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his sales by extolling the merits of the indulgences in the most extravagant and impious terms. The profits which he and his associates thus obtained, were too often squandered by them in drunkenness, gaming, and low debauchery; so that, while the sale of their absolutions and pardons shocked the German pastors, who found it vain to insist upon penance, and their acquisition of so much wealth irritated the princes whose subjects were thus impoverished, the common people, the credulous and the pious, at last began to perceive that the whole was a monstrous delusion, and a shameful scandal to the church. So disposed were the minds of his countrymen, when Martin Luther first opposed the sale of indulgences.
before he opposed the
sale of indulgences.
This great reformer of mankind was born at Eisleben, in in county of Mansfeldt, Saxony, November 10th, Sketch of 1483. Though born of poor parents, his father being only a miner, he received a learned education in the university of Erfurth. The ardour of his mind, the elevation of his genius, and the meditative character of his country, early led him to the contemplation" of the mysteries of religion, and the sublimities of nature;* and in 1505, the fate of a companion, who was struck dead by lightning while walking in the fields with him, made such an impression upon his mind that he devoted himself to a religious life, and he immediately entered a convent of Augustinian friars at Erfurth. It is a remarkable fact, that Luther was two years in this monastery before he saw a Latin Bible; which so much delighted him, that, abandoning all other pursuits, he devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures, to the astonishment of the monks, who were little accustomed to derive their theological opinions from that source. He was soon regarded as the most learned member of his order, and in 1508 the Elector Frederic of Saxony, who had just founded a university at Wittemberg, appointed him to a professorship of philosophy, and made him one of the ministers of the town. In 1510 he visited Rome on the affairs of his monastery, where he was shocked by the lavish style of living and sumptuous magnificence of his Italian brethren; by the bold display of infidelity in the capital of the Christian world; and by the wonder and derision which his sincerity and fervour excited amongst the clergy, who muttered over their liturgy in the greatest hurry. This visit condemned Rome and the church in Luther's mind; he returned to Germany, and spent the next few years in studying the Scriptures, which he began to consider as the only standard of religious truth.
* Mackintosh, II, 136, + Michelet's Luther, chap. I.
He establishes the reformed
In 1517, Tetzel came to Wittemberg to sell his indulgences, when Luther came forth from his concealment, and in the great church of the town bitterly inveighed against doctrines in the indulgences; exposed the falsehood of the doctrines on which they were founded; and showed the people the danger of relying for salvation upon any other means than those appointed by God in His Word. At first, Leo X. regarded his proceedings with indifference, and imputed them to the monastic jealousies which existed between the Dominicans and the Augustinians; but when Luther published, in 1520, his tract against "Popedom," and his "Babylonish Captivity," in which he declared the Pope to be Antichrist, Leo issued his famous bull excommunicating the reformer, condemning his books to be burnt, and requiring the princes of Germany to apprehend him (15th June, 1520). Times, however, were now changed; the bull was torn in pieces at Erfurth, and Luther himself publicly burnt the decretals, the canon law, and the bull, outside Wittemberg (December 10th); while the Emperor was too much occupied with his contest with Francis, and was under too great obligations to the Elector of Saxony, Luther's patron, to take any active part in executing the bull. But Luther was summoned to appear at the Diet of Worms (June, 1521), and though he fearlessly obeyed the summons, and was allowed to depart freely, an edict was issued against him, and he found it necessary to submit to a friendly imprisonment in the castle of Warburg, till the tyranny of the Diet should be overpast. It was during this confinement that Henry VIII. wrote the book against him which earned for that monarch the title of Defender of the Faith, and to which Luther replied with so much vehemence and indecent boldness. In a few months the edict of Worms was forgotten, and Luther returned to Wittemberg, where he published his German translation of the Scriptures, an example which was soon followed in other countries of Europe.
His doctrines were now openly embraced by many of the leading towns and the chief princes of Northern Germany, and by the year 1529, almost one-half of the Germanic body had revolted from the papal see, and established the Lutheran form of worship. In that year, the Diet of Spires was held, which issued a decree prohibiting innovations in religion, particularly the abolition of the mass, and confirming the edict which had been published at Worms against the reformers. The Elector of Saxony, the Marquis of Brandenburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, and other princes, together with the deputies of fourteen free cities, made a solemn * Vide Heeren's Political System of Europe, 39.
protest against this decree, as unjust and impious; from which circumstance the reformers received the name of the term Protestants, a title since more forcibly applied to all ant." those who protest against the church of Rome, and do not belong to her communion.
In the following year the Emperor held a diet at Augsburg (March, 1530), where the Protestant princes presented their famous Confession of Faith, which had been drawn up by Melancthon, the greatest scholar, as well as the most pacific and gentleminded man among the followers of Luther. This celebrated document, though drawn up with the greatest moderation, presented so many marks of distinction, and placed such insuperable barriers between the two parties, that a reconciliation, much more a coalition, was now impossible. A very severe edict was, therefore, issued by the diet against the reformers, who, in selfdefence, entered into a league at Smalcalde (December The League 22nd, 1530), and thus formed the Protestant states of the calde. empire into one regular body, which formed alliances, and acted in every respect as if it was an independent state.*
4. Establishment of the Reformation in Switzerland. While Luther was thus so successfully establishing the principles of the Reformation in Northern Germany, Ulric Zuingle, a Zuingle. Swiss priest, was disseminating them in Switzerland. He began, like Luther, by opposing the sale of indulgences, first at Einseideln, and afterwards at Zurich. But he inculcated milder doctrines, and was distinguished by a more charitable spirit than the German; his premature death prevented him from fully establishing his opinions.
A more powerful reformer soon took his place, John Calvin, a native of Noyon, in Picardy, who first distinguished himself at Paris, 1532. Driven from that city by the Calvin. persecutions of the clergy, he passed to Strasbourg, where he was nominated to the office of French preacher; and by his erudition and pulpit eloquence he gathered round him many disciples, and all those who had embraced the opinions of Zuingle. He subsequently moved to Geneva, where he established a republic, and the Presbyterian system of church government.
5. Sketch of the more prominent doctrinal differences of the Reformers. Although the whole body of dissenters from the church of Rome received the name of Protestants, there existed many serious differences between them; and the obstinacy with which each party supported its peculiar opinions, as well as the
*Vide Robertson's Charles V.
fierceness with which they opposed one another, considerably checked the progress of the Reformation.
The followers of Luther adopted the Confession of Augsburg Lutherans. as their profession of faith; and they called themselves Evangelical Christians, because they professed to draw their doctrines from the Scriptures alone. The northern half of Germany, Denmark, Norway, Prussia, and Livonia, espoused their opinions.
The followers of Calvin assumed the designation of the Reformed Calvinists. Church, probably to mark more strongly that they had made more changes in church government than the Lutherans. Their opinions were adopted in England, Scotland, the United Provinces, and the greater part of Switzerland. The great doctrine which distinguished them from their brethren of Germany was that of absolute predestination; a doctrine which both Zuingle and Melancthon held at first, but afterwards rejected. The Calvinists adopted a democratic constitution for their church, in which all the ministers were of equal rank and power. The Lutherans retained bishops, but very limited in jurisdiction, and much lowered in revenue. The church of England, while inclining somewhat to Calvinist doctrines, followed the example of the Lutherans in her church government; but rather enlarged the jurisdiction of the bishops, by releasing them from the authority of Rome. In England, a Calvinist and a Presbyterian became synonymous terms; but now, a Calvinist is any Protestant who believes in the doctrine of absolute predestination; so that many Episcopalians are Calvinists, while many Presbyterians are Anti-Calvinists.*
The controversy concerning the
The subject of fiercest controversy among the Protestants was, the nature of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. All of them rejected the ancient doctrine of Transubstantiation, Eucharist. which more than all other opinions excited the dread and horror of pious Romanists, who considered the "heretics" as thus cutting asunder the closest ties which bound the devout heart to the Deity. The doctrine of Transubstantiation was, therefore, selected by the church of Rome as the test of heresy, and most, if not all of those who suffered death upon that charge, were convicted of denying the corporal presence in the sense of the Romish church.‡
Concerning this great doctrine, the Protestants entertained three great theories, to say nothing of subordinate varieties. Το understand these, it will be necessary to state clearly the doctrine of the Roman church.
* Mackintosh, II., 144-146. + Ibid.
Hallam's Const. Hist., I., 89.
She taught that at the moment of consecration, the substances of the bread and wine were changed into the substances of Christ's body and blood, the Romish accidents, as the schoolmen called them, or sensible qualities of the former doctrine. becoming inherent in the latter. To this, the reformers strongly objected, that the simultaneous existence of a substance in many places, was inconceivable and contradictory; an objection which rested solely upon the meaning to be attached to the word "substance," which the schoolmen used in speaking of Christ's body and blood.
Though the Roman doctrine was thus hidden in metaphysical mystery, Luther only substituted one unintelligible theory for another. In the Confession of Augsburg, he laid down the doctrine of Consubstantiation, by which the two substances were united in the sacramental elements, so that they might be termed bread and wine, or the body and blood, with equal propriety.
The Swiss Protestants, under Zuingle, rejected every notion of a real presence; they divested the doctrine of all its mystery; and openly declared their Zuinglian.
conviction that the Eucharist was no more than a commemoration of the death of Christ, and that the bread and wine were only symbols of his body and blood. This was the only substantial alteration which was made in the old creed, and it excited as much indignation in the Lutherans as in the Romanists.
A third hypothesis was promulgated by Martin Bucer, of Strasbourg, who thought that, for avoiding contention and maintaining peace, more ambiguous words should be used. He was an acute metaphysician, and the terms he used to express his doctrine were unusually confused and unmeaning. It did not acknowledge a local presence in the elements after consecration, and thus agreed with the Zuinglian doctrine; but it contended that the body and blood of Christ were really, and without figure, received by the worthy communicant through faith; and thus inclined to the doctrine of a real presence. This opinion was adopted, with slight alteration, by Calvin; and as Bucer had some share in the English Reformation, it was received into some of the offices of the English church. But Peter Martyr, a Swiss reformer, who held the doctrine of Zuingle, also had no small influence in England, and in the forty-two articles of religion set forth in the reign of Edward VI., the real or corporal presence,-using these words to denote the same thing,-was distinctly denied. The clause was, however, omitted in Elizabeth's articles.*
6. Consequences produced by the Reformation. Reformation convulsed convulsed the entire constitution, discipline, and teaching of the church, it had a most important The evils. influence on the politics and social condition of every country in Europe; and though its results were of immense benefit to mankind, they were not brought about without several very afflicting circumstances.
1. It excited the natural intolerance of the human mind to unwonted activity, and both Protestants and Romanists persecuted those whom they stigmatized as heretics.
2. It created divisions, and thus gave intolerance opportunity to act, because it was impossible to determine exactly the disputed points, owing to the peculiar nature of the evidence.†
3. The disputes which were thus excited, were rendered more serious and productive of evil, because they took a particular * Hallam's Const. Hist., I., 89-91; Mackintosh, II., 144. † See Mackintosh, II., 132.