From The Election Of Adrian VI. To Luther's
LETTER TO THE DUKE OF Savoy.
Diet Of Nuremberg. ,
Their Edict. Luther's Address To The
Death Of Adrian VI.
Dangerous Situation Of The Elector 01
Denmark And Sweden Embrace Protest-
Thurzo. J. Hesse.
Martyrdom Of Voes And Esch.
Luther's Letter To The Duke Of Savoy.
One of the first measures of the new pontiff was Diet of to send a legatef to the Imperial diet assembled at Nuren'b«eNuremberg, with a diploma or brieve, as it is called,
' See vol. iv. The Italian ecclesiastics did not much relish the election of Adrian VI, For, 1. he was a foreigner, and "1 their language, a barbarian. 2. Though a bitter antiLutheran, he certainly wished to reform the abuses of the court of Rome. And, 3. he had been known to maintain that
a pope might err, even in a matter of faith." L'Advocat. Diet.
t Fraacis Cheregato.
Chap, addressed to the German princes. The brieve is
, full of the most virulent invectives against Luther;
who, the pope said, " not withstanding the sentence of Leo X. which was ordered by the edict of Worms to be executed without delay, continued to teach the same errors, and by his fresh publications daily to corrupt the morals of the people. The contagion of his poisoned tongue, like a pestilence, pervaded the country to a prodigious extent; and, what was the worst part of the mischief, he was supported not only by the vulgar, but by several persons of distinction, who had begun to shake off their obedience to the clergy, plunder them of their property, and raise civil commotions. The pope had hoped that a venomous plant of this sort could not have grown in Germany ; whereas, in fact, it had taken root, and shot forth large boughs, through the negligence of those who ought to have prevented the evil. Surely it was a most unaccountable thing, that so large and so religious a nation should be seduced by a single pitiful friar, who had apostatized from the way which our Lord and his apostles, and the martyrs, and so many illustrious persons, and among the rest, the ancestors of the German princes, had all followed to the very present time !" " What," said he, " is Luther alone possessed of wisdom and of the Holy Spirit? Has the church been in ignorance till Luther afforded usthisnewlight? Ridiculous! Be assured, ye princes of Germany, this Lutheran patronage of evangelical liberty is a mere pretence. Already ye must have discovered it to have been a cloak for robbery and violence; and ye cannot doubt that those who have torn and burnt the sacred canons, and the decrees of councils and popes, will have no respect for the laws of the empire. They have shaken off their obedience to bishops and priests; they will not spare the persons, houses, and goods of the laity."
Lastly, Adrian exhorted the diet to be unanimous in their endeavours to extinguish this devouring flame of heresy, and bring back to a sense of their duty the Cent.
arch-heretic and his abettors. But if the ulcerations , xvr.
and extent of the cancer appeared to be such as to leave no place for mild and lenient medicaments, recourse must be had to the cautery and the knife.
So the Almighty inflicted capital punishment on Dathan and Abiram, for their disobedience to the priest.
So PfcTEIt, THE HEAD OF THE APOSTLES,
denounced sudden death on Ananias and Saphira; And,
So the ancestors of the German princes, at the council of Constance, inflicted condign punishment on John Huss and Jerome of Prague, heretics that seem to be now alive again in the person of Luther, their great admirer*.
It was below the dignity, even of a conscientious pontiff, to admit into a brieve, in which he was dealing out his threatenings against an obstinate heretic, any admixture of candid and ingenuous concession respecting the prevailing ecclesiastical abuses. In the instructions, however, given to his nuncio, we find acknowledgments of this kind which might even justify the most acrimonious accusations of Lu- Adrian's therf. For example: Cheregato was first to inform the diet how much the pope was troubled on account of the progress of Lutheranism, and how necessary it was to adopt vigorous measures for its suppression. The design of this heretic was to destroy all authority and order under the sanction of Christian liberty. His sect was the cause of robberies, quarrels, and scandals. Mahomet had drawn men to his party by gratifying their sensual appetites; Luther seduced them in a similar way, by allowing monks, nuns, and lascivious priests to marry. The nuncio was then charged to Own explicitly, that all this confusion was the effect of men's sins, particularly of the sins of the clergy and prelates; that for some years past Many * Goldast. Stat. Imp. i. 25. f Id. 27.
Chap, Abuses, Abominations, and Excesses, had been committed in the court of Rome, even in the holy see itself; that every thing had degenerated to agreat degree; and that it was no wonder if the evil had passed from The Head to the members, from the popes to the bishops and other ecclesiastics. " We have all," says the pope, " every one of us, turned to his own way, and for a long time, none hath done good, no not one. Let us give glory to God, and humble our souls before him ; and every individual among us consider how great has been his own fall, and judge himself, that God may not judge us in his wrath. Nothing shall be wanting on my part to reform the court of Rome, whence, perhaps all the mischief hath originated; that as this court hath been the source of the corruptions which have thence spread among the lower orders, so from the same a sound reformation may proceed." He concluded with observing how much he had this business at heart; but that they must not wonder if All these abuses could not be Soon corrected. The disease was complicated and inveterate, and the cure must proceed step by step, lest by attempting to do all at once, every thing should be thrown into confusion.
In regard to the schism which Luther had made in the church, the pope requested the diet to inform him what methods they themselves judged most expedient for suppressing it.
The cardinals at Rome are said to have been much displeased at the candid concessions of Adrian ; though Sleidan, on this occasion intimates*, that the pontiff's long and elaborate promises of his intentions to reform the church probably amounted to no more than an artifice, often employed by the popes, to raise men's expectations, delay the calling of a general council, and gain time for sounding the dispositions of princes; and for taking, meanwhile, effectual * Comment. III.
measures to secure the apostolical power and dignity, Cent. Luther appears to have thought the same; for he . XVI' translated the pontifical mandates into German, and added short marginal notes; one of which on the expression " the cure must proceed step by step,is sufficiently sarcastic, namely,—" You are to understand those words to mean that there must be an interval of Some Ages between each step."
Whatever suspicion may be excited respectingthe perfect sincerity of Adrian's promises to reform the ecclesiastical state, it is impossible to doubt the validity of his testimony to the existence of the prevailing abuses ; nor need we wish for a more complete confutation of the adulatory strains with which interested parasites were incessantly complimentingthe Roman pontiffs. Moreover, as the life and conversation of the new pope was in fact decorous and laudable, it seems but reasonable that he should in general have credit for his ' declarations,' when he assured the German diet, " that he would not have accepted the papacy, unless it had been to meliorate the condition of the catholic church, to comfort the oppressed, to prefer and reward neglected men of merit and virtue, and, in fine, to do all the duties of a lawful successor of St. Peter." If these good designs were never carried into execution, there are two very substantial reasons for the failure, l. The veteran hypocrites, with whom Adrian was surrounded at Rome, were too much interested in supporting the antient corruptions of the papal domination, and too well skilled in the arts of obstructing any schemes of correction and amendment, to suffer the intended innovations to succeed, particularly as they were proposed by a pope declining in years, and ignorant of the ways of the world*. 2. As this pontiff applied his thoughts
* Nothing can show the true spirit of popery more plainly, than the observations of the celebrated historian Pallavicinus on the character of Adrian VI. and on his promises of reformation. " He was headstrong in his designs; and these were
merely to morals, and did not suspect any unsoundness of doctrine in the established creed, his attempts were fundamentally defective, and therefore, as to the event, unpromising in the last degree. It is indeed, at all times much easier to discover external than internal evils in the church ; and hence, the complaints and resolutions of prelates, whose morals were more exemplary than those of their contemporaries or of their predecessors, have been frequent from age to age, and yet productive of no material good effects. We are assured from the best authority, that " A Corrupt Tree cannot bring forth
The publication of the pope's brieve, and his explanatory instructions in the diet, seemed, at first, to have made a strong impression on a great part of that assembly; and, as his nuncio, among other things *, had accused the clergy of Nuremberg of preaching impious doctrines, and insisted on their being imprisoned, the bishops, and other dignitaries of the sacred order, stood up, and with immense
formed from abstract speculations, specious in appearance, but by no means suited to practice. There was in him a simplicity and a credulity, which made him listen to those who found fault with the conduct of his predecessor Leo X. Then he was too vehement, too open, and too sincere, and most excessively imprudent in making a public acknowledgment of the corruptions of the Roman court." This historian proceeds to tell us, that the Popedom is a mixture of sacred and profane dominion; and that therefore its administration requires a deal of knowledge in civil concerns, and in the arts of government; and we are to understand that, for his part, he would rather choose that the head of the church should be a man of Moderate Sanctity, Joined
WITH EXTRAORDINARY PRUDENCE, THAN ONE WHOSE PRUDENCE WAS BUT OF THE MIDDLE SORT, WHATEVER MIGHT BE HIS CHARACTER FOR HOLINESS.
We need not wonder that such principles as these should lead Pallavicinus to disapprove of Adrian's projected emendations of the church ; and to maintain, that the protestants would thereby have been encouraged : whereas according to him, " the names of their treason were not to be extinguished by concessions, but quenched by showers of blood." • Sleidan IV.
clamour called out, " Luther Must be Taken Off *, The answer and the propagators of his sentiments Must be im- German prisoned!" It soon appeared, however, that the p»n«»German princes were in no disposition either to be soothed by the flatteries, or overawed by the menaces of a Roman pontiff. They told the nuncio, they believed he had been ill-informed respecting the conduct of the preachers at Nuremberg, who, in truth, were at that moment held in high estimation by the people ; and that therefore, if any harsh measures should be adopted against them, there would soon be a general outcry, that a design was purposely formed to oppress the cause of truth, and this might lead to sedition and civil commotions "f" .
In regard to the pope's complaints concerning Luther and his sect, they said in general, that they were always ready to do their utmost to root out heresies of every kind, but that they had omitted to execute the edict of Worms for the most weighty and urgent reasons. It was a fact, that all ranks and orders made heavy complaints against the court of Rome, and were now, through Luther's various discourses and writings, so well convinced of the justice of these accusations, that any attempt, in the present juncture, to execute by force the late damnatory sentence of the pope and emperor, would inevitably be attended with the most dangerous consequences. The people would instantly interpret such a procedure as a certain prelude to the oppression of evangelical light and truth, and to the further maintenance of those impieties and abuses which could no longer be borne ; and thus Germany would soon be involved in tumults, rebellion, and civil wars. The princes therefore could not but think that a trial ought to be made of expedients less inflammatory in their nature, and better suited to the circumstances. They applauded the pope's pious intention to
* Alton. II. " Tolendum esse Lutherum.
reform the court of Rome, which he had ingenuously owned to be the source of all the mischief. This was truly laudable; but there were moreover particular grievances and abuses, an account of which they purposed to exhibit in a distinct memorial : these required effectual redress: and, if not obtained, they knew it would be in vain to expect the eradication of errors, and the re-establishment of peace and harmony among the ecclesiastical and secular orders in Germany. As the pope had condescended to ask their advice, they said they would not dissemble in their answer. His holiness was by no means to imagine that the members of the diet had their eyes Solely on the business of Luther, but also on a multitude of other evils, which had taken deep root by long usage, and through the ignorance of some and the wickedness of others. For all these things, the most efficacious remedy which they could devise was, that the pope, with the consent of the emperor, should speedily appoint a free, godly, and Christian council, to be held in some convenient part of Germany, as Strasburg, Mentz, or Cologne, and that full liberty should be granted to every member of it, ecclesiastical or secular, to speak and give advice, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Lastly, they promised that, in the mean time, they would request the elector of Saxony to interpose his authority, and prevent the Lutheran party from printing books, or preaching sermons, on subjects of a seditious tendency ; and that, in general, they would do their utmost to confine the preachers, for the present, to the exposition of the plain, pure Gospel of Christ, and make them wait for the determination of the future council respecting all doubtful controversial matters. Also the bishops, and the archbishops should appoint virtuous and learned men in their respective dioceses, to superintend the parochial clergy, whose business it should be to correct their errors and irregularities, as occasion required, with kindness and moderation; but by no means in such a manner as to excite just suspicion of a design to prevent the promulgation of Christian truth. As to the priests who had married wives, or the monks who had left their convents, they conceived it sufficient if the ordinaries inflicted the canonical punishments on the offenders. The civil laws had made no provision for such cases. But if these same refractory priests should be found guilty of any crimes of a different nature, then the prince or magistrate, in whose jurisdiction the offences were committed, should take care to enforce a due execution of the existing laws*.
This answer of the diet was delivered in writing to Chereoato, the pope's legate, who ventured to express his disapprobation of it in strong terms. Neither his most holy master, he said, nor the emperor, nor any Christian prince, had ever expected to hear such language from the diet. Since the solemn condemnation of Luther, that incurable heretic had not only persevered in his old errors, but had also been guilty of many new transgressions. His punishment, therefore, ought not to have been lessened, but increased on that account. Their negligence in this matter was offensive to God, to the pope, and to the emperor. The reasons alleged by the diet in excuse were by no means satisfactory: men ought to suffer any inconveniences rather than endanger the catholic unity and the salvation of souls. He therefore most earnestly besought them, before the conclusion of their meetings, to agree upon the complete execution of the sentence against Luther.
Their manner, he said, of requesting a general council was such as might give umbrage to his holy master. For example, they had required that it should be with the consent of the emperor, that it * Goldast. Stat Imp. i. 30.
Chap, should be free, and that it should be held in this or , that city, and such like. All this had the appearance of tying up the hands of his holiness. Moreover, the legate expressed himself very much displeased with their promise to prevent, as much as they could, the printing and vending of heretical books. " I say," said he, " on this point as I do of the rest, The Sentences Of The Pope And
THE EMPEROR OUGHT TO BE IMPLICITLY OBEYED ;
the books Should Be Burnt, and The Printers And Venders Of Them Duly Punished. There is no other way to suppress and extinguish this pernicious sect. It is from the reading of their books that all these evils have arisen."
Lastly, he allowed that the answer of the diet concerning the married clergy would not have displeased him, if there had not been a sting in the tail of it, namely, in the observation that the secular princes or magistrates should take proper cognizance of the offenders. " Now," said he, " if by these words we are to understand that such offenders are to be punished by their proper ecclesiastical judges, it is very right; but if the explanation of them is, that they are to be tried by the secular jurisdiction, I do most earnestly desire the diet to correct this part of their answer, as being, in principle, directly contrary to the rights of the church. The secular magistrates have no authority over those who are once under the dominion of Christ and the church ; neither do those priests or monks who have broken their vows, or have otherwise apostatized, cease, for that reason, to be still under the same ecclesiastical jurisdiction."
This reply of the pope's nuncio gave great offence in the diet. They observed, that he had shown a quick sense of whatever seemed to threaten a diminution of the papal authority or papal emolument, but little disposition to relieve Germany from the grievous oppressions under which it laboured. Instead, therefore, of multiplying words in the form Cent. of a long rejoinder, they said they had other busi- XVIness to transact of still greater consequence; and directed Cheregato to be content with their former resolution, till they could send a National MeMorial to the pope, and receive the answer of his holiness respecting all their Grievances *. It would then be seen what reliance ought to be placed on the fair promises of the nuncio of the Roman pontiff.
Cheregato thought proper to quit Nuremberg Pope,s before the memorial was drawn up. His sudden nuncio departure was considered as disrespectful to the diet, ^^erg" and prognosticated an unfavourable issue to the whole business.
The German nation, in the time of the emperor Maximilian, had exhibited an accusation of ten grievances against the court of Rome. The num- Remonber of these in the present new memorial were in- Jf,"'^0' creased to a hundred; and are known by the name mans, of the Centum Gravamina, so famous in the German annals. The articles of complaint were arranged in order, and immediately dispatched to Rome, accompanied with a concise but memorable protest, to the following effect:—That the diet had laid all their grievances before the legate of his holiness, and had intended to furnish him with an exact and orderly copy of them for the perusal of his master, but he had surprised them by disappearing suddenly and unexpectedly : That they humbly besought the pope to redress their grievances effectually ; and moreover, wished his holiness to understand, that if they were not redressed, and speedily too, the burden of them was become so oppressive and insupportable, that the princes and people in general neither Could nor Would endure them any longer f. Imperious necessity itself, and the iniquity
* Paul Sarpi. Orthuin. Grat. du Pin. Goldast. i. 33—58-
f Goldast, Peror. Cent. Grav. Sleidan.
of the multiplied extortions and oppresssions under which they groaned, would compel them to use every method, with which God had intrusted them, to deliver themselves from the tyranny of the ecclesiastics.
These transactions were a decisive proof of the declining power of the popedom, and at the same time they manifested the hardy and daring spirit which had arisen among the German nations in support of their civil and religious liberties.
It would be tedious to relate the hundred grievances at length. In substance they may be reduced to these heads: — 1. Complaints of large payments for dispensations, absolutions, and indulgences. By these things not only immense sums were squeezed out of the Germans, but a door opened to all sorts of crimes; and moreover, the money thus collected was consumed by the popes in maintaining the luxury of their families and relations. 2. The injuries done by directing ecclesiastical causes to be tried at Rome, rather than in their proper places by German ordinaries. 3. The artifices of the Romish court in the reservation of benefices. 4. The abuses of commendams and first-fruits. 5. The exemptions of the ecclesiastics in criminal causes. 6. The introduction of excommunications into temporal concerns ; and the illegality of excommunicating several persons for one man's offence. 7. The encroachments of the ecclesiastical judges in lay causes, under divers pretences, and their scandalous sentences. 8. The shameful exactions of the clergy for administering the sacraments, and for burials and masses, and for licences to keep concubines. 9. The faculties granted to the pope's legate, to legitimate bastards and bestow benefices. 1 o. The monks and nuns in Germany were allowed to he heirs to their own relations ; but the contrary was forbidden ; their relations were unjustly prohibited from becoming heirs to them.
The diet concluded their complaints with observing, that they could specify many more and still heavier oppressions, from which in equity they ought to be relieved; but they were disposed to say nothing of them, till it should appear, whether they were likely to obtain justice respecting those already enumerated.
In fact they were all reducible to three heads; namely, grievances or oppressions, tending to enslave the people, to rob them of their money, or to appropriate to the clergy the jurisdiction of the secular magistrate.
The elector of Saxony was not present at the diet of Nuremberg. The infirmities of his advanced age, the natural irresolution of his temper, or the prospect of contentious and troublesome scenes concerning Luther, or lastly, all these things put together, will easily account for his absence.—The pope at this time appears to have been excessively out of humour with this prince. Two pontifical brieves, addressed to the elector, were transmitted to him by Cheregato from Nuremberg; the former of which is expressed in the most severe, imperious, and insulting language*; and even in the latter, which the Italian historian f calls an affectionate letter, Adrian roundly charges the conscientious Frederic with a breach of promise made to cardinal Cajetan; namely that he would not fail to punish Luther as soon as ever he should be proscribed by 4e pope, whereas it was well known that that heretic was allowed to remain in the electorate of Saxony, and was also encouraged and supported
* See the Appendix for this long brieve. It is a great curiosity, as it demonstrates the prodigiously high ideas which toe Popes entertained of their own dignity and consequence; sod with what outrageous insolence they could express their displeasure, when, like Adrian, they were unrestrained by political motives and a knowledge of mankind.—See also Labbei Concil. Tom. xiv.
VOL. V. I
Chap there, not only after the pope's sentence against him, l*- , but also after the imperial edict of Charles V.
Frederic the Wise was so much offended with these accusations of the pope, that he seems for a moment to have forgotten those discreet maxims by which he had constantly regulated his conduct.
John Planitz was a German nobleman, who represented the elector of Saxony in the imperial council of regency at Nuremberg. To him the prince, by letter, freely expressed his indignation at the contents of the pontifical brieve. With more than ordinary warmth, he declared that he had never imagined it possible he should receive so extraordinary a letter, and he was inclined to suspect it had been forged at Nuremberg. He wished the pope's legate to be told that he himself would write to the council of regency, and express his readiness to appear before them and the emperor, for the purpose of defending his conduct against all unjust aspersions. Planitz, however, who appears to have been a sincere friend of the Reformer's*, represented to his master the imprudence of intrusting his reputation with so partial a tribunal as the imperial
• Some judgment may be formed of the character of this wary privy counsellor of the elector of Saxony, from a letter which he wrote to his master during the sittings of the diet at Nuremberg.
" The Pope, by his large promises, would make us believe that he intends to redress many of our grievances. But I make no scruple to declare plainly, that I give him no credit for sincerity. I look upon all his fine speeches as thrown out for the single purpose of aggrandizing the power and wealth of the Romish church. This has been the constant practice of the pontiffs hitherto ; and the event will shew whether a different system is now beginning to be adopted. For my part, I can expect no equitable decisions from the pope, till he makes the glory of Christ, and the salvation of mankind, to be the ruling motives of his conduct. And if such were, indeed, his present motives, why should he have thought it necessary to write to Ferdinand, the brother and representative of the emperor, as you will perceive by the inclosed copy, he has done, To Instigate Him To Use A Rod ? He might as well have spoken out at once, and
council of regency. He foresaw, he said, that much Cent. injury to the cause of protestantism would be the t X^L infallible consequence of such a measure; and that therefore the elector had better content himself with returning only general answers to the pope's objections. Frederic was easily persuaded to abandon a resolution so opposite to his usual system of caution and evasion, and so uncertain and dangerous in the issue of the experiment. Accordingly he transmitted his defence in writing to Adrian himself, expressed concisely, and in the most general terms; and to his legate Cheregato he directed a brief explanation to be given of the line of conduct which he had prescribed to himself throughout the whole business of Luther. The elector deemed it but decent to avoid all personal altercation with the pope; but to his legate he positively insisted on the fact, that he had never made any other promise to Cajetan, than that, " in the hope of putting an end to the ecclesiastical dissensions, he would stand engaged to compel Luther to appear before the cardinal at Augsburg*."
This conscientious prince, amidst all the doubts and difficulties which harassed his mind concerning the just limits of the papal jurisdiction, and several other questions relative to the rights of the ecclesiastics, steadily adhered to the grand practical maxim of implicitly obeying the revealed word of God, and also of maintaining with zeal and fidelity the unrestrained publication of the same among the people. He was much displeased with some parts of the diet's reply to Cheregato, particularly that which seemed to threaten the Clergy with a species of inquisition
said A Rod Of Iron. Surely if he were a shepherd of Christ's
flock, he would think it his duty to cultivate peace, to ipvesti-
gate the truth, and to prevent errors and schisms, by mild, and
not by compulsory methods. I firmly trust, however, that
Almighty God will protect his own glory, and forward the sal-
vation of men, in a way very different from that which suits
the notions of the Roman Pontiff." Tom. II. Alten.
* Pallavic. Orthuin Grat. Paul. Sarpi.
that would inevitably fetter them in their preaching, and obstruct the free progress of the Gospel. Agreeably to this truly Christian view of evangelical liberty, he directed, before the final resolutions of the diet, a formal protest to be entered in his name against every restraint of that kind. Edict of The resolutions were made in March 1523, and ike diet; acc0rded with the answer which had been given • D- to the pope's legate. They were called, notwithstand1523- mg tne emperor's absence, The Edict of Charles V. and were printed and published throughout Germany, together with the pope's brieve, and his instructions to his nuncio ; also with the answers and replies, and the hundred grievances*.
These transactions, and the publication of them, were, on the whole, undoubtedly favourable to the reformation.
Luther instantly saw his advantage, and availed himself of it with that undaunted courage which constantly marked his character, and also with a defensive dexterity which was the result of much experience in repelling the incessant attacks of his enemies.
Luther's He published an address to the princes and noblemen of Germany, in which he gratefully acknowledged the satisfaction which their late edict had afforded him; but he had observed, he said, that there were many persons, and even some of rank and distinction, who were disposed to wrest the mandates of the diet from their true meaning,— " That meaning," said Luther, " is to me as clear as the light; and therefore I judge it highly expedient at this time to publish my sentiments on this matter, as also the sentiments of those who agree with me in interpreting the doctrines of the Gospel.
" 1. And first, the edict directs us to teach the Gospel in that sense which has been approved by the church of Christ. Now there are numbers who • Goldast. stat. Imp. ii. 150.
address to the princes.
would misrepresent this injunction, as though Christians ought to follow the scholastic opinions of Thomas Aquinas, Scotus, and others that are held in high estimation by the Romish Church. Whereas in the edict we find no mention of these authors, nor even of the Romish church itself, but only of the church of Christ, and of the ancient interpreters of Christian doctrine; that is, as We understand it, of Hilary, Cyprian, and Augustine, whose authority we allow to be great, yet on no occasion such as to be produced in opposition to the holy Scriptures.
" When the diet, therefore, commands us to preach the Gospel in its purity, it is most absurd to suppose that they intend the scholastic trifles of Aristotle to be looked on as the standard of evangelical truth. For if that were the case, what need could there be to call a general council ? That the former is the genuine sense of the edict," said Luther, " I argue also from this well-known circumstance ; namely, that several of the princes, who have hitherto obstinately opposed every attempt at reformation in religion, have also refused to subscribe this resolution of the diet, and now do their utmost to prevent the publication of it among their subjects. To speak plainly, our adversaries neither know what the Gospel is, nor what were the doctrines of the ancient ecclesiastical writers; so immersed are they in those contentious, sophistical disputations, which the diet now commands us to lay aside. ' You must preach the Gospel:' So said Jesus Christ; and it is easy for the diet to repeat the words of the injunction; but how will they ensure obedience to it? For our part, we promise the most prompt obedience; and through God's help, we will keep our promise. But it is with grief that I am compelled to own, that the church of Rome cannot possibly obey this imperial edict. For alas! they Have no preachers of the Gospel. Moreover, if they were but willing to preach the pure Gospel
Chap, of Christ, there would at once be a most glorious J termination of all our dissensions!—The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. We must therefore pray our heavenly Father that he would send labourers into his harvest: We cannot procure them by our own exertions, neither can the emperor by his edicts bestow them on the church ; They are the gift of heaven. The schools and the colleges of the priests and monks do not furnish them.
" 2. Likewise, where," continued Luther, " will the bishops find learned theologians to superintend the preachings of the clergy, and correct their mistakes by peaceable, mild, and affectionate exhortations, agreeably both to the letter and spirit of this edict? In vain will they look for such characters in the schools and monasteries, or universities: besides—a most wonderful change must take place in the whole department of our ecclesiastical rulers themselves. Their present system is that of coercion, by flames, anathemas, and excommunications. Had they treated me in the Christian manner now recommended by the princes, their own affairs would have been in a much better condition. God grant they may at length profit from the wholesome admonitions of this edict!" He then proceeds thus:
" 3. That article of the edict which prohibits the printing and vending of all books which have not been inspected and approved by proper judges, is entirely agreeable to a practical rule agreed upon in our university at Wittemberg during the last year. The publication of the Scriptures however must in no way be fettered; and this is the only exception.
" 4. And now, ye most kind and benevolent princes," exclaimed the Author, " I must entreat you to mitigate in some respects the severity of your decree against the marriage of the clergy. Consider the revealed will of God, and consider the snares to which the pitiable weaknesses of men are exposed by a compulsion of this sort. I am sure that many, who are at present angry with me for not supporting the Romish system of celibacy, did they but know what I do of the interior practices of the monasteries, would instantly join me in wishing those hiding-places to be levelled with the ground, rather than that they should afford occasion to the commission of such dreadful impieties.
" Your consideration, however, in restraining the punishments of the married ecclesiastics to the penalties of the canon law, implies a severe animadversion on those cruel bishops and princes, who have hitherto been accustomed to torment such offenders against the pope's laws, with perpetual imprisonments, and even with death itself, as if they had committed the most atrocious crimes.
" And I am ready to own further, that, though it is too hard to deprive a pious and faithful clergyman of his benefice, and thereby of his maintenance, for no other fault but because he has contracted an honourable marriage, yet, if the former most important part of your decree, which enjoins the teaching of the Gospel in its purity, be but duly observed, it will necessarily follow that the rigour of the canon law will In Practice be mitigated by the legitimate prevalence of evangelical principles. Hath not our Saviour determined, that Only those are to be expelled from the church, who are convicted of manifest crimes, and obstinately refuse to listen to wholesome reproof? But there is no crime in marrying a wife, or leaving a monastery. And lastly, I cannot but observe, that there is no instance of a clergyman's losing either income or dignity on account of the sin of fornication."
The greatest advantage, which Luther and his cause derived from the decisions of the diet of Nuremberg, has not yet been mentioned; namely, the virtual suspension of the imperial edict of Worms. This, in the present juncture, proved a heavy disappointment on the expectations of the papal party, and the rather, as the duration of the suspension was in fact left undefined, depending on the proceedings of a future general council, the very assembling of which they sincerely deprecated, and at all times did their best to procrastinate.
Accordingly, Luther boldly asserted his right to draw this inference from the terms in which the princes had expressed their edict. " By this decree," said he, " I do maintain that Martin Luther stands absolved from all the consequences of the former sentence of the pope and emperor, until a future council shall have tried his cause, and pronounced their definite sentence. For if this is not the meaning of the decree, I am at a loss to find any other; neither can I understand what else can be the design of this suspension of judgment, and this appeal to a general council." ,
On the contrary, the transactions of the diet of Nuremberg produced much discontent at Rome. The papal courtiers not only derided the childish simplicity of Adrian, in acknowledging disorders in the church which he ought to have concealed, but also censured severely the impolitic expostulations of Cheregato in his reply to the answer of the princes. It was his duty, they said, in the matters of less importance, to have given a favourable construction to some expressions of the diet, and to have connived at others which were less defensible; and in the mean time to have stretched every nerve to the utmost to procure the condemnation of Luther: whereas, by making nice and subtle distinctions, and insisting too much on the precise explanations of particular words, he had increased the ill humour of those determined audacious Germans, and had effected nothing to the advantage of the Roman see: nay, worse than nothing: The authority of the church was weakened ; the sources Cent. of its wealth were stopped; and the heretics would , xv^doubtless become more daring and presumptuous than ever.
These sagacious Italians were not much mistaken in their prognostication. Luther and his disciples, in all their controversial writings after this period, often appealed to the testimony of Adrian, and to the Hundred Grievances enumerated by the representatives of the Germanic body, in confirmation of what they affirmed respecting the abuses and corruptions of the Romish court. The pope himself, if we may credit his historian*, was on the one hand astonished at the obstinacy of the reformers, and on the other, disgusted with the dissolute manners of his courtiers; and not being able to correct either the one or the other, sincerely wished himself again in the more humble situation of dean of Louvain t! Adrian died soon after he had received of from his legate the account of what had passed at Adrian. Nuremberg.
During all these trying scenes, the Saxon Champion of the reformation exhibited a noble example of Christian faith, courage, and resignation. " It is impossible," said he, in a letter to Spalatinus, " that I can be silent when the divine truth is in danger. To propagate the Gospel is the sole object
• Jov. Vit. Ad.
t Adrian was born at Utrecht, of mean parents. He was made dean of St. Peter's, at Louvain, and afterwards provost at Utrecht. Being appointed tutor to prince Charles of Austria, king Ferdinand made him bishop of Tortosa; and through Leo X. he attained to the cardinal's hat. Upon his exaltation to the papacy, the people of Utrecht and Holland showed so much joy, that they wrote upon the tapestry hangings and the walls of their houses, " Utrecht has planted, Louvain watered, and the Emperor given the increase:"—Under which an arch fellow wrote, " God has done nothing at all in this matter." His epitaph deserves to be recorded:—" Here lies Adrian VI. who esteemed the papal government to be the greatest misfortune of his life." Brandt.
Chap, of all my writings. Never do I take up my pen for **• . the purpose of injuring any one. John Faber, vicar of Constance, has recently attacked my doctrines in a work printed at Leipsic. Emser also is about to publish something hostile. For me to pass by these things without notice would be to betray the truth : moreover, the late edict itself expressly provides against all attempts to obstruct the progress of the Gospel. For my part I have no fears. The doctrines which I teach, I am sure are of God; and I am ready to suffer patiently on their account whatsoever it shall please Him to inflict upon me." This letter appears to have been written in reply to the elector, who, in consequence of the late edict, had probably warned Luther afresh to be extremely moderate in his style. The diet, inconsistently, it should seem, with the mild, conciliatory terms of their edict, had commissioned the vicar of Constance to oppose Lutheranism throughout Germany. Our Reformer, in such circumstances, could not remain an indolent spectator of the machinations of his adversaries.
Observe also another memorable instance of the disinterested courage and resolution of this extraordinary Man. The elector and his court had apprehended so much danger to Luther from the diet of Nuremberg, that they would gladly have persuaded him to have once more returned to a place of concealment. " No, no," says he, in a letter to the same friend, " Imagine not that I will again hide myself in a corner, however madly the monsters may rage.
" I perfectly well remember, dear friend, what I wrote to the prince from Borna*; and I wish you would all be induced to believe the contents of that letter. You have now had the most manifest proofs that the hand of God is in this business; for this is the second year in which, beyond the expectation of
* Page 50.
every one, I am yet alive ; and the elector is not Cent. only safe, but also finds the fury of his brethren of . xyL . the Germanic body less violent than during the preceding year. Our prince has not Designedly involved himself in this religious contest: no; it is by the providence of God alone that he finds himself at all concerned in it; and Jesus Christ will have no difficulty to defend him. However, if I could but, without actually disgracing the Gospel, perceive a way of separating him from my difficulties and dangers, I would not hesitate to give up my life. I had fully expected and hoped, that, within the year, I should have been dragged to suffer death; and that was the method of liberating him from danger to which I alluded in my letter,— if indeed such would have been the consequence of my destruction. It appears very plain that at present we are not able to investigate or comprehend the divine counsels ; and therefore it will be the safest for us to say, in the spirit of humble resignation, 'thy Will Be Done.'"
Thus did Luther, in the full conviction of the justice and importance of the cause which he supported, constantly look with a single eye to the protection of that Being, through whose providence he was made an honoured instrument of the revival of Christian truth and liberty. He considered the triumph of the Gospel as a sure event, and at no great distance; he rejoiced in the prospect of it; he had not the smallest anxiety on account of his own personal safety; and he laboured to impress the mind of his prince with similar sentiments of pious expectation, confidence, and fortitude.
The situation of the elector of Saxony was at this Critical time such as to require all the encouragement and the eVectorf advice which his religious and political friends could of Saxony, supply. The duke George had almost persuaded begilmbg the regency at Nuremberg to Oblige Frederic to «f year punish Luther; but this blow was warded by telling lJ' ''
Chap, the duke, that, as he had been particularly of, fended by the Reformer, it would be more proper for him to apply alone to the elector for redress. Planitz, during the sittings of the regency, informed his master the elector, " that for the last three months, whenever any question had been moved respecting Luther, there had always broken out such a flaming spirit of obstinate resistance to the Gospel, that he feared God in his anger would inflict some heavy judgment upon so irreligious a country." Yet the members of this very regency, in their late deliberations, had displayed a disposition much more inclined to equity and moderation than on former occasions; insomuch that the Suabian league, as it was called, were supposed to be concerting violent measures, which had for their objects both the ruin of the elector of Saxony and the dissolution of the regency of Nuremberg.—The conduct of the duke George at this critical juncture was not a little suspicious. At Nuremberg he spake freelyof the dangerwith which his nephews Frederic and John were threatened, of losing their possessions and rank in the empire ; and he refused to take his seat in the regency, alleging as a reason, that the princes whom Luther, in his writings, had charged with the commission of high crimes, ought to prove themselves innocent before they were admitted to offices of trust and authority. His real designs, however, were easily discerned through this political finesse. If the nephews of George should eventually, on account of their attachment to the reformation, be plundered and degraded, their uncle, it was believed, hoped to be proportionally enriched, and exalted ; and moreover, the example of extraordinary conscientiousness and self-denial of the duke, in declining to act in an important official situation, because he at that time laboured under the accusations of Luther, was, no doubt, intended by him to facilitate the introduction of a resolution among the princes, that all persons proscribed by the edict of Worms should be deprived of their rights, privileges, and possessions. For if so great purity of character was required of men in public situations of dignity and trust, that the grave, the religious duke George had refused to take his seat among the regents till he had acquitted himself of the calumnies of Luther, how could any other member of the Germanic body, whatever might be his rank or title, pretend to a just claim of precedence and sovereignty, while, either directly or indirectly, he remained under the Ban of the empire by the legitimate decision of the diet of Worms ?
The hypocrisy, avarice, and ambition, which could suggest to the mind of this prince so flimsy a pretext, for the purpose of aggrandizing his own fortunes by the ruin of those of his near relations, have cast an indelible stain on the memory of the duke George of Saxony.
How striking is the contrast, and how honourable to the cause of religion, when we compare the conduct of Frederic and of Luther at this period with that of their enemies!
The elector, though oppressed with age and infirmities, was still in the full possession of his intellectual faculties, and continued to merit the appellation of Frederic the Wise. His penetrating eye foresaw the conspiracy which was then forming by the pope, the emperor, and several of the most bigoted of the German princes, with the express intent of crushing the infant reformation, and also every power that was friendly to its progress. But neither the firmness nor the integrity of this good prince, whenever the course he should steer seemed distinct and certain, could be shaken by the most alarming appearances*. In this
* This part of the character of the elector of Saxony has been already abundantly exemplified. The timidity and ambiguity of conduct which appeared in this prince on some occasions arose from doubts in bis understanding, not from defect of
Chap, year, 1523, he is well known to have secretly medi**' . tated the defence of himself and his persecuted subjects even by Force*; but was interrupted by entertaining serious doubts concerning the lawfulness of using arms under his very peculiar circumstances. For however disgusted Frederic might be with the political intrigues of Adrian and Charles V. or however indignant on account of the many tyrannical oppressions of the civil and ecclesiastical rulers, it was not hispractice to give way to resentment or revenge, but rather to seek relief to his anxious and burdened mind by a diligent investigation of his duty. Accordingly, he solemnly required Luther, Bugenhagius, and Melancthon, to write their deliberate sentiments on the following question. " Whether it was lawful for the elector of Saxony, in case his subjects, on account of their religion, should suffer violence either from the emperor or any of the German princes, to protect them by arms." These great and good men decided at once, That It Was Not Lawful ; and principally for these reasons. 1. The princes were not yet fully convinced in their consciences of the truth of the reformed system of evangelical doctrine. 2. Neither had their subjects implored their protection against violence and persecution. 3. Nor had the several states of the provinces deliberated on the point. 4. Lastly, Those, who in their own defence have recourse to arms, ought, before all things, to be assured of the justice of their cause "f.
Thus, notwithstanding the success with which the reformation had hitherto been attended, there seemed rising considerable obstacles to its further progress.—Luther disdained to hide himself a second
courage or honesty; and here again, not so much from doubts
of existing grievances, as from scruples of conscience respecting
that degree of resistance which, in redressing the grievances,
he might be justified in making to the established authorities.
* Hortleder, Histor.
t Hortleder the historian had in his possession the original of this answer. Seek. 263.
time from the fury of his adversaries; and his friend Frederic, from scruples of conscience, did not dare to draw the sword in his defence. Both the Saxon elector and the Saxon reformer appeared, therefore, to be in most critical and perilous situations; and the wisest advocates of Lutheranism did not see how the loss of either of them could be repaired. In fact, the powers of Antichrist were now roused, and become outrageous ; and had shown symptoms of an intention to collect their strength, and to act in concert, -with more system and decision than they had hitherto done from the commencement of the ecclesiastical dissensions.
The clouds, however, which seemed to thicken over the elector of Saxony, his subjects and his dominions, were soon dispersed, through the wise dispositions of that kind, overruling Providence, on which Luther entirely relied, and which in its secret counsels, had determined to break the rod of the oppressor *, and to bestow on the nations the blessings of a revival of Christian truth and Christian liberty. The emperor was so much involved in multiplied schemes of enterprise and ambition, that he found it impossible to give any serious and durable attention to the contests in Germany; and it soon appeared, that without his active co-operation, the rest of the confederates could effect nothing decisive. The apprehensions therefore of Frederic and his ministers respecting the safety of his electorate, or the necessity of a defensive war, were much relieved; and the patient industrious reformers had only to struggle with their usual difficulties, arising from the persecutions of such individuals as frequently happened to be unfortunate victims of cruel bigots in possession of power.—Among the unrelenting tyrants of this class, is particularly distinguished the archduke Ferdinand, the brother of Charles V. who was so much inflamed with resentment against * Isaiah, ix.
Chap, the Saxon reformer and his cause, that he declared, , , he had much rather his sister the queen of Denmark, had been sunk in the depths of the sea, than that she should ever have conversed with Luther at Wittemberg.
The unfortunate Queen, whom we have just mentioned, was compelled to seek an asylum out of Denmark, with her exiled husband Christiern the Second, who in the year 1523 fled from Copenhagen with twenty ships, together with his queen and children, and all his private treasure. This unhappy prince, in his passage to the continent, was overtaken by a violent tempest, which dispersed his fleet, and reduced him to the last extremity. At length he arrived with his family at Tervere in Zeeland *, dispatched a messenger to his brother-in-law Charles V. and entertained the most sanguine hopes that, through the assistance of so powerful an ally, he should soon be restored to his former dignity and possessions. His queen Elizabeth also came to Nuremberg, to implore the help of her brother Ferdinand and of the German princes. But unfortunately for this object, she had received many of Luther's books from Albert duke of Prussia, had made an open profession of the reformed religion, and in 1524 had publicly received the sacrament in both kinds. This last step so provoked Ferdinand, that he told her in plain terms, " he heartily wished she was not his sister." " Certainly," replied the queen, " we are descended from one and the same mother; nevertheless, I must adhere closely to the word of God, and to that On Ly, without the least respect to persons ; in all other concerns, I am ready to obey my brother's pleasure ; and if, on that account, he refuses to own me for De»th of his sister, I shall endeavour to bear the cross with lfe Den-" patience." On the subject of her own calamitous m»rk. situation, as well as that of her husband, she is said
* Meursii Histor. Danica.
to have expressed herself so pathetically before the Cent. princes, as to have constrained every one present to . . shed tears. She obtained from them, however, no satisfactory promises of assistance; and this excellent queen soon after departed this life, her death being probably hastened by affliction and misfortune, and the unkind treatment of her nearest relations. She was buried at Ghent*; and her husband informed Luther, that, notwithstanding the very great pains which had been taken by persons of the greatest distinction to persuade her to return to popery, she had received the Lord's supper according to the just ordinance of Christ, and died in the exercise of sound and lively evangelical faith.
The two northern kingdoms of Denmark and Prugrewof Sweden were now uniting themselves to the cause of i,m!uSDenProtestantism; and as the religious revolutions in mark ,n*' those regions were brilliant and rapid, they must, we en" no doubt, eventually have been productive of much spiritual good. Our account of this happy change in the north must, however, be brief, because little, except the political and external circumstances, has found its way into authentic history.
In the year 1522, at the request of Christiern II. Mo"tiv",il"nt king of Denmark, a preacher named Martin was tenlbrrgVo sent from Wittemberg: and his evangelical labours Pf""h lo
L -r- 6 • 1 1 1 . . the Danes:
among the Danes received the royal approbation . D and encouragement. But the enormous vices of this | ^22. prince, which would have disgraced any religious system, proved an effectual bar to the progress of the Reformation. Expelled from his throne on account of his tyranny, profligacy, and cruelties, and forced to wander through a foreign country in want and disgrace, he discovered some symptoms of compunction and even of repentance. At least, during his intercourse among his religious friends, his external conduct indicated a grave and decorous attention to
* In the beginning of 1545. Cbytra;us. VOL. V. K
Chap, spiritual concerns. We find him in the year 1523 vi. I- siting his uncle, the elector of Saxony, at Schweinitz, lihr»iiiu" a town belonging to this prince; and, in the autumn ihe elector of the same year, he sent for Luther from Wittemof Sa»onj: berg, and heard him preach at the same town, in the A' D" palace of Frederic, with so great satisfaction, that he J 523- declared in his whole life he had never before heard the Gospel so explained; and that while he lived, he should never forget that sermon ; and moreover, that, with God's help, he should endure more patiently whatever might befal him. Still I fear, if the plan of this history admitted a circumstantial detail of the crimes committed by Christiern II. while he sat on his throne, the charity and candour of the reader would be put to a severe trial in admitting, without some further substantial evidence, the probability of the genuine conversion of so infamous a character. His public apology, or defence of his conduct, dispersed throughout Germany, though to the last degree affecting and lamentable, exhibits but little of the spirit of a truly humble penitent. The reflection, however, of Luther on his case may deserve to be transcribed. " Perhaps," said he, " God in his ap
Eointed time will call this king and queen to his eavenly kingdom, that he may appear marvellous in confounding the measures of human foresight; for most certainly he is a king of whose sound and thorough reformation our judgments could never reasonably have formed any favourable conjectures."
Frederic the duke of Holstein succeeded his nephew Christiern II. in the throne of Denmark; and under him, and still more under his successor Christiern HI. the blessed change of the religious establishment was completed in that kingdom.—Of Christiern II. little more is known, than that ou returning into Denmark, and making some attempts to recover his throne, he was taken prisoner, and ended his days in captivity.
The judicious student of ecclesiastical history can scarcely fail to reflect how extremely palpable the Cent. wickedness and folly of the popish system must > xvj have been, when the opposition of a prince so notoriously cruel, and in every respect unprincipled, as Christiern II. was able so effectually to shake its foundations, that it could never after recover either credit or stability in Denmark.
I know no evidence that Elizabeth, the good queen of Christiern II. was in any degree a partner with her husband in his injustice and cruelty; and Luther justly observes, that, if she could but have been persuaded to deny the Gospel of Christ, she might, perhaps have been restored to her kingdom, through the active interference of her powerful brothers, Charles the emperor, and Ferdinand the archduke*. Charles V. about this time, was beginning to astonish all Europe with the blaze of secular glory, and was also cruelly persecuting the people of God throughout Flanders. The Christian reader, who finds no satisfaction in the contemplation of such scenes of ambition and iniquity, will willingly retire from them, and learn useful instruction from a serious review of the dealings of Providence with the near relative of the emperor, the exiled queen of Denmark. This extraordinary personage, after a severe discipline of humiliating afflictions, died in peace; and there is very solid ground to hope that the sister found rest in the application of that Gospel to the relief of her spiritual necessities, which the brother denominated heresy, schism, and sedition.
The religious revolutions of Holstein, a duchy bordering on Denmark, well deserve a place in this narrative. Several students of divinity from that country had visited the university of Wittemberg, induced by what they had heard of Luther's talents and learning. On their return, it soon appeared that they had caught the salutary flame which had already exhilarated the hearts of so many foreigners. • Comment, de Luth. XLII.
Both in public and in private, among their countrymen, they most industriously spread the reformation they had obtained from their great Saxon master.
Herman Tast, in the year 1522, was the first, who, when he found the church at Husum shut against him by the popish clergy, preached boldly under a tree in the churchyard, a course of most excellent sermons to a numerous audience: and this same pastor also two years after preached at Gardingen the first public sermon which was ever composed according to the sound principles of the reformed religion, and delivered in a regular way from the pulpit in that country: for in 1524 Frederic I. king of Denmark and duke of Holstein, made it a capital offence for any person to take away the life, or injure the property or dignity of another, on account of his religion, whether Papal or Lutheran. This prince, in matters of religion, allowed all his subjects a most complete toleration. They were so to conduct themselves, as best to satisfy their own consciences before God. At the same time, however, he ordered the most solemn and explicit directions to be given, that the errors of the Romish church should be publicly reprobated, and the evangelical doctrines of the reformers recommended to the people. But the inhabitants of Ditmarsen, an intractable race of men, refused to obey the king's edict, and committed to the flames, in this same year, Henry Muller, a zealous preacher of pure Christianity, who had formerly been prior of the monastery at Antwerp, had afterwards preached two years at Bremen, and lastly had been introduced among the savage Ditmarsians by their superintendent, a man of piety and religion. In other parts of Frederic's dominions the royal edict was dutifully obeyed, and proved a great bulwark against the violence and cruelty of the papists. Under its protection the Lutheran ministers confronted and engaged their adversaries by the methods of fair argumentation; and were wonderfully successfu\ in propagating divine truth. Even some of the Cent.
Roman champions acknowledged their convictions, v XVI- , and bowed to the authority of reason and Scripture. Others, meanwhile, persevered in their inveterate prejudices, and continued to support a pertinacious opposition to the Lutheran doctrines. Very remarkable is the case of a certain monk of the isle of Fore. This man, who had travelled from home for the ex- story o/ a press purpose of exhorting his neighbouring frater- "i""^"^* nity to remain faithful and constant to the papal superstitions, declared, that he wished he might never again reach his habitation alive and safe if the Romish creed was not true. In his return, he fell from his horse, and was killed on the spot. " And thus," says the author of this account, " the event corresponded with the imprecation; and a pile of stones, which was raised in memory of it, points out at this day to travellers the place where the thing happened." —Profane readers or writers, in a profane age, may treat with contempt the introduction of such a relation as this into sober, authentic history; but their taste does not seem a sufficient reason for omitting a brief but circumstantial narration of a fact which so judicious a person as SeckendorrT thought worthy of notice, and which, moreover, as he particularly informs us, was transmitted to him by Dr. Kortholt, a man of most excellent character, and a very eminent divine of the university of Kiel in the duchy of Holstein.
In Sweden, the renowned Gustavus Vasa, having in his youth lived an exile at Lubec, and there gained some information concerning the grounds of Lutheranism, and having afterwards been further instructed by Laurentius and Olaus Petri, two disciples of Luther, no sooner saw himself in firm possession of the throne than he determined to reform the church. Under his auspices a public disputation was held at Upsal, between Olaus Petri* on one
* See Appendix. Olaus Petri.
side, in support of Luther's system, and Peter Galle on the other, as a defender of the papal dogmas; and the sum of their argumentation was afterwards published. Also, by the king's order, Andreas his chancellor was employed in translating the Scriptures into the Swedish language; and no means were omitted for enlightening the minds of the people. The effects were rapid and decisive, and Sweden from that day has ranked invariably among the protestant nations.
A royal proclamation by Gustavus, in substance as follows, must have been extremely beneficial to the Reformers. " We do not deny that our care is for the true religion founded on the word of God. There can be no better religion than that which Christ and his apostles have delivered to us. Here there is no place for dispute. But, respecting certain ceremonies, questions are raised, and more especially respecting the privileges of the clergy. It is true, that we find learned men are desirous of abolishing several useless external rites, but there is not the least ground for calumniating us, as though we wished to introduce any other religion than that which is truly Christian. Our single aim is, to worship God in spirit and truth, and to become a partaker of the joys of heaven with all Christ's faithful servants. Let not our beloved subjects, therefore, listen to slanderous reports concerning their sovereign ; but remain assured that our thoughts are employed how we may best promote the glory of God, and their eternal welfare. It is not long ago, since we learnt what fraudulent means the Roman pontiff has employed to drain this kingdom of large sums of money, through the institution of private masses and indulgences. And in regard to other countries, men of the best information have proved, beyond contradiction, by what variety of deceitful methods the bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries make a gain of the simple; and how they burden wretched
consciences, and multiply acts of hypocrisy. The Cent. luxurious prelates now see that these evil practices , j^XL , are detected and exposed by persons of the greatest piety and knowledge; and therefore they set their faces against the truth with all their might, and cry out, Innovation and Heresy! But, believe them not. —We seriously exhort you to Ijglieve them not; for there is not one word of truth in their malicious accusations*."
Let no one, however, conclude that this glorious triumph of religious truth took place without much clamour and opposition from the established hierarchy. Antichrist was seriously alarmed, and exerted his utmost efforts to prevent the fall of his tottering pillars.—The preceding proclamation sufficiently intimates this.—
In fact, the dignified clergy, and their adherents Convoca. in the convocation at Upsal, boldly maintained that "on no person, under pain of excommunication and A ' eternal damnation, could on any account whatever | deprive the prelates of their wealth and privileges.
To this the king and the friends of the Reformation coolly replied, " That true ministers of the church, especially those who diligently instructed the people, deserved more than a decent maintenance ; they were worthy even ' of double honour;' but that the lazy and licentious drones, who neither served God nor man, ought to have no public stipend whatever: moreover, that there was not one syllable in the Scriptures to justify that immense political power and revenue which the clergy had usurped, and which had enabled them, for some centuries past, to withstand their lawful governors, and disturb kingdoms with endless wars and seditions."
The contest was now advancing fast to a crisis. The monks, and the rest of the papal clergy, observed no bounds in their resentment. Throughout Sweden, and also in foreign countries, they calum* Baazius Histor.
mated their excellent king as a heretic, and unworthy of the throne. In Dalecarlia they even excited the people to seditious and treasonable practices ; and because the kingdom happened then to suffer grievously from a great scarcity of corn, they taught the vulgar to believe that the present famine was a judgment of Almighty God on the country, for receiving the new religion. By such artifices of the bishops and priests, the inhabitants of many provinces became so disaffected to the government, that they refused to pay their annual taxes.
Yet the Swedish monarch had already done everything in the cause of Christian truth which could be expected from a pious, wise, and magnanimous prince. Like king David, he had begun with reforming his own court; and suffered none but religious characters to approach his person, or to fill the great offices of state. He had instituted a General Visitation of the whole country By HimSelf, in which he was accompanied by evangelical preachers, and particularly by that excellent Lutheran theologian, Olaus Petri, whom he had previously appointed Secretary of Stockholm. In adopting this admirable measure, the king had proposed to instruct his ignorant subjects in the great principles of the Christian religion, and to guard them against erroneous notions concerning faith and works, and predestination ; and also against the innumerable corruptions of the Romish Church. Moreover, in the execution of it he had listened to the advice of the experienced German reformers; namely, not to hurt the tender consciences of the well-meaning but uninformed part of the people, by an over-hasty abolition of such ceremonies and superstitions, as might be suffered to remain without manifest impiety. This moderation was become the more necessary, because in Sweden, as formerly in Germany, there had arisen, in the early part of the Reformation, fanatics of the Anabaptist class, who excited the people to the most outrageous acts of tumult and sedition. At Stock- Cent. holm, they had entered the great church of St. John, . x^1and in the most audacious manner had removed, or broken to pieces, the organs, statues, and images therein; and their riotous example was followed throughout almost every part of the kingdom.
At this moment the situation of Sweden seems to have been truly critical. On the one hand, an enthusiastic zeal for innovation, and on the other, a blind attachment to superstitious ceremonies, inflamed the minds of many, and divided them into parties; and there was constantly at hand an active, ambitious, and powerful clergy, ready to take every advantage of these internal dissensions. It soon appeared, however, that, even in this perilous conjuncture, there existed in Gustavus a combination of qualities fully equal to the emergency.
This determined prince, in the summer of the year coroea1527, at the Convocation of Arosen, summoned jjj^JJj together all the constituted orders and authorities, ecclesiastical and civil, in his dominions, with the full A* D* purpose of bringing to speedy issue the important 1527' question concerning the regulation of the doctrines, the revenues, and the powers of the church. He directed the senators of the kingdom to be placed next to the throne, and the bishops next to the senators. The nobles occupied the third class, the parochial clergy the fourth, and the commons the fifth. This arrangement was an unpardonable offence in the eyes of the bishops; and the extraordinary measure which they instantly adopted in consequence,
strongly marks the domineering spirit of the Roman catholic clergy, and shows also how entirely regardless they were of observing good faith with those who did not exhibit implicit obedience to the papal system. They met secretly in the church of St. Giles, to deliberate on their present situation. " What is to be done, my brethren?" said the bishop of Linkio* ping: " It is plain enough the king means to degrade
us : he means to take from us those castles and fortified places which pious kings have of old granted to the bishops of this country; and probably his next step will be to deprive us of our lands and revenues." Two of the junior and more moderate bishops answered, " Let us not contest the matter with his majesty : for if we have no secular possessions, we cannot be called upon to contribute to the defence of the state." " This is a most serious business," replied the bishop of Linkioping: " If we make these concessions, we shall bring upon ourselves the indignation and eternal anathema of the Roman pontiff. Kings and emperors, in former times, have made similar attempts upon the property of the clergy, but were deterred from executing their designs, by the dread of pontifical excommunication. Make your choice then, brethren, never to disobey the pope: he is the asylum of the church, and he will defend you." Every one present declared his firm resolution to defend the Roman pontiff and the established hierarchy; and they subscribed a solemn protest against any degradation of their dignity, or diminution of revenue. They then buried the writing under a sepulchre, covered it with stones, and took a solemn oath not to reveal the secret. But it was dug up fifteen years afterwards, and shown to Gustavus, as a proof of the treachery of the papal bishops, at the commencement of the Reformation.
In this memorable convocation, Gustavus through his chancellor, complained heavily of the indolence, luxury, and impiety of the superior clergy; and also of the excessive ill usage which he had personally received from the papal faction. They had every where represented him as a heretic, a teacher of novel doctrines, and as one who endeavoured to disseminate among the people a corrupt religion. He had reprimanded, he said, the archbishop of Upsal for neglect of duty, and, in particular, had ordered him to take care that the Bible should be translated into the Swedish language ; but that that prelate, instead of obeying his directions, and reforming the abuses in the church, had maliciously excited tumults and seditions among his good subjects, afterwards plundered the inferior clergy, and at last fled with much wealth from his country. In brief, and agreeably to what he had stated in his proclamation, he wished the faithful, laborious clergy, to be well rewarded; at the same time that he would have the ignorant, the idle, and the useless, to be deprived of the revenues which they so undeservedly possessed, and which ought to be applied to the public service. If a speedy emendation to this effect was not agreed to by the bishops and senate, he would no longer undertake the government of the country. On this head, therefore, he required a clear and categorical answer.
Upon hearing the king's proposal, the convocation was almost in an uproar. The prelates, and other papal adherents, cried, No! No! with the utmost clamour, and called loudly on the leading men of the country to withstand such unjust innovations.
But the pious and disinterested Gustavus had formed a resolution, from which even the splendor of a.crown could not induce him to depart. He came into the assembly, and there publicly resigned the government of the kingdom. With some warmth, but with great decency and firmness, he informed them, that he had made his choice, and that his conscience did not permit him to support a superstitious and depraved system of religion. He added, that he had determined to leave the country, but expected them to pay him the price of his hereditary possessions.
The great body of the Swedish representatives, namely, the Commons in the convocation, were now so much enraged at the conduct of the refractory bishops, as to signify to them in terms by no means obscure, that, if they did not instantly
Chap, comply with the pleasure of their beloved sovereign, t , they would soon feel the vengeance of the people inflicted on their obstinacy and disobedience. Moreover, that the reasonableness of the king's demand might be placed in the clearest light, it was agreed that Peter Galle and Olaus Petri should once more try their strength publicly, in dispute, on the question of ecclesiastical power and privilege, as they had formerly done on the controverted points of evangelical doctrine. The combatants met accordingly ; and Olaus Petri, the Lutheran disciple, spoke in the Swedish language ; but the papal advocate, P. Gale, persisted in the use of Latin, till the whole audience exclaimed aloud, " Say what you have to say in the Swedish language!"
This free discussion had a mighty influence on all the members of the convocation, except the most violent and determined partisans of popery, who on the third day of the session were completely overpowered with numbers. This memorable assembly concluded its proceedings, by humbly beseeching Gustavus to resume his government, and by precisely defining the ecclesiastical privileges and revenues. Among their several regulations and decrees, published with the king's signature, there is this clause: " No one shall be ordained a clergyman who is either unwilling to preach, or who does not know how to preach the pure word of God * "
This curious and instructive account of the beginning of the Reformation in Sweden may well deserve a place in these memoirs: and when it is considered that the disciples of Luther were the chief instruments of its success, it can scarcely be deemed a digression from the subject of this chapter. It may be said, indeed, and with great probability of truth, that under a prince of less pious dispositions and less splendid talents than those of the renowned * Baazius.
Swedish monarch, the puny efforts of two or three Cent. evangelical teachers could have availed but little , XV^L „ against the whole weight and prevalence of the papal influence: but this is in fact no more than to affirm, what no believer of a Divine Providence will deny, that, whenever the great Disposer of all events purposes either to visit mankind with penal judgments, or bles's them with merciful dispensations, he is InFallible: in exactly proportioning his means to those ends, which, in the depth and wisdom of his counsels he has previously designed shall surely come to pass.
The reformation in Sweden continued to proceed The Rewith vigour and discretion, under the protection of proTeedTin Gustavus Vasa, and principally through the advice Sweden, of his secretary Olaus Petri, who, in the year 1529, by°Oust»published a more distinct explanation of the great TM>Vas»: Christian doctrine of Justification by faith, and also A* Da new ritual in the Swedish language, in which the 1529* official rules for marriage, baptism, burial of the dead, and the administration of the Lord's supper, were very much cleared from Romish superstitions and encumbrances*.
" How delightful a spectacle to a true Christian, to see distinctly, and, as it were, with his own eyes, a contest on the spot between Christ and Antichrist !" Such is the observation of a pious and excellent annalist, to whom we are indebted for much of the preceding information concerning the revival of evangelical doctrine throughout Europe
• Appendix. Olaus Petri.
The resolutions of the states assembled at Arosen (or Westeraas, as it is otherwise called,) did not tend to fix or regulate many doctrinal articles, but rather to reduce the clergy to a more dependent condition. These, by repeated grants from a superstitious nobility, were become Opulent, dissolute, and luxurious; and, moreover, they possessed so many castles and places of strength, that they were able, at any time, to excite dangerous commotions in the kingdom, and even to give laws to the sovereign himself. On the other hand, the men of rank
Chap, in this period *. " Whatever machinations," contihues the same author, " either the pope or the emperor and his creatures devised for the purpose of obstructing the progress of Chuistian Truth, Jesus Christ overruled them all to the advantage and furtherance of the same. The bull of the pope, the thunder of the emperor, did not frighten men, but, on the contrary, animated them to embrace the Gospel." In fact, the blessed Reformation was spreading itself far and wide; and almost all the European nations hailed the dawn of truth, and exulted in the prospect of spiritual freedom.
and family were impoverished beyond example, through the rapacity of a devouring, insatiable hierarchy. It was in vain, therefore, until this enormous power of the numerous prelates, acting in concert with the Roman pontiff at their head, was restrained within moderate bounds, to expect any substantial reformation of the ecclesiastical establishment. When the edicts of Westeraas had settled this indispensable preliminary, and not before, Gustavus condescended to resume the sceptre, and bless his subjects with a purer religion.
The mixture of firmness and moderation displayed by this monarch, in all these transactions, is truly admirable. By imprisoning, and afterwards banishing, several of the disciples of Munzer, who had been convicted of committing riots at Stockholm, and by other instances of well-timed severity, he soon repressed the dangerous spirit both of fanaticism and sedition, which had disturbed the peace of the country. And further, bydirecting translations of the Scriptures into the Swedish language to be every where dispersed among the people, he invited the more judicious part of his subjects to exercise their own judgments in religious concerns, and thus prepared their minds for the salutary emendations gradually introduced afterwards by Olaus into the formularies and confessions of the Swedish church. Lastly, though no specific system of doctrine was adopted at Westeraas, yet the mere provision of intelligent pastors, to preach throughout the kingdom the pure word of God to the people, in their native language, must have been found extremely efficient in promoting the same excellent purposes. Add to all this, that the progress of evangelical light and truth, through the different districts and provinces, was become abundantly more rapid, since Olaus, in the public disputation at Upsal, had gained so very signal a victory over his opponent P. Galle, the zealous defender of the ancient Romish corruptions.
• Abraham Scultet. Annal. Evang.
In Hungary, even in the year 1522, the fame of AUoJn the deliverance of various states and provinces from Hungary: papal chains had excited in the minds of the people A' D* a most prodigious desire not only to become par- 1J22, takers of the pure reformed religion, but also to see Luther himself, from whose instructions they expected to derive, in the easiest and happiest way, the best system of heavenly doctrine, and also the wisest method of cultivating sacred learning.— Among the young students who came from this country to Wittemberg, with the intention of consulting Luther and hearing his lectures, Martinus Cyriac is particularly mentioned as the first who appears from the academical registers to have been matriculated in this year, when Philip Melancthon was rector or provost of the university.
Lewis, the king of Hungary and Bohemia, was a bitter enemy of the Reformers ; but Divine Providence raised them up an excellent and powerful patron in George marquis of Brandenburg. This illustrious prince began about the same time to discover a relish for evangelical knowledge ; and, as he was grand-master of the royal household, he had frequent opportunities of softening or entirely doing away the charges and complaints which were frequently laid before the king against the disciples of Luther. Under his auspices, and those of the dukes of Lignitz and Munsterberg, a considerable reformation took place among the churches in Silesia, And amtng and particularly at Breslaw, the capital city of that churcountry; and it appears that in the succeeding year . the inhabitants of these regions were blessed with A. D. an additional influx of the salutary and refreshing 1523. beams of the light of the Gospel *.
It would be inexcusable to omit in this history of the Church of Christ, a short but precious frag- T!"\TM'the ment of biography relative to John Thurzo, bishop fh"p of of Breslaw, in Silesia. This good prelate was Br«Uw• Scultct. 1522.
Chap, descended from a noble family in Hungary, and is . 1X' , said to have been the very first papal bishop who in his diocese was favourable to the revival of pure Christianity.
The very little that is known of Thurzo is to be collected from a concise epistle of Luther, and Melanc- another still more concise of Melancthon, addressed lhuu- to him so early as the year 1520. He did not live to receive either of them; and Luther, on the occasion of his decease, says in a letter to a friend, " In this faith died John Thurzo bishop of Breslaw, of all the bishops of this age the very best *." Luther Luther, in his letter to the dying prelate, ex
Tho'iotn Pressed n's feelings thus: " Not only myself, but lssjorVHt- the church of God, very much sympathizes with hi" defaiTM Yon' ^-everen^ father, in your present sickness. For it is a lamentable truth, both that there are now actually few Such bishops, and, also, that there never existed a greater need of them. However, I have a good hope, that the hand which has inflicted your malady, will itself heal you ; and that He, who has furnished you, Reverend father, with such extraordinary gifts, will enable you to go through all the trials to which his holy will shall call you, with a firm Christian spirit, and like a faithful bishop. But if the church must be deprived of you, then may He, who is all-powerful to promote the good of his faithful people, whether it be by your life or your death, be pleased to bless the event to their profit, according to the riches of his good will. I do not write this on the supposition of its being necessary to strengthen you in the Lord, —though indeed who is so strong as not to need sometimes the help even of his weakest brother?— but from a belief in that communion of saints ordained by Christ, which makes all the faithful partakers both of the blessings and of the burdens of each other. Thus, Reverend father, your sickness, • II. EP. 7.
or, if it so please God, your death, is to be con- Cent. sidered as a common evil; yet on the other hand it v__l^L_, is a delightful reflection, that We suffer or rejoice with you, and that Jesus Christ also, who is ever in the very centre of our hearts, rejoices with us all when we rejoice, and when we suffer, is touched with our infirmities. Your former letters afforded me great satisfaction; they are full of charity and humility."
Melancthon's letter to Thurzo does not advert to the bishop's ill state of health, but contains the following passage: " Who is there that does not think highly of the man, who, as far as I know, is the only person in Germany, that by his authority, learning, and piety, has exhibited an example of what a bishop ought to be ? If the Christian world could but enumerate ten characters of this stamp, or, as it is in Homer, of this spirit and way of thinking, I should not doubt of seeing the kingdom of Christ again restored."
The pious Thurzo died in August 1520; but the Timrzo«ii«: Reformation does not appear to have suffered mate- A. D. rially from this loss. His successor, James of Saltza, 15'i0trode in his steps. This bishop appointed, with the entire approbation of the inhabitants, John Hesse of J-Hes9e of Nuremberg, who was a learned doctor of divinity, Nurembers" and a dear friend of Luther, to preach the Gospel in the church of St. M. Magdalen at Breslaw. Hesse not only explained and enforced the great truths of Christianity from the pulpit, but for eight days together, in a public disputation, defended the same, and exposed the papal dogmas concerning the mass and the celibacy of the clergy.—The name of Ambrose Moiban is mentioned as his coadjutor in preaching, and that of Valentine Trocedorf in the disputation. The report of these proceedings was as agreeable to Luther as it proved vexatious to the pope. The latter was so much out of humour with the magistrates of Breslaw, on account of their late
Vol. v. L
Chap, ecclesiastical appointments, and their protection of . . the novel doctrines, that he wrote a letter to them full of censures and menaces. This however had no other effect than to induce them to defend their conduct in a printed apology, which contains a most lively description of the corrupt manners of their former pastors, as well as of the wretched state of the ecclesiastical government in general. Thus happily proceeded the Reformation in Silesia. In defiance of the pope, the senate and the inhabitants of Breslaw Drath of retained and supported John Hesse in the pastoral Hes»e. office to which they had chosen him; and he died after having discharged the ministerial office in the same city during the space of twenty-five years*. Moreover, about the same time was established in the duchy of Lignitz a school of considerable reputation, the preceptors and governors of which had all been educated in the university of Wittembergf.
The cross, however,—the constant attendant, in some shape or other, on true religion,—was now severely felt by Lutherans, in every place where papal enmity had an opportunity of exerting itself with effect. Lewis king of Hungary and Bohemia, not content with making formal complaints to the elector of Saxony of the patronage afforded by that prince to the arch-heretic Luther, inflicted great severities on such of his own subjects as received the protestant tenets. His principal agent in this business was the bishop of Olmutz. Then in Misnia and Thuringia the unrelenting George of Saxony laboured to extirpate evangelical truth by imprisonment, fines, banishment, and at length by capital punishments. Even his brother Henry, duke of Friberg, who had shown some symptoms of good-will to the reformers, overawed by this determined persecutor, ejected from his house and the company of his duchess three ladies
* See Appendix. Hesse. See also Seek. 270—971. and Melancth. Ep. III. 126.
+ Scultet. et Melcbior Adam.
of noble birth, merely because they had been guilty Cent. of reading Luther's books. Similar cruelties were , XX1practised in other parts, particularly at Miltenberg*; the protestants of which town are said to have been the first who were exposed to the violence of the military on account of their religion. John Draco f, their pastor, fled to save his life; and Luther wrote to his afflicted congregation an admirable consolatory letter, in which he declares, that it would soon appear that if in one place the doctrine of the word was oppressed, it would rise again in ten others. It grieved him, he said, exceedingly, that those who approved his sentiments should be called Lutherans rather than lovers of the Gospel; nevertheless the doctrine would stand whether he lived or died, or however the adversaries might rage; yet he owned that the progress of the true faith met with melancholy impediments from the want of practical godliness, and particularly of the spirit of prayer J.
But the persecution of Flanders was the most fe- Persecurocious. There Alexander, armed with the authority FUnderi. of the pope, and supported by the united power of the inquisition and of the civil government, exercised the vengeance of the hierarchy without mercy. The writings of Luther had infected the Augustinian monks at Antwerp. Some of them were imprisoned, and recanted; but three, in spite of persuasion, threats, and long confinement, remained steady These were publicly stript of their holy orders, and declared heretics on a scaffold at Brussels, about the middle of the year 1523.
* Sometimes called Milteberg, Mildeberg, or even Milberg; but this last with less propriety. See p. 94, near the bottom. It is situated on the Maine, in the electorate of Mentz.
f Erasmus says of this Draco, " that he was a youth of so sweet a temper, and of such blameless morals, that no good man could fail to love him." Epistol.
t Ep. II. 185. See Appendix. Draco. § Brandt.
Martyrdom Two of the three, viz. Henry Voes and John ofVoe^nd Eschj cheerfully underwent the fiery trial on the same day, testifying a wonderful constancy. As they were led to the stake, they cried with a loud voice that they were Christians; and when they were fastened to it, and the fire was kindled, they rehearsed the Creed, and after that sang the verses alternately of Te Deura laudamus till the flames deprived them of voice and life.—Voes confessed before the inquisitors, that he had been brought to the knowledge of the Gospel by Luther's writings. " What," said they, " has Luther the Spirit of God?" No reply.— " You are seduced by Luther:" " I am seduced," answered Voes, " in the same manner as the apostles were by Christ."
This was the first blood that was shed in the Low Countries in the cause of religion, since the rise of Luther. The two martyrs exhibited throughout the conflict astonishing proofs of piety, patience, and constancy. The whole is finely described by a very learned person who was an eye-witness of their sufferings*.
The name of the third was Lambert, who, according to Luther, received the crown of martyrdom in like manner at the stake, four days afterfErasmus says, he was taken back to prison, and there Privately dispatched J. This author, who certainly hated these abominable cruelties of the papists, observes upon the occasion, that Brussels had been most perfectly free from heretics till this event; but that many of the inhabitants, immediately after, began to favour Lutheranism§.
In fact, the modest deportment, together with the unshaken fortitude of the sufferers, made a great
• See Appendix. Voes, &c.
+ Luth. Ep. II. 148. Lambert succeeded James Spreng in the priory of Antwerp. See Note toward the end of Chap. VI. in preceding volume.
t Erasm. ep. Utenhovio, 1207. § Id. Kretzero, 1361.
impression on the public mind. The martyrs were deemed innocent, and the judges, who had condemned them, unjust and cruel. The friars, to counteract the effect of such dangerous sentiments, circulated every where, in their sermons, and their conversation, a ridiculous story, that the souls of these holy men were saved through the intercession of the Virgin Mary; that one of them had appeared since his death, and revealed this important information; affirming, at the same time, that in their very last moments they had repented and abjured the heresies of Luther. Though some colour might be given to this fable from the circumstance of the bloody scene having taken place on the first of July, the day before the Visitation of the blessed Virgin, yet the people rejected the imposture with contempt. The persons who stood nearest to the martyrs denied the fact; and so did the executioner himself, when the question was put to him, whether they had discovered any marks of penitence*.
Luther, in memory of these faithful servants of God, composed a Latin Hymn, which has been much used in the protestant churchesf. He likewise dispersed a circular letter among the brethren in Holland, Brabant, and Flanders; in which he says, Blessed be G od; we, who have hitherto been worshipping idols celebrated by men of a pretended sanctity, have seen and heard of real saints and martyrs in our own age. Those two precious souls, Henry Voes and John Esch, counted their lives as nothing worth, provided by their deaths the Gospel trumpet of Christ alone might be resounded more fully and clearly. What a slight matter is it to be ignominiously treated, and even put to death by men of this world! —a slight matter indeed to those who are persuaded that their blood is precious in the sight of the Lord. We of the Upper Germany have not yet been so far honoured as to suffer death for the name of Christ, * Eras. Ep. 1207. Scultet. 18a. t Beausobre.
Chap, though some of us have lived and still live in a state . , of persecution. Now is the time that the kingdom of heaven should show itself, not in speech but in power. The Scripture abounds with glorious promises which are to support us in the present tribulation. Take courage. He, who cannot lie, hath declared that the very hairs of our heads are numbered. And though our enemies may call these holy martyrs Hussites, Wickliffites, and Lutherans, and boast of their bloody deeds, we are not to stand amazed, but to grow stronger in the faith. It cannot be, but the cross of Christ must have its bitter enemies, and impious calumniators. The Judge however is at the door, and will soon pronounce a very different sentence*.
These fragments of the history of Luther are scarcely known; but they are inestimable, as it is from them that the most decisive arguments are to be drawn of the real spirit of the great Reformer and his disciples. His heart seems to have bounded with joy whenever his Lord and Master was duly honoured by the display of a right Christian temper in the midst of tribulations. The perusal of documents of this kind is highly gratifying; but the reader must often be content with short extracts, and such comprehensive translations as convey the A. D. substance of the materials in a little room. 1524. Early in the year 1524, Luther encouraged a Lutiier-» faithful disciple of Christ f, at that time in bonds for Lamb'rt the sake of the Gospel, with such suggestions as Thorn. these: " My excellent brother, you stand in no need of my consolation: Jesus, who hath given you that sacred knowledge which the world knows nothing of, is glorified in your sufferings. Moreover, he strengthens you by his spirit, and comforts you by the two instances of true Christian resignation which lately took place at Brussels. Such examples, to which I add that of yourself, are both my comfort and my * Luth. Ep. II. 150. t Lambert Thorn.
support; as they are the great glory of the Gospel of Cent. Christ. Who can tell why the Lord did not choose . that you should die with Voes and Esch ? You seem reserved for another miraculous exhibition. With my whole heart I congratulate you, and give thanks to our faithful Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, that he hath not only granted me to know his word and his spirit, but also to see in you such a rich and magnificent increase of his grace. Wretched me ! —who am said to have first taught these things,— that I should be the last, and perhaps never thought worthy to partake of the bonds and flames of martyrs. But in this will I console myself; your bonds are mine; your prisons and flames are mine. Indeed they are so, while I preach and profess the same great truths, and thus sympathize and congratulate with you. Pray for me, my brother; I will pray for you. Keep your mind steady on the numerous promises of help, protection, and deliverances, which are made in Scripture to the faithful when in tribulation. Be strong in the Lord, and acquit yourself like a man. In Him peace is promised to you; in the world you are to have tribulation. But be of good cheer," says he, " I have overcome the world. Never stop to dispute with Satan, but fix your eyes on the Lord Jesus; and in simple faith depending on him, be assured that it is by the blood of Christ alone that we shall be saved. All human performances can neither take away sin nor justify, because they are not the blood of Christ. We, under the government of the elector of Saxony, have peace ; but the duke of Bavaria and the bishop of Treves persecute, proscribe, and put to death many. Some other bishops and princes threaten and use violence, but as yet have abstained from blood. Every where Jesus Christ' is the reproach of men, and despised of the people*and you are one of his members, by the holy vocation of our Father; which vocation
* Psalm 22.
Chap, may be pleased to complete in you, to the glory of
1X" , his name and of his word ! All our friends and our
whole church of Wittemberg salute you, and recommend themselves to your prayers, more especially James Spreng and the brethren from Antwerp."
The same vigour of sentiment and true Christian fervour pervades many of the writings of Luther about this period.
" May the Lord who has called you to his work," says he to the afore-mentioned John Hesse of Bres law*, "strengthen and perfect you! This is the consolation you must receive from me. For I scarcely comprehend what you can mean in requesting me to give you advice for your ministerial office. All I have to say on the subject is to be found in my publications. Then you have also St. Paul's directions to Timothy and Titus, as well as those of our Lord to all his apostles. What can you wish for more? You have entered the ship with Christ; what do you look for? Fine weather! Rather expect winds, and tempests, and waves to cover the vessel till she begin to sink. This is the baptism with which you must be first baptized, and then the calm will follow, upon your awakening Christ and imploring his help;—for sometimes he will appear to sleep for a season."
The beginnings of an evangelical revival in so important a kingdom as France deserve to be noticed. But as the Helvetic and Calvinistic denomination soon prevailed there above the Lutheran, our present narrative has no further concern with it, than to show the extensiveness of the Lutheran reformation, which doubtless had great influence in the production of Christian piety in that country.
In the city of Meux, Faber, Favel, and a few others, had begun to sow the seeds of pure Christianity, even during the year 1523; and they appear to have been favoured by their bishop, William * Ante, p. 146.
Brissonet. But Francis I. king of France severely Cent. rebuked this prelate for having countenanced the > x^1- . novel teachers: upon which, William not only withdrew his protection from the reformers, but promised to banish them from the country. Faber fled to Nerac in Gascony, where he found support from Margaret the sister of the king, whose views of religion were extremely different from those of her brother Francis I. This persecuted heretic adhered steadily to the Lutheran system; but Favel, who found an asylum in Switzerland, immediately espoused the tenets of Zuingle, and afterwards assisted Calvin in his pastoral labours at Geneva.
The same city and year furnishes the memorable case of a mechanic named John Clark, who for fixing a paper on the door of the cathedral, in which he had written his sentiments against the pope's indulgences, and called him Antichrist, was scourged unmercifully, and burnt in the forehead with an ignominious mark. His mother no sooner saw him, than she bade him take courage, and exclaimed, " Live Jesus Christ, live the Cross ! " And John, entirely regardless both of the pain he had endured, and the shame to which he was exposed, repaired to the city of Metz, where he spent his days in earning his subsistence at his trade, and his nights in teaching the doctrine of Luther. In the year following, his John Clark zeal led him to break to pieces some images which burn,: the superstitious inhabitants intended to worship the A" Dnext day ; and for this fault, his hand was first cut 1524off, and his nose plucked from his face by a pair of hard-grasping pinchers ; then his breasts and his arms were by the same instrument torn to pieces and separated from his body. " Their idols," cried he, in the most excruciating torments, " are silver and gold, the work of men's hands ! " Lastly, he was consumed by burning *.
As the terms Helvetic and Calvinistic denomina• Scultet. 178, & 19a. Varillas & Seek. 28a.
Chap, tion have been mentioned, and as even at this day t , the meaning of the words Calvinist and Calvinistic supplies matter for much dispute and even contention among religious persons, it may not be improper briefly to advertise the reader, that in the origin of these denominations, as distinguished from the Lutheran, there really existed no material difference of sentiment; at least this is true so far as the religious practice of fallen creatures, and their recovery of the lost image of God in this world, and their eternal Rise of the salvation in the next, depend upon a just application ufcTurol of samtary remedies of the Gospel. It is one of vers;. the most mournful events attending the Reformation, that historical truth and method should require us to mention at all the difference here alluded to. Such as it was, it had, as yet, hardly appeared with A. D. perspicuity; but in the year 1524, and the several 1524. succeeding years, it grew into a tedious and violent controversy concerning the manner in which the body and blood of Christ are present in the Eucharist. This dispute, which has been called the Sacramental contest, after producing the most deplorable animosities, terminated at length in the fatal division of those sincere friends of reformation, who had embarked in the same cause, and who equally professed the essentials of godliness. The differences of sentiment among the contending parties were frequently indistinct, and almost entirely verbal; and if the Church of Christ could be viewed abstracted from every secular connexion, such niceties would scarcely deserve a moment's consideration. But Christians must class themselves with some communities, and are therefore compelled to give peculiar attention to the distinguishing features of that denomination to which they belong. Happy ! did they but learn to do this in a spirit of candour and charity !—And still happier! did they employ their zeal, their firmness, and their perseverance in defending the foundations of religion,—in imitation of St. Paul, who would not give place to false brethren cjFy?" by subjection, no not for an hour, that the truth of >—~—^—> the Gospel might continue with the Galatians *.
An example or two of the wisdom and diligence of the first Reformers, in stating distinctly and guarding carefully the fundamental articles of the Gospel, will be more instructive, and more consistent with the plan of this history, than many pages filled with the relation of vexatious dispute and controversy.
I.—John Brisman, aFranciscan doctor of divinity, J. Bmmaii. preached in 1523, at Cotbus in Lusatia, a sermon A. D. which has justly been called a very excellent com- 1523. pendium of true evangelical doctrine. It seems to have been composed in reply to the old calumny, which never fails to attend the profession of genuine Christianity,—that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is destructive of good works.—The author, after having established that first great point concerningthejustificationof asinner, proceeds thus: " Next to faith, it is my constant practice to inculcate the necessity of that love to our neighbour, which arises from faith, as fruit does from the tree. It is indeed impossible that there should exist a faith which is not productive of such a love. For as a lively faith produces a hearty love and confidence toward God, so from the same causes arises love to our neighbour, insomuch that we would serve him in every possible way, even to the loss of life; for this is Christ's command ; 1 A new commandment I give unto you, that as I have loved you, ye also love one another.' Oh, what a noble mark of distinction hath our Lord directed us to acquire ! ' By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' It is a new commandment, which has nothing in it frightful or disquieting, but which points out what those who are new creatures in Christ Jesus, and are justified by faith without works, ought to do; namely, to love their neighbour • Chap. ii.
Chap, from their very inmost soul, and without any com. ^ , pulsion from penal laws.
" For these reasons I treat of faith and charity as the two leading points, and inseparably connected together. In fact, they cannot be disjoined; nor is it possible that real faith should not continually operate to the honour and glory of God, and the good of our neighbour. For like as by faith you are introduced to Christ and become one with him, and through Christ have access to God, so ought you to come out of Christ through the love of your neighbour, and with the intention of benefiting him to the utmost of your powers and opportunities, as Christ himself for your good hath not spared himself. Agreeably to this he says in John x. 9.: 'I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.'"
For propagating such evangelical doctrine as this, Brisman was banished from his own country, but was soon called by Divine Providence, to assist in spreading the glad tidings of salvation in Prussia. In the autumn of the same year this pious divine preached the first evangelical sermon that had been heard at Koningsberg *; and afterwards laboured in that part of the country for many years, to the great advantage of Christian truth and liberty f. In the discourse from which the above extract is taken, he owns, that during twelve years he had been immersed in the disputes of the scholastic theology, and constantly shown himself a violent enemy of the Gospel, till it pleased God in his compassion to take pity on his condition, and deliver him from the filth of the prevailing sophistry J. Luiher'i I[.—Luther had been informed by a French gendake'of' " tleman of great zeal in the cause of true religion, that s«roy. Charles duke of Savoy was very favourably inclined to the ecclesiastical reformation. Such an oppor
• Cbron. Hen. in Scolt. 145. f Chytr. 390 ft 491.
; Seck. 272.
tunity was not to be lost; and accordingly he wrote Cent. to the duke a congratulatory letter, which is now a t XVI- , peculiarly valuable document, as it clearly manifests the spirit of the great Reformer, and the objects which he and his associates had in view.
He begins in the apostolic style: " Grace and peace in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen. Your highness will pardon this liberty which the glorious cause of the Gospel induces me to take. Having heard that the duke of Savoy, through that gift of God which is certainly very rare among princes, is ardently desirous of promoting genuine piety, I have judged it to be my duty, however unworthy, at least to congratulate such a prince, and to do my utmost to encourage and animate him in the good cause. It is my prayer that this fine example of your majesty may be the means of winning many souls to Christ. And that you may not be deceived respecting our sentiments by the malignant misrepresentations of the papal advocate, I will put dow n some of the leading articles of our faith.
" 1. Our first article is, that the origin, and indeed the whole efficacy of our salvation, are through faith in Christ alone, who does not blot out our sins on account of our works, but destroys the power of death, and, as the prophet says, leads captivity captive. So St. Paul, 1 If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.' And again, ' We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law."
" Now this faith we affirm is the gift of God; and moreover, that it is produced in the heart by the spirit of God. Faith is a thing that is alive, and makes a change in the whole man ; and this without any antecedent merit, by the word of God alone. Thus in Romans ; ' Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.'
" From this article it follows, that every thing which the popes and the schools have disseminated throughout the whole world, concerning satisfactions and works of merit and congruity, is most abominable doctrine; and all the ecclesiastical orders of the monasteries are precisely those bodies of men of whom Christ predicted, ' Many will come in my name, saying, Lo here, and lo there is Christ.' For if sin can be done away, and pardon obtained by our works, then it is not by the blood of Christ: and if it is by the blood of Christ, then it is not by our works. What shall we say then of all this mighty papistical zeal for works, but that it makes void the grace of God ; especially as these men do not work purely for the sake of doing good, but that they may thereby obtain life everlasting; which can only be obtained by the blood of Christ. To trust in our own works, and to seek salvation by them, is in fact to deny the Lord that bought us.
" 2. In our second article we maintain, that those who are justified by faith, incorporated into the society of Christ, and whose sins and sinful nature are subdued by him, must take care to bring forth good fruit in the course of their lives. Not that these fruits will make men good, or procure them remission of sins—that is to be done by faith only; but in the same manner as the tree is known by its fruits, so is the soundness of the Christian to be proved by his works. The tree is not made good by its fruits, but is assuredly good if it produces valuable fruit; and in this way we argue with St. Paul respecting faith ; namely, we demonstrate that our faith worketh by love, when we prove by the good which we do to our neighbour, that we cannot possibly stand in need of good works as the ground of our justification, because we have already in our hearts, by faith, the very principle upon which justification depends. The works then which we inculcate, are such as are serviceable to mankind, and by no means such as are done in the intention of purchasing heaven for ourselves. This last is a ruinous idea belonging to the papal system, and is diametrically opposite to pure Christian charity."
" The world," continues Luther, " has been miserably seduced by popes, councils, and decrees of fathers, miserably entangled by the traditions of men, or rather by the snares of the devil, insomuch that there has been a general persuasion that the salvation of men's souls depended upon the observance of human ordinances. And thus by artful inventions and management, Jesus Christ and his Gospel, as well as faith, and charity, and real good works, and Christian liberty, have been kept out of sight. In the same way, the prize of salvation itself has been taken away from us, and we are compelled to run in vain."
The author afterwards, in his usual emphatical language, lays open a variety of papal abuses, and then concludes this admirable letter in the following strain:
" These, my illustrious prince, are the chief doctrines which I would wish you most strenuously to patronize in public, as indeed you have already begun to do. But let there be no compulsion : let there be no recourse to the sword: in that way nothing will prosper. All I request is, that under the government of your majesty, those who sincerely preach the Gospel may be protected and known to be in no danger. This is the way in which Christ will destroy Antichrist by the breath of his mouth ; and thus, as it is in Daniel, he shall be broken without hand * ; he whose coming is with lying wonders f- Satan will not cast out Satan. Devils must be cast out by the finger of God. Go on, my brave prince ; and from the spark which already burns within you, kindle a holy Gospel flame, which, issuing from the house of Savoy, may spread throughout all France. May the Lord Jesus Christ pour his Spirit into your heart, that you may do every thing to the glory of his sacred Word % ! "
• Dan. viii. 25. f 2 Thes. ii. 9. \ Ep. II. 156.