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    Chapter 3

    Profitable Calm—Constitution of the Church—Philip of Hesse—The Monk of Marburg—Lambert’s Paradoxes—Friar Boniface—Disputation at Homburg—Triumph of the Gospel in Hesse—Constitution of the Church—Bishops—Synods—Two Elements of the Church—Luther on the Ministry—Organization of the Church—Luther’s Contradictions on State Interference—Luther to the Elector—German Mass—Melancthon’s Instructions—Disaffection—Visitation of the Reformed Churches—Results—The Reformation advances—Elizabeth of Brandenburg

    The Reformation needed some years of repose that it might increase and gain strength; and it could not enjoy peace, unless its great enemies were at war with each other. The madness of Clement VII was as it were the lightning-conductor of the Reformation, and the ruins of Rome built up the Gospel. It was not only a few months’ gain; from 1526 to 1529 there was a calm in Germany, by which the Reformation profited to organize and extend itself. A constitution was now to be given to the renovated Church.HRSCV4 506.4

    As the papal yoke had been broken, the ecclesiastical order required to be re-established. It was impossible to restore their ancient jurisdiction to the bishops; for these continental prelates maintained that they were, in an especial manner, the pope’s servants. A new state of things was therefore called for, under pain of seeing the Church fall into anarchy. This was immediately provided against. It was then that the evangelical nations separated definitely from that despotic dominion which had for ages kept all the West in bondage.HRSCV4 506.5

    The diet had already on two occasions wished to make the reform of the Church a national work; the emperor, the pope, and a few princes were opposed to it; the diet of Spires had therefore resigned to each state the task that it could not accomplish itself.HRSCV4 506.6

    But what constitution were they about to substitute for the papal hierarchy?HRSCV4 506.7

    They could, while suppressing the pope, preserve the Episcopal order: it was the form nearest approximating that which was on the point of being destroyed. This was done in England, where we have an Episcopalian Church; but, as we have just observed, it could not be realized on the continent. There were no Latimers, no Cranmers among the continental bishops.HRSCV4 506.8

    They might, on the contrary, reconstruct the ecclesiastical order, by having recourse to the sovereignty of God’s Word, and by re-establishing the rights of the christian people. This form was the most remote from the Roman hierarchy. Between these two extremes there were several middle courses.HRSCV4 506.9

    The latter plan was Zwingle’s: but the reformer of Zurich had not fully carried it out. He had not called upon the christian people to exercise the sovereignty, and had stopped at the Council of Two Hundred as representing the Church. The step before which Zwingle had hesitated might be taken, and it was so. A prince did not shrink from what had alarmed even republicans. Evangelical Germany, at the moment when she began to try her hand on ecclesiastical constitutions, began with that which trenched deepest on the papal monarchy.HRSCV4 507.1

    It was not, however, from Germany that such a system could proceed. If aristocratic England was destined to cling to the episcopal form, docile Germany was destined the rather to stop in a governmental medium. The democratic extreme issued from Switzerland and France. One of Calvin’s predecessors now hoisted that flag which the powerful arm of the Genevese Reformer was to lift again in after-years and plant in France, Switzerland, Holland, Scotland, and even in England, whence it was a century later to cross the Atlantic and summon North America to take its rank among the nations.HRSCV4 507.2

    Philip of Hesse, who has been compared to Philip of Macedon in subtlety, and to his son Alexander in courage, was the most enterprising of all the evangelical princes. Philip comprehended that religion was at length acquiring its due importance; and far from opposing the great development that was agitating the people, he put himself in harmony with the new ideas.HRSCV4 507.3

    The morning-star had risen for Hesse almost at the same time as for Saxony. In 1517, when Luther in Wittenberg was preaching the gratuitous remission of sins, men and women in Marburg were seen repairing secretly to one of the ditches of the city, and there, collected round a solitary loophole, listening eagerly to the words of consolation that issued from within. It was the voice of the Franciscan, James Limburg, who having declared that for fifteen centuries the priests had falsified the Gospel of Christ, had been thrown into this gloomy dungeon. These mysterious assemblies lasted a fortnight. On a sudden the voice was silent; these lonely meetings had been discovered, and the Franciscan, torn from his cell, had been hurried away across the Lahnberg towards some unknown spot. Not far from the Ziegenberg, some weeping citizens of Marburg came up with him, and hastily pulling aside the awning that covered his car, they asked him, “Whither are you going?” “Where God wills,” calmly replied the friar. He was never heard of again, and it is not known what became of him. These disappearances are usual in the papacy.HRSCV4 507.4

    No sooner had Philip prevailed in the Diet of Spires, than he resolved on devoting himself to the reformation of his hereditary states.HRSCV4 507.5

    His resolute character made him incline towards the Swiss reform: it was not therefore one of the moderates that he wanted. He had formed a connection at Spires with James Sturm, the deputy from Strasburg, who spoke to him of Francis Lambert of Avignon, who was then at Strasburg. Of a pleasing exterior and decided character, Lambert combined with the fire of the south all the perseverance of the north. He was the first in France to throw off the cowl, and from that time he had never ceased to call for a thorough reform in the Church. “Formerly,” said he, “when I was a hypocrite, I lived in abundance; now I consume frugally my daily bread with my small family; but I had rather be poor in Christ’s kingdom, than possess abundance of gold in the dissolute dwellings of the pope.” The landgrave saw that Lambert was just the man he required, and invited him to his court.HRSCV4 507.6

    Lambert, desiring to clear the way for the Reformation of Hesse, drew up one hundred and fifty-eight theses, which he entitled “paradoxes,” and posted them, according to the custom of the times, on the church doors.HRSCV4 507.7

    Friends and enemies immediately crowded round them. Some Roman-catholics would have torn them down, but the reformed townspeople kept watch, and holding a synod in the public square, discussed, developed, and proved these propositions, ridiculing at the same time the anger of the papists.HRSCV4 507.8

    Boniface Dornemann, a young priest, full of self-conceit, whom the bishop, on the day of his consecration, had extolled above Paul for his learning, and above the Virgin for his chastity, finding himself too short to reach Lambert’s placard, borrowed a stool, and, surrounded by a numerous audience, began to read the propositions aloud.HRSCV4 507.9

    “All that is deformed ought to be reformed. The Word of God alone teaches us what ought to be so, and all reform that is effected otherwise is vain.”HRSCV4 507.10

    This was the first thesis. “Hem!” said the young priest, “I shall not attack that.” He continued.HRSCV4 507.11

    “It belongs to the Church to judge on matters of faith. Now the Church is the congregation of those who are united by the same spirit, the same faith, the same God, the same Mediator, the same Word, by which alone they are governed, and in which alone they have life.”HRSCV4 507.12

    “I cannot attack that proposition,” said the priest. He continued reading from his stool.HRSCV4 508.1

    “The Word is the true key. The kingdom of heaven is open to him who believes the Word, and shut against him who believes it not. Whoever, therefore, truly possesses the Word of God, has the power of the keys. All other keys, all the decrees of the councils and popes, and all the rules of the monks, are valueless.”HRSCV4 508.2

    Friar Boniface shook his head and continued.HRSCV4 508.3

    “Since the priesthood of the Law has been abolished, Christ is the only immortal and eternal priest, and he does not, like men, need a successor. Neither the Bishop of Rome nor any other person in the world is his representative here below. But all Christians, since the commencement of the Church, have been and are participators in his priesthood.”HRSCV4 508.4

    This proposition smelt of heresy. Dornemann, however, was not discouraged; and whether it was from weakness of mind, or from the dawning of light, at each proposition that did not too much shock his prejudices, he repeated: “Certainly, I shall not attack that one!” The people listened in astonishment, when one of them—whether he was a fanatical Romanist, a fanatical reformer, or a mischievous wag, I cannot tell—tired with these continual repetitions, exclaimed: “Get down, you knave, who cannot find a word to impugn.” Then rudely pulling away the stool, he threw the unfortunate clerk flat in the mud.HRSCV4 508.5

    On the 21st October, at seven in the morning, the gates of the principal church at Homburg were thrown open, and prelates, abbots, priests, counts, knights, and deputies of the towns, entered in succession, and among them was Philip, in his quality of first member of the church.HRSCV4 508.6

    After Lambert had explained and proved his theses, he added: “Let him stand forth who has anything to say against them.” At first there was a profound silence; but at length Nicholas Ferber, superior of the Franciscans of Marburg, who in 1524, applying to Rome’s favorite argument, had entreated the Landgrave to employ the sword against the heretics, began to speak with drooping head and downcast eyes. As he invoked Augustin, Peter Lombard, and other doctors to his assistance, the landgrave observed to him: “Do not put forward the wavering opinions of men, but the Word of God, which alone fortifies and strengthens out hearts.” The Franciscan sat down in confusion, saying, “This is not the place for replying.” The disputation, however, recommenced, and Lambert, showing all the power of truth, so astonished his adversary, that the superior, alarmed at what he called “thunders of blasphemy and lightnings of impiety,” sat down again, observing a second time, “This is not the place for replying.”HRSCV4 508.7

    In vain did the Chancellor Feige declare to him that each man had the right of maintaining his opinion with full liberty; in vain did the landgrave himself exclaim that the Church was sighing after truth: silence had become Rome’s refuge. “I will defend the doctrine of purgatory,” a priest had said prior to the discussion; “I will attack the paradoxes under the sixth head (on the true priesthood),” had said another; and a third had exclaimed, “I will overthrow those under the tenth head (on images);” but now they were all dumb.HRSCV4 508.8

    Upon this Lambert, clasping his hands, exclaimed with Zacharias: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.HRSCV4 508.9

    After three days of discussion, which had been a continual triumph for the evangelical doctrine, men were selected and commissioned to constitute the churches of Hesse in accordance with the Word of God. They were more than three days occupied in the task, and their new constitution was then published in the name of the synod.HRSCV4 508.10

    The first ecclesiastical constitution produced by the Reformation should have a place in history, and the more so as it was then put forward as a model for the new churches of Christendom.HRSCV4 508.11

    The autonomy or self-government of the Church is its fundamental principle: it is from the Church, from its representatives assembled in the name of the Lord, that this legislation emanates; there is no mention in the prologue either of state or of landgrave. Philip, content with having broken for himself and for his people the yoke of a foreign priest, had no desire to put himself in his place, and was satisfied with that external superintendence which is necessary for the maintenance of order.HRSCV4 508.12

    A second distinctive feature in this constitution is its simplicity both of government and worship. The assembly conjures all future synods not to load the churches with a multitude of ordinances, “seeing that where orders abound, disorder superabounds.” They would not even continue the organs in the churches, because, said they, “men should understand what they hear.” The more the human mind has been bent in one direction, the more violent is the reaction when it is unbent. The Church passed at that time from the extreme of symbols to the extreme of simplicity. These are the principal features of this constitution:—HRSCV4 508.13

    “The Church can only be taught and governed by the Word of its Sovereign Pastor. Whoever has recourse to any other word shall be deposed and excommunicated.HRSCV4 509.1

    “Every pious man, learned in the Word of God, whatever be his condition, may be elected bishop if he desire it, for he is called inwardly of God.HRSCV4 509.2

    “Let no one believe that by a bishop we understand anything else than a simple minister of the Word of God.HRSCV4 509.3

    “The ministers are servants, and consequently they ought not to be lords, princes, or governors.HRSCV4 509.4

    “Let the faithful assemble and choose their bishops and deacons. Each church should elect its own pastor.HRSCV4 509.5

    “Let those who are elected bishops be consecrated to their office by the imposition of the hands of three bishops; and as for the deacons, if there are no ministers present, let them receive the laying on of hands from the elders of the Church.HRSCV4 509.6

    “If a bishop causes any scandal to the Church by his effeminacy, by the splendor of his garments, or by the levity of conduct, and if, on being warned, he persists, let him be deposed by the Church.HRSCV4 509.7

    “Let each church place its bishop in a condition to live with his family, and to be hospitable, as St. Paul enjoins; but let the bishops exact nothing for their casual duties.HRSCV4 509.8

    “On every Sunday let there be in some suitable place an assembly of all the men who are in the number of the saints, to regulate with the bishop, according to God’s Word, all the affairs of the Church, and to excommunicate whoever gives occasion of scandal to the Church; for the Church of Christ has never existed without exercising the power of excommunication.HRSCV4 509.9

    “As a weekly assembly is necessary for the direction of the particular churches, so a general synod should be held annually for the direction of all the churches in the country.HRSCV4 509.10

    “All the pastors are its natural members; but each church shall further elect from its body a man full of the Spirit and of faith, to whom it shall intrust its powers for all that is in the jurisdiction of the synod.HRSCV4 509.11

    “Three visitors shall be elected yearly, with commission to go through all the churches, to examine those who have been elected bishops, to confirm those who have been approved of, and to provide for the execution of the decrees of the synod.”HRSCV4 509.12

    It will no doubt be found that this first evangelical constitution went in some points to the extreme of ecclesiastical democracy; but certain institutions had crept in that were capable of increase and of changing its nature. Six superintendents for life were afterwards substituted for the three annual visitors (who, according to the primitive institution, might be simple members of the church); and, as has been remarked, the encroachments, whether of these superintendents or of the state, gradually paralyzed the activity and independence of the churches of Hesse. This constitution fared like that of the Abbe Sieyes, in the year 8 (A.D. 1799), which although intended to be republican, served through the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte to establish the despotism of the empire.HRSCV4 509.13

    It was not the less a remarkable work. Romish doctors have reproached the Reformation for making the Church a too interior institution. In effect, the Reformation and Popery recognize two elements in the Church,—the one exterior, the other interior; but while Popery gives precedence to the former, the Reformation assigns it to the latter. If however it be a reproach against the Reformation for having an inward Church only, and for not creating an external one, the remarkable constitution of which we have just exhibited a few features, will save us the trouble of replying. The exterior ecclesiastical order, which then sprang from the very heart of the Reformation, is far more perfect than that of Popery.HRSCV4 509.14

    One great question presented itself: Will these principles be adopted by all the Churches of the Reformation?HRSCV4 509.15

    Everything seemed to indicate that they would. At that time the most pious men were of opinion, that the ecclesiastical power proceeded from the members of the Church. On withdrawing from the hierarchical extreme, they flung themselves into a democratical one. Luther himself had professed this doctrine as early as 1523. When the Calixtins of Bohemia found that the bishops of their country refused them ministers, they had gone so far as to take the first vagabond priest. “If you have no other means of procuring pastors,” wrote Luther to them, “rather do without them, and let each head of a family read the Gospel in his own house, and baptize his children, sighing after the sacrament of the altar as the Jews at Babylon did for Jerusalem.” The consecration of the pope creates priests—not of God, but of the devil, ordained solely to trample Jesus Christ under foot, to bring his sacrifice to naught, and to sell imaginary holocausts to the world in his name. Men become ministers only by election and calling, and that ought to be effected in the following manner:—HRSCV4 509.16

    “First, seek God by prayer; then being assembled together with all those whose hearts God has touched, choose in the Lord’s name him or them whom you shall have acknowledged to be fitted for this ministry. After that, let the chief men among you lay their hands on them, and recommend them to the people and to the Church.”HRSCV4 510.1

    Luther, in thus calling upon the people alone to nominate their pastors, submitted to the necessities of the times in Bohemia. It was requisite to constitute the ministry; and as the ministry had no existence, it could not then have the legitimate part that belongs to it in the choice of God’s ministers.HRSCV4 510.2

    But another necessity, proceeding in like manner from the state of affairs, was to incline Luther to deviate in Saxony from the principles he had formerly laid down.HRSCV4 510.3

    It can hardly be said that the German Reformation began with the lower classes, as in Switzerland and France; and Luther could scarcely find anywhere that christian people, which should have played so great a part in his new constitution. Ignorant men, conceited townspeople, who would not even maintain their ministers—these were the members of the Church. Now what could be done with such elements?HRSCV4 510.4

    But if the people were indifferent, the princes were not so. They stood in the foremost rank of the great battle of the Reformation, and sat on the first bench in the council. The democratic organization was therefore compelled to give way to an organization conformable to the civil government. The Church is composed of Christians, and they are taken wherever they are found—high or low. It was particularly in high stations that Luther found them. He admitted the princes (as Zwingle did the Council of Two Hundred) as representatives of the people, and henceforward the influence of the State became one of the principal elements in the constitution of the evangelical Church in Germany.HRSCV4 510.5

    Thus Luther, setting out in principle from the democratic, arrived in fact at the Erastian extreme. Never perhaps was there so immense a space between the premises laid down by any man and the conduct he adopted. If Luther crossed that wide interval without hesitation, it was not from mere inconsistency on his part; he yielded to the necessities of the times. The rules of Church government are not, like the doctrines of the Gospel, of an absolute nature; their application depends in a measure on the state of the Church. Nevertheless there was some inconsistency in Luther: he often expressed himself in a contradictory manner on what princes ought and ought not to do in the Church. This is a point upon which the reformer and his age had no very settled opinions: there were other questions to be cleared up.HRSCV4 510.6

    In the mind of the reformer the tutelage of the princes was only to be provisional. The faithful being still in their minority, they had need of a guardian: but the era of the Church’s majority might arrive, and then would come its emancipation.HRSCV4 510.7

    As we said in another place, we will not decide on this great controversy of Church and State. But there are certain ideas which can never be forgotten. God is the principle from which every being emanates, and who ought to govern the whole world—societies as well as individuals—the State not less than the Church. God has to do with governments, and governments with God. The great truths of which the Church is the depository are given from above to exert their influence on the whole nation,—on him who is seated on the throne, as well as on the peasant in his cottage: and it is not only as an individual that the prince must be partaker of this heavenly light; it is also that he may receive a Divine wisdom as governor of his people. God must be in the State. To place nations, governments, social and political life on one side,—and God, his Word, and his Church on the other, as if there were a great gulf between them, and that these two orders of things should never meet,—would be at once high treason against man and against God.HRSCV4 510.8

    But if there ought to be a close union between these two spheres (the Church and State), we ought to seek the means best calculated to obtain it. Now, if the direction of the Church is intrusted to the civil government, as was the case in Saxony, there is great reason to fear lest the reality of this union should be comprised, and the infiltration of heavenly strength into the body of the nation be obstructed. The Church administered by a civil department will often be sacrificed to political ends, and, gradually becoming secularized, will lose its pristine vigor. This at least has taken place in Germany, where in some places religion has sunk to the rank of a temporal administration. In order that any created being may exercise all the influence of which it is capable, it ought to have a free development. Let a tree grow unconfined in the open fields, you will better enjoy its cool shade, and gather more abundant fruits, than if you planted it in a vase and shut it up in your chamber. Such a tree is the Church of Christ.HRSCV4 510.9

    The recourse to the civil power, which was perhaps at that time necessary in Germany, had still another consequence; when Protestantism became an affair of governments it ceased to be universal. The new spirit was capable of creating a new earth. But instead of opening new roads and of purposing the regeneration of all Christendom and the conversion of the whole world, Protestantism shrank back, and Protestants sought to settle themselves as comfortably as possible in a few German duchies. This timidity, which has been called prudence, did immense injury to the Reformation.HRSCV4 511.1

    The organizing power being once discovered in the councils of the princes, the reformers thought of organization, and Luther applied to the task; for although he was in an especial manner an assailant and Calvin an organizer, these two qualities, as necessary to the reformers of the Church as to the founders of empires, were not wanting in either of these great servants of God.HRSCV4 511.2

    It was necessary to compose a new ministry, for most of the priests who had quitted the papacy were content to receive the watchword of Reform without having personally experienced the sanctifying virtue of the truth. There was even one parish in which the priest preached the Gospel in his principal church, and sang mass in its succursal.HRSCV4 511.3

    But something more was wanting: a christian people had to be created. “Alas!” said Luther of some of the adherents of the Reform, “they have abandoned their Romish doctrines and rites, and they scoff at ours.”HRSCV4 511.4

    Luther did not shrink from before this double necessity; and he made provision for it. Convinced that a general visitation of the churches was necessary, he addressed the elector on this subject, on the 22nd October 1526. “Your highness, in your quality of guardian of youth, and of all those who know not how to take care of themselves,” said he, “should compel the inhabitants, who desire neither pastors nor schools, to receive these means of grace, as they are compelled to work on the roads, on bridges, and such like services. The papal order being abolished, it is your duty to regulate these things: no other person cares about them, no other can, and no other ought to do so. Commission, therefore, four persons to visit all the country; let two of them inquire into the tithes and church property; and let two take charge of the doctrine, schools, churches, and pastors.” It may be asked, on reading these words, whether the Church which was formed in the first century without the support of princes, could not in the sixteenth be reformed without them?HRSCV4 511.5

    Luther was not content with soliciting in writing the intervention of the prince. He was indignant at seeing the courtiers, who in the time of the Elector Frederick had shown themselves the inveterate enemies of the Reformation, now rushing, “sporting, laughing, skipping,” as he said, on the spoils of the Church. Accordingly, at the end of this year, the elector having come to Wittenberg, the reformer repaired immediately to the palace, made his complaint to the prince-electoral, whom he met at the gate, and then, without caring about those who would have stopped him, forced his way into the elector’s bedchamber, and addressing this prince, who was surprised at so unexpected a visit, begged him to remedy the evils of the Church. The visitation of the churches was resolved upon, and Melancthon was commissioned to draw up the necessary instructions.HRSCV4 511.6

    In 1526, Luther published his “German Mass,” by which he signified the order of church service in general. “The real evangelical assemblies,” he said, “do not take place publicly, pell-mell, admitting people of every sort; but they are formed of serious Christians, who confess the Gospel by their words and by their lives, and in the midst of whom we may reprove and excommunicate those who do not live according to the rule of Christ Jesus. I cannot institute such assemblies, for I have no one to place in them; but if the thing becomes possible, I shall not be wanting in this duty.”HRSCV4 511.7

    It was with a conviction that he must give the Church, not the best form of worship imaginable, but the best possible, that Melancthon, like Luther, labored at his Instructions.HRSCV4 511.8

    The German Reformation at that time tacked about, as it were. If Lambert in Hesse had gone to the extreme of a democratical system, Melancthon in Saxony was approximating the contrary extreme of traditional principles. A conservative principle was substituted for a reforming one. Melancthon wrote to one of the inspectors: “All the old ceremonies that you can preserve, pray do so. Do not innovate much, for every innovation is injurious to the people.”HRSCV4 511.9

    They retained, therefore, the Latin liturgy, a few German hymns being mingled with it; the communion in one kind for those only who scrupled from habit to take it in both; a confession made to the priest without being in any way obligatory; many saints’ days, the sacred vestments, and other rites, “in which,” said Melancthon, “there is no harm, whatever Zwingle may say.” And at the same time they set forth with reserve the doctrines of the Reformation.HRSCV4 512.1

    It is but right to confess the dominion of facts and circumstances upon these ecclesiastical organizations; but there is a dominion which rises higher still—that of the Word of God.HRSCV4 512.2

    Perhaps Melancthon did all that could be effected at that time; but it was necessary for the work to be one day resumed and re-established on its primitive plan, and this was Calvin’s glory.HRSCV4 512.3

    A cry of astonishment was heard both from the camp of Rome and from that of the Reformation. “Our cause is betrayed,” exclaimed some of the evangelical Christians: “the liberty is taken away that Jesus Christ had given us.”HRSCV4 512.4

    On their part the Ultramontanists triumphed in Melancthon’s moderation: they called it a retractation, and took advantage of it to insult the Reform. Cochloeus published a “horrible” engraving, as he styles it himself, in which, from beneath the same hood was seen issuing a seven-headed monster representing Luther. Each of these heads had different features, and all, uttering together the most frightful and contradictory words, kept disputing, tearing, and devouring each other.HRSCV4 512.5

    The astonished Elector resolved to communicate Melancthon’s paper to Luther. But never did the reformer’s respect for his friend show itself in a more striking manner. He made only one or two unimportant additions to this plan, and sent it back accompanied with the highest eulogiums. The Romanists said that the tiger caught in a net was licking the hands that clipped his talons. But it was not so. Luther knew that the aim of Melancthon’s labors was to strengthen the very soul of the Reformation in all the churches of Saxony. That was sufficient for him. He thought besides, that in every thing there must be a transition; and being justly convinced that his friend was more than himself a man of transition, he frankly accepted his views.HRSCV4 512.6

    The general visitation began. Luther in Saxony, Spalatin in the districts of Altenburg and Zwickau, Melancthon in Thuringia, and Thuring in Franconia, with ecclesiastical deputies and several lay colleagues, commenced the work in October and November 1528.HRSCV4 512.7

    They purified the clergy by dismissing every priest of scandalous life; assigned a portion of the church property to the maintenance of public worship, and placed the remainder beyond the reach of plunder. They continued the suppression of the convents, and everywhere established unity of instruction. “Luther’s greater and smaller catechisms,” which appeared in 1529, contributed more perhaps than any other writings to propagate throughout the new churches the ancient faith of the apostles. The visitors commissioned the pastors of the great towns, under the title of superintendents, to watch over the churches and the schools; they maintained the abolition of celibacy; and the ministers of the Word, become husbands and fathers, formed the germ of a third estate, whence in after-years were diffused in all ranks of society learning, activity, and light. This is one of the truest causes of that intellectual and moral superiority which indisputably distinguishes the evangelical nations.HRSCV4 512.8

    The organization of the churches in Saxony, notwithstanding its imperfections, produced for a time at least the most important results. It was because the Word of God prevailed; and because, wherever this Word exercises its power, secondary errors and abuses are paralyzed. The very discretion that was employed really originated in a good principle. The reformers, unlike the enthusiasts, did not utterly reject an institution because it was corrupted. They did not say, for example, “The sacraments are disfigured, let us do without them! the ministry is corrupt, let us reject it!”—but they rejected the abuse, and restored the use. This prudence is the mark of a work of God; and if Luther sometimes permitted the chaff to remain along with the wheat, Calvin appeared later, and more thoroughly purged the christian threshing-floor.HRSCV4 512.9

    The organization which was at that time going on in Saxony, exerted a strong reaction on all the German empire, and the doctrine of the Gospel advanced with gigantic strides. God’s design in turning aside from the reformed states of Germany the thunderbolt that he caused to fall upon the seven-hilled city, was clearly manifest. Never were years more usefully employed; and it was not only to framing a constitution that the Reformation devoted itself, it was also to extend its doctrine.HRSCV4 512.10

    The duchies of Luneburg and Brunswick, many of the most important imperial cities, as Nuremberg, Augsburg, Ulm, Strasburg, Gottingen, Gosslar, Nordhausen, Lubeck, Bremen, and Hamburg, removed the tapers from the chapels, and substituted in their place the brighter torch of the Word of God.HRSCV4 513.1

    In vain did the frightened canons allege the authority of the Church. “The authority of the Church,” replied Kempe and Zechenhagen, the reformer of Hamburg, “cannot be acknowledged unless the Church herself obeys her pastor Jesus Christ.” Pomeranus visited many places to put a finishing hand to the Reform.HRSCV4 513.2

    In Franconia, the Margrave George of Brandenburg, having reformed Anspach and Bayreuth, wrote to his ancient protector, Ferdinand of Austria, who had knit his brows on being informed of these proceedings: “I have acted thus by God’s order; for he commands princes to take care not only of the bodies of their subjects, but also of their souls.”HRSCV4 513.3

    In East Friesland, on new-year’s day 1527, a Dominican named Resius, having put on his hood, ascended the pulpit at Noorden, and declared himself ready to maintain certain theses according to the tenor of the Gospel. After silencing the Abbot of Noorden by the soundness of his arguments, Resius took off his cowl, left it on the pulpit, and was received in the nave by the acclamations of the faithful. Erelong the whole of Friesland laid aside the uniform of popery, as Resius had done.HRSCV4 513.4

    At Berlin, Elizabeth, electress of Brandenburg, having read Luther’s works, felt a desire to receive the Lord’s Supper in conformity with Christ’s institution. A minister secretly administered it at the festival of Easter, 1528; but one of her children informed the elector. Joachim was greatly exasperated, and ordered his wife to keep her room for several days; it was even rumored that he intended shutting her up. This princess, being deprived of all religious support, and mistrusting the perfidious manoeuvers of the Romish priests, resolved to escape by flight; and claimed the assistance of her brother, Christian II of Denmark, then residing at Torgau. Taking advantage of a dark night, she quitted the castle in a peasant’s dress, and got into a rude country-wagon that was waiting for her at the gate of the city. Elizabeth urged on the driver, when, in a bad road, the wain broke down. The electress, hastily unfastening a handkerchief she wore round her head, flung it to the man, who employed it in repairing the damage, and erelong Elizabeth arrived at Torgau. “If I should expose you to any risk,” said she to her uncle, the Elector of Saxony, “I am ready to go wherever Providence may lead me.” But John assigned her a residence in the castle of Lichtenberg, on the Elbe, near Wittenberg. Without taking upon us to approve of Elizabeth’s flight, let us acknowledge the good that God’s Providence derived from it. This amiable lady, who lived at Lichtenberg in the study of His Word, seldom appearing at court, frequently going to hear Luther’s sermons, and exercising a salutary influence over her children, who sometimes had permission to see her, was the first of those pious princesses whom the house of Brandenburg has counted, and even still counts, among its members.HRSCV4 513.5

    At the same time, Holstein, Sleswick, and Silesia decided in favor of the Reformation: and Hungary, as well as Bohemia, saw the number of its adherents increase.HRSCV4 513.6

    In every place, instead of a hierarchy seeking its righteousness in the works of man, its glory in external pomp, its strength in a material power, the Church of Apostles reappeared, humble as in primitive times, and like the ancient Christians, looking for its righteousness, its glory, and its power solely in the blood of the Lamb and in the Word of God.HRSCV4 513.7

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