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been beautifully noticed by D’Aubigné in ence, that even his heart sometimes misgave the commencement of his third volume ; him before the performance of that most sigwhere he show's, that the impression that nificant act. 'I burnt the Papal books and Luther was a rash, headlong revolutionist, the bull,' he writes to Staupitz a month after, is altogether erroneous.
with trembling and prayer; but I am now But we further mean to assert, that in better pleased with that act than with any the most audacious actions of his life, that other of my whole life.” very audacity, in the majority of instances, The same wisdom marked the courawas itself wisdoin. Take, for example, his geous obstinacy with which, in spite of enletter from the Wartburg to Albert Arch- treaties, intimidations, and sickness, he perbishop of Mayence, commanding rather sisted in presenting himself at the Diei of than beseeching him, not to revive the in- Worms. He alone, of all his party, seemed famous Indulgences. We do not defend duly to appreciate the importance, the nethe taste or decency of the style; but the cessity, of that act to the safety of his great result proves that Luther knew his man. enterprise. At that critical moment, adIt was followed by a reply as deferential vance as well as retreat was full of danger; as if the monk had been the archbishop, and but the path of true policy, as well as of the archbishop the monk. It was on this true magnanimity, was to advance. His occasion that he used some most remarka- obstinacy at this crisis has something absoble expressions to Spalatin, who had enjoin- lutely sublime about it. While his eneed silence, and who had enforced his in- mies, more perspicacious than his friends, junctions by those of Frederic :- I have distrusted, and at last dreaded his appearseldom read more unwelcome letters than ance, employed all scrts of machinations to your last,' he writes; 'so that I not only deter him, and plainly hinted that the road delayed to reply, but had determined not to Worms was the road to destruction, while to reply at all. I will not bear what you his friends, with a terrible remembrance of have said, that the Pi ice will not suffer the the fate of Huss before th
eyes, to whom Archbishop to be written to, nor that I even the Imperial safe-conduct had been no should disturb the public peace. I will protection, painted, in appalling colors, the rather lose you-the Prince—and every certain martyrdom to which he was exposcreature on earth. If I have resisted the ing himself, Luther remained inflexible. Archbishop's creator, the Pope-shall I The repeated and varied forms in which he succumb to the Pope's creature ? energetically expressed his purpose, showNon sic, Spalatine; non sic, Princeps. ed the importance he attached to the act, I am resolved not to listen to you; fixum and the obstinacy with which he had reest, te non auditum iri.'*
solved upon it.
Two are well known :In like manner, his Appeal to a Future Should they light a fire which should Council, prepared while awaiting the ful- blaze as high as heaven, and reach from mination of the Bull, but surreptitiously Wittemberg to Worms, at Worms I will published before it came, (as Luther ex- still appear.' · Though there were as many pressly affirms,) brought thousands to his devils in Worms as there are tiles on the standard ; and still more may be said for houses, in would I go-noch wollt ich hinethose bold and unsparing invectives against in.' But his letters, written on his prothe abuses of Rome, in the ‘Babylonish gress thither, abound in expressions of the Captivity, and in the ' Address to the Ger- same inflexibility. We come, my Spalaman Nobility. It may be similarly assert- tin,' he writes from Frankfort. ed, that no measure whatever could have. We will enter Worms in spite of all the been so critically well-timed as that most gates of hell, and all the powers of the air.'+ decisive one of committing the decretals Will you go on?' said the Imperial herand entire pontifical code to the flames, ald to him at Weimar, where they were and crowning the hecatomb with the for- placarding the Imperial edict against him. midable bull itself. It is not only one of I will,' replied Luther; though I should the most striking events of history, and ex- be put under interdict in every town—'I hibits the chief actor in an attitude truly will go on.' sublime, but was a most felicitous and po- And his appearance and language at litic expedient. It is curious, however, to Worms, did more to promote the cause of hear Luther admitting, in his correspond the Reformation than any other act, whether
* De Wette, vol. ii. p. 94.
* De Wette, vol. i. p. 543. " Ib. vol. i. p. 587. * De Wette, vol. iv. p. 52, # Ib, p. 88. the true policy of the Reformers was what # Ib. p. 92.
of preceding or succeeding years. He fit had been-that of uncompromising firm-
“Will you retract them He published one at Worms !'! 'Should or not?”
“Then get about your it come to pass,' he writes to the same friend business.' So heb dich.'
a month after, that you concede any thing During the sittings of the celebrated Diet plainly against the gospel, and enclose that of Augsburg, (held nearly ten years after eagle in a vile sack, Luther, (never doubt that of Worms,) Luther, it is well known, it,)-Luther will come, and, in a magnifiwas persuaded to remain at Coburg, whence cent fashion, set the noble bird free.'S M. he watched with intense and, as his letters D’Aubigné's work has not yet reached this at this period so often testify, impatient period; but there are no letters of Luther interest, the proceedings of his less prompt more interesting than the series which relate and perspicacious colleagues. On this oc- to the proceedings of this memorable Diet. casivu he showed his thorough knowledge With such talents for the conduct of afof the treacherous and crafty policy, the fairs, we need not wonder that the prudent spirit of subtle intrigue, which had so often Frederic so often sought his counsels; that characterized Rome-those Italiant arts,' Melanchon should have so eulogized his Italitates as he designates them when speak- sagacity in his funeral panegyric; or that ing so many years before of the feigned Cajetan should have wished to decline cordialities of the Nuncio Miltitz- arts' further encounters with him. I will have which he dreaded for Melancthon more than nothing more to do with this beast, for he violence, and of which the Papal diplomacy has deep-set eyes, and wonderful speculawas never more prodigal than on this occa- tions in his head.' sion. While the timid Melancthon was We have repeatedly stated, that the in
cutting and contriving' to perform impos- tellect of Luther did not particularly fit him sibilities, to find a coinmon measure of in- for the investigation of abstract or speculacommensurables-sewing new cloth upon tive truth; but in all matters of a practical old garments, and putting new wine into nature-in all that concerned the manageold bottles,' striving to diminish to an in- ment of affairs or the conduct of lise, his visible line the interval between some of the judgment was both penetrating and prodoctrines of his adversaries and his own, found. Hence, while nothing can be more adopting all sorts of little artifices and con- flimsy than his metaphysics, nothing can be venient ambiguities of expression, to show more generally sound than his practical the harmony of doctrines which must be judginents. Incapable of stating truth with eternally discordant-Luther boldly remon- philosophical precision, or laying it down strates against a policy so ruinous; assures with all its requisite limitations, he was a him that, whatever the apparent pliability great master of that rough moral computaof Rome, nothing but absolute submission tion, which contents itself for practical purwould satisfy her imperious spirit; and that
f Ib. p, 155,
poses with approximate accuracy. This character, and look most provokingly phiwas especially the case in relation to that losophic as to whether his views are effectclass of truths, in which a magnanimous ually urged on mankind or not. At all mind, and lofty moral instincts, anticipate events, if he become a zealous writer on the lagging deductions of reason; and which their behalf, it requires something more to are better understood and enforced by the encounter suffering for them; and while heart than by the head. His writings almost every religion has had those who abound in weighty and solid maxims, in have dared all and endured all in its defence, which both the data and the demonstration the annals of science scarcely present us are alike suppressed.
with the name of a single authentic martyr. To great sagacity Luther also added, in Philosophers have been illustrious benefaca pre-eminent degree, that passionate ear-tors of mankind; but it requires more ennestness of character which leads men not ergy of passion, and a sterner nature than only to hold truth tenaciously, but to take generally falls to their lot, to ruffle it with every
means in their power to diffuse, the world—to encounter obloquy, persecupropagate, and realize it; to make it vic- tion, and death in defence of truth. Even torious. In Luther, no doubt, the princi- Galileo was but too ready to recant when pal spring of this impulse was depth of re- menaced with martyrdom, and to set the ligious conviction; but the tendency itself sun, which he had so impiously stopped, on is as much an eleinent of character in some his great diurnal, journey again. It is true men, as the love of contemplation is in that he is said to have relapsed into heresy others. It is a form of ambition-a noble the moment after he had recanted, and one, it is true—the ambition of intellectual drolly whispered, ' But the earth does move dominion; and has actualed many a philos- though.' Yet while the profession of error opher who flattered himself that he was was uttered aloud, the confession of truth single-eyed in his pursuit of wisdom. This was made sotto voce. As Pascal says of the warlike and polemic spirit is, no doubt, reservations of the Jesuits, C'est dire la véoften most inconsistent with a calm and rité tout bas, et un mensonge tout haut. cautious survey of all the relations and de- Nor can it be said that the class of phitails of great questions. But it is well for losophers have in general been disposed to the world that there are some who, with risk more, where truth has been practical speculative powers at least robust enough and better calculated to influence the affecto enable them to seize large fragments of tions. The ancient philosophers are a notruth, are immediately impelled to commu•torious example of the contrary. They nicate it. Partial truth diffused, is better saw and scorned the puerilities of the anthan perfect truth supressed—better than cient systems of superstition, but without stark ignorance and error-better than that vigorously attempting to destroy them, or condition of things in which Luther found to substitute better notions in their place. the world.
It was sufficient for them to make the conAnd if the vehemence, natural to such venient distinction between the exoteric and minds, sometimes precipitates the conclu- the esoteric. They could join in the popusions of reason, or substitutes prejudices for lar rites with gravity of face and laughter in them, it is to be remembered that it will their hearts, and worship their gods and be long before the same earnestness and sneer at them at the same time. zeal, in contending for truth, will be man- The vehemence of Luther's passions, and ifested by those intellects which abstracted- the energy of his will, formed most remarkaly are best qualified to investigate it. It ble features of his character—as much so would, doubtless, be very beautiful to see assuredly as any quality of his intellectthe tranquillity of the philosopher conjoined and enabled him, in conjunction with that with the fire of the advocate-first, intellect lofty confidence, that heroic faith-which without passion, and then intellect with it. seemed to take for literal truth the declaraBut it is a condition denied to us. If there lion, 'what things soever ye desire, when be great energy of character, the processes ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and of reason will often be precipitated or dis- ye shall have them'-to effect greater things turbed ; if the coolness and equanimity of ihan were probably ever effected by the temperament which these require, the same same qualities before. Not only the pliant qualities will unhappily continue to operate Melancthon yielded to the superior decision when their work is completed. The phi- and energy of his nature, as much, at least, losopher will still be api to vindicate his as to his judgment, but Princes and No
bles often yielded to it; and as to the com- indulgences, of the monastic institute, of mon people, his confident bearing and reso- the celibacy of the clergy, of the mass, of lute will achieved more than half his victo- the usurpations of the Pope. The spectary over them. In many instances, he seems cle is a noble one. The maxims and the to have made his way solely by the influ- institutes which he denounced with so much ence of an all-conquering enthusiasm and energy and confidence, had been consecratan inflexible purpose. His faith realized ed by universal veneration, and were coverits own visions, and almost literally proveded by the awful hoar of ages. The preitself to be capable of removing moun- judices which he vanquished had been intains.'
stilled into his childhood, and they were reOn comparatively trivial occasions, and tained till he reached manhood; they were when in the wrong, (not seldom the case, the prejudices of all his contemporaries ; this intensity of passion and inflexibility of they held dominion not only over the most purpose, must have made him no very plea- timid, but over the most powerful intellects; sani coadjutor. Even the amiable Melanc- they had bound even 'kings in chains, and thon murmured after his death at the severi- nobles in fetters of iron ;' and almost every ty of that yoke, which, while Luther lived, attempt, certainly all recent attempts to dehe bore with much enduring meekness. molish them, had been crushed by a despotWe wish, for Melancthon's own manhood, ism which united the utmost degree of he had either murmured earlier, or not craft with the most ruthless employment murmured at all. But in a great crisis, of violence, and was the most compact and where the Reformer was in the right, and formidable the world ever saw. That the qualities of mind we are now consider- he should have been able to denude himself ing, exhibit him in aspects full of grandeur. of such prejudices—boldly to avow this His enthusiasm is heroic, his energy of great mental revolution—and give utterance will sublime. It is curious to contrast his to a series of novel and startling dogmas in almost childish obstinacy and rabid viru- opposition to them, is an example of indelence in relation to Zwingle and the Sacra- pendence and fearlessness of mind, which mentarians, with the dignity of his deport- ihe world had never before witnessed. ment, under the influence of similar inflexi- Our wonder is still further increased, bility of character, before and at the diet when we reflect that Luther himself was of Worins. It was with him as with many originally as passionate a devotee of the syspowerful minds—great occasions calmed tem he renounced, as he afterwards became him; the energy was commensurate to the of that for which he renounced it. Nor objects which called it forth; the weight could he have been otherwise. The very upon the machine was proportional to its depth and sincerity of his character formomentum ; and slow and majestic move- bade that he should hold any thing lightly; ment took the place of a self-destroying and whether he was right or wrong, he was and turbulent force.
always in earnest. While he was a Papist, There was one peculiarity about Luther, he was a blind one; like Paul, 'an Hebrew of which we know not whether it most illus- of the Hebrews; and, as touching the law, trates the robustness of his intellect or the a Pharisee. He was none of those halfenergy of his will, but it renders his charac- infidel ecclesiastics who abounded at Rome, ter absolutely unique. We mean the ra- and were the natural offspring of the age; pidity and comparative ease with which he men who saw through the superstition which triumphed over the deepest prejudices of they yet sanctioned, and conducted, with his age and education ;-Roman Catholics edifying solemnity of visage, the venerable would doubtless say over his happiest pre- rites at which they were all the while inpossessions. But this matters not to our ternally chuckling. He himself tells us, present observation, which respects the sin-|(1539) — I may and will affirm with truth, gular character of the transformation, not that at the present time there is no Papist its nature;—though Protestants have pretty so conscientiously and earnestly a Papist as well made up their minds, that in all the I once was !' He repeats this in various great principles he so vigorously extricated forms in his letters. and so boldly avowed, he showed as well The account of his youthful visit to the rectitude as the force of his understand- Rome, as given by himself
, confirms this ing—as in his advocacy of the supremacy statement. The profound veneration with of the Scriptures, and in his condemnation which he approached the holy city; the (under the guidance of that principle) of passionate devotion with which he visited
sacred places, and engaged in public rites; to the interdict,) will condemn and publicthe shock and revulsion of feeling with ly burn the whole pontifical code.' which he discovered that others were not Perhaps, next to his journey to Worms, so much in earnest as himself-all show the two most daring acts of his life were the how sincerely he was then attached to the burning the Papal bull, and his marriage. ancient system, and by what severe strug- of the former, and of the tremendous defigles his spirit must have shaken off its thral- ance it implied, we have already spoken. dom. The spectacle of this mental revolu. But the latter step required almost equal tion is rendered still more in posing by the courage. His prejudices in relation to his comparative rapidity with which it was ef- monastic vows, as is seen by his corresponfected. In 1516 Luther was still a zealous dence, troubled him as much as any he had Papist; in October 1517, he published his to vanquish. Nor had he vanquished them Theses against Indulgences, and in less fully till bis return from the Wartburg. than four years from that date, he had com- When he resolved to marry, (a resolution mitted himself to a contest with Rome on taken suddenly enough), one of his prime all the great principles of the Reformation. motives, if we may believe himself, was to How rapidly those principles disclosed give the utmost practical efficiency to his themselves, as the controversy proceeded, convictions, and encourage his followers in is sufficiently clear from constant evidences a conflict with a most powerful, because in his correspondence. In a letter dated most distressing class of associations. SupDec. 2, 1518, when expecting banishment posing this his motive, it was certainly not by Frederic, he says to Spalatin-If I re only one of the boldest, but one of the most main here, I shall be without freedom of politic expedients he could have adopted. speech and writing; if I go, I will discharge He assures us, after giving other reasons for my conscience, and pour out my life for the step, that one was, “ut confirmem facto Christ.' A week after he says—1 shall yet quæ docui, tam multos invenio pusilanione day be a little freer against these Ro- mes in tanta luce evangelii.'* man hydras.' Three months later, he writes That this was his principal motive, we to Lange-Our friend Eck is meditating may well doubt; with passions so strong as new contests against me, and will compel his, it was not likely to be more than co-ordime to do what I have often thought of; that nate with others. But that it was a very is, by the blessing of Christ, to inveigh real motive, we may safely conclude: he more seriously against these monsters. For, was now past the heyday of passion-was hitherto, I have but been playing and tri- forty-two years old—had lived in the most fling in this matter.' He repeats nearly the blameless celibacy, and had at first predessame words a fortnight after, to Scheurl- tined his Catharine for another. Never 'I have often said, that hitherto I have did the cloister close upon one who was betbeen trifling; but now more serious as- ter qualified to appreciate and reciprocate saults are to be directed against the Ro- the felicities of domestic life. As a husman pontiff and the arrogance of his minis band and a father, his character is full of ters.' In March 1519, he made this me- tenderness and gentleness; nor is there any morable confession—'I am reading the part of his correspondence more interestpontifical decretals,' (for the Leipsic dispu- ing than his letters to his . Kate,' and their tation,) and I know not whether the Pope little Johnny; or those in which he alis Antichrist himself, or only his apostle.' | ludes to his fireside. In February 1520, he writes,-'I have The clamors of his adversaries show how scarcely a remaining doubt that the Pope bold was the step on which he had venturis verily Antichrist ... so well does he ed. "Nothing less than Antichrist,' they
. agree with him in his life, his acts, his said, 'could be the fruit of the union of a words, and his decrees. On the 10th of monk and a nun.' The taunt well justified July, soon after the appearance of the bull the caustic sarcasm of Erasmus That of condemnation, he says to Spalatin—For there must already have been many Antime the die is cast-jacta est alea—the Pa- christs if that was the sole condition of their pal wrath and Papal favor are alike despised appearance.' by me; I will never be reconciled to them, Rapid as was Luther's conquest over his nor communicate with them more. Let own prejudices, the revolution was still in them burn my writings. I, unless I am un- perfect anology with similar revolutions in able to get a little fire, (doubtless alluding VOL. VI.-No .I
* De Wette, vol. iii. p. 13.