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neither find the form nor spirit of the gospel. He saw and felt the necessity of a Church in which the Papal dominion, the injunction of celibacy in the clergy, the monastic vow, the intercession of saints, auricular confession, pilgrimage and penances, and the imaginary existence of purgatory, should find no place; and in which the true doctrine of justification and acceptance with God should be properly received and applied, and gospel discipline be duly administered. In his various schemes of reformation, he was warmly seconded by the members and professors of his own university, and by many pious and learned men scattered throughout Europe. But in the beginning of the year 1521, he was summoned to appear at the Diet of Worms.
This diet was the general assembly of the German Empire, composed of all its princes, archbishops, and bishops, and many abbots, and convened by Charles V. for the purpose of checking the new religious opinions which threatened to destroy the ancient faith of Europe. No sooner was it convened, and certain formalities were settled, than the Papal legates demanded an immediate procedure against Luther. But his friends plead the unreasonableness of condemning a man unheard, and the whole assembly concurred in admitting him to their presence. Frederic, however, would not consent to his appearing without a safe conduct. This the emperor was compelled to grant. His friends, however, were very fearful of his suffering the fate of John Huss, and, on his way, besought him to retire to some place of safety. But, said the intrepid reformer, “I am lawfully called to appear in that city, and thither will I go in the name of the Lord, though as many devils as there are tiles on the houses were there combined against me.”
At Worms, Luther met with a reception which must have been gratifying to his feelings, though he feared God more than he desired the praise of man. Vast crowds gathered around him to behold the man who had so boldly attacked the corruptions of Popery and introduced a new religion. The most important characters in Church and State filled his apartments, and he was conducted to the Diet by the marshall of the empire. His conduct, in the presence of that august assembly, was very becoming a man of God. He was meek and civil, but firm. When called upon to acknowledge his writings, he did it without hesitation; but he solemnly and boldly refused to renounce his opinions, unless convinced of their error from the Word of God. In a speech of two hours, first made in German, and then repeated in Latin, he boldly vindicated the course he had taken, and gained the applause of one half the assembly. But while the subject was in agitation, and while many efforts were making in private to reclaim the reformer, Luther received a message from the emperor, directing him immediately to depart from Worms and return home, because he persisted in his contumacy and would not return into the bosom of the Church.
After he left the Diet, a decree was passed declaring him an excommunicated, notorious heretic; and forbidding all persons, under the penalty of high treason, to receive, maintain, or protect him.
Foreseeing the storm that was bursting upon his favorite professor, Frederic provided three or four horsemen, disguised in masks, in whom he could confide, and placed them in a wood near Esinach; from whence as he was returning home, they rushed out upon Luther, took him by force and carried him to the castle of Wartburg. There he lay concealed for ten months from the search of his implacable adversaries; and in this retreat, which he called his Patmos, he pursued his studies, and produced some works, particularly a translation of the New Testament, which were highly useful to the cause of the reformation.
The friends of Luther were exceedingly discomfited at his sudden disappearance. They were generally ready to believe that a band of assassins had waylaid and killed him. They had not the courage or ability to do much without him, and were for a period covered with gloom. Luther had friends who communicated to him the knowledge of all that transpired. Here he was told that the University of Paris, the most venerable of the learned societies of Europe, from which he had hoped much favorable to his cause, had passed a solemn censure upon his writings; and that Henry VIII., King of England, had published an answer to a treatise of his, entitled the Babylonish Captivity, and for it had received from the Pope the title of Defender of the Faith. A circumstance, however, which affected him more than either of these, (for Luther was not a man who was to be overawed by monarchs or universities,) was the conduct of his own friend and partizan Carlostadt, who had attempted to carry on the work of reformation by violence; throwing down and breaking the images of saints, and stripping the the Churches and public places of the various" ensigns of Popery. Luther saw that this was no way to reform the Church; that error must first be eradicated from the minds of the people, before any thing could be effected to any good purpose; and that if this was once done, images and relics, -and other superstitions would of course fall.
Safety was valuable, but his own preservation was not what the reformer sought. He felt for the good of the Church, and was anxious again to be engaged in her conflicts. “ I sit here,” said he, in a letter to Melancthon, “ 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.” And again, “ 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 coal, 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.”
The intemperate and misguided zeal of Carlostadt brought Luther from his retreat to Wittemberg, March 1522, without the consent or knowledge of his patron and protector, Frederic. It was a happy event. Carlostadt and his party listened to his, as to a voice from heaven, and order was restored.
Luther's first business was the publication of his New Testament. This struck a heavy blow at the root of Popery. It was rapidly circulated, and read with avidity by all classes throughout Germany; and it opened the eyes of men to the true doctrines of the Gospel, and enabled them at once to see clearly the corruptions of the Church of Rome. He afterwards applied himself, with the assistance of Melancthon, to the translation of the Old Testament, which he finished and published in 1530; a work of amazing labor.
Luther also resumed, at Wittemberg, the business of preaching, in which he did much to enlighten, reform, and quiet the people of Saxony.* By his labors many souls
* A just idea of Luther's preaching may be learned from the following anecdote. “Luther had heard the celebrated Bucer preach a sermon, and inyited him to supper. After commending the sermon, he said he could preach better than Bucer. Bucer courteously assented, saying, that by universal consent, that praise belonged to Luther. Luther then seriously replied, do not think I am vainly boasting; I am conscious of my own alender stores, nor could I preach so learned a sermon as you have done to day; but my practice is this:-when I ascend the pulpit, I consider what is the character of my hearers, most of whom are rude and uninstructed pea
, were converted and many evils were corrected in the Churches.
The friends of the reformation were every where animated and strengthened. Nuremberg, Frankfort, Hamburg, and other free cities of the first rank, openly embraced the principles of the reformer, and abolished the mass, and other rites of Popery. Some high princes also, the elector of Brandenburgh, the dukes of Brunswick and Lunenburg, and prince of Anhalt, declared openly on the side of Luther, and supported his preachers in their dominions. The gospel again was preached with great power; the word of the Lord had free course and was glorified.
Reformation spreads. Death of Leo X. Sacramental controversy. War of the Peas
ants. Death of Frederic. Decision of John. Martyrs. Diet at Spire. Luther marries. Writes, in vain, submissive letters. Publishes his Hymns. An attempt made to poison him. His conflict with Erasmus. Second Diet at Spire. The Reformers condemned, and protest. Called Protestants. Diet at Augsburg. Confession of Augsburg. League of Smallkeld. Peace of Nuremberg. Anabaptists. Reformation in England Conference at Worins. Death of Luther. Council of Trent. Battle of Mukleberg. Interim. Peace of Religion. Reformation in Switzerland. Zuinglius. Calvin. Reformation in Holland and Scotland. John Knox. Sentiments of the Re formers. Church Government. Blessings of the reformation.
The light of the Reformation, like that of the orient sun, soon spread over the various countries of Europe. The followers of Luther had a feeling in relation to Papal Rome, similar to that which filled the breasts of the Apostles, when they looked abroad and saw the whole earth given to idolatry. Their immediate duty was to enlighten man in the knowledge of the truth. Under the influence of this feeling, Olaus Petri propagated the reformed religion in Sweden, soon after Luther's rupture with Rome. The Catholic priests made violent opposition to him, but his efforts were powerfully seconded by the monarch, Gustavus Vasa, who while an exile at Lubec, had learnt something of Lutheranism, and gained a favorable opinion of it as the true gospel. Persuaded that the only way to effect a real reformation, was to enlighten the minds of the people in divine truth, he ordered Andreas, his chancellor, with Qlaus, to translate the ple, almost Goths and Vandals, and I preach to them what I think they can understand. But you rise aloft, and soar into the clouds; so that your sermons suit the learned, but are unintelligible to our plain people. I endea. vor to copy the mother, who thinks the child better fed with the simple milk of the breast, than with the most costly confections."
Scriptures into the Swedish tongue; and to silence the objections of the Papists, he ordered the archbishop of Upsal, also to translate them, that the two versions might be compared, and that it might be seen on which side truth lay. He also ordered a conference at Upsal, between Petri and Gallius, a zealous Papist, in which Petri gained the victory. For a time the situation of Sweden was critical. In no countries had the Catholics reaped greater temporal benefits from their superstitions, than in Sweden and Denmark. The revenues of the bishops were superior to that of the sovereign. They had strong castles and fortresses, and lived in the greatest luxury; while the nobility and people were in the lowest state of degradation. But they could not withstand the noble Gustavus. In 1527, he assembled the states at Westeraas, and after powerfully recommending the doctrine of the reformers, declared that he would lay down his sceptre and retire from the kingdom, if it longer continued subject to the Papal dominion. Opposition was silenced; the Papal empire in Sweden was overturned, and the reformed religion was publicly adopted.
In 1522, Christian II. king of Denmark, a man profligate and ambitious in the extreme, who merely wished to throw off the Papal dominion, that he might subject the bishops and increase his own power, sent to Wittemberg for a preacher of the reformation. Martin Reinard accepted of the invitation, and his labors were greatly blessed. But such were the vices of the king that the reformation was greatly retarded, and it was not until succeeding periods, under Frederic and Christian III. that it was completed.
In Hungary and Prussia, a strong desire was manifested in the same year, to receive the light of the reformation, and even to see and hear Luther himself.
In France, there was a multitude of persons, who with Margaret, queen of Navarre, sister to Francis I., at their head, as early as 1523, felt very favorably inclined towards the reformed religion, and erected several Churches for a purer worship. But the reformed were exceedingly depressed by the strong arm of civil power. The French had a translation of the bible, which had been made in 1224, by Guivers des Moulins, which was printed at Paris in 1487, and now much read; and the Psalms put into metre and sung as ballads.
While Leo X. was suffering the severest mortification of seeing the cause of the reformation advance with rapid steps,