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The information given on this subject by our author, and by Barthold, is not only interesting in itself, but explodes the erroneous views in respect to the rise of German cities, so often put forth by certain popular writers.
We had intended to close this Article with a general view of Gregory's character and administration ; but having extended it already to an undue length, we must relinquish that purpose. Perhaps the omission will be no matter of regret. The somewhat desultory details which have been presented may be of more interest to the reader than any speculations of ours upon a character in respect to which so much has been written, and so much diversity of opinion still remains. The prevalent view of historical critics at the present day is, no doubt, expressed by Kurtz in his Church History, in which, after condemning Gregory's system as “not consonant with tbe gospel,” he says: “Not vulgar love of power, nor vain ambition, animated him, but the idea of the high destiny of the church, to which he devoted his life with enthusiastic ardor.” Gregory's theory of the relations of the church and the state to each other was substantially as follows: There are on earth, by divine appointment, two kinds of government,-a government of force and a government of religious authority. The wickedness of men made it necessary that there should be a civil power to restrain it, by punishing the guilty with fines, imprisonment, and death. The Christian religion requires that there be a church clothed with authority to maintain and propagate its doctrines and worship. The emperor is the head of the one; the bishop of Rome, as the Vicar of Christ, is the head of the other. Their offices are distinct. The former has no right to interfere in religious matters; the latter has no right to interfere in civil matters. The pope can inflict moral penalties, can impose penance, can excommunicate, can put under the interdict; but he cannot wield the sword. In his own Italian states he may exercise authority, as other civil rulers do, but not elsewhere; nor as spiritual head of the church. Thus far his theory and that of the emperors were the same. But at this point they begin to diverge. The emperors remembered that the earlier popes promised obedience in secular matters to Charlemagne. This was not so well remembered by Gregory; but he remembered that the king of the Franks received bis crown from the pope; and therefore inferred that by abusing their power the emperors forfeited their crowns, just as the emperors inferred that the pope, by violating his promise of obedience, forfeited the tiara. While the emperors maintained their view by deposing refractory and obstinate popes, Gregory maintained his not only by asserting it, but by showing its reasonableness, from the fact that among all the kings from the beginning of the world we find only here and there a saint; whereas there have been not less than a hundred and fifty among the successors of St. Peter, which is about two thirds of the whole number.
In order that he might exercise a fatherly care over the state when kings violate their obligations, it was necessary for him to reform some serious abuses in the church. It had ceased to be what, in his view, it should be. The monastic orders had become corrupt. The clergy were guilty of
simony, and became worldly in consequence of disregarding the law of celibacy. The bishops, having lar landed estates attached to their sees, were often appointed by kings and emperors. Bound by this dependance, and often by ties of blood, to their sovereigns, they became subservient to the state, where they ranked as secular princes. In case of a collision between the emperor or king and the Rornan pontiff, it was by no means certain which party they would join. It was therefore necessary that there should be a reform in the appointment of bishops, and that they should receive their investiture not from monarchs but from the Apostolic See. It was furthermore necessary that there should be a purer and more spiritual priesthood; one cut off from all domestic ties and worldly connections, and devoted wholly to the interests of the church, so that, as teachers of religion, they might guide the public sentiment and form the public conscience, and thus give a surer support to the church and its representative head. To effect such a reform, and to establish such relations between the secular and spiritual powers, was the gigantic undertaking to which Gregory directed all the energies of his great mind, to the last. We cannot withhold our admiration from a character so energetic, so earnest, and so sublime, while we deplore that it was so utterly mistaken in its aim. The signal success of his undertaking, during his own life, and still more afterwards, is one of those mysteries of Providence which we are not yet permitted to understand.
Philip MELANCHthon's LIFE AND SELECT Writings, by Dr. Carl
SCHMIDT. We rose from the perusal of this life of Melanchthon with the impression that, for the first time, we had seen the whole man. Not merely the outlines of his history, his relations to Luther, and his theological works, which form the substance of most of the biographies of Melanchthon, but his whole life, up to the last hour of it, and all that is historically connected with it, are spread before us with a completeness of view and fulness of detail that leave nothing to be desired. Luther is not treated as the chief character, accompanied by Melanchthon as a mere attendant. His history is presupposed, and merely referred to, except where it is so interwoven with Melanchthon's that it could not be omitted. The effect produced upon the mind by this new view of Melanchthon's life, is a thorough conviction of his greatness, and of his great influence upon the leading characters of the age, both Protestant and Catholic. With the true scholars of all parties whom he met at the numerous conventions and colloquies which he attended, and where his presence was more desired both by friends and foes than that of Luther, he stood higher and higher the more he was known. There was scarcely a country in Europe that did not desire to possess him, and hardly
1 Philipp Melanchthon. Leben und ausgewählte Schriften, von Dr. Carl Schmidt. pp. 722. Elberfeld : 1861.
a reigning prince that did not offer him most flattering terms to induce him to accept an appointment. Remarkably free from passion, comprehensive and sober in his views, learned and vigorous at the same time, he was unrivalled in his power of drawing up public religious documents. Exhausted by the disputations carried on during the day by contending parties in a conference, he would often during the night prepare a paper, setting forth the views of his party, to be presented the next morning, which astonished his friends, and which his opponents, well knowing that they could not produce one to match it, usually attempted to neutralize by getting up some objection to its presentation. It was as a scholar, philosopher, and logician that he stood above the men of his age, Luther himself not being excepted. The latter was by far the abler disputant. He could silence an opponent better than Melanchthon could; but he could not bring one over to bis opinion so well. Luther often spoke of Melanchthon's " philosophy," some. times in a good and sometimes in a bad sense. The term was well chosen, and was characteristic.
Passing over the history of Melanchthon's youth, we find his public life divided in a very marked manner into three periods: the first extending from the time of his arrival at Wittenberg in 1518 to the presentation of the Augsburg Confession in 1530; the second, from that time to Luther's death in 1546; the third, from the time of Luther's death to his own in 1560. In the first he was altogether a subordinate character as compared with Luther; in the second, he was next to him in rank and influence; in the third, he was at the head of the Protestants of Europe.
Although the evidence of fresh investigation is spread over the whole work under review, the value of the new material increases steadily as we advance from stage to stage, just as Melanchthon's importance increases to the very last. The second and third periods, therefore, — that preceding and that following Luther's death,--will be of greatest interest to the reader. The author has wisely avoided giving a general history of those periods, preferring to adhere rigidly to the method of a true biography, and to pass lightly over even great events, if not immediately connected with bis hero's life, and to give special prominence to all those in which he acted a conspicuous part. He does not attempt to set forth the theology of Melanchthon in an elaborate system, but rather gives a historical view of his opinions and writings, with the variations of doctrine as they actually appeared in his life. It is also well for the readers that no place is set apart in the volume for Melanchthon's select writings, but that the spirit of his more important writings, with very brief extracts, is interwoven with the narrative. Indeed, the title of the book would have been more correct if the words “ Select Writings” had been omitted. They were undoubtedly retained for the sake of uniformity, as the other volumes of this series of biographies will conform in this respect to the title.
The transactions at Augsburg in 1530 are too well known to require any comment here. The best result was, not the conclusions to which the diet arrived, nor the tone of feeling manifested by the emperor, but the publica
tion before the whole world of the Augsburg Confession and of the Apology. These effected on a larger scale what Luther's address had done nine years before at Worms. The Protestants were now no longer represented abroad by their enemies, but by themselves, in a manner that reflected the highest honor upon their cause.
The calm and considerate deportment of Melanchthon at the diet of Augsburg, his moderation, learning, and skill in discussion, inspired a general respect for him in the minds of the good men of the Catholic party Wherever there was a willingness to reform the grosser abuses of the church, and a desire to restore union between the Protestants and Catholics, there was a disposition to employ his services as a mediator between the two extreme parties. There was, at this time, a Lutheran party at Paris Margaret of Navarre, sister of the king, favored it. Francis I. himself was not averse to a moderate reform and a union of the parties, as he then wished to strengthen himself against the emperor by a league with the Protestants. Bellay, a counsellor of the king, and his brother, who was bishop of Paris, both favored this policy. The former, when ambassador in Germany, had consulted with Bucer at Strasburg about the best way of effecting the union. He induced the king to send a messenger to Melanchthon and Bucer, to obtain their views in writing, to be laid before the Protestants and moderate Catholics in Paris. A young German by the Dame of Chelius, the friend of Bucer and of John Sturm, then at Paris, was selected for this purpose and sent to Wittenberg in 1534. Melanchthon drew up a paper, according to request, and directed it to Bellay. Bucer and Hedio, at Strasburg, did the same. Francis I. seemed to be pleased with these communications; but, unfortunately, some violent placards were put up at this time by men calling themselves Protestants, which so excited the opposition of the Catholics that they stirred up the king to acts of persecution, which put an end to all attempts at union. Meanwhile, copies of Melanchthon's and Bucer's letters addressed to Bellay, were circulated in Germany, which, taken in connection with the persecutions that followed, excited dissatisfaction among their friends at home. The next year, however, in 1535, the king of France was induced by the friends of the French Protestants to resume the work of effecting a union which had been so suddenly and so violently broken off. Voré, a learned noblenian, who had been much in Germany, spoke in high terms to the king of Melanchthon's learning, ability, and honorable character. He even ventured to say that he had been a pupil of Melanchthon's, and to give a flattering account of the doctrines and lives of the Protestants. The relations of Francis I. to the emperor were now such as to make him wish for an alliance with the Protestants. Voré was therefore sent to Germany to invite Melanchthon and Bucer to Paris. Sturm, who was still there, wrote to them earnest letters, urging them to come and lend their powerful aid in protecting the persecuted Protestants. " It lies in your bands," said he, “to say whether the Protestants of France shall enjoy life and freedom, or suffer the severest oppression. The king is inclined to listen to your counsels. Do not arouse his anger by refusing to accept his invitation.”
On Voré's arrival in Germany, the fears of the Germans were again aroused, and their complaints against Melanchthon and Bucer renewed. There was a general distrust of the motives of the king of France. Melanch. thon hesitated, and gave no decisive answer to Voré, but asked for time to write to Sturm for further information. “ The invitation to France,” he writes to the latter, “is the most difficult question I have ever had to consider. I do not fear for my own personal safety, for I am ready to sacrifice everything for the honor of Christ and for the good of the church; but I fear that I can be of no use.” He asked to have this point, of the probable utility of such a visit as was proposed, cleared up; and urged Sturm to use bis influence to induce the king to cause a synod to be held. Voré returned to Paris and informed Francis I. of the distrust of the Germans, and requested a more definite guaranty of the personal security of Melanchthon, in case he should undertake the journey. Bellay was thereupon authorized to assure Sturm that the king only wished to have a personal interview with some of the most distinguished Protestant theologians, to aid him in devising the means of preserving the peace of the church till a general council should be held. Melanchthon, he said, should not be confronted with the Sorbonists, but each party should be consulted separately, and then the king could decide on his course for himself. Francis I. also wrote to Melanchthon, inviting him to visit Paris either in the name of the government, or in his private capacity. Voré brought the letter, with others from Cardinal Bellay, from Margaret of Navarre, from Roussel, her Protestant chaplain, and from Sturm, all urging bim to accept the royal invitation. Voré was authorized to extend the same invitation to the Strasburg theologians; and the city government gave its consent for Bucer and Hedio to make the journey. But it was otherwise in Saxony. Melanchthon's doubts were not removed by the letters he received; nevertheless he determined to go rather than to appear concerned about his own safety, or to trifle with the French monarch. But on going to Torgau to obtain permission of his prince, John Frederic flatly refused to give his consent. Melanchthon returned home disappointed and chagrined. He sent an urgent petition to the elector, requesting that he might go as a private individual, and have a three months' furlough for this purpose. Luther supported him in this petition, entreating the elector not to abandon the French Protestants in their need, who had fixed their hopes upon Melanchthon. The refusal might offend the king, to whose anger their brethren in France would become victims. He even went to court to endeavor to change the mind of the prince. It was all in vain. The latter had been warned against the perfidy of Francis I., who had no intentions, it was said, of favoring the Protestants, but merely wished the temporary support of their influence in his contest with the emperor. Perhaps the elector was displeased that the application had not been made directly to him. Perhaps he thought a connection, at this time, with France would be prejudicial to the interests of the Protestants in Germany, by betraying a sympathy with the enemy of the emperor. Perhaps fears were entertained that Melanchthon, left to himself, would go