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danger, immutable in his purpose ; opposition confirmed his de. cision, difficulties increased his confidence in God, and strengthened his adherence to the path of duty. His sentiments made a rapid progress, a host of opponents arose against him, but their violence and imbecility served merely to render the triumph of the Reformer the more conspicuous. The court of Rome became, at length, roused to a view of their danger, and, as if given up of God to pursue those courses which would prove most favourable to their adversaries, they seemed to lose that vigour and policy by which they had so long wielded the destinies of Europe, and, by a mixture of violence, indecision and duplicity, defeated their own purposes, while the cause of the Reformation was daily advancing. At the same time, to withdraw the affections of men from a system of religious sentiment and practice, confirmed by the veneration of ages, purposely constructed in such a manner as to attach all the dominant affections of the human heart, was one of the most arduous labours ever undertaken, and not to be effected except by the special assistance of the providence of God.
Luther had many great and efficient fellow-labourers. In different countries, men the most distinguished for talents, learning, and piety, espoused the cause of the Reformation, and advocated it with unshaken constancy and perseverance. The most eminent of these were Zuinglius in Switzerland, Melancthon in Germany, Calvin in France, and Cranmer in England. Luther also enjoyed the uniform protection and favour of his sovereign, the Elector of Saxony, while several other independent princes of Germany and many of the free cities warmly espoused his cause.
After several ineffectual attempts to produce a reconciliation, the court of Rome formally condemned the sentiments of Luther, and, a few months after, January 1521, he was solemnly excommunicated by the Pope and subjected to all those anathemas which had so long been the terror of sovereign princes and whole nations. A little before this event, knowing what was designed against him, Luther, in a public and solemn manner, denounced the authority of the Roman Pontiff, and withdrew from all that portion of the Christian church that continued to acknowledge him as its supreme head. A few months after his excommunication at Rome, he was condemned by the Diet of Germany, with the approbation of the Emperor Charles V. and declared an enemy of the empire. He was now placed in the situation of a public enemy, and his life was exposed to the rage of his numerous adversaries. But he had many friends, and God was his protector.
The Reformer, in connexion with Melancthon and others, now proceeded to the formation of a church upon the principles of the gospel of Christ, which he denominated the Evangelical, but it has ever been called by his followers and others, the Lutheran Church. This was made the established church in
Saxony in the year 1527, and the elector, as chief magistrate in his dominions, was acknowledged its supreme head.
At the Diet of Spire, in 1529, it was decreed that no prince of the empire should be allowed to regulate the concerns of religion in his own territories, and that all change of the established Catholic religion, in doctrine, discipline, or worship, should be deemed unlawful. Against this unjust decree, the Elector of Saxony, and five other princes of the empire, with the deputies of thirteen imperial cities, Protested, and appealed to the decision of a general Council of the Church, (which they insisted should be convoked,) as the only proper authori. ty to decide on these subjects. In consequence of this protest, the followers of Luther were denominated Protestants-A general term which was applied to all who adopted the principles of the Reformation in opposition to the Catholic church, and has continued to the present time.
Nothing in the character of the Reformers demands such high admiration as their extraordinary moderation. In most revolutions, when long established systems are broken, when the base injustice and stern oppressions of tyranny are exposed, when the minds of men are unhinged by the breaking of the shackles in which they have long been bound, they throw off restraint and vibrate to the opposite extreme. On this account, good men have always dreaded revolution more than the continuance of existing evils. The people of Europe had long been accustomed to look upon the Roman Catholic system as Christianity; and they knew of no other system of revealed religion. They were, at the same time, deeply tinctured with licentiousness and vice. Why they did not, under such circumstances, abandon all religion as imposture, and run to the license of infidelity and the dogmas of atheism, is one of the most astonishing events to be found in the history of man. To the Protestant Reformers, and the sixteenth century belongs the extraordinary honour of having broken, effectually, the strongest power and one of the most extensive systems of error, that have ever existed, and stopped the terrible current of revolution at the precise point of rational freedom, government and truth. Rather, it was done by the mercy of God. This was a greater work than the human mind has ever performed. HE who promised his gracious presence to his people, even unto the end of the world, enlightened their minds, sanctified their bearts, imparted to them divine wisdom, and led them to such results as fixed his Church on the immutable basis of the truth of God. No material improvement has been made in the condition of Protestant churches from the days of the Reformation to the present time.
The Protestant Church is divided into various classes and denominations, which will now be noticed in order.
The Lutherans derive their name from Martin Luther, a celebrated reformer, who sprung up and opposed the church of Rome with great vehemence and success, in the beginning of the 16th century.
The system of faith embraced by the Lutherans, was drawn up by Luther and Malancthon, and presented to the Emperor Charles V., in 1530, at the diet of Augusta, or Augsburg, and hence called the Augustan or Augsburg Confession. It is divided into two parts, of which the former, containing twentyone articles, was designed to represent, with truth and perspicuity, the religious opinions of the reformers ; and the latter, containing seven articles, is employed in pointing out and confuting the seven capital errors which occasioned their separation from the church of Rome : these were communion in one kind, the forced celibacy of the clergy, private masses, auricular confession, legendary tradition, monastic vows, and the excessive power of the church. The leading doctrines of this confession are the true and essential divinity of the Son of God ; its substitution and vicarious sacrifice ; and the necessity, freedom, and efficacy of divine grace.
From the time of Luther to the present day, no change has been introduced into the doctrine and discipline received in this church. The method, however, of illustrating, enforcing, and defending the doctrines of Christianity, has undergone several changes in the Lutheran church ; and, though the confessions continue the same, yet some of the doctrines which were warmly maintained by Luther, have been of late wholly abandoned by his followers. In particular, the doctrines of absolute predestination, human impotence, and irresistible grace, for which Luther was a zealous advocate, have been rejected by most of his followers, and are now generally known by the name of Calvinistic doctrines. The Lutherans now maintain, in regard to the divine decrees, that they respect the salvation or misery of men, in consequence of “a previous knowledge of their sentiments and character,” and not with the Calvinists, as founded on “ the mere will of God.”
The capital articles which Luther maintained are as follow ; to which are added a few of the Texts and arguments which he employed in their defence.
i. That the holy scriptures are the only source whence we are to draw our religious sentiments, whether they relate to faith or practice, John v. 39. 1 Cor. iv. 16. 2 Tim. iii. 15.17. Reason also confirms the sufficiency of the scriptures : for if the written word be allowed to be a rule in one case, how can it be denied to be a rule in another?
2. That justification is the effect of faith, exclusive of good
works ; and that faith ought to produce good works purely in obedience to God, and not in order to our justification :* for St. Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, strenuously opposed those who ascribe our justification (though but in part) to works : If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Gal. ii. 21. Therefore it is evident we are not justified by the law, or by our works ; but to him who believeth, sin is par doned, and Christ's righteousness imputed.
3. That no man is able to make satisfaction for his sins ; for our Lord teaches us to say, when we have done all things that are commanded, We are unprofitable servants. Luke xvji. 10. Christ's sacrifice is alone sufficient to satisfy for sin, and nothing need be added to the infinite value of his atonement.
Luther also rejected tradition, purgatory, penance, auricular confession, masses, invocation of saints, monastic vows, and. other doctrines of the church of Rome.
On the points of Predestination, Original Sin, and FreeWill, Luther coincided with Calvin, and sometimes expressed himself more strongly ; but on matters of Church discipline they widely differed; likewise on the presence of Christ's body in the Sacrament. His followers also deviated from him in some things : but the following may be considered as a fair statement of their principles, and the difference between them and the Calvinists: (1.) The Lutherans have bishops and superintendants for the government of the church. But the ecclesiastical government which Calvin introduced was called Presbyterian; and does not admit of the institution of bishops, or of any subordination among the clergy. (2.) They differ in their notions of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Lutherans reject transubstantiation ; but affirm that the body and blood of Christ are materially present in the sacrament, though in an incomprehensible manner; this they called consubstantiation. The Calvinists hold, on the contrary, that Jesus Christ is only spiritually present in the ordinance, by the external signs of bread and wine. (3.) They differ in their doctrine of the eternal decrees of God respecting man's salvation. The modern Lutherans maintain that the divine decrees, respecting the salvation and misery of men, are founded upon the divine prescience. The Calvinists, on the contrary, consider these decrees as absolute and unconditional.
In 1523, Luther drew up a liturgy or form of prayer and administration of the sacraments, which, in many particulars, differed little from the mass of the church of Rome. But he did not intend to confine his followers to this form ; and hence every country, where Lutheranism prevails, has its own liturgy,
* Luther constantly opposed this doctrine to the Romish tenet, that man by works of his own, prayer, fasting, and corporeal afflictions, might merit and claim pardon : and he used to call the doctrine of jus. tification by faith alone “Articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ." In article with which the church must stand or fall.
which is the rule of proceeding in all that relates to external worship, and the public exercise of religion. The liturgies used in the different countries, which have embraced the system of Luther, perfectly agree in all the essential branches of religion, in all matters that can be considered as of real moment and importance ; but they differ widely in many things of an indifferent nature, concerning which the Scriptures are silent, and which compose that part of the public religion that derives its authority from the wisdom and appointment of men. Assemblies for the celebration of divine worship meet every where at stated times. Here the Holy Scriptures are publicly read ; prayers and hymns addressed to the Deity; the sacraments administered ; and the people instructed in the knowledge of religion, and excited to the practice of virtue, by the discourses of their ministers.
Of all Protestants, the Lutherans are perhaps those who differ least from the church of Rome, not only in regard to their doctrine of consubstantiation, namely, that the body and blood of Christ are materially present in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, though in an incomprehensible manner ; or, that the partakers of the Lord's Supper receive along with, under, and in the bread and wine, the real body and blood of Christ, but likewise as they represent several religious practices and ceremonies as tolerable, and some of them useful, which are retained in no other Protestant church. Among these may be reckoned the forms of exorcism in the celebration of baptism ; the use of wafers in the administration of the Lord's Supper ; the private confession of sins ; the use of images, of incense, and of lighted tapers in their churches (particularly at the celebration of the Lord's Supper,) with a crucifix on the altar. All these are practices of the church of Rome. Some of them, lowever, are not general, but confined to particular parts.
In every country were Lutheranism is established, the supreme head of the state is, at the same time, the supreme visible ruler of the church ; but “all civil rulers of the Lutheran persuasion are effectually restrained, by the fundamental principles of the doctrine they profess, from any attempts to change or destroy the established rule of faith and manners,-to make any alteration in the essential doctrines of their religion, or in any thing intimately connected with them, or to impose their particular opinions upon their subjects in a despotic and arbitrary manner.” The councils, or societies, appointed by the sovereign to watch over the interests of the church, and to gov. ern and direct its affairs, are composed of persons versed in the knowledge both of civil and ecclesiastical law, and, accord, ing to a very ancient denomination, are called Consistories, The internal government of the Lutheran Church seems to be in some respects anomalous. It bears no resemblance to Independency, and yet it is equally removed from Episcopacy on the one hand, and from Presbyterianism on the other. We must, however, except the kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark