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    Chapter 5

    The Sermons prohibited—Compromise proposed and accepted—The Herald—Curiosity of the Citizens—The new Preachers—The Medley of Popery—Luther encourages the Princes—Veni Spiritus—Mass of the Holy Ghost—The Sermon—Opening of the Diet—The Elector’s Prayer—Insidious Plan of the Romanists—Valdez and Melancthon—No public Discussion—Evangelical Firmness prevails

    Charles, being defeated on the subject of the procession, resolved to take his revenge on the assemblies, for nothing galled him like these sermons. The crowd ceased not to fill the vast church of the Franciscans, where a Zwinglian minister of lively and penetrating eloquence was preaching on the Book of Joshua. He placed the kings of Canaan and the children of Israel before them: his congregation heard them speak and saw them act, and every one recognized in the kings of Canaan the emperor and the ultramontane princes, and in the people of God the adherents of the Reformation. In consequence, his hearers quitted the church enthusiastic in their faith, and filled with the desire of seeing the abominations of the idolaters fall to the ground. On the 16th June, the Protestants deliberated on Charles’s demand, and it was rejected by the majority. “It is only a scarecrow,” said they; “the Papists only desire to see if the nail shakes in the wall, and if they can start the hare from the thicket.”HRSCV4 554.5

    The next morning (17th June) before breakfast, the princes replied to the emperor. “To forbid our ministers to preach purely the holy Gospel would be rebellion against God, who wills not that his Word be bound. Poor sinners that we are, we have need of this Divine Word to surmount our troubles. Moreover, his majesty has declared, that in this diet each doctrine should be examined with impartiality. Now, to order us henceforward to suspend the sermons, would be to condemn ours beforehand.”HRSCV4 554.6

    Charles immediately convoked the other temporal and spiritual princes, who arrived at mid-day at the palatine palace, and remained sitting until the evening; the discussion was exceedingly animated. “This very morning,” said some of the speakers, “the Protestant princes, as they quitted the emperor, had sermons delivered in public.” Exasperated at this new affront, Charles with difficulty contained himself. Some of the princes, however, entreated him to accept their mediation, to which he consented; but the Protestants were immovable. Did these heretics, whom they imagined to reduce so easily, appear in Augsburg only to humiliate Charles? The honor of the chief of the empire must be saved at any cost. “Let us ourselves renounce our preachers,” said the princes; “the Protestants will not then persist in keeping theirs!”HRSCV4 555.1

    The committee accordingly proposed that the emperor should set aside both Papist and Lutheran preachers, and should nominate a few chaplains, with authority to announce the pure Word of God, without attacking either of the two parties. “They shall be neutral men,” said they to the Protestants; neither Faber nor his partisans shall be admitted.”—“But they will condemn our doctrine.”—“By no means. The preacher shall do nothing but read the text of the Gospels, Epistles, and a general confession of sins.” The evangelical states required time to reflect upon it.HRSCV4 555.2

    “We must accept it,” said Melancthon; “for if our obstinacy should lead the emperor to refuse hearing our confession, the evil would be greater still.”HRSCV4 555.3

    “We are called to Augsburg,” said Agricola, “to give an account of our doctrine, and not to preach.”HRSCV4 555.4

    “There is no little disorder in the city,” remarked Spalatin. “The sacramentarians and enthusiasts preach here as well as we: we must get out of this confusion.”HRSCV4 555.5

    “What do the papists propose?” said other theologians; “to read the Gospels and Epistles without explanation. But is not that a victory? What! we protest against the interpretations of the Church; and lo! priests who are to read the Word of God without their notes and commentaries, that is to say, transforming themselves into protestant ministers!” “O! admirable wisdom of the courtiers!” exclaimed Melancthon, smiling.HRSCV4 555.6

    To these motives were added the opinions of the lawyers. As the emperor ought to be considered the rightful magistrate of an imperial city, so long as he made it his residence, all jurisdiction in Augsburg really belonged to him.HRSCV4 555.7

    “Well, then,” said the protestant princes, “we agree to silence our preachers, in the hope that we shall hear nothing offensive to our consciences. If it were otherwise, we should feel ourselves constrained to repel so serious an insult. Besides,” added the elector, as he withdrew, “we expect that if at any time we desire to hear one of our chaplains in our own palace, we shall be free to do so.”HRSCV4 555.8

    They hastened to the emperor, who desired nothing better than to come to an understanding with the Protestants on this subject, and who ratified everything.HRSCV4 555.9

    This was Saturday. An imperial herald was immediately sent out, who, parading the streets of the city at seven in the evening to the sound of trumpets, made the following proclamation:—“O yes, O yes! Thus ordains his imperial majesty, our most gracious lord: no one shall be allowed to preach in Augsburg except by his majesty’s nomination, under penalty of incurring the displeasure and punishment of his majesty.”HRSCV4 555.10

    A thousand different remarks were exchanged in the houses of the citizens of Augsburg. “We are very impatient,” said they, “to see the preachers appointed by the emperor, and who will preach (O! unprecedented wonder!) neither against the evangelical doctrine nor against the doctrine of the pope!” “We must expect,” added another, “to behold some Tragelaph or some chimera with the head of a lion, a goat’s body, and a dragon’s tail.” The Spaniards appeared well satisfied with this agreement, for many of them had never heard a single sermon in their lives; it was not the custom in Spain; but Zwingle’s friends were filled with indignation and alarm.HRSCV4 555.11

    At length Sunday the 19th of June arrived; every one hastened to the churches, and the people who filled them, with eyes fixed on the priest and with attentive ears, prepared to listen to what these new and strange preachers would say. It was generally believed that their task would be to make an evangelico-papistical discourse, and they were very impatient to hear this marvel. ButHRSCV4 555.12

    “The mountain in labor gave birth to a mouse!”HRSCV4 556.1

    The preacher first read the common prayer; he then added the Gospel of the day, finished with a general confession of sins, and dismissed his congregation. People looked at one another in surprise: “Verily,” said they, “here is a preacher that is neither Gospeller nor Papist, but strictly textual.” At last all burst into laughter; “and truly,” adds Brentz, “there was reason enough.” In some churches, however, the chaplains, after reading the Gospel, added a few puerile words, void of Christianity and of consolation, and in no way founded on the holy Scripture.HRSCV4 556.2

    After the so-called sermon, they proceeded to the mass. That in the cathedral was particularly noisy. The emperor was not present, for he was accustomed to sleep until nine or ten o’clock, and a late mass was performed for him; but Ferdinand and many of the princes were present. The pealing notes of the organ, the resounding voices of the choir, echoed through the minister, and a numerous and motley crowd, rushing in at all the doors, filled the aisles of the temple. One might have said that every nation in the world had agreed to meet in the cathedral of Augsburg. Here were Frenchmen, there Spaniards, Moors in one place, Moriscos in another, on one side Italians; on the other Turks, and even, says Brentz, those who are called Stratiots. This crowd was no bad representation of the medley of popery.HRSCV4 556.3

    One priest alone, a fervent Romanist, dared to offer an apology for the mass in the church of the Holy Cross. Charles, wishing to maintain his authority, had him thrown into the Grayfriars’ prison, whence they contrived to let him escape. As for the evangelical pastors of Augsburg, almost all left the city to hear the Gospel elsewhere. The protestant princes were anxious to secure for their churches the assistance of such distinguished men. Discouragement and alarm followed close upon this step, and even the firmest were moved. The elector was inconsolable at the privation imposed upon him by the emperor. “Our Lord God,” said he, heaving a deep sigh, “has received an order to be silent at the Diet of Augsburg.” From that time forward Luther lost the good opinion he had previously entertained of Charles, and foreboded the stormiest future. “See what will be the end of all this,” said he. “The emperor, who has ordered the elector to renounce the assemblies, will afterwards command him to renounce the doctrine; the diet will enter upon its paroxysm, and nothing will remain for us but to rely upon the arm of the Lord.” Then giving way to all his indignation, he added: “The papists, abandoned to devils, are transported with rage; and to live they must drink blood. They wish to give themselves an air of justice, by giving us one of obstinacy. At Augsburg you have not to deal with men, but with the very gates of hell.” Melancthon himself saw his hopes vanish. “All, except the emperor,” said he, “hate us with the most violent hatred. The danger is great, very great Pray to Christ that he may save us!” But Luther, however full of sorrow he might be, far from being cast down, raised his head and endeavoured to reanimate the courage of his brethren. “Be assured and doubt not,” wrote he to them, “that you are the confessors of Jesus Christ, and the ambassadors of the Great King.”HRSCV4 556.4

    They had need of these thoughts, for their adversaries, elated by this first success, neglected nothing that might destroy the Protestants, and taking another step forward, proposed forcing them to be present at the Romish ceremonies. “The Elector of Saxony,” said the legate to Charles, “ought in virtue of his office of grand-marshal of the empire to carry the sword before you in all the ceremonies of the diet. Order him therefore to perform his duty at the mass of the Holy Ghost, which is to open the sittings.” The emperor did so immediately, and the elector, uneasy at this message, called together his theologians. If he refused, his dignity would be taken away; and if he obeyed, he would trample his faith under foot (thought he), and would do dishonor to the Gospel.HRSCV4 556.5

    But the Lutheran divines removed the scruples of their prince. “It is for a ceremony of the empire,” said they, “as grand-marshal, and not as a Christian, that you are summoned; the Word of God itself, in the history of Naaman, authorizes you to comply with this invitation.” The friends of Zwingle did not think so; their walk was more decided than that of Wittenberg. “The martyrs allowed themselves to be put to death,” said they, “rather than burn a grain of incense before the idols.” Even some of the Protestants, hearing that the Veni Spiritus was to be sung, said, wagging their heads: “We are very much afraid that the chariot of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, having been taken away by the papists, the Holy Ghost, despite their mass, will never reach Augsburg.” Neither these fears nor these objections were listened to.HRSCV4 556.6

    On Monday the 20th June, the emperor and his brother, with the electors and princes of the empire, having entered the cathedral, took their seats on the right side of the choir; on the left were placed the legate, the archbishops, and bishops; in the middle were the ambassadors. Without the choir, in a gallery that overlooked it, were ranged the landgrave and other Protestants, who preferred being at a distance from the host. The elector, bearing the sword, remained upright near the altar at the moment of the adoration. The acolytes, having closed the gates of the choir immediately after, Vincent Pompinello, archbishop of Salerno, preached the sermon. He commenced with the Turks and their ravages, and then, by an unexpected turn, began suddenly to exalt the Turks even above the Germans. “The Turks,” said he, “have but one prince whom they obey; but the Germans have many who obey no one. The Turks live under one sole law, one only custom, one only religion; but among the Germans there are some who are always wishing for new laws, new customs, new religions. They tear the seamless coat of Christ; they abolish by devilish inspirations the sacred doctrines established by unanimous consent, and substitute for them, alas! buffoonery and obscenity. Magnanimous emperor, powerful king!” said he, turning towards Charles and his brother, “sharpen your swords, wield them against these perfidious disturbers of religion, and thus bring them back into the fold of the Church. There is no peace for Germany so long as the sword shall not have entirely eradicated this heresy. O St. Peter and St. Paul! I call upon you; upon you, St. Peter, in order that you may open the stony hearts of these princes with your keys; and upon you, St. Paul, that if they show themselves too rebellious, you may come with your sword, and cut in pieces this unexampled hardness!”HRSCV4 557.1

    This discourse, intermingled with panegyrics of Aristides, Themistocles, Scipio, Cato, the Curtii and Scaevola, being concluded, the emperor and princes arose to make their offerings. Pappenheim returned the sword to the elector, who had intrusted it to him; and the grand-marshal, as well as the margrave, went to the offertory, but with a smile, as it is reported. This fact is but little in harmony with the character of these princes.HRSCV4 557.2

    At length they quitted the cathedral. No one, except the friends of the nuncio, was pleased with the sermon. Even the Archbishop of Mentz was offended at it. “What does he mean,” exclaimed he, “by calling on St. Paul to cut the Germans with his sword?” Nothing but a few inarticulate sounds had been heard in the nave; the Protestants eagerly questioned those of their party who had been present in the choir. “The more these priests inflame people’s minds, and the more they urge their princes to bloody wars,” said Brentz at that time, “the more we must hinder ours from giving way to violence.” Thus spoke a minister of the Gospel of peace after the sermon of the priests of Rome.HRSCV4 557.3

    After the mass of the Holy Ghost, the emperor entered his carriage, and having reached the town-hall, where the sittings of the diet were to take place, took his seat on a throne covered with cloth of gold, while his brother placed himself on a bench in front of him; then all around them were ranged the electors, forty-two sovereign princes, the deputies from the cities, the bishops, and ambassadors, forming, indeed, that illustrious assembly which Luther, six weeks before, had imagined he saw sitting in the air.HRSCV4 557.4

    The count-palatine read the imperial proposition. It referred to two points; the war against the Turks, and the religious controversy. “Sacrificing my private injuries and interests to the common good,” said the emperor, “I have quitted my hereditary kingdoms, to pass, not without great danger, into Italy, and from thence to Germany. I have heard with sorrow of the divisions that have broken out here, and which, striking not only at the imperial majesty, but still more at the commandments of Almighty God, must engender pillage, conflagration, war, and death.” At one o’clock the emperor, accompanied by all the princes, returned to his palace.HRSCV4 557.5

    On the same day the elector gathered around him all his co-religionists, whom the emperor’s speech had greatly excited, and exhorted them not to be turned aside by any threats from a cause which was that of God himself. All seemed penetrated with this expression of Scripture: “Speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us.”HRSCV4 557.6

    The elector had a heavy burden to bear. Not only had he to walk at the head of the princes, but he had further to defend himself against the enervating influence of Melancthon. Throughout the whole of the diet this prince offers to our notice no mere abstraction of the state, but the noblest individuality. Early on Tuesday morning, feeling the necessity of that invisible strength which, according to a beautiful figure in the Holy Scriptures, causes us to ride upon the high places of the earth; and seeing, as was usual, his domestics, his councillors, and his son assembled around him, John begged them affectionately to withdraw. He knew that it was only be kneeling humbly before God that he could stand with courage before Charles. Alone in his chamber, he opened and read the Psalms; then falling on his knees, he offered up the most fervent prayer to God; next, wishing to confirm himself in the immovable fidelity that he had just vowed to the Lord, he went to his desk, and there committed his resolutions to writing. Dolzig and Melancthon afterwards saw these lines, and were filled with admiration as they read them.HRSCV4 558.1

    Being thus tempered anew in heavenly thoughts, John took up the imperial proposition, and meditated over it; then, having called in his son and the chancellor Bruck, and Melancthon shortly after, they all agreed that the deliberations of the diet ought to commence with the affairs of religion; and his allies, who were consulted, concurred in this advice.HRSCV4 558.2

    The legate had conceived a plan diametrically opposed to this. He desired to stifle the religious question, and for this end required that the princes should examine it in a secret committee. The evangelical Christians entertained no doubt that if the truth was proclaimed in the great council of the nation, it would gain the victory; but the more they desired a public confession, the more it was dreaded by the pope’s friends. The latter wished to take their adversaries by silence, without confession, without discussion, as a city is taken by famine without fighting and without a storm: to gag the Reformation, and thus reduce it to powerlessness and death, were their tactics. To have silenced the preachers was not enough: the princes must be silenced also. They wished to shut up the Reformation as in a dungeon, and there leave it to die, thinking they would thus get rid of it more surely than by leading it to the scaffold.HRSCV4 558.3

    This plan was well conceived: it now remained to be put in execution, and for that purpose it was necessary to persuade the Protestants that such a method would be the surest for them. The person selected for this intrigue was Alphonso Valdez, secretary to Charles V, a Spanish gentleman, a worthy individual, and who afterwards showed a leaning towards the Reformation. Policy often makes use of good men for the most perfidious designs. It was decided that Valdez should address the most timid of the Protestants—Melancthon.HRSCV4 558.4

    On the 16th or 17th of June, immediately after the arrival of Charles, Valdez begged Melancthon to call on him. “The Spaniards,” said he, “imagine that the Lutherans teach impious doctrines on the Holy Trinity, on Jesus Christ, on the blessed Mother of God. Accordingly, they think they do a more meritorious work in killing a Lutheran than in slaying a Turk.”HRSCV4 558.5

    “I know it,” replied Melancthon, “and I have not yet been able to succeed in making your fellow-countrymen abandon that idea.”HRSCV4 558.6

    “But what, pray, do the Lutherans desire?”HRSCV4 558.7

    “The Lutheran question is not so complicated and so unseemly as his majesty fancies. We do not attack the Catholic Church, as is commonly believed; and the whole controversy is reducible to these three points. The two kinds in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the marriage of pastors, and the abolition of private masses. If we could agree on these articles, it would be easy to come to an understanding on the others.”HRSCV4 558.8

    “Well, I will report this to his majesty.”HRSCV4 558.9

    Charles V was charmed at this communication. “Go,” said he to Valdez, “and impart these things to the legate, and ask Master Philip to transmit to you in writing a short exposition of what they believe and what they deny.”HRSCV4 558.10

    Valdez hastened to Campeggio. “What you relate pleases me tolerably,” said the latter. “As for the two kinds in the sacrament, and the marriage of priests, there will be means of accommodation; but we cannot consent to the abolition of private masses.” This would have been in fact cutting off one of the greatest revenues of the Church.HRSCV4 558.11

    On Saturday, June 18th, Valdez saw Melancthon again. “The emperor begs of you a moderate and concise exposition,” said he, “and he is persuaded that it will be more advantageous to treat of this matter briefly and privately, avoiding all public hearing and all prolix discussion, which would only engender anger and division.”—“Well,” said Melancthon, “I will reflect upon it.”HRSCV4 558.12

    Melancthon was almost won over: a secret conference agreed better with his disposition. Had he not often repeated that peace should be sought after above all things? Thus everything induced the legate to hope that a public struggle would be avoided, and that he might be content, as it were, to send mutes against the Reform, and strangle it in a dungeon.HRSCV4 559.1

    Fortunately the chancellor and the Elector Frederick did not think fit to entertain the propositions with which Charles had commissioned the worthy Valdez. The resolution of these lay members of the Church saved it from the false step its doctors were about to take; and the wiles of the Italians failed against evangelical firmness. Melancthon was only permitted to lay the Confession before the Spaniard, that he might look into it, and in despite of the moderation employed in it, Valdez exclaimed: “These words are too bitter, and your adversaries will never put up with them!” Thus finished the legate’s manoeuvre.HRSCV4 559.2

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