Imágenes de páginas

the pulpit; and to obviate the want of pastors capable of instructing the people, composed a liturgy and homilies, which were adopted with success. He advised the Elector John, who succeeded his brother Frederic the preceding year, and who, from the commencement of his reign, openly espoused the cause of the reformation, to write to the bishops, requiring them to provide for the religious instruction of the people under their charge, informing them, that if they were negligent, he was determined to take steps to enforce their diligence. Towards the close of the year, he was at times seized with a depression of spirits, which he imagined was a temptation of the devil, while it was only the effect of his incessant labours, intense meditations, and anxious cares, which disordered his body, and injured his health; for by the use of medicines, he was restored to his former tranquillity; though his illness continued during the whole of 1527. He did not, however, discontinue his pulpit instructions; though he was incapable of exerting his mind in any long or connected train of thinking. He accordingly wrote scarcely any thing this year, but a short treatise On the Lawfulness of Christians making War; in which he restricts its lawfulness to the case of defensive operations, and denies the right of subjects to fight against their rulers, however tyrannical, if they do not impose restraints on their conscience.


⚫ Seckend. § 20, & ad. . Ib. § 29 & 30, p. 80, 81.

In consequence of the edict of Spires in June, 1526, by which the states of the empire were permitted to regulate the affairs of religion, in each province, according as the princes judged most expedient, till a general council should be held, the Romanists, enraged at their ineffectual efforts to procure the condemnation of Lutheranism, entered into an alliance to attack the Landgrave of Hesse, and the Elector of Saxony. These two princes received information in 1528 of a treaty to this purpose, said to have been made at Breslaw, in May, 1527, and immediately united for the defence of their territories and religion, and took steps to prevent or to resist the designs of their enemies. By the remonstrances of Luther and Melancthon, however, the Elector was convinced of the precipitancy of his conduct; and the confederated Catholics unanimously disavowing the treaty which they were said to have formed, the fear of war was removed.§ This year Luther published a number of sermons on Genesis, remarkable for simplicity of language, temperance towards those who differed from him, and fidelity in their application to the consciences of men ; a commentary on Zechariah, in which he censured the allegories of mystics, and the dreams of the German fanatics; a treatise on Communion in one kind, against the archbishop of Misnia; and a letter against the Anabaptists, in which, to avoid one of their arguments against infant baptism, he supposes infants to be capable of exercising faith;


Seck. 35, et. ad.

a novel opinion, and of which nothing but the design with which it was broached can be defended.*

A diet was assembled at Spires in March, 1529, by order of the Emperor, at which every art was used by the Romish party to divide the friends of the reformation, by reviving the disputes about the sacrament. Though this was prevented, Luther, whose mind was inflamed with prejudice against the Zuinglians, so far forgot his usual principles, as to advise the Elector to leave them to the cruelty of their persecutors, a condition on which the Lutherans were promised a more favourable treatment. The advice was rejected; and on the prevalence of the Romanists in the diet, who confirmed the former decree of Spires, the Lutheran princes and the representatives of fourteen cities joined in a formal protest, which they afterwards strengthened by a solemn appeal to the Emperor, or a future council, either univer, sal or national, in behalf of themselves, their subjects, and their successors, and all who should embrace the same doctrines. From this circumstance the German Lutherans received name of PROTESTANTS, a name by which all who embraced the reformation from popery have long been distinguished.§


When the Elector of Saxony, and the other Protestant princes, were summoned to attend another diet at Augsburg in June, 1530, they understood that they had nothing but injustice to expect from the Emperor, who


Seck. 38, 39, 40. Ib. 44.

was every day becoming more and more enslaved by the councils of the Pope, and thought of meeting him in arms; but through Luther's persuasion, they laid aside their intention, and assembled in peace at the appointed time. Yet anxious as this reformer was to have another opportunity to speak the truth before the Emperor and his court, he was too obnoxious to be openly protected by the Protestants, and was accordingly left in the castle of Cobourg, at a little distance from Augsburg, that his advice might be obtained, if necessary. In this retreat, he gave himself to meditation and prayer, translated the proph ets, wrote his commentary on the Psalms; and published, before the opening of the diet, An Address to the Clergy assembled at Augsburg, justifying his doctrine, and exhorting them to acknowledge that truth, to suppress which, all their art or power would be altogether ineffec: tual.¶ He re-animated the drooping spirits, and laboured to strengthen the faith of Melancthon, whose fortitude was shaken by the number and power of his enemies, and his efforts were not unsuccessful. The following extracts from his letters will shew the greatness of his mind, and the extent of his views: “I am much weaker than you in private conflicts: but in public, you are like me in private. You are not afraid of your own life, but you are afraid of the public cause. I, on the contrary, look on this cause with tranquillity and fortitude, because I am con

Ib. 44. Beausobre, tom. iv. 250, et seq.

fident it is just and true, the cause of Christ and of God, which has no reason to blush and tremble, as I, an individual sinner have. On this account, I contemplate with security, and almost with indifference, these fierce and menacing Papists; for if we fall, Christ, the ruler of the world, must fall with us; and though it were so, I had rather fall with Christ, than stand with Cæsar. Nor are you alone in this conflict, I am present with you in groans and prayers; and would to God I could be with you in person, for it is my cause also, and more mine than yours; a cause undertaken neither rashly, nor through motives of avarice or vain glory, as I take God to witness, and as the event has already testified, and will testify more fully hereafter. I beseech you, therefore, in the name of Christ, not to forget the promises and consolations contained in the words, Cast your care on the Lord, for he careth for you; wait on the Lord; act a manly part; and let your heart be strengthened. Be of good courage, I have overcome the world, says Jesus. Why then should we fear a conquered world, as if it were the conqueror? To hear such a truth, it were little to go on our knees to Rome, or even to Jerusalem. But we are accustomed to hear it, and this diminishes its impression." Again, in another letter, "The cares, which consume you, highly displease me; they arise not from any important cause, but from the greatness of your unbelief. Was the danger less in the days of Huss, and other good men ? Great as the cause is, its Author

and Defender is also great; for it is not ours only. Why then do you constantly distress yourself? If the cause is false, let us withdraw from it; if it is true, why should we make God a liar by disbelieving his promises?-What more can the devil do, than take away our life? For myself, whether it be the effect of insensibility, or of the Spirit of God, I know not, but I feel little uneasiness as to the event; nay, I have more hope than I could have believed. we are not worthy to carry it forward, others will be raised up. In fine, if the danger increase, I will fly to your support, and look these formidable emissaries of Satan full in the teeth."*


Against the decree of this diet, which prohibited all changes or innovations in the faith or worship of the church, and excluded from the imperial chamber all, who should disobey it, Luther in 1531 published a small treatise, in which he protested that his object was to censure not the Emperor and good princes, but the bad, whether princes or bishops, and especially Pope Clement, and Cardinal Campegius his legate; that the pretended refutation of the Protestant confession was unworthy of any man of common understanding or probity; that the church by refusing the cup to the laity, opposed the authority of Scripture, and instead of being the spouse of Christ, was the whore of Satan; that solitary masses were dangerous and unscriptural; and that justification, by faith only, is a doctrine

* Seekend. § 69, p. 181, 182.

according to godliness. "This article," says he, "shall never be overthrown, neither by emperors, nor by the Turks, nor the Tartars, nor the Persians; nor by the Pope and all his cardinals, bishops, priests, monks, and nuns; nor by kings, princes, or governors; nor by the whole world, though joined by all the devils in hell; and all, who controvert it, shall meet the reward of iniquity. Thus I, Doctor Luther, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, believe: and this is the true gospel." Then he quotes the creed, I believe in Jesus Christ crucified, dead, and buried; and adds, "If none but Christ died for sin, if no other taketh away sin, all men with all their works are, by consequence, excluded from any share in meriting the remission of sins, and justification before God; and as it is impossible to embrace Christ but by faith, how can works avail? If then faith, before works follow it, alone embraces Christ, it must be true that his redemption is applied to sinners, i. e. they are justified by faith only. After faith, however, good works follow as its fruit. This is the doctrine I teach, and this the Holy Spirit, and the true church of Christ have always taught. To this, by the grace of God, I will constantly adhere. Amen."*

After this period, Luther was chiefly employed in raising that superstructure of reformation, the foundation of which he had laid amid such opposition and dangers. His life was spent in labouring to strengthen the minds of the faithful, and to ex

• Seckend. lib. iii. § 3, p. 7.

tend the knowledge aud influence of the truth; in exhorting princes, and universities, and provinces not to retard the progress of the reformation, but to confirm it; in writing commentaries on the Scripture; and in publishing, from time to time, treatises of admonition, reproof, and consolation, according to the particular circumstances in which the church, or individuals, were placed. Nor did his enemies escape the lash of his pen. His severity seemed to increase with his years; more than once he was commanded by his steady friend the Elector of Saxony, to moderate his language, and restrain his vehemence; but the inveteracy of the errors, which he combated, continually supplied new fuel for his indignation and violence.

In consequence of the decree of the diet of Spires, and the proceedings of the Emperor and the court of Rome subsequent to it, the Protestants met at Smalkalde in Dec. 1530, con-. cluded a league of mutual defence against all, who should oppose them, and renewed it the following year in an assembly at the same place. In 1535, they again met, insisted on their original demand of a council to be held in Germany, and agreed to unite in supporting the league of Smalkalde for ten years. When this period expired, they found

considerable difficulty arising from the jealousies of particular princes, to prolong their confederacy, and saw the tempest, which had been so long gathering, and which was now greatly thickened by the proceedings of the council of Trent, ready to burst on them with aw

ful fury. But Luther, who had watched its progress with a steady eye, was removed by death from feeling or beholding its destructive rage. In the beginning of 1546, he was sent for to his native country, to reconcile the differences which had for some time interrupted the harmony of Mansfeld. He preach ed his last sermon at Wittemberg on the 17th of January, and on the 23d, set out for Eisleben, whence

he never returned. Though, during the journey, he complained of faintness and weakness, he was able to attend all the sittings of the court, before which the cause for which he had come was pled, till the 17th of February. That evening, a little before supper, he felt an unusual sickness arising from the disease under which he had laboured for some time, an oppression of the humours in the opening of the stomach. That day, he had indeed said to Justas Jonas, and some other friends, "I was born and baptized at 'Eisleben, what if I should remain and die here?" But his sickness went off, and he partook of his supper with his usual appetite. But immediately after, the pain returned, and continued with little abatement for some hours. About one in the morning of the 18th, he lay down on his bed for the last time; and when being excruciated with pain, he cried out, "O God! what oppression do I feel." Jonas said, "Reverend father, call on Jesus Christ our Lord and Great High Priest, that only Mediator whom thou hast preached." But feeling the Vol. II. No. 4.


chilling hand of death, he said,
"this cold sweat is the forerun-
ner of dissolution, I will give up
my spirit." He then prayed, say-
ing, "O heavenly Father, ever-
lasting and merciful God, thou hast
revealed to me thine own Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, him I have
preached, him I have confessed,
him I love, and adore as my dear-
est Saviour and deliverer, though
the ungodly persecute, revile, and
blaspheme him, receive my spirit,-
O my heavenly Father, though I
must leave this body, and be taken
out of this life, yet I know assured-
ly, that I shall live with thee for-
ever, and none is able to pluck me
out of thy hands. He that is our
God is the God of salvation, and
unto God the Lord belong the
He then
issues from death.”
repeated thrice, with an elevat-
ed tone, "Lord, into thy hands I
commend my spirit; Thou hast
redeemed me, O God of truth :”
after which he continued breath-
ing, till about three in the morn-
ing, when he entered on that
glory, in the faith and hope of
which, he lived, and laboured,
and died. He was attended in
his last moments by the Count
and Countess of Mansfeld, Me-
lancthon, Justas Jonas, and sev-
eral other friends, who minister-
ed to his consolation, and joined
with him in prayer, that God
would preserve the doctrine of
his Son's gospel among them.
His body was carried to Wit-
temberg, and honourably inter-
red without pomp or parade.*
On his tomb the following in-
scription was put by the univer-


Seckend. lib. iii. § 133. p. 634, &c.

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