Графични страници
PDF файл


[ocr errors]

assemble fifty learned doctors to convict the monk outright. But not at all. Are these books of your writing? Yes. Will retract them ? No! Well, begone! There's the whole history. Deluded Germans, how childishly we act!- how we are duped and defrauded by Rome! Let the Jews sing their yo! yo! yo! But a passover is coming for us also, and then we will sing Hallelujah! We must keep silence, and endure for a short time. • A little while and ye shall not see me, and again a little while and ye shall see me,' said Jesus Christ. I trust I may say the same. Farewell. I commend you all to the Eternal. May he preserve in Christ your understanding and your faith from the attacks of the wolves and the dragons of Rome. Amen."

Luther was shut up in the Castle of Wartburg, in the depths of the old Thuringian forest, and many thought him dead; but the word of God was not bound. Christ crucified, the hope of the soul, was every where proclaimed and believed. The movement spread on all the wings of the wind. Great numbers deserted the Papacy, and turned to the Lord. Luther reappeared, as faithful as ever, and maintained the long struggle. He suffered much, and was willing to die. Indeed, he was weary of the world, so full of contention, oppression, and sin. But his trust was in God his Redeemer. He departed in peace at Eisleben,

[ocr errors]

the place of his birth. Three times quickly he repeated the words, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, thou faithful God." Then he was quiet. The attendants shook him, rubbed him, and spoke to him ; but he closed his eyes, and made no reply. Jonas and Cælius then spoke to him very loud, and said, “ Venerable father, do you die trusting in Christ, and in the doctrine which you have preached?” and he answered distinctly, “ Yes,” and turning upon his right side, slept a short period, when, with folded hands, with one gentle breath and sigh, he passed away.* There were many obstacles to the progress

of the Reformation; some confusion, some disorders were the result; but God raised up many great and good men, in various places, to preach the gospel of Christ, and the work of renovation advanced. Christ was in it as a power of hope and transformation to many souls and many lands. It was as if the frosts of a long winter had dissolved, and quickening spring was breathing through the forests of Germany, and the mountains of Switzerland, and far off amid the plains of England, and the hills of Scotland. The waters of life, long pent up among frozen rocks, let loose by the breath of God, were rolling and flashing under the deepening radiance. The wilderness and the solitary place were glad, the desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose.

* We have dwelt upon the Reformation chiefly as it developed itself in the centre of continental Europe. We might trace, were it necessary, the action of the same principles in England and Scotland. In these countries the Reformation had an independent origin, though vastly aided by the movement in Germany. For information upon the history of the Reformation in England and Scotland, see Burnet's History of the Reformation, Blunt's History of the English Reformation, D’Aubigné's fifth volume of his History of the Reformation, Neale's History of the Puritans, McCries's Life of John Knox, Hetherington's History of the Church of Scotland. For an admirable exposition of the spirt and aim of Knox see the Westminster Review for July, 1853.

In all violent transitions, however, much evil is developed along with the good. Human passions and interests ever mingle with divine institutions. Individuals, as well as churches and communities, are only partially “sanctified.”

66 Some are grievously defective, others are selfish and tumultuous. Besides, action and reaction ever correspond to each other; if the pendulum is held far in one direction, it will swing the farther in the other. Some tumult and irregularity mingle in the grandest revolutions.

All this we see in the Reformation of the sixteenth century; yet it was the revival of primitive Christianity. It was a power of life and blessing to the nations, and to myriads of individual souls, who “justified by faith,” had, in life and in death, "peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The word of God was emancipated. Noble re. formed churches were established. Thence sprang freedom and justice, activity and advancement. Thence came Bacon, Newton, and Howard, John Milton and Thomas Chalmers, with that high, progressive civilization, yet destined to cover the earth.*

* It might be interesting here to show how the Reformation reacted powerfully on the Papal church, and, consequently, on all Roman Catholic countries. Its spirit is diffused beyond Protestant bounds. It is at work among all civilized nations. It is the leaven which must leaven the whole mass. But the facts are obvious; and we leave the matter to the reflection of intelligent men.




In all ages, among the modern as well as among the ancient nations, we find the influence of two great elements, or factors the finite and the infinite, the human and the divine. In the finite and human is the tendency to imperfection, consequently to division, disorder, and death. In the infinite is the tendency to perfection, consequently to unity, order, and life. And as the finite and the infinite, in their action, are blended in the constitution and course of things, we find the manifestations of the latter, in the moral sphere, greatly modified by circumstances. Hence the striking variations and contrasts in history, the singular ebb and flow of society, its convulsions and revulsions, its retrogression and progression. In some


among nations, we meet an apparent predominance of evil, yet ever with a struggle and tendency to good. God does not leave himself without a wito ness, either in nature or in society. Every where he works after the counsel of his own will. The process is in 'isible and mysterious, and often to 40 *



« ПредишнаНапред »