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    Chapter 11

    The Mixed Commission—The Three Points—Romish Dissimulation—Abuses—Concessions—The Main Question—Bishops and Pope conceded—Danger of Concession—Opposition to the pretended Concord—Luther’s opposing Letters—The Word above the Church—Melancthon’s Blindness—Papist Infatuation—A new Commission—Be Men and not Women—The Two Phantoms—Concessions—The Three Points—The great Antithesis—Failure of Conciliation—The Gordian Knot—A Council granted—Charles’s Summons—Menaces—Altercations—Peace or War—Romanism concedes—Protestantism resists—Luther recalls his Friends

    The diet now entered upon its third phasis, and as the time of tentatives had been followed by that of menaces; now that of arrangements was to succeed the period of threatenings. New and more formidable dangers were then to be encountered by the Reformation. Rome, beholding the sword torn from its grasp, had seized the net, and enlacing her adversaries with “cords of humanity and bands of love,” was endeavouring to drag them gently into the abyss.HRSCV4 584.2

    At eight o’clock in the morning of the 16th August, a mixed commission was framed, which counted on each side two princes, two lawyers, and three theologians. In the Romish party, there were Duke Henry of Brunswick, the Bishop of Augsburg, the Chancellors of Baden and Cologne, with Eck, Cochloeus, and Wimpina; on the part of the Protestants, were the Margrave George of Brandenburg, the Prince Electoral of Saxony, the Chancellors Bruck and Heller, with Melancthon, Brentz, and Schnepf.HRSCV4 584.3

    They agreed to take as basis the Confession of the evangelical states, and began to read it article by article. The Romish theologians displayed an unexpected condescension. Out of twenty-one dogmatical articles, there were only six or seven to which they made any objection. Original Sin stopped them some time; at length they came to an understanding; the Protestants admitted that Baptism removed the guilt of the sin, and the Papists agreed that it did not wash away concupiscence. As for the Church, they granted that it contained sanctified men and sinners; they coincided also on Confession. The Protestants rejected especially as impossible the enumeration of all the sins prescribed by Rome. Dr. Eck yielded this point.HRSCV4 584.4

    There remained three doctrines only on which they differed.HRSCV4 584.5

    The first was that of Penance. The Romish doctors taught that it contained three parts: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. The Protestants rejected the latter, and the Romanists clearly perceiving that with satisfaction would fall indulgences, purgatory, and other of their doctrines and profits, vigorously maintained it. “We agree,” said they, “that the penance imposed by the priest does not procure remission of the guilt of sin: but we maintain that it is necessary to obtain remission of the penalty.”HRSCV4 584.6

    The second controverted point was the Invocation of Saints; and the third, and principal one, Justification by Faith. It was of the greatest importance for the Romanists to maintain the meritorious influence of works: all their system in reality was based on that. Eck therefore haughtily declared war on the assertion that faith alone justifies. “That word sole,” said he, “we cannot tolerate. It generates scandals, and renders men brutal and impious. Let us send back the sole to the cobbler.”HRSCV4 584.7

    But the Protestants would not listen to such reasoning; and even when they put the question to each other, Shall we maintain that faith alone justifies us gratuitously? “Undoubtedly, undoubtedly,” exclaimed one of them with exaggeration, “gratuitously and uselessly.” They even adduced strange authorities: “Plato,” said they, “declares that it is not by external works, but by virtue that God is to be adored; and everyone knows these verses of Cato’s:HRSCV4 584.8

    Si deus est animus, nobis ut carmina dicunt,HRSCV4 584.9

    Hic tibi praecipue pura sit mente colendus.”HRSCV4 584.10

    “Certainly,” resumed the Romish theologians: “it is only of works performed with grace that we speak; but we say that in such works there is something meritorious.” The Protestants declared they could not grant it.HRSCV4 584.11

    They had approximated however beyond all hope. The Roman theologians, clearly understanding their position, had purposed to appear agreed rather than be so in reality. Every one knew, for instance, that the Protestants rejected transubstantiation: but the article of the Confession on this point, being able to be taken in the Romish sense, the Papists had admitted it. Their triumph was only deferred. The general expressions that were used on the controverted points, would permit somewhat later a Romish interpretation to be given to the Confession; ecclesiastical authority would declare this the only true one; and Rome, thanks to a few moments of dissimulation, would thus reascend the throne. Have we not seen in our own days the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church unfairly interpreted in accordance with the Council of Trent? There are causes in which falsehood is never wanting. This plot was as skillfully executed, as it was profoundly conceived.HRSCV4 584.12

    The commissioners were on the best terms with one another, and concord seemed restored. One single uneasiness disturbed that happy moment: the idea of the landgrave: “Ignorant that we are almost agreed,” said they, “this young madbrain is doubtless already assembling his army; we must bring him back, and make him a witness of our cordial union.” On the morning of the 13th, one of the members of the Commission (Duke Henry of Brunswick), accompanied by a councillor of the emperor, set out to discharge this difficult mission. Duke George of Saxony supplied his place as arbitrator.HRSCV4 585.1

    They now passed from the first part of the Confession to the second: from doctrines to abuses. Here the Romish theologians could not yield so easily, for if they appeared to agree with the Protestants, it was all over with the honor and power of the hierarchy. It was accordingly for this period of the combat that they had reserved their cunning and their strength.HRSCV4 585.2

    They began by approaching the Protestants as near as they could, for the more they granted, the more they might draw the Reform to them and stifle it. “We think,” said they, “that with the permission of his holiness, and the approbation of his majesty, we shall be able to permit, until the next council, the communion in both kinds, wherever it is practiced already; only, your ministers should preach at Easter, that it is not of divine institution, and that Christ is wholly in each kind.HRSCV4 585.3

    “Moreover, as for the married priest,” continued they, “desirous of sparing the poor women whom they have seduced, of providing for the maintenance of their innocent children, and of preventing every kind of scandal, we will tolerate them until the next council, and we shall then see if it will not be right to decree that married men may be admitted to holy orders, as was the case in the primitive Church for many centuries.HRSCV4 585.4

    “Finally, we acknowledge that the sacrifice of the mass is a mystery, a representation, a sacrifice of commemoration, a memorial of the sufferings and death of Christ, accomplished on the cross.”HRSCV4 585.5

    This was yielding much: but the turn of the Protestants was come; for if Rome appeared to give, it was only to take in return.HRSCV4 585.6

    The grand question was the Church, its maintenance and government: who should provide for it? They could see only two means: princes or bishops. If they feared the bishops, they must decide for the princes: if they feared the princes, they must decide for the bishops. They were at that time too distant from the normal state to discover a third solution, and to perceive that the Church ought to be maintained by the Church itself—by the christian people. “Secular princes in the long-run will be defaulters to the government of the Church,” said the Saxon divines in the opinion they presented on the 18th August; “they are not fit to execute it, and besides it would cost them too dear: the bishops, on the contrary, have property destined to provide for this charge.”HRSCV4 585.7

    Thus the presumed incapacity of the state, and the fear they entertained of its indifference, threw the Protestants into the arms of the hierarchy.HRSCV4 585.8

    They proposed, therefore, to restore to the bishops their jurisdiction, the maintenance of discipline, and the superintendence of the priests, provided they did not persecute the evangelical doctrine, or oppress the pastors with impious vows and burdens. “We may not,” added they, “without strong reasons rend that order by which bishops are over priests, and which existed in the Church from the beginning. It is dangerous before the Lord to change the order of governments.” Their argument is not founded upon the Bible, as may be seen, but upon ecclesiastical history.HRSCV4 585.9

    The Protestant divines went even farther, and, taking a last step that seemed decisive, they consented to acknowledge the pope as being (but of human right) supreme bishop of Christendom. “Although the pope is Antichrist, we may be under his government, as the Jews were under Pharaoh, and in later days under Caiaphas.” We must confess these two comparisons were not flattering to the pope. “Only,” added the doctors, “let sound doctrine be fully accorded to us.”HRSCV4 585.10

    The chancellor Bruck alone appears to have been conscious of the truth: he wrote on the margin with a firm hand: “We cannot acknowledge the pope, because we say he is Antichrist, and because he claims the primacy by divine right.”HRSCV4 585.11

    Finally, the Protestant theologians consented to agree with Rome as regards indifferent ceremonies, fasts, and forms of worship; and the elector engaged to put under sequestration the ecclesiastical property already secularized, until the decision of the next council.HRSCV4 585.12

    Never was the conservative spirit of Lutheranism more clearly manifested. “We have promised our adversaries to concede to them certain points of church government, that may be granted without wounding the conscience,” wrote Melancthon. But it began to be very doubtful whether ecclesiastical concessions would not drag with them doctrinal concessions also. The Reform was drifting away still a few more fathoms, and it would be lost. Already disunion, trouble, and affright were spreading among its ranks. “Melancthon has become more childish than a child,” said one of his friends; and yet he was so excited, that the Chancellor of Luneburg having made some objections to these unprecedented concessions, the little master of arts proudly raised his head, and said with a sharp, harsh tone of voice: “He who dares assert that the means indicated are not christian is a liar and a scoundrel.” On which the chancellor immediately repaid him in his own coin. These expressions cannot, however, detract from Melancthon’s reputation for mildness. After so many useless efforts, he was exhausted, irritated, and his words cut the deeper, as they were the less expected from him. He was not the only one demoralized. Brentz appeared clumsy, rude, and uncivil; Chancellor Keller had misled the pious Margrave of Brandenburg, and transformed the courage of this prince into pusillanimity: no other human support remained to the elector than his chancellor Bruck. And even this firm man began to grow alarmed at his isolation.HRSCV4 586.1

    But he was not alone: the most earnest protests were received from without. “If it is true that you are making such concessions,” said their affrighted friends to the Saxon divines, “christian liberty is at an end. What is your pretended concord? a thick cloud that you raise in the air to eclipse the sun that was beginning to illumine the Church. Never will the christian people accept conditions so opposed to the Word of God; and your only gain will be furnishing the enemies of the Gospel with a specious pretext to butcher those who remain faithful to it.” Among the laymen these convictions were general. “Better die with Jesus Christ,” said all Augsburg, “than gain the favor of the whole world without him!”HRSCV4 586.2

    No one felt so much alarm as Luther when he saw the glorious edifice that God had raised by his hands on the point of falling to ruin in those of Melancthon. The day on which this news arrived, he wrote five letters,—to the elector, to Melancthon, to Spalatin, to Jonas, and to Brentz, all equally filled with courage and with faith.HRSCV4 586.3

    “I learn,” said he, “that you have begun a marvelous work, namely, to reconcile Luther and the pope; but the pope will not be reconciled, and Luther begs to be excused. And if, in despite of them, you succeed in this affair, then after your example I will bring together Christ and Belial.HRSCV4 586.4

    “The world I know is full of wranglers who obscure the doctrine of justification by faith, and of fanatics who persecute it. Do not be astonished at it, but continue to defend it with courage, for it is the heel of the seed of the woman that shall bruise the head of the serpent.HRSCV4 586.5

    “Beware also of the jurisdiction of the bishops, for fear we should soon have to recommence a more terrible struggle than the first. They will take our concessions widely, very widely, always more widely, and will give us theirs narrowly, very narrowly, and always more narrowly. All these negotiations are impossible, unless the pope should renounce his papacy.HRSCV4 586.6

    “A pretty motive indeed our adversaries assign! They cannot, say they, restrain their subjects, if we do not publish everywhere that they have the truth on their side: as if God only taught his Word, that our enemies might at pleasure tyrannize over their people.HRSCV4 586.7

    “They cry out that we condemn all the Church. No, we do not condemn it; but as for them, they condemn all the Word of God, and the Word of God is more than the Church.”HRSCV4 586.8

    This important declaration of the reformers decides the controversy between the evangelical Christians and the Papacy: unfortunately we have often seen Protestants return, on this fundamental point, to the error of Rome, and set the visible Church above the Word of God.HRSCV4 586.9

    “I write to you now,” continues Luther, “to believe with all of us (and that through obedience to Jesus Christ), that Campeggio is a famous demon. I cannot tell how violently I am agitated by the conditions which you propose. The plan of Campeggio and the pope had been to try us first by threats, and then, if these do not succeed, by stratagems; you have triumphed over the first attack, and sustained the terrible coming of Caesar: now, then, for the second. Act with courage, and yield nothing to the adversaries, except what can be proved with evidence from the very Word of God.HRSCV4 586.10

    “But if, which Christ forbid! you do not put forward all the Gospel; if, on the contrary, you shut up that glorious eagle in a sack; Luther—doubt it not!—Luther will come and gloriously deliver the eagle. As certainly as Christ lives, that shall be done!”HRSCV4 587.1

    Thus spoke Luther, but in vain: everything in Augsburg was tending towards approaching ruin; Melancthon had a bandage over his eyes that nothing could tear off. He no longer listened to Luther, and cared not for popularity. “It does not become us,” said he, “to be moved by the clamors of the vulgar: we must think of peace and of posterity. If we repeal the episcopal jurisdiction, what will be the consequence to our descendants? The secular powers care nothing about the interests of religion. Besides, too much dissimilarity in the churches is injurious to peace: we must unite with the bishops, lest the infamy of schism should overwhelm us for ever.”HRSCV4 587.2

    The evangelicals too readily listened to Melancthon, and vigorously labored to bind to the papacy by the bonds of the hierarchy that Church which God had so wonderfully emancipated. Protestantism rushed blindfold into the nets of its enemies. Already serious voices announced the return of the Lutherans into the bosom of the Romish Church. “They are preparing their defection, and are passing over to the Papists,” said Zwingle. The politic Charles the Fifth acted in such a manner that no haughty word should compromise the victory; but the Roman clergy could not master themselves: their pride and insolence increased every day. “One would never believe,” said Melancthon, “the airs of triumph which the Papists give themselves.” There was good reason! the agreement was on the verge of conclusion: yet one or two steps and then, woe to the Reformation!HRSCV4 587.3

    Who could prevent this desolating ruin? It was Luther who pronounced the name towards which all eyes should be turned: “Christ lives,” said he, “and He by whom the violence of our enemies has been conquered will give us strength to surmount their wiles.” This, which was in truth the only resource, did not disappoint the Reformation.HRSCV4 587.4

    If the Roman hierarchy had been willing, under certain admissible conditions, to receive the Protestants who were ready to capitulate, all would have been over with them. When once it held them in its arms, it would have stifled them; but God blinded the Papacy, and thus saved his Church. “No concessions,” had declared the Romish senate; and Campeggio, elated with his victory, repeated, “No concessions!” He moved heaven and earth to inflame the Catholic zeal of Charles in this decisive moment. From the emperor he passed to the princes. “Celibacy, confession, the withdrawal of the cup, private masses!” exclaimed he: “all these are obligatory: we must have all.” This was saying to the evangelical Christians, as the Samnites to the ancient Romans: “Here are the Caudine Forks; pass through them!”HRSCV4 587.5

    The Protestants saw the yoke, and shuddered. God revived the courage of confessors in their weakened hearts. They raised their heads, and rejected this humiliating capitulation. The commission was immediately dissolved.HRSCV4 587.6

    This was a great deliverance; but soon appeared a fresh danger. The evangelical Christians ought immediately to have quitted Augsburg; but, said one of them, “Satan, disguised as an angel of light, blinded the eyes of their understanding.” They remained.HRSCV4 587.7

    All was not yet lost for Rome, and the spirit of falsehood and of cunning might again renew its attacks.HRSCV4 587.8

    It was believed at court that this disagreeable termination of the commission was to be ascribed to some wrong-headed individuals, and particularly to Duke George. They therefore resolved to name another, composed of six members only: on the one side, Eck, with the Chancellors of Cologne and Baden; on the other, Melancthon, with the Chancellors Bruck and Heller. The Protestants consented, and all was begun anew.HRSCV4 587.9

    The alarm then increased among the most decided followers of the Reformation. “If we expose ourselves unceasingly to new dangers, must we not succumb at last?” The deputies of Nuremberg in particular declared that their city would never place itself again under the detested yoke of the bishops. “It is the advice of the undecided Erasmus that Melancthon follows,” said they. “Say rather of Ahithophel” (2 Samuel 15.), replied others. “However it may be,” added they; “if the pope had bought Melancthon, the latter could have done nothing better to secure the victory for him.”HRSCV4 587.10

    The landgrave was especially indignant at this cowardice. “Melancthon,” wrote he to Zwingle, “walks backwards like a crab.” From Friedwald, whither he had repaired after his flight from Augsburg, Philip of Hesse endeavoured to check the fall of Protestantism. “When we begin to yield, we always yield more,” wrote he to his ministers at Augsburg. “Declare therefore to my allies that I reject these perfidious conciliations. If we are Christians, what we should pursue is, not our own advantage, but the consolation of so many weary and afflicted consciences, for whom there is no salvation if we take away the Word of God. The bishops are not real bishops, for they speak not according to the Holy Scriptures. If we acknowledge them, what would follow? They would remove our ministers, silence the Gospel, re-establish ancient abuses, and the last state would be worse than the first. If the Papists will permit the free preaching of the pure Gospel, let us come to an understanding with them; for the truth will be the strongest, and will root out all the rest. But if not!—No. This is not the moment to yield, but to remain firm even to death. Bafile these fearful combinations of Melancthon, and tell the deputies of the cities, from me, to be men, and not women. Let us fear nothing: God is with us.”HRSCV4 587.11

    Melancthon and his friends, thus attacked, sought to justify themselves: on the one hand, they maintained, that if they preserved the doctrine it would finally overthrow the hierarchy. But then why restore it? Was it not more than doubtful whether a doctrine so enfeebled would still retain strength sufficient to shake the Papacy? On the other hand, Melancthon and his friends pointed out two phantoms before which they shrunk in affright. The first was war, which, in their opinion, was imminent. “It will not only,” said they, “bring numberless temporal evils with it,—the devastation of Germany, murder, violation, sacrilege, rapine; but it will produce spiritual evils more frightful still, and inevitably bring on the perturbation of all religion.” The second phantom was the supremacy of the state. Melancthon and his friends foresaw the dependence to which the princes would reduce the Church, the increasing secularization of its institutions and of its instruments, the spiritual death that would result, and shrank back with terror from the frightful prospect. “Good men do not think that the court should regulate the ministry of the Church,” said Brentz. “Have you not yourselves experienced,” added he ironically, “with what wisdom and mildness these boors (‘tis thus I denominate the officials and prefects of the princes) treat the ministers of the Church, and the Church itself. Rather die seven times!”—“I see,” exclaimed Melancthon, “what a Church we shall have if the ecclesiastical government is abolished. I discover in the future a tyranny far more intolerable than that which has existed to this day.” Then, bowed down by the accusations that poured upon him from every side, the unhappy Philip exclaimed: “If it is I who have aroused this tempest, I pray his majesty to throw me, like Jonas, into the sea, and to drag me out only to give me up to torture and to the stake.”HRSCV4 588.1

    If the Romish episcopacy were once recognized, all seemed easy. In the Commission of Six, they conceded the cup to the laity, marriage to the pastors, and the article of prayer to saints appeared of little importance. But they stopped at three doctrines which the evangelicals could not yield. The first was the necessity of human satisfaction for the remission of the penalties of sin; the second, the idea of something meritorious in every good work; the third, the utility of private masses. “Ah!” quickly replied Campeggio to Charles the Fifth, “I would rather be cut in pieces than concede anything about masses.”HRSCV4 588.2

    “What!” replied the politicians, “when you agree on all the great doctrines of salvation, will you for ever rend the unity of the Church for three such trivial articles? Let the theologians make a last effort, and we shall wee the two parties unite, and Rome embrace Wittenberg.”HRSCV4 588.3

    It was not so: under these three points was concealed a whole system. On the Roman side, they entertained the idea that certain works gain the Divine favor, independently of the disposition of him who performs them, and by virtue of the will of the Church. On the evangelical side, on the contrary, they felt a conviction that these external ordinances were mere human traditions, and that the only thing which procured man the Divine favor was the work that God accomplished by Christ on the cross; while the only thing that put him in possession of this favor was the work of regeneration that Christ accomplishes by his Spirit in the heart of the sinner. The Romanists, by maintaining their three articles, said: “The Church saves,” which is the essential doctrine of Rome; the evangelicals, by rejecting them, said: “Jesus Christ alone saves,” which is Christianity itself. This is the great antithesis which then existed, and which still separates the two Churches. With these three points, which placed souls under her dependence, Rome justly expected to recover everything; and she showed by her perseverance that she understood her position. But the evangelicals were not disposed to abandon theirs. The christian principle was maintained against the ecclesiastical principle which aspired to swallow it up: Jesus Christ stood firm in presence of the Church, and it was seen that henceforward all conferences were superfluous.HRSCV4 588.4

    Time pressed: for two months and a half Charles the Fifth had been laboring in Augsburg, and his pride suffered because four or five theologians checked the triumphal progress of the conqueror of Pavia. “What!” said they to him, “a few days sufficed to overthrow the King of France and the pope, and you cannot succeed with these gospellers!” They determined on breaking off the conferences. Eck, irritated because neither stratagem nor terror had been effectual, could not master himself in the presence of the Protestants. “Ah!” exclaimed he, at the moment of separation, “why did not the emperor, when he entered Germany, make a general inquest about the Lutherans? He would then have heard arrogant answers, witnessed monsters of heresy, and his zeal suddenly taking fire, would have led him to destroy all this faction. But now Bruck’s mild language and Melancthon’s concessions prevent him from getting so angry as the cause requires.” Eck said these words with a smile; but they expressed all his thoughts. The colloquy terminated on the 30th August.HRSCV4 589.1

    The Romish states made their report to the emperor. They were face to face, three steps only from each other, without either side being able to approach nearer, even by a hair’s breadth.HRSCV4 589.2

    Thus, then, Melancthon had failed; and his enormous concessions were found useless. From a false love of peace, he had set his heart on an impossibility. Melancthon was at the bottom a really christian soul. God preserved him from his great weakness, and broke the clue that was about to lead him to destruction. Nothing could have been more fortunate for the Reformation than Melancthon’s failure; but nothing could, at the same time, have been more fortunate for himself. His friends saw that though he was willing to yield much, he could not go so far as to yield Christ himself, and his defeat justified him in the eyes of the Protestants.HRSCV4 589.3

    The Elector of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenburg sent to beg Charles’s leave to depart. The latter refused at first rather rudely, but at last he began to conjure the princes not to create by their departure new obstacles to the arrangements they soon hoped to be able to conclude. We shall see what was the nature of these arrangements.HRSCV4 589.4

    The Romanists appeared to redouble their exertions. If they now let the clue slip, it is lost for ever: they labored accordingly to reunite the two ends. There were conferences in the gardens, conferences in the churches, at St. George’s, at St. Maurice’s, between the Duke of Brunswick and John Frederick the elector’s son, the Chancellors of Baden and of Saxony, the Chancellor of Liege and Melancthon; but all these attempts were unavailing. It was to other means they were going to have recourse.HRSCV4 589.5

    Charles the Fifth had resolved to take the affair in hand, and to cut the Gordian knot, which neither doctors nor princes could untie. Irritated at seeing his advances spurned and his authority compromised, he thought that the moment was come for drawing the sword. On the 4th September, the members of the Roman party, who were still endeavoring to gain over the Protestants, whispered these frightful intentions in Melancthon’s ears. “We scarcely dare mention it,” said they: “the sword is already in the emperor’s hands, and certain people exasperate him more and more. He is not easily enraged, but once angry, it is impossible to quiet him.”HRSCV4 589.6

    Charles had reason to appear exacting and terrible. He had at length obtained from Rome an unexpected concession—a council. Clement VII had laid the emperor’s request before a congregation: “How will men who reject the ancient councils submit to a new one?” they had replied. Clement himself had no wish for an assembly, which he dreaded alike on account of his birth and conduct. However, his promises at the Castle of St. Angelo and at Bologna rendered it impossible for him to give a decided refusal. He answered, therefore, that “the remedy would be worse than the disease; but that if the emperor, who was so good a Catholic, judged a council absolutely necessary, he would consent to it, under the express condition, however, that the Protestants should submit in the meanwhile to the doctrines and rites of the Church.” Then as the place of meeting he appointed Rome!HRSCV4 589.7

    Scarcely had news of this concession spread abroad, than the fear of a Reformation froze the papal court. The public charges of the Papacy, which were altogether venal, immediately fell, says a cardinal, and were offered at the lowest price, without even being able to find purchasers. The Papacy was compromised; its merchandise was endangered; and the price current immediately declined on the Roman exchange.HRSCV4 589.8

    On Wednesday, 7th September, at two in the afternoon, the protestant princes and deputies having been introduced into the chamber of Charles the Fifth, the count-palatine said to them, “that the emperor, considering their small number, had not expected they would uphold new sects against the ancient usages of the Universal Church; that, nevertheless, being desirous of appearing to the last full of kindness, he would require of his holiness the convocation of a council; but that in the meanwhile they should return immediately into the bosom of the Catholic Church, and restore everything to its ancient footing.”HRSCV4 589.9

    The Protestants replied on the morrow, the 8th September, that they had not stirred up new sects contrary to the Holy Scriptures; that, quite the reverse, if they had not agreed with their adversaries, it was because they had desired to remain faithful to the Word of God; that, by convoking in Germany a general, free, and christian council, it would only be doing what preceding diets had promised; but that nothing should compel them to re-establish in their churches an order of things opposed to the commandments of God.”HRSCV4 590.1

    It was eight in the evening when, after a long deliberation, the Protestants were again called in. “His majesty,” said George Truschses to them, “is equally astonished, both that the catholic members of the commissions have accorded so much, and that the protestant members have refused everything. What is your party in the presence of his imperial majesty, of his papal holiness, of the electors, princes, estates of the empire, and other kings, rulers, and potentates of Christendom? It is but just that the minority should yield to the majority. Do you desire the means of conciliation to be protracted, or do you persist in your answer? Speak frankly; for if you persist, the emperor will immediately see to the defense of the Church. Tomorrow at one o’clock you will bring your final decision.”HRSCV4 590.2

    Never had such threatening words issued from Charles’s mouth. It was evident he wished to subdue the Protestants by terror; but this end was not attained. They replied the next day but one—a day more having been accorded them—that new attempts at conciliation would only fatigue the emperor and the diet; that they only required regulations to maintain political peace until the assembling of the council. “Enough,” replied the redoubtable emperor; “I will reflect upon it; but in the mean time let no one quit Augsburg.”HRSCV4 590.3

    Charles the Fifth was embarrassed in a labyrinth from which he knew not how to escape. The State had resolved to interfere with the Church, and saw itself compelled to have immediate recourse to its ultima ratio—the sword. Charles did not desire war, and yet how could he now avoid it? If he did not execute his threats, his dignity was compromised, and his authority rendered contemptible. He sought an outlet on one side or the other, but could find none. It therefore only remained for him to close his eyes, and rush forward heedless of the consequences. These thoughts disturbed him: these cares preyed upon him; he was utterly confounded.HRSCV4 590.4

    It was now that the elector sent to beg Charles would not be offended if he left Augsburg. “Let him await my answer,” abruptly replied the emperor: and the elector having rejoined that he would send his ministers to explain his motives to his majesty: “Not so many speeches,” resumed Charles, with irritation; “let the elector say whether he will stay or not!”HRSCV4 590.5

    A rumor of the altercation between these two powerful princes having spread abroad, the alarm became universal; it was thought war would break out immediately, and there was a great disturbance in Augsburg. It was evening: men were running to and fro; they rushed into the hotels of the princes and of the protestant deputies, and addressed them with the severest reproaches. “His imperial majesty,” said they, “is about to have recourse to the most energetic measures!” They even declared that hostilities had begun: it was whispered that the commander of Horneck (Walter of Kronberg), elected by the emperor grand-master of the Teutonic order, was about to enter Prussia with an army, and dispossess Duke Albert, converted by Luther. Two nights successively the same tumult was repeated. They shouted, they quarrelled, they fought, particularly in and before the mansions of the princes: the war was nearly commencing in Augsburg.HRSCV4 590.6

    At that crisis (12th September), John Frederick, prince-electoral of Saxony, quitted the city.HRSCV4 590.7

    On the same day, or on the morrow, Jerome Wehe, chancellor of Baden, and Count Truchses on the one side; Chancellor Bruck and Melancthon on the other, met at six in the morning in the church of St. Maurice.HRSCV4 590.8

    Charles, notwithstanding his threats, could not decide on employing force. He might no doubt by a single word to his Spanish bands or to his German lansquenets have seized on these inflexible men, and treated them like Moors. But how could Charles, a Netherlander, a Spaniard, who had been ten years absent from the empire, dare, without raising all Germany, offer violence to the favorites of the nation? Would not the Roman-catholic princes themselves see in this act an infringement of their privileges?HRSCV4 590.9

    War was unseasonable. “Lutheranism is extending already from the Baltic to the Alps,” wrote Erasmus to the legate: “You have but one thing to do: tolerate it.”HRSCV4 591.1

    The negotiation begun in the church of St. Maurice was continued between the Margrave of Brandenburg and Count Truchses. The Roman party only sought to save appearances, and did not hesitate, besides, to sacrifice everything. It asked merely for a few theatrical decorations—that the mass should be celebrated in the sacerdotal garment, with chanting, reading, ceremonies, and its two canons. All the rest was referred to the next council, and the Protestants, till then, should conduct themselves so as to render account to God, to the council, and to his majesty.HRSCV4 591.2

    But on the side of the Protestants the wind had also changed. Now they no longer desired peace with Rome: the scales had at last fallen from their eyes, and they discovered with affright the abyss into which they had so nearly plunged. Jonas, Spalatin, and even Melancthon were agreed. “We have hitherto obeyed the commandment of St. Paul, Be at peace with all men,” said they; “now we must obey this commandment of Christ, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. On the side of our adversaries is nothing but cunning and perfidy, and their only aim is to stifle our doctrine, which is truth itself. They hope to save the abominable articles of purgatory, indulgences, and the Papacy, because we have passed them by in silence. Let us beware of betraying Christ and his Word in order to please Antichrist and the devil.”HRSCV4 591.3

    Luther at the same time redoubled his entreaties to withdraw his friends from Augsburg. “Return, return,” cried he to them; “return, even if it must be so, cursed by the pope and the emperor. You have confessed Jesus Christ, offered peace, obeyed Charles, supported insults, and endured blasphemies. I will canonize you, I, as faithful members of Jesus Christ. You have done enough, and more than enough: now it is for the Lord to act, and he will act! They have our Confession, they have the Gospel; let them receive it, if they will; and if they will not, let them go----.If a war should come, let it come! We have prayed enough; we have discussed enough. The Lord is preparing our adversaries as the victim for the sacrifice; he will destroy their magnificence, and deliver his people. Yes! he will preserve us even from Babylon, and from her burning walls.”HRSCV4 591.4

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