Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Century XVI, Chapter XVII




t. Persecutions. .

2. Rupture Between Charles V. Andthe Pope*

3. Diet Of Spires In 1529.

4. Protest Of The Reformers.

5. Meetings Of The Protestants.

6. Diet Of Augsburg. . !

The progress of Divine knowledge, the genuine Success of conversion of souls, and the abolition of abomi- the ^'H6'1 nable superstitions, were carried on with no great interruption for the space of ten years, and upwards ; that is, till the year 1529, reckoning from the year 1517, when Luther, unable to smother his indignation, first raised his voice against Tetzel, the impudent vender of indulgences, and at the same time pointed out the Roman Pontiff himself as the leading culprit in this iniquitous traffic. The success of the Gospel, if we except the Apostolic age, was perhaps in this period unexampled. Even in Italy, in a town called Fayenza, we are told by Father Paul, that there was public preaching against the Church of Rome, and that Gospellers increased every day *.




A woman burnt in Hohcmia,

A. D. 1527.

Letter of



1. Persecutions.

We are however not to forget, that notwithstanding this blessed influence of the written Word, persons, who openly avowed their conviction of the truth, were miserably exposed to persecution in all those places where either the civil or the ecclesiastical ruler happened to be an active and zealous Roman Catholic. The catalogue of the sufferers is

very considerable. It may however suffice to

add, to the instances already noticed at page 467, a few others of the most remarkable cases.

In 1527, a Bohemian woman, after a confinement of almost a whole year, was cast into the flames, on account of two crimes laid to her charge.

1. That by denying the corporeal presence of Christ's natural body, she had blasphemed the Sacrament of the altar.

2. That she had been rebaptized by John Kalens. The wooden cup which Kalens had used in the administration of the Lord's Supper, was burnt along with this heretic *.

Sometimes the Evangelical preachers, when proscribed by Papal cruelty, fled from their habitations to save their lives. There is on record an admirable consolatory letter of Ecolampadius, written in 1528, to two persons of this sort then in exile.—" It would move a heart of adamant," says he, " my dear brethren, to think of your flocks thus deprived of their faithful shepherds, dispersed and exposed to the wolves: then to see the adversaries triumphing and glorying in their iniquity; and the weaker brethren, who were on the very eve of renouncing Popery, suddenly alarmed, and apprehensive of a similar treatment. Add to this, the dangers, the ignominy, the distresses of exile, which are sometimes more grievous than death itself. For, exiles undergo a daily death. However, when we * Scult. XXVII. p. 111.

reflect that God is faithful, and will not terhpf us Cent. above what we are able to bear, but will regulate , XVL every thing according to the strength which he is pleased to give, this consideration supplies an abundance of substantial consolation. Be assured, the Holy Ghost, who has anointed you for this contest; will not fail to preserve you from fainting in the afflictions which ye undergo for the truth. Moreover, your silence during your proscription speaks louder by much to the hearts of God's children, than ever your most animated sermons could do. Your present firmness fixes an inviolable seal on the doctrines you have been teaching with so much piety. The blood of Abel has a voice; and so has your persecution a tongue. Away then with cowardice and lamentation. Happy the man who is conformed to the image of the crucified Saviour, whom we preach. Christ knows his sheep ; he will preserve them from the jaws of the wolf; and the exultation of the hypocrites will be but for a moment *."

Joachim, the elector of Brandenburg, distin- Elizabeth guished himself at this time in persecuting the ^en^rg Lutherans. This bigoted prince had confined for escapes some days in her chamber, on account of her aN fromBerl1 tachment to the Gospel, his own wife Elizabeth, the sister of the afore-mentioned exiled king of Denmark ; and was intending to immure her perpetually; when by the help of her brother, she effected a wonderful escape from Berlin; was conveyed in the waggon of a peasant, and hospitably received by the elector of Saxony f.

The duchess of Munsterberg also, named Ur- Plight of sula, had this year a most miraculous escape from the monastery of Friburg; and fled with two vir- berg, gins to Luther for protection. This was a most A. D. mortifying event to George of Saxony; for this 152^ duchess was his own cousin ^.

* Scult. XXVIII. 173. Ep. Zuing. and CEcolamp. 4. 191. b.
t Scultet. 174. Spal. in Seek. 122. II. Ep. Aurif. 375.
t Scult. Ibid. II. Ep. 390. b.

the duchess of Munster

In France the persecutions were dreadful. The Papists persuaded the king, that all the misfortunes with which the country was afflicted, were owing to the mischievous Lutheran heresy. In consequence, the most sanguinary laws were solemnly decreed against Lutheranism, and every one who could be proved to favour the doctrine was treated as a blasphemer *. Yet this same prince, Francis I.. notwithstanding the zeal with which his Catholic clergy availed to inspire him, had no objection, for the purpose of more effectually serving his political schemes, to endeavour, by the medium of his ambassadors, to promote in Swisserland that very reformation of religion, which he was labouring to expel from his own kingdom by fire and sword. Zujngle, in a letter to Ecolampadius, tells us, that the royal ambassadors of France pressed the five catholic cantons of Swisserland to allow the word of God to be preached among them, according to the system of the Reformers f.

In North Holland, a widow, named Wendelmut, was seized on account of her religion, carried to the Hague, and there strangled, and afterwards, burnt to ashes. — On her examination concerning the mass, she answered, " It was a piece of bread;" and in regard to the images and pictures of saints, she confessed she knew of no other mediator but Jesus Christ. To one that told her, she did not fear death because she had not tasted it, this widow replied, " I shall never taste it; for Christ has said, If any man keep my sayings, he shall never see death." She was then advised to confess her sins to a priest: upon which she cried aloud, " I have confessed all my sins to Christ my Lord, who takes away all sin. But if I have offended my neighbours, I heartily ask them forgiveness." She then went so the place of execution with meekness and courage J.

* Scult. 175. t Op. Zuing. I. 419. b.

J Brandt, 56. Scult. p. 111.

It is said that some of the Moravian brethren, as Cent. well as other pious persons of those times, were t XVL , baptized a second time ; and this, not as proselytes of Anabaptism, but merely because they could then see no other way of separating themselves from a wicked world*. And we may observe in general, that it is not always easy to distinguish, in the accounts of the Anabaptist-martyrs, who were truly humble Christians. We cannot however doubt of the Keality of the sufferings of the unfortunate victims, when the facts are distinctly recorded with triumph by the Romish historians themselves. On pap„i ac_ this ground it is, that I select from Cocklseus,— count of who otherwise is rarely to be trusted in any ques- tiom. tion respecting the Reformers,—the following testimonies of the execrable barbarity of the Papists. " At Rotenberg by the river Neckar," says this fiery zealot, " many of the Anabaptists, both men and women, were apprehended; and all put to death that refused to recant their errors. Nine men were burnt: Ten women were drowned. But their leader and teacher, Michael Sellarius, an apostate monk, who was by far the greatest offender, was condemned in a public court of judicature,—to have his blasphemous tongue cut out by the exe- Martyrdom cutioner; to be tied to a curricle, and to have two ^^Jj*'1 pieces of his flesh torn from his body in the marketplace, by red-hot pincers; then to be torn again afterwards in the same manner by the hot pincers five times on the road, as he was dragged to the burning pile." This sentence, the author tells us, was executed on the 17th of May 1527: and he proceeds to exclaim what a grievous deceiver Sellarius had been; and among other things mentions his teaching of the people not to invoke saints fj

* Scult. 177.

t Cocklaeus de Luth. XXVII. 163. VOL. v. Nff

Chap, but not one word escapes this malignant and bigoted t xvu' . historian, concerning the firmness, patience, or piety of the martyr.

and of At Tournay in Flanders, in 1528, an Augustine

Tourrna°f monk> named Henry, was condemned to the flames, ' for having thrown off his dress, married a wife, and 1 <^8* Preacned against Popery. The bishop's official told him, he might save his life, if he would but own that the woman he had married was his concubine. But he, refusing to lengthen his days on such terms, praised God by singing Te Deum, and soon after cheerfully finished his course in the fire *.

2. Rupture Between Charles V. And The Pope.

The wars Notwithstanding these dreadful narratives, peri'*were which sufficiently demonstrate the cruel and unrefavourabie lenting hostility of the papal hierarchy, there is no "sunt!!'0 doubt but the violence of the war between Francis I.

and the Emperor, as also the dissensions between the Emperor and the Pope, proved extremely favourable to the progress of the Reformation. For though the spirit of persecution was not in the least abated, yet it spent its chief fury on such defenceless individuals as happened to fall into the cruel hands of some bigoted ruler, ecclesiastic or civil. The three potentates above mentioned were themselves beset with too many difficulties in their political affairs to give much serious and steady attention to the businesss of religion. Add, that their respective interests were often so opposite and perplexed, as entirely to exclude all amicable concurrence in the formation of any general plan for the extirpation of heresy. In effect, it is by reflecting on these jarring interests, with an overruling Providence constantly in the mind, that we are enabled in some measure * Brandt, 57. Scult. 176.

to account not only for the mild decree of the diet Cent. of Spires in 1526, but also for the inefficiency of . XVithe succeeding attempts of the great papal powers to stifle the revival of Christian truth and liberty. The Rope, no doubt, was sincere in his desires to crush every symptom of growing Protestantism, but Charles V. had neither leisure nor inclination to gratify the wishes of a pontiff who had so lately entered into an alliance against him with the French and the Venetians. The religion of this prince, as far as it was real, is supposed to have been RomanCatholic ; but whatever it was, he never suffered it to interfere with his ambitious schemes of secular aggrandizement. Even the Pope himself ceased to have the least influence with him, the moment the politics of the court of Rome appeared to thwart those of his Imperial majesty. On the other hand, the principles of Clement VII. were in no degree better. Under the pretence that hard and unjust terms had been extorted from the king of France while a prisoner in Spain *, Clement at once absolved him from the oath by which he was bound to execute the treaty of Madrid, and sent a person both to contragulate him on his deliverance from captivity, and to settle a treaty against Charles; and lastly, he dispatched a brieve to the Emperor, full of accusation, invective, and menace "J".

This proceeding of Clement VII. inflamed the Ruptlire resentment of the Emperor to such a degree, that he between abolished the authority of the Roman pontiff tnd'theV" throughout all his Spanish dominions .];, made war PoPeupon him in Italy, laid siege to Rome, and blocked up Clement himself in thecastle of St. Angelo, where he was reduced to the extremity of feeding on

* Pallav. a. 13. 6. t Paul Sarpi, Goldast. Pol. Imp. 987.

J Thuanus I. XI.; who here observes, that Spain has hereby left to posterity a remarkable proof, that the ecclesiastical discipline may be preserved without the authority of the Pope.

Chap, asses flesh, and at length compelled to capitulate , XVI1, , on severe terms, and to remain a prisoner until the chief articles were performed *.

Such in brief were the important consequences of that confederacy which has been termed the Holy tEAGUEf, because the Pope was at the head of it. The Detail of the war we leave to the secular historians, having no concern with victories or defeats, diminutions or extensions of empire; orwitb the ambitious plans and schemes that produce them, any further than as these things frequently affect the interests of the Gospel, lay open the secret motives of the principal actors, and thereby explain a number of circumstances, otherwise utterly inexplicable, in the history of the Church of Christ.

Therefore with these objects in view, we judge it expedient to give some account of two memorable letters, which the Emperor thought fit to write,one of them to the Pope himself, the other to his Cardinals at Rome,—before he came to an absolute rupture with Clement VII. charies'i i. In the former, he accuses the Pope of ingrathe Po'e titu(le, putting him in mind that it was by his assist°pe ance he had been raised to the pontifical chair. " The king of England," he said, " had been called the Protector of the Holy League; whereas that monarch had assured him in his letters, that he neither had, nor would accept that title, though the Pope had pressed him to do so. The king of France, moreover, made no scruple to own publicly, that before he returned from Madrid to his own country, he had been urged by the Pope to enter into the new alliance; and the Emperor added, that he knew the Pope had absolved him from the oath by which he was bound, either to observe the articles of peace, or return to his captivity J.

He then proceeds to put his Holiness in mind,

* Jov. Vit. Colon. 167, in Rob. II.

t Traites de Paix, II. 124. J Pallav. 2. 13.6.

that the Pope of Rome received more money from Cent. the subjects of his Imperial highness, than from all . *\L the other kings of Christendom put together. That a judgment might be formed of the magnitude of those annual receipts from the hundred grievances "which had been presented to his court by the Germanic body: That, as Emperor, such had always been his devotion and reverence for the Apostolic See, he had hitherto Forborne To Listen To


but that if, for good reasons he should be driven to withhold those revenues, then the Pope would no longer possess the golden keys which open and shut the gates of war; he would no longer be allowed to carry on hostilities against the Emperor with the money which belonged to the subjects of his Imperial highness; for that it would certainly be more just for the Emperor to apply that money to the purposes of his own defence.

Charles V. then concludes, by roundly telling the Pope, that if he were still determined to go on with the war, and would not listen to the reasons he had alleged, he should look upon him as acting not the part of a father, but of the head of a faction; not of a pastor, but of an invader of the just rights of sovereigns. This, he said, was his ultimatum, and he should appeal to a general council of the whole Christian world*.

2. In his letter addressed to the College of Car- His letter dinals, Charles, with much parade, insists on the cardinals, purity of his intentions, his great moderation, and continued endeavours to establish peace and tranquillity. " How shocked then, and how disgusted," he said, " must any one be to read the brieve which had been delivered to him by the nuncio, and had the sanction of so eminent a pontiff" and of so many pious and Christian fathers. It was evidently written for the express purpose of vilifying * Goldast. I. 81. & III. 492.

Chap, and degrading the Emperor who was the protector . ^ J of the Apostolic See. It breathed nothing' but war, sedition, false and injurious accusations against himself; and yet there was not any prince who so much respected the holy See, or defended its dignity with so disinterested a care. It was his innate re* verence for the Roman hierarchy, which had induced him, when he was at the diet of Worms, to turn A Deaf Ear to all the importunate complaint* and petitions of the Germans. In effect, by the steps he had taken to serve the Pope, he had in some measure alienated the minds of his German subjects, particularly by forbidding, under a heavy penalty, the intended assembly of the princes at Spires*. He had prohibited that convention, because he foresaw such a meeting would prove disadvantageous to the Pope; and in order to sooth the minds of the princes under their disappointment, he had then given them hopes of having a general council in a short time. He had explained all these things with great care to the Pope, and had admonished him to call a council. He concluded this address to the cardinals with requesting them to concur with himself in putting Clement VII. in mind of his duty, and in exhorting him to preserve the peace of Christendom, which good purpose would be best effected by the convocation of a general council without further delay.

Then, if the Pope should persist in refusing to hear reason, the Emperor called on the cardinals themselves to come forward, and in their own name summon the council which was so much wanted. And lastly, if the reverend Fathers should oppose his equitable requisition, he told them, he himself would not fail to use such remedies as God had put in his power, for the protection of religion and the tranquillity of Christendomf.

* Page 169. t Goldasl. 1, 102. III. 493.

Charles V., in his indignation against Clement, Publication published these manifestos, and did everv thine: he of lh® Em" could to give notoriety to his complaints*. The manifestos. German Protestants also most industriously dispersed the same. And we need not wonder that such extraordinary documents should have been read with prodigious eagerness. What could those, who well remembered the Emperor's solemn declarations, both at Worms, and on other occasions, against Lutheranism, now think of his religion or conscience, when they heard him confess that he had stopped his ears against the honest prayers of Germany, merely to please the Pope? Who would scruple to say, that having betrayed the interests of his imperial subjects, he could in his own turn expect no better than to be betrayed by an unprincipled Pontiff?

No more needs to be said to convince thinking person s of the effects which must have been produced on the public mind by these manifestos of the Emperor. Full as acrimonious and reproachful as the bitterest invectives of Luther, they not only emboldened men, after the example of Charles, to treat the Pope with little reverence, but also lowered exceedingly the credit of the whole dominant ecclesiastical establishment, and of all its most strenuous supporters. The publication of them had in effect divulged a dangerous secret,—by many indeed sufficiently known before,—yet did it require extraordinary confidence in Charles, to make a public avowal, which in substance, though not in words, amounted to a confession, " That reverence towards the Pope was no more than an art of government covered with the cloak of religion"f." The disclosure of so much political manoeuvre and defective morality did more than counterbalance all that he had hitherto done against the Reformers, whose conduct, ever marked by ingenuousness and plain

* Du Pin, II. 20. t Paul Sarpi, 39.

dealing, appeared a Perfect Contrast to all this duplicity, artifice, and inconsistency.

If the contention and animosity of two such unprincipled potentates as the Pope and the Emperor, thus operated in 1.526 at the Diet of Spires to check the persecuting spirit of the Romanists, and to prevent any systematic attempt to exterminate the Protestants, it required no great foresight to predict the lamentable consequences of their union or alliance. To their lasting shame be it recorded, that the moment a prospect opened for the accommodation of their own respective political differences, both Clement VII. and Charles V. concurred in wreaking their united vengeance on the defenders of the sacred cause of religion and liberty*.

3. Another Diet At Spires In 1529.

The decree of the Diet of Spires was equivalent to a toleration of Luther's opinions in all the states where those opinions were approved by their reSererc De- spective governors or magistrates; but in 1529 a pietofthe new Diet was assembled at the same place, when Spires in the said decree was, by a majority of suffrages, so far revoked, as to forbid all further propagation of novel opinions in religion. Those who had observed the execution of the edict of Worms, were ordered to continue the execution of it. Those who had changed their religious system, and could not without danger of sedition revert to the ancient usages, were to be quiet, and make no further innovation till the meeting of a council. The celebration of mass was not to be obstructed in any place whatever ; and lastly, the Anabaptists were proscribed in the severest terms, and made subject to capital punishments f- 1

• The Pope and Charles V. concluded a treaty of peace »i Barcelona, June 20, 1529. Guicc. Lib. XIX. 532. f Sleidan, 171. Goldast. III. 495. II. 155.


The motives of Clement in this business were Cent. sufficiently intelligible. A Pope of Rome, in peace . XVL or in war, confined and starved in a castle, or reseated in the chair of St. Peter issuing brieves and bulls for the terror of Christendom, never loses sight of his grand object, the maintenance of his supreme and despotical jurisdiction ;—well aware, thatshould that be in the least impaired, the whole edifice of the pontifical authority would be thereby at once endangered.

The precise views of Charles V. in urging the harsh decree of this Diet, may admit of some doubt. Perhaps he thereby hoped to attach firmly to his interests—or at least to sooth and gratify—the Pope, whose sacred character he had lately insulted with so many indignities. Perhaps he beheld the new doctrines as leading to close and durable confederacies in Germany, which might eventually weaken the Imperial authority. Or he might imagine, that a resolute, well-timed, and rigorous exertion of authority, would prove useful both for the protection and extension of his prerogatives, several of which, he would naturally suppose, were not much relished by a bold and turbulent race of people, of whom almost one half had already revolted from the papal domination. These, it must be owned are only conjectures; but we are Sure that the ambition of this prince was restless, insatiable, and constantly impelling him, both to narrow the power of the Roman See, and also to encroach on the liberties of his German subjects. He had abundantly satisfied his revenge in the late humiliation of Clement*; yet he still menaced that pontiff with the prospect of an impending general council: and, in regard to the Germans, he certainly looked on their domestic troubles and divisions as in the main extremely favourable to his arbitrary and despotic intention.—This monarch • Thuan. I. XI.

was what the world calls a great politician ; but m what the Scripture describes as a good man. Hl> understanding became vitiated by his inordinate thirst after dominion, and by his unexampled prosperity ; insomuch, that notwithstanding all ha natural good sense, and all his experience, he wai frequently the dupe of his own intricate scheme and projects.

4. Protest Of The Reformers.

Iniquitous as was the decree of the second Diet of Spires, it would doubtless have been mud more rigorous and oppressive, if Charles had not been still at war with the French and his inveterate rival Francis I. The recess of this Diet is dated in April: and the peace of Cambray, between the Emperor and the king of France, was not concluded till the succeeding August *.

Fourteen Imperial cities f> with the elector of Saxony, the marquis of Brandenburg, the dukes of Lunenburg, and the prince of Anhalt at their head, in firm but moderate language solemnly ProTested against the decree of the Diet, as unjust and intolerable, and in every way calculated to produce discontent and tumult. Hence arose for the first time the denomination of Protestants^, an honourable appellation, which not only in Germany, but other nations, is given to all those sects of Christians who renounce the superstitious Romish communion §.

The Protestant princes and protectors of the reformed churches were not satisfied with merely

* Traites de Paix, p. 170.

t The names of the cities are Strasburg, Nuremberg, Ulro, Constance, Reutlingen, Windsheim, Meinengen, Lindau, Kempten, Hailbron, Isna, Weissemburg, Nordlingen, and St. Gall.

I This term, on account of its convenient use, has been frequently anticipated in the course of this History.

§ Sleidan, 173.

expressing their dissent from the decree of the Diet; Cent. they also drew up all their grievances in form ; and . XVIappealed to the Emperor and to a future general council, or to a lawful Germanic council, and to all impartial judges. Lastly, they fixed upon ambassadors, whom they directed to lay all their proceedings before his Imperial majesty. Charles had not been present at the late Diet, but had received from his brother Ferdinand, who had there presided in his place, an exact account of all that passed ; and having at length concluded a peace with France, was now in Italy on his road to Bologna.

The German ambassadors were introduced to him at Placentia *, and there they executed their commission with a spirit and resolution worthy of the princes whom they represented. Nothing however could be more discouraging than the reception they met with from this haughty monarch, whose vain mind was now puffed up with a series of extraordinary successes. By a message delivered to the deputies three days before they were admitted into his presence, he admonished them to be brief in what they had to say ; and on their introduction he repeated the same admonition. Afterwards, when he had heard their objections to the decree, and they had waited a full month for his answer f, he told them, " that he exceeding lamented their divisions ; but nevertheless insisted on obedience to the decree which was passed for the purpose of putting an end to the mischievous sects of every description. He had written, he said, to the elector of Saxony and his associates, and had commanded them, in conformity to their oaths, to obey the decree of the Diet; and if they were refractory, he should be compelled, for the sake of example and good government, to punish such contumacy with severity. He asserted, that himself and the rest of the princes, regarded the peace of their consciences and the salvation of their • Sleidan, 177. + Ibid. 178.

Chap, souls, as much as the Protestants could do; and . xwlL . moreover, that he was also as desirous of a genera] council as they could be, though, said he, there would not be much occasion for it, provided the lawful decrees of the Diet, especially that of Worms, were duly enforced." The Em- On receiving this answer, the ambassadors pro£TMr'to the duced the act of appeal, as it had been drawn up Appeal. at Spires; but Charles's minister for some^time refused to deliver it to his master : and afterwards, when he had ventured to present that spirited memorial, the monarch's pride was so severely wounded by this instance of opposition to his will, that in a rage he ordered the German ambassadors to be put under an arrest for some days; and, on pain of death, neither to stir a foot from their apartments, nor write a line to their Protestant princes *.

5. Meetings Of The Protestants.

THE account of this contemptuous and violent procedure of Charles V. soon found its way to Nuremberg, and convinced the Protestant party that it was high time for them to consult for their protection against a powerful potentate intoxicated with success, and irritated by opposition. Then, whatever hopes they might place in foreign assistance, it was plain that little was to be done without unanimity at home. The papal adherents had for a long time been well aware of this ; and at the Diet of Spires had employed two of their most able and artful agents, Eckius, and Faber bishop of Vienna f, to exert their utmost efforts in widening the breach between the disciples of Luther and of Zuingle. On the other side, the good Landgrave of Hesse, both at Spires and afterwards at Marpurg, exhausted all the means which human prudence could suggest J, to bring about if possible between the contending

* Sleidan, 179. + Ep. Melan. IV. 83. \ Page 518.

parties an accommodation of so much importance, in the present struggle for deliverance from the yoke of superstition and ecclesiastical despotism.

In effect, the heads of the Protestants, even while they were in suspense respecting the Emperor's answer to their embassy, were so much alarmed at the late decree of Spires, that for the wise purpose of enlarging and cementing a defensive confederacy, they had a solemn conference at Roth in the month of June *; and, moreover, at Nuremberg they drew up certain articles of their intended alliance f.

In the succeeding October they met again at Sultzbach J ; and upon hearing of the severe treatment of their ambassadors at Placentia, they again assembled about the end of November at Smalcald ; and lastly once more at Nuremberg, early in the January of the succeeding year, 1530$.

All these deliberations, owing to the various and jarring sentiments of the deputies, failed of producing the desirable issue. However the Sacramentarian dissension, exasperated by the incurable obstinacy of Luther, appears to have been the principal, though perhaps not the only obstruction to unanimity. The tenderconscience of the elector of Saxony rendered this prince averse to a military confederacy, even of defence, which might seem formed in opposition to the legitimate government of the country. His scruples are well known to have originated from Luther, who a little before the convention at Smalcald, exhorted him in the strongest terms not to think of using force against the Emperor in the defence of religion ||. In his arguments he was supported by Melancthon and Bugenhagius.

At Nuremberg, in January, the deputies had almost resolved to send a new and more respectable

• Seek. 135. a. t Sleid. 176.

I Du Pin, 114. Sleid. 176.

§ Sleid. 180, 181. Com. de Luth. XLVIII. et Add. || Com. de Luth. XLVIII. a.

embassy to his Imperial majesty ; but the assembir was but thinly attended, and as it was understock that the Emperor would soon summon another Die: of all the Germanic princes and orders, they abandoned their first intentions; and contented themselves with coming to this ultimate resolution,—thi each state should deliberate for itself, and within the | space of a month, transmit to the elector of Saxont its peculiar sentiment, in order that the Protested* at so critical a juncture might act in concert, botk in regard to the common defence, and also the objects to be aimed at in the ensuing Diet.

6. Diet Of Augsbuug.

Charles V. arrived at Bologna on the fifth of November 1529, and on the thirty-first of January of the succeeding year sent his mandatory letters into Germany for the purpose of summoning a general Diet of the empire, to be held at Augsburg on the eighth day of April. At Bologna, on the twenty-fourth of February, his own birth-dav *, he was crowned with great pomp by the Pope himself: with whom he continued to reside in the same palace till the following month of March "f\

During the winter months these two mighty potentates had held many consultations concerning the state of religion in Germany, and the best methods of extirpating heresy; but their views were materially different. The Pope dreaded nothing so much as general councils, which he represented as factious, and, at best, slow in their operation. The case, he said, was desperate, and required speedy and rigorous measures : The clemency of the Emperor was ill-judged, and had in effect exasperated the spirit of rebellion; and it was now incumbent on him

* Du Pin.

t Sleidan, 181, 186. It was thought not so proper to perform the solemnity of the coronation at Rome, in the presence of those who had sacked it but two years before. P. Sarpi, 47.

to support the Church, and crush the heretics by Cent. force. Charles, though at this time much disposed XVI- , to gratify the Pope, was convinced that his German subjects were not to be trifled with ; and it is not improbable but he might feel some compunction, for having lately exhibited so much unreasonable resentment in his insolent treatment of their ambassadors at Placentia.

Whether the mind of the Emperor really revolted at the iniquitous suggestion of condemning the honest Protestants unheard, and of putting an end at once to their political existence, it may be hard to say; certain it is, that in the conferences with the Pope at Bologna, whatever approached in the least degree to moderation and impartiality, originated with Charles V. and not with Clement VII. The Pope and his whole party demonstrated by their activity in open persecution, and by their secret manoeuvres which have since transpired, that they sighed for the universal destruction of Protestantism. The Emperor in his own judgment, there is reason to believe, deemed the convocation of a council to be the proper expedient at this season, but having peremptorily refused to comply with the sanguinary proposals of the Pope, he was disposed so far to humour his Holiness, as first to adopt a less offensive measure, namely, the appointment of a Diet of the Empire. A general council was the next thing to be tried : but it was agreed that without the most urgent necessity, recourse should not be had to a remedy, the mere mention of which filled the mind of Clement with the most harassing apprehensions; and in every event, Charles appears to have bound himself by an unequivocal promise to use the most efficacious endeavours for the reduction of all the rebellious adversaries of the Catholic religion *.

Notwithstanding the disposition in which the Precantions Emperor left Bologna, the Pope had the precaution. oltheI>0Pe' * Maim. 142. P. Sarpi, 49.

Chap, to' appoint Cardinal Campeggio not only as his or <-.xul" , representative and plenipotentiary at the ensuin: Diet, but also as an honorary attendant on his Imperial majesty during all his journey to Augsburg and to secure still more effectually the pontifie: interests, he dispatched P. Vergerio as his nunci to Ferdinand in Germany, with secret intructicnto consult with that prince, and strain every nerv: to hinder the convocation of a council. Vergeno was a lawyer, and proved himself well qualified for the commission with which he was intrusted. He injured the Lutherans by every method he could devise. The exertions of the popish divines Eckiui. Faber, and Cocklseus, might undoubtedly have been depended upon : but Vergerio thought it best to ensure their activity by munificent presents. Thii precious commissioner was likewise directed to gratify king Ferdinand, by informing him that the Pope was ready to grant him, in support of the war against the Turks, both a contribution from the clergy of Germany, and also the gold and silver ornaments of the churches *.

Thus did the Roman pontiff, with fire and sword in one hand, and artifice and corruption in the other, endeavour to extirpate the godly Protestants; and meanwhile, with consummate hypocrisy, express the most ardent wishes for peace and harmony, and the restoration of Gospel principles in the .Church of Christ. The sevtn- John THE Constant, the excellent elector of tielei of Saxony, was determined to procure for the ProtestTorgau. ants, if possible, a fair hearing at the Diet of Augsburg. And with a view to prevent all loose aid fugitive discussion in abusiness of such immense importance, and also to enable any equitable judge to see distinctly all the leading points of religion which had produced so many volumes of controversy, he wisely directed his Wittemberg divines to draw up * Sleidan, 182. P. Sarpi, 49.

in a narrow compass the heads of that religious Cent. system which had produced the separation from . x^1, . the Romish communion. This, though an affair of considerable nicety, was presently effected by Luther. For the doctrines in question had already been digested into seventeen articles; and had been proposed twice in the conferences at Sultzbach, and once in that at Smalcald*, as the confession of faith to be agreed on by the Protestant confederates. These seventeen articles, with little or no alteration, were delivered by Luther, atTorgau |", to the Elector then on his road to Augsburg; and served as a basis for a more orderly and elaborate composition, to be exhibited at the approaching Diet. For the execution of a work of so great moment, the Protestant princes employed the elegant and accurate pen of Melancthon, the result of whose labours was a treatise, admired even by many of its enemies for its piety, learning, and perspicuity.—This celebrated TheConfciperformance is well known under the title of the T" ?'

ri A i " ^1 Augsburg.

Confession Of Augsburg; and in the next Volume of this History of the Church of Christ, the reader will find a more particular description of its contents J, together with a brief detail of the proceedings of the diet of Augsburg, and also of the consequences of the infamous decree of that assembly in November 1530§, which furnished matter of much exultation to the supporters of the Papacy, while it dejected and even alarmed many of the sincerest friends and protectors of the cause of religious truth and liberty.

The Reformation, as we have seen, in spite of all the efforts of Papal rage and malignity, had not

• Com.deLuth.XLlI.4.& XLVIII.&Add. See also p. 441. t Ibid. LV. 4.

X The Confession of Augsburg contains twenty-eight Chapters. S The Protestant league at Smalcald was one of those consequences.


Chap, ceased to spread and prosper throughout variooi

. XV1L , districts. The great city of Strasburg, in the former part of 1529, could not, by all the remonstrances of the Imperial regency, be deterred from adopting the bold resolution of abolishing the mass ; moreover, Count Philip of Hanover, though menaced by a formidable opposition, introduced Evangelical doctrine in the same year throughout hu dominions. Many instances indeed of the martyrdom of godly men might be added to the several catalogues already given; but the good Protestants were accustomed to these sufferings, and bore them with extraordinary patience and fortitude*: however, as soon as they heard of the deplorable issue of the Diet of Augsburg, they justly concluded that the Pope and the Emperor had resolved on their entire destruction ; and they looked on the publication of the new edict, which was in effect severer than

• that of Worms, as the signal for the commencement

of more violent and barbarous persecutions than any they had experienced before.

Diet of The Diet of Augsburg in 1530, forms a sort of !f if' €ra m n^s*ory °f tne Reformation ; but at prej 1 ' sent we shall say no more concerning it, than—

1. That the German princes, the magnanimoiu defenders of the sacred cause, assembled at Smalcald towards the end of the year, and there concluded a solemn alliance of mutual defence; and—

2. That some of the most wise and pious of the Protestant theologians, especially Melancthon, were so oppressed by the prospect of the calamities which threatened the afflicted Church of Christ, that they were almost ready to abandon the contest, and give themselves up to melancholy and lamentation.

* Sleidan mentions two learned divines, ■ who were burnt it Cologne in 1529. And Ab. Scultet reports from a MS. of Rillinger, that at Rothweil, an imperial city in Suabia. three hun'dred and eighty-five persons were driven into exile for deserting the doctrines of the Papacy.

We will conclude this Volume with an observation Cent. or two on the conduct of Luther, about the-time of . X^L , this very critical conjuncture.

1. Before the Diet of Augsburg, in the year 1529, Conduct of while the tempest of persecution was louring on „Uabtehrbe" the faithful, this indefatigable servant of God was meeting of employed in publishing his lesser and greater Cate- ,he Diet" chism, which at this day are treatises of authority in the Lutheran Churches. In the preface to each, he deplores the ignorance of the people at large, and asserts, that those who know nothing of Christian principles, ought not even to be called by their name. He expatiates on the utility of catechizing; recommends the frequent use of it to masters of families ; cites his own example of attending to the first catechetical truths for the purpose of edification, notwithstanding the proficiency which, in a course of years he might be supposed to have made; and observes, that daily reading and meditation, among many other advantages, has this,—that a new light and unction from the Holy Spirit is hence, from time to time, afforded to the humble soul. With such godly simplicity was Luther conversant in the Gospel-practice: and so totally distinct was the spiritual understanding and improvement, which he desired to encourage in the Church, from the mere theory of frigid theological disquisition. Perhaps no history since the days of the Apostles, affords a more remarkable instance of the humility and condescension of a primary theologian, in stooping to the infirmities of the weak, and lowering himself to the most uncultivated minds, than is exhibited by the publication of these two Catechisms.

In the same year, Luther accompanied Melanc- Luther's thon's Commentary on the Epistle to the Colossians, fnu,jjfeiTMc_ with a memorable eulogium on the author; in thou, •which he frankly declared, that he preferred the

Chap, works of Melancthon to his own, and was more . xv lI- , desirous that they should be read than any thin? which he himself had composed. " I," says he, " am born to be a rough controversialist; I clothe ground, pull up weeds, fill up ditches, aci smooth the roads. But to build, to plant, to sow. to water, to adorn the country, belongs, by the grace of God, to Melancthon."

It was a singular felicity of the infant Church c Saxony, that its two great luminaries, exceedingly diverse as they were in temper and in gifts, shouii have been constantly united in the bonds of a strk: affection, which never seems to have admitted the least degree of envy or jealousy. Such is the ligb: in which these two worthies are transmitted to poi terity;—an incontestable pairof disinterested friends, whose sole object of contention was to excel each other in proofs of mutual regard! Luti er's 2. It was in the low and desponding state of the ^t'cMhe Protestant party,—for example, after such a lamenDfct. table defeat as they had suffered at the Diet of Augsburg, that the spirit and character of Luther was calculated to shine forth with peculiar lustre, and in its true and genuine colours. By his unwearied vigilance in superintending the reformed Churches, and by his incessant attacks on the ecclesiastical corruptions and abuses, he had shown, to demonstration, that great and continued successes had in no degree disposed him to be remiss; and he now stood forward to prove, that notwithstanding the late untoward events and the magnitude of the impending danger, he was neither depressed by a reverse of circumstances, nor intimidated by the menaces of an arm of flesh, nor worn out by the length and obstinacy of the contention. In effect, this champion of Evangelical truth always looked on the conflict in which he was engaged, as the proper concern of Almighty God, and on him

self as a mere instrument in the righteous cause. His mind, deeply impressed with this conviction, remained serene and cheerful, and as vigorous as ever, for new attacks on Antichrist, and for new combats with his unblushing advocates. He exhorted the princes never to abandon the great truths they had undertaken to support; and at the same time he comforted his dejected friends, and employed much time in private prayer. At no period of his life was the weight and influence of Martin Luther more conspicuous than in 1530, when the religious differences seemed tending to an awful crisis. His fortitude was invincible; his zeal courageous and disinterested; and happily they both were tempered by an extraordinary degree of rational and fervent piety *.

* One of Melancthon's correspondents describes Luther thus: " I cannot enough admire the extraordinary cheerfulness, constancy, faith and hope of this man, in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feels these good affections by a very diligent study of the Word of God. Then, not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer at least three of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious God ! What spirit and what faith there is in his expressions I He petitions God with as much reverence as if he was actually in the Divine Presence; and ytt with as firm a hope and confidence, as he would address a Father or a friend. ' I know,' said he, ' thou art our father and our God : therefore I am sure thou wilt bring to nought the persecutors of thy children. For shouldest thou fail to do this, thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely thine own concern : We, by thy Providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou therefore wilt be our defence !'

" While I was listening to Luther praying in this manner at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, and yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him in the course of his prayer insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he was sure his petitions would be granted." Coelest- I. 275. Com. de Luth. LXIX. 3.

The Papal historian, Maimbourg, is so well convinced of Luther's great influence about the year 1530, that he breaks out in a rage, in the following manner. " 1 will speak freely what I think. Charles V. was to blame that he did not orde* Luther to be seized, when he talked so audaciously before him at Worms. However, he may be excused on account of the Safe Conduct he had granted him. But at Augsburg he ought to have compelled the elector of Saxony to give him up to justice, and no longer to protect a rebel, who was then proscribed by an Imperial edict, and Yet continued writing insolent tracts against the Emperor himself. It was this neglect on the part of Charles, which defeated all his endeavours to produce an agreement between the parties." Maimb. p. 180.

California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice