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culties in repressing it to the unworthy devices and degrading compromises of the nuncio.
Having ascertained these circumstances, and perceiving how strongly the current was running against himself and his diplomacy, Miltitz abandoned at once the hopeless negotiation. His death followed almost immediately, and the story that he was drowned, while attempting to cross the Rhine in a state of intoxication, is accredited by the loose and licentious tenor of his moral habits. In recompence for his endeavours after peace, and his many ingenious expedients to close the breach between two angry parties, he reaped the harvest commonly allotted to unsuccessful mediators-the suspicion and contempt of both. The tone in which he is mentioned by Roman Catholic historians is not more insulting than that, in which Luther wrote respecting him, even while the affair was pending. Nevertheless, the principle on which his measures were conducted was founded in a deeper knowledge of the feelings of the German people and of the character of Luther than that which took its place in the deliberations of the Vatican. And had he been sent on his pacific mission some twelve months earlier, and had he been honestly supported, as he was not, by a corresponding spirit at Rome, his labours might not have been thus altogether fruitless; he might have somewhat retarded, he might have directed perhaps into some other channel, the stream of the coming Reformation;-to perform more than this was beyond the cunning of any earthly policy.
RECEPTION OF THE BULL.
Luther's address to the Emperor and German nobility; some account of this work-his tract on the Babylonish captivity-containing an inquiry into the sacraments of the Roman church-connexion between doctrinal and practical abuses—some account of Ulrich of Hütten— Epistles of Obscure Men-his misfortunes and death-of Hartmuth of Cronberg-his address to the four mendicant orders—of Francis of Sickingen-his character and death-of Sylvester of Schaumburghis offer of protection to Luther, and the use that the latter made of it -Luther to Spalatin-to the Cardinal of Santa Croce-the two letters not inconsistent-the arrival of the bull, together with a letter to Frederick-Eck the nuncio-it was rejected at Leipzig-at Erfurth-at Wittemberg-remarks on the result of Eck's labours-warning to the Pope contained in Frederick's letter to Teutleben-Hütten to the German people-Luther's position and resolution-his attack on Eck and vindication of Huss and the Bohemians-his "Confession"-his appeal to a general council justified-his tract against the Execrable bull of Antichrist-quotations-his assertion of the condemned articlesthe bull in some places received, and Luther's writings there burnttherefore Luther in his turn burns the bull and all the decretals, &c. &c. with it--he publishes his reasons for this act, instancing various heretical propositions extracted from the decretals-his address the students on the following day, exhorting them to withdraw from the church, as they valued their salvation.
THE faint departing efforts of Miltitz did not seriously divert the attention of Luther, nor blind him for one moment to his real position. He saw that he was on the eve of a mortal struggle, which no stratagems could avert, and he was not remiss in preparing for it. Towards the end of June he published an address to the Emperor and the German nobility, on the Improvement of the Christian Condition; and, to give it full efficacy among
his compatriots, he published it in German. In this composition he directed his arguments principally against the external system of the church, and assailed the foundations of its despotism. After an eloquent exordium, in which he warned those potentates by historical example and holy admonition to distrust their own powers and place their confidence in God-"The Romanists” (he observed)" have built three walls around them. First, they say, that the secular power has no control over them, since the spiritual is above the secular. Secondly, they resolve to inflict punishment on those who may oppose them on scriptural grounds, under the plea that it belongs to no one to interpret Scripture except the Pope. Thirdly, when threatened with a council, they pretend that no one can convoke a council except the Pope. Now may God help us, and give us one of the trumpets with which the walls of Jericho were blown down, that we may in like manner blow down these straw and paper walls. We will attack the first wall first."
To this effect he argued that all Christians without distinction have a share in the spiritual being (wesen); that all are consecrated to the priesthood by baptism, though it is not becoming in every one to exercise that office; that the rank and precedence annexed to the office only attach to the minister as long as he is in the actual discharge of it; and that, when not so engaged, he sinks again into the mere citizen or peasant. "We have one baptism and one faith, and it is that which constitutes a spiritual person. The unction, the tonsure, the ordination, the consecration conferred by a bishop or a pope, may make a hypocrite, but never a spiritual man. We are all alike consecrated priests at our baptism, as St. Peter says, You are priests and kings ( a royal priesthood,' 1 Pet. ii. 9): and if that consecration by God were not upon us, the unction of the Pope could never consti
CH. XI.] LUTHER's address to the EMPEROR AND NObles.261
tute a priest. If ten brothers, sons of a king, and having equal rights to the inheritance, should choose one from among them to administer the kingdom for them, they would all be kings, but one alone the minister of their common power. Thus it is in the church. If certain pious laymen were placed in a desert, and, having no ordained priest among them, were to select one, married or not, to perform that office, the man so chosen would be as truly a priest, as if all the bishops in the world had consecrated him. Thus were Augustine, Ambrose, and Cyprian chosen. .
In his attack upon the second usurpation, Luther assigned to every Christian the right to read the Scriptures, and also the power to discriminate what might be true or false in the doctrines of Rome. And in respect to the third he maintained that the right in question rested with the princes rather than the popes; that there was no authority in the church, except for its improvement; and therefore none in the Pope to prevent the meeting of a free council for the removal of the abuses of the church.
Having established these bold principles in the place of the three bulwarks of Rome, he then mentioned the points in which a reform was essentially necessary. First were the secular power and dignity of the Pope; for it was indeed fearful to behold the chief of Christendom, the self-styled successor of St. Peter and Vicar of Christ, surpassing kings and emperors in the show and magnificence of this world. Next were the cardinals and the court of Rome-men whose stations were altogether useless, and of whom a very small fraction would suffice for the solution of doctrinal difficulties. "If you know not the use of these cardinals, I will tell you. Italy and Germany have numerous convents, foundations, cures richly endowed. How to draw all these riches to Rome? Cardinals are created. These honours and prelacies are
given to them. Thus is the whole surface of Italy reduced to a condition both of temporal and spiritual desolation to this single end-that all the wealth of all the churches may be drained to Rome. It may presently be the same with Germany. Then in succession and in the boldest expressions he exposed some of the least defensible among the papal usurpations, and denounced the unholy frauds and rapacity of the See-annates, palliums, commendams, the mendicity of the monks, the profligate celibacy of the clergy, the multitude of festivals dedicated to idleness and vice, the unscriptural unchristian education which was dispensed in the schools and universities.
In conclusion he appealed to the national pride of his compatriots and to the ambition of the Emperor :
"The Pope, finding the ancient masters of the Roman empire not altogether tractable, imagined a device to take their title and empire from them, and to transfer it to us Germans. And the result is, that we are become servants of the Pope. For he has taken possession of Rome, and obliged the Emperor by oath never to reside there; whence it comes that the Emperor is Emperor of Rome, without possession of Rome. We have the name; the Pope the country and cities. We have the title and the arms; the Pope the treasure, the power and privileges... Now Now may God, who has given us this empire, be our aid! Let us act in conformity with our name, our title, our arms. Let us preserve our privileges. Let the Romans at length learn what rights God has given us by their hands. They boast that they have given us the empire. Well, let us take that which belongs to us; let the Pope cede to us Rome and all that he retains of the empire; let him put a stop to his exactions; let him restore to us our liberty, our power, our property, our honour, our souls and our bodies! Let the empire become what an empire