תמונות בעמוד

learning and uncommon sagacity were accompanied with the most heroic intrepidity and resolution. It must even be acknowledged, that this eminent man had perceived some rays of the truth before Luther came to an open rupture with the church of Rome. He was however after'ward still farther animated by the example, and instructed by the writings of the Saxon reformer; and thus his zeal for the good cause acquired new strength and vigour. For he not only explained the sacred writings in his public discourses to the people,' but also gave, in the year 1519, a signal proof of his courage, by opposing, with the greatest resolution and success, the ministry of a certain Italian monk, whose name was Samson, and who was carrying , on, in Switzerland, the impious traffic of indulgences with the same impudence that Tetzel had done in Germany." This was the first remarkable event that prepared the way for the reformation among the Helvetic cantons. In process of time, Zuingle pursued with steadiness and resolution the design that he had begun with such courage and success. His noble efforts were seconded by some other learned men, educated in Germany, who became his col

composed by a prudent, impartial, and well-informed biographer, as also a complete collection of his Works, would be an inestimable present to the republic of letters.

m i The translator has added to the portrait of Zuingle, the quality of heroic intrepidily, because it was a predominant and remarkable part of the character of this illustrious reformer, whose learning and fortitude, tempered by the greatest moderation, rendered him perhaps beyond comparison the brightest ornament of the Protestant cause.

k Our learned bistorian does not seem to acknowledge this with pleasure, as the Germans and Swiss contend about the honour of having given the first overtures toward the reformation. If however truth has obliged him to make this acknowledgment, he has accompanied it with some modifications, that are more artsul than accurate. He says, " that Zuingle had perceived some rays of the truth before Luther had come to an open rupture," &c. to make us imagine that Luther might have seen the truth long before that rupture happened, and consequently as soon as Zuingle. But it was well known, that the latter, from his early years had been shocked at several of the superstitious practices of the church of Rome; that so early as the year 1516, * he had begun to explain the Scriptures to the people, and to censure, though with great prudence and moderation, the errors of a corrupt church ; and that he had very noble and extensive ideas of a general reformation, at the very time that Luther retained almost the whole system of popery, indulgences excepted. Luther proceeded very slowly to that exemption from the prejudices of education, which Zuingle, by the force of an adventurous genius, and an uncommon degree of knowledge and penetration, easily got rid of.

Ir I This again is inaccurate. It appears from the preceding note, and from the most authentic records of history, that Zuingle had explained the Scriptures to the people, and called in question the authority and supremacy of the pope, before the name of Luther was known in Switzerland. Beside, instead of receiving instruction from the German reformer, he was much his superior in learning, capacity, and judgment, and was inuch fitter to be his master than his disciple, as the four volumes, in folio, we have of his works, abundantly testify.

in See Jo. Henr. Hottingeri Hist. Eccles. Helvet. tom. ii. lib. vi. p. 28. Ruchat. Histoire de la Reformation en Suisse, tom. i, livr. i. p. 4–66. Gerdes, Histor. Renovati Evangelä, tom. ii. p. 228.

* Ruchart, Hist. de la Reformation en Suisse. Zuinglii opp. tom. i. p. 7. Nouveau Diction. vol. iy. p. 866. Durand, Hist. du xyi. Siecle, tom. ii. p. 8, &c. Jurieu, Apologie pour les Reformateurs, &c. partie I. p. 119.

leagues and the companions of his labours, and who jointly with him succeeded so far in removing the credulity of a deluded people, that the pope's supremacy was rejected and denied in the greatest part of Switzerland. It is indeed to be observed, that Zuingle did not always use the same methods of conversion that were employed by Luther; nor, upon particular occasions, did he discountenance the use of violent measures against such as adhered with obstinacy to the superstitions of their ancestors. He is also said to have attributed to the civil magistrate, such an extensive power in ecclesiastical affairs, as is quite inconsistent with the essence and genius of religion. But upon the whole even envy itself must acknowledge, that his intentions were upright, and his designs worthy of the highest approbation. XIII. In the mean time, the religious dissensions in Ger

ex. many increased, instead of diminishing. For while calma tihe Miltitz was treating with Luther in Saxony, in pope, in 1520. such a mild and prudent manner as offered the fairest prospect of an approaching accommodation, Eckius, inflamed with resentment and fury on account of his defeat at Leipsic, repaired with the utmost precipitation to Rome, to accomplish, as he imagined, the ruin of Luther. There, entering into a league with the Dominicans, who were in high credit at the papal court, and more especially with their two zealous patrons, De Prierio and Cajetan, he earnestly entreated Leo X. to level the thunder of his anathemas at the head of Luther, and to exclude him from the communion of the church. The Dominicans, desirous of revenging the affront that, in their opinion, their whole order had received by Luther's treatment of their brother Tetzel, and their patron Cajetan, seconded the furious efforts of Eckius against the Saxon reformer, and used their utmost endeavours to have his request granted. The pontiff, overcome by the importunity of these pernicious counsellors, imprudently issued" out a bull against Luther, dated the 15th of June, 1520, in which forty-one pretended heresies, extracted from his writings, were solemnly condemned, his writings ordered to be publicly burnt, and in which he was again summoned, on pain of excommunication, to confess and retract his pretended errors within the space of sixty days, and to cast himself upon the clemency and mercy of the pontiff.

Luther is ex

n The wisest and best part of the Roman catholics acknowledge, that Leo X. was chargeable with the most culpable imprudence in this rash and violent method of proceeding. See a dissertation of the learned John Frederic Mayer, De Pontificiis Leonis X. processum adversas Lutherum improbantibus, which is part of a work he published at Hamburg, in 4to. in the year 1693, under this singular title; Ecclesia Romana Reformationis Lutherance patrona et cliens. There were several wise and thinking persons at this time about the Roman pontiff, who declared openly, without the least ceremony, their disapprobation of the violent counsels of Eckius and the Dominicans ; and gave it as their opinion, that it was both prudent and just to wait for the issue of the conference of Miltitz with Luther, before such forcible measures were em. ployed.

Xiv. Aš soon as the account of this rash sentence, pronounced from the papal chair, was brought to Luther wiltLuther, he thought it was, high time to consult from becselt both his present defence and his future security; and the first step he took for this purpose, was the Rome. renewal of his appeal from the sentence of the Roman pontiff, to the more respectable decision of a general council. But as he foresaw that this appeal would be treated with contempt at the court of Rome, and that when the time prescribed for his recantation was elapsed, the thunder of excommunication would be levelled at his devoted head, he judged it prudent to withdraw himself voluntarily from the communion of the church of Rome, be. fore he was obliged to leave it by force; and thus to render this new bull of ejection a blow in the air, an exercise of authority without any object to act upon. At the same time he was resolved to execute this wise resolution in a public manner, that his voluntary retreat from the communion of a corrupt and superstitious church might be universally known, before the lordly pontiff had prepared his ghostly thunder. With this view, on the 10th of December, in the year 1520, he had a pile of wood erected without the walls of the city,' and there, in presence of a prodigious number of people of all ranks and orders, he committed to the flames both the bull that had been published against him, and the decretals and canons relating to the pope's supreme jurisdiction. By this he declared to the world, that he was no longer a subject of the Roman pontiff; and that, of consequence, the sentence of excommunication against him, which was daily expected from Rome, was entirely superfluous and insignificant. For the man that publicly commits to the flames the code that contains the laws of his sovereign, shows thereby that he has no longer any respect for his government, nor any design

draws bimself

munion of the cburch of

o Of Wittemberg


to submit to his authority; and the man who voluntarily withdraws himself from any society, cannot, with any appearance of reason or common sense, be afterward forcibly and authoritatively excluded from it. It is not improbable, that Luther was directed, in this critical measure, by persons well skilled in the law, who are generally dexterous in furnishing a perplexed client with nice distinctions and plausible evasions. Be that as it may, he separated himself only from the church of Rome, which considers the pope as infallible, and not from the church, considered in a more extensive sense: for he submitted to the decision of the universal church, when that decision should be given in a general council lawfully assembled. When this judicious distinction is considered, it will not appear at all surprising, that many, even of the Roman catholics, who weighed matters with a certain degree of impartiality and wisdom, and were zealous for the maintenance of the liberties of Germany, justified this bold resolution of Luther.° In less than a month after this noble and important step had been taken by the Saxon reformer, a second bull was issued out against him, on the 6th of January, 1521, by which he was expelled from the communion of the church, for having insulted the majesty, and disowned the supremacy of the Roman pontiff. XV. Such iniquitous laws, enacted against the person and

doctrine of Luther, produced an effect different The rise from what was expected by the imperious pontiff. church. Instead of intimidating this bold reformer, they led him to form the project of founding a church upon principles entirely opposite to those of Rome, and to establish in it a system of doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline, agreeable to the spirit and precepts of the gospel of truth. This indeed was the only resource Luther had left him ; for to submit to the orders of a cruel and insolent enemy, would have been the greatest degree of impru

doctrine cous laws, ethe Romaved the mai

The rise of the Lutheran

Po This judicious distinction has not been sufficiently attended to, and the Romanists, some torough artifice, others through ignorance, have confounded the papacy with the catholic church; though they be, in reality, two different things. The papacy indeed, by the ambitious dexterity of the Roman pontiffs, incorporated itself by degrees into the church; but it was a preposterous supplement, and was really as foreign to its genuine constitution, as a new citadel erected, by a successful usurper, would be to an ancient city. Luther set out and acted upon this distinction; he went out of the citadel, but he meant to remain in the city, and, like a good patriot, designed to reform its corrupted government.

p Both these bulls are to be found in the Bullarium Romanum, and also in the learned Praft's Histor. Theol. Literar. tom. ij. p. 42.

dence imaginable; and to embrace anew errors that he had rejected with a just indignation, and exposed with the clearest evidence, would have discovered a want of integri. ty and principle worthy only of the most abandoned profligate. From this time therefore, he applied himself to the pursuit of the truth with still more assiduity and fervour than he had formerly done; nor did he only review with attention, and confirm by new arguments, what he had hitherto taught, but went much beyond it, and made vigorous attacks upon the main strong hold of popery, the power and jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff, which he overturned from its very foundation. In this noble undertaking he was seconded by many learned and pious men in various parts of Europe ; by those of the professors of the academy of Wittemberg, who had adopted his principles; and in a more especial manner by the celebrated Melancthon. And as the fame of Luther's wisdom and Melancthon's learning had filled that academy with an incredible number of students, who flocked to it from all parts, this happy circumstance propagated the principles of the reformation with an amazing rapidity through all the countries of Europe.9

XVI. Not long after the commencement of these divi. sions, Maximilian I. had departed this life, and A diet ashis grandson, Charles V. king of Spain, had succeeded him in the empire, in the year 1519, Leo 1521. X. seized this new occasion of venting and executing his vengeance, by putting the new emperor in mind of his character as advocate and defender of the church, and demanding the exemplary punishment of Luther, who had rebelled against its sacred laws and institutions. On the other hand, Frederic the Wise employed his credit with Charles to prevent the publication of any unjust edict against this reformer, and to have his cause tried by the canons of the Germanic church, and the laws of the empire. This request was so much the more likely to be granted, that Charles was under much greater obligations to Frederic, than to any other of the German princes, as it was chiefly by his zealous and important services that he had been raised to the empire, in opposition to the pre

sembled at Worms in

9 There is a particular account of the rapid progress of the reformation in Germany given by the learned M. Daniel Gerdes, professor at Groningen, in his Historia renovati Evangelii, tom. ïi.

« הקודםהמשך »