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kingdom were closely connected as cause and effect; and the result is only to be deprecated and mourned over when found in excess. If we cannot see our Lord with our bodily eyes we are the more disposed to fix our gaze upon those whom he employs, and, in a certain measure and degree, we are called upon to give them our love and reverence while yet we “glorify God in them."
These observations will form the text of much that we purpose to say regarding Luther, whom we look upon as an instrument employed by Christ himself;—the scourge of small thongs used by Him to drive from His temple them that bought and sold therein, and who made the house of prayer a den of thieves. We feel that it becomes us to speak with reverence of the purposes of an Infinite Mind, of which we can know but little except so far as it is pleased to reveal itself to us; and we are well aware that much that is presumptuous and unfounded is often talked and written respecting God and Divine Providence as favouring or discouraging the actions of men. But as we are the subjects of a moral government with well-defined laws and a long series of undoubted precedents, we may humbly infer that some events more than others are intended to be viewed by us as specially brought about for the welfare of the Church and the glory of God. Such an event was the life of Luther, in its early training and its entire devotedness to one object; so that if, in any case not commended to us by miraculous intervention, or marked out by the express finger of God, we can think of a man raised up to do a great work in the world, we may safely do so of the celebrated German Reformer.
Even if there were a tendency in any age to undervalue Luther, or to place him in a lower niche than he has hitherto occupied in the pantheon of the Church's worthies, the extreme and even romantic interest of his life would in a great degree render the attempt futile. From early childhood we have read the history of Luther, and were captivated at the first stage by the account of his retired exile in the Wartburg, his imagined conflict with the devil and his angels in its gloomy recesses, and the victories he obtained over a present bodily Apollyon by “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” As intellect became more developed, we were attracted by the moral energy of the man, who would go to Worms, although it was doubtful whether he would be allowed to leave it alive. What heroism appeared in him when, finding his enemies active at Weimar, being asked by the herald who was leading him to the Diet, “ Well, Doctor, will you go on ?” he said, “Yes, though they should kindle a fire between Wittenberg and Worms to reach to heaven, I will go on; I will confess Christ in Behemoth's mouth between his great teeth !" Or in his reply to his cautious friends as he drew nearer to the city: "I am resolved and fixed to enter Worms in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, although as many devils should set at me as there are tiles on the housetops!" And then, after these expressions of courage, how grand appeared the august assembly with the Emperor Charles V. at its head; yet not so grand in reality as the poor monk on whom all eyes were fixed, and whose blood many were longing to spill! This Diet of Worms, as it appeared to Luther at his first interview, has been described often by historians and depicted by painters, yet it will bear another recital as it appears in the pages of Mr. Worsley.
** The doors of the room were thrown open, and Luther was ushered into the presence of the full array of the assembled wisdom and grandeur of the empire. The emperor had the three ecclesiastical electors on the right of his throne, the three secular electors on the left; at his feet on either side the two nuncios; his brother Ferdinand sat on a chair of state, a step below the throne. The sun verging to its setting, was streaming full on the scene of worldly magnificence, so strangely varied by every colour and form of dress. The Spanish cloak of yellow silk, the velvet and ermine of the electors, the red robes of cardinals, the violet robes of bishops, the plain sombre garb of the deputies of towns and jurists, and the monk's shorn head were encircled by the dark flushing line of the mailed chivalry of Germany. A profound stillness marked the universal interest and anxiety which was interrupted for a moment as Luther entered by many of the Germans rising from their seats; a movement of homage rather than of curiosity which even the presence of the emperor failed to restrain, and then the silence was as unbroken as before.
“Luther seemed at first bewildered; on observing which, some of the nobles near him whispered, “ Fear not them wbich kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul ;' when you are called before governors and kings do not premeditate, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom,' etc. Only speak,' said Pappenheim, 'in answer to the questions put to you.' The guards moved on, clearing a way, and presently Luther stood immediately in front of the throne of Charles V.
“ Those assembled in the hall included the emperor, the sovereign of half Europe, besides illimitable territories across the Atlantic; his brother the Archduke Ferdinand, who had been placed over the five Austrian Duchies, and was subsequently King of the Romans, and, finally, wielded the sceptre of the empire ; six electors, each a sovereign prince; twentyseven dukes, ten landgraves, seven margraves, twenty-one archbishops and bishops, besides abbots ; deputies of ten free cities ; princes, counts, barons ; eight ambassadors, amongst them the representatives of England and France, and the two nuncios of his holiness ; in all, more than two hundred personages of the highest rank in Germany or Spain. And in the midst of this assembled group of earthly potentates, there stood a
man worn out with toil and study, and feeble with recent sickness, in his monk's frock, on whom every eye was bent from Charles to his guards, who was then arraigned because he had dared to remind mankind of the supreme authority of God's Word.”—vol. i., pp. 332-3.
But these exciting scenes, and this extraordinary courage in a man apparently so defenceless as Luther, form only the human materials which make his life read so enchantingly, and after three centuries of wear and tear still invest it with the
of romance. It is when the matured intellect grasps the moral and religious questions which group themselves around the life of Luther, that we recognize his mission as only less than divine because it wants the outward and tangible guarantee which prophets and apostles possessed. We then meditate on what preceded the career of the Reformer in the dominance of an ecclesiastical power which ruled the nations with a rod of iron; and in proportion to our vivid conception of that hard intolerance is our admiration of the instrument destined to set them free. Even if, as we confess we do, we join our Christian interests with a remote antiquity, and consider the different phases of the Church of Rome as a series of links of a chain reaching up to our Lord and his apostles, and destined to extend onward through all time:-even then we discover a baseness of corruption which demanded that Providence should interfere to cleanse it, and which excites our wonder at the Divine forbearance which did not sweep away the whole framework of the Church with the whirlwind of its wrath. The rascally cupidity of Tetzel seems too bad to be true, but when we remember that the narrative of his religious cheating is indubitable, and that the age submitted to it, we need that fact alone to convey to our minds some efficient idea of the depths of degradation to which the Church had sunk, and from which God was about to raise her. Let our readers renew their acquaintance with the proceedings of this varlet and his dupes, and they will coincide with us in the strong censure we have pronounced on the age which could tolerate him :
“The theatrical colouring which Tetzel was careful to throw over his proceedings was well adapted to influence the populace. He and his party, consisting of Friar Bartholomew and two secretaries, were generally received at the gates of a town by the council and the clergy in their robes ; monks, nuns, choristers, and the scholars of the principal schools, and with lighted candles, floating banners, and amidst the ringing of bells, mingling with the notes of music, conducted to the Church or Cathedral. The Pope's brief was borne in state before him, and he carried in his hand the red cross. On entering the Church the tall red cross, surmounted with the Pope's arms, was set up at the high altar ; the money counter was placed beneath it; and the papal brief on its velvet cushion was placed in full view. Then Tetzel in the garb of the Dominicans, mounted the pulpit, and with stentorian voice harangued the multitude on the infallibilities of the Pope and the efficacy of his pardons. The indulgence, he stated, was the very grace of Jesus Christ; and he himself, as the dispenser of such a blessingwas not to be compared with St. Peter, for he had saved many more souls than the apostle. At the close of the oration, Brother Bartholomew shouted, ‘Come and buy, come and buy.' -Worsley, vol. i., pp. 81-2.
This was superstition, and it might have been associated with honesty, and in that case its reign might have lasted much longer. But when truth leaves the human heart, vice and knavery will soon creep into it, and in this way God has provided a remedy for ecclesiastical as well as other corruptions. Tetzel was not honest, but was “a thief and had the bag, and bare that which was put therein.”
“The penitents knelt at confessionals suspended (?) with the papal arms; they mumbled over their confessions and passed to the altar ; dropped the stipulated sum into the money-box, and received in return a sealed letter of pardon. But after his traffic in any place had been concluded, Tetzel commonly sat down with his associates to a merry drinking bout; played at dice, staking sometimes, it was said, the salvation of souls on the cast; and jested at the credulity of the poor fools whom he had tricked of their money. The tavern-keeper had to take his indulgence letters in exchange for his accommodation, and they thus circulated like paper money, only that they were made payable in another world. An instance of his craft, which occurred at Zwickau, has been particularly noted by contemporaries. The money bag had been sealed up when the chaplains and altarists applied to Tetzel to give them a supper. His invention was put to the rack, but quickly struck upon a device. He ordered the church-bell to be tolled, and ascended the pulpit. The inhabitants of the place, roused by the bell from their occupations, and prompted by curiosity, repaired to the Church ; when Tetzel informed them that he had intended to quit their town that very day, but in the preceding night his slumbers had been broken by groans from the adjoining cemetery, of some poor soul still suffering in purgatory. Whose relation he or she might be he could not affirm, but it was unquestionably the soul of a poor adulterous man or woman; and all the pious were concerned to release the sinner from torment; in such a cause he would be the first to contribute. This example was followed by the whole company, for all wished to be regarded among the pious, who could compassionate the sins of others and their punishment. An ample sum was collected, and Tetzel and his associates sat down to a jovial entertainment, made the more merry by the adroitness which had procured it.”vol. i., pp. 81-2.
The student of history, and especially of Church history, will learn to receive cum grano narratives of extraordinary turpitude attributed by party spirit to its oppo
Reformation was needed, then, in the sixteenth century, and Luther was evidently raised up by Divine Providence to accomplish it. Next to his heart being influenced by the grace of God, and enlightened by the study of the Holy Scriptures, the quality which fitted him for his work was his firm persistency in his opinions when once he had formed them :-an almost dogged determination of purpose, which would yield to no arguments, and relax to no entreaties. No one can study Luther's character thoroughly without seeing that if he had continued a monk all his days, and been made abbot, he would have been a stern enforcer of any views he thought right, perhaps a tyrant to those placed under his rule. But if he had not been made of sterner stuff than many of his celebrated contemporaries, Melancthon and Erasmus, for instance, what would have become of the Reformation ? How often would affairs have taken an entirely different course had not Luther disregarded the advice of princes, and the more seductive solicitations of his personal friends ? Deference to authority; a firm belief in the Pope as the head of the Church; a dread of heresy in all its forms ;these were only a few of the principles which everywhere held in the spirit of those who sighed and cried for the abominations of the land, and led them to be satisfied with constant prayer
nents. We do not know on what authority the above anecdote rests, but it appears scarcely credible that with such knavery openly practised by the agents of the Pope, the people could swallow the doctrine of indulgences as they did. Tetzel, no doubt, was fit for any trickery in the prosecution of his nefarious calling; but we should have expected some more outward prudence than is attributed to him. Mr. Worsley informs us that “he was prohibited by Frederick from entering Saxony, because he objected to the indulgence tax being levied on his subjects, and also on personal grounds, for at Inspruck, Tetzel had been convicted of adultery, and sentenced to be thrown in a sack into the river." This one fact, and also the other that Luther made such opposition to the sale of indulgences, prove that ignorance did not reign unopposed, and that many rose superior to the absurd practices of the Church to which they belonged. Indeed the very fact of the Reformation being brought about by Luther, shews plainly that society was fitted for it; and that a truly godly element mingled with those of an opposite character. Great harm is done to historic truth, and also to Christianity, by the exaggerated descriptions of the state of things in Christendom before. It was bad enough, without our giving it a darker colouring by the creation of our fancy. The very beginning of Mr. Worsley's work contains an instance of these redeeming circumstances which existed in the midst of papal misrule. “ The influence of education in forming the mind and the character, can only be ranked second to nature itself, or the stamp which God himself infixes on the heart and on the head. And certainly the education which little Martin enjoyed or underwent, was exactly adapted to fit and prepare him for the arduous duties and trials of his future career. John Luther was a pious man, and often prayed that his children might be filled with the grace of God. Moreover he loved learning; and assembled in his cottage as often as he could such learned men as would honour him with a visit.” This is a very pleasing picture, and our readers need not be told what inferences flow from it as to the state of society in general before Luther appeared.