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him in the year 1410, before the tribunal of John XXIII. by whom he was expelled from the communion of the church. He was burnt alive for his heresy by a decree of the Council of Constance, the 6th of July 1415, in violation of a safe conduct which had been granted him by the Emperor Sigismund; which dread punishment, says Mosheim, he endured with unparalleled magnanimity and resignation, expressing in his last moments thé noblest feelings of love to God, and the most triumphant hope of the accomplishment of those transporting promises with which the gospel arms the true Christian at the approach of eternity.”
His enemies made a crown of paper with three devils painted on it, and this inscription, The Arch-heretic ; on seeing which, he exclaimed, “My Lord Jesus, for my sake, wore a crown of thorns, and shall not I, for his sake, wear this crown, be it never so shameful ? "
Jerome of Prague heartily joined Huss, who, by their united endeavours, kindled a light in Bohemia, which all the arts and contrivances of Rome could not extinguish. Jerome was the intimate friend of Huss, and accompanied him to the Council of Constance, with the design of advocating his cause. The same violation of promise of safety took place in his case, as did in that of Huss. When on his trial, he vindicated the conduct of Huss, saying, “ he had done nothing against the church of God, in blaming the abuses of the clergy, the pride of the popes, and the parade of the prelates. As the revenues of the church,” said he, “ are chiefly designed for the support of the poor, for works of hospitality, and for building and repairing of churches, this pious man would not suffer them to be consumed in debaucheries
a Cox's Life of Melancthon, p. 573.
with women, in banquets, in dogs, in horses, in furniture, in superb clothing, and in other expenses unworthy of Christianity.” Being condemned by the Council, walked to the place of punishment with a chearful countenance, and with more intrepidity than any stoic had ever evinced.
When arrived, he put off his garments; and, falling on his knees, kissed the stake to which he was bound. Chained and naked, they bound him at first with wet cords; and then put round him large pieces of wood, intermixed with straw.
As the executioner approached with the fire from behind, in order that he might not see it, “Come forward,' he said with courage, and apply the fire in my presence; if I had feared it, I needed not have come here, as I might easily have avoided it.' The fire having been kindled, he began to sing a hymn, which he never discontinued amidst the flame and smoke," * till he expired, May 30, 1416.
, However, the death of these martyrs was not the extinction of their cause. One circumstance relating to the death of Huss is very remarkable. Turning round to the prelates who were present on that occasion, he expressed himself thus:-“Ye shall answer for this a hun
.66 dred years hence, both to God and me." Some say that he added, “ You roast the goose now, but a swan shall arise, whom ye shall not be able to burn, as you do the poor weak goose.” Now Huss, in the Bohemian language, signifies a goose, as Luther does a swan ; and just a hundred years after, Luther was raised up, who inflicted a deeper wound on the Church of Rome, than ever she had before received. This being exactly a hundred years after, seems to be an accomplishment of the prediction; for Huss suffered martyrdom in the year
a Letter from John Poggio to Leonardo Areting.
1416, and Luther began to be active, as a reformer, in 1516; having received light and encouragement from a book written by Huss, sent by some Bohemians into Germany. Sleiden, in his History of the Reformation, relates how this great and good man began, how he went on with his important work, under the protection and encouragement of Frederick, Duke of Saxony, and others, and what vigorous struggles he had with the pope
and his creatures. This great Saxon reformer was born at Eisleben, in Saxony, in the year 1483. After receiving a liberal education in the schools of Magdeburg and Eisenach, he was sent to the University of Erfurt, where he studied philosophy and the civil law, and commenced Master of Arts, at the age of twenty. Walking one day in the fields with a fellow student, his companion was struck dead with lightning, which so affected Luther, that he determined to retire from the world.
In 1505, he accordingly went into a monastery of the order of St. Augustine, in that place, where he led a pious and studious life.
“ In this University,” says Fox, “ there was a certain aged man in the convent of the Augustines, with whom Luther, being then of the same order, a Friar Augustine, had conference upon divers things, especially touching the article of remission of sins; the which article the aged father opened to Luther after this sort; declaring, that we must not only generally believe forgiveness of sins to be, or to belong to Peter, to Paul, to David, or such good men alone; but that God's express commandment is, that every man should believe his sins particularly to be forgiven him in Christ; and further said, that this interpretation was confirmed by the testimony of St. Bernard, and showed him the place, in the “Sermon
of Annunciation, where it is thus set forth: But add thou that thou believest this, that by him thy sins are forgiven thee.
This is the testimony that the Holy Ghost giveth thee in thy heart, saying, Thy sins are forgiven thee. For this is the opinion of the Apostle, that man is freely justified by faith. By these words Luther was not only strengthened, but was also instructed of the full meaning of St. Paul, who repeateth so many times this sentence, We are justified by faith. And having read the expositions of many upon this place, he then perceived, as well by the purpose of the old man, as by the comfort he received in his spirit, the vanity of those interpretations which he had read before of the school
And so reading, by little and little, with conferring the sayings and examples of the prophets and apostles, and continual invocation of God, and excitation of faith by the force of prayer, he perceived that doctrine most evidently."a Thus we see a remarkable concur, rence of circumstances in operation, to bring Luther to the scriptural and experimental knowledge of the doctrine of the justification of a sinner, through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the assurance of sins forgiven by the direct testimony of the Holy Ghost in the heart of the believer !
About the same time, happening to meet with a Latin version of the Bible in the monastery, he read it with the utmost attention and avidity, and was powerfully struck with the manifest difference between the doctrines of the gospel, and the practice of the Romish Church, In 1507, he was ordained ; and in the next year was called by Staupitz, to the professorship of logic, in the University of Wittemberg. In 1510, he was sent on
a Fox's Actes and Monumentes, ii. pp. 60, 61.
special business to Rome, and after his return was created doctor in divinity; and exchanged the philosophical for the theological chair, of the same university.
In the year 1517, Leo X. published plenary indulgences for all sins committed by those who should
purchase them. These pardons were sold in Germany by the Dominicans, in the most shameful manner, and gave offence to all religious persons, and to Luther in particular, who published a Thesis on Indulgences at Wittemberg, in which he exposed, in the strongest manner, the iniquity of this odious traffic. The propositions of Luther's Thesis were opposed by Tetzel, the papal agent; but the people at large were convinced that the truth was on the side of Luther. The learned and amiable Melancthon, who was a steady friend to the Reformation, says, « Such were the employments of Luther, at the time when those prostitute Indulgences were first proclaimed by that impudent Dominican Tetzel. Burning with the love of every thing that was godly, and irritated by Tetzel's shameful discourses, he published some propositions concerning the nature of indulgences. The Dominican, in return, publicly burnt Luther's propositions, and menaced the heretic himself with the flames. In a word, the outrageous conduct of Tetzel and his associates, absolutely compelled Luther to discuss the subject at length, in support of the cause of truth.” In this manner originated the controversy between the Reformers and the Papists.
In the year 1521, Luther entered on the important work of translating the Bible into German. He published it in parts as he proceeded, and in the year 1534 published the whole complete. The eagerness with which copies of this translation were sought after," says Dr. Townley, “ called for numerous editions, so that