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well as in Helvetia ; they prevailed also among the Pictestants in France and the Low Countries, and were embraced by the churches of the British Isles. Hence, of the two branches of the Protestant faith, that which put forth first became at length by far the least flourishing; and Lutheranism, which was in fact the plant, as it first shot up, as if blighted and checked in its growth by the unkindly error of consubstantiation, soon dwindled in importance, and the Helvetian branch became the leading shoot, and seemed to draw to itself all the sap and nourishment of the tree, for its own future growth and increase.
TIE RECEPTION OF LUTHERANISM IN
At the time of the Reformation, the papal superstition seemed to be no where more firmly rooted than in Sweden and Denmark. The Romish hierarchy had swallowed up the wealth of these kingdoms; and while the ancient nobility were reduced to comparative poverty, the bishops possessed revenues which sometimes equalled or exceeded those of the sovereigns, and held in their hands castles and fortresses which often set the power of the crown at defiance. This overgrown wealth had the usual effect, in corrupting the manners of the clergy, and had thereby greatly undermined the credit of their superstition, before the fabric of their power was attacked and laid prostrate by the reforming spirit. In both these countries this revolution was accomplished chiefly under the patronage of the state, by two monarchs of very different characters; that in Sweden by the truly patriot king Gustavus Vasa, and that in Denmark by the cruel tyrant Christiern II.
Christiern having invaded Sweden and usurped the crown, Gustavus with difficulty escaped from his murderous hands, and sought refuge in Germany. During his sojourn there, he learned and embraced the principles of Luther; and after he had assisted in the deliverance of his country, and had been elevated to the throne, he very wisely and strenuously exerted himself for the establishment of Lutheranism in his own dominions. Olaus Petri and his brother Laurentius, who had -studied under Luther at Wittemberg, were the first preachers of the Reformation in Sweden. Under the royal patronage, and
assisted by another Lawrence, surnamed Andreas, they achieved the all-important measure of translating the Scriptures into the vulgar tongue. Gustavus proceeded with admirable fairness At the same time that he ordered the publication of the Lutheran version, he permitted the archbishop of Upsal, on the part of the Roman catholics, to publish their own translation of the sacred writings. He also checked with the strong arm of power the riotous proceedings of the Anabaptists, who had pursued into Sweden the track of the preachers of the Gospel.
In the year 1527, at an assembly of the states at Westeraas, Gustavus completed the work of reformation. He there publicly declared, on the opposition of the ecclesiastics, “ that he would lay down his sceptre, and retire from his kingdom, rather than rule a people enslaved to the orders and authority of the pope, and more controlled by the tyranny of their bishops, than by the laws of their monarchs.” The king's will entirely prevailed. The hierarchy was reduced to a very low level, and deprived of the greater part of its wealth and power. No ecclesiastical preferments were to be disposed of without mission of the crown. The Reformation was now introduced into Sweden without much further contest; Laurentius Petri was appointed by the king to the archbishopric of Upsal, and Sweden became a Protestant state.
The odious tyrant Christiern II. had pursued similar methods in Denmark; not for the love of truth, or to extend the religious privileges of his people, but in order to seize on the rich spoil of the church's wealth, and to enlarge the powers of his crown. In the year 1520, he sent for Martin Reinhard out of Saxony, and appointed him professor of divinity at Hafnia; and after his death, he invited Carolstad to succeed him. The violence and cruelty of Christiern, however, soon united the Danes against him ; he was deposed and driven from the kingdom in 1523, and Frederick, duke of Holstein, was raised to the throne. This prince equally favoured the Reformation, and conducted his measures with more equity, prudence, and moderation. At the assembly of the states, held at Odensee, in 1527, he procured an edict, which declared every subject of Denmark free either to adhere to the tenets of the church of Rome, or to embrace the doctrines of Luther. This, in the state of the public mind, was all that was necessary to introduce the Reformation into Denmark. Christiern III., who succeeded Frederic, proceeded further to lower the power and wealth of the hierarchy. He sent for Bugenhagius from Wittemberg,
and, according to plans suggested by him, made a new settlement of the ecclesiastical state throughout the kingdom, and a solemn sanction was given to these proceedings, at an assembly of the estates at Odensee, in the year 1539. Thus, protestantism became firmly established in Denmark. But the subsequent commotions, excited by the prelates hostile to the reformation, caused a still further reduction of the episcopal office, till the name and authority were almost lost in the appointment of the Protestant superintendents.
THE PROGRESS OF
THE REFORMERS OF THE HELVETIAN
The Reformation in Switzerland, as we have seen, began under Zuinglius, very soon after Luther appeared in Germany; and its progress in the former country seemed to keep pace with the advance of Luther and his followers. Germany, indeed, exhibited the chief scene of contest between Rome and the revolters from its spiritual tyranny; but the reformers in Switzerland made an important diversion in favour of the latter, and the Helvetians reaped abundantly the fruits of their victories.
At the conference of Marpurg, the difference between Luther and his followers, on the one hand, and Zuinglius and his friends, on the other, on the subject of the presence in the Lord's supper, was manifested to be irreconcilable. Luther on that occasion would admit of no compromise, nor would he make the slightest concession respecting the doctrine of consubstantiation. The Helvetian divines were far from being agreed among themselves as to the precise notion they would attach to the sacred rite; but none of them could consent to receive Luther's strange dogma, and they were necessarily thrown into a new community of reformers, distinct from the Lutherans, and beheld by them with no small degree of prejudice and bigotry. At the side of Zuinglius, at Marpurg, appeared (Ecolampadius and Bucer; and from the same community arose afterwards Peter Martyr, Bullinger, Myconius, and many others, and more especially the celebrated John Calvin. Particular circumstances occasioned the name of the latter to be given to all the churches of the Helvetian or reformed confession, the term Calvinistic becoming a general appellation for them all, in distinction from the Lutheran churches. And also at a still later period, down even to our own times, as if
the remembrance of Luther's doctrines had been obliterated by the departure of his followers from that standard, the same term. Calvinistic' has been applied to that scheme of doctrine, which Luther and the greater part of the first reformers held in common, and publicly maintained against their Roman Catholic adversaries. The advocates who appeared for the Romish church in this age, were almost all of them Pelagians or Semi-pelagians on the doctrines of grace, as appears evident in all their controversies with Luther and the subsequent reformers. Some few there were, still remaining among the Papists, who, as the disciples of Augustin, coincided with the reformers on the doctrines of grace and election. Between these and the reformers the great fundamental distinction in doctrine was, that the Augustinians held salvation by inherent righteousness,'— by grace as an infused quality ; while the Protestants maintained justification through faith alone in the merits of Christ; and by grace, in its primitive signification, the gratuitous favour and mercy of God.
We cannot better trace the foundation and increase of the reformed church, than by attending to the labours and successes of its early teachers. Zuinglius, we have seen, was established in the principal church of Zurich, the chief town of the Swiss Canton of that name. Here his opinions finally prevailed. Besides his seeming to reduce the Lord's supper to a mere memorial and nothing more, he attacked the whole fabric of the ecclesiastical government; and not content with removing the corruptions of later ages, appeared to pay no regard whatever to the most ancient institutions of the Christian Church, and almost surrendered every exercise of spiritual authority into the hands of the civil magistrate.
Notwithstanding the remonstrance of the emperor, and the opposition of the bishops of Constance, Basil, Lausanne, and Sion, and of eight of the Swiss cantons, the reformation under Zuinglius and his coadjutors gained ground in many places. In 1528, he assisted at a general assembly at Bern, where the doctrines of the Roman church were condemned. The example was followed by the Cantons of Basil and Schaffhausen. After a considerable contention between the Cantons, it was determined that there should be liberty of conscience throughout Switzerland.” In the same year, however, that the league of Smalkalde was formed by the German Protestants, 1531, a civil war broke out between the five Catholic Cantons, and those of Zurich and Bern. The Protestants were defeated in their own country, and Zuiglius, who accompanied the army -- it is said, according to the custom of Zurich — was killed in the action. He is reported to have exclaimed when falling, “ They can only kill the body." His body having been found among the slain, was insulted and burnt to ashes by the Papists. The report of the death of Zuinglius is said to have heightened the disorder, and hastened the end of his friend Ecolampadius, who had assisted him in all his labours in the cause of reformation, and had exercised the last years of his ministry chiefly in Basil and its neighbourhood. On his deathbed, asking a friendly visiter, “What news ?” and receiving in reply, “ None,” he said, “ I will tell you news. In a short time I shall be with Christ my Lord;” and laying his hand upon his breast, he said, “ Here is abundance of light.
The Roman catholics rejoiced greatly on the death of these two reformers, and concluded that with them the interests of the reformation would fall in Switzerland”. They were, however, much mistaken ; the cause still flourished at Zurich under Bullinger, the successor of Zuinglius, and at Basil, under Myconius, who followed (Ecolampadius ; as it did also, in many other parts, under the surviving contemporaries of the deceased pastors.
Among these, Martin Bucer must be mentioned as eminent for his abilities and success. At a very early period of Luther's public career, he had become acquainted with that reformer, and had embraced his views. It was at a time, however, respecting which Luther afterwards had occasion to reflect : “ I was ignorant of many things, which, by the grace of God, I now understand.” So Bucer remarks on his progress in divine knowledge : “ It disturbs some, because they make no doubt that many will take offence that I seem not very consistent with myself, because the Lord has given me to understand some places more fully than I formerly did, which, as it is so bountifully given to me, why should I not impart liberally to my brethren, and ingenuously declare the goodness of the Lord ? What inconsisteney is there in profiting in the work of salvation? Or who, in this age, or in the last, has treated of the Scripture, and has not experienced that, even in this study, one day is the scholar of another?"
We find Bucer among the reformed preachers at Strasburgh, who, in 1524, publicly renounced popery. In the sacramentarian controversy, Bucer could not accede to Luther's doctrine of consubstantiation, which threw him among the Helvetian divines,
1 Father Paul.
? Preface to Commentaries on the Gospel.