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full of grace as the Apostle Paul, how can our divines maintain that there is no sin in good works? They call it simply infirmity, which is unscriptural. To speak truly, every believer feels a continual conflict between the flesh and the spirit as long as he lives; and, therefore, in the best actions there is a mixture of the effects of the flesh. Wherefore, what knowledge other persons may have derived from the theology of the schools, is their own concern; for myself, I must declare, that I learnt from it nothing of the real 'nature of sin, of righteousness, of baptism, or of the whole Christian profession; nor any thing of the excellency of God, his works, his grace, or his justice. Faith, hope, and charity, were to me words without meaning. In short, I not only learnt nothing right, but I had to unlearn every thing which I had acquired in that way. I shall be much surprised, if others have succeeded better; but should there be any such, I sincerely congratulate them. In the schools I lost Jesus Christ; in St. Paul I have found him."
Understanding that the court of Saxony began to be troubled as to the consequence of that rupture with the Holy See, which now seemed to be inevitable, he entertained some thoughts of retiring into Bohemia, not for the sake of screening himself from any persecution which might be intended by his enemies, but from that delicate and honourable desire which he always felt, of avoiding occasion of injury to his friends. Sir Francis Seckingen, Sir Ulric Hutten, and Sylvester of Scaunberg, a noble Franconian, offered him any asylum he might require, entreating him not to flee into the Bohemian territory, but to come into Franconia, and promising a guard of a hundred horse.
Urged by his pernicious counsellors, the Pontiff frequently assem
bled the College of Cardinals, to prepare a sentence against the Reformer with due deliberation, and consulted the ablest canonists as to its form and expression. At length, on the 15th of June 1520, a bull was issued, in which His Holiness having called on Christ, St. Peter and St. Paul, and other saints, to avert the dangers which menacéd the church, complained that there was now risen a doctrine, which not only revived all those opinions which had been formerly condemned as heretical, but also contained new and most pernicious errors; said, that he was grieved at the appearance of such doctrine in so loyal and religious a country as Germany, distinguished as it was by its zeal for the Catholic cause against Bohémians and Hussites; granted, that some universities had exhibited a truly primitive spirit; but observed, that as the care of the church at large had been committed to him, he could no longer neglect his duty. He then repeated Luther's tenets, informing the world that he had submitted them to the College of Cardinals, who all agreed that they ought to be rejected, as derogating from the authority of councils, fathers, and even the church itself. Therefore, with their advice and consent, he condemned the whole sum of doctrines; and, by virtue of his supremacy, commanded all persons, under the severest penalties, to yield obedience to his decree by renouncing those opinions which are censured in it; exhorting all magistrates to oppose the growth of this heresy, and ordering a general conflagration of Luther's works. He then related the clemency with which he had behaved towards him, admonishing him by his legates, and inviting him to come and answer for himself at Rome; but censured his obstinacy in appealing to a general council. He forbad him to preach, and allowed sixty days, within which he should
recant. If he nevertheless continued incorrigible, he condemned him as a heretic, ordered him to be punished, excommunicated him, and commanded all men to avoid his company under a similar penalty.
Eccius bore this bull in triumph to Germany, with injunctions to the Elector of Saxony and the University of Wittenberg to provide for its publication. Frederick had recently assisted at the coronation of the Emperor at Aix-la-Chapelle, and had retreated to Cologne, where he was confined with sickness. There he was waited on by Caraccioli and Aleander, two Papal messengers, requiring, that he would cause all Luther's books to be burnt; and that he would either put the author of them to death, or imprison him till he should be sent to Rome. The Elector's answer was firm and dignified. He expressed his surprise, that the Pontiff should require him to act so violent a part; that neither his brother John nor himself would countenance Luther in doing, saying, or writing aught unworthy a Christian divine; that he had caused him to meet Cajetan at Augsburg; that the Archbishop of Treves had been appointed to try this cause; and that Luther would not have refused to appear before him under safe conduct; that his works had not been examined by enlightened and unprejudiced judges; but that should he be condemned on scriptural grounds, and after a fair hearing, he would not as his sovereign protect him; though even in that case he hoped His Holiness would not require him to proceed in a dishonourable manner. The agents replied, that the Pope had used every means to reclaim Luther, who had kept none of his promises; that the commission of the Archbishop had been superseded; and that as the Pope had taken the affair into his own hands, they could not but follow his commands. Aleander
accordingly obtained leave of the Emperor to burn the writings of the Professor, and followed that monarch after his coronation from city to city, filling the Netherlands with the smoke and flames of innumerable books and papers, and threatening all ranks and orders with the vengeance of the Pope. The decree, however, met with a very different reception in those places where the sentiments of the Reformer had gained ground. Even at Leipsic, Eccius experienced a violent opposition to the promulgation of the bull; and at Erfurt it was forcibly taken from him by the young students, who armed themselves for the purpose, besieged his lodging, and having obtained the obnoxious document, tore it in pieces, and threw the fragments into the river. Soon after, Sir Ulric Hutten published a copy with severe marginal observations.
As to Luther himself, he thus wrote to Spalatinus ; "Eccius has brought the Roman bull: and many are the letters sent to the Pope about it: for my own part, I despise it as impious and false, and Eccius, all over! Christ himself is condemned in it: and without alleging any reason, I am called, not to a hearing but a recantation; plainly showing their rage, blindness, and folly, who see not, neither understand. I shall affect to treat it as a forgery, though it is plain enough from what quarter it comes. I send you a copy, that you may see what monsters these Romanists are, who would destroy both our faith and the church. Yet I cordially rejoice to suffer these injuries for the best of causes, unworthy as I am to undergo this holy trial. I feel myself now more at liberty, since I am convinced that the Pontiff is Antichrist, and his seat the seat of Satan. My only prayer is, that God would preserve his own people from being seduced by his most impious dissimulation. Erasmus writes me
word, that the Emperor's court is filled with needy creatures and obsequious tyrants, so that there is no hope in Charles. No wonder! Trust not in princes, or in any child of man, for there is no help in them." This letter was written on the 13th of October, at which time he was undetermined, whether to take active measures in opposition, or suffer the affair to pass off in silence. He soon perceived the necessity of deciding in favour of the former alternative. After renewing his appeal to a general council, in which he boldly stigmatized the Pope as a tyrannical judge, a hardened heretic, an Antichristian opposer of Scripture, and a blasphemous despiser of God's holy church, he issued animadversions "the execrable bull of Antichrist;" defended those religious articles which had been condemned; and moreover exhorted all Christian princes to shake off the ignominious yoke of the Church of Rome. He repeated some arguments used in his " Captivity of Babylon," a work which had made its appearance in August, in which he affirmed Papacy to be the kingdom of Babylon, and denied, that confirmation, ordination, marriage, and extreme unction, were sacramental.
But whatever effect his exhortations might have on others, he resolved by a decisive act to proclaim his personal separation from an impure communion. Early on the 10th of December, he repaired
to the eastern gate of Wittenberg, attended by the professors and students, and a great concourse of citizens, caused a pile of wood to be kindled, and committed to the flames the bull of excommunication, the decrees of the Popes, and the writings of his antagonists, crying with a loud voice, “ Because thou hast troubled the sanctuary of the Lord, let eternal fire trouble thee!" The next day he ascended the pulpit, and terminated an exposition from the Psalter by observing, "The conflagration of yesterday is a matter of small importance. It would be to more purpose, were the Pope himself, or rather the see of Rome, cast into the fire! As you value the salvation of your souls, take beed of the Pontifical decrees!" He then published an apology, declaring that he was bound to prevent the diffusion of false doctrine. "On this account, under guidance of the Spirit, as I trust, I burnt the bull; and, convinced that the Pope is the Man of Sin, I have renounced his authority, and I am ready to be offered up for the doctrines I glory in proclaiming!" He extracted thirty propositions maintaining the supremacy and infallibility of the Pontiff from the canon law, and concluded by citing Rev. xiii. 6: "Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double."
[To be continued.]
TO THE MEMORY OF MISS COVELL,
A young Lady of rare and solid Piety, of genuine Benevolence and Usefulnes and whose Death, after an Illness of four Days, is deeply regretted by her Family, her Friends, and the Poor of her Neighbourhood.
ON themes of pleasant, or eventful kind,
Or to record the feelings of my mind,
When they were such as I would fain prolong:
But never yet before
Did I attempt to pour
Wounded affection's strain, or sweep that chord of mourning o'er.
Ah! few have been the number of my days,
And happiness has marked their tranquil flight;
For mortal scenes can seldom long be bright.
They darken o'er the skies;
Death should such hopes consume,
On realms beyond the sky,
Where faith is lost in sight, and death in immortality.
Should that dear form become,
That friendly voice be dumb,
And I be far away-thou in the silent tomb.
But is the silent tomb thy drear sojourn?
Inhabitant of light,
And we must weeping own, that e'en this stroke was right.
He, who could cheer thee in the deadly strife
Those who could grieve to see the prize so quickly won.
That fain would keep thee from thy Father's face;
With never-ceasing thrill,
Which cannot yet rejoice that thou art safe from ill:
Without a veil that thou dost view the brightness
And lead us gently on
To follow in thy steps, and join thee there before the throne. London, March 19th, 1823.
ON THE APPROACHING ANNIVERSARIES.
THE season is now approaching in which the anniversaries of our religious societies are to be held in London, and be followed by auxiliary meetings in different parts of the country. While these institutions are publicly acknowledging their need of special assistance from on high, it will not, we trust, be deemed intrusive to re-. mind your readers of the importance of earnest prayer for the special influences of the Holy Spirit on their assemblies. This subject was adverted to previous to the last anniversaries. But it has been well observed, that it is not by the presenting new theories, but by a devout attention to well-known truths, that the cause of God advances. Let, then, Christians remember the nature of these meetings. Though branched out into different societies, they have all one object-to assist in promoting the glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom of his Son, and the salvation of immortal souls.
The metropolis at these seasons resembles Jerusalem of old at their holy festivals. Ministers from all parts come to our meetings seeking spiritual refreshment, and desiring to return filled with love to God, and zeal in his service. Many of our nobility and gentry take these opportunities of observing the plans and the spirit of our societies. The brotherly kindness, the general good-will and universal benevolence, these meetings present, may convince them, by the divine blessing, of the reality of the Christian's hope. They may not only approve, but cordially unite in these objects. Our youth, also, here may receive some of their most interesting impressions, and learn from what they see and hear, that "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." How important then are these anniversa
ries! Nor are those in different parts of the empire much behind them. They are like the conduits which receive the full stream, and convey the water to each part of the garden. Those who cannot conveniently reach the metropolis, there receive the same excitements. If these assemblies are but reflected upon for a moment, it will be found that they command an interest in our fervent prayers.
The servants of God also, who take an active part in these meetings, are placed in circumstances which call forth our affectionate sympathy. They are called upon to benefit others at the very moment that necessarily, placed upon the pinnacle, they are themselves the subject of peculiar temptation. What need have they of a single eye and a simple heart! what need of prayer and watchfulness, of heavenly wisdom and holy love, that they may edify others without injury to themselves! Surely, then, their circumstances call for fervent supplication, that for the gift bestowed upon them in answer to the prayers of many, thanks may be given by many on their account.
It is encouraging to know, that since the last annual meetings a considerable addition has been made to those Christians who in their families, and in secret, pray for the general outpouring of the Holy Spirit. To their prayers we particularly recommend the anniversaries of our religious societies. With what hope will the servants of God go forth when they consider, that they are borne up by the intercessions of the faithful; and with what animation will Christians in general assemble when they reflect, that previous supplications are likely to bring down showers of blessings!
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee."