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Christianity the Church of Rome was not considered superior to other Churches; and on the authority of scripture, the writings of the fathers, authentick ecclesiastical history, and even the decrees of the council of Nice, denied all the lofty claims of that Church and its lordly Bishop. Hoffman, the president of the disputation, refused to declare victory to either party, but left the decision to the univer. sities of Paris and Urfurt. The audience, however, declared in favour of the reformer; and Eckius, by the resentment and deadly hatred which he manifested towards Luther, proclaimed that he felt himself beaten.
Soon after this event, Philip Melancthon, and Uric Zuinglius, joined the ranks of the reformers, and Erasmus evidently favoured their causemen the most distinguished of their age, Now the march of the reformation became more bold
Eckius, on his defeat at Leipsic, repaired to Rome with his complaints; and, by his instigations, Leo was at length induced to assemble the college of cardinals to prepare a sentence of excommunication against Luther. On the 15th June, 1520, the bull was issued. In it, forty-one propositions, collected from the reformer's works, were condemned as heretical, all persons were forbidden to read his works, and they, who possessed any of them, were commanded to burn them. Luther, himself, if he did not within sixty days renounce his errours, and burn his books, was pronounced an obstinate here. tick, excommunicated, and delivered over to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh; and all secular
princes, under pain of incurring the same censure, were required to seize his person, that he might be punished as his crimes merited.
Luther, learning the decision of the conclave against him, deliberately prepared himself for his defence. As Pope Leo had burnt his works, Luther, surrounded by an immense multitude of all ranks, burnt, in the environs of Wittemburg, the pontiff's bull, and the decrees and canons respecting the supremacy and dominion of the Bishop of Rome. He next collected from the canon law the most extravagant propositions respecting the extent of Papal power, and the subordination of all civil authority to the see of Rome. These he published, with pointed comments, shewing their arrogance, their impiety, and their inconsistency with the existence of civil authority. Within one month after this publication, a second bull was fulminated against him from the conclave, by which he was expelled from the communion of the Church, for having insulted the majesty and disowned the supremacy of the Roman pontiff.
Being thus excommunicated, Luther employed himself in forming a system of doctrines and rules of discipline for a Church, conformable to his views of the New Testament, which was established, and exists to this day, under the denomination of the Lutheran Church.
Charles V., having succeeded his grandfather as Emperor of Germany, one of the first acts of his administration was to summon a diet of the empire, to be assembled in January, 1521, at Worms; and the express purpose of the meeting was, to concert the proper measures to check the progress of these new and dangerous opinions, which threatened to disturb the peace of Germany, and to overthrow the teligion of their ancestors.
When the diet was opened, the Pope's legates insisted that the assem. bly was bound without deliberation to condemn the man whom the Roman pontiff had already excom. municated as an obstinate heretick. The emperor expressed his readiness to comply with the meas. ure; but the elector of Saxony, the faithful friend of Luther, plead that he ought to be tried by the canons of the Germanic Church, and by the laws of the empire. In pursuance of this advice, the diet resolved that Luther should be summoned be. fore their body, and allowed an hearing before sentence was pronounced on his cause.
The conse. quent summons the reformer determined to obey. From this resolution his friends endeavoured to dissuade him, reminding him that a plighted faith was not observed with a heretick; and though he received a solemn assurance of security, and a safe conduct was sent him from the emperor, yet this was not deemed a foundation of confidence ; and they referred to the reformer Huss, who was exe. cuted with an emperor's safe conduct in his hands. To this remonstrance Luther replied, “I am law. fully called to appear at Worms, and thither will I go, in the name of the Most High God, though as many devils as there are tiles on the houses, were there combined against me.” On the 16th of April, Luther arrived at Worms, where crowds of people were assembled to behold him, and where he in general received the most respectful treatment. Before the diet, he plead the cause of Christian truth and liberty with much self-possession and great force of argumentbut all to no effect.Some of the assembly proposed to seize the oppor. tunity of his presence, and at once to rid the Church of so pestilent an heretick; but the emperor refused to forfeit his plighted word. No sooner, however, had he left the city, than in the emperor's name, and by the authority of the diet, a severe edict passed against him, by which he was pronounced an obstinate heretick, a member cut off from the Church, deprived of the privileges which he had enjoyed as a member of the empire; and the heaviest punishments were denounced against those, who should receive, entertain, or countenance him, either by acts of hospitality, by conversation, or writing ; and all were required to give their aid in seizing his person as soon as the term of his safe conduct should expire.”
Regardless of these anathemas, Luther prepared to publish his translation of the bible, which was extensively circulated in Germany, and produced astonishing effects on the minds of the people. A number of the princes, and a large portion of the population, adopted the principles of Luther, and formed a confederacy to support the reformed Churches.
In June, 1526, a diet of the einpire was holden at Spires, in which the influence of the reformers was so great, that a resolution passed, that till a general council should be convened, the princes and states of the empire should, in their respective
dominions, be at liberty to manage ecclesiastical concerns in the manner they should deem the most expedient. But this tranquillity was not of long duration. A new diet was assembled in 1529, and the former edict was revoked, and a decree passed, that every change from the established religion should be considered as unlawful. Against this decree all the friends of the reformation remonstrated; and from the protest they then made, the name of Protestants is derived. The emperor determined to enforce the edict by the sword. Protestants, in consequence of the war that issued, were exposed to severe sufferings ; but the empe. ror found insurmountable difficulties in the attempt to subdue the opposition to the Roman pontiff; and after frequent changes among the German princes had taken place, and many conflicting interests had appeared, the emperor became discouraged, and in 1552, he concluded a treaty of pacification, which secured the German protestants in their Christian liberty. In 1555, the diet of the empire assembled at Augsburg, and ratified the treaty of the emperor Charles. This was denominated the peace of religion ; and by it a great portion of Germany was separated from the authority of the Pope, and left in quietness to worship God agreeably to the dictates of a conscience enlightened in his word. At least, no restraint was imposed after this period, by the Roman pontiff. This was thirty-eight years from the time that Luther attacked Tetzel for his abomi. nable traffick in indulgences.