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Title: The Life of Philip Melanchthon

Author: Karl Friedrich Ledderhose

Translator: Gottlob Frederick Krotel

Release Date: May 19, 2012 [EBook #39734]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been retained from the original.
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Pages 56-60 were printed out of order as described in the "Notice" after page 2.  These pages have been put into the correct order in this eText.

[Pg i]











Translated from the German,










[Pg ii]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


By an oversight on the part of the pressman whose duty it is to revise the sheets on the press in my Printing Office, the following pages of this work (The Life of Melanchthon), are transposed, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60. This error makes the book appear at first sight to be incomplete, the reader, however, will find all the pages, as above, but transposed. The error was not discovered until the whole edition of the work was bound, and largely distributed, consequently too late to be corrected in any other way than by this notice.

C. SHERMAN, Printer,
for LINDSAY & BLAKISTON, Publishers.

Philadelphia, Nov. 30, 1854.

[Pg iii]


Luther occupies so great, unrivalled, and apostolical a position among the Reformers, that we should not feel surprised to see his life and labors presented to the evangelical community again and again. Although we are far from encouraging an idolatrous worship of the man, we believe we are acting in the spirit of the word of God, when we encourage men to follow his faith. But we should act very ungratefully if, on account of this Prince in Israel, we should lose sight of the other distinguished men of God in the days of the Reformation. And among these, Philip Melanchthon occupies the highest place. The age in which he lived called him the Teacher of the German people, because he exerted a powerful influence upon the scientific and Christian culture of Germany. And we too may give him the same name, for his writings continue to exert a great influence, and justly claim our consideration. To show that this is indeed true, that he is still calculated to be the teacher of the German people, especially[Pg iv] of the evangelical community, is the object of this Biography. As this volume was prepared for the general reader, all learned discussions were necessarily avoided. It does not enter into critical investigations, but faithfully appropriates known facts, in order to present them to the reader in an intelligible manner. A candid examination must decide how far the author has succeeded in accomplishing this object. It is the first attempt of the kind, for the Life of Melanchthon has not been written often; and when it was written, it was not treated in a popular manner.

It was therefore the principal aim of the author of the present volume to present a truthful picture of the faith and the life of the Reformer. The man who wrote the Augsburg Confession, and its Apology, Confessions which, after three hundred years, are still a stumbling-block to some, but also an encouragement and consolation to many; a man who, notwithstanding all his scientific attainments, in which he no doubt excelled the great majority in our own day, yet held fast to the fundamental principles of Christianity, to the manifestation of God in the Flesh, to the Redemption, to Justification by Faith, in life and in the hour of death,—undoubtedly deserves to be introduced from the past into the present, in order to preach salvation in Christ to the present generation.

If Melanchthon's godly walk and conversation should be instrumental in leading him who is a stranger to[Pg v] salvation in Christ, to seek this; if it should serve to comfort and strengthen others, then may that word of the Scriptures be remembered: "The memory of the just is blessed;" and may every one gratefully rejoice, with the Reformer, in that glorious promise: "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."

Ardently desiring that this volume may be useful and profitable unto salvation to very many, we suffer it to go forth upon its way.

St. G.     On the first Sunday in Advent, 1846.


[Pg vi]

[Pg vii]


Melanchthon has been called the most amiable, the purest, and most learned of the celebrated men of the sixteenth century. The distinguished Erasmus confesses, that he was a general favorite, that honest and candid men were fond of him, and even his adversaries cannot hate him. And he has succeeded in securing the affections of posterity, and, more than any other one of the valiant champions of the Reformation, is the general favorite of all evangelical Christians, and still seems to stand as the gentle mediator between the two great divisions of the Protestant Church formed at that time, claimed and loved by both.

Yet, notwithstanding all this, we venture to say, that a very large proportion of Protestant readers know no more of the life of this lovely man of God, than that which is interwoven with the life of Luther. His life has not been written for the people even by his own countrymen, and our author presents us with the first attempt of this kind. In our own language we have but one Life of Melanchthon, the one written by Dr. Cox, the first American edition of which, from the second London edition, is now lying before us, bearing the date 1835. Admirable as this work has been acknowledged[Pg viii] to be, we believe the work of Ledderhose to be still more calculated for general reading. Our author assures us that it was "his principal aim to present a truthful picture of the faith and the life of the Reformer;" and it is this constant exhibition of his inner life, even in his own words, which is calculated to edify as well as instruct. Besides this, many incidents in his own life, and interesting events and questions after the death of Luther, omitted or briefly mentioned in Dr. Cox's work, will be found here. A number of facts, mentioned by Cox and others, have been added by the translator, and will be found in the notes scattered through the volume. The style is very simple and popular, and this simplicity and frequent quaintness of expression, especially in the numerous extracts from letters and declarations of faith, rendered the work of translation more difficult, especially as it seemed necessary and desirable to retain the homeliness of the German as much as possible.

Believing that this portraiture of the life of Melanchthon cannot offend the feelings of any Protestant Christian, but that it is calculated to afford instruction and edification to the old and young, the translator humbly trusts, that it may not only make Lutherans, but many other evangelical Christians, better acquainted with the "faith and life" of the faithful friend of Luther, and distinguished author of the Augsburg Confession.

G. F. K.

Lancaster, November, 1854.

[Pg ix]


His Youth13
The University 21
His Debut in Wittenberg, and at the Leipzig Disputation29
Building and Fighting35
Melanchthon without Luther41
Labors, Recreation, and Trouble51
The War of the Peasants59
His Labors for the Church and Schools67
The Diet of Spire75
The Conference at Marburg81
The Diet of Augsburg89
The Position of the Evangelical Party after the Diet of Augsburg117
The Kings of France and England, and Melanchthon123
The Wittenberg Form of Concord131
Recreation and Trouble139
The Convention at Smalkald147
Conflicts in the Evangelical Camp153
The Assembly of the Princes at Frankfort, and the Victories of the Reformation         159
Help in a Dangerous Illness167
Worms and Ratisbon177
Progress of the Reformation194
The School of Tribulation200
Worms and Ratisbon again 205
Luther Dies, and Melanchthon Mourns211
War and the Misery of War221
Restoration of the University of Wittenberg229
The Diet of Augsburg and its Interim236
How the Interim fared in the Electorate of Saxony244
Disputes about the Leipzig Interim254
The Conflict with Osiander263
The Changed Attitude of the Elector Maurice270
Doctrinal Controversies, and Attempts to bring about a Union278
The Religious Conference at Worms297
The Last Years of his Life, real Years of Sorrow307
His Domestic Life322
Something more of Melanchthon's Merits335
He Dies339

[Pg 13]

Life of Melanchthon.



In a hilly part of the Kraichgau lies the city of Bretten. In former times it belonged to the Electors of the Palatinate, and in the year 1504 defended itself bravely against Duke Ulrich of Würtemberg, and also manifested a brave loyalty to its hereditary sovereign in the war of the peasants. It is now included in the Grand-Duchy of Baden. It has acquired an imperishable name, because a great man, Philip Melanchthon, was born in it. We will begin by hearing what an old account relates of his ancestors and parents, his birth and youth.

"In the days of the Count Palatine Philip, Elector on the Rhine, there lived in Heidelberg, before the mountain, a worthy, pious man, named Claus Schwartzerd. With Elizabeth, his wife, he begat two sons, Hans and George, and from their youth up trained them in the fear of God, and the practice of every virtue. The Count Palatine Philip took so great a liking to George, who was a very active and ingenious lad, and discharged every duty most diligently, that he took him to Court, and permitted him to examine a number of professions, in order by this means[Pg 14] to satisfy himself what his inclinations were, and what might be made of him. When the boy, therefore, took delight in armor, the Elector placed him in charge of a master in Amberg. He learned the trade so rapidly that every one was astonished, and the journeymen became so hostile to him, that one of them on a certain occasion burned him with hot lead in so dangerous a manner that his life was despaired of, and he was only saved by Divine mercy, and very faithful nursing." By order of the Elector he was then sent to an armorer in Nuremberg. Here also he made rapid advances. "For the boy was so ingenious, that, as we commonly say, his hands could imitate whatever his eyes saw. He could forge as neatly as if it had been done with a file." In a few years he was able to make everything needful for the tournament. The Elector again took him to Court, and appointed him an armorer or armor-bearer. He became so celebrated, that even foreign potentates courted him. Even the German Emperor Maximilian had his armor made by him. For a very skilful suit of armor, the Emperor presented him with a family coat of arms, representing a lion sitting upon a shield and helmet, holding tongs and a hammer in his paws. George's son, our Philip, never made use of this coat of arms, his own representing the serpent upon the cross, alluding to the well-known typical event in the wilderness. When George was thirty years old, the Elector thought of having him married. A well-known citizen of Bretten, Hans Reuter, "a very fine, sensible man, who had even studied," enjoying great respect, having served as Mayor of the place for several years, had a daughter called Barbara. "She was a virtuous and well-bred maiden. By the providence of Almighty God, and the negotiations of the Elector, she was promised to him in[Pg 15] marriage, and they were married in Spire, in the presence of many knights, who appeared to do honor to his espousals." The ancient account goes on to say: "The married couple continued to love and esteem each other, for the said George Schwartzerd was a just, pious, God-fearing man, serving God earnestly, praying diligently, and observing his hours of prayer as strictly as any priest, permitting nothing to hinder him from the discharge of this duty, so that he would arise in the night, fall upon his knees, and pray with earnestness. No one ever heard him utter a profane word, or saw him intoxicated, or even heard of anything of the kind of him to the day of his death." He did not concern himself especially with laying up this world's goods, and he was never seen in the courts to carry on lawsuits. His wife, besides her piety, and domestic, frugal spirit, exercised benevolence towards the poor and afflicted. The familiar saying was often upon her lips: "Alms do not impoverish," and the lines also—

Whoever wishes to consume more
Than his plough can support,
Will at last come to ruin,
And die upon the gallows.

After living childless for four years, a son was born to them on the 16th of February, 1497, on the Thursday after the first Sunday in Lent, who, in baptism, received the name of Philip. "Thus does God bless this pious and godly man with the gift of such a child, which afterwards became a blessing to the whole land, yea, many lands, and the whole of Christendom, and will remain so to the end of the world." Their marriage was further blessed by the birth of another son and three daughters.

Philip, and his brother George, four years younger than himself, attended the town-school of Bretten, to acquire[Pg 16] the rudiments of human learning. But because a malignant disease was raging at that time, and their teacher himself was confined with it, their careful grandfather Reuter removed the boys from school, fearing lest they too might be attacked, and provided a private tutor for them in his own house. His name was John Unger. A little grandson, John Reuter, enjoyed these instructions together with the two boys. Unger was an excellent teacher, who laboured to give his pupils a thorough education. He took especial pains in his Latin instructions. Melanchthon, who was "a master in that language," in after years could not sufficiently praise the teacher of his youth. He says of him: "He loved me as a son, and I loved him as a father." Unger was afterwards made court chaplain of the Margrave Philip of Baden, and continued to preach the gospel faithfully in Pforzheim to a very advanced age. "When their grandfather observed the diligence of the boys, he bought them a Missal, in order that they might become familiar with the hymns of the church, whilst pursuing their other studies; and he required of them to take their places in the choir on all holy days. About this time the great Bachanti (so called roving scholars) roved through the country. When one of these came to Bretten, his grandfather would set Philip to dispute with him. It was a rare thing to find one who was a match for him. This pleased the old man, and he took special delight in these contests. The boy too became bolder, and more fond of study. And his grandfather took care to provide books and other things, so that the boy might not be hindered."

The extraordinary gifts of little Philip manifested themselves at an early period. He was possessed of a quick perception, a retentive memory, and great acuteness. He[Pg 17] was continually engaged in asking questions during school hours, and afterwards, he would seek out his friends, in order to converse more about what he had learned. It was impossible not to love the boy, for he was peculiarly amiable and modest. His talkativeness found a great obstacle in his stammering tongue, which, however, he endeavoured to surmount. It is said of him, that in early life he could be very easily irritated; but he would sometimes apply to himself the saying: "He cuts and stabs, and yet hurts nobody."

His grandfather was particularly attached to Philip, and it is to be regretted that the worthy man was so soon to leave the land of his pilgrimage, which happened in the year 1507. As Philip's father was frequently taken away from home by his many engagements, he was obliged to intrust the education of his children to his wife and her father. We are told "he enjoined it upon his father-in-law, Hans Reuter, to look to his children, so that they might be sent to school regularly, and might learn something profitable." In his travels he came to Manheim, in Neuburg, in 1504. His sovereign had summoned him thither, in order that he might be nearer him in preparing and forwarding ordnance in the Bavarian war. Here, however, he found an incurable disease. The wells from which he drank were poisoned. As the life of this man was of great value to the prince, he left no efforts untried to save him, but all proved in vain. It is true he lived for four years after this, but in a very helpless condition. About the very time when grandfather Reuter died, Schwartzerd was also lying upon his death-bed. Three days before his death, he expressed himself to the following effect: "These three things I will also leave my little children when I die—that they are in the bosom of the[Pg 18] true Christian Church, that they are one in Him, and united among each other, and heirs of eternal life." When he felt the approach of death, he called for Philip, then ten years old, commended him to God, and exhorted him to fear God. Dying, he said, "I have experienced many changes in the world, but greater ones are coming. My prayer is, that God may rule you in them. I counsel thee, my son, to fear God, and live honestly." These words were treasured in the boy's memory as long as he lived. In order that he might not behold the death of his father, he was sent to Spire. He was naturally very tender-hearted, and the communication of his father's illness deeply moved him. He says: "Like all children, I had never yet thought of sickness and death, nor had I ever seen a sick person or a corpse. When my mother, therefore, told me,—'Your father is ill,' I was obliged to ask what that imported. But she had scarcely given me an idea of it, when I was overwhelmed with grief." On the 27th of October, of the same year in which his grandfather Reuter died, his father also finished his course, in the forty-ninth year of his age. But a very important outward change for the boy was brought about by these two deaths. The three boys, who had hitherto enjoyed Unger's instructions, were removed, in the autumn of this year, to the Latin school in the city of Pforzheim, in Baden. Their mother had a relative, named Elizabeth, a sister of the well-known distinguished scholar Reuchlin,[1] residing in Pforzheim. The boys lodged in her house.

The able Rector, George Simler, and John Hildenbrand,[Pg 19] were their teachers. The Latin language was then the principal study, and the great object to be reached was, that the pupils should be able to speak it. The Greek language was still a very rare accomplishment. Simler, who had some knowledge of it, only introduced it to the notice of his ablest pupils. It was Philip Schwartzerd's good fortune to be one of this number, and he used the opportunity with great profit to himself. Of Simler, he somewhere says: "He first unlocked the meaning of the Greek and Latin Poets to me, and introduced me to a purer philosophy." He met with this teacher again in the University at Tübingen. In Pforzheim he was fortunate enough to become better acquainted with the celebrated John Reuchlin, who then resided in Würtemberg, as President of the Swabian Court of the Confederates. Reuchlin took great delight in the talented boy, gave him his paternal regard, called him his son, and presented him with beautiful and useful books. On a certain occasion he also gave him his chestnut-colored Doctor's hat, and placed it on the boy's head. "All this greatly pleased Philip, and he so advanced in his studies, that he was soon promoted to a place among the largest and oldest pupils." Reuchlin also gave young Schwartzerd the name of Melanchthon,[2] which is the Greek word for his own name, (black earth). It was then a very general custom to change German names into Greek. After the year 1531, he did not write his name Melanchthon, but Melanthon, most likely because this is more easily pronounced.[Pg 20]

But it is time to notice the internal development of the boy. As the parents lived in the fear of God, this was also aimed at in the education of their children. Philip soon exhibited a great love for the public services of the house of God. He was especially delighted with the histories of the holy men of the Christian Church. Of these he heard much, both in the church and at home. Had the Gospel been opened to him at that time, he would doubtless have received it joyfully. However, he admits the use of the Legends of the saints in the words: "It was a part of our domestic discipline rather to employ the boys with these matters, than to permit them to run about the streets, or engage in wild noise." As a matter of course, such food, as the Church then profferred, could not satisfy an inquiring mind like that of Philip. The law, as it was then exclusively employed by the Catholic Church, was barely able to plow up the soil of the heart. But when it is yet considered, in addition to this, that the laws of God occupied the background behind the frequently ridiculous laws of the Church, it is matter for surprise that so many spiritual wants were yet felt, as we find to be the case with young Melanchthon. But his mind at this time was still principally directed to the acquisition of learning, of which he had already gathered an unusually large store in Pforzheim, by the instructions of Simler, and the encouragement of the deeply-learned Reuchlin.

[Pg 21]



When he had spent two years in the town-school of Pforzheim, he had improved himself so much that he wrote down his own thoughts, both in the Latin and Greek languages, with facility. He already composed neat verses in these strange languages. Thus it came to pass, that, although he was but thirteen years old, he could already enter the University of Heidelberg. His acquirements were of a superior character. He was received as a student on the 13th of October, 1509. In Heidelberg it was his good fortune to become an inmate of the house of a distinguished scholar, Dr. Pallas Spengel. Although Pallas held fast to the established order of things in religious matters, he was not opposed to anything better. Melanchthon rejoiced in after life that he had enjoyed the intercourse of this aged, and, in his own way, pious professor. He was instructed in the elements of astronomy by Dr. Cæsarius, and praised him in the following words: "I acknowledge that I owe particular esteem and gratitude to him as my teacher." But he principally devoted himself to the ancient languages, and that with such zeal, that his knowledge of them increased more and more, and the learned boy became generally known in Heidelberg. On a certain occasion the teacher had proposed a very difficult question, and asked, "Where will I find a Grecian?" The students cried out with one voice: "Melanchthon! Melanchthon!"[Pg 22] He was generally called "the Grecian."[3] At another time a teacher was suddenly seized with illness during the hour of instruction. He did not stop the lecture, however, but without delay said: "Philip, let your fellow-students proceed, and do you occupy my place." His quiet and decorous conduct procured him the distinction of instructing the sons of the Count Louis of Lowenstein. The Counts became so attached to him, that they maintained a friendly correspondence with him in after years. On the 10th of June, 1511, he was already honoured with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Although he spent many happy hours in Heidelberg, in the society of learned men and talented youths, yet did the place no longer satisfy him.

This was partly owing to the fact, that the University did not number such men among its instructors, under whom he could make any further great progress, and partly also to the climate of Heidelberg, which did not agree with him. He was annually troubled with fever in the Spring, which enfeebled him very much, so that his anxious mother strongly wished for a change of residence. To this was added, that he was seeking the degree following the Baccalaureate, that of Master of Arts. His instructors, however, considered themselves bound to deny this request, "because he was too young, and of too childish an appearance." This occasioned great pain to the young man, and made his departure still more desirable. In after life, it is true, he formed a correct judgment of the refusal of his youthful request: "It is often very good for[Pg 23] young persons if their wishes are not all gratified. This I experienced at Heidelberg."

In the autumn of the year 1512 we find Melanchthon upon the road to the University of Tübingen. It had not long before been founded by Duke Everard with the beard, a man who was ever anxious for the welfare of his country.

Tübingen had at that time already a good reputation. That which Melanchthon considered the most important, employed his labors also in this nursery of science. The Greeks and Romans were his favorites, yet not in a one-sided manner; for he was also attracted by mathematics and astronomy, to which he was encouraged by the distinguished Professor Stöffler. When he was therefore engaged in reading the Greek writer Hesiod, with his friend Hausschein, who became so well known and useful in the Reformation under the name of Oecolampadius, he could obtain an explanation of those passages which referred to astronomy, from Stöffler alone. He also made himself acquainted with jurisprudence and medicine. He gathered a mass of information, which in a young man of his age can really be called extraordinary. But divinity attracted him above all other things. This did not flow from the unrefreshing spirit which then pervaded this science. The old beaten track of the middle ages was still pursued in all the universities. Altogether neglecting the Bible, the only fountain of true Christianity, men were merely concerned with the teachings of the Church. These were empty, fruitless subtleties, in which a sincerely seeking soul could find no nourishment. He heard Lempus, the most distinguished Professor in this field, who, when explaining transubstantiation to his hearers, could write it down with chalk upon the board, to make it more intelligible.[Pg 24] Melanchthon read the writings of William Occam, an old scholastic, with great zeal. But the curious structure erected by the Catholic church by its system of doctrine could not attract him any longer, when he had become the owner of a Bible. His beloved cousin Reuchlin had presented him with one. He loved the holy volume more than every thing else, as he became better acquainted with its precious contents. As Reuchlin diligently read the Holy Book, and took it with him upon his journeys, so now did Melanchthon. He carried it with him in his bosom, and could not part with it; "he read it carefully day and night." Here he found explanations, which no professor in Tübingen, and no priest in the church were able to give him. How disgusted he must have been, to hear priests upon the pulpits discourse upon a passage of the Greek Philosopher Aristotle, or to listen to another who was laboring to prove, that the wooden shoe of the Franciscans was made of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil in Paradise! Whenever therefore he went to church, he carried his Bible with him. During the progress of the ceremonies, and while the people were reading in the prescribed prayer-books, he was wrapt up in the reading of his Bible. Some evil-disposed persons took offence at this, and endeavored to render him suspected.

It is impossible to show in Melanchthon's case, as it can be done in that of Luther, and other great men of Christ's church, how he arrived at the knowledge of the Truth, and an experience of the Grace of God. This saving change in him seems to have been brought about gradually. Beyond doubt it was closely connected with the reading and deeper searching of the Holy Scriptures. His acquaintance with Reuchlin was also propitious. Melanchthon frequently journeyed to the not far distant city of[Pg 25] Stuttgart, where Reuchlin then resided. The latter also came to Tübingen, and did not think it beneath him to occupy the room and eat the fare of his youthful friend. Here they conversed much of the corrupt condition of the church. But the time was near when mere conversation should be changed to open testimony.

At that time great darkness reigned in Cologne. The Theologians, as well as the Dominican Monks of that place, had demanded that all Jewish writings should be burned. When the Emperor called upon Reuchlin for his opinion in this matter, he defended most of these writings. This enraged the people of Cologne, who were led by the baptized Jew Pfefferkorn and the inquisitor Hochstraten. They appealed to the Pope. It gave Reuchlin much trouble, and caused much correspondence to and fro. Melanchthon also became involved in the matter, together with a large number of the most distinguished men, who entered the lists in Reuchlin's defence, and were obliged to bear the name of contempt, Reuchlinists. We here already meet the well-known knight, Ulrich von Hutten, who wielded a sharp pen, as well as the brave and noble Francis von Sickingen with the knightly sword.

Before this time, January 25, 1514, consequently in the 17th year of his life, Melanchthon, as the first among eleven candidates, received the degree of Master of Arts, and the privilege of delivering lectures. He lectured principally on Virgil, Terence, Cicero and Livy, and at once exhibited his great talents as a teacher. The students listened to him with pleasure, and soon many distinguished young men gathered around him. But he not only gained applause in his chair in the University; he also began to appear as an author. As early as the year 1516, Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the most learned men of that[Pg 26] time, gave him the warmest eulogium in the words: "My God, what promising hopes does Philip Melanchthon give us, who, yet a youth, yes almost a boy, deserves equal esteem for his knowledge of both languages! What sagacity in argument, what purity of expression, what a rare and comprehensive knowledge, what extensive reading, what a delicacy and elegance of mind does he not display!"[4]

A man of such mind and acquirements, and who, besides all this, bore a deeper knowledge within, could no longer remain in his confined position in Tübingen. The Lord of the Church had selected a different theatre for his labors and struggles. When, by the advice of Reuchlin, he had declined a call to the bigoted University of Ingolstadt, another extensive and richly blessed field of labor was thrown open to him. The Elector Frederick of Saxony, who has very properly been called the Wise, in the spring of the year 1518, wrote to Reuchlin from Augsburg, where he was attending the Diet, requesting him to propose to him a teacher of the Greek, and one of the Hebrew language, for his University at Wittenberg. Wittenberg had already acquired a great reputation, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe, on account of the mighty and bold step which an Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther, had taken about half a year before. Who has not heard of the 95 Theses, nailed by that monk[Pg 27] on the church door at Wittenberg, on the 31st of October, 1517, against the doctrine of indulgences, and other matters connected with it, and which circulated so rapidly, that it seemed almost, in the language of a contemporary, as if the angels had served as footposts? All better disposed minds, to which class Reuchlin also belonged, joyfully welcomed the appearance of the intrepid monk of Wittenberg. When, therefore, the request of the Elector, to seek out two professors, was made to Reuchlin, he could not propose a more able and suitable man to Frederick the Wise than his own relative Melanchthon. He had received the youthful master's permission to do this. The Elector was highly pleased, especially as Tübingen had already supplied him with several able men. Testimony concerning Melanchthon, such as that given by Reuchlin, could not but produce the most favorable impression. He says: "Among the Germans I know of no one who excels him, except Erasmus of Rotterdam, and he is an Hollander."

As Duke Ulrich felt the loss he was about to sustain, he endeavored to retain him. An old narrative gives us the following account: "In the meantime, Duke Ulrich, of Würtemberg, who wished to keep Philip in his own land, sent Conrad von Sickingen, who was then his servant, to master Philip's mother, to inform her, that if her son wished to enter the priesthood, he could apply to his Grace. Then he would also provide him with a good benefice, on account of his sainted father's faithful services. However, Philip had no inclination to become a priest, but intended to comply with the invitation of the Elector of Saxony, and to serve his Grace the Elector and the University, which also eventually came to pass."

Reuchlin dismissed his young friend in a parental manner[Pg 28] with these beautiful words: "'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.' Gen. xii. 1, 2. This the Spirit tells me, and this hope do I entertain of thee, my Philip, my work and my comfort! Go, then, with a cheerful and happy courage!" Thus blessed and consecrated by his old friend, whom he was not to behold again in this world, he bid adieu to him and all his friends. He also paid a parting visit to the beloved ones in Bretten. His teacher, Simler, who was professor of the Greek language in Tübingen, remarked on the day of Melanchthon's departure: "The entire city ought to mourn the departure of this Melanchthon, and all those now residing in Tübingen have not even advanced far enough in their studies fully to appreciate how much they had lost by the removal of this great man." In August, Melanchthon is on his way. He made some valuable acquaintances. In Augsburg he was admitted to an audience with the Elector, and became acquainted with his chaplain and secretary, Spalatin, "and they remained together until the close of the Diet." The celebrated statesman, Pirkheimer, in Nuremberg, a patron of Melanchthon, also received a visit from the young professor. On the 20th of August he reached Leipzig. Here the University honored him with an entertainment. He here declined a call to Ingolstadt, as well as one from Leipzig. He remained true to his promise. On the 25th of August, 1518, he arrived in his new field of labor, Wittenberg, to the joy of all, and his reception was a festive one.

[Pg 29]



Four days after his arrival, the 22 years old professor delivered the Introductory to his Lectures. The lecture-room was entirely filled. His exterior did not promise much. A small, insignificant form, with a timid gait, entered the desk, but the lofty brow, and his large blue eyes, indicated the mighty mind which tabernacled in this unseemly and frail vessel. But when he commenced his Latin address, which treated of the improvement of studies, unfolding the deepest thoughts in the most chaste language, and resting so entirely upon the word of God, all were filled with joy.

Luther, who was also present, was full of enthusiasm; for he felt at once how much the University and the good cause of the Reformation had gained in the possession of a man so learned, and with so deep an insight into truth. He therefore, full of joy, wrote to his beloved friend Spalatin as early as August 31: "Philip delivered a very learned and chaste address on the fourth day after his arrival, and that too with such applause and admiration on every side, that you need not trouble yourself further in commending him to us. We must look away from his exterior appearance; we rejoice in his gifts, at the same time that we are amazed at them; and we heartily thank our gracious prince, as well as your own assistance. It is now especially important that you recommend him most[Pg 30] earnestly to our prince. I by no means desire a different teacher of Greek, as long as he remains with us. There is but one thing I fear, namely, that his delicate constitution will not be able to endure the manner of life in this region. I also learn that he has been called with too small a salary, so that the Leipzigers already boast and hope that they shall soon be able to draw him away from us; for they already courted him before he came to us. I, and many others with me, suspect that Dr. Pfeffinger has, according to his usual custom, been endeavoring to save the Elector's purse too much in this matter. Therefore, my dear Spalatin, to speak freely, that is, with my best friend: I pray you, look to it, that you do not despise his person and age. This man is deserving of all honor; for I do not wish us and the University to do so uncourteous a thing, and give envious persons occasion to speak evil of us." Two days after this, he again commends him to Spalatin most earnestly: "I would most heartily commend to you Philip, the great Grecian, the thorough scholar, and most amiable man. His lecture-room is crowded with hearers. It is owing to him, principally, that all theologians, the first, middle, and lowest class, are studying Greek." And thus Luther also expressed himself towards other friends. But the more they learned to know each other, so much the more also did their mutual esteem and affection increase. When Melanchthon, at a certain time, wrote to his paternal friend Reuchlin, and requested Luther to add a letter also, he complied with great cheerfulness; for Reuchlin was not only one of the first champions against Papal darkness, but it was also owing to him that Melanchthon adorned Wittenberg. In his letter he called Melanchthon a wonderful man, "in whom everything is almost supernatural; and yet he is the friend and confidant[Pg 31] of my heart." But Reuchlin could not comprehend the rapid progress of the Reformation any more than Erasmus, and latterly had become cooler towards Melanchthon, no doubt because he had taken a too zealous and active part in the work of the reformation of the church.

As Luther's whole heart was soon devoted to Melanchthon, so also did the young professor admire the chosen instrument of God. He soon discovered that a turning point had been reached in the history of the Christian church, and that Luther, partly because of his humility, and also his powerful apostolical faith, was the man chosen by the Head of the Church to bring about this blessed revolution. But an opportunity should soon be afforded the ingenious youth to step upon the battle-field of the Reformation himself, and to fight the good fight at Luther's side. The cause of the Gospel, proclaimed trumpet-tongued in Wittenberg, had awakened a mighty sympathy. They soon became convinced in Rome that this was not an ordinary dispute among Monks, whether the cowls should be peaked or round, and matters like these. Although the frivolous Medicean, Pope Leo X., regarded the matter very lightly in the beginning, its progress soon taught him to take a different view. Writings, conceived in the true Roman spirit, and dipped in blood, were sent forth. But all was unavailing. Despotic commands, such as had been hurled against Luther in Augsburg by the proud Cajetan, were powerless. At first the lion in the Vatican roared, then he fawned. All knew the Papal nuncio Miltiz, who could speak sweetly, and if this would not suffice, could even shed tears. An agreement was entered into between him and Luther, who in the beginning still entertained a high esteem for the Pope's supremacy, in Altenburg, in the year 1519, in which he promised silence,[Pg 32] provided his opponents would remain silent also. But even in the midst of these negotiations, a zealous Romanist brought about an unexpected outbreak of the fire that slumbered beneath the ashes. This was the well-known Dr. John Eck, Chancellor of the University of Ingolstadt, a man ever inclined to noise and disputes. He had already attacked Professor Andrew Carlstadt, in Wittenberg, in the year 1516. At a later period he challenged him to a public discussion, although he had his eye fixed upon Luther more than him. As the choice of the place and the time of the discussion were left to Dr. Eck, he fixed upon Leipzig. It was to be opened on the 27th of June, 1519.

Eck arrived in Leipzig betimes, where he was delighted at being seen and admired. On the 24th of June the Wittenbergers also arrived. Many other learned men and students were present, besides the two champions, Carlstadt and Luther. Philip Melanchthon rode at Luther's side in a carriage. A crowd of persons, abbots, counts, knights, the learned and unlearned, such as Leipzig had not seen for a long time, were gathered together. It does not belong to our purpose to describe at length the history of the discussion at Leipzig. It occupied three weeks. First of all, Eck disputed with Carlstadt about Free-will, then with Luther about the Pope's supremacy, purgatory, indulgences, penance, absolution, and satisfaction. The contest often became very hot. Even if Carlstadt did not defend his good cause with the greatest skill, Eck found his match in Luther, who placed himself in the citadel of the word of God, and went forth unconquered from the battle. However, Melanchthon did not merely sit by as an idle hearer. It is said that he now and then mingled in the contest, and supported his two friends with a few observations. Upon this, Eck addressed him in a harsh[Pg 33] tone: "Be silent, Philip; mind your own business, and do not disturb me!"

Melanchthon, who had inwardly taken a lively interest in the discussion, left Leipzig, together with his Wittenberg friends, richly blessed and strengthened for his whole life.[5] But he was now to enter into a dispute with Eck himself. For he had written a letter to his beloved friend Oecolampadius, who regarded the bold stand of Luther and his friends with approbation, in which he related the events of the disputation, and exposed several weak points in Eck's arguments. But, although he did this, he praised Eck's "excellent natural gifts." Of course it can be easily seen where Melanchthon's heart was. He thus spoke of Luther in this letter: "I must admire the clear head, learning, and eloquence, and heartily love the sincere and truly Christian heart of Luther, whom I have known intimately for a long time." This letter was printed, and was seen by Eck, who felt himself so much aggrieved by it, that he printed a very rude reply as early as the 25th of July, in Leipzig. He treats the teacher of languages—Philippus—"who understands Greek and Latin so well," in a most contemptuous manner, as if he had assumed the right of pronouncing judgment in a matter which he did not understand, and endeavors to refute Melanchthon's letter by sixteen brief remarks. At one time he calls him "the bold little man," then again "the Wittenbergian teacher of languages, who fared like the shoemaker who wanted to[Pg 34] know more than his last," and then again "the literalist," and "little language man." Once he addresses him in the words: "Thou dusty schoolmaster!" The whole letter is conceived in this spirit: but he was mistaken in Melanchthon. In the month of August he sent forth from "the celebrated Saxon city Wittenberg," a defence against John Eck, in which he does not use similar language. He declares in this "that he has been driven to this, more by a holy anxiety and zeal for the Holy Scriptures than by any enmity." He declares, in the most decided manner, "that it is ungodly to wrest the Scriptures according to human will and inclinations." He now refutes Eck's principal objections in the clearest manner, and advises him "to suffer the cause to strive rather than abusive language." "We owe this," he says, "to love, which, as truly as I hope to have a merciful God, I from my heart do not wish to grieve or offend."

Luther was much displeased with Eck's conduct. He expresses this in a letter to Spalatin, dated August 15th: "I again come to speak of Philip, whom no Eck can bring me to hate, and whose testimony in my favour I always esteem higher than anything else. The judgment and opinion of this single man is of more value to me than that of many thousand worthless Ecks, and I would not be ashamed, although I am a Master of Arts, of Philosophy, and Theology, and am adorned almost with all the titles of Eck, to leave my own opinion, if this Grammarian could not agree with it. I have often done this, and do it still, because of the divine gift which God has deposited in this frail vessel (although it seems contemptible to Eck,) with a bountiful blessing. Philip I do not praise, he is a creature of God, and nothing."

But Eck did not consider it advisable to contend further[Pg 35] with the champions of Wittenberg, who were also supported by other worthy men. He was silent, and as he perhaps thought that other weapons were needful in such a case, perhaps like those employed against Huss and Jerome a hundred years before, he journeyed to Rome, and sought shelter beneath the thunders of excommunication from the Papal Chair.



It has happened sometimes in the Church of Christ, that the kingdom of God has been built up, whilst the builders were obliged to carry the sword against the enemies in one hand. This was the case at Wittenberg at that time. By Luther's side we find Melanchthon engaged in this double labor. We have already heard with what joy his introductory lecture was listened to. He continued to gain more applause from day to day. Students from all parts of Germany, yea of Europe, were found in his lecture-room. In the year 1520, Spalatin saw about 600 students, whereas the whole number of students had formerly not exceeded 200. Luther's European reputation, of course, also contributed much towards the prosperity of the University. Heerbrand, in his oration to his memory, relates that Melanchthon had as many as 2000 pupils and hearers, among whom were princes, counts, barons, and other noblemen.[Pg 36] Whilst Reuchlin and Erasmus labored more by their writings, Melanchthon attracted both by his lectures and his solid writings. To this was added, that, whilst Reuchlin and Erasmus from day to day grew cooler towards the great movement proceeding from Wittenberg, Melanchthon attached himself to it in the most decided manner, and powerfully aided it by his mind, acquirements, and great name. He, therefore, did not only lecture on the Greek poet Homer, and other writers of antiquity, but also treated the writings of the New Testament. His industry was extraordinary. In addition to the regular labors of his station, he for a time also acted as professor of the Hebrew. For this purpose, however, it was necessary that he should first of all make himself thoroughly acquainted with this language. Luther wrote to Spalatin, January, 1519: "Our Philip is now busy with the Hebrew; the faithfulness and industry of the man are too great, so that he hardly permits himself to enjoy any leisure." He could generally be found busily engaged in his study at two o'clock in the morning. The amount of labor accomplished by him in a short time is almost incredible. But to his well-trained mind, his quick perception, and his unwearied industry, was added the blessing of God, which indeed was most needful, and which he sought with all his heart. When the Elector heard of his extraordinary industry, he feared lest the worthy professor might ruin his health, and himself wrote to him that he should take care of himself. He says in this letter: "We must make provision for the body, and if you look upon the other words of Paul as true, regard this in the same way, and believe that we ought to obey it." Melanchthon was particularly engaged with the epistles of Paul. With unusual clearness he comprehended the deeply evangelical[Pg 37] truths which this Apostle of Justification by Faith had been permitted to see and express so clearly.

Luther was not ashamed to appear among the hearers of the youthful professor, when he explained the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians. Yea, he even considered it worth while to communicate these lessons of the lecture-room to the great public of Christendom. As Melanchthon's modesty induced him to retain such productions in his desk, Luther secretly published his explanations of the Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians, and prefixed an introduction, addressed to Melanchthon, in which he jocosely remarks: "It is I who publish your writings and expositions. I send you to yourself. If you are not pleased with yourself, well and good; let it suffice that we are pleased with you. If I have transgressed in this matter, it is your own fault. Why did you not publish yourself, for which I so often entreated, prayed, and commanded you? Let this be my excuse, that I shall be called, and will be, your thief, whether you are angry or whether you laugh." Further on he says: "But to those whom you so fear that they will be displeased and dissatisfied with it, I will say: 'Dear Sirs, do better yourselves.' I proclaim it publicly before the world, that no one has approached nearer to, and hit upon Paul's meaning, better than yourself."

Melanchthon now published a series of volumes upon books of Scripture. He saw very well that the fountain of divine truth and wisdom, which had been obstructed so long, must again begin to flow. And he contributed an honest share towards the diffusion of Scripture truth. His books and minor publications on the books of the Bible were greatly applauded, and met with a rapid sale, so that repeated editions were called for. And even yet they[Pg 38] deserve not only to be read, but studied by all who devote themselves to the discovery of truth. When Luther, at a later period, prefaced and recommended Melanchthon's exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians, to which he had given great attention, he speaks thus of himself and Melanchthon: "I have been born to war and fight with factions and devils, therefore my books are stormy and warlike. I must root out the stumps and stocks, cut away the thorns and hedges, fill up the ditches, and am the rough forester, to break a path, and make things ready. But master Philip walks gently and silently, tills and plants, sows and waters with pleasure, as God has gifted him richly." Thus did Melanchthon write and teach, and mightily build up the kingdom of God. About this time he published a work, which is doubtless not only one of the best of his productions, but also inclined many hearts towards the Reformation.

It is the work Loci Communes, the principal articles of Christian doctrine, as they were afterwards called. We have already heard that Melanchthon devoted himself especially to the writings of Paul. He gathered together all the principal truths of this apostle, and presented them to his hearers. These were so highly pleased with the production, that they had it published. As Melanchthon, however, discovered many imperfections in it, he published it himself in 1521, corrected and enlarged. This volume, which may be called the first system of religion in the evangelical church, was everywhere greeted in the most friendly manner. Luther was quite delighted with it, and once said of it, that it was not only worthy of immortality, but even to be admitted into the canon of Scripture. In his table-talk he expressed the following opinion of it: "Whoever wishes to become a theologian now,[Pg 39] enjoys great advantages; for first of all, he has the Bible, which is so clear, that he can read it without difficulty. Then let him read in addition the Loci Communes Philippi; let him read them diligently and well, that he may impress them upon his mind. If he has these two things, he is a theologian, from whom neither the devil nor heretics shall be able to take away anything. To him the whole field of theology lies open, so that he is able to read anything he pleases after that with edification."

Melanchthon issued improved editions of the work from time to time. Seldom has a book met with so extensive a demand. We can form an estimate of its value from this fact alone. But it was also totally different from the old trash which Melanchthon had become acquainted with in Tübingen. It followed the pure dictates of the Bible, and was thoroughly practical. Here the doctrines of sin, of the law and the Gospel, of Justification, of Faith and Good Works, were developed in a convincing manner, as they had been brought to light after a long midnight, by Luther himself. With this work he stood entirely upon the Bible, and on this account it was so refreshing to friends and annoying to enemies. In September, 1519, he was made a Bachelor of Divinity on account of his great learning. He would never accept a higher degree, and always remained a Magister (Master.) But Luther said of him: "It is true he is but a poor Master, but also a Doctor above all Doctors."

Whilst this worthy man was laying the foundation for the building of the renewed church, he also bore in his other hand the sword of the Spirit to drive away the foe. We have already heard how he smote Dr. Eck with it. As early as the year 1520, a publication filled with poison and gall appeared against Luther in Rome. It bore the[Pg 40] following title: "To the Princes and People of Germany against Martin Luther, the Defamer of German Glory." The author had chosen the fictitious name Thomas Rhodinus. The Leipzigers, especially the wicked Jerome Emser, rejoiced in this libel, and soon reprinted it, in order to injure the cause of the Reformation. But now Melanchthon entered the lists in February of the year 1521. He wrote a defence of the greatly slandered Luther, under the fictitious name of Didymus Faventinus. He remarks in this: "Judge for yourselves, whether those are seeking the welfare and glory of the Fatherland indeed, who accuse that man, who has delivered our Fatherland from Romish frauds; who has ventured all alone to root out the errors which existed for centuries; who has again brought to light Christian doctrines which were almost buried by the wicked laws of the Popes, and the foolish subtleties of the schools. For this praise is given him by all the learned, and not only by me." In this decided tone spoke Melanchthon, and declared that everything which opposed the Gospel must fall, no matter how ancient it may be. After explaining the manner in which the Pope had gained supremacy in Germany, he called upon the princes to defend the Church against the power of Antichrist. The battle grew more exciting, and Melanchthon took a bolder position, although he was a man who might truly, with reference to his inward disposition, be called a child of peace. Towards the close of the year 1520, principally by Luther's advice, he had married a daughter of Mayor Crapp, of Wittenberg. But of this we shall speak further hereafter.

[Pg 41]



As early as the summer of 1520, the Pope, upon Eck's instigation, issued a severe bull against Luther, in which forty-one propositions from his various writings were condemned, and he himself was threatened with excommunication if he should not recant. But the hero was of good courage, for he was suffering for the best cause. Eck triumphed, but the Wittenberger was not to be intimidated, and wrote the well-known severe work "Against the Bull of Antichrist," and even took the bold step, on the 10th of December, 1520, to cast this bull, together with the canon law and other papal writings, into the fire, before the Elster gate, in the presence of many students and doctors. Thus did he powerfully separate himself from the Roman Church and the Pope. All who preferred the better way were thus driven to decision. Melanchthon was not wanting among these better ones, as he proved by his vindication of Luther.

In the meantime, Charles V. had become Emperor of Germany. The papal nuncios urged him to execute the bull. But this youthful monarch proceeded leisurely. He summoned a Diet to Worms, where, among other matters, the difficulties of the Church might also be decided. Although the Papal legates endeavored to prevent Luther's summons to the Diet, they could not succeed. When parting from Melanchthon, he said: "If I should return[Pg 42] no more, and my enemies should murder me at Worms, as may very easily be the case, I conjure you, dear brother, not to neglect teaching and abiding by the truth. In the meantime, labor also for me, because I am not able to be here. You can do better than I can. Therefore it will not be a great loss, provided you remain. The Lord still finds a learned champion in you." It is well known to all with what joyful faith Luther received the summons, and with what bold words he expressed himself in regard to it. Luther's journey to Worms, and his demeanor before the Emperor and the States of the Empire, are among the most glorious events of his own history, and of the Reformation in general.

Faith, like that exhibited by him at this time, is not often found in Israel. "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise; God help me! Amen!" These were Luther's words; he remained faithful, and God helped him. He was removed until March, 1522, for it is known that the care of the Elector had sheltered him from the malice of his enemies in the silent Wartburg.

During this time, Wittenberg truly seemed to be fatherless, for Melanchthon was no Luther. And yet the burden of the Reformation rested upon the shoulders of this young man. But, notwithstanding the papal bulls, and in spite of the Edict of Worms, which appeared May 26, 1521, and spoke in the papal spirit, he was not afraid to stand in the gap. He published the acts of the Diet of Worms, and sided with the proscribed Luther. Every where his assistance was required, so also to give his advice in supplying the professorial chairs in the University. During this time, Aurogallus, teacher of the Hebrew, and Justus Jonas, in the capacity of provost and professor of Theology, arrived in Wittenberg. During the same year, Melanchthon[Pg 43] published a severe work against the Theologians of Paris. These had severely condemned Luther and his writings. Against these he wrote his defence of Dr. M. Luther, "against the raging judgment of the Paris Divines." It is one of his most cutting productions. He begins thus: "Behold, Christian reader, what monstrous beasts of Theologians this part of the earth, Europe, gives birth to!" He expresses himself unwilling to believe that this production has emanated from Paris, because so furious a spirit breathes in it. The common people believe that Christian doctrine dwells in the high school as in its own palace. But he will disregard the distinguished personages, and the high rank of the University, and says: "In our common Christianity, Christ's voice alone shall rule. Whoever does not hear this, does not belong to Christ." The Universities of Cologne and Löwen had also condemned Luther's writings, but they had not acted as crazily as the Parisians. He, therefore, found himself obliged to believe that the saying of those in the olden time was not altogether without foundation: "That the French have no brains." They called Luther a heretic because he did not agree with the Universities, the holy fathers, and the councils. But here Melanchthon plants himself upon the basis of the Bible, and declares this alone can be infallible, and adds: "What new articles of Faith do magistri nostri of Paris wish to add to this? Perhaps their own gross ones!" In this biting manner he proceeds, and in a clear, lively manner, thoroughly refutes the assertions of the Parisians. He proves the Scriptures to be the only fountain of knowledge in the most triumphant manner, and then proceeds to show that Luther is standing upon the Bible, and yet does not contradict the Fathers. Luther's defender proves that he is on Augustine's side in the doctrines[Pg 44] of Free-will and of Grace, and then goes on to show that the Parisians themselves are opposed to the Fathers. He concludes thus: "I wished to guard you in these things, Christian reader, in order that you may not be prejudiced against Luther by the reputation of the Sorbonne,[6] the wisdom of which you have been able to see in one or two points. From those which I have exposed to you, you may easily guess the rest—for the Sorbonne is the Sorbonne. It will be easier for you to find Christ among the carpenters than among these people."

So bravely did Melanchthon speak, and yet the position he occupied alone, during Luther's absence, depressed him so much that he felt the need of consolation. When Luther had reached the Wartburg, Melanchthon discovered it, and full of joy wrote to Wenzeslaus Link: "Our dearest father is alive!" He wishes to fold him in his arms very soon, and says: "Everything is going on well in the University, except that we are deprived of our father Doctor Martinus."

At another time he wrote: "Our Elijah is not yet with us, but we wait and hope for him. What more shall I say? My longing for him tortures me grievously!" Luther reprimanded him about this, and wrote thus: "Even though I should be lost, the Gospel will lose nothing by that; for in that you now excel me, and follow Elijah as an Elisha with a double portion of the spirit, which may the Lord Jesus bestow upon you in his mercy! Amen." Already[Pg 45] on the 12th of May, 1521, a letter of comfort arrived from Patmos, as Luther called the Wartburg. He says in it: "And what are you doing, my Philip? Do you pray for me, that this my involuntary concealment may redound to the greater glory of God?" In conclusion, he says: "Here I sit, and all day long place before me the picture of the Church, and lament my insensibility that I am not drenched in tears, and with my eyes, as with fountains of tears, weep for the slain of my people. But there is no one who will arise and cleave to the Lord, or oppose himself as a wall for the house of Israel, in these latter days of his wrath. Yes, Kingdom of the Pope, thou art worthy of this latter time! God be merciful unto us! Do you then, as a servant of the word, stand in the midst, and guard the walls and gates of Jerusalem, until they come upon you also. You understand your calling and your gifts. I pray for you before all other things, if, (as I do not doubt,) my prayer availeth anything. Do you likewise. Let us bear our burden together. We stand alone in the battle. After me, they will fall upon thee."

Melanchthon needed such encouragement in his present position; for as it has often been, so was it now in Wittenberg, that enemies are less dangerous than friends. With all his storming, Luther yet proceeded calmly. It was his primary object to lay on every side the deep foundation of Justification by Grace through Faith; and he thought less of the finishing of the building. He permitted all those things to remain which did not flatly contradict the word of God. But his friends in Wittenberg did not think so soberly and prudently. They wished to overturn the structure of the Roman Church by rapid assault, and to erect something entirely new. Every particle of the[Pg 46] Romish leaven was to be exterminated from the public worship of God.

First of all, Luther's fellow-conventuals, the Augustinian monks of Wittenberg, led by the preacher Gabriel Zwilling, appeared with a resolution to omit the daily private mass, and to distribute the Sacrament in both kinds. When the Elector heard of this, he inquired at once into the particulars of the matter, and appointed a commission, to which Melanchthon belonged, to investigate the whole matter. The report of this commission was decidedly in favor of those who encouraged these innovations. After exhibiting the antiscriptural character of the mass, and the denial of the cup to the laity, and saying: "It is certain that the abuse of the mass is one of the greatest and most abominable abuses in the world," they pray the Elector to take hold of the matter earnestly, and speedily to abolish the abuse of the masses in his own dominions, and not to care if he should be abused as a Bohemian or heretic. It is impossible to avoid reviling. They appeal to the Elector's conscience, and reminded him of the great day of reckoning. But it also gave liberty to conscience, if any one wished to celebrate mass alone. But the Elector was not satisfied with this opinion. As he generally preferred to act prudently, he considered the step of the Augustinians too hasty. He thought that the opinion of so few persons could not be decisive, and he also clearly foresaw the consequences, should the overthrow of private masses put an end to the legacies for this purpose. He communicated these views to the Commission in writing, through Dr. Bayer. They returned an excellent reply, full of a joyful faith, which we regret not to be able to print entire. The reply said: "Although we are the smallest party, the truth of the divine word, which is[Pg 47] above all angels and creatures, because it is clearly revealed in the Gospel and in the apostle Paul, shall not therefore be despised. For the smallest party ever received and preached the truth, and so it will remain to the end of the world." It concludes thus: "Let no one be offended because this matter will cause great offence. For Christ, as it is written, came into the world, and was given to those who believe in him and his word, that they might improve themselves in him, to obtain eternal life. But to those who do not receive him and his word, he has been given and set for a stumbling-block, that they may die for ever." Luther also, in his work "Of the Abuse of the Mass," expressed himself in favor of the omission of private masses. The Elector now permitted the matter to take its own course. The movement, which had commenced in the Augustinian cloister in Wittenberg, communicated itself likewise to those in Meissen and Thuringia. In the month of December of this year a provincial assembly of Augustinians from different quarters was convened. Their resolutions contemplated the abolition of secret masses, cloistral confinement, and other antiscriptural customs. At this time appeared Luther's publication "Concerning Priestly and Monastic Vows," which gave the movement scriptural progress. When a minister, Bernhardi, called Feldkirch, relinquished his celibacy, and defended this step, Melanchthon was not afraid to step forward to defend the severely assaulted man, and to renounce a doctrine which the Bible terms a doctrine of devils, and is yet held fast by the Papal Chair with the utmost tenacity.

But other events occurred in Wittenberg, which might have done the greatest injury to the good cause of the Reformation, had not the Lord of the Church watched over it. A fanatical spirit had arisen in the city of[Pg 48] Zwickau. Among other things he rejected Infant Baptism, and boasted of the possession of supernatural revelations. At Christmas, three of these fanatics came to Wittenberg. These were two cloth-weavers named Nicholas Storch and Thomas Marx, the third being Marcus Stübner, who claimed to belong to the learned. In Wittenberg, the private teacher, Martin Cellarius, joined them. They also met with Melanchthon, who had even received the chief spokesman, Stübner, into his house. He did not possess that deep insight into human nature which distinguished Luther. He, therefore, did not at once declare himself opposed to this perverted movement. December 27, 1521, he gave notice of this to the Elector, and says: "I have conversed with them myself, and they declare most wonderful things concerning themselves, viz., that God with a loud voice sent them forth to teach, that they enjoy most intimate conversations with God, behold future events, and that they are, in short, prophetic and apostolical men. I cannot describe how all this moves me. That spirits possess them, seems to be established by many reasons, concerning which no one can easily form an opinion but Martinus, (Luther.) If the Gospel and the honor and peace of the Church are in any danger, it is absolutely necessary that these people should have an interview with Martinus, especially as they appeal to him. I would not write anything to your Electoral Grace about this matter, did not the importance of the matter require that steps should be taken in time. For it is needful for us to be on our guard, lest the devil entrap us." Spalatin relates that the Elector expressed himself about this matter very humbly in these words: "This is a very important matter, which I, as a layman, do not understand. Now, God has bestowed considerable possessions upon me and[Pg 49] my brother. If I understood these matters, I would rather take a staff in my hands and fly, than act knowingly against God." However, the Elector summoned Melanchthon and Amsdorf to Prettin.

There Haubold von Einsiedel and Spalatin questioned them further concerning these matters. They expressed themselves to the same effect as Melanchthon had done in his report. Again Luther's judgment was solicited. In a letter of Luther's, called forth by Melanchthon, he judged very correctly of the spirits of Zwickau. He requires letter and seal for their public ministry. As to their spirit, it would only be necessary to inquire, whether they had experienced spiritual conflicts and divine birth, death and hell. He proceeds to express himself in a very decided manner in reference to Infant Baptism, and concludes thus: "I have all along expected that the devil would create this ulcer, but it was not to be done by the Papists. He desires to bring about this great schism among us and ours, but Christ will soon trample him beneath our feet. But these fanatics had already gained adherents. Among them was the well-known Dr. Karlstadt,[7] a man of a legal, unsettled mind, who, with all his boasting of liberty, knew nothing of true evangelical liberty. He commenced a sad work in Wittenberg. Many students joined him. They abolished private masses, burned the images, destroyed the altars, abolished auricular confession, dropped the hymns and ceremonies of the Church, went to communion without previous confession, and did many other things[Pg 50] of a similar character. Without applying to the constituted authorities, without caring for those who were offended at their course, they carried everything before them by storm, appealing to their liberty, the first commandment, and the Holy Ghost, which they possessed. Whoever did not side with them was denounced as an heretic.

This was too much for the youthful professor, the burden was too great, and he longed for the faith and strength of that man, who, under these circumstances could not endure to remain longer in his Patmos. Luther addressed a capital letter to the Wittenbergians, in which he most clearly points out to them the true point of view from which Karlstadt's innovation was to be examined. But Melanchthon ardently desired Luther's return to Wittenberg. His return was absolutely necessary too, yet the Elector would not hear of it. At last, on the 7th of March, 1522, Luther escaped from the Wartburg. Two letters, addressed to the Elector, and which really display an apostolical strength of faith, paved and prepared the way. He was received with acclamations in Wittenberg, and when he now began, from the first Sunday in Lent until the Sunday Reminiscere, to preach eight sermons against these innovations, in a convincing, winning manner, all rejoiced, and the turbulent waves again grew calm.

Gabriel was convinced, but Karlstadt remained hardened. But the fanatics again gathered together secretly, and endeavored to spread themselves. The desire was expressed that Luther might have an interview with them. Although reluctantly, he at last resolved to hear Marcus, one of their leaders. Melanchthon was present at the interview. Marcus was accompanied by the impetuous Cellarius, and several others. When Luther pointed out to[Pg 51] them, that their pretensions were not founded upon the Holy Scriptures, but were really the inventions of over-curious minds, or perhaps even foolish and hurtful inspirations of a deceitful spirit, Cellarius behaved like a mad-man. They departed with curses, but Luther calmly said: "That God, whom I worship and serve, will know right well how to restrain your gods, so that none of these things will come to pass."

We may well conceive how relieved Melanchthon must have felt, when the proper man of the Reformation again stood in the breach.



The Gospel gained greater and greater victories. The preaching of the truth found open doors in Denmark and Sweden, in Transylvania and Hungary, in Silesia and France. As the spirit of primitive Christianity in Germany went forth from Wittenberg through the various provinces, so also did Zwingli, and Melanchthon's friend and fellow-student, Oecolampadius, labor in Switzerland with blessed results. A new time was coming, and its spring had already dawned. Perhaps no other means contributed so much to the promotion of the Reformation as the translation of the Bible, which we owe to Luther's master hand. In the Wartburg he completed the translation[Pg 52] of the New Testament, with a spirit which to this day has not been excelled. But he was not ashamed to make use of the assistance and advice of his friends in this work.[8] Among these friends, Melanchthon was the principal one, who, indeed, excelled Luther in learning. Melanchthon took very great pains to discover the true meaning of the passages, for which his assistance had been solicited. If any expression remained dark, he could apply for an explanation to the physician, Sturtz, in Erfurt, to Spalatin, and other friends. We have before heard that he applied himself to the Hebrew language. The knowledge of this language was very serviceable to him in the translation of the Old Testament. The Book of Job particularly called forth the efforts of the Wittenbergians. Luther somewhere speaks of it in a letter: "M. Philip, Aurogallus, and I, are laboring so carefully in Job that sometimes we could scarcely complete three lines in four days. But Melanchthon labored with especial energy in his own field of labor. He saw the importance of a classical education, and labored very zealously for its extension. But, although he mightily promoted the ancient languages, his heart was yet in the Holy Scriptures. This is proved by his explanations of several books of the Old and New Testaments, which appeared in 1523.

[Pg 53]But his numerous uninterrupted labors were beginning to undermine his health. He was particularly troubled with sleeplessness about this time. Recreation was indispensable for him, and his friends also earnestly advised him to it. When Luther went to Worms, he was not permitted to refresh himself by a visit to his home. He now wished to pay this visit. One of his friends and colleagues, Nesen, intended to make a trip to Frankfort. It seemed best to join him, and from thence to visit his beloved native city, Bretten, and to see the dear relatives residing there. Luther, to whom he communicated his intentions, approved of them, relieved him of all scruples and doubts, and dismissed him with these pleasant words: "Go, dear brother Philip, in the name of God. Even our Lord Jesus did not always preach and teach, but also journeyed, and visited his relatives and friends. All I ask of you is, that you return to us soon! I will include you in my prayers day and night. And now depart!"

On the 16th of April, 1524, he departed, with a very pleasant caravan of friends. Nesen, who taught History, Geography and the Languages, in Wittenberg; Philip's fellow-boarder, Francis Burkhard, of Weimar, who afterwards became Chancellor in Saxony; John Silberborner, of Worms; and his dearest friend in all the world, with whom he became acquainted during the Leipzig disputation, Joachim Camerarius, were his fellow-travellers. They rode upon horses, which were none of the best; but most likely these gentlemen were not among the best of riders. Their way led them through Leipzig. There a most worthy man, Peter Schade, called Mosellanus, who had expressed himself much in favor of the Reformation, was breathing his last. They visited him, and bade him farewell in this world. Thence they went to the city[Pg 54] of Fulda. Crotus Rubianus and Adam Kraft rejoiced in the arrival of the beloved Saxons, and entertained them most hospitably. Here the travellers heard of the death of the Knight Ulrich von Hutten, who died upon an island in the Lake of Zurich. It is well known with what ardor this champion joined the Reformation. Neither Luther nor Melanchthon, however, could approve of everything in the conduct of the clever freebooter; for he was not inspired with the pure, evangelical spirit.

Nesen remained in Frankfort; but Melanchthon and his remaining companions, after a short stay, hastened to the end of their journey. It is said that when he first beheld his beloved native city in the distance, overcome with joy, he dismounted, and falling upon his knees, exclaimed: "Oh! my native soil! I thank thee, Lord, that I have been permitted to see it again!" And now they went to Bretten, to his mother's house. How she rejoiced to behold her son again! She had in the meantime ceased to be a widow, and had married a widower named Christopher Kolbe. It seems she had remained a good Catholic; and perhaps had no other fault to find with her Philip, but that he had taken too decided and zealous a part in the Reformation. Now there was opportunity to speak of these things; and the son did not neglect to instruct his mother as to the object and extent of the Reformation. But she seems to have remained steadfast in her old persuasion.

The mother knew very well that her son had gained a great name. She could see this with her own eyes during his stay in Bretten. Campegius, at that time the Papal legate in Germany, was then in Heidelberg on account of a great hunt. We can well conceive how anxious he must have felt to detach Melanchthon from Luther; and he must[Pg 55] have thought it worth while to make an attempt to bring about this desirable result. He had a very shrewd secretary, named Nausea, who was sent upon this difficult and important errand. When he arrived in Bretton, he immediately repaired to Melanchthon, in order to introduce the matter. He seconded his appeal with the best inducements, but he did not find a reed that could be swayed to and fro by the wind. The Wittenberg Professor declared, in a firm and decided manner: "If I discover anything to be true, I hold it fast, and maintain it without any regard to the consequence of any mortal, without any regard to advantages, honor, or gain. I shall never forsake those who were the first to bring better things to light. But in the same manner I shall also continue to prove true to myself, that I shall teach and defend the truth without quarrelling or abuse. I therefore advise every one who earnestly desires peace and unity, to do all he can to heal those wounds which can no longer be concealed, and to restrain the mad rage of those who are constantly tearing them open again!" He added a small essay on the principal points of the Lutheran doctrine, in which he particularly gave prominence to the difference between divine and human righteousness, and that they were only striving against work-holiness.

Nausea returned to Heidelberg, without having effected his object; but Melanchthon received another visit, from three professors of the University. These did not come to alienate him from that cause, which was the cause of God. On the contrary, they presented him with a richly ornamented goblet, as an acknowledgment of his meritorious services, for which he returned his cordial thanks in a letter.

Whilst Melanchthon was spending most agreeable days[Pg 56] in Bretten, his travelling-companions sojourned in Basle. Erasmus of Rotterdam resided in this city, and by his great reputation also attracted these Wittenbergians. This will be the proper place to say something of the relations existing between this renowned scholar and Melanchthon. It was Erasmus who, at a very early period, recognized and admired Melanchthon's talents and great acquirements. Melanchthon had taken this great man, who exerted such an influence upon the restoration of the sciences, for his model. But Erasmus was a man who preferred standing on neutral ground, and considered the Reformation commenced by Luther, and supported by Melanchthon's learning, as by far too extravagant. He was very fond of the honor of this world, which prevents so many learned men from arriving at a knowledge of the truth. Although he, therefore, at first expressed his approbation of the work in Wittenberg, he gradually became more and more opposed to it. He manifested his hostility particularly in his work "On Free Will." He shows in this, like all persons who do not consult the word of God, and a deep inward experience, that the great corruption of this world of sin, and the indescribable riches of divine grace, were both mysteries to him. He also expressed his views more fully in a letter to his friend at Wittenberg, on the 6th of September, 1524; and did not forget to state that he could not agree on all points with Melanchthon's book, Loci Communes, in which he had, however, found much that was excellent. Nothing else could have been expected, for Melanchthon had most decidedly expressed the doctrine of the renewed Church. He could, therefore, neither be satisfied with Erasmus' publication against Luther, nor with his letter to himself.

It is well known to every one acquainted with these disputes,[Pg 57] that Erasmus had found a powerful opponent in Luther, by means of his work "Of the Bond Will," which is one of the ablest and most powerful productions of the Reformer. The gulf between these two men became wider and wider. All mediation was impossible.

In a letter to Erasmus, in answer to the one already referred to, Melanchthon expressed his decided adherence to Luther's doctrine, and declared that if the Bible should teach differently, he would gladly adopt it. He took Luther's side, and defended him against Erasmus' attacks upon his character. But Erasmus adhered to his own opinions, and especially censured Luther's violence. He was particularly displeased with this violence in Luther's polemic treatise against himself. This relation to the great man in Rotterdam caused Melanchthon much trouble. It was one of the many sorrows which afflicted him.

But we have thus already returned to Wittenberg, and we must first see what happened to Melanchthon on his return. It was difficult to part from Bretten, for his mother did not wish him to depart so soon. It seemed to her, as we often feel when bidding farewell, that she was then beholding him for the last time. But at last, with his companions who had returned from Basle, he tore himself away from his home. Not far from Frankfort he met with a singular adventure. The young Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who had early exhibited a warm interest in the progress of the Reformation, was travelling with his retainers to Heidelberg. He had, no doubt, heard that Melanchthon was on the road. He sees a company of travellers approaching, and he feels that Melanchthon must be among them. He rode towards them, and asked for him. When Melanchthon discovered himself, and was about to [Pg 58]dismount in token of respect, the Landgrave prevented him, and requested him to change his route, and to remain with him over night, because he would like to have many matters explained to him. He bade him entertain no fear, but be of good courage. Melanchthon assured the Landgrave that he was not afraid, and that he was a very unimportant person besides. The prince replied: "But, nevertheless, Cardinal Campegius would be not a little rejoiced if you were to be delivered into his hands." On the condition that, after his return to Wittenberg, he would prepare a written statement concerning these innovations in religion and send it to the Landgrave, he permitted him to continue his journey, and gave him the promise of a safe conduct through the Hessian dominion. This writing was really prepared, and bore the title: "An Epitome of the renewed Christian doctrine, addressed to his most serene highness the Landgrave of Hesse." The journey was safely completed, but he soon experienced great sorrow in Wittenberg. His beloved travelling companion, Nesen, wished to cross the Elbe in a fisherman's boat, as he had often done before; but upon the present occasion, it was July 5th, the boat struck against the trunk of a tree, was capsized, and Nesen was drowned. Besides this, his beloved Camerarius, who was daily more endeared to him, removed from Wittenberg. He felt very lonely and forsaken, and in this frame of mind wrote to Camerarius: "I sit at home like a lame cobbler."

[Pg 59]



The hopes raised by the proposed plans for reform, by the new Pope Hadrian VI., were not realized. How often have men been deceived in their hopes, when they looked towards the city on the seven hills! The Diet in Nuremberg opened in a threatening manner, for the Pope and the Emperor insisted on severe measures, and the execution of the Edict of Worms. But it came to pass here, as the Elector Frederick the Wise is said to have remarked before the Diet: "In heaven it has been resolved far otherwise than in Nuremberg!" Already in the year 1523, death summoned Hadrian from the scene. True to the proverb, "The Pope does not die," another one, Clemens VII., of the same spirit as all the rest, ascended the throne. He insisted upon the execution of the Edict of Worms, and caused this opinion to be proclaimed during the Diet at Nuremberg, which had been opened again. The Emperor made the same demand by his ambassador. But all these violent measures were defeated by the action of the princes, who said "that they would do what they could." The more the Gospel began to penetrate to every quarter, to find good soil and to strike deep root, so much more the hostility of the Catholics increased. Persecutions arose, and martyrs began to bleed for the Lord's cause. Melanchthon took an especially deep interest in the terrible[Pg 60] martyrdom of Henry von Zütphen, who was burned at the stake towards the end of the year 1524.[9]

The war of the Peasants, which commenced in Swabia as early as 1524, but took a new and dangerous turn in the beginning of 1525, still more increased the hate of the enemies of the pure Gospel, and gave them a plausible excuse forcibly to exterminate these ecclesiastical novelties and the innovators themselves. As when fire has been placed in the different quarters of a city, and it breaks out on every side, so that the inhabitants do not know where to begin to extinguish it, so was it in the peasants' war. Almost everywhere the peasants arose and threatened death and destruction to the authorities and existing laws. Nothing is more easy than, with preconceived opinions, either to proclaim this war a noble struggle for freedom, or, on the other hand, to trample under foot the just sighs of the deeply injured peasants. It is well known that no event in the days of the Reformation was more welcome to its enemies than this desperate and bloody rebellion of the peasants. They at once proclaimed this war to be a legitimate fruit of the new doctrine. It cannot be denied that this opinion has some appearance of truth, but then only if we look at the mere surface of things, and carry an evil-disposed heart within us. The peasants themselves have partly given occasion for this opinion, because in the well-known "twelve articles of the peasants," they mingled spiritual and temporal demands together. It is, however, not our purpose to give a history of the peasants' war,[Pg 61] which still awaits a true representation, even if it were carried out in the shortest outlines. We are here but to consider how the Reformers, particularly Melanchthon, demeaned themselves in this critical event.

In Melanchthon's home, the palatinate, this extravagant spirit had also seized the peasants. There too they rose up on every side, however little reason for it they might have had, under the reign of the Elector Louis of the palatinate. This prince wrote to Melanchthon, whom he esteemed very highly, requesting him to come to Heidelberg to assist him by his counsels in this dangerous affair. He says of Melanchthon: "You who were born and raised in the palatinate are more learned and experienced in the Scriptures than others, celebrated, and doubtless favorable to peace and justice." If it was impossible for him to come, he should send his advice and opinion, "according to divine and truly evangelical Scripture" to him in writing. On this account Melanchthon wrote his "Pamphlet against the articles of the peasantry." As Luther's writings in regard to the war of the peasants have frequently given offence, because he stood firmly by the word of God, which demands obedience towards the authorities, so did it also fare with Melanchthon. He too, like Luther, must submit to be called a Court-theologian. But their theology was drawn from the word of God, and redounded to the glory of God, let the enemies to the right and left say to the contrary—whatever they please. The peasants declared they would submit themselves to the word of God. This Melanchthon seized upon. He wishes to present to them "the Gospel, and the true Christian doctrine; for no doubt there are many among the masses who sin from ignorance; who, it is to be hoped, if they are properly instructed, will forsake such wicked practices, and consider[Pg 62] the Judgment of God, their own souls, and their poor wives and children. But many are so wanton, and blinded by the devil, that they do not desire, and cannot abide peace." After having spoken of Faith and Love, he proceeds to obedience to government, and says: "Whereas this article is even despised by those who call themselves evangelical, we will hold before them the Gospel and the Word of God, in which they may see how desperately they are fighting against God under the pretext of the Gospel."

The beginning of the 13th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans will ever be the principal direction in this matter. Melanchthon, too, refers to it, and fully and convincingly explains this passage to every one whose passions have not blinded and disordered his senses. He proceeds to say: "From all this we therefore conclude, that, because the Gospel demands obedience to government, and forbids rebellion, although princes may do evil; and also further requires that we endure wrong, they act against the Gospel, inasmuch as they arise against the government, and use force and violence against them. And they prove themselves liars in this, that they write they desire to live in accordance with the Gospel, and yet thus openly act against God, so that it is easy to observe that the devil is instigating them, desiring to destroy their bodies and souls. For the end may be whatever it will, such wickedness will be punished at last."

Melanchthon now proceeds to consider each of the twelve articles separately. In the first article he proves, that the government is bound to have the Gospel preached. But if a government, possessed by Satan, will not permit it, we ought not to raise a tumult, for God has forbidden it. Each one is to profess his faith, and suffer, if the government be hostile. "It is not possible to be a Christian,[Pg 63] and lay the cross upon the shoulders of others; you must bear it yourself." In the second article "Of Tithes," he takes the side of right, and refutes the misapplied scriptural passages of the peasants. In the article "On Vassalage," he also defends the established order of things, and proves that the passages quoted by the peasants had no reference to bodily, but to spiritual freedom. "Therefore," he says, "the expectation of the peasants has no pretext. Yes, it would be better if so wild and unruly a nation, like the German, had less liberty than they really possess."—"Our authorities indulge the people in all wantonness, and only require money of them, but keep them under no restraint, which causes great disorders!"

He then reviews the remaining articles, of the chase, forests, services, taxes, penalties, &c. Of the right of heriot, a tax, he says that the government ought to abolish it, and remember the poor orphans. He concludes his pamphlet with very earnest words to the princes and peasants. To the former he says, they should humble themselves, because they had transgressed in many ways. "For God has always, from the beginning, overturned governments, when their wantonness became too great." He advises them to abolish the abuse of the mass, the celibacy of the clergy, and to appropriate the possessions of convents for useful purposes, especially for schools. Thus, should the princes lend a friendly hand, there should be some hope that words might answer a good purpose; but should this clemency be unavailing, the princes should strengthen themselves to treat the rebels as murderers. Melanchthon, who completed this pamphlet before the conclusion of the war of the peasants, added an appendix as soon as he heard that the peasants had been put down on every side. Now, the amiable man is merely a[Pg 64] herald of peace and clemency. In this appendix he says: "As God has now given the victory, and the murderous rabble, which would not have peace, has been punished according to the laws of God, the princes should further be very careful that no harm befall the innocent, and also show mercy to the poor people, some of whom sinned through fear, others through folly." He points them to the example of David, who punished at the proper time, but at another also showed mercy, and concludes his excellent production in the following words—worthy of being taken to heart: "The Government should also look to it, that the word of God might be preached in the proper way, and that those customs of the church which oppose the word of God, be changed. Then God would grant them peace and prosperity in their government, as he did to Hezekiah and other pious monarchs, who put away the old abuses in the services of religion. For he declares, 1 Sam. ii. 30: 'For them that honor me, I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.'" Not all the victorious princes regarded this truly Christian word, but punished and oppressed the peasants most severely, whilst they laid the blame of the rebellion upon the gospel thus recommended. But the Elector Frederick the Wise did not act thus. The peasants had also risen in rebellion in his dominions. Thomas Münzer, one of the most crazed and preposterous of beings, stood at their head. He endeavored to screen himself behind divine revelations, for all his violence against the government. When the rebellion was increasing, the Elector was confined by illness. These events moved him deeply; but in a letter to his brother, Duke John, he thus expressed himself: "It is God's sending and work, and God grant a happy conclusion." Again, he says: "Perhaps occasion has been given[Pg 65] the poor people, particularly by prohibiting the word of God. Thus the poor are oppressed in many ways by us secular and spiritual authorities. God avert his anger from us!" This was Frederick's opinion, and his brother fully coincided in it. The Lord also gave the victory to the princes in Saxony and Thuringia. Melanchthon has described this rebellion in its beginning and close. He thus begins his narrative: "After Dr. Martin Luther had preached several years, and had taught the pure and true gospel, the devil sowed his seed by its side, raised many false and hurtful preachers, in order that the gospel might again be darkened and suppressed, and much blood might also be shed. For Christ himself has given the devil this name, and has thus painted him, that he was a murderer from the beginning, and will cause murders to the end of the world."

Before the termination of the war, the Elector fell asleep on the 5th of May, 1525, in a truly Christian manner, so that his physician said: "He was a child of peace, and died peacefully." As it was desirable to prevent all superstitious customs at the funeral of the Elector, Luther and Melanchthon were requested to give their opinion. They did so; and the funeral ceremonies were conducted in this manner. Not only did Luther preach his celebrated funeral sermon, but Melanchthon also delivered a Latin oration in the church, which shows how well he was able to appreciate a prince of Frederick's character. He spoke of the excellent qualities of the deceased, and his love for the word of God, and concluded thus: "I pray that God in his mercy may receive into his own keeping the soul of Frederick! May he also bless the administration of the government by his brother, protect our country in these unhappy times, and grant you all that[Pg 66] affection for public peace, that you may reverence your princes with all fidelity and conscientiousness, according to the command of God."

Melanchthon sustained a great loss in the death of this exalted patron; but John the Constant, who now held the reins of government, bore the same affection in his heart towards the chosen instruments of the Reformation.

He even took a more decided stand than his brother, as we shall see hereafter. Melanchthon feared that the wheels of the machine would be interfered with too much. The slow, prudent conduct of the Elector, which he had extolled in his address, pleased him very well. To his fears in this respect another event was added during this year, which incited their enemies to increased slanders. This was Luther's sudden marriage in June, 1525, to Catharine von Bora, who had been a nun. Luther took this step, standing upon the word of God, and in defiance of his enemies. But there seemed to be no end to the noise; yet Melanchthon, who had declared himself in favor of the marriage of the clergy, could not but approve of the marriage. Yet he would have prevented it during this period of ferment, had it been in his power to do so. But when Luther began to be concerned himself, Melanchthon became his comforter.[10]

[Pg 67]



Although Melanchthon's professional activity was principally directed to the education of good teachers and pastors for the schools and churches, yet the confidence enjoyed by him, and his splendid reputation, which bore his name far beyond the confines of Saxony, soon afforded[Pg 68] him an opportunity to exert a very salutary influence in the erection of new, and improvement of established schools. Even before he had, together with Luther, arranged the school in Eisleben, and also one in Magdeburg, of which Cruciger was Rector, he was invited to Nuremberg, by Jerome Baumgartner, towards the close of the year 1524, in order to establish a Gymnasium,[11] and to act as its Rector. But nothing could induce him to leave Wittenberg. He therefore declined the offer of an appointment in Nuremberg, although he had the establishment of this institution of learning much at heart. One year after the invitation to visit Nuremberg, he undertook the journey with his friend Camerarius. This celebrated imperial city, which was then called "the eye of Germany," attracted him on many accounts; for it had an eye open to the Gospel, and numbered among its inhabitants many of the most distinguished minds, with whom Melanchthon was intimately connected. Among these were Pirkheimer, Baumgartner, Lazarus Spengler, Ebner and Nützel. He entered Nuremberg on the 12th of November, 1525. He communicated his views in regard to the arrangement of the school, and proposed able men as teachers. Camerarius, his beloved friend, was appointed Rector of the school. Other men also accepted the call extended to them. In the following year we find Melanchthon, true to his promise, in Nuremberg again. He formally opened this learned institution with a Latin address, May 23, 1526. In this address he uttered weighty words concerning the necessity and utility of the sciences. He concluded with the appropriate prayer: "I pray Christ that he may assist your important work by his[Pg 69] grace, and that he may accompany your intentions and the diligence of those who shall study here, with his blessing." Among his friends in Nuremberg, he also numbered the celebrated painter, Albert Dürer, whose heart was also with the work of the Reformation. He spent a few very pleasant days with him and the rest of his friends, but returned to Wittenberg in June. Important business awaited him there, but in the middle of July he was seized with a severe illness, and his physician considered his recovery doubtful; but the Lord could not spare him yet.

In the beginning of the year 1526, he was formally appointed to deliver lectures on Theology, although he remonstrated against it. His salary was increased to 200 florins. But the most important duty in which he was engaged at that time was in participating in the visitation of the schools and churches in Saxony. It may well be imagined that these were in a miserable condition. The Apostolic doctrine, which was proclaimed in Wittenberg with Apostolical power, had not found an entrance everywhere. In some of the schools and churches they still pertinaciously adhered to the beaten path. In other quarters it was patchwork, a new patch upon an old garment. There was one case of a minister who preached the gospel in his principal church, but read mass in the under-parochial church where they required a different practice. The confusion in doctrine, church customs, and church treasuries was truly deplorable. Luther did not complain without reason: "Help, dear Lord, what frequent distress have I seen, because the common people, particularly in villages, know nothing at all of Christian doctrine, and it is but too true that many ministers are unskilful and unfit to teach. And yet all are called Christians, are baptized, and enjoy the holy sacraments, and do not even know the Lord's[Pg 70] Prayer, or the Creed, or the Ten Commandments, and live on like the brutes...."

Luther had taken this distress to heart long before, and had earnestly appealed to Court, to institute a Visitation of all the schools and churches in the land. The Elector John, who was greatly concerned for the spread of the truth, ordered such a visitation. It took place in 1527, and was a real work of necessity, but at the same time full of blessings. Different commissions were appointed for different parts of the country. Melanchthon was ordered to visit Thuringia, accompanied by Jerome Schurff, Erasmus of Haugwitz, and John of Planitz. Great indeed was the spiritual distress discovered by them! Melanchthon often went out and wept, as he writes himself: "What can be offered in justification, that these poor people have hitherto been left in such great ignorance and stupidity? My heart bleeds when I regard this misery. Often when we have completed the visitation of a place, I go to one side and pour forth my distress in tears. And who would not mourn to see the faculties of man so utterly neglected, and that his soul, which is able to learn and grasp so much, does not even know anything of its Creator and Lord." However, the Elector's instructions to the visitors enjoined it upon them to proceed in the most lenient manner. They obeyed strictly, and no doubt accomplished more in this way than if they had fallen upon everything in the stormy spirit of a Karlstadt.

Melanchthon was also commissioned to prepare an Instruction for the ministers in the Electorate of Saxony. This called forth a little volume with the title, "Instruction of the Members of the Visitation to the Pastors in the Electorate of Saxony." It was handed to Luther for inspection, who was entirely satisfied with it, and therefore[Pg 71] made but few alterations. He added a Preface to the book, in which he explained the necessity of the Visitation. This volume may be called the first Confession of Faith of the Lutheran Church, and on this account already deserves to be better known. As might be expected from Melanchthon, it is conceived in a spirit of great moderation, and, whilst it gives prominence to the principal doctrines of the true Church, treats the opposite opinions with great forbearance. Let us select a few passages from this book of Instruction. The first chapter treats "Of Doctrine." It says: "But how many now only speak of the forgiveness of sins, and nothing or very little of repentance, and yet there is no forgiveness of sin without repentance; and forgiveness of sins cannot be understood without repentance. And when we preach forgiveness of sins without repentance, it will come to pass that the people will believe that they have already obtained forgiveness of sins, and will thereby become secure and careless. Therefore we have instructed and exhorted Pastors that, according to their duty, they should preach the whole Gospel, and not one part without the other." In the article "Of the Ten Commandments," he requires that the people might be brought to a knowledge of their sins, by an exhibition of the law and of their sins, and proceeds thus: "Besides this, it will be profitable to preach of faith, in this manner, that whosoever feels pain and sorrow for sin should believe that his sins are forgiven him, not because of any merit of his own, but for Christ's sake." But the instruction always reverts to this, that faith is nothing without repentance. "Where there is no repentance there is a painted faith." After having thus given prominence to the two first parts of the Christian life, he proceeds: "The third part of the Christian life is to do good[Pg 72] works, such as chastity, to love our neighbor, to help him, not to lie nor cheat, not to steal, not to murder, not to be revengeful, not to take vengeance into his own hands, &c. He then enters upon a consideration of the Ten Commandments. In treating the second commandment, he requires "the true Christian prayer." This section fully treats of the manner in which we ought to pray, and renounces all abuses. "Whatever it may be, we are to seek help from God alone." The fourth commandment is treated at length, and proceeds to show how children should treat parents, and parents their children, and particularly how subjects should conduct themselves towards the government. An entire section is devoted to the consideration of Tribulations, as a part of good works. They are to be careful to teach that all tribulations come from God, but also, that God is to be called upon in the midst of them. In considering the Sacrament of Baptism, the lawfulness of Infant Baptism is proved from its antitype, circumcision. They should perform the ceremony in the German language, in order that those present might understand its meaning. Here, too, they are directed to repentance and faith. Of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, it teaches, "That in the bread is the true body of Christ, and in the wine the true blood of Christ," and mentions two of the principal passages of the Bible. The miracle is not wrought by the merits of the priest, but because Christ has so ordered it, that his body is present wherever men commune. They should teach in the most decided manner that both kinds, bread and wine, should be distributed; yet no one, who, because of the weakness and fear of his conscience, could not receive both kinds, should be forced to receive both. Under such circumstances the Pastor should offer but one. It treats fully "Of true Christian[Pg 73] Repentance." Added to this, is the section, "Of true Christian Confession." It says: "Papal Confession, namely, to rehearse all our sins, is not commanded, for it is impossible to do it."

Yet, every one going to communion should be previously examined by the pastor. The article "Of true Christian Satisfaction for Sin," shows that Christ alone has made satisfaction for our sin. In the chapter "Of human Church Regulations," the pastors are exhorted to insist upon the principal matters in their sermons. Sundays and festival-days are to be observed. Yea, they even suffer Apostles' and Saints' days to remain. But on the latter they are to permit labor. But it is not their intention hereby to establish or commend the invocations and intercessions of the saints, for Christ alone is the mediator who intercedes for us. Matters relating to marriage are also briefly considered. Of free will it says, that we are able to perform worldly piety and good works by our own strength, given us and preserved for this purpose by God. This is the righteousness of the flesh. But they also teach—"Man by his own power cannot purify his heart, and produce divine gifts, such as true repentance from sin, a true and unfeigned fear of God, true faith, cordial love, chastity, an absence of revenge, true patience, earnest prayer, freedom from covetousness, &c." Concerning Christian Liberty, the errors of the vulgar are set aside, and liberty in Christ exhibited. We are also freed from the ceremonies of the Old Testament. The Turks are not forgotten, and it also mentions how the daily exercise in church is to be conducted. Would that it were so still in our churches! Concerning true Christian Excommunication, they teach that it is to be employed against those persons who live in open vices, after they have been admonished[Pg 74] several times. They are not to be permitted to come to the Lord's Supper; but they are not prevented from hearing preaching. Overseers, called Superintendents, selected from the pastors, were appointed in particular districts. Besides this, this instruction of the visitation devotes a full chapter to schools.

The Commissions of Visitation labored in this mild, conciliatory, and truly scriptural spirit, and that, too, with blessed results. The Catholics pretended to find a creeping back, as Luther calls it, in this book of instruction, and began to rejoice aloud.[12] When the little volume appeared publicly in 1528, and also during the previous years when a Latin sketch of it had been printed, different opinions were expressed concerning it. But the most singular attack upon the book was made by one of the evangelical party. A former friend of Melanchthon, John Agricola, rector in Eisleben, considered it unscriptural, and leading to the papacy, if repentance was derived from the law, and not from the gospel. This dispute made so much noise, that the Elector considered himself obliged to arrange a meeting in Torgau, between Agricola, on the one side, and Melanchthon, Luther, and Bugenhagen, on the other. It was held in November, 1527. Agricola could easily be refuted from the Scriptures; however, he was a man obstinately[Pg 75] wedded to his own opinion, who, as it is well known, stirred up this very matter ten years after, in the most violent manner, at which time he made use of the most daring expressions, such as "Moses deserves the gallows." But this Antinomian spirit, which was manifested by the ultra-evangelical party from time to time, was refuted by Luther in the most powerful and conclusive manner. Melanchthon refers to this, and refutes it in a number of writings.

In the summer of 1527, the university was removed to Jena, because the plague had broken out in Wittenberg. When Melanchthon had finished his first visitation tour, he continued to lecture in Jena, and wrote against the Anabaptists, who were also carrying on their sectarianism in various parts of Saxony. In the autumn of 1528, he made his second visitation tour into Thuringia, together with Myconius and Menius.



It is reasonable to suppose that the Pope could not have been satisfied with the great activity of the evangelical party, and the constantly increasing and noble spread of the gospel. He had but too many adherents in Germany, who were filled with the most violent rage against the Evangelical party. Duke George of Saxony, who had been frequently attacked by Luther, especially breathed vengeance. He had in his service a counsellor, named[Pg 76] Otto von Pack. It is a mystery to the present day, how this man came to reveal a pretended secret to the son-in-law of the Duke, the well-known Landgrave, Philip of Hesse, according to which the Catholic princes had formed a league against the evangelical states. He succeeded in presenting the matter in so plausible a manner, that Philip, who was already inclined to fight, believed it necessary to form a counter-league. Even the Elector John, who was otherwise more sober and calm, was of the same opinion. The Landgrave was not satisfied with mere words, but marched to the frontier with his troops; but the Elector was prudent enough to ask the opinions of his theologians, among whom Melanchthon was included.

Their advice was quite temperate. Although they were highly incensed at this Catholic league, they would hear nothing of an attack. How much Melanchthon was inclined to a scriptural peace, is shown in a letter addressed by him to the Elector on the 18th of May, 1528: "To have a good conscience, and to enjoy the friendship of God, is surely the best consolation in all afflictions. But if we should begin by seizing the sword, and commence a war with an evil conscience, we would have lost this consolation. Great sorrow and cares induce me to write this. God knows that I do not value my own life so highly, but I am only thinking how much dishonor might be brought upon the holy Gospel, should your Electoral Grace begin to war, without previously making use of all means and ways to preserve the peace, which indeed ought to be done." The Elector was of the same opinion, but the Landgrave stood prepared to fight. But when he wrote to his father-in-law, Duke George, he declared the whole matter to be "an unfounded lying report." Although the evangelical party could hardly believe this assertion, and[Pg 77] perhaps had reason for it, they were, nevertheless, obliged to put an end to all further preparations.

Two years before, in the year 1526, a Diet had been held in Spire, which had taken a turn favorable to the evangelical party. Although the Catholics demanded that the wicked Edict of Worms should be executed, they nevertheless did not succeed. The States were divided, and the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave Philip were about to leave the Diet, when King Ferdinand and the Elector of Treves acted as mediators, and declared that a Christian free council should be held in a year, in order to settle these religious difficulties. During this time each one should remain quiet and peaceful. The princes promised to act as they wished to answer for it before God and the Emperor, or in their own words: "During the meantime, until a council shall be held, each State is so to treat its subjects, in reference to the Edict of Worms, as they hope to answer for it before God and the Emperor." After this, the whole matter remained as it was before, and there was great reason for gratitude to God that such a result had been reached.

There was nothing to be dreaded on the part of the Emperor at this time, for he was engaged in open war with the Pope; he had not yet been reconciled to the king of France, and the Turks were advancing victoriously. It would have been highly imprudent to arouse the hostility of a part of the German princes at this time. But that which he had avoided by the prudence which always characterized his conduct throughout life, was earnestly sought by the Catholic States, who had denied the existence of a league against the Evangelical party. Their hearts were full of anger. The Emperor had summoned another Diet to Spire, to meet on February 1st, 1529. The Imperial[Pg 78] proclamation did not promise as favorable a result as had been brought about by the last Diet of Spire. As the Elector well knew what hostility prevailed against Luther, he did not take him along with him, but chose the more peaceful Melanchthon. They arrived at Spire on the 13th of March, 1529. The general hatred was now directed against him. The prospect was a gloomy one. Melanchthon had not the strong faith of Luther, by which he could have believed the clouds away—he rather increased their number by his anxiety. The Imperial proposition, in reference to religious matters, did not speak favorably of the innovations. It regrets that "such wicked, grievous, troublesome and destructive doctrines and errors have arisen in our holy faith, and are daily spread abroad more and more." His Imperial majesty, by his Imperial absolute power, annuls the resolution of the previous Diet, which had indeed been a very flexible one. This was not a good beginning. The Catholics triumphed, and succeeded in passing a final decree of the States of the Empire assembled in Diet, which was very unfavorable to the Evangelical party. For this final decree insisted upon the execution of the Edict of the Diet of Worms. The mass should be retained, and all innovations in the Church be stopped.

The Elector requested Luther and Melanchthon to give their opinion concerning this decree. They express themselves decidedly opposed to assenting to the decree, but drop the Anabaptists and Sacramentarians, who were as unpopular in the electoral dominions as elsewhere. This opinion no doubt exercised an influence upon the Evangelical States. Melanchthon's spirits were deeply affected during the progress of these negotiations. He expressed his sorrow in his letters. On the 15th of March he wrote[Pg 79] to Camerarius that it could easily be seen on every side that the Evangelical party is hated, as well as what they intend to do. "You know," he continues, "that I observe many defects among our friends, but their object here is not to correct our faults, but to suppress the best of causes. But I hope that Christ will prevent this, and frustrate the counsels of those people who desire war." So he also entreated his friend Myconius: "I exhort thee to pray Christ that he would regard us in mercy, and protect us. For here we are objects of scorn to the proud spirits, and of derision to the rich."

A very bad state of feeling prevailed in Spire. Faber preached: "The Turks are better than the Lutherans, for they fast, and these do not." He even went so far as to say, that if he had his choice, he would rather throw away the Bible, than the ancient errors of the church. Camerarius exhorted Melanchthon to cast his cares upon God. He replied, "If I had no cares, I should not cry unto God. But whereas piety conquers cares by prayers, it cannot be altogether rid of them. By cares, therefore, am I driven to prayer, and prayer drives away my cares."

Verbal and written objections to the final decree were unavailing. Finally, the Evangelical party, and Melanchthon with them, saw themselves compelled to take the step which has become so celebrated in the history of the Reformation. On the 15th of April, 1529, they entered a formal Protest and Appeal against the decree of the diet. Even though the Catholics afterwards called them Protestants, by way of derision, the despised ones could regard that name as an honorable title.[13] And at this time, more[Pg 80] than ever, should we abide by this name, as an honorable distinction of the Evangelical Church, because the old assumptions are again endeavoring to gain an influence; and even in the bosom of the Evangelical Church, there is enough against which we must protest.

The Emperor received the Protest in a very ungracious manner. A threatening imperial reply arrived from Barcelona, dated July 12, 1529, in which he expresses his disapprobation of the Protest, and concludes thus: "If you should continue to appear disobedient after this our gracious warning, we would no longer hesitate, but would and should be obliged to punish you, in order to maintain proper obedience in the Holy Empire." We may well imagine how such language was calculated to trouble Melanchthon.

During this season of troubles, he made a brief visit to Bretten, to see his mother. He saw her for the last time, for she completed her earthly pilgrimage on the 6th of June, 1529.[14]

[Pg 81]



While the Catholics were filled with the most violent enmity against the evangelical party, and dark clouds were gathering over the heads of the Protestants, because of the decided expression of the emperor's will, it was a matter for the very deepest regret that a deep gulf was opened in the midst of the evangelical party, which grew wider and wider in the course of time. This was the rupture between the Lutherans and the Reformed, to use the names familiar now. We have already become acquainted with the restless, stormy spirit of Dr. Carlstadt, whom Melanchthon called the wicked A B C, on account of the initials of the three names, Andrew Bodenstein Carlstadt. Among other errors, he also denied the bodily presence of Christ in the sacrament, and explained the words of institution in so forced a manner, that Luther was doubtful whether he should consider him in earnest, or think that God had hardened and blinded him. Luther simply adhered to the words of Christ, however much, as he confesses himself, he was spurred by his reason to deviate from the words. "But I am a prisoner," he says, "and cannot escape; the text is too powerful, and will not permit its meaning to be changed by words." Melanchthon also strictly held, that the body and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present in the Lord's Supper.

Because Carlstadt would not return to Wittenberg, he was obliged to leave the country. But soon after he solicited[Pg 82] Luther's intercession, who willingly complied. He returned to Saxony in the year 1525. Luther baptized his son, and his wife and Melanchthon acted as sponsors. But in the year 1527, Luther already expressed himself unfavorably of the man, who still adhered to his ridiculous explanation of the words of the Lord's Supper. Carlstadt now left Saxony, and in 1528 came to Basle, where he was appointed preacher and professor. He soon disappeared in the back-ground, when another, Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss reformer, appeared with his unsatisfactory exposition of the words of the supper, according to which the words "This is my body," were said to mean "This signifies my body." Although he labored with great success in Switzerland, he yet bore some resemblance to Dr. Carlstadt, in his stormy proceedings, for he destroyed the images, bells, organs, and the like. Zwingli took Carlstadt's side against Luther. John Oecolampadius, professor and pastor in Basle, and a friend of Melanchthon's youth, united with him in the same unsatisfactory view of the Lord's Supper.

Luther was greatly grieved at these innovations, and attacked them with terrible earnestness. He called the Swiss Sacramentarians. We shall not introduce those matters, which more properly belong to the Life of Luther. Adhering to his declaration: "Thus it is written," he laid powerful blows upon the Sacramentarians, who replied in equally violent and biting publications. Although Melanchthon had not mingled in the strife up to the present time, he yet stood on Luther's side. He too felt himself bound by the express words of the Bible. Even from Spire, as early as the year 1529, he had written to his otherwise dearly beloved friend Oecolampadius concerning this matter: "It is very painful to me that discord should have arisen in this matter, ordained by Christ himself to[Pg 83] establish an indissoluble love. Never has anxiety for any matter disturbed my heart more than my anxiety in this. And I have not only myself considered what might be said for and against this matter, but I have also examined the opinions of the ancients. For I should not like to stand up as the author or defender of any new dogma in the Church. After having thus weighed what seemed to be best established on both sides, I will express my sentiments, with your permission, but I cannot agree with your opinion." He then reviews the objections of opponents. One of these objections was, that the absent body of Christ could not be present. In answer to this he says: "I know that there is a promise of Christ; 'I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;' and other ones similar to this, in which it is not necessary to separate his humanity from his divinity; and therefore I am of the opinion that this sacrament is a testimony of the true presence.... That opinion, that Christ has taken possession of a part of heaven in such a manner that he is shut up in it as in a prison, is one altogether unworthy of a Christian." Such an important question should not be judged by the rules of geometry, but by the word of God. He also says, that the most distinguished Fathers of the Church explain the sacrament like those of the Evangelical party. In the conclusion of his letter he yet presents a variety of considerations. "I observe," he says, "that your cause relies upon the assistance of the understanding and subtleties, and that you are not only employing public but secret arts also, to attract attention; and I doubt whether these will further your cause more than public ones. I am well aware of your own modesty; therefore I consider it necessary to remind you to reflect, that even shrewd and prudent persons may sometimes fall, and it is[Pg 84] particularly dangerous to rely upon our own reason in spiritual matters." Melanchthon gave up all thoughts of a conference concerning this matter.

However, this plan, entertained by another individual also, was soon to be realized. The Landgrave Philip of Hesse saw what incalculable mischief would follow a division of the Germans and the Swiss. He regarded the matter from a political point of view, because a party, divided in itself, could not accomplish that which it might do when united. But he also appreciated the religious aspect of the question. It was soon discovered to which side he leaned in this dispute. Be this as it may, the Landgrave considered it advisable to arrange a conference at Marburg between the Germans and the Swiss. Although the doctrine of the Lord's Supper was the principal point of difference, there were yet besides this a number of other differences. Although Melanchthon had suggested the idea of such a conference to Oecolampadius, he now dissuaded from it, when the Landgrave wished such an one to take place. With Luther he believed that the conference would not be productive of good.

But finally both parties consented. The day after Michaelmas, the Wittenbergians, Luther, Melanchthon and Jonas, arrived in Marburg, after Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Bucer and Hedio, had already arrived. Andrew Osiander, of Nuremberg, Brenz of Hall, and Stephen Agricola of Augsburg, arrived after this. Jonas cannot sufficiently extol the gracious, friendly, even princely reception, they met with. Although it had at first been arranged that they should lodge in the city, the Landgrave now received them into his palace. Jonas remarks: "This has been done in these forests, not only in honor of learning, but of the true God and Christ, whom we[Pg 85] preach. Would to God that everything might be decided to the honor of Christ!"

Melanchthon reported the proceedings of the conference to the Elector John of Saxony, and likewise to Duke Henry of Saxony. We follow his narrative, which gives us a clear view of this important meeting. At first, Luther conversed with Oecolampadius alone, and Melanchthon with Zwingli. It was stated that Zwingli was accused of teaching that Original Sin was not sin, and that Baptism did not secure to children forgiveness of Original Sin. That he declared concerning the Lord's Supper, that the body and blood of Christ are not truly in the sacrament. He is also said to teach that the Holy Ghost is not given through the Word and Sacrament, but without the word and sacrament. Further, it is asserted, that some do not teach correctly of the Divinity of Christ, and also spoke awkwardly of Justification before God. That they did not insist enough upon the doctrine of Faith. Zwingli hereupon declared that he always believed, and did still believe, that Christ is true God and man. That it is not his fault if others have taught improperly. They disputed a long time concerning original sin, and the means by which the Holy Ghost is communicated. Zwingli yielded this point.

On the 2d of October, the following day, they began the principal battle on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The Landgrave and his chief counsellors attended this discussion. They disputed two days on this point of difference. Zwingli and Oecolampadius steadily maintained: 1. That Christ taught a spiritual eating of his body in John vi., and therefore we should only understand a spiritual eating in the Sacrament. 2. That a body cannot be present in many places at one and the same time.[Pg 86] Christ possesses a true body, and is in heaven; therefore, he could not be in the Sacrament at the same time. Here they made a number of awkward assertions; e. g., God does not present such unintelligible matters to us, outward participation is useless. 3. Oecolampadius introduced quotations from Augustine, that Sacraments are mere signs, signifying something, even as the serpent in the wilderness signifies something. He thought it sufficient to be satisfied with a spiritual participation. Luther replied as the principal speaker. Concerning John vi., he declared that, although Christ is there speaking of spiritual eating, yet this is not opposed to bodily eating. He, too, taught a spiritual eating, but in the words of the institution an outward eating is ordained. The opposite party then referred to the words: "The flesh profiteth nothing." It was replied to them, that, as Christ above speaks of his flesh as giving life, the words quoted by them could not refer to his own flesh, but to our own carnal being and thoughts. But if we wish to explain it of Christ's flesh, we cannot draw any other conclusion from it than this, that the flesh of Christ, when received without faith, profiteth nothing. To the second objection they replied, that our reason should not judge God's power and glory, whether one body is able to be present in many places or not. Melanchthon relates that their opponents steadfastly adhered to this objection. They said that even wicked priests could perform this great miracle. It was replied to them, that we ought not to regard the worthiness of the priests, but the commandment of God. Upon this they dropped their objection. To the third objection, in which Oecolampadius declared "the Sacraments are signs, and therefore we ought to grant that they signify something; therefore we ought to acknowledge in the Lord's Supper that the body[Pg 87] of the Lord is only signified, and not present," the other side replied, that we ought not to explain them in a manner different from that in which Christ had explained them. That the Sacraments are signs, should be understood thus, that they signify promises connected with them. Thus, the Lord's Supper signifies that the death of Christ has obtained satisfaction for our sins, and gives us the assurance of the forgiveness of sin. From this it does not follow as a matter of necessity that Christ's body is not present. Zwingli and Oecolampadius quoted many passages from the Fathers in corroboration of their views. Their opponents also presented many clear declarations of the Church Fathers to the Landgrave in writing, from which it appeared that the ancient Church taught the true presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Lord's Supper.

Such was the result of the conference at Marburg. Both parties adhered to their own opinions. The Swiss asked to be regarded as brethren. Luther refused, and declared this to be an evidence that they did not value their own cause very highly. Although they were satisfied with Luther's doctrines on all other points, they adhered to their own opinion of the Lord's Supper. It is true Melanchthon expresses a hope that they might change their opinion in this matter at some future day, but this hope was never realized.

The Conference lasted three days. Melanchthon had feared that their opponents would be far more violent, and expressed himself well satisfied with them in this respect. The Landgrave was also deeply interested in this discussion. It is said that he made the remark: "Now he would rather believe the simple words of Christ than the subtle thoughts of men." Although this conference effected some good in correcting many misapprehensions and errors, as[Pg 88] well as for a while putting an end to the violent polemical writings, yet no union had been brought about in the matter of the Lord's Supper. The schism remained, and grew more incurable in future days. Meetings were again held in Rotach, Schwabach, Smalkald, and in Nuremberg, in the beginning of the year 1530, in order to bring about a union with the upper Germans. But they would not forsake their opinion, and the Elector, who believed Luther's doctrine, could not induce himself to enter into a league with his opponents. Besides this, the latter were so far removed from the Catholics in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, that it was not to be hoped that they would be received when united. However, the Landgrave, whose purpose to unite the Reformed, especially the four upper German cities, with the Lutherans, had so far been frustrated, did not relinquish all hope of final success. He made repeated efforts. Thus a meeting was held in Schwabach in October, 1529. Luther had prepared seventeen articles, one of which expressed the true presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament. But they could not unite here, nor in the Conferences at Smalkald in November, and Nuremberg, in January, 1530.

Thus, while the Catholics were banded together to inflict deadly blows upon the Protestants, these were separated into two parties; and if we add the sects, into a number of parties. But now every eye was directed to the Diet of Augsburg, at which the cause of the Protestants was to be considered again. All were in anxious expectation to see what the Emperor would do. And on this occasion it was reserved for Melanchthon to produce a work which should not only excite attention in Augsburg, but which decided and secured the lawful position of the Evangelical Church. However, Melanchthon was not in[Pg 89] the most joyous frame of mind at this time. He thus expresses this in a letter to Camerarius: "Not a day passes in which I do not wish that I might leave this world."



The Turks, who had advanced victoriously as far as Vienna, met with so determined a resistance at the hands of the brave hero Philip of the Palatinate, that they were obliged to retreat. Thus the danger which threatened the Emperor from the East was lessened. He had resumed peaceful relations with King Francis of France, and was also reconciled to the Pope, and had been crowned by him. He now had abundant opportunity to attend to the religious difficulties, and, as he hoped, to bring them to a happy conclusion. It is very true that Pope Clemens would hear nothing of it, when he informed him that it would be necessary to hold a general council, and that he intended to summon a Diet on this account. Clemens, in his reply, declared, that religious difficulties must be brought before the Bishop of Rome, and that he in every case had a right to convene a General Council. He demanded power of arms to suppress the dissatisfaction reigning in Germany, and said: "There is no other way for you but to restore peace by your arms." Of course Charles would not agree to this. He insisted upon a Diet, and said: "We must hear both sides, and then pronounce[Pg 90] sentence, not according to our tyrannical pleasure, but according to the law and doctrine given us by God."

On the 21st of January, 1530, the necessary imperial documents were dispatched from Bologna to Germany, fixing the meeting of the Diet for the 8th of April, in Augsburg. Besides deliberating concerning assistance against the Turks, they would also consider "what might be done and resolved in reference to the errors and schism in our holy faith and the Christian religion." The imperial proclamation was couched in very mild terms, yet the Evangelical party entertained unfounded fears that the Emperor would now assume a more hostile attitude. The Landgrave Philip of Hesse even considered it dangerous to attend the Diet. We are already acquainted with this man, who was not at all disinclined to divide the Gordian knot with the sword. But the Elector John was of a different opinion, and besides this, consulted his Theologians in this important matter. They expressed themselves most decidedly against an armed resistance. Luther gave his opinion to the Elector as early as the 6th of March. Melanchthon added a preface. On the 14th of March an electoral decree was sent to Luther, Jonas, Bugenhagen, and Melanchthon, which called upon them to prepare a list of the principal points of difference in matters of Faith, and the customs of the Church, so that it might be known how far they might go at the approaching Diet. They selected the 17 so called articles of Torgau, which were formerly called the articles of Schwabach, and had been prepared by Luther. They constitute the basis of the Augsburg Confession. On March 21, the Theologians were commanded to meet the Elector in Torgau. Here in Torgau, these Theologians assembled in the parsonage, and presented this matter to God, with prayers and sighs.

[Pg 91]On one occasion, Melanchthon arose, sad and weary, having been called out by a messenger. When he had dismissed the messenger, he retired to his room. Here he found the wives and children of the Pastor, and his two chaplains. Some of these children were being suckled, whilst others were being examined in the Catechism and Prayer. When Master Philip saw this, he stood still for a little while, looking on and listening with great surprise as the little children are praying with stammering tongues, and he thinks of the words of the Psalmist: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." He is especially moved by beholding the wife of one of the chaplains suckling one child, and at the same time cutting turnips for her husband's dinner, whilst another child is repeating its prayers to her. When Philip saw this, he exclaimed: "Oh! what a holy and God-pleasing work!" He goes in again to the Theologians, joyous and comforted. Dr. Luther asked him how he came to enter so pleasantly, after having gone out in such sadness. Then Melanchthon replied: "My clear Sirs, let us not be so faint-hearted, for I have just now seen those who shall fight for us, who protect us, and who are and shall remain invincible in all violence." Dr. Luther inquired who these mighty heroes were? Philip replied: "The wives and little children of our Pastor and his chaplains, whose prayer is now heard, and which God will not leave unanswered, even as our faithful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has not despised this their prayer up to the present time." This filled the Theologians with great joy, so that they remained firmly in the truth, and bore witness of the same. And the result proved that faith and prayer will always gain the victory. The Elector was pleased with these articles, and commissioned Melanchthon to arrange[Pg 92] them in a proper manner, and also to write an introduction to them.

On the third of April, the Elector, accompanied by a numerous retinue, and the Theologians, commenced his journey. They proceeded very slowly, by way of Eisenberg, Weimar, and Coburg. Here they rested several days, for Melanchthon was already preparing the articles which were to be delivered at Augsburg. But Luther, who was particularly hated by their opponents, was left behind in Coburg, where he took up his quarters in the castle, having for his companion a very worthy man, Veit Dietrich, of Nuremberg. April 21st or 22d, the Elector resumes his journey, and Agricola has taken Luther's place. In Nuremberg they halted but a single day. Melanchthon made use of these moments to report the latest news to Luther, and thus concludes: "Christ preserve you, pray for us all!" On the 2d of May, the Elector and his retinue arrived in Augsburg. None of the princes had yet arrived. As they were obliged to wait some time for the coming of the Emperor, Melanchthon, who was at all times fond of correcting his productions, had ample time to improve the Confession. On the 4th of May, he wrote to Luther concerning this matter, and says: "I have given the introduction to our Confession a more elegant turn than it had as I wrote it in Coburg. But I will shortly bring it to you, or, if the Elector will not permit this, send it you." He was already able to send the Confession to Luther on the 11th of May; but he now called it an Apology, because at the same time it should also be a defence of the Evangelical faith. It was his intention to prove in this that the doctrine of the Evangelical party did not at all depart from the Christian Church. He writes: "We send our Apology to you, although it is rather a[Pg 93] Confession. For the Emperor has no time to listen to long disputations. But I have, nevertheless, mentioned whatever I considered to be particularly useful and appropriate. On this account I have included nearly every article of faith, because Eck has published quite devilish blasphemies against us. I wished to present an antidote to this. You will judge of the entire work according to your own mind." Melanchthon and the Elector, who added a letter to the Confession, inquired of Luther what ought to be done, in case the Emperor should prohibit the Evangelical party from preaching. Luther returned Melanchthon's manuscript to the Elector, with these words: "I have read Mr. Philip's Apology. I like it well enough. I know of nothing to improve or alter in it, besides that would not be suitable, for I cannot walk so meekly and so silently. May Christ our Lord grant that this may produce much and great fruit, even as we hope and pray. Amen." In reply to the question concerning preaching, he declared his opinion, that "they ought to yield to the Emperor, if previous humble remonstrance has been made, because the city is his." As the Emperor still delayed, Melanchthon again took the file in hand, in order to give greater perfection to the Confession of Faith. He wrote to Luther on the 22d of May: "I daily alter many things in the Apology. I have taken out the article 'On vows,' because it was by far too short and meagre, and have put a fuller one in its place. I am now arranging the article on the 'Power of the Keys.'" He prepared the Latin, as well as the German text. When the document was completed, it was also communicated to the ambassadors of the free cities. These were so well pleased with it, that the resolution that it should be signed in the name of all the Evangelical States was passed at once. However, the[Pg 94] Theologians of the various States met together to discuss the different articles of the Confession. They particularly discussed the little word "really," in Article 10, which treats of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. For this was opposed by some in the most determined manner.

While they were thus deliberating, the emperor was still delaying his coming, and they were thus kept in the greatest suspense. It was reported that the notorious Cajetan was accompanying the Emperor as the legate of the Pope. Melanchthon says of him: "He is a foolish and insolent man, with whom you cannot do anything." But this report, as so many others circulated at this time, was not corroborated. The Elector had sent John von Doltzig to the imperial court, who returned with the order that all preaching in Augsburg should be stopped. We already know what Luther thought of this. Melanchthon entertained the same opinion. But the Elector, and his chancellor Brück, were unwilling to obey this prohibition, and protested against it. At last, the Emperor decided that no preacher, no matter who he might be, should be permitted to preach in Augsburg, without being appointed to do so by the Emperor himself. When the Lutherans in Augsburg were likewise deliberating what they should do, if they should be forbidden to eat meat on certain days, if spiritual jurisdiction should be demanded again, and they should desire to re-establish convents, and the like, Melanchthon delivered his written opinion to the Elector. He was in favor of yielding, but opposed the re-establishment of convents.

The conduct of the Landgrave Philip, of Hesse, grieved him exceedingly; for he was very anxious to bring about a union between the Lutherans and the Swiss. For this[Pg 95] purpose, he had previously brought about the Conference at Marburg, without, however, accomplishing his purpose in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. He still entertained thoughts of a union. On this account, Melanchthon wrote to Luther, May 22: "I entreat you most earnestly to write to the Landgrave, and to exhort him, that he should not burden his conscience by defending any false doctrine." In addition to this, Melanchthon and Brenz also addressed a letter to the Landgrave, and justified themselves for not being able to unite with the Zwinglians. The Landgrave replied in very temperate language, insisting upon treating the Zwinglians as brethren, without, however, being able to shake the opinions of the two theologians. The Catholics knew very well that such divisions had arisen in the Evangelical camp. It will always remain a subject of regret that no union could be brought about. Melanchthon and Brenz declared: "We have such articles, of which, by the grace of God, we are certain, and are able to suffer for them with a good conscience, which is indeed a source of great comfort in every danger; but we cannot be certain of the Zwinglian doctrine, as it is called, for we have no clear word of God for it."

Relying upon the word of God, they could indeed calmly await coming events. At last the Emperor, who had delayed so long, arrived in Augsburg. He made his public entrance on the 15th of June. Not Cajetan, but the smoother Campegius, accompanied the Emperor, as the Pope's legate. We may well suppose that this public entrance was very magnificent. The following day was the festival of Corpus Christi. As the evangelical princes could not conscientiously take a part in this festival, which celebrated a doctrine which they rejected most decidedly, they took no part in the procession. They declared to the[Pg 96] Emperor, who insisted upon their attendance: "They could not conscientiously before God, comply with this demand, because this procession was made a species of worship." The princes at first expressed themselves in the most decided manner, against the Emperor's demand that the preaching should be stopped. The Margrave George even said, before the Emperor: "Rather than deny my God and his Gospel, I would kneel down here before your Imperial Majesty, and have my head cut off." The Emperor replied, in his defective German, "Not head off, not head off." However, as the Emperor had prohibited preaching to both parties, and had reserved the right to appoint preachers for himself, the Lutherans could not complain any longer, especially as their theologians advised peaceful measures. The day preceding the opening of the Diet, Melanchthon wrote to his friend Camerarius, that the Confession would be more moderate than the ungodliness of their enemies deserved. He had only insisted upon the principal matters, and restored spiritual jurisdiction entirely to the bishops. That many, indeed, were dissatisfied with this; but that he would be willing to accept even more stringent conditions, if peace might be attained by these means. He continues: "After Mercurinus is dead, there is no one of any consequence at Court, who is inclined to peace. He had gained over a Spanish secretary, who promised well, and had already spoken to the Emperor and Campegius; but all lies in the hands of God. Pray to Christ that he may grant peace. Not only are we forbidden to preach, but our adversaries also. However, the Emperor, by his imperial power, will appoint a preacher who shall only read the mere text of the gospel and Epistle. In this you may observe the wonderful wisdom of the courtiers." Concerning the prospects of the[Pg 97] Diet, Luther thus strikingly expresses himself towards Agricola: "Truly, you are not merely to contend with men in Augsburg, but with the gates of Hell." And again: "The Lord Jesus, who has sent you all thither to be his witnesses and servants, and for whose sake you expose your necks, be with you, and testify unto you by his Spirit, that you may know with certainty, and may not doubt, that you are his witnesses. This faith will strengthen and comfort you, for you are the ambassadors of a great King. These are true words. Amen." Such courageous faith should have filled all the Lutherans, and Melanchthon in particular.

At last, on the 20th of June, the Diet was opened by the celebration of Mass, by the Archbishop of Mentz. The Papal orator, Pimpinelli, made the address. Afterwards they proceeded to the town-hall, where the Imperial demands were proclaimed, first against the Turks, then in matters of religion. In reference to the last point, the Emperor expressed his regret that the previous Imperial resolutions had not been carried out. Nevertheless, the States should express their sentiments in matters of religion in Latin and German declarations. Melanchthon, filled with excessive alarm, believed this important matter might be brought to a favorable conclusion by private efforts. It was not a good plan; however, he adopted it. Among the retainers of the Emperor was a secretary named Alphonsus Waldesius. This Spaniard seems to have been a shrewd man. He entered into communication with Melanchthon, and revealed his views of the Lutherans as they were regarded in Spain. It was thought there that they did not believe in a God, or the Holy Trinity, or Christ, or Mary; so that the people of Spain thought they could not serve God better than by killing a Lutheran.[Pg 98] Melanchthon replied somewhat to the following effect: "The Lutheran cause is not so tedious and awkward as it may have been represented to his Imperial Majesty; and that the principal difficulty was concerning the articles, of the two forms in the Sacrament, of priests and monks, marriage and the mass; because the Lutherans considered solitary masses sinful. If these articles should be conceded, he believed that ways and means might be found to settle all the rest." Soon after he was informed by the Imperial secretary that the Emperor was pleased to hear this, and had commanded that he should make a very brief statement of the Lutheran articles, and deliver it to him. The Emperor also believed that it would be most advisable to settle the matter quietly; for public trials and quarrelsome disputations were only productive of ill-will, and not of unity.

Melanchthon expressed himself ready to reflect upon this subject; but neither the Elector nor Chancellor Brück would permit the matter to be disposed of in this way. He was merely permitted to show the Confession, which, as Melanchthon wrote to Camerarius, the Secretary Waldesius found "entirely too bitter for the opponents to endure it."

As they could not and would not take the by-way of silence, the Emperor suddenly, on the 22d of June, appointed Friday, June 24th, for the delivery of the Evangelical Confession. This short time greatly perplexed the Lutherans, because Melanchthon still wished to make further corrections, and the Introduction also was wanting. In order that this might be in the proper form, Chancellor Brück assisted him. The Theologians, (there were twelve present,) assembled to deliberate. Nine princes and cities signed the German copy of the Confession; and because[Pg 99] they had no further time to spare, they took Melanchthon's manuscript as the Latin copy. The 24th of June arrived, but it being too late, the reading of the Confession could only take place on the following day, Saturday, June 25, 1530.

This day, which has become one of the most important in the History of the Evangelical Church, came at last. Spalatin says: "One of the greatest deeds ever accomplished in the world has been done this day." The Emperor and his brother Ferdinand, Princes and States of the Empire, and distinguished Ecclesiastics, were there assembled, to listen to the reading of the Confession of Faith. The Saxon Chancellor read the German Confession so loudly and distinctly, that it was not only heard in the hall, but also in the court, where a great multitude was assembled. It contained two parts, the first including all the doctrines of Faith, the other the disputed articles. On account of our limited space, we shall but briefly touch upon the different articles, as every one, especially every Lutheran, should be most intimately acquainted with the Confession of his Church. We have more need of it at this time than formerly, for the ancient errors arise with renewed vigor, and may easily shake one who is uncertain in his belief.

First—1. Stands the Confession of the Holy Trinity, of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 2. How we become pious and righteous before God. 3. How all men are born with Original Sin. 4. What Original Sin is. 5. How we attain God's Grace. 6. How preaching is necessary towards Justification. 7. How Faith must produce good fruits and works. 8. What the general Christian Church is. 9. That the Sacraments are efficacious, even when administered by wicked priests. 10. Of Baptism,[Pg 100] against the Anabaptists. 11. Of the Holy Sacrament of the true body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. 12. Of Repentance. 13. That the Sacraments are such consoling tokens, with which we are assured and may be certain that God, for Christ's sake, will be gracious, kind and merciful to us, and do us good in time and eternity. 14. Of the Teachers of the Church. 15. Of Ceremonies, that those are to be observed for the sake of peace, which can be observed without sin, but they are not to be observed in order to attain salvation. 16. Of human laws and order. 17. That Christ will come at the last day, to judge the quick and the dead, to give everlasting life and joy to believers, and to condemn the devil and the wicked. 18. Of Free Will, that we have a free will to be pious outwardly, but not before God. 19. That sin comes from the perverted will of the devil and wicked men. 20. Of Faith and Good Works, that this is true Faith, that we are heartily assured of every good, Grace and help from God, for Christ's sake, and that Faith without Works, such as God has commanded, is dead. And 21. Of the Adoration of Saints, that we should expect all good from God, as the saints did, and that we should imitate their faith and love, but call upon God alone.

Then, in the second part, follow the disputed articles: first, 22. Of the two kinds in Sacrament, why we distribute them to all. 23. Of mass, how it is observed among us, and why we have rejected secret masses. 24. Of priests, and the marriage of monks and nuns. 25. Of cloister vows. 26. Of difference of meats. 27. Of confession. 28. Of the power of the Bishops, and the difference between the spiritual and temporal sword. These twenty-eight articles are discussed in a clear, simple, scriptural, and peaceful manner. No ingenuous mind could[Pg 101] withhold its approbation from them. It is impossible to say what impression they made upon the Emperor. It is well known that he was not very well acquainted with the German language. Besides this, he no doubt had previously also decided upon the course he would take. When the two copies were being handed to his secretary, he graciously took them into his own hands. He gave the German copy to the Archbishop of Mentz, and kept the Latin one for himself, and caused it to be translated into Italian and French for himself. He intimated to the Lutherans, that he would consider the matter further, but expected that they would not print the Confession. However, their opponents soon circulated defective copies, so that the Lutherans were forced to publish the correct Confession.

Luther was regularly informed of the progress of events. He indeed was deeply interested, and secretly, by the help of God's hand, ruled the Diet. As Moses prayed, and had his sinking arms supported during the battle between the Israelites and their enemies, so Luther prayed in his castle of Coburg. He who sitteth in the heavens alone knows what influence he exerted. It would have been well for Melanchthon had he possessed such strong faith, and such a mighty spirit of prayer. But he looked too much to men, their power and their craftiness. And for this he was rewarded by complaints and sighs, but he did not conceal his sorrows from his paternal friend in Coburg. Through this, Luther opened the depth and power of his faith, and permitted the flame to spread even to Augsburg, that Melanchthon's heart might be encouraged. His precious letters should be read at length in the history of his own life; here we can only communicate extracts. June 26th, he wrote: "I heartily hate your great care, which,[Pg 102] as you write, weakens you. That it increases so greatly in your heart, is not owing to the greatness of our cause, but is the fault of our great unbelief. Why do you thus unceasingly trouble yourself? If our cause is wrong, let us recant; but if it is right, why do we make God a liar in such great promises, because he bids us be of good cheer and satisfied? You are troubled thus by your philosophy, and not by your theology. The same also greatly vexes your friend Joachim; just as if you could accomplish anything by your useless cares. What more can the devil do than to kill us?" On the same day, Melanchthon sent a dejected letter to Coburg: "We are here constantly in the greatest trouble, and shed tears continually, which has been aggravated by still greater distress to-day, when we read M. Veit's letters, in which he informs us that you are so highly displeased with us that you would not even read our letters. My dear father, I do not wish to increase my sorrow by many words, but would only ask you to consider where and in what great danger we now are, having no other comfort but your own encouragement. The sophists and monks are running daily, and making every effort to excite the Emperor against us." He prays that Luther would read and answer his letters. On the following day already, June 27th, another letter from the afflicted one followed this. He says: "At no time have we stood in greater need of your advice and encouragement than at this time, as we have followed you, as our head, in the most dangerous cause up to the present time. Therefore, I also pray, for the sake of the honor of the Gospel, that you would take our part. Christ permitted himself to be awakened in the vessel when it was in danger. Now, truly, we are in still greater danger here, in which nothing worse could happen to us all than if you should forsake[Pg 103] us." He also said: "I have written to you before, that you should inform me, if necessary, how much we may yield to our adversaries." On the 29th of June an answer arrived from Coburg, in which, among other things, we read this: "I have received your Apology, and I am wondering what you mean, that you desire to know what and how much we may yield to the Papists? According to my opinion, too much is already conceded to them in the Apology. If they will not accept this, I do not know what I could yield further, unless I see their arguments and clearer Scripture than I have seen hitherto." He expressed himself most decidedly against being called "head," by Philip: "I wish to have no name, wish not to command, and do not wish to be called Author. You are troubled about the beginning and end of this matter, because you cannot understand it. But I say so much: If you could understand it, I should not like to have anything to do with the matter, much less would I be a head or beginner. God has set it in a place which you can neither reach by your rhetoric nor by your philosophy. That place is called Faith, in which are all things that we cannot see or understand. Whoever wishes to make these things visible, open, and comprehensible, as you do, will get sorrow and weeping for his pains, even as you have against our will." As he was closing the letter, he reflected that Melanchthon might think he had received little in reply to his question, what and how much should be conceded to their opponents. On this account he added this: "You have not asked sufficiently, and have not clearly stated what you think they will ask of us. I am ready, as I have always written to you, to yield up everything to them, if they will only leave the Gospel free. But whatever opposes the Gospel I cannot allow. What other[Pg 104] answer can I give?" From such an apostolical faith, several other letters flowed to the friends in Augsburg, and particularly to Melanchthon, who truly needed such a mode of address more and more.

After the Confession had been presented to the Emperor, different opinions were held by their enemies as to the course that must now be pursued. Faber, Campegius, and others of like stamp who endeavored to influence the Emperor, insisted upon the execution of the Edict of Worms. Others wished the Confession to be examined by impartial men, whilst others again demanded a written refutation of the Confession. The last opinion prevailed. But at the same time it was also declared that the Emperor should decide in this matter, in default of which the whole should be postponed until the calling of a General Council. In regard to this latter point, Luther wrote to Melanchthon on the 9th of July: "You see that our cause is now in the same position as it was with me in Worms, namely, that they require us to accept the Emperor as Judge. Thus does the devil ever fiddle upon one string, and the old conjurer has nothing he can oppose to Christ but this single helpless weapon." Notwithstanding all these exhortations, Melanchthon was still anxiously engaged in finding a middle path. Thus he considered it advisable to write to Cardinal Campegius, in order to lead to thoughts of peace. He did not reflect that this man, although of a smooth exterior, was nevertheless a viper, swollen with venom. The crafty Roman endeavored to instil the most odious thoughts into the mind of the Emperor. This evil, he remarked, could be cured. The Emperor should unite himself with the well-meaning princes, and change the sentiments of the others by promises or threats. But what is to be done if they remain obstinate? We have the right[Pg 105] to destroy these poisonous plants with fire and sword. If we have gained the mastery over them, we can appoint holy inquisitors, the University of Wittenberg can be excommunicated, the books of the heretics can be burned, and the like. It was needful to strike a decisive blow in the beginning.

With such a man, Melanchthon, of course without knowing his true character, entered into negotiations. After an humble letter, Campegius sent for the writer. Let us hear Veit Winsheim, Melanchthon's friend and eulogist, relate the particulars of the interview: "The day after, when the whole company was assembled, Philip was summoned, who enters with a firm mind. He saw himself surrounded by a circle of serpents and devils, and like the prophet Jonah, shaken alone in the belly of the whale. Campegius is importunate, and flourishes the terrible lightnings of his highly enraged and cruel Jupiter, the others vehemently threaten the poor and small flock of the helpless sheep of Christ with the power and force of so many kingdoms. It was enough to terrify even a strong and courageous man. But when Philip was asked whether they would yield, he replied: "We cannot yield nor forsake the truth. But we pray for God's and Christ's sake that our adversaries will not think hardly of us, and will dispute with us, as they are able, i. e., will yield that to us which we cannot forsake with a good conscience." When Campegius heard this, he shrieked: "I cannot, I cannot, because the key does not err." To this thundering, although Philip stood, as it were, in the midst of lions, wolves, and bears, who could have torn him in pieces without punishment, yet having a great and glorious spirit in a little body, he now boldly replied: "We commend our cause to the Lord God. If God be for us, who can be against us?[Pg 106] And finally, come what will, we must abide by our fortune or misfortune."

Melanchthon had frequent interviews with the cardinal after this, especially, as the Protestant princes believed, that they might accomplish some good in this way. It is true, some have maintained, that Melanchthon was willing to agree to a base accommodation; but this cannot be proved. However, this much is certain, that all mediations were ineffectual. How true is Luther's word in a letter to Melanchthon, on the 13th of July: "I should think, dear master Philip, that you have by this time sufficiently learned by your own experience, that Christ and Belial cannot be united by any means whatever, and that no unity in religion is to be thought of."

While this was transpiring, the Catholic theologians were busily engaged with the task laid upon them by the Emperor, in refuting the Confession of the Protestants. He had recommended moderation to them, when the first draught had exhibited too great a violence. The Catholic theologians who were preparing the refutation, were Eck, Faber, Wimpina, Cochlæus, and others. The last one composed it. What good thing could be expected of these men? Melanchthon therefore remarks, in a letter to Camerarius: "I hear that their refutation is finished, and will make its appearance in two or three days. It is said that the Emperor will order all things to remain as they were, until these disputes shall be examined in a Council. This is to be the end of the deliberations. And if this decree is not tempered, you may easily conceive what troubles will be the consequence." At last, after having awaited it for a long time, the princes and electors were summoned, on the 3d of August, to hear the Confutation of the Augsburg Confession. This document follows the[Pg 107] same order as the Confession. It first treats of doctrines in 21 articles, and afterwards of abuses, in 7 articles. Although it acknowledged many things in doctrine, as agreeing with the Catholic church, it did not depart in the slightest degree from Roman principles, and strictly adhered to the abuses. In the article on Original Sin, it did not acknowledge the prevailing corruption; and in the article of Good Works, it maintained that the good works which are performed by the help of Divine grace, are meritorious. It also refuses to allow that faith alone justifies. In the article on Repentance, it insists upon satisfaction which man is to pay, whilst the Confession excludes all human satisfaction. The Confutation likewise finds fault with the Lutherans, because they deny that we can by our works earn forgiveness of sins, and also because they reject the adoration of the saints. It is not willing to grant the cup to the laity, and defends this position with the most absurd reasons. It adheres to the celibacy of the priests and monks, and maintains the mass, with all its antiscriptural characteristics. In short, it will not cast aside any abuses. The Emperor really regarded this untenable production as a refutation of the Confession of the Protestants; and gave these to understand that it was his will that they should compromise matters with the other Christian states, and should not separate themselves from the general Christian church. If this should not take place, which the Emperor did not expect, he should act as it became him, as the guardian and protector of the Holy Christian church, and as a true Christian Emperor. Melanchthon speaks of this in a letter to Luther, August 6th: "This was the sum and substance of it, which, although it seemed very harsh, yet, as the Confutation was executed in a very childish manner, our friends became[Pg 108] quite cheerful after it was read; for this Confutation is the paragon of all the childish and foolish writings of Faber. In speaking of the two kinds, he referred to the history of the sons of Eli, that they would ask the priests for a piece of bread, and proved from this that laymen should only receive the bread. The mass has been defended by particularly bald and lame tricks." The Princes requested a copy of the Confutation after it had been read, but could not obtain it. Even if the Emperor had now been inclined to act severely, a quarrel arose in the midst of the Catholic camp, because they could not agree among themselves in regard to the steps that should now be taken.

At last, the views of the more moderate prevailed, that a delegation should be appointed by both sides, in order to effect a compromise. On the 6th of August, several Catholic princes and bishops assembled to agree upon the points of convention. On the following day, the Elector Joachim, of Brandenburg, informed the Lutherans that they should drop their erroneous views, and no longer separate themselves from the Catholic Church. Even if there were some abuses, they might be done away with by the assistance of the Pope. And now ensued answers and replies in great number. The Lutherans would not entertain the yielding propositions of Melanchthon, who believed that unity in doctrine might be secured, and only wished to insist upon the two kinds—marriage of the priests, and the Evangelical mass. The Evangelical states declared that they did not intend to retreat from the word of God, although they were inclined to maintain peace and harmony. Philip, the Landgrave of Hesse, was not at all satisfied with this course of things. He was opposed to yielding in the slightest degree, and said to his counsellors, in a letter dated August 24th: "If the Papists wish to[Pg 109] remain sitting in their devil's roses, and will not permit the pure preaching of the truth of the gospel, nor freedom of marriage, nor the Sacraments according to Christ's institution, why then you shall not yield one hair's-breadth. Much less still are we to allow the jurisdiction of the bishops, because they do not permit the gospel to be preached nor practised in their dominions." And because he hated the yielding of Melanchthon, he added: "Stop the game of that subtle philosopher, Philip!"

Such were the sentiments of the Landgrave, and therefore he could no longer contain himself in Augsburg, but suddenly and unexpectedly to all, left the city August 6. This excited great attention; however, the proposed plan to bring about an accommodation by means of a committee of fourteen persons, including the Evangelical Theologians Melanchthon, Brenz, and Schnepf, and the Catholics Eck, Wimpina, and Cochlæus, was not prevented by it. They met together from the 16th of August until the 21st. On motion of Chancellor Vehus of Baden, the Augsburg Confession was examined, article after article. They agreed in many articles, but in Justification Eck would not admit that we are justified by faith alone, for that would make rude, wicked, and impious men. Love justifies more than Faith. Because he did not like the word sola, which means "alone," he perpetrated the wretched witticism: "Let us for the present send the soles to the cobbler." However, he found Melanchthon a man who stood immovable in the main point. Whenever the two Theologians grew somewhat passionate, the princes present entreated them to maintain peace.

Although they agreed in many points of doctrine, there were others, such as Justification, Repentance, &c., in which they could not agree; and when they came to the[Pg 110] abuses, their opponents would not allow the two kinds, the marriage of priests and the mass. There were in all 14 points on which they could not unite. On August 22, Melanchthon wrote to Luther: "Yesterday we finished the Conference, or rather dispute, before the Commissioners." After having referred to the opposition to Justification, satisfaction, the merit of good works, and the two kinds in the Sacrament, he thus concludes: "I do not know where this will end; for, although peace is also necessary to our enemies, yet it seems to me that some do not consider what great danger there will be, if this matter ends in war. We proposed very reasonable conditions; we have given authority and jurisdiction to the Bishops, and have promised that we would re-establish the usual ceremonies. I do not know what we shall accomplish by it. Pray to Christ to preserve us."

Luther was not satisfied with these compromises, and among other things replied thus: "Summa Summarum, I do not like it at all that you are endeavoring to treat of Unity of doctrine, because this is entirely impossible, unless the Pope is willing to abolish the entire papacy. It would have been sufficient for us to have shown the reasons of our faith, and to have demanded peace. But how can we hope to convert them to the truth?" And concluded thus: "Why do we not perceive that all they are attempting is mere deception and fraud? For you are not able to say that their acts are prompted by the Holy Ghost; for they have neither Repentance, Faith, nor the fear of God. But may the Lord, who began this matter, finish his work in you; to him I heartily commend you."

On the 24th of August, a sub-committee met, in which only Melanchthon and Eck were to meet each other. But upon this occasion Melanchthon took a bolder and more[Pg 111] decided stand, and wrote to Luther on the following day: "Our mildness only makes these proud fellows more stubborn. I cannot tell you how they triumph. If I were attending to these matters on my account, and not in the name of the prince, I would by no means endure this insolence. But now I must endure all, because of the common danger of princes and subjects. The spirits of our friends are at times depressed, and again unseasonably brave. However, I trust we shall do nothing against the Gospel." He also sent two other letters, in which he spoke of the mass, which the Papists demanded. Luther replied that they could not consent, and says in his letter of August 28, "Would to God that I might soon see you again, whether you had departed secretly or publicly. You have even done more than enough. And now it is time for the Lord to act in the matter, and he will do it. Be of good cheer, and trust in him." And further on: "You have confessed Christ; you have offered peace; you have been obedient to the Emperor; you have patiently borne much contempt; have been overwhelmed with shame and abuse; and have not returned evil for evil. Summa, you have managed this holy work in a proper manner, as it became saints. Rejoice in the Lord, and be joyous, ye righteous. You have been sad and afflicted long enough in this world; look up, and lift up your heads; I promise heaven to you, as faithful members of Christ. What greater honor do you desire? Is it so small a matter to serve the Lord Jesus faithfully, and to have proved yourselves faithful members of Christ? Far be it from us, that the Grace of Christ should be so lightly esteemed by you. I await your return with great anxiety, so that I may wipe away your sweat after this."

All these efforts, as might have been foreseen, did not[Pg 112] effect peace, so that the committee adjourned August 30, and Melanchthon wrote to Luther September 1: "Three days ago we brought our Conference to a conclusion. We would not accept the proposed terms of Union on the subjects of the one kind in the Sacrament, of the Canon of Private Masses, and also of the Celibacy of the Priesthood. Now the matter has again been laid before the Emperor, and I do not know what will be done. Let us only pray God that he may influence the heart of the Emperor to maintain peace, which we need so much, and not we alone, but all Germany. You cannot believe how the Nurembergers and others hate me on account of the restoration of Jurisdiction to the Bishops. In this manner do our friends merely contend for power, and not for the Gospel. A certain friend wrote: If the Pope had bribed me with never so much money, I could not have invented a better plan to restore the papal supremacy than the one we have taken appears to the people. Yet I have not, up to this time, dropped or given up a single article of doctrine."

Although Melanchthon did really not give up a single doctrinal point, he was yet justly to be blamed for wishing to restore jurisdiction to the Bishops. How soon would they have suppressed the true doctrine! Jerome Baumgärtner, otherwise a friend of Melanchthon, expresses himself very strongly in regard to him: "Philippus has become more childish than a child;" and calls upon Spengler: "You will do your part, and write to Dr. Martin Luther, that he, as the one by whom God first again revealed his word to the world, should put a stop to Philip's course, and should warn the pious princes, and especially his own sovereign, against him, and exhort them to be steadfast. For no man has done more harm to the Gospel during this[Pg 113] Diet, up to the present day, than Philip." This judgment is indeed too severe; and Baumgärtner, at a later period, himself repented of having formed so severe a judgment. It is true, also, that Melanchthon did not only defend Episcopal jurisdiction during the Diet of Augsburg, but has also expressed his approbation of it in a number of places. He did this for the sake of order in the Church.

September 7.—The Emperor summoned the Evangelical States to appear before him. His answer, given by the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick, was an ungracious one. He had heard with displeasure that they disagreed with others in the principal articles. He would speak with the Pope in regard to a General Council, yet on the condition that they would, in the mean time, adhere to the Catholic Church. But the Protestants now behaved like true Protestants, by declaring that they would abide by the word of God. The more moderate Catholics, at the head of whom were the Baron of Truchsess, and Vehus, the Chancellor of Baden, once more made efforts to bring about an accommodation, but without success. There were thirteen articles on which they could not unite. These were delivered to the mediators just mentioned. The first treats of justification through grace by faith in Christ; the second, that works indeed are necessary, but do not earn grace. The third declares that the enumeration of particular sins is not needful in confession; the fourth, that repentance is necessary, but that our sins are not forgiven on this account, but on account of our faith, by which we believe the Gospel; the fifth, declares the ecclesiastical exercises of penance unnecessary for the remission of punishment; and the sixth declares that uniform human ordinances are not, but unity in doctrine and sacrament are needful to constitute a true unity. The seventh rejects the[Pg 114] self-elected service of God, by which men wish to earn his grace, and which has been established without God's command. The eighth declares monastic vows, which men consider meritorious, opposed to the Gospel. The ninth permits the observance of such rules of the Church as may be kept without sin, but not as if they were needful to salvation. The tenth declares the invocation of saints to be a very dangerous practice, and one greatly diminishing the glory of Christ. The eleventh declares that the denial of the cup is opposed to Scripture; and the twelfth, that the prohibition of marriage to priests is also unscriptural. The thirteenth and last article maintains that the mass is not a work with which to earn grace, but that grace is offered in the Lord's Supper, and faith obtains it.

After all attempts to bring about an agreement had been made, the Emperor summoned the States on the 22d of September, in order to present to them the final decree of the Diet. He declared their positions thoroughly refuted by the holy Gospels and other writings, but would give time for further deliberation on the contested points until the 15th of April of the following year. During this time they should not print or sell anything new in matters of faith, should not draw over any one to join their sect, should not oppress those yet holding to the old Christian faith and practice, and unite with him in opposing the Sacramentarians and Anabaptists. He would endeavor to bring about that a General Council would be summoned in six months. The Protestants replied, by Chancellor Brück, that they considered their Confession to be founded on the word of God, and that it was divine truth, so that they trusted to abide by it in the day of judgment. At the same time, Brück also presented a written defence, which the Emperor, however, would not accept. This was the[Pg 115] well-known Apology of the Augsburg Confession, in its rough draft. Melanchthon had been preparing it for some time, with the assistance of several theologians. But as he only received a copy of the Catholic Confutation towards the close of the Diet, he laid this sketch aside, and prepared one of his ablest works, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, which has justly been enrolled among the number of the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. He did not, however, complete it until the following year. The Protestants prayed for a more gracious discharge, but the Emperor adhered firmly to the decree. On this account, the Elector of Saxony, together with Melanchthon and the other theologians, departed from Augsburg September 23d, leaving a few counsellors to hear the general final decree of the Diet.

When Luther heard of the departure of the Elector, he was much rejoiced, and congratulated the prince: "I am heartily rejoiced that your Electoral Grace has, by God's grace, escaped from the hell at Augsburg. And although human displeasure, and its god the devil, may look sour, we still entertain the hope that God's grace, which hath begun with us, will remain more strongly with us in time to come." The Elector passed through Nuremberg to Coburg, where Luther was expecting him with the greatest anxiety. On the road to Wittenberg, the theologians stopped in Altenburg, to visit Spalatin. Melanchthon, who was constantly revolving his Apology of the Augsburg Confession in his mind, wrote even while partaking of his meals. But Luther snatched the pen from his hand, and said: "We can serve God, not only by labor, but also by rest; therefore, too, has he given us the third commandment, and ordained the Sabbath." At last they arrived in Wittenberg. How Melanchthon rejoiced! To[Pg 116] his friend Silberborner, who had asked him for an account of the Diet of Augsburg, he now wrote a detailed letter, in which he expressed himself favorably of the Emperor, e. g.: "Without referring to other matters, he has with great condescension heard our side in this matter of religion, in which he had been excited against us by the many wonderful arts of our enemies." "The remaining history of the Diet constitutes a lengthy tragedy." He now briefly describes the course of events, and says: "The remotest posterity will bear testimony, that our intentions were pious and conscientious, and that we exerted ourselves honestly to clear up the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and to promote the glory of Christ. This truly is the reasonable service of God, with which he is pleased above all things: To teach and practise the word of God in its purity. Even should we be overwhelmed by unfair means, our writings will undoubtedly transmit to posterity a picture of our opponents, who, while they excite princes against us, under the pretext of serving the honor of Christ, neither care for the temple of the Church, nor for the doctrine of the Gospel, nor for the Glorification of the name of Christ. However, the whole matter is in the hand of God. Therefore will we pray to God that, for Christ's sake, he would put mild means in the hands of our rulers, and that he may not suffer the pure doctrines of the Gospel to perish."

On the 19th of November, the final general decree of the Diet was published. It was very severe, for it condemned everything taught by the Lutherans in opposition to the Roman Church; it confounds them with the Anabaptists, and commands that all innovations in doctrine and practice shall be abolished, and the former state of things re-established. The Protestants did not sign it. Thus a division between the Catholic and Evangelical states was fully accomplished.

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The severe decree of the Diet, which even threatened violence, was at least productive of this good result, that it united the Evangelical party more closely. Whereas the theologians, especially Melanchthon, had formerly dissuaded from resistance to the Emperor, matters now took a very different turn. In view of the threatening attitude of the Catholics, the theologians perceived very well that it was necessary to be prepared for defence; and Melanchthon wrote to Camerarius, January 1st, 1531, that they were seldom asked the question now, whether it was right to wage war, and that they did not dissuade from preparation. "For there may be many needful and just causes for defence." One of these causes was the threatening language of the decree of the Diet of Augsburg. The election of the Emperor's brother Ferdinand, as King of Rome, which was strongly urged and accomplished by the Emperor, was another threatening event,[15] although Melanchthon defended it in a special opinion, delivered December 12, 1530. He referred to similar cases in former times. During the month of December of this year, the Evangelical states united more closely, and formed a[Pg 118] league, March 29, 1531. Both Conferences were held in Smalkald. The confederates declared that they had united "for the honor of Almighty God, and the better growth and prosperity of divine free doctrines, and to gain and maintain a Christian and harmonious peace," yet "only for mutual defence and preservation." This league, therefore, neither contemplated an attack, nor war. The Emperor, who was obliged to have his eyes directed to more than one point, and particularly against the Turks, whose Sultan, Solyman, had already declared that he would soon be master of Hungary, and the whole of Germany, considered it most advisable to conciliate, under existing circumstances. The Electors of the Palatinate and of Mentz, acted as mediators.

While Melanchthon had before this time been filled with the most anxious apprehensions, so that he feared the worst, he now said in a letter to Camerarius, when he heard of this mediation: "May God regard the sighs and tears of the distressed among us, and grant us peace!" This wish seemed about to be fulfilled, when the Emperor in Nuremberg made preparations for a Religious Peace. Melanchthon, Luther, and other Theologians, expressed their approbation in a written opinion.

On July 23, 1532, the so-called Religious Peace of Nuremberg was actually agreed to, according to which no State was to give offence to any other, on account of Religion or other matters, until the meeting of a Council, soon to be held; and "that each was to treat the other with true friendship and Christian love." At last a period of rest seemed to have been granted to Melanchthon, that child of peace; but it was not to continue very long. For it was no slight pang to his heart to be called with Luther to Schweinitz, to the death-bed of the Elector John. The[Pg 119] Elector had gone thither to hunt. On the 15th of August he was suddenly attacked by such a severe pain in his head, that he soon lost the power of speech, and remained motionless, and deprived of all sense and feeling, for 28 hours. On Friday, these two men of God, accompanied by Dr. Augustin Schurff, appeared by his bedside; the Elector raised both hands and dropped them again, and breathed his last. On the following Sunday the body of the pious Elector was deposited by the side of that of his brother Frederick. Melanchthon had, in a very touching manner, invited the University to attend the funeral. He said in this letter: "that the departed manifested a truly paternal affection towards his subjects." After Luther's consoling funeral sermon, Melanchthon spoke of the excellent traits of the sainted one in Latin. In his letters, written at this time, he expresses the most cordial wishes in regard to the successor of the departed one, the Elector John Frederick. We have heard of this son, that he trod in the footsteps of his father. He was a man full of zeal for the cause of the Kingdom of God, and, as we shall learn hereafter, honored by the Lord to endure contempt, the robbing of his Electorate, and fetters, for the sake of the Gospel. But he at this time already found opportunity to show the strength of his faith. The Religious Peace of Nuremberg seemed lenient, and even favorable to the Protestants, compared with the final decree of the Diet of Augsburg. It was but too soon apparent that the Catholic States, who had very unwillingly yielded to these concessions, were not pleased with it. For at the Diet of Ratisbon, which was held soon after the Nuremberg Religious Peace, they already wished to grant less to the Evangelical party. Notwithstanding all the assurances of peace, the Emperor entertained no good intentions towards[Pg 120] them. He only postponed matters on account of the perplexing circumstances by which he was surrounded. They were again referred to a general, free, Christian Council, which, according to the announcement, should be held in half a year.

It appears, that in the following year, 1533, Pope Clemens VII. actually took steps towards assembling a Council. For in June he sent a legate, accompanied by an Imperial orator, to the Elector, who then resided in Weimar. Although the Papal Nuncio spoke of a free, general Council, he at the same time took away all liberty with the other hand, by demanding in advance that all should submit to the resolutions of the Council. On the following day the Elector returned a truly Christian and princely answer. He expressed his joy at this offer, but remarked that he could only give a reply after the next meeting in Smalkald. In conclusion, he confessed that his contemporaries and successors should learn: "That his Electoral Grace had not hitherto regarded, and with the help of God would not in all the future days of his life regard anything as being more valuable and worthy of his love, than the pure, saving and blessed word of God, and the true and proper worship of God." The Elector now gathered the opinions of his Theologians, who indeed advised the acceptance of the offer of a Council, but under this condition that no pledge of obedience should be required in advance. In the middle of June, Melanchthon declared himself to the following purpose: "The Pope says, that he would hold a Council, such as have been held in the Church before. Now Councils at the present time are not conducted as the ancient Councils were. For in the ancient Councils they judged according to the word of God." This advice was not forgotten by the Elector, who, together with Duke Ernest and the[Pg 121] Landgrave Philip, delivered an answer to the Nuncio of the Pope and Emperor on the 30th of June, 1533. Of course the Pope, who was merely dissembling, suffered the matter to remain as it was.

While the Evangelical party was held in an attitude of suspense, they could still cultivate and spread the cause of the Lord. It increased in popularity, and spread more and more. The Reformers, and Melanchthon particularly, did not omit to labor in their official capacity and by their writings. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, already mentioned, is one of Philip's master-pieces; and as one of the Confessions of our Church, deserves to be studied and taken to heart. He concludes its Preface in the following words: "We have, thanks be unto God! the testimony of many distinguished, honest, sincere, and pious persons, who heartily thank God for his unspeakable gifts and mercies, that they have received far more correct, certain and clearer instruction in the most needful portions of the entire Scriptures, as well as consolation for their consciences, than is to be found in all the books of our adversaries. Therefore, should this discovered, clear truth be trodden under the feet of men, we commend our cause to Christ and God in heaven, who is the Father of widows and orphans, and the Judge of all the forsaken; he, we know with certainty, will consider this matter, and judge righteously; and thou, Lord Jesus, it is thy holy Gospel, it is thy cause: wilt thou regard so many troubled hearts and consciences, thy churches and little flocks, which suffer terror and distress from the devil, and also preserve and establish thy truth? Bring to nought all hypocrisy and lies, and thus give peace and unity, that thy honor may advance, and thy kingdom may flourish and increase without ceasing against the gates of hell."

[Pg 122]In September, 1532, he published a new edition of his explanation of the Epistle to the Romans. It is a matter of great surprise that he dedicated this volume to Archbishop Albert of Mentz, who had not gained much honor in the matter of indulgences. This man is reported to have trampled the book beneath his feet, and to have said: "The man is possessed by St. Valentine." But it is well known that he sent a very costly present to the scholar at Wittenberg, for which Melanchthon, who regarded it as sincere, returned his most friendly thanks January 5th, 1533. He enjoyed so great a reputation as a scholar, that even the Archbishop of Mentz, who wished to be considered a patron of the arts and sciences, saw himself compelled to do honor to Melanchthon. His distinguished reputation elicited repeated invitations from abroad. It was, no doubt, not a very difficult matter for him to decline a call to Poland, in the year 1534; but it must have been difficult when Duke Ulrich of Würtemberg, who had been banished from his dukedom for a long time, but had now regained it by the help of the landgrave Philip of Hesse, invited Melanchthon to reform the University of Tübingen according to the principles of the Reformation. But his attachment to Saxony, and his field of labor there, was so great, that he declined this call from Würtemberg. The Elector was so highly pleased with this, that he himself wrote a letter to his Professor, praising him for his fidelity, and assuring him of his favor.

[Pg 123]



The reigning King of France, Francis I., as well as King Henry VIII., of England, were little pleased with the victorious advances of the Emperor. Francis had waged war against him some years before this, but was completely vanquished, and taken prisoner, at the battle of Pavia, 1525. He was, indeed, liberated upon certain conditions, after one year of captivity; but inveterate enmity remained, for Francis had suffered great losses. It was to be expected that such a man would unite with the enemies of the Emperor at the first good opportunity. He recognized an ally in the League of Smalkald, which was daily assuming a more decided form. But the principles of this League were quite different, for it aimed principally to secure spiritual rights, while the King of France was merely prompted by ambition.

But the Reformation had also penetrated into France, and he may have thought that it would be expedient to do something in reference to ecclesiastical matters. He was persuaded to this by his minister, William Bellay, his brother John Bellay, Bishop of Paris, and particularly also by John Sturm, of Strasburg, who was favorably disposed towards the Reformation. These men endeavored to gain over the King for the cause of the Reformation, and recommended the amiable Melanchthon to him, who was already known to him, and also highly esteemed by Queen[Pg 124] Margaret of Navarre.[16] When the King sent an ambassador, Barnabas Voræus Fossa, to Germany, in 1534, in order to unite with the Evangelical States, Bellay, the minister, requested the man of peace, Melanchthon, to state, in a written opinion, in what way a union might be brought about between the divided parties. He complied with this request, and on the first of August sent a very conciliatory opinion to the minister, in which he gave prominence to eight articles. In the first, he grants outward power to the Pope and the Bishops, provided "they do not abuse their power to suppress the true doctrine." In the second, that it would be easy to agree about non-essentials, such as meats, holidays, dress of the priests, and similar ceremonies, provided there would be uniformity in doctrine. In the third, he expresses himself in favor of retaining Confession, but without the superstitious enumeration of sins. In the fourth, he treats of Justification. It is now generally conceded that faith in Christ is necessary. It is necessary to insist upon it, that a man is justified by faith. In the fifth, he speaks of the Mass. This is an almost inextricable knot. He declares himself opposed to secret masses, and demands both kinds in the Sacrament. In the sixth, he speaks of the Invocation of Saints. This is opposed to Scripture. Yet he proposes the following form, after the pattern of ancient forms in the Church: "Grant, O God, that they may be assisted[Pg 125] by the prayers of the Saints." In the seventh, he says of Convents, that it is not necessary utterly to destroy them, but that it was rather to be preferred that they should become schools, as they formerly were. Yet no one ought to be detained in a convent against his will. In reference to the Celibacy of the clergy, he says, in the eighth, that the Pope ought to abolish it. They might select unmarried men for the highest dignities. It would be possible to come to an agreement on all the articles, with the exception of the one on the Mass. After adding: "Let us beseech Christ, that he would in mercy regard and lead back to a cordial true unity, the Church for which he prayed and suffered," he says, that he had only written these things, in order that learned men might jointly deliberate upon such important matters.

It was a long time before anything was heard of the effect of this Opinion. However, at last, in the month of March, 1535, John Sturm broke this silence in a manner not very agreeable to the friends of the Reformation. The king was highly incensed against the friends of these novelties, who seemed to him to check a too rapid advance. He even permitted his rage to lead him to burn several of them.[17] Very little could be hoped for the kingdom of[Pg 126] God, from a man of this character. However, Sturm strongly urged Melanchthon to come to France, because the king reposed the greatest confidence in him, and called himself his pupil. On the 22d of April, Melanchthon wrote a suppliant letter to Bishop Bellay, that he would exert his influence to arrest the persecution. In his reply to Sturm, on May 4th, he said that he had never found it more difficult to decide in any matter, than in reference to this journey to France. "But you must not think that I am restrained by domestic ties, or that I fear any danger. For nothing human is so important in my eyes, that I would not prefer the honor of Christ, the salvation of so many of the righteous, and the peace of the Church, to it. But I am thinking of, and exceedingly troubled by this one apprehension, that I am doubtful whether I would indeed accomplish any good by going." At the close of the letter, he advises that the king, if he desired to do anything for the honor of Christ, and the peace of the Church, should be earnestly entreated to convene a council, in order to discuss the affairs of the Church. He would attend this, provided he could obtain the permission of his sovereign. But what happened? What, indeed, he did not think of in the remotest degree. The king addressed him in a most friendly letter, on June 23. The French Ambassador delivered this letter in person, which closes in the following manner: "Your coming will give me great pleasure, whether you come as a private individual, or in the name of the Evangelical states." At the same time Bellay, who had been made a Cardinal in the meantime, and Sturm, pressed him to come, and gave him the strongest assurances of a happy result. The latter concluded[Pg 127] his lengthy letter in the following manner: "I exhort, yea, I conjure you, in the name of Christ, not to neglect this opportunity to further the best of causes among men." Towards the end of the month of July, Melanchthon left Wittenberg on account of the appearance of the plague, and with some other teachers resided in Jena, until the middle of February. When he had received such a pressing invitation to come to France, and also a safe-conduct, he proceeded to Torgau, where the Elector was sojourning at the time, and in writing applied for leave of absence for two or three months. Luther also seconded Master Philip's application, by a most earnest petition. He said: "May it please your Grace to permit M. Philip to venture for these three months, trusting to the grace of God. Who knows what it may please God to do, whose thoughts are at all times higher and better than our own? As for myself, too, it would pain me that so many pious hearts, who so anxiously call, and certainly expect M. Philip, should be disappointed, and might also be led to entertain evil thoughts concerning us." But the Elector was of a different opinion. He understood King Francis' relation to the Emperor at this time, far too well, to be anxious unnecessarily to excite the suspicions of the latter against himself. He therefore refused the request of his petitioner. Perhaps he also entertained the opinion, not altogether without foundation too, that Melanchthon might yield too much, "which would displease many, and do great harm to the Gospel." He said to Dr. Brück, in the most positive manner: "We are determined, once for all, that Philip shall not go with our permission and good will, even if we should, in consequence, lose his services altogether."

When Melanchthon, therefore, applied again for leave,[Pg 128] a severe decree of the Elector was handed to him, in which he was told that he should not, as a good subject, have meddled in this matter, without the knowledge of the Elector. No good, but rather evil, was to be expected from such a journey. "But if, over and above all these considerations, you think that you cannot omit this journey conscientiously, we must in such a case suffer you to take your own way, and to gratify your own will; and it remains for you to decide what you will do under these circumstances." The Elector also sent a letter of apology to King Francis, stating why he could not, under present circumstances, permit Philip to go. But at some future time, if Philip's services could be dispensed with, and the present difficulties and apprehensions should cease, he would permit him to visit France.

On the 28th of August, Melanchthon himself wrote to King Francis, expressing his regrets that he was not permitted to visit France at this time, and praying the King most earnestly not to suffer himself to be led, by the severe judgments and writings of some persons, to destroy things that were really good and useful for the Church. He also excused himself in letters to Bellay the Minister, and to John Sturm, and expressed himself in rather strong terms in regard to the Elector. To Camerarius, to whom he was in the habit of opening his whole heart, he wrote, August 31, that he feared that the prince had been estranged from him by the efforts of evil-minded persons; and in a letter to Spalatin, he said: "His most serene Highness prevents me from taking a journey to France. And besides this, he gave me a very severe reply, although I am willing to stay at home, and take no delight in these French Conferences." This caused him great sorrow for several weeks, until he met the Elector in October, and[Pg 129] saw that he was as friendly towards him as ever. He was also more and more convinced in his own mind that his journey to France would not have accomplished the good he expected. Francis was a politician, and he merely regarded religion as a means to gratify his ambition. For when the Sorbonne in Paris pronounced Melanchthon's opinion heretical, he fully agreed with this sentence.

Thus this matter terminated. The case of Henry VIII. of England was a similar one. He is well known on account of his attack upon Luther, for which the Pope gave him the title of "A Defender of the Faith." It is also well known what a scandalous, adulterous life he led. It was such a marriage matter which at this time separated him from Rome, and brought him nearer to the Evangelical States. He wished to be divorced from his wife Catharine, who was an aunt of the Emperor Charles. As the Pope would not comply with his request, Henry renounced all allegiance to the Pope, and proclaimed himself the Supreme Bishop of the Church of England. This happened in the year 1534. We learn from a letter to Camerarius, that during this year Henry had invited Melanchthon twice to come to England. The King was anxious to settle his matrimonial matters, and to enter into a union with the Evangelical States. He therefore sent a special envoy, Anthony Barnes, who came to Wittenberg March 11, 1535, to enter into a negotiation. Melanchthon, who believed that he could and should embrace this opportunity to recommend and promote the truth, wrote to the King two days after this, in which he most earnestly commends the cause of the Gospel to him. He even dedicated the second edition of his Loci Communes to the King, in a most winning letter. Henry esteemed this honor highly, and sent him 200 gold florins, with a very gracious letter,[Pg 130] in which he calls Melanchthon his "dearest friend," and signs himself: "Your friend Henry, King." In September we again find Dr. Barnes in Wittenberg. In the matter of divorce he had not found the Wittenbergians favorably disposed. But now he also came to negotiate concerning doctrine, and to ask leave of absence for Melanchthon, that he might visit England. The Elector, whose sagacity in this matter cannot be denied, understood very well that Henry was merely anxious to unite with the Evangelical party from impure motives, particularly his matrimonial matters; and therefore in his letter to the English envoy gave his permission to hold a Religious Conference, but did not permit Melanchthon to go to England, because he could not spare this Professor, owing to the breaking out of the plague in Wittenberg, by which the Professors had been dispersed. In December, the religious negotiations were commenced with the utmost zeal. Besides Barnes, Bishop Fox, and Archdeacon Heyth or Hethe, had also arrived. These negotiations were carried on in Wittenberg. On this account Melanchthon, who then resided at Jena, was obliged to go to Wittenberg, January 15, 1536. The marriage difficulty continued to occupy the foreground, but the Wittenbergians would not accommodate themselves to the views of the Englishmen. As to doctrine, the articles of the mass and the marriage of priests continued to be the points on which they could not agree. February 11th, Melanchthon returned to Wittenberg. The negotiations were continued until the end of April, without arriving at any definite result. But gradually all hopes of an Evangelical change of doctrine and worship in England disappeared, and Melanchthon entirely relinquished his desire to visit England, as he says to Camerarius in a letter, June 9: "I am perfectly freed from my anxiety about that English journey."

[Pg 131]



We have already mentioned that the division of the Evangelical party, in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, was not beneficial to the good cause of the Reformation. On this account, the Landgrave Philip of Hesse had made an earnest effort to bring about a union between the Germans and the Swiss in Marburg. He did not relinquish his hope of such a union, and made efforts to effect it at the Diet of Augsburg. One of the ablest divines of this period was the preacher and professor, Martin Bucer of Strasburg, born in Schlettstadt in Alsace, in the year 1491, and gained over to the side of the Gospel in the year 1518, by means of Luther's Discussion in Heidelberg. This man made it the task of his life to bring about a union in the doctrine of the Sacrament. For this purpose he had visited Luther in Coburg as early as 1530, and had found him inclined to union. Soon after, he published a confession of the four upper German cities, Augsburg, Constance, Lindau, and Memmingen, in which he closely approximated the Lutheran doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Luther and Melanchthon were highly pleased with this, and the latter wrote to Bucer, January 22d, 1531, that he would write to him, although he was troubled by a fever at the time. "I saw the grounds of your union, and greatly rejoiced that you admit a presence of the body of Christ with the soul. But I do not see why you are so[Pg 132] strongly opposed to admit a presence with the sign also." Luther expressed himself to the same purpose, and was very much surprised that Bucer represented Zwingli and Oecolampadius as holding the same view. He, therefore, expressed himself in favor of a postponement of the Form of Concord, although he confessed that he would rather lose his life thrice, if this dispute could be settled. It seems that Bucer said in several places that the differences which had hitherto prevented a union were mere trifles. Luther, therefore, in a letter to the town council of Augsburg in 1533, declared that he did not agree with the ministers there, who only presented mere bread and wine to the people. In a letter of the year 1534, "To a good friend concerning his book of secret masses," he expressly declares: "I believe, and do not doubt, that in the Lord's Supper, under the form of bread is the true body of Christ given for us to the cross; under the form of wine is the true blood of Christ shed for us, and that this body and blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is not only received by the holy and worthy, but that sinners and unworthy persons truly receive it in a bodily manner." But Bucer did not give up his efforts to bring about a union on this account, and especially endeavored to gain over Melanchthon, who, in a letter of October 10th, 1533, assures him of his love, and promises to use his utmost endeavors to bring about such a union. In September, 1534, the indefatigable Bucer published a Form of Concord. On the 16th of September, Melanchthon wrote to Erhard Schnepf and the Landgrave Philip, who was deeply interested in this matter, that he had spoken of this Form with Luther that very day; and that he was satisfied with it, provided Bucer believed what his words expressed. For Bucer confesses that, in the reception of the bread and wine, Christ[Pg 133] is truly and essentially present. Melanchthon adds, "I would not require more." He relied much upon the Landgrave in this matter, exhorted him to act promptly, and added concerning himself: "All that I am able to do, in order to bring about a Christian unity, I am willing to do with all my heart, and know of no more agreeable task in the world. May God add his blessing!" The Landgrave was now anxious that Bucer and Melanchthon should meet in Cassel. Luther agreed to this, although he did not entertain great expectations of the result of such a meeting, and gave written instructions to Melanchthon, pointing out the basis upon which a union might be established. This document contains seven propositions: one of which demands, that it should not be said that they had not understood each other before; and another, that no middle meaning should be invented, as if, for instance, the opponents should say the true body of Christ is present, and the Lutherans should say that nothing is eaten but the bread. Luther said in this matter: "God is my witness, that if it were possible, I would gladly give my body and blood to put away this disunion." He here expressed himself in a very conciliatory and tolerating manner towards those who entertained different views of the Lord's Supper, and concluded with a decided confession concerning the Lord's Supper, that the body of Christ is truly eaten in and with the bread. Melanchthon also at this time expressed his views of this important doctrine to the Landgrave, and in it declares: "That the body and blood of Christ, that is, Christ essentially, and not figuratively, are truly in the bread and wine. But here we must cast aside those thoughts which our reason proposes, such as, how does Christ ascend and descend, conceal himself in the bread, and is in no other place."

[Pg 134]About the 12th of December, Melanchthon travelled to Cassel, to negotiate a Form of Concord with Bucer. Bucer had a short time before met with several ministers from upper Germany, in Constance, who fully coincided in his views of the Lord's Supper. The Landgrave took a deep interest in the matter, and treated the Wittenberg envoy in the most friendly manner. Here Bucer, with the upper Germans, expressed his opinion to the following effect:—"That we receive the body of Christ essentially and truly when we receive the Sacrament, and that bread and wine are signs, with which, when they are dispensed and received, the body of Christ is given and received at the same time." He further said, "that the body and the bread are thus united, not by a mingling of their essence, but as a Sacrament, and that which is given together with the Sacrament." With a doctrine thus approximating, together with the declaration, that the opposite side would abide by the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, Melanchthon returned from Cassel January 9th, 1535. Luther was highly pleased with it, so that he remarked: "As for my own person, I do not know how I could reject such a Form of Concord." Yet he advised that this Concord should not be finally arranged at once, but that it would be best to wait a while longer, because these differences were so great and wide-spread. We must notice here that Melanchthon returned in favor of Bucer's views. He shows this very distinctly in a letter to Camerarius; and in a letter to Brenz, who was opposed to a Concord, he remarked, that they were not treating with persons who denied the Trinity and other articles. With such he would have nothing to do, but would look upon them as persons who ought to be condemned. He confesses the true presence to him, yet with a leaning towards Bucer, and remarks[Pg 135] that uniformity could be brought about. Letters arrived from every side, declaring how gladly all would unite with the Wittenbergers in the Lord's Supper. So also did they write from Augsburg, to whom Luther wrote: "If this Form of Concord is established, I will sing with tears of joy: Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. For I will leave peace in the Church, that is, the glory of God, the punishment of the devil, and vengeance upon all enemies and adversaries." Such encouraging letters also came from Strasburg, Ulm, and Esslingen, which filled Luther with great joy. He remarked to the Strasburgers, that it would also be necessary to interest the princes and cities in this matter. As to the time, it would scarcely be possible to hold the conference before next Easter. The Elector would be requested to appoint the place of meeting. He also expressed his cordial wishes to the preacher, Shelling, in Strasburg, towards the close of December: "I have received your letter with pleasure, and assure you that I am just as anxious for the Concord as I observe you to be. Let Him bear witness whom no one can deceive. Therefore pray God, as we also do, that this union, which, thanks to God, is prospering better and better, may at last be fully established. May God not be merciful to me, if anything is wanting on my part, or if I lay difficulties in the way; so anxious am I that peace should be restored to the Church before my death." Melanchthon had written to the ministers in Augsburg: "I would willingly endanger my life to promote this Concord, and I trust that the way is already prepared for it. May Christ rule and guide the designs of the godly." Thus the two leaders were warmly in favor of the Form of Concord. The place was also appointed, the Elector selecting Eisenach. But all at once, Melanchthon began to fear[Pg 136] that greater divisions might be brought about by this conference, as he writes to the Landgrave of Hesse in April: "Now I have all the time feared, if this should be held at this time, that some rigorous individuals might attend, and thus more disunion and offence than improvement would be the consequence." He then goes on to say that no negotiations should be undertaken without the presence of the Landgrave and the other princes and States, and that, on the whole, too great haste should be avoided. His concern may have been caused by an epistle sent forth at this time by Zwingli and Oecolampadius, which could not promote unity. This was prefaced too by a letter of Bucer, who praised these men on account of their orthodoxy. On this account Melanchthon was so anxious, and feared that it would only increase discord. "This disease," he wrote to Veit Dietrich on the 15th of May, "cannot be healed suddenly. But I beseech God in mercy to look upon the Church, and to deliver it from all offences."

Notwithstanding all this, the Conference was held. But because Luther suffered great bodily pain at this time, and could not go to Eisenach, he proposed Grimma, which was nearer. Melanchthon was already on the way thither, when Bucer, with his friends Capito and Wohlfahrt, called Lycosthenes, arrived in Wittenberg, May 21, 1536.

Luther was not greatly pleased with their coming, for he had read the epistle already mentioned, and thought that the opposite party were not seeking a sincere union. However, this does not seem to have been the case, for on the road to Wittenberg they had visited Frederick Myconius at Gotha, who soon led them to converse on the Lord's Supper, and found them inclined to unite with the Wittenbergers upon a proper basis. This he relates in a detailed narrative of the proceedings of the Convention.[Pg 137] Menius also had understood this to be the case, and they both informed Luther and Melanchthon of it. Early on the 22d of May, Bucer and Capito visited Luther, but the convention did not begin until three o'clock in the afternoon. One side was represented by Luther, Pomeranus, Jonas, Cruciger, Melanchthon, Menius, Myconius, Weller, and Rorarius; the other merely by Bucer and Capito. Bucer opened the meeting by a lengthy address, in which he particularly expressed his joy on account of this Conference, and stated that this was now the fourth year that he had been laboring to bring about a union. Luther replied, and expressed his disapprobation of the epistle of Zwingli and Oecolampadius, prefaced by a letter from Bucer, which did not at all agree with this union. He believed it would be better to leave matters as they were, than to make this business, which is already bad enough, a hundred times worse by a fictitious form of concord. This of course greatly perplexed Bucer; but in a long speech he again declared that there was no deception in the case, but that the Upper Germans had fully expressed their sentiments, and that the said epistle had been printed against his will, yea, even against his express injunctions; and that his own letter had been written to others during the previous year, and had not been intended for publication. Luther now, in his reply, demanded that they should, first of all, publicly recant their previous opinion as incorrect; and secondly, that they would henceforth teach in unison with the Wittenbergers. He began to explain this doctrine at length; but, during this address, he became so feeble, that he was obliged to desist. They did not resume the conference until three o'clock in the afternoon of the next day. Luther insisted upon the two points referred to yesterday, and requested an answer from them.[Pg 138] Bucer consented to recant, and confessed in his own name and that of the Swiss, that the bread in the Lord's Supper is truly the body of Christ, and that the wine is truly the blood of Christ; and that the body and blood of Christ, namely, the natural, essential body, are received, not only by the heart, but with the mouth of those who receive it, if worthily, unto salvation, but if unworthily, unto damnation. His friends also, upon Luther's inquiry, expressed themselves to be of the same opinion, and earnestly requested that they might be received in a brotherly manner into such a union, as members of Christ. This was done, and Luther, as Myconius says, assured them of it "with great fervor and joy, which was visible also in his eyes and entire countenance."

The same narrator proceeds to say, that it made so great an impression upon the whole assembly, that "Capito and Bucer began to weep, and we, on both sides, thanked God with clasped hands and devout gestures." Melanchthon, who was known to be peculiarly skilful in preparing a Form of Concord, was commissioned to draw it up, which he cheerfully did. On the 29th of May, this Form was signed by both parties. In the first article it declares, that there are two things in the holy sacrament, a heavenly and earthly; and that the body and blood of Christ are really and essentially present with the bread and wine, and are thus presented and received. In the second article they reject the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation; and in the third, they declare that the body and blood of Christ are also truly presented to the unworthy," but unto condemnation. They had also agreed in regard to Baptism and Absolution.

Thus was the concord established with the gracious assistance of God. It caused great joy among the Lutherans[Pg 139] in every quarter, and declarations of approbation were sent to Wittenberg from many sides, and even the Swiss partially acceded to it. All were of course not satisfied; for instance, Amsdorf, who was not at all pleased with the Form of Concord. But Melanchthon rejoiced most of all; for he now discovered that the fears which had troubled him so much were groundless. He from henceforth continued to abide by the Wittenberg Form of Concord.



After the completion of this work, Melanchthon felt desirous of carrying out a plan of a journey for recreation, which he had formed a long time before. Whither did he wish to go? To no other place but his home. He therefore, on the 17th of July, 1536, addressed a petition to the Elector: "I would, in all humility, inform your Electoral Grace, that there are some matters in which my poor children are also concerned, which I ought to settle with my brother, and which cannot be done through other persons, or by letter. In addition to this, Magister Camerarius, who is now dangerously ill, has expressed a strong desire to see me. I would therefore humbly pray your Grace to grant me, and Magister Milichius,[18] whose father[Pg 140] has earnestly entreated him to visit him, leave of absence to visit our homes for about five weeks." Already on the following day, he and Milichius received a gracious permission from the Elector, and also at the same time permission to make use of a one-horse carriage belonging to the Elector.

But when he was about to depart, important difficulties arose, which made it necessary to postpone his intended journey. Pope Paul III., who had ascended the Papal chair at the death of Clement VII., seemed to be in earnest about summoning a General Council of the Church. The Emperor had held the opinion since 1530, that a General Council must be held, if harmony was to be restored to Germany. But Pope Clement was never in earnest in the matter; and even the Papal Nuncio, Paul Vergerius, seems only to have gone to Wittenberg in order to deceive. But now it had a different appearance. Pope Paul had already published a bull, June 2d, 1536, calling a Council to meet at Mantua, on the 23d of May, of the following year. But it offered no hopeful prospect, for it said, among other things: "Not only to exterminate all heresy and error from the vineyard of the Lord, and to improve the morals of the Christian Church by such holy and wholesome medicine, but also to effect a general peace and unity among all Christian believers, and to reconquer our kingdom and lands by a general crusade against the Unbelievers." It proceeds in the same tone. The Lutherans could not greatly rejoice in a Council which was to accomplish such things. It was generally reported at this time, that a Papal Nuncio would come to Saxony; and it was of importance to know how he was to be received. We may easily understand that the Elector was not disposed to meet him in the most friendly manner.[Pg 141] However, he requested the opinions of the divines and jurists in Wittenberg. They replied that it would only be possible to consent to a Council, under certain conditions. Let us hear what principles were expressed in Melanchthon's opinion. He thought that it would be best, if the Council could be prevented, for the Pope evidently had no other intention than to condemn the Protestants. That they had a perfect right to protest against the Council, but as they had continually appealed to such an one, it would now bring "disgrace" upon the Protestants, if they should fly from it. Neither he, nor the other Wittenbergers, would permit the Pope to be judge in this General Council of the Church. However, the Elector differed altogether from the temperate views expressed in these opinions. He held, that the Council summoned by the Pope was neither a free nor general one, and that it ought not to be attended to; he even thought that an opposition Council should be called, in which nothing should be transacted "but what is founded in divine and holy Scripture, and drawn up in accordance with it."

While matters were in this state, Melanchthon began his journey August 23, with Professor Milich, who wished to visit his home, Freiburg in the Brisgau. They passed through Frankfort and Bretten, to Tübingen, where his most faithful friend Camerarius had received an appointment a year before. We may easily imagine what a cordial reception he met with here. From Tübingen he wrote to Milich: "By God's grace, Joachim is now quite well. Oh, that it might be of long duration! I was received in the most friendly manner." He remained three weeks in Tübingen, and could scarcely separate himself from Camerarius, and therefore remarks in a letter, that he would rather be with his Joachim than anywhere else. "But I[Pg 142] do not see how I can separate myself from those with whom I have hitherto associated." He thus again declined the renewed invitation of Duke Ulrich of Wurtemberg, to accept a professorship there. The learned from every quarter came to Tübingen, to see and to converse with Melanchthon. When these were assembled at a dinner upon a certain occasion, in the house of Phrygio, Melanchthon asked the preacher Zell, of Strasburg, what he thought of the Lord's Supper? He honestly replied: "When God the Lord permitted me to arrive at a knowledge of his holy Gospel, I never believed, taught, and preached otherwise in regard to the Lord's Supper, but that the true body and the true blood of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, are offered to all those who receive and partake of the Lord's Supper. But as for believing that I must receive the body and blood in the Lord's Supper, substantialiter, essentialiter, realiter, naturaliter, præsentialiter, localiter, corporaliter, transubstantialiter, quantitative, qualitative, ubiqualiter, carnaliter, I believe the devil has brought these words from hell. Christ simply said, 'This is my body, this is my blood.'" Melanchthon replied, in a pleasant manner: "You have given a correct answer." On the 14th of October, he went to Nürtingen, and there consulted with the Duke about the arrangement of the University. From this place he wrote an encouraging letter to the professors of the University, in which he assures them that the Duke entertained the kindest feelings towards the University, and looked upon it as one of the most important institutions of the state.

The Duke commissioned Melanchthon to write to Brenz at Hall, to induce him to accept a professorship in the University. Melanchthon discharged this honorable duty on the 17th of October. He entreated Brenz in the most[Pg 143] earnest manner, in the name of the Duke, to accept of the appointment at least for one year, until a suitable person could be found. Yea, he conjured him for the sake of Christ and the good of the Church, and said that he would go himself, if the Elector of Saxony would suffer him to go for a time. "But," he adds, "I cannot preach, and therefore would be of little use in such a situation." Brenz actually accepted the call, and received the permission of his government for this purpose. The Duke dismissed Melanchthon in the most friendly manner, and presented him with one hundred gold florins. He journeyed through Göppingen and Ellwangen to Nuremberg, where a circle of devoted friends resided, such as Baumgärtner, Ebner, Dietrich, Roting, Osiander, and others. A dispute concerning Private Confession was carried on here at this time. Andrew Osiander was involved in it. He adhered to this ancient and established custom of the Church, whilst others maintained that forgiveness of sins was to be sought in preaching, in the general Confession, and in the Sacrament. Osiander granted that forgiveness was also granted in preaching, but did not wish the servant of Christ immediately to say: I absolve thee from thy sins, without knowing who should be bound and who absolved. He feared confusion, because the wicked man might thus falsely comfort himself with absolution; and he called this absolution juggling. Against this last, Melanchthon declared himself in writing and verbally, for he understood very well that absolution "is effectual to those who receive it with true faith, and comfort themselves with it,"—"although others are present to whom the absolution does not apply. These, however, are reminded and excluded by the condition of repentance." It was, however, also his opinion[Pg 144] that efforts should be made to re-establish Private Confession more and more in future. At the same time he modestly suggests that others also "who have more knowledge," should give their opinion in this matter. From Nuremberg he wrote to Camerarius, and revealed his troubles in regard to these disputes: "Oh that this evil might be remedied! I am oppressed and consumed by private and public cares. Therefore I so earnestly long for your company, with whom I somewhat refreshed myself. I am most painfully troubled about these disputes, by which, as is very evident, Churches and States are rent. Therefore we will withdraw from all such disputes, and devote all our zeal to the education of youth, and to form their judgment, so that, as much as possible, we may provide for posterity. I shall exert myself more and more to instil moderate and useful principles into the minds of the young, and to restrain them from such foolish disputes."

While he was thus pouring forth his sorrows, he himself was threatened with a great trial in Wittenberg. A preacher named Conrad Cordatus, of Niemegk, a zealous adherent of Luther, had been present at a lecture, delivered by Cruciger towards the end of July, 1536. In this, Cruciger expressed the opinion that in the article of Justification, good works are the condition, without which we cannot be saved. Cordatus was greatly and properly shocked at this, for such a form of expression was totally opposed to the doctrine of the Lutheran Church. In the following month he wrote to Cruciger, to call him to account, on account of this wrong doctrine. The professor did not reply. Cordatus wrote again, threatening that he would not be silent until he should hear a recantation of this heresy. If[Pg 145] this should not be done, he would apply to the theological faculty for a decision. He also said that there were many trifling Theologians in Wittenberg, who would rather read and hear the dead Erasmus than the living Luther. Now Cruciger replied, and defended his views. On the 17th of September, Cordatus came to Wittenberg, and visited Cruciger. He here heard that what he had read concerning the Gospel of John was the work of Melanchthon, who, as Ratzeberger relates, in a manner composed their lectures for the professors. "For no labor was distasteful to Philip, and he served every one cheerfully." The next day Cordatus went to Luther, and presented the whole matter to him. Luther replied: "You are not the first to inform me of this. Michael Stiefel and Amsdorf have already asked me about it." It is not known how much more was spoken and resolved, although it seems that Luther labored to suppress the difficulty. Melanchthon's journey of recreation was not a little embittered, for he received the news of this occurrence in Wittenberg. Even while yet upon the road he found it necessary to write to Luther, Bugenhagen, Jonas, and Cruciger, in which he at length justifies his manner of teaching. He says: "I never wished, and in this particular point of dispute, I have never taught anything else but what you all together unite in teaching." He declared that many had fallen into the opinion, especially on account of this proposition—"We are justified by faith alone," that we are justified by the new life, or the gifts communicated to us.

Hence arose the question: If we are only acceptable by Grace, wherefore is the new life required? Although he highly praised good works, he yet distinctly states that they are neither the price nor the merit of eternal life.[Pg 146] He prayed for Christ's sake that they should be convinced concerning him; that he had taught thus with the best intentions, and not on account of stubbornness of opinion. He had never wished to hold opinions different from their own, and if they wished to make him suspected and estranged, he would rather remove far away from them. Cordatus already circulated the report that Melanchthon would return to Wittenberg no more. But on the 5th of November, a few days after his letter, he arrived, and almost the first thing he did was to write a friendly and conciliatory letter to his accuser, in which he reminds him of old friendship, and says that he should have spoken to him first of all, if he found anything reprehensible in him. He concludes thus: "This cause, in which we are engaged, is not our own, but Christ's, whose glory I truly desire to serve." Cordatus had raised considerable excitement, which spread even to the Court of the Elector. Towards the end of December, Cordatus referred the decision of this matter to Jonas, then Rector of the University, who had already besought him to desist from the accusation. Another event, however, put a stop to this disagreeable matter for the present.

[Pg 147]



We have before referred to the proceedings instituted by the Elector, when he received notice that Pope Paul III. was about to convene a Council at Mantua. The Evangelical States appointed a meeting at Smalkald, February 7, 1537, in order to deliberate whether they should accept the invitation to attend the Papal diet or not. The Elector, at the same time, as Luther informs us, commissioned him "to arrange articles of our doctrine, in order to see if it should come to this, what and how much we could and would yield to the Papists, and which we finally intend to adhere to." This led to the so-called "Smalkald Articles," which were very properly adopted among the Confessional writings of the Lutheran Church. When he had completed this work, the Theologians from abroad, Amsdorf, Agricola, and Spalatin, met with Luther and Melanchthon in Wittenberg, in order to discuss these articles before they should be delivered at the meeting at Smalkald. This document contains three parts. The first relates to the doctrines of the Divine Majesty, in which both parties were agreed. The second part treats of the articles "which refer to the office and work of Jesus Christ, or our Salvation." 1. It speaks of Justification by Faith alone. "From this article," it declares, "we cannot move or let anything fall, if heaven and earth should fall."[Pg 148] 2. They treat of the Mass and Invocation of Saints. 3. Of charitable foundations and convents. And 4. Of the Papacy. The third part included the doctrines of Sin, of the Law, Repentance, of the erroneous repentance of the Papists, of the Gospel, of Baptism, of the Sacrament of the Altar, of the Keys, of Confession, of Excommunication, of Ordination and Vocation, of the Marriage of the Priests, of the Church, of Justification and good works, of Monastic Vows, and Human Ordinances. Luther says, "These are the articles to which I must and will adhere until I die, if it pleases God; and I know of nothing in them that I can alter or yield. But if any one wishes to yield anything, let him do it upon his conscience."

These articles, which are composed with a truly Lutheran vigor, were highly approved of by the Theologians. They subscribed them in Wittenberg. Melanchthon also signed them, and added these remarks: "I, Philip Melanchthon, also consider the above articles right and Christian. But concerning the Pope, I hold, that his superiority over the Bishops, which he otherwise possesses, should also be conceded by us, jure humano, (according to human right,) on account of the peace and unity of those Christians who now yield obedience to him, and may do so in time to come." Luther had disputed this human right of the Pope, in the article on the Papacy; and surely not without good reason. For a Pope, as he was now presupposed by Melanchthon, had never existed in any place. If he accepted the Gospel, he was no longer Pope; he could not longer be Pope. It was clearly an erroneous yielding to the powers on the opposing side, and must be explained by Melanchthon's timidity, as is manifested in his letter to Veit Dietrich, January 20: "When I think of the Convention, and of the terrible conflicts, which, I[Pg 149] believe, will arise there, I shudder all over my body." The Elector was highly pleased with Luther's articles, and did not agree with Melanchthon's view of the Pope; for he saw very well that they would by this expose themselves to future suppression and extermination.

Towards the end of January, Luther, Melanchthon, and Bugenhagen, departed for Smalkald, although Melanchthon's health was seriously affected. They passed through Torgau, Altenburg, and Weimar. In the latter city, Luther preached before the retinue of the Papal Nuncio. He was not afraid to complain that the kings and bishops hated the Evangelical party more than the Turks. On the 7th of February they arrived at Smalkald, and eight days after this the Convention was opened. But they had not been here long, when Luther became very ill with violent pains of the stone. Immediately every attention was paid by the physicians of the princes, but in vain. Luther begged Melanchthon to send for Dr. Sturz, of Erfurt, in whom he reposed great confidence. Philip wrote to him: "I beseech you to come at once, and do not fail, when such a man is in danger." He took Luther's illness much to heart, which he manifested in all his letters at this time. He wrote to Jonas, "Let us pray to God earnestly, that he would preserve him, and restore him to health." Luther did not wish to remain in Smalkald any longer, and had himself conveyed away. When he was riding out of the gate of the city, he turned to the friends who were escorting him, with these words: "God fill you with hatred against the Pope!" This legacy to those remaining behind was faithfully taken to heart by them.

The object of this meeting of Smalkald was, as Melanchthon stated in a letter to Jonas, partly thoroughly to discuss doctrine, in order to promote uniformity in all the[Pg 150] churches, and partly also to deliberate to which articles they would adhere to the last, and in which they might yield should any hope of peace appear. This, too, was the Elector's plan, but it did not succeed, particularly as far as yielding was concerned, because the more determined Theologians were altogether opposed to it. They entertained the opinion, which was no doubt correct, that to yield would be explained as inconstancy both by friends and foes, and the Emperor would only press them more urgently because they seemed to fly. Even a closer comparison of doctrine did not become popular, doubtless because they feared that if disunion should arise, the League would be broken. Luther's illness and departure also interfered with the deliberations. The Theologians, together with Bucer and Blaurer, who represented the upper Germans, as well as the princes, continued to adhere to the Augsburg Confession and the Apology. They also subscribed the Smalkald articles.

Melanchthon wrote to Jonas, that, in order they might not be idle, and play the part of dumb persons, they had received orders to write something in regard to the power of the Roman Chief-Priest. He applied himself to this task, and confesses himself that it was sharper than he generally wrote. He still entertained the opinion that the Council should not be rejected unconditionally, and did not wish to dispute the Pope's right to call such an one, even if he should not be considered judge. Those who were more determined, granted that some of the reasons of Melanchthon were acute and true, but they were not expedient; for even if they should promise an attendance of the Evangelical party in this Council, their opponents would interpret this as a submission to the right of Papal decision. He himself could not deny that his views were[Pg 151] somewhat dangerous, and finally yielded to the majority; but it drew forth sighs and complaints, which he poured into the heart of his friend Camerarius. But he also confesses that the lawfulness of the good cause affords great consolation, let the consequences be what they will.

The Imperial Ambassador, Held, a decided enemy of the Evangelical party, was to receive their answer. They informed him that they could not approve of the Council of Mantua, and therefore begged the Emperor to provide a free Council. Held made many objections, and promised that the Emperor would see to it, that everything should be lawfully decided in the General Council. However, the Evangelical states were not satisfied with such general declarations. They delivered a written statement, prepared by Melanchthon, both to him and the Papal Nuncio, Bishop Vorst of Aix, in which they justify themselves for declining to meet with the Council. He proved in a thorough manner, that there was no divine right constituting the Pope the head of the Christian Church, and that he consequently deserved no obedience. He also disputed the power of the bishops, because it was merely founded upon human regulations. The princes and divines assembled in Smalkald were so highly pleased with this work, that they subscribed it with joy. During this meeting, the Theologians present felt themselves urged to recommend a proper appropriation of the possessions of the Church to the princes. They said in their address: "May your electoral and princely highnesses, for God's sake, take this great want to heart, and exhort the states that the possessions of churches and convents be principally retained for and applied to the support of churches and schools, which will be for the glory of God, and the good of the people, and[Pg 152] will also prevent their dissipation, which would injure the Church, government, and country." The princes received this address in a very gracious manner, and the Landgrave of Hesse declared that in this thing help must be given by deeds, and not merely by words.

Thus the Convention was brought to a close, and Melanchthon rejoiced to be able to go home again. On the 14th of March he returned with Luther, who had recovered again, and whom he found on the way to Wittenberg. He could not thank God sufficiently that his friend Luther was well again, and in all his letters he calls upon his friends to thank the Lord for this. On the 16th of March he wrote to Agricola: "I was seized by a peculiar sorrow when I saw Luther's danger. I was moved to it by the loss of the Church, but also by my love for this man, and my admiration of his distinguished and heroic virtues. I could not but be greatly troubled at the danger of such a man. Therefore, I heartily thank God and our Lord Jesus Christ, that he has looked upon our tears and sighs, and has restored Luther to health." In another letter he calls upon Spalatin, not only to be thankful for this, but also to pray God "that he would preserve such a teacher for his Church for a long time."

[Pg 153]



On the day after his arrival in Wittenberg he wrote to Veit Dietrich: "Wittenberg, by the grace of God, is still quiet;" and as late as the 14th of April he wrote: "There is still peace here, and Christ grant that it may endure for a long time." He little thought that conflicts, which should trouble him greatly, would soon break out in this camp. The dispute which had arisen, certainly not without Melanchthon's fault, was interrupted for a while by the convention at Smalkald, but it was not yet to be brought to a conclusion. On the 14th of April, Cordatus addressed a letter to Melanchthon, in which he accuses him of making Cruciger's cause his own, and also complains that unworthy motives were imputed to him. It is true, Melanchthon had made this cause his own, and could not well do otherwise. He had invited Cordatus to an interview, by a man named Ungarus; but he did not come, because, as he himself confesses in the letter already mentioned, he was too much excited against Melanchthon, and particularly because Melanchthon had before that only spoken jestingly of the whole matter, and his present earnestness was altogether unexpected." He also addressed a letter to Dr. Jonas, then Rector of the University, in which he prays that Cruciger should be compelled publicly to recant the error he had publicly proclaimed. That he could not now desist, in his own name, from that which he[Pg 154] had begun in the name of Christ. Jonas replied in a very haughty manner, and accused him of seeking notoriety, because he was disgusted with his obscurity and little church, and advises him to obey, and to tame his violent disposition. But this merely served to call forth stronger letters from Cordatus to Jonas and Melanchthon, in which he threatened that he would apply to the whole Theological faculty. At the same time he also gave notice of this matter to Chancellor Brück, and said: "I cannot endure that so great a crowd at Wittenberg oppose the blessed doctrine of the pious man Luther, who is indeed the only Doctor of these things, and that too, God knows, without just cause." And besides, that Melanchthon had written to him yesterday: "I have of my own accord altered many things in my little volume, and I rejoice that I made these alterations." Melanchthon, in a letter to Bucer, April 23d, complained most bitterly of Cordatus, and insisted upon his proposition, that new obedience is necessary to eternal life. In this too, as in a letter to Dietrich, he spoke of retiring from Wittenberg if he should see that the conduct of Cordatus met with approbation.

This dispute at last attracted the attention of the Elector, who directed an inquiry to Luther and Bugenhagen, May 5th, through the Chancellor, whether it was true that Master Philip, Dr. Cruciger, and many masters and students, entertained different opinions from Luther and Pomeranus in some doctrines. The Inquiry referred to several points, especially to Justification, concerning which, Cruciger is said, by Melanchthon's direction, to have taught publicly a year ago that we are not justified before God by faith alone, "but that works were also necessary, for they are causa sine qua non," (the condition, without which we cannot be saved.) The Inquiry also referred[Pg 155] to another point, according to which men might securely, and without burdening their consciences, receive the Sacrament in one kind. There is also said to be a difference in reference to "free will."

The Elector especially censured Melanchthon for arbitrarily altering the Augsburg Confession, which was not a private, but a public Confession. The people, too, were highly displeased with this. He required an answer to this and several other points. He would rather suffer the University, which had prospered under Melanchthon, to decrease, than endure such divisions. Luther did not say anything about this to Melanchthon. When a certain Peter Ravus was made a Doctor, on the 4th of June, Luther led to the discussion of the doctrine of the necessity of good works, and rejected the formula that good works are necessary to salvation. Cruciger, who yielded at last, wrote a lengthy account of this to Dietrich. Cordatus was silent after this public discussion, in which Melanchthon's formula had been defeated; and Master Philip himself began to retract, no doubt because he saw that his formula might be promotive of work-righteousness. He simply wished to insist upon the doctrine that sanctification must necessarily follow from justification. He should not therefore have adhered so obstinately to his formula in the beginning.

The "Inquiry" of the Elector referred to an opinion, that under certain circumstances, one kind of the sacrament might also be distributed. Melanchthon had thus advised the preacher Jacob Shenk, of Freiberg, who had asked his opinion whether he should not introduce both kinds of the sacrament into his congregation, even against the will of the authorities. This answer, which regarded the circumstances of the case, and wished to prevent rebellion[Pg 156] against tyrannical princes, had been given without any consultation with Luther. Shenk sent Melanchthon's letter to the Elector's court at Weimar. When Melanchthon heard of this, he was greatly incensed. On the 16th of July he wrote to Brenz that he was here contending with a Hydra. As soon as he was done with one, many others arise. Another slanderer of Freiberg had complained of him to the Elector. He now refers to the cause which had induced this friend and former hearer to take this step. On the 11th of October he wrote to Camerarius, that the prince was present himself. For he had sent his Chancellor to speak with Luther concerning this matter. The result of this interview was, that Luther expressed his surprise that Melanchthon still entertained such fancies; and, on the whole, he thought that Melanchthon did not think much of the sacrament, and was almost of Zwingli's opinion. Yet he was not able to say how he felt at heart, and did not wish that so distinguished a man should separate from them and their University. But if he should adhere to the opinion expressed to Shenk, why everything else must yield to the truth. If for the sake of peace, we are to permit one kind, we should also be obliged to yield to tyrants, if they wished us to teach that works justify us. "I think," said the Chancellor, "that it would do no harm if Dr. Martinus would proceed, and speak earnestly and cordially with Philip. There is a chain in these matters which connects something. May the Almighty overrule it for good."

October 13, Melanchthon wrote to Dietrich: "Yesterday I understood that several articles should be presented to me to subscribe, but I am not certain of anything, because everything is kept secret. Not only are all who are considered my friends excluded from these interviews and[Pg 157] deliberations, but also all those who do not seem to be full of the proper heat and violence. I earnestly hope that, if they are displeased with me, they will produce their complaints openly and without concealment. I have to-day prepared a defence."

He completed this, and met all the accusations against him, not only in regard to the Lord's Suppers but also in regard to those other points in which he had somewhat changed his views. The day on which he was to make his defence was already appointed, but Luther's illness prevented the meeting. Besides this, Shenk went over to Agricola, who, as is well known, held the erroneous doctrine that the law is no longer to be taught in the Christian Church. On this account no further notice was taken of him.

The year 1538 also brought him fresh troubles. In the summer Melanchthon had indeed been honored by being made Rector of the University, but he was soon to experience the unpleasant part of his office. A young Master Simon Lemnius, a Grison, had published a small volume of satirical poems, in which he not only ridiculed several citizens of Wittenberg, but also the most worthy Professors, among them even Luther and Melanchthon. He even made satirical allusions to the Elector's Court. On the other hand, he praised Archbishop Albert of Mentz, who indeed deserved so little praise. This part displeased Luther more than all the rest; and he expressed his displeasure, "because this lampooner praises that miserable town-clerk of Halle, (pardon the expression,) Bishop Albert, and thus makes a saint of the devil." As many were already prejudiced against Melanchthon, he was suspected of secretly having countenanced the satirical poems of Lemnius. For, among other things, it was also the[Pg 158] duty of the Rector of the University to keep a watchful eye upon the various publications.

It was certainly a fault that Melanchthon had overlooked this; however, he did everything he could to rectify it. He forbade the satirist to leave the city; and when he fled, and did not appear after having been summoned twice, he was expelled. However, his enemies were not satisfied yet, and Melanchthon believed it necessary to send a written justification of his conduct to the Elector. He proves that he could not have known anything of this lampoon, because he and his wife are also attacked in two places in the most virulent manner. He had not seen a page of the book until it was handed to him, and then he scarcely looked into it, regarding it as an abject petition addressed to the Bishop of Mentz; but when he had examined it more carefully, he had forbidden the author to leave the city. As he had fled, and did not appear to answer the summons, he had been expelled from the University as a traitor and calumniator. Melanchthon thus concludes: "This is indeed the truth, for by God's grace, unfaithfulness and falsehood shall never be laid to my charge." When it was said that his son-in-law Sabinus knew something of it, he added to his report: "I do not know what my son-in-law knew of, or did in this matter, for he has caused me enough sorrow in other matters, which I must labor to mend." This settled the whole matter. But these repeated attacks grieved Melanchthon exceedingly, as appears from various letters to his friends. He once wrote to Camerarius, that he felt in Wittenberg as if he was tied to Mount Caucasus. The continual, bitter sorrows which had been weighing upon his mind for years, and his daily anxieties, were preying upon him so much, that he feared he would not live much longer.

[Pg 159]



The Catholics and Protestants assumed a more hostile attitude towards each other; but the Electors of Brandenburg and the Palatinate interposed, and finally succeeded in bringing about a meeting of the princes, in Frankfort-on-the-Main, at the beginning of the year 1539. On the 31st of January, Melanchthon also went thither. From Weimar he wrote to Jonas, that there was some hope of peace, for the princes manifested their readiness to bring it about. The Emperor and King Ferdinand had likewise sent ambassadors. They were not regarded much before they had presented their offers as to the conditions of peace. But when the Imperial orator requested the mediators already mentioned to make propositions for peace, according to their judgment, a star of hope seemed to arise. The Count Palatine and the Margrave hereupon demanded a form of agreement from the Protestants, in order to learn what they still missed in the Nuremberg Religious Peace. The Protestants complied with this request; they demanded that not only the states of the present time, but also those who should receive the Gospel in the future, should receive full liberty, and especially also that the proceedings of the Imperial chamber of justice should be stopped. Thus matters stood March 4th, as Melanchthon wrote to Jonas; but the ambassadors were stubborn, and would by no means consent to the proposed conditions of peace. He wrote to[Pg 160] the prince of Anhalt: "May God incline their minds to the love of peace!" But this did not happen; on the contrary, the Imperial ambassador overwhelmed the Protestants with accusations, although the mediators seemed more inclined to terms. Melanchthon wrote to Brenz "The matter has almost come to that point, that, as the Emperor said, the time for arms, and not for deliberations, seems to have arrived. Yet, although I tremble when I think what a very serious matter this is, I am sometimes surprised that our friends, who are so greatly irritated, do not break forth more violently."

They could not effect an agreement. Thus time passed on, and Melanchthon, in the meantime, wrote three discourses in the German language. The first treated of the right of defence, if they should be attacked by their enemies; the second showed that upright persons could not take up arms against the Protestants; and the third, that all the godly must assist them. Some disputed the right of waging war against the Emperor. Two years ago the Wittenbergers had declared the lawfulness of this step, maintaining that the Gospel did not oppose natural rights or public laws. All hopes of an agreement diminished more and more, and he was obliged to write to Camerarius, on April 5th: "We have here been weaving the veil of Penelope. If we have rejected one form of peace, another is laid before us, which merely differs from the preceding one in words, but not in sense. Some maintain that they are treacherously procrastinating this matter, but this has not frightened us as yet. I hope that the Empire may remain undisturbed, although no fair conditions could yet be obtained from the Imperial orator. He demands that we should not receive any new confederates. This shameful condition is introduced again and again, with new[Pg 161] sophistries, although it has been rejected repeatedly. In this you have the entire history of the Convention. In the beginning, I disputed concerning a number of points; but when the Imperial ambassador made such unreasonable demands, I ceased; and if no truce is made, we shall publish the reasons which induced us to reject those demands." For this purpose he had prepared his three German discourses. Luther understood the state of things very well when he wrote; that one party wished an open door for the Gospel, and the other locked it; and the matter was now so, that Christ and Belial must be united, or one must yield to the other.

As the King of England still intended to enter into a league with the Protestants, and had therefore sent his ambassador, Christopher Mouat, to the Convention at Smalkald, Melanchthon again addressed a letter to him. In his letter, dated April 1st, he most earnestly urges the King, that, as he had already reformed some abuses in the Church, he should also abolish all remaining Roman ungodliness. At the same time, Louis von Baumbach and Francis Burckard, vice-chancellor of the Electorate of Saxony, departed from Frankfort to England. These messengers were received by the King in a very friendly manner, but they could not induce Henry to reform the Church according to the principles of the Gospel. When Henry demanded again that Melanchthon should be sent over, it was not done, for they saw very well that the King was not serious in this matter. He had also received Melanchthon's letter in a very ungracious manner. Henry was an obstinate man, who pretended to be a Theologian himself. How ridiculous this his boasted learning was, is apparent, for instance, in the argument he advances for the necessity of good works. He argued, because evil[Pg 162] works merit everlasting wrath, it follows that good works merit everlasting bliss. At the request of the Elector and the Landgrave, Melanchthon also addressed a letter to King Francis of France, in order to explain the character of the League of Smalkald to him. This was brought about, not for bad ends, but simply to defend the Gospel. He thus concludes this letter: "It is much to be desired that the greatest monarchs will prevent a suppression of the truth by unjust means." At last the Convention of the Princes at Frankfort adjourned. On the 19th of April they agreed on a truce of fifteen months, and also a religious discussion, to be held in Nuremberg, August 1st. "We thank God," Melanchthon writes from Saalfeld April 23d, "that no one is permitted to begin war, and that the peace of Nuremberg has again been established and renewed. But this was only gained by great exertions."

He was now to have a more agreeable experience than he had been accustomed to for the past few years. On the 17th of April, Duke George of Saxony, this decided enemy of the Gospel, departed this life. It is true, it is said that he passed from this world with full faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He had already, in the beginning of this year, expressed a wish that a reformation of his dominions should be undertaken. But he wished a Reformation like that of King Henry of England. He did not wish the Scriptures to decide, but rather the traditions of the first eight centuries. However, Melanchthon, together with Chancellor Brück and Bucer, had gone to Leipzig in the beginning of January, in order to negotiate with George von Carlowitz, and George Wizel, who, after having become a Protestant, had returned into the bosom of the Catholic Church. These negotiations, however, were soon brought to a conclusion, because the principles[Pg 163] of the two parties were entirely opposed to each other. But now, after the accession of the Duke's brother Henry, the Reformation was accomplished easily and rapidly, for he was a friend of Evangelical truth. It was, indeed, a blessing that death had carried off Duke George so suddenly, for, as Melanchthon relates in a letter to Camerarius, he intended to exclude his brother and the other heirs, and to bequeath his dominions to King Ferdinand. But it is evident in this case also, that God's thoughts are often different from, and always better than the thoughts of men. The new Duke had an interview with the Elector, concerning the Reformation of his dukedom, on the 5th of May. May 22d, Melanchthon, Luther, and Jonas went to Leipzig, where Myconius and Cruciger were already, in order to reform the Church and University according to the Gospel. On the 28th of May, they published their opinion in regard to the Reformation of the University, in which they declared that "all government is bound before God to abolish and forbid false doctrine and false worship." All preaching, discussions, reading, distribution of the Sacrament, and all their ceremonies, were to be forbidden to the monks, because they continued to practise, and would not forsake their blasphemy. The Theologians of the University should be required "to receive this doctrine, or, if they should be unwilling to do this, that they should not be allowed to lecture, dispute, or preach. Also, that it was highly necessary to introduce Christian doctrine into the schools and churches at the same time." In addition to this, they proposed Amsdorf, Dr. Hess of Breslau, or Alexander Alesius and Ziegler, as teachers of the Hebrew language. That it would also be necessary to increase the salaries, for twenty florins would no longer suffice in these times, especially as the professors were married. The[Pg 164] abundance of the convents should be taken from them, and provision made for poor students of Theology, because "the rich do not become pastors and preachers, for alas! they are ashamed of this high service of God."

On Pentecost the Evangelical form of worship was introduced in Leipzig, and Luther preached a powerful sermon. On the 30th of May we already find our friend Melanchthon busily engaged in Wittenberg. But his eyes were still bent upon Leipzig, where his two dear friends Myconius and Cruciger had to contend with the powers of darkness. He comforted and encouraged them in a letter dated June 6: "I pray God and our Lord Jesus Christ to be with and to preserve you in your conflicts and dangers. For I have no doubt that you have there become acquainted with the pharisaical, yea diabolical venom of the enemies of the Gospel. But you know that your labor will redound to the honor of Christ, and you also know how much the Empire would be benefited by the reunion of these countries. Therefore patiently endure labor and danger in so important a cause." "We look for your letters with fearful anxiety, and pray you to write more frequently. Here, by the Grace of God, we have peace, only we have almost too much to do."

On the 24th of June he wrote to Duke Albert of Prussia: "According to the latest news we learn, that by the hand of God, the Gospel has had a good and flourishing beginning in the dominions of Duke Henry of Saxony, as well as in Leipzig and other places. May our Lord Jesus Christ grant his Grace to it! In Leipzig they have begun to administer the sacrament in the true way, and they are also abolishing secret masses." A few days before, Myconius and Cruciger had a severe conflict with the Dominicans. The disputation lasted eight hours. After[Pg 165] this the University renounced the Roman Church. Many were, however, not at all satisfied with this Reformation, which was especially opposed by John von Maltitz, Bishop of Meissen. He sent a memorial to the Duke, which was either composed by Pflug or Witzel, and asked that the reformation of the defects of the Church should be left to him. The Duke sent it to the Elector, who required an opinion from his Theologians in regard to it. Melanchthon is the author of this opinion. Although this Meissen Book, as the Bishop's memorial was called, had taken up some portions of the true doctrine, in order to be more acceptable, yet on the whole it adhered to hereditary teachings, and found fault with the Protestants.

As Melanchthon, Luther, and Jonas, appealed to the Holy Scriptures, they could easily refute the Bishop's book. They therefore declare: "That they announce to the priests that they would not receive or approve of their book; and that they did not consider it calculated to effect the Reformation and Improvement of the Church, nor to bring about a Christian agreement."

As Melanchthon had been so active in the Reformation of the Church and University in Leipzig, he was now commissioned to visit the Churches in the Duke's possessions in Thuringia, and also some cities in Meissen. He discharged this duty, and found a most lamentable state of things. We will extract some parts of his report. Of the minister at Weissensee he says, that he was unlearned, frivolous, and led a scandalous life; that the people asked for a good Pastor, and displayed an affection for the Gospel. Of the minister of Danstadt he says, that he was a highly vicious person, and should be deposed at once. The two preachers of Sangerhaus, although they had adopted the new doctrine, were accused of adultery. The[Pg 166] minister in Freiburg is a venomous blasphemer, sent thither by Eck, and ought to be deposed forthwith. He also proposed persons for these vacant places. Myconius should be lent for a time to Annaberg. He thus discharged his duty in the region which he had been appointed to visit, in a most earnest and conscientious manner. He also enjoyed the great satisfaction of hearing that his dearest friend in the world, Joachim Camerarius, had been called to a Professorship in Leipzig, in 1541.

He had not long completed his labors in the dominions of the Duke, when he received a call from the Elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II., to come to Berlin, in order to give his advice in regard to the introduction of the Reformation in that country.

We have already seen that the Elector had acted as mediator in the assembly of the princes at Frankfort; so he also wished to introduce a Church discipline of this character, which was strongly tainted with Catholicism, although he wished the preaching of the Gospel to remain free. Melanchthon, who met the Elector about the 12th of October, induced him to change his Church discipline after the pattern of that of Nuremberg, although it still retained much that was Catholic. He wrote to Dietrich, that private masses were abolished, that the priests were permitted to marry, that the invocation of saints was abolished, that the preaching of the pure doctrine was enjoined, and that the Lord's Supper was distributed in both kinds.

[Pg 167]



When he returned, he found the plague raging in Wittenberg. It had carried off his dear friend and brother-in-law, the jurist Sebald Münsterer, together with his wife. He received their children into his own house; but he himself felt seriously indisposed, and entertained earnest thoughts of death. On the 26th of October, he wrote to his beloved Dietrich in Nuremberg, that he was now standing in one of the climacterical years of human life, the forty-second year, which had proved the year of death to many; that his strength had failed, partly because of the sorrows of the soul, and partly on account of his excessive labors. He continues thus: "Although I might wish to live somewhat longer, on account of my children, and also on account of my books, yet I shall follow God with resignation, whenever it pleases him to call me away from this place. I am very glad that you so kindly offer your assistance to my son (Philip, then 14 years old), and I commend him to you; for he will need the kindness of his friends, when I am gone. His moral character is good, but I cannot praise his temperament; and I also believe that he does not possess sufficient talent to study."

Although many fled on account of the plague, he was determined to remain in Wittenberg. "I will bear the present cross, as I have borne many other things; God will put an end to it." At that time, when he was very[Pg 168] weak, and suffering much from sleeplessness, he made his will, from which we here present a few extracts, showing his truly Christian disposition. He began by declaring, that after the manner of the fathers, he wished to prepare his will, as a Confession for his friends and children, in order that they might abide by it at all times. "And first of all do I return thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us, the Creator of all things, that he has called me to repentance and the knowledge of the Gospel, and beseech him, for the sake of his Son, whom he has given as a sacrifice for us, that he would forgive my sins, accept of, and justify me, hear me, and deliver me from eternal death, as I also confidently trust he will do. For he has commanded us to believe it; and it is a sin to think our sins greater than the death of the Son of God. I prefer him before my sins. But I pray that God would strengthen these beginnings of faith, by the Holy Ghost, for the sake of his Son, our mediator. I am indeed troubled concerning my own sins, and the offences of others; but I consider the death of the Son of God greater, so that Grace is mightier than sin." He then proceeds to confess his belief in the Apostles' and Nicene Creed, and the entire system of doctrine which he had so unequivocally declared in his Loci Communes, and the Epistle to the Romans. He warns his children against the Roman Church, which in many articles teaches the most corrupt doctrine. "I therefore beg my children to obey me in this, on account of the divine commandment, that they do not connect themselves with the Papists." He also particularly warns them against those frivolous persons who should deny the doctrines of the Son of God, and of the Holy Ghost, among whom he especially mentions Servetus. He also defends himself against the suspicions of[Pg 169] those who have said that he leaned to the side of the enemy; he calls God to witness that he never wished to do so. He never wished to spread any new doctrine, but adhered to that doctrine which had been brought to light in these latter days, by Dr. Martin Luther. He therefore thanks this man of God, "firstly, because I have learned the Gospel from him; and secondly, on account of his particular kindness towards me, which he has manifested in many acts of kindness; and I wish that he may be always revered as a father by the members of my family." Then he also gratefully mentions the Elector, Chancellor Brück, his brother George, in Bretten, Camerarius, and a number of other friends. "I beseech them all kindly to forgive all my faults, if I have in any respect offended any of them; I never wished to offend any one wilfully." But the Lord still needed him for important labors; his health gradually returned, and he could again attend to his numerous duties. He published one of his best writings, "On the Soul," about this time. Towards the close of this year, 1539, Bucer came to Wittenberg on account of a certain matter, which became a source of much bodily and mental distress to Melanchthon.

The Landgrave, Philip of Hesse, had commissioned Bucer to solicit the opinions of the Wittenberg Theologians in a peculiar and very delicate matter. It did not refer to the general affairs of the Church, but a private, domestic affair of the Landgrave. For various reasons his affections had become alienated from his wife, and he believed that it would be better for him to form a new matrimonial connection than fall into sins of the flesh. Bucer brought an elaborate treatise with him, which justified this double marriage of the Landgrave, and now only wished that Luther and Melanchthon should also signify their approval[Pg 170] of this step. The two Theologians delivered a "secret Confessor's advice," on the 10th of December, in which they show that God originally permitted man to have but one wife, and that this law, although God bore with its violation in the Old Covenant, was restored in the New Testament. But an exception should be made in the present case of necessity, in order to avoid greater evils; yet without making it public, so that the enemies of the Gospel could not cry out that the Protestants were like the Anabaptists, who took many wives at once.[19] With this wished-for advice, Bucer departed; and after the Landgrave had also obtained a formal consent from his wife to form a second marriage, he was secretly married to Lady Margaret von der Saale, on the 3d of March, 1540, at Rothenburg on the Fulda. Melanchthon, who was at the time in Smalkald attending a convention, was also invited, without being informed particularly of the character of the occasion. He was much offended because he was thus obliged to be present at the wedding, and never forgot this treatment of the Landgrave. But even upon the present occasion he exhorted him to take better care of pastors and the teachers of the schools, to avoid the vices of fornication and adultery, and to remember David's punishment; also, to keep this second marriage secret, and not permit it to be spoken of publicly.

We have but now mentioned that Melanchthon was in Smalkald. He had gone thither on the 18th of February, 1540. It was proposed to discuss the Religious Convention[Pg 171] here, which had been called to Spire. The Theologians had already, in obedience to the Elector's orders, delivered their opinion, "whether the Evangelical princes should enter into a worldly peace with the Bishops, and whether they could yield anything to them in matters of religion." This document was signed by the Theologians on the first of March. It discussed doctrine, needful external matters, and external indifferent matters, (adiaphora.) In the first article of doctrine, it does not depart from the Confession, and will not yield anything. The second article enumerates among external needful matters, the abolition of private masses, of the canon of the mass, of monastic vows, of the celibacy of the priesthood, of the Invocation of saints, of all magical ceremonies, as, for instance, herbs, consecration of bells, &c., and required the restoration of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. In this article also it does not yield anything. The third article speaks of external indifferent matters, of the power of the Bishops, ordination, reading, singing, holidays, and other ceremonies, and of possessions. They expressed the opinion that if Princes and Bishops would accept doctrine and the needful points, arrangements might be made with them in reference to the last point. Envoys were sent from Smalkald to the Emperor, who was in Belgium at this time, to present the peaceful sentiments of the Protestants to him, and to pray him not to begin war. They returned with the most peaceful prospects, for the Emperor expressed his intention to institute further deliberations in regard to the harmony of the Churches. After Melanchthon had prepared another opinion, concerning the erroneous doctrines of Sebastian Franck and Caspar Schwenkfeldt, which was also signed by the Theologians, the Convention adjourned April 15th. Melanchthon returned by way of Erfurt, and[Pg 172] on the 4th of May wrote to Dietrich that the Emperor did not as yet manifest any hostility, although he had not promised a certain peace. He, on this occasion, related that the Count-palatine Frederick had conversed with the Emperor in Spain, and had advised him to follow more moderate counsels. The Emperor promised him he would do so. He had not been long in Wittenberg, when he heard that the Emperor was willing to hold a convention at Spire. After having written a letter to the Emperor in Torgau, whither he had been called by the Elector, he departed in the beginning of June to attend this convention, which, according to the last orders, was to be held, not in Spire, but in Hagenau, in Alsatia. It is not to be wondered at, that he should have felt very unwell when he departed from Wittenberg, after so many exertions, and recent recovery from a severe illness. Before he departed, he deposited his last will with Cruciger. A large concourse of students and masters escorted him, and when he was crossing the bridge over the Elbe, he said: "We have lived upon Synods, and now we shall die there." With such thoughts of death he departed, and reached Weimar. Here he was obliged to remain for some time, because he was not sure whether he should go to Hagenau. Luther, at least, had written to the Elector beseeching him to see to it, "That each and every one of the delegates should be earnestly commanded, that they could not and should not depart from that which has now finally been harmoniously agreed upon at Smalkald."

Melanchthon, however, was the person whose yielding temper was most objected to. He was at this time filled with indescribable dread, because a report reached his ears that the Landgrave intended to publish the secret advice of the Wittenbergers. He saw very well that its publication[Pg 173] would not only place him in a very doubtful position, but would also greatly injure the cause of the Gospel. His sorrows almost consumed him, and he therefore wrote to Luther for consolation and support in this matter. He faithfully responded to this call. But this consolation did not help him, and he became seriously ill. But let us hear the account of old Ratzeberger: "As it now also became known that the Landgrave had, besides his first wife, also married Lady von der Saale, and it was apparent that this deed would bring great disgrace and injury to the Gospel, Master Philip took it very much to heart. For he saw, if he went to Hagenau, that this would give the Lutherans a very severe blow. He was particularly grieved by this, because he had always looked upon this Landgrave, who had caused this great offence, with particular affection and hope. However, some assert, that he fell into this distress because he approved of this improper conduct of the Landgrave through the persuasions of his Court Chaplain, Dionysius, with which the court was afterwards highly displeased. He therefore became very sick at Weimar, more on account of sorrow and melancholy than anything else. His strength failed rapidly, and certain death seemed to be his only prospect. When he was thus seriously and dangerously ill, the Elector sent for Luther, who rode day and night from Wittenberg, in order to see Philip before his death. When he arrived, he to his sorrow found him as he had already heard. His eyes were already dim, his reason was gone, he could not speak nor hear, and his countenance was loose and fallen; having, as Luther said, a Hippocratical countenance. He recognized no one, and could neither eat nor drink. When Luther, unrecognized, looked upon him, he was greatly shocked, and said to his[Pg 174] companion, God forbid! how has the devil abused this instrument! and immediately turned to the window and earnestly prayed to God. Then, Luther said, God our Lord was obliged to listen to me. For I cast my burden before his door, and besieged his ear with all his promises that he would hear prayer, which I could remember in the Bible, so that he was obliged to hear me, if I was to trust his promises.

He then took Philip by the hand, and said, "Be of good cheer, Philip, you will not die! Although God has reason enough to take away life, yet he hath no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he should return from his ways and live. If God again called and received the greatest sinners who ever lived upon this earth, namely, Adam and Eve, he will not cast out thee, my Philip, nor suffer thee to perish in sins and sorrow. Therefore, do not give way to despondency, and do not murder yourself, but trust in the Lord, who is able to kill and make alive, wound and bind, scourge and heal again. For Luther fully understood the troubles of his heart and conscience. When he had thus held and addressed him, Philip began to draw his breath again, but could not say anything for a long time. He then turned his face towards Luther, and began to entreat him for God's sake not to detain him any longer; that he was now upon a good journey, and that he should suffer him to proceed, for nothing better could happen to him. Luther replied: "By no means, Philip; you must serve the Lord still longer." Philip became more and more animated, and Luther immediately ordered them to prepare some food, and took it to him himself. But Philip refused to taste it. Luther forced him, and said: "Do you hear, Philip! you must eat, or I shall excommunicate you. He was prevailed upon by such language,[Pg 175] so that he began to eat a little, and thus gradually regained strength."

Melanchthon himself said of Luther: "If he had not come I should have died." The Elector also, who deeply sympathized with his sorrows and illness, comforted him in the most friendly manner: "Although it belongeth to God alone, according to his good pleasure, to bestow or take away courage and comfort, yet you on your part must not fail to lay aside and forget the causes of your trouble, which, thanks to God! are not so great in our estimation, that they should afflict you so deeply. We doubt not but that Almighty God will soon restore your cheerfulness, and with it your health."

The Elector then requests him, as soon as he should be able to move, to come to Eisenach, with Luther and Jonas, because he needed them; for letters and reports were constantly arriving from Hagenau. He gradually recovered, and, although it was with difficulty, he was able to leave for Eisenach on the 7th of July. On the 10th of July, Luther wrote concerning him to Wittenberg: "Master Philip has been restored to life, as it were from the grave; he looks sickly, yet lively, jests and lives with us, and eats and drinks in his own room and at table."

Melanchthon himself wrote to Bugenhagen from Eisenach: "I thank you heartily, best and dearest pastor, that you have comforted me in so Christian a manner, while I was absent, and visited with terrible afflictions in body and spirit, and that at home you assisted my wife by your counsels. I still feel my disease, although it has abated somewhat. If I should remain alive, I will be able to say that I have been restored from death to life, by the power of God. This is the testimony of all who were with me. Oh! that I might thank God rightly, and live[Pg 176] for his glory! I commend myself, and the Church of Christ, to your prayers. I hope that he also (the Landgrave), who has brought me into this great trouble, warned by my example, and the writings of our friends, will be more modest, and not publicly defend a scandalous affair. I have heard that he promised to listen to the counsels of our friends." In Eisenach, the Saxon and Hessian Theologians conferred concerning the double-marriage of the Landgrave. The Hessian Theologians, among them the court-chaplain, Dionysius Melander, wished the permission to publish the second marriage, to be granted to their Prince. An old account relates, that upon this Luther attacked them in so severe a manner, "that the water ran down their cheeks." The Wittenbergers insisted that this marriage should be concealed, like the secrets of the Confessional. On the 24th of July, Melanchthon himself wrote to the Landgrave, exhorting him to cover the matter, and not to give cause for its public discussion. He should prevent this, "not only on account of the evil reports and the offence, but also because it is no easy matter to defend this business plausibly." The Landgrave took this to heart, and for a long time bore the disgrace he so richly deserved. But when he sent forth a pamphlet, written by Bucer, yet without his name, which endeavored to justify his conduct, Melanchthon published a very severe reply to it.

At the close of July, he returned to Wittenberg.

[Pg 177]



The Convention at Hagenau was not successful. The Chancellor of Treves here made a proposition, in the name of the Catholics, July 6th, 1540, that the points already disposed of in Augsburg, in 1530, should not be considered now, but they should merely discuss those on which they could not agree there. The Protestants would not agree to this, and declared "that they could not recollect that any agreement in disputed matters had been reached in the Diet held at Augsburg." Finally, they obtained sight of a writing of Dr. Eck's, who had compared the articles agreed upon, and they sent it to the Elector with the remark: "Your Grace will be able to see from this, in what a childish and improper manner they have prepared these." The Convention adjourned without having come to an actual Religious Conference. This was now to be held in Worms, on the 28th of October of the same year. The Emperor was exceedingly anxious for a union; but before the meeting was opened, the Elector requested the opinions of his Theologians. In this they resolved not to acknowledge the precedence or judicial power of the Pope in the Council, and also to reject those articles marked by Eck as agreed upon. The Elector positively enjoined upon his ambassadors, by no means to depart from the meaning or the words of the Augsburg Confession. Whenever Melanchthon, in his letters, referred to the coming religious conference, he always expressed the wish: "Oh! that God[Pg 178] would incline the hearts of the princes to magnify his glory, and to seek wholesome peace!"

On the 18th of October, he set out with Cruciger. In Leipzig they took along with them the professors Sheubel, and Andrew Franck, called Camicianus; and in Eisenach, Justus Menius, selected instead of Myconius. In Gotha he prepared the Protestation, in which he showed "how the Protestants should act in the present Conference, and whether the spiritual ambassador is to be acknowledged as judge in disputed questions." On the 31st of October they reached Worms; and November 2d, he already wrote to Camerarius about the "shameless hypocrites," Eck, Cochlæus, Nausea, Mensinger, and others, who had been appointed to attend this Conference in behalf of the Catholics. "These men will pronounce sentence upon our heads, although they do not understand our cause, and are burning with hatred, and have stained their hearts and hands with the blood of the godly. But if an opportunity should present itself to explain our affairs, I shall with God's help endeavor to unfold those useful views which we contend for, clearly, truly, and without perversion. This I can do so much better, because I have ceased to regard the will of the princes, and on this account have an easier conscience than I had before." And to Dietrich he wrote: "Even if Spanish and French gentlemen were standing before the gates, I would not approve of these double-tongued articles." He adhered steadfastly to this resolution. But the Convention was not opened for a long time, owing to the delay of the Imperial Commissioner, Granvella, "of whom it is said, that he is at present the heart of the Emperor Charles," although the Papal Nuncio, a brother of the well-known Cardinal Campegius, had arrived at the proper time.

[Pg 179]He formed the centre, around whom the enemy gathered to discuss their plans. More and more enemies arrived in Worms, in order that they might command a respectable position on account of their numbers. "But God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will protect us, whom do you also call upon to preserve and rule his Church,"—thus Melanchthon wrote to Jonas. The Protestants entertained the hope that Granvella "would exert himself to obtain peace, even if no union or agreement could be effected." Melanchthon at this time did not visit any of the decided enemies; however, he went to a few of those who wished to be considered somewhat moderate. He wrote to Dietrich: "These wish to persuade me to consider the whole difference a mere contention about words. I answered, as Aristides said to Themistocles, that Athens would not have peace until they both should be drowned in the sea; so we also, on both sides, deserved the severest punishment if we were confusing the Church by a mere contention about words." At last the Imperial Envoy Granvella arrived, November 22d, and opened the session on the 25th with an address, in which he entreated the States with tears to come to an agreement, and conjured them to "unite again the rent mantle of Christ, and think of your name as Christians which you received in Holy Baptism, and also of your own highly-renowned German nation." They disputed a long time as to the manner in which the religious discussion should be conducted. The Catholics would have preferred settling the matter as rapidly as possible without entering upon a regular discussion, although the final decree of Hagenau, and also the Imperial Proclamation, demanded that the separate articles of the Augsburg Confession and its Apology should be debated[Pg 180] in a friendly and Christian manner, but not so as to be obligatory.

While these useless negotiations were carried on, Melanchthon was surprised by a visit from Camerarius on the 9th of December. This was an excellent opportunity for interchange of thought and friendly conversations. When Camerarius returned, Melanchthon sent a letter to the physician FUCHS, in Tübingen, by him: "I have been restored from death to life so short a time, that I still bear about the remains of my sickness and sufferings. I am heartily obliged to Joachim, that he wished to alleviate these by his visit."

When Eck had prepared a form of agreement on the articles of Original Sin and Justification, concerning which there was a great difference of opinion, the Catholics were anxious that it should be brought to vote. Eck must have considered his form a very excellent one, for he in various places made use of the ridiculous expression, that they could not obtain a better one from Calcutta in India. The Catholics were not at all pleased when even the envoys of the Palatinate, of Brandenburg, and Jülich would not accept of this. Melanchthon wrote to Luther: "These acknowledged, in a modest but determined manner, that they approved of our opinions, as included and explained in the Confession and Apology." In a memorial addressed to Granvella by Melanchthon, the Protestants demanded that the matter should be discussed in a calm and Christian manner in the public assembly, and rejected the secret movements of their opponents, who merely wished ambiguous and entangling articles subscribed. On December 22d he also addressed a private letter to Granvella, in which he lays before him the necessity of a public discussion, and says: "The Church will be benefited if we establish[Pg 181] a pure and useful doctrine. I am conscious of my own weakness; yet as far as I am concerned, I do not fear the judgment of honorable and learned men, nor moderate counsels." After long debates, it was at last agreed upon that Eck and Melanchthon should debate the matter in the presence of all. At last, January 14th, 1541, they began the debate, in the presence of the Imperial envoy Granvella. Melanchthon published an account of this discussion, which lasted but four days. We will present parts of this, to show that notwithstanding all his love of peace, he also adhered steadfastly to the truth.

An old account, speaking of his and Eck's speeches, says that they compared with each other like the song of a nightingale with that of a raven. They first discussed Original Sin. Eck opened the debate, and at once asserted the Augsburg Confession and Apology handed to him had been altered in many articles, and did not agree with the former ones. It was certainly an arbitrary act on the part of Melanchthon, to make alterations in those documents, which had acquired a public character. But he explained that his alterations did not affect the substance, but merely the form of expression, which was "milder and clearer" now. Eck was not at all willing to grant this, especially when he regarded the tenth article, on the Lord's Supper. However, he proceeded, passing over the first article, because both sides agreed in this, and came to the second article, of Original Sin. He was not willing to admit that it was really Sin, but it is merely a want of hereditary righteousness, not of remaining gifts; and the evil lust, which remains after Baptism, cannot be properly called Sin. Melanchthon says: "Eck has at last admitted that the evil inclination, which remains in the saints, is a fault, opposed to God's commandment; but the word sin he wished[Pg 182] to be confined to unforgiven sins." Eck had disputed in the same way in Augsburg. But secretly he had said here and there that the views of the opposite side were really true. Melanchthon writes: "What a crime against his convictions, that he should defend such a thing! But I trust that he has been refuted in a sufficiently clear manner."

Granvella listened very attentively, and it is said of him, that he declared he would faithfully report everything to his Sovereign, and also what he thought of the cause of the Protestants, which was not as foolish as their opponents represented it to be. They disputed on Original Sin for four days, and at last Eck proposed a form of agreement which did not oppose the Augsburg Confession. They were now about to proceed to discuss the article of Righteousness, or Justification, for which Melanchthon was very anxious; but on January 18, an Imperial decree was published to the assembly, which postponed this Religious Conference to the diet soon to be held in Ratisbon. Thus they left Worms again, and were obliged to confess that their journey had been entirely unsuccessful.

All were now eagerly waiting for the diet. Melanchthon, in a letter, says: "God grant Grace, that something profitable for the Churches and the general peace may be accomplished at this diet." Yet he looked forward to this diet with a troubled heart, not because he feared a religious discussion with the enemy, but rather because he did not approve of the plans of the Evangelical princes, particularly those of the Landgrave Philip. Concerning the latter he expressed himself in the very strongest terms. Luther had entreated the Elector to excuse Philip from this journey; but the Elector could not grant this request, because he needed able men at this diet; yet he also[Pg 183] trusted confidently that as he "intended to abide faithfully to the end in the truth revealed, and the pure doctrine of the divine word," so also would all the other allies in the faith present at this diet "steadfastly adhere to that which becometh the honor of God, and the extension of his saving word." The Elector, deeply interested in the preservation of pure doctrine, gave explicit directions to his counsellors how they were to act in Ratisbon. He particularly regarded Melanchthon with a watchful eye. He was ordered to reside with the counsellors of the Elector. If any person wished to converse with him there, it should be done in the presence of the counsellors. "And altogether Philip should take heed not to go out too much, but rather remain in his lodgings and with the counsellors, even as he himself will best know how he ought to act."

He departed, with Cruciger, on the 14th of March. From Leipzig he wrote home: "May God bless and overrule this journey and all our acts, that they may be undertaken for the honor of God, the growth of the Gospel, the welfare of the Church, and the peace of the Empire." March 16, in the evening, he reached Altenburg, and there united with the other delegates. But on the Bavarian frontier he met with a misfortune, for the carriage was overturned, and he strained the wrist of his right hand so seriously that he could not use it; and it was thought for some time that it was broken. He not only arrived in Ratisbon in great pain, but could not use his hand for a considerable time. He dictated his letters to Cruciger, whom he therefore called his "other self." On the 4th of April, he for the first time, and with great difficulty, wrote to Eber in Wittenberg, and expresses the wish that God might make him a useful instrument in the Church. On the following day the diet was opened by the Emperor[Pg 184] himself. He expressed his wish to restore harmony, and thought the best way to accomplish this would be to appoint honorable and peaceable persons, who should discuss the contested articles of religion, and endeavor to bring about a compromise. They should then make a report, and finally consult with the Papal nuncio Contarini, whom the Emperor called a friend of peace. Melanchthon wrote to Dietrich: "This is a dangerous business, and therefore our friends have been disputing for two days among themselves. The more determined of them will only agree to a continuation of the discussion of Worms, but others are willing to permit the Emperor to try this new way." The opinion of the latter was at last given to the Emperor as the decision of the Protestants. He appointed Pflug, Eck, and Groper, of the Catholics; and Melanchthon, Bucer, and Pistorius, of the Protestants, to discuss the articles.[20]

The Count Palatine Frederick, and Granvella, were to officiate as moderators during this discussion; and some other persons were also appointed to attend as hearers and witnesses. Burkard, in a letter to chancellor Brück, thus judges the different speakers at this Conference: "What hope of the spread of truth can be entertained, when they take the drunken Eck for such important matters, who values wine more than all religion? Julius (Pflug) is altogether dependent upon the Pope; the third, Groper, is a worthy, modest, and not unlearned man, but he will be overcome by the noise on the one side, and by craftiness on the other, and perhaps he will also introduce his own[Pg 185] peculiar opinions, which do not altogether agree with the truth of the Gospel. I have confidence in all our Theologians here present, and am convinced that they will not forsake the truth."

Before the debate began, the Emperor summoned them into his presence, and exhorted them, in a very condescending manner, that they should transact this matter in a friendly manner, and not lose sight of the glory of God, and the general welfare. The Catholics now wished that they would begin with the disputed articles, the Lord's Supper, the power of the Church, the pope, masses, secret masses, monastic vows, celibacy of priests, and the one kind in the Sacrament, and then pass over to the articles of Justification, of merit, and of good works. By this we can easily see, that at the outset they were anxious to frustrate the discussion. But when the discussion was about to begin, on April 27th, the Emperor presented a book, which contained an attempt to reconcile these articles, with the direction "that the persons selected should examine it, and correct whatever was opposed to Holy Scripture, but suffer everything Christian to remain." This book was afterwards called the Ratisbon book, and also the Ratisbon Interim, and was known to the Wittenbergers before. For the Margrave Joachim, of Brandenburg, had already sent it to Luther, that he might give his opinion, as early as February 4th. Luther said of it: "These people (the authors of the book), whoever they are, mean very well, but their propositions are impossible, and such as the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and Prebendaries, can never agree to.... Besides this, it contains many points which our side will not and cannot adopt. The best thing to be done, would be to appoint pious and learned men to judge what and where is God's word." The author[Pg 186] of the book was not known with certainty; some looked upon Wizel as the author, others, Groper. Melanchthon believed that Groper had prepared it, with the help of a young Imperial Counsellor, Gerhard Volcruck, and also Bucer's; that he had presented it to Capito, and then sent it to the Landgrave Philip, and the Elector of Brandenburg. By the last it had been sent to Luther. The book contained 23 articles, which were treated in such a manner that they could be called half-Catholic, and half-Protestant. Thus it came to pass as Luther had said, that it neither gave satisfaction to the Catholics nor to the Protestants. But as the Emperor valued it highly, and wished it to be made the basis of their deliberations, this was done, "although I was much afraid," says Melanchthon, "that this book would cause no little strife." They passed over the first articles, of creation, the perfect state of man before the fall, of free will, of the origin of sin, and of original sin, without any difficulty. Now they came to the article on Justification. This was not at all satisfactory to either party, and therefore they substituted another. Eck had proposed a formula, but Melanchthon objected to it. They disputed about it for several days, and at last agreed to a formula, concerning which the Saxon counsellors wrote to the Elector, that in the main it was not opposed to the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, "and that the words employed were sufficiently clear, so that it could not be perverted to a misunderstanding." The counsellors highly commended the firmness of their Theologians, and Melanchthon in particular. They relate to the Elector, that Melanchthon had expressed himself before all the Theologians and Granvella, to the following effect: "that he would rather die than yield anything against his conscience and the truth, for it would bring about his death,[Pg 187] for he could not reconcile it to his conscience." But the Elector was by no means pleased with the formula of agreement in regard to justification, which they had sent to him; for he thought that their opponents wished "either entirely to cast aside, or at least obscure, the doctrine that we are saved by faith alone." He therefore laid this formula before Dr. Luther and Pomeranus, who could not but say that it might easily lead to a misunderstanding. He therefore, May 13th, informed his counsellors that he could not possibly agree to it. However, Luther entreated the Elector "not to write too severe a letter to Melanchthon and his friends, lest he should again trouble himself to death. For they have still retained our beloved Confession, and have adhered steadfastly to this, even if every thing else should fail." The Elector, who had intended to go to Ratisbon himself, now remained at home, and sent Amsdorf, a man who strictly adhered to the Confession, in his place. He and the Duke of Pomerania arrived in Ratisbon on the 13th of May.

The next point to be discussed, was the article of the Church. It was very easy to predict that this would be an apple of discord, for the Ratisbon book maintained that there must be a power in the Church to interpret the Bible, and that private individuals did not enjoy this power; also, that no private individual has the right to oppose the majority. Much contention ensued, in which Granvella himself mingled, and said to Melanchthon, he should read the article more carefully. Melanchthon replied, "that he had read it frequently, and even in Wittenberg; but they should know that he could not, and would not approve of it. For if the power referred to by them, was to be given to the Councils, many errors of former Councils must be sanctioned, and posterity would also be grievously burdened[Pg 188] thereby." Melanchthon was so determined that they could not agree, and they were obliged to pass on to other articles. The book next spoke of the doctrine of the Sacraments. Melanchthon consented to retain Confirmation, although all abuses connected with it should be abolished, the Catechism studied diligently, and "true and earnest prayer" connected with it.

When the article on the Lord's Supper was made the order of the day, it caused a violent debate, which lasted for eight days. The Catholics presented a formula declaring transubstantiation, and maintained all the abuses which had crept into the Roman Church on account of this false doctrine. Melanchthon had before given the warning in vain, that Eck ought not to be permitted to indulge in his bullying and abusing, otherwise "he might kindle a fire which he would not be able to extinguish."[21] The Protestants referred to the gross abuses attending the carrying about and adoration of the Sacrament, and also spoke of the ridiculous case which had already been discussed by the Catholics in their own writings, what a mouse was eating when she gnaws the consecrated bread. The Protestants adhered to the doctrine of the Bible and of the ancient Church, that the Sacraments are only Sacraments when they are used, and not so when they are not used. It was during this contest, manfully waged by the Protestants,[Pg 189] that, as Melanchthon tells us, "Eck became sick, having become too excited, perhaps, and drinking so excessively afterwards, that a fever followed." The articles on Confession and Satisfaction again led to violent discussions, because Groper insisted upon the enumeration of particular sins. He thought, as the Church had the right of binding and loosing, this was a court of justice, where it was necessary for the Judge to hear the case; and because in Confession, satisfaction was imposed to heal the wounds, the priest ought to know beforehand whether the injury is great or small. Melanchthon disproved these propositions, and proposed a milder article. Granvella was greatly displeased at this, and said "many evil words" to Melanchthon. "So that," he relates himself, "the next day, at the beginning of the debate, I complained, and said if it was intended that I should not express my opinions, I would stay away in future." The Envoy excused himself, and pacified him. The article concerning the order of Church Government, and the power of the Bishops, again brought about a sharp conflict. When he observed that it had been prepared in a very sly manner, "I became very impatient, and opposed the entire article," he reports himself. They simply wished to retain the entire Papacy. Melanchthon was here obliged not only to battle against the Catholics, but also with Bucer and the Hessian chancellor. Granvella assured him, that if he would not accept this article, he would prevent the entire work of Reformation. Even the Elector Joachim sent a deputy to him, to urge him to accept this article. Melanchthon says: "I gave him a very short answer." They then considered the articles on the Invocation of Saints, Masses, One kind, Celibacy, and Monastic Life. Melanchthon remarks: "Although there was much opposition, we presented counter-articles[Pg 190] to all these." Because he adhered to the truth, which he had discovered and confessed in a determined manner, prompted partly by his own conscience and the exhortations of the Elector and his counsellors, he was declared to be a stubborn person, and he was even accused to the Emperor. The latter expressed himself very unfavorably in regard to him to the Landgrave Philip. He was particularly accused of being governed by Luther, and also led by the French ambassador. Under these circumstances, Melanchthon believed it necessary to defend himself before the Emperor against these unjust accusations. He addressed a letter to him, of which we shall communicate some parts. He declares in the most positive manner that he had no instructions from Luther, and was not at all connected with the French ambassador, and that his Elector had only given the general direction, that they should not depart from the truth. "This is a direction which must be deeply engraven upon every heart, without the orders of an Elector." Further on he says: "I have always acted according to my own convictions, and have never contended about useless things." He then proceeds to speak of Councils, and of Auricular Confession, showing their want of foundation; and also, that he had sought peace. "However, even moderation must have its bounds. That Truth, which the Son of God revealed to us from the bosom of the Father, should shine in the Church. And I wish your Imperial Majesty could see into my heart, so that you might judge truthfully what my endeavors in regard to these disputes have been for many years. A true, scripturally developed, and sure doctrine, and one that will be beneficial to the Church, must be found." He concludes this letter, so faithful to the Confession, in the following manner: "I know that our doctrine is the doctrine of the[Pg 191] true Catholic Church, and I believe that many wise men confess the same. But these believe that we have gone farther in the abolition of abuses than was necessary. They wish to retain a species of adoration of the saints, private masses, and the like. Therefore they wish us to take a step backwards, and to approve the first germs of these abuses. As I am not able to do this, I again urgently pray for my dismissal." The Elector rejoiced at this firmness, and therefore wrote to his counsellors: "We have with great satisfaction heard that Magister Philip proves himself firm and faithful in this business, and hope that Almighty God will graciously sustain him in this course."

On the 16th of May the religious discussion was brought to a close; and May 31, the Protestants presented a memorial to the Emperor, in which they refer to nine articles in particular, which they could not accept on any consideration. They treated of the Church, the Sacrament, the enumeration of particular sins in Confession, of Satisfaction, of the Unity of the Church and Ordination, of the Saints, the Mass, Secret Masses, and the Celibacy of the Priesthood. We may easily understand that the Emperor, who was very desirous of a union, was not at all satisfied with such a conclusion. As he believed that very much depended upon Luther in this matter, he even sent a deputation to him. It was composed of Prince John of Anhalt, Matthias von Schulenburg, and Alexander Alesius. They arrived in Wittenberg on the 7th of June, and conferred with him a few days. But they did not find a hearing here; for Luther's motto was the word, once expressed in a letter to the Elector: "It is impossible to reconcile Christ and the serpent." They therefore returned[Pg 192] to Ratisbon without effecting their purpose. Melanchthon expressed himself in a very decided and clear manner in regard to the Ratisbon book, in an address to the States. He says of the rejected articles: "I will not accept one of them, nor patch at them any more." Of the omitted articles, to which Confirmation and Extreme Unction belong, he said: "We would not contend much about these, if we could agree in other points." He then speaks of the articles which were looked upon as agreed upon, while they were nevertheless not agreed upon. He here had many objections to make to the book in reference to Justification, the state of Grace, Sin, and the like. He concludes his opinion in these beautiful words: "I cannot and will not accept this book, and pray God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant good counsels and help to us all, and that he would guard and rule his Church, which he has redeemed by his Son unto eternal life, and which he still wonderfully preserves. However, in order that each and every one may know what I believe, I wish to declare by this, that I hold the doctrine of our Church, as it is contained in our Confession and Apology, and that, with the help of God, I intend to abide by it. I also thank God that he has again illuminated his Church, and would not wish to give any occasion to darken the pure doctrine again." But the Catholics rejected the book also; Eck called it an insipid book, and expressed himself against it in the most decided manner.

Now the final decree of the Diet was to be issued. The Protestants previously, however, presented their declaration, prepared by Melanchthon, who, at the Emperor's request, also delivered an opinion concerning the Reformation, on the 18th of July. He was willing to grant[Pg 193] temporal power to the Bishops, an opinion which he expressed at different times, without considering what dangers this must necessarily cause. At last, on the 29th of July, the recess of the Diet took place. The religious difficulties were postponed, to be decided at a Council soon to be held, or postponed to the next diet, in case no Council should be convened within 15 months. The Peace of Nuremberg was to be observed until that time.

On the 30th of July, Melanchthon departed from Ratisbon. He did not go by way of Nuremberg, although he had been invited thither in the most urgent manner, but came to Leipzig, where he zealously labored to have his beloved friend Camerarius called to the University. He thus speaks of his friend in a letter to Duke Henry: "He is peaceable, modest, and sincere, and so learned in Philosophy and Eloquence, that he is excelled by few in foreign and German lands." In consequence of this the Duke called him.

When, to the great sorrow of the Protestants, Duke Henry was gathered unto his fathers, the young Duke Maurice entered upon the government with the most promising prospects. During his reign Camerarius came to Leipzig, and thus into the vicinity of his friend Melanchthon.

[Pg 194]



While the Protestants were enjoying a period of rest, because the Emperor was busily occupied with the Turks and the pirates of Algiers, the work of the Reformation advanced more and more. And where it could not be done peacefully, the power of the princes was now and then employed. In the beginning of the year 1541, the Bishop of Naumburg-Zeitz had died, and the Chapter elected the well-known Julius von Pflug, Bishop. When the Elector John Frederick heard of this, he pronounced the election invalid, not only because the citizens in that region had long since been friends of the Gospel, but also because the right of protectorship of the Bishopric belonged to him. He proceeded upon the almost unbounded right of sovereignty—even over the Church, and we cannot expect anything else from him, but that he would appoint a decidedly Evangelical Bishop to this important see. He asked the advice of his Theologians, who, in their opinion, likewise took for granted, that the right of electing the Bishop belonged to him. They advised him to elect a Christian man, and at the same time one who was descended from a princely family.

The Chapter, which was ordered to proceed to another election, refused to do so; so that the Elector found himself[Pg 195] compelled to interfere by force of arms, notwithstanding the threats of the Emperor. On the first of November, the Wittenbergers prepared an Opinion in regard to the election of the Bishop, in which they express a wish that the chapter of Naumburg might be preserved, because encouragement to study was thus given to the nobility, although the chapter itself must be improved and reformed in a Christian manner. If the chapter wished to elect another man, it ought not to be "a young fellow," but a man "who has an affection for Christian doctrine, and proper exercises in the Church, and would altogether set a good example." They propose Prince George Von Anhalt, who is especially recommended by Melanchthon, who gives him this testimony, that "he rightly understands the doctrine of the Gospel, is pious, and would care for the interests of the Church." Against the opinion prevailing in regard to the prince, that he merely wished to do things by halves, Melanchthon declared that, on the contrary, the prince wished no patch-work in doctrine, and would not listen to any articles, in Ratisbon, which could be twisted. The Licentiate Amsdorf, however, Superintendent of Magdeburg, could not be prevailed upon to accept a bishopric. The Opinion generally demands a thorough Reformation, a pious, reasonable preacher, "who would not preach the Church empty," abolition of the mass, and good schools. The Bishop and the Canons should not grant any power to the Bishop; and the noblemen who should be elected Canons, should not merely be hunters and idle persons, but able men. Even if the Chapter should retain the right of election, the Elector should nevertheless retain his power, to see to it that proper persons would be elected, and improper ones rejected. But, as before remarked, the Chapter would not proceed to another election; and another[Pg 196] Opinion adjudged the right to the Elector, under these circumstances, to nominate a proper person for the see, to the nobility and the senators of the cities, "in order that the churches and country might be supplied." The Elector placed great confidence in Amsdorf, and succeeded in having him elected Bishop. On the 10th of January, he was installed into his office in the presence of Melanchthon, who had been appointed to reform the churches and schools in the See. From this time, this region enjoyed the blessed influences of the Gospel.

A Reformation was also to be brought about in the Electorate of Cologne. The present Elector, and Archbishop Herman, Count of Wied, was a friend of the Evangelical doctrine, and had for several years been actively engaged in improving Church matters. It is true that he was counselled by Groper, with whom we became acquainted at the Diet of Ratisbon. But now he wished to make further advances, with the assistance of Melanchthon and Bucer. Bucer had come to Bonn at the close of the year 1542, in order to begin the Reformation. In January, 1543, the Archbishop sent Magister Erdmann to Wittenberg, to invite Melanchthon to Bonn for the same purpose. The Landgrave Philip also urged him to go thither. He replied to him, that it was to be feared that the Chapter of the Archbishop would not yield, and that the Pope would urge them to elect another Bishop. That he was willing to venture his body and life for such a pious old prince. "But such a work requires men who are able to preach, and so to present the truth to the people, that they may be encouraged, and not deterred by the opposition of the other side." He also excused himself on account of his numerous duties in the University, and thought that even if the Elector desired a true change, yet those in power[Pg 197] only labored to bring about a Reformation, in which the adoration of the saints, and daily masses, might still find a place. On the 12th of March, Bucer wrote a very pressing letter to induce him to come, as his labors could be completed in 10 or 12 days. But he did not go. In April, Father Medmann again appeared in Wittenberg in behalf of the aged Elector, in order to induce him to come. He sent him with a letter to his own Elector and lord, in which he declared that he had no inclination to go, but also added: "I will obey whatever your Electoral Grace may order in this matter." The Elector, "because this is a godly and Christian work," at once gave him leave of absence for six or seven weeks. He also allowed him one hundred gold florins, and two troopers as an escort.

On the 17th of April he departed, accompanied by Justus Jonas, the son of the Rector, and Jerome Schreiber, and reached Bonn, where the Archbishop resided, on the 4th of May. He writes to some one, that two plans of reformation had been proposed; one, which was simple and pure, prepared by Bucer; the other, by Groper, who endeavored to excuse and establish abuses, as we may suppose from the book of Ratisbon. What strange sights met his eyes here! He writes to Camerarius: "You could not look without tears upon the ruin of the churches here, in which crowds of people still daily run to the images of the Saints. This is the main thing of religion, in the eyes of the ignorant multitude." He wrote the same to Bugenhagen, and especially referred to the deplorable ignorance of the clergy. And yet Groper, in his own way, wished to hold fast this state of things. The aged Archbishop, of whom Melanchthon says that he has the best intentions, "confesses that an improvement is necessary, and protests that he wishes a true and thorough[Pg 198] reformation, and that he is not afraid of dangers." He therefore placed more confidence in Bucer than in Groper. Although the nobility and the cities expressed themselves favorable to such a reformation, they were opposed by Cologne and the Chapter. The Landgrave informed the Archbishop that he and the other allies would come to his assistance, should it be necessary. Pistorius assisted Bucer.

Melanchthon writes to Luther of both these men, that their preaching was largely attended, and that they taught pure and correct doctrine. He superintended their labors, and wrote to Cruciger, May 23d, that the entire work was almost completed, and that he would extricate himself as soon as possible. A short time before this, he also sent a little letter to his son Philip, which we cannot bear to omit here: "Although I have public cares enough, I yet also bear the domestic ones about with me. These you should lighten by your diligence and obedience, especially as you know with how much love we have raised and cared for you. I therefore admonish you, that you walk in the fear of God, and strive, first of all, to please God, the eternal Judge, and then also good men, and that you will show greater diligence and care in this for my sake. Heartily obey your mother, whom you could already support by your age and virtue."

It was already known at Rome what they were doing in Cologne. The Pope, therefore, sent an admonition to that city, of which Melanchthon writes: "He buries Christ, and promises a change of affairs." But the Archbishop did not permit this to terrify him. When the plan or book of the Reformation was finished, it was read to him, in the presence of the dean of the cathedral, Count von Stolberg, and other counsellors. Six days were spent in reading[Pg 199] and discussing it. The Bible, translated by Luther, was lying before them. The Elector himself looked for the passages referred to. He approved of the book, and it was also unanimously adopted by the chamber of deputies. But the Chapter and Clergy of Cologne, led by Groper, were most decidedly opposed to it. And at the same time the superstitious populace was excited against it, and their opposition was considerably increased by a lampoon written by a Carmelite monk named Billig.

Towards the end of July, Melanchthon departed, and passed through Frankfort, where he closed a dispute concerning some customs in the Lord's Supper; and also through Weimar, where the Court wished to see him, and arrived in Wittenberg on the 15th of August. It is true he had been absent for a longer time than had been allowed by the Elector. So much more did the professors and students rejoice who had gone to meet and escort him into the city. A few days afterwards he wrote to Dietrich: "The Reformation of the Church is, by the grace of God, progressing very finely in the territory of Cologne;" and to Matthesius: "The Reformation is already introduced into several cities, and pious and learned preachers teach faithfully and purely. We will pray God that he would suffer the light of his truth to shine far and wide, and also preserve it." Great as his hopes of a prosperous progress of the Reformation in the Electorate of Cologne were, he was obliged to relinquish them to a considerable degree, when he heard that the refractory Chapter had accused the aged Archbishop before the Pope and the Emperor. Finally the old man was deposed from his office, and the work of Reformation, which had thus been commenced, was extinguished.

[Pg 200]



We have learned before that Melanchthon was compelled to pass through much tribulation. But the year 1544 is particularly marked in this respect. Domestic afflictions are certainly among the bitterest we are called upon to bear, and such he amply experienced. His favorite daughter, Anna, had formed an unhappy marriage with the poet Sabinus, who was a frivolous debauchee, and wished to be divorced from her. However, the Lord separated them by the death of Anna, in 1547. We shall speak of this again. His son Philip also gave him much trouble. While he was yet a student of law, about nineteen years old, he was betrothed to a young woman of Leipzig, without the knowledge of his parents. This grieved his father exceedingly.

But he was still more troubled on account of his relations with Luther, with whom he was at variance at this time. This was caused by Melanchthon's changed views of the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. We have remarked before that it was an arbitrary act on his part, and one which has done much harm, to alter the Augsburg Confession. For it was not his private work, but a public Confession. He altered this document in the editions of 1533 and 1535, but it was not until the year 1540 that he published a greatly changed edition. An old account says that Luther found fault with him on this account, and said[Pg 201] to him: "Philip, you are not acting rightly in altering the Augsburg Confession so often, for it is not your book, but the book of the Church." These alterations particularly referred to the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, with which Eck had reproached him at Worms.

He expressed this article in such a manner that the Catholics and the Reformed could include their views. This may have been satisfactory enough to the Reformed, but the Lutherans were highly displeased. Luther adhered to the bodily eating and drinking of the body and blood, as he had taught from the beginning. Although he had not laid so great a stress upon this point for the last few years, he now asserted it again. There were some faithful adherents of the Gospel in Venice, who were compelled to endure great oppression. They applied to Luther, and complained of their afflictions, and spoke particularly also of the spread of the Swiss views of the Lord's Supper. Luther replied, that he had only formed a concord with the Upper Germans, but would have nothing to do with the Swiss, particularly those of Zurich. They are indeed learned, but intoxicated men, who merely eat common bread in the Lord's Supper. They should beware of false prophets, and adhere strictly to the doctrine of the connection of the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine, even if many should think of a transubstantiation. When Melanchthon heard of this letter, he was much grieved, for he thought that Luther had conceded transubstantiation, which, however, was not the case. But the flame only began to break forth somewhat in the year 1544. During this year the Reformation book of Cologne was brought to Wittenberg. When Luther came to the article on the Lord's Supper, he would not read any further, and wrote to Chancellor Brück, who had sent it for[Pg 202] his inspection, by the order of the Elector: "The book does not only tolerate, but encourages the fanatics, and is far more favorable to their doctrine than our own. If I am to read the whole of it, our gracious Master must allow me further time, until my displeasure has abated. Otherwise I do not wish to look at it. And besides this, as the Bishop shows, it is altogether too long and too great nonsense, so that I can well perceive that chatterer, Bucer, in it." It is true that Bucer had prepared the book, but not without Melanchthon's approbation.

Luther had said, in the spring of this year, that he did not suspect Melanchthon in the least. But when he visited Amsdorf during the summer, and was in the habit of thundering against the Sacramentarians, in the pulpit and elsewhere, Melanchthon feared the worst, and wrote both to Bucer, and to Bullinger in Zurich, that Luther had never treated this matter more violently than at present, and that, on the whole, there was little hope of peace. At last Luther published his "Short Confession" concerning the Lord's Supper, which is one of his ablest productions. However strongly he attacked the Swiss in this, nothing was said of Bucer and Melanchthon, the latter of whom had feared an attack. About this time, as Melanchthon himself states in a letter to Myconius, October 10th, 1544, he had a conversation with Luther, in which he assured him that he had always granted a union of Christ with the bread and wine; so that if bread and wine are taken, Christ is truly present, and makes us his members. He believes that Luther was satisfied with this; but if not, he would be obliged to think of removing from Wittenberg, which he had been advised to do, and for which he had many and weighty reasons. However, after some time, a better state of feeling seemed to be established, so[Pg 203] that Melanchthon could reply to Chancellor Brück's inquiries, "that there was nothing of importance:" and Brück wrote to the Elector, "I cannot learn anything from Philip, but that he and Martin are very good friends. May the Almighty add his blessing to it!"

But Luther's Short Confession had called forth a violent refutation from Bullinger, and it was again feared that Luther would make another attack, especially upon Melanchthon, who was a correspondent of Bullinger. The Elector heard of it, and directed his Chancellor to pacify Luther, and to request him not to attack Melanchthon, "which, if it should take place, would cause us a great deal of sorrow." If Philippus adhered to those of Zurich or others, Luther should admonish him in a Christian and paternal manner, and that would certainly be effectual. Their ancient friendship was gradually restored, whether by a conversation with Melanchthon or in some other way, is not known. That Luther was not induced to depart from the true doctrine by the attacks from Zurich, is evident in a letter, addressed by him to a friend, not long before his death, from which we merely extract these words: "I am satisfied with this blessedness of the Psalm, 'Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the Sacramentarians, nor standeth in the way of the Zwinglians, nor sitteth in the seat of the Zurichers. Here you have my opinion.'"

So many sorrows resting upon Melanchthon injuriously affected his body and spirit. He was seized by another illness in July, 1544. He wrote to Veit Dietrich, July 1: "Dearest Veit, while I am writing this, I am suffering severely from an affection of the spleen, which has been caused by the afflictions which have weighed upon me for the last two months; and if my spleen ulcerates, I shall[Pg 204] lose my life." His dear friend Camerarius, who had heard of this illness, hastened to Wittenberg, to see and comfort him. On the 6th of July, the sufferer was able to write to Myconius: "Although my health is not yet established, (for the disease of the stone is added to my other afflictions, and in two days I have passed three stones with great pain,) yet I attend to my scholastic labors, to which God has called me, and I pray for the civil government."

He at this time also received the sad tidings that one of his best friends, the celebrated Jerome Baumgartner, of Nuremberg, had been captured by the robber-knight, Albert von Rosenberg, when he was returning from the Diet of Spire. We cannot deny ourselves the pleasure to communicate some parts of the letter of consolation, addressed to Baumgärtner's wife by Melanchthon: "We pray God that he will not permit you to sink in this great distress, but would by his Holy Spirit grant you comfort and strength, as he has often promised that he is a God who dwelleth with the sorrowful, as I have often experienced in no slight afflictions. And may you particularly console yourself with these three considerations: first, that what our Saviour said is certainly true, that all our hairs are numbered by God; that is, that God regards and preserves us, although we may be in danger. Therefore, even as he preserved Daniel among the lions, so he will also comfort and preserve your lord in the midst of the robbers who have captured him. In the second place, that this also is certainly true, that the Divine Majesty has promised, and pledged itself, to be with the troubled and terrified who call upon him, as it is written in the 37th chapter of the Prophet Isaiah. Therefore you should not doubt that the Eternal God is with your lord and you, and will strengthen and save you from this great distress. In the[Pg 205] third place, it is certain that it is God's will that we should acknowledge him by calling upon him, and that he will manifest his presence by those gifts for which we pray, as he has said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.' Therefore you should not doubt that God will hear you, and the many Christians who are praying that the Lord would restore your husband to you with joy. May the Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, do this for his own glory, and at all times comfort and protect you and your husband. Amen."

He wrote this on the 9th July, 1544; but, with many other sympathizing friends, was obliged to wait an entire year, until the prisoner regained his liberty, and could return to his family.



When the just-mentioned Baumgärtner attended the Diet of Spire, in 1544, as the deputy from Nuremberg, the Emperor demanded the assistance of the states of the Empire against the Turks, who were giving his brother Ferdinand much trouble in Hungary. The Protestants took advantage of this opportunity, and before all demanded a fixed peace, and equal rights with the Catholics. The Emperor made many promises, and appointed a new diet to be held at Worms. He would have a Plan of Reformation prepared by learned and peaceable men, and[Pg 206] the Protestants should also present their plans. In the meantime there should be a general peace, and no party persecute the other because of religion. Law-suits and proscriptions, on account of religion, should be abolished. These were pleasing prospects for the Protestants, but did not last very long; for the Emperor now made peace with the king of France, and did not find any difficulty in using force of arms in Germany, as he had long ago intended. The Pope also summoned a General Council of the Church, to meet in Trent in the spring of 1545, so that it was easy to see that the affairs of the Church would be disposed of there, and not at the Diet. Melanchthon says, in a letter written January 11th, 1545, to Duke Albert, of Prussia: "The hope was entertained that the Emperor would call a National Synod, or would cause religion to be further discussed; but the Pope could not bear this. On this account the Council has been summoned for the 8th of April. Yesterday I received a letter from Worms, showing the violent feelings of the Emperor."

However, the Elector caused a writing to be prepared for the Diet, called "The Reformation of Wittenberg," composed by Melanchthon. The Theologians of Wittenberg sent this work to the Elector, together with a letter, in which they say: "We have with due submission placed together our humble opinion, and have shown by what we intend to abide to the last." The work itself was divided into five parts, treating of the pure doctrine, the true use of the sacraments, of the ministry, of the maintenance of proper discipline, of the support of needful studies and schools, and also adds one article concerning bodily protection and support. It was a mild and simple confession of the truth. At the same time, they also delivered an opinion in regard to one of Bucer's works, which had been[Pg 207] sent to them for this purpose by the Elector. Bucer had proposed that at the Diet, the Evangelical states should unite in a complaint against the Pope, and refuse to acknowledge that he is the regular ecclesiastical power; and therefore they should labor to bring about a general reformation. But, as it was generally said that the Emperor and the King of France intended to bring about the General Council, those at Wittenberg had good reason for declaring that the Emperor would reject such proposals on the part of the States. They should only wait until the meeting of the Council, for it would propose articles which would enable well-meaning men to see the folly of the Pope and bishops. They did not, therefore, agree with the Opinion of Strasburg, and the Elector was perfectly satisfied with their judgment, for he said: "If the states on our side should accuse the Pope and his adherents before the Emperor, they would by this acknowledge his Majesty to be a judge in this matter."

The result would be bad, for the Emperor was greatly influenced by the Spanish bishops and priests, "and we have not been able to permit or approve of men being judges of the word of God." He also thought it would be best simply to abide by the Augsburg Confession, "for in it nothing is withheld from the Pope and his party," and there is no complaint made. But although he considered the work of his Theologians too mild, the chancellor defended it in a lengthy report of the 20th of January, in which he proves that it agrees fully with the Augsburg Confession and Apology, "which have, by the grace of God, accomplished much good." "God willing, this Reformation will do the same, and will serve to destroy and to disgrace the venomous priests before the world, and his Imperial Majesty also. And your Grace will observe that[Pg 208] Martin and the rest agree fully with him in this." To the wish expressed by the Elector, that Luther should write something against the Pope, the prudent chancellor replied: "May it please your Electoral Grace to spare Martin, until we see that the Papal Council still carries on this villany. Then it will be necessary for him to use the axe valiantly, for which he has been gifted by God's grace with a more valiant spirit than other men." This axe Luther not long after wielded with destructive force, in his publication called, "The Papacy at Rome, founded by the Devil." The Landgrave of Hesse did not find much to object to in the Wittenberg Reformation.

But at the Diet of Worms, which began at the end of March, it was not brought into notice at all, the Protestants themselves not insisting upon its delivery. The Emperor's great object at the Diet of Worms was to induce the Protestants to send delegates to the Council of Trent, which was to be actually convened during the same year. This, however, they refused to do in the most decided manner. He then appointed another Diet, to be held in Ratisbon, January 6th, 1546, at which a religious discussion should take place. They saw very plainly that the Emperor contemplated violent measures, and therefore the Protestants met at the end of the year 1545, in order to renew the League of Smalkald. The Theologians of Wittenberg also advised this League, and said: "We pray that Almighty God may incline the princes and rulers to a cordial, lasting, and inseparable union." But this union was the very thing that was wanting. They resolved to accept the religious discussion at Ratisbon, but to protest against the Council of Trent, which began at last on the 7th of January, 1546. Melanchthon drew up a memorial to this effect.

[Pg 209]As the Protestants had declared that they would send representatives to the discussion at Ratisbon, it was now necessary to elect these delegates. We may suppose that the Court of the Elector had fixed upon Melanchthon, who had given such repeated evidences of his capability. But Luther appealed to the Elector with the words, "As it will be a useless and ineffectual council, of which we can hope nothing, Philip, who is indeed very ill, should be spared." In order to prevent Melanchthon's journey to Ratisbon, he even went to Brück, and explained the state of things to him. Of Melanchthon, he said: "He is a faithful man, who fears or shuns no one, and besides this he is weak and sick. He had no little difficulty in getting him home alive from Mansfeld, for he would not eat or drink. If we should lose this man from the University, it is likely that half the University would leave on his account. He would not advise, but most faithfully dissuade them from sending him." They should send Dr. Zoch and Dr. Maior, who was at least more learned than the Emperor's ass. Cruciger also begged that he should be excused from this discussion and journey. "However, if I knew," said the chancellor in his report, "that Melanchthon would not be excused from the disagreeable affairs at Mansfeld, I would rather advise and urge that he should be sent to Ratisbon. And Philip himself said that he would rather do the last than the first." The Elector yielded, but first summoned Melanchthon to Torgau, in order to consult with him about the discussion at Ratisbon. He here, on the 11th of January, published an Opinion, in which he said that it is not known whether the Emperor will again present one of Groper's books, or whether the Augsburg Confession would be discussed, article upon article. The Emperor was accompanied by a Spanish ecclesiastic, called Malvenda.[Pg 210] Melanchthon thought that he would not fail to oppose the article on Justification. If they desired to destroy the whole discussion, it would be most useful to begin with this article, which is now known and highly esteemed throughout Germany, and among all the godly. This would soon bring matters to a close, and the Protestants could then publish a protest, that the opposite party would not be convinced, and that it would evidently be entirely useless to carry on further negotiations.

The two persons pointed out by Luther, George Maior and Laurentius Zoch, were now chosen to attend the religious discussion at Ratisbon. It is said that when Maior once more visited Luther before his departure, he found upon the door of Luther's study the following words in Latin: "Our professors must be examined concerning the Lord's Supper." Maior asked him: "Venerable Father, what is the meaning of these words?" Luther replied: "They mean just what you read, and as they say; and when you return home again, and I too, an examination must be held, to which you as well as others shall be called." But when Maior in the most decided manner declared his adherence to the true doctrine of the sacrament, Luther spoke at length of this matter, and exhorted him to confess the same in the Church, in schools, and in private conversations, and by these means strengthen the brethren, lead his friends into the right way again, and oppose the wanton spirits. He who has the true Confession cannot stand in one stable with heretics, nor give fair words to the devil and his knaves. A teacher who says nothing against errors is worse than an open fanatic. He either lies under one cover with the enemies, or he is a doubter and weathervane, who is merely waiting to see whether Christ or the devil will gain the victory; or he is[Pg 211] altogether in a state of uncertainty, and is not worthy to be called a disciple, much less teacher."

Thus Luther spake, and Maior thanked him for it. How steadfastly Luther adhered to the truth, which he had recognized in regard to the important article of the Sacrament, may be inferred from this, if it were not known long before. Yet we also know that he was at this time on the most friendly terms with Melanchthon, whom he twice took along with him to Eisleben. Philip was often found at his table, and there was nothing but friendship between them. But in a few days this friendship was to receive a wound which this world could not heal. I do not refer to any change of doctrine, but to Luther's death, which to Melanchthon's great sorrow occurred very unexpectedly at Eisleben.



Melanchthon saw him, his dearly beloved father, for the last time, on the 23d of January, 1546, on which day Luther with his three sons departed for Eisleben, there to assist in settling the difficulties between the Counts of Mansfeld. It is not a part of our design to describe the particulars of Luther's journey, his labors in Eisleben, his short illness, and his blessed death. Melanchthon wrote to Jonas, (and doubtless sent the letter along with him,) that the angel of the covenant might accompany the Doctor, and assist him in his efforts to restore a lasting and[Pg 212] beneficial harmony between the Counts of Mansfeld; and adds, that he was prevented from accompanying him by indisposition. He was at that time suffering from constipation, which he attributed to the stone. And on the 31st of January he wrote to Luther himself that his wife had been greatly troubled about him and the boys, because they had heard that the river Saale was very much swollen. "Now we pray," he adds, "the everlasting God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would bring you all back again in health, when you have been successful in restoring harmony among the Counts of Mansfeld. By God's grace, we are here in the enjoyment of peace; God grant that it may last for a long time." He received the most hearty greetings from Eisleben. On the 18th of February, on which day Luther had already made his happy departure from this world, Melanchthon yet wrote to him. We will here present the beginning of this letter: "To the venerable man, Dr. Martin Luther, distinguished by learning, virtue, and wisdom, the restorer of the true doctrine of the Gospel, his dearest father! Revered Doctor, and dearest Father! I thank you that you have written to me so often and kindly. And we now pray God, the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would lead you all safely home." This prayer was not to be heard, or rather it was to be heard in a far higher sense. On the following day, February 19, he already received the sad tidings of the departure of his dear father, from Jonas. At 9 o'clock he was to lecture on the Epistle to the Romans, but his sorrow would not permit him to do so, and he said to the assembled students: "Beloved, pious young men!—you know that I proposed to explain to you the Epistle to the Romans, according to the simple and natural meaning of the words, because in this is contained[Pg 213] the true doctrine of the Son of God, which God in special mercy has also revealed to us, in this our day, through our venerable father and dear teacher, Doctor Martin Luther. But I have this day received so sad a letter, which troubles and afflicts, and discourages me so much, that I doubt whether I shall be able in future to discharge the duties of my office in the University. What this is I will now relate to you, especially as other persons have also advised me to do so, and especially that you may know how it came to pass, so that you may not relate it differently from what is true, or may not believe other persons who may circulate false reports in regard to the matter, as is generally the case.

"On Wednesday, February 7, shortly before supper, Dr. Martinus was attacked by his usual affection, a pain in the pit of the stomach, with which he was several times afflicted here. This returned after supper, and as it did not cease, he went into his chamber, and laid himself down for about two hours, until the pains had become much worse. He then called Doctor Jonas, who slept in the same room, and asked him to request Ambrosius, the tutor of his sons, to make a fire in the room. He then went in, and was soon surrounded by Count Mansfeld and his lady, and many others, whose names, on account of haste, are not mentioned in this letter. On the morning of Feb. 18, before four o'clock in the morning, he commended himself to God in this prayer: 'My dear heavenly Father, eternal, merciful God! Thou hast revealed unto me thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; him have I taught and confessed, him I love and honor as my dear Saviour and Redeemer, whom the wicked persecute, despise, and revile. Take my soul to thyself!' He then thrice repeated the words: 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit, thou hast redeemed[Pg 214] me, O God of Truth!' and then said: 'God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' This prayer he repeated several times, and was thus taken by God into the everlasting school, and eternal joy, where he is now enjoying fellowship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, together with all prophets and apostles. Alas! the Chariot of Israel is gone, which ruled the Church in this last age of the world. For assuredly this doctrine of forgiveness of sin, and of faith in the Son of God, was not invented by the wisdom of man, but was revealed by God through this man, as we ourselves have also seen that he was awakened by God. Therefore let us willingly remember him, and love the doctrine which he proclaimed; let us also live more discreetly and moderately, and consider what great troubles and changes will follow the departure of this man. I beseech thee, O Son of God and Immanuel, who wast crucified for us, and didst rise again, to rule and protect thy Church. Amen."

Thus Melanchthon spoke and prayed, with tears and with a troubled heart. His hearers were so deeply affected, that it seemed, as Selnecker says, as if the very walls were weeping, for all manifested their sorrow by sobbing aloud. On the 19th of February, he inquired of Jonas on what day they would arrive in Wittenberg with the corpse. In this letter, he also expresses his great sorrow on account of the death of this beloved man: "We are greatly troubled at the loss of such a teacher and leader, not only on account of the University, but also because of the Church Universal of the whole world, which he led by his counsels, doctrine, reputation, and the power of the Holy Ghost. Especially are we troubled when we think of the dangers and storms which will come, since he has been called away[Pg 215] from his post.... But let us call upon our Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, I will not leave you comfortless, that he may continue to guide and preserve his Church, and let us thank him for the benefits he has conferred upon us through Dr. Luther, and let us hold Luther in grateful remembrance." On the same day, he also informed Amsdorf of this calamity, and concluded thus: "Although I have no doubt that many worthy persons everywhere will grieve most sincerely, I yet know that your grief will be still greater, because he had no older and dearer friend than you, and you loved him as a father. You have therefore a great personal reason for your sorrow. But to this must also be added public reasons, for after his death we seem to be threatened by many other evils; but I pray and conjure you, for God's sake, that you would encourage yourself with the divine consolations afforded us in the Gospel, and that you would remember us and the Church."

About noon on the 22d of February, Luther's remains arrived at the Elster gate of Wittenberg, and amidst the ringing of all the bells, and the escort of a vast, deeply-moved multitude, were solemnly conveyed to the Electoral church, where the Elector had assigned him a resting-place. Melanchthon also walked in the procession; and after Bugenhagen had, with many tears, preached an affecting funeral sermon, Melanchthon also ascended the pulpit, and delivered a Latin address, the substance of which we propose to relate.

"Although my own great sorrow almost forbids me to speak in this great sorrow of all pious hearts, and of the Church of Christ, yet, as I am to say something to this Christian assembly, I will not, after the manner of the heathen, merely praise the departed one, but would rather remind this honorable assembly of the great, wonderful,[Pg 216] and divine guidance of the Church, and of the many dangers with which it must always contend, in order that Christians might learn so much better what should grieve them most, what they should seek and ask of God, more than anything else." Thus he commenced, and then spoke of the office which Luther had filled in the Church.

He mentions particularly what he had done in respect to doctrine, how he had taught true repentance, justification by faith alone, the difference between the law and the Gospel, and true good works; how he had translated the Holy Scriptures, "in such a clear and plain manner," into the German language, and had also written other useful books. "Therefore, there can be no doubt but that pious Christian hearts will for ever continue to praise and glorify the divine blessings, which he has given to his Church by the hands of this Doctor Luther. They will first of all praise and thank God for it; but after that, also confess that they have been greatly benefited by the faithful labors of this worthy man in his writings and preaching, and that they owe him thanks for all this." He now speaks of it, that many reproached Doctor Luther "on account of being too severe and rough in his writings." He would reply to this, in the words of Erasmus: "God has also given a severe and rough physician to the world, which in this latter time has been filled with grievous plagues and defects." But he is truly blamed too much. "He always faithfully and diligently defended the true faith, and always maintained a good, sincere, and undefiled conscience. And every one who knew him well, and had much intercourse with him, must confess that he was a very kind-hearted man; and when among others, was always friendly, amiable, and gracious in his conversation, and by no means insolent, stormy, obstinate, or quarrelsome. And yet[Pg 217] withal, there was an earnestness and bravery in his words and gestures, which should be found in such a man. In short, he had a heart, faithful and without guile, words gracious and friendly, and, as St. Paul requires of the Christian, 'whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.' Therefore, it is evident that the severity which he manifested in his writings against the enemies of the pure doctrine, did not proceed from a quarrelsome or wicked spirit, but rather from his great earnestness and zeal for the truth. This testimony must be given by us, and many pious persons, who saw and knew him intimately." He then proceeds to say: "No unchaste act or any other vice was ever discovered in him, no word leading to tumult or rebellion was ever heard from his lips, but he always exhorted men to reconciliation and peace; he never mingled other things with matters of religion, and never made use of any intrigues to strengthen his own power or that of his friends."... "I myself have often heard him pray with many tears for the whole Church. For he daily took time to repeat a few Psalms, with which he mingled his prayers to God, with sighs and tears, and often, in his daily conversation, expressed his displeasure against those who, because of their indolence or business, pretend that it is sufficient to call upon God with a brief ejaculation."... "We have likewise frequently seen, when great and important debates in regard to sudden and dangerous emergencies arose, that he always exhibited great courage and manliness; for he was not easily terrified, and did not lose confidence on account of threats, or dangers, or terror. For he trusted to this sure foundation, as upon an immovable rock, even upon the help and support of[Pg 218] God, and permitted nothing to take this faith and confidence from his heart. Besides this, he possessed so great and keen an understanding, that he could tell before all others what should be advised and done in intricate, dark, and difficult affairs and disputes. That so worthy a man, gifted with such a mind, of sound learning, and tried and experienced by long practice, gifted with many lofty, Christian, and peculiar virtues, chosen by God to raise up the Church; one, too, who loved us with all his heart as a father; that such a man should have been called away, and has departed from this life, and from our midst and association, even from the foremost place of all, is surely enough to call forth our sorrow and distress. For we are now like poor, wretched, forsaken orphans, who have lost an affectionate and excellent father. However, as we ought to obey God, and resign ourselves to his will, we should for ever cherish the memory of this our beloved father, and never suffer it to be effaced from our hearts." The speaker then proceeded to describe the pleasant lot which had fallen to the sainted one in heaven, after having found that for which he had wished for a long time. "We ought not to doubt that this our dear father, Dr. Luther, is present with God, in external happiness." It is God's will that we should always remember his virtues, and the blessings bestowed upon us through him. We should faithfully discharge this debt of gratitude towards him, and should acknowledge that he was a precious, noble, useful, and blessed instrument in God's hands; and we should study his doctrine diligently, and preserve it faithfully. We should also regard his virtues as an example to be imitated by us; such as his piety, faith, earnest and fervent prayer, fidelity and diligence in office, chastity and modesty, prudence, anxiety to avoid everything which might cause tumults[Pg 219] and other offences, and a constant pleasure and desire to learn more and more.

Thus Melanchthon spoke with a sorrowful heart. He felt more than all how much he had lost in Luther, who might well be compared to the sturdy oak, against which this timid man could often lean. He expressed his sorrow in every direction, as his letters at this time prove. And his way was gradually becoming lonely, for his dearest friends were dying, as for instance Spalatin; and the departure of another, his beloved Myconius, who had once before been snatched from the bonds of death by the faith and prayer of Luther, was also near at hand. Myconius was suffering with bronchitis, and it was evident that he would soon rest from his labors. It was at this time that Melanchthon addressed two letters to him, which we present on account of their consolatory contents. On the 1st of March, 1546, he wrote: "I most earnestly wish that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, might again restore your bodily strength, so that you might serve the Church longer, and superintend the studies of your sons. But if God, my Frederick, has resolved to call you away, oh! then consider into what an assembly you shall be admitted; to God, and his Son given for us, to the patriarchs, prophets and apostles. You will see and converse with those who shall proclaim the glory of God to you without deceitful arts. I seek their intercourse with such ardent desire, that I am often sorrowful that I am obliged to sojourn longer in this earthly prison, especially as I am constantly contending with great sufferings and dangers. Rather would I be torn in pieces than unite with those deceivers who are at present endeavoring to consummate false unions. And yet you know that I am constantly[Pg 220] called to attend these artful proceedings. Therefore I beseech you to commend the Church and me to God!" And on March 4, he wrote: "Dearest Frederick! The gracious word of the Son of God has frequently comforted me in great afflictions: 'Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.' We will not seek any other explanation of the sheep, than that given us by Christ, who calls those his sheep who hear and love the Gospel. We are such, without doubt. Therefore, in all the dangers of this life and of death, we should entertain the confiding assurance that the watchman and defender, our shepherd, the Son of God, is with us always. Since Luther has been called away from this mortal state of existence, I have, besides my sorrow, additional cares and labors."

On the 7th of April, Myconius died, to the great sorrow of Melanchthon, who thus expresses it in a letter to Jonas: "Frederick Myconius, after contending with his disease for a long time, has at last been called away from this mortal life. You see that the righteous are gathered in, that they may not behold the approaching calamities, which may God lessen, as we pray." These calamities were nearer at hand than he thought.

[Pg 221]



While Luther's death was not only deeply moving Wittenberg and Saxony, but all the friends of the Gospel elsewhere, the religious discussion of Ratisbon, which had been commenced on the 27th of January, was in full operation, but not in a very encouraging manner. For the Spanish Ecclesiastic, Malvenda, proved himself to be a proud and obstinate priest. He had proposed nine propositions in regard to the article on Justification, which were composed in such a way that it was altogether impossible for the Protestants to accept them. The latter, therefore, declared in a protest, that they intended to abide by the Augsburg Confession, and regarded this as the true Catholic and Christian doctrine. The Theologians of Wittenberg were of the same opinion; and, in a letter to the Elector of the 5th of March, declared: "Dr. Martinus has left a valuable jewel behind him, even the true meaning of Christian doctrine, which we wish to transmit, undefiled, to our posterity. May God grant us his Grace and Holy Spirit for this purpose!" But on the banks of the Danube, that is, in Ratisbon, the Imperial party would have nothing to do with this pure doctrine, and laid every difficulty in the way of the Protestants. Indeed, it appeared more and more, that the whole discussion was a mock-fight, and that the Emperor was determined[Pg 222] to cut the Gordian knot with his sword. He indeed did not wish this to be made known, for he was a deceitful man, who well knew how to conceal his thoughts. But the Elector saw through his disguise, and ordered his Theologians to retire from the discussion at Ratisbon. They returned in the beginning of April.

Melanchthon about this time prepared an opinion in the name of the Theologians, in which resistance against the Emperor is declared to be a duty: "If it is true that the Emperor intends to fall upon these States on account of religion, then it is doubtless right that these States should earnestly protect themselves and their subjects, with the help of God." When the Emperor, therefore, came to Ratisbon, and had opened the diet on the 5th of June, the Protestants were forced to ask him the reason of his warlike preparations.

He distinctly told them "that, as he was unable to restore peace in Germany by mild measures, he was obliged to proceed against the disobedient with the power of the Empire." The Pope united with him, and published this treaty, in which he openly speaks of the extermination of heretics. Melanchthon wrote about this to Amsdorf, on June 25th: "It is certain that the Emperor Charles is preparing to wage a terrible war against the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave. Already large armies are gathered in the neighborhood of Guelders, and troops, to be supported by the Pope, are expected from Italy. Charles does not conceal that he intends to wage war against the Duke of Saxony; for he called together the deputies of the cities in Ratisbon, and exhorted them not to assist the Duke of Saxony. But the cities nobly and firmly declared that they would not forsake their ally in the hour of danger. So much of the beginning of the war.[Pg 223] But as God protected the house of the widow of Zarephath, so I pray that God would protect our princes, who govern justly, and do many good services to the churches and the studies of religion." As the treaty between the Pope and the Emperor was published, the Protestants opposed it in a public address, in which they asserted that the Emperor had been instigated to this war by the Roman Antichrist, in order to suppress religion, and German liberty. On the other hand, the Emperor gave as a reason the disobedience of the princes, which was particularly shown in their invasion of the rights of the bishops and founders, in the expulsion of the monks, and also because they detained the Duke of Brunswick in custody. The Pope ordered public prayers for the extermination of heretics, but the Protestants made all possible preparations to resist the Emperor.

Melanchthon published Luther's excellent little book, "A Warning to my beloved Germans," and added an encouraging introduction, in which he says: "Let all who fear God in Germany, now seriously consider and remember what they owe to God in these terrible warlike preparations. For now that it is known that the Pope is lending such great aid in money and soldiers to carry on this war, there can be no doubt that it is his principal aim to exterminate the true doctrine, which is now preached in our churches, and to re-establish and secure forever his own idolatry and errors, by shedding of blood, murder, the lasting destruction of the German nation, and by dismembering all the Electoral and princely families." He encourages resistance, and adds: "I am surprised that wise men have suffered themselves to be induced to begin this war. But it is not only the work of men, the devil's rage, and desire to bring about greater destruction and[Pg 224] misery in Christendom.... But I pray all God-fearing men earnestly to beseech God to protect his Church, in which the true doctrine is preached, and also every Christian government. Besides this, all such should remember that every one is in duty bound to aid in preserving the true Christian doctrine, according to his position and means. For this we live, and we cannot do a better work in this life."

The Imperial ban of the Empire against the Elector and the Landgrave, the two leaders of the league of Smalkald, made its appearance on the 20th of July. Besides this, Duke Maurice of Saxony, who was full of ambition, betrayed the cause of his relative, the Elector, and the cause of the Protestants in general. He went over to the Emperor's side. But before the Emperor had gathered his troops, the Protestants were already standing on the banks of the Danube, in the month of July, with an army of 40,000 men, prepared to strike. But they did not make a good use of their favorable position, for they could at this time have brought the war to an end by one decisive blow. The experienced commander of the Upper Germans, Sebastian Schärtlin, wished to fall upon the Emperor, who with a few hundred men was then in Ratisbon, and compel him to make peace. But his plan was defeated by the scruples of the leaders of the League, until the Emperor had received reinforcements, and was now able to assume an offensive attitude. He soon became master of the Danube, and entered Swabia. When the leaders of the League now proposed terms of peace, he ordered them to surrender at discretion. Here they also learned that Duke Maurice had united with the Emperor, and therefore the two leaders of the League resolved to return to their own dominions, in order to protect them, especially as[Pg 225] Maurice had already entered the Electoral dominions, and was capturing one city after the other. The Emperor had also promised the Electoral dignity to Duke Maurice. When the princes retreated, with the intention, it is true, of meeting the Emperor the following spring with a stronger force, they placed the game entirely in his hands. He conquered, and laid under contribution, the various confederate cities in Southern Germany; and on the Rhine, humbled the aged Duke Ulrich, of Würtemberg, and deprived the aged Archbishop of Cologne of his princely dignity. He had thus covered his rear in Swabia and on the Rhine, and was now able, without much difficulty, to shift the war into the dominions of the two leaders of the Confederation.

While the Emperor was proceeding thus in Southern Germany, and on the Rhine, the Elector, John Frederick, entered Thuringia with 2000 men, and soon swept away the armies of Duke Maurice. He even entered his dominions, and conquered the whole land, with the exception of Leipzig. At Altenberg, he was opposed by Maurice and his ally, the Margrave Albert, of Brandenburg, but in vain. For the Margrave was taken prisoner, and Maurice evacuated the country. Thus John Frederick stood as a victor upon the banks of the Elbe, but without taking advantage of his victory.

We may easily suppose that the University and schools could not prosper much in these warlike times. When the troops of Duke Maurice were advancing, it was thought advisable in Wittenberg to dissolve the University. The Margrave Joachim offered a retreat to Melanchthon. Many fled to Magdeburg, but Melanchthon selected Zerbst, when the troops of Maurice threatened Wittenberg. We may conceive the feelings of Melanchthon's heart, when aged[Pg 226] sires, women, and children, were thus compelled to flee, in mid-winter, in a snow-storm. He was received in a hospitable manner at Zerbst, and at the same time also received invitations from Brunswick and Nuremberg. But, while everything looked so gloomy, the sky assumed a bright appearance at the return of the Elector, who had so expeditiously cleared his dominions of hostile troops. Melanchthon, too, returned to Wittenberg, now freed from the siege, but only for a few days, as matters were still in a state of insecurity and uncertainty. He returned to Zerbst, and was destined soon to experience greater calamities than ever before. But, although he was greatly afflicted, he comforted himself with the word of God. He at this time wrote to Camerarius: "Let us be assured that God will preserve the seed of his Church and of the truth, as he has so repeatedly promised in his divine word, and let us not doubt that God has our welfare at heart, even if the world should be destroyed." In the beginning of February, 1547, he again returned to Wittenberg for a few days, and thence wrote to the Elector to make peace, but without effecting anything.

While Melanchthon was deeply afflicted by the death of his beloved daughter Anna, who had been married to Sabinus, and died on the 26th of February, in the flower of life, he was also to behold calamities falling upon the dominions of his prince from every quarter. The Emperor had arisen with the determination to subdue John Frederick. He united with his brother Ferdinand and Duke Maurice, at Egra, and advanced into the Electoral dominions with 27,000 men, while the Elector had rapidly retreated to Wittenberg, which was well fortified. But he was overtaken by the Imperial cavalry. A battle was fought at Mühlberg, April 24. The pious Elector was at[Pg 227] the time attending divine worship, and thought that he ought to remain until the close; he was overtaken on the heath of Lochau, and after a brave resistance on his part, was made prisoner. The Emperor received him in a very ungracious manner, and ordered him, together with the captive Duke Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg, to be conveyed to the camp. Intoxicated by his victory, he even went so far as to pronounce sentence of death upon the Elector, against all the prerogatives of princes. But the Elector received the announcement with the greatest tranquillity. However, he did not venture to execute the sentence, and changed it to imprisonment for life. As the Elector steadily rejected the resolutions of the Council of Trent, he was declared to have forfeited his lands and electoral dignity, and the traitor Maurice was entrusted with the Electorate. When Melanchthon, who was then at Zerbst, heard of the defeat of the Elector, he was deeply moved, and thus expresses his troubles in a letter written to Caspar Cruciger, on the 1st of May: "Dearest Caspar, if I were able to weep as many tears as the Elbe rolls deep waters by you and our walls, I could not weep out my sorrow on account of the defeat and imprisonment of our prince, who truly loved the Church and Justice. Many important considerations increase my distress. I deeply commiserate the prisoner. I foresee a change of doctrine, and a new confusion of the Churches. Then, what an ornament is destroyed in the dispersion of our school? and we too are torn asunder. Truly, if it were possible for one to consider, I would rather die in your society, and before your altars, than wander about in this state of exile, in which my strength is daily decreasing." As the Spanish and Italian soldiers made great havoc, and especially mal-treated women and maidens, he did not consider Zerbst a[Pg 228] safe retreat any longer. He, therefore, removed with his family to Magdeburg. He here met Luther's widow, who was about to depart to Denmark, where she had found a noble patron in the king. He accompanied her to Brunswick, where she remained for some time, and he went to Nordhausen. A faithful friend, Mayor Meienberg, resided here, with whom he had carried on a cordial correspondence. He had written to him on Ascension day, shortly before his arrival in Nordhausen: "I write this letter on a happy day, in which the Ascension of the Son of God is publicly commemorated, and which was beheld in former days by many of the Church with their own eyes. And I thought of the sweet words of comfort which are read on this day. But the Son of God still sitteth at the right hand of the Eternal Father, and bestows his gifts upon the children of men. Therefore, if we call upon him, he will also grant us gifts, and protect and preserve his Church." And this trust, which he reposed in the Lord of the Church, was not put to shame.

He dropped the plan he had formed, of visiting his home, and also declined a call to the University of Tübingen, which he received at this time; for his heart was wedded to Wittenberg, which had become his second home. He wrote to a friend on the 5th of June: "The University of Tübingen has called me. But in my bosom and inmost feelings I feel a great affection for our little nest on the Elbe, and towards the friends residing there, and in the neighborhood, so that it would give me the greatest pain to part from them. Therefore I shall soon return to the Elbe again."

[Pg 229]



His desire to return to Wittenberg was to be gratified sooner than he expected. In the beginning of June, he was informed by his countryman, the Imperial secretary Obernburg, that Duke Maurice had become Elector, and intended to restore the University of Wittenberg; and by a letter from Cruciger, the former instructors were called upon to return. Already, on the 8th of June, Melanchthon signified his intention of going to Wittenberg or Dessau, in order to consult with his friends in regard to this matter. A portion of the dominions of the Elector had been left to his sons, including Weimar, Jena, Eisenach, Gotha, and other places; and it seems the father was anxious that a new institution should be founded in Jena. This wish of the Elector, who was deeply interested in the cause of the Gospel, was worthy of all commendation; for the treachery of Duke Maurice did not permit the hope that Wittenberg would again become a nursery of the pure doctrine. It must, therefore, have been a very desirable object with the young dukes, to secure the former teachers of Wittenberg, particularly Melanchthon, for the new school. The elder Duke therefore requested Melanchthon not to remove from those parts. He immediately replied from Nordhausen, June 9th, 1547: "Although the parents of your Grace, as well as your Grace, and your brothers, and all your faithful subjects, are[Pg 230] plunged at present into the deepest sorrow which can come upon us in this world of trouble, yet we ought not to forget that God seeth all these things, and if we call upon him with all the heart, will lessen our misery, and show mercy, although we must endure chastisement for a season. I thank your Grace most humbly that you have been graciously pleased to invite me to stay near you; and if I could serve your Electoral Grace in an humble position as a teacher, I would rather serve your Grace in poverty, than in riches in other quarters, although I have been invited to several places. But I will not leave your dominions without the knowledge of your Grace. I intend soon also to pay another visit to Wittenberg." At the same time, he also received a letter from his friends at Wittenberg, urging him to come thither. In a letter to a friend there, he says: "I love the University as my home, for I have there lived in the greatest intimacy with learned and honorable colleagues, and we have together endeavored to spread abroad the doctrine of the most needful things, with moderate zeal. The son of the imprisoned prince has merely requested me not to leave his dominions, without previously informing him of my intention to do so; and if I could find a little place, even in an humble school in his dominions, I would be inclined to serve him. For I am not thinking of a brilliant position, but of my grave." He now for the first time learned that it was intended to establish an institution of learning at Jena; and he therefore wrote to the dukes that he would come to Weimar, "in order to hear further what your wishes may be, and also to communicate my own simple and humble opinion." From a number of letters written at this time, for instance, from one written to Augustin Schurff, on the 13th of July, it is evident that he had no other intention but to settle[Pg 231] where he might live and labor together with his old friends and colleagues. He said: "I will regard the place of their residence as my native land." However, he went to Weimar, in order to consult with the dukes and Chancellor Brück. Here, it seems, they intended to gain over Melanchthon for Jena, without, however, appointing his friends. This did not please him. Without expressing his sentiments fully, he proposed to retire to Zerbst, in order to consult with Schurff, Eber, and some other friends. But in Merseburg, he, on the 18th of July, received letters from George of Anhalt, and Cruciger, summoning him to Leipzig. Duke Maurice was there at the time, and wished to see the Wittenberg Theologians, especially Melanchthon, who immediately departed for Leipzig. Bugenhagen refers to this in the following manner: "There Master Philip came to us, on account of which we greatly rejoiced, and thanked God. My most gracious lord (Maurice), entertained us splendidly in his own inn, paid all our expenses, and honored us with various gifts, and presents of money; he also received us in person, in a very gracious manner, and publicly declared before us, and all the Superintendents, that he would never permit himself to be led back to those Papal errors, which oppose the word of God, and the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore we should continue to teach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to condemn such abuses, together with all other fanaticism and error. His Electoral Grace also enjoined it upon us, that we should call the professors of the University of Wittenberg together again, resume our lectures, and to call the Consistory of the Church." Ratzeberger relates that the Elector presented a velvet cap, filled with dollars, to Dr. Pommer and Master Philip, and assured all of his favor.

[Pg 232]The Elector Maurice had before this been exhorted to restore the University, and he had now returned a gracious answer. Melanchthon rejoiced that he was able to return to Wittenberg again. On the 25th of June, he departed thither, accompanied by Bugenhagen, Cruciger, and Eber; after having declined the invitation to remain as professor in Leipzig. He wrote to Camerarius: "I do not know how long I shall remain here." And to Weinlaub: "The deliberations in regard to the restoration of the University are still very uncertain, for, as you may imagine, many difficulties stand in the way." And to Aurifaber, August 4th: "You are familiar with the old accounts, with what great difficulty cities were restored after their destruction. How often was the rebuilding of Jerusalem hindered, after the return of the Israelites from Chaldea! And yet the temple was finally restored. Thus will our University perhaps be restored again, although it be done slowly; I trust that it may be accomplished by the help of God." The prince gave the best assurances that he would secure a new income; and this was very necessary, for the University owned very little real-estate. Melanchthon was actually living at his own expense;[22] and, as he remarked in the[Pg 233] last of the letters above, the restoration was progressing very slowly. But notwithstanding all this, he declined repeated offers from Königsberg, Frankfort-on-the-Oder, &c., so firmly was he rooted in Wittenberg. He wrote to Meienburg: "Verily, if this University is not restored, a state of barbarism will fall upon the churches, which may God prevent!" On the 12th of August, he went with Eber to Dresden, in order to consult with Chancellor Cummerstadt about the income of the University, without, however, receiving any definite promises. His family were still in Nordhausen, whither he went to pay them a visit in October. He was accompanied by his son-in-law Sabinus, who, in compliance with Melanchthon's wishes, had brought his daughters to the house of their grand-parents, to be raised by them. At last, in the middle of October, the University was restored, and the family could again remove to the old home.

By thus remaining in Wittenberg, in the service of the perfidious Duke Maurice, Melanchthon was much reproached by the friends of the unfortunate prisoner, and his sons, who were establishing a University in Jena. And it will remain a question, whether it would not have been more honorable in him to have retired to Jena. However, we must hear the reasons which induced him to pursue this course. He justified this step, in various letters addressed to his friends. He wrote to the Pastor Aquila, in Saalfeld, August 29th: "As there seemed some prospect of the restoration of our University, and my colleagues earnestly conjured me to return, I was persuaded to do so by considering the name of the University, my connection with my colleagues, and the desertion and affliction of this Church, towards which many nations formerly directed[Pg 234] their eyes. It seemed a mark of the special mercy of God that our city was not utterly destroyed, and I would regard it as a greater mercy still, if our University should be re-established. Although I know that many speak ill of me on account of this my return, I yet do not reply, but merely pray that my grief may be forgiven me. Ennius says a melancholy mind is always in error. In my great sadness I therefore longed too earnestly for my old friends, with whom I labored so long in one and the same excellent work. I also hoped too much in these insecure times, when I believed in the possibility of the restoration of the University, the certainty of which is not yet apparent. At all event, I did not seek carnal pleasures or treasures. I live here like a stranger at my own expense, in constant sorrow and prayer, and no day passes over my head without tears." As many friends of the Gospel entertained the suspicion that the truth would now be departed from in Wittenberg, Melanchthon declared in a letter to Aquila: "When those, of whom you write, say that the preachers of this place have deserted the truth, they do great injury to this Church, which is already sufficiently distressed. By God's grace, the voice of the Gospel now resounds as unanimously in the city of Wittenberg as it did before the war. And almost every week, ministers of the Gospel are publicly ordained, and sent into the neighboring districts. It was but this week that six pious and learned men were sent forth, all of whom declare, even as formerly, that they will preach the pure Gospel to their hearers. And they are likewise examined, as in former times. The facts of the case prove that we have not changed our minds in regard to doctrine. We also offer up public and private prayers for the imprisoned prince. We do not hear any[Pg 235] one speak ill of our prince, and the authorities of this city would not permit anything of the kind. Therefore, I beseech you, do not believe those who slander us, or the Church here; I hope that God himself will confute them, and deliver us from their envenomed tongues. I myself honor the imprisoned prince with devout reverence, and daily commend him to God with tears and supplications, and pray God to deliver and guide him. As this is true, I am amazed at the levity of the slanderer who accuses me of the cruelty of preventing prayer for the prince. But I will beseech God, that he would protect his Church everywhere, and that he would also deliver us from such slanders in this our great distress."

Melanchthon thus openly expresses himself in regard to his position at that time, and we are warranted in believing that these were the honest and sincere sentiments of his heart. But still more difficult relations arose, in which his Christian character was to be tried in the severest manner. The following chapters will show how he demeaned himself in these.

[Pg 236]



The Emperor Charles, proud of his victories, would not be satisfied until he also succeeded in securing the second leader of the League of Smalkald, the Landgrave Philip of Hesse. For this purpose he also employed Duke Maurice, which was especially disgraceful, because he was the son-in-law of the Landgrave. Maurice did not believe that the Emperor would capture the Landgrave treacherously, in order to lead him behind his victorious chariot, as he did with Duke John Frederick. The Landgrave yielded to persuasion, and upon his knees asked the Emperor's pardon; yet, notwithstanding all assurances to the contrary, he was seized and made a close prisoner. Thus the League of Smalkald was destroyed, and the Emperor found himself the mighty monarch of all he surveyed.

In the meantime, the Council of Trent had published several articles of religion, which were opposed to the acknowledged Evangelical truth; and the Pope had now also removed it from Trent to Italian soil, to Bologna, in order to have it completely in his power. This displeased the Emperor, who did not like to see the Pope assuming too powerful and prominent a position. On the 1st September, 1547, he had opened another diet at Augsburg, towards which many looked with great anxiety. Not only the Ecclesiastical Electors, but also the Protestant princes[Pg 237] were induced, by his influence, to declare that they would submit to the Council, provided it should be removed back again to Trent, and the articles of religion would be reconsidered. John Frederick alone opposed this; while the Pope did the same on the other side, because he could not bear to see the growing power of the Emperor. But Charles had for years learned at least so much, that it would be utterly impossible to introduce into Germany a reformation such as the Papacy desired; and because he wished to hold all the reins, not only of the worldly, but also of the spiritual government, in his own hands, he proposed to undertake the Reformation of the German Church himself. He had entertained this project for a long time, as he also manifested by the Ratisbon book, and now he believed he could carry out his plans, almost without any opposition, as the German States were prostrate at his feet. He therefore proposed to these to appoint a number of able men to meet and deliberate for the present, upon a form of doctrine and discipline for the Church. In January, 1548, Duke Maurice had demanded the opinion of the Theologians of Wittenberg, in regard to this matter. On the 26th of January, they replied: "We see that it is intended to form an interim, which many States, who are now one with us in doctrine, will not receive, which will cause new and great wars. Therefore, we need the Grace of God and good counsel in this matter, which we dread very much. It would be burdensome besides, to afflict our Churches by new changes; and it would be Christian and beneficial to suffer them to remain in their present condition." As the Elector had summoned them to Augsburg, they declared they would hold themselves in readiness. In regard to the Council, which was to be continued in Trent, Melanchthon expressed himself to the following[Pg 238] purpose: "I believe, that if we agree to holding it, we are also bound to obey its decrees. But as various articles are false and opposed to divine truth, I cannot advise their adoption, and thus burden my conscience. But if the Emperor should insist upon a General Council, the other side should also be heard. The Emperor should be urged to permit an accommodation in Germany, as had been advised in Spire. And both sides should present written opinions."

It is highly gratifying that Melanchthon behaved so valiantly in this matter. And this must be valued still more highly, when we remember that the Emperor had twice already demanded his delivery. But the Emperor had already formed his plans. It is very likely that the Elector Joachim II., of Brandenburg, presented a writing to him, which, like the notorious book of Ratisbon, endeavored to bring about an agreement between the Catholics and Protestants. There is very little doubt of the fact, that the Elector's Chaplain, John Agricola, had composed a considerable portion of this book. When he entered his carriage in Berlin, he is said to have remarked that he was now going to Augsburg as the Reformer of Germany, and everywhere praised this performance exceedingly. The Emperor placed this document in the hands of the two Catholic Theologians, Julius von Pflug and Helding, that, in connection with Agricola, they might revise it in such a manner that it might be introduced into Germany as a temporary form of doctrine and discipline of the Church. It is generally called the Augsburg Interim, that is to say, the Augsburg "in the mean time." Agricola was so highly pleased with it, that he could not praise and magnify its advantages too much. It granted the cup, marriage of the priests, and the possession of confiscated church property[Pg 239] to the Protestants; and while it approximated their doctrine of the Church, the mass, and justification, it demanded that the rights of the Bishops, the seven Sacraments, transubstantiation, the invocation of saints, fasting, and ceremonies, should be retained. When Duke Maurice had received the book, he sent it to Melanchthon, who, from Altenburg, gave his opinion as follows: "It resembles the Ratisbon book, some articles being more stringent, others more moderate. What it says of the power of the Bishops needs limitation. It speaks in a very weak manner of faith and grace, although much better than the Council of Trent." Of the Pope and the Bishops, he says: "If the Pope has the true doctrine, we ought to obey him; but if he has not the true doctrine, our obedience must end." He expresses himself in a very decided manner against some points in the articles on the Sacraments, auricular confession, marriage, the mass, and invocation of saints, and says: "Finally, I am not willing to burden my conscience with this book, for the following reason: If the rulers would insist that the Pastors should adhere to this to the very letter, it would cause great persecution, sorrow, and offences, which would have such an injurious influence upon many persons, that they would not believe in any form of religion after it."

After a more thorough examination of the Interim, he published a still more decided and definite opinion from Klosterzelle, whither he had gone, because the Emperor had again demanded his delivery or exile. He pronounces a severer judgment in regard to the "deceitful article of faith and love." "In reality, this is its true meaning: faith is a mere preparation for justification, then cometh love, by which man is justified. That is as much as to say: man is just because of his own works and virtues, so that[Pg 240] this light is taken away; man is just and accepted by God, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, through faith." "Thus man is led away from Christ to depend upon himself, and thus loses the comfort he should find in the Son of God." He adds: "I pray that these things may be well considered, for they concern the glory of God and the harmony of all the Churches." And again: "If they wish to make a tolerable, Christian Interim, they ought doubtless to make a difference between those matters which are right and needful, and those which are unnecessary, wrong, and, besides this, impossible. Why do they wish to desolate the Churches on account of the needless and false masses for souls, invocations of the saints, &c.?" For although the Interim admitted that the mass is no sacrifice for sin, and does not purchase forgiveness of sins, yet it still retained these four errors: the first, that the priest offers the Son of God as a sacrifice in the mass; the second, that by this the people obtain the merits of Christ; the third, that departed saints are to be invoked; and the fourth, that this sacrifice is beneficial to the dead. "These are all terrible lies, and therefore these articles should not be agreed to."

Thus did Melanchthon express himself, and the other Theologians, Cruciger, Maior, and Pfeffinger, agreed with him. The Elector Maurice had not been pleased with the Interim from the beginning, and declared that he would not undertake anything of the kind without consulting his people. When he had, therefore, read Melanchthon's views, he demanded a full and dispassionate opinion from the Theologians. They went to Celle, and prepared one. On the 14th of April they sent it to the Elector, accompanied by a modest, yet determined letter. They again rejected the articles of justification, private masses, masses for souls,[Pg 241] and the canons, while they agreed to confirmation, extreme unction, the power of the Bishops, private absolution without auricular confession, and several festivals and ceremonies, provided that work-holiness and the invocation of saints be abolished. Melanchthon wrote to Camerarius on the following day: "As long as I live I shall act as I did yesterday, and speak the same things, no matter where I shall be." "I have this consolation, that whatsoever cometh from God shall not perish. And I would not wish that our opinions should pass down to posterity if they are not of God."

He wrote a letter of justification to Minister Von Carlowitz on the 28th of April, which gained him the ill-will of many of Luther's friends. We shall communicate some portion of it: "When the prince has formed his resolutions, I shall not make any disturbance, although I may not approve of many things in them, but will either remain silent or go away, or bear whatever arises. I have also formerly borne an almost unbecoming servitude when Luther suffered himself to be led more by his nature, which was inclined to fight, than by his dignity, and the general welfare. And I know that we must silently and modestly bear and cover many defects in the affairs of State, even as we must bear the evil effects of a storm. But you tell me that I am not merely required to be silent, but to approve of the Interim." He proceeds to show the minister that he is by no means quarrelsome, but had always been moderate and advising peace, so that the very persons who now appear in Augsburg as peacemakers, had calumniated him at court on account of his moderation. "And afterwards others, for almost twenty years, called me frost and ice; others again, that I agreed with the enemy. I[Pg 242] recollect even, that one accused me of striving after a Cardinal's hat." But that notwithstanding all this, he had adhered to essentials in doctrine, cutting off all useless questions. He did not wish a change of doctrine, or the expulsion of worthy men, and that he could only think of it with the greatest sorrow. He now discusses the separate articles of the Augsburg book, how much he would yield, and what he would adhere to. But, if he should be regarded an obstinate fool, because he did not agree to all the articles, he would bear it, and imitate those who had preferred the truth to life in far less important things than these." We can easily discover his love of peace in all this, but also that he was determined not to yield in important points. While many of the more decided Protestants misinterpreted his constant yielding, he drew upon himself the highest displeasure of the Emperor, who again wished his expulsion, but without gaining his purpose. Melanchthon about this time wrote to Jerome Weller: "In the consciousness of having desired what is right, we shall bear all that may fall upon us. For, in obedience to the divine commandment, we have sought the truth, which was indeed buried in thick darkness, and we have brought many good things to the light of day. Therefore let us also hope that God will hear our groans. We have experienced the uncertainty of the help of man."

But the Interim did not only displease the Protestants, but the Catholic Electors and Bishops declared in Augsburg that they would adhere to the old state of things, but would not object to it if his Imperial Majesty would bring back the apostates to the right way.

When Melanchthon had returned to Wittenberg, he, by request, prepared an opinion concerning the demand of[Pg 243] the Bishops, that their jurisdiction should be restored to them; in which he plainly declares, that it was impossible to enter into an agreement with the persecutors; "and even if we would patch at it, it would be a peace like that between wolves and sheep." "But as for myself, I declare that we have just and needful reasons for avoiding their false doctrine and abuses. For this is God's eternal and unchangeable commandment: Flee Idolatry."... That the Bishops say of the Augsburg Confession, that it was never lived up to, I do not understand whom or what they mean. But it is certain that in the Churches of Saxony, and as far as Denmark, nothing more or different has been adopted than the doctrine contained in said "Augsburg Confession." The Interim was finally read to the States in the middle of May. The Catholics were not pressed to adopt it, but the Protestants were required to adhere to it until the Council should have published its decrees. Thus the Emperor succeeded in carrying out his own wishes; the Elector of Brandenburg signed it unconditionally, but Maurice only under certain conditions. The Margraves Wolfgang, and John von Custrin, and the prisoner John Frederick, refused to sign, as faithful witnesses of the truth, who would not permit it to be tampered with. The Protestant cities raised a general opposition to it; the cities of southern Germany alone yielded to force, as threats and abuse were employed against them. About 400 ministers of the Gospel in these cities remained faithful to the truth, and were banished. The cities of northern and eastern Germany greatly distinguished themselves by their resistance, especially Magdeburg, which now called itself the chancery of God. The Protestants could with great justice say of the Interim:

"Blest is the man, who can put trust in God,[Pg 244]
And does not consent to the Interim,
For it is but a rogue in disguise."[23]



We have already heard that the Elector Maurice only signed the Interim conditionally. Partly because he did not approve of many things in it, and partly also because he did not think it possible to enforce it in his dominions, where the Reformation had taken such deep root, he presented a protest at Augsburg, in which he explained that he could not at once force the Interim upon his people; it would be necessary first to consult the Chambers; but whatever he could do with God and a good conscience he would diligently do, so that he should not be found wanting. In the month of June he returned to his dominions, and demanded a full opinion from his Theologians at Wittenberg. It was composed by Melanchthon, and was already the fourth which the miserable Augsburg Interim had called forth. With a bold faith he declares in the beginning: "Although war and destruction are threatened, we ought[Pg 245] to esteem the commandment of God greater, that is, we should not deny the truth of the Gospel which has become known to us. Besides this, the doctrine of the Son of God and forgiveness of sins is a particular counsel of God, which He, in infinite mercy, has revealed, and wishes that all men should help to sustain this doctrine, in order that they may call upon him aright, and obtain salvation. Now we know, from many examples, that from Adam's time the devil has tried many arts, again and again, to extinguish or to darken this doctrine. In the third place, it should also be considered what great offence it would cause in our Churches, if false doctrine and idolatry should be publicly introduced into them again. For many pious persons would fall into great distress, and the true worship of God would be hindered." After the opinion has declared that the Theologians would heartily wish to see and enjoy peace, it yet demands that Saxony should not be troubled with the Augsburg Interim. "For it will certainly not be received in many countries and cities." They would review it, and openly and honestly confess the truth it contained, but condemn its errors. The Theologians particularly objected to the article on Justification, and said: "We cannot advise any one to agree with the book in this point." They also rejected the article which treated of the Church and Bishops, and then entered upon an examination of the various articles on the Sacraments, confirmation, extreme unction, repentance, confession, &c., and pointed out every defect, and confessed in conclusion:—"And whereas we have recently received notice that the preface of the work prohibits every one from preaching, teaching, or writing against the Interim, it is necessary, with all humility, to make this declaration: That we shall not change the true doctrine, as it has hitherto been[Pg 246] preached in our churches, for no creature has the right to change divine truth, and no one is permitted to deny truth when known to him." This lengthy opinion was signed by Bugenhagen, Pfeffinger, Cruciger, Major, Melanchthon, and Fröshel, and delivered into the Elector's hands.

On the 2d of July he received his Chambers, together with several Theologians, one of whom was Melanchthon, in the city of Meissen. In his address to the Chambers, the Elector reviewed the entire course of things, and concluded by saying, that they should prove themselves disposed to assist the Emperor in whatever may be promotive of Christian harmony, quiet, peace, and unity, and can be done with the approbation of God and a good conscience." On the 4th of July, Melanchthon wrote to Maienburg: "It has been resolved to address a most reverent letter to the Emperor, beseeching him not to urge the errors of this document upon our Church. I therefore entertain the hope that the Churches of these countries will not suffer any change." He wrote in a still more decided manner to Paul Eber, that those were greatly in error who believed that the dissensions in the Church could be removed by ambiguous efforts to bring about an agreement, because an irreconcilable war exists between the devil and the Son of God, even as it is written: "I will put enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman." He thus concludes this letter: "But I beseech the Son of God, that he would rule and support our minds in confessing and explaining the truth!" The Elector had presented the Augsburg Interim to the Chambers, together with the intimation that they should take the advice of the Theologians. This was done. Melanchthon immediately began the work, and particularly treated of the articles on justification and good works, which were the most rotten in the Interim, and on[Pg 247] which so much, it may even be said all, depended. He, on the whole, considered it most advisable to pray the Emperor to exempt Saxony from the Interim. The Theologians communicated these views to the Chambers: "This is our opinion, we should prefer above all if these churches could remain as they now are. For a change would produce great trouble and offence." The Chambers agreed to this proposition, and besought the Elector to write to the Emperor to that effect. But Maurice, who was bound by the Emperor's kindness towards himself, declared that he could not thus utterly reject the Interim—that they ought to yield in indifferent matters; but that he would postpone the matter to the next meeting of the Chambers.

The adoption of the Interim was particularly urged by the Elector Joachim of Brandenburg, or rather by the author, his Court Chaplain Agricola, who entertained a very high opinion of it, and on his return from Augsburg endeavored to persuade Aquila of Saalfeld to agree to it. But he came to the wrong person, who said of the Interim, "that in the beginning it showed the sheep's clothing, but afterwards the ravening wolf."

When Agricola exclaimed against Melanchthon's Opinion: "Away with Philippus; he writes nothing but lies in his book, the Opinion. Fie upon you! there is not a word in it but they are ashamed of." Aquila answered: "Let us not abuse our teachers, but highly honor them; Master Philip Melanchthon will be able to defend himself." Then Eisleben, (for Agricola was also known by this name,) replied: "I will summon Philip to come to me, and will read the text to him; for the land must be utterly ruined if they oppose the Interim." Aquila replied: "If the devastation of countries is the fruit of the Interim, it would be better if it had never been born." Agricola was[Pg 248] indeed obliged to hear much of such misery, but in Saxony the Interim made no progress at all. Melanchthon also hoped that the people of Saxony would give a brilliant evidence of their constancy, as he at this time expressed himself very decidedly in his letters to various friends. The Margrave John of Brandenburg-Cüstrin, who did not at all agree with the Elector Joachim, in regard to the Interim, and who by not subscribing it in Augsburg had incurred the displeasure of the Emperor, demanded an opinion from Melanchthon. He replied on the 31st of July, that godly and sensible ministers could not adopt it, because it was false in the article on justification: "As regards my own person, by God's grace I will not approve of this book, called Interim, for which I have very important reasons; and I shall commend my poor life to God, whether I be imprisoned or banished." But, as to what counsel should be given to rulers, many things might be said. There are points in this book which no prince, who understands the truth, could receive under any circumstances. As many cities would not approve of it, it would be best not to hasten with a reply. Perhaps the Emperor would be satisfied if a prince should offer to maintain uniformity in non-essentials, and would besides declare what he could and what he could not adopt. But if a government adopts the Interim, it also pledges itself to persecute innocent pastors. Whether rulers are to defend themselves? To this he replies: "As the father of the family is bound, as far as he is able, to protect his wife and children, if a murderer should break into his house, so are rulers bound, as far as they can, to protect their churches and innocent subjects! Whoever wishes to confess the truth, should commend himself to God, and remember that it is written: the hairs of your head are all numbered."[Pg 249] Thus did he always advise. Although he may have recommended compliance in indifferent matters, he never advised any one to submit to a change of doctrine.

We have already heard that Maurice had postponed the final decision in regard to the Interim, to the next meeting of the Chambers. But before this meeting in Torgau, he thought it advisable to enter into negotiations with the two Bishops of his dominions, Pflug of Naumburg, and Maltitz of Meissen, in order to yield everything to the Emperor which could be yielded in accordance with the pure doctrine and conscience. On the 23d of August, prince George of Anhalt and Forster, and Melanchthon with Eber, instead of Cruciger, who was ill, met the two Bishops in Conference in Pegau. The Elector, proceeding from the principle that we must give to God the things that are God's, and to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, said, that he expected that they would not be "obstinate" in those matters which might be granted without detracting from the honor of God, or offending conscience. Of course this conference adjourned after a few days, without having accomplished anything, for the two Bishops would not agree to any change of the Interim. On the 30th of August, Melanchthon returned to Wittenberg by way of Leipzig, to behold the approaching end of one of his dearest friends, Caspar Cruciger, who died on the 16th of November. The sick man, shortly before his death, had a heavy and alarming dream. He said to Fröshel: "Oh, what a terrible and cruel disputation I held in my dream to-day." When he asked to hear the particulars, he replied: "I cannot tell. They wished to persuade me, and to absolve me in regard to it, that it would be all right, and do me no harm, but I protested against it." Fröshel began to comfort him, and Cruciger wished to receive absolution of his sins.[Pg 250] When he had heard it, he began to pray fervently for the church, and with his hands clasped together, he frequently repeated these words: "Father, sanctify them by thy truth, thy word is truth; grant that they may be one in us." Fröshel endeavored to comfort him by a somewhat longer address, to which the dying man replied "Amen!" in a soft tone, and soon after fell asleep in the Lord. We may imagine the greatness of Melanchthon's sorrow, when he received the sad news at the meeting of the Chambers at Celle. He wrote to Dietrich in Nuremberg, that God had at last called Caspar to the heavenly university. Although no one was more distressed at this death than he himself, because they had been most intimate friends, he yet congratulated him upon this happy journey, because he was thereby removed from many sad scenes.

The Chambers had met in Torgau, on the 18th of October. Already on the first day of the session, five knights and two Electoral chancellors, no doubt at the instigation of the Elector, arose and presented a document, in which they explained what they thought of the Augsburg Interim, and what they believed might be yielded. They also at the same time admonished the Theologians to yield in indifferent matters, and thus to save the country from great afflictions. Their proposition leaned towards the Interim, and wished to reintroduce the Catholic state of things, which had been abolished by the Reformation. On the 20th of October, Melanchthon departed from Torgau, deeply distressed at the plans of the Electoral Court, as he himself writes to the prince of Anhalt. In this letter of October 24th, he says that he would not countenance troublesome alterations of doctrine, and would rather suffer banishment or death. He believes that the Emperor's favor could be secured by introducing confirmation, excommunication,[Pg 251] and foolish fasting. But wherefore also the mass? He saw very well that they did not merely wish to reconcile the Emperor, but also to introduce private masses. "If they wish this, I wish they would acknowledge it at once, for I know that I cannot prescribe laws to them; but those could depart who would not be satisfied with such a change of the churches." As late as November 14th, he wrote to Maienburg, that he had indeed always replied with moderation, but that he would never consent to a change of doctrine, and of the mass. This he was now to prove when he came to Celle, with Bugenhagen and Maior, November 16th. The Superintendents Lauterbach, of Pirna, and Weller, of Freiberg, and also Camerarius, of Leipzig, were present. They were requested to revise the Liturgy, which had been prepared in the days of Duke Henry, of Saxony, approved by Luther, and printed in the year 1539, and had been used in the territory of Misnia up to the present time; but these changes were to be made in the spirit of the Interim. The Theologians declared, on the 18th of November, that God, who knows the hearts of all men, knows that we do not contend in an inconsiderate, wilful, or obstinate spirit, but are really anxious for peace; but that they could not accept false doctrine and idolatrous ceremonies.

Upon this the deputies, without the assistance of the clergy, placed together all the articles. This document is called the Recess of Celle. It was to be laid before the next meeting of the Chambers. But previously to this, the Electors Maurice and Joachim met in Jüterbock on the 16th of December, and signed this Recess. The Chambers met in Leipzig on the 21st of December, to which Maurice had summoned all the deputies of his dominions. The Theologians present were the Prince of Anhalt, Melanchthon,[Pg 252] Gresser, of Dresden, Pfeffinger and Camerarius, of Leipzig. The Elector presented the Recess of Celle, and called upon the Chambers to be obedient in everything which duty to God and conscience would permit them to yield. "That will be your own greatest advantage, and also for the peace and quiet of our dominions." The Interim of Celle contained the pure doctrine of the Evangelical Church, and merely wished to adopt such usages and ceremonies from the Catholic Church as were indifferent or non-essential. The Interim which was prepared here in Leipzig, with a reference to previous forms of agreement, is called the Leipzig Interim. They did not dispute about the fall of man; and in regard to Justification, they had already come to terms at Pegau. They declared in this part that man is not justified by works, but by mercy, gratuitously, without our merit, so that the glory may redound to Christ, and not to man. But yet man is not a block; he is drawn in such a manner that his own will also co-operates. Of Good Works, they taught that God indeed accepts men for Christ's sake, but that nevertheless good works are very needful. They said of them, that they must be in us, and are needful to salvation. Melanchthon had composed these articles, while the remaining ones were prepared by the Elector's counsellors. Of the Church, they said that we must receive what she teaches, "as she shall not and cannot command anything opposed to the Holy Scriptures." All other ministers of the Church should be subject and obedient to the bishops, who discharge their office according to the commandment of God, and use it for edification, and not for destruction. Baptism is to be administered with exorcism, the presence and confession of Christian sponsors, and other ancient, Christian ceremonies; and so likewise[Pg 253] Confirmation. Repentance, Confession, and Absolution, are to be taught, and no one admitted to the most holy sacrament of the body and blood, without confession and absolution. Extreme Unction might be practised according to the customs of the Apostles, yet without any superstition and misapprehension. The ministers of the Church should be earnestly and diligently examined prior to ordination. The Mass should be celebrated in future with ringing of bells, lights, and vessels, singing, appropriate dress, and other ceremonies. It also referred to further particulars as to the manner of celebrating mass. The pictures of the passion of Christ and the saints may be present to remind us of them, but are not to receive any divine honor. The hymns are also introduced again. The days of Corpus Christi and the festivals of the holy virgin are to be added to the other festival days. Abstaining from meat on Saturday and Friday, and in Lent, is introduced as an outward observance. The ministers of the Church are to dress differently from the laity.

The Chambers accepted this Interim, only expressing their scruples in regard to Ordination, Confirmation, Anointing (Chrism) the festival of Corpus Christi, and the Mass. They were assured in regard to this by a declaration from the Theologians, December 28th, and the Elector also gave assurances. On the 6th of January, 1549, Melanchthon returned to Wittenberg, and on the same day wrote to Maienburg: "The Leipzig negotiations effect no change in the Church, because the contention in regard to the mass and the canon is postponed until further negotiations. Yet I wish that some things had been prepared differently."

[Pg 254]



The more decided and strict adherents of Luther, who had before found so much fault with Melanchthon, now exhibited particular enmity towards him. He was bitterly reproached on account of his compliance. But we now enter upon a part of the history of his life, and of the evangelical Church, which is not of a very refreshing character. But this too should not be wanting, and will exhibit Melanchthon to us in such a light that we cannot refuse our sympathy, and even acknowledgment to the goodness of his heart, although we may regret the want of an energy like Luther's. These disputes mainly arose from the Interim. In the month of January, the Theologians of Berlin made inquiries of those at Wittenberg concerning the Interim. Agricola had boasted very much of it in the pulpit, and said that now the door of all Europe was opened to the Gospel. They wished to know now whether they comprehended among these "indifferent things," all that had been customary in the Papacy, such as holy water, salt, herbs, palms, consecration of unleavened bread, processions with flags and torches, unction at baptisms and sick-beds, the laying of the cross in passion-week, &c. They therefore asked for a copy of the agreement of Jüterbock, and, on the whole, a fuller explanation of these indifferent things, or Adiaphora, as they are called. They also asked for further explanations in regard to extreme[Pg 255] unction. They replied by Bugenhagen and Melanchthon, on the 11th of January. They were not able to send the articles of Jüterbock, because they had not been present at the secret conference, and did not possess a copy of them. They did not enumerate the consecration of oil and salt among indifferent things, and had always rejected this and other matters. They exhorted those of Berlin to adhere to the Church discipline formerly given by the Elector. They also added this much-disputed sentence: "As such great devastations are occurring in other places, we believe that it is better to endure a hard servitude, if it can only be done without impiety, than to separate ourselves from the Churches." Questions and answers, however, did not everywhere pass off as well as in this instance. The excitement increased among the more determined friends of truth, when the Interim was about to be introduced; and the prince of Anhalt had considerably revised and altered the Liturgy, which had been introduced by Duke Henry. Several conferences were held, and Melanchthon was again actively engaged. On the 13th of April he was present at a meeting of the Chambers at Torgau, where the Interim was to be read. He here communicated the fact, that an adherent of Flacius, most likely Deacon Schultz of Torgau, had accused the Theologians of an intention to lead the people back again to Popery. He at the same time presented a defence to the Chambers, in which he showed that it would be necessary to yield somewhat in indifferent matters, if the main things in doctrine and the Sacrament were sustained. But that they had also yielded somewhat, because they had been seeking to bring about uniformity in doctrine and ceremonies. But this could not be looked upon as strengthening the Papacy. Their opponents declared, indeed, that fear had driven[Pg 256] them to compliance, but to this they would reply: "We ought not to be condemned for being so fearful as to yield indifferent to needful things, and that we are thus fearful, not for our sakes, but the good of the people, children, and the entire government." Luther himself had frequently advised compromises in indifferent matters. That they had not introduced any new ceremonies. He defends himself most powerfully against the objection, that they were introducing idolatry, and thus concludes: "This is indeed a new form of Popery, that these violent persons wish to force every one to hold the same opinions as themselves, and fearfully condemn every one who does not at once agree with them."

The ministers of Hamburg also addressed a long epistle to the Wittenbergers, in which they condemn the principle expressed by them in their reply to those of Berlin, that it would be better to endure a hard servitude in indifferent things, than to leave the churches on their account. They thought that too many things were comprehended under this term, and wished the Theologians of Wittenberg to explain what they meant by indifferent things. Melanchthon replied in a very friendly manner, on the 16th of April. He begins thus: "We are pleased if you admonish and correct us in the spirit of love; for this is a very necessary duty in friendship, and much more in affairs of the church. But yet, we entreat you that you would judge us leniently, according to your wisdom, reputation, and benevolence; and that you would not condemn old friends who have labored much for more than twenty years, and have endured, and do still endure, the greatest conflicts, as we are furiously persecuted by certain other persons, with many false accusations. We therefore do not reply to them, lest hatred and discord might be still more inflamed,[Pg 257] in these sorrowful times." He declares that, by the grace of God, the same Gospel is still preached in Wittenberg, as in Hamburg. They would never permit any alterations in doctrine, and in the Lord's Supper, because these were the eternal counsels of God. They had far more to contend with than those who abused them. They did not consent to anything in customs and ceremonies which contradict the word of God. He further declares that by indifferent things, or Adiaphora, they did not understand magical consecrations, adoration of images, nor carrying about of the consecrated bread and the like, which they rejected by their words and writings, yea, not even the ridiculous stuff which occurs at funerals. Among the Adiaphora, they counted those things which the ancient Church already possessed, such as festivals, public readings, confession and absolution before the Lord's Supper, examination at confirmation, ordination to the ministerial office, and the like. He also defends the principle that it would be better to endure a servitude not opposed to the word of God, than to leave the Church; and he also thinks they should rather have been comforted than condemned, inasmuch as they still adhered to the true foundation. In conclusion, he urges unity. But the Wittenbergers, and Melanchthon, who was looked upon as their leader, were to endure still severer conflicts. We, in passing, will merely refer to the two pastors, Zwilling and Schultz, in Torgau, who preferred to be deposed from their ministry, rather than wear the white surplice, and called those who wore it, traitors and idolators. Melanchthon regarded these manifestations with great regret, and in his sorrow wrote to the Prince of Anhalt: "I would rather go into exile, than contend continually with such obstinate men."

But Melanchthon's principal opponent at this time, and[Pg 258] also afterwards, was Matthias Flacius, who indeed embittered his life in an indescribable manner. He was born of respectable parents in Albona, in Illyria, in the year 1520; and after the death of his father, went to Milan and Venice, to prosecute his studies. When a youth, he already loved the Bible, and intended to enter a cloister, to serve God better. But a pious monk, who afterwards suffered martyrdom for the Gospel's sake, dissuaded him from this step, and revealed to him how the Gospel, which had been darkened by the Papacy, had again been brought to light by Luther. This at once kindled a fire in the heart of the inflammable young man. Against the wishes of his relatives, and supplied with a very slender purse, he set out for Germany, and in the year 1539 arrived at Basle. He here found a really paternal friend in the well-known reformer, Simon Grynæus. He made rapid progress in the study of divinity, both at this place, and also in Tübingen, whither he went the following year. However, he felt himself drawn to Wittenberg, the mother-city of the Reformation. Here he enjoyed the good fortune, so often longed for, to hear Luther and Melanchthon; and he also enjoyed many benefits, especially at the hands of the latter. In Wittenberg, he for three years passed through severe inward conflicts, for he could not believe divine grace, and deeply felt the wrath of God abiding upon him. Bugenhagen brought the greatly-distressed young man to Dr. Luther, who, as is well known, had been made a powerful comforter by his own deep experience; and it seems that from that time, light began to arise in his troubled heart. In the year 1544, he was already professor of the Hebrew language in Wittenberg, and taught with great success. At his marriage in the year following, he rejoiced to see Dr. Luther present at the[Pg 259] wedding. He was greatly attached to the reformer, and with him hated everything that savored of Popery. However, he evidently proceeded much further in this respect than Luther, who was willing to suffer wholesome customs to remain, even though they came from the Catholic Church. On this account, Flacius regarded the Interim with the greatest displeasure; and spoke with Eber, Maior, Pomeranus, and particularly Melanchthon, that they should zealously oppose it by word and deed. But when he saw that they would not consent, but rather, as we know already, accepted the Interim of Leipzig, he published various severe writings against the Interim and its defenders, yet without mentioning his name. And as the Interim succeeded notwithstanding all this, and was about to be introduced into Wittenberg, he resolved rather to leave Wittenberg than see this change. He removed to Magdeburg, where various persons, among them Amsdorf, who had been expelled from his bishopric, who were all highly incensed at the compliance of the Wittenbergers, had taken up their residence.

The most violent publications were sent forth from this Chancery of God, as Magdeburg was called. They gave various insulting names to their opponents at Wittenberg, such as knaves, Samaritans, and Baalites; but Melanchthon was the principal mark of their attacks, because they blamed him especially for the introduction of the Interim. In a letter to Moller, he thus temperately expresses his sentiments in regard to the Interim: "I often advised that no innovations should be made now, for the people would at once cry out that we were destroying the Gospel, or at least beginning to do so. But the courts exclaimed that it would be necessary to yield somewhat to the Emperor, so that he would not send his armies into these parts, and[Pg 260] suppress the Church, as he did in Swabia. But although I am not able to say whether we shall appease the Emperor by the re-introduction of a few indifferent ceremonies, yet the courtiers declare that such will be the case, and exhort us not to expose the fatherland and the Church to devastation, on account of these non-essential matters. We therefore contend for essential matters, for purity of doctrine, and the form of the Lord's Supper, so that the Papal mass may not be introduced again, as it was done amid the groans of all the godly, in Swabia. But I have never contended about holidays, the order of hymns, and similar matters; and I do not believe that such contention could be reconciled with the moderation needful in the present troubled state of the Church. But when some are opposed to all order, and all laws, it really seems far too uncivilized to me. I have many years ago wished that our churches might introduce a few ceremonies. A similarity in such matters, conduces to unity. Of course, there must be moderation in all such things. We do not make the least alterations in doctrine or essentials. But transubstantiation is the fountain of all the misery in which we find ourselves at the present time, and which awaits the Church in future. This has added strength to the Papal mass, concerning which we shall again hear the most severe commands of the Emperor at the next diet. You know that I have treated all other questions of dispute in a manner calculated to remove all doubts from the mind of every pious man, who judges leniently; but in regard to the question of transubstantiation, I have always been very short, owing to the slanderous judgments of some of our own side."

The men at Magdeburg, and Flacius particularly, would not be silent; but Melanchthon did not reply. He speaks[Pg 261] of this in a letter to Baumgartner: "I have not yet answered our neighbors in the city of Parthenope, (Magdeburg,) because the facts themselves refute them; and what a conflagration would be caused, if we should reply!" He was induced to remain silent by his love of peace, and perhaps he also hoped that Flacius, owing to his extravagant views, would not secure many adherents. But in this he was mistaken; and he says himself, in a letter written September 20th, to Pastor Lauterbach of Pirna: "If they do not stop challenging us, I shall answer them. In the meantime I will refute this outcry by other useful writings. We see how the devil is spurring on unruly spirits, to create greater confusion. We will therefore call upon the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to direct us." At last, October 1st, 1549, he replied to the attacks of Flacius. In answer to his reproach that doctrines were changed, and abolished ceremonies were being reintroduced, Melanchthon gives the unequivocal reply, that he confessed all that he had recorded in his book, Loci Communes, in which was found the doctrine of the Augsburg Confession of the year 1530. As far as the change of customs was concerned, he was free to confess that he had advised the Franconians and others not to leave the churches on account of this servitude, provided it could be borne without impiety. "But when Flacius maintains that I have said the church ought by no means to be left, even if all the old abuses were to be introduced again, I pronounce this to be a palpable lie." He also particularly complains of this, that his opponent made use of expressions which had been uttered in private conversations and in jest. He concludes in a conciliatory manner, by saying that he had not taken up the pen on his own account, but for the sake of those who were injured by the writings of[Pg 262] Flacius. "They should satisfy themselves that they adhered to the true foundation faithfully in these churches, namely, the pure Gospel, all the articles of faith, and the use of the Sacraments without any perversion. And it is certain that the Son of God is present in such services, and hears the prayers of such an assembly."

In November he was summoned to Dresden on account of this affair. The Court of the Elector seems to have been at this time disturbed by the publications of Magdeburg. But let us hear what Melanchthon says of it, in a letter to the Prince of Anhalt: "They were deliberating at Court about a modest reply and refutation of the slanderous accusations of our neighbors. However, I advised them not to publish it; for it is very evident that such publications do not cure and pacify slanderous persons, but rather tend to irritate them more. And Pythagoras has said, we ought not to extinguish a fire by the sword. The newest publication of Magdeburg, in which they show very plainly that they thirst after my blood, was not yet known at court. I often think of departing: may God direct me! The end will show what kind of spirit rules those who are troubling our already sufficiently troubled churches still more."

These disputes still went on, and Flacius published Melanchthon's letters which had been written with great timidity during the Diet of Augsburg. These were accompanied by biting original notes from the hand of Flacius. Melanchthon said of him, in a letter written in January, 1550: "I believe that honorable men detest his poison. For he does not contend for a principal point of doctrine, but publishes books filled with slanders and lies, by which he wishes to gain these two points: to render me detested by the people, and even to rouse those against me who still regard me with friendly eyes. But God, the searcher of hearts, will protect me against this slanderer."

[Pg 263]



We can briefly pass over a conflict which arose in Hamburg, concerning the object of Christ's descent into hell. The superintendent, Æpinus, of that place, had expressed the opinion that Christ's descent into hell was the last stage of his humiliation, and that he there suffered the pains of hell for us. The Wittenbergers, at the head of whom we are always to regard Melanchthon, declared in an opinion that the descent into hell represented Christ's victory over hell and the devil, and counted it, as it indeed is, one of the stages of his exaltation. But, although the contending parties were not entirely satisfied, yet this conflict did not produce such results as that excited by Osiander, in regard to the doctrine of Justification, which may be called the heart's blood of the Evangelical Church. Andrew Osiander, or Hosenmann, or Hosen-Enderlein, was born of poor parents in Gunzenhausen, December 19th, 1498. He contended with great poverty in the school and University; but, by his talents, he soon acquired great knowledge, yet not equal to that of the learned Wittenberg Professor. Melanchthon always recognized his talents and other excellent gifts, so that he was anxious to draw him to Wittenberg to occupy the chair of Cruciger, when Osiander no longer wished to remain as Pastor in Nuremberg, on account of the Interim. Duke Albert of Prussia had once heard Osiander preach in Nuremberg, and had been[Pg 264] gained over to the side of the Gospel by that sermon. The Duke always remembered this gratefully, and was rejoiced that he was now able to call him as first professor of Divinity, to the new University of Königsberg, in 1544. In his very first disputation, held April, 1549, he spoke of Justification, but in such a way, that it was very evident that he did not stand upon the ground of the Evangelical, but rather of the Catholic Church. He explained Justification as meaning "to make just," and concluded that man becomes just before God by means of the righteousness or holiness communicated to him. He also entirely separated repentance from faith. When Melanchthon at first heard indistinct rumors of this Königsburg dispute, he regarded it as a mere battle of words; but he came to a very different conclusion when he received further particulars. On the 12th of August he wrote to Camerarius concerning Osiander, that he denied all imputation. And to a friend in Pomerania: "I do not believe that Osiander's controversy is a mere dispute about words, but he differs from our Church in a very important matter, and darkens our only consolation in true conflicts, or rather destroys it, by teaching us to rely upon essential righteousness, and does not lead us to the promise which offers us mercy by the obedience of the Mediator." Osiander continued to express his views more boldly, and was much displeased with those who were constantly appealing to Melanchthon. He said that they should no longer offend him by the stupid words: "Our preceptor Philippus teaches differently!" The confusion in Königsberg increased. He now also published his work: "A Confession concerning the only mediator Jesus Christ, and Justification." In this he maintains that the Redemption, by the death of Christ, has been bestowed upon all men. By Justification,[Pg 265] man is not only declared to be righteous, but he is made righteous, inasmuch as the essential righteousness of God is communicated to him through faith in Jesus Christ. He disregarded the human nature of Christ entirely, and laid all stress upon his divinity, the righteousness of which enters the heart. He thus continued to adhere to his Catholic doctrine of Justification.

On the 1st of May, 1551, Melanchthon wrote a friendly letter to Osiander, in which he assures him of his high esteem, and says: "You are greatly mistaken if you suspect me of entertaining different feelings." He at the same time also, in a supplement, added a few propositions for serious examination. But at last, when the views of Osiander seemed to be spreading more and more, he in January, 1552, published his well-known work: "Reply to the work of Mr. Andrew Osiander concerning the justification of man." As this work presents the pure doctrine of the Evangelical Church concerning justification, in a clear and calm manner, and at the same time also displays the amiable character of Melanchthon, it will not be amiss to present some extracts. He says in the beginning, that he rejoiced that others had also expressed their views in regard to this article; however, he would likewise speak, having been called upon to do so, by many distinguished and other persons. He would express his opinions in a clear and simple manner, in order that those who have been filled with trouble and sorrow by this dispute, may see upon what it rests, and what will be for the comfort of their souls. He had never intended to depart from Luther's views in this very important article. "As for the slanderous attacks of Osiander, in which he does me wrong, I will leave these to God, who knoweth the hearts of all men, and who is our judge. I have always loved and[Pg 266] honored him, as every one knows, and I truly wonder whence all this bitterness proceeds.... I know that all my writings are too insignificant and weak, and therefore I have always submitted them to the judgment of our Church." He then proceeds to speak of the Grace of God and the free gifts, according to Romans v., and says, Grace is the forgiveness of Sin, and acceptance of our person with God; but the gift is the divine presence in us, by which we are renewed, and find comfort and the beginning of life everlasting. These two, Grace and Gift, we have by the merits of Christ; and this is not gained by our works, but is alone obtained by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This faith must ever continue, receive and retain both Grace and Gift, for the sake of the Mediator Christ, even though Regeneration has been commenced. It is like this, when John says, that Grace and Truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith reposes all its confidence in the entire Lord Christ, God and man, even as the same Lord Christ God and man is Mediator and Redeemer according to both natures. For although the human nature alone felt wounds and sufferings, yet the whole Christ is Mediator and Redeemer. For this suffering would not have been the price, if the Redeemer were not God at the same time. They had at all times confessed that we must all undergo a change.

Melanchthon refutes Osiander's objection, by which he asserted that nothing had hitherto been said in our churches of the indwelling of God in us. He then proceeds and says, that a distinction must be made between the righteousness of the saints after the resurrection, and of the saints during this life. Although God dwells in the saints, yet our nature abounds with great impurity, and sinful defects and desires. Here it was needful for the saints to have[Pg 267] comfort, and to know how they have forgiveness of Sins and Grace. All this is proved by passages of Scripture. He says that a principal passage is recorded in Rom. iii. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." This all refers to the merits of Christ, and cannot be referred to the essential righteousness of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He adds several other clear passages, which all speak of the merit of Christ. (Rom. 5, 1 John 1, Hebrews 10, Isaiah 53.) Here there is reference to Christ's merit alone, which we apply by faith. And this was preached also from the beginning, by the prophets. Osiander is mistaken, when he says: "I call that righteousness which makes us do right. Here there is no mention of a forgiveness of sins." To this we reply: "We call the Lord Christ righteousness, by whom we have forgiveness of sins, a merciful God, and besides, the presence of God within us." In this sense must we regard the Mediator Jesus Christ, God and man, and hide ourselves in his wounds. Osiander confounds cause and effect. If he objects that this doctrine was calculated to fill men with a false security, they would reply: "We must teach the truth, give God the honor due to him, rebuke sin, and comfort troubled hearts with true comfort, although our hearers are not all alike." He is surprised that Osiander rejects this proposition: "Faith is a reliance upon mercy which is promised us for the Mediator's sake." "There must be a difference between the faith which the devils have, and this faith which accepts the promise, and by which the heart obtains comfort and joy." In conclusion, he remarks, that he had written all this in haste, and had passed by many other points, in order to avoid greater[Pg 268] disputes. But he did not thus avoid them; for Osiander is said to have remarked, when he read Melanchthon's confession, that "he would so bleed Melanchthon, that his blood should flow throughout Germany." He subsequently published two works, one of which was called "Bleeding of Mr. Philip," and the other "Refutation of the groundless and useless answer of Philip Melanchthon." These contained slanders after the manner of Flacius. He not only attacked Melanchthon, but also the other teachers of Wittenberg, in the most violent manner. He particularly reproached them for not ordaining or declaring any one a Master or Doctor, unless he solemnly promised to teach in accordance with the three Confessions of Faith of the ancient Church, and also the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon, in his reply, acknowledged this to be the case; but also that it had been introduced twenty years before by Luther, Bugenhagen, and Jonas, and was not only useful but necessary. But while the conflict was thus waged in the most violent manner, Osiander died, very unexpectedly, on the 17th of October, 1552. When Melanchthon received the tidings of his death, he wrote to Veit Winsheim: "As you see, he had a short pilgrimage. Oh that he had made a better use of it! Why was he so enraged against us? Merely because we maintain that we must build upon the merits of Christ, and not upon our new life. This was the principal point of the whole controversy."

Although the principal person was thus removed from the arena, yet the conflict did not cease, because his son-in-law Funck exerted a great influence upon the aged Duke Albert. But when these errors of Osiander found adherents and champions in Germany, particularly in Nuremberg, they were finally condemned by the Church. They are still haunting various places, and find champions[Pg 269] in the pulpit and the lecture-room. It is nothing less than the spirit of Osiander, to disregard too much the sufferings and death of Christ, that is, his humanity in general, and to look to the exalted one almost exclusively, and to place the sinner's justification before God more in the righteousness and holiness, which are communicated to him from thence. As Osiander had given prominence to the divine nature of Christ in his office as Mediator, another teacher of Königsberg fell into the opposite error, and wished the humanity of Christ to be regarded alone in the work of Redemption and Justification. This was Francis Stankar, born in Mantua in Italy, who had left his native land for the love of the Gospel. He had formerly been teaching Hebrew in Krakau, and from thence came to Königsberg. He here quarreled with Osiander, and resigned his office.

When Melanchthon was asked in regard to his opinion of Stankar's views, he declared that Christ is Mediator according to both natures, for not only suffering and death, but also victory and intercession were necessary attributes of a Mediator. He also published a full opinion in reference to this, in the year 1553. Besides these, one Lauterwald of Hungary, also departed from the doctrine of Justification. He went to greater lengths than Osiander, for he taught that Repentance and new obedience were necessary to obtain the Grace of God.

But we will leave these disputes here, to look upon the state of affairs in the German Empire.

[Pg 270]



Pope Paul III., who had caused the Emperor Charles much trouble, died, and was succeeded in February, 1550, by Julius III., who owed his elevation to the Papal chair to the Emperor, and therefore also proved to be more accommodating. His very first step was to transfer the Council back again from Bologna to Trent. The Council of the Church was to be continued there on May 1st, 1551. When the Emperor opened a new Diet at Augsburg, July 26th, 1550, he requested the States to send delegates to the Council. At the request of the Elector, Melanchthon had written an Opinion, in which he urged the propriety of requesting the Emperor to call a Council in Germany; further, that the Pope should not be Judge, but subject himself to the Council. Besides this, the articles already adopted in Trent should be reconsidered, and these resolutions should not depend altogether upon the hostile Archbishops, Bishops, and Prelates, but the Evangelical side should also be heard, and assist in passing resolutions in accordance with the divine Scriptures. But it mattered not whether the Council was called that of Trent or not, if the decrees were only "godly." The Opinion also demands a safe conduct to and from the place of meeting of the Council. Maurice, by his ambassador in Augsburg, declared himself in the spirit of this Opinion. The Emperor[Pg 271] made the very best promises that the States should find a safe conduct and hearing. After this, the Elector summoned Melanchthon, Bugenhagen, and Camerarius to Dresden in February, 1551, in order to hear their opinions in regard to the Council, and the men who should be sent to attend it. It appears that Melanchthon prepared his Opinion in Dresden. It again required that the articles should first of all be considered over again. That it should be stated, that they did not demand any other doctrine than that adhered to in the Churches of Misnia. This would be found in the Augsburg Confession, or in the Liturgy of the Elector of Brandenburg. The Prince ought to abide by this. They were not yet united in Dresden, but Melanchthon soon after received orders to prepare a new confession of faith. In May he retired to Dessau for a few days, in order to prepare this. He set out with this view, that it should be so prepared, that the doctrine of the Church might be plainly learned from it, and that it should be delivered in the name of the Clergy, and not of the Princes. This is the so-called Saxon Confession, which is merely a repetition of the Augsburg Confession. He communicated a rough draft to the Court, and afterwards added some points in regard to Ordination, Examinations, and Church Visitations. This Confession throughout breathes a determined spirit, and does not endeavor to bring about an agreement with opposing doctrines. It was signed by the envoy of the Margrave John, by many Saxon pastors, and afterwards also by the deputies of Mansfeld, Strasburg, Pomerania, and Anspach. But not a word more was said of the journey of the Saxon Clergy to Trent: the whole matter seemed to have been put to rest. In the meantime, the Elector Maurice had received orders to subdue the stubborn city of Magdeburg; he accepted the Imperial commission, and[Pg 272] the city defended itself in the powerful siege with great heroism. All Protestants anxiously regarded the fate of Magdeburg. Germany began to feel the oppressions of the Emperor, and especially of his Spanish troops, more and more from day to day. Not only Protestants, but also Catholics, were highly incensed; especially, too, because the captive Landgrave, Philip, was treated in the most unworthy manner. The Protestants were greatly excited against Maurice, for they regarded him as the betrayer of his relative, John Frederick, his own father-in-law, and the German cause, and also as a denier of the Gospel. And now, to crown all, he permitted himself to be employed against faithful Magdeburg. Maurice felt this, and as he had for some time been dissatisfied with the course of the Emperor, he resolved to separate himself from him. In the midst of his victory over the brave Margrave John von Cüstrin, who had come to the assistance of Magdeburg, he, as some one says, "went over to the Opinion of the conquered." He entered into a secret league with several Protestant princes, and promised to confess the Augsburg Confession again, and to risk his land and people in defence of this and German liberty. While he was negotiating with France to obtain money, and promised the King various German cities, he continued the siege of Magdeburg to conceal his real purpose. When France entered into an agreement with him, he offered pardon and religious protection to the city of Magdeburg, and also received their oath of allegiance.

At this time, and also for the purpose of deceiving the Emperor, Melanchthon and Maior received orders to depart for Trent. In Nuremburg they should expect further orders. But they did not find any particular directions[Pg 273] how they should act; nothing was said of the manner of their journey, of their expenses, or an escort.

Melanchthon wrote to the Electoral Chancellor, Mordeisen, on the 13th of December, 1551: "I was surprised at this unexpected order. But as I do not wish to appear disobedient, I will depart for Leipzig to-morrow, and thence to you at Dresden, to learn further what you wish me to do, although I shall not be able to make this journey without danger at the present time, owing to my sorrows and bodily feebleness." He immediately carried out this proposed plan of his journey. He did not receive more light from the communications of the Electoral counsellors. However, he began to understand the Elector's object, and from Misnia he wrote to Eber: "Although many find fault with our journey, and I would rather enjoy the society and countenances of my family and friends, yet I obey, whether they are urging this matter at Court in earnest, or to deceive; so that it may not appear that we, as has frequently been said, wish to avoid a public meeting, either from fear or wantonness." But when he heard that the Elector intended to unite with France in opposing the Emperor, he was much concerned, and thus expresses it in a letter to Maurice himself, January, 1552: "It is indeed to be deplored that the Emperor does not release the Landgrave; but a union with France is unadvisable, as it cannot be depended upon. To unite with such persons, who were only anxious for disturbances, is sad and discreditable. Besides this, your Grace knows that the Emperor is the constituted authority, and that God generally observes his law, to overthrow those who oppose authorities. The advice given by some, to take advantage of the Emperor before he would fall upon us with the execution of the Council, was not an argument in favor of war and tumult."

[Pg 274]But the Elector seemed really to be in earnest in regard to his representation in the Council, and personally addressed a letter to the Synod of Trent, in which he names Sarcerius, Pacæus, and Melanchthon, as his deputies. From Leipzig, Melanchthon wrote to Wittenberg, requesting those who boarded with his family to seek another place: "For I have a long and dangerous journey before me, which the Son of God may direct, as I heartily pray he would do. But as the time of my return is uncertain, I did not wish to burden my family with too many cares." He also bade his hearers an affectionate farewell: "I conjure you to unite your prayers with the sighs of all the godly, that the Son of God may be pleased to lessen the chastisements which threaten us." And again: "Therefore take notice of the divine wrath, and pray that God, in his wrath, would not forget mercy, for the sake of his Son. And in order that the prayer may be more fervent, let your walk become Christian, and your hearts be awakened to repentance, according to the word of the Lord: 'Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you.'" After saying that the Church was dear to the Lord, he closes thus: "May you comfort yourselves with this consolation, which in public and private dangers shows the haven in which Christian hearts find rest; and in the meantime, may you be happy!"

He departed on the 14th of January; and on the 22d of the same month, he and his companions, to whom his son-in-law Peucer had joined himself, reached Nuremberg. But it began to be more evident that these envoys were merely journeying to Trent in order to deceive. Tidings were brought from every quarter, that the Elector was assuming a hostile attitude against the Emperor. The envoys remained in Nuremberg without any further instructions,[Pg 275] and Melanchthon preferred remaining here, to going to Trent for the purpose of engaging in fruitless disputations. At last, when no further directions came, he resolved to return, and arrived in Wittenberg on the 20th of March.

In the meantime, Maurice had given information to the Saxon and Hessian Chambers, that it was intended to deliver the imprisoned princes; and soon his armies, and those of William of Hesse, and the Margrave Albert, departed from Culmbach, and united. While they were entering Augsburg, the King of France seized Metz, and called himself the defender of German liberty. The Emperor, who was at that time at Innsbruck, had not the remotest idea of treachery until he read the declaration of the confederate princes, circulated throughout Germany, in which, not without reason, too, they accused him of suppressing the freedom of the German Empire. As he was without troops and money, and was suffering from his old complaint, the gout, he attempted to escape to the Netherlands; but Maurice had already seized the narrow pass of Ehrenberg, so that the Emperor was compelled to return to Innsbruck. When Maurice saw that the Emperor was about to receive aid from various quarters, he resolved to storm the pass, and to seize the Emperor in Innsbruck. But during the night, Charles fled over the Tyrol to Villach, in Carinthia. The day before, he had announced liberty to his captive, John Frederick, under this condition, that he would voluntarily follow the Imperial Court for a short time longer. Full of joy, the liberated prince sang a spiritual song of thanksgiving, and followed the Emperor. But the Council of Trent had been scattered like chaff before the wind, for they thought that Maurice was coming to disperse them. King Ferdinand,[Pg 276] who had always been a better friend of the Germans than his brother, acted the part of mediator.

A meeting was held in Passau, where the well-known Treaty of Passau was agreed upon, on the 2d of August, 1552. In this treaty, so important to the Protestants, perfect religious freedom is secured to them, and they are to receive equal civil rights at the next diet; those who were banished received pardon, and the Landgrave Philip was restored to liberty. At first the Emperor would not consent to the treaty, but finally yielded to the earnest representations of his brother Ferdinand. The oppressions hitherto experienced in Germany now ceased; the exiled ministers returned, and the Interim had reached its well-deserved end. John Frederick and the Landgrave Philip were at liberty again. When the latter, who had endured many afflictions, had returned to his dominions, he immediately entered a church in Cassel, and for a long time remained before the altar engaged in prayer. John Frederick, by his steadfast faithfulness and unwavering faith, had extorted the unwilling respect of the Emperor; while Maurice had lost it to a considerable degree. When some one from Saxony welcomed John Frederick in Nuremberg, he said: "Go and tell it in your home that I come without arms, and that I do not intend to cause a civil warfare, and shall rather lose the remaining portion of my dominions than bring desolation upon the Fatherland."

Melanchthon wrote to Moller: "You know, that by the grace of God, Duke John Frederick of Saxony is with his wife and children in Thuringia. This return without arms is far more glorious than a bloody victory. Posterity too will enrol this example among the testimonies that God hears the prayers of the godly, and softens our afflictions even in this world."

[Pg 277]When the old defender of the Faith returned to his own country, he was everywhere welcomed in the most joyful and affecting manner. From Wittenberg too, a letter of congratulation, written by Melanchthon, was sent to their old patron. They express their joy in this: "First of all, that God has sustained your Grace in strength of body and soul, in Christian comfort and fidelity in your hours of trouble, and that he has thus adorned you with many virtues, even as Daniel was preserved among the lions. And then also for this praiseworthy and joyful deliverance." The letter also refers to the blessings this deliverance will bring upon the church, and closes thus: "We pray with all humility, that your Grace may be and continue to be our most gracious Lord. For it has always been, and is still our intention, with God's grace, to maintain unity in Christian doctrine with the churches of these lands, although we have been sorely tried, and great confusion ensued, from which, however, God delivered us; and we are still engaged in great, heavy, and highly important matters."

John Frederick expressed his thanks in a very friendly reply. He says: "It is indeed true, that God in mercy has laid upon us a great and wearisome affliction, on account of our sins. But as his Omnipotent power, by the assistance of his Holy Spirit, has maintained us wonderfully in the true confession of his saving word, and has also preserved our health, so also has his Almighty power graciously freed us from captivity, and restored us to our own dominions again." He expresses his regrets that there had been so many disputes and changes in the church during this time, and says, that if they had adhered to Luther's doctrine, "no alteration by mere human wisdom would have been undertaken or permitted."

[Pg 278]Melanchthon also expressed his joy at the return of their prince in a very hearty Preface to the fourth volume of Luther's works. He says: "What greater privilege can be bestowed upon any man, than this grace, to spend his life for the glory of God, and the welfare of many of his fellow-men? This ornament is infinitely to be preferred above all bloody victories and triumphs. May your Highness continue to enjoy health and happiness!"



We must here revert to a conflict commenced at a former period against Melanchthon by Cordatus. We did not conceal the fact that his formula that good works are the condition without which we cannot be saved, was a bold venture, which could easily be misinterpreted. When he used the form of expression in the Leipzig Interim, that good works are necessary to salvation, it was expressed indeed in a milder form, but still admitted a bad interpretation.

It so came to pass that the aged Amsdorf published a work in 1551, in which he accuses George Maior, Melanchthon's friend, in the most severe manner, because he had adulterated the doctrine of Justification, by his proposition that good works are necessary to salvation. Maior did not owe him an answer long; he confessed his adherence to the Evangelical doctrine of Justification, but at[Pg 279] the same time adhered to his opinion that good works are necessary to salvation, because no one could obtain salvation by evil works, or without good works. But now Maior was attacked from every side, and found it impossible to retain his position as General Superintendent at Mansfeld any longer. His opinion was not opposed to the doctrine of justification, for he said that good works were necessary to salvation, because they must necessarily be produced by faith, and because all men were obliged to obey God. But the opposite side proved to him, that the formula made use of by him might easily lead to misinterpretation, and should not be used, even if it were only on account of the Catholics. Melanchthon, of whom we know that he did not approve of a form which might easily be misconstrued, advised Maior to desist from further disputes, for, he said, you are merely adding fire to the flames. Maior was called to a professorship in Wittenberg in the autumn of the year 1552. Instead of following Melanchthon's advice, and abstaining from his formula for the sake of peace, he continued to defend it. Melanchthon himself did not employ this formula any more, and at a later period expressed himself against it in a very decided manner; although he remarks in another place, that against the Antinomians we should always maintain that the beginning of new obedience is necessary, because it is a divine and unchangeable arrangement, that a rational being must obey God. However, the most extravagant opponents did not suffer themselves to be pacified by all these things. Amsdorf was so involved in these contradictions, that he published a work, during Melanchthon's lifetime, with this title: "That the Proposition, Good works are injurious to salvation, is a true, just, and Christian proposition, taught and preached by the saints Paul and Luther." If the champions had[Pg 280] adhered to the word of God and the Confession of the Church, and had acted towards each other in a friendly spirit, intent upon the honor of God and the discovery of the truth, they would not have gone astray in this manner.

Such a spirit should also have been manifested in the so-called Synergistic controversy, which caused Melanchthon great trouble. It is certain that he was most decidedly opposed to the doctrines of the ancient heretic Pelagius; for he adhered to the truth expressed in the word of God, that the powers of man are so much corrupted by original sin, that he must first be awakened by the Holy Ghost before he is able to make a beginning, and that he also needs the Holy Ghost as he progresses. He teaches that the powers of human nature are greatly affected, end unfitted to do good, and he represents the merits of Christ as the only foundation of salvation. At the close of his life, in reply to the Bavarian articles, he declares in the most positive manner: "Sin and death cannot be removed by the free will of man, and man's will cannot begin inward obedience without the Son of God, without the Gospel, and without the Holy Ghost." Therefore, it cannot be assured or proved that he was a Synergist, i. e., that he taught that in the work of repentance, the natural will of man performs one part, and grace the other. He was fully convinced that the grace of God alone accomplishes what is good in us, and that the will of man merely receives. The will of man could thus be active to a certain extent, but could not produce the new life. The actual Synergistic controversy did not arise until after the Leipzig Interim. In this, Melanchthon had said that in the work of repentance, man was not passive like a block or a statue. Flacius had repeatedly directed attention to this expression;[Pg 281] but it was Amsdorf who agitated this controversy towards the close of Melanchthon's life. But we will not enter upon a consideration of this, because the controversies concerning the freedom of the human will did not develop themselves until after the death of our Reformer.

As such differences and disputes arose on every side in the Evangelical Church, to its own injury and the joy of the Catholics, several princes, especially Maurice and the Landgrave of Saxony, thought it necessary to bring about a meeting of the Theologians, in order that these controversies might be settled. The Osiandrian difficulties were to be disposed of first, as they shook the very foundation of the Evangelical Church. The meeting was to be held in Erfurt, June, 1553; but Melanchthon did not expect any good from this, and freely declared his opinion that such conferences produced no good effects, as Gregory of Nazianzen had declared, "that he had not seen any Synods in his own day which did not cause greater dissension than existed before." He also said that there was no Theologian now who was able to restrain the others, as Luther had done in former days. That they ought to adhere to the Confession, on account of the Diet which should soon assemble. If the Emperor should insist upon the Interim, they should explain to him why they could not accept it. The Landgrave also entertained the same views.

This plan, which had been projected by Maurice, was postponed by a terrible disaster which fell upon him. The Margrave Albert continued to disturb the public peace by predatory excursions, which were especially directed against the monasteries of Franconia. Maurice therefore united with King Ferdinand, and Duke Henry, of Brunswick, to suppress this disturber. But when Albert heard[Pg 282] of this design, he endeavored to anticipate them, and fell upon Lower Saxony. On the 9th of July, 1553, a battle was fought at Sievershausen. Maurice was victorious, but paid dearly for it, for he received a gun-shot wound in the battle, which caused his death two days afterwards. His last words were, "God will come!" He was succeeded by his brother Augustus, who restored the Misnian Lands in Thuringia and Franconia to the aged John Frederick. He was a sincere man, devotedly attached to Evangelical truth, and enjoying the full confidence of his subjects. Already, in the month of August, he came to Wittenberg, and Melanchthon rejoiced to hear the most encouraging promises from his own lips.

He confirmed the foundations which had been assigned for the support of the University by his brother Maurice. He also earnestly wished that the Theologians, who were not affording a very edifying and commendable example by their continued disputes, might become reconciled among themselves. This wish was shared by the pious Duke Christopher, of Wurtemberg; and he proposed a conference of the ministers at Weimar, in order that they might discuss these points of difference. It was agreed upon to hold a Synod at Naumburg. We have already heard that Melanchthon dreaded such a conference, because he believed it would only make matters worse. On the 17th of April, he wrote to a friend: "The Court orders us to go to Naumburg, whither, as they write to us, the Swabian and Hessian pastors will also come. Although they have been warned by so many examples, that synods and hypocritical unions are productive of great evils, yet they have ordered us to hold synods again." However, he also wrote to Maienburg, May 11th: "Although the Synod of Naumburg, which I always objected to, will[Pg 283] meet, I must nevertheless attend it." He went, accompanied by Forster and Camerarius, and reached Naumburg May 20th, 1554. The Hessian delegates, and the well-known Sleidanus, of Strasburg, arrived on the following day, and Pacæus and Salmuth, of Leipzig, on the 23d of May.

Although Melanchthon at first entertained the greatest fears, because he expected those two violent champions, Gallus and Flacius, whom he called the two sons of Polyphemus, he now wrote to his son-in-law Peucer, as early as May 23d: "To-day we shall, with the help of God, deliberate in a friendly manner, and I hope that no disputes will arise among us. We shall not expect any other Theologians, if they do not arrive here within three days." The princes wished the Theologians to agree upon the answer to be given to the Emperor, at the next Diet. In a declaration, prepared by Melanchthon, the Theologians frankly say: "If his Imperial Majesty should wish us to adopt again the Papal doctrine, which we condemn, and the Interim also, we shall, by the grace of God, clearly and positively refuse to do so."

They continued to say, that Protestants should abide by the Confession delivered in Augsburg in 1530, because it contains "the only eternal agreement of the divine Scriptures, and the true catholic Church of Christ." Also, that the confession of Brentius, and that of Saxony, fully coincided with this. The Theologians also expressed themselves against the errors of Schwenkfeld and Osiander. Schwenkfeld, like all fanatics of ancient and modern days, disregarded the written word of God, and thought that God revealed himself to man without this. He also showed his perversion by other objections, which he raised against the Evangelical Church. They therefore say: "Therefore we unanimously reject the before-mentioned[Pg 284] errors, and all the lies of Schwenkfeld." One of the greatest errors of Osiander is his declaration, "that man is not just on account of the obedience of Christ, but on account of the Deity if it dwells in man." They maintain the Evangelical doctrine against these Osiandrian heresies, in a very conclusive manner. In speaking of Ceremonies, they insist upon unity in doctrine and in the sacraments. They reject the mass without communicants. They allow private confession, "but no one is to be burdened by an enumeration of his sins." They wish holidays to be observed, and require uniformity in this. They oppose the reintroduction of Latin hymns, of the garments used in the mass, of vestments, and other ceremonies, "because it would give rise to new dissensions and ruptures." The authorities, and sensible Pastors, would know how to make a distinction between essentials and non-essentials, and how to avoid all offence. Attention should be paid to studies, ordination, consistories, and visitations, all which matters had formerly been disregarded by the Bishops. As the Bishops are persecutors of the pure doctrine, ordination cannot possibly be given into their hands. The authorities are bound to see to it, that the pure doctrine is preached in the churches, and that the consistories would discharge their duties, in punishing vice and maintaining discipline and harmony. Melanchthon was highly pleased with the harmony among the Theologians at Naumburg; yet he did not conceal the fact from himself, that his opponents would also raise a great outcry against the resolutions of Naumburg. The Theologians of Wurtemberg had only proceeded as far as Erfurt, for they had been expected for several days in Naumburg, but in vain. On the 28th of May, Melanchthon wrote to Strigel: "If the Swabians do not arrive to-day, as I believe they will not, we shall[Pg 285] adjourn to-morrow, God willing." He returned to Wittenberg, as he had stated. Duke Christopher, however, was highly pleased with the resolutions of Naumburg.

During Melanchthon's stay in Dresden, February, 1555, where he was giving his opinion in regard to a visitation of the churches, the diet of Augsburg had been opened on the 5th of February. The Emperor had become completely disgusted with German affairs, particularly since the revolt of Maurice, and he now left the direction of this diet, promised in the treaty of Passau, to his brother Ferdinand. This diet witnessed many disputes, especially urged by the Pope's nuncio. But fortunately Pope Julius III. died about this time, and the nuncio was obliged to return to Rome. Now one principal difficulty was removed, and they at last, in the month of September, 1555, agreed upon the Religious peace of Augsburg, which was highly advantageous to the Protestants. For they not only obtained liberty of conscience in religion, but full civil equality with the Catholics, and remained in the possession of the ecclesiastical property which had been confiscated. But one unjust resolution was also carried, that if a Catholic sovereign should wish to become a Protestant at any future time, he should not indeed be personally molested on this account, but should forfeit his office and rank. Although the Protestants yielded very reluctantly, the decrees of the diet were of the utmost value to them, for they secured a lasting peace, and they no longer needed to care for the condemnations of a General Council. Melanchthon wrote: "I look upon the peaceful conclusion of the Diet of Augsburg as one of the favors of God, and we must beseech the Son of God to continue to guide us in future."

While the Evangelical Church was thus celebrating outward[Pg 286] triumphs, and securing a firm position for herself, enemies were raging in her own bosom, who undoubtedly retarded her development. They were contending about a doctrine which is as plainly founded in the word of God, as it is of great comfort to the heart. It is the doctrine that not only the earthly elements of bread and wine, but also the true body and blood of Christ are distributed in the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper. As a middle path between the doctrine of Transubstantiation on the one hand, and the one-sided doctrine of the Reformed, that we receive nothing but bread and wine in memory of the Lord, on the other, it was objectionable to the Catholics and the Reformed. Luther has triumphantly vindicated this consoling doctrine in his writings.

But now there arose another man with a doctrine somewhat different, which was adopted by many. This was the sagacious, learned, and pious John Calvin, who was born in the year 1509. The Lutherans had hitherto regarded him as belonging to their own party, especially since he had been teaching with Bucer and Capito in Strasburg. When he had returned to Geneva in 1541, from which city he had been banished before, and had there built up the Evangelical Church with great zeal, he wrote a Confession in regard to the Lord's Supper, in the year 1549. The Zurichers had formerly suspected him of being a Lutheran, but now all their doubts vanished, and they could call him their own, and harmony was completely restored between German and French Switzerland. But that which produced harmony in Switzerland caused dissensions in Germany, although not immediately. Here they had enough to dispute in regard to the so-called indifferent things, (Adiaphora,) and the heresies of Osiander.

In the year 1552, a pastor in Hamburg, named Joachim[Pg 287] Westphal, published a work in which he proved that the Reformed had given no less than eight-and-twenty explanations of the words of institution in the Lord's Supper, from the time of Zwingli to that of Calvin. In the following year he published a work against Calvin, entitled: "The true faith in regard to the Lord's Supper." This publication began to arouse the zeal of the Lutherans against Calvin and his friends, which was still more inflamed by one John von Lasco, who, together with a band of French and Dutch Protestants, had been banished from England by that severe Romanist, Queen Mary. He had confessed himself a follower of Calvin, and therefore could not find a resting-place for himself and his friends, either in Denmark or Germany. They were denounced from the pulpits in every quarter. Calvin now published a work defending them and his doctrine. He declared that, according to his doctrine, the Lord's Supper was no empty ceremony, even though he did not believe in a participation of the body and blood of Christ, in and under the bread and wine. Westphal and John Timann, pastor in Bremen, arrayed themselves against Calvin; who, assisted by Bullinger of Zurich, and Lasco, soon published a refutation. Most of the cities of Lower Saxony sided with Westphal. The fire spread on every side, and Schnepf of Jena, Alber in Mecklenburg, and Eitzen in Hamburg, attacked Calvin in the most violent manner, who finally maintained an utter silence.

Calvin represented his own doctrine as a mediation between the Lutherans and the Reformed. It did not teach an imaginary, but a real participation of the body and blood of Christ, yet not with the mouth, and it also opposes the view of an Omnipresence of Christ according to his human nature. The fulness of the Godhead has entered[Pg 288] into the body of Christ, and from this body the Lord fills his people spiritually, with a secret and mysterious power of life, whenever they receive the bread and wine. This participation only refers to believers, although it is also offered to unbelievers. So Calvin regarded the matter; but what did Melanchthon say to all this? He did not express himself positively in regard to either side, doubtless because he did not wish to pour fresh oil into the fire. Yet he was provoked and driven to a decided declaration of his sentiments by both sides. Gallus and Westphal published a collection of declarations taken from his former writings, by which they proved him to be on their side, and that he had at least not thought as the Sacramentarians did, as long as Luther was alive. Calvin also endeavored to lead him to declare himself, by stating that he understood the Augsburg Confession precisely as it was understood by its author, and that in this matter he could as little be separated from Philippus as from his own heart. We may admit, without hesitation, that Melanchthon agreed more with Calvin than with the stricter teachers of the Lutheran Church; but he did not wish to begin a conflict while he was the subject of a government which strictly adhered to Luther's doctrine. He wrote to Hardenberg in the beginning of 1556, that if his life should be spared he would reply in a place where the courts could not hinder him; and to his friend Mordeisen at the Saxon court, who reproached him on account of his bashfulness, he wrote: "I am certain that your court will not suffer a defence of the truth in this article." He therefore continued to adhere to the method of teaching he had pursued hitherto. He always spoke of a presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, but never of a bodily presence of his body and blood.

[Pg 289]Some of the princes now again, as on former occasions, thought of bringing about a reconciliation between the contending parties. As we have already heard, Duke Christopher of Wurtemberg was the most prominent among them, for he made repeated attempts to induce the princes and Theologians to hold a meeting, where the points of difference might be discussed, and harmony restored. But his advances met no response, if we except the aged Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick. "I also wish," Melanchthon writes, "that learned and well-meaning men might negotiate in peace concerning certain contested points."

It appeared that the Theologians of Weimar were particularly opposed to any union or compromise. These held a separate meeting in Weimar, January, 1556, in which they declared that they would not unite with those of Wittenberg, until they would pledge themselves unequivocally to the Augsburg Confession, and would drop all Zwinglianism and Synergism. They would faithfully abide by Luther's doctrine concerning the Lord's Supper and free will.

Amsdorf, Schnepf, Strigel, Stolz, Aurifaber, and delegates from the Palatinate and Wurtemberg, attended this meeting. Melanchthon called this Synod the Flacian Synod, because he well knew that Flacius exerted a great influence upon it. He expresses his regrets in regard to this, in a letter to Camerarius, February 7th: "This sad dissension troubles me so much, that I wish to leave this world; and I see that I am not far distant from my journey's end."

But something occurred in the summer of the year 1556, which he perhaps expected least of all. Flacius endeavored to bring about a reconciliation with his former teacher. He[Pg 290] was at that time residing in Magdeburg, and had prepared a few "mild propositions to bring about a godly, needful, and peaceful reconciliation between the Theologians of Wittenberg and Leipzig, and others who have written against them," which he had sent to Paul Eber, that he might deliver them to Melanchthon. In the eleventh article he said, "If any persons shall teach and spread errors which are injurious to religion and conscience, either publicly or secretly, we will avoid such as a curse, and will not acknowledge them as brethren, or receive them into fellowship, until they have condemned and publicly renounced their errors. For such wounds in the church cannot be healed or endured silently." It was principally owing to this article that Eber did not present these propositions.

About this time the French scholar, Hubert Languentius, who had long been one of Melanchthon's most intimate friends, arrived in Magdeburg. They were anxious to employ him as mediator. An interview with Melanchthon should take place in the little town of Coswig, and Flacius promised to employ mild and peaceful expressions. Although Melanchthon at first intended to accept the offer, he was afterwards induced to change his opinion, and, on the 15th of July, wrote to his friend Languentius: "I have for a long time been anxious for a conference with pious and learned men, for the glory of God and the general good; but what would be the use of an interview with such unlearned, raging, and malicious persons as Stolz, Gallus, and Aurifaber." "A sweet friendship and intimacy subsisted between Flacius and myself in former days, and I should like to discuss the whole system of doctrine with him. But he has circulated matters about me which I never uttered, and which never entered into my thoughts.[Pg 291] Therefore, I fear treacherous intentions in all this. Oh! that he would act towards me with the same sincerity with which I should wish to approach him! But not one of my friends is willing to be present at such an interview, and they do not consider it advisable for me to meet him alone. I am not concerned if others are pleased to seek power and influence. The Son of God will judge the life and sentiments of every one, and he knows that I am only anxious to glorify the truth, to add to God's honor, and to promote the good of the Church." On the 21st of July, Flacius expressed his regrets concerning this reply in a letter to Languentius, and even wrote to Melanchthon, justifying himself, and assuring him that he had no reason to complain of him. Melanchthon replied on the 4th of September: "You recapitulate your kindnesses towards me, and state that you did not publish a letter written to Taupolus. I never wrote a syllable to him. In Augsburg, I paid a visit to this Venetian ambassador, at the request of the Elector, and spoke with him of the cause of the Reformation. I do not recollect all the words of that conversation. For I did not think then that I would be called to an account after the expiration of twenty-six years." Others had concocted a letter from this, with which Rörer had already reproached him, and which had been sent by the Margrave John. "You have also published the Leipzig Interim in a mutilated manner, and with notes. What induced you to attack an old friend, who loved you sincerely, with such weapons? I ought not to be reproached with what I never did; I am willing to confess all I have done. When the Augsburg Interim appeared, and reached our country, I at first advised that the churches should not be disturbed by any alterations whatever." He goes on to say, that he had many disputes with the courtiers, until[Pg 292] the Elector declared that he did not wish a change of doctrine, but only uniformity in outward ceremonies on festival days, in lections, and dress. "This the people afterwards called Adiaphora. I knew that the smallest changes would displease the people. But as doctrine was untouched, I wished our friends rather to be willing to endure this servitude, than to relinquish the service of the Gospel, and I confess that I also gave this counsel to the Franconians. This I have done, but I never changed the doctrine of the Confession. After this, you began to enter your protest, but I yielded, and did not dispute. You are perfectly welcome to bear off the victory, for I yield, and do not contend about these ceremonies: and wish, with all my heart, that a pleasant harmony might prevail throughout the Churches. I also acknowledge that I erred in this matter, and pray God to forgive me that I did not fly far away from those treacherous deliberations. I shall refute all with which you and Gallus unjustly reproach me." In regard to Maior's proposition, that good works are necessary to salvation, he had exhorted him to explain his meaning, and to drop this form of expression. That he himself did not use this expression, and merely opposed the Antinomians by declaring: "New obedience is necessary, because it is a necessary law that the creature should obey the Creator. I do not believe that we really oppose each other in this question." In regard to the propositions for peace, he believed it would be best if they should be prepared by impartial judges. There must be one confession in doctrine, "and as we do not contend about ceremonies, but rather confess that we yield in these, do not any longer accuse us, and do not heap false charges upon us. Let us unite, with mutual good will, and by one confession, against the fearful fury of the enemies of the Son[Pg 293] of God, who is not only blasphemed by the Papists, but also by many others." But Flacius was not satisfied with this answer, and believed that it was necessary to have the matter decided by umpires.

On the 17th of January, 1557, the Superintendents Curtius of Lübeck, Paul von Eitzen of Hamburg, Mörlin of Brunswick, and Hennig of Lüneburg, met in Magdeburg, and pledged themselves to adhere to a confession which had been published in the year 1550, against the Interim, and which bore the title: "Confession, Instruction, and Admonition of the pastors and preachers of the Christian congregations of Magdeburg." Flacius, and his friends Wigand, Judex, and Baumgärtner, remained in the little town of Coswig, which was not far off, and exhorted the Superintendents, who had proceeded to Wittenberg with terms of agreement, that they should take a determined stand. On the morning of the 21st of January, the negotiations were begun in Melanchthon's residence. He addressed them in the most cordial manner, and assured them that he was desirous of peace, and had therefore remained silent. "I take a box on the ears, and still remain silent, while Flacius and Gallus do not stop their abuses." He agreed to accept the umpires, and Mörlin presented eight articles to him, which had been prepared at Brunswick, with this condition, that either side shall have the privilege to add to or take away from them what they pleased. The eight articles were as follows: 1. Unity of doctrine is to be restored, in accordance with the Augsburg Confession and the Smalkald articles. 2. All opposing errors of the Papists, Interimists, Anabaptists, and Sacramentarians, were to be rejected. 3. All corruptions, and especially that concerning the necessity of good works to salvation, in the article on Justification, which oppose[Pg 294] true apostolical doctrine and the Augsburg Confession, were to be put away and condemned. 4. The Saxon Churches are not able to depart from the Confession which they published during the last persecution. 5. No agreement in ceremonies should be entered into with the Papists until they agree with us in doctrine, and cease to persecute the true doctrine. 6. In the time of persecution a sincere Confession should be made, and no servitude opposed to Christian liberty should be permitted. 7. We also, in a most Christian manner, beseech our teacher to testify, by a public writing, that his views in regard to indifferent matters, and the necessity of good works to salvation, agree with the Confessions of our Churches; and 8. If one of the parties should be suspected of secretly adhering to some errors, an explanation should be required."

Melanchthon was at first highly displeased with these articles, but on the following day he replied as follows: "For thirty years I have labored not a little in these churches, in teaching, developing truths, in daily judgments, conferences, and in treacherous conflicts. And it would have been very becoming in you to spare and pity me. But now, that which the worthy Jacob Sturm prophesied to me has come to pass; for when he, together with some other friends, accompanied me a part of the way when I left Ratisbon, and I said to him, that we would not see each other again in this world, he replied: 'We shall still come to you some day to crucify you.' Articles are laid before me, in which I am not only required to strangle myself, but very many of my friends. You spare Flacius. You know yourselves what intimate friendship subsisted between some of you and myself. And on this account, I am so much the more surprised to see you treat me so harshly. If I do not agree to your articles, you will excite your[Pg 295] party against me; but if I do agree, many in our churches will complain of me that I have given them cause for offence. There is, consequently, danger on both sides, and it would have been better to negotiate with many concerning this." He agreed to the first two articles; but to the third he wished to add, that, although new obedience is needful according to the law of God, and Christ did not suffer in order that we should abide in sin and death, yet the expression, good works are necessary to salvation, should not be employed. His writings were opened to the eyes of the whole world. "I accept the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles, although they accuse us very much, as I would rather receive a blow than oppose harmony. As far as the seventh article is concerned, there is no necessity for a new publication, for every one is able to learn from my writings what I think of indifferent things." He concluded by entreating them not to oppose him at once, and that they should follow their own judgment rather than Flacius. Flacius was not satisfied with this reply, which was brought to Coswig by the mediators, and they returned to Wittenberg with several additions to the articles.

Melanchthon thanked them for their trouble, and said that he hoped they had now learned to know him as a man inclined to peace. "I shall, with God's help, abide by the general Confession of these churches, and shall not sow discord. I have always honored you as pious teachers of the Church, and I love you with all my heart. I replied to the articles you laid before me, so that I might not appear anxious to fly from the light, and unwilling to bring about harmony. And this shall be my last answer. If you are not satisfied with it, I appeal to the judgment of the Church." He adhered to his previous declaration,[Pg 296] merely in other words. The mediators departed, without having effected their object; but Flacius would not yield. This conflict between Melanchthon and Flacius had also attracted the attention of Duke John Albert, of Mecklenburg; and he felt himself called upon to attempt to bring about a reconciliation. He therefore sent Venetus, of Rostock, and his counsellor, Mylius, to Wittenberg, with proposals of peace. These proposals were composed in the spirit of those of Magdeburg. When the envoys arrived in Wittenberg, about February 20th, they did not meet Philip, who was then on a journey to Dessau and Leipzig. When he had returned, heard their wishes, and saw the proposals, he replied very briefly, that Flacius entertained many errors; that the prince was ungracious; they sought to ruin him (Melanchthon); and that he would not condemn any of those who had been present at the debates concerning indifferent things, who are now dead. He expressed himself to this effect, and promised to present his reply on the following day. He retained the propositions, and examined them carefully.

On the following day he came, accompanied by his son-in-law Peucer. His answer was a very short one; and when the envoys requested him to prepare better propositions, he refused to do so, in a passionate manner, and said: "If you wish to crush me, do so; for this is the general lot of peace-makers. I commend myself to God." And Peucer also added: "You shall not in future trouble my father-in-law any more with such disputes." And with this they were dismissed. The envoys returned to Magdeburg, without having gained their purpose, in order to consult with Flacius and Wigand. Flacius was called to Jena in April, 1557, where the Gymnasium had been raised into an University.

[Pg 297]



In the spring of 1557, he would have had an excellent opportunity to get rid of the Flacians, for the Elector of the Palatinate called him to the University of Heidelberg. "However, I have not yet come to any conclusion in regard to my removal," he wrote to Languentius from Leipzig, "because I must first learn the sentiments of the Court." He wrote to Camerarius: "I wrote this letter on the 31st of March, on which day, 420 years after Christ, Jerome died in his 91st year, in the town of Bethlehem, whither he had fled from the rage of his intriguing enemies. I would already have fled to those solitudes, if I had no family." But the Court would not permit him to go, and he remained. He was very much afraid of a journey to Denmark, whither the Elector wished to take him, because the king intended to assemble a number of Theologians, to discuss the sacramental controversy. Some one had told his father, 60 years before, that Philip would be shipwrecked on the Baltic Sea, and this sea he was now to cross. But no doubt he also dreaded a Conference where the subject of the Lord's Supper was to be discussed. A pastor of that place had spilt some wine, of which Melanchthon sarcastically remarked, "What a misfortune!" However, this journey was not undertaken; but another took its place. He wrote to Camerarius: "The Court would now prefer it, if I should go to the Rhine. But we[Pg 298] shall remain here until new letters from Court order us to go, which is not at all disagreeable to me, because I look upon my stay here as a blessing." At last the orders arrived. He bade his hearers farewell on the 14th of August, in the following words: "I will not deliver any lectures to-day, because many poor students ask for letters of recommendation about the time of our departure. But I beseech the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches,' that he would guide us. And I also conjure you, for the Lord's sake, to commend yourselves and us to him in devout prayers, and that you may become an ornament of the Church by your becoming conduct."

Accompanied by his son-in-law Peucer, by Eber, and several others, he departed for Worms. They travelled by way of Schulpforte and Erfurt, to Frankfort. They arrived there on the 26th of August, and here learned, to their great sorrow, that Schnepf, Strigel, Stössel, and the Counsellor Monner, of Weimar, were earnestly engaged in Worms, in urging a condemnation of all the errors which had been introduced. They intended this for Melanchthon particularly. He at this time wrote to Camerarius: "Many sorrows are troubling me, partly the cruelty of my foes, and also the misfortunes of my son, who, although he is still alive, is suffering great bodily and mental debility." On the 28th of August, they arrived in Worms. The Theologians were filled with joy when they again beheld the countenance of the aged and venerable Melanchthon. One of his enemies, the before-mentioned Monner, thus wrote to Flacius about this: "All our Theologians here received him in the most honorable manner, and adore him almost like a deity. When we came out of Church three days ago, all greeted him as their instructor, but I stood[Pg 299] aloof. When he saw me, he said, rather coldly, 'Doctor!' and slightly touched my hand. He immediately turned away from me, and departed to his lodgings, accompanied by a large number of persons. I and Martin Stössel immediately went to our own. His heart seems to be entirely estranged from me. But I do not care the least for this, and I believe that we should not seek the friendship of persons who pollute the pure doctrine, yea, I rather believe we should fly from them, in obedience to the passage: 'If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.'"

This Basilius Monner, together with his Weimarian friends, endeavored to persuade the Theologians to condemn Adiaphorism, Maiorism, Osiandrism, and Zwinglianism, before the opening of the Religious Conference. "For," as Eber wrote, "these, in their judgment, are the only heresies in Europe which ought to be destroyed root and branch." Flacius, by his letters, also incited his Weimarian friends to insist upon this. Besides this, their instructions required the same. On the 5th of September, the Theologians of the Augsburg Confession met, for the first time, in the town-hall. Here Monner rose up, and declared that their instructions enjoined it upon him and his colleagues to insist, first of all, upon a condemnation of errors, so that they could then oppose the Papists even as one man. Schnepf also arose, and declared that if this should not be done, they would not have anything further to do with the Conference. But let us hear what Melanchthon says of this, in a letter to Prince Joachim, of Anhalt, of September 6th: "The first act was an accusation against myself, taken almost word for word from the libels of Flacius, and brought forward by Schnepf. I briefly[Pg 300] replied to them, that we all agreed in doctrine, because we all adopted the Augsburg Confession, together with its Apology, and Luther's Confession, which he wrote prior to the Council of Mantua. I also spoke a little of my views, that I believed it would be better to retain the order of festivals, and other usages, which were not sinful in themselves, than to leave the churches; I appealed to the opinions of the other persons who were present, and added, that it would give me very great pleasure if I would be entirely excluded from the deliberations of this Conference. The envoys of the princes fully agreed with me, and admonished the accusers to lay their private disputes to one side, and to unite in a general deliberation how the enemy should be refuted. This was done yesterday. I do not know, as yet, what my accusers propose to do further. I bear these calumnies with equanimity. I wrote the Confession and the Apology, which they constantly quote; and now they are debating how they shall get rid of their author. However, I trust that, with God's help, I have been able to be of some use to students. I would much rather always engage in this work, than quarrel in such conferences, in which I have witnessed and experienced many deplorable conflicts."

The majority insisted upon leaving particular condemnations for the present, until the articles referred to should come up during the regular course of debate. The protestation of the Weimarians was not entered upon the minutes, but they succeeded in having it received as their personal conviction, by the envoys of the princes. Julius von Pflug was elected President of the Conference, and called the speakers of both sides together on the 11th of September, to open the discussion. Melanchthon wrote: "According to the custom of orators, he spoke of the evils[Pg 301] produced by discord, in his address. Sidonius replied, and I succeeded him. I mentioned some reasons why we were obliged to differ from our opponents. Our friends are all one in their Confession. The Weimarians, and they alone, had demanded some condemnations."

But soon violent contentions arose, especially in regard to the source of knowledge. The Catholics insisted upon the continual agreement of the Church, but the Protestants would not suffer any other authority than the Bible and the most ancient confessions. Original Sin elicited a still more excited debate. The cunning Bishop Sidonius of Merseburg made these contentions a desirable excuse for breaking up the conference. He knew the two Protestant parties, and imitated those, as Melanchthon says, who wish to drive the bees from their hives: smoke is blown in for this purpose. "So they are seeking plans to divide us, and to break up the conference. I have observed all along that our opponents neither desire the truth nor union." This was written to Matthesius, September 29th.

On the 2d of October, he made the following report to the Elector Augustus: "By the grace of God, our side made a very good beginning. But afterwards the cunning Papists insisted upon knowing whether we were all of one and the same opinion. I replied repeatedly in the public assemblies, that we all agreed in the Confession. But now the Weimarians presented their condemnations, and because they saw that they could not keep pace with the other Protestants, they departed in the beginning of October, declaring that they had been excluded from the Conference. The other Theologians wished to continue, while the Catholics rejoiced at this rupture, and said that they did not know who were the true adherents of the Augsburg Confession. The President Pflug postponed the sessions[Pg 302] until the King should decide the matter." He wrote to Matthesius, October 3d: "I very much doubt whether this debate, which has been commenced between us and our opponents, will be continued. Everything seems to be arranged in such a manner on both sides, that the whole matter will be brought to a conclusion. I earnestly long for the society of my family, and would rather repeat prayers with my beloved sons and daughters than continue to contend with these venomous sophists. However, I shall not leave here until we are officially dismissed."

While Melanchthon was thus expressing so great a desire to behold his family, a change was about to take place in his house at Wittenberg, which caused him great sorrow and many bitter tears. His wife was taken ill on the 27th of September. She had a presentiment of her approaching end, received the Lord's Supper, and as she was now confined to her bed, prayed to God that he might grant her patience. And this her prayer was heard. Not a word of impatience passed her lips, and it was easy to see that she was perfectly prepared to die. An old account says: "In such obedience to God, and with frequent prayer to the Son of God, she fell asleep in Christ; and so peacefully, that those present could scarcely perceive the moment of her death." She died at three o'clock in the morning of the 11th of October. At the time of her death, Melanchthon was in Heidelberg, whither he had been called by the Elector Otto Henry, in order to assist Micyllus in improving the University of that place. He spent some very happy days here, as he was not only receiving honorable attentions from the Prince and the learned, but also enjoyed the opportunity of embracing his beloved brother George. And now his friend Camerarius also arrived. He saw his happiness, but had come to disturb[Pg 303] it; for he had been commissioned by the University of Wittenberg to bear the sad tidings to Melanchthon. While they were walking in the garden of the Elector on the following morning, Camerarius discharged this melancholy duty. Melanchthon heard him calmly, raised his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed: "Fare thee well, I will soon follow thee!" And he then began to speak of the troubles of the Church, and the troubled times that were to be expected; but his sorrow for the loss of his wife would still return. He wrote an affectionate letter to his nephew Sigismund, who was staying at Wittenberg at the time, in which he expresses his anguish at the departure of his beloved wife, and calls upon him to act the part of a father in his family. To the letter of sympathy from the University, which Camerarius had brought, he replied on the 31st of October: "That he was seeking all possible grounds for consolation; but notwithstanding all this, my love to her and her daughters always comes upon me again with such force that I am almost overcome." He returns his hearty thanks for the attentions of the University, and closes thus: "If I am to live any longer, I would not wish to live in any place but with you, whose virtues, sincerity, and faithfulness I value so highly. And I also love our well-deserving University, which God has hitherto protected against wicked attacks and the rage of cunning men. I call upon him to guide and protect it for ever."

He returned to Worms, and remained through the greater part of November, without being particularly engaged. He wrote to Hardenberg on the 14th of November that he had very little to write about, "because, after our colleagues departed, leaving their condemnations behind them, our enemies felt themselves obliged to embrace[Pg 304] this opportunity for breaking off the conferences. On this account there are no meetings at the present time. You no doubt hear that the whole of Saxony is celebrating triumphs, because of the beautiful condemnations which emanate from the judgment-seat of Amsdorf. I pray God to deliver me from those sophists." He also wrote to his friend Mordeisen: "If you will permit me to live in another place, I shall reply truly and effectually to those ignorant intriguers, and for the good of the church. If the discussion of doctrine is to be continued, I hope that a truly Christian harmony will prevail among our colleagues who are still present."

During this time, and at the instance of the Elector Frederick and Duke Christopher, he prepared a formula, in which he shows himself to be very yielding. He in this expresses himself against the fanatics, Servetus, Schwenkfeld, and the Anabaptists, in the strongest terms. In the article on justification he adhered to the word "alone," in retaining the proposition: "That we are justified before God by Faith alone." Faith must always be founded upon the merits of the Mediator. Against the Antinomians, (enemies of the law,) he insists upon the proposition: "New obedience is necessary, because the rational creature must obey God." He rejects the proposition that good works are necessary unto salvation, because this implied merit, and obscures the consolation of the Gospel; and he only retains the expression: "Good works are necessary, because man owes obedience according to the commandment of God." He adheres to the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, in the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. He rejects transubstantiation, and the local inclusion of the body and the blood, which was unknown to the ancients;[Pg 305] he also rejects Zwinglianism, which merely recognizes signs, and says, that "Christ is truly and essentially present, making us members of his body, applying his grace to us, and will prove himself powerful in us." In regard to indifferent things, he appeals to the Confessions, and does not wish to see the churches, who have the Gospel, disturbed by any new changes. But if others discover other misdeeds under this name, we will leave it to the decision of a Synod.

This form of agreement met with the approbation of the Theologians; the Wirtembergers being the only ones who made some objections on account of Osiander's position in the doctrine of Justification. Melanchthon was in the meantime awaiting the royal decision as to the Conference, in order to discuss the various points at the proper place. At last Ferdinand decided that the Conference, already commenced, should be continued. The Catholics now urged the recall of the Saxon Theologians, which was opposed by the others. Therefore the President adjourned the Conference, with the intention that it should be continued at the next diet. Melanchthon and his friends presented a declaration, in which they stated that they were not to blame in this matter, and were true adherents of the Augsburg Confession. This declaration was prepared on the 1st of December. On the 6th of December, he departed with his companions, filled with the saddest feelings, which he thus expresses in a letter to Hardenberg, December 26th: "Although many friends, prudent men on the banks of the Rhine, dissuaded me from returning to the Elbe, I have nevertheless returned; perhaps it is my destiny, and perhaps it is because I must bestow the little I possess upon my heirs, after the death of my wife. But[Pg 306] I expect a new banishment.... As soon as the times become more propitious, I have resolved to consult with you, unless I am forced to leave before that time. Perhaps death will soon conduct me to a more peaceful church.... And truly! I feel an earnest longing for the wisdom of that heavenly school, and hope for that, when we shall see those things we particularly desire to understand, with our own eyes. My enemies have already circulated the report that they will drive me out of entire Germany. They believe that they have so much power. If it pleases God, I am willing not only to leave Germany, but even this life."

The Conference therefore did not terminate well. The strict Lutherans blamed Melanchthon and his adherents for this, and called them "holy Pharisees;" the moderate Protestants charged the breaking up of the Conference upon the Catholics; while the Catholics, full of delight at the misfortunes of their enemies, labored to convince the whole world of the state of discord in the Protestant camp, and showed that it must of necessity come to this.

[Pg 307]



The hostility existing between the stricter and more moderate Lutherans for the few last years, increased more and more, notwithstanding all efforts to the contrary, made by the well-known Duke Christopher, the Elector of the Palatinate, and the Landgrave of Hesse. When the Elector Augustus, the Elector Joachim II., and Duke Henry of Brunswick, met in Leipzig, February, 1558, to consult as to the plan of transferring the Imperial Crown to King Ferdinand at the next Convention at Frankfort, they also spoke of the divisions in the Evangelical Church. Melanchthon received an invitation, during the month of February, to come to Dresden, in order to present his views in regard to this subject. He began to write a declaration, "but sorrow interrupted this work," he says. He thus writes to prince Joachim of Anhalt, in reference to the occasion of this work: "The Elector of the Palatinate and the Duke of Wurtemberg, have frequently requested our Churches to hold a Synod. When asked concerning this, I replied, that it would not be possible to call a Synod, until the princes had agreed, not only upon resolutions, but also upon their Confession, and had discussed this matter with believing and learned men. I therefore received orders to prepare an opinion concerning[Pg 308] certain controverted points, and to forward it, as soon as possible, to the banks of the Main. I shall send or bring this document as soon as possible, for I am anxious to hear your Highness's opinion in regard to these propositions which I have written down."

At last this document was completed, and appeared by the title: "Opinion delivered by Philip Melanchthon, concerning a Synod of all the Electors, Princes and States, adhering to the Augsburg Confession." He declares in the beginning of this, that he would like to hear the judgment of Christian princes and men; and that he did not dread a Synod on account of Flacius and his party. Although they condemned him, he was satisfied, and had no desire of being with them, because they did not seek the glory of God. It would not be necessary to convene a Synod on account of the outcry raised by Flacius; "for I have maintained silence hitherto, and am prepared to remove from this country, if it is desired. I refer to this, in order that no one may think I am dissuading from the holding of this Synod, because I fear that I might be condemned or banished."

He says further: "Several Electors and Princes wish all the adherents of the Confession to hold a General Synod. Now I have always entertained the opinion that no such Synod should be called, until all the Electors and Princes are perfectly agreed, not only upon what they intend to propose, but what they finally intend to resolve and abide by." Unless this should be done, it would only end in greater dissensions. In regard to images in the churches, and the abjuration by other persons in baptism, it would be well to exercise patience in these customs. In regard to Free will, a very important point of dispute, he maintained the following:—It is not right to assert that[Pg 309] man is like a block, and remains passive both in evil and in good works, even if it is said that the will is passive in good works. "It is indeed true, that God performs much wonderful illumination, and great deeds in conversion, and in the entire life of the saints, which the human will merely receives; but nevertheless we must teach that we must regard the word of God in all our afflictions, in order that we may strengthen ourselves by this, and at the same time pray God for help. For God works by his word. Man is not to rest in unbelief, and to think that he will wait, that he will be drawn to God against his own will, by some strange Anabaptist vision and miracle."

He appeals to Luther, and denies the "poisonous" conclusion, as if by this man obtained some merits. It would be well to hear the opinion of sensible persons in a Synod in regard to this matter. We are already familiar with his opinion of Osiander's doctrine, in which he properly makes a distinction between Justification and Sanctification; he expresses his belief that uniformity might easily be restored in this matter. In the third article, of the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, he speaks of transubstantiation as idolatry, and regrets that Protestants too entertain such or similar views, "just as an ass of Erfurt wrote to me lately, that the little pieces which fall upon the ground are also the body of Christ, and should be worshipped." He rejects the doctrine of the Bremen ministers, that the bread is the essential body of Christ, and the wine the essential blood of Christ; and the opinion of Westphal in Hamburg, that the body of Christ is present everywhere, in stone and in wood. He fears that a Synod might produce great divisions; yet he expresses his views as follows: First, nothing is sacrament except the instituted use. This had already greatly disturbed Eck in[Pg 310] Ratisbon, so that he became drunk and quite unwell. He then confesses that the Son of God is thus truly and essentially present; that when we participate of the Lord's Supper, he gives us his body and blood with the bread and wine. He rejects Zwingli's doctrine, that it is a mere outward sign, and that Christ is not essentially present. He proceeds to protest against the proposition: "Good works are necessary to salvation;" and also against the Antinomians, concerning which points we have already referred to his views.

We are also familiar with his views of the Adiaphora, or indifferent things. He offers to accept the decision of a Synod in this, "whether it affects me gently or ungently." In the article on Matrimonial matters, he speaks of Consistories, and advises that these be arranged like those in Electoral Saxony, where these form and execute decisions. He once more requests a serious consideration whether a Synod should be held, "because we have reason to fear that it will cause still greater divisions." But if it should be resolved upon to assemble one, the opinions of all the learned should be listened to in a friendly conference, and if they agree, resolutions should be passed and subscribed. But in case of disagreement, the opinion of all should be heard, and the resolutions passed according to the truth, "let it please or displease whom it will."

At the Convention at Frankfort, held in the beginning of March, 1558, Ferdinand the First received the crown of the German Empire. He pledged himself to preserve religious and civil peace, "continually and firmly." His brother, the Emperor Charles V., had retired to a small residence by the side of the convent of St. Just, belonging to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome, near to Placentia, in Spain, in the month of September, 1556. He lived[Pg 311] here for two years, engaged in earnest meditations upon the vanity of all earthly things, and in the expiation of his sins. It is said that he regretted not having acted more severely against the Protestants; and he died in September, 1558, praying for the unity of the Church. In Frankfort, whither other princes had also been invited, besides the Protestant Electors, it was resolved to restore harmony between the contending parties in the Evangelical Church. This was to be promoted by a treatise prepared by Melanchthon, which has become known as the Recess of Frankfort. There were four principal points of dispute. The first referred to justification, and makes a distinction between justification and sanctification. "This consolation is continually to be remembered in this life, that a man is just, that is, pleasing to God, and a recipient of forgiveness of sins, not on account of newness (the new life), but by faith in Christ, and his merits alone, through mercy, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ." The second article speaks of the proposition, good works are necessary to salvation. Although it is true that the new obedience of the justified is necessary, according to the commandment of God, yet it ought not to be said that it is necessary to salvation, because the doctrine of grace would be obscured by this. The third article, of the true sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, declares its agreement with the Augsburg Confession, namely, "that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly, in a living manner, and essentially present in this his ordinance of the Lord's Supper; that he has also given his body and blood to be received by us Christians, with the bread and wine thus ordained by him, and that he bears testimony by this, that we are his members, that he appropriates himself and his promise to us, and works within us." The fourth article,[Pg 312] of Adiaphora, or indifferent ceremonies in the Church, declares that these may be observed or neglected; and if the true Christian doctrine of the holy Gospel is preached in a proper manner, these ceremonies may be retained without injury to the cause of truth. But if the true Christian doctrine of the holy Gospel should be polluted or persecuted, then not only the indifferent, but also other ceremonies, are injurious. The Recess expresses its agreement with the Augsburg Confession in the strongest terms, "that nothing opposed to said true Confession should be permitted to be taught, preached, or introduced among the people, in the churches, schools, and throughout the land."

On the 18th of March, the Recess was subscribed by the three Electors, Otto Henry, Augustus, and Joachim, by the Count Palatine, Wolfgang von Veldenz, Duke Christopher, and the Landgrave Philip. It was also finally resolved that they would request the other Evangelical states to subscribe it."

Melanchthon at this time expressed his convictions to Matthesius, that the Weimarians would certainly object to it; and the event proved that his supposition was correct. The Recess was violently opposed, not only by the Weimarians, but by all strict Lutherans. Flacius called the Recess, "The Samaritan Interim;" and the aged Amsdorf prepared a refutation, at the request of Duke John Frederick of Saxony; and it was also proposed to hold a meeting in Magdeburg in May, in opposition to the meeting at Frankfort. Saxony was very anxious to bring it about, but in vain. Melanchthon was greatly distressed at this new dispute, and in his letters at this time, frequently expresses his desire to be relieved from this miserable state of existence. On one occasion he said: "I am so over-burdened with labors that I expect my end daily, and yet[Pg 313] my enemies are anxious to drive me away before that." He was also greatly grieved at the death of his old friend, the faithful Bugenhagen, who died peacefully on the 20th of April; although he rejoiced to see another friend, Paul Eber, appointed Pastor in his place. He wrote a letter of consolation to one of his friends, Conrad Nessen, who was sick at the time, in which he says: "My breast is filled with a strong mucus, which threatens me with death, and admonishes me frequently to think of my sick friends, and of my own death. We know with certainty that God gives life, and strengthens the powers of our body, as long as it is his will that we should serve the general welfare in this sorrowful battle of life. I pray to him with all my heart that he would stand by and help you and me, and ease our illness, as long as it pleases him to retain us in this life; and I pray him, that for the sake of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, he would lead us into the sweet communion of the heavenly Church, and grant us the enjoyment of his light and wisdom, whenever he shall be pleased to deliver us from this prison. Let us look unto that fountain of light and wisdom, and bear our present sufferings with less sorrow, in the hope and expectation of that better life." He also wrote to the Landgrave of Hesse: "My enemies have declared that they would make Germany too narrow for me, although I do not know what has filled them with this Cain-like bitterness against me, which induces them to drive me into strange lands. Your electoral highness, and many sensible men in Germany, are well acquainted with my peculiar labors, afflictions, and sentiments. If it pleases God, I am perfectly willing, not only to leave this country, but even this life, for I have remained thus long for the benefit of this school. If I[Pg 314] must go, I am perfectly ready and willing, even as I expect death daily."

The Refutation of the Frankfort Recess, already mentioned as prepared by the Weimarians, was sent to the Elector Augustus by the Dukes of Saxony. Melanchthon received it, and now prepared his "Reply to the Weimarian Document." He passes over the calumnies in it, for the sake of peace; and does not agree with them, that it is altogether improper for civil rulers to set up articles of religion; he would rather rejoice at this, and call upon others to be thankful "that they thus distinctly confess their adherence to the true doctrine, and seek unity among themselves." He refutes the various attacks upon the articles of justification and good works, of the Lord's Supper, and of the Adiaphora. As the Synergistic dispute, of which we have already spoken, was also drawn in, and the Theologians of Jena intended it all as an attack upon the aged Melanchthon, although their assaults were ostensibly directed against Pfeffinger of Leipzig, the gulf was widened, and the animosity continued to increase. Both sides sent forth the most bitter publications. In Thuringia they even proceeded from mere words to deeds. For when the Dukes of Saxony had published their Confutation in the beginning of the year 1559, in which all heresies, that also concerning free will, were condemned, Victorinus Strigel, and the Pastor Andrew Hugel of Jena, refused to submit to it. They were both seized and taken to the castle of Leuchtenburg. Melanchthon thus writes to a friend in regard to this: "During the night succeeding the joyous festival of Easter, the aged Pastor Andrew, together with Victorinus, were seized at Jena, and carried to the neighboring castle of Leuchtenburg, in which is the prison for robbers. The piety and moderation of these[Pg 315] men had gained them a distinguished reputation. But Flacius is burning with rage against us. He proves this by thus ill-treating these men, who, although they are not connected with us, are yet displeased with the harsh measures employed against us." The Elector sent this Confutation to Wittenberg, that an Opinion might be given in regard to it. "It is only with great pain that I am able to read those subtleties and tricks," Melanchthon writes to Cracovius; "but I shall freely express my opinions to the Prince, and shall entreat him graciously to dismiss me, if he is better pleased with this venomous fabrication." His Opinion is dated on the 9th of March, and speaks in very plain terms. Its principal objection against the Weimarian Confutation is this: that it does not recognize their (the Wittenbergers) efforts against the blasphemers of the Son of God—such as Servetus and Campanus, Schwenkfeld, and the Antinomians. "The Weimarian book does not say a word of this, (particularly of the Antinomians,) for there are many in many places who are filled with this heresy, who consider themselves holy, although they continue to live in sin against their own conscience." The Confutation also speaks of old and new Zwinglians, without mentioning whom they refer to by the term new. Now they wish to be looked upon as the most zealous devourers of the Pope, and yet they dare not say a word about that grossest of all idolatries, that there can be no Sacrament except according to the instituted form." He rejects the proposition, as he had done before, that the body of Christ is present everywhere, in wood and stone, and says: "I abide by the formula presented to the Elector, and it is certainly true that the Lord Jesus Christ is essentially present in his ordinance, but not present as wood and stone are present. He gives us comfort, and bestows his[Pg 316] body and blood upon us. "In regard to Free will, it is very evident that their principal attacks are against me, Philip." He rejects the doctrine that all works, good and evil, must be done as they are, and asserts that man, even before regeneration, has a free will to maintain external propriety of conduct. And if this liberty still partially belongs to our sinful nature, how much more shall this be the case after regeneration, "when we obtain help by the influence of the Holy Ghost!" "We regard the word of God as the beginning, which word condemns sin, and at the same time offers forgiveness and mercy for the Lord's sake. We maintain that a man must regard the preaching of both the law and the Gospel; and if he comforts himself with the Gospel, and finds comfort in true sorrow, it is certain that God sends his Holy Spirit into his heart, who continues to operate there, and a conflict continues throughout life, in order that faith may become stronger." This rule must remain: "Grace precedes, the will accompanies it, God draws no man but him who is willing." He also proceeds to speak of Osiander, Stancarus, of the proposition "Good works are necessary to salvation," and particularly also of the Adiaphora, in the manner repeatedly referred to on previous occasions. In regard to ceremonies, he says that the two Dukes of Saxony had formerly come to the same conclusion, and that the present condemnation applied to their resolutions as well as "our own." The Landgrave fully concurred in this Opinion, and sent it to Duke John Frederick, who remarked, that Melanchthon had not been mentioned once in the Confutation, and that he exemplified the old saying: "Whoever is hit cries out." However, the Duke was prevailed upon to release the prisoners. In August, 1560, Flacius and Strigel held a discussion, in which Flacius unintentionally[Pg 317] so far forgot himself, that he maintained that Original Sin was the substance of human nature. He was greatly persecuted and distressed on account of this proposition. He died at Frankfort on the 11th of March, 1575, uttering these words: "Jesus Christ, thou Son of God, have mercy upon me!"

The pure Gospel had also penetrated into Bavaria, and had found many friends there; so that the Chamber of Deputies of the Duchy petitioned Duke Albert in the year 1556, that he should permit the pure preaching of the Gospel, and the use of the cup to the laity. But the Duke, whom Melanchthon calls a man of mind and wisdom, would not listen to it, for he had given himself up to the influence of the Jesuits. They finally succeeded in securing the suppression and banishment of all the friends of the Gospel. In order to ferret out all heresy, they prepared thirty-one articles for the use of the Inquisition. Whoever was not able to reply to these in a satisfactory manner should be punished and banished. These articles were published in September, 1558, and Melanchthon saw them during the same month. In the month of May of the following year, he published his "Answers against the wicked Articles of the Bavarian Inquisition." This publication is one of the most important of his works, because it may be called his last Confession—his spiritual swan's song, (dying strain). Of these Bavarian articles, he says: "Whosoever reads these idolatrous articles, which have been prepared by a dishonorable raving monk of Bavaria, let him not be deceived by the appearance of the Church, but remember that we should not blaspheme acknowledged truth, and that blasphemers of acknowledged truth and murderers of the members of Christ are not the Church of God." He not only deals thus with the thirty-one[Pg 318] Articles, but also with those Articles which had created dissensions in the Protestant Church. We are already acquainted with his views, according to which, appealing to Luther, he maintains that in the work of conversion grace precedes, and the human will follows; as Chrysostomus says: "God draweth, but only him who is willing." Yet, at the same time, he also admitted that God so operated in all his saints, that their will remained in a passive condition. He also refutes Servetus and the Anabaptists, and confessed the orthodox doctrine of the union of the two natures in Christ.

He was also destined to behold a violent dispute in regard to the Lord's Supper, which arose in his native land, the Palatinate. A certain Tilemann Hesshuss, who was born at Wesel in the year 1526, and had been a pupil of Melanchthon, had, upon his recommendation, been called to Heidelberg in 1558, as professor and general superintendent. A dispute arose between him and a certain Deacon, William Klebitz, of that place. Klebitz leaned towards Calvinism. The Elector Frederick III., who had succeeded Otto Henry in 1559, admonished Hesshusius to express himself in regard to the Lord's Supper, in accordance with the Augsburg Confession. Hesshusius declared that he would look upon all who did not teach that the body of Christ is in the bread, as Zwinglians. He excommunicated Klebitz from the pulpit, and even attempted to snatch the cup from his hand at the altar. The Elector upon this deposed both of them, and sent his secretary Zeisler to Wittenberg to obtain Melanchthon's advice. He replied on the 1st of November, and begins in the following manner: "This answer is not a difficult but a dangerous one. Yet I will say, what I am able to say in regard to this dispute, praying the Son of God that he may[Pg 319] direct your counsels, and bring this matter to a happy conclusion." He approves of the proceeding of the Elector in ordering both sides to remain silent, and deposing them, and wishing them to use the apostle Paul's formula: "The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ." The apostle does not say that the substance of the bread is changed, as the Papists maintain; nor that the bread is the essential body of Christ, as those of Bremen say; nor that the bread is the true body of Christ, as Hesshuss says; but communion: that is, that by which a union with the body of Christ is effected." He declares again, as he had often done before, that he believed in a presence of Christ, "not on account of the bread, but on account of man." Christ makes us to be his members, and hereby testifies that he will make our bodies alive. Thus the ancients expressed themselves in regard to the Lord's Supper. It cannot be proved that he wished to open the door for the introduction of Calvin's doctrine into the Palatinate by this.

It is well known from the history of the Church in the Palatinate, that the Elector Frederick banished the Lutheran and introduced the Reformed doctrine into the Palatinate, and at times made use of very harsh measures to effect this. This grieved the aged Brenz so much, that although he had hitherto maintained friendly relations with Melanchthon, he made efforts to convene a Synod at Stuttgart. Here it was agreed to make the doctrine that Christ's body is everywhere present, which is called the doctrine of the Ubiquity, the Confession of the Church of Wurtemberg. This gave great offence to Melanchthon; and disputes concerning the Lord's Supper arose on every side. The princes, especially the Landgrave, were anxious to hold a General Synod, of which Melanchthon did not[Pg 320] expect any good results, and he therefore endeavored to dissuade them from it, in an opinion published December 18th, 1559, in which he says: "The name Synod is a beautiful one, and Christian Synods, like those of the apostles, should be convened for the settlement of disputes. But these Synods have frequently been the cause of great and cruel disorders; and it is about as great a risk to call one as to make war. Therefore, it would be well if the Electors and Princes would not be too precipitate, and unadvisedly begin so dangerous a work. I do not say this for my own advantage; for, although my enemies and their adherents condemn me, as they have persecuted and slandered me, I nevertheless rejoice that I am at last separated from such hypocrites, who encourage idolatry and murder; and, as long as God grants life and reason to me, I am determined, by God's help, to adhere to that form of doctrine which I prepared forty years ago, in the beginning of the visitation, for the benefit of youth, notwithstanding great persecution; and I commend our churches and authorities, and myself, to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God." He adds, in conclusion: "Finally, as union is not to be expected in such a Synod, it is not advisable to assemble one; and as the meeting of the Electors and Princes is to be held for the purpose of deliberating in regard to the Synod, I, as an humble individual, think that this meeting should also be omitted. For the princes would be urged continually, until they would yield something to please others, and in the end it would give rise to dissatisfaction."

While he was thus remonstrating against the holding of a General Synod, the Elector of the Palatinate, the Duke of Würtemberg, and the Landgrave, insisted upon summoning one, and their envoys endeavored to secure the[Pg 321] assent of the Elector Augustus to this plan. Melanchthon writes: "I do not know what good this plan will effect, while parties are so greatly opposed to each other." He was also greatly distressed at this time, on account of the persecutions endured by his friend Hardeberg, in Bremen, because of the Lord's Supper. Hesshuss, expelled from Heidelberg, came to Bremen, but declared that he could not accept the situation offered to him, until Hardeberg would adopt different views. He proposed a discussion, against which Melanchthon remonstrated in the strongest terms. But when he found that it was nevertheless to take place, he resolved to go to Bremen himself, in order to assist his friend. But Hardeberg would not enter into the discussion, and was deposed in February, 1561. But Melanchthon did not live to see this. He saw heavy thunder-clouds rising around him on every side, animosities were becoming more and more bitter from day to day, and the inmost life of the Evangelical Church seemed to be destroyed. It is not at all to be wondered at, that he began to long more and more earnestly for the eternal world, surrounded as he was by such gloomy prospects. He therefore says, in a letter to Baumgärtner, of Nuremberg, a few weeks before his death: "I am consumed by my longing for the heavenly fatherland; and if I should be obliged to live much longer in this misery, I would wish to get farther away from this barbarity." This wish was soon to be gratified, and we are now approaching his departure; but will first of all briefly view his domestic life, and his manifold meritorious services.

[Pg 322]



If we wish to become better acquainted with a great man like Melanchthon, we must follow him from his public into his domestic life. Here his inner life is revealed to the eyes of an observer.

We have already heard that, principally by Luther's encouragement, he married a daughter of Mayor Crapp, of Wittenberg, on the 26th of November, 1520. His wife, Catharine, was of the same age as himself. Shortly after his marriage, he was able to write of her to a friend, that she deserved a better husband than himself. It was therefore to be expected that their union would be a happy one, and so it was. They regarded each other with the greatest affection, and thought and felt in harmony. If one, for instance, bestowed anything upon the poor, it filled the other with joy.[24] Frequent attacks of illness disturbed, or[Pg 323] we should rather say promoted, their happiness. He was greatly troubled with the stone; and she suffered from the same disease, and also an affection of the liver. It is therefore not to be wondered at, that the oft-repeated illness of his wife filled Melanchthon with the deepest compassion, and that he often freely expressed his sorrows in his letters. She bore the cross to her own gain, and greatly longed to leave this vale of tears. She endured her sufferings patiently, and found her principal comfort in the book of Psalms, which has so often proved itself a lasting blessing to many souls. Frequently did she utter the prayer in Psalm lxxi, 18: "Now also, when I am old and grey-headed, O God, forsake me not." Camerarius, who was intimately acquainted with her, bears the following testimony: "She was a very pious woman, who loved her husband devotedly; an industrious and active mother of her family, liberal and benevolent towards all, and so careful for the interests of the poor, that she did not only lose sight of her ability and strength in the distribution of her charities, but even interceded for them among her friends, with the greatest earnestness, and even impetuosity. She led a spotless life, and was so anxious to cultivate a pious and honorable character, that she did not concern herself about expensive entertainments, or costly dress."

Their union was blessed by the birth of four children, two sons and two daughters; Anna, Philip, George, and Magdalen. His daughter Anna was born in 1524. Melanchthon was a great friend of children, and regarded his own with the deepest affection. He was particularly devoted to his Anna. At a certain time, this little child entered the room, and found its father weeping. It approached him, and with its little apron wiped away his[Pg 324] tears. He says of this: "This proof of her love made a deep impression upon my heart." He did not dream, at that time, that the fate of this daughter should cause him to shed many bitter tears in future. At another time, one of his daughters absented herself from home for a long time. When Melanchthon saw her, he asked her, in a jesting way, what she would say to her mother, who would no doubt give her a severe scolding. The child replied, in its simplicity, "Nothing." He was highly pleased with this reply, and he often afterwards made use of it, when attacked by his enemies.

Adami relates: "Upon a certain time a Frenchman paid him a visit. He found Philippus in the nursery, where he was rocking the cradle with one hand while he held a book in the other. When he observed the surprise of his guest, Philip praised the duties of family life, and the gratitude of children towards God in such a manner, that the stranger departed greatly instructed." He felt happy and at home in the nursery and in the family circle, which he called "the little church." His son George, who was born November 25th, 1527, died when he was two years old. He was very much attached to this child, which already displayed extraordinary intellectual gifts. Great indeed, therefore, was his sorrow, when the Lord took it away. He speaks of it in several of his letters. Luther even calls upon Jonas to pray for him that the Lord would comfort him. Luther wrote to Jonas on the 17th of August: "On last Sunday the Lord took away our Philip's son George. You can easily imagine how very difficult it is for us to console this tender-hearted and most sensitive man. The death of his son has filled him with extraordinary sorrow, for he has not experienced this before. You[Pg 325] know how very important the preservation of his life and health is to us all; we all suffer and sorrow with him."

At the close of the month Luther again wrote to Jonas: "Philippus is still grieving. We all sympathize with him, as a man of his worth richly deserves it. Oh! that all those proud Timons were humbled by crosses like this, who are so proud of their own wisdom, that they do not know how much this man, sinful and feeble though he be, is exalted above many, yea, thousands like Jerome, Hilary, and Macarius, who are altogether unworthy to unloose the shoes' latchets of my Philippus."

The eldest son bore his father's name, and was born on the 13th of January, 1525. This boy suffered very much in his earlier years, so that his father entertained very little hope of raising him. But notwithstanding all this, he lived to the great age of eighty years. He did not possess the talents which so greatly distinguished his father. When very old, he wrote in an album: "I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ. Philippus Melanchthon, August 9th, 1603."

George Sabinus was born at Brandenburg, April 23d, 1508. In his 15th year he had come to Wittenberg to pursue his studies. Melanchthon became acquainted with him, and loved him on account of his extraordinary talents. He was particularly distinguished for his poetical talents. When Anna,[25] Melanchthon's favorite, was 16 years old, she was married to this Sabinus, with the consent of her parents. This occurred in the year 1536. In the year 1538, the Elector Joachim of Brandenburg called Sabinus to Frankfort on the Oder, as professor of polite literature.[Pg 326] Being an exceedingly vain and ambitious man, he looked upon this situation as too humble, and longed for one more honorable. Such an one seemed to be opened to him, when the Duke of Prussia established a University at Königsberg.

Melanchthon wrote to Camerarius in the Spring of 1544: "Sabinus intends to leave the academy (at Frankfort) because he finds it very difficult to satisfy the demands of so many learned judges. He is looking for hiding-places where he will be able to rule, and from whence he may be introduced to courtly life. This, you must know, is the substance of his plans. Perhaps we may add to this, that he is desirous of removing my daughter farther away from my observation; but I endeavor to be calm."

We may easily conceive that the modest, gentle Anna, could not live happily in such a union. She complained to her parents, for Sabinus was also a spendthrift in addition to all this. By the recommendation of Camerarius, Sabinus was appointed the first Rector of the University of Königsberg, on the 17th of August, 1544. Before removing to this place, Anna and her children remained for some time in the house of her parents at Wittenberg. Melanchthon's love towards his daughter and her children was now renewed and increased, especially as he saw the prospects that awaited them. He wrote to Camerarius: "This journey of my daughter fills me with constant sorrow. But I pray that the Lord may regard our tears. Could you but see how amiably my daughter has deported herself while at home; she is quiet, modest, gentle, very conciliatory, and of a prudent mind."

But she was not destined to remain in this school of suffering for a very long time; for, as we have already[Pg 327] heard, the Lord removed her in March, 1547. This was the severest affliction that Melanchthon ever endured. From Zerbst he wrote to his friend Paul Eber in Wittenberg: "I send you a narrative of my daughter's death, which, whenever I read it, or even but think of it, so increases my parental sorrow, that I fear it will injure my health. I cannot banish the sight of my weeping daughter from my eyes, who, when she was asked what she would like to say to her parents, replied: "I think of several things, which fill me with anguish." Camerarius says, that she appeared as a corpse to her father in a dream, in the very night in which she died. Melanchthon wrote to him that his daughter had gently passed out of this life, giving striking evidences of her love towards God, her husband, and children.

It soon appeared that the love which Melanchthon had borne towards his departed daughter was now transferred to her children. He therefore wrote to Sabinus: "I wish our friendship to be a lasting one, and am determined to cherish it faithfully. I shall look upon your children as my own, and they are indeed my own. I do not love them less than I loved their mother. Many know how fondly I loved my daughter; and this love has not been extinguished by her death, but continues to be nourished by sorrow and ardent desire. And as I know how much she loved her children, I believe that I must transfer her affections to myself." Great indeed was his joy when Sabinus, during his journey to Wittenberg in the autumn of 1547, left behind him three daughters and a son. These grand-children were the greatest recreation of the grand-parents. He would sometimes even speak of these children before his hearers.

His youngest daughter Magdalen, born July 18th, 1533,[Pg 328] was married to Doctor Caspar Peucer, when she was but 19 years of age. After Melanchthon's death, Peucer became the first professor of the University of Wittenberg, and physician in ordinary to the Elector of Saxony. Their union was richly blessed with children. He endured many persecutions afterwards, because he and some of his colleagues secretly approved of the doctrines of Calvin, on which account they were called Cryptocalvinists. He was compelled to languish in a prison for twelve years. During this time his wife died. One morning he dreamed that he was tolling the bell for a funeral. The rope broke in his hand, and awaking, he cried out: "The rope is broken, and we are free." In the very same moment the door of his cell was opened, and he was liberated. Grief took such possession of his heart, that he was frequently observed weeping during public worship in Zerbst, whither he had retired.

His servant John has likewise been very properly counted a member of Melanchthon's family. This John was a Swabian, who for thirty-four years served him with great fidelity and honesty, managed all his household affairs, and trained and instructed his children. Melanchthon entertained the highest respect for him, and frequently wrote to him, when absent on a journey. This man must have had a truly Christian understanding and heart. When Veit Dietrich upon a certain occasion sent some sermons upon the struggles of the soul of the Son of God to Melanchthon, he replied that he had not read them yet, but intended to read them attentively, and then continues: "My servant, who reads such books with great delight, praises them very much."

When he died, Melanchthon publicly announced his death, and spoke of him in the most touching manner.[Pg 329] We will repeat it: "My servant John, born on the Neckar, lived with me four-and-thirty years. He served God with true piety, and towards men he was just, truthful, and obliging. He was chaste, and a friend of chastity. He devoted his mornings to the reading of the Scriptures and prayer, then to the training and instruction of my little sons and daughters, and then to household affairs. He accompanied us in all our times of exile, in time of war and pestilence, and witnessed my life, labors, and afflictions. And time never produced any change in him towards us." This is an honorable testimony for Melanchthon, even as Eliezer was an honor to Abraham.

We must also notice Melanchthon's personal appearance, his manner of life, and devotional exercises. There was nothing striking in his appearance. He was small and thin, yet of good proportions; his chest was broad, and his neck somewhat long. His face was very expressive, his forehead was high, and his blue eyes were full of beauty, intelligence, and gentleness. He was very animated in conversation. The amount of work performed by this man is really amazing, when we remember that he enjoyed but few healthy days in the whole period of his life. He was frequently troubled with sleeplessness; at other times, he was severely afflicted with the stone; and besides this, he was also subject to affections of the bowels. He had accustomed himself to very strict habits of life.[26] He could be found in his study at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, both in summer and winter. During the day, he read three or four lectures, attended to the conferences of[Pg 330] the professors, and after that labored until supper-time. After this, he retired about 9 o'clock. He would not open any letters in the evening, in order that his sleep might not be disturbed by anxiety. As his friends on the Rhine made him frequent presents of wine, he was in the habit of drinking a glass before supper.

His habits were extremely regular. He generally took one simple meal a day, and never more than two. As he was frequently invited to entertainments at Wittenberg, and other places, he could not at all times strictly adhere to this manner of life. He was not fond of luxuries, but preferred soups, fish, vegetables, and eggs. He was fond of conversing at table; and a man of his acquirements, who had conversed with princes, statesmen, and other celebrated persons, was never at a loss for a topic. He was fond of cheerfulness and pleasant jests; but his fervent piety diffused a pleasing and blessed light over his whole walk and conversation. He began every duty in the name of God, and as in his presence. The word of the Apostle Paul, "In him we live, and move, and have our being," was ever present to his mind. He was frequently heard exclaiming, "May our Lord God help us, and be merciful unto us!" When he arose from his bed in the morning, he addressed the triune God in the following brief form of prayer: "Almighty, Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of heaven and earth, and man, together with thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy word and image, and with thy Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us, and forgive us our sins for thy Son's sake, whom thou hast made our Mediator according to thy wonderful counsels, and do thou guide and sanctify us by thy Holy Spirit, which was poured out upon the Apostles. Grant that we may truly know and praise thee throughout all eternity!"

[Pg 331]After prayer he read a portion of the Bible, and then looked into the almanac, in order to remind himself of the time of the ecclesiastical year, and of the men of God, whose name-days were there recorded. It was only after he had thus sanctified himself by the word of God and prayer, that he began his labors, or wrote the most urgent letters. He always dined regularly at a fixed hour, and here not only a blessing was asked, but the Apostle's Creed was also repeated. He entertained a very high regard for this Creed, and was in the habit of repeating it three times every day. He thus speaks of it in some of his writings: "There are many reasons why we should accustom ourselves to a daily repetition of the Creed. Godly and pious men are in the habit of repeating it at least three times every day. Dr. Jerome Schurff, a wise and learned man, when he found that death was approaching, repeated it almost every hour, and that, too, with such fervency of spirit, that all could see how much he was encouraged and strengthened by this Confession." He also laid great stress upon the Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, and the Ten Commandments; and frequently exhorted his students to accustom themselves to repeat them.

This piety, which he constantly recommended to others, and practised in his domestic life, also animated all the labors of his calling. He regarded his lecture room, in which so many hearers assembled anxious to hear their master, as if it were his Church. He somewhere makes the remark: "Above the entrance of many old churches, we read the inscription, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' sculptured in the stone. This inscription should also be placed upon schools, for they are a part of the public worship of God; we there teach and learn the truth, and must unite prayer with it all." In another[Pg 332] place he says: "We occupy this position in the name of God, in order that we may preserve and disseminate that truth which gives salvation to the human race; and God demands diligence both on the part of teachers and pupils. We must enter the school with the same feelings with which we enter the temple, namely, that we desire to learn and communicate divine things. If any man enters the school merely to acquire a portion of knowledge, which he may use for gain or empty ambition, let such an one remember that he is desecrating the holiest temple of science."

It was his constant aim to do everything for the glory of God, and to be "a useful instrument of the church." And if this was the case in all his efforts to educate youth, how much more was it the case when the church itself was concerned! He was not one of those with whom Christianity and affection for the church is something so internal that it never manifests itself. He approved of the use of particular forms of prayer. He says: "We are not to despise the verbal prayer, which helps to arouse us. Dr. Jerome Schurff very properly observes: Christ says, when ye pray, say: Our Father, which art in heaven. Therefore it is not sufficient to pray in the spirit, but if it is possible we must also utter words by which the devotional feelings of our hearts are increased." In his prayers he steadfastly relied upon the promises of God, and doubtless frequently rejoiced in having found that which he sought. He loved the house of God, and was a faithful attendant at the public worship of God. Heerbrand of Tübingen, in his Eulogy, bears this honorable testimony: "He was anxious to frequent public worship, not only to set a good example to others, but because he knew that the Holy Spirit exercised his power through the word of God, and[Pg 333] that the Son of God was present, so that his faith might be strengthened, and the spirit of prayer be enkindled in the congregations of the saints; even as he constantly prayed with inexpressible sighs, and offered up prayers and supplications for the church and himself. We, who knew him, are all able to testify in regard to this."

He once remarked to his hearers: "You are not to act in so brutish and impertinent a manner as to think it does not matter even if I do not go to church, for it is nothing but Popery and superstition. No, but it is barbarism to neglect these privileges. There is no more beautiful sight than orderly and holy assemblies, in which men are instructed of God, and where they unite in prayer and thanksgiving. We have here a type of eternal life, where we shall sit in the presence of God and his Son, and hear the Son of God instructing us in reference to the greatest wonders."

In another place he says: "You must connect yourselves with the church, and maintain the public worship of God. You know how frequently the Psalmist prayed: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." O Lord, let me live where there is a church, however small. Just as I once related of my little daughter, who said: "Königsberg is a very nice place too, for there they go to church just like here." She saw how glorious these assemblies are. He also in another place expresses his sentiments in regard to this matter in a very decided manner: "We love the united devotions of the house of God. Those who do not come to church, but accustom themselves to walking about, feasting, and other abominations, while the godly are assembled to hear the[Pg 334] word of God, will degenerate more and more. They will become swine, lewd fellows, and devils. In my house at Tübingen, in which Dr. Jerome Schurff had also resided, this ancient verse was written upon the walls: "To go to church delayeth not, to give alms impoverisheth not, and unjust wealth remaineth not."

We have heard before, that it was his opinion that the public worship of God should not be entirely devoid of all ceremonies. But the ceremonies should not be opposed to the Scriptures. He did not approve of depriving the churches of their ornaments and pictures. However, we are already sufficiently acquainted with his sentiments in these respects.

It is very remarkable that he attached such great importance to dreams, and the position of the stars. He dreamed a great deal, and in his letters frequently speaks of the stars; and whenever comets made their appearance he looked upon them as signs of evil times, and troubled himself exceedingly. He also relates instances of the influence exerted upon the lives of men by good and evil spirits, from which it appears that he looked upon such influences as very powerful.

[Pg 335]



The reader has had sufficient evidence in the life of our Reformer, that he was indeed a learned man, and performed most valuable services in the church and school. He labored especially to combine science with the work of the Reformation, and to render the study of the Greek and Latin writers serviceable to the cause of Christianity. And he proved very satisfactorily, that these studies can be attended to without sacrificing true Christianity. Of course, there is a very great difference between him and those scholars of our own day, who diffuse a knowledge of heathen authors apart from true Christianity. While the latter are training up a generation which is filled with heathen ideas, and but too often lives a heathenish life, Melanchthon trained pupils who also possessed a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages, but at the same time loved Christian truth. This "Teacher of Germany," as he was called, would still be able to show the teachers of our modern youth, that extensive attainments, and true, living Christianity, are not necessarily opposed to each other, but may be brought to harmonize with each other in the most beautiful manner. How earnestly he labored to instil a thorough knowledge into the minds of his pupils, is manifest from his own words: "To neglect the young in our schools is just like taking the Spring out of the[Pg 336] year. They indeed take away the Spring from the year who permit the schools to decline, because religion cannot be maintained without them. And a terrible darkness will fall upon society, if the study of the sciences should be neglected."

As he himself had attained solid knowledge in his youth, he was also anxious that his pupils should be well grounded in the various branches of knowledge. He was therefore not ashamed to instruct young men in the rudiments of the dead languages. For this purpose he wrote a Greek and a Latin grammar, which were used in the schools until the beginning of the last century. He was instrumental in securing cheap editions of the Greek and Roman authors. But he did not confine himself entirely to the study of languages; he also devoted himself to other branches of knowledge, particularly History. He was very anxious to direct greater attention to German History. A number of excellent scholars were prepared under Melanchthon's superintendence, one of whom, Valentine Friedland, called Trotzendorf, became very distinguished.

We will not enter into the consideration of his services in Philosophy, the promotion of Eloquence, Ethics, Psychology, Natural Philosophy, and Astronomy, but shall merely say a few words more of the influence he exerted upon true Theology.

He was mainly instrumental in introducing the knowledge of the Greek language among the Protestants, and also in encouraging them to study the Hebrew, because he saw that a knowledge of the original languages was absolutely essential in order to understand the Holy Scriptures properly. Besides this, as we have heard before, he wrote critical expositions of most of the books of the Bible. His[Pg 337] Latin comments upon the Gospel lessons appointed to be read in the Churches, were delivered before the Hungarians, who did not understand the German language. Christopher Pezel informs us of their origin: "When the University was re-established after the war of Smalkald, Philip Melanchthon began to explain the Gospels for Sundays and festival days, in his own house, for the sake of a number of Hungarians, who were not able to understand the German sermons in the churches. As a large number of other persons also began to attend these lectures or sermons, in which he explained the principal truths of his text in a familiar conversational manner, he was obliged to hold them in the public Lecture-Room. As he was very skilful in instructing youth, and thoroughly supplied with every kind of learning, he was careful to suit his explanations to the capacities of his hearers, the greater part of whom were young men, and many of them boys."

These lectures were very numerously attended. He was in the habit of beginning to explain the separate verses according to their literal meaning. He then proceeded to inquire whether his explanation agreed with the context, and then went on to develop the doctrines of faith. He laid great stress upon this analogy of Scripture truths. And this alone, which the ungodly commentators of later times did not recognize, throws a full light upon exposition. We are already sufficiently well acquainted with his system of doctrine. Although, as we have seen, he yielded in some points in an improper manner, he nevertheless adhered to the substance of divine truth. The Augsburg Confession was his Confession. Whenever therefore any one attacked the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, as they are represented in the confessions of the first centuries, he would become very much excited, and thought that such persons[Pg 338] ought to be punished. Therefore he decidedly approved of the burning of Michael Servetus, who rejected and blasphemed the doctrine of the Trinity. He acted in the spirit of the Old Testament, and forgot, that although such persons cannot be regarded as members of the Christian church, they must be borne with patiently.

He was also in favor of using the strongest measures against the Anabaptists, and other fanatics and heretics. Although he did not look upon this in the light of the New Testament, his view rested in a warm zeal for the purity of the Christian Church, which he looked upon as of the utmost importance. It is true, the objection might be raised here that he himself should not have been so inconstant in many doctrines. But this was very agreeable to many in his own days, who became his followers. He thus became the leader of a party, no doubt against his own will. His followers were afterwards called Philippists. It does not belong to our task to write the history of this party, and to present its sad destiny. There are still some divines who esteem Melanchthon's faults as his highest perfections, and look upon him as a man far in advance of his own time, or in other words, as a man who occupies their own position. But if these extollers of Melanchthon would take the trouble to examine his writings, and the additional trouble to compare their own amount of faith with that of the Master of Wittenberg, it would not only result to their own disadvantage, but it would be apparent that they are not even worthy to loosen the latchets of his shoes. For the fundamental doctrines of the Divinity of Christ, of the Atonement, Justification by Faith, and the like, were so fully established in his view, that he would not suffer the least doubt in regard to them. How steadfastly he adhered to them, and how faithfully he relied[Pg 339] upon his Saviour, is proved by his last illness and death-bed, which no doubt may be regarded as among the most edifying upon record, and which we therefore propose to describe at length.



A cloud of the noblest champions and witnesses of God had already departed to that place where we rest after the battle, and where the confessor receives the reward of grace. Melanchthon had long before this desired to lay aside his arms, and to celebrate a Sabbath, in which he might sing the new song to him that sitteth upon the throne, with his friends Luther, Cruciger, Veit Dietrich, Sturm, Bucer, Bugenhagen, and all the company of the saints made perfect. He had also expressed this longing towards the eternal home in many of his letters. The most ancient account, that of the University, says in regard to this: "When he had now become worn out, and weary of this life, he prepared himself for death for several years; even as he wrote concerning himself, that he was tired of this life, and was therefore directing his thoughts to another world, and towards his beloved Lord Jesus Christ. That he had done as much as he could in this life, and would leave the rest with God. He comforted himself with the reflection that he had always meant well, and his conscience did not accuse him on this account. And with[Pg 340] this clear conscience, he trusted to go "into the presence of his Lord Jesus, with God's help, no matter what an ungrateful world might say about it." Whenever his opponents attacked him at this time, he would say: "Let them write until they are satisfied, and do whatever they please, I shall not trouble them much longer. But I, with God's help, will continue to teach diligently, and present a simple exposition of truth to the young, as long as I live, and will pray God to grant me a joyful departure." To this mental weariness, bodily infirmities were added. He began to experience great difficulty in writing letters, which he had done with much ease formerly; and his eyes, too, grew weaker.

On the 30th of March, 1560, he departed for Leipzig, in order to examine the stipendiaries of the Elector. After he had finished his labors, he left Leipzig on the 4th of April. His journey affected him very unfavorably, for the air was inclement and cold, and they were riding against a cutting north wind. He said, even while in the carriage, "that he had not felt the coldness so much during the whole winter, as he did now." He was able to sleep very little during the night from the 7th to the 8th of April; towards morning he was affected with fever, accompanied by a cough and shortness of breath, and his eyes appeared so sunken, that his friends were terrified. But notwithstanding all this, he roused himself from his couch to attend to his duties, but found himself so much exhausted by his efforts, that he was repeatedly obliged to totter to his couch, to refresh himself. During this day, he yet wrote a short letter to Moller, and apologized for its brevity on account of the severe pain he was suffering. His son-in-law, Doctor Peucer, thought that the affection of the stone, with which his father-in-law had suffered severely[Pg 341] before, was again making its appearance, and had a bath and warm poultices prepared for him.

After wishing him good night, the invalid said: "If it is the will of God that I shall die, I am heartily willing to die, and I only pray God to grant me a joyful dismission." He felt that death was approaching; and as he was fond of reading and interpreting the stars, he observed intimations of his death in the planets. He rose shortly before 8 o'clock, in order to deliver his usual lecture. His friends, Esrom (Rüdiger) and Sturm, in vain endeavored to dissuade him from doing so. He said, "I will lecture for a half hour, and then use a bath." But when he was about to set his foot upon a little stool which he used when he washed his hands, he became so weak that he was not able to lift up the other foot, so that he almost fell back. Upon this he said, "I shall go out like a lamp." He went to the lecture-room, accompanied by his two friends; but it was not yet 8 o'clock, and but few students were present. He then remarked: "What is the use of our being here?" On the way back to his house, he said to his companions: "If I could reach Königsberg, I might become better." When he reached the house, he felt somewhat better, and his friends did not venture to give notice that the lecture would be omitted. Esrom departed, in order to seal the letter in which he had communicated Melanchthon's illness to Camerarius.

At 9 o'clock, he again went out to deliver his lecture. It only lasted a quarter of an hour. He spoke of the ransom of Christ, which he offered as Mediator, not silver and gold, but his precious blood, by which he fulfilled the law, and satisfied justice. He spoke with his usual animation. Upon his return home, he took a bath. He took but very little food, and then slept soundly for three hours.[Pg 342] At supper, he spoke distinctly, but feebly. On the following night the fever returned, and Peucer found that he had been mistaken as to his disease.

On the 9th and 10th of April, Melanchthon was lively and cheerful; and at a meeting of the faculty, spoke very earnestly against the parties among the students. In the afternoon, he corrected several funeral orations in honor of Duke Philip, of Pomerania, who died on the 24th of February, and said: "I am now only engaged upon funeral matters. This worthy Prince of Pomerania was also named Philip. Perhaps I shall be the next Philip, from the common herd, who shall follow this pious prince." On the same day he delivered a very animated lecture upon Christ's prayer (John xvii.), and also made preparations to read a meditation suitable to the festival of Good Friday, in the morning at 6 o'clock (April 12th). It was based upon the 53d chapter of the Prophet Isaiah. In this he remarks: "Our diligence and valor is also needed." He had indeed spent a bad night, but this did not deter him. When he was told that in the evening they had seen clouds resembling bound rods, he spoke very earnestly of the judgments of God. "The people," he said, "are becoming secure, and care for no warnings; and whenever this is the case, punishment is not far off. May God Almighty be gracious unto us, whom we heartily pray to remember mercy in the midst of his wrath." The following night he enjoyed good rest, and slept very quietly. He awoke whilst he was singing an old hymn, which, when a boy, he had frequently sung in Church: "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." He wrote an Easter Meditation on the great Sabbath, the day before Easter, and carried it to the printing-office himself. He then went to church, confessed his sins,[Pg 343] received absolution, and together with others, in true faith received the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving and fervent prayer. In the afternoon at 2 o'clock, he went to look after his manuscript in the printing-office. This was his last walk in the street.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, his dear friend Camerarius, of Leipzig, who had been informed of his friend's precarious condition, through Peucer, entered the house, and found his friend Melanchthon upon the lowest step of the stairway that led to his study, resting his head upon his hand. He arose and welcomed him, and they continued to converse for some time. At 5 o'clock, he expressed a wish to go to bed, for a severe chill had come upon him. He did not eat anything. He could not sleep during the night after Easter; the heat of the fever was rapidly consuming his strength; but notwithstanding all this, he could not be persuaded to omit his customary annual Easter Meditation. He had already put on his coat to go out. But the good man was so feeble that he was barely able to stand. Some one had informed the students that the Master would not lecture, upon which they all departed. When his son Philip came in to inform his father that there were no auditors there, his father replied, in a tone of displeasure, "So you have told them to go away." But when his son apologized, he said, in a milder tone, "To whom shall I lecture, if there is no one present?" He then took off his coat. He proceeded to write several letters, while Camerarius remained with him, and the rest went to church. The excellent and pious prince Joachim, of Anhalt, who had heard of his illness, sent him a moor-hen, and several partridges. He partook of some of these, and also of some Hungarian plums. He[Pg 344] also drank some Rhenish wine, and remarked that he liked it. He also conversed very pleasantly with his friends.

When he arose from the table, he went up into his room and rested for a while upon his couch. He had also commenced writing a letter to Prussia, which he now continued, without however finishing it. He was not able to write any more; he rested, and thought of his deceased friend, Dr. Pommer.[27] He said, "Doctor Pommer, that good, and now sainted man, died of nothing but old age;" and continued: "no one ought to wish to live so long that his age and feebleness would render him altogether useless to men."

On one of the following days, he prayed to God in a very fervent manner, in the hearing of many persons, that he would graciously remove him from this life, if he was not to serve the Church and Christian youth any longer." And God heard this prayer, which he repeated several times.

During the night he slept tolerably well. When he[Pg 345] arose, therefore, he continued to write. However, his friends persuaded him not to lecture on this day, (Easter Monday.) Before going to table, he said: "If it is God's will, I am willing to die. I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ." He then spoke of the original Greek word in the New Testament, which does not properly signify to depart, but "to journey or prepare for a journey." He also recollected a remark made by the worthy and pious Dr. Milichius: "It might be that a person would be very anxious to leave this life; but at the same time, no man could earnestly think of death, without shuddering." Melanchthon coincided with this, and said: "The great misery and troubles of life are not able to give a man joy in the hour of death. Something more is needful before a man can feel this." He retired to his bed, and rested for about three hours. When he had risen at one time, and Camerarius and Peucer were again placing him upon his couch, he began to sink under their hands. But they restored him by rubbing him. He spent a very restless night; his cough was quite troublesome, and he slept little. This was the fifth attack of the fever. He remarked that at Weimar, Doctor Sturtz had applied a cardiac of corals, which relieved him, and that he had thought of the word of the prophet in his sleep: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." He requested them to apply corals in the present instance, and they did so.

In the morning of the 16th of April, at 4 o'clock, he was heard praying very earnestly. After his prayer he completed the letter to Prussia. On this day Camerarius wished to go home, intending to return at a more convenient time. All entertained hopes that the fever would leave him after the seventh attack. As Melanchthon[Pg 346] had not eaten anything the day before, a meal was prepared earlier than usual, in order that he and his friend might eat together. Before going down, they sat on a bench surrounded by some other friends. And now Melanchthon quite unexpectedly said to Camerarius, as if giving him his blessing: "My dear Dr. Joachim, we have been joined in the bonds of friendship about forty years, and we have loved each other with a sincere and disinterested affection. We have been teachers of youth and faithful colleagues, each in his proper place, and I hope to God that our labors have not been useless, but have done much good. If it is God's will that I must die, we will perpetuate our unalterable friendship in the world to come." They then both sat down to table. Melanchthon then turned to Camerarius's son-in-law, Esrom, whose wife had died a year and a half before, and said: "I to-day dreamed of your wife, as if I had seen her die." He said of this pious and virtuous woman, that he heard her remark: "I know that God will not forsake me." "I can never forget that word," he said. When something was said of the hurtful doctrine of doubt, he said to Esrom: "Your sainted wife did not speak so." He also referred again to the hymn, which he sung in his sleep three days ago, and said that it sounded so sweetly. He ate and drank very little, and grew weaker and weaker. He expressed a wish to retire to his room, and tried to go to sleep. Camerarius felt very anxious in regard to him, and determined not to depart that day. The sick man fell asleep, lying upon his back, with his eyes half-open.

He was the very picture of a corpse. His friends were filled with fear, and tears filled their eyes as they gazed upon him. The servants wept and cried aloud, as if their master were already dead. But it had not come to this[Pg 347] yet; and when he turned upon his side in his sleep, his countenance assumed a more natural appearance, and he slept soundly. He awoke after three hours, and said that he had slept exceedingly well. Cheerfulness and animation seemed to return. During this day, a Danish Theologian, on his way to his own country, entered his room. Melanchthon was very much pleased with the visit of this gentleman, and gave him several books, which had been printed at Wittenberg, in order that he might present them to the King of Denmark. The invalid requested him to apologize for him to the king, because he had not written; that he was prevented by illness; however, God willing, he hoped to write soon, and faithfully and humbly to thank his majesty for all his gracious favors. He also prayed that the king and his entire kingdom might continue to enjoy happiness and prosperity.

He was so refreshed by his sleep, that he wrote letters, walked through his room and the house, and was more cheerful and animated than during the whole time of his illness. All began to entertain a hope of his recovery. At the supper-table, he was very cheerful. When the conversation turned upon those men who had brought discord into the Church, and still continued to foment it, he was greatly moved, and with unusual passion remarked: "They are knaves, and will remain knaves, and God will yet make it manifest that they are knaves." He remained at table until about 8 o'clock. It was the last meal he ever received in the lower part of his house. His sleep was refreshing. In his sleep his spirit was impressed with the words of the Apostle Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

On the following day, April 17th, he sealed the letter to Prussia, wrote something upon some small pamphlets, and[Pg 348] sent them to his friends, and a few of them to the Duke. When he felt some fatigue, and the fever was about attacking him again, Camerarius came to bid him farewell. Philip said: "The Son of God, who sitteth at the right hand of his heavenly Father, and giveth gifts to men, preserve you and yours, and all of us. Give my warmest regards to your dear wife!" This was the last interview of these affectionate friends. Camerarius mounted his horse before Melanchthon's door, and went to Leipzig to attend to some important matters, intending to return afterwards. Prince Joachim, of Anhalt, on the same day sent one of his attendants to inquire in regard to the good man's health. Melanchthon conversed with him in a very friendly manner, and expressed his affection towards the prince in such moving blessings and wishes for his welfare, that every eye was filled with tears. Several letters also arrived from Switzerland, which spoke of the prospects of a General Council, which the Pope intended to convene. He said: "It is far better for me to die, than to be obliged to attend this Council." For every one could easily imagine what shameful dissensions would arise there, even on the side of the Protestants. At 8 o'clock, the fever made its appearance for the sixth time. To some one standing at his bedside, he remarked: "I was to-night thinking of the foolish dispute that some pretend, that Christ was not afraid of death. But he understood what it is to die, far better than we do, or can do. Therefore he no doubt was more afraid of death than we are." He also said, "How does the will of the Lord Jesus Christ agree with the will of his Heavenly Father, when he was afraid of death!" But he did not give any further intimation of his views in regard to this. He again spoke of Esrom's wife: "What a fine young woman your beloved wife was! She had a[Pg 349] strong constitution, too; and yet she died very easily, and had a disease very much like mine. For she had pains in her left side, and I have them too. But the great weakness of my body is owing to other causes, which I do not understand." And shortly before retiring, he said: "If this is not death, it is indeed a very severe scourge." A large map hung near his bed, which he regarded very attentively. He turned round, and with a smile remarked: "Virdungus once foretold to me, by astrology, that I would be shipwrecked upon the ocean, and now I am not far from it." He had reference to the painted ocean upon the map. When the heat of the fever came upon him, and he was about to uncover his extremities, a feeling of modesty led him to say to those who were surrounding his bed: "What are you standing here for? Can't you go home?" This frightened many so much that they retired, and fewer persons were present during that day. At 2 o'clock, the fever left him; it had not been as severe as before. He rose, and took some food, but his stomach would not retain it. He again retired, and slept until 5 o'clock. He was lying all night in his chamber, his slumbers being very slight and restless. His friends feared that the returning fever would consume his remaining strength. Philip himself said, "The end is not far distant;" and prayed, "O Lord, make an end!"

On the 18th of April he rose early in the morning at 4 o'clock, and was conveyed down into his study. He requested them to remove the sofa, which felt uncomfortable, and to put up his travelling-bed. When he was taken down, he said: "This is called a travelling-bed; suppose I should be obliged to travel in it?" While the physicians became convinced, from a number of signs, that he would not recover, he felt it himself, and said, "he was perfectly[Pg 350] satisfied, if it was God's will." At 8 o'clock, pastor Paul Eber, and several other persons, entered the room, and approached the death-bed. Melanchthon frequently repeated that he had subjected his own will to the will of God, and that life and death were altogether in his hands. He would be perfectly satisfied with whatever he should do; and he also remarked, "by the blessing of God I have no particular anxieties now; for although my daughter's children, whom I tenderly love, are now passing before my eyes, I comfort myself with the thought that they are in the hands of pious and godly parents, whom I love also. They will be solicitous for their welfare, and carefully train them, as I have done hitherto, and God will also add his blessing. But I feel for the common calamities, and am greatly troubled because a cavilling and perverse world acts so wilfully, and troubles the Holy Christian Church so shamefully. However, let them do whatever they please, through the goodness of God our doctrine is correct and clear for all that." He then said to some persons present, "You are young, and have received sufficient talents through the goodness of God; but see to it that you use them aright. May Almighty God preserve you, and give you strength and wisdom, that you may be of service to him and his Church."

When, on the same day, he saw one of his granddaughters, Peucer's eldest child, passing before his bed, he called her to him, and said: "Dear daughter, I have loved you most affectionately: see that you reverence your parents, and always obey them, and fear God, who will never forsake you. May God Almighty protect you, and give you his blessing. Amen!"

He also spoke in the same friendly manner to the other children, who were younger, and exhorted them to pray[Pg 351] and to be pious. To his daughter he said: "Dear daughter, God has given you a pious husband. Love, honor, and obey him. And raise your children in the fear of God, and God will be with you, and will not forsake you." He spoke like one who was taking leave.

Camerarius was written to on the following day, and informed that he must make haste, if he wished to find his Philip alive. But it was impossible for him to arrive before the death of his friend. At 8 o'clock on the 18th of April he had some food prepared for himself, and partook of a little broth, and a few slices of lemon. Soon after he asked his son-in-law, "What hopes he entertained in regard to him, and that he should not hide anything from him." Peucer replied: "God is your life, and the length of the days of your life. But as you request me to tell the whole truth, there is indeed very little hope, as far as I am able to judge from natural causes, for you are very weak, and your weakness is increasing every moment." Upon this he said: "Yes, I feel my weakness, and understand what it imports very well. I have commended the whole matter to God, whom I pray to deal mercifully with me!"

He had before commenced his will, which opened with a short declaration of all the articles of his doctrine and faith. He now ordered them to look for it, in order that he might finish it. But it could not be found, and it was supposed some one had stolen it. At 2 o'clock he seated himself at his desk, to write another. We will insert a part of what he wrote: "In the year 1560, on the eighteenth day of April, I have written this will in my sickness, briefly in reference to the humble possessions which God has bestowed upon me. I have twice before written the confession of my faith, and gratitude to God and our[Pg 352] Lord Jesus Christ, but this has been lost. But I wish my answer to the Bavarian articles to be looked upon as my confession against the Papists, Anabaptists, the followers of Flacius, and others like them."

He then expressed his wishes in regard to the division of his property among his heirs; but his weakness prevented him from concluding it, which he intended to do on the following day, but it was never done. He was in full possession of all his mental faculties, and remained so to the end. As he felt no pain in his head at all, some supposed that he would die very painfully. He also conversed with his son-in-law in regard to the affairs of the University, what subjects should be taught there, and also pointed out his successor. At three o'clock, he expressed a wish to retire to his room again. He slept soundly until six. In the meantime, letters had arrived from Frankfort, in which his friends informed him how terribly the pious were being persecuted in France. He said: "Well, I am weak, and do not feel well; but all my sickness does not pain me as much as the great misery of the holy Christian Church, which arises from the unnecessary separation, wickedness, and wilfulness, of those who have departed from us without cause; and these mad people are not able to stop, but must still go on and make this misery worse than it is; for they do not spare any one. But you will see that God will punish this wantonness, and we shall be punished along with them. However, our punishment shall be that which a father inflicts. But they shall be compelled to suffer severer punishment. I deeply commiserate the poor people who are so wretchedly deceived." He continued to utter his complaints thus for a long time, and it affected him very much. His friends also read other letters to him, of more cheering character. Thus the conversation was[Pg 353] turned into a different channel, he thought of several friends and acquaintances, and even uttered a few words in jest. His friends conversed with him until about eight o'clock, and entertained the best hopes in regard to his condition. Before retiring to rest, he ate a few preserved cherries, and drank a little wine, to strengthen himself for sleep.

It was his last night, for the 19th of April was the day of his death. His sleep was very much disturbed. At two o'clock at night, he rose in the bed, and said to the physician who was present, that he had slept very little. He had again thought of the word of Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He thought of the misery and troubles of the Church with great sorrow; and his complaints were finally changed into fervent prayers for the whole Christian Church. He spoke with his son-in-law until about three o'clock, and was then led into his study. After walking up and down for some time, he laid himself upon his travelling-bed, and fell asleep, breathing very easily. When he awoke about 6 o'clock, he requested his son-in-law to cut off his hair. This was done. He had three clean linen shirts brought to him, which he put on, one over the other, as he had been in the habit of doing for years, in order to keep his body warm. He also placed a clean night-cap upon his head, for he was in the habit of always wearing one at home; and he remarked that he had learned this of the celebrated Dr. Reuchlin. In this manner he adorned himself for his departure. Soon after, the minister of Torgau, together with his chaplain, Fisher, and the physician Kentman, of Torgau, came to pay a visit to the sick man. He conversed with these friends for about half an hour. He said that he did not feel particularly troubled on account of himself, but that he deeply[Pg 354] felt the sad condition of the Church; for men were exciting wanton and useless controversies, dividing the Church, and darkening the truth of the pure doctrine by violence. But that he also had the consolation to know, that by the grace of God, the true doctrine is rightly explained in our churches; and thus concluded: "If I die, I shall escape coming misfortunes, and shall be torn away from this unhappy, sophistical, and strange year of nature."

He began to pray with tears, and to commend the Church to the Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When the three friends were about to depart, he invited them to dinner. They accepted the invitation; but one of them received word that his daughter was taken ill. They then came to bid him farewell; and the invalid exhorted them to pray for the churches and schools, and said: "I know very well that you do so. The Almighty God be with you!" This was at 7 o'clock, and he was exceedingly weak.

In the meantime his pastor, several deacons, professors, and other persons came in. Eight o'clock was the hour when the fever was expected; his strength decreased perceptibly, and at last he fainted. His friends restored him, and he slept quietly for a little while. When he awoke, he began to repeat his customary prayer. He spoke with a very feeble voice, yet every word could be heard. He prayed: "O Almighty, Eternal, living and true God, Creator of heaven, and earth, and men, together with thy co-eternal Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us and raised from the dead, and thy living, pure, and true holy Spirit; thou wise, good, faithful, gracious and just God; thou voluntary, pure, and faithful Saviour, who givest life and law, thou hast said: 'I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that he should return[Pg 355] unto me and live;' and who hast also said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.' I confess myself a poor sinner before thee, who is burdened with many sins; for I have offended against thy holy commandments in many ways, and I mourn from my heart that I have offended thee, and pray thee, for the sake of thy dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was nailed to the cross for our sakes, and was raised again from the dead, that thou wouldst have mercy upon me, forgive me my sins, and justify me by and for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is thy eternal word and image, whom thou didst deliver as a sacrifice, mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, led by thy wonderful and indescribable counsels, and inscrutable wisdom and mercy. And I also pray thee to sanctify me by thy holy, living, pure, and true Spirit, so that I may truly acknowledge, and firmly believe, obey, thank, fear, and invoke thee, behold thy gracious countenance with joy throughout all eternity, and for ever serve thee, the Almighty, true God, Creator of heaven and earth, and men, the everlasting Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also Jesus Christ, thy dear Son, thine eternal word and image, and thy Holy Spirit, the true, pure, and living Comforter. In thee have I hoped, O Lord: let me never be confounded: in thy righteousness deliver me. Make me righteous, and bring me unto eternal life; thou hast redeemed me, O thou God of faithfulness and truth. Keep and rule our churches and government, and this school. Bestow a salutary peace and government upon them. Rule and protect our princes and government; gather and preserve an everlasting Christian Church unto thyself in these lands. Sanctify and unite it by thy Holy Spirit, that it may be one in thee, in the true knowledge and worship of thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by and through him,[Pg 356] thy eternal Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sakes was nailed to the cross, and raised again from the dead. Almighty, eternal Son of God, thou faithful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who art the eternal word and image of the eternal Father, our Mediator and Saviour, crucified for us and raised again, I give thee most hearty thanks that thou didst assume our human nature, and art ordained my Redeemer, that in the flesh thou didst suffer, and arise from the dead, and now intercedest for me, I beseech thee regard and have mercy upon me, for I am lonely and poor; increase the light of faith in me, by thy Holy Spirit, bear with me in my weakness, rule, protect, and sanctify me; in thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded. Almighty, Holy Spirit, true, pure, and living Comforter, illuminate, rule, and sanctify me, strengthen faith in my heart and in my soul, give me true consolation, preserve and rule me, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord, and may be and remain for ever a holy temple of the Lord, and praise God for ever with a joyful spirit in that eternal heavenly Church and Congregation."

Thus he prayed. This prayer must have exhausted him very much, for he leaned back upon his bed, and slumbered for some time. But suddenly he opened his eyes, and said to Peucer: "I have been in the power of death, but the Lord has graciously delivered me." He repeated this several times, and as it could only be explained by supposing that he had passed through some severe internal conflict, Magister John Sturio said to him: "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Melanchthon soon added: "Christ is made to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let him that glorieth, glory in the[Pg 357] Lord." He also frequently repeated the words: "Oh Lord, have mercy upon me!" His pulse was gone, his hands and feet became cold, his breathing short, his eyes, temples, and the pit of his neck fell in, and his strength was failing very rapidly. It was easy to see that the hour of his departure was near. He was asked whether he did not wish to eat something. When he signified his willingness, they made him a soup of Hamburg beer. He ate about three spoonsful, and remarked: "What a very good soup this is!" He did not eat or drink anything more after this, but requested them to raise him up, because he wished to finish his will. But when he found that he was too weak, he said: "Oh God, that I should be seized so unexpectedly." He laid his hands before him, and sat for a little while, and then laid himself down. The heat of the fever was still so strong, that he left his feet uncovered, although they were extremely cold. He was able to turn about in his bed without assistance. About 1 o'clock he fainted again. Being restored by rubbing, he said, "Ah, what are you doing?" While he was thus lying perfectly still, the Pastor thought it proper to read some portions of the Old and New Testaments to him. He, and the two Deacons, Fröshel and Sturio, now alternately read the 24th, 25th, and 26th Psalms, the 53d chapter of Isaiah, the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John, Romans v., and several other chapters and verses of Paul and the prophets. When they were done and silent, the dying man said, in a loud and distinct voice: "I perpetually bear in mind the word of John of the Son of God, my Lord Jesus Christ: The World knew him not;—but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." He then continued to pray silently; his lips were[Pg 358] moving, but no one understood what he was saying. Those professors, whose duty it was to lecture in the afternoon, gave notice of the postponement of their lectures, in which they stated the reason, and called upon the students to unite their prayers with their own. A great excitement arose among the students and citizens, and all were filled with sorrow. All were anxiously awaiting the end.

Within, the dying man was lying in the struggle of death, his eyes half open, and his body very restless. He did not speak, unless a question was put to him, although he was fully conscious. His son-in-law asked him whether he wished to have anything. "Nothing but heaven," he replied, "and therefore do not ask me such questions any more."

About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when his head had slipped from the pillow, and he was lying in an uncomfortable position, they attempted to raise him and alter his position, when he fainted again. He was soon restored. "Ah, what are you doing?" he said, "why do you disturb my sweet repose? let me rest unto the end, for it will not last very long."

As they saw that his end was approaching, several persons united in prayer to God that he would be pleased soon to grant him a blessed dismission. The Pastor began to pray in a very consoling manner, and all in the room fell upon their knees, and united in prayer with him. Those passages of Scripture which he was known to have regarded with peculiar interest, were now repeated, such as, "Let not your heart be troubled;" so also, John 15, 16, 17, also 10: "Whoever loves me, will keep my commandments." "My sheep hear my voice." Also, Rom. viii., "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Several persons, who had not taken any food throughout[Pg 359] the day, now went to table, but soon returned. It was in the evening at 6 o'clock, and the dying man was lying still, when Fröshel arose, and pronounced the benediction upon him: "The Lord bless thee and keep thee! The Lord make his face to shine on thee, and be gracious unto thee! The Lord lift up his countenance on thee, and give thee peace!" Veit Winsheim, Doctor of Medicine, and Professor of Greek, repeated the words of the Psalm to him: "Into thy hands I commend my spirit; O Lord, thou hast delivered me, thou righteous and faithful God!" He asked him whether he heard him? The dying man replied, "Yes!" loud enough to be heard by all. It was his last word upon the earth.

Fröhshel now repeated the Creed, the Lord's prayer, and the words "Lord Jesus Christ, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" he repeated several times. When he repeated them for the third time, Melanchthon moved his lips as if he was praying. More than twenty persons were gazing upon the dying man. Without the slightest motion, this worthy man gently fell asleep in the evening, at 7 o'clock, in the very same hour in which he first beheld the light of this world, 63 years and 63 days before. In the midst of prayer he celebrated his return home, as the old account says, "to his beloved Lord Jesus Christ, whom he always praised with his heart and mouth. With him he no doubt now enjoys everlasting happiness and glory, together with all the elect. May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, help us all to enjoy the same, and may he grant us all a happy end, and joyous dismission, whenever it shall please him to call us away. Amen."

Winsheim, who delivered his funeral oration, said: "Failing gradually, he ceased to breathe almost without[Pg 360] feeling death, and lay like one who is asleep; his face was not distorted, and his features were not changed, as is generally the case with the dead." When the beloved teacher had thus closed his eyes, the tidings of this event spread rapidly through the city. The students, greatly distressed, came to the house in great numbers. It was very easy to see how much they had loved him. The University soon informed the Elector of this sad event. The body was laid out in the study during the same evening. On the morning of the 20th of April, the artist, Lucas Kranach, painted his portrait. All were anxious to behold the beloved body, and permission was given to all during that and the following day.

No one looked upon the beloved countenance, without tears. Some touched his head; others took his hand, and pressed it. Many kissed him, with many tears. The citizens brought their children to look upon him, so that they might be able to say, in future times, what kind of man he was. His body was placed in a leaden coffin, and this again in one of wood, and with other papers, the following was also placed in it: "In this coffin, Philip Melanchthon was buried, who was a professor of the Holy Scriptures, and the good arts, for 42 years. He was an excellent, learned, pleasant, sensible, sincere, pious, and holy man; patient and benevolent towards the poor, the most faithful and diligent assistant of the sainted and revered Doctor Martin Luther, in explaining and establishing the pure doctrine of the divine word, which had been darkened by the fraud of the Roman Popes, the juggling of the monks, and a great number of abuses. He also prepared the Augsburg Confession, which was delivered to the Emperor Charles V., in 1530, after the purification[Pg 361] and exposition of the true doctrine had begun in 1517, and a change had also taken place in these churches. And he continued to defend the truth of the heavenly doctrine for 30 years, upon public diets, and privately, as is proved by his writings, which have been published to the world." After this follows a short account of the events of his life, from his birth to his death.

The funeral took place on the 21st of April. Joachim Camerarius, and Dr. Morch, of Leipzig, arrived at nine o'clock in the morning. His great grief would not suffer him to look upon the body of his beloved friend once more. The procession set out in the afternoon. The students came first, and were followed by the body, borne by the professors of philosophy, who were dressed in long black funeral robes. After them came the relatives, the other professors, the city council, strange noblemen and others, students and citizens. The coffin was first taken to the parish church, where it was set down before the altar, on the very spot where Melanchthon had been in the habit of kneeling when priests were ordained. A psalm and several other hymns, were sung here. The Pastor, Paul Eber, then mounted the pulpit, and preached the funeral sermon, from the words in 1 Thess. iv. From the parish Church, the procession moved towards the Electoral Church. There the body was deposited by the side of Luther's grave. Veit Winsheim mounted a pulpit which had been erected near it, and delivered an excellent and moving Latin address. He closed it in the following words: "He has left us, and all his, the churches of these dominions, and the University, in a painful state of anxiety. At the very time when we are tossed about by the ocean-storms, we have lost our pilot, at the very time when we need him[Pg 362] most, and could spare him less than ever before. But it is not difficult to understand what God means by taking such men from the world, in order that they may not see the coming distresses. I do not wish to be a prophet of misfortunes; but let us cultivate repentance and patience, so that we may either escape from the wrath of God, or that we may be able to bear his paternal chastisement, if it be necessary. For the death of such men should incite us to piety, to repentance, and more fervent prayer; and also to preserve the inheritance left us by these two men, Luther and Melanchthon; namely, the pure doctrines of truth, with the greatest prudence, diligence, and fidelity. For this is not the time for security and sleep, but for watchfulness. We have all seen what came to pass after Luther's death; let every one reflect for himself, what things are to be expected now." After this, the body was deposited in its resting-place, by the side of Luther. The whole community assisted at these funeral solemnities. There was such a concourse of persons of every condition and age, that Wittenberg had never seen one to exceed it. All were deeply moved, and many tears were shed.[28]

[Pg 363]A small plate of metal, in the floor, still marks Melanchthon's resting-place, while another on the wall presents his portrait, and eulogizes the great and ever to be remembered reformer and teacher, not only of Germany, but of entire evangelical Christendom.

The Wittenberg account closes with the following prayer, with which we, too, shall end our narrative:

"And we hereby earnestly and heartily beseech God, that he will be pleased to gather and preserve an everlasting Christian Church among us, and in these lands, and the entire human race, through his dear Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and that he will also preserve us against factions and schisms, and grant us courage and[Pg 364] strength to oppose them confidently and successfully. And as human strength and wisdom are too weak to accomplish this, we beseech the Eternal Son of God, that he would abundantly pour out his Holy Spirit by his word, in our hearts and those of all believers, so that we may obtain knowledge and wisdom, and be ruled and guided in all things, in order that his holy Divine name may be praised and glorified by us and the whole Christian Church, here in this world, and forever in the world to come. Amen."




[1] This learned scholar, known to the learned by the name of Capnio, was a native of Pforzheim, and successively a teacher of languages at Basle and at Orleans. He was the restorer of letters in Germany, and the author of several treatises on Philosophy.

[2] He wrote a humorous piece in the form of a comedy, which he dedicated to Reuchlin, to show the sense he entertained of his truly parental kindness, and engaged his schoolfellows to perform it in his presence. It was upon this occasion that he gave him the name of Melanchthon.

[3] His proficiency in the Greek was so remarkable, that even at this early age he composed Rudiments of the language, which were afterwards published.

[4] Erasmus also wrote to Oecolampadius, "Of Melanchthon I have already the highest opinion, and cherish the most magnificent hopes: so much so, that I am persuaded Christ designs this youth to excel us all: he will totally eclipse Erasmus!" In a letter to Julius Pflug, he says: "He not only excels in learning and eloquence, but by a certain fatality is a general favorite. Honest and candid men are fond of him, and even his adversaries cannot hate him!"

[5] It may be mentioned here, that John Agricola, of Eisleben, who was engaged on the Lutheran side, afterwards became an opponent of the Reformation; and John Poliander, the amanuensis of Eck, attached himself to Luther at the close of the disputation, and afterwards preached the Gospel in Prussia.—Seckendorf. Hist. Luther, Book I., page 230.

[6] This term applied to the faculty of Theology at Paris. The College of the University in which they assembled was called the house of the Sorbonne, which was first erected and endowed in the year 1250, by a wealthy favorite of St. Louis, whose name was Robert de Sorbonne. This Theological faculty enjoyed the highest repute at that time.

[7] Karlstadt was heard to say, that "he wished to be as great a man and as much thought of as Luther;" for which he was properly reproved by Melanchthon, who reminded him, "that such language could only proceed from a spirit of emulation, envy, and pride."—Seckendorf.

[8] Luther's principal assistants in this work were Philip Melanchthon, Caspar Cruciger, Justus Jonas, John Bugenhagen, or Pomeranus, and Matthew Aurogallus;—the corrector of the press was George Rorarius.—Seckendorf.

We are also told in Adams, that Bugenhagen constantly kept the anniversary of the day on which this work was finished, with a select party of friends at his own house. This social meeting was called "The festival of the translation of the Scriptures."

[9] Henry von Zütphen preached the gospel in Ditmars, a county of Holstein. He was seized by the enraged priests, and after having been beaten and stabbed, and covered with more than twenty wounds, was cast into the fire. He suffered martyrdom with most heroic calmness. Luther published the history of this martyr.—Seckendorf.

[10] Melanchthon addressed the following apologetic letter to Camerarius: "As some unfounded reports will probably reach you, respecting the marriage of Luther, I think it proper to inform you of the true state of the case, and to give my opinion. On the 13th of June, Luther, to our great surprise, and without saying a word to his friends, married Catharine de Bora, and only invited Pomeranus, Lucca the painter, and Apellus the lawyer, to supper in the evening, celebrating the espousals in the customary manner. Some perhaps may be astonished that he should have married at this unfavorable juncture of public affairs, so deeply afflictive to every good man, and thus appear to be unaffected and careless about the distressing events which have occurred amongst us; even though his own reputation suffers at a moment when Germany most requires his talents and influence. This, however, is my view of the subject: Luther is a man who has nothing of the unsocial misanthropist about him; but you know his habits, and I need say no more on this head. Surely it is no wonderful thing that his great and benevolent soul should be influenced by the gentle affections, especially as there is nothing reprehensible or criminal in it. He is in fact by nature fitted for the married state; and it is pronounced honorable in the sacred Scriptures. I saw that his change of situation produced some degree of perturbation and gloom of mind, and I have done my utmost to cheer him; for I cannot condemn him as having committed a fault, or fallen into sin, though I grant God has recorded many sins which some of his ancient saints committed, in order that we might be stimulated to repose our confidence, not in men, however dignified and distinguished, but in his word alone. I have in possession the most decisive evidences of his piety and love to God, so that the malicious reproaches heaped upon Luther are nothing else than the inventions of scurrilous sycophants, who want employment for a slanderous tongue, &c. &c.—Mel. Epistles. Cox.

[11] In Germany, the higher schools, intended to give immediate preparation for the universities, are termed gymnasia.—Brande.

[12] Melanchthon discloses a secret to Camerarius: "I am applied to from Bohemia to desert the Reformed cause, and promised any remuneration from King Ferdinand. Indeed, my defection is publicly reported as a fact, because in the little book written for the Reformed Churches, I have shown an increased degree of moderation; and yet you perceive I have really inserted nothing different from what Luther constantly affirms. But because I have employed no asperity of language, these very acute men judge that I necessarily differ from Luther.—Mel. Epist. Cox.

[13] The first who thus acquired the honorable appellation of Protestants, were John, Elector of Saxony, George, Elector of Brandenburg, Ernest and Francis, Dukes of Luneburg, Philip, Landgrave of Hesse, and Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt. They were seconded by thirteen or fourteen imperial cities.

[14] During a conversation at this time, his mother mentioned the manner in which she was accustomed to attend to her devotions, and the form she generally used, which was free from the prevailing superstitions. "But what," said she, "am I to believe amidst so many different opinions of the present day?" "Go on," replied Melanchthon, "believe and pray as you now do, and have done before, and do not disturb yourself about the disputes and controversies of the time."—Adam. in Cox.

[15] The election of Ferdinand as King of Rome, was regarded as an artful proceeding of his brother, the Emperor, for the purpose of rendering the imperial crown hereditary in his family, and consequently, subversive of the liberties of the empire.—Cox.

[16] Maimbourg relates, that Queen Margaret of Navarre, sister of Francis I., united with other illustrious females attached to the Court, who cherished sentiments favorable to the Reformation, to request that he might be invited for the purpose of consultation on existing disputes in religion. The Queen frequently spoke of him to her brother as a man of exalted piety, profound learning, and singular eloquence.—Cox.

[17] Some Parisians, who had imbibed the principles of Protestantism, indiscreetly posted up hand-bills in several of the public places, and on the gates of the Louvre, containing reflections on the doctrines, rites, and clergy of the Church of Rome. The king, being highly incensed at these proceedings, issued a general order against heretics, and appointed a solemn procession. The holy host was carried through the city, the king walked with his feet bare, and his head uncovered, attended by the queen, the princes of the blood, and all his courtiers. Six Lutherans were publicly condemned by the parliament to be burnt; a decree which was executed with the most shocking barbarity before the procession was finished, and others were sought after with the most eager diligence.—Sleid. Dupin. Belcar. in Cox.

[18] Milichius was a physician, to whom he was particularly attached on account of his professional skill, devoted friendship, and literary taste. He was a native of Freiburg, and for a series of years led a useful and eminent course of public life at Wittenberg.—Cam. Life of Mel. in Cox.

[19] Those who wish to know more of this strange event, which has so often been used as an argument against the Wittenberg Reformers, will find a complete and excellent examination of it in Dr. John Bachman's "Defence of Luther and the Reformation against the charges of John Bellinger, M. D., and others." Page 153.

[20] Melanchthon wrote an enigma upon the names of these persons, playing upon the German words Pflug (plow), Eck (harrow), Groper (digging), &c. As this could not retain its meaning in a translation, we have omitted it from the text.—T.

[21] Eck, during the heat of disputation, made use of some puzzling sophism, at which Melanchthon paused to revolve the statement in his mind, and at length replied: "I will give you an answer to-morrow." "Oh," said his antagonist, "there is no merit or honor in that, if you cannot answer me immediately." To which he replied in these memorable words: "My good Doctor, I am not seeking my own glory in this business, but truth; I say then, God willing, you shall have an answer to-morrow."—(Adam. Lives of Germ. Theolog. Cox.)

[22] Melanchthon's disinterestedness is evident from a letter written in former years by Luther to the Elector. He mentions Melanchthon's hesitation to accept an increase of his salary to the amount of an hundred florins, and his wish to continue his Greek lectures without any remuneration, so that the ordinary stipend might be devoted to augment the revenue of the University. "But," says Luther, "he has sustained the greatest share of academical labor for upwards of twenty years past, and surely he has the greatest right to enjoy in quiet some of the profits. He has been a kind of general servant to the whole institution, and well merits the bounty of your highness. The whole Christian world is his debtor, and, blessed be God, the Popish fraternity are more afraid of him and his scholars, than all the learned besides put together."—Seckendorf. Cox.

[23] Agricola was liberally rewarded by the Emperor and by Ferdinand; and Sidonius obtained the Bishopric of Merseburg. This furnished occasion for a common joke upon them, "that they only defended the Popish chrism and oil as necessary to salvation, that they might come off the better greased themselves."—Sleidan, in Cox.

[24] Their house was crowded with a constant succession of comers and goers, of every age, sex, and condition; some pressing in to receive, and others departing well-stored from this ample repository of kindness and bounty. It formed a part of their domestic regulations, never to refuse an applicant.... Camerarius has stated, that on several occasions when his pecuniary resources have been exhausted, he would contrive to supply the necessitous by privately taking cups, or other vessels appropriated to domestic use, to a trader to sell, even at a very low rate. He received many presents of gold and silver coin. These he would often give to the first person who, from avarice or curiosity, might be induced to ask for them, simply from a disposition to oblige.

[25] Anna was handsome, accomplished, and of a very literary turn. Luther, in one of his letters, calls her "the elegant daughter of Philip."—Cox.

[26] He always estimated time as a most precious possession. It is said of him, that when he made an appointment, he expected not only the day or the hour, but the minute to be fixed, that time might not be squandered away in the vacuity or idleness of suspense.—Cox.

[27] John Bugenhagen, Pomeranus, or Pommer, was one of the most remarkable men of the age, and may be justly ranked with Luther and Melanchthon, with whom he cherished a long and close friendship, and to whom he was in many respects little inferior. Originally he was a schoolmaster at Treptow in Pomerania; and when he first saw the "Babylonish Captivity" by Luther, exclaimed, "The author of this book is the most pestilent heretic that ever infested the Church of Christ." But after examining it more seriously, and with an inquisitive mind, it produced so entire a change of sentiment, that he said, "The whole world is blind, and this man alone sees the truth." When he was chosen to be minister of the great Church at Wittenberg, he not only did not aim at this elevation, but was almost dragged by force out of his obscurity to possess it, and assiduously devoted himself to the duties of this eminent station during thirty-six years. He expired in peace, at the advanced age of seventy-three."—Cox.

[28] His well-known friend and pupil, John Matthesius, wrote an epitaph in verse, which the author says he proposes to lay upon the godly man's grave as a lovely flower. Despairing of being able to give it to the reader in a good translation, we have omitted it in the text, and propose to give it as well as we can in simple prose: "A honey-flower, sprung from black earth (alluding to the name Melanchthon, or Schwartzerd), worthy of the crown of honor and praise, withered by the intense heat, lies at rest here. Many grateful little bees sipped and made honey from it, for the comfort and instruction of Christendom; and therefore many churches and schools are filled with sorrow. This little flower has satisfied many insects and wild birds with its perfume and precious nectar. God has done much good by it in the Church, school, house, and government, and now all its labors and dangers are at an end. Neither caterpillars, bees, horse-flies, wasps, nor nettles, burdock, thistle, or cockle, could destroy this sweet little flower; and it continued to praise God, and to instruct men at all hours. Many a spider crept over it, many poisonous reptiles pierced it; but yet it lives, and slumbers in this shrine, and its work will never be forgotten. God now wipes away its tears, and refreshes it with the dew of heaven. Its little leaves give out a pleasant perfume, and in a short time it will live again. When the bones and skin of faithful teachers shall blossom like the green herb, then its faith, patience, and industry, will receive praise, thanksgiving, and honor. Whosoever, therefore, performs a pilgrimage to this shrine, let him drop a longing tear, and sigh with us from the depths of his heart, for God is pleased with a grateful heart and mouth. Lord Christ, come and show thy glory, which is prepared for this little flower. Help thy church in all her distresses, by thy intercessions, and bloody wounds. Preserve all thy little bees, and the leaves of this little flower, in thine own cypress shrine, for they are the witnesses of thy name. Thy word, and the writings of good men, avail against murder and the poison of Satan, teach, comfort, refresh, and warn every one; but an evil book is the cause of all misery."

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