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a tract entitU'd, To Kinsrr, the (loat, proposing; to
Inmt down this impertinent l)east. Emser re-
j)lied with coarse slander, calling Luther a dog,
and Eck soon came to his assistance with caustic
comments uj)on Luther's ridiculous chase, declar-
ing that the latter, with only a few ignorant lay-
men in his foll<>wing, was attemj>ting to over-
whelm the whole body of the intelligent clergy.
Eck then set out in person for Rome, there, as
Luther said, to stir up the al)yss of the lower
worM against liim.

Within a very short period nearly all the uni-
versities of Germany and France became in-
terest<'d in the (|Uestions at issu(\ Realizing only
too well the occasion for protest against theal)Uses
of the day, yet wedded to the traditional doctrines
and dej)endent largely U])on tlu' favor of the Rom-
ish Church, they connnonly avoidiMl definite ofli-
eial utterances. In August and Sei>tend)er, 1519,
however, the universities at Cologne and Louvain
formally condemned Luther's works, and de-
manded that tiieir author be forced to a ])ublic re-
eantation. Their action was at once aj)prov(Ml by
Hadrian, of Tortosa, the chief official of the
Church in Sj)ain. Luther did not receive a copy
5



66 Ll'TIIEH, THK KKK<»1JMER.

of the (liKiiinent until \\w ftjlowing March, when
he n-pli* (1 hrictly ami srornfully.

Duke George, of Saxony, who lieforc the
Lfipziu' Disputation had hccn (lisj»osc(l to give the
new doctrines at least a fair hearing, hecanie stjon
afterward a determined opponent, and in Deceni-
ix'r, 151U, wrote to the Elector urging him to Uike
j)ronij)t measures to free himself from the re-
proach of cherishing heresy in his domains.

In January, 1520, the Bishop of Misnia is-
sued a decree condenming LuIIut's demand for a
restoration of the cup to the laity in the celehra-
tion (^f the Lord's Supj)er. This was of special
signilicance as heing the first otlicial utterance of
a (ierman hishoj) against Luther. He replied
vigorously, refusing to acknowledge the document
as genuine, attril>uting it to some suhordinate offi-
cial of the episcoj)al residence at Stolpe, and as
such condemning it.

Meanwhile a defence of "the apostolic chair"
apj>eare(l in Leipzig, written hy a Franciscan
monk, Augustine of Alveld. It was weak in
argument, and as it was written in Latin, which
only the educated could understand, Luther did
not regard it as worthy of notice until it appeare<l
in a (Jerman translation, when he j)repared, as an
antidote, a tract for the ci^nnnon |)eople setting
forth the nature of the Church as the invisihle as-
seml>ly of true holievers, all of whom are, hy virtue
of their (Christian calling, priests hefore (iod.

IjUther's ai)peal from tlie Tope and his re]>re-
sentatives to a general c(»uncil hrought out a fresh
attack from his old enemy at Rome, Prierias, in
which the latter reiterati'd his extravagant views of
the su|)reme power of the Pope. Luther scornfully
repuhlished tin* entire docununt, with a few run-
ning (omments, allowing tlie ridiculous claims of
the fanatiad j)api.st to furnish their <»wn refutation.



( Haiti:!! ix



\'i:ry ]M'(\ili:ir indeed were tlit' ]KTsonaI rdationR
of Frederick the Wise, the KIcttor of Saxony,
with his iriTpressil>It' siil)jert. Once had he heard
the latter i)reat'h. He read liis writings with deep
interest, aeeei)ted the fundamental articles of his
teaching, communicated with him frcijuently
through intermediaries, sent him ])resenti<, re-
(juested favors of him, protected him, — and yet
never met him j)ersonalIy. The foremost of the
j)rinces of Germany, ruling over a peoi>le hound
in thraldom to the existing Church, j)rovidentially
placed in a ])osition t(M'onimand the greatest con-
sideration for his wishes at tlie hand of hoth Pope
and Emperor, he could serve Luther and the
cause of evangelical liherty hest hy refraining from
puhlic demonstrations of sympathy, and simply
demanding an ojien hearing and fair treatment for
the reputed heretic. Luther aj)])reciated the
measure of favor thus granted him and asked no
more. He trusted the honest heart of his sover-
eign, hut never depended uj)on him for actual
protection against his enemies. In the hour of
greatest ])eril, he regarded himself rather as the
protect<^)r of his ])rince.

A few weeks heforcthe Leii)zig Disputation, the
University of Wittenherg had welcomed as ]>r<>-
fessor of aiu-ieiit languages, etc., a young man of
reiii.irkahle attainments in scholarship, Philip
Melanchthon He was the direct eounteri>art of
Luther in physical and mental endowments, but
(07)



68 LUTHEK, THE UKFORMEK.

of an t'fiiially «arnest and trnth-loving teni]KT.
Kacli at iiwcv n'cn«:nizt'<l in the otliur tlu' (jualitics
ncnltMl to siipplcnicnt liis own (letkiencies, and a
ht'autiful friendship wius formed which endurc<l
tlirough life. The advanta^'e to Lutlier of havinj;
constantly at his right hand this (piiet and pains-
takin«; student, versfnl in the current lanj^uages nf
the (lay and in the ancient tonj^ues nf Seriptvn-e, tlie
master of a clear and flowing style in composition,
sincerely devotinl to the tlefence of the same ])rin-
ciples, cannot he overestimated. His htri Com-
luuues, forming the first systematic {jresentation of
the doctrines held hy the Reformers, was pro-
nounced hv Luther an "insi)ired" l)ook. In
Septcmher, 1519, he t(K)k a position in advance
of Luther himself in holdly declaring that the
Komisli doctrine of Transuhstantiation (or the
actual transformation of the elements in the
Lord's Sup|»er into the hody and hloinl of Christ)
was entirely without scrijjtural warrant. From
this time forward Melanchthon clung to Luther,
ren<hring suhstantial and timely aid in many a
conflict.

The hold spirit (»f the Uef(>rmer, seconded by
the amazing talent of his youthful e(»-lal)or»r. en-
listed the hearty sympathy of the Humanists,
and words of encouragement flowed in upon him
from distant regions. \\'ittt'n)»erg was nrognize*!
as a centre of learning as well as of i)iety, and it
wa.s of immense importance that the " IVireptor
of (Jermany" shouhl he seen not only in hearty
accord with its chief religious teacher, hut humbly
following him as a ]>lanet follows the sun.
Luther ngoiced in all this sympathy, hut never
for a moment accommo<lated his own earnest
jiractieal spirit to the trifling and worldly temper
which marked the leaders of the Humanistic



FRIENDS. NKW AM) oLI). 69

niovrnient. I'liless inspirrd with stiin«'tliiii«,' of
liis rt4ij;ious fervor, they could not wiilk very f:ir
ill his c-onijumy. With him, l«ari)iii<^ must he
tlie han(hnai(l of reh^'ion.

The hirixe dcmaml for the writings of Lutlier,
hoth in their ori<;inal form and in transhxtions, in
France, Knirland and Sj)ain, attrstcd the rapid in-
rnase in tlie numher t)f his adherents among
the intelligent class of the CIn-istian worhl, and
llic t iilhusiasni ol" the tl^'on.L^^ of stu<ients at his
<»\vn University liUed him witli tlie hriLditest hopes
Inr the re«5enerati(>n of his heloved Fatherland.

The true character of John Ihiss, who had been
hurned as a heretic in 1415, now becoming known
to Luther throui^h the study of his works and in-
tercourse with i»rominent men amont? his followers,
he acknowh'd^M'd that he had himself lon<: been
t«'aclnng the doctrines of lluss without knowing
it. He, in conse(iuence, entered into the friend-
liest relations with the Christians of Bohemia,
who welcomed liim as the successor of their
lamented leader.

As the rage of his enemies increased, Lutlier
was much concerned lest his course should prove
injurious to the interests of his kind jtatron, the
I'^leetor Frederick, and he fre<piently thought of
withdrawing from Wittenberg on that account.
Yi\ \u- f.lt that he had l>.cii divinely called to the
work in which he was engaged, an<l dare not sur-
lender it without the clearest indications of the
will of (lod. He knew that he would be cordially
received in liohemia, and would there be in com-
parative safety, l)Ut his influence in Germany
would be forfeited were he to acc(«pt hospitality in
that ([uarter. Just at this junctun', two fearless
y"iin(_r ( icrnian nobles eanie to hi< aid. Ulrich von
Hutten and Francis von Sickingen. 11 utten



70 LrniKH, THE reformer.

IkkI in Ill's youth Ix'on ]»ln('<Ml in a cloistor, Init
flTrrte<l his escape from the tyranny of tlie monks.
He visite<I Koine nj)on several oeeasions and was
familiar with t]»ocorruj>ti«)n which there ])revaile(l.
Hein«: present at tlie Diet of Aup^hur^' in 1518,
and hearin}.; Cajetan's contemj)tuoiis reference to
the stupid CJennans, he resolved tx) cast aside all
considerations of prudence and devote himself en-
tirely to the work of arousing' the (ierman Nohil-
ity to an uneomj»n»misin«: resistance of the ]>roud
Italians. In l')17 he had puhlishe<l a treatise
of I>aurentius Valla, exposing the utterly fraudu-
lent eharacter of the re])uted " Donation of Con-
stantine," hy whieh that emperor was said to
have eonveyed the imperial eontrol of the western
l>ortion •»f liis domains, or the '' Roman Empire
of the (Ierman Nation," to the Pope, and whieh
was relied upon as the hasis of the ]>apal authority
in (lermany. Luther was amazed lieyond meas-
ure to discover from this document that the
hau<rhty j»ower which had for centuries heen op-
j>ressing his countrymen was founded upon a
forgery, and he set him.self at once to the tiu^k of
utterly demolishing the entire structure of the
Tapacy which had heen erected upon this sandy
foundation. Ilutton, upon his ])art, assured
Luther that he would stand hy him at all hazards.
He was imfortunately not himself in ])osition to
he of much practical service, hut he had a jM)wer-
ful ally in his friend Sickingen. The latter was a
knight of abundant nneans, a courageous warrior,
th(» po.s.sessor of several strong fortresses, and a
zealous champion of the i)olitical rights of the
(Ierman States. His attention having h«-en called
lo Luther's perilous situation, ln» in January,
I'j'JO, cordially invite«l the latter to accept his
hoHpiUility ancJ protection. The opening of this



FKIKM)?!, MOW AM) OLD. 71

iinexpoctc<l place of refuge appeared to Lutlur
providential, and greatly cncoiiraj^ed him. He
was thus enal)led to continue his l)(»ld assauhs
upon tlie i»apal ini(|uities, j>n'pan'<l at any mo-
ment to retiri' from \\'ittenl)ert,' and still prosecut(;
liis work upon (icnnan soil, sustainccl hy the very
foremost of his country's brave defenders.



rTTArTKPv x.



A TIIJELI-iiS TKN.



Aftku the Lc'ipzijr Disputation, LutluT, now
tlnnoiiixhly aroiisi'd, ami irritated l»y the false
reports circulated in ri'<:ard to tlu' course of the
'lehate, determined to carry his cause before a
wider trihunal. He tlien fore set aluait the pre-
paration of a series of Elucidations (rci<ohtti(m€s)
of the theses which he had maintained, discussing
at th(^ same time one or two important doctrines
not tlien t«Ki(hed upon, i. e., justification hy
faitli antl the im])urity of all human efforts. He
now in the stronirest terms allirmed that the Holy
Scriptures constitute the only infallil>le authority
in matters of faitli.

In the sprin»: of lolH appeared his Comment-
ary upon Galatians, as the (>ut<i:rowth of his
academic lectures. Knterinir fully into the spirit
of the apostle, he declared that this was his own
ej)istle — that he was wedded to it. It siH'nied to
him to have Keen written exjjressly for the ]>ur-
pose of comhatini: the very errors then ]>revalent
in the Church. With i^lowinj^ earnestness, he
applied its doctrine of free «^race, and traced the
fundamental distinction Ix'tween the demands of
tlie Law and the life-pvinj; message of the (iospel.

Ahout the same time, he hej^an the j>uhlication
f a running commentary (modestly entitled,
■Lah(»rs'') upon the Psalms, seekini; thus to
deepen the spirit of true devotion and thankful-
ness among those who had heen delivered fruiu
the bondage of idle eeremonies.
(72)



A TIKHLESS PEN. 73

In Si'j)triul)(.'r, r<.r(.iviii<x word of ihr st'iious
illiu'ss of till' Kk'ctor, lie j>roj)ar(Hl, as a inessage
of comfort which ini^^lit j)rove tinu'ly for liis
lionontl friciul and lu' hcljiful to others in similar
distress, one of the most strikinL'ly orij^nnal of his
compositions. As the snpcrstitious populace were
accustomed to call upon fourteen special saints in
time of trouhle, he desij;nates his tract Tessara-
dekas (The Fourteen), and depicts the comforts
ot the Gosi>el in view of the evils that threaten
man from seven directions, i. e., from within,
hefore, behind, heneath, to right, to left and
ahove, and then dis])lays the manifold blessings
that reach us from the same directions, last and
chi«f amon<r which is Christ Himself.

In May, 1'>L*(). aj^peand an exhaustive disser-
tation ujton "Good Works," which vividly por-
trayc<l the necessity of faith as the basis of all
Christian activity, and as the never-failing motive
lor the cheerful fulfilment of every duty devolving
upon the child of (iod. It was a complete vindi-
cation of the Evangelical doctrines against the
charge of encouraging the neglect of moral obliga-
tions. Yet how different these works of faith
from the slavish exercises by which multitudes
were vainly seeking to merit the favor of Cod!

lUit the course (»f evmts was rai>idly l»earing
the Reformer on to bolder utterances. Within
the closing months of the year lo'iO, he gave to
the j)ress the three documents which are by com-
mon consent acknowledged as his gn^atest reform-
atory ])ublications. These are entirely distinct in
character, full of life and (lurgy, and together
cover the whole Held of nee<led reformation — in
secular alTairs, in the administration of the ordi-
nances of the Churcli, and in the conce])tion of
the individual Cliristiaii life.



74 M'TIIKU, THE IlKFnKMKU.

Tho lirst of these was tlu* Address to the
Nobihty of the (lerinan Nation. Many cin inn-
stanccs had conjliiniMl to stir the national ft'cHnj^
in CJennany. T\\v pnlitical etunphcations nsuU-
ing from the constant interference of Uonum
le^'ates, their (h'niand for money to carry on tlie
supposiMl tlireatenin*; war witli tlie Tnrks. tlie
ecclesiastical taxes exacted upon all manner ai
])retexts — were holdly denounced hv many of the
most inlluential knightti of the reahn. Luther
now, impelled hy a deej)er motive to resist in
evrry way the sacrilc^nous pretensions of the
])apacy, ^'ave free sco|h' to his j)atriotic instincts.
He calls upon all the Xohlesof the land, including
the Kmi»eror himself, to recognize the sacre<lness
of their hiirh ollices, and holdly espouse the cause
of the people jiLMinst their foreipi opprt^ssors. He
notes '* three walls" of defence with which the
papists had fortified their modern Jericho: first,
the claim of se<iular supremacy; secondly, the sole
ri^ht of the Po]>e to interpret the Scriptures;
thirdly, the assertion that (►nly the Pope can call
a general council of the Church. He himself
demolish(S these walls with a few stirring hlasts
upon the trumpet of the divine \\'ord, and then
urges the Nobility to assert their (Jod-given rights,
summon a general council, and address themselves
in earnest to the work of reformation. He th^n
j»resents a catalogue of crying ]>olitical and social
ahuses of the <lay, denouncing them in {ho scath-
ing languag«> of intens(»st ])assion. The cfTeot was
ind<scril>al)le. The Address was at once the suh-
jei't of discussion in every handet. Multitutles who
cared hut little for the religious <|Uestions of the
day rallie<l around the standard of Lutlier. hailing
him as the coming deliverer of their fatherland.

But Luther was alreadv occupied in ani»thcr



A TIKKLESS PEN. 75

(liroction. It was the Cluinli, after all, that lay
nearest to liis h<*art, and he utters a hitter lain<'ntn-
tion over the Babylonian Captivity which has
rolihed even her sacred ordinances of th<ir power
to hlcss the hnnihle followei*s of ("lirist. lie
hewails a three-fohl hondajre in which the ll««lv
Supper is held: first, the withholdinir of one-
half of the sacrament — the euji — from tlu^ laity;
siH'ondly, the ahsurd doctrine of transuhstantia-
tion; thirdly, the impigus transformation of the
simj)le feast of love into tlie saerifiec of the nias8.
The discussion here hnids liim to assail the very
f<»un<lations of thi* Roman ('ath<»lic system. Ilav-
inir heard that he is to Ix^ very shortly summont^l
to reiant, under ]>enalty (^f excomnnmication, lie
mockiuLdy ofTers this fresh assault as the beginnin<^
of his recantation.

Amid the storm of invective wliich now poured
ui>on him, and the new perils to which he was ex-
j)osed hy the publication ai the bull of exeomnni-
nication, Luther was unruflle<l in his joyous con-
fidence in Go(l. Havinir smitten the enemy, he
now tvu'ns to the more con<;enial task of dejiictini,'
the bh^sscdness of the true believer. His Lib-
erty of a Christian Man, apjKarinjr in Novem-
ber, is a })n-t<nind portraiture of the hi«;her s]»ir-
itual life which lifts above the cares of earth and
releases from slavish fear of the Law. It thus
met directly the <leepest religious longings of the
age. The author fonvarded a co])y to the Po])e,
ac<-om]>anying it with a letter expressing personal
regard for the character of Leo.

A larg<' number of tracts upon practical
themes were given to the )»ress during the years
ni»w under consideration, discussing in vigorous
(lerinan the defective and o])pressive marriage
laws, usury, private confession, preparation for



76 LITIIEH, TIIK l:KK(HiMKU.

(Icjitli, tlir projH-r iisr of tlic sacraiiu'iits, etc. A
su^jji'stinii from tlu- l']l< < tnr led t<» the jMcj.anition
ot a sirii's of jMijuilar discourses upon the peri-
copes, or ajtjtointnl scriptural nadin^s for each
Sunday in tlu- year, in which liis fervent (hvo-
tional si)irit found scope for exercise and which
attained a wide circulation.



CHAITKK Xr.



THK r.Vl'AL lU LL.



Almost t'lcvcn years liiul ('la])S('(l after the Leip-
21*1 Disputation wImmi, <m June loth, l.")2(), tlic
l(>ii<i tlinatineil Bull of Excommunication was
issued at Rtnnc. A- its prcitaiation liad Ixcn cu-
trusti'd to Luther's hitterest enemies, ineludin*^
tlie relentless Kek, it laeked nothin*,' in severity of
tone. Starting with an impious ap])cal to the
offended majesty of the Lord, it invokes His aid
and that of Peter, Paul and all the saints against
the wild l»east that has heen devastating the vine-
yard. It l»rands forty-one of his Theses as '' heret-
ical, false or ctfTensive," condemns them all, and
orders that all his hooks he })urned wherever
found. Sixty days were allowed to him and his
adherents for recantation, under penalty of final
excommunication. All faithful suhjects of the
Church, secular and ecclesiastical, are summoned
to use their utmost efforts to j)lace the person of
the stubborn heretic in the i)Ower of the Pojm\

To Eek was assigned the task (►f ])romulgating
the fateful document in (iermany; but the zealous
eiTorts of the willing emissary served liut to reveal
the amazing revulsion of feeling whicli had
already l)een effected among the once submissive
(lermans. Many, enlightened by the writings of
Luther himself, utterly denied the authority of
the Pope in the premises, (ierman patriots were
lille<l with fiery indignation at this attempt to
condemn a fellow-countryman without a hearing.
The extravagant language of the document and
(77 )



78 Ll'THKU, TIIK HKFOUMEH.

the t'inplovment of a personal enemy in its jironiul-
piition jjavi' cxiusi' for qiK-stionini^ its ;:enuiiu'i 11*88.
Tlio pi'oplf scornfully talkd it ''Kok's Hull/'
LuIIkt, in a stirring tract, sunnnono<l llii' Kinpemr
aiul i)rinc'eii to resent the impertinent presumption
of this 'MUill of Antichrist." On Nov. 17th, he
drew uj), and immediately i)ul>lish( d in Latin and
(Jernian, a renewal of his appeal to a general
council, denouneinp: the Pope as an unjust judge,
a ht rriie, an anti-Christian opponent »>f tin- Holy
Scriptures, and a despiser of the true Chun li.

It was not until Si'ptend>er that the publica-
tion of the Bull in (lermany was actually hegun,
encountering then almost universal oj)pni;ition.
Th»' j)aj»al legate, Aleander, secured autliority from
the Kmjxror for the hurningof the hooks of Luther
in the Netherlands. Luther nspnnded hy j)uh-
licly casting to the frames the l)ull, and with it
the entire hody of the papal laws, amidst the
wild jul>ilati(tn (tf the stutleiits <>f the Univei-sity.

The battle was now joined in earnest.
Luther was, indi'cd, surroimded hy friends. His
own i)rince, the Elector Frederick, though care-
fully avoiding any public endorsement of Ids
t<'a('hing, c(>uld he relied U])on to demand at least
the ordinary forms of justice in the treatment of
his loyal sul»ject; l»ut even lie could n«»t perma-
nently resist the mandate of his superiors.

^^'ith the keenest anxiety all eyes were now
turned upon the young I'anperor, Charles V.
The latter was indebted for his im})erial crown in
no small degree to the suj)i)ort of the (icrman
princes, and it was fondly hoped that, U])on
fuller information, he would ]>rove a valiant de-
fender of at lea.st tht» political rights of the op-
pressed (iermans. which now found their boldest
advocate in the monk of Wittenberg.



ClIAITKi; XII



THK in;i;<» AT \\(U:.Ms.



.\« <()i;i)iN(; to tlic ]K\\K\\ tlicnry, it was \]\v duty
of the Emperor to iisc all his power in the sup-
pression of heresy. A hull of excommunieatiou
should he followed hy the nnieh-dreaded Han of
the lMnj)irc. To secure this was now the chief
aim of the new jtapal le<:ate, the unscrui»ulous
and tireless Aleandcr.

The Emperor cared little for the reli«iious dis-
putes of the day, and had no sympathy with the
national feeling of his (Jerman suhjeet,«. Trained
as a zealous Roman Catholic in Spain, he would
under ordinary circumstances have Siicriliced
Luther without hesitancy at the hidding of the
r< »])••. He now, however, resolved to make
political capital out of the discontent of (ler-
niany. He was himself just at this juncture very
desirous of securin<^ some concessions fn^n the
l'o|)e, which the latter was little disi)osed to ;^q'ant.
Presuming that he could at any time quiet the
rising storm, he refused therefore to speak the
word of command, and even fanned the ihunv of
hostility toward the ])a|)acy.

In accordance with this ]>olicy, he on Nov.
2>>th sent a message to the Elector Frederick,
requesting him to liring his Wilteiilx ig i»rofes.-<tr
with him to tlu' Diet soon to asseml)le at Worms.
This <»rder was, however, upon the urgency of the
j»apal party, afterwards n voked.

On Feh. l.'Jth, Aleander, presented to the
l>iet an ollicial connnunication from the I'ope,



80 LlTllKK, THK KKFOlOIER,

callin.; upon tlio Kinpcror and prinros of the
realm to at oner take iiu'asurt's to make the second
and linal Jiull aj^ainst the Reformer (issue<l in
January) ofTeetive. The ap])eal was supported hy
tlie lejrate in a wily oration throe hours in len«,'th,
in whieh he traced the resemblanee of Luther's
teaehini^ to that of the hated I^)hemians, and
emphasized his reji'ction not only of the papal
supremacy, hut of the final Jiuthority of a general
e«>uncil :us well. As desii^ned, this addri'ss alien-
ated from Luther not a few who sympathized with
him in his assaults upon the papacy, hut who
still regarded the general councils as infallible and
as their only resource for the correction of griev-
ances. The Emperor, who had meanwhile se-
cured the desired favors at the hands of the I^ojjc,
expressed himself as now ready to meet the desire
of the latt-r, and accordingly laid before the Diet
the draft of an edict, condemning the books of
Lutiier and onlering his arrest.

After a heated discussion, which almost led to
l)lo\vs, it wjus reported to tlie Emperor that such
a course wouM produce disturbance throughout all
(lerraany, and lu; w;us n^iuested to allow Luther
the privilege of publicly recalling his heretical
utterances. Shoul I he do this, it was hinted that
it might be well to hear his views "upon other


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Online LibraryCharles Ebert HayLuther, the reformer → online text (page 5 of 14)