be used by all persons, even those to whom he has the greatest enmity.—After all, I have a most settled aversion to hypocritical and disguised ways of speaking : hitherto I have given way to them quite enough : it is high time I should stand forth, and speak out.

The pious student of'the history of the Reformation will not think his time mis-spent in perusing * Dominum clementissimum.

such instructive documents as these. Their authenticity is indisputable; and they throw more light on the secret springs and movements of infant protestantism, than long chapters of modern speculation concerning the efficacy of secondary causes. It is much to be lamented that they have not as yet found their way into our most celebrated ecclesiastical histories. They have probably been deemed to contain too many religious reflections for the taste of the times. Certainly, it is not to be denied, that they lead the mind to see and adore the kindness and wisdom of an overruling Providence, which, by directing its various instruments according to the counsels of His own will, brought about, during the sixteenth century, the most wonderful and unexpected events in the church. It has often been said, that nothing could have been done without the intrepidity of honest Luther. Let this be admitted; but let it not be added, that " such cautious men as the elector of Saxony could be of no use in the great struggle for Christian liberty." This very prince was the instrument of preserving the life of the intrepid Luther; and it seems utterly improbable that that inestimable life could have been saved during such a storm of papal fury, aided by immense papal power, unless there had been in Frederic The Wise, besides his extreme caution, an extraordinary assemblage of qualities which added great weight and authority to his character. Whoever reflects on these things with scriptural ideas in his mind, will doubtless see the operation of a divine hand in raising up this excellent prince to preserve Martin Luther from the flames, to which he was condemned by Charles V. and Leo X. as well as in bringing into the scene of public action this eminent Reformer himself at the critical time when there wanted so disinterested and daring a spirit, and so wise an interpreter of the sacred oracles.

Luther, «n Luther, on his return to Wittemberg, resumed to*wktem> favourite employment of preaching. He had berg, to inform the judgment and calm the passions of a Te'verai" distracted multitude. Few persons, however, have times. been better qualified for the arduous task. He possessed in a very high degree the requisites which the most approved instructors in the art of eloquence have wished their pupils either to be endowed with by nature or to acquire by diligence. There prevailed almost universally a fixed opinion of his unexampled integrity, and of his extraordinary knowledge of the Scriptures. His great skill in the German language has been mentioned before *: to all which, if we add the immense importance of the subjects he had to handle, and his affectionate manner of addressing his countrymen, we may cease to wonder that Luther's discourses from the pulpit should have produced that happy restoration of peace and good order, which, quickly after his arrival at Wittemberg, are known to have taken place both in the town and the university.

The substance of seven of these discourses are to be found in Luther's writings. As no time was to be lost, they were preached in rapid succession : and as it was of immense consequence, in the unsettled state of the minds of the people, that the great Christian rules for a quiet and peaceable conduct, and for submission to authority, should be clearly set forth, forcibly impressed, and well remembered ; the preacher, therefore, in these practical harangues was uncommonly grave, concise, and perspicuous. He showed his hearers, with how much charity and tender consideration the weakest brethren should be treated;—that various inconveniences in the external state of the church should be dispensed with, till the minds of men were sufficiently ripened to admit of more improvement;— • See Vol. IV.

that communion in both kinds ought not to be introduced by force, but that the people should be persuaded to it by substantial arguments; and, that in the mean time those, who pleased, might still adhere to the customary mode, without suffering molestation ;—that the existence of images in the church might be tolerated for the present, though he wished to see their total abolition;—that adoration of them, however, ought by no means to be countenanced, but strongly protested against, by every Christian. He reprehended the promiscuous concourse to the Lord's supper, and insisted on a godly preparation, especially a lively faith in the Redeemer, without which the sacrament itself was nugatory.

Luther, on his first appearance in the pulpit, addressed his audience to the following effect. " Once more I am allowed to sound the Gospel in your ears; once more you may derive benefit from my exhortation. By and by death will come, and then we can do one another no good. How neces* sary therefore is it, that every individual should be furnished with the principles which are to support him at that awful moment! These principles are the great doctrines of Christianity; and. by treasuring them up in your memories, you will act like wise men, and be fortified against the attacks of the enemy. I have often explained them to you on former occasions, and you have often granted me a kind and patient hearing. At present I would be as concise as possible.

Firstly ; That we are by nature children of wrath, and that all our own thoughts, our affections, and our works, can do us no good, is a fundamental truth, and we should have some solid scriptural passage always at hand to prove it. The Bible is full of passages which imply the very essence of this doctrine; but the third verse of the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians is directly to the purpose. Fix that verse deep in your mind ; ' We are all,' says the apostle, ' children of wrath.' Beware, then, of saying, I have built a church, I have founded a mass, and such like.

Secondly ; The great and good Jehovah sent his only Son to us, that we might believe on him ; and that whosoever does believe on him, might be free from the law of sin, and become a child of God. He gave them, says St. John, power to become the sons of God, namely, to those, who should believe on his name. In support of this point also, we should be well furnished with scriptural proofs, with which, as with the shield of Achilles, we may defend ourselves from the darts of the Wicked One. However, to confess the truth, I have not observed you to be deficient in the knowledge of either of these two fundamental articles of religion. I have preached on them very often before you ; and 1 am not ashamed to own, that several of you are much more capable than I am of defending them by scriptural authority.

But there is a third point, my dear friends, which we ought earnestly to aim at,—namely, to do good to each other in love ; as Christ hath shown his love to us by his works. Without this love, faith is a cold speculation, and of no account. So says St. Paul, ' Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have all faith, and have not charity, I am nothing.' In this, dear friends, ye are, as yet, greatly defective. Nay, not a single vestige of love can I discover in you ; a plain proof, that ye are not grateful to God for his rich mercies.

Beware then lest Wittemberg should become like Capernaum. Ye can discourse excellently on the doctrines which have been preached to you ; ye can even dispute acutely concerning charity. But this does not make a Christian. The kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power, that is, in works, and in practice. God loves the doers of the ■word in faith and love, and not the mere hearers, who, like parrots, have learnt to utter certain expressions with readiness. Once more ; faith without love is as it were a dream, an image of faith ; just as the appearance of a face in a glass is not a real face.

Fourthly, continues Luther, we have need of patience. There must be persecution. Satan never sleeps ; but is constantly contriving something that is matter for our patience. Now patience begets hope. The Christian learns entirely to commit his cau?e to God ; his faith increases more and more, and he grows stronger every day.

The heart which is furnished with these spiritual gifts thinks little of its own private advantages ; but overflows with good-will towards his brother, and for his sake forbears to do many things, which otherwise he might be allowed to do. ' All things,' says St. Paul, ' are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient;' for all have not made equal advances in faith.

To be plain ; we ought to bear with the infirmities of our brethren, and to feed them with milk; and not to be so selfish as to think of arriving at heaven Alone, but rather to try whether we cannot gain our brethren by kindness, and make them our companions in the road to the mansions of the blessed, though, for the present, they may be inimical to us.—For example, if I had been with you lately, when ye were abolishing the masses, I should have endeavoured to moderate your heat and impetuosity. Your cause was good, but was managed by you with too much violence. There are, I trust, among the opposite party, many brothers and sisters who belong to us, and must be drawn to us with the cords of love. Let your faith be firm as a rock ; but let your charity be pliable, and accommodated to the circumstances of your neighbour. Some can only

Vol. v. F

Chap, creep, others can walk briskly, and others again are VIir' , so swift that they can almost fly.

The error of those, who abolished the masses, consisted, not in doing a thing that was wrong in itself, but in not doing what they did in a right manner. Their proceedings were most rash and precipitate, and inconsistent with all the laws of order ; and no wonder, therefore, that they gave great offence to their neighbours. Such a business should not have been undertaken without serious prayers to God in the first place : and in the next place the assent of the magistrates should have been obtained: and thus it would have been manifest that these new regulations were ordained of God. Long ago I might have taken the same step, if I had thought it either lawful or prudent. But the truth is, I so entirely disapprove the spirit with which you have acted, that if the mass were not in itself an abomination, I should be disposed to re-establish it. I could indeed plead your cause before the pope, but I cannot acquit you of having fallen into the snares of Satan. I wish you had asked my advice, which you might easily have done ; I was at no such great distance."

In a subsequent discourse, in prosecution of the same subject, he spake thus: " That the private masses ought to be abolished is as clear as that God is to be worshipped; and with my voice and my pen I would strenuously maintain that they are a most horrid abomination. Yet I would not pull away by force any one person from the mass. Let us preach the Gospel; and commit the event to the Divine will. Let us say, ' Beloved countrymen, abstain, I beseech you, in future, from the mass. Indeed, it is a blasphemous practice, and most highly offensive to Almighty God.' But by no means would I conpel them, especially by the hasty and intemperate decision of a mob, to comply with our forms of sacramental communion. No; I would instruct, I ■would admonish them from the sacred pages, and if they took my advice I should have happily gained them over to the truth; but if not, it does not become me to drag them away by the hair of the head, or to use violence of any other kind ; but rather to leave the word of God to its own operation, and to pray for them. By acting in this manner, the force of Scripture will penetrate the hearts of men, and produce an effectual and a durable change of sentiment. Proselytes will be made gradually; and when men are become, in general, of the same mind, then they will agree in laying aside their erroneous forms and ceremonies. In all this I am far from wishing' to restore the use of the mass. If it be abrogated, let it remain so. All I affirm is, what you must be convinced of, namely, that faith, in its very nature, is incapable of restraint or coercion.

As an example, reflect on my conduct in the affair of the Indulgences. I had the whole body of the papists to oppose. I preached, I wrote, I pressed on men's consciences with the greatest earnestness the positive declarations of the Word of God, but I used not a particle of force or constraint. What has been the consequence ? This same Word of God has, while I was asleep in my bed, given such a blow to papal despotism, as not one of the German princes, not even the emperor himself could have done. It is not I, I repeat it, it is the Divine Word which has done every thing. Had it been right to have aimed at a reform by violence and tumults, it would have been easy for me to have deluged Germany with blood ; nay, had I been in the least inclined to promote sedition, it was in my power, when I was at Worms, to have endangered the safety even of the emperor himself. The devil smiles in secret when men pretend to support religion by seditious tumults ; but he is cut to the heart, when he sees them, in faith and patience, rely on the written word."

These extracts from Luther's sermons may suffice as specimens of the wisdom and discretion with which that Reformer addressed and directed his congregation in a critical extremity, when the best friends of the protestant cause were almost in despair. They may also have other important uses, especially when taken in connexion with the other parts of this circumstantial account of Luther's motives for leaving the castle of Wartburg. For example; they demonstrate, in general, the enlightened state of the mind of the great German Reformer at this very early period of the reformation ; and they furnish the completest answer to the invidious conjecture of those, who have imagined that the " true reason of his displeasure at the proceedings of Carolstadt was, that he could not bear to see another crowned with the glory of executing a Plan which he had laid *."

* The facts prove that Luther laid down no plan at all. His eyes opened by degrees, and he was faithful to the light afforded him. He acted to the best of his judgment always at the moment, and committed his cause to God, completely ignorant of what he might be called to do or to suffer; but as completely disposed to obey what should appear to him to be the Divine will. The learned translator of Mosheim, in his note, quoted above in the text, supposes that Luther was ambitious of appearing as the principal Reformer. There is no doubt but he was in Fact the Principal. Neither the caution of Frederic, nor the erudition of Melancthon, could have done much without the judgment, the vigour, and the activity of Luther. Be it granted then, that this Reformer was ambitious of appearing What He Really Was; what is this but saying that he was but a man ? St. Paul himself did not like to build upon another man's foundation. As to the glory of executing a plan by riot and tumult, nothing could be more contrary to Luther's principles than the use of force and violence, or than the breach of peace and decorum. See his Life by Melancthon, page 55. Append, to Vol. iv. See also Luther's Warning against Sedition and Tumult. In this last tract he exhorts all men, not so much as to mention his name in a sectarian view; not to call themselves Lutherans, but Christians. " The doctrine," says he, " is not mine, nor was I crucified for any one. Paul and Peter forbad the people to call themselves after their names ; why should I, who am soon to be food for worms,

2

The people of Wittemberg heard their beloved Cent. pastor with the greatest satisfaction: and again tran- xyI'_, quillity and concord began to flourish in the church. The importance of Carolstadt vanished before the influence of Luther ; and, after various travels and schemes, he became fixed at Basil, where he exer- Death of cised the pastoral office for ten years, and died in c*TM^dt' • 53»*

Luther, in a letter to the Prior of Eisleben, gives the following concise account of the misunderstanding between Carolstadt and himself:

" I offended Carolstadt," says he, " because I annulled his institutions; though I by no means condemned his doctrine. In one point, however, he grieved me much. I found him taking prodigious pains about ceremonies and things external, and, at the same time, very negligent in inculcating the essential principles of Christianity ; namely, faith and charity. By his injudicious method of teaching, he had induced many of the people to think themselves Christians, however deficient in these graces, provided they did but communicate in both kinds, take the consecrated elements into their own hands, refuse private confession, and break images. Observe how the malice of Satan attempts to ruin the Gospel in a new way. All along, my object has been, by instruction, to emancipate the consciences of men from the bondage of human

desire the children of Christ to be called by the name of so poor a creature f By no means! No! No! Let us have done with factious appellations ; and be railed Christians, because we possess the doctrine of Christianity. The Papists have very properly another name, because they are not content with Christ's name, and Christ's doctrine; they choose to be called Papists. Be it so; because they have a master. I desire to be no man's master. I hold, with the Church, the doctrine which belongs to us all in common, and of which Christ alone is the author." Seek. Ind. III. Suppl.

* As Carolstadt at length joined the Zuinglian communion, any further account of him will more properly fall in with the history of that church, than with the history of Lutheranism.

Chap, inventions of every kind; and then the papal fooleries , vlJr' . would soon fall of themselves by common consent.

But Carolstadt suddenly set himself up as a new teacher, and by his own arbitrary institutions endeavoured to ruin my credit with the people."

There now only remained, as an object of contention, the turbulence and fanaticism of the prophets, Treatment mentioned some pages before*. The associates Prophets. °f Stubner pressed him to defend his pretensions openly, and to confront the Reformer, who, by his sermons and his authority, had nearly restored peace and unanimity among the people. With much reluctance, Luther consented to hold a conference, in the presence of Melancthon, with this enthusiast and Cellary, and another of the same fanatical sect. Our sagacious Reformer patiently heard the prophet relate his visions; and when the harangue was finished, recollecting that nonsense was incapable of confutation, he briefly admonished him to take care what he did. You have mentioned, said he, nothing that has the least support in Scripture; the whole seems rather an ebullition of imagination, or, perhaps the fraudulent suggestion of an evil spirit. Cellar):, in a storm of indignation, stamped on the ground, struck the table with his hands, and expressed the most lively resentment that Luther should dare to say such things of so divine a personage. Stubner, with more calmness, told Luther he would give him a proof that he was influenced by the Divine Spirit; for, said he, I will reveal your own thoughts at this moment. You are inclined to believe my doctrine true, notwithstanding what has passed. The man, however, was totally mistaken in his conjecture ;—for Luther afterwards declared that he was then meditating on the divine sentence, " the Lord rebuke thee, Satan." The prophets now boasted and threatened, in the • Page 44.

most pompous, and extravagant terms, what sur- Cent. prising things they would do to establish their com- . xy* mission ; but Luther thought proper to put an end to the conversation by dismissing them with these words, " The God whom I serve and adore will confound your vanities." That very day they left the town, and sent letters to Luther full of execrations and abuse. The leaders, however, being gone, their disciples dwindled in number; and for the present the delusion was quashed*.

It was not, however, in the power of Luther, to infuse into all his followers the moderate and cautious spirit"with which he himself, notwithstanding the warmth of his temper, was constantly possessed. He expresses his grief, that many monks, deserting their monasteries, flocked to Wittemberg, and married immediately, actuated by no better motives than those of mere sensuality ; from which he foresaw the scandal which would arise against the Gospel. He complains, that wickedness still abounded among those who professed to abhor the papacy, and that they had the kingdom of God among them too much in Word, instead of power f. There were, however, some of those that deserted the monasteries, who gave the most shining proofs of genuine godliness, and who were the most active instruments of the propagation of the Gospel. Nor were their labours, or those of Luther, in vain : many souls were turned from the power of Satan to God. It required only the exercise of common candour and equity to acknowledge the utility of the Reformation in these and other important instances, and not to expect from the labours of a few upright pastors the

• These fanatical prophets opposed the baptism of infants ; and appear to have been among the very first of the turbulent German anabaptists ;—a sect, which ought never to be confounded with the baptists of our times. Melch. Adam.

t Comment, de Luth. exxiii. ■

entire renovation of the human species. Luther's zeal was no less vehement against the Abuse of Christian liberty, than it was against papal bondage ; he was cautious and slow in the promotion of external changes in the church, ardent and intent on the advancement of internal religion; he lamented the perverseness of hypocritical professors; he checked the ferocious spirits of the forward and the turbulent; and demonstrated his own sincerity by a perfect contempt of all secular arts to obtain applause and popularity. It was not to be supposed, that all men who had been habituated to folly and wickedness under the popedom, should immediately, on hearing his sermons, commence real saints ; it is rather to be admired as a great effect of divine grace, that so many gave substantial proofs of genuine conversion.

His personal circumstances were all this time truly distressing. He thus describes them in a letter to Gerbelius of Strasburg*. " I am now encompassed with no guards, but those of heaven; I live in the midst of enemies, who have a legal power of killing me every hour. This is the way in which I comfort myself; I know that Christ is Lord of all, that the Father hath put all things under his feet, among the rest the wrath of the emperor, and all evil spirits. If it please Christ that I should be slain, let me die in his name; if it do not please him, who shall slay me ? Do you only, with your friends, take care to assist the cause of the Gospel by your prayers.—For, through our grievous ingratitude, we hold the Gospel in word only, and not in power, and are more elated in knowledge than edified in charity, I fear our Germany will be drenched in blood." To Langus the pastor of Erfurt he wrote thus: " I must not come to you; it behoveth me not to tempt God, by seeking dangers

elsewhere, when I am full of them here already, Cent. excluded as I am by the papal and imperial ana- . „ themas, exposed to be murdered by any one, absolutely with no protection except that which is from above."

Amidst all these difficulties, however, he remitted Lu^ej not his usual vigour and activity. During his con- {h"e Nv" finement he had studied the Hebrew tongue with T1eQ°"'ent persevering industry, and had translated the whole A D New Testament into the German language. And 1522 in the course of this year, 1522, he published the version. He then proceeded to apply his Hebrew AUo the studies to the translation of the Old Testament, Testament which he also published gradually, and finished the A.d. ' whole in the year 1530. In this work he was much 1530. assisted by the labour and advice of several of his friends, particularly Justus Jonas and Philip Melancthon. The whole performance itself was a monument of that astonishing industry which marked the character of this Reformer. The effects of this labour were soon felt in Germany ; immense numbers now read in their own language the precious word of God, and saw with their own eyes the just foundations of the Lutheran doctrine. To decide on the merits of Luther's translation, would require not only an exact knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek, but also of the German language; certainly it was elegant and perspicuous, and, beyond comparison, preferable to any scriptural publication which had before been known to the populace. It is probable that this work had many defects ; but, that it was in the main faithful and sound, may be fairly presumed from the solid understanding, biblical learning, and multifarious knowledge of the author and his coadjutors. A more acceptable present could scarcely have been conferred on men, who were emerging out of darkness; and the example being followed soon after by reformers in other nations, the1 real knowledge of Scripture, if we take

into the account the effects of the art of printing, was facilitated to a surprising degree.

The papacy saw all this, and sighed indignant.

Emser, a doctor of Leipsic, endeavoured to depreciate the credit of Luther's version; and the popish princes, within the bounds of their respective dominions, ordered the work to be burnt. Nor was their resentment appeased by the advices which Luther openly gave to their subjects, which was this, —patiently to bear their sufferings without resisting their governors, but not to come forward voluntarily and deliver up their German bibles, nor to do any act, which might testify an approbation of the requisitions of their superiors on the occasion.

In the mean time, George of Saxony, incensed at the growth of Lutheranism, and expostulating repeatedly with his nephew the elector, on account of his conduct, began to encourage the papal bishops to exert themselves in their respective dioceses. Among these, John a Schleinig, bishop of Misnia, commenced an episcopal visitation in this year. The elector refused not his consent; too timid to withstand openly the power of the popedom, and too conscientious to undertake the decision of theological cases, to which he confessed his knowledge to be inadequate. A long course of superstitious servility from his early years had enfeebled, in religious matters, the intellectual powers of this prince, which, in secular affairs, were justly looked on as exceedingly eminent. His labours and expense in the collection of relics had been astonishing ; yet, amidst all his superstitions, doubts, and embarrassments, he had constantly preserved a secret predilection for something of evangelical truth ; and, on no occasion would permit it to be oppressed by violence, though through life he never openly supported it*. Thus, in the course of divine

• There is on record a notable instance of the resolute deter

Providence, the foundations of the Reformation were Cent. laid in Germany by the preaching and exposition _XVL of the word of God, with no more aid from the civil power than that of a connivance, firm indeed and unalterable, but ever bearing the marks of hesitation and indecision. That Frederic should permit tbe bishop of Misnia, an avowed and professional adversary of Luther, to visit the churches, might alarm the minds of many ; but it produced no mischievous effects. lie preached, he warned, he expostulated, through the diocese; but the papal arguments were now stale, insipid, and ineffective. So much light had been diffused through Saxony, that this prelate's defence of masses, of communion in one kind, of the pope's authority and infallibility, and of the rest of the Romish tenets, appeared ridiculous to the laity. Other bishops, with the consent of the Elector, made the same peregrinations with the same effect; and it required all the power and rigour of the duke George to keep his own subjects within the bounds of papal obedience. So much more happy

mination of this good prince to protect his subjects from papal cruelty. A clergyman of Schmeiedberg, in the electorate of Frederic, complained to the elector, that attempts had been made to carry him away by force to Stolpen, the place of the residence of the bishop of Misnia. This bishop also, about the same time, having before accused the said clergyman of not appearing to a citation which he had sent to him, had entreated the prince to compel his subject to obedience. Frederic replied, that the grounds of the citation ought to have been stated ; and that he would not permit his clergy to be taken by force, and carried out of his dominions, without his knowledge and appro nation. The fault of this clergyman appears to have been, that he laboured under the suspicion of being married. Some other cases of a like sort happened during this year. The bishop remonstrated; but Frederic continued steady; and would allow no force to be employed against his clergy. Further, he desired the bishop to appeal to him no more against them on the account of their being married. He might use, he said, his ecclesiastical jurisdiction against them, if he pleased. The elector had learnt, that this tyrannical bishop had shut up in a noisome prison, three clergymen belonging to the district of duke (ieorge ; and had actually put another to death. Seck.

did the subjects of Frederic, who enjoyed liberty of conscience, seem to be than themselves, who remained papists by constraint; and so much light, from the proximity of their situation, had they received concerning the nature of true religion *.

But the difficulties of providing for the instruction and edification of the Lutheran churches began now to be more and more apparent. It was not possible, that public worship and the administration of the sacraments could be conducted decently and in order without some plan of ecclesiastical discipline. The court would do no more than grant a tacit protection to the pastors ; and the great personal authority of Luther seemed to be the only cement of union among those who loved the Gospel. It was easy to foresee what feuds and divisions might arise from so uncertain and fluctuating a state of the church; and there was no opportunity of forming a general synod of pastors and elders, who might regulate the external state of religion. On the one hand, the bishops, and many of the clergy and monks, who still adhered to the old system, laboured to harass and perplex the minds of all serious inquirers after Divine truth ; and on the other, many of the people panted for the benefit of a church order, more emancipated from superstitions, and better adapted to the evangelical ideas which they were continually receiving, either from reading the books or hearing the sermons of Luther and his associates. In this crisis the Reformer was consulted by the parochial clergy of some of the principal towns in Saxony, who approved of the alterations which he had introduced into Wittemberg with the consent of the inhabitants and the connivance of the elector, and who, therefore, were anxious to inquire and try whether improvements of a similar kind might not be made in other places. This application gave rise to a little treatise, which Luther in the year 1523, published and dedicated to

* Archiv. Vin.

"Nicolas Hausman, the pastor of Zwickau, whom Cent. Ave author revered very highly, as has been already t xvl-_ observed. The exordium of this tract may deserve to be quoted, as it will sufficiently explain the principles of the external Reformation which was gradually introduced into various parts of Germany, where Lutheranism prevailed, and illustrate the customs of the cburches while they were yet in an imperfect state of discipline. " Hitherto," said he, " by books, and by preaching I have laboured among the people, to inform their minds, and to draw their hearts from false dependencies ; thinking it a Christian employment, if possible, to Break Without Hands* the abomination which Satan, by the man of sin, had set up in the holy place. I have attempted nothing forcibly, nothing imperiously ; nor have I changed old customs; being always afraid of doing mischief, partly on account of those who are weak in the faith, and cannot suddenly be divested of old prejudices or induced to acquiesce in new modes of worship, but principally because of those light and fastidious spirits, who rush on without faith and without understanding, and delight in novelty only, and are presently disgusted, when the charms of novelty have ceased. In other subjects, persons of this turn of mind are sufficiently troublesome; in religion, however, they are peculiarly so: still it is my duty to bear them, though my temper must thereby be tried to the utmost;—unless, indeed, I were to cease all my attempts to spread the Gospel among the public. But, as I now natter myself that the hearts of many are both enlightened and strengthened by the grace of God, and as the circumstances require that scandals should at length be removed out of the kingdom of Christ, we ought to attempt something in His Name. For it is highly proper, that we should consult for the good of the few, lest while we perpetually dread the Jevity and abuses of the many, we should do good

• Dan. viii. 55.

to none ; and lest, while we dread future scandals, , we should confirm the general abominations. We will therefore endeavour in, the sacramental forms, so to regulate the use of them, that we may not only instruct the hearts of the people, but also recommend a public administration of them, without pretending to impose our own ideas upon others. And we entreat the brethren heartily, through Jesus Christ, that if any thing better be revealed to them, they would exhibit it, that the public benefit may be conducted by public council."—The whole passage seems to be a memorable evidence of that thoughtfulness and caution, which marked the conduct of this early Reformer in all his public proceedings. On this plan he undertook to remove some of the most flagrant abuses in Baptism and the Lord's supper, and to recommend communion in both kinds, at the same time that he still tolerated, till a more favourable opportunity occurred, many lesser matters not directly sinful, though inconvenient and useless : for the zeal of Luther, like that of St. Paul, exerted all its vehemence on the essentials of salvation,—real Faith, and real Piety. In externals and ceremonious subjects, he would, to many protestants, appear too remiss, especially to those who have not considered so much, as he did, the danger of needless divisions.

He complained, however, of an evil in the great church at Wittemberg, which it was not in his power to rectify, namely, the celebration of private masses, in which the verv essence of religious merchandise and religious imposture consisted*. It is not easy to exculpate the elector of Saxony on this article, as he must have well known the danger and mischief of the traffic ; but he appears either not to have had the fortitude to oppose the abomination, or, what is more probable, to have had some method of pacifying his

• By means of these masses, those who had money supposed that they could secure to themselves the favour of God, in their journeys, vovages, and such like, and even after death. Luth. Op. II. 348."

conscience in tolerating the nuisance*. Not long after, it pleased God to remove by death some of the more obstinate canons of Wittemberg, and Luther found an opportunity of gradually annihilating this gTeat bulwark of popery. Neither did it escape the sagacity of our Reformer, that the alterations which were daily taking place, in consequence of the protestant doctrines, would in many instances be attended with adangerous redundance of ecclesiastical revenue. The monasteries and colleges would soon be deserted, and it was not probable that new inhabitants would succeed the old ones. Luther foresaw, that much scandal and great abuses might arise from this circumstance, unless certain effectual precautions were taken in due time, to prevent the superfluous money from becominga temptation to the rapacity or covetousness of worldly-minded men. He therefore published his thoughts freely on this delicate subject respecting the proper application of ecclesiastical property ; and thereby, as might be expected, gave prodigious offence to the papal party. The little tract is in the German language, and has been called the Common Treasury,because he proposed that a sort of common treasury should be made of the above-mentioned ecclesiastical revenues, and be applied to the erection of schools and hospitals, the maintenance of preachers, and other pious and laudable objects. Luther, for merely giving this advice, was accused of setting up himself, by his own private authority, as the supreme lawgiver, and also of attempting to gratify the German princes with the plunder of the church f. But there is not the least foundation for either of these charges.

During these unceasing efforts of the Reformer to promote the glory of God in the recovery and establishment of Christian liberty, his grand adversary, George duke of Saxony, had strained every nerve in

• Sec. 3J7—223. 274- 276. t Du Pin. Maimbourg, 55.

opposition to the good cause, and, by continual exertions in support of the declining credit of the papal system, manifested his bigoted attachment to that corrupt communion. This faithful son of the Romish church, having in vain endeavoured, by repeated remonstrances, to persuade the elector to use his authority in repressing the new religion, resolved to try whether he might not have better success with John duke of Saxony, the brother of Frederic. In a letter written with his own hand, he complained heavily to this prince of the heretical transactions at Wittemberg and Zwickau, and of the remissness of his brother the elector. The faithful clergy were insulted and even pelted with stones, while those of the Lutherian sect married wives,and wrote books in defence of the marriages of the monks. There were even some who were destitute of all religion, and denied the immortality of the soul. All these evils he said, proceeded from the novel doctrines of the archheretic ; and gave him the more pain, since he had found the contagion was spreading among his own subjects. He concluded with beseeching his nephew John to do his utmost to convince the elector Frederic, how absolutely necessary it was become that he should clear himself of the suspicion of heresy, either by punishing the innovators, or at least openly expressing his disapprobation of their proceedings. He would gladly concur, he said, with his two nephews in suppressing the growing mischief, and had more to say on this subject. To this exhortation, John duke of Saxony, who will shortly appear to have been a staunch protestant, and who well knew how fruitless would be any attempt to argue with his prejudiced uncle, returned no more than a concise and civil reply,—that he would not fail to communicate with his brother the elector, and would be ready to pay due attention to any further advice the duke George might think proper to give.

But George, the most determined bigot of the age, was not satisfied with using persuasions only. He had recourse to what he supposed more efficacious methods of securing the unity of the church. Under the authority of the emperor, and in concert with Alexander and other enemies of the reformation, he had procured the severe edict of Nuremberg*, and was labouring in every way he could devise to render it effective. It was in obedience to the special directions of this edict that the bishops began their penal and coercive visitations; and it was under the sanction of the same tyrannical measure, that George, by imprisonments and other cruelties, supported, through every part of his own territory, the ecclesiastical inquisitions. Moreover, this active zealot, to render his plans of persecution more extensive, tried once more, by a literary correspondence, to obtain the co-operation of the elector of Saxony. He said, the reputation of that wise prince was suffering from a want of vigorous animadversion on the apostate clergy: hehad heard, during his stay at Nuremberg, many reports of the profane doctrines and irregular practices of the schismatics under Frederic's jurisdiction: and to be brief, he neither understood nor wished to understand, all the obscure hints which were thrown out to the disadvantage of his nephew.

Upon the elector's demanding an explanation of this inuendo, he owned, that he had not heard of any specific charge being made against the person of Frederic, but that nevertheless numbers of people expressed their astonishment, that so good a prince should tolerate the heresy and disobedience even of his own professors and teachers. A doctor and exmonk at Eislenberg, named Gabriel f, was said to be a principal instigator of all this mischief. Moreover, they accused Carolstadt of being married, and Melancthon of doing such things as the very Hussites would have held in abhorrence. The duke George