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Discussion of Protestant beliefs and doctrines
Origin of the name
The Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, assembled at Speyer in April, 1529, resolved that, according to a decree promulgated at the Diet of Worms (1521), communities in which the new religion was so far established that it could not without great trouble be altered should be free to maintain it, but until the meeting of the council they should introduce no further innovations in religion, and should not forbid the Mass, or hinder Catholics from assisting thereat.
Against this decree, and especially against the last article, the adherents of the new Evangel — the Elector Frederick of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, the Dukes of Lüneburg, the Prince of Anhalt, together with the deputies of fourteen of the free and imperial cities — entered a solemn protest as unjust and impious. The meaning of the protest was that the dissentients did not intend to tolerate Catholicism within their borders. On that account they were called Protestants.
In course of time the original connotation of "no toleration for Catholics" was lost sight of, and the term is now applied to, and accepted by, members of those Western Churches and sects which, in the sixteenth century, were set up by the Reformers in direct opposition to the Catholic Church. The same man may call himself Protestant or Reformed: the term Protestant lays more stress on antagonism to Rome; the term Reformed emphasizes adherence to any of the Reformers. Where religious indifference is prevalent, many will say they are Protestants, merely to signify that they are not Catholics. In some such vague, negative sense, the word stands in the new formula of the Declaration of Faith to be made by the King of England at his coronation; viz.: "I declare that I am a faithful Protestant". During the debates in Parliament it was observed that the proposed formula effectively debarred Catholicsfrom the throne, whilst it committed the king to no particular creed, as no man knows what the creed of a faithful Protestant is or should be.
Characteristic Protestant principles
However vague and indefinite the creed of individual Protestants may be, it always rests on a few standard rules, or principles, bearing on the Sources of faith, the means of justification, and the constitution of the Church. An acknowledged Protestant authority, Philip Schaff (in "The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge", s.v. Reformation), sums up the principles of Protestantism in the following words:
Sola scriptura ("Bible alone")The Protestant goes directly to the Word of God for instruction, and to the throne of grace in his devotions; whilst the pious Roman Catholic consults the teaching of his church, and prefers to offer his prayers through the medium of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
From this general principle of Evangelical freedom, and direct individual relationship of the believer to Christ, proceed the three fundamental doctrines of Protestantism — the absolute supremacy of (1) the Word, and of (2) the grace of Christ, and (3) the general priesthood of believers. . . .
The [first] objective [or formal] principle proclaims the canonical Scriptures, especially the New Testament, to be the only infalliblesource and rule of faith and practice, and asserts the right of private interpretation of the same, in distinction from the Roman Catholic view, which declares the Bible and tradition to be co-ordinate sources and rule of faith, and makes tradition, especially the decrees of popes and councils, the only legitimate and infallible interpreter of the Bible. In its extreme form Chillingworth expressed this principle of the Reformation in the well-known formula, "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Protestants." Protestantism, however, by no means despises or rejects church authority as such, but only subordinates it to, and measures its value by, the Bible, and believes in a progressive interpretation of the Bible through the expanding and deepening consciousness of Christendom. Hence, besides having its own symbols or standards of public doctrine, it retained all the articles of the ancient creeds and a large amount of disciplinary and ritual tradition, and rejected only those doctrines and ceremonies for which no clear warrant was found in the Bible and which seemed to contradict its letter or spirit. The Calvinistic branches of Protestantism went farther in their antagonism to the received traditions than the Lutheran and the Anglican; but all united in rejecting the authority of the pope [Melanchthon for a while was willing to concede this, but only jure humano, or a limited disciplinary superintendency of the Church], the meritoriousness of good works, indulgences, the worship of the Virgin, saints, and relics, the sacraments (other than baptism and the Eucharist), the dogma of transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass, purgatory, and prayers for the dead, auricular confession, celibacy of the clergy, the monastic system, and the use of the Latin tongue in public worship, for which the vernacular languages were substituted.
Sola fide ("faith alone")
The subjective principle of the Reformation is justification by faith alone, or, rather, by free grace through faith operative in good works. It has reference to the personal appropriation of the Christian salvation, and aims to give all glory to Christ, by declaring that the sinner is justified before God (i.e. is acquitted of guilt, and declared righteous) solely on the ground of the all-sufficient merits of Christ as apprehended by a living faith, in opposition to the theory — then prevalent, and substantially sanctioned by the Council of Trent — which makes faith and good works co-ordinate sources of justification, laying the chief stress upon works. Protestantism does not depreciate good works; but it denies their value as sources or conditions of justification, and insists on them as the necessary fruits of faith, and evidence of justification.
Priesthood of all believers
The universal priesthood of believers implies the right and duty of the Christian laity not only to read the Bible in the vernacular, but also to take part in the government and all the public affairs of the Church. It is opposed to the hierarchical system, which puts the essence and authority of the Church in an exclusive priesthood, and makes ordained priests the necessary mediators between God and the people". See also Schaff "The Principle of Protestantism, German and English" (1845).
Discussion of the three fundamental principles of Protestantism
Sola scriptura ("Bible alone")
The belief in the Bible as the sole source of faith is unhistorical, illogical, fatal to the virtue of faith, and destructive of unity.
It is unhistorical. No one denies the fact that Christ and the Apostles founded the Church by preaching and exacting faith in their doctrines. No book told as yet of the Divinity of Christ, the redeeming value of His Passion, or of His coming to judge the world; these and all similar revelations had to be believed on the word of the Apostles, who were, as their powers showed, messengers from God. And those who received their word did so solely on authority. As immediate, implicit submission of the mind was in the lifetime of the Apostles the only necessary token of faith, there was no room whatever for what is now called private judgment. This is quite clear from the words of Scripture: "Therefore, we also give thanks to God without ceasing: because, that when you had received of us the word of the hearing of God, you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The word of hearing is received through a human teacher and is believed on the authority of God, who is its first author (cf. Romans 10:17). But, if in the time of the Apostles, faith consisted in submitting to authorized teaching, it does so now; for the essence of things never changes and the foundation of the Church and of our salvation is immovable.
Again, it is illogical to base faith upon the private interpretation of a book. For faith consists in submitting; private interpretation consists in judging. In faith by hearing, the last word rests with the teacher; in private judgment it rests with the reader, who submits the dead text of Scripture to a kind of post-mortem examination and delivers a verdict without appeal: he believes in himself rather than in any higher authority. But such trust in one's own light is not faith. Private judgment is fatal to the theological virtue of faith. John Henry Newman says "I think I may assume that this virtue, which was exercised by the first Christians, is not known at all amongst Protestants now; or at least if there are instances of it, it is exercised toward those, I mean their teachers and divines, who expressly disclaim that they are objects of it, and exhort their people to judge for themselves" ("Discourses to Mixed Congregations", Faith and Private Judgment). And in proof he advances the instability of Protestant so-called faith: "They are as children tossed to and fro and carried along by every gale of doctrine. If they had faith they would not change. They look upon the simple faith of Catholics as if unworthy the dignity of human nature, as slavish and foolish". Yet upon that simple, unquestioning faith the Church was built up and is held together to this day.
Where absolute reliance on God's word, proclaimed by his accredited ambassadors, is wanting, i.e. where there is not the virtue of faith, there can be no unity of Church. It stands to reason, and Protestant history confirms it. The "unhappy divisions", not only between sect and sect but within the same sect, have become a byword. They are due to the pride of private intellect, and they can only be healed by humble submission to a Divine authority.
Sola fide (justification by "faith alone")
See the separate article JUSTIFICATION.
Priesthood of all believers
The "universal priesthood of believers" is a fond fancy which goes well with the other fundamental tenets of Protestantism. For, if every man is his own supreme teacher and is able to justify himself by an easy act of faith, there is no further need of ordainedteachers and ministers of sacrifice and sacraments. The sacraments themselves, in fact, become superfluous. The abolition of priests, sacrifices, and sacraments is the logical consequence of false premises, i.e. the right of private judgment and justificationby faith alone; it is, therefore, as illusory as these. It is moreover contrary to Scripture, to tradition, to reason. The Protestant position is that the clergy had originally been representatives of the people, deriving all their power from them, and only doing, for the sake of order and convenience, what laymen might do also. But Scripture speaks of bishops, priests, deacons as invested with spiritual powers not possessed by the community at large, and transmitted by an external sign, the imposition of hands, thus creating a separate order, a hierarchy. Scripture shows the Church starting with an ordained priesthood as its central element. History likewise shows this priesthood living on in unbroken succession to the present day in East and West, even in Churches separated from Rome. And reason requires such an institution; a society confessedly established to continue the saving work of Christ must possess and perpetuate His saving power; it must have a teaching and ministering order commissioned by Christ, as Christ was commissioned by God; "As the Father has sent me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Sects which are at best shadows of Churches wax and wane with the priestly powers they subconsciously or instinctively attribute to their pastors, elders, ministers, preachers, and other leaders.
Private judgment in practice
At first sight it seems that private judgment as a rule of faith would at once dissolve all creeds and confessions into individual opinions, thus making impossible any church life based upon a common faith. For quot capita tot sensus: no two men think exactly alike on any subject. Yet we are faced by the fact that Protestant churches have lived through several centuries and have moulded the character not only of individuals but of whole nations; that millions of souls have found and are finding in them the spiritual food which satisfies their spiritual cravings; that their missionary and charitable activity is covering wide fields at home and abroad. The apparent incongruity does not exist in reality, for private judgment is never and nowhere allowed full play in the framing of religions. The open Bible and the open mind on its interpretation are rather a lure to entice the masses, by flattering their pride and deceiving their ignorance, than a workable principle of faith.
The first limitation imposed on the application of private judgment is the incapacity of most men to judge for themselves on matters above their physical needs. How many Christians are made by the tons of Testaments distributed by missionaries to the heathen? What religion could even a well-schooled man extract from the Bible if he had nought but his brain and his book to guide him? The second limitation arises from environment and prejudices. The assumed right of private judgment is not exercised until the mind is already stocked with ideas and notions supplied by family and community, foremost among these being the current conceptions of religious dogmas and duties. People are said to be Catholics, Protestants, Mahommedans, Pagans "by birth", because the environment in which they are born invariably endows them with the local religion long before they are able to judge and choose for themselves. And the firm hold which this initial training gets on the mind is well illustrated by the fewness of changes in later life. Conversions from one belief to another are of comparatively rare occurrence. The number of converts in any denomination compared to the number of stauncher adherents is a negligible quantity. Even where private judgment has led to the conviction that some other form of religion is preferable to the one professed, conversion is not always achieved. The convert, beside and beyond his knowledge, must have sufficient strength of will to break with old associations, old friendships, old habits, and to face the uncertainties of life in new surroundings. His sense of duty, in many eases, must be of heroical temper.
A third limitation put on the exercise of private judgment is the authority of Church and State. The Reformers took full advantage of their emancipation from papal authority, but they showed no inclination to allow their followers the same freedom. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox were as intolerant of private judgment when it went against their own conceits as any pope in Rome was ever intolerant of heresy. Confessions of faith, symbols, and catechism were set up everywhere, and were invariably backed by the secular power. In fact, the secular power in the several parts of Germany, England, Scotland, and elsewhere has had more to do with the moulding of religious denominations than private judgment and justification by faith alone. Rulers were guided by political and material considerations in their adherence to particular forms of faith, and they usurped the right of imposing their own choice on their subjects, regardless of private opinions: cujus regio hujus religio.
The above considerations show that the first Protestant principle, free judgment, never influenced the Protestant masses at large. Its influence is limited to a few leaders of the movement, to the men who by dint of strong character were capable of creating separate sects. They indeed spurned the authority of the Old Church, but soon transferred it to their own persons and institutions, if not to secular princes. How mercilessly the new authority was exercised is matter of history. Moreover, in the course of time, private judgment has ripened into unbridled freethought, Rationalism, Modernism, now rampant in most universities, cultured society, and the Press. Planted by Luther and other reformers the seed took no root, or soon withered, among the half-educated masses who still clung to authority or were coerced by the secular arm; but it flourished and produced its full fruit chiefly in the schools and among the ranks of society which draw their intellectual life from that source. The modern Press is at infinite pains to spread free judgment and its latest results to the reading public.
It should be remarked that the first Protestants, without exception, pretended to be the true Church founded by Christ, and all retained the Apostles' Creed with the article "I believe in the Catholic Church". The fact of their Catholic origin and surroundings accounts both for their good intention and for the confessions of faith to which they bound themselves. Yet such confessions, if there be any truth in the assertion that private judgment and the open Bible are the only sources of Protestant faith, are directly antagonistic to the Protestant spirit. This is recognized, among others, by J. H. Blunt, who writes: "The mere existence of such confessions of faith as binding on all or any of the members of the Christian community is inconsistent with the great principles on which the Protestant bodies justified their separation from the Church, the right of private judgment. Has not any member as just a right to criticise and to reject them as his forefathers had a right to reject the Catholic creeds or the canons of general councils? They appear to violate another prominent doctrine of the Reformers, the sufficiency of Holy Scripture to salvation. If the Bible alone is enough, what need is there for adding articles? If it is rejoined that they are not additions to, but merely explanations of, the Word of God, the further question arises, amid the many explanations, more or less at variance with each other given by the different sects of Protestantism, who is to decide which is the true one? Their professed object being to secure uniformity, the experience of three hundred years has proved to us what may not have been foreseen by their originators, that they have had a diametrically opposite result, and have been productive not of union but of variance" (Dict. of Sects, Heresies, etc.", London, 1886, s.v. Protestant Confessions of Faith).
By pinning private judgment to the Bible the Reformers started a book religion, i.e. a religion of which, theoretically, law of faithand conduct is contained in a written document without method, without authority, without an authorized interpreter. The collection of books called "the Bible" is not a methodical code of faith and morals; if it be separated from the stream of tradition which asserts its Divine inspiration, it has no special authority, and, in the hands of private interpreters, its meaning is easily twisted to suit every private mind. Our modern laws, elaborated by modern minds for modern requirements, are daily obscured and diverted from their object by interested pleaders: judges are an absolute necessity for their right interpretation and application, and unless we say that religion is but a personal concern, that coherent religious bodies or churches are superfluous, we must admit that judges of faithand morals are as necessary to them as judges of civil law are to States. And that is another reason why private judgment, though upheld in theory, has not been carried out in practice. As a matter of fact, all Protestant denominations are under constituted authorities, be they called priest or presbyters, elders or ministers, pastors or presidents. Notwithstanding the contradiction between the freedom they proclaim and the obedience they exact, their rule has often been tyrannical to a degree, especially in Calvinistic communities. Thus in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was no more priest-ridden country in the world than Presbyterian Scotland. A book-religion has, moreover, another drawback. Its devotees can draw devotion from it only as fetish worshippers draw it from their idol, viz. by firmly believing in its hidden spirit. Remove belief in Divine inspiration from the sacred books, and what remains may be regarded as simply a human document of religious illusion or even of fraud. Now, in the course of centuries, private judgment has partly succeeded in taking the spirit out of the Bible, leaving little else than the letter, for critics, high and low, to discuss without any spiritual advantage.
"justification by faith alone" in practice
This principle bears upon conduct, unlike free judgment, which bears on faith. It is not subject to the same limitations, for its practical application requires less mental capacity; its working cannot be tested by anyone; it is strictly personal and internal, thus escaping such violent conflicts with community or state as would lead to repression. On the other hand, as it evades coercion, lends itself to practical application at every step in man's life, and favours man's inclination to evil by rendering a so-called "conversion"ludicrously easy, its baneful influence on morals is manifest. Add to justification by faith alone the doctrines of predestination to heaven or hell regardless of man's actions, and the slavery of the human will, and it seems inconceivable that any good action at all could result from such beliefs. As a matter of history, public morality did at once deteriorate to an appalling degree wherever Protestantism was introduced. Not to mention the robberies of Church goods, brutal treatment meted out to the clergy, secular and regular, who remained faithful, and the horrors of so many wars of religion, we have Luther's own testimony as to the evil results of his teaching (see Janssen, "History of the German People", Eng. tr., vol. V, London and St. Louis, 1908, 27-83, where each quotation is documented by a reference to Luther's works as published by de Wette).
Advent of a new order: Cæsaropapism
A similar picture of religious and moral degradation may easily be drawn from contemporary Protestant writers for all countries after the first introduction of Protestantism. It could not be otherwise. The immense fermentation caused by the introduction of subversive principles into the life of a people naturally brings to the surface and shows in its utmost ugliness all that is brutal in human nature. But only for a time. The ferment exhausts itself, the fermentation subsides, and order reappears, possibly under new forms. The new form of social and religious order, which is the residue of the great Protestant upheaval in Europe, is territorial or State Religion — an order based on the religious supremacy of the temporal ruler, in contradistinction to the old order in which the temporal ruler took an oath of obedience to the Church. For the right understanding of Protestantism it is necessary to describe the genesis of this far-reaching change.
Luther's first reformatory attempts were radically democratic. He sought to benefit the people at large by curtailing the powers of both Church and State. The German princes, to him, were "usually the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth". In 1523 he wrote: "The people will not, cannot, shall not endure your tyranny and oppression any longer. The world is not now what it was formerly, when you could chase and drive the people like game". This manifesto, addressed to the poorer masses, was taken up by Franz von Sickingen, a Knight of the Empire, who entered the field in execution of its threats. His object was two-fold: to strengthen the political power of the knights — the inferior nobility — against the princes, and to open the road to the new Gospel by overthrowing the bishops. His enterprise had, however, the opposite result. The knights were beaten; they lost what influence they had possessed, and the princes were proportionately strengthened. The rising of the peasants likewise turned to the advantage of the princes: the fearful slaughter of Frankenhausen (1525) left the princes without an enemy and the new Gospel without its natural defenders. The victorious princes used their augmented power entirely for their own advantage in opposition to the authority of the emperor and the freedom of the nation; the new Gospel was also to be made subservient to this end, and this by the help of Luther himself.
After the failure of the revolution, Luther and Melanchthon began to proclaim the doctrine of the rulers' unlimited power over their subjects. Their dissolving principles had, within less than ten years, destroyed the existing order, but were unable to knit together its debris into a new system. So the secular powers were called on for help; the Church was placed at the service of the State, its authority, its wealth, its institutions all passed into the hands of kings, princes, and town magistrates. The one discarded Pope of Rome was replaced by scores of popes at home. These, "to strengthen themselves by alliances for the promulgation of the Gospel", banded together within the limits of the German Empire and made common cause against the emperor. From this time forward the progress of Protestantism is on political rather than on religious lines; the people are not clamouring for innovations, but the rulers find their advantage in being supreme bishops, and by force, or cunning, or both impose the yoke of the new Gospel on their subjects. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, and all the small principalities and imperial towns in Germany are examples in point. The supreme heads and governors were well aware that the principles which had brought down the authority of Rome would equally bring down their own; hence the penal laws everywhere enacted against dissenters from the state religion decreed by the temporal ruler. England under Henry VIII, Elizabeth, and the Puritans elaborated the most ferocious of all penal codes against Catholics and others unwilling to conform to the established religion.
To sum up: the much-vaunted Protestant principles only wrought disaster and confusion where they were allowed free play; order was only restored by reverting to something like the old system: symbols of faith imposed by an outside authority and enforced by the secular arm. No bond of union exists between the many national Churches, except their common hatred for "Rome", which is the birthmark of all, and the trade-mark of many, even unto our day.
Rapidity of Protestant progress explained
Before we pass on to the study of contemporary Protestantism, we will answer a question and solve a difficulty. How is the rapid spread of Protestantism accounted for? Is it not a proof that God was on the side of the Reformers, inspiring, fostering, and crowning their endeavours? Surely, as we consider the growth of early Christianity and its rapid conquest of the Roman Empire, as proofs of its Divine origin, so we should draw the same conclusion in favour of Protestantism from its rapid spread in Germany and the northern parts of Europe. In fact the Reformation spread much faster than the Apostolic Church. When the last of the Apostles died, no kingdoms, no vast tracts of lands, were entirely Christian; Christianity was still hiding in the catacombs and in out-of-the-way suburbs of heathen towns. Whereas, in a period of similar duration, say seventy years, Protestantism had taken hold of the better part of Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland, England, and Scotland. A moment's consideration supplies the solution of this difficulty. Success is not invariably due to intrinsic goodness, nor is failure a certain proof of intrinsic badness. Both largely depend on circumstances: on the means employed, the obstacles in the way, the receptivity of the public. The success of Protestantism, therefore, must itself be tested before it can be used as a test of intrinsic goodness.
The reformatory movement of the sixteenth century found the ground well prepared for its reception. The cry for a thorough reformation of the Church in head and members had been ringing through Europe for a full century; it was justified by the worldly lives of many of the clergy, high and low, by abuses in church administration, by money extortions, by the neglect of religious duties reaching far and wide through the body of the faithful. Had Protestantism offered a reform in the sense of amendment, probably all the corrupt elements in the Church would have turned against it, as Jews and pagans turned against Christ and the Apostles. But what the Reformers aimed at was, at least in the first instance, the radical overthrow of the existing Church, and this overthrow was effected by pandering to all the worst instincts of man. A bait was tendered to the seven-headed concupiscencewhich dwells in every human heart; pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth, and all their offspring were covered and healed by easy trust in God. No good works were required: the immense fortune of the Church was the prize of apostasy: political and religous independence allured the kings and princes: the abolition of tithes, confession, fasting, and other irksome obligationsattracted the masses. Many persons were deceived into the new religion by outward appearances of Catholicism which the innovators carefully maintained, e.g. in England and the Scandinavian kingdoms. Evidently we need not look for Divine intervention to account for the rapid spread of Protestantism. It would be more plausible to see the finger of God in the stopping of its progress.
After nearly four centuries of existence, Protestantism in Europe is still the religion of millions, but it is no more the original Protestantism. It has been, and is, in a perpetual flux: the principle of untrammelled free judgment, or, as it is now called, Subjectivism, has been swaying its adherents to and fro from orthodoxy to Pietism, from Rationalism to Indifferentism. The movement has been most pronounced in intellectual centres, in universities and among theologians generally, yet it has spread down to the lowest classes. The modern Ritschl-Harnack school, also called Modernism, has disciples everywhere and not only among Protestants. For an accurate and exhaustive survey of its main lines of thought we refer the reader to the Encyclical"Pascendi Dominici Gregis" (8 Sept., 1907), the professed aim of which is to defend the Catholic Church against Protestant infiltrations. In one point, indeed, the Modernist condemned by Pius X differs from his intellectual brothers: he remains, and wishes to remain, inside the Catholic Church, in order to leaven it with his ideas; the other stands frankly outside, an enemy or a supercilious student of religious evolution. It should also be noted that not every item of the Modernist programme need be traced to the Protestant Reformation; for the modern spirit is the distilled residue of many philosophies and many religions: the point is that Protestantism proclaims itself its standard-bearer, and claims credit for its achievements.
Moreover, Modernistic views in philosophy, theology, history, criticism, apologetics, church reform etc., are advocated in nine-tenths of the Protestant theological literature in Germany, France, and America, England only slightly lagging behind. Now, Modernism is at the antipodes of sixteenth-century Protestantism. To use Ritschl's terminology, it gives new "values" to the old beliefs. Scripture is still spoken of as inspired, but its inspiration is only the impassioned expression of human religious experiences; Christ is the Son of God, but His Son-ship is like that of any other good man; the very ideas of God, religion, Church, sacraments, have lost their old values: they stand for nothing real outside the subject in whose religious life they form a kind of fool's paradise. The fundamental fact of Christ's Resurrection is an historical fact no longer; it is but another freak of the believing mind. Harnack puts the essence of Christianity, that is the whole teaching of Christ, into the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man: Christ Himself is no part of the Gospel! Such was not the teaching of the Reformers. Present-day Protestantism, therefore, may be compared with Gnosticism, Manichæism, the Renaissance, eighteenth-century Philosophism, in so far as these were virulent attacks on Christianity, aiming at nothing less than its destruction. It has achieved important victories in a kind of civil war between orthodoxy and unbelief within the Protestant pale; it is no mean enemy at the gate of the Catholic Church.
In Germany, especially in the greater towns, Protestantism, as a positive guide in faith and morals, is rapidly dying out. It has lost all hold of the working classes. Its ministers, when not themselves infidels, fold their hands in helpless despair. The old faith is but little preached and with little profit. The ministerial energies are turned towards works of charity, foreign missions, polemics against Catholics. Among the English-speaking nations things seem just a little better. Here the grip of Protestantism on the masses was much tighter than in Germany, the Wesleyan revival and the High Church party among Anglicans did much to keep some faithalive, and the deleterious teaching of English Deists and Rationalists did not penetrate into the heart of the people. Presbyterianismin Scotland and elsewhere has also shown more vitality than less well-organized sects. "England", says J.R. Green, "became the people of a book", and that book was the Bible. It was as yet the one English book which was familiar to every Englishman; it was read in the churches and read at home, and everywhere its words, as they fell on ears which custom had not deadened, kindled a startling enthusiasm. . . . So far as the nation at large was concerned, no history, no romance, hardly any poetry, save the little-known verse of Chaucer, existed in the English tongue when the Bible was ordered to be set up in churches. . . . The power of the book over the mass of Englishmen showed itself in a thousand superficial ways, and in none more conspicuously than in the influence exerted on ordinary speech. . . . But far greater than its effect on literature or social phrase was the effect of the Bible on the character of the people at large . . . (Hist. of the English People, chap. viii, 1).
Protestantism and progress
The human mind is so constituted that it colours with its own previous conceptions any new notion that presents itself for acceptance. Though truth be objective and of its nature one and unchangeable, personal conditions are largely relative, dependent on preconceptions, and changeable. The arguments, for example, which three hundred years ago convinced our fathers of the existence of witches and sent millions of them to the torture and the stake, make no impression on our more enlightened minds. The same may be said of the whole theological controversy of the sixteenth century. To the modern man it is a dark body, of whose existence he is aware, but whose contact he avoids. With the controversies have gone the coarse, unscrupulous methods of attack. The adversaries are now facing each other like parliamentarians of opposite parties, with a common desire of polite fairness, no longer like armed troopers only intent on killing, by fair means or foul. Exceptions there are still, but only at low depths in the literary strata. Whence this change of behaviour, notwithstanding the identity of positions? Because we are more reasonable, more civilized; because we have evolved from medieval darkness to modern comparative light. And whence this progress? Here Protestantism puts in its claim, that, by freeing the mind from Roman thraldom, it opened the way for religious and political liberty; for untrammelled evolution on the basis of self-reliance; for a higher standard of morality; for the advancement of science — in short for everygood thing that has come into the world since the Reformation. With the majority of non-Catholics, this notion has hardened into a prejudice which no reasoning can break up: the following discussion, therefore, shall not be a battle royal for final victory, but rather a peaceful review of facts and principles.
Progress in Church and churches
The Catholic Church of the twentieth century is vastly in advance of that of the sixteenth. She has made up her loss in political power and worldly wealth by increased spiritual influences and efficiency; her adherents are more widespread, more numerous, more fervent than at any time in her history, and they are bound to the central Government at Rome by a more filial affection and a clearer sense of duty. Religious education is abundantly provided for clergy and laity; religious practice, morality, and works of charity are flourishing; the Catholic mission-field is world-wide and rich in harvest. The hierarchy was never so united, never so devoted to the pope. The Roman unity is successfully resisting the inroads of sects, of philosophies, of politics. Can our separated brethren tell a similar tale of their many Churches, even in lands where they are ruled and backed by the secular power? We do not rejoice at their disintegration, at their falling into religious indifference, or returning into political parties. No, for any shred of Christianity is better than blank worldliness. But we do draw this conclusion: that after four centuries the Catholic principle of authority is still working out the salvation of the Church, whereas among Protestants the principle of Subjectivism is destroying what remains of their former faith and driving multitudes into religious indifference and estrangement from the supernatural.
Progress in civil society
The political and social organization of Europe has undergone greater changes than the Churches. Royal prerogatives, like that exercised, for instance, by the Tudor dynasty in England, are gone for ever. "The prerogative was absolute, both in theory and in practice. Government was identified with the will of the sovereign, his word was law for the conscience as well as the conduct of his subjects" (Brewer, "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic etc.", II, pt. I, 1, p. ccxxiv). Nowhere now is persecution for conscience' sake inscribed on the national statute-books, or left to the caprice of the rulers. Where still carried on it is the work of anti-religious passion temporarily in power, rather than the expression of the national will; at any rate it has lost much of its former barbarity. Education is placed within reach of the poorest and lowest. The punishment of crime is no longer an occasion for the spectacular display of human cruelty to human beings. Poverty is largely prevented and largely relieved. Wars diminish in number and are waged with humanity; atrocities like those of the Thirty Years War in Germany, the Huguenot wars in France, the Spanish wars in the Netherlands, and Cromwell's invasion of Ireland are gone beyond the possibility of return. The witch-finder, the witchburner, the inquisitor, the disbanded mercenary soldier have ceased to plague the people. Science has been able to check the outbursts of pestilence, cholera, smallpox, and other epidemics; human life has been lengthened and its amenities increased a hundredfold. Steam and electricity in the service of industry, trade, and international communication, are even now drawing humanity together into one vast family, with many common interests and a tendency to uniform civilization. From the sixteenth to the twentieth century there has indeed been progress. Who have been its chief promoters? Catholics, or Protestants, or neither?
The civil wars and revolutions of the seventeenth century which put an end to the royal prerogatives in England, and set up a real government of the people by the people, were religious throughout and Protestant to the core. "Liberty of conscience" was the cry of the Puritans, which, however, meant liberty for themselves against established Episcopacy. Tyrannical abuse of their victory in oppressing the Episcopalians brought about their downfall, and they in turn were the victims of intolerance. James II, himself a Catholic, was the first to strive by all the means at his command, to secure for his subjects of all the denominations "liberty of conscience for all future time" (Declaration of Indulgence, 168. His premature Liberalism was acquiesced in by many of the clergyand laity of the Established Church, which alone had nothing to gain by it, but excited the most violent opposition among the Protestant Nonconformists who, with the exception of the Quakers, preferred a continuance of bondage to emancipation if shared with the hated and dreaded "Papists". So strong was this feeling that it overcame all those principles of patriotism and respect for law of which the English people are wont to boast, leading them to welcome a foreign usurper and foreign troops for no other reason than to obtain their assistance against their Catholic fellow-subjects, in part to do precisely what the latter were falsely accused of doing in the time of Elizabeth.
The Stuart dynasty lost the throne, and their successors were reduced to mere figure-heads. Political freedom had been achieved, but the times were not yet ripe for the wider freedom of conscience. The penal laws against Catholics and Dissenters were aggravated instead of abolished. That the French Revolution of 1789 was largely influenced by the English events of the preceding century is beyond doubt; it is, however, equally certain that its moving spirit was not English Puritanism, for the men who set up a declaration of the Rights of Man against the Rights of God, and who enthroned the Goddess of Reason in the Cathedral Church of Paris, drew their ideals from Pagan Rome rather than from Protestant England.
Progress in religious toleration
As regards Protestant influence on the general progress of civilization since the origin of Protestantism we must mark off at least two periods: the first from the beginning in 1517 to the end of the Thirty Years War (164, the second from 1648 to the present day; the period of youthful expansion, and the period of maturity and decay. But before apportioning its influence on civilization the previous questions should be examined: in how far does Christianity contribute to the amelioration of man — intellectual, moral, material — in this world: for its salutary effects on man's soul after death cannot be tested, and consequently cannot be used as arguments in a purely scientific disquisition. There were highly-civilized nations in antiquity, Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome: and there are now China and Japan, whose culture owes nothing to Christianity. When Christ came to enlighten the world, the light of Roman and Greek culture was shining its brightest, and for at least three centuries longer the new religion added nothing to its lustre. The spirit of Christian charity, however, gradually leavened the heathen mass, softening the hearts of rulers and improving the condition of the ruled, especially of the poor, the slave, the prisoner. The close union of Church and State, begun with Constantine and continued under his successors, the Roman emperors of East and West, led to much good, but probably to more evil. The lay episcopacy which the princes assumed well-nigh reduced the medieval Church to a state of abject vassalage, the secular clergy to ignorance and worldliness, the peasant to bondage and often to misery.
Had it not been for the monasteries the Church of the Middle Ages would not have saved, as it did, the remnant of Roman and Greek culture which so powerfully helped to civilize Western Europe after the barbarian invasions. Dotted all over the West, the monks formed model societies, well-organized, justly ruled, and prospering by the work of their hands, true ideals of a superior civilization. It was still the ancient Roman civilization, permeated with Christianity, but shackled by the jarring interests of Church and State. Was Christian Europe, from a worldly point of view, better off at the beginning of the fifteenth century than paganEurope at the beginning of the fourth? For the beginning of our distinctly modern progress we must go back to the Renaissance, the Humanistic or classical, i.e. pagan revival, following upon the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks (1453); upon the discovery of the new Indian trade route round the Cape of Good Hope by the Portuguese; upon the discovery of America by the Spaniards, and upon the development of all European interests, fostered or initiated at the end of the fifteenth century, just before the birth of Protestantism. The opening of the New World was for Europe a new creation. Minds expanded with the vast spaces submitted to them for investigation; the study of astronomy, at first in the service of navigation, soon reaped its own reward by discoveries in its proper domain, the starry heavens; descriptive geography, botany, anthropology, and kindred sciences demanded study of those who would reap a share in the great harvest East and West. The new impulse and new direction given to commerce changed the political aspect of old Europe. Men and nations were brought into that close contact of common interests, which is the root of all civilization; wealth and the printing-press supplied the means for satisfying the awakened craving for art, science, literature, and more refined living. Amid this outburst of new life Protestantism appears on the scene, itself a child of the times. Did it help or hinder the forward movement?
The youth of Protestantism was, naturally enough, a period of turmoil, of disturbing confusion in all the spheres of life. No one nowadays can read without a sense of shame and sadness the history of those years of religious and political strife; of religion everywhere made the handmaid of politics; of wanton destruction of churches and shrines and treasures of sacred art; of warsbetween citizens of the same land conducted with incredible ferocity; of territories laid waste, towns pillaged and levelled to the ground, poor people sent adrift to die of starvation in their barren fields; of commercial prosperity cut down at a stroke; of seats of learning reduced to ranting and loose living; of charity banished from social intercourse to give place to slander and abuse, of coarseness in speech and manners, of barbarous cruelty on the part of princes, nobles, and judges in their dealings with the "subject" and the prisoner, in short of the almost sudden drop of whole countries into worse than primitive savagery. "Greed, robbery, oppression, rebellion, repression, wars, devastation, degradation" would be a fitting inscription on the tombstone of early Protestantism.
But violenta non durant. Protestantism has now grown into a sedate something, difficult to define. In some form or other it is the official religion in many lands of Teutonic race, it also counts among its adherents an enormous number of independent religious bodies. These Protestant Teutons and semi-Teutons claim to be leaders in modern civilization: to possess the greatest wealth, the best education, the purest morals; in every respect they feel themselves superior to the Latin races who still profess the Catholicreligion, and they ascribe their superiority to their Protestantism.
Man knows himself but imperfectly: the exact state of his health, the truth of his knowledge, the real motives of his actions, are all veiled in semi-obscurity; of his neighbour he knows even less than of himself, and his generalizations of national character, typified by nicknames, are worthless caricatures. Antipathies rooted in ancient quarrels — political or religious — enter largely into the judgments on nations and Churches. Opprobrious, and so far as sense goes obsolete epithets applied in the heat and passion of battle still cling to the ancient foe and create prejudice against him. Conceptions formed three hundred years ago amid a state of things which has long ceased to be, still survive and distort our judgments. How slowly the terms Protestant, Papist, Romanist, Nonconformist, and others are losing their old unsavoury connotation. Again: Is there any of the greater nations that is purely Protestant? The richest provinces of the German Empire are Catholic, and contain fully one-third of its entire population. In the United States of America, according to the latest census, Catholics form the majority of the church-going population in many of the largest cities: San Francisco (81.1 per cent); New Orleans (79.7 per cent); New York (76.9 per cent); St. Louis (69 per cent); Boston (68.7 per cent); Chicago (68.2 per cent); Philadelphia (51.8 per cent).
Great Britain and its colonies have a Catholic population of over twelve millions. Holland and Switzerland have powerful Catholicprovinces and cantons; only the small Scandinavian kingdoms have succeeded in keeping down the old religion. A further question suggests itself: granting that some states are more prosperous than others, is their greater prosperity due to the particular form of Christianity they profess? The idea is absurd. For all Christian denominations have the same moral code — the Decalogue — and believe in the same rewards for the good and punishments for the wicked. We hear it asserted that Protestantism produces self-reliance, whereas Catholicism extinguishes it. Against this may be set the statement that Catholicism produces disciplined order — an equally good commercial asset. The truth of the matter is that self-reliance is best fostered by free political institutions and a decentralized government. These existed in England before the Reformation and have survived it; they likewise existed in Germany, but were crushed out by Protestant Cæsaropapism, never to revive with their primitive vigour. Medieval Italy, the Italy of the Renaissance, enjoyed free municipal government in its many towns and principalities: though the country was Catholic, it brought forth a crop of undisciplined self-reliant men, great in many walks of life, good and evil. And looking at history, we see CatholicFrance and Spain attaining the zenith of their national grandeur, whilst Germany was undermining and disintegrating that Holy Roman Empire vested in the German nation — an empire which was its glory, its strength, the source and mainstay of its culture and prosperity.
England's grandeur during the same epoch is due to the same cause as that of Spain: the impulse given to all national forces by the discovery of the New World. Both Spain and England began by securing religious unity. In Spain the Inquisition at a small cost of human life preserved the old faith; in England the infinitely more cruel penal laws stamped out all opposition to the innovations imported from Germany. Germany itself did not recover the prominent position it held in Europe under the Emperor Charles V until the constitution of the new empire during the Franco-German War (1871) Since then its advance in every direction, except that of religion, has been such as seriously to threaten the commercial and maritime supremacy of England. The truth of the whole matter is this: religious toleration has been placed on the statute books of modern nations; the civil power has severed itself from the ecclesiastical; the governing classes have grown alarmingly indifferent to things spiritual; the educated classes are largely Rationalistic; the working classes are widely infected with anti-religious socialism; a prolific press daily and periodically preaches the gospel of Naturalism overtly or covertly to countless eager readers; in many lands Christian teaching is banished from the public schools; and revealed religion is fast losing that power of fashioning politics, culture, home life, and personal character which it used to exercise for the benefit of Christian states. Amid this almost general flight from God to the creature, Catholicism alone makes a stand: its teaching is intact, its discipline stronger than ever, its confidence in final victory is unshaken.
The test of vitality
A better standard for comparison than the glamour of worldly progress, at best an accidental result of a religious system, is the power of self-preservation and propagation, i.e. vital energy. What are the facts? "The anti-Protestant movement in the RomanChurch" says a Protestant writer, "which is generally called the Counter-Reformation, is really at least as remarkable as the Reformation itself. Probably it would be no exaggeration to call it the most remarkable single episode that has ever occurred in the history of the Christian Church. Its immediate success was greater than that of the Protestant movement, and its permanent results are fully as large at the present day. It called forth a burst of missionary enthusiasm such as has not been seen since the first day of Pentecost. So far as organization is concerned, there can be no question that the mantle of the men who made the Roman Empire has fallen upon the Roman Church; and it has never given more striking proof of its vitality and power than it did at this time, immediately after a large portion of Europe had been torn from its grasp. Printing-presses poured forth literature not only to meet the controversial needs of the moment but also admirable editions of the early Fathers to whom the Reformed Churches appealed — sometimes with more confidence than knowledge. Armies of devoted missionaries were scientifically marshalled. Regions of Europe which had seemed to be lost for ever [for example, the southern portion of Germany and parts of Austria-Hungary] were recovered to the Papacy, and the claims of the Vicar of Christ were carried far and wide through countries where they had never been heard before" (R.H. Malden, classical lecturer, Selwyn College, Cambridge, in "Foreign Missions", London, 1910, 119-20).
Dr. G. Warneck, a protagonist of the Evangelical Alliance in Germany, thus describes the result of the Kulturkampf: "The Kulturkampf (i.e. struggle for superiority of Protestantism against Catholicism in Prussia), which was inspired by political, national, and liberal-religious motives, ended with a complete victory for Rome. When it began, a few men, who knew Rome and the weapons used against her, foretold with certainty that a contest with Romanism on such lines would of necessity end in defeat for the State and in an increase of power for Romanism. . . . The enemy whom we met in battle has brilliantly conquered us, though we had all the arms civil power can supply. True, the victory is partly owing to the ability of the leaders of the Centre party, but it is truer still that the weapons used on our side were blunted tools, unfit for doing serious harm. The Roman Church is indeed, like the State, a political power, worldly to the core, but after all she is a Church, and therefore disposes of religious powers which she invariably brings into action when contending with civil powers for Supremacy. The State has no equivalent power to oppose. You cannot hit a spirit, not even the Roman spirit . . ." (Der evangelische Bund und seine Gegner", 13-14). The anti-religious Government of France is actually renewing the Kulturkampf; but no more than its German models does it succeed in "hitting the Roman spirit". Endowments, churches, schools, convents have been confiscated, yet the spirit lives.
The other mark of Catholic vitality — the power of propagation — is evident in missionary work. Long before the birth of Protestantism, Catholic missionaries had converted Europe and carried the Faith as far as China. After the Reformation they reconquered for the Church the Rhinelands, Bavaria, Austria, part of Hungary, and Poland; they established flourishing Christiancommunities all over North and South America and in the Portuguese colonies, wherever, in short, Catholic powers allowed them free play. For nearly three hundred years Protestants were too intent on self-preservation to think of foreign missionary work. At the present day, however, they develop great activity in all heathen countries, and not without a fair success. Malden, in the work quoted above, compares Catholic with Protestant methods and results: although his sympathy is naturally with his own, his approbation is all for the other side.
Catholicism numbers some 270 millions of adherents, all professing the same Faith, using the same sacraments, living under the same discipline; Protestantism claims roundly 100 millions of Christians, products of the Gospel and the fancies of a hundred reformers, people constantly bewailing their "unhappy divisions" and vainly crying for a union which is only possible under that very central authority, protestation against which is their only common denominator.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08573a.htm (only quoting the relevant section)
The Protestant doctrine on justification
The ideas on which the Reformers built their system of justification, except perhaps fiduciary faith, were by no means really original. They had been conceived long before either by heretics of the earlier centuries or by isolated Catholic theologians and had been quietly scattered as the seed of future heresies. It was especially the representatives of Antinomianism during the Apostolic times who welcomed the idea that faith alone suffices for justification, and that consequently the observance of the moral law is not necessary either as a prerequisite for obtaining justification or as a means for preserving it. For this reason St. Augustine (De fide et operibus, xiv) was of the opinion that the Apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude had directed their Epistles against the Antinomians of that time, who claimed to have taken their doctrines — so dangerous to morality — from the writings of St. Paul. Until quite recently, it was almost universally accepted that the epistle of St. James was written against the unwarranted conclusions drawn from the writings of St. Paul. Of late, however, Catholic exegetes have become more and more convinced that the Epistle in question, so remarkable for its insisting on the necessity of good works, neither aimed at correcting the falseinterpretations of St. Paul's doctrine, nor had any relation to the teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles. On the contrary, they believe that St. James had no other object than to emphasize the fact — already emphasized by St. Paul — that only such faith as is active in charity and good works (fides formata) possesses any power to justify man (cf. Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 13:2), whilst faith devoid of charity and good works (fides informis) is a dead faith and in the eyes of God insufficient for justification (cf. James 2:17 sqq.). According to this apparently correct opinion, the Epistles of both Apostles treat of different subjects, neither with direct relation to the other. For St. James insists on the necessity of works of Christian charity, while St. Paul intends to show that neither the observance of the Jewish Law nor the merely natural good works of the pagans are of any value for obtaining the grace of justification (cf. Bartmann, "St. Paulus u. St. Jacobus und die Rechtertigung", Freiburg, 1897).
Whether Victorinus, a neo-Platonist, already defended the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is immaterial to our discussion. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that in the Middle Ages there were a few Catholic theologians among the Nominalists (Occam, Durandus, Gabriel Biel), who went so far in exaggerating the value of good works in the matter of justification that the efficiency and dignity of Divine grace was unduly relegated to the background. Of late, Fathers Denifle and Weiss have shown that Martin Luther was acquainted almost exclusively with the theology of these Nominalists, which he naturally and justly found repugnant, and that the "Summa" of St. Thomas and the works of other great theologians were practically unknown to him. Even Ritschl("Christliche Lehre von der Rechfertigung und Versohnung", I, 3rd ed., Bonn, 1889, pp. 105, 117) admits that neither the Church in her official teaching nor the majority of her theologians ever sanctioned, much less adopted, the extreme views of the Nominalists. Nevertheless it was not a healthy reaction against Nominalism, but Luther's own state of conscience that caused his change of views. Frightened, tormented, worn out by constant reflections on his own sinfulness, he had finally found, even before 1517, relief and consolation only in the thought that man cannot overcome concupiscence, and that sin itself is a necessity. This thought naturally led him to a consideration of the fall of man and its consequences. Original sin has so completely destroyed our likeness to God and our moral faculties in the natural order, that our will has lost its freedom regarding works morally good or bad, and we are consequently condemned to commit sin in every action. Even what we consider good works are nothing but sin. Since, according to Luther, concupiscence, of which death alone shall free us, constitutes the essence of original sin, all our actions are corrupted by it. Concupiscence as an intrinsically evil disposition, has instilled its deadly poison into the soul, its faculties, and its action (cf. Möhler, "Symbolik", sec. 6). But here we are forced to ask: If all our moral actions be the outcome of an internal necessity and constraint, how can Luther still speak of sin in the true meaning of the word? Does not original sin become identical with the "Evil Substance" of the Manichæans, as later on Luther's follower, Flacius Illyricus, quite logically admitted?
Against this dark and desolate background there stands out the more clearly the mercy of God, who for the sake of the Redeemer's merits lovingly offers to despairing man a righteousness (justitia) already complete in itself, namely the exterior righteousness of God or of Christ. With the "arm of faith" the sinner eagerly reaches out for this righteousness and puts it on as a cloak of grace, covering and concealing therewith his misery and his sins. Thus on the part of God, justification is, as the Formulary of Concord (1577) avows, a mere external pronouncement of justification, a forensic absolution from sin and its eternal punishments. This absolution is based on Christ's holiness which God imputes to man's faith. Cf. Solid. Declar. III de fide justif., sec. xi: "The term justification in this instance means the declaring just, the freeing from sin and the eternal punishment of sin in consideration of the justice of Christ imputed to faith by God."
What then is the part assigned to faith in justification? According to Luther (and Calvin also), the faith that justifies is not, as the Catholic Church teaches, a firm belief in God's revealed truths and promises (fides theoretica, dogmatica), but is the infallible conviction (fides fiducialis, fiducia) that God for the sake of Christ will no longer impute to us our sins, but will consider and treat us, as if we were really just and holy, although in our inner selves we remain the same sinners as before. Cf. Solid. Declar. III, sec. 15: "Through the obedience of Christ by faith the just are so declared and reputed, although by reason of their corrupt nature they still are and remain, sinners as long as they bear this mortal body." This so-called "fiduciary faith" is not a religious-moral preparation of the soul for sanctifying grace, nor a free act of cooperation on the part of the sinner; it is merely a means or spiritual instrument (instrumentum, organon leptikon) granted by God to assist the sinner in laying hold of the righteousness of God, thereby to cover his sins in a purely external manner as with a mantle. For this reason the Lutheran formularies of belief lay great stress on the doctrine that our entire righteousness does not intrinsically belong to us, but is something altogether exterior. Cf. Solid. Declar., sec. 48: "It is settled beyond question that our justice is to be sought wholly outside of ourselves and that it consists entirely in our Lord Jesus Christ." The contrast between Protestant and Catholic doctrine here becomes very striking. For according to the teaching of the Catholic Church the righteousness and sanctity which justification confers, although given to us by God as efficient cause (causa efficiens) and merited by Christ as meritorious cause (causa meritoria), become an interior sanctifying quality or formal cause (causa formalis) in the soul itself, which it makes truly just and holy in the sight of God. In the Protestant system, however, remission of sin is no real forgiveness, no blotting out of guilt. Sin is merely cloaked and concealed by the imputed merits of Christ; God no longer imputes it, whilst in reality it continues under cover its miserable existence till the hour of death. Thus there exist in man side by side two hostile brothers as it were — the one just and the other unjust; the one a saint, the other a sinner; the one a child of God, the other a slave of Satan — and this without any prospect of a conciliation between the two. For, God by His merely judicial absolution from sin does not take away sin itself, but spreads over it as an outward mantle His own righteousness. The Lutheran (and Calvinistic) doctrine on justification reaches its climax in the assertion that "fiduciary faith", as described above, is the only requisite for justification (sola fides justificat). As long as the sinner with the "arm of faith" firmly clings to Christ, he is and will ever remain regenerated, pleasing to God, the child of God and heir to heaven. Faith, which alone can justify, is also the only requisite and means of obtaining salvation. Neither repentance nor penance, neither love of God nor goodworks, nor any other virtue is required, though in the just they may either attend or follow as a result of justification. (Cf. Solid. Declar, sec. 23: "Indeed, neither contrition nor love nor any other virtue, but faith alone is the means by which we can reach forth and obtain the grace of God, the merit of Christ and the remission of sin.") It is well known that Luther in his German translation of the Bible falsified Romans 3:28, by interpolating the word "alone" (by faith alone), and to his critics gave the famous answer: "Dr. Martin Luther wants it that way, and says, 'Papist and ass are the same thing: sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas'."
Since neither charity nor good works contribute anything towards justification — inasmuch as faith alone justifies — their absence subsequently cannot deprive the just man of anything whatever. There is only one thing that might possibly divest him of justification, namely, the loss of fiduciary faith or of faith in general. From this point of view we get a psychological explanation of numerous objectionable passages in Luther's writings, against which even Protestant with deep moral sense, such as Hugo Grotius and George Bull, earnestly protested. Thus we find in one of Luther's letters, written to Melancthon in 1521, the following sentence: "Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ more strongly, who triumphed over sin, death, and the world; as long as we live here, we must sin." Could anyone do more to degrade St. Paul's concept of justification than Luther did in the following blasphemy: "If adultery could be committed in faith, it would not be a sin"? (Cf. Möhler, "Symbolik", sec. 16). The doctrine of justification by faith alone was considered by Luther and his followers as an incontrovertible dogma, as the foundation rock of the Reformation, as an "article by which the Church must stand or fall" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesia), and which of itself would have been a sufficient cause for beginning the Reformation, as the Smalkaldic Articles emphatically declare. Thus we need not wonder when later on we see Lutheran theologians declaring that the Sola-Fides doctrine, as the principium materiale of Protestantism, deserves to be placed side by side with the doctrine of Sola-Scriptura ("Bible alone", with the exclusion of Tradition) as its principium formale — two maxims in which the contrast between Protestant and Catholic teaching reaches its highest point. Since, however, neither maxim can be found in the Bible, every Catholic is forced to conclude that Protestantism from its very beginning and foundation is based on self-deception. We assert this of Protestantism in general; for the doctrine of justification as defended by the reformed Churches differs only in non-essentials from Lutheranism. The most important of these differences is to be found in Calvin's system, which taught that only such as are predestined infallibly to eternal salvation obtain justification, whilst in those not predestined God produces a mere appearance of faith and righteousness, and this in order to punish them the more severely in hell (Cf. Möhler, "Symbolik", sec. 12).
From what has been said it is obvious that justification as understood by Protestants, presents the following qualities: its absolute certainty (certitudo), its equality in all (aequalitas), and finally the impossibility of ever losing it (inamissibilitas). For if it be essential to fiduciary faith that it infallibly assures the sinner of his own justification, it cannot mean anything but a firm conviction of the actual possession of grace. If, moreover, the sinner be justified, not by an interior righteousness capable of increase or decrease, but through God's sanctity eternally the same, it is evident that all the just from the common mortal to the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary possess one and the same degree of righteousness and sanctity. Finally if, as Luther maintains, only the loss of faith (according to Calvin, not even that) can deprive us of justification, it follows that justification once obtained can never be lost.
Incidentally, we may here call attention to another significant fact, namely that it was Luther who laid the foundation for the separation of religion and morality. For, by stating that fiduciary faith alone suffices for obtaining both justification and eternal happiness, he minimized our moral faculties to such an extent that charity and good works no longer affect our relations with God. By this doctrine Luther opened a fundamental breach between religion and morality, between faith and law, and assigned to each its own distinct sphere of action in which each can attain its end independent of the other. Prof. Paulsen of Berlin was therefore justified in eulogizing Kant, who followed Luther in this matter, as the Philosopher of Protestantism". (Cf. Möhler, "Symbolik", sec. 25.)
The harshness, want of harmony, intrinsic improbability, and contradiction of Holy Writ contained in the system soon brought about a reaction in the very midst of Protestantism. Osiander (d. 1552), at once an enthusiastic admirer of Luther and an independent thinker, emphatically stated (in opposition to Luther and Calvin) that the justifying power of faith consists in a real, instrinsic union of Christ with the soul, an opinion for which, as being Catholic, he was censured freely. Butzer (d. 1551) likewise admits, in addition to an "imputed exterior righteousness", the idea of an "inherent righteousness" as a partial factor in justification, thus meeting Catholicism half way. Luther's most dangerous adversary, however, was his friend Melancthon, who, in his praiseworthy endeavour to smooth over by conciliatory modifications the interior difficulties of this discordant system, laid the foundation for the famous Synergisten-Streit (Synergist Dispute), which was so soon to become embittered. In general it was precisely the denial of man's free will in the moral order, and of the impossibility of his full cooperation with Divine grace that repelled so many followers of Luther. No sooner had Pfeffinger in his book, "De libero arbitrio" (Leipzig, 1555) taken up defence of man's free will than many theologians of Jena (e.g. Strigel) boldly attacked the Lutheran Klotz-Stock-und-Steintheorie (log-stick-and-stone theory), and tried to force from their adversaries the concession that man can cooperate with God's grace. The theological quarrel soon proved very annoying to both parties and the desire for peace became universal. "The Half-Melanchtonians" had succeeded in smuggling Synergism into the "Book of Torgau" (1576); but before the "Formulary of Concord" was printed in the monastery of Bergen (near Magdeburg, 1557), the article in question was eliminated as heterodox and the harsh doctrine of Luther substituted in the symbols of the Lutheran Church. The new breach in the system by the Synergisten-Streit was enlarged by a counter movement that originated among the Pietists and Methodists, who were willing to admit the fallible assurance of salvation — given by fiduciary faith— only in case that that assurance was confirmed by internal experience. But what probably contributed most of all to the crumbling of the system was the rapid growth of Socinianism and Rationalism which during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gained so many adherents among the Lutherans. Fiduciary faith was no longer considered a spiritual means to assist man in reaching out for the righteousness of God, but was identified with a disposition which is upright and pleasing to God. Latterly, A. Ritschl defined justification as the change in the consciousness of our relation to God and amplified this idea by the statement that the certainty of our salvation is further determined by the consciousness of our union with the Christian community. Schleiermacher and Hengstenberg deviated still further from the old doctrine. For they declared contrition and penance as also necessary for justification, thus "coming dangerously near the Catholic system", as Derner expresses it ("Geschichte der protest. Theologie", Munich, 1867, p. 583). Finally the Lutheran Church of Scandinavia has in the course of time experienced a "quiet reformation", inasmuch as it now, without being fully conscious of the fact, defends the Catholic doctrine on justification (cf. Krogh-Tonning, "Die Gnadenlehre und die stille Reformation", Christiania, 1894). The strict orthodoxy of the Old Lutherans, e.g. in the Kingdom of Saxony and the State of Missouri, alone continues to cling tenaciously to a system, which otherwise would have slowly fallen into oblivion.
Here is some supplemental history about Martin Luther, the Reformation, John Calvin, and the Counter-Reformation:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09438b.htm (Martin Luther)
Leader of the great religious revolt of the sixteenth century in Germany; born at Eisleben, 10 November, 1483; died at Eisleben, 18 February, 1546.
His father, Hans, was a miner, a rugged, stern, irascible character. In the opinion of many of his biographers, it was an expression of uncontrolled rage, an evident congenital inheritance transmitted to his oldest son, that compelled him to flee from Mohra, the family seat, to escape the penalty or odium of homicide. This, though first charged by Wicelius, a convert from Lutheranism, has found admission into Protestant history and tradition. His mother, Margaret Ziegler, is spoken of by Melancthon as conspicuous for "modesty, the fear of God, and prayerfulness" ("Corpus Reformatorum", Halle, 1834).
Extreme simplicity and inflexible severity characterized their home life, so that the joys of childhood were virtully unknown to him. His father once beat him so mercilessly that he ran away from home and was so "embittered against him that he had to win me to himself again." His mother, "on account of an insignificant nut, beat me till the blood flowed, and it was this harshness and severity of the life I led with them that forced me subsequently to run away to a monastery and become a monk." The same cruelty was the experience of his earliest school-days, when in one morning he was punished no less than fifteen times.
The meager data of his life at this period make it a work of difficulty to reconstruct his childhood. His schooling at Mansfeld, whither his parents had returned, was uneventful. He attended a Latin school, in which the Ten Commandments, "Child's Belief", the Lord's Prayer, the Latin grammar of Donatus were taught, and which he learned quickly.
In his fourteenth year (1497) he entered a school at Magdeburg, where, in the words of his first biographer, like many children "of honourable and well-to-do parents, he sang and begged for bread — panem propter Deum" (Mathesius, op. cit.). In his fifteenth year we find him at Eisenach.
At eighteen (1501) he entered the University of Erfurt, with a view to studying jurisprudence at the request of his father. In 1502 he received the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy, being the thirteenth among fifty-seven candidates. On Epiphany (6 January, 1505), he was advanced to the master's degree, being second among seventeen applicants.
His philosophical studies were no doubt made under Jodocus Trutvetter von Eisenach, then rector of the university, and Bartholomaus Arnoldi von Usingen. The former was pre-eminently the Doctor Erfordiensis, and stood without an admitted rival in Germany. Luther addresses him in a letter (151 as not only "the first theologian and philosopher", but also the first of contemporary dialecticians. Usingen was an Augustinian friar, and second only to Trutvetter in learning, but surpassing him in literary productivity. Although the tone of the university, especially that of the students, was pronouncedly, even enthusiastically, humanistic, and although Erfurt led the movement in Germany, and in its theological tendencies was supposedly "modern", nevertheless "it nowise showed a depreciation of the currently prevailing [Scholastic] system" (ibid.). Luther himself, in spite of an acquaintaince with some of the moving spirits of humanism, seems not to have been appreciably affected by it, lived on its outer fringe, and never qualified to enter its "poetic" circle.
Luther's sudden and unexpected entrance into the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt occurred 17 July, 1505. The motives that prompted the step are various, conflicting, and the subject of considerable debate. He himself alleges, as above stated, that the brutality of his home and school life drove him into the monastery. Hausrath, his latest biographer and one of the most scholarly Luther specialists, unreservedly inclines to this belief. The "house at Mansfeld rather repelled than attracted him" (Beard, "Martin Luther and the Germ. Ref.", London, 1889, 146), and to "the question 'Why did Luther go into the monastery?', the reply that Luther himself gives is the most satisfactory" (Hausrath, "Luthers Leben" I, Berlin, 1904, 2, 22). He himself again, in a letter to his father, in explanation of his defection from the Old Church, writes, "When I was terror-stricken and overwhelmed by the fear of impending death, I made an involuntary and forced vow".
Various explanations are given of this episode. Melancthon ascribes his step to a deep melancholy, which attained a critical point "when at one time he lost one of his comrades by an accidental death" (Corp. Ref., VI, 156). Cochlaeus, Luther's opponent, relates "that at one time he was so frightened in a field, at a thunderbolt as is commonly reported, or was in such anguish at the loss of a companion, who was killed in the storm, that in a short time to the amazement of many persons he sought admission to the Order of St. Augustine". Mathesius, his first biographer, attributes it to the fatal "stabbing of a friend and a terrible storm with a thunderclap" (op. cit.) Seckendorf, who made careful research, following Bavarus (Beyer), a pupil of Luther, goes a step farther, calling this unknown friend Alexius, and ascribes his death to a thunderbolt (Seckendorf, "Ausfuhrliche Historie des Lutherthums", Leipzig, 1714, 51). D'Aubigné changes this Alexius into Alexis and has him assassinated at Erfurt (D'Aubigné, "History of the Reformation", New York, s.d., I, 166). Oerger ("Vom jungen Luther", Erfurt, 1899, 27-41) has proved the existence of this friend, his name of Alexius or Alexis, his death by lightning or assassination, a mere legend, destitute of all historical verification. Kostlin-Kawerau (I, 45) states that returning from his "Mansfeld home he was overtaken by a terrible storm, with an alarming lightning flash and thunderbolt. Terrified and overwhelmed he cries out: 'Help, St. Anna, I will be a monk'." "The inner history of the change is far less easy to narrate. We have no direct contemporary evidence on which to rely; while Luther's own reminiscences, on which we chiefly depend, are necessarily coloured by his later experiences and feelings" (Beard, op. cit., 146).
Of Luther's monastic life we have little authentic information, and that is based on his own utterances, which his own biographers frankly admit are highly exaggerated, frequently contradictory, and commonly misleading. Thus the alleged custom by which he was forced to change his baptismal name Martin into the monastic name Augustine, a proceeding he denounces as "wicked" and "sacrilegious", certainly had no existence in the Augustinian Order.
His accidental discovery in the Erfurt monastery library of the Bible, "a book he had never seen in his life" (Mathesius, op. cit.), or Luther's assertion that he had "never seen a Bible until he was twenty years of age", or his still more emphatic declaration that when Carlstadt was promoted to the doctorate "he had as yet never seen a Bible and I alone in the Erfurt monastery read the Bible", which, taken in their literal sense, are not only contrary to demonstrable facts, but have perpetuated misconception, bear the stamp of improbability written in such obtrusive characters on their face, that it is hard, on an honest assumption, to account for their longevity. The Augustinian rule lays especial stress on the monition that the novice "read the Scripture assiduously, hear it devoutly, and learn it fervently" (Constitutiones Ordinis Fratr. Eremit. Sti. Augustini", Rome, 1551, cap. xvii). At this very time Biblical studies were in a flourishing condition at the university, so that its historian states that "it is astonishing to meet such a great number of Biblical commentaries, which force us to conclude that there was an active study of Holy Writ" (Kampschulte, op. cit., I, 22). Protestant writers of repute have abandoned this legend altogether.
Parenthetical mention must be made of the fact that the denunciation heaped on Luther's novice-master by Mathesius, Ratzeberger, and Jurgens, and copied with uncritical docility by their transcribers — for subjecting him to the most abject menial duties and treating him with outrageous indignity — rests on no evidence. These writers are "evidently led by hearsay, and follow the legendary stories that have been spun about the person of the reformer" (Oerger, op. cit., 80). The nameless novice-master, whom even Luther designates as "an excellent man, and without doubt even under the damned cowl, a true Christian," must "have been a worthy representative of his order" (Oerger, op. cit.).
Luther was ordained to the priesthood in 1507. The precise date is uncertain. A strange oversight, running through three centuries, placed the date of his ordination and first Mass on the same day, 2 May, an impossible coincidence. Kostlin, who repeated it (Luther's Leben, I, 1883, 63) drops the date altogether in his latest edition. Oerger fixes on 27 February. This allows the unprecedented interval of more than two months to elapse between the ordination and first Mass. Could he have deferred his first Mass on account of the morbid scrupulosity, which played such a part in the later periods of his monastic life?
There is no reason to doubt that Luther's monastic career thus far was exemplary, tranquil, happy; his heart at rest, his mindundisturbed, his soul at peace. The metaphysical disquisitions, psychological dissertations, pietistic maunderings about his interior conflicts, his theological wrestlings, his torturing asceticism, his chafing under monastic conditions, can have little more than an academic, possibly a psychopathic value. They lack all basis of verifiable data. Unfortunately Luther himself in his self-revelation can hardly be taken as a safe guide. Moreover, with an array of evidence, thoroughness of research, fullness of knowledge, and unrivalled mastery of monasticism, scholasticism, and mysticism, Denifle has removed it from the domain of debatable ground to that of verifiable certainty. "What Adolf Hausrath has done in an essay for the Protestant side, was accentuated and confirmed with all possible penetration by Denifle; the young Luther according to his self-revelation is unhistorical; he was not the discontented Augustinian, nagged by the monastic life, perpetually tortured by his conscience, fasting, praying, mortified, and emaciated — no, he was happy in the monastery, he found peace there, to which he turned his back only later" (Kohler, op. cit., 68-69).
During the winter of 1508-09 he was sent to the University of Wittenberg, then in its infancy (founded 2 July, 1502), with an enrolment of one hundred and seventy-nine students. The town itself was a poor insignificant place, with three hundred and fifty-six taxable properties, and accredited the most bibulous town of the most bibulous province (Saxony) of Germany. While teaching philosophy and dialectics he also continued his theological studies. On 9 March, 1509, under the deanship of Staupitz, he became Baccalaureus Biblicus in the theological course, as a stepping-stone to the doctorate. His recall to Erfurt occurred the same year.
His mission to Rome, extending over an estimated period of five months, one of which he spent in the city of Rome, which played so important a part in his early biographies, and even now is far from a negligible factor in Reformation research, occurred in 1511, or, as some contend, 1510. Its true object has thus far baffled all satisfactory investigation. Mathesius makes him go from Wittenberg on "monastic business"; Melancthon attributes it to a "monkish squabble"; Cochlaeus, and he is in the main followed by Catholic investigators, makes him appear as the delegated representative of seven allied Augustinian monasteries to voice a protest against some innovations of Staupitz, but as deserting his clients and siding with Staupitz. Protestants say he was sent to Rome as the advocate of Staupitz. Luther himself states that it was a pilgrimage in fulfilment of a vow to make a general confession in the Eternal City.
The outcome of the mission, like its object, still remains shrouded in mystery. What was the effect of this Roman visit on his spiritual life or theological thought? Did "this visit turn his reverence for Rome into loathing"? Did he find it "a sink of iniquity, its priests, infidels, the papal courtiers, men of shameless lives?" (Lindsay, "Luther and the German Reformation", New York, 1900). "He returned from Rome as strong in the faith as he went to visit it. In a certain sense his sojourn in Rome even strengthened his religious convictions" (Hausrath, op. cit., 9.
His whole Roman experience as expressed in later life is open to question. "We can really question the importance attached to remarks which in a great measure date from the last years of his life, when he was really a changed man. Much that he relates as personal experience is manifestly the product of an easily explained self-delusion" (Hausrath, op. cit., 79).In his letters of those years he never mentions having been in Rome. In his conference with Cardinal Cajetan, in his disputations with Dr. Eck, in his letters to Pope Leo, nay, in his tremendous broadside of invective and accusation against all things Romish, in his 'Address to the German Nation and Nobility', there occurs not one unmistakable reference to his having been in Rome. By every rule of evidence we are bound to hold that when the most furious assailant Rome has ever known described from a distance of ten years upwards the incidents of a journey through Italy to Rome, the few touches of light in his picture are more trustworthy than its black breadths of shade. (Bayne, "Martin Luther", I, 234)
One of the incidents of the Roman mission, which at one time was considered a pivotal point in his career, and was calculated to impart an inspirational character to the leading doctrine of the Reformation, and is still detailed by his biographers, was his supposed experience while climbing the Scala Santa. According to it, while Luther was in the act of climbing the stairs on his knees, the thought suddenly flashed through his mind: "The just shall live by faith", whereupon he immediately discontinued his pious devotion. The story rests on an autograph insertion of his son Paul in a Bible, now in possession of the library of Rudolstadt. In it he claims that his father told him the incident. Its historic value may be gauged by the considerations that it is the personal recollections of an immature lad (he was born in 1533) recorded twenty years after the event, to which neither his father, his early biographers, nor his table companions before whom it is claimed the remark was made, allude, though it could have been of primary importance. "It is easy to see the tendency here to date the (theological) attitude of the Reformer back into the days of his monastic faith" (Hausrath, op. cit., 4.
Having acquitted himself with evident success, and in a manner to please both parties, Luther returned to Wittenberg in 1512, and received the appointment of sub-prior. His academic promotions followed in quick succession. On 4 October he was made licentiate, and on 19 October, under the deanship of Carlstadt — successively friend, rival, and enemy — he was admitted to the doctorate, being then in his thirtieth year. On 22 October he was formally admitted to the senate of the faculty of theology, and received the appointment as lecturer on the Bible in 1513. His further appointment as district vicar in 1515 made him the official representative of the vicar-general in Saxony and Thuringia. His duties were manifold and his life busy. Little time was left for intellectual pursuits, and the increasing irregularity in the performance of his religious duties could only bode ill for his future. He himself tells us that he needed two secretaries or chancellors, wrote letters all day, preached at table, also in the monastery and parochial churches, was superintendent of studies, and as vicar of the order had as much to do as eleven priors; he lectured on the psalms and St. Paul, besides the demand made on his economic resourcefulness in managing a monastery of twenty-two priests, twelve young men, in all forty-one inmates. His official letters breathe a deep solicitude for the wavering, gentle sympathy for the fallen; they show profound touches of religious feeling and rare practical sense, though not unmarred with counsels that have unorthodox tendencies. The plague which afflicted Wittenberg in 1516 found him courageously at his post, which, in spite of the concern of his friends, he would not abandon.
But in Luther's spiritual life significant, if not ominous, changes were likewise discernible. Whether he entered "the monastery and deserted the world to flee from despair" (Jurgens, op. cit., I, 522) and did not find the coveted peace; whether the expressed apprehensions of his father that the "call from heaven" to the monastic life might be a "satanic delusion" stirred up thoughts of doubt; whether his sudden, violent resolve was the result of one of those "sporadic overmastering torpors which interrupt the circulatory system or indicate arterial convulsion" (Hausrath, "Luthers Leben", I, 22), a heritage of his depressing childhood, and a chronic condition that clung to him to the end of his life; or whether deeper studies, for which he had little or no time, created doubts that would not be solved and aroused a conscience that would not be stilled, it is evident that his vocation, if it ever existed, was in jeopardy, that the morbid interior conflict marked a drifting from old moorings, and that the very remedies adopted to re-establish peace all the more effectually banished it.
This condition of morbidity finally developed into formal scrupulosity. Infractions of the rules, breaches of discipline, distorted ascetic practices followed in quick succession and with increasing gravity; these, followed by spasmodic convulsive reactions, made life an agony. The solemn obligation of reciting the daily Office, an obligation binding under the penalty of mortal sin, was neglected to allow more ample time for study, with the result that the Breviary was abandoned for weeks. Then in paroxysmal remorse Luther would lock himself into his cell and by one retroactive act make amends for all he neglected; he would abstain from all food and drink, torture himself by harrowing mortifications, to an extent that not only made him the victim of insomnia for five weeks at one time, but threatened to drive him into insanity. The prescribed and regulated ascetical exercises were arbitrarily set aside. Disregarding the monastic regulations and the counsels of his confessor, he devised his own, which naturally gave him the character of singularity in his community. Like every victim of scrupulosity, he saw nothing in himself but wickedness and corruption. God was the minister of wrath and vengeance. His sorrow for sin was devoid of humble charity and childlike confidence in the pardoning mercy of God and Jesus Christ.
This anger of God, which pursued him like his shadow, could only be averted by "his own righteousness", by the "efficacy of servile works". Such an attitude of mind was necessarily followed by hopeless discouragement and sullen despondency, creating a condition of soul in which he actually "hated God and was angry at him", blasphemed God, and deplored that he was ever born. This abnormal condition produced a brooding melancholy, physical, mental, and spiritual depression, which later, by a strange process of reasoning, he ascribed to the teaching of the Church concerning good works, while all the time he was living in direct and absolute opposition to its doctrinal teaching and disciplinary code.
Of course this self-willed positiveness and hypochondriac asceticism, as usually happens in cases of morbidly scrupulous natures, found no relief in the sacraments. His general confessions at Erfurt and Rome did not touch the root of the evil. His whole being was wrought up to such an acute tension that he actually regretted his parents were not dead, that he might avail himself of the facilities Rome afforded to save them from purgatory. For religion's sake he was ready to become "the most brutal murderer", "to kill all who even by syllable refused submission to the pope" (Sämmtliche Werke, XXXX, Erlangen, 284). Such a tense and neurotic physical condition demanded a reaction, and, as frequently occurs in analogous cases, it went to the diametric extreme.
The undue importance he had placed on his own strength in the spiritual process of justification, he now peremptorily and completely rejected. He convinced himself that man, as a consequence of original sin, was totally depraved, destitute of free will, that all works, even though directed towards the good, were nothing more than an outgrowth of his corrupted will, and in the judgments of God in reality mortal sins. Man can be saved by faith alone. Our faith in Christ makes His merits our possession, envelops us in the garb of righteousness, which our guilt and sinfulness hide, and supplies in abundance every defect of human righteousness.
The new doctrine of justification by faith, now in its inchoate stage, gradually developed, and was finally fixed by Luther as one of the central doctrines of Christianity. The epoch-making event connected with the publication of the papal Bull of Indulgences in Germany, which was that of Julius II renewed in adaptable form by Leo X, to raise funds for the construction of St. Peter's Churchin Rome, brought his spiritual difficulties to a crisis.Be a sinner and sin on bravely, but have stronger faith and rejoice in Christ, who is the victor of sin, death, and the world. Do not for a moment imagine that this life is the abiding place of justice: sin must be committed. To you it ought to be sufficient that you acknowledge the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, the sin cannot tear you away from him, even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders" (Enders, "Briefwechsel", III, 20.
Albert of Brandenburg was heavily involved in debt, not, as Protestant and Catholic historians relate, on account of his pallium, but to pay a bribe to an unknown agent in Rome, to buy off a rival, in order that the archbishop might enjoy a plurality of ecclesiastical offices. For this payment, which smacked of simony, the pope would allow an indemnity, which in this case took the form of an indulgence. By this ignoble business arrangement with Rome, a financial transaction unworthy of both pope and archbishop, the revenue should be partitioned in equal halves to each, besides a bonus of 10,000 gold ducats, which should fall to the share of Rome.
John Tetzel, a Dominican monk with an impressive personality, a gift of popular oratory, and the repute of a successful indulgencepreacher, was chosen by the archbishop as general-subcommissary. History presents few characters more unfortunate and pathetic than Tetzel. Among his contemporaries the victim of the most corrosive ridicule, every foul charge laid at his door, every blasphemous utterance placed in his mouth, a veritable fiction and fable built about his personality, in modern history held up as the proverbial mountebank and oily harlequin, denied even the support and sympathy of his own allies — Tetzel had to wait the light of modern critical scrutiny, not only for a moral rehabilitation, but also for vindication as a soundly trained theologian and a monk of irreproachable deportment. It was his preaching at Juterbog and Zerbst, towns adjoining Wittenberg, that drew hearers from there, who in turn presented themselves to Luther for confession, that made him take the step he had in contemplation for more than a year.
It is not denied that a doctrine like that of the indulgences, which in some aspects was still a disputable subject in the schools, was open to misunderstanding by the laity; that the preachers in the heat of rhetorical enthusiasm fell into exaggerated statements, or that the financial considerations attached, though not of an obligatory character, led to abuse and scandal. The opposition to indulgences, not to the doctrine—which remains the same to this day—but to the mercantile methods pursued in preaching them, was not new or silent. Duke George of Saxony prohibited them in his territory, and Cardinal Ximenes, as early as 1513, forbade them in Spain.
On 31 October, 1517, the vigil of All Saints', Luther affixed to the castle church door, which served as the "black-board" of the university, on which all notices of disputations and high academic functions were displayed, his Ninety-five Theses. The act was not an open declaration of war, but simply an academic challenge to a disputation. "Such disputations were regarded in the universitiesof the Middle Ages partly as a recognized means of defining and elucidating truth, partly as a kind of mental gymnastic apt to train and quicken the faculties of the disputants. It was not understood that a man was always ready to adopt in sober earnest propositions which he was willing to defend in the academic arena; and in like manner a rising disputant might attack orthodoxpositions, without endangering his reputation for orthodoxy" (Beard, op. cit.). The same day he sent a copy of the Theses with an explanatory letter to the archbishop. The latter in turn submitted them to his councillors at Aschaffenburg and to the professors of the University of Mainz. The councillors were of the unanimous opinion that they were of an heretical character, and that proceedings against the Wittenberg Augustinian should be taken. This report, with a copy of the Theses, was then transmitted to the pope. It will thus be seen that the first judicial procedure against Luther did not emanate from Tetzel. His weapons were to be literary.
Tetzel, more readily than some of the contemporary brilliant theologians, divined the revolutionary import of the Theses, which while ostensibly aimed at the abuse of indulgences, were a covert attack on the whole penitential system of the Church and struck at the very root of ecclesiastical authority. Luther's Theses impress the reader "as thrown together somewhat in haste", rather than showing "carefully digested thought, and delicate theological intention"; they "bear him one moment into the audacity of rebellion and then carry him back to the obedience of conformity" (Beard, 218, 219). Tetzel's anti-theses were maintained partly in a disputation for the doctorate at Frankfort-on-the-Oder (20 Jan., 151, and issued with others in an unnumbered list, and are commonly known as the One Hundred and Six Theses. They, however, did not have Tetzel for their author, but were promptly and rightfully attributed to Conrad Wimpina, his teacher at Leipzig. That this fact argues no ignorance of theology or unfamiliarity with Latin on the part of Tetzel, as has been generally assumed, is frankly admitted by Protestant writers. It was simply a legitimate custom pursued in academic circles, as we know from Melancthon himself.
Tetzel's Theses — for he assumed all responsibility — opposed to Luther's innovations the traditional teaching of the church; but it must be admitted that they at times gave an uncompromising, even dogmatic, sanction to mere theological opinions, that were hardly consonant with the most accurate scholarship. At Wittenberg they created wild excitement, and an unfortunate hawker who offered them for sale, was mobbed by the students, and his stock of about eight hundred copies publicly burned in the market square — a proceeding that met with Luther's disapproval. The plea then made, and still repeated, that it was done in retaliation for Tetzel's burning Luther's Theses, is admittedly incorrect, in spite of the fact that it has Melancthon as sponsor. Instead of replying to Tetzel, Luther carried the controversy from the academic arena to the public forum by issuing in popular vernacular form his "Sermon on Indulgences and Grace". It was really a tract, where the sermon form was abandoned and twenty propositions laid down. At the same time his Latin defence of the Theses, the "Resolutiones", was well under way. In its finished form, it was sent to his ordinary, Bishop Scultetus of Brandenburg, who counselled silence and abstention from all further publications for the present. Luther's acquiescence was that of the true monk: "I am ready, and will rather obey than perform miracles in my justification."
At this stage a new source of contention arose. Johann Eck, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ingoldstadt, by common consent acknowledged as one of the foremost theological scholars of his day, endowed with rare dialectical skill and phenomenal memory, all of which Luther candidly admitted before the Leipzig disputation took place, innocently became involved in the controversy. At the request of Bishop von Eyb, of Eichstätt, he subjected the Theses to a closer study, singled out eighteen of them as concealing the germ of the Hussite heresy, violating Christian charity, subverting the order of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and breeding sedition. These "Obelisci" ("obelisks", the odd printer's device for noting doubtful or spurious passages) were submitted to the bishop in manuscript form, passed around among intimates, and not intended for publication. In one of the transcribed forms, they reached Luther and wrought him up to a high pitch of indignation. Eck in a letter of explanation sought to mollify the ruffled tempers of Carlstadt and Luther and in courteous, urgent tones begged them to refrain from public disputation either by lecture or print. In spite of the fact that Carlstadt forestalled Luther, the latter gave out his "Asterisci" (10 August, 151. This skirmish led to the Leipzig Disputation. Sylvester Prierias, like Tetzel, a Dominican friar, domestic theologian of the Court of Rome, in his official capacity as Censor Librorum of Rome, next submitted his report "In præsumtuosas M. Lutheri, Conclusiones Dialogus". In it he maintained the absolute supremacy of the pope, in terms not altogether free from exaggeration, especially stretching his theory to an unwarrantable point in dealing with indulgences. This evoked Luther's "Responsio ad Silv. Prierietatis Dialogum". Hoogstraten, whose merciless lampooning in the "Epistolae Obscurorum Vivorum" was still a living memory, likewise entered the fray in defence of the papal prerogatives, only to be dismissed by Luther's "Schedam contra Hochstratanum", the flippancy and vulgarity of which one of Luther's most ardent students apologetically characterizes as being "in tone with the prevailing taste of the time and the circumstances, but not to be commended as worthy of imitation" (Loscher, op. cit., II, 325).
Before the "Dialogus" of Prierias reached Germany, a papal citation reached Luther (7 August) to appear in person within sixty days in Rome for a hearing. He at once took refuge in the excuse that such a trip could not be undertaken without endangering his life; he sought influence to secure the refusal of a safe-conduct through the electorate and brought pressure to bear on the Emperor Maximilian and Elector Frederick to have the hearing and judges appointed in Germany. The university sent letters to Rome and to the nuncio Miltitz sustaining the plea of "infirm health" and vouching for his orthodoxy. His literary activity continued unabated. His "Resolutiones", which were already completed, he also sent to the pope (30 May). The letter accompanying them breathes the most loyal expression of confidence and trust in the Holy See, and is couched in such terms of abject subserviency and fulsome adulation, that its sincerity and frankness, followed as it was by such an almost instantaneous revulsion, is instinctively questioned. Moreover before this letter had been written his anticipatory action in preaching his "Sermon on the Power of Excommunication" (16 May), in which it is contended that visible union with the Church is not broken by excommunication, but by sin alone, only strengthens the surmise of a lack of good faith. The inflammatory character of this sermon was fully acknowledged by himself.
Influential intervention had the effect of having the hearing fixed during the Diet of Augsburg, which was called to effect an alliance between the Holy See, the Emperor Maximilian, and King Christian of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, in the war against the Turks. In the official instructions calling the Diet, the name or cause of Luther does not figure.
The papal legate, Cajetan, and Luther met face to face for the first time at Augsburg on 11 October. Cajetan (b. 1470) was "one of the most remarkable figures woven into the history of the Reformation on the Roman side . . . a man of erudition and blameless life" (Weizacker); he was a doctor of philosophy before he was twenty-one, at this early age filling chairs with distinction in both sciences at some of the leading universities; in humanistic studies he was so well versed as to enter the dialectic arena against Pico della Mirandola when only twenty-four. Surely no better qualified man could be detailed to adjust the theological difficulties. But the audiences were doomed to failure. Cajetan came to adjudicate, Luther to defend; the former demanded submission, the latter launched out into remonstrance; the one showed a spirit of mediating patience, the other mistook it for apprehensive fear; the prisoner at the bar could not refrain from bandying words with the judge on the bench. The legate, with the reputation of "the most renowned and easily the first theologian of his age", could not fail to be shocked at the rude, discourteous, bawling tone of the friar, and having exhausted all his efforts, he dismissed him with the injunction not to call again until he recanted. Fiction and myth had a wide sweep in dealing with this meeting and have woven such an inextricable web of obscurity about it that we must follow either the highly coloured narratives of Luther and his friends, or be guided by the most trustworthy criterion of logical conjecture.
The papal Brief to Cajetan (23 August), which was handed to Luther at Nuremberg on his way home, in which the pope, contrary to all canonical precedents, demands the most summary action in regard to the uncondemned and unexcommunicated "child of iniquity", asks the aid of the emperor, in the event of Luther's refusal to appear in Rome, to place him under forcible arrest, was no doubt written in Germany, and is an evident forgery (Beard, op. cit., 257-258; Ranke, "Deutsche Gesch." VI, 97-9. Like all forgedpapal documents, it still shows a surprising vitality, and is found in every biography of Luther.
Luther's return to Wittenberg occurred on the anniversary of his nailing the Theses to the castle church door (31 October, 151. All efforts towards a recantation having failed, and now assured of the sympathy and support of the temporal princes, he followed his appeal to the pope by a new appeal to an ecumenical council (28 November, 151, which, as will be seen later, he again, denying the authority of both, followed by an appeal to the Bible.
The appointment of Karl von Miltitz, the young Saxon nobleman in minor orders, sent as nuncio to deliver the Golden Rose to the Elector Frederick, was unfortunate and abortive. The Golden Rose was not offered as a sop to secure the good graces of the elector, but in response to prolonged and importunate agitation on his part to get it (Hausrath, "Luther", I, 276). Miltitz not only lacked prudence and tact, but in his frequent drinking bouts lost all sense of diplomatic reticence; by continually borrowing from Luther's friends he placed himself in a position only to inspire contempt. It is true that his unauthorized overtures drew from Luther an act, which if it "is no recantation, is at least remarkably like one" (Beard, op. cit., 274). In it he promised:
The whole transaction closed with a banquet, an embrace, tears of joy, and a kiss of peace — only to be disregarded and ridiculed afterwards by Luther. The nuncio's treatment of Tetzel was severe and unjust. When the sick and ailing man could not come to him on account of the heated public sentiment against him, Miltitz on his visit to Leipzig summoned him to a meeting, in which he overwhelmed him with reproaches and charges, stigmatized him as the originator of the whole unfortunate affair, threatened the displeasure of the pope, and no doubt hastened the impending death of Tetzel (1 August, 1519).
- to observe silence if his assailants did the same;
- complete submission to the pope;
- to publish a plain statement to the public advocating loyalty to the Church;
- to place the whole vexatious case in the hands of a delegated bishop.
While the preliminaries of the Leipzig Disputation were pending, a true insight into Luther's real attitude towards the papacy, the subject which would form the main thesis of discussion, can best be gleaned from his own letters. On 3 March, 1519, he writes Leo X: "Before God and all his creatures, I bear testimony that I neither did desire, nor do desire to touch or by intrigue to undermine the authority of the Roman Church and that of your holiness" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 234). Two days later (5 March) he writes to Spalatin: "It was never my intention to revolt from the Roman Apostolic chair" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 236). Ten days later (13 March) he writes to the same: "I am at a loss to know whether the pope be antichrist or his apostle" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 239). A month before this (20 Feb.) he thanks Scheurl for sending him the foul "Dialogue of Julius and St. Peter", a most poisonous attack on the papacy, saying he is sorely tempted to issue it in the vernacular to the public (De Wette, op. cit., I, 230). "To prove Luther's consistency — to vindicate his conduct at all points, as faultless both in veracity and courage — under those circumstances, may be left to myth-making simpletons" (Bayne, op. cit., I, 457).
The Leipzig disputation was an important factor in fixing the alignment of both disputants, and forcing Luther's theologicalevolution. It was an outgrowth of the "Obelisci" and "Asterisci", which was taken up by Carlstadt during Luther's absence at Heidelberg in 1518. It was precipitated by the latter, and certainly not solicited or sought by Eck. Every obstacle was placed in the way of its taking place, only to be brushed aside. The Bishops of Merseburg and Brandenburg issued their official inhibitions; the theological faculty of the Leipzig University sent a letter of protest to Luther not to meddle in an affair that was purely Carlstadt's, and another to Duke George to prohibit it. Scheurl, then an intimate of Luther's, tried to dissuade him from the meeting; Eck, in terms pacific and dignified, replied to Carlstadt's offensive, and Luther's pugnacious letters, in fruitless endeavour to avert all public controversy either in print or lecture; Luther himself, pledged and forbidden all public discourse or print, begged Duke Frederick to make an endeavour to bring about the meeting (De Wette, op. cit., I, 175) at the same time that he personally appealed to Duke George for permission to allow it, and this in spite of the fact that he had already given the theses against Eck to the public. In the face of such urgent pressure Eck could not fail to accept the challenge. Even at this stage Eck and Carlstadt were to be the accredited combatants, and the formal admission of Luther into the disputation was only determined upon when the disputants were actually at Leipzig.
The disputation on Eck's twelve, subsequently thirteen, theses, was opened with much parade and ceremony on 27 June, and the university aula being too small, was conducted at the Pleissenburg Castle. The wordy battle was between Carlstadt and Eck on the subject of Divine grace and human free will. As is well known, it ended in the former's humiliating discomfiture. Luther and Eck'sdiscussion, 4 July, was on papal supremacy. The former, though gifted with a brilliant readiness of speech, lacked — and his warmest admirers admit it — the quiet composure, curbed self-restraint, and unruffled temper of a good disputant. The result was that the imperturbable serenity and unerring confidence of Eck, had an exasperating effect on him. He was "querulous and censorious", "arbitrary and bitter" (Mosellanus), which hardly contributed to the advantage of his cause, either in argumentation or with his hearers. Papal supremacy was denied by him, because it found no warrant in Holy Writ or in Divine right. Eck's comments on the "pestilential" errors of Wiclif and Hus condemned by the Council of Constance was met by the reply, that, so far as the position of the Hussites was concerned, there were among them many who were "very Christian and evangelical". Eck took his antagonist to task for placing the individual in a position to understand the Bible better than the popes, councils, doctors, and universities, and in pressing his argument closer, asserting that the condemned Bohemians would not hesitate to hail him as their patron, elicited the ungentle remonstrance "that is a shameless lie". Eck, undisturbed and with the instinct of the trained debater, drove his antagonist still further, until he finally admitted the fallibility of an ecumenical council, upon which he closed the discussion with the laconic remark: "If you believe a legitimately assembled council can err and has erred, then you are to me as a heathen and publican" (Köstlin-Kawerau, op. cit., I, 243-50). This was 15 July. Luther returned sullen and crestfallen to Wittenberg, from what had proved to him an inglorious tournament.
The disastrous outcome of the disputation drove him to reckless, desperate measures. He did not scruple, at this stage, to league himself with the most radical elements of national humanism and freebooting knighthood, who in their revolutionary propaganda hailed him as a most valuable ally.
His comrades in arms now were Ulrich von Hutten and Franz von Sickingen, with the motley horde of satellites usually found in the train of such leadership. With Melancthon, himself a humanist, as an intermediary, a secret correspondence was opened with Hutten, and to all appearances Sickingen was directly or indirectly in frequent communication. Hutten, though a man of uncommon talent and literary brilliancy, a moral degenerate, without conscience or character. Sickingen, the prince of condottieri, was a solid mercenary and political marplot, whose daring deeds and murderous atrocities form a part of German legendary lore. With his three impregnable fastnesses, Ebernburg, Landstuhl, and Hohenburg, with their adventurous soldiery, fleet-footed cavalry, and primed artillery, "who took to robbery as to a trade and considered it rather an honour to be likened to wolves" (Cambridge Hist., II, 154), a menace to the very empire, he was a most useful adjunct. With Luther they had little in common, for both were impervious to all religious impulses, unless it was their deadly hatred of the pope, and the confiscation of church property and land.
The disaffection among the knights was particularly acute. The flourishing condition of industry made the agrarian interests of the small landowners suffer; the new methods of warfare diminished their political importance; the adoption of the Roman law, while it strengthened the territorial lords, threatened to reduce the lower nobility to a condition of serfdom. A change, even though it involved revolution, was desired, and Luther and his movement were welcomed as the psychological man and cause. Hutten offered his pen, a formidable weapon; Sickingen his fortress, a haven of safety; the former assured him of the enthusiastic support of the national humanists, the latter "bade him stand firm and offered to encircle him with . . . swords" (Bayne, op. cit., II, 59). The attack would be made on the ecclesiastical princes, as opposed to Lutheran doctrines and knightly privileges.
In the meantime Luther was saturating himself with published and unpublished humanistic anti-clerical literature so effectually that his passionate hatred of Rome and the pope, his genesis of Antichrist, his contemptuous scorn for his theological opponents, his effusive professions of patriotism, his acquisition of the literary amenities of the "Epistolae Obscurorum Vivorum", even the bodily absorption of Hutten's arguments, not to allude to other conspicuous earmarks of his intercourse and association with the humanistic-political agitators, can be unerringly traced here.
It was while living in the atmosphere surcharged with these influences, that he issued his first epochal manifesto, "Address to the German Nobility". It is in "its form an imitation of Hutten's circular letter to the emperor and German nobility", and the greater part of its contents is an abstract of Hutten's "Vadiscus or Roman Trinity", from his "Lament and Exhortation", and from his letters to the Elector Frederick of Saxony. This seems to be admitted by competent Lutheran specialists. He steps from the arena of academic gravity and verbal precision to the forum of the public in "an invective of dazzling rhetoric". He addresses the masses; his language is that of the populace; his theological attitude is abandoned; his sweeping eloquence fairly carries the emotional nature of his hearers — while even calm, critical reason stands aghast, dumbfounded; he becomes the hieratic interpreter, the articulate voice of latent slumbering national aspirations. In one impassioned outburst, he cuts from all his Catholic moorings — the merest trace left seeming to intensify his fury. Church and State, religion and politics, ecclesiastical reform and social advancement, are handled with a flaming, peerless oratory. He speaks with reckless audacity; he acts with breathless daring. War and revolution do not make him quail — has he not the pledged support of Ulrich von Hutten, Franz von Sickingen, Sylvester von Schaumburg? Is not the first the revolutionary master spirit of his age — cannot the second make even an emperor bow to his terms? The "gospel", he now sees, "cannot be introduced without tumult, scandal, and rebellion"; "the word of God is a sword, a war, a destruction, a scandal, a ruin, a poison" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 417). As for pope, cardinals, bishops, "and the whole brood of Roman Sodom", why not attack it "with every sort of weapon and wash our hands in its blood" (Walch, XVIII, 245).
Luther the reformer had become Luther the revolutionary; the religious agitation had become a political rebellion. Luther's theological attitude at this time, as far as a formulated cohesion can be deduced, was as follows:
The emperor is appealed to in his three primary pamphlets, to destroy the power of the pope, to confiscate for his own use all ecclesiastical property, to abolish ecclesiastical feasts, fasts, and holidays, to do away with Masses for the dead, etc. In his "Babylonian Captivity", particularly, he tries to arouse national feeling against the papacy, and appeals to the lower appetite of the crowd by laying down a sensualized code of matrimonial ethics, little removed from paganism, which "again come to the front during the French Revolution" (Hagen, "Deutsche literar. u. religiöse Verhaltnisse", II, Erlangen, 1843, 235). His third manifesto, "On the Freedom of a Christian Man", more moderate in tone, though uncompromisingly radical, he sent to the pope.
- The Bible is the only source of faith; it contains the plenary inspiration of God; its reading is invested with a quasi-sacramental character.
- Human nature has been totally corrupted by original sin, and man, accordingly, is deprived of free will. Whatever he does, be it good or bad, is not his own work, but God's.
- Faith alone can work justification, and man is saved by confidently believing that God will pardon him. This faith not only includes a full pardon of sin, but also an unconditional release from its penalties.
- The hierarchy and priesthood are not Divinely instituted or necessary, and ceremonial or exterior worship is not essential or useful. Ecclesiastical vestments, pilgrimages, mortifications, monastic vows, prayers for the dead, intercession of saints, avail the soul nothing.
- All sacraments, with the exception of baptism, Holy Eucharist, and penance, are rejected, but their absence may be supplied by faith.
- The priesthood is universal; every Christian may assume it. A body of specially trained and ordained men to dispense the mysteries of God is needless and a usurpation.
- There is no visible Church or one specially established by God whereby men may work out their salvation.
In April, 1520, Eck appeared in Rome, with the German works, containing most of these doctrines, translated into Latin. They were submitted and discussed with patient care and critical calmness. Some members of the four consistories, held between 21 May and 1 June, counselled gentleness and forbearance, but those demanding summary procedure prevailed. The Bull of excommunication, "Exsurge Domine", was accordingly drawn up 15 July. It formally condemned forty-one propositions drawn from his writings, ordered the destruction of the books containing the errors, and summoned Luther himself to recant within sixty days or receive the full penalty of ecclesiastical punishment.
Three days later (18 July) Eck was appointed papal prothonotary with the commission to publish the Bull in Germany. The appointment of Eck was both unwise and imprudent. Luther's attitude towards him was that of implacable personal hatred; the dislike of him among the humanists was decidedly virulent; his unpopularity among Catholics was also well known. Moreover, his personal feelings, as the relentless antagonist of Luther, could hardly be effaced, so that a cause which demanded the most untrammelled exercise of judicial impartiality and Christian charity would hardly find its best exponent in a man in whom individualtriumph would supersede the pure love of justice. Eck saw this, and accepted the duty only under compulsion. His arrival in Germany was signalized by an outburst of popular protest and academic resentment, which the national humanists and friends of Luther lost no time in fanning to a fierce flame. He was barely allowed to publish the Bull in Meissen (21 Sept.), Merseburg (25 Sept.), and Brandenburg (29 Sept.), and a resistance almost uniform greeted him in all other parts of Germany. He was subjected to personal affronts, mob violence. The Bull itself became the object of shocking indignities. Only after protracted delays could even the bishops be induced to show it any deference. The crowning dishonour awaited it at Wittenberg, where (10 Dec.), in response to a call issued by Melancthon, the university students assembled at the Elster Gate, and amid the jeering chant of "Te Deum laudamus", and "Requiem aeternam", interspersed with ribald drinking songs, Luther in person consigned it to the flames.
The Bull seemingly affected him little. It only drove him to further extremes and gave a new momentum to the revolutionary agitation. As far back as 10 July, when the Bull was only under discussion, he scornfully defied it. "As for me, the die is cast: I despise alike the favour and fury of Rome; I do not wish to be reconciled with her, or ever to hold any communion with her. Let her condemn and burn my books; I, in turn, unless I can find no fire, will condemn and publicly burn the whole pontifical law, that swamp of heresies" (De Wette, op. cit., 466).
The next step, the enforcement of the provisions of the Bull, was the duty of the civil power. This was done, in the face of vehement opposition now manifesting itself, at the Diet of Worms, when the young newly-crowned Charles V was for the first time to meet the assembled German Estates in solemn deliberation. Charles, though not to be ranked with the greatest characters of history, was "an honourable Christian gentleman, striving in spite of physical defect, moral temptations, and political impossibilities, to do his duty in that state of life to which an unkind Providence had called him" (Armstrong, "The Emperor Charles V", II, London, 1902, 383). Great and momentous questions, national and religious, social and economic, were to be submitted for consideration — but that of Luther easily became paramount.
The pope sent two legates to represent him — Marino Carricioli, to whom the political problems were entrusted, and Jerome Aleander, who should grapple with the more pressing religious one. Aleander was a man of brilliant, even phenomenal, intellectualand linguistic endowments, a man of the world almost modern in his progressive ideas, a trained statesman, not altogether free from the zeal and cunning which at times enter the game of diplomacy. Like his staunch supporter, the Elector George of Saxony, he was not only open-minded enough to admit the deplorable corruption of the Church, the grasping cupidity of Roman curial procedure, the cold commercialism and deep-seated immorality that infected many of the clergy, but, like him, he was courageousenough to denounce them with freedom and point to the pope himself. His problem, by the singular turn of events, was to become the gravest that confronted not only the Diet, but Christendom itself. Its solution or failure was to be pregnant with a fate that involved Church and State, and would guide the course of the world's history.
Germany was living on a politico-religious volcano. All walks of life were in a convulsive state of unrest that boded ill for Church and State. Luther by his inflammatory denunciation of pope and clergy let loose a veritable hurricane of fierce, uncontrollable racial and religious hatred, which was to spend itself in the bloodshed of the Peasants' War and the orgies of the sack of Rome; his adroit juxtaposition of the relative powers and wealth of the temporal and spiritual estates fostered jealousy and avarice; the chicanery of the revolutionary propagandists and pamphleteering poetasters lit up the nation with rhetorical fireworks, in which sedition and impiety, artfully garbed in Biblical phraseology and sanctimonious platitudes, posed as "evangelical" liberty and pure patriotism; the restive peasants, victims of oppression and poverty, after futile and sporadic uprisings, lapsed into stifled but sullen and resentful malcontents; the unredressed wrongs of the burghers and labourers in the populous cities clamoured for a change, and the victims were prepared to adopt any method to shake off disabilities daily becoming more irksome; the increasing expense of living, the decreasing economic advancement, goaded the impecunious knights to desperation, their very lives since 1495 being nothing more than a struggle for existence; the territorial lords cast envious eyes on the teeming fields of the monasteries and the princely ostentation of church dignitaries, and did not scruple in the vision of a future German autonomy to treat even the "Spanish" sovereign with dictatorial arrogance or tolerant complacency.
The city of Worms itself was within the grasp of a reign of lawlessness, debauchery, and murder. From the bristling Ebernburg, Sickingen's lair, only six miles fromm the city, Hutten was hurling his truculent philippics, threatening with outrage and death the legate (whom he had failed to waylay), the spiritual princes and church dignitaries, not sparing even the emperor, whose pension as a bribe to silence had hardly been received. Germany was in a reign of terror; consternation seemed to paralyze all minds. A fatal blow was to be struck at the clergy, it was whispered, and then the famished knights would scramble for their property. Over all loomed the formidable apparition of Sickingen. He was in Aleander's opinion "sole king of Germany now; for he has a following, when and as large as he wishes. The emperor is unprotected, the princes are inactive; the prelates quake with fear. Sickingen at the moment is the terror of Germany before whom all quail" (Brieger, "Aleander u. Luther", Gotha, 1884, 125). "If a proper leader could be found, the elements of revolution were already at hand, and only awaited the signal for an outbreak" (Maurenbrecher, op. cit., 246).
Such was the critical national and local ferment, when Luther at the psychological moment was projected into the foreground by the Diet of Worms, where "the devils on the roofs of the houses were rather friendly . . . than otherwise" (Cambridge Hist., II, 147), to appear as the champion against Roman corruption, which in the prevailing frenzy became the expression of national patriotism. "He was the hero of the hour solely because he stood for the national opposition to Rome" (ibid., 14. His first hearing before the Diet (17 April) found him not precisely in the most confident mood. Acknowledging his works, he met the further request that he recall them by a timid reply, "in tones so subdued that they could hardly be heard with distincness in his vicinity", that he be given time for reflection. His assurance did not fail him at the second hearing (18 April) when his expected steadfastness asserted itself, and his refusal was uttered with steady composure and firm voice, in Latin and German, that, unless convinced of his errors by the Scriptures or plain reason, he would not recant. "I neither can nor will recant anything, for it is neither safe nor right to act against one's conscience", adding in German — "God help me, Amen." The emperor took action the next day (19 April) by personally writing to the Estates, that true to the traditions of his Catholic forefathers, he placed his faith in the Christian doctrine and the Roman Church, in the Fathers, in the councils representing Christendom, rather than in the teaching of an individual monk, and ordered Luther's departure. "The word which I pledged him", he concludes, "and the promised safe-conduct he will receive. Be assured, he will return unmolested whence he came" (Forstemann, "Neues Urkundenbuch", I, Hamburg, 1842, 75). All further negotiations undertaken in the meantime to bring about an adjustment having failed, Luther was ordered to return, but forbidden to preach or publish while on the way. The edict, drafted (8 May) was signed 26 May, but was only to be promulgatedafter the expiration of the time allowed in the safe-conduct. It placed Luther under the ban of the empire and ordered the destruction of his writings.
It may not be amiss to state that the historicity of Luther's famed declaration before the assembled Diet, "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me, God. Amen", has been successfully challenged and rendered inadmissible by Protestant researches. Its retention in some of the larger biographies and histories, seldom if ever without laborious qualification, can only be ascribed to the deathless vitality of a sacred fiction or an absence of historical rectitude on the part of the writer.
He left Worms 26 April, for Wittenberg, in the custody of a party consisting mainly, if not altogether, of personal friends. By a secret agreement, of which he was fully cognizant, being apprised of it the night before his departure by the Elector Frederick, though he was unaware of his actual destination, he was ambushed by friendly hands in the night of 4 May, and spirited to the Castle of Wartburg, near Eisenach.
The year's sojourn in the Wartburg marks a new and decisive period in his life and career. Left to the seclusion of his own thoughts and reflections, undisturbed by the excitement of political and polemical agitation, he became the victim of an interior struggle that made him writhe in the throes of racking anxiety, distressing doubts and agonizing reproaches of conscience. With a directness that knew no escape, he was now confronted by the poignant doubts aroused by his headlong course: was he justified in his bold and unprecedented action; were not his innovations diametrically opposed to the history and experience of spiritual and human order as it prevailed from Apostolic times; was he, "he alone", the chosen vessel singled out in preference to all the saints of Christendom to inaugurate these radical changes; was he not responsible for the social and political upheaval, the rupture of Christian unity and charity, and the consequent ruin of immortal souls? To this was added an irrepressible outbreak of sensuality which assailed him with unbridled fury, a fury that was all the more fierce on account of the absence of the approved weapons of spiritual defence, as well as the intensifying stimulus of his imprudent gratification of his appetite for eating and drinking. And, in addition to his horror, his temptations, moral and spiritual, becamme vivid realities; satanic manifestations were frequent and alarming; nor did they consist in mere verbal encounters but in personal collision. His disputation with Satan on the Mass has become historical. His life as Juncker George, his neglect of the old monastic dietetic restrictions, racked his body in paroxysms of pain, "which did not fail to give colour to the tone of his polemical writings" (Hausrath, op. cit., I, 476), nor sweeten the acerbity of his temper, nor soften the coarseness of his speech. However, many writers regard his satanic manifestations as pure delusions.
It was while he was in these sinister moods that his friends usually were in expectant dread that the flood of his exhaustless abuse and unparalleled scurrility would dash itself against the papacy, Church, and monasticism. "I will curse and scold the scoundrels until I go to my grave, and never shall they hear a civil word from me. I will toll them to their graves with thunder and lightning. For I am unable to pray without at the same time cursing. If I am prompted to say: 'hallowed be Thy name', I must add: 'cursed, damned, outraged be the name of the papists'. If I am prompted to say: 'Thy Kingdom come', I must perforce add: 'cursed, damned, destroyed must be the papacy.' Indeed I pray thus orally every day and in my heart without intermission" (Sammtl. W., XXV, 10. Need we be surprised that one of his old admirers, whose name figured with his on the original Bull of excommunication, concludes that Luther "with his shameless, ungovernable tongue, must have lapsed into insanity or been inspired by the Evil Spirit" (Pirkheimer, ap. *Döllinger, "Die Reformation", Ratisbon, I, 1846-4.
While at the Wartburg, he published "On Confession", which cut deeper into the mutilated sacramental system he retained by lopping off penance. This he dedicated to Franz von Sickingen. His replies to Latomus of Louvain and Emser, his old antagonist, and to the theological faculty of the University of Paris, are characterized by his proverbial spleen and discourtesy. Of the writings of his antagonists he invariably "makes an arbitrary caricature and he belabours them in blind rage . . . he hurls at them the most passionate replies" (Lange, "Martin Luther, ein religioses Characterbild", Berlin, 1870, 109) His reply to the papal Bull "In coena Domini", written in colloquial German, appeals to the grossest sense of humour and sacrilegious banter.
His chief distinction while at the Wartburg, and one that will always be inseparably connected with his name, was his translation of the New Testament into German. The invention of printing gave a vigorous impetus to the multiplication of copies of the Bible, so that fourteen editions and reprints of German translations from 1466 to 1522 are known to have existed. But their antiquated language, their uncritical revision, and their puerile glosses, hardly contributed to their circulation. To Luther the vernacular Biblebecame a necessary adjunct, an indispensable necessity. His subversion of the spiritual order, abolition of ecclesiastical science, rejection of the sacraments, suppression of ceremonies, degradation of Christian art, demanded a substitute, and a more available one than the "undefiled Word of God", in association with "evangelical preaching" could hardly be found. In less than three months the first copy of the translated New Testament was ready for the press. Assisted by Melancthon, Spalatin, and others whose services he found of use, with the Greek version of Erasmus as a basis, with notes and comments charged with polemical animus and woodcuts of an offensively vulgar character supplied by Cranach, and sold for a trivial sum, it was issued at Wittenberg in September. Its spread was so rapid that a second edition was called for as early as December. Its linguistic merits were indisputable; its influence on national literature most potent. Like all his writings in German, it was the speech of the people; it struck the popular taste and charmed the national ear. It unfolded the affluence, clarity, and vigour of the German tongue in a manner and with a result that stands almost without a parallel in the history of German literature. That he is the creator of the new High German literary language is hardly in harmony with the facts and researches of modern philological science. While from the standpoint of the philologist it is worthy of the highest commendation, theologically it failed in the essential elements of a faithful translation. By attribution and suppression, mistranslation and wanton garbling, he made it the medium of attacking the old Church, and vindicating his individual doctrines.
A book that helped to depopulate the sanctuary and monastery in Germany, one that Luther himself confessed to be his most unassailable pronouncement, one that Melancthon hailed as a work of rare learning, and which many Reformation specialists pronounce, both as to contents and results, his most important work, had its origin in the Wartburg. It was his "Opinion on Monastic Orders". Dashed off at white heat and expressed with that whirlwind impetuosity that made him so powerful a leader, it made the bold proclamation of a new code of ethics: that concupiscence is invincible, the sensual instincts irrepressible, the gratification of sexual propensities as natural and inexorable as the performance of any of the physiological necessities of our being. It was a trumpet call to priest, monk, and nun to break their vows of chastity and enter matrimony. The "impossibility" of successful resistance to our natural sensual passions was drawn with such dazzling rhetorical fascination that the salvation of the soul, the health of the body, demanded an instant abrogation of the laws of celibacy. Vows were made to Satan, not to God; the devil's law was absolutely renounced by taking a wife or husband.
The consequences of such a moral code were immediate and general. They are evident from the stinging rebuke of his old master, Staupitz, less than a year after its promulgation, that the most vociferous advocates of his old pupil were the frequenters of notorious houses, not synonymous with a high type of decency. To us the whole treatise would have nothing more than an archaic interest were it not that it inspired the most notable contribution to Reformation history written in modern times, Denifle's "Luther and Luthertum" (Mainz, 1904). In it Luther's doctrines, writings, and sayings have been subjected to so searching an analysis, his historical inaccuracies have been proved so flagrant, his conception of monasticism such a caricature, his knowledge of Scholasticism so superficial, his misrepresentation of medieval theology so unblushing, his interpretation of mysticism so erroneous, and this with such a merciless circumstantial mastery of detail, as to cast the shadow of doubt on the whole fabric of Reformation history.
In the middle of the summer of this year (4 August) he sent his reply to the "Defence of the Seven Sacraments" by King Henry VIII. Its only claim to attention is its tone of proverbial coarseness and scurrility. The king is not only an "impudent liar", but is deluged with a torrent of foul abuse, and every unworthy motive is attributed to him. It meant, as events proved, in spite of Luther's tardy and sycophantic apologies, the loss of England to the German Reformation movement. About this time he issued in Latin and German his broadside, "Against the falsely called spiritual state of Pope and Bishops", in which his vocabulary of vituperation attains a height equalled only by himself, and then on but one or two occasions. Seemingly aware of the incendiary character of his language, he tauntingly asks: "But they say, 'there is fear that a rebellion may arise against the spiritual Estate'. Then the reply is 'Is it just that souls are slaughtered eternally, that these mountebanks may disport themselves quietly'? It were better that all bishops should be murdered, and all religious foundations and monasteries razed to the ground, than that one soulshould perish, not to speak of all the souls ruined by these blockheads and manikins" (Sammtl. W., XXVIII, 14.
During his absence at the Wartburg (3 Apr., 1521-6 March, 1522) the storm centre of the reform agitation veered to Wittenberg, where Carlstadt took up the reins of leadership, aided and abetted by Melancthon and the Augustinian Friars. In the narrative of conventional Reformation history, Carlstadt is made the scapegoat for all the wild excesses that swept over Wittenberg at this time; even in more critical history he is painted as a marplot, whose officious meddling almost wrecked the work of the Reformation.
Still, in the hands of cold scientific Protestant investigators, his character and work have of late undergone an astounding rehabilitation, one that calls for a reappraisement of all historical values in which he figures. He appears not only as a man of "extensive learning, fearless trepidity . . . glowing enthusiasm for the truth" (Thudichum, op. cit., I, 17, but as the actual pathbreaker for Luther, whom he anticipated in some of his most salient doctrines and audacious innovations. Thus, for example, this new appraisal establishes the facts: that as early as 13 April, 1517, he published his 152 theses against indulgences; that on 21 June, 1521, he advocated and defended the right of priests to marry, and shocked Luther by including monks; that on 22 July, 1521, he called for the removal of all pictures and statuary in sanctuary and church; that on 13 May, 1521, he made public protest against the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, the elevation of the Host, and denounced the withholding of the Chalice from the laity; that so early as 1 March, 1521, while Luther was still in Wittenberg, he inveighed against prayers for the dead and demanded that Mass be said in the vernacular German. While in this new valuation he still retains the character of a disputatious, puritanicalpolemist, erratic in conduct, surly in manner, irascible in temper, biting in speech, it invests him with a shrinking reluctance to adopt any action however radical without the approval of the congregation or its accredited representatives. In the light of the same researches, it was the mild and gentle Melancthon who prodded on Carlstadt until he found himself the vortex of the impending disorder and riot. "We must begin some time", he expostulates, "or nothing will be done. He who puts his hand to the plough should not look back".
The floodgates once opened, the deluge followed. On 9 October, 1521, thirty-nine out of the forty Augustinian Friars formally declared their refusal to say private Mass any longer; Zwilling, one of the most rabid of them, denounced the Mass as a devilishinstitution; Justus Jonas stigmatized Masses for the dead as sacrilegious pestilences of the soul; Communion under two kinds was publicly administered. Thirteen friars (12 Nov.) doffed their habits, and with tumultuous demonstrations fled from the monastery, with fifteen more in their immediate wake; those remaining loyal were subjected to ill-treatment and insult by an infuriated rabble led by Zwilling; mobs prevented the saying of Mass; on 4 Dec., forty students, amid derisive cheers, entered the Franciscanmonastery and demolished the altars; the windows of the house of the resident canons were smashed, and it was threatened with pillage. It was clear that these excesses, uncontrolled by the civil power, unrestrained by the religious leaders, were symptomatic of social and religious revolution.
Luther, who in the meantime paid a surreptitious visit to Wittenberg (between 4 and 9 Dec.), had no words of disapproval for these proceedings; on the contrary he did not conceal his gratification. "All I see and hear", he writes to Spalatin, 9 Dec., "pleases me immensely" (Enders, op. cit., III, 253). The collapse and disintegration of religious life kept on apace. At a chapter of Augustinian Friars at Wittenberg, 6 Jan., 1522, six resolutions, no doubt inspired by Luther himself, were unanimously adopted, which aimed at the subversion of the whole monastic system; five days later the Augustinians removed all altars but one from their church, and burnt the pictures and holy oils.
On 19 Jan., Carlstadt, now forty-one years of age, married a young girl of fifteen, an act that called forth the hearty endorsement of Luther; on 9 or 10 Feb., Justus Jonas, and about the same time, Johann Lange, prior of the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt, followed his example. On Christmas Day (1521) Carlstadt, "in civilian dress, without any vestment", ascended the pulpit, preached the "evangelical liberty" of taking Communion under two kinds, held up Confession and absolution to derision, and railed against fasting as an unscriptural imposition. He next proceeded to the altar and said Mass in German, omitting all that referred to its sacrificial character, left out the elevation of the Host, and in conclusion extended a general invitation to all to approach and receive the Lord's Supper, by individually taking the Host in their hands and drinking from the chalice.
The advent of the three Zwickau prophets (27 Dec.) with their communistic ideas, direct personal communication with God, extreme subjectivism in Bible interpretation, all of which impressed Melancthon forcibly, only added fuel to the already fiercely burning flame. They came to consult Luther, and with good reason, for "it was he who taught the universal priesthood of all Christians, which authorized every man to preach; it was he who announced the full liberty of all the sacraments, especially baptism, and accordingly they were justified in rejecting infant baptism". That they associated with Carlstadt intimately at this time is doubtful; that he fully subscribed to their teachings improbable, if not impossible (Barge, op. cit., I, 402).
What brought Luther in such hot haste to Wittenberg? The character given Carlstadt as an instigator of rebellion, the leader of the devastating "iconoclastic movement", has been found exaggerated and untrue in spite of its universal adoption (Thudichum, op. cit., I, 193, who brands it "as a shameless lie"); the assertion that Luther was requested to come to Wittenberg by the town council or congregation, is dismissed as "untenable" (Thudichum, op. cit., I, 197). Nor was he summoned by the elector, "although the elector had misgivings about his return, and inferentially did not consider it necessary, so far as the matter of bringing the reformatory zeal of the Wittenbergers into the bounds of moderation was concerned; he did not forbid Luther to return, but expressly permitted it" (Thudichum, op. cit., I, 199; Barge, op. cit., I, 435). Did perhaps information from Wittenberg portend the ascendancy of Carlstadt, or was there cause for alarm in the propaganda of the Zwickau prophets?
At all events on 3 March, Luther on horseback, in the costume of a horseman, with buckled sword, full grown beard, and long hair, issued from the Wartburg. Before his arrival at Wittenberg, he resumed his monastic habit and tonsure, and as a fully groomed monk, he entered the deserted monastery. He lost no time in preaching on eight successive days (9-17 March) sermons mostly in contravention of Carlstadt's innovations, every one of which, as is well known, he subsequently adopted. The Lord's Supper again became the Mass; it is sung in Latin, at the high altar, in rubrical vestments, though all allusions to a sacrifice are expunged; the elevation is retained; the Host is exposed in the monstrance; the adoration of the congregation is invited. Communion under one kind is administered at the high altar — but under two kinds is allowed at a side altar. The sermons characterized by a moderation seldom found in Luther, exercised the thrall of his accustomed eloquence, but proved abortive. Popular sentiment, intimidated and suppressed, favoured Carlstadt. The feud between Luther and Carlstadt was on, and it showed the former "glaringly in his most repellent form" (Barge, I, op. cit., VI), and was only to end when the latter, exiled and impoverished through Luther's machinations, went to eternity accompanied by Luther's customary benediction on his enemies.
Luther had one prominent trait of character, which in the consensus of those who have made him a special study, overshadowed all others. It was an overweening confidence and unbending will, buttressed by an inflexible dogmatism. He recognized no superior, tolerated no rival, brooked no contradiction. This was constantly in evidence, but now comes into obtrusive eminence in his hectiring course pursued to drag Erasmus, whom he had long watched with jealous eye, into the controversial arena. Erasmus, like all devotees of humanistic learning, lovers of peace and friends of religion, was in full and accordant sympathy with Luther when he first sounded the note of reform. But the bristling, ungoverned character of his apodictic assertions, the bitterness and brutality of his speech, his alliance with the conscienceless political radicalism of the nation, created an instinctive repulsion, which, when he saw that the whole movement "from its very beginning was a national rebellion, a mutiny of the German spirit and consciousness against Italian despotism" he, timorous by nature, vacillating in spirit, eschewing all controversy, shrinkingly retired to his studies. Popular with popes, honoured by kings, extravagantly extolled by humanists, respected by Luther's most intimate friends, he was in spite of his pronounced rationalistic proclivities, his withering contempt for monks, and what was a controvertible term, Scholasticism, unquestionably the foremost man of learning in his day. His satiric writings, which according to Kant, did more goodto the world than the combined speculations of all metaphysicians and which in the minds of his contemporaries laid the egg which Luther hatched — gave him a great vogue in all walks of life. Such a man's convictions were naturally supposed to run in the same channel as Luther's — and if his cooperation, in spite of alluring overtures, failed to be secured — his neutrality was at all hazards to be won.
Prompted by Luther's opponents, still more goaded by Luther's militant attitude, if not formal challenge, he not only refused the personal request to refrain from all participation in the movement, and become a mere passive "spectator of the tragedy", but came before the public with his Latin treatise "On Free Will". In it he would investigate the testimony afforded by the Old and New Testament as to man's "free will", and to establish the result, that in spite of the profound thought of philosopher or searching erudition of theologian, the subject is still enshrouded in obscurity, and that its ultimate solution could only be looked for in the fullness of light diffused by the Divine Vision. It was a purely scholastic question involving philosophical and exegetical problems, which were then, as they are now, arguable points in the schools. In no single point does it antagonize Luther in his war with Rome. The work received a wide circulation and general acceptance. Melancthon writes approvingly of it to the author and Spalatin. After the lapse of a year Luther gave his reply in Latin "On the Servitude of the Will". Luther "never in his whole life had a purely scientific object in view, least of all in this writing" (Hausrath, op. cit., II, 75). It consists of "a torrent of the grossest abuse of Erasmus" (Walch, op. cit., XVIII, 2049-2482 — gives it in German translation), and evokes the lament of the hounded humanist, that he, the lover of peace and quiet, must now turn gladiator and do battle with "wild beasts" (Stichart, op. cit., 370). His pen portraiture of Luther and his controversial methods, given in his two rejoinders, are masterly, and even to this day find a general recognition on the part of all unbiased students.
His sententious characterization that where "Lutheranism flourishes the sciences perish", that its adherents then, were men "with but two objects at heart, money and women", and that the "Gospel which relaxes the reins" and allows averyone to do as he pleases, amply proves that something more deep than Luther's contentiousness made him an alien to the movement. Nor did Luther's subsequent efforts to reestablish amicable relations with Erasmus, to which the latter alludes in a letter (11 April, 1526), meet with anything further than a curt refusal.
The times were pregnant with momentous events for the movement. The humanists one after the other dropped out of the fray. Mutianus Rufus, Crotus Rubianus, Beatus Rhenanus, Bonifacius Amerbach, Sebastian Brant, Jacob Wimpheling, who played so prominent a part in the battle of the Obscure Men, now formally returned to the allegiance of the Old Church. Ulrich Zasius, of Freiburg, and Christoph Scheurl, of Nürnberg, the two most illustrious jurists of Germany, early friends and supporters of Luther, with statesmen's prevision detected the political complexion of affairs, could not fail to notice the growing religious anarchy, and, hearing the distant rumblings of the Peasants' War, abandoned his cause. The former found his preaching mixed with deadly poison for the German people, the latter pronounced Wittenberg a sink of error, a hothouse of heresy. Sickingen's last raid on the Archbishop of Trier (27 August, 1522) proved disastrous to his cause and fatal to himself. Deserted by his confederates, overpowered by his assailants, his lair — the fastness Landstuhl — fell into the hands of his enemies, and Sickingen himself horribly wounded died after barely signing its capitulation (30 August, 1523). Hutten, forsaken and solitary, in poverty and neglect, fell a victim to his protracted debauchery (August, 1523) at the early age of thirty-five. The loss sustained by these defections and deaths was incalculable for Luther, especially at one of the most critical periods in German history.
The peasant outbreaks, which in milder forms were previously easily controlled, now assumed a magnitude and acuteness that threatened the national life of Germany. The primary causes that now brought on the predicted and inevitable conflict were the excessive luxury and inordinate love of pleasure in all stations of life, the lust of money on the part of the nobility and wealthymerchants, the unblushing extortions of commercial corporations, the artificial advance in prices and adulteration of the necessities of life, the decay of trade and stagnation of industry resulting from the dissolution of guilds, above all, the long endured oppression and daily increasing destitution of the peasantry, who were the main sufferers in the unbroken wars and feuds that rent and devastated Germany for more than a century. A fire of repressed rebellion and infectious unrest burned throughout the nation. This smouldering fire Luther fanned to a fierce flame by his turbulent and incendiary writings, which were read with avidity by all, and by none more voraciously than the peasant, who looked upon "the son of a peasant" not only as an emancipator from Romanimpositions, but the precursor of social advancement. "His invectives poured oil on the flames of revolt".
True, when too late to lay the storm he issued his "Exhortation to Peace", but it stands in inexplicable and ineffaceable contradiction to his second, unexampled blast "Against the murderous and robbing rabble of Peasants". In this he entirely changes front, "dipped his pen in blood" (Lang, 180), and "calls upon the princes to slaughter the offending peasants like mad dogs, to stab, strangle and slay as best one can, and holds out as a reward the promise of heaven. The few sentences in which allusions to sympathy and mercy for the vanquished are contained, are relegated to the background. What an astounding illusion lay in the fact, that Luther had the hardihood to offer as apology for his terrible manifesto, that God commanded him to speak in such a strain!" (Schreckenbach, "Luther u. der Bauernkrieg", Oldenburg, 1895,44; "Sammtl. W." XXIV, 287-294). His advice was literally followed. The process of repression was frightful. The encounters were more in the character of massacres than battles. The undisciplined peasants with their rude farming implements as weapons, were slaughtered like cattle in the shambles. More than 1000 monasteries and castles were levelled to the ground, hundreds of villages were laid in ashes, the harvests of the nation were destroyed, and 100,000 killed. The fact that one commander alone boasted that "he hanged 40 evangelical preachers and executed11,000 revolutionists and heretics", and that history with hardly a dissenting voice fastens the origin of this war on Luther, fully shows where its source and responsibility lay.
While Germany was drenched in blood, its people paralyzed with horror, the cry of the widow and wail of the orphan throughout the land, Luther then in his forty-second year was spending his honeymoon with Catherine von Bora, then twenty-six (married 13 June, 1525), a Bernardine nun who had abandoned her convent. He was regaling his friends with some coldblooded witticisms about the horrible catastrophe uttering confessions of self-reproach and shame, and giving circumstantial details of his connubial bliss, irreproducible in English. Melancthon's famous Greek letter to his bosom friend Camerarius, 16 June, 1525 on the subject, reflected his personal feelings, which no doubt were shared by most of the bridegroom's sincere friends.
This step, in conjunction with the Peasants' War, marked the point of demarcation in Luther's career and the movement he controlled. "The springtide of the Reformation had lost its bloom. Luther no longer advanced, as in the first seven years of his activity, from success to success . . . The plot of a complete overthrow of Roman supremacy in Germany, by a torrential popular uprising, proved a chimera" (Hausrath, op. cit., II, 62). Until after the outbreak of the social revolution, no prince or ruler had so far given his formal adhesion to the new doctrines. Even the Elector Frederick (d. May 5, 1525), whose irresolution allowed them unhampered sway, did not, as yet separate from the Church. The radically democratic drift of Luther's whole agitation, his contemptuous allusions to the German princes, "generally the biggest fools and worst scoundrels on earth" (Walch, op. cit., X, 460-464), were hardly calculated to curry favour or win allegiance. The reading of such explosive pronouncements as that of 1523 "On the Secular Power" or his disingenuous "Exhortation to Peace" in 1525, especially in the light of the events which had just transpired, impressed them as breathing the spirit of insubordination, if not insurrection. Luther, "although the mightiest voice that ever spoke in the German language, was a vox et praeteria nihil", for it is admitted that he possessed none of the constructive qualifications of statesmanship, and proverbially lacked the prudential attribute of consistency. His championship of the "masses seems to have been limited to those occasions when he saw in them a useful weapon to hold over the heads of his enemies".
The tragic failure of the Peasants' War now makes him undergo an abrupt transition, and this at a moment when they stood in helpless discomfiture and pitiful weakness, the especial objects of counsel and sympathy. He and Melancthon, now proclaim for the first time the hitherto unknown doctrine of the unlimited power of the ruler over the subject; demand unquestioning submission to authority; preach and formally teach the spirit of servility and despotism. The object lesson which was to bring the enforcement of the full rigour of the law to the attention of the princes was the Peasants' War. The masses were to be laden down with burdens to curb their refractoriness; the poor man was to be "forced and driven, as we force and drive pigs or wild cattle" (Sammtl. W., XV, 276). Melancthon found the Germans such "a wild, incorrigible, bloodthirsty people" (Corp. Ref., VII, 432-433), that their liberties should by all means be abridged and more drastic severity measured out. The same autocratic power was not to be confined to mere political concerns, but the "Gospel" was to become the instrument of the princes to extend it into the domain of religious affairs.
Luther by the creation of his "universal priesthood of all Christians", by delegating the authority "to judge all doctrines" to the "Christian assembly or congregation", by empowering it to appoint or dismiss teacher or preacher, sought the overthrow of the old Catholic order. It did not strike him, that to establish a new Church, to ground an ecclesiastical organization on so precarious and volatile a basis, was in its very nature impossible. The seeds of inevitable anarchy lay dormant in such principles. Momentarily this was clear to himself, when at this very time (1525) he does not hesitate to make the confession, that there are "nearly as many sects as there are heads" (De Wette, op. cit., III, 61).
This anarchy in faith was concomitant with the decay of spiritual, charitable, and educational activities. Of this we have a fairly staggering array of evidence from Luther himself. The whole situation was such, that imperative necessity forced the leaders of the reform movement to invoke the aid of the temporal power. Thus "the whole Reformation was a triumph of the temporal power over the spiritual. Luther himself, to escape anarchy, placed all authority in the hands of the princes". This aid was all the more readily given, since there was placed at the disposition of the temporal power the vast possessions of the old Church, and only involved the pledge, to accept the new opinions and introduce them as a state or territorial religion. The free cities could not resist the lure of the same advances. They meant the exemption from all taxes to bishops and ecclesiastical corporations, the alienation of church property, the suspension of episcopal authority, and its transfer to the temporal power. Here we find the foundation of the national enactment of the Diet of Augsburg, 1555, "eternally branded with the curse of history" (Menzel, op. cit., 615) embodied in the axiom Cujus regio, ejus religio, the religion of the country is determined by the religion of its ruler, "a foundation which was but the consequence of Luther's well-known politics" (Idem, loc. cit.). Freedom of religion became the monopoly of the ruling princes, it made Germany "little more than a geographical name, and a vague one withal" (Cambridge Hist. II, 142); naturally "serfdom lingered there longer than in any civilized country save Russia" (ibid., 191), and was "one of the causes of the national weakness and intellectual sterility which marked Germany during the latter part of the sixteenth century" (ibid.), and just as naturally we find "as many new churches as there were principalities or republics" (Menzel, op. cit., 739).
A theological event, the first of any real magnitude, that had a marked influence in shaping the destiny of the reform movement, even more than the Peasants' War, was caused by the brooding discontent aroused by Luther's peremptory condemnation and suppression of every innovation, doctrinal or disciplinary, that was not in the fullest accord with his. This weakness of character was well-known to his admirers then, as it is fully admitted now.
Carlstadt, who by a strange irony, was forbidden to preach or publish in Saxony, from whom a recantation was forced, and who was exiled from his home for his opinions — to the enforcement of all which disabilities Luther personally gave his attention — now contumeliously set them at defiance. What degree of culpability there was between Luther doing the same with even greater recklessness and audacity while under the ban of the Empire — or Carlstadt doing it tentatively while under the ban of a territorial lord, did not seem to have caused any suspicion of incongruity. However, Carlstadt precipitated a contention that shook the whole reform fabric to its very centre. The controversy was the first decisive conflict that changed the separatists' camp into an internecine battleground of hostile combatants.
The casus belli was the doctrine of the Eucharist. Carlstadt in his two treatises (26 Feb. and 16 March, 1525), after assailing the "new Pope", gave an exhaustive statement of his doctrine of the Lord's Supper. The literal interpretation of the institutional words of Christ "this is my body" is rejected, the bodily presence flatly denied. Luther's doctrine of consubstantiation, that the body is in, with, and under the bread, was to him devoid of all Scriptural support. Scripture neither says the bread "is" my body, nor "in" the bread is my body, in fact it says nothing about bread whatever. The demonstrative pronoun "this", does not refer to the bread at all, but to the body of Christ, present at the table. When Jesus said "this is my body", He pointed to Himself, and said "this body shall be offered up, this blood shall be shed, for you". The words "take and eat" refer to the proffered bread — the words "this is my body" to the body of Jesus. He goes further, and maintains that "this is" really means "this signifies". Accordingly grace should be sought in Christ crucified, not in the sacrament. Among all the arguments advanced none proved more embarrassing than the deictic "this is". It was the insistence on the identical interpretation of "this" referring to the present Christ, that Luther used as his most clenching argument in setting aside the primacy of the pope at the Leipzig Disputation. Carlstadt's writings were prohibited, with the result that Saxony, as well as Strasburg, Basle, and now Zurich forbade their sale and circulation. This brought the leader of the Swiss reform movement, Zwingli, into the fray, as the apologist of Carlstadt, the advocate of free speech and unfettered thought, and ipso facto Luther's adversary.
The reform movement now presented the spectacle of Rome's two most formidable opponents, the two most masterful minds and authoritative exponents of contemporary separatistic thought, meeting in open conflict, with the Lord's Supper as the gage of war.
Zwingli shared Carlstadt's doctrines in the main, with some further divergencies, that need no amplification here. But what gave a mystic, semi-inspirational importance to his doctrine of the Lord's Supper, was the account he gave of his difficulties and doubtsconcerning the institutional words finding their restful solution in a dream. Unlike Luther at the Wartburg, he did not rememberwhether this apparition was in black or white [Monitor iste ater an albus fuerit nihil memini (Planck, op. cit., II, 256)]. Whether Luther followed his own custom of never reading through "the books that the enemies of truth have written against me" (Mörikofer, "Ulrich Zwingli", II, Leipzig, 1869, 205), whether there was a tinge of jealousy "that the Swiss were anxious to be the most prominent" in the reform movement, the mere fact that Zwingli was a confederate of Carlstadt and had an unfortunately dubious dream, afforded subject matter enough for Luther to display his accustomed dialectic methods at their best.
A "scientific discussion was not to be conducted with Luther, since he attributed every disagreement with his doctrine to the devil" (Hausrath). This poisoned the controversy at its source, because, "with the devil he would make no truce" (Hausrath, op. cit., II, 188-223). That the eyes of the masses were turning from Wittenberg to Zurich, was only confirmatory evidence of devilishdelusion. Luther's replies to Zwingli's unorthodox private letter to Alber (16 Nov., 1524) and his nettling treatises came in 1527. They showed that "the injustice and barbarity of his polemics" was not reserved for the pope, monks, or religious vows. "In causticity and contempt of his opponent [they] surpassed all he had ever written", "they were the utterances of a sick man, who had lost all self-control". The politics of Satan and the artful machinations of the Prince of Evil are traced in a chronological order from the heretical incursions into the primitive Church to Carlstadt, Œcolampadius, and Zwingli. It was these three satanic agencies that raised the issue of the Lord's Supper to frustrate the work of the "recovered Gospel". The professions of love and peace held out by the Swiss, he curses to the pit of hell, for they are patricides and matricides. "Furious the reply can no longer be called, it is disgraceful in the manner in which it drags the holiest representations of his opponents through the mire". Indiscriminate and opprobrious epithets of pig, dog, fanatic, senseless ass, "go to your pigsty and roll in your filth" ("Sammtl. W.", XXX, 6 are some of the polemical coruscations that illuminate this reply. Yet, in few of his polemical writings do we find more conspicuous glimpses of a soundness of theological knowledge, appositeness of illustration, familiarity with the Fathers, reverence for tradition — remnants of his old training — than in this document, which caused sorrow and consternation throughout the whole reform camp. "The hand which had pulled down the Roman Church in Germany made the first rent in the Church which was to take its place" (Cambridge History, II, 209).
The attempt made by the Landgrave Philip, to bring the contending forces together and effect a compromise at the Marburg Colloquy, 1-3 October, 1529, was doomed to failure before its convocation. Luther's iron will refused to yield to any concession, his parting salutation to Zwingli, "your spirit is not our spirit" (De Wette, op. cit., IV, 2 left no further hope of negotiations, and the brand he affixed on this antagonist and his disciples as "not only liars, but the very incarnation of lying, deceit, and hypocrisy" (Idem, op. cit.) closed the opening chapter of a possible reunion. Zwingli returned to Zurich to meet his death on the battlefield of Kappel (11 October, 1531). The damnation Luther meted out to him in life "accompanied his hated rival also in death" (Menzel, II, 420). The next union of the two reform wings was when they became brothers in arms against Rome in the Thirty Years' War.
While occupied with his manifold pressing duties, all of them performed with indefatigable zeal and consuming energy, alarmed at the excesses attending the upheaval of social and ecclesiastical life, his reform movement generally viewed from its more destructive side, he did not neglect the constructive elements designed to give cohesion and permanency to his task. These again showed his intuitional apprehension of the racial susceptibilities of the people and his opportune political sagacity in enlisting the forces of the princes. His appeal for schools and education was to counteract the intellectual chaos created by the suppression and desertion of the monastic and church schools; his invitation to the congregation to sing in the vernacular German in the liturgicalservices in spite of the record of more than 1400 vernacular hymns before the Reformation proved a masterstroke and gave him a most potent adjunct to his preaching; the Latin Mass, which he retained, more to chagrin Carlstadt than for any other accountable reason, he now abandoned, with many excisions and modifications for the German. Still more important and far-reaching was the plan which Melancthon, under his supervision, drew up to supply a workable regulative machinery for the new Church. To introduce this effectively "the evangelical princes with their territorial powers stepped in" (Köstlin-Kawerau, op. cit., II, 24). The Elector of Saxony especially showed a disposition to act in a summary, drastic manner, which met with Luther's full approval. "Not only were priests, who would not conform, to lose their benefices, but recalcitrant laymen, who after instruction were still obstinate, had a time allowed within which they were to sell their property, and then leave the country" (Beard, op. cit., 177). The civil power was invoked to decide controversies among preachers, and to put down theological discussion with the secular arm. The publication of a popular catechism in simple idiomatic colloquial German, had an influence, in spite of the many Catholic catechetical works already in existence, that can hardly be over-estimated.
The menacing religious war, between the adherents of the "Gospel" and the fictitious Catholic League (15 May, Breslau), ostensibly formed to exterminate the Protestants, which with a suspicious precipitancy on the part of its leader, Landgrave Philip, had actually gone to a formal declaration of war (15 May, 152, was fortunately averted. It proved to be based on a rather clumsily forgeddocument of Otto von Pack, a member of Duke George's chancery. Luther, who first shrank from war and counselled peace, by one of those characteristic reactions "now that peace had been established, began a war in real earnest about the League" (Planck, op. cit., II, 434) in whose existence, in spite of unquestionable exposure, he still firmly believed.
The Diet of Speyer (21 February-22 April, 1529), presided over by King Ferdinand, as the emperor's deputy, like that held in the same city three years earlier, arrived at a real compromise. The two "Propositions" or "Instructions" submitted, were expected to accomplish this. The decree allowed the Lutheran Estates the practice and reform of the new religion within their territorial boundaries, but claimed the same rights for those who should continue to adhere to the Catholic Church. Melancthon expressed his satisfaction with this and declared that they would work no hardship for them, but even "protect us more than the decrees of the earlier Diet" (Speyer, 1526; Corp. Ref., I, 1059). But an acceptance, much less an effective submission to the decrees, was not to be entertained at this juncture, and five princes most affected, on 19 April, handed in a protestation which Melancthon in alarm called "a terrible affair". This protest has become historic, since it gave the specific nomenclature Protestant to the whole opposition movement to the Catholic Church. "The Diet of Speyer inaugurates the actual division of the German nation" (*Janssen, op. cit., III, 51).
In spite of the successful Hungarian invasion of the Turks, political affairs, by the reconciliation of pope and emperor (Barcelona, 29 June, 1529), the peace with Francis I (Cambrai, 5 August, 1529), shaped themselves so happily, that Charles V was crownedemperor by his whilom enemy, Clement VII (Bologna, 24 Feb., 1530). However, in Germany, affairs were still irritant and menacing. To the hostility of Catholics and Protestants was now added the acrimonious quarrel between the latter and the Zwinglians; the late Diet of Speyer was inoperative, practically a dead letter, the Protestant princes privily and publicly showed a spirit that was not far removed from open rebellion. Charles again sought to bring about religious peace and harmony by taking the tangled skein into his own hands. He accordingly summoned the Diet of Augsburg, which assembled in 1530 (8 April-19 November), presided over it in person, arranged to have the disaffected religious parties meet, calmly discuss and submit their differences, and by a compromise or arbitration, reestablish peace. Luther being under the ban of the Empire, for "certain reasons" (De Wette, op. cit., III, 36 did not make his appearance, but was harboured in the fortress of Coburg, about four days journey distant. Here he was in constant touch and confidential relations with Melancthon and other Protestant leaders. It was Melancthon who, under the dominant influence of Luther and availing himself of the previously accepted Articles of Marburg (5 Oct., 1529), Schwabach (16 Oct., 1529), Torgau (20 March, 1530), and the Large Catechism, drew up the first authoritative profession of the Lutheran Church. This religious charter was the Augsburg Confession (Confessio Augustana), the symbolical book of Lutheranism.
In its original form it met with Luther's full endorsement. It consists of an introduction, or preamble, and is in two parts. The first, consisting of twenty-one Articles, gives an exposition of the principal doctrines of the Protestant creed, and aims at an amicable adjustment; the second, consisting of seven Articles, deals with "abuses", and concerning these there is a "difference". The Confession as a whole is irenic and is more of an invitation to union than a provocation to disunion. Its tone is dignified, moderate, and pacific. But it allows its insinuating concessions to carry it so far into the boundaries of the vague and indefinite as to leave a lurking suspicion of artifice. Doctrinal differences, fundamental and irreconcilable, are pared down or slurred over to an almost irreducible degree. No one was better qualified by temper or training to clothe the blunt, apodictic phraseology of Luther in the engaging vesture of truth than Melancthon. The Articles on original sin, justification by faith alone, and free will — though perplexingly similar in sound and terminology, lack the ring of the true Catholic metal. Again, many of the conceded points, some of them a surprising and startling character, even abstracting from their suspected ambiguity, were in such diametric conflict with the past teaching and preaching of the petitioners, even in contradiction to their written and oral communications passing at the very moment of deliberation, as to cast suspicion on the whole work.
That these suspicions were not unfounded was amply proved by the aftermath of the Diet. The correction of the so-called abuses dealt with in Part II under the headings: Communion under both kinds, the marriage of priests, the Mass, compulsory confession, distinction of meats and tradition, monastic vows, and the authority of bishops, for obvious reasons, was not entertained, much less agreed to. Melancthon's advances for still further concessions were promptly and peremptorily rejected by Luther. The "Confession" was read at a public session of the Diet (25 June) in German and Latin, was handed to the emperor, who in turn submitted it to twenty Catholic theologians, including Luther's old antagonists Eck, Cochlaeus, Usingen, and Wimpina, for examination and refutation. The first reply, on account of its prolixity, and bitter and irritating tone, was quickly rejected, nor did the emperor allow the "Confutation of the Augsburg Confession" to be read before the Diet (3 August) until it had been pruned and softened down by no less than five revisions. Melancthon's "Apology for the Augsburg Confession", which was in the nature of a reply to the "Confutation", and which passes as of equal official authority as the "Confession" itself, was not accepted by the emperor. All further attempts at a favourable outcome proving unavailing, the imperial edict condemning the Protestant contention was published (22 Sept.). It allowed the leaders until 15 April, 1532, for reconsideration.
The recess was read (13 Oct.) to the Catholic Estates, who at the same timme formed the Catholic League. To the Protestants it was read 11 Nov., who rejected it and formed the Smalkaldic League (29 March, 1531), an offensive and defensive alliance of all Lutherans. The Zwinglians were not admitted. Luther, who returned to Wittenberg in a state of great irritation at the outcome of the Diet, was now invoked to prepare the public mind for the position assumed by the princes, which at first blush looked suspiciously like downright rebellion. He did this in one of his paroxysmal rages, one of those ruthless outpourings when calm deliberation, religious charity, political prudence, social amenities are openly and flagrantly set at defiance. The three popular publications were: "Warning to his dear German People" (Walch, op. cit., XVI, 1950-2016), "Glosses on the putative Imperial Edict" (Idem, op. cit., 2017-2062), and, far outstripping these, "Letter against the Assassin at Dresden" (Idem, op. cit., 2062-2086), which his chief biographer characterizes as "one of the most savage and violent of his writings" (Kostlin-Kawerau, op. cit., II, 252). All of them, particularly the last, indisputably established his controversial methods as being "literally and wholly without decorum, conscience, taste or fear" (Mozley, "Historical Essays", London, 1892, I, 375-37. His mad onslaught on Duke George of Saxony, "the Assassin of Dresden", whom history proclaims "the most honest and consistent character of his age" (Armstrong, op. cit., I, 325), "one of the most estimable Princes of his age" (Cambridge Hist., II, 237), was a source of mortification to his friends, a shock to the sensibilities of every honest man, and has since kept his apologists busy at vain attempts at vindication.
The projected alliance with Francis I, Charles' deadly enemy, met with favour. Its patriotic aspects need not be dwelt upon. Henry VIII of England, who was now deeply concerned with the proceedings of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, was approached less successfully. The opinion about the divorce, asked from the universities, also reached that of Wittenberg, where Robert Barnes, an English Augustinian friar who had deserted his monastery, brought every influence to bear to make it favourable. The opinion was enthusiastically endorsed by Melancthon, Osiander, and Œcolampadius. Luther also in an exhaustive brief maintained that "before he would permit a divorce, he would rather that the king took unto himself another queen" (De Wette, op. cit., 296). However, the memorable theological passage at arms the king had had with Luther, the latter's cringing apology, left such a feeling of aversion, if not contempt, in the soul of his rival reformer, that the invitation was to all intents ignored.
In the beginning of 1534, Luther after twelve years of intermittent labour, completed and published in six parts his Germantranslation of the entire Bible.
For years the matter of a general council had been agitated in ecclesiastical circles. Charles V constantly appealed for it, the Augsburg Confession emphatically demanded it, and now the accession of Paul III (13 Oct., 1534), who succeeded Clement VII (d. 25 Sept., 1534), gave the movement an impetus, that for once made it loom up as a realizable accomplishment. The popesanctioned it, on condition that the Protestants would abide by its decisions and submit their credenda in concise, intelligible form. With a view of ascertaining the tone of feeling at the German Courts, he sent Vergerius there as a legate. He, in order to make the study of the situation as thorough as possible, did not hesitate, while passing through Wittenberg on his way to the Elector of Brandenburg, to meet Luther in person (7 Nov., 1535). His description of the jauntily groomed reformer "in holiday attire, in a vest of dark calmet, sleeves with gaudy atlas cuffs . . . coat of serge lined with fox pelts . . . several rings on his fingers, a massive gold chain about his neck" shows him in a somewhat unusual light. The presence of the man who would reform the ancient Churchdecked out in so foppish a manner, made an impression on the mind of the legate, that can readily be conjectured. Aware of Luther's disputatious character, he dexterously escaped discussion, by disclaiming all profound knowledge of theology, and diverted the interview into the commonplace. Luther treated the interview as a comedy, a view no doubt more fully shared by the keen-witted Italian.
The question was raised as to what participation the Protestants should assume in the council, which had been announced to meet at Mantua. After considerable discussion Luther was commissioned to draw up a document, giving a summary of their doctrines and opinions. This he did after which the report was submitted to the favourable consideration of the elector and a specially appointed body of theologians. It contained the Articles of Smalkald "a real oppositional record against the Roman Church" (Guericke), eventually incorporated in the "Concordienformel" and accepted as a symbolical book. It is on the whole such a brusque rejection and coarse philippic against the pope as "Antichrist", that we need not marvel that Melancthon shrank from affixing his unqualified signature to it.
Luther's serious illness during the Smalkaldic Convention, threatened a fatal termination to his activities, but the prospect of death in no way seemed to mellow his feelings towards the papacy. It was when supposedly on the brink of eternity (24 Feb., 1537) that he expressed the desire to one of the elector's chamberlains to have his epitaph written: "Pestis eram vivus, moriens ero mors tua, Papa" [living I was a pest to thee, O Pope, dying I will be thy death (Kostlin-Kawerau, op. cit., II, 389)]. True, the historicity of this epitaph is not in chronological agreement with the narrative of Mathesius, who maintains he heard it in the house of Spalatin, 9 Jan., 1531, or with the identical words found in his "Address to the Clergy assembled at the Augsburg Diet", in which he hurled back the gibes flung at the priests who had enrolled under his banner and married. Nevertheless it is in full consonance with the parting benediction the invalid gave from his wagon, to his assembled friends on his homeward journey: "May the Lord fill you with His blessings and with hatred of the pope", and the verbatim sentiments chalked on the wall of his chamber, the night before his death.
Needless to add, the Protestant Estates refused the invitation to the council, and herein we have the first public and positive renunciation of the papacy.
"What Luther claimed for himself against Catholic authority, he refused to Carlstadt and refused to Zwingli. He failed to see that their position was exactly as his own, with a difference of result, which indeed was all the difference in the world to him" (Tulloch, "Leaders of the Reformation", Edinburgh and London, 1883, 171). This was never more manifest than in the interminable Sacramentarian warfare. Bucer, on whom the weight of leadership fell, after Zwingli's death, which was followed shortly by that of Œcolampadius (24 Nov., 1531), was unremitting in bringing about a reunion, or at least an understanding on the Lord's Supper, the main point of cleavage between the Swiss and German Protestants. Not only religiously, but politically, would this mean a step towards the progress of Zwinglianism. At its formation the Swiss Protestants were not admitted to the Smalkaldic League (29 March, 1531); its term of six years was about to expire (29 March, 1537) and they now renewed their overtures.
Luther, who all the time could not conceal his opposition to the Zwinglians, even going to the extent of directing and begging Duke Albrecht of Prussia, not to tolerate any of Munzer's or Zwingli's adherents in his territory, finally yielded to the assembling of a peace conference. Knowing their predicament, he used the covert threat of an exclusion from the league as a persuasive to drive them to the acceptance of his views. This conference which, owing to his sickness, was held in his own house at Wittenberg, was attended by eleven theologians of Zwinglian proclivities and seven Lutherans. It resulted in the theological compromise, reunion it can hardly be called, known as the Concord of Wittenberg (21-29 Mat, 1536). The remonstrants, technically waiving the points of difference, subscribed to the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper, infant baptism, and absolution. That the Zwinglian theologians"who subscribed to the Concord and declared its contents true and scriptural, dropped their former convictions and were transformed into devout Lutherans, no one who was acquainted with these men more intimately can believe" (Thudichum, op. cit., II, 489). They simply yielded to the unbending determination of Luther, and "subscribed to escape the hostility of the Elector John Frederick who was absolutely Luther's creature, and not to forfeit the protection of the Smalkaldic League; they submitted to the inevitable to escape still greater dangers" (Idem, op. cit.). As for Luther, the "poor, wretched Concord" as he designates it, received little recognition from him. In 1539, he coupled the names of Nestorius and Zwingli in a way that gave deep offence at Zurich. At Wittenberg, Zwingli and Œcolampadius became convertible terms for heretics, and with Luther's taunting remark that "he would pray and teach against them until the end of his days" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 587), the rupture was again completed.
The internal controversies of the Lutheran Church, which were to shatter its disjointed unity with the force of an explosive eruption after his death, and which now only his dauntless courage, powerful will, and imperious personality held within the limits of murmuring restraint, were cropping out on all sides, found their way into Wittenberg, and affected even his bosom friends. Though unity was out of the question, an appearance of uniformity had at all hazards to be maintained. Cordatus, Schenck, Agricola, all veterans in the cause of reform, lapsed into doctrinal aberrations that caused him much uneasiness. The fact that Melancthon, his most devoted and loyal friend, was under a cloud of suspicion for entertaining heterodox views, though not as yet fully shared by him, caused him no little irritation and sorrow. But all these domestic broils were trivial and lost sight of, when compared to one of the most critical problems that thus far confronted the new Church, which was suddenly sprung upon its leaders, focusing more especially on its hierophant. This was the double marriage of Landgrave Philip of Hesse.
Philip the Magnanimous (b. 23 Nov., 1504) was married before his twentieth year to Christina, daughter of Duke George of Saxony, who was then in her eighteenth year. He had the reputation of being "the most immoral of princelings", who ruined himself, in the language of his court theologians, by "unrestrained and promiscuous debauchery". He himself admits that he could not remain faithful to his wife for three consecutive weeks. The malignant attack of venereal disease, which compelled a temporary cessation of his profligacy, also directed his thoughts to a more ordinate gratification of his passions. His affections were already directed to Margaret von der Saal, a seventeen-year-old lady-in-waiting, and he concluded to avail himself of Luther's advice to enter a double marriage. Christina was "a woman of excellent qualities and noble mind, to whom, in excuse of his infidelities, he [Philip] ascribed all sorts of bodily infirmities and offensive habits" (Schmidt, "Melancthon", 367). She had borne him seven children.
The mother of Margaret would only entertain the proposition of her daughter becoming Philip's "second wife" on condition that she, her brother, Philip's wife, Luther, Melancthon, and Bucer, or at least, two prominent theologians be present at the marriage. Bucerwas entrusted with the mission of securing the consent of Luther, Melancthon and the Saxon princes. In this he was eminently successful. All was to be done under the veil of the profoundest secrecy. This secrecy Bucer enjoined on the landgrave again and again, even when on his journey to Wittenberg (3 Dec., 1539) that "all might redound to the glory of God" (Lenz, op. cit., I, 119). Luther's position on the question was fully known to him. The latter's opportunism in turn grasped the situation at a glance. It was a question of expediency and necessity more than propriety and legality. If the simultaneous polygamy were permitted, it would prove an unprecendented act in the history of Christendom; it would, moreover, affix on Philip the brand of a most heinous crime, punishable under recent legislation with death by beheading. If refused, it threatened the defection of the landgrave, and would prove a calamity beyond reckoning to the Protestant cause.
Evidently in an embarrassing quandary, Luther and Melancthon filed their joint opinion (10 Dec., 1539). After expressing gratification at the landgrave's last recovery, "for the poor, miserable Church of Christ is small and forlorn, and stands in need of truly devout lords and rulers", it goes on to say that a general law that a "man may have more than one wife" could not be handed down, but that a dispensation could be granted. All knowledge of the dispensation and the marriage should be buried from the public in deadly silence. "All gossip on the subject is to be ignored, as long as we are right in conscience, and this we hold is right", for "what is permitted in the Mosaic law, is not forbidden in the Gospel" (De Wette-Seidemann, VI, 239-244; "Corp. Ref.", III, 856-863). The nullity and impossibility of the second marriage while the legality of the first remained untouched was not mentioned or hinted at.
His wife, assured by her spiritual director "that it was not contrary to the law of God", gave her consent, though on her deathbed she confessed to her son that her consent was feloniously wrung from her. In return Philip pledged his princely word that she would be "the first and supreme wife" and that his matrimonial obligations "would be rendered her with more devotion than before". The children of Christina "should be considered the sole princes of Hesse" (Rommel, op. cit.).
After the arrangement had already been completed, a daughter was born to Christina, 13 Feb., 1540. The marriage took place (4 March, 1540) in the presence of Bucer, Melancthon, and the court preacher Melander who performed the ceremony. Melander was "a bluff agitator, surly, with a most unsavoury moral reputation", one of his moral derelictions being the fact that he had three living wives, having deserted two without going through the formality of a legal separation. Philip lived with both wives, both of whom bore him children, the landgravine, two sons and a daughter, and Margaret six sons.
How can this "darkest stain" on the history of the German Reformation be accounted for? Was it "politics, biblicism, distorted vision, precipitancy, fear of the near approaching Diet that played such a role in the sinful downfall of Luther?" Or was it the logicalsequence of premises he had maintained for years in speech and print, not to touch upon the ethics of that extraordinary sermonon marriage? He himself writes defiantly that he "is not ashamed of his opinion" (Lauterbach, op. cit., 19.
The marriage in spite of all precautions, injunctions, and pledges of secrecy leaked out, caused a national sensation and scandal, and set in motion an extensive correspondence between all intimately concerned, to neutralize the effect on the public mind. Melancthon "nearly died of shame, but Luther wished to brazen the matter out with a lie" (Cambridge Hist., II, 241). The secret "yea" must for the sake of the Christian Church remain a public "nay" (De Witte-Seidemann, op. cit., VI, 263). "What harm would there be, if a man to accomplish better things and for the sake of the Christian Church, does tell a good thumping lie" (Lenz, "Briefwechsel", I, 382; Kolde, "Analecta", 356), was his extenuating plea before the Hessian counsellors assembled at Eisenach (1540), a sentiment which students familiar with his words and actions will remember is in full agreement with much of his policy and many of his assertions. "We are convinced that the papacy is the seat of the real and actual Antichrist, and believe that against its deceit and iniquity everything is permitted for the salvation of souls" (De Wette, op. cit., I, 47.
Charles V involved in a triple war, with a depleted exchequer, with a record of discouraging endeavours to establish religious peace in Germany, found what he thought was a gleam of hope in the concession half-heartedly made by the Smalkaldic assembly of Protestant theologians (1540), in which they would allow episcopal jurisdiction provided the bishops would tolerate the new religion. Indulging this fond, but delusive expectation, he convened a religious colloquy to meet at Speyer (6 June, 1540). The tone of the Protestant reply to the invitation left little prospect of an agreement. The deadly epidemic raging at Speyer compelled its transference to Hagenau, whence after two months of desultory and ineffectual debate (1 June-28 July), it adjourned to Worms (28 Oct.). Luther from the beginning had no confidence in it, it "would be a loss of time, a waste of money, and a neglect of all home duties" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 30. It proved an endless and barren word-tilting of theologians, as may be inferred from the fact that after three months constant parleying, an agreement was reached on but one point, and that barnacled with so many conditions, as to make it absolutely valueless. The emperor's relegation of the colloquy to the Diet of Ratisbon (5 April-22 May), which he, as well as the papal legate Contarini, attended in person, met with the same unhappy result. Melancthon, reputed to favour reunion, was placed by the elector, John Frederick, under a strict police surveillance, during which he was neither allowed private interviews, private visits, or even private walks. The elector, as well as King Francis I, fearing the political ascendancy of the emperor, placed every barrier in the way of compromise, and when the rejected articles were submitted by a special embassy to Luther, the former not only warned him by letter against their acceptance, but rushed in hot haste to Wittenberg, to throw the full weight of his personal unfluence into the frustration of all plans of peace.
Luther's life and career were drawing to a close. His marriage to Catherine von Bora was on the whole, as far as we can infer from his own confession and public appearances, a happy one. The Augustinian monastery, which was given to him after his marriage by the elector, became his homestead. Here six children were born to them:
Catherine proved to be a plain, frugal, domestic housewife; her interest in her fowls, piggery, fish-pond, vegetable garden, home-brewery, were deeper and more absorbing than in the most gigantic undertakings of her husband. Occasional bickerings with her neighbours and the enlistment of her husband's intervention in personal interests and biases, were frequent enough to engage the tongue of public censure. She died at Torgau (20 Dec., 1552) in comparative obscurity, poverty, and neglect, having found Wittenberg cold and unsympathetic to the reformer's family. This he had predicted, "after my death the four elements in Wittenberg will not tolerate you after all".
- John (7 June, 1526),
- Elizabeth (10 Dec., 1527),
- Magdalen (4 May, 1529),
- Martin (9 Nov., 1531),
- Paul (28 Jan., 1533), and
- Margaret (17 December, 1534).
Luther's rugged health began to show marks of depleting vitality and unchecked inroads of disease. Prolonged attacks of dyspepsia, nervous headaches, chronic granular kidney disease, gout, sciatic rheumatism, middle ear abscesses, above all vertigo and gall stone colic were intermittent or chronic ailments that gradually made him the typical embodiment of a supersensitively nervous, prematurely old man. These physical impairments were further aggravated by his notorious disregard of all ordinary dietetic or hygienic restrictions. Even prescinding from his congenital heritage of inflammable irascibility and uncontrollable rage, besetting infirmities that grew deeper and more acute with age, his physical condition in itself would measurably account for his increasing irritation, passionate outbreaks, and hounding suspicions, which in his closing days became a problem more of pathological or psychopathic interest, than biographic or historical importance.
It was this "terrible temper" which brought on the tragedy of alienation, that drove from him his most devoted friends and zealous co-labourers. Every contradiction set him ablaze. "Hardly one of us", in the lament of one of his votaries, "can escape Luther's anger and his public scourging" (Corp. Ref., V, 314). Carlstadt parted with him in 1522, after what threatened to be a personal encounter; Melancthon in plaintive tones speaks of his passionate violence, self-will, and tyranny, and does not mince words in confessing the humiliation of his ignoble servitude; Bucer, prompted by political and diplomatic motives, prudently accepts the inevitable "just as the Lord bestowed him on us"; Zwingli "has become a pagan, Œcolampadius . . . and the other heretics have in-devilled, through-devilled, over-devilled corrupt hearts and lying mouths, and no one should pray for them", all of them "were brought to their death by the fiery darts and spears of the devil" (Walch, op. cit., XX, 223); Calvin and the Reformed are also the possessors of "in-deviled, over-devilled, and through-devilled hearts"; Schurf, the eminent jurist, was changed from an ally to an opponent, with a brutality that defies all explanation or apology; Agricola fell a prey to a repugnance that time did not soften; Schwenkfeld, Armsdorf, Cordatus, all incurred his ill will, forfeited his friendship, and became the butt of his stinging speech.
"The Luther, who from a distance was still honoured as the hero and leader of the new church, was only tolerated at its centre in consideration of his past services" (Ranke, op. cit., II, 421). The zealous band of men, who once clustered about their standard-bearer, dwindled to an insignificant few, insignificant in number, intellectuality, and personal prestige. A sense of isolation palled the days of his decline. It not alone affected his disposition, but played the most astonishing pranks with his memory. The oftener he details to his table companions, the faithful chroniclers who gave us his "Tischreden", the horrors of the papacy, the more starless does the night of his monastic life appear. "The picture of his youth grows darker and darker. He finally becomes a myth to himself. Not only do dates shift themselves, but also facts. When the old man drops into telling tales, the past attains the plasticity of wax. He ascribes the same words promiscuously now to this, now to that friend or enemy" (Hausrath, op. cit., II, 432).
It was this period that gave birth to the incredibilities, exaggerations, distortions, contradictions, inconsistencies, that make his later writing an inextricable web to untangle and for three hundred years have supplied uncritical historiography with the cock-and-bull fables which unfortunately have been accepted on their face value. Again the dire results of the Reformation caused him "unspeakable solicitude and grief". The sober contemplation of the incurable inner wounds of the new Church, the ceaseless quarrels of the preachers, the galling despotism of the temporal rulers, the growing contempt for the clergy, the servility to the princes, made him fairly writhe in anguish. Above all the disintegration of moral and social life, the epidemic ravages of vice and immorality, and that in the very cradle of the Reformation, even in his very household, nearly drove him frantic. "We live in Sodomand Babylon, affairs are growing daily worse", is his lament (De Wette, op. cit., V, 722). In the whole Wittenberg district, with its two cities and fifteen parochial villages, he can find "only one peasant and not more, who exhorts his domestics to the Word of Godand the catechism, the rest plunge headlong to the devil" (Lauterbach, "Tagebuch", 113, 114, 135; *Döllinger, "Die Reformation", I, 293-43.
Twice he was on the verge of deserting this "Sodom", having commissioned his wife (28 July, 1545) to sell all their effects. It required the combined efforts of the university, Bugenhagen, Melancthon, and the burgomaster, to make him change his mind. And again in December, only the powerful intervention of the elector prevented him carrying out his design. Then again came those torturing assaults of the Devil, which left "no rest for even a single day". His nightly encounters "exhausted and martyred him to an intensity, that he was barely able to gasp or take breath". Of all the assaults "none were more severe or greater than about my preaching, the thought coming to me: All this confusion caused by you" (Sammtl. W., LIX, 296; LX. 45-46; 108-109, 111; LXII, 494). His last sermon in Wittenberg (17 Jan., 1546) is in a vein of despondency and despair. "Usury, drunkenness, adultery, murder, assassination, all these can be noticed, and the world understands them to be sins, but the devil's bride, reason, that pert prostitute struts in, and will be clever and means what she says, that it is the Holy Ghost" (op. cit., XVI, 142-4. The same day he pens the pathetic lines "I am old, decrepit, indolent, weary, cold, and now have the sight of but one eye" (De Wette, op. cit., V, 77. Nevertheless peace was not his.
It was while in this agony of body and torture of mind, that his unsurpassable and irreproducible coarseness attained its culminating point of virtuosity in his anti-Semitic and antipapal pamphlets. "Against the Jews and their Lies" was followed in quick succession by his even more frenzied fusillade "On the Schem Hamphoras" (1542) and "Against the Papacy established by the Devil" (1545). Here, especially in the latter, all coherent thought and utterance is buried in a torrential deluge of vituperation "for which no pen, much less a printing press have ever been found" (Menzel, op. cit., II, 352). His mastery in his chosen method of controversy remained unchallenged. His friends had "a feeling of sorrow. His scolding remained unanswered, but also unnoticed" (Ranke, op. cit., II, 121). Accompanying this last volcanic eruption, as a sort of illustrated commentary "that the common man, who is unable to read, may see and understand what he thought of the papacy" (Forstemann), were issued the nine celebrated caricatures of the pope by Lucas Cranach, with expository verses by Luther. These, "the coarsest drawings that the history of caricature of all times has ever produced" (Lange, "Der Papstesel", Gottingen, 1891,89), were so inexpressibly vile that a common impulse of decency demanded their summary suppression by his friends.
His last act was, as he predicted and prayed for, an attack on the papacy. Summoned to Eisleben, his native place, a short timeafter, to act as an arbiter in a contention between the brothers Albrecht and Gebhard von Mansfeld, death came with unexpected speed but not suddenly, and he departed this life about three o'clock in the morning, 18 February, 1546, in the presence of a number of friends. The body was taken to Wittenberg for interment, and was buried on the 22 Feb., in the castle church, where it now lies with that of Melancthon.
The usual term for the religious movement which made its appearance in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, and which, while ostensibly aiming at an internal renewal of the Church, really led to a great revolt against it, and an abandonment of the principal Christian beliefs. We shall review the general characteristics of this movement from the following standpoints:
Causes of the Reformation
- Causes of the Reformation
- Original ideas and purposes of the Reformers
- Methods of spreading the Reformation
- Spread of the Reformation in the various countries
- Different forms of the Reformation
- Results and consequences of the Reformation.
The causes of the great religious revolt of the sixteenth century must be sought as far back as the fourteenth. The doctrine of the Church, it is true, had remained pure; saintly lives were yet frequent in all parts of Europe, and the numerous beneficient medievalinstitutions of the Church continued their course uninterruptedly. Whatever unhappy conditions existed were largely due to civil and profane influences or to the exercise of authority by ecclesiastics in civil spheres; they did not obtain everywhere with equal intensity, nor did they always occur simultaneous in the same country. Ecclesiastical and religious life exhibited in many places vigour and variety; works of education and charity abounded; religious art in all its forms had a living force; domestic missionaries were many and influential; pious and edifying literature was common and appreciated. Gradually, however, and largely owing to the variously hostile spirit of the civil powers, fostered and heightened by several elements of the new order, there grew up in many parts of Europe political and social conditions which hampered the free reformatory activities of the Church, and favoured the bold and unscrupulous, who seized a unique opportunity to let loose all the forces of heresy and schism so long held in check by the harmonious action of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities.
Since the barbarian invasions the Church had effected a complete transformation and revival of the races of Western Europe, and a glorious development of religious and intellectual life. The papacy had become the powerful centre of the family of Christian nations, and as such had for centuries, in union with the episcopate and the clergy, displayed a most beneficent activity. With the ecclesiastical organization fully developed, it came to pass that the activities of the governing ecclesiastical bodies were no longer confined to the ecclesiastical domain, but affected almost every sphere of popular life. Gradually a regrettable worldliness manifested itself in many high ecclesiastics. Their chief object — to guide man to his eternal goal — claimed too seldom their attention, and worldly activities became in too many cases the chief interest. Political power, material possessions, privileged position in public life, the defence of ancient historical rights, earthly interests of various kinds were only too often the chief aim of many of the higher clergy. Pastoral solicitude, the specifically religious and ecclesiastical aim, fell largely into the background, notwithstanding various spirited and successful attempts to rectify the existing evils.
Closely connected with the above were various abuses in the lives of the clergy and the people. In the Papal Curia political interests and a worldly life were often prominent. Many bishops and abbots (especially in countries where they were also territorial princes) bore themselves as secular rulers rather than as servants of the Church. Many members of cathedral chapters and other beneficedecclesiastics were chiefly concerned with their income and how to increase it, especially by uniting several prebends (even episcopal sees) in the hands of one person, who thus enjoyed a larger income and greater power. Luxury prevailed widely among the higher clergy, while the lower clergy were often oppressed. The scientific and ascetic training of the clergy left much to be desired, the moral standard of many being very low, and the practice of celibacy not everywhere observed. Not less serious was the condition of many monasteries of men, and even of women (which were often homes for the unmarried daughters of the nobility). The former prestige of the clergy had thus suffered greatly, and its members were in many places regarded with scorn. As to the Christian people itself, in numerous districts ignorance, superstition, religious indifference, and immorality were rife. Nevertheless, vigorous efforts to revive life were made in most lands, and side by side with this moral decay appear numerous examples of sincere and upright Christian life. Such efforts, however, were too often confined to limited circles. From the fourteenth century the demand for "reform of head and members" (reformatio in capite et in membris) had been voiced with ever-increasing energy by serious and discerning men, but the same cry was taken up also by many who had no real desire for a religious renewal, wishing merely to reform others but not themselves, and seeking only their own interests. This call for reformation of head and members, discussed in many writings and in conversation with insistence on existing and often exaggerated abuses, tended necessarily to lower the clergy still more in the eyes of the people, especially as the councils of the fifteenth century, though largely occupied with attempts at reformation, did not succeed in accomplishing it extensively or permanently.
The authority of the Holy See had also been seriously impaired, partly through the fault of some of its occupants and partly through that of the secular princes. The pope's removal to Avignon in the fourteenth century was a grievous error, since the universal character of the papacy was thus obscured in the minds of the Christian people. Certain phases of the quarrel with Louis the Bavarian and with the Franciscan Spirituals clearly indicate a decline of the papal power. The severest blow was dealt by the disastrous papal schism (1378-141 which familiarized Western Christians with the idea that war might be made, with all spiritual and material weapons, against one whom many other Christians regarded as the only lawful pope. After the restoration of unity, the attempted reforms of the Papal Curia were not thorough. Humanism and the ideals of the Renaissance were zealously cultivated in Rome, and unfortunately the heathen tendencies of this movement, so opposed to the Christian moral law, affected too profoundly the life of many higher ecclesiastics, so that worldly ideas, luxury, and immorality rapidly gained ground at the centre of ecclesiastical life. When ecclesiastical authority grew weak at the fountain-head, it necessarily decayed elsewhere. There were also serious administrative abuses in the Papal Curia. The ever-increasing centralization of ecclesiastical administration had brought it about that far too many ecclesiastical benefices in all parts of Christendom were conferred at Rome, while in the granting of them the personal interests of the petitioner, rather than the spiritual needs of the faithful, were too often considered. The various kinds of reservation had also become a grievous abuse. Dissatisfaction was felt widely among the clergy at the many taxes imposed by the Curia on the incumbents of ecclesiastical benefices. From the fourteenth century these taxes called forth loud complaints. In proportion as the papal authority lost the respect of many, resentment grew against both the Curia and the Papacy. The reform councils of the fifteenth century, instead of improving the situation, weakened still more the highest ecclesiastical authority by reason of their anti-papal tendencies and measures.
In princes and governments there had meanwhile developed a national consciousness, purely temporal and to a great extent hostile to the Church; the civil powers interfered more frequently in ecclesiastical matters, and the direct influence exercised by laymen on the domestic administration of the Church rapidly increased. In the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries arose the modern concept of the State. During the preceding period many matters of a secular or mixed nature had been regulated or managed by the Church, in keeping with the historical development of European society. With the growing self-consciousness of the State, the secular governments sought to control all matters that fell within their competence, which course, although in large measure justifiable, was new and offensive, and thus led to frequent collisions between Church and State. The State, moreover, owing to the close historical connection between the ecclesiastical and secular orders, encroached on the ecclesiastical domain. During the course of the Western Schism (1378-141 opposing popes sought the support of the civil powers, and thus gave the latter abundant occasion to interfere in purely ecclesiastical affairs. Again, to strengthen their authority in the face of anti-papal tendencies, the popes of the fifteenth century made at various times certain concessions to the civil authorities, so that the latter came to regard ecclesiastical affairs as within their domain. For the future the Church was to be, not superordinate, but subordinate to the civil power, and was increasingly menaced with complete subjection. According as national self-consciousness developed in the various countries of Europe, the sense of the unity and interdependence of the Christian family of nations grew weaker. Jealousy between nations increased, selfishness gained ground, the rift between politics and Christian morality and religion grew wider, and discontent and perilous revolutionary tendencies spread rapidly among the people. Love of wealth was meanwhile given a great incentive by the discovery of the New World, the rapid development of commerce, and the new prosperity of the cities. In public life a many-sided and intense activity revealed itself, foreshadowing a new era and inclining the popular mind to changes in the hitherto undivided province of religion.
The Renaissance and Humanism partly introduced and greatly fostered these conditions. Love of luxury was soon associated with the revival of the art and literature of Graeco-Roman paganism. The Christian religious ideal was to a great extent lost sight of; higher intellectual culture, previously confined in great measure to the clergy, but now common among the laity, assumed a secular character, and in only too many cases fostered actively and practically a pagan spirit, pagan morality and views. A crude materialism obtained among the higher classes of society and in the educated world, characterized by a gross love of pleasure, a desire for gain, and a voluptuousness of life diametrically opposed to Christian morality. Only a faint interest in the supernatural life survived. The new art of printing made it possible to disseminate widely the works of pagan authors and of their humanisticimitators. Immoral poems and romances, biting satires on ecclesiastical persons and institutions, revolutionary works and songs, were circulated in all directions and wrought immense harm. As Humanism grew, it waged violent war against the Scholasticism of the time. The traditional theological method had greatly degenerated owing to the finical, hair-splitting manner of treating theological questions, and a solid and thorough treatment of theology had unhappily disappeared from many schools and writings. The Humanists cultivated new methods, and based theology on the Bible and the study of the Fathers, an essentially good movement which might have renewed the study of theology, if properly developed. But the violence of the Humanists, their exaggerated attacks on Scholasticism, and the frequent obscurity of their teaching aroused strong opposition from the representative Scholastics. The new movement, however, had won the sympathy of the lay world and of the section of the clergydevoted to Humanism. The danger was only too imminent that the reform would not be confined to theological methods but would reach the content of ecclesiastical dogma, and would find widespread support in humanistic circles.
The soil was thus ready for the growth of revolutionary movements in the religious sphere. Many grave warnings were indeed uttered, indicating the approaching danger and urging a fundamental reform of the actual evil conditions. Much had been effected in this direction by the reform movement in various religious orders and by the apostolic efforts of zealous individuals. But a general renewal of ecclesiastical life and a uniform improvement of evil conditions, beginning with Rome itself, the centre of the Church, were not promptly undertaken, and soon it needed only an external impulse to precipitate a revolution, which was to cut off from the unity of the Church great territories of Central and almost all Northern Europe.
Original ideas and purposes of the reformers
The first impulse to secession was supplied by the opposition of Luther in Germany and of Zwingli in German Switzerland to the promulgation by Leo X of an indulgence for contributions towards the building of the new St. Peter's at Rome. For a long time it had been customary for the popes to grant indulgences for buildings of public utility (e.g. bridges). In such cases the true doctrine of indulgences as a remission of the punishment due to sin (not of guilt of sin) had been always upheld, and the necessary conditions(especially the obligation of a contrite confession to obtain absolution from sin) always inculcated. But the almsgiving for a good object, prescribed only as a good work supplementary to the chief conditions for the gaining of the indulgence, was often prominently emphasized. The indulgence commissaries sought to collect as much money as possible in connexion with the indulgence. Indeed, frequently since the Western Schism the spiritual needs of the people did not receive as much consideration as a motive for promulgating an indulgence, as the need of the good object by promoting which the indulgence was to be gained, and the consequent need of obtaining alms for this purpose. The war against the Turks and other crises, the erection of churches and monasteries, and numerous other causes led to the granting of indulgences in the fifteenth century. The consequent abuses were heightened by the fact that secular rulers frequently forbade the promulgation of indulgences within their territories, consentingonly on condition that a portion of the receipts should be given to them. In practice, therefore, and in the public mind the promulgation of indulgences took on an economic aspect, and, as they were frequent, many came to regard them as an oppressive tax. Vainly did earnest men raise their voices against this abuse, which aroused no little bitterness against the ecclesiastical order and particularly the Papal Curia. The promulgation of indulgences for the new St. Peter's furnished Luther with an opportunity to attack indulgences in general, and this attack was the immediate occasion of the Reformation in Germany. A little later the same motive led Zwingli to put forth his erroneous teachings, thereby inaugurating the Reformation in German Switzerland. Both declared that they were attacking only the abuses of indulgences; however, they soon taught doctrine in many ways contrary to the teaching of the Church.
The great applause which Luther received on his first appearance, both in humanistic circles and among some theologians and some of the earnest-minded laity, was due to the dissatisfaction with the existing abuses. His own erroneous views and the influence of a portion of his followers very soon drove Luther into rebellion against ecclesiastical authority as such, and eventually led him into open apostasy and schism. His chief original supporters were among the Humanists, the immoral clergy, and the lower grades of the landed nobility imbued with revolutionary tendencies. It was soon evident that he meant to subvert all the fundamental institutions of the Church. Beginning by proclaiming the false doctrine of "justification by faith alone", he later rejected all supernatural remedies (especially the sacraments and the Mass), denied the meritoriousness of good works (thus condemning monastic vows and Christian asceticism in general), and finally rejected the institution of a genuine hierarchical priesthood(especially the papacy) in the Church. His doctrine of the Bible as the sole rule of faith, with rejection of all ecclesiastical authority, established subjectivism in matters of faith. By this revolutionary assault Luther forfeited the support of many serious personsindisposed to break with the Church but on the other hand won over all the anti-ecclesiastical elements, including numerous monksand nuns who left the monasteries to break their vows, and many priests who espoused his cause with the intention of marrying. The support of his sovereign, Frederick of Saxony, was of great importance. Very soon secular princes and municipal magistrates made the Reformation a pretext for arbitrary interference in purely ecclesiastical and religious affairs, for appropriating ecclesiastical property and disposing of it at pleasure, and for deciding what faith their subjects should accept. Some followers of Luther went to even greater extremes. The Anabaptists and the "Iconoclasts" revealed the extremest possibilities of the principles advocated by Luther, while in the Peasants' War the most oppressed elements of German society put into practice the doctrine of the reformer. Ecclesiastical affairs were now reorganized on the basis of the new teachings; henceforth the secular power is ever more clearly the supreme judge in purely religious matters, and completely disregards any independent ecclesiastical authority.
A second centre of the Reformation was established by Zwingli at Zurich. Though he differed in many particulars from