FROM THE CONCLUSION OF THE SACRAMENTAL
CONTROVERSY, TO THE PERSECUTIONS OF THE
REFORMERS, AFTER THE FIRST DIET OF SPIRES.
1. State Of Parties.
2. Diet Of Augsburg In 1525.
3. Suspicions Of The Protestants.
4. Diet Of Spires.
5. The Reformation In Hesse By The LandGrave.
6. Luther's Sentiments Respecting War And
7. Persecutions Of The Reformers.
1. State Of Parties.
Chap. The avowed and unequivocal support afforded to xiv. the Reformation by the new Elector of Saxony ' ' and the Landgrave of Hesse, did not produce all the good effects which might have been expected from the wise and vigorous measures adopted by those illustrious princes, in the best of causes. Their example, indeed, was followed by all the most enlightened princes and states of Germany; and, in consequence, an improved union, more solid, and better cemented than ever, took place among These. But the rest, who, under the cautious and ambiguous conduct of Frederic the Wise, had hitherto shown themselves averse to an open rupture, so soon as they clearly perceived that the Reformers designed to withdraw themselves from the Romish communion, and reject the jurisdiction of the pontiff, instantly took fire at the very idea of such a basis of peace and concord. Some of tliem Cent. had stood neuter during the violence of the religious XVI- J differences; and others had even joined the Lutherans in their complaints against certain abuses of the established church; but none had ever once dreamed of entirely deserting the religious system of their ancestors; and, as matters were fast advancing to a crisis, they now thought it high time to make an open declaration of their attachment to the established hierarchy, and of their zeal and readiness to promote its interests.
Thus the discordant princes of Germany arranged themselves into two distinct parties, each of which seemed resolutely determined to adhere to its peculiar tenets.
But there was this essential difference between Essential the patrons of Popery and Lutheranism. All the bliw«n measures of the latter were in principle purely de- ,h fensive ; whereas the former meditated the complete Lutheran*, extirpation of their adversaries. Foiled in arguments repeatedly, they seemed to have given up the contest in that way, and to have expected better success by having recourse to slander. The late Rustic war in Germany had afforded them a pretext for this purpose. They represented the Lutherans as bad subjects in general, and as the prime cause of that late rebellion, and of the bloodshed.—Moreever, though the rebels had been severely handled at Mulhausen *, yet fresh commotions were apprehended from the operation of the licentious doctrines of Munzer; therefore the Electors of Mayence and Brandenburg, with the Duke Henry of Brunswic and his uncle Eric, had had a conference at Dessau; where they made no secret of declaring, that the only radical cure of the evil would be to free the nation from the Lutheran heresy, and from those who protected it. This interview of the enemies of the Reformation gave * See page 224.
Chap, rise to much suspicion and anxiety in the mind of X1V- the Landgrave of Hesse, especially as, with a view to the distracted state of the country, he had recently requested a friendly meeting with his father-in-law, the Duke George, and had received a surly answer, " That before any thing could be done to the purpose, all the late innovations in religion must be effectually done away." Apprehcn- These proceedings had so little ambiguity in sums.>itha them, that the Lutherans, about this time, began u icrans. ^Q ^liberate seriously how they might best evade the blow with which they were threatened by a powerful and bigoted confederacy. They retorted the accusation of having been the cause of the rebellion of the Peasants, and justly ascribed those sad events to the cruel persecuting spirit of the nobles and dignitaries of the church. Various conventions of the princes were held in different places. At Salfeld, in particular, they came to this resolution, " That it became them, as Christian princes, to do every thing to promote the glory of God, and to conform their practice to the revealed word. That, by this word, the true doctrine of Justification, through the mercy of God by faith in Jesus Christ, was now once more revived ; and that, for this great benefit, eternal thanks were due to Almighty God." The proxies transmitted their resolution to the Duke George, and at the same time animadverted severely on what had passed at the late assembly at Dessau *.
2. Diet Of Augsbukg In 1.525.
Thepre- Meanwhile, mandatory letters from Charles VC.rehen *p *° 'us brother and representative, Ferdinand, dated increased!" Toledo, May 24, 1525, calling for a diet of the empire, increased both the discontent and the alarm of all those German princes who favoured the Reformation. The letters breathed nothing but * Arch. Weim. p. 49. Add. 1.
the execution of the edict of Worms, and destruc- Cent. tton to the Lutherans. He directed the diet to be ^Vlheld at Augsburg, on the next Michelmas day ; and privately, in a milder tone, requested the Elector of Saxony to be present. But this prince, at the instance of the Landgrave, resolved upon a previous measure, admirably calculated to defeat the violent designs of the papal party. This measure consisted in forming a Spkhdy Association with all the moderate and well-disposed states of the empire; such as, the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Treves, the margraves of Brandenburg, the dukes of Limeburg, Pomerania, and Mecklenburg, the princes of Anhalt, the imperial cities of Nuremburg, Strasburg, Augsburg, and of Ulm and Magdeburg; the object of which association should be, to concur in representing to Ferdinand the imminent danger there was at this time of exciting fresh and more formidable riots and seditions, by any attempts to execute the edict of Worms; and how abundantly more wise and safe it would be, at the present moment, to come to some distinct determination and settlement respecting the religious differences.
The principal states of the empire agreed in the same sentiments ; and even Ferdinand himself at length confessed the necessity of adopting pacific measures in the concern of religion ; and allowed the princes to send to the diet such of their theologians asiHEY judged best qualified, by their knowledge and discretion, to prove useful advisers in the ensuing deliberations *.
Accordingly, the Elector of Saxonyand the Land- Meiancgrave instructed their deputies to represent to the fence'of diet, That their masters complained heavily of p°V^ the harsh terms in which the imperial mandate for calling the diet was expressed :—that, in fact, the late rebellion of the Peasants, -which the princes had * Arch. Weim. p. 42. Add. X.
Chap, suppressed at the hazard of their lives, was to be im■. X1V' . puted to such ill-timed and provoking severities;— that divine truth could not be extinguished in the minds of men by force ; —that much greater evils than any which had yet happened would be the infallible consequence of the attempt, besides the despite done to the word of God; that those decrees of Nuremberg, which respected the reformation of religion, ought to be observed ; and that, in a matter where the salvation of men's souls was concerned, the utmost care should be taken not to harass tender consciences, by increasing instead of diminishing the present evils ;—and, lastly, the deputies were ordered to oppose the execution of the edict of Worms with all their might.
Further, the elector of Saxony, well aware under how much odium he laboured from the papal ecclesiastics, on account of the reformation in religion which he had authorized at Wittemberg, directed his theologians to prepare in writing, ready for the diet, a brief but comprehensive answer to the principal objections of the opposite party : and' such a memoir is found among the Archives of Weimar, neatly executed in the German language by the pen of Melancthon.
What follows is a specimen of the author's manner of treating the subject. The question is, Whether we are guilty of the sin of schism, in preaching certain doctrines, and abolishing certain usages, not only without the leave of the bishops, but in direct opposition to their injunctions ? For, as they can say nothing against our doctrine, they have no way left to condemn us, but by objecting to our want of authority from the ecclesiastical rulers.
They argue, l. The Bishops, and no one else, possess any jurisdiction in the church.
2. They urge the infallibility of the church;—and therefore it is not possible there should have existed, for so many ages, the errors and ido- Cent. latries which we have abrogated. t XX L
3. They put us in mind, that to obey is better
than sacrifice;—we ought therefore to have
been obedient to our superiors; Also,
4. To have shown a charitable regard for tender
consciences. And, ,5. Not to have raised civil wars by licentious innovation.
Melancthon rests the defence of the Reformers upon the following facts and principles:
1. Every minister of the word of God is bound, by the express precept of Christ *, to preach the leading doctrine of the Gospel, namely, justification by faith in Christ Jesus, and not by the merit of human performances. Whereas, nothing is more certain than that men have been drawn from the cross of Christ, to trust in their own works, and in a variety of superstitious vanities.
2. God has forbidden, under the most heavy punishment, every species of idolatry and false worship : and of this class are the sacrifice of the mass, masses for the dead, invocations of the saints, and such like ; which things, though manifest blasphemies, it is notorious, have been taught in the church of Rome, and represented as sharing, in their efficacy to salvation, with the merits of our Redeemer himself.
3. The pope and bishops neglect their duty; exercise an usurped authority even over emperors and princes; and, under the pretence of serving Christ, apply the possessions of the church to the service of their tyrannical purposes.
On these grounds the author argues, That the clergy, from the very nature of their vocation, have an unquestionable authority to preach the truths of the Gospel; and, moreover, are called on the louder * Matt. x. 32.
to do this when the bishops are plunged in ignorance and luxury, and when they answer the admonitions and remonstrances of the Reformers only by anathemas and persecutions.
That the pope, the cardinals, and the clergy of Rome, did not constitute the Church of Christ, though there did exist among them some who were real members of that church, and opposed the reigning errors. That the true church consisted of the faithful, and of none else, who had the word of God, and by it were sanctified and cleansed *. That St. Paul had predicted there would come Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God: and, that the Reformers were not guilty of schism, either because they had convicted Antichrist of his errors, or because they had made alterations in some external ordinances. That the unity of the church did not consist in such things ; and that whoever maintained that it did, ought in every way to be most strenuously opposed.
That to the charge of disobedience, the answer was easy : The pope and his bishops had exacted an unlawful obedience; that nothing short of giving up the word of God would content them; and that by their excommunications, and other persecutions of the reformed clergy, They Themselves had at Wngth stirred up the late rebellion in Germany.
Lastly, the author confirms his reasoning by quoting precepts of Christ himself, and by producing pertinent examples from the history, both of the Christian and the Jewish church. " The great doctrinal point," says he, in conclusion, *' is that of Faith in the merits of Christ, independently of human works, as the ground of acceptance before God. Rather than give up this, we must suffer persecution, and every species of disturbance."
In the same memoir, Melancthon touches upon another question ; namely, Whether the princes had Eph. v. 26.
done right in authorizing; the reformations which Cent. had been made in their colleges and monasteries, . \ ^ contrary to the edicts of the emperor and the pope ?
" The whole," says our author, " turns upon this single consideration, Whether the novel doctrines, as they are called, be or be not true ? If true, the princes ought assuredly to protect them. The princes are no more under obligation to obey the higher powers in their tyrannical mandates, than Jonathan was to kill David, or Obadiah the prophets *."
Such were the concise arguments by which the first Reformers defended themselves from the charge of heresy and schism.
It is to the exertions of these excellent men, con- Mild. Producted with so much spirit, wisdom, and moderation, the papa" that we are to ascribe the mild proceedings of the Pat»stti'spapal partisans at the diet of Augsburg.—In fact, that assembly did not meet till the month of November, and from the advanced state of the season, and other causes, was but thinly attended. The diet was prorogued till the third of May of the next year, to be then held at Spires ; and in the mean Diet to be time, they entreated the emperor to take measures ge^e"' for calling a council, and to favour them with his presence in Germany ; but so far from directing the A* V^ edict of Worms to be enforced, they satisfied them- 1 ^ ' selves with repeating the evasive decree of Nuremberg, which, in general, enjoined the clergy to introduce no novel doctrines, but to preach the pure Gospel as it had been understood always by the great body of Christians, to consult for peace and harmony, and do all to the glory of God. It does not appear that Ferdinand discovered any re, luctance to subscribe the terms of the Iiecess. The most violent and the most inveterate adversaries of Luther could not but see the danger and the folly of all attempts, under the present circumstances, * l Kings, xviii. 4.
VOL. V. F F
either to banish, or take away the life of a man who was so much admired and beloved by his countrymen ; and to whose extraordinary discernment, industry, and courage, not only Germany, but also many other parts of Europe, were under the greatest obligations.
3. Suspicions Of The Protestants.
This appearance, however, of lenity and moderation was deceitful, being founded not in any solid principles of justice or religion, but merely in the temporary fear of tumult and sedition.—Even during the sittings of the late diet, the ecclesiastical princes had showed themselves much elevated with the recent victories over the rebellious peasants, and, in consequence, more disposed to violent and sanguinary measures. Thus the present calm was considered, by the more judicious and thinking Protestants, only as a prelude to a tempest, shortly to be raised by all the great powers of the established hierarchy, for the purpose of crushing effectually, not only the Saxon reformer, and his petty adherents at Wittemberg, but every German prince and State, whether civil or ecclesiastical, which had dared to oppose or dissent from the communion of the Roman church*.
Moreover, there were other reasons, besides those that have been mentioned, which would naturally fill the minds of the Protestants with disquieting suspicions and apprehensions. So embittered was the court of Rome against what they called the Lutheran heresy, that in every treaty which the pope had of late concluded with foreign powers, the absolute destruction and extirpation of all Lutherans was a specific article.—For example, the ninth article of the treaty made by Clement VII. with the emperor, after the battle of Pavia and the capture of Francis I. runs thus : " Because religion, much more * Comm. de Luth. II. XV. 4.
than any temporal concern, is near the heart of the Cent. Roman pontiff, and because the good faith of his ^ x\1' , holiness has been called in question, the emperor, the king of England, and the archduke Ferdinand, engage to take up arms with all their might against all disturbers of the Catholic faith, and against all persons who shall revile or injure the pontiff; and further, the aforesaid princes take upon themselves to punish all such offenders against his holiness, in the same manner as if the offences had been committed against their own persons*."
In the autumn of the very same year, this pre- element cious pontiff, whose thoughts, it seems, were so TMtIustlca,y deeply and so entirely exercised concerning the ad- Francis i. vancement and protection of pure religion, deserted Charles V., and made a treaty with England and France, the primary object of which was declared to be, that the contracting parties should effectually withstand the brutal ferocity of the Turks, and also suppress that most pestilential heresy of the Lutherans ; for that there was as much danger from the latter evil as from the former, the said heresy having secretly spread itself to a great extent, and done much mischief to the Christian faith "f*.
In the famous treaty of peace, called the Treaty Treaty of of Madrid, by which Francis I. recovered his liberty, Madridit is expressly stated, that the emperor and the king are induced to make peace, that they may be able to extirpate all the enemies of the Christian religion, and especially the heresies of the Lutheran sect. The pope, they say, had often admonished and much solicited them to attend seriously to this important duty. It was, therefore, to satisfy his wishes that they had determined to entreat his holiness to give • Palav. II. 13.
+ RymerXIV. Sleidan VI. 145.
Cardinal Wolsey is supposed to have persuaded Henry vlir. to adopt this measure, as at that time he was much out of humour with Charles v. who, the cardinal believed, had prevented his being chosen pope at the last vacancy.
directions for a general council of the deputies of the kings and princes, to meet at a fixed time and place, then and there to consult on the most effectual method of carrying on the war against the Turks, and also of suppressing heresy *.
How vigilant and indefatigable was this pontiff in rousing the adversaries of religion, and endeavouring to make them active and resolute in persecuting the little flock of true Christians, wherever they could find them ! Among many of his epistolary admonitions and exhortations written for this purpose, there is one even to the Parliament of Paris. He had been informed, he said, that impious heresies had begun to creep into France ; and that the parliament had wisely interposed, by choosing commissioners for the detection and punishment of the offenders. He entirely approved, and by his authority confirmed, the steps they had taken: it was a common concern: the mischief was general, and was to be ascribed to the malice of Satan, and the fury of his impious agents. Not only religion, but also governments, kings, princes, nobles, all ranks and orders, were on the brink of destruction. It was a time when the common safety called for unanimous exertion. He promised that on his part no care or labour should be spared ; and it was Their duty, he told them, to enter into the same views with their whole heart, and preserve their country from that calamitous infection, which infallibly attended the dissemination of this contagious heresy f.
Another source of anxiety and alarm to the Protestant confederate princes, was the steady cooperation of Charles V. with the pope's tyrannical designs. Charles, by mandate from Seville, March 1526, directed his lieutenant-general Ferdinand, and the rest of his commissioners, to admonish the
• Sleidan VI. 146.
t Ibid. 140.
Also, Recueil des Traites, torn. II.
members of the diet, who were about to assemble Cent. at Spires, to make no resolutions which were either ^ xycontrary to the Christian faith, or to the ancient usages. He himself had already abrogated the late decree of Nuremberg, which had enjoined an examination of Luther's writings ; and would shortly concert measures with his holiness, respecting a General council. The resolutions of those partial assemblies, he said, had done no good; but had rather confirmed the licentious vulgar in their errors; and that the diet would do well to regulate all their proceedings by that standard which had been settled by their own common consent. He complained, that doctrines which had been condemned were still taught, holy men were reviled, and seditions encouraged *.
This imperial mandate was intended by Charles V. Secre^ '"for the public eye ; but besides this, he caused pri- 0f Ch»j. v. vate and secret instructions to be delivered to Henry duke of Brunswic, the general purport of which, as it soon became matter of notoriety, affected the minds of the good Protestants with much greater concern than any public document could do, because it seemed most clearly to demonstrate the extreme hostility of the emperor's disposition towards any species of reformation.—The duke was commissioned to visit several such princes of the empire as were known to be perfectly untainted with Lutheranism ; for example, the archbishops of Cologne and Bremen, the bishops of Munster and Minden, the elector of Brandenburg, and several others. He was directed to show his instructions to some of them, to deliver civil messages from the emperor to others, and to make them all acquainted with how much grief his imperial highness had heard of the daily increase of the Lutheran heresy, which had already given rise to so much bloodshed, devastation, and blasphemy. The duke was to add, that the steady adherence of * Sleidan VI. 148.
Chap, these princes to the ancient religion had afforded the emperor the most lively satisfaction ; and that his highness intended very shortly to advise with them in person, concerning the best remedies to be used in this most destructive distemper. He was then to declare, on the emperor's part, that he should not permit any other of his concerns to interfere with this : and lastly, he was to exhort the princes to persevere in the faith, to unite themselves with all the Anti-lutherans, and, in one connected body, to resist with effect, and finally to suppress, the cunning and deceitful arts, as well as the violent and seditious outrages, of this mischievous faction.—Charles concluded his instructions emphatically with saying, " That he should not be wanting in his endeavours to promote the good cause;—that he heartily thanked those who had hitherto shown their zeal and fidelity, and he would not fail to reward their services liberally."
The precise manner in which these secret communications came to the knowledge of the Lutheran princes does not appear; but as copies of the memoir were sent to several other princes besides Henry of Brunswic, we need not wonder that its contents were soon divulged. Effects of This secret memoir, there is reason to believe, struciiona. contributed to produce some importantconsequences. — l. Distrust and animosity among the princes of the empire. In particular, the Duke of Brunswic was suspected of having calumniated the Lutheran princes, and of having endeavoured to poison the emperor's mind, by instilling a belief that the reformers made proselytes by using force; and moreover, that they were the real cause of the late Rustic rebellion. 2. An entire despair of the emperor's justice and impartiality in any future attempt to adjust the religious differences. He lent his ear to slanderous reports, and afforded the accused no opportunity of justifying themselves. 3. It proved, that beyond all doubt, a treaty had been concluded Cent. against Christ and his sacred word. The landgrave, . XJL . on the occasion of this conviction of his mind, declared solemnly, that he would rather lose his life than be forced in this manner into poverty and exile. 4. It showed the urgent and increased necessity of a counter treaty, for the purpose of confounding the machinations of all the adversaries of Christian truth and liberty of conscience.
Undoubtedly the pope and the emperor were most to be dreaded, as the great engines of ecclesiastical tyranny and persecution ; nevertheless, it was now become sufficiently clear, that there existed also within the German empire, many powerful agents, who were completely disposed to concur with those wicked despots in their destructive and sanguinary designs against the infant reformation *.
For those very purposes, a secret treaty against Secret the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse argea"*t the was discovered to have been made at Mayence, Protestams. under the auspices and management of the duke George. Luther, whose vigilance and industry were unexampled, both acquired a knowledge of this conspiracy, and wrote a little treatise for the purpose of exposing the authors of it. It was however thought better to suppress the work ; and at present there remain only some fragments of it in the German edition of Luther's Works 1f.
In a letter to Spalatinus, he alludes to these Luther aithings in the following manner : " You can scarcely «creV° believe what mischief Satan is plotting at this mo- treaty, ment, through the medium of the bishops, with the duke George at their head. Shortly, in a little book, which is at this very time in the press, I purpose to give you a specimen of his iniquitous proceedings. If the Lord do not prevent the accomlishment of the designs of these men, you will ave to say, that the late rebellion and slaughter of * See page 434. t Tom. III. 52°,
Chap, the rustics was but the prelude to the uersal . X1V' , destruction of Germany. I therefore seriously beseech you, join your prayers with me to the Father of mercies, that he may be pleased to confound the wild and insidious devices of these men ; especially of the duke George,—a deplorably lost character, I do fear. Let us beseech God, either to change his heart, or to remove him from among us: otherwise he will not only continue to rage like a wild beast, but, through the instigation of the prelates, will show himself a perfect Satan. It so torments the man that Luther is not yet put to death, he can neither sleep nor wake ; insomuch that there may be some reason to fear, he will be worn out by the excessive anxiety of his mind on this very account —Gracious God ! what a load has our good Prince to sustain ! not merely as elector of Saxony, and an avowed friend of the Reformers amidst numerous hostile princes, but also on account of the wicked machinations of some of his own familiars and intimates, persons of rank and consequence. I have abundance to tell you, concerning plots and evil counsels; but I dare not commit them to writing *."
onhe'Rc6 rea^ s*a*e °^ tne Ref°rmati°n m Germany
formation, may be collected from such documents as these, infinitely better than from many chapters, filled with the imaginations and refinements of the most acute politicians. The curious student of ecclesiastical history will now see what just cause the Protestant princes, especially John the Constant, elector of Saxony, and Philip the landgrave of Hesse, had for apprehending the most imminent danger to their dignity and property, and even their lives, from the fury and barbarity of papal superstition ; and how necessary it was become to form a well-connected, defensive alliance, which might prove some protec
" * Ep. II. 313. b. This, as far as I know, has never been before translated from the Latin.
tion and security against the impending storm. The Cent. diet of Spires was at hand; and if the anti-papal . xJr- , princes should have met there without previous communication of sentiment, confusion, reserve, and imbecility, must have been the consequence, instead of unanimity, courage, and strength. No time was therefore to be lost; the present moment seemed critical in the highest degree. Actuated by such views and principles, those resolute and spirited Protestants, the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse, met at Torgau, and there agreed upon a treaty of mutual defence, in opposition to the tyranny of the ecclesiastics. Their next step was to invite others to join in the alliance; and in a few weeks afterwards, at Magdeburg, they met together again, and again subscribed the same treaty, with the}addition of a considerable number of princes, who followed their example.
The Magdeburg treaty, as it is called, does Treaty of honour to the cause of the Gospel, is worthy of the Masdcburs courageous Christian characters who joined in it, and, as it seems to have been the foundation of the famous league which was afterwards formed at Smalcald, we shall find the substance of it here.
The federalists begin with praising God for his extraordinary providence, his grace, and his unspeakable mercy, in having bestowed upon them his Sacred word, which is the only true comfort, the real food of the soul, and the greatest treasure in the world. They then proceed to relate the numerous and powerful machinations with which to • • the present moment they have been disturbed, especially by the clergy and their adherents, whose object it was to deprive the people of the use of the Holy Scriptures, and of those comforts which the Scriptures afford to the heart and conscience.—They express a hope that God will continue to them this great blessing of the Bible. They were ready to have repaired to the late diet at Augsburg, there to
Chap, treat concerning religion and harmony, but were prevented by the advanced season of the year. They had now the same intentions in regard to the diet of Spires. They were convinced, they said, by the information which they received from all quarters, as also by the various meetings and discussions which had recently taken place, that factions were forming, leagues and treaties entered into, and money collected ; and all this, in the intention of maintaining by force the old abuses, of extinguishing the truths of Divine revelation, and of waging war against those princes and rulers who felt themselves bound in duty and conscience to profess and protect the Gospel in their dominions, and who injured no person living, nor committed any acts of violence whatever. Impelled therefore by their own consciences and a sense of their duty to God, it was for the reasons above mentioned, that, without meaning to offend any one, they had mutually agreed upon a plan of pure defence against the war and violence with which they appeared to be threatened ; and they hereby engaged to unite and exert every power they possessed against all those, who, under any pretence whatever, should attack them on account of their religion *.
4. Diet Of Spires.
The diet did not assemble at Spires till near the end of June, 1526, but was unusually well attended. All the electors, except one, namely, that of Brandenburg, were present.
The elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse, during the deliberations of the members, appear to have preserved a steady attention to the very prudent project which they had recently formed; judging, it would seem, that they should serve the Lutheran cause more effectually by strengthening
* Seek. 11.44. Add. II.
their Treaty Of Def Ence, than by long argu- Cent. ments and debates on points of religion, before an . TM1' assembly which contained so many bigoted ecclesiastics and selfish politicians. Accordingly, they took occasion to address the deputies of Strasburg, Nuremberg, and Augsburg, on the subject of mutual defence. They were convinced, they said, of their love of the Gospel; and there could be no doubt of the machinations of the prelates and other agents of the pope at the present time : Ought not therefore an association or an alliance to be formed on this principle, namely, that if any one should be brought into difficulty or danger on account of religion, the federalists should support one another? They added, that as they had a good opinion of the cities of Frankfort and Ulm, it might be proper to ask them also to join in the confederacy. To this the deputies replied, They had no express instruction on that subject, but they promised to be particularly careful in reporting the proposal to their masters.
Several of the Lutheran divines * were present at this diet, and were heard in explanation of the doctrines of the Reformers ; but; not without much troublesome though ineffectual objection on the part of the papal princes, under the pretext of avoiding commotions. Ferdinand also made a smooth and plausible harangue to the deputies of all the States of the empire. " Himself, his brother the emperor, and the house of Austria, were bound to them by the ties of affection." He therefore warned them not to be led astray by the persuasions of certain persons ; and finally exhorted them to exhibit a disposition to obey their lawful sovereign. But these mild terms, it is to be observed, were not used by Ferdinand till near the conclusion of the diet; when he had found, by experience, that neither himself nor the imperial ministers, nor the bishops, had * Georg. Spalatinus, and Johannes Agricola.
been able, by their menaces, to overawe those resolute and determined Germans.
At the opening of the diet, the emperor's representative informed the members, it was the pleasure of his imperial highness, that in the first place, they should proceed to determine the best method of securing the Christian religion, and the ancient usages of the church;—then how they should punish offenders, and compel to obedience such as forcibly resisted their injunctions; also, how they could unite their mutual and effective efforts to procure the execution of the edict of Worms, which was now of five years standing. Upon this, the diet selected a committee, composed of bishops, secular princes, and leading senators, who should propose regulations for the adjustment of the religious differences. But the emperor's representatives interposed, by saying, that it would be most to the purpose for them to read to the diet the instructions which they had received from their master ; this would best ensure obedience to him, and prevent that loss of time which the committee might otherwise spend on subjects to which their authority did not extend. They then read the emperor's mandate from Seville, as given above, at page 436.
Most of the deputies 'answered in writing, That it had been fully proved to the pope's legate, in a former diet, that it was then absolutely impossible to execute the edict of Worms, through fear of the commotions which would arise: That now the attempt was become abundantly more difficult; because the religious disputes were daily increasing, especially about ceremonies and abuses: That the emperor, were he present, would form the same judgment.—Moreover, in regard to the promise of a general council, that promise was made by the emperor when in treaty with his holiness; but that, since the date of the emperor's letters, the pope had changed sides, and ordered his forces to act Cent. against his imperial majesty. What prospect then t XJL . could there be of a general council 1 Under such circumstances, it was their opinion that the emperor's leave should be asked to call a provincial Germanic council ; that either delay, or an attempt to execute the edict of Worms, was unspeakably dangerous; and that therefore if his imperial majesty did not approve of the expedient of calling such a council, he should be entreated to dispense with the execution of the aforesaid edict, till a general council could be called. Such, they said, had been the plan of the last diet of Nuremberg, and that since their intended convention at Spires had been interdicted by the emperor, the expectations of many of the States had been disappointed, and the disposition to tumult and civil war much increased. That, in fact, the rebellion of the peasants might have been avoided, if attention had been paid to the representation of the grievances which the country suffered from the ecclesiastics. That in those districts where a reformation had taken place, the disturbances had been slight, and presently quieted. That they had made no changes whatever, in that true and holy faith which was founded in Christ, and his eternal immutable word; neither had they rejected any ceremonies, but what were contrary to the Scriptures. Lastly, they observed emphatically, That in a state of discord, uncertainty, and anxiety, respecting their own condition, men could not be much disposed to contribute their money liberally to the assistance of others.
After this, the deputies, in a distinct memorial, A distinct ventured to point out certain practices, which they £feth°"al thought called for alteration or entire abolition, deputies. In every town, they said, the poor inhabitants were burdened with what were denominated mendicant monks. These stripped men of the comforts of life ;
Chap, and, in many cases, procured legacies and estates to _xjv- , be devised to them by dying persons. These things were mischievous to the last degree, and called loudly for correction. The ecclesiastics, also, ought no longer to enjoy those immunities, for the granting of which the reasons now no longer existed. Also, the number of holidays ought to be lessened ; the distinction of meats abolished; and, above all, the free course of the Gospel should not be impeded *.
Such bold and prudent remonstrances as these must have given the pontifical partisans an insight into the steady character of the German reformers. In particular the elector of Saxony most strictly enjoined his counsellors to beware of the corrupt arts of the bishops, and to stand inflexibly firm to the cause of the Gospel. It was, however, chiefly through the numerous suffrages of the towns and cities, and especially those of the higher Germany, that the Reformers acquired so considerable an ascendant in this diet "f.
The leading ecclesiastics, who, as Father Paul acutely observes \.r had no other aim but the preservation of their own authority, maintained, that now, during the discord between the emperor and the pope, it was impossible to come to any decisive conclusions respecting the religious dissensions ; and that therefore that business had better be deferred to a more favourable juncture. No doubt they conceived, that, as dignified ecclesiastics, both their authority and their revenues would be more effectually supported by the pope acting at a future time in concert with the emperor, than by the emperor alone in the present circumstances.
The members also of the select committee before mentioned differed so exceedingly among each other, and the opposition to any reformation was conducted with such prodigious heat and acrimony, that there seemed to be an end to all sober dehbe* Sleidan, 149. f Ibid. 148. J P. 34.
ration. Spalatinus's observation on what he saw at Cent. this diet is, that " Christ was extremely odious to XVL the Pharisees." He adds, that neither the elector nor the landgrave were allowed to have their own chaplains in the churches ; and that on this account these princes caused sermons to be preached in the vestibules of their hotels, where many thousands of people were collected together to hear the doctrines of the Gospel *.
Disgusted with such violent and unprincipled Elector of proceedings, and seeing no prospect of an amicable lXnAmn conclusion, these good princes and their adherents °fHesse meditated to withdraw themselves from the diet, and d"g'"ted■ return home. Ferdinand instantly took the alarm, convinced that, if the assembly should break up in their present state of animosity and exasperation, without making any decree, all Germany would be in a flame. He had moreover received recent information, that the Turks had advanced into Hungary, and also that France, England, and the pope, were in treaty against the emperor. In this critical conjuncture he wisely determined to recommend moderation and harmony to the contending parties ; and at length, by using gentle and soothing language, with the assistance of the archbishop of Treves, he seems to have prevented a most mischievous rupture in the diet, and to have produced among fits members a more pacific and practicable disposition. The difficulty still remained, to determine in what terms the decree, Or The Recess, should be expressed, so as to be sufficiently respectful to the emperor, and yet perfectly consistent with what had been proved, after long and warm altercations, to be the sentiments of a great majority of the deputies. At last, the Reformers suggested the following expedient, which was consented to by the whole assembly; " That the welfare of religion, TeTnBof and the maintenance of the public peace, made it *e * Comm. de. Luth. Add. IU. p. 45v Mabnfc. II. g.
Chap, necessary that a general, or at least a national coun. xlv- , cil, should be called, to commence within the space of a year; that the emperor should, by a solemn address, be requested to procure such a council; and that, in regard to ecclesiastical concerns and the edict of Worms, the princes and States should in the mean time, till either one or the other sort of council was called, undertake so to conduct themselves in their respective provinces, as to give to God and to the emperor a good account of their administration*."
Thus terminated, in a manner more advantageous to the Lutherans than they could have expected, the diet of Spires. The resolution of T H E R E c E s s, it is true, was but evasive; yet such were the existing circumstances, that a truce of this sort answered all the purposes which the most zealous friends of the Reformation could desire. Their divines preached and wrote with greater confidence and less molestation ; and the anti-papal dispositions increased both in strength and numbers. It was natural that those who already had rejected the Romish superstitions should proceed more vigorously, during such a season of liberty, in digesting and maturing their new systems of ecclesiastical government: and also, that several princes or States, who through timidity or danger had hitherto with reluctance continued in close communion with the establishment, should now grow cold in the cause they had long disliked, or perhaps renounce at once, if circumstances permitted them, that corrupt communion, and adopt the new model of worship and church government already made to their hands in the electorate of Saxony. And such, we are told, were the real effects of the ambiguous decree of the diet of Spires in 1526 f. Rom be- We have not yet mentioned how much the beauty
thVutiie- an^ excellence ofpure evangelical principles showed r»n princes themselves at the diet of Spires, in the exterior con
st the diet.
• Sleid. 150,
f Laur. Mosh. 666. Helmstad. Ed.
duct of the Lutheran princes. The landgrave of Hesse, about a week before the meeting of the diet, represented to John Frederic, the son of the elector, how necessary it was, that those, who pretended to be advocates for reformation of doctrine, should themselves be careful to exhibit examples of good moral conduct in their own families. He entreated the young prince to state this matter seriously to his father; and thereby prevent the debauchery, and drinking, and other vices, which usually took place at such public seasons, among the domestics and servants of the great. " How dreadfully scandalous," said he, " and how injurious, are such practices, to the cause of the Gospel, and of the word of God ! The princes ought to set their faces most earnestly against these inveterate and impious abuses; and, by so doing, they would acquire both signal advantage and honour. Nay," added he, " they must do so, unless they mean to bring on themselves the worst of evils, and even the loss of their own souls." The elector received the admonition like a good Christian, and enjoined his whole retinue to observe the most laudable regulations. And thus these good protestants and their families, who have been reviled by papal historians for breaking the Roman catholic rules concerning fasts and meats and drinks, during their residence at Spires, were in fact adorning their profession, by temperance, soberness, and chastity *.
Whatever be our religious principles, provided only they be near our hearts, we find they infallibly direct our practice. Thus every true Roman-catholic lays immense stress on the doctrine of Transubstantiation. And agreeably to this faith, the Swiss historian Hospinian informs us, that John Faber, vicar of the bishop of Constance, was at the diet of Spires, and there, with many tears, conjured the assembly, if they did nothing else, at least to take special care that Christ himself, and of course * Com. de Luth. Ibid. ■
VOL. v. Go
Chap, all the salvation by Christ, was not taken away, from v X1V' , them, by trampling on his body. This attempt, he said, was now in the contemplation of those men who denied the Real Corporeal Presence of Christ in the Sacrament. The same historian observes that the popish divines were well aware that the doctrine of the real presence is the very foundation of their religion; and that if it be once taken away, there is an end both of their dignity and of their gain *.
5. The Reformation In Hesse By The Landgrave.
Reform*- The ardent temper of Philip, the landgrave of *u>n in Hesse, was a remarkable contrast to the cautious dilatory disposition of the late elector of Saxony. Unmoved by the pressing solicitations of the duke George his father-in-law, and also of his mother Anne of Mecklenburg, the landgrave, immediately upon his return from the diet of Spires, earnestly endeavoured to carryforward the Reformation which in some degree was already begun in his dominions* Melancthon, who had been consulted on this occasion, attempted to check the fervour of this prince, by a letter full of good sense, yet savouring a little of the natural timidity of the writer f. He advised him by all means, in the present critical times, to proceed by gradual advances, and never to lose sight of the grand distinction between things essential, and things in their very nature indifferent. The preachers on the side of the Reformation, he said, were often as quarrelsome as the papists themselves, if not more so on some occasions; and frequently the difference was about mere trifles. A public teacher should not only inculcate faith, but also the fear of God, and uersal charity and obedience to magistrates. He dreaded a civil war, and would rather die than live at such a time. The Romish ecclesiastics instigate * Hosp. II. 4s. b. t Gerdes II. 165.
to war: why do not the rest exhort men to gain a Cent, knowledge of the subject, and in the mean time to . X^L , keep the peace ? " Your highness," continued Melancthon, " I am convinced, might do a great deal with the princes, if you would exhort them to take pains to understand the several points in dispute, and endeavour to terminate the ecclesiastical contentions *."
The landgrave, not quite satisfied with the luke- Tiie Landwarm advice of Melancthon, and anxious to have
' sisted by
the pure Gospel of Christ taught in all the churches Francis under his jurisdiction, appointed an ecclesiastical Lamberl. synod to be held at Homburg, in the month of Oc- A" D' tober 1526, for the express purpose of determining 1520. the peculiar and distinguishing doctrines of the Reformation. Moreover, in this important business he was assisted by a French divine of excellent character, named Francis Lambert, who first composed a summary of pure evangelical doctrine and of the errors of the church of Rome, then published his propositions, and afterwards boldly presented himself before the synod and a great multitude of Hessians, as an advocate and defender of the system which he had submitted to the general inspection and judgment. The landgrave and his chancellor were present, and allowed perfect freedom of discussion; but as no material opposition was made to the propositions of Lambert, and as they were completely Lutheran in their purport, it may be sufficient to conclude this article with a brief account of their author.
" There is no doubt," says Luther to Spalatinus, " of the integrity of Lambert: we have witnesses who heard him preach, both in France and at Basil; and they all give the man a good character. He is of a noble family, but has been a Minor friar during 4he space of twenty years, and is now a poor persecuted exile for having been faithful to the Word of • Lib. III. 16. Ep. Melancth. ;
God. At present he is with us at Wittemberg; and though we have no want of lectures, we shall endeavour to employ him. He pleases me in all respects ; and I am satisfied he is one who deserves a little help from us in his poverty: but you, who know that I live at the expense of other persons, must also know that I have not an income to support him. It might not be amiss for you to persuade the prince not to lose this good man, but in Christian charity to afford him some small assistance till he can support himself, either by his own industry, or by what he may receive from his relations V
Another author of unquestionable veracity describes this same Frenchman to be a person who excelled in piety, genius, and learning, and who was able powerfully to convince gainsayers, and stop their mouths. During his residence at Wittemberg, he wrote comments on the Prophets, on Solomon's Song, and the Gospel of St. Luke, and dedicated them to the elector j". He seems to have agreed with Luther in all the fundamental points of religion. In his twenty-second proposition at Homburg, he thus speaks of faith and justification: " We are not justified by a mere historical faith; but by a real lively trust in God,—and this without any works of obedience even to the law of God : much less then are we justified by any works of our own contrivance. Such a faith, however, is always fruitful, and produces a willing obedience: it also makes a man free ; yet not free so as to be absolved from obedience to magistrates. Neither can it possibly be, that a faithful soul should abuse true Christian liberty. The man who does abuse it, is not in possession of true Christian faith J."
Under the auspices of an adviser like Lambert, we need not wonder that the new system of doctrine and discipline, which the landgrave promoted in
• Ep.ll. ifli. f Chytrsus, XII.346.
t Scult. xxvi. 28.
Hesse, had all the principal features of the Refor" mation in Saxony. Soon after the synod of Homburg, he ordered the monks and nuns to leave the monasteries; and by means of their revenues he founded several hospitals, and also an uersity at Marpurg. He directed the images to be taken out of the churches, and appointed faithful ministers in each of them; and among his various new institutions, he remembered to fix the poor exile Lambert in the professorship of divinity of Marpurg, where the good man died at an advanced age, in the year 1530*.
6. Luther's Sentiments Respecting War And Defence.— His Labours.
During these transactions, and while the labours tmtitu•i of the reformers were crowned with such signal sue- Tn""TM*" cess, Martin Luther, who was never behind any of "*t«1ce. them in zeal, industry, and exertion, exhibited to the world a brilliant specimen of the purity of his principles, and of his entire submission to the injunctions of the Gospel. We have already seen that the accession of the landgrave to the Lutheran cause had considerable influence in Germany. The gentle, pacific decree of the diet of Spires is a proof of this ; and so is the commencement of a defensive confederacy, and the progress made in that prudent measure. But it was not without difficulty, it should seem, that this bold and enterprising prince, in the vigour of youth, and conscious of the goodness of his intentions, could be restrained within the limits of defensive operations. John the Constant, however, under the direction of a sounder discretion, aud probably of a more scrupulous conscience, checked this hasty disposition, to take up arms, and in the mean time consulted Luther on the momentous practical question Of Resistance. As this very. * Scult. xxvi. p. 31. Chytr. 346. Comm. de Luth. II. XIV.
Chap, circumstance evinces the high estimation in which X*V- . our Reformer was then held as a sage divine and an honest casuist, the reader will do well to consider, whether the answers which he gave on this occasion correspond to the opinion undeniably prevalent at that time, respecting his superior wisdom and integrity. The following judgment of Luther Was con* veyed to the elector through the medium of his chancellor Pontanus.—" That the elector of Saxony had no superior but one, namely, the emperor; and that therefore he was justified in defending his own subjects, and also in repelling any violent acts of his adversaries among the princes.—That if the ecclesiastical princes, or their allies, should pretend to have the emperor's orders, the elector was not bound to believe them ; that he had a right to presume such orders to be surreptitious ; for that Charles v. was in Spain, and that his letters to the elector breathed nothing but kindness and peace.—That if the edict of Worms should be made the pretext, the answer should be, It was notorious that that edict was fabricated without the consent of the princes, and against the consent of the leading ones ; that the prelates, and they only, had concurred in it; that it had in fact been abrogated by the decrees of Nuremberg and of Spires ; that therefore all attempts of the princes and States to execute the said edict, were unjust, and might be resisted with a good conscience."
■ctioDsbT ^ne n'ce anc^ delicate question remained still to uther. be answered.—What was to be done, supposing that the emperor should avowedly arm the adverse party with his authority ?—A puzzlingquestion this; and which probably has never yet received, nor can receive, a better answer than that which Luther gave to it;
" That the elector and his friends would still be at liberty to protest and remonstrate; that in that way the rights of the princes might be preserved, and the fraudulent practices of their adversaries de- Cent.
tected ; and that in every event, Time Would Be ( XVL .
Gained By This Step:—and lastly," says Luther, " God will take care of the rest."
He then deprecates, in the strongest terms, every idea of commencing an offensive war, or any war otherwise than against aggressors, agreeably to the grand rule, " They that take the sword, shall perish by the sword." Lastly, he concludes with these remarkable words :
'' If the landgrave will not act consistently with these principles, but will at all events have recourse to arms, it will be better for the elector to dissolve the alliance at once.—But not so, in case force should be used against the elector, or the landgrave, or their allies ; they will then have a right to repel force by force *."
There is no part of Luther's character which appears to have been less understood, or more misrepresented, than that of his quiet peaceable disposition as a citizen, and in general a member of civil society. From the strong language which he often uses against popish abuses and corruptions, and from the vigorous efforts he made to correct or reform them, he has been too hastily pronounced to be a man of a turbulent and seditious stamp.
There is however an abundance of testimonies produced in various parts of this volume, which must prove satisfactorily that there is no ground whatever for such an opinion ; and moreover, that directly the contrary is the truth : but these testimonies have been almost entirely either suppressed or disregarded by modern historians.
The same valuable memoir on the question of Re- Hints to the Sistance contains another piece of admirable advice ulcrgv of which Luther gave to the elector; namely, lhat his highness would do well, seriously and in writing to
* Comm de Luth. XVIII. 3.
°xiv' admonish his clergy of their neglect of duty, and to *-L~^L^ tell them, that this was so very great, as to have compelled him to take the matter into consideration himself : that the salvation of men's souls, as well as the peace of the community, in these times of dispute and contention, imperiously required him to ensure better instructions from the pulpit: And, as a clear proof that these were the sole objects of his present monition, he should content himself with earnestly entreating them to promote among his subjects pure Evangelical doctrine, and to cultivate a spirit of tranquillity and concord; but that if, after all, they should fail to do this, he would no longer run the hazard of tumults in his dominions; he would no longer bear their neglect and opposition to the Gospel, nor any longer be a partaker in their guilt*.
At the conclusion of this wise counsel, Luther adds a remarkable clause, to this effect:
" I have persuaded myself that such a step on the part of the elector may be useful, by demonstrating to mankind the purity of the motives of the reformers, and by affording comfort afterwards to their own consciences, in the reflection that they can say, truly,—" Nothing, which was not directly opposite to the word of God, was left untried for the prevention of a rupture with the superior clergy." The war It may not be improper in this place to give a Turks!— brief account of Luther's sentiments concerning the Luther^ war with the Turks. The Hungarian ambassadors
imtiraenls. keen ^ ^& ja^e Qf gpireSj to Solicit
assistance against them; but through the excessive folly and presumption of Lewis II. king of Hungary, Solyman, who was then invading his kingdom at the head of 300,000 men, obtained a decisive victory in the plains of Mohacz, on the 29th of August J526, only two days after the recess of the diet. In this fatal battle the flower of
• Comm. de Luth. XVIII. 4 & 5.
the Hungarian nobility perished, with upwards of Cent. 20,000 men ; and Lewis was drowned in his flight*. ,. , The victorious Sultan, after overrunning Hungary, penetrated into Austria, and even besieged Vienna. This progress of the infidels was truly alarming; and an indistinct notion prevailed, that the reformers thought it wicked to fight against the Turks. In such circumstances it became the duty of a man who possessed the power of directing the judgment of so many thousands of the inhabitants of Germany to speak plainly, and to rectify such misconceptions as might prove injurious to the safety of his country. The duty of a Christian soldier was a point which Luther had deeply considered ; and in forming conclusions on the subject, he constantly rested with an implicit obedience on what he conceived to be the Divine will, as revealed in Scripture.
It was in the year 1529, when the enemy was Luther -xeven at the door, that our author published, in the |!,orl5lhe German language, a little tract, lor the purpose 01 oppu»« the rousing his countrymen to take up arms in the com- 1"rk*' mon defence.—In this performance he chides se- A. Dverely the common people, who, he understood, had 1529shown themselves so ignorant and barbarous as to express wishes for the success of the Turks; and at the same time he blames the preachers for having dissuaded their congregations from being concerned in this war, and for representing the profession of arms as unlawful. It was [painful to him to find himself calumniated as the cause of the present irruption of the infidels, as he had been also of the rebellion of the peasants; but there was no ground whatever for the charge. He did not deny, he said, that formerly he had maintained, " That to fight against the Turks was to fly in the face of God himself, who was visiting us for our sins ; and that this was one of the positions which had been selected * Dupin. Robertson.
from his writings, and condemned in the bull of Leo X. But, he asked, what were the existing- circumstances at that time ? The dignity of magistrates and governors was oppressed, and held in no estimation; and the pope exercised an usurped domination over all the princes. He affirmed that he himself was the first who had opened men's eyes on that subject,—to the great satisfaction of the late elector Frederic. In fact, the war with the Turks was then the war of the pope; it was an offensive war, and a war founded on no good principle : it was made a pretence for exhausting Germany of its money by the sale of indulgences: and neither penitence nor amendment of life,—without which it is vain to hope for success in war,—was so much as thought of. Moreover, it was at the same time pretended to be the peculiar duty of Christians to take up arms against the infidels; whereas he scrupled not to profess an opinion directly opposite. He conceived, that the duties of men, considered as Christians, consisted in things of a very different nature; and that the kingdom of Christ was not of this world. Still less had the pope and the clergy to do with wars; and no success could be expected, where bishops and priests neglected their proper functions, and gave attention to military concerns. He had been told, on good authority, that Francis I. well deserved his late defeat at Pavia, for having made an alliance with the pope, and taught his army to view the contest in which they were engaged as the cause of The Church, and to use the word Church as a watch-word.
Further; had there really existed, at the time above mentioned, any threatening symptoms of war, Luther said, he would have taken care to have made his meaning more clear and distinct. At present, the circumstances were very much altered : the war was become strictly defensive; the enemy had no just ground for waging war at all against the ChrisREGULATIONS IN THE SAXON CHURCHES. 459
tians; and their objects were purely plunder and Cent. murder. Such an invader might be resisted with a v XV1- ^ good prospect of success, even by Christians with the emperor at their head. But then the Christian soldier ought seriously to turn to God in prayer, both public and private, and no longer lay stress on processions, private masses, and invocations of saints. The emperor also should not wage the war, to gratify ambition and a thirst for glory, but consider himself as the leading prince, and as placed in that situation by Almighty God to discharge well the great duty of conducting the defensive operations of the people. All the princes ought to view the matter in the same light, and no longer contend in the diets for precedence, or consume their incomes in luxury. These, also, said he, are the points upon which the pope's legates ought strenuously to insist at the meetings of the diets, instead of squabbling with Luther about fastings and the marriages of the monks.—There appears throughout this little work much of the author's native candour1 and vigour of mind, and of his reverence for the written Word*.
It was to be expected, from the active spirit of Regulation* Luther, that he should employ to some important L^urcnes*0" purposes that precious interval of tranquillity which b> Luther, the church enjoyed after the diet of Spires.—The regulation and improvement of the liturgies and rites of those churches which had embraced thenew doctrinal system of the reformers, was an object well worthy the serious attention of that able pilot who had safely conducted his vessel through so many shelves, and rocks, and tempests. He proceeded in this business with the utmost caution and modesty: he published the new mode of administering the sa-> Crament, adopted in the last year at Wittemberg; but in his preface he says, " Far be from me the af-< fiectation of requiring other persons either to follow1 * Comment, de Luth. II. LII
our example, or to alter any good formularies at present in use. The plan here proposed has its merit; but I am in no wise prejudiced in its favour to the exclusion of others." In the next place he provided homilies to be read by such ministers as had not the gift of preaching,—a very necessary precaution, while Evangelical knowledge was at so low an ebb. He also recommended the study of the Latin tongue throughout the dominions of the elector of Saxony, that there might be men capable of instructing foreign nations; lest, like the Waldenses in Bohemia, they should not be able to communicate Christian information to any who did not understand the language of their teachers. Further; the catechising of youth was one of Luther's favourite objects : then the exposition of the creed, of the Lord's prayer, and of the ten commandments, he insisted on as of the highest moment; and thus, by the use of moderate and conciliatory methods, though the advances towards perfectionwere gradual, the public order of religion, through the indefatigable labours of this eminent servant of God, in no great length of time, wore a new aspect in Saxony, to the unspeakable benefit of that country *.
One of Luther's publications, in the year 1526, was an exposition of certain Psalms ; and was intended by its author to serve a peculiar good purpose, beyond the instruction which it might afford to his countrymen in Saxony.—He inscribed the work to Mary of Austria, the relict of Lewis king of Hungary, whose miserable death in flight we have mentioned above f. This princess was the sister of Charles V., and of Ferdinand, who succeeded to the kingdom of Hungary. Our author had conceived hopes she would tread in the steps of her sister, the queen of Denmark J, and that family afflictions might, under divine Providence, operate in a similar manner to her spiritual good.—In his dedication, he tells the queen, that with much delight he had * Com. de Luth. II. XX. J Page 457. X Page 128.
heard of her good will to the Gospel; and had purposed to entreat her to promote with all her might the cause of God's word in Hungary, and to protect the innocent from the persecutions which, he understood, they suffered from the powerful and tyrannical prelates; but that having now heard the sad story of the king's death, he should content himself with suggesting to her mind some consolatory reflections, drawn from the best and truest source of comfort, the sacred Scriptures.—With his usual frankness he takes occasion to explain to her the nature of the Evangelical cause, which he himself had now supported for some years past; as also the iniquity of that bitter hostility which he had experienced from the Roman See. With a dignified elevation of style, he vindicates the courageous, the innocent, and, in general, the truly religious character of John Huss; and, lastly, he reminds the princess of the instability of all human power and grandeur, and exposes the vanity of placing any hope or confidence in these. In fact, there seemed to be very fair ground for apprehending that Mary might have become an exalted ornament of Christianity. In the year 1530, she was present at the diet of Augsburg; and, while there, would not be hindered from hearing Evangelical discourses. Moreover, she boldly admonished her brother, Charles v., not to suffer himself to be duped by his clergy, as her husband Lewis, and her brother Ferdinand, had been. Alas! prosperity afterwards severely tried the soundness of the religion of this princess, as it has done in thousands of other instances. Being called to the administration of the government of the Low Countries, which had long been the scene of most barbarous papal persecutions, she avoided the suspicion of Lutheranism, and is said to have returned back to the profession of Popery. It is however recorded to her praise, that she conducted herself with singular prudence and moderation. So mild and pacific
Chap, were the principles of Mary, that when Charles V. . X*V- , delivered over to his son Philip the care and management of his Belgian provinces, he recalled his sister into Spain; suspecting that her counsels would rather obstruct, than promote the objects which he had then in view. It is remarkable, that a kind Providence should have favoured this emperor with the instructive warning of having had Two sisters who listened to the precious invitation of Evangelical religion: and it does not seem improbable, that the consideration of the dealings of God with his female near relatives should have made some useful impressions on his mind in the latest scenes of his life.
Henckeii, Mary had a favourite chaplain, named John SainCufap Henckeii, a man of excellent principles, one who u"Jat is favoured the Lutheran cause, and was present with praSedby' the queen-dowager, at the diet of Augsburg, in
Erasmus, of whom it is now unnecessary to say that he grew daily more and more hostile to Lutheranism, wrote to this good divine a long letter, penned with all that ambiguous prudence, guarded artifice, and malignant insinuation, which have fixed the most indelible stains on the character of this eminent scholar. The composition is a perfect masterpiece in Erasmus's way. It has been well criticised by the pious Seckendorf, who pronounces this epistle as meriting most peculiar notice, " if there be any one that does so in all the large volume." Erasmus had heard of Henckell's propensity to the Reformers, and particularly of the good opinion which he had conceived of Luther. He writes to him with a manifest intent to undermine as much as possible, and even blacken the motives of the Saxon divine; and it must be owned that he executes his purpose with the most consummate address. Indirectly, Erasmus extols himself, abuses the monks, * ^palatfnus'8 Account. Com. de Luth. (I. XXII. 6.
describes the evils which prevailed in the church Cent. before the commencement of the Lutheran contro- t xyr' versy, and laments pathetically the faults on both • sides. He equally disapproves of the cruel persecutions of the Romanists, and the vociferations of the upstart preachers, many of whom, he says, were persons of a contemptible and infamous character:— They talked of Gospel doctrine, but where, he asks, were we to look for Gospel fruit? He owned he had formerly conceived some good hopes of Luther; but, says Erasmus, I speak from knowledge, when I say, he suffers himself to be played upon, by vain, empty persons, who are incapable of advising him on the most trifling subject*. He boasts, that he< foresaw the religious differences would end in sedition ; thus malignantly joining the cry of the Papists, in laying to the charge of the Lutherans the late rebellion of the rustics. He then congratulates himself on his own good management, in having kept clear Of The Factiox, notwithstanding that he had been abused by the Papists, and flattered by the Protestants. Before he concludes, he plainly shows, that at that very moment, with the pen in his hand, he was smarting under the recent lashes he had received from Luther's answer to his Diatribe. But, " charity," said he, " hopeth all things : and therefore he would not give up the hope that good would still arise from the evil; especially as in some places, he artfully observes, there were springing up Gospel preachers of a different stamp from those whom he had just mentioned ; preachers, who loved the truth, but hated tumults; who adorned their doctrine by a life of integrity, and by mild agreeable manners, and who looked upon the character of a teacher of the Gospel as inconsistent with that of a buffoon."
Thus does Erasmus, with the most consummate
* Persons, who could not teach him how to bpil a cabbage. Eras. Op. III. 914.
Chap, address, point out and praise a sort of middle path . XIV' , in religion, and at the same time with a delicate The object adulation, insinuate that his friend Henckell, to ot Eraimus. whom jie was taen writing, was among the few persons who were actually treading that path. The events which followed, justify the historian in observing, that such systems of refinement and mediocrity are, in effect, perfect chimeras; that the Cross of Christ must be undergone by those who mean to glorify God, to preserve a good conscience, to rebuke, by their lives and conversation, the evil practices of the world, and to promote the salvation of mankind. Erasmus during many years was employed in his nugatory scheme; and while he courted the favour of the great, and secured himself from the danger of persecution, he promoted not one of those peculiar truths of Christian doctrine, on account of which the good Reformers suffered grievously from the tyranny of powerful princes and prelates.
Extrtcti It would detain us too long to make copious exLuihei's tracts from the discourses which Luther about this Sermon*, period, amidst his multiplied occupations, still found time to compose.
1. On the epithet, " Wonderful," applied to Christ in Isaiah ix., he makes these observations: " The man whom HE chuses to make truly godly, he causes first to feel himself almost a despairing sinner; whom he chuses to make wise, he first makes a fool; whom he chuses to make strong, he first renders weak : he delivers to death the man whom he means to quicken; he depresses to hell whomsoever he intends to exalt to heaven. . . . This is that Wonderful King, who is nearest to those from whom he seems to be the most remote."
2. On the council in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, he takes notice, that the whole multitude of the disciples seemed to stagger at the Divine promises, and would have rashly rejected the doctrine of justification by faith only, had not two or three of Cent. the apostles stood in the way, and boldly maintained that fundamental article of Christianity: That even Peter himself relapsed, in part, into the same error of self-righteousness ; an error, says he, " which is always pullulatingafresh,and which afterwards,under the papacy, became strong and influential. So little dependence is to be placed on councils, and so necessary is the aid and direction of the Holy Spirit, that men may adhere steadfastly to the word of God."
3. In another Discourse, he enters more fully into the grand question concerning faith and works, and repeats what he had now taught for years in Germany. — A few sentences may here suffice. " Satan," says he, " himself sometimes teaches the necessity of works, and introduces even good things, in order that men, by relying on their specious good deeds, may be diverted from the faith of the Gospel. I cannot insist on this too much ; for ye will find after my decease, this artifice will be practised in a manner which ye do not at present suspect. Never suppose that by your works ye are made Christians. Christ is proposed to us in a two-fold character : first, he makes us sons of God ; this is done by the Word alone, exclusive of any work: If it is his will to become yours, then you will become his; and he will save you by his blood and passion. Satan hates this doctrine, and false teachers never preach it. Secondly, Christ is proposed as our example. If his word be in my heart, I am in possession of the great commandment, that is, charity ; nevertheless, he does not expect from me, as a depraved creature, the fruits of charity, but through a new spirit, imparted to me by the hearing of his Word, and by believing on him *."
Anxious for the extension of Evangelical knowledge, the pious elector of Saxony had instituted a Anecdotes theological lecture at Wittemberg, with a salary 0f ^ Me"
* Comm. d* Luth. II. XXII. et XXIII. VOL. V. H H
Chap, two hundred florins. Melancthon, the lecturer, x*v- , scrupled to accept the salary, alleging that he had not leisure to discharge the duty properly: nor could his scruples be removed, but by an explanatory letter from the elector himself, written to him at the instance of Luther, who ventured to tell the prince, that were he to give Melancthon the proposed salary Gratis for a year or two, he would well.deserve it, having already, during two years, read very laborious and very useful lectures on the Scriptures without any salary at all. " The knowledge of the Scriptures," said Luther, " is much called for in every country; and therefore I would gladly promote a lecture of this sort. But there is no need to encroach too much on the time and strength of the lecturer : a lecture of this kind, even Once in the week, might answer the purpose."
Anecdotes like this, might seem of little consequence ; if any thing can be said to be of litde consequence, which illustrates the simplicity, the integrity, and the disinterestedness of the first Reformers.
Another instance of Luther's kind and generous attention may deserve to be noticed*. He interceded with the elector in favour of certain Franciscan monks, of the monastery of Wittemberg, who were reduced to a state of extreme indigence. " This neglect is not your fault," said he to the prince; " but there are among your courtiers those who ought to have mentioned to your highness the situation of these poor creatures. It is a disgrace to the Gospel; and who knows but there may be among them some one who shall judge us all at the last day f-"
Numerous are the proofs of the gentle steps by. which the Reformation was conducted in the electorate of Saxony, notwithstanding all the slanders of Erasmus, and the fictions of the papal historians $t
* Seek. II. Add. 64. a ff b. t Alluding to 1 Cor. vi. 2. t Such as Cochlxus, Maimbourg, PalUvicini, &e.
Indeed, if real Christians have, on any occasion, Cent. been active in promoting revolutions by violence t x^'1- , and iniquity, all we can say is, their evidence of belonging to Christ's little flock must, at that particular season, be deemed very slender and suspicious; The maxims of the Gospel are widely different from those of the world in general, or even from those of conceited theorists and lofty pretenders to Philosophy. It is, however, but too true, that the visionary notions of the latter have been much celebrated in our days; though, happily, it is at length pretty well understood, not only that they are unsupported by facts, but even confuted by the practice of the very persons who professed to adopt and defend them.
7. Persecutions Of The Reformers.
The blessed calm which the church enjoyed after Nicolas the diet of Spires, must not be understood to have n^'cura. extended beyond those provinces and districts which were under the jurisdiction of such princes and governors as were favourable to the propagation of Christian truth and liberty. In Bohemia and Hungary, Ferdinand, now king of both countries, raged against the Lutherans with all the fury which papal ignorance and superstition, exasperated by opposition, could inspire. The rigour of the persecution in Bohemia may be inferred from a single instance. A person named Nicolas Tornar, and a widow of sixty years, named Clara, suffered death in the flames with Christian fortitude, merely because they denied their belief in the corporeal presence of Christ in the Sacrament.
In Germany also, two remarkable instances of J. Hugiin. martyrdom are recorded. 1. John Hugiin, minis- gpengfc" ter of Lindau, was directed by the bishop of Constance to recant the Christian faith ; and on refusal was treated precisely as John Huss had been, that
Chap, is, degraded in the most abusive language, and then , XIV" j delivered over to the secular power. This man, while he was preparing for the fire, sang several song-s of praise with the utmost cheerfulness. 2. Peter Spengler had nothing laid to his charge, except that he had been heard to lament the blindness of the Papists, and to exhort their clergy to read their bibles. By stealth he was hurried away to Friburg, delivered over to the council of regency at Ensishem, and by them condemned to be held under water till he was dead*. George At Munich, the capital of Bavaria, George Carof'm "ich Pen*er was burnt alive in 1527, because he refused un ' to subscribe to the Romish corruptions. This sufferer, when some of his pious brethren requested him to give them, while in the flames, some sign of the firmness of his mind, answered in these memorable words, " Let this be looked upon by you as the most certain sign of the steadiness of my faith; that as long as I am able to open my mouth, or even to mutter, I will never cease to praise God, and confess the name of our Redeemer :" and it is said, the man kept his word "f\ Leonhnrd But one of the most affecting stories of this kind is the martyrdom of Leonhard CsBsar, in the same year 1527. He was born in Bavaria; and having begun to preach the Gospel, he was summoned to Passau, to answer for his conduct; and there, by imprisonment and menaces, was at length induced to recant, and was dismissed to his parish, and allowed to officiate again. Leonhard, however, was so upbraided by his conscience, and inwardly ashamed of his unfaithfulness, that, in about six months he quitted his station, and visited Wittemberg and other places where Evangelical liberty flourished. After two years absence, hearing that his father was at the point of death, he ventured to return to his own country, where the minister of the . • Scultet. XXVI. t Acta Mart, in Scult. XXVII.
village betrayed him; and Leonhard was carried to Passau, and there imprisoned during ten weeks before he underwent the least examination. At length, when reduced to a very weak condition, he was called upon to answer hastily a variety of questions, read to him by the famous Eccius of Ingolstadt, who had been sent for on purpose to interrogate, confound, and overawe the poor heretic. His own relations earnestly solicited him to retract; but finding That in vain, they begged he might be allowed to have an advocate, and also a month's respite to recruit his feeble, debilitated frame. All was refused by the popish rulers; and Leonhard was brought publicly before a solemn tribunal of the bishop and a number of canons, with Eccius among them. Then it was, that the persecuted prisoner, armed with Divine strength, rose more formidable to the powers of darkness, than if, through infirmity, he had never been guilty of a former lapse in denying the faith. His adversaries peremptorily ordered all the proceedings to be carried on in Latin, for the purpose of keeping the multitude in ignorance. But Leonhard scrupled not before the whole audience to speak German repeatedly, and to defend the doctrines he professed with prodigious spirit and animation. He was frequently interrupted by the official of the court, and told that he was not brought there to Preach. The grand protestant doctrines were the articles he maintained. " Faith alone," said he, "justifies: works are the evidences of faith; but in the act of justification, works are as distinct from faith as heaven is from the earth. The mass is no sacrifice ; neither is there any sacrifice for sin, except the blood of Christ." He refused to enter into any dispute about transnbstantiation; and contended, that it was enough to insist on the words of Christ, and to believe, that faithful communicants become real partakers of his body and blood* , This good martyr wrote from his prison to his Chap, friend Stifelius, at that time chaplain to a lady of J^^L^> distinction in Austria, in strains of the most unaffected piety, thanking God who had honoured, as he called himself, his most unworthy servant, and the greatest of sinners, with such an opportunity to confess his precious name, blessed for ever. He entreated his dear brother in Christ to pray for him, that he might remain steadfast to the end *. Much pains were taken to procure his release and dismission. Noblemen of the first distinction, even the elector of Saxony himself, interceded with the potentates of Bavaria, but all to no purpose. The popish hierarchy proceeded to degrade him, and then gave him up to the civil magistrate ; but not without first going through the usual mockery of praying that his life might be spared. His mournful relations, entirely against his own wishes, made their last effort to obtain the poor favour, that their kinsman might be allowed to die by the sword instead of the flames. But the stern duke of Bavaria, instigated no doubt by his priests, issued a peremptory mandate, " for committing the incorrigible heretic alive to the flames." The pa- • The man's patience, and constancy in prayer, the 'onsitnc^ ar<^our of his soul, and his confidence towards God, of Leon- are described as beyond belief. When the dreadhl"d• ful moment came, and he was placed on the pile, be said, " O Lord Jesus, partake in my sufferings; support me, give me strength;" and, lastly, as soon as the fire began to burn, he cried out with a loud voice, " Save me, Jesus; I am thine!" and soon after expired. Luther was vehemently affected with this tragedy; and professed himself ashamed, as he had done on former occasions, that he had not et been thought worthy of martyrdom. " Oh," said e, " that I might witness such a confession, arid suffer such a death! but God's will be done! Oh, ye persecutors, if ye thus thirst after blood and car
l • • » • . * Ep. II. 329, by Aurifaber. v
nage, why do ye not turn your arms against the Cent. Turks? For after all, ye cannot oppress the cause \-JL^L_ of God. I gave you Gamaliel's advice when I was before the emperor at Worms: but all is in vain*."
To their common friend, Stifelius, he speaks thus of the death of Leonhard. " Oh wretched me— how far below this man am I! I am a wordy preacher, he a powerful performer. May Christ grant that we may be enabled to imitate this holy character "f!"