« VorigeDoorgaan »
tyranny they felt without daring sus Christ. It reached into to complain, reprehended and re- places where the name of Luther pressed, roused the indignation, was unknown, carried salvation not only of the bishops, but of all into the meanest dwellings, spake the nobilitywho had any interest in the truth to kings and princes ; ecclesiastical benefices. * Much and testified to all to whom it injury was also, about this time, came, that a general reformation done, by the licentiousness of ma- was more necessary than ever. ny of the monks, who had embrac- Emser wrote a criticism on it, ed Luther's doctrine respecting and began another version which vows, not from conviction, but as was not printed till 1527 ; but he a cloak for their sins. Luther, discovered such ignorance both to discountenance this threaten- of the original Greek, and of his ing evil, composed a second own language, that Luther, occuwork on monastic vows, in which pied with more important affairs, he denounced the licentious as resolved to oppose him only with well as the lazy monks as ene- silence and contempt. In conmies of the cross of Christ, and a sequence, however, of Emser's disgrace to the religion which misrepresentations, several of the they professed.
princes of the Empire, particuBut the translation of the Bi- larly the Archduke of Austria, ble into German, which Lu- the Duke of Bavaria, George ther had begun, during his con
Duke of Saxony, Henry of Brunscealment in the castle
of Wart- wick, and some time afterwards, burg, the first part of which, con- the Elector of Brandenburg, ori taining the New Testament, was
dered Luther's translation to be published in Sept. 1522, gave a suppressed, and all the copies blow to the interests of Rome far that could be got committed to more decisive and fatal than any the fames. The reformer, with which it had yet received. He his usual boldness, and with even revised it with the assistance of more than his usual virulence, Melancthon ; and, on finishing attacked these imprudent prinit, immediately commenced a ces, in a treatise, On the Secular version of the Old Testament, in Power ; which established the which he was assisted by Justus authority of magistra:es on the Jonas; and several other of his foundation of Scripture, and the learned friends. It instantly conditions of men ; lut denied spread throughout the whole of the lawfulness of tie power Germany. The elegance of the which they usurped over the faith style recommended it to the well and conscience of their subjects; informed ; and its cheapness to and exhorted the inhibitants of the lower orders of the people. Bavaria, Misnia, and BrandenThose who had favoured the re- burgh, not to destroy the Scripformation, saw, in its truths, the tures ; though, at the ame time, authority of God, and from being he commanded them not to asthe adherents of Luther, were sault the officers who might be led to become the disciples of Je- appointed to search for them.
His sentiments respecting per-
Sechendorf, § 125, 121,
secution deserve to be recorded. in which they had for ages been " Heresies ought to be resisted involved. But Henry, having earDot with fire or sword, but with ly imbibed the principles of Pope the word of God. If this does ry, and viewing Luther as the ennot remove them, in vain will vi- emy of all who supported these olence be resorted to. The earth principles, determined not only to may be deluged with blood; but exert all his influence to check heresy, being an error of the the progress of his opinions, but mind, can be destroyed neither to refute them with all the acuteby fire nor by water; nay, it is ness which he possessed. He increased by every sort of resist- accordingly wrote a Latin treatise ance, except by the Scripture. in defence of the seven sacra. The tongue may be restrained, ments, against Luther's work, On men may be forced to be silent, to the Babylonish Captivity of the dissemble, or to lie; but heresy, Church ; “ a performance,” says residing in the heart, can be ex- Hume, “which, if allowance be pelled only by the influence of made for the subject and the age, the word of God, enlightening does no discredit to his capacity, the understanding, and persuad- He sent a copy of it to Leo, who ing the judgment."
received so magnificent a present The light of reformation had with great testimony of regard, dawned on the British isle as ear- and conferred on him the title ly as the middle of the 14th cen- of Defender of the Faith." tury, when Wickliffe stood forth Though Luther believed this to as the champion of divine truth be the work of Edward Lee, afand spiritual liberty, against the terwards Archbishop of Cantererrors and tyranny of Rome ; bury, he replied as if it had been and though it became gradually Henry's own composition, and obscured, and was almost entire- treated him with such indig. ly extinguished when the 8th nity, and used respecting him so Henry ascended the throne, ma- many opprobrious and contemptny individuals throughout the uous expressions, as to shock country were waiting for the even his best friends.
Nor was consolation of Israel. The cler: this the effect of a momentary sy had nerer obtained the same burst of passion ; for, in his corinfluence and respect which they respondence at this period, he enjoyed, previous to Wickliffe's justified his conduct in the appearance and the people were inost expressive terms. Nay, in ready to embrace a change of the answer itself, he vindicated religion, whenever it should be the extraordinary severity of his presented. The astonishing rev- language, by saying, “ If, for the olution of sentiments which was sake of Christ, I have trampled so rapidly pervading the provin- under foot that Idol of Romisha ces of Germany, accordingly abomination, which had usurped made a deep impression in Enge the place of God, and tyrannized land ; andled multitudes to im- over kings and the whole world ; bibe the doctrines which Luther who is this Henry a new Thomhad elicitd from the dar ess ist, or at least a disciple of tha
. Seckend S 127, p. 212.
Hist. of England, Chap. 29.
trifling monster, that I should pay homage to his virulent blasphemies? He may be a defender of the church, but it is of a church, the mother of harlots, of drunken ness and fornication. I having an equal abhorrence of the church and her defender, will attack them with the same weapons. My doctrines will stand, but the Pope will fall, though the gates of hell, and the powers of air and earth and sea were against me. They provoked me to war, and they shall have it; they despised peace when offered them, and they shall not now obtain it. God shall see whether the Pope or Luther will be the first to yield." George Duke of Saxony, irritated at this treatise, solicited the Elector to have Luther immediately punished; but this prince declined interfering, and proposed the convocation of a free council.t
Leo X. died in the beginning of Dec. 1521, and was succeeded by Adrian VI., originally of an obscure family of Utrecht, a man of scholastic erudition, and unpolished manners, but of a mild temper, and irreproachable morals. When he arrived at Rome, from Spain, where he was at the time of his election, he immediately applied himself to establish the peace of the church. But the measures which he adopted, though salutary in themselves, ultimately defeated the end proposed by them. Luther's opinions appeared to him so extravagant, that he could not persuade himself but they were occasioned by the abuses and extor
tion of the papal court. He therefore resolved to reform these abuses, expecting that their removal would bring back the people to the bosom of that church whence they had been driven by the vices of its governors. He accordingly repealed the order which had been issued for the preaching of indulgences to defray the expense of completing the Vatican; but, at the same time, gave authority, by a new bull, to the doctrine of the church concerning that nefarious traffic. His sentiments on many points differed essentially from those of his cardinals, who warned him so strongly of the danger with which his proposed reformation would be followed, that he was heard to say, that "the condition of a Pope is the most unhappy that can be conceived, because he is not at liberty to do what is right, though he has the inclination, and can find the means." He then imagined that his presence and authority might have the effect of quieting the commotions of Germany; and to prepare the minds of the disputants for his visit, he wrote to Frederic, then attending the diet of the Empire met at Nuremberg, exhorting him,in general terms, to exert all his influence to preserve the safety, tranquillity, and holy faith of the church, without so much as mentioning Luther's name or heresy. But the brief which he sent to the diet by a nuncio, amply compen sated for this political neglect, and made such an impression on the bishops, that they almost unanimously exclaimed that Luther must perish. The secular princes, however, discovered greater moderation, and were soon imitated by many of the
clergy, who felt enraged at the insinuations, which were thrown out against them in the letter of instructions from the Pope, read by the nuncio next day. While he called on the assembly to put the edict of Worms in execution against Luther, he accused the prelates and the priests of occasioning the heresies of that reformer, by their negligence, voluptuousness and profligacy. Though, therefore, the Elector of Brandenburg and the greater number of prelates wished to assure the Pope that they would execute the edict of Worms, the other princes and the rest of the clergy opposed it as dangerous not only to Rome, but to the interests of the Empire. They accordingly They accordingly informed the nuncio that the state of Germany would not allow of the step which the Pope recommended to be taken; praised the Pontiff for the interest which he took in their welfare, and besought him to continue his plans for the reformation of flagrant abuses. Though the nuncio was highly displeased at the tenor of their reply, the princes persisted in the sentiments which they had avowed; and to justify their conduct drew up a memorial of grievances, amounting to a hundred articles of specific charges against the corruptions of the church, which they earnestly entreated might be speedily redressed. The nuncio, unwilling to receive such an insult as to be charged with this memorial, left the diet suddenly without taking leave of the princes. This step gave them the highest offence,
and convinced them that it was in vain to expect redress from Rome. It also contributed to the vigorous protest which they entered against determining on the merits of the Lutheran controversy, till the meeting of a general council. The diet was dissolved on the 6th of March, 1523.* The event of this assembly was thus most favourable to the cause of the reformation. Preachers were permitted to declare the truth, without molestation, and magistrates to protect them without criminality. Priests and monks, though married, continued in their offices; and the people who had seen the scandalous effects of their celibacy, were edified by witnessing the regularity and purity of their conduct. The suspension of the edict of Worms, made its injustice be discerned; and the reference of the controversy to the decision of a council, showed that the diet were not convinced that Luther was altogether in the wrong, and that his greatest heresy, was his attack on the authority of the Pope. In fine, the acknowledgment which which Adrian made of the dreadful corruptions of the clergy and court of Rome, justified much of Luther's invectives against them, and gained him many new adherents, who could not but admire his courage and his zeal.†
• Beausobre, tom. ii. p. 273.-320Seckend. § 140–147.
† Beausob. ib. p. 322.
(To be continued.)
DIFFICULTIES ATTENDING THE DOCTRINE OF THE SAINTS'
To the Editors.
PRESUMING that it is not less congenial with your inclinations, than consistent with the design of your publication, to offer every assistance in your power to those, who meet with obstacles in their search after truth, I take the liberty to lay before you a number of difficulties, with respect to the doctrine of the saints' perseverance, resulting from what I suppose to be the meaning of certain passages of Scripture. I shall enter no farther into the arguments, which may be drawn from the several texts, than is necessary in order to present a full view of the difficulty, as it appears to my own apprehension.
John xv. 2, our Saviour says, "Every branch in me, that bear eth not fruit, he," that is, my Father, "taketh away." This text certainly seems, to my understanding, to convey this idea; that branches engrafted into the true vine, may become unfruitful; and thus render it necessary for the Lord of the vineyard to prune them off, and use them for fuel. If this explication be just, it only remains, in order to ascertain the sense of the passage, to determine the meaning of the phrase, in me, and discover what sort of union it is designed to express. It may be said, that it means nothing more than a visible relation, such as the mere external profession
Christianity indicates. But is not this explanation inconsistent with what follows?" Abide in me," saith our Saviour, verse 4," and I will abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Is not the whole complexion of this passage such as would naturally lead one to suppose, that the union, here intended, was that spiritual, vital union, of which true faith, and holiness form the only cement? Let us suppose that a mere visible relation is intended, and see what sort of notions the words will conyey. Ye are pure through the word, which I have spoken unto you. Continue in your visible union with me, and I will continue to dwell in you. Would this promise have been made to such a perseverance? As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye continue in your external relation to me. Does not such an interpretation enervate the figure, and diminish exceedingly the propriety of its application? The relation between the vine and the branches is beautifully illustrative of the relation between Christ and believers; but not at all of that which subsists between Christ and those members of his visible church, who derive no spiritual nourishment from him, and sustain no vital relation to him. Besides, it is expressly said, in the next verse, that he, that ABIDETH in Christ, bringeth forth much. fruit; which cannot be true, if a