FROM THE PERSECUTIONS, AFTER THE FIRST ' DIET OF SPIliES, TO THE VISITATION OF THE ELECTORATE OF SAXONY.
1. Luther's Temptations.
2. Narratives Of Bugenhagius And Of Jonas.
3. Distinction Between Deep Religious Con
Cern, And Constitutional Melancholy.
4. Luther's Quarrel With George Of Saxony.
5. Visitation Of The Electorate Of Saxony.
i. Lutheky Temptations,
But Providence had designed trials for Luther, more calculated to humble and subdue his spirit, and to perfect 4ie strength of God in his weakness, even than martyrdom itself. The uncommon sue
* Alt. III. 793. In S. p. 85,, , t Ep. II. 355.
Chap, cess with which his labours had been crowned, the > XJ" t celebrity of his character, the favour of princes and nobles, and the admiration in which he was held by all the professors of Evangelical truth, were circumstances which had a strong tendency to exalt him in his own eyes, especially when the native firmness and intrepidity of his temper, is taken into the acTbe natural count. In fact, however, this extraordinary man of°Lutne?s nad never been without a thorn in the flesh*, which mind. proved an effectual counterpoise to all his attainments and all his successes, and prevented him from being " exalted above measure."—What was the nature of that thorn in the flesh, which disturbed the tranquillity of St. Paul, it may not be easy to form even a probable conjecture; but in regard to Luther, his case may be understood without much difficulty by those who are conversant in his writings, and who themselves have, in some degree, tasted of the grace of God in the Christian life.— It was not a propensity to carnal gratifications, but to a Peculiar species of spiritual pride and selfrighteousness. I call it peculiar, not because many of the very wisest and best of Christians have not felt the same evil from age to age, but for the purpose of distinguishing it from that more common, and more dangerous sort of pretension to spirituality, which leads the mind to boast of its attainments, and to rest in an Antinomian security. Persons of this latter stamp are usually careless and easy; and in the end, frequently prove altogether unsound. Those of the former, rarely or never do so; and for this reason^—there is in their character, at bottom, a profound humility, together with a quick and lively sense of the evil of sin. Their defect properly consists in unbelief. The fulness, the freeness, the extent of the loving-kindness ofrfcrod in redemption, is veiled from their eyes : they cannot believe that God is so plenteous in goodness and mercy, as " " • " * 2 Cor. xii.
in Scripture he is represented to be; and hence, Cent. as a consequence of this blindness, proceeds that , XVI- , Peculiar sort of self-righteousness, so destructive of Evangelical comfort. They are too wicked, they think, to be saved just as they are : they must make themselves, at least Something better before they are entitled to mercy. Thus, notwithstanding all the real humility of this character, there is in it still some mixture of pride, which is only to be subdued at the Cross of Christ, where the true penitent sinner at length learns, that the very way to frustrate the mercy of God is to mix, in the great concern of justification, any of his own petty performances with the merits of the Redeemer.
In the meantime, the malicious policy of Satan The policy is, to let alone the spiritually proud Antinomian; "^J"TM that is, to leave him pleased with his own attain- Aiitiaomian ments and regardless of personal holiness, while he buffets, with all his might, the poor Christian soldier of Luther's opposite temperament. Here, by his artful temptations, he works secretly upon what is called in Scripture, the Old Man; and by false imaginations and plausible reasonings, endeavours to reduce the soul to despair, to hide from it the consolations of the Divine promises, and to drive the distressed sinner into a state of legal bondage, or even into Atheism itself. In the active scenes of Luther's life, in the distress of his external persecutions, in the heat of his controversies, in his wars with the papacy, or even in his pacific employments ; of preaching and writing comments on the word of God, little or nothing of this sort appears ;—it is in his closet, in his conversations with his intimates, with his parish priest, or his wife, or when his fellowlabourers vex and irritate him by their opposition : or, lastly, when his own health and spirits are broken down by incessant toils, and cares, and watchings, these are the seasons when In Private we may expect to see the Saxon hero of the Reformation,
Char more Or less, according to circumstances, in a state v_^i_ of imbecility and confusion of mind, or even of fear, anxiety, complaint, and tribulation *.
But be it remembered that, extreme cases excepted, there is in the public deportment of Luther no material difference to be observed. He thinks, he reasons, he writes, he preaches, precisely in the same manner f. Nay, he knows how to give the very best spiritual advice to those who apply to him under afflictions similar to his own. He even sometimes jests with such persons with a view to do them good, when he thinks their case calls for encouragement to cheerfulness; and yet internally, he is perhaps much disposed to blame himself for having gone > too far in that way. It is recorded, that on one
occasion, he cried out, " People conclude from my i ordinary, gay conversation, that I walk on beds of
roses and on nothing else; but God knows what I daily feel All this may appear strange and contradictory to those who have not been conversant with such things: The solution is; Christ, The Head Of The Church, both protects its members from delusion, and at the same time disciplines his ablest servants by afflictions; and though sometimes the thorns in the flesh, called messengers of Satan §, may cause great tumult and distress in the souls of faithful ministers of the Gospel, such trials shall not ultimately avail, either to the subversion of doctrine, or the declension of godliness. The great That great defect in meekness, which is constantly Lother** *° De deplored in the character of the Saxon Reforcharacter. mer, as it doubtless gave the tempter a great advantage over him, so did it require the very discipline and chastisement here described. By a strong and piercing understanding, Luther had discovered the revealed remedy of our fallen nature, and enforced the use of it with almost unexampled wisdom and
* Narratio Pomerani, II. 337. t Ibid. 341. b.
t i Ibid. 337. J 4 3 Cor. xii.
energy; nevertheless, this great physician fails to Cent.
apply, in his own malady, the efficacious medicines . XV1, , he has so often prescribed with success to others.
Early in 1527, we behold that high unconquered Luthtr
spirit, which stood calm and secure amidst the ,eJ.crel-'.
r . . , . afflicted in
rage 01 popes and princes, lie prostrate under the mind,
pressure of internal temptation. An infectious dis-
order prevailed at Wittemberg, and the elector
ordered the academics to retire to Jena; but Luther
thought it his duty not to desert his flock. At the
same time he severely, but justly rebuked several,
who when in health had altogether neglected the
Sacrament, and now in the hour of danger eagerly
pressed for the administration of it, even at the
peril of the minister's life.
In the course of this year, he suffered much, and Causes of for a considerable time together, from bodily com- huaffllcUu". plaints, and thereby became extremely debilitated afterwards ; but it does not at all appear that he was attacked by the prevailing epidemic : that disorder however was in his house for many months, and his wife was at that time pregnant.—No wonder, therefore, that he should describe his spirits as weak and agitated, and often oppressed with fears and perturbations. Then it was that Satan seems to have taken the advantage, to inject his fiery darts into the mind of this devoted servant of God, at a time when almost every object appeared grievous and alarming to his irritable imagination. The dilapidation of the ecclesiastical revenues by the avarice and rapacity of the noblemen *, who took advantage of the excessive good nature of the elector, was one serious affliction to the mind of Luther ; who, in regard to his own personal condition, was perfectly disinterested, and was only anxious, that through the means of judicious and economical regulations, there might be sufficient funds for the improvement, extension, and new foundation of various • Com. de Luth, XXIX. 3..
Chap, protestant establishments. Then the opposition .. . v* . of the Sacramentarian reformers gave him sensible uneasiness * ; though in this he certainly ought to have confessed, that his chief suffering arose from the mortification of his pride, and that he had no very material reason to complain of want of respect on the part of those godly persons, namely, Zuingle, Ecolampadius, and others whom he ought joyfully and cordially to have received as brethren and fellow-soldiers, fighting the same cause of a persecuted Gospel. It is true that Zuingle, in the course of controversy, could sometimes use language sufficiently bitter and contemptuous ; but Luther ought still to have remembered, that he himself had been in that respect the aggressor to a most vexatious degree ;—he did indeed remember it, and with many tears, as we shall see by-and-bye;—but it was his duty to have owned his fault long before, and not merely in his chamber to a few private friends, but openly to all the world, and to have repaired the breach both by candid acknowledgments, and by ceasing from the strife. But Luther did neither UdLubeTM 0ne nor *ne ot^er* Ori the contrary, Zuingle, the ly Zuingle. leader of the Sacramentarians, though ordinarily by no means disposed to spare Luther, generously admitted in one of his publications, that his adversary was not, in any essential point, deficient in Evangelical light: and moreover, that at a time when there was not a single person to be found who should dare to brave the danger, he had boldly stood forward the first champion of the Gospel: and was the faithful David, raised by the Lord, to come forward and meet the great Goliath of Rome f. That Zuingle then and his associates did not agree with Luther in the tenet of Consubstantiation, while they sincerely and earnestly desired to unite with him in the bonds of the Gospel, and to honour him as the father of the Reformation, ought to have * Com. de Luth. XXXIL 4. + Op. Zuing. II. Exeg. 359.
been no object of discontent or distress to his mind. Cent. I gladly seize again the opportunity to convince . , my readers, that I have no desire to conceal the blemishes of the Saxon Reformer. He possessed uncommon excellencies; but they were stained with faults by no means inconsiderable. It is perfectly right that we should in this manner thoroughly examine the characters of men of real holiness; that we may distinguish them from the fictitious perfectionists of the Stoics, and learn to give the praise to that God who is justly jealous of his own glory.
Let us now listen to Martin Luther discovering Extract* the secret weakness and distress of his soul; and let Luther** us keep in mind that this is the very same man who Letters, was every day bidding open defiance to the greatest powers of Europe, both civil and ecclesiastical, and voluntarily hazarding his life for the sake of Christian truth and liberty.
" My sins have brought upon me the heavy wrath Lather's of God. It is not enough, that the pope, the em- ^J^, peror, the princes, and bishops, should aim at my life, but my religious brethren also must torment my spirit. My sins, and all the powers of death, Satan and his angels, rajje without ceasing. And what is my hope ?—I say, if Christ should forsake me, I am undone. But he never will forsake such a poor miserable sinner. Mine enemies are mighty ; and add affliction to affliction, now that I am under the Divine chastisement. But enough ; let me not be querulous or impatient under the rod of Him, who 6mites and heals, who kills and makes alive. Blessed be his holy will! When the world and the prince of the world hate me in this manner, it is surely some proof that I belong to Christ. The critical situation of my wife increases my anxiety; and I am quite alarmed at what has just now happened to another pregnant lady, one of our neighbours, whom you know. She has been carried off rapidly by the prevailing epidemic. My present trials are
Chap, great; but the All-powerful One has done greaf xv- „ things for me. May Christ, whose pure doctrine I have taught and openly avowed, be my rock and my fortress ! Amen *."
" It so pleases God, that I, who have been accustomed to comfort others, do myself stand in need of consolation. I have but one prayer, and I beseech you join with me in it;—that whatever Christ may be pleased to do with me, he would preserve me from ungratefully rebelling against him, whom I have hitherto preached and served with so much zeal; though at the same time I have offended him by many and great sins.—I still hope he will forgive me, and, say, ' I am thy salvation' f."
" There is nothing that my sins do not deserve; but nevertheless I have comfort in the thought that I have taught the Gospel of Christ in godly sincerity, to the salvation of many souls. This galls Satan ; and he would destroy me, together with the Word itself. While others are called to the stake by the cruel tyrants, I suffer internally in spirit from the prince of this world. May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ perfect in me his holy will! Oh ! how precious and delightful is the secret contemplation of that will J!"
" I am still under the malice of Satan, who continues to buffet me. Pray for me. I have now languished for nearly three months, yet not so much in body as in mind: and am still far from well§."
" So may Christ comfort you," says Luther to his beloved friend Hausman, " as you comfort me. I thank my God, that Satan with all his wonderful craft, and all his powerful exertions, hath not yet been able to gain his will upon me. This is no ordinary temptation; and so skilful is that Wicked
• To Jonas II. 343. b. f To Amsdorf, II. 344.
t To Agric. II. 347.
§ To Stifel. and to Jonas, IJ. 353, -354.
One in perverting the Scriptures, that my own Cent. knowledge of the sacred writings fails me on this , XJ1- , occasion ; I stand in need of the help of my friends, and I am thankful for their consolatory communications. I open my case to you in this manner, that you may pray the more earnestly for me ; and may also yourself in like circumstances, if ever they should happen, be aware of the depths of Satan *."
In the midst of his humiliation and confession of His source* sin, we find Luther repeatedly taking comfort, as of comfot" holy David did, from a consciousness of the in* tegrity and purity of his motives. Thus to hia friend Melancthon: " Pray for me—I am a miserable abject worm of the earth, distracted with sorrow. But as this is the good will of the Father of mercies, glory be to him, whatever be my sufferings. In regard to myself, there is but one thing on which I lay any stress; namely, that I have ever '' .' taught the word of God in its purity; and on no occasion corrupted the truth, either through a love of glory, or of gain f." .'.
To another friend he says, " Be serious in your prayers for me, that Christ may not leave me destitute; for I am utterly without strength. I am sensible that I stand in need of temptations, that God may be glorified in me, and that I may be humbled; and I have still a good hope that Christ will accept me, though I have listened and do listen too much to the devices of Satan. It is astonishing how he can transform himself, not tor say into an angel of light, but into Christ himself. I am compelled to own his power; for he is out-> rageous in his attacks upon me. But Christ has faithfully preserved me, and will preserve me unto the end J."
2. Narratives Of Bugenhagius, And
Chap. The truth of the history of Luther's extreme , xy- , sufferings in the course of these temptations, does not depend entirely on the descriptions contained in his own letters to his friends. Bugenhagius of Pomerania and Justus Jonas were present during one of the most severe attacks ; and were so much affected by what they saw and heard, that they thought fit to record in writing some of the most material circumstances.
It appears however, clear, that intense distress and agitation of spirit had laid hold of our Reformer, more than six months before that very remarkable seizure which they described. For he writes thus to Jonas on the 26th of December 1526: Lnrtier'i " Oh, my Jonas, pray for me; sympathize with me jomu ,0 m *ne agomes I undergo. The temptation is someA 'D times less, but returns again with greater fury. 1526. May Christ never forsake me! May he chastise me as a son, but not punish me as a rebel: May I be strong in faith, even unto the end * ! "
Now the narratives of Bugenhagius and Jonas relate to what happened on the sixth of the succeeding July, when the mind of Luther must of necessity have been much broken down by the length and accumulation of his afflictions.—To transcribe the whole might detain us too long; but some remarkable parts of it may well deserve notice.
Their account is this ; namely, that about eight o'clock in the morning of Saturday the sixth of July t, Bugenhagius was alarmed at being hastily sent for by Luther. He found him, however, in conversation with his wife, and looking just as usual. It seems he had that morning experienced a most tremendous temptation, entirely of a spiritual nature ; and was seriously apprehensive, that if the * ^p, H.331. f Narrat. Pom. 335, et seq.
hand of God should again be so heavy upon him, Cent. he could not survive the attack. On the whole, > xyx' . he suspected he was about to die; and retired privately with his friend Bugenhagius, the parish minister, into his chamber, and there, in secret, committed every thing to God, and solemnly confessed his sins ; and then, says the Writer, my Master entreated me, his Pupil, to give him a word of consolation from the Scriptures. Afterwards he recovered so far as to be able to go out to dinner, and make the company cheerful, as he always did. But in the evening he was suddenly seized with a fainting fit; and cried out, " Oh! Doctor Jonas, I am sick; bring me water, or whatever you have, or I am gone." Jonas in a fright snatched up some cold water, and threw it freely over him. At that moment Luther was the very picture of death; but presently after, he began to pray most intensely: " If this be my last hour, O Lord, thy will be done! O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger; chasten me not in thy heavy displeasure. Have mercy
my blood in the cause of thy word—but perhaps I was unworthy of that honour; thy will be done : only may thy name be glorified, whether by my death, or my life."
Then, in the most solemn manner, he recommended to the blessing of God, the ministry of that sacred Gospel, which had hitherto been committed to his charge. Upon which, Bugenhagius, almost senseless from deep and anxious concern, interrupted him, by saying, " Among your other prayers, my doctor, let this be one, that it would please God to continue your life for the good of us poor creatures, and of many others." " To die," replied Luther, " would be gain to me, but .. .." and then, without finishing the sentence, he thus seriously addressed Justus Jonas and Bugenhagius. " The world delights in falsehoods; and it will certainly be
willingly have shed
Chap, said, that I recanted my doctrines in the hour of - xy* death. I desire, therefore, You and Bugenhagius to be witnesses of this my confession of faith :—I am perfectly satisfied that the doctrines which I have taught, concerning faith, charity, the cross, and the sacraments, areverily agreeable to the Word of God. I was led by Providence, and not voluntarily, to act the part which I have acted in the ministry. Many have blamed me for having been deficient in moderation; however, in some instances, there was in me no want of moderation but what may be justified ; and most assuredly I have never intended harm to any person whatever. On the contrary, 1 have always wished to promote men's salvation, even the salvation of mine enemies."
After this, Luther gravely stated to the same persons his objections to the Sacramentarians ; calling God to witness the sincerity of his heart, and lamenting with tears the numerous sects that arose, and neither spared the flock nor the Word of God. —" What a bustle," said he, " will they raise after my death ! ! " And Then, With Deep Sighs, And
A VAST EFFUSION OF TEARS, HE CONFESSED HOW
INTEMPERATE HE HAD BEEN AT TIMES IN HIS
Language ; and appealed to HIM Who Knows
ALL THINGS, that in THIS HE HAD GIVEN WAY to
the infirmity of the flesh, thereby endeavouring to shake off the burden of his afflictions; but that his conscience did not reproach him with having harboured any ill-will.
" Be ye my witnesses, however," said he, turning his face towards his two friends, " that, on the subjects of repentance and justification, I recant nothing of what I have written against the Pope. I feel that to be the Gospel of God, and the truth of God ; and though some may think I have been too harsh, or taken too great liberty, I do not repent in that matter."
Luther then began to inquire after his child. " Where is my dearest little John ?"—The child was Cent. soon brought smiling to the father, who immediately v_J^—> commended ' his good little boy,' as he called him, and his mother, ' his dearest Kate,' to a good and gracious God. " Ye have no worldly goods," said he ; " but God, who is the Father of the orphan, and judges the cause of the widow, will defend and keep you. I give thanks to thee, O Lord God, that thy providence has made me indigent in this world. I have neither house nor land nor possession to leave. Thou hast blessed me with a wife and children, and these I return back unto thee; 0 feed them, teach them, preserve them!"
To his wife he said, " My dearest Kate, if it is God s will, I request thee to submit to it: thou art my wedded wife ; this thou wilt never forget; and let God's word be thy constant guide." He proceeded to say something to her concerning a few silver cups ; and concluded with these words, " You know we have nothing else."
His wife displayed, on this trying occasion, extra- Conduct of ordinary Christian fortitude. Almost heart-broken LUe,h"'r'.e of and frightened even to consternation, she yet preserved a good hope in her countenance. She allowed that not only herself and her child, but many other Christian people, would experience a great loss; but she entreated her husband not to be uneasy on her account; for if it really was God's will that he should depart, she could submit to it cordially. She therefore commended him to the Lord God, under whose protection he could not fail to be safe *.
By the external application of warmth, and by the use of cordial medicines internally, Luther soon recovered from the apparently immediate danger; but such had been the violence of the paroxysm, that he experienced the debilitating effects of it during the remainder of the year.
* Dcscrip. Tentat. 340.
Chap. On the Sunday succeeding this memorable Satur_J^I.-> day, Luther declared to Jonas, that on comparing the agony of his mind, during the spiritual temptation in the morning of the preceding day, with his bodily afflictions in the evening, the latter had not been half so distressing as the former. He added, K»» " Doctor, I must mark the day. I was yesterday at school."
Afterwards he underwent many exacerbations of mind of a similar nature to that described, but none equally severe. Yet during all these trials, Bugenhagius assures us, that Luther attended to every part of his duty, that he seldom omitted his public lectures, and generally preached on the Lord's day. Bugenhagius was frequently called during the hours of the night to visit him in his distress; and repeatedly heard him say, " The violence of the temptation stupifies me that I cannot open my mouth : as soon as ever it pleases God that I can lift up my heart in prayer, and make use of Scriptural expressions, it ceases to prevail."
Bugenhagius tells us, that he found real satisfaction in being of some little service to Luther, through whose instrumentality, God had been pleased to reveal to himself the Gospel of his Son *.
3. Distinction Between Deep Religious ConCern, And Constitutional Melancholy.
There are, I believe, those who will not be displeased to see this eminent servant of God in his imbecility; and to whom the narrative may be even consolatory and instructive. They will observe that such instances, when well considered, incontrovertibly prove that the excellency of evangelical power is of God, and not of man. Hence the nature of
• Joan. Bug. Pomer. 340. b.
true Christian experience is both illustrated and Cent. confirmed. If I have enlarged on this case, I shall t X^L endeavour to be brief on the civil politics of Lutheranism. The propriety of thus distinguishing and treating the materials before me, is continually suggested by the original plan of this history. Add to this, the authorities for the preceding account are in the hands of very few persons, and, as far as I know, have never before been given in English to the public; and this may be a reason, among many others, why the real character of the Saxon Reformer has been so little understood. Let us regret sincerely the strength of his prejudices, the violence of his temper, the asperity of his language; but let us be glad, that, in the hour of affliction at least, he bitterly lamented his faults, and earnestly prayed " that by them he might not bring a scandal on the Gospel*." Amidst all his blemishes, men of candour and discernment will be compelled to recognize the most unequivocal marks of purity of intention.
Those who are disposed to class this Reformer Lather ■» among Enthusiasts, should pause, and seriously ei,lhu«'"«reflect what that word means in its ordinary acceptation, when applied to religious characters; and they may, in the end, be led to agree with the writer of this history, that few men, perhaps none, in any age, were ever less infected with that evil.
I less wonder, that, by modern writers, Martin Luther should have been suspected of a propensity to melancholy; because it is too much their practice to represent all deep concern and personal anxiety in matters of religion, and still more, all the distresses, afflictions, mournings, and temptations of godly persons, as implying a melancholic temperament of the natural constitution. Instances of this way of judging are innumerable.—Dr. Jortinf, for
* Ego enim orabo ne j>eccatis meis alicui scandalo sim. Narr. Bug. 338.
t Life of Erasmus, I. 126.
Ckap. example, considers Luther as having a tincture both
< ,J—1 of melancholy and enthusiasm; but when I turn to
Nor me- his authorities for such a sentiment, I find nothing auc u ic. ^q gUpp0rt jt T;he truth is, the Saxon Reformer was naturally of a cast directly the opposite to that which is here represented; and Melancthon expressly declares that he was of a Lively, Social, GeneRous turn of mind*. Extraordinary then must be that penetration, which, in our times, can discover what escaped the observation of his most intimate friend and contemporary.
Luther himself was fully persuaded of the agency of Satan in the production of those temptations, which afflicted him so grievously. Beausobre, on the contrary, peremptorily rejects the supposition, and, without the least ceremony or hesitation, pronounces them to have been the effect of melancholy.
A single declaration of this kind, when made by such an author as Beausobre f, who could not have been entirely ignorant of the private life of Luther, discloses at once the nature of the religious views and taste of this historian, and places it in a clearer light than many pages of cautious composition in divinity would probably have done. What a contrast to the positive decision of Beausobre is the following unaffected observation of the pious Bugenhagius, who, living daily in habits of the utmost familiarity with our Reformer, must have known him thoroughly ! " If these things," says he, " happened to the prophets, and to the apostles, and to others, and even to our Lord Jesus Christ, it is not so very wonderful that they should happen to Luther Not one word of his being disposed to melancholy.
«ry cau- "^e* may no* ^e improper to interpose a brief tiou. caution here suggested by the preceding remark of Bugenhagius. The Book of Psalms, and of Jere
* Page 250 of this volume. Letter to Camerar.
f [III. 12 & 13.
I History of Luther's Temptations, 341. b. ,
miah, and the Epistles of St. Paul, certainly contain descriptions of sensations similar to those of Luther; and it must therefore be admitted, that the choicest servants of God may very often be under great temporary sadness and dejection of mind; and this from different causes;—from a deep conviction of sin, and an awful sense of the wrath of God; such was Luther's case when he first entered the monastery, and for some time after;—from great darkness of mind, and the hiding of God's face; which David complains of repeatedly ;—and again, from some unknown chastisement, as in the instance of St. Paul's thorn in the flesh. In the next place, we may safely admit further, that a true servant of God, under a severe discipline of this sort, may actually be reduced to a condition which shall, in many circumstances, Resemble that of a person whose natural disposition is truly melancholic; but when all this is granted, it will not follow that the darkness and dejection and grief of a sincere penitent is any proof at all of a melancholic constitution by nature. It is true, the temperament M A y be of that kind, and then probably the more severe will be the sufferings of the holy man; but these things do not necessarily go together; and those who think they do, have yet to learn the manner of God's dealings, in subduing the pride and stubbornness of his fallen creatures. " Paul, thou art beside thyself;" " Luther mistook melancholy for a temptation of the devil*;" appear to me to be instances of a rash judgment, which are to be classed together, originating in a similar want of humility, of self-knowledge, and of submission to the Divine will.
4. Luther's Quarrel With George Of
IT must not however be dissembled, that the incivility and the violence of Luther's language, prejudiced the minds of many persons against the * Beausobre.
doctrines of this great Reformer. Learning, sincerity, sound understanding, and scriptural penetration, were so strikingly apparentin his productions, that even George of Saxony owned, that some of Luther's more early publications had given him considerable satisfaction; and, moreover, that he had not been displeased with what he had heard from him during the public disputations at Leipsic; but had hoped that those discussions might lead to a reform of the existing abuses*. • Brief ac- This prince was certainly no libertine either in Alexius' principle or practice; and it has been thought by Crosner. some an inexplicable contradiction in his conduct, that notwithstanding his excessive aversion to the Lutherans, he should have selected for his chaplain at Dresden, Alexius Crosner, who was well known to be not only a proselyte of the reformers, but also particularly attached to Luther himself. Then the apparent difficulty is not in the least diminished by reflecting on the long duration of Crosner's ministry at the court of Dresden. He continued to preach before this duke during the space of three years. It may possibly assist the solution of this enigma, to consider—that George, though an incurable bigot, was yet by no means without ConScience ; nor probably without some Curiositt and desire to know more distinctly the nature of those Protestant tenets, which, according to his ideas, had so much disturbed the peace of Germany; and lastly, that Crosner himself, in his sermons, may perhaps have industriously avoided the frequent discussion of such topics as are peculiarly offensive to a Papist. Indeed a very excellent judge makes no scruple to intimate, that there must have been, on the part of Crosner, some degree of dexterous trimming or political management, otherwise the Saxon duke would never have tolerated, for three years together, any direct and open attacks upon
• Com. de Luth. II. XIII.
the gross corruptions of the Romish religion *. Be Cent.
this as it may, Crosner's situation at Dresden was » J.
certainly not to be envied. George was pleased and offended with him by turns. The preacher's own conscience was probably not very easy. Then the duke's courtiers wrested his expressions, and harassed him with perpetual accusations. It appears however clear, that Crosner on the whole must have been faithful; for he defended the cause of Christian truth with so much plainness and courage, — at least in the latter part of his residence at Dresden,—that he gave great offence at court, and was at length dismissed from his office. Emser, one of Luther's great adversaries, happening to be on horseback, and to pass close to Crosner as he was leaving the city, exclaimed, " This is to me a joyful day, that puts an end to the preachings of this heretic. Away with thee ; and may some mischief overtake thee." " Emser," replied Crosner, " you ought to have said, Go in the name of the Lord." —It is affirmed by two very respectable authorities, that Emser died that very night in dreadful agonies After all, Crosner laboured so much under the imputation of having conducted himself with insincerity at the court of Dresden, that the elector of Saxony refused, upon a vacancy, to appoint him his domestic chaplain; and the poor man was reduced to so great indigence, that he petitioned that prince to place him in some lay-employment. The duke George, there is reason to believe, continued to see him occasionally, but it does not at all appear that he relieved his necessities
In regard to Luther, the affections of the duke Luihcr were entirely alienated from him by those repeated 5„ke ot asperities, with which both the public and private Saxonj
* Seek. II. Add. p. 93.
t Daniel Schneider, a minister at Dresden ; and Selneccer. Vid. Seek. Index I. Crosnerus. J Seek. II. 92. Add. II.
Chap, writings of the Reformer abounded, and which he . XV. , took not the least pains to soften or conceal. In Jftheduke' George, having received information that
Geurge." Luther, ih one of his letters, had treated him with the utmost rudeness and contempt, suffered his spirit to be irritated beyond all bounds against the writer. The letter contained rash and intemperate expressions, no doubt; and George was in no humour to reflect that the harsh language, which gave him so much offence, had been used only in a private communication to a friend; and that Luther was not to blame, because his friend *, imprudently and without warrant, afterwards divulged it. The breach between them was wide enough before; but this accident seems to have rendered it incurable. A thousand times Luther had represented the duke as a violent headstrong bigot, but in this letter he had called him a fool.
5. Visitation Of The Electorate Of
IN 1527, John, the good elector of Saxony, had ordered some steps to be taken towards a general visitation of all the churches under his jurisdiction, and, in the succeeding year, that important business instmc- was nearly brought to a conclusion. A directory ciergy""/i' for tne use of the clergy of the electorate was comSaxui.jr. posed by Melancthon, revised and corrected in some • points by Luther, and lastly, published under the sanction of the prince himself. The instructions were digested under eighteen heads, with an admirable preface by Luther; in which he shows the great use of ecclesiastical visitations, confirms the practice from Scripture, and censures the neglect of the dignitaries of those times. Among the names of the visitors are mentioned Luther, Melancthon, Myconius, Justus Jonas, and Pomeranus, and also • Wenceslaus Lincius, Ep. II. 38.
several laymen of less notoriety. These excellent Cent. commissioners fixed suitable pastors in the respec- xy1tive parishes ; they abolished the ancient superstitions in the most lenient and gradual manner ; and, in short, they gave every humane attention, consistent with their duty as visitors, to persons obstinately addicted to the forms of popery. Under their seventeenth article, the duty of a bishop is described; though the term superintendent was adopted. For example : Every superintendent was carefully to inspect the conduct of the clergy of his own diocese; to examine candidates for holy orders; to take care afterwards that they preached sound doctrine ; also to admonish and censure defaulters, and if they proved incorrigible, to represent their obstinacy to the civil magistrate, or even to the prince himself*.
* Com. de Luth. II. XXXVI.