Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Century XVI, Chapter VII




From The Conclusion Of The Diet Of
Worms, To The Death Of Leo X.

Luther's Patmos.
His Employments.

He Is Censured By The Parisian Divines.

By King Henry VIII.

The Death Of Leo X.

THE followers of Luther were much disheartened by the sudden disappearance of their leader. Various reports were circulated concerning him, and they knew not what to believe. Not only an anxious solicitude for the safety of his person invaded the minds of all who, throughout Germany feared God, but at the same time a distressing apprehension of losing such an instructor in so early a period of his labours produced the most melancholy and inauspicious forebodings. The alarms, on this occasion, and the affectionate feelings of good people who were already in possession of a degree of evangelical light, and were in the way to obtain more, are well described by Nic. Gerbelius of Strasburg, in a letter, dated May the twenty-sixth, which was addressed and sent Vol. v. B

to Luther himself, but under the greatest uncertainty of finding him.

" Nothing can possibly be more obscure and contradictory than the various rumours* which we receive concerning you. The report every-where prevalent and the least changeable is, that assassins laid wait for you in ambush, seized, and murdered you. On the other hand, some say you are returned Safe to Wittemberg. Which is the truth we are entirely in doubt. However, all learned and good men, without exception, earnestly wish the latter account may be confirmed. You cannot believe how your adversaries exult and triumph in the hope of the former proving true. What madness, what ignorance is this ! that men should not see what a train of evils, what torrents of human blood must be the probable consequence of the massacre of Luther! —As for us, who aspire after Christian liberty and the salvation of our souls, and have known you to be a teacher of the true faith as it is in Jesus, we are afflicted in different ways and degrees; but, in general, it is impossible for me to make you comprehend how extremely anxious we are for your personal safety. It is not that we envy you the glory of being dead to this world, and of enjoying the kingdom of heaven, for the sake of which you have, with incredible firmness and magnanimity, proved yourself superior to the troubles and persecutions of the present time; but because you appear to us to have been the man, who, with a very few others, have rightly expounded the Gospel of Christ; and because we had entertained a well-grounded hope, that under your guidance, there might have been a restoration of all those good things, which have been long lost by the wickedness or the indolence of our forefathers.—Wherefore, my Very learned Luther, if you have any regard for me, and the rest, who are so anxious about you, and that Divine Gospel, which you have preached with many labours, dangers, and solicitudes, I entreat you to let us know, —whether you are alive,—whether you Cent..

are at liberty, or whether you have it no longer in . xv^- .

vour power to write and instruct us ;—in short, in

what circumstances you now are. It is said, that

all persons are proscribed who shall dare to read

your books, or profess to believe that you teach the


Luther at first found his coufinement to be a great Luther', matter of patience; and it was not without difficulty Pstni0'that he was brought to endure it with resignation. His health suffered considerably from the change in his manner of living. The more rich and plentiful diet, which, as he had afterwards reason to believe, was supplied at the elector's expense, did not well agree with the constitution and temperament of a man who had long been accustomed to the labours and abstinence of the monastery. He complains, that his body was afflicted with the most obstinate and alarming constipations, while his mind grew feeble and unable to resist temptations. He says, he became languid and almost lifeless in private prayer, and was addicted to too much eating and drinking, and to lazy practices. Such is the harsh sentence which this extraordinary man was inclined to pass upon himself. It is the peculiar character of a real servant of God to see his own faults in a strong light, and rarely to speak in mitigation of them. We must learn however, to correct the impression which this account is calculated to make, by adverting to the positive evidence of his adversaries, to the well-known productions of his pen during his residence in the castle of Wartburg, and, lastly, to the inferences which we cannot but draw,—though indirectly,— from his repeated expressions of paternal care and affectionate concern for the condition of the church.

The papists never charge Luther with indolence. Hit emOn the contrary, they allow that in his solitude, »>lo*men""which, after the name of that island to which the * Seck. 161.

Chap, apostle John was banished, he frequently called His; t . Patmos, he laboured with indefatigable industry, published many new books, confirmed his disciples in their attachment to him, defended his old heresies, and daily invented new ones*.

This account, in the language of protestantism, would be expressed somewhat differently ; namely, that no man ever adhered more steadily than Luther to the leading principle of the Reformation, " Articles of faith are to be founded only on the revealed will of God;" that in his confinement he preserved a strong sense of the value of time ; and that a profound veneration for the holy Scriptures, with an abhorrence of every species of priestcraft, constantly directed his judgment, invigorated his resolutions, and supported him in his almost incredible labours and trials.

Tract on A little book concerning the abuses of Private confession, Confessions was one of his productions in the castle. As it was composed in the German language, and would be read by many, it must have been highly offensive to the ecclesiastics in general. " My design in this book," says Luther, " was not to put an end to private confession, but to render the practice of it Useful. There was no doing of this, without laying open some of those inconveniences which arise from a bad way of managing it. I touched on these things as delicately as possible; and yet my adversaries were up in arms against me on this account; not considering that the whole world is full of stories respecting the scandalous things which take place under the pretence of secret confession ; neither do they seem aware, how many facts connected with this subject I have passed over from a principle of Christian decency, lest the very mention of them should contaminate the reader's mind. It is too true, that many of the monks urge the people to confess, not from a regard to piety, but for the purpose of * Maimbourg, Sect. 45.


fcnricbing themselves. They live in the houses of the Cent; opulent, and acquire an ascendant over them by becoming acquainted with their secrets : they contrive to be with them when they are dying; and insinuate themselves into their last wills. Let men only consider what a source of evils, what a snare to consciences, the common practice of confessinghas been, and they will not be surprised that I should have ventured to suggest certain amendments in this matter." On the whole, it was the wish of this sound Divine, that the church discipline respecting Confession might be regulated by the eighteenth of Matthew, verses 15—20 ; convinced as he was, that the Roman catholic mode tended neither to increase the faith nor amend the lives of the people, but rather to instil into their minds a persuasion, that by a private confession of sin, and a consequent submission to penances, or to other injunctions of the clergy, the greatest crimes might be expiated, though the commission of them were ever so frequent or ever so notorious. How very different is all this from a true penitential sorrowing and humiliation for sin, and a comfortable expectation of pardon, founded on the faithful promises of Jesus Christ!

The Augustine friars at Wittemberg were among the first who dared openly to abolish the popish mode of celebrating Pkivate Masses. Luther re- Against ceived this news in his castle with great satisfaction, both as it demonstrated the zeal of his brethren who were embarked in the same cause, and as it exhibited a very pleasing and important effect of his own labours. More than a year had now elapsed since he had published his tract on the Babylonish captivity, in which he exposes the unscriptural doctrine of the Romish mass. He now resumed the subject, and with great precision and copiousness went through all that his adversaries could advance in favour of their absurd and unscriptural notions on this article of faith. This performance is intituled, A Treatise

private masses.

concerning the Abrogation of Private Masses ; and is sufficiently long and laboured; but, happily, in our age it is quite superfluous to spend time in convincing Protestants, that the true scriptural idea of the Lord's Supper is not a real sacrifice under the appearance of bread and wine, but a thankful commemoration of the Great Oblation once offered ; not a repetition of sacred offerings, which have any intrinsic value in them for the expiation of sin, but a participation of the consecrated elements in obedience to the command of our dying Saviour. Luther took immense pains to place these points in what he conceived to be their true light; and his efforts were crowned with Much Success *.

It was not till after much doubt and consideration that Luther became fully convinced of the lawfulness of the marriage of all the clergy.—The case of the monks created the greatest difficulty to his mind, because they had voluntarily devoted themselves to a perpetual celibacy;—whereas the rest of the clergy were prohibited marriage only by unlawful ecclesiastical ordinances. In his Patmos, however, he wrote on these subjects with that fixed determination, which had been the result of much impartial inquiry and patient thinking. The book on Monastic vows is dedicated, in the most affectionate terms, to the author's father, who had formerly resisted his son's desires to withdraw from the world and enter a convent "f. It may be sufficient to say of this work, that it is copious, instructive, and admirably adapted to the time in which it was published. As it exposes the evils of monastic promises and engagements, with various other abuses of popery connected with them, it necessarily gave great offence to a corrupt hierarchy, which daily found its authority to lessen, in proportion as the wickej

* But not complete success. We shall afterwards have occasion to advert to his mistakes concerning the Eucharist, t See Vol. iv.

devices that supported it were better understood, Cent. andmore generally detested. —The Papists, as might . , be expected, clamoured against the Reformer's novel doctrines, and represented them as favourable to a life of ease, indulgence, and sensuality. " Priests might marry, monks might leave their cloisters, and the people no longer be afraid of the penal laws of the church *." On the contrary, Luther, in arguing with his adversaries, was never content to stand merely on the defensive. He constantly maintained, that the primary objects of papistical solicitude and contention was neither an evangelical purity of faith or practice, but rather the efficacy of certain external performances, as fastings, confessions, penances and masses, contrived for the express purpose of affording lalse peace to burdened consciences, and keeping out of sight the atoning blood of Jesus, and the scriptural method of justification by faith alone, with the renovation of our fallen nature through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

James Latomus, a divine of Louvain, in a printed A gainst defence of the censures which the ecclesiastical faculty L*torau'of that city passed upon Luther's writingsf, had opposed the Reformer's views of the doctrines of grace and faith, and charged him with maintaining seditious and heretical opinions. There presently issued from the castle of Wartburg a most spirited Confutation Ofthis Defence; " aconfutation,"saysSeckendorf, " replete with so much solid learning and sound divinity, that it was impossible to reply to it without being guilty of obvious cavilling or downright impiety. This little book," continues he, " shines among the contemporary publications like the moon among the stars ; and I will venture to assert, that if the author of it had never published any thing else in his whole life, he would, on account of this single tract, deserve to be compared to the greatest divines which ever existed in the Church. At the time of writing it, he * Du Pin. t Pag. 418.

was furnished with no other book but the Bible ; and yet he interprets the leading passages of the prophets and the apostles, and does away the deceitful glosses of sophistical commentators with so much exquisite erudition and ability, that the genuine meaning of the inspired writers cannot but be clear to every pious and attentive reader."—Though all this is true in the strictest sense, yet as Luther's ideas of the doctrine of salvation by grace have already been explained at large, long quotations from this incomparable treatise are less necessary: and I shall rather choose to select a few short passages, that may serve to show the Spirit which this eminent servant of God preserved in his solitude, and during a persecution which so very much endangered his life.

Luther's reply to Latomus is dedicated to Justus Jonas, who had been recently appointed to the presidency of the college of Wittemberg. " As I wish to congratulate you on your new situation, and I have not the opportunity of doing it in person, have the goodness to accept this proof of my disposition towards you; and beseech the Lord for me, that I may be delivered from wicked and unfaithful men, and that a door may be opened to me, for the praise of the merciful gospel of his Son.

" I suppose you have seen Latomus's defence of the Louvain divines, and how the man glories in his master the pope and his bull. My observations on his performance will, I hope, prove this at least,— That if Latomus's arguments had been published in due time, and those wise divines had weighed them, as they ought to have done, before they decided on my case, they would neither have condemned my books nor have burnt them. It is an easy thing, during Luther's absence, to pray privately in remote corners, and to say,—' this is wrong; and that is heretical,'—when these very persons would not have ventured even to touch on subjects of this kind in public.

"I am convinced this Admirable Defence would never have seen the light, had it not been for the pope's bull, that has puffed up the author with a confidence which makes him boast that what he has done is highly approved*. The man still dreams of the horrors which formerly used to be raised by the papal thunders, and supposes that the world will be frightened by his little publication. Hence it is, that, in his attacks on Luther, he dares to trifle in this manner with the tremendous declarations of the word of God. For my part, I can have no wish, but that Such conduct should be approved by Such a bull. Again, I should be even sorry, if I were not condemned by Such a bull. This whole business is in perfect harmony; the bull, the cause, the judge, the advocate;—from whose society, and its contagion, may the Lord Jesus preserve me and every pious soul! Amen.

" You can scarcely believe with how much reluctance it is, that I have allowed my attention to be diverted from the quiet study of the Scriptures in this Patmos, by reading the sophistical quibbles of Latomus. To answer such a writer is a most irksome employment, which will neither increase a man's knowledge, nor exercise his genius ; but will certainly destroy some hours of precious time. I fancy this writer has imagined that Luther was either absolutely taken off, or at least condemned to perpetual silence; and that therefore he was now at full liberty to impose on the public, and exercise a tyrannical dominion over their faith. For it is made a grievous charge against me, that I have lessened the authority and influence of the clergy over the minds of the people. I heartily wish my fault in this respect was much greater than it is!

" But I own, I have considerable fears, lest, during our violent contentions concerning grace and good works, we ourselves should be found deficient in • He means, approved by the rulers of the church.

both. For my part, when I reflect on the angry judgments of Almighty God, as displayed in the present situation of the church, I could wish that my eyes might supply fountains of water to lament that dreadful havock which the kingdom of sin and perdition makes of precious souls in these latter times. At Rome that monster of iniquity sits in the midst of the church, and boasts himself to be God's vicegerent. The bishops flatter him : the sophistical school-divines obey his nod; and there is nothing which the cringing hypocrites are not ready to do for him. In the mean time hell opens wide its infernal jaws, and Satan sports in the destruction of men; and no one is found on our side, who with deep sorrow might stand as a wall of defence for Israel in this day of indignation.

" It is my earnest prayer, that you, my brother, who by your appointment ought to teach the pestilential decretals of Antichrist, may be enlightened by the Spirit of God to do your duty; that is, to Unteach every thing that belongs to popery. For though we are compelled to live in Babylon, we ought to shew that our affections are fixed on our own country, Jerusalem. Be strong, and of good comfort; and fear not Baalpeor; but believe in the Lord Jesus, who is blessed for evermore. Amen."

l. One of Latoraus's charges against Luther is, that, in the beginning of the controversy, he pretended to submit to the pope. Luther answered, " I was very Serious in my submission; and the remembrance of it is grievous to my mind. From the bottom of my heart, I entertained sentiments of the pope, and of councils, and of universities, agreeable to the common way of thinking. For though I fancied I saw absurdities in them, and things contrary to Christianity, yet I bridled my suspicions; and for more than ten years I followed Solomon s advice " not to depend on my own understanding;" always supposing, that if there were really any things impious in the established system, there must exist in the academies learned theologians who would not hold their peace: moreover, there was scarcely any place, where I should have thought it less likely than at Louvain, to have found such stupid blockheads as are there at present.

" In the course of this controversy my knowledge of the subject in dispute, as well as my courage, gradually increased. On the contrary, my adversaries, in their opposition to me, have betrayed the most astonishing ignorance and wickedness. Had they but restrained themselves within any tolerable bounds, doubtless I should have grown more and more confirmed in their folly and madness. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, that in the course of these trials, he has been pleased to favour me with such an insight into the Scriptures, as is a hundred times preferable to the scholastic divinity of the times. I am now most fully convinced that the pope is that monster of Antichrist foretold throughout the sacred writings."

2. But Luther does not express himself with the Moderation of a Christian.

Answ. I never set up myself for a holy man, nor even a moderate man. Take what liberties you please with my character ; only acknowledge the truths contained in the Gospel. However, were I disposed to boast, my conscience tells me, that I never attacked any man's life or reputation; though, I own, I have exposed with considerable severity, a number of impious dogmas which militate against the word of God. I make no apology here; there are great examples on my side; as John the Baptist, St. Paul, and even Christ himself*.

3. Further, Latomus says, Luther's writings have a seditious tendency, and in no way make the people better.

Answ. Precisely the language of the Jews. They • See Vol. iv.

Chap, pretended to fear lest Christ should raise a sedition; . VI1, , and certainly they became no better for our Lord's expostulations. Ought Christ therefore to have held his tongue? Is this your divinity ; ' They will not hear, therefore you must hold your peace?' In laying open faithfully the word of God, there is not the smallest ground for apprehending sedition.

4. To be brief. The grand accusations of Latomus were, that he described the Almighty as commanding his creatures to do impossibilities; and that the very best actions of the best men had the nature of sin.

In all ages it is matter of patience to faithful expositors of the word of God, to find themselves continually misrepresented in this manner. Do they show from the Scriptures, that without divine grace we are altogether helpless and lost; and are deservedly exposed to the wrath of God, because of the voluntary malignity of apostate nature: They are then charged with representing God as imposing laws on men, which they have not power to obey; though they never mean more than to humble man under a sense of his native depravity, and lead him to seek the remedy of the grace of Christ. Do they, in the very language of Scripture, describe the sin that dwelleth in us*, as mixing with all that we think, say, and do ? They are instantly accused of saying that good works are sins. Instead of cavilling in this way, and setting up human imaginations and conjectures in opposition to the express testimonies of Scripture, it behoved Latomus, and all who have trod in his steps, to produce a direct confutation of the arguments adduced by Luther, and by others, who have preached and written as Luther did. And such a confutation can be attempted to no purpose, except by the authority of Scripture.

In the mind of our Saxon theologian there • Romans, vii.

seems to have been an instinctive aversion to Mere Verbal controversy. All his inquiries are about essential matters. He fastens on his objects with a retentive grasp ; and in spite of the evasive arts of his adversaries, he compels them to join issue with him on some great practical doctrine.—So in his answer to Latomus; he shows that the Nature Of Sin was the turning point in that debate.—" If," says he, " in the passages I have quoted from St. Paul, it can be proved that the apostle does not use the word Sin in its true and proper sense, my whole argument falls to the ground ; but if this cannot be proved, then Latomus's objections are without foundation. He blames me for maintaining that no human action can endure the severity of God's judgment. I reply, he ought to shudder in undertaking to defend the opposite sentiment. Suppose, for a moment, that any man could say, he has indeed fulfilled the precept of God in some one good work. Then such a man might fairly address the Almighty to this effect: ' Behold, O Lord! by the help of thy grace, I have done this good work. There is in it no sin; no defect; it needs not thy pardoning mercy: which, therefore, in this instance I do not ask. I desire thou wouldst judge this action strictly and impartially. I feel assured, that as thou art just and faithful, thou canst not condemn it; and therefore 1 glory in it before thee. Our Saviour's prayer teaches me to implore the forgiveness of my trespasses ; but in regard to this work, mercy is not necessary for the remission of sin, but rather justice for the reward of merit.'. To such indecent, unchristian conclusions are we naturally led by the pride of the scholastic system.—To conclude. This doctrine of the sinless perfection of human works finds no support in Scripture : it rests entirely on a few expressions of the fathers, who are yet by no means agreed among themselves; and if they were agreed, still their authority is only human. We are

Chap, directed to prove All Things, and to hold fast that J^jj , which is good. All doctrines then are to be proved by the sacred Scriptures. There is no exception here in favour of Augustine, of Jerome, of Origen, nor even of an Antichristian Pope.—Augustine, however, is entirely on ray side of the question. And, therefore, though 6ome of the fathers, in describing our natural frailties, may have studiously avoided the use of the word Sin, I think it much safer to use the language of Augustine and of certain other fathers, because they speak scripturally. Such are my reasons for choosing to call that Sin, to which you apply the softer terms of defect and imperfection. But further, I may well interrogate all those, who use the language of Latomus, whether they do not resemble the Stoics in their abstract definition of a wise man, or Quintilian in his definition of a perfect orator; that is, whether they do not speak of an imaginary character, such as never was, nor ever will be ? I challenge them to produce a man, who will dare to speak of his own work, and say it is without sin, even in the sense in which they use the word. Why then is it so very heavy a crime in me to avow a sentiment which they themselves m reality carry farther than I ever did?

" But perhaps you will say, ' If, then, there is In Fact So very little difference between us, why ■are you so contentious about the use of words, and why so prejudiced in favour of your own mode of expression ?' I answer,—

" Your way of speaking leads to most pernicious views of the nature of sin. You attribute to mere human powers that, which is to be ascribed to divine grace alone. You make men presumptuous and secure in their vices. You depreciate the knowledge of the mystery of Christ, and, by consequence, the spirit of thankfulness and love to God. There is a prodigious effusion of grace expended in the conversion of sinners : you lose sight of this ; yon make nature innocent, and so darken or pervert the Scripture, that the sense of it is almost lost in the Christian world."

Let this suffice as a small specimen of the wisdom and purity of the evangelical principles which shine through this confutation of Latomus. The learned reader, who values the Gospel of Christ as the pearl of great price, will enlarge on the subject in his own mind, and observe the near resemblance which subsists between the papistical notion of Sin, and certain modern corruptions in divinity. Happily, the days of religious persecution are no more : happily, we do not, like Luther, endanger our lives by maintaining, that, " without the grace of God, it is impossible for us to keep his commandments, and that, after all, we need the tender mercy and forgiveness of our judge:" nevertheless, the Matter of the controversy, now briefly reviewed, must always be looked on as of the last importance, if any thing is to be called important, in which the glory of God, the necessity of the grace of Jesus Christ, the exercises of real humility, and the comfort of afflicted consciences are eminently concerned.

Luther concludes his book with observing, that he is accused of treating Thomas Aquinas, Alexander, and others, in an injurious and ungrateful manner. He defends himself by saying, those authors had done much harm to his own mind; and he advises young students of divinity to avoid the scholastic theology and philosophy as the ruin of their souls. He expresses great doubts whether Thomas Aquinas was even a good man : he has a better opinion of Bonaventura. " Thomas Aquinas held many heretical opinions, and is the grand cause of the prevalence of the doctrines of Aristotle, that destroyer of sound doctrine. What is it to me," continues Luther, " if the bishop of Rome has canonized him in his bulls 1"

He exhorts the president Jonas, and his other

Chap, friends at Wittemberg, to exert tliemselves in reply. ing to the rest of the papal advocates. " Is not,"

says he, " the glory of the Gospel a common cause. I have bruised the head of the serpent, why do not you trample on his body*?"

I know not whether any man that ever lived had a greater reverence than Luther for the Holy Scriptures. It was the sight of them, through God's blessing, which illumined the mind of the Reformer: it was the want of them, which, through the iniquity of papal artifice and tyranny, held the people in the darkness of ignorance and superstition. Luther, therefore, easily foresaw the important consequences which must flow from a fair translation of the Bible in the German language. Nothing would so effectually shake the pillars of ecclesiastical despotism; nothing was so likely to spread the knowledge of pure Christian doctrine. Accordingly he rejoiced in the design of expediting the work ; while his adversaries deprecated the execution of it, more than any heresy of which the greatest enemy of the church

Traniiation cou^ De gui'ty- ^ was iQ n*8 Patmos at Wartburg of the New that he began to apply himself to this great underTestament. taking \n tne conclusion of his confutation of Latomus, he tells his friend Jonas, that in his confinement he had no books at hand except the word of God: " not," says he, " that I set any great value on having a multitude of books, but I should like to see, whether Latomus has quoted the fathers fairly. But I have now done with him. I really grudge the time spent in reading and in answering this worthless publication; particularly, as I was Employed In Thanslating the Epistles and Gospels into our own language."

From several authentic documents, it appears, that, during his solitude in the summer of the year 1521, he not only translated all the New Testament, but also took great pains to improve his knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages, for * Luth. II. Confut. Latom.

the purpose of rendering his intended version of Cent. the Scriptures more complete. " I find," says he, " I t X^L have undertaken a work which is above my strength. I shall not touch the Old Testament till I can have the assistance of yourself and my other friends at Wittemberg. If it were possible that I could be with you, and remain undiscovered in a snug chamber, I would come; and there, with your help, would translate the whole from the beginning, that at length there might be a version of the Bible fit for Christians to read. This would be a great work, of immense consequence to the public, and worthy of all our labours*.

Such, during a captivity of more than nine months were the employments of this active servant of God, who, notwithstanding, accuses himself of doing too little, and of eating too much. Besides the compositions which have been mentioned, he wrote many letters in his castle to his trusty friends and intimates, which very much lay open the unfeigned sentiments of his heart. The plan of this history admonishes us to be brief; otherwise the temptaI tion to produce copious extracts from them is great. A strong and pious confidence in God, an unbounded benevolence to the " household of faith," and a determination to hazard every thing in the cause of religious truth, mark the spirit of Luther in every thing he says or does. He encourages the faithful, he reproves the timid, he laments the oppression of the church, he exults in the prospect of her deliverance. With inexpressible tenderness he comforts his desponding friends ; while, on all occasions, he withstands his most powerful enemies with an unconquerable intrepidity.

During his residence in the castle of Wartburg he suffered his beard and hair to grow, assumed an

* This Extract is from one of Luther's Letters to Nic. Amsdorff, the rector of the university at Wittemberg, dated Wartburg Castle, Jan. 1522.


equestrian sort of dress, and passed for a country gentleman, under the name of Yonker George. He sometimes amused himself with the exercise of hunting in company with his keepers ; and his observations on that diversion, in a letter to Spalatinus, are curious and interesting.

" Give yourself no concern in regard to my suffering in this exile. It is of no consequence to me, provided I am not burdensome to the people of this house. I would have no one be put to inconvenience on my account. I suppose the prince supports me, otherwise I would not stay an hour here, if I were convinced that my wants were supplied at the expense of the master of this family, though I own, he furnishes every thing I wish for with the greatest cheerfulness. Lately I spent two days in seeing the painful, yet agreeable amusement of those famous people called hunters and fowlers. We caught two hares, and some miserable young partridges. Laudable employment indeed for men of leisure ! For my part, theological subjects occupied my thoughts, even while I was among the dogs and the nets. And any pleasure that I might receive from this species of relaxation, was fully balanced by the sentiments of grief and pity excited in my mind by an interpretation which I could not but give to the symbolical scenes at that time under my contemplation, This, thought I, is an exact representation of Satan, who, by his snares and his dogs, namely, the corrupt theologians and ecclesiastical rulers, pursues and entangles simple, faithful souls, in the same way that the harmless hares and partridges are taken. To be brief, the similitude was so striking, as to affect me exceedingly."

In a letter to Melancthon, he says, " I sit here in my Patmos, reflecting all the day on the wretched condition of the Church. And I bemoan the hardness of my heart, that I am not dissolved into tears on this account. May God have mercy upon us ! "

In another letter to the same person, he discovers Cent. evident symptoms of impatience. , XVI- 0

" For the glory of the Word Of God, and for the mutual confirmation of myself and others, I would much rather burn on the live coals, than live here alone, half alive, and useless. If I perish, it is God's will; neither will the Gospel suffer in any degree. I hope you will succeed me, as Elisha did Elijah."

Melancthon, the excellent coadjutor of Luther, though learned, ingenuous, unblemished in his manners, and cordially attached to the best of causes, began about this time to exhibit more sensibly than ever the constitutional timidity of his temper. Far superior to all the rest of Luther's adherents in talents and attainments, he was inferior to many of them in courage and fortitude ; and on that account unequal to the character of Superintendant, which he was now called to sustain. Luther, who loved the man, and was well aware of his infirmity, frequently, in the very kindest manner, reproved his desponding spirit, and at the same time encouraged him to be both bold and patient in the cause of the reformation. He also solicited the Elector Frederic, through the intercession of Spalatinus, to provide for the more comfortable support of this learned professor, whose character contributed so much to the reputation of the university of Wittemberg.

In fact, not only Melancthon, but the rest of his MeUncbrethren, the ruling academicians, were much dis- {."brethren heartened during the summer of this year, partly on are di»account of the absence of their grand leader, and m'th* iumpartly because they experienced not a little embar- raerof rassment from the excessive caution of the elector A' Dand his court. They were not allowed the full pri- 1521vilege of publishing any of Luther's writings, nor even of disputing publicly on certain questions, which, it was supposed, might give offence to persons of distinction who were much attached to the

c a

established religion. Luther, though no man that , ever lived was more exemplary in the practice of lawful obedience " to the powers that be," made no scruple to refuse compliance with the will of the civil magistrate, whenever that will, in his judgment, was directiy contrary to the commands of God. Accordingly, he exhorted his Christian friends of the university not to follow the counsels of the court, but to take the lead themselves, as he had done. "We should not,"says he, "have had one half the success we have had, if I had taken the advice of the court." And about two or three months after this, he wrote to this last-mentioned friend in the warmest terms of expostulation and remonstrance. He tells him, that he was determined to publish what he had written against the archbishop of Mentz, however the prince and his secretary might dislike the measure, and that it was at their peril if they obstructed his design. " The peace and approbation of God are ever to be preferred to the peace and approbation of the world. What, though some of our friends have exhibited a turbulent spirit, will the Gospel, on account of their irregularity, come to nothing ? Was there not, even among the apostles, a traitor, Judas ? In All circumstances we ought to adhere strictly to the simple Word Of God, and not merely when the Word happens to thrive and be respected among men. Let those, who please, take against us.—But why are we to be always looking on the dark side of things ? why not indulge hopes of better times ?"

There is nothing which so completely lays open to posterity the real opinions and motives of this great Reformer as his private letters.—When the common people of Erfurt, together with the youths of the university of that place, had committed some acts of riot and violence against the clergy, Luther expressed his disapprobation of such conduct, thus : " It is very proper that the ecclesiastics, who prove themselves to be incurably profligate, should be Cent. checked and discouraged, but by no means In This t x^1- . Manner. This Manner of doing it brings a just disgrace upon our Gospel, and hinders its success. Moreover, this way of showing kindness to us afflicts me exceedingly. For it is to my mind a clear proof that we are not yet worthy of being esteemed before God, as faithful ministers of His Word, and that Satan makes a mock of all our labours."

It appears from his letters to Melancthon, that he was completely in doubt, whether he should ever return to Wittemberg; " but," says he, " I am ready to go where God shall please to send me. The accounts which I receive of your abundant success in religion and learning, during my absence, rejoice my heart exceedingly, and make me endure this separation much better. The very circumstance of your going on so prosperously while I Am Absent is most peculiarly delightful to me; because it may serve to convince those Wicked Ones, that however they may rage and foam, their desires shall perish ; and Christ will finish the work which he has begun*."

Luther, while under confinement, wrote a long letter to his flock in general, which abounds with pious sentiments and affectionate expressions, and is well calculated to counteract the mis-statements of those careless or irreligious historians, who would represent this eminent servant of God as a man of ambitious, factious, sectarian principles. He laments that he was not as yet reckoned worthy to undergo, for Christ's sake, any thing more than hatred and reproach. He owns, that if the Lord had not been on his side, he must long ago have heen torn to pieces by his adversaries. He is

* This does not agree with an insinuation of the learned translator of Mosheim, namely, that Luther could not bear to see another crowned with the glory of executing a plan which b«had laid Mosh. Sect. 1. Chap. II. 18.

thankful for the divine support, which had three times enabled him to appear before them with a becoming resolution,—at Augsburg, at Leipsic, and at Worms. " I was in hopes," says he, " at Worms, that the prelates and doctors would have examined me with the most diligent scrupulosity concerning every particular; but no other demand was made, no other language was to be heard, than the imperious charge, Retract, Retract the doctrines you have taught. I do not mention these things as matters of boasting, or as though they were done in my own strength; on the contrary, I would praise God for his goodness, in havingso encouraged his unworthy servant, and dispirited our opponents, that they were thrown into the utmost consternation, and could make no stand in public debate against even a single mendicant monk. As they are apt to talk in an ostentatious way of their prodigious erudition, I recommended it to them to come to Wittemberg, and try whether they could prove themselves our superiors in the discharge of pastoral duties; but none of them dared to accept the challenge."

The mind of Luther had long been impressed with a deep sense of the importance of regular and judicious instructions from the pulpit. He had experienced the advantage of them among his own people ; and they were now athirst for further explanations of the Word Of God. To supply in some measure the failure of his usual personal services when present with them, he not only wrote down, during his captivity, a number of familiar expositions of the Epistles and Gospels in the German language, and sent them to be printed at Wittemberg, but also took very great pains to institute lectures or preachings in the afternoons of holydays. He desired Melancthon to discharge this branch of clerical duty ; and he most earnestly exhorted his flock to an assiduous attendance, instead of spending their time in drinking and gaming.

How incessant were the labours, how indefati- Cent. gable was the spirit of this great Reformer! , X^'L

Evangelical publications, and evangelical preachings, with constant exhortation to study diligently the holy Scriptures, were the external means on which Luther always relied for the propagation of Christian truth, and the deliverance of the people from popish darkness and slavery. Wise and persevering in the use of these means, he had the consolation to hear more and more of their blessed effects. The Augustinians of Wittemberg left off the celebration of private masses, new preachers of the Gospel daily lifted up their voice throughout the electorate of Saxony; and though some persons of the higher ranks, both among the magistrates and the clergy, were intimidated by the imperial edict of Worms, the common people gladly attended to the pure doctrines of salvation. At Zwickau in particular, during the course of this year, Nicholas A- DHausman accepted the pastoral office. This town J521appears to have been highly favoured by Providence ; for the sentiments of Luther, from the very first agitation of the ecclesiastical controversy, were there received and taught in private assemblies : There also, among other preachers of the Gospel, was distinguished the very intimate friend of our Reformer, the celebrated Frederic Myconius*, who had fled from the persecuting rage of George the duke of Saxony : and in regard to N. Hausman, if we had no other reason for mentioning this excellent minister, his name might deserve a place in these memoirs, on account of the singular eulogy pronounced on him by Luther: " What We Preach, He Lives."

Friberg was the capital of a very small district, which was governed by the brother of George duke of Saxony. This prince, called Henry duke of

• Sec Append. Fred. Mycon.

Chap. Saxony, began to show some regard to evangelical vlL . doctrine. He expressed his detestation of the pope's bull, and commenced a correspondence with Luther; but through fear of the edict of Worms, and of his brother George, one of the most violent bigots of the age, he was, for the present, checked in his religious researches. His duchess, Catharine of Mecklenburg, exhibited a laudable pattern of Christian fidelity in the profession of divine truth. She was in imminent danger of persecution from the bitter hostile spirit of her husband's counsellors ; but her trust was in God. In her letters, written several years afterwards, she declares herself readv, through the divine assistance, to suffer patiently any thing that could happen to her for adhering to the sacred Scriptures.

Thus the good seed, sown under various circumstances, was springing up and bearing fruit in almost every corner of Germany. The Christian student of ecclesiastical history, who has skill and leisure for the employment, might furnish a pleasing and useful collection of the fragments of true piety and spiritual understanding, which appeared in the early years of the preparation of men's hearts for the blessed Reformation.

Amidst the consolation which Luther in his retreat derived from the accounts which he was continually receiving of the courage and success of his disciples, and the progress of his doctrines, the report of several events reached the castle of Wartburg, which must in some measure have damped the joy and the expectations of the captive Reformer.

1. He was so much affected with the news of CerTain Proceedings at Wittemberg, that he determined to run the hazard of making a private excursion to that place, for the purpose of conversing with his friends on subjects which deeply and anxiously interested his thoughts. The exact circumstances of Cent. this clandestine visit are but imperfectly known; and we can do no more than form conjectures respecting the Proceedings which seem to have given rise to this extraordinary step. Many of the canons of Wittemberg disgraced the nascent reformation, both by an obstinate adherence to the reigning superstitions, and by a shameful profligacy of manners. In the next place, the untractable temper of Carolstadt showed itself more and more, and gave great concern to Luther. " I lament," says he, " the behaviour of this man. Indeed we have it in our power easily to withstand his precipitate motions, but then we shall give occasion to the adversary to triumph on account of our internal discords; and not only so,—our weaker brethren will also be much offended*."

A passage in one of Luther's letters to Spalatinus may be supposed to throw further light on this subject, " I came to Wittemberg, and among the most sweet meetings and conversations with my friends, I found this mixture of wormwood; namely, that several of my letters and little publications had been completely suppressed. They had not even been heard of or seen by any one. I leave you to judge whether I have not just cause to be much displeased with this treatment. In General, what I have had an opportunity of seeing and hearing gives me the highest satisfaction. May the Lord strengthen and support the courage of those who wish well to the cause! In the course of my journey, however, I was not a little vexed to hear various reports concerning the restless disposition of some of our friends; and I have promised to print, as soon as ever I return to my asylum, a public exhortation applicable to the circumstances. I must explain myself more particularly at another time. Commend me to our illustrious prince, from whose knowledge I have judged it proper to conceal this little excursion to Wittem* Letter to Amsdorff.

berg and back again. You know my reasons. Farewell. I am at this moment in Amsdorff's house, in an apartment with my dear Philip Melancthon."

2. It was in his Patmos that Luther first heard of the solemn censure, which the divines of the faculty of Paris passed on his writings, April the fifteenth, 1521*. The university of Paris was the most ancient, and at that time the most respectable of the learned societies of Europe. In 1517 they had ventured to call in question the pope's infallibility; and Luther himself is charged with having repeatedly acknowledged the Parisian doctors to be wise and orthodox theologians; and with having also promised to submit his cause to their arbitration^. It seems therefore extremely probable that he must have been disappointed, and in some degree chagrined, when he found that that assembly of divines on which he had most relied, and among whom there probably were some spiritual persons of an enlightened understanding, adhered In The Main to the old prejudices and the scholastic divinity, and had actually pronounced his doctrine to be " erroneous both in faith and manners, and proper only to deceive simple people; that it was injurious to all the doctors, and derogatory from the power of the church; openly schismatical, contrary to the sacred Scriptures, blasphemous against the Holy Spirit, and pernicious to the Christian commonwealth."

3. Another disagreeable event, which about the same time must have proved a trial to the irritable temper of the Reformer, was the celebrated answer to his treatise on the Babylonish captivity, published by Henry VIII. king of England. We learn from the papal archives that this prince, before his contest with the Saxon divine, had been soliciting the pope to bestow on him some honourable title, similar

• See Vol. iv. Du Pin.

t Comment de Luth. ixm, andcxni. Maimbourg, Sect. 46. J Pallav.

to the Catholic or Most Christian King. It is even said, that the title of Most Christian Majesty had been intended for Henry, but that the design was prevented by political considerations. The book was presented to Leo with the greatest formality, the English legate observing that his royal master had been instructed by the very best preceptors*, was well versed in sacred learning, had frequently acquired praise in disputes with the most learned persons of his own country; and that he now gloriously dared to contend with Luther, who was a man of no contemptible erudition. Leo, in return, spoke of the royal performance in such terms as if it had been dictated by immediate inspiration; and as a testimony of the gratitude of the church, conferred on its author the title of Defender of the Faith; an appellation still retained by the kings of England, though avowedly hostile to those religious sentiments, by defending which Henry merited from the court of Rome that illustrious distinction. This prince had been educated in a strict attachment to the church of Rome; and notwithstanding his active disposition and violent passions, had a love for learning. Moreover, he was particularly exasperated against Luther, because he had treated Thomas Aquinas, the king's favourite author, with great contempt. The young monarch, therefore, ambitious of fame of every kind, determined not only to oppose the progress of Lutheran tenets by his great authority, but to combat them also with scholastic weapons; and with this view he wrote in Latin his book on the seven sacraments, in opposition to the novel opinions.

Martin Luther, however, was neither to be overawed by the reputation of the university of Paris, nor by the dignity of the Sovereign of England. He

• In fact, the father of Henry VIII. being of a suspicions temper, and desirous of keeping his son from the knowledge of public business, occupied him entirely in pursuits of literature. Father Paul tells us, that as he was not the eldest son, he was intended to be archbishop of Canterbury.

soon published his animadversions on both, in as vehement and severe a style, as in the course of his numerous polemics he had ever used to his meanest antagonist. This treatment prejudiced Henry still more against the new doctrines; but the public admired these fresh instances of the undaunted spirit of the Reformer; the controversy drew more attention; and in spite of the combination both of the civil and the ecclesiastical powers the Lutheran opinions daily acquired new converts in every part of Europe.

Neither Henry's book, nor Luther's defence, are of sufficient importance to engage our notice. Silence, or a soft answer, is, in many cases, the best reply to calumnies: but this was a lesson which Luther was slow to learn; though afterwards he perceived the unreasonableness and the inconvenience of having unnecessarily irritated the spirit of a vain-glorious and capricious monarch, which he found it impos sible to appease. " Grievous words stir up anger." The propensity to resentment which Luther found in his own nature, ought to have taught him to deal more gently with the tempers of others. His friends at the time blamed the acrimony of his language to Henry VIII.; most of his admirers since have had the same sentiments; and I cannot but think that the laboured apologies of Seckendorf had better have been spared*.

There was, however, this essential difference between the faults of the Protestant reformer, and those of his adversaries, namely, that even against his most inveterate enemies, he never proceeded farther than the use of intemperate language. By principle, as we may see more distinctly hereafter, he was an enemy to persecution, and prayed for the conversion of those, against whom he inveighed. On the other side, nothing but blood and torture would satisfy the rage of the papal despots. In the course of this year, Belgium began to be the scene of their * Seck. 188.

sanguinary violence; some particulars of which Cent. sha\\ afterwards be related. v x^1- ,

It was, doubtless, a grateful piece of news to Luther in his confinement, to find that the powerful pen of Melancthon had been employed in defending Meiancthon him against the decision of the Parisian divines. p"5""lhe " I have seen," says he, " the decree of the Parisian Divines, sophists, and at the same time the apology of my friend Philip Melancthon. From my heart I rejoice. Christ would never have so completely blinded their eyes, if he had not determined to take care of his own cause, and put an end to the despotism of his enemies*."

Concerning his wrangle with Henry VIII. he makes the following observations. " I was well aware that whatever I might reply to that absurd and virulent Thomist, the King of England, I should give offence to many. I have treated him as I thought proper, and even necessary, for many reasons. These are unknown at present, but will be manifest by and by." And in another letter to the same person f, he says, " My prince, the elector, has repeatedly admonished me to express myself in gentler terms, and so have many other of my friends ; but I have always returned the same answer,—that I cannot comply with their wishes. The cause in which I am concerned is not an ordinary one, which may admit of concession and dissimulation. Of these I have foolishly been guilty already too often."'

After all it must be owned, that it is much easier to censure Luther for want of moderation, than to exhibit a pattern of Christian meekness in a similar heat of controversy ; and more particularly when a man is on the right side of an important practical question, which was most manifestly the case with Luther in his contest with Henry VIII. In ages of greater refinement indeed whether men are conscious

* To Spalatinus. Jul. 1521.
t Spalatinus.

of defeat or of victory, they are more accustomed to abstain from gross and indecent language; yet even then, in its place there is often manifested on the one hand an affectation of coolness and indifference, and perhaps an attempt at strokes of irony, which sufficiently bespeak the wounded spirit of the vanquished ; and on the other, an insolent and contemptuous sort of clemency, which as it originates in the pride and palpable superiority of the conqueror, proves more hurtful to the feelings of an antagonist than could any hard words or disgusting allusions. If Martin Luther had lived in our times, and had not learnt, through the influence of the precious doctrine which he taught, to bridle and regulate better his disposition to resentment, yet would he probably have managed his replies and rejoinders with a more decorous disguise; but it does not thence follow, that he would either have experienced less turbulence of passion in his own mind, or have produced less painful sensations in the minds of his adversaries, though these might have been less obvious, because designedly more concealed. The internal heat and fury of a combustion, when confined by powerful obstacles, is not to be estimated by the little blaze and smoke which affect the senses.

In the month of December of this same year, at the age of forty-six, died Leo X. a pontiff renowned for his encouragement of literature and the fine arts; on which account his name has been transmitted to posterity in the most adulatory strains of Erasmus and many others*. He has been charged, on good authority, with a profane contempt, or at least neglect of religionf. Some would represent him as a deep and penetrating politician; while others, after acknowledging his good natural endowments, trace the voluptuary throughout the whole course of his life, ever impatient of care and business, ruining all his faculties both of body and * See Appendix, Leo X. t Paul Sarpi.

mind, and shortening his existence by excesses. The facts are our surest guides in determining his character ; and of these we need not enumerate many. This pope is memorable because of the diminution which the papal authority received through his ignorance, imprudence, and precipitation. Moreover, thousands in contemplating his conduct had learnt to despise his pretensions to the sacred character; and as if Leo had been eager to confirm their prejudices, he issued bulls against heretics, while he himself was dissipating his time and health in prodigal and luxurious pleasures, in the company of debauched cardinals, and in promoting expensive and licentious spectacles at the theatre. Mr. Hume's coolness and moderation in speaking of Leo X. is strikingly curious and entertaining. According to him, it was " his Generous and Enterprising temper" which exhausted his treasury, and obliged him to use every invention which might yield money to support his projects, pleasures and liberalities. It was also " the penetration of his genius, and his familiarity with ancient literature," that rendered him fully acquainted with " the ridicule and fallacy of the doctrines, which as supreme pontiff he was obliged by his interest to promote;" and therefore we need not wonder that he employed " for his profit those pious frauds" which his predecessors had made use of for their selfish purposes. On the subject of Leo's sale of Indulgences, this author makes the following still more extraordinary reflection. Their " sale seems, therefore, no more criminal than any other cheat of the church of Rome, or of any other church. The reformers, by entirely abolishing purgatory, did really, instead of partial indulgences sold by the pope, give gratis a general indulgence of a similar nature for all crimes and offences, without exception or distinction."

It is quite unnecessary to make any remarks on these and such like passages; they are laid before the student of ecclesiastical history, for the purpose

Chap, of making him aware of the astonishing lengths of v"' . impiety and misrepresentation to which this elegant historian is generally disposed to go, when he would mitigate the faults of the profane, or deride the sincerity of the believer. Mr. Hume is rarely out of humour with any thing but pure Christianity.

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