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Title: History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Switzerland, &c., Volume 4

Author: J. H. Merle d'Aubigné

Translator: H. White

Release date: October 8, 2012 [eBook #40971]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Colin Bell, Julia Neufeld and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)




















When a foreigner visits certain countries, as England, Scotland, or America, he is sometimes presented with the rights of citizenship. Such has been the privilege of the "History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century." From 150,000 to 200,000 copies are in circulation, in the English language, in the countries I have just mentioned; while in France the number hardly exceeds 4000. This is a real adoption,—naturalizing this Work in the countries that have received it with so much favour.

I accept this honour. Accordingly, while the former Volumes of my History were originally published in France; now that, after a lapse of five years, I think of issuing a continuation of it, I do so in Great Britain.

This is not the only change in the mode of publication. I did not think it right to leave to translators, as in the cases of the former Volumes, the task of expressing my ideas in English. The best translations are always faulty; and the Author alone can have the certainty of conveying his idea, his whole idea, and nothing but his idea. Without overlooking the merit that the several existing translations may possess, even the best of them is not free from inaccuracies, more or less important. Of these I have given specimens in the Preface to the New Translation of the former Volumes by Dr. White, which has been revised by me, and which will shortly be published by Messrs. Oliver and Boyd. These inaccuracies, no doubt most involuntary, contributed in giving rise to a very severe contest that took place in America, on the subject of this Work, between the Episcopalians and the Baptists on the one hand, and the Presbyterians on the other,—a contest that I hope is now terminated, but in which (as a New York correspondent informed me) one of the most beneficial and powerful Christian Societies of the United States had been on the brink of dissolution.

With such facts before me, I could no longer hesitate. It became necessary for me to publish, myself, in English; and this I accordingly do. But although that language is familiar to me, I was desirous of securing, to a certain extent, the co-operation of an English literary gentleman. Dr. Henry White, a Graduate of Cambridge, and Member of a Continental University, has had the great kindness to visit Switzerland for this purpose, although such a step exposed him to much inconvenience, and to pass with me at Geneva the time necessary for this labour. I could not have had a more enlightened coadjutor; and I here express my obligations to him for his very able assistance.

I therefore publish in English this Continuation of the History of the Reformation. I do not think that, as I publish, myself, in this language, any one will have the power, or will entertain the idea, of attempting another publication. It would be a very bad speculation on the part of any bookseller; for where is the reader that would not prefer the original[iv] text, as published by the Author himself, to a translation made by a stranger?

But there is a higher question—a question of morality. Of all property that a man can possess, there is none so essentially his own as the labours of his mind. Man acquires the fruits of his fields by the sweat of his servants and of his beasts of burden; and the produce of his manufactures by the labour of his workmen and the movement of his machines; but it is by his own toils, by the exercise of his most exalted faculties, that he creates the productions of his mind. Accordingly, in putting this History under the protection of the laws, I place it at the same time under a no less secure safeguard,—that of justice. I know that it is written in the consciences on the other side of the Channel and of the Atlantic: Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger as for one of your own country: for I am the Lord your God.[1] To English honour I confide this Work.

The first two Books of this Volume contain the most important epochs of the Reformation—the Protest of Spire, and the Confession of Augsburg. The last two describe the establishment of the Reform in most of the Swiss cantons, and the instructive and deplorable events that are connected with the catastrophe of Cappel.

It was my desire to narrate also the beginnings of the English Reformation; but my Volume is filled, and I am compelled to defer this subject to the next. It is true I might have omitted some matters here treated of, but I had strong reasons for doing the contrary. The Reformation in Great Britain is not very important before the period described in this volume; the order of time compelled me, therefore, to remain on the Continent; for whatever may be the historian's desire, he cannot change dates and the order that God has assigned to the events of the world. Besides, before turning more especially towards England, Scotland, France, and other countries, I determined on bringing the Reformation of Germany and German Switzerland to the decisive epochs of 1530 and 1531. The History of the Reformation, properly so called, is then, in my opinion, almost complete in those countries. The work of Faith has there attained its apogee: that of conferences, of interims, of diplomacy begins. I do not, however, entirely abandon Germany and German Switzerland, but henceforward they will occupy me less: the movement of the sixteenth century has there made its effort. I said, from the very first: It is the History of the Reformation and not of Protestantism that I am relating.

It is not, however, without some portion of fear that I approach the History of the Reformation in England; it is perhaps more difficult than elsewhere. I have received communications from some of the most respectable men of the different ecclesiastical parties, who, each feeling convinced that their own point of view is the true one, desire me to present the history in this light. I hope to execute my task with impartiality and truth. But I thought it would be advantageous to study for some time longer the principles and the facts. I am at present occupied in this task, and shall consecrate to it, with God's assistance, the first part of my next Volume.

Should it be thought that I might have described the Reformation in Switzerland with greater brevity, I beg my readers will call to mind that, independently of the intrinsic importance of this history, Switzerland is the Author's birthplace.

I had at first thought of making arrangements for the present publication with the English and Scotch booksellers who had translated the former portions. Relations that I had maintained with some of these publishers,[v] and which had gained my esteem for them, induced me to adopt this course. They were consequently informed by letter of my purpose, and several months later I had an interview with some of them at Glasgow. I told them of my intentions, and desired to know theirs. They replied, that they could not communicate them immediately, since they would first have to come to an arrangement with their colleagues, in order to make me a proposal in common. It would appear that they did not succeed. However that may be, and although I allowed a sufficient period of time to elapse, I received no communication from the associated publishers. But at the same time, one of the first houses in Great Britain, Messrs. Oliver and Boyd of Edinburgh, who were introduced to me by my highly respected friend Dr. Chalmers, made me a suitable and precise offer. I could wait no longer; and on the very eve of my departure from London for the Continent, after a sojourn of three months in Scotland and in England, I made arrangements with them, which have since been definitively settled, and the Work is now their property.

The French laws are positive to protect literary property in France, even if it belongs to a foreigner. I am less familiar with the English laws; but I will not do England the injustice of believing that its legislation is surpassed by that of France in justice and in morality.


Eaux-Vives, Geneva, January 1846.



BOOK XIII.—Page 11.



Twofold Movement of Reform—Reform, the Work of God—First Diet of Spire—Palladium of Reform—Proceedings of the Diet—Report of the Commissioners—The Papacy described—Destruction of Jerusalem—Instructions of Seville—Change of Policy—The Holy League—Religious Liberty proposed—Crisis of the Reformation—Italian War—Emperor's Manifesto—Italian Campaign—March on Rome—Revolt of the Troops—Papal Army—The Assault—The Sack—German Humours—Violence of the Spaniards—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—Synods—Two Elements in the Church—Luther on the Ministry—Organization of the Church—Evils of State Interference—Luther's Letter to the Elector—German Mass—Melancthon's Instructions—Disaffection—Visitation of the Reformed Churches—Important Results—The Reformation Advances—Elizabeth of Brandenburg—A Pious Princess—Edict of Ofen—Persecutions—Winckler and Carpenter—Persecutions—Keyser—Alarm in Germany—Pack's Forgery—League of the Reformed Princes—Advice of the Reformers—Luther's pacific Counsel—Surprise of the Papist Princes—Pack's Scheme not improbable—Vigour of the Reformation—Alliance between Charles and Clement—Omens—Hostility of the Papists—Arbitrary Proposition of Charles—The Schism completed—The Protest—Principles of the Protest—The Supremacy of the Gospel—Union of Truth and Charity—Ferdinand rejects the Protest—Joy of the Protestants—Exultation of the Papists—Peter Muterstatt—Christian Unity a Reality—Escape of Grynæus—Melancthon's Dejection—The Princes, the true Reformers—Germany and Reform—Union necessary to Reform—Difficulty of Union—A Lutheran Warning—Proposed Conference at Marburg—Melancthon and Zwingle—Zwingle's Departure—Rumours in Zurich—Hoc est Corpus Meum—The Discussion—Figures—Scripture explained by Scripture—The Spiritual Eating—Zwingle's Old Song—Agitation in the Conference—Metaphor—Christ's of the Conference—The Landgrave mediates—Their Last [viii]Meeting—Zwingle's Emotion—Sectarian Spirit of the Germans—Brotherhood Rejected—Christian Charity Prevails—The Real Presence—Luther's Dejection—State of Political Affairs—Luther's Battle Sermon.

BOOK XIV.—Page 113.



Two Striking Lessons—Charles V.—The German Envoys—Boldness of the Envoys—The Landgrave's Present—The Envoys under Arrest—Their Release and Departure—Meeting of Charles and Clement—Gattinara's Proposition—Clement's Objection—War Imminent—Luther's Objections—The Saviour is Coming—Charles's Conciliatory Language—The Emperor's Motives—The Coronation—Alarm of the Protestants—Luther advocates Passive Resistance—Brüch's Noble Advice—Spiritual Armour—Luther remains at Coburg—Charles at Innspruck—Two Parties at Court—Sentiments of Gattinara—The King of Denmark—Piety of the Elector—Wiles of the Romanists—Augsburg—The Gospel Preached—The Emperor's Message—The Sermons Prohibited—Firmness of the Elector—The Elector's Reply—Preparation of the Confession—The Church, the Judge—The Landgrave's Catholic Spirit—Augsburg—Violence of the Imperialists—Charles at Munich—Charles and the Princes—The Procession—Enters Augsburg—The Benediction—Charles and the Landgrave—The Margrave of Brandenburg—The Emperor's Silence—Failure of the Interview—Agitation of Charles—Refusal of the Princes—Procession of Corpus Christi—Exasperation of Charles—The Sermons prohibited—A Compromise proposed—A Compromise—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 the Diet—The Elector's Prayer—Insidious Plan of the Romanists—Valdez and Melancthon—Evangelical Firmness Prevails—Zeal of the Elector—The Signing of the Confession—Luther's Anxiety—Luther's Texts—Luther to Melancthon—The Palatine Chapel—Recollections and Contrast—The Confession—Prologue—The Confession—Justification—Free Will and Works—Faith—Luther on the Confession—Abuses—Church and State—Duty of the Bishops—Epilogue—Remarks on the Confession—Church and State Distinct—Remarks—Moderate Tone of the Confession—Defects—A New Baptism—Effect on the Romanists—Luther demands Religious Liberty—Luther's Dominant Idea—Song of Triumph—An Ingenuous Confession—Hopes of the Protestants—Failure of the Popish Intrigues—The Emperor's Council—Luther opposes Concession—Infatuation of the Papists—Scheme of the Romish Doctors—Melancthon's Explanation—Refutation—Charles's Dissatisfaction—Interview with the Princes[ix]—The Swiss at Augsburg—Zwingle's Confession—Afflicting Divisions—The Elector's Faith—The Lion's Skin—The Refutation—Imperial Commands—Melancthon's Prescience—Policy of Charles—Stormy Meeting—Resolutions of the Consistory—The Prayers of the Saints—Two Miracles—The Emperor's Menace—The Mask—Omens—Tumult in Augsburg—Philip of Hesse—Temptation—Union Resisted—The Landgrave—Protestant Firmness—Philip of Hesse—Flight from Augsburg—Alarm in Augsburg—Metamorphoses—Unusual Moderation—Peace, Peace—The Mixed Commission—The Three Points—Romish Dissimulation—The Main Question—Church Government—Danger of Concession—Pretended Concord—Luther's Letters—The Word above the Church—Melancthon's Blindness—Papist Infatuation—A New Commission—The Landgrave's Firmness—The Two Phantoms—Concessions—Rome and Christianity—Irritation—The Gordian Knot—The Council Granted—Alarm in Rome—Menaces—Altercations—Fresh Negotiations—Protestantism Resists—Luther's Exhortation—The Elector of Saxony—The Recess of Augsburg—Irritating Language—Apology of the Confession—Intimidation—Final Interview—Messages of Peace—Exasperation of the Papists—Restoration of Popery—Tumult in the Church—Union of the Churches—The Pope and the Emperor—Close of the Diet—Attack of Geneva—Joy of the Evangelicals—Establishment of Protestantism.

BOOK XV.—Page 265.



Three Periods of Reform—Two Movements in the Church—The Two Movements—Aggressive Spirit—The Schoolmaster—Farel's New Baptism—Farel's Studies—The Door is Opened—Opposition—Lausanne—Picture of the Clergy—Farel at Lausanne—Farel and the Monk—Opposition to the Gospel—The Converted Monk—Christian Unity—State-Religion—A Resolution of Berne—Almanack of Heretics—Haller—Zwingle's Exhortation—Anabaptists at Berne—Victory of the Gospel—Papist Provocations—Proposed Disputation—Objections of the Forest Cantons—Important Question—Unequal Contest—A Christian Band—The Cordeliers' Church—Opening of the Conference—Christ the Sole Head—Remarkable Conversion—St. Vincent's Day—A Strange Argument—Papist Bitterness—Necessity of Reform—Zwingle's Sermon—Charity—Edict of Reform—The Reformation Reproached—The Reform Accepted—Faith and Charity—First Evangelical Communion—Faith shown by Works—Head of Beatus—Threatening Storm—Revolt—Christ in Danger—A Revolt—Energy of Berne—Victory—Political Advantages—Romish Relics—Nuns of St. Catherine—Contests—Spread of Reform—A Popish Miracle—Obstacles in Basle—Zeal of the Citizens—Witticisms of Erasmus—Half Measures—The Petition—Commotion in Basle—Half Measures Rejected—[x]Reformed Propositions—A Night of Terror—The Idols Broken—The Hour of Madness—The Reform Legalized—Erasmus in Basle—Objections—Principles of the Reformation—Farel's Commission—Farel at Lausanne—Farel at Morat—Neufchâtel—Farel's Labours—Farel's Preaching—Popery in Neufchâtel—Resistance of the Monks—The Hospital Chapel—Civil Power Invoked—Guillemette de Vugy—The Feast of Assumption—The Mass Interrupted—Farel's Danger—Ill Treatment of Farel—Apostles and Reformers Compared—Farel in the Cathedral—The Idols Destroyed—Interposition of the Governor—Reflections—Plans of the Romanists—The Governor's Difficulties—Preliminaries—Hatred and Division—Proposed Delay—The Romanist Protest—The Voting—Majority for Reform—Protestantism Perpetual—The Image of St. John—A Miracle—Popery and the Gospel—Reaction Preparing—Failure of the Plot—Farel's Labours—De Bely at Fontaine—The Pastor Marcourt—Disgraceful Expedient—The Reform Established—Remarks.

BOOK XVI.—Page 361.



Christian Warfare—Zwingle—Persecutions—Austrian Alliance—Animosity—Christian Exhortation—Keyser's Martyrdom—Zwingle and War—Zwingle's Error—Zwingle's Advice—War of Religion—Zwingle joins the Army—War—The Landamman Æbli—Bernese Interposition—Swiss Cordiality—The Zurich Camp—A Conference—Peace Restored—Austrian Treaty Torn—Zwingle's Hymn—Nuns of St. Catherine—Conquests of Reform—The Priest of Zurzack—The Reform in Glaris—Italian Bailiwicks—The Monk of Como—The Monk of Locarno—Letter to the German Church—The Monks of Wettingen—Abbé of St. Gaul—Kiliankouffi—Soleure—A New Miracle—Popery Triumphs—The Grisons Invaded—Forebodings to Berne—Mutual Errors—Failure of the Diet—Political Reformation—Activity of Zurich—Diet Arau—Blockade of the Waldsleddtes—Indignation—France Conciliates—Diet at Bremgarten—The Five Cantons Inflexible—Zurich—Zwingle's False Position—The Great Council—Zwingle at Bremgarten—The Apparition—Zwingle's Agony—Frightful Omens—The Comet—Zwingle's Tranquillity—New Mediations—Deceitful Calm—Fatal Inactivity—Zurich Forewarned—Manifesto of the Cantons—The Abbot Wolfgang—Infatuation of Zurich—The War Begins—A Fearful Night—The War—Army of Zurich—Zwingle's Departure—Anna Zwingle—Army of Zurich—Battle of Cappel—The March—Ambuscade—The Banner in Danger—The Banner Saved—Terrible Slaughter—Slaughter of the Pastors—Zwingle's Last Moments—Barbarity of the Victors—The Furnace of Trial—Distress—Zwingle is Dead—Funeral Oration—Army of Zurich—Another Reverse—Inactivity of the Bernese—Joy of the Romanists—End of the War—Death of Œcolampadius—Conclusion.





I. We have witnessed the commencement, the struggles, the reverses, and the progress of the Reformation; but the conflicts that we have hitherto described have been but partial; we are entering upon a new period,—that of general battles. Spire (1529) and Augsburg (1530) are two names that shine forth with more immortal glory than Marathon, Pavia, or Marengo. Forces that up to the present time were separate, are now uniting into one energetic band; and the power of God is working in these brilliant actions, which open a new era in the history of nations, and communicate an irresistible impulse to mankind. The passage from the middle ages to modern times has arrived.

A great protest is about to be accomplished; and although there have been protestants in the Church from the very beginning of Christianity, since liberty and truth could not be maintained here below, save by protesting continually against despotism and error, Protestantism is about to take a new step. It is about to become a body, and thus attack with greater energy that "mystery of iniquity" which for ages has taken a bodily shape at Rome, in the very temple of God.[2]



But although we have to treat of protests, it must not however be imagined that the Reformation is a negative work. In every sphere in which anything great is evolved, whether in nature or society, there is a principle of life at work,—a seed that God fertilizes. The Reformation, when it appeared in the sixteenth century, did not, it is true, perform a new work, for a reformation is not a formation; but it turned its face toward the beginnings of Christianity, thither were its steps directed; it seized upon them with adoration, and embraced them with affection. Yet it was not satisfied with this return to primitive times. Laden with its precious burden, it again crossed the interval of ages, and brought back to fallen and lifeless Christendom the sacred fire that was destined to restore it to light and life. In this twofold movement consisted its action and its strength. Afterwards, no doubt, it rejected superannuated forms, and combated error; but this was, so to speak, only the least of its works, and its third movement. Even the protest of which we have to speak had for its end and aim the re-establishment of truth and of life, and was essentially a positive act.


This powerful and rapid twofold action of reform, by which the apostolic times were re-established at the opening of modern history, proceeded not from man. A reformation is not arbitrarily made, as charters and revolutions are in some countries. A real reformation, prepared during many ages, is the work of the Spirit of God. Before the appointed hour, the greatest geniuses and even the most faithful of God's servants cannot produce it; but when the reforming time is come, when it is God's pleasure to intervene in the affairs of the world, the divine life must clear a passage, and it is able to create of itself the humble instruments by which this life is communicated to the human race. Then, if men are silent, the very stones will cry out.[3]

It is to the protest of Spire (1529) that we are now about to turn our eyes; but the way to this protest was prepared by years of peace, and followed by attempts at concord that we[13] shall have also to describe. Nevertheless the formal establishment of Protestantism remains the great fact that prevails in the history of the Reformation from 1526 to 1529.

The Duke of Brunswick had brought into Germany the threatening message of Charles the Fifth. The Emperor was about to repair from Spain to Rome to come to an understanding with the Pope, and from thence to pass into Germany to constrain the heretics. The last summons was to be addressed to them by the Diet of Spire, 1526.[4] The decisive hour for the Reformation was about to strike.

On the 25th June, 1526, the diet opened. In the instructions, dated at Seville, 23d March, the Emperor ordered that the Church customs should be maintained entire, and called upon the diet to punish those who refused to carry out the edict of Worms,[5] Ferdinand himself was at Spire, and his presence rendered these orders more formidable. Never had the hostility which the Romish partisans entertained against the evangelical princes, appeared in so striking a manner. "The Pharisees," said Spalatin, "pursue Jesus Christ with violent hatred."[6]


Never also had the evangelical princes showed so much hope. Instead of presenting themselves frightened and trembling, like guilty men, they were seen advancing, surrounded by the ministers of the Word, with uplifted heads and cheerful looks. Their first step was to ask for a place of worship. The Bishop of Spire, count-palatine of the Rhine, having indignantly refused this strange request,[7] the princes complained of it as of an injustice, and ordered their ministers to preach daily in the halls of their palaces. An immense crowd from the city and the country, which amounted to many thousands,[14] immediately filled them.[8] In vain on the feast days did Ferdinand, the ultra-montane princes, and the bishops assist in the pomps of the Roman worship in the beautiful cathedral of Spire; the unadorned Word of God, preached in the Protestant vestibules, engrossed the hearers, and the Mass was celebrated in an empty church.[9]

It was not only the ministers, but the knights and the grooms, "mere idiots," who, unable to control their zeal, everywhere extolled the Word of the Lord.[10] All the followers of the evangelical princes wore these letters braided on their right sleeves: V. D. M. I. Æ., that is to say, "The word of the Lord endureth for ever."[11] The same inscription might be read on the escutcheons of the princes, suspended over their hotels. The Word of God—such from this moment was the palladium of the Reform.

This was not all. The Protestants knew that the mere worship was not sufficient: the Landgrave had therefore called upon the Elector to abolish certain "court customs" which dishonoured the Gospel. These two princes had consequently drawn up an order of living which forbade drunkenness, debauchery, and other vicious customs prevalent during a diet.[12]


Perhaps the Protestant princes sometimes put forward their dissent beyond what prudence would have required. Not only they did not go to Mass, and did not observe the prescribed fasts, but still further, on the meagre days, their attendants were seen publicly bearing dishes of meat and game, destined for their masters' tables, and crossing, says Cochlœus, in the presence of the whole auditory, the halls in which the worship was celebrating. "It was," says this writer, "with[15] the intent of attracting the Catholics by the savour of the meats and of the wines."[13]

The Elector in effect had a numerous court: seven hundred persons formed his retinue. One day he gave a banquet at which twenty-six princes with their gentlemen and councillors were present. They continued playing until a very late hour—ten at night. Everything in Duke John announced the most powerful prince of the empire. The youthful Landgrave of Hesse, full of zeal and knowledge, and in the strength of a first Christian love, made a still deeper impression on those who approached him. He would frequently dispute with the bishops, and thanks to his acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, he easily stopped their mouths.[14]

This firmness in the friends of the Reformation produced fruits that surpassed their expectation. It was no longer possible to be deceived: the spirit that was manifested in these men was the spirit of the Bible. Everywhere the sceptre was falling from the hands of Rome. "The leaven of Luther," said a zealous Papist, "sets all the people of Germany in a ferment, and foreign nations themselves are agitated by formidable movements."[15]

It was immediately seen how great is the strength of deep convictions. The states that were well disposed towards the Reform, but which had not ventured to give their adhesion publicly, became emboldened. The neutral states, which demanded the repose of the empire, formed the resolution of opposing the edict of Worms, the execution of which would have spread trouble through all Germany, and the Papist states lost their boldness. The bow of the mighty was broken.[16]


Ferdinand did not think proper, at so critical a moment, to[16] communicate to the diet the severe instructions he had received from Seville.[17] He substituted a proposition of a nature to satisfy both parties.

The laymen immediately recovered the influence of which the clergy had dispossessed them. The ecclesiastics resisted a proposal in the college of princes that the diet should occupy itself with church abuses, but their exertions were unavailing. Undoubtedly a non-political assembly would have been preferable to the diet, but it was already something that religious matters were no longer to be regulated solely by the priests.

The deputies from the cities having received communication of this resolution, called for the abolition of every usage contrary to the faith in Jesus Christ. In vain did the bishops exclaim that, instead of abolishing pretended abuses, they would do much better to burn all the books with which Germany had been inundated during the last eight years. "You desire," was the reply, "to bury all wisdom and knowledge."[18] The request of the cities was agreed to,[19] and the diet was divided into committees for the abolition of abuses.

Then was manifested the profound disgust inspired by the priests of Rome. "The clergy," said the deputy from Frankfort, "make a jest of the public good, and look after their own interests only." "The laymen," said the deputy from Duke George, "have the salvation of Christendom much more at heart than the clergy."


The commissions made their report: people were astonished at it. Never had men spoken out so freely against the pope and the bishops. The commission of the princes, in which[17] the ecclesiastics and the laymen were in equal numbers, proposed a fusion of Popery and Reform. "The Priests would do better to marry," said they, "than to keep women of ill-fame in their houses; every man should be at liberty to communicate under one or both forms; German and Latin may be equally employed in the Lord's Supper and in Baptism; as for the other sacraments, let them be preserved, but let them be administered gratuitously. Finally, let the Word of God be preached according to the interpretation of the Church (this was the demand of Rome), but always explaining Scripture by Scripture" (this was the great principle of the Reformation). Thus the first step was taken towards a national union. Still a few more efforts, and the whole German race would be walking in the direction of the Gospel.

The evangelical Christians, at the sight of this glorious prospect, redoubled their exertions. "Stand fast in the doctrine," said the Elector of Saxony to his councillors.[20] At the same time hawkers in every part of the city were selling Christian pamphlets, short and easy to read, written in Latin and in German, and ornamented with engravings, in which the errors of Rome were vigorously attacked.[21] One of these books was entitled, The Papacy with its Members painted and described by Doctor Luther. In it figured the pope, the cardinal, and then all the religious orders, exceeding sixty, each with their costumes and description in verse. Under the picture of one of these orders were the following lines:

Greedy priests, see, roll in gold
Forgetful of the humble Jesu:

under another:

We forbid you to behold
The Bible, lest it should mislead you![22]

and under a third:

We can fast and pray the harder
With an overflowing larder.[23]

"Not one of these orders," said Luther to the reader, "thinks either of faith or charity. This one wears the tonsure, the other a hood; this a cloak, that a robe. One is white, another black, a third gray, and a fourth blue. Here is one holding a looking-glass, there one with a pair of scissors. Each has his playthings......Ah! these are the palmer worms, the locusts, the canker-worms, and the caterpillars which, as Joel saith, have eaten up all the earth."[24]


But if Luther employed the scourges of sarcasm, he also blew the trumpet of the prophets; and this he did in a work entitled The Destruction of Jerusalem. Shedding tears like Jeremiah, he denounced to the German people a ruin like that of the Holy City, if like it they rejected the Gospel.[25] "God has imparted to us all his treasures," exclaimed he; "he became man, he has served us,[26] he died for us, he has risen again, and he has so opened the gates of heaven, that all may enter......The hour of grace is come......The glad tidings are proclaimed......But where is the city, where is the prince that has received them? They insult the Gospel: they draw the sword, and daringly seize God by the beard.[27]......But wait......He will turn round; with one blow will he break their jaws, and all Germany will be but one wide ruin."

These works had a very great sale.[28] It was not only the peasants and townspeople who read them, but nobles also[19] and princes. Leaving the priests alone at the foot of the altar, they threw themselves into the arms of the new Gospel.[29] The necessity of a reform of abuses was proclaimed on the 1st of August by a general committee.


Then Rome, which had appeared to slumber, awoke. Fanatical priests, monks, ecclesiastical princes, all beset Ferdinand. Cunning, bribery, nothing was spared. Did not Ferdinand possess the instructions of Seville? To refuse their publication was to effect the ruin of the Church and of the empire. Let the voice of Charles oppose its powerful veto to the dizziness that is hurrying Germany along, said they, and Germany will be saved! Ferdinand made up his mind, and at length, on the 3d August, published the decree, drawn up more than four months previously in favour of the edict of Worms.[30]

The persecution was about to begin; the reformers would be thrown into dungeons, and the sword drawn on the banks of the Guadalquivir would pierce at last the bosom of Reform.

The effect of the imperial ordinance was immense. The breaking of an axle-tree does not more violently check the velocity of a railway train. The Elector and the Landgrave announced that they were about to quit the diet, and ordered their attendants to prepare for their departure. At the same time the deputies from the cities drew towards these two princes, and the Reformation appeared on the brink of entering immediately upon a contest with the Pope and Charles the Fifth.

But it was not yet prepared for a general struggle. It was necessary for the tree to send out its roots deeper, before the Almighty unchained the stormy winds against it. A spirit of blindness, similar to that which in former times was sent out upon Saul and Herod,[31] then seized upon the great enemy[20] of the Gospel; and thus was it that Divine Providence saved the reform in its cradle.


The first movement of trouble was over. The friends of the Gospel began to consider the date of the imperial instructions, and to weigh the new political combinations which seemed to announce to the world the most unlooked-for events. "When the Emperor wrote these letters," said the cities of Upper Germany, "he was on good terms with the Pope, but now everything is changed. It is even asserted that he had told Margaret, his deputy in the Low Countries, to proceed gently with respect to the Gospel. Let us send him a deputation." That was not necessary. Charles had not waited until now to form a different resolution. The course of public affairs, taking a sudden turn, had rushed into an entirely new path. Years of peace were about to be granted to the Reform.


Clement VII., whom Charles was about to visit, according to the instructions of Seville, in order to receive in Rome itself and from his sacred hands the imperial crown, and in return to give up to the pontiff the Gospel and the Reformation,—Clement VII, seized with a strange infatuation, had suddenly turned against this powerful monarch. The Emperor, unwilling to favour his ambition in every point, had opposed his claims on the states of the Duke of Ferrara. Clement immediately became exasperated, and cried out that Charles wished to enslave the peninsula, but that the time was come for re-establishing the independence of Italy. This great idea of Italian independence, entertained at that period by a few literary men, had not, as now, penetrated the mass of the nation. Clement therefore hastened to have recourse to political combinations. The Pope, the Venetians, and the King of France, who had scarcely recovered his liberty, formed a holy league, of which the King of England was by a bull proclaimed the preserver and protector.[32] In June 1526, the Emperor caused the most favourable propositions to be presented to the Pope; but these advances were ineffectual, and[21] the Duke of Sessa, Charles's ambassador at Rome, returning on horseback from his last audience, placed a court-fool behind him, who, by a thousand monkey tricks, gave the Roman people to understand how they laughed at the projects of the Pope. The latter responded to these bravadoes by a brief, in which he threatened the Emperor with excommunication, and without loss of time pushed his troops into Lombardy, whilst Milan, Florence, and Piedmont declared for the Holy League. Thus was Europe preparing to be avenged for the triumph of Pavia.

Charles did not hesitate. He wheeled to the right as quickly as the Pope had done to the left, and turned abruptly towards the evangelical princes. "Let us suspend the Edict of Worms," wrote he to his brother; "let us bring back Luther's partisans by mildness, and by a good council cause the evangelical truth to triumph." At the same time he demanded that the Elector, the Landgrave, and their allies should march with him against the Turks—or against Italy, for the common good of Christendom.

Ferdinand hesitated. To gain the friendship of the Lutherans was to forfeit that of the other princes. The latter were already beginning to utter violent threats.[33] The Protestants themselves were not very eager to grasp the Emperor's hand. "It is God, God himself, who will save his churches."[34]

What was to be done? The edict of Worms could neither be repealed nor carried into execution.


This strange situation led of necessity to the desired solution: religious liberty. The first idea of this occurred to the deputies of the cities. "In one place," said they, "the ancient ceremonies have been preserved; in another they have been abolished; and both think they are right. Let us allow each one to do as he thinks fit, until a council shall re-establish the desired unity by the Word of God." This idea gained favour, and the recess of the diet, dated the 27th August, decreed[22] that a universal, or at least a national free council should be convoked within a year, that they should request the Emperor to return speedily to Germany, and that, until then, each state should behave in its own territory in a manner so as to be able to render an account to God and to the Emperor.[35]

Thus they escaped from their difficulty by a middle course; and this time it was really the true one. Each one maintained his rights, while recognising another's. The diet of 1526 forms an important epoch in history: an ancient power, that of the middle ages, is shaken; a new power, that of modern times, is advancing; religious liberty boldly takes its stand in front of Romish despotism; a lay spirit prevails over the sacerdotal spirit. In this single step there is a complete victory: the cause of the Reform is won.

Yet it was little suspected. Luther, on the morrow of the day on which the recess was published, wrote to a friend: "The diet is sitting at Spire in the German fashion. They drink and gamble, and there is nothing done except that."[36] "Le congrès danse et ne marche pas,"[37] has been said in our days. It is because great things are often transacted under an appearance of frivolity, and because God accomplishes his designs unknown even to those whom he employs as his instruments. In this diet a gravity and love of liberty of conscience were manifested, which are the fruits of Christianity, and which in the sixteenth century had its earliest, if not its most energetic development among the German nations.

Yet Ferdinand still hesitated. Mahomet himself came to the aid of the Gospel. Louis, king of Hungary and Bohemia, drowned at Mohacz on the 29th August, 1526, as he was fleeing from before Soliman II., had bequeathed the crown of these two kingdoms to Ferdinand. But the Duke of Bavaria, the Waywode of Transylvania, and, above all, the terrible Soliman, contested it against him. This was sufficient[23] to occupy Charles's brother: he left Luther, and hastened to dispute the two thrones.


II. The Emperor immediately reaped the fruits of his new policy. No longer having his hands tied by Germany, he turned them against Rome. The Reformation had been exalted and the Papacy was to be abased. The blows aimed at its pitiless enemy were about to open a new career to the evangelical work.

Ferdinand, who was detained by his Hungarian affairs, gave the charge of the Italian expedition to Freundsberg, that old general who had patted Luther in a friendly manner on the shoulder as the reformer was about to appear before the diet of Worms.[38] This veteran, observed a contemporary,[39] who "bore in his chivalrous heart God's holy Gospel, well fortified and flanked by a strong wall," pledged his wife's jewels, sent recruiting parties into all the towns of Upper Germany, and owing to the magic idea of a war against the Pope, soon witnessed crowds of soldiers flocking to his standard. "Announce," Charles had said to his brother,—"announce that the army is to march against the Turks; every one will know what Turks are meant."

Thus the mighty Charles, instead of marching with the Pope against the Reform, as he had threatened at Seville, marches with the Reform against the Pope. A few days had sufficed to produce this change of direction: there are few such in history in which the hand of God is more plainly manifested. Charles immediately assumed all the airs of a reformer. On the 17th September, he addressed a manifesto to the Pope,[40] in which he reproaches him for behaving not like the father of the faithful, but like an insolent and haughty man;[41] and declares his astonishment that,[24] being Christ's vicar, he should dare to shed blood to acquire earthly possessions, "which," added he, "is quite contrary to the evangelical doctrine."[42] Luther could not have spoken better. "Let your holiness," continued Charles the Fifth, "return the sword of St. Peter into the scabbard, and convoke a holy and universal council." But the sword was much more to the pontiff's taste than the council. Is not the Papacy, according to the Romish doctors, the source of the two powers? Can it not depose kings, and consequently fight against them?[43] Charles prepared to requite "eye for eye, and tooth for tooth."[44]


Now began that terrible campaign during which the storm burst on Rome and on the Papacy that had been destined to fall on Germany and the Gospel. By the violence of the blows inflicted on the pontifical city, we may judge of the severity of those that would have dashed in pieces the reformed churches. While we retrace so many scenes of horror, we have constant need of calling to mind that the chastisement of the seven-hilled city had been predicted by the Divine Scriptures.[45]


In the month of November, Freundsberg, at the head of fifteen thousand men, was at the foot of the Alps. The old general, avoiding the military roads, that were well guarded by the enemy, flung himself into a narrow path, over frightful precipices, that a few blows of the mattock would have rendered impassable. The soldiers are forbidden to look behind them; nevertheless their heads turn, their feet slip, and horse and foot fall from time to time down the abyss. In the most difficult passes, the most sure-footed of the infantry lower their long pikes to the right and left of their aged chief, by way of barrier, and Freundsberg advances, clinging to the[25] lansquenet in front, and pushed on by the one behind. In three days the Alps are crossed, and on the 19th November the army reaches the territory of Brescia.

The Constable of Bourbon, who since the death of Pescara was commander-in-chief of the imperial army, had just taken possession of the duchy of Milan. The Emperor having promised him this conquest for a recompense, Bourbon was compelled to remain there some time to consolidate his power. At length, on the 12th February, he and his Spanish troops joined the army of Freundsberg, which was becoming impatient at his delays. The Constable had many men, but no money: he resolved therefore to follow the advice of the Duke of Ferrara, that inveterate enemy of the princes of the Church, and proceed straight to Rome.[46] The whole army received this news with a shout of joy. The Spaniards were filled with a desire of avenging Charles the Fifth, and the Germans were overflowing with hatred against the Pope: all exulted in the hope of receiving their pay and of having their labours richly recompensed at last by the treasures of Christendom that Rome had been accumulating for ages. Their shouts re-echoed beyond the Alps. Every man in Germany thought that the last hour of the Papacy had now come, and prepared to contemplate its fall. "The Emperor's forces are triumphing in Italy," wrote Luther; "the Pope is visited from every quarter. His destruction draweth nigh; his hour and his end are come."[47]


A few slight advantages gained by the papal soldiers in the kingdom of Naples, led to the conclusion of a truce that was to be ratified by the Pope and by the Emperor. At this news a frightful tumult broke out in the Constable's army. The Spanish troops revolted, compelled him to flee, and pillaged his tent. Then approaching the lansquenets, they began to shout as loudly as they could, the only German words[26] they knew: Lance! lance! money! money![48] These words found an echo in the bosoms of the Imperialists; they were moved in their turn, and also began to cry with all their might: Lance! lance! money! money! Freundsberg beat to muster, and having drawn up the soldiers around him and his principal officers, calmly demanded if he had ever deserted them. All was useless. The old affection which the lansquenets bore to their leader seemed extinct. One chord alone vibrated in their hearts: they must have pay and war. Accordingly, lowering their lances, they presented them, as if they would slay their officers, and again began to shout, "Lance! lance! money! money!"—Freundsberg, whom no army however large had ever frightened! Freundsberg, who was accustomed to say, "the more enemies, the greater the honour," seeing these lansquenets, at whose head he had grown gray, aiming their murderous steel against him, lost all power of utterance, and fell senseless upon a drum, as if struck with a thunderbolt.[49] The strength of the veteran general was broken for ever. But the sight of their dying captain produced on the lansquenets an effect that no speech could have made. All the lances were upraised, and the agitated soldiers retired with downcast eyes. Four days later, Freundsberg recovered his speech. "Forward," said he to the Constable; "God himself will bring us to the mark." Forward! forward! repeated the lansquenets. Bourbon had no other alternative: besides, neither Charles nor Clement would listen to any propositions of peace. Freundsberg was carried to Ferrara, and afterwards to his castle of Mindelheim, where he died after an illness of eighteen months; and on the 18th April, Bourbon took the highroad to Rome, which so many formidable armies coming from the north had already trodden.


Whilst the storm descending from the Alps was approaching[27] the eternal city, the Pope lost his presence of mind, sent away his troops, and kept only his body-guard. More than thirty thousand Romans, it is true, capable of bearing arms, paraded their bravery in the streets, dragging their long-swords after them, quarrelling and fighting; but these citizens, eager in the pursuit of gain, had little thought of defending the Pope, and desired on the contrary that the magnificent Charles would come and settle in Rome, hoping to derive great profit from his stay.

On the evening of the 5th May Bourbon arrived under the walls of the capital; and he would have begun the assault at that very moment if he had had ladders. On the morning of the 6th the army, concealed by a thick fog which hid their movements,[50] was put in motion, the Spaniards marching to their station above the gate of the Holy Ghost, and the Germans below.[51] The Constable, wishing to encourage his soldiers, seized a scaling-ladder, mounted the wall, and called on them to follow him. At this moment a ball struck him: he fell, and expired an hour after. Such was the end of this unhappy man, a traitor to his king and to his country, and suspected even by his new friends.

His death, far from checking, served only to excite the army. Claudius Seidenstucker, grasping his long sword, first cleared the wall; he was followed by Michael Hartmann, and these two reformed Germans exclaimed that God himself marched before them in the clouds. The gates were opened, the army poured in, the suburbs were taken, and the Pope, surrounded by thirteen cardinals, fled to the Castle of St. Angelo. The Imperialists, at whose head was now the Prince of Orange, offered him peace on condition of his paying three hundred thousand crowns. But Clement, who thought that the Holy League was on the point of delivering him, and who fancied he already saw their leading horsemen, rejected every proposition. After four hours' repose, the attack[28] was renewed, and by an hour after sunset the army was master of all the city. It remained under arms and in good order until midnight, the Spaniards in the Piazza Navona, and the Germans in the Campofiore. At last, seeing no demonstrations either of war or of peace, the soldiers disbanded and ran to pillage.


Then began the famous "Sack of Rome." The Papacy had for centuries put Christendom in the press. Prebends, annates, jubilees, pilgrimages, ecclesiastical graces,—she had made money of them all. These greedy troops, that for months had lived in wretchedness, determined to make her disgorge. No one was spared, the imperial not more than the ultramontane party, the Ghibellines not more than the Guelfs. Churches, palaces, convents, private houses, basilics, banks, tombs—every thing was pillaged, even to the golden ring that the corpse of Julius II. still wore on its finger. The Spaniards displayed the greatest skill; they scented out and discovered treasures in the most mysterious hiding-places; but the Neapolitans were still more outrageous.[52] "On every side were heard," says Guicciardini, "the piteous shrieks of the Roman women and of the nuns whom the soldiers dragged away by companies to satiate their lust."[53]


At first the Germans found a certain pleasure in making the Papists feel the weight of their swords. But ere long, happy at finding food and drink, they were more pacific than their allies. It was upon those things which the Romans called "holy" that the anger of the Lutherans was especially discharged. They took away the chalices, the pyxes, the silver remonstrances, and clothed their servants and camp-boys with the sacerdotal garments.[54] The Campofiore was changed into an immense gambling-house. The soldiers brought thither golden vessels and bags full of crowns, staked them upon one throw of the dice, and after losing them, they[29] went in search of others. A certain Simon Baptista, who had foretold the sack of the city, had been thrown into prison by the Pope; the Germans liberated him, and made him drink with them. But, like Jeremiah, he prophesied against all. "Rob, plunder," cried he to his liberators; "you shall however give back all; the money of the soldiers and the gold of the priests will follow the same road."

Nothing pleased the Germans more than to mock the papal court. "Many prelates," says Guicciardini, "were paraded on asses through all the city of Rome."[55] After this procession, the bishops paid their ransom; but they fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who made them pay it a second time.[56]

One day a lansquenet named Guillaume de Sainte Celle, put on the Pope's robes, and placed the triple crown upon his head; others, adorning themselves with the red hats and long robes of the cardinals, surrounded him; and all going in procession upon asses through the streets of the city, arrived at last before the castle of Saint Angelo, where Clement VII. had retired. Here the soldier-cardinals alighted, and lifting up the front of their robes, kissed the feet of the pretended pontiff. The latter drank to the health of Clement VII., the cardinals kneeling did the same, and exclaimed that henceforward they would be pious popes and good cardinals, who would have a care not to excite wars, as all their predecessors had done. They then formed a conclave, and the Pope having announced to his consistory that it was his intention to resign the Papacy, all hands were immediately raised for the election, and they cried out "Luther is Pope! Luther is Pope!"[57] Never had pontiff been proclaimed with such perfect unanimity. Such were the humours of the Germans.


The Spaniards did not let them off so easily. Clement[30] VII. had called them "Moors," and had published a plenary, indulgence for whoever should kill any of them. Nothing, therefore, could restrain their fury. These faithful Catholics put the prelates to death in the midst of horrible tortures, destined to extort their treasures from them: they spared neither rank, sex, nor age. It was not until after the sack had lasted ten days, and a booty of ten million golden crowns had been collected, and from five to eight thousand victims had perished, that quiet began to be in some degree restored.

Thus did the pontifical city expire in the midst of a long and cruel pillage, and that splendour with which Rome from the beginning of the sixteenth century had filled the world faded in a few hours. Nothing could preserve this haughty city from chastisement, not even the prayers of its enemies. "I would not have Rome burnt," Luther had exclaimed; "it would be a monstrous deed."[58] The fears of Melancthon were still keener: "I tremble for the libraries," said he, "we know how hateful books are to Mars."[59] But in despite of these wishes of the reformers, the city of Leo X. fell under the judgment of God.

Clement VII., besieged in the castle of Saint Angelo, and fearful that the enemy would blow his asylum into the air with their mines, at last capitulated. He renounced every alliance against Charles the Fifth, and bound himself to remain a prisoner until he had paid the army four hundred thousand ducats. The evangelical Christians gazed with astonishment on this judgment of the Lord. "Such," said they, "is the empire of Jesus Christ, that the Emperor, pursuing Luther on account of the Pope, is constrained to ruin the Pope instead of Luther. All things minister unto the Lord, and turn against his adversaries."[60]



III. And in truth the Reform 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 ruin 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.

The papal yoke having been broken, the ecclesiastical order required to be reestablished. 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. Provision was made for it. It was then that the evangelic nations separated definitely from that despotic dominion which had for ages kept all the West in bondage.

Already on two occasions the diet had 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 Spire had therefore resigned to each state the task that it could not accomplish itself.

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

They could, while suppressing the Pope, preserve the Episcopal order: it was the form most approximate to that which was on the point of being destroyed.

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.


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[32] at the council of two hundred as representing the Church.[61]

The step before which Zwingle had hesitated might be taken, and it was so. A prince did not shrink from what had alarmed even republics. Evangelical Germany, at the moment in which she began to try her hand on ecclesiastical constitutions, began with that which trenched the deepest on the papal monarchy.

It was not, however, from Germany that such a system could proceed. If the aristocratic England was destined to cling to the episcopal form, the 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 then 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.

None of the evangelical princes was so enterprising as Philip of Hesse, who has been compared to Philip of Macedon in subtlety, and to his son Alexander in courage. 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.

The morning-star had risen for Hesse almost at the same time as for Saxony. In 1517, when Luther was preaching in Wittemberg the gratuitous remission of sins, men and women were seen in Marburg repairing secretly to one of the ditches of the city, and there, near a solitary loophole, listening to the words that issued from within, and that preached doctrines of consolation through the bars. 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[33] assemblies lasted a fortnight. On a sudden the voice ceased; 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 snatching aside the canvass that covered his car, they asked him, "Whither are you going?" "Where God wills," calmly replied the friar.[62] There was no more talk of him, and it is not known what became of him. These disappearances are usual in the Papacy.

Scarcely had Philip prevailed in the Diet of Spire, when he resolved on devoting himself to the Reformation of his hereditary states.

Lambert's Paradoxes.

His resolute character made him incline towards the Swiss reform: it was not therefore one of the moderates that he required. He had formed a connexion at Spire 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 added to the fire of the South the perseverance of the North. He was the first in France to throw off the cowl, and he had never since then ceased to call for a radical 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;[63] 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 such a man as he required, and invited him to his court.

Lambert, desiring to prepare the reform 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.

Friends and enemies immediately crowded round them. Some Roman catholics would have torn them down, but the[34] reformed townspeople kept watch, and holding a synod in the public square, discussed, developed, proved these propositions, and ridiculed the anger of the Papists.


A young priest, Boniface Dornemann, 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, had borrowed a stool, and surrounded by a numerous audience, had begun to read the propositions aloud.[64]

"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."[65]

This was the first thesis. "Hem!" said the young priest, "I shall not attack that." He continued.

"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."[66]

"I cannot attack that proposition," said the priest.[67] He continued reading from his stool.

"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."

Friar Boniface shook his head and continued.


"Since the priesthood of the Law has been abolished,[35] 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."

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 failed not to repeat: "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 of these continual repetitions, exclaimed: "Get down, you knave, who cannot find a word to impugn." Then rudely pulling the stool from under him, he threw the unfortunate clerk flat in the mud.[68]

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

After Lambert had explained and proved his theses, he added: "Let him stand forth who has anything to say against them." There was at first a profound silence; but at length Nicholas Ferber, superior of the Franciscans of Marburg, who in 1524, applying to Rome's favourite argument, had entreated the Landgrave to employ the sword against the heretics, began to speak with drooping head, and downcast eyes; but 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 our hearts." The Franciscan sat down in confusion, saying: "This is not the place for replying." The disputation, however, recommenced, and[36] Lambert, showing all the fire of the South, so astonished his adversary, that the superior, alarmed at what he called "thunders of blasphemy and lightnings of impiety,"[69] sat down again, observing a second time, "This is not the place for replying."


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;[70] and a third had exclaimed, "I will overthrow those under the tenth head (on images);" but now they were all dumb.

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

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 then their new constitution was published in the name of the synod.

The first ecclesiastical constitution produced by the Reformation should have a place in history, so much the more as it was then set forward as a model for the new Churches of Christendom.[71]


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[37] emanates; there is no mention in the prologue either of state or of Landgrave.[72] 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 an external superintendence, necessary for the maintenance of order.

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."[73] The more the human mind has been bent in one direction, the more violent is the reaction in the contrary direction when it is unbent. The Church passed at that time from the extreme of symbols to that of simplicity. These are the principal features of this constitution:—

"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.[74]

"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.[75]

"Let no one believe that by a bishop we understand anything else than a simple minister of the Word of God.[76]

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


[38]"Let the faithful assemble and choose their bishops and deacons. Each church should elect its own pastor.[77]

"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.[78]

"If a bishop causes any scandal to the Church by his effeminacy, or by the splendour of his garments, or by the levity of his conduct, and if, on being warned, he persists, let him be deposed by the Church.[79]

"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.[80]

"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.[81]

"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.[82]


"All the pastors are its natural members; but each church shall further elect from its body a man full of the Spirit and[39] of faith, to whom it shall intrust powers for all that is in the jurisdiction of the synod.[83]

"Three visiters 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."

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 these annual visiters (who, according to the primitive institution, might be simple members of the church); and, as has been remarked,[84] the encroachments, whether of these superintendents or of the state, gradually paralyzed the activity and independence of the churches of Hesse. This constitution fared as did that of the Abbé Sièyes, in the year 8, which, being destined to be republican, served through the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte to establish the despotism of the Empire.

It was not the less a remarkable work. Romish doctors have reproached the Reformation for making the Church a too interior institution.[85] In effect, the Reformation and Popery recognise 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 reply. The exterior ecclesiastical order, which then sprung from the very heart of the Reformation, is far more perfect than that of Popery.



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

Everything seemed to indicate as much. The most pious men thought at that time that the ecclesiastical power proceeded from the members of the Church. By withdrawing from the hierarchical extreme, they flung themselves into a democratical one. Luther himself had professed this doctrine as early as 1523. The Calixtins of Bohemia, on seeing the bishops of their country refuse them ministers, 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 baptise his children, sighing after the sacrament of the altar as the Jews at Babylon did for Jerusalem.[86] 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.[87] Men become ministers only by election and calling, and that ought to be effected in the following manner:—

"First, seek God by prayer;[88] 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."[89]


Luther, in thus calling upon the people alone to nominate their pastors, submitted to the necessities of the times. It was requisite to constitute the ministry; but the ministry having[41] no existence, it could not then have the legitimate part that belongs to it in the choice of God's ministers.

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

The German Reformation can hardly be said to have begun 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?

But if the people were indifferent, the princes were not so. They stood in the foremost rank of the battle, 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 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 the mind of the Reformer, this guardianship of the princes was only to be provisional. The faithful being then in minority, they had need of a guardian; but the era of the Church's majority might arrive, and with it would come its emancipation.


We may admit that this recourse to the civil power was at that time necessary, but we cannot deny that it was also a source of difficulties. We will point out only one. When Protestantism became an affair of governments and nations, 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, the Protestants sought to settle themselves as comfortably as possible in a few German duchies.[42] This timidity, which has been called prudence, did immense injury to the Reformation.

The organizing power being once discovered, 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.

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.[90] 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."[91]


Luther did not shrink from before this double necessity; and he made provision for it. Understanding that a general visitation of the churches was necessary, he addressed the Elector on this subject, on the 22d 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.[92] 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[43] into the tithes and church property; and let two take charge of the doctrine, schools, churches, and pastors." We naturally ask, on reading these words, if the church which was formed in the first century, without the support of princes, could not in the sixteenth be reformed without them?

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, rushing now, "sporting, laughing, skipping," as he said, on the spoils of the Church. Accordingly, at the end of this year, the Elector having come to Wittemberg, the Reformer repaired immediately to the palace, made his complaint to the prince-electoral, whom he met at the gate, then without caring about those who stopped him, made his way by force into his father'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.

In 1526, Luther had 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, pellmell, admitting people of every sort;[93] but they are formed of serious Christians, who confess the Gospel by their words and by their lives,[94] and in the midst of whom we may reprove and excommunicate, according to the rule of Christ Jesus.[95] I cannot institute such assemblies, for I have no one to place in them;[96] but if the thing becomes possible, I shall not be wanting in this duty."


It was also with a conviction that he must give the Church,[44] not the best form of worship imaginable, but the best possible, that Melancthon laboured at his Instructions.

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:[97] "All the old ceremonies that you can preserve, pray do so.[98] Do not innovate much, for every innovation is injurious to the people."[99]

They retained, therefore, the Latin liturgy, a few German hymns being mingled with it;[100] 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,[101] and other rites, "in which," said Melancthon, "there is no harm, whatever Zwingle may say."[102] And at the same time they set forth with reserve the doctrines of the Reformation.

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.

Perhaps what Melancthon did was 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.


A cry of astonishment was heard both from the camp of Rome and from that of the Reformation. "Our cause is betrayed,"[45] exclaimed some of the evangelical Christians: "the liberty is taken away that Jesus Christ had given us."[103]

On their part the Ultramontanists triumphed in Melancthon's moderation: they called it a retractation, and took advantage of it to insult the Reform. Cochlœus 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.[104]

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 only made 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 labours 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.

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.


They purified the clergy by dismissing every priest of scandalous life;[105] they assigned a portion of the church property to the maintenance of public worship, and they placed the remainder[46] beyond the reach of plunder; they continued the suppression of the convents; they established everywhere unity of instruction; and "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; they 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 the intellectual and moral superiority that indisputably distinguishes the evangelical nations.

The organization of the churches in Saxony, notwithstanding its imperfections, produced for that time at least the most important results. This 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 proceeded in reality from 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.


The organization which was at that time accomplishing in Saxony, exerted a strong reaction on all the German empire, and the doctrine of the Gospel advanced with gigantic strides. The design of God 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[47] a constitution that the Reformation devoted itself, it was also to extend its doctrine.

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.

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."[106] Pomeranus visited many places to put a finishing hand to the Reform.

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 hearing of his reforming proceedings: "I have done this by God's order; for he commands princes to take care not only of the bodies of their subjects, but also of their souls."[107]

In East Friesland, on new-year's day, 1527, a Dominican named Resius, having put on his hood,[108] ascended the pulpit at Noorden, and declared himself ready to maintain certain theses according to the tenor of the Gospel. Having silenced the Abbot of Noorden by the soundness of his arguments, Resius took off his cowl, laid it on the pulpit, and was received in the nave by the acclamations of the faithful. Ere long the whole of Friesland laid aside the uniform of Popery, as Resius had done.


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[48] 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;[109] it was even said that he intended to shut her up.[110] This princess, being deprived of all religious support, and mistrusting the perfidious manœuvres of the Romish priests, resolved to escape by flight; and she claimed the assistance of her brother, Christian II. of Denmark, who was 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-waggon 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 ere long 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 guide me." But John assigned her a residence in the castle of Lichtenberg, on the Elbe, near Wittemberg. Without taking upon us to approve of Elizabeth's flight, let us acknowledge the good that God's Providence drew 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.

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


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 the Apostles reappeared, humble as in primitive times, and like the ancient[49] Christians, looking for its righteousness, its glory, and its power solely in the blood of Christ and in the Word of God.[111]

IV. All these triumphs of the Gospel could not pass unperceived; there was a powerful reaction, and until political circumstances should permit a grand attack upon the Reformation on the very soil where it was established, and of persecuting it by means of diets, and if necessary by armies, they began to persecute in detail in the Romish countries with tortures and the scaffold.

On the 20th August, 1527, King Ferdinand, by the Edict of Ofen in Hungary, published a tariff of crimes and penalties, in which he threatened death by the sword, by fire, or by water,[112] against whoever should say that Mary was a woman like other women; or partake of the sacrament in an heretical manner; or consecrate the bread and wine, not being a Romish priest; and further, in the second case, the house in which the sacrament should have been administered was to be confiscated or rased to the ground.

Such was not the legislation of Luther. Link having asked him if it were lawful for the magistrate to put the false prophets to death, meaning the Sacramentarians, whose doctrines Luther attacked with so much force,[113] the Reformer replied: "I am slow whenever life is concerned, even if the offender is exceedingly guilty.[114] I can by no means admit that the false teachers should be put to death;[115] it is sufficient to remove them." For ages the Romish Church has bathed in blood. Luther was the first to profess the great principles of humanity and religious liberty.



They sometimes had recourse to more expeditious proceedings than the scaffold itself. George Winkler, pastor of Halle, having been summoned before Archbishop Albert in the spring of 1527, for having administered the sacrament in both kinds, had been acquitted. As this minister was returning home along an unfrequented road in the midst of the woods, he was suddenly attacked by a number of horsemen, who murdered him, and immediately fled through the thickets without taking anything from his person.[116] "The world," exclaimed Luther, "is a cavern of assassins under the command of the devil; an inn, whose landlord is a brigand, and which bears this sign, Lies and Murder; and none are more readily murdered therein than those who proclaim Jesus Christ."

At Munich George Carpenter was led to the scaffold for having denied that the baptism of water is able by its own virtue to save a man. "When you are thrown into the fire," said some of his brethren, "give us a sign by which we may know that you persevere in the faith."—"As long as I can open my mouth, I will confess the name of the Lord Jesus."[117] The executioner stretched him on a ladder, tied a small bag of gunpowder round his neck, and then flung him into the flames. Carpenter immediately cried out, "Jesus! Jesus!" and the executioner having turned him again and again with his hooks, the martyr several times repeated the word Jesus, and expired.


At Landsberg nine persons were consigned to the flames, and at Munich twenty-nine were thrown into the water. At Scherding, Leonard Keyser, a friend and disciple of Luther, having been condemned by the bishop, had his head shaved, and being dressed in a smock-frock, was placed on horseback. As the executioners were cursing and swearing, because they could not disentangle the ropes with which he was to be[51] bound, he said to them mildly: "Dear friends, your bonds are not necessary; my Lord Christ has already bound me." When he drew near the stake, Keyser looked at the crowd and exclaimed: "Behold the harvest! O Master, send forth thy labourers!" He then ascended the scaffold and said: "O Jesu, save me! I am thine." These were his last words.[118] "Who am I, a wordy preacher," exclaimed Luther, when he received the news of his death, "in comparison with this great doer?"[119]

Thus, the Reformation manifested by such striking works the truth that it had come to re-establish; namely, that faith is not, as Rome maintains, an historical, vain, dead knowledge,[120] but a lively faith, the work of the Holy Ghost, the channel by which Christ fills the heart with new desires and with new affections, the true worship of the living God.

These martyrdoms filled Germany with horror, and gloomy forebodings descended from the thrones among the ranks of the people. Around the domestic hearth, in the long winter evenings, the conversation wholly turned on prisons, tortures, scaffolds, and martyrs; and the slightest noise alarmed the old men, women, and children. These narratives gained strength from mouth to mouth; the rumour of a universal conspiracy against the Gospel spread through all the Empire. Its adversaries, taking advantage of this terror, announced with a mysterious air that they must look during this year (1528) for some decisive measure against the Reform.[121] One scoundrel resolved to profit by this state of mind to satisfy his avarice.


No blows are more terrible to a cause than those which it[52] inflicts upon itself. The Reformation, seized with a dizziness, was on the verge of self-destruction. There is a spirit of error that conspires against the cause of truth, beguiling by subtlety;[122] the Reformation was about to experience its attacks, and to stagger under the most formidable assault,—perturbation of thought, and estrangement from the ways of wisdom and of truth.

Otho of Pack, vice-chancellor to Duke George of Saxony, was a crafty and dissipated man,[123] who took advantage of his office, and had recourse to all sorts of practices to procure money. The Duke having on one occasion sent him to the Diet of Nuremberg as his representative, the Bishop of Merseburg confided to him his contribution towards the imperial government. The Bishop having been afterwards called upon for this money, Pack declared that he had paid it to a citizen of Nuremberg, whose seal and signature he produced. This paper was a forgery; Pack himself was the author of it.[124] This wretch, however, put an impudent face on the matter, and as he was not convicted, he preserved the confidence of his master. Erelong an opportunity presented itself of exercising his criminal talent on a larger scale.

No one entertained greater suspicions with regard to the Papists than the Landgrave of Hesse. Young, susceptible, and restless, he was always on the alert. In the month of February 1528, Pack happening to be at Cassel to assist Philip in some difficult business, the Landgrave imparted to him his fears. If any one could have had any knowledge of the designs of the Papists, it must have been the vice-chancellor, one of the greatest enemies to the Reform. The crafty Pack heaved a sigh, bent down his eyes, and was silent. Philip immediately became uneasy, entreated him, and promised to do nothing that would injure the Duke. Then, Pack as if he had allowed an important secret to be torn from him[53] with regret, confessed that a league against the Lutherans had been concluded at Breslau on the Wednesday following Jubilate Sunday, 12th May 1527; and engaged to procure the original of this act for the Landgrave, who offered him for this service a remuneration of ten thousand florins. This was the greatest transaction that this wretched man had ever undertaken; but it tended to nothing less than the utter overthrow of the Empire.

The Landgrave was amazed: he restrained himself, however, wishing to see the act with his own eyes before informing his allies. He therefore repaired to Dresden. "I cannot," said Pack, "furnish you with the original: the Duke always carries it about his person to read it to other princes whom he hopes to gain over. Recently at Leipsic, he showed it to Duke Henry of Brunswick. But here is a copy made by his highness's order." The Landgrave took the document, which bore all the marks of the most perfect authenticity. It was crossed by a cord of black silk, and fastened at both ends by the seal of the ducal chancery.[125] Above was an impression from the ring Duke George always wore on his finger, with the three quarterings that Philip had so often seen; at the top, the coronet, and at the bottom, the two lions. He has no more doubts as to its authenticity. But how can we describe his indignation as he read this guilty document? King Ferdinand, the Electors of Mentz and of Brandenburg, Duke George of Saxony, the Dukes of Bavaria, the Bishops of Salzburg, Wurtzburg, and Bamberg, have entered into a coalition to call upon the Elector of Saxony to deliver up the arch-heretic Luther, with all the apostate priests, monks, and nuns, and to re-establish the ancient worship. If he make default, his states are to be invaded, and this prince and his descendants are to be for ever dispossessed. The same measure was next to be applied to the Landgrave, only ("it was your father-in-law, Duke George," said Pack to Philip, "who got this clause inserted") his states shall be restored to him in[54] consideration of his youth, if he becomes fully reconciled to the Holy Church. The document stated moreover the contingents of men and money to be provided by the confederates, and the share they were to have in the spoils of these two heretical princes.[126]

Many circumstances tended to confirm the authenticity of this paper. Ferdinand, Joachim of Brandenburg, and George of Saxony, had in fact met at Breslau on the day indicated, and an evangelical prince, the Margrave George, had seen Joachim leave Ferdinand's apartments, holding in his hand a large parchment to which several seals were attached. The agitated Landgrave caused a copy to be taken of this document, promised secrecy for a time, paid Pack four thousand florins, and engaged to make up the sum agreed upon, if he would procure him the original. And then, wishing to prevent the storm, he hastened to Weimar to inform the Elector of this unprecedented conspiracy.

"I have seen," said he to John and his son, "nay more—I have had in my hands, a duplicate of this horrible treaty. Signatures, seals—nothing was wanting.[127] Here is a copy, and I bind myself to place the original before your eyes. The most frightful danger threatens us—ourselves, our faithful subjects, and the Word of God."


The Elector had no reason to doubt the account the Landgrave had just given him: he was stunned, confounded, and overpowered. The promptest measures alone could avert such unheard of disasters: everything must be risked to extricate them from certain destruction. The impetuous Philip breathed fire and flames;[128] his plan of defence was already prepared. He presented it, and in the first moment of consternation he carried the consent of his ally, as it were by assault. On the 9th March 1528, the two princes agreed to employ all their forces to defend themselves, and even to take[55] the offensive, and to sacrifice life, honour, rank, subjects, and states, to preserve the Word of God. The Dukes of Prussia, Mecklenburg, Luneburg, and Pomerania, the Kings of Denmark and Poland, and the Margrave of Brandenburg, were to be invited to enter into this alliance. Six hundred thousand florins were destined for the expenses of the war; and to procure them, they would raise loans, pledge their cities, and sell the offerings in the churches.[129] They had already begun to raise a powerful army.[130] The Landgrave set out in person for Nuremberg and Anspach. The alarm was general in those countries; the commotion was felt throughout all Germany,[131] and even beyond it. John Zapolya, King of Hungary, at that time a refugee at Cracow, promised a hundred thousand florins to raise an army, and twenty thousand florins a month for its maintenance. Thus a spirit of error was misleading the princes; if it should carry away the Reformers also, the destruction of the Reformation was not far distant.

But God was watching over them. Supported on the rock of the Word, Melancthon and Luther replied: "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." As soon as these two men whom the danger threatened (for it was they who were to be delivered up to the papal power) saw the youthful Landgrave drawing the sword, and the aged Elector himself putting his hand on the hilt, they uttered a cry, and this cry, which was heard in heaven, saved the Reform.

Luther, Pomeranus, and Melancthon immediately forwarded the following advice to the Elector: "Above all things, let not the attack proceed from our side, and let no blood be shed through our fault. Let us wait for the enemy, and seek after peace. Send an ambassador to the Emperor to make him acquainted with this hateful plot."


Thus it was that the faith of the children of God, which is so despised by politicians, conducted them aright, at the very[56] moment when the diplomatists were going astray. The Elector and his son declared to the Landgrave that they would not assume the offensive. Philip was in amazement. "Are not the preparations of the Papists worthy an attack?" asked he.[132] "What! we will threaten war, and yet not make it! We will inflame the hatred of our antagonists, and leave them time to prepare their forces! No, no; forward! It is thus we shall secure the means of an honourable peace."——"If the Landgrave desires to begin the war," replied the Reformer, "the Elector is not obliged to observe the treaty; for we must obey God rather than men. God and the right are above every alliance. Let us beware of painting the devil on our doors, and inviting him as godfather.[133] But if the Landgrave is attacked, the Elector ought to go to his assistance; for it is God's will that we preserve our faith." This advice which the Reformers gave, cost them dear. Never did man, condemned to the torture, endure a punishment like theirs. The fears excited by the Landgrave were succeeded by the terrors inspired by the Papist princes. This cruel trial left them in great distress. "I am worn away with sorrow," cried Melancthon; "and this anguish puts me to the most horrible torture.[134] The issue," added he, "will be found on our knees before God."[135]

The Elector, drawn in different directions by the theologians and the politicians, at last took a middle course: he resolved to assemble an army, "but only," said he, "to obtain peace." Philip of Hesse at length gave way, and forthwith sent copies of the famous treaty to Duke George, to the Dukes of Bavaria, and to the Emperor's representatives, calling upon them to renounce such cruel designs. "I would rather have a limb cut off," said he to his father-in-law, "than know you to be a member of such an alliance."


[57]The surprise of the German courts, when they read this document, is beyond description. Duke George immediately replied to the Landgrave that he had allowed himself to be deceived by unmeaning absurdities; that he who pretended to have seen the original of this act was an infamous liar, and an incorrigible scoundrel; and that he called upon the Landgrave to give up his authority, or else it might well be thought that he was himself the inventor of this impudent fabrication. King Ferdinand, the Elector of Brandenburg, and all the pretended conspirators made similar replies.

Philip of Hesse saw that he had been deceived;[136] his confusion was only exceeded by his anger. He had therefore himself justified the accusations of his adversaries who called him a hot-headed young man, and had compromised to the highest degree the cause of the Reformation and that of his people. He said afterwards, "If that had not happened, it would no more happen now. Nothing that I have done in all my life has caused me greater vexation."

Pack fled in alarm to the Landgrave, who caused him to be arrested; and envoys from the several princes whom this scoundrel had compromised met at Cassel, and proceeded to examine him. He maintained that the original act of the alliance had really existed in the Dresden archives. In the following year the Landgrave banished him from Hesse, showing by this action that he did not fear him. Pack was afterwards discovered in Belgium; and at the demand of Duke George, who had never shown any pity towards him, he was seized, tortured, and finally beheaded.

The Landgrave was unwilling to have taken up arms to no purpose. The archbishop-elector of Mentz was compelled, on the 11th June, 1528, to renounce in the camp of Herzkirchen all spiritual jurisdiction in Saxony and Hesse.[137] This was no small advantage.


Scarcely had the arms been laid aside, before Luther took up his pen, and began a war of another kind. "Impious[58] princes may deny this alliance as long as they please," wrote he to Link; "I am very certain that it is not a chimera. These insatiable leeches will take no repose until they see the whole of Germany flowing with blood."[138] This idea of Luther's was the one generally entertained. "The document presented to the Landgrave may be," it was said, "Pack's invention; but all this fabric of lies is founded on some truth. If the alliance has not been concluded, it has been conceived."[139]

Melancholy were the results of this affair. It inspired division in the bosom of the Reformation, and fanned the hatred between the two parties.[140] The sparks from the piles of Keyser, Winckler, Carpenter, and so many other martyrs, added strength to the fire that was already threatening to set the empire in flames. It was under such critical circumstances, and with such menacing dispositions, that the famous Diet of Spire was opened in March 1529. The Empire and the Papacy were in reality preparing to annihilate the Reformation, although in a manner different from what Pack had pretended. It was still to be learnt whether there would be found in the revived Church more vital strength than there had been in so many sects that Rome had easily crushed. Happily the faith had increased, and the constitution given to the Church had imparted greater power to its adherents. All were resolved on defending a doctrine so pure, and a church government so superior to that of Popery. During three years of tranquillity, the Gospel tree had struck its roots deep; and if the storm should burst, it would now be able to brave it.


V. The sack of Rome, by exasperating the adherents of the Papacy, had given arms to all the enemies of Charles V. The French army under Lautrec had forced the imperial[59] army, enervated by the delights of a new Capua, to hide itself within the walls of Naples. Doria, at the head of his Genoese galleys, had destroyed the Spanish fleet, and all the imperial power seemed drawing to an end in Italy. But Doria suddenly declared for the Emperor; pestilence carried off Lautrec and half of his troops; and Charles, suffering only from alarm, had again grasped the power with a firm resolution to unite henceforward closely with the Pontiff, whose humiliation had nearly cost him so dear. On his side Clement VII., hearing the Italians reproach him for his illegitimate birth, and even refuse him the title of Pope, said aloud, that he would rather be the Emperor's groom than the sport of his people. On the 29th June, 1528, a peace between the heads of the Empire and of the Church was concluded at Barcelona, based on the destruction of heresy; and in November a diet was convoked to meet at Spire on the 21st February, 1529. Charles was resolved to endeavour at first to destroy the Reform by a federal vote; but if this vote did not suffice, to employ his whole power against it. The road being thus traced out, they were about to commence operations.

Germany felt the seriousness of the position. Mournful omens filled every mind. About the middle of January, a great light had suddenly dispersed the darkness of the night.[141] "What that forebodes," exclaimed Luther, "God only knows!" At the beginning of April there was a rumour of an earthquake that had engulfed castles, cities, and whole districts in Carinthia and Istria, and split the tower of St. Mark at Venice into four parts. "If that is true," said the Reformer, "these prodigies are the forerunners of the day of Jesus Christ."[142] The astrologers declared that the aspect of the quartiles of Saturn and Jupiter, and the general position of the stars, was ominous.[143] The waters of the Elbe rolled[60] thick and stormy, and stones fell from the roofs of churches. "All these things," exclaimed the terrified Melancthon, "excite me deeply."[144]


The letters of convocation issued by the imperial government agreed but too well with these prodigies. The Emperor, writing from Toledo to the Elector, accused him of sedition and revolt. Alarming whispers passed from mouth to mouth that were sufficient to cause the fall of the weak. Duke Henry of Mecklenburg and the Elector-palatine hastily returned to the side of Popery.

Never had the sacerdotal party appeared in the diet in such numbers, or so powerful and decided.[145] On the 5th March, Ferdinand, the president of the diet, after him the Dukes of Bavaria, and lastly the ecclesiastical Electors of Mentz and Treves, had entered the gates of Spire surrounded by a numerous armed escort.[146] On the 13th March, the Elector of Saxony arrived, attended only by Melancthon and Agricola. But Philip of Hesse, faithful to his character, entered the city on the 18th March to the sound of trumpets, and with two hundred horsemen.

The divergence of men's minds soon became manifest. A Papist did not meet an Evangelical in the street without casting angry glances upon him, and secretly threatening him with perfidious machinations.[147] The Elector-palatine passed the Saxons without appearing to know them;[148] and although John of Saxony was the most important of the electors, none of the chiefs of the opposite party visited him. Grouped around their tables, the Roman-catholic princes seemed absorbed in games of hazard.[149]


[61]But erelong they gave positive marks of their hostile disposition. The Elector and the Landgrave were prohibited from having the Gospel preached in their mansions. It was even asserted at this early period that John was about to be turned out of Spire, and deprived of his electorate.[150] "We are the execration and the sweepings of the world," said Melancthon; "but Christ will look down on his poor people, and will preserve them."[151] In truth God was with the witnesses to his Word. The people of Spire thirsted for the Gospel, and the Elector wrote to his son on Palm Sunday: "About eight thousand persons were present to-day in my chapel at morning and evening worship."

The Roman party now quickened their proceedings: their plan was simple but energetic. It was necessary to put down the religious liberty that had existed for more than three years, and for that purpose they must abrogate the decree of 1526, and revive that of 1521.

On the 15th March the imperial commissaries announced to the diet that the last resolution of Spire, which left each state free to act in conformity with the inspirations of its conscience, having given rise to great disorders, the Emperor had annulled it by virtue of his supreme power. This arbitrary act, and which had no precedent in the Empire, as well as the despotic tone with which it was accompanied, filled the evangelical Christians with indignation and alarm. "Christ," exclaimed Sturm, "has again fallen into the hands of Caiaphas and Pilate."[152]


A commission was charged to examine the imperial proposition. The Archbishop of Salzburg, Faber, and Eck, that is to say, the most violent enemies of the Reformation, were among its members. "The Turks are better than the Lutherans," said Faber, "for the Turks observe fast-days and the[62] Lutherans violate them.[153] If we must choose between the Holy Scriptures of God and the old errors of the Church, we should reject the former."[154] "Every day in full assembly Faber casts some new stone against the Gospellers," says Melancthon.[155] "Oh, what an Iliad I should have to compose," added he, "if I were to report all these blasphemies!"

The priests called for the execution of the Edict of Worms, 1521, and the evangelical members of the commission, among whom were the Elector of Saxony and Sturm, demanded on the contrary the maintenance of the Edict of Spire, 1526. The latter thus remained within the bounds of legality, whilst their adversaries were driven to coups d'état. In fact, a new order of things having been legally established in the Empire, no one could infringe it; and if the diet presumed to destroy by force what had been constitutionally established three years before, the evangelical states had the right of opposing it. The majority of the commission felt that the re-establishment of the ancient order of things would be a revolution no less complete than the Reformation itself. How could they subject anew to Rome and to her clergy those nations in whose bosom the Word of God had been so richly spread abroad? For this reason, equally rejecting the demands of the priests and of the Evangelicals, the majority came to a resolution on the 24th March that every religious innovation should continue to be interdicted in the places where the Edict of Worms had been carried out; and that in those where the people had deviated from it, and where they could not conform to it without danger of revolt, they should at least effect no new reform, they should touch upon no controverted point, they should not oppose the celebration of the Mass, they should permit no Roman catholic to embrace Lutheranism,[156] they should not decline the Episcopal jurisdiction, and[63] should tolerate no Anabaptists or Sacramentarians. The status-quo and no proselytism—such were the essentials of this resolution.


The majority no longer voted as in 1526: the wind had turned against the Gospel. Accordingly this proposition, after having been delayed a few days by the festival of Easter, was laid before the diet on the 6th April, and passed on the 7th.[157]

If it became a law, the Reformation could neither be extended into those places where as yet it was unknown, nor be established on solid foundations in those where it already existed. The re-establishment of the Romish hierarchy, stipulated in the proposition, would infallibly bring back the ancient abuses; and the least deviation from so vexatious an ordinance would easily furnish the Romanists with a pretext for completing the destruction of a work already so violently shaken.

The Elector, the Landgrave, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Prince of Anhalt, and the Chancellor of Luneburg on one side, and the deputies for the cities on the other, consulted together. An entirely new order of things was to proceed from this council. If they had been animated by selfishness, they would perhaps have accepted this decree. In fact they were left free, in appearance at least, to profess their faith: ought they to demand more? could they do so? Were they bound to constitute themselves the champions of liberty of conscience in all the world? Never, perhaps, had there been a more critical situation; but these noble-minded men came victorious out of the trial. What! should they legalize by anticipation the scaffold and the torture! Should they oppose the Holy Ghost in its work of converting souls to Christ! Should they forget their Master's command: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature?" If one of the states of the empire desired some day to follow their example and be reformed, should they take away its[64] power of doing so? Having themselves entered the kingdom of heaven, should they shut the door after them? No! rather endure everything, sacrifice everything, even their states, their crowns, and their lives!


"Let us reject this decree," said the princes. "In matters of conscience the majority has no power."—"It is to the decree of 1526," added the cities, "that we are indebted for the peace that the empire enjoys: to abolish it would be to fill Germany with troubles and divisions. The diet is incompetent to do more than preserve religious liberty until a council meets." Such in fact is the grand attribute of the state, and if in our days the protestant powers should seek to influence the Romish governments, they should strive solely to obtain for the subjects of the latter that religious liberty which the Pope confiscates to his own advantage wherever he reigns alone, and by which he profits greatly in every evangelical state. Some of the deputies proposed refusing all assistance against the Turks, hoping thus to force the Emperor to interfere in this question of religion. But Sturm called upon them not to mingle political matters with the salvation of souls. They resolved therefore to reject the proposition, but without holding out any threats. It was this noble resolution that gained for modern times liberty of thought and independence of faith.

Ferdinand and the priests, who were no less resolute, determined however on vanquishing what they called a daring obstinacy; and they commenced with the weaker states. They began to frighten and divide the cities, which had hitherto pursued a common course. On the 12th April they were summoned before the diet: in vain did they allege the absence of some of their number, and ask for delay. It was refused, and the call was hurried on. Twenty-one free cities accepted the proposition of the diet, and fourteen rejected it. It was a bold act on the part of the latter, and was accomplished in the midst of the most painful sufferings. "This is the first trial," said Pfarrer, second deputy of Strasburg; "now will[65] come the second: we must either deny the Word of God or—be burnt."[158]


A violent proceeding of Ferdinand immediately commenced the series of humiliations that were reserved for the evangelical cities. A deputy of Strasburg should, in conformity with the decree of Worms, have been a member of the imperial government from the commencement of April. He was declared excluded from his rights, until the Mass should be re-established in Strasburg. All the cities united in protesting against this arbitrary act.

At the same time, the Elector-palatine and King Ferdinand himself begged the princes to accept the decree, assuring them that the Emperor would be exceedingly pleased with them. "We will obey the Emperor," replied they calmly, "in everything that may contribute to maintain peace and the honour of God."

It was time to put an end to this struggle. On the 18th April it was decreed that the evangelical states should not be heard again; and Ferdinand prepared to inflict the decisive blow on the morrow.

When the day came, the king appeared in the diet, surrounded by the other commissaries of the Empire, and by several bishops. He thanked the Roman catholics for their fidelity, and declared that the resolution having been definitively agreed to, it was about to be drawn up in the form of an imperial decree. He then announced to the Elector and his friends, that nothing more remained to them than to submit to the majority.


The evangelical princes, who had not expected so positive a declaration, were excited at this summons, and passed, according to custom, into an adjoining chamber to deliberate. But Ferdinand was not in a humour to wait for their answer. He rose, and all the imperial commissaries with him. Vain were all endeavours to stop him. "I have received an[66] order from his imperial majesty," replied he; "I have executed it. All is over."

Thus Charles's brother notifies an order to the christian princes, and then he retires without caring even if there was any reply to make. To no purpose they sent a deputation entreating the King to return. "It is a settled affair," repeated Ferdinand; "submission is all that remains."[159] This refusal completed the schism: it separated Rome from the Gospel. Perhaps more justice on the part of the Empire and of the Papacy might have prevented the rupture that since then has divided the Western Church.

VI. If the imperial party displayed such contempt, it was not without a cause. They felt that weakness was on the side of the Reformation, and strength on the side of Charles and of the Pope. But the weak have also their strength; and this the evangelical princes were aware of. As Ferdinand paid no attention to their reclamations, it remained for them to pay none to his absence, to appeal from the report of the diet to the Word of God, and from the Emperor Charles to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

They resolved upon this step. A declaration was drawn up to that effect, and this was the famous Protest that henceforward gave the name of Protestant to the renovated Church. The Elector and his allies having returned to the common hall of the diet, thus addressed the assembled states:—[160]


"Dear Lords, Cousins, Uncles, and Friends! Having repaired to this diet on the convocation of his majesty, and for the common good of the Empire and of Christendom, we have heard and learnt that the decisions of the last diet concerning[67] our holy Christian Faith are to be repealed, and that it is proposed to substitute for them restrictive and onerous resolutions.

"King Ferdinand and the other imperial commissaries, by affixing their seals to the last Recess of Spire, had promised, however, in the name of the Emperor, to carry out sincerely and inviolably all that it contained, and to permit nothing that was contrary to it. In like manner, also, you and we, electors, princes, prelates, lords, and deputies of the Empire, bound ourselves to maintain always and with all our might all the articles of this decree.

"We cannot therefore consent to its repeal.

"Firstly, because we believe that his imperial majesty, as well as you and we, are called to maintain firmly what has been unanimously and solemnly resolved.

"Secondly, because it concerns the glory of God and the salvation of our souls, and that in such matters we ought to have regard, above all, to the commandment of God, who is King of kings and Lord of lords; each of us rendering him account for himself, without caring the least in the world about majority or minority.[161]

"We form no judgment on that which concerns you, most dear lords; and we are content to pray God daily that he will bring us all to unity of faith, in truth, charity, and holiness through Jesus Christ, our Throne of Grace and our only Mediator.

"But in what concerns us, adhesion to your resolution (and let every honest man be judge!) would be acting against our conscience, condemning a doctrine that we maintain to be christian, and pronouncing that it ought to be abolished in our states, if we could do so without trouble.

"This would be to deny our Lord Jesus Christ, to reject his holy Word, and thus give him just reason to deny us in turn before his Father, as he has threatened.

"What! we ratify this edict! We assert that when Almighty God calls a man to His knowledge, this man cannot[68] however receive the knowledge of God! Oh! of what deadly backsliding should we not thus become the accomplices, not only among our own subjects, but also among yours!

"For this reason we reject the yoke that is imposed on us. And although it is universally known that in our states the holy sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord is becomingly administered, we cannot adhere to what the edict proposes against the Sacramentarians, seeing that the imperial edict did not speak of them, that they have not been heard, and that we cannot resolve upon such important points before the next council.

"Moreover"—and this is the essential part of the protest—"the new edict declaring the ministers shall preach the Gospel, explaining it according to the writings accepted by the holy Christian Church; we think that, for this regulation to have any value, we should first agree on what is meant by this true and holy Church. Now, seeing that there is great diversity of opinion in this respect; that there is no sure doctrine but such as is conformable to the Word of God; that the Lord forbids the teaching of any other doctrine; that each text of the Holy Scriptures ought to be explained by other and clearer texts; that this holy book is, in all things necessary for the Christian, easy of understanding, and calculated to scatter the darkness: we are resolved, with the grace of God, to maintain the pure and exclusive preaching of his only Word, such as it is contained in the biblical books of the Old and New Testament, without adding anything thereto that may be contrary to it.[162] This Word is the only truth; it is the sure rule of all doctrine and of all life, and can never fail or deceive us. He who builds on this foundation shall stand against all the powers of hell, whilst all the human vanities that are set up against it shall fall before the face of God.


"For these reasons, most dear Lords, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends, we earnestly entreat you to weigh carefully our grievances and our motives. If you do not yield to our request,[69] we Protest by these presents, before God, our only Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and Saviour, and who will one day be our Judge, as well as before all men and all creatures, that we, for us and for our people, neither consent nor adhere in any manner whatsoever to the proposed decree, in any thing that is contrary to God, to his holy Word, to our right conscience, to the salvation of our souls, and to the last decree of Spire.

"At the same time we are in expectation that his imperial majesty will behave towards us like a christian prince who loves God above all things; and we declare ourselves ready to pay unto him, as well as unto you, gracious lords, all the affection and obedience that are our just and legitimate duty."

Thus, in presence of the diet, spoke out those courageous men whom Christendom will henceforward denominate The Protestants.

They had barely finished when they announced their intention of quitting Spire on the morrow.[163]

This protest and declaration produced a deep impression. The diet was rudely interrupted and broken into two hostile parties,—thus preluding war. The majority became the prey of the liveliest fears. As for the Protestants relying, jure humano, upon the Edict of Spire, and jure divino, upon the Bible, they were full of courage and firmness.


The principles contained in this celebrated protest of the 19th April 1529, constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this protest opposes two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and the second is the arbitrary authority of the Church. Instead of these two abuses, Protestantism sets up above the magistrate the power of conscience; and above the visible Church the authority of the Word of God. It declines, in the first place, the civil power in divine things, and says with the Prophets and Apostles: We must obey God rather than man. In presence of the crown of Charles the Fifth, it uplifts the crown of Jesus Christ. But it goes farther: it lays down the principle,[70] that all human teaching should be subordinate to the oracles of God. Even the primitive Church, by recognising the writings of the Apostles, had performed an act of submission to this supreme authority, and not an act of authority, as Rome maintains; and the establishment of a tribunal charged with the interpretation of the Bible, had terminated only in slavishly subjecting man to man in that which should be the most unfettered—conscience and faith. In this celebrated act of Spire no doctor appears, and the Word of God reigns alone. Never has man exalted himself like the Pope; never have men kept in the back-ground like the Reformers.

A Romish historian maintains that the word Protestant signifies enemy of the Emperor and of the Pope.[164] If by this it is meant that Protestantism, in matters of faith, rejects the intervention both of the Empire and of the Papacy, it is well. Even this explanation, however, does not exhaust the meaning of the word, for Protestantism rejected the authority of man solely to place Jesus Christ on the throne of the Church, and his Word in the pulpit. There has never been anything more positive, and at the same time more aggressive, than the position of the Protestants at Spire. By maintaining that their faith is alone capable of saving the world, they defended with intrepid courage the rights of Christian Proselytism. We cannot abandon this Proselytism without deserting the Protestant principle.


The Protestants of Spire were not content to exalt the truth; they defended charity. Faber and the other Papal partizans had endeavoured to separate the princes, who in general walked with Luther, from the cities that ranged themselves rather on the side of Zwingle. Œcolampadius had immediately written to Melancthon, and enlightened him on the doctrines of the Zurich Reformer. He had indignantly rejected the idea that Christ was banished into a corner of heaven, and had energetically declared that, according to the Swiss Christians, Christ was in every place upholding all[71] things by the Word of his power.[165] "With the visible symbols," he added, "we give and we receive the invisible grace, like all the faithful."[166]

These declarations were not useless. There were at Spire two men who from different motives opposed the efforts of Faber, and seconded those of Œcolampadius. The Landgrave, ever revolving projects of alliance in his mind, felt clearly that if the Christians of Saxony and of Hesse allowed the condemnation of the Churches of Switzerland and of Upper Germany, they would by that very means deprive themselves of powerful auxiliaries.[167] Melancthon, who was far from desiring, as the Landgrave, a diplomatic alliance, for fear that it would hasten on a war, defended the great principles of justice, and exclaimed: "To what just reproaches should we not be exposed, were we to recognise in our adversaries the right of condemning a doctrine without having heard those who defend it!" The union of all evangelical Christians is therefore a principle of primitive Protestantism.

As Ferdinand had not heard the protest of the 19th April, a deputation of the evangelical states went the next day to present it to him. The brother of Charles the Fifth received it at first, but immediately after desired to return it. Then was witnessed a strange scene—the king refusing to keep the protest, and the deputies to take it back. At last the latter, from respect, received it from Ferdinand's hands; but they laid it boldly upon a table, and directly quitted the hall.


The king and the imperial commissaries remained in presence of this formidable writing. It was there—before their eyes—a significant monument of the courage and faith of the Protestants. Irritated against this silent but mighty witness, which accused his tyranny, and left him the responsibility of all the evils that were about to burst upon the Empire, the brother of Charles the Fifth called some of his councillors,[72] and ordered them instantly to carry back this important document to the Protestants.

All this was unavailing; the protest had been enregistered in the annals of the world, and nothing could erase it. Liberty of thought and of conscience had been conquered for ages to come. Thus all evangelical Germany, foreseeing these things, was moved at this courageous act, and adopted it as the expression of its will and of its faith. Men in every quarter beheld in it not a political event, but a christian action, and the youthful electoral prince, John Frederick, in this respect the organ of his age, cried to the Protestants of Spire: "May the Almighty, who has given you grace to confess energetically, freely, and fearlessly, preserve you in that christian firmness until the day of eternity!"[168]

While the christians were filled with joy, their enemies were frightened at their own work. The very day on which Ferdinand had declined to receive the protest, Tuesday, 20th April, at one in the afternoon, Henry of Brunswick and Philip of Baden presented themselves as mediators, announcing, however, that they were acting solely of their own authority. They proposed that there should be no more mention of the decree of Worms, and that the first decree of Spire should be maintained, but with a few modifications; that the two parties, while remaining free until the next council, should oppose every new sect, and tolerate no doctrine contrary to the sacrament of the Lord's body.[169]


On Wednesday, 21st April, the evangelical states did not appear adverse to these propositions; and even those who had embraced the doctrine of Zwingle declared boldly that such a proposal would not compromise their existence. "Only let us call to mind," said they, "that in such difficult matters we must act, not with the sword, but with the sure Word of God.[170] For, as Saint Paul says: What is not of faith is[73] sin. If therefore we constrain Christians to do what they believe unjust, instead of leading them by God's Word to acknowledge what is good, we force them to sin, and we incur a terrible responsibility."

The fanatics of the Roman party trembled as they saw the victory nearly escaping from them; for they rejected all compromise, and desired purely and simply the re-establishment of the Papacy. Their zeal overcame everything, and the negotiations were broken off.

On Thursday, 22d April, the diet assembled at seven in the morning, and the Recess was read precisely as it had been drawn up before, without even mentioning the attempt at conciliation which had just failed.

Faber triumphed. Proud of having the ear of kings, he tossed himself furiously about, and one would have said, to see him, relates an eye-witness, that he was a Cyclops forging in his cavern the monstrous chains with which he was about to bind the Reform and the Reformers.[171] The Papist princes, carried away by the tumult, gave the spur, says Melancthon, and flung themselves headlong into a path filled with dangers.[172] Nothing was left for the evangelical Christians but to fall on their knees and cry to the Lord. "All that remains for us to do," repeated Melancthon, "is to call upon the Son of God."[173]

The last sitting of the diet took place on the 24th April. The princes renewed their protest, in which fourteen free and imperial cities joined: and they next thought of giving their appeal a legal form.


On Sunday, 25th April, two notaries, Leonard Stetner of Freysingen and Pangrace Saltzmann of Bamberg, were seated before a small table in a narrow chamber on the ground-floor of a house situated in St. John's Lane, near the church[74] of the same name in Spire, and around them were the chancellors of the princes and of the evangelical cities, assisted by several witnesses.[174]

This little house belonged to an humble pastor, Peter Muterstatt, deacon of St. John's, who, taking the place of the Elector or of the Landgrave, had offered a domicile for the important act that was preparing. His name shall in consequence be transmitted to posterity. The document having been definitively drawn up, one of the notaries began reading it. "Since there is a natural communion between all men," said the Protestants, "and since even persons condemned to death are permitted to unite and appeal against their condemnation; how much more are we, who are members of the same spiritual body, the Church of the Son of God, children of the same heavenly Father, and consequently brothers in the Spirit,[175] authorized to unite when our salvation and eternal condemnation are concerned."

After reviewing all that had passed in the diet, and after intercalating in their appeal the principal documents that had reference to it, the Protestants ended by saying: "We therefore appeal for ourselves, for our subjects, and for all who receive or who shall hereafter receive the Word of God, from all past, present, or future vexatious measures, to his Imperial Majesty, and to a free and universal assembly of holy Christendom." This document filled twelve sheets of parchment; the signatures and seals were affixed to the thirteenth.


Thus in the obscure dwelling of the chaplain of St. John's was made the first confession of the true Christian union. In presence of the holy mechanical unity of the Pope, these confessors of Jesus raised the banner of the living unity of Christ; and, as in the days of our Saviour, if there were many synagogues in Israel, there was at least but one single temple. The Christians of Electoral Saxony, of Luneburg, of Anhalt,[75] of Hesse and the Margravate, of Strasburg, Nuremberg, Ulm, Constance, Lindau, Memmingen, Kempten, Nordlingen, Heilbron, Reutlingen, Isny, Saint Gall, Weissenburg, and Windsheim, clasped each other's hands on the 25th April, near the church of St. John, in the face of threatening persecutions. Among them might be found those who, like Zwingle, acknowledged in the Lord's Supper the entirely spiritual presence of Jesus Christ, as well as those who, like Luther, admitted his corporeal presence. There existed not at that time in the evangelical body any sects, hatred, or schism; christian unity was a reality. That upper chamber in which, during the early days of Christianity, the apostles with the women and the brethren "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,"[176] and that lower chamber where, in the first days of the Reformation, the renewed disciples of Jesus Christ presented themselves to the Pope and the Emperor, to the world and to the scaffold, as forming but one body, are the two cradles of the Church; and it is in this its hour of weakness and humiliation that it shines forth with the brightest glory.


After this appeal each one returned silently to his dwelling. Several tokens excited alarm for the safety of the Protestants. A short time previously Melancthon hastily conducted through the streets of Spire towards the Rhine his friend Simon Grynæus, pressing him to cross the river. The latter was astonished at such precipitation.[177] "An old man of grave and solemn appearance, but who is unknown to me," said Melancthon, "appeared before me and said: In a minute officers of justice will be sent by Ferdinand to arrest Grynæus." As he was intimate with Faber, and had been scandalized at one of his sermons, Grynæus had gone to him, and begged him no longer to make war against the truth. Faber had dissembled his anger, but immediately after repaired to the king, from whom he had obtained an order[76] against the importunate professor of Heidelberg.[178] Melancthon doubted not that God had saved his friend by sending one of His holy angels to forewarn him. Motionless on the banks of the Rhine he waited until the waters of that stream had rescued Grynæus from his persecutors. "At last," cried Melancthon, as he saw him on the opposite side, "he is torn from the cruel teeth of those who drink innocent blood."[179] When he returned to his house, Melancthon was informed that the officers in search of Grynæus had ransacked it from top to bottom.[180]

Nothing could detain the Protestants longer in Spire. Accordingly, on the morning after their appeal (Monday, 26th April), the Elector, the Landgrave, and the Dukes of Luneburg, quitted the city, reached Worms, and then returned by Hesse into their own states. The appeal of Spire was published by the Landgrave on the 5th, and by the Elector on the 13th May.

Melancthon had returned to Wittemberg on the 6th May, persuaded that the two parties were about to draw the sword. His friends were alarmed at seeing him agitated, exhausted, and like one dead.[181] "It is a great event that has just taken place at Spire," said he. "It is big with dangers, not only to the Empire, but also to Religion itself.[182] All the pains of hell oppress me."[183]


It was Melancthon's greatest affliction, that all these evils were attributed to him, as indeed he ascribed them himself. "One single thing has injured us," said he; "our not having approved, as was required of us, the edict against the Zwinglians."[77] Luther did not take this gloomy view of affairs; but he was far from comprehending the force of the protest. "The diet," said he, "has come to an end almost without results, except that those who scourge Jesus Christ have not been able to satisfy their fury."[184]

Posterity has not ratified this decision, and, on the contrary, dating from this epoch the definitive formation of Protestantism, it has hailed in the Protest of Spire one of the greatest movements recorded in history.

Let us see to whom the chief glory of this act belongs. The part taken by the princes, and especially by the Elector of Saxony, in the German Reformation, must strike every impartial observer. These are the true Reformers—the true Martyrs. The Holy Ghost, that bloweth where it listeth, had inspired them with the courage of the ancient confessors of the Church; and the God of Election was glorified in them. A little later perhaps this great part played by the princes might have produced deplorable consequences: there is no grace of God that man may not pervert. But nothing should prevent us from rendering honour to whom honour is due, and from adoring the work of the eternal Spirit in these eminent men who, under God, were in the sixteenth century the saviours of Christendom.

The Reformation had taken a bodily form. It was Luther alone who had said No at the Diet of Worms: but Churches and ministers, princes and people, said No at the Diet of Spire.

In no country had superstition, scholasticism, hierarchy, and popery, been so powerful as among the Germanic nations. These simple and candid people had humbly bent their neck to the yoke that came from the banks of the Tiber. But, there was in them a depth, a life, a need of interior liberty, which, sanctified by the Word of God, might render them the most energetic organs of christian truth. It was from them that was destined to emanate the reaction[78] against that material, external, and legal system, which had taken the place of Christianity; it was they who were called to shatter in pieces the skeleton which had been substituted for the spirit and the life, and restore to the heart of Christendom, ossified by the hierarchy, the generous beatings of which it had been deprived for so many ages. The Universal Church will never forget the debt it owes to the Princes of Spire and to Luther.


VII. The protest of Spire had still further increased the indignation of the Papal adherents; and Charles the Fifth, according to the oath he had made at Barcelona, set about preparing "a suitable antidote for the pestilential disease with which the Germans were attacked, and to avenge in a striking manner the insult offered to Jesus Christ."[185] The Pope, on his part, endeavoured to combine all the other princes of Christendom in this crusade; and the peace of Cambray, concluded on the 5th August, tended to the accomplishment of his cruel designs. It left the Emperor's hands free against the heretics. After having entered their protest at Spire, it was necessary for the Evangelicals to think of maintaining it.

The Protestant states that had already laid the foundations of an evangelical alliance at Spire, had agreed to send deputies to Rothach; but the Elector, staggered by the representations of Luther, who was continually saying to him, "It is by keeping yourselves tranquil and in quietness that you will be saved,"[186] ordered his deputies to listen to the propositions of his allies, but to decide upon nothing. They adjourned to a new conference, which never took place. Luther triumphed; for human alliances failed. "Christ the Lord will know how to deliver us without the Landgrave, and even against the Landgrave," said he to his friends.[187]



Philip of Hesse, who was vexed at Luther's obstinacy, was convinced that it arose from a dispute about words. "They will hear no mention of alliances because of the Zwinglians," said he; "well then, let us put an end to the contradictions that separate them from Luther."

The union of all the disciples of the Word of God seemed in fact a necessary condition to the success of the Reform. How could the Protestants resist the power of Rome and of the Empire, if they were divided? The Landgrave no doubt wished to unite their minds, that he might afterwards be able to unite their arms; but the cause of Christ was not to triumph by the sword. If they should succeed in uniting their hearts and prayers, the Reform would then find such strength in the faith of its children, that Philip's spearmen would no longer be necessary.

Unfortunately this union of minds, that was now to be sought after above all things, was a very difficult task. Luther in 1519 had at first appeared not only to reform, but entirely renovate the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, as the Swiss did somewhat later. "I go to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper," he had said, "and I there receive a sign from God that Christ's righteousness and passion justify me; such is the use of the Sacrament."[188] This discourse, which had gone through several impressions in the cities of Upper Germany, had prepared men's minds for the doctrine of Zwingle. Accordingly Luther, astonished at the reputation he had gained, published this solemn declaration in 1527: "I protest before God and before the whole world that I have never walked with the Sacramentarians."


Luther in fact was never Zwinglian as regards the Communion. Far from that, in 1519, he still believed in Transubstantiation. Why then should he speak of a sign? It was for this reason. While, according to Zwingle, the bread and wine are signs of the body and blood of Christ, according to Luther, the very body and blood of Jesus Christ are signs[80] of God's grace. These opinions are widely different from one another.

Erelong this disagreement declared itself. In 1527 Zwingle in his Friendly Exposition[189] repeated Luther's opinion with mildness and respect. Unfortunately the pamphlet of the Saxon Reformer "against the enthusiasts" was then issuing from the press, and in it Luther expressed his indignation that his adversaries should dare to speak of christian unity and peace. "Well!" exclaimed he, "since they thus insult all reason, I will give them a Lutheran warning.[190] Cursed be this concord! cursed be this charity! down, down with it, to the bottomless pit of hell! If I should murder your father, your mother, your wife, your child, and then, wishing to murder you, I should say to you, Let us be at peace, my dear friend! what answer would you make?—It is thus that the enthusiasts who murder Jesus Christ my Lord, God the Father, and Christendom my mother, wish to murder me also; and then they say, Let us be friends!"

Zwingle wrote two replies "to the excellent Martin Luther," in a cold tone and with a haughty calmness more difficult to pardon than the invectives of the Saxon doctor. "We ought to esteem you a vessel of honour, and we do so with joy," said he, "notwithstanding your faults." Pamphlet followed pamphlet, Luther always writing with the same impetuosity, and Zwingle with the same coolness and irony.


Such were the doctors whom the Landgrave undertook to reconcile. Already, during the sitting of the Diet of Spire, Philip of Hesse, who was afflicted at hearing the Papists continually repeating, "You boast of your attachment to the pure Word of God, and yet you are nevertheless disunited,"[191] had made overtures to Zwingle in writing. He now went[81] farther, and invited the theologians of the different parties to meet at Marburg. These invitations met with various receptions. Zwingle, whose heart was large and fraternal, answered the Landgrave's call; but Luther, who discovered leagues and battles behind this pretended concord, rejected it.

It seemed, however, that great difficulties would detain Zwingle. To travel from Zurich to Marburg, it was necessary to pass through the territories of the Emperor and of other enemies to the Reformation; the Landgrave himself did not conceal the dangers of the journey;[192] but in order to obviate these difficulties, he promised an escort from Strasburg to Hesse, and for the rest "the protection of God."[193] These precautions were not of a nature to reassure the Zurichers.

Reasons of another kind detained Luther and Melancthon. "It is not right," said they, "that the Landgrave has so much to do with the Zwinglians. Their error is of such a nature that people of acute minds are easily tainted by it. Reason loves what it understands, particularly when learned men clothe their ideas in a scriptural dress."

Melancthon did not stop here, but put forth the very extraordinary notion of selecting Papists as judges of the discussion. "If there were no impartial judges," said he, "the Zwinglians would have a good chance of boasting of victory."[194] Thus, according to Melancthon, Papists would be impartial judges when the real presence was the subject of discussion! He went still farther. "Let the Elector," he wrote on the 14th May to the Prince Electoral, "refuse to permit our journey to Marburg, so that we may allege this excuse." The Elector would not lend himself to so disgraceful a proceeding; and the Reformers of Wittemberg found themselves compelled to accede to the request of Philip of Hesse. But they did so with these words: "If the Swiss do not yield to us, all your trouble will be lost;" and they wrote to the theologians[82] among their friends who were convoked by the Prince: "Stay away if you can; your absence will be very useful to us."[195]


Zwingle, on the contrary, who would have gone to the end of the world, made every exertion to obtain from the magistrates of Zurich permission to visit Marburg. "I am convinced," said he to the secret council, "that if we doctors meet face to face, the splendour of truth will illuminate our eyes."[196] But the council that had only just signed the first religious peace,[197] and who feared to see war burst out afresh, positively refused to allow the departure of the Reformer.

Upon this Zwingle decided for himself. He felt that his presence was necessary for the maintenance of peace in Zurich; but it was the welfare of all Christendom that summoned him to Marburg. Accordingly, raising his eyes towards heaven, he resolved to depart, exclaiming, "O God! Thou hast never abandoned us; Thou wilt perform thy will for thine own glory."[198] During the night of the 31st August, Zwingle, who was unwilling to wait for the Landgrave's safe-conduct, prepared for his journey. Rodolph Collin, the Greek professor, was alone to accompany him. The Reformer wrote to the Smaller and to the Great Council: "If I leave without informing you, it is not because I despise your authority, most wise lords; but because, knowing the love you bear towards me, I foresee that your anxiety will oppose my going."


As he was writing these words, a fourth message arrived from the Landgrave, more pressing still than the preceding ones. The Reformer sent the prince's letter to the burgomaster with his own; he then quitted his house privily by night,[199] concealing his departure both from his friends,[83] whose importunity he feared, and from his enemies, whose snares he had good cause to dread. He did not even tell his wife where he was going, lest it should distress her. He and Collin then mounted two horses that had been hired for the purpose,[200] and rode off rapidly in the direction of Basle.

During the day the rumour of Zwingle's absence spread through Zurich, and his enemies were elated. "He has fled the country," said they; "he has run away with a pack of scoundrels!" "As he was crossing the river at Bruck," said others, "the boat upset and he was drowned." "The devil," affirmed many with a malicious smile, "appeared to him bodily and carried him off."[201]—"There was no end to their stories," says Bullinger. But the council immediately resolved on acceding to the wish of the Reformer. On the very day of his departure they appointed one of the councillors, Ulric Funck, to accompany him to Marburg, who forthwith set out with a domestic and one arquebusier. Strasburg and Basle in like manner sent statesmen in company with their theologians, under the idea that this conference would doubtless have also a political object.

Zwingle arrived safe and sound at Basle,[202] and embarked on the river on the 6th September with Œcolampadius and several merchants.[203] In thirteen hours they reached Strasburg, where the two Reformers lodged in the house of Matthew Zell, the cathedral preacher. Catherine, the pastor's wife, prepared the dishes in the kitchen, waited at table, according to the ancient German manners,[204] and then sitting down near Zwingle, listened attentively, and spoke with so much piety and knowledge, that the latter soon ranked her above many doctors.


Zwingle, after discussing with the Strasburg magistrates[84] the means of resisting the Romish league, and the organization to be given to the christian confederacy,[205] quitted Strasburg; and he and his friends, conducted along by-roads, through forests, over mountains and valleys, by secret but sure paths, at last arrived at Marburg, escorted by forty Hessian cavaliers.[206]

Luther, on his side, accompanied by Melancthon, Cruciger, and Jonas, had stopped on the Hessian frontier, declaring that nothing should induce him to cross it until he had a safe-conduct from the Landgrave. This document being obtained, Luther arrived at Alsfeld, where the scholars, kneeling under the Reformer's windows, chanted their pious hymns. He entered Marburg on the 30th September, a day after the arrival of the Swiss. Both parties went to inns; but they had scarcely alighted, before the Landgrave invited them to come and lodge in the castle, thinking by this means to bring the opposing parties closer together. Philip entertained them in a manner truly royal.[207] "Ah!" said the pious Jonas, as he wandered through the halls of the palace, "it is not in honour of the Muses, but in honour of God and of his Christ, that we are so munificently treated in these forests of Hesse!" After dinner, on the first day, Œcolampadius, Hedio, and Bucer, desirous of entering into the prince's views, went and saluted Luther. The latter conversed affectionately with Œcolampadius in the castle-court; but Bucer, with whom he had once been very intimate, and who was now on Zwingle's side, having approached him, Luther said to him, smiling, and making a sign with his hand: "As for you, you are a good-for-nothing fellow and a knave!"[208]


The unhappy Carlstadt, who had begun all this dispute, was at that time in Friesland, preaching the spiritual presence[85] of Christ, and living in such destitution that he had been forced to sell his Hebrew Bible to procure bread. The trial had crushed his pride, and he wrote to the Landgrave: "We are but one body, one house, one people, one sacerdotal race; we live and die by one and the same Saviour.[209] For this reason, I, poor and in exile, humbly pray your highness, by the blood of Jesus Christ, to allow me to be present at this disputation."

But how bring Luther and Carlstadt face to face? and yet how repel the unhappy man? The Landgrave, to extricate himself from this difficulty, referred him to the Saxon Reformer. Carlstadt did not appear.

Philip of Hesse desired that, previously to the public conference, the theologians should have a private interview. It was however considered dangerous, says a contemporary, for Zwingle and Luther, who were both naturally violent, to contend with one another at the very beginning; and as Œcolampadius and Melancthon were the mildest, they were apportioned to the roughest.[210] On Friday the 1st October, after divine service, Luther and Œcolampadius were conducted into one chamber, and Zwingle and Melancthon into another. The combatants were then left to struggle two and two.


The principal contest took place in the room of Zwingle and Melancthon. "It is affirmed," said Melancthon to Zwingle, "that some among you speak of God after the manner of the Jews, as if Christ was not essentially God." "I think on the Holy Trinity," replied Zwingle, "with the Council of Nice and the Athanasian creed." "Councils! creeds! What does that mean?" asked Melancthon. "Have you not continually repeated that you recognise no other authority than that of Scripture?" "We have never rejected the councils," replied the Swiss Reformer, "when they are based on the authority of the Word of God.[211] The four first councils are truly sacred as regards doctrine, and none of the faithful have[86] ever rejected them." This important declaration, handed down to us by Œcolampadius, characterizes the Reformed theology.[212]

"But you teach," resumed Melancthon, "like Thomas Munster, that the Holy Ghost acts quite alone, independently of the sacraments and of the Word of God." "The Holy Ghost," replied Zwingle, "works in us justification by the Word, but by the Word preached and understood, by the soul and the marrow of the Word, by the mind and will of God clothed in human language."[213]

"At least," continued Melancthon, "you deny original sin, and make sin to consist only in actual and external works, like the Pelagians, the philosophers, and the Papists."

This was the principal difficulty. "Since man naturally loves himself," replied Zwingle, "instead of loving God; in that there is a crime, a sin that condemns him."[214] He had more than once before expressed the same opinion;[215] and yet Melancthon exulted on hearing him: "Our adversaries," said he afterwards, "have given way on all these points!"

Luther had pursued the same method with Œcolampadius as Melancthon with Zwingle. The discussion had in particular turned on baptism. Luther complained that they would not acknowledge that by this simple sign a man became a member of the Church. "It is true," said Œcolampadius, "that we require faith—either an actual or a future faith. Why should we deny it? Who is a Christian, if it be not he who believes in Christ? However, I should be unwilling to deny that the water of baptism is in a certain sense a water of regeneration; for by it he whom the Church knew not becomes its child."[216]


These four theologians were in the very heat of their discussions, when domestics came to inform them that the prince's dinner was on the table. They immediately rose, and Zwingle and Melancthon meeting Luther and Œcolampadius, who were also quitting their chamber, the latter approached Zwingle, and whispered mournfully in his ear: "I have fallen a second time into the hands of Dr. Eck."[217] In the language of the Reformers nothing stronger could be said.

It does not appear that the conference between Luther and Œcolampadius was resumed after dinner. Luther's manner held out little hope; but Melancthon and Zwingle returned to the discussion, and the Zurich doctor finding the Wittemberg professor escape him like an eel, as he said, and take "like Proteus a thousand different forms," seized a pen in order to fix his antagonist. Zwingle committed to writing whatever Melancthon dictated, and then wrote his reply, giving it to the other to read.[218] In this manner they spent six hours, three in the morning and three in the afternoon.[219] They prepared for the general conference.

Zwingle requested that it should be an open one; Luther opposed this. It was resolved that the princes, nobles, deputies, and theologians should be admitted; but a great crowd of citizens, and even many scholars and gentlemen, who had come from Frankfort, from the Rhine districts, from Strasburg, from Basle and other Swiss towns, were excluded. Brenz speaks of fifty or sixty hearers; Zwingle of twenty-four only.[220]



On a gentle elevation, watered by the Lahn, is situated an old castle, overlooking the city of Marburg; in the distance is seen the beautiful valley of the Lahn, and beyond, the mountain-tops rising one above another, until they are lost in the horizon. It was beneath the vaults and Gothic arches of an ancient hall in this castle, called the Knights' Hall, that the conference was to take place.

On Saturday morning (2d October) the Landgrave took his seat in the hall, surrounded by his court, but so plainly dressed that no one would have taken him for a prince. He wished to avoid the appearance of playing the part of a Constantine in the affairs of the Church. Before him was a table which Luther, Zwingle, Melancthon, and Œcolampadius approached. Luther, taking a piece of chalk, bent over the velvet cloth which covered it, and steadily wrote four words in large characters. All eyes followed the movement of his hand, and soon they read Hoc est Corpus Meum.[221] Luther wished to have this declaration continually before him, that it might strengthen his faith, and be a sign to his adversaries.

Behind these four theologians were seated their friends,—Hedio, Sturm, Funck, Frey, Eberard, Than, Jonas, Cruigerc, and others besides. Jonas cast an inquiring glance upon the Swiss: "Zwingle," said he, "has a certain rusticity and arrogance;[222] if he is well versed in letters, it is in spite of Minerva and of the Muses. In Œcolampadius there is a natural goodness and admirable meekness. Hedio seems to have as much liberality as kindness; but I find in Bucer the cunning of a fox, that knows how to give himself an air of sense and prudence." Men of moderate sentiments often meet with worse treatment than those of the extreme parties.


Other sentiments animated those who contemplated this assembly from a distance. The great men who had led the people in their footsteps on the plains of Saxony, on the banks[89] of the Rhine, and in the lofty valleys of Switzerland, were there met face to face: the Chiefs of Christendom, separated from Rome, were come together to see if they could remain one. Accordingly, from all parts of Germany, prayers and anxious looks were directed towards Marburg. "Illustrious princes of the Word,"[223] cried the evangelical Church through the mouth of the poet Cordus, "penetrating Luther, mild Œcolampadius, magnanimous Zwingle, pious Snepf, eloquent Melancthon, courageous Bucer, candid Hedio, excellent Osiander, valiant Brenz, amiable Jonas, fiery Craton, Mænus, whose soul is stronger than his body, great Dionysius, and you Myconius—all you whom Prince Philip, that illustrious hero, has summoned, ministers and bishops, whom the christian cities have sent to terminate the schism, and to show us the way of truth; the suppliant Church falls weeping at your feet, and begs you by the bowels of Jesus Christ to bring this matter to a happy issue, so that the world may acknowledge in your resolution the work of the Holy Ghost himself."[224]

The Landgrave's chancellor, John Feige, having reminded them in the prince's name that the object of this colloquy was the re-establishment of union, "I protest," said Luther, "that I differ from my adversaries with regard to the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, and that I shall always differ from them. Christ has said, This is my body. Let them show me that a body is not a body. I reject reason, common sense, carnal arguments, and mathematical proofs. God is above mathematics.[225] We have the Word of God; we must adore it and perform it!"


"It cannot be denied," said Œcolampadius, "that there are figures of speech in the Word of God; as John is Elias, the rock was Christ, I am the vine. The expression This is my body, is a figure of the same kind." Luther granted that[90] there were figures in the Bible, but he denied that this last expression was figurative.

All the various parties, however, of which the Christian Church is composed see a figure in these words. In fact, the Romanists declare that This is my body signifies not only "my body," but also "my blood," "my soul," and even "my Divinity," and "Christ wholly.[226]" These words, therefore, according to Rome, are a synecdoche, a figure by which a part is taken for the whole. And, as regards the Lutherans, the figure is still more evident.[227] Whether it be synecdoche, metaphor, or metonymy, there is still a figure. In order to prove it, Œcolampadius employed this syllogism:—

"What Christ rejected in the sixth chapter of St. John, he could not admit in the words of the Eucharist.

"Now Christ, who said to the people of Capernaum, The flesh profiteth nothing, rejected by those very words the oral manducation of his body.

"Therefore he did not establish it at the institution of his Supper."

Luther.—"I deny the minor (the second of these propositions); Christ has not rejected all oral manducation, but only a material manducation, like that of the flesh of oxen or of swine."[228]

Œcolampadius.—"There is danger in attributing too much to mere matter."


Luther.—"Every thing that God commands becomes spirit and life. If it is by the Lord's order that we lift up a straw, in that very action we perform a spiritual work. We must pay attention to him who speaks, and not to what he says. God speaks: Men, worms, listen!—God commands:[91] let the world obey! and let us all together fall down and humbly kiss the Word."[229]

Œcolampadius.—"But since we have the spiritual eating, what need of the bodily one?"

Luther.—"I do not ask what need we have of it; but I see it written, Eat, this is my body. We must therefore believe and do. We must do—we must do![230]—If God should order me to eat dung, I would do it, with the assurance that it would be salutary."[231]

At this point Zwingle interfered in the discussion. "We must explain Scripture by Scripture," said he. "We cannot admit two kinds of corporeal manducation, as if Jesus had spoken of eating, and the Capernaites of tearing in pieces, for the same word is employed in both cases. Jesus says that to eat his flesh corporeally profiteth nothing (John vi. 63); whence it would result that he had given us in the Supper a thing that would be useless to us.—Besides there are certain words that seem to me rather childish,—the dung, for instance. The oracles of the demons were obscure, not so are those of Jesus Christ."

Luther.—"When Christ says the flesh profiteth nothing, he speaks not of his own flesh, but of ours."

Zwingle.—"The soul is fed with the Spirit and not with the flesh."

Luther.—"It is with the mouth that we eat the body; the soul does not eat it."[232]

Zwingle.—"Christ's body is therefore a corporeal nourishment, and not a spiritual."

Luther.—"You are captious."

Zwingle.—"Not so; but you utter contradictory things."

Luther.—"If God should present me wild apples, I should[92] eat them spiritually. In the Eucharist, the mouth receives the body of Christ, and the soul believes in his words."


Zwingle then quoted a great number of passages from the Holy Scripture, in which the sign is described by the very thing signified; and thence concluded that, considering our Lord's declaration in St. John, The flesh profiteth nothing, we must explain the words of the Eucharist in a similar manner.

Many hearers were struck by these arguments. Among the Marburg professors sat the Frenchman Lambert; his tall and spare frame was violently agitated. He had been at first of Luther's opinion,[233] and was then hesitating between the two Reformers. As he went to the conference, he said: "I desire to be a sheet of blank paper, on which the finger of God may write his truth." Ere long he exclaimed, after hearing Zwingle and Œcolampadius: "Yes! the Spirit, that is what vivifies!"[234] When this conversion was known, the Wittembergers, shrugging their shoulders, said, "Gallic fickleness!" "What!" replied Lambert, "was St. Paul fickle because he was converted from Pharisaism? And have we ourselves been fickle in abandoning the lost sects of Popery?"

Luther was, however, by no means shaken. "This is my body," repeated he, pointing with his finger to the words written before him. "This is my body. The devil himself shall not drive me from that. To seek to understand it, is to fall away from the faith."[235]

"But, doctor," said Zwingle, "St. John explains how Christ's body is eaten, and you will be obliged at last to leave off singing always the same song."


"You make use of unmannerly expressions," replied Luther[236]. The Wittembergers themselves called Zwingle's argument "his old song."[237] Zwingle continued without being[93] disconcerted: "I ask you, doctor, whether Christ in the sixth chapter of St. John did not wish to reply to the question that had been put to him?"

Luther.—"Mr. Zwingle, you wish to stop my mouth by the arrogancy of your language. That passage has nothing to do here."

Zwingle, hastily.—"Pardon me, doctor, that passage breaks your neck."

Luther.—"Do not boast so much! You are in Hesse, and not in Switzerland. In this country we do not break people's necks."

Then turning towards his friends, Luther complained bitterly of Zwingle; as if the latter had really wished to break his neck. "He makes use of soldier-like and blood-stained words," said he.[238] Luther forgot that he had employed a similar expression in speaking of Carlstadt.[239]

Zwingle resumed: "In Switzerland also there is strict justice, and we break no man's neck without trial. That expression signifies merely that your cause is lost and hopeless."

Great agitation prevailed in the Knights' Hall. The roughness of the Swiss and the obstinacy of the Saxon had come into collision. The Landgrave, fearing to behold the failure of his project of conciliation, nodded assent to Zwingle's explanation. "Doctor," said he to Luther, "you should not be offended at such common expressions." It was in vain: the agitated sea could not again be calmed. The prince therefore arose, and they all repaired to the banqueting hall. After dinner they resumed their tasks.

"I believe," said Luther, "that Christ's body is in heaven, but I also believe that it is in the sacrament. It concerns me little whether that be against nature, provided that it is not against faith.[240] Christ is substantially in the sacrament, such as he was born of the Virgin."



Œcolampadius, quoting a passage from St. Paul: "We know not Jesus Christ after the flesh."[241]

Luther.—"After the flesh means, in this passage, after our carnal affections."[242]

Œcolampadius.—"You will not allow that there is a metaphor in these words, This is my body, and yet you admit a synecdoche."

Luther.—"Metaphor permits the existence of a sign only; but it is not so with synecdoche. If a man says he wishes to drink a bottle, we understand that he means the beer in the bottle. Christ's body is in the bread, as a sword in the scabbard,[243] or as the Holy Ghost in the dove."

The discussion was proceeding in this manner, when Osiander, pastor of Nuremberg, Stephen Agricola, pastor of Augsburg, and Brenz, pastor of Halle in Swabia, author of the famous Syngramma, entered the hall. These also had been invited by the Landgrave. But Brenz, to whom Luther had written that he should take care not to appear, had no doubt by his indecision retarded his own departure as well as that of his friends. Places were assigned them near Luther and Melancthon. "Listen, and speak if necessary," they were told. They took but little advantage of this permission. "All of us, except Luther," said Melancthon, "were silent personages."[244]

The struggle continued.

When Zwingle saw that exegesis was not sufficient for Luther, he added dogmatical theology to it, and, subsidiarily, natural philosophy.


"I oppose you," said he, "with this article of our faith: Ascendit in cælum—he ascended into heaven. If Christ is in heaven as regards his body, how can he be in the bread? The Word of God teaches us that he was like his brethren[95] in all things (Heb. ii. 17). He therefore cannot be in several places at once."

Luther.—"Were I desirous of reasoning thus, I would undertake to prove that Jesus Christ had a wife; that he had black eyes,[245] and lived in our good country of Germany.[246] I care little about mathematics."

"There is no question of mathematics here," said Zwingle, "but of St. Paul, who writes to the Philippians, μορφἡν δοὑλου λαβὡν."[247]

Luther, interrupting him.—"Read it to us in Latin or in German, not in Greek."

Zwingle (in Latin).—"Pardon me: for twelve years past I have made use of the Greek Testament only." Then continuing to read the passage, he concluded from it that Christ's humanity is of a finite nature like our own.

Luther, pointing to the words written before him.—"Most dear sirs, since my Lord Jesus Christ says, Hoc est corpus meum, I believe that his body is really there."

Here the scene grew animated. Zwingle started from his chair, sprung towards Luther, and striking the table before him, said to him:[248]

"You maintain then, doctor, that Christ's body is locally in the Eucharist; for you say Christ's body is really theretherethere," repeated Zwingle. "There is an adverb of place.[249] Christ's body is then of such a nature as to exist in a place. If it is in a place, it is in heaven, whence it follows that it is not in the bread."

Luther.—"I repeat that I have nothing to do with mathematical proofs. As soon as the words of consecration are pronounced over the bread, the body is there, however wicked be the priest who pronounces them."


[96]Zwingle.—"You are thus re-establishing Popery.[250]"

Luther.—"This is not done through the priest's merits, but because of Christ's ordinance. I will not, when Christ's body is in question, hear speak of a particular place. I absolutely will not."

Zwingle.—"Must every thing, then, exist precisely as you will it?"

The Landgrave perceived that the discussion was growing hot; and as the repast was waiting, he broke off the contest.[251]

The next day was Sunday, the 3d October. The conference was continued, perhaps because of an epidemic (the Sweating Sickness) that had just broken out at Marburg, and did not allow of the conference being prolonged. Luther, returning to the discussion of the previous evening, said:

"Christ's body is in the sacrament, but it is not there as in a place."

Zwingle.—"Then it is not there at all."

Luther.—"Sophists say that a body may very well be in several places at once. The universe is a body, and yet we cannot assert that it is in a particular place."

Zwingle.—"Ah! you speak of sophists, doctor: really you are, after all, obliged to return to the onions and flesh-pots of Egypt.[252] As for what you say, that the universe is in no particular place, I beg all intelligent men to weigh this proof." Then Zwingle, who, whatever Luther said, had more than one arrow in his quiver, after having established his proposition by exegesis and philosophy, resolved on confirming it by the testimony of the Fathers of the Church.


"Listen," said he, "to what Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspa, in Numidia, said, in the fifth century, to Trasamond, king of the Vandals: 'The Son of God took the attributes of true humanity, and did not lose those of true Divinity. Born in time, according to his mother, he lives in eternity according to the Divinity that he holds from the Father: coming from man,[97] he is man, and consequently in a place; proceeding from the Father, he is God, and consequently present in every place. According to his human nature, he was absent from heaven while he was upon earth, and he quitted the earth when he ascended into heaven; but, according to his Divine nature, he remained in heaven when he came down thence, and he did not abandon the earth when he returned thither.'"[253]

But Luther still replied: "It is written, This is my body." Zwingle, becoming impatient, said, "All that is idle wrangling. An obstinate disputant might also maintain this expression of our Saviour to his mother, Behold thy son, pointing to St. John. Vain would be all explanation; he would not cease to cry, No, no! He said, Ecce filius tuus, Behold thy son, behold thy son! Listen to a new testimony; it is from the great Augustin: 'Let us not think,' says he, 'that Christ, according to his human form, is present in every place; let us beware, in our endeavour to establish his Divinity, of taking away his truth from his body. Christ is now every where present like God; and yet, in consequence of his real body, he is in a definite part of heaven.'"[254]

"St. Augustin," replied Luther, "is not here speaking of the Eucharist. Christ's body is not in the Eucharist as in a place."

Œcolampadius saw that he might take advantage of this assertion of Luther's. "The body of Christ," said he, "is not locally in the Eucharist, therefore no real body is there; for every one knows that the essence of a body is its existence in a place."

Here finished the morning's discussion.


Œcolampadius, upon reflection, felt convinced that Luther's assertion might be looked upon as an approximation. "I remember," said he after dinner, "that the doctor conceded this morning that Christ's body was not in the sacrament as in[98] a place. Let us therefore inquire amicably what is the nature of Christ's bodily presence."

"You will not make me take a step further," exclaimed Luther, who saw where they wished to drag him; "you have Fulgentius and Augustin on your side, but all the other Fathers are on ours."

Œcolampadius, who seemed to the Wittembergers to be vexatiously precise,[255] then said, "Name these doctors. We will take upon ourselves to prove that they are of our opinion."

"We will not name them to you,"[256] said Luther. "It was in his youth," added he, "that Augustin wrote what you have quoted; and, besides, he is an obscure author." Then, retreating to the ground which he had resolved never to quit, he was no longer content to point his finger at the inscription, Hoc est corpus meum, but seized the velvet cover on which the words were written, pulled it off the table, held it up in front of Zwingle and Œcolampadius, and placing it before their eyes,[257] "See!" said he, "see! This is our text; you have not yet driven us from it, as you had boasted, and we care for no other proofs."

"If this be the case," said Œcolampadius, "we had better leave off the discussion. But I will first declare, that, if we quote the Fathers, it is only to free our doctrine from the reproach of novelty, and not to support our cause by their authority." No better definition can be given of the legitimate use of the Doctors of the Church.


There was no reason, in fact, for prolonging the conference. "As Luther was of an intractable and imperious disposition," says even his great apologist Seckendorf, "he did[99] not cease from calling upon the Swiss to submit simply to his opinion."[258]

The Chancellor, alarmed at this termination of the colloquy, exhorted the theologians to come to an understanding. "I know but one means for that," said Luther; "and this it is: Let our adversaries believe as we do." "We cannot," replied the Swiss. "Well then," replied Luther, "I abandon you to God's judgment, and pray that he will enlighten you." "We will do the same," added Œcolampadius.

While these words were passing, Zwingle was silent, motionless, and deeply moved; and the liveliness of his affections, of which he had given more than one proof during the conference, was then manifested in a very different manner. He burst into tears in the presence of all.

The conference was ended. It had been in reality more tranquil than the documents seem to show, or perhaps the chroniclers appreciated such matters differently from ourselves. "With the exception of a few sallies, all had passed off quietly, in a courteous manner, and with very great gentleness," says an eye-witness.[259] "During the colloquy no other words than these were heard: 'Sir, and very dear friend, your charity,' or other similar expressions. Not a word of schism or of heresy. It might have been said that Luther and Zwingle were brothers, and not adversaries."[260] This is the testimony of Brenz. But these flowers concealed an abyss, and Jonas, also an eye-witness, styles the conference "a very sharp contest."[261]


The contagion that had suddenly broken out in Marburg was creating frightful ravages, and filled everybody with alarm.[262] Each one was anxious to leave the city. "Sirs,"[100] remarked the Landgrave, "you cannot separate thus." And desirous of giving the doctors an opportunity of meeting one another with minds unoccupied by theological debates, he invited them all to his table. This was Sunday night.

Philip of Hesse had all along shown the most constant attention, and each one imagined him to be on his side. "I would rather place my trust in the simple words of Christ, than in the subtle thoughts of man," was a remark he made, according to Jonas;[263] but Zwingle affirmed that this prince thought now as he did, although with regard to certain persons he dissembled his opinions. Luther, sensible of the weakness of his defence as to the declarations of the Fathers, transmitted a note to Philip, in which several passages were pointed out from Hilary, Chrysostom, Cyprian, Irenæus, and Ambrose, which he thought were in his favour.

The time of departure drew near, and nothing had been done. The Landgrave toiled earnestly at the union, as Luther wrote to his wife.[264] He invited the theologians one after another into his closet;[265] he pressed, entreated, warned, exhorted, and conjured them. "Think," said he, "of the salvation of the christian republic, and remove all discord from its bosom."[266] Never had general at the head of an army taken such pains to win a battle.


A final general meeting took place and undoubtedly the Church has seldom witnessed one of greater solemnity. Luther and Zwingle, Saxony and Switzerland, met for the last time. The Sweating Sickness was carrying off men around them by thousands;[267] Charles the Fifth and the Pope were uniting in Italy; Ferdinand and the Roman-catholic princes were preparing to tear in pieces the Protest of Spire; the thunder-cloud became more threatening every day; union[101] alone seemed capable of saving the Protestants, and the hour of departure was about to strike—an hour that would separate them perhaps for ever.

"Let us confess our union in all things in which we agree," said Zwingle; "and as for the rest, let us remember that we are brothers. There will never be peace between the Churches if, while we maintain the grand doctrine of salvation by faith, we cannot differ on secondary points."[268] Such is, in fact, the true principle of christian union. The sixteenth century was still too deeply sunk in scholasticism to understand this: let us hope that the nineteenth century will comprehend it better.

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the Landgrave; "you agree! Give then a testimony of your unity, and recognise one another as brothers."—"There is no one upon earth with whom I more desire to be united, than with you," said Zwingle, approaching the Wittemberg doctors.[269] Œcolampadius, Bucer, and Hedio said the same.

"Acknowledge them! acknowledge them as brothers!" continued the Landgrave.[270] Their hearts were moved; they were on the eve of unity: Zwingle, bursting into tears, in the presence of the Prince, the courtiers, and divines (it is Luther himself who records this),[271] approaches Luther, and holds out his hand. The two families of the Reformation were about to be united: long quarrels were about to be stifled in their cradle; but Luther rejects the hand that is offered him: "You have a different spirit from ours," said he. These words communicate to the Swiss, as it were, an electrical shock. Their hearts sunk each time Luther repeated them, and he did so frequently. It is he himself who is our informant.



A brief consultation took place among the Wittemberg doctors. Luther, Melancthon, Agricola, Brenz, Jonas, and Osiander, conferred together. Convinced that their peculiar doctrine on the Eucharist was essential to salvation, they considered all those who rejected it as without the pale of the faith. "What folly!"[272] said Melancthon, who afterwards almost coincided with Zwingle's sentiments: "they condemn us, and yet they desire we should consider them as our brothers!" "What versatility!" added Brenz: "they accused us but lately of worshipping a bread-god, and they now ask for communion with us!"[273] Then, turning towards Zwingle and his friends, the Wittembergers said: "You do not belong to the communion of the Christian Church: we cannot acknowledge you as brethren!"[274]

The Swiss were far from partaking of this sectarian spirit. "We think," said Bucer, "that your doctrine strikes at the glory of Jesus Christ, who now reigns at the right hand of the Father. But seeing that in all things you acknowledge your dependence on the Lord, we look at your conscience, which compels you to receive the doctrine you profess, and we do not doubt that you belong to Christ."

"And we," said Luther—"we declare to you once more that our conscience opposes our receiving you as brethren."—"If such is the case," replied Bucer, "it would be folly to ask it."

"I am exceedingly astonished that you wish to consider me as your brother," pursued Luther. "It shows clearly that you do not attach much importance to your own doctrine."


"Take your choice," said Bucer, proposing a dilemma to the Reformer: "either you should not acknowledge as brethren those who differ from you in any point—and if so, you will not find a single brother in your own ranks[275]—or else[103] you will receive some of those who differ from you, and then you ought to receive us."

The Swiss had exhausted their solicitations. "We are conscious," said they, "of having acted as if in the presence of God. Posterity will be our witness."[276] They were on the point of retiring: Luther remained like a rock, to the Landgrave's great indignation.[277] The Hessian divines, Kraft, Lambert, Snepf, Lonicer, and Melander, united their exertions to those of the Prince.

Luther was staggered, and conferred anew with his colleagues. "Let us beware," said he to his friends, "of wiping our noses too roughly, lest blood should come."[278]

Then turning to Zwingle and Œcolampadius, they said: "We acknowledge you as friends; we do not consider you as brothers and members of Christ's Church.[279] But we do not exclude you from that universal charity which we owe even to our enemies."[280]

The hearts of Zwingle, Œcolampadius, and Bucer, were ready to burst,[281] for this concession was almost a new insult. Nevertheless they resolved to accept what was offered them. "Let us carefully avoid all harsh and violent words and writings," said they; "and let each one defend himself without railing."[282]

Luther then advanced towards the Swiss, and said: "We consent, and I offer you the hand of peace and charity." The Swiss rushed in great emotion towards the Wittembergers, and all shook hands.[283] Luther himself was softened:[104] christian charity resumed her rights in his heart. "Assuredly," said he, "a great portion of the scandal is taken away by the suppression of our fierce debates; we could not have hoped for so much. May Christ's hand remove the last obstacle that separates us.[284] There is now a friendly concord between us, and if we persevere in prayer, brotherhood will come."


It was desirable to confirm this important result by a report. "We must let the christian world know," said the Landgrave, "that, except the manner of the presence of the body and blood in the Eucharist, you are agreed in all the articles of faith."[285] This was resolved on; but who should be charged with drawing up the paper? All eyes were turned upon Luther. The Swiss themselves appealed to his impartiality.

Luther retired to his closet, lost in thought, uneasy, and finding the task very difficult. "On the one hand," said he, "I should like to spare their weakness;[286] but, on the other, I would not in the least degree strike at the holy doctrine of Christ." He did not know how to set about it, and his anguish increased. He got free at last. "I will draw up the articles," said he, "in the most accurate manner. Do I not know that whatever I write, they will never sign them?"[287] Erelong fifteen articles were committed to paper, and Luther, holding them in his hand, repaired to the theologians of the two parties.


These articles are of importance. The two doctrines that were evolved in Switzerland and in Saxony, independently of each other, were brought together and compared. If they were of man, there would be found in them a servile uniformity, or a remarkable opposition. This was not the case.[105] A great unity was found between the German and the Swiss Reformations, for they both proceeded from the same Divine teaching; and a diversity on secondary points, for it was by man's instrumentality that God had effected them.

Luther took his paper, and reading the first article, said:

"First, we believe that there is one sole, true, and natural God, Creator of heaven and earth and of all creatures; and that this same God, one in essence and in nature, is threefold in person, that is to say, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as was declared in the Nicene Council, and as all the Christian Church professes."

To this the Swiss gave their assent.

They were agreed also on the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ; on his death and resurrection, on original sin, justification by faith, the operation of the Holy Ghost and of the Word of God, baptism, good works, confession, civil order, and tradition.

Thus far all were united. The Wittembergers could not recover from their astonishment.[288] The two parties had rejected, on the one hand, the errors of the Papists, who make religion little more than an outward form; and, on the other, those of the Enthusiasts, who speak exclusively of internal feelings; and they were found drawn up under the same banners between these two camps. But the moment was come that would separate them. Luther had kept till the last the article on the Eucharist.

The Reformer resumed:

"We all believe with regard to the Lord's Supper, that it ought to be celebrated in both kinds, according to the primitive institution; that the Mass is not a work by which a Christian obtains pardon for another man, whether dead or alive; that the sacrament of the altar is the sacrament of the very body and very blood of Jesus Christ; and that the spiritual manducation of this body and blood is specially necessary to every true Christian."[289]



It was now the turn of the Swiss to be astonished. Luther continued:

"In like manner, as to the use of the sacrament, we are agreed that, like the Word, it was ordained of Almighty God, in order that weak consciences might be excited by the Holy Ghost to faith and charity."

The joy of the Swiss was redoubled. Luther continued: "And although at present we are not agreed on the question whether the real body and blood of Christ are corporeally present in the bread and wine, yet both the interested parties shall cherish more and more a truly christian charity for one another, so far as conscience permits; and we will all earnestly implore the Lord to condescend by his Spirit to confirm us in the sound doctrine."[290]

The Swiss obtained what they had asked: unity in diversity. It was immediately resolved to hold a solemn meeting for the signature of the articles.

They were read over again. Œcolampadius, Zwingle, Bucer, and Hedio, signed them first on one copy; while Luther, Melancthon, Jonas, Osiander, Brentz, and Agricola, wrote their names on the other; both parties then signed the copy of their adversaries, and this important document was sent to the press.[291]


Thus the Reformation had made a sensible step at Marburg. The opinion of Zwingle on the spiritual presence, and of Luther on the bodily presence, are both found in christian antiquity; but both the extreme doctrines have been always rejected: that of the Rationalists, on the one hand, who behold in the Eucharist nothing but a simple commemoration; and of the Papists, on the other, who adore in it a transubstantiation. These are both errors; while the doctrines[107] of Luther and Zwingle, and the medium taken by Calvin, already maintained by some of the Fathers, were considered in ancient times as different views of the same truth. If Luther had yielded, it might have been feared that the Church would fall into the extreme of Rationalism; if Zwingle, that it would rush into the extreme of Popery. It is a salutary thing for the Church that these different views should be entertained; but it is a pernicious thing for individuals to attach themselves to one of them, in such a manner as to anathematize the others. "There is only this little stumbling-block," wrote Melancthon, "that embarrasses the Church of our Lord."[292] All,—Romanists and Evangelicals, Saxons and Swiss, admitted the presence, and even the real presence of Christ; but here was the essential point of separation: Is this presence effected by the faith of the communicant, or by the opus operatum of the priest? The germs of Popery, Sacerdotalism, Puseyism, are inevitably contained in this latter thesis. If it is maintained that a wicked priest (as has been said) operates this real presence of Christ by three words, we enter the Church of the Pope. Luther appeared sometimes to admit this doctrine, but he has often spoken in a more spiritual manner; and taking this great man in his best moments, we behold no more than an essential unity and a secondary diversity in the two parties of the Reformation. Undoubtedly the Lord has left his Church outward seals of his grace; but he has not attached salvation to these signs. The essential point is the connexion of the faithful with the Word, with the Holy Ghost, with the Head of the Church. This is the great truth which the Reform proclaims, and which Lutheranism itself recognises. After the Marburg conference, the controversy became more moderate.

There was another advantage. The evangelical divines at Marburg marked with one accord their separation from the Papacy. Zwingle was not without fear (unfounded, no doubt) with regard to Luther: these fears were dispersed.[108] "Now that we are agreed," said he, "the Papists will no longer hope that Luther will ever be one of them."[293] The Marburg articles are the first bulwark erected in common by the Reformers against Rome.

It was not, then, in vain that, after the protest of Spire, Philip of Hesse endeavoured, at Marburg, to bring together the friends of the Gospel. But, if the religious object was partially attained, the political object almost entirely failed. They could not arrive at a confederation of Switzerland and Germany. Nevertheless, Philip of Hesse and Zwingle, with a view to this, had numerous secret conversations, which made the Saxons uneasy, as they were not less opposed to Zwingle's politics than to his theology. "When you have reformed the peasant's cap," said Jonas to him, "you will also claim to reform the sable hat of princes."

The Landgrave, having collected all the doctors at his table on the last day, they shook hands in a friendly manner,[294] and each one thought of leaving the town.


On Tuesday the 5th October, the Landgrave quitted Marburg early, and in the afternoon of the same day Luther departed, accompanied by his colleagues; but he did not go forth as a conqueror. A spirit of dejection and alarm had taken possession of his mind.[295] He writhed in the dust, like a worm, according to his own expression. He fancied he should never see his wife and children again, and cried out that he, "the consoler of so many tortured souls, was now without any consolation!"[296]


This state might partly arise from Luther's want of brotherly feeling; but it had other causes also. Soliman had come to fulfil a promise made to King Ferdinand. The latter having demanded, in 1528, the surrender of Belgrade, the[109] Sultan had haughtily replied, that he would bring the keys himself to Vienna. In fact, the Grand Turk, crossing the frontiers of Germany, had invaded countries "on which the hoofs of the Mussulman war-horses had never trod," and eight days before the conference at Marburg, he had covered with his innumerable tents the plain and the fertile hills in the midst of which rise the walls of Vienna. The struggle had begun under ground, the two parties having dug deep galleries beneath the ramparts. Three different times the Turkish mines were sprung; the walls were thrown down;[297] "the balls flew through the air like a flight of small birds," says a Turkish historian; "and there was a horrible banquet, at which the genii of death joyously drained their glasses."[298]

Luther did not keep in the background. He had already written against the Turks, and now he published a Battle Sermon. "Mahomet," said he, "exalts Christ as being without sin; but he denies that he was the true God; therefore he is his enemy. Alas! to this hour the world is such that it seems everywhere to rain disciples of Mahomet. Two men ought to oppose the Turks: the first is Christian, that is to say, Prayer; the second is Charles, that is to say, The sword." And in another place, "I know my dear Germans well, fat and well-fed swine; as soon as the danger is removed, they think only of eating and sleeping. Wretched man! if thou dost not take up arms the Turk will come; he will carry thee away into his Turkey; he will there sell thee like a dog; and thou shalt serve him night and day, under the rod and the cudgel, for a glass of water and a morsel of bread. Think on this; be converted, and implore the Lord not to give thee the Turk for thy schoolmaster."[299]


The two arms pointed out by Luther were, in reality, vigorously employed; and Soliman, perceiving at last that he was not the "soul of the universe," as his poets had styled him,[110] but that there was a strength in the world superior to his own, raised the siege of Vienna on the 16th October; and "the shadow of God over the two worlds," as he called himself, "disappeared and vanished in the Bosphorus."

But Luther imagined that, when retiring from before the walls of Vienna, "the Turk, or at least his god, who is the devil," had rushed upon him; and that it was this enemy of Christ and of Christ's servants that he was destined to combat and vanquish in his frightful agony.[300] There is an immediate reaction of the violated law upon him who violates it. Now Luther had transgressed the royal law, which is charity, and he suffered the penalty. At last he re-entered Wittemberg, and flung himself into the arms of his friends, "tormented by the angel of death."[301]

Without, however, overlooking the essential qualities of a Reformer that Luther manifested at Marburg, there are in God's work, as in a drama, different parts. What various characters we see among the Apostles and among the Reformers! It has been said that the same characters and the same parts were assigned to St. Peter and to Luther, at the time of the Formation and of the Reformation of the Church.[302] They were both in fact men of the initiative, who start forward quite alone, but around whom an army soon collects at the sight of the standard which they wave.

But there was perhaps in the Reformer a characteristic that was not found to the same degree in the Apostle; this is firmness.


As for Zwingle, he quitted Marburg in alarm at Luther's intolerance. "Lutheranism," wrote he to the Landgrave, "will lie as heavy upon us as Popery."[303] He reached Zurich on the 19th October. "The truth," said he to his friends, "has[111] prevailed so manifestly, that if ever any one has been defeated before all the world, it is Luther, although he constantly exclaimed that he was invincible."[304] On his side, Luther spoke in a similar strain. "It is through fear of their fellow-citizens," added he, "that the Swiss, although vanquished, are unwilling to retract."[305]

If it should be asked on which side the victory really was, perhaps we ought to say that Luther assumed the air of a conqueror, but Zwingle was so in reality. The conference propagated through all Germany the doctrine of the Swiss, which had been little known there till that time, and it was adopted by an immense number of persons. Among these were Laffards, first rector of St. Martin's School at Brunswick, Dionysius Melander, Justus Lening, Hartmann, Ibach, and many more. The Landgrave himself, a short time before his death, declared that this conference had induced him to renounce the oral manducation of Christ.[306]

Still the dominant principle at this celebrated epoch was unity. The adversaries are the best judges. The Roman-catholics were exasperated that the Lutherans and Zwinglians had agreed on all the essential points of faith. "They have a fellow-feeling against the Catholic Church," said they, "as Herod and Pilate against Jesus Christ." The enthusiastic sects said the same,[307] and the extreme hierarchial as well as the extreme radical party deprecated equally the unity of Marburg.


Erelong a greater agitation eclipsed all these rumours, and events which threatened the whole evangelical body, proclaimed its great and intimate union with new force. The Emperor, it was everywhere said, exasperated by the Protest of Spire, has landed at Genoa with the pomp of a[112] conqueror. After having sworn at Barcelona to reduce the heretics under the power of the Pope, he is going to visit this pontiff, humbly to bend the knee before him; and he will rise up only to cross the Alps and accomplish his terrible designs. "The Emperor Charles," said Luther, a few days after the landing of this prince, "has determined to show himself more cruel against us than the Turk himself, and he has already uttered the most horrible threats. Behold the hour of Christ's agony and weakness. Let us pray for all those who will soon have to endure captivity and death."[308]

Such was the news that then agitated all Germany. The grand question was, whether the Protest of Spire could be maintained against the power of the Emperor and of the Pope. This was seen in the year 1530.




I. The Reformation was accomplished in the name of a spiritual principle. It had proclaimed for its teacher the Word of God; for salvation, Faith; for king, Jesus Christ; for arms, the Holy Ghost; and had by these very means rejected all worldly elements. Rome had been established by the law of a carnal commandment; the Reformation, by the power of an endless life.[309]

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

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


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

Henceforward its decline was at hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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


They were deceived. Instead of those barbarous chiefs of the Goths and Huns, or of those proud and fierce emperors, who more than once had crossed the Alps and rushed upon Italy, sword in hand and with cries of vengeance, the Italians saw among them a young and graceful prince, with pale features, a delicate frame, and weak voice, of winning manners, having more the air of a courtier than a warrior, scrupulously[115] performing all the duties of the Romish religion, and leading in his train no terrible cohorts of German barbarians, but a brilliant retinue of Spanish grandees, who complacently paraded the pride of their race and the splendour of their nation. This prince, the victor of Europe, spoke only of peace and amnesty; and even the Duke of Ferrara, who of all the Italian princes had most cause of fear, having at Modena placed the keys of the city in his hands, heard from his friendly lips the most unexpected encouragements.

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

Almost at the same time with Charles there arrived in Italy, by way of Lyons and Genoa, three German burgesses, whose whole equipage consisted of six horses.[310] These were John Ehinger, burgomaster of Memmingen, who carried his head high, scattered money around him, and did not pride himself on great sobriety; Michael Caden, syndic of Nuremberg, a worthy, pious, and brave man, but detested by the Count of Nassau, the most influential of Charles's ministers; and, lastly, Alexis Frauentraut, secretary to the Margrave of Brandenburg, who, having married a nun, was in very bad esteem among the Roman-catholics. Such were the three men whom the Protestant princes, assembled at Nuremberg, commissioned to bear to the Emperor the famous Protest of Spire. They had purposely chosen these deputies from a middle station, under the impression that they would incur less danger.[311] To carry such a message to Charles V. was, to say the truth, a mission which few persons cared to execute. Accordingly a pension had been secured to the widows of these envoys in case of misfortune.


Charles was on his way from Genoa to Bologna, and staying at Piacenza, when the three Protestant deputies overtook[116] him. These plain Germans presented a singular contrast in the midst of that Spanish pomp and Romish fervour by which the young prince was surrounded. Cardinal Gattinara, the Emperor's chancellor, who sincerely desired a reform of the Church, procured them an audience of Charles V. for the 22d of September; but they were recommended to be sparing in their words, for there was nothing the Emperor so much disliked as a Protestant sermon.

The deputies were not checked by these insinuations and after having handed the protest to Charles, Frauentraut began to speak: "It is to the Supreme Judge that each one of us must render an account," said he, "and not to creatures who turn at every wind. It is better to fall into the most cruel necessity, than to incur the anger of God. Our nation will obey no decrees that are based on any other foundation than the Holy Scriptures."[312]

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

There was no hurry to send back these petty ambassadors. In vain did they renew their solicitations daily. Gattinara treated them with kindness, but Nassau sent them away with bitter words. A workman, the armourer to the court, having to visit Augsburg to purchase arms, begged the Count of Nassau to despatch the Protestant deputies. "You may tell them," replied the minister of Charles V., "that we will terminate their business in order that you may have travelling companions." But the armourer having found other company, they were compelled to wait.[313]


These envoys endeavoured at least to make a good use of their time. "Take this book," said the Landgrave to Caden at the very moment of departure, giving him a French work[117] bound in velvet, and richly ornamented, "and deliver it to the Emperor."[314] It was a summary of the Christian Faith which the Landgrave had received from Francis Lambert, and which had probably been written by that doctor. Caden sought an opportunity of presenting this treatise; and did so one day, therefore, as Charles was going publickly to Mass. The Emperor took the book, and passed it immediately to a Spanish bishop. The Spaniard began to read it,[315] and lighted upon that passage of Scripture in which Christ enjoins his apostles not to exercise lordship.[316] The author took advantage of it to maintain that the minister, charged with spiritual matters, should not interfere with those which are temporal. The Papist prelate bit his lips, and Charles, who perceived it, having asked, "Well, what is the matter?" the bishop in confusion had recourse to a falsehood.[317] "This treatise," replied he, "takes the sword from the christian magistrate, and grants it only to nations that are strangers to the faith." Immediately there was a great uproar: the Spaniards above all were beside themselves.

"The wretches that have endeavoured to mislead so young a prince," said they, "deserve to be hung on the first tree by the wayside!" Charles swore, in fact, that the bearer should suffer the penalty of his audacity.

At length, on the 12th October, Alexander Schweiss, imperial secretary, transmitted the Emperor's reply to the deputies. It said that the minority ought to submit to the decrees passed in diet, and that if the Duke of Saxony and his allies refused, means would not be wanting to compel them.[318]


Ehinger and Caden thereupon read aloud the appeal to the Emperor drawn up at Spire, whilst Frauentraut, who had renounced his quality of deputy and assumed that of a[118] notary,[319] took notes of what was passing. When the reading was finished, the deputies advanced towards Schweiss and presented the appeal. The imperial secretary rejected the document with amazement; the deputies insisted; Schweiss continued firm. They then laid the appeal on the table. Schweiss was staggered; he took the paper, and carried it to the Emperor.

After dinner, just as one of the deputies (Caden) had gone out, a tumult in the hotel announced some catastrophe. It was the imperial secretary who returned duly accompanied. "The Emperor is exceedingly irritated against you on account of this appeal," said he to the Protestants; "and he forbids you, under pain of confiscation and death, to leave your hotel, to write to Germany, or to send any message whatsoever."[320] Thus Charles put ambassadors under arrest, as he would the officers of his guard, desirous in this manner of publishing his contempt, and of frightening the princes.

Caden's servant slipped in alarm out of the hotel, and ran to his master. The latter, still considering himself free, wrote a hasty account of the whole business to the senate of Nuremberg, sent off his letters by express, and returned to share in the arrest of his colleagues.[321]


On the 23d of October, the Emperor left Piacenza, carrying the three Germans with him. But on the 30th he released Ehinger and Frauentraut, who, mounting their horses in the middle of the night, rushed at full speed along a route thronged with soldiers and robbers. "As for you," said Granvelle to Caden, "you will stay under pain of death. The Emperor expects that the book you presented to him will be given up to the Pope."[322] Perhaps Charles thought it pleasant to show the Roman Pontiff this prohibition issued against the ministers of God to mingle in the government of nations. But Caden, profiting by the confusion of the[119] court, secretly procured a horse, and fled to Ferrara, thence to Venice, from which place he returned to Nuremberg.[323]

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

On the 5th of November he entered Bologna. Everything was striking about him: the crowd of nobles, the splendour of the equipages, the haughtiness of the Spanish troops, the four thousand ducats that were scattered by handfuls among the people;[324] but above all, the majesty and magnificence of the young Emperor. The two chiefs of Romish Christendom were about to meet. The Pope quitted his palace with all his court; and Charles, at the head of an army which would have conquered the whole of Italy in a few days, affecting the humility of a child, fell on his knees, and kissed the Pontiff's feet.

The Emperor and the Pope resided at Bologna in two adjoining palaces, separated by a single wall, through which a doorway had been made, of which each had a key; and the young and politic Emperor was often seen to visit the old and crafty Pontiff, carrying papers in his hand.

Clement obtained Sforza's pardon, who appeared before the Emperor sick and leaning on a staff. Venice also was forgiven: a million of crowns arranged these two matters. But Charles could not obtain from the Pope the pardon of Florence. This illustrious city was sacrificed to the Medici, "considering," it was said, "that it is impossible for Christ's vicar to demand anything that is unjust."


The most important affair was the Reformation. Some represented to the Emperor that, victor over all his enemies, he[120] should carry matters with a high hand, and constrain the Protestants by force of arms.[325] Charles was more moderate; he preferred weakening the Protestants by the Papists, and then the Papists by the Protestants, and by this means raising his power above them both.

A wiser course was nevertheless proposed in a solemn conference. "The Church is torn in pieces," said Chancellor Gattinara. "You (Charles) are the head of the empire: you (the Pope) are the head of the Church. It is your duty to provide by common accord against unprecedented wants. Assemble the pious men of all nations, and let a free council deduce from the Word of God a scheme of doctrine such as may be received by every people."[326]

A thunderbolt would not have so greatly startled Clement VII. The offspring of an illegitimate union, and having obtained the Papacy by means far from honourable, and squandered the treasures of the Church in an unjust war, this Pontiff had a thousand personal motives for dreading an assembly of Christendom. "Large congregations," replied he, "serve only to introduce popular opinions. It is not with the decrees of councils, but with the edge of the sword, that we should decide controversies."[327]


As Gattinara still persisted: "What!" said the Pope, angrily interrupting him, "you dare to contradict me, and to excite your master against me!" Charles rose up; all the assembly preserved the profoundest silence, and the prince having resumed his seat, seconded his chancellor's request. Clement was satisfied with saying that he would reflect upon it. He then began to work upon the young Emperor in[121] their private conferences, and Charles promised at last to constrain the heretics by violence, while the Pope should summon all other princes to his aid.[328] "To overcome Germany by force, and then erase it from the surface of the earth, is the sole object of the Italians," they wrote from Venice to the Elector.[329]

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

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

"We cannot on our conscience," replied Luther on the 18th November, "approve of the proposed alliance. We would rather die ten times than see our Gospel cause one drop of blood to be shed.[330] Our part is to be like lambs of the slaughter. The cross of Christ must be borne. Let your highness be without fear. We shall do more by our prayers than all our enemies by their boastings. Only let not your hands be stained with the blood of your brethren! If the Emperor requires us to be given up to his tribunals, we are ready to appear. You cannot defend our faith: each one should believe at his own risk and peril."[331]



On the 29th November an evangelical congress was opened at Smalkald, and an unexpected event rendered this meeting still more important. Ehinger, Caden, and Frauentraut, who had escaped from the grasp of Charles V., appeared before them.[332] The Landgrave had no further doubts of the success of his plan.

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


The horizon became hourly more threatening. The Papists of Germany wrote one to another these few but significant words: "The Saviour is coming."[333] "Alas!" exclaimed Luther, "what a pitiless saviour! He will devour them all, as well as us." In effect, two Italian bishops, authorized by Charles V., demanded in the Pope's name all the gold and silver from the churches, and a third part of the ecclesiastical revenues: a proceeding which caused an immense sensation. "Let the Pope go to the devil," replied a canon of Paderborn, a little too freely.[334] "Yes, yes!" archly replied Luther, "this is your saviour that is coming!" The people already began to talk of frightful omens. It was not only the living who were agitated: a child still in its mother's womb had uttered horrible shrieks.[335] "All is accomplished," said Luther; "the Turk has reached the highest degree of his power, the glory of the Papacy is declining, and the world is splitting on every side."[336] The Reformer, dreading lest the end of the world should arrive before he had translated all the Bible, published the prophesies of Daniel separately,—"a work," said he, "for these latter times."[123] "Historians relate," added he, "that Alexander the Great always placed Homer under his pillow: the prophet Daniel is worthy not only that kings and princes should wear him under their heads, but in their hearts; for he will teach them that the government of nations proceeds from the power of God. We are balanced in the hand of the Lord, as a ship upon the sea, or a cloud in the sky."[337]

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

On the 21st January, Charles had summoned all the states of the empire to Augsburg, and had endeavoured to employ the most conciliatory language. "Let us put an end to all discord," he said, "let us renounce our antipathies, let us offer to our Saviour the sacrifice of all our errors, let us make it our business to comprehend and weigh with meekness the opinions of others. Let us annihilate all that has been said or done on both sides contrary to right, and let us seek after christian truth. Let us all fight under one and the same leader, Jesus Christ, and let us strive thus to meet in one communion, one church, and one unity."[338]


What language! How was it that this prince, who had hitherto spoken only of the sword, should now speak only of peace? It will be said that the wise Gattinara had had a share in it; that the act of convocation was drawn up under the impression of the terror caused by the Turkish invasion; that the Emperor already saw with how little eagerness the Roman Catholics of Germany seconded his views; that he wished to intimidate the Pope; that this language, so full of graciousness, was but a mask which Charles employed to deceive his enemies; that he wished to manage religion in true[124] imperial fashion, like Theodosius and Constantine, and seek first to unite both parties by the influence of his wisdom and of his favours, reserving to himself, if kindness should fail, to employ force afterwards. It is possible that each of these motives may have exercised a certain influence on Charles, but the latter appears to us nearer the truth, and more conformable to the character of this prince.

If Charles, however, gave way to inclinations of mildness, the fanatical Ferdinand was at hand to bring him back. "I will continue negotiating without coming to any conclusion," wrote he to his brother; "and should I even be reduced to that, do not fear; pretexts will not be wanting to chastise these rebels, and you will find men enough, who will be happy to aid you in your revenge."[339]

II. Charles, like Charlemagne in former times and Napoleon in latter days, desired to be crowned by the Pope, and had at first thought of visiting Rome for that purpose; but Ferdinand's pressing letters compelled him to choose Bologna.[340] He appointed the 22d February for receiving the iron crown as King of Lombardy, and resolved to assume the golden crown as Emperor of the Romans on the 24th of the same month—his birthday and the anniversary of the battle of Pavia, and which he thought was always fortunate to him.[341]


The offices of honour that belonged to the Electors of the Empire were given to strangers: in the coronation of the Emperor of Germany all was Spanish or Italian. The sceptre was carried by the Marquis of Montferrat, the sword by the Duke of Urbino, and the golden crown by the Duke of Savoy. One single German prince of little importance, the Count-palatine Philip, was present: he carried the orb. After these lords came the Emperor himself between two cardinals;[125] then the members of his council. All this procession defiled across a magnificent temporary bridge erected between the palace and the church. At the very moment the Emperor drew near the church of San Petronio, where the coronation was to take place, the scaffolding cracked behind him and gave way, so that many of his train were wounded, and the multitude fled in alarm. Charles calmly turned back and smiled, not doubting that his lucky star had saved him.

At length Charles V. arrived in front of the throne on which Clement VII. was seated. But before being made Emperor, it was necessary that he should be promoted to the sacred orders. The Pope presented to him the surplice and the amice to make him a canon of St. Peter's and of St. John Lateranus, and immediately the canons of these two churches stripped him of his royal ornaments, and robed him with these sacred garments. The Pope went to the altar and began Mass; and the new canon drew near to wait upon him. After the offertory, the imperial deacon presented the water to the pontiff. He then knelt down between two cardinals, and communicated from the Pope's hand. The Emperor now returned near his throne, where the princes robed him with the imperial mantle brought from Constantinople, all sparkling with diamonds, and Charles humbly bent the knee before Clement VII.

The pontiff, having anointed him with oil and given him the sceptre, presented him with a naked sword, saying: "Make use of it in defence of the Church against the enemies of the faith!" Next taking the golden orb, studded with jewels, which the Count-palatine held, he said: "Govern the world with piety and firmness!" Last came the Duke of Savoy, who carried the golden crown enriched with diamonds. The Prince bent down, and Clement put the diadem on his head, saying: "Charles, Emperor invincible, receive this crown which we place on your head, as a sign to all the earth of the authority that is conferred upon you."

The Emperor then kissed the white cross embroidered on the Pope's red slipper and exclaimed: "I swear ever to[126] employ all my strength to defend the Pontifical dignity, and the Church of Rome."[342]

The two princes now took their seats under the same canopy, but on thrones of unequal height, the Emperor's being half a foot lower than the pontiff's, and the cardinal deacon proclaimed to the people "The invincible Emperor, Defender of the Faith." For the next half-hour nothing was heard but the noise of musketry, trumpets, drums, and fifes, all the bells of the city, and the shouts of the multitude. Thus was proclaimed anew the close union of politics with religion. The mighty Emperor, transformed to a Roman deacon, and humbly serving mass, like a canon of St. Peter's, had typified and declared the indissoluble union of the Romish Church with the State. This is one of the essential doctrines of Popery, and one of the most striking characteristics that distinguish it from the Evangelical and Christian Church.

Nevertheless, during all this ceremony the Pope seemed ill at ease, and sighed as soon as men's eyes ceased to be turned on him. Accordingly, the French ambassador wrote to his court that these four months which the Emperor and Pope had spent together at Bologna, would bear fruit of which the King of France would assuredly have no cause to complain.[343]


Scarcely had Charles V. risen from before the altar of San Petronio, than he turned his face towards Germany, and appeared on the Alps as the anointed of the Papacy. The letter of convocation, so indulgent and benign, seemed forgotten: all things were made new since the Pope's blessings: there was but one thought in the imperial caravan, the necessity of rigorous measures; and the legate Campeggio ceased not to insinuate irritating words into Charles's ear. "At the first rumour of the storm that threatens them," said Granvelle,[127] "we shall see the Protestants flying on every side, like timid doves upon which the Alpine eagle pounces."[344]

Great indeed was the alarm throughout the Empire; already even the affrighted people, apprehensive of the greatest disasters, repeated everywhere that Luther and Melancthon were dead. "Alas!" said Melancthon, consumed by sorrow, when he heard these reports, "the rumour is but too true, for I die daily."[345] But Luther, on the contrary, boldly raising the eye of faith towards heaven, exclaimed: "Our enemies triumph, but erelong to perish." In truth the councils of the Elector displayed an unheard-of boldness. "Let us collect our troops," said they; "let us march on the Tyrol, and close the passage of the Alps against the Emperor."[346] Philip of Hesse uttered a cry of joy when he heard of this. The sword of Charles has aroused his indolent allies at last. Immediately fresh courtiers from Ferdinand were sent to hasten the arrival of Charles, and all Germany was in expectation.

Before carrying out this gigantic design, the Elector desired to consult Luther once more. The Emperor in the midst of the Electors was only the first among his equals; and independent princes were allowed to resist another prince, even if he were of higher rank than themselves. But Luther, dreading above all things the intervention of the secular arm in church affairs, was led to reply on the 6th March in this extraordinary manner: "Our princes' subjects are also the Emperor's subjects, and even more so than princes are. To protect by arms the Emperor's subjects against the Emperor, would be as if the Burgomaster of Torgau wished to protect by force his citizens against the Elector."


"What must be done then?—Attend," replied Luther. "If the Emperor desires to march against us, let no prince undertake[128] our defence. God is faithful: he will not abandon us." All preparations for war were immediately suspended, the Landgrave received a polite refusal, and the confederation was dissolved. It was the will of God that his cause should appear before the Emperor without league and without soldiers, having faith alone for its shield.

Never perhaps has such boldness been witnessed in feeble and unarmed men; but never, although under an appearance of blindness, was there so much wisdom and understanding.

The question next discussed in the Elector's council was, whether he should go to the diet. The majority of the councillors opposed it. "Is it not risking everything," said they, "to go and shut oneself up within the walls of a city with a powerful enemy?" Bruck and the Prince-electoral were of a different opinion. Duty in their eyes was a better councillor than fear. "What!" said they, "would the Emperor insist so much on the presence of the princes at Augsburg only to draw them into a snare? We cannot impute such perfidy to him." The Landgrave on the contrary seconded the opinion of the majority. "Remember Piacenza," said he. "Some unforeseen circumstance may lead the Emperor to take all his enemies in one cast of the net."

The Chancellor stood firm. "Let the princes only comport themselves with courage," said he, "and God's cause is saved." The decision was in favour of the nobler plan.


This diet was to be a lay council, or at the very least a national convention.[347] The Protestants foresaw that a few unimportant concessions would be made to them at first, and then that they would be required to sacrifice their faith. It was therefore necessary to settle what were the essential articles of christian truth, in order to know whether, by what means, and how far they might come to an understanding with their adversaries. The Elector accordingly had letters sent on the 14th March to the four principal theologians of Wittemberg, setting them this task, all other business being[129] laid aside.[348] Thus, instead of collecting soldiers, this prince drew up articles: they were the best armament.

Luther, Jonas, and Melancthon (Pomeranus remaining at Wittemberg), arrived at Torgau in Easter week, asking leave to deliver their articles in person to Charles the Fifth.[349] "God forbid!" replied the Elector, "I also desire to confess my Lord."

John having then confided to Melancthon the definitive drawing up of the confession, and ordered general prayers to be offered up, began his journey on the 3d April, with one hundred and sixty horsemen, clad in rich scarlet cloaks embroidered with gold.

Every man was aware of the dangers that threatened the Elector, and hence many in his escort marched with downcast eyes and sinking hearts. But Luther, full of faith, revived the courage of his friends, by composing and singing with his fine voice that beautiful hymn, since become so famous: Eine vaste Burg ist unser Gott. Our God is a strong tower.[350] Never did soul that knew its own weakness, but which, looking to God, despises every fear, find such noble accents.

With our own strength we nought can do,
Destruction yawns on every side:
He fights for us, our champion true,
Elect of God to be our guide.
What is his name? The Anointed One,
The God of armies he;
Of earth and heaven the Lord alone—
With him, on field of battle won,
Abideth victory.

[130]This hymn was sung during the diet, not only at Augsburg, but in all the churches of Saxony, and its energetic strains were often seen to revive and inspirit the most dejected minds.[351]

On Easter-eve the troop reached Coburg, and on the 23d April the Elector resumed his journey; but at the very moment of departure Luther received an order to remain. "Some one has said, Hold your tongue, you have a harsh voice," wrote he to one of his friends.[352] He submitted however without hesitation, setting an example of that passive obedience which he advocated so boldly. The Elector feared that Luther's presence would still further exasperate his adversaries, and drive Charles to extreme measures: the city of Augsburg had also written to him to that effect. But at the same time John was anxious to keep the Reformer within reach, that he might be able to consult him. He was therefore left at Coburg, in the castle overlooking the town and the river Itz, in the upper story on the south side. It was from this place he wrote those numerous letters dated from the region of birds; and it was there that for many months he had to maintain with his old enemy of the Wartburg, Satan, a struggle full of darkness and of anguish.


On the 2d May the Elector reached Augsburg; it had been expected that he would stay away, and, to the great astonishment of all, he was the first at the rendezvous.[353] He immediately sent Dolzig, marshal of the court, to meet the Emperor and to compliment him. On the 12th May, Philip of Hesse, who had at last resolved on not separating himself from his ally, arrived with an escort of one hundred and ninety horsemen; and almost at the same time the Emperor entered Innspruck, in the Tyrol, accompanied by his brother, the queens of Hungary and Bohemia, the ambassadors of France, England, and Portugal, Campeggio the papal legate,[131] and other cardinals, with many princes and nobles of Germany, Spain, and Italy.

How bring back the heretics to obedience to the Church? Such was the great topic of conversation in this brilliant court among nobles and priests, ladies and soldiers, councillors and ambassadors. They, or Charles at least, were not for making them ascend the scaffold, but they wished to act in such a manner that, untrue to their faith, they should bend the knee to the Pope. Charles stopped at Innspruck to study the situation of Germany, and ensure the success of his schemes.

Scarcely was his arrival known when a crowd of people, high and low, flocked round him on every side, and more than 270,000 crowns, previously raised in Italy, served to make the Germans understand the justice of Rome's cause. "All these heretics," was the cry, "will fall to the ground and crawl to the feet of the Pope."[354]

Charles did not think so. He was, on the contrary, astonished to see what power the Reformation had gained. He momentarily even entertained the idea of leaving Augsburg alone, and of going straight to Cologne, and there proclaiming his brother King of the Romans.[355] Thus, religious interests would have given way to dynastic interests, at least so ran the report. But Charles the Fifth did not stop at this idea. The question of the Reformation was there before him, increasing hourly in strength, and it could not be eluded.


Two parties divided the imperial court. The one, numerous and active, called upon the Emperor to revive simply the edict of Worms, and, without hearing the Protestants, condemn their cause.[356] The legate was at the head of this party. "Do not hesitate," said he to Charles; "confiscate their property, establish the inquisition, and punish these obstinate[132] heretics with fire and sword."[357] The Spaniards, who strongly seconded these exhortations, gave way to their accustomed debauchery, so that many of them were arrested for seduction.[358] This was a sad specimen of the faith that they wished to impose on Germany. Rome has always thought lightly of morality.

Gattinara, although sick, had painfully followed in Charles's train to neutralize the influence of the legate. A determined adversary of the Roman policy, he thought that the Protestants might render important services to Christendom. "There is nothing I desire so much," said he, "as to see the Elector of Saxony and his allies persevere courageously in the profession of the Gospel, and call for a free religious council. If they allow themselves to be checked by promises or threats, I hesitate myself, I stagger, and I doubt of the means of salvation."[359] The enlightened and honest members of the Papal Church (and of whom there is always a small number) necessarily sympathize with the Reformation.

Charles V., exposed to these contrary influences, desired to restore Germany to religious unity by his personal intervention: for a moment he thought himself on the eve of success.


Amongst the persons who crowded to Innspruck was the unfortunate Christian, king of Denmark, Charles's brother-in-law. In vain had he proposed to his subjects undertaking a pilgrimage to Rome in expiation of the cruelties of which he was accused: his people had expelled him. Having repaired to Saxony, to his uncle the Elector, he had there heard Luther, and had embraced the evangelical doctrines, as far at least as external profession goes. This poor dethroned king could not resist the eloquence of the powerful ruler of two worlds, and Christian, won over by Charles the Fifth,[133] publicly placed himself again under the sceptre of the Roman hierarchy. All the papal party uttered a shout of triumph. Nothing equals their credulity, and the importance they attach to such valueless accessions. "I cannot describe the emotion with which this news has filled me," wrote Clement VII. to Charles, his hand trembling with joy; "the brightness of your Majesty's virtues begins at last to scatter the darkness: this example will lead to numberless conversions."

Things were in this state, when Duke George of Saxony, Duke William of Bavaria, and the Elector Joachim of Brandenburg, the three German princes who were the greatest enemies of the Reformation, hastily arrived at Innspruck.

The tranquillity of the Elector, whom they had seen at Augsburg, had alarmed them, for they knew not the source whence John derived his courage; they imagined that he was revolving in his mind some perfidious design. "It is not without reason," said they to Charles, "that the Elector John has repaired the first to Augsburg, and that he appeared there with a considerable train: he wishes to seize your person. Act then with energy, and allow us to offer your Majesty a guard of six thousand horse."[360] Conference upon conference immediately took place. The Protestants were affrighted. "They are holding a diet at Innspruck," said Melancthon, "on the best means of having our heads."[361] But Gattinara prevailed on Charles to preserve his neutrality.

While all was thus agitated in the Tyrol, the Evangelical Christians, instead of mustering in arms, as they were accused, sent up their prayers to heaven, and the Protestant princes were preparing to render an account of their faith.


The Elector of Saxony held the first rank among them. Sincere, upright, and pure from his youth, early disgusted with the brilliant tourneys in which he had at first taken part, John of Saxony had joyfully hailed the day of the Reformation, and the Gospel light had gradually penetrated his serious and[134] reflective mind. His great pleasure was to have the Holy Scriptures read to him during the latter hours of the day. It is true that, having arrived at an advanced age, the pious Elector sometimes fell asleep, but he soon awoke with a start, and repeated the last passage aloud. Although moderate and a friend of peace, he yet possessed an energy that was powerfully aroused by the great interests of the faith. There is no prince in the sixteenth century, and none perhaps since the primitive times of the Church, who has done so much as John of Saxony for the cause of the Gospel. Accordingly it was against him that the first efforts of the Papists were directed.

In order to gain him over, they wished to put in operation very different tactics from those which had been previously employed. At Spire the Evangelicals had met with angry looks in every quarter; at Augsburg, on the contrary, the Papists gave them a hearty welcome; they represented as very trifling the distance that separated the two parties, and in their private conversations uttered the mildest language, "seeking thus to make the credulous Protestants take the bait," says an historian.[362] The latter yielded with simplicity to these skilful manœuvres.

Charles the Fifth was convinced that the simple Germans would not be able to resist his star. "The King of Denmark has been converted," said his courtiers to him, "why should not the Elector follow his example? Let us draw him into the imperial atmosphere." John was immediately invited to come and converse familiarly with the Emperor at Innspruck, with an assurance that he might reckon on Charles's particular favour.


The Prince-electoral, John Frederick, who on seeing the advances of the Papists had at first exclaimed: "We conduct our affairs with such awkwardness, that it is quite pitiable!" allowed himself to be caught by this stratagem. "The Papist princes," said he to his father, "exert every means of blackening our characters. Go to Innspruck in order to put[135] a stop to these underhand practices; or if you are unwilling, send me in your place."

This time the prudent Elector moderated his son's precipitancy, and replied to Charles's ministers, that it was not proper to treat of the affairs of the diet in any other place than that which the Emperor had himself appointed, and he begged, in consequence, that his majesty would hasten his arrival. This was the first check that Charles met with.

III. Meantime Augsburg was filling more and more every day. Princes, bishops, deputies, gentlemen, cavaliers, soldiers in rich uniforms, entered by every gate, and thronged the streets, the public places, inns, churches, and palaces. All that was most magnificent in Germany was there about to be collected. The critical circumstances in which the empire and Christendom were placed, the presence of Charles V. and his kindly manners, the love of novelty, of grand shows, and of lively emotions, tore the Germans from their homes. All those who had great interests to discuss, without reckoning a crowd of idlers, flocked from the various provinces of the empire, and hastily made their way towards this illustrious city.[363]


In the midst of this crowd the Elector and the Landgrave were resolved to confess Jesus Christ, and to take advantage of this convocation in order to convert the empire. Scarcely had John arrived when he ordered one of his theologians to preach daily with open doors in the church of the Dominicans.[364] On Sunday the 8th May, the same was done in the church of St. Catherine; on the 13th, Philip of Hesse opened the gates of the cathedral, and his chaplain Snepff there preached the Word of Salvation; and on the following Sunday (May 15) this prince ordered Cellarius, minister of Augsburg and a follower of Zwingle, to preach in the same temple. Somewhat later the Landgrave firmly settled himself[136] in the church of St. Ulric, and the Elector in that of St. Catherine. These were the two positions taken up by these illustrious princes. Every day the Gospel was preached in these places before an immense and attentive crowd.[365]

The partisans of Rome were amazed. They expected to see criminals endeavouring to dissemble their faults, and they met with confessors of Christ with uplifted heads and words of power. Desirous of counterbalancing these preachings, the Bishop of Augsburg ordered his suffragan and his chaplain to ascend the pulpit. But the Romish priests understood better how to say Mass than to preach the Gospel. "They shout, they bawl," said some. "They are stupid fellows," added all their hearers, shrugging their shoulders.[366]

The Romanists, ashamed of their own priests, began to grow angry,[367] and unable to hold their ground by preaching, they had recourse to the secular arm. "The priests are setting wondrous machines at work to gain Cæsar's mind," said Melancthon.[368] They succeeded, and Charles made known his displeasure at the hardihood of the princes. The friends of the Pope then drew near the Protestants and whispered into their ears "that the Emperor, victor over the King of France and the Roman Pontiff, would appear in Germany to crush all the Gospellers."[369] The anxious Elector demanded the advice of his theologians.

Before the answer was ready, Charles's orders arrived, carried by two of his most influential ministers, the Counts of Nassau and of Nuenar. A more skilful choice could not have been made. These two nobles, although devoted to Charles, were favourable to the Gospel, which they professed not long after. The Elector was therefore fully disposed to listen to their counsel.


[137]On the 24th May, the two Counts delivered their letters to John of Saxony, and declared to him that the Emperor was exceedingly grieved that religious controversies should disturb the good understanding that had for so many years united the houses of Saxony and Austria;[370] that he was astonished at seeing the Elector oppose an edict (that of Worms) which had been unanimously passed by all the states of the Empire; that the alliances he had made tended to tear asunder the unity of Germany, and might inundate it with blood. They required at last that the Elector would immediately put a stop to the evangelical preachings, and added, in a confidential tone, that they trembled at the thought of the immediate and deplorable consequences that would certainly follow the Elector's refusal. "This," said they, "is only the expression of our own personal sentiments." It was a diplomatic manœuvre, the Emperor having enjoined them to give utterance to a few threats, but that solely on their own account.[371]

The Elector was greatly agitated. "If his majesty forbids the preaching of the Gospel," exclaimed he, "I shall immediately return home."[372] He waited however for the advice of his theologians.

Luther's answer was ready first. "The Emperor is our master," said he; "the town and all that is in it belong to him. If your Highness should give orders at Torgau for this to be done, and for that to be left undone, the people ought not to resist. I should prefer endeavouring to change his majesty's decision by humble and respectful solicitations; but if he persists, might makes right; we have but done our duty."[373] Thus spoke the man who has often been represented as a rebel.


[138]Melancthon and the others were nearly of the same opinion; only they insisted more on the necessity of representing to the Emperor "that they did not speak of controversy in their sermons, but were content simply to teach the doctrine of Christ the Saviour.[374] Let us beware, above all," continued they, "of abandoning the place. Let your highness with an intrepid heart confess in presence of his majesty by what wonderful ways you have attained to a right understanding of the truth,[375] and do not allow yourself to be alarmed at these thunder-claps that fall from the lips of our enemies." To confess the truth, such was the object to which, according to the Reformers, everything else should be subordinate.

Will the Elector yield to this first demand of Charles, and thus begin, even before the Emperor's arrival, that list of sacrifices, the end of which cannot be foreseen?

No one in Augsburg was firmer than John. In vain did the Reformers represent that they were in the Emperor's city, and only strangers:[376] the Elector shook his head. Melancthon in despair wrote to Luther: "Alas! how untractable is our old man!"[377] Nevertheless he again returned to the charge. Fortunately there was an intrepid man at the Elector's right hand, the chancellor Bruck, who feeling convinced that policy, honour, and above all, duty, bound the friends of the Reformation to resist the menaces of Charles, said to the Elector: "The Emperor's demand is but a worthy beginning to bring about the definitive abolition of the Gospel.[378] If we yield at present, they will crush us by and by. Let us therefore humbly beg his majesty to permit the continuance of the sermons." Thus, at that time, a statesman stood in the foremost rank of the confessors of Jesus Christ. This is one of the characteristic features of this great age, and it must not be forgotten, if we would understand its history aright.


[139]On the 31st May, the Elector sent his answer in writing to Charles's ministers. "It is not true," it bore, "that the Edict of Worms was approved of by the six Electors. How could the Elector, my brother, and myself, by approving it, have opposed the everlasting word of Almighty God? Accordingly, succeeding diets have declared this edict impossible to be executed. As for the relations of friendship that I have formed, their only aim is to protect me against acts of violence. Let my accusers lay before the eyes of his majesty the alliances they have made; I am ready to produce mine, and the Emperor shall decide between us.—Finally, As to the demand to suspend our preachings, nothing is proclaimed in them but the glorious truth of God, and never was it so necessary to us. We cannot therefore do without it!"[379]

This reply must necessarily hasten the arrival of Charles; and it was urgent they should be prepared to receive him. To explain what they believe, and then be silent, was the whole plan of the Protestant campaign. A confession was therefore necessary. One man, of small stature, frail, timid, and in great alarm, was commissioned to prepare this instrument of war. Philip Melancthon worked at it night and day: he weighed every expression, softened it down, changed it, and then frequently returned to his first idea. He was wasting away his strength; his friends trembled lest he should die over his task; and Luther enjoined him, as early as the 12th of May, under pain of anathema, to take measures for the preservation of "his little body," and not "to commit suicide for the love of God."[380] "God is as usefully served by repose," added he, "and indeed man never serves him better than by keeping himself tranquil. It is for this reason God willed that the Sabbath should be so strictly observed."[381]


Notwithstanding these solicitations, Melancthon's application augmented, and he set about an exposition of the christian[140] faith, at once mild, moderate, and as little removed as possible from the doctrine of the Latin Church. At Coburg he had already put his hand to the task, and traced out in the first part the doctrines of the faith, according to the articles of Schwabach; and in the second, the abuses of the Church, according to the articles of Torgau, making altogether quite a new work. At Augsburg he gave a more correct and elegant form to this confession.[382]

The Apology, as it was then called, was completed on the 11th May; and the Elector sent it to Luther, begging him to mark what ought to be changed. "I have said what I thought most useful," added Melancthon, who feared that his friend would find the confession too weak; "for Eck ceases not to circulate against us the most diabolical calumnies, and I have endeavoured to oppose an antidote to his poisons."[383]

Luther replied to the Elector on the 15th May: "I have read Magister Philip's Apology; I like it well enough, I have no corrections to make. Besides, that would hardly suit me, for I cannot walk so meekly and so silently. May Christ our Lord grant that this work may produce much and great fruit."

Each day, however, the Elector's councillors and theologians, in concert with Melancthon, improved the confession, and endeavoured to render it such that the charmed diet should, in its own despite, hear it to the very end.[384]


While the struggle was thus preparing at Augsburg, Luther at Coburg, on the summit of the hill, "on his Sinai," as he called it, raised his hands like Moses towards heaven.[385] He was the real general of the spiritual war that was then waging; his letters ceased not to bear to the combatants the directions which they needed, and numerous pamphlets issuing[141] from his stronghold, like discharges of musketry, spread confusion in the enemy's camp.

The place where he had been left was, by its solitude, favourable to study and to meditation.[386] "I shall make a Zion of this Sinai," said he on the 22d April, "and I shall build here three tabernacles; one to the Psalms, one to the Prophets, and one——to Esop!" This last word is a startling one. The association belongs neither to the language nor the spirit of the Apostles. It is true that Esop was not to be his principal study: the fables were soon laid aside, and truth alone engaged Luther. "I shall weep, I shall pray, I shall never be silent," wrote he, "until I know that my cry has been heard in heaven."[387]

Besides, by way of relaxation, he had something better than Esop; he had those domestic joys whose precious treasures the Reformation had opened to the ministers of the Word. It was at this time he wrote that charming letter to his infant son, in which he describes a delightful garden where children dressed in gold are sporting about, picking up apples, pears, cherries, and plums; they sing, dance, and enjoy themselves, and ride pretty little horses, with golden bridles and silver saddles.[388]


But the Reformer was soon drawn away from these pleasing images. About this time he learnt that his father had gently fallen asleep in the faith which is in Jesus Christ. "Alas!" exclaimed he, shedding tears of filial love, "it is by the sweat of his brow that he made me what I am."[389] Other trials assailed him; and to bodily pains were added the phantoms of his imagination. One night in particular he saw three torches pass rapidly before his eyes, and at the same moment he heard claps of thunder in his head, which he ascribed to the devil. His servant ran in at the moment he fainted, and after[142] having restored him to animation, read to him the Epistle to the Galatians. Luther, who had fallen asleep, said as he awoke: "Come, and despite of the devil let us sing the Psalm, Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord." They both sang the hymn. While Luther was thus tormented by these internal noises, he translated the prophet Jeremiah, and yet he often deplored his idleness.

He soon devoted himself to other studies, and poured out the floods of his irony on the mundane practices of courts. He saw Venice, the Pope, and the King of France, giving their hands to Charles V. to crush the Gospel. Then, alone in his chamber in the old castle, he burst into irresistible laughter. "Mr. Par-ma-foy, (it was thus he designated Francis I.), Innomine-Domini (the Pope), and the Republic of Venice, pledge their goods and their bodies to the Emperor......Sanctissimum fœdus. A most holy alliance truly! This league between these four powers belongs to the chapter Non-credimus, Venice, the Pope, and France become imperialists!......But these are three persons in one substance, filled with unspeakable hatred against the Emperor. Mr. Par-ma-foy cannot forget his defeat at Pavia; Mr. In-nomine-Domini is, 1st, an Italian, which is already too much; 2d, a Florentine, which is worse; 3d, a bastard—that is to say, a child of the devil; 4th, he will never forget the disgrace of the sack of Rome. As for the Venetians, they are Venetians: that is quite enough; and they have good reason to avenge themselves on the posterity of Maximilian. All this belongs to the chapter Firmiter-credimus. But God will help the pious Charles, who is a sheep among wolves. Amen."[390] The former monk of Erfurth had a surer political foresight than many diplomatists of his age.


Impatient at seeing the diet put off from day to day, Luther formed his resolution, and ended by convoking it even at Coburg. "We are already in full assembly," wrote he on the 28th April and the 9th May. "You might here see kings, dukes, and other grandees, deliberating on the affairs of their[143] kingdom, and with indefatigable voice publishing their dogmas and decrees in the air. They dwell not in those caverns which you decorate with the name of palaces; the heavens are their canopy; the leafy trees form a floor of a thousand colours, and their walls are the ends of the earth. They have a horror of all the unmeaning luxury of silk and gold; they ask neither coursers nor armour, and have all the same clothing and the same colour. I have neither seen nor heard their emperor; but if I can understand them, they have determined this year to make a pitiless war upon——the most excellent fruits of the earth.—Ah! my dear friends," said he to his messmates,[391] to whom he was writing, "these are the sophists, the Papists, who are assembled before me in a heap, to make me hear their sermons and their cries."—These two letters, dated from the "empire of ravens and crows," finish in the following mournful strain, which shows us the Reformer descending into himself after this play of his imagination: "Enough of jesting!—jesting which is, however, sometimes necessary to dispel the gloomy thoughts that prey upon me."[392]


Luther soon returned to real life, and thrilled with joy at beholding the fruits that the Reformation was already bearing, and which were for him a more powerful "apology" than even the confession of Melancthon. "Is there in the whole world a single country to be compared to your highness's states," wrote he to the Elector, "and which possesses preachers of so pure a doctrine, or pastors so fitted to bring about the reign of peace? Where do we see, as in Saxony, boys and girls well instructed in the Holy Scriptures and in the Catechism, increasing in wisdom and in stature, praying, believing, talking of God and of Christ better than has been done hitherto by all the universities, convents, and chapters of Christendom?"[393] "My dear Duke John, says the Lord to[144] you, I commend this paradise to thee, the most beautiful that exists in the world, that thou mayst be its gardener." And then he added: "Alas! the madness of the Papist princes changes this paradise of God into a dirty slough, and corrupting the youth, peoples every day with real devils their states, their tables, and their palaces."

Luther, not content with encouraging his prince, desired also to frighten his adversaries. It was with this intent that he wrote at that time an address to the members of the clergy assembled at Augsburg. A crowd of thoughts, like lansquenets armed cap-a-pié, "rushed in to fatigue and bewilder him;"[394] and in fact there is no want of barbed words in the discourse he addresses to the bishops. "In short," said he to them in conclusion, "we know and you know that we have the Word of God, and that you have it not. O Pope! if I live I shall be a pestilence to thee; and if I die, I shall be thy death!"[395]

Thus was Luther present at Augsburg, although invisible; and he effected more by his words and by his prayers than Agricola, Brenz, or Melancthon. These were the days of travail for the Gospel truth. It was about to appear in the world with a might that was destined to eclipse all that had been done since the time of St. Paul; but Luther only announced and manifested the things that God was effecting: he did not execute them himself. He was, as regards the events of the Church, what Socrates was to philosophy: "I imitate my mother (she was a midwife)," this philosopher was in the habit of saying; "she does not travail herself, but she aids others." Luther—and he never ceased repeating it—has created nothing; but he has brought to light the precious seed, hidden for ages in the bosom of the Church. The man of God is not he who seeks to form his age according to his own peculiar ideas, but he who, distinctly perceiving God's truth, such as it is found in his Word, and as it is hidden[145] in his Church, brings it to his contemporaries with courage and decision.


Never had these qualities been more necessary, for matters were taking an alarming aspect. On the 4th June died Chancellor Gattinara, who was to Charles the Fifth "what Ulpian was to Alexander Severus," says Melancthon, and with him all the human hopes of the Protestants vanished. "It is God," Luther had said, "who has raised up for us a Naaman in the court of the King of Syria." In truth Gattinara alone resisted the Pope. When Charles brought to him the objections of Rome: "Remember," said the Chancellor, "that you are master!" Henceforward every thing seemed to take a new direction. The Pope required that Charles should be satisfied with being his "lictor," as Luther says, to carry out his judgments against the heretics.[396] Eck, whose name (according to Melancthon) was no bad imitation of the cry of Luther's crows, heaped one upon another[397] a multitude of pretended heretical propositions, extracted from the Reformer's writings. There were four hundred and four, and yet he made excuse that, being taken unawares, he was forced to restrict himself to so small a number, and he called loudly for a disputation with the Lutherans. They retorted on these propositions by a number of ironical and biting theses on "wine, Venus, and baths, against John Eck;" and the poor Doctor became the laughing-stock of everybody.


But others went to work more skilfully than he. Cochlœus, who became chaplain to Duke George of Saxony in 1527, begged an interview with Melancthon, "for," added he, "I cannot converse with your married ministers."[398] Melancthon, who was looked upon with an evil eye at Augsburg, and who had complained of being more solitary there than Luther in his castle,[399] was touched by this courtesy, and was still more[146] fully penetrated with the idea that things should be ordered in the mildest manner possible.

The Romish priests and laymen made a great uproar, because on fast days meat was usually eaten at the Elector's court. Melancthon advised his prince to restrain the liberty of his attendants in this respect. "This disorder," said he, "far from leading the simple-minded to the Gospel, scandalizes them." He added, in his ill-humour: "A fine holiness truly, to make it a matter of conscience to fast, and yet to be night and day given up to wine and folly!"[400] The Elector did not yield to Melancthon's advice; it would have been a mark of weakness of which his adversaries would have known how to take advantage.

On the 31st May, the Saxon confession was at length communicated to the other Protestant states, who required that it should be presented in common in the name of them all.[401] But at the same time they desired to make their reservations with regard to the influence of the state. "It is to a council that we appeal," said Melancthon; "we will not receive the Emperor as our judge; the ecclesiastical constitutions themselves forbid him to pronounce in spiritual matters.[402] Moses declares that it is not the civil magistrate who decides, but the sons of Levi. St. Paul also says (1 Cor. xiv.), 'let the others judge,' which cannot be understood except of an entire christian assembly; and the Saviour himself gives us this commandment: 'Tell it unto the Church.' We pledge, therefore, our obedience to the Emperor in all civil matters; but as for the Word of God, it is liberty that we demand."


All were agreed on this point; but the dissent came from another quarter. The Lutherans feared to compromise their cause if they went hand in hand with the Zwinglians. "This is Lutheran madness," replied Bucer: "it will perish[147] of its own weight."[403] But, far from allowing this madness "to perish," the reformed augmented the disunion by exaggerated complaints. "In Saxony they are beginning to sing Latin hymns again," said they; "the sacred vestments are resumed, and oblations are called for anew.[404] We would rather be led to slaughter, than be Christians after that fashion."

The afflicted Landgrave, says Bucer, was "between the hammer and the anvil;" and his allies caused him more uneasiness than his enemies.[405] He applied to Rhegius, to Brenz, to Melancthon, declaring that it was his most earnest wish to see concord prevail among all the Evangelical doctors. "If these fatal doctrines are not opposed," replied Melancthon, "there will be rents in the Church that will last to the end of the world. Do not the Zwinglians boast of their full coffers, of having soldiers prepared, and of foreign nations disposed to aid them? Do they not talk of sharing among them the rights and the property of the bishops, and of proclaiming liberty......Good God! shall we not think of posterity, which, if we do not repress these guilty seditions, will be at once without throne and without altar?"[406]—"No, no! we are one," replied this generous prince, who was so much in advance of his age; "we all confess the same Christ, we all profess that we must eat Jesus Christ, by faith, in the Eucharist. Let us unite." All was unavailing. The time in which true catholicity was to replace this sectarian spirit, of which Rome is the most perfect expression, had not yet arrived.


IV. In proportion as the Emperor drew near Augsburg, the anxieties of the Protestants continued increasing. The burghers of this imperial city expected to see it become the[148] theatre of strange events. Accordingly they said that if the Elector, the Landgrave, and other friends of the Reformation were not in the midst of them, they would all desert it.[407] "A great destruction threatens us," was repeated on every side.[408] A haughty expression of Charles above all disquieted the Protestants. "What do these Electors want with me?" he had said impatiently; "I shall do what I please!"[409] Thus arbitrary rule was the imperial law destined to prevail in the diet.

To this agitation of men's minds was added the agitation of the streets, or rather one led to the other. Masons and locksmiths were at work in all the public places and crossings, laboriously fastening barriers and chains to the walls, that might be closed or stretched at the first cry of alarm.[410] At the same time about eight hundred foot and horse soldiers were seen patrolling the streets, dressed in velvet and silk,[411] whom the magistrates had enrolled in order to receive the Emperor with magnificence.

Matters were in this state, and it was about the middle of May, when a number of Spanish quartermasters arrived, full of arrogance, and who looked with contemptuous eyes on these wretched burghers, entered their houses, conducted themselves with violence, and even rudely tore down the arms of some of the princes.[412] The magistrates having delegated councillors to treat with them, the Spaniards made an insolent reply. "Alas!" said the citizens, "if the servants are so, what will their master be?" The ministers of Charles were grieved at their impertinence, and sent a German quartermaster who employed the forms of German politeness to make them forget this Spanish haughtiness.


That did not last long, and they soon felt more serious[149] alarm. The Council of Augsburg were asked what was the meaning of these chains and soldiers, and they were ordered, in the Emperor's name, to take down the one and disband the other. The magistrates of the city answered, in alarm, "For more than ten years past we have intended putting up these chains;[413] and as for the soldiers, our object is simply to pay due honour to his majesty." After many parleys it was agreed to dismiss the troops, and that the imperial commanders should select afresh a thousand men, who should make oath to the Emperor, but be paid by the city of Augsburg.

The imperial quartermasters then resumed all their impertinence; and no longer giving themselves the trouble of entering the houses, and the shops, they tore down the signboards of the Augsburg citizens, and wrote in their place how many men and horses they would be required to lodge.[414]

Such were the preludes to the work of conciliation that Charles V. had announced, and that he was so slow in beginning. Accordingly his delay, attributed by some to the crowds of people who surrounded him with their acclamations; by others, to the solicitations of the priests, who opposed his entry into Augsburg until he had imposed silence on the ministers; and by others, finally, to the lessons the Pope had given him in the arts of policy and stratagem,[415] still more estranged the Elector and his allies.


At last Charles, having quitted Innspruck two days after Gattinara's death, arrived at Munich on the 10th June. His reception was magnificent. At the distance of two miles from the town a temporary fortress, soldiers' huts, cannon, horsemen, an assault, repeated explosions, flames, shouts, whirlwinds of smoke, and a terrible clashing of arms, all of which was very agreeable to the Emperor;[416] in the city, theatres[150] raised in the open air, the Jewess Esther, the Persian Cambyses, and other pieces not less famous, the whole combined with splendid fireworks, formed the reception given by the adherents of the Pope to him whom they styled their Saviour.

Charles was not far distant from Augsburg. As early as the 11th June, every day and every hour, members of the imperial household, carriages, waggons, and baggage entered this city, to the sound of the clacking whip and of the horn;[417] and the burghers in amazement gazed with dejected eyes on all this insolent train, that fell upon their city like a flight of locusts.[418]

At five o'clock in the morning of the 15th June,[419] the Elector, the princes, and their councillors, assembled at the town-hall, and erelong arrived the imperial commissaries, having an order for them to go out and meet Charles. At three in the afternoon the princes and deputies quitted the city, and, having reached a little bridge across the river Lech, they there halted and waited for the Emperor. The eyes of every member of the brilliant assemblage, thus stopping on the smiling banks of an alpine torrent, were directed along the road to Munich. At length, after waiting two or three hours, clouds of dust and a loud noise announced the Emperor. Two thousand of the imperial guard marched first; then Charles having come to within fifty paces of the river, the Electors and princes alighted. Their sons, who had advanced beyond the bridge, perceiving the Emperor preparing to do the same, ran to him and begged him to remain on horseback;[420] but Charles dismounted without hesitating,[421] and approaching the princes with an amiable smile, shook hands with them cordially. Albert of Mentz, in his quality of arch-chancellor of the empire, now welcomed the Emperor, and the Count-palatine Frederick replied in behalf of Charles.



While this was passing, three individuals remained apart on a little elevation;[422] these were the Roman Legate, proudly seated on a mule, glittering with purple, and accompanied by two other cardinals, the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Bishop of Trent. The Nuncio, beholding all these great personages on the road, raised his hands, and gave them his blessing. Immediately the Emperor, the King, and the princes who submitted to the Pope, fell on their knees; the Spaniards, Italians, Netherlanders, and Germans in their train, imitated their movements, casting however a side glance on the Protestants, who, in the midst of this humbly prostrate crowd, alone remained standing.[423] Charles did not appear to notice this, but he doubtless understood what it meant. The Elector of Brandenburg then delivered a Latin speech to the legate. He had been selected because he spoke this language better than the princes of the Church; and accordingly, Charles, when praising his eloquence, slily put in a word about the negligence of the prelates.[424] The Emperor now prepared to remount his horse, when the prince-electoral of Saxony, and the young princes of Luneburg, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and Anhalt rushed towards him to aid him in getting into his saddle: one held the bridle, another the stirrup, and all were charmed at the magnificent appearance of their powerful sovereign.[425] The procession began to move on.

First came two companies of lansquenets, commanded by Simon Seitz, a citizen of Augsburg, who had made the campaign of Italy, and was returning home laden with gold.[426] Next advanced the households of the six electors, composed of princes, counts, councillors, gentlemen, and soldiers; the household of the Dukes of Bavaria had slipped into their ranks, and the four hundred and fifty horsemen that composed[152] it marched five abreast, covered with bright cuirasses, wearing red doublets, while over their heads floated handsome many-coloured plumes.—Bavaria was already in this age the main support of Rome in Germany.

Immediately after came the households of the Emperor and of his brother, in striking contrast with this warlike show. They were composed of Turkish, Polish, Arabian, and other led horses; then followed a multitude of young pages, clad in yellow or red velvet, with Spanish, Bohemian, and Austrian nobles in robes of silk and velvet;[427] among these the Bohemians had the most martial air, and skilfully rode their superb and prancing coursers. Last the trumpeters, drummers, heralds, grooms, footmen, and the legate's cross-bearers, announced the approach of the princes.

In fact these powerful lords, whose contentions had so often filled Germany with confusion and war, now advanced riding peacefully side by side. After the princes appeared the electors; and the Elector of Saxony, according to custom, carried the naked and glittering imperial sword immediately before the Emperor.[428]

Last came the Prince, on whom all eyes were fixed.[429] Thirty years of age, of distinguished port and pleasing features, robed in golden garments that glittered all over with precious stones,[430] wearing a small Spanish hat on the crown of his head,[431] mounted on a beautiful Polish hackney of the most brilliant whiteness, riding beneath a rich canopy of red, white, and green damask borne by six senators of Augsburg, and casting around him looks in which gentleness was mingled with gravity, Charles excited the liveliest enthusiasm, and every one exclaimed that he was the handsomest man in the empire, as well as the mightiest prince in the world.


He had at first desired to place his brother and the legate[153] at his side; but the Elector of Mentz, followed by two hundred guards arrayed in silk, had claimed the Emperor's right hand; and the Elector of Cologne, with a hundred well-armed followers, had taken his station on the left. King Ferdinand and the legate were compelled to take their places behind them, followed by the cardinals, ambassadors, and prelates, among whom was remarked the haughty Bishop of Osma, the Emperor's confessor. The imperial cavalry and the troops of Augsburg closed the procession.

Never, according to the historians, had anything so magnificent been seen in the Empire;[432] but they advanced slowly, and it was between eight and nine o'clock in the evening before they reached the gates of Augsburg.[433] Here they met the burgomaster and councillors, who prostrated themselves before Charles, and at the same time the cannon from the ramparts, the bells from all the steeples in full peal, the noise of trumpets and kettle-drums, and the joyful acclamations of the people re-echoed with loud din. Stadion, bishop of Augsburg, and his clergy robed in white, struck up the Advenisti desirabilis; and six canons, advancing with a magnificent canopy, prepared to conduct the Emperor to the cathedral, when Charles's horse, startled at this unusual sight, suddenly reared,[434] so that the Emperor with difficulty mastered him. At length Charles entered the basilick, which was ornamented with garlands and flowers, and suddenly illuminated by a thousand torches.


The Emperor went up to the altar, and falling on his knees, raised his hands towards heaven.[435] During the Te Deum, the Protestants observed with anxiety that Charles kept conversing in a low tone with the Archbishop of Mentz; that he bent his ear to the legate who approached to speak to him, and nodded in a friendly manner to Duke[154] George. All this appeared to them of evil omen; but at the moment when the priests sang the Te ergo quæsimus, Charles, breaking off his conversations, suddenly rose, and one of the acolytes running to him with a gold-embroidered cushion, the Emperor put it aside, and knelt on the bare stones of the church. All the assembly knelt with him; the Elector and the Landgrave alone remained standing. Duke George, astonished at such boldness, threw a threatening glance at his cousin. The Margrave of Brandenburg, carried away by the crowd, had fallen on his knees; but having seen his two allies standing, he hastily rose up again.

The Cardinal-archbishop of Salzburg then proceeded to pronounce the benediction; but Campeggio, impatient at having as yet taken no part in the ceremony, hastened to the altar, and rudely thrusting the archbishop aside, said sharply to him:[436] "this office belongs to me, and not to you." The other gave way, the Emperor bent down, and the Landgrave, with difficulty concealing a smile, hid himself behind a candelabrum. The bells now rang out anew, the procession recommenced its march, and the princes conducted the Emperor to the Palatinate (the name given to the bishop's palace), which had been prepared for him. The crowd now dispersed: it was after ten at night.

The hour was come in which the partisans of the Papacy flattered themselves with the prospect of rendering the Protestants untrue to their faith. The arrival of the Emperor, the procession of the holy sacrament that was preparing, the late hour,—all had been calculated beforehand; "the nocturns of treason were about to begin," said Spalatin.


A few minutes of general conversation took place in the Emperor's apartments; the princes of the Romish party were then allowed to retire; but Charles had given a sign to the Elector of Saxony, to the Landgrave of Hesse, to George of Brandenburg, to the Prince of Anhalt, and to the Duke of Luneburg to follow him into his private chamber.[437] His[155] brother Ferdinand, who was to serve as interpreter, alone went in with them. Charles thought that so long as the Protestant princes were observed, they would not yield; but that in a private and friendly interview, he might obtain all he desired of them.

"His majesty requests you to discontinue the preachings," said Ferdinand. On hearing these words the two old princes (the Elector and the Margrave) turned pale and did not speak;[438] there was a long silence.

At last the Landgrave said: "We entreat your majesty to withdraw your request, for our ministers preach only the pure Word of God, as did the ancient doctors of the Church, St. Augustin, St. Hilary, and so many others. It will be easy for your majesty to convince yourself of it. We cannot deprive ourselves of the food of the Word of God, and deny his Gospel."[439]


Ferdinand, resuming the conversation in French[440] (for it was in this language that he conversed with his brother), informed the Emperor of the Landgrave's answer. Nothing was more displeasing to Charles than these citations of Hilary and Augustin; the colour mounted to his cheeks, and he was nearly getting angry.[441] "His Majesty," said Ferdinand in a more positive tone, "cannot desist from his demand."—"Your conscience," quickly replied the Landgrave, "has no right to command ours."[442] As Ferdinand still persisted, the Margrave, who had been silent until then, could contain himself no longer; and without caring for interpreters, stretched out his neck towards Charles, exclaiming in deep emotion: "Rather than allow the Word of the Lord to be taken from me, rather than deny my God, I would kneel before your Majesty and have my head cut off!" As he uttered[156] these simple and magnanimous words, says a contemporary,[443] the prince accompanied them with a significant gesture, and let his hands fall on his neck like the headsman's axe. The excitement of the princes was at its height: had it been necessary, they would all four have instantly walked to the scaffold. Charles was moved by it: surprised and agitated, he hastily cried out in his bad German, making a show of checking the Landgrave: "Dear prince, not the head! not the head!" But he had scarcely uttered these few words, when he checked himself.

These were the only words that Charles pronounced before the princes during all the diet. His ignorance of the German language, and sometimes also the etiquette of the Escurial, compelled him to speak only by the mouth of his brother or of the Count-palatine. As he was in the habit of consecrating four hours daily to divine worship, the people said: "He talks more with God than with men." This habitual silence was not favourable to his plans. They required activity and eloquence; but instead of that the Germans saw in the dumb countenance of their youthful Emperor, a mere puppet, nodding his head and winking his eyes. Charles sometimes felt very keenly the faults of this position: "To be able to speak German," said he, "I would willingly sacrifice any other language, even were it Spanish or French, and more than that, one of my states."[444]


Ferdinand saw that it was useless to insist on the cessation of these meetings; but he had another arrow in his quiver. The next day was the festival of Corpus Christi, and by a custom that had never as yet been infringed, all the princes and deputies present at the diet were expected to take part in the procession. What! would the Protestants refuse this act of courtesy at the very opening of a diet to which each one came in a conciliatory spirit? Have they not declared that the body and blood of Christ are really in the Host? Do they[157] not boast of their opposition to Zwingle, and can they stand aloof, without being tainted with heresy? Now, if they share in the pomp that surrounds "the Lord's body;" if they mingle with that crowd of clergy, glittering in luxury and swelling with pride, who carry about the God whom they have created; if they are present when the people bow down; will they not irrevocably compromise their faith? The machine is well prepared; its movements cannot fail; there is no more doubt! The craft of the Italians is about to triumph over the simplicity of these German boors!

Ferdinand therefore resumes, and making a weapon of the very refusal that he has just met with: "Since the Emperor," said he, "cannot obtain from you the suspension of your assemblies, he begs at least that you will accompany him to-morrow, according to custom, in the procession of the Holy Sacrament. Do so, if not from regard to him, at least for the honour of Almighty God."[445]

The princes were still more irritated and alarmed. "Christ," said they, "did not institute his sacrament to be worshipped." Charles perseveres in his demand, and the Protestants in their refusal.[446] Upon this the Emperor declares that he cannot accept their excuse, that he will give them time for reflection, and that they must be prepared to reply early on the morrow.


They separated in the greatest agitation. The Prince-electoral, who had waited for his father in the first hall along with other lords, sought, at the moment the princes issued from the Emperor's chamber, to read on their countenance what had taken place. Judging from the emotion depicted on their features that the struggle had been severe, he thought that his father was incurring the greatest dangers, and accordingly, grasping him by the hand, he dragged him to the staircase of the palace, exclaiming in affright, as if[158] Charles's satellites were already at his heels, "Come, come quickly!"

Charles, who had expected no such resistance, was in truth confounded, and the legate endeavoured to exasperate him still more.[447] Agitated, filled with anger and vexation, and uttering the most terrible threats,[448] the young Emperor paced hastily to and fro the halls of his palace; and unable to wait till the morrow for the answer, he sent in the middle of the night to demand the Elector's final decision. "At present we require sleep," replied the latter; "to-morrow we will let you know our determination."[449] As for the Landgrave, he could not rest any more than Charles. Scarcely had he returned home, when he sent his chancellor to the Nuremberg deputies, and had them awoke to make them acquainted with what had taken place.[450]

At the same time Charles's demand was laid before the theologians, and Spalatin, taking the pen, drew up their opinion during the night. "The sacrament," it bore, "was not instituted to be worshipped, as the Jews worshipped the brazen image.[451] We are here to confess the truth, and not for the confirmation of abuses. Let us therefore stay away!" This opinion strengthened the Evangelical princes in their determination; and the day of the 16th June began.

The Elector of Saxony feeling indisposed during the night, commissioned his son to represent him; and at seven o'clock the princes and councillors repaired on horseback to the Emperor's palace.[452]


The Margrave of Brandenburg was their spokesman. "You know," said he to Charles, "how, at the risk of our[159] lives, my ancestors and myself have supported your august house. But, in the things of God, the commands of God himself oblige me to put aside all commandment of man. We are told that death awaits those who shall persevere in the sound doctrine: I am ready to suffer it." He then presented the declaration of the Evangelical princes to the Emperor. "We will not countenance by our presence," said they, "these impious human traditions, which are opposed to the Word of God. We declare, on the contrary, without hesitation, and with one accord, that we must expel them from the Church, lest those of its members that are still sound should be infected by this deadly poison."[453] "If you will not accompany his majesty for the love of God," said Ferdinand, "do so at least for love of the Emperor, and as vassals of the Empire.[454] His majesty commands you." "An act of worship is in question," replied the princes, "our conscience forbids it." Then Ferdinand and Charles having conversed together in a low tone: "His majesty desires to see," said the king, "whether you will obey him or not."[455] At the same time the Emperor and his brother quitted the room; but the princes, instead of following him, as Charles had hoped, returned full of joy to their palaces.


The procession did not begin till noon. Immediately behind the canopy under which the Elector of Mentz carried the Host, came the Emperor alone, with a devout air, bearing a taper in his hand, his head bare and shorn like a priest's, although the noon-day sun darted on him its most ardent rays.[456] By exposing himself to these fatigues, Charles desired to profess aloud his faith in what constitutes the essence of Roman-catholicism. In proportion as the spirit and the life had escaped from the primitive Churches, they had striven to[160] replace them by forms, shows, and ceremonies. The essential cause of the Romish worship is found in that decline of charity and faith which catholic Christians of the first ages have often deplored; and the history of Rome is summed up in this expression of St. Paul, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.[457] But as the power was then beginning to revive in the Church, the form began also to decline. Barely a hundred citizens of Augsburg had joined in the procession of the 16th June. It was no longer the pomp of former times: the christian people had learned anew to love and to believe.

Charles, however, under an air of devotion concealed a wounded heart. The legate was less able to command himself, and said aloud that this obstinacy of the princes would be the cause of great mischief to the Pope.[458] When the procession was over (it had lasted an hour), Charles could no longer master his extreme irritation; and he had scarcely returned to his palace, when he declared that he would give the Protestant princes a safe-conduct, and that on the very next day these obstinate and rebellious men should quit Augsburg;[459] the diet would then take such resolutions as were required for the safety of the Church and of the Empire. It was no doubt the legate who had given Charles this idea, whose execution would infallibly have led to a religious war. But some of the princes of the Roman party, desirous of preserving peace, succeeded, though not without difficulty, in getting the Emperor to withdraw his threatening order.[460]


V. 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[161] minister of lively and penetrating eloquence was preaching on the Book of Joshua.[461] 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 Canaan the Emperor and the Ultra-montane princes, and in the people of God the adherents of the Reformation. In consequence, the faithful 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."

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 that his Word be not bound. Poor sinners that we are, we have need of this Divine Word to surmount our troubles.[462] 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."


Charles immediately convoked the other temporal and spiritual princes, who arrived at mid-day at the Palatine palace, and remained sitting until the evening;[463] 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."[464] Exasperated at this new affront, Charles with difficulty contained himself. Some of the princes, however, having entreated him to accept their mediation, he consented to it; but the Protestants[162] were immovable. Did these heretics, whom they imagined to reduce so easily, appear in Augsburg only to humiliate Charles? The honour 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!"

The commission proposed accordingly 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.[465] "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."[466] The evangelical states required time to reflect upon it.

"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."

"We are called to Augsburg," said Agricola, "to give an account of our doctrine, and not to preach."[467]

"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."

"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.[468]



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.

"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.[469] Besides," added the Elector, as he withdrew, "we hope that if at anytime we desire to hear one of our chaplains in our own palace, we shall be free to do so."[470]

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.

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,[471] cried with all his might: "O yes, O yes![472] Thus ordains his imperial majesty, our most gracious lord: no preacher whatever shall preach in Augsburg except such as his majesty shall have nominated; and that under penalty of incurring the displeasure and punishment of his majesty."

The New Preachers.

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!"[473] "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."[474] The Spaniards appeared well satisfied,[164] 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.[475]

At length Sunday the 19th of June began; every one hastened to the churches, and the faithful who filled them, with eyes fixed on the priest and with attentive ears,[476] prepared to listen to what these new and strange preachers would say.[477] It was generally believed that their task would be to make an evangelico-papistical discourse, and they were very impatient to hear this marvel. But

"The mountain in labour, gave birth to a mouse!"

The preacher first read the commonprayer; 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."[478] At last all burst into laughter; "and truly," adds Brenz, "there was reason enough."[479] 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.[480]


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,[481] and a late Mass was performed for him; but Ferdinand and many of the princes were present. The pealing[165] notes of the organ, the resounding voices of the choir—all were set to work, 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 Brenz, those who are called Stratiots.[482] This crowd was no bad representation of the medley of Popery.


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 Grey Friars' prison, whence they contrived to let him escape. As for the Evangelical pastors of Augsburg, almost all left the city to bear 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."[483] 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[166] blood.[484] They wish to give themselves an air of justice, by giving us one of obstinacy. It is not with men that you have to deal at Augsburg, but with the very gates of hell." Melancthon himself saw all his hopes vanish. "All, except the Emperor," said he, "hate us with the most violent hatred. The danger is great, very great.[485]......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."[486]

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.[487] "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 dishonour to the Gospel.


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."[488] The friends of Zwingle did not think so; their walk was more decided than that of Wittemberg. "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."[489] Neither these fears nor these objections were listened to.



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.[490] 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,[491] 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[168] for them, alas! buffoonery and obscenity.[492] 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.[493] There is no peace for Germany so long as the sword shall not have entirely eradicated this heresy.[494] 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!"

This discourse, intermingled with panegyrics of Aristides, Themistocles, Scipio, Cato, the Curtii and Scævola, 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.[495] This fact is but little in harmony with the character of these princes.


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 Brenz at that time, "the more we must hinder ours from giving way[169] to violence."[496] Thus spoke a minister of the Gospel of peace after the sermon of the priest of Rome.

After the mass of the Holy Ghost, the Emperor entered his carriage,[497] and having reached the town-hall, where the sittings of the diet were to take place, he 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.[498]

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."[499] At one o'clock the Emperor, accompanied by all the princes, returned to his palace.

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.[500] All seemed penetrated with this expression of Scripture: "Speak the word, and it shall not stand; for God is with us."[501]



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. It is not an abstraction of the state which this prince presents to our notice throughout the whole of this affair: it is the most noble 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.[502] He knew that it was only by 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;[503] 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.[504]

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.


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.[505] 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[171] 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.

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.

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.[506] Accordingly, they think they do a more meritorious work in killing a Lutheran than in slaying a Turk."

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

"But what, pray, do the Lutherans desire?"

"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;[507] and the whole controversy[172] 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."

"Well, I will report this to his majesty."

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."

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;[508] 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.

On Saturday, June 18, 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,[509] avoiding all public hearing and all prolix discussion, which would only engender anger and division."—"Well," said Melancthon, "I will reflect upon it."

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.[510]


Fortunately the Chancellor and the Elector Frederick did[173] 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!"[511] Thus finished the legate's manœuvre.

VI. Charles, compelled to resign himself to a public sitting, ordered on Wednesday, 22d June, that the Elector and his allies should have their Confession ready for the ensuing Friday. The Roman party were also invited to present a confession of faith; but they excused themselves, saying that they were satisfied with the Edict of Worms.

The Emperor's order took the Protestants by surprise, for the negotiations between Valdez and Melancthon had prevented the latter from putting the finishing stroke to the Confession. It was not copied out fair; and the conclusions, as well as the exordium, were not definitively drawn up. In consequence of this, the Protestants begged the Archbishop of Mentz to obtain for them the delay of a day; but their petition was refused.[512] They therefore laboured incessantly, even during the night, to correct and transcribe the Confession.

On Thursday, 23d June, all the Protestant princes, deputies, councillors, and theologians met early at the Elector's. The Confession was read in German, and all gave their adhesion to it, except the Landgrave and the Strasburgers, who required a change in the article on the sacrament.[513] The princes rejected their demand.



The Elector of Saxony was already preparing to sign, when Melancthon stopped him: he feared giving too political a colouring to this religious business. In his idea it was the Church that should appear, and not the State. "It is for the theologians and ministers to propose these things," said he;[514] "let us reserve for other matters the authority of the mighty ones of the earth."—"God forbid that you should exclude me," replied the Elector; "I am resolved to do what is right without troubling myself about my crown. I desire to confess the Lord. My electoral hat and my ermine are not so precious to me as the cross of Jesus Christ. I shall leave on earth these marks of my greatness; but my Master's cross will accompany me to heaven."

How resist such Christian language! Melancthon gave way.

The Elector then approached, signed, and handed the pen to the Landgrave, who at first made some objections; however the enemy was at the door; was this the time for disunion? At last he signed, but with a declaration that the doctrine of the Eucharist did not please him.[515]


The Margrave and Luneburg having joyfully subscribed their names, Anhalt took the pen in his turn, and said, "I have tilted more than once to please others; now, if the honour of my Lord Jesus Christ requires it, I am ready to saddle my horse, to leave my goods and my life behind, and to rush into eternity, towards an everlasting crown." Then, having signed, this youthful prince said, turning to the theologians: "Rather renounce my subjects and my states, rather quit the country of my fathers staff in hand, rather gain my bread by cleaning the shoes of the foreigner, than receive any other doctrine than that which is contained in this Confession." Nuremberg and Reutlingen alone of the cities subscribed their[175] signatures;[516] and all resolved on demanding of the Emperor that the Confession should be read publicly.[517]

The courage of the princes surprised every one. Rome had crushed the members of the Church, and had reduced them to a herd of slaves, whom she dragged silent and humiliated behind her: the Reformation enfranchised them, and with their rights it restored to them their duties. The priest no longer enjoyed the monopoly of religion; each head of a family again became priest in his own house, and all the members of the Church of God were thenceforward called to the rank of confessors. The laymen are nothing, or almost nothing, in the sect of Rome, but they are the essential portion of the Church of Jesus Christ. Wherever the priestly spirit is established, the Church dies; wherever laymen, as these Augsburg princes, understand their duty and their immediate dependence on Christ, the Church lives.

The Evangelical theologians were moved, by the devotedness of the princes. "When I consider their firmness in the confession of the Gospel," said Brenz, "the colour mounts to my cheeks. What a disgrace that we, who are only beggars beside them, are so afraid of confessing Christ!"[518] Brenz was then thinking of certain towns, particularly of Halle, of which he was pastor, but no doubt also of the theologians.


The latter, in truth, without being deficient in devotedness, were sometimes wanting in courage. Melancthon was in constant agitation; he ran to and fro, slipping in everywhere (says Cochl[eo]us in his Philippics), penetrating not only the houses and mansions of private persons, but also insinuating himself into the palaces of cardinals and princes, nay, even into the court of the Emperor; and, whether at table or in conversation, he spared no means of persuading every person,[176] that nothing was more easy than to restore peace between the two parties.[519]

One day he was with the Archbishop of Salzburg, who in a long discourse gave an eloquent description of the troubles produced, as he said, by the Reformation, and ended with a peroration "written in blood," says Melancthon.[520] Philip in agony had ventured during the conversation to slip in the word Conscience. "Conscience!" hastily interrupted the archbishop, "Conscience!—What does that mean? I tell you plainly that the Emperor will not allow confusion to be thus brought upon the Empire."—"Had I been in Melancthon's place," said Luther, "I should have immediately replied to the archbishop: And our Emperor, ours, will not tolerate such blasphemy."—"Alas!" said Melancthon, "they are all as full of assurance as if there was no God."[521]

Another day Melancthon was with Campeggio, and conjured him to persevere in the moderate sentiments he appeared to entertain. And at another time, as it would seem, he was with the Emperor himself.[522] "Alas!" said the alarmed Zwinglians, "after having qualified one half of the Gospel, Melancthon is sacrificing the other."[523]


The wiles of the Ultramontanists were added to Philip's dejection, in order to arrest the courageous proceedings of the princes. Friday, 24th June, was the day fixed for reading the Confession, but measures were taken to prevent it. The sitting of the diet did not begin till three in the afternoon; the legate was then announced; Charles went to meet him as far as the top of the grand staircase, and Campeggio, taking his seat in front of the Emperor, in King Ferdinand's place, delivered a harangue in Ciceronian style. "Never," said he, "has St. Peter's bark been so violently tossed by so many[177] waves, whirlwinds, and abysses.[524] The Holy Father has learnt these things with pain, and desires to drag the Church from these frightful gulfs. For the love of Jesus Christ, for the safety of your country and for your own, O mighty Prince! get rid of these errors, deliver Germany, and save Christendom!"

After a temperate reply from Albert of Mentz, the legate quitted the townhall, and the Evangelical princes stood up; but a fresh obstacle had been provided. Deputies from Austria, Carinthia, and Carniola, first received a hearing.[525]

Much time had thus elapsed. The Evangelical princes, however, rose up again, and the Chancellor Bruck said: "It is pretended that new doctrines not based on Scripture, that heresies and schisms are spread among the people by us. Considering that such accusations compromise not only our good name, but also the safety of our souls,[526] we beg his majesty would have the goodness to hear what are the doctrines we profess."

The Emperor, no doubt by arrangement with the legate, made reply that it was too late; besides, that this reading would be useless; and that the princes should be satisfied with putting in their Confession in writing. Thus the mine, so skilfully prepared, worked admirably; the Confession, once handed to the Emperor, would be thrown aside, and the Reformation would be forced to retire, without the Papists having even condescended to hear it, without defence and overwhelmed with contumely.


The Protestant princes, uneasy, and agitated, insisted. "Our honour is at stake," said they; "our souls are endangered.[527] We are accused publicly; publicly we ought to answer."[178] Charles was shaken; Ferdinand leant towards him, and whispered a few words in his ear:[528] the Emperor refused a second time.

Upon this the Elector and princes, in still greater alarm, said for the third time with emotion and earnestness:[529] "For the love of God, let us read our Confession! No person is insulted in it." Thus were seen, on the one hand, a few faithful men, desiring with loud cries to confess their faith; and on the other, the great Emperor of the West, surrounded by a crowd of cardinals, prelates, and princes, endeavouring to stifle the manifestation of the truth.[530] It was a serious, violent, and decisive struggle, in which the holiest interests were discussed!

At last Charles appeared to yield: "His majesty grants your request," was the reply to the princes; "but as it is now too late, he begs you to transmit him your written Confession, and to-morrow, at two o'clock, the diet will be prepared to hear it read at the Palatine Palace."

The princes were struck with these words, which, seeming to grant them everything, in reality granted nothing. In the first place, it was not in a public sitting at the town-hall, but privately in his own palace, that the Emperor was willing to hear them;[531] then they had no doubt that if the Confession left their hands it was all over with the public reading. They therefore remained firm. "The work has been done in great haste," said they, and it was the truth; "pray leave it with us to-night, that we may revise it." The Emperor was obliged to yield, and the Protestants returned to their hotels full of joy; while the legate and his friends, perceiving that the Confession was inevitable, saw the morrow approach with anxiety continually increasing.



Among those who prepared to confess the Evangelical truth, was one, however, whose heart was filled with sadness:—it was Melancthon. Placed between two fires, he saw the Reformed, and many even of his own friends, reproach his weakness; while the opposite party detested what they called his hypocrisy. His friend Camerarius, who visited Augsburg about this time, often found him plunged in thought, uttering deep sighs, and shedding bitter tears.[532] Brenz, moved with compassion, coming to the unhappy Philip, would sit down by his side and weep with him;[533] and Jonas, endeavouring to console him in another manner, exhorted him to take the Book of Psalms, and cry to God with all his heart, making use of David's words rather than of his own.

One day intelligence arrived which formed a general topic of conversation in Augsburg, and which, spreading terror among the partisans of the Pope, gave a momentary relief to Melancthon. It was said that a mule in Rome had given birth to a colt with crane's feet. "This prodigy," said Melancthon thoughtfully, "announces that Rome is near its end;"[534] perhaps because the crane is a bird of passage, and that the Pope's mule thus gave signs of departure. Melancthon had immediately written to Luther, who replied that he was exceedingly rejoiced that God had given the Pope so striking a sign of his approaching fall.[535] It is good to call to memory these puerilities of the age of the Reformers, that we may better understand the high range of these men of God in matters of faith.


These idle Roman stories did not long console Melancthon. On the eve of the 25th June, he was present in imagination at the reading of that Confession which he had drawn up, which was about to be proclaimed before the world, and in[180] which one word too many or too few might decide on the approbation or the hatred of the princes, on the safety or ruin of the Reformation and of the Empire. He could bear up no longer, and the feeble Atlas, crushed under the burden of the world upon his shoulders, gave utterance to a cry of anguish. "All my time here is spent in tears and mourning," wrote he to Vitus Diedrich, Luther's secretary in the castle of Coburg;[536] and on the morrow he wrote to Luther himself: "My dwelling is in perpetual tears.[537] My consternation is indescribable.[538] O my father! I do not wish my words to exaggerate my sorrows; but, without your consolations, it is impossible for me to enjoy here the least peace."

Nothing in fact presented so strong a contrast to the distrust and desolations of Melancthon, as the faith, calmness, and exultation of Luther. It was of advantage to him that he was not then in the midst of the Augsburg vortex, and to be able from his stronghold to set his foot with tranquillity upon the rock of God's promises. He was sensible himself of the value of this peaceful hermitage, as he called it.[539] "I cannot sufficiently admire," said Vitus Diedrich, "the firmness, cheerfulness, and faith of this man, so astonishing in such cruel times."


Luther, besides his constant reading of the Word of God,[540] did not pass a day without devoting three hours at least to prayer, and they were hours selected from those the most favourable to study.[541] One day, as Diedrich approached[181] the Reformer's chamber, he heard his voice,[542] and remained motionless, holding his breath, a few steps from the door. Luther was praying, and his prayer (said the secretary) was full of adoration, fear, and hope, as when one speaks to a friend or to a father.[543] "I know that thou art our Father and our God," said the Reformer, alone in his chamber, "and that thou wilt scatter the persecutors of thy children, for thou art thyself endangered with us. All this matter is thine, and it is only by thy constraint that we have put our hands to it. Defend us then, O Father!" The secretary, motionless as a statue, in the long gallery of the castle, lost not one of the words that the clear and resounding voice of Luther bore to his ears.[544] The Reformer was earnest with God, and called upon him with so much unction to accomplish his promises, that Diedrich felt his heart glow within him.[545] "Oh!" exclaimed he, as he retired, "How could not these prayers but prevail in the desperate struggle at Augsburg!"

Luther might also have allowed himself to be overcome with fear, for he was left in complete ignorance of what was taking place in the diet. A Wittemberg messenger, who should have brought him forests of letters (according to his own expression), having presented himself: "Do you bring any letters?" asked Luther. "No!" "How are those gentlemen?" "Well!" Luther, grieved at such silence, returned and shut himself up in his chamber.


Erelong there appeared a courier on horseback carrying despatches from the Elector to Torgau. "Do you bring me any letters?" asked Luther. "No!" "How are those gentlemen?" continued he, fearfully. "Well!" "This is strange," thought the Reformer. A waggon having left Coburg laden with flour (for they were almost in want of provisions at Augsburg), Luther impatiently awaited the return of the[182] waggoner; but he returned empty. Luther then began to revolve the gloomiest thoughts in his mind, not doubting that they were concealing some misfortune from him.[546] At last another individual, Jobst Nymptzen, having arrived from Augsburg, Luther rushed anew towards him, with his usual question. "Do you bring me any letters?" He waited trembling for the reply. "No!" "And how then are those gentlemen?" "Well!" The Reformer withdrew, a prey to anger and to fear.

Then Luther opened his Bible, and to console himself for the silence of men, he conversed with God. There were some passages of Scripture in particular that he read continually. We point them out below.[547] He did more; he wrote with his own hand many declarations of Scripture over the doors and windows, and on the walls of the castle. In one place were these words from the 118th Psalm: I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. In another, those of the 12th chapter of Proverbs: The way of the wicked seduceth them; and over his bed, these words from the 4th Psalm: I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, O Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. Never perhaps did man so environ himself with the promises of the Lord, or so dwell in the atmosphere of his Word and live by his breath, as Luther at Coburg.


At length letters came. "If the times in which we live were not opposed to it, I should have imagined some revenge," wrote Luther to Jonas; "but prayer checked my[183] anger, and anger checked my prayer.[548] I am delighted at that tranquil mind which God gives our prince. As for Melancthon, it is his philosophy that tortures him, and nothing else. For our cause is in the very hands of Him who can say with unutterable pride: No one shall pluck it out of my hands. I would not have it in our hands, and it would not be desirable that it were so.[549] I have had many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have been able to place in God's, I still possess."

On learning that Melancthon's anguish still continued, Luther wrote to him: and these are words that should be preserved. "Grace and peace in Christ! in Christ, I say, and not in the world, Amen. I hate with exceeding hatred those extreme cares which consume you. If the cause is unjust, abandon it; if the cause is just, why should we belie the promises of Him who commands us to sleep without fear? Can the devil do more than kill us? Christ will not be wanting to the work of justice and of truth. He lives; he reigns; what fear, then, can we have? God is powerful to upraise his cause if it is overthrown, to make it proceed if it remains motionless, and if we are not worthy of it, he will do it by others.

"I have received your Apology,[550] and I cannot understand what you mean, when you ask what we must concede to the Papists. We have already conceded too much. Night and day I meditate on this affair, turning it over and over, perusing all Scripture, and the certainty of the truth of our doctrine continually increases in my mind. With the help of God, I will not permit a single letter of all that we have said to be torn from us.


"The issue of this affair torments you, because you cannot understand it. But if you could, I would not have the least[184] share in it. God has put it in a 'common place,' that you will not find either in your rhetoric or in your philosophy: that place is called Faith.[551] It is that in which subsist all things that we can neither understand nor see. Whoever wishes to touch them, as you do, will have tears for his sole reward.

"If Christ is not with us, where is he in the whole universe? If we are not the Church, where, I pray, is the Church? Is it the Dukes of Bavaria, is it Ferdinand, is it the Pope, is it the Turk, who is the Church? If we have not the Word of God, who is it that possesses it?

"Only we must have faith, lest the cause of faith should be found to be without faith.[552]

"If we fall, Christ falls with us, that is to say, the Master of the world. I would rather fall with Christ, than remain standing with Cæsar."

Thus wrote Luther. The faith which animated him flowed from him like torrents of living water. He was indefatigable; in a single day he wrote to Melancthon, Spalatin, Brenz, Agricola, and John Frederick, and they were letters full of life. He was not alone in praying, speaking, and believing. At the same moment, the Evangelical Christians exhorted one another everywhere to prayer.[553] Such was the arsenal in which the weapons were forged that the confessors of Christ wielded before the Diet of Augsburg.


VII. At length the 25th June arrived. This was destined to be the greatest day of the Reformation, and one of the most glorious in the history of Christianity and of mankind.

As the chapel of the Palatine Palace, where the Emperor had resolved to hear the Confession, could contain only about two hundred persons,[554] before three o'clock a great crowd was[185] to be seen surrounding the building and thronging the court, hoping by this means to catch a few words; and many having gained entrance to the chapel, all were turned out except those who were not, at the least, councillors to the princes.

Charles took his seat on the throne. The Electors or their representatives were on his right and left hand; after them the other princes and states of the Empire. The legate had refused to appear in this solemnity, lest he should seem by his presence to authorize the reading of the Confession.[555]

Then stood up John Elector of Saxony, with his son John Frederick, Phillip Landgrave of Hesse, the Margrave George of Brandenburg, Wolfgang Prince of Anhalt, Ernest Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, and his brother Francis, and last of all the deputies of Nuremberg and Reutlingen. Their air was animated and their features radiant with joy.[556] The apologies of the early Christians, of Tertullian and Justin Martyr, hardly reached in writing the sovereigns to whom they were addressed. But now, to hear the new apology of resuscitated Christianity, behold that puissant Emperor, whose sceptre, stretching far beyond the columns of Hercules, reaches the utmost limits of the world, his brother the King of the Romans, with electors, princes, prelates, deputies, ambassadors, all of whom desire to destroy the Gospel, but who are constrained by an invisible power to listen, and, by that very listening, to honour the Confession!

One thought was involuntarily present in the minds of the spectators,—the recollection of the Diet of Worms.[557] Only nine years before, a poor monk stood alone for this same cause in a hall of the town-house at Worms, in presence of the Empire. And now in his stead, behold the foremost of the Electors, behold princes and cities! What a victory is declared by this simple fact! No doubt Charles himself cannot escape from this recollection.


The Emperor, seeing the Protestants stand up, motioned[186] them to sit down; and then the two chancellors of the Elector, Bruck and Bayer, advanced to the middle of the chapel, and stood before the throne, holding in their hands, the former the Latin, and the other the German copy of the Confession. The Emperor required the Latin copy to be read.[558] "We are Germans," said the Elector of Saxony, "and on German soil; I hope therefore your majesty will allow us to speak German." If the Confession had been read in Latin, a language unknown to most of the princes, the general effect would have been lost. This was another means of shutting the mouth of the Gospel. The Emperor complied with the Elector's demand.

Bayer then began to read the Evangelical Confession, slowly, seriously, distinctly, with a clear, strong, and sonorous voice, which re-echoed under the arched roof of the chapel, and carried even to the outside this great testimony paid to the truth.[559]

"Most serene, most mighty, and invincible Emperor and most gracious Lord," said he, "we who appear in your presence, declare ourselves ready to confer amicably with you on the fittest means of restoring one sole, true, and same faith, since it is for one sole and same Christ that we fight.[560] And in case that these religious dissensions cannot be settled amicably, we then offer to your majesty to explain our cause in a general, free, and christian council."[561]


This prologue being ended, Bayer confessed the Holy Trinity, conformably with the Nicene Council,[562] original and hereditary sin, "which bringeth eternal death to all who are not[187] regenerated,"[563] and the incarnation of the Son, "very God and very man."[564]

"We teach moreover," continued he, "that we cannot be justified before God by our own strength, our merits, and our works; but that we are justified by Christ through grace, through the means of faith,[565] when we believe that our sins are forgiven in virtue of Christ, who by his death has made satisfaction for our sins: this faith is the righteousness that God imputes to the sinner.

"But we teach, at the same time, that this faith ought to bear good fruits, and that we must do all the good works commanded by God, for the love of God, and not by their means to gain the grace of God."

The Protestants next declared their faith in the Christian Church, "which is," said they, "the assembly of all true believers and all the saints,"[566] in the midst of whom there are, nevertheless, in this life, many false Christians, hypocrites even, and manifest sinners; and they added, "that it was sufficient for the real unity of the Church that they were agreed on the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments, without the rites and ceremonies instituted by men being everywhere the same."[567]—They proclaimed the necessity of baptism, and declared "that the body and blood of Christ are really present and administered in the Lord's Supper to those who partake of it."[568]


The Chancellor then successively confessed the faith of the Evangelical Christians, touching confession, penance, the nature of the sacraments, the government of the Church, ecclesiastical[188] ordinances, political government, and the last judgment. "As regards Free-will," continued he, "we confess that man's will has a certain liberty of accomplishing civil justice, and of loving the things that reason comprehends; that man can do the good that is within the sphere of nature—plough his fields, eat, drink, have a friend, put on a coat, build a house, take a wife, feed cattle, exercise a calling; as also he can, of his own movement, do evil, kneel before an idol, and commit murder. But we maintain that without the Holy Ghost he cannot do what is righteous in the sight of God."

Then, returning to the grand doctrine of the Reformation, and recalling to mind that the doctors of the Pope "have never ceased impelling the faithful to puerile and useless works, as the custom of chaplets, invocations of saints, monastic vows, processions, fasts, feast-days, brotherhoods," the Protestants added, that as for themselves, while urging the practice of truly Christian works, of which little had been said before their time,[569] "they taught that man is justified by faith alone; not by that faith which is a simple knowledge of the history, and which wicked men and even devils possess, but by a faith which believes not only the history, but also the effect of the history;[570] which believes that through Christ we obtain grace; which sees that in Christ we have a merciful Father; which knows this God; which calls upon him; in a word, which is not without God, as the heathen are."

"Such," said Bayer, "is a summary of the doctrine professed in our Churches, by which it may be seen that this doctrine is by no means opposed to Scripture, to the universal Church, nor even to the Romish Church, such as the doctors describe it to us;[571] and since it is so, to reject us as heretics is an offence against unity and charity."



Here terminated the first part of the Confession, the aim of which was to explain the Evangelical doctrine. The Chancellor read with so distinct a voice, that the crowd which was unable to enter the hall, and which filled the court and all the approaches of the episcopal palace, did not lose a word.[572] This reading produced the most marvellous effect on the princes who thronged the chapel. Jonas watched every change in their countenances,[573] and there beheld interest, astonishment, and even approbation depicted by turns. "The adversaries imagine they have done a wonderful thing, by forbidding the preaching of the Gospel," wrote Luther to the Elector; "and they do not see, poor creatures! that by the reading of the Confession in the presence of the diet, there has been more preaching than in the sermons of ten preachers. Exquisite subtlety! admirable expedient! Master Agricola and the other ministers are reduced to silence; but in their place appear the Elector of Saxony, and the other princes and lords, who preach before his imperial majesty, and the members of the whole Empire, freely, to their beard, and before their noses. Yes, Christ is in the diet, and he does not keep silence: the word of God cannot be bound. They forbid it in the pulpit, and are forced to hear it in the palace; poor ministers cannot announce it, and great princes proclaim it; the servants are forbidden to listen to it, and their masters are compelled to hear it; they will have nothing to do with it during the whole course of the diet, and they are forced to submit to hear more in one day than is heard ordinarily in a whole year......When all else is silent, the very stones cry out, as says our Lord Jesus Christ."[574]


That part of the Confession destined to point out errors and abuses still remained. Bayer continued: he explained and demonstrated the doctrine of the two kinds; he attacked the[190] compulsory celibacy of priests, maintained that the Lord's Supper had been changed into a regular fair, in which it was merely a question of buying and selling, and that it had been re-established in its primitive purity by the Reformation, and was celebrated in the Evangelical churches with entirely new devotion and gravity. He declared that the Sacrament was administered to no one who had not first made confession of his faults, and he quoted this expression of Chrysostom: "Confess thyself to God the Lord, thy real Judge; tell thy sin, not with the tongue, but in thy conscience and in thy heart."

Bayer next came to the precepts on the distinction of meats and other Roman usages. "Celebrate such a festival," said he; "repeat such a prayer, or keep such a fast; be dressed in such a manner, and so many other ordinances of men—this is what is now styled a spiritual and christian life; while the good works prescribed by God, as those of a father of a family who toils to support his wife, his sons, and his daughters—of a mother who brings children into the world, and takes care of them—of a prince or of a magistrate who governs his subjects, are looked upon as secular things, and of an imperfect nature." As for monastic vows in particular, he represented that, as the Pope could give a dispensation from them, those vows ought therefore to be abolished.

The last article of the Confession treated of the authority of the bishops: powerful princes crowned with the episcopal mitre were there; the Archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, Salzburg, and Bremen; the Bishops of Bamberg, Wurzburg, Eichstadt, Worms, Spire, Strasburg, Augsburg, Constance, Coire, Passau, Liege, Trent, Brixen, and of Lebus and Ratzburg, fixed their eyes on the humble confessor. He fearlessly continued, and energetically protesting against that confusion of Church and State which had characterized the Middle Ages, he called for the distinction and independence of the two societies.


"Many," said he, "have unskilfully confounded the episcopal and the temporal power; and from this confusion have[191] resulted great wars, revolts, and seditions.[575] It is for this reason, and to reassure men's consciences, that we find ourselves constrained to establish the difference which exists between the power of the Church and the power of the sword.[576]

"We therefore teach that the power of the keys or of the bishops is, conformably with the Word of the Lord, a commandment emanating from God, to preach the Gospel, to remit or retain sins, and to administer the Sacraments. This power has reference only to eternal goods, is exercised only by the minister of the Word, and does not trouble itself with political administration. The political administration, on the other hand, is busied with everything else but the Gospel. The magistrate protects, not souls, but bodies and temporal possessions. He defends them against all attacks from without, and, by making use of the sword and of punishment, compels men to observe civil justice and peace.[577]

"For this reason we must take particular care not to mingle the power of the Church with the power of the State.[578] The power of the Church ought never to invade an office that is foreign to it; for Christ himself said: My kingdom is not of this world. And again: Who made me a judge over you? St. Paul said to the Philippians: Our citizenship is in heaven.[579] And to the Corinthians: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God.

"It is thus that we distinguish the two governments and the two powers, and that we honour both as the most excellent gifts that God has given here on earth.


"The duty of the bishops is therefore to preach the Gospel,[192] to forgive sins, to exclude from the Christian Church all who rebel against the Lord, but without human power, and solely by the Word of God.[580] If the bishops act thus, the churches ought to be obedient to them according to this declaration of Christ: Whoever heareth you, heareth me.

"But if the bishops teach anything that is contrary to the Gospel, then the churches have an order from God which forbids them to obey (Matt. vii. 15; Galatians i. 8; 2 Cor. xiii. 8, 10). And St. Augustin himself, in his letter against Pertilian, writes: 'We must not obey the catholic bishops, if they go astray, and teach anything contrary to the canonical Scriptures of God.'"[581]

After some remarks on the ordinances and traditions of the Church, Bayer came to the epilogue of the Confession.

"It is not from hatred that we have spoken," added he, "nor to insult any one; but we have explained the doctrines that we maintain to be essential, in order that it may be understood that we admit of neither dogma nor ceremony which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures, and to the usage of the universal Church."

Bayer then ceased to read. He had spoken for two hours: the silence and serious attention of the assembly were not once disturbed.[582]

This Confession of Augsburg will ever remain one of the masterpieces of the human mind enlightened by the Spirit of God.


The language that had been adopted, while it was perfectly natural, was the result of a profound study of character. These princes, these warriors, these politicians who were sitting in the Palatine Palace, entirely ignorant as they were of divinity, easily understood the Protestant doctrine; for it was[193] not explained to them in the style of the schools, but in that of everyday life, and with a simplicity and clearness that rendered all misunderstanding impossible.

At the same time the power of argumentation was so much the more remarkable, as it was the more concealed. At one time Melancthon (for it was really he who spoke through the mouth of Bayer) was content to quote a single passage of Scripture or of the Fathers in favour of the doctrine he maintained; and at another he proved his thesis so much the more strongly, that he appeared only to be declaring it. With a single stroke he pointed out the sad consequences that would follow the rejection of the faith he professed, or with one word showed its importance for the prosperity of the Church; so that while listening to him, the most violent enemies were obliged to acknowledge to themselves that there was really something to say in favour of the new sect.

To this force of reasoning the Apology added a prudence no less remarkable. Melancthon, while declining with firmness the errors attributed to his party, did not even appear to feel the injustice of these erroneous imputations; and while pointing out those of Popery, he did not say expressly they were those of his adversaries; thus carefully avoiding every thing that might irritate their minds. In this he showed himself wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.

But the most admirable thing of all is the fidelity with which the Confession explains the doctrines most essential to salvation. Rome is accustomed to represent the Reformers as the creators of the Protestant doctrines; but it is not in the sixteenth century that we must look for the days of that creation. A bright track of light, of which Wickliffe and Augustin mark the most salient points, carries us back to the Apostolic age: it was then that shone in all their brilliancy the creative days of Evangelical truth. Yet it is true (and if this is what Rome means, we fully concur in the idea) never since the time of St. Paul had the Christian doctrine appeared with so much beauty, depth, and life, as in the days of the Reformation.


[194]Among all these doctrines, that of the Church, which had been so long disfigured, appeared at this time in all its native purity. With what wisdom, in particular, the confessors of Augsburg protest against that confusion of religion and politics which since the deplorable epoch of Constantine, had changed the kingdom of God into an earthly and carnal institution! Undoubtedly what the Confession stigmatizes with the greatest energy is the intrusion of the Church into the affairs of the State, but can it be thought that it was to approve the intrusion of the State in Church affairs? The evil of the Middle Ages was the having enslaved the State to the Church, and the confessors of Augsburg rose like one man to combat it. The evil of the three centuries which have passed away since then, is to have subjected the Church to the State; and we may believe that Luther and Melancthon would have found against this disorder thunders no less powerful. What they attack in a general sense, is the confusion of the two societies; what they demand, is their independence, I do not say their separation. If the Augsburg confessors were unwilling that things from above should monopolize those of the earth, they would have been still less willing for things of earth to oppress those from heaven.

There is a particular application of this principle, which the Confession points out. It wills the bishops should reprimand those who obey wickedness, "but without human power, and solely by the Word of God." It therefore rejects the use of the sword in the chastisement of heretics. This we see is a primitive principle, fundamental and essential to the Reformation, as the contrary doctrine is a primitive principle, fundamental and essential to the Papacy. If among Protestants we find some writing, or even some example opposed to this, it is but an isolated fact, which cannot invalidate the official principles of the Reform—it is one of those exceptions which always serve to confirm the rule.


Finally, the Augsburg Confession does not usurp the rights of the Word of God; it desires to be its handmaid and not its rival; it does not found, it does not regulate the faith, but[195] simply professes it. "Our churches teach," it says; and it will be remembered that Luther considered it only as a sermon preached by princes and kings. Had it desired more, as has since been maintained, by that very circumstance it would have been nullified.

Was, however, the Confession able to follow in all things the exact path of truth? We may be permitted to doubt it.

It professes not to separate from the teaching of the Catholic Church, and even from that of the Romish Church—by which is no doubt signified the ancient Roman Church—and rejects the popish particularism which, for about eight centuries, imprisoned men's consciences. The Confession, however, seems overlaid with superstitious fears when there is any question of deviating from the views entertained by some of the Fathers of the Church, of breaking the toils of the hierarchy, and of acting, as regards Rome, without blameable forbearance. This, at least, is what its author, Melancthon, professes. "We do not put forward any dogma," said he, "which is not founded on the Gospel or on the teaching of the Catholic Church; we are prepared to concede everything that is necessary for the episcopal dignity;[583] and, provided that the bishops do not condemn the Gospel, we preserve all the rites that appear indifferent to us. In a word, there is no burden that we reject, if we can bear it without guilt."[584]

Many will think, no doubt, that a little more independence would have been proper in this matter, and that it would have been better to have passed over the ages that have followed the times of the apostles, and have frankly put in practice the grand principle which the Reformation had proclaimed: "There is for articles of faith no other foundation than the Word of God."[585]


Melancthon's moderation has been admired; and, in truth, while pointing out the abuses of Rome, he was silent on what is most revolting in them, on their disgraceful origin,[196] their scandalous consequences, and is content to show that they are in contradiction to the Scripture. But he does more; he is silent on the divine right of the Pope, on the number of the sacraments, and on other points besides. His great business is to justify the renovated, and not to attack the deformed, Church. "Peace! peace!" was his cry. But if, instead of all this circumspection, the Reformation had advanced with courage, had wholly unveiled the Word of God, and had made an energetic appeal to the sympathies of reform then spread in men's hearts, would it not have taken a stronger and more honourable position, and would it not have secured more extensive conquests?

The interest that Charles the Fifth showed in listening to the Confession seems doubtful. According to some, he endeavoured to understand that foreign language;[586] according to others, he fell asleep.[587] It is easy to reconcile these contradictory testimonies.

When the reading was finished, Chancellor Brück, with the two copies in his hand, advanced towards the Emperor's secretary and presented them to him. Charles the Fifth, who was wide awake at this moment, himself took the two Confessions, handed the German copy, considered as official, to the elector of Mentz, and kept the Latin one for himself.[588] He then made reply to the Elector of Saxony and to his allies that he had graciously heard their confession;[589] but as this affair was one of extreme importance, he required time to deliberate upon it.


The joy with which the Protestants were filled shone in their eyes.[590] God had been with them; and they saw[197] that the striking act which had so recently been accomplished, imposed on them the obligation of confessing the truth with immovable perseverance. "I thrill with joy," wrote Luther, "that my life was cast in an epoch in which Christ is publicly exalted by such illustrious confessors and in so glorious an assembly."[591] The whole Evangelical Church, excited and renovated by this public confession of its representatives, was then more intimately united to its divine Chief, and baptized with a new baptism. "Since the apostolic age," said they (these are the words of a contemporary), "there has never been a greater work or a more magnificent confession."[592]

The Emperor, having descended from his throne, approached the Protestant princes, and begged them in a low tone not to publish the Confession;[593] they acceded to his request, and every one withdrew.


VIII. The Romanists had expected nothing like this. Instead of a hateful controversy, they had heard a striking confession of Jesus Christ; the most hostile minds were consequently disarmed. "We would not for a great deal," was the remark on every side, "have missed being present at this reading."[594] The effect was so prompt, that for an instant the cause was thought to be definitively gained. The bishops themselves imposed silence on the sophisms and clamours of the Fabers and the Ecks.[595] "All that the Lutherans have said is true," exclaimed the Bishop of Augsburg; "we cannot deny it."[596]—"Well, doctor," said the Duke of Bavaria to Eck, in a reproachful tone, "you had given me a very[198] different idea of this doctrine and of this affair."[597] This was the general cry; accordingly the sophists, as they called them, were embarrassed. "But, after all," said the Duke of Bavaria to them, "can you refute by sound reasons the Confession made by the Elector and his allies?"—"With the writings of the Apostles and Prophets—no!" replied Eck; "but with those of the Fathers and of the Councils—yes!"[598] "I understand," quickly replied the Duke; "I understand. The Lutherans, according to you, are in scripture; and we are outside."

The Archbishop Hermann, elector of Cologne, the Count-palatine Frederick, Duke Erick of Brunswick-Luneburg, Duke Henry of Mecklenburg, and the Dukes of Pomerania, were gained over to the truth; and Hermann sought erelong to establish it in his electorate.

The impression produced in other countries by the Confession was perhaps still greater. Charles sent copies to all the courts; it was translated into French, Italian,[599] and even into Spanish and Portuguese; it circulated through all Europe, and thus accomplished what Luther had said: "Our Confession will penetrate into every court, and the sound thereof will go through the whole earth."[600] It destroyed the prejudices that had been entertained, gave Europe a sounder idea of the Reformation, and prepared the most distant countries to receive the seeds of the Gospel.


Then Luther's voice began to be heard again. He saw that it was a decisive moment, and that he ought now to give the impulse that would gain religious liberty. He boldly demanded this liberty of the Roman-catholic princes of the diet;[601] and at the same time endeavoured to make his friends quit Augsburg. Jesus Christ had been boldly confessed. Instead[199] of that long series of quarrels and discussions which was about to become connected with this courageous act, Luther would have wished for a striking rupture, even should he seal with his blood the testimony rendered to the Gospel. The stake, in his idea, would have been the real catastrophe of this tragedy. "I absolve you from this diet, in the name of the Lord,"[602] wrote he to his friends. "Now home, return home, again I say home! Would to God that I were the sacrifice offered to this new council, as John Huss at Constance!"[603]

But Luther did not expect so glorious a conclusion: he compared the diet to a drama. First, there had been the exposition, then the prologue, afterwards the action, and now he waited for the tragic catastrophe, according to some, but which, in his opinion, would be merely comic.[604] Everything, he thought, would be sacrificed to political peace, and dogmas would be set aside. This proceeding, which, even in our own days, would be in the eyes of the world the height of wisdom, was in Luther's eyes the height of folly.


It was the intervention of Charles which especially alarmed him. To withdraw the Church from all secular influence, and the governments from all clerical influence, was then one of the dominant ideas of the great Reformer. "You see," wrote he to Melancthon, "that they oppose to our cause the same argument as at Worms, to wit, still and for ever the judgment of the Emperor. Thus Satan is always harping on the same string, and that emaciated strength[605] of the civil power is the only one which this myriad-wiled spirit is able to find against Jesus Christ." But Luther took courage,[200] and boldly raised his head. "Christ is coming," continued he; "he is coming, sitting at the right hand......Of whom? not of the Emperor, or we should long ago have been lost, but of God himself: let us fear nothing. Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. If he loses this title at Augsburg, he must also lose it in all the earth, and in all the heavens."

Thus a song of triumph was, on the part of the Confessors of Augsburg, the first movement that followed this courageous act, unique doubtless in the annals of the Church. Some of their adversaries at first shared in their triumph, and the others were silent; but a powerful reaction took place erelong.

On the following morning, Charles having risen in ill-humour and tired for want of sleep, the first of his ministers who appeared in the imperial apartments was the Count-palatine, as wearied and embarrassed as his master. "We must yield something," said he to Charles; "and I would remind your majesty that the Emperor Maximilian was willing to grant the two kinds in the Eucharist, the marriage of priests, and liberty with respect to the fasts." Charles the Fifth eagerly seized at this proposition as a means of safety. But Granvelle and Campeggio soon arrived, who induced him to withdraw it.


Rome, bewildered for a moment by the blow that had struck her, rose up again with energy. "I stay with the mother," exclaimed the Bishop of Wartzburg, meaning by it the Church of Rome; "the mother, the mother!" "My lord," wittily replied Brenz, "pray, do not, for the mother, forget either the Father or the Son!"—"Well! I grant it," replied the Archbishop of Salzburg to one of his friends, "I also should desire the communion in both kinds, the marriage of priests, the reformation of the Mass, liberty as regards food and other traditions......But that it should be a monk, a poor monk, who presumes to reform us all, is what we cannot tolerate."[606]—"I should have no objection," said another[201] bishop, "for the Divine worship to be celebrated everywhere as it is at Wittemberg; but we can never consent that this new doctrine should issue from such a corner."[607] And Melancthon insisting with the Archbishop of Salzburg on the necessity of a reform of the clergy: "Well! and how can you wish to reform us?" said the latter abruptly: "we priests have always been good for nothing." This is one of the most ingenuous confessions that the Reformation has torn from the priests. Every day fanatical monks and doctors, brimful of sophisms, were seen arriving at Augsburg, who endeavoured to inflame the hatred of the Emperor and of the princes.[608] "If we formerly had friends," said Melancthon on the morrow of the Confession, "now we possess them no longer. We are here alone, abandoned by all, and contending against measureless dangers."[609]


Charles, impelled by these contrary parties, affected a great indifference. But without permitting it to be seen, he endeavoured, meanwhile, to examine this affair thoroughly. "Let there not be a word wanting," he had said to his secretary, when requiring from him a French translation of the Confession. "He does not allow anything to be observed," whispered the Protestants one to another, convinced that Charles was gained; "for if it were known, he would lose his Spanish states: let us maintain the most profound secresy." But the Emperor's courtiers, who perceived these strange hopes, smiled and shook their heads. "If you have money," said Schepper, one of the secretaries of state, to Jonas and Melancthon, "it will be easy for you to buy from the Italians whatever religion you please;[610] but if your purse is empty, your cause is lost." Then assuming a more serious tone: "It is impossible," said he, "for the Emperor, surrounded[202] as he is by bishops and cardinals, to approve of any other religion than that of the Pope."

This was soon evident. On the day after the confession (Sunday, 26th June), before the breakfast hour,[611] all the deputations from the imperial cities were collected in the Emperor's antechamber. Charles, desirous of bringing back the states of the Empire to unity, began with the weakest. "Some of the cities," said the count palatine, "have not adhered to the last Diet of Spire: the Emperor calls upon them to submit to it."

Strasburg, Nuremberg, Constance, Ulm, Reutlingen, Heilbronn, Memmingen, Lindau, Kempten, Windsheim, Isny, and Weissemburg, which were thus summoned to renounce the famous protest, found the moment curiously chosen. They asked for time.

The position was complicated; discord had been thrown in the midst of the cities, and intrigue was labouring daily to increase it.[612] It was not only between the Popish and the Evangelical cities that disagreement existed; but also between the Zwinglian and the Lutheran cities, and even among the latter, those which had not adhered to the Confession of Augsburg manifested great ill-humour towards the deputies of Reutlingen and Nuremberg. This proceeding of Charles the Fifth was therefore skilfully calculated; for it was based on the old axiom, Divide et impera.

But the enthusiasm of faith overcame all these stratagems, and on the next day (27th June), the deputies from the cities transmitted a reply to the Emperor, in which they declared that they could not adhere to the Recess of Spire "without disobeying God, and without compromising the salvation of their souls."[613]


Charles, who desired to observe a just medium, more from[203] policy than from equity, wavered between so many contrary convictions. Desirous nevertheless of essaying his mediating influence, he convoked the states faithful to Rome on Sunday, 26th June, shortly after his conference with the cities.

All the princes were present: even the Pope's legate and the most influential Roman divines appeared at this council, to the great scandal of the Protestants. "What reply should be made to the Confession?" was the question set by Charles the Fifth to the senate that surrounded him.[614]

Three different opinions were proposed. "Let us beware," said the men of the Papacy, "of discussing our adversaries' reasons, and let us be content with executing the Edict of Worms against the Lutherans, and with constraining them by arms."[615]—"Let us submit the Confession to the examination of impartial judges," said the men of the Empire, "and refer the final decision to the Emperor. Is not even the reading of the Confession an appeal of the Protestants to the imperial power?" Others, in the last place (and these were the men of tradition and of ecclesiastical doctrine), were desirous of commissioning certain doctors to compose a refutation, which should be read to the Protestants and ratified by Charles.


The debate was very animated: the mild and the violent, the politic and the fanatical, took a decided course in the assembly. George of Saxony and Joachim of Brandenburg showed themselves the most inveterate, and surpassed in this respect even the ecclesiastical princes.[616] "A certain clown, whom you know well, is pushing them all from behind,"[617] wrote Melancthon to Luther; "and certain hypocritical theologians hold the torch and lead the whole band." This clown was doubtless Duke George. Even the Princes of Bavaria, whom the Confession had staggered at first, immediately[204] rallied around the chiefs of the Roman party. The Elector of Mentz, the Bishop of Augsburg, the Duke of Brunswick, showed themselves the least unfavourable to the Evangelical cause. "I can by no means advise his majesty to employ force," said Albert. "If his majesty should constrain their consciences, and should afterwards quit the Empire, the first victims sacrificed would be the priests; and who knows whether, in the midst of these discords, the Turks would not suddenly fall upon us?" But this somewhat interested wisdom of the archbishop did not find many supporters, and the men of war immediately plunged into the discussion with their harsh voices. "If there is any fighting against the Lutherans," said Count Felix of Werdenburg, "I gratuitously offer my sword, and I swear never to return it to its scabbard until it has overthrown the stronghold of Luther." This nobleman died suddenly a few days after, from the consequences of his intemperance. Then the moderate men again interfered: "The Lutherans attack no one article of the faith," said the Bishop of Augsburg; "let us come to an arrangement with them; and to obtain peace, let us concede to them the sacrament in both kinds and the marriage of priests. I would even yield more, if it were necessary." Upon this great cries arose: "He is a Lutheran," they exclaimed, "and you will see that he is fully prepared to sacrifice even the private masses!"—"The masses! we must not even think of it," remarked some with an ironical smile; "Rome will never give them up, for it is they which maintain her cardinals and her courtiers, with their luxury and their kitchens."[618] The Archbishop of Salzburg and the Elector of Brandenburg replied with great violence to the motion of the Bishop of Augsburg. "The Lutherans," said they abruptly, "have laid before us a Confession written with black ink on white paper. Well! If I were Emperor, I would answer them with red ink."[619]—"Sirs," quickly replied[205] the Bishop of Augsburg, "take care then that the red letters do not fly in your faces!" The Elector of Mentz was compelled to interfere and calm the speakers.


The Emperor, desirous of playing the character of an umpire, would have wished the Roman party at least to have placed in his hands an accusation against the Reform: but all was now altered; the majority, becoming daily more compact since the Diet of Spire, no longer sided with Charles. Full of the sentiment of its own strength, it refused to assume the title of a party, and to take the Emperor as a judge. "What are you saying," cried they, "of diversity between the members of the Empire? There is but one legitimate party. It is not a question of deciding between two opinions whose rights are equal, but of crushing rebels, and of aiding those who have remained faithful to the constitution of the Empire."

This haughty language enlightened Charles: he found they had outstripped him, and that, abandoning his lofty position of arbiter, he must submit merely to be the executer of the orders of the majority. It was this majority which henceforward commanded in Augsburg. They excluded the imperial councillors who advocated more equitable views, and the Archbishop of Mentz himself ceased for a time to appear in the diet.[620]

The majority ordered that a refutation of the Evangelical doctrine should be immediately drawn up by Romish theologians. If they had selected for this purpose moderate men like the Bishop of Augsburg, the Reformation would still have had some chance of success with the great principles of Christianity; but it was to the enemies of the Reform, to the old champions of Rome and of Aristotle, exasperated by so many defeats, that they resolved to intrust this task.


They were numerous at Augsburg, and were not held in great esteem. "The princes," said Jonas, "have brought their learned men with them, and some even their unlearned[206] and their fools."[621] Provost Faber and Doctor Eck led the troop; behind them was drawn up a cohort of monks, and above all of Dominicans, tools of the Inquisition, and impatient to recompense themselves for the opprobrium they had so long endured. There was the provincial of the Dominicans, Paul Hugo, their vicar, John Bourkard, one of their priors, Conrad Koelein, who had written against Luther's marriage; with a large body of Carthusians, Augustines, Franciscans, and vicars of several bishops. Such were the men who, to the number of twenty, were commissioned to refute Melancthon.

One might beforehand have augured of the work by the workmen. Each one understood that it was a question, not of refuting the Confession, but of branding it. Campeggio, who doubtless suggested this ill-omened list to Charles, was well aware that these doctors were incapable of measuring themselves with Melancthon; but their names formed the most decided standard of Popery, and announced to the world clearly and immediately what the diet proposed to do. This was the essential point. Rome would not leave Christendom even hope.

It was, however, requisite to know whether the diet, and the Emperor who was its organ, had the right of pronouncing in this purely religious matter. Charles put the question both to the Evangelicals and to the Romanists.[622]

"Your highness," said Luther, who was consulted by the Elector, "may reply with all assurance: Yes, if the Emperor wish it, let him be judge! I will bear everything on his part; but let him decide nothing contrary to the Word of God. Your highness cannot put the Emperor above God himself.[623] Does not the first commandment say, Thou shalt have no other Gods before me!"


The reply of the Papal adherents was quite as positive in[207] a contrary sense. "We think," said they, "that his majesty, in accord with the electors, princes, and states of the Empire, has the right to proceed in this affair, as Roman Emperor, guardian, advocate, and sovereign protector of the Church and of our most holy faith."[624] Thus, in the first days of the Reformation, the Evangelical Church frankly ranged itself under the throne of Jesus Christ, and the Roman Church under the sceptre of kings. Enlightened men, even among Protestants, have misunderstood this double nature of Protestantism and Popery.

The philosophy of Aristotle and the hierarchy of Rome, thanks to this alliance with the civil power, were at length about to see the day of their long-expected triumph arrive. So long as the schoolmen had been left to the force of their syllogisms and of their abuse, they had been defeated; but now Charles the Fifth and the diet held out their hands to them; the reasonings of Faber, Eck, and Wimpina were about to be countersigned by the German chancellor, and confirmed by the great seals of the Empire. Who could resist them? The Romish error has never had any strength except by its union with the secular arm; and its victories in the Old and in the New World are owing, even in our days, to state patronage.[625]


These things did not escape the piercing eye of Luther. He saw at once the weakness of the argument of the Papist doctors and the power of Charles's arm. "You are waiting for your adversaries' answer," wrote he to his friends in Augsburg; "it is already written, and here it is: The Fathers, the Fathers, the Fathers; the Church, the Church, the Church; usage, custom; but of the Scriptures——nothing!"[626]—"Then the Emperor, supported by the testimony[208] of these arbiters, will pronounce against you;[627] and then will you hear boastings from all sides that wilt ascend up to heaven, and threats that will descend even to hell."

Thus changed the situation of the Reform. Charles was obliged to acknowledge his weakness; and, to save the appearance of his power, he took a decisive part with the enemies of Luther. The Emperor's impartiality disappeared: the state turned against the Gospel, and there remained for it no other saviour than God.

At first many gave way to extreme dejection: above all, Melancthon, who had a nearer view of the cabals of the adversaries, exhausted moreover by long vigils, fell almost into despair.[628] "In the presence of these formidable evils," cried he, "I see no more hope."[629] And then, however, he added—"Except the help of God."

The legate immediately set all his batteries to work. Already had Charles several times sent for the Elector and the Landgrave, and had used every exertion to detach them from the Evangelical Confession.[630] Melancthon, uneasy at these secret conferences, reduced the Confession to its minimum, and entreated the Elector to demand only the two kinds in the Eucharist and the marriage of priests. "To interdict the former of these points," said he, "would be to alienate a great number of Christians from the communion; and to interdict the second would be depriving the Church of all the pastors capable of edifying it. Will they destroy religion and kindle civil war, rather than apply to these purely ecclesiastical constitutions a mitigation that is neither contrary to sound morals nor to faith?"[631] The Protestant princes begged Melancthon to go himself and make these proposals to the legate.[632]



Melancthon agreed: he began to flatter himself with success; and, in truth, there were, even among the Papists, individuals who were favourable to the Reformation. There had recently arrived at Augsburg, from beyond the Alps, certain propositions tolerably Lutheran;[633] and one of the Emperor's confessors boldly professed the doctrine of justification by faith, cursing "those asses of Germans, who cease not," said he, "from braying against this truth."[634] One of Charles's chaplains approved even the whole of the Confession. There was something farther still; Charles the Fifth having consulted the grandees of Spain, who were famous for their orthodoxy: "If the opinions of the Protestants are contrary to the articles of the faith," they had replied, "let your majesty employ all his power to destroy this faction; but if it is a question merely of certain changes in human ordinances and external usages, let all violence be avoided."[635] "Admirable reply!" exclaimed Melancthon, who persuaded himself that the Romish doctrine was at the bottom in accordance with the Gospel.

The Reformation found defenders in even still higher stations. Mary, sister of Charles the Fifth, and widow of King Louis of Hungary, arriving at Augsburg three days after the reading of the Confession, with her sister-in-law the Queen of Bohemia, Ferdinand's wife, assiduously studied the Holy Scriptures; she carried them with her in the hunting parties, in which she found little pleasure, and had discovered therein the jewel of the Reform,—the doctrine of gratuitous salvation. This pious princess made her chaplain read evangelical sermons to her, and often endeavoured, although with prudence, to appease her brother Charles with regard to the Protestants.[636]


Melancthon, encouraged by these demonstrations, and at[210] the same time alarmed by the threats of war that the adversaries did not cease from uttering, thought it his duty to purchase peace at any cost, and resolved in consequence to descend in his propositions as low as possible. He therefore demanded an interview with the legate in a letter whose authenticity has been unreasonably doubted.[637] At the decisive moment the heart of the Reform champion fails—his head turns—he staggers—he falls; and in his fall he runs the risk of dragging with him the cause which martyrs have already watered with their blood.

Thus speaks the representative of the Reformation to the representative of the Papacy:—

"There is no doctrine in which we differ from the Roman Church;[638] we venerate the universal authority of the Roman Pontiff, and we are ready to obey him, provided he does not reject us, and that of his clemency, which he is accustomed to show towards all nations, he will kindly pardon or approve certain little things that it is no longer possible for us to change......Now then, will you reject those who appear as suppliants before you? Will you pursue them with fire and sword?......Alas! nothing draws upon us in Germany so much hatred, as the unshaken firmness with which we maintain the doctrines of the Roman Church.[639] But with the aid of God, we will remain faithful, even unto death, to Christ and to the Roman Church, although you should reject us."[640]


Thus did Melancthon humble himself. God permitted this fall, that future ages might clearly see how low the Reform was willing to descend in order to maintain unity, and that no one might doubt that the schism had come from Rome; but also assuredly that they might learn how great[211] in every important work is the weakness of the noblest instruments.

Fortunately there was then another man who upheld the honour of the Reformation. At this very time Luther wrote to Melancthon: "There can be no concord between Christ and Belial. As far as regards me, I will not yield a hair's breadth.[641] Sooner than yield, I should prefer suffering everything, even the most terrible evils. Concede so much the less, as your adversaries require the more. God will not aid us until we are abandoned by all."[642] And fearing some weakness on the part of his friends, Luther added: "If it were not tempting God, you would long ago have seen me at your side!"[643]

Never, in fact, had Luther's presence been so necessary, for the legate had consented to an interview, and Melancthon was about to pay court to Campeggio.[644]

The 8th July was the day appointed by the legate. His letter inspired Philip with the most sanguine hopes. "The cardinal assures me that he will accede the usage of the two kinds, and the marriage of priests," said he; "I am eager to visit him!"[645]


This visit might decide the destiny of the Church. If the legate accepted Philip's ultimatum, the Evangelical countries would be replaced under the power of the Romish bishops, and all would have been over with the Reformation; but it was saved through the pride and blindness of Rome. The Papists, believing it on the brink of the abyss, thought that a last blow would settle it, and resolved, like Luther, to concede nothing, "not even a hair's breadth." The legate, however, even while refusing, assumed an air of kindness,[212] and of yielding to foreign influence. "I might have the power of making certain concessions, but it would not be prudent to use it without the consent of the German princes;[646] their will must be done; one of them in particular conjures the Emperor to prevent us from yielding the least thing. I can grant nothing." The Roman prince, with the most amiable smile, then did all he could to gain the chief of the Protestant teachers. Melancthon retired filled with shame at the advances he had made, but still deceived by Campeggio. "No doubt," said he, "Eck and Cochlœus have been beforehand with me at the legate's."[647] Luther entertained a different opinion. "I do not trust to any of these Italians," said he; "they are scoundrels. When an Italian is good, he is very good; but then he is a black swan."

It was truly the Italians who were concerned. Shortly after the 12th of July arrived the Pope's instructions. He had received the confession by express[648] and sixteen days had sufficed for the transmission, the deliberation, and the return. Clement would hear no mention either of discussions or of council. Charles was to march straight to the mark, to send an army into Germany, and stifle the Reformation by force. At Augsburg, however, it was thought best not to go so quickly to work, and recourse was had to other means.


"Be quiet; we have them," said the Romish doctors. Sensible of the reproach that had been made against them, of having misrepresented the Reformation, they accused the Protestants themselves as being the cause. "These it is," they said, "who, to give themselves an air of being in accord with us, now dissemble their heresy; but we will now catch them in their own nets. If they confess to not having inserted in their Confession all that they reject, it will be proved that they are trifling with us. If, on the contrary, they pretend[213] to have said everything, they will by that very circumstance be compelled to admit all that they have not condemned." The Protestant princes were therefore called together, and they were asked if the Reformation was confined to the doctrines indicated in the Apology, or if there was something more.[649]

The snare was skilfully laid. The Papacy had not even been mentioned in Melancthon's paper; other errors besides had been omitted, and Luther himself complained of it aloud. "Satan sees clearly," said he, "that your Apology has passed lightly over the articles of purgatory, the worship of saints, and, above all, of the Pope and of Antichrist." The princes requested to confer with their allies of the towns; and all the Protestants assembled to deliberate on this momentous incident.

They, looked for Melancthon's explanation, who did not decline the responsibility of the affair. Easily dejected through his own anxiety, he became bold whenever he was directly attacked. "All the essential doctrines," said he, "have been set forth in the Confession, and every error and abuse that is opposed to them has been pointed out. But was it necessary to plunge into all those questions so full of contention and animosity, that are discussed in our universities? Was it necessary to ask if all Christians are priests, if the primacy of the Pope is of right divine, if there can be indulgences, if every good work is a deadly sin, if there are more than seven sacraments, if they may be administered by a layman, if divine election has any foundation in our own merits, if sacerdotal consecration impresses an indelible character, if auricular confession is necessary to salvation?......No, no! all these things are in the province of the schools, and by no means essential to faith."[650]


It cannot be denied that in the questions thus pointed out by Melancthon there were important points. However that may be, the Evangelical committee were soon agreed, and[214] on the morrow they gave an answer to Charles's ministers, drawn up with as much frankness as firmness, in which they said "that the Protestants, desirous of arriving at a cordial understanding, had not wished to complicate their situation, and had proposed not to specify all the errors that had been introduced into the Church, but to confess all the doctrines that were essential to salvation; that if, nevertheless, the adverse party felt itself urged to maintain certain abuses, or to put forward any point not mentioned in the Confession, the Protestants declared themselves ready to reply in conformity with the Word of God."[651] The tone of this answer showed pretty clearly that the Evangelical Christians did not fear to follow their adversaries wherever the latter should call them. Accordingly the Roman party said no more on this business.

IX. The commission charged to refute the Confession met twice a day,[652] and each of the theologians who composed it added to it his refutation and his hatred.

On the 13th July the work was finished. "Eck with his band,"[653] said Melancthon, "transmitted it to the Emperor." Great was the astonishment of this prince and of his ministers at seeing a work of two hundred and eighty pages filled with abuse.[654] "Bad workmen lose much wood," said Luther, "and impious writers soil much paper." This was not all: to the Refutation were subjoined eight appendices on the heresies that Melancthon had dissembled (as they said), and wherein they exposed the contradictions and "the horrible sects" to which Lutheranism had given birth. Lastly, not confining themselves to this official answer, the Romish theologians, who saw the sun of power shining upon them, filled Augsburg with insolent and abusive pamphlets.



There was but one opinion on the Papist Refutation; it was found confused, violent, thirsting for blood.[655] Charles the Fifth had too much good taste not to perceive the difference that existed between this coarse work and the noble dignity of Melancthon's Confession. He rolled, handled, crushed, and so damaged the 280 pages of his doctors, that when he returned them two days after, says Spalatin, there were not more than twelve entire. Charles would have been ashamed to have such a pamphlet read in the diet, and he required, in consequence, that it should be drawn up anew, shorter and more moderate.[656] That was not easy, "for the adversaries, confused and stupified," says Brenz, "by the noble simplicity of the Evangelical Confession, neither knew where to begin nor where to end; they accordingly took nearly three weeks to do their work over again."[657]

Charles and his ministers had great doubts of its success; leaving, therefore, the theologians for a moment, they imagined another manœuvre. "Let us take each of the Protestant princes separately," said they: "isolated, they will not resist." Accordingly, on the 15th July, the Margrave of Brandenburg was visited by his two cousins, the Electors of Mentz and of Brandenburg, and by his two brothers the Margraves Frederick and John Albert. "Abandon this, new faith," said they to him, "and return to that which existed a century ago. If you do so, there are no favours that you may not expect from the Emperor; if not, dread his anger."[658]


Shortly after, the Duke Frederick of Bavaria, the Count of Nassau, De Rogendorf, and Truchses were announced to the Elector on the part of Charles. "You have solicited the Emperor," said they, "to confirm the marriage of your son[216] with the Princess of Juliers, and to invest you with the electoral dignity; but his majesty declares, that if you do not renounce the heresy of Luther, of which you are the principal abettor, he cannot accede to your demand." At the same time the Duke of Bavaria, employing the most urgent solicitations, accompanied with the most animated gestures[659] and the most sinister threats,[660] called upon the Elector to abandon his faith. "It is asserted," added Charles's envoys, "that you have made an alliance with the Swiss. The Emperor cannot believe it; and he orders you to let him know the truth."

The Swiss! it was the same thing as rebellion. This alliance was the phantom incessantly invoked at Augsburg to alarm Charles the Fifth. And in reality deputies or at least friends of the Swiss, had already appeared in that city, and thus rendered the position still more serious.


Bucer had arrived two days before the reading of the Confession, and Capito on the day subsequent to it.[661] There was even a report that Zwingle would join them.[662] But for a long time all in Augsburg, except the Strasburg deputation, were ignorant of the presence of these doctors.[663] It was only twenty-one days after their arrival that Melancthon learnt it positively,[664] so great was the mystery in which the Zwinglians were forced to enshroud themselves. This was not without reason: a conference with Melancthon having been requested by them: "Let them write," replied he; "I should compromise our cause by an interview with them."

Bucer and Capito in their retreat, which was like a prison to them, had taken advantage of their leisure to draw up the[217] Tetrapolitan Confession, or the confessions of the four cities. The deputies of Strasburg, Constance, Nemmingen, and Lindau, presented it to the Emperor.[665] These cities purged themselves from the reproach of war and revolt that had been continually objected against them. They declared that their only motive was Christ's glory, and professed the truth "freely, boldly, but without insolence and without scurrility."[666]

Zwingle about the same time caused a private confession to be communicated to Charles,[667] which excited a general uproar. "Does he not dare to say," exclaimed the Romanists, "that the mitred and withered race (by which he means the bishops) is in the Church what hump-backs and the scrofula are in the body?"[668]—"Does he not insinuate," said the Lutherans; "that we are beginning to look back after the onions and garlic of Egypt?"—"One might say with great truth that he had lost his senses," exclaimed Melancthon.[669] "All ceremonies, according to him, ought to be abolished; all the bishops ought to be suppressed. In a word, all is perfectly Helvetic, that is to say, supremely barbarous."

One man formed an exception to this concert of reproaches, and this was Luther. "Zwingle pleases me tolerably," wrote he to Jonas, "as well as Bucer."[670] By Bucer, he meant no doubt the Tetrapolitan Confession: this expression should be noted.


Thus three confessions laid at the feet of Charles the Fifth, attested the divisions that were rending Protestantism. In[218] vain did Bucer and Capito endeavour to come to an understanding with Melancthon, and write to him: "We will meet where you will, and when you will; we will bring Sturm alone with us, and if you desire it, we will not even bring him."[671] All was unavailing. It is not enough for a Christian to confess Christ; one disciple should confess another disciple, even if the latter lies under the shame of the world; but they did not then comprehend this duty. "Schism is in the schism," said the Romanists, and the Emperor flattered himself with an easy victory. "Return to the Church," was the cry from every side, "which means," interrupted the Strasburgers, "let us put the bit in your mouths, that we may lead you as we please."[672]

All these things deeply afflicted the Elector, who was besides still under the burden of Charles's demands and threats. The Emperor had not once spoken to him,[673] and it was everywhere said that his cousin George of Saxony would be proclaimed Elector in his stead.

On the 28th July, there was a great festival at the court. Charles, robed in his imperial garments, whose value was said to exceed 200,000 gold ducats, and displaying an air of majesty which impressed respect and fear,[674] conferred on many princes the investiture of their dignities; the Elector alone was excluded from these favours. Erelong he was made to understand more plainly what was reserved for him, and it was insinuated, that if he did not submit, the Emperor would expel him from his states, and inflict upon him the severest punishment.[675]


The Elector turned pale, for he doubted not that such would certainly be the termination. How with his small[219] territory could he resist that powerful monarch who had just vanquished France and Italy, and now saw Germany at his feet? And besides, if he could do it, had he the right? Frightful nightmares pursued John in his dreams. He beheld himself stretched beneath an immense mountain under which he struggled painfully, while his cousin George of Saxony stood on the summit and seemed to brave him.

John at length came forth from this furnace. "I must either renounce God or the world," said he. "Well! my choice is not doubtful. It is God who made me Elector,—me, who was not worthy of it. I fling myself into his arms, and let him do with me what shall seem good to him." Thus the Elector by faith stopped the mouths of lions and subdued kingdoms.[676]

All evangelical Christendom had taken part in the struggle of John the Persevering. It was seen that if he should now fall, all would fall with him; and they endeavoured to support him. "Fear not," cried the Christians of Magdeburg, "for your highness is under Christ's banner."[677] "Italy is in expectation," wrote they from Venice; "if for Christ's glory you must die, fear nothing."[678] But it was from a higher source that John's courage was derived. "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven," said his Master.[679] The Elector, in like manner, beheld in his dreams George fall from the top of the mountain, and lie dashed in pieces at his feet.


Once resolved to lose everything, John, free, happy, and tranquil, assembled his theologians. These generous men desired to save their master. "Gracious lord," said Spalatin, "recollect that the Word of God, being the sword of the Spirit, must be upheld, not by the secular power, but by the[220] hand of the Almighty."[680]—"Yes!" said all the doctors, "we do not wish that, to save us, you should risk your children, your subjects, your states, your crown......We will rather give ourselves into the hands of the enemy, and conjure him to be satisfied with our blood."[681] John, touched by this language, refused, however, their solicitations, and firmly repeated these words, which had become his device: "I also desire to confess my Saviour."

It was on the 20th July that he replied to the pressing arguments by which Charles had endeavoured to shake him. He proved to the Emperor that, being his brother's legitimate heir, he could not refuse him the investiture, which, besides, the Diet of Worms had secured to him. He added, that he did not blindly believe what his doctors said, but that, having recognised the Word of God to be the foundation of their teaching, he confessed anew, and without any hesitation, all the articles of the Apology. "I therefore entreat your majesty," continued he, "to permit me and mine to render an account to God alone of what concerns the salvation of our souls."[682] The Margrave of Brandenburg made the same reply. Thus failed this skilful manœuvre, by which the Romanists had hoped to break the strength of the Reformation.


Six weeks had elapsed since the Confession, and yet no reply. "The Papists, from the moment they heard the Apology," it was said, "suddenly lost their voice."[683] At length the Romish theologians handed their revised and corrected performance to the Emperor, and persuaded this prince to present it in his own name. The mantle of the state seemed to them admirably adapted to the movements of Rome. "These sycophants," said Melancthon, "have desired[221] to clothe themselves with the lion's skin, to appear to us so much the more terrible."[684] All the states of the Empire were convoked for the next day but one.

On Wednesday, 3d August, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the Emperor, sitting on his throne in the chapel of the Palatinate Palace, surrounded by his brother, and the electors, princes, and deputies, the Elector of Saxony and his allies were introduced, and the Count-palatine, who was called "Charles's mouthpiece," said to them: "His majesty having handed your Confession to several doctors of different nations, illustrious by their knowledge, their morals, and their impartiality, has read their reply with the greatest care, and submits it to you as his own, ordaining that all the members and subjects of the Holy Empire should accept it with unanimous accord."[685]

Alexander Schweiss then took the papers and read the refutation. The Roman party approved some articles of the Confession, condemned others, and in certain less salient passages, it distinguished between what must be rejected and what accepted.

It gave way on an important point; the opus operatum. The Protestants having said in their 13th Article that faith was necessary in the Sacrament, the Romish party assented to it; thus abandoning an error which the Papacy had so earnestly defended against Luther in that very city of Augsburg, by the mouth of Cajetan.

Moreover, they recognised as truly Christian the Evangelical doctrine on the Trinity, on Christ, on baptism, on eternal punishment, and on the origin of evil.

But on all the other points, Charles, his princes, and his theologians, declared themselves immovable. They maintained that men are born with the fear of God, that good[222] works are meritorious, and that they justify in union with faith. They upheld the Seven Sacraments, the Mass, transubstantiation, the withdrawal of the cup, the celibacy of priests, the invocation of saints, and they denied that the Church was an assembly of the saints.

This Refutation was skilful in some respects, and, above all, in what concerned the doctrine of works and of faith. But on other points, in particular on the withdrawal of the cup and the celibacy of priests, its arguments were lamentably weak, and contrary to the well known facts of history.

While the Protestants had taken their stand on the Scriptures, their adversaries supported the divine origin of the hierarchy, and laid down absolute submission to its laws. Thus, the essential character, which still distinguishes Rome from the Reformation, stood prominently forth in this first combat.

Among the auditors who filled the chapel of the Palatinate Palace, concealed in the midst of the deputies of Nuremberg, was Joachim Camerarius, who, while Schweiss was reading, leant over his tablets and carefully noted down all he could collect. At the same time others of the Protestants, speaking to one another, were indignant, and even laughed, as one of their opponents assures us.[686] "Really," said they with one consent, "the whole of this Refutation is worthy of Eck, Faber, and Cochlœus!"

As for Charles, little pleased with these theological dissertations, he slept during the reading;[687] but he awoke when Schweiss had finished, and his awakening was that of a lion.


The Count-palatine then declared that his majesty found the articles of this Refutation orthodox, catholic, and conformable to the Gospel; that he therefore required the Protestants to abandon their Confession, now refuted, and to adhere to all the articles that had just been set forth;[688] that, if they[223] refused, the Emperor would remember his office, and would know how to show himself the advocate and defender of the Roman Church.

This language was clear enough: the adversaries imagined they had refuted the Protestants by commanding the latter to consider themselves beaten. Violence—arms—war—were all contained in these cruel words of Charles's minister.[689] The princes represented that, as the Refutation adopted some of their articles and rejected others, it required a careful examination, and they consequently begged a copy should be given them.

The Romish party had a long conference on this demand: night was at hand; the Count-palatine replied that, considering the late hour and the importance of this affair, the Emperor would make known his pleasure somewhat later. The diet separated, and Charles the Fifth, exasperated at the audacity of the Evangelical princes, says Cochlœus, returned in ill-humour to his apartments.[690]

The Protestants, on the contrary, withdrew full of peace; the reading of the Refutation having given them as much confidence as that of the Confession itself.[691] They saw in their adversaries a strong attachment to the hierarchy, but a great ignorance of the Gospel—a characteristic feature of the Romish party; and this thought encouraged them. "Certainly," said they, "the Church cannot be where there is no knowledge of Christ."[692]


Melancthon alone was still alarmed; he walked by sight and not by faith, and, remembering the legate's smiles, he had another interview with him, as early as the 4th August, still demanding the cup for the laity, and lawful wives for the priests. "Then," said he, "our pastors will place themselves again under the government of bishops, and we shall[224] be able to prevent those innumerable sects with which posterity is threatened."[693] Melancthon's glance into the future is remarkable: it does not, however, mean that he, like many others, preferred a dead unity to a living diversity.

Campeggio, now certain of triumphing by the sword, disdainfully handed this paper to Cochlœus, who hastened to refute it. It is hard to say whether Melancthon or Campeggio was the most infatuated. God did not permit an arrangement that would have enslaved his Church.

Charles passed the whole of the 4th and the morning of the 5th August in consultation with the Ultramontane party. "It will never be by discussion that we shall come to an understanding," said some; "and if the Protestants do not submit voluntarily, it only remains for us to compel them." They nevertheless decided, on account of the Refutation, to adopt a middle course. During the whole of the diet, Charles pursued a skilful policy. At first he refused everything, hoping to lead away the princes by violence; then he conceded a few unimportant points, under the impression that the Protestants having lost all hope, would esteem so much the more the little he yielded to them. This was what he did again under the present circumstances. In the afternoon of the 5th, the Count-palatine announced that the Emperor would give them a copy of the Refutation, but on these conditions; namely, that the Protestants should not reply, that they should speedily agree with the Emperor, and that they would not print or communicate to any one the Refutation that should be confided to them.[694]

This communication excited murmurs among the Protestants. "These conditions," said they all, "are inadmissible."—"The Papists present us with their paper," added the Chancellor Brück, "as the fox offered a thin broth to his gossip the stork."

[225] The savoury broth upon a plate by Reynard was served up,
But Mistress Stork, with her long beak, she could not get a sup.[695]

"If the Refutation," continued he, "should come to be known without our participation (and how can we prevent it?), we shall be charged with it as a crime. Let us beware of accepting so perfidious an offer.[696] We already possess in the notes of Camerarius several articles of this paper, and if we omit any point, no one will have the right to reproach us with it."

On the next day (6th August) the Protestants declared to the diet that they preferred declining the copy thus offered to them, and appealed to God and to his Majesty.[697] They thus rejected all that the Emperor proposed to them, even what he considered as a favour.

Agitation, anger, and affright, were manifested on every branch of that august assembly.[698] This reply of the Evangelicals was war—was rebellion. George of Saxony, the Princes of Bavaria, all the violent adherents of Rome, trembled with indignation; there was a sudden, an impetuous movement, an explosion of murmurs and of hatred; and it might have been feared that the two parties would have come to blows in the very presence of the Emperor, if Archbishop Albert, the Elector of Brandenburg, and the Dukes of Brunswick, Pomerania, and Mecklenburg, rushing between them, had not conjured the Protestants to put an end to this deplorable combat, and not drive the Emperor to extremities.[699] The diet separated, their hearts filled with emotion, apprehension, and trouble.


Never had the diet proposed such fatal alternatives. The[226] hopes of agreement, set forth in the edict of convocation, had only been a deceitful lure: now the mask was thrown aside; submission or the sword—such was the dilemma offered to the Reformation. All announced that the day of tentatives was passed, and that they were beginning one of violence.

In truth, on the 6th July, the Pope had assembled the consistory of cardinals in his palace at Rome, and had made known to them the Protestant ultimatum; namely, the cup for the laity, the marriage of priests, the omission of the invocation of saints in the sacrifice of the Mass, the use of ecclesiastical property already secularized, and for the rest, the convocation of a council. "These concessions," said the cardinals, "are opposed to the religion, the discipline, and the laws of the Church.[700] We reject them, and vote our thanks to the Emperor for the zeal which he employs in bringing back the deserters." The Pope having thus decided, every attempt at conciliation became useless.

Campeggio, on his side, redoubled in zeal. He spoke as if in his person the Pope himself were present at Augsburg.[701] "Let the Emperor and the right-thinking princes form a league," said he to Charles; "and if these rebels, equally insensible to threats and promises, obstinately persist in their diabolical course, then let his Majesty seize fire and sword, let him take possession of all the property of the heretics, and utterly eradicate these venomous plants.[702] Then let him appoint holy inquisitors, who shall go on the track of the remnants of Reform, and proceed against them, as in Spain against the Moors. Let him put the university of Wittemberg under ban, burn the heretical books, and send back the fugitive monks to their convents. But this plan must be executed with courage."



Thus the jurisprudence of Rome consisted, according to a prophecy uttered against the city which is seated on seven hills, in adorning itself with pearls that it had stolen, and in becoming drunk with the blood of the saints.[703]

While Charles was thus urged on with blind fury by the diet and the Pope, the Protestant princes, restrained by a mute indignation, did not open their mouths,[704] and hence they seemed to betray a weakness of which the Emperor was eager to profit. But there was also strength concealed under this weakness. "It only remains for us," exclaimed Melancthon, "to embrace our Saviour's knees." In this they laboured earnestly. Melancthon begged for Luther's prayers; Brenz for those of his own church: a general cry of distress and of faith ran through Evangelical Germany. "You shall have sheep," said Brenz, "if you will send us sheep: you know what I mean."[705] The sheep that were to be offered in sacrifice were the prayers of the saints.


The Church was not wanting to itself. "Assembled every day," wrote certain cities to the Electors, "we beg for you strength, grace, and victory,—victory full of joy." But the man of prayer and faith was especially Luther. A calm and sublime courage, in which firmness shines at the side of joy—a courage that rises and exults in proportion as the danger increases—is what Luther's letters at this time present in every line. The most poetical images are pale beside those energetic expressions which issue in a boiling torrent from the Reformer's soul. "I have recently witnessed two miracles," wrote he on the 5th August to Chancellor Brück; "this is the first. As I was at my window, I saw the stars, and the sky, and that vast and magnificent firmament in which the Lord has placed them. I could nowhere discover the columns on which the Master has[228] supported this immense vault, and yet the heavens did not fall......

"And here is the second. I beheld thick clouds hanging above us like a vast sea. I could neither perceive ground on which they reposed, nor cords by which they were suspended; and yet they did not fall upon us, but saluted us rapidly and fled away.

"God," continued he, "will choose the manner, the time, and the place suitable for deliverance, and he will not linger. What the men of blood have begun, they have not yet finished......Our rainbow is faint......their clouds are threatening......the enemy comes against us with frightful machines......But at last it will be seen to whom belonged the ballistæ, and from what hands the javelins are launched.[706] It is no matter if Luther perishes: if Christ is conqueror, Luther is conqueror also."[707]

Never had the Roman party, who did not know what was the victory of faith, imagined themselves more certain of success.

The doctors having refuted the Confession, the Protestants ought, they imagined, to declare themselves convinced, and all would then be restored to its ancient footing: such was the Emperor's plan of campaign. He therefore urges and calls upon the Protestants; but instead of submitting, they announce a refutation of the Refutation. Upon this Charles looked at his sword, and all the princes who surrounded him did the same.


John of Saxony understood what that meant, but he remained firm. "The straight line," said he (the axiom was familiar to him), "is the shortest road." It is this indomitable firmness that has secured for him in history the name of John the Persevering. He was not alone: all those Protestant princes who had grown up in the midst of courts, and[229] who were habituated to pay an humble obedience to the Emperor, found at that time in their faith a noble independence that confounded Charles the Fifth.

With the design of gaining the Marquis of Brandenburg, they opened to him the possibility of according him some possessions in Silesia on which he had claims. "If Christ is Christ," replied he, "the doctrine that I have confessed is truth."—"But do you know," quickly replied his cousin the Elector Joachim, "what is your stake?"—"Certainly," replied the Margrave, "it is said I shall be expelled from this country. Well! may God protect me!" One day Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt met Doctor Eck. "Doctor," said he, "you are exciting to war, but you will find those who will not be behindhand with you. I have broken many a lance for my friends in my time. My Lord Jesus Christ is assuredly worthy that I should do as much for him."

At the sight of this resolution, each one asked himself whether Charles, instead of curing the disease, was not augmenting it. Reflections, criticisms, jests, passed between the citizens; and the good sense of the people manifested in its own fashion what they thought of the folly of their chief. We will adduce one instance.

It is said that one day, as the Emperor was at table with many Roman-catholic princes, he was informed that some comedians begged permission (according to custom) to amuse their lordships. First appeared an old man wearing a mask, and dressed in a doctor's robe, who advanced with difficulty carrying a bundle of sticks in his arms, some straight and some crooked. He approached the wide fireplace of the Gothic hall, threw down his load in disorder, and immediately withdrew.[708] Charles and the courtiers read on his back the inscription—John Reuchlin. Then appeared another mask with an intelligent look, who made every exertion to pair the[230] straight and the crooked pieces;[709] but finding his labours useless, he shook his head, turned to the door, and disappeared. They read—Erasmus of Rotterdam. Almost immediately after advanced a monk with bright eye and decided gait, carrying a brasier of lighted coals.[710] He put the wood in order, set fire to it, blew and stirred it up, so that the flame rose bright and sparkling into the air. He then retired, and on his back were the words—Martin Luther.

Next approached a magnificent personage, covered with all the imperial insignia, who, seeing the fire so bright, drew his sword, and endeavoured by violent thrusts to extinguish it; but the more he struck, the fiercer burnt the flames, so that at last he quitted the place in indignation. His name, as it would seem, was not made known to the spectators, but all divined it. The general attention was soon attracted by a new character. A man, wearing a surplice and a mantle of red velvet, with an alb of white wool that reached to his heels, and having a stole around his neck, whose ends were ornamented with pearls, advanced majestically. Beholding the flames that already filled the hearth, he clapped his hands in terror, and looking around him sought to find something to extinguish them. He sees two vessels at the very extremity of the hall, one filled with water, and the other with oil. He rushes to them, seizes unwittingly on that containing the oil, and throws it on the fire.[711] The flames then spread with such violence that the mask fled in alarm, raising his hands to heaven; on his back was read the name of Leo X.

The mystery was finished; but instead of claiming their remuneration, the pretended actors had disappeared. No one asked the moral of this drama.


The lesson, however, proved useless; and the majority of the diet, assuming at the same time the part assigned to[231] the Emperor and the Pope, began to prepare the means necessary for extinguishing the fire kindled by Luther. They negotiated in Italy with the Duke of Mantua, who engaged to send a few regiments of light cavalry across the Alps;[712] and in England with Henry VIII., who had not forgotten Luther's reply, and who promised Charles, through his ambassador, an immense subsidy to destroy the heretics.[713]

At the same time frightful prodigies announced the gloomy future which threatened the Reform. At Spire fearful spectres, having the shape of monks, with angry eyes and hasty steps, had appeared during the night. "What do you want?" they had been asked.—"We are going," they replied, "to the Diet of Augsburg!" The circumstance had been carefully investigated, and was found perfectly trustworthy.[714] "The interpretation is not difficult," exclaimed Melancthon: "Evil spirits are coming to Augsburg to counteract our exertions, and to destroy peace. They forebode horrible troubles to us."[715] No one doubted this. "Everything is advancing towards war," said Erasmus.[716] "The diet will not terminate," wrote Brenz, "except by the destruction of all Germany."[717] "There will be a slaughter of the saints," exclaimed Bucer, "which will be such that the massacres of Diocletian will scarcely come up to it."[718] War and blood!—this was the general cry.


[232]Suddenly, on the night of Saturday, 6th August, a great disturbance broke out in the city of Augsburg.[719] There was running to and fro in the streets; messengers from the Emperor were galloping in every direction; the senate was called together and received an order to allow no one to pass the gates of the city.[720] At the same time all were afoot in the imperial barracks; the soldiers got ready their arms; the regiments were drawn up, and at daybreak (about three o'clock on Sunday morning) the Emperor's troops, in opposition to the custom constantly followed in the diet, relieved the soldiers of the city and took possession of the gates. At the same time it was learnt that these gates would not be opened, and that Charles had given orders to keep a strict watch upon the Elector and his allies.[721] A terrible awakening for those who still flattered themselves with seeing the religious debates conclude peacefully! Are not these unheard-of measures the commencement of wars and the signal of a frightful massacre?


X. Trouble and anger prevailed in the imperial palace, and it was the Landgrave who had caused them. Firm as a rock in the midst of the tempest with which he was surrounded, Philip of Hesse had never bent his head to the blast. One day, in a public assembly, addressing the bishops, he had said to them, "My lords, give peace to the Empire; we beg it of you. If you will not do so, and if I must fall, be sure that I will drag one or two of you with me." They saw it was necessary to employ milder means with him, and the Emperor endeavoured to gain him by showing a favourable disposition with respect to the county of Katzenellenbogen, about which he was at variance with the country of Nassau, and to Wurtemberg, which he claimed for his[233] cousin Ulric. On his side Duke George of Saxony, his father-in-law, had assured him that he would make him his heir if he would submit to the Pope. "They carried him to an exceeding high mountain, whence they showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof,"[722] says a chronicler, but the Landgrave resisted the temptation.

One day he heard that the Emperor had manifested a desire to speak to him. He leapt instantly on his horse and appeared before Charles.[723] The latter, who had with him his secretary Schweiss and the Bishop of Constance, represented that he had four complaints against him; namely, of having violated the Edict of Worms, of despising the Mass, of having, during his absence, excited all kinds of revolt, and, finally, of having transmitted to him a book in which his sovereign rights were attacked. The Landgrave justified himself; and the Emperor said that he accepted his replies, except with regard to the faith, and begged him to show himself in that respect entirely submissive to his majesty. "What would you say," added Charles, in a winning tone, "if I elevated you to the regal dignity?[724] But, if you show yourself rebellious to my orders, then I shall behave as becomes a Roman Emperor."

These words exasperated the Landgrave, but they did not move him. "I am in the flower of my age," replied he, "and I do not pretend to despise the joys of life and the favour of the great; but to the deceitful goods of this world I shall always prefer the ineffable grace of my God." Charles was stupified; he could not understand Philip.

From this time the Landgrave had redoubled his exertions to unite the adherents of Reform. The Zwinglian cities felt that, whatever was the issue of the diet, they would be the first victims, unless the Saxons should give them their hand. But this there was some difficulty in obtaining.


[234]"It does not appear to me useful to the public weal, or safe for the conscience," wrote Melancthon to Bucer, "to load our princes with all the hatred your doctrine inspires."[725] The Strasburgers replied, that the real cause of the Papists' hatred was not so much the doctrine of the Eucharist as that of justification by faith. "All we, who desire to belong to Christ," said they, "are one, and we have nothing to expect but death."[726]

This was true; but another motive besides checked Melancthon. If all the Protestants united, they would feel their strength, and war would be inevitable. Therefore, then, no union!

The Landgrave, threatened by the Emperor, rejected by the theologians, began to ask himself what he did at Augsburg. The cup was full. Charles's refusal to communicate the Romish Refutation, except on inadmissible conditions, made it run over. Philip of Hesse saw but one course to take—to quit the city.

Scarcely had the Emperor made known the conditions which he placed on the communication of the reply, than on Friday evening, 5th August, the Landgrave, going alone to the Count-palatine, Charles's minister, had begged for an immediate audience with his majesty. Charles, who did not care about it, pretended to be busy, and had put off Philip until the following Sunday.[727] But the latter answered that he could not wait; that his wife, who was dangerously ill, entreated him to return to Hesse without delay; and that, being one of the youngest princes, the meanest in understanding, and useless to Charles, he humbly begged his majesty would permit him to leave on the morrow. The Emperor refused.


We may well understand the storms this refusal excited[235] in Philip's mind: but he knew how to contain himself; never had he appeared more tranquil; during the whole of Saturday (6th August), he seemed occupied only with a magnificent tourney in honour of the Emperor and of his brother Ferdinand.[728] He prepared for it publicly; his servants went to and fro, but under that din of horses and of armour, Philip concealed very different designs. "The Landgrave conducts himself with very great moderation," wrote Melancthon to Luther, the same day.[729] "He told me openly that, to preserve peace, he would submit to conditions still harder than those which the Emperor imposes on us, and whatever he could accept without dishonouring the Gospel, he would do so."

Yet Charles was not at ease. The Landgrave's demand pursued him; all the Protestants might do the same, and even quit Augsburg unexpectedly. The clue, that he had hitherto so skilfully held in his hands, was perhaps about to be broken: it was better to be violent than ridiculous. The Emperor therefore resolved on striking a decisive blow. The Elector, the princes, the deputies, are still in Augsburg: he must at every risk prevent them from leaving it. Such were the heavy thoughts that on the night of the 6th August, while the Protestants were calmly sleeping,[730] banished repose from Charles's eyes; and which made him hastily arouse the councillors of Augsburg, and send his messengers and soldiers through the streets of the city.

The Protestant princes were still slumbering, when they received, on the part of the Emperor, the unexpected order to repair immediately to the Hall of the Chapter.[731]


It was eight o'clock when they arrived. They found there[236] the electors of Brandenburg and Mentz, the Dukes of Saxony, Brunswick, and Mecklenburg, the Bishops of Salzburg, Spire, and Strasburg, George Truchses, the Margrave of Baden's representative, Count Martin of (OE)lting, the Abbot of Weingarten, and the Provost of Bamberg. These were the commissioners nominated by Charles to terminate this great affair.

It was the most decided among them, Joachim of Brandenburg, who began to speak. "You know," said he to the Protestants, "with what mildness the Emperor has endeavoured to re-establish unity. If some abuses have crept into the Christian Church, he is ready to correct them, in conjunction with the Pope. But how contrary to the Gospel are the sentiments you have adopted! Abandon then your errors, do not any longer remain separate from the Church, and sign the Refutation without delay.[732] If you refuse, then through your fault how many souls will be lost, how much blood shed, what countries laid waste, what trouble in all the Empire! And you," said he, turning towards the Elector, "your electorate, your life, all will be torn from you, and certain ruin will fall upon your subjects, and even upon their wives and children."

The Elector remained motionless. At any time this language would have been alarming: it was still more so now that the city was almost in a state of siege. "We now understand," said the Protestants to one another, "why the imperial guards occupy the gates of the city."[733] It was evident, indeed, that the Emperor intended violence.[734]


The Protestants are unanimous: surrounded with soldiers, at the very gates of the prison, and beneath the thousand swords of Charles, they will remain firm. All these threats[237] will not make them take one step backwards.[735] It was important for them, however, to consider their reply. They begged for a few minutes' delay, and retired.

To submit voluntarily, or to be reduced by force, such was the dilemma Charles proposed to the Evangelical Christians.

At the moment when each was anxious about the issue of this struggle, in which the destinies of Christianity were contending, an alarming rumour suddenly raised the agitation of all minds to its height.

The Landgrave, in the midst of his preparations for the tournament, meditated the most serious resolution. Excluded by Charles from every important deliberation, irritated at the treatment the Protestants had undergone during this diet,[736] convinced that they had no more chance of peace,[737] not doubting that their liberty was greatly endangered in Augsburg, and feeling unable to conceal under the appearance of moderation the indignation with which his soul was filled, being besides of a quick, prompt, and resolute character, Philip had decided on quitting the city and repairing to his states, in order to act freely, and to serve as a support to the Reform.

But what mystery was required! If the Landgrave was taken in the act, no doubt he would be put under arrest. This daring step might therefore become the signal of those extreme measures from which he longed to escape.


It was Saturday, the 6th August, the day for which Philip had requested the Emperor's leave of absence. He waits until the commencement of the night, and then, about eight o'clock, disguised in a foreign dress, without bidding farewell to any of his friends,[738] and taking every imaginable precaution,[739] he makes for the gates of the city, about the time when they are usually closed. Five or six cavaliers followed[238] him singly, and at a little distance.[740] In so critical a moment will not these men-at-arms attract attention? Philip traverses the streets without danger, approaches the gate,[741] passes with a careless air through the midst of the guard, between the scattered soldiers; no one moves, all remain idly seated, as if nothing extraordinary was going on. Philip has passed without being recognised.[742] His five or six horsemen come through in like manner. Behold them all at last in the open country. The little troop immediately spur their horses, and flee with headlong speed far from the walls of the imperial city.

Yet Philip has taken his measures so well, that no one as yet suspects his departure. When during the night Charles occupies the gates with his own guards, he thinks the Landgrave still in the city.[743] When the Protestants were assembled at eight in the morning in the Chapter-hall, the princes of both parties were a little astonished at the absence of Philip of Hesse. They are accustomed, however, to see him keep aloof; he is in a pet, no doubt. No one imagines he is between twelve and fifteen leagues from Augsburg.


After the termination of the conference, and as each one was returning towards his hotel, the Elector of Brandenburg and his friends on the one hand, elated at the speech they had delivered, the Elector of Saxony and his allies on the other, resolved to sacrifice everything, inquiries were made at the Landgrave's lodgings as to the reason of his absence; they closely question Salz, Nuszbicker, Mayer, and Schnepf.[239] At last the Hessian councillors can no longer keep the secret. "The Landgrave," said they, "has returned to Hesse."

This news circulated immediately through all the city, and shook it like the explosion of a mine. Charles especially, who found himself mocked, and frustrated in his expectations—Charles, who had not the least suspicion,[744] trembled, and was enraged.[745] The Protestants, whom the Landgrave had not admitted to his secret,[746] are as much astonished as the Roman-catholics themselves, and fear that this inconsiderate departure may be the immediate signal for a terrible persecution. There was only Luther, who, the moment he heard of Philip's proceeding, highly approved of it, and exclaimed: "Of a truth all these delays and indignities are enough to fatigue more than one Landgrave."[747]

The Chancellor of Hesse gave the Elector of Saxony a letter that his master had left for him. Philip spoke in this ostensible document of his wife's health; but he had charged his ministers to inform the Elector in private of the real causes of his departure. He announced, moreover, that he had given orders to his ministers to assist the Protestants in all things, and exhort his allies to permit themselves in no manner to be turned aside from the Word of God.[748] "As for me," said he, "I shall fight for the Word of God, at the risk of my goods, my states, my subjects, and my life."


The effect of the Landgrave's departure was instantaneous: a real revolution was then effected in the diet. The Elector of Mentz and the bishops of Franconia, Philip's near neighbours, imagined they already saw him on their frontiers at the[240] head of a powerful army, and they replied to the Archbishop of Salzburg, who expressed astonishment at their alarm: "Ah! if you were in our place you would do the same." Ferdinand, knowing the intimate relations of Philip with the Duke of Wurtemberg, trembled for the estates of this prince, at that time usurped by Austria; and Charles the Fifth, undeceived with regard to those princes whom he had believed so timid, and whom he had treated with so much arrogance, had no doubt that this sudden fit of Philip's had been maturely deliberated in the common council of the Protestants. All saw a declaration of war in the Landgrave's sudden departure. They called to mind that at the moment when they thought the least about it, they might see him appear at the head of his soldiers, on the frontiers of his enemies, and no one was ready; no one even wished to be ready! A thunderbolt had fallen in the midst of the diet. They repeated the news to one another, with troubled eyes and affrighted looks. All was confusion in Augsburg; and couriers bore afar, in every direction, astonishment and consternation.

This alarm immediately converted the enemies of the Reform. The violence of Charles and of the princes was broken in this memorable night as if by enchantment; and the furious wolves were suddenly transformed into meek and docile lambs.[749]


It was still Sunday morning: Charles the Fifth immediately convoked the diet for the afternoon.[750] "The Landgrave has quitted Augsburg," said Count Frederick from the Emperor; "his majesty flatters himself that even the friends of that prince were ignorant of his departure. It was without the Emperor's knowledge, and even in defiance of his express prohibition, that Philip of Hesse has left, thus failing[241] in all his duties. He has wished to put the diet out of joint.[751] But the Emperor conjures you not to permit yourselves to be led astray by him, and to contribute rather to the happy issue of this national assembly. His majesty's gratitude will thus be secured to you."

The Protestants replied, that the departure of the Landgrave had taken place without their knowledge; that they had heard of it with pain, and that they would have dissuaded him. Nevertheless they did not doubt that this prince had solid reasons for such a step; besides he had left his councillors with full powers, and that, as for them, they were ready to do everything to conclude the diet in a becoming manner. Then, confident in their rights, and decided to resist Charles's arbitrary acts, they continued: "It is pretended that the gates were closed on our account. We beg your majesty to revoke this order, and to prevent any similar orders being given for the future."

Never was Charles the Fifth less at ease: he had just spoken as a father, and they remind him that a few hours back he had acted like a tyrant. Some subterfuge was requisite. "It is not on your account," replied the Count-palatine, "that the Emperor's soldiers occupy the gates......Beware of believing those who tell you so......Yesterday there was a quarrel between two soldiers,[752] and a mob was collected......This is why the Emperor took that step. Besides, such things shall not be done again without the Elector of Saxony, in his quality of marshal of the Empire, being first informed of them." An order was given immediately to reopen the gates.


No exertions were now spared by the Roman party to convince the Protestants of their good-will: there was an unaccustomed mildness in the language of the Count-palatine and[242] in the looks of Charles.[753] The princes of the Papal party, once so terrible, were similarly transformed. They had been hastily forced to speak out; if they desired war, they must begin it instantly.

But they shrunk back at this frightful prospect. How, with the enthusiasm that animated the Protestants, take up arms against them! Were not the abuses of the Church everywhere acknowledged, and could the Roman princes be sure of their own subjects? Besides, what would be the issue of a war but the increase of the Emperor's power? The Roman-catholic states, and the Duke of Bavaria in particular, would have been glad to see Charles at war with the Protestants, in the hope that he would thus consume his strength; but it was, on the contrary, with their own soldiers that the Emperor designed attacking the heretics. Henceforth they rejected the instrumentality of arms as eagerly as they had at first desired it.

Everything had thus changed in Augsburg: the Romish party was paralyzed, disheartened, and even broken up. The sword already drawn was hastily thrust back into the sheath. Peace! peace! was the cry of all.

XI. 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 menaces. New and more formidable dangers were then to be encountered by the Reform. Rome, seeing the sword torn from its hands, 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.


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[243] Bishop of Augsburg, the Chancellors of Baden and Cologne, with Eck, Cochlœus, and Wimpina; on the part of the Protestants, were the Margrave George of Brandenburg, the Prince Electoral of Saxony, the Chancellors Brück and Heller, with Melancthon, Brenz, and Schnepf.[754]

They agreed to take as basis the Confession of the Evangelical states, and they 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. Doctor Eck yielded this point.[755]

There remained three doctrines only on which they differed.

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, with 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."


The second controverted point was the Invocation of Saints; and the third, and principal one, was Justification by Faith. It was of the greatest importance for the Romanists to maintain the meritorious influence of works: all their system, in[244] 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."[756]

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."[757] They even adduced strange authorities: "Plato," said they, "declares that it is not by external works, but by virtue that God is adored; and every one knows these verses of Cato's:

"Si deus est animus, nobis ut carmina dicunt,
Hic tibi precipue pura sit mente colendus."[758]

"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.

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 in all 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[245] seen in our own days the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church interpreted in accordance with the Council of Trent? There are causes in which falsehood is never awanting. This plot was as skilfully executed, as it was profoundly conceived.

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 mad-brain 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.[759] Duke George of Saxony supplied his place as arbitrator.

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 honour and power of the hierarchy. It was accordingly for this period of the combat that they had reserved their cunning and their strength.

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 practised already; only, your ministers should preach at Easter, that that is not of Divine institution, and that Christ is wholly in each kind.[760]


"Moreover," continued they, "as for the married priests,[246] 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.[761]

"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."[762]

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.

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:[763] the bishops, on the contrary, have property destined to provide for this charge."

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


They proposed therefore to restore to the bishops their jurisdiction,[247] the maintenance of discipline, and the superintendence of the priests, provided they did not persecute the Evangelical doctrine, and did not oppress the pastors with impious vows and burdens. "We may not," added they, "without strong reasons rend that order by which the bishops are over the 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 discipline.

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 Anti-christ, 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 the sound doctrine be fully accorded to us."

The chancellor Brück 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 of right divine."[764]

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.


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.[765] But he began to be very doubtful whether ecclesiastical concessions would not drag with them doctrinal[248] concessions also. The reform was drifting away......still a few more fathoms, and it was lost. Already disunion, trouble, and affright began to spread among its ranks. Melancthon has become more childish than a child, said one of his friends;[766] and yet he was so excited, that the Chancellor of Lunenburg having made some objections to these unprecedented concessions, the little Master of Arts proudly raised his head, and said with a sharp and harsh tone of voice: "He who dares assert that the means indicated are not christian is a liar and a scoundrel."[767] 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. Brenz 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 Brück. And even this firm man began to grow alarmed at his isolation.


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.[768] 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.[769] 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[249] convictions were general. "Better die with Jesus Christ," said all Augsburg,[770] "than gain the favour of the whole world without him!"

No one felt so much alarm as Luther at the moment 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 Brenz, all equally filled with courage and with faith.

"I learn," said he, "that you have begun a marvellous work, namely, to put Luther and the Pope in harmony; but the Pope is unwilling, and Luther begs to be excused.[771] And if, in despite of them, you succeed in this affair, then after your example I will bring together Christ and Belial.

"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.[772]

"Beware also of the jurisdiction of the bishops, for fear we should have soon 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.[773] All these negotiations are impossible, unless the Pope should renounce his Papacy.

"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 for them: as if God only taught his Word, in order that our enemies might at pleasure tyrannize over their people.


[250]"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."[774]

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.

"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.[775] I cannot tell how violently these conditions agitate me which you propose. The plan of Campeggio and the Pope has been to try us first by threats, and then, if they do not succeed, by stratagems; you have triumphed over the first attack, and sustained the terrible coming of Cæsar: now, then, for the second. Act with courage, and do not yield to the adversaries except what can be proved with evidence from the very Word of God.

"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.[776] As certainly as Christ lives, that shall be done!"


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 clamours of the vulgar:[777] we must think of peace and of[251] 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.[778] 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."[779]

They too readily listened to Melancthon, and they vigorously laboured to bind to the Papacy by the bonds of the hierarchy the Church that God had 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.[780] The politic Charles the Fifth so acted that no haughty word should compromise the victory; but the Roman clergy could not master themselves: their pride, their 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 Reform!

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 was in truth the only resource, and it did not fail the Reform.


If the Roman hierarchy had been willing, under certain admissible conditions, to receive the Protestants who were ready to capitulate, it was all 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,[252] 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!"

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

This was a great deliverance; but soon appeared a fresh danger. The Evangelical Christians should have immediately quitted Augsburg; but, said one of them,[781] "Satan, disguised as an angel of light, blinded the eyes of their understanding." They remained.

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

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 Brück and Heller. The Protestants consented, and all was begun anew.


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?"[782] 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"[253] (2 Sam. xv.), 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."[783]

The Landgrave was especially indignant at this cowardice. "Melancthon," wrote he to Zwingle, "walks backwards like a crab."[784] 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 happen? They would remove our ministers, oppress 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 the moment, not to yield, but to remain firm even to the death. Baffle these fearful combinations of Melancthon, and tell, from me, the deputies of the cities to be men, and not women.[785] Let us fear nothing: God is with us."


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,[254] Melancthon and his friends pointed out two phantoms before which they shrunk in affright. The first was war: it was, in their opinion, imminent. "It is not only," said they, "numberless temporal evils that it will bring with it,—the devastation of Germany, murder, violation, sacrilege, rapine; but it will produce spiritual evils more frightful still, and will inevitably bring on the perturbation of all religion."[786] 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 they shrunk back with terror from the frightful prospect. "Good men do not think that the court should regulate the ministry of the Church,"[787] said Brenz. "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."[788] 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."[789]


The Romish episcopacy once recognised, 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[255] 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."[790]

"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 see the two parties unite, and Rome embrace Wittemberg."


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 favour, 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 favour was the work that God accomplished by Christ on the cross; while the only thing that put him in possession of this favour 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[256] aspired to swallow it up: Jesus Christ stood firm in presence of the Church, and it was seen that henceforward all conferences were superfluous.

Time pressed: for two months and a half Charles the Fifth had been labouring 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.[791] But now Brück'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 of August.

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.


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[257] much, he could not go so far as to yield Christ himself, and his defeat justified him in the eyes of the Protestants.

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.[792] We shall see of what nature these arrangements were.

They appeared to redouble their exertions. If they now let the clue slip, it is lost for ever: they laboured accordingly to reunite the two ends. There were conferences in the gardens, conferences at 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.

Charles the Fifth had resolved to take the affair in hand, and to cut the Gordian knot, which neither doctor 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 endeavouring 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."[793]


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[258] himself had no wish for such an assembly. His birth and his conduct made him equally dread it.[794] 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;[795] 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!

Scarcely had the 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,[796] without even being able to find purchasers.[797] The Papacy was compromised; the merchandise was in great danger; and the price current immediately declined on the Roman exchange.

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."[798]



The Protestants replied on the morrow, the 8th September, that they had not stirred up new sects contrary to the Holy Scriptures;[799] 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.

It was eight in the evening when, after a long deliberation, the Protestants were again called in. "His majesty," said George Truchses 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 defence of the Church. To-morrow at one o'clock you will bring your final decision."

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.[800] "Enough," replied the redoubtable Emperor; "I will reflect upon it; but in the mean time let no one quit Augsburg."


Charles the Fifth was embarrassed in a labyrinth from which he knew not how to escape. The state had resolved[260] 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 without knowing what might happen. These thoughts disturbed him: these cares preyed upon him; he was utterly confounded.

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!"[801]


A rumour 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 cry in all Augsburg.[802] 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.[803] Two nights successively the same tumult was repeated. They shouted, they[261] quarrelled, they fought, particularly in and before the mansions of the princes: the war was nearly commencing in Augsburg.

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

On the same day, or on the morrow, Jerome Wehe, chancellor of Baden, and Count Truchses on the one side; Chancellor Brück and Melancthon on the other, met at six in the morning in the church of St. Maurice.[804]

Charles, notwithstanding his threats, could not decide on employing force. He could 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 absent ten years from the Empire, dare, without raising all Germany, offer violence to the favourites of the nation? Would not the Roman-catholic princes themselves see in this act an infringement of their privileges? 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."[805]

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.[806] 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.



But on the side of the Protestants the wind had also changed. Now they will no longer have 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.[807] They hope to save the abominable articles of Purgatory, Indulgences, and the Papacy, because we have passed them by in silence.[808] Let us beware of betraying Christ and his Word in order to please antichrist and the devil."[809]

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.[810] 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; and 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."


XII. Thus Luther gave the signal of departure. They[263] replied to the Reformer's appeal, and all prepared to quit Augsburg on Saturday, 17th September. At ten at night Duke Ernest of Luneburg assembled the deputies of Nuremberg and the ministers of the Landgrave in his hotel, and announced to them that the Elector was determined to leave the next morning, without informing any one, and that he would accompany him. "Keep the secret," said he to them, "and know that, if peace cannot be preserved, it will be a trifling matter for me to lose, combating with you, all that God has given me."[811]

The Elector's preparations betrayed his intentions. In the middle of the night Duke Henry of Brunswick arrived hastily at his hotel, beseeching him to wait,[812] and, towards morning, Counts Truchses and Mansfeldt announced that, on the morrow between seven and eight, the Emperor would give him his congé.

On Monday, 19th September, the Elector purposing to leave Augsburg immediately after his audience with Charles, breakfasted at seven o'clock, then sent off his baggage and his cooks,[813] and ordered his officers to be ready at ten o'clock. At the moment when John quitted the hotel to wait upon the Emperor, all the members of his household were drawn up on each side booted and spurred;[814] but, having been introduced to Charles, he was requested to wait two, four, or six days longer.


As soon as the Elector was alone with his allies, his indignation burst forth, and he even became violent. "This new delay will end in nothing,"[815] he said; "I am resolved to set out, happen what may. It seems to me, from the manner in which things are arranged, that I have now completely[264] the air of a prisoner." The Margrave of Brandenburg begged him to be calm. "I shall go," the Elector still replied. At last he yielded, and having appeared again before Charles the Fifth, he said, "I will wait until Friday next; and, if nothing is done by that time, I shall leave forthwith."

Great was the anxiety of the Protestants during these four days of expectation. Most of them doubted not that, by acceding to Charles's prayers, they had delivered themselves into the hands of their enemies. "The Emperor is deliberating whether he ought to hang us or let us live," wrote Brenz.[816] Fresh negotiations of Truchses were without success.[817]

All that now remained for the Emperor was to draw up, in common with the Romish states, the recess of the diet. This was done; and, that the Protestants might not complain of its having been prepared without their knowledge, he assembled them in his palace on Thursday, 22d September, the day previous to that fixed for the Elector's departure, and had his project read to them by the Count-palatine. This project was insult and war. The Emperor granted to the Elector, the five princes, and the six cities,[818] a delay of six months, until the 15th April next year, to come to an arrangement with the Church, the Pope, the Emperor, and all the princes and monarchs of Christendom. This was clearly announcing to them that the Romanists were very willing to delay until the usual period for bringing armies into the field.


Nor was this all: this delay was granted only on the express condition that the Protestants should immediately join the Emperor in reducing the Anabaptists, and all those who opposed the holy sacrament, by which were meant the Zwinglian[265] cities. He wished by this means to tie the hands of the Protestants, and prevent the two families of the Reform from uniting during the winter.

Finally, the Protestants were forbidden to make any innovations, to print or sell anything on the objects of faith, or to draw any one whatever to their sect, "since the Confession had been soundly refuted by the Holy Scriptures." Thus they officially proclaimed the Reform a sect, and a sect contrary to the Word of God.

Nothing was more calculated to displease the friends of the Gospel, who remained in Charles's presence astonished, alarmed, and indignant.[819] This had been foreseen; and, at the moment when the Protestants were about to enter the Emperor's chamber, Truchses and Wehe, making signs to them, mysteriously slipped a paper into their hands, containing a promise that, if, on the 15th April, the Protestants required a prolongation of the delay, their request would certainly be granted.[820] But Brück, to whom the paper was given, was not deceived. "A subtle ambuscade," said he; "a masterpiece of knavery! God will save his own, and will not permit them to fall into the snare."[821] This trick, in fact, served only still more to increase the courage of the Protestants.


Brück, without discussing the recess in a political point of view, confined himself to what was principally at stake, the Word of God. "We maintain," said he, "that our Confession is so based on the holy Word of God, that it is impossible to refute it. We consider it as the very truth of God, and we hope by it to stand one day before the judgment-seat of the Lord." He then announced that the Protestants had refuted the Refutation of the Romish theologians, and holding in his hand the famous Apology of the Confession of Augsburg written by Melancthon, he stepped forward, and offered[266] it to Charles the Fifth. The Count-palatine took it, and the Emperor was already stretching out his hand, when Ferdinand having whispered a few words, he motioned the Count, who immediately returned the Apology to Doctor Brück.[822] This paper and the "Commonplaces," are the masterpieces of the Reformer. The embarrassed Emperor told the Protestants to come again at eight the next morning.

Charles the Fifth, resolving to employ every means to get his decree accepted, began by entreaties; and scarcely was the Margrave of Brandenburg seated to take his evening repast, when Truchses and Wehe, appearing before him, used every kind of discourse and argument, but without success.[823]

The next day (Friday, 23d September), the Evangelical princes and the deputies of the cities, assembling at five in the morning in the Margrave's hotel, the recess was there read anew in the presence of Truchses and Wehe, and Chancellor Brück detailed seven reasons for its rejection. "I undertake," said Wehe, "to translate the recess into German in such a manner that you can accept it. As for the word sect, in particular, it is the clerk who placed it there by mistake."[824] The mediators retired in haste to communicate to Charles the complaints of the Protestants.


Charles and his ministers gave up every idea of reconciliation, and hoped for nothing except through fear. The Protestants having arrived at eight o'clock at the imperial palace, they were made to wait an hour; the Elector of Brandenburg then said to them in Charles's name: "His majesty is astonished beyond measure that you still maintain your doctrine to be based on the holy Scriptures. If you said the truth, his majesty's ancestors, so many kings and emperors, and even the ancestors of the Elector of Saxony, would have been heretics! There is no Gospel, there is no Scripture,[267] that imposes on us the obligation of seizing by violence the goods of another, and of saying afterwards that we cannot conscientiously restore them. It is for this reason," added Joachim, after these words, which he had accompanied with a sardonic smile, "I am commissioned to inform you, that if you refuse the recess, all the Germanic states will place their lives and their property at the Emperor's disposal, and his majesty himself will employ the resources of all his kingdoms to complete this affair before leaving the Empire."

"We do not accept it," replied the Protestants firmly,—"His majesty also has a conscience," then resumed the Elector of Brandenburg, in a harsh tone; "and if you do not submit, he will concert with the Pope and the other potentates on the best means of extirpating this sect and its new errors." But in vain did they add threat to threat: the Protestants remained calm, respectful, and unshaken. "Our enemies, destitute of all confidence in God!" said they, "would shake like a reed in presence of the Emperor's anger, and they imagine that we should tremble in like manner; but we have called unto God, and he will keep us faithful to his truth."

The Protestants then prepared to take their final leave of the Emperor. This prince, whose patience had been put to a severe trial, approached to shake hands according to custom: and beginning with the Elector of Saxony, he said to him in a low voice: "Uncle, uncle! I should never have expected this of you." The Elector was deeply affected: his eyes filled with tears: but, firm and resolute, he bent his head and quitted Charles without reply. It was now two in the afternoon.


While the Protestants were returning to their hotels, calm and happy, the Romish princes returned to theirs, confused and dispirited, uneasy and divided. They doubted not that the congé that had just been given the Protestants would be regarded by them as a declaration of war, and that on quitting Augsburg, they would rush to arms. This thought terrified them. Accordingly, the Elector of Saxony had hardly reached his palace, when he saw Dr. Ruhel, councillor of[268] the Elector of Mentz, hastening towards him, commissioned by his master to deliver this message: "Although my brother the Elector (Joachim of Brandenburg) has declared that all the states of the Empire are ready to support the Emperor against you, know that both myself and the ministers of the Elector-palatine and of the Elector of Treves immediately declared to his majesty that we do not adhere to this declaration, seeing that we think very favourably of you.[825] I intended saying this to the Emperor in your presence, but you left so precipitately, that I was unable."

Thus spoke the primate of the German Church, and even the choice of his messenger was significant: Dr. Ruhel was Luther's brother-in-law. John begged him to thank his master.

As this envoy retired, there arrived one of the gentlemen of Duke Henry of Brunswick, a zealous Romanist. He was at first refused admittance on account of the departure, but returned hastily, just as Brück's carriage was leaving the court-yard of the hotel. Approaching the carriage-door, he said: "The Duke informs the Elector that he will endeavour to put things in a better train, and will come this winter to kill a wild boar with him."[826] Shortly after, the terrible Ferdinand himself declared that he would seek every means of preventing an outbreak.[827] All these manifestations of the affrighted Roman-catholics showed on which side was the real strength.

At three o'clock in the afternoon the Elector of Saxony, accompanied by the Dukes of Luneburg and the Princes of Anhalt, quitted the walls of Augsburg. "God be praised," said Luther, "that our dear prince is at last out of hell."[828]


As he saw these intrepid princes thus escaping from his hands, Charles the Fifth gave way to a violence that was not usual with him.[829] "They want to teach me a new faith,"[269] cried he: "but it is not with the doctrine that we shall finish this matter: we must draw the sword, and we shall then see who is the strongest."[830] There was a concert of indignation around him. They were astonished at the audacity of Brück, who had dared call the Romanists—heretics![831] But nothing irritated them so much as the spirit of proselytism which in those glorious days characterized Evangelical Germany; and the anger of the Papists was particularly directed against the Chancellor of Luneburg, "who," said they, "had sent more than a hundred ministers into different places to preach the new doctrine, and who had even publicly boasted of it."[832]—"Our adversaries thirst for our blood," wrote, as they heard these complaints, the deputies of Nuremberg, who remained almost alone at Augsburg.

On the 4th October, Charles the Fifth wrote to the Pope; for it was from Rome that the new crusade was to set out. "The negotiations are broken off; our adversaries are more obstinate than ever; and I am resolved to employ my strength and my person in combating them. For this reason I beg your holiness will demand the support of all christian princes."


The enterprise began in Augsburg itself. The day on which he wrote to the Pope, Charles, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast it was, re-established the Cordeliers in that city, and a monk ascending the pulpit said: "All those who preach that Jesus Christ alone has made satisfaction for our sins, and that God saves us without regard to our works, are thorough scoundrels. There are, on the contrary, two roads to salvation: the common road, namely, the observance of the commandments; and the perfect road, namely, the ecclesiastical state." Scarcely was the sermon finished ere they began to remove the benches placed in the church for the Evangelical preaching, breaking them violently (for they[270] were fixed with chains), and throwing them one upon another. Within these consecrated walls two monks, in particular, armed with hammers and pincers, tossed their arms, and shouted like men possessed. "From this frightful uproar," exclaimed some, "one would say they were pulling down a house."[833] It was in truth the house of God that they wished to begin destroying.

After the tumult was appeased, they sang Mass; then a Spaniard desiring to recommence breaking the benches, and being prevented by one of the citizens, they began to hurl chairs at each other; one of the monks, leaving the choir, ran up to them and was soon dragged into the fray; at length the captain of police arrived with his men, who distributed their well-directed blows on every side. Thus recommenced in Germany the restoration of Roman-catholicism: popular violence has often been one of its most powerful allies.

On the 13th October the recess was read to all the Romish states, and on the same day they concluded a Roman league.[834]

Two cities had signed the Confession, and two others had assented to it; the Imperialists hoped, however, that these powerless municipalities, affrighted at the imperial authority, would withdraw from the Protestant union. But on the 17th October, instead of two or four cities, sixteen imperial cities, among which were the most important in Germany, declared it was impossible to grant any support against the Turks, so long as public peace was not secured in Germany itself.[835]


An event more formidable to Charles had just taken place. The unity of the Reformation had prevailed. "We are one in the fundamental articles of faith," had said the Zwinglian cities, "and in particular (notwithstanding some disputes about words among our theologians), we are one in the doctrine of the communion in the body and blood of our Lord. Receive us." The Saxon deputies immediately gave their[271] hands. Nothing unites the children of God so much as the violence of their adversaries. "Let us unite," said all, "for the consolation of our brethren and the terror of our enemies."[836]

In vain did Charles, who was intent on keeping up the division among the Protestants, convoke the deputies of the Zwinglian cities; in vain, desiring to render them odious, had he accused them of fastening a consecrated wafer to a wall and firing bullets at it;[837] in vain did he overwhelm them with fierce threats;—all his efforts were useless. At length the Evangelical party was one.

The alarm increased among the Roman party, who resolved on fresh concessions. "The Protestants call for public peace," said they: "well then, let us draw up articles of peace." But, on the 29th October, the Protestants refused these offers, because the Emperor enjoined peace to all the world, without binding himself. "An Emperor has the right to command peace to his subjects," haughtily answered Charles; "but it has never been heard that he commanded it to himself."[838]

Nothing remained but to draw the sword; and for that Charles made every preparation. On the 25th October, he wrote to the cardinals at Rome: "We inform you that we shall spare neither kingdoms nor lordships; and that we shall venture even our soul and our body to complete things so necessary."


Scarcely had Charles's letter been received, before his major-domo, Pedro de la Cueva, arrived in Rome by express. "The season is now too far advanced to attack the Lutherans immediately," said he to the Pope; "but prepare everything for this enterprise. His majesty thinks it his duty to prefer before all things the accomplishment of your designs."[272] Thus Clement and the Emperor were also united, and both sides began to concentrate their forces.

On the evening of the 11th November, the recess was read to the Protestant deputies, and on the 12th they rejected it, declaring that they did not acknowledge the Emperor's power to command in matters of faith.[839] The deputies of Hesse and of Saxony departed immediately after, and on the 19th November the recess was solemnly read in the presence of Charles the Fifth, and of the princes and deputies who were still in Augsburg. This report was more hostile than the project communicated to the Protestants. It bore, among other things (this is only a sample of the urbanity of this official doctrine), that "to deny free-will was the error not of a man, but of a brute."—"We beg his majesty," said the Elector Joachim, after it was read, "not to leave Germany, until by his cares one sole and same faith be re-established in all the Empire."

The Emperor replied, that he would not go farther than his states of the Low Countries. They desired deeds should follow close upon words. It was then nearly seven in the evening; a few torches, lighted here and there by the ushers, and casting a pale light, alone illuminated this assembly: they separated without seeing each other; and thus ended, as it were by stealth, that diet so pompously announced to the christian world.

On the 22d November, the recess was made public, and two days after Charles the Fifth set out for Cologne. The ruler of two worlds had seen all his power baffled by a few Christians; and he who had entered the imperial city in triumph, now quitted it gloomy, silent, and dispirited. The mightiest power of the earth was broken against the power of God.


But the Emperor's ministers and officers, excited by the Pope, displayed so much the more energy. The states of the Empire were bound to furnish Charles for three years,[273] 40,000 foot, 8000 horse, and a considerable sum of money;[840] the Margrave Henry of Zenete, the Count of Nassau, and other nobles, made considerable levies on the side of the Rhine; a captain going through the Black Forest called its rude inhabitants to his standard, and there enrolled six companies of lansquenets; King Ferdinand had written to all the knights of the Tyrol and of Wurtemberg to gird on their cuirasses and to seize their swords; Joachim of Talheim collected the Spanish bands in the Low Countries, and ordered them towards the Rhine; Peter Scher solicited from the Duke of Lorraine the aid of his arms; and another chief hastily moved the Spanish army of Florence in the direction of the Alps. There was every reason to fear that the Germans, even the Roman-catholics, would take Luther's part; and hence principally foreign troops were levied.[841] Nothing but war was talked of in Augsburg.


On a sudden a strange rumour was heard.[842] The signal is given, said every one. A free city, lying on the confines of the Germanic and Roman world,—a city at war with its bishop, in alliance with the Protestants, and which passes for reformed even before really being so, has been suddenly attacked. A courier from Strasburg brings this news to Augsburg, and it circulates throughout the town with the rapidity of lightning. Three days after Michaelmas, some armed men, sent by the Duke of Savoy, pillaged the suburbs of Geneva, and threatened to take possession of the city, and put all to the edge of the sword. Every one in Augsburg was amazed. "Ho!" exclaimed Charles the Fifth, in French, "the Duke of Savoy has begun too soon."[843] It was reported that Magaret, governor of the Low Countries, the Pope, the Dukes of Lorraine and Guelders, and even the[274] King of France, were directing their troops against Geneva. It was there that the army of Rome intended fixing its point d'appui. The avalanche was gathering on the first slopes of the Alps, whence it would rush over all Switzerland, and then roll into Germany, burying the Gospel and the Reformation under its huge mass.[844]

Never had this sacred cause appeared to be in such great danger, and never in reality had it gained so noble a triumph. The coup de main attempted on those hills, where six years later Calvin was to take his station, and plant the standard of Augsburg and of Nazareth, having failed, all fears were dispelled, and the victory of the confessors of Christ, for an instant obscured, shone forth anew in all its splendour.

While the Emperor Charles, surrounded by a numerous train of princes, was approaching the banks of the Rhine sad and dispirited, the Evangelical Christians were returning in triumph to their homes. Luther was the herald of the victory gained at Augsburg by Faith. "Though our enemies should have around them, beside them, with them, not only that puissant Roman Emperor, Charles, but still more the Emperor of the Turks and his Mahomet," said he, "they could not intimidate, they could not frighten me. It is I who in the strength of God am resolved to frighten and overthrow them. They shall yield to me—they shall fall! and I shall remain upright and firm. My life shall be their headsman, and my death their hell![845]......God blinds them and hardens their hearts; he is driving them towards the Red Sea: all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen, cannot escape their inevitable destiny. Let them go then, let them perish, since they will it so![846] As for us, the Lord is with us."


Thus the Diet of Augsburg, destined to crush the Reformation, was what strengthened it for ever. It has been usual[275] to consider the peace of Augsburg (1555) as the period when the Reform was definitively established. That is the date of legal Protestantism; Evangelical Christianity has another—the autumn of 1530. In 1555 was the victory of the sword and of diplomacy; in 1530 was that of the Word of God and of Faith; and this latter victory is in our eyes the truest and the firmest. The evangelical history of the Reformation in Germany is nearly finished at the epoch we have reached, and the diplomatic history of legal Protestantism begins. Whatever may be done now, whatever may be said, the Church of the first ages has reappeared; and it has reappeared strong enough to show that it will live. There will still be conferences and discussions; there will still be leagues and combats; there will even be deplorable defeats; but all that is a secondary movement. The great movement is accomplished: the cause of Faith is won by Faith. The effort has been made: the Evangelical doctrine has taken root in the world, and neither the storms of men, nor the powers of hell, will ever be able to tear it up.




I. The divisions which the Reformation disclosed within its bosom, on its appearance before the Diet of Augsburg, humbled it and compromised its existence; but we must not forget that the cause of these divisions was one of the conditions of the existence of the regenerated Church. No doubt it would have been desirable for Germany and Switzerland to have agreed; but it was of still greater importance that Germany and Switzerland should have each its original Reform. If the Swiss Reformation had been only a feeble copy of the German, there would have been uniformity, but no duration. The tree, transplanted into Switzerland, without having taken deep root, would soon have been torn up by the vigorous hand that was erelong about to seize upon it. The regeneration of Christianity in these mountains proceeded from forces peculiar to the Helvetic Church, and received an organization in conformity with the ecclesiastical and political condition of that country. By this very originality it communicated a particular energy to the principles of the Reformation, of much greater consequence to the common cause than a servile uniformity. The strength of an army arises in great measure from its being composed of soldiers of different arms.


The military and political influence of Switzerland was declining. The new developments of the European nations, subsequent to the sixteenth century, were about to banish to their native mountains those proud Helvetians, who for so long a period had placed their two-handed swords in the balance in which the destinies of nations were weighed. The Reformation communicated a new influence in exchange[266] for that which was departing. Switzerland, where the Gospel appeared in its simplest and purest form, was destined to give in these new times to many nations of the two worlds a more salutary and glorious impulse than that which had hitherto proceeded from its halberds and its arquebuses.

The history of the Swiss Reformation is divided into three periods, in which the light of the Gospel is seen spreading successively over three different zones. From 1519 to 1526 Zurich was the centre of the Reformation, which was then entirely German, and was propagated in the eastern and northern parts of the Confederation. Between 1526 and 1532 the movement was communicated from Berne: it is at once German and French, and extended to the centre of Switzerland from the gorges of the Jura to the deepest valleys of the Alps. In 1532 Geneva became the focus of the light; and the Reformation, which was here essentially French, was established on the shores of the Leman lake, and gained strength in every quarter. It is of the second of these periods—that of Berne—of which we are now to treat.


Although the Swiss Reformation is not yet essentially French, still the most active part in it is taken by Frenchmen. Switzerland Romande[847] is yoked to the chariot of Reform, and communicates to it an accelerated motion. In the period we are about to treat of, there is a mixture of races, of forces, and of characters, from which proceeds a greater commotion. In no part of the christian world will the resistance be so stubborn; but nowhere will the assailants display so much courage. This petty country of Switzerland Romande, enclosed within the colossal arms of the Jura and the Alps, was for centuries one of the strongest fortresses of the Papacy. It is about to be carried by storm; it is going to turn its arms against its ancient masters; and from these few hillocks, scattered at the foot of the highest[267] mountains in Europe, will proceed the reiterated shocks that will overthrow, even in the most distant countries, the sanctuaries of Rome, their images and their altars.


There are two movements in the Church: one is effected inwardly, and its object is its preservation; the other is effected outwardly, and the object aimed at is its propagation. There is thus a doctrinal Church and a missionary Church. These two movements ought never to be separated, and whenever they are disunited, it is because the spirit of man, and not the spirit of God prevails. In the apostolic ages these two tendencies were evolved at the same time and with equal power. In the second and third centuries the external tendency prevailed; after the Council of Nice (325) the doctrinal movement resumed the superiority; at the epoch of the irruption of the northern tribes the missionary spirit revived; but erelong came the times of the hierarchy and of the schoolmen, in which all doctrinal powers warred within the Church to found therein despotic government and an impure doctrine—the Papacy. The revival of Christianity in the sixteenth century, which emanated from God, was destined to renovate these two doctrines, but by purifying them. Then indeed the spirit of God acted at once externally and internally. In the days of the Reformation there were tranquil and internal developments; but there was also a more powerful and aggressive action. Men of God had for ages studied the Word, and had peacefully explained its salutary lessons. Such had been the work of Vesalia, Goch, Groot, Radewin, Ruybrook, Tauler, Thomas à Kempis, and John Wessel; now, something more was required. The power of action was to be united with the power of thought. The Papacy had been allowed all necessary time for laying aside its errors; for ages men had been in expectation; it had been warned, it had been entreated; all had been unavailing. Popery being unwilling to reform itself, it became necessary for men of God to take its accomplishment upon themselves. The calm and moderate influence of the precursors of the Reform was succeeded by the heroic and holy[268] revolutionary work of the Reformers; and the revolution they effected consisted in overthrowing the usurping power to re-establish the legitimate authority. "To everything there is a season," says the Preacher, "and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to break down, and a time to build up."[848] Of all Reformers, those who carried the aggressive spirit to its highest degree were the men who came from France, and more especially Farel, whose labours we have now to consider.

Never were such mighty effects accomplished by so puny a force. In the government of God we pass in an instant from the greatest to the least of things. We now quit the haughty Charles V. and all that court of princes over which he presides, to follow the steps of a schoolmaster; and we leave the palaces of Augsburg to take our seats in the lowly cottages of Switzerland.

The Rhone, after issuing near St. Gothard from the mountains of the Furka, from beneath an immense sea of eternal ice, rolls its noisy waters through a rugged valley separating the two great chains of the Alps; then issuing from the gorge of St. Maurice, it wanders through a more smiling and fertile country. The sublime Dent du Midi on the south, the proud Dent de Morcles on the north, picturesquely situated opposite each other, point out from afar to the traveller's eye the beginning of this latter basin. On the tops of these mountains are vast glaciers and threatening peaks, near which the shepherds in the midst of summer lead their numerous flocks to pasture; while in the plain, the flowers and fruits of southern climes grow luxuriantly, and the laurel blooms beside the most exquisite grapes.


At the opening of one of the lateral valleys that lead into the Northern Alps, on the banks of the Grande Eau that falls in thunder from the glaciers of the Diablerets, is situated the small town of Aigle, one of the most southern in[269] Switzerland. For about fifty years it had belonged to Berne, with the four parishes (mandemens) which are under its jurisdiction, namely, Aigle, Bex, Ollon, and the chalets scattered in the lofty valleys of the Ormonds. It is in this country that the second epoch of the Swiss Reformation was destined to begin.

In the winter of 1526-1527, a foreign schoolmaster, named Ursinus, arrived in this humble district. He was a man of middle stature, with red beard and quick eyes, and who, to a voice of thunder (says Beza), united the feelings of a hero: his modest lessons were intermingled with new and strange doctrines. The benefices being abandoned by their titularies to ignorant curates, the people, who were naturally of rude and turbulent habits, had remained without any cultivation. Thus did this stranger, who was no other than Farel, meet with new obstacles at every step.

Whilst Lefevre and most of his friends had quitted Strasburg to re-enter France, after the deliverance of Francis I., Farel had turned his steps towards Switzerland; and on the very first day of his journey, he received a lesson that he frequently recalled to mind.

He was on foot, accompanied by a single friend. Night had closed around them, the rain fell in torrents, and the travellers, in despair of finding their road, had sat down midway, drenched with rain.[849] "Ah!" said Farel, "God, by showing me my helplessness in these little things, has willed to teach me what I am in the greatest, without Jesus Christ!" At last Farel, springing up, plunged into the marshes, waded through the waters, crossed vineyards, fields, hills, forests, and valleys, and at length reached his destination, covered with mud and soaked to the skin.


In this night of desolation, Farel had received a new baptism. His natural energy had been quelled; he became,[270] for some time at least, wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove; and, as not unfrequently happens to men of such disposition, he at first overstepped his aim. Believing that he was following the example of the Apostles, he sought, in the words of Œcolampadius, "to circumvent by pious frauds the old serpent that was hissing around him."[850] He represented himself to be a schoolmaster, and waited until a door should be opened to him to appear as a Reformer.[851]

Scarcely had Magister Ursinus quitted the schoolroom and his primers, than, taking refuge in his modest chamber, he became absorbed in the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, and the most learned treatises of the theologians. The struggle between Luther and Zwingle was commencing. To which of these two chiefs should the French Reform attach itself? Luther had been known in France for a much longer time than Zwingle; yet Farel decided in favour of the latter. Mysticism had characterized the Germanic nations during the Middle Ages, and scholasticism those of Roman descent. The French were in closer relation with the dialectician Zwingle than with the mystic Luther; or rather, they were the mediators between the two great tendencies of the Middle Ages; and, while giving to the christian thought that correct form which seems to be the province of southern nations, they became the instruments of God to spread through the Church the fulness of life and of the Spirit of Christ.


It was in this little chamber at Aigle that Farel read the first publication addressed to the German by the Swiss Reformer.[852] "With what learning," cries he, "does Zwingle scatter the darkness! with what holy ingenuity he gains over the wise, and what captivating meekness he unites with a forcible erudition! Oh, that by the grace of God this work may[271] win over Luther, so that the Church of Christ, trembling from such violent shocks, may at length find peace!"[853]

The schoolmaster Ursinus, excited by so noble an example, gradually set about instructing the parents as well as the children. He at first attacked the doctrine of purgatory, and next the invocation of Saints. "As for the Pope, he is nothing," said he, "or almost nothing, in these parts;[854] and as for the priests, provided they annoy the people with all that nonsense, which Erasmus knows so well how to turn into ridicule, that is enough for them."

Ursinus had been some months at Aigle: a door was opened to him; a flock had been collected there, and he believed the looked for moment had arrived.

Accordingly, one day the prudent schoolmaster disappears. "I am William Farel," said he, "minister of the Word of God." The terror of the priests and magistrates was great, when they saw in the midst of them that very man whose name had already become so formidable. The schoolmaster quitted his humble study; he ascended the pulpit, and openly preached Jesus Christ to the astonished multitude. The work of Ursinus was over: Farel was himself again.[855] It was then about the month of March or April, 1527, and in that beautiful valley, whose slopes were brightening in the warm rays of the sun, all was fermenting at the same time, the flowers, the vineyards, and the hearts of this sensible but rude people.

Yet the rocks that the torrent meets as it issues from the Diablerets, and against which it dashes at every step as it falls from eternal snows, are more trifling obstacles than the prejudice and hatred that were shown erelong in this populous valley to the Word of God.


The Council of Berne, by a license of the 9th of March,[272] had commissioned Farel to explain the Holy Scriptures to the people of Aigle and its neighbourhood. But the arm of the civil magistrate, by thus mingling in religious affairs, served only to increase the irritation of men's minds. The rich and lazy incumbents, the poor and ignorant curates, were the first to cry out. "If this man," said they one to another, "continues preaching, it is all over with our benefices and our Church."[856]

In the midst of this agitation, the bailiff of Aigle and the governor of the four mandemens, Jacques de Roverea, instead of supporting the minister of their excellencies of Berne, eagerly embraced the cause of the priests. "The Emperor," said they, "is about to declare war against all innovators. A great army will shortly arrive from Spain to assist the Archduke Ferdinand."[857] Farel stood firm. Upon this the bailiff and Roverea, exasperated by such boldness, interdicted the heretic from every kind of instruction, whether as minister or schoolmaster. But Berne caused to be posted on the doors of all the churches in the four mandemens a new decree, dated the 3d of July, in which their excellencies, manifesting great displeasure at this interdiction "of the very learned Farel from the propagation of the Divine Word,[858] ordered all the officers of the state to allow him to preach publicly the doctrines of the Lord."


This new proclamation was the signal of revolt. On the 25th July great crowds assembled at Aigle, at Bex, at Ollon, and in the Ormonds, crying out, "No more submission to Berne! down with Farel!" From words they soon proceeded to actions. At Aigle the insurgents, headed by the fiery syndic, tore down the edict, and prepared to fall upon the Reformed. These, uniting with promptitude, surrounded Farel, resolved to defend him. The two parties met face to face, and blood was near flowing. The firm countenance[273] of the friends of the Gospel checked the partisans of the priests, who dispersed, and Farel, quitting Aigle for a few days, carried his views farther.

In the middle of the beautiful valley of the Leman, on hills which overlook the lake, stands Lausanne, the city of the bishop and of the Virgin, placed under the patronage of the Dukes of Savoy. A host of pilgrims, assembling from all the surrounding places, knelt devoutly before the image of Our Lady, and made costly purchases at the great fair of indulgences that was held in its precincts. Lausanne, extending its episcopal crosier from its lofty towers, pretended to keep the whole country at the feet of the Pope. But the eyes of many began to be opened, thanks to the dissolute life of the canons and priests. The ministers of the Virgin were seen in public playing at games of chance, which they seasoned with mockery and blasphemy. They fought in the churches; disguised as soldiers, they descended by night from the cathedral hill, and roaming through the streets, sword in hand and in liquor, surprised, wounded, and sometimes even killed the worthy citizens; they debauched married women, seduced young girls, changed their residences into houses of ill-fame, and heartlessly turned out their young children to beg their bread.[859] Nowhere, perhaps, was better exemplified the description of the clergy given us by one of the most venerable prelates of the sixteenth century: "Instead of training up youth by their learning and holiness of life, the priests train birds and dogs; instead of books, they have children; they sit with topers in the taverns, and give way to drunkenness."[860]


Among the theologians in the court of the bishop Sebastian of Montfaucon, was Natalis Galeotto, a man of elevated rank and great urbanity, fond of the society of scholars, and himself[274] a man of learning,[861] but nevertheless very zealous about fasts and all the ordinances of the Church. Farel thought that, if this man could be gained over to the Gospel, Lausanne, "slumbering at the foot of its steeples," would perhaps awaken, and all the country with it. He therefore addressed himself to him. "Alas! alas!" said Farel, "religion is no longer but an empty mockery, since people, who think only of their appetites, are the kings of the Church. Christian people, instead of celebrating in the sacrament the death of the Lord, live as if they commemorated Mercury, the god of fraud. Instead of imitating the love of Christ, they emulate the lewdness of Venus; and when they do evil, they fear more the presence of a wretched swineherd than of God Almighty."[862]

But Galeotto made no reply, and Farel persevered, "Knock; cry out with all your might," wrote he in a second letter; "redouble your attacks upon our Lord."[863] Still there was no answer. Farel returned to the charge a third time, and Natalis, fearing to reply in person, commissioned his secretary, who forwarded a letter to Farel full of insulting language.[864] For a season Lausanne was inaccessible.

After having thus contended with a priest, Farel was destined to struggle with a monk. The two arms of the hierarchy by which the Middle Ages were governed had been chivalry and monachism. The latter still remained for the service of the Papacy, although falling into decay. "Alas!" exclaimed a celebrated Carthusian, "what an obstinate devil would fear to do, a reprobate and arrogant monk will commit without hesitation."[865]



A mendicant friar, who dared not oppose the reformer in a direct manner at Aigle, ventured into the village of Noville, situated on the low grounds deposited by the Rhone as it falls into the lake of Geneva. The friar, ascending the pulpit, exclaimed, "It is the devil himself who preaches by the mouth of the minister, and all those who listen to him will be damned." Then, taking courage, he slunk along the bank of the Rhone, and arrived at Aigle with a meek and humble look, not to appear there against Farel, whose powerful eloquence terribly alarmed him, but to beg in behalf of his convent a few barrels of the most exquisite wine in all Switzerland. He had not advanced many steps into the town before he met the minister. At this sight he trembled in every limb. "Why did you preach in such a manner at Noville?" demanded Farel. The monk, fearful that the dispute would attract public attention, and yet desirous of replying to the point, whispered in his ear, "I have heard say, that you are a heretic and misleader of the people." "Prove it," said Farel. Then the monk "began to storm," says Farel,[866] and, hastening down the street, endeavoured to shake off his disagreeable companion, "turning now this way, now that, like a troubled conscience."[867] A few citizens beginning to collect around them, Farel said to them, pointing to the monk, "You see this fine father; he has said from the pulpit that I preach nothing but lies." Then the monk, blushing and stammering, began to speak of the offerings of the faithful (the precious wine of Yvorne, for which he had come begging), and accused Farel of opposing them. The crowd had now increased in number, and Farel, who only sought an opportunity of proclaiming the true worship of God, exclaimed, with a loud voice, "It is no man's business to ordain any other way of serving God than that which He has commanded. We must keep his commandments without turning[276] either to the right hand or to the left.[868] Let us worship God alone in spirit and in truth, offering to him a broken and a contrite heart."

The eyes of all the spectators were fixed on the two actors in this scene, the monk with his wallet, and the reformer with his glistening eye. Confounded by Farel's daring to speak of any other worship than that which the holy Roman Church prescribed, the friar was out of his senses; he trembled, and was agitated, becoming pale and red by turns. At last, taking his cap off his head, from under his hood, he flung it on the ground, trampling it under foot, and crying: "I am amazed that the earth does not gape and swallow us up!"[869]......Farel wished to reply, but in vain. The friar with downcast eyes kept stamping on his cap, "bawling out like one out of his wits:" and his cries resounding through the streets of Aigle, drowned the voice of the reformer. At length one of the spectators, who stood beside him, plucked him by the sleeve, and said, "listen to the minister, as he is listening to you." The affrighted monk, believing himself already half-dead, started violently and cried out: "Oh, thou excommunicate! layest thou thy hand upon me?"

The little town was in an uproar; the friar at once furious and trembling, Farel following up his attack with vigour, and the people in confusion and amazement. At length the magistrate appeared, ordered the monk and Farel to follow him, and shut them up, "one in one tower and one in another."[870]

On the Saturday morning Farel was liberated from his prison, and conducted to the castle before the officers of justice, where the monk was already present. The minister[277] began to address them: "My lords, to whom our Saviour enjoins obedience without any exception, this friar has said that the doctrine which I preach is against God. Let him make good his words, or, if he cannot, permit your people to be edified." The violence of the monk was over. The tribunal before which he was standing, the courage of his adversary, the power of the movement which he could not resist, the weakness of his cause—all alarmed him, and he was now ready to make matters up. "Then the friar fell upon his knees, saying: My lords, I entreat forgiveness of you and of God. Next turning to Farel: And also, Magister, what I preached against you was grounded on false reports. I have found you to be a good man, and your doctrine good, and I am prepared to recall my words."[871]

Farel was touched by this appeal, and said: "My friend, do not ask forgiveness of me, for I am a poor sinner like other men, putting my trust not in my own righteousness, but in the death of Jesus."[872]

One of the lords of Berne coming up at this time, the friar, who already imagined himself on the brink of martyrdom, began to wring his hands, and to turn now towards the Bernese councillors, now towards the tribunal, and then to Farel, crying, "Pardon, pardon!"—"Ask pardon of our Saviour," replied Farel. The lord of Berne added: "Come to-morrow and hear the minister's sermon; if he appears to you to preach the truth, you shall confess it openly before all; if not, you will declare your opinion: this promise in my hand." The monk held out his hand, and the judges retired. "Then the friar went away, and I have not seen him since, and no promises or oaths were able to make him stay."[873] Thus the Reformation advanced in Switzerland Romande.



But violent storms threatened to destroy the work that was hardly begun. Romish agents from the Valais and from Savoy had crossed the Rhone at St. Maurice, and were exciting the people to energetic resistance. Tumultuous assemblages took place, in which dangerous projects were discussed; the proclamations of the government were torn down from the church-doors; troops of citizens paraded the city; the drum beat in the streets to excite the populace against the reformer: everywhere prevailed riot and sedition. Thus on the 16th February, Farel ascended the pulpit for the first time after a short absence, some Papist bands collected round the gate of the church, raised their hands in tumult, uttered savage cries, and compelled the minister to break off in his sermon.


The council of Berne thereupon decreed that the parishioners of the four mandemens should assemble. Those of Bex declared for the Reform; Aigle followed their example, but with indecision; and in the mountains above Ollon, the peasants not daring to maltreat Farel, set their wives at him, who rushed upon him with their fulling-clubs. But it was especially the parish of the Ormonds which, calm and proud at the foot of its glaciers, signalized itself by its resistance. A companion of Farel's labourers, named Claude (probably Claude de Glontinis), when preaching there one day with great animation, was suddenly interrupted by the ringing of the bells, whose noise was such that one might have said all hell was busy pulling them. "In fact," says another herald of the Gospel, Jacques Comralis, who chanced to be present, "it was Satan himself, who, breathing his anger into some of his agents, filled the ears of the auditors with all this uproar."[874] At another time, some zealous Reformers having thrown down the altars of Baal, according to the language of the times, the evil spirit began to blow with violence in all the chalets scattered over the sides of the mountains; the shepherds issued precipitously like avalanches, and fell upon[279] the Church and the Reformers. "Let us only find these sacrilegious wretches," cried the furious Ormondines; "we will hang them,—we will cut off their heads,—we will burn them,—we will throw their ashes into the Great Water."[875] Thus were these mountaineers agitated, like the wind that roars in their lofty valleys with a fury unknown to the inhabitants of the plains.

Other difficulties overwhelmed Farel. His fellow-labourers were not all of them blameless. One Christopher Ballista, formerly a monk of Paris, had written to Zwingle: "I am but a Gaul, a barbarian,[876] but you will find me a man pure as snow, without any guile, of open heart, through whose windows all the world may see."[877] Zwingle sent Ballista to Farel, who was loudly calling for labourers in Christ's vineyard. The fine language of the Parisian at first charmed the multitude; but it was soon found necessary to beware of these priests and monks disgusted with Popery. "Brought up in the slothfulness of the cloister, gluttonous and lazy," says Farel, "Ballista could not conform to the abstemiousness and rude labours of the Evangelists, and soon began to regret his monk's hood. When he perceived the people beginning to distrust him, he became like a furious monster, vomiting waggon-loads of threats."[878] Thus ended his labours.


Notwithstanding all these trials, Farel was not discouraged. The greater the difficulties, the more his energy increased. "Let us scatter the seed everywhere," said he, "and let civilized France, provoked to jealousy by this barbarous nation, embrace piety at last. Let there not be in Christ's body either fingers, or hands, or feet, or eyes, or ears, or arms,[280] existing separately and working each for itself, but let there be only one heart that nothing can divide. Let not variety in secondary things divide into many separate members that vital principle which is one and simple.[879] Alas! the pastures of the Church are trodden under foot, and its waters are troubled! Let us set our minds to concord and peace. When the Lord shall have opened heaven, there will not be so many disputes about bread and water.[880] A fervent charity—that is the powerful battering-ram with which we shall beat down those proud walls, those material elements, with which men would confine us."[881]

Thus wrote the most impetuous of the Reformers. These words of Farel, preserved for three centuries in the city where he died, disclose to us more clearly the intimate nature of the great Revolution of the sixteenth century, than all the venturesome assertions of its Popish interpreters. Christian unity thus from these earliest moments found a zealous apostle. The nineteenth century is called to resume the work which the sixteenth century was unable to accomplish.


II. Of all the Swiss cantons, Berne appeared the least disposed to the Reformation. A military state may be zealous for religion, but it will be for an external and a disciplined religion; it requires an ecclesiastical organization that it can see, and touch, and manage at its will. It fears the innovations and the free movements of the Word of God: it loves the form and not the life. Napoleon, by restoring religion in France in the Concordat, has given us a memorable example of this truth. Such, also, was the case with Berne. Its[281] government, besides, was absorbed by political interests, and although it had little regard for the Pope, it cared still less to see a Reformer put himself, as Zwingle did, at the head of public affairs. As for the people, feasting on the "butter of their kine and milk of their sheep, with fat of lambs,"[882] they remained closely shut up within the narrow circle of their material wants. Religious questions were not to the taste either of the rulers or of their fellow-citizens.

The Bernese government, being without experience in religious matters, had proposed to check the movement of the Reform by its edict of 1523. As soon as it discovered its mistake, it moved towards the cantons that adhered to the ancient faith; and while that portion of the people whence the Great Council was recruited, listened to the voice of the Reformers, most of the patrician families, who composed the Smaller Council, believing their power, their interests, and their honor menaced, attached themselves to the old order of things. From this opposition of the two councils there arose a general uneasiness, but no violent shocks. Sudden movements, repeated starts, announced from time to time that incongruous matters were fermenting in the nation; it was like an indistinct earthquake, which raises the whole surface without causing any rents: then anon all returns to apparent tranquillity.[883] Berne, which was always decided in its politics, turned in religious matters at one time to the right, and at another to the left; and declared that it would be neither Popish nor Reformed. To gain time was, for the new faith, to gain everything.


What was done to turn aside Berne from the Reformation, was the very cause of precipitating it into the new way. The haughtiness with which the five primitive cantons arrogated the guardianship of their confederates, the secret conferences to which Berne was not even invited, and the threat of addressing the people in a direct manner, deeply offended[282] the Bernese oligarchs. Thomas Murner, a Carmelite of Lucerne, one of those rude men who act upon the populace, but who inspire disgust in elevated minds, made the cup run over. Furious against the Zurich calendar, in which the names of the saints had been purposely omitted, he published in opposition to it the "Almanack of Heretics and Church-robbers," a tract filled with lampoons and invectives, in which the portraits of the Reformers and of their adherents, among whom were many of the most considerable men of Berne, were coupled with the most brutal inscriptions.[884] Zurich and Berne in conjunction demanded satisfaction, and from this time the union of these two states daily became closer.

This change was soon perceived at Berne. The elections of 1527 placed a considerable number of friends of the Reform in the Great Council; and this body, forthwith resuming its right to nominate the members of the Smaller Council, which had been usurped for twenty years by the Bannerets and the Sixteen, removed from the government the most decided partisans of the Roman hierarchy, and among others Gaspard de Mulinen and Sebastian de Stein,[885] and filled the vacancies with members of the Evangelical majority. The union of Church and State, which had hitherto checked the progress of the Reform in Switzerland, was now about to accelerate its movements.


The Reformer Haller was not alone in Berne. Kolb had quitted the Carthusian monastery at Nuremberg, in which he had been compelled to take refuge, and had appeared before his compatriots, demanding no other stipend than the liberty of preaching Jesus Christ. Already bending under the weight of years, his head crowned with hoary locks, Kolb, young in heart, full of fire, and of indomitable courage, presented boldly before the chiefs of the nation that Gospel[283] which had saved him. Haller, on the contrary, although only thirty-five years old, moved with a measured step, spoke with gravity, and proclaimed the new doctrines with unusual circumspection. The old man had taken the young man's part, and the youth that of the graybeard.

Zwingle, whose eye nothing escaped, saw that a favourable hour for Berne was coming, and immediately gave the signal. "The dove commissioned to examine the state of the waters is returning with an olive-branch into the ark," wrote he to Haller; "come forth now, thou second Noah, and take possession of the land. Enforce, be earnest, and fix deeply in the hearts of men the hooks and grapnels of the Word of God, so that they can never again be rid of them."[886]—"Your bears," wrote he to Thomas ab Hofen, "have again put forth their claws. Please God that they do not draw them back until they have torn everything in pieces that opposes Jesus Christ."


Haller and his friends were on the point of replying to this appeal, when their situation became complicated. Some Anabaptists, who formed everywhere the extreme party, arriving in Berne in 1527, led away the people from the Evangelical preachers "on account of the presence of idols."[887] Haller had a useless conference with them. "To what dangers is not Christianity exposed," cried he, "wherever these furies have crept in!"[888] There has never been any revival in the Church, without the hierarchical or radical sects immediately endeavouring to disturb it. Haller, although alarmed, still maintained his unalterable meekness. "The magistrates are desirous of banishing them," said he; "but it is our duty to drive out their errors, and not their persons. Let us employ no other weapons than the sword of the[284] Spirit."[889] It was not from Popery that the Reformers had learnt these principles. A public disputation took place. Six Anabaptists declared themselves convinced, and two others were sent out of the country.

The decisive moment was drawing near. The two great powers of the age, the Gospel and the Papacy, were stirring with equal energy; the Bernese councils were to speak out. They saw on the one hand the five primitive cantons taking daily a more threatening attitude, and announcing that the Austrian would soon reappear in Helvetia, to reduce it once more into subjection to Rome; and on the other they beheld the Gospel every day gaining ground in the Confederation. Which was destined to prevail in Switzerland—the lances of Austria or the Word of God? In the uncertainty in which the councils were placed, they resolved to side with the majority. Where could they discover a firm footing, if not there? Vox populi, vox Dei. "No one," said they, "can make any change of his own private authority: the consent of all is necessary."[890]

The government of Berne had to decide between two mandates, both emanating from its authority: that of 1523, in favour of the free preaching of the Gospel, and that of 1526, in favour "of the sacraments, the saints, the mother of God, and the ornaments of the churches." State messengers set out and traversed every parish: the people gave their votes against every law contrary to liberty, and the councils, supported by the nation, decreed that "the Word of God should be preached publicly and freely, even if it should be in opposition to the statutes and doctrines of men." Such was the victory of the Gospel and of the people over the oligarchy and the priests.


Contentions immediately arose throughout the canton, and every parish became a battle-field. The peasants began to dispute with the priests and monks, in reliance on the Holy[285] Scriptures. "If the mandate of our lords," said many, "accords to our pastors the liberty of preaching, why should it not grant the flock the liberty of acting?"—"Peace, peace!" cried the councils, alarmed at their own boldness. But the flocks resolutely declared that they would send away the Mass, and keep their pastors and the Bible.[891] Upon this the Papal partisans grew violent. "Heretics, rascals, wantons," said the banneret Kuttler[892] to the good people of Emmenthal; and these peasants obliged him to make an apology. The bailiff of Trachselwald was more cunning. Seeing the inhabitants of Rudersweil listening with eagerness to the Word of God, which a pious minister was preaching to them, he came with fifers and trumpeters, and interrupted the sermon, inviting the village girls by words and by lively tunes to quit the church for the dance.

These singular provocations did not check the Reform. Six of the city companies (the shoe-makers, weavers, merchants, bakers, stone-masons, and carpenters) abolished in the churches and convents of their district all masses, anniversaries, advowsons, and prebends. Three others (the tanners, smiths, and tailors) prepared to imitate them;[893] the seven remaining companies were undecided, except the butchers, who were enthusiasts for the Pope. Thus the majority of the citizens had embraced the Gospel. Many parishes throughout the canton had done the same; and the avoyer d'Erlach, the great adversary of the Reformation, could no longer keep the torrent within bounds.


Yet the attempt was made: the bailiffs were ordered to note the irregularities and dissolute lives of the monks and nuns; all women of loose morals were even turned out of the cloisters.[894] But it was not against these abuses alone that the Reformation was levelled; it was against the institutions[286] themselves, and against Popery on which they were founded. The people must therefore decide.—"The Bernese clergy," said they, "must be convoked, as at Zurich, and let the two doctrines be discussed in a solemn conference. We will proceed afterwards in conformity with the result."

On the Sunday following the festival of Saint Martin (11th November), the council and citizens unanimously resolved that a public disputation should take place at the beginning of the succeeding year. "The glory of God and his Word," said they, "will at length appear!" Bernese and strangers, priests and laymen, all were invited by letter or by printed notice to come and discuss the controverted points, but by Scripture alone, without the glosses of the ancients, and renouncing all subtleties and abusive language.[895] Who knows, said they, if all the members of the ancient Swiss confederation may not be thus brought to unity of faith?

Thus, within the walls of Berne, the struggle was about to take place that would decide the fate of Switzerland; for the example of the Bernese must necessarily lead with it a great part of the Confederation.


The Five Cantons, alarmed at this intelligence, met at Lucerne, when they were joined by Fribourg, Soleure and Glaris. There was nothing either in the letter or in the spirit of the federal compact to obstruct religious liberty. "Every state," said Zurich, "is free to choose the doctrine that it desires to profess." The Waldstettes,[896] on the contrary, wished to deprive the cantons of this independence, and to subject them to the federal majority and to the Pope. They protested, therefore, in the name of the confederation against the proposed discussion. "Your ministers," wrote they to Berne, "dazzled and confounded at Baden by the brightness of truth, would desire by this new discussion to hide their shame; but we entreat you to desist from a plan so contrary[287] to our ancient alliances."—"It is not we who have infringed them," replied Berne; "it is much rather your haughty missive that has destroyed them. We will not abandon the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ." Upon this the Roman cantons decided to refuse all safe-conduct to those who should proceed to Berne. This was giving token of sinister intentions.

The four bishops of Lausanne, Constance, Basle, and Sion, being invited to the conference under pain of forfeiting all their privileges in the canton of Berne, replied that, since it was to be a disputation according to the Scriptures, they had nothing to do with it. Thus did these priests forget the words of one of the most illustrious Roman doctors of the fifteenth century: "In heavenly things man should be independent of his fellows, and trust in God alone."[897]

The Romanist doctors followed the example of the bishops. Eck, Murner, Cochlœus, and many others said everywhere: "We have received the letter of this leper, of this accursed heretic Zwingle.[898] They want to take the Bible for their judge; but has the Bible a voice against those who do it violence? We will not go to Berne; we will not crawl into that obscure corner of the world; we will not go and combat in that gloomy cavern, in that school of heretics. Let these villains come out into the open air, and contend with us on level ground, if they have the Bible on their side, as they say." The Emperor ordered the discussion to be adjourned; but on the very day of its opening, the council of Berne replied, that as every one was already assembled, delay was impossible.


Then, in despite of the doctors and bishops, the Helvetic Church assembled to decide upon its doctrines. Had it a right to do so? No;—not if priests and bishops were appointed, as Rome pretends, to form a mystic bond between the Church and our Lord; Yes—if they were established, as[288] the Bible declares, only to satisfy that law of order by virtue of which all society should have a directing power. The opinions of the Swiss Reformers in this respect were not doubtful. The grace which creates the minister comes from the Lord, thought they; but the Church examines this grace, acknowledges it, proclaims it by the elders, and in every act in which faith is concerned, it can always appeal from the minister to the Word of God. Try the spirits—prove all things, it says to the faithful. The Church is the judge of controversies;[899] and it is this duty, in which it should never be found wanting, that it was now about to fulfil in the disputation at Berne.

The contest seemed unequal. On one side appeared the Roman hierarchy, a giant which had increased in strength during many centuries; and on the other, there was at first but one weak and timid man, the modest Berthold Haller. "I cannot wield the sword of the Word," said he in alarm to his friends. "If you do not stretch out your hands to me, all is over." He then threw himself trembling at the feet of the Lord, and soon arose enlightened and exclaiming, "Faith in the Saviour gives me courage, and scatters all my fears."[900]

Yet he could not remain alone: all his looks were turned towards Zwingle: "It was I who took the bath at Baden," wrote Œcolampadius to Haller, "and now it is Zwingle who should lead off the bear-dance in Berne."[901]—"We are between the hammer and the anvil," wrote Haller to Zwingle; "we hold the wolf by the ears, and know not how to let him go.[902] The houses of De Watteville, Noll, Tremp, and Berthold are open to you. Come, then, and command the battle in person."


Zwingle did not hesitate. He demanded permission of the[289] Council of Zurich to visit Berne, in order to show there "that his teaching was full of the fear of God, and not blasphemous; mighty to spread concord through Switzerland, and not to cause troubles and dissension."[903] At the very time that Haller received news of Zwingle's coming, Œcolampadius wrote to him: "I am ready, if it be necessary, to sacrifice my life. Let us inaugurate the new year by embracing one another to the glory of Jesus Christ." Other doctors wrote to the same effect. "These, then," cried Haller with emotion, "these are the auxiliaries that the Lord sends to my infirmity, to aid me in fighting this rude battle!"

It was necessary to proceed with circumspection, for the violence of the oligarchs and of the Five Cantons was well known.[904] The doctors of Glaris, Schaffhausen, St. Gall, Constance, Ulm, Lindau and Augsburg, assembled at Zurich, to proceed under the same escort as Zwingle, Pellican, Collin, Megander, Grossman, the commander Schmidt, Bullinger, and a great number of the rural clergy, selected to accompany the reformer. "When all this game traverses the country," said the pensioners, "we will go a-hunting, and see if we cannot kill some, or at least catch them and put them into a cage."

Three hundred chosen men, selected from the companies of Zurich and from the parishes within its precincts, donned their breastplates and shouldered their arquebuses; but in order not to give the journey of these doctors the appearance of a military expedition, they took neither colours, fife, nor drum; and the trumpeter of the city, a civil officer, rode alone at the head of the company.


On Tuesday the 2d of January they set out. Never had Zwingle appeared more cheerful. "Glory be to the Lord," said he, "my courage increases every day."[905] The burgomaster[290] Roust, the town-clerk of Mangoldt, with Funck and Jaëkli, both masters of arts, and all four delegated by the council, were on horseback near him. They reached Berne on the 4th of January, having had only one or two unimportant alarms.

The Cordeliers' Church was to serve as the place of conference. Tillmann, the city architect, had made arrangements according to a plan furnished by Zwingle.[906] A large platform had been erected on which were placed two tables, and around them sat the champions of the two parties. On the evangelical side were remarked, besides Haller, Zwingle, and Œcolampadius, many distinguished men of the Reformed Church, strangers to Switzerland, as Bucer, Capito, and Ambrose Blarer. On the side of the papacy, Dr. Treger of Friburg, who enjoyed a high reputation, appeared to keep up the fire of the combat. As for the rest, whether through fear or contempt, the most famous Roman doctors were absent.

The first act was to publish the regulations of the conference. "No proof shall be proposed that is not drawn from the Holy Scriptures, and no explanation shall be given of those scriptures, that does not come from Scripture itself, explaining obscure texts by such as are clear." After this, one of the secretaries, rising to call over the roll, shouted with a loud voice that re-echoed through the church,—The Bishop of Constance! No one replied. He did the same for the bishops of Zion, Basle, and Lausanne. Neither of these prelates was present at this meeting, either in person or by deputy. The Word of God being destined to reign alone, the Roman hierarchy did not appear. These two powers cannot walk together. There were present about three hundred and fifty Swiss and German ecclesiastics.


On Tuesday, 7th January, 1528, the burgomaster Vadianus, of St. Gall, one of the presidents, opened the disputation. After him the aged Kolb stood up, and said: "God is at[291] this moment agitating the whole world, let us, therefore, humble ourselves before him," and he pronounced with fervour a confession of sins.

When this was done, the first thesis was read. It was thus drawn up. "The Holy Christian Church, of which Christ is the sole head, is born of the Word of God, abideth in it, and listeneth not to the voice of a stranger."

Alexis Grat, a Dominican monk,—"The word sole is not in Scripture. Christ has left a vicar here below."

Haller.—"The vicar that Christ left is the Holy Ghost."

Treger.—"See then to what a pass things have come these last ten years. This man calls himself a Lutheran, that a Zwinglian; a third, a Carlstadtian; a fourth an Œcolampadist; a fifth, an Anabaptist......"

Bucer.—"Whosoever preacheth Jesus as the only Saviour, we recognize as our brother. Neither Luther, nor Zwingle, nor Œcolampadius, desires the faithful to bear his name. Besides, you should not boast so much of a mere external unity. When antichrist gained the upperhand throughout the world, in the East by Mahomet, in the West by the Pope, he was able to keep the people in unity of error. God permits divisions, in order that those who belong to him may learn to look not to men, but to the testimony of the Word, and to the assurance of the Holy Ghost in their hearts. Thus then, dearly beloved brethren, to the Scriptures, the Scriptures![907] O Church of Berne, hold fast to the teaching of Him who said, Come unto me, and not, Come unto my vicar!"

The disputation then turned successively on Tradition, the Merits of Christ, Transubstantiation, the Mass, Prayer to the Saints, Purgatory, Images, Celibacy, and the Disorders of the Clergy. Rome found numerous defenders, and among others, Murer, priest of Rapperswyl, who had said: "If they wish to burn the two ministers of Berne, I will undertake to carry them both to the stake."


On Sunday, the 19th of January the day on which the[292] doctrine of the Mass was attacked, Zwingle, desirous of acting on the people also, went into the pulpit, and reciting the Apostles' Creed, made a pause after these words: "He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." "These three articles," said he, "are in contradiction to the Mass." All his hearers redoubled their attention; and a priest, clothed in his sacerdotal vestments; who was preparing to celebrate the holy sacrifice in one of the chapels, stopped in astonishment at Zwingle's words. Erect before the consecrated altar on which lay the chalice and the body of the Saviour, with eyes fixed upon the reformer, whose words electrified the people, a prey to the most violent struggles, and beaten down by the weight of truth, the agitated priest resolved to sacrifice every thing for it. In the presence of the whole assembly, he stripped off his priestly ornaments, and throwing them on the altar, he exclaimed: "Unless the Mass reposes on a more solid foundation, I can celebrate it no longer!" The noise of this conversion, effected at the very foot of the altar, immediately spread through the city,[908] and it was regarded as an important omen. So long as the Mass remains, Rome has gained everything: as soon as the Mass falls, Rome has lost all. The Mass is the creative principle of the whole system of Popery.


Three days later, on the 22d January, was the feast of St. Vincent, the patron of the city. The disputation that had been carried on during Sunday was suspended on that day. The canons asked the council what they were to do. "Such of you," replied the council, "as receive the doctrine of the theses ought not to say Mass; the others may perform divine worship as usual."[909] Every preparation was accordingly[293] made for the solemnity. On St. Vincent's eve the bells from every steeple announced the festival to the inhabitants of Berne. On the morrow the sacristans lit up the tapers; incense filled the temple, but no one appeared. No priests to say Mass, no faithful to hear it! Already there was a vast chasm in the Roman sanctuary, a deep silence, as on the field of battle, where none but the dead are lying.

In the evening it was the custom for the canons to chaunt vespers with great pomp. The organist was at his post, but no one else appeared. The poor man left thus alone, beholding with sorrow the fall of that worship by which he gained his bread, gave utterance to his grief by playing a mourning-hymn instead of the majestic Magnificat: "Oh, wretched Judas, what hast thou done, that thou hast thus betrayed our Lord?" After this sad farewell, he rose and went out. Almost immediately, some men, excited by the passions of the moment, fell upon his beloved organ, an accomplice in their eyes of so many superstitious rites, and their violent hands broke it to pieces. No more Mass, no more organ, no more anthems! A new Supper and new hymns shall succeed the rites of Popery.

On the next day there was the same silence. Suddenly, however, a band of men with loud voices and hasty steps was heard. It was the Butchers' Company that, at this moment so fatal to Rome, desired to support it. They advanced, carrying small fir-trees and green branches, for the decoration of their chapel. In the midst of them was a foreign priest, behind whom walked a few poor scholars. The priest officiated; the sweet voices of the scholars supplied the place of the mute organ, and the butchers retired proud of their victory.


The discussion was drawing to a close: the combatants had[294] dealt vigorous blows. Burgauer, pastor of St. Gall, had maintained the real presence in the Host; but on the 19th January he declared himself convinced by the reasonings of Zwingle, Œcolampadius, and Bucer; and Matthias, minister of Saengen, had done the same.

A conference in Latin afterwards took place between Farel and a Parisian doctor. The latter advanced a strange argument. "Christians," said he, "are enjoined to obey the devil;[910] for it is said, Submit unto thine adversary (Matt. v. 25); now, our adversary is the devil. How much more, then, should we submit to the Church!" Loud bursts of laughter greeted this remarkable syllogism. A discussion with the Anabaptists terminated the conference.

The two councils decreed that the Mass should be abolished, and that every one might remove from the churches the ornaments he had placed there.

Immediately twenty-five altars and a great number of images were destroyed in the cathedral, yet without disorder or bloodshed; and the children began to sing in the streets (as Luther informs us):[911]

By the Word at length we're saved
From a God in a mortar brayed.

The hearts of the adherents of the Papacy were filled with bitterness as they heard the objects of their adoration fall one after another. "Should any man," said John Schneider, "take away the altar of the Butchers' Company, I will take away his life." Peter Thorman compared the cathedral stripped of its ornaments to a stable. "When the good folks of the Oberland come to market," added he, "they will be happy to put up their cattle in it." And John Zehender, member of the Great Council, to show the little value he set on such a place of worship, entered it riding on an ass, insulting[295] and cursing the Reform. A Bernese, who chanced to be there, having said to him, "It is by God's will that these images have been pulled down,"—"Say rather by the devil's," replied Zehender; "when have you ever been with God so as to learn his will?" He was fined twenty livres, and expelled from the council.[912] "What times! what manners!" exclaimed many; "what culpable neglect! How easy would it have been to prevent so great a misfortune! Oh! if our bishops had only been willing to occupy themselves more with learning and a little less with their mistresses!"[913]

This Reform was necessary. When Christianity in the fourth century had seen the favour of princes succeed to persecution, a crowd of heathens rushing into the church had brought with them the images, pomps, statues, and demigods of Paganism, and a likeness of the mysteries of Greece and Asia, and above all of Egypt, had banished the Word of Jesus Christ from the Christian oratories. This Word returning in the sixteenth century, a purification must necessarily take place; but it could not be done without grievous rents.


The departure of the strangers was drawing near. On the 28th January, the day after that on which the images and altars had been thrown down, while their piled fragments still encumbered here and there the porches and the aisles of the cathedral, Zwingle crossing these eloquent ruins, once more ascended the pulpit in the midst of an immense crowd. In great emotion, directing his eyes by turns on these fragments and on the people, he said: "Victory has declared for the truth, but perseverance alone can complete the triumph. Christ persevered even until death. Ferendo vincitur fortuna. Cornelius Scipio, after the disaster at Cannæ, having learnt that the generals surviving the slaughter meditated quitting Italy, entered the senate-house, although not yet of senatorial[296] age, drew his sword, and constrained the affrighted chiefs to swear that they would not abandon Rome. Citizens of Berne, to you I address the same demand: do not abandon Jesus Christ."

We may easily imagine the effect produced on the people by such words, pronounced with Zwingle's energetic eloquence.

Then, turning towards the fragments that lay near him: "Behold," said he, "behold these idols! Behold them conquered, mute, and shattered before us! These corpses must be dragged to the shambles, and the gold you have spent upon these foolish images must henceforward be devoted to comforting in their misery the living images of God. Feeble souls, ye shed tears over these sad idols; do ye not see that they break, do ye not hear that they crack like any other wood, or like any other stone? Look! here is one deprived of its head......(Zwingle pointed to the image, and all the people fixed their eyes upon it); here is another maimed of its arms.[914] If this ill usage had done any harm to the saints that are in heaven, and if they had the power ascribed to them, would you have been able, I pray, to cut off their arms and their heads?"

"Now then," said the powerful orator in conclusion, "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Gal. v. 1). Fear not! That God who has enlightened you, will enlighten your confederates also, and Switzerland, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, shall flourish in righteousness and peace."


The words of Zwingle were not lost. The mercy of God called forth that of man. Some persons condemned to die for sedition, were pardoned, and all the exiles were recalled. "Should we not have done so," said the council, "had a great prince visited us? Shall we not much more do so, now that the King of kings and the Redeemer of our souls[297] has made his entry among us, bearing an everlasting amnesty?"[915]

The Romish cantons, exasperated at the result of the discussion, sought to harass the return of the doctors. On arriving before Bremgarten, they found the gates closed. The bailiff Schutz, who had accompanied them with two hundred men-at-arms, placed two halberdiers before Zwingle's horse, two behind him, and one on each side; then putting himself at the Reformer's left hand, while the burgomaster Roust stationed himself on the right, he ordered the escort to proceed, lance in rest.[916] The avoyers of the town being intimidated, came to a parley; the gates were opened; the escort traversed Bremgarten amidst an immense crowd, and on the 1st February reached Zurich without accident, which Zwingle re-entered, says Luther, like a conqueror.[917]

The Roman-catholic party did not dissemble the check they had received. "Our cause is falling," said the friends of Rome.[918] "Oh! that we had had men skilled in the Bible! The impetuosity of Zwingle supported our adversaries; his ardour was never relaxed. That brute has more knowledge than was imagined.[919] Alas! alas! the greater party has vanquished the better."[920]

The Council of Berne, desirous of separating from the Pope, relied upon the people. On the 30th January, messengers going from house to house convoked the citizens; and on the 2d February, the burgesses and inhabitants, masters and servants, uniting in the cathedral, and forming but one family, with hands upraised to heaven, swore to defend the two councils in all they should undertake for the good of the State or of the Church.


[298]On the 7th February 1528, the council published a general edict of Reform, and "threw for ever from the necks of the Bernese the yoke of the four bishops, who," said they, "know well how to shear their sheep, but not how to feed them."[921]

At the same time the Reformed doctrines were spreading among the people. In every quarter might be heard earnest and keen dialogues, written in rhyme by Manuel, in which the pale and expiring Mass, stretched on her deathbed, was loudly calling for all her physicians, and finding their advice useless, at last dictating with a broken voice her last will and testament, which the people received with loud bursts of laughter.

The Reformation generally, and that of Berne in particular, has been reproached as being brought about by political motives. But, on the contrary, Berne, which of all the Helvetic states was the greatest favourite of the court of Rome—which had in its canton neither a bishop to dismiss nor a powerful clergy to humiliate—Berne, whose most influential families, the Weingartens, Manuels, Mays, were reluctant to sacrifice the pay and the service of the foreigner, and all whose traditions were conservative, ought to have opposed the movement. The Word of God was the power that overcame this political tendency.[922]


At Berne, as elsewhere, it was neither a learned, nor a democratic, nor a sectarian spirit that gave birth to the Reformation. Undoubtedly the men of letters, the liberals, the sectarian enthusiasts, rushed into the great struggle of the sixteenth century; but the duration of the Reform would not have been long had it received its life from them. The primitive strength of Christianity, reviving after ages of long and complete prostration, was the creative principle of the Reformation; and it was erelong seen to separate distinctly from the false allies that had presented themselves, to reject an incredulous learning by elevating the study of the classics, to check all demagogic anarchy by upholding the[299] principles of true liberty, and to repudiate the enthusiastic sects by consecrating the rights of the Word and of the christian people.

But while we maintain that the Reformation was at Berne, as elsewhere, a truly christian work, we are far from saying that it was not useful to the canton in a political sense. All the European states that have embraced the Reformation have been elevated, while those which have combated it have been lowered.

III. It now became a question of propagating throughout all the canton the reform accomplished in the city. On the 17th February, the council invited the rural parishes to assemble on the following Sunday to receive and deliberate upon a communication. The whole Church, according to the ancient usage of Christendom, was about to decide for itself on its dearest interests.

The assemblies were crowded; all conditions and ages were present. Beside the hoary and the trembling head of the aged man might be seen the sparkling eye of the youthful shepherd. The messengers of the council first read the edict of the Reformation. They next proclaimed that those who accepted it should remain, and that those who rejected it should withdraw.

Almost all the assembled parishioners remained in their places. An immense majority of the people chose the Bible. In some few parishes this decision was accompanied with energetic demonstrations. At Arberg, Zofingen, Brugg, Arau, and Buren, the images were burnt. "At Stauffberg," it was said, "idols were seen carrying idols, and throwing one another into the flames."[923]


The images and the Mass had disappeared from this vast[300] canton. "A great cry resounded far and wide," writes Bullinger.[924] In one day Rome had fallen throughout the country, without treachery, violence, or seduction, by the strength of truth alone. In some places, however, in the Hasli, at Frutigen, Unterseen, and Grindelwald, the malcontents were heard to say: "If they abolish the Mass, they should also abolish tithes." The Roman form of worship was preserved in the Upper Simmenthal, a proof that there was no compulsion on the part of the state.

The wishes of the canton being thus manifested, Berne completed the Reformation. All excesses in gambling, drinking, and dancing, and all unbecoming dress, were forbidden by proclamation. The houses of ill-fame were destroyed, and their wretched inhabitants expelled from the city.[925] A consistory was appointed to watch over the public morals.

Seven days after the edict, the poor were received into the Dominican cloister, and a little later the convent of the Island was changed into an hospital; the princely monastery of Königsfield was also devoted to the same useful purpose. Charity followed everywhere in the steps of faith. "We will show," said the council, "that we do not use the property of the convents to our own advantage;" and they kept their word. The poor were clothed with the priests' garments; the orphans were decorated with the ornaments of the Church. So strict were they in these distributions, that the state was forced to borrow money to pay the annuities of the monks and nuns; and for eight days there was not a crown in the public treasury.[926] Thus it was that the State, as it has been continually repeated, grew rich with the spoils of the Church! At the same time they invited from Zurich the ministers Hoffmeister, Megander, and Rhellican, to spread[301] throughout the canton the knowledge of the classics and of the Holy Scriptures.


At Easter the Lord's Supper was celebrated for the first time according to the Evangelical rites. The two councils and all the people, with few exceptions, partook of it. Strangers were struck with the solemnity of this first communion. The citizens of Berne and their wives, dressed in decent garments, which recalled the ancient Swiss simplicity, approached Christ's table with gravity and fervour;[927] the heads of the state showed the same holy devotion as the people, and piously received the bread from the hands of Berthold Haller. Each one felt that the Lord was among them. Thus Hoffmeister, charmed at this solemn service, exclaimed: "How can the adversaries of the Word refuse to embrace the truth at last, seeing that God himself renders it so striking a testimony!"[928]

Yet everything was not changed. The friends of the Gospel witnessed with pain the sons of the chief families of the republic parading the streets in costly garments, inhabiting sumptuous houses in the city, dwelling in magnificent mansions in the country—true seignorial abodes, following the chase with hound and horn, sitting down to luxurious banquets, conversing in licentious language, or talking with enthusiasm of foreign wars and of the French party. "Ah!" said that pious people, "could we but see old Switzerland revive with its old virtues!"


There was soon a powerful reaction. The annual renewal of the magistrature being about to take place, the councillor Butschelbach, a violent adversary of the Gospel, was ejected for adultery; four other senators and twenty members of the Great Council were also replaced by friends of the Reformation and of public morality. Emboldened by this victory,[302] the Evangelical Bernese proposed in the diet that every Swiss should renounce foreign service. At these words the warriors of Lucerne started under their weighty armour, and replied with a haughty smile: "When you have returned to the ancient faith we will listen to your homilies." All the members of the government, assembled at Berne in sovereign council, resolved to set the example, and solemnly abjured the pay of foreign princes. Thus the Reformation showed its faith by its works.

Another struggle took place. Above the lake of Thunn rises a chain of steep rocks, in the midst of which is situated a deep cavern, where, if we may believe tradition, the pious Breton, Beatus, came in ancient times to devote himself to all the austerities of an ascetic life; but especially to the conversion of the surrounding district that was still heathen. It was affirmed that the head of this saint, who had died in Gaul, was preserved in this cavern; and hence it was visited by pilgrims from every quarter. The pious citizens of Zug, Schwytz, Uri, and Argovia, groaned, as they thought that the holy head of the apostle of Switzerland would hereafter remain in a land of heretics. The abbot of the celebrated convent of Muri in Argovia and some of his friends set out, as in ancient times the Argonauts went in quest of the Golden Fleece. They arrived in the humble guise of poor pilgrims, and entered the cavern; one skilfully took away the head, another placed it mysteriously in his hood, and they disappeared. The head of a dead man!—and this was all that Rome saved from the shipwreck. But even this conquest was more than doubtful. The Bernese, who had gained information of this procession, sent three deputies on the 18th May, who, according to their report, found this famous head, and caused it to be decently interred before their eyes in the cemetery belonging to the convent of Interlaken. This contest about a skull characterizes the Church that had just given way in Berne before the vivifying breath of the Gospel. Let the dead bury their dead.


The Reformation had triumphed in Berne; but a storm[303] was gathering unperceived in the mountains, which threatened to overthrow it. The State in union with the Church recalled its ancient renown. Seeing itself attacked by arms, it took up arms in its turn, and acted with that decision which had formerly saved Rome in similar dangers.

A secret discontent was fermenting among the people of the valleys and mountains. Some were still attached to the ancient faith; others had only quitted the Mass because they thought they would be exempted from tithes. Ancient ties of neighbourhood, a common origin, and similarity of manners had united the inhabitants of the Obwald (Unterwalden) to those of the Hasli and of the Bernese Oberland, which were separated only by Mount Brunig and the high pass of the Yoke. A rumour had been set afloat that the government of Berne had profaned the spot where the precious remains of Beatus, the apostle of these mountains, were preserved, and indignation immediately filled these pastoral people, who adhere firmer than others to the customs and superstitions of their forefathers.

But while some were excited by attachment to Rome, others were aroused by a desire for liberty. The subjects of the monastery of Interlaken, oppressed by the monkish rule, began to cry out, "We desire to become our own masters, and no longer pay rent or tithes." The provost of the convent in affright ceded all his rights to Berne for the sum of one hundred thousand florins;[929] and a bailiff, accompanied by several councillors, went and took possession of the monastery. A report was soon spread that they were about to transfer all the property of the convent to Berne; and on the 21st of April bands of men from Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Ringelberg, Brienz, and other places, crossed the lake, or issued from their lofty valleys, and taking forcible possession of the cloister, swore to go even to Berne in quest of the goods which the citizens had dared to take from them.


[304]They were quieted for a time; but in the beginning of June, the people, at the instigation of Unterwalden, again arose in all the Hasli. The Landsgemeinde[930] having been convoked, it decided by a majority of forty voices for the re-establishment of the Mass. The pastor Jaëkli was immediately expelled; a few men crossed the Brunig, and brought back some priests from Unterwalden, to the sound of fifes and trumpets. They were seen from afar descending the mountain, and shouts, both loud and long, replied to them from the bottom of the valley. At last they arrived:—all embraced one another, and the people celebrated the Mass anew with great demonstrations of joy. At the same time, the people of Frutigen and of the fertile valley of Adelboden assailed the castellan Reuter, carried off his flocks, and established a Roman-catholic priest in the place of their pastor. At Aeschi even the women took up arms, drove out the pastor from the church, and brought back the images in triumph. The revolt spread from hamlet to hamlet and from valley to valley, and again took possession of Interlaken. All the malcontents assembled there on the 22d October, and swore, with hands upraised to heaven, boldly to defend their rights and liberty.


Never, perhaps, had the republic been in greater danger. All the kings of Europe, and almost all the cantons of Switzerland, were opposed to the Gospel. The report of an army from Austria, destined to interpose in favour of the Pope, spread through the Reformed cantons.[931] Seditious meetings took place every day,[932] and the people refused to pay their magistrates either quit-rent, service, tithes, or even obedience, unless they shut their eyes to the designs of the Roman-catholics. The council became confused. Amazed and confounded, exposed to the mistrust of some and to the[305] insults of others, they had the cowardice to separate under the pretext of getting in the vintage, and folding their arms, in the presence of this great danger, waited until a Messiah should descend from heaven (says a reformer) to save the republic.[933] The ministers pointed out the danger, forewarned and conjured them; but each one turned a deaf ear. "Christ languishes in Berne," said Haller, "and appears nigh perishing."[934] The people were all in commotion; they assembled, made speeches, murmured, and shed tears! Everywhere—in all their tumultuous meetings—might be heard this complaint of Manuel on Papists and the Papacy:[935]

With rage our foes their hateful threats denounce,
Because, O Lord, we love Thee best of all;
Because at sight of Thee the idols fall;
And war and bloodshed, shuddering, we renounce.

Berne was like a troubled sea, and Haller, who listened to the roaring of the waves, wrote in the deepest anguish: "Wisdom has forsaken the wise, counsel has departed from the councillors, and energy from the chiefs and from the people! The number of the seditious augments every day. Alas! what can the Bear, oppressed with sleep, oppose to so many and to such sturdy hunters?[936] If Christ withdraw himself, we shall all perish."


These fears were on the point of being realized. The smaller cantons claimed to have the power of interfering in matters of faith without infringing the federal compact. While six hundred men of Uri kept themselves ready to depart, eight hundred men of Unterwalden, bearing pine-branches in their hats, symbols of the old faith, with haughty heads and gloomy and angry looks, crossed the Brunig under the ancient banner of the country, which was borne by Gaspard[306] de Flue, a very unworthy grandson of the great Nicholas.[937] This was the first violation of the national peace for many years. Uniting at Hasli with the men of Brienz, this little army crossed the lake, passed under the cascades of Geisbach, and arrived at Unterseen, thirteen hundred strong, and ready to march on Berne to re-establish the Pope, the Idols, and the Mass in that rebellious city. In Switzerland, as in Germany, the Reformation at its outset met with a peasant war. At the first success, new combatants would arrive and pour through the passes of the Brunig upon the unfaithful republic. The army was only six leagues from Berne, and already the sons of Unterwalden were proudly brandishing their swords on the banks of the lake of Thunn.

Thus were the federal alliances trodden under foot by those very persons who aspired to the name of conservatives. Berne had a right to repel this criminal attack by force. Suddenly calling to mind her ancient virtues, the city roused herself, and vowed to perish rather than tolerate the intervention of Unterwalden, the restoration of the Mass, and the fiery violence of the peasants.[938] There was at that moment in the hearts of the Bernese one of those inspirations that come from above, and which save nations as well as individuals. "Let the strength of the city of Berne," exclaimed the Avoyer d'Erlach, "be in God alone, and in the loyalty of its people." All the council and the whole body of the citizens replied by noisy acclamations. The great banner was hastily brought forth, the townspeople ran to arms, the companies assembled, and the troops of the republic marched out with the valiant avoyer at their head.


Scarcely had the Bernese government acted thus energetically, before it saw the confidence of its friends increase, and the courage of its adversaries diminish. God never abandons[307] a people who are true to themselves. Many of the Oberlanders became intimidated, and deserted the ranks of the revolt. At the same time deputies from Basle and Lucerne represented to Unterwalden that it was trampling the ancient alliances under foot. The rebels, disheartened by the firmness of the republic, abandoned Unterseen, and retired to the convent of Interlaken. And soon after, when they beheld the decision of their adversaries, distressed besides by the cold rains that fell incessantly, and fearing that the snow, by covering the mountains, would prevent their return to their homes, the men of Unterwalden evacuated Interlaken during the night. The Bernese, to the number of five thousand men, entered it immediately, and summoned the inhabitants of the Hasli and of the bailiwick of Interlaken to assemble on the 4th November in the plain that surrounds the convent.[939] The day being arrived, the Bernese army drew up in order of battle, and then formed a circle within which D'Erlach ordered the peasants to enter. Hardly had he placed the rebels on the left and the loyal citizens on the right, before the muskets and artillery fired a general discharge, whose report re-echoing among the mountains, filled the insurgents with terror, who thought it the signal of their death. But the avoyer only intended to show they were in the power of the republic. D'Erlach, who addressed them immediately after this strange exordium, had not finished his speech, before they all fell on their knees, and, confessing their crime, begged for pardon. The republic was satisfied: the rebellion was over. The banners of the district were carried to Berne, and the Eagle of Interlaken, in union with the Wild-goat of Hasli, hung for a time beneath the Bear, as a trophy of this victory. Four of the chiefs were put to death, and an amnesty was granted to the remainder of the rebels. "The Bernese," said Zwingle, "as Alexander of Macedon in times of old, have cut the Gordian knot with courage and with[308] glory."[940] Thus thought the Reformer of Zurich; but experience was one day to teach him, that to cut such knots is required a different sword from that of Alexander and of D'Erlach. However that may be, peace was restored, and in the valleys of the Hasli no other noise was heard than the sublime tumult borne afar by the Reichenbach and all the surrounding torrents, as they pour from the mountain-tops their multitudinous and foaming waters.


While we repudiate on behalf of the Church the swords of the Helvetic bands, it would be unwise not to acknowledge the political advantages of this victory. The nobles had imagined that the Reformation of the Church would endanger the very existence of the State. They now had a proof to the contrary: they saw that when a nation receives the Gospel, its strength is doubled. The generous confidence with which, in the hour of danger, they had placed some of the adversaries of the Reformation at the head of affairs and of the army, produced the happiest results. All were now convinced that the Reformation would not trample old recollections under foot: prejudices were removed, hatred was appeased, the Gospel gradually rallied all hearts around it, and the ancient and remarkable saying was verified, which was so often repeated by the friends and enemies of that powerful republic—"God is become a citizen of Berne."

IV. The reformation of Berne was decisive for several cantons. The same wind that had blown from on high with so much power on the country of De Watteville and Haller, threw down "the idols" in a great part of Switzerland. In many places the people were indignant at seeing the Reformation checked by the timid prudence of diplomatists; but when diplomacy was put to flight at Berne, the torrent so long restrained poured violently onwards.


Vadianus, burgomaster of St. Gall, who presided at the[309] Bernese disputation, had scarcely returned home, when the citizens, with the authority of the magistrates, removed the images from the church of St. Magnus, carried to the mint a hand of the patron saint in silver, with other articles of plate, and distributed among the poor the money they received in exchange; thus, like Mary, pouring their precious ointment on the head of Christ.[941] The people of St. Gall, being curious to unveil the ancient mysteries, laid their hands on the abbey itself, on the shrines and crosses which had so long been presented to their adoration; but instead of saintly relics, they found, to their great surprise, nothing but some resin, a few pieces of money, several paltry wooden images, some old rags, a skull, a large tooth, and a snail's shell! Rome, instead of that noble fall which marks the ends of great characters, sunk in the midst of stupid superstitions, shameful frauds, and the ironical laughter of a whole nation.

Such discoveries unfortunately excited the passions of the multitude. One evening some evil disposed persons, wishing to alarm the poor nuns of St. Catherine, who had obstinately resisted the Reform, surrounded the convent with loud cries. In vain did the nuns barricade the doors; the walls were soon scaled, and the good wine, meat, confectionaries, and all the far from ascetic delicacies of the cloister became the prey of these rude jesters. Another persecution awaited them: Doctor Schappeler having been appointed their catechist, they were recommended to lay aside their monastic dress, and to attend his heretical sermons "clothed like all the world," said the sister Wiborath. Some of them embraced the Reform, but thirty others preferred exile.[942] On the 5th February 1528, a numerous synod framed the constitution of the church of St. Gall.



The struggle was more violent at Glaris. The seeds of the Gospel truth, which Zwingle had scattered there, had prospered but little. The men in power anxiously rejected every innovation, and the people loved better "to leap and dance, and work miracles, glass in hand," as an old chronicle says, "than to busy themselves about the Gospel." The Landsgemeinde having pronounced, on the 15th May 1528, in favour of the Mass by a majority of thirty-three voices, the two parties were marked out with greater distinctness: the images were broken at Matt, at Elm, at Bettschwanden, and as each man remained aloof in his own house and village, there was no longer in the canton either council of state or tribunal of justice. At Schwanden, the minister Peter Rumelin, having invited the Roman-catholics to a disputation with him in the church, the latter, instead of discussing, marched in procession to the sound of drums round the place of worship in which the Reformed were assembled, and then rushing into the pastor's house, which was situated in the middle of the city, destroyed the stoves and the windows: the irritated Reformed took their revenge and broke the images. On the 15th April 1529, an agreement was concluded, by virtue of which every man was free to choose between the Mass and the Sermon.


At Wesen, where Schwytz exercised sovereignty conjointly with Glaris, the deputies of the former canton threatened the people. Upon this the young men took the images out of the churches, carried them to an open place near the banks of the picturesque lake of Wallenstadt, above which soar the mountains of the Ammon and of the Seven Electors, and cried: "Look! this road (that by the lake) leads to Coire and to Rome; that (to the south) to Glaris; this other (to the west) to Schwytz; and the fourth (by the Ammon) to St. Gall. Take which you please! But if you do not move off, you shall be burnt!" After waiting a few moments, these young people flung the motionless images into the fire, and the Schwytz deputies, eye-witnesses of this execution, withdrew[311] in consternation, and filled the whole canton with projects of vengeance that were but too soon realized.

In the canton of Appenzell, where a conference had been opened, there suddenly appeared a band of Roman-catholics, armed with whips and clubs, and crying out: "Where are these preachers? we are resolved to put them out of the village!" These strange doctors wounded the ministers and dispersed the assembly with their whips. Out of the eight parishes of the canton, six embraced the Reform, and Appenzell became finally divided into little sections, the one Romanist and the other Reformed.

In the Grisons religious liberty was proclaimed; the parishes had the election of their pastors, several castles were rased to the ground to render all return to arbitrary government impossible, and the affrighted bishop went and hid in the Tyrol his anger and his desire for vengeance. "The Grisons," said Zwingle, "advance daily. It is a nation that by its courage reminds us of the ancient Tuscans, and by its candour of the ancient Swiss."[943]


Schaffhausen, after having long "halted between two opinions," at the summons of Zurich and of Berne removed the images from its churches without tumult or disorder. At the same time the Reformation invaded Thurgovia, the valley of the Rhine, and other bailiwicks subordinate to these cantons. In vain did the Roman-catholic cantons, that were in the majority, protest against it. "When temporal affairs are concerned," replied Zurich and Berne, "we will not oppose a plurality of votes; but the Word of God cannot be subjected to the suffrages of men." All the districts that lie along the banks of the Thur, of the Lake of Constance, and of the Upper Rhine, embraced the Gospel. The inhabitants of Mammeren, near the place where the Rhine issues from the lake, flung their images into the water. But the statue of St. Blaise, after remaining some time upright,[312] and contemplating the ungrateful spot whence it was banished, swam across the lake to Catahorn, situated on the opposite shore, if we may believe the account of a monk named Lang.[944] Even while running away Popery worked its miracles.

Thus were the popular superstitions overthrown in Switzerland, and sometimes not without violence. Every great development in human affairs brings with it an energetic opposition to that which has existed. It necessarily contains an aggressive element, which ought to act freely, and by that means open the new path. In the times of the Reformation the doctors attacked the Pope, and the people the images. The movement almost always exceeded a just moderation. In order that human nature may take one step in advance, its pioneers must take many. Every superfluous step should be condemned, and yet we must acknowledge their necessity. Let us not forget this in the history of the Reformation, and especially in that of Switzerland.

Zurich was reformed; Berne had just become so: Basle still remained, before the great cities of the Confederation were gained over to the Evangelical faith. The reformation of this learned city was the most important consequence resulting from that of the warlike Berne.


For six years the Gospel had been preached in Basle. The meek and pious Œcolampadius was always waiting for happier times. "The darkness," said he, "is about to retire before the rays of truth."[945] But his expectation was vain. A triple aristocracy—the superior clergy, the nobles, and the university—checked the free expansion of christian convictions. It was the middle classes who were destined to effect the triumph of the Reformation in Basle.[946] Unhappily the[313] popular wave invades nothing without tossing up some foul scum.

It is true that the Gospel had many friends in the councils: but being men of a middle party, they tacked backwards and forwards like Erasmus, instead of sailing straight to the port. They ordered "the pure preaching of the Word of God;" but stipulated at the same time that it should be "without Lutheranism." The aged and pious bishop Utenheim, who was living in retirement at Bruntrut, tottered daily into the church, supported by two domestics, to celebrate Mass with a broken voice. Gundelsheim, an enemy of the Reformation, succeeded him erelong; and on the 23d September, followed by many exiles and with a train of forty horses, he made his triumphal entry into Basle, proposing to restore everything to its ancient footing. This made Œcolampadius write in alarm to Zwingle: "Our cause hangs upon a thread."

But in the citizens the Reform found a compensation for the disdain of the great, and for the terrors inspired by the new bishop. They organized repasts for fifty and a hundred guests each; Œcolampadius and his colleagues took their seats at these tables with the people, where energetic acclamations and reiterated cheers greeted the work of the Reformation. In a short time even the council appeared to incline to the side of the Gospel. Twenty feast-days were retrenched, and the priests were permitted to refuse celebrating the Mass. "It is all over with Rome," was now the cry. But Œcolampadius, shaking his head, replied; "I am afraid that, by wishing to sit on the two stools, Basle will at last fall to the ground."[947]


This was at the period of his return from his discussion at Berne. He arrived in time to close the eyes of his pious mother; and then the reformer found himself alone, succumbing under the weight of public and domestic cares; for[314] his house was like an inn for all fugitive Christians. "I shall marry a Monica,"[948] he had often said, "or else I shall remain a bachelor." He thought he had now discovered the "christian sister" he was in search of. This was Wilibrandis, daughter of one of the Emperor Maximilian's knights, and widow of a master of arts named Keller,—a woman already proved by many trials. He married her, saying: "I look to the ordinances of God, and not to the scowling faces of men." This did not prevent the sly Erasmus from exclaiming: "Luther's affair is called a tragedy, but I maintain it is a comedy, for each act of the drama ends in a wedding." This witticism has been often repeated. For a long time it was the fashion to account for the Reformation by the desire of the princes for the church-property, and of the priests for marriage. This vulgar method is now stigmatized by the best Roman controversialists as "a proof of a singularly narrow mind.—The Reformation originated," add they, "in a true and christian, although unenlightened zeal."[949]

The return of Œcolampadius had still more important consequences for Basle than it had for himself. The discussion at Berne caused a great sensation there. "Berne, the powerful Berne, is reforming!" was passed from mouth to mouth. "How, then!" said the people one to another, "the fierce bear has come out of his den......he is groping about for the rays of the sun......and Basle, the city of learning—Basle, the adopted city of Erasmus and of Œcolampadius, remaining in darkness!"


On Good Friday (10th April, 1528), without the knowledge of the council and Œcolampadius, five workmen of the Spinners' Company entered the church of St. Martin, which was that of the reformer, and where the Mass was already[315] abolished, and carried away all the "idols." On Easter Monday, after the evening sermon, thirty-four citizens removed all the images from the church of the Augustines.

This was going too far. Were they desirous, then, of drawing Basle and its councils from that just medium in which they had till this moment so wisely halted? The council met hastily on Tuesday morning, and sent the five men to prison; but, on the intercession of the burghers, they were released, and the images suppressed in five other churches. These half-measures sufficed for a time.

On a sudden the flame burst out anew with greater violence. Sermons were preached at St. Martin's and St. Leonard's against the abominations of the cathedral; and at the cathedral the Reformers were called "heretics, knaves, and profligates."[950] The Papists celebrated mass upon mass. The burgomaster Meyer, a friend of the Reform, had with him the majority of the people; the burgomaster Meltinger, an intrepid leader of the partisans of Rome, prevailed in the councils: a collision became inevitable. "The fatal hour approaches," says Œcolampadius, "terrible for the enemies of God."[951]


On Wednesday the 23d December, two days before Christmas, three hundred citizens from all the companies, pious and worthy men, assembled in the hall of the Gardeners' Company, and there drew up a petition to the senate. During this time the friends of Popery, who resided for the most part in Little Basle and the suburb of St. Paul, took up arms, brandishing their swords and lances against the Reformed citizens at the very moment that these were bearing their petition to the council, and endeavoured, although ineffectually, to bar their road. Meltinger haughtily refused to receive the petition, and charged the burghers, on the faith of their civic oath, to return to their homes. The burgomaster[316] Meyer, however, took the address, and the senate ordered it to be read.

"Honoured, wise, and gracious Lords," it ran, "we, your dutiful fellow-citizens of the companies, address you as well-beloved fathers, whom we are ready to obey at the cost of our goods and of our lives. Take God's glory to heart; restore peace to the city; and oblige all the Pope's preachers to discuss freely with the ministers. If the Mass be true, we desire to have it in our churches; but if it is an abomination before God, why, through love for the priests, should we draw down His terrible anger upon ourselves and upon our children?"

Thus spoke the citizens of Basle. There was nothing revolutionary either in their language or in their proceedings. They desired what was right with decision, but also with calmness. All might still proceed with order and decorum. But here begins a new period: the vessel of Reform is about to enter the port, but not until it has passed through violent storms.

V. It was the bishop's partisans who first departed from the legal course. Filled with terror on learning that mediators were expected from Zurich and Berne, they ran into the city, crying that an Austrian army was coming to their aid, and collected stones in their houses. The Reformed did the same. The disturbance increased hourly, and in the night of the 25th December the Papists met under arms: priests with arquebuse in hand were numbered among their ranks.

Scarcely had the Reformed learnt this, when some of them running hastily from house to house, knocked at the doors and awoke their friends, who, starting out of bed, seized their muskets and repaired to the Gardeners' Hall, the rendezvous of their party. They soon amounted to three thousand.


Both parties passed the night under arms. At every moment a civil war, and what is worse, "a war of hearths," might break out. It was at last agreed that each party[317] should nominate delegates to treat with the senate on this matter. The Reformed chose thirty men of respectability, courage, faith, and experience, who took up their quarters at the Gardeners' Hall. The partisans of the ancient faith chose also a commission, but less numerous and less respectable: their station was at the Fishmongers' Hall. The council was constantly sitting. All the gates of the city, except two, were closed; strong guards were posted in every quarter. Deputies from Lucerne, Uri, Schaffhausen, Zug, Schwytz, Mulhausen, and Strasburg, arrived successively. The agitation and tumult increased from hour to hour.

It was necessary to put an end to so violent a crisis. The senate, faithful to its ideas of half-measures, decreed that the priest should continue to celebrate the Mass; but that all, priests and ministers, should preach the Word of God, and for this purpose should meet once a-week to confer upon the holy Scriptures. They then called the Lutherans together in the Franciscan church, and the Papists in that belonging to the Dominicans. The senate first repaired to the former church, where they found two thousand five hundred citizens assembled. The secretary had hardly read the ordinance before a great agitation arose. "That shall not be," cried one of the people.[952] "We will not put up with the Mass, not even with a single one!" cried another; and all repeated, "No Mass,—no Mass,—we will die sooner!"[953]

The senate having next visited the Dominican church, all the Romanists, to the number of six hundred, among whom were many foreign servants, cried out: "We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the Mass. We swear it, we swear it!" repeated they with uplifted hands. "If they reject the Mass—to arms! to arms!"[954]

The senate withdrew more embarrassed than ever.


The two parties were again assembled three days after.[318] Œcolampadius was in the pulpit. "Be meek and tractable," said he; and he preached with such unction that many were ready to burst into tears.[955] The assembly offered up prayers, and then decreed that it would accept a new ordinance, by virtue of which, fifteen days after Pentecost, there should be a public disputation, in which no arguments should be employed but such as were drawn from the Word of God: after this a general vote should take place upon the Mass, that the majority should decide the question, and that in the meanwhile the Mass should be celebrated in three churches only; it being however understood, that nothing should be taught there that was in opposition to the Holy Scriptures.

The Romanist minority rejected these propositions: "Basle," said they, "is not like Berne and Zurich. Its revenues are derived in great measure from countries opposed to the Reformation!" The priests having refused to resort to the weekly conferences, they were suspended; and during a fortnight there was neither sermon nor mass at the cathedral, or in the churches of St. Ulric, St. Peter, and St. Theodore.

Those who remained faithful to Rome resolved upon an intrepid defence. Meltinger placed Sebastian Muller in the pulpit at St. Peter's, from which he had been interdicted, and this hot-headed priest vented such abusive sarcasms against the Reform, that several of the Evangelicals, who were listening to the sermon, were insulted and nearly torn in pieces.


It was necessary to arouse Basle from this nightmare, and strike a decisive blow. "Let us remember our liberty," said the reformed citizens, "and what we owe to the glory of Christ, to public justice, and to our posterity."[956] They then demanded that the enemies of the Reformation, friends and relations of the priests, who were the cause of all these[319] delays and of all these troubles, should no longer sit in the councils until peace was re-established. This was the 8th February. The council notified that they would return an answer on the morrow.

At six o'clock in the evening, twelve hundred citizens were assembled in the corn-market. They began to fear that the delay required by the senate concealed some evil design. "We must have a reply this very night," they said. The senate was convoked in great haste.

From that period affairs assumed a more threatening attitude in Basle. Strong guards were posted by the burghers in the halls of the different guilds; armed men patrolled the city, and bivouacked in the public places, to anticipate the machinations of their adversaries;[957] the chains were stretched across the streets; torches were lighted, and resinous trees, whose flickering light scattered the darkness, were placed at intervals through the town; six pieces of artillery were planted before the town hall; and the gates of the city, as well as the arsenal and the ramparts, were occupied. Basle was in a state of siege.

There was no longer any hope for the Romish party. The burgomaster, Meltinger, an intrepid soldier and one of the heroes of Marignan, where he had led eight hundred men into battle, lost courage. In the darkness he gained the banks of the Rhine with his son-in-law, the councillor Eglof d'Offenburg, embarked unnoticed in a small boat, and rapidly descended the stream amid the fogs of the night.[958] Other members of the council escaped in a similar manner.


This gave rise to new alarms. "Let us beware of their secret manœuvres," said the people. "Perhaps they are going to fetch the Austrians, with whom they have so often threatened us!" The affrighted citizens collected arms from every quarter, and at break of day they had two thousand[320] men on foot. The beams of the rising sun fell on this resolute but calm assembly.

It was midday. The senate had come to no decision: the impatience of the burghers could be restrained no longer. Forty men were detached to visit the posts. As this patrol was passing the cathedral, they entered it, and one of the citizens, urged by curiosity, opened a closet with his halberd, in which some images had been hidden. One of them fell out, and was broken into a thousand pieces against the stone pavement.[959] The sight of these fragments powerfully moved the spectators, who began throwing down one after another all the images that were concealed in this place. None of them offered any resistance: heads, feet, and hands—all were heaped in confusion before the halberdiers. "I am much surprised," said Erasmus, "that they preformed no miracle to save themselves; formerly the saints worked frequent prodigies for much smaller offences!"[960] Some priests ran to the spot, and the patrol withdrew.

A rumour, however, having spread that a disturbance had taken place in this church, three hundred men came to the support of the forty. "Why," said they, "should we spare the idols that light up the flames of discord?" The priests in alarm had closed the gates of the sanctuary, drawn the bolts, raised barricades, and prepared everything for maintaining a siege. But the townspeople, whose patience had been exhausted by the delays of the council, dash against one of the doors of the church: it yields to their blows, and they rush into the cathedral. The hour of madness has arrived. These men are no longer to be recognized, as they brandish their swords, rattle their pikes, and utter formidable cries: are they Goths, or are they fervent worshippers of God, animated by the zeal which in times of yore inflamed the prophets and the kings of Israel? However that might be,[321] these proceedings were disorderly, since public authority alone can interfere in public reforms. Images, altars, pictures—all were thrown down and destroyed. The priests who had fled into the vestry, and there concealed themselves, trembled in every limb at the terrible noise made by the fall of their holy decorations. The work of destruction was completed without one of them venturing to save the objects of his worship, or to make the slightest remonstrance. The people next piled up the fragments in the squares and set fire to them; and during the chilly night the armed burghers stood round and warmed themselves at the crackling flame.[961]

The senate collected in amazement, and desired to interpose their authority and appease the tumult; but they might as well have striven to command the winds. The enthusiastic citizens replied to their magistrates in these haughty words: "What you have not been able to effect in three years, we will complete in one hour."[962]

In truth the anger of the people was no longer confined to the cathedral. They respected all kinds of private property;[963] but they attacked the churches of St. Peter, St. Ulric, St. Alban, and of the Dominicans; and in all these temples "the idols" fell under the blows of these good citizens of Basle, whom an extraordinary zeal inflamed. Already they were making preparations to cross the bridge and enter Little Basle, which was devoted to the cause of Popery, when the alarmed inhabitants begged to be allowed to remove the images themselves, and with heavy hearts they hastily carried them into the upper chambers of the church, whence they hoped to be able after a time to restore them to their old position.


They did not stop at these energetic demonstrations; the most excited talked of going to the town-hall, and of constraining[322] the senate to accede to the wishes of the people; but the good sense of the majority treated these brawlers as they deserved, and checked their guilty thoughts.

The senators now perceived the necessity of giving a legal character to this popular movement, and of thus changing a tumultuous revolution into a durable reformation.[964] Democracy and the Gospel were thus established simultaneously in Basle. The senate, after an hour's deliberation, granted that in future the burghers should participate in the election of the two councils; that from this day the Mass and images should be abolished throughout all the canton, and that in every deliberation which concerned the glory of God or the good of the state the opinion of the guilds should be taken. The people, delighted at having obtained these conditions, which secured their political and religious liberty, returned joyful to their houses. It was now the close of day.[965]


On the morrow, Ash-Wednesday, it was intended to distribute the ruins of the altars and other ornaments of the Church among the poor, to serve them for firewood. But these unhappy creatures, in their eagerness for the fragments, having begun to dispute about them, they constructed great piles in the cathedral close and set fire to them. "The idols," said some wags, "are really keeping their Ash-Wednesday to-day!" The friends of Popery, turning away their horror-stricken eyes from this sacrilegious sight, says Œcolampadius, shed tears of blood. "Thus severely did they treat the idols," continues the reformer, "and the Mass died of grief in consequence."[966] On the following Sunday hymns in German were sung at every church; and on the 18th February a general amnesty was published. Everything was changed in Basle. The last had become first, and the first last. While Œcolampadius, who a few years before[323] had entered the city as a stranger, without resources and without power, found himself raised to the first station in the Church, Erasmus, disturbed in the quiet study whence during so long a period he had issued his absolute commands to the world of letters, saw himself compelled to descend into the arena. But this king of the schools had no desire to lay down his sceptre before the sovereign people. For a long time he used to turn aside his head when he met his friend Œcolampadius. Besides he feared by remaining at Basle to compromise himself with his protectors. "The torrent," said he, "which was hidden underground has burst forth with violence, and committed frightful ravages.[967] My life is in danger: Œcolampadius possesses all the churches. People are continually bawling in my ears; I am besieged with letters, caricatures, and pamphlets. It is all over: I am resolved to leave Basle. Only shall I or shall I not depart by stealth? The one is more becoming, the other more secure."

Wishing as much as possible to make his honour and his prudence agree, Erasmus desired the boatman with whom he was to descend the Rhine to depart from an unfrequented spot. This was opposed by the senate, and the timid philosopher was compelled to enter the boat as it lay near the great bridge, at that time covered with a crowd of people. He floated down the river, sadly bade adieu to the city he had so much loved, and retired to Friburg in Brisgau with several other learned men.

New professors were invited to fill the vacant chairs in the university, and in particular Oswald Myconius, Phrygio, Sebastian Munster, and Simon Grynæus. At the same time was published an ecclesiastical order and a confession of faith, one of the most precious documents of this epoch.


Thus had a great transformation been effected without the loss of a single drop of blood. Popery had fallen in Basle in despite of the secular and spiritual power. "The wedge of[324] the Lord," says Œcolampadius, "has split this hard knot."[968]

We cannot, however, help acknowledging that the Basle Reformation may afford ground for some objections. Luther had opposed himself to the power of the many. "When the people prick up their ears, do not whistle too loud. It is better to suffer at the hand of one tyrant, that is to say, of a king, than of a thousand tyrants, that is to say, of the people." On this account the German Reformer has been reproached for acknowledging no other policy than servilism.

Perhaps when the Swiss Reformation is canvassed, a contrary objection will be made against it, and the Reform at Basle, in particular, will be looked upon as a revolution.

The Reformation must of necessity bear the stamp of the country in which it was accomplished: it will be monarchical in Germany, republican in Switzerland. Nevertheless, in religion as in politics, there is a great difference between reformation and revolution.

In neither of these spheres does Christianity desire either despotism, servitude, stagnation, retrogression, or death. But while looking for progress, it seeks to accomplish it by reformation and not by revolution.

Reformation works by the power of the Word, of doctrine, cultivation and truth; while revolution, or rather revolt, operates by the power of riot, of the sword, and of the club.

Christianity proceeds by the inner man, and charters themselves, if they stand alone, cannot satisfy it. No doubt constitutions are one of the blessings of our age; but it is not sufficient for these securities to be committed to parchment; they must be written in the heart, and guaranteed by the manners of the people.

Such were the principles of the Swiss Reformers, such were those of the Reform at Basle, and by these it is distinguished from a revolution.


There were, it is true, some excesses. Never perhaps has[325] a reformation been accomplished among men without some mixture of revolution. But it was doctrines, however, that were in question at Basle: these doctrines had acted powerfully on the moral convictions and on the lives of the people; the movement had taken place within before it showed itself without. But more than this: the Reformation was not satisfied with taking away; it gave more than it took; and, far from confining itself to the work of destruction, it scattered rich blessings over all the people.[969]

VI. The recoil of the discussion at Berne had overthrown Popery in a considerable part of German Switzerland. It was also felt in many of the churches of French Switzerland, lying at the foot of the Jura, or scattered amid the pine forests of its elevated valleys, and which up to this time had shown the most absolute devotion to the Roman pontiff.

Farel, seeing the Gospel established in the places where the Rhone mingles its sandy waters with the crystal Leman, turned his eyes to another quarter. He was supported by Berne. This state, which possessed jointly with Friburg the bailiwicks of Morat, Orbe, and Granson, and which had alliances with Lausanne, Avenches, Payerne, Neuchatel, and Geneva, saw that both its interest and its duty alike called it to have the Gospel preached to its allies and subjects. Farel was empowered to carry it among them, always with reserve of the consent of the respective governments.

One day, therefore, journeying towards Morat, Farel arrived and preached the Gospel at the foot of those towers and battlements that had been attacked at three different periods by the armies of Conrad the Salic, Rodolph of Hapsburg, and Charles the Bold. Erelong the friends of the Reform amounted to a great number. A general vote having nevertheless declared in favour of the Pope, Farel proceeded to Lausanne.


He was at first driven away by the bishop and the clergy, but soon reappeared provided with a letter from the lords of[326] Berne. "We send him to you," said their excellencies to the authorities of the city, "to defend his own cause and ours. Allow him to preach the Word of God, and beware that you touch not a hair of his head."

There was great confusion in the councils. Placed between Berne and the bishop, what could they do? The Council of Twenty four, finding the matter very serious, convoked the Council of Sixty; and this body, excusing itself, they convoked the Council of Two Hundred, on the 14th November 1529. But these in their turn referred the business to the smaller council. No one would have anything to do with it. The inhabitants of Lausanne, it is true, complained loudly of the holy members of their chapters, whose lives (they said) were one long orgy; but when their eyes turned on the austere countenance of Reform, they were still more terrified. Besides, how deprive Lausanne of her bishop, her court, and her dignitaries? What! no more pilgrims in the churches,—no more suitors in the ecclesiastical courts,—no more purchasers in the markets, or boon companions in the taverns! The widowed and desolate Lausanne would no longer behold the noisy throng of people, that were at once her wealth and her glory!—Better far a disorder that enriches, than a Reform that impoverishes! Farel was compelled to depart a second time.

He returned to Morat, and soon the Word gained over the hearts of the people. On feast-days, the roads from Payerne and Avenches were covered with merry bands, who laughingly said to one another, "Let us go to Morat and hear the preachers!" and exhorted each other slily, as they went along the road, "not to fall into the nets of the heretics." But at night, all was changed. Grasped by the strong hand of truth, these very people returned,—some in deep thought, others discussing with animation the doctrines they had heard. The fire was sparkling throughout all this district, and spreading in every direction its long rays of light. This was enough for Farel: he required new conquests.


At a short distance from Morat lay one of the strongholds[327] of Popery—the Earldom of Neuchatel. Joan of Hochberg, who had inherited this principality from her ancestors, had married, in 1504, Louis of Orleans, Duke of Longueville. This French nobleman having supported the King of France in 1512, in a war against the Swiss, the cantons had taken possession of Neuchatel, but had restored it to his widow in 1529.

Few countries could have presented greater difficulties to the daring reformer. The princess of Longueville, residing in France in the suite of Francis I., a woman of courtly habits, vain, extravagant, always in debt, and thinking of Neuchatel only as a farm that should bring her in a large revenue, was devoted to the Pope and Popery. Twelve canons with several priests and chaplains formed a powerful clergy, at whose head was the provost Oliver of Hochberg, natural brother to the princess. Auxiliaries full of zeal flanked this main army. On the one side there was the abbey of the Premonstrantes of Fontaine-André, three quarters of a league beyond the town, the monks of which, after having in the twelfth century cleared the ground with their own hands,[970] had gradually become powerful lords; and, on the other side, the Benedictines of the Island of St. John, whose abbot, having been deposed by the Bernese, had taken refuge, burning with hatred and vengeance, in his priory at Corcelles.


The people of Neuchatel had a great respect for ancient rights, and it was easy to take advantage of this state of feeling, considering the general ignorance, to maintain the innovations of Popery. The canons improved the opportunity. For the instructions of the Gospel they substituted pomps and shows. The church, situated on a steep rock, was filled with altars, chapels, and images of saints; and religion, descending from this sanctuary, ran up and down the[328] streets, and was travestied in dramas and mysteries, mingled with indulgences, miracles, and debauchery.[971]

The soldiers of Neuchatel, however, who had made the campaign of 1529 with the Bernese army, brought back to their homes the liveliest enthusiasm for the Evangelical cause. It was at this period that a frail boat, quitting the southern bank of the lake, on the side opposite Morat, and carrying a Frenchman of mean appearance, steered towards the Neuchatel shore. Farel, for it was he, had learnt that the village of Serrière, situated at the gates of Neuchatel, depended in spiritualities on the evangelical city of Bienne, and that Emer Beynon, the priest of the place, "had some liking for the Gospel." The plan of his campaign was immediately drawn up. He appeared before parson Emer, who received him with joy; but what could be done? for Farel had been interdicted from preaching in any church whatever in the earldom. The poor priest thought to reconcile everything by permitting Farel to mount on a stone in the cemetery, and thus preach to the people, turning his back upon the church.[972]

A great disturbance arose in Neuchatel. On one side the government, the canons, and the priests, cried "Heresy!" but, on the other, "some inhabitants of Neuchatel, to whom God had given a knowledge of the truth,"[973] flocked to Serrière. In a short time these last could not contain themselves: "Come," said they to Farel, "and preach to us in the town."


This was at the beginning of December. They entered by the gate of the castle, and leaving the church on the hill to the left, they passed in front of the canons' houses, and descended through the narrow streets inhabited by the citizens. On reaching the market-cross, Farel ascended a[329] platform and addressed the crowd, which gathered together from all the neighbourhood,—weavers, vine-dressers, husbandmen, a worthy race, possessing more feeling than imagination. The preacher's exterior was grave, his discourse energetic, his voice like thunder: his eyes, his features, his gestures, all showed him a man of intrepidity. The citizens, accustomed to run about the streets after the mountebanks, were touched by his powerful language. "Farel preached a sermon of such great efficacy," says a manuscript, "that he gained over much people."[974]

Some monks, however, with shaven crowns,[975] glided among his hearers, seeking to excite them against the heretical minister. "Let us beat out his brains," said some. "Duck him, duck him!" cried others, advancing to throw Farel into a fountain, which may still be seen near the spot where he preached. But the reformer stood firm.


This first preaching was succeeded by others. To this Gospel missionary every place was a church; every stone, every bench, every platform was a pulpit. Already the cutting winds and the snows of December should have kept the Neuchatelans around their firesides; "the canons made a vigorous defence;"[976] and in every quarter "the shorn crowns" were in agitation, supplicating, menacing, howling, and threatening,—but all was useless. No sooner did this man of small stature rise up in any place, with his pale yet sunburnt complexion, with red and unkempt beard, with sparkling eye and expressive mouth, than the monks' labour was lost: the people collected around, for it was the Word of God that fell from his lips.[977] All eyes were fixed on him: with open mouth and attentive ears they hung upon his words.[978] And scarcely does he begin to speak, when—Oh![330] wonderful work of God! he himself exclaims—this multitude believes as if it had but one soul.

The Word of God carried the town, as it were, at the first assault; and throwing down the devices Rome had taken ages to compose, established itself in triumph on the ruins of human traditions. Farel saw in imagination Jesus Christ himself walking in spirit through the midst of this crowd, opening the eyes of the blind, softening the hard heart, and working miracles,[979] that scarcely had he returned to his humble residence before he wrote to his friends with a heart full of emotion: "Render thanks with me to the Father of mercies, in that he has shown his favour to those bowed down by a weighty tyranny;" and falling on his knees, he worshipped God.[980]

But during this time what were the adherents of the Pope doing in Neuchatel?

The canons, members of the General Audiences, of which they formed the first estate, treated both priests and laymen with intolerable haughtiness. Laying the burden of their offices on poor curates, they publicly kept dissolute women, clothed them sumptuously, endowed their children by public acts, fought in the church, haunted the streets by night, or went into a foreign country to enjoy in secret the produce of their avarice and of their intrigues. Some poor lepers placed in a house near the city were maintained by the produce of certain offerings. The rich canons, in the midst of their banquets, dared take away the bread of charity from these unhappy wretches.


The abbey of Fontaine-André was at a little distance from the town. Now the canons of Neuchatel and the monks of Fontaine were at open war. These hostile powers, encamped on their two hills, disputed each other's property, wrested away each other's privileges, launched at one another the coarsest insults, and even came to blows. "Debaucher[331] of women!" said the canons to the abbot of Fontaine-André, who returned the compliment in the same coin. It is the Reformation which, through faith, has re-established the moral law in Christendom,—a law that Popery had trodden under foot.

For a long time these conventual wars had disturbed the country. On a sudden they cease. A strange event is passing in Neuchatel,—the Word of God is preached there. The canons, seized with affright in the midst of their disorders, look down from their lofty dwellings on this new movement. The report reaches Fontaine-André. The monks and priests suspend their orgies and their quarrels. The heathen sensualism that had invaded the Church is put to the rout; Christian spiritualism has reappeared.

Immediately the monks and canons, so long at war, embrace and unite against the Reformer. "We must save religion," said they, meaning their tithes, banquets, scandals, and privileges. Not one of them could oppose a doctrine to the doctrine preached by Farel: to insult him was their sole weapon. At Corcelles, however, they went farther. As the minister was proclaiming the Gospel near the priory, the monks fell upon him; in the midst of them was the prior Rodolph de Benoit, storming, exciting, and striving to augment the tempest. He even had a dagger in his hand, according to one writer.[981] Farel escaped with difficulty.


This was not enough. Popery, as it always does, had recourse to the civil power. The canons, the abbot, and the prior, solicited the governor George de Rive at the same time. Farel stood firm. "The glory of Jesus Christ," said he, "and the lively affection his sheep bear to his Word, constrain me to endure sufferings greater than tongue can describe."[982] Erelong, however, he was compelled to yield. Farel again crossed the lake; but this passage was very different[332] from the former. The fire was kindled!—On the 22d December he was at Morat; and shortly after at Aigle.

He was recalled hence. On the 7th January, religion was put to the vote at Morat, and the majority was in favour of the Gospel. But the Romish minority, supported by Friburg, immediately undertook to recover its ancient position by insults and bad treatment. "Farel! Farel!" cried the reformed party.[983]

A few days after this, Farel, accompanied by a Bernese messenger, scaled that magnificent amphitheatre of mountains above Vevay, whence the eye plunges into the waters of the Leman; and soon he crossed the estates of Count John of Gruyère, who was in the habit of saying, "We must burn this French Luther!"[984] Scarcely had Farel reached the heights of St. Martin de Vaud,[985] when he saw the vicar of the place with two priests running to meet him. "Heretic! devil!" cried they. But the knight, through fear of Berne, remained behind his walls, and Farel passed on.


The Reformer, not allowing himself to be stopped by the necessity of defending himself in Morat, or by the inclemency of the season, immediately carried the Gospel to those beautiful hills that soar between the smiling waters of lakes Morat and Neuchatel into the villages of the Vully. This manœuvre was crowned with the most complete success. On the 15th February four deputies from the Vully came to Morat to demand permission to embrace the Reform, which was immediately granted to them. "Let our ministers preach the Gospel," said their excellencies of Berne to the Friburgers, "and we will let your priests play their monkey tricks. We desire to force no man."[986] The Reform restored freedom of will to the Christian people. It was about this time that[333] Farel wrote his beautiful letter "To all lords, people, and pastors," which we have so often quoted.[987]

The indefatigable reformer now went forward to new conquests. A chain of rocks separates the Juran valley of Erguel, already evangelized by Farel, from the country of the ancient Rauraci, and a passage cut through the rock serves as a communication between the two districts. It was the end of April when Farel, passing through the Pierre-Pertuis,[988] descended to the village of Tavannes, and entered the church just as the priest was saying Mass. Farel went into the pulpit: the astonished priest stopped,—the minister filled his hearers with emotion, and seemed to them an angel come down from heaven. Immediately the images and the altars fell, and "the poor priest who was chanting the Mass could not finish it."[989] To put down Popery had required less time than the priest had spent at the altar.

A great part of the bishopric of Basle was in a few weeks gained over to the Reformation.

During this time the Gospel was fermenting in Neuchatel. The young men who had marched with Berne to deliver Geneva from the attacks of Savoy, recounted in their jovial meetings the exploits of the campaign, and related how the soldiers of Berne, feeling cold, had taken the images from the Dominican church at Geneva, saying: "Idols of wood are of no use but to make a fire with in winter."


Farel re-appeared in Neuchatel.[990] Being master of the lower part of the town, he raised his eyes to the lofty rocks on which soared the cathedral and the castle. The best plan, thought he, is to bring these proud priests down to us. One morning his young friends spread themselves in the streets, and posted up large placards bearing these words: "All[334] those who say Mass are robbers, murderers, and seducers of the people."[991] Great was the uproar in Neuchatel. The canons summoned their people, called together their clerks, and marching at the head of a large troop, armed with swords and clubs, descended into the town, tore down the sacrilegious placards, and cited Farel before the tribunal as a slanderer, demanding ten thousand crowns damages.

The two parties appeared in court, and this was all that Farel desired. "I confess the fact," said he, "but I am justified in what I have done. Where are there to be found more horrible murderers, than these seducers who sell paradise, and thus nullify the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ? I will prove my assertion by the Gospel." And he prepared to open it, when the canons, flushed with anger, cried out: "The common law of Neuchatel, and not the Gospel, is in question here! Where are the witnesses?" But Farel, always returning to that fearful assertion, proved by the Word of God that the canons were really guilty of murder and robbery. To plead such a cause was to ruin Popery. The court of Neuchatel, that had never heard a similar case, resolved according to ancient custom to lay it before the Council of Besançon,[992] which not daring to pronounce the first estate of the General Audiences guilty of murder and robbery, referred the matter to the Emperor and to a general council. Bad causes gain nothing by making a disturbance.


At every step they wished to drive him back, Farel made one in advance. The streets and the houses were still his temple. One day when the people of Neuchatel were around him, "Why," cried they, "should not the Word of God be proclaimed in a church?" They then hurried Farel along with them, opened the doors of the Hospital Chapel, set the minister in the pulpit, and a numerous crowd stood silent before him. "In like manner as Jesus Christ, appearing in a state of poverty and humility, was born in a stable at Bethlehem,"[335] said the Reformer; "so this hospital, this abode of the sick and of the poor, is to-day become his birthplace in the town of Neuchatel." Then feeling ill at ease in the presence of the painted and carved figures that decorated the chapel, he laid his hands on these objects of idolatry, removed them, and broke them in pieces.[993]

Popery, which anger had blinded, now took a step that it undoubtedly had a right to take, but which destroyed it: it had recourse to the secular arm, and the governor sent a deputation to the Bernese council, praying the removal of Farel and his companions.

But almost at the same time deputies from the townspeople arrived at Berne. "Did not these hands bear arms at Interlaken and at Bremgarten to support your Reformation? and will you abandon us in ours?"

Berne hesitated. A public calamity was at that time filling the whole city with mourning. One of the most illustrious citizens of the republic, the Banneret of Weingarten, attacked by the plague, was expiring amid the tears of his sons and of his fellow-citizens. Being informed of the arrival of the Neuchatelans, he rallied his waning strength: "Go," said he, "and beg the senate in my name to ask for a general assembly of the people of Neuchatel for Sunday next."[994] This message of the dying banneret decided the council.

The deputies from Berne arrived in Neuchatel on the 7th August. Farel thought that during the debates he had time to make a new conquest, and quitted the city. His zeal can be compared only to St. Paul's. His body was small and feeble, but his activity was wholly apostolic: danger and bad treatment wasted him every day, but he had within him a divine power that rendered him victorious.


VII. At the distance of a league from Neuchatel, beyond the mountain, extends the Val de Ruz, and near its entrance,[336] in a precipitous situation, where roars an impetuous torrent surrounded by steep crags, stands the town of Valangin. An old castle, built on a rock, raises its vast walls into the air, overlooking the humble dwellings of the townspeople, and extending its jurisdiction over five valleys of these lofty and severe mountains at that time covered with forests of pine, but now peopled by the most active industry.[995]

In this castle dwelt Guillemette de Vergy, dowager-countess of Valangin, strongly attached to the Romish religion and full of respect for the memory of her husband. A hundred priests had chanted high mass at the count's burial; many penitent young women had been married, and large alms distributed; the curate of Locle had been sent to Jerusalem, and Guillemette herself had made a pilgrimage for the repose for the soul of her departed lord.

Sometimes, however, the Countess of Gruyère and other ladies would come and visit the widow of Vergy, who assembled in the castle a number of young lords. The fife and tambourine re-echoed under its vaulted roofs, chattering groups collected in the immense embrasures of its Gothic windows, and merry dances followed hard upon a long silence and gloomy devotion.[996] There was but one sentiment that never left Guillemette—this was her hatred against the Reformation.


Guillemette and the priests had in fact reason to tremble. The 15th August was a great Romish festival—Our Lady of August, or the Assumption. All the faithful of the Val de Ruz were preparing to keep it. This was the very day Farel selected. Animated by the fire and courage of Elijah, he set out for Valangin, and a young man, his fellow-countryman, and, as it would appear, a distant relation, Anthony Boyve, an ardent Christian and a man of decided character, went along with him.[997] The two missionaries climbed the mountain, plunged into the pine forest, and then descending again[337] into the valley, they traversed Valangin, where the vicinity of the castle did not give them much encouragement to pause, and arrived at a village, probably Boudevilliers, proposing to preach the Gospel there.[998]

Already on all sides the people were thronging to the church; Farel and his companion entered also with a small number of the inhabitants who had heard him at Neuchatel. The reformer immediately ascended the pulpit, and the priest prepared to celebrate the Mass. The combat begins. While the voice of Farel is preaching Jesus Christ and his promises, the voices of the priests and of the choir are chanting the missal. The solemn moment approaches: the ineffable transubstantiation is about to take place: the priest pronounces the sacred words over the elements. At this instant the people hesitate no longer; ancient habits, an irresistible influence, draw them towards the altar; the preacher is deserted; the kneeling crowd has recovered its old worship; Rome is triumphant.......Suddenly a young man springs from the crowd,—traverses the choir,—rushes to the altar,—snatches the host from the hands of the priest, and cries, as he turns towards the people: "This is not the God whom you should worship. He is above,—in heaven,—in the majesty of the Father, and not, as you believe, in the hands of a priest."[999] This man was Anthony Boyve.


Such a daring act at first produced the desired effect. The Mass was interrupted, the chantings ceased, and the crowd, as if struck by a supernatural intervention, remained silent and noiseless. Farel, who was still in the pulpit, immediately took advantage of this calm, and proclaimed that Christ "whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things."[1000] Then the priests and choristers with their[338] adherents rushed to the towers, ran up into the belfry, and sounded the tocsin.

These means succeeded: a crowd was collected, and if Farel had not retired, his death and Boyve's would have been inevitable. "But God," says the chronicle, "delivered them." They crossed the interval that separates Boudevilliers from Valangin, and drew near the steep gorges of the torrent of the Seyon. But how traverse that town, which the tocsin had already alarmed?

Leaving Chaumont and its dark forests to the left, these two heralds of the Gospel took a narrow path that wound beneath the castle: they were stealing cautiously along, when suddenly a shower of stones assailed them, and at the same time a score of individuals,—priests, men, and women,—armed with clubs, fell furiously upon them. "The priests had not the gout either in their feet or arms," says a chronicler; "the ministers were so beaten that they nearly lost their lives."[1001]

Madame de Vergy, who descended to the terrace, far from moderating the anger of the priests, cried out: "Drown them!—drown them! throw them into the Seyon—these Lutheran dogs, who have despised the Host!"[1002] In fact, the priests were beginning to drag the two heretics towards the bridge. Never was Farel nearer death.


On a sudden, from behind the last rock that hides Valangin in the direction of the mountain, there appeared "certain good persons of the Val de Ruz coming from Neuchatel"[1003] and descending into the valley. "What are you doing?" asked they of the priests, with the intention no doubt of saving Farel; "put them rather in a place of safety, that they may answer for their proceedings? Would you deprive[339] yourselves of the only means in your power of discovering those infected by the poison of heresy?"

The priests left off at these words, and conducted the prisoners to the castle. As they were passing before a little chapel, containing an image of the Virgin, "Kneel down," said they to Farel and Boyve, showing them the statue; "prostrate yourselves before Our Lady!" Farel began to admonish them; "Worship one God alone in spirit and in truth," said he to them, "and not dumb images without life or power." But they, continues the chronicle, "greatly vexed at his words and his firmness, inflicted on him so many blows, that he was covered with blood, which even spirted on the walls of the chapel. For a long time after the traces of it might still be seen."[1004]

They resumed their march—they entered the town—they climbed the steep road that led to the esplanade where Guillemette de Vergy and her attendants waited for the "Lutherans;" so that, continues the chronicle, "from beating them thus continually, they conducted them all covered with filth and blood to the prisons, and let them down almost lifeless into the dungeon (croton) of the castle of Valangin." Thus had Paul at Lystra been stoned by the Jews, drawn out of the city, and left for dead.[1005] The Apostles and the Reformers preached the same doctrine and suffered the same treatment.


It may perhaps be said, that Farel and Boyve were too violent in their attack; but the Church of the Middle Ages, which had fallen back into the legal spirit of Judaism, and into all the corruptions that flow from it, needed an energetic opposition to lead it again to the principle of grace. Augustin and St. Paul reappeared in the Church of the sixteenth century; and when we read of Boyve rushing in great emotion on those who were about to worship the bread of the Mass,[340] may we not recall to mind the action of St Paul, rending his clothes, and running in among the people, who were desirous of worshipping "men of like passions with themselves?"[1006]

Farel and Boyve, thrust into the dungeons of the castle, could, like Paul and Silas in the prison at Philippi, "sing praises unto God." Messire de Bellegarde, ever ready to persecute the Gospel, was preparing for them a cruel end, when some townsmen of Neuchatel arrived to claim them. Madame de Valangin dared not refuse, and at the demand of the Bernese even instituted an inquiry, "to put a good face on the matter," says a manuscript. "Nevertheless that priest who had beaten Farel most, never after failed to eat daily at the lady's table, by way of recompense."[1007] But this was of little consequence: the seed of truth had been sown in the Val de Ruz.

At Neuchatel the Bernese supported the Evangelical citizens. The governor, whose resources were exhausted, sent ambassadors to the princess, "begging her to cross the mountains, to appease her people, who were in terrible trouble in consequence of this Lutheran religion."[1008]

Meantime the ferment increased. The townspeople prayed the canons to give up the Mass: they refused; whereupon the citizens presented them their reasons in writing, and begged them to discuss the question with Farel. Still the same refusal!—"But, for goodness' sake, speak either for or against!" It was all of no use!


On Sunday, the 23d of October, Farel, who had returned to Neuchatel, was preaching at the hospital. He knew that the magistrates of the city had deliberated on the expediency of consecrating the cathedral itself to the Evangelical worship. "What then," said he, "will you not pay as much honour to the Gospel as the other party does to the Mass?......And if this superstitious act is celebrated in the high church, shall not the Gospel be proclaimed there also?" At these words all[341] his hearers arose. "To the church!" cried they; "to the church!" Impetuous men are desirous of putting their heads to work, to accomplish what the prudence of the burgesses had proposed.[1009] They leave the hospital, and take Farel with them. They climb the steep street of the castle: in vain would the canons and their frightened followers stop the crowd: they force a passage. Convinced that they are advancing for God's glory, nothing can check them. Insults and shouts assail them from every side, but in the name of the Truth they are defending, they proceed: they open the gates of the Church of our Lady; they enter, and here a fresh struggle begins. The canons and their friends assembled around the pulpit endeavour to stop Farel; but all is useless. They have not to deal with a band of rioters. God has pronounced in his Word, and the magistrates themselves have passed a definitive resolution. The townspeople advance, therefore, against the sacerdotal coterie; they form a close battalion, in the centre of which they place the reformer. They succeed in making their way through the opposing crowd, and at last place the minister in the pulpit without any harm befalling him.[1010]

Immediately all is calm within the church and without; even the adversaries are silent, and Farel delivers "one of the most effective sermons he had hitherto preached." Their eyes are opened; their emotion increases; their hearts are melted; the most obstinate appear converted; and from every part of the old church these cries resound: "We will follow the Evangelical religion, both we and our children, and in it will we live and die."[1011]



Suddenly a whirlwind, as it were, sweeps over this multitude, and stirs it up like a vast sea. Farel's hearers desire to imitate the pious King Josiah.[1012] "If we take away these idols from before our eyes, will it not be aiding us," said they, "in taking them from our own hearts? Once these idols broken, how many souls among our fellow-citizens, now disturbed and hesitating, will be decided by this striking manifestation of the truth! We must save them as it were by fire."[1013]

This latter motive decides them, and then begins a scene that fills the Romanists with horror, and which must, according to them, bring down the terrible judgment of God on the city.

The very spot where this takes place would seem to add to its solemnity. To the north the castle-walls rise above the pointed crags of the gloomy but picturesque valley of the Seyon, and the mountain in front of the castle presents to the eye little more than bare rocks, vines, and black firs. But to the south, beneath the terrace on which this tumultuous scene is passing, extend the wide and tranquil waters of the lake with its fertile and picturesque shores; and in the distance the continuous summits of the higher Alps with their dazzling snows, their immense glaciers, and gigantic peaks, lie before the enraptured eye.

On this platform the people of Neuchatel were in commotion, paying little attention to these noble scenes of nature. The governor, whose castle adjoined the church, was compelled to remain an idle spectator of the excesses that he could not prevent; he was content to leave us a description of them. "These daring fellows," says he, "seize mattocks, hatchets, and hammers, and thus march against the images of the saints." They advance—they strike the statues and the altars—they dash them to pieces. The figures carved in the fourteenth century by the "imagers" of Count Louis are not spared; and scarcely do the statues of the counts themselves,[343] which were mistaken for idols, escape destruction. The townspeople collect all these fragments of an idolatrous worship; they carry them out of the church, and throw them from the top of the rock. The paintings meet with no better treatment. "It is the devil," thought they with the early Christians, "who taught the world this art of statues, images, and all sorts of likenesses."[1014] They tear out the eyes in the pictures of the saints, and cut off their noses. The crucifix itself is thrown down, for this wooden figure usurps the homage that Jesus Christ claims in the heart. One image, the most venerated of all, still remains: it is our Lady of Mercy, which Mary of Savoy had presented to the collegiate church; but Our Lady herself is not spared. A hand more daring than the rest strikes it, as, in the fourth century, the colossal statue of Serapis was struck.[1015] "They have even bored out the eyes of Our Lady of Mercy, which the departed lady your mother had caused to be made," wrote the governor to the Duchess of Longueville.

The Reformed went still further: they seized the patens in which lay the corpus Domini, and flung them from the top of the rock into the torrent; after which, being desirous of showing that the consecrated wafers are mere bread, and not God himself, they distributed them one to another and ate them......At this sight the canons and chaplains could no longer remain quiet. A cry of horror was heard; they ran up with their adherents, and opposed force to force. At length began the struggle that had been so much dreaded.


The provost Oliver of Hochberg, the canons Simon of Neuchatel and Pontus of Soleilant, all three members of the privy council, had repaired hastily to the castle, as well as the other councillors of the princess. Until this moment they had remained silent spectators of the scene; but when they saw the two parties were coming to blows, they ordered all "the[344] supporters of the Evangelical doctrine" to appear before the governor. This was like trying to chain the winds. Besides, why should the Reformers stop? They were not acting without legitimate authority.[1016] "Tell the governor," replied the townspeople haughtily, "that in the concerns of God and of our souls he has no command over us."[1017]

George de Rive then discovered that his authority failed against a power superior to his own. He must yield, and save at least some remnants. He hastened therefore to remove the images that still remained, and to shut them up in secret chambers. The citizens of Neuchatel allowed him to execute this measure. "Save your gods," thought they, "preserve them under strong bars, lest perchance a robber should deprive you of the objects of your adoration."[1018] By degrees the tumult died away, the popular torrent returned within its channel, and a little after, in commemoration of this great day, they inscribed these words on a pillar of the church:—



An immense revolution had been effected. Doubtless it would have been better if the images had been taken away and the Gospel substituted in their place with calmness, as at Zurich; but we must take into consideration the difficulties that so profound and contested a change brings with it, and make allowance for the inexperience and excesses inseparable[345] from a first explosion. He who should see in this revolution its excesses only, would betray a singularly narrow mind. It is the Gospel that triumphed on the esplanade of the castle. It was no longer a few pictures or legends that were to speak to the imagination of the Neuchatelans: the revelation of Christ and of the Apostles, as it had been preserved in the Holy Scriptures, was restored to them. In place of the mysteries, symbols, and miracles of Popery, the Reformation brought them sublime tenets, powerful doctrines, holy and eternal truths. Instead of a Mass, void of God, and filled with human puerilities, it restored to them the Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ, his invisible yet real and mighty presence, his promises giving peace to the soul, and his Spirit, which changes the heart, and is a sure pledge of a glorious resurrection. All is gain in such an exchange.

VIII. The governor and his trusty friends had not, however, lost all hope. "It is only a minority," said they at the castle, "which has taken part in the destruction of the images; the majority of the nation still obeys the ancient doctrine." M. de Rive had yet to learn that if, in a popular movement, only the minority appears, it is in some cases because the majority, being of the same mind with it, prefers leaving the action to others. However that may be, the governor, thinking himself upon sure ground, resolved to put the preservation of the Mass to the vote. If the majority were doubtful, the combined influence of the government and clergy would make it incline to the side of Rome. The friends of the Reformation perceiving this trick, and feeling the necessity of securing the integrity of the votes, demanded the presence of Bernese commissioners. This was at first refused. But Neuchatel, divided into two hostile parties, might at any time see her streets run blood: De Rive therefore called Berne to his aid.


Anthony Noll and Sulpice Archer, both members of the council, with Jacques Tribolet, bailiff of the Isle of St. John, all three devoted to the Reform, made their entry into Neuchatel[346] on the 4th November,—an eventful day for the principality, and one which would decide on its reformation. The deputies proceeded to the castle, and there spoke with haughtiness.[1020] "Their excellencies of Berne," said they to the governor, "are much astonished that you should oppose the true and pure Word of God. Desist immediately, or else your state and lordship may suffer for it."[1021]

George de Rive was amazed; he had thought to summon helpers, and he had found masters. He made, however, an attempt to escape from the strait in which he was caught. The Roman-catholic cantons of Lucerne, Friburg, and Soleure, were also allies of the state. The governor insinuated to the Bernese deputies, that he might well claim their intervention. At these words the deputies indignantly arose, and declared to M. de Rive, that if he did so, he might be the cause of his sovereign's losing Neuchatel. The governor saw the impossibility of escaping from the net into which he had fallen. There remained no alternative but submission, and to watch the current of events which it was impossible for him to direct.

It was not thus with the canons and the nobles. Not considering themselves beaten, they surrounded the Bernese; and mingling, as they always do in similar cases, religion and politics, endeavoured to shake them. "Do you not see," said they, "that unless we support the spiritual power, we shall compromise the civil power? The surest bulwark of the throne is the altar! These men, whose defenders you have become, are but a handful of mischief-makers: the majority are for the Mass!"—"Turn which way you like," replied one of the stubborn Bernese, "even though the majority should be on your side, still you must go that way; never will our lordships abandon the defenders of the Evangelical faith."[1022]



The people assembled at the castle for the definitive vote. The destiny of Neuchatel was about to be decided. On one hand were crowded around the governor the privy council, the canons, and the most zealous of the Romanists; on the other were to be seen the four aldermen, the town-council, and a great number of the citizens, gravely ascending the steep avenue leading to the government-house, and drawing up in front of their adversaries. On both sides there was the same attachment to the faith they had embraced, the same decision; but around the canons were many anxious minds, troubled hearts, and downcast eyes, while the friends of the Reform advanced with uplifted heads, firm looks, and hearts full of hope.

George de Rive, wishing to gain over their minds, began to address them. He described the violence with which the Reformed had broken the images, and thrown down the altars; "And yet," continued he, "who founded this church? It was the princess's predecessors, and not the citizens. For which reason, I demand that all those who have violently infringed our sovereign's authority, be obliged to restore what they have taken away, so that the holy Mass, and the canonical hours may be celebrated anew."[1023]

Upon this the prudhommes of Neuchatel advanced. They were not a troop of young and giddy persons, as the Papists had pretended; they were grave citizens, whose liberties were guaranteed, and who had weighed what they had to say. "By the illumination of the Holy Ghost," replied they, "and by the holy doctrines of the Gospel, which are taught us in the pure Word of God, we will show that the Mass is an abuse, without any utility, and which conduces much more to the damnation than to the salvation of souls. And we are ready to prove that by taking away the altars, we have done nothing that was not right and acceptable to God."[1024]


Thus the two parties met face to face with "great hatred and division," says the Bernese report. The arbitrators consulted[348] together. The governor persisted, feeling that this movement would decide the future. A few votes would suffice for the triumph of Rome, and he reckoned on gaining them by his assurance. "You should understand," said he, "that the majority of this town, men and women, adhere firmly to the ancient faith. The others are hot-headed young soldiers, vain of their persons, and puffed up with the new doctrine."[1025]—"Well!" replied the Bernese deputies, "to prevent all mischief, let us settle this difference by the plurality of suffrages, in accordance with the treaty of peace made at Bremgarten between the cantons."


This was what the Reformed desired. "The vote! the vote!" cried they according to the expression consecrated to such cases.[1026] But the lord of Prangins and the priests, who had desired it when they were alone, shrunk back in the presence of Berne. "We ask for time," said they. If the Reformed allowed themselves to be cheated by these dilatory measures, it was all over. When once the Bernese had quitted Neuchatel, the governor and the clergy would easily have the upperhand. They therefore remained firm. "No, no!" said they, "now!—no delay!—not a day! not an hour!" But the governor, in the face of a proceeding that would decide the legal fall of Popery, trembled, and obstinately opposed the cries of the people. The magistrates were already indignant, the burghers murmured, and the most violent looked at their swords. "They were resolved to compel us, sword in hand," wrote the governor to the princess. A fresh storm was gathering over Neuchatel. Yet a few more minutes' resistance, and it would burst forth upon the church, the town, and the castle, destroying not only statues, images, and altars, but "there would have remained[349] dead men," said the lord of Rive.[1027] He gave way in trouble and affright.

At the news of this concession, the partisans of Rome saw all their danger. They confer, they concert their measures, and in an instant their resolution is taken: they are resolved to fight.[1028] "My lord," said they, turning to M. de Rive, and touching the hilt of their swords, "all of us who adhere to the holy Sacrament are resolved to die martyrs for our holy faith."[1029] This demonstration did not escape the notice of the young soldiers who had returned from the Genevese war. One minute more and the swords would have been drawn, and the platform changed into a battlefield.

Monseigneur de Prangins, more wily than orthodox, shuddered at the thought. "I cannot suffer it," said he to the most violent of his party; "such an enterprise would forfeit my mistress's state and lordship."[1030]—"I consent," said he to the Bernese, "to take the votes, with reserve nevertheless of the sovereignty, rights, and lordship of Madame."—"And we," replied the townspeople, "with the reserve of our liberties and privileges."

The Romanists, seeing the political power they had invoked now failing them, felt that all was lost. They will save their honour at least in this great shipwreck; they will subscribe their names, that posterity may know who had remained faithful to Rome. These proud supporters of the hierarchy advance towards the governor; tears course down their rough cheeks, betraying thus their stifled anger. They write their signatures as witnesses at the foot of the solemn testament that Popery is now drawing up in Neuchatel, in the presence of the Bernese deputies. They then added, with tears in their eyes, "that the names and surnames of the good and of the perverse had been written in perpetual memory, and declared that they were still good and faithful burghers of Madame, and would do her service unto death."[1031]



The reformed townspeople were convinced that it was only by frankly bearing testimony to their religious convictions that they could discharge their debt before God, their sovereign, and their fellow-citizens. So that the Catholics had scarcely protested their fidelity towards their lady, when, turning towards the governor, the Reformed cried out: "We say the same in every other thing in which it shall please our Mistress to command us, save and except the Evangelical faith, in which we will live and die."[1032]

Everything was then prepared for taking the votes. The church of our lady was opened, and the two parties advanced between the shattered altars, torn pictures, mutilated statues, and all those ruins of Popery, which clearly foretold to its partisans the last and irrevocable defeat it was about to undergo. The three Lords of Berne took their station beside the governor as arbitrators of the proceedings and presidents of the assembly, and the voting began.

George de Rive, notwithstanding the despondency of his friends, was not altogether without hope. All the partisans of the ancient worship in Neuchatel had been forewarned; and but a few days previously the Reformed themselves, by refusing the voting, had acknowledged the numerical superiority of their adversaries. But the friends of the Gospel in Neuchatel had a courage and a hope that seemed to repose on a firmer basis. Were they not the victorious party, and could they be vanquished in the midst of their triumph?


The two parties, however, moved forward, confounded one with the other, and each man gave his vote in silence. They counted each other: the result appeared uncertain; fear froze each party by turns. At length the majority seemed to declare itself;—they took out the votes,—the result was[351] proclaimed. A majority of eighteen voices gave the victory to the Reformation, and the last blow to the Papacy!

The Bernese lords immediately hastened to profit by this advantage. "Live henceforth," said they, "in good understanding with one another; let the Mass be no longer celebrated; let no injury be done to the priests; and pay to your Lady, or to whomsoever they may be justly due, all tithes, quit-rent, cense, and revenues." These different points were proclaimed by the assembly, and a report was immediately drawn up, to which the deputies, the governors, and the magistrates of the city of Neuchatel affixed their respective seals.[1033]


Farel did not appear in all this business: one might have said that the reformer was not at Neuchatel: the citizens appealed only to the Word of God; and the governor himself, in his long report to the princess, does not once mention him. It was the Apostles of our Lord, St. Peter, St. John, St. Paul, and St. James, who by their divine writings re-established the true foundations of the Church in the midst of the people of Neuchatel. The Word of God was the law of the prudhommes of Neuchatel. In vain will the Roman Church say, "But these very Scriptures,—it is I who give them to you; you cannot therefore believe in them without believing in me." It is not from the Church of Rome that the Protestant Church receives the Bible. Protestantism has always existed in the Church. It has existed alone in every place where men have been engaged in the study of the Holy Scriptures, of their divine origin, of their interpretation, and in their dissemination. The Protestantism of the sixteenth century received the Bible from the Protestantism of every age. When Rome speaks of the hierarchy, she is on her own ground: as soon as she speaks of the Scriptures, she is on ours. If Farel had been put forward in Neuchatel, he would not perhaps[352] have been able to stand against the Pope; but the Word of Christ alone was concerned, and Rome must fall before Jesus.

Thus terminated, by a mutual contract, that day at first so threatening. If the Reformed had sacrificed any of their convictions to a false peace, disorder would have been perpetuated in Neuchatel. A bold manifestation of the truth and the inevitable shocks that accompanied it, far from destroying society, preserved it. This manifestation is the wind that lifts the vessel from the rocks and brings it into the harbour.

The Lord of Prangins felt that, between fellow-citizens, "it is better to touch one another, even if it be by collision, than to avoid each other continually." The free explanation that had taken place had rendered the opposition of the two parties less irritating. "I give my promise," said the governor, "to undertake nothing against the vote of this day, for I am myself a witness that it has been honest, upright, without danger, and without coercion."[1034]

It was necessary to dispose of the spoils of the vanquished party: the governor opened the castle to them. Thither were transported the relics, the ornaments of the altars, the church papers, and even the organ; and the Mass, expelled from the city, was there mournfully chanted every day.

All the ornaments, however, did not take this road. Some days after, as two citizens, named Fauche and Sauge, were going out together to their vineyards, they passed a little chapel, in which the latter had set up a wooden figure of St. John. He said to his companion, "There is an image I shall heat my stove with to-morrow." And, in fact, as he returned, he carried away the saint and laid it down in front of his house.


The next morning he took the image and put it on the fire. Immediately a horrible explosion spread dismay through this humbly family. The trembling Fauche doubts not that it is a miracle of the saint, and hastens to return to the Mass. In[353] vain does his neighbour Sauge protest to him upon oath that, during the night, he had made a hole in the statue, filled it with gunpowder, and closed it up again. Fauche will listen to nothing, and resolves to flee from the vengeance of the saints. He went and settled with his family at Morteau in Franche Comté.[1035] Such are the miracles upon which the divinity of Rome reposes!

By degrees everything became settled: some of the canons, as Jacques Baillod, William de Pury, and Benedict Chambrier, embraced the Reformation. Others were recommended by the governor to the priory of Motiers, in the Val de Travers; and, in the middle of November, at the time when the winds begin to rage among the mountains, several canons, surrounded by a few singing-boys,—sad relics of the ancient, powerful, rich, voluptuous, and haughty chapter of Neuchatel, painfully climbed up the gorges of the Jura, and went to conceal in these lofty and picturesque valleys the disgrace of a defeat, which their long disorders and their insupportable tyranny had but too justly provoked.


During this time the new worship was organized. In room of the high-altar were substituted two marble tables to receive the bread and wine; and the Word of God was preached from a pulpit stripped of every ornament. The pre-eminence of the Word, which characterizes the Evangelical worship, replaced in the church of Neuchatel the preeminence of the sacrament, which characterizes Popery. Towards the end of the second century, Rome, that ancient metropolis of all religions, after having welcomed the Christian worship in its primitive purity, had gradually transformed it into mysteries; a magic power had been ascribed to certain forms; and the reign of the sacrifice offered by the priest had succeeded to the reign of the Word of God. The preaching of Farel had restored the Word to the rights which belong to it; and those vaulted roofs, which the piety of Count Ulric II. had, on his return from Jerusalem, dedicated to the worship of the[354] Virgin, served at last, after four centuries, to nourish the faithful, as in the time of the Apostles, "in the words of faith and of good doctrine."[1036]

IX. The convention, drawn up under the mediation of Berne, stipulated that "the change should take place only in the city and parish of Neuchatel." Must the rest of the country remain in darkness? This was not Farel's wish, and the zeal of the citizens, in its first fervour, effectually seconded him. They visited the surrounding villages, exhorting some, combating others. Those who were compelled to labour with their hands during the day went thither at night. "Now, I am informed," writes the governor to the princess, "that they are working at a reformation night and day."

George de Rive, in alarm, convoked the magistrates of all the districts in the earldom. These good folks believed that their consciences, as well as their places, depended upon Madame de Longueville. Affrighted at the thought of freely receiving a new conviction from the Word of God, they were quite ready to accept it from the countess as they would a new impost. A sad helotism, in which religion springs from the soil, instead of descending from heaven! "We desire to live and die under the protection of our lady," said the magistrates to the Lord of Rive, "without changing the ancient faith, until it be so ordered by her."[1037] Rome, even after her fall, could not receive a deeper insult.


These assurances of fidelity and the absence of the Bernese restored De Rive's confidence, and he secretly prepared a reaction among the nobles and the lower classes. There is in every historical catastrophe, in the fall of great establishments, and in the spectacle of their ruins, something which excites and improves the mind. This was what happened at the period in question. Some were more zealous for Popery[355] after its fall than in its day of power. The priests gliding into the houses said Mass to a few friends mysteriously called together around a temporary altar. If a child was born, the priest noiselessly arrived, breathed on the infant, made the sign of the cross on its forehead and breast, and baptized it according to the Roman ritual.[1038] Thus they were rebuilding in secret what had been overthrown in the light of day. At length a counter-revolution was agreed upon; and Christmas day was selected for the restoration of Roman-catholicism. While the Christians' songs of joy should be rising to heaven, the partisans of Rome were to rush into the church, expel the heretical assembly, overthrow the pulpit and the holy table, restore the images, and celebrate the Mass in triumph. Such was the plan of the Neuchatelan vespers.[1039]

The plot got wind. Deputies from Berne arrived at Neuchatel on the very eve of the festival. "You must see to this," said they to the governor: "if the Reformed are attacked, we, their co-burghers, will protect them with all our power." The conspirators laid down their arms, and the Christmas hymns were not disturbed.

This signal deliverance augmented the devotion and zeal of the friends of the Gospel. Already Emer Beynon of Serrière, where Farel had one day landed from a small boat, ascending the pulpit, had said to his parishioners: "If I have been a good priest, I desire by the grace of God to be a still better pastor." It was necessary for these words to be heard from every pulpit. Farel recommenced a career of labours, fatigues, and struggles, which the actions of the apostles and missionaries alone can equal.


Towards the end of the year 1530, he crossed the mountain in the middle of winter, entered the church of Valangin, went into the pulpit, and began to preach at the very moment that Guillemette de Vergy was coming to Mass. She endeavoured to shut the reformer's mouth, but in vain, and the aged and[356] noble dowager retired precipitately, saying: "I do not think this is according to the old Gospels; if there are any new ones that encourage this, I am quite amazed."[1040] The people of Valangin embraced the Gospel. The affrighted lieutenant ran to Neuchatel, thence to Berne, and on the 11th February 1521 laid his complaint before the council; but all was useless. "Why," said their excellencies of Berne to him, "why should you disturb the water of the river? let it flow freely on."

Farel immediately turned to the parishes on the slopes between the lake and Mount Jura. At Corcelles a fanatic crowd, well armed and led on by the curate of Neuchatel, rushed into the church where the minister was preaching, and he did not escape without a wound. At Bevay, the abbot John of Livron and his monks collected a numerous body of friends, surrounded the church, and having thus completed the blockade, entered the building, dragged the minister from the pulpit, and drove him out with blows and insults. Each time he reappeared, they pursued him as far as Auvernier with stones and gunshots.


While Farel was thus preaching in the plain, he sent one of his brethren into the valley; it was John de Bély, a man of good family from Crest in Dauphiny. Beyond Valangin, at a little distance from Fontaine, on the left side of the road to Cernier, was a stone that remains to this day. It was here in the open air, as if in a magnificent temple, that this herald of the Gospel began to proclaim salvation by grace.[1041] Before him stretched the declivity of Chaumont, dotted with the pretty villages of Fenin, Villars, Sole, and Savagnier, and beyond, where the mountains fell away, might be seen the distant and picturesque chain of the Alps. The most zealous[357] of his hearers entreated him to enter the church. He did so; but suddenly the priest and his curate "arrived with great noise." They proceeded to the pulpit, dragged Bély down; and then turning to the women and young persons of the place, "excited them to beat him and drive him away."[1042]

John de Bély returned to Neuchatel, hooted and bruised, like his friend after the affair at Valangin; but these evangelists followed the traces of the Apostle Paul, whom neither whips nor scourges could arrest.[1043] De Bély often returned to Fontaine. The Mass was abolished erelong in this village; Bély was its pastor for twenty-seven years; his descendants have more than once exercised the ministry there, and now they form the most numerous family of agriculturists in the place.

Farel, after evangelizing the shores of the lake to the south of Neuchatel, had gone to the north and preached at St. Blaise. The populace, stirred up by the priests and the lieutenant, had fallen upon him, and Farel escaped from their hands, severely beaten, spitting blood, and scarcely recognisable. His friends had thrown him hurriedly into a boat, and conveyed him to Morat, where his wounds detained him for some time.[1044]

At the report of this violence the reformed Neuchatelans felt their blood boil. If the lieutenant, the priest, and his flock have bruised the body of Christ's servant, which is truly the altar of the living God, why should they spare dead idols? Immediately they rush to St. Blaise, throw down the images, and do the same at the abbey of Fontaine-André,—a sanctuary of the ancient worship.


The images still existed at Valangin, but their last hour was about to strike. A Frenchman, Anthony Marcourt, had been nominated pastor of Neuchatel. Treading in Farel's footsteps, he repaired with a few of the citizens to Valangin on the 14th June, a great holiday in that town.[1045] Scarcely had they[358] arrived when a numerous crowd pressed around the minister, listening to his words. The canons, who were on the watch in their houses, and Madame de Vergy and M. de Bellegarde from their towers, sought how they could make a diversion against this heretical preaching? They could not employ force because of Berne. They had recourse to a brutal expedient, worthy of the darkest days of Popery, and which, by insulting the minister, might divert (they imagined) the attention of the people, and change it into shouts and laughter. A canon,[1046] assisted by the countess's coachman, went to the stables and took thence two animals, which they led to the spot where Marcourt was preaching. We will throw a veil over this scene: it is one of those disgraceful subjects which the pen of history refuses to transcribe.[1047] But never did punishment follow closer upon crime. The conscience of the hearers was aroused at the sight of this infamous spectacle. The torrent, that such a proceeding was intended to check, rushed out of its channel. The indignant people, undertaking the defence of that religion which their opponents had wished to insult, entered the church like an avenging wave; the ancient windows were broken, the shields of the lords were demolished, the relics scattered about, the books torn, the images thrown down, and the altar overturned. But this was not enough: the popular wave, after sweeping out the church, flowed back again, and dashed against the canons' houses. Their inhabitants fled in consternation into the forests, and everything was destroyed in their dwellings.


Guillemette de Vergy and M. de Bellegarde, agitated and trembling behind their battlements, repenting, but too late, of their monstrous expedient, are the only ones who have not yet suffered the popular vengeance. Their restless eyes[359] watch the motions of the indignant townspeople. The work is completed! the last house is sacked! The burghers consult together.—O horror!—they turn towards the castle,—they ascend the hill,—they draw near. Is then the abode of the noble counts of Arberg about to be laid waste? But no!—"We come," said the delegates standing near the gate of the castle, "we are come to demand justice for the outrage committed against religion and its minister." They are permitted to enter, and the trembling countess orders the poor wretches to be punished who had acted solely by her orders. But at the same time she sends deputies to Berne, complaining of the "great insults that had been offered her."[1048] Berne declared that the Reformed should pay for the damage; but that the countess should grant them the free exercise of their worship. Jacques Veluzat, a native of Champagne, was the first pastor of Valangin. A little later we shall see new struggles at the foot of Mount Jura.

Thus was the Reformation established at Valangin, as it had been at Neuchatel: the two capitals of these mountains were gained to the Gospel. Erelong it received a legal sanction. Francis, Marquis of Rothelin, son of the Duchess of Longueville, arrived in the principality in March, 1581, with the intention of playing on this small theatre the part of a Francis I. But he soon found out that there are revolutions which an irresistible hand has accomplished, and that must be submitted to. Rothelin excluded from the estates of the earldom the canons who had hitherto formed the first power, and replaced them by four bannerets and four burgesses. Then, availing himself of the principle that all abandoned property falls to the state, he laid his hands upon their rich heritage, and proclaimed freedom of conscience throughout all the country. All the necessary forms having been observed with Madame, the politic M. de Rive became reformed also. Such was the support Rome received from the State, to which she had looked for her deliverance.


[360]A great energy characterized the Reformation of French Switzerland; and this is shown by the events we have just witnessed. Men have attributed to Farel this distinctive feature of his work; but no man has ever created his own times; it is always, on the contrary, the times that create the man. The greater the epoch, the less do individualities prevail in it. All the good contained in the events we have just related came from that Almighty Spirit, of which the strongest men are but weak instruments. All the evil proceeded from the character of the people; and, indeed, it was almost always Popery that began these scenes of violence: Farel submitted to the influence of his time, rather than the time received his. A great man may be the personification and the type of the epoch for which God destines him: he is never its creator.

But it is time to quit the Jura and its beautiful valleys, brightened by the vernal sun, to direct our step towards the Alps of German Switzerland, along which thick clouds and horrible tempests are beginning to gather. The free and courageous people, who dwell below the eternal glaciers, or on the smiling banks of the lakes, daily assume a fiercer aspect, and the collision threatens to be sudden, violent, and terrible. We have just been witnessing a glorious conquest: a dreadful catastrophe awaits us.




I. It was the will of God that at the very gates of his revived Church there should be two great examples to serve as lessons for future generations. Luther and the German Reformation, declining the aid of the temporal power, rejecting the force of arms, and looking for victory only in the confession of the truth, were destined to see their faith crowned with the most brilliant success; while Zwingle and the Swiss Reformation, stretching out their hands to the mighty ones of the earth, and grasping the sword, were fated to witness a horrible, cruel, and bloody catastrophe fall upon the Word of God—a catastrophe which threatened to engulf the Evangelical cause in the most furious whirlpool. God is a jealous God, and gives not his glory to another; he claims to perform his own work himself, and to attain his ends sets other springs in motion than those of a skilful diplomacy.

We are far from forgetting that we are called upon to relate facts and not to discuss theories; but there is a principle which the history we are narrating sets forth in capital letters: it is that professed in the Gospel, where it says: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God! In maintaining this truth we do not place ourselves on the ground of any particular school, but on that of universal conscience and of the Word of God.


Of all carnal support that religion can invoke, there is none more injurious to it than arms and diplomacy. The latter throws it into tortuous ways; the former hurries it into paths of bloodshed; and Religion, from whose brow has been torn the double wreath of truth and meekness, presents but a degraded[362] and humiliated countenance that no person can, that no person desires to recognise.

It was the very extension of the Reform in Switzerland that exposed it to the dangers under which it sunk. So long as it was concentrated at Zurich, it continued a religious matter; but when it had gained Berne, Basle, Schaffhausen, St. Gall, Glaris, Appenzell, and numerous bailiwicks, it formed inter-cantonal relations; and—here was the error and misfortune—while the connexion should have taken place between church and church, it was formed between state and state.

As soon as spiritual and political matters became mingled together, the latter took the upperhand. Zwingle erelong thought it his duty to examine not only doctrinal, but also federal questions; and the illustrious reformer might be seen, unconscious of the snares beneath his feet, precipitating himself into a course strewn with rocks, at the end of which a cruel death awaited him.

The primitive Swiss cantons had resigned the right of forming new alliances without the consent of all; but Zurich and Berne had reserved the power. Zwingle thought himself therefore quite at liberty to promote an alliance with the Evangelical states. Constance was the first city that gave her adhesion. But this Christian co-burghery, which might become the germ of a new confederation, immediately raised up numerous adversaries against Zwingle, even among the partisans of the Reformation.

There was yet time: Zwingle might withdraw from public affairs, to occupy himself entirely with those of the Gospel. But no one in Zurich had, like him, that application to labour, that correct, keen, and sure eye, so necessary for politicians. If he retired, the vessel of the state would be left without a pilot. Besides, he was convinced that political acts alone could save the Reform. He resolved, therefore, to be at one and the same time the man of the State and of the Church. The registers prove that in his latter years he took part in the most important deliberations; and he was commissioned by[363] the council of his canton to write letters, compose proclamations, and draw up opinions. Already, before the dispute with Berne, looking upon war as possible, he had traced out a very detailed plan of defence, the manuscript of which is still in existence.[1049] In 1528 he did still more; he showed in a remarkable paper, how the republic should act with regard to the Empire, France, and other European states, and with respect to the several cantons and bailiwicks. Then, as if he had grown grey at the head of the Helvetic troops (and it is but just to remark that he had long lived among soldiers), he explained the advantages there would be in surprising the enemy; and he described even the nature of the arms, and the manner of employing them. In truth, an important revolution was then taking place in the art of war. The pastor of Zurich is at once the head of the state and general of the army: this double—this triple part of the reformer was the ruin of the Reformation and of himself. Undoubtedly we must make allowances for the men of this age, who, being accustomed to see Rome wield two swords for so many centuries, did not understand that they must take up one and leave the other. We must admire the strength of that superior genius, which, while pursuing a political course, in which the greatest minds would have been absorbed, ceased not however to display an indefatigable activity as pastor, preacher, divine, and author. We must acknowledge that the republican education of Zwingle had taught him to confound his country with his religion, and that there was in this great man enough to fill up many lives. We must appreciate that indomitable courage which, relying upon justice, feared not, at a time when Zurich had but one or two weak cities for allies, to confront the redoubtable forces of the Empire and of the Confederation; but we should also see in the great and terrible lesson that God gave him, a precept for all times and for every nation; and finally, understand what is so often forgotten, "that the kingdom of Christ is not of this world."



The Roman-catholic cantons, on hearing of the new alliances of the Reformed, felt a violent indignation. William of Diesbach, deputy from Berne at the diet, was forced to submit to the keenest reproaches. The sitting, for some time interrupted, was resumed immediately after his departure. "They may try to patch up the old faith," said the Bernese, as he withdrew, "it cannot, however, last any longer."[1050] In truth, they patched away with all their might, but with a sharp and envenomed needle that drew blood. Joseph Am Berg of Schwytz and Jacques Stocker of Zug, bailiffs of Thurgovia, treated with cruelty all who were attached to the Gospel. They enforced against them fines, imprisonment, torture, the scourge, confiscation, and banishment; they cut out the ministers' tongues, beheaded them, or condemned them to be burnt.[1051] At the same time they took away the Bibles and all the evangelical books; and if any poor Lutherans, fleeing from Austria, crossed the Rhine and that low valley where its calm waters flow between the Alps of the Tyrol and of Appenzell,—if these poor creatures, tracked by the lansquenets, came to seek a refuge in Switzerland, they were cruelly given up to their persecutors.


The heavier lay the hands of the bailiff on Thurgovia and the Rhienthal, the greater conquests did the Gospel make. The Bishop of Constance wrote to the Five Cantons, that if they did not act with firmness, all the country would embrace the Reform. In consequence of this, the cantons convoked at Frauenfeld all the prelates, nobles, judges, and persons of note in the district; and a second meeting taking place six days after (6th December 1528) at Weinfeld, deputies from Berne and Zurich entreated the assembly to consider the honour of God above all things, and in no respect to care for the threats of the world.[1052] A great agitation followed upon this discourse. At last a majority called for the preaching of the Word of[365] God: the people came to the same decision; and the Rheinthal, as well as Bremgarten, followed this example.

What was to be done? The flood had become hourly encroaching. Must then the Forest Cantons open their valleys to it at last? Religious antipathies put an end to national antipathies; and these proud mountaineers, directing their looks beyond the Rhine, thought of invoking the succour of Austria, which they had vanquished at Morgarten and at Sempach.[1053] The fanatical German party that had crushed the revolted Swabian peasants was all-powerful on the frontiers. Letters were exchanged; messengers passed to and fro across the river; at last they took advantage of a wedding in high rank that was to take place at Feldkirch in Swabia, six leagues from Appenzell. On the 16th February 1529, the marriage party, forming a brilliant cavalcade, in the midst of which the deputies of the Five Cantons were concealed, made their entry into Feldkirch, and Am Berg had an immediate interview with the Austrian governor. "The power of the enemies of our ancient faith has so increased," said the Swiss, "that the friends of the Church can resist them no longer. We therefore turn our eyes to that illustrious prince who has saved in Germany the faith of our fathers."

This alliance was so very unnatural, that the Austrians had some difficulty in believing it to be sincere. "Take hostages," said the Waldstettes, "write the articles of the treaty with your own hands; command, and we will obey!"—"Very good!" replied the Austrians; "in two months you find us again at Waldshut, and we will let you know our conditions."


A rumour of these negotiations being spread abroad excited great dissatisfaction, even in the partisans of Rome. In no place did it burst out with greater force than in the council of Zug. The opposing parties were violently agitated; they stamped their feet, they started from their seats, and were nearly coming to blows; but hatred prevailed over patriotism.[366] The Waldstette deputies appeared at Waldshut; they suspended the arms of their cantons by the side of those of the oppressors of Switzerland; they decorated their hats with peacocks' feathers (the badge of Austria), and laughed, drank, and chattered with the Imperialists. This strange alliance was at last concluded.[1054] "Whoever shall form new sects among the people," it ran, "shall be punished with death; and, if need be, with the help of Austria. This power, in case of emergency, shall send into Switzerland six thousand foot soldiers, and four hundred horse, with all requisite artillery. If necessary, the reformed cantons shall be blockaded, and all provisions intercepted." To the Romish cantons, then, belongs the initiative of this measure so much decried. Finally, Austria guaranteed to the Waldstettes the possession, not only of the common bailiwicks, but of all the conquests that might be made on the left bank of the Rhine.

Dejection and consternation immediately pervaded all Switzerland. The national complaint, which Bullinger has preserved, was sung in every direction:—

Wail, Helvetians, wail,
For the peacock's plume of pride
To the forest-cantons' savage bull
In friendship is allied.

All the cantons not included in this alliance, with the exception of Friburg, assembled in diet at Zurich, and resolved to send a deputation to their mountain confederates, with a view to reconciliation. The deputation, admitted at Schwytz in the presence of the people, was able to execute its mission without tumult. At Zug there was a cry of "No sermon! no sermon!" At Altorf the answer was: "Would to God that your new faith was buried for ever!" At Lucerne they received this haughty reply: "We shall know how to defend ourselves, our children, and our children's children, from the poison of your rebellious priests." It was[367] at Unterwalden that the deputation met with the worst reception. "We declare our alliance at an end," said they. "It is we,—it is the other Waldstettes who are the real Swiss. We graciously admitted you into our confederation, and now you claim to become our masters!—The Emperor, Austria, France, Savoy, and Valais will assist us!" The deputies retired in astonishment, shuddering as they passed before the house of the secretary of state, where they saw the arms of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Strasburg hanging from a lofty gibbet.

The deputation had scarcely returned to Zurich and made their report, when men's minds were inflamed. Zwingle proposed to grant no peace to Unterwalden, if it would not renounce foreign service, the alliance with Austria, and the government of the common bailiwicks. "No! no!" said Berne, that had just stifled a civil war in its own canton, "let us not be so hasty. When the rays of the sun shine forth, each one wishes to set out; but as soon as it begins to rain, every man loses heart! The Word of God enjoins peace. It is not with pikes and lances that faith is made to enter the heart. For this reason, in the name of our Lord's sufferings, we entreat you to moderate your anger."

This christian exhortation would have succeeded, if the fearful news that reached Zurich, on the very day when the Bernese delivered their moderate speech, had not rendered it unavailing.


On Saturday the 22d May, Jacques Keyser, a pastor and father of a family in the neighbourhood of the Greiffensee, after coasting the fertile shores of this little lake, crossed the rich pastures of the bailiwick of Gruningen, passed near the Teutonic house of Bubikon and the convent of Ruti, and reached that simple and wild district bathed by the upper part of Lake Zurich. Making his way to Oberkirk, a parish in the Gaster district, between the two lakes of Zurich and Wallenstadt, of which he had been nominated pastor, and where he was to preach on the morrow, he crossed on foot the lengthened and rounded flanks of the Buchberg, fronting the[368] picturesque heights of the Ammon. He was confidently advancing into those woods which for many weeks he had often traversed without obstruction, when he was suddenly seized by six men, posted there to surprise him, and carried off to Schwytz. "The bailiffs," said they to the magistrates, "have ordered all innovating ministers to be brought before the tribunals: here is one that we bring you." Although Zurich and Glaris interposed; although the government of Gaster, where Keyser had been taken, did not then belong to Schwytz; the Landsgemeinde desired a victim, and on the 29th May they condemned the minister to be burnt alive. On being informed of his sentence, Keyser burst into tears.[1055] But when the hour of execution arrived, he walked cheerfully to death, freely confessed his faith, and gave thanks to the Lord even with his latest breath. "Go and tell them at Zurich how he thanks us!" said one of the Schwytz magistrates, with a sarcastic smile, to the Zurich deputies. Thus had a fresh martyr fallen under the hands of that formidable power that is "drunk with the blood of the saints."[1056]

The cup was full. The flames of Keyser's pile became the signal of war. Exasperated Zurich uttered a cry that resounded through all the confederation. Zwingle above all called for energetic measures. Everywhere,—in the streets, in the councils, and even in the pulpits,—he surpassed in daring even the most valiant captains. He spoke at Zurich,—he wrote to Berne. "Let us be firm, and fear not to take up arms," said he. "This peace, which some desire so much, is not peace, but war: while the war that we call for is not war but peace.[1057] We thirst for no man's blood, but we will clip the wings of the oligarchy.[1058] If we shun it, the truth of the Gospel and the ministers' lives will never be secure among us."



Thus spoke Zwingle. In every part of Europe he beheld the mighty ones of the earth aiding one another to stifle the reviving animation of the Church; and he thought that without some decisive and energetic movement, Christianity, overwhelmed by so many blows, would soon fall back into its ancient slavery. Luther under similar circumstances arrested the swords ready to be crossed, and demanded that the Word of God alone should appear on the field of battle. Zwingle thought not thus. In his opinion war was not revolt, for Switzerland had no master. "Undoubtedly," said he, "we must trust in God alone; but when He gives us a just cause, we must also know how to defend it, and, like Joshua and Gideon, shed blood in behalf of our country and our God."

If we adopt the principles of justice which govern the rulers of nations, the advice of Zwingle was judicious and irreproachable. It was the duty of the Swiss magistrates to defend the oppressed against the oppressor. But is not such language, which might have been suitable in the mouth of a magistrate, blamable in a minister of Christ? Perhaps Zwingle forgot his quality of pastor, and considered himself only as a citizen, consulted by his fellow-citizens; perhaps he wished to defend Switzerland, and not the Church, by his counsels; but it is a question if he ought ever to have forgotten the Church and his ministry. We think we may go even further; and while granting all that may be urged in favour of the contrary supposition, we may deny that the secular power ought ever to interfere with the sword to protect the faith.


To accomplish his designs, the reformer needed even in Zurich the greatest unity. But there were many men in that city devoted to interests and superstitions which were opposed to him. "How long," had he exclaimed in the pulpit on the 1st December 1528, "will you support in the council these unbelievers, these impious men, who oppose the Word of God?"[1059] They had decided upon purging the council, as[370] required by the reformer; they had examined the citizens individually; and then had excluded all the hostile members.

II. On Saturday the 15th June 1529, seven days after Keyser's martyrdom, all Zurich was in agitation. The moment was come when Unterwalden should send a governor to the common bailiwicks; and the images, having been burnt in those districts, Unterwalden had sworn to take a signal revenge.[1060] Thus the consternation had become general. "Keyser's pile," thought they, "will be rekindled in all our villages." Many of the inhabitants flocked to Zurich, and on their alarmed and agitated features, one might, in imagination, have seen reflected the flames that had just consumed the martyr.


These unhappy people found a powerful advocate in Zwingle. The reformer imagined that he had at last attained the object that he never ceased to pursue—the free preaching of the Gospel in Switzerland. To inflict a final blow would, in his idea, suffice to bring this enterprise to a favourable issue. "Greedy pensioners," said Zwingle to the Zurichers, "profit by the ignorance of the mountaineers to stir up these simple souls against the friends of the Gospel. Let us therefore be severe upon these haughty chiefs. The mildness of the lamb would only serve to render the wolf more ferocious.[1061] Let us propose to the Five Cantons to allow the free preaching of the Word of the Lord, to renounce their wicked alliances, and to punish the abettors of foreign service. As for the Mass, idols, rites, and superstitions, let no one be forced to abandon them. It is for the Word of God alone to scatter with its powerful breath all this idle dust.[1062] Be firm, noble lords, and in despite of certain black horses, as black at Zurich[371] as they are at Lucerne,[1063] but whose malice will never succeed in overturning the chariot of Reform, we shall clear this difficult pass, and arrive at the unity of Switzerland and at unity of faith." Thus Zwingle, while calling for force against political abuses, asked only liberty for the Gospel; but he desired a prompt intervention, in order that this liberty might be secured to it. Œcolampadius thought the same: "It is not a time for delay," said he, "it is not a time for parsimony and pusillanimity! So long as the venom shall not be utterly removed from this adder in our bosoms we shall be exposed to the greatest dangers."[1064]

The council of Zurich, led away by the reformer, promised the bailiwicks to support religious liberty among them; and scarcely had they learnt that Anthony ab Acker of the Unterwalden was proceeding to Baden with an army, than they ordered five hundred men to set out for Bremgarten with four pieces of artillery. This was the 5th June, and on the same evening the standard of Zurich waved over the convent of Mouri.


The war of religion had begun. The horn of the Waldstettes re-echoed afar in the mountains: men were arming in every direction, and messengers were sent off in haste to invoke the assistance of the Valais and of Austria. Three days later (Tuesday the 8th June), six hundred Zurichers, under the command of Jacques Werdmüller, set out for Rapperschwyl and the district of Gaster; and, on the morrow, four thousand men repaired to Cappel, under the command of the valiant Captain George Berguer, to whom Conrad Schmidt, pastor of Kussnacht, had been appointed chaplain. "We do not wish you to go to the war," said Burgomaster Roust to Zwingle; "for the Pope, the Archduke Ferdinand, the Romish cantons, the bishops, the abbots, and the prelates hate you mortally. Stay with the council: we have need of you."—"No!" replied Zwingle, who was unwilling to confide[372] so important an enterprise to any one; "when my brethren expose their lives I will not remain quietly at home by my fireside. Besides, the army also requires a watchful eye, that looks continually around it." Then, taking down his glittering halberd, which he had carried (as they say) at Marignan, and placing it on his shoulder, the reformer mounted his horse and set out with the army.[1065] The walls, towers, and battlements were covered with a crowd of old men, children, and women, among whom was Anna, Zwingle's wife.

Zurich had called for the aid of Berne; but that city, whose inhabitants showed little disposition for a religious war, and which besides was not pleased at seeing the increasing influence of Zurich, replied, "Since Zurich has begun the war without us, let her finish it in like manner." The Evangelical states were disunited at the very moment of struggle.

The Romish cantons did not act thus. It was Zug that issued the first summons; and the men of Uri, of Schwytz, and of Unterwalden had immediately begun the march. On the 8th June, the great banner floated before the townhouse of Lucerne, and on the next day the army set out to the sound of the antique horns that Lucerne pretended to have received from the Emperor Charlemagne.

On the 10th June, the Zurichers, who were posted at Cappel, sent a herald at daybreak to Zug, who was commissioned, according to custom, to denounce to the Five Cantons the rupture of the alliance. Immediately Zug was filled with cries and alarm. This canton, the smallest in Switzerland, not having yet received all the confederate contingents, was not in a condition to defend itself. The people ran to and fro, sent off messengers, and hastily prepared for battle; the warriors fitted on their armour, the women shed tears, and the children shrieked.


Already the first division of the Zurich army, amounting to two thousand men, under the command of William Thöming,[373] and stationed near the frontier below Cappel, was preparing to march, when they observed, in the direction of Baar, a horseman, pressing the flanks of his steed, and galloping up as fast as the mountain which he had to ascend would permit. It was Aebli, landamman of Glaris. "The Five Cantons are prepared," said he, as he arrived, "but I have prevailed upon them to halt, if you will do the same. For this reason I entreat my lords and the people of Zurich, for the love of God and the safety of the Confederation, to suspend their march at the present moment." As he said these words, the brave Helvetian shed tears.[1066] "In a few hours," continued he, "I shall be back again. I hope, with God's grace, to obtain an honourable peace, and to prevent our cottages from being filled with widows and orphans."

Aebli was known to be an honourable man, friendly to the Gospel, and opposed to foreign service: his words, therefore, moved the Zurich captains, who resolved to halt. Zwingle alone, motionless and uneasy, beheld in his friend's intervention the machinations of the adversary. Austria, occupied in repelling the Turks, and unable to succour the Five Cantons, had exhorted them to peace. This, in Zwingle's opinion, was the cause of the propositions brought to them by the landamman of Glaris. So at the moment Aebli turned round to return to Zug,[1067] Zwingle approaching him said with earnestness, "Gossip landamman, you will render to God an account of all this. Our adversaries are caught in a sack: this is why they give you sweet words. By and by they will fall upon us unawares, and there will be none to deliver us." Prophetic words, whose fulfilment went beyond all foresight! "Dear gossip!" replied the landamman, "I have confidence in God that all will go well. Let each one do his best." And he departed.


[374]Then, instead of advancing upon Zug, the army began to erect tents along the edge of the forest and the brink of the torrent a few paces from the sentinels of the Five Cantons; while Zwingle, seated in his tent, silent, and in deep thought, anticipated some distressing news from hour to hour.

He had not long to wait. It was the deputies of the Zurich Council who came to give reality to his fears. Berne, maintaining the character that it had so often filled as representative of the federal policy, declared that if Zurich or the cantons would not make peace, they should know how to compel them; this state at the same time convoked a diet at Arau, and sent five thousand men into the field, under the command of Sebastian Diesbach. Zwingle was struck with consternation.

Aebli's message, supported by that of Berne, was sent back by the council to the army; for, according to the principles of the time, "wherever the banner waves, there is Zurich." "Let us not be staggered," cried the reformer, ever decided and firm; "our destiny depends upon our courage; to-day they beg and entreat, and in a month, when we have laid down our arms, they will crush us. Let us stand firm in God. Before all things, let us be just: peace will come after that." But Zwingle, transformed to a statesman, began to lose the influence which he had gained as a servant of God. Many could not understand him, and asked if what they had heard was really the language of a minister of the Lord. "Ah!" said one of his friends, who perhaps knew him best, Oswald Myconius, "Zwingle certainly was an intrepid man in the midst of danger; but he always had a horror of blood, even of his most deadly enemies. The freedom of his country, the virtues of our forefathers, and, above all, the glory of Christ, were the sole end of his designs.[1068]—I speak the truth, as if in the presence of God," adds he.


While Zurich was sending deputies to Arau, the two armies[375] received reinforcements. The men of Thurgovia and St. Gall joined their banners to that of Zurich; the Valaisans and the men of St. Gothard united with the Romanist cantons. The advanced posts were in sight of each other at Thunn, Leematt, and Goldesbrunnen, on the delightful slopes of the Albis.

Never, perhaps, did Swiss cordiality shine forth brighter with its ancient lustre. The soldiers called to one another in a friendly manner, shook hands, styled themselves confederates and brothers. "We shall not fight," said they. "A storm is passing over our heads, but we will pray to God, and he will preserve us from every harm." Scarcity afflicted the army of the Five Cantons, while abundance reigned in the camp of Zurich.[1069] Some young famishing Waldstettes one day passed the outposts: the Zurichers made them prisoners, led them to the camp, and then sent them back laden with provisions, with still greater good-nature than was shown by Henry IV. at the siege of Paris. At another time, some warriors of the Five Cantons, having placed a bucket filled with milk on the frontier line, cried out to the Zurichers that they had no bread. The latter came down immediately, and cut their bread into the enemies' milk: then the soldiers of the two parties began with jokes to eat out of the same dish—some on this side, some on that. The Zurichers were delighted that, notwithstanding the prohibition of their priests, the Waldstettes ate with heretics. When one of the troop took a morsel that was on the side of his adversaries, these sportively struck him with their spoons, and said to him: "Do not cross the frontier!" Thus did these good Helvetians make war upon one another; and hence it was that the Burgomaster Sturm of Strasburg, one of the mediators, exclaimed: "You Confederates are a singular people! When you are disunited, you live still in harmony with one another, and your ancient friendship never slumbers."[1070]



The most perfect order reigned in the camp of Zurich. Every day Zwingle, the commander Schmidt, Zink abbot of Cappel, or some other minister, preached among the soldiers. No oath or dispute was heard; every disorderly woman was turned out of the camp; prayers were offered up before and after every meal; and each man obeyed his chiefs. There were no dice, no cards, no games calculated to excite quarrels; but psalms, hymns, national songs, bodily exercise, wrestling, or pitching the stone, were the military recreations of the Zurichers.[1071] The spirit that animated the reformer had passed into the army.

The assembly at Arau, transported to Steinhausen in the neighbourhood of the two camps, decreed that each army should hear the complaints of the opposite party. The reception of the deputies of the Five Cantons by the Zurichers was tolerably calm; it was not so in the other camp.

On the 15th June, fifty Zurichers, surrounded by a crowd of peasants, proceeded on horseback to the Waldstettes. The sound of the trumpet, the roll of the drum, and repeated salvos of artillery announced their arrival. Nearly twelve thousand men of the smaller cantons, in good order, with uplifted heads and arrogant looks, were under arms. Escher of Zurich spoke first, and many persons from the rural districts enumerated their grievances after him, which the Waldstettes thought exaggerated. "When have we ever refused you the federal right?" asked they. "Yes, yes!" replied Funk, Zwingle's friend; "we know how you exercise it. That pastor (Keyser) appealed to it, and you referred him—to the executioner!" "Funk, you would have done better to have held your tongue," said one of his friends. But the words had slipped out; a dreadful tumult suddenly arose; all the army of the Waldstettes was in agitation; the most prudent begged the Zurichers to retire promptly, and protected their departure.


At length the treaty was concluded on the 26th June 1529.[377] Zwingle did not obtain all he desired. Instead of the free preaching of the Word of God, the treaty stipulated only liberty of conscience; it declared that the common bailiwicks should pronounce for or against the Reform by a majority of votes. Without decreeing the abolition of foreign pensions, it was recommended to the Romish cantons to renounce the alliance formed with Austria; the Five Cantons were to pay the expenses of the war, Murner to retract his insulting words, and an indemnity was secured to Keyser's family.[1072]

An incontrovertible success had just crowned the warlike demonstration of Zurich. The Five Cantons felt it. Gloomy, irritated, silently champing the bit that had been placed in their mouths, their chiefs could not decide upon giving up the deed of their alliance with Austria. Zurich immediately recalled her troops, the mediators redoubled their solicitations, and the Bernese exclaimed: "If you do not deliver up this document, we will ourselves go in procession and tear it from your archives." At last it was brought to Cappel on the 26th June, two hours after midnight. All the army was drawn out at eleven in the forenoon, and they began to read the treaty. The Zurichers looked with astonishment at its breadth and excessive length, and the nine seals which had been affixed, one of which was in gold. But scarcely had a few words been read, when Aebli, snatching the parchment, cried out: "Enough, enough!"—"Read it, read it!" said the Zurichers; "we desire to learn their treason!" But the Bailiff of Glaris replied boldly: "I would rather be cut in a thousand pieces than permit it." Then dashing his knife into the parchment, he cut it in pieces in the presence of Zwingle and the soldiers,[1073] and threw the fragments to the secretary to commit them to the flames. "This paper was not Swiss," says Bullinger with sublime simplicity.


[378]The banners were immediately struck. The men of Unterwalden retired in anger; those of Schwytz swore they would for ever preserve their ancient faith; while the troops of Zurich returned in triumph to their homes. But the most opposite thoughts agitated Zwingle's mind. "I hope," said he, doing violence to his feelings, "that we bring back an honourable peace to our dwellings. It was not to shed blood that we set out.[1074] God has once again shown the great ones of the earth that they can do nothing against us." But when he gave way to his natural disposition, a very different order of thoughts took possession of his mind. He was seen walking apart in deep dejection, and anticipating the most gloomy future. In vain did the people surround him with joyful shouts. "This peace," said he, "which you consider a triumph, you will soon repent of, striking your breasts." It was at this time that, venting his sorrow, he composed, as he was descending the Albis, a celebrated hymn often repeated to the sound of music in the fields of Switzerland, among the burghers of the Confederate cities, and even in the palaces of kings. The hymns of Luther and of Zwingle play the same part in the German and Swiss Reformation as the Psalms in that of France.

Do thou direct thy chariot, Lord,
And guide it at thy will;
Without thy aid our strength is vain,
And useless all our skill.
Look down upon thy saints brought low,
And prostrate laid beneath the foe.
Beloved Pastor, who hast saved
Our souls from death and sin,
Uplift thy voice, awake thy sheep
That slumbering lie within
Thy fold, and curb with thy right hand
The rage of Satan's furious band.
Send down thy peace, and banish strife,
Let bitterness depart;
Revive the spirit of the past[379]
In every Switzer's heart;
Then shall thy Church for ever sing
The praises of her heavenly King.

An edict, published in the name of the Confederates, ordered the revival everywhere of the old friendship and brotherly concord; but decrees are powerless to work such miracles.

This treaty of peace was nevertheless favourable to the Reform. No doubt it met with a violent opposition in some places. The nuns of the vale of St. Catherine in Thurgovia, deserted by their priests and excited by some noblemen beyond the Rhine, who styled them in their letters, "Chivalrous women of the house of God," sang Mass themselves, and appointed one of their number preacher to the convent. Certain deputies from the Protestant cantons having had an interview with them, the abbess and three of the nuns secretly crossed the river by night, carrying with them the papers of the monastery and the ornaments of the church. But such isolated resistance as this was unavailing. Already in 1529 Zwingle was able to hold a synod in Thurgovia, which organized the church there, and decreed that the property of the convents should be consecrated to the instruction of pious young men in sacred learning. Thus concord and peace seemed at last to be re-established in the Confederation.


III. When, however, the conqueror abandons himself to his triumph, in that very confidence he often finds destruction. Zurich and Zwingle were to exemplify this mournful lesson of history. Taking advantage of the national peace, they redoubled their exertions for the triumph of the Gospel. This was a legitimate zeal, but it was not always wisely directed. To attain the unity of Switzerland by unity of faith was the object of the Zurichers; but they forgot that, by desiring to force a unity, it is broken to pieces, and that freedom is the only medium in which contrary elements can be dissolved, and a salutary union established. While Rome aims at unity by anathemas, imprisonment, and the stake, christian truth[380] demands unity through liberty. And let us not fear that unity, expanding each individuality beyond measure, will produce by this means an infinite multiplicity. While we urge every mind to attach itself to the Word of God, we give it up to a power capable of restoring its diverging opinions to a wholesome unity.

Zwingle at first signalized his victory by legitimate conquests. He advanced with courage. "His eye and his arm were everywhere." "A few wretched mischief-makers," says Salat, a Romanist chronicler, "penetrating into the Five Cantons, troubled men's souls, distributed their frippery, scattered everywhere little poems, little tracts, little testaments, and ceased not from saying that the people ought not to believe the priests."[1075] This was not all; while the Reform was destined to be confined around the lake of the Waldstettes to a few fruitless efforts, it made brilliant conquests among the cantons,—the allies and subjects of Switzerland; and all the blows there inflicted on the Papacy re-echoed among the lofty valleys of the primitive cantons, and filled them with affright. Nowhere had Popery shown itself more determined than in the Swiss mountains. A mixture of Romish despotism and Helvetian roughness existed there. Rome was resolved to conquer, and yet she beheld her most important positions successively wrested from her.

In fact, on the 29th September 1529, the citizens of Schaffhausen removed the "great God" (le bon Dieu) from the cathedral, to the deep regret of a small number of devotees, whom the Roman worship still counted in this city; then they abolished the Mass, and stretched out their hands to Zurich and to Berne.


At Zurzack, near the confluence of the Rhine and the Aar, at the moment when the priest of the place, a man devoted to the ancient worship, was preaching with zeal, a person named Tüfel (devil), raising his head, said to him: "Sir, you are[381] heaping insults on good men, and you are loading the Pope and the saints of the Roman calendar with honour; pray, where do we find that in the Holy Scriptures?" This question, put in a serious tone of voice, raised a sly smile on many faces, and the people with their eyes fixed on the pulpit awaited the reply. The curate in astonishment and at his wit's end, answered with a trembling voice: "Devil is thy name; thou actest like the devil, and thou art the devil! For this reason I will have nothing to do with thee." Then hastily leaving the pulpit, he ran away as if Satan himself had been behind him. Immediately the images were torn down, and the Mass abolished. The Roman-catholics sought to console themselves by repeating everywhere: "At Zurzack it was the devil who introduced the Reformation."[1076]


The priests and warriors of the Forest Cantons beheld the overthrow of the Romish faith in countries that lay nearer to them. In the canton of Glaris, whence by the steep passes of the Klaus and the Pragel,[1077] the Reform might suddenly fall upon Uri and Schwytz, two men met face to face. At Mollis, Fridolin Brunner, questioning himself every day by what means he could advance the cause of Christ,[1078] attacked the abuses of the Church with the energy of his friend Zwingle,[1079] and endeavoured to spread among the people, who were passionately fond of war, the peace and charity of the Gospel. At Glaris, on the contrary, Valentine Tschudi studied with all the circumspection of his friend Erasmus to preserve a just medium between Rome and the Reform. And although,—thanks to the preaching of Fridolin!—the doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, meritorious works, and intercession of the saints, were looked at[382] by the Glaronais as mere follies and fables,[1080] they still believed with Tschudi that the body and blood of Christ were substantially in the bread of the Lord's Supper.


At the same time a movement in opposition to the Reform was taking place in that high and savage valley, where the Linth, roaring at the foot of vast rocks with jagged crests—enormous citadels which seemed built in the air,—bathes the villages of Schwanden and Ruti with its waters. The Roman-catholics, alarmed at the progress of the Gospel, and wishing to save these mountains at least, had scattered with liberal hands the money they derived from their foreign pensions; and from that time violent hatred had been seen to divide old friends, and men who appeared to have been won over to the Gospel basely sought for a pretext to conceal a disgraceful flight.[1081] "Peter[1082] and I," wrote Rasdorfer, pastor of Ruti, in despair, "are labouring in the vineyard, but, alas! the grapes we gather are not employed for the sacrifice, and the very birds do not eat them. We fish, but after having toiled all night, we find that we have only caught leeches.[1083] Alas! we are casting pearls before dogs, and roses before swine!" This spirit of revolt against the Gospel soon descended from these valleys with the noisy waters of the Linth as far as Glaris and Mollis. "The council, as if it had been composed only of silly women, shifted its sails every day," said Rasdorfer;[1084] "one day it will have the cowl, on the next it will not."[1085] Glaris, like a leaf carried along by one of its torrents, and which the waves and eddies drive in different[383] directions, wavered, wheeled about, and was nearly being swallowed up.

But this crisis came to an end: the Gospel suddenly regained strength, and on Easter Monday 1530, a general assembly of the people "put the Mass and the altars to the vote." A powerful party that relied upon the Five Cantons vainly opposed the Reform. It was proclaimed, and its vanquished and disconcerted enemies were forced to content themselves, says Bullinger, with mysteriously concealing a few idols, which they reserved for better days.

In the meanwhile, the Reform advanced in the exterior Rhodes of Appenzell,[1086] and in the district of Sargans. But what most exasperated the cantons that remained faithful to the Romish doctrines, was to see it pass the Alps and appear in Italy, in those beautiful districts round Lake Maggiore, where, near the embouchure of the Maggia, within the walls of Locarno, in the midst of laurels, pomegranates, and cypresses, flourished the noble families of Orelli, Muralto, Magoria, and Duni, and where floated since 1512 the sovereign standard of the cantons. "What!" said the Waldstettes, "is it not enough that Zurich and Zwingle infest Switzerland! They have the impudence to carry their pretended Reform even into Italy,—even into the country of the Pope!"


Great irregularities prevailed there among the clergy: "Whoever wishes to be damned must become a priest," was a common saying.[1087] But the Gospel succeeded in making its way even into that district. A monk of Como, Egidio à Porta, who had taken the cowl in 1511, against the wishes of his family,[1088] struggled for years in the Augustine convent,[384] and nowhere found peace for his soul. Motionless, environed, as it appeared to him, with profound night, he cried aloud: "Lord, what wilt thou that I should do?" Erelong the monk of Como thought he heard these words in his heart: "Go to Ulric Zwingle and he will tell thee." He rose trembling with emotion. "It is you," wrote he to Zwingle immediately, "but no! it is not you, it is God who, through you, will deliver me from the nets of the hunters." "Translate the New Testament into Italian," replied Zwingle; "I will undertake to get it printed at Zurich." This is what Reform did for Italy more than three centuries ago.

Egidio therefore remained. He commenced translating the Gospel; but at one time he had to beg for the convent, at another to repeat his "hours," and then to accompany one of the fathers on his journeys.[1089] Everything that surrounded him increased his distress. He saw his country reduced to the greatest misery by desolating wars,—men formerly rich, holding out their hands for alms,—crowds of women driven by want to the most shameful degradation. He imagined that a great political deliverance could alone bring about the religious independence of his fellow-countrymen.


On a sudden he thought that this happy hour was arrived. He perceived a band of Lutheran lansquenets descending the Alps. Their serried phalanxes, their threatening looks were directed towards the banks of the Tiber. At their head marched Freundsberg, wearing a chain of gold around his neck, and saying: "If I reach Rome I will make use of it to hang the Pope." "God wills to save us," wrote Egidio to Zwingle: "write to the constable;[1090] entreat him to deliver the people over whom he rules,—to take from the shaven crowns, whose God is their belly, the wealth which renders them so proud,—and to distribute it among the people who are dying of hunger. Then let each one preach without fear[385] the pure Word of the Lord.—The strength of Antichrist is near its fall!"

Thus, about the end of 1526, Egidio already dreamt of the Reformation of Italy. From that time his letters cease: the monk disappeared. There can be no doubt that the arm of Rome was able to reach him, and that, like so many others, he was plunged into the gloomy dungeon of some convent.


In the spring of 1530, a new epoch commenced for the Italian bailiwicks. Zurich appointed Jacques Werdmüller bailiff of Locarno; he was a grave man, respected by all, and who even in 1524 had kissed the feet of the Pope; he had since then been won over to the Gospel, and had sat down at the feet of the Saviour.[1091] "Go," said Zurich, "and bear yourself like a Christian, and in all that concerns the Word of God conform to the ordinances." Werdmüller met with nothing but darkness in every quarter. Yet, in the midst of this gloom, a feeble glimmering seemed to issue from a convent situated on the delightful shores of Lake Maggiore. Among the Carmelites at Locarno was a monk named Fontana, skilled in the Holy Scriptures, and animated with the same spirit that had enlightened the monk of Como. The doctrine of salvation, "without money and without price," which God proclaims in the Gospel, filled him with love and joy. "As long as I live," said he, "will I preach upon the Epistles of St. Paul;"[1092] for it was particularly in these Epistles that he had found the truth. Two monks, of whose names we are ignorant, shared his sentiments. Fontana wrote a letter "to all the Church of Christ in Germany," which was forwarded to Zwingle. We may imagine we hear that man of Macedonia, who appeared in a vision to Paul in the night, calling him to Europe, and saying, "Come over and help us."[1093]—"O, trusty and well-beloved of Christ[386] Jesus," cried the monk of Locarno to Germany, "remember Lazarus, the beggar, in the Gospel,—remember that humble Canaanitish woman, longing for the crumbs that fell from the Lord's table! hungry as David, I have recourse to the show-bread placed upon the altar. A poor traveller devoured by thirst, I rush to the springs of living water.[1094] Plunged in darkness, bathed in tears, we cry to you who know the mysteries of God to send us by the hands of the munificent J. Werdmüller all the writings of the divine Zwingle, of the famous Luther, of the skilful Melancthon, of the mild Œcolampadius, of the ingenious Pomeranus, of the learned Lambert, of the elegant Brenz, of the penetrating Bucer, of the studious Leo, of the vigilant Hütten, and of the other illustrious doctors, if there are any more. Excellent princes, pivots of the Church, our holy mother, make haste to deliver from the slavery of Babylon a city of Lombardy that has not yet known the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are but three who have combined together to fight on behalf of the truth;[1095] but it was beneath the blows of a small body of men, chosen by God, and not by the thousands of Gideon, that Midian fell. Who knows if from a small spark God may not cause a great conflagration?"

Thus three men on the banks of the Maggia hoped at that time to reform Italy. They uttered a call to which, for three centuries, the Evangelical world has not replied. Zurich, however, in these days of its strength and of its faith, displayed a holy boldness, and dared extend her heretical arms beyond the Alps. Hence, Uri, Schwytz, Unterwalden, and all the Romanists of Switzerland gave vent to loud and terrible threats, swearing to arrest even in Zurich itself the course of these presumptuous invasions.


But the Zurichers did not confine themselves to this: they gave the Confederates more serious cause of fear by[387] waging incessant war against the convents,—those centres of Ultramontane fanaticism. The extensive monastery of Wettingen, around which roll the waters of the Limmat, and which, by its proximity to Zurich, was exposed more than any other to the breath of Reform, was in violent commotion. On the 23d August 1529, a great change took place; the ice was broken and the downfall complete. The monks ceased to sing Mass; they cut off each other's beards, not without shedding a few tears; they laid down their frocks and their hoods, and clothed themselves in becoming secular dresses.[1096] Then, in astonishment at this metamorphosis, they listened devoutly to the sermon which Sebastian Benli of Zurich came and preached to them, and erelong employed themselves in propagating the Gospel, and in singing psalms in German. Thus Wettingen fell into the current of that river which seemed to be everywhere reviving the Confederation. The cloister, ceasing to be a house for gaming, gluttony, and drunkenness, was changed into a school. Two monks alone in all the monastery remained faithful to the cowl.

The commander of Mulinen, without troubling himself about the threats of the Romish cantons, earnestly pressed the commandery of St. John at Hitzkirch towards the Reformation. The question was put to the vote, and the majority declared in favour of the Word of God. "Ah!" said the commander, "I have been long pushing behind the chariot."[1097] On the 4th September the commandery was reformed. It was the same with that of Wadenswyl, with the convent of Pfeffers, and others besides. Even at Mury the majority declared for the Gospel; but the minority prevailed through the support of the Five Cantons.[1098] A new triumph, and one of greater value, was destined to indemnify the Reform,[388] and to raise the indignation of the Waldstettes to the highest pitch.


The Abbot of St. Gall, by his wealth, by the number of his subjects, and the influence which he exercised in Switzerland, was one of the most formidable adversaries of the Gospel. In 1529, therefore, at the moment when the army of Zurich took the field against the Five Cantons, the Abbot Francis of Geisberg, in alarm and at the brink of death, caused himself to be hastily removed into the strong castle of Rohrschach, not thinking himself secure except within its walls. Four days after this, the illustrious Vadianus, burgomaster of St. Gall, entered the convent, and announced the intention of the people to resume the use of their cathedral-church, and to remove the images. The monks were astonished at such audacity, and having in vain protested and cried for help, put their most precious effects in a place of safety, and fled to Einsideln.

Among these was Kilian Kouffi, head-steward of the abbey, a cunning and active monk, and, like Zwingle, a native of the Tockenburg. Knowing how important it was to find a successor to the abbot, before the news of his death was bruited abroad, he came to an understanding with those who waited on the prelate; and the latter dying on Tuesday in Holy Week, the meals were carried as usual into his chamber, and with downcast eyes and low voice the attendants made every inquiry about his health. While this farce was going on round the dead body, the monks who had assembled at Einsideln repaired in all haste to Rapperswyl, in the territory of St. Gall, and there elected Kilian, who had so skilfully managed the affair. The new abbot went immediately to Rohrschach, and on Good Friday he there proclaimed his own election and the death of his predecessor. Zurich and Glaris declared they would not recognise him, unless he could prove by the Holy Scriptures that a monkish life was in conformity with the Gospel. "We are ready to protect the house of God," said they; "and it is for this reason we[389] require that it be consecrated anew to the Lord. But we do not forget that it is our duty also to protect the people. It is in the bosom of a free people that the free Church of Christ should raise its head." At the same time the ministers of St. Gall published forty-two theses, in which they asserted that convents were not "houses of God, but houses of the devil."[1099] The abbot, supported by Lucerne and Schwytz, which with Zurich and Glaris exercised sovereign power in St. Gall, replied that he would not dispute about rights which he held from kings and emperors. The two natives of the Tockenburg, Zwingle and Kilian, were thus struggling around St. Gall,—the one claiming the people for the abbey, and the other the abbey for the people. The army of Zurich having approached Wyl, Kilian seized upon the treasures and muniments of the convent, and fled precipitately beyond the Rhine. Then when peace was concluded, the crafty monk clothed himself in a secular dress, and crept mysteriously as far as Einsideln, whence on a sudden he made all Switzerland re-echo with his cries. Zurich replied only by publishing in conjunction with Glaris a constitution, by which a governor, "confirmed in the evangelical faith," should preside over the district, with a council of twelve members, while the election of pastors was left to the parishes.[1100] Not long afterwards, the abbot, expelled and a fugitive, while crossing a river near Bregentz, fell from his horse, got entangled in his frock, and was drowned. Of the two combatants from the Tockenburg, it was Zwingle who gained the victory.


The convent was put up to sale, and was purchased by the town of St. Gall, "with the exception," says Bullinger, "of a detached building, called Hell, where the monks were left who had not embraced the Reform."[1101] The time having arrived[390] when the governor sent by Zurich was to give place to one from Lucerne, the people of St. Gall called upon the latter to swear to their constitution. "A governor has never been known," replied he, "to make an oath to peasants; it is the peasants who should make an oath to the governor!" Upon this he retired: the Zurich governor remained, and the indignation of the Five Cantons against Zurich, which so daringly assisted the people of St. Gall in recovering their liberties, rose to the highest paroxysm of anger.

A few victories, however, consoled in some degree the partisans of Rome. Soleure was for a long time one of the most contested battle fields. The citizens and the learned were in favour of Reform: the patricians and canons for Popery. Philip Grotz of Zug was preaching the Gospel there, and the council having desired to compel him to say Mass, one hundred Reformed appeared in the hall of assembly on the 13th September 1529, and with energy called for liberty of conscience. Zurich and Berne having supported this demand, it was granted to them.


Upon this the most fanatical of the Roman-catholics, exasperated at the concession, closed the gates of the city, pointed the guns, and made a show of expelling the friends of the Reform. The council prepared to punish these agitators, when the Reformed, willing to set an example of christian moderation, declared they would forgive them.[1102] The Great Council then published throughout the canton that the dominion of conscience belonging to God alone, and faith being the free gift of His grace, each one might follow the religion which he thought best. Thirty-four parishes declared for the Reformation, and only two for the Mass. Almost all the rural districts were in favour of the Gospel; but the majority of the city sided with the Pope.[1103] Haller, whom the Reformed of Soleure had sent for, arrived, and it was a day of triumph[391] for them. It was in the middle of winter: "To-day," ironically observed one of the Evangelical Christians, "our patron saint (St. Ours) will sweat!" And in truth—-oh! wonderful!—drops of moisture fell from the holy image. It was simply a little holy water that had frozen and then thawed. But the Romanists would listen to no raillery on so illustrious a prodigy, reminding us of the blood of St. Januarius at Naples. All the city resounded with piteous cries,—the bells were tolled,—a general procession moved through the streets,—and high mass was sung in honour of the heavenly prince who had shown in so marvellous a manner the pangs he felt for his dearly beloved. "It is the fat minister of Berne (Haller) who is the cause of the saint's alarm," said the devout old women. One of them declared that she would thrust a knife into his body; and certain Roman-catholics threatened to go to the Cordeliers' church and murder the pastors who preached there. Upon this the Reformed rushed to that church and called for a public discussion: two hundred of their adversaries posted themselves at the same time in the church of St. Ours and refused the discussion. Neither of the two parties was willing to be the first to abandon the camp in which it was entrenched. The senate wishing to clear the two churches thus transformed into citadels, announced that at Martinmas, i. e. nine months later, a public discussion should take place. But as the Reformed found the delay too long, both parties remained for a whole week more under arms. Commerce was interrupted,—the public offices were closed—messengers ran to and fro,—arrangements were proposed;—but the people were so stiffnecked,[1104] that no one would give way. The city was in a state of siege. At last all were agreed about the discussion, and the ministers committed four theses to writing, which the canons immediately attempted to refute.


Nevertheless they judged it a still better plan to elude them. Nothing alarmed the Romanists so much as discussion.[392] "What need have we of any?" said they. "Do not the writings of the two parties declare their sentiments?" The conference was, therefore, put off until the following year. Many of the Reformed, indignant at these delays, imprudently quitted the city; and the councils, charmed at this result, which they were far from expecting, hastily declared that the people should be free in the canton, but that in the city no one should attack the Mass. From that time the Reformed were compelled every Sunday to leave Soleure and repair to the village of Zuchsweil to hear the Word of God. Thus Popery, defeated in so many places, triumphed in Soleure.

Zurich and the other reformed cantons attentively watched these successes of their adversaries, and lent a fearful ear to the threats of the Roman-catholics, who ceased not from announcing the intervention of the Emperor; when on a sudden a report was heard that nine hundred Spaniards had entered the Grisons; that they were led by the Chatelain of Musso, recently invested with the title of marquis by Charles the Fifth; that the chatelain's brother-in-law, Didier d'Embs, was also marching against the Swiss at the head of three thousand imperial lansquenets; and that the Emperor himself was ready to support them with all his forces. The Grisons uttered a cry of alarm. The Waldstettes remained motionless; but all the reformed cantons assembled their troops, and eleven thousand men began their march.[1105] The Emperor and the Duke of Milan having soon after decreed that they would not support the chatelain, this adventurer beheld his castle rased to the ground, and was compelled to retire to the banks of the Sesia, giving guarantees of future tranquillity; while the Swiss soldiers returned to their homes, fired with indignation against the Five Cantons, who by their inactivity had infringed the federal alliance.[1106] "Our prompt and energetic resistance," said they, "has undoubtedly baffled their perfidious designs; but the reaction is only adjourned.[393] Although the parchment of the Austrian alliance has been torn in pieces, the alliance itself still exists. The truth has freed us, but soon the imperial lansquenets will come and try to place us again under the yoke of slavery."


Thus in consequence of so many violent shocks, the two parties that divided Switzerland had attained the highest degree of irritation. The gulf that separated them widened daily. The clouds—the forerunners of the tempest—drove swiftly along the mountains, and gathered threateningly above the valleys. Under these circumstances Zwingle and his friends thought it their duty to raise their voices, and if possible to avert the storm. Thus Nicholas de Flue had in former days thrown himself between the hostile parties.


On the 5th September 1530, the principal ministers of Zurich, Berne, Basle, and Strasburg,—Œcolampadius, Capito, Megander, Leo Juda, and Myconius,—were assembled at Zurich in Zwingle's house. Desirous of taking a solemn step with the Five Cantons, they drew up an address that was presented to the Confederates at the meeting of the Diet at Baden. However unfavourable the deputies were, as a body, to these heretical ministers, they nevertheless listened to this epistle, but not without signs of impatience and weariness.[1107] "You are aware, gracious lords, that concord increases the power of states, and that discord overthrows them.[1108] You are yourselves a proof of the first of these truths. Setting out from a small beginning, you have, by a good understanding one with another, arrived at a great end. May God condescend to prevent you also from giving a striking proof of the second! Whence comes disunion, if not from selfishness? and how can we destroy this fatal passion, except by receiving from God the love of the common weal? For this reason we conjure you to allow the Word of God to be freely preached among you, as did your pious ancestors.[394] When has there ever existed a government, even among the heathens, which saw not that the hand of God alone upholds a nation? Do not two drops of quicksilver unite so soon as you remove that which separates them? Away then with that which separates you from our cities, that is, the absence of the Word of God; and immediately the Almighty God will unite us, as our fathers were united. Then placed in your mountains, as in the centre of Christendom, you will be an example to it, its protection and its refuge; and after having passed through this vale of tears, being the terror of the wicked and the consolation of the faithful, you will at last be established in eternal happiness."

Thus frankly did these men of God address their brothers, the Waldstettes. But their voice was not attended to. "The ministers' sermon is rather long,"[1109] said some of the deputies yawning and stretching their arms, while others pretended to see in it fresh cause of complaint against the cities.

This proceeding of the ministers was useless: the Waldstettes rejected the Word of God, which they had been entreated to admit; they rejected the hands that were extended towards them in the name of Jesus Christ. They called for the Pope and not for the Gospel. All hope of reconciliation appeared lost.

Some persons, however, had at that time a glimpse of what might have saved Switzerland and the Reformation,—the autonomy (self-government) of the Church, and its independence of political interests. Had they been wise enough to decline the secular power to secure the triumph of the Gospel, it is probable that harmony might have been gradually established in the Helvetic cantons, and that the Gospel would have conquered by its Divine strength. The power of the Word of God presented chances of success that were not afforded by pikes and muskets. The energy of faith, the influence of charity, would have proved a securer protection[395] to Christians against the burning piles of Waldstettes than diplomatists and men-at-arms. None of the Reformers understood this so clearly as Œcolampadius. His handsome countenance, the serenity of his features, the mild expression of his eyes, his long and venerable beard, the spirituality of his expression, a certain dignity that inspired confidence and respect, gave him rather the air of an apostle than of a reformer. It was the power of the inner word that he particularly extolled; perhaps he even went too far in spiritualism. But, however that may be, if any man could have saved Reform from the misfortunes that were about to befall it—that man was he. In separating from the Papacy, he desired not to set up the magistrate in its stead. "The magistrate who should take away from the churches the authority that belongs to them," wrote he to Zwingle, "would be more intolerable than Antichrist himself (i. e. the Pope)."[1110]—"The hand of the magistrate strikes with the sword, but the hand of Christ heals. Christ has not said,—If thy brother will not hear thee, tell it to the magistrate, but—tell it to the Church. The functions of the State are distinct from those of the Church. The State is free to do many things which the purity of the Gospel condemns."[1111] Œcolampadius saw how important it was that his convictions should prevail among the Reformed. This man, so mild and so spiritual, feared not to stand forth boldly in defence of doctrines then so novel. He expounded them before a synod assembly, and next developed them before the senate of Basle.[1112] It is a strange circumstance that these ideas, for a moment at least, were acceptable to Zwingle;[1113] but they displeased an assembly of the brethren to whom he communicated them; the politic Bucer above all feared that this independence of the[396] Church would in some measure check the exercise of the civil power.[1114] The exertions of Œcolampadius to constitute the Church, were not, however, entirely unsuccessful. In February 1531, a diet of four reformed cantons (Basle, Zurich, Berne, and St. Galls) was held at Basle, in which it was agreed, that whenever any difficulty should arise with regard to doctrine or worship, an assembly of divines and laymen should be convoked, which should examine what the Word of God said on the matter.[1115] This resolution, by giving greater unity to the renovated Church, gave it also fresh strength.


IV. But it was too late to tread in this path, which would have prevented so many disasters. The Reformation had already entered with all her sails set upon the stormy ocean of politics, and terrible misfortunes were gathering over her. The impulse communicated to the Reform came from another than Œcolampadius. Zwingle's proud and piercing eyes,—his harsh features,—his bold step,—all proclaimed in him a resolute mind and the man of action. Nurtured in the exploits of the heroes of antiquity, he threw himself, to save Reform, in the footsteps of Demosthenes and Cato, rather than in those of St. John and St. Paul. His prompt and penetrating looks were turned to the right and to the left,—to the cabinets of kings and the councils of the people, whilst they should have been directed solely to God. We have already seen, that as early as 1527, Zwingle, observing how all the powers were rising against the Reformation, had conceived the plan of a co-burghery or Christian State,[1116] which should unite all the friends of the Word of God in one holy and powerful league. This was so much the easier, as Zwingle's reformation had won over Strasburg, Augsburg, Ulm, Reutlingen, Lindau, Memmingen, and other towns of[397] Upper Germany. Constance in December 1527, Berne in June 1528, St. Gall in November of the same year, Bienne in 1529, Mulhausen in February, Basle in March, Schaffhausen in September, and Strasburg in December, entered into this alliance. This political phase of Zwingle's character is in the eyes of some persons his highest claim to glory: we do not hesitate to acknowledge it as his greatest fault. The Reformer, deserting the paths of the Apostles, allowed himself to be led astray by the perverse example of Popery. The primitive Church never opposed their persecutors but by the dispositions of the Gospel of peace. Faith was the only sword by which it vanquished the mighty ones of the earth. Zwingle felt clearly that by entering into the ways of worldly politicians, he was leaving those of a minister of Christ: he therefore sought to justify himself. "No doubt, it is not by human strength," said he, "it is by the strength of God alone that the Word of the Lord should be upheld. But God often makes use of men as instruments to succour men. Let us therefore unite, and from the sources of the Rhine to Strasburg let us form but one people and one alliance."[1117]


Zwingle played two parts at once—he was a reformer and a magistrate. But these are two characters that ought not more to be united than those of a minister and of a soldier. We will not blame the soldiers, we will not blame the magistrates; in forming leagues and drawing the sword, they act according to their point of view, although it is not the same as ours; but we will decidedly blame the christian minister, who becomes a diplomatist or a general.

In October 1529, as we have already observed, Zwingle repaired to Marburg, whither he had been invited by Philip of Hesse; and while neither of them had been able to come to an understanding with Luther, the Landgrave and the Swiss Reformer, animated by the same bold and enterprising spirit, soon agreed together.


[398]The two reformers differed not less in their political than in their religious system. Luther, brought up in the cloister and in monastic submission, was imbued in youth with the writings of the fathers of the Church; Zwingle, on the other hand, reared in the midst of Swiss liberty, had, during those early years which decide the course of all the others, imbibed the history of the ancient republics. Thus, while Luther was in favour of a passive obedience, Zwingle demanded that the tyrants should be opposed.

These two men were the faithful representatives of their respective nations. In the north of Germany, the princes and nobility were the essential part of the nation, and the people—strangers to all political liberty—had only to obey. Thus, at the epoch of the Reformation, they were contented to follow the voice of their doctors and chiefs. In Switzerland, in the south of Germany, and on the Rhine, on the contrary, many cities, after long and violent struggles, had won their civil liberty; and hence we see in almost every place the people taking a decided part in the Reform of the Church. There was good in this; but evil was close at hand. The Reformers, themselves men of the people, who dared not act upon princes, might be tempted to hurry away the people. It was easier for the Reformation to unite with republics than with kings. This facility nearly proved its ruin. The Gospel was thus to learn that its alliance is in heaven.


There was, however, one prince with whom the reformed party of the free states desired to be in union: this was Philip of Hesse. It was he who in great measure prompted Zwingle's warlike projects. Zwingle desired to make him some return, and to introduce his new friend into the evangelical league. But Berne, watchful to avert anything that might irritate the Emperor and its ancient confederates, rejected this proposal, and thus excited a lively discontent in the "Christian City."—"What!" cried they, "do the Bernese refuse an alliance that would be honourable for us, acceptable[399] to Jesus Christ, and terrible to our adversaries?"[1118]—"The Bear," said the high-spirited Zwingle, "is jealous of the Lion (Zurich); but there will be an end to all these artifices, and victory will remain with the bold." It would appear, indeed, according to a letter in cipher, that the Bernese at last sided with Zwingle, requiring only that this alliance with a prince of the Empire should not be made public.[1119]

Still Œcolampadius had not given way, and his meekness contended, although modestly, with the boldness of his impetuous friend. He was convinced that faith was destined to triumph only by the cordial union of all believers. A valuable relief came to reanimate his exertions. The deputies of the Christian co-burghery, being assembled at Basle in 1530, the envoys from Strasburg endeavoured to reconcile Luther and Zwingle. Œcolampadius wrote to Zwingle on the subject, begging him to hasten to Basle,[1120] and not show himself too unyielding. "To say that the body and blood of Christ are really in the Lord's Supper, may appear to many too hard an expression," said he, "but is it not softened, when it is added—spiritually and not bodily?"[1121]


Zwingle was immovable. "It is to flatter Luther that you hold such language, and not to defend the truth.[1122] Edere est credere."[1123] Nevertheless there were men present at the meeting, who were resolved upon energetic measures. Brotherly love was on the eve of triumphing: peace was to be obtained by union. The Elector of Saxony himself proposed a concord of all Evangelical Christians: the Landgrave invited[400] the Swiss cities to accede to it. A report spread that Luther and Zwingle were about to make the same confession of faith. Zwingle, calling to mind the early professions of the Saxon Reformer, said one day at table before many witnesses, that Luther would not think so erroneously about the Eucharist, if he were not misled by Melancthon.[1124] The union of the whole Reform seemed about to be concluded: it would have vanquished by its own weapons. But Luther soon showed that Zwingle was mistaken in his expectation. He required a written engagement by which Zwingle and Œcolampadius should adhere to his sentiments, and the negotiations were broken off in consequence. Concord having failed, there remained nothing but war. Œcolampadius must be silent, and Zwingle must act.


And in truth from that hour Zwingle advanced more and more along that fatal path into which he was led by his character, his patriotism, and his early habits. Stunned by so many violent shocks, attacked by his enemies and by his brethren, he staggered and his head grew dizzy. From this period the reformer almost entirely disappears, and we see in his place the politician, the great citizen, who, beholding a formidable coalition preparing its chains for every nation, stands up energetically against it. The Emperor had just formed a close alliance with the Pope. If his deadly schemes were not opposed, it would be all over, in Zwingle's opinion, with the Reformation, with religious and political liberty, and even with the Confederation itself. "The Emperor," said he, "is stirring up friend against friend, enemy against enemy: and then he endeavours to raise out of this confusion the glory of the Papacy, and above all his own power. He excites the Chatelain of Musso against the Grisons—Duke George of Saxony against Duke John—the Bishop of Constance against the city—the Duke of Savoy against Berne—the Five Cantons against Zurich—and the Bishops of the Rhine against[401] the Landgrave; then, when the confusion shall have become general, he will fall upon Germany, will offer himself as a mediator, and ensnare princes and cities by fine speeches, until he has them all under his feet. Alas! what discord, what disasters, under the pretence of re-establishing the Empire and restoring religion!"[1125] Zwingle went farther. The reformer of a small town in Switzerland, rising to the most astonishing political conceptions, called for a European alliance against such fatal designs. The son of a peasant of the Tockenburg held up his head against the heir of so many crowns. "That man must either be a traitor or a coward," wrote he to a senator of Constance, "who is content to stretch and yawn, when he ought to be collecting men and arms on every side, to show the Emperor that in vain he strives to re-establish the Romish faith, to enslave the free cities, and to subdue the Helvetians.[1126] He showed us only six months ago how he would proceed. To-day he will take one city in hand, to-morrow another; and so, step by step, until they are all reduced. Then their arms will be taken away, their treasures, their machines of war, and all their power......Arouse Lindau, and all your neighbours; if they do not awake, public liberty will perish under the pretext of religion. We must place no confidence in the friendship of tyrants. Demosthenes teaches us that there is nothing so hateful in their eyes as την των πολεων ελευθεριαν.[1127] The Emperor with one hand offers us bread, but in the other he conceals a stone."[1128] And a few months later Zwingle wrote to his friends in Constance: "Be bold; fear not the schemes of Charles. The razor will cut him who is sharpening it."[1129]



Away, then, with delay! Should they wait until Charles the Fifth claimed the ancient castle of Hapsburg? The Papacy and the Empire, it was said at Zurich, are so confounded together,[1130] that one cannot exist or perish without the other. Whoever rejects Popery should reject the Empire, and whoever rejects the Emperor should reject the Pope.

It appears that Zwingle's thoughts even went beyond a simple resistance. When once the Gospel had ceased to be his principal study, there was nothing that could arrest him. "A single individual," said he, "must not take it into his head to dethrone a tyrant; this would be a revolt, and the kingdom of God commands peace, righteousness, and joy. But if a whole people with common accord, or if the majority at least, rejects him, without committing any excess, it is God himself who acts."[1131] Charles V. was at that time a tyrant in Zwingle's eyes; and the reformer hoped that Europe, awakening at length from its long slumber, would be the hand of God to hurl him from his throne.


Never since the time of Demosthenes and of the two Catos had the world seen a more energetic resistance to the power of its oppressors. Zwingle in a political point of view is one of the greatest characters of modern times: we must pay him this honour, which is, perhaps, for a minister of God, the greatest reproach. Everything was prepared in his mind to bring about a revolution that would have changed the history of Europe. He knew what he desired to substitute in place of the power he wished to overthrow. He had already cast his eyes upon the prince who was to wear the imperial crown instead of Charles. It was his friend the Landgrave. "Most gracious prince," he wrote on the 2d November 1529, "I write to you as a child to a father; it is because I hope that God has chosen you for great events......I dare think, but I dare not speak of them[1132]......However, we must bell[403] the cat at last.[1133]......All that I can do with my feeble means to manifest the truth, to save the Universal Church, to augment your power and the power of those who love God—with God's help, I will do." Thus was this great man led astray. It is the will of God that there be spots even in those who shine brightest in the eyes of the world, and that only one upon earth shall say—"Which of you convinceth me of sin?" We are now viewing the faults of the Reformation: they arise from the union of religion with politics. I could not take upon myself to pass them by; the recollection of the errors of our predecessors is perhaps the most useful legacy they have bequeathed to us.

It appears already that at Marburg Zwingle and the Landgrave had drawn out the first sketch of a general alliance Against Charles V. The Landgrave had undertaken to bring over the princes, Zwingle the free cities of Southern Germany and Switzerland. He went still further, and formed a plan of gaining over to this league the republics of Italy—the powerful Venice at least—that she might detain the Emperor beyond the Alps, and prevent him from leading all his forces into Germany. Zwingle, who had earnestly pleaded against all foreign alliances, and proclaimed on so many occasions that the only ally of the Swiss should be the arm of the Almighty, began now to look around for what he had condemned, and thus prepared the way for the terrible judgment that was about to strike his family, his country, and his Church.

He had hardly returned from Marburg, and had made no official communication to the great council, when he obtained from the senate the nomination of an ambassador to Venice. Great men, after their first success, easily imagine that they can do everything. It was not a statesman who was charged with this mission, but one of Zwingle's friends, who had accompanied him into Germany, to the court of the future chief of the Empire—the Greek professor, Rodolph[404] Collin, a bold and skilful man, and who knew Italian. Thus the Reform stretched its hands to the Doge and the Procurator of St. Marc. The Bible was not enough for it—it must have the Golden Book: never did a greater humiliation befall God's work. The opinion which Protestants then entertained of Venice may, however, partly excuse Zwingle. There was in that city more independence of the Pope, more freedom of thought, than in all the rest of Italy. Luther himself about this time wrote to Gabriel Zwilling, pastor at Torgau: "With what joy do I learn what you write to me concerning the Venetians. God be praised and glorified, for that they have received his Word!"[1134]


Collin was admitted, on the 26th December, to an audience with the Doge and senate, who looked with an air of astonishment at this schoolmaster, this strange ambassador, without attendants, and without parade. They could not even understand his credentials, in so singular a style were they drawn up, and Collin was forced to explain their meaning. "I am come to you," said he, "in the name of the council of Zurich and of the cities of the Christian co-burghery—free cities like Venice, and to which common interests should unite you. The power of the Emperor is formidable to the Republics; he is aiming at a universal monarchy in Europe; if he succeeds, all the free states will perish. We must therefore check him."[1135] The Doge replied that the Republic had just concluded an alliance with the Emperor, and betrayed the distrust that so mysterious a mission excited in the Venetian senate. But afterwards, in a private conference,[1136] the Doge, wishing to preserve a retreat on both sides, added, that Venice gratefully received the message from Zurich, and that a Venetian regiment, armed and paid by the Republic itself, should be always ready to support the Evangelical[405] Swiss. The chancellor, covered with his purple robe, attended Collin to the door, and, at the very gates of the ducal palace, confirmed the promise of support. The moment the Reformation passed the magnificent porticos of St. Marc it was seized with giddiness; it could but stagger onwards to the abyss. They dismissed poor Collin by placing in his hands a present of twenty crowns. The rumour of these negotiations soon spread abroad, and the less suspicious, Capito for example, shook their heads, and could see in this pretended agreement nothing but the accustomed perfidy of Venice.[1137]

This was not enough. The cause of the Reform was fated to drink the cup of degradation to the very dregs. Zwingle, seeing that his adversaries in the Empire increased daily in numbers and in power, gradually lost his ancient aversion for France; and, although there was now a greater obstacle than before between him and Francis I.,—the blood of his brethren shed by that monarch,—he showed himself favourably disposed to a union that he had once so forcibly condemned.

Lambert Maigret, a French general, who appears to have had some leaning to the Gospel—which is a slight excuse for Zwingle—entered into correspondence with the reformer, giving him to understand that the secret designs of Charles V. called for an alliance between the King of France and the Swiss Republics. "Apply yourself," said this diplomatist to him in 1530, "to a work so agreeable to our Creator, and which, by God's grace, will be very easy to your Mightiness."[1138] Zwingle was at first astonished at these overtures. "The King of France," thought he, "cannot know which way to turn."[1139] Twice he took no heed of this prayer; but[406] the envoy of Francis I. insisted that the reformer should communicate to him a plan of alliance. At the third attempt of the ambassador, the simple child of the Tockenburg mountains could no longer resist his advances. If Charles V. must fall, it cannot be without French assistance; and why should not the Reformation contract an alliance with Francis I., the object of which would be to establish a power in the Empire that should in its turn oblige the King to tolerate the Reform in his own dominions? Everything seemed to meet the wishes of Zwingle; the fall of the tyrant was at hand, and he would drag the Pope along with him. He communicated the general's overtures to the secret council, and Collin set out, commissioned to bear the required project to the French ambassador.[1140] "In ancient times," it ran, "no kings or people ever resisted the Roman Empire with such firmness as those of France and Switzerland. Let us not degenerate from the virtues of our ancestors. His most Christian Majesty—all whose wishes are, that the purity of the Gospel may remain undefiled[1141]—engages therefore to conclude an alliance with the Christian co-burghery that shall be in accordance with the Divine law, and that shall be submitted to the censure of the evangelical theologians of Switzerland." Then followed an outline of the different articles of the treaty.


Lanzerant, another of the king's envoys, replied the same day (27th February) to this astonishing project of alliance about to be concluded between the reformed Swiss and the persecutor of the French Reformed, under reserve of the censure of the theologians......This was not what France desired: it was Lombardy, and not the Gospel that the king wanted. For that purpose, he needed the support of all the Swiss. But an alliance which ranged the Roman-catholic cantons against him, would not suit him. Being satisfied, therefore, for the present with knowing the sentiments[407] of Zurich, the French envoys began to look coolly upon the Reformer's scheme. "The matters you have submitted to us are admirably drawn up," said Lanzerant to the Swiss commissioner, "but I can scarcely understand them, no doubt because of the weakness of my mind......We must not put any seed into the ground, unless the soil be properly prepared for it."

Thus, the Reform acquired nothing but shame from these propositions. Since it had forgotten these precepts of the Word of God: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers!"[1142] how could it fail to meet with striking reverses? Already Zwingle's friends began to abandon him. The Landgrave, who had pushed him into this diplomatic career, drew towards Luther, and sought to check the Swiss Reformer, particularly after this saying of Erasmus had sounded in the ears of the great: "They ask us to open our gates, crying aloud—the Gospel! the Gospel!......Raise the cloak, and under its mysterious folds you will find—democracy."


While the Reform, by its culpable proceedings, was calling down the chastisement of Heaven, the Five Cantons, that were to be the instruments of its punishment, accelerated with all their might those fatal days of anger and of vengeance. They were irritated at the progress of the Gospel throughout the Confederation, while the peace they had signed became every day more irksome to them. "We shall have no repose," said they, "until we have broken these bonds and regained our former liberty."[1143] A general diet was convoked at Baden for the 8th January, 1531. The Five Cantons then declared that if justice was not done to their grievances, particularly with respect to the abbey of St. Gall, they would no more appear in diet. "Confederates of Glaris, Schaffhausen, Friburg, Soleure, and Appenzell," cried they, "aid us in making our ancient alliances respected, or we will ourselves contrive the means of checking this[408] guilty violence; and may the Holy Trinity assist us in this work!"[1144]


But they did not confine themselves to threats. The treaty of peace had expressly forbidden all insulting language—"for fear," it is said, "that by insults and calumnies, discord should again be excited, and greater troubles than the former should arise." Thus was concealed in the treaty itself the spark whence the conflagration was to proceed. In fact, to restrain the rude tongues of the Waldstettes was impossible. Two Zurichers, the aged prior Ravensbühler, and the pensioner Gaspard Gödli, who had been compelled to renounce, the one his convent, and the other his pension, especially aroused the anger of the people against their native city. They used to say everywhere in these valleys, and with impunity, that the Zurichers were heretics; that there was not one of them who did not indulge in unnatural sins, and who was not a robber at the very least;[1145]—that Zwingle was a thief, a murderer, and an arch-heretic; and that, on one occasion at Paris (where he had never been,) he had committed a horrible offence, in which Leo Juda had been his pander.[1146] "I shall have no rest," said a pensioner, "until I have thrust my sword up to the hilt in the heart of this impious wretch." Old commanders of troops, who were feared by all on account of their unruly character; the satellites who followed in their train; insolent young people, sons of the first persons in the state, who thought everything was lawful against miserable preachers, and their stupid flocks; priests inflamed with hatred, and treading in the footsteps of these old captains and giddy young men, who seemed to take the pulpit of a church for the bench of a pot-house: all poured torrents of insults on the Reform and its adherents. "The townspeople," exclaimed with one accord these drunken soldiers[409] and these fanatic priests, "are heretics, soul-stealers, conscience-slayers, and Zwingle—that horrible man, who commits infamous sins—is the Lutheran God."[1147]

They went still further. Passing from words to deeds, the Five Cantons persecuted the poor people among them who loved the Word of God, flung them into prison, imposed fines upon them, brutally tormented them, and mercilessly expelled them from their country. The people of Schwytz did even worse. Not fearing to announce their sinister designs, they appeared at a Landsgemeinde wearing pine-branches in their hats, in sign of war, and no one opposed them. "The Abbot of St. Gall," said they, "is a prince of the Empire, and holds his investiture from the Emperor. Do they imagine that Charles V. will not avenge him?"—"Have not these heretics," said others, "dared to form a Christian Fraternity, as if old Switzerland was a heathen country?" Secret councils were continually held in one place or another.[1148] New alliances were sought with the Valais, the Pope, and the Emperor[1149]—blamable alliances, no doubt, but such as they might at least justify by the proverb: "Birds of a feather go together;" which Zurich and Venice could not say.


The Valaisans at first refused their support: they preferred remaining neuter; but on a sudden their fanaticism was inflamed. A sheet of paper was found on an altar—such at least was the report circulated in their valleys,—in which Zurich and Berne were accused of preaching that to commit an offence against nature is a smaller crime than to hear Mass![1150] Who had placed this mysterious paper on the altar? Came it from man? Did it fall from heaven?......They knew not; but however that might be, it was copied, circulated, and read everywhere; and the effects of[410] this fable, invented by some villain, says Zwingle,[1151] was such that Valais immediately granted the support it had at first refused! The Waldstettes, proud of their strength, then closed their ranks; their fierce eyes menaced the heretical cantons; and the winds bore from their mountains to their neighbours of the towns a formidable clang of arms.

At the sight of these alarming manifestations the evangelical cities were in commotion. They first assembled at Basle in February 1531, then at Zurich in March. "What is to be done?" said the deputies from Zurich, after setting forth their grievances; "how can we punish these infamous calumnies, and force these threatening arms to fall?"—"We understand," replied Berne "that you would have recourse to violence; but think of these secret and formidable alliances that are forming with the Pope, the Emperor, the King of France, with so many princes, in a word with all the priests' party, to accelerate our ruin;—think on the innocence of so many pious souls in the Five Cantons, who deplore these perfidious machinations;—think how easy it is to begin a war, but that no one can tell when it will end."[1152] Sad foreboding! which a catastrophe, beyond all human foresight, accomplished but too soon. "Let us therefore send a deputation to the Five Cantons," continued Berne; "let us call upon them to punish these infamous calumnies in accordance with the treaty; and if they refuse, let us break off all intercourse with them."—"What will be the use of this mission?" asked Basle. "Do we not know the brutality of this people? And is it not to be feared that the rough treatment to which our deputies will be exposed, may make the matter worse? Let us rather convoke a general diet." Schaffhausen and St. Gall having concurred in this opinion, Berne summoned a diet at Baden for the 10th April, at which deputies from all the cantons were assembled.


Many of the principal men among the Waldstettes disapproved[411] of the violence of the retired soldiers and of the monks. They saw that these continually repeated insults would injure their cause. "The insults of which you complain," said they to the diet, "afflict us no less than you. We shall know how to punish them, and we have already done so. But there are violent men on both sides. The other day a man of Basle having met on the highroad a person who was coming from Berne, and having learnt that he was going to Lucerne:—'To go from Berne to Lucerne,' exclaimed he, 'is passing from a father to an arrant knave!'" The mediating cantons invited the two parties to banish every cause of discord.

But the war of the Chatelain of Musso having then broken out, Zwingle and Zurich, who saw in it the first act of a vast conspiracy, destined to stifle the Reform in every place, called their allies together. "We must waver no longer," said Zwingle; "the rupture of the alliance on the part of the Five Cantons, and the unheard of insults with which they load us, impose upon us the obligation of marching against our enemies,[1153] before the Emperor, who is still detained by the Turks, shall have expelled the Landgrave, seized upon Strasburg, and subjugated even ourselves." All the blood of the ancient Swiss seemed to boil in this man's veins; and while Uri, Schwytz, and Unterwalden basely kissed the hand of Austria, this Zuricher—the greatest Helvetian of the age—faithful to the memory of old Switzerland, but not so to still holier traditions, followed in the glorious steps of Stauffacher and Winkelried.


The warlike tone of Zurich alarmed its confederates. Basle proposed a summons, and then, in case of refusal, the rupture of the alliance. Schaffhausen and St. Gall were frightened even at this step: "The mountaineers, so proud, indomitable, and exasperated," said they, "will accept with joy the dissolution of the Confederation, and then shall we be more advanced?" Such was the posture of affairs, when,[412] to the great astonishment of all, deputies from Uri and Schywtz made their appearance. They were coldly received; the cup of honour was not offered to them; and they had to walk, according to their own account, in the midst of the insulting cries of the people. They unsuccessfully endeavoured to excuse their conduct. "We have long been waiting," was the cold reply of the diet, "to see your actions and your words agree."[1154] The men of Schwytz and of Uri returned in sadness to their homes; and the assembly broke up, full of sorrow and distress.


Zwingle beheld with pain the deputies of the evangelical towns separating without having come to any decision. He no longer desired only a reformation of the Church; he wished for a transformation in the Confederacy; and it was this latter reform that he now was preaching from the pulpit, according to what we learn from Bullinger.[1155] He was not the only person who desired it. For a long time the inhabitants of the most populous and powerful towns of Switzerland had complained that the Waldstettes, whose contingent of men and money was much below theirs, had an equal share in the deliberations of the diet and in the fruits of their victories. This had been the cause of division after the Burgundian War. The Five Cantons, by means of their adherents, had the majority. Now Zwingle thought that the reins of Switzerland should be placed in the hands of the great cities, and, above all, in those of the powerful cantons of Berne and Zurich. New times, in his opinion, called for new forms. It was not sufficient to dismiss from every public office the pensioners of foreign princes, and substitute pious men in their place; the federal compact must be remodelled, and settled upon a more equitable basis. A national constituent assembly would doubtless have responded to his wishes. These discourses,[413] which were rather those of a tribune of the people than of a minister of Jesus Christ, hastened on the terrible catastrophe.

And indeed the animated words of the patriot reformer passed from the church where they had been delivered into the councils and the halls of the guilds, into the streets and the fields. The burning words that fell from the lips of this man kindled the hearts of his fellow-citizens. The electric spark, escaping with noise and commotion, was felt even in the most distant cottage. The ancient traditions of wisdom and prudence seemed forgotten. Public opinion declared itself energetically. On the 29th and 30th April, a number of horsemen rode hastily out of Zurich; they were envoys from the council, commissioned to remind all the allied cities of the encroachment of the Five Cantons, and to call for a prompt and definitive decision. Reaching their several destinations, the messengers recapitulated the grievances.[1156] "Take care," said they in conclusion; "great dangers are impending over all of us. The Emperor and King Ferdinand are making vast preparations; they are about to enter Switzerland with large sums of money, and with a numerous army."


Zurich joined actions to words. This state, being resolved to make every exertion to establish the free preaching of the Gospel in those bailiwicks where it shared the sovereignty with the Roman-catholic cantons, desired to interfere by force wherever negotiations could not prevail. The federal rights, it must be confessed, were trampled under foot at St. Gall, in Thurgovia, in the Rheinthal; and Zurich substituted arbitrary decisions in their place, that excited the indignation of the Waldstettes to the highest degree. Thus the number of enemies to the Reform kept increasing; the tone of the Five Cantons became daily more threatening, and the inhabitants of the canton of Zurich, whom their business called into the mountains, were loaded with insults, and sometimes badly[414] treated. These violent proceedings excited in turn the anger of the reformed cantons. Zwingle traversed Thurgovia, St. Gall, and the Tockenburg, everywhere organizing synods, taking part in their proceedings, and preaching before excited and enthusiastic crowds. In all parts he met with confidence and respect. At St. Gall an immense crowd assembled under his windows, and a concert of voices and instruments expressed to the reformer the public gratitude in harmonious songs. "Let us not abandon ourselves," he repeated continually, "and all will go well." It was resolved that a meeting should be held at Arau on the 12th May, to deliberate on a posture of affairs that daily became more critical. This meeting was to be the beginning of sorrows.

V. Zwingle's scheme with regard to the establishment of a new Helvetian constitution did not prevail in the diet of Arau. Perhaps it was thought better to see the result of the crisis. Perhaps a more Christian, a more federal view—the hope of procuring the unity of Switzerland by unity of faith—occupied men's minds more than the pre-eminence of the cities. In truth, if a certain number of cantons remained with the Pope, the unity of the Confederation was destroyed, it might be for ever. But if all the Confederation was brought over to the same faith, the ancient Helvetic unity would be established on the strongest and surest foundation. Now was the time for acting—or never; and there must be no fear of employing a violent remedy to restore the whole body to health.


Nevertheless, the allies shrunk back at the thought of restoring religious liberty or political unity by means of arms; and to escape from the difficulties in which the Confederation was placed, they sought a middle course between war and peace. "There is no doubt," said the deputies from Berne, "that the behaviour of the cantons with regard to the Word of God fully authorizes an armed intervention; but the dangers that threaten us on the side of Italy and the Empire—the danger of arousing the lion from his slumber—the[415] general want and misery that afflict our people—the rich harvests that will soon cover our fields, and that the war would infallibly destroy—the great number of pious men among the Waldstettes, and whose innocent blood would flow along with that of the guilty:—all these motives enjoin us to leave the sword in the scabbard. Let us rather close our markets against the Five Cantons; let us refuse them corn, salt, wine, steel, and iron; we shall thus impart authority to the friends of peace among them, and innocent blood will be spared."[1157] The meeting separated forthwith to carry this intermediate proposition to the different Evangelical cantons, and on the 15th May again assembled at Zurich.

Convinced that the means apparently the most violent were nevertheless both the surest and the most humane, Zurich resisted the Bernese proposition with all its might. "By accepting this proposition," said they, "we sacrifice the advantages that we now possess, and we give the Five Cantons time to arm themselves, and to fall upon us first. Let us take care that the Emperor does not then attack us on one side, while our ancient confederates attack us on the other; a just war is not in opposition to the Word of God; but this is contrary to it—taking the bread from the mouths of the innocent as well as the guilty; straitening by hunger the sick, the aged, pregnant women, children, and all who are deeply afflicted by the injustice of the Waldstettes.[1158] We should beware of exciting by this means the anger of the poor, and transforming into enemies many who at the present time are our friends and our brothers!"


We must acknowledge that this language, which was Zwingle's, contained much truth. But the other cantons, and Berne in particular, were immoveable. "When we have once shed the blood of our brothers," said they, "we shall never be able to restore life to those who have lost it; while, from the moment the Waldstettes have given us satisfaction,[416] we shall be able to put an end to all these severe measures. We are resolved not to begin the war." There were no means of running counter to such a declaration. The Zurichers consented to refuse supplies to the Waldstettes; but it was with hearts full of anguish, as if they had foreseen all that this deplorable measure would cost them.[1159] It was agreed that the severe step that was now about to be taken should not be suspended except by common consent, and that, as it would create great exasperation, each one should hold himself prepared to repel the attacks of the enemy. Zurich and Berne were commissioned to notify this determination to the Five Cantons; and Zurich, discharging its task with promptitude, immediately forwarded an order to every bailiwick to suspend all communication with the Waldstettes, commanding them at the same time to abstain from ill-usage and hostile language. Thus the Reformation, becoming imprudently mixed up with political combinations, marched from fault to fault; it pretended to preach the Gospel to the poor, and was now about to refuse them bread!


On the Sunday following—it was Whitsunday—the resolution was published from the pulpits. Zwingle walked towards his, where an immense crowd was waiting for him. The piercing eye of this great man easily discovered the dangers of the measure in a political point of view, and his christian heart deeply felt all its cruelty. His soul was overburdened, his eyes downcast. If at this moment the true character of a minister of the Gospel had awoke within him; if Zwingle with his powerful voice had called on the people to humiliation before God, to forgiveness of trespasses, and to prayer; safety might yet have dawned on "broken-hearted" Switzerland. But it was not so. More and more the Christian disappears in the Reformer, and the citizen alone remains; but in that character he soars far above all, and his policy is undoubtedly the most skilful. He sees clearly that every delay may ruin Zurich; and after having made his way[417] through the people, and closed the book of the Prince of Peace, he hesitates not to attack the resolution which he has just communicated to the people, and on the very festival of the Holy Ghost to preach war. "He who fears not to call his adversary a criminal," says he in his usual forcible language, "must be ready to follow the word with a blow.[1160] If he does not strike, he will lie stricken. Men of Zurich! you deny food to the Five Cantons, as to evil-doers: well! let the blow follow the threat, rather than reduce poor innocent creatures to starvation. If, by not taking the offensive, you appear to believe that there is not sufficient reason for punishing the Waldstettes, and yet you refuse them food and drink, you will force them by this line of conduct to take up arms, to raise their hands, and to inflict punishment upon you. This is the fate that awaits you."

These words of the eloquent reformer moved the whole assembly. Zwingle's politic mind already so influenced and misled all the people that there were few souls christian enough to feel how strange it was that on the very day when they were celebrating the outpouring of the Spirit of peace and love upon the Christian Church, the mouth of a minister of God should utter a provocation to war. They looked at this sermon only in a political point of view: "It is a seditious discourse; it is an excitement to civil war!" said some. "No," replied others, "it is the language that the safety of the state requires!" All Zurich was agitated. "Zurich has too much fire," said Berne. "Berne has too much cunning," replied Zurich.[1161] Zwingle's gloomy prophecy was too soon to be fulfilled!


No sooner had the reformed cantons communicated to the Waldstettes this pitiless decree than they hastened its execution; and Zurich showed the greatest strictness respecting it. Not only the markets of Zurich and of Berne, but also[418] those of the free bailiwicks, those of St. Gall, of the Tockenburg, of the district of Sargans and of the valley of the Rhine, a country partly under the sovereignty of the Waldstettes, were shut against the Five Cantons. A formidable power had suddenly encompassed with barrenness, famine, and death, the noble founders of Helvetian liberty. Uri, Schwytz, Unterwalden, Zug, and Lucerne, were, as it seemed, in the midst of a vast desert. Their own subjects, thought they at least, the communes that have taken the oath of allegiance to them, would range themselves on their side! But no; Bremgarten, and even Mellingen, refused all succour. Their last hope was in Wesen and the Gastal. Neither Berne nor Zurich have anything to do there; Schwytz and Glaris alone rule over them; but the power of their enemies has penetrated everywhere. A majority of thirteen votes had declared in favour of Zurich at the Landsgemeinde of Glaris; and Glaris closed the gates of Wesen and of the Gastal against Schwytz. In vain did Berne itself cry out: "How can you compel subjects to refuse supplies to their lords?" In vain did Schwytz raise its voice in indignation; Zurich immediately sent to Wesen——gunpowder and bullets. It is upon Zurich, therefore, that falls all the odium of a measure which that city had at first so earnestly combated. At Arau, at Bremgarten, at Mellingen, in the free bailiwicks, were several carriages laden with provisions for the Waldstettes. They were stopped, unloaded, and upset: with them were barricades erected on the roads leading to Lucerne, Schwytz, and Zug. Already a year of dearth had made provisions scarce in the Five Cantons;—already had a frightful epidemic, the Sweating Sickness, scattered everywhere despondency and death: but now the hand of man was joined to the hand of God; the evil increased, and the poor inhabitants of these mountains beheld unheard-of calamities approach with hasty steps. No more bread for their children—no more wine to revive their exhausted strength—no more salt for their flocks and herds! Everything failed them that man requires for subsistence.[419][1162] One could not see such things, and be a man, without a broken heart. In the confederate cities, and out of Switzerland, numerous voices were raised against this implacable measure. What good can result from it? Did not St. Paul write to the Romans: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head?"[1163] And when the magistrates wished to convince certain refractory communes of the utility of the measure: "We desire no religious war," cried they. "If the Waldstettes will not believe in God, let them stick to the devil!"


But it was especially in the Five Cantons that earnest complaints were heard. The most pacific individuals, and even the secret partisans of the Reform, seeing famine invade their habitations, felt the deepest indignation. The enemies of Zurich skilfully took advantage of this disposition; they fostered these murmurs; and soon the cry of anger and distress re-echoed from all the mountains. In vain did Berne represent to the Waldstettes that it is more cruel to refuse men the nourishment of the soul than to cut off that of the body. "God," replied these mountaineers in their despair, "God causes the fruits of the earth to grow freely for all men!"[1164] They were not content with groaning in their cottages, and venting their indignation in councils; they filled all Switzerland with complaints and menaces.[1165] "They wish to employ famine to tear us from our ancient faith; they wish to deprive our wives and our children of bread, that they may take from us the liberty we derive from our forefathers. When did such things ever take place in the bosom of the Confederation? Did we not see, in the last war, the Confederates with arms in their hands, and who were ready to draw the sword, eating together from the same dish? They tear in pieces old friendships—they trample our ancient manners[420] underfoot—they violate treaties—they break alliances......We invoke the charters of our ancestor. Help! help!......Wise men of our people, give us your advice, and all you who know how to handle the sling and the sword, come and maintain with us the sacred possessions, for which our fathers, delivered from the yoke of the stranger, united their arms and their hearts."

At the same time the Five Cantons sent into Alsace, Brisgau, and Swabia to obtain salt, wine, and bread; but the administration of the cities was implacable; the orders were everywhere given and everywhere strictly executed. Zurich and the other allied cantons intercepted all communication, and sent back to Germany the supplies that had been forwarded to their brethren. These Five Cantons were like a vast fortress, all the issues from which are closely guarded by watchful sentinels. The afflicted Waldstettes, on beholding themselves alone with famine between their lakes and their mountains, had recourse to the observances of their worship. All sports, dances, and every kind of amusement were interdicted;[1166] prayers were directed to be offered up; and long processions covered the roads of Einsideln and other resorts of pilgrims. They assumed the belt, and staff, and arms of the brotherhood to which they each belonged; each man carried a chaplet in his hands, and repeated paternosters; the mountains and the valleys re-echoed with their plaintive hymns. But the Waldstettes did still more: they grasped their swords—they sharpened the points of their halberds—they brandished their weapons in the direction of Zurich and of Berne, and exclaimed with rage: "They block up their roads, but we will open them with our right arms!"[1167] No one replied to this cry of despair; but there is[421] a just Judge in heaven to whom vengeance belongs, and who will soon reply in a terrible manner, by punishing those misguided persons, who, forgetful of Christian mercy, and making an impious mixture of political and religious matters, pretend to secure the triumph of the Gospel by famine and by armed men.


Some attempts, however, were made to arrange matters; but these very efforts proved a great humiliation for Switzerland and for the Reform. It was not the ministers of the Gospel, it was France—more than once an occasion of discord to Switzerland—that offered to restore peace. Every proceeding calculated to increase its influence among the cantons was of service to its policy. On the 14th May, Maigret and Dangertin (the latter of whom had received the Gospel truth, and consequently did not dare return to France),[1168] after some allusions to the spirit which Zurich had shown in this affair—a spirit little in accordance with the Gospel—said to the council: "The king our master has sent you two gentlemen to consult on the means of preserving concord among you. If war and tumult invade Switzerland, all the society of the Helvetians will be destroyed,[1169] and whichever party is the conqueror, he will be as much ruined as the other." Zurich having replied that if the Five Cantons would allow the free preaching of the Word of God, the reconciliation would be easy, the French secretly sounded the Waldstettes, whose answer was: "We will never permit the preaching of the Word of God, as the people of Zurich understand it."[1170]


These more or less interested exertions of the foreigners having failed, a general diet became the only chance of safety that remained for Switzerland. One was accordingly convoked at Bremgarten. It was opened in presence of deputies from France, from the Duke of Milan, from the[422] Countess of Neuchatel, from the Grisons, Valais, Thurgovia, and the district of Sargans; and met on five different occasions,—on the 14th and 20th June, on the 9th July, and the 10th and 23d August. The chronicler Bullinger, who was pastor of Bremgarten, delivered an oration at the opening, in which he earnestly exhorted the Confederates to union and peace.

A gleam of hope for a moment cheered Switzerland. The blockade had become less strict; friendship and good neighbourhood had prevailed in many places over the decrees of the state. Unusual roads had been opened across the wildest mountains to convey supplies to the Waldstettes. Provisions were concealed in bales of merchandise; and while Lucerne imprisoned and tortured its own citizens, who were found with the books of the Zurichers,[1171] Berne punished but slightly the peasants who had been discovered bearing food for Unterwalden and Lucerne; and Glaris shut its eyes on the frequent violation of its orders. The voice of charity, that had been momentarily stifled, pleaded with fresh energy the cause of their confederates before the reformed cantons.

But the Five Cantons were inflexible. "We will not listen to any proposition before the raising of the blockade," said they. "We will not raise it," replied Berne and Zurich, "before the Gospel is allowed to be freely preached, not only in the common bailiwicks, but also in the Five Cantons." This was undoubtedly going too far, even according to the natural law and the principles of the Confederation. The councils of Zurich might consider it their duty to have recourse to war for maintaining liberty of conscience in the common bailiwicks; but it was unjust—it was a usurpation, to constrain the Five Cantons in a matter that concerned their own territory. Nevertheless the mediators succeeded, not without much trouble, in drawing up a plan of conciliation that seemed to harmonize with the wishes of both parties. The conference was broken up, and this project was hastily transmitted to the different states for their ratification.


[423]The diet met again a few days after; but the Five Cantons persisted in their demand, without yielding in any one point. In vain did Zurich and Berne represent to them, that, by persecuting the Reformed, the cantons violated the treaty of peace; in vain did the mediators exhaust their strength in warnings and entreaties. The parties appeared at one time to approximate, and then on a sudden they were more distant and more irritated than ever. The Waldstettes at last brake up the third conference by declaring, that far from opposing the Evangelical truth, they would maintain it, as it had been taught by the Redeemer, by his holy Apostles, by the Four Doctors, and by their holy mother, the Church—a declaration that seemed a bitter irony to the deputies from Zurich and Berne. Nevertheless Berne, turning towards Zurich as they were separating, observed: "Beware of too much violence, even should they attack you!"

This exhortation was unnecessary. The strength of Zurich had passed away. The first appearance of the Reformation and of the Reformers had been greeted with joy. The people, who groaned under a twofold slavery, believed they saw the dawn of liberty. But their minds, abandoned for ages to superstition and ignorance, being unable immediately to realize the hopes they had conceived, a spirit of discontent soon spread among the masses. The change by which Zwingle, ceasing to be a man of the Gospel, became the man of the State, took away from the people the enthusiasm necessary to resist the terrible attacks they would have to sustain. The enemies of the Reform had a fair chance against it, so soon as its friends abandoned the position that gave them strength. Besides, Christians could not have recourse to famine and to war to secure the triumph of the Gospel, without their consciences becoming troubled. The Zurichers "walked not in the Spirit, but in the flesh; now, the works of the flesh are hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions."[1172] The danger without was increasing, while within, hope, agreement, and courage were far[424] from being augmented: men saw on the contrary the gradual disappearance of that harmony and lively faith which had been the strength of the Reform. The Reformation had grasped the sword, and that very sword pierced its heart.

Occasions of discord were multiplied in Zurich. By the advice of Zwingle, the number of nobles was diminished in the two councils, because of their opposition to the Gospel; and this measure spread discontent among the most honourable families of the canton. The millers and bakers were placed under certain regulations, which the dearth rendered necessary, and a great part of the townspeople attributed this proceeding to the sermons of the Reformer, and became irritated against him. Rodolph Lavater, bailiff of Kibourg, was appointed captain-general, and the officers who were of longer standing than he were offended. Many who had been formerly the most distinguished by their zeal for the Reform, now openly opposed the cause they had supported. The ardour with which the ministers of peace demanded war, spread in every quarter a smothered dissatisfaction, and many persons gave vent to their indignation. This unnatural confusion of Church and State which had corrupted Christianity after the age of Constantine, was hurrying on the ruin of the Reformation. The majority of the Great Council, ever ready to adopt important and salutary resolutions, was abolished. The old magistrates, who were still at the head of affairs, allowed themselves to be carried away by feelings of jealousy against men whose non-official influence prevailed over theirs. All those who hated the doctrine of the Gospel, whether from love of the world or from love to the Pope, boldly raised their heads in Zurich. The partisans of the monks, the friends of foreign service, the malcontents of every class, coalesced in pointing out Zwingle as the author of all the sufferings of the people.


Zwingle was heart-broken. He saw that Zurich and the Reformation were hastening to their ruin, and he could not check them. How could he do so, since, without suspecting it, he had been the principal accomplice in these disasters?[425] What was to be done? Shall the pilot remain in the ship which he is no longer permitted to save? There was but one means of safety for Zurich and for Zwingle. He should have retired from the political stage, and fallen back on that kingdom which is not of this world; he should, like Moses, have kept his hands and his heart night and day raised towards heaven, and energetically preached repentance, faith, and peace. But religious and political matters were united in the mind of this great man by such old and dear ties, that it was impossible for him to distinguish their line of separation. This confusion had become his dominant idea; the Christian and the citizen were for him one and the same character; and hence it resulted, that all resources of the state—even cannons and arquebuses—were to be placed at the service of the Truth. When one peculiar idea thus seizes upon a man, we see a false conscience formed within him, which approves of many things condemned by the Word of God.

This was now Zwingle's condition. War appeared to him legitimate and desirable; and if that was refused, he had only to withdraw from public life: he was for everything or nothing. He therefore, on the 26th July, appeared before the Great Council, with dimmed eyes and disconsolate heart: "It is now eleven years," said he, "since I have been preaching the Gospel among you, and that I have warned you faithfully and paternally of the woes that are hanging over you; but no attention is paid to my words; the friends of foreign alliances, the enemies of the Gospel, are elected to the council, and while you refuse to follow my advice, I am made responsible for every misfortune. I cannot accept such a position, and I ask for my dismissal." The reformer retired bathed in tears.


The council shuddered as they heard these words. All the old feelings of respect which they had so long entertained for Zwingle were revived; to lose him now was to ruin Zurich. The burgomaster and the other magistrates received orders to persuade him to recall his fatal resolution. The[426] conference took place on the same day; Zwingle asked time for consideration. For three days and three nights he sought the road that he should follow. Seeing the dark storm that was collecting from all quarters, he considered whether he ought to quit Zurich and seek refuge on the lofty hills of the Tockenburg, where he had been reared, when his country and his Church were on the point of being assailed and beaten down by their enemies, like corn by the hailstorm. He groaned and cried to the Lord. He would have put away the cup of bitterness that was presented to his soul, but could not gather up the resolution. At length the sacrifice was accomplished, and the victim was placed shuddering upon the altar. Three days after the first conference, Zwingle reappeared in the council: "I will stay with you," said he, "and I will labour for the public safety—until death!"


From this moment he displayed new zeal. On the one hand, he endeavoured to revive harmony and courage in Zurich; on the other, he set about arousing and exciting the allied cities to increase and concentrate all the forces of the Reformation. Faithful to the political character he imagined he had received from God himself—persuaded that it was in the doubts and want of energy of the Bernese that he must look for the cause of all the evil, the Reformer repaired to Bremgarten with Collin and Steiner, during the fourth conference of the diet, although he incurred great danger in the attempt. He arrived secretly by night, and having entered the house of his friend and disciple, Bullinger, he invited the deputies of Berne (J. J. de Watteville and Jur Hag) to meet him there with the greatest secrecy, and prayed them in the most solemn tone earnestly to reflect upon the dangers of the Reform. "I fear," said he, "that in consequence of our unbelief, this business will not succeed. By refusing supplies to the Five Cantons, we have begun a work that will be fatal to us. What is to be done? Withdraw the prohibition? The cantons will then be more insolent and haughty than ever. Enforce it? They will take the offensive, and if their attack succeed, you will behold our fields red with the[427] blood of the believers, the doctrine of truth cast down, the Church of Christ laid waste, all social relations overthrown, our adversaries more hardened and irritated against the Gospel, and crowds of priests and monks again fill our rural districts, streets, and temples......And yet," added Zwingle, after a few instants of emotion and silence, "that also will have an end." The Bernese were filled with agitation by the solemn voice of the reformer. "We see," replied they, "all that is to be feared for our common cause, and we will employ every care to prevent such great disasters."—"I who write these things was present and heard them," adds Bullinger.[1173]


It was feared that if the presence of Zwingle at Bremgarten became known to the deputies of the Five Cantons, they would not restrain their violence. During this nocturnal conference three of the town councillors were stationed as sentinels in front of Bullinger's house. Before daybreak, the reformer and his two friends, accompanied by Bullinger and the three councillors, passed through the deserted streets leading to the gate on the road to Zurich. Three different times Zwingle took leave of Bullinger, who was erelong to be his successor. His mind was filled with a presentiment of his approaching death; he could not tear himself from that young friend whose face he was never to see again; he blessed him amidst floods of tears. "O my dear Henry!" said he, "may God protect you! Be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to his Church!" At length they separated; but at that very moment, says Bullinger, a mysterious personage, clad in a robe as white as snow, suddenly appeared, and after frightening the soldiers who guarded the gate, plunged suddenly into the water, and vanished. Bullinger, Zwingle, and their friends did not perceive it; Bullinger himself sought for it all around, but to no purpose;[1174] still the sentinels persisted in the reality of this[428] frightful apparition. Bullinger in great agitation returned in darkness and in silence to his house. His mind involuntarily compared the departure of Zwingle and the white phantom; and he shuddered at the frightful omen which the thought of this spectre impressed upon his mind.


Sufferings of another kind pursued Zwingle to Zurich. He had thought that by consenting to remain at the head of affairs, he would recover all his ancient influence. But he was deceived: the people desired to see him there, and yet they would not follow him. The Zurichers daily became more and more indisposed towards the war which they had at first demanded, and identified themselves with the passive system of Berne. Zwingle remained for some time stupefied and motionless before this inert mass, which his most vigorous exertions could not move. But soon discovering in every quarter of the horizon the prophetic signs, precursors of the storm about to burst upon the ship of which he was the pilot, he uttered cries of anguish, and showed the signal of distress. "I see," exclaimed he one day to the people from the pulpit, whither he had gone to give utterance to his gloomy forebodings,—"I see that the most faithful warnings cannot save you: you will not punish the pensioners of the foreigner......They have too firm a support among us! A chain is prepared—behold it entire—it unrolls link after link,—soon they will bind me to it, and more than one pious Zuricher with me......It is against me they are enraged! I am ready; I submit to the Lord's will. But these people shall never be my masters......As for thee, O Zurich, they will give thee thy reward; they will strike thee on the head. Thou willest it. Thou refusest to punish them; well! it is they who will punish thee.[1175] But God will not the less preserve his Word, and their haughtiness shall come to an end." Such was Zwingle's cry of agony; but the immobility of death alone replied. The hearts of the Zurichers were so hardened that the sharpest[429] arrows of the reformer could not pierce them, and they fell at his feet blunted and useless.

But events were pressing on, and justified all his fears. The Five Cantons had rejected every proposition that had been made to them. "Why do you talk of punishing a few wrongs?" they had replied to the mediators; "it is a question of quite another kind. Do you not require that we should receive back among us the heretics whom we have banished, and tolerate no other priests than those who preach conformably to the Word of God? We know what that means. No—no—we will not abandon the religion of our fathers; and if we must see our wives and our children deprived of food, our hands will know how to conquer what is refused to us: to that we pledge our bodies—our goods—our lives." It was with this threatening language that the deputies quitted the Diet of Bremgarten. They had proudly shaken the folds of their mantles, war had fallen from them.

The terror was general, and the alarmed citizens beheld everywhere frightful portents, terrific signs, apparently foreboding the most horrible events. It was not only the white phantom that had appeared at Bremgarten at Zwingle's side: the most fearful omens, passing from mouth to mouth, filled the people with the most gloomy presentiments. The history of these phenomena, however strange it may appear, characterizes the period of which we write.

On the 26th July, a widow chancing to be alone before her house in the village of Castelenschloss, suddenly beheld a frightful spectacle—blood springing from the earth all around her![1176] She rushed in alarm into the cottage......but, oh horrible! blood is flowing everywhere—from the wainscot and from the stones;[1177]—it falls in a stream from a basin on a shelf, and even the child's cradle overflows with[430] it. The woman imagines that the invisible hand of an assassin has been at work, and rushes in distraction out of doors, crying murder! murder![1178] The villagers and the monks of a neighbouring convent assemble at the cry—they succeed in partly effacing the bloody stains; but a little later in the day, the other inhabitants of the house, sitting down in terror to eat their evening meal under the projecting eaves, suddenly discover blood bubbling up in a pond—blood flowing from the loft—blood covering all the walls of the house. Blood—blood—everywhere blood! The bailiff of Schenkenberg and the pastor of Dalheim arrive—inquire into the matter—and immediately report it to the lords of Berne and to Zwingle.


Scarcely had this horrible recital—the particulars of which are faithfully preserved in Latin and in German—filled all minds with the idea of a horrible butchery, than in the western quarter of the heavens there appeared a frightful comet,[1179] whose immense train of a pale yellow colour turned towards the south. At the time of its setting, this apparition shone in the sky like the fire of a furnace.[1180] One night—on the 15th August as it would appear[1181]—Zwingle and George Mühler, formerly abbot of Wettingen, being together in the cemetery of the cathedral, both fixed their eyes upon this terrific meteor. "This ominous globe," said Zwingle, "is come to light the path that leads to my grave. It will be at the cost of my life and of many good men with me. Although I am rather shortsighted, I foresee great[431] calamities in the future.[1182] The Truth and the Church will mourn; but Christ will never abandon us." It was not only at Zurich that this flaming star spread consternation. Vadianus being one night on an eminence in the neighbourhood of St. Gall, surrounded by his friends and disciples, after having explained to them the names of the stars and the miracles of the Creator, stopped before this comet, which denounced the anger of God; and the famous Theophrastus declared that it foreboded not only great bloodshed, but most especially the death of learned and illustrious men. This mysterious phenomenon prolonged its frightful visitation until the 3d September.

When once the noise of these omens was spread abroad, men could no longer contain themselves. Their imaginations were excited; they heaped fright upon fright: each place had its terrors. Two banners waving in the clouds had been seen on the mountain of the Brunig; at Zug a buckler had appeared in the heavens; on the banks of the Reuss, reiterated explosions were heard during the night; on the lake of the Four Cantons, ships carrying aërial combatants cruised about in every direction. War—war;—blood—blood!—these were the general cries.


In the midst of all this agitation, Zwingle alone seemed tranquil. He rejected none of these presentiments, but he contemplated them with calmness. "A heart that fears God," said he, "cares not for the threats of the world. To forward the designs of God, whatever may happen,—this is his task. A carrier who has a long road to go must make up his mind to wear his waggon and his gear during the journey. If he carry his merchandise to the appointed spot, that is enough for him. We are the waggon and the gear of God. There is not one of the articles that is not worn, twisted, or broken; but our great Driver will not the less accomplish by our means his vast designs. Is it not to those who fall upon the field of battle that the noblest crown belongs? Take courage, then, in the midst of all these dangers, through which the cause[432] of Jesus Christ must pass. Be of good cheer! although we should never here below see its triumphs with our own eyes. The Judge of the combat beholds us, and it is he who confers the crown. Others will enjoy upon earth the fruits of our labours; while we, already in heaven, shall enjoy an eternal reward."[1183]

Thus spoke Zwingle, as he advanced calmly towards the threatening noise of the tempest, which, by its repeated flashes and sudden explosions, foreboded death.

VI. The Five Cantons, assembled in diet at Lucerne, appeared full of determination, and war was decided upon. "We will call upon the cities to respect our alliances," said they, "and if they refuse, we will enter the common bailiwicks by force to procure provisions, and we will unite our banners in Zug to attack the enemy." The Waldstettes were not alone. The Nuncio, being solicited by his Lucerne friends, had required that auxiliary troops, paid by the Pope, should be put in motion towards Switzerland, and he announced their near arrival.


These resolutions carried terror into Switzerland; the mediating cantons met again at Arau, and drew up a plan that should leave the religious question just as it had been settled by the treaty of 1529. Deputies immediately bore these propositions to the different councils. Lucerne haughtily rejected them. "Tell those who sent you," was the reply, "that we do not acknowledge them as our schoolmasters. We would rather die than yield the least thing to the prejudice of our faith." The mediators returned to Arau, trembling and discouraged. This useless attempt increased the disagreement among the Reformed, and gave the Waldstettes still greater confidence. Zurich, so decided for the reception of the Gospel, now became daily more irresolute! The members of the council distrusted each other; the people felt no interest in this war; and Zwingle, notwithstanding[433] his unshaken faith in the justice of his cause, had no hope for the struggle that was about to take place. Berne, on its side, did not cease to entreat Zurich to avoid precipitation. "Do not let us expose ourselves to the reproach of too much haste, as in 1529," was the general remark in Zurich. "We have sure friends in the midst of the Waldstettes; let us wait until they announce to us, as they have promised, some real danger."

It was soon believed that these temporizers were right. In fact the alarming news ceased. That constant rumour of war, which incessantly came from the Waldstettes, discontinued. There were no more alarms—no more fears! Deceitful omen! Over the mountains and valleys of Switzerland hangs that gloomy and mysterious silence, the forerunner of the tempest.


Whilst they were sleeping at Zurich, the Waldstettes were preparing to conquer their rights by force of arms. The chiefs, closely united to each other by common interests and dangers, found a powerful support in the indignation of the people. In a diet of the Five Cantons, held at Brunnen on the banks of the Lake of Lucerne, opposite Grutli, the alliances of the Confederation were read; and the deputies, having been summoned to declare by their votes whether they thought the war just and lawful, all hands were raised with a shudder. Immediately the Waldstettes had prepared their attack with the profoundest mystery. All the passes had been guarded—all communication between Zurich and the Five Cantons had been rendered impossible. The friends upon whom the Zurichers had reckoned on the banks of the Lakes Lucerne and Zug, and who had promised them intelligence, were like prisoners in their mountains. The terrible avalanche was about to slip from the icy summits of the mountain, and to roll into the valleys, even to the gates of Zurich, overthrowing everything in its passage, without the least forewarning of its fall. The mediators had returned discouraged to their cantons. A spirit of imprudence and of error—sad forerunner of the fall of republics as well as of kings—had[434] spread over the whole city of Zurich. The council had at first given the order to call out the militia; then, deceived by the silence of the Waldstettes, it had imprudently revoked the decree, and Lavater, the commander of the army, had retired in discontent to Rybourg, and indignantly thrown far from him that sword which they had commanded him to leave in the scabbard. Thus the winds were about to be unchained from the mountains; the waters of the great deep, aroused by a terrible earthquake, were about to open; and yet the vessel of the state, sadly abandoned, sported up and down with indifference over the frightful gulf,—its yards struck, its sails loose and motionless—without compass or crew—without pilot, watch, or helm.

Whatever were the exertions of the Waldstettes, they could not entirely stifle the rumour of war, which from chalet to chalet called all their citizens to arms. God permits a cry of alarm—a single one, it is true—to resound in the ears of the people of Zurich. On the 4th October, a little boy, who knew not what he was doing, succeeded in crossing the frontier of Zug, and presented himself with two loaves at the gate of the reformed monastery of Cappel, situated in the farthest limits of the canton of Zurich. He was led to the abbot, to whom the child gave the loaves without saying a word. The superior, with whom there chanced to be at this time a councillor from Zurich, Henry Peyer, sent by his government, turned pale at the sight. "If the Five Cantons intend entering by force of arms into the free bailiwicks," had said these two Zurichers to one of their friends in Zug, "you will send your son to us with one loaf; but you will give him two if they are marching at once upon the bailiwicks and upon Zurich." The abbot and the councillor wrote with all speed to Zurich. "Be upon your guard! take up arms," said they; but no credit was attached to this information. The council were at that time occupied in taking measures to prevent the supplies that had arrived from Alsace from entering the cantons. Zwingle himself, who had never ceased to announce war, did not believe[435] it. "These pensioners are really clever fellows," said the reformer. "Their preparations may be after all nothing but a French manœuvre."[1184]

He was deceived—they were a reality. Four days were to accomplish the ruin of Zurich. Let us retrace in succession the history of these disastrous moments.

On Sunday, 8th October, a messenger appeared at Zurich, and demanded, in the name of the Five Cantons, letters of perpetual alliance.[1185] The majority saw in this step nothing but a trick; but Zwingle began to discern the thunderbolt in the black cloud that was drawing near. He was in the pulpit: it was the last time he was destined to appear in it; and as if he had seen a formidable spectre of Rome rise frightfully above the Alps, calling upon him and upon his people to abandon the faith:—"No, no!" cried he, "never will I deny my Redeemer!"

At the same moment a messenger arrived in haste from Mulinen, commander of the Knights-hospitallers of St. John at Hitzkylch. "On Friday, 6th October," said he to the councils of Zurich, "the people of Lucerne planted their banner in the Great Square.[1186] Two men that I sent to Lucerne have been thrown into prison. To-morrow morning, Monday, 9th October, the Five Cantons will enter the bailiwicks. Already the country-people, frightened and fugitive, are running to us in crowds."—"It is an idle story," said the councils.[1187] Nevertheless they recalled the commander-in-chief Lavater, who sent off a trusty man, nephew of James Winckler, with orders to repair to Cappel, and if possible as far as Zug, to reconnoitre the arrangements of the cantons.


The Waldstettes were in reality assembling round the banner of Lucerne. The people of this canton; the men[436] of Schwytz, Uri, Zug, and Unterwalden; refugees from Zurich and Berne, with a few Italians, formed the main body of the army, which had been raised to invade the free bailiwicks. Two manifestoes were published—one addressed to the cantons, the other to foreign princes and nations.

The Five Cantons energetically set forth the attacks made upon the treaties, the discord sown throughout the Confederation, and finally the refusal to sell them provisions—a refusal whose only aim was (according to them) to excite the people against the magistrates, and to establish the Reform by force. "It is not true," added they, "that—as they cease not to cry out—we oppose the preaching of the truth and the reading of the Bible. As obedient members of the Church, we desire to receive all that our holy mother receives. But we reject all the books and the innovations of Zwingle and his companions."[1188]

Hardly had the messengers charged with these manifestoes departed before the first division of the army began to march, and arrived in the evening in the free bailiwicks. The soldiers having entered the deserted churches, and having seen the images of the saints removed and the altars broken, their anger was kindled; they spread like a torrent over the whole country, pillaged everything they met with, and were particularly enraged against the houses of the pastors, where they destroyed the furniture with oaths and maledictions. At the same time the division that was to form the main army marched upon Zug, thence to move upon Zurich.


Cappel, at three leagues from Zurich, and about a league from Zug, was the first place they would reach in the Zurich territory, after crossing the frontier of the Five Cantons. Near the Albis, between two hills of similar height, the Granges on the north, and the Ifelsberg on the south, in the midst of delightful pastures, stood the ancient and wealthy convent of the Cistertians, in whose church were the tombs of many ancient and noble families of these districts. The[437] Abbot Wolfgang Joner, a just and pious man, a great friend of the arts and letters, and a distinguished preacher, had reformed his convent in 1527. Full of compassion, rich in good works, particularly towards the poor of the canton of Zug and the free bailiwicks, he was held in great honour throughout the whole country.[1189] He predicted what would be the termination of the war; yet as soon as danger approached, he spared no labour to serve his country.

It was on Sunday night that the abbot received positive intelligence of the preparations at Zug. He paced up and down his cell with hasty steps; sleep fled from his eyes; he drew near his lamp, and addressing his intimate friend, Peter Simmler, who succeeded him, and who was then residing at Kylchberg, a village on the borders of the lake, and about a league from the town, he hastily wrote these words: "The great anxiety and trouble which agitate me prevent me from busying myself with the management of the house, and induce me to write to you all that is preparing. The time is come......the scourge of God appears.[1190]......After many journeys and inquiries, we have learnt that the Five Cantons will march to-day (Monday) to seize upon Hitzkylch, while the main army assembles its banners at Baar, between Zug and Cappel. Those from the valley of the Adige and the Italians will arrive to-day or to-morrow." This letter, through some unforeseen circumstance, did not reach Zurich till the evening.

Meanwhile the messenger whom Lavater had sent—the nephew of J. Winckler—creeping on his belly, gliding unperceived past the sentinels, and clinging to the shrubs that overhung the precipices, had succeeded in making his way where no road had been cleared. On arriving near Zug, he had discovered with alarm the banner and the militia hastening from all sides at beat of drum: then traversing[438] again these unknown passes, he had returned to Zurich with this information.[1191]

It was high time that the bandage should fall from the eyes of the Zurichers; but the delusion was to endure to the last. The council which was called together met in small number. "The Five Cantons," said they, "are making a little noise to frighten us, and to make us raise the blockade."[1192] The council, however, decided on sending Colonel Rodolph Dumysen and Ulric Funk to Cappel, to see what was going on; and each one, tranquillized by this unmeaning step, retired to rest.

They did not slumber long. Every hour brought fresh messengers of alarm to Zurich. "The banners of four cantons are assembled at Zug," said they. "They are only waiting for Uri. The people of the free bailiwicks are flocking to Cappel, and demanding arms......Help! help!"

Before the break of day the council was again assembled, and it ordered the convocation of the Two Hundred. An old man, whose hair had grown gray on the battle-field and in the council of the state—the banneret John Schweizer—raising his head enfeebled by age, and darting the last beam, as it were, from his eyes, exclaimed, "Now—at this very moment, in God's name, send an advanced guard to Cappel, and let the army, promptly collecting round the banner, follow it immediately." He said no more; but the charm was not yet broken. "The peasants of the free bailiwicks," said some, "we know to be hasty, and easily carried away. They make the matter greater than it really is. The wisest plan is to wait for the report of the councillors." In Zurich there was no longer either arm to defend or head to advise.


It was seven in the morning, and the assembly was still sitting, when Rodolph Gwerb, pastor of Rifferschwyl, near Cappel, arrived in haste. "The people of the lordship of[439] Knonau," said he, "are crowding round the convent, and loudly calling for chiefs and for aid. The enemy is approaching. Will our lords of Zurich (say they) abandon themselves, and us with them? Do they wish to give us up to slaughter?" The pastor, who had witnessed these mournful scenes, spoke with animation. The councillors, whose infatuation was to be prolonged to the end, were offended at his message. "They want to make us act imprudently," replied they, turning in their arm-chairs.

They had scarcely ceased speaking before a new messenger appears, wearing on his features the marks of the greatest terror: it was Schwyzer, landlord of the "Beech Tree" on Mount Albis. "My lords Dumysen and Funck," said he, "have sent me to you with all speed to announce to the council that the Five Cantons have seized upon Hytzkilch, and that they are now collecting all their troops at Baar. My lords remain in the bailiwicks to aid the frightened inhabitants."

This time the most confident turned pale. Terror, so long restrained, passed like a flash of lightning through every heart.[1193] Hytzkilch was in the power of the enemy, and the war was begun.


It was resolved to expedite to Cappel a flying camp of six hundred men with six guns; but the command was intrusted to George Goldli, whose brother was in the army of the Five Cantons, and he was enjoined to keep on the defensive. Goldli and his troops had just left the city, when the captain-general Lavater, summoning into the hall of the Smaller Council the old banneret Schweizer, William Toning, captain of the arquebusiers, J. Dennikon, captain of the artillery, Zwingle, and some others, said to them, "Let us deliberate promptly on the means of saving the canton and the city. Let the tocsin immediately call out all the citizens." The captain-general feared that the councils would shrink at this proceeding, and he wished to raise the Landsturm by the simple advice of the army and of Zwingle. "We[440] cannot take it upon ourselves," said they, "the two councils are still sitting; let us lay this proposition before them." They hasten towards the place of meeting; but, fatal mischance! there were only a few members of the Smaller Council on the benches. "The consent of the Two Hundred is necessary," said they. Again a new delay, and the enemy is on the march. Two hours after noon the Great Council met again, but only to make long and useless speeches.[1194] At length the resolution was taken, and at seven in the evening the tocsin began to sound in all the country districts. Treason united with this dilatoriness, and persons who pretended to be envoys from Zurich stopped the Landsturm in many places, as being contrary to the opinion of the council. A great number of citizens went to sleep again.

It was a fearful night. The thick darkness—a violent storm—the alarm-bell ringing from every steeple—the people running to arms—the noise of swords and guns—the sound of trumpets and of drums, combined with the roaring of the tempest, the distrust, discontent, and even treason, which spread affliction in every quarter—the sobs of women and of children—the cries which accompanied many a heartrending adieu—an earthquake which occurred about nine o'clock at night, as if nature herself had shuddered at the blood that was about to be spilt, and which violently shook the mountains and valleys:[1195] all increased the terrors of this fatal night,—a night to be followed by a still more fatal day.


While these events were transpiring, the Zurichers encamped on the heights of Cappel to the number of about one thousand men, fixed their eyes on Zug and upon the lake, attentively watching every movement. On a sudden, a little before night, they perceived a few barks filled with soldiers coming from the side of Arth, and rowing across the lake towards Zug. Their number increases—one boat follows another—soon they distinctly hear the bellowing of[441] the bull (the horn) of Uri,[1196] and they discern the banner. The barks draw near Zug; they are moored to the shore, which is lined with an immense crowd. The warriors of Uri and the arquebusiers of the Adige spring up and leap on shore, where they are received with acclamations, and take up their quarters for the night: behold the enemies assembled! The council are informed with all speed.

The agitation was still greater at Zurich than at Cappel: the confusion was increased by uncertainty. The enemy attacking them on different sides at once, they knew not where to carry assistance. Two hours after midnight five hundred men with four guns quitted the city for Bremgarten, and three or four hundred men with five guns for Wadenshwyl. They turned to the right and to the left, while the enemy was in front.

Alarmed at its own weakness, the council resolved to apply without delay to the cities of the christian co-burghery. "As this revolt," wrote they, "has no other origin than the Word of God, we entreat you once—twice—thrice, as loudly, as seriously, as firmly, and as earnestly, as our ancient alliances and our christian co-burghery permit and command us to do—to set forth without delay with all your forces. Haste! haste! haste! Act as promptly as possible[1197]—the danger is yours as well as ours." Thus spake Zurich; but it was already too late.

At break of day the banner was raised before the town-house; instead of flaunting proudly in the wind, it hung drooping down the staff—a sad omen that filled many minds with fear. Lavater took up his station under the standard; but a long period elapsed before a few hundred soldiers could be got together.[1198] In the square and in all the city disorder and confusion prevailed. The troops, fatigued by a hasty march or by long waiting, were faint and discouraged.


[442]At ten o'clock, only 700 men were under arms. The selfish, the lukewarm, the friends of Rome and of the foreign pensioners, had remained at home. A few old men who had more courage than strength—several members of the two councils who were devoted to the holy cause of God's Word—many ministers of the Church who desired to live and die with the Reform—the boldest of the townspeople and a certain number of peasants, especially those from the neighbourhood of the city—such were the defenders who, wanting that moral force so necessary for victory, incompletely armed, without uniform, crowded in disorder around the banner of Zurich.

The army should have numbered at least 4000 men; they waited still; the usual oath had not been administered; and yet courier after courier arrived, breathless and in disorder, announcing the terrible danger that threatened Zurich. All this disorderly crowd is agitated—they no longer wait for the commands of their chiefs, and many without taking the oath rush through the gates. About 200 men thus set out in confusion. All those who remained prepared to depart.

Then was Zwingle seen to issue from a house before which a caparisoned horse was stamping impatiently; it was his own. His look was firm, but dimmed by sorrow. He parted from his wife, his children, and his numerous friends, without deceiving himself, and with a bruised heart.[1199] He observed the thick waterspout, which, driven by a terrible wind, advanced whirling towards him. Alas! he had himself called up this hurricane by quitting the atmosphere of the Gospel of peace, and throwing himself into the midst of political passions. He was convinced that he would be the first victim. Fifteen days before the attack of the Waldstettes, he had said from the pulpit: "I know what is the meaning of all this:—it is all about me. All this comes to[443] pass—in order that I may die."[1200] The council, according to an ancient custom, had called upon him to accompany the army as its chaplain. Zwingle did not hesitate. He prepared himself without surprise and without anger,—with the calmness of a Christian who placed himself confidently in the hands of his God. If the cause of Reform was doomed to perish, he was ready to perish with it. Surrounded by his weeping wife and friends—by his children who clung to his garments to detain him, he quitted that house where he had tasted so much happiness. At the moment that his hand was upon his horse, just as he was about to mount, the animal violently started back several paces, and when he was at last in the saddle, it refused for a time to move, rearing and prancing backwards, like that horse which the greatest captain of modern times had mounted as he was about to cross the Niemen. Many in Zurich at that time thought with the soldier of the Grand Army when he saw Napoleon on the ground: "It is a bad omen! a Roman would go back!"[1201] Zwingle having at last mastered his horse, gave the reins, applied the spur, started forward, and disappeared.


At eleven o'clock the flag was struck, and all who remained in the square—about 500 men—began their march along with it. The greater part were torn with difficulty from the arms of their families, and walked sad and silent, as if they were going to the scaffold instead of battle. There was no order—no plan; the men were isolated and scattered, some running before, some after the colours, their extreme confusion presenting a fearful appearance;[1202] so much so, that those who remained behind—the women, the children, and the old men, filled with gloomy forebodings, beat their[444] breasts as they saw them pass, and many years after, the remembrance of this day of tumult and mourning drew this groan from Oswald Myconius: "Whenever I recall it to mind, it is as if a sword pierced my heart." Zwingle, armed according to the usage of the chaplains of the Confederation, rode mournfully behind this distracted multitude. Myconius, when he saw him, was nigh fainting.[1203] Zwingle disappeared, and Oswald remained behind to weep.

He did not shed tears alone; in all quarters were heard lamentations, and every house was changed into a house of prayer.[1204] In the midst of this universal sorrow, one woman remained silent; her only cry was a bitter heart, her only language the mild and suppliant eye of faith:—this was Anna, Zwingle's wife. She had seen her husband depart—her son, her brother, a great number of intimate friends and near relations, whose approaching death she foreboded. But her soul, strong as that of her husband, offered to God the sacrifice of her holiest affections. Gradually the defenders of Zurich precipitate their march, and the tumult dies away in the distance.


VII. This night, which was so stormy in Zurich, had not been calmer at Cappel. They had received the most alarming reports one after another. It was necessary to take up a position that would allow the troops assembled round the convent to resist the enemy's attack until the arrival of the reinforcements that were expected from the city. They cast their eyes on a small hill, which lying to the north towards Zurich, and traversed by the highroad, presented an uneven but sufficiently extensive surface. A deep ditch that surrounded it on three sides defended the approaches; but a small bridge, that was the only issue on the side of Zurich, rendered a precipitate retreat very dangerous. On the south-west was a wood of beech-trees; on the south, in[445] the direction of Zug, was the highroad and a marshy valley. "Lead us to the Granges," cried all the soldiers. They were conducted thither. The artillery was stationed near some ruins. The line of battle was drawn up on the side of the monastery and of Zug, and sentinels were placed at the foot of the slope.

Meantime, the signal is given at Zug and Baar: the drums beat: the soldiers of the Five Cantons take up their arms. A universal feeling of joy animates them. The churches are opened, the bells ring, and the serried ranks of the cantons enter the cathedral of St. Oswald; Mass is celebrated; the Host is offered up for the sins of the people, and all the army begin their march at nine o'clock, with banners flying. The avoyer John Golder commands the contingent of Lucerne; the landamman Jacques Troguer, that of Uri; the landamman Rychmut, a mortal enemy of the Reformation, that of Schwytz; the landamman Zellger, that of Unterwalden; and Oswald Dooss that of Zug. Eight thousand men march in order of battle: all the picked men of the Five Cantons are there. Fresh and active after a quiet night, and having only one short league to cross before reaching the enemy, these haughty Waldstettes advance with a firm and regular step under the command of their chiefs.


On reaching the common meadow of Zug, they halt to take the oath: every hand is upraised to heaven, and all swear to avenge themselves. They were about to resume their march, when some aged men made signs to them to stop. "Comrades," they said, "we have long offended God. Our blasphemies, our oaths, our wars, our revenge, our pride, our drunkenness, our adulteries, the gold of the stranger to whom our hands have been extended, and all the disorders in which we have indulged, have so provoked his anger, that if he should punish us to-day, we should only receive the desert of our crimes." The emotion of the chiefs had passed into the ranks. All the army bend the knee in the midst of the plain; deep silence prevails, and every soldier, with bended head, crosses himself devoutly, and repeats in a low voice[446] five paters, as many aves, and the credo. One might have said that they were for a time in the midst of a vast and stilly desert. Suddenly the noise of an immense crowd is again heard. The army rises up. "Soldiers," said the captains, "you know the cause of this war. Bear your wives and your children continually before your eyes."

Then the chief usher (grand sautier) of Lucerne, wearing the colours of the canton, approaches the chiefs of the army: they place in his hands the declaration of war, dated on that very day, and sealed with the arms of Zug. He then sets off on horseback, preceded by a trumpeter, to carry this paper to the commander of the Zurichers.

It was eleven in the morning. The Zurichers soon discovered the enemy's army, and cast a sorrowful glance on the small force they were able to oppose to it. Every minute the danger increased. All bent their knees, their eyes were raised to heaven, and every Zuricher uttered a cry from the bottom of his heart, praying for deliverance from God. As soon as the prayer was ended, they got ready for battle. There were at that time about twelve hundred men under arms.


At noon the trumpet of the Five Cantons sounded not far from the advanced posts. Goldli, having collected the members of the two councils who happened to be with the army, as well as the commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and having ranged them in a circle, ordered the secretary Rheinhard to read the declaration of which the Sautier of Lucerne was the bearer. After the reading, Goldli opened a council of war. "We are few in number, and the forces of our adversaries are great," said Landolt, bailiff of Marpac, "but I will here await the enemy in the name of God." "Wait!" cried the captain of the halberdiers, Rodolph Zigler; "impossible! let us rather take advantage of the ditch that cuts the road to effect our retreat, and let us everywhere raise a levée en masse." This was in truth the only means of safety. But Rudi Gallmann, considering every step backwards as an act of cowardice, cried out, stamping his feet[447] forcibly on the earth, and casting a fiery glance around him, "Here—here shall be my grave!"[1205]—"It is now too late to retire with honour," said other officers. "This day is in the hands of God. Let us suffer whatever he lays upon us." It was put to the vote.

The members of the council had scarcely raised their hands in token of assent, when a great noise was heard around them. "The captain! the captain!" cried a soldier from the outposts who arrived in haste. "Silence, silence!" replied the ushers, driving him back; "they are holding a council!"—"It is no longer time to hold a council," replied the soldier. "Conduct me immediately to the captain."......"Our sentinels are falling back," cried he with an agitated voice, as he arrived before Goldli. "The enemy is there—they are advancing through the forest with all their forces and with great tumult." He had not ceased speaking, before the sentinels, who were in truth retiring on all sides, ran up, and the army of the Five Cantons was soon seen climbing the slope of Ifelsberg in face of the Granges, and pointing their guns. The leaders of the Waldstettes were examining the position, and seeking to discover by what means their army could reach that of Zurich. The Zurichers were asking themselves the same question. The nature of the ground prevented the Waldstettes from passing below the convent, but they could arrive by another quarter. Ulric Brüder, under bailiff of Husen in the canton of Zurich, fixed his anxious look on the beech-wood. "It is thence that the enemy will fall upon us!" "Axes—axes!" immediately cried several voices; "let us cut down the trees!"[1206] Goldli, the abbot, and several others, were opposed to this: "If we stop up the wood, by throwing down the trees, we shall ourselves be unable to work our guns in that direction," said they.—"Well! at least let us place some arquebusiers in that quarter."—"We are already so small a number," replied[448] the captain, "that it will be imprudent to divide the forces." Neither wisdom nor courage were to save Zurich. They once more invoked the help of God, and waited in expectation.

At one o'clock the Five Cantons fired the first gun: the ball passing over the convent, fell below the Granges; a second passed over the line of battle; a third struck a hedge close to the ruins. The Zurichers, seeing the battle was begun, replied with courage; but the slowness and awkwardness with which the artillery was served in those days prevented any great loss being inflicted on either side. When the enemy perceived this, they ordered their advanced guard to descend from Ifelsberg and to reach the Granges through the meadow; and soon the whole army of the Cantons advanced in this direction, but with difficulty and over bad roads. Some arquebusiers of Zurich came and announced the disorder of the Cantons. "Brave Zurichers," cried Rudi Gallmann, "if we attack them now, it is all over with them." At these words some of the soldiers prepared to enter the wood on the left, to fall upon the disheartened Waldstettes. But Goldli perceiving this movement, cried out: "Where are you going?—do you not know that we have agreed not to separate?" He then ordered the skirmishers to be recalled, so that the wood remained entirely open to the enemy. They were satisfied with discharging a few random shots from time to time to prevent the Cantons from establishing themselves there. The firing of the artillery continued until three o'clock, and announced far and wide, even to Bremgarten and Zurich, that the battle had begun.


In the meanwhile the great banner of Zurich and all those who surrounded it, among whom was Zwingle, came advancing in disorder towards the Albis. For a year past the gaiety of the reformer had entirely disappeared: he was grave, melancholy, easily moved, having a weight on his heart that seemed to crush it. Often would he throw himself weeping at the feet of his Master, and seek in prayer the strength of which he stood in need. No one had ever observed[449] in him any irritation; on the contrary, he had received with mildness the counsels that had been offered, and had remained tenderly attached to men whose convictions were not the same as his own. He was now advancing mournfully along the road to Cappel; and John Maaler of Winterthour, who was riding a few paces behind him, heard his groans and sighs, intermingled with fervent prayers. If any one spoke to him, he was found firm and strong in the peace that proceeds from faith; but he did not conceal his conviction that he should never see his family or church again. Thus advanced the forces of Zurich. Awful march! resembling rather a funeral procession then an army going to battle.

As they approached they saw express after express gallopping along the road from Cappel, begging the Zurichers to hasten to the defence of their brothers.[1207]

At Adliswil, having passed the bridge under which flow the impetuous waters of the Sihl, and traversed the village through the midst of women, children, and old men, who, standing before their cottages, looked with sadness on this disorderly troop, they began to ascend the Albis. They were about half way from Cappel when the first cannon-shot was heard. They stop, they listen: a second, a third succeeds......There is no longer any doubt. The glory, the very existence of the republic are endangered, and they are not present to defend it! The blood curdles in their veins. On a sudden they arouse, and each one begins to run to the support of his brothers. But the road over the Albis was much steeper than it is in our days. The badly harnessed artillery could not ascend it; the old men, the citizens, little habituated to marching, and covered with weighty armour, advanced with difficulty: and yet they formed the greater portion of the troops. They were seen stopping one after another, panting and exhausted, along the sides of the road near the thickets and ravines of the Albis, leaning against a[450] beech or an ash tree, and looking with dispirited eyes to the summit of the mountain covered with thick pines.

They resume their march, however; the horsemen and the most intrepid of the foot-soldiers hasten onwards, and having reached the "Beech Tree," on the top of the mountain, halt to take council.

What a prospect then extended before their eyes! Zurich, the lake and its smiling shores—those orchards, those fertile fields, those vine-clad hills, almost the whole of the canton. Alas! soon, perhaps, to be devastated by the Forest-bands.

Scarcely had these noble-minded men begun to deliberate, when fresh messengers from Cappel appear before them and exclaim, "Hasten forwards!" At these words many of the Zurichers prepared to gallop towards the enemy.[1208] Toning, the captain of the arquebusiers, stopt them. "My good friends," cried he to them, "against such great forces what can we do alone? Let us wait here until our people are assembled, and then let us fall upon the enemy with the whole army."—"Yes, if we had an army," bitterly replied the captain-general, who, in despair of saving the republic, thought only of dying with glory; "but we have only a banner and no soldiers."—"How can we stay calmly upon these heights," said Zwingle, "while we hear the shots that are fired at our fellow-citizens? In the name of God I will march towards our warriors, prepared to die in order to save them."[1209]—"And I too," added the aged banneret Schweizer. "As for you," continued he, turning with a contemptuous look towards Toning, "wait till you are a little recovered."—"I am quite as much refreshed as you," replied Toning, the colour mantling on his face, "and you shall soon see whether I cannot fight." All hastened their steps towards the field of battle.


The descent is rapid; they plunge into the woods, pass through the village of Husen, and at length arrive near the Granges. It was three o'clock when the banner crossed the narrow bridge that led thither; and there were so few soldiers round it that every one trembled as he beheld this venerated standard thus exposed to the attacks of so formidable an enemy. The army of the Cantons was at that moment deploying before the eyes of the new-comers. Zwingle gazed upon this terrible spectacle. Behold, then, these phalanxes of soldiers!—a few minutes more, and the labours of eleven years will be destroyed perhaps for ever!......

A citizen of Zurich, one Leonard Bourkhard, who was ill-disposed towards the reformer, said to him in a harsh tone, "Well, Master Ulric, what do you say about this business? Are the radishes salt enough?......who will eat them now?"[1210] "I," replied Zwingle, "and many a brave man who is here in the hands of God; for we are his in life and in death."—"And I too—I will help eat them," resumed Bourkhard immediately, ashamed of his brutality,—"I will risk my life for them." And he did so, and many others with him, adds the chronicle.

It was four o'clock; the sun was sinking rapidly; the Waldstettes did not advance, and the Zurichers began to think that the attack would be put off till the morrow. In fact, the chiefs of the Five Cantons seeing the great banner of Zurich arrive, the night near at hand, and the impossibility of crossing under the fire of the Zurichers the marsh and the ditch that separated the combatants, were looking for a place in which their troops might pass the night. "If, at this moment, any mediators had appeared," says Bullinger, "their proposals would have been accepted."


The soldiers, observing the hesitation of their chiefs, began to murmur loudly. "The big ones abandon us," said one. "The captains fear to bite the fox's tail," said another. "Not to attack them," cried they all, "is to ruin our cause."[452] During this time a daring man was preparing the skilful manœuvre that was to decide the fate of the day. A warrior of Uri, John Jauch, formerly bailiff of Sargans, a good marksman and experienced soldier, having taken a few men with him, moved towards the right of the army of the Five Cantons, crept into the midst of the clump of beech-trees that, by forming a semicircle to the east, unite the hill of Ifelsberg to that of the Granges,[1211] found the wood empty, arrived to within a few paces of the Zurichers, and there, hidden behind the trees, remarked unperceived the smallness of their numbers, and their want of caution. Then, stealthily retiring, he went to the chiefs at the very moment the discontent was on the point of bursting out. "Now is the time to attack the enemy," cried he. "Dear gossip," replied Troquer, captain-in-chief of Uri, "you do not mean to say that we should set to work at so late an hour; besides, the men are preparing their quarters, and everybody knows what it cost our fathers at Naples and Marignan for having commenced the attack a little before night. And then it is Innocents' day, and our ancestors have never given battle on a feast-day."[1212]—"Don't think about the Innocents of the calendar," replied Jauch, "but let us rather remember the innocents that we have left in our cottages." Gaspard Goldli of Zurich, brother of the commander of the Granges, added his entreaties to those of the warrior of Uri. "We must either beat the Zurichers to-night," said he, "or be beaten by them to-morrow. Take your choice."


All was unavailing; the chiefs were inflexible, and the army prepared to take up its quarters. Then the warrior of Uri, understanding like his fellow-countryman Tell that great evils require great remedies, drew his sword and[453] cried: "Let all true confederates follow me."[1213] Then hastily leaping to his saddle, he spurred his horse into the forest;[1214] and immediately arquebusiers, soldiers from the Adige, and many other warriors of the Five Cantons, especially from Unterwalden—in all about 300 men, rushed into the wood after him. At this sight Jauch no longer doubts of the victory of the Waldstettes. He dismounts and falls upon his knees, "for," says Tschudi, "he was a man who feared God." All his followers do the same, and together invoke the aid of God, of his holy mother, and of all the heavenly host, They then advance; but soon the warrior of Uri, wishing to expose no one but himself, halts his troops, and glides from tree to tree to the verge of the wood. Observing that the enemy was as incautious as ever, he rejoins his arquebusiers, leads them stealthily forward, and posts them silently behind the trees of the forest,[1215] enjoining them to take their aim so as not to miss their men. During this time the chiefs of the Five Cantons, foreseeing that this rash man was about to bring on the action, decided against their will, and collected their soldiers around the banners.

VIII. The Zurichers, fearing that the enemy would seize upon the road that led to their capital, were then directing part of their troops and their guns to a low hill by which it was commanded. At the very moment that the invisible arquebusiers stationed among the beech trees were taking their aim, this detachment passed near the little wood. The deepest silence prevails in this solitude: each one posted there picks out the man he desires to bring down, and Jauch exclaims: "In the name of the Holy Trinity—of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—of the Holy Mother of God, and of all the heavenly host—fire!" At the word the[454] deadly balls issue from the wood, and a murderous carnage in the ranks of Zurich follows this terrible discharge. The battle, which had begun four hours ago, and which had never appeared to be a serious attack, now underwent an unforeseen change. The sword was not again to be returned to the scabbard until it had been bathed in torrents of blood. Those of the Zurichers who had not fallen at this first discharge, lie flat on the ground, so that the balls pass over their heads; but they soon spring up, saying: "Shall we allow ourselves to be butchered? No! let us rather attack the enemy!" Lavater seizes a lance, and rushing into the foremost rank exclaims: "Soldiers, uphold the honour of God and of our lords, and behave like brave men!" Zwingle, silent and collected, like nature before the bursting of the tempest, was there also halberd in hand. "Master Ulric," said Bernard Sprungli, "speak to the people and encourage them." "Warriors!" said Zwingle, "fear nothing. If we are this day to be defeated, still our cause is good. Commend yourselves to God!"

The Zurichers quickly turn the artillery they were dragging to another quarter, and point it against the wood; but their bullets, instead of striking the enemy, only reach the top of the trees, and tear off a few branches that fall upon the skirmishers.[1216]

Rychmuth, the landamman of Schwytz, came up at a gallop to recall the volunteers; but seeing the battle begun, he ordered the whole army to advance. Immediately the five banners moved forward.


But already Jauch's skirmishers, rushing from among the trees, had fallen impetuously upon the Zurichers, charging with their long and pointed halberds. "Heretics! sacrilegists!" cried they, "we have you at last!"—"Man-sellers, idolaters, impious Papists!" replied the Zurichers, "is it really you?" At first a shower of stones fell from both parties and wounded several; immediately they come to close quarters.[455] The resistance of the Zurichers was terrible.[1217] Each struck with the sword or with the halberd: at last the soldiers of the Five Cantons were driven back in disorder. The Zurichers advanced, but in so doing lost the advantages of their position, and got entangled in the marsh. Some Roman-catholic historians pretend that this flight of their troops was a stratagem to draw the Zurichers into the snare.[1218]

In the mean time the army of the Five Cantons hasten through the wood. Burning with courage and with anger, they eagerly quicken their steps; from the midst of the beech-trees there resounded a confused and savage noise—a frightful murmur; the ground shook; one might have said that the forest was uttering a horrible roar, or that witches were holding their nocturnal revels.[1219] In vain do the bravest of the Zurichers offer an intrepid resistance: the Waldstettes have the advantage in every quarter. "They are surrounding us," cried some. "Our men are fleeing," said others. A man from the canton of Zug mingling with the Zurichers, and pretending to be of their party, exclaims: "Fly, fly, brave Zurichers, you are betrayed!" Thus everything is against Zurich. Even the hand of Him who is the disposer of battles, turns against this people. Thus was it also in times of old that God frequently chastised his own people of Israel by the Assyrian sword. A panic terror seizes upon the bravest, and the disorder spreads everywhere with frightful rapidity.


In the meanwhile the aged Schweizer had raised the great banner with a firm hand, and all the picked men of Zurich were drawn up around it; but soon their ranks were thinned. John Kammli, charged with the defence of the standard, having observed the small number of combatants that remained[456] upon the field of battle, said to the banneret: "Let us lower the banner, my lord, and save it, for our people are flying shamefully:"—"Warriors, remain firm," replied the aged banneret, whom no danger had ever shaken. The disorder augmented—the number of fugitives increased every minute; the old man stood fast, amazed and immoveable as an aged oak beaten by a frightful hurricane. He received unflinchingly the blows that fell upon him, and alone resisted the terrible storm. Kammli seized him by the arm: "My lord," said he again, "lower the banner, or else we shall lose it: there is no more glory to be reaped here!" The banneret, who was already mortally wounded, exclaimed: "Alas! must the city of Zurich be so punished!" Then, dragged off by Kammli, who held him by the arm, he retreated as far as the ditch. The weight of years, and the wounds with which he was covered, did not permit him to cross it. He fell in the mire at the bottom, still holding the glorious standard, whose folds dropped on the other bank.

The enemy ran up with loud shouts, being attracted by the colours of Zurich, as the bull by the gladiator's flag. Kammli seeing this, unhesitatingly leaps to the bottom of the ditch, and lays hold of the stiff and dying hands of his chief, in order to preserve the precious ensign, which they tightly grasped. But it is in vain; the hands of the aged Schweizer will not loose the standard. "My lord banneret!" cried this faithful servant, "it is no longer in your power to defend it." The hands of the banneret, already stiffened in death, still refuse; upon which Kammli violently tears away the sacred standard, leaps upon the other bank, and rushes with his treasure far from the steps of the enemy. The last Zurichers at this moment reach the ditch, they fall one after another upon the expiring banneret, and thus hasten his death.


Kammli, however, having received a wound from a gunshot, his march was retarded, and soon the Waldstettes surround him with their swords. The Zuricher, holding the banner in one hand, and his sword in the other, defends himself bravely. One of the Waldstettes catches hold of the[457] staff—another seizes the flag itself and tears it. Kammli with one blow of his sword cuts down the former, and striking around him, calls out: "To the rescue, brave Zurichers! save the honour and the banner of our lords." The assailants increase in number, and the warrior is about to fall, when Adam Næff of Wollenwyd rushes up sword in hand, and the head of the Waldstette who had torn the colours rolls upon the plain, and his blood gushes out upon the flag of Zurich. Dumysen, member of the Smaller Council, supports Næff with his halberd, and both deal such lusty blows, that they succeed in disengaging the standard-bearer. He, although dangerously wounded, springs forward, holding the blood-stained folds of the banner in one hand, which he carries off hastily, dragging the staff behind him. With fierce look and fiery eye, he thus passes sword in han