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to their timid remonstrances, but even undertook the journey on foot, relying on the protection of God and the commendatory letters of his prince, and arrived unburt at Heidelberg in April of this year. Here, in the same month, after the business of the order was finished, he arranged a public disputation, in which, under the name of theological paradoxes, he maintained most of his opinions on free will, on justification by faith, and on grace and good works, which paradoxes were received indeed, by the theologians of the university, with the astonishment which the novelty excited, but yet were discussed with great moderation, and, as Luther himself says, with no small share of acuteness.* But here the seed was thus sown which afterwards produced such fine fruit, and by this scene, Luther gained adherents who subsequently performed the most important services for the spread of truth and of religion, in various lands. Martin Bucer, John Brentz, and Erhardt Schnepf, then young men, were found among his hearers, and from this time became his zealous defenders, from which time, as one of the most celebrated of the reformed theologian: himself says, the Reformation began in the Palatinate.t
But this journey also gave occasion, on the other hand, to the increase of the animosity of his opposers against him, just in proportion as it had increased his fame. His name had now become known throughout nearly the whole of Germany, and
* The disputation was instituted at the call of his order. The paradoxes were twenty-eight theological and twelve philosophical. See all together, T. I. Jen. Lat. p. 26, and the theological separate, T. I. Witteb. Lat. p. 141. The most important of the theological, are the following:
3. “The works of men, though they may be always specious and may seem good, yet it is probable, they are mortal sing.
9. “ To say, that works without Christ are indeed dead but not mortal, seems a perilous disregard of the fear of God.
13. “ Free will after sin, is a thing merely in name, and while it does what it can, it sips mortally.
25. « He is not justified who performs much, but be wbo, without works, believes much in Christ.
26. “The law says, do this ; and it is never done. believe in him ; and now all things are done."
Subsequently, Luther gave an explanation of these paradoxes. T. Jen. p. 27. - Epp. L. I. ep. 48.
Seckendorf, from the historical narrative of Altingius respecting the churches of the Palatinate, I. c. p. 29.
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nearly the whole of Germany was now attentive to the contest which was going on between two parties so unequal, a single monk and the mightiest of all the monastic orders. This order was just the more enraged, because now, not only their advantage, but their honor seemed also involved; and their solicitude for both, counselled them speedily to put an end to the contest in a decisive way, as it was easy to see, that the longer it was continued, the more dangerous it must be to both. Luther now received accounts from all sides, that his enemies were plying all their most effective arts at Rome, in order to prepare a decisive blow which, according to their expectation, should at once annihilate him and put an end to the contest and to their apprehensions. And now it was time for him to venture a new step, which was also designed to hasten the issue of the war.
When, contrary to his design, his first theses were once spread through all Germany, nothing remained for him but to make a trial whether he should not be able to draw over to his side the better and more enlightened part of the nation, in favor of a public explanation, and might thus obviate the effects of the blind hatred to which the greater multitude were excited against him. The attempt consisted in his appealing, as it were, to the decision of this enlightened part, placing before them now the theses which he had at first put up merely as questions for discussion, with all the reasons which had induced him to doubt some of them and wholly to reject others, and then leaving the decision to their award, which could not be very doubtful. By the degree of illumination which the sciences had already produced, by the silent encouragements he had already received from all quarters, by the contempt in which his antagonists stood with this part of the nation, and still more by the most lively feeling of the strength of the truth with which his own soul was penetrated, he could without presumption foresee, that the decision would not turn out against him.*
In penning these resolutions, Luther had employed every means and every art by which the object he had in view, could
* T. I. Jen. Lat. p. 76. Witteb. Lat. p. 102.
† Luther also prefixed to them the protestation which he had placed before the theses themselves. “ By this my protestation," he then closes, “I believe it will be sufficiently manifest, that I deed err, but shall not be a heretic, however much they may rave and pine who think and desire the contrary.”
in any manner be promoted. On the one hand, they were written with a moderation which avoided every thing offensive, barely noticing or else wholly omitting many a too ticklish point, and evincing so much genuine humility that every suspicion of an ambitious design, must have fallen of itself. But, on the other hand, this moderation served only to place his courage in a clearer light, as he did not in the least sacrifice his convictions. The delicate points, which he could not pass unnoticed without incurring the suspicion of a base timidity, he touched with a bold hand, not only defending himself, but also indulging in recrimination. He ever spoke with that dignity which became a defender of the truth, and precisely by this means most effectually won to his favor all the generous men who were capable of feeling it, and summoned them the most effectually to that support which he expected from them. In these resolutions, he illustrated most of his first theses, established the true conceptions of repentance and of the value of those expiatory acts of penance which had been declared by the scholastics as an essential part of repentance and which had led him to his first doubts respecting the doctrine of indulgences - proved from the Scriptures and the early fathers the propriety of his mode of representation - granted, indeed, that he was not yet himself convinced of some opinions which he had at first brought up as questions for discussion, but not only let it be clearly enough seen to which side his conviction most inclined, but even ventured boldly to attack those grand principles of the power of the pope and of the authority of his partial decisions in matters of faith, with which the whole doctrine in dispute must necessarily either stand or fall. Indeed, among his still doubtful propositions he seemed nevertheless to reckon this as decided, that the pope can remit no other penalties but those which himself has imposed according to the ordinances of the canon law ;* and even respecting this point, he would still wait for instruction, whether these penances could be imposed on the dead also, or merely on the living t But he insisted
* “This thesis I dispute, and humbly desire instruction; and as I requested in my preface, so I still request, that he who is able, would lend a hand, and would attend to my motives.”
† Luther says properly, that he is still willing to debate this point, but grants, at the same time, that he is persuaded of the truth of his proposition.
firmly on the more important propositions, that the remission of these penalties is not the forgiveness of guilt — that every Christian, who has true sorrow for his sins, obtains this forgiveness without letters of pardon — that, in respect to the pope's forgiveness, it is nothing more than what the smallest priest can do, i. e. he can declare what God has already forgiven* that the treasure of the merits of the saints, which the pope has in his custody and is to impart at his pleasure, is a nonentity, because none of the saints lived without sin, and therefore none could acquire superfluous meritst—and that neither the authority of a Bonaventura nor a Thomas Aquinas nor all the scholastics together, that not even the bulls nor the decretals could decide any thing in this matter contrary to the declarations of Scripture. He maintained, with firm resolution, that the Scriptures must be the only real source for deciding all matters of faith — that whenever disputes arise, the right of establishing new articles of faith, must belong, (not to the pope alone, who may err both in doctrine and practice, t) but to the whole
Why then do we magnify the pontiff, and make a man terrible ? The keys are not his; they are mine rather, presented to me, and granted for my salvation, my consolation, peace, and quiet. The pontiff is a servant and mıy minister in respect to the keys. He does not need them, as pontiff, but I do. Truly the flatterers turn all things to the pontiffs. In these they boast, not of our consolation, but only of their power, and terrify us by the very things by which consolation ought especially to be imparted — 80 perverted are all things dow-a-days."
f “This is the second death, which I have merited,” says Luther when he comes to this proposition. *Therefore,” he continues, “after I have asserted inany things so manifest that they would need no protestation, now they are at length again to be disputed. Hence therefore I dispute, and inquire for the truth, and call as a witness the reader, as a witness the hearer, and as a witness even the inquisitor of heretical pravity bimself!" But this preface is nothing but irony ; for after he bad proved that no saints could acquire superfluous merits, he changes his language. “But, as I may at length be bold, I protest that I do not doubt the things I have now said, but am ready to endure fire and death for thein; and I would declare every one a heretic who thinks otherwise."
† “I care not what pleases or displeases the sovereign pontiff. He is a man like others. There have been many sovereign pontiffs who have sanctioned, not only errors and vices, but inonstrosities. I listen to the pope as pope, i. e. as speaking in the canons and deciding in Vol. X. No. 28.
As Sent diate his ten to the
church, assembled in a universal council -- and that even their decisions must have rested on the authority of Scripture, for otherwise they could not be supported and defended against schismatics who had broken off from the church.* Universally he insisted upon it, that erring and doubting minds were never to be guided right by authoritative decisions, but by reasons. He complained, with pathetic earnestness, of the attempts of the adherents of the Romish court to suppress the truth by force, which had formerly been experienced by Picus of Mirandola, Peter of Ravenna, and John Vesel,f and latterly by Reuchlin. He loudly reïterated the wishes of the nation for a reformation in the doctrine and lives of the clergy, which must begin at Rome, although it could not be perfected by Rome alone.And finally, he solemnly called on the pope, (whose lot he even commiserated as demanding more than human powers, and whose learning and good designs he commended as befitting the church), at least to perform the duties of his office, connexion with councils; but not when he speaks according to his own bead."
* “ To assert any thing in the church for which no reason or authority can be assigned, is to expose the church to the derision of enemies and beretics; for of what avail is such a reason as this, the pope or the church of Rome decrees this or that, if we are pressed by those who do not follow the church of Rome ?"
+ Vesel who is also called Wesel and de Vesalia, is also confounded with his friend and contemporary, John Wessel, and with whom he agreed in many points. Both of them defended a great part of the doctrines which Luther afterwards espoused. Vesel was a noted preacher at Erfurt and Worms, and was at length condernned by an assembly at Mayence, in 1479, and cast into prison, where he soon died. He was a nominalist, while all his judges but one were realists.—John Picus was born in 1463, and was prince of Mirandola and Concordia. He was a distinguished linguist, philosopher, and disputant, and afterwards became “a sober theologian, and at last a humble and zealous Christian.” He resigned his office, retired from the world, and died at the age of thirty-two. See Murdock's Mosheim II. pp. 516 and 524. — TR.
| “ To speak briefly and confidently : the church needs reformation; which is not the work of a single man, the pontiff, nor of many cardinals, as each of the last councils has proved, but of the whole world, nay rather of God alone. In the mean time, such manifest vices we cannot deny. The keys are abused, and prostituted to avarice and ambition."
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