« AnteriorContinua »
This, however, was a secret, which could not be entrusted to any one. Besiiles, a knowledge of the elector's plans could not have helped the matter at all; for the theologians could not openly approve of an iniquitous document, with a private understanding that no use was to be made of it; and the elector could not mislead the emperor by anything short of the Interim itself, actually published and forced upon the Protestants.
The theological dispute between Melanchthon and his opponents in regard to the Interim, related to “indifferent things" in religion, or the adiaphora, as they were called. Melanchthon maintained that, so long as pure doctrines were taught, ceremonies which did not contradict these were indifferent. His opponents maintained that a return of the Protestant church to a state in which she should be governed by bishops, and especially by the bishop of Rome, could not be indifferent to those who had followed Luther in the rejection of all such authority; that it would be a practical surrender of the principle of Protestantism; and that the wearing of sacerdotal robes was not indifferent, if it was imposed upon the clergy by the civil authority; that it was the duty of the church to assert and maintain its liberty.
Maurice, when the proper time arrived, developed his plans rapidly. Having made a capitulation in November of 1551, with Magdeburg, which the emperor bad authorized and instructed him to subdue on account of its resistance to the Augsburg Interim, he retained his army; and, in the beginning of the next year, formed an alliance with Hesse to deliver the landgrave, his father-in-law, from his unjust imprisonment. He attacked Augsburg on the 1st of April, 1552, and Inspruck on the 20th of May following; and being completely victorious over the imperial troops, he met the commissioners of the humbled emperor in Passau on the 1st of June, where a treaty was made, by which Charles V. gave up the cherished objects of a lifelong pursuit, freeing the elector and landgrave, and guaranteeing peace and security to the Protestants. This treaty was confirmed in an imperial diet held at Augsburg in 1555; and though it was violated in the Thirty Years' War, it was permanently re-established, at the close of that bloody religious war, by the Peace of Westphalia.
Melanchthon was taken altogether by surprise when Maurice entered upon this brilliant part of his career, and was so fearful of an unhappy result that he attempted to dissuade him from the undertaking. But the Treaty of Passau put an end to all the troubles growing out of the attempts of the Catholics to force the Interim upon the Protestant churches. While, however, the external condition of things was favorable to peace, Melanchthon had other sources of grief. Controversies, in which he was sooner or later involved, multiplied on every hand, as that originated by Osiander on justification; that on the freedom of the will, occasioned by Melanchthon's new edition of the Loci; that on the necessity of good works; and that endless one in regard to the nature of the eucharist. It would require much space to give any satisfactory account of these controversies. Besides, the story has been so often told by those who have written the bistory of the doctrines of the Lutheran church, that it is hardly necessary to repeat it
here. In respect to the bodily presence of Christ in the supper,
be incidentally remarked that Melanchthon, in his later years, occupied a position between that of Zuingli and Calvin, though nearer the latter than the former. The theories would be shaded off in a true picture, from the highest to the lowest point, somewhat in the following order: the Catholic or scholastic theory of transubstantiation ; Luther's theory of consubstantiation, or more exactly, of the ubiquity of Christ's body; Calvin's theory of a real spiritual presence by faith, which ascends to heaven in the eucharist; Melanchthon's theory of a spiritual presence without any explanation of the manner of it; and, finally, Zuingli's theory of a symbolical presence, the bread and the wine merely representing the body and blood of Christ. Though Melanchthon, whose experience qualified him to judge of the utility of colloquies as a means of settling doctrinal difficulties, came to entertain a dread of the very name, he was obliged to attend one more, that held at Worms in 1557, which turned out much as he expected. Its only effect was to separate the Wittenbergers from the Flacians, the Protestants from the Catholics, and the Lutheran church from the reformed church more widely than ever. The remaining three years of Melanchthon's life were passed in similar disquiet. He abstained from controversy as far as possible; and longed for a world where the weary might be at rest.
G. Ahlhorn's LIFE AND SELECT WRITINGS OF URBAN Ruegius.
This work comes very fresh from the press, having been published but a few months. The matter itself here presented will, to the great majority of readers, be as new as the pages on which it is recorded. While the great features of the Reformation will always remain essentially the same, the details connected with the lives of subordinate actors in this grand scene, give new views on points where they are most needed, making us intimately acquainted with the private lives of public men, and thus throwing a clearer light on the whole subject. The more we become acquainted with the social relations of the leading men of that age, their early companions and friends, the better can we judge of all those public acts which are insensibly influenced by personal feelings of attachment or aversion. How many of the friends of the Reformation, and of the Reformers themselves, were for a time influenced by the circumstance that they were the literary friends and correspondents of Erasmus ! Bound, by attachment, to him as the promoter of ancient learning, they entertained kind feelings for those Catholic prelates and scholars who were in sympathy with him.
All this is beautifully illustrated in the life of Rhegius. Born (in 1489) on the northern shore of Lake Constance, educated for the university in the neighboring school of Lindau, he entered the university of Freiburg in 1508. Here he lived in the house and became the personal friend of his country
1 Urbanus Rhegius. Leben und ausgewählte Schriften, von Dr. Gerhard Ahlhorn, Consistorialrath in Hannover. pp. 370. Elberfeld : 1861.
man Xasius, the great jurist of that day. This distinguished professor warmly espoused the cause of learning, and in many respects favored the Reformation ; but, like so many others, he found it too radical, and therefore stood aloof from it, and finally opposed it, after the manner of Erasmus. Here in Freiburg, Rhegius belonged to a powerful literary circle composed of Catholics of a moderate reformatory character, in which there was as yet no separation of the Protestant and Catholic elements. Here lived in friendship and barmony men who were afterwards leaders of opposite parties. As now, in the two great hostile armies of our country, military commanders who were once classmates and friends, are fighting against each other unto the death, so, a few years after the period of which we are now speaking, the friends and acquaintances of Rhegius were found in conspicuous positions on opposite sides. Here were Capito and Zell, afterwards reformers in Strasburg; Aesticampianus, the distinguished classical scholar, afterwards professor in Wittenberg; John Eck, now the particular friend of Rhegius, as he was later the chief opponent of Luther. His removal to Ingoldstadt in 1512, where he was made professor of rhetoric and poetry, and afterwards crowned as poeta et orator laureatus by the emperor Maximillian, served only to multiply his connections with this class of inen. Here Eck, who had also removed to Ingoldstadt, was one of his colleagues in the faculty of instruction, and Hubmair, subsequently known as an Anabaptist leader, was another. Here he became intimately acquainted with Faber, then vicar of the bishop of Constance, afterwards as minister and confessor of the emperor, Ferdinand I., a most dangerous and powerful enemy of the Protestants. He was well acquainted with Erasmus, wbo, in one of his letters calls him urbanissimum Urbanum. It is a curious fact that at the very time, 1519, when Faber and Rhegius were upholding their friend Eck in his controversy with Luther, they were holding a most friendly correspondence with Zuingli. And yet, strange to say, in a manner unknown to us, within a year, in the midst of these friends, Rhegius came to see the whole truth, and sent to Luther, through friend who was writing to him, the following salutation : “Urbanus Rhegius greets you, learned Martin, and has so much the more claim to a friendly recognition, as he has come to love you, not from any sudden inpulse, but from calm conviction.”
Rhegius, meanwhile, laid in large stores of learning. Though distinguished as a classical scholar, he was, while at Freiburg, a student of law; and during the whole period of his residence in Ingoldstadt, from 1512 to 1520, he was a diligent student of theology. In view of all these things, it is not strange that when Oecolampadius, in his despondency, came to the unwise conclusion to resign his place as preacher at Augsburg, and enter a monastery, Rhegius should be appointed his successor. Luther had appeared before Cajetan at Augsburg in 1518, and made a favorable impression on the minds of such distinguished men as Peutinger, Langenmantel, and Frosch. In less than a year Oecolampadius was invited to preach there, and on his retirement, it was a friend of Luther, Adelmann by name, that secured the election of Rhegius. As Oecolampadius was not sufficiently
settled in his views, at that time, to be very decided in his preaching, and as Eck succeeded in baving the bull against Luther published in Augsburg, the character of Rhegius was put to a severe test. His development as a Protestant leader was rapid. He published anonymously several satirical works, keenly attacking the papacy, and setting forth the merits of Luther. The latter had just uttered his heroic words at the Diet of Worms (1521), and Rhegius seems to bave imbibed his spirit and maintained it, notwithstanding Luther's concealment at Wartburg. His language was: " Luther can be extinguished, but the truth cannot.” “ Christ has taken such deep root in the souls of men at Augsburg, that he will live there, though the body be killed.”
Before the close of the year 1521, he was obliged to leave Augsburg, to which he was so much attached, then one of the most prosperous and splendid cities of Germany. One day, as he came from the pulpit, a priest accused him of being a Lutheran heretic, and struck him brutally in the face, with a key, which he happened to have in his hand. The violence of the opposition to him was so great, that he thought it best peacefully to withdraw. He retired to bis native place on Lake Constance, and devoted himself to study. Like all the men of that age who were devoted to classical literature, he had more eloquence, suavity, and wit, than of that firm adherence to principle which makes one superior to the consideration of worldly advantages, and unmoved in persecution. Erasmus and Luther are types of these two kinds of character. The troubles which Rhegius was called to experience, improved his character. In the school of affliction, under the discipline of crosses, he acquired just that strength and force of character which he most needed. While in the vicinity of Lindau, he renewed his correspondence with Zuingli, which had been dropped for two years. Zurich was not far distant; and it was just at this time that Zuingli was carrying through his reforms there, and that the bishop of Constance was calling him to an account. The latter sent a delegation, with Faber, the old friend of Zuingli and Rhegius, at the head of it, to the city council of Zurich, requiring it to put a stop to these innovations. Rhegius now wrote to Zuingli : “I learn with joy that, in the spirit of Paul, you bave attacked the false apostle and his Ananias, that whited wall (Faber), and have trampled human traditions under your
feet." Having spent about half the year 1522 in his native place, he was invited to succeed Strauss, an evangelical preacher at Hall on the Inn, near Inspruck, who had incurred the displeasure of the bishop of Brixen. Strauss was afterwards a Lutheran preacher at Kemberg near Wittenberg, and at Eisenach. Here Rhegius, without interfering with the outward order and ceremonies of the church, contented himself with preaching the simple fundamental principles of the gospel. He was therefore uninterrupted till the spring of 1523, when the bishop required him to preach the dogmas of the church as well as the gospel, which he declined to do. He offered to hold a public disputation, and to bind himself to preach all that could be proved to bave been preached by the apostles. The bishop called in the aid of
the emperor Ferdinand, falsely asserting that Rhegius excited the people against the government. Faber was now in the service of the emperor, and did not fail to exert his great influence against his former friend. The latter thought it prudent to retire. After remaining a few mouths in his native town, he removed in 1524 to Augsburg, which had undergone no little change, in the meantime, in favor of the Reformation; and while residing there as a private citizen, he gave lectures on the Epistle to the Romans. He was soon appointed preacher, not where he preached before, but in another church. Here he remained as a judicious and successful preacher till the celebrated Diet of Augsburg in 1530. His position was a difficult one. There was no formal reformation introduced, but all sober and moderate men were allowed by the city government to preach in their own way. Rhegius stood between two extreme parties, the Catholics and the radical reformers, whose objects were as much secular as religious. This was the time (1525) when the peasants from Constance to Augsburg and Ulm, flew to arms, and 100,000 men were in the field to redress their wrongs. Rhegius saw, at the same time, the justice of their cause and the unjustifiableness of the remedy to which they resorted. In maintaining this view, he satisfied neither party. He published two pamphlets on the subject, both breathing a kind, Christian spirit. The controversy respecting the eucharist, between the Lutherans and the Zuinglians, and especially the troubles caused by the Anabaptists, who, at this time, were numerous in Augsburg, operated unfavorably for the Protestant interests. The years 1524 and 1525 were the golden period of the Reformation, in this city. From that time, the Catholics began to recover the ground they had lost. The long-expected day finally arrived when the emperor, the Catholic and Brotestant princes, ecclesiastics, and theologians, were to meet at Augsburg, to settle the disturbed affairs of the church, as was supposed. The evangelical party arrived first. Duke Ernest of Lüneburg heard Rhegius preach, and was so pleased with him as to desire to secure his services in bis own capital. When the emperor arrived, the Protestants were all forbidden to preach. · The city authorities not only enforced this order, but meanly denied that they had appointed the Protestant preachers. Rhegius went before the council and put to them the question whether they had called him to be a preacher in Augsburg. They gave no reply. He was justly indignant, and unhesitatingly acceded to the wishes of the duke of Lüneburg. On his way from Augsburg, which he left August 26, 1530, he went to see Luther, who was waiting at Coburg, while the Diet was in session. Rhegius, who had never met him before, was as deeply impressed with the greatness and apostolical character of the man, as he had been with the dignity and simple majesty of the Augsburg Confession, presented to the Diet by Melanchthon. Through the remainder of his days did he look back to these two events, the presentation of such a confession, and his visit to Luther, as the most interesting of his whole life.
In September, Rhegius reached Celle, the residence of duke Ernest. But how changed was the scene! Instead of a great commercial city, under