« PreviousContinue »
other remedy, most dread sovereign, than mean proof of the extent and energy that the word of God be purely taught, of that effusion of the grace of the of life ; for in the true worshipping of God Holy Spirit of which we are now all our safety consists.' Adverting to the speaking. points which had been agreed upon, and “The rays of evangelical truth, it ap. to the injunctions given at Ratisbon to the pears, had also penetrated into Italy, and bishops to reform the abuses in their even to the very heart of the papal domichurches, they add: • Wherefore we nions; and we find at this time a remarkhumbly beseech your majesty to give able address in favour of Reformation, made command that the Gospel be purely taught, by some distinguished citizens of Bologna, especially that point of doctrine which re- to John Planitz, the elector's ambassador lates to justification that our sins are at the court of the emperor, then held in pardoned through Christ alone; in the that city. The design of the address was, next place, that men be exhorted to the to entreat Planitz most seriously to urge practice of charity and good works, which the emperor to procure a council
, which are the fruits and evidences of faith; that the addressers hoped might lead to some they be made afraid of sin ;...that those reformation in religion,-an object most who desire it be permitted to have the earnestly desired by many pious, learned, Lord's supper administered to them ac- and honourable persons in the first cities cording to the custom of the primitive of Italy, and even in Rome itself.' They church; that the bishops be required to spoke for themselves in the most unequireform abuses, and to appoint able mini- vocal, and at the same tine in the most sters to instruct the people, and not to humble, language. They congratulated the turn out sound preachers, as they have deliverance of Saxony from the tyranny of hitherto done.' Many churches, they antichristian superstition, and applauded stated,' were now altogether destitute; the elector's zeal for extending the like whence it came to pass, that the common liberty of the Gospel to other countries. sort of people were with difficulty kept They trusted that, at all events, the pope from wholly degenerating into paganism. might be so far prevailed upon, that it * We therefore, they conclude, humbly might no longer be esteemed beretical for pray your majesty, not to be wanting to us either priests or laymeu to purchase the in so pious and necessary a causc. And Scriptures, or a proof of Lutheranism to let not your majesty think that we so im- quote sometimes the words of Christ or of portunately beg this, that we may thereby St. Paul. This, they say, “is at present have greater liberty, or because we are the case: and what is the reign of Antigiven to change: for we acknowledge that christ, if this is not ?' They entreat the our salvation rests only upon Christ; that ambassador to leave no means untried, the knowledge of the Gospel is to be that his mission into Italy might not prove adorned with holiness of living; and that to have been in vain, and that their hopes we are bound to obey and serve your ma. might not issue in disappointment. For jesty with our lives and fortunes.'
pp. their own part, they promise to contribute 312-314.
their utmost endeavours, even though they Upon such a document, well may should sacrifice their fortunes and their our author say,
lives in the cause of Christ.” pp. 173, 174. “ England could not at this period have
We are inclined to think that the furuished a proceeding comparable to the next reflection arising in the mind petition of the nobles of Austria :' yet of an intelligent reader of this vowhat is the religious state of Austria to lume would regard the admirable this day; and what has been that of Great talents and characters of the chief Britain
almost from that era to the present time!" p. 315.
reformers, and especially of Luther. And here we cannot refuse our- The consideration of the providential selves the mournful pleasure of quot- goodness of God, and of the effusion ing a passage relating to Italy itself, of his Holy Spirit, leads us naturally the very seat of the antichristian to the character of the reformers, in corruption: we say mournful, be. which both were conspicuous,-S0 cause, as in the case of Austria, conspicuous that we seem to mark hopeful beginnings blighted are a in every step of their history the source of sorrow to every benevolent traces of a more than human guidheart. But that the strong holds of ance and support. Men, indeed, the Papacy should have at all felt the reformers were, “subject to the
power of Divine truth so early like passions as we are," as we shall as the year 1533, for such is the have occasion to notice hereafter ; date of the following extract, is no but, taking a view of their whole
characters, they were men of most his disinterestedness, his almost inextraordinary elevation of piety; tuitive discernment in difficult cir. men taught in the school and dis- cumstances, his decision and promptcipline of painful but unerring ex- ness in the execution of his designs, perience ; who had seen with their his undaunted boldness both in own eyes, and heard with their ears, speaking and "writing, his consumthe abominations of Popery; who mate. prudence in the conduct of had laboured long in the conflicts practical concerns, all place him in of conscience with the holy law and the highest order of uninspired schemes of human merit; who, when teachers. And when we consider they attained the full light of the that these various endowments were grace of Christ, in the propitiation united in him with extreme tenderof his death and the power of his ness of conscience, trembling humiSpirit, spake of the discovery with a lity before God, profound submission lively and energetic simplicity and to the authority of Scripture, a clear freshness of perception, living every perception and avowal of all the hour by the faith of the Son of great doctrines of the Gospel, and a God," and supported in all their most judicious abstinence, speaking troubles and sufferings by the holy generally, from subordinate and less peace and consolation of a free jus- vital controversies, we cannot cease tification through his vicarious and from admiring the grace of God all-sufficient sacrifice.
apparent in him. In the following Then they were men of extraordi. extracts, let our readers observe, nary natural and acquired endow- first, his characteristic intrepidity ments, with powers of mind, dili- on great occasions, when even his gence, faculties for defending and warmest friends began to shrink communicating truth, energy of from the unequal conflict. W hata character, fortitude, patience, humi- noble boldness and constancy in his lity, perseverance, magnanimity, all address to Melancthon! sustained by sound learning and commanding powers of persuasion, consumed. It is not the greatness of
“I hate these cares with which you are which have rarely been combined. cause, but the greatness of our unbelief
Their variety of talents also great that occasions them. The cause was more ly increased the general efficacy of arduous in the times of Huss, and many their labours. The mildness, and its Author and Conductor is great: for it is learning, and love of peace, in Me- not our's. If we are wrong, let us recant: lancthon were finely contrasted with but, if right, why do we make him a liar the greatness of mind and lion-like in his promises, who has bid us be of a courage of Luther. Each increased philosophy, not your theology, that dis
composed and cheerful mind. It is your the excellencies, whilst each mode- quiets you and your friend Joachim (Carated the failings, of the other. In merarius), who seems to suffer with you likemanner, Bugenhagius, Pontanus,
under the same disease...... What worse Bucer, Zuinglius, Ecolampadius, As to the cause itself, (
whether it be in.
can the devil do to us, than kill us ?.... endowed with varying gifts, but ani- sensibility or courage, I leave it to Christ mated with the same spirit, contri. to judge,) I feel little disquiet about it: buted far more to the correction of nay I have better hopes of it than I exmutual defects and the energetic re to support it, others will be. If the danger
pected to entertain. If we are not worthy sult of their common labours, than if increases, I shall scarcely be restrained they had been all of the same cast from flying to you, that I may behold the of character.;
formidable display of satan's teeth.”—PP. But it is the wonderful combina
70, 71. tien of virtues and graces in the Again, in his conference with great leader bimself, on which our Vergerio the popish agent, what ease, attention is most irresistibly fixed. and yet dignity, what skill and couTlue gigantic powers of Luther, his rage are apparent; not without some magnanimity in seasons of danger, traits of that natural humour which
sometimes we know betrayed him
See that you be ready for the council." into imprudences of expression.
• I will come,' replied Luther, with my
life in my hand. pp. 207–210. “ Vergerio came to Wittemberg on the evening of November 6, 1535, with a splen- Once more, when the lamentable did retinue, and was conducted to the enthusiasm of the Anabaptists at castle with all due honour by the provincial Munster and the fanaticism of the governor. The next morning Luther sent for his barber at an early hour, and told him false prophets seemed to threaten he was summoned to attend the nuncio the whole Reformation with conof his holiness the pope, and he would by fusion; when Melancthon, the court no means go in dishabille ; for he wished of Saxony, the elector and the to look young, that his enemies might think university were incapable of deterhe had a long time yet to live. He then put on his best suit, and a golden orna. mining how to act ; with what in. ment (a present from the elector) about tuition did Luther seize the true his neck, and remarked, when his attend- bearings of the question, and how way in which we must deal with these quickly did his calm but authori. foxes and serpents.' Then getting into tative decisions restore the infant a chariot which had been sent for him churches to peace and security ! from the castle, accompanied by Bugen- The accounts principally fall within hagius, he said, "Here
go the pope of Ger- the period preceding that embraced introduced, he conversed with the nuncio, by this volume; but a brief note among other things, on the subject of the from Mr. Scott gives a lively and council
. He said, it was not seriously characteristic impression of Luther's proposed; the pope did but play with them; and, if it were held, it would busy most decisive view of the case. itself only about trifles, such as tonsures “ Luther's observation upon this illand vestments, and not upon faith, and contrived farce at Munster' was, that it justification, and bringing Christians to the was the work of some raw unpractised unity of the Spirit and of doctrine; for this devil;' and that they had great reason to be would not suit their purpose. He added, thankful that ' a devil of greater parts and that he and his friends felt such assurance knowledge—one that understood law and of what they believed, as not to need the divinity,' was not let forth against them. determination of a council, though others He contended, however, that the way to might do it, who groaned under the op- preserve or reclaim men from such delupression of men who did not themselves sions was, to enlighten their minds by the know what they believed. • But,' said he, word of God, and not to withhold that
call your council; God willing, I will at- word from them, as some would have tend it, though I should be burned by it.' done. Sleid. 199, 200," p. 184. Vergerio asked where he would have it held. “Where you please,' he replied;
So when a reform was pretended at Mantua, at Padua, at Florence, or any to be instituted by the court of where else.' Vergerio asked, was he wil- Rome herself, and a report of evils ling it should be at Bologna ? He inquired to be remedied was made, the disto whom that city then belonged ; and on being told, “To the pope,"Gracious Hea cernment and boldness of Luther ven,"
he exclaimed, ' has the pope seized that at once exposed the hollowness of place too?-Well, I will come even thither.' the design to the just aversion of The nuncio, in a courtier-like manner, said mankind -- and that by a single something of the pope's visiting Wittem- stroke. We do not, however, proberg. Let him come,' said Luther, 'we shall be glad to see him. But," said fess ourselves admirers of such picVergerio, would you have him come with torial satires; or of any thing unan army, or unattended ?'. As he pleases,' necessarily galling to an opponent. replied Luther; 'we shall be ready for him either way.' The nuncio then inquired
These weapons belong rather to the whether the ministers in Saxony were community of the world, than to consecrated. Luther replied, 'Certainly; that warfare which is not carnal, as the pope will not consecrate them for and whose arms are faith and prayer, us, here sits a bishop' (pointing to Pome- and love, and forbearance. ranus) whom we have consecrated.' • Much more conversation,' says the au- “. In Luther's book, a man need only thor of the narrative, passed between look on the cut in the frontispiece, to un them, in wbich Luther fully explained his derstand his argument; for the pope is. views, with the utmost freedom, and even, represented sitting upon a high throne, where the case required, with sharpness of and several of the cardinals about him, remark.' On taking leave, Vergerio said, who, with foxes' tails tied at the end of poles, are busily employed in brushing behind; but may you be the survivor. So away the cobwebs all around.'” p. 200. I ask, and such is my will, and let my will
But to turn to another feature be done. Amen! I say this because my in the character of Luther, let the will is directed to the glory of God, and tenderness of his heart, and the
not to my own pleasure.-Again farewel!
we pray for you from our inmost souls, depth of his piety, be estimated by and are greatly afflicted at your illness.'such a letter as the following: Myconius recovered, and survived Luther, “To Cordatus, on the death of his son.
which he attributed to Luther's prayers. “ Grace and peace to you in Christ. He said the effect of Luther's letter was May he comfort you, my dear Cordatus, such, that in reading it he seemed to hear under your present affliction ! for who the voice of Christ saying, Lazarus, else can assuage your grief? I can easily come forth?” pp. 335, 336. enter into all you write, for I know the heart of a father, and that an event of this the character of Luther have been,
Numerous as these citations on kind pierces it more keenly than a twoedged sword. But you should think it we must add to them one more, in no wonder, if He, who is more truly and order to present our readers with properly his father, than you are, chose the closing scene of his life. The. have your child, nay let me say his child, account is from an eye-witness, with himself, than with you. He is more
Justus Jonas, first rector of the safe there than he could be here.—But I university at Wittemberg, and afteram sensible that it is in vain to urge wards superintendant at Halle, and these considerations, under the anguish of a recent stroke. I will allow you then
was committed to writing within an for the present to grieve : greater and hour after the death which it rebetter men than we have done it, and cords. been blameless. -No doubt it will be beneficial for you to have undergone a trial
“On that day, February 17, 1546, his of this kind also, and to have felt the friends, perceiving more repose to be deworkings of conscience under it, that you sirable for him, persuaded him to keep may experimentally know the
power of quiet in his study; which he did, frethe word and of faith, which is discovered quently walking up and down, in an unin such cireumstances. -Salute the part- dress, but conversing with animation. ner of your sorrows. Still let your joy in
• From time to time,' says Justus Jonas, a living Saviour surpass your grief for a he would stop, and looking out at the deceased son or rather a son still living, window, in that attitude (as his custom though withdrawn from you. My wife was) address fervent prayers to God, so and all our family desire to be remem
that I and Colius, who were in the bered to you. 2 April, 1530.” p. 559.
room with him, could not but perceive it: The surprising influence which and then he would say, • I was born and the reformer acquired over the minds remain or even die here?' Another of
baptized here at Eisleben ; what if I should of his friends may appear less won- his friends, Razeberg, the elector's phyderful, and yet the powerful effect sician, has preserved one of the prayers
, of his letter to Myconius when ap- while walking up and down in his study: parently on the point of death, It is in the following terms-principally must be allowed to be quite extra- referring to the religious interests of his ordinary-though perhaps not much native country: O Lord God, heavenly more so than the holy love to the Father, I call upon thee in the name of Saviour, and the ardent desires after shy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ,
imploring that, according to thy promise, heaven which the letter breathes.
and for the glory of thy name, thou would "I beg and implore of the Lord Jesus, est graciously hear the prayers which I who is our life, our health, and our salva- offer up unto thee, beseeching thee that, tion, that he would not permit such an as thou hast of thy mercy and boundless addition to be made to what I suffer, as goodness, discovered to me the great that I should see you or any of my com- apostasy and blindness of the pope before rades break through the veil and enter into the day of thy last advent, which is at Test, leaving me here behind in the midst hand, and is to succeed that diffusion of of demons. I pray the Lord to make me the light of the Gospel which now dawns sick instead of you, and to suffer me to upon the world ; so thou wouldest gralay down the tabernacle of an exhausted ciously preserve the church of my beloved and useless body which has done its country in the acknowledgment of the work. And again, at the close of his truth, and the unwavering confession of letter & Farewel, my dear Frederick; thy uncorrupted word, without failing, may the Lord never permit me to hear of even to the end, that the whole world your taking your passage, while I remain may know that thou hast sent me for
this very purpose. Even so, 'O' most father, you die in the constant confession blessed Lord God! Amen and amen!” of Christ and his doctrine, which you have
“ Before supper he had complained of preached ?''he distinctly answered, · Yes,' a pain in the chest, to which he was sub- and spoke no more ; but, about a quarter ject. It was, however, relieved by warm of an hour afterwards, between two and applications. After supper, it returned; three o'clock in the morning, with his but he would not bave medical aid called hands clasped together, and without a in, but about nine o'clock lay down on a finger or a feature being disturbed, gently couch and fell asleep: He awoke as the breathed his last." pp. 474–477. clock struck ten, and desired that those about him would retire to rest. When On such a narrative we make not led into his chamber he said, I rest with God;' and repeated the words
one word of comment : it speaks for of the Psalm, Into thy hands I commend
itself. my spirit, &c:' and, stretching out his We proceed to a fourth topic, il. hand to bid all good night, he added, lustrating these historical records: • Pray for the cause of God. He then the moderation and wisdom united went to bed : but about one o'clock he awoke Jonas and another who slept in with zeal, which appeared in the the room with him, desired that a fire conduct of the Reformation. The might be made in his study, and exclaim- boldness indeed, and courage dised, Oh God! how ill I am!. I suffer played by the reformers under dreadful oppression in my chest : I shall certainly die at Eisleben!'-He then re- difficulties of the most formidable moved into his study without requiring kind, and in a cause infinitely moassistance, and again repeating, · Into thy mentous, have been noticed, and hands I commend my spirit! He walked backwards and forwards, and desired co
can scarcely be too highly comhave warm cloths brought him. In the mended : bad a less measure of mean time his physicians were sent for, unbending fortitude been exhibited, as also count Albert, who presently came the interests of theGospel might have with his countess. All Luther's friends been crushed almost as soon as they and his sons were now collected about him : medicines were given him, and he were known. But we now proceed seemed somewhat relieved ; and having to advert to what is not less remarklain down on a couch he fell into a per- able, the moderation and prudence spiration. This gave encouragement to some present : but he said, "It is a cold which for the most part governed sweat, the forerunner of death : I shall the conduct of the Reformation yield up my spirit.' He then began to a prudence which scarcely ever pray, nearly in these words: eternal failed in the seasons of delicacy and merciful God, my heavenly Father
; and perplexity. Luther, the chief of all consolation! I thank thee that thou leader for the first thirty years, was hast revealed to me thy Son Jesus Christ; ardent, bold, uncompromising, hain whom I have believed, whom I have zardous, especially in the first declapreached, whom I have confessed, whom ration of his opinion on any case of I love and worship as my dear Saviour and Redeemer, whom the pope and the multi- flagrant injustice or oppression; but tude of the ungodly do persecute, revile, and when he came to settle a doctrine, or blaspheme. I beseech thee, my Lord Jesus to reason in an argumentative trea. Christ, receive my soul ! heavenly tise, or to act in the practical detail Father, though I be snatched out of this life, though I must now lay down this of affairs, there appeared in him a body, yet know I assuredly that I shall holy wisdom and deliberation which dwell with thee for ever, and that none have seldom been exceeded. Percan pluck me out of thy hands ! -He haps no man was ever farther from then thrice again repeated the words - Into thy hands I commend my spirit! Thou enthusiasm. The other reformers hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth!' were of the same temper. Some Also those words, God so loved the of them, especially Melancthon, world, that he gave his only begotten Son, rather leaned too much to the that whosoever believeth in him should
But all not perish, but have everlasting life:' and cautious, retiring side. that verse of the sixty-eighth Psalm, 'Our seemed to have that native good God is the God of whom cometh salva- sense connected with a tender contion: God is the Lord by whom we es- science and habits of practical cape death. He then became silent, and his powers began to fail him : but, when wisdom, which gave them great several present addressed him, “Reverend caution in conduct and a consum