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works, about which he had hitherto contended, direct his arms at once against the centre of the system.
'My pen is in labour with far greater matters:" thus he wrote to Link in December. "I know not whence these meditations come to me; but this affair, in my mind, has not yet reached so much as its commencement -so far is it from that conclusion of which the
Rome are dreaming !”*
peers of Those meditations came to him from above. He was guided by an unseen hand through his perplexed path; and if that which seems to us his discretion was no more than a part of God's visible providence, so those events which we call accidents and mischances were no other than a more obscure operation of the same wisdom, tending by less manifest means to the same object. The very perfidy of a nameless printer advanced the work, when he hurried the publication of a document which, had it not been then published, might, as we shall presently perceive, have been suppressed altogether.
Ten days afterwards Frederick sent his answer to the letter of Gaetan-dated Altenburg, December 8, 1518enclosing likewise the reply of Luther. The Elector's epistle was short and far from flattering. He observed that he had sent Luther to Augsburg according to his promise; but that the latter, instead of receiving those paternal admonitions, which the Legate had so repeatedly held forth, had been commanded to retract; that there were many learned men, both in his own states and in universities elsewhere, to whom it did not appear that Luther's doctrine was impious, or heretical; though there were some indeed whose private and pecuniary interests were not advanced by his learned labours, and who
* "Res ista necdum habet initium suum-tantum abest ut finem sperare possint Romani proceres."
through selfishness opposed him, yet without making good the ground of their opposition ;* that, had he any real proof of the impiety of the doctrine, he should need no foreign admonition to repress it. "Wherefore we had hope not to be visited by the menace that the court of Rome would prosecute this affair, nor by the demand to send Luther to Rome, or into exile-if for no other reason, because he is not yet convicted of the crime of heresy. His expulsion too would cause much mischief to our university, which, as is well known, is a Christian body, containing many virtuous, learned and studious men. Since therefore Martin offers to submit either to the judgment of certain universities, or to a public disputation, we think such permission should be granted him, or at least that his errors should be proved in writing. For which last indeed we are ourselves especially anxious, that we may learn wherefore he should be deemed a heretic, and see clearly on what grounds we ought to act. As the matter now stands we cannot so deem and denounce him. .
There can be no doubt, from some expressions in this letter, that Frederick was much influenced to his just determination by the affection which he bore to the university of Wittemberg, which was, indeed, not only the chief ornament of his states, but also the favourite creation of his own hands. In fact he adopted the very prayer of its petition, and urged it as his own. His answer occasioned proportionate delight in that city;
* "Exceptis nonnullis, quorum rei privatæ et utilitati pecuniariæ eruditio, ejus non profuit, qui ut propria commoditati consulerent Martino sese adversarios opposuerunt, suo tamen proposito contra Martinum nondum probato." Principis D. Friderici, &c., Responsio ad Literas D. Thomæ Tituli S. Sixti Cardinalis, &c.
"Aut saltem ei ostendendos in Scriptis errores. Id quod et nos petimus, ut sciamus, &c. . Ibidem.
but to Luther it was chiefly satisfactory, because it treated with indirect contempt the spiritual despotism of the Pope; because it asserted, for its author at least, the right of private judgment, and recommended another tribunal, that of certain universities, as a sort of court of appeal from the decision already pronounced both at Rome and Augsburg.
If the avowal of these independent principles in so high a quarter increased the general confidence of Luther,* yet was he not without disquietude as to his immediate fate. The sentence was still suspended over him; day by day he was expecting it to descend; and though he braved it he feared it. The Elector's late communication contained no pledge to protect him against the papal anathema, and he continued ready for departure. On the 13th of December, five days later, he wrote to Staupitz as follows: "The prince, in his anxiety for me, would still greatly prefer that I were anywhere else than here. He has caused Spalatin to have a long conversation with me on this subject. I said, ‘If the censures come, I shall not stay here.' But he dissuaded me from setting out so hastily for France; and I am still waiting his counsel." There was, no doubt, one moment when the Elector even expressed a wish that he should withdraw from his dominions. He prepared for obedience; when he received a second communication which commanded him to remain: "As the Pope's new envoy" (were the words) "hopes that matters may be settled by a conference, do not withdraw for the present."
* Luther's expressions were— "Bone Deus! quam cum gaudio eas legi et relegi, sciens quam sint fiducia plenæ et tamen mira modestia conditæ. Id metuo ne Itali sat intelligant quod in recessum habent At hoc saltem videbunt, sese nihil adhuc eorum incepisse quæ jam consummasse sibi videbuntur." Luther to Spalatin, Dec. 20, 1518.
It was natural enough that Luther should select Paris as the place of his retirement. He was encouraged by the principles of Gerson and by the late appeal which the university had made from the Pope to a general council. He presumed that he should receive some sympathy from that learned body, and that he should propagate in security his anti-papal doctrines under its protection, or perhaps with its direct encouragement. As the experiment was not made, it would be vain to speculate on the probable result. But in my opinion his hopes would have been altogether disappointed. The principles, which that ancient and in many respects very bigoted body had found it expedient under particular circumstances to assert for itself, would not probably have been tolerated in a German and an exile; and in the vehement and despotic Francis the reformer would have learnt to regret the moderation and justice of his own sovereign. It was well I think for his cause, and perhaps for his person, that he was not compelled to exchange a field, which was peculiarly his own, for so very precarious a chance of foreign patronage.
THE MISSION OF MILTITZ.
Proceedings at Rome-opinions on Gaetan's conduct-moderate policy adopted there-new bull on indulgences-Charles Miltitz sent as Nuncio to the Elector—his character-original intention-conciliatory policy -disgrace and death of Tetzel-the Golden Rose-interviews between Miltitz and Tetzel at Altenburg-conditions there agreed on-Luther's letter of submission to the Pope-explanatory letter to Spalatinobservations on his letter to the Pope-on the sincerity of his professed humiliation-on the compromise of an evangelical doctrinehis promises and advice exactly such as would have been most beneficial to the Papacy if adopted-Luther's own view, late in life, of this negotiation-Luther summoned to Coblentz before the Archbishop of Treves-refuses to go-Miltitz, acting with Gaetan, then again calls for retractation-Luther's submissive letter receives no answer, and so the negotiations are fruitless.
WHILE these events were succeeding each other thus rapidly at Wittemberg, the court of Rome was no less active in devising schemes for the extinction of the feud. The failure of Gaetan caused great dissatisfaction at the Vatican. Some were of opinion that he ought to have seized the person of Luther before the safe-conduct was obtained. Others blamed the imprudence with which he risked his theological erudition against the deeper scriptural knowledge of the heretic; others the harshness by which he sought to intimidate, where by soothings and promises he might have won. All judged from the event. It is by no means clear that the Legate had the power, surrounded as Luther was by official friends, to carry him away to Rome. To have made so violent an attempt and failed in it would have roused all Germany to insurrection; even to have succeeded, in