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papal authority; and they were read and defended by Tetzel, on January 20, 1518, before a large body of monks attached to Wimpina and the established opinions. The matter of them was much the same as that propounded in the composition of Tetzel; and a single specimen may be sufficient in this age to satisfy any curiosity as to the kind of arguments by which the indulgence was defended. In respect to those produced by Tetzel, it seems only important to remark—first, how entirely the doctrine of justification by faith was overlooked in them, or rather how directly the principles contained in them impugned that doctrine; next, how readily the commissary interpreted Luther's attack as intended against the substance, not the abuse, of the indulgence; and farther, how artfully he took his ground of defence, not on the preachings and barterings of himself and his brother subalterns, but on the power and prerogatives of the pope; thus imputing to Luther principles which he disclaimed, and designs of insubordination and disloyalty, from which no man was at that time farther removed than he. It was, no doubt, extremely convenient to Tetzel to shelter his own delinquencies under such high protection ; but it was not to the interest of the see that the very sources of its authority should be compromised by the grossest enormities of its meanest officers; or that the public indignation, which would perhaps have wasted itself on a distant outwork, should be thus invited to turn against the very
heart of the sacred citadel. Yet such was the effect of the method of defence adopted by those men.
Luther replied. He took some pains to distinguish the penance imposed by the church from the repentance required by Christ, and to show that the
could have no power to remit the latter. He likewise dwelt with much warmth upon the cry of heresy which was
already raised against him, and which wounded him the more through his consciousness of perfect devotion to the see of Rome. Yet the slander and its attendant menaces produced consequences the opposite to those expected; they irritated much more than they terrified him; they roused him to a fiercer resistance; they even tended by their prematurity and injustice to drive him into the very course which it was meant to close against him. Nothing was then more offensive to Luther than the stigma of heresy. Yet the finding it undeservedly affixed to himself would gradually mitigate his horror, first, of the name so wantonly cast upon deeds of the purest intention—then of the thing, whatever that thing might be, which was represented by it.
A different and perhaps more effective answer to the acts and writings of Tetzel was given by the disciples of Luther and other students at Wittemberg. “ These young men” (says Luther in an epistle written soon afterwards to John Langus),* being thoroughly sick of the old sophistical method of study, and thirsting for the Holy Bible, and it may be also through favourable inclination towards me, as soon as they learnt that a man was arrived from Halle sent by Tetzel to distribute his * Positions,' instantly beset the fellow, and bullied him for daring to bring such stuff hither.
Then they bought of him some few copies, and got possession of the rest by force, or other means. Then they published an intimation, that all who might wish to be present at
“Ut sis præmonitus siqua fama forte ad vos pervenerit de conflagratione propositionum Tecellinarum, ne plus ullus addat, ut fieri solet, quam sit rerum gestarum, hæc est fabula : studentes, ut sunt mire pertæsi sophistici hujus antiqui studii, cupidissimi vero Sacræ Bibliæ, forte et mei favoris studio. ... Sum extra noxam, sed timeo quod totum mihi imputabitur. Quid futurum sit nescio, nisi quod periculum meum eo ipso fit periculosius.”
the conflagration and funeral of the Positions of Tetzel should assemble in the market-place, at the second hour; and then and there they burnt them to the number of almost eight hundred copies. The prince had no information of their design; nor had the senate, nor the rector, nor indeed
In fact, we are all much displeased that so serious an insult has been offered to the man by our students; and I most of all displeased. I am free from all blame; yet I fear that the whole will be imputed to me.
What will be the consequence I know not, except that my situation, even now no secure one, will become still more dangerous.”
In another letter, addressed to his ancient tutor at Erfurth, Jodocus, Luther disclaimed still more strongly all participation in that act of violence: “Could you imagine that I had so far lost my understanding and forgotten myself as to have offered—I an ecclesiastic and a theologian, in a place too that is not mine-so gross an outrage to a person occupying so dignified a station ?” There is no reason why we should suspect this declaration. Hitherto the conduct of Luther, though marked by much resolution, had been free from any approach to rashness. The act besides was in advance of the progress which he had then made in opinion, or principle. It was an act of ecclesiastical insubordination, of which he was yet incapable. It was an act of peril too, and impolitic, not only through the storm which it might bring down from the inquisition and the hierarchy, but also because it could not fail to be displeasing to the calm and cautious temperament of the Elector of Saxony—and Luther was not blind to any of these considerations.
LUTHER’S CONTROVERSIES WITH PRIERIAS, ECK, AND
Various effects produced on various characters by Luther's Theses
Reuchlin—Erasmus—Maximilian-Frederick of Saxony—the religious character of the last-his talents and many excellent qualities—the Theses received with contempt at Rome-Leo’s remark-overlooked even by the German prelates—his own Augustinians entreat him to desist and save the Order from the scandal of his disobedienceLuther's reply to them-all the underlings rise in arms against him, especially the Dominicans—the controversy spreads-First rises Sylvester Prierias at Rome and publishes his Dialogues-arguments contained in them—their effect only to irritate—then John of Eck writes his Obelisks-Luther's remarks on them—then James Hochstraten, an inquisitor—the three principles involved in these three attacks— Luther's reply to Prierias—to whose four Fundamentals he opposes two texts from Scripture and a passage of St. Augustine-reflections— herein he lays down unpremeditatedly the two great principles of the Reformation - Prierias afterwards answers - and is then condemned to silence by the pope-Luther answers the Obelisks by Asterisks— his reply to Hochstraten-Erasmus's remarks upon these controversies, attesting the good done to Luther's cause by the violence of his adversaries.
The strong sensation so generally excited by the first proceedings of Luther soon ripened into a deep and deliberate interest; and this interest was, among various classes, as various as their circumstances, principles and capacities. The decided friends of reform, those who detested the abuses of the church and were bent on removing them, of course applauded his enterprise and offered up prayers for its success. Yet was there no one, even among these, who at once came forward to seek a share in the honour and peril of the
adventure. There were others, and among them some of power and dignity both in church and state, who perceived the rectitude of his principles and admired his courage ; but they considered the undertaking too dangerous for one so humble and unprotected; and, whatever secret vows they may have breathed in his behalf, they were cautious not, by any act or expression of sympathy, to involve themselves in his impending ruin. Others again, though they deplored the corruptions of the church and the grievances of the people; though the history of the preceding century might have taught them that it was in vain to hope from the church itself for any cure either for the one or the other; and though the movement of Luther seemed to promise the result which they desired; yet dreaded the remedy more than they hated the evil, and thought any endurance preferable to the confusion attendant upon change. Well-meaning, short-sighted, and pusillanimous, they shrank before the uncertain creations of their own fearful fancy and forgot the insult and oppression under which they were actually prostrate.
Such were the feelings which divided the more enlightened or less bigoted portion of the Christian community. But there existed besides a large and powerful mass of men directly opposed to any project of reform ; men, whom early prejudices, carefully instilled and deeply imbibed—whom the spirit of professional zeal—whom the enjoyment or expectation of authority and rankwhom the keen sense of pecuniary interest and personal comfort, as dependent on the maintenance of the church in its full integrity of good and evil, use and abuseunited by the strongest worldly ties in defence of the thing established. Blinded by the long possession of power, and by the impunity with which the exertions of reforming councils and the murmurs of an oppressed