Charles Ebert Hay.

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Pope illy-informed to the Pope better-in-
formed, sentling one copy l>y a trusty friend to
( ajtlan and posting one for the information of the
)»ui>lic upon the wall of the catheclral. V\nm his
journey homeward, he received a copy of the in-
structions which the Poju* had given to Cajetan,
hearing date of August 'ioth, authorizing hin» to
arrest Lnther and clothing him with full jiower to
' xeonnnunicate any and all adherents of the lat-
ter at his discretion, and to place undir the han
any prince, city or university that should alTonl a
refuge to the condemned monk.


The oficct «»f llu' transactions at Aiijrslnir*: upon
Luther was to ^rrcatly diiiiinish liis rt sprct for the
papal autli(»rity and to encourage him in hoUlly
priH'lainiing the prin(ij>l('S which he had then* so
successfully niaintaineil. If rrierias and C'ajetan
were ahle to jnesent no stronger aiirunients a;:ainst
him, what couhl he have to fear from other adver-

On \\vj. 'J'tth, the Cardinal addressed a letter
to the Elector Frederick, warning' him a^^ainst
aiTordinj; shelter to the incorrigible m<»nk, urj:in<x
his immediate surren<ler to tlie Romish authori-
ties, or, at least, his hanishment from the electoral
dominions. The faithful Frederick, ])erplexed as
to his duty but sincerely attached to his fearless
subject, sent the Utter to LutluT, allowing him to
re]>ly for himself, and three weeks later dictated a
di«:nified and non-committal n ply to the Cardinal
in his own name.

After })uhlishin^ a full account of the occur-
rences at Au«;sburj;, Luther now, utterly distrust-
inf? the Pope, and beginninfj even to suspect that
the latter was the Antichrist spoken of in Revela-
tions, niade a formal appeal, in his own hihalf
an<l in that i>f the large numlM r of his countrymen
who shared his views, to a General Council of the
Church to he held in some secure and accessible

Whilst at Augsburg, Stau]»itz, as Vicar (li-neral
of the Augustinians, had absolved him from his
vow of obedience to that order, that, in the
event of his excomnnmication, the standing of the
onler in (iermany might not be compromised, and
that he might not feel bouml by his solcnni oath
t<» sulunit to the discipline thus administere<l.

Lutli" r now .seriously nHMlitateil :i departure
from Wittenberg in order that the Klc( tor and


tlie University mi^^'ht not be coiiijmIIcI to share the
• xliuin wliifh he had l)r()ii.L;]it upon liiinsclf. It
was, howevtT, dccick'd tliat lie should remain, at
Irast until the edict of exeouniiunicatiou should he
actually issu<'d. He aeeordiu;:ly l)ade a eondi-
tinnal farewell to his eon«;re^Mtion and, ready for
lliL^ht at any inoment, (|uietly applied himself to
his ordinary duties, his soul ''Idled with joy and
peace/' the sure reward of conscious rectitude.

( iiAiTKi: vr.


Anxious to arrest the ])roprcss of the new doc-
trines, yet fearinpj to deal liarshly witli Luther, the
Pope now entered upon a eanipaiLni of eoiuihation.

On Nov. Uth lie issued a proclamation (pul>-
lished in (iiTniany Dee. loth), (•<)U( li(<l in ^^cneral
terms, and niaintainin.L', airainst tin* errors of ecr-
tain monks and jnvachers, that tlie divine penal-
ties for sins may )k' remittcil l>y induljrt'necs, and
that the ''treasure of the C'hureh," eonsi.^tin^^ of
the merits of Christ and of the saints, is availahle
for this j)Urpose. He thus arrayed the Cliureh
more distinetly than hcfore in support of these
doctrines, hut avoided all dinrt nuntion of the
name of Luther.

'Die efforts of C'ajetan having: failed, a new en-
voy was despatched from Kome in the pt rson of
the Pope's ehamherlain, Karl von Miltitz. He,
hein«? a Saxon nohleman and familiar with the
temi>er of the (lerman people, wiu* well suited for
till' task assigned him. He hore with him letters
from the Poi)e, addressed to the Elector Frederi<'k,
the nia<ristrates of W'ittenherg, and many otlu'rs,
in which Luther was denounced as a "son of
Satan," and "son of perdition," and the recipi-
ents were adjured to render all possihle assistance
to Miltitz in proceedin«r ajiainst him. As the
Elector Frederick was regarded as the chief pro-
tector of the heretic, a special effort was made to
ensure his good-will hy the presentation to him of
the Golden Rose, an emliKin bebtuwcd annually


l)y tlic Tope ui)on sonu' ])riiR'c as a mark of .-pirial

Miltitz, iii»(»ii liis arrival, first of all soii^'lit a
conference with Cajetan. As he travilcd
tlmniL^li (ifrin-my he discoviTi'd to his dismay
that fully oni'-half the i>ojnihK'e seemed to he
upon the side of Luther, and saw in this an addi-
ti(tnal reason for the greatest eaution. He sum-
moned Tetzel hefore him and severely repri-
luanded him for his ajipro])riation of money
received from the sale of indulgenees, and for his
immoral life. The latter retired in disgraee to the
Dominican monastery at Lei])zig, where he died
a few months afterward. If the papal authorities
ima.Ldned that their heartless ahandoument of the
poor monk when he could no longer serve their
purposes would appeas(» Luther, they were greatly
mistaken. lie was stirre<l with indignati(»n and
]>itv, and addressed a cordial letter of sym})athy
to Tetzel.

It was not until the opening week of the year
1519 that Miltitz and Luther met hy ai)point-
ment at Altenherg. The hearing n[ the envoy was
extremely courteous. lie im])lored Luther with
tears to assist in cheeking the rising tide of dis-
content, and at the conclusion of the interview
dismissed him with a kiss. He agreed to use all
his influence at Rome to secure for Luther a hear-
ing hefore a German hishop, who should after an
impartial hearing decid*^ which, if any, of the
utterances of the latter were really in coniliet witli
the teachings of the Church. Pending the )>ro-
j)os«'d arititration, Luther agreed to refrain from
furtlirr attacks, j>rovidcd his opponents sh(»uld also
niiiain silent. lie ])romised to write an apolo-
getic letter to the Po|»e, and to ])uhlish an
appeal to tlie common people exhorting them to

54 I-ITHKU, Tin; KI:F(»UMK1{.

rnnain faithful to the Uuinan CathoHr Cluircli.
In the hittor, written noon afterward, Luther
acknowledges the autliority of the Pojn* as sub-
ordinate only to that of Christ himself, encour-
ages the connnon j)eoi»le to seek the intercession
of the saints for themselves and the souls in
j»urpitnry, and ur.L'es them to leave the settlement
of tile disturl>in^^ <iuesti<)ns of the day to the thcH)-
logians, and to interpret his own writings, not as
hostile to the Chnrch, hut as designed to promote
her welfare.

15y mutual consint the Archbishop of Treves
was selected as a suitaltlc ju rson t<» conduct the
proposed investigation, and during llie weeks fol-
lowing Miltitz earnestly hut fruitlessly sought to
perfect the necessary arrangements. Luther,
while assenting, took but little interest in the
matter, as the result would at best be no more
than the spmfication of distinct charges against
him, the final decision being still left to his
enemies at Rome. The Poj)e, on March 29th, be-
fore receiving Luther's letter, which was written
on the 3d of that month, addressed to him a
friendly c«»mmunication, expressing himself as
highly gratified that his " beloved son " has made
such large concessions and is now willing to re-
tract his errors, assuring him of full pardon for
the violence he had displayed under the ])rovoca-
tion of Tiitzel's imi)rudent utterances, and then in
a tone of con<lescending kindness njieating the
demand for his appearance at Rome for the
purpose of renouncing his errors in the }>resence
of the supreme TontifT. This letter, alth»>ugh
never delivi red to Luther, furnishes the clearest
evidence that the project of Miltitz for a hearing
Upon (ierman soil met with no favor at Home, and
that the seemingly friendly ajiproaches were but


an attempt to secure hy fliittfry ^vhat could not
be j;ain('(l l>y viokiice.

Lutlur luul so re^rardctl the wlmle movtiuent
from the be«rinning, deehirin^ to his frinids that
the tears of Mihitz were crocodile-tears and liis
kiss a Judas-kiss. Yet he met courtesy with
courtesy, and madf all concessions possible in the
interest of peace, still however employin<r his time
in further preparation for the conlliet which he
now saw to be inevitable.



SrARfELY had tlio interview with Miltitz heeii
coiiehidcd, wlieii Luther heard anew tlie blast of
^var in another <juarter. Carlstadt, his associate
at Witten))er^, liad forsome time l>ein eoiuhieting
a j»amphKt controversy with John Eck, of In«:ol-
stiidt, and arnin<,'enients liad now l»een ina(h' ft)r
the lioldin^ of a joint (U'hate \\\um the jM^ints at
issue. Tlie time and j)lace had not yet heen
agreed uj)on, hut the energetic cliampion of
Roman ortho(h)xy had already issueil a series of
twelve theses (afterwards increased to thirteen),
wliich were very evidently aimed, not at ( arl-
stadt, hut at Luther. A copy was sent hy Eck to
Luther with an invitation to he present at the dis-
cussion. As the latter well knew that C arlstadt
was a man of more ZA'al than learning and hy no
means a match for Eck in dehate, and as the as-
sault was chietly desijrne<l to hring his own teach-
ing into <lisrcitute, he, fueling no longer hoimd hy
his conditional pledge of silence, resolved not only
to he present, Init to claim the privileg«' of taking
an active j)art in tlie discussion. Many ditli-
culties were tlirown in liis way, hut Ids indomit-
able persistence overcame them all.

It was finally agreed that the disputation
sliould !)c held at Leipzig, Ixginning June 'iTth.
This city, convenitiitly 1(m ;itcd and famed for its
University, was in itsilf a suital>Ie place for such
a tournament; hut the sentiment of tlu" stu(h'nts
and burghers was stronglv with the dominant
( oC. )


party, not only on the score of doctrine, but l»e-
< ausc of the jealousy with which the new Uni-
versity at Wittenherj: was rciranlcd.

The last of the thesis ])nn)osc(l Ijy Eck contro-
vertetl a ])«»sition wiiich only Luther had darc(l to
assume, and from which even C'arlstadt shrank
liack in dread, namely, that the supreme j»(»\ver
wielded hy the Pope did not rest upon divine
right, but was the result of a j)urely human
arran«(ement. The introduction of this subject
into the controversy, intended by Eck to form the
climax of the debate and to concentrate upon his
op})(»ni'nt the whole power of the Papacy, whose
very foundations were thus assailed, compelled
Luther to make a thorough investipition of the
oriL'in of the jiapal power. He read over the
wln)le series of the "decretals" issued by the
popes, and on March 13th, only ten days after his
submissive letter to Leo, amazed at the violence
done to the Scrii)tures by these supposed infallildc
utterances, he wrote to a friend that he was un-
able to decide whether the Pope is Antichrist him-
self or only his apostle, lie was at lirst tempted
to withhold the discoveries thus made forcfTective
use in the a]»j)roachin<j: debate, but, his desire for
tlie dissemination of the truth overconiin}^ his
]>rudence, lie published in advance a series of
ariruments apiinst the accepted teachin<r U]^on this
]»oint, and presented his own broad conception
of the Church, as embracinpj all true believers,
and as dependent for its existence and authority
upon no form of outward orL^anization whatsoever.

This was by far the most radical ])osition
which he had yet assumed, and for the time be-
in;; it absorbed all the interest of the opposing
parties. The final decision ujton all ])oints of
doctrine had been hitherto supposed to lie with


the visiMo liond of the Chiiuli, Fittinp as the
Vicar of Clirist in the chair of St. Peter at Koine.
If, now, it could l)e slwiNvn that tlie ( laims of the
Pope ucre witht»ut the sanction of tlie Serij>ture,
or even of Instory, the way would appear to he
open for the unsettling of confidence in the
Church itself, and men would ask hy what
authority, then, truth could ever be cstahlished.
It was l»ut jrradually that Luther himself aban-
doned the idea of findinjx somewhere an external
tribunal for the final determination of vital fjues-
tions of doctrine. Finding the Po])es so sadly un-
reliable, he yet cherisliecl the idea that a general
council representing; the whole Church, although
n<'t ill itself infallible, would always be i)reservcd
from error in doctrine, and lienee the contidiiice
with which he had himself aj>}»ealed to such
a tribunal.

The coming disputation was looked forward
to by both jtarties with the keenest interest. It
was to be a great occasion for Leipzig. Kck was
on hand several days in advance. Carlstadt
entere<l, with Luther and ^blanelitbon, on June
24th, accom])anied by two liumlred \\'ittcnberg
students armed with swords and halberds. From
every direction came j^rofessors and students,
monks an<l tradesmen. A number of the followers
of IIuss, from liohemia, eager to see and lu^ir the
brave man who seemed to them about to a.'^sume
the work of their slain leader, ventured to j»rcss in
with the great throng. A large hall in the palace
had been gorgeously decorated by onlcr of l)uke
(ieorgc, wh<» himself watchctl the )»roceedings with
deep sr»licitude.

Luther and his frimds desired that the entire
discussion !»<• taken down by competent notaries,
in order that there might be no misunderstanding

rri'.LIC DKHATE. 59

or misropresontations. To this Eck ol)JLH.'tL'(l, Imt
he was liiially ovi'irulcil. Ho was more successful
ill the clenian<l, in which lie was supi>orte(l by
Duke (JeorL'O, that the whole |)rocee(liii<;s be
afterward submitted to some prominent uni-
versity, whose tlieolo;;ians should decide which
|)arty wiis victorious. Luther, (Ui the ccmtrary,
desired to submit the case to the judgment of the
Church at lari;e. It will be oljserved that he was
tlius far in advance of his age in his confident
appeal to eiiliixhtcnt'd ])ul>lii' (>[>ini()n.

Tlir proceedings began on the a])pointi'd <lay
witli an opriiiim adihcss in the hall of tlie I'lii-
versity, a solemn mass in St. Thomas' church, and
a grand ]>roeession of citizens, students and
stran<rers, with ilarin*^ banners and Mare of
trumpets, to the scene of conflict.

Four days were consumed by Eck and Carl-
stadt in a fruitless discussion of the relations be-
tween the divine sovereignity and the free will of
man, in which the superior adroitness and
scholastic erudition of the former «iave him a great
advantage. lUit little interest was manifested by
the spectators until July 4th, when the real
(•hami)ion of the new doctrines stood face to face
with his now exultant antagonist.

A graphic j)ortraiture of the two men from the
])en of an eye-witness, Mosellanus, has fortunately
l>een ])reserved. Luther is described as of
morlerate stature, his body worn by care and
study. Yet he is apj)arently in the strength of
early manhood. Ilis voice is clear and penetrat-
ing. He has a well-stored and ready memory,
and is lluent in speech but needlessly caustic at
times. In social intercourse he is affable, viva-
cious and witty. He ap])eared during the contro-
versy always at his ease, and his countenance,


evon undtT the fiercest attacks of liis assailant,
wius composed ami cluHrful. lie coininoiily luld
a hunch of lh>\vers in his hand, with whose fra-
grance he frequently rei:aled hinisrlf, to the appar-
ent (Hsioniliture of his enemies.

Eck, on tlie contrary, was of j)Owerful physiipie,
with a full, deep voice. The features of his coun-
tenance sujjpested tlie meat-shop rather than the
theologian's chair. His memory was remarkahle,
hut lie was neither ipiick in apprehension nor
clear in judgment. lie would heap »|Uotation
upon quotation from the Church Fathers and
scholastic teachers, without regard to order «>r
relevancy to the matter in hand, his a])j)art nt
ohject heing to astound the hearer with an empty
show of learning. When hard pressed, he did
not hesitate to shift his ground and claim the
position of his assailant as his own. To an ad-
mirer of the Ingolstadt champion, on the con-
trary, he appears as a veritahle Hector, hold as a
lion, guarding the citadel of the Church's faith,
his (juiver full of thunderholts for the extermina-
tion of the W'itteiihergers.

For four days the discussion hetween Kck and
Luther was confined to the crucial (piestion of the
divine right of the papal supremacy. Fek
claimed that the divine ideal of government hail
always heeii a monan hy — that heaven itself is a
monarchy, and that Christ can have istahlished
His kingdom on earth in no other form. Luther
easily met this argument hy pointing out that the
Church is indeed a monarchy, hut that Christ
Himself is its only Head, and that otherwise the
Church would he a headless hody w henever a j)ope
dies. The (»j)posin^ interj)retations of the pas-
sage in Matthew concerning the rock upon whicli
Christ declared tliat He wouM huiM His Church


were PUj>port«Ml upon hoth sidos hy almndant
« I notations from the j;roat teachers of the Church.
In maintaining' that the su]»remacy of the Tope
was a mo(UTn idea, Lnther (piotcd from tlie (ireek
Fathers and from ('y]>rian. An.Lnistine, the Conncil
««f Nice, etc.; hut wh«n l^ck cited St. IJernard, for
whom Lnther was known to liavea special rej^ard,
the latter, undismayecl, appealed from Ht-rnard,
and all human authorities, to the Scriptures
rpon a reference hy Luther to the indrjKndcnt
jtosition of the Eastern Church, Kck passionat«ly
declared that all the (Ireeks who refused alle;^dance
to Home were heretics, a view which Luther pro-
nounced utterly shanu^ful.

The critical point of the discussion was reached
when Kck declared that among the doctrines of
I hiss, condenmed as heretical hy the Council of
Constance, were those now heing maintained hy
Luther. This was a masterly stroke of dialectic
jiuliey. The Condemnation of IIuss met with the
approval of the great mass of the German j)eoi)le,
and his Bohemian followers were regarded with
the greatest ahhorrence as schismatics and heretics,
a prejudice which Luther himself still largely
shared. Yet the facts oi the case were as stated
hy E.k. What should Luther do? Pvight hravely
does he meet the issue, declaring that among
the j)roi)ositions of IIuss condenmed at Constance
were some that were thoroughly Christian and
evangelical, particularly those concerning the
nature of the Church and the primacy. Eagerly
does his adversary seize ui)on this hold assertion
as indicating contempt for the solemn declaration
of a great Council. Cnwilling to appear in this
light, and strongly Itound hy his own life-long
reverence for the decisions of such a general repr<'-
sentative hody of the Church, Luther tried in


every possible way to defeml the Council from the
charge of error, hut linally referred this phase of
the (juestinn hack to Kek, stoutly inaintaininj^
that, at all event**, these propositions of IIuss anil
his own were true and confirmed hy the hi^diest
of all authorities, the Sacred Scriptures.

The discussion of other doctrines which fol-
lowed constantly drifted hack to this ahsorhin;:
question of the final source of authority in the
Church. In refusing to recnuMii/.f tlie Second
Hook of Maccahccs, Luther foun<l himself ai^ain in
open conlliit with the Chunh, an<l upon theijues-
tion of pur<;atory he was compelled to face the
clear declaration of anoth(*r Council, that of Flor-
ence, held in 1438. In Ixitli cases, he calmly
maintained his groun<l.

On July 14th', Lutlier yicMed liis place to Carl-
stadt, whose privilei^e it was to have the linal word
U{)on the side of the Reformers, an«l after a day
or two the disputation was hrou«:ht to a hurried
close. Luther returned to his work. K( k re-
mained for nine days in Leijizij^ as the honored
guest of the city, everywhere greeted as victor and
loaded with honors. The Universities of Paris
and Krfurt, to which the reports of the trans-
actions were referred, refused, upon various
grounds, to render any decision.

The great conflict from which so much had heen
expected appeare(l to have heen fruitless. Me-
lanchthon, Mosellanus and others greatly depre-
cated the unseemly strife as not calculated tx)
promote the interests of true ])iety. Much good
was' however accomplished hy the great interest
awakened in many earnest minds.

Hut important nsults were at once manifest in
th«' iiitlneiiceof tin- discussion upon the two chief
champions. Kck ftdlowed up his supposed


triumph with rcU^ntloss ent'rpy. IIo attempted
l>y thitterv of C'arlstadt to win him from the suj)-
port of Luther. \lv wrote to the Kkrtor Fred-
critk, expressiujr re«;ret tluit he had hecn com-
pelled to administer sueh a erushin*^ defeat to a
memher of the hitter's university, and admonish-
in*; him to hum all the hooks of tlie reckless pro-
fessor ujion one hea{). To Rome he sent a full
report of Ids great achievement, and urp<'d the
Tope to j»rocee<l vigorously in the prose<ution of
the heretic. In short, we must from this time
onward regard Kek as Luther's most bitter

Luther declared tt) his friends that he had never
heen so shamefully treated as at Leipzig. He
had learned to regard p]ck with contem|»t for Ins
vanity and du])licity. He was disgusted with the
general course of the Dis]Hitation, declaring that
it had a had heginning and a worse endini^ With
only one feature of it was he satislied, namely, the
comparatively full di.^cussion of the grounds of
the ]»a]>al auihority. By this he had heen diiv. u
to the clearest conviction that even the general
councils were unreliable and to take his stand
-imply u|)on the unassailahle testimony of the
Divine ^\'ord itself. This conviction in the mind
of Luther gave a new direction to his energies
and exerted an incalculahle inlluencc upon the
course of events. It was the great achievement of
the Leipzig Dihputatiun.



The encounter at Leipzig gerved to fix tlic
gaze of multitudes anew upon Lutlier. It
proved that he could not only assail the great
errors of tlie day in written j)ropositions, l»ut that
he could h(»ld liis own in free discussion with tlie
foremost (U'l>ater in (ierinany. The very to])ie
whicli Eek liad so shrewdly introduced in order
to entra]) his anta«:onist, /. r. , the supremacy of
the I'ope, prove<l most fruitful in lea(Hng the Re-
former to an advanced j)osition of hostihty against
thefundamental principleof the Romish hierarchy.
Tlie hattle evidently was not yet closed, hut the
pale Wittcnherg professor now stood forth to the
view of the world as a ^va^^io^ fully armed and
eager for the fray.

During the three years which followed, he was
never without an assailant, and the heaping of
maledictions U]>on his name was considered the
surest way to ecclesiastical jtrefernu nt.

In April, 151.S, a large convention of Fran-
ciscan Monks, held at Jiiterhog, drew up formal
charges against him to he laid hefori' the liishop
of Rrandenhurg. accusing him, in coarse terms, of
heresy upon eight articles of the Catholic faith.
Luther rehuk<*(l their presumption and threatened
to exjjose their ignorance if the (jfrence win- re-
peatecl, l)ut not until Kck had rushe«l to their de-
fence did he deign to make a formal reply to the
slanderous attack.

Jerome Emser, a friend of Kck, who had heen


present at the Lcijizi*: Disputation, jjulilished
wliat purjH)rt((l to l)e a frii-ndly dcfrnce of Luther
a^rainst the suspicions of synijiatliy with tlie Bohe-
mians awakened l»y his championship of certain
propositions of John lluss. It was really a
treacherous attempt to brin<j: upon Luther all the
odium attachin*^ to the very name of the Bolic-
mians in the minds of the common jieople. The
coat-of-arms of Kmser, an ihex, was ])rinted upon
the title pa;je. The malice and hy]H)crisy of the
j)uhlication aroused in Luther the intensest indi<^-
nation, and lie replied with lierci' denunciation in

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Online LibraryCharles Ebert HayLuther, the reformer → online text (page 4 of 14)