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the church door at Wittemberg, ninety-five theses, challenging any person to answer them in words or writing. These theses were composed with much prudence and circumspection, not in the least directed against absolution itself, but merely against the abuse of it. He testified his zeal for the doctrines and authority of the scriptures; and, without openly attacking the pope, and the Holy See, he contrived, by some strokes of irony, to let his opinions on this subject be a little understood.
To these theses Luther subjoined a protest, in which he declared himself willing to listen to the objections of any one who could suggest a better doctrine than his own. “ I am not so presumptuous," said he,“ as to expect my opinions should be preferred before all others ; nor am I so senseless, as to permit the divine word to be sacrificed to the inventions of men.” He next applied to the Elector of Mentz, and to the Bishops of Brandenburg, Meissen, and Magdeburg, to whom he dedicated his Maxims, beseeching them, but without effect, to put a stop to the corrupt proceedings of Tetzel. In the mean time his theses were rapidly gaining ground; in less than a fortnight they had spread over Germany, and, within the short space of six weeks, were disseminated throughout all Christendom. Before a month had elapsed, they were well known in Rome; but no one yet had conceived the effect they would produce in Germany: the sensation they created at that time cannot be described; it was a fortunate circumstance that the court of Rome, not apprehending any real danger, thought it more expedient to employ force than artifice. Tetzel drew up an ill-written refutation of Luther's propositions, but which contained little else than utter nonsense. In answer to this, Luther published a defence of his sermon against indulgences. He pointed out how grossly the scriptures had been falsified, “ Men might, if they pleased, call him a heretic, a visionary, an evil speaker, and he could forgive them ; but he could not endure to see the holy scriptures, the only true comfort of mankind, thus mangled with such brutal violence.” He concluded, by inviting him to a personal conference at Wittemberg. “ Here I am, Dr. M. Luther, an Augustin Friar, residing at Wittemberg; and I announce to every member of the Inquisition, who wishes to eat iron and split rocks, that he may have safe conduct to this place, a favourable reception and maintenance here, by the gracious permission of the worthy and Christian Prince, Duke Frederick, Elector of Saxony.”* In the mean time, the number of his adherents augmented considerably.
* H. von der Hard. Hist. Reform. Literaria. T. iv.
6. When I first attacked indulgences,” Luther himself says, “and made the first effort to open the eyes of mankind, the prior and sub-prior, moved by the general cry, came to me in considerable alarm, beseeching me not to bring discredit on the order, for all the other orders had already begun to exult, most especially the Dominicans. •Holy Father,' I replied, “if this be not of God, it will pass away ; but if it proceed from him, let it operate. They were silent, and it now extends itself and will do so until the end.” The challenge to Tetzel was of no avail; he did not make his appearance at the disputation, but caused a fire to be kindled, in which Luther's theses were publicly burnt by his command, which so greatly incensed the students of Wittemberg, that they procured a copy of Tetzel's works, and proclaimed, that whoever was desirous to witness the burning precepts of Tetzel, might be gratified on a certain appointed hour. They then actually burnt the book ; Luther had, of course, no share in this act of youthful intemperance.t On the 13th of April, he journeyed to Heidelberg. Whilst in this city, he presented forty paradoxes upon the doctrine and efficacy of works, and the study of Aristotelian philosophy : the discussion procured him fame and friends, and to the church most important benefits The number of his opponents also increased, and became daily more violent; the religious orders, especially the Dominicans, loudly preached against him, calling him an infernal heretic, deserving to be brought immediately to the stake. Silvester Prierio, an Italian Dominican, attacked him violently in a paper, which he caused to be printed; the performance was of so contemptible a nature, that Luther was at first inclined to leave it unnoticed. On second thought, however, he composed an answer, which he published within three days after. One of the learned men of that time, Von Eck, Vice-Chancellor of the university of Ingoldstadt, next appeared against him, in a work called Obelisken; Luther commented on this in another of his own called Asterisken.
A member of the inquisition, Jacobus von Hochstraten, also rose against him, and urged the pope to have recourse to the more effectual means of fire and sword. But Luther was not to be intimidated. In the same year (1518) he published illustrations of his Theses against Indulgences, which, together with the other writings, he sent not only to the Bishop of Brandenburgh, but also to the pope. This exposition contains an account of the circumstances which led him to the public denunciation of the abuse of Indulgences : he declaimed with
* Luther's Werke, xviii. p. 564.
| Ibid xviii. p. 20.
great independence against the prevailing sins of the church, and concluded with these words :-“ Let me briefly declare, that the church wants reform, and that this reform cannot be the work of one man like the pope, nor of many cardinals, as was proved by the council lately held ; the keys are in bad hands, and yield to the influence of gold and avarice. The banks of the river are broken down, and it is no longer in our power to stem the violence of the torrent.”* “ By this publication,” says Luther, in a subsequent passage of his works, “my shame was publicly testified, and the weakness and ignorance which caused me to kindle the spark in fear and trembling. I stood alone, an insignificant and despised monk, resembling a corpse rather than a living man; and who was I that I should presume to lift up my voice against the majesty of the pope; before whom not the kings of the earth alone, but the whole earth itself, and even heaven and hell, if I inay be permitted the expression, stood in awe, and dared not to act in opposition to his orders ?” As soon as he had despatched this production p to Rome, by Staupitz, he devoted his whole attention to such compositions as might tend to give his beloved countrymen more definite and more moral ideas of the Christian religion. He was in every respect well qualified for such an undertaking, being gifted with the power of persuasion in a greater degree than almost any other being that ever existed.
He is admirably and justly described by Melancthon in the following passage :-"Justus Jonas is a grammarian, he well understands the signification of words; I am a logician, and can demonstrate the relation and connection of things ; Justus Jonas is an eloquent and a polished orator ; but Luther is all in all, and a wonder among men. When he speaks or writes, his words pierce the minds of his auditors, and plant daggers in their hearts.” His sermons on the Ten Commandments,I his exposition of the Lord's Prayer for the use of the laity, and his discourses on Repentance, spread like wildfire throughout the German States. In the exposition of the Ten Commandments, his object is to awaken the attention of men to the spirit of those laws, and to expose the false explanations of them by the Pharisees of ancient and modern times. Speaking of pilgrimages he observes, “that spirit of roaming and wandering was first suggested by the devil; that it answered no other purpose than to turn away the affections of the people from the holy cities, and excite an idle thirst after novelties : that for the sake of these pilgrimages the word of God
* Luther's Werke, xviii. 30.
$ Ibid vii. 1086.
|| Ibid x. 1477.
was neglected by the clergy, together with their other duties; not to mention that the people wasted their time and money in them, burthened themselves with many additional sins, heard, saw, and uttered many unprofitable things, besides abandoning their houses, their wives, and their children.” In his exposition of the Lord's Prayer, he gives an admirable description of the truth and ardency of mental prayer. This is a work suited to all times, and directed against the hypocrites of every sect. “ The prayers of men,” says he, "should be couched in few words, accompanied by intense thought and feeling. The fewer the words, the more excellent is the prayer; the prayer is less perfect in proportion to the multitude of words. The Christian's prayer consists of much meaning in few words; that of the heathen, in many words with little meaning. The prayer of the hypocrite is offered up in the sight of men; the prayer of true devotion consists in sighs and secret aspirations.”
In his sermons on repentance, Luther endeavoured to establish the idea that the sacrament of repentance is the peculiar gift of God's grace conferred on true faith. “If this faith be the gift of God, it is then the true faith ; if this be wanting; all else is vain. The sum of all is, that to him who believes, every thing is profitable ; to him who has not the true faith, every thing is injurious."
Yet even in the prosecution of these peaceful labours, Luther was not permitted to remain undisturbed. A fresh accusation appeared against him from the pen of Prierio. He, however, himself published the Dominican Buck, accompanied by some annotations in which he made the first direct attack on Popery. In one passage of this work, he compares Rome to Babylon, asserting “ Anti-Christ to be seated in the temple of God, and the court of Rome to be merely a synagogue and school of Satan."* In the mean time the opponents of Luther in Rome had not been inactive. A commission had already been appointed to sit against him in the month of July. At the head of this commission was Prierio, in the twofold capacity of accuser and judge. On the 7th of August arrived the papal brief, requiring Luther to make his appearance at Rome within the period of 60 days, unless before its expiration he should retract his errors and sue for grace. To go to Rome under such circumstances would have been to inevitably expose himself to death, whether in the form of prison, the dagger, or the faggot. Luther wrote therefore to Spalatin, the Elector's private secretary, urging him to use his influence with his master, that the council to which he was cited might be held in Ger
* Luther's Werke, xvii. 214.
many rather than in Rome; to which the Elector humanely consented. Leo X. hoping probably to bring the affair to a conclusion without farther publicity, directed Cardinal Cajetan to hear Luther's cause at Augsburg. Luther no sooner received the summons, than he began his journey thither on foot, furnished by Spalatin with recommendatory letters and money to defray his travelling expenses, and arrived at Augsburg the 7th of October, in the year 1518, in good spirits, although greatly fatigued. He caused the legate to be informed of his arrival on the same day, but would not venture into his presence until he had received a safe conduct from the emperor. This proceeding much incensed the legate, for Luther was the first monk who had ever presumed to seek temporal protection against the supreme and spiritual power of the pope. The safe conduct being obtained, Luther went to the cardinal on the 12th of October; but this and several subsequent interviews were productive of no important consequences; for, although Luther expressed himself willing to come to an agreement, the cardinal would be satisfied with nothing less than a recantation. Writing of this man, Luther thus describes him :
“The cardinal may be a celebrated Thomist, but he is certainly an unintelligible, abstruse, and unenlightened theologian and Christian, and, consequently, about as well calculated to take cognizance of such an affair as this, and give a decision upon it, as an ass is to play the harp. My affairs are therefore neglected; because they appoint judges, who not only are inimical, but utterly incapable also of comprehending the matter. But God is the disposer of all things, to whom I commit myself and all belonging to me. I possess the favour of all men, excepting, perhaps, those who are immediately attached to the cardinal's party, although the cardinal himself always called me his beloved son, and told my vicar that I have not a warmer friend than himself. Of this I am well convinced, that I could give no higher satisfaction than by pronouncing the word Revoco; but sooner than I will become an heretic by the renunciation of that opinion by which I first became a Christian, I will perish at the stake or live an excommunicated exile."
On Luther refusing to consent to the recantation required of him, the cardinal forbad him his presence. Measures, however, were privately taken to make him; if possible, their prisoner, and carry him to Rome, where they hoped an opportunity might offer to despatch him by the sword or poison. Luther being informed of this by his friends, immediately quitted Augsburg, and rode off before break of day on a swift horse, without a saddle, and not even provided with boots. The magistrate furnished him with a guide, a good old man, who was well acquainted with the country. He rode that day eight hours, but was so exhausted, that on alighting at the stable, he fell to the