FROM THE CONCLUSION OF THE CONTROVERSY
WITH ERASMUS, TO THE CONCLUSION OF THE
Concessions Of Luther Made To Henry vul
And Duke George Of Saxony. Consequences Of Those Concessions. Continuation Of The Chapter.
Chap. Luther was not much in the habit of making con• cessions. It is however greatly to his praise, that, notwithstanding the violence of his natural temper, there are yet not wanting in his conduct instances of extraordinary self-government, at particular junc* See Article IX. of the Church of England.
tures, when the cause of the Gospel appeared to Cent. him to require moderate and pacific measures. . xy1
We have seen, in the last chapter, his attempts to conciliate Erasmus, and secure at least the neutrality of a man, whose avowed hostility might impede the progress of the Reformation. His treatment of Henry VIII. and of George of Saxony, are examples of the same kind.
In the year 1521, he had published a very rough and churlish reply to Henry's celebrated answer to his treatise on the Babylonish Captivity*. Erasmus had highly commended the king's book, even before he had read it f ; but Luther had criticised the several parts of it without ceremony; and, in his conclusion, had said, " If the liberty I take with the king should offend any person, let him have this answer: First, I have to do with unfeeling monsters, who have despised all my best and most modest writings, and also my exceedingly humble submissions; and have grown harder in consequence of my moderation. Secondly, I have abstained from falsehood and from bitterness ; whereas the king's book is full of both. And, lastly, it is no such great matter that I should treat with contempt and severity an earthly king, who has blasphemed and profaned the King of heaven by his virulent misrepresentations
A little experience had convinced Luther, that he had done no good by exasperating a tyrant of the cruel and resentful character of Henry VIII. For no sooner had the angry monarch read the book, than he complained heavily to the Elector Frederic, to the Dukes John his brother and George his uncle, of the proceedings of Luther. " All Germany," he said, " was in the utmost danger from the spreading of his doctrines. Moreover, they ought by no means to allow Luther's false translations of the
• P. 26-28. t Ep. to Richard Pace, 600.
I Luth. contra Reg. Ang. II. 347.
New Testament to be dispersed among their subjects."
Then the Duke George, as might be expected, joined heartily in the censure; and told Henry, that he had punished the bookseller who first imported and sold an impression of Luther's Testament among his subjects *.
The answer of Frederic also was timid and evasive. He pretended ignorance of such subjects; and wished every thing to be referred to a general council 1".
Add, that it could not escape Luther, in reflecting on the mischievous consequences of his imprudent provocation of the king of England, that Henry's urgent solicitations of Erasmus to take the field against the arch-heretic ought not to be omitted J. What could gratify the enraged controversialist more, than to see the adversary, who had treated his royal dignity with so little respect, defeated and humbled by the supposed invincible pen of Erasmus ?
But another reason, more than any that have yet been mentioned, operated powerfully on the mind of Luther, and inclined this undaunted Reformer to make concessions to king Henry VIII. Christiern, king of Denmark, had taken prodigious pains, both in conversation and by letters, to persuade him, that if he would only condescend to address the English monarch in very modest language, he might be gained over to the cause of pure Evangelical truth. Luther owns that he was in a manner inebriated by these large promises, and began to waver. " Who knows," said he, " but, in a happy hour, I may gain the king of England ? Certainly, 1 should incur the Divine displeasure, were I to lose any favourable opportunity."
Under the influence of these motives, he wrote
* Sleidan IV. 91. f Com. de Luth. p. 278.
J See page 261 of this Vol.
to Henry in the most submissive style, confessing, Cent. that, at the instance of other persons, he had griev- t ously offended his majesty by a foolish and precipi
be said, " such accounts of the king's clemency, that he could not but hope for forgiveness. He Luther's also had been told, that his majesty was not the real ^H'""'j author of the book which had been edited against Luther under the king's name." He takes occasion to call Cardinal Wolsey the pest of the kingdom ; and adds, that it rejoiced his heart to hear that his majesty began to favour the Gospel, and to be tired of those abandoned sycophants who had disgraced him. " If the king pleased," he added, " he was ready to own his fault publicly; and he trusted, that if he might be allowed to write to the king of England concerning the present state of religion, service would thereby be done to the Gospel of Christ and the glory of God."
He then entreated his majesty to consider what possible harm a man could do, who taught nothing but that we are to be saved by believing in Jesus Christ the Son of God, who suffered for us, and rose again from the dead. This was the fundamental doctrine upon which he erected all the rest; as, love to our neighbour, obedience to rulers, and mortification of the body of sin.—What harm, he asked, was there in these articles of Christian doctrine ? Why was he to be condemned, neither heard, nor convicted ?
His serene majesty saw how many princes, how many states in Germany, and also how many persons of the greatest wisdom, now supported the Lutheran principles; and he wished that it mightplease Christ, by his distinguishing mercy, to add king Henry to the number, and separate him from the dominion of the Papal tyranny over the souls of men. i In this humiliation of Luther, though the purity of his motives is by no means to be suspected, and
Chap, though he surrendered not a single iota of the arti
. ' ' . cles of religion for which he had so long contended, yet some, perhaps, might be found among his admirers, who thought that he had gone quite far enough, either for the dignity of a leading Reformer, or the simplicity of a follower of Christ. With such, even of his sincere friends, Luther could certainly find but little pity, under his disappointment from the failure of his attempt at reconciliation with Henry; while his avowed adversaries would as certainly triumph, in the rebuff he met with from the haughty and indignant monarch.
Henry reproached him with levity and inconstancy. " It was no wonder," he said, " that he had calumniated Wolsey, when, for seven years past, he had spared no dignity, divine or human, civil or ecclesiastic. He had blasphemed the saints, treated the apostles with contempt, and despised the holy Mother of Christ. Cardinal Wolsey was peculiarly dear to him, as one who did great service to the kingdom of England in general, and was distinguished by his constant care in guarding the country from the contagion of the Lutheran heresy.—Lastly, he charged Luther with having, at the instigation of the devil, made a sacrilegious and incestuous marriage : in this he had committed an execrable crime; a crime, for which, had he been under the old Roman government, the Vestal nun whom he had married must have been buried alive, and he himself have been cut to pieces with stripes *."
Lutjier's About three months after Luther had made subCoiice»ions mission to Henry VIII., he resolved to try the effect
to Duke „ • -i , " i /• i . i •
George of of a similar step upon the mind of his bitter perSaionj. secutor, George of Saxony.—So early as the year 1523, count Albert of Mansfield, a friend of the Reformation, had exhorted Luther to endeavour, by milder language, to moderate, if possible, the * Maimbourg in Seek. 37. Sleidan. VI. 14,3. Cochlacus, 121.
ferocity of the Saxon tyrant; and he had answered to this effect: " I am ready, provided I do not sacrifice the glory of the Gospel, to offer my bounden duty and service, as becomes a Christian, not only to the Duke George, but to all my enemies ; and I allow you to promise him, on my part, all the obedience he can desire, if he will but desist from committing outrages against the word of God. On the other hand, if he be determined to rage in this manner, he may rest assured that there is nothing can be mentioned to which I am less disposed, than to humour his blind, wretched, and furious passions. I could not have thought there had been in the head of this duke so much folly and madness *."
In the year 1525, Luther had again been made to believe, as he himself assures us, on the authority of many great and excellent characters, subjects of the Duke George, that he might, by writing to that prince in a spirit of mildness and moderation, certainly induce him in a short time to become a warm friend, instead of a cruel prosecutor, of the Gospel. Accordingly, he wrote to him in substance, as follows:
He confessed, that, among others, he had treated his highness with some asperity ; but that, in the mean time, he had also edited such sermons and various lucubrations of a practical and consolatory stamp, as must prove to a demonstration that he had no malevolence towards any creature, and that the great object of all his labours, contentions, and dangers, was to do good to mankind.
It was a great grief to him to have been informed that his highness became more and more violent. On that account, he had resolved to admonish him in a respectful and an affectionate manner: ■—perhaps this was the last letter he should ever write to him. He called to witness God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, as far as his * lip. II. 134. 6. Com. de Luth. CLV.
most secret thoughts were known to himself, and which God certainly knew, he was influenced entirely by a sense of duty, and a desire to promote the salvation of his highness.
He came, he said, with tears, and be laid his very heart at the feet of his highness, and humbly entreated him to be no longer hostile to the doctrine of Luther.
For though the duke did not believe that Luther preached the word of God, yet he himself was so fully convinced of it, that, he was constrained to be deeply concerned for the state of his highness's soul; and to watch, and pray, for him, and not to be weary of exhorting him, if by any means he might be the instrument of delivering him from the jaws of Satan, and presenting him to Christ. He entreated the duke not to despise him on account of his low rank or meanness. Almighty God, on one occasion, had made use even of the organs of speech of an ass.—He said, he was perfectly sure that neither his highness nor any power on earth could retard, obstruct, extinguish, or oppress his doctrine. Men might rage against it, but facts had shown it would flourish, break through all obstacles, extend itself, and acquire stability. The reason was, it was not his doctrine, nor that of any human being. Nevertheless, it gave him great concern to be forced to see a prince of so many excellent endowments making horrid attempts to dash to pieces that perilous rock Jesus Christ.
He prayed God, by his Holy Spirit, to impress his highness's mind in such a manner, that this sincere and submissive letter might be an instance of what Solomon says, that' a soft answer turneth away wrath.'
He was ready to make every concession to his highness, except the single one of giving up his doctrine. He could not do that without inflicting a deadly wound on his conscience. He begged pardon for having ever used any hasty and improper [cent. words respecting him, and he cast himself entirely t xyiupon his highness's clemency.
On the other hand, he, from his heart, forgave the duke all the injurious treatment he had received from his highness : and he said, he would earnestly pray our Lord Jesus Christ to pardon his highness's great criminality, in having so much opposed the word of God, that even yet it had found no place in his dominions : nor did he doubt of his prayers being answered, provided his highness did but desist from persecuting the Protestants.
In conclusion, Luther intimated that he might be compelled by necessity, if the Duke George persisted in his cruel and tyrannical system of opposition to Christian liberty, to implore the assistance of Almighty God against him; and his highness might then learn, at length, what a sad thing it was to fight against God. As to himself and his despised associates, they had the most entire reliance on the Divine promises*.
The excessive bigotry and prejudice of the Saxon duke appears in almost every line of the answer which he gave to the preceding address. He charges Luther with having made Wittemberg the asylum of all the monks and nuns who had robbed churches and monasteries in his dominions: moreover, he then insinuates that the nuns were reduced to a most degraded, wretched, and scandalous situation. The devil, on account of all this mischief might be a friend to Luther; but the duke could not be so. For surely he who was sorry if any one of his very lowest rustics should lose even a cow, ought to be much more sorry, as being the servant of Christ, when he was robbed both of the souls and bodies of his own subjects!
In regard to Luther's Gospel, he said it had been the cause why the holy sacraments, the sacred * Luth. Op. II. 488. Sleidan. VI. 144.
Mother of God, and all the Saints, had been blasphemed. These were the genuine fruits of his doctrines.
He then proceeds to charge Luther with having revived the old reprobated heresies, and abolished all the venerable modes of worshipping God; and concludes with blackening the disciples of the reformers, in every way that a prejudiced understanding and a virulent imagination could devise*.
Consequences Of The Concessions Of
Luther had too much fire in his composition to bear very patiently the insults and affronts of a German prince, or even of an English monarch. It appears, however, that at first he had determined to take no notice of the falsehoods and revilings of George of Saxony. " All my humble remonstrances," says he, " are lost upon him ; nor shall I give him any answer. For, why should not I put up with these things : I, who am compelled to bear the furious opposition, even of my own Absaloms f."
He had likewise resolved upon silence in regard to Henry VIII.; till he found that his own submissive letter, together with the king's answer, had been translated into German, and were published in one little treatise, with a preface, in which he
* Acta Luth. Colch. 119.
+ Luther alludes here to the violent and unhappy disputes which he had at that time with his brethren the reformers concerning the nature of the Sacrament. To Hausm. II. 310. In this letter he also says, " I am glad that my answer to Erasmus pleases you. I expect from him harsher language than from the Duke George. The viper will feel himself seized by the throat; and my moderation in the Bondage of the Will will have no effect upon him. God grant I may be disappointed ; but I know that man's disposition; and" I know the organs which Satan makes use of."
himself was represented as having at length openly Cent. retracted his religious principles*. „ x^1
Luther instantly comprehended the policy of the papal party. He knew they were highly gratified in being allowed to reckon the king of England the avowed champion of their cause. They represented his majesty's letter as replete with good sense and eruditionf; and they expected that the royal authority would have weight among the German populace.
It behoved, therefore, our watchful guardian of the infant Reformation to prevent if possible, the mischievous consequences of his unsuccessful concessions; and it was with this view that, in the year 15127, he printed, In The German Language, a.d. Luther's Answer To The Abusive Epistle 1527. Of The King Of England.
In this spirited performance, the author bids open defiance, in future, to all the enemies of the pure Gospel of Christ; and expresses sorrow that he had ever been induced, in this religious contest, to try the effect of condescensions, civilities, and submissions. " His adversaries were of such a kind, that they misconstrued or perverted every thing he did. When he wrote with vehemence and severity, they called him arrogant and contentious: on the contrary, when he was gentle and submissive, it was instantly said, Luther flatters, or he retracts and owns his errors."—A radical dislike of the true doctrine, he said, was the bottom of all this misrepresentation.
" The arguments of his friends," he observed, " had certainly led him to hope, that, by a mild, humble, obsequious conduct, he might be the instrument of turning the hearts of several considerable personages; for example, Henry VIII.,
• His old adversary, Jerome Emser, was the translator. See Coch. 144. b. and Luth. Respons. ad Maled. II. 493. b. t Coch. 127.
George of Saxony, and Erasmus; but he had been utterly disappointed in all these instances. In like manner, because he had displayed a spirit of obedience before Cardinal Cajetan, that dignitary immediately concluded he was going to recant.— And it was precisely so at Worms, that the more anxiety he showed, and more pains he took, to conquer prejudice by humility and tameness, the more did the haughty spirits of his adversaries swell with pride and passion, and lift up their crests against him."
Luther then proceeds to ask Ironically, whether, even now, it might not be proper for him to adopt the same lenient and pacific measures, and to dress up a sort of recantation, for the inspection of the archbishop of Mentz, the dukes of Bavaria, and Ferdinand? He trusted he might be received in their palaces, and treated with the most exquisite dainties.—" And what harm," he asks, " supposing his petition to be rejected ?—No harm whatever," replies Luther, with great gravity, and laying aside all irony;—" for what has such a poor beggar as Luther to do in royal palaces ? whom does he look for there? Does he now learn, for the first time, that Satan reigns in such places ? Oh! foolish Luther, to seek Christ where Satan fixes his throne! What! has Christ any communion with Satan ? Go, Luther, and try to find John the Baptist in splendid apartments, and among great men, clothed in purple and soft garments!!"
He insisted, he had a public character to sustain; and, on that account, he would not bear in silence to be represented as though he had retracted his doctrines : It was not true. In his most submissive letters, both to Henry VIII., and to George of ^Saxony, he said he had expressly guarded against any such injurious construction.
He was determined therefore, in future, to regulate his conduct by the following principles; namely, 1. In all matters where the ministry of the word of Cent. God was not concerned, he would not only submit > XV1' to his superiors, but was ready to beg pardon even of children. As a private man, he merited nothing but eternal destruction at the Divine tribunal. But, in regard to the ministry, for which he considered himself as having a commission from Heaven, there was so much dignity in it, that no man, especially a tyrant, should ever find him give way, submit, or flatter. Lastly, he besought his heavenly Father to enable him to keep his resolution. His profession was to teach the word of God; and as no man ought to impose silence in that respect, so there was a necessity that the word should continually be sounded in men's ears. It was useful, for support, for consolation, for rebuke, and for the pulling down of strong holds. " In spite of kings and princes," said Luther, " in spite of the whole world, and of Satan himself, I will never, with God's help, desert my station*."
In the latter part of this treatise, Luther laments most grievously on account of the unhappy schisms which had taken place among the Reformers, concerning the nature of the Eucharist. Some who took part against him in that controversy, he says, had been his friends, colleagues, and brethren, whom he had cherished as if they had been the children of his bosom; these he now considered as secret and domestic adversaries, and he treats them with inexcusable acrimony: but we need not here repeat what has been before observed respecting Luther's obstinacy and want of candour f. It may perhaps be thought worthy of remark, that throughout this small work, not a syllable escapes from its author, though then much displeased with the conduct both of his friends and his enemies, which indicates the Reformer to have been dispirited or fatigued, much less broken down or worn out by dangers and. * Luth. Respons. II. 493. b.—497. • t Page 200.
troubles. Towards the conclusion, he Declares, that, for his part, he did not depend on human means. Christ was his shield, and the rock of his defence, in storms and tempests of every sort. It was much the same thing to him, who, deserted, or who stood firm to the cause. " Therefore, if any one disliked the business in which he was embarked, let him," said he, " tack about * and run away. Whatever happened, he should constantly endeavour to make the best of the existing circumstances. —Who," he asked, " supported him in the beginning of this struggle, when he stood alone ? And now he desired no one to take part with him unless he did so voluntarily. It was a great mistake to suppose that he had recanted; he never had recanted, nor ever would. On the contrary, he was, by Divine grace, wonderfully confirmed in the faith, and that daily, more and more; so far was he from recanting one tittle of his doctrine;—whereas, in the writings of all his adversaries, open and secret, he saw manifest symptoms of languor and want of nerves. But, whatever might take place, his joy would constantly be proportionate to those exertions, which, on reflection, he could conscientiously affirm he had made for the welfare of the Church: and, without the imputation of arrogance, he might boldly assert, that, through his instrumentality, the Sacred Scriptures were now so effectually cleared of rubbish, and so well explained and illustrated, that at no period within the last thousand years had they been more generally known, or better understood."
Luther concludes his little treatise with giving thanks to God for the extraordinary prosperity of the church to which he belonged, and for the failure of the disgraceful attempts of its enemies. He owned there were some who had forsaken the simplicity of the truth; but that, he said, was no new * " Vela vertat."
thing in the history of religion. The Jews revolted Cent. from Jesus Christ; and so did Galatia and Asia . X^L . from St. Paul. It ought rather to be matter of surprise, that when the world was destroyed by the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah by fire, there should nevertheless have been found eight persons -who survived the former ruin, and three righteous characters who escaped from the latter. " Let those," continued he, "who please, revolt from us: it is not in our power to prevent instances of desertion. But it is our duty, after that men refuse to listen to admonition, to express publicly our disapprobation of their conduct.
" May the eternal God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ protect us, and keep us firm in the profession of his Gospel. Amen."
Continuation Of Chap. Xiii.
1. Progress Of The Reformation Under
John The Elector Of Saxonv.
2. New Regulations At Wittembekg, Both
In The Church And In The Uersity,
Through The Advice Of Luther.
3. The Landgrave Of Hesse, As Well As
John Frederic, Son Of The Elector,
Favours The Reformation.
4. The Establishment Of Evangelical Re
Ligion In Several Places.
6. Sermons, Letters, And Other Writings
7. Writings Of Luther, Zuingle, And Other
Eminent Reformers, On The Nature Of
i. Progress Of The Reformation In
Chap. John, the new elector of Saxony, conducted the continued, religious concerns of his dominions in a manner '—*—' quite different from that of his brother and predecessor, Frederic. The latter coned at and tolerated, rather than avowed and established the alterations introduced by Luther and his associates. But the former no sooner found himself in possession of the sovereign authority, than he exercised it with resolution and activity, by forming new ecclesiastical constitutions, modelled on the principles of the great Reformer.
The natural dispositions of these two princes, as well as the circumstances in which they were respectively placed, led to this difference of political procedure. The extraordinary prudence and moderation by which Frederic had justly merited the surname of the Wise, constantly induced him to temporize with the Pope and his Cardinals, and to hope for the restoration of peace and union among the dissentient parties. Educated, moreover, under the bondage of papal mystery and papal domination, of his own judgment he scarcely dared to stir a single step from the beaten path of implicit submission. Yet, on the other hand, the pious and tender conscience of this prince prevented him from resisting many of the bold innovations of Luther, though manifestly levelled against the Romish corruptions and superstitions. Add to this, he had a great reverence for the Holy Scriptures, and also a high opinion both of the knowledge and the integrity of the Reformer in interpreting them; and hence, in various instances, he not only did not oppose, but encouraged, though with secrecy and reserve, his religious plans and propositions.
Still, another circumstance of importance has not Cent. yet been mentioned. When Luther first ventured . xv^' to withstand the pretensions of the Roman hierarchy, the points in dispute were little understood; the contest was full of danger; and it required more than even the foresight of Frederic the Wise to be able to predict the issue; whereas the battle was half won when John first assumed the reins of government. The minds of men, by study and reflection, and by numerous publications both of the controversial and of the sober didactic kind, were become much enlightened in matters of religion. The spirit of reformation was spreading in all directions; and though it might have been difficult for a prince like Frederic, who for a long time had, in general, been in the habit of sanctioning and enforcing the ordinances of the Romish church, to declare open hostilities against the pope's supremacy, his brother John, now become Elector, could feel little embarrassment of this sort. Sound policy, as well as reason and justice, would dictate to the new sovereign the wisdom of making a stand, from the very commencement of his government, against the illegal and exorbitant pretensions of the Roman See. —Happily, this excellent prince was well qualified by nature for the part which he had to act at this critical juncture. For though the Elector John is no where celebrated for his profound skill in the science of politics, yet his moral endowments and steady temper have procured him with posterity the illustrious titles of the Good and the Constant. Accordingly, a character of this stamp could not fail to be convinced, that to temporize much longer with a corrupt and unprincipled hierarchy might prove fatal to the good cause. An appeal had been made to the tribunal of reason; and reason had decided already in a manner which had astonished all Europe. This astonishment was, therefore, to be roused to action, and converted into a bold
Vol. v. B B
Chap, resistance, at a moment when submissive and palli. XILI" , ating methods must inevitably have afforded great advantage to the enemy. It is true, the battle was half won; but then it was not more than half won: for, in fact, there still remained, in opposition to Christian truth and liberty, an alarming combination of interested princes and prelates, who were supported by multitudes of their bigoted subjects and adherents, and who meditated no less than the entire annihilation of the infant Reformation.
How justly may we admire and adore the goodness and wisdom of Providence, in raising up means so suitable for carrying forward and completing its sacred purposes ! The zeal and constancy of John, the new elector of Saxony, was as loudly called for at the present crisis, as ever the extraordinary prudence and caution of his brother Frederic had been found absolutely necessary only a few years before, for the personal safety of Luther, and the success of his early endeavours to reform a corrupt ecclesiastical establishment.
We ought not to omit to mention, that John the Constant had a most excellent coadjutor in his own son, John Frederic, who with the two names of his father John, and of his uncle Frederic, seems to have possessed the united virtues of both*.
Neither should it be forgotten, that even Frederic himself, the deceased Elector, had determined, a little before he died, to afford a more open and substantial support to the Evangelical preachers in his dominions f: and this circumstance, no doubt, was an additional motive to his brother and his nephew to enter on the work of reformation with vigour and dispatch.
* This prince was only about twenty-two years of age, and had then given many proofs of a truly pious disposition. Among other things he had seen and urged the expediency, and even the necessity, of a general visitation of the Church. Com. Luth. CLXXVII.
t Page 246.
2. New Regulations At Wittemberg, xvr." Both In The Church And In The v~~v ' Uersity, Through Thb Advice Of Luther.
THE Uersity and the Collegiate Church of Wittemberg soon experienced a salutary renovation; a new order of public worship was provided; other churches began to be modelled after the plan of Wittemberg; and a general visitation was promised of all the churches throughout the electorate of Saxony *. John, and his son, John Frederic, showed the utmost readiness to adopt the counsels of Luther ; but that zealous Reformer did not always wait for their sanction, well aware of the difficulties and delays which his plans might often meet with at court, from the privy-counsellors of the prince. However, he did not neglect to transmit to the prince, in a respectful manner, the formularies of the new ecclesiastical rites and ceremonies which, with the advice of Melancthon and Pomeranus, he had drawn up, and which the reformers had actually begun to use at Wittemberg. The sacrament was there admi- First Adnistered to the laity, for the first time, in the German ^he'sTM instead of the Latin language, on Sunday the 29th eminent to of Oct. 1525 f. The regulation of the public service \££ of the church, and the appointment of well-qualified Language pastors, was a matter near the heart of the Reformer, "e^ocTM" I am entirely taken up," says he, in a letter to a °er, worthy clergyman, " with confuting Erasmus; but A- DI well know how much the parishes stand in need '525of reform. This is a heavy stone, which I am endeavouring to roll; and I will solicit the prince to lend his assistance. I am convinced that all we do is to no purpose, if regular officiating pastors are not appointed. To this day our own parish is not settled. What must become of the rest? I am * Comment, de Luth. VII. p. 24* f Id. p. 23.
Chap, overwhelmed with their complaints daily. Satan X111- , also is at work. I beg you to visit all the parishes you can. The prince is far from being displeased with our exertions; and I have a great desire to finish this business by one effective effort*."
The Elector was so far from disapproving the new regulations of Luther, that he sent two of his counsellors to confirm them publicly, and to carry the same system to a still greater extent. The Reformer himself, however, appears to have been the leading counsellor at this important crisis. He stated, in writing, at full length, the situation of the Uersity; how sadly it was on the decay, considered as a seminary of learning and piety: and he entreated the prince to send commissioners to fix the salaries of the professors and lecturers. He explained to him what steps he himself had actually ventured to take, both in regard to the academical lectures and the divine services. He observed, that though he might have been, perhaps, too trouble some in this business, or even shown too much distrust of the Elector's paternal care, yet he had this excuse to plead, namely, that the fruit of his conduct, however faulty or indefensible it might have been, had proved no less than the means of preserving the Uersity from instant dissolution.
Luther with great seriousness admonished the Elector to make some provision for the poor labouring clergy; and also to amend the proceedings of the ecclesiastical courts. The Elector took all this in excellent part; but appears to have been cont\on oMJw siderably startled at the idea of augmenting the salaSaiarien of ries of the clergy out of his own treasury. " That," u>. Clergy. he gaid> « would ^ a matter of g,.^ difficulty;"
and he asked Luther what he had to propose on the subject. The answer was simply this: " In the general visitation of the whole country, let there be taken an accurate account of all the ancient reve* To Hausman, II. 300. b. To Langus, II. 301. b.
nues; and if these be found insufficient for the pur- Cent.
pose, then let the suitable payments to the officiat- > XV1
ing clergy be made from new imposts on the respective towns and parishes, which they may well bear, being now relieved from many popish oppressions." Likewise, to a similar inquiry concerning the augmentation of the academical salaries, Luther replied, " There is an abundance of means for this purpose from the many vacant offices; for the number of the clergy in the collegiate church of All Saints is now reduced from eighty to eighteen. All the rest are either dead, or have left their situations."
The most experienced financier could scarcely have returned a better answer to the question.
The due application of the surplus funds of this rich church of Wittemberg had been, for some time past, an object of considerable attention and difficulty*. The elector Frederic, supported by the older members of the chapter, for a long time had resisted the abolition of private masses; and during the altercations on this point in 1523, he had even threatened the sturdy reformers with the sequestration of the ecclesiastical salaries, unless they continued to observe strictly their ancient institutions. Luther, however, in a matter of great importance, was not to be discouraged by disappointment or opposition, lie pressed the late Elector afresh on the same subject, with spirit and address; and as there were then three new canons, whose consciences would not permit them to comply with the papal usages, he entreated the prince to allow their stipends to be employed for the advantage of the professors and students of the Uersity. The answer of Frederic was now in all respects gracious and favourable, and afforded a good hope that Luther's ideas would be adopted. In fact, by conance rather than by express directions, that prince had permitted * Pages 78 and 79. Also Seck. 276.
Chap, the redundant ecclesiastical wealth to be graduxin', , ally diverted into the channels above mentioned. This redundant wealth was become very considerable, from the abolition of private masses, and many other protestant innovations. But it is allowed by historians, that not one halfpenny of it was ever applied by Frederic to his own specific emolument*.
Such disinterested conduct has rendered his memory truly illustrious; and is a complete refutation of the rash aspersions of those who, either through ignorance or malice, would insinuate that this excellent prince favoured the Reformation from motives of avarice, and secret intentions of plundering the opulent ecclesiastics. However, the Elector John, with a more enlightened conscience, and a more magnanimous spirit, not only confirmed what had been barely permitted by his predecessor during the last years of his life, but also gave the revenues of the deserted monasteries f for the purpose of maintaining the parochial clergy and the public instructors, both in the churches and the schools J. He suffered nothing to come into competition with the Reformation, as an object of his concern: and as he was undoubtedly the first prince in Germany who openly both resisted the popish doctrines and discipline, and established the new system of the Wittemberg theologian, he has been justly denominated the Second Parent and founder of the Lutheran church §.
* Seek. 276.
t During the tumults and the wars with the Peasants, many of the monasteries were plundered or deserted, in addition to those which by degrees had'been evacuated before. Seek. 24.
I Comment, Luth. II. XXX VI. Beausobre, III. 201.
$ Mosheim. Gnodalius de Bell. Rust.
3. The Landgrave Of Hesse, As Well As XV1John Frederic, Son Of The Elector, Favours The Reformation.
THE laudable efforts of the Elector and his Son were much encouraged by the friendly dispositions of their neighbour, Philip, the landgrave of Hesse. These dispositions had appeared at a conference which they had had with the landgrave at Creutzberg, only a few weeks before the death of Frederic; when he had declared, that rather than be a deserter from the word of God, he would lose his wealth, his dominions, and even his life. Luther, whose active and comprehensive eye was in every corner, writes thus to Spalatinus on this occasion : " I rejoice that the prince of Hesse has had a conversation with our princes. I hope it will be to the advantage of the Gospel*."
But the duke George of Saxony was a lamentable obstacle to any religious association which did not
* There is something so curious in the whole letter, that I will venture to give the Reader the substance of it. It should seem that certain mock suns, as they are termed by astronomers, had been observed in the heavens; and Spalatinus had sent Lutber a drawing of the appearances, with the judgment of Melancthon upon them. This excellent Reformer is known to have been addicted to astrology. Luther begins:
" Grace and peace. I return you the drawings of the solar appearances. They are divine prodigies, my Spalatinus; but it is not my province to comprehend their meaning. I do not pretend to foretel the events signified by such things. That red bloody sun which appeared in the west, seems to denote the king of France; and the bright sun in the middle, the Emperor. This is Melancthon's opinion: at the same time, they indicate the Day of Judgment. I rejoice that the prince of Hesse has had a conversation with our princes. I hope it will be to the advantage of the Gospel. I have here a new species of fanatics from Antwerp, who assert that the Holy Spirit is nothing more that men's natural reason and understanding. How does Satan rage every where against the Word! And this I reckon by no means the slightest mark of the approaching end ; namely, that Satan perceives the day is at hand, and pours forth his final fury. Martin Luther." Ep. II. 278.,pagebreak/>
profess, as the basis of union, implicit obedience to the Roman See: and the opposition of this veteran papist was at any time to be dreaded, not merely on account of his wealth and the number of his subjects, but also the situation of his provinces, which lay enclosed in the electorate of Saxony. Philip of Hesse was his son-in-law, and was sanguine enough to entertain the hope of gaining the duke George to the cause of the Gospel,, by writing to him a brief exhortation, full of piety and affection. George sternly replied, " That he should commit the cause to God; for that after a hundred years it would appear who was right and who was wrong."—The honest landgrave, like most young converts, had not yet been taught, by experience, how exceedingly perverse and obdurate men usually become by being long hackneyed in the ways of Pharisaical religion; but this rough answer of the father-in-law was an instructive lesson, no doubt, to his son-in-law Philip. The same answer produced reflections in the truly Christian mind of the young prince John Frederic, which deserve to be remembered. " I am shocked," said he, " at the sentiments contained in the letter of George, especially at his saying, the truth will appear after a hundred years. What sort of faith is that which requires an experiment to support it? Assuredly, there is nothing of the nature of faith, where a man will not believe till he is convinced by experience. St. Paul says,' Faith comes by hearing;' not by experience. I am grieved at the poor prince's situation; for if he will not believe what is true and right till after trial has been made, and, also, if during the trial he is determined to refuse obedience to the word of God, he may defer the important business too long, that is, till there be no room for repentance. I would have every method used to cure him of his attachment to Popery, if, by the grace of God, there be a possibility of doing it. But I greatly fear all will be to no purpose; and that God will harden him, like Pharaoh, so that he will neither Cent.
receive his Word, nor regard his signal provi- > „ ,
4. The Establishment Of Evangelical Religion In Several Places.
THE unhappy duke George must have suffered considerable mortification on account of the increasing propagation of Evangelical truth during the year 1525. The magistrates of several of the imperial cities adopted the Reformation in formf. At Nuremberg there was a public conference, in full senate, and in presence of many of the inhabitants, between Osiander at the head of several of the Evangelical teachers on the one part, and five leading preachers of the Papal party on the other; the issue of which was, that there should be no more sermons or ceremonies at the monasteries, and that the monks should no longer be exempted from the usual burdens of the rest of the inhabitants \. Hagenau in Alsace received the Divine word from Wolffgang Capito, who was a native of Hagenau, and had been called thither from Strasburg to strengthen the cause of the Protestant party. Capito administered the Sacrament on Palm Sunday, according to the Scripture method: and on Easter Sunday, without using salt, oil, or any papistical ceremony, he baptized, before a great multitude, who had flocked together to see the novelty, a child of a principal inhabitant called Wendelinus, by the name of Josiah ; the father intimating thereby, that the book of the law was found in the reign of Josiah, and in consequence the true worship of God restored, so the Holy Bible, which had been in a manner lost during the Papacy, was, through the goodness of God, found again on the birth of his little Josiah,
* Seek. II. 35. -f- Beausobre.
J Scult. 301.
and the Scriptural doctrine of Salvation restored to Germany *. At Northusa, in Thuringia, the inhabitants met together, read over Luther's early writings on the Reformation, conferred on the several points, acknowledged the errors of Popery, and determined to establish a purer church. The magistrates seconded the wishes of the people, and appointed the prior of the Augustine monastery to preach the Gospel in St. Peter's church "f.
Several counties also of the empire were evangelized about the same time; for example, those of Hanau, Altenburg, and Tecklenburg. In the Marchionate of Lusatia, the two elegant and rich cities of Gorlitz and Lauban experienced a similar improvement. The clergy of the neighbouring villages assembled in the city of Gorlitz, and there publicly renounced the authority and jurisdiction of their popish diocesan, and at the same time abolished many of the Romish customs and vanities. At Dantzic, one of the most celebrated marts of the North, the progress of the Gospel was astonishing. " You may learn," says Luther, " from one of the clergy of Dantzic, who is come here on the express errand of requesting the prince to permit Pomeranus to go among them, how wonderfully Christ is at work in that place. We cannot well spare him ; yet in so important an Evangelical concern, we ought, I think, to give way. Who knows what God may do through His instrumentality? Let us neither obstruct so extraordinary a call, nor pretend to be ignorant of its meaning. If I were called in this manner J, I should not dare to refuse : I would go instantly ! "
I am persuaded no Christian reader will be fatigued with perusing such extracts as these, or think them ill placed in a history of the Church of Christ They introduce us into the very secret corners of the hearts of the Saxon divines, and prove beyond
* Scult. 094. t Id- 293.
J Id. 288, and Com. Luth. II. IB.
contradiction, -what was the real spirit of the Reformation at this blessed season. Infidel or sceptical v historians can easily invent motives and causes which discredit religion : it is more gratifying to the hostile tempers of such men, and also gives them abundantly less trouble, to indulge their imaginations in forming perverse and groundless conjectures, than to exercise a cool and dispassionate judgment in a laborious search after truth : there is, however, a pleasure in attaining a satisfactory conviction upon a great and interesting subject, which is the inestimable reward of an honest and patient search after truth, and which is utterly unknown to the rejudiced writers of the stamp here alluded to, owever brilliant may be their talents, however elegant their compositions.
In this brief reyiew of the increase of Evangelical light, we must not omit to mention what happened at Francfort on the Main. The inhabitants, through the instructions of two laborious Evangelical preachers, had acquired such an insight into the corruptions and abuses of the papal system, that they assembled in a tumultuous manner a little before Easter, and insisted on the abolition of the popish mass and other ceremonies. The senate interfered, and informed the ecclesiastics of the papal party, that if they expected the support and defence of the magistrates, they must confute, by the word of God, those tenets of the Evangelical teachers which maintained that the Mass Was Not A Sacrifice. Finding this impossible, the papistical preachers quitted three of the principal churches, which were immediately occupied by the Reformers.
The successful labours at Breslaw of that eminent divine, Doctor Hesse, and of his assistant Moiban, have already been mentioned *. The good cause continued to prosper: most of the towns * Page 145.
Chap, and cities of Silesia followed the example of their X1U- , capital; and their excellent bishops, James of "~ Saltza, and Balthazar of Promnitz, are recorded with veneration in the annals of the revival of pure religion, on account of their extraordinary zeal, piety, and prudence *.
THIS glorious progress of the truth, and fall of Antichrist, did not take place without the shedding of some blood of the martyrs.
James Pavan of Bologne having been seized in the preceding year, on account of his profession of pure Christianity, had recanted through fear of death. Tmb'Jn* ^n course °*" ^e present year of 1525, he beaiire at came bold again in the cause of the Gospel; he PaTM. preached openly on the nature of the Sacrament;
and, agreeably to his own express wish, was burnt alive at Paris. He surrendered his life, in the moment of trial, with the utmost cheerfulness.
A German, named WolfFgangus Schuch, had been appointed pastor of one of the towns of Lorraine, and during his faithful ministry had abolished the mass and the worship of images and idols. His congregation were accused of disloyalty to the duke of Lorraine. The duke threatened to destroy the town with fire and sword. W. Schuch judged it his duty to step forward voluntarily, and defend his townsmen, though at the peril of his life. He composed a confession of his faith; and was on Woiffgan- the eve of publishing it when he was suddenly cast lurnt in"* in^° a filthy dungeon, and condemned to the flames. Lorraine. On hearing his sentence, he broke out into the 122d Psalm: and when in the fire itself he sung the 51" Psalm.
We are told by Abraham Scultetus, one of the most candid and credible historians that ever wrote, * Scult. 303.
that the ecclesiastical judge of Schuch, and also his Cent. assessor, who was an abbot, both died of sudden XVL , deaths a very little time after: and the duke of Lorraine took pains to convince his courtiers, that nothing more was necessary for salvation than to know Paternoster and Ave Maria *.
At Mechlin in Brabant, one Bernard, a Carmelite Bernard, friar, is mentioned by Luther as having been burnt ^"'JJ^f on account of his open profession of the Gospel f. at Mechlin And at the Hague in Holland, a clergyman, named John de Backer, scarcely 27 years old, after many long and vexatious examinations, by the papistical inquisitors, merited the crown of martyrdom. The steady good sense and piety which appeared in this man during his imprisonment, and his uncommon faith and patience in the midst of the flames, will call for some further notice in the Appendix.
6. Sermons, Letters, And Other Writings Of Luther.
Amidst the new ecclesiastical establishment and regulations, which Luther, under the auspices of the Elector and his son, was rapidly introducing into Saxony, he still found time for preaching the word of God, and for various useful publications. In reflecting on This Part of the labours of the Saxon Reformer, it may in some measure lessen our surprise, if we advert to two things, both of which are beyond dispute: First, his unparalleled industry; time with him was always a precious thing: Secondly, his vast fund of religious knowledge, the result of long and patient study of the Holy Scriptures. But, in regard to the other part, namely, how Martin Luther, who had spent so large a portion of his life in a monastery, and even now was far from being advanced in years, attained such consummate
* Scult. 317. + Ep. II. 293.
J Appendix, John de Backer. Brandt. I, 52.
Chap, prudence and discretion for the conduct of practical X1IL , concerns in worldly affairs, may be a matter both of curious inquiry and just admiration. Certainly, it is easier to account for his numerous sermons, commentaries, and theological tracts, than for his wise institutions, both in the Church and the Uersity, where he had new offices and ranks and orders to arrange, new laws and discipline to digest; where the ecclesiastical and academical revenues were in the utmost confusion, redundant on some accounts, defective on others ; and, lasdy, where the distribution of the same required fresh inspections and reviews, as well as the most judicious and impartial adjustments. Pious minds, however, who believe that the hearts of men are prepared and directed by a Divine superintending agency, especially on great occasions, will have no great difficulty here. And in regard to those who are disposed to explain the course of human events by what are called natural causes, they should, in the first place, recollect distinctly what were the specific endowments of Luther, allowed by all who are well acquainted with his history; namely, a conscientious integrity, incapable of being warped by selfish and interested considerations ; a clear and comprehensive understanding, furnishing an almost instinctive view of the measures to be adopted in the most critical circumstances; a spirited and courageous temper, constantly impelling him to decision and dispatch. Then, in the second place, they may be put in mind, that whatever pains they would take to exclude Almighty God from the government of his own creation, they cannot deny that at the very period when the revealed religion was most deplorably corrupted and defiled by human devices, and when there was the greatest need of a champion to contend with Antichrist, there was actually raised up in Saxony a personage qualified in this uncommon degree to fight manfully under the banners of Christ, and to restore his Church to its Cent. genuine beauty and simplicity. XJ1
Modern philosophers, as they are called, are apt to disregard the statement of such premises as these, merely, it should seem, because they do not relish the inferences to which they lead unavoidably.
Some account of Luther's familiar exposition of the book of Deuteronomy has already been given in a letter which he wrote to the bishop of Samland *. The brief additions to that account, which I may now be allowed to make, will by no means do justice to so excellent a performance; but they will tend to illustrate the rare talents of the author, and his happy turn for interpreting Scripture. The following are, in substance, some of his very wholesome practical directions.
" Let the Christian reader's first object always be to find out the literal meaning of the word of God ; for this, and this alone, is the whole foundation of faith, and of Christian theology. It is the very substance of Christianity ; the only thing which stands its ground in distress and temptation : it is what overcomes the gates of hell, together with sin and death, and triumphs, to the praise and glory of God. Allegories are often of a doubtful nature, depending on human conjecture and opinion ; for which reason Jerome and Origen, and other fathers of the same stamp, nay, I may add, all the old Alexandrian school, should be read with the greatest caution. An excessive esteem for these has gradually introduced a most mischievous taste among later writers; who have gone such lengths, as to support the most extravagant absurdities by Scriptural expressions. Jerome complains of this practice in his own time, and yet he himself is guilty of it. In our days there are some commentators, who, wherever they find in Scripture a word of the feminine gender, understand it to mean the * Page 179.
Chap. Virgin Mary; and hence, almost all the revealed xin- , word is made to treat of the Blessed Virgin. Wherefore we ought always to observe St. Paul's rule; not to build upon wood, hay, and stubble, but upon gold, silver, and precious stones ; that is, an allegory should never be made the foundation of any doctrine, but be introduced as a secondary thing, to confirm, to adorn, to enrich a Christian article of faith. Never produce an allegory to support your sentiment; on the contrary, take care that your allegory rest on some just sentiment as a foundation, which by its aptness and similitude, it is calculated to illustrate."
The author's observations on the use of pictures and images are extremely judicious.
He tells us he was not very fond of them, and would rather that no such thing was placed in churches. Not that his sole reason against them was the fear of their being worshipped as idols; for he thinks that did but seldom happen : he had another objection, namely, the confidence which men were disposed to place in them as meritorious works, especially if they were beautiful and costly: men were apt to fancy that they had pleased God in some way by spending money in his service; whereas, in fact, the whole of what is so expended might be employed to much better purpose in relieving the wants of their brethren.
In his annotations on the 15th chapter of Deuteronomy, ver. 4, he makes some very acute and sarcastic reflections on the pretended poverty of the papistical mendicant orders. That whole system, he shows, was contrary to the religion of the Bible; which no where inculcates poverty and want as a profession, but rather exhorts men to remove those evils by bounty and benevolence. The Papists boasted of their poverty and other sufferings, but they themselves were sleek and well fed. They said they had no homes of their own; yet they lived in palaces more superb than those of monarchs. They talked of hunger, but they devoured the provisions of every body: they talked of thirst, but their cellars were full: they boasted of sacrificing their lives, but they were never in the smallest danger, and spent their days in habits of pleasure. It was very true that there always would be poor persons among us, and so our Lord had observed; nevertheless, men were not to be exhorted to practise a voluntary poverty. Accordingly, we find in the Acts of the Apostles, there was not one person in want among the primitive Christians. We may hence learn the nature of -those monastic vows in the papal scheme, which have poverty for their object.
Luther, with great justice, blames those divines, or lawyers, who torture and twist the word of God, by endeavouring to make it bear upon particular questions before them. " You may take notice of this," says he, " in the most eminent theologians, in Augustine, and Bernard, and even in the more ancient fathers, Cyprian and Tertullian, who, in their Public Discourses, handle the Scriptures perfectly aright, but are very apt to pervert it in their Controversial Writings. Consult the writers against Arius, consult Jerome against Jovian, Augustine against the Manichees, Bernard against Free Will, and you will be convinced of the truth of my assertion !"
On Deuteronomy xviii. ver. 18 to 20, where God promises to raise up a prophet like unto Moses, and declares, that " whoever will not hearken unto the words which that prophet shall speak in God's name, He will require it of him," Luther makes excellent reflections, extremely applicable to his own times. For example: " The furious popes and princes of the present day attempt by violence to bring heretics to the faith ; and they burn, or otherwise put to death, the
VOL. v. C c
obstinate. What is this, but arrogating to themselves the authority of God, and attempting to make men do by force, what neither they themselves nor any man can do ? By this conduct they show they know nothing of the nature of Christ and his doctrine, nor of Moses's prediction in this place."
Throughout this performance of Luther, there is a richness of matter, expressed with a native vigorous eloquence, which will infallibly lay hold of the minds of such as read for practical improvement in their spiritual affections, rather than to find critical speculations for the mere entertainment of their understandings. The author is very full and very severe in his observations on the practices of fanatics and enthusiasts. His mind was sore at that time, and there was great reason for it, on account of the mischievous proceedings of Munzer and the rustic malcontents in the year 1525. No man was ever a more steady and consistent enemy to mysticism than Luther. His concluding admonitions on that subject well deserve our notice, as they contain the substance of God's ordinary method of leading souls to the kingdom of heaven. " Let us," says he, " never desert the pure doctrine of the Gospel. We are persuaded that the substance of our religion consists in faith, which is the gift of the Spirit, and comes by hearing the word of God. A previous and perfect mortification of sin is not required for this purpose ; though there must be a previous conviction of sin and of its malignity, to humble and prepare us for the faith of Christ Then follows the Gospel, which gives life and strength ; and through that life and strength we must contend against the evil principle which remains in the flesh, and must aim at no less than the bbtainihg of a perfect victory over it. But we are to use the greatest possible care, never to attribute our justification before God to any sort of works whatever, but to faith alone in the heart, by which
man believeth unto righteousness*. Moreover, it becomes those Christians who are already justified, not to condemn their weaker brethren; lor it is the glory of Christianity that we are directed to bear one another's burdens In the next place, we must remember not to permit our faith to become drowsy and unfruitful; which it certainly will do, if we neglect the mortification of the flesh. But here again we must guard against a twofold error; namely, lest we should suppose,—either that by our own acts of mortification we can certainly procure justification and the gift of the Spirit,—which is the doctrine of those insane prophets the Anabaptists;—or, that if we do not undergo certain processes of mortification, it will be impossible for us to be justified by the gift of the Spirit. Evangelical knowledge in its purity is a rare and delicate thing, even in good and holy men. Often the very best Christians suffer through the malignant influence of the flesh, and the treacherous plausibility of works; for they are hereby led with an impetuosity of spirit to aim at external mortification and the performance of external works, rather than to press for faith and the Holy Spirit by importunate applications at the throne of Grace, in reliance on the written promises. They act as though faith and the Spirit came by works and mortification, whereas the contrary is the Scriptural order of things. This malignant mischievous propensity of the carnal disposition, which leads men to set so high a value on mortification and other performances, must itself be mortified with the utmost diligence ; for it frequently imposes on very able men, and prevents them from seeing the efficacy of the word of God, which, after all, is the power of God unto salvation to every believer."
In these instructive passages, our commentator has evidently his eye on the enthusiastic pretences * Rom. x. t Galat. vi. a. (
Chap, to mortification of Munzer and his followers*. , XIU- , Luther's doctrine is in perfect contrast to that of those wild fanatics; and is as sound and useful as theirs must ever prove false and mischievous. It appears to me, that one of his great excellencies as a divine, is the perspicuous and Just Order in which he constantly places the several doctrines of practical Christianity, and their effects. He is, on all occasions, solicitous to show that the Christian life begins with, depends on, and is perfected through, the written Word. The law of God humbles men, and is the schoolmaster which teaches them that they can do nothing in their own strength f. Justification and peace of conscience are the gift of the Spirit, through faith in the Redeemer, without any works on our part. Hence we rejoice, and cry, Abba, Father. There is an end of servile fear, and of flying away from the presence of an angry God. There is, on the contrary, a filial access into the grace of our heavenly Father. This great internal change soon shows itself in external actions. As the heart believes, the tongue confesses J; and thus the Gospel is preached to others, and the kingdom of Christ is augmented. Then come the cross and tribulation, on account of the word of God; and these explore and strengthen faith, even to the full assurance of hope. The old man is mortified §; and the fruits of the new man, which are the proper proofs of the existence of faith and the Spirit, increase more and more, and show themselves in the love of our neighbour, and in an uersal benignity, and disposition to peace and goodness ||.
Our commentator, in his observations on the 21st and 2 2d verses of this same chapter of Deuteronomy, " How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken ?" &c. &c. resolves an
• Page 205. f Rom. iv. Gal. iii. Annotat. Deut. xviii. X Romans iv. Annotat. Deut. xviii. § Rom. chap. v.
|| Annott Deut. and Galat. chap. v.
apparent contradiction, between the criterion here laid down, and what had been said before, in the thirteenth chapter. In the thirteenth chapter, it is said, " If a prophet or dreamer of dreams giveth a sign or wonder, and the sign even cometh to pass, you shall not hearken unto that prophet, when his object is to make you serve other gods:" whereas, in the eighteenth chapter, and 22d verse, the rule of judging is, " If the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath Not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken presumptuously." Luther's solution is this: When a doctrine has been once confirmed by Divine authority, or by miracles, and is received, we are not to believe an angel from heaven preaching a contrary doctrine; for God permits such things, merely to prove men, whether they love him, or not, with all their heart. But the case is different whenever a new doctrine is proposed for our assent: we ought not to give credit to it, unless it be confirmed by miracles. Having made this very sensible distinction, Luther concludes with telling us, that he had acted on these very principles in his treatment of those insane prophets, who pretended to hold daily converse with God, face to face, like Moses; and who, in general, boasted of having gifts of the Spirit beyond the Apostles themselves. He required them to work miracles, otherwise they were not to be believed. They promised, they would do so. " But," says Luther, " to this day I neither see nor hear of any. Indeed, I told them with some degree of contempt, that My God would take care that Their god should not do signs or miracles*."
The sermons of Luther were very numerous; but it would lengthen this history too much to produce many extracts. In one of them, published about this time, he complains, " that if good morals • Annot. Deut. Luth. Op. III. Witt.
Ch\p. be preached, then men are apt to make a ladder x111, . of them, by which they may climb up to heaven; and, that in that way, through pride and a haughty confidence in their own merits, they sin more grievously than even by immoralities themselves; for that sort of pride is peculiarly odious to God ; whereas he is always ready to receive the greatest sinners, whenever, in true penitence, they implore his forgiveness. On the other hand, if men are not pressed to holiness of life, impieties and dissolute manners are the consequence. The medium must therefore be observed. Good practice must be insisted on, but not trusted to for salvation. Few, (he said,) found the right road : for some led very bad lives; whilst others thought of meriting heaven by saQctimonious works, thus arrogating to themselves, as matter of right, what they ought to receive as the effect of mere mercy. What was this, but to despise the bounty of God, and to set up ourselves in opposition to it * ?"
Faithful and intelligent teachers of the Gospel have always made the same complaint. The fact is, men are the same, in every age and climate, since the transgression of our first parents; and the identity of the common stock from which the human race has descended, is perhaps as clearly evinced by the manifest similarity of the depraved dispositions of the mind, as by the concurrence and agreement of those bodily marks and distinctions which are pointed out by natural historians as essentially constituting particular classes of beings. If the latter has been thought more to this purpose than the former, the advantage arises, 1 think, merely from this circumstance, that objects of the senses affect us sooner, and more uersally, than considerations which are purely intellectual.
Most of the writings of Luther were published on the spur of the occasion, and have no preten* Tom. VIII. Alt. in Append. Seck. 32.
sions, in general, to the character of correct and finished compositions. The author was attentive to things ; and was not only regardless of words, but even accustomed to the use of scholastic barbarisms. It was on this account that Erasmus had conceived him incapable of writing with such a degree of classical purity as appears in his reply to that accomplished scholar; who, in effect, was compelled to change his opinion of Luther's talent for Latipity. On ordinary occasions, the Reformer certainly neglected his style. His mind was absorbed by objects infinitely more momentous. But he appears to have been roused to some attention in this respect, by having to combat Erasmus; and, accordingly, he evinced on that occasion a considerable acquaintance with polite literature.
Having already given an account of the concessions which Luther made by letters, both to Henry VIII. of England, and to the Duke George of Saxony ; and having also commended the selfgovernment of the writer on those occasions, and his truly Christian motives; little more need be said in regard to those publications*. Perhaps the writing at all to such haughty and malevolept adversaries was not in itself a thoroughly judicious measure ; and perhaps it might have been expected from the good sense and experience of Luther, that he should have foreseen the harm, or at least the little benefit which was likely to accrue from it. It is to the excessive ardour of his temper that we are usually to ascribe the practical errors of the Saxon Reformer. So, in this instance, it is as certain that honest zeal for the progress of the Reformation was the motive of Luther, as it is, that pride, rancour, and superstition, dictated the contemptuous answer of Henry. A spirit not dissimilar, the reader will have observed, pervades also the abusive answer of George of Saxony, though he was, in * Pages 357-358.
Chap, general, a much better character than the king of England.
Whoever carefully compares those letters which contain the unsuccessful submissions of Luther, with that animated performance, by which he hoped to repair his error, will be convinced how much more he was in his natural element, when battering fairly and openly the strongest holds of his adversaries, than when tampering with bigoted Roman-catholics, in fruitless negotiations and concessions *.
Luther, a short time before he ventured to administer the Lord's Supper in the German language, had had the precaution to compose and print a very useful little book, containing thirty-eight German hymns, with their appropriate tunes, for the express purpose of conveying and fixing in the memories of the common people, a deal of religious instruction in a very concise and agreeable manner. The subjects were,—parts of the catechism; leading articles of belief; prayers and thanksgivings: in fact, the book was a summary of Christian doctrine, expressed in very neat and elegant German metre; and so well managed, that the harmony and modulation of the voice agreed with the words and sentiments, and tended to raise the correspondent affections in the minds of the singers. On this account the author has been called the true Orpheus of Germany ; and to his praise it is added, that he applied his knowledge of musical numbers and harmonies to the excitation of the most pious and fervid emotions in the soul f
In the preface of this little work he supports the duty of church music, on the authority of David and Paul; at the same time he puts us in mind, that, in singing praises, we should have our eyes on Christ alone. " He had subjoined the suitable
* See page 363, for the account of it.
f Chytrxus in Scultet. 315. Seek. Index, III.
tunes," he says, " to show that the fine arts were by no means abolished through the preaching of the Gospel; but that, in particular, the art of music should be employed to the glory of God; though he knew this sentiment was contrary to the romantic ideas of some teachers, who were disposed to allow nothing but what was purely intellectual."
The letters which our Reformer, in the exercise of his paternal care, wrote to the several pastors and congregations of the infant Evangelical churches, are numerous, and many of them replete with excellent matter. Of one of them, addressed to his Christian brethren at Antwerp, we must take some notice ; first, because it affords a striking instance of Satan's activity, in raising up false teachers, whenever his kingdom is in peculiar danger from remarkable revivals of Christian truth; secondly, because it contains the writer's refutation of the calumny of having represented God as the author of sin; and thirdly, because the good annalist Scultetus speaks of this letter in the highest terms *. The most important parts of it are in substance as follow : " He had been informed," he said, " of the rise of some very dangerous spirits at Antwerp f:" and he believed it to be his duty to give his Christian brethren a little honest advice. He hoped they would take his friendly admonitions in good part; and also, being thus forewarned, would look well to themselves. The object of these false teachers was to confound and perplex, and to draw men from the light into darkness. Some of the articles of their faith were as follow :
1. Every man had the Holy Spirit.
2. The Holy Spirit signified neither more nor less
than men's reason and understanding.
3. That all men were believers.
* Annal. 1525.
t These dangerous spirits have been just mentioned before in a letter of Luther's, at page 375, in the note.
4. That there was no hell nor eternal punish
ment ; and, That the body only was condemned.
5. That every soul would possess eternal life.
6. That natural reason taught us to do to our
neighbour as we would he should do to us; and that to be so disposed was faith.
7. That by concupiscence men did not sin
against the law, unless their wills were consenting.
8. That he who had not the Holy Spirit was
incapable of sin, because he was devoid of reason.
" Now," said Luther," " there is not one of these articles, except the seventh, which merits the smallest attention; and ye will do well to treat both the doctrines, and those who maintain them, with contempt. One of these teachers came to me ; and a more inconsistent, impudent, petulant, lying spirit I never saw or heard to speak. There is one point which he insisted on with the utmost pertinacity; namely, that God did not permit sin, because such permission could not take place without the will of God : for who could compel the Almighty to permit sin ?"
The author then proceeds to this effect: " I have no doubt but the man will falsely accuse me to you, as though I had said that God has absolutely a pleasure in the existence of sin, for its own sake. To which charge I answer, that the representation is injurious and false. What I do maintain is this: That God has forbidden sin by the most express precepts; and that this part of his will is both perfectly clear, and also necessary for us to know. But how it happens that he should permit men to sin, and that they should consent to the perpetration of sinful actions, he has not thought proper that we should know ; otherwise he certainly would have opened these matters to us, had it been his will that we should have been made parta- Cent. kers of his secret counsel. St. Paul himself disap- <— proves of these curious inquiries; 4 Nay but, O man, who art thou, that repliest against God ?"'
In conclusion, he exhorts his brethren not to listen to those contentious and troublesome spirits, who would harass their minds with profound speculations concerning the secret will of God. " Is it not enough that the commands of God have no ambiguity? God detests sin. That is sufficient for us; but how sin comes, and Why he permits it, these are points which we should leave with Him. A servant ought not to inquire after his master's secrets, much less to know them; still abundantly less does it become a poor miserable creature to pry into the mysteries of the Divine Majesty, his Creator. See then that ye hold to what is useful and necessary; and avoid futile, trifling, contentious points, that tend nothing to edification. Once more; Avoid every thing that is above your comprehension, and rest in the plain precepts of God. To learn Christ and his comnlandments aright, even though a man does nothing else, requires a whole life*"
During these incessant labours of this indefati- An attempt gable servant of God, his life was attempted to be LuX*'TM taken away by poison. A Polish Jew, a doctor of Feb. is«5. medicine, came to Wittemberg, having agreed to do this business for two thousand pieces of gold. Luther describes him as a man of wonderful cunning and versatility; and as capable of committing any crime. The doctor and his accomplices were seized, and carried before a magistrate: but they refused to make any confession; and Luther entreated that they might be set at liberty, rather than be examined by Torture, according to the custom of those times. Nevertheless, he expresses his entire * Aurif. Ep. II. 281.
Chap, belief that he was the very man who had been , XI11, , pointed out to him by the letters of certain friends.
He says, " he answers their description in all respects ; and that every circumstance also concurred to identify the person of the Jew, and prove his guilt*."
7. "writings Of Luther, Zuingle, And Other Eminent Reformers, On The Nature Of The Sacrament.
THOSE labours of Luther, which he employed in the Sacramental controversy, can afford but little satisfaction to Christian readers. We are compelled, indeed, in reviewing them, to recognize that zeal and fervour, and conscientiousness, which ever marked the character of this great Reformer; but, alas! all these excellent qualities were in this instance sadly sullied, by a Lamentable obstinacy and perverseness of temper f: Lamentable—not merely as displaying the defects of an eminent Christian; for where shall we find perfection?—not merely as leading this eminent Christian to act inconsistently, and in direct opposition to his general principles of toleration and mutual forbearance in all things not essential;—but lamentable, as very materially affecting the success and progress of the Reformation itself, by disuniting its leaders, and preventing a fraternal communion among them. Progress of For some time past the leaven of contention had menuicon- been deeply at work, and was now exerting its mistroversy. chievous operation with greater strength and with less secrecy. The absurd argumentation of Carolstadt had given Luther a great advantage in the Sacramentarian dispute; but such able and learned divines as Zuingle and Ecolampadius were not to
* Amsdorf, II. 270. b. G. Spal. Id.
t Pages 200 and 226.
be overawed or silenced, either by the talents and knowledge, or by the authority and violence of Luther. As they were in a good cause, and were convinced both of the nonsense and of the nonnecessity of having recourse to such a doctrine as that of Consubstantiation in the interpretation of Scripture, they resolved to oppose it with firmness and perseverance.
Luther, in his treatise against the Celestial Pro.phets*, had endeavoured to expose the novel ideas which had been broached by Carolstadt on the nature of the Eucharist. About the same time, or a little sooner, Zuingle published his sentiments on this subject, in a letter addressed to Matthew Albert, the pastor of Ruetlingen, who, as he had been informed, was then engaged in discussing the question with one of his brethren.
He opens his mind at once, expressing his apprehension, that either many persons most sadly mistake the matter, or else that he himself makes a greater mistake than they all; and further, that unless the just interpretation of Scripture throughout, and unless common sense and piety itself deceive him, divines had all missed their aim for a long time: but that he could not pretend, in the short compass of a letter, to enter into the history of the error now so prevalent. He intimates that Carolstadt had circulated among the people an ill-timed little pamphlet of three pages, intituled, On the Execrable Abuse Of The Eucharist, in which there were many things that pleased, and some that displeased him. There was truth in the pamphlet, but it was delivered in a way rather to offend than to edify: Carolstadt had not rightly explained the matter. Moreover, Zuingle adds, that the same author was reported to have prepared another pamphlet, still much less to the purpose, in which, by his unreasonable scoffs and sneers, he had degraded the sub* Mentioned in page 211.
Chap, ject: the people were already sufficiently alanmed , X1U- , with the novel ideas concerning-the Sacrament, and such a mode of treating it seemed as if calculated on purpose to increase their aversion*.
The epistle to M. Albert appears to have been the first effort of the pen of Zuingle in the Sacramentarian controversy. Large extracts from the writings of the several combatants, who engaged in this contest, cannot be necessary in our times:—This, from Zuingle, it may be observed, furnishes an additional testimony to the truth of the account before given of the ungovernable spirit of Carolstadt.
Luther, in his treatise against the Celestial Prophets, answers Carolstadt's arguments against the real presence. He does not pretend to understand how the bread is bread, and, at the same time, the body of Christ; but insists on the necessity of adhering close to the words of Christ.
Bugenhagius Pomeranus published a letter, both in German and in Latin, against the Novel Error of the Sacramentariansf; m which he contends, that the argument of Zuingle, drawn from the words ' The flesh profiteth nothing,' is a mere Dream of the imagination, when those words are adduced to show that' This is my body,' means, This SigniFies my body. " The evangelists," he says, " never use the word 1 s in that sense; and, moreover, that the expression, ' The flesh profiteth nothing,' is not to be understood as applicable to the flesh of Christ, but to that carnal construction which the disciples of Christ were disposed to put upon the words of their master." Zuingle on this occasion answers smartly; " You say, that in arguing thus I do but Dream. Be it so. I consider even this as a concession in some degree : for those who see nothing
•• Op. Zuing. II. 153. Scult. 234.
t It is addressed to John Hesse, tbe excellent pastor of Breslaw. Hoggin. II. 64.
in my argument must be Completely Asleep*." Cent. —Zuingle's reply to Bugenhagius is dated Oct. ._ X^L 1525
But this excellent and learned Reformer had composed and published, some months before, in the course of the same year, a very elaborate commentary on true and false religion; in which he not only treats on all the great points both of natural and revealed theology, but also on the controverted questions between the Papists and Protestants, and, among others, on the meaning of the Eucharist. He undertook this work, he tells us, at the express desire of several learned and pious characters both of France and Italy; and though he attacks the corruptions, idolatry, and avarice of the Papacy in the plainest and most animated language, he boldly dedicates the treatise to Francis I. of France. It was, he said, a most Christian book; and Francis's tide was that of 4 His most Christian Majesty :' Moreover, the people of France were of old celebrated for their religion : Lastly, there was great intercourse between France and Germany ; and as the Germans had begun to open their eyes to Evangelical light, the author felt it his duty to contribute to the restoration of those salutary beams in the neighbouring country. Men had been long in Egyptian bondage; and, in spite of the pointed admonitions of Christ and his apostles, had been so foolish as to serve more absurd false gods than any which the heathen nations ever served : for what nation, he asks, ever worshipped a poor mortal man just going to expire, as the modern nations had worshipped the Roman pontiff? Or when did kings and emperors Fall Down to adore the only great and good God ? To Kneel had by them been esteemed sufficient. Who ever kissed or embraced the feet of Christ, except particular persons from extraordinary affection? whereas, on the contrary, no one is admitted to * Zuingle ad Pom. Respon.
Chap, speak to the Pope without first kissing the shoe of , xnr- this god. Thus, he adds, as a punishment for our sins, we have been so long blind to this abominable idolatry*.
This performance of Zuingle, including an appendix on the Eucharist, consists of very nearly two hundred folio pages, and is a noble monument of the author's piety, learning, and intellectual powers, as well as a decisive proof of the blessed recovery of Christian truth in Switzerland at that time. It was scarcely possible but that a writer of this stamp should be conscious of his own strength. Accordingly, Zuingle, notwithstanding his moderation and pacific disposition in general, concludes his aforementioned letter to Bugenhagius with an animation and confidence bordering almost on menace or defiance. " Himself and his brethren the Swiss divines," he said, " were not in habits of controversy; neither, as yet, had they mentioned by name any one person of the many who had formed erroneous judgments on the Eucharist and other popish tenets. But," continues he, " if either you or any other be determined at all events to have a contest with me, I certainly deprecate the thing exceedingly; yet if it cannot be avoided, I shall, under the shield of truth, and under the inspection and auspices of Christ, fiofht so as not like one that beateth the air. Moreover, I do exhort you and all others to abstain from that very bad custom of abuse. We ought to investigate the truth by Scripture and by reasons, and not by tribunitial clamours. We shall have plenty of enemies, and plenty of outcries against us, even though we conduct ourselves with the greatest possible moderation. Will the Roman see be silent? Will those princes be silent who are ashamed of the Gospel ? Let us then follow after truth in its utmost purity. I do not think Antichrist can be completely subdued, unless this error of Consubstantiation be * II. De Ver.et Ftls. Rtl. 158.
rooted up ; and, as the truth has broken in upon us, we should not suffer ourselves to be led by human authority.
While Zuingle was thus opposing at Zurich the Lutheran tenet of Consubstantiation, Ecolampadius was employed in the same manner at Basil; and, to say the least, displayed equal learning, piety, and moderation. A full year before, he had preached a sermon on the Lord's Supper, which had made a great impression on the minds of the people, and was become the topic of general conversation. It was at this moment that the modesty and diffidence of Ecolampadius yielded to the intreaties of his friends, who were pressing him to publish his sentiments on the Sacramental Controversy. Accordingly, he edited his celebrated treatise On The
GENUINE MEANING OF OUR Lord's WORDS,
'this is My Body which drew from Erasmus that memorable eulogium on its accuracy and solidity, "—that it might deceive the very elect*:" and this he repeats in his letters even to Bedda and to the bishop of Lingen.
The senate of Basil were so much alarmed on the appearance of Ecolampadius's book, that they directed the sale of it to be suspended, till its contents should have undergone an examination. Erasmus was one of the censors on this occasion; and his report, as it is perfectly in the character of the man, will amuse the reader. " Mighty lords," says he, " at the instance of your Highnesses I have read the publication of John Ecolampadius; and, in my opinion, it is a learned, eloquent, and elaborate performance. I should be disposed to add, it is a pious performance, if any thing could be pious which opposes the Judgment And Consent Of The Church | ."—Ecolampadius traces the Papistical
* See the note in page 310.
T Hospin. II. 57. Uistis. Chron. Bas. in Gerdes. Hist. Evan. Reform. II. 295. Or in Jortin's Appendix, XXXIV. VOL. V. D D
Chap, tenet of the Real Presence to Peter Lombard;
J_j and contends, that every one of the fathers had
held that the words, ' This is my body,' were not to be taken literally. He dedicates his work to his brethren, the Christian divines throughout Suabia.
Of these divines, an assembly of fourteen met together at Hall in Suabia, and concurred in a reply to the sentiments of Ecolampadius. Brentius, however, is believed to have been the chief author of this composition. These good ministers maintained, that as the words of God, spoken on the occasion of the brazen serpent, namely, ' Every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live,' conveyed to the image of brass a healing efficacy, so the words used in the celebration of the Eucharist, 1 This is my body,' caused the body of Christ to be united to the bread*.
Ecolampadius was in no wise intimidated by the joint efforts of the confederate divines. He replied to them immediately ; and asserted, that the arguments which they had produced tended to establish his own opinions. Zuingle animadverted with great severity on the rude manner in which, he said, they had treated that most harmless of men, Ecolampadius. He allowed it was a season when the press teemed with boisterous publications; but he most solemnly affirmed, that he had not seen any one in which there was so little to commend as in this of Brentius. Throughout the whole work there was a force put upon the Sacred Scriptures: there was also in it an unmeasurable haughtiness; and, lastly, the confederacy itself of the authors was novel and indecorous. To these fourteen persons, he said, he could oppose two hundred; for almost the whole world, either openly or privately, differed from them in sentiment. Yet these dictators had ostentatiously
* This book is intitled Syngramma Suevicum, de Verbis Coenae. Dupin. Scult. 250. Hosp. 60.
signed their names to a summary of doctrine on Cent. the Sacrament, which they had scarcely so much as t explained to their own congregations. Their performance contained very little, except this slanderous accusation,—that those who differed from them were deluded by Satan;—a manifest proof of their own diabolical spirit! In regard to Ecolampadius, Zuingle affirmed, he was a model of piety and erudition; and, moreover, that many of those fourteen divines had derived from him what knowledge they had of languages; and that therefore their ungrateful and disrespectful conduct towards their instructor, was unworthy of the Christian character, and merited not only rebuke, but execration. Men might praise such writers as much as they pleased, but they would be beaten on this subject as often as they appeared in print. He could easily, he said, have restrained this effusion of resentment; but to see the heavenly doctrine attacked in such arrogant language, was more than any one ought to bear with patience*.—These observations of Zuingle are far from being conciliatory; nor was it probable that a man of Luther's temper should pass them over in silence.
The Strasburgians, however, were very laudably employed in endeavouring to repair the breach, which was growing wider and wider, between the Lutheran and the Helvetian churches. They even sent over Caselius, their professor of the Hebrew language, to Wittemberg, for the express purpose of promoting union and brotherly love among the contending parties. The answer with which this learned professor was charged by Luther to return to the Protestants at Strasburg, will at once prove both the nature of Caselius's commission to Wittemberg, and also that lamentable state of contention and irritation which at this juncture impeded the progress of the Reformation.
* II. Zuingle and Theob. Bil.
Chap. Luther admitted, that nothing was more to be X*IL , wished than peace and harmony. He had done, he said, every thing in his power to promote that end. The adversaries knew, in their consciences, that they were the first movers of the contest. It did not become him to be silent for ever, while Zuingle and Ecolampadius, by their successive pamphlets, raised such disturbances;—unless indeed he was to give up his ministry and the cure of souls. It was not to be borne that they should continue to talk, cause confusion among his people, and weaken his authority, and that notwithstanding he must give way and hold his peace.
It had been said, he ought to abstain from railing. But how was it possible for him to confute or contradict, without condemning errors? and yet the language which was unavoidable on such an occasion, they called railing. He wished to know whether these extraordinary modest persons were or were not guilty of railing, when they traduced him and his friends in their books, under the denomination of Flesh-eaters, worshippers of a God that could be eaten or turned into bread, deniers of the redemption by the cross. Such was their modesty; and thus were himself and his friends slandered. Hitherto, he had patiently submitted to this treatment ; whereas his opponents could not bear to be told, that they erred in their interpretation of Scripture. He therefore informed them explicitly, that he would endure all this no longer.
He proceeds to say, he did not approve of the advice of the Strasburgians, that good Christians should be directed not to meddle with the question concerning the Real Presence, but should be exercised in the word and in faith. " In the Very Words themselves*," he said, " was implied the presence of the body and blood ; moreover, the attention of the common people had been so much • This is my body.
roused by the dispersion of the numerous pamphlets Cent. of the Sacramentarians, that it could not now be di- > XVvL verted from the subject. They ought to have been silent at first: it was now too late to aim at silence."
In effect, either one party or the other, he said, must be considered as the ministers of Satan. There could be no medium. What agreement between Christ and Belial? He would be glad to have peace, but not at the expense of that peace towards God, which is purchased for us by Jesus Christ.
He therefore earnestly besought his brethren, by Christ Jesus himself, and by every thing in Christ that was dear, to avoid this pernicious error, and to cease from seducing the souls of men, to the very imminent danger of their salvation. Of their commendations of the holiness of Ecolampadius and Zuingle, and their respective churches, all men must rejoice to hear: at the same time, Luther warned them of the lengths to which Zuingle was disposed to go in the article of Original Sin; and he added, that he was so much disturbed by the sentiments contained in their letter, as not very well to comprehend what they meant either by the term Church or Holiness.
In conclusion, he admitted that the Sacramentarians, if they persisted, might do much mischief, but Would Never Conquer. He lamented that Zuingle had taken so much offence at one of his expressions, namely, " that what he wrote Must be true ;" because this captious spirit, he conceived, was a proof that Zuingle harboured against him some secret grudge: and lastly, he asked upon what grounds Their Boasting Of Their Experiences and of the witness of the Spirit was to be allowed, if Luther was to be denied the privilege of asserting in his turn, with equal confidence, what he knew to be true*.
The Papal party beheld these dissensions among • Scult. 252. Luth. Ep. II. 3<>2
Chap, the reformers with infinite satisfaction. " How X*IL , dangerous," said they in triumph, " was it to desert the parent Church! Doubts, difficulties, and contentions, must be the inevitable consequence!" Moreover, as Luther's doctrine of Consubstantiation was much less offensive to them than that of the Sacramentarians, it was natural that they should, in this instance, prefer the Protestants of Saxony to those of Switzerland. We are told indeed that the Papists not only relaxed in their opposition and animosity to the former, but that they even praised them, exceedingly esteemed them, and almost heartily forgave them all the mischief they had done*. Spalatinus himself expressly informs us, that the rulers and inquisitors of Belgium gave a decided preference to the principles of the Saxon Reformer.
Nothing, however, could be further from the mind of Luther than any species of compromise with the Roman hierarchy. Between him and the Papists, there was not merely one, but many gulfs, which were absolutely impassable. The Sacramentarian tenet would have added another;—whereas Luther unhappily made that the foundation of a permanent dissension among the Evangelical brethren.—What blindness ofunderstanding, what obstinacy of temper, what uncharitableness of judgment; yet, in the same man, what integrity of principle, what reverence for the Scriptures, what sensibility of conscience !—In one word, what an assemblage have we here of contradictory motives and qualities, at once contributing to influence and direct the conduct of this extraordinary character!!!
Luther was so much pleased with the little treatise of the fourteen Suabian ministers, that he procured a translation of it into German; and also wrote a preface to it, by which he gave great offence to the Swiss divines. He calls the tenets of the
* Lavater in Scult. 255. Hospin. 63.
t Pages aoo, 201, and 226.
Sacramentarians, novel dreams; and ridicules them Centi for having had recourse, in the space of only one . XVL year, to six different expositions of the concise expression, 'This is my body*.'
In the year 1526, the mind of Luther appears A,d. to have been excessively agitated by the Sacra- 1526. mentarian controversy. " I am challenged," says he, " by Ecolampadius; and I meditate an answer, if I had but leisure. It grieves me to the heart to see so great a man ensnared by frivolous arguments, May God have mercy on him!"
Again: "This Sacramentarian pestilence makes havock, and acquires strength in its progress. Pray for me, I beseech you, for I am cold and torpid. A most unaccountable lassitude, if not Satan himself, possesses me, so that I am able to do very little. Our ingratitude, or perhaps some other sin, is the cause of the Divine displeasure: certainly our notorious contempt of the word of God will account for the present penal delusion, or even a greater. I was but too true a prophet, when I predicted that something of this kind would happen f." To another friend he writes thus : " If I had not known, from experience, that God in his anger did suffer men to be carried away with delusions, I could not have believed that so many and so great men would have been seduced by such trifling and childish reasonings, to support this pestilential, this sacrilegious heresy.:—I ask what argument is there in this; ' Christ is at the right hand of the Father, therefore he is not in the Sacrament.' Again, ' The flesh profiteth nothing, therefore the body of Christ is not in the Sacrament.' Yet these are their best arguments. Surely it is madness to be moved by such levities, in opposition to the simple indisputable word of Christ, ' This is my body
* Hospin. 65.
t To Hausman, 3*9, 320. J To Stifel. Id.
Chap. In a like strain he addresses a faithful minister at . x111, , Augsburg:
" Grace and peace. May Christ preserve you ! Our ingratitude and contempt of the divine word is the cause why God has permitted Satan to rage in this manner. I have often foretold that our ingratitude would be punished with wars and divisions among ourselves. Do you be firm, and keep together your little flock. I am all on fire to profess openly for once my faith on the Sacrament, and to expose the tenets of our adversaries to derision Its A Tew Words ; for they will not attend to an elaborate argument. I would have published my sentiments long ago, if I had had leisure, and Satan had not thrown impediments in my way*."
With these views and impressions, Luther preached and published at Wittemberg a sermon on the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. The object of his discourse was,—to avoid all prolix and intricate argumentation, and to state briefly to the people his own sentiments on the Eucharist, and the Scriptural proofs of them ; which he conceived to be so clear and convincing, as to preclude all controversy or contrariety of opinion.
In the former part of this address, Luther observes, that, within the last two years, there had arisen six, if not seven dissentient sects; all of which however agreed in this common sentiment, that the body and blood of Christ was not present in the Sacrament. " The great cause, the very fountain of their error," he said, " was this; they did not strictly adhere to the words of Christ. In these, there was no ambiguity whatever; but men gave way to their own roving imaginations; and supposed, that in believing the presence of Christ in the bread and wine, their adversaries conceived the body of Christ to be extended in every direction throughout * To Dr. Frosch, 319, 320.
the whole world, in order that every person living might take and eat of the same individual body. Factious spirits," he said, " always acted in this way. They first formed to themselves an opinion which was purely imaginary; and then they tortured Scripture to support that opinion.
" The true believer," continues Luther, " asks himself this question: What is it to me how Christ becomes present in the Sacrament ? My business is, to believe Him who cannot lie. The words are quite clear; a child may understand them. There is not the slightest ambiguity in such words as, To take bread, To give thanks, To break bread, To give bread, To command, To eat, To drink, This is my body.—What incredibleandunceasingpains have been taken to cast an obscurity over these luminous and perspicuous terms, and to make them signify just what every one has fancied in his dreams !"
" But it is absurd to suppose the body of Christ to be in more than a hundred thousand places at once.
" This is not more absurd than the diffusion of the soul through every part of the body. Touch any part of the body with the point of a needle, and the whole man, the whole soul is sensible of the injury. If then the soul be equally in every part of the body, and you can give no reason for it, why may not Christ be every where, and every where equally in the Sacrament? Tell me, if you can, why a grain of wheat produces so many grains of the same species : or why a single eye can fix itself at once on a thousand objects, or a thousand eyes can be fixed all at once on a single minute object.
" Take another example: What a feeble, poor, miserable, vanishing thing is the voice of a man ! yet what wonders it can perform—how it penetrates the hearts of multitudes of men ! and yet not so as that each person acquires merely a portion of it, but rather, as if every individual ear became possessed
Chap, of the whole. If this were not a matter of experi. X1H' , ence, there would not be a greater miracle in the whole world. If then the corporeal voice of a man can effect such wonders, why may not the glorified body of Christ be much more powerful and efficacious in its operations ?
" Further; when the Gospel is preached through the exertion of the human voice, does not every true believer, by the instrumentality of the Word, become actually possessed of Christ in his heart? Not that Christ sits in the heart, as a man sits upon a chair, but rather as he sitteth at the right hand of the Father. How this is, no man can tell; yet the Christian knows, by experience, that Christ is present in his heart. Again, every individual heart possesses the whole of Christ; and yet a thousand hearts in the aggregate possess no more than one Christ The Sacrament is not a greater miracle than this.
" But it is also said, that there is no Use in the actual presence of the body of Christ.
" You may as well say, there is no use in Christ's being born of a Virgin; there is no necessity that Christ should be a Divine Person; there is no necessity that God should send his Son from heaven to undergo a cruel and ignominious death. God is omnipotent: Sin, death, and Satan, are all in his hand ; and He, no doubt, could have devised a different method of justifying sinners ;—He had only to speak the word.
" The answer," said Luther, " to all such speculations, is this: If God, in his revelation, has described any thing to be necessary, let all created beings submit in silence. Christ uses plain words, ' Take, eat, this is my body;'—whatever Christ says, I am bound to believe, and without wavering."
He then proceeds to ridicule the various interpretations which had been given of the words, ' This is my body.' " One, namely Carolstadt. says, the word This does not mean the bread; and Cent. therefore he understands the expression in this way, t x^1' Take, eat, for This is my body,—that is, he sup- ' poses the Saviour, at the time of speaking, to point towards his own person. Another, for example, Zuingle, changes the plain meaning of the verb is, and, with Ovid's art of metamorphosing, interprets it by the word Signify. Then, in the third place, Ecolampadius insists on a still different mode of understanding these few words, ' This is my body:' according to him, the words My Body signify the figure or the representation of my body.
" Let us lay aside," said Luther, " all such contemptible reasoning; let us simply adhere to the express declaration of Scripture, and believe that the body and blood of Christ are present in the bread and wine. Not because Christ is present no where else with his body and blood ; since he, together with his body and blood, exists most perfectly and completely in the souls of true believers; but because it has pleased him to assure us where and how we may apprehend him, and become actually partakers of himself.
" The great Use of the Sacrament," says our author in the second part of his discourse, " is, that the Faithful Communicant may not only believe that the body and blood of Christ are there present, but that Christ himself is thereby given to him As A Free Gift. He is therefore to preserve a lively attention to the injunction, " Take, eat, this is my body, which is given for you;" for these are the very words which give strength to his faith. There are two positions in the Sacrament, both of which are the objects of the true Christian's faith. The first is, the real presence of the body and blood of Christ; and this the Papists profess that they believe ;—the second is, that the body and blood of Christ are freely bestowed upon us, without any merits of our own ; which the Papists do not believe. Chap. Now our adversaries, the Sacramentarians, place _ . all the virtue of the Eucharist in a mere commemoration of the death of Christ; and they contend that the bread and wine are no more than symbols by which we make it plain to others that we are Christians : Whereas our doctrine is, that, in receiving the bread and wine, our Lord freely bestows his body and blood, and that we appropriate these to ourselves, and become actually possessed of them for the remission of our sins. Thus Christ becomes ours; and poor miserable sinners are hereby delivered from the dread of death and hell, and become children of God, and heirs of a heavenly kingdom. And it is for these great ends and purposes that we come to the Lord's Table *."
The explanations of Brentius, who was the representative of the fourteen Suabian divines, could not be materially different from those of the preceding discourse, because Luther expresses the most unqualified approbation of that performance. Brentius observes, that the presence of Christ is affected in the Sacrament, through the power and efficacy of the Word ; by which power and efficacy,—to use the very expression of Augustine,—the element of bread becomes A Sacrament, and the I Word itself acquires a Visibility ; that is to say, Just ns Christ is present in his Word, in the same manner he is rendered present, and is offered to us in his Sacraments. And again; In the very same manner by which Christ gives us his body in the Eucharist, he presents us with all his Gospel, through which not only his body and blood become fpresent, but the whole power of God, the whole Godhead itself, together with all the Divine Excellencies. Surely no man can be so impious, as to deny, that by faith we ma)' eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. St. John says, ' My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed meaning that these • De Euchar. VII. 335.
things are so to the faithful. Now if the faithful Cent. do eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, that . xyL flesh and blood must be present; for if they were not present, they could not be eaten nor drunken. The author goes on thus; " The bread of the Sacrament, as far as it is ordinary bread, we handle, break, eat, and grind with our teeth; but the body of Christ we receive through the power of these words, 'this Is My Body:' so that,—as it hath been well observed,—' what we eat enters the stomach, what we believe enters the mind.' Nevertheless it must be remembered, that though it is by faith that we eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood, this does not deprive the bread of the presence of Christ: or, in other words, though it be true that we Spiritually eat the body of Christ, yet we are not on that account to deny that we become partakers of that body in receiving the bread of the Sacrament*."
Let us now turn for a few moments to Ecolampadius himself, who, with a pious and Christian view to peace and union, drew up what he calls his confession on this subject.
" I have no hesitation," says he, " to own that the body of Christ is present with the bread, in the same manner in which it is present with the Word itself, by which the bread becomes a Sacrament, and the Word becomes visible." And again : " Those express themselves well, and in a truly religious way, who say that they come to the Lord's Supper, even to eat the body of Christ. Also, Those talk profanely and contemptuously, who say that they obtain nothing there except bread and a sign of their Christianity : for such persons do hereby demonstrate their infidelity. A believer considers himself as treated like a traitor, if he is represented as having eaten the Sacrament only, and not the thing itself, which the Sacrament implies; although it be true * Hosp. 59,60.
Chap, that he receives the former with the mouth, and the XUI- , latter with the mind by faith."
This is a very material part of the confession of Ecolampadius, who concludes with observing, that he did not see how he could depart from it, even so much as the breadth of his finger*.
The history of the controversy of the Sacramentarians is prolix and voluminous; and in our days by no means worth the time and trouble of a diligent perusal. My object is, to select and condense just so much of it as will teach us lessons of caution and moderation, at the same time that it may gratify an innocent and laudable curiosity. For these were but the Beginnings of thatstrife and contention, which continued for a long time afterwards to afflict and divide the Protestants, and obstruct the progress of Christian truth. The churches but recently reformed were torn to pieces between Luther and Zuingle. " Some characters," says the pious Scultetus, " deserted Jerusalem, and went back again to Babylon : others waited in suspense for the result of the disputations of the leaders in theology: good men grieved; and bad men laughed; while the Papists, throughout Italy, France, and Germany, raged with fire and sword and cruel edicts against those who, because the Scripture affirms the body of Christ to be in heaven, denied the existence of it in the bread of the Sacrament."
Yet after all, upon a review of the evidence now before us, a dispassionate student of this controversy will probably be disposed to say,—How easily, with the assistance of a little mutual candour and moderation and Christian forbearance, might the whole dispute in this stage of the contention have been settled, or at least suspended, and complete concord restored among the Evangelical brethren ! For though, on the one hand, the Lutherans had certainly been too much inclined to maintain the * Ep. Zuing. and Ecolamp. III. 129.
corporeal presence and corporeal manducation of the body of Christ in the gross sense of those terms; and, on the other hand, the Zuinglians had on some occasions justly rendered themselves suspected of an intention to deprive the Sacrament of all its spirituality, and to reduce the ordinance to a mere commemoration of the person of Christ, it does not however appear, that any such striking and specific difference of sentiment between the Saxon and the Swiss divines had hitherto been insisted on, as should have made it necessary for either of the parties to require from the other a distinct and humiliating retractation, much less to persevere in an unchristian hostility. In fact, these learned and excellent men, on both sides, seem to have been ignorant at first of the true state of the question, and also of the sentiments of each other. Then, during the heat and violence of their opposition, molehills became mountains: novel fancies arose concerning the Sacrament, which had never been thought of in the commencement of the dissensions, and which were invented purely to support arguments that had been once incautiously advanced; and these for a long time afterwards afforded materials for vain and unedifying disputation.
The very learned and zealous reformer Martin Bucer, who had adopted in general the opinions of Luther, and had had several conferences with him in 1521, was inclined, in the Sacramentarian contest, to take part with the Helvetian divines: he displayed, however, great moderation in stating his own sentiments, and was one of those who sincerely laboured to compose the dissensions among the Evangelical ministers, both by his candid construction of the declarations of the Lutherans, and also by his kind and rational exhortations to Christian fellowship. He informs us, that he considered Brentius as well qualified, by his superior judgment and learning, to influence the good clergy of his Chap, neighbourhood; and that with this very view he had _x*11- , by letter entreated him to reflect on the mischievous effects which this contention would produce on weaker minds, particularly if faithful ministers of Christ were to be wantonly traduced and reviled for their difference of sentiment in non-essentials. In this same letter he put Brentius in mind, that it was absolutely impossible for him and his friends, consistently with piety, to pull to pieces such a character as that of Ecolampadius, who had deserved so well of them, and of the glorious Gospel of Christ. iiucer then subjoined a very simple account of that idea of the Sacrament which he said was professed by himself, and also by his clerical brethren at Strasburg. " Our belief," says he, " is this, That according to the doctrine of St. Paul, as often as we eat the bread and drink, the wine of the Sacrament, we show the Lord's death till he come ; that is, that we consider, confess, and declare, that Christ offered to his Father on the cross his body and blood for our redemption; and doing this with a true faith, we know that our souls are really fed, refreshed, and strengthened, by the flesh and the blood of Christ." Notwidistanding the veneration in which Zuingle was justly held by the reformed churches, as they are called on the Continent, I do not remember so neat, so concise, so unexceptionable, and, on the whole, so truly a Scriptural account of the nature of the Eucharist, in all the voluminous writings of that learned and excellent reformer*. Luther, of which his enemies always take advantage, and his friends are always ashamed, never appeared more conspicuous than in the Sacramentarian controversy ; and it could not fail to prove serviceable, though indirectly and by way of contrast only, to the reputation of Zuingle. 2. The language of Zuingle is infinitely JMiad almost said, nearer, than that of Luther, to the language of a person educated in modern times,—of one, for example, who has learnt how to Cut Deep, and yet to shelter himself under polite terms and respectful acknowledgments. Luther is often abusive, but never means more than he says,—often a great deal less. He frequently calls a man a fool or an ass in general, when he only intends to charge him with inconclusive reasoning, in some one instance at that time under consideration. Zuingle understands the art of pulling to pieces much better than Luther; and, I observe, he is never so much in earnest for that purpose, as when he has first artfully prepared the mind to give credit to his accusations, by praising mostliberally the conduct of his adversary, in points where it was in vain for him to withhold his approbation.
The name of Zuingle is transmitted to posterity with the highest encomiums on his candour and moderation. Not to deny the just foundation of this praise, there are however two circumstances which have, I think, contributed to make the historians and memorialists more liberal in bestowing it. i. The excessive and ungovernable asperity of * Scultet. xxvi. 51. Hospin. 66.
We have already observed with how little of a true spirit of conciliation Zuingle, in his letter to Theobald Bilicanus *, criticised the publication of the Suabian divines. He afterwards addressed Luther himself on the same subject, to this elfect: " We are sincerely concerned that you should commend this performance of the Suabian ministers. As a precedent, it is bad. In this way, the doctrine of Christ must be subjected, not to one tyrannical pontiff, but to myriads of little tyrants, firentius has picked up, out of the streets, a number of petty bishops, and formed a synod of them : then, without any other support, he has condemned, as erroneous, the sentiments of Ecolampadius respecting the opinions of the Fathers on a certain * See Pages 402,3.
VOL. V. E E
point. Now Ecolampadius was his preceptor ; and, moreover, Brentius has neither sufficient learning nor sufficient experience to enter into the spirit of those ancient writers. Surely, my Luther, this is setting an imprudent and a most mischievous example. Every crazy brain will be producing a tumult in the Church, and exclaiming, This is error! This is heresy ! We are grieved to find you commend this book, because we feel sensibly for your reputation, which cannot but suffer by your thus praising a composition that is empty and contemptible in every point of view. If one looks into it for eloquence, one finds nothing 0ut rude and hasty expressions, without any solidity or consistence ; at the same time there appears such a visible confusion and anxiety about words and sentences, that there seems to have been some danger lest the author's store of language should have been exhausted before his book was finished. Then, as to the arguments, nothing can be more feeble; and as to acuteness, a duller production was never seen: and, on the whole, it is so ill put together, and so little adapted to convince, that one is at a loss to conceive what it was that induced the author to try his strength on such a subject. For if his object was illustration, do not you see that every point he undertakes to handle, becomes, undjer his treatment, more obscure than it was before * 1"
Plenty of passages of a similar stamp might be "produced from the writings of Zuingle ; but this is :laid before the reader merely to show that there were other very excellent and eminent Christians as •Well as Luther, who, when unhappily heated by controversy, could make use, if not of as hard words, yet of quite as contemptuous and provoking a ■strain of expression as any which can be found in
his most exceptionable and acrimonious writings,
* IL Zuing. Exeg. 327. b.
■—These things are recorded in history as lessons Cent. of caution ; not as examples for imitation *. t xvt- ,
In the former part of the year 1527, the mind of Luther is Luther seems to have been irritated by this contro ""/j^1" versy to the very highest degree. He gave himself the Sscmseriously to the work, and produced in the month Comro©f February or March, a most elaborate treatise, versy, in the German language, on the words, ' Take, A. P. eat, this is my body,' Against The Fanatical 1527
SPIRITS OF THE Sacramentarians.
■The words of our Lord, ' take, eat, this is my body,' he maintained, were express, and, incapable of two meanings. Yet the Sacramentarians denied the presence of Christ's body and blood; and dreamt, that, in the Eucharist, the bread and wine were merely signs and symbols of the Christian profession. Moreover, they modestly accused those who differed from them in sentiment, of idolatry, and of worshipping a God that had been baked, and was made eatable, or turned into bread ; and also drinkable, or turned into wine. Such was their blasphemous language !
They also accused the Lutherans of being the cause of this controversy. " But who," said he, " incited Carolstadt to begin the contest? Who compelled Zuingle and Ecolampadius to write on this subject ? Have they not done what they have done voluntarily? We would gladly have been quiet, and even yet wish for quietness; but they
* I have particularly noticed this publication of the Suabian ministers by Brentius, because Hospinian, who in general is sufficiently prejudiced in favour of the Swiss divines, freely acknowledges that there was no great difference between the opinions of Ecolampadius and those contained in the Syngramma of the Suabians: and further, that Brentius, in an epistle to Martin Bucer, and also in his Exposition of Chap. vi. of John's Gospel, both which were written for the purpose of explaining more distinctly the sentiments of himself and his clerical brethren, had expressed his ideas of the Eucharist in such a manner, as to agree entirely with the confession of Ecolampadius. Hosp. 62.
Chap, show themselves averse to peace. Indeed, in words XItl- , they do exhort men to peace and harmony; but their practice proves they delight in sowing discord incessantly.
" They lay no stress on any one thing except their Sacramentarian tenet. Devoid of every Christian grace, they pretend to the sanctity of Martyrs, on account of this single opinion; and further, they allow no man to be a Christian who does not agree with them in this same sentiment ' Such a man,' they say, ' has no knowledge of the Scriptures, neither does he possess any thing of the Spirit ■—of such prodigious importance is it become at present to talk about Bread and ■wine. They would persuade one, that this was the great, the only concern of the Holy Ghost; when, in reality, it is a delusion of Satan, who, under the pretence of love and concord, is raising dissensions and mischiefs of every kind.
" The Sacramentarians," said Luther, " call loudly upon us for Scriptural proof of the real presence : that is, they bid us prove that there are in Scripture such words, as ' This is my body;' whereas this, and no other, is the reading in every copy of the New Testament, throughout the world. But where," continued he, " shall we find the words, ' This signifies my body,' 1 This is the sign of my body ?' or that the word is means the same as the word Signifies? Yet they dare to conclude, with the utmost positiveness, that these last words are really Scriptural. Now I do affirm, that it is an invariable rule in Biblical criticism never to leave the obvious or literal meaning of the words of Scripture, unless we are authorized by the passage itself, or, at least, by an analogical argument, founded on some uncontroverted article of faith.— Such is the real state of the question ; and I call God to witness, that I have not the least wish to defame Zuingle, and still much less Ecolampadius, a man on whom God has bestowed many excellent Cent.
gifts." Luther proceeds to the following effect: , XVI
" The Sacramentarians think it implies a contradiction to suppose that Christ should sit in glory at the right hand of God, and that his body should, at the same time, be present in the Eucharist. The answer is, The Holy Scriptures teach us that the right hand of God is not in any particular place circumscribed with bounds, as though there existed a golden seat or throne in some distinct apartment. Hence, the right hand of God, the arm of God, the face, the essence, the Spirit, the Word of God, are all one and the same thing; namely, God himself, who exists every where, and supports every thing by his Divine energy.—In the next place, Christ was in the world, walked about in the world, and yet the whole Deity was essentially and bodily in him. But how can these things be ? How can God in Christ be entirely and essentially present in the womb of Mary, in the manger, in the temple, in the desert, in towns, in houses, in gardens, in the fields, on the cross, and in the sepulchre, and yet be in heaven in the bosom of the Father ? No doubt this is a great miracle ; nevertheless, if it be incontrovertiblv true, according to the Catholic faith, that the Godhead itself is always really and essentially present in the person of Christ, the conclusion must be, that Christ is present every where, both in heaven and in earth.
" When Christ took our nature upon him, it is not to be so understood as though he descended from heaven as a man descends by a ladder or a rope; for before that wonderful event took place, he was present every where. God is present every where, and in every creatu>e. Mark well, however, the distinction between Christ and any created being. Of the last it may be said, God is there, or in that being ; but you cannot say that being is God. Whereas, in regard to Christ, God is not only
present in him as in every creature; but H E is the true God. The Godhead dwells in him bodily ; God and man are one Christ.
" These things I allow, confound all human wisdom and comprehension. They are to be apprehended by faith, through the instrumentality of the Word of God. Nevertheless, the Ubiquity of Christ is a complete refutation of that fundamental objection of the Sacramentarians; namely, That Christ cannot be in the Sacrament and in heaven at the same time : And Thus We Take The Sword Out Of The Hand Of The Ostentatious Giant Goliath."
To help the imagination on so difficult a subject, Luther observed, that God might have many methods, which he had not condescended to lay open to us, whereby two things might be in the same place at the same time, or one thing might exist in another, without any gross corporeal sort of union, like that which the Sacramentarians supposed. The Scriptures spake of children being in the loins of their parents. Trees and fruits also existed in seeds and kernels. There was likewise positive proof that Christ came to his disciples through doors which were shut. There was not wanting, he added, an express testimony to the ubiquity of Christ. ' No man hath ascended into heaven, except he who came down from heaven, the Son of man, Who Is In Heaven;' which words plainly demonstrated, that Christ's body was present both in heaven and on earth, and, in fact, every where, at the very same moment.
Our author takes notice of another argument of his adversaries, upon which they laid great stress; namely, ' The flesh profiteth nothing. John vi. Ecolampadius ventured to call this passage his Iron Wall. Luther replied, " I think It Is A Wall Of Mere Pai'er; or, perhaps, I may admit, the paper is a little tinged With An Iron Colour. In this passage of Scripture, our adver- Cent. saries take for granted that The Flesh means the t xy*flesh of Christ: whereas I affirm, that whenever Christ speaks of his own flesh, or of his own body, he invariably adds the little word M r, or some word of the same import: for example, the several passages run thus,—" My flesh,—my body, is meat indeed.' ' Whoso eateth M Y flesh.' ' Except ye
eat the flesh of-the Son of man.' Now, as it is
not said My flesh profiteth nothing, but only The Flesh profiteth nothing, they will have enough to do to prove the flesh, in this verse, means the flesh of Christ. For there is a great difference between the flesh of Christ, and other flesh ; and I call upon them to prove that the word Flesh means Christ's flesh, when it is said, The flesh profiteth nothing. And thus this whole argument, namely, the Ikon Wall of Ecolampadius, Falls To The Ground.
Zuingle would argue, that to eat the flesh of Christ could do no good, because, ' That which is born of the flesh, is flesh.' On the contrary I maintain that the flesh of Christ originates from the Holy Ghost, and therefore holy in its nature, and comes under that expression of our Lord, namely, ' That Which Is Born Of The Spirit, Is SpiRit;' which words prove that the body of Christ is not ordinary flesh, but spiritual flesh ; for the Scriptures do not speak in this manner of any other person.
The manducation by the mouth is corporeal; that by the heart is spiritual, that is, by faith. But observe, when we are said to eat or drink spiritually, we do not mean that we eat or drink what is, in strictness, real spirit, or a spiritual substance ; for then it would be impossible to eat and drink spiritually the flesh of Christ; because that flesh, wherever it be, and whether it exists in a corporeal or a spiritual essence, or whether it be visible or invisible, according to circumstances, is real, natural
Chap, corporeal flesh, and capable, whenever God pleases, XIU' . of being touched, handled, seen, and heard ; capable also of being born of a woman, and of dying on the cross. But it is denominated spiritual flesh, because, as aforesaid, it originated from the Holy Ghost, and because we ought to be partakers of it in a spiritual manner.
In using the Sacrament, the corporeal manducation, if unaccompanied by the spiritual, is ruinous to the communicant; because, as St. Paul says, ' he eats unworthily, and is guilty of the body of Christ.' Deeply impressed with these views of the Sacrament, Luther paraphrases our Lord's celebrated address to his disciples, John vi. in the following manner:
" Ye, my disciples, take offence at my words, but ye do not undertand them. Ye are thinking of the ordinary processes of corporeal eating and digesting meat, such as is bought in the shambles. These thoughts are carnal and deadly. It is not flesh of this kind which I tell you ye must eat: ye must have spiritual, and not ordinary flesh. My words must be taken spiritually, and as spoken of spiritual flesh. All my words are spirit; and therefore the flesh, and the eating, and all the other things of which I speak, are Spirit, and are to be understood spiritually, and to be used spiritually. For it is the Spirit that quickeneth : th^sflesh profiteth nothing*." ■
The historian having furnished his readers with these materials, leaves it now to the pious and diligent student of the Ecclesiastical reformation, to make his own reflections on the state of the parties concerned in the Sacramental Controversy. Doubtless he will lament the bad spirit which was gaining ground at a great rate on both sides; and will also turn with disgust from the metaphysical jargon con* Op. Luth. VII. Hospin.
cerning substances, essences, and attributes, which Cent. began now to be introduced and much insisted on .. by the Lutherans, for the purpose of maintaining their doctrine of the omnipresence of the Body of Christ. Luther probably never thought of having recourse to such abstruse and intricate speculations in religious inquiries, till, in defending his ideas of Consubstantiation or Impanation, he found himself hard pressed by his opponents. No man's natural temper was ever more averse than his to a sophistical or an unintelligible way of argumentation ; yet his treatise against the Sacramentarians, which we have just reviewed, compels us to own, that, along with many excellent and beautiful reflections on the spiritual nature of the Sacrament, he certainly mixed a deal of scholastic puzzle and confusion ; and that, notwithstanding what has been asserted to the contrary, he himself unquestionably, in the year 1527, taught publicly, and enforced with uncommon earnestness, the ubiquity of the person of Christ, considered as a human being *.
* Maclaine in Mosli. II. 199.