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    Book 14—The Augsburg Confession 1530

    Chapter 1

    Two striking Lessons—Charles V in Italy—The German Envoys—Their Boldness—The Landgrave’s Present—The Envoys under Arrest—Their Release and Departure—Meeting of Charles and Clement—Gattinara’s Proposition—Clement’s Arms—War imminent—Luther’s Objections—The Savior is coming—Charles’s conciliatory Language—The Emperor’s Motives

    The Reformation was accomplished in the name of a spiritual principle. It had proclaimed for its teacher the Word of God; for salvation, Faith; for king, Jesus Christ; for arms, the Holy Ghost; and had by these very means rejected all worldly elements. Rome had been established by the law of a carnal commandment; the Reformation, by the power of an endless life.HRSCV4 537.1

    If there is any doctrine that distinguishes Christianity from every other religion, it is its spirituality. A heavenly life brought down to man—such is its work; thus the opposition of the spirit of the Gospel to the spirit of the world, was the great fact which signalized the entrance of Christianity among the nations. But what its Founder had separated, had soon come together again; the Church had fallen into the arms of the world; and by this criminal union it had been reduced to the deplorable condition in which we find it at the era of the Reformation.HRSCV4 537.2

    Thus one of the greatest tasks of the sixteenth century was to restore the spiritual element to its rights. The Gospel of the reformers had nothing to do with the world and with politics. While the Roman hierarchy had become a matter of diplomacy and a court intrigue, the Reformation was destined to exercise no other influence over princes and people than that which proceeds from the Gospel of peace.HRSCV4 537.3

    If the Reformation, having attained a certain point, became untrue to its nature, began to parley and temporize with the world, and ceased thus to follow up the spiritual principle that it had so loudly proclaimed, it was faithless to God and to itself.HRSCV4 537.4

    Henceforward its decline was at hand.HRSCV4 537.5

    It is impossible for a society to prosper if it be unfaithful to the principles it lays down. Having abandoned what constituted its life, it can find naught but death.HRSCV4 537.6

    It was God’s will that this great truth should be inscribed on the very threshold of the temple He was then raising in the world; and a striking contrast was to make this truth stand gloriously prominent.HRSCV4 537.7

    One portion of the reform was to seek the alliance of the world, and in this alliance find a destruction full of desolation.HRSCV4 537.8

    Another portion, looking up to God, was haughtily to reject the arm of the flesh, and by this very act of faith secure a noble victory.HRSCV4 537.9

    If three centuries have gone astray, it is because they were unable to comprehend so holy and so solemn a lesson.HRSCV4 537.10

    It was in the beginning of September 1529 that Charles V, the victor by battles or by treaties over the pope and the King of France, landed at Genoa. The shouts of the Spaniards had saluted him as he quitted the Iberian peninsula; but the dejected eyes, the bended heads, the silent lips of the Italians given over to his hands, alone welcomed him to the foot of the Apennines. Everything led to the belief that Charles would indemnify himself on them for the apparent generosity with which he had treated the pope.HRSCV4 537.11

    They were deceived. Instead of those barbarous chiefs of the Goths and Huns,—instead of those proud and fierce emperors, who more than once had crossed the Alps and rushed upon Italy, sword in hand and with cries of vengeance, the Italians saw among them a young and graceful prince, with pale features, a delicate frame, and weak voice, of winning manners, having more the air of a courtier than of a warrior, scrupulously performing all the duties of the Romish religion, and leading in his train no terrible cohorts of German barbarians, but a brilliant retinue of Spanish grandees, who condescendingly paraded the pride of their race and the splendor of their nation. This prince, the victor of Europe, spoke only of peace and amnesty; and even the Duke of Ferrara, who of all the Italian princes had most cause of fear, having at Modena placed the keys of the city in his hands, heard from his friendly lips the most unexpected encouragements.HRSCV4 537.12

    Whence did this strange conduct proceed? Charles had shown plainly enough, at the time of the captivity of Francis I, that generosity towards his enemies was not his dominant virtue. It was not long before this mystery was explained.HRSCV4 537.13

    Almost at the same time with Charles there arrived in Italy, by way of Lyons and Genoa, three German burgesses, whose whole equipage consisted of six horses. These were John Ehinger, burgomaster of Memmingen, who carried his head high, scattered money around him, and who was not remarkable for great sobriety; Michael Caden, syndic of Nuremberg, a worthy, pious, and brave man, but detested by the Count of Nassau, the most influential of Charles’s ministers; and, lastly, Alexis Frauentraut, secretary to the Margrave of Brandenburg, who, having married a nun, was in very bad odor among the Roman-catholics. Such were the three men whom the Protestant princes, assembled at Nuremberg, commissioned to bear to the emperor the famous Protest of Spires. They had purposely chosen these deputies from a middle station, under the impression that they would incur less danger. To carry such a message to Charles V was, to say the truth, a task that few persons cared to execute. Accordingly a pension had been secured to the widows of these envoys in case of misfortune.HRSCV4 537.14

    Charles was on his way from Genoa to Bologna, and staying at Piacenza, when the three Protestant deputies overtook him. These plain Germans presented a singular contrast in the midst of that Spanish pomp and Romish fervor by which the young prince was surrounded. Cardinal Gattinara, the emperor’s chancellor, who sincerely desired a reform of the Church, procured them an audience of Charles V for the 22nd of September; but they were recommended to be sparing in their words, for there was nothing the emperor so much disliked as a Protestant sermon.HRSCV4 538.1

    The deputies were not checked by these intimations and after handing the protest to Charles, Frauentraut began to speak: “It is to the Supreme Judge that each one of us must render an account,” said he, “and not to creatures who turn at every wind. It is better to fall into the most cruel necessity, than to incur the anger of God. Our nation will obey no decrees that are based on any other foundation than the Holy Scriptures.”HRSCV4 538.2

    Such was the proud tone held by these German citizens to the emperor of the west. Charles said not a word—it would have been paying them too much honor; but he charged one of his secretaries to announce an answer at some future time.HRSCV4 538.3

    There was no hurry to send back these paltry ambassadors. In vain did they renew their solicitations daily. Gattinara treated them with kindness, but Nassau sent them away with bitter words. A workman, the armorer to the court, having to visit Augsburg to purchase arms, begged the Count of Nassau to despatch the Protestant deputies. “You may tell them,” replied the minister of Charles V, “that we will terminate their business in order that you may have travelling companions.” But the armorer having found other company, they were compelled to wait.HRSCV4 538.4

    These envoys endeavoured at least to make a good use of their time. “Take this book,” said the landgrave to Caden at the very moment of departure, giving him a French work bound in velvet, and richly ornamented, “and deliver it to the emperor,” It was a summary of the Christian Faith which the landgrave had received from Francis Lambert, and which had probably been written by that doctor. Caden sought an opportunity of presenting this treatise; and did so one day, as Charles was going publicly to mass. The emperor took the book, and passed it immediately to a Spanish bishop. The Spaniard began to read it, and lighted upon that passage of Scripture in which Christ enjoins his apostles not to exercise lordship. The author took advantage of it to maintain that the minister, charged with spiritual matters, should not interfere with those which are temporal. The papist prelate bit his lips, and Charles, who perceived it, having asked, “Well, what is the matter?” the bishop in confusion had recourse to a falsehood. “This treatise,” replied he, “takes the sword from the christian magistrate, and grants it only to nations that are strangers to the faith.” Immediately there was a great uproar: the Spaniards above all were beside themselves. “The wretches that have endeavoured to mislead so young a prince,” said they, “deserve to be hung on the first tree by the wayside!” Charles swore, in fact, that the bearer should suffer the penalty of his audacity.HRSCV4 538.5

    At length, on the 12th October, Alexander Schweiss, imperial secretary, transmitted the emperor’s reply to the deputies. It said that the minority ought to submit to the decrees passed in diet, and that if the Duke of Saxony and his allies were contumacious, means would not be wanting to compel them.HRSCV4 538.6

    Upon this Ehinger and Caden read aloud the appeal to the emperor drawn up at Spires, while Frauentraut, who had renounced his quality of deputy and assumed that of a notary, took notes of what was passing. When the reading was finished, the deputies advanced towards Schweiss, and presented the appeal. The imperial secretary rejected the document with amazement; the deputies insisted; Schweiss continued firm. They then laid the appeal on the table. Schweiss was staggered; he took the paper, and carried it to the emperor.HRSCV4 538.7

    After dinner, just as one of the deputies (Caden) had gone out, a tumult in the hotel announced some catastrophe. It was the imperial secretary who returned duly accompanied. “The emperor is exceedingly irritated against you on account of this appeal,” said he to the Protestants; “and he forbids you, under pain of confiscation and death, to leave your hotel, to write to Germany, or to send any message whatsoever.” Thus Charles put ambassadors under arrest, as he would the officers of his guard, desirous in this manner of showing his contempt, and of frightening the princes.HRSCV4 538.8

    Caden’s servant slipped in alarm out of the hotel, and ran to his master. The latter, still considering himself free, wrote a hasty account of the whole business to the senate of Nuremberg, sent off his letters by express, and returned to share in the arrest of his colleagues.HRSCV4 539.1

    On the 23rd of October, the emperor left Piacenza, carrying the three Germans with him. But on the 30th he released Ehinger and Frauentraut, who, mounting their horses in the middle of the night, rushed at full speed along a route thronged with soldiers and robbers. “As for you,” said Granvelle to Caden, “you will stay under pain of death. The emperor expects that the book you presented to him will be given to the pope.” Perhaps Charles thought it pleasant to show the Roman pontiff this prohibition issued against the ministers of God to mingle in the government of nations. But Caden, profiting by the confusion of the court, secretly procured a horse, and fled to Ferrara, thence to Venice, from which place he returned to Nuremberg.HRSCV4 539.2

    The more Charles appeared irritated against Germany, the greater moderation he showed towards the Italians: heavy pecuniary contributions were all that he required. It was beyond the Alps, in the center of Christendom, by means of these very religious controversies, that he desired to establish his power. He pressed on, and required only two things: behind him,—peace; with him,—money.HRSCV4 539.3

    On the 5th of November he entered Bologna. Everything was striking about him: the crowd of nobles, the splendor of the equipages, the haughtiness of the Spanish troops, the four thousand ducats that were scattered by handfuls among the people; but above all, the majesty and magnificence of the young emperor. The two chiefs of Romish Christendom were about to meet. The pope quitted his palace with all his court; and Charles, at the head of an army which would have conquered the whole of Italy in a few days, affecting the humility of a child, fell on his knees, and kissed the pontiff’s feet.HRSCV4 539.4

    The emperor and the pope resided at Bologna in two adjoining palaces, separated by a single wall, through which a doorway had been opened, of which each had a key; and the young and politic emperor was often seen visiting the old and crafty pontiff, carrying papers in his hand.HRSCV4 539.5

    Clement obtained Sforza’s forgiveness, who appeared before the emperor sick and leaning on a staff. Venice also was forgiven: a million of crowns arranged these two matters. But Charles could not obtain from the pope the pardon of Florence. That illustrious city was sacrificed to the Medici, “considering,” it was said, “that it is impossible for Christ’s vicar to demand anything that is unjust.”HRSCV4 539.6

    The most important affair was the Reformation. Some represented to the emperor that, victor over all his enemies, he should carry matters with a high hand, and constrain the Protestants by force of arms. Charles was more moderate; he preferred weakening the Protestants by the Papists, and then the Papists by the Protestants, and by this means raising his power above them both.HRSCV4 539.7

    A wiser course was nevertheless proposed in a solemn conference. “The Church is torn in pieces,” said Chancellor Gattinara. “You (Charles) are the head of the empire; you (the pope) the head of the Church. It is your duty to provide by common accord against unprecedented wants. Assemble the pious men of all nations, and let a free council deduce from the Word of God a scheme of doctrine such as may be received by every people.”HRSCV4 539.8

    A thunderbolt falling at Clement’s feet could not have startled him more. The offspring of an illegitimate union, and having obtained the papacy by means far from honorable, and squandered the treasures of the Church in an unjust war, this pontiff had a thousand personal motives for dreading an assembly of Christendom. “Large congregations,” replied he, “serve only to introduce popular opinions. It is not by the decrees of councils, but with the edge of the sword, that we should decide controversies.”HRSCV4 539.9

    As Gattinara still persisted: “What!” said the pope, angrily interrupting him, “you dare contradict me, and excite your master against me!” Charles rose up; all the assembly preserved profound silence, and the prince resuming his seat, seconded his chancellor’s request. Clement was content to say that he would reflect upon it. He then began to work upon the young emperor in their private conferences, and Charles promised at last to constrain the heretics by violence, while the pope should summon all other princes to his aid. “To overcome Germany by force, and then erase it from the surface of the earth, is the sole object of the Italians,” they wrote from Venice to the elector.HRSCV4 539.10

    Such was the sinister news which, by spreading alarm among the Protestants, should also have united them. Unfortunately a contrary movement was then taking place. Luther and some of his friends had revised the Marburg articles in a sense exclusively Lutheran, and the ministers of the Elector of Saxony had presented them to the conference at Schwabach. The reformed deputies from Ulm and Strasburg had immediately withdrawn, and the conference was broken up.HRSCV4 540.1

    But new conferences had erelong become necessary. The express that Caden had forwarded from Piacenza had reached Nuremberg. Every one in Germany understood that the arrest of the princes’ deputies was a declaration of war. The elector was staggered, and ordered his chancellor to consult the theologians of Wittenberg.HRSCV4 540.2

    “We cannot on our conscience,” replied Luther on the 18th November, “approve of the proposed alliance. We would rather die ten times than see our Gospel cause one drop of blood to be shed. Our part is to be like lambs of the slaughter. The cross of Christ must be borne. Let your highness be without fear. We shall do more by our prayers than all our enemies by their boastings. Only let not your hands be stained with the blood of your brethren! If the emperor requires us to be given up to his tribunals, we are ready to appear. You cannot defend our faith: each one should believe at his own risk and peril.”HRSCV4 540.3

    On the 29th November an evangelical congress was opened at Smalkald, and an unexpected event rendered this meeting still more important. Ehinger, Caden, and Frauentraut, who had escaped from the grasp of Charles V, appeared before them. The landgrave had no further doubts of the success of his plan.HRSCV4 540.4

    He was deceived. No agreement between contrary doctrines, no alliance between politics and religion—were Luther’s two principles, and they still prevailed. It was agreed that those who felt disposed to sign the articles of Schwabach, and those only, should meet at Nuremberg on the 6th of January.HRSCV4 540.5

    The horizon became hourly more threatening. The papists of Germany wrote one to another these few but significant words: “The Saviour is coming.” “Alas” exclaimed Luther, “what a pitiless saviour! He will devour them all, as well as us.” In effect, two Italian bishops, authorized by Charles V, demanded in the pope’s name all the gold and silver from the churches, and a third part of the ecclesiastical revenues: a proceeding which caused an immense sensation. “Let the pope go to the devil,” replied a canon of Paderborn, a little too freely. “Yes, yes!” archly replied Luther, “this is your saviour that is coming!” The people already began to talk of frightful omens. It was not only the living who were agitated: a child still in its mother’s womb had uttered horrible shrieks. “All is accomplished,” said Luther; “the Turk has reached the highest degree of his power, the glory of the papacy is declining, and the world is splitting on every side.” The reformer, dreading lest the end of the world should arrive before he had translated all the Bible, published the prophecies of Daniel separately,—“a work,” said he, “for these latter times.” “Historians tell us,” he added, “that Alexander the Great always placed Homer under his pillow: the prophet Daniel is worthy not only that kings and princes should lay him under their heads, but carry him in their hearts; for he will teach them that the government of nations proceeds from the power of God. We are balanced in the hand of the Lord, as a ship upon the sea, or a cloud in the sky.”HRSCV4 540.6

    Yet the frightful phantom that Philip of Hesse had not ceased to point out to his allies, and whose threatening jaws seemed already opening, suddenly vanished, and they discovered in its place the graceful image of the most amiable of princes.HRSCV4 540.7

    On the 21st January, Charles had summoned all the states of the empire to Augsburg, and had endeavoured to employ the most conciliatory language. “Let us put an end to all discord,” he said, “let us renounce our antipathies, let us offer to our Saviour the sacrifice of all our errors, let us make it our business to comprehend and weigh with meekness the opinions of others. Let us annihilate all that has been said or done on both sides contrary to right, and let us seek after christian truth. Let us all fight under one and the same leader, Jesus Christ, and let us strive thus to meet in one communion, one church, and one unity.”HRSCV4 540.8

    What language! How was it that this prince, who hitherto had spoken only of the sword, should now speak only of peace? Some may say that the wise Gattinara had a share in it; that the act of convocation was drawn up under the impression of the terror caused by the Turkish invasion; that the emperor already saw with how little eagerness the Roman-catholics of Germany seconded his views; that he wished to intimidate the pope; that this language, so full of graciousness, was but a mask which Charles employed to deceive his enemies; that he wished to manage religion in true imperial fashion, like Theodosius and Constantine, and seek first to unite both parties by the influence of his wisdom and of his favors, reserving to himself, if kindness should fail, to employ force afterwards. It is possible that each of these motives may have exercised a certain influence on Charles, but the latter appears to us nearer the truth, and more conformable to the character of this prince.HRSCV4 540.9

    If Charles, however, showed any inclination to mildness, the fanatical Ferdinand was at hand to bring him back. “I will continue negotiating without coming to any conclusion,” wrote he to his brother; “and should I even be reduced to that, do not fear; pretexts will not be wanting to chastise these rebels, and you will find men enough who will be happy to aid you in your revenge.”HRSCV4 541.1

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