« AnteriorContinuar »
Rome," he says; "Let them condemn me and burn my books, and if I do not in return publicly condemn and burn the whole pontifical code, it will only be from the want of fire." So in December, he caused to be heaped up without the walls of Wittemburg, a great pile of wood, and there, upon the 10th, in the presence of a great multitude, burnt "the empty papers of Anti-Christ."
In 1521, came the Diet of Worms; and then Luther's confinement by his patron the Elector of Saxony, at the Castle of Wartburg, for safe keeping; during which time Melancthon was at the head of the reforming party. During this same year he published several of his most valuable and popular works; we may mention, before others, the "Common places," of which Luther says, "it is the next best book to the Holy Scripture."
From this time the course of Philip was straight and sure; full of kindness, and always disposed to think others might be right, he showed sometimes what Luther's hot zeal thought timidity, but what, in truth, was humble liberality-he feared himself and feared error, but other men he feared not. When Campeggio sought to win him to the Papal side, he refused, saying, that what he believed to be true, he believed so, not for gain or favor; and that in his efforts to spread it, he would still go on. And when Erasmus, sleek and slippery, sought to flatter and win him from the Reformers to literature, if not catholicism, he replied, "I would oppose the sentiments of Luther, strenuously, if the Scriptures were on the other side, but most certainly I shall never change my sentiments from a regard to human authority, or from the dread of disgrace;" the essence of Reformation was never more simply and strongly spoken.
In June 1526, the Diet of Spires convened, for the purpose of carrying into effect the sentence of that at Worms, by which Luther and his followers had been condemned as heretics; but in five years the good work had gone on bravely, the princes of the empire would not longer passively submit; Lutherans were heard in their defence; a memorial, drawn up by Melancthon, was read; and it was at length determined that a general council of the Church ought to be called, and that meanwhile the German Princes would act independently on the subject of religion.
After this Diet, came two years of peace, during which Melanthon prepared and published a directory for the Reformed Churches; and because this little book contained no bitterness, nor hard names, both Catholics and Reformers inclined to think Melancthon verging from Luther; so little able were they to
comprehend a Christian spirit. This directory is memorable, also, from the opposition made to it by John Agricola, the founder of the Antinomians, a sect whose tenets are too unnatural and unchristian to rule many minds in any age; for they not only profess, as do all anti-Unitarian creeds, (not persons) the entire inefficacy of good works, but, carrying to the full logical extent this doctrine, argued from it the perfect innocence of all bad works, that is, in the elect,-for in the non-elect every act, however pure and excellent, is sin deserving eternal woe.
In 1529 the second Diet of Spires took place, at which, through the influence of the Emperor, Charles V, the former resolutions were recalled, and the Reformers denounced; against which they entered their Protest, whence comes the name of Protestants.
the cause of the Gospel was taken up by armed men-the Protestants were too weak to withstand the foe, and many hundreds were driven from their homes.
Luther was now dead, and the whole weight of labor fell upon Melancthon, who was also obliged to bear with persecution from his own side, who could not comprehend his fairness, and his kind and truth-loving spirit.
But there is one spot upon even the white mantle of Philip, and that not in act only, but in principle; he, with all the other Reformers, approved on principle of the burning of Servetus. "I am astonished," he says, "that any one should disapprove of this proceeding." So much even of Melancthon, remained to be reformed.* We may, however, from what has been said, learn, at least, not to accuse Calvin as peculiarly cruel and intolerant:-Punishment by the civil magistrate for religious heresy was believed right, by both Catholics and Protestants.
After this, until his death, in April 1560, Melancthon was overpowered with business and disputation. His temper, which was naturally very melancholic, sometimes almost failed under the hard labors of his place, and the torrents of abuse poured upon him. But his faith never swerved, his courage never failed, his liberality never gave out. He had labored for the truth, not for his own glory or profit, and his death was calm and full of hope.
But even after death calumny was not spared-many, even at this day, think him to have been a weak, timid, half-way Reformer; never was there a greater mistake. He could, like his Saviour, weep; and, like him, forgive and pray for his foes; but he could also, like him, have endured all, even death upon the cross, for the Truth.
J. H. P.
ART. XII.-WAR AND GLORY.
If we go to war with France, I suppose it will be "all for honor." Now I think it highly important that we should know something about this deity of honor, to whom men offer such "grateful hecatombs" in sacritice. That we may do so, I wish to make an extract to give some idea of the exactions of this god of Glory. It is from the Christian Register of Bos ton, and is as follows.
*The first principal ground of heresy, for which Servetus suffered, was, that he said that Canaan was fruitful; whereas, it was barren.
"It once happened, that two neighboring States in the great region of Eutopia had a serious misunderstanding with each other. To make the whole matter plain to the bluntest perception, the circumstances were as follows:
The nation of Analethe had agreed to pay their neighbors, the Philo-Kerdians, 2,500 pieces of silver, it being, as they agreed "for value received," of course a debt acknowledged to be just. The money was due, yet the Analethians suffered several years to pass without offering payment. The nation creditors, though in no want of the money-wisely deeming its property safer in specie than in bill, made a somewhat importunate demand for the cash. This was resented by the debtor-nation, which, willing enough to satisfy such a demand, when courteously presented, pronounced this a gross insult to the national honor.
It is easy to begin quarrels; to end them, alone, is difficult. Each envenomed word from the one, produced a whole poisoned page from the other nation. The national honor of both people was thought to be severely wounded, and the state physicians who consulted upon the case, decided that nothing less than four years of war, or its equivalent, would save it from dissolution. It may perhaps gratify the curious, to know that in Eutopia, an individual's honor consisted in paying his debts, and attending to the several modifications of an old rule they had found convenient in little matters,-viz:-"treat others as you wish to be treated;" but national honor was a different affair. There were but few Eutopians who knew in what it consisted, and they even never named but one of the duties it demanded, viz;-that of "avenging the smallest insult." When they were pressed, as they often were, for a more complete explanation, they were uniformly silent, passing for wise men.
Both nations acquiesced in the prescription of the physicians, but knowing four years of war would be somewhat tedious, and would, besides, disturb their schemes of internal improvement, they decided to take the equivalent, as the least bitter of the two remedies. The only question now was, what should be an equivalent. A grand assembly of the learned in such matters was assembled, who decided as follows: The Philo-Kerdians should put to death 124,716 men, from the age of 21 to 45,-34,608 of whom should be fathers of families; 117,419 men, women, and children of all ages, were also to be slain, and 246,748 men to be maimed in various degrees; a third of their shipping was to be sunk, cargo and crew sharing the same fate, and cities and villages, comprising 63,417 houses were to be burned up. Cattle were to be left unmolested, a
they were needed for the schemes of improvement, but all the finest works of art were to be destroyed. The Analethians, who were twice as numerous as their neighbors, were to suffer only half as much. The loss having been found out, by a minute inquiry into previous wars to be in inverse ratio to the power to sustain it. This was solemnly sworn to, on both sides; a suitable number of public butchers was selected to kill the appointed number, who had been drafted agreeable to a law, "in such cases made and provided." These men were put to death, some instantaneously, others by various gradations of torture, an exquisite genius having been found, to devise a plan for imitating the common deaths of soldiers, by pestilence, wounds, fatigue, starvation and broken hearts. The appointed number was also maimed in various ways, easy enough to imagine, but improper to describe.
It had not escaped the sagacity of the learned, who had recommended this measure, that only a small part of the evils of war, consisted in the destruction of property or even of life, so they attempted to imitate its moral blightings, though here they confessed their inability. They, however, ordered all schools, colleges, and churches to be shut during the four years. All criminals were set free, tippling houses, and all places of "villianous resort," were supported at the public expense. Shopkeepers left their goods exposed to theft, the better to encourage vice, while the law offered complete indemnity for all crime.
The two nations thus carried the plan into action, remaining quietly at peace all the time. At the end of the four years, the 2,500 pieces of silver were punctually paid over to the creditor, and national honor recovered, and looked as fresh and ruddy, as after a four years of actual war. It is thought the above historical fragment may not be without its use in future ages."
THE EMIGRANT'S LESSON.
I left my own New-England home,—
His ice cold winter round me flung,