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INTEMPERANCE : ITS MISERÍES.
attested in city, town, and hamlet, even in our own land of Bibles, Sabbaths, and churches. God be merciful unto us sinners, and deliver our nation from drunkards and from drunkenness!
Of all the miseries arising out of intemperance, time would fail to speak. Ruin of credit and confidence in all places, and with all people ; shame, distress, and anguish inflicted on nearest and dearest friends and relatives ; children, worthy of better parents, ashamed to own their father, ay, and their mother too; parents doomed to heaviness, weeping, and sorrow of heart, till their grey hairs are brought down with sorrow to the grave; loss of health, in almost every form of acute and chronic disease ; fine mental powers obscured, or going down in total darkness at noontide ; the most expensive and best education utterly lost; rank forfeited; brothers and schoolfellows moving in responsible, and high, and honourable situations, but the drunkard " seeing them afar off;" children wickedly deprived of all education, driven forth at tender age to become the sport of the elements, the subjects of hardship and cruel oppression, the victims of every vice, the tenants of the jail, the exhibition of the scaffold. In such the latent or incipient sins of our fallen humanity are brought forth, and fed, and nursed, and stimulated by hellish influence, till they have prematurely come to the stature of giants, and the shape of monsters in depravity; the house of God forsaken; the Lord's day lost; the Gospel hindered; the church continuously grieved ; the sacred office itself disgraced ; character wrecked; the peace of God displaced by the torturing stripes of a guilty conscience; the form of godliness annibilated; the last spark of hidden piety extinguished; the seat of the scorner filled; the ranks of infidels, blasphemers, dishonest persons, murderers, increased ; untimely death; sinners driven away in their wickedness; souls
Alas! for excess of wine and strong drink. But could we be permitted to descend into hell, and gather the statistics of the world of torment, what a frightful record would be found of “ DAMNED by excess of wine and strong drink !” Is there any approach to truth in the oft-repeated and uncontradicted assertion, that “more than fifty thousand immortal beings die annually by inebriety ?” And is it a truth of inspiration, that "no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God?” It is, then, deep in the regions of the lost that we must look for the real miseries of intemperance. You must dive into the lake that burneth, to know the doings of drunkenness.
Is this too sad, too frightful, too much like declamation to affect you ? Then I ask you to sit down, and soberly think over all you happen to know of this matter. Look within you ; look around you ; call to mind what you have felt and seen, what you have incidentally heard and read, about the effects of intoxication. Have you in every way personally escaped the bite of this serpent? Have you not suffered in your family connexions? Have none of your family, or your wife's family, been ruined, or wounded, or murdered by the sting of this adder? What of your neighbours? Have they escaped ? Your early playmates? The companions of your childhood ? The men you did business with aforetime? or lately? Have they all escaped the burning of that fire? What did you learn from your father or mother about this matter? What from common table-talk? What have you known of fatal doings by the drunken? What have you read in the chapter of accidents about deaths on sea and land this week? A month ago ? If you wish to ask me what I have seen and known in the course of seven times seven years, "alas ! my brother," I could cry, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth," because of intemperance ! But, enough for the present, Think on what you know, and learn the lessons it should teach.
PHILIP MELANCTHON. It has been asserted that Melancthon lived in an age altogether unsuited to his genius and temper; but such an assertion betrays a want of conviction that Divine Providence watches the fall of a sparrow, and numbers even the hairs of our head. No one who is in any measure acquainted with the history of the Reformation which began in the fifteenth century, can help being impressed with the conviction, that the agents employed in effecting it were men divinely raised up to do one of the most extraordinary works ever achieved in behalf of pure and undefiled religion, when all but annihilated by superstition, error, and crime of every form. The variety observable in the temper and attainments of the Reformers is as striking as it was needful. Had all been possessed of the fire of Luther, unchastened by his piety, destruction rather than reformation of religion might have been the result; and had all been as meek as Melancthon, without the power of his faith, they would have despaired of effecting any improvements, and been dismayed in the face of the difficulties which the corruptions of Popery presented.
Philip Melancthon was born at a pleasant little town, called Bretten, in the lower Palatinate of the Rhine, on the 16th of February, 1497. His father was distinguished as a military engineer: his invention of instruments of war brought him into notice with Maximilian, son of the Emperor Frederic, and with many of the powerful Princes of those warlike times. His piety was strict, and his manners so grave as scarcely ever to admit of a joke, even in ordinary conversation. His mother was an estimable woman. The education of Philip was placed under the direction of his maternal grandfather, Reuter, who acted in concert with his mother, owing to the numerous public engagements of his father.
At first he was put to a public school in his native town, and then as a private scholar, under one John Hengarus, a meritorious man, and a faithful preacher of the word of God at Pforzheim, who soon became delighted with the rapid progress of his pupil, whose literary contests with his fellow-pupils were conducted with sweetness of temper, and usually crowned with victory. Here he prosecuted the study of Latin and Greek with diligence and success. He also wrote several epigrams, epitaphs, prologues, and poetical epistles to his friends. Reuchlin, or Capnio, a celebrated teacher of languages, soon discovered the talent of Melancthon, and formed a strong affection for him, regarding him as a boy destined to become a distinguished scholar. The present of a Greek grammar and a lexicon from this great man, had a powerful influence on the mind of his youthful protégé. At the age of thirteen he wrote a comedy, which he dedicated to Capnio, from a sense of gratitude for his great kindness. At this time Capnio gave him the name of Melancthon, a Greek word, signifying the same as his German family name, Schwartzerd, or black earth.
Aster spending two years at Pforzheim, he was sent by his mother and grandfather to the University of Heidelberg, being then in his twelfth year. Here he was soon regarded as a first-rate youth ; and though so young, he was employed to compose most of the public harangues and orations that were delivered in the University.
After spending three years at this University, he removed to Tubingen, where a University had been founded by Prince Eberhard, which was celebrated for its Professors in every branch of literature and theology. He now ardently applied himself to mathematics, jurisprudence, logic, medicine, and theology especially. Before he reached his seventeenth year, he was created Doctor in Philosophy, or Master of Arts; on which he immediately became private tutor, and soon after public lecturer.
The great Erasmus, along with all who witnessed his progress, was struck with admiration. He exclaimed, “What hopes may we not conceive of Philip Melancthon, though as yet very young, and almost a boy, but equally to be admired for his proficiency in both languages! What quickness of invention! What purity of diction! What vastness of memory! What variety of reading! What a modesty and gracefulness of behaviour! And what a princely mind !” Again, he observed, "I am persuaded that Christ designs this youth to excel us all: he will totally eclipse Erasmus !” And again he wrote, “He not only excels in learning and eloquence, but, by a certain fatality, is a general favourite. Honest and candid men are fond of him, and even his adversaries cannot hate him!”
After about six years' residence at Tubingen, he removed to the University of Wittemberg, the metropolis of Upper Saxony. His departure was lamented by the whole city. Though only twenty-one years of age, his fame was widely diffused. Four days after his arrival at Wittemberg, he delivered his inaugural oration as Professor, with great applause. Luther observed that it was inconceivably learned and elegant, and excited such universal admiration, that every one forgot the comparative meanness of Melancthon's personal appearance. Luther became one of his pupils in the Greek language, Multitudes flocked to his lectures ; so that from fifteen to twenty hundred might be seen listening with eagerness to his instructions.
From this time may be dated the resurrection of philosophy, literature, and theology. The human mind bad for ages been crushed under the accumulating errors and despotism of the Papacy, whose tendency was to enslave the minds and consciences of all mankind, and prevent scriptural Christianity from filling the world with knowledge, holiness, and happiness. Melancthon was soon regarded as the common preceptor of the German schools. He prepared class-books on logic, ethics, physics, and other branches of science which were long used as the best for method, clearness, and regard for the ease of students.
He boldly attacked established educational systems, and proposed a plan of reform. His enthusiasm in favour of earnest application to study was intense. Addressing the students, he once exclaimed, " Enter, then, 0 ye youths, enter upon your course of wholesome instruction, with this sentiment in your constant recollection: Whoever determinately sets about a business, has half accomplished it."
The effrontery of the Priests and Monks had become so outrageous, that endurance, both in God and man, became exhausted. Luther and his fellow-Reformers were at this time entering upon their warfare with the corruptions of the Church of Rome. Melancthon became Luther's attached friend, and the friend and advocate of those who preached a pure Gospel.
The first time Melancthon appeared publicly by the side of Luther was at Leipsic, where Carolostadius, Professor of Divinity at Wittemberg, met Eckius, of Ingoldstadt, a celebrated advocate for the Papal Church, to dispute on the points at issue between them. The assembly was graced with the presence of the Duke of Saxony, the members of his Council, the Magistrates of Leipsic, the Doctors and Bachelors of the University, and other distinguished personages.
Luther and Melancthon stood by Carolostadius, during a discussion of eighteen days. From this contest Melancthon returned to study diligently the questions debated, and to apply himself earnestly to the interpretation of the Scriptures, and the defence of pure Christian doctrine. For the assistance he gave on this occasion, Eckius was exasperated, and bitterly attacked him ; which drew forth a reply, characteristic at once of his learning and admirable Christian temper,
In 1520 he married a very respectable and religious young lady, belonging to one of the principal families in Wittemberg. This union proved most happy: rarely have two persons been so well suited to each other in spirit and character. So assiduous was be in the discharge of his public duties, that a suspension of them on the day of his marriage was regarded as something remarkable.
The Divines of the Sorbonne, in Paris, having published a formal condemnation of the writings of Luther; in April, 1521, Melancthon replied in a small pamphlet, full of keen satire; and soon afterwards he defended Luther against Thomas Placentinus in another.
Deeply deploring the neglect of religiously training youth, he exclaimed, “Our public seminaries are nothing but the temples of Tophet, and the gloomy valley of the son of Hinnom. Christianity is banished. Athens had its Areopagus, and Sparta its school, where youth were trained up after the very best models, and were better instructed by these Heathens than they are in our Universities at this day. But do you yourselves, ye studious youth, seriously undertake the diligent study of St. Paul's writings, where Christ Jesus is evidently set forth; and His Spirit will unquestionably prosper your endeavours."
This same year he published his “Theological Common-Places," which excited universal attention, and greatly promoted scriptural knowledge. Luther, in noticing them, said, “ He that intends to be a good Divine, after the Bible, may read the 'Loci Communes' of Philip Melancthon : when he has these two pieces, then he is a good Divine, against whom neither the devil nor any heretic can be able to take advantage; for the whole of divinity lies open to him, so that he may read what and when he will for his edification." It was dedicated to Henry VIII. It went through many editions. Calvin prefixed an advertisement to a French edition, in which he eulogises the author and the book.
Among those who aided Luther in translating the Bible into German, Melancthon occupied an eminent position : the whole was revised by these two distinguished friends. This version gave a heavy blow to the Papacy. The whole machinery of persecution was put in motion for its suppression. The Archduke of Austria, and other Princes, issued edicts for its prohibition.
Melancthon having prepared a Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans in manuscript, Luther took and published it without his knowledge, prefixing a singular apology, addressed to the author. He assures him that if he was not pleased with it, it was sufficient that he pleased his readers. “If I have done wrong," says he, “you are to blame. Why did you not publish it yourself? Why did you suffer me so often to ask, to insist, to importune you to publish it, and all in vain ? So much for my apology against you ; for you see I am willing to turn thief, and am not afraid of your future accusations or complaints.'
Exhausted by incessant labours, Melancthon was induced to visit several parts of Germany on horseback, in 1524, accompanied by Nesenus and Camerarius, in order to recruit his health and spirits. Soon afterwards, he was thrown into the deepest grief by the sudden death of the former of these friends, who was drowned in the Elbe when bathing, or by the upsetting of a boat. In the following year Frederic, Elector of Saxony, died, and the management of the funeral was confided to Luther and Melancthon. The latter delivered an oration in Latin, in which he eulogised his many virtues, and the prominent position he had taken in advancing the best interests of his people in the face of the most formidable difficulties. The successor of Frederic, by the advice of Luther, Melancthon, and Pomeranus, soon intro
duced a new form of worship into the University and Collegiate Church of Wittemberg.
The Emperor Charles V. having commanded a Diet to be held at Spires, in 1526, the Protestant Princes were allowed to send Divines to give advice. The Elector of Saxony directed Melancthon to prepare a brief memorial in reply to the objections of the Papists. The result of this Diet was favourable to the Reformation. The necessity of a General Council was acknowledged ;
a the Emperor was appealed to, and a request presented that, till such Council met, the German Princes might be allowed to act independently in religious matters. Two years' peace followed this Diet, during which the Reformers proceeded in their work. At their request, Melancthon prepared a Directory for the use of the churches, which was published under the sanction of the Elector.
An inquiry into the state of the Reformed churches being instituted, Melancthon was appointed one of the Commissioners. They performed their work diligently, fixing suitable Pastors in the parishes, abolishing ancient superstitions, regulating public seminaries, and promoting general good order and religious improvement.
The next great event which marked the progress of the Reformation was the publication of the Augsburg Confession, containing a statement of the leading articles of the Protestant faith. Melancthon was the author of this celebrated document, in the preparation of which he was aided by Luther and others. It was soon translated into all the European languages, and universally read, even by Kings and Princes. The Emperor refused to have it publicly read in the Diet, though earnestly requested by the Protestant Princcs. Melancthon desired that it might be signed only by the theologians; but the Princes choose rather to attach their own signatures, which were,
Joux, Duke Elector of Saxony,
Senate of Reutlingen. When it was read, Eckius was asked by William, Duke of Bavaria, whether it might be overthrown out of the holy Scriptures ? He answered, “No; but it might by the Fathers !" Upon which, Cardinal Albert, Archbishop of Mentz, observed to the Duke, “ Behold how firmly our Divines support us ! The Protestants prove what they say out of the holy Scriptures; but we have our doctrine without Scripture."
An answer was immediately prepared by Eckius, John Faber, and other advocates of the Papacy. The submission of the Protestant Princes was commanded by the Emperor, on pain of being compelled by the sword to lose dignity, possessions, and even life. All hope of accommodation was now at an end.
Melancthon said, “We expect violent measures; for no moderation can satisfy the Popish faction. They, in fact, seek our destruction.”
An apology for the Confession was prepared by Melancthon, and presented by the Princes to the Emperor, who refused to receive it.
The conduct of Melancthon in this august assembly shed increasing lustre on the Protestant cause. The Popish party strove hard to gain him over, but with combined meekness and courage, he stood firm, trusting that God