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Full text of "The history of the Protestant reformation, in Germany and Switzerland : and in England, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, France, and northern Europe : in a series of essays, reviewing D'Aubigné, Menzel, Hallam, Bishop Short, Prescott, Ranké, Fryxell, and others"

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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year I860, by 

In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the United States for the District 

of Kentucky. 

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FIFTEEN years ago I published a Review of D Aubigne* s History 
of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland. The edition 
having been soon exhausted, I was often called on by friends to 
issue a second one; but circumstances beyond my control have 
prevented me from doing so until the present time. During this 
interval several editions of D Aubign^ s work have been published 
in England and the United States, and two new volumes have been 
added, continuing the history of the German and Swiss Reformation, 
and commencing that of England. No notice, however, has been 
taken by the author, so far as I have been able to discover, of the 
facts and reasoning contained in the Review, though the latter was 
republished in Ireland. 

In preparing a second edition, I at first hesitated whether it 
would be worth while to pay any further attention to a writer, who 
is clearly so bitter a partisan, and so wholly unreliable as an 
historian. His pretended history is, in fact, little better than a 
romance. He omits more than half the facts, and either perverts 
or draws on his imagination for the remainder. This may seem a 
strong accusation ; but it is amply borne out by the authorities and 
specifications contained in the Review. Starting out apparently 
with the pre-determination to paint the German Reformers as 
saints, and the Reformation as the work of God, he makes every 
thing bend to his preconceived theory. 



Still, as his work continues to be read, and perhaps believed by 
a considerable number of sincere persons, I have decided to re-issue 
the Review in an amended and considerably enlarged form, in order 
that those who really wish to discover the whole truth in regard .to 
the Reformation may have an opportunity to read some of the facts 
on the other side. But, at the same time, I have thought it better 
to enlarge the plan of the work, and to embrace in it essays on the 
rise and history of the Reformation in all the other principal coun 
tries of Europe. 

This is done in the second volume, in which is furnished a 
summary of the principal facts connected with the rise of the 
Reformation in England, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, 
France, and Northern Europe. These Essays are mostly reviews 
of different Protestant works, and hence the style of the reviewer, 
which had been adopted in the original publication, has been pre 
served throughout both volumes. 

The range of the present publication is thus very wide ; and I 
feel that I have not been able in so brief a compass to do full 
justice to a subject, upon which so many learned volumes have 
been written on both sides. Still I am conscious of having honestly 
endeavored to do whatever I could, to throw light upon a depart 
ment of history so very important in itself and in its practical 
bearings, and so little understood among our separated brethren. 

My principal object has been, to condense within a brief space a 
considerable amount of facts and authorities, which are scattered 
over many works not easily accessible to the mass of readers. 
Seeking to be useful rather than original, I have preferred to let 
others speak whenever their testimony would be likely to prove 
more weighty than my own words or reasoning. I have hence 
generally preferred Protestant to Catholic testimony; and the 
only merit I claim, besides that of an honest and earnest wish to 
promote the cause of truth, is that of some industry in collecting 


and endeavoring to knit together Protestant authorities in regard 
to the character of the Reformation . The testimony of such wit 
nesses is not likely to be undervalued or impeached by those who 
are outside the Catholic Church. 

Prefixed to the first volume will be found an Introductory Essay 
on the religious and moral condition of Europe before the Reforma 
tion ; and to the second, a similar one on England during the centuries 
which preceded the reign of Henry VIII. These general views are 
deemed important for a better understanding and a more correct 
appreciation of the Reformation itself, the champions of which are 
in the habit of justifying it on the ground of alleged abuses and 
corruptions running through many centuries, and deemed incurable 
by any other means than that of total separation from the Old 
Church of our fathers. I have also added at the end of each 
volume notes containing valuable documentary evidence. 

Such as these Essays are, they are presented with honest intent 
to the American public. If I shall succeed in bringing back even 
one honest inquirer from the mazes of error into "the One Fold 
of the One Shepherd," my labor will not have been wholly in vain. 

LOUISVILLE, KY., Easter Monday, 1860. 
















UTILITY of this retrospective view, p. 17 The origin of European Gov 
ernments The Northmen, 18 Rome the Civilizer, 19 Protestant testi 
mony. 20 The Pope and the Emperor Charlemagne, 21 Guelphs and 
Ghibellines Temporal power of the Pope, 24 Three great facts, 25 Free 
dom of the Church, 26 Election of Bishops, 27 Catholic munificence in 
middle ages, 28 The Truce of God, 30 Question of Investitures Horrible 
abuses Gregory VII. and Henry IV., 32 The Controversy settled, 35 
But its germs remain, 36 Modern historic justice, 38 Growth of Mammon- 
ism, 39 Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 40 Boniface VIII. and Philip 
the Fair, 41 Faction and heresy The new Manicheans, 44 The Flagel 
lants, 45 The Great Schism, 46 The Papacy comes out of it unscathed 
Catholic Reformation, 47 Overcoming Scandals, 49 The Hussites, 50 
Preponderance of Good over Evil, 51 The Monasteries Dr. Maitland s tes 
timony, 52 Dr. Robertson convicted of gross misrepresentations Homily 
of St. Eligius, 53 His warning against idolatry and superstition, 56 A 
model mediaeval Homily, 57 St. Bernard and St. Vincent Ferrer, 59 The 
Pragmatic Sanction Its mischievous tendency, 61 Letter of Pope Pius 
II., 62 Preparation for the Reformation Revival of Learning, 63 Art 
of Printing Italy leads the way Testimony of Macaulay, 64 The Human 
ists and Dominicans The Pope and Liberty, 66 Testimony of Laing 
Summing up, 67 Four conclusions reached, 68 What we propose to ex 
amine and prove, 70 





D Aubigne s opinion, p. 71 A reformed key Luther s parents, 72 His 
early training A naughty boy, 73 Convents Being "led to God," and 
"not led to God" He enters the Augustinian convent, 74 Austerities 
A "bread bag" His faith and scruples, 75 His humility and zeal Luther 
a reformer, 76 Grows worse, 77 Becomes reckless, 78 His sincerity 
tested, 79 Saying and unsaying Misgivings, 80 Tortuous windings, 81 
How to spite the Pope, 83 Curious incident, 84 Melancthon and his 
mother Luther s talents and eloquence, 85 His taste His courage and 
fawning, 86 His violence and coarseness, 87 Not excusable by the spirit 
of his age His blasphemies Recrimination Christian compliments, 89 
"Conference with the devil" Which got the better of the argument, 90 
Luther s morality Table-talk, 91 His sermon on marriage, 92 A Vixen 
How to do " mischief to the Pope " A striking contrast Plow to fulfill 
vows His marriage Misgivings Epigrams and satires, 98 Curious in 
cidents in his last sickness, 99 Death-bed confession His death, 100 
The reformed key used Character of the other reformers, 101. 



AMINED, PP 10l> 109 

The question stated D Aubigne s opinion p. 102 Mother and daughter 
Argumentum ad hominem, 103 Jumping at a conclusion, 104 Second 
causes Why Germany was converted, 105 Why Italy and Spain were 
not, 106 Luther and Mohammexi Reasoning; by contraries, 107 Why 
France continued Catholic 108. 




Usual plea Abuses greatly exaggerated, p. 110 Three questions put and 
answered Origin of abuses Free-will unimpaired, 111 Councils to extir 
pate abuses, 112 Church thwarted by princes and the world Controversy 
on Investitures Extent of the evil, 113 Sale of indulgences St. Peter s 
Church, 114 John Tetzel His errors greatly exaggerated, 116 Public 
penance, 117 License to sin Nature of indulgences Tetzel rebuked and 
his conduct disavowed by Kome, 118 Miltitz and Cardinal Cajetan Kind 
ness thrown away Luther in tears, 119 Efforts of Rome Leo X. and 
Adrian VI. Their forbearance censured by Catholic writers, 120 Their 
tardy severity justified by D Aubignc, 121 Luther s real purpose The 
proper remedy, 122 The real issue, 124 Nullification "Curing and cut 
ting a throat," 125 Luther s avowal, 126 Admissions of the confession of 
Augsburg and of Daille, 127 Summing up, 128. 



Saying of Frederick the Great, p. 128 What we mean to prove Testimony 
of Hallam, 129 Doctrines of Luther Justification without works Its 
dreadful consequences avowed, 131 The "slave-will, 133 Man, a beast with 
two riders Dissuasive from celibacy, 134 An easy way to heaven, 135 
D Aubigne s discreet silence Testimony of the Diet of Worms on Luther s 
doctrines, 136 An old lady emancipated Protection of princes, 138 Schle- 
gel s testimony The reformers flatter princes and pander to their vices 
Remarkable avowals of Menzel, 139 The Reformation and state policy, 140 
The princes become bishops A reformed dispensation, 142 Character of 
reformed princes Their cupidity Fed by Luther Protestant restitution, 
143 Open violence and sacrilegious spoliation, 144 The modus operandi 
of the Reformation, 154 Schlegel again, 156 Abuse of the press, 158 
Vituperation and calumny, 159 Policy of Luther s marriage Apostate 
monks, 163 Recapitulation, 164 A distinction, 165 The Reformation "a 
reappearance of Christianity," 166. 




The Reformation in Switzerland more radical than that in Germany 
Yet like it Sows dissensions, 168 Zuingle warlike and superstitious 
Claims precedency over Luther, 169 Black or white, 170 Precursory dis 
turbances, 171 Aldermen deciding on faith How the fortress was en 
trenched Riot and conflagration, 172 Enlightenment Protestant martyrs, 
173 Suppression of the Mass, 174 Solemnity of the reformed worship 
Downright paganism, 175 The Reformation and matrimony, 176 Zuingle s 
marriage and misgivings Romance among nuns, 177 How to get a hus 
band, 178 Perversion of Scripture St. Paul on celibacy, 179 Recapitula 
tion, 180. 



History by Louis De Haller A standard authority, p. 181 Berne the 
centre of operations De Haller s point of view, 182 His character as an 
historian His authorities, 183 Wavering of Berne, 184 Tortuous policy 
How she embraced the reform The bear and the pears, 185 Treach 
erous perjury of Berne Zuinglian council Its decrees, 186 Religious 
liberty crushed Riot and sacrilege, 187 Proceedings of Bernese com 
missioners Downright tyranny, 188 The minister Farel His fiery zeal 
An appalling picture, 189 A parallel, 190 Priests hunted down, 191 
Character of the ministers Avowal of Capito The glorious privilege of 
private judgment, 192 How consistent ! 193 Persecution of brother Prot 
estants Drowning the Anabaptists Reformation in Geneva, 194 Rapid 
summary of horrors The Bernese army of invasion The sword and the 
Bible, 195 Forbearance of Catholics, 196 Affecting incident at Soleure, 
197 The war of Cappell Points of resemblance, 198 An armed apostle 
A prophet quailing before danger, 199 Battle of Cappell Death of 
Zuingle Triumph of Catholic cantons Treaty of peace, 200. 


PP 201220 

Two parallel developments The brave old ship, p. 202 Modern Protest 
antism quite powerless, 203 A "thorough godly reformation" needed 


Qualities for a reformer The three days battle, 204 The puzzle A thing 
doomed, 205 Which gained the victory ? The French revolution, 206 
Ranke and Hallam The rush of waters stayed, 203 Persecution Protest 
ant spice, 209 The Council of TrentRevival of piety, 210 The Jesuits, 
211 Leading causes and practical results Decline of Protestantism, 212 
Apt comparison What stemmed the current ? 213 Thread of Ariadne 
Divine Providence Reaction of Catholicity, 214 Casaubon and Grotius, 215 
Why they were not converted Ancient and modern Puseyism Justus 
Lipsius and Cassander, 216 The inference Splendid passage of Macaulay, 
217 Catholicity and enlightenment The Church indestructible, 219 
General gravitation to Rome The circle and its center, 220. 



PP 221244 

The nature of Religion A golden chain, p, 221 Question stated, 222 
Private judgment Church authority, 223 As many religions as heads 
D Aubigne s theory Its poetic beauty, 224 Fever of logmachy, 226 
"Sons of liberty" The Bible dissected, 227 A hydra-headed monster, 228 
Erasmus "Curing a lame horse" Luther puzzled His plaint, 229 
His inconsistency, 230 Missions and miracles, 231 Zuingle s inconsist 
ency. 232 Strange fanatacism Storck, Miinzer, Karlstadt, and John of 
Leyden, 233 A new deluge, 234 Retorting the argument, 235 Discussion 
at the "Black Boar," 237 Luther and the cobbler, 238 Discussion at 
Marburg, 239 Luther s avowal, 240 Breaking necks Melancthon s 
lament The inference, 241 Protestantism the mother of infidelity, 242 
Picture of modern Protestantism in Germany by Schlegel, 244. 



Two methods of investigation Connection of doctrine and morals, p. 245 
Salutary influence of Catholic doctrines Of confession Objections an- 


swered, 246 Of celibacy, 249 Its manifold advantages Utility of the doc 
trines of satisfaction and indulgences, 250 Of fasting, 251 Of prayers for 
the dead Of communion of saints, 252 Sanctity of marriage Divorces 
253 Influence of Protestant doctrines, 254 Shocking disorders Testi 
mony of Erasmus, 255 Bigamy and polygamy, 256 Mohammedanism 
Practical results, 257 Testimonies of Luther, Bucer, Calvin, and Melanc- 
thon, 258 The reformers testifying on their own work, 259 Dollinger s 
researches, 260 Character of Erasmus, 269 John Reuchlin Present state 
of morals hi Protestant countries, 270. 


pp 274287 

General influence of the Keformation on worship, p. 274 Audin s picture 
of it Luther rebukes violence, 275 But wavers Giving life to a skeleton, 
276 Taking a leap Mutilating the sacraments, 277 New system of Ju 
daism Chasing away the mists Protestant inconsistencies, 278 A dreary 
waste No altars nor sacrifice A land of mourning, 279 Protestant plaints 
And tribute to Catholic worship, 280 A touching anecdote Continual 
prayer, 281 Vandalism rebuked Grandeur of Catholic worship, 282 
Churches always open Protestant worship, 283 The Sabbath day, 284 
Getting up a revival Protestant music and prayer The pew system, 285 
The fashionable religion The two forms of worship compared St. Peter s 
church, 286 The fine arts, 287 



Protestant boastings, p. 288 Theory of D Aubigne Luther finds a Bible, 
289 How absurd ! The " chained Bible Maitland s triumphant refutation, 
290 Seckenorf versus D Aubigne, 292 Menzel s testimony The Catholic 
Church and the Bible The Latin language, 293 Vernacular versions before 
Luther s In Germany, 295 In Italy, 297 In France In Spain, 298 In 
England In Flanders, 299 In Sclavonia In Sweden In Iceland Syriac 
and Armenian versions Summary and inference, 300 Polyglots, 301 Lu 
ther s false assertion, 302 Reading the Bible, 303 Fourth rule of the index 


A religious vertigo remedied More harm than good, 304 Present disci 
pline A common slander Protestant versions, 306 Mutual compliments, 
307 Version of King James, 308 The Douay and Vulgate Bibles, 309 
Private interpretation German rationalism, 311 Its blasphemies 312 
nationalism in Geneva, 314. 



PP 315344 

Stating the question, p. 315 Two aspects Professions, 316 D Aubigne s 
theory, 317 "Combating" ad libitum, 318 Diversities and sects Incon 
sistency, 320 Early Protestant intolerance, 321 The mother and her re 
creant daughter Facts on persecution of each other by early Protestants, 
322 Of Karlstadt Luther the cause of it, 323 Persecution of Anabap 
tists, 325 Synod at Homburg, 326 Luther s letter, 327 Zuingle, 328 
The drowned Jew Calvinistic intolerance Persecution of Catholics, 
330 Diet of Spires, 331 Name of Protestant A stubborn truth, 332 
Strange casuistry Convention at Smalkalde, 333 Testimony of Menzel 
GUJUS REGIO, EJUS RELIGIO, 339 Union of church and state, 340 A bear s 
embrace, 341 Hal lam s testimony, 342 Parallel between Catholic and 
Protestant countries, 343. 



pp 344370 

Boasting, p. 344 Theory of government Political liberty Four things 
guarantied, 345 Pursuit of happiness, 346 The Popes and liberty, 347 
Rights of property, 348 Use made of confiscated church property, 349 
The Attila of the Reformation Par nobile fratrum, 350 Spoliation of 
Catholics Contempt of testamentary dispositions, 351 The jus manuale 
abolished, 352 And restored Disregard of life, 353 And crushing of pop- 


ular liberty The war of the peasants Two charges made good, 354 Griev 
ances of the peasants Drowned in blood Remarkable testimony of Menzel 
355 Luther s agency therein Halting between two extremes Result, 356 
Absolute despotism, 361 Swiss cantons, 362 D Aubigne puzzled, 363 
Liberty, a mountain nymph The old mother of republics, 364 Security 
to character, 365 Recapitulation, 366. 



Character of Calvinism Protestant historians, p. 370 The " Registers," 
371 Audin Calvin s character, 372 His activity His heartlessness, 373 
Luther and Calvin compared, 375 Early liberties of Geneva, 376 The 
"Libertines," 378 Blue laws, 379 Spy system Persecution Death of 
Gruet, 380 Burning of Servetus, 381 Hallam s testimony, 386 Morals 
of Calvin, 388 His zeal His complicated diseases, 389 His last will His 
awful death and mysterious burial, 390 A douceur, 391 The inference, 392. 



Light and darkness Boast of D Aubigne, p. 393 Two sets of barbarians, 
394 Catholic and Protestant art, 395 The "painter of the Reformation" 
Two witnesses against D Aubigne Schlegel Hallam, 396 "Bellowing 
in bad Latin," 399 Testimony of Erasmus, 400 Destruction of monas 
teries, 401 Literary drought Luther s plaint, 402 Awful desolation 
An "iron padlock," 403 Early Protestant schools D Aubigne s omissions 
Burning zeal, 404 Light and flame Zeal for ignorance, 406 Burning 
of libraries Rothman and Omar Disputatious theology, 407 Its practical 
results, 408 Morbid taste, 409 The Stagirite Mutual distrust, 41O 
Case of Galileo, 411 Liberty of the press, 413 Old and new style Relig 
ious wars, 414 Anecdote of Reuchlin, 415 Italy pre-eminent, 416 Plaint 
o Leibnitz Revival of letters, 417 A shallow sophism A parallel, 418 
Great inventions, 420 Literary ages Protestant testimony, 421 Dol- 
linger s testimony of the reformers themselves, 422. 




Definition, p. 428 Eeligion, the basis Reclaiming from barbarism, 430 
British East India possessions, 431 Catholic and Protestant conquests, 435 
Protestant missions Sandwich Islands, 434 The mother of civilization 
The ark amid the deluge, 435 Rome converts the nations, 436 Early 
German civilization Mohammedanism, 438 The Crusades The Popes, 
539 Luther and the Turks, 440 Luther retracts, 441 Religious wars in 
Germany Thirty Years War, 443 General peace, 446 Disturbed by the 
Reformation Comparison between Protestant and Catholic countries, 447. 











UTILITY of this retrospective view The origin of European Governments 
The Northmen Rome the Civilizer Protestant testimony The Pope 
and the Emperor Charlemagne Guelphs and Ghibellines Temporal 
power of the Pope Three great facts Freedom of the Church Election 
of Bishops Catholic munificence in middle ages The Truce of God 
Question of Investitures Horrible abuses Gregory VII. and Henry 
IV.. The Controversy settled But its germs remain Modern historic 
justice Growth of Mammonism Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries 
Boniface VIII. and Philip the Fair Faction and heresy The new Mani- 
cheans The Flagellants The Great Schism The Papacy comes out of 
it unscathed Catholic Reformation Overcoming Scandals The Hussites 
Preponderance of Good over Evil The Monasteries Dr. Maitland s 
testimony Dr. Robertson convicted of gross misrepresentations Homily 
of St. Eligius His warning against idolatry and superstition A model 
mediaeval Homily St. Bernard and St. Vincent Ferrer The Pragmatic 
Sanction Its mischievous tendency Letter of Pope Pius II. Preparation 
for the Reformation Revival of Learning Art of Printing Italy leads 
the way Testimony of Macaulay The Humanists and Dominicans 
The Pope and Liberty Testimony of Laing Summing up Four con 
clusions reached What we propose to examine and prove. 

THE rapidity with which the revolution, called by its friends 
the Reformation, succeeded throughout a considerable portion 
of Europe during the first half of the sixteenth century, can 
scarcely be properly appreciated, or even fully understood, 
without referring to the moral and religious condition of 
Europe during the preceding centuries. Hence we can not 

VOL. I, 2 ( 17 ) 


probably furnish a more suitable introduction to our essays 
on the history of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, 
than by attempting to present to our readers a rapid retro 
spective view of European society during the period usually 
called the middle ages extending from the fifth to the six 
teenth century. Our survey must necessarily be very brief 
and summary, and we shall confine ourselves to those events, 
or groups of facts, which may appear to have had the greatest 
influence on the coming religious revolution. While most of 
our remarks will be general, many of the facts we shall have 
to allege will be specially connected with mediaeval German 
history, and with the repeated and occasionally protracted 
struggles between the German emperors and the Popes. 
"Without taking some such an historical retrospect, we will 
hardly be prepared to understand how the minds of Chris 
tians, especially in Germany, become so suddenly ripe for 
revolt against the time-honored authority of the old Church, 
and particularly against that of the sovereign pontiffs, to whom 
they were so greatly indebted. 

The people who laid the foundations of almost all the modern 
European nations, and who shaped the great dynasties which 
have since resulted, after many vicissitudes, in the present 
settled at least consolidated governments of Europe, were 
mainly the descendants of the Northern hordes, who overran 
Europe in the fifth and following centuries. This is more 
particularly the case in regard to Germany, where the North 
men established, with but slight modifications, their own 
peculiar laws and customs. In France, Italy, and Spain, 
these peculiar Germanic customs were modified, to a greater 
or less extent, by pre-existing laws and usages ; some of which 
were retained when the original population had become amal 
gamated with their conquerors. 

The Northmen, who thus shaped the destiny of modern 
Europe, were originally either downright heathens like the 
Huns or else barbarians, with a slight tincture of Christi 
anity in the form of the Arian heresy like a portion of the 


Goths and Yandals. Little could certainly be expected from 
such men for the benefit of civilization. Their destiny seemed 
to be to destroy, not to build up. They annihilated the old 
pagan civilization, which, under the shadow of the victorious 
Roman eagles, had pervaded the greater portion of Europe ; 
could it be reasonably expected that they would be able to 
build up, amidst its desolate ruins, with which they had 
strewn and cumbered the European soil, a newer and better 
condition of society ? They needed civilizing themselves ; 
how could they hope to be capable of civilizing others ? 

In the deplorable state of wide-spread desolation and social 
anarchy which overspread Europe for two or three centuries, in 
consequence of the successive barbarian invasions and the fall 
of the Roman empire in the West, nothing that was merely 
human could possibly have saved European society from utter 
and irretrievable ruin. All civilization seemed utterly hope 
less, and simply impossible. ISTo merely human philosophy or 
legislation could have brought order out of such chaos, light out 
of such darkness. An element possessing more than earthly 
power and energy was imperatively needed ; and fortunately 
for humanity and civilization, this element was provided by 
the Church of Christ. The Church, and the Church alone, 
saved European society, and thereby rendered all subsequent 
civilization not only possible, but certain. The Church 
founded by the Man-God, built upon a rock, having her 
foundation cemented by His blood, and firmly secured from 
falling away by His infallible promises, was alone able to 
meet the emergency, and to assure the prosperous future of 
European society. 

The fierce barbarians had conquered pagan Rome, and had 
made the environs of its splendid capital a dreary marble 
wilderness, strewn with broken columns and shattered cor 
nices; but they could not conquer the Church, which had 
been established by the Son of the living God. On the con 
trary, the Church conquered them. The victorious Roman 
eagles now lay trailing in the dust, but the Cross the noble 


banner of the Church was still erect and waving victoriously 
amidst the universal ruin and desolation. Nay, more; the 
Cross was carried in triumph from Christian Home to. the 
furthest fastnesses of the North, conquering the conquerors 
of pagan Rome, and thus becoming afterward their own 
cherished banner of victory. From the fifth to the twelfth 
century, an all-conquering and glorious, because bloodless and 
humanizing invasion, rolled from the South to the North, in 
compensation for the all-destroying invasion which had rolled 
from the North to the South. Thus Christian Rome nobly 
avenged the disasters which had overwhelmed the imperial 
city of the Caesars : she repaid evil with good, and scattered 
unutterable blessings among those who had brought ruin to 
her hearth-stone, and her once pagan altars. 

No fact of history is better attested, than that the Catholic 
Church, and the Catholic Church alone, Christianized, human 
ized, and civilized the various European nations, which now 
occupy the first place in civilization, and from which we in 
America are all descended. Intelligent and learned men of 
all shades of religious opinion have freely admitted this fact, 
without the acknowledgment of which, all modern history 
would, in truth, be wholly unintelligible, and would present 
a series of insolvable enigmas. This has been well understood 
and freely acknowledged by such men as Guizot, in France, 
Schlegel, Voigt Hurter, Gorres, Miiller, Dollinger, and a host 
of others in Germany, Hallam, Roscoe, and Maitland, in 
England, and a multitude of other learned historians, who 
have laboriously investigated the subject of mediaeval history, 
and have given to the world, during the last half century, the 
result of their researches. These researches have proved as 
important to the cause of historic truth, as they have been 
honorable to the Church, from whose brow no one can now 
tear the laurel wreath of victory over barbarism, which has 
been placed upon it by the willing hands of her enemies 
themselves. The deliberate verdict of modern history is, that 
the Catholic Church has been the mother of civilization, and 


it cannot be set aside by either self-glorifying ignorance, or 
partisan prejudice. 

The history of the Reformation in Germany, particularly, 
must be viewed in the light of this great fact. No portion of 
Europe, probably, owed a greater debt of gratitude to Rome, 
than Germany. It was Christian Rome which sent to her the 
missionary apostles, who, armed with commissions from the 
Popes, successively converted her people, and who subse 
quently labored with diligent and successful charity and zeal 
to soften their manners, to control their passions, to reform 
their legislation, and to raise them ultimately to that high 
degree of civilization to which they subsequently attained. 
The Germans were indebted to Rome, and chiefly to the 
Roman pontiffs, for all the principal elements of their civili 
zation, and for all that constituted their greatness as a people. 

How all this was lost sight of, or forgotten, at the period 
of the Reformation, and how the benefits of Rome were re 
paid with insults and injury, we shall see in the sequel. Our 
present purpose requires us to dwell more particularly on the 
manner in which the Church grew up and flourished, in vigor 
and holiness, throughout Germany and other European coun 
tries, and on the origin and history of the frequent conflicts 
which arose at different periods of the middle ages, between 
the Roman pontiffs and the different princes of Europe, par 
ticularly the German emperors. 

The relations between the Popes and the German emperors 
were, from an early period, manifold and intimate. The latter 
had been indebted to the former, not only for their title, but 
for the much more extended powers with which this was 
accompanied. In solemnly crowning Charlemagne emperor of 
the Romans, in St. Peter s church, on Christmas day, A. D. 800, 
Pope Leo III. had laid the foundations of the new Christian 
empire in the West, which was to take the place of the old 
pagan empire that had fallen. The very title of the newly- 
created, or newly-confirmed dynasty implied what the facts 
of mediaeval history more fully establish that the Roman 


pontiffs constituted an integral, if not an essential element of 
the new civil organization. It belonged to them not only to 
crown the new emperor, but to recognize and pass judgment 
upon his claim to the throne, whenever there were several 
rival aspirants for the honor. Their advice was sought, and 
their judgment invoked, in almost every great political emer 
gency, often by the emperors themselves, more frequently still 
by the people, whom the tyranny of the latter aggrieved or 
oppressed. Theirs was, in fact, the only voice which could 
make itself heard amidst the clamor of factions and the tur 
moil of society, so common throughout the middle ages a 
stormy period of transition, in which Europe was preparing 
for the more consolidated and stable forms which her govern 
ments have since assumed. 

The original empire of Charlemagne embraced Germany, 
France, and a great portion of Europe. It was colossal in its 
proportions, and it was administered with rare vigor, genius, 
and ability, by its great founder. But genius is not hereditary, 
and his vast empire was divided, after his death, among his 
children and successors, who possessed but a small share of 
his eminent qualities, either of head or of heart. The French 
kings henceforth vied with the German emperors in their aspi 
rations to control the fortunes of continental Europe. But 
the emperors claimed a commanding influence over Italy, 
which they have retained, with some exceptions and vicissi 
tudes, almost down to the present day.* This claim, and the 
disastrous consequences to Italy, which often resulted from its 
exaggerated or undue exercise, constituted the fruitful source 

* The late war in Italy was undertaken, as is well known, with a view 
to break down the preponderating influence of the German emperors in 
Italy. History has its traditions and its logic, as well as philosophy ; and 
Napoleon s war with Francis Joseph of Austria, is but an additional link in 
a long chain of kindred events. Whether Italy or the Papacy will be ulti 
mately benefited by the late peace of Villafranca, remains yet to bo seen. 
The diminution of Austrian influence is, of itself, a blessing, unless overbal 
anced by a worse evil which from present appearances may bo greatly fl . .ix . 


of most of the contests between them and the Popes, who 
were the oldest as well as the best of the Italian sovereigns, 
and, as such, naturally felt a lively interest in all that con 
cerned the welfare of Italy. The Italians, oppressed and 
down-trodden by the German emperors, instinctively turned 
their eyes to the Roman pontiffs, and implored their powerful 
succor against the overwhelming forces brought against them 
by the imperial invaders of their independence and rights. 
They had no other resource left to them in their helplessness ; 
and their earnest appeals were seldom made in vain. 

The Popes were themselves comparatively weak and power- 
less, as temporal sovereigns, but they were strong in the armor 
of God. When moral suasion failed, they hesitated not to 
hurl the thunder-bolt of excommunication at the head of the 
imperial tyrant who dared trample on the sacred rights of his 
people. The Lombard League of the twelfth century, in 
which the Italian cities of the North banded together to 
oppose the encroachments of the imperial tyrant Frederic 
Barbarossa, furnishes one out of many striking illustrations of 
this remark. Pope Alexander III. was unanimously chosen 
as the head of this famous League, which, under his auspices, 
succeeded in expelling the tyrant, and establishing, for a time 
at least, Italian independence. The free cities and the repub 
lics of Northern and Central Italy grew up and flourished 
under the influence of this triumph of patriotism over foreign 
invasion, of Italian freedom over German despotism ; and the 
liberated and grateful Italians named their newly-founded 
city of Alexandria^ after the illustrious and successful cham 
pion of their rights ; while the imperial tyrant was induced 
to expiate his cruelties by taking the cross, and marching as 
a crusader to the holy land. 

But though foiled in this attempt to crush Italian independ 
ence, the German emperors did not give up their claim to 
be the rulers at least the arbiters of Italy. They estab 
lished and maintained for centuries in this beautiful country 
a powerful party, wholly attached to their interests. The 


Ghibellines were imperialists, while the opposing party of the 
Guelphs were the advocates of Italian liberty. The struggles 
of these two parties for the ascendency was the fruitful source 
of troubles and of bloody civil feuds during all the latter 
half of the middle ages. These fratricidal strifes kept alive the 
flames of civil war, and deluged with blood the streets of the 
Italian cities, from the middle of the thirteenth to the middle 
of the fifteenth century. The overshadowing influence and 
the rich patronage of the German emperors, who lavished 
their wealth on the Ghibelline faction, kept alive this detest 
able party, and rendered^ its powerful members most danger 
ous elements of Italian society. It is almost needless to say, 
that the Popes, while endeavoring to soothe the angry passions 
of both parties, generally took sides with the Guelphs, and 
that they did every thing in their power to heal the bloody 
feuds which were so very disastrous to Italian interests. 
But their efforts were not always successful, and they them 
selves were compelled frequently to bend to the storm, and 
to feel in their own persons its desolating influence. They 
were sometimes driven from Rome by the triumphant im 
perialists ; and one cause of their long sojourn at Avignon 
was precisely this, that in consequence of the fearful condition 
to which Central and Northern Italy had been reduced by 
these truculent factions, Rome had become almost wholly 

Whatever opinion may be entertained in reference to the 
origin and merits of the various successive contests which 
were carried on between the German emperors, and occasion 
ally the French kings, on the one side, and the Roman pon 
tiffs on the other, and particularly in regard to the origin and 
grounds of the claim to temporal power set up by several of 
the pontiffs during the period in question, we think that no im 
partial man, who is well versed in the history of those times, 
will be disposed to deny any one of the three following propo 
sitions each one of which could be substantiated by a volume 
of evidence: 


1. That the Popes were drawn into the vortex of tem 
poral affairs and political agitation by the train of circum 
stances already alluded to which originated European 
society, and which rendered it an imperative necessity that 
they should interpose, if they would arrest anarchy and seek 
to save society from utter ruin. 

2. That when thus drawn into the vortex, their influence 
was generally highly beneficial to society, by being thrown 
on the side of virtue struggling against vice, and of popular 
freedom battling against imperial or royal despotism. 

And, 3. That to their interposition mainly do we owe it, 
that the Church was enabled to preserve, to a great extent, 
her own independence and freedom of action, and was thus 
in a position to continue successfully her heavenly mission for 
humanizing and civilizing European society; which without 
this influence would most certainly have relapsed into barbar 
ism even if it had ever been able to emerge from barbarism. 

No other power than that of the Catholic Church, wielded 
by its chief executive the Roman pontiffs could ever 
have checked lawless and overwhelming tyranny, could ever 
have effectually shielded popular rights from oppression, 
could ever have successfully defended female chastity from 
imperial and royal licentiousness, by fully guarantying to all 
the sacred rights, and by defending the duties^ of Christian 
marriage ; could ever, in one word, have arrested the torrent 
of mere brute force, which was sweeping over Europe and 
threatening it with destruction. 

Amidst the din of arms and the clamor of the passions, no 
other voice could be heard than that which came from Rome ; 
and even this voice was not always heeded by those, whose 
headlong passions so blinded them to the promptings of faith 
as to render them not unfrequently deaf to its eloquent ex 
postulations or terrible menaces. If the middle ages were 
pre-eminently ages of faith, they were none the less ages of 
violence and of brute force. But wo to European civiliza 
tion, if there had not existed at the time a great moral and 
VOL. i. 3 


religious power, which was alone respected by the masses of 
the population ; and which, if not always heeded in its warn 
ing, by those against whom its exercise was invoked, still 
made itself generally heard and respected. If right finally 
triumphed over might, and the passions had to yield at length 
in the struggle against reason and religion, we owe the result 
mainly to the beneficial influence of the Papacy. This is as 
certain as any thing else in all history. 

This leads us to another department of the struggles be 
tween the Popes and the temporal princes of Europe, which 
is more nearly connected with our present purpose, and upon 
which we shall be pardoned for dwelling at somewhat greater 
length. We refer to the efforts of the Popes to secure free 
dom to the Church against the aggressions of the temporal 
power, to the various phases of their contests with emperors 
and kings for the attainment of this vital object, and to the 
final results of this great struggle, as developed on the eve of 
the Reformation itself. 

The chief element of this important controversy between 
the spiritual and temporal power was this : that the German 
emperors and some other feudal sovereigns of Europe, often 
sought to enslave the Church, by making her higher clergy 
wholly dependent upon themselves ; and that the Popes, on 
the contrary, sought to insure to the clergy freedom of elec 
tion and freedom of action. In regard to the principle in 
volved, the Popes were manifestly in the right throughout the 
whole contest, while the claim set up by the temporal sove 
reigns was clearly an usurpation, as unfounded in reason, as 
it was mischievous in fact. 

The Church had clearly the right to appoint her own 
bishops and clergy, and to exercise over them such a super 
vision and control, as would render them fully responsible for 
their conduct to her own regularly constituted tribunals. She 
could not exercise this undoubted right, nor hold her own 
ministers to their proper responsibility, if the temporal sove 
reigns had, at the same time, a right to thrust on her such 


spiritual officers as she disapproved of, and could not control. 
How could she properly guard the flock committed to her 
charge, if others, beyond her control, were permitted to 
thrust into its inclosure, as shepherds, "devouring wolves in 
sheep s clothing." The very idea of the Church, together with 
the primary objects for which the Church was established by 
Christ, necessarily carries with it the logical inference, that 
she should be free and independent of the temporal power in 
her own peculiar sphere of action, and especially in the ap 
pointment and control of her own officers or ministers. With 
out this freedom of action, she would be hampered at every 
step, and she would be rendered totally incapable of discharg 
ing her high mission for the conversion of the world, and the 
salvation of mankind. 

Accordingly, we find that, from the very beginning of the 
Church, this liberty was not only claimed, but openly exer 
cised, even in the midst of the most violent persecution from 
pagan, and of occasional opposition from Christian emperors. 
The canons enacted in various early and mediaeval councils, 
and approved by the Popes, fully provided for the mode to be 
adopted in the election of bishops and abbots, as well as the 
rules to be followed in the appointment of pastors of souls, 
and of other inferior ministers. The discipline varied some 
what at different times, and in different countries ; but every 
where and at all times the freedom of the Church in the elec 
tion or appointment of her ministers was strongly claimed 
and triumphantly vindicated, though not without occasional 
violent opposition from the temporal power. 

During the middle ages, the usual method of election for 
bishops and abbots, was that in which the cathedral and mo 
nastic chapters, composed of the higher clergy of the diocese, 
or the most distinguished among the monks, freely convened 
and freely selected the candidate whom they deemed best 
qualified for the vacant place. The Metropolitans, or Arch 
bishops, were authorized to exercise a general supervision over 
the proceedings, while the power of confirming or rejecting the 


successful candidate rested with the sovereign pontiff, who, if 
he approved the choice, issued the necessary commission or 
bulls for the installment into office of the new incumbent. 
This was clearly as it should be ; and had this undoubted 
right of the Church been left untrammeled and unviolated, 
many scandals would have been prevented, and much evil 

The better to understand the motives or pretexts sometimes 
alleged by the temporal sovereigns of Europe, during the 
middle ages, for their claim to appoint men of their own 
choice to the important offices of bishops and abbots, we must 
go back to the period which immediately followed the occu 
pation of Europe by the Northmen the fiftn and following 
centuries. The various barbarous chieftains who parceled 
out Europe among their followers, were in general rude, but 
generous men. On their conversion to Christianity, their 
hearts, and those of their successors, swelled with gratitude 
toward the Church, which had called them from darkness to 
the light of the faith ; and their gratitude was fruitful in good 
works. They munificently endowed the bishoprics, and sub 
sequently the monasteries; they allotted to them large and 
rich domains ; they erected palaces and castles for the bishops, 
and extensive cloisters for the monks of St. Benedict, and for 
other religious orders which sprang up at a later period. 

They did more. Their generosity toward their spiritual 
benefactors seemed exhaustless, and its spirit was communi 
cated by their example and exhortation to the entire mass of 
the population. All classes vied with one another in munifi 
cence toward the Church and toward her ministers. Splen 
did churches, spacious hospitals, and palatial colleges and 
universities sprang up all over Europe. Many of these noble 
edifices still remain, and they are, even at this day, the admi 
ration of the world, which with all its boasted progress could 
scarcely produce any thing to equal, certainly nothing to sur 
pass them in grandeur. In those lands over which the storm 
of the Reformation has swept, many of those splendid struc- 


tures now lie in silent and solemn, but still imposing ruins, 
while others have been sadly diverted from their original des 
tination, and have become the palaces of worldly pride and 
pomp, instead of asylums for the poor of Christ. 

The Church of the middle ages more than repaid all this 
munificent bounty of her children. In return, she bestowed 
upon them her abundant spiritual treasures, and her rich and 
glorious civilization. Her cathedrals, monasteries, and col 
leges were oases in the mediaeval desert, inviting all to be 
refreshed by their perennial verdure, and to slake their thirst 
at the cooling fountains of religion and learning, which were 
there constantly flowing. To the oppressed vassal, fleeing 
from the anger of his all-powerful lord, she opened her peace 
ful sanctuary, where he was safe until the wrath of his ruth 
less persecutor could be mollified by time, or appeased by her 
own mercy-breathing voice of expostulation. To the heart 
sick, and to those weary of the world s turmoil, and panting 
for something higher and more stable, she opened her holy 
cloisters, devoted to study and prayer ; in the sanctuary soli 
tude of which they might find rest and peace, might soar on 
the wings of heavenly contemplation to the throne of God, 
and might find time to pray, to read, and to labor for the en 
lightenment and salvation of others less favored. To the foot 
sore traveler, those monasteries were ever open inns for 
refreshment, where he was sure to meet a cordial welcome, 
and to receive, free of charge, and for the love of God, all 
the sweet offices of Christian hospitality ; while the neighbor 
ing poor might always confidently reckon on them, freely and 
bountifully to supply all their pressing wants. 

To the sick and the afflicted, of every class and condition, 
the Catholic hospitals and asylums of the middle ages were 
easily accessible, and therein they might be sure to find every 
comfort which munificent charity could provide, to solace 
them in their bodily afflictions or mental sorrows. 

Finally for we should never terminate were we to enume 
rate all the benefits bestowed on society by the Church of the 


middle ages what was so beautifully called, the TRUCE OF 
GOD, which the Church proclaimed, accomplished more than 
perhaps any other single influence toward humanizing the 
European populations, by diminishing the frequency and miti 
gating the horrors of those petty civil wars which were so 
characteristic of the period in question. "When, for the love 
of God, and out of reverence for the passion, death, and 
resurrection of Jesus Christ, men, at the call of the Church, 
generally agreed to suspend all warfare during four days in 
each week from Wednesday evening until the ensuing Mon 
day morning, we might naturally expect to find their passions 
cooling down, and charity with a spirit of conciliation and for 
giveness, taking the place of vengeance and bloody civil feuds. 
And such, in effect, was the practical working of the Truce 
of God on European society. 

Happy would it have been for Europe and the world, had 
this merciful and conciliatory spirit of the Church been pro 
perly met and duly appreciated by the princes of the earth. 
The earth would have become a sort of elysium, and the 
development of a sound Christian civilization would have 
been hastened by whole centuries. But unhappily, this was 
not always the case. So it is in all things human, where evil 
is generally found mixed with good, the tares with the good 
wheat. In return for their munificence toward the Church, the 
temporal princes not unfrequently claimed what the Church 
could not bestow, without surrendering her independence, and 
virtually resigning her divine commission to rebuke vice in 
high places, and freely to teach the world unto salvation. 

The feudal system had been introduced into Europe by the 
Northmen, and in her external relations with society the 
Church was necessarily brought, more or less, under its influ 
ence. The bishops and abbots, in virtue of the domains held 
by them, became feudal lords, who, like others similarly situ 
ated, were expected to do homage to their liege lords, or 
suzerains, for their own territory ; and though not compelled, 
or even expected, actually to engage in warfare themselves, 


they were held bound, on the call of their liege lord, to mar- 
shall their retainers under his standard, to espouse his quarrel 
and fight his battles. This incidental connection of the 
Church with the State, while it undoubtedly tended to moder 
ate the fierceness of strife and to humanize the hearts of the 
people, by bringing the influence of the Church to bear directly 
on the turmoil of the camp and the bloody scenes of the battle 
field, was, at the same time, fruitful with danger to the spirit 
of the higher clergy. While thus descending into the arena 
of busy or fierce human passions, though they might hope to 
moderate strife and to prevent or diminish bloodshed, they 
were exposed to the peril of worldly-mindedness and to the 
consequent diminution or loss of the spiritual character so 
essential to their vocation and usefulness. This was the chief 
danger of the connection; its benefits to society we have 
already summarily indicated. 

In proportion as the higher clergy became wealthy and influ 
ential, the great feudal lords, and especially the emperors of 
Germany, sought by every means in their power to win them 
over to their interests, and to make them subservient to their 
worldly purposes. And as they could not hope fully to con 
trol the action of those bishops and abbots, who were worthy 
of their high positions by being thoroughly imbued with the 
ecclesiastical spirit, they sought to thrust their own creatures 
into the principal vacant sees and abbeys. The chief merit 
of the candidate, in their eyes, was his courtly subserviency. 
In carrying out this wicked scheme for enslaving the Church, 
and virtually ruining it by foisting into its high places un 
worthy ministers, they encountered frequent and sturdy oppo 
sition from the bishops and abbots ; but whether these resisted 
the usurpation or not, the Popes were sure to stand forth on 
such occasions as the uncompromising champions of the free 
dom and purity of election, and of the independence of the 
Church. From this source sprang many, if not most of the 
protracted struggles between the Popes and the German 
emperors during the middle ages. 


A prominent phase of this contest is exhibited in the con 
troversy concerning what were called Investitures. By super 
ficial or prejudiced writers this controversy has been regarded 
merely as a puerile dispute about petty rites and ceremonies, 
while the claims of the Popes have been represented by the 
same class of writers as an usurpation on the rights of the 
emperors. By those, on the contrary, who have penetrated 
beyond the surface of history, and have carefully studied the 
facts as interpreted by the spirit of the times, it has been 
justly looked upon as the vital question of the age a ques 
tion of liberty or slavery, of life or death for the Church. 
Having founded and endowed the bishoprics and abbeys, the 
emperors claimed the right, not only of inducting into office 
and duly investing with its insignia the candidate who had 
been regularly and canonically elected by the episcopal or 
monastic Chapter, but, occasionally at least, of setting aside 
the election itself or reducing it to a mere lifeless form and a 
real mockery. This was clearly an usurpation on the time- 
honored and undoubted right of the Church freely to chose 
her own ministers. Its practical effect was, to thrust into the 
high places of the Church unworthy men mere creatures 
and parasites of the court, and thereby to entail a permanent 
scandal on Christendom. 

So far, in fact, was this pretension carried, that some of the 
German emperors claimed the right of investing the new 
incumbent with ring and crozier, the ordinary emblems of 
spiritual jurisdiction ; thereby giving to understand that the 
emperor was the fountain, not only of temporal, but of 
spiritual power ! The evil seems to have reached its culmi 
nating point in the eleventh century, under the impious and 
debauched Henry IY. of Germany, with whom Pope St. 
Gregory VII. carried on his memorable struggle for the free 
dom and rights of the Church. This wicked emperor, ap 
propriately called by his contemporaries the Nero of the 
middle ages, and who probably has no parallel in Christian 
history except his namesake Henry VIII. of England, seems 


to have been the first who brought the controversy on Inves 
titures to a crisis. The abuses to which his usurpation gave 
rise were truly horrible. Had not the stern resolve and iron 
nerve of his papal competitor checked them in time, the 
Church in Germany would, in all human probability, have 
been rendered utterly desolate and been brought to the very 
verge of ruin. Even as it was, the picture drawn of its 
moral condition by contemporary writers is frightful to con 
template. As the matter is so vital in its importance, we 
will be pardoned for alleging a few passages from these 
writers. Says Matthew of Tyre : 

"A custom had long prevailed, especially in the empire (German), that 
on the decease of the prelates of the Church, the ring and pastoral crozier 
were sent to the lord emperor. Afterwards the emperor, selecting one of 
his own familiars or chaplains, and investing him with the insignia, sent him 
to the vacant church, without waiting for the election by the clergy."* 

Ebbo, another contemporary, who lived in the very palace 
of Henry IV. employs similar language: 

"At this time the Church had not a free election; but whenever any one 
of the bishops had entered upon the way of all flesh, immediately the cap 
tains of that city transmitted to the palace his ring and pastoral staff; and 
thus the king or emperor, after consulting his council, selected a suitable 

pastor for the widowed flock."f 

How far the persons thus selected were suitable, the event 

* Inoleverat consuetude, przesertim in imperio, quod deftmgentibus Ecclesiae 
praelatis annulus et virga pastoralis ad dominum imperatorem dirigebantur. 
Unde postmodum unum quemdam de familiaribus et capellanis suis inves- 
tiens ad ecclesiam vacantem dirigebat, ut ibi pastoris fungeretur officio, 
non expectata cleri electione. (Sacri Belli Historia, lib. 1. c. 18. Apud 
Palina, Prselectiones Hist. Eccles., II. 138, Edit. Rome, 1848.) 

f Hoc tempore Ecclesia liberam electionem non habebat ; sed cum quilibet 
antistes viam universae carnis ingressus fuisset, mox Capitanei civitatis 
illius annulum et virgam pastoralem ad palatium trans mittebant, sicque 
regia auctoritas, communicate cum aulicis consilio, orbataa plebi idoneum 
constituebat pastorem. (In vita Othonis Bamberg. Episcopi, I. 1-8 and 9. 
Apud Palma, Ibid.) 


unfortunately proved but too well. The men who were thus 
thrust into the vacant sees were, almost without exception, 
the mere subservient and unscrupulous creatures of the impe 
rial tyrant, ready, on all occasions to flatter his vices, and to 
do his bidding. Under the operation of this iniquitous sys 
tem, simony became prevalent throughout Germany and 
Northern Italy, wherever, in fact, the imperial influence ex 
tended. Bishoprics and benefices of all kinds were unblush- 
ingly bought and sold at the imperial court. The emperor 
often kept the sees long vacant, that he might seize on their 
revenues, which he squandered in shameless debauchery. 
The delay also had the effect of eliciting higher bids from the 
hungry aspirants, who hung about the court, and it thereby 
contributed still further to replenish the imperial coffers. 

This enormous evil could not be long endured by the 
Church. St. Peter Damian and other holy prelates of Italy 
and Germany, inveighed against it with their burning elo 
quence; and Pope St. Gregory YIL, after frequent but vain 
expostulations with the imperial monster, drew forth from the 
armory of the Church the thunder-bolt of excommunication, 
and fearlessly hurled it at his guilty head. He, the dauntless 
"Hercules of the middle ages," was not the man to quail be 
fore tyranny seated in high places, though the latter was 
armed with sufficient physical power to crush him at once to 
the earth. Let us again hear Matthew of Tyre, in reference 
to the bold attitude of the pontiff: 

"Considering that this conduct was opposed to all justice, and that by it 
all ecclesiastical rights were trampled under foot, he admonished the same 
emperor once and again, even to the third time, that he would desist from so 
detestable a presumption ; and when, after having thus sought to warn him 
with salutary counsel, he could not recall him to the path of duty, he bound 
him in the bonds of an excommunication."* 

* Contra omnem fieri honestatem considerans, et jura in eo facto concul- 
cari ecclesiastica perpendens, semel et tertio eundem imperatorem commonuit 
ut a tamdetestabilidesisteretpraesumptione, quern praeceptis salutaribus com- 
monitum, cum revocare non posset, vinculo anathematis innodavit. Ibid. 


The intrepid pontiff did not stop with the mere excommuni 
cation of the emperor : he fulminated the sentence of depriva 
tion against all bishops and abbots who would dare receive 
their office "from the hands of a layman;" and he further 
declared that " such an intruder should by no means be reck 
oned among bishops and abbots, and that no audience should 
be granted to him in the capacity of bishop or abbot." "More 
over," he added, " we interdict to him the grace of St. Peter, 
and the entrance into the Church, until such time as he will 
freely resign the place, which, through ambition and disobe 
dience which is the crime of idolatry he has usurped. . . . 
Moreover, if any one of the emperors, dukes, marquisses, or 
counts shall presume to grant Investiture of a bishopric or 
any other ecclesiastical dignity, let him know that he is bound 
under the same bonds of excommunication."* 

This sentence was confirmed in the fifth and seventh of the 
Roman councils held under Gregory VII. , and likewise in the 
Council of Benevento, held in 10 87. In the great Council of 
Clermont, convened by Pope Urban II. in 1096, to organize 
the first crusade, it was again confirmed, and solemnly pro 
mulgated to all Christendom. 

It is true, that while greatly harassed and under duress, 
Pope Paschal II. allowed to Henry V., the successor of Henry 
IV., the privilege of investing the new incumbent with ring 
and crozier, provided full liberty of election had been pre 
viously secured, and all abuses eliminated; but this indul 
gence was greatly abused by the emperor, who took occasion 
from it to thrust his own creatures into the vacant sees; 

* Insuper ei gratiam Sancti Petri et introitum ecclesise interdicimus, 
quoad usque locum quern sub crimine tarn ambitionis quam inobedientias 

quod est scelus idolatriae coepit, deseruerit Item si quis Imperatorum, 

Ducum, Marchionum, Comitum Investituram episcopatus vel alicuj us Eccle- 
sise dignitatis dare prcesumpserit, ejusdem sententise vinculo se adstrictum 
sciat. (Hugo, Laviniacensis Abbas, in Chronico Verdun, apud Novam Bib- 
lioth, Labboei, Tom. I. Cf.Palma, ibid.) 


and in consequence, Paschal revoked his decree in two coun 
cils, held in the years 1112 and 1116. The whole controversy 
was finally settled in 1122, in the Council of Worms, in which 
Pope Calixtus II. and the Emperor Henry Y. entered into a 
solemn compact or Concordat probably the first Concordat 
of ecclesiastical history in which the emperor wholly gave 
up the claim of investing with ring and crozier, and prom 
ised to guaranty full liberty of election, and also to make 
restitution of the church revenues, which had been usurped ; 
and on the other side, the pontiff permitted the election to 
take place in the presence of the emperor, but "without 
simony or any violence;" with the further stipulation, " that 
if any discord should arise among the parties, the emperor 
should give his assent and aid to the sounder party, in accord 
ance with the counsel and judgment of the metropolitan and 
the provincial bishops ; and the person so chosen should be 
invested with the regalia by the sceptre?* 

The controversy was thus indeed settled, but its roots were 
not wholly removed. These continued to send forth their 
noxious shoots during the following centuries, down to the 
period of the Reformation. The oft-reiterated claim of the 
temporal sovereigns, to interfere, to a greater or less extent, 
with the election to the bishoprics and higher benefices, and 
their too-often successful attempts to thrust unworthy men 
into the high places of the Church, was the monster evil of 
the middle ages. It was the fruitful source of grievous scan 
dals and abuses. How could it be otherwise ? How could the 

* Absque siraonia et aliqua violentia, ut si qua discordia inter paries eraer- 
serit, metropolitani et provincialium consilio et judicio saniori parti assensum 
et auxilium proebeas. Electus autem Regalia per sceptrum a te recipiat, 
etc. Apud Palma, ibid. p. 139-40. 

By the Regalia were understood the feudal rights of lordship acquired by 
being properly inducted into possession of the domain by the liege lord. 
The only suitable way of doing this was considered to be that in which 
the sceptre was employed, and not the crozier and ring, the emblems of spirit 
ual authority. 


Church be free from scandals, when, in spite of all her exer 
tions and protests, in spite of the repeated denunciations uttered 
by her Popes and her councils, bad men were thus violently 
or by covert intrigue, thrust upon her, to administer whole dio 
ceses or provinces of her spiritual domain ? The only wonder is, 
that the evil was not even greater and more wide-spread ; and 
we owe it to the zeal and energy of the Popes that it was not 
so. If the Church was saved from utter ruin, it was, human 
ly-speaking, mainly by and through such men as St. Gregory 
VIL, the Alexanders, and the Innocents, who, from the chair 
of Peter feared not boldly to hurl their anathemas at the 
heads of the ruthless tyrants, who sought for their own vile 
purposes, to degrade and enslave her ministers. It was in this 
noble cause of the independence of the Church against the 
dangerous encroachments of the State, that the lives of many 
among these men of God, who loved God and feared not the 
face of kings, were spent and worn away. This was the true 
secret of many of their protracted struggles with the German 
emperors. As the candid Protestant biographer of St. Greg 
ory VII. Voight freely admits, "the Holy See was the 
only tribunal which could set any limits to imperial despotism, 
as a second defender of humanity."* This is, in fact, the key 
to many portions of mediaeval history, without which the 
secrets of its real spirit cannot be unlocked, nor its leading 
facts be properly understood or fully appreciated. 

The controversy on Investitures was a contest between 
moral principle and brute force, between reason and passion, 
between morals and licentiousness, between religion and 
incipient infidelity. Though sometimes seemingly overcome by 
the fierce storms raised against them, the Popes were really 
the conquerors in the end, even in the midst of their apparent 
defeat. Gregory VII. was driven from Rome by the forces 
of Henry IV., and he died an exile at Salerno, in Southern 
Italy; but the victory of principle and virtue had been 

* Hist Greg. VII., II. 98 ; Abbe Jager s translation. 


already won, his noble soul was wholly unsubdued, and on 
his tomb might have been inscribed the epitaph which subse 
quently marked that of the heroic general of the Knights of 
OF FORTUNE. He bequeathed to his age and to his successors 
in the Papacy a legacy of countless price, in the noble prin 
ciple which had moulded his whole character and governed 
all his actions : that " it is better to be right, than to gain the 
whole world." Gregory embodied this principle in the follow 
ing passage contained in one of his epistles, which deserves 
to be written in letters of gold: "I would rather undergo 
death for your salvation, than obtain the whole world to 
your spiritual ruin. For I fear God, and therefore value but 
little the pride and pleasures of the world."* 

Now mark the justice of modern history. In any event 
or emergency, the Popes are sure to be blamed. If they 
oppose a German emperor, it is nothing but ambition which 
prompts their action. If they strive earnestly against the 
intrusion into episcopal sees of unworthy men, it is all through 
sinister motives, and that they may extend the circle of their 
own power. If the men thus intruded, in spite of their 
sternest opposition, should give public scandal, still the 
Church and the Popes are in the wrong. Why did not 
the Popes prevent it? Why did they allow scandals so 
enormous in the high places of the Church? In all these 
struggles, the Pope would seem to be never right, and the 
emperor never wrong ; or if the case be so glaring that no 
sophistry can resist or even dim the evidence, then the Pope 
is condemned with faint praise, and the emperor is absolved 
with faint censure. Such is, in general, the spirit, and such 
the fairness of what, in modern times, is called history. 
There are some honorable exceptions, indeed, but they rather 
confirm than weaken the rule. A few Protestant historians 
have the boldness to tell the truth without extenuation or 

* Epistolae, VI. I. Apud ^oigt, ut sup. 


partiality, while a far greater number tell it, if at all, timidly 
and by halves, mixing up much chaff of misrepresentation 
with a few grains of truth. 

Roscoe may be said, perhaps, to belong rather to the former 
than to the latter class. He admits, what every one at all 
acquainted with history knows to be the fact, that " the Popes 
may, in general, be considered as superior to the age in which 
they lived."* An American Protestant writer bears the 
following honorable testimony to the civilizing influence of 
t ie Church in the middle ages."f 

" Though seemingly enslaved, the Church was in reality the life of Europe. 
She was the refuge of the distressed, the friend of the slave, the helper of 
the injured, the only hope of learning. To her, chivalry owed its noble 
aspirations ; to her, art and agriculture looked for every improvement. The 
ruler from her learned some rude justice ; the ruled learned faith and obedi 
ence. Let us not cling to the superstition, which teaches that the Church 
has always upheld the cause of tyrants. Through the middle ages she was 
the only friend and advocate of the people, and of the rights of man. To 
her influence was it owing that, through all that strange era, the slaves of 
Europe were better protected by law than are now the free blacks of the 
United States by the national statutes." 

As time rolled on, and European society was gradually 
moulded into form and became consolidated, the dangers 
which threatened the Church, instead of diminishing, seemed 
rather to increase. In proportion as men became richer and 
more attached to the world, the brightness of the faith was 
dimmed in their hearts, and the temporal gained the ascend 
ant over the eternal. What chiefly distinguished the earlier 
portion of the middle ages, down to the close of the Crusades 
at the end of the thirteenth century, was the embodiment into 
the minds, hearts, and actions of the people, of the great 
truth, that the interests of eternity are paramount, and that 
those of time are as nothing in comparison therewith. That 
was the golden age of chivalry and the crusades, of noble 

* Life of Leo X., I. 53., quoted by Fredet. Modern History, 
f In the North American Keview for July, 1845. 


impulses and disinterested deeds. It was followed by the 
age of mammonism, in which money and what money can 
procure were so highly prized as often to be preferred to all 
things else. And this spirit has gone on steadily increasing, 
even unto the present enlightened age. Beginning with the 
fourteenth century, we may trace its gradual development in 
each successive age down to our own, in which material 
interests threaten to absorb all others, and to swallow up 
every thing heavenly. 

A brilliant writer in the Dublin Review thinks that, in 
certain respects, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were 
pre-eminently the ages of darkness. He says : 

"Of course, if darkness is synonymous with ignorance, the ninth and 
tenth may fairly lay claim to the title ; but if we take into the account what 
may be called the moral effects of darkness, namely confusion, perplexity, 
and dismay, the two centuries which immediately preceded the Reformation 
may well rival, if not outdo their predecessors. The night of the tenth 
century was one which came in its right place, and gave promise of the 
dawn. But the epoch of which we speak was an eclipse, a very Egyptian 
darkness, worse than Chaos or Erebus, black as the thick preternatural night 
under cover of which our Lord was crucified. All at once, when the 
mediaeval glory of the Church was at its zenith, a century opens with the 
audacious seizure of Boniface VIII. at Anagni, and closes with the great 
Schism. , . . . 

" Evidently the middle ages are gone or going. Cathedrals were still built, 
and Gregorian chants were sung. We are now in the very zenith of Gothic 
architecture and of Gothic music, but the real glory of mediaeval times is 
gone. That which constituted their real characteristic, that which separates 
them off from modern times was not the outward form, but the inward 
spirit. Every breast in that rude feudal hierarchy, from the king and noble 
down to the franklin and the serf, was animated with the persuasion that 
the Kingdom of Christ was supreme over every thing earthly. This was 
the public opinion of the time, the spirit of the age. But it was fast passing 
away, and the Church had now to rule as best she might over disaffected 
and disloyal subjects, who watched her every step with jealousy and dis 

"Can any thing further be needed to prove that the fourteenth century 
was a time of fearful unsettloment ? The old landmarks were being re 
moved. Poor humanity was losing its simple faith in the eternal lights 


which had hitherto guided it for many hundred years. It had embarked 
on a wide, illimitable ocean, and was beating about with an infinite void 
before it, and no star to guide its way."* 

In all this there is, no doubt, considerable rhetorical flourish 
and no little exaggeration, but there is, withal, much of his 
toric truth. It is certain, that the spirit of the Catholic 
middle ages underwent a great and most important change in 
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; that this period of 
transition was attended with much unsettledness of the popu 
lar mind, and with many storms of popular passion ; and that 
the result of all this ferment was to pave the way for the 
event called the Reformation; which, in fact, was not a 
reformation but a revolution. This was truly "a strange 
period and fruitful in storms ;" " an unfortunate period, when 
a spirit of boldness and violence agitated all classes of society, 
and produced in every direction sanguinary disorders."! We 
may apply to it, in a qualified sense, what the Roman his 
torian says of a certain disastrous period of Roman history : 
" It was fertile in vicissitudes, atrocious in wars, discordant in 
seditions, fierce even in peace." J 

The Roman pontiffs had now to contend, not with the 
German emperors alone, but also with the French kings. 
Young, ardent, and ambitious, Philip the Fair of France, a 
grandson of St. Louis, but totally unlike his sainted ancestor, 
could not brook the just rebuke of his vices and tyranny 
administered by the determined pontiff, Boniface VI1L; who, 
true to the traditions of the Papacy, had sought in vain to 
mediate between him and the kings of England and Aragon, 
with whom he was at war; and who had also justly repri- 

* Dublin Eeview for March, 1858, Article, The German Mystics of the 
Fourteenth Century, a very remarkable production, brilliant and pictur 
esque, but somewhat exaggerated. 

f The Reformers before the Reformation, by Emile be Bonnechose, 1 
vol. 8vo., Harpers, 1844, p. 37. 

\ Opimum casibus, atrox proeliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace 
scevum. Tacitus, Lib. I, o. 2. 
VOL. I.- 


manded him for debasing the currency of France, and for 
overburdening his people and oppressing the Church with 
exorbitant taxation. The fiery monarch sent his emissaries 
to Anagni, where the Pope was then residing; and these, 
true to the spirit, if not to the letter of their instructions, 
heaped insults and outrages on the head of the venerable 
Boniface, and one of them, it is said, went so far as to add 
blows to insults. The aged pontiff, venerable no less for his 
learning and ability than for his virtues, sank under the cruel 
treatment thus inflicted on virtue by brute force, and he died 
soon afterward.* His sainted successor, the blessed Benedict 
XI., while preparing a bull of excommunication against the 
royal assassin, perished himself, probably from the effects of 
poison.f His second successor, Clement V., was a French 
man, arid he took up his abode at Avignon, in France ; where 
he and his successors remained for about seventy years 
until 1378. 

Meantime, while the Popes resided at Avignon, Italy was 
in a ferment. The factions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines 
were raging against each other with redoubled ferocity, and 

* Baron Macaulay, a prejudiced and therefore unexceptionable witness, 
writes as follows in regard to Boniface VIII. and Philip the Fair : "But some 
thing must be attributed to the character and situation of individuals. The 
man who bore the chief part in effecting this revolution was Philip the IV. 
of France, surnamed the Beautiful a despot by position, a despot by 
temperament, stern, implacable, and unscrupulous, equally prepared for 
violence and for chicanery, and surrounded by a devoted band of men of 
the sword and of men of law. The fiercest and most high-minded of the 
Roman pontiffs, while bestowing kingdoms, and citing great princes to his 
judgment- seat, was seized in his palace by armed men, and so foully out 
raged that he died mad with rage and terror. Thus, sang the great 
Florentine poet, was Christ in the person of his vicar, a second time seized 
by ruffians, a second time mocked, a second time drenched with the vinegar 
and the gall. The seat of the Papal court was carried beyond the Alps, 
and the bishops of Rome became dependents of France. Then came the 
Great Schism of the West." Miscellanies, American Edit, p. 404. 

f So thinks the writer in the Dublin Review, sup. cit. 


were making that beautiful land a fearful scene of chaos 
and bloodshed. The Ghibelline chiefs the Yillanis, the 
Castruccis and others seized upon and ruled with a rod of 
iron Milan and the other chief cities of the North ; while the 
central Italian cities were filled with anarchy and bloody 
feuds by the rival factions struggling for and alternately ob 
taining the mastery. The ferocious struggle was relieved by 
the brilliant, but brief and evanescent attempt of " the Last 
of the Tribunes" Rienzi to rear the banner of popular free 
dom in the ancient city of the Csesars. 

In the midst of all this confusion, a new actor appears upon 
the agitated and bloody arena. The Popes at Avignon are 
called upon to contend, not merely with the hydra of faction 
in Italy, but with the hosts of the weak and unprincipled 
Louis of Bavaria, whom the German diet had elected emperor. 
Beading his character aright as the event proved Pope John 
XXIL, availed himself of his time-honored right as the pro 
tector of the "Holy Eoman Empire," and refused to confirm 
the election. Thus the Papacy had scarcely emerged from 
the fiery contest with the French monarch, before it was 
hurried into another, if possible, even more bitter and pro 
tracted struggle with its hereditary adversary, the German 
emperor. Whether this contest was politic or not, or whether 
it could have been avoided without sacrificing principle, and 
especially without sacrificing the interests of Italy over which 
the Popes felt it a sacred duty to watch, we are scarcely able 
at this distance of time to determine. Certain it is, that the 
newly elected emperor, true to the policy of his predecessors, 
sought to subvert Italian independence, and that the leaders 
of the Ghibelline faction, which had always been the most 
deadly foe of Italian peace and liberty, openly took sides with 
him in the contest. 

The pontiff having refused to crown Louis, the latter set 
up an anti-pope to perform this ceremony, which was still 
deemed essential. He marched his army into Italy, where the 
blood-stained Ghibelline leaders gave him a hearty welcome. 


Whithersoever he went, his court and camp became the 
focus in which were concentrated all the elements of disaffec 
tion, discord, and heresy, which were then floating over the 
surface of European society. 

" The intellect of Italy lent its aid to the. sword of Germany. Heretical 
canonists and apostate monks met Louis on his way. Marsilius of Padua 
broached theories such as those which afterward found favor in the eyes of 
Queen Elizabeth and James I. Opinions, which hitherto had only scandal 
ized and agitated the schools and universities, were now backed by the 
swords of German troopers. Jansenist war-cries and appeals to future 
councils, were anticipated in the camp, where Bavarian cavalry mingled 
with the men-at-arms of Milan and Lucca. Excommunicated bishops 
placed on the head of Louis the iron crown of Lombardy in the basilica of 
St. Ambrose ; and in a few months, the whole mingled mass, made up of 
rival ambitions for the moment reconciled, national jealousies of long stand 
ing laid aside, and all sorts of discordant elements welded together by one 
common hatred of the Church, rolled on toward Home."* 

The prestige which surrounded a German emperor, who 
thus, in spite of the Pope, seized on the crown of Italy, 
flaunted his victorious banner in the face of the Papacy, and 
marched triumphant to the eternal city, brought to a head the 
mischievous factions and wild heresies which had hitherto, 
for more than a century, remained scattered, but had lain in 
a great measure hidden, over the different countries of Europe. 
The boiling cauldron of civil commotion and revolution al 
ways brings the dross and the scum to the surface of society. 
The remnants of the old Manichean heretics, whose ranks had 
been broken and scattered by the crusade against the Albi- 
genses, nearly two centuries before, now came forth from their 
lurking places, openly preached their abominable doctrines, 
and unblushingly indulged in their licentious practices. They 
assumed different names in different places, but they were all 
marked with the general characteristics of that semi-pagan 
and ruinous heresy, which Manes had attempted to graft on 
the Christian system, as early as the third century. This de- 

* Dublin Review, Ibid. 


testable heresy had infested different parts of Europe ever 
since the ninth century, traveling generally from East to West. 
Beguards, Paterins, Cathari, Fratricelli, Brethren of the Free 
Spirit, obscure and obscene Mystics of every hue and shade 
from the openly obscene Fratricelli, to the more demure and 
decorous Waldenses all were off-shoots from that impure 
root of Manicheism, which had produced the licentious and 
bloody Albigenses of the twelfth century. 

These restless sectaries overran a great portion of Europe 
in the fourteenth century. Along the banks of the Rhine, 
and in the interior cities of Germany and France, as well as 
in Northern Italy, marching in the train of the camp of Louis 
of Bavaria, they preached their wicked doctrines, and prac 
ticed their wild or obscene fanaticism. They everywhere 
agitated the popular mind, and made it ripe for innovation. 
There was danger that, amidst the fearful commotions of the 
time, wild fanaticism would take the place of sober faith, dan 
gerous mysticism, that of calm and enlightened piety. Says 
the writer, whom we have already quoted more than once : 

"After all this, we are not surprised to find among the Brethren of the 
Free Spirit, as they called themselves, still darker and more shameful errors ; 
and when the Black Death came down with all its horrors upon a popula 
tion already half-crazed with fanaticism, and thrown off their balance by the 
dissensions which raged between the Church and State, then the wild wail 
of the Flagellants was heard over all the hubbub of sounds which mingled 
with the rushing waters of the Rhine. From all the villages around, and 
from scattered homes in sequestered valleys, thousands of men and women 
came in long procession through the streets of Strasburg and Cologne ; friars 
and priests forgot their dignity to join in the motley crowd under the com 
mand of the layman who marshaled the array, while sober citizens, with 
their wives and daughters, laid aside their costly robes, to bare their shoulders 
to the scourge, and chimed in with the melancholy chant which called on all 
to mingle their blood with that of Jesus, to obtain mercy of God."* 

It is almost needless to say, that all these ebullitions of fanati 
cism were almost as transitory as they were violent. Even that 

* Dublin Review, Ibid. 


of the Flagellants, the most excusable of them all, as mingling 
with extravagance a deep faith in the necessity of uniting 
our personal sufferings with the atoning blood of Christ, for 
the expiation of our sins, was openly condemned by the 
Church, on account of its dangerous tendency. The Popes 
and the bishops everywhere set the seal of their condemna 
tion on the doctrines and practices of the more dangerous 
fanatics ; while the persuasive eloquence of the gentle Tauler, 
and the pathetic appeals of the blessed Henry de Suso, grad 
ually calmed down the extravagant enthusiasm or fanaticism 
of the German Mystics along the banks of the Rhine. The 
fearful storm passed away almost as rapidly as it had gathered, 
and the Catholic atmosphere was again comparatively calm, 
if not unclouded. This danger had passed like a thousand 
others before, and the Church still stood in unimpaired vigor. 
Next came the Great Schism of the West, which lasted for 
nearly forty years, at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning 
of the fifteenth century. It was occasioned by the return of 
the Popes from Avignon to Rome in 1378, and it was perpet 
uated by the French cardinals, who were encouraged by the 
French court. As we have elsewhere spoken somewhat at 
length upon this deplorable epoch in Church History,* we 
shall not here dwell upon it, further than to remark on its in 
fluence on the minds of men in preparing them for the startling 
revolution of the sixteenth century.f 

* In the paper on the Great Schism, in the Miscellanea, p. 169, seq. 

f Macaulay speaks as follows of the manner in which the imminent dan 
ger threatened by the Great Schism was averted : 

" The Church, torn by schism, and fiercely assailed at once in England 
and the German empire, was in a situation scarcely less perilous than at the 
crisis which preceded the Albigensian crusade. But this danger also passed 
by. The civil power gave its strenuous support to the Church, and the 
Church made some show of reforming itself. The Council of Constance 
put an end to the schism. The whole Catholic world was again united 
under a single chief, and rules were laid down which seemed to make it im 
probable that the power of that chief would be grossly abused." Miscall. 
Sup. cit. p. 405. 


There is but little doubt that the evils and abuses which then 
afflicted the Church were even greater and more deplorable 
than they became a century later, at the era of the Reforma 
tion. The minds of men were then, if possible, even more un 
settled, in consequence of the long-standing scandal of rival 
claimants to the Papacy contending for the tiara in the face 
of a shocked and startled Christendom. Yet in neither of the 
rival obediences, did Catholic faith waver for a moment. The 
Papacy passed through this fiery ordeal unscathed, and it 
emerged from it, shorn somewhat, indeed, of its temporal con 
sequence, but still as vigorous as ever in its divine strength. 
Nay, more so ; for it was now thrown upon its own innate 
and inherent spirituality, in which lay the real source of ita 
power, and the true secret of its divine vitality. 

The human element of the Papacy was useful in its day ; it 
was even necessary for the saving of society from barbarism 
and anarchy. But new social and political organizations had 
arisen under its fostering auspices, and- its day for mingling 
actively in political events was already passed, or was fast 
passing away. Catholics have, in all ages, accurately distin 
guished between the accidental appendages of the Papacy, 
and its inherent divine character. Even in the Light of the 
Great Schism, not a Catholic voice was raised against the Pa 
pacy itself against its divine institution and vital necessity 
for the Church. The only controversy was a merely personal 
one : which of the rival claimants was fairly entitled to the 
place, or which was the true and lineal successor of St. Peter. 
Thus, in later days, our present illustrious pontiff was, to the 
full, as much respected and as reverently obeyed while an 
exile at Gaeta, as when seated in the Vatican. 

Though there were crying abuses during the continuance 
of the Schism and at its close, and though the good and great 
of the Church cried out " for a reformation in the head and 
in the members," yet no one then appears even to have 
thought of attempting this reformation by a revolution out- 
aide the Church, instead of a reformation within. Sensible 


and considerate men knew full well, that the former was the 
part of true wisdom, while the latter would be sheer madness, 
aggravating a hundred-fold the evil it was intended to heal. 
A sick man is not to be cured by abandoning him to his fate, 
with taunts and denunciation at his wickedness for being sick, 
but by remaining patiently with him, studying his symptoms, 
and applying the necessary remedies. " A sore throat may be 
healed by proper remedies, one that is cut, never," as an old 
writer quaintly remarks. The Church of the fifteenth cen 
tury, with the proceedings of the reforming Council of Con 
stance and that of Basle, even after the latter had degener 
ated into a schismatical conventicle, denouncing the Pope, 
and impiously setting up an anti-pope might have taught 
the reformers of the sixteenth century a lesson of moderation ; 
for amidst all the excitement of the former, and with all the 
excesses of the latter, not a man in either of those ecclesiasti 
cal conventions ever entertained a serious thought of severing 
the unity of the Church, by setting up a reformed communion 
outside its pale. The schism caused by the conventicle at 
Basle was based on no doctrinal difference, and it was soon 
healed by the love of unity which was re-awakened in the 
bosom of the anti-pope himself. The schism of the sixteenth 
century was permanent, and it was based on doctrinal issues 
all wrong in themselves as their transparent contradictions 
and perpetual variations abundantly proved but what is 
more to our present purpose, all the more glaringly wrong, 
because outside of unity, and under the ban of the Church 
built on a rock, and secured from falling by the infallible 
promises of her divine Founder, 

Far from being appalled at the existence of abuses and 
scandals in the Church, or having their faith thereby weak 
ened, enlightened Catholics expect them almost as a matter 
of course ; considering human frailty, and the fact that God 
has made man a free agent, and will not infringe his liberty 
of action. The grace of God is indeed strong, but it may be, 
and often is. resisted. God will compel no one either to ac- 


cept His truth, or to be governed by His commandments. He 
will compel none into heaven against their own free will, or 
without their own co-operation. Christ foretold that scandals 
should come, and we naturally look for them. What would 
have been thought of the disciple of Christ who should have 
abandoned His holy standard, and set up one in opposition, 
because of the scandal resulting, under the very eyes of Christ 
himself, from the treason of Judas? "Would he have been 
viewed as a sound Protestant, or simply as an unreasoning 
madman ? 

To our minds, one of the most persuasive, if not strongest 
evidences that the Catholic Church is in reality the Church 
of Christ " the pillar and ground of the truth" is precisely 
her continued triumph over accumulated scandals and abuses, 
which would have crushed any merely human institution. 
Had not the Church and the Papacy been divine in origin, 
and divine in energy, the torrent of evils which overflowed 
society in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries would have 
overwhelmed the former, and the Great Schism would have 
ruined the latter. That, under such circumstances, with the 
princes of the world so often arrayed against the Church, and 
the masses of the people stirred up everywhere by the storms 
of fanaticism with almost all the elements of society seem 
ingly ripe for revolt, and prepared to rush in determined 
unison to the attack, she should still have conquered, and not 
only conquered, but become even stronger after, and seeming 
ly in consequence of having passed through disasters which 
are so frightful to contemplate, even after the lapse of nearly 
five centuries ; this fact is, to our judgment, one of the most 
palpable and unanswerable arguments for establishing her 
superhuman origin, and her ever-enduring, because divine 
vitality. If the world, and the flesh, and the devil, all com 
bined together, could have conquered her, they would surely 
have done so centuries ago. 

In fact, the wonderful vitality of the Church was never 
perhaps more strikingly exhibited khan it was precisely at the 
VOL. i. 5 


close of the Great Schism, in the first quarter of the fifteenth 
century. Then she put down the mischievous heresy of the 
Hussites, after having in the previous century put down the 
kindred or rather parent heresy of the Wicklifiites or Lollards 
in England. Her triumph in the fourteenth century over the 
numerous fanatical sects, to which we have already alluded, 
though truly wonderful, happening as it did during the con 
tinuance of the Schism or immediately before, was almost as 
nothing compared with her triumph over the truculent Hussite 
system, which, if successful, would have destroyed both 
society and religion in Europe, and throughout the world.* 
For this heresy was based on principles which were utterly 
subversive of all law and of all government ; on principles 
which were not a mere speculation or destined to remain a 
dead letter. This is apparent from the civil wars which the 
Hussites stirred up throughout Bohemia, which covered that 
kingdom with ruins and stained its soil with the blood of its 
citizens, and which threatened to penetrate through Germany 
into Western Europe and to make the whole structure of 
European society a complete w r reck. The fierce and trucu 
lent spirit of this pestilent heresy is embodied in the fearful 
bequest of the Hussite leader, Ziska, who, dying amidst 
bloody civil wars which he and his master had caused, left 
his skin to be used on a war drum, the very sound of which 
might frighten his enemies ! f 

* The most prominent and dangerous principle of the heresies of both 
Wickliffe and Huss was that which declared, that no man who was in the 
state of mortal sin had any right to hold office, to govern, or to require obedi 
ence from others, whether in Church or State. This principle plainly opened 
the door to anarchy, both civil and religious, and it was a direct encourage 
ment and provocative to rebellion against constituted authority; for the 
rebel, whether in Church or State, had but to imagine and denounce his 
rulers as sinners before God a very easy thing and then his rebellion was 
fully justified. 

f We have elsewhere treated this subject at some length, in special essays 
on Huss and the Council of Constance. (Miscellanea.) We think that the 


It is not to be supposed that during all these terrible 
struggles with the powers of the earth and the hosts of dark 
ness, and all these lamentable scandals, the sanctity of the 
Church was impaired. Very far from it. On the contrary, 
perhaps at no period of her history, before or since, has the 
holiness of the Church shone forth with greater lustre. Those 
scandals were but the shadows which served to bring out 
more clearly and prominently the lights in the picture of her 
sanctity. Her heavenly splendor gleamed forth the more 
brilliantly, precisely in consequence of the surrounding dark 
ness. Wo to the world, had that light been extinguished! 
Mankind would have been left in utter and hopeless darkness. 
During the very worst period of her history, while bloody 
commotions and turbulent heresy were threatening her from 
without, and protracted schism was dividing her strength 
from within, she manifested an energy and a holiness of pur 
pose, which baffled her enemies, encouraged her friends, and 
proved to all her heavenly origin and divine power. 

Notwithstanding scandals and defections from her ranks, 
the great body of the clergy and laity remained sound and 
faithful, even during the worst times. The Popes were far 
in advance of their age, and w r ere, in general, men of pure 
lives and upright conduct in their public administration. The 
monasteries, as in previous ages, continued to be the retreat 
of learned and pious men, who, after having become thor 
oughly imbued with the spirit of God in holy solitude and 
contemplation, went forth from their retreats to instruct the 
people and to scatter among them that heavenly fire which 

facts therein developed, fully refute the usual popular charges against the 
Council of Constance and the Catholic Church, and prove how pernicious and 
dangerous were the maxims promulgated by Huss, and sought by him and 
his disciples to be established by force. If Huss and Wickliffe were suitable 
forerunners of the German reformers, the latter certainly do not borrow any 
special lustre from the former. As we shall see, both sets of reformers were 
animated by the same unscrupulous and truculent spirit, anji both succeeded 
in bringing about similar commotions in society. 


was burning in their own hearts. As the candid Protestant, 
Dr. Maitland, well remarks : 

" Monasteries were beyond all price in those days of misrule and turbu 
lence, as places where (it may be imperfectly, but better than elsewhere) God 
was worshiped; as a quiet and religious refuge for helpless infancy and 
old age, a shelter of respectful sympathy for the orphan maiden and the 
desolate widow ; as central points whence agriculture was to spread over 
bleak hills and barren downs and marshy plains, and deal bread to millions 
perishing with hunger and its pestilential train ; as repositories of the learn 
ing ^vhich then was, and well-springs for the learning which was to be ; as 
nurseries of art and science, giving the stimulus, the means, and the reward 
to invention, and aggregating around them every head that could devise and 
every hand that could execute ; as the nucleus of the city, which, in after 
days of pride, should crown its palaces and bulwarks with the crowning 
cross of its cathedral. This, I think, no man can deny. I believe it is true, 
and I love to think of it. I hope that I see the good hand of God in it, and 
the visible trace of His mercy that is above all His works. But if it is only 
a dream, however grateful, I shall be glad to be awakened from it; not 
indeed by the yelling of illiterate agitators, but by a quiet and sober proof 
that I have misunderstood the matter. In the meantime, let me thankfully 
believe that thousands of persons at whom Eobertson and Jortin, and other 
such very miserable second-hand writers have sneered, were men of enlarged 
minds, purified affections, and holy lives that they were justly reverenced 
by men and above all, favorably accepted by God, and distinguished by the 
highest honor which He vouchsafes to those whom He has called into 
existence, that of being the channels of His love and mercy to their fellow- 

In the learned work from which this is a quotation, Dr. 
Maitland, original documents in hand, scatters to the winds 
the injurious statements made by Dr. Robertson in his View 
of Europe introductory to his widely circulated and much 
read history of Charles Y. He convicts the Scotch historian 
of grevious misstatement at almost every step. He shows 

* The Dark Ages. A series of essays intended to illustrate the state of 
religion and literature in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. 
By the Rev. S. R. Maitland, D. D., F. R. S., and F. S. A., sometime librarian to 
the late Archbishp of Canterbury, and keeper of the MSS. at Lambeth. 
Third edition, London, 1853. Preface, iv, v. 


also how Mosheim and McClaine,whom Robertson calls "his 
learned and judicious translator," were also guilty of frequent 
and unpardonable perversion and garbling of their authori 
ties, which they nevertheless professed to quote from the 
original sources. The refutation is ample and it leaves noth 
ing to be desired, so far as it goes. Our limits will not per 
mit us to enter into many specifications ; yet we can not help 
referring to his well-merited castigation of Roberston in refer 
ence to the quotation made by the latter from the well-known 
Homily on the duty of a Christian, by St. Eligius or St. Eloy, 
Bishop of Noyon, in France, in the seventh century. This is 
a pretty fair specimen of the manner in which "such miser 
able second-hand writers" as Robertson and his numerous 
copyists, are wont to deal with the facts of history, whenever 
the Catholic Church is concerned. 

To prove his reckless assertion, that before the Reformation 
the whole duty of a Christian was regarded as being com 
prised in certain merely external observances, which "were 
either so unmeaning as to be altogether unworthy of the 
Being to whose honor they were consecrated, or so observed as 
to be a disgrace to reason and humanity," Dr. Robertson, 
following Mosheim, alleges the Homily of St. Eligius. He 
culls here and there from the homily such extracts as suit his 
purpose, wholly omitting others in the context itself which 
would have clearly proved the precise contrary of his propo 
sition! Mosheim had given the original extract from the 
homily, with marks indicating that passages had been omit 
ted ; while in the version as given by Robertson all such 
indications are carefully removed. "White, in the Brampton 
Lectures ascribed to him, "goes a step further, and prints the 
Latin text without any break or hint of omission ;" while a 
previous writer Jortin had indicated in his translation but 
one out of at least seven such breaks in the text. Now what 
will be thought of Mosheim, Robertson, and all their imita 
tors, when it appears from the original homily itself a large 
portion of which is translated by Dr. Maitland that the 


holy Bishop spoke in it of almost all the duties of man 
toward God and his neighbor, of the solemn promises made 
by every Christian at his baptism, of the necessity of keep 
ing the commandments of God and of the Church, in order 
to be saved, of the obligation of guarding against pride, im 
purity, and the other deadly sins; and in general, of all 
those things which the most enlightened Christian preacher 
of the present day would consider as embraced in the " whole 
duty of a Christian ?" Such being the case, what judgment 
is to be formed of the miserable partisans, like Mosheim and 
his copyists, who, pretending to write history^ pick out 
a sentence here and a phrase there, from a discourse, tears 
them rudely from their connection, omits the most important 
parts, and then winds up with a flourish, that they have con 
victed the mediaeval preacher of confining the wliole duty 
of a Christian to certain merely external observances, to which 
he had only incidentally referred in his homily ? As Dr. 
Maitland proves, the extract furnished does not embrace more 
than about a one-hundredth part of the homily, and it does not 
present two consecutive passages together. 

To show that we do not exaggerate, we will present a some 
what copious extract from the homily itself, which will serve 
the double purpose of convicting Dr. Robertson, Mosheim, 
Jortin, and many other Protestant writers, of the most griev 
ous misrepresentation, and of showing in what the "whole 
duty of a Christian" was deemed to consist in the middle 
ages. The garbled extracts of Dr. Robertson are printed in 

"It is not enough, most dearly beloved, for you to have received the name 
of Christians, if you do not do Christian works. To be called a Christian 
profits him who always retains in his mind, and fulfills in his actions, the 
commands of Christ ; that is, who does not commit theft, does not bear false 
witness, who neither tells lies nor swears falsely, who does not commit adul 
tery, who does not hate any body, but loves all men as himself, who does 
not render evil to his enemies, but rather prays for them, who does not stir 
up strife, but restores peace between those who are at variance. For these 
precepts Christ has deigned to give by his own mouth in the gospel, saying, 


Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt 
not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not swear falsely, 
nor commit fraud ; Honor thy father and thy mother : and, Thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself. (Matt. xix. 18, 19.) And also, All things what 
soever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them : for this is 
the law and the prophets. (Matt. vii. 12.) 

"And he has given yet greater, but very strong and fruitful (valde fortia 
atque fructifera) commands, saying, Love your enemies, do good to them 
that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute 
you. (Matt. v. 44.) Behold, this is a strong commandment, and to men it 
seems a hard one ; but it has a great reward ; hear what it is That ye mav 
be, he saith, the children of your Father which is in heaven. Oh, how great 
a grace ! Of ourselves we are not even worthy servants ; and by loving our 
enemies we become sons of God. Therefore, my brethren, both love your 
friends in God, and your enemies for God ; for he that loveth his neighbor, as 
saith the apostle, hath fulfilled the law. (Rom. xiii. 8.) For he who will be 
a true Christian, must needs keep these commandments ; because if he does 
not keep them, he deceives himself. He, therefore, is a good Christian, who 
puts faith in no charms or diabolical inventions, but places all his hope in 
Christ alone ; who receives strangers with joy, even as if it were Christ 
himself, because he will say I was a stranger, and ye took me in, and in 
asmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me. He, I say, is a good Christian, who washes the feet 
of strangers, and loves them as most dear relations ; who, according to his 
means, gives alms to the poor ; wluo comes frequently to church : wlio presents 
the oblation which is offered to God upon the altar ; who doth not taste of his 
fruits before he has offered somewhat to God ; who has not a false balance or 
deceitful measures ; who hath not given his money to usury ; who both lives 
chastely himself, and teaches his sons and his neighbors to live chastely and 
in the fear of God ; and as often as the holy festivals occur, lives continently 
even with his own wife for some days previously, that he may, with safe con 
science, draw near to the altar of God : finally, who can repeat the Creed or the 
Lord s Prayer, and teaches the same to his sons and servants. He who is 
such an one, is, without doubt, a true Christian, and Christ also dwelleth in 
him, who hath said, I and the Father will come and make our abode with 
him. (John xiv. 23.) And, in like manner, he saith by the prophet, I will 
dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be 
my people. (2 Cor. vi. 16.) 

" Behold, brethren, ye have heard what sort of persons are good Christians ; 
and therefore labor as much as you can, with God s assistance, that the 
Christian name may not be falsely applied to you ; but, in order that you 
may be true Christians, always meditate in your heart, on the commands of 


Christ, and fulfill them in your practice ; redeem your souls from punishment 
while you, have the means in your power; give alms according to your means, 
maintain peace and charity, restore harmony among those who are at strife, 
avoid lying, abhor perjury, bear no false witness, commit no theft, offer obla 
tions and. gifts to churches, provide lights for sacred places according to your 
means, retain in your memory the Creed and the Lord s Prayer, and teach 
them to your sons. Moreover, teach and chastise those children for whom 
you are sponsors, that they may always live with the fear of God. Know 
that you are sponsors for them with God. Come frequently also to church ; 
humbly seek the patronage of the saints ; keep the Lord s day in reverence of 
the resurrection of Christ, without any servile work ; celebrate the festivals 
of the saints with devout feeling ; love your neighbors as yourselves ; what 
you would desire to be done to you by others, that do to others ; what you 
would not have done to you, do to no one ; before all things have charity, for 
charity covereth a multitude of sins ; be hospitable, humble, casting all 
your care upon God, for he careth for you ; visit the sick, seek out the cap 
tives, receive strangers, feed the hungry, clothe the naked ; set at nought 
soothsayers and magicians ; let your weights and measures be fair, your bal 
ance just, your bushel and your pint fair; nor must you claim back more 
than you gave, nor exact from any one usury for money lent. Which, if you 
observe, coming with security before the tribunal of the eternal Judge, in the 
day of judgment, you may say, Give, Lord, for we have given ; show mercy, 
for we have shown mercy ; we have fulfilled what thou hast commanded, 
do thou give what thou hast promised. "* 

* Given by Dr. Maitland, in the work above quoted, p. Ill, seqq., where 
the greater portion of the homily is translated. It will be seen that he em 
ploys the words of the Protestant version in the scriptural quotations. In 
a,nother place, (p. 150,) he furnishes an additional extract from the homily, 
in which the holy bishop warns his people against all superstition and idol 
atry, in the following impressive language : 

"Before all things, however, I declare and testify unto you, that you 
should observe none of the impious customs of the pagans ; neither sorcer 
ers, nor diviners, nor soothsayers, nor enchanters ; nor must you presume 
for any cause, or any sickness, to consult or inquire of them, for he who 
commits this sin immediately loses the sacrament of baptism. In like man 
ner, pay no attention to auguries, and sneezings ; and, when you are on a 
journey, do not mind the singing of certain little birds. But, whether you 
are setting out on a journey, or beginning any other work, cross yourselves 
in the name of Christ, and say the Creed and the Lord s Prayer with faith 
and devotion, and then the enemy can do you no harm. Let no Christian 


While on the subject of mediaeval homilies, we cannot re 
frain from extracting one entire from Dr. Maitland.* It was 
delivered by the Foreman of the Goldsmith, the latter of 
whom had built a splendid monastery, and the former had 
been ordained priest, after having first become a monk. 
The people often visited his solitude to be edified by his vir 
tues, and to profit by the words of simple, but touching elo 
quence which fell from his lips. His homilies on such occa 
sions were short, and to the purpose. The following is the 
one to which we referred above : 

"Brethren, hear what I say, with attention, and sedulously meditate on 
it in your hearts. God the Father, and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
gave His precious blood for us, you must love with all your soul, and with 
all your mind. Keep your hearts clean from wicked and impure thoughts ; 
maintain brotherly love among yourselves ; and love not the things that are 
in the world. Do not think about what you have, but what you are. Do 
you desire to hear what you are ? The prophet tells you, saying, All flesh 
is grass, all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. (Isaiah xl. 6.) 
Consider how short the present life is ; always fearing, have the judgment 
of God before your eyes. While there is opportunity, redeem your sins by 
alms and good works." 

This, for its brevity and comprehensiveness, may be viewed 
as a model sermon. We doubt whether, even at the present 
more enlightened day, any one could say more good things 
better, in so few words, and with so much simplicity and unc 
tion. Probably the best possible vindication of our Catholic 
ancestors is that which is contained in their own words, so far 
as these have been preserved to us, and in such of their works 
as, for instance, their noble cathedrals, hospitals, and monas- 

observe the day on which he leaves, or returns home, for God made all the 
days. Let none regulate the beginning of any piece of work by the day, or 
by the moon. Let none on the calends of January, join in the wicked and 
ridiculous things, the dressing like old women, or like stags, or other fooler 
ies, nor make feasts lasting all night, nor keep up the custom of gifts and 
intemperate drinking." 
* Ibid, p. 93-4. 


teries as time and the Vandalism of the sixteenth century 
have spared to us. Digby and Maitland the former a Cath 
olic and the latter a Protestant have done much to give us 
an adequate idea of their usual trains of thought, and of their 
sometimes rude, but always earnest, simple, and eloquent man 
ner of expressing them. As Dr. Maitland clearly proves, by 
numerous examples, they not only were well acquainted with 
the Holy Scriptures, but their very thoughts were wont to run 
in the channel of scriptural imagery, and their words were 
often little else but a tissue of scriptural quotations.* 

Take them all in all, they will compare most favorably with 
the men of the present day ; and in faith, piety, and love of 
God and their neighbor, as well as in disinterestedness, they 
will certainly bear oif the palm. 

Let it, then, be borne steadily in mind, that the evils and 
scandals to which we have referred above, and which we have 
not sought to conceal or even to palliate, were exceptional ; and 
that even after the original simplicity and fervor of the middle 
ages had greatly diminished, and their disinterested and sim 
ple spirit of faith, as the all-moving and animating principle 
of action, had, in a great measure, passed away along with the 
age of chivalry and the crusades, there still remained in the 
great body of the Church in the laity as well as in the clergy 
the solid foundations of truth and virtue, which found forci 
ble expression in the general popular horror of heresy, and in 
the general detestation of the obscenities of vice so unblush- 
ingly exhibited in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 
Though sorely tried by wild, but fortunately transient here 
sies, and afflicted by grievous scandals during the two centu 
ries immediately preceding the Reformation, the Church was 
still sound, not only in her truth, which could never fail, but 
in the general faith and fervent piety of the great body of her 
clergy and members. 

This was clearly proved by the wonderful effects produced 

* Ibid. p. 187, seqq., and p. 466, seqq. 


all over Europe, during this very period, by the preaching of 
that wonderful man of God St. Vincent Ferrer who came 
forth, like another John the Baptist from the wilderness, to 
preach penance, and to arouse into greater activity the faith 
and piety of the people. "Whithersoever he went, vast multi- 
titudes hung upon his lips ; and the results of his preaching 
were most consoling to the afflicted Church. Such men as he, 
and his illustrious predecessor in the same career, St. Bernard 
of Clairvaux were real reformers according to the true apos 
tolic type; such reformers as the Church has been blessed 
with in all ages, and as she has always delighted to honor. 

Even the unscrupulous D Aubigne, is compelled to do some 
measure of justice to the Catholic Church of the middle ages. 
He makes the following avowal ; which is invaluable, coming 
from so prejudiced a source :* 

" But first let us do honor to the Church of that middle period, which 
intervened between the age of the Apostles and the Reformers. The Church 
was still the Church, although fallen and more and more enslaved. In a 
word, she was at all times the most powerful friend of man. Her hands, 
though manacled, still dispensed blessings. Many eminent servants of Christ 
diffused during these ages a beneficent light ; and in the humble convent 
the sequestered parish there were found poor monks and poor priests to 
alleviate bitter sufferings." 

But if the Church was still enabled, through the divine pro 
tection, to preserve pure the great body of her bishops and 
clergy, it was not surely from any aid which her pontiffs de 
rived for this purpose, from the princes of the world. This 
good result was obtained, not in virtue of the co-operation of 
the latter, but often in spite of their untiring opposition. It 
seemed to have become an almost settled policy of the Ger 
man emperors, and subsequently of the French kings, to throw 
every possible obstacle in the way of the appointment of good, 
disinterested, and zealous bishops. They thwarted the Popes 
at almost every step in the continued and earnest endeavors 
of the latter to secure good pastors to the vacant sees. They 

* Vol. I., p. 40, Edit, of Carter, 1843. 


unscrupulously charged on the Popes the very crime of which 
they were themselves openly guilty an avaricious grasping 
after the goods of the Church. When calumny failed, they 
had recourse to secret fraud and open violence; and they 
were always sure to find aiders and abettors among the higher 
clergy, several of whom their wicked and dangerous policy 
had already partially tainted. 

This unfortunate spirit was strikingly exhibited in the adop 
tion of what was called the Pragmatic Sanction, by the French 
king, Charles VII., in the year 1438, and in the persistent 
efforts made by the French Parliaments and German Diets 
to carry out its mischievous provisions for more than a cen 
tury , and all this in spite of the earnest protests and eloquent 
appeals of the pontiffs. The provisions of this instrument vir 
tually annihilated the primacy of the Pope in France and 
wherever else they were adopted and acted on. While pro 
fessing great reverence for the chair of Peter, and promising 
obedience to the Pope as his successor, the French monarch, 
Charles VII. , more than two centuries in advance of le 
Grand Monarque, Louis XIV., adopted a code of Gallican 
liberties, probably far more mischievous in their tendency 
than those contained in the subsequent Declaration of the 
Gallican clergy in 1682. And like Louis, Charles was backed 
in his war with the Pope, by a large body of the higher 
clergy of France ; who should surely have already seen and 
felt enough of the dangers of court influence, to beware how 
they contributed to increase its patronage. But a species of 
vertigo had seized on many minds in consequence of the late 
schism ; and this feeling of distrust of the Pope found ex 
pression in the schismatical proceedings of the conventicle at 
Basle, which dared continue its sessions after the papal pro 
hibition, in 1433, and even after it had been dissolved, in 
1437, by the undoubted Pope Eugenius IV.* In spite of all 

* Eugenius issued a bull dissolving the Council, and ordering the bishops 
to convene again at Ferrara. 


canonical law, a schismatical remnant of the bishops still con 
tinued to hold their sessions, and even went to the extreme 
length of attempting to depose the Pope, and thereby to origi 
nate another fearful schism. 

The Pragmatic Sanction was nominally abrogated by the 
French king, Louis XI., in 1461 ; but this feeble or diplomatic 
monarch showed little disposition to compel his Parliament to 
repeal their previous enactments in its favor. Thus the evil 
went on almost unchecked for more than fifty years longer ; 
until the Sanction was finally annulled by the General Coun 
cil of Lateran, in a session held in 1515. Its final abrogation 
was fully agreed to by the French king, Francis I., in a con 
ference held in the same year at Bologna, between him and 
Pope Leo X. 

How very mischievous this parliamentary enactment was, 
and how many evils it must have entailed on the Church in 
France, especially in the way of foisting unworthy, or worldly- 
minded and courtly bishops into many of its sees, may be in 
ferred from the fact, that it gave to the French monarch and 
his Parliament almost unlimited control over all such appoint 
ments, and forbade any interference therewith on the part of 
the Pope without their own previous consent. The king and 
his Parliament would be sure to appoint, not the best and the 
most holy men, but such as would be most likely to subserve 
their own worldly views, and to stand by them in their con 
tests with the Pope. The spirit of the Pragmatic Sanction, 
with its manifold evils, extended also to Germany, and, to a 
greater or less extent, throughout all Christendom ; and we 
have not a doubt that it contributed as much perhaps, as any 
other single agency, to prepare the minds of men for the sub 
sequent religious revolution of the sixteenth century. 

To exhibit still more clearly the true spirit and real tendency 
of the Pragmatic Sanction, we will here give an extract from 
a letter written on the subject by the renowned pontiff, Pius 
II., previously well known in the world of letters as 
Sylvius : 


"We ardently desire to see the nation of the Franks holy and without 
blemish ; but this cannot be, unless this stain or wrinkle of the Sanction be 
removed, the manner of the introduction of which you all know. It was 
certainly not received on the authority of a general council, nor by a decree 
of the Roman pontiffs, though no enactment on ecclesiastical matters can 
stand as valid without the consent of the Roman See We do not at 
tach so much importance to the hearing of causes, the bestowal of benefices, 
and many other things which we are thought to value. This it is which fills 
us with anguish, that we witness the perdition and ruin of souls, and that 
the glory of a most noble king is thereby tarnished. For how can it be 
tolerated, that laymen should become the judges of the clergy ? That the 
sheep should hear and decide on the causes of their shepherds ? Is it for 
this that we are a royal and priestly race ? We will not, for the sake of 
your honor, explain how greatly the sacerdatol authority has been impaired 
in France. This is well known by the bishops, who, at the beck of the 
secular power now draw, now sheathe the spiritual sword. But the Roman 
bishop, whose parish is the world, whose ecclesiastical territory is not bound 
ed even by the ocean, has, in the kingdom of France, only so much jurisdic 
tion as the Parliament may be pleased graciously to assign to him ! He is 
not permitted to punish the sacrilegious, the parricide, the heretic, though 
an ecclesiastic, unless with the previous consent of the Parliament, whose 
authority is so great in the opinion of some, as to shut the door against our 
ecclesiastical censures. Thus the Roman pontiff, the judge of judges, is sub 
ject to the judgment of Parliament. If we admit this, we make the Church 
a monster, we introduce a hydra with many heads, and thereby totally ex 
tinguish unity. This is a dangerous matter, venerable brethren, which 
would bring confusion into the whole hierarchy."* 

* Giesler. Text Book of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. Ill, p. 223-4, note. 
This prejudiced Protestant or infidel historian furnishes the original of the 
Letter to the French Bishops, as follows : 

" Cupimus sanctam esse Francorum gentem et omni carere macula : at hoc 
fieri non potest, nisi hasc Sanctionis macula seu ruga deponatur, quaa que- 
modo introducta sit ipsi nostis. Certe non auctoritate generalis synodi nee 
Romanorum decreto pontificum recepta est, quamvis de causis ecclesiasticis 

tractatus absque placito Romanse Sedis stare non possit Non pon- 

deramus causarum auditionem, non beneficiorum collationem, non alia multa 
quse curare putamur. Illud nos angit, quod animarum perditionem ruinam- 
que cernimus, et nobilissimi regis gloriam labefactari. Nam quo pacto tole- 
randum est clericorum judices laicos esse factos ? Pastorum causas ores 
cognoscere ? Siccine regale genus et sacerdotale sumus ? Non explicabimus, 


Though abrogated by Francis I., the spirit and the sting of 
the Pragmatic Sanction still remained. As we shall see here 
after, its spirit strongly influenced or rather infected the 
policy, and contributed to the misfortunes of this brilliant, 
but frivolous French monarch ; it subsequently led, step by 
step, to the bloody civil wars brought upon France by the Hu 
guenots; and finally its evil germs produced the poisonous 
tree of infidelity, which diffused its fatal and upas-like influ 
ence over France in the awful revolution of 1792-3. The 
French monarchs sowed the seeds of Gallicanism first under 
Charles VII. in 1438, and then under Louis XIV. in 1682 
and they reaped the final harvest of anarchy and revolution 
in 1792 ! History has its logic as well as philosophy. 

Besides the spirit of disunion and distrust of the Papacy, 
which had been kept alive for centuries, chiefly by the princes 
of the earth, other agencies also more immediately contributed 
to prepare the way for the Reformation in the sixteenth cen 
tury, and to facilitate its success. The revival of learning, 
and the invention of the art of printing, afforded incidental 
aids to the spread of the new gospel. The former came from 
Italy; the latter from Germany. The active Italian mind 
originated the intellectual movement, the more practical 
German mind seized on it, and scattered its thoughts over 
the earth on the wings of the press. Both the revival of 

honoris causa, quantum diminuta est in Gallia sacerdotalis auctoritas. Epis- 
copi norunt qui pro nutru. sascularis potestatis spiritualem gladium nunc 
exercent, nunc recludunt. Praesul vero Eomanus, cujus parochia orbis est, 
cujus provincia nee oceano clauditur, in regno Franci* tantum jurisdictionis 
habet, quantum placet Parlamento. Non sacrilegum, non paricidam, non 
hEereticum punire permittitur, quamvis ecclesiasticum, nisi Parlamenti con 
sensus adsit, cujus tantam esse auctoritatem nonnulli existimant, ut censuris 
etiam nostris prsecludere aditum possit. Sicjudex judicum Romanus pontifex 
judicio Parlamenti subjectus est. Si hoc admittimus, monstruosam ecclesiam 
facimus, et hydram multorum capitum introducimus, et unitatem prorsus 
extinguimus. Periculosa res haec est, venerabiles fratres, quae hierarchiam 
omnem confunderet." 


letters and the art of printing were of Catholic origin ; they 
were both abused, and treacherously turned, as powerful 
batteries, against the Church. 

That Europe was indebted to Italy for the preservation of 
the ancient learning in the middle ages, and for the revival 
of letters in the fifteenth century ; and that Italy, under the 
auspices of the Popes, was, during all those centuries, very 
far in advance of all other European nations, is freely 
admitted by such prejudiced English writers as Hallam and 
Macaulay. The latter writes as follows on this important 
historical fact; and we feel confident that the length of the 
extract will be pardoned on account of the interest which 
attaches to the subject: 

"During the gloomy and disastrous centuries which followed the down 
fall of the Roman Empire, Italy had preserved, in a far greater degree than 
any other part of Western Europe, the traces of ancient civilization. The 
night which descended upon her, was the night of an Arctic summer : the 
dawn began to reappear before the last reflection of the preceding sunset had 
faded from the horizon. It was in the time of the French Merovingians, and 
of the Saxon Heptarchy, that ignorance and ferocity seemed to have done 
their worst. Yet even then the Neapolitan provinces, recognizing the 
authority of the Eastern Empire, preserved something of Eastern knowledge 
and refinement. Borne, protected by the sacred character of its pontiffs, 
enjoyed at least comparative security and repose. Even in those regions 
where the sanguinary Lombards had fixed their monarchy, there was incom 
parably more of wealth, of information, of physical comfort, and of social 
order, than could be found in Gaul, Brittain, or Germany." 

Under the auspices of the pontiffs, liberty, manufactures, 
and commercial prosperity were inaugurated; for Macaulay 

" Thus liberty, partially, indeed, and transiently revisited Italy ; and with 
liberty came commerce and empire, science and taste, all the comforts and 
all the ornaments of life. The crusades, from which the inhabitants of 
other countries gained nothing but relics and wounds, brought the rising 
commonwealths of the Adriatic and Tyrrhene seas a large increase of 
wealth, dominion, and knowledge. Their moral and their geographical 
position enabled them to profit alike by the barbarism of the West and the 
civilization of the East. Their ships covered every sea. Their factories 


rose on every shore. Their money changers set their tables in every 
city. Manufactures flourished. Banks were established. The operations 
of the commercial machine were facilitated by many useful and beautiful 
inventions. We doubt whether any country of Europe, our own perhaps 
excepted, have at the present time reached so high a point of wealth and 
civilization as some parts of Italy had attained four hundred years ago." . . . 
"Fortunately John Villani has given us an ample and precise account of 
the state of Florence in the earlier part of the fourteenth century. The 
revenue of the republic amounted to three hundred thousand florins, a sum 
which, allowing for the depreciation of the precious metals, was at least 
equivalent to six hundred thousand pounds sterling ; a larger sum than 
England and Ireland, tw r o centuries ago, yielded annually to Elizabeth a 
larger sum than, according to any computation which we have seen, the 
Grand-duke of Tuscany now derives from a territory of much greater 
extent. The manufacture of wool alone employed two hundred factories and 
thirty thousand workmen. The cloth annually produced sold, at an average, 
for twelve hundred thousand florins ; a sum fairly equal, in exchangeable 
value, to two millions and a half of our money. Four hundred thousand florins 
were annually coined. Eighty banks conducted the commercial operations, 
not of Florence only, but of all Europe. The transactions of these establish 
ments were sometimes of a magnitude which may surprise even the con 
temporaries of the Barings and the Rothchilds. Two houses advanced to 
Edward III., of England, upwards of three hundred thousand marks, at a 
time when the mark contained more silver than fifty shillings of the present 
day, and when the value of silver was more than quadruple of what it now 
is. The city and its environs contained a hundred and seventy thousand 
inhabitants. In the various schools about ten thousand children w T ere taught 
to read ; twelve hundred studied arithmetic ; six hundred received a learned 
education. The progress of elegant literature and of the fine arts was pro 
portioned to that of the public prosperity No tongue ever furnished 

more gorgeous and vivid tints to poetry ; nor was it long before a poet 
appeared w r ho knew how to employ them. Early in the fourteenth century 
came forth the Divine Comedy, beyond comparison the greatest work of 
imagination which had appeared since the poems of Homer. The following 
generation produced, indeed, no second Dante ; but it was eminently dis 
tinguished by general intellectual activity. The studv of the Latin writers 
had never been wholly neglected in Italy."* 

The literary sect of the Humanists arose in Italy about the 
middle of the fifteenth century. These new men of letters 

* Miscell. Am. Edit., p. 21 seqq. Review of the Works of Macchiavelli. 
VOL. I. 6 


sought to revive Greek literature, and the Platonian phi 
losophy in opposition to that of Aristotle, which had long 
obtained a firm foothold in the schools. They disparaged all 
barbarisms in style, and they valued a finely turned sentence 
conveying a sneer against the clergy more highly than a 
sound and orthodox sentiment conveyed in the more homely 
language of the school-men. The Dominicans were their 
special aversion, for two principal reasons: first, their theo 
logians were usually more or less barbarous in their Latin ; 
and secondly, they had been appointed censors of books, and, 
in virtue of their office, they were compelled often to condemn 
the works of the Humanists, in spite of their elegant Latinity. 
This last fact has special significance, when we reflect that 
Tetzel, the preacher of the Indulgences in Germany, was a 
Dominican; and that Erasmus, the leader of the German 
Humanists, united with Luther in hurling at the devoted head 
of the Dominicans his polished but envemoned shaft of ridi 
cule and invective. 

The early progress of the German Reformation was also 
facilitated by the over-indulgence, if not negligence of the 
Italian Humanists, who, with their great and munificent 
patron, Leo X., were at first inclined to look upon the contro 
versy between the Augustinian monk Luther, and the Domi 
nican monk Tetzel, as a mere " monkish squabble." Soon, 
indeed, they discovered their mistake ; but it was too late fully 
to check the evil. It was not a merely local or transient 
rebellion against Church authority which was at hand, but a 
mighty revolution, which was to shake Christendom to its 
very centre ; and to endure, with its long and pestilent train 
of evils, with its Babel-like sound and confusion of tongues, 
with its first incipent and then developed infidelity, probably 
to the end of the world ! 

Another weapon which the German reformers wielded with 
terrible effect against the Church, was their impassioned and 
reiterated declaration, that the Primacy of the Pope was sub 
versive of all German liberty. All the contests between the 


German emperors and the Popes during the middle ages were 
brought up again, exaggerated and distorted by passion,before 
the public mind, and the Germans were told that they must 
throw off the yoke of the Pope, if they would preserve their 
ancient franchises. This appeal to national prejudices was as 
successful as the basis on which it rested was wholly unfounded 
in the facts of history. The truth is, that the Germans owed 
almost every thing, their liberties included, to the interposition 
of the Popes checking the usurpations and despotism of their 
emperors. This is apparent from the fact, that they were 
really less free after than they had been before the Refor 
mation. This we hope to prove hereafter. In the mean 
time, we invite attention to the following testimony on this 
subject, furnished by the Scotch Presbyterian writer, Samuel 
Laing, surely an unexceptionable witness. He is speaking 
of the past and present condition of Germany ; in reference 
precisely to the influence exercised by the Papacy on its 
liberty : 

The principle that the civil government, or State, or Church and State 
united, of a country is entitled to regulate its religious belief, has more of 
intellectual thraldom in it than the power of the popish Church ever exer 
cised in the darkest ages ; for it had no civil power joined to its religious 
power. It only worked through the civil power of each country. The 
Church of Eome was an independent, distinct, and often an opposing power 
in every country to the civil power ; A CIRCUMSTANCE IN THE SOCIAL ECONOMY 


CIVILIZATION AND FREEDOM for not being in the state of barbarism and 
slavery of the east, and of every country, ancient and modern, in which the 
civil and religious power have been united in one government. Civil liberty 
is closely connected with religious liberty with the Church being independ 
ent of the State In Germany the seven Catholic sovereigns have 

12,074,700 Catholic subjects, and 2,541,000 Protestant subjects. The 
twenty-nine Protestant sovereigns, including the four free cities, have 
12,113,000 Protestant subjects, and 4,966,000 Catholic. Of these popu 
lations in Germany, those which have their point of spiritual government 
without their States, and independent of them as the Catholics have at 
Rome enjoy certainly more spiritual independence, are less exposed to the 
intermeddling of the hand of civil power with their religious concerns, 


than the Protestant populations, which, since the Reformation, have had 
Church and State united in one government, and in which each autocratic 
sovereign is de facto a home-pope. The Church affairs of Prussia in this 
half century, those of Saxony, Bavaria, and the smaller principalities, such 
as Anhalt Kothen, in all of which the State has assumed and exercised 
power inconsistently with the principles, doctrines, observances, and privi 
leges of the Protestant religion, clearly show that the Protestant church on 
the continent, as a power, has become an administrative body of clerical 
functionaries, acting under the orders of the civil power or State."* 

From the foregoing summary view of the events affecting 
religion in Europe, during the centuries which preceded the 
Reformation, we draw the following conclusions, in the sound 
ness of which we believe that every well-informed and impar 
tial man will be disposed to concur with us : 

1. That the amount and extent of the scandals and abuses 
complained of during this period have been greatly exaggerated ; 
and that the good more than counterbalanced the evil. Evil 
always excites more attention and makes more noise in the 
world than good; and what contemporary writers, even if 
they were otherwise good men, say of abuses, and of the per 
sons to whom they are to be ascribed, will generally be found 
to be highly colored ; especially if the writers, as is often the 
case, have their feelings enlisted as partisans on one side or 
the other. Feeling must be calmed down, excitement must 
pass away, and affairs must fully work themselves out, before 
a correct and reliable judgment can be formed on any series 
of events. 

2. That these abuses and scandals generally originated in 
the world and its princes, not in the Church and its chief 
pastors ; most of them being due to the fact, that bad men 
were thrust into the high places of the Church by worldly 

* Notes of a Traveler on the Social and Political State of France, Prussia, 
Switzerland, Italy, and other parts of Europe, during the present century. 
By Samuel Laing, Esq., author of " A Journal of a Residence in Norway " 
and " A Tour in Sweden." From the second London edition. Philadelphia, 
Gary & Hart, 1846. 1 vol. 8vo. p. 194. 


minded and avaricious princes in spite of the Popes, whose 
settled policy it was to protest with all their might against a 
line of conduct so very ruinous to the best interests of re 
ligion. And such being clearly the case, it is most unjust to 
charge those scandals on the Church or on the pontiffs. If 
the princes of the earth could have ruined the Church, they 
would have done so by their iniquitous and oppressive enact 
ments. That they did not succeed in inflicting on her more 
than occasional and temporary wounds, we owe it to the divine 
vitality of the Church, and to the noble and dauntless oppo 
sition of the Popes. 

3. That there was a lawful and efficacious remedy for all 
such evils, which consisted in removing their obvious cause, 
and giving to the Popes their due power and influence in the 
nomination of bishops, and in the deliberations of general 
ecclesiastical councils, the judgments of which had hitherto 
been always viewed as final : that, in one word, reformation 
within the Church, and not revolution outside of it, was the 
only proper, lawful, and efficacious remedy for existing evils, 
and the one which had always been invoked by the wise and 
the good in all previous ages of Christianity. 

4. Finally, that the fact of Christians having at length felt 
prepared to resort to the desperate and totally wrong remedy 
of revolution, was owing to a train of circumstances which 
had caused faith to wane and grow cold, and which now ap 
pealed more to the passions than to reason, more to human 
considerations than to the principles of divine faith and the 
interests of eternity. 

That the drama was strictly in accordance with its pro 
gramme, and that the Protestant Reformation throughout 
Europe, both in its inception and in its consummation, was 
rather the working out of the three great concupiscences 
referred to by an inspired apostle, than of a sincere and earn 
est love of truth, and of a real desire of reformation, will, 
unless we are greatly mistaken, sufficiently appear from the 
facts contained in the following pages. In regard to Germany 


and Switzerland, we propose, in the first volume, to examine 
the following questions : 

1. Whether the men who brought about the Keformation 
in Germany were such as God could or would have employed 
to do His work ? 

2. "Whether the motives which prompted, and the means 
which were employed to accomplish that revolution, were 
such as God could sanction ? 

3. Whether the Reformation really effected a reform in 
religion and in morals ? 

And 4, whether its influence was beneficial to society, by 
developing the principles of free government, and promoting 
literature and civilization ? 





D Aubigne s opinion A reformed key Luther s parents His early train 
ing A naughty boy Convents Being "led to God," and "not led to 
God" He enters the Augustinian convent Austerities A "bread 
bag" His faith and scruples His humility and zeal Luther a reformer 
Grows worse becomes reckless His sincerity tested Saying and 
unsaying Misgivings Tortuous windings How to spite the Pope 
Curious incident Melancthon and his mother Luther s talents and elo 
quence His taste His courage and fawning His violence and coarse 
ness Not excusable by the spirit of his age His blasphemies Recrim 
ination Christian compliments "Conference with the devil" Which 
got the better of the argument Luther s morality Table-talk His ser 
mon on marriage A Vixen How to do "mischief to the Pope" A 
striking contrast How to fulfill vows His marriage Misgivings Epi 
grams and satires Curious incidents in his last sickness Death-bed 
confession His death The reformed key used Character of the other 

D AUBIGNE compares the reformers to the Apostles;* and 
his favorite theory is, that the Reformation itself was but 
" the reappearance of Christianity ."f Speaking of the life 
and character of Luther, he says "the whole Reformation 
was there."J " The different phases of this work succeeded 
each other in the mind of him who was to be the instrument 
for it, before it was publicly accomplished in the world. The 
knowledge of the Reformation effected in the heart of Luther 

* B. ii, p. 118, vol. i. Our quotations from D Aubigne are from the first 
American edition, in three volumes 12mo, to which two others have been 
since added, to which we may refer hereafter. 

t Pref. iv. I Vol. i, p. 118. 



himself is, in truth, the key to the Keformation of the 

We will abide by this test. We will examine for a brief 
space the external form, and the internal structure the many 
tortuous turnings and intricate wards of this " key" of the 
Protestant Reformation ; and we will be enabled to estimate 
the character of the latter, which, as we hope to show, was 
a " lock on the understanding" from the properties of the for 
mer. Dropping the figure, we will compare the character of 
Luther while he continued a Catholic, during the first thirty- 
four years of his life, with what it subsequently became after 
he had turned reformer, or for the last twenty-nine years of 
his life from 1517 to 1546. If we ascertain that his own 
character underwent a change greatly for the worse during 
the latter period, we will be compelled, by D Aubigne s own 
rule, to admit that the general tendency of the Reformation 
was evil. 

To facilitate the understanding of our remarks, and to 
obviate repetition, we here state that Luther was born at Eis- 
leben, in Saxony, on the 10th of November, 1483 ; that he 
attended successively the schools of Mansfeld, Magdeburg, 
and Eisenach, and completed his education in the university 
of Erfurth ; that he was ordained priest in 1506, turned re 
former in 1517, was married in 1525, and died on the 17th 
of February, 1546, in the sixty-third year of his age. 

While under the influence of the Catholic Church, he was 
probably a moderately good man ; he was certainly a very 
bad one after he left its communion. His parents were poor, 
but they seem to have been pious, especially his mother. 
From an early age, they labored to train him up in senti 
ments of piety, as well as to imbue his mind with the ele 
ments of learning. "As soon as he was old enough to receive 
instruction," says D Aubigne, "his parents endeavored to 
communicate to him the knowledge of God, to train him in 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 118. 


His fear, and to form him to the practice of the Christian 
virtues. They applied the utmost care to his earliest domestic 
education.* He was taught the heads of the catechism, the 
ten commandments, the Apostles creed, the Lord s prayer, 
some hymns, some forms of prayer, a Latin grammar com 
posed in the fourth century by Donatus ; in a word, all that 
was studied in the Latin school of Mansfeld."f In the good 
old Catholic times, then, parents knew their duty to their 
children, and people were not so stupidly ignorant after all ! 

Luther seems to have been a very naughty boy ; for while 
at school in Mansfeld, " his master flogged him fifteen times 
in one day ;" J and, in his after-life, he was wont to complain 
of the cruel treatment he received from his parents. " My 
parents treated me cruelly, so that I became very timid : one 
day, for a mere trifle, my mother whipped me till the blood 
came. They truly thought they were doing right ; but they 
had no discernment of character, which is yet absolutely 
necessary, that we may know when, on whom, and how, pun 
ishment should be inflicted." His parents probably acted 
on the old maxim, " spare the rod and spoil the child ;" and 
if he was subsequently so much spoiled, even with all the 
previous training of the rod, what would he have been with 
out its salutary restraint ? 

Though "it appears that the child was not yet led to 
God,"|| still he evinced a great fund of piety. " But even at 
this early age, the young man of eighteen did not study 
merely with a view of cultivating his understanding ; there 
was within him a serious thoughtfulness, a heart looking up 
wards, which God gives to those whom He designs to make 
His most zealous servants. Luther felt that he depended 
entirely on God, a simple and powerful conviction, which is 
at once a principle of deep humility, and an incentive to 
great undertakings. He fervently invoked the Divine bless- 

* D Aubigne, voL i, p. 122. f Ibid. p. 123. J Ibid. 

5 Luth. Opp. Wittemb. xxii, 1785. || D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 123. 

VOL. I. 7 


ing upon his labors. Every morning he began the day with 
prayer ; then he went to church ; afterwards he commenced 
his studies, and he never lost a moment in the course of the 
day. To pray well, 3 he was wont to say, was the better 
half of study. "* This looked a little like being "led to 

On the 17th of August, 1505, he entered into the Augus- 
tinian convent at Erfurth, being then in the 22d year of his 
age. He was induced to take this important step by a vow 
he had made to consecrate himself entirely to God, in case 
of his deliverance from a terrific storm, by which he was 
overtaken near Erfurth, and in which, according to one 
account,f his friend Alexis was stricken dead by lightning at 
his side. "At length he is with God," says D Aubigne. 
" His soul is safe. He is now to obtain that holiness he so 
ardently desired."J The monasteries were then not so bad 
as Protestants would fain represent them. " They often con 
tained Christian virtues" D Aubigne himself tells us 
"which grew up beneath the shelter of a salutary retire 
ment; and which if they had been brought forth to view, 
would have been the admiration of the world. They who 
possessed these virtues, living only with each other and with 
God, drew no attention from without, and were often unknown 
even to the small convent in which they were inclosed their 
life was known only to God." 

Luther, it would seem, entered the convent with the purest 
motives, and labored in it to overcome himself by mortifica 
tion and self-denial, and to acquire humility and all the 
Christian virtues. "But it was not to gain the credit of 
being a great genius that he entered the cloister ; it was to 
find the aliments of piety to God."|| The monks " imposed 
on him the meanest offices. They perhaps wished to humble 

* Mathesius, 3, apud D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 130. 

f Discredited, perhaps with reason, by D Aubigne (ibid., p. 135, note.) 

t Ibid., p. 136. Ibid., p. 146-7. -jj Ibid., p. 141. 


the doctor of philosophy, and to teach him that his learning 

did not raise him above his brethren The former master of 

arts was obliged to perform the functions of door-keeper, to 
open and shut the gates, to wind up the clock, to sweep the 
church, to clean the rooms. Then, when the poor monk, who 
was at once porter, sexton, and servant of the cloister, had 
finished his work c cum sacco per civitatem with your 
bag through the town ! cried the brothers ; and, loaded with 
his bread-bag, he was obliged to go through the streets of 
Erfurth, begging from house to house, and perhaps at the 
doors of those very persons who had been either his friends 
or his inferiors. But he bore it all. Inclined from his natu 
ral disposition to devote himself heartily to whatever he 
undertook, it was with his whole soul that he had become a 
monk. Besides, could he wish to spare the body ? To regard 
the satisfying of the flesh ? Not thus could he acquire the 
humility, the holiness he had come to seek within the walls 
of a cloister."* 

How strongly does not this spirit of self-denial contrast 
with the gross self-indulgence of his subsequent life, when 
he had thrown off all those wholesome but now anti 
quated restraints! Well does his panegyrist remark, that 
" there was then in Luther little of that which made him in 
after-life the reformer of the church ."f As we shall see, this 
remark is strikingly true. The change which was wrought in 
his own life and conduct, by the principles he subsequently 
broached and carried out in practice, was indeed striking and 
radical, but certainly greatly for the worse. 

He received ordination with fear and trembling at his own 
unworthiness. So great was his awe of the holy sacrament, 
that in a procession at Eisleben, on the feast of Corpus 
Christi, he almost fainted through overpowering reverence 
for Christ truly present.f He was scrupulous to a fault. He 
frequently gave way to fits of despondency and melancholy, 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 139. f Ibid., p. 138. f Ibid., p. 157. 


which were with difficulty removed. As a panacea for his 
troubled mind, an aged monk called his attention to that 
article of the Apostles creed in which we profess to believe 
" in the forgiveness of sins."* The humble confidence in our 
forgiveness through God s mercy, which this article is so well 
calculated to inspire, was afterwards reduced by the reformer 
to an absolute and infallible certainty, that his own sins were 
forgiven. So apt are men to run into extremes, especially 
those who are addicted to scruples! When these are re 
moved as was unhappily the case with Luther they too 
often are exchanged for the opposite extreme of wanton reck 
lessness. This remark may furnish a key to the reformer s 
whole subsequent life. 

His deep humility, we are further informed, caused him to 
shrink from the office of preaching. It was with great diffi 
culty that Staupitz, his superior, could overcome this reluct 
ance. "In vain Staupitz entreated him: No, no, replied 
he, it is no light thing to speak to men in God s stead. " 
" An affecting instance of humility in this great reformer of 
the church,"! adds D Aubigne. He unhappily gave no 
evidence of any such spirit, after he had turned reformer, as 
we shall see presently. Had he always preserved this humble 
and truly Christian spirit, the peace of the Church would in 
all probability never have been disturbed. 

In 1516, but one year before the commencement of the 
Reformation, Staupitz directed him to make the visitation of 
the forty convents belonging to the Augustinian Order in 
Germany.J He discharged this difficult office with singular 
prudence and zeal. He labored to reform abuses, gave 
salutary counsels, and animated the monks to the practice of 
every virtue. A little later, he gave additional evidence of 
Christian humility. Having received a new gown from the 
elector Frederick of Saxony, he thus wrote to Spalatin, the 
elector s secretary: "It would be too fine, if it were not a 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 154. f Ibid., p. 161. | Ibid., p. 191, seqq. 


prince s gift. I am not worthy that any man should think 
of me, much less a prince, and so noble a prince. Those are 
most useful to me who think worst of me. Present my 
thanks to our prince for his favor, but know that I desire 
neither the praises of thyself nor of others : all the praise of 
man is vain, the praise that cometh from God being alone 

During this period of his Catholic life, it would appear 
from the testimony of his eulogist, that he was no less zealous 
and devoted than he was humble. When the plague broke 
out in Wittenburg, in 1516, his friends advised him to fly 
from a malady which swept off whole multitudes. Luther 
answered : " You advise me to flee but whither shall I flee ? 
I hope the world will riot go to pieces, if brother Martin 
should fall. If the plague spreads, I will send the brethren 
away in all directions ; but for my part, I am placed here : obe 
dience does not allow me to leave the spot, until He who called 
me hither, shall call me away."f He did not behave thus 
courageously, when the pest again visited Wittenburg, after 
he had left the Church. When the blessed light of the new 
gospel had broken upon his beclouded spirit, he was not so 
well prepared to meet death in order to succor his suffering 
brethren, but he openly proclaimed the narrow and selfish 
doctrine, that the minister of God fulfilled his duty, if he 
administered the sacrament to his flock four times in the 
year ; and that it was an intolerable burden to be under the 
obligation to do more, especially in time of plague ! J 

Such was Luther before he began the Reformation in 1517. 
How changed, alas ! was he after this period heu ! quantum 
mutatus ab illo! He is no longer the humble monk, the 
scrupulous priest, the fervent Christian, that he was before! 

* LutheriEpistolae,edit.DeWette,i,p.45,46: apudD Aub. vol. i, p. 195. 

f Epist. i, p. 42. 26 Oct. 1516. Apud D Aub. vol. i, p. 194 

I Apud Audin, Life of Luther, American translation, p. 27. He quotes 

Michelet s Memoires de Luther. This is the edition of Audin from which 

we shall usually quote. 


Amidst the storm which he excited, he gradually suffered 
shipwreck of almost every virtue, and became reckless and 
depraved ; the mere creature of impulse, the child of pride, 
the victim of violent and degrading passion. We trust to 
make all this appear from certain and undoubted facts, which 
no one can deny. And the result of our reasoning will be 
the irresistible conclusion, that for him at least, the Reforma 
tion was a down-hill business : and, according to D Aubigne s 
test, that this was its general tendency. 

His own deterioration, and the work of the Reformation 
were both gradual ; and they went hand in hand. He did 
not at first seem to aim at any change in the doctrines and 
institutions of the Catholic Church ; this thought was devel 
oped only afterwards. In the 38th, 67th, and 7lst of his 
famous ninety-five theses published against Tetzel on the 1st 
of ISTov. 1517, he expressly maintained the authority of the 
Pope, and the Catholic doctrine on indulgences. He professed 
only to aim at the correction of abuses. 

It is a mooted question, whether jealousy of the Dominican 
order, which had been intrusted with the preaching of the in 
dulgences, to the exclusion of his own rival order of the Au- 
gustinians, influenced him in his first attack on Tetzel. Such 
seems to have been the opinion of the enlightened Pontiff, 
Leo X., who, when the controversy was first reported to him, 
remarked, smiling, " that it was all a mere monkish squabble 
originating in jealousy." * Such also was the opinion of many 
other ancient writers. Certain it is that this jealousy, if it 
did not originate, at least fed and maintained the discussion. 
Luther s order, with its principal members Staupitz, Link, 
Lange, and others were his warmest advocates ; while the 
Dominicans Cajetan, Hochstraet, Eck, and Prierias were 
his chief opponents. The Dominican order continued faithful 

* Che coteste erano invidie fratesche. Brandelli, a contemporary Domini 
can writer. Hist. Trag. pars 3. 


to the church ; the Augustinians of Germany abandoned it 
almost without an exception.* 

Had he paused at the proper time, had he continued to leave 
untouched the venerable landmarks of Catholic faith, and 
confined himself to the correction of local disorders, all Catho 
lics would have applauded his zeal. Instead of being reck 
oned with Arius, Pelagius, Wicliffe, and other heresiarchs, he 
would then have found a niche in the temple of Catholic fame, 
with an Ambrose, a Gregory VII., and a Bernard ! His great 
talents, properly regulated, might have been immensely bene 
ficial to the Church of God. But, standing on the brink of a 
precipice, he became dizzy, and fell ; and, like Lucifer of old, 
he drew after him one-third of the stars of God s kingdom on 
earth. The old Catholic tree bore some evil fruits of abuses 
generally local and unauthorized, as we shall see in the proper 
place and, instead of pruning it discreetly and nurturing its 
growth, he recklessly lopped off all its branches, and even at 
tempted to tear it up by the roots, under the pretext, forsooth, 
of making it bear fruit ! 

The question has often been asked, was Lnther sincere? 
We have no doubt of his sincerity nor much of his piety, 
until he turned reformer. Perhaps, too, he might have been, 
to a certain extent, sincere during the first year of his reform 
ative career. God only can judge the human heart ; and it 
would be rash in us to attempt to fathom what only He can 
search with unerring accuracy. Still we have some facts 
whereon to base a judgment in the particular case of the Ger 
man reformer. 

There is little doubt that he had some misgivings at first. 
He himself tells us that " he trembled to find himself alone 
agdinst the whole Church." f He testifies on this subject as 

* Several of the members, however, seem to have subsequently returned 
to the communion of the Church, and among them Staupitz, the superior. 

f " Solus primo eram." Opp. in Praef. Edit. Wittenb. Quoted by D Au- 


follows ; " How often has my conscience disturbed me ! How 
often have I said to myself: dost thou imagine thyself wiser 
than all the rest of mankind ? Darest thou imagine that all 
mankind have been in error for so long a series of years." * 
And again : " I am not so bold as to assert that I have been 
guided in this affair by God ; upon this point I would not 
wish to undergo the judgment of God."f 

He regretted at first that his Theses had become so public, 
and had made so great a stir among the people. " My de 
sign," says he " was not to make them so public. I wished 
to discuss the various points comprised in them with some of 
our associates and neighbors. If they had condemned them, 
I would have destroyed them ; if they had approved of them, 
I would have published them." J " He was disturbed and 
dejected at the thought" of standing alone against the Church 
" doubts, which he thought he had overcome, returned to 
his mind with fresh force. He trembled to think that he had 
the whole authority of the Church against him. To withdraw 
himself from that authority to resist that voice which nations 
and ages had humbly obeyed to set himself in opposition to 
that Church which he had been accustomed from his infancy 
to revere as the mother of the faithful : he, a despicable monk 
it was an effort beyond human power." 

Luther himself tells us how he struggled against this feel 
ing ; how he lulled to rest that still small voice of conscience 
within his bosom. " After having triumphed, by means of 
the Scriptures, over all opposing arguments, I at last over 
came, by the grace of Christ (!) with much anguish, labor, and 
great difficulty, the only argument that still stopped me, 
namely, that I must hear the Church ; for, from my heart, I 
honored the Church of the Pope as the true Church," etc.|| 

* Opp. Lutheri. Germ. Edit. Geneva, vol. ii, fol. 9. 

f Ibid., vol. i, p. 364. 

I Epist. Collect. De Wette, vol. i, p. 95. 

D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 257. || Luth. Opp. Lat. i, 49. Ibid., i, 258. 


He foresaw the dreadful commotions of which he would be 
the author, and trembled at the thought ! "I tremble I 
shudder at the thought, that I may be an occasion of discord 
to such mighty princes."* Still he recklessly persevered ! 

But these scruples were but "a remnant of popery:" soon 
he succeeded in lulling his conscience into a fatal security. 
An awful calm succeeded the storm. The pride of being at 
the head of a strong party ; the praises of the students and 
professors of the Wittenburg university; the flattery of 
friends, and the smiles of the powerful elector of Saxony ; 
soon quieted the rising qualms of conscience. The following 
facts, selected almost at random from a mass of evidence of 
the same kind, may contribute to throw additional light on 
the question of his sincerity. 

On the 30th of May, 1518, which was Trinity Sunday, he 
wrote a letter to Pope Leo X., of which the following is the 
concluding passage: 

" Therefore, most holy father, I throw myself at the feet of your holiness, 
and submit myself to you with all that I have and all that I am. Destroy 
my cause or espouse it ; pronounce either for or against me ; take my life 
or restore it, as you please : I will receive your voice as that of Christ him 
self, who presides and speaks through you. If I have deserved death, I 
refuse not to die : the earth is the Lord s and the fullness thereof. May He 
be praised for ever and ever. May He maintain you to all eternity! 

The sequel tested the sincerity of this declaration. But 
even while he was penning it, or very shortly afterwards, 
he preached from the pulpit of Wittenburg against the power 
of the Pope to fulminate excommunication, and he was en 
gaged in circulating inflammatory tracts breathing the same 

* "Inter tantos principes dissidii origo esse valde horreo et timeo." Ep. i, 93. 

f Luth. Epist. vol. i, p. 121. Edit. De Wette. 

| " Habui nuper sermonem ad populum de virtute excommunicationis, ubi 
taxavi obiter tyrannidem et inscitiam sordidissimi illius vulgi officialium 
commissariorum vicariorum," etc. Epist. ad Wencesl. Link, Julii, 1518. 


In 1519 he had a conference with Miltitz, the papal envoy, 
to whose perfect satisfaction he arranged every thing, prom 
ising to keep silence in future as to the questions in contro 
versy. The good nuncio embraced him, wept with joy, and 
invited him to a banquet, at which he loaded him with 
caresses. "While this affecting scene was enacted, Luther, in 
a private letter to a friend, called him " a deceiver, a liar, i 
who parted from him with a Judas-like kiss and crocodile 
tears ;"* and, in another letter, to Spalatin, he wrote : " Let 
me whisper in your ear ; I do not know whether the Pope is 
Antichrist, or only his apostle,"f etc. And yet, in less than a 
month after this very time, on the 3d of March, 1519, he wrote 
to the Pope in these words of reverence and submission : 

" Most holy father, I declare it in the presence of God, and of all the 
world, I never have sought, nor will I ever seek, to weaken by force or arti 
fice the power of the Koman church or of your holiness. I confess that 
there is nothing in heaven or earth that should be preferred above that 
church, save only Jesus Christ the Lord of all."| 

The same man who wrote this, impugned the Primacy of 
the Pope the very same year in the famous discussion with 
Doctor Eck at Leipsic ! Was he could he be sincere in 
all this ? But, further, when on the 3d of October, 1520, he 
became acquainted with the bull of Leo X., by which his 
doctrines were condemned, he wrote these remarkable words : 
"I will treat it as a forgery, though I believe it to be 

The following evidence will greatly aid us in judging of the 
motives which guided Luther in pushing forward the work 
of the Reformation. What those motives were he surely was 
the best judge. .Let us then see what himself tells us on this 

In his famous harangue against Karlstadt -and the image 
breakers, delivered from the pulpit of the church of All 

* Epist. Sylvio Egrano, 2 Feb., 1519. 

f Epist. Spalatino, 12 Feb., 1519. See Audin, Life of Luther, p. 91, and 
D Aubigne, vol. ii, p. 15-16. 

| Epist. i, p. 234. $ D Aubigne, vol. ii, p. 128. 


Saints at Wittenberg, he plainly says that, if his recreant 
disciples will not take his advice, "he will not hesitate to 
retract every thing he had either taught or written, and leave 
them ;" and he adds emphatically : " This I tell you once for 
all."* In an abridged confession of faith, which he drew up 
for his partisans, he says in a vaunting tone : " I abolished 
the elevation of the host, to spite the Pope ; and I had retained 
it so long to spite Karlstadt."f In the new form of service, 
which he composed as a substitute for the Mass, he says in a 
similar spirit : " If a council were to order the communion to 
be taken in both kinds, he and his would only take it in one 
or none ; and would, moreover, curse all those who should, in 
conformity with this decree of the council, communicate in 
both kinds ."J Could the man be sincere who openly boasted 
of being governed by such motives ? 

We might continue to discuss the question of his sincerity > 
by showing how he said one thing to Cardinal Cajetan, and 
in the diet of Worms in 1521, and other things precisely con 
tradictory to his friends, at the same time : how, before Caje 
tan, he appealed first to the universities, then to the Pope, 
better informed,|| and subsequently to a general council :^[ and 
how, when all these tribunals had decided against him, he 
would abide by none of their decisions, his reiterated solemn 
promises to the contrary notwithstanding ! Did the Spirit of 
God direct him in all these tortuous windings of artful policy ? 
Do they manifest aught of the uprightness of a boasted apostle ? 
Do they not rather bespeak the wily heresiarch an Arius, a 
Nestorius, or a Pelagius ? 

We say nothing at present of his consistency : we speak 
only of his sincerity and common honesty. No one has ever 
yet been found to praise his consistency. He was, confess- 

* " Non dubitabo ftinem reducere, et omnium quae aut scripsi aut docui 
palinodiam canere : hoc vobis dictum esto." Sermo docens abusus non mani- 
bus, etc. f Confessio Parva. 

$ Forma Missae. D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 357. 

11 Ibid., vol. i, p. 376. if Ibid., vol. i, p. 389, and again, vol. ii, p. 134. 


edlj, a mere creature of impulse and of passion, constant in 
nothing but in his hatred of the Pope and of the Catholic 
Church. His inconsistencies would fill a volume, and a mere 
enumeration of them would swell this chapter to an unwar 
rantable length.* 

But there is one incident in the private life of Luther too 
curious to be passed over in silence. We give it in the 
words of M. Audin, with his references to contemporary 
historians : 

"After the labors of the day, he would walk with Catharine" the nun 
whom he had sacrilegiously wedded " in the little garden of the convent, 
near the ponds in which colored fish were disporting ; and he loved to explain 
to her the wonders of the creation, and the goodness of Him who had made 
it with His hands. One evening the stars sparkled with unwonted bright 
ness, and the heavens appeared to be on fire. Behold what splendor those 
luminous points emit, said Catharine to Luther. Luther raised his eyes. 
What glorious light, said he: IT SHINES NOT FOR us. Why not? re 
plied Bora ; have we lost our title to the kingdom of heaven ? Luther 
sighed Perhaps so, said he, because we have abandoned our state.? 
1 We ought to return to it, then, said Catharine. IT is TOO LATE THE 
CAB is SUNK TOO DEEPLY, added the doctor. The conversation dropped."f 

We may here be pardoned for making a digression, to 
relate a somewhat analogous incident of Melancthon, Luther s 
bosom friend and cherished disciple. Luther was wont to 
flatter him immoderately, and the grateful disciple repaid him 
with interest in the same gilded coin. When the latter 
had finished his Scholia or short commentaries on the 
Epistles of St. Paul, Luther said to him, after having 
read the work : " What matter is it whether it pleases you 
or not, if it pleases me? I tell you that the commentaries 
of Origen and Jerome, compared with yours, are nothing 
but absurdities."! Melancthon, too, had his misgivings. 

* Those who may be curious to investigate this subject still further will 
find abundant facts in Audin s Life of Luther. We direct the attention 
of such to the following pages : 81, 82, 85, 94, 95, 102, 110, 238, 239, 240, 
291, 312, 354, 397, 398, 410, 430, 472, 511, etc., etc. 

f Georg Joanneck Norma Vitae. Kraus Ovicul. part ii, fol. 39. Apud 
Audin, p. 382. J Apud Audin, p. 445. 


"He recalled to his mind the image of his old father, 
George Schwartzerde,f the smith, whose lively faith made 
him rise often at night to offer up his prayer to God. 
He thought of the last prayer of his dying mother, who, 
raising her hands towards him, said : My son, it is for the last 
time you see your mother. I am about to die : your turn 
will one day come, when you must render an account of your 
actions to your Judge. You know that I was a Catholic, and 
that you have induced me to abandon the religion of my 
fathers. Tell me now, for God s sake, in what religion I 
ought to die. .Melancthon answered: Mother, the new 
doctrine is the more convenient; the other is the more 
secure. "f But the gentle and wavering Melancthon was kept 
in error by the fascination of his imperious master Luther, 
who, serpent-like, had coiled himself around his very heart 
strings, and held him captive. 

Luther s intellectual attainments were of a high order. As 
a popular orator, few surpassed him whether in ancient or in 
modern times. Nothing could withstand the foamy torrent 
of his eloquence, or resist the eifect of his withering invective : 

" When he preached, the people listened with trembling expectation to 
the words which fell from his lips. His eye, which seemed to revolve in a 
fiery orbit his large and seer-like forehead his animated figure, especially 
when much excited his threatening gesture, his loud voice which thun 
dered on the ear the spirit of inspiration with which he seemed possessed 
all awakened either terror, or ecstatic admiration in his auditory. "{ 

An excellent judge, the great Frederick Yon Schlegel, 
passes the following opinion on his mental powers. 

" In the first place, it is evident of itself that a man who accomplished so 
mighty a revolution in the human mind, and in his age, could have been 
endowed with no common powers of intellect, and no ordinary strength of 
character. Even his writings display an astonishing boldness and energy 
of thought, united with a spirit of impetuous, passionate, and convulsive 

* Schwarzerde means literally black earth. 

f ^Egidius Albertinus im 4. Theil des Deutschen Lust-Hauses, vol. v, p. 
143. Apud Audin, p. 447, note. \ Audin, p. 225. 


enthusiasm. The latter qualities are indeed not very compatible with a 
prudent, enlightened, and dispassionate judgment."* 

His indefatigable industry and untiring energy brought out 
all his mental resources. He was restless and uneasy in 
mind and heart : his spirit could never be still, after it had 
lost the peace it once possessed in the bosom of the Catholic 
Church. His mind was not elevated or refined ; it could not 
appreciate the beauties of art in Koine, which he visited 
during the splendid pontificate of Leo X. He seems to have 
gleaned nothing else from his journey to the eternal city but a 
few "house-wife stories or mendacious anecdotes."f 

Much has been said of his courage, and of his utter disre 
gard of danger. That he was bold and daring, we do not pre 
tend to deny. It however required but little courage to be bold 
in his interview with Cardinal Cajetan, or at the diet of Worms 
in 1521. With the safe-conduct of the emperor, and the cer 
tain protection of the powerful elector of Saxony, he had little 
to apprehend. Besides, any man might become courageous, 
at least at times, who had a powerful party to sustain him in 
every thing. Luther was certainly most courageous where 
there was least danger. He is altogether a different charac 
ter at the diet of Worms, and at Wittenberg. He could hurl 
defiance at Popes, emperors, and princes, when these were 
far off, and he was out of their reach : but if he had any thing 
to fear from them, the scene changed altogether. He then 
became as obsequious and crouching, as he had before been 
bold and reckless. 

How meanly sycophantic was he on all occasions to the 
elector of Saxony ! We will give one instance of this. When 
Henry YIIL, of England, complained to the elector of Luther s 
outrageous insults to his royal majesty, the elector barely inti 
mated the fact in a very mild and indirect way to the reformer, 
without even insinuating the propriety of the latter making any 

* Philosophy of History, vol. ii, p. 204. 

f See Audin, p. 135, for facts under this head. 


reparation. Luther at once seized his pen, and indited the fol 
lowing singular amende honorable. " Most serene king ! most 
illustrious prince ! I should be afraid to address your majesty, 
when I remember how much I must have offended you in the 
book which, under the influence of bad advice, rather than of 
my own feelings, I published against you, through pride and 

vanity I blush now, and scarcely dare to raise my 

eyes to you I, who, by means of these workers of iniquity, 
have not feared to insult so great a prince I, who am a 
worm and corruption, and who only merit contempt and dis 
dain If your majesty thinks proper that, in another 

work, I should recall my words, and glorify your name, vouch 
safe to transmit to me your orders. I am ready and full of 
good will,"* etc. In fact, as we shall hereafter prove, Luther 
was indebted, in a great measure, to his sycophancy to princes 
for the success of his pretended Reformation-)-. 

His passions were violent, and he seems to have made little 
effort to govern them. His violence, in fact, often drove him 
to the very verge of insanity. His cherished disciple, Melanc- 
thon, deplored his furious outbursts of temper. " I tremble 
when I think of the passions of Luther : they yield not in 
violence to the passions of Hercules."J The weak and timid 
disciple had reason to tremble ; for he testifies that Luther 
occasionally inflicted on him personal chastisement.^ 

If he thus treated his most intimate friends, what are we to 
suppose. his conduct was towards his opponents and enemies ? 

* Opp. Lutheri, Tom. ix, p. 234. Cochlaeus, p. 156, Ulenberg, p. 502. 
See Audin, p. 300. 

f Mr. Hallam, speaking of this letter of apology addressed by Luther to 
Henry VIII., says : "Among the many strange things which Luther said and 
wrote, I know not one more extravagant than this letter, which almost justi 
fies the supposition that there was a vein of insanity in his very remarkable 
character." Constitutional History of England, Harper s edition, 1857; 
p. 45, note. 

I Melancthon Epist. ad Theodorum. 

$ "Ab ipso colaphos accepi." Epist ad eundem. 


In his conferences with Cajetan and Miltitz, and in his letter 
to Leo X., as well as in his famous speech at Worms, he 
acknowledged the violence of his writings : Still, instead of 
correcting this fault, it seems to have grown with his growth. 
Witness the manner in which he replies to Tetzel. " It seems 
to me, at the sound of these invectives, that I hear a great ass- 
braying at me. I rejoice at it, and should be sorry that such 
people should call me a good Christian."* 

He exhausts all the epithets of the coarsest ribaldry against 
his opponents, no matter how respectable these may have 
been. We can not pollute our pages with a tithe of his foul 
language. Behold the spirit that breathes in the following 
passage, in which he speaks of his theological antagonist 
Emser : " After a little time I will pray against him ; I will 
beseech God to render to him according to his works : it is 
better that he should perish, than that he should continue to 
blaspheme Christ. I do not wish you to pray for this wretch ; 
pray for us alone."f His adversaries are full of devils : if they 
die, the devil has strangled them ; " one foams at the mouth ; 
another has the horns and tail of Satan. This one is clad as 
Antichrist ; that man changed into a block. Oftentimes the 
same personage, in the same page, is travestied as a mule, a 
camel, an owl, and a mole."J 

What are we to think, for instance, of the spirit of the 
following language, addressed to an assembly of his own 
disciples ! 

" My brethren, be submissive, and communicate only under one kind. If 
you do what I say to you, I will be to you a good master ; I will be to you 
a father, brother, friend. I will obtain graces and privileges from his majesty 
for you. If you disobey me, I declare that I will become your enemy, and 
do all the mischief possible to this city." 

Volumes might be filled with extracts from Luther s writ 
ings, replete with the coarsest vulgarity and the grossest 

* Luth. Opp. Leipsic, xvii, 132. 

f Epist. ad Nicholas Hausman, 26 April, 1520. 

t Audin, p. 118. $ Table Talk, p. 376. 


obscenity : the specimens we have given are among the mild 
est and least objectionable.* 

It is usual to excuse this coarseness of Luther by the spirit 
of the age in which he lived. This is scarcely a valid apology 
for one, who set himself up as a reformer of religion and of 
morals, and who claimed a divine commission to establish a 
new system of doctrine. Besides, we look in vain for any 
such examples of vulgarity among his chief opponents in the 
Catholic Church : Eraser, Eck, Cajetan, Erasmus, and the 
great Leo X., were far too refined to employ any such vulgar 
weapons. The reformers seemed to claim a special privilege 
in this way. Let us exhibit a few specimens of the manner 
in which some of those rival champions of reform, who dif 
fered from Luther in their doctrinal views, spoke of the Saxon 
reformer. They returned railing for railing.f 

" This man," says one of his contemporary reformers, " is 
absolutely mad. He never ceases to combat truth against 
all justice, even against the cry of his own conscience."! 
" He is puffed up," says another, " with pride and arro 
gance, and is seduced by Satan ." " Yes," re-echoes another, 
" the devil is master of Luther to such a degree as to make 
one believe that he wishes to gain entire possession of 
him." || 

The same brother reformer adds : " that he was possessed 
not by one, but by a whole troop of devils ;"^[ and that " he 
wrote all his works by the impulse and the dictation of the 

* For more instances consult the following pages of Audin, 136, 163, 
235, 237, 239, 240, 248, 273, 285, 287, 288, 299, etc., etc. 

f It was well for such men as these to turn reformers, and to cry out 
against the holy Catholic Church ! There was certainly great need of refor 
mation, not of the Church, but of the coarse hypocrites who, reeking with 
vice and impurity, lifted up their voices to calumniate better men than them 
selves a device to avert suspicion from their own conduct ! 

J Hospinian. CEcolampadius. || Zuingle. 

1F Non obsessum ab uno spiritu, sed occupatum a caterva daemonum. 
Jontra Lutherum. Apud Audin, p. 188. 
VOL. I. 8 


devil, with whom he had dealings, and who in the struggle 
seemed to have thrown him by victorious arguments."* 

This last charge was not without foundation. Luther him 
self relates his "conference with the devil" in full, and 
acknowledges, at the close of it, that he was unable to answer 
the arguments of Satan ! f The devil, as was quite natural, 
argued against the lawfulness of private Masses, which Luther 
feebly defended : and so convincing were the reasons of his 
satanical majesty, that Luther wrote to his intimate friend 
Melancthon immediately after: "I will not again celebrate 
private Masses forever." J And he faithfully kept his prom 
ise ! It was a favorite saying of his that, " unless we have 
the devil hanging about our necks, we are but pitiful specula 
tive theologians !" 

Can we wonder, then, at this compliment paid him by his 
brother Protestants of the church of Zurich : " But how 
strangely does this fellow let himself be carried away by his 
devils ! How disgusting is his language, and how full are 
his words of the devil of hell !"|| 

If these sayings are hard, it is surely not our fault ; Luther 
bore similar testimony of himself, and of his brother Protest 
ants, who happened to differ from him ; and these did but 
retort on him similar compliments ! We are but the humble 
witnesses and historians of the conflict. The reformers are 
certainly unexceptionable witnesses of the characters of one 

* Contra Confessionem Lutheri, p. 61. For more testimonies of the 
kind, see Note A. at the end of this volume. 

f In his treatise De Missa privata. See also Note B. at the end of the 
present volume, where we will give the Satanic interview in full. It is a 
document as curious as it is important, in forming an estimate of Luther s 

| " Sed et ego amplius non faciam missam privatam in aeternum." Ad 
Melancth. Aug. 1, 1521. 

"Nisi diabolum habemus collo affixum, nihil nisi speculativi theologi 
sumus." Colloquia Mensalia, fol. 23. Apud Audin, i, 366. TurnbulPs 
translation, two vols. 8vo, London. 

II Church of Zurich Contra Confess. Lutheri. 


another. Is it likely that God selected such instruments to 
reform His church ? 

Luther s standard of morality was about as high as that 
of his good breeding. St. Paul tells us that a Christian s 
" conversation is in heaven ;"* Luther s, on the contrary, was 
not only earthly, but often immoral and revolting in the ex 
treme. He discussed, in all their most disgusting details, 
subjects which St. Paul would not have so much as " named 
among Christians."! His famous " Table Talk" is full of such 
specimens of the new gospel decency. Wine and women, 
the Pope and the devil, are the principal subjects of which 
the reformer liked to treat, when alone with his intimate 
friends, in private and unreserved conversation. For fifteen 
years from 1525 to 1540 he usually passed the evenings at 
the Black Eagle tavern of Wittenburg, where he met and 
conversed, over the ale-jug, with his bosom friends, Melanc- 
thon, Amsdorf, Aurifaber, Justus Jonas, Lange, Link, and 

His disciples carefully collected and published these con 
versations of their " beloved master," as so many precious 
oracles from heaven, delivered by the mouth of the new 
apostle. Erasmus Albert, one of them, tells us, in a work 
against Karlstadt, that " these table discourses of the doctor 
are better than any sermons ;" and Frederick Mecum, another 
early Lutheran, calls them "affecting conversations, which 
ought to be diffused among the people."J The first editions 
of the work were published in German and in Latin, by 
Mathesius, Peter Rebstock, and Aurifaber, all zealous disci 
ples of the reformer. If there was any indiscretion in thus 
revealing to the world the secret conversations of this " ale- 
pope of the Black Eagle" with his boon companions, their 

* Philippians, iii : 20. f Ephes. v : 3. \ Apud Audin, p. 386. 

\ The first edition was that of Eisleben, Luther s birth-place, in 1566, 
twenty years after his death. It was speedily followed by others, at Frank 
fort on the Oder in 1567 and 1571 ; at Jena in 1591 ; at Leipsic in 1603 
and 1700 ; at Dresden and again at Leipsic in 1723. 


zeal is alone to blame for the exposure. The Table Talk, or 
Tisoli Reden^ as it is called in German, revealing as it does 
the heart of Luther in his most unguarded moments, is per 
haps the best key to his real character.* 

We will not soil our pages with extracts from the Table 
Talk, revealing the moral turpitude of Luther. Those who 
may doubt the truth of the picture we have drawn, or who 
may feel a curiosity in such matters, are referred to the work 
itself a ponderous folio of 1350 pages, besides an index, 
which alone w r ould make a volume of considerable size.f 
Luther s immorality was not, however, confined to private 
conversations at the Black Eagle: he unblushingly and sacri 
legiously exhibited it in the very sanctuary of God s holy 
temple. His Sermon on Matrimony, delivered in the German 
language, from the pulpit of the public church of All Saints 
at Wittenburg, enters into the most revolting details upon a 
most delicate subject. The perusal of that sermon, even in 
the French language under the veil of which the translator 
of M. Audin has wisely thought proper to leave it partially 
concealed is enough to raise a blush on the cheek of mod 
esty! He preached this sermon in 1521, immediately after 
his return from the Castle of the "Wartburg, where he had 
held his famous "conference with the devil ;" and it is worthy 
of such a master, if indeed the demon himself, who is said to 
have little taste for such matters, would not have blushed at 
the obscenity of his wanton disciple ! 

* Never, perhaps, was there a better or more striking illustration of the 
old Latin adage, in vino veritas in wine there is truth than in these un 
guarded and confidential conversations between Luther and his intimate 
friends. Though concealment was no characteristic element of Luther s 
character, even in his more sober moments, yet the whole depths of his 
heart were more fully unveiled over his cups, in which he appears to have 
indulged more and more as he advanced in years. Verily, he had now fully 
given up all those practices of penitential austerity concerning which he 
had been so scrupulous while a Catholic ! 

f M. Audin publishes copious extracts from the work, p. 387, seqq. 


We may as well remark here, that it was in this same 
church, about the same time, that Luther delivered the wither 
ing invective against Karlstadt and some other ultra reform 
ers, who had torn down or defaced the statues and paintings 
of the church, during his absence at the Wartburg. The fol 
lowing extract from this oration contains a boast characteristic 
of Luther : " I have done more mischief to the Pope, even 
while I slept, or was drinking beer with Philip and Amsdorf, 
than all the princes and emperors put together!"* 

We shudder while we record the following horrid blas 
phemies, taken from his Table Talk; and we should have 
refrained from publishing them, had he not set himself up as 
a reformer of God s Church, and in that garb seduced many 

from the faith. " May the name of the Pope be d d : 

may his reign be abolished ; may his will be restrained ! If 
I thought that God did not hear my prayer, I would address 
the devil."f Again: "I owe more to my dear Catharine and 
to Philip, than to God himself."! Finally : " God has made 
many mistakes. I would have given him good advice had I 
assisted at the creation. I would have made the sun shine 
incessantly ; the day would have been without end." Could 
human wickedness or temerity have gone further than this ? || 

* Opp. Lutheri, Tom. vii. Chytr. Chron. Sax. p. 247. 

f Table Talk, p. 213, Edit. Eisleben. 

t Ibid., p. 124. I Id. Ed. Frank, part ii, fol. 20. 

|| In his Standard Library, Bohn publishes (in one volume 12mo, pp. 374, 
London, 1857,) what purports to be Luther s Table Talk. We are indebted 
for a copy of this production to our friend James Slevin, Esq., of Phila 
delphia. It is said to be a reproduction of a translation made about the 
middle of the seventeenth century by one Captain Henry Bell, an English 
man, who tells us a most marvellous story concerning "the miraculous 
preserving of Dr. Martin Luther s book, entitled Colloquia Mensalia, or his 
Divine Discourses at his Table, etc." According to the account of this gal 
lant romancer, he by chance found in Germany a copy of the precious book 
hidden away in a deep hole in the ground, this being the only copy that 
was left, all the rest having been burned by order of the Pope and the 
emperor ! He reverently carried the book to England ; and when he was 
dilatory in the translation, a nocturnal apparition frightened him into com- 


It is not a litttle remarkable, that from the date of his con 
ference with the devil, Luther s moral career was constantly 
downward ; until at last he reached the lowest grade of in 
famy, and became utterly steeped in vice. How strongly 
does his reckless conduct, after this period, contrast with, his 
vigils, long prayers, and fasts, while an humble monk in the 
Catholic Church ! He himself draws the contrast in his own 
forcible manner. 

He tells us that while a Catholic, " he passed his life in 
austerities, in watchings, in fasts and praying, in poverty, 
chastity and obedience."* When he had abandoned Catho 
licity, he says of himself, that he was no longer able to resist 
the vilest propensities, f and that, " as it did not depend upon 
him not to be a man, so neither did it depend upon him to be 
without a woman."J His immorality was generally known, 
and he himself often acknowledged it. " He was," says Slei- 
dan, a Protestant historian of the time, "so well aware of 
his immorality, as we are informed by his favorite disciple 
(Melancthon,) that he wished they would remove him from 
the office of preaching."^ In his Table Talk, he often avowed 

mencing the task, causing him " to fall into an extreme sweat !" See his 
narrative in full, prefixed to Bohn s edition. 

He does not choose to tell us whether the apparition was "white or 
black" a question which had seriously puzzled more than one reformer. 
Verily, some people are prepared to beMeve almost any absurdity, provided 
it only tally with their prejudices, and almost any marvel, provided it do 
not point in the direction of the truth. We have never seen a more stupid 
or clumsy imposture than this whole attempt to palm off on the public the 
dreams of a miserable, and it would seem, disreputable adventurer ; and we 
are surprised that such a man as William Hazlitt should have lent it his 
countenance. The book itself is a bad abridgment of Luther s Table Talk, 
with the more objectionable portions carefully left out. Only think of pub 
lishing the immense folio of 1350 pages in a small 12mo volume ! Yet 
there is no indication of its abridgment. 

* Tom. v, Opp. Commentar. in c. i ad Gralatas v, 14. 

f " Carnis meae indomitse uror magnis ignibus, came, libidine." Apud 
Audin, p. 355. \ Opp. Tom. v, fol. 119. Sermo de Matrimonio. 

6 Sleidan, B. ii, An. 1520. 


the base passions which raged within him ; but in language 
much too gross for our pages. He sometimes complained, 
that "the Wittenbergers who supply all the monks with 
wives, will not give me one."* 

Though he had made a solemn vow of chastity; and 
though the Holy Scriptures command us to fulfill our vows ;f 
yet he married Catharine Bora, a nun bound by similar sacred 
engagements ! J He hesitated long before he took this step, 
and had some conscientious twitchings even while taking it : 
his conscience did not become wholly seared, until some time 
afterwards ! While at the "Wartburg in 1521 a little before 
his satanical interview he uttered the following exclamation 
of horror, on being shown some theses of his recreant dis- 

* See Meyer Ehren Gredachtniss, fol. 26. f Psalm Ixxv : 12. 

} The Protestant historian of Germany, Wolfgang Menzel, speaking of 
Luther s marriage, says : " Luther, in defiance of the ancient prophecy, that 
antichrist would spring from the union of a monk and nun, wedded (A. D. 
1525,) the beautiful young nun Catharine Von Bora, who brought him sev 
eral children." Vol. ii, p. 249, edit. Bohn, London, 1853. He was not the 
first apostate priest who married at the period of the Reformation ; Karl- 
stadt, Bernhard, and others had preceded him in the reformatory race mat 
rimonial. Ibid., p. 232. 

As we shall have occasion to quote Menzel frequently hereafter, we may 
as well remark here, that though occasionally candid in his statement of 
facts, he takes little pains to disguise his prejudice against the Catholic 
Church ; which circumstance renders his testimony the more unexception 
able whenever it is favorable to the Church. One can hardly have patience 
while reading the flippant and stupid calumnies, which he heaps together 
on p. 218, seqq., of this second volume, in reference to the character of the 
Popes who preceded Leo X., the sale of indulgences, and the first move 
ments of the Reformation in Germany. He assigns no authority whatever 
for his calumnious and almost incredible statements. Among other things, 
for instance, he says that the ignorance of the clergy " was countenanced by 
the Popes, who expressly decreed that out of ten ecclesiastics only one was 
to study !" P. 220. The Popes had always decreed precisely the contrary, 
as every one knows who has read history. This very Pontiff, Leo X., had 
enacted, that "thenceforth none should be raised to the priesthood but men 
of ripe years, of exemplary conduct, and who had gone through a long course 
of study." See Audin, vol. i, p. 79, London edition. 


ciple, Karlstadt, in which this man allowed wives to priests 
and monks "Good heaven! will our Wittenburg friends 
allow wives even to monks ! Ah ! at least they will not 
make me take a wife."* And again he says : " The friars 
have of their own accord chosen a life of celibacy ; they are 
therefore not at liberty to withdraw from the obligations they 
have laid themselves under ."f Three years later, in 1524, he 
said: "God may change my purpose, if such be his pleasure; 
but at present I have no thought of taking a wife."J 

And yet, but a few short weeks elapsed before he espoused 
Catharine Bora ! That he had some misgivings on the occa 
sion, would appear from these words of his letter to an inti 
mate friend, "Wenceslaus Link " Away with your scruples : 
let the Lord be glorified. I have my little Catharine. I 
belong to Bora, and am dead to the world " and to con 
science. To Koeppe, another boon companion, he wrote: 
" You know well what has happened to me. I am caught in 
the snares of a woman. God must have been angry with me 
and with the world." || Luther at first felt the degradation to 
which he had stooped, in violating his sacred vows. In a 
letter to his intimate friend Spalatin, immediately after his 
marriage, he says : " That he had made himself so vile and 
contemptible by these nuptials, that he hopes all the angels 
will laugh, and all the demons weep !"^[ Still this feeling 
soon gave way to a conviction, which he expressed in a con 
fidential letter to another friend, "That God himself had 
inspired him with the thought of marrying that nun, Catha 
rine de Bora ! !"** Could inconsistency and infatuation go 
further than this ? 

* At mihi non obtrudent uxorem. Lib. Epist. ii, p. 40. D Aubigne iii, 
26. Audin, vol. i, p. 337. f Ibid., p. 34 ; D Aubigne, ib. f p. 26, 27. 

\ Epist. ii, p. 570, 30th Nov., 1524. 

\ Epist. Tom. ii, p. 245. Wittenb. edit. Seckendorf, 1. i, s. 63, clxxxii. 

|| Ibid. Tom. ii, p. 903. Edit. Altenb. 

IT Epistola Spalatino. " Sic me vilem et contemptum his nuptiis feci, ut 
angelos ridere, et dsemones flere sperem." ** Epist. Wenceslao Link. 


The whole world was astounded, or at least greatly shocked 
at this conduct of the Saxon reformer. The Catholics viewed 
it as open sacrilege: many Protestants were saddened and 
scandalized. Among these was Melancthon, who deplored 
this conduct of his master in a letter to Camerarius ; but with 
singular inconsistency adds : " Wo, however, to him who 
would reject the doctrine, on account of the sins of the 
teacher !" The accomplished, but wavering Erasmus, viewed 
it but as another proof of his caustic remark, " That the tra 
gedy of the Reformation ever terminated in the comedy of 
marriage." In a letter written on the occasion, he says: 
"This is a singular occurrence; Luther has thrown off the 
philosopher s cloak, and has just married a young woman of 
twenty-six handsome, well-made, and of a good family, but 
who has no dowry, and who for some time had ceased to be 
a vestal. The nuptials were most auspicious ; for a few days 
after the hymeneal songs were sung, the bride was delivered ! 
Luther revels, while a hundred thousand peasants descend to 
the tomb !"* The scandalous circumstance here developed 
may perhaps explain Luther s haste in the matter. 

All Germany was aroused by the tidings of Luther s mar 
riage. His opponents, as well as those who were indifferent, 

* Epist. Danieli Manchis Ulmensi. Oct. 6, 1525. This letter of Erasmus 
has given rise to an animated controversy between the friends and opponents 
of Luther. Those who may wish to see both sides, are referred to Audin, 
p. 362, seqq. There seems to be little doubt, that the caustic censure of 
Erasmus had a basis in truth. See also Bayle s Dictionary, article Luther. 
The alleged retraction by Erasmus is believed by many to have been a for 
gery. If Froben, who collected and published the Epistles of Erasmus, 
omitted the original passage in his letter to Daniel Ulm criminating Luther, 
he would scarcely have scrupled to interpolate this passage containing the 
alleged retraction. Besides, Luther s immorality was well known, and not 
concealed even by himself. His conversation was habitually such as to indi 
cate a corrupt heart. He had, moreover, a son Andrew, as he testifies in his 
Table Talk, though his name is not given in the list of his children fur 
nished elsewhere, which is very suspicious. Finally, he speaks of an ille 
gitimate child of his wife Catharine. See Audin, Ibid. 
VOL. I. 9 


laughed at his expense through all the notes of the gamut. 
Sonnets, epigrams, satires, epithalamia, and caricatures, 
poured in on his devoted head, like a hail storm, from every 
quarter. Among these, the best perhaps were those of Doc- 
tore Emser and Wimpina. The former extemporized a 
nuptial song, or epithalamium, in Latin verse, and set it to 
music: "Farewell! cowl, prior, guardian, abbot: adieu to alL 
vows : adieu to matins and prayers, fear and shame : adieu to 
conscience !"* The latter, in a wood-cut caricature, exhibited, 
in withering and ludicrous contrast, the marriage of Luther 
and the divine injunction : " Vow ye, and pay to the Lord 
your God " Yovete, et reddite Domino Deo tuo.f 

Luther seems to have retired for a time from the pitiless 
peltings of the storm "dead to the world, with his little 
Catharine" but he again emerged from solitude, more reck 
less and violent than ever. As Erasmus remarked, " mar 
riage had not tamed him !" Indeed, it would seem that " his 
little Catharine" gave him no little trouble and annoyance. 
She sometimes played the part of the scold and the vixen. 
He used to call her after the honey-moon, of course "my 
master Ketha."J Poor man ! 

Before he left the Catholic Church, he was temperate and 
abstemious: during the last twenty-one years of his life 
from his marriage in 1525 to his death in 1546 he was 
much given to the luxuries of the table, and drank beer copi 
ously, if not to excess. Maimbourg and others tell us, that 

* Cuculla, vale, capa ! 
Vale, prior, custos, abba ! 
Cum obedientia, 

Cum jubilo. 
Ite vota, preces, horae, 
Vale timor cum pudore : 
Vale conscientia ! 

CocU&us in Act. Lu&ieri, foL 118. 

f Psalm Ixxv: 12 ; Prot vers. Ixxvi: 12. The only answer Luther made 
to Wimpina, was this : " Let the sow grunt ! " | " Dominus meus Ketha," 


he lost the use of reason at many of the sumptuous banquets, 
in which he was wont to revel with his intimate friends ; and 
Seckendorf, his warmest admirer, admits that "he used food 
and drink joyfully, and indulged in jokes,"* even on the eve 
of his death. In fact, so little was he in the habit of re 
straining his passions, or of concealing his vices, that they 
all stood out in bold relief, strong even in death ! 

His death was in every respect worthy of the life he had 
habitually led since he had turned reformer. His last words 
contained a refusal to retract his errors, and a declaration 
that he wished to die as he had lived ! We will give a few 
incidents connected with his last moments. "I am ready 
to die," he said, " whenever it shall please God my Saviour ; 
but I would wish to live till Pentecost, that I might stigma 
tize before the whole world this Roman beast, whom they 
call the Pope, and with him his kingdom." His pains be 
coming very acute, he said one day to his nurse : "I wish 
there was a Turk here to kill me." Hear how he prays, while 
suffering: "My sins death, the devil give me no rest! 
What other consolation have I but thy grace, O God ! Ah ! 
let it not abandon the most miserable of men, the greatest of 
sinners !" Witness again the spirit of the following charac 
teristic prayer, in which the supplication for mercy is blended 
with hatred of his enemies : " O my God ! how I would wish 
that Erasmus and the Sacramentarians did for a moment 
experience the pains that I suffer : then I would become a 
prophet and foretell their conversion."! 

After the sumptuous feast alluded to above, he gave vent 
to his humor in the following strain, the subject of which is 
the devil his usual hobby : " My dear friends, we can not 
die, till we have caught hold of Lucifer by the tail ! I saw 
his back yesterday from the castle turrets ."J 

* " Cibo et potu hilariter usus est ; et facetiis indulsit." Seckendorf, Com- 
mentar. de Lutheranismo. 

f For more facts of a similar kind, see Audin, p. 482, seqq. 
J Rareburgius, in his MS. Seckendorf, lib. iii, $ 36, cxxxiv. 


The discourse subsequently turned on the study of the 
Scriptures, and Luther- made the following declaration, which 
is valuable as a death-bed confession. "It is no trifle to 
understand the Scriptures. Five years hard labor will be 
required to understand YirgiPs Georgics : twenty years expe 
rience to be master of Cicero s Epistles: and a hundred 
years intercourse with the prophets Elias, Eliseus, John the 
Baptist, Christ, and the apostles, to know the Scriptures ! 
Alas ! poor human nature !"* And yet the last twenty-nine 
years of his life had been devoted to the promulgation of the 
cardinal principle of his new religion, that every one was 
competent to understand the Scriptures by his own private 
judgment! "Well may we exclaim "Alas! poor human 
nature !" 

Such was, or rather became, Martin Luther, after he had 
left the holy Catholic Church ! Compare his character then 
with what it was before that event ; and then apply D Au- 
bigne s test given above, and the conclusion is irresistible: 
that he was not a chosen instrument in the hands of God for 
reforming the Church, which "He had purchased with His 
blood." f Before he left the Church, he was, as we have seen, 
humble, patient, pious, devoted, chaste, scrupulous; after 
wards, he was, in every one of these particulars, directly the 
reverse. Does God choose such instruments to do his work ? 
Was Moses, was Aaron, were the apostles such characters ? 
Luther, like the apostles, forsooth! They were humble, 
chaste, patient, temperate, and modest: he was proud, im 
moral, impatient, and wholly shameless. They had a mission 
from God, and proved it by mirales : he had not the one, nor 
did he claim the other; though challenged on the subject, 
both by the Zuinglians and by the Anabaptists.J Therefore 

* Florimond "Remond, b. iii, c. ii, foL 287. Laign, vita Lutheri, fol. 4. 

f Acts xx : 28. 

| See Audin, p. 239. Stiibner, an Anabaptist, asked him to produce his 
miracles. He was silent, though a little before, he had made the very same 
challenge to Karlstadt, and renewed it afterwards to the Zuinglians ! 


God did not send him and all of D Aubigne s canting theory 
falls of itself to the ground. "What must the look of the 
Reformation be, if Luther s personal character be the key, 
which suits its internal structure ? 

It would be easy to show, by unquestionable evidence, that 
the other reformers were not a whit better than Luther. "We 
have seen already, what testimony they mutually bore to the 
character of one another ; and we shall probably have occa 
sion to recur to the subject in the sequel of our essay : 

" The historian, Hume, has truly characterized the reformers as fanatics 
and bigots ; but with no less justice might he have added, that they were 
(with one exception perhaps}* the coarsest hypocrites :f men, who, while 
professing the most high-flown sanctity in their writings, were in their con 
duct, brutal, selfish, and unrestrainable ; who, though pretending, in matters 
of faith, to adopt reason as their guide, were in all things else, the slaves of 
the most vulgar superstition ; and who, with the boasted right of private 
judgment forever on their lips, passed their lives in a course of mutual re 
crimination and persecution ; and transmitted the same warfare as an heir 
loom to their descendants. Yet, these be thy Gods, Protestantism ! 
these the coarse idols which heresy has set up in the niches of the saints 
and fathers of old, and whose names, like those of all former such idols, are 
worn like brands upon the foreheads of their worshipers."! 

Whoever will read attentively the veridical history of the 
Reformation, will admit the truth of this picture drawn by 
the great Irish bard. 

* Melancthon. 

f Bucer admits the justice of this reproach. Epist. ad Calvin. 
t " Travels of an Irish Gentleman," etc., p. 200, 201. Doyle, New York, 





The question stated D Aubigne s opinion Mother and daughter Argu- 
mentum ad hominem Jumping at a conclusion Second causes Why 
Germany was converted Why Italy and Spain were not Luther and 
Mohammed Seasoning by contraries Why France continued Catholic. 

WE have seen what was the character of the chief instru 
ments who brought about the Reformation in Germany ; we 
are now to examine what was the character of the work itself, 
and how it was accomplished. Were the reasons which were 
assigned, as the principal motives for this alleged reform in 
religion, sufficient to justify it, according to the judgment of 
impartial men ? Were the means employed for bringing it 
about such as would lead us to believe, that it was really a 
change for the better ; and were they such as God would or 
could have approved and sanctioned? Finally, weighing 
these motives and these means, and making all due allow 
ance for the condition of the times, was there any thing very 
remarkable in the rapid progress of the Reformation itself? 
We will endeavor to answer these questions in the following 

D Aubigne, and those who concur with him, profess to 
believe, or at least endeavor to make others believe, that the 
Reformation was not only sanctioned by God, but that it was 
directly His work. He says : 

" Christianity and the Reformation are, indeed, the same revolution, but 
working at different periods, and in dissimilar circumstances. They differ 
in secondary features they are alike in their first lines, and leading charac- 


teristics. The one is the reappearance of the other. The former closes the 
old order of things the latter begins the new. Between them is the 
middle age. One is the parent of the other ; and if the daughter is in some 
respects inferior, she has, in others, characters altogether peculiar to herself."* 

In opposition to this flattering theory, we will endeavor to 
prove that the Reformation differs from Christianity, not only 
"in secondary features," but also " in its first lines and leading 
characteristics ;" and that, if the former was the daughter of 
the latter, she was a most recreant and degenerate daughter 
truly, with scarcely one lineament in common with her parent. 
Yerily, she had "characters altogether peculiar to herself," 
and she was not only " in some respects," but in almost every 
thing, not only "inferior" to, but the direct opposite, of her 
alleged parent ! 

According to our author, one of these " characters of the 
Reformation peculiar to itself," was " the suddenness of its 
action." He illustrates the rapidity with which the Reforma 
tion was established, by the figure employed by our blessed 
Saviour to denote the suddenness of His second coming : "As 
the lightning cometh forth from the west and shineth to the 
east, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." 
" Christianity," he says, " was one of those revolutions, which 
was slowly and gradually prepared ;" the Reformation, on the 
contrary, was instantaneous in its effect : " A monk speaks, 
and in half of Europe the power and glory [of the Church 
of Rome] crumbles in the dust ! "f This rapidity he views as 
a certain evidence, that the Reformation was assuredly the 
work of God. For " how could an entire people how could 
so many nations, have so rapidly performed so difficult a 
work ? How could such an act of critical judgment [on the 
necessity and measure of the reform] kindle the enthusiasm 
indispensable to great, and especially to sudden revolutions ? 
But the Reformation was a work of a very different kind ; 
and this, its history will prove. It was the pouring forth anew 
of that life which Christianity had brought into the world." J 

* D Aubinge, Preface, p. iv. f Ibid. J Ibid. 


We trust to make it appear in the sequel, that the rapidity 
with which the Reformation was diffused, was the result of 
the pouring forth of a different spirit altogether. Meantime 
we would beg leave to ask D Aubigne to answer this plain 
argument, specially adapted to the case as he puts it : if the 
suddenness of the Reformation be a proof that it was brought 
about by the " pouring forth anew of that life which Christi 
anity had brought into the world ;" would not the contrary 
feature of Christianity its gradual operation* be a conclu 
sive evidence, that this latter system was not the work of 
God? And if tl^is argument be not valid, what truth is 
there in D Aubigne s entire theory ? "Would not his reason 
ing, if reduced to the strict laws of logic, rather prove, on 
the contrary, if it proved any thing, that the Reformation, 
differing avowedly as it does in an essential feature from 
Christianity, was not effected by the agency of the Holy 
Spirit, but was the mere result of violent human passions, 
which usually bring about sudden revolutions, both in the 
religious and in the social system ? 

It is curious to trace the further development of his favor 
ite theory. 

"Two considerations will account for the rapidity and extent of this 
revolution. One of these must be sought in God, the other among men. 
The impulse was given by an unseen hand of power, and the change which 
took place was the work of God. This will be the conclusion arrived at by 
every one who considers the subject with impartiality and attention, and 
does not rest in a superficial view. But the historian has a further office to 
perform God acts by second causes. Many circumstances, which have 
often escaped observation, gradually prepared men for the great transforma 
tion of the sixteenth century, so that the human mind was ripe when the 
hour of its emancipation arrived."! 

ISTow, we have given no little attention to the subject, and 
we claim at least as much impartiality as our historian of 
" the great Reformation ;" and yet, with the facts of history 
before us, we can arrive at no such conclusion, but have 

* This we merely suppose with D Aubigne, who assumes that such is 
the fact f D Aubigne, Preface, p. v. 


reached one precisely contrary. And the reasons which 
have forced us to draw this latter inference are so many and 
so cogent, that we are even under the conviction, that no one 
who will " consider the subject with impartiality and atten 
tion, and does not rest in a superficial view," can fail to agree 
with us. 

In examining the secondary causes, by which God " gradu 
ally prepared men for the great transformation of the sixteenth 
century," our historian assigns a prominent place to the cen 
tral and commanding position of Germany. 

" As Judea, the birth-place of our religion, lay in the centre of the ancient 
world, so Germany was situate in the midst of Christian nations. She 
looked upon the Netherlands, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Hun 
gary, Bohemia, Poland, Denmark, and the whole of the north. It was fit 
that the principle of life should develop itself in the heart of Europe, that 
its pulses might circulate through all the arteries of the body the generous 
blood designed to vivify its members."* 

He alleges the following most singular reasons why Ger 
many was prepared for embracing the Reformation : 

" The Germans had received from Eome that element of modern civiliza 
tion, the faith. Instruction, legislation all, save their courage and their 
weapons, had come to them from the sacerdotal city. Strong ties had from 
that time attached Germany to the Papacy."f Therefore was she " ripe " 
for a rupture with Rome ! This connexion with Rome " made the reaction 
more powerful at the moment of awakening."! 

Again : " The gospel had never been offered to Germany 
in its primitive purity ; the first missionaries who visited the 
country gave to it a religion already vitiated in more than one 
particular. It was a law of the Church, a spiritual discipline, 
that Boniface and his successors carried to the Frisons, the 
Saxons, and other German nations. Faith in the good tid 
ings, that faith which rejoices the heart and makes it free 
indeed, had remained unknown to them." Therefore, when 
Luther and his brother reformers announced these "good 

* D Aubigne, Book i, p. 76. f Ibid., pp. 78, 79. 

t Ibid., p. 79. $ Ibid., p. 78. 


tidings" in all their purity for the first time fraught too with 
endless variations and contradictions The Germans were 
prepared for the " awakening," and received the gospel with 
enthusiasm!! Truly, our fanciful and romantic historian 
loves to reason by contraries, and to startle his readers by 
palpable absurdities ! 

]STo less curious is his reason for explaining why the Italians 
did not receive the new gospel : 

"And if the truth was destined to come from the north, how could the 
Italians, so enlightened, of so refined a taste and social habits, so delicate in 
their own eyes, condescend to receive any thing at the hands of the barba 
rous Germans ? Then- pride, in fact, raised between the Reformation and 
themselves a barrier higher than the Alps. But the very nature of their 
mental culture was a still greater obstacle than the presumption of their 
hearts. Could men, who admired the elegance of a well cadenced sonnet 
more than the majestic simplicity of the Scriptures, be a propitious soil for 
the seed of God s word ? A false civilization is, of all conditions of a nation, 
that which is most repugnant to the gospel."* + 

Those who have read Roscoe s " Life and Pontificate of Leo 
X.," will greatly question the accuracy of this picture of Italian 
civilization. We shall prove in the sequel, that, both before 
and during the time of the Reformation, Italy did much more 
than Germany, to evidence her admiration " for the majestic 
simplicity of the Scriptures." At present we will barely 
remark, that the gist of D Aubigne s theory consists in the 
assertion, that Italy was too enlightened, too refined in taste 
and social habits, too delicate in her own eyes, and conse 
quently too proud and presumptuous to receive the new gos 
pel ; while Germany, being on the contrary, less enlightened, 
less refined, and more corrupt in doctrine and morals, was a 
more genial soil just the one, in fact, which was most " ripe" 
for its reception, and most likely to foster its growth ! "We 
most cheerfully award to him the entire benefit of this novel 
and marvelous speculation on the most suitable means of dis 
posing men s minds for the willing reception of gospel truth. 

* D Aubigne\ Book i, p. 84. 


To confirm this singular theory still further, he thus accounts 
for the singular fact that Spain did not embrace Protestantism : 

" Spain possessed, what Italy did not a serious and noble people, whose 
religious mind has resisted even the stern trial of the eighteenth century, 
and of the revolution (French), and maintained itself to our own days. In 
every age, this people has had among its clergy men of piety and learning, 
and it was sufficiently remote from Rome to throw off without difficulty her 
yoke. There are few nations wherein one might more reasonably have hoped 
for a revival of that primitive Christianity, which Spain had probably received 
from St. Paul himself. And yet Spain did not then stand up among the 
nations. She was destined to be an example of that word of the divine 
wisdom, the first shall be last. "* 

What a pity ! We have little doubt ourselves, that these 
were precisely some of the principal reasons, why Spain did 
not stand up among the nations who revolted against Catho 
licity in the sixteenth century: and her having passed un 
scathed through this fiery ordeal of reckless innovation, may 
also serve to explain to us, how she was enabled " to resist 
even the stern trial of the eighteenth century, and of the 
revolution." Her people were too " serious and too noble," 
their mind was too " religious," and their clergy had too much 
" piety and learning," to allow them to be carried away by 
the novel vagaries of Protestantism. 

Among the " various circumstances which conduced to the 
deplorable result" of her remaining Catholic, D Aubigne 
mentions her "remoteness from Germany," the "heart" of 
Europe "an eager desire after riches" in the new world 
the influence of her "powerful clergy" and her military 
glory, which had just risen to its zenith, after the conquest 
of Grenada and the expulsion of the Moors. In reference to 
this last cause, he asks emphatically : "How could a people 
who had expelled Mohammed from their noble country, allow 
Luther to make way in it ? "f This question is at least charac 
teristic ! Was there then, in the ideas of the serious and 
noble Spaniards, so little difference between Luther and Mo- 

* D Aubigne, Book i, p. 85. f Ibid., p. 86. 


hammed ? And is our philosophic historian half inclined him 
self to think, that they were not so very far out in their logic ! 

"Few countries," he says, "seemed likely to be better 
disposed than France for the reception of the evangelical 
doctrines. Almost all the intellectual and spiritual life of 
the middle ages was concentrated in her. It might have 
been said, that the paths were everywhere trodden for a, 
grand manifestation of the truth."* Perhaps this very pre 
servation of the intellectual and spiritual life of the middle 
ages, was a principal reason why France continued Catholic. 
A little farther on,f he continues : " The (French) people, of 
quick feeling, intelligent, and susceptible of generous emotions, 
were as open, or even more so than other nations, to the truth. 
It seemed as if the Reformation must be, among them, the birth 
which should crown the travail of several centuries. But 
the chariot of France, which seemed for so many generations 
to be advancing to the same goal, suddenly turned at the mo 
ment of the Reformation, and took a contrary direction. Such 
was the will of Him, who rules nations and their kings." We 
greatly admire his pious resignation to the will of God ! This 
sentiment may perhaps console him for his disappointment ; 
" that the augury of ages was deceived," in regard to France.J 
He adds, in the same pious strain: "Perhaps, if she had 
received the gospel, she might have become too powerful ! " 

He winds up his affecting Jeremiad over France with these 
and similar passages : 

" France, after having been almost reformed, found herself, 
in the result, Roman Catholic. The sword of her princes, 
cast into the scale, caused it to incline in favor of Rome. 
Alas ! another sword, that of the reformers themselves, in 
sured the failure of the effort for reformation. The hands 
that had been accustomed to warlike weapons, ceased to be 
lifted up in prayer. It is by the blood of its confessors, not 
by that of its adversaries, that the gospel triumphs. Blood 

* D Aubigne, Book i, p. 86. f Ibid., p. 87. | Ibid. 


shed by its defenders, extinguishes and smothers it."* That 
is, the Reformation sought to establish itself in France by 
violence and by force, and it signally failed !f Elsewhere, as 
we shall see, it was more successful in the employment of such 
carnal weapons. But Protestantism obtained sufficient foot 
hold in France to do incredible mischief for a century and a 
half; and it sowed upon her beautiful soil the fatal seeds 
which, two centuries and a half later, produced the bitter 
fruits of anarchy, infidelity, and bloodshed, during the dread 
ful " reign of terror !" 

Such is the theory of D Aubigne in regard to what we may 
perhaps designate the philosophy of the Reformation ; and we 
now proceed to its refutation ; which is no difficult task, as 
in fact it sufficiently refutes itself. 

* D Aubigne, Book i. p. 87. 

f In our second volume, we shall have occasion to prove, we trust by 
abundant evidence, that this is strikingly true, and that D Aubigne is not 
far wrong in his appreciation of the unsuccessful effort to thrust the Refor 
mation on France. 




Usual plea Abuses greatly exaggerated Three questions put and an 
swered Origin of abuses Free-will unimpaired Councils to extirpate 
abuses Church thwarted by princes and the world Controversy on In 
vestitures Extent of the evil Sale of indulgences St. Peter s Church 
John Tetzel His errors greatly exaggerated Public penance License 
to sin Nature of indulgences Tetzel rebuked and his conduct disavowed 
by Rome Miltitz and Cardinal Cajetan Kindness thrown away Luther 
in tears Efforts of Rome Leo X. and Adrian VI. Their forbearance 
censured by Catholic writers Their tardy severity justified by D Aubigne 
Luther s real purpose The proper remedy The real issue Nullifica 
tion " Curing and cutting a throat " Luther s avowal Admissions of 
the confession of Augsburg and of Daille Summing up. 

THE usual plea for the Reformation is, that it was necessary 
for the correction of the flagrant abuses which had crept into 
the Catholic Church. These are, of course, greatly exaggera 
ted and are painted in the most glowing colors, by D Aubigne, 
and by other writers favorable to the Reformation. He dwells 
with evident complacency on the vices of one or two Popes, 
and of some of the Catholic bishops and clergy, both secular 
and regular, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. He 
represents the whole Church as thoroughly corrupt, and states 
that, but for the efforts of the reformers, religion would have 
perished entirely from the face of the earth. "We have al 
ready seen how he compared the reformers, preaching up 
their new-fangled doctrines among the benighted Roman 
Catholics of the sixteenth century, to the apostles preaching 
the gospel to the pagans of their day ! And how coolly he as 
sured us that the " Reformation was but the re-appearance of 
Christianity ! " We beg to record our solemn protest against 
the gross injustice of this entire view of the subject. 

But we are asked : What ? do you deny the existence of 
abuses in the Catholic Church? Do you deny, that those 


abuses were great and wide spread ? Do you deny, that it 
was proper, and even necessary to correct them? We deny 
none of these things : except that there is an implied exagger 
ation in the second question. We admit the existence of the 
evil complained of, especially about the beginning of the six 
teenth century ; and we deplore it, as sincerely at least, as do 
the opponents of the Catholic Church. A good cause can 
never suffer from candidly avowing the truth, and the whole 
truth. Let genuine history pronounce its verdict as to the 
real facts of the case ; and we at once bow to the decision. 
But what was the origin of the abuses complained of? what 
was their extent? and what was the adequate and proper 
remedy for them ? We will endeavor briefly to answer these 
three questions, which, we apprehend, go to the root of the 
matter under discussion. 

1. It was not the intention of Christ, nor was it the design 
of the Christian religion wholly to prevent the possibility of 
abuses. He willed, indeed, that all men should embrace His 
religion, and reduce its holy principles to practice ; in which 
case, there would have been no disorders nor abuses on the 
face of the earth, and the world would have been an earthly 
paradise, free from all stain of sin. But this state of perfec 
tion could not have been effectually brought about, without 
offering violence to man s free will, which God, in His moral 
government of the world, has ever wished to leave unimpaired. 
Religion was freely offered to mankind, with all its saving 
truths, its holy maxims, its purifying institutions, and its 
powerful sanctions of rewards and punishments in an after 
life. Sufficient grace was also bounteously proffered to all, 
to enable them to learn and believe its doctrines, and to 
observe its commandments. But no one was compelled to 
do either. Even among the twelve chosen apostles, who were 
trained under the immediate eye of Christ, there was one 
" devil." 

Christ himself foresaw and distinctly foretold that scandals 
would come ; but He contented himself with pronouncing a 


" woe on that man by whom the scandal cometh."* In His 
spiritual kingdom, the Church, there was to be cockle, as well 
as the good wheat, and He willed " that both should grow 
until the harvest "f of the general judgment; in which only 
the final separation of the good and evil will take place. Noth 
ing is more foreign to the nature of Christ s Church, than the 
proposition that it was intended only to comprise the elect and 
the just. The struggle between good and evil between truth 
and error between the powers of heaven and the " gates of 
hell" is to go on until the consummation of the world: but 
Christ has pledged His solemn word, that " the gates of hell 
shall not prevail against His Church ; " J and that He will be 
with the body of His pastors and teachers " all days even to 
the consummation of the world." 

Abuses are accordingly known to have existed in all ages 
of the Church, even during her palmiest days. The writings 
of the earliest fathers of St. Cyprian, of Tertullian, of St. 
Ambrose, and St. John Chrysostorn paint them in the most 
glowing colors. The Church never approved of them she 
could not do so even for a day; for Christ had solemnly 
promised to guard her, His own beloved and glorious Spouse, 
" without spot or wrinkle," from falling away from her fidel 
ity by lapsing into or sanctioning error. She bore her con 
stant testimony against them, and labored without intermission 
for their removal. Her eighteen general councils, one for each 
century, and her local ecclesiastical assemblies, almost with 
out number diocesan, provincial, and national, what are 
they all but evidences of this her constant solicitude, and re 
cords of her noble and repeated struggles for the extirpation 
of error and vice ? There is not an error that she has not 
proscribed ; not a vice nor an abuse upon which she has not 
set the seal of her condemnation. She was divinely commis 
sioned for this purpose : and well and fully has she discharged 
the sacred commission. 

* Math, xviii : 7. t IW<L, xiii : 30. 

t Math, xvi : 18. I Ibid., xxviii : 20. 


Whenever she was not opposed nor thwarted in her heav 
enly purpose by the wicked ones of the earth, error and vice 
disappeared before her, like the mist before the rising sun. 
But she had at all times to contend with numerous, and some 
times, from the human point of view, with seemingly insur 
mountable obstacles. This was particularly the case during 
the middle ages. The princes of the earth, especially in Ger 
many, sought, during that whole period, to enslave the Church, 
and to make the bishops the mere subservient instruments of 
their worldly purposes and earthly ambition. This they en 
deavored to effect by making them their vassals, and by 
claiming a right to confer on them even the INSIGNIA of their 
spiritual office. The effect of this last claim was to render the 
appointment of bishops and of the higher clergy, as well as 
the exercise of their spiritual jurisdiction, but too often de 
pendent on the corrupt policy or mischievous whims of the 
secular power. The Roman Pontiffs maintained an arduous 
contest, for centuries, with the emperors of Germany and 
with other princes, against this glaring and wicked usurpa 
tion, fraught as it was with countless evils to the Church, 
which it attacked in the very fountains of her spiritual 
power. The question of Investitures was one of vital 
consequence, of liberty or slavery for the Church. After 
a protracted struggle the Pontiffs succeeded ; but their suc 
cess was neither so complete nor so permanent as the friends 
of the Church could have wished. Emperors, kings, and 
princes, especially those of the Germanic body, had still 
far too much power in the nomination of bishops and of 
the clergy.* 

II. The consequences were most disastrous for the Church. 
Unworthy bishops were often intruded by the German empe 
rors and princes into the principal sees. The example and 
the influence of these were frequently baneful to the charac- 

* This, we think, we have already sufficiently established in the Intro 
ductory chapter to the present volume. 
VOL. I. 10 


ter of the inferior clergy. Owing to the operation of these 
causes, the bishops and clergy of Germany, many of them, 
had greatly degenerated, about the beginning of the sixteenth 
century. Still there were many brilliant exceptions. The 
evil was by no means so general or so wide-spread as it is 
usually represented. We are yet free to avow that it is difficult 
to explain how such large bodies of the clergy abandoned the 
Church in many countries of Europe, in any other supposition 
than that they had sadly degenerated from primitive fervor. 
At the bidding of their prince, or at the prompting of their 
own self-interest, they, in an evil hour, abandoned that Church 
which they had promised to defend, and at whose altars they 
had been solemnly consecrated ! 

The abuse and alleged sale of indulgences afforded the 
principal pretext for the h rst movements of the Reformation. 
The Church had always maintained her power to grant indul 
gences: she never sanctioned, in her official capacity, the 
abuses which, at some times and in some places, grew out of 
the exercise of this power. In the early centuries the canons 
imposed long and painful public penances on certain grievous 
transgressions. A canon of the general Council of Nice, in 
325, had given to the bishops a discretionary power to remit 
the whole or a part of those penances, when the penitent 
manifested special fervor. Other councils made similar enact 
ments. During the middle ages the rigor of the ancient peni 
tential system was greatly softened down : and the penances 
themselves were often commuted into alms or other pious 

About the beginning of the sixteenth century, Leo X. de 
termined to push forward to completion a project conceived 
by his predecessor Julius II., of erecting in Rome a Christian 
temple, which should far surpass, in dimensions and magnifi 
cence, any thing that the world had ever yet seen. The 
origination of the plan of St. Peter s church was an idea 
worthy the mind of these magnificent Pontiffs ; and its erec 
tion, which they commenced, is one among the noblest monu- 


ments to their fame.* To promote an object so splendid, Leo 
promulgated a bull, in which he promised ample indulgences 
to all who would contribute to so laudable an undertaking. 
And, if there were no other proof of the utility of indulgences, 
the erection of that splendid temple, mainly due to them, is a 
monument which would go far towards removing every cavil 
on the subject. No one can enter that church without being 
forcibly impressed with the majesty of God and the gran 
deur of the Christian religion. To borrow the idea of a 
modern poet, his soul, on passing its portals and casting 
a glance at its immense and almost sublime proportions 
and marvelous symmetry, becomes " as colossal as the build 
ing itself!" 

Albert, archbishop of Mayence and Magdeburg, was ap 
pointed by the Pontiff to carry out the intentions of the bull 

* Of Julius II. and Leo X. much has been written which is favorable, and 
much also that is unfavorable to their character as Pontiffs, if not as men. 
By some they have been represented as worldly-minded, and as being too 
much guided by earthly policy. Few, if any writers of respectability, no 
matter how prejudiced, have ventured a word against their moral character. 
Both were distinguished patrons of learning ; both were men of enlarged 
minds and liberal views. Even the prejudiced Menzel says of Leo, that "he 
was free from personal vices." (Vol. ii, p. 219.) The eulogy pronounced 
on him by Koscoe, the liberal minded English Protestant historian of his 
pontificate, is well known. Of Julius II. this same writer says : " His vigor 
ous and active mind corresponded with the restless spirit of the times, his 
ambition was not the passion of a groveling mind, nor were the advantages 
he sought of a temporary or personal nature. To establish the authority of 
the Holy See throughout Europe, to recover the dominions of the Church, to 
expel all foreign powers from Italy, and to restore that country to the 
dominion of its native princes, were the vast objects of his comprehensive 
mind. And these objects he lived to a great degree to accomplish." (Eos- 
coe, Life, etc., of Leo X., p. 291 ; quoted in Dublin Eeview, for September, 1855.) 
If as a temporal prince he went to war, contrary to the example set him by 
his predecessors, it was for high and noble purposes ; to drive the foreign 
intruder from Italy, and to establish, along with Italian independence, the 
rights of his See and throne. It is refreshing to see Protestant writers like 
Eoscoe and Voigt stepping forth to defend the Eoman Pontiffs. 


in Germany. He nominated John Tetzel, a Dominican friar, 
to be the chief preacher of the indulgences. We have no 
mission to defend the extravagances imputed to this man. To 
us it appears that much injustice has been done him, and that 
his errors have been greatly exaggerated by his enemies. He 
seems to have been in the main a good man, with perhaps not 
an over stock of prudence or discretion. The magnificent 
terms in which he set forth the utility and efficacy of the in 
dulgences should have been explained, in common justice, 
according to the well known doctrine and practice of the 
Church on the subject.* 

One thing is certain, that the abuses of which he is accused 
were not authorized by the Church or the Pontiff. Even 
D Aubigne, surely an unexceptionable witness, tells us as 
much. He admits that, " in the Pope s bull, something was 
said of the repentance of the heart and the confession of the 
lips :" but he adds that " Tetzel and his companions cautiously 
abstained from all mention of these, otherwise their coffers 
might have remained empty ;"f and that this omission was in 
consequence of instructions from Archbishop Albert, "who 
forbade them even to mention conversion or contrition ."{ 
And yet, on the same page, he acknowledges that confession, 
which necessarily presupposes conversion and contrition of 
heart, was a prerequisite to the granting of the indulgence ! 

* Menzel says, that he carried about a money box, on which was written 
what has been elegantly done into English as follows : 

"As the money in you pop, . 
The souls from Purgatory hop." 

Ibid. p. 221. 

This retailing of vulgar gossip in doggerel verse, and without any sufficient 
authority, is unworthy a grave historian. The contribution of alms for a 
religious or charitable purpose was a usual condition for gaining Indulgences, 
which might profit not only the one who fulfilled all the conditions, but also, 
by way of suffrage or prayer, the souls suffering in purgatory. It is highly 
probable that Tetzel did not go further than this, and that most of the clamor 
against him was raised by his enemies. 

f D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 214. J Ibid., p. 215. 

TETZEL. 117 

" Confession being gone through (and it was Boon dispatched), 
the faithful hastened to the vender."* 

We have strong reason to object to this term vender: the 
granting of the indulgence, even according to the avowedly 
unauthorized practice of Tetzel,f did not justify the idea of a 
sale or traffic, properly so called. The offering made on the 
occasion was entirely free : those who were unable to con 
tribute any thing, still obtained the coveted boon ; and those 
who were able, contributed according to their ability or will, 
no fixed amount being determined. All that even D Aubigne 
asserts on this subject is, that " an angry look was cast on 
those who dared to close their purses."J When Protestant 
preachers take up collections at the close of their sermons, for 
the support of themselves, and of their wives and children, 
can it be said with propriety, that they sell their sermons for 
the amounts thus contributed, even should it happen that 
those sums more than equaled the value received, and that 
they cast angry looks on those who do not bestow ? But the 
questors of indulgences did not go thus far, even according to 
the showing of our very prejudiced historian. He tell us, 
" that the hand that delivered the indulgence could not 
receive the money: that was forbidden under the severest 

He even admits, that, notwithstanding the boasted efficacy 
of the indulgences, public penance was still enjoined by 
Tetzel and his associates, for offenses which had given public 
scandal. " If, among those who pressed into the confession 
als, there came one whose crimes had been public, and yet 
untouched by the civil laws, such person was obliged, first of 
all, to do public penance."|| Did this look like patronizing 
vice ? Was it not rather a salutary restraint on guilt, imposed 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 215. 

f If such was really his practice, which is doubtful. 
\ D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 216. \ Ibid. 

|| Ibid. True, he calls this a " wretched mummery," because Protestants 
can not, or will not, understand or appreciate these works of penance! 


as a condition for obtaining the indulgence ? The very nature 
of the indulgence itself, and the conditions always required 
to obtain it, and clearly set forth in this very bull of Leo X., 
far from favoring sin, or being an incentive to its commission, 
necessarily operated as a powerful curb to passion and a 
stimulant to repentance and piety: its blessed effects being 
promised only to those who were truly penitent, and were 
desirous at least of becoming fervent. An indulgence is 
merely a sequel to the sacrament of penance : it removes only 
the temporal penalty, which may remain due, after the sin 
itself and the eternal punishment due to it have been already 
remitted : and, according to its very nature, it can not take 
effect, until all grievous sin has been already pardoned 
through sincere repentance and the sacrament of penance. 
It offers then, essentially, a most powerful inducement to re 
pentance and amendment of life ; it gives no encouragement 
to lukewarmness. 

The acts of Tetzel were officially disavowed by the repre 
sentative of the Roman court. In 1519, Charles Miltltz, the 
papal envoy, openly rebuked him for his conduct in the affair 
of the indulgences ; and even charged him with having been 
the occasion of most of the troubles which during the pre 
vious two years had afflicted Germany.* He, however, con 
demned the friar unheard, relying chiefly upon the exagger 
ated representations of his enemies. He would not even 
allow the Dominican to defend himself against the grievous 
charges brought against him by Luther, f Among these was 
the accusation, that he had uttered horrid blasphemies against 
the Blessed Virgin Mary. In a letter to Miltitz, Tetzel indig 
nantly repelled this charge : but the spirit of the monk was 
broken ; and he died soon after, most probably of chagrin. 
Most writers of impartiality blame the conduct of the papal 

These are not in accordance with their refined taste and exquisite sense of 
the amenities scattered along the way of salvation ! 

* D Aubingne, vol. ii, p. 16. 

f See Audin, "Life of Luther," p. 89, 90. 


envoy, who immoderately flattered Luther on the one hand, 
and sacrificed Tetzel on the other.* His motive, however, 
was a good one : to conciliate Luther by removing all reason 
able causes of complaint, and thus to heal the schism with 
which the refractory monk menaced the Church of God. 

But Miltitz did not know his man. All conciliation was 
entirely thrown away on him. The learned and amiable Car 
dinal Cajetan, a year before, had made the attempt to win 
him by kindness, in the interview they had at Augsburg. 
Luther was affected even unto tears by this goodness ; and, at 
the close of the conference, he addressed the cardinal nuncio 
in the following strain : " I return to you, my father ! . . . . 
I am moved. I have no more fear : my fear is changed into 
love and filial respect ; you might have employed force, but 
you have chosen persuasion and charity. Yes, I avow it now ; 
I have been violent and hostile, and have spoken irreverently 
of the Pope. I was provoked to these excesses ; but I should 
have been more guarded on so serious a question, and, in an 
swering a fool, I should have avoided imitating his folly. I 
am affected and penitent, and ask for pardon. I will acknowl 
edge my repentance to whoever wishes to hear it declared. 
For the future, I promise you, father, to speak and act other 
wise than I have done : God will assist me ; I will speak no 
more of indulgences, provided you impose silence on all those 
who have involved me in these difficulties. ^ He concludes 
this letter with the following sentence : " I beseech you then, 
with all humility, to report this whole affair to our holy father, 
Pope Leo X., that the Church may decide on what is to be 
believed, and what is to be rejected. "J And yet, but a few 
weeks later, he published an inflammatory tract, in which he 
complained bitterly of the severity of Cajetan, spoke harshly 
of the Pope, and appealed to a general council.^ We have 
already seen how, while he promised every thing to Miltitz, 

* See Audin, " Life of Luther," p. 89, 90. f Apud Audin, ibid., p. 81. 

I Ibid. J Lutheri Opera, Tom, i, fol. 217. Audin, p. 85, seqq. 


he laughed, in letters to his private friends, at the " crocodile 
tears" and "Judas-like kiss" of that weak and duped nuncio! 

The reformation of abuses in the matter of indulgences 
was but a pretext : the real motives of Luther and his parti 
sans were very different, as the result proved. The Pope, 
through his legates, had done every thing that could have 
been reasonably asked for the removal of the evils complained 1 
of. If the court of Rome was guilty of any fault, it was that 
of excessive leniency to Luther, and of too great a spirit of 
conciliation towards his partisans.* This was especially true 
of the good Adrian VI., who succeeded Leo X. in the pontifi 
cate, early in the year 1522.f He immediately set about the 
work of reform with great zeal, both at Rome and in Ger 
many. He took from the questors the power of distributing 
indulgences. In the diet of Nuremberg, in 1522, he offered, 
through his legate, Cheregat, to reform every abuse.J 

How were his advances met? They were repaid by 

* Pallavicino censures Leo X. for his excessive forbearance with Luther, 
and for having commissioned Doctor Eck to publish the bull against him in 
Germany. (Storia del Cone, di Trento cap. xxv.) Muratori joins in the 
censures: "Papa Leone, che ruminando alti pensieri di gloria mondana, e 
piu che agli affari della religione agonizante in Germania pensando all in- 
grandimento della chiesa temporale." (Annali, vol. x, p. 245.) Audin ably 
defends the Pontiff, p. 115. 

t Adrian was a Fleming, and he had been preceptor of Charles V., who 
had been elected emperor of Germany but a short time previously. The 
fifth general Council of Lateran, held under his predecessor Leo, had 
already done much towards eradicating abuses, of which its various canons 
are a satisfactory evidence. The assembled fathers with the Pontiff had the 
sagacity to discover and the boldness to strike at the very root of almost 
all the then existing disorders; namely the usurpation by the temporal 
power of the sacred rights of the Church to appoint her own bishops and 
clergy. In condemning the principles of the Pragmatic Sanction, they laid 
the axe at the root of the fatal tree, which had produced fruit so very 
poisonous to the atmosphere of the Church. But this was not the kind of 
reformation which the princes of the earth sought or aimed at ! 

| "Neuere Geschichte der Deutschen, .von Karl Ad. Menzel," a Protest 
ant. T. i. Apud Audin, p. 280. 


triumphant insult and indignity. The diet, under Lutheran 
influence, drew up an inflammatory paper containing the 
famous Centum Gravamina or "hundred grievances" 
fraught with unfounded and highly exaggerated charges 
against Eome. And yet the good Pontiff did not return 
railing for railing. He still promised to do every thing in his 
power to remove all causes of reasonable complaint. This 
saintly Pontiff, "who thought not of evil, and of whom the 
world was not worthy," according to the testimony of a Pro 
testant historian,* died of a broken heart after the return of 
Cheregat. All the poor of Rome followed his hearse, and 
bewailed him: they said, "our father is dead!" While it 
passed, the people knelt down and burst into tears. Never 
had funeral pomp called forth so deep a feeling.f 

What, in fact, could Rome have done, which she did not 
do, to redress every reasonable grievance, and to carry out 
every necessary measure of reform ? Did the reformers ask 
for forbearance ? Rome was perhaps too forbearing. Did 
they wish for a spirit of conciliation ? Rome descended from 
her lofty dignity, and met them half way ; and then they 
rudely repulsed her advances ! Even D Aubigne* praises the 
forbearance of Leo X., and the "equity of the Romish 
synod," which prepared the bull against Luther. J He adds : 

" In fact, Rome was brought into the necessity of having recourse to 
measures of stern severity. The gauntlet was thrown down, the combat 
must be to the death. It was not the abuses of the Pontiffs authority, that 
Luther had attacked. At his bidding, the Pope was required to descend 
meekly from his throne, and become again a simple pastor or bishop on the 
banks of the Tiber! " 

Had Luther sought only the truth, why did he so often 
consent to preserve silence, if the same obligation were im 
posed on his adversaries? Was this conduct worthy the 
apostle of reform, and the boasted champion of the gospel 

* Adolph Menzel, supra, Tom. i, p. 3. Apud Audin, p. 282. 
f Audin, ibid. J D Aubigne, vol. ii, p. 101. 

5 Ibid., p. 97. This is a most significant avowal. 
VOL. I. 11 


in its purity ? If he sought only truth, why did he not abide 
by the decisions of those numerous tribunals, to whose author 
ity he himself had voluntarily appealed, as the most suit 
able and final arbiters of the matters in dispute ? Why after 
wards abuse them so intemperately, for having decided 
against him ? The truth is, the love of truth and the reform 
of abuses were but shallow pretexts ; the successive appeals 
just alluded to, were but crafty expedients to gain time : 
the real object was separation from the Church, and the form 
ing of a schismatical party, of which he would be the leader ; 
while his own immediate sovereign, the elector of Saxony, 
and the other German princes and nobles, would be enriched 
from the abundant spoils of the old Church, which was to be 
destroyed to make way for the new. As we shall show a 
little further on, all the facts of history point to this, as the 
only rational method of accounting for the movement and ex 
plaining its success. 

III. One of those tribunals to which Luther had appealed 
the general Council of Trent subsequently adopted every 
possible measure, that discreet zeal could have asked, for the 
reformation of abuses. By far the larger portion of its 
decrees are devoted to the work of reformation.* On the 
subject of indulgences, the council employs this emphatic 
language : " "Wishing to correct and amend the abuses which 
have crept into them, and on occasion of which, this signal 
name of indulgences is blasphemed by heretics, the holy 
synod enjoins in general by the present decree, that all 
wicked traffic for obtaining them, which has been the fruitful 
cause of many abuses among the Christian people, should be 
wholly abolished."f The same decree recommends great 

* They are headed, de Reformatione, and make up, perhaps, more than 
three fourths of the whole matter of the council. 

f Sessio xxv. Decret. de Indulg. " Abusus vero, qui in his irrepserunt, 
et quorum occasione insigne hoc Indulgentiarum nomen ab hsereticis blas- 
phematur, emendatos et correctos cupiens, praesenti decreto generaliter sta- 
tuit, pravos qurestus omnes pro his consequendis, unde plurima in Christiano 
populo abusuum causa fluxit, omnino abolendos esse." 


moderation in the granting of indulgences, and directs the 
bishops throughout the world diligently to inquire into and to 
refer all local abuses in this matter to provincial councils, 
which were to be thenceforth held every three years, and 
were to report their decisions to the Roman Pontiff. Could 
any w r iser or more effectual measure of reform have been 
reasonably demanded ? 

Mr. Hallam, a witness whose authority will not be SUB 
pected, bears ample testimony to the learning and merit of 
the Tridentine fathers. After having refuted at some length 
" a strange notion that has been started of late years in Eng 
land, that the Council of Trent made important innovations 
in the previously established doctrines of the western Church : 
an hypothesis," he says, " so paradoxical in respect to public 
opinion, and, it must be added, so prodigiously at variance 
with the known facts of ecclesiastical history, that we can 
not but admire the facility with which it has been taken up ;" 
he thus continues : 

" No council ever contained so many persons of eminent learning and 
ability as that of Trent ; nor is there ground for believing that any other 
ever investigated the questions before it with so much patience, acuteness, 
temper, and desire of truth. The early councils, unless they are greatly 
belied (as is very probably the case,) would not bear comparison in these char 
acteristics. Impartiality and freedom from prejudice no Protestant will 
attribute to the fathers of Trent ; but where will he produce these qualities 
in an ecclesiastical synod ? But it may be said, that they had but one lead 
ing prejudice, that of determining theological faith according to the tradition 
of the Catholic Church, as handed down to their own age. This one point 
of .authority conceded, I am not aware that they can be proved to have 
decided wrong, or, at least, against all reasonable evidence. Let those who 
have imbibed a different opinion ask themselves, whether they have read 
Sarpi through with any attention, especially as to those sessions of the Tri 
dentine council which preceded its suspension in 1547."* 

The history of the Council of Trent by Cardinal Pallavicino, 
which Hallam acknowledges he never read, would greatly 
confirm this conclusion. All previous councils, both general 

* Introduction to the History of Literature, vol. i, p. 277, note. 


and local, had adopted measures for reform, marked with 
similar wisdom and zeal. Many of the decrees of the general 
Council of Constance, in the beginning of the fifteenth cen 
tury, as well as those of the Council of Basle,* towards the 
middle of the same century, had been distinguished by the 
same earnest solicitude for the correction of abuses. D Au- 
bigne is forced to admit this. " Had not gentler means been 
tried for ages ? Had they not seen council after council con 
voked with the intention of reforming the Church !"f True, 
he adds, without however even the shadow of proof, that " all 
had been in vain."J He also asserts against all evidence, 
that Martin Y., who was chosen Pontiff at the Council of 
Constance, A. D. 1418, with the express stipulation, that he 
should carry out the measures of reform commenced by the 
council, subsequently refused to redeem his pledge. But did 
not this Pontiff convoke councils for the purpose successively 
at Pavia, Sienna, and Basle ? And was it his fault that his 
intentions were not fully carried out ? Was it not rather the 
fault of those, who, while always clamoring for reformation, 
were really averse to its being brought about in the only con 
servative and effectual manner ? Unless all history is false, 
this is certainly the case. 

The controversy, in fact, did not turn so much on the neces 
sity of reform, as on the means best calculated to bring it 
about. There were two ways of reforming abuses in the 
Church ; the one from within^ the other from without / 
the one by gentle and legal means, the other by lawless 
violence. The Catholics were in favor of the former, the 
Protestants of the latter mode. The former wished to re 
main in the Church, which Christ had commanded them to 
hear, and to labor therein for the extirpation of abases ; 
the latter separated from the Church, and covered it 

* Before it degenerated into a schismatical conventicle, during the last 
sessions, especially after the tenth. 

f D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 104. \ Ibid. \ Ibid. p. 56. 


with obloquy, agairist the solemn injunction of its divine 

Were not the Catholics right in urging this, as the only safe 
and effectual method of reforming the Church ? Had they not 
clearly the sanction of all previous ages, which, following the 
precedent set them by the inspired Apostles themselves in the 
council at Jerusalem, had ever sought to proscribe error and to 
correct abuses, by legal enactments in general or particular 
councils ? And did not the Protestants, on the contrary, fol 
low the precedent set them by the separatists and heretics of 
every age of the Church ? What real difference is there, in 
the principle, between the Lutherans protesting against the 
decisions of the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, and 
the Arians, against those of the Council of Nice, in the fourth ? 

Besides, were not reason and logic clearly on the side of 
the Catholics ? Which is the proper way to cure a sick pa 
tient ; to remain with him, and to administer to him medicine, 
or to separate from him, and to denounce him for his malady ? 
Which is the preferable way to repair an edifice ; to remain 
within or near it, and to labor patiently to re-establish it in 
its former strength and beauty, or to leave it and bedaub its 
walls with mud and slime ? Finally, which would be the 
better patriot : he who would remain faithful to the republic, 
and patiently await the progress of legal enactments for the 
redress of grievances, or he who would nullify the union 
under pretext of those grievances ? Let the seal of public 
reprobation set upon a recent attempt of the kind in which 
the principle of disorganization was precisely the same as 
that which urged the reformers to nullify the unity of the 
Church answer this question. An old Protestant divine of 
the Church of England, illustrates the evil of separation from 
the Church, under pretext of reforming it, by the following 
quaint comparison : " You may cure a throat when it is sore, 
but not when it is cut"* 

* South Sermons ; vol. v, p. 946. Edit. London, 1737, quoted in the 
Amicable Discussion, by Bishop Trevern. 


Luther himself avowed the correctness of these principles, 
about two years after he had commenced his pretended Ref 

"That the Roman Church," he says, "is more honored by God than all 
others, is not to be doubted. St. Peter, St. Paul, forty-six popes, some hun 
dreds of thousands of martyrs, have laid down their lives in its communion, 
having overcome hell and the world ; so that the eyes of God rest on the 
Roman Church with special favor. Though now-a-days every thing is in a 
wretched state, it is no ground for separating from it. On the contrary, the 
worse things are going, the more should we hold close to it ; for it is not by 
separation from it that we can make it better. We must not separate from 
God on account of any work of the devil, nor cease to have fellowship with 
the children of God, who are still abiding in the pale of Rome, on account 
of the multitude of the ungodly. There is no sin, no amount of evil, which 
should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity, or break the unity of 
the body. For love can do all things, and nothing is difficult to those who 
are united."* 

Sentiments almost worthy of a Gregory VII., or of a Ber 
nard! Had he persevered in them had he not, with his 
accustomed duplicity or fickleness, substituted, almost imme 
diately afterwards, a principle of hatred for that principle of 
love " which can do all things," the world might never have 
been cursed with the countless evils of schism and heresy. 

The sentiments of Luther just given were re-echoed even 
in the confession of Augsburg, the official expositor of Lu 
theran doctrines.f In the conclusion of its exposition of 

* Lutheri Opera Lat. torn, xvii, p. 224 Apud D Aubigne, ii, 18, 19. 

f- In the conference at Augsburg, a large portion of the Lutherans, under 
the leadership of Melancthon, sought for a return to unity through a recon 
ciliation with the Holy See. Their efforts were, however, sternly opposed 
and rendered wholly abortive by Luther, who would hear of no reunion 
with Rome. When Melancthon urged the measure, by alleging the endless 
contradictions into which the champions of the new doctrines would other 
wise fall, and by even venturing timidly to point out the doctrinal varia 
tions and inconsistencies of Luther himself, his imperious master answered 
in the following characteristic strain : 

" My adversaries quote my contradictions to make a parade of their learn 
ing ; blockheads that they are ! How can they judge of the contradictions 
of our doctrines, who do not understand the texts which clash with each 


faith, it is freely admitted, that the Roman Catholic Church 
had retained every article of doctrine essential to salvation, 
and that the abuses which had crept in were unauthorized, 
and afforded no sufficient cause for separation. " Such is the 
abridgment of our faith, in which nothing will be found con 
trary to Scripture, or to the Catholic Church, or even to the 
Roman Church, as far as we can know it from its writers. 
The dispute turns upon some few abuses, which have been 
introduced into the churches without any certain authority / 
and should there be found some difference, that should be 
borne with, since it is not necessary that the rites of the 
Church should be everywhere the same."* Even the Calviri- 
ist minister of Charenton, Daille, much as he hated the Cath 
olic Church, makes a similar avowal. After having enume 
rated those articles of his belief, which he is pleased to call 
fundamental, he says : " Rome does not call in question the 
articles which we believe ; it even professes to believe them. 
"Who can deny, even in our day, that Rome admits the neces 
sary articles ?"f "Why then separate from her ? 

Hitherto we have treated of the origin and extent of the 
evils which afforded the reformers a pretext for the Reforma 
tion ; and we have also endeavored to point out the only ef 
fectual and proper means for correcting abuses, and for pre 
serving the Church in that purity which the promises of 
Christ have guarantied to her, and to show what was the only 

other ? How can our doctrine appear to them otherwise than embarrassed 
with contradictions, when it demands and condemns works, rejects and 
authorizes the necessity of rites, honors and censures the magistracy, affirms 
and denies sin ? But why carry water to the sea ? Cum simul exigat et 
damnet opera, simul tollat et restituat ritus, simul magistratum colat et ar- 
p;uut, simul peccata asserat et neget? Sed quid aquas in mare?" Apud 
Audin, in loco. Epist. Melancthoni, 20 Jul. 1520. 

How, indeed, could any one be expected to reconcile these palpable con 
tradictions of the arch-reformer ! 

* Art. xxi. Anno Dom. 1530. Confessio Augustana. See also Audin, 
vol. ii, p. 337, London edition, Turnbull s translation. 

f " Institut. Chr^tiennes," 1. iv, ch. ii, and " La Loi fondee, part. iii. 


true method of solving the great problem of the sixteenth 
century. We will now proceed to examine the means really 
adopted by the reformers for that alleged purpose, as well to 
exhibit the true motives which prompted and guided their 
action ; and through these we will endeavor to account for 
the rapidity with which the Reformation was diffused over a 
large portion of Europe. 



Saying of Frederick the Great What we mean to prove Testimony of 
Hallam Doctrines of Luther Justification without works Its dreadful 
consequences avowed The " slave- will " Man, a beast with two riders 
Dissuasive from celibacy An easy way to heaven D Aubigne s discreet 
silence Testimony of the Diet of Worms on Luther s doctrines An old 
lady emancipated Protection of princes Schlegel s testimony The 
reformers flatter princes and pander to their vices Remarkable avowals 
of Menzel The Reformation and state policy The princes become 
bishops A reformed dispensation Character of reformed princes Their 
cupidity Fed by Luther Protestant restitution Open violence and 
sacrilegious spoliation The modus operandi of the Reformation Schlegel 
again Abuse of the press Vituperation and calumny Policy of Lu 
ther s marriage Apostate monks Recapitulation A distinction The 
Reformation "a reappearance of Christianity." 

believe it was Frederick the Great of Prussia, who was 
the author of the well-known saving: "That pride and ava 
rice had caused the Reformation in Germany, lawless love in 
England, and the love of novelty in France." Perhaps the 
greatest severity of this remark, is its strict historic truth. 
It, of course, was intended merely to designate the first and 
most prominent among a variety of other causes. William 
Cobbett has proved and whatever may have been said by his 
opponents of his character and reliability as a witness, no one 


has yet disputed his facts or answered his arguments that 
in England, the first cause alluded to above, was powerfully 
aided by cupidity, which fattened on the rich spoils of the 
Church, and by the reckless pride of ascendency, which rev- 
eled in, and was cemented by the blood of vast numbers of 
innocent victims, whose only crime was their conscientious 
adherence to the religion of their fathers. 

We will present a mass of evidence to prove, that in Ger 
many, the Reformation, which was commenced in the pride 
of revolt, was fed and kept alive by avarice and licentious 
ness, was propagated by calumny, by violence, and by pan 
dering to the worst passions, and was consummated and ren 
dered permanent by the fostering care of secular princes, 
without whose protection it would have died away and come 
to naught. This is strong language ; but it is more than jus 
tified by the facts of history : not indeed as those facts have 
been travestied, miscolored, and perverted by such partial 
writers as D Aubigne ; but, as they are clearly set forth by 
contemporary historians, and as they appear in the original 
documents. We shall allege only such facts as are undoubted 
and clearly established from these sources. 

But before we adduce this evidence, let us see what a very 
learned and enlightened modern Protestant historian thinks on 
this subject, to the investigation of which he has devoted 
much time and labor. Mr. Hallam gives us the result of his 
researches in the following passages, which we quote from 
his latest work : 

" Whatever may be the bias of our minds as to the truth of Luther s doc 
trines, we should be careful, in considering the Reformation as a part of the 
history of mankind, not to be misled by the superficial and ungrounded 
representations which we sometimes find in modern writers (D Aubigne for 
example). Such is this, that Luther, struck by the absurdity of the pre 
vailing superstitions, was desirous of introducing a more rational system of 
religion ; or, that he contended for freedom of inquiry, and the boundless 
privileges of individual judgment ; or, what others have been pleased to 
suggest, that his /eal for learning and ancient philosophy led him to attack 
the ignorance of the monks and the crafty policy of the church, which with- 


stood all liberal studies. These notions are merely fallacious refinements, 
as every man of plain understanding (except, perhaps, D Aubigne) who is 
acquainted with the writings of the early reformers, or has considered their 
history, must acknowledge."* 

In another place, the same candid Protestant historian has 
this remarkable passage : 

" The adherents to the Church of Rome have never failed to cast two 
reproaches on those who left them : one, that the reform was brought about 
by intemperate and caluminous abuse, by outrages of an excited populace, or by 
the tyranny of princes ; the other, that, after stimulating the most ignorant 
to reject the authority of their Church, it instantly withdrew this liberty of 
judgment, and devoted all who presumed to swerve from the line drawn by 
law to virulent obloquy, and sometimes to bonds and death. These 
reproaches, it may be a shame to us to own, can be uttered and can not be 
refuted." f 

After making this painful avowal, he enters upon a labored 
argument to prove that the Reformation could have succeeded 
by no other means !J The reformers, as we have seen, were 
not content with clamoring for the reform of abuses : they 
laid violent hands on the sacred deposit of the faith itself. 
Like Oza of old, they put forth their hands to the ark of God, 
mindless of Oza s awful fate! Under the plea that the 
Catholic Church had fallen into numerous and fatal doctrinal 
errors, and that the Reformation could not be thorough with 
out the removal of these, they rejected many doctrines which 
the whole world had hitherto revered as the revelation of 
God ; and they substituted in their place new tenets, which 
they professed to find more conformable to the word of God. 
This is not the place to examine whether these new doctrines 
are true ; all that our plan calls for at present, is to inquire 
what those doctrines were, and what was their practical bear 
ing on the work of the Reformation ? "Were they really cal- 

* Introduction to the History of Literature. Sup. Cit. vol. i, p. 165. 
sec. 60-61. 

f Ibid., p. 200, sec. 34. As we shall have occasion to show a little 
further on, this avowal rests on the facts of sober history, as related by 
Protestants themselves. f Ibid. 2 Kings ( 1 Samuel) vi : 6. 


ciliated to exercise an influence beneficial to morals and to 
society ? Were they adequate means to reform the Church ? 
As it would be tedious to exhibit even a brief summary of 
all the contradictory tenets held by the early reformers, or 
even by the early Lutherans themselves, we must confine 
ourselves to those broached and defended by Luther, the 
boasted father and founder of the Reformation. And we 
shall state nothing for which we will not exhibit chapter and 
verse from his own writings.* 

The leading tenet of Luther s doctrine was, a belief in jus 
tification by faith alone without works. This is the key to his 
entire system. Let us see the modest way in which he asserts 
this doctrine, one that he always styled a fundamental article. 

"Well, then, I, Dr. Martin Luther, an unworthy evangelist of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, do confess this article, that faith alone without works justifies 
in the sight of God ; and I declare that, in spite of the emperor of the 
Romans, the emperor of the Turks, the emperor of the Tartars, the em 
peror of the Persians, the Pope, all the cardinals, bishops, priests, monks, 
nuns, kings, princes, nobles, all the world, and all the devils, it shall stand 
unshaken forever ! That, if they will persist in opposing this truth, they 
will draw upon their heads the flames of hell. This is the true and holy 
gospel, and the declaration of me, Doctor Luther, according to the light 
given to me by the Holy Ghost." f 

This declaration was made in 1531 ; and, according to 
D Aubigne, who quotes Seckendorf, Luther s most ardent 
admirer, he received this new light of the Holy Ghost while 
visiting " Pilate s stair-case " J in Rome, a few years before he 

* Some of the modern editions of Luther s works have been greatly 
expurgated by his admirers. We shall quote from the oldest and most 
authentic editions, those of Wittenberg, of Jena, of Frankfort, of Altenberg, 
of Leipsic, and Geneva. That of Wittenberg was put forth by the imme 
diate disciples of Luther. We generally quote through Audin or D Aubigne, 
unless the contrary be indicated, in loco. 

f Glossa in Edict. Imperiale. Opera Lat. torn. xx. Apud D Aubigne, i, 

| Properly called the "scala santa," or "holy stairway;" from having 
been once consecrated by the Saviour s footsteps, while he was entering into 
the pretorium, to be judged by Pilate. 


turned reformer. This we, however, apprehend was an after 
thought. Certain it is that, to get rid of the conclusive argu 
ment against this cardinal doctrine drawn from the Epistle of 
St. James, he rejected this Epistle "as one of straw;" and 
that, to confirm this his favorite principle still more, he boldly 
corrupted the text of St. Paul (Romans iii : 28) " For we 
account a man to be justified by faith without the works of 
the law" by adding the word alone after faith: and that, 
when challenged on the subject, he made this characteristic 
reply: "So I will so I order. Let my will stand for a 
reason."* So much had he this doctrine at heart ! 

He pushed this tenet to the utmost extremes, and boldly 
avowed all the consequences which logically flowed there 
from. With him, faith was every thing; works were no 
thing. On the 1st of August, 1521, he wrote from the Wart- 
burg a letter to Melancthon, from which the following is an 
extract: "Sin, and sin boldly; but let your faith be greater 
than your sin. It is enough for us, through the riches of the 
glory of God, to have known the Lamb of God who takes 
away the sin of the world. Sin will not destroy in us the 
reign of the Lamb, although we were to commit fornication 
or murder a thousand times in one day."f In his " Treatise 
on Christian Liberty," which he sent along with a most brutal 
letter to Leo X., J in 1520, " as a pledge of his filial piety and 
love," he lays down the following as doctrines founded on the 
gospel : " The incompatibility of faith with works, which he 

* " Sic volo, sic jubeo, stat pro ratione voluntas." He added : "I wish I 
had also said, without any of the works, of all laws ! " 

f " Sufficit quod agnovimus per divitias gloriae Dei Agnum qui tollit pec- 
catum mundi : ab hoc non avellet nos peccatum etiamsi millies uno die ibr- 
nicemur aut occidamus." Epist. Melanc. 1 Aug. 1521. Apud Audin, p. 178. 

| See this savage letter in Audin, p. 110, 111. It was written before the 
papal bull had been issued, shortly after his conference with Miltitz, in which 
he had given and received the kiss of peace ! ! This truculent epistle was 
dated April 6, 1520, whereas the bull of excommunication was dated on tlje 
15th of June following. This is clearly proved by Roscoe and Audin. See 
Dublin Review, art. Luther, for Sept., 1855. 


regarded as so many sins ; the subjection of the creature to 
the demon, even when he endeavors to escape from him; and 
his identification with sin, even when he rises towards his 
Creator, when his hand distributes alms, when his lips open to 
pray, or invoke a blessing, and even when he weeps and re 
pents, he sins : for, says he, all that is in us is crime, sin, 
damnation, and man can do nothing good. "*" On the con 
trary, sin is not imputed to those who have faith : " Because," 
says he, "although I have sinned, Christ who is within me 
has not sinned : this Christ, in whom I believe, acts, thinks, 
and lives in me, and alone accomplishes the law."f 

Another cardinal doctrine of Luther s, much akin to this, 
was the denial of free will, and the assertion that all our ac 
tions are the result of stern fatalism. He wrote a work ex 
pressly on " the slave will," J and carried on a rude controversy 
with Erasmus on this subject. His principles in this respect 
are explicitly, openly, and unblushingly avowed. According 
to him, free will is incompatible with the divine foreknowl 
edge. "Let the Christian know, then, that God foresees no 
thing in a contingent manner ; but that He foresees, proposes, 
and acts from his eternal and unchangeable will. This is the 
thunder-stroke which breaks and overturns free will." God 
is thus plainly the author of sin, and Luther shrinks not from 
the avowal! He maintains "that God excites us to sin, and 
produces sin in us:"|| and that "God damns some who have 
not merited this lot, and others before they were born. ^[ 

* Apud Audin, p. 111. 

f Ibid. See Epistola Lutheriana ad Leonem summum Pontificem. Liber 
de Libertate Christiana. Wittenb. 1520, 4to. 

| "De Servo Arbitrio," in opposition to the usual term, "liberum arbit- 

Be Servo Arbit. adv. Erasm. Roterod. Luth. Opp. Lat. Jense, torn, iii, p. 
170, seqq. 

jl Opera, Jenae, iii, 199. Wittenb. torn. foL 522, 523. "Dass Gott die 
menschen zur siinde antreibe, und alle laster in ihnem wurcke." 

IT Ibid. Jenas edit. iii> 207 Witt, vi, 534, 535 Altenb. iii, 249, 250. 


Man s nature, according to him, is thoroughly and radically 
corrupt : he is a mere automaton. " Man is like a beast of 
burden : if God sits in the saddle, he wills and goes whither 
soever God wills ; ... if Satan ride him, he wills and goes 
whither Satan directs : nor is it in his power to determine his 
rider the two riders contend for obtaining and possessing 
him."* This is truly a characteristic illustration of a most 
hideous doctrine ! 

In his famous speech at the diet of "Worms, in 1521, he 
expressed his delight at the prospect that his doctrine would 
produce discord and dissension : " You must know that I have 
well weighed the dangers that I incur, the displeasure that I 
cause, and the hatred which my doctrine will excite in this 
world. I delight to see the word of God bring forth discord 
and dissension. This is the lot of the Saviour, who says : I 
am come not to bring peace but the sword ; I am come to 
separate the son from the father. "f Was there ever a more 
fiendish joy, or a more glaring perversion of God s holy word ? 

He rejected continence with horror, and looked on the law 
of celibacy as an " awful blindness a relentless cruelty of the 
Pope a diabolical precept an imposing of an obligation 
which is impossible to human nature."J In 1522 he wrote a 
letter to the knights of the Teutonic order, in which he urged 
them, by arguments pandering to the basest passions of the 
human heart, to rid themselves of this " diabolical" yoke. We 
almost shrink from transcribing the following passage from 
this appeal, which was alas ! too successful. " My friends, the 

* " Sic humana voluntas in medio posita est ceu jumentum : si insederit 
Deus, vult et vadit sicut vult Deus ; ... si insederit Satan, vult et vadit 
sicut Satan : nee est in ejus arbitrio ad utrum sessorem currere, aut eum 
queerere, sed ipsi sessores certant ad ipsum obtinendum et possidendum." 
Opera, Jenge, iii, 176, 177. 

f Apud Audin, p. 163. D Aubigne, ii, 235. 

J " Perinde facere qui continenter vivere instituunt, ac si quis excremenla 
vel lotium contra naturae impetum retinere velit" Luther. Contra falsa 
Edicta Caesaris, T, ii. 


precept of multiplying is older than that of continence 
enjoined by the councils" (and he should have added, sanc 
tioned by the most solemn vows, voluntarily made, the bind 
ing obligation of which he himself had recognized but one 
year before*) : " it dates from Adam. It would be better to 
live in concubinage than in chastity. Chastity is an unpardon 
able sin; whereas concubinage, with God s assistance, should 
not make us despair of salvation."f 

He rejected in fact every doctrine, and abolished every 
practice of the Catholic Church, which was humbling to 
human pride, painful to corrupt nature, or which imposed a 
salutary restraint on the passions. Confession he rejected, as 
the " executioner of consciences."! He eschewed monastic 
vows, fasting and abstinence, and proscribed good works and 
free will. In his new-fangled system of religion, the minis 
ters of God were no longer bound to say Mass, or to read the 
divine office; this would have been an intolerable burden, 
incompatible with Christian liberty ! In fact, he was no great 
advocate for prayer at all especially for frequent prayer : 
"For," he says, "it is enough to pray once or twice; since 
God has said l ask and you shall receive ; to continue always 
in prayer, is to show that we have not faith in God." He 
forgot to mention that Christ had also said: "Pray always 
and faint not :" and St. Paul, " Pray without intermission." 

"What, in fine, was left in his new system of Christianity to 
fulfill those essential conditions of discipleship, which our 
blessed Lord pointed out, when he said : "If any man will 
come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross^ 
and follow me ? "|| Or to imitate the example of St. Paul 
whose great admirer Luther affected to be when he said of 

* Supra, p. 95. 

f " In statu scortationis vel peccati, Dei praesidio implorato, de salute non 
desperandum." Ad Milites Ord. Teutonici, Opp. Jense, torn, ii, p. 211-216. 
{ Conscientise carnificina. 

\ Letter to Bartholomew Von Starenburg ; 1 Sept., 1523. Audin, p. 208. 
II Matth. xvi: 24. 


himself: iC I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, 
lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should 
become reprobate ? "* 

D Aubigne, though he professes to give a very detailed 
history of the Reformation, found it convenient, however, to 
forget, or at least to pretermit most of the facts related 
above ; which, however, are essential to the history ! But 
they did not suit his purpose, which was to persuade the 
world, that Luther and his associates were new apostles of 
God, and that the Reformation was but " the re-appearance 
of Christianity ! " His whole view, in fact, of Luther s doc 
trine, and of the entire Reformation, is a miserable perversion 
of history an ill-contrived romance. His picture is no doubt 
viewed with delight by those for whose special benefit it was 
drawn ; but it is false in almost every light and shade ! Else 
why did he omit so many essential facts ?f 

What was the necessary tendency of these new doctrines 
of Luther ? Were they calculated to effect a reform in mor 
als and religion ? Or was their influence on society essen 
tially evil ? To aid us in answering these questions, we will 
adduce the evidence of a contemporary official document of 
the Germanic empire an extract from the decree of the diet 
of "Worms in 1521 which decree D Aubigne professes to 
give us entire :J 

" The Augustine monk, Martin Luther, regardless of our exhortations, has 
madly attacked the holy Church, and attempted to destroy it, by writings 
full of blasphemy. He has shamefully vilified the unalterable law of holy 
marriage ; he has labored to excite the laity to imbrue their hands in the 
blood of their priests ; and, defying all authority, has incessantly excited 
the people to revolt, schism, war, murder, theft, incendiarism, and the utter 
destruction of the Christian faith. ... In a word, and passing over many 

* 1 Corinth, ix : 27. 

f In this respect he is not alone, but as one of a class. In fact, he is 
occasionally more candid than some other writers of his school. 

| Vol. ii, p. 261 seqq. 

The Diet here cites Luther s works ; and D Aubigne furnishes the 
reference to the present works of the reformer. Luther Opp. Lat. xvii, 598. 


other evil intentions, this being, who is no man, but Satan himself, under 
the semblance of a man in a monk s hood, has collected in one offensive 
mass all the worst heresies of former ages, adding his own to the number." 

Making all proper allowance for the circumstance that this 
document emanated from a body the majority of which was 
opposed to Luther, it still presents a satisfactory proof of the 
evil tendency of his doctrines. "Would the great Charles V., 
would the first princes of the empire, in an official document, 
have stated facts at random, and without sufficient warrant ? 
They were surely competent witnesses of events passing 
under their very eyes ; they could scarcely be deceived, and 
they would scarcely have hazarded false and groundless state 
ments which could have been so readily refuted. Moreover, 
it must not be lost sight of, that Luther had powerful friends 
at Worms, who showed every disposition to see justice done 
to him, and to prevent his being overcome by oppression. 
Besides the powerful Frederick of Saxony, four hundred 
nobles swore to stand by him, and two thousand people gath 
ered around him for his defense, and escorted him to his 
lodgings.* He was certainly in little danger at Worms, and 
there was little wonder that his courage was aroused where 
he had clearly so little to fear. 

But, if the doctrines of Luther were certainly not adapted 
to the reformation of the Church, they were at least easy 
and flattering to human nature; and, under this point of 
view, they were powerful means of rapidly diffusing the 
pretended Reformation which was predicated on them. Lu 
ther could hope, through their instrumentality, to gain over 
to his party the wicked of every class in society. To the 
corrupt among the priests and monks, he held out the induce 
ments of getting rid of the painful duties of their state, of 
bidding adieu to vigils, to matins and to prayers, and of 
crowning their apostasy with the blooming garlands of hymen ! 
To the unmortified, and these were a very large class he 

* Menzel, sup. cit. ii, 230-1. 
VOL. j. 12 


promised exemption from confession, from fasts and from long 
prayers. To the proud and presumptuous, and their num 
ber was legion he offered the nattering principle of private 
judgment in matters of religion ; assuring them, that every 
one, no matter how stupid or ignorant, had an equal right, 
with the learned and the talented, to expound the Scriptures 
for himself. 

How consoling this assurance to the old lady, who, sitting 
in the chimney corner, had been hitherto content to con her 
prayers in private, to abide by the decisions of the Church, 
which Christ had solemnly commanded her to hear, under 
penalty of being reckoned "with heathens and publicans," 
and to leave the thorny paths of theological controversy to 
the more skillful and learned ! She awoke to a new life, her 
eyes sparkling again with the joys of youth, and she no 
doubt burst forth into a canticle of praise to the Lord, for her 
emancipation from the degrading servitude of popery ! And, 
what bright careers of glory were opened to the ambition of 
young theological students in the universities, who, through 
the new doctrines, could hope to shine in the pulpit, and to 
settle themselves advantageously in the world, with their 
newly acquired wives and families : and all this without any 
very remarkable sacrifice, or any great previous labor in pre 
paring themselves for the ministry ! Verily, as Melancthon 
had said to his dying mother : " The way of the reformers 
was more convenient" and what mattered it, "if that of the 
Catholics was more safe !" This was a consideration of minor 
importance ; or of weight only at the hour of death ! And 
what thought they of death ? 

But the chief resource of Luther, for establishing and con 
solidating his new religion, lay in the fostering protection of 
princes. He understood this, and he accordingly determined 
to gain them over to his party, by the most immoderate flat 
tery, and by pandering to their worst passions. The great 
and moderate Frederick Yon Schlegel assures us of this, and 
his testimony, in itself valuable, is fully confirmed by the 


facts, and corroborated by that of all trustworthy historians, 
whether Catholic or Protestant : 

" Luther was by no means an advocate for democracy, like Zuinglius and 
Calvin,* but he asserted the absolute power of princes, though he made his 
advocacy subservient to his own religious views and projects. It was by 
such conduct and the influence which he thereby acquired, as well as by the 
sanction of the civil power, that the Reformation was promoted and consoli 
dated. Without this, Protestantism would have sunk into the lawless 
anarchy which marked the proceedings of the Hussites, and to which the 
war of the peasants rapidly tended ; and it would have been inevitably sup 
pressed, like all other popular commotions."f 

The whole history of the Reformation proves the justice 
of these remarks. Luther thoroughly understood his true 
policy in regard to princes, and he never failed to carry it 
out. Even as late as 1530, when Charles V* was about to 
enter Augsburg to attend the diet assembled there, he cher 
ished hopes of gaining over this great emperor to his party. 
In his letters and other writings about this time, he painted 
Charles V. "as a man of God, an envoy of heaven, a new 
Augustus, the admiration and delight of the whole world "! 
But when the emperor published at that same diet his famous 
conciliatory decree, by which he merely allowed to the Prot 
estants the free " enjoyment of their temples and creeds," but 
enjoined silence on them until the meeting of the general 
council, the whole scene suddenly changed. Charles was no 
longer " a new Augustus :" but " he and his counselors w r ere 
not even men, but gates of hell judges who could not 
judge his cause, and to whom he would not give up a hair of 
his head." 

To understand better how Luther was able so successfully 
to avail himself of the political circumstances of the times, 
and to play oif so skillfully the German emperor and the 

* We shall see in the sequel what kind of "advocates for democracy" 
they were. 

f Philosophy of History ; vol. ii, p. 205, 6 : edit. Appleton & Co., New 
York, 1841. 

I See the authorities quoted by Audin, p. 440. Ibid. 


German princes against the Pope, we must glance at the con 
dition of Germany in the beginning of the sixteenth century, 
and especially at its political relations with Italy and with the 
Roman Pontiffs. Without this view, it might be more or less 
difficult to explain the rapid diffusion of the Reformation in 
Germany ; with it, the explanation becomes exceedingly easy, 
and our only wonder is, that the movement was not even 
more rapid and more general. 

The political condition of Germany at this time happened 
to be entirely favorable to Luther and his partisans. As we 
have already seen on the authority of Roscoe, Pope Julius II. 
had, to a great extent, succeeded in driving the armies of the 
French and German invaders from the Italian soil. Faithful 
to the traditions of the Papacy, he had thrown the entire 
influence of his elevated position in the scale of Italian inde 
pendence. It was but a renewal, in another shape, of the 
old struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines : 
the former of whom contended, under the auspices of the 
Popes, for the freedom of Italy ; the latter, under that of the 
German emperors, for foreign and especially for German 
domination over Italy. 

But, if Julius succeeded in securing the gratitude of the 
Italians, his action naturally provoked the enmity of the 
French, and more particularly of the Germans ; for he had 
expelled the armies of both from Italy. Accordingly, we 
find that Guicciardini, an hereditary Ghibelline and a digni 
tary of the Germanic empire, was among the most bitter 
enemies of the Pontiff, whose character he has sought to ren 
der infamous through his writings. The king of France and 
the emperor of Germany, foiled by the active vigilance of 
Julius in their ambitious designs on Italy, became the sworn 
enemies of the Pontiff, whose anathemas they had justly in 
curred on account of their attempts to invade the rights of the 
Holy See. In 1510, Louis XII. of France proposed, and the 
emperor Maximilian of Germany accepted, the project of 
convening a schismatical council, the object of which was to 


depose the Pope, and to elect another who would be more 
pliable to their unhallowed policy. Such a council was actu 
ally convened by the emperor at Pisa in the following year ; 
but it seems to have had no particular results, beyond giving 
forth an unmistakable indication of a growing disaffection 
towards the Holy See, and particularly towards the then reign 
ing sovereign Pontiff. 

Maximilian, true to the traditions of Germany since the 
days of Barbarossa, still cherished his mad scheme of con 
quering Italy. The Protestant historian of the house of 
Austria Coxe speaking of the religious condition and feel 
ings of Germany towards the close of the fifteenth century, 

" The spiritual power of the Popes had gradully declined, and their 
authority had lost most of its influence. Germany had, in a public diet, 
declared itself independent of the Pope, and even the minor princes of Eu 
rope disregarded or despised the thunders of the Vatican. At the same 
time, the dominions of the Roman See were nearly confined to the neigh 
borhood of Rome, and of those ample possessions which had been granted 
or confirmed by the emperors, the principal part had been appropriated by 
powerful families."* 

After Julius had retrieved the tottering fortunes of the 
Roman principality, Maximilian of Germany and Louis of 
France united their councils and forces for the conquest of 
Italy; and in 1510, as Coxe tells us, the emperor "revived 
the ancient disputes between the Church and the Empire, by 
laying before the diet a list of grievances which the German 
nation had suffered from the exactions and pretensions of the 
Popes."f These pretended exactions referred chiefly to the 
old disputes about Church patronage and the nomination to 
benefices, which had grown out of the controversy on Investi 
tures ; in which, as we have already sufficiently shown, the 
Popes were clearly in the right and the German emperors as 
clearly in the wrong. The rapacious princes of Germany 

* History of the House of Austria, i, 297 ; quoted in Dublin Review, for 
Sept., 1855. f Ibid. 


wished to rule supreme both in Church and State ; and they 
were particularly sensitive on the subject of money going out 
of Germany to the Holy See, no matter how ancient had been 
the custom which authorized it, or how reasonable the motives 
in which it had originated. 

Thus, at the time of Luther s appearance on the arena of 
the Reformation, every thing was already ripe for the great 
rebellion which he meditated. The emperor, his supreme 
sovereign, was a declared enemy of the Papacy ; while his 
immediate prince, the elector of Saxony, was, moreover, 
strongly inclined, for other special reasons, to favor the new 
gospel, and to promote its interests to the utmost extent of 
his power. And we must bear in mind, that the elector was, 
after the emperor, at that time the most powerful prince in 
Germany. On the death of Maximilian, he had been selected 
to hold the reins of government, as vicar of the empire, until 
the election of the imperial successor, Charles V. ; and he 
moreover continued in this position of power and influence 
for nearly a year and a half afterwards until the coronation 
of Charles in October, 1520.* Thus, at the very time that 
Luther was beginning his revolt, the empire was passing 
through a most critical crisis, and every thing was highly 
favorable to the designs of the reformer, whose powerful 
secret or open friends and patrons were, at the same time, 
enemies of the Pope and were clothed with supreme power 
in the state. 

As Coxe informs us, Maximilian, u far from opposing the 
first attacks of Luther against indulgences, was pleased with 
his spirit and acuteness, declared that he deserved protection, 
and treated his adversaries with contempt and ridicule."f He 
warmly recommended the refractory monk to the elector of 
Saxony, saying that " there might come a time when he would 
be needed."J 

* Maximilian had died miserably in January, 1519. 
f History of the House of Austria, i, 387, ibid. 
| Ranke, History of Popes, etc., i, 65, ibid. 


There was little seeming need for this recommendation; 
for Frederick was already his patron and protector, and he 
had already openly taken sides in his favor, by prohibiting 
Tetzel from preaching the indulgences within the boundaries 
of Saxony. It was he who gave Luther the hint to begin the 
bold crusade of denunciation against the papal preacher of 
the indulgences; and the refractory monk understood full 
well that he incurred little risk in preaching against Tetzel 
under so ample a guaranty of protection.* 

The theses which Luther posted up on the doors of the 
church of All Saints at "Wittenberg, on the first day of 
November, 1517, were drawn up with consummate art ; and 
without boldly attacking the doctrine itself, they appealed 
with much tact to the passions of the German people, and to 
their old-time prejudices against the Holy See on the subject 
of money. Among them, for example, were these : " "Why 
does not the Pope, who is richer than Croesus, build St. 
Peter s with Ms own money , rather than with that of poor 
Christians?"- "Christians should be taught that he who 
gives to the poor, or assists the needy, does better than he 
who purchases indulgences."f Such propositions as these 
comprised precisely the topics which would be the best calcu 
lated to excite popular interest and arouse popular feeling. 
They were also the very points which were most likely to 
prove acceptable to the elector, who had already refused to 
receive Tetzel, who strongly opposed every scheme which 
would in any manner cause money to go out of his territory, 
especially if it were directed towards Rome, and who panted 
himself after the rich spoils of the Church which he, in fact, 
shortly afterwards sacrilegiously grasped. 

One who will be regarded by Protestants as an unexcep 
tionable witness, Wolfgang Menzel, fully confirms the view 
which we have here presented. He says : 

* Ranke tells us that, "an alliance had been formed between the monk of 
Wittenberg and the sovereign of Saxony." History of the Reformation, 
A. D. 1517. f Apud Audin, in loco. 


"The old emperor Maximilian had, exactly at that period (A. D. 1518,) 
opened a diet at Augsburg, at which several of the princes and cities com 
plained of the sale of indulgences and of other ecclesiastical disorders ; and 
the emperor, deeming it politic to make use of Luther as a means of hum 
bling the Pontiff, and of compelling him to retract some of his inordinate (!) 
demands, refused to deliver him up, although he had been cited to appear at 

The same prejudiced writer, in a single sentence, furnishes 
us with a key to all of Luther s movements, as also to explain 
the favor with which they were regarded by many of the 
princes of the German empire. He says, that Luther u cher 
ished an almost biblical reverence for the anointed of the 
Lord, ~by whose aid he hoped to succeed in reforming the 
Church."! This, translated into popular language, simply 
means, that he was devoted to the doctrine of the divine right 
of kings, and consequently opposed to all those modern ideas 
of popular freedom, of which he has been usually heralded 
forth as the champion. Never was there a greater popular 
delusion than that which holds that Luther was the advocate 
of popular liberty ; as we hope to show by incontestable evi 
dence in the proper place. For the present, suffice it to say, 
that he relied for success, not on i\\e people ^ but on the strong 
arm of the princes ; and that the latter warmly seconded his 
views, which were so evidently to their own advantage. 

Menzel, in fact, tells us as much, when he writes : 

" To the numerous nobility of the empire in Swabia, Franconia, and the 
Rhenish provinces, the opening Reformation presented a favorable opportu 
nity for improving their circumscribed political position, seizing the rich lands 
belonging to the Church, and raising themselves to an equality with, if not 
deposing the temporal princes." 

Again ; speaking of the failure of the attempt made by 
Melancthon to bring about a reunion with the Catholic Church 
at the diet of Augsburg, and of the reason of the failure, he 

writes : 

* History of Germany, Bohn s edition, ii, 226. 
t Ibid., p. 233. | Ibid., p. 234. 


" A last attempt, made by Melancthon, and supported by Luther,* to 
bring about a general reformation in the Church by means of the Pope, with 
the view of securing the Church from the temporal princes, failed, owing to 
the extreme demoralization of the clergy,f and Luther was speedily reduced 
to silence by the princes intent upon the secularization of the bishoprics "\ 
That is, upon seizing by violence the property which supported the bishop 
rics and appropriating it to .secular, or what was the same thing, to their 
own uses. 

We must furnish one more extract from Menzel on this 
subject, which is more remarkable than any thing we have 
so far presented from his pages ; as it candidly avows the 
carnal and wicked motives which prompted the princes of 
the earth to side with Luther and to oppose the Church of 
God, not only in Germany but elsewhere ; and as it dissi 
pates forever the usually received and popular idea, that 
Luther was a champion of freedom. He is speaking of the 
period which immediately followed the suppression of the 
popular insurrections in Germany, usually called the war of 
the peasants of which we shall treat more fully in a subse 
quent chapter. 

" The defeat of the nobility and peasantry had crushed the revolutionary 
spirit in the people ; and the Reformation, stripped of its terrors, began to 
be regarded as advantageous by the princes. Luther also appeared, not as 
a dangerous innovator, but in the light of a zealous upholder of princely 
power, the divine nght of which he even made an article of faith ; and thus, 
through Luther s well meant policy, the Reformation, the cause of the peo 
ple (!), naturally became that of the princes, and consequently instead of 
being the aim, was converted into a means of their policy. In England, 
Henry VIII. favored the Reformation for the sake of becoming pope in his 
own dominions, and of giving unrestrained license to tyranny and caprice. 

* He is here egregiously mistaken. Luther strongly opposed the recon 
ciliation, as we have already shown. See his angry correspondence on the 
subject with Molancthon and others in Audin. With his subserviency to 
princes, Luther would not have dared thwart them in their darling project 
of robbing the Church. 

f Brought about precisely by the corrupt usurpation of church patronage 
by the secular princes, as we have shown. See Introduction. 

\ History of Germany, Bohn s edition, ii, p. 251. 
VOL. T. 13 


In Sweden, Gustavus Wasa embraced the Lutheran faith, as a wider mark 
of distinction between the Swedes and Danes, whose king Christiern he had 
driven out of Sweden. His example was followed (A. D. 1527) by the 
grand-master Albert of Prussia, who hoped by this means to render that 
country an hereditary possession in his family. His cousin, the detestable 
Casimir Von Culmback, sought to wipe out the memory of his parricide by 
his confession of the new faith."* 

* Thus, according to the open avowal of even the bigoted v 
Menzel, the great German Reformation dwindles down into a 
mere affair of groveling avarice and of worldly ambition on 
the part of the princes ; and Luther, the arch-reformer, the 
bold adversary of the Pope, and the vaunted champion of 
liberty, sinks down into the position of a mere crouching and 
subservient tool of rapacious and unprincipled men, who 
sought only their own interests, and who wished to lord it 
over their subjects with supreme power both in church and 
in state ! In casting off the yoke of Rome, the German peo 
ple had another riveted on their necks, which was infinitely 
more galling ; and they have had to bear it ever since ! 

We have already seen how meanly subservient Luther was 
on all occasions to his immediate sovereign, the elector of 
Saxony. This prince was the most powerful protector of the 
Reformation, and, as we shall see, he reaped a golden harvest 
for his protection. But he had another motive for defending 
Luther and his partisans. Luther and Melancthon were the 
principal professors in his newly founded and warmly cher 
ished University of Wittenberg; and their varied learning 
and shining talents had attracted to it vast numbers of youth 
from all parts of Germany. At the period of the Reforma 
tion, this university became the focus of the new doctrines, 
and the rendezvous of all who favored them. The attractive 
novelty, the stirring interest, the startling boldness of the 
newly broached theories of religion, together with the rude but 
overpowering eloquence of Luther, and the winning graces 
and versatile genius of Melancthon, rendered this new seat 

* History of Germany, Bohn s edition, ii, p. 248. 


of learning famous throughout Germany. The powerful elec 
tor could not but look with complacency on the men who shed 
such lustre on an institution which he had erected, and the 
prosperity of which was identified with his own glory. This 
was one of the reasons which first inclined him to favor Lu 
ther. It is not a little remarkable, too, that this same univer 
sity of Wittenberg was erected chiefly from the proceeds of 
those very indulgences, the inveighing against which was the 
first movement of the Reformation ! 

A remarkable instance of Luther s mean subserviency to 
princes, is the permission which he and his chief partisans 
gave to Philip, landgrave of Hesse, to have two wives at 
once ! This fact is as astounding as it is undoubted. Philip 
had been married for sixteen years to Christiana, daughter 
of George, duke of Saxony ; and he had already been blessed 
with several children. According to Adolph Menzel, a Prot 
estant historian, he was "violent and passionate, unfaithful 
and superstitious."* But he was a good Lutheran, nay, one 
of the most powerful friends of the Reformation ; and he read 
his Bible incessantly. He became enamored of Margaret 
Saal, a maid of honor to his sister Elizabeth. She proved 
inexorable, and the landgrave lost his appetite, and was seized 
with a fit of despondency. In this distress, he had recourse 
to his Bible : he opened it at the fifth chapter of Genesis, and, 
finding that Lamech had two wives at once, he resolved to 
imitate his example ! 

He, however, thought it advisable to seek counsel on a 
subject of so much importance particularly to himself from 
the principal reformers. Through Martin Bucer, a learned 
reformed theologian, and a devoted courtier and tool of himself, 
he proposed his case of conscience to the new apostles at Wit 
tenberg. He stated his sad case very roundly and very simply, 
as became so godly and scrupulous a champion of the new 
gospel : " That he could not abstain from fornication, and that 

* Adolf Menzel, Neure Geschichte der Deutchen, torn. i. 


he must expect eternal damnation unless he changed his life : 
that, when he espoused Christiana, it was not through inclina 
tion or love : that the officers of his court and her maids of 
honor might be examined regarding her temper, Tier charms, 
and her love of wine : that he had read in the Old Testament 
how many holy personages, Abraham, Jacob, David, and 
Solomon, had many wives, and yet pleased God : and that, ^ 
finally, he had resolved to renounce his licentious habits, 
which he could not do, unless he could get Margaret for his 
wife. He therefore asked Luther and Philip (Melancthon) to 
grant him what he requested." 

The case was plainly and fully stated ; and the answer was 
no less direct. It was divided into twenty-four articles, and 
was signed by the eight principal reformers of Wittenberg; 
Luther, Melancthon, Bucer, Anthony Corvin, Adam, I. Len- 
ingen, J. Vinfert, and D. Melanther. The twenty-first article 
runs as follows : 

"If your highness is resolved to marry a second wife, we judge that it 
should be done privately, as we have said when speaking of the dispensation 
you have asked for. There should be no one present, but the bride and a 
few witnesses who are aware of the circumstance, and who would be bound 
to secrecy, as if under the seal of confession. Thus all opposition and great 
scandal will be avoided ; for it is not unusual for princes to have concubines, 
and although the people take scandal at it, the more enlightened will suspect 
the truth. We ought not to be very anxious about what the world will say, 
provided the conscience be at rest. Thus we approve of it. Your highness 
has then, in this writing, our approbation in all the exigencies that may 
occur, as also the reflections we have made on them." 

The marriage took place on the 3d of March, 1540, in the 
presence of Melancthon, Bucer, and other theologians. The 
marriage contract was drawn up by a Lutheran doctor, and 
duly signed by a notary public. In this instrument Philip 
declares, " that he does not take Margaret lightly, or through 
contempt of the civil law; but solely for other considerations, 
and because, without a second wife, he could not live godly, 
or merit heaven ! ** Was there ever a more startling instance 

* See the Instrumentum Copulationis Philippi landgrave et Margaritas de 


of utter depravity and of unprincipled sycophancy! Here, 
then, is a Protestant indulgence, in the very worst sense 
attached to the term by Protestant writers ! And yet these 
men claimed to be sent by God to reform the Church ! !* 

By such unhallowed means as these did the reformers 
secure the protection of princes. What was the character 
of such of the latter as espoused the Reformation? "Were 
they men whose lives reflected honor on the new religion, and 
gave a pledge of the purity of the motives which had led to 
its adoption ? Let us see. We have already glanced at the 
character of some of these men, in company with Wolfgang 
Menzel. We will now speak of others. In the first place, there 
was John, elector of Saxony, who, according to Menzel,f was 
one of the most gluttonous princes of his age, fond of wine and 
of good cheer, and whose stomach, overcharged with excessive 
feeding, was supported by an iron circle. " He had enriched 
his sideboard the best furnished in all Germany with ves 
sels of all sorts taken from the refectories of the monasteries, 
or the sacristies of the churches."J He accordingly embraced 

Saal, given in full by Bossuet, Variations, vol. i. See also Ad. Menzel, a 
Protestant, torn, ii, p. 179, 192 ; and Audin, p. 479. 

* Those who wish to see all the documents connected with this disgrace 
ful proceeding, are referred to Bossuet s Variations, book vi, and to Bayle s 
Dictionary, art. Luther. They were kept hidden for a long time, until 
Charles Lewis, the elector palatine, published them to the world. There is 
no doubt whatever as to their genuineness. Hallam fully admits this, in his 
Constitutional History of England. Bayle twits the reformers on their mean 
subserviency to the landgrave ; who, he shrewdly suspects, had thrown out 
" certain menaces " in case of their refusal to grant the asked for dispensation, 
and had made them certain munificent promises in case of their compliance. 
The latter he fully redeemed ; for after the death of Frederick, the elector 
of Saxony, in 1525, he became the great Ajax of the Keformation party in 
Germany. D Aubigne admits this. 

We consider the documents connected with this disgraceful affair of suffi 
cient importance in a history of the Reformation, to authorize their being 
republished in full, which we do accordingly in note C. at the end of the 
present volume. 

f Ad. Menzel, Neuere Geschichte, torn, i, fol. 338. \ Audin, p. 424. 


with eagerness a religion which had abolished fasting, and 
which permitted him to indulge his favorite appetite without 
restraint. Then came the pious and scrupulous Philip, land 
grave of Hesse, whose troubled conscience was soothed by the 
panacea to which we have just alluded. This second great 
pillar of the Reformation had inscribed on the clothes of the 
domestics who served him at table, the initials V. D. M. 
I. ^E., signifying Verbum Domini manet in seternum " the * 
word of the Lord remaineth forever!" Lastly came Wolf 
gang, prince of Anhalt, whose stupid ignorance was prover 
bial: and finally "Ernest and Francis Lunenberg, who did 
not trouble their vassals to pillage the churches, but with 
their own hands despoiled the tabernacles of their sacred 
vessels."* Such were the princes to whose patronage the 
Reformation was indebted for its first success and subsequent 
permanency ! 

To secure their cooperation and protection, which were 
essential to the triumph of his cause, Luther left no means 
untried. He recklessly appealed to the worst passions which 
sway the human bosom. He held out to them, as baits, the 
rich booty of the Catholic churches and monasteries. He 
said to them, in a publication entitled ArgyropMlax ;f "You 
will find out, within a few months, how many hundred thou 
sand gold pieces the monks and that class of men possess 
within a small portion of your territory ."J He acknowl 
edged, in one of his sermons, " that the church ostensories 
made many converts to the new gospel." And M. Audin 
is entirely correct in his caustic remark: "That the con 
vent spoils resembled the martyrs blood, mentioned by 

* Audin, p. 425. f " Guardian of the Treasury." 

| " Experiemini intra paucos menses, quot centum aureorum millia unius 

exiguae ditionis vestrae monachi et id genus hominum possideant." Cf. 

Cochlaeus, p. 149. 

\ " Viele sind noch gut evangelisch, weil es noch Catholische monstranzen 

gibt." Luther, Praed. xii, apud Jak. Marx., p. 174, and Ad. Menzel, torn, i, 

pp. 371-9. Apud Audin. 


Tertullian, and brought forth daily new disciples to the 

* It was cupidity, as we have already shown from W. Menzel, 
that induced Albert of Brandenburg to apostatize from the 
Catholic Church, " that he might plunder, with a safe con 
science, the country of Prussia, which belonged to the Teu 
tonic order" of which order he was superior general " and 
which he erected into a hereditary principality."! Francis 
Yon Sickengen was another of these spoilers, who, at the 
head of twelve thousand men, " invaded the archbishopric of 
Treves, tracking his path by the blood he shed, the churches 
he pillaged, and the licentious excesses of his soldiery ."J He 
was but one of those powerful church robbers who, according 
to the testimony of an ancient historian, then converted Ger 
many, once so powerful and noble, into a den of sacrilegious 
thieves. The candid Melancthon " avowed that in the tri 
umph of the Reformation the princes looked not to the purity 
of doctrine, or the propagation of light, to the triumph of a 
creed, or the improvement of morals, but only regarded the 
profane and miserable interests of this world."|| 

The rich spoils of the Catholic Church and of the monas 
teries not only induced many princes of the Germanic body 
to embrace the Reformation, but also caused them to perse 
vere in the cause they had thus espoused. In the famous diet 
of Augsburg, in 1530, the conciliatory course of Melancthon, 
who there represented the reformed party, bade fair to heal 
the rupture, by reconciling the Protestants to the Catholic 
Church. But the Catholic theologians insisted on two things : 
that the married priests should abandon their wives, and that 
the Protestant princes should restore the goods of the Church 

* Audin, p. 345. f Rotteck, p. 93. Apud Audin. Ibid. \ Ibid. 

\ " Potentissima Germania et nobilissima, sed ea tota nunc unum latro- 
cinium est, et ille inter nobiles gloriosior qui rapacior." Campanus ad 
Freher- Script. German., torn, ii, p. 294, 295. 

|| " Sie beciimmerten sich gar nicht um die lehre, es sie ihnen blosz um 
die freiheit, und die herrschaft zu thun." Apud Audin, p. 343. 


upon which they had seized. The former condition would 
probably have been complied with ; but, as Erasmus remarks, 
" the Lutheran princes would not hear any thing about resti 
tution."* The same insurmountable difficulty interposed 
when, five years later, Rome made her last effort towards 
bringing back the Protestant party to the bosom of the Catho 
lic Church. The benevolent labors of Cardinal Yerger, legate 
of Paul III., in 1535, might not have proved wholly abortive, 
but for the indomitable insolence of Luther, f and the refusal 
of the princes of his party to disgorge their ill-gotten plunder. 
After all this, we can scarcely restrain a smile, on 
hearing the lamentations of Luther over the rapacity of 
the princes of his party, whom he himself had excited 
to the unholy work of spoliation. "To the d 1," he cried 
out in a rage, " with senators, manor lords, princes, and 
mighty nobles, who do not leave for the preachers, the priests, 
the servants of the gospel, wherewith to support their wives and 
children ! " J They were, it seems, more rapacious than even 
Tie could have desired. " They gave, with admirable gener 
osity, the sacred vessels of the secularized monastery to the 
parish priest, provided, however, he had adopted Lutheran- 
ism. The rest went to their mistresses, their courtiers, their 
dogs, and their horses. Some, who were as greedy as the 
landgrave of Hesse, kept even the habits and sacerdotal vest 
ments, the tapestries, the chased silver vases, and the vessels 
of the sanctuary ." They would not abide by Luther s seem 
ingly reasonable rules for the partition of the confiscated 
property :|| and hence the enkindled wrath of the reformer! 

He, indeed, occasionally condemned this rapacity in a voice 
of thunder: he sometimes even clothed himself in the garb 

* "Res propemodum ad concordiam deducta est, nisi quod Lutherani 
principes nihil audire voluerunt de restituendo." Erasm. Ep., p. 998. This 
confirms the statement given above on the authority of Wolfgang Menzel. 

f For an account of the outrageous conduct of Luther to the legate, and 
of the vvhole negotiation, see Audin, p. 474, seqq. 

t Table Talk, cited by Jak. Marx, p. 175. \ Audin, p. 346. || Ibid. 


of a messenger of peace, and bewailed the lawless violence 
and other sad disorders which he had himself occasioned, and 
even caused, by his frequent appeals to the lowest and most 
groveling passions. But he could not arrest the course of the 
turbid torrent of passion, which he himself had in the first 
instance caused to flow. As well might he have labored to 
turn back the waters of the Rhine ! Had he not, in one of 
his inflammatory appeals to the princes of the empire, used 
the following language ? " There is Rome, Romagna, and the 
duchy of Urbino: there is Bologna, and the states of the 
Church ; take them : they belong to you : take, in God s 
name, what is your own?"* Had he not threatened them 
with the wrath of heaven, in case they did not seize on the 
property of the monasteries ?f Had he not, on almost every 
page of his works, made " a brutal appeal against the priests, 
a maddening shout against the convents ; in a word, had he 
not preached up the sanctification of robbery, the canoniza 
tion of rapine ? " J 

Erasmus bears abundant evidence to the violence which 
almost everywhere marked the progress of the Reformation 
in Germany. We will give an extract from one of his writ 
ings, premising the remark that he was an eye-witness of what 
he relates, and not at least a violent enemy of the reformers : 

" I like to hear Luther say, that he does not wish to take their revenues 
from the priests and monks, who have not any other means of support. This 
is the case probably at Strasburg. But is it so elsewhere ? Truly it is 
laughable to say : we will give food to those who apostatize ; let others 
starve if they please. Still more laughable to hear them protest that they 
do not wish to harm any one. What ! is it no injury to drive away canons 
from their churches, monks from their monasteries, and to plunder bishops 
and abbots ? But we do not kill ! Why not ? Because your victims 
take the prudent precaution of running away. We let our enemies live 
peaceably among us. Who are your enemies ? Are all Catholics ? Do our 
bishops and priests regard themselves as secure in the midst of you ? If you 

* Opp. edit. Jense, torn, viii, fol. 209-248. A. D. 1545. Apud Audin. 
f " Gottloss seyen dienigen die diese giiter nicht an sich zogen, und sie 
besser verwendeten, als die monche. \ Audin, p. 349. 


are so mild and tolerant, wherefore these emigrations, and these multiplied 
complaints addressed to the throne ? . . . But then, why destroy the churches 
which they built ? "* 

It is curious to mark the mode of operating adopted by the 
pious reformers, while doing their godly work of violence and 
spoliation. We will furnish a few instances, out of many. 

" At Bremen, during Lent, the citizens got up a masquerade, 
in which the Popes, the cardinals, and nuns were represented. 
On the place of public execution they raised a pile, on which all 
these personifications of Catholicity were thrown, and burnt, 
amidst shouts of joy. The remainder of the day was spent in 
celebrating, by large libations, the downfall of popery . "f 

" At Zwickau, on Shrove Tuesday, hare-nets were laid on 
the market-place ; and monks and nuns, hunted by the stu 
dents, fell into them, and were caught. At a short distance 
w r as the statue of St. Francis, tarred and feathered ! " Tobias 
Schmidt, the cotemporary historian of this outrage, here ex 
claims : " Thus fell, at Zwickau, c popery, and thus rose there 
the pure light of the gospel ! "J He assures us, in the same 
place, that " a band of citizens attacked the convent, whose 
gates they broke, and, when they had pillaged the chests and 
the treasures, threw the books about and broke the windows : " 
the town authorities, meantime, standing looking on, with 
their arms crossed, in perfect composure, without even affect 
ing indignation ! Similar scenes were enacted elsewhere. 
" At Elemberg, the pastor s house was given up for several 
hours to pillage ; and one of the students, who was a con 
spicuous actor in this scene, which excited the laughter of the 
mob, clothed himself in priests vestments, and made his entry 
on an ass into the church."|| 

* "In Pseudo-Evangelicos." Epist. 47, lib. xxxi. London, Flesher. 

f Arnold, 1. c. th. 2, bd. 16, kap. 6, s. 60. Apud Audin, p. 347. 

| " Also ist das Pabsthum abgeschafft und hingegen die evangelische reine 
lehre fortgeplanzt worden." Tob. Schmidt, p. 386. Ibid. 

5 Ibid., p. 374. Apud Adin, p. 348. || See "Das resultat meiner 

wanderungen," etc. Von Julius Honinghaus, p. 339 ; and Audin, ibid. 


We must also briefly state the tactics of Luther s second 
great patron, John, elector of Saxony, while gallantly attack 
ing a monastery of poor monks, or a convent of defenceless 
women. The noble elector, who had succeeded Frederick, 
did not seek to stain his victory with blood; he sought rather 
the spoils of war ! M. Audin compares him very appropri 
ately to Verres, the rapacious Koman proconsul of Sicily, 
whom Cicero lashed with his withering invective. 

" The proconsul of Sicily was not more ingenious than Duke John of 
Saxony in plundering a monastery. Some days before opening the cam 
paign, he was accustomed to send and demand the register of the house, 
and then he set out with a brisk detachment of soldiers. They surrounded 
the monastery ; the abbot was summoned, and the prince, holding the reg 
istry in his hand, caused every thing contained in it to be delivered."* 

Wolfgang Menzel writes as follows of the "visitation" 
made by John of Saxony: 

" The elector John, Luther s most zealous partisan, immediately on his 
accession to the government of Saxony, on the death of Frederick the 
Wise, empowered Luther to undertake a church visitation throughout his 
dominions, and to arrange ecclesiastical affairs according to the spirit of the 
doctrine he taught. His example was followed by the rest of the Lutheran 
princes ; and this measure necessarily led to a separation from, instead of a 
thorough Keformation of the Church. The first step was the abolition of 
monasteries, and the confiscation of their wealth by the state, by which a 
portion was set apart for the extension of academies and schools. The 
monks and nuns were absolved from their vows, compelled to marry and 
follow a profession, etc."| 

This illustrious example was duly followed up by the civil 
authorities at Rosteck, Torgau, and other places. An old 
chronicle of Torgau, printed in 1524, minutely describes the 
revolting particulars of a nocturnal excursion made to the 
Franciscan convent of the city, by Leonard Koeppe and some 
other young students, who made an open boast of their cruelty 

* Arnold, loc. cit. th. 2. Bd. 16, kap. 6, 568, cited by Honinghaus, 

f History Germany, sup. cit. ii, 248. 


and profligacy on the occasion.* At Magdeburg the magis 
trates resolved to act more humanely. They put a stop 
to the work of plunder, and allowed the monks to remain 
quietly in their cells during the rest of their lives; "Pro 
vided, however, they laid aside the religious habit, and em 
braced the Reformation :"f and many of them, alas ! preferred 
apostasy to starvation ! 

Such as would not apostatize were, in most places, driven 
from their convents, " were reduced to beg their bread, and 
were the victims of heartless calumny. They seemed aban 
doned by all. Art was as ungrateful as mankind ; it forgot 
that it owed its progress to their labors. The people laughed 
when they saw them pass half naked, and had no word of 
pity, no sigh of compassion, for so many unfortunate crea 
tures. Whither could they go ? The roads were not safe ; 
in those times there were knights who scoured the high-ways 
and hunted after monks, whom they took pleasure" in 
making eunuchs " for the greater glory of God P J 

With all these facts before our eyes, can we wonder at the 
testimony borne by the diet of Worms, quoted above, as to 
the character and tendency of the Lutheran doctrines ? Even 
Protestants have acknowledged, that the Reformation was 
indebted mainly to this violence for its successful establish 
ment in "Germany and the countries of the north. We have 
already seen the testimony of Melancthon. Jurieu, the fa 
mous Calvinist minister, acknowledges " that Geneva, Switz 
erland, the republics and the free cities, the electors, and the 
German princes, England, Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark, 
got rid of popery, and established the Reformation, by the 
aid of the civil power." A sweeping admission, truly, as 
candid as it is clearly founded on the facts of history ! 

The great Frederick Yon Schlegel has well observed, that 

* Arnold, ut supra. f Marcheineke, th. 2, s. 41. Audin, ibid. 

f Ulrich Hutten boasts of this. Epist. ad Lutherum, part ii, p. 128. Of. 

Audin, p. 200. $ C Jak. Marx. " Die Ursachen der SchneUen ver- 


" Protestantism was the work of man ; and that it appears in 
no other light, even in the history which its own disciples 
have drawn of its origin. The partisans of the Reformation 
proclaimed, indeed, at the outset, that, if it were more than 
a human work, it would endure, and that its duration would 
serve as a proof of its divine origin. But surely no one will 
consider this an adequate proof, when he reflects that the 
great Mohammedan heresy, which, more than any other, de 
stroys and obliterates the divine image stamped on the human 
soul, has stood its ground for full twelve hundred years; 
though this religion [imposture], if it proceed from no worse 
source, is at best a human work."* 

He says also : " That the Reformation was established in 
Denmark chiefly, though not exclusively, as in Sweden, by 
the sovereign power : in Iceland its establishment was almost 
the work of violence."? True, he indicates the opinion that 
Protestantism was introduced into other German countries 
"by the torrent of popular opinion :"J but we have already 
seen what kind of a torrent this was ; what ruins it left in its 
course ; how its turbid waters were swollen by the storm of 
the rude eloquence of Luther and his partisans, and how its 
maddening current was lashed into fury by the lawless pas 
sions of the princes who espoused the cause of the Reforma 
tion, and fattened on its spoils. 

We must again quote "Wolfgang Menzel in regard to the 
practical operation of the new church, as organized in Ger 
many, and the influence of the princes therein : 

" The whole system of the church was simplified. The sequestrated 
bishoprics were provisionally administered, and the affairs of the Lutheran 
church controlled by commissioners selected from among the reformers, and 
by the councils of the princes, Luther incessantly promulgating the doctrine of 
the right of temporal sovereigns to decide all ecclesiastical questions. His inten- 

breitung der Reformation," p. 164 ; apud Audin, p. 343. The testimony of 
Jurieu is found quoted, with several others of the same kind, in Alzog s 
Church History. 

* "Philosophy of History," ii, 218. I Ibid., p. 225. | Ibid.. 224. 


tion was, the creation of a counterpoise to ecclesiastical authority, and he 
was probably far from imagining that religion might eventually be deprived 
of her dignity and liberty by temporal despotism. Episcopal authority passed 
entirely into the hands of the princes."* 

Our summary of the means employed to promote the suc 
cess of the Reformation would be incomplete, without advert 
ing to one other cause which contributed, perhaps as much 
as any one of those already named, to produce this effect. 
We allude to the flagrant abuse of the press, which, during 
that period, poured forth a torrent of ridicule, invective, 
abuse, misrepresentation, and calumny against the Catholics, 
flooding all Germany with pestiferous publications. The vio 
lence of the pulpit powerfully seconded that of the press. 
Luther himself thundered incessantly from the pulpit of All* 
Saints at Wittenberg, as well as from those of the other prin 
cipal cities of Saxony. He lashed, with his burning invec 
tives, Popes, bishops, priests, and monks : wherever his words 
fell they were as a consuming fire. Indefatigable in his exer 
tions, he published book after book, inflammatory pamphlet 
after inflammatory pamphlet, against the pretended abomina 
tions of Rome. His books were eagerly sought after, and 
greedily devoured by the great and increasing numbers who 
had a prurient curiosity in such novelties, which to many 
were attractive, precisely in proportion to their novelty, and 
the startling boldness with which they were proclaimed. 
That " On the Captivity of Babylon," in which he painted 
the Pope as Antichrist, went rapidly through ten editions. 
The annual book-fairs at Leipsic and Frankfort never before 
presented so animated a spectacle, or drove so brisk a busi 

The works of the champions of Catholicity of Eck, Em 
ser, Prierias, and Hochstraet found not so ready a sale. 
They had not the overweening charm of novelty ; they dealt 
not in such rude denunciations ; they were not so replete with 

* History of Germany, ii, p. 249. 


ridicule or vulgar conceits ! Even the veteran Erasmus, who 
had been not long before styled " the prince of letters," " the 
star of Germany," " the high-priest of polite literature ;" even 
the witty, and polished, and classical Erasmus could scarcely 
find purchasers for his Hyperaspides and other works which 
he published, after he had at length consented to enter 
the lists with Luther. His glory suddenly faded, and the 
book-publishers for the first time complained of having to 
keep his works on hand unsold ! 

Many causes contributed to this result. In that period of 
maddening excitement, nothing whatever seemed to suit the 
popular palate which was not new and startling. The calm 
and dignified defence of truth alas ! now grown antiquated 
and obsolete could not cope with the exciting character and 
versatile graces of error. It has been ever so. Perverse hu 
man nature has at all times been inclined to relish most what 
is most agreeable to its passions. It more readily believes 
what is evil than what is good, especially when the former is 
served up with the winning graces of rhetoric, and seasoned 
with sarcasm, ridicule, and denunciation. Besides, the press 
sent forth the works of the reformers neatly and correctly 
printed ; whereas those of the Catholics were often so clumsily 
executed as to excite ridicule and disgust. The principal 
booksellers had joined the reform party, and many of the 
apostate monks had exchanged their former occupation of 
transcribing manuscripts, for that of type-compositors and 
proof-readers in the principal printing establishments. The 
press thus became almost wholly subservient to the Protest 
ant party ; and the rebellious monks, treading in the footsteps 
of Luther, became the most zealous champions of the new 

A Catholic book which passed through the hands of the 
Protestant printers was generally mutilated, or at least print 
ed with great negligence. Cochlseus and others complain of 
this injustice. He says, that the works of Catholics were 
often so badly printed, that they did more service to the Lu- 


theran party than to their own cause ; and that the Frankfort 
merchants openly laughed at their clumsy execution.* 

Froben, the great bookseller of Basle, made a splendid for 
tune by selling the works of Luther, which he reproduced in 
every form, and published at the cheapest rates. In a letter 
to the reformer, he chuckles with delight over his success : 
" All your works are bought up ; I have not ten copies on 
hand : never did books sell so well."f Erasmus, in a letter 
to Henry VIII. of England, complains that " he could find 
no printer who would dare publish any thing against Luther. 
Were it against the Pope," he adds, " there, would be no dif 

The great Cardinal Bellarmine, who, towards the close of 
the sixteenth century, undertook the herculean task of refut 
ing the works of the reformers a task which he executed in 
a most masterly and triumphant manner assures us, " that 
there were few among the Protestant party who did not write 
something, and that their books not only spread like a can 
cer, but that they were diffused over the land, like swarms of 
locusts." Books of every size, from the ponderous folio to the 
humbler pamphlet, were scattered through Germany on the 
wings of the press. 

And what were the weapons which these productions wield 
ed with so great and deadly effect ? Were they those of sober 
truth and of sound argument ? Or were they those of low 
abuse, scurrilous misrepresentation, and open calumny ? If 
there is any truth in history, the latter were put in requi- 

* " Ea tamen neglectim, ita festinanter et vitiose imprimebant, ut majorem 
gratiam eo obsequio referrcnt Lutheranis quam Catholicis. Si quis eorum 
justiorem Catholicis operam impenderent, hi a caeteris in publicis mercati- 
bus Frankofordias ac alibi vexabantur et ridebantur, velut papistse et sacer- 
dotum servi." Cochl. p. 58, 59. Apud Audin. 

f Opp. Lutheri, torn, i, p. 388. 389. Ibid. 

| Epist. Erasmi, p. 752. For further particulars, see Audin. p. 337, seqq. 

$ " Rari sunt apud adversaries qui non aliquid scribunt, quorum libri non 
jam ut cancer serpunt, sed velut agmina locustarum volitant." Opp. torn, i, 
de Controv. in Praefat. 


sition much oftener than the former. Catholic doctrines 
travestied and misrepresented, Catholic practices ridiculed 
and caricatured, Catholic bishops and priests vilified and 
openly calumniated ; these were the means which the reformers 
employed with so murderous an effect.* 

And though all the sins of these first champions of the pre 
tended reform should not in justice be visited on their chil 
dren in the faith, yet truth compels the avowal that, in these 
respects at least, the latter have not proved recreant disciples. 
This is still the panoply of Protestant warfare. We wish from 
our hearts it were otherwise ! The poet s remark is true both 
of the first reformers and of their modern disciples, in the 
most of their writings against the Catholic Church : 

" A hideous figure of their face they drew, 

Nor hues, nor looks, nor colors true : 

And this grotesque design exposed to public view."f 

"We shall here offer a few specifications, to prove that we 
have not done injustice to the character of the writings pub 
lished by the early reformers. One means of attacking the 
character of the Catholics, was that of the Dialogue, invented 
by Ulrich von Hutten, one of the most unscrupulous writers 

* To calumny might be added forgery, which was not uncommon in the 
palmy days of the Eeformation. In fact, "Whitaker, a Protestant parson, 
says, in substance, that this was almost peculiar to the reformed party. We 
will allude to one notorious instance in Germany. Otho Pack, vice-chan 
cellor of Duke George of Saxony, forged a pretended Catholic plot, which he 
professed to have learned by prying into the secrets of the duke. His forgery 
caused the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse to take up arms, 
which they however laid down when the falsehoods of this wretch were de 
tected. Still the forgery, though thus exposed, was greedily seized up, and 
published all over Germany ; and there are yet several writers who speak 
of the conspiracy it had fabricated as the league of Passau ! Titus Gates 
had a predecessor, it seems, in Germany, though he far surpassed him in 
wickedness. We must refer our readers to the pages of Audin for an ac 
count of this curious affair ; vol. ii, p. 125, Turnbull s translation, London 
edition. f Dry den. 

VOL. II. 14: 


of the reform party. It consisted in introducing, with dra 
matic effect, the various distinguished men of both sides, the 
Catholic and the Protestant, and pretending to let them speak 
out their own respective sentiments. These dialogues were 
often acted on the stage, with great effect among the popu 
lace. The Catholics were travestied, and made to appear in 
the most ridiculous light ; while their adversaries were always 
victorious. Two of these principal scenic representations 
were designed to ridicule two of the chief champions of Catho 
licity in Germany, Doctors Hochstraet and Eck. The lowest 
humor with certain specimens of which we will not dare 
sully our pages was employed against these distinguished 
divines.* The result was, that they became objects of con 
tempt throughout Germany. This was one way to answer 
their arguments, which it might have been difficult to answer 
in any other! 

Every one, who has glanced at the history of those turbu 
lent times, is familiar with the vulgar legends of the " Pope- 
Ass and Monk-Calf," published by Melancthon and Luther, 
and circulated with prodigious effect among the ignorant 
populace. The " Pope- Ass " was extracted from the bottom 
of the Tiber in 1494 ; and the " Monk-Calf," was discovered 
at Friburg, in Misriia, in 1523.f Lucas Kranach, a painter 
of the time, sculptured this vulgar conceit on wood ; and this 
illustration accompanied the description of the two non-des- 
cript monsters. What surprises us most is, that the tem 
perate Melancthon should have lent himself to this low rib 
aldry, which then passed current for wit. 

Erasmus and other cotemporary writers openly accused the 
reformers of gross calumny. The former alleged many palpa 
ble facts to justify his charge. 

* The curious are referred, for copious extracts from these " dialogues," 
to Audin, p. 196, seqq. 

f " Interpretatio duorum horribilium monstrorum," etc., per Philippuin 
Melancthonem et Martinum Lutherum - inter Opp. Luth. torn, ii, p. 


" Those people are profuse of calumnies. They circulated a report of a 
canon, who complained of not finding Zurich as moral after the preaching of 
Zuinglius as before. ... In the same spirit of candor they have accused an 
other priest of libertinism, whom I, and all other persons acquainted with 
him, know to be pure in word and action. They have calumniated the 
canon because he hates sectaries ; and the priest, because, after having mani 
fested an inclination to their doctrines, he suddenly abandoned them."* 

We might fill a volume with specimens of the scurrilous 
abuse and wicked calumnies of Luther against the Popes, 
bishops, monks, and the Catholic priesthood! We consult 
brevity, and furnish but one or two instances from his Table 
Talk, which abounds with such specimens of decency. " The 
monks are lineal descendants of Satan. When you wish to 
paint the devil, muffle him up in a monk s habit." f Else 
where he says, " that the devil strangled Emser,"J and other 
Catholic clergymen. 

Luther s marriage was not merely a sacrilegious violation of 
his solemn vows ; it was also a master-stroke of policy. 
Through its influence, he secured the adherence and the per 
severing aid of a whole army of apostate monks, who eagerly 
followed his example. Until he took this decisive step, mar 
riage among the clergy and monks was viewed with ridicule, 
if not with abhorrence by the people. After his marriage, it 
became, on the contrary, a matter of boast. Priests, monks, 
and nuns hastened to " the ale-pope of the Black Eagle," to 
obtain this strange absolution from their vows plighted to 
heaven : and he received them with open arms, and granted 
them an Indulgence, which never Pope had granted before! 
Sacrilegious impurity stalked abroad with shameless front 
throughout Germany. 

The married priests became the most untiring friends of the 
reform, to which they were indebted for their emancipation 

* " In Pseudo-Evangelicos," Epist. lib. xxxi, 47. London, Flesher. 

f " Table Talk," p. 109, where he adds : " What a roar of laughter there 
must be in hell when a monk goes down to it ! " Was he thinking of him 
self ? See Audin, p. 305, and also p. 393, seqq. \ Ibid. 


from popery, and for their wives. We have seen them already 
in the book shops and the printing presses. Many of them 
obtained their livelihood, by circulating Lutheran pamphlets 
through the country.* Others " took their stand near the 
church-gates, and often, during the divine offices, exhibited 
caricatures of the Pope and the bishops. "f They carried on 
a relentless war against the Pope ; and it is remarked, that few, 
if any of these married priests and monks, ever repented, or 
were softened in their opposition against the Catholic Church ! 
Luther thus, by his marriage, raised up a whole army of zeal 
ous and efficient partisans, whose co-operation powerfully 
aided the progress of reform.} 

Such then were some of the principal means adopted by 
the reformers and their partisans, for carrying out the work 
of the Reformation ! Were they such as God could have pos 
sibly sanctioned ? Could a cause indebted to such means for 
its success be from heaven ? On the other hand, considering 
the corrupt state of society in Germany, at the beginning of 
the sixteenth century, can we wonder at the great success 
which attended a movement promoted by such unhallowed 
means as these ? We w^ould be surpised, indeed, on the con 
trary, if similar success had not attended it, under all the cir 
cumstances of the case. 

The previous usurpations of Church patronage by the secular 
princes, contrary to the repeated and energetic protests of the 
Popes, had done its deadly work, by thrusting unworthy min 
isters into the sanctuary ; and then, with rare inconsistency, the 
evils and abuses which necessarily ensued, were laid at the 
doors of the Popes who had done every thing in their power 
to prevent them ! We can not too often repeat it ; the ques 
tion of investitures was the great vital question of the period 
of Church history preceding the Reformation. 

* " Infinitus jam erat numerus qui victum ex Lutheranis libris quasritan- 
tes, in speciem bibliopolarum longe lateque per Germanise provincias vaga- 
bantur." Cochlseus, p. 58. Apud Audin. 

f Ibid. | Of. Audin, p. 337, seqq. 


The distinctive doctrines of the Reformation, throwing off 
the wholesome restraints of the old religion, flattering pride 
and pandering to passion ; the protection of powerful princes, 
secured by feeding their cupidity and catering to their basest 
passions ; the furious excitement of the people, fed by mad 
dening appeals from the pulpit and the press, and made to 
revel in works of spoliation and violence; this excitement, 
lashed into still greater fury by the constant employment of 
ridicule, low raillery, misrepresentation, and base calumny of 
every person and of every thing Catholic ; and the marriage 
of so many apostate priests and monks, binding them irre 
vocably to the new doctrines : can we wonder that all these 
causes combined, and acting too upon an age and country 
avowedly depraved, should have produced the effect of rapidly 
diffusing the so called Reformation ? 

We do not, of course, mean to imply, that all who embraced 
the Reformation were corrupt, or were led by evil motives: 
we have no doubt that many were deceived by the specious 
appearance of piety. This was especially the case with the 
common people, who often followed the example and obeyed 
the teaching of their princes and pastors, without taking 
much trouble to ascertain the right. But we have intended 
to speak more particularly of the leading actors in the great 
drama; and to paint the chief parts these men played on 
the stage. 

Much less would we be understood, as indiscriminately and 
wantonly censuring Protestants of the present day. A broad 
line of distinction should be drawn between the first teachers 
and even the first disciples of error, and those who have 
inherited it from them through a long line of ancestry. The 
latter might be often free from great censure, where the for 
mer would be wholly inexcusable. The strong and close 
meshes which the prejudices of early education have woven 
around them ; the dense and clouded medium, through which 
they have been accustomed to view the sun of Catholic truth ; 
the strong influence of parental authority and of family ties ; 


and many such causes, combine to keep them in error. Be 
sides, history, which should be a witness of truth, has been 
polluted in its very sources : and the injustice which its voice 
has done to the cause of truth, has been accumulating for 
centuries. But can Protestants of the present day, notwith 
standing all these disadvantages, hold themselves inexcusable, 
if they neglect to examine both sides of the question, and this 
with all the diligence and attention that so grave a subject 
demands ? 

To enable them to do this the more easily, was one princi 
pal motive that induced us to undertake the review of the 
partial and unfounded statements of D Aubigne, and of others 
belonging to the class of writers of which he is a popular 
representative. If it be thought, that our picture of the causes 
and manner of the Reformation, and of the means to which 
it chiefly owed its success, is too dark, we beg leave to refer 
to the facts and authorities we have alleged. If there be any 
truth in history, our painting has not been too highly colored. 
Had we adduced all the evidence bearing on the subject, the 
coloring might have been still deeper. We had to examine 
and refute the flippant assertions, that the reformers were 
chosen instruments of heaven for a divine work ; and that the 
" reformation was but the reappearance of Christianity." 

A " reappearance of Christianity," indeed ! It is, from the 
facts accumulated above, such a " reappearance," as darkness 
is of light ! Strip the Reformation of all that it borrowed 
from Catholicism, let it appear in its own distinctive charac 
ter, in all its naked deformity ; and it has scarcely one feature 
remaining in common with early Christianity. Did the Apos 
tles preach doctrines which pandered to the passions of man 
kind? Did they flatter princes, by offering to them the 
plunder of their neighbors, and by allowing them to have 
two wives at once, to quiet their troubled conscience ? Did 
they employ the weapons of ridicule, sarcasm, and calumny 
against their adversaries ? Did they excite their followers to 
deeds of lawless violence against the established order of 


things ? Did they break their solemn engagements to heaven ? 
The reformers did all this, and more, as we have shown ; and 
yet they are still to be held up to our admiration, as the new 
and divinely chosen apostles of a Christianity restored to its 
original purity ! 



" The spirit that I have seen 

May be a devil j and the devil hath power 

To assume a pleasing shape." Shakspeare. 

The Eeformation in Switzerland more radical than that in Germany Yet 
like it Sows dissensions Zuingle warlike and superstitious Claims 
precedency over Luther Black or white ? Precursory disturbances 
Aldermen deciding on faith How the fortress was entrenched Riot and 
conflagration Enlightenment Protestant martyrs Suppression of the 
Mass Solemnity of the reformed worship Downright paganism The 
Reformation and matrimony Zuingle s marriage and misgivings Ro 
mance among nuns How to get a husband Perversion of Scripture 
St. Paul on celibacy Recapitulation. 

BEFORE we proceed to examine the manifold influences of 
the Reformation, it may be well briefly to glance at the his 
tory of its establishment in Switzerland. D Aubigne devotes 
two whole books* to this portion of his history, which, as it 
concerns his own fatherland, is evidently a favorite topic with 
him. Our limits will not permit us to follow him through all 
his tedious and romantic details : we must content ourselves 
with reviewing some of his leading statements. 

After what we have already said concerning the causes and 
manner of the Reformation in Germany, it will scarcely be 

* Book viii, vol. ii, p. 267 to 400 : and book xi, vol. iii, p. 255 to 341, 


necessary to dwell at any great length on that of Switzerland. 
The one was but a reappearance of the other to use one of 
our author s favorite words. The same great features marked 
both revolutions, with this only difference: that the Swiss 
was more radical and more thorough, and therefore more to 
D Aubigne s taste. Like the German, however, its progress 
was everywhere signalized by dissensions, civil commotions, 
rapine, violence and bloodshed. And like the German, it 
was also indebted for its permanent establishment to the in 
terposition of the civil authorities. Without this, neither re 
volution would have had either consistency or permanency. 
D Aubigne himself bears unwilling testimony to all these 
facts, though, as usual, he suppresses many things of vital 
importance. We will supply some of his omissions, and avail 
ourselves of his concessions, as we proceed. 

The Reformation found the thirteen Swiss cantons united, 
and in peace among themselves and with all the world. It 
sowed disunion among them, and plunged them into a fierce 
and protracted civil war, which threatened rudely to pluck up 
by the roots the venerable tree of liberty which, centuries be 
fore, their Catholic forefathers had planted and watered with 
their blood ! The shrines sacred to the memory of William 
Tell, Melchtal, and Fiirst, the fathers of Swiss independence, 
were attempted to be rudely desecrated: and the altars at 
which their forefathers had worshiped in quietness for ages 
were recklessly overturned. The consequences of this at 
tempt to subvert the national faith by violence were most 
disastrous. The harmony of the old Swiss republic was de 
stroyed, and the angel of peace departed forever from the hills 
and the valleys of that romantic country. That this picture is 
not too highly colored, the following brief summary of facts 
will prove. 

The four can tons of Zurich, Berne, Schaffhausen, and Basle, 
which first embraced the Reformation, began very soon there 
after to give evidence of their turbulent spirit. They formed 
a league against the cantons which still resolved to adhere to 


the Catholic faith. One article of their alliance forbade any 
of the confederates to transport provisions to the Catholic 
cantons. Arms were in consequence taken up on both sides, 
and a bloody contest ensued. Ulrich Zuingle, the father of 
the Reformation in Switzerland, marched with the troops of 
the Protestant party, and fell, bravely fighting with them 
" the battles of the Lord," on the llth of Oct., 1531 ! Did 
he, in this particular respect, give any evidence of that apos 
tolic spirit, which D Aubigne ascribes to him ? Did ever an 
apostle of the primitive and genuine stamp die on the field of 
battle, while seeking the lives of his fellow mortals? He 
was, moreover, as superstitious, as he was fierce. The histo 
rians of his life tell us, that a little before the battle he was 
stricken with sad foreboding by the appearance of a comet, 
which he viewed as portending direful disasters to Zurich, 
and as announcing his own coming death. 

Our historian of the Reformation, though chary of the char 
acter of Zuingle as an apostle, furnishes us with a little inci 
dent which marks the warlike spirit of the Swiss reformer. 
"In Zurich itself," he says, "a few worthless persons, instiga 
ted to mischief by foreign agency, made an attack on Zuingle 
in the middle of the night, throwing stones at his house, 
breaking the windows, and calling aloud for the red-haired 
Uli, the vulture of Glaris so that Zuingle started from his 
sleep, and caught up his sword. The action is characteristic 
of the man."* 

Zuingle was at Zurich, what Luther was at Wittenberg. 
Each claimed the precedency in the career of the Reforma 
tion. Mr. Hall am thus notices their respective claims : 

"It has been disputed between the advocates of these leaders to which the 
priority in the race of reform belongs. Zuingle himself declares, that in 
1516, before he had heard of Luther, he began to preach the gospel at Zu 
rich, and to warn the people against relying upon human authority. But 

that is rather ambiguous, and hardly enough to substantiate his claim 

Like Luther, he had the support of the temporal magistrates, the council of 

* Vol. iii, p. 275. 
VOL. I. 15 


Zurich. Upon the whole, they proceeded so nearly with equal steps, and 
were so connected with each other, that it seems difficult to award either 
any honor of precedence."* 

We shall have occasion hereafter to refer at some length to 
the bitter controversy which raged between these two boasted 
apostles, the germ of which may perhaps be discovered in 
this early partisan struggle for precedence. They taught con 
tradictory doctrines : one warmly defended, the other as 
warmly denied the real presence of Christ in the holy Euchar 
ist. Were they both guided by the spirit of God ? Can the 
Holy Spirit inspire contradictory systems of belief? If God 
was with Luther, He certainly was not with Zuingle; if he 
was with Zuingle, He certainly could not be with Luther. 
God is the God of order, and not of confusion ; and truth is 
one and indivisible, not manifold and contradictory. 

By the way, what a pity it is that D Aubigne, while laud 
ing the Swiss reformer to the skies could not settle the import 
ant previous question which had so sadly puzzled Zuingle: 
whether the spirit which appeared to him in his sleep, and 
suggested the text of Scripture by which he might disprove 
the real presence, was really black or white? How very 
gently he touches on this passage in the history of his favorite ! 
He merely gives vent to his surprise, by a note of admiration, 
that this circumstance should have " given rise to the asser 
tion that the doctrine promulgated by the reformer was de 
livered to him by the devil !f Did not the reformer s own 
account of the visionj of the nature of which he was cer 
tainly the most competent witness give rise to the suspi 
cion, which afterwards grew into an assertion ? And did not 
his brother reformers openly make the embarrassing charge ? 

* History of Literature, sup. cit. vol. i, p. 163-4. He cites Gerdes, Histor. 
Evang. Reform, i, 103. f D Aubigne, iii, 272-3. 

I Ater fuerit an albus, nihil memini, somnium enim narro : " Whether it 
was black or white, I remember nothing, as I relate a dream." Why relate 
the dream at all, unless he attached some importance to it, as conveying 
some indication or augury of his mission ? Ibid. 


Zurich was the first city of Switzerland which was favored 
with the new gospel. Our author treats in great detail* of 
the circumstances which attended its first introduction; as 
well as of the preliminary discussions, commotions, and riots, 
which were its early harbingers. We will present a few speci 
mens of this truculent spirit. 

Leo Juda, one of the precursors of the new gospel, arrived 
in Zurich " about the end of 1522, to take the duty of pastor 
of St. Peter s church. 5 Soon after his arrival, being at church, 
he rudely interrupted an Augustinian monk who was preach 
ing. " Reverend father Prior, exclaimed Leo, listen to me 
for an instant ; and you, my dear fellow-citizens, keep your 
seats I will speak as becomes a Christian : and he proceeded 
to show the unscriptural character of the teaching he had just 
been listening to. A great disturbance ensued in the church. 
Instantly several persons angrily attacked the little priest 
from Einsidlen (Zuingle). Zuingle, repairing to the council, 
presented himself before them, and requested permission to 
give an account of his doctrine, in presence of the bishop s 
deputies ; and the council, desiring to terminate the dissen 
sions, convoked a conference for the 29th of January. The 
news spread rapidly throughout Switzerland."! 

After having given a very lengthy account of the confer 
ence, which, as might have been anticipated, terminated in 
nothing, our author thus manifests his joy at the brighten 
ing prospects of the gospel. " Every thing was moving for 
ward at Zurich ; men s minds were becoming more enlight 
ened their hearts more steadfast. The Reformation was 
gaining strength. Zurich was a fortress, in which the new 
doctrine had entrenched itself, and from within whose inclosure 
it was ready to pour itself abroad over the whole confeder 
ation ."J 

Our historian proceeds to tell us how the " Reformation 
gained strength," and how " the new doctrine entrenched 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 238, seqq. f Ibid., p. 239. { Ibid., p. 254 


itself in the fortress ;" to say nothing of the " enlightenment," 
of which we will treat hereafter. The "enlightened" council 
of Zurich decided in favor of the reformed doctrines, and 
resorted to force in order to suppress the ancient worship. 
Only think of a town council, composed of fat aldermen and 
stupid burgomasters, pronouncing definitively on articles of 
faith ! In reading of their high-handed proceedings, we are 
forcibly reminded of the wonderful achievements, in a some 
what different field, of the far-famed Dutch governors and 
burgomasters of New Amsterdam, as fully set forth by Irving 
in his inimitable History of New York. The one is about as 
grotesque as the other. They of Zurich did not, however, 
belong to the class of Walter, the Doubter : they were perhaps 
too well satisfied with their superior wisdom and knowledge 
to entertain a doubt! 

Let us trace some of the further proceedings of this enlight 
ened board of councilmen at Zurich. 

" Nor did the council stop here. The relics, which had given occasion to 
so many superstitions, were honorably interred. And then, on the further 
requisition of the three (reformed) pastors, an edict was issued, decreeing that, 
inasmuch as God alone ought to be honored, the images should be removed 
from all the churches of the Canton, and their ornaments applied to the 
relief of the poor. Accordingly twelve counselors one for each tribe the 
three pastors, and the city architect, with some smiths, carpenters, and 
masons, visited the several churches ; and, having first closed the doors, took 
down the crosses, obliterated the paintings (the Vandals /), whitewashed the 
walls, and carried away the images, to the great joy of the faithful (!) who 
regarded this proceeding, Bullinger tells us, as a glorious act of homage to 
the true God." 

In some of the country parishes, the ornaments of the 
churches were committed to the flames, " to the greater honor 
and glory of God." Soon after this the organs were sup 
pressed, on account of their connection with many " supersti 
tious observances, and a new form of baptism was established 
from which every thing unscriptural was carefully excluded."* 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 257-8. 


What enlightenment, and marvelous taste for music and the 
fine arts ! 

" The triumph of the Reformation," our author continues, 
" threw a joyful radiance over the last hours of the burgo 
master Roush and his colleague. They had lived long enough ; 
and they both died within a few days after the restoration of 
a purer (!) mode of worship."* And such a triumph ! ! Be 
fore we proceed to show by what means this purer mode of 
worship was established at Zurich, we will give, from our 
historian, an instance of one out of many of the scenes of 
riot and conflagration enacted by the faithful children of the 
Reformation. The passage details the proceedings of a party, 
which went out on a foraging excursion with the pious bailiff 

" The rabble, meanwhile, finding themselves in the neighborhood of the 
convent of Ittingen, occupied by a community of Carthusians, who were 
generally believed (by the faithful) to have encouraged the bailiff Amberg 
in his tyranny, entered the building and took possession of the refectory. 
They immediately gave themselves up to excess, and a scene of riot ensued. 
In vain did Wirth entreat them to quit the place ; he was in danger of per 
sonal ill-treatment among them. His son Adrian had remained outside of 
the monastery : John entered it, but shocked by what he beheld within, 
came out immediately. The inebriated peasants proceeded to pillage the 
cellars and granaries, to break the furniture to pieces, and to him the booJcs."^ 

This is D Aubigne s statement of the affair : but the depu 
ties of the Cantons found the "Wirths guilty, and pronounced 
sentence of death on them. Our author views them as mar 
tyrs, and tells us,J in great detail, how cruelly they were 
" mocked/ how they were " faithful unto death," and how 
intrepidly the " father and son " ascended the scaffold ! His 
whole account is truly affecting. The Reformation is wel 
come to such martyrs as these ! 

He exclaims : " Now at length blood had been spilt inno 
cent blood. Switzerland and the Reformation were baptized 
with the blood of the martyrs. The great enemy of the gospel 

D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 257-8. f Ibid., p. 264-5. | Ibid., p. 266, seqq. 


had effected his purpose ; but in effecting it, he had struck 
a mortal blow at his own power. The death of the "Wirths 
was an appointed means of hastening the triumph of the 
Keformation."* "The reformers of Zurich," he adds, "had 
abstained from abolishing the Mass when they suppressed the 
use of images ; but the moment for doing so seems now to 
have arrived."t 

He then relates the manner in which the Mass was sup 
pressed, and the "purer worship" introduced in its place. 

" On the llth of August, 1525, the three pastors of Zurich, accompanied 
by Megander, and Oswald, and Myconius, presented themselves before the 
great council, and demanded the re-establishment of the Lord s Supper. 
Their discourse was a weighty one, and was listened to with the deepest 
attention every one felt how important was the decision which the council 
was called upon to pronounce. The Mass that mysterious rite which for 
three (fifteen) successive centuries had constituted the animating principle 
in the worship of the Latin Church (and in all churches) was now to be 
abrogated ; the corporeal presence of Christ was to be declared an illusion, 
and of that illusion the minds of the people were to be dispossessed ; some 
courage was needed for such a resolution as this, and there were individuals 
in the council who shuddered at so audacious a design."! 

The grave board of councilmen did not, however, hesitate 
long : they seem to have made quick work in this most im 
portant matter. 

" The great council was convinced by his (Zuingle s) reasoning, and hesi 
tated no longer. (How could they resist his reasoning, based as it was on 
the teaching of the spirit, Uack or ivhite ?) The evangelical doctrine had 
sunk deep into every heart, and moreover, since the separation from Rome 
had taken place, there was a kind of satisfaction felt in making that separa 
tion as complete as possible, and digging a gulf, (the Reformation was a 
gulf) as it were, between the Reformation and her. The council decreed 
that the Mass should be abolished, and it was determined that on the fol 
lowing day, which was Maunday Thursday, the Lord s Supper should be 
celebrated in conformity with the apostolic model." 

" The altars disappeared," he continues ; " some plain tables, 
covered with the sacramental bread and wine, occupied their 

* D Aubigne, iii, p. 270. f Ibid., p. 271. 

t Ibid. $ Ibid., p. 272. 


places, and a crowd of eager communicants was gathered 
around them. There was something exceedingly solemn in 
that assemblage."* No doubt it was much more solemn than 
had been the Catholic worship ! Our author thus describes 
the solemnity. 

" The people then fell on their knees : the bread was carried round on 
large wooden dishes or platters, and every one broke off a morsel for him 
self; the wine was distributed in wooden drinking cups ; the resemblance 
to the primitive supper was thought to be the closer. (!) The hearts of 
those who celebrated this ordinance were affected with alternate emotions 
of wonder and joy."f Truly there was much to excite wonder, if not joy ! 

In the same strain is the following passage : 
" Such was the progress of the Reformation at Zurich. The simple com 
memoration of our Lord s death caused a fresh overflow in the church of 

love to God, and love to the brethren Zuingle rejoiced at these affecting 

manifestations of grace, and returned thanks to God, that the Lord s Supper 
was again working those miracles of charity, which had long since ceased to 
be displayed in connection with the Sacrifice of the Mass. Our city, said he, 
continues at peace. There is no fraud, no dissension, no envy, no wrang 
ling among us. Where shall we discover the cause of this agreement 
except in the Lord s good pleasure, and the harmlessness and meekness of 
the doctrine we profess? " He, however, spoils this beautiful picture by the 
following cruel sentence, which immediately follows : " Charity and unity 
were there but not uniformity."]; 

Our historian here refers to certain strange doctrines 
broached by Zuingle in this same year 1525, in his famous 
" Commentary on true and false religions," addressed to Fran 
cis I., king of France. He labors hard to defend the reform 
er from the charge of Pelagianism, which his associates in 
the Reformation did not fail to make. But was it honest in 
him to conceal the notorious fact, that, in this same Commen 
tary, Zuingle had placed Theseus, Hercules, Numa, Scipio, 
Cato, and other heathen worthies, in heaven among the elect? 
This was something worse than Pelagianism ; it was down 
right paganism. Could "charity and unity" reign in the 
midst of the fiercest wranglings, of the most bitter civil feuds 

* D Aubigne, iii, p. 273. f Ibid. J Ibid., p. 274. 


and dissensions, and amidst the bloodshed of a protracted 
civil war ? Yet these were the scenes amid which the Swiss 
Reformation revealed. 

"Such," then, "was the progress of the Reformation at 
Zurich !" In other places at Berne and at Basle its pro 
ceedings were marked by similar demonstrations. It was 
everywhere the same. Everywhere, it invoked the civil 
po\ver, and everywhere it was established, as at Zurich, by 
the decisions of boards of town councilmen, and was enforced 
by violence. D Aubigne himself alleges facts which prove 
all this ; and we deem it unnecessary to repeat them ; espe 
cially as we purpose to devote another chapter to the Refor 
mation in Switzerland, in which the facts establishing this 
view will be more fully set forth. 

(Ecolampadius was the chief actor on the Reformation stage 
at Basle. He was a learned and moderate man, the early 
friend of Erasmus, and, in some respects, the counterpart of 
Melancthon. The gospel light seems to have first beamed 
upon him from the eye of a beautiful young lady, whom, in 
violation of his solemn vows plighted to heaven, he espoused ; 
" probably," as Erasmus wittily remarked, " to mortify him 
self!" In the race of matrimony, at least, he could claim the 
precedency over many of his brother reformers. Yet the 
latter did not long remain behind. Matrimony was, in almost 
all cases, the denouement of the drama which signalized the 
zeal for reformation. Zuingle himself espoused a rich widow. 
A widow also caught Calvin, a little later. Martin Bucer, 
another reformer, who figured chiefly in Switzerland, far out 
stripped any of his fellows in the hymeneal career. He be 
came the husband of no less than three ladies in succession: 
and one of them had been already married three times all 
too, by a singular run of good luck, in the reformation line !* 

* For a full and humorous account of this whole matter, see " Travels of 
an Irish gentleman," ch. xlvi ; where the great Irish poet enters into the 
subject at length ; giving his authorities as he proceeds, and playing off his 
caustic wit on the hymeneal propensities of the reformers. 


It is really curious to observe, how D Aubigne treats this 
remarkable subject. Speaking of the Swiss reformers, he says : 

"Several among them at this period (1522) returned to the apostolic 
usage *(!) Xyloclect was already a husband. Zuingle also married about 
this time. Among the women of Zurich, none was more respected than 
Anna Reinhardt, widow of Meyer von Knonau, mother of Gerold. From 
Zuingle s coming among them, she had been constant in her attendance on 
his ministry ; she lived near him, and he had remarked her piety, modesty, 
and maternal tenderness. Young Gerold, who had become almost like a 
son to him, contributed further to bring about an intimacy with his mother. 
The trials that had already befallen this Christian woman whose fate it 
was to be one day more severely tried than any woman whose history is on 
record had formed her to a S3riousness which gave prominency to her 
Christian virtues. She was then about thirty-five, and her whole fortune 
consisted of four hundred florins. f It was on her that Zuingle (kind, sym 
pathetic soul !) fixed his eyes for a companion for life."]: 

Still he seems to have entertained serious misgivings at 
thus breaking his solemn vows : 

" He did not make his marriage public. This was beyond doubt a blame- 
able weakness in one who was in other respects so resolute (reckless ?). The 
light he and his friends possessed on the subject of celibacy was by no 
means general. The weak might have been stumbled." 

This last is a new phrase, introduced, we suppose, to unfold 
a new idea that the people retained conscience longer than 
the boasted reformers, who misled them from the old paths. 

On this same subject, D Aubigne treats us to some fine 
touches of romance, concerning nuns who embraced the Refor 
mation, and then immediately, as a seemingly necessary 
sequel, got married ! We will give a few instances : 

" At Koningsfeld upon the river Aar, near the castle of Hapsburg, stood a 
monastery adorned with all the magnificence of the -middle ages, and in 
which reposed the ashes of many of that illustrious house which had so 
often given an emperor to Germany. To this place the noble families of 

* How very absurd ! Was St. Paul married ? Were any of the Apostles 
ever married, except St. Peter, of whose wife the Scripture says nothing after 
he became an Apostle ? She was probably dead. 

f A very large sum at that time. \ I) Aubigne, vol, ii, p. 383. 

5 Ibid., D. 384. 


Switzerland and of Suabia used to send their daughters to take the vail 

The liberty enjoyed in this convent had favored the introduction not 

only of the Bible (they had it already, and were even obliged to read por 
tions of it daily by their rule), but the writings of Luther and Zuingle ; and 
soon a new spring of life and joy changed the aspect of its interior !"* 

A new spring of life and of joy was certainly thus opened 
to the nuns. They soon became tired of retirement and 
of prayer : they sighed for the flesh-pots of Egypt to which 
they had bidden adieu for the "life and joy" of the world. 
Margaret Watteville, one of them, wrote a letter to Zuingle, 
full of piety and of affection ; and declared that she expressed 
not "her own feelings only, but those of all the convent of 
Koningsfeld who loved the gospel."f 

D Aubigne accordingly tells us, that a " convent into which 
the light of the gospel had penetrated with such power, could 
not long continue to adhere to monastic observances. Mar 
garet Watteville and her sisters, persuaded that they should 
better serve God in their families than in the cloister, solicited 
permission to leave it."J The council of Berne heard their 
prayer : the convent " gates were opened ; and a short time 
afterwards, Catharine Bonnsteten (one of the nuns) married 
William Yon Diesbach/ The nun Margaret Watteville was 
equally fortunate : she " was about the same time united to 
Lucius Tscharner of Coira."|| Such was almost invariably 
the denouement of the reformation plot. 

Our historian, in fact, views the sacrilegious marriages of 
the priests and nuns against their solemn vows freely plighted 
to God at his holy altar as the most conclusive proof of the 
progress of the Reformation ! Mark this curious passage : 

" But it was in vain to attempt to smother the Eeformation at Berne. It 
made progress on all sides. The nuns of the convent D lle had not forgot 
ten Haller s visit. (This was a wretched apostate, who had held improper 
discourse in the convent, which drew upon him a sentence of perpetual ban- 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 280, 281. 

f This letter is given in full, Ibid., vol. iii, p. 281, 282. 

j Ibid. $ Ibid |i Ibid., p. 285. 


ishment from the lesser council of Berne ; which sentence was however 
mitigated by the grand council, which was content with merely rebuking 
him and his associate reformers, and ordering them to confine themselves in 
future to their own business and let the convents alone.)* Clara May, (one 
of the nuns) and many of her friends, pressed in their consciences (!) what 
to do, wrote to the learned Henry Bullinger. In answer, he said : St. Paul 
enjoins young women not to take on them vows, but to marry, instead of 
living in idleness under a false show of piety. (1 Tim. v: 13, 14). Follow 
Jesus in humility, charity, patience, purity, and kindness. Clara, looking 
to heaven for guidance, resolved to act on the advice, and renounce a manner 
of life at variance with the word of God of man s invention and beset 
with snares. Her grandfather Bartholomew, who had served for fifty years 
in the field and council hall, heard with joy of the resolution she had 
formed. Clara quitted the convent,"f and married the provost, Nicholas 

What an evidence of piety, " looking to heaven for guid 
ance," is it not to get married ! And what a perversion of 
Scripture was not that by Henry Bullinger, to induce those 
to marry who had taken solemn vows of devoting themselves 
wholly to God in a life of chastity ! As this is a pretty good 
specimen of the manner in which the reformers " wrested the 
Scriptures to their own perdition," we will give entire the 
quotation of St. Paul to Timothy, referred to by the " learned 
Henry Bullinger/ including the two previous verses, which 
he found it convenient not to quote probably because they 
would have convicted him of a most glaring perversion of 
God s holy word. 

1 Timothy, chap, v, verse 11. But the younger widows shun: for when 
they have grown wanton in Christ, they will marry; (this advice the re 
formers took special care not to follow). 

Verse 12. "Having damnation, because they have made void their first faith, 
(by violating their vows to God). 

V. 13. "And withal, being idle, they learn to go about from house to 
house (as the escaped nuns did at the time of the Reformation): not only 
idle, but talkers also, and inquisitive, speaking things which they ought not. 

V. 14. " I will, therefore, that the younger (who had not taken vows) 

* Such at least is the statement of D Aubigne iii, p. 279. 
f Ibid., p. 284. \ Ibid., p. 285. 2 Peter, iii: 16. 


should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, give no occasion to 
the adversary to speak evil." 

This passage of St. Paul speaks for itself, and needs no 
commentary. While the reformers were quoting St. Paul, 
with a view to induce the nuns to escape from their convents 
and to get married, why did they not also refer to the follow 
ing texts : < 

"But I say to the unmarried and to the widows : it is good for them so to 
continue, even as I"* 

" Art thou bound to a wife ? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed 
from a wife ? Seek not a wife."^ 

" But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a 
wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please 
God. But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, 
how he may please his wife : and he is divided."! 

And why especially did they conceal the following texts, 
which had special reference to the nun who, "having grown 
wanton in Christ, would marry, having damnation, because 
they had made void their first faith ?" 

" And the unmarried woman and the virgin thinketh on the things of the 
Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she that is mar 
ried, thinketh on the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 
Therefore, both he who giveth his virgin in marriage doeth well ; and he 
that giveth her not, doeth better." 

Alas ! the carnal minded reformers understood little of this 
sublime perfection! They could not appreciate it. They 
were satisfied with doing well ; nor did they even come up to 
this standard, any further at least, than to get married! 
Their case is sufficiently explained by St. Paul, in the same 
epistle from which the above texts are extracted. " But the 
sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the spirit 
of God : for it is foolishness to him, and he can not under 
stand : because it is spiritually examined."|| 

"We will now proceed to show more fully, that the subse 
quent developments of the Swiss Reformation corresponded 

* 1 Corinth, vii: 8. f Ibid., verse 27. J Ibid., verses 32, 33. 
5 Ibid., verses 34, 38. || 1 Corinth, ii: 14 


with its first beginnings at Zurich; and that, everywhere, 
throughout the Swiss confederation, it pandered to the worst 
passions, was established by intrigue, civil commotions and 
violence ; and that it openly infringed all previous ideas of 
popular rights and liberty. We shall hereafter devote a sep 
arate chapter to the Calvinistic branch of the Reformation, 
established at Geneva. 



History by Louis De Haller A standard authority Berne the centre of 
operations De Haller s point of view His character as an historian 
His authorities Wavering of Berne Tortuous policy How she em 
braced the reform The bear and the pears Treacherous perjury of 
Berne Zuinglian council Its decrees Eeligious liberty crushed Riot 
and sacrilege Proceedings of Bernese commissioners Downright ty 
ranny The minister Farel His fiery zeal An appalling picture A 
parallel Priests hunted down Character of the ministers Avowal of 
Capito The glorious privilege of private judgment How consistent ! 
Persecution of brother Protestants Drowning the Anabaptists Eefor- 
mation in Geneva Kapid summary of horrors The Bernese army of 
invasion The sword and the Bible Forbearance of Catholics Affecting 
incident at Soleure The war of Cappell Points of resemblance An 
armed apostle A prophet quailing before danger Battle of Cappell 
Death of Zuingle Triumph of Catholic cantons Treaty of peace. 

FOR most of the facts contained in this chapter, we are in 
debted to De Haller, whose late work on the history of the 
Swiss Reformation is a standard authority. So far as we 
know, his facts have never been disputed, nor his arguments 

* His work is entitled : Histoire de la revolution religieuse, ou de la re- 
forme Protestante dans la Suisse Occidentale. Par Charles Louis De Hal 
ler, ancien membre du conseil souverain, et du conseil secret de Berne, chev- 


As we have already seen, Zurich was the first city in 
Switzerland which embraced the Reformation; or, as De 
Haller expresses it, she was "the mother and the root of all 
religious and political Protestantism in Switzerland."* She 
was nearly eight years in advance of Berne in the race of 
reform ; and it was through her influence mainly that the 
latter at length consented to accept the new gospel. But 
once Berne had embraced it, she far outstripped her pre 
ceptor in religious zeal or fanaticism; and she took the lead 
in all the subsequent religioso-political affairs of the country. 
Her central position, her rich and extensive territory, her 
untiring industry, and her adroit and unscrupulous diplomacy, 
gave her the ascendency over the other Protestant cantons, and 
made her the leader in every great enterprise. It was through 
her intrigues that Geneva was induced to receive the new 
doctrines ; it was by her triumphant physical power that the 
Reformation was thrust down the throats of the good Catho 
lic people of Yaud. Bernese preachers, escorted by Bernese 
bailiffs and spies, traversed all the north-western cantons, 
scattering dissension wherever they went, and establishing 
the new gospel, either by intrigue or by force, wherever they 
could. Cautiously and cunningly, but with an industry that 
never tired, and a resolution that never faltered, Berne pur 
sued her Machiavelian policy ; until, by one means or an 
other, about half of the Swiss confederation was torn from 
Catholic unity, and bound, at the same time, by strong polit 
ical ties to herself. Thus she became the great leader of the 
Protestant, as Lucerne has ever been that of the Catholic 
cantons of Switzerland. 

It is from this elevated point of view, that De Haller looks 

alier de 1 ordre royal de la legion d honneur, et de celui de Charles III. 
d Espagne, etc. History of the religious revolution, or of the Protestant 
Reformation, in Western Switzerland. By Charles Louis De Haller, former 
member of the supreme and of the secret councils of Berne, Knight of the 
royal order of the legion of honor, and of that of Charles III. of Spain, etc. 
4th edition. Paris, 1839. 1 vol. 12mo, pp. 436. * De Haller, p. 434. 


down upon the history of the Swiss Reformation. Himself a 
Bernese, and, until he became a Catholic,* a Bernese coun 
selor as high in power and influence as he was in wisdom 
and talents, he was eminently qualified to write a history of 
the religious revolution in Switzerland. Candid and moder 
ate by nature, of an enlarged mind and comprehensive genius, 
his scrupulous veracity has not been denied even by his 
strongest opponents; while he certainly had every oppor 
tunity to become thoroughly acquainted with the events he 
relates. He assures us in his preface, that his history "can 
not be taxed with exaggeration, for it has been faithfully de 
rived from Historical Fragments of the city of Berne, com 
posed by a Bernese ecclesiastic (Protestant) ; from the History 
of the Swiss, by Mallett, a Genevan Protestant; from that 
of Baron d Alt, a Catholic, it is true, but excessively reserved 
upon all that might displease the Bernese ; and above all, in 
fine, from the History of the Reformation in Switzerland, by 
Ruchat, a zealous Protestant minister and professor of belles- 
lettres at the academy of Lausanne, to whom all the archives 
were opened for the composition of his work/ f 

This last named writer, whom he quotes continually, was a 
most violent partisan of the Swiss Reformation; and yet 
even he was compelled to relate a large portion of the truth, 
mixed up, as usual, with much adroit and canting misrepre 
sentation. Thus, he asserts, among other things, u that the 
Catholic religion is idolatrous and superstitious, and that it 
can not be sustained but by ignorance, by interest, by vio 
lence, and by fraud."J De Haller meets the injurious charge, 
not by asserting, but by proving , from undeniable evidence, 
that the Swiss Reformation was established precisely by these 
identical means, and that it could not, in fact, have been 
established otherwise. He says : 

* For having become a Catholic, he was expelled from the council, prob 
ably in order to prove Protestant love of liberty ! 

f De Haller, p. ix. \ Quoted by De Haller, Preface, p. x. 


" Protestants of good faith and there are many such among our separ 
ated brethren will judge for themselves, from a simple exposition of facts, 
whether it was not rather their own religion which was introduced by igno 
rance, interest, violence, and fraud : by ignorance, for it was everywhere the 
ignorant multitude that decided, without knowledge of the cause, upon 
questions of faith and discipline, and this was carried so far that even chil 
dren of fourteen years were called to these popular assemblies ; by interest, 
for the robbery of churches, of temples, and of monasteries, was the first 
act of the Keformation ; by violence, for it was with armed force that altars 
were overturned, images broken, convents pillaged, and it became necessary 
to employ fire and sword, confiscation and exile, in order to make the new 
religion prevail over the ancient belief; by lying and "by fraud, for Luther 
and Zuingle formally recommended both to their followers as means of suc 
cess, and their counsel has been followed with fidelity and perseverance even 
unto our own day. We will now pass on to the facts and the proof."* 

"We defy any one to read attentively De Haller s work, 
without admitting that he has triumphantly proved all this, 
and even more, by facts and evidence derived mainly from 
Protestant sources. Our limits will not, of course, allow us 
to go into all the details of the evidence ; yet we hope to be 
able to furnish enough to convince any impartial mind that 
De Haller s position is entirely sound and tenable. But first 
we must glance rapidly at the manner in which the Reforma 
tion was first introduced into Berne ; which, as we have 
already intimated, subsequently exercised so strong an influ 
ence, both religious and political, on other parts of Switzer 

It was slowly and cautiously that Berne embraced the new 
doctrines. Long did she resist the intrigues of the Zurichers, 
and the wily arts of their new apostle, Ulrich Zuingle. This 
man understood well the character of the Bernese ; their 
wary distrust of any thing new, their deeply seated self- 

* Pref. x, and xi. He gives us in a note, besides some curious facts about 
Zuingle, the following passage from a letter of Luther to Melancthon, dated 
August 30, 1530 : "When we will have nothing more to fear, and when we 
shall be left in repose, we will then repair all our present lies, our f raids, and 
our acts of violence. " 


.interest, and their dogged obstinacy in maintaining whatever 
they finally settled down upon. He well knew all this, and 
he acted accordingly. Writing to Berchtold Haller, the first 
herald of the new gospel at Berne, he advised moderation 
and caution ; " for," says he, " the minds of the Bernese are 
not yet ripe for the new gospel."* In a letter subsequently 
addressed to Francis Kolb, he uses this quaint language, 
alluding to the cantonal type of Berne the bear : 

" My dear Francis ! proceed slowly, and not too rudely, in the business ; 
do not throw to the bear at first but one sour pear along with a great many 
sweet ones, afterwards two, then three ; and if he begin to swallow them, 
throw him always more and more, sour and sweet, pellmell. Finally, empty 
the sack altogether ; soft, hard, sweet, sour, and crude ; he will devour 
them all, and will not suffer any one to take them away from him, nor to 
drive him away."f 

Zuingle understood his men, and his arts succeeded even 
beyond his most sanguine expectations. Berne vacillated for 
several years between truth and error ; her policy was waver 
ing and tortuous ; but at length she threw her whole influence 
into the scale of the Keformation ; and once she had taken her 
position, she maintained it with her characteristic obstinacy. 

Though her counsels were often uncertain, yet, in the main, 
she had continued faithful to the old religion up to the year 
1527. On the 26th of January, 1524, we find her delegates 
uniting with those of the twelve cantons at Lucerne in a 
strong decree, unanimously passed, for the maintenance of 
Catholicity.J Shortly afterwards, she listened with respect 
to the voice of the three Catholic bishops of Constance, Bale, 
and Lausanne, who strongly urged the cantons to remain 
steadfast in their faith, and who promised " that if, in lapse 
of time, some abuses had glided into the ecclesiastical state, 
they would examine the matter with unremitting diligence, 
and abolish the abuses with all their power." 

In 1525-6, the terrible revolt of the peasants took place in 

* Quoted by De Haller, p. 18. f Ibid., p. 18, note, 

t Ibid., p. 22. $ Ibid., p. 23. 

VOL. I. 16 


Germany, and penetrated even into Switzerland. It had cer 
tainly grown out of the revolutionary principles broached by 
the reformers, and it was headed by Protestant preachers, as 
Ruchat, himself a preacher, admits in the following passage : 
" Having at their head the preachers of the reform, they pil 
laged, ravaged, massacred, and burnt every thing that fell 
into their hands."* Sartorius, another Protestant historian 
of Germany, admits the same.-f All social order was threat 
ened with annihilation by these wild fanatics, whose number 
was legion ; and Berne, appalled by the danger, made a tem 
porary truce with her tergiversation, recoiled from the preci 
pice, on the brink of which she had been standing, and fell 
back on her old vantage ground of conservative Catholicity. 
On the 21st of May, 1526, her grand council published an 
edict for the preservation of the old religion, and its members 
bound themselves, ?/ a solemn oath, to maintain it invi 

Yet, in the following year, Berne revoked this decree, 
violated this solemnly plighted oath, joined the Reformation, 
and lent her whole influence to its propagation throughout 
Switzerland ! Her wavering ceased all of a sudden, and her 
policy, hitherto tortuous and always unprincipled, now be 
came firmly settled. Not only she declared for the Reforma 
tion, but she spared no labor, no intrigue, no money, nothing, 
to make it triumph everywhere. It was mainly through her 
subsequent efforts that the Reformation was fastened on a 
large portion of the Swiss republic. By what means this 
was accomplished, we have already intimated; and now we 
will furnish some of the principal specifications and evidence 
bearing on the subject. The facts we are going to allege 
clearly prove this great leading feature of the Swiss Reforma 
tion: that it was only by intrigue, chicanery, persecution, 
and open violence, that it was finally established at the city 

* Quoted by De Haller, p. 23. f Ibid. 

| Ibid., ch. iv, p. 27 seqq. 


of Berne and throughout the canton, as well as in all the other 
cantons where Bernese influence could make itself felt. 

In 1528, a conference, or rather a species of Zuinglian 
council was held at Berne, for the purpose of deciding on the 
articles of faith to be adopted in the proposed reformation. 
Zuingle was the master spirit of the assembly, at which very 
few Catholics assisted. Ten articles, or theses, were there 
adopted by the ministers ; but, though drawn up with studied 
ambiguity and vagueness, they were still signed only by a 
minority of the Bernese clergy, the majority still clinging to 
the old faith. Yet the Bernese grand council of state not 
only adopted and confirmed these articles, but enjoined their 
adoption on all the people of the canton. Pastors and curates 
were forbidden to teach any thing opposed to them; the 
Mass was abolished, altars were to be demolished, images 
to be burnt, and the four bishops of Switzerland were 
declared deprived of all jurisdiction! Moreover, priests 
were permitted to marry, and religious persons of both 
sexes to leave their convents ; the ministers were ordered to 
preach four times each week under penalty of Suspension ; 
and finally the council reserved to itself the right " to change 
this new religion if any one would prove to them any thing 
better by the Scriptures."* 

Such was the tenor of the famous Bernese decree, by which 
the new gospel was first established by law. Nor did it re 
main a dead letter. Violence, sacrilege, and robbery rioted 
throughout the canton. The churches of the Catholics were 
forcibly seized on, the altars were overturned, the beautiful 
decorations of paintings and statuary were defaced or broken 
to pieces, people were forbidden any longer to worship at the 
altars and shrines of their fathers ; and very soon the whole 
canton presented the appearance of a country through which 
an army of Vandals and Huns had but lately marched. It is 
a certain and undoubtedj^c^, that the Reformation m&s forced 

* Quoted by De Haller, pp. 52, 53. 


upon the Bernese people, against the positive will of the ma 
jority ! But the minority were active, untiring, revolutionary, 
and they had the civil authorities to back them ; the majority 
were often indifferent and negligent; their natural protectors, 
the more zealous among the clergy, had been compelled to 
fly ; and thus left alone, a flock without shepherds, the people 
were at length wearied out and harassed into conformity. 

To enforce the new religious law, commissioners were sent 
from Berne into all the communes of the canton, with instruc 
tions to address the people, and to use every effort to induce 
them to embrace the new gospel. After their harangues, the 
matter was to be immediately put to the popular vote, boys 
of fourteen years being entitled to the privilege of suffrage ! 
If the majority went for the new gospel, even if this majority 
consisted but of one voice, the minority were compelled to 
abandon the old religion, and the Mass was declared publicly 
abolished throughout the commune! If, on the contrary, the 
majority, as was often the case, in spite of every entreaty 
and threat, went for the old religion, the Protestant minority 
still remained free to practice publicly their worship. More 
over, in this latter case, the vote of the commune was again 
taken by parishes, in order that those in which the majority 
were Protestants might be protected by the civil authority. 
Even if a commune voted unanimously in favor of Catholicity, 
the possibility of practicing their religion was taken away from 
the Catholics by the banishment of their priests, and the 
stationing amongst them of Protestant preachers ; or if their 
Bernese excellencies graciously allowed them to retain their 
pastors, it was only for a time and until further orders !* 

We ask whether all this was not downright tyranny of the 
worst kind ; and whether our assertion made above was at all 
exaggerated ? But this is not yet all, nor even half. There 
were in Switzerland certain cities and districts under the joint 
government and control of Berne, Friburg and other Catholic 

* Quoted by De Haller, pp. 53, 54. 


cantons. To these Berne sent out her emissaries, both re 
ligious and political. If they could be gained over to the 
new religion, they would probably throw off the yoke of their 
Catholic joint sovereigns, and fall solely under the govern 
ment of Berne, to say nothing of the spiritual good which 
would accrue to their souls from the new gospel. Hence no 
money nor intrigue was to be spared to proselytize them. 

The fiery minister, Farel, armed with Bernese passports, 
and accompanied or sustained by Bernese deputies and bailiffs, 
ran over these common cities and districts, with the impetu 
ous fury of one possessed by an evil spirit. He stirred up 
seditions whithersoever he went, either against the old religion 
or against himself; and his progress was everywhere marked 
by conflagrations and ruins. In the bishopric of Bale, in 
several towns and communes belonging to the present can 
ton of Vaud, in Soleure, and elsewhere, this furious fanatic 
and political firebrand agitated society to its very depths, 
and lashed popular passions into a fury which was entirely un 
controllable. Wherever the populace could be won over to his 
party, or even overawed into silence, he caused the Mass to be 
abolished, churches to be stripped, pillaged, and sacrilegiously 
desecrated, and altars to be overturned ! And the Bernese 
authorities not only calmly looked on, but they even sanc 
tioned all these ferocious deeds, and cast the shield of their 
protection around the person of Farel.* 

Insurrections and violence everywhere marked the progress 
of the Reformation. Look, for instance, at the following 
graphic picture of Switzerland during the epoch in question, 
drawn by De Haller : 

"During the years 1529, 1530, and 1531, Switzerland found herself in a 
frightful condition, and altogether similar to that of which we are now wit 
nesses, three centuries later. Nothing was seen everywhere but hatred, 
broils, and acts of violence ; everywhere reigned discord and division ; dis 
cord between the cantons, discord in the bosom of the governments, discord 
between sovereigns and subjects, in fine, discord and division even in every 

* See De Haller, p. 71 seqq., for detailed proof of all this. 


parish and in every family. The defection of Berne, at which the Zurichers 
had labored for six years, had unchained the audacity of all the meddlers 
and bad men in Switzerland. On all sides new revolutions broke out ; at 
B;ile ? at St. Gall, at Bienne, at Thurgovia, at Frauenfeld, at Mellingen, at 
Brerngarten, even at Gaster and in the Toggenburg, at Herissau, at Wettin- 
gen, and finally at Schaff housen. Everywhere they were brought about by 
a band of poltroons or at least of ignorant burgesses, both turbulent and 
factious, against the will of the intimidated magistrates, and of the more 
numerous and peaceable portion of the inhabitants who looked upon these 
innovations with horror, but whose indignation was arrested and whose zeal 
was paralyzed, as happens during our own days, by a pretended necessity 
of avoiding the effusion of blood, and preventing the horrors of a civil war. 
Thus one party declared an implacable war against their fellow-citizens and 
every thing that is sacred, while the other was condemned to suffer without 
resistance all manner of injuries, all manner of hostilities ; and this state of 
triumphant iniquity and of miserable servitude was qualified by the fine 
name of peace. Everywhere, except at Shaff housen, a city which was 
always distinguished for its tranquillity and the peaceful character of its in 
habitants, seditious armed mobs rushed of their own accord to the churches, 
broke down the altars, burnt the images, destroyed the most magnificent 
monuments of art, pillaged the sacred vases as well as other objects of value, 
and put up for public sale at auction the sacred vestments : by such vandal 
ism and by such sacrileges was the religious revolution of the sixteenth 
century signalized."* 

Just imagine that the United States were densely populated 
and filled with cities, and that the Catholic religion were that 
of the people ; but that a religious revolution had been effected 
in one of our great cities, say Philadelphia, by violence, 
sustained by the civil authorities ; that there all our churches 
had been pillaged and desecrated, a part of them burned 
down and the other part seized on for the Protestant worship ; 
that the frenzy spread, until similar scenes were enacted in 
half the cities and towns of our republic ; imagine, in a word, 
the Philadelphia riots, aggravated a hundred fold, extending 
through half the country, and keeping the people in a state 
of anarchy and civil war for more than twenty years ; imagine 
our hitherto peaceful republic broken up by discord, and 

* D Haller, pp. 62-64. 


bathed in the blood of its citizens, until at last the fierce riot 
ers sit down in triumph amidst the ruins they had everywhere 
strewn around them ; and you will then have some faint con 
ception of the rise, progress, and triumph of the Protestant 
Reformation in a large portion of Switzerland! Recent 
events, both in this country and in Switzerland, have proved 
that Protestantism has not yet lost all of its original fierce 
ness, and that its turbulent spirit has not been yet entirely 
subdued by the onward march of refinement and civilization. 
As might have been anticipated, the Bernese met with fre 
quent resistance in their efforts to destroy the old religion, 
and to force the new one on the people. Popular insurrec 
tions broke out at Aigle, and in the bailiwicks of Lentzburg, 
Frutigen, Interlaken, and Haut-Siebenthal, as well as in other 
places. How was this resistance met ? It was crushed by 
main force, probably with a view to demonstrate to all the 
world how sincerely the Bernese were attached to the great 
fundamental principles of the Reformation, that each one 
should read the Bible and judge for himself! As De Haller 

" An edict of persecution was issued, which directed that images should 
be everywhere broken and altars demolished, as well in the churches as in 
private houses ; that priests who yet said Mass should be everywhere hunted 
down, seized on whenever they could be caught, and put in prison : that 
every one who spoke badly of the Bernese authorities should be treated in 
like manner ; for, says Euchat, the Catholics of the canton and vicinity 
declaimed horribly against them. In case of relapse, the priests were out 
lawed and delivered up to public vengeance : in fine, the same edict decreed 
punishment against all who should sustain these refractory priests (that is, 
all who remained faithful to the ancient religion), or who afforded them an 
asylum. A third edict of the 22d December, forbade any one to go into 
the neigboring cantons to hear Mass, under penalty of deprivation for those 
who held office, and of arbitrary punishment for private individuals."* 

Was ever tyranny and persecution carried further than 
this ? And yet this is but one chapter in the history of the 
Swiss Reformation. The same ferocious intolerance was 

* De Haller, p. 57-58. 


witnessed wherever the Reformation made its appearance, in 
the once peaceful and happy land of William Tell. Did our 
limits permit, we might prove this by facts, as undeniable as 
they are appalling. Those Catholic priests who were not 
willing to betray their religion, or to sell their conscience for 
a mess of pottage, were everywhere thrown into prison or 
banished the country. They were succeeded by preachers, 
many of them fugitives from France and Germany, and most 
of them men of little learning and less piety, remarkable only 
for a certain boldness and rude popular eloquence or decla 
mation. Men of this stamp, who had suddenly, and often 
without vocation or ordination, intruded themselves into the 
holy ministry, could not hope to win or secure the confidence 
of the people. Accordingly, we find the following candid 
avowal on the subject, in a confidential letter of the minister 
Capito to Farel, written as late as 1537. He says : 

" The authority of the ministers is entirely abolished ; all is lost, all goes 
to ruin. The people say to us boldly : you wish to make yourselves the 
tyrants of the Church, you wish to establish a new papacy. God makes me 
know what it is to be a pastor, and the wrong we have done the Church ly the 
precipitate and inconsiderate vehemence which has caused us to reject the Pope. 
For the people, accustomed to unbounded freedom, and as it were nourished 
by it, have spurned the rein altogether ; they cry out to us : we know 
enough of the gospel, what need have we of your help to find Jesus Christ ? 
Go and preach to those who wish to hear you."* 

The intolerance of the Protestant party was surpassed only 
by its utter inconsistency. The glorious privileges of private 
judgment, of liberty of conscience and of the press, were for 
ever on their lips ; and yet they recklessly trampled them all 
under their feet ! Each one was to interpret the Bible for 
himself, and yet he who dared interpret it differently from 
their excellencies, the counsellors of Berne, was punished as 
an enemy of the government ! The counter principle of a 
union of church and state, was even openly avowed and con- 

* Epistola ad Farel. inter epist. Calvini, p. 5 ; quoted by De Haller, p. 
99, note. 


stantly acted on. The council of ministers, held at Berne in 
1532, subscribed a confession of faith drawn up by Capito, in 
which the following remarkable passages are found : 

" The ministers acknowledge that it is not possible for them to produce any 
fruit in their church, unless the civil magistrate lend his assistance to advance 
the good work. . . , Every Christian magistrate ought in the exercise of his 
power, to be the lieutenant and minister of God, and to maintain among his 
subjects the evangelical doctrine and life, so far at least as it is exercised out 
wardly and is practised in external things.* .... The magistrates should 
then take great care to preserve sound doctrine ; to prevent error and seduc 
tion, to punish blasphemy and all outward sins affecting religion and con 
duct, to protect the truth and good morals."f 

This forcibly reminds us of the doctrines of the nursing 
fathers, so much spoken of, even in our American Presbyte 
rian Confession of Faith. As some additional evidence of the 
love which the Swiss reformers bore to the liberty of the press 
and to that of conscience, read the two following extracts from 
our author : 

"The Bernese, who had talked so much about the liberty of conscience 
and that of the press while it was a question of establishing the reform, then 
sent deputies to Bale to complain of the libels which were there printed 
against the deputies of Berne, and they demanded that silence should be im 
posed on the preachers unfavorable to the reform. Thus it is that the Pro 
testants did not wish to allow liberty to any one, so soon as they became 
the masters. The Bernese deputation was, however, dismissed from Bale 
without having attained its object."! 

" In virtue of the freedom of conscience, the triumphant innovators re 
moved all the Catholic counselors, and forbade any one to preach against 
what they called the reform. At Bule, in particular, the nobility were driven 
away, and the Catholic clergy, the chapter, and even the professors of the 
university, abandoned forever a city of which they were the ornament and 
the glory, and which owed to them its lustre and its very existence."} 

Those who are guilty of the unpardonable crime of adhering 
tenaciously and fondly to the time-honored religion of their 
fathers, were not the only ones who felt the smart of Protest 
ant intolerance in Switzerland. Brother Protestants were 

* De HaUer, p. 97. He quotes Kuchat. f Ibid. p. 100. 

t Ibid., pp. 58-59. \ Ibid., p. 64. 

VOL. I. 17 


also persecuted, if they had the misfortune to believe either 
more or less than their more enlightened brethren, who hap 
pened to be orthodox for tlie time ~being. The Anabaptists, 
in particular, were hunted down with a ferocity which is al 
most inconceivable. The favorite mode of punishing them, 
especially at Berne, was by drowning! This manner of 
death was deemed the most appropriate, because it was only 
baptizing them in their own way !* The rivers and lakes, 
which abound in Switzerland, often received the dead bodies 
of these poor deluded men. Sometimes, however, this mode 
of punishment was dispensed with in favor of others less re 
volting to humanity. Says De Haller: 

" Their Excellencies of Berne, not being able to convince the Anabaptists, 
found it much more simple to banish them, or to throw them into the water 
and drown them. These punishments having, however, rather increased 
their number, the council of Berne, being embarrassed, resorted to measures 
less severe, and acting under the advice of the ministers, published on the 2d 
of March, 1533, an edict announcing that the Anabaptists should be left in 
peace, if they would keep their belief to themselves, and maintain silence ; 
but that if they continued to preach and to keep up a separate sect, they 
should not be any longer condemned to death, but only to perpetual impris 
onment on BREAD AND WATER ! This was certainly a singular favor. Catho 
lics, who are accused of so much intolerance, had never molested the Zuin- 
glians who had kept their faith to themselves, and even when these openly 
preached their doctrines from the pulpit, they were not condemned either to 
death or to perpetual imprisonment on bread and water. f 

As we have already said, the progress of the Swiss Refor 
mation was everywhere marked by intrigues, popular com 
motions, mob violence, and sacrilege. So it was at Geneva, 
into which the Reformation was introduced in the year 1535, 
chiefly again through the intrigues of Berne. It was not 
Calvin who established the Reformation at Geneva ; he only 
reaped the harvest which had been sown by others. The 
fiery Farel, shielded with the panoply of Bernese protection 
and acting in concert with Bernese envoys, had already suc 
ceeded in there subverting, to a great extent, the ancient 

* See De Haller, pp. 39, 69, et alibi passim. f Ibid, pp. 153-154. 


faith. And by what means? We have not room for full 
details, for which we must refer our readers to a very interest 
ing chapter in De Haller s history.* Suffice it to say, that 
the whole city was thrown into commotion ; that the Catholic 
churches were violently seized upon, after having been first 
sacrilegiously defaced and desecrated in the hallowed name 
of religion ; that the Catholic clergy were hunted down and 
forced to fly the city ; that nearly half of the population was 
compelled to emigrate, in order to secure to themselves peace 
and freedom of conscience; that even after they had emi 
grated, their property was confiscated and they were disfran 
chised, in punishment of their having dared to leave the city ; 
that the harmless nuns of St. Clare, after having been long 
harassed and insulted by the mob, were also compelled to 
leave their home and seek shelter elsewhere ; that the Catho 
lic church property was seized upon by the reformed party ; 
that, after having filled the whole city, and especially the 
churches, with the "abomination of desolation," Farel and 
his pious associates were able to assemble congregations and 
to preach, in only two out of the many Genevan churches of 
which they had obtained possession ; that even in these they 
often preached to empty benches, so great was the horror 
which all these multiplied sacrileges inspired in the popular 
mind; and that, finally, the Reformation was established in 
Geneva by the great council, and afterwards by the swords 
and bayonets of the Bernese army, which entered the city 
in 1536 ! 

Such were the first fruits of the Reformation in Geneva. 
In the canton of Yaud, which was invaded and subdued by 
the Bernese army in the same year, the proceedings were, if 
possible, still more violent, and the policy still more truculent. 
Wheresoever the Bernese army marched, there the Reforma 
tion was established by force of arms. The Bernese bore the 
sword in one hand and the Bible in the other; and they 

* De Haller, chap. xvi. 


established the new gospel in Yaud pretty much after the 
Mohammedan fashion of proselytism ! 

De Haller proves all this by an array of evidence, which 
can neither be gainsaid nor resisted.* He proves it from the 
testimony of Ruchat, Mallet, Spon, and other Protestant 
historians. He furnishes FACTS, with names, dates, and 
specifications;/^^ as clear as the noonday sun ; facts which 
we challenge any one to deny or contravene. And we ask, 
whether it be at all likely that a Reformation effected by such 
means, was, or could possibly have been, the work of God ? 
Could God have chosen such instruments and such means to 
effect His work? Could He smile on commotions, on riots, 
on robbery, on impurity, on broken vows, on sacrilege? 
Gracious heavens ! How much do those delude themselves, 
who still cling to the belief that the Reformation was the 
work of God ! Well may we address to them, and to all who 
may chance to read these pages, the emphatic words of St. 
Augustine prefixed to the title-page of De Hallers work: 
" Let those hear who have not fallen, lest they fall ; let those 
hear who have fallen, that they may rise !"f 

If it be alleged, that the Catholics too sometimes resorted to 
violence and appealed to the sword ; we answer that they did 
so, almost without an exception, only in necessary self-defense. 
Their forbearance, amidst all the terrible outrages which we 
have briefly enumerated, was indeed wonderful. If they some 
times repelled force by force ; if they flew to arms more than 
once in their own defense, it was surely competent for them 
to do so. Their lives were threatened, their property was 
invaded, their altars were desecrated ; and surely, when con 
siderations such as these urged them to buckle on their good 
swords, they were not only excusable, but they would have 
been arrant cowards had they failed to do so. And no one 

* See De Haller, p. 271 seqq. and 321 seqq. 

f Audiant qui non ceciderunt, ne cadant; audiant qui ceciderunt, ut 


has ever yet dared to taunt with cowardice the brave moun 
taineers of Lucerne, Schwitz, Uri, Unterwald, and Zug, who 
inherit the faith, the country, and the unconquerable spirit 
of William Tell. The recent occurrences in Switzerland 
prove that this spirit has not flagged in the lapse of centuries, 
that Catholicity is not incompatible with bravery ; and that 
soldiers who pray, both before and after battle, are under the 
special protection of the great God of battles ; though He, for 
His own wise and inscrutable purposes, may permit them 
sometimes to be overwhelmed by superior numbers. 

But whoever will read De Haller s history must be con 
vinced, that the Swiss Catholics were much more forbearing 
and tolerant than the Swiss Protestants. The former, in 
general, allowed the latter the free exercise of their religion 
in places where these w r ere in the minority; whereas there 
are, indeed, but few instances on record, where the latter 
accorded the same privilege to the former under similar cir 
cumstances. Did our limits permit, we might go fully into 
the comparison, and prove the accuracy of our remark by 
undeniable evidence. But we must be content with a mar 
ginal reference, *and with the following touching anecdote, the 
scene of which is laid in the city of Soleure. 

The Protestant party had sought to gain the ascendency in 
this place, by entirely overthrowing the Catholic religion. 
For this purpose they seized upon the moment when nearly 
all the members of the council were absent, for entering into 
a conspiracy to take possession of " the arsenal and of the 
Franciscan church, to surprise the priests in their beds,and to 
massacre all the Catholics in case of resistance."-)- The con 
spiracy was, however, discovered to the avoyer^ or chief mag 
istrate, left in charge of the city Nicholas de Wengi ; and 
he took every prudent precaution against the meditated 
attack. On the 30th day of October, 1533, at one hour after 
midnight, the conspirators rushed to the assault; but they 

* De Haller, pp. 72, 150 note, 156, 272, etc. f Ibid., p. 157. 


were amazed to find nearly half the city turned out ready to 
receive them, and to defend themselves to the last extremity. 
After a sharp encounter, in which the arsenal was succes 
sively taken and retaken, without, however, any effusion of 
blood, the conspirators were finally driven off. But, though 
beaten, these had not yet given up the contest. They retired 
beyond the bridge, and having intrenched themselves, began 
to insult the Catholics. Indignant, the latter rushed to the 
arsenal, brought a cannon to bear upon the Protestant in- 
trenchment, and fired one shot, but without effect. Just as 
they were preparing to fire another, the venerable avoyer 
Wengi rushed, out of breath, before the cannon s mouth, and 
exclaimed: "Beloved and pious fellow-citizens, if you wish 
to fire against the other side, I will be your first victim ; con 
sider better the state of things."* His interposition was 
effectual ; calm was restored ; and the insurgents left the city. 

We conclude this chapter s already long enough, by 
glancing rapidly at the war of Cappell in 1531, the first great 
religious war that ever was waged in Switzerland.! And we 
do this the more willingly, because it seems to us that there 
is a striking parallelism between this first and the last relig 
ious war to which we have already alluded. In both, the 
Catholics acted strictly on the defensive ; in both. Lucerne was 
at the head of the Catholic party ; in both, the genuine chil 
dren of Tell proved themselves worthy of him, of their ances 
tral glory, of their country. There is, however, this important 
difference in the two wars, that whereas in the first the Catho 
lics were triumphant, in the last, after having performed prodi 
gies of valor, they were finally overwhelmed by main force. 

In the beginning of the year 1531, the Protestant cantons, 
and especially Zurich, flagrantly violated the treaty concluded 
in 1529, by which the Catholic and Protestant cantons had 

* De Haller, p. 159. 

f There had been some troubles in 1529, which were, however, settled 
without much effusion of blood. 


mutually promised not to molest or interfere with one an 
other on account of religion. After having fomented troubles 
in various districts partly under the control of the Catholic 
cantons, Zurich at length openly invaded the territory of St. 
Gall, and issued a decree forbidding the five neighboring 
Catholic cantons to trade with her subjects in corn and salt. 
The object of this embargo was, to cut off from the Catholic 
mountaineers the supplies which they had been in the habit 
of deriving by commerce from those living in the plains, and 
thereby to starve them into acquiescence in the glorious work 
of the Reformation ! Zuingle and the preachers openly clam 
ored for the blood of the Catholics, in their public harangues 
in Zurich. Here is an extract from one of the great Swiss 
reformer s sermons, delivered on the 21st September, 1531: 

" Rise up, attack ; the five cantons are in your power. I will march at 
the head of your ranks, and the nearest to the enemy. Then you will feel 
the power of God, for when I shall harangue them with the truth of the 
word of God, and shall say : whom seek you, ye impious ! then, seized 
with terror and with panic, they will not be able to answer, but they will 
fall back, and will take to flight, like the Jews on the mountain of Olives at 
the word of Christ. You will see that the artillery which they will direct 
against us, will turn against themselves, and will destroy them. Their 
pikes, their halberds, and their other arms, shall not hurt you, but will hurt 

This discourse was printed and circulated ; but alas for the 
prophetic faculty of the reformer! The event falsified his 
prediction in every particular. And, as Zuingle himself 
marked the preparations the five cantons were making for 
the coming struggle, even his own heart failed him ; and the 
lately inspired prophet of God dwindled down into a miser 
able poltroon, overcome by terror, and pretending to have 
had strange presentiments, and observed strange signs in the 
heavens ! Nevertheless, the Zurichers compelled him to march 
at their head to the village of Cappell, near the confines of 
the hostile cantons. 

* Quoted by De Haller, pp. 78, 79, note. 


Here the two armies encountered ; but fiery and fanatical 
as were the Zuinglians, they could not withstand the impetu 
ous charge of the brave Swiss mountaineers. These carried 
every thing before them. The Zurichers took to flight in 
great disorder, with the loss of " nineteen cannon, four stands 
of colors, all their baggage, and of at least fifteen hundred 
men, among whom were twenty-seven magistrates, and FIF 
TEEN PREACHERS."* Zuingle, the apostle of Switzerland, fell, 
sword in hand, fighting the battles of the Lord, as never 
apostle had fought them before ! 

The Zurichers, however, recovered from their fright in a 
few days, and on the 21st of October, y " having been rein 
forced by their allies of Saint Gall, of Toggenburg, of Thur- 
gavia, and even of the Orisons, of Berne, of Bale, and of 
Soleure, they again attacked the Catholics with very superior 
forces ; but they were a second time defeated at the mountain 
of Zug, and took to flight in disorder, abandoning their artil 
lery, their money, and their baggage." J 

The Catholic army now marched in triumph almost to the 
very walls of Zurich, after having a third time defeated the 
Zurichers, and driven them from their position. The Zuing 
lians, thus humbled by defeat, were now disposed to accede 
to the terms of peace proposed by the Catholic cantons. The 
treaty bound the Zurichers " to leave the five cantons, with 
their allies and adherents, from the present to all future time, 
in peaceable possession of their ancient, true, and undoubted 
Christian faith, without molesting or importuning them w r ith 
disputes or chicanery, and renouncing all evil intentions, 
stratagems, and finesse ; and that, on their side, the five can 
tons would leave the Zurichers and their adherents free in 
their belief; that in the common districts, of which the can 
tons were co-sovereigns, the parishes which had embraced the 

* Quoted by De Haller, pp. 79, 80. 

f The battle of Cappell was fought on the llth of October. 

I Be Haller, p. 81. Ibid., p. 83. 


new faith, might retain it if it suited them, that those which 
had not yet renounced the ancient faith would also be free to 
retain it, and that, in fine, those who should wish to return to 
the true and ancient Christian faith would have the right 
to do so."* The Zurichers further bound themselves to pay 
or rather to restore to the five cantons, the money which the 
latter had expended in the difficulties of 1529 ; and to replace, 
at their own expense, the ornaments destroyed or forcibly 
taken from the different churches during the preceding years. 
Thus terminated the war of Cappell. It left the Catholics 
in the ascendant, and contributed more than any thing else 
to check the headlong progress of the Swiss Reformation. 



Two parallel developments The brave old ship Modern Protestantism 
quite powerless A "thorough godly reformation" needed Qualities for 
a reformer The three days battle The puzzle A thing doomed 
Which gained the victory ? The French revolution Ranke and Hallam 
The rush of waters stayed Persecution Protestant spice The Coun 
cil of Trent Revival of piety The Jesuits Leading causes and practical 
results Decline of Protestantism Apt comparison What stemmed the 
current ? Thread of Ariadne Divine Providence Reaction of Catholi 
city Casaubon and Grotius Why they were not converted Ancient 
and modern Puseyism Justus Lipsius and Cassander The inference 
Splendid passage of Macaulay Catholicity and enlightenment The 
Church indestructible General gravitation to Rome The circle and its 

No fact in the entire history of the Reformation is perhaps 
more remarkable, than that which is presented by the speedy 
decline of Protestantism, on the one hand, and the no less 

* De Haller, p. 85. 


rapid reaction of Catholicity on the other. A rapid glance at 
the history of these opposite developments of the two systems 
of religion will throw much additional light on their respect 
ive characters, and will serve to explain to us still more fully 
what we have been endeavoring thus far to elucidate ; the 
character, causes, and manner of the Reformation. It is in 
accordance with a divine maxim, to judge the tree by its 
fruits ; and we propose, in the present chapter, to make a 
general application of this rule ; reserving, however, more 
special details on the subject to those which will follow. 

The Reformation swept over the world like a violent storm : 
and it left as many ruins in its course. It threatened to over 
turn every thing, and bear down all things in its impetuous 
course. So rapid was its work of destruction, that its admirers 
and partisans confidently predicted the speedy downfall of 
the old religion, and the triumphant establishment of the new 
ones on its ruins. Even many of those who remained stead 
fast in the ancient faith, though firmly relying on the solemn 
promises of Christ, yet trembled not a little for the safety of 
the Church. Jesus seemed to be asleep, while the tempest 
was so furiously raging on the sea of the world ; and His dis 
ciples, who were in the good old ship of the Church tossed on 
the waves, like their prototypes of the gospel, "came to him, 
and awaked him, saying : Lord save us, we perish. And 
Jesus said to them : Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith ? 
Then rising up He commanded the winds and the sea, and 
there came a great calm."* 

Such was precisely the phenomenon presented by the his 
tory of the Church in the sixteenth century. Soon the storm 
of the Reformation had spent its fury, and settled down into 
" a great calm ; " the calm of indifferentism and infidelity on the 
lately troubled sea of Protestantism, and of peace and security 
on the broad ocean of Catholicism. When men s minds had 
had time to recover from the excitement produced by the first 

* St. Matthew, viii : 24^-26. 


movements of the Reformation, they were enabled to estimate 
more justly the motives and causes of this revolution. The 
result was, that many enHghtened Protestants returned to the 
bosom of the Catholic Church ; while others, gifted with less 
grace, or indued with less moral courage, plunged madly into 
the vortex of infidelity. Thus Catholicity, far from being ex 
tinguished, was, by a powerful reaction, speedily reinstated 
in its former position of impregnable strength ; while its ene 
mies, so lately boasting of their victory, were weakened by 
division and soon dwindled away. 

Like the sturdy oak of the forest, which, instead of being 
thrown down by the storm, vanquishes its fury, and even 
sends its roots further into the earth in consequence of the agi 
tation of its branches ; so also the tree of the Church, planted 
by Christ and watered with His blood and that of his count 
less martyrs, successfully resisted the violence of the storm of 
Protestantism, and became, in consequence of it, more firmly 
and solidly fixed in the soil of the world more strongly 
"rooted and founded in charity."* 

Nothing is more certain in all history than this wonderful 
two-fold development. Even D Aubigne, surely an unexcep 
tionable witness, admits its entire truth, however he may seek 
to disguise it by the thin mantle of sophistry. Speaking of the 
decline of modern Protestantism, he employs this emphatic lan 
guage. "But modern Protestantism, like old Catholicism (!), 
is, in itself, a thing from which nothing can be hoped a 
thing quite powerless. Something very different is necessary to 
restore to men of our day the energy which saves."f So that, 
the experiment of Protestantism, notwithstanding all the noise 
it has made in the world, and all its loud boasting about hav 
ing destroyed superstition and enlightened mankind, has still 
turned out a complete failure, even according to the explicit 
avowal of its most unscrupulous advocate ! It has been en 
lightening and saving the world now for full three hundred 

* Ephesians, iii : 17. f D Aubigne, vol. i. Preface, p. ix. 


years ; and in the end it has lost itself, and "become "a thing 
quite powerless, from which nothing can be hoped ! " 

A new Reformation is now necessary to reform the old one, 
and to impart to it " the energy which saves." D Aubigne, 
we presume, is to be the father of this new " thorough-godly" 
Reformation. We wish him joy of his new apostleship, and 
hope he may succeed better than his predecessors. He has, 
we humbly think, all the qualities requisite for a reformer, 
according to the approved type of the sixteenth century: a 
smattering of learning, a sanctimonious air, in which he 
greatly excels some of his predecessors, a skill in sophistry, 
which has, however, the admirable simplicity of not being 
always even specious ; and, to crown all, an utter recklessness 
of truth. 

We will here give a passage from his pages, which has the 
double merit of exhibiting the gist of his theory on our pres 
ent subject, and of being a perfect curiosity of its kind. It is 
an attempt to answer a writer of the Port Royal,* who had 
compared the religious struggle of the last three centuries to 
a battle of three days duration ; and who had accumulated 
evidence to prove that the infidel philosophers of France, who 
brought about the French revolution, had but carried out the 
principles broached by the reformers. Our author "willingly 
adopts the comparison, but not the part that is allotted to 
each of these days." He politely declines receiving the well 
deserved compliment, which the Frenchman was paying him 
with his most gracious bow. He says : 

" No, each of those days had its marked and peculiar characteristic. On 
the first, (the sixteenth century) the word of God triumphed, and Eome was 
defeated ; and philosophy, in the person of Erasmus, shared in the defeat-. 
On the second (the seventeenth century), we admit that Rome, her author 
ity, her discipline, and her doctrine, are again seen on the point of obtaining 
the victory, through the intrigues of a far-famed society (the Jesuits), and 
the power of the scaffold, aided by certain leaders of eminent character, and 
others of lofty genius. The third day (the eighteenth century), human phi- 

* Port Royal, par Sainte Beuve, vol. i, p. 20. 

THE 1 H II EE I ) A Yfc> BATTLE. 205! 

lo>ophy arises in all its pride, and finding the battle field occupied, not by 
the gospel, but by Rome, it quickly storms every intrenchment, and gains 
an easy conquest. The first day s battle was for God, the second for the 
priest, and the third for reason what shall the fourth be ? "* 

Aye, that s the puzzle \ He piously hopes that it will be 
for "the triumph of Him to whom triumph belongs ;"f that is, 
for his own new system of reformation, which is to be but the 
"reappearance" of the old. But this is manifestly hoping 
against all hope ; for modern Protestantism, he confesses, is " a 
powerless thing? It has settled down into indifference and 
an almost mortal lethargy, in all those countries where it was 
first established, and where the progress of enlightenment has 
laid bare to the world its endless vagaries and ever growing 
inconsistencies its hopeless powerlessness. Its tendency is 
necessarily downward ; it bears in its own bosom the seeds 
of death ; it must share the fate of all other merely human 
institutions, and must afford another verification of our blessed 
Saviour s prophetic declaration: "Every plant which my 
heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."J No 
human eloquence nor effort can prevent it from meeting this 
doom, the seal of which is already, in fact, branded on its 
forehead, D Aubigne himself being our witness I 

It is needless for us to dwell long in the examination of this 
pretty theory about the " three days battle." The triumph 
which he ascribes to the Reformation on the first day was not 
real ; it was scarcely even apparent. Notwithstanding the 
premature shouts of victory raised by the reformed party, the 
old Church still retained a vast ascendency in point of num 
bers, of extension, and also, as we hope to prove in the sequel, 
of intelligence. In compensation for her losses on the battle 
field of Europe, she gained great accessions to her numbers 
in the East Indies, in Asia, and in the new world, which her 
navigators had discovered and her missionaries had converted. 
When a portion of Europe spurned her voice, she " turned to 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 304. f Ibid. J St. Matthew, xv : 13. 


the Gentiles," and waved the banner of her cross in triumph 
over new worlds. She certainly then clearly gained the ad 
vantage, even in the first day s battle. 

In the second, she was avowedly in the ascendant. During 
it, she, to a great extent, retrieved her losses, even in Europe 
itself. Of course, all the talk about " the intrigues of a far- 
famed society and the power of the scaffold," is mere palaver. 
We shall soon prove it to be little better, on unquestionable 
Protestant authority. As to the scaffold, we hope to show 
hereafter,* by a mass of evidence which can not be answered, 
that it was much more frequently erected by those who raised 
the clamor for the emancipation of thought, than by those 
who continued to abide quietly in the old Church. 

In the third day s battle, Catholicity again triumphed. The 
French revolution was, in fact, but the "reappearance" of 
the "great Reformation," in another and more terrific shape. 
The French infidels made at least as much noise about liberty 
of thought, and they inveighed as fiercely against the corrup 
tions of the Catholic Church, as had been done by the re 
formers two and a half centuries before. The former did 
little more, in fact, than catch up the Babel-like sounds of the 
latter, and re-echo them, in a voice of thunder, throughout 
Europe. But this mere human thunder was finally drowned 
by the divine thunder of the Vatican ! Rome conquered the 
refractory daughter, as she had conquered the refractory 
mother. If she alone "occupied the battle field," it was 
because the Protestants had retired from it ; had ingloriously 
fled, and left Christianity to its fate, during the continuance 
of this its fiercest struggle with infidelity ! Did Protestants 
win even one laurel in that ensanguined battle field ? Can 
they count even one martyr who fell a victim in that bloody 
effort to put down Christianity ? The Catholic clergy were 
massacred in hundreds ; they poured out their blood like 

* In Chapter xii, "On the influence of the Reformation on Religious 


water, for the defense of religion. Did the French infidels 
attack Protestants ? If they did not and they certainly did 
not then how are we to explain this singular phenomenon, 
but on the principle of a sympathetic feeling ? Men seldom 
go to battle against their secret or open friends and allies ! 

To show the rapid decline of Protestantism, after the first 
fifty years of its violent existence ; and to unfold the parallel 
reaction of Catholicism, we had intended to present a rapid 
analysis of what a famous living Protestant writer of Ger 
many Leopold Ranke has abundantly proved on the subject, 
in his late " History of the Papacy during the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries."* But Henry Hallam, another eminent 
Protestant writer of great research and authority, has antici 
pated us in our labor. In his Introduction to the History of 
Literature, already quoted, he follows Ranke, and presents 
every thing of consequence, bearing on our present subject, 
which the eminent German historian had more fully exhibited, 
as the result of much patient labor and research. Hallam 
also adds to the recital many things of his own. His work 
has thus greatly abridged our labor, and we shall do little 
more than cull from its pages, and put into order, what may 
best serve to elucidate the matter in hand. We presume that 
no impartial man will question our authorities. 

The decline of Protestantism, and the reaction of Catholi 
cism w r ere intimately connected: they went hand in hand. 
The same causes that explain the one, will in a great measure 
account for the other ; with perhaps this exception, that Prot 
estantism, like all other merely human institutions, carried 
within its own bosom an intrinsic principle of dissolution ; 
whereas Catholicity, on the other hand, had w r ithin itself, 
strongly developed, the principle of vitality and of perma 
nency. These two opposite characteristics are, in fact, emi 
nently distinctive of the two systems. 

* " Histoire de la Papaute pendant les xvi et xvii siecles." Traduite de 
1 Allemand par M. J. B. Haiber. 4 vols. 8vo. A Paris, 1838. 


According to Hallam, Protestantism began to decline, and" 
Catholicity to gain ground, shortly after the middle of the 
sixteenth century. The immediate disciples of the reformers, 
after the death of the latter, soon lost the fierce and warlike 
spirit originally manifested by those who had reared the ban 
ner of revolt against Koine. The enthusiasm of the first on 
slaught speedily died away, and the principle of hatred, which 
had originated the Reformation, was gradually weakened. A 
counter principle of love the very essence of Christianity 
and of God himself gradually gained the ascendant even in 
the bosom of many among those who, in a moment of fierce 
excitement, had been temporarily estranged from the Catho 
lic Church. The consequence was, that vast bodies of Prot 
estants re-entered its pale. 

Both Ranke and Hallam bear evidence to the truth of 
these remarks. The latter says : 

" This prodigious increase of the Protestant party in Europe after the 
middle of the century (xvi) did not continue more than a few years. It 
was checked and fell back, not quite so rapidly or completely as it came on, 
but so as to leave the antagonist Church in perfect security." After a te 
dious apology for entering on this subject in a history of literature, he pro 
poses " to dwell a little on the leading causes of this retrograde movement 
of Protestantism; a fact," he continues, "as deserving of explanation as the 
previous excitement of the Pteformation itself, though from its more nega 
tive character, it has not drawn so much of the attention of mankind. 
Those who behold the outbreaking of great revolutions in civil society or in 
religion, will not easily believe that the rush of waters can be stayed in its 
course ; that a pause of indifference may come on, perhaps very suddenly, 
or a reaction bring back nearly the same prejudices and passions (!) as those 
which men had renounced. Yet this has occurred not very rarely in the 
annals of mankind, and never on a larger scale than in the history of the 
Keformation !"* 

He then proceeds to assign some of the leading causes 
which, according to his view, "stayed the rush of waters" of 
the revolution, called by courtesy the Reformation. After 
speaking of the stern policy of Philip II. of Spain, and as- 

* Introduction to the History of Literature, etc., sup. cit. vol. i, p. 272. ., 


signing undue prominence to the inquisition, "which soon 
extirpated the remains of heresy in Italy and Spain" into 
which countries Protestantism never penetrated, at least to 
any extent, and therefore could not be " extirpated" he next 
alludes to the civil wars in France between the Huguenots 
and the Catholics, and then comes down to Germany. " But 
in Bavaria, Albert V., with whom, about 1564, this reaction 
began ; in the Austrian dominions, Rodolph II. ; in Poland, 
Sigismund III. ; by shutting up churches, and by discoun 
tenancing in all respects their Protestant subjects, contrived 
to change a party once powerful, into an oppressed sect."* 

We hate persecution, no matter what is made the pretext 
for its exercise; but every candid man must allow that, in 
resorting to these measures of severity, the German Catholic 
princes did but repay their Protestant subjects in their own 
coin. If they took from them their churches, it must be 
borne in mind that those same churches were originally 
erected by Catholics, to whom they rightfully belonged, and 
that, in the first effervescence of the ReSjrmation, they had 
been seized on violently by the Protestant party. They did 
but take back by law, what had been wrested from the right 
ful owners by lawless violence, and what would not have 
been otherwise surrendered. If " they discountenanced their 
Protestant subjects," it was only after a long and bitter ex 
perience of the troubles they had caused, of the riots and 
conflagrations they had brought about in the abused name 
of religion and of liberty, and of the utter fruitlessness of 
conciliatory measures. 

Besides, had not the German Protestant princes proceeded 
with still greater harshness against their Catholic subjects, 
whose only crime was their calm and inoffensive adherence 
to the religion of their fathers ? The account was certainly 
moro than balanced, as we shall show more fully hereafter.f 

* Introduction to the History of Literature, etc., sup. cit. vol. i, p. 273. 
f In Chapter xii. 


These facts constitute at least extenuating circumstances, 
which a man of Mr. Hallam s moderate principles and love 
of historic justice should not have wholly concealed. But, 
we presume, he deemed it expedient to add a little Protestant 
spice to his narrative, in order to season for the palate of his 
English Protestant readers the otherwise insipid viands of 
admissions in favor of Catholicity. 

One leading cause of the reaction of Catholicity, according 
to him, was the promulgation and general adoption of the 
decrees of the Council of Trent. 

"The decrees of the Council of Trent were received by the spiritual 
princes of the empire (German) in 1566; and from this moment, says 
the excellent historian who has thrown most light on this subject, began a 
new life for the Catholic Church in Germany. "* 

We heartily concur in the truth of this remark. Divine 
Providence, which draws good out of evil, wisely brought 
about the Council of Trent, and watched over its protracted 
and often interrupted labors, till they were brought to a 
happy termination. This was, in fact, the only legal, as well 
as the only adequate remedy to the evils of the Church in 
the sixteenth century. The Tridentine canons and decrees 
for reformation exercised a powerful influence throughout 
Christendom. Through them, faith was everywhere settled 
on an immovable basis, local abuses disappeared, and piety 
revived. The Reformation was the indirect cause of all this 
good ; and in this point of view, if in no other, it may claim 
our gratitude. 

The revival of piety, through the influence of the Triden 
tine Council, is thus attested by Mr. Hallam : 

" The reaction could not. however, have been effected by any efforts of 
the princes, against so preponderating a majority as the Protestant churches 
had obtained, if the principles that originally actuated them had retained 
their animating influence, or had not been opposed by more efficacious 
resistance. Every method was adopted to revive an attachment to the 
ancient religion, insuperable by the love of novelty, or the power of argu- 

* Ranke, ii, p. 46. Hallam, Chapter x. 


ment (!). A stricter discipline and subordination were introduced among 
the clergy : they were early trained in seminaries, apart from the senti 
ments and habits, the vices and virtues (!) of the world. The monastic 
orders resumed their rigid observances." * 

Speaking of the important influence of the Jesuits in 
bringing about this Catholic renovation, he says : 

" But, far above all the rest, the Jesuits were the instruments for regain 
ing France and Germany to the Church they served. And we are more 
closely concerned with them here, that they are in this age among the links 
between religious opinion and literature. We have seen in the last chapter 
with what spirit they took the lead in polite letters and classical style ; with 
what dexterity they made the brightest spirits of the rising generation, 
which the Church had once dreaded and checked (!) her most willing and 
effective instruments. The whole course of liberal studies, however deeply 
grounded in erudition, or embellished by eloquence, took one direction, one 
perpetual aim the propagation of the Catholic faith. . . . They knew how 
to clear their reasoning from scholastic pedantry and tedious quotation for 
the simple and sincere understandings which they addressed ; yet, in the 
proper field of controversial theology, they wanted nothing of sophistical (!) 
expertness or of erudition. The weak points of Protestantism they attacked 
with embarrassing ingenuity ; and the reformed churches did not cease to 
give them abundant advantages by inconsistenc} r , extravagance, and passion. f 
At the death of Ignatius Loyola, in 1556, the order he had founded was 
divided into thirteen provinces besides the Roman ; most of which were in 
the Spanish peninsula, or its colonies. Ten colleges belonged to Castile, 
eight to Arragon, and five to Andalusia, Spain was for some time the fruit 
ful mother of the disciples, as she had been of the master. The Jesuits 
who came to Germany were called Spanish priests. They took possession 
of the universities : they conquered us, says Ranke, on our own ground, 
in our own homes, and stripped us of a part of our own country. This, 
the acute historian proceeds to say, sprung certainly from the want of under 
standing among the Protestant theologians, and of sufficient enlargement of 
mind to tolerate unessential differences. The violent opposition among each 
other, left a way open to these cunning strangers, who taught a doctrine not 
open to dispute."! 

He then proceeds to treat of the practical results brought 

* Ranke, ii, p. 46. Hallam, Chapter x, 8. 

f Ibid., 10, where he cites Hospinian, Ranke, and Tiraboschi, the first a 
declared enemy of the Jesuits. J Ibid., p. 274, $ 11. 


about by these causes. These were a rapid declension of 
Protestantism, and a correspondent increase of Catholicism. 

"Protestantism, so late as 1578, might be deemed preponderant in all the 
Austrian dominions, except the T}Tol.* In the Polish diets, the dissidents, 
as they were called, met their opponents with vigor and success. The eccle 
siastical principalities were full of Protestants ; and even in the chapters 
some of them might be found. But the contention was unequal, from the 
different character of the parties ; religious zeal and devotion (!), which fifty 
years before had overthrown the ancient rites in northern Germany, were 
now more invigorating sentiments*in those who secured them from further 
innovation. In religious struggles, where there is any thing like an equality 
of forces, the question soon comes to be which party will make the greatest 
sacrifice for its own faith. And while the Catholic self-devotion had grown 
far stronger, there was much more of secular cupidity, lukewarmness, and 
formality in the Lutheran church. In very few years, the effects of this 
were distinctly visible. The Protestants of the Catholic principalities went 
back into the bosom of Rome. In the bishopric of Wurtzburg alone, sixty- 
two thousand converts are said to have been received in the year 15S6."f 

" The reaction." he continues a little afterwards, "was not less conspicu 
ous in other countries. It is asserted that the Huguenots had already lost 
more than two-thirds of their number in 1580 ; | comparatively, I presume, 
with twenty years before. And the change in their relative position is 

manifest from all the histories of this period At the close of this period 

of fifty years (A. D. 1600), the mischief done to the old Church in its first 
decennium (from 1550 to 1560) was very nearly repaired ; the proportions 
of the two religions in Germany coincided with those which had existed at 
the pacification of Passau. The Jesuits, however, had begun to encroach a 
little on the proper domain of the Lutheran church ; besides private conver 
sions, which, on account of tJte rigor of the laws, not certainly less intolerant 
than in their own communion, could not be very prominent, they had 
sometimes hopes of the Protestant princes, and had once, in 1578, obtained 
the promise of John, king of Sweden, to embrace openly the Romish (!) 
faith, as he had already done in secret to Possevin, an emissary dispatched 
by the Pope on this important errand. But the symptoms of an opposition, 
very formidable in a country which has never allowed its kings to trifle with 
it (except at the time of the Reformation), made this wavering monarch re 
trace his steps. His successor, Sigismund, went further, and fell a victim to 
his zeal, by being expelled from his kingdom." Here was Protestant toler 
ation ! 

* Ranke, ii, p. 78. f Ib., p. 121. | Ib., p. 147. $ Hallam, ib. f p. 275, $ 14. 


" This great reaction of the papal religion," he proceeds, " after the shock 
it had sustained in the first part of the sixteenth century, ought forever to 
restrain that temerity of prediction so frequent in our ears. As women 
sometimes believe the fashion of last year in dress to be wholly ridiculous, 
and incapable of being ever again adopted by any one solicitous for her 
beauty,* so those who affect to pronounce on future events are equally con 
fident against the possibility of a resurrection of opinions which the major 
ity have for the time ceased to maintain. In the year 1560, every Protest 
ant in Europe doubtless anticipated the overthrow of popery ; the Catholics 
could have found little else to warrant hope than their trust in heaven. The 
late rush of many nations towards democratical opinions has not been so 
rapid and so general as the change of religion about that period. It is im 
portant and interesting to inquire what stemmed this current. We readily 
acknowledge the prudence, firmness, and unity of purpose that, for the most 
part, distinguished the court of Eome, the obedience of its hierarchy, the 
severity of intolerant laws, and the searching rigor of the inquisition ; the 
resolute adherence of the great princes to the Catholic faith, the influence of 
the Jesuits over education : but these either existed before, or would, at 
least, not have been sufficient to withstand an overwhelming force of opinion. 

" It must be acknowledged that there ivas a principle of vitality in that relig 
ion independent of its external strength. By the side of its secular pomp, its 
relaxation of morality (!), there had always been an intense flame of zeal 
and devotion. Superstition it might be in the many, fanaticism in a few ; 
but both of these imply the qualities which, while they subsist, render a 
religion indestructible. That revival of an ardent zeal through which the 
Franciscans had in the thirteenth century, with some good, and much more 
evil effect (!), spread a popular enthusiasm over Europe, was once more dis 
played in counteraction of those new doctrines, that themselves had drawn 
their life from a similar development of moral emotion." f 

Coming from the source it does, this is truly a valuable 
avowal. After all the talk, then, about the "downfall of 
popery," after all the loud boasting and high pretensions of 
Protestantism, the experiment of three hundred years is be 
ginning to convince all reasonable men of what they should 
have known before: that the Catholic religion "has a prin 
ciple of vitality in her," after all, and that she is " indestruc 
tible." It could not be otherwise : Christ himself had pledged 

* A very apposite comparison, truly, to illustrate the new religious fashions ! 
f Hallam, p. 275, 276, \ 15. 


his solemn word that " the gates of hell shall not prevail against 
his Church, built on a rock :"* and this simple promise solves 
the whole mystery which so sadly puzzled such men as Ranke 
and Hal lam. It is the thread of Ariadne, which would have 
conducted them with security from the tortuous windings of the 
labyrinth of history, in which they appear to have been lost. 
It would have explained to them, among other things, why it 
is that in all the great emergencies of the Church, God has 
always raised up, as instruments to do his high behests, men 
and institutions just such as the exigency of the times de 
manded. Thus, for instance, the Franciscans and Domini 
cans (why did Mr. Hallam omit the latter ?) in the thirteenth 
century, and the Jesuits and St. Charles Borromeo, to pass 
over many more illustrious names, in the sixteenth ; together 
with St. Athanasius in the fourth century, St. Cyril, St. Leo, St. 
Chrysostom, and St. Augustine in the fifth, St. Gregory the 
Great in the end of the sixth, St. Gregory VII. in the eleventh, 
St. Bernard in the twelfth, St. Thomas Aquinas in the thir 
teenth, and many others in various other ages, are all examples 
of this wonderful providence of God watching over the safety 
of his Church, which is " the pillar and ground of the truth."f 

The reaction in favor of the Catholic Church continued 
with redoubled force in the seventeenth century. 

" The progress of the latter Church " (the Catholic), says Mr. Hallam, 
"for the first thirty years of the present (seventeenth) century, was as 
striking and uninterrupted as it had been in the final period of the six 
teenth. Victory crowned its banners on every side The nobility, both 

in France and Germany, who in the last age had been the first to embrace 
a new faith, became afterwards the first to desert it. Many also of the 
learned and able Protestants gave evidence of the jeopardy of that cause by 
their conversion. It is not just, however, to infer that they were merely 
influenced by this apprehension. Two other causes mainly operated : one, 
to which we have already alluded, the authority given to the traditions of 
the Church, recorded by the writers called fathers, and with which it was 
found difficult to reconcile all the Protestant creed ; another, the intolerance 
of the reformed churches, both Lutheran and Calvinistic, which gave as little 
latitude (less) as that which they had quitted."]: 

* St. Matth. xvi : 18. f 1 Tim. iii : 15. } Hallam, vol. ii, p. 30, $ 11. 


"The defections," (from Protestantism) he continues, "from whatever 
cause, are numerous in the seventeenth century. But two, more eminent 
than any who actually renounced the Protestant religion, must be owned to 
have given evident signs of wavering, Casaubon and Grotius. The proofs of 
this are not founded merely on anecdotes which might be disputed, but on 
their own language.* Casaubon was staggered by the study of the fathers, 
hi which (whom ?) he discovered many things, especially as to the Euchar 
ist, which he could not in any manner reconcile with the tenets of the 
French Huguenots. Perron used to assail him with arguments he could 
not parry. If we may believe this cardinal, he was on the point of declar 
ing publicly his conversion, before he accepted the invitation of James I. to 
England : and even while in England, he promoted the Catholic cause more 
than the world was aware." After a feeble endeavor to impair the validity 
of this statement of Perron, he adds : " Yet if Casaubon, as he had much 
inclination to do, being on ill terms with some in England, and disliking the 
country, had returned to France, it seems probable that he would not long 
have continued in what, according to the principles he had adopted, would 
appear a schismatical communion."f 

" Grotius," he says, " was, from the time of his turning his attention to 
theology, almost as much influenced as Casaubon by primitive authority, 
and began, even in 1614, to commend the Anglican church for the respect it 
showed, very unlike the rest of the reformed, to that standard.J But the ill 
usage he sustained at the hands of those who boasted their independence of 
papal tyranny (!) ; the caresses of the Gallican clergy after he had fixed his 
residence at Paris ; the growing dissensions and virulence of the Protest- 

* In a very lengthy and learned note, he here accumulates evidence from 
the writings and correspondence of Casaubon, in support of the statement 
made in the text. He also speaks at length of the labors of the learned 
Cardinal Perron. f Hallam, vol. ii, p. 30, 11. 

J Truly, as the wisest of men has said, there is nothing new under the 
sun. Grotius, Casaubon, and many other learned Protestants, more than 
two hundred years ago, seem to have taken the identical ground now or 
lately occupied by the Puseyites in England. This will appear from a perusal 
of the copious notes of Hallam on their writings. (Ibid.) Speaking of the effort 
of Grotius to extract from the Council of Trent a meaning favorable to his own 
semi-catholic views, he says : " his aim was to search for subtle interpretations, 
by which he might profess to believe the words of the Church, though conscious 
that his sense was not that of the imposers. It is needless to say that this is 
not very ingenuous," etc. Perhaps the history of Grotius and Casaubon may 
serve to throw additional light on the end and aim of the Puseyite controversy. 

It is remarkable that Grotius, persecuted by brother Protestants in 
Holland, found a peaceful shelter from the storm in Catholic France ! 


ants ; the choice that seemed alone to be left in their communion between 
a fanatical anarchy, disintegrating every thing like a church on the one hand, 
and a domination of bigoted and vulgar ecclesiastics on the other ; made him 
gradually less and less averse to the comprehensive and majestic unity of 
the Catholic hierarchy, and more and more willing to concede some point of 
uncertain doctrine, or some form of ambiguous expression. This is abun 
dantly perceived, and has been often pointed out, in his Annotations on the 
Consultation of Cassander, written in 1641 ; in his Animadversions on Rivet, 
who had censured the former treatise as inclining to popery ; in the Votum 
pro Pace Ecclesiastica, and in the Rivetiani Apologetici Discussio ; all which 
are collected in the fourth volume of the theological works of Grotius. These 
treatises display a uniform and progressive tendency to defend the Church 
of Rome in every thing that can be reckoned essential to her creed ; and in 
fact he will be found to go further in this direction than Cassander."* 

But, alas ! neither Casaubon nor Grotius ever penetrated 
beyond the threshold of the temple of Catholicity. Though 
they seem to have had light enough to know and to love the 
truth, yet were they not worthy the gift of faith, which is 
granted to those only who become "as little children" for 
Christ s sake. We have already seen by what circumstances 
the former was prevented from entering the Catholic pale. 
Of the latter Hallam says : 

" Upon a dispassionate examination of all these testimonies, we can hardly 
deem it an uncertain question whether Grotius, if his life had been prolonged, 
would have taken the easy leap which still remained ; and there is some 
positive evidence of his design to do so. But, dying on a journey, and in a 
Protestant country, this avowed declaration (in favor of Catholicity) was 
never made."f 

It is dangerous to tamper with the proffered grace of heaven, 
or to put off conversion ! The learned Lipsius went further ; 
he was faithful to grace, and " took the easy (not so easy) 
leap" into the Catholic Church. Hallam tells us that he 
spent the latter years of his life " in defending legendary mi 
racles, and in waging war against the honored dead of the 

* Hallam, vol. ii, p. 32-35, 13. Cassander was a Catholic theologian, who 
was commissioned by the emperor Ferdinand to write a work to conciliate 
the Protestant party. Many think that, in executing this task, he had, through 
the best motives no doubt, conceded too much. He died in 1566, aged 53 
years. f Ibid., p. 35, 16. 


Reformation!"* This remark was, of course, intended. by 
the historian as an evidence of his own Protestant orthodoxy, 
and. as a douceur to English bigotry. This unworthy viru 
lence, however, but enhances the more the value of his pre 
vious admissions in favor of Catholicity, which could have 
been wrung from him only by the sternest evidence of facts. 
Justus Lipsius was a prodigy of classical learning and erudi 
tion. He became a most exemplary Catholic, and died at 
Louvain in 1606. 

We have now completed our rapid analysis of the facts 
connected with the decline of Protestantism on the one hand, 
and the reaction of Catholicity on the other. We have shown, 
on unquestionable Protestant authority, the existence and 
extent of both these parallel developments. Every candid 
man will easily draw the obvious inference from these re 
markable results of the two opposite systems : which is, that 
Protestantism was a human, and Catholicity a divine institu 
tion. We can explain the facts in no other way. To attempt 
to explain them on the principles of mere human philosophy 
is a miserable fallacy. If Protestantism was true, it would 
have conquered and endured; if Catholicity was false, it 
must have fallen. What is human is changeable, and liable 
to decline and decay; what is divine has the principle of 
vitality strong within it, and abideth forever. "By their 
fruits ye shall know them." 

We will close our remarks on this subject by a well- 
known avowal of another Protestant writer of great emi 
nence, Thomas Babington Macaulay, whose testimony, though 
already often quoted, is too apposite to the matter in hand to 
be here omitted. The passage is taken from an article in the 
Edinburg Review on Ranke s History of the Papacy, another 
Circumstance which would seem fairly to entitle it to a place 
in this chapter. 

"There is not, and there never was, on this earth, a work so well 
deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of 

* Hallam, vol. ii, p. 35, $ 16. 
VOL. I. 19 


that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilization. No 
other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times 
when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon ; and when cameleopards 
and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses 
are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Roman Pontiffs. 
This line we trace back, in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned 
Napoleon in the nineteenth century, to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the 
eighth ; and far beyond the time of Pepin, the august dynasty extends until 
its origin is lost in the twilight of fable ! (Was the apostolic age "the twi 
light of fable ?") The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the 
republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy ; and the 
republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, 
not in decay, nor a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigor. The 
Catholic Church is still sending forth, to the furthest ends of the world, 
missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustine, and 
still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she con 
fronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. 
Her acquisitions in the new world have more than compensated her for 
what she has lost in the old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the 
vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, 
countries which, a century hence, may not improbably contain a population 
as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her com 
munion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions,* and it 
will be difficult to show that all the other Christian sects united amount to 
one hundred and twenty inillions.f 

"Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long 
dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the govern 
ments, and of ail the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the 
world ; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of 
them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon set foot on Britain 
before the Frank had passed the Rhine when Grecian eloquence still 
flourished at Antioch when idols were still worshiped in the Temple of 

* The number of Catholics in the world has been variously stated. 
An official statistical account, lately published in Rome, makes the number 
160,842,424. Malte Brun estimates it at above 164,000,000; and others 
have stated it at 180 or even 200,000,000. The Roman statement is perhaps 
the most to be relied on. It does not at least exceed ; it may even fall below 
the mark, in consequence of the probable incompleteness of the returns. 

j- This embraces the Greek and Oriental churches, and is still doubtless 
excessive. The total number of Protestants, including free-thinkers, etc., is 
not probably over 50,000,000. fjrjic ^ * 


Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigor, when some traveler 
from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a 
broken arch of London bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul s ! " 

Truly splendid testimony to the vitality of the Catholic 
Church, coming, as it does, from the pen of a sworn enemy 
of a Scotchman and a Presbyterian ! Speaking of the trite 
remark that, as the world becomes more enlightened, it will 
renounce Catholicity and embrace Protestantism, he says : 

" Yet we see that, during these two hundred and fifty years Protestantism 
has made no conquests worth speaking of. Nay, we believe, that as far as 
there has been a change, that change has been in favor of the Church of 
Eome. We can not therefore feel confident that the progress of knowledge 
will necessarily be fatal to a system, which has, to say the least, stood its 
ground in spite of the immense progress which knowledge has made since 
the days of Queen Elizabeth." He a little after adds : " four times since 
the authority of the Church of Eome was established in western Christen 
dom, has the human intellect risen up against her. Twice she remained 
completely victorious. Twice she came forth from the conflict bearing the 
marks of cruel wounds, but with the principle of life still strong within her. 
When we reflect on the tremendous assaults which she has survived, we 
find it difficult to conceive in what way she is to perish ! " 

Yes it must be avowed : the Catholic Church is indestruc 
tible, and therefore divine ! You might as as well try to blot 
out the sun from the heavens, as to extinguish the bright light 
of the Catholic Church from the earth ! Clouds may, indeed, 
hide for a time the sun s disc from the eye of the beholder; 
but the sun is still there, the same as when he shone forth 
before upon us with his most brilliant light : so also, the clouds 
of persecution and prejudice may cover for a time the fair 
face of the Catholic Church ; but the eye of faith penetrates 
those dark clouds, and assures us, that though partially con 
cealed, she is still there ! And when those clouds will clear 
away, she will again shine out with a more brilliant and a 
more cheering light than ever ! He who said : " Heaven and 
earth may pass away, but my words shall not pass away,"*has 
also pronounced that " The gates of hell shall not prevail 
against her." 

Perhaps the most remarkable circumstance in the tendency 


of modern society, is the general and manifest reaction in 
favor of Catholicity throughout the world, and especially in 
Protestant countries. There seems to be a universal gravita 
tion of all spirits towards Rome !* Germany, the first theater 
of the Reformation, seems to have led the way in this awaken 
ing. Besides the works of Voigt, Hurter, and Ranke, which * 
are well known, there are also : the Universal History and the 
Journeys of the Popes, by the great Protestant historian, John 
Miiller ; the History of the Princes of the House of Hohenstau- 
fen, by the famous Raumur ; the History of the Church, and the 
History of Italy, by M. Leo ; not to mention a host of other 
works by eminent German Protestant writers of the day, all of 
which evidence, by their spirit and their disposition to do 
at least partial justice to the Popes and to the old religion, 
this wonderful resuscitation of Catholic feeling in Protestant 
Germany. England, Scotland, and the United States even, 
have participated, to a certain extent, in this movement. 
We trust that De Maistre s prophetic remark to the effect, 
that when sectarianism should have run through the whole 
circle of error, it would return again to the great Catholic 
center of truth, is on the eve of its fulfillment If 

"What we will now proceed to prove in relation to the mani 
fold influences of the Reformation, on religion and on society, 
will, we trust, throw additional light upon the matter we have 
treated in this chapter ; and it may serve also greatly to ex 
plain why it was that, after a brief storm of excitement, 
Catholicity so greatly reacted and Protestantism so suddenly 

* See the Introduction to Ranke s History of the Papacy, etc., by M. 
Alexandre de Saint Cheron, page xv, seqq. 

f This was written about fifteen years ago ; and we are sorry to have to 
say, that the sanguine anticipations with which we then solaced ourselves 
have^iot been fully realized by the event. Still many have returned to the 
Catholic Church during this time, both in England and in Germany, as well 
as in the United States ; while, unhappily, others have imitated the dilatory 
tampering with divine grace which we have remarked in Casaubon and Gro- 
tius. Let such beware ! 








"Who would ever have believed that the Reformation from the beginning would 
have attacked morality, dogma, and faith ; or that the seditious genius of a monk 
could have caused so much disturbance?" Erasm. (Epist. Georgia Dud}. 

"As long as words a different sense will bear, 
And each may be his own interpreter, 
Our airy faith will no foundation find, 
The word s a weathercock for every wind." DBYDEN. 

The nature of Religion A golden chain Question stated Private judg 
ment Church authority As many religions as heads D Aubigne s 
theory Its poetic beauty Fever of logomachy "Sons of liberty" 
The Bible dissected A hydra -headed monster Erasmus "Curing a 
lame horse" Luther puzzled His plaint His inconsistency Missions 
and miracles Zuingle s inconsistency Strange fanaticism Storck, 
Miinzer, Karlstadt, and John of Leyden A new deluge Retorting the 
argument Discussion at the " Black Boar a " Luther and the cobbler 
Discussion at Marburg Luther s avowal Breaking necks Melancthon s 
lament The inference Protestantism the mother of infidelity Picture 
of modern Protestantism in Germany by Schlegel. 

RELIGION is a divinely established system, which came 
down from heaven to conduct man thither. By the disobe 
dience of Adam, man, originally created upright or at least 
constituted in a state of righteousness, fell from grace, and 
was, as it were, loosed from heaven, to which he had been 
previously bound by the most sacred ties of fellowship. 
Religion may be compared to a golden chain reaching down 
from heaven to earth, which, according to the etymological 



import of the term, binds man again to heaven.* And to 
pursue the illustration a little further, as the loss of even one 
link would destroy the integrity of a chain, -and would render 
it useless as a means of binding together distant objects ; so 
also, the removal of one link from the chain of religion, would 
destroy its integrity and mar its lofty purpose of binding 
man to his God. These links are united together in three 
divisions ; comprising severally the doctrines revealed by and 
through Jesus Christ, the moral precepts which He gave, and 
the sacraments and sacrifice which He instituted. All these 
are as essentially and as intimately connected together, as are 
the several parts of a chain. " He that offendeth in one, is 
guilty of all :"f because by a single offense he rebels against 
the authority from which the whole emanates. 

Religion then consists of three parts: doctrines to be be 
lieved, commandments to be observed, and sacramental and 
sacrificial ordinances to be received and complied with. The 
third department partakes of the nature of the other two: 
being partly doctrinal and partly moral. In other words, 
the Christian Religion embraces, as essential to its very 
nature and divine purposes, doctrines, morals, and worship: 
and we propose briefly to examine the influence of the pre 
tended Reformation on each of these separately. "Was this 
influence beneficial? Did it really reform Religion, as it 
purported to do ? D Aubigne tells us : that " the reform 
saved Religion, and with it society."! We shall see here 
after what it did for society; and we will now inquire 
whether it "saved Religion?" 

And first, what was its influence on the doctrines of Chris 
tianity? Did it teach them in greater purity, and integrity, 
or with greater certainty, than the Catholic Church had 
done ? Did it shed on them a clearer or more steady light ? 
Or did it, on the contrary, give out a very doubtful and 

* Some persons derive the word Religion from the Latin re-ligo to bind 
again. f St. James, ii : 10. \ D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 67. 


uncertain light; leaving the minds of men in perplexity as to 
the tenets to be believed ; and permitting its disciples " to be 
tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine,"* on the stormy 
sea of conflicting human opinions? We shall see. It will 
not, however, be necessary to our inquiry, to examine the 
grounds which establish the truth of the various Catholic, or 
the falsity of the Protestant doctrines in controversy : all that 
will be requisite for our purpose, will be an investigation of 
the facts bearing on the historical question itself, as to the 
actual influence of the Reformation on this vital department 
of Religion. 

The great distinctive principle of the Reformation was its 
rejection of Church authority, and its assertion of the right 
of private judgment in matters of Religion. This is the key 
of the new system: this the proudest boast of those who 
affected to bring about the "emancipation of the human 
mind." This is the cardinal principle of " Christian liberty," 
as asserted by Dr. Martin Luther, in a special work on the 
subject: this is the means he boastingly adopted for being 
rescued from the degrading "captivity of Babylon." f The 
Catholic Religion had taught that, in all matters of contro 
versy, Christians were bound by the solemn command of 
Christ, "TO HEAR THE CHURCH." J Church authority was the 
ultima ratio last resort of controversy, the great means of 
attaining to certainty in what we are to believe or to reject; 
the strong bond of union among Christians. ISTot that the 
Church meant to decide on every controverted point: she 
only decided where she found sufficient warrant in revelation 
to guide her with certainty. In other matters and they 
were numerous she wisely abstained from any definition r 
and allowed her children a reasonable latitude of opinion, 
provided, however, their opinions did not either directly or 

* Ephesians, iv : 14. 

f See the two works of Luther, "De Christiana Libertate," and "De 
Captivitate Babylonica." 
t St. Matthew, xviii : 17. 


indirectly infringe on the unchangeable principles of faith. 
This was hallowed and consecrated ground, which was not to 
be trodden by the rude foot of controversy. She said to the 
stormy billows of proud human opinion : " Thus far shall you 
come, and no further : and here shall you break your boiling 
waves ! " * 

When the reformers cast off this yoke of Church authority, 
and said "they would not serve" any longer, they had no al 
ternative left, but to decide, each one for himself, what was 
the doctrine of Christ. Private judgment was thus necessa 
rily substituted for the teaching of the Church : human opin 
ion for faith. As men were differently constituted, they 
naturally took different views of the religion of Christ. Each 
one struck out a new system for himself; and soon, instead 
of the one Religion which had been received with reverence 
for ages, the world beheld the novel spectacle of almost as 
many religions as there were heads among the Protestant 
party ! 

D Aubigne s theory on this subject is as curious as it is lib 
eral in the modern sense of this term. He thus discourses 
on what he calls the diversities of the Reformation : 

" We are about to contemplate the diversities, or, as they have been since 
called, the variations of the Reformation. These diversities are among its 
most essential characters. Unity in diversity, and diversity in unity, is a 
law of nature, and also of the church. Truth may be compared to the light 
of the sun. The light comes from heaven colorless, and ever the same : and 
yet it takes different hues on earth, varying according to the objects on 
which it falls. Thus different formularies may sometimes express the same 
Christian truth, viewed under different aspects. How dull would be this 
visible creation, if all its boundless variety of shape and color were to give 
place to an unbroken uniformity ! "f 

A beautiful theory truly, and aptly illustrated ! So, then, 
" the different formularies " of Luther, openly asserting the 

* Job xxxviii: 12. "Hue usque venies et non amplius; et hie con- 
fringes tumentes fluctus tuos." 

f D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 235, in the introduction to the eleventh book, in which 
he treats of the controversies between the partisans of Zuingle and Luther. 


real presence of Christ in the holy Sacrament, and of Zuingle 
flatly denying this presence, "both express the same Christian 
truth viewed under different aspects!" These great cham 
pions of Protestantism, as we have seen, mutually anathema 
tized and denounced each other as children of Satan on this 
very ground^ and yet, in good sooth, they maintained "the 
same Christian truth under different aspects !" They plainly 
contradicted each other on many other important points, and 
the Wittenberg doctor would consent to hold no communion 
with him of Zurich ;* and yet they maintained " the same 
Christian truth !" Luther said to Zuingle, who proposed mu 
tual communion at the close of the famous conference of 
Marburg, in 1528, " No, no: cursed be the alliance which 
endangers the truth of God and the salvation of souls. Away 
with you : you are possessed by a different spirit from ours. 
But take care : before three years the anger of God will fall 
on you !"f And yet D Aubigne would have us believe, that 
they agreed as to the substance of " Christian truth!" Verily, 
he must think others as credulous as he himself seems to be ! 
And then, the charming illustration from the light of the 
sun ! It is almost a pity to spoil its poetic beauty ; though 
even a poet w r ould lay himself open to the most severe criti 
cism, were his figures no more appropriate or true to nature. 
D Aubigne has taken more than even a poetic license. Does 
the light of the sun, no matter how diversified, reflect contra 
dictory images "of the objects on which it falls?" Is it so 
very uncertain, as to leave us in doubt, as to the shape and 
color of external objects ? Does it make us the dupes of con 
stant optical illusions ? The light which the reformers pro 
fessed to borrow from heaven did all this. And then, does it 
fall much short of blasphemy, to maintain that God is indif 
ferent as to whether we believe truth or error ; and that He 
delights in such a diversity of opinions as runs into open con- 

* In the conference of Marburg. See Audin, " Life of Luther," p. 415,416. 
| Audin. ibid. See also Luther s Ep. ad Jacobum, praep. Bremens. 


tradictions ? And this too, when his well beloved Son came 
on earth " to bear testimony to the truth," and laid down 
His life to seal it with his blood ! And when the Saviour 
pronounced the awful declaration : " He that belie veth not 
shall be condemned;"* which declaration referred to the 
necessity of belief "in all things whatsoever he had com- 

The doctrine of private judgment, broached by the re 
formers, led to endless inconsistencies and contradictions. It 
was the prolific parent of sects almost innumerable. More 
than fifty J of these arose before the death of Luther! It 
was natural that it should be so : " These diversities were 
among the most essential features of the Reformation." 
The tree was only bearing its natural fruits ; and the latter, 
according to the divine standard, are the best criterion 
whereby to judge of the former: "By their fruits ye shall 
know them." " The Reformation, which promised to put an 
end to the reign of disputatious theology, had, on the con 
trary, awakened in all minds a fondness for dispute, bordering 
on fanaticism : it was the fever of logomachy.|| Half a cen 
tury before, men indeed disputed ; but then the doctrine of 
the Church was not called into question: now however it 
was attacked on all sides. In each university, and even in 
every private house, Germany saw a pulpit erected for who 
ever pretended to have received the understanding of the 
divine word." 1 

This raging fever of disputation has continued to burn in 
the bosom of Protestantism even to the present day : it has 
not abated in the progress of ages. True, in Germany and 
on the continent of Europe, it has, to a great extent, lately 
cooled down into a state of mortal apathy a more dangerous 
symptom far than the malady which it has superseded: but 

* St. Mark, xvi : 16. f The parallel passage in St. Matthew, xxviii : 20. 
$ See Audin, p. 331. \ D Aubigne, ut supra. 

U A war of words. f Audin, ibid., p. 190, 191. 


elsewhere, it has left the patient in the same restless and 
tossing condition, as formerly. 

Most of the reformers found in the Bible, that a priest 
who had made a solemn vow of celibacy to God, might and 
even ought to break it, by taking a wife. The first who 
made this consoling discovery, were Bernard of Felkirk, 
abbot of Kemberg, and the aged Karlstadt, archdeacon of 
Wittenberg. The new light which had dawned upon them 
was hailed with ecstasy by the lovers of "Christian liberty" 
throughout Germany. Some went still further, and main 
tained, Bible in hand, with Bucer, Capito, Karlstadt and 
other evangelists, that marriage was not indissoluble; and 
that a Christian could dismiss his wife, or even retain her, 
and take one or more others at the same time, after the ex 
ample of the ancient patriarchs. These styled themselves 
"the sons of liberty" they should have said libertinism. 

We shall see, a little later, to what frightful consequences 
these horrid doctrines led ! 

"All the hallucinations of a disordered intellect were for a time ascribed 
to the Holy Ghost. Never had the divine wisdom communicated itself 
more liberally to the human mind ! The Bible was laid open, as an ana 
tomical subject, on an operator s table, and every doctor came with his 
lance in hand as afterwards did Dumoulin to anatomize the word of God, 
and to seek the spirit, which before Luther had escaped the eye of Catho 
licism. It was an epoch of glosses and commentaries, which time has not 
had the trouble of destroying, for they abounded with absurdity, and fell 
beneath the weight of ridicule which crushed them at their birth. There 
were new lights, who came to announce that they had discovered an irre 
sistible argument against the Mass, purgatory, and prayers to the saints. 
This was simply to deny the immortality of the soul!"* This startling 
impiety was really maintained in full school at Geneva, by certain "new 
lights," who came from Wittenberg.f 

Menzel, the Protestant historian of Germany, freely admits 

* Audin, p. 192. 

f " Quidquid de animarum habetur immortalitate, ab antichristo ad statu- 
endam suam culinam excogitatum est." Prateolus Elench. voce Athei, 
p. 72. See also Bayle s Dictionary, art. Luther. 


that division was the essential heritage of the Reformation, 
whose unity it fatally marred, thereby frittering away its 
strength. He says: 

"The Protestants, blind to the unity and strength resulting from the 
policy of the Catholics, weakened themselves more and more by division. 
The reformed Swiss were almost more inimical to the Lutherans than the 
Catholics were, and the general mania for disputation and theological ob 
stinacy produced divisions among the reformers themselves. When, in 
1562, Bullinger set up the Helvetic Confession, to which the Pfalz also 
assented in Zurich, Basle refused and maintained a particular Confession."* 

From the earliest period of its history, " the hydra of the 
Reformation had a hundred heads. The Anabaptists believed 
with Miinzer, that without a second baptism, man could not 
be saved. The Karlstadtians preached up polygamy. The 
Zuinglians rejected the real presence. Osiander taught that 
God had predestined only the elect. The Majorists taught 
that works were not necessary for salvation ; while the fol 
lowers of Flaccus accused the Majorists of popery. The 
Synergists preached up man s liberty. The Ubiquitarians 
believed, that the humanity of Christ was, like His divinity, 
omnipresent. Some held original sin to be the nature, sub 
stance, the essence of man ; while others regarded it as a mere 
mode of his being. All these sects boasted of the Bible, as a 
sufficient rule of faith ; they published confessions, composed 
creeds, and insisted on faith, as a condition of communion. 
Children of the same father, whom they had severally denied, 
they cursed and proscribed each other : they gave the name 
of heretic to, and shut the gates of heaven against, all their 
brethren in revolt, who happened to differ with them."f 
Other fanatics preached up the community of goods, with 
Storck and the Anabaptists ; others with the prophets of 
Alstell, " the demolition of images, of churches, of chapels, 
and the adoration of the Lord on high places ; "J and others, 

* History of Germany, II, 275. 

f Audin, p. 208, 209. See the authorities he quotes, ibid., note. 

t Idem., p. 331. 

A HYDRA. 229 

the inutility of the law and of prayer. The feverish spirit of 
innovation knew no rest ; every day brought forth a new sect. 
And is it not so, even in our own age and country ? 

Erasmus thus hits off, in his own polished and caustic 
style, the extravagant inconsistencies of the Protestant rule 
of faith : 

" They ask : Do philosophy and learning aid us in understanding the 
holy books? I reply: Will ignorance assist you? They say: Of 
what authority are these councils, in which not perhaps a single member 
received the Holy Ghost ? I ask in reply : Is not the gift of God, pro 
bably, as rare in your conventicles ? The Apostles would not have been be 
lieved, had they not proved the truth of their doctrines by miracles. Among 
you every individual must be believed on his own word. When the Apos 
tles lulled the serpents, healed the infirm, and raised the dead to life, people 
were forced to believe in them, though they announced incomprehensible 
mysteries. Among these doctors, who tell us so many wonderful things, 
is there one who has been able to cure a lame horse ? . . . . Give me mira 
cles. They are unnecessary : there have been enough of them : the bright 
light of the Scriptures is not so very clear, since I see so many men wander 
in the dark. Although we had the spirit of God, how can we be certain 
that we have the knowledge of His word ? What must I believe, when I see, 
in the midst of contradictory doctrines, all lay claim to dogmatical infallibi 
lity, and rise up with oracular authority against the doctrines of those who 
have preceded us ? Is it then likely that, during thirteen centuries, God 
should not have raised up, among the many holy personages he has given 
to His Church, a single one to whom he revealed His doctrine."* 

Luther was often saddened by the defection of his own dis 
ciples, as well as grievously puzzled, when these played off 
on him the same arguments which he had used against the 
Pope. His cherished disciple Mathesius relates the mental 
anguish he endured, when, being at the castle of the Wart- 
burg in 1521, he heard of the revolt and strange doings of 
Karlstadt at Wittenberg. He yielded to dejection ; he seemed 
to himself to have been abandoned by God and by men: 
"His head grew weary, his forehead burned with the excite 
ment of his mind, his eye grew dim and he would open his 

* " Do Libero Arbitrio." Diatribe, and Adolf Menzel, i, 140. 


window, and inhaling the ambrosial breeze, would endeavor 
to forget the world and its wrongs ! "* 

But all his efforts to quiet his own mind proved ineffectual : 
he chafed like a tiger in his cage. At length he resolved, 
against the advice of his friends, to leave the Wartburg, and 
to precipitate himself into the midst of his recreant disciples 
at Wittenberg. He harangued them for full two hours on 
the wickedness of their defection from his standard ; and 
concluded his burning invective with the following memora 
ble sentence: "Yes, if the devil himself had entreated me" 
to remove the images from the church by violence "I 
would have turned a deaf ear to him ! "f 

The reformer draws a graphic sketch of his own perplex 
ity in a letter to the "Christians" of Antwerp, written in 
1525. We will furnish a few extracts : 

" The devil has got among you : he daily sends me visitors to knock at 
my door. One will not hear of baptism ; another rejects the sacrament of 
the Eucharist ; a third teaches that a new world will be created by God be 
fore the day of judgment ; another, that Christ is not God : in short, one 
this, another that. There are almost as many creeds as individuals. There 
is no booby, who, when he dreams, does not believe himself visited by God, 
and who does not claim the gift of prophecy. I am often visited by these 
men who claim to be favored by visions, of which they all know more than 
I do, and which they undertake to teach me. I would be glad they were 
what they profess to be. No later than yesterday one came to me : Sir, I 
am sent by God who created heaven and earth ; and then he began to 
preach as a veritable idiot, that it was the order of God that I should read 
the books of Moses for him. Ah ! where did you find this commandment 
of God ? In the gospel of St. John ! After he had spoken much, I said 
to him : Friend, come back to-morrow, for I cannot read for you, at one 
sitting, the books of Moses. Good-by, master ; the heavenly Father, who 
shed his blood for us, will show us the right way through his Son Jesus. 
Amen ! .... While the Papacy lasted itiere were no such divisions or dissen 
sions : the strong man peaceably ruled the minds of men ; but now one 
stronger is come, who has vanquished and put him to flight, and the former 
one storms and wishes not to depart. A spirit of confusion is thus among 
you, which tempts you, and seeks to withdraw you from the true path." 

* Mathesius. In Vita Lutheri, apud Audin, p. 209. 
t See the harangue in Audin; p. 237, 238. 


He concludes this strange epistle with these characteristic 
words : " Begone, ye cohort of devils, marked with the char 
acter of error : God is a spirit of peace and not of dissension."* 

But Luther could not succeed in exorcising the demons, 
whom his own principle of private judgment had evoked 
from the abyss. True, he occasionally made trial of the good 
old Catholic specifics for this purpose ; but they proved utterly- 
powerless in his hands. Thus, when pressed by the Anabap 
tists, to prove infant baptism from the Scriptures his only 
rule of faith he had recourse to the good old Catholic argu 
ment of Church authority founded on tradition ! He appealed 
to the testimony of St. Augustine and to the teaching of the 
Church during his day. "But, it is objected," he says, "what 
if Augustine and those whom you call and believe to be the 
Church, erred in this particular ? But this objection can be 
easily impugned. If you do not admit the right, (jus) at least 
will you not admit the fact (factum) of this having been the 
belief of the Church 1 And to deny that this was the faith 
of the true and lawful Church, I deem most impious."f 

Another argument, which he employed to refute the Ana 
baptists, was that drawn from the necessity of a lawful mis 
sion to preach the gospel, and of miracles to confirm this 
mission, whenever it was not derived through the ordinary 
channels of the Church. In a sermon delivered at Witten 
berg against their prophets, in 1522, he employed this remark 
able language : 

"Do you wish to found a new church ? Let us see : who has sent you ? 
From whom have you received your mission ? As you give testimony of 
yourselves, we are not at once to believe you, but according to the advice of 

* " Ein Briefe D. Martin Luther an die Christen zu Antorf." Witten 
berg, 1525, 4to. " Doct. M. Luther Briefe," torn, iii, p. 60. Cf. Audin. 

f Objicitur vero : quid si Augustinus, et quos ecclesiam vocas vel esse 
credis, in hac parte errarint ? .... At eadem objectio facile impugnabitur. 
Si non jus, tamen factum proprie credendi in ecclesia ? Hanc autem confes- 
sionem negare esse ecclesiae illius verae et legitimae, arbitror impiissimum 
esse." Epist. Melancthoni, 13 January, 1522. 


St. John, we must try you. God has sent no one into this world who was 
not called by man, or announced by signs not even excepting his own Son. 
The prophets derived their title from the law, and from the prophetic order, 
as we do from men. I do not care for you, if you have only a mere revela 
tion to propose : God would not permit Samuel to speak, except by the 
authority of Heli. When the law is to be changed, miracles are necessary. 
Where are your miracles ? What the Jews said to the Lord, we now say 
to you : Master, we wish for a sign. "* 

Luther often used this argument :f and yet, it might have 
been retorted with unanswerable force against himself. And 
it was retorted by Stiibner and Cellarius, two of the Anabaptist 
prophets, whom he had attacked. The answer of the Saxon 
reformer is not recorded :J perhaps he had none to give. 
According to Erasmus, the reformers never succeeded even 
" in curing a larne horse ! " Luther himself, somewhat later, 
acknowledged, that he had never performed any miracles, 
except that " he had slapped Satan in the face, and struck 
the Papacy in its core." Astonishing miracles truly ! 

Luther was not alone, in thus inconsistently appealing to 
arguments which condemned both himself and his own cause. 
Many of the other principal reformers were driven to the 
same straits. In order to refute George Blaurock, an Ana 
baptist enthusiast, Zuingle used the following argument : 

" If we allow every enthusiast or sophist to diffuse among the people all 
the foolish fancies of his heated imagination, to assemble together disciples 
and make a sect, we shall see the Church of Christ split up into an infinity 
of factions, and lose that unity which she has maintained at so great sacri 
fices. It is necessary then to consult the Church, and not to listen to passion 
or prejudice. The interpretation of Scripture is not the right of individuals, 
but of the Church : she has the keys, and the power of unlocking the treas- 
sures of the divine word."|| 

* Apud Audin, p. 238. 

f As in lib. iii, c. iv. "Contra Anabaptistas ;" and elsewhere. 

f In his letter to Spalatin, in which he relates his interview with Stiibner 
and Cellarius, Luther is silent on this retort. Epist. Spalatino, 12 Ap. 1522. 
Yet the Anabaptist historians relate it. Cf. Audin, p. 239. 

See Audin, p. 238, note, for authority for this feat. 

!! Zuinglius. " De Baptismo," p. 72. Cf. Audin, p. 240. 


As might have been expected, Blaurock was not satisfied 
with this appeal to authority. Bullinger* tells us, that he 
answered in a loud voice: "Did not you Sacramentarians 
break with the Pope, without consulting the Church which 
you abandoned and that, too, a Church which was not of 
yesterday ? Is it not lawful for us to abandon your church, 
which is but a few days old ? Can not we do what you have 
done?" Zuingle was nonplussed; and if even he made an 
attempt to reply, his answer is not recorded. 

We will give a few instances of the strange fanaticism to 
which this same principle of private judgment naturally led. 
"We might fill a volume with such examples : but our limits 
will permit of only a few.f Listen, for instance, to this start 
ling announcement of Storck in one of his sermons : 

" Behold, what I announce to you. God has sent his angel to me during 
the night, to tell me that I shall sit on the same throne as the archangel 

"Gabriel. Let the impious tremble and the just hope It is to me, 

Storck, that heaven has promised the empire of the world. Would you 
desire to be visited by God ? Prepare your hearts to receive the Holy 
Spirit. Let there be no pulpit whence to announce the word of God : no 
priests, no preachers, no exterior worship : let your dress be plain ; your 
food bread and salt ; and God will descend upon you."J 

Miinzer, another Anabaptist, thus pleaded for the general 
division of property : 

" Ye rich ones of the earth who keep us in bondage, who have plundered 
us, give us back our liberty and possessions. It is not only as men that we 
now demand what has been taken from us : we ask it as Christians. In 
the primitive Church, the apostles divided with their brethren in Jesus Christ 
the money that was laid at their feet. Give us back the goods you unjustly 
retain. Unhappy flock of Jesus Christ, how long will you groan in oppres 
sion under the yoke of the priest and the magistrate ?" " And then the 
prophet suddenly fell into an epileptic fit : his hair stood erect ; perspiration 
rolled down his face, and foam issued from his mouth. The people cried 
out: silence, God visits his prophet ! " 

* " In Apologia Anabaptist." P. 254. Cf. Audin, p. 240. 
f Those who wish to see more are referred to Catrou, Histoire du Fana- 
tisme, torn, i ; to Meshovius, Ottovius, and other writers. 

| See Audin, p. 230. $ Ibid., p. 231. 

VOL. i. 20 


At the termination of his ecstasy, which continued for 
some minutes, the prophet cried out at the top of his stento 
rian voice : " Eternal God, pour into my soul the treasures 
of thy justice, otherwise I shall renounce thee and thy proph 
ets."* A Lutheran having appealed to the Bible, " The 
Bible ? Babel 1" cried out Munzer.f 

What will be thought of this strange conceit of Karlstadt ? 

" One day, Karlstadt was seen running through the streets of Wittenberg 
with the Bible in his hand, and stopping the passers-by to inquire of them 
the meaning of difficult passages of the sacred books : What are you 
about? said the Austin friars to him. Is it not written answered the 
archdeacon that the voice of truth shall be heard from the lips of infants ? 
I only accomplish the orders of heaven. " \ 

"Who has not heard of the revolting obscenities of John of 
Leyden, and of the prophets of Minister ? All of these im 
pure extravagances, perpetrated, too, under the bright new 
light of the Reformation, and under its alleged sanction! 
Who, in fine, that has even glanced at the history of this 
period, has not marked the endless extravagances, the absurd 
conceits, the astonishing fanaticism which marked almost 
every day of its annals ! 

Truly, then " the fountains of the great deep were broken 
up, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened ;" and a new 
deluge flooded the earth, more destructive than that which 
had buoyed up Noah s ark ! For this destroyed only the 
bodies of men; that carried away and ruined men s souls. 
"The flood-gates of heaven" did we say? No, the origin 
of those waters must be sought elsewhere. Luther himself 
aids us in detecting their source. We have seen above his 
opinion on the subject, in his letter to the Christians of Ant 
werp. And in his subsequent controversies with the Sacra- 
mentarians, after having spoken of their dissensions among 
themselves, he said : " This is a great proof that these Sacra- 
mento-magists come not from God, but from the devil."|| 

* Meshovius, p. 4. Catrou, sup. cit. f Ibid. \ Ibid. 

\ Genesis, vi : 11. || "An die Christen ?u Beutlingen," $ January, 1526. 


And we have also seen how triumphantly Zuingle retorted the 
compliment on Luther and his branch of the Reformation. 

Can not we turn this, and all the other arguments employed 
by the several reformers to refute each other, against all of 
them ? Can not we point to the numberless dissensions of 
Protestants among themselves dissensions perpetuated a 
hundred fold even unto the present day to prove against 
them all, that their pretended Reformation, which always 
produced such fruits as these, is not and can not be from 
God, "who is not the God of dissension, but of peace?" 
Can not we ask them, whence they had their mission to re 
form the Church ? And if they answer, " from heaven ;" ask 
them again to prove it to us by miracles ? How will they, 
how can they answer these arguments, which they themselves 
so often wielded against one another ? 

It will be curious to see how the modern Protestant histo 
rian of Germany speaks of the Anabaptists and their extrav 
agant excesses. We accordingly here present to our readers 
the following extracts from Menzel, who, it will be seen, sub 
stantially confirms the statements made above, and adds 
some new facts : 

" The illiterate and the enthusiastic, however, far outstripped Luther in 
their ideas ; instead of reforming they wished to annihilate the church, and 
to grasp political as well as religious liberty, and it was justly feared lest 
these excesses might furnish Rome with a pretext for rejecting every species 
of reform. Luther/ wrote their leader, Thomas Munzer, merely draws 
the word of God from books, and twists the dead letters. Nicholas Storck, 
Miinzer s first teacher, a clothier, who surrounded himself with twelve 
apostles and seventy-two disciples, boasted of receiving revelations from an 
angel. Their rejection of infant baptism and sole recognition of that of 
adults as efficacious, gained for them the appellation of Anabaptists. Karl- 
stadt joined this sect, and followed the example already given by Bartholo 
mew Bernhardi, a priest, one of Luther s disciples, who had married." 

" The Anabaptists, repulsed by Luther, encouraged by these precedents, 
drew near to Zuingle, and their leader, Thomas Munzer, who had been ex 
pelled from Wittenberg, went to "Waldshut on the Rhine, where, counten 
anced by the priest, Hubmaier, the greatest disorder took place. Zuingle de 
clared against them, and caused several of them to be drowned [A. D. 1524], 


but was, nevertheless, still regarded by Luther as a man who, under the 
cloak of spiritual liberty, sought to bring about political changes."* 

Of the insurrection in which Miinzer perished, he says : 
"At the same time, in the summer of 1525, an insurrection, bearing a 
more religious character, broke out in Thuringia, where Thomas Miinzer 
appeared as a prophet, and preached the doctrines of equality and fraternity. 
The insurgents were defeated by Ernest, Count von Mansfield, whose brother 
Albert had conceded all their demands ; and afterwards at Fulda, by Philip 
of Hesse, who, reinforced by Ernest, the Duke George, and the elector John 
of Saxony, marched on Frankenhausen, the headquarters of the rebels, who, 
infatuated with the belief that heaven would fight for them, allowed them 
selves to be slaughtered whilst invoking aid from God. Five thousand were 
slain. Frankenhausen was taken and pillaged, and three hundred prisoners 
were beheaded. Miinzer was discovered in a hay-stack, in which he had 
secreted himself, put to the rack, and executed with twenty-six of his com 
panions." f 

He writes as follows of the excesses committed at Ley- 
den, which became the headquarters of the Anabaptists : 

" The most extravagant folly and license ere long prevailed in the city. 
John Bockelson, a tailor from Leyden, gave himself out as a prophet, and 
proclaimed himself king of the universe ; a clothier, named Knipperdolling, 
and one Krechting, were elected burgomasters. A community of goods 
and wives was proclaimed and carried into execution. Civil dissensions en 
sued, but were speedily quelled by the Anabaptists. John of Leyden took 
seventeen wives, one of whom, Divara, gained great influence by her spirit 
and beauty. The city was, meanwhile, closely besieged by the expelled 
bishop, Francis von Waldeck, who was aided by several of the Catholic and 
Lutheran princes ; numbers of the nobility flocked thither for pastime, and 
carried on the siege against the Anabaptists, who made a long and valiant 
defense. The attempts of their brethren in Holland and Friesland to relieve 
them proved ineffectual. A dreadful famine ensued in consequence of the 
closeness of the siege ; the citizens lost courage and betrayed the city by 
night to the enemy. Most of the fanatics were cut to pieces. John, Knip 
perdolling, and Krechting were captured, enclosed in iron cages, and carried 
for six months throughout Germany, after which they were brought back to 
Munster to suffer an agonizing death. Divara and the rest of the principal 
fanatics were beheaded. "J 

To illustrate this matter still further, and to show what 
* History of Germany, ii, 232-3. f Ibid., p. 243. { Ibid. p. 256. 


spirit originated and perpetuated the dissensions by which 
early Protestantism was torn into fragments, we will here ex 
hibit a few specimens of the manner in which controversies 
among the reformers were then conducted. In 1524, Luther 
went to Jena, where he preached against the new prophets 
of the Anabaptists, whose arguments had been answered by 
their brother Protestants with the convincing weapons of fire 
and sword ! Tens of thousands of the vast multitudes, whom 
these fanatics had misled, had been butchered ; still their 
spirit was not wholly subdued. Karlstadt, then pastor at 
Jena, feeling himself aggrieved by the violence of Luther s 
sermon, challenged him to an oral discussion. The challenge 
was accepted, and the tavern of the Black Boar, where Luther 
lodged, was the place appointed for the meeting. After some 
preliminary discussion, in which the two new apostles in 
dulged in insulting personalities, Karlstadt maintaining that 
Luther had meant Mm in his sermon, and Luther calling on 
him for proof, telling him " if he saw the likeness in the pic 
ture, it must have suited him," etc., the discussion proceeded 
after this wise : 

Karlstadt. Well then, I will dispute in public, and I will manifest the 
truth of God, or my own confusion. 

Lnther. Your own folly rather, Doctor. 

Karlstadt. My confusion, which I shall bear for God s glory. 

Luther. And which will fall back on your own shoulders. I care little 
for your menaces. Who fears you ? 

Karlstadt. Whom do I fear ? My doctrine is pure ; it comes from God. 

Luther. If it comes from God, why have you not imparted to others the 
spirit that made you break the images at Wittenberg ? 

Karlstadt. I was not the only one concerned in that enterprise. It was 
done after a mature decision of the senate, and by the co-operation of some 
of your disciples, who fled in the moment of peril. 

Luther. False, I protest. 

Karlstadt. True, I protest. 

Karlstadt complained a little afterwards, that Luther had 
condemned him at Wittenberg without previous admonition. 
This Luther flatly contradicted, stating that " he had brought 



Philip and Pomeranius into his study," for that purpose: 
hereupon Karlstadt became enraged, and exclaimed : " If you 
speak the truth, may the d il tear me in pieces !" The dis 
cussion ended in nothing as most discussions of the kind 
do. Luther challenged Karlstadt to write against him ; . the 
latter accepted the challenge : Luther then gave him a gold 
florin as stake-money, and the compact was duly ratified, 
after the old German fashion, by two overflowing bumpers 
of ale.* Never had the Black Boar of Jena been so crowded, 
or witnessed a spectacle of such stirring interest ! And such 
a spectacle ! 

From Jena Luther proceeded to Orlamunde, where he car 
ried on a spirited controversy, in the presence of the town 
council, with a cobbler theologian, named Crispin, who had 
recently learned thanks to the Reformation how to apply 
his craft to interpreting, if not mending the Bible. The dis 
cussion was long and animated ; Crispin supplying his lack 
of argument by a stentorian voice, and by furious gesticula 
tions. The subject was the lawfulness of images; Luther 
defending, and Crispin objecting; and both appealing to the 
Bible. What was most mortifying to the reformer, the town 
council sided with the cobbler, and decided against the Wit 
tenberg doctor ! . 

" So then, said Luther to the council, you condemn me? 

" Most assuredly; cried out Crispin you and all who teach what is 

opposed to God s word. 

" A childish insult, said Luther as he mounted the car. One of the 

chamberlains here caught hold of his garments, and said : Before you go 

away, master, a word with you on baptism, and the sacrament of the 


" Have you not my books ? said the monk to him. Read them. 

" I have read them, and my conscience is not satisfied with them ; said 

the chamberlain. 

" If any thing displeases you in them write against me ; said Luther : 

and he started off. "! 

* See the whole discussion in Audin, p. 322, seqq. f Ibid., 329. 


Luther himself relates to us this adventure, and also gives 
to us the words of awful malediction with which the people 
greeted him, when he was leaving Orlamunde.* 

But the most interesting discussion of all, was that held at 
Marburg in 1528, on the subject of the holy Sacrament, be 
tween Luther, Melancthon, Justus Jonas, and Cruciger, on 
the one part; and Zuingle, (Ecolampadius, Martin Bucer, 
and Gaspard Hedio, on the other. Luther contended for the 
real presence of the body and blood of Christ along with 
that of the bread and wine; and Zuinglius maintained a 
figurative presence, or rather, no presence at all. This point 
was the greatest subject of contention among the early re 
formers. "In 1527, Luther counted already no less than 
eight different interpretations of the text : ; THIS is MY BODY ! 
Thirty years afterwards, there were no less than eighty- 
five!"! Rasperger, w r ho wrote at a somewhat later period, 
reckoned no less than two hundred ! J A pretty good com 
mentary this, on the principle of private judgment. It must 
surely be a good rule of faith, since it has thus led to those 
diversities, which D Aubigne admires so much, and deems 
essential developments of the Reformation. 

One of Zuingle s chief arguments against the real presence, 
was based on the fact that this doctrine was held by the 
Catholic Church. Luther answered: Wretched argument! 
Deny then the Scripture also; for we have received it too 
from the Pope We must acknowledge that there are 

* Opp. torn, i, edit. Jense, fol. 467 ; edit. Witt, i, 214. Cf. Audin, p. 329. 
As he was leaving, the populace roared out after him : " May the devil and 
all his imps have you ! May you break your neck and limbs before you 
leave the city!" 

f See Audin, p. 408, note, for an account of the principal interpretations ; 
most of them singular enough, even for those days of Bible mania. 

| Apud Liebermann, Theologia Dogmat. De Eucharistia. 

Bellarmine bears evidence that two hundred interpretations of the 
words: this is my body had been enumerated in a work published in 
1577 ! Controversiae vol. iii, cap. viii, de Eucharist, p. 195. Edit. Venotiis, 
6 vols. folio. 


great mysteries of faith in the Papacy; yea, all the truths 
we have inherited : for it is in popery that we found the true 
Scriptures, true baptism, the true sacrament of the altar, the 
true keys which remit sin, true preaching, the true catechism, 
which contains the Lord s prayer, the ten commandments 
that is true Christianity.* 

Precious avowal, coming, as it does, from the father of the 
Reformation the most inveterate enemy of Rome ! How it 
contrasts with many of his other declarations ? Why abandon 
the Catholic Church, if it taught all this, and held "true 
Christianity?" "Out of thy own mouth, I judge thee, thou 
wicked servant!" On another occasion, Luther had said: 
" Had Karlstadt or any other proved to me, five years ago, 
that there was nothing but bread and wine in the sacrament, 
he would have rendered me great service. It would have 
been a great blow to the Papacy : but it is all in vain ; the 
text is too plain."f It was perhaps too late : he had already 
taken his stand, and committed himself on the question. 

The conference on this subject at Marburg, was long and 
violent : instead of healing, it only widened the breach among 
the reformers. We can furnish but one extract from the 

To prove the figurative presence, Zuingle had appealed to 
Ezechiel s wheel, and to the famous text from Exodus, chap, 
xii : " For it is the phase, that is, the passover of the Lord," 

* Opp. Lutheri, Jenae, fol. 408, 409. Audin, 410. 

" Profecto frivolum est hoc argumentum, supra quod nihil boni sedificaturi 
sumus. Hoc enim pacto negare eos oporteret totam quoque Scripturam 
Sacram et prasdicandi officium ; hoc enim totum a Papa habemus. Stultitia 

est hoc totum Nos autem fatemur sub Papatu plurimum esse boni 

Christiani, imo omne lonum Christianum, atque etiam illinc ad nos devenisse. 
Quippe fatemur in Papatu veram esse Scripturam Sacram, verum baptis- 
mum, verum sacramentum altaris, veras claves ad remissionem peccatorum, 
verum prsedicandi officium ; . . . . Dico insuper in Papatu veram Christiani- 
tatem esse,imo vero nudeum Christianitatis esse." 

f Lutheri Opp. edit. Hall. torn, xv, p. 2448. Ad. Menzel, i, 269, 270. 


which text had been suggested to him by the nocturnal visitor 
of whom " he could not say whether he was black or white !"* 
Luther answered : 

" The pasch and the wheel are allegorical. I do not mean to dispute 
with you about a word. If is means signifies, I appeal to the words of Christ, 
who says : " This is my body." The devil can not get out of them (Z>a Jcann 
der Teufel nicht fur). To doubt is to fall from the faith. Why do you not 
also see a trope in " he ascended into heaven ? " A God made man, the Word 
made flesh, a God who suffers these are all incomprehensible things, which 
you must however believe under penalty of eternal damnation. 

" Zuingle. You do not prove the matter. I will not permit you to incur 
the begging of the question. You must change your note (Ihr luerdet mir 
anderes singeri). Do you think that Christ wished to accommodate himself 
to the ignorant ? 

" Luther. Do you then deny it ? " This is a hard saying," muttered the 
Jews, who spoke of the- thing as impossible. This passage can not serve you. 

" Zuingle. Bah ! it breaks your neck (Nein, nein, bricht eucli den Hals ab). 

" Luther. Softly, be not so haughty : you are not in Switzerland, but in 
Hesse ; and necks are not so easily broken here {Die Halse brechen nictitalsoy "f 

The wavering, but often candid Melancthon wept bitterly 
over the dissensions of early Protestantism. He had not the 
power to heal the crying evil, nor the courage to abandon the 
system in which it originated. From many passages of his 
writings bearing on the subject, we select the following 
lament, in a confidential letter to a friend: "The Elbe with 
all its waves could not furnish tears enough to weep over the 
miseries of the distracted Reformation." J 

A learned German historian of the day, Dr Dollinger, has 
published an extensive work, replete with erudition, on the 
character of the German reformers, and the nature and tend 
ency of the religious revolution which they brought about, 
as described by themselves.^ We had intended to draw 

* Florimond Remond, and Schlussenburg, in proem. Theolog. Calvin. 
Zuingle s own words have been already quoted. 

f For an account of the entire discussion, taken from Rodolph Collin, an 
eye and ear-witness, see Audin, p. 413, seqq. 
I Epist. lib. ii, Ep. 202. 

$ The work was published at Ratisbon, in 1846-8, in three volumes, 8vo 
VOL. i. 21 



both in Germany and in Switzerland ; the two fatherlands of 
Protestantism. It is unnecessary to multiply proof on a mat 
ter so unquestionable. Even D Aubigne virtually admits,that 
the majority of Protestants have there passed over to the 
standard of rationalism, or the religion of men* that is, to, 
rank deism. And even where Protestantism still subsists, 
what is it, but a lifeless tree, the withered branches of which 
are stirred only by the breath of its own internal dissensions ? 
We will conclude this Chapter with the picture of Protes 
tantism in modern Germany, drawn by the master-hand of 
Frederick Yon Schlegel, whose mighty mind, disgusted with 
the endless mazes of Protestantism, sought refuge within the 
pale of Catholic unity. He is speaking of the boasted bibli 
cal learning of Germany, in which he says " the true key of 
interpretation, which sacred tradition alone can furnish, was 
irretrievably lost, as the sequel has but too well proved!" 
He then adds : 

" This is nowhere so fully understood, and so deeply felt as in Protestant 
Germany of the present day, Germany, where lies the root of Protestantism, 
its mighty center, its all-ruling spirit, and its life-blood, Germany, where, to 
supply the want of the true spirit of religion, a remedy is sought sometimes 
in the external forms of liturgy,f sometimes in the pompous apparatus of 
biblical philology and research, destitute of the true key of interpretation ; 
sometimes in the empty philosophy of rationalism, and sometimes in the 
mazes of a mere interior pietism.":}: 

* D Aubigne, preface to vol. i, p. 9. 

f He here refers to the ordinances promulgated some years ago by the 
king of Prussia, for the reform of the Liturgy (Protestant). 
| Philosophy of History, vol. ii, p. 207. 




" This world is fallen on an easier way ; 
This age knows better than to fast and pray." DKYDEN. 

Two methods of investigation Connection of doctrine and morals Salu 
tary influence of Catholic doctrines Of confession Objections answered 
Of celibacy Its manifold advantages Utility of the doctrines of satisfac 
tion and indulgences Of fasting Of prayers for the dead Of communion 
of saints Sanctity of marriage Divorces Influence of Protestant doc 
trines Shocking disorders Testimony of ErasmusBigamy and poly 
gamy Mohammedanism Practical results Testimonies of Luther, 
Bucer, Calvin, and Melancthon The reformers testifying on their own 
work Dollinger s researches Character of Erasmus John Reuchlin 
Present state of morals in Protestant countries. 

WE have seen what was the influence of the Reformation 
on the doctrines of Christianity. We will now briefly ex 
amine its influence on morals. Was this beneficial or was it 
injurious ? There are two ways to decide this question : the 
one by reasoning a priori on the nature and tendency of the 
respective doctrines of Catholicism and of Protestantism ; the 
other, which will greatly confirm the conclusions of the for 
mer by facts showing what was the relative practical influence 
of both systems. We will employ both these methods of 

I. Doctrines have a powerful influence on morals. The 
former enlighten the understanding, the latter guide and 
direct the movements of the heart and will. These are of 
themselves mere blind impulses, until light is reflected on 
them from the understanding. A sound faith, then, illumin 
ating the intellect, is an essential pre-requisite to sound morals 
guiding the heart, in the individual as well as in society. 
True, we are able, by the exercise of our free will, to shut our 
eyes to the light, and to continue acting perversely ; but this 
does not disprove the powerful influence, which the under 
standing, enlightened by faith, has over our moral conduct. 


"What was the necessary moral influence of those doctrines 
of the Catholic Church, which the Reformation rejected ; and 
what that of those new ones which it substituted in the place 
of the old ? We speak only, of course, of the distinctive doc 
trines of the two communions, not of the common ground 
which they occupy. The Reformation retained many of the 1 
great principles of Christianity, which, according to the testi 
mony of Luther himself, referred to above, it had borrowed 
from the Catholic Church. Among the doctrines, or impor 
tant points of discipline which the reformers repudiated, the 
principal were : confession ; the celibacy of the clergy ; the 
doctrine of satisfaction, implied in fasting, purgatory, prayers 
for the dead, and indulgences ; the honor and invocation of 
saints ; and the indissoluble sanctity of marriage ; to say 
nothing of the real presence, which the greater portion of 
Protestants also rejected. We will say a few words on the 
moral influence of each of these doctrines. We may remark 
of them all, in general, that they had a restraining as well as 
an elevating effect ; that many of them were painful to human 
nature, and opposed a strong barrier to the passions. 

Even Yoltaire admitted the salutary moral influence of 
confession. He says : " The enemies of the Catholic Church, 
who opposed an institution so salutary, seem to have taken 
away from men the greatest possible check to secret 
offenses."* Another infidel, and a mortal enemy of Rome 

* Annales de I Empire, quoted by Robelot, in his work entitled : Influ 
ence de la Reformation de Luther, sur la croyance religieuse, la politique, et 
le progres des lumieres. Par M. Robelot, ancien chanoine de I Eglise 
cathedrale de Dijon. A Lyon. 1822. 1 vol. 8vo, pp. 440. (Influence of 
the Reformation of Luther on religious belief, on politics, and on the progress 
of enlightenment. By M. Robelot.) 

This work was written in reply to the Essay on the Reformation which 
had been published by M. Villers, and had been rewarded with a prize by 
the infidel French Institute. Of this essay an unexceptionable witness, Hal- 
lam, writes as follows : " The essay on the Influence of the Reformation by 
Villers. which obtained a prize from the French Institute, and has been ex 
tolled by a very friendly but better informed writer in the Biographic Univer- 


Marmontel says: "How salutary a preservative for the 
morals of youth, is the practice and obligation of going to 
confession every month \ The shame attending this humble 
avowal of the most hidden sins, prevents perhaps the com 
mission of more of them, than all other motives the most 
holy taken together."* Nothing but stern truth could have 
drawn such avowals from such men. 

How many crimes, in fact, has not the practice of confes 
sion prevented or corrected ! How much implacable hatred 
has it not appeased! How much restitution of ill-gotten 
goods, and how much reparation of injured character, has it not 
brought about ! How often has it not preserved giddy youth 
from confirmed habits of secret and degrading vice ! How 
much consolation has it not poured into bosoms torn by 
anguish, or weighed down by sorrow! What amount of 
good and salutary advice has it not imparted ! How often 
has it not prevented the sinner from being driven to the very 
verge of despair ! In a word, how much has it not contrib 
uted to the preservation of morals in every portion of society, 
which felt its influence ! 

Tell us not, that confession may be abused by corrupt men, 
that it has been often made an instrument of unholy ambi 
tion in the hands of the priesthood, and that it facilitates the 
commission of crime, by its oifer of pardon. These objec- 

selle, appears to me the work of a man who had not taken the pains to read 
any one contemporary work, or even any compilation which contains many 
extracts. No wonder that it does not represent, in the slightest degree, the 
real spirit of the times, or the tenets of the reformers. Thus, ex. gr., l Luther, 
he says, exposed the abuse of the traffic of indulgences, and the danger of 
believing that heaven and the remission of all crimes could be bought with 
money ; while a sincere repentance and an amended life were the only means 
of appeasing divine justice. (Page 65, English translation.) This at least 
is not very like Luther s antinomian contempt for repentance and amend 
ment of life ; it might como near to the notions of Erasmus." Introduction to 
the Literature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. 
In 2 vols. 8vo. Harper & Brothers ; New York, 1841. Vol. i, p. 166, note. 
* "Memoires," torn, i, liv. i. Apud Ilobelot, ibid. 


"What was the necessary moral influence of those doctrines 
of the Catholic Church, which the Reformation rejected ; and 
what that of those new ones which it substituted in the place 
of the old ? We speak only, of course, of the distinctive doc 
trines of the two communions, not of the common ground 
which they occupy. The Reformation retained many of the 
great principles of Christianity, which, according to the testi 
mony of Luther himself, referred to above, it had borrowed 
from the Catholic Church. Among the doctrines, or impor 
tant points of discipline which the reformers repudiated, the 
principal were : confession ; the celibacy of the clergy ; the 
doctrine of satisfaction, implied in fasting, purgatory, prayers 
for the dead, and indulgences ; the honor and invocation of 
saints ; and the indissoluble sanctity of marriage ; to say 
nothing of the real presence, which the greater portion of 
Protestants also rejected. We will say a few words on the 
moral influence of each of these doctrines. We may remark 
of them all, in general, that they had a restraining as well as 
an elevating effect ; that many of them were painful to human 
nature, and opposed a strong barrier to the passions. 

Even Voltaire admitted the salutary moral influence of 
confession. He says : " The enemies of the Catholic Church, 
who opposed an institution so salutary, seem to have taken 
away from men the greatest possible check to secret 
offenses."* Another infidel, and a mortal enemy of Rome 

* Annales de 1 Empire, quoted by Robelot, in his work entitled : Influ 
ence de la Reformation de Luther, sur la croyance religieuse, la politique, et 
le progres des lumieres. Par M. Robelot, ancien chanoine de 1 Eglise 
cathedrale de Dijon. A Lyon. 1822. 1 vol. 8vo, pp. 440. (Influence of 
the Reformation of Luther on religious belief, on politics, and on the progress 
of enlightenment. By M. Robelot.) 

This work was written in reply to the Essay on the Reformation which 
had been published by M. Villers, and had been rewarded with a prize by 
the infidel French Institute. Of this essay an unexceptionable witness, Hal- 
lam, writes as follows : " The essay on the Influence of the Reformation by 
Villers. which obtained a prize from the French Institute, and has been ex 
tolled by a very friendly but better informed writer in the Biographic Univer- 


Marmontel says: "How salutary a preservative for the 
morals of youth, is the practice and obligation of going to 
confession every month ? The shame attending this humble 
avowal of the most hidden sins, prevents perhaps the com 
mission of more of them, than all other motives the most 
holy taken together."* Nothing but stern truth could have 
drawn such avowals from such men. 

How many crimes, in fact, has not the practice of confes 
sion prevented or corrected ! How much implacable hatred 
has it not appeased! How much restitution of ill-gotten 
goods, and how much reparation of injured character, has it not 
brought about ! How often has it not preserved giddy youth 
from confirmed habits of secret and degrading vice ! How 
much consolation has it not poured into bosoms torn by 
anguish, or weighed down by sorrow! What amount of 
good and salutary advice has it not imparted ! How often 
has it not prevented the sinner from being driven to the very 
verge of despair ! In a word, how much has it not contrib 
uted to the preservation of morals in every portion of society, 
which felt its influence ! 

Tell us not, that confession may be abused by corrupt men, 
that it has been often made an instrument of unholy ambi 
tion in the hands of the priesthood, and that it facilitates the 
commission of crime, by its offer of pardon. These objec- 

selle, appears to me the work of a man who had not taken the pains to read 
any one contemporary work, or even any compilation which contains many 
extracts. No wonder that it does not represent, in the slightest degree, the 
real spirit of the times, or the tenets of the reformers. Thus, ex. gr., Luther, 
he says, exposed the abuse of the traffic of indulgences, and the danger of 
believing that heaven and the remission of all crimes could be bought with 
money ; while a sincere repentance and an amended life were the only means 
of appeasing divine justice. (Page 65, English translation.) This at least 
is not very like Luther s antinomian contempt for repentance and amend 
ment of life ; it might come near to the notions of Erasmus." Introduction to 
the Literature of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. 
In 2 vols. 8vo. Harper & Brothers ; New York, 1841. Vol. i, p. 166, note. 
* " Memoires," torn, i, liv. i. Apud Ilobelot, ibid. 


tions are all based on unfounded suspicion, or on gross mis 
apprehension of the nature of confession. At least, the evils 
complained of are very greatly exaggerated, and are not to 
be put in comparison with the incalculable amount of good 
which this institution is calculated to effect, and which it has 
really accomplished. What good thing is there, which has. 
not been abused ? Has not the Bible itself, abused by wicked 
men, been a source of incalculable mischief? And has not 
the Church guarded against abuses in the confessional, by the 
sternest enactments? One of these takes from the wicked 
priest all power of absolving an accomplice in crime ; and 
another requires the penitent to denounce the unfaithful min 
ister to the proper authorities.* 

And then, how sacred and inviolable has not the seal of 
confession ever been ? History does not record a single in 
stance of its violation, among hundreds of thousands of 
priests, in the long lapse of ages !f How can the priest avail 
himself of the knowledge obtained through confession, in 
order to exercise political or any other undue influence, when 
he is bound by the most sacred obligation, sanctioned by the 
most severe penalties, to make no use whatever of the knowl 
edge thus acquired, outside of the confessional itself? Why 
reason from mere idle suppositions and mere vague possibili 
ties, against the strongest evidences, and the most stubborn 

As to the other objection that confession encourages the 
commission of sin it is as puerile, as it is hackneyed. Ab 
surdity is stamped on its very face. What? is it easier then 
to commit a sin which you know you have to confess to a fel 
low man, than it would be to commit the same sin, without 
feeling any such obligation ? We would not be guilty of an 

* See the two bulls of Benedict XIV. on this subject. They begin Sac- 
rammtum and Apostolici. Another enactment to the same effect was made 
by Pope Gregory XV., in the year 1622. See Liguori " Homo Apostolicus." 
Tract, xvi, numo. 95, seqq. and numo. 165, seqq. De complice 9t sollicit. 

f See the testimony of Marmontel to this effect. Memoires, tx>m. iv. 


offence, forsooth, which we believed, at the time, we could 
expiate by a mere act of internal repentance, joined with 
confession to God ; and yet we would be encouraged to com 
mit this same offence, if we felt that, in addition to all this, 
we would be obliged to confess it to a priest! The objection 
is predicated on a strange ignorance of human nature. The 
Catholic Church requires, for the remission of sin, all that 
Protestants demand ; and, over and above all this, it requires, 
as essential conditions to pardon, many very painful things 
confession, restitution, works of penitential satisfaction 
which Protestants do not require: Which system really en 
courages the commission of sin? 

The people never could be induced to confess their sins to 
a married clergy. From the testimony of Burkard, Bishop of 
Worms, it appears that the Catholic population of that city 
refused to go to confession to those priests, who, stimulated 
by the principles of the Reformation then just commencing, 
had broken their vows of celibacy by taking wives. Confes 
sion and celibacy fell together. A married clergy never can 
command the respect, which has ever been paid to those who 
are unmarried. This is generally admitted by Protestants 
themselves, and it is even made a matter of censure against 
the Catholic clergy, who are accused of having too much in 
fluence over their flocks ! The true secret of this influence 
lies in the greater abstraction from the world, in the greater 
freedom from worldly solicitude, and in the more spiritual 
character of an unmarried clergy. Does not St. Paul allege 
these very motives, in the strong appeal which he makes in 
favor of celibacy, in his first epistle to the Corinthians?* 
Does he not advise the embracing of this state, both by word 
and by his own example ? Can the Catholic Church be 
blamed for having adopted his principles, and acted on his 
advice, in the matter of the celibacy of her clergy? 

Who can recount the immense advantages of priestly celi- 

* Chapter vii. Bead the whole chapter. 


bacy to society ? Who can tell of all tlie splendid churches it 
has erected ; of the hospitals for the sick and the afflicted, it 
has reared ; of the colleges it has built ; of the ignorant it has 
instructed; of the noble examples of heroic charity it has 
given to the world ; and of the pagan nations it has converted 
to Christianity ? Catholic Europe is full of noble monuments 
to religion, to literature and to charity, which an unmarried 
priesthood has built up ; and which a married clergy, " solic 
itous for the things of the world, how they might please their 
wives," and support their children, would certainly never 
have erected ? 

To advert briefly to the last consideration named above ; 
can a married clergy, other things being equal, cope with one 
that is unmarried, in missionary labors among heathen na 
tions ? With the incumbrance of their wives and children, 
can the former be as free in their movements, or be as zealous 
and disinterested ; can they mingle as freely with the people, 
labor as much, or succeed as well, in any respect as the lat 
ter ? What say the annals of Protestant missionary enter 
prise on this very subject? Can they point to one single 
nation or people converted to Christianity by their married 
preachers, notwithstanding the immense outlay of money for 
this purpose, and all the parade that is made about carrying 
the gospel to the heathen ? True, there are other weighty 
causes, which have also greatly contributed to this signal fail 
ure of Protestant missions ; but the absence of celibacy in 
their missionaries is no doubt one of the chief causes. 

The doctrine of satisfaction was another strong Catholic 
barrier against vice, which the Reformation removed. The 
reformers could not appreciate the utility of fasting, of vigils, 
and of other works of penance, undertaken for the expiation 
of sin. They had abolished the great sacrifice of the new 
law ; and they wished also to abolish all those painful obser 
vances, which could nourish and keep alive in the soul of the 
Christian that spirit of sacrifice, which might incline him "to 
deny himself, to take up his cross and to follow Christ." Both 


kinds of sacrifice were intimately connected ; and they both 
fell together. The reformers no longer taught their disciples, 
after the example of St. Paul, "to chastise their bodies and 
bring them into subjection," or " to fill up those things that 
are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in their flesh."* 

And yet, besides aiding in expiating sin, and rendering 
Christians more conformable to the image of the Saviour and 
of St. Paul, this doctrine was fraught with other almost in 
calculable advantages to society. To expiate their sins, 
Catholics of the olden time not only " chastised their bodies," 
but they also bestowed abundant alms, and reared splendid 
institutions of learning and of charity. Many of the colleges 
and hospitals of Europe owe their erection to the operation of 
this principle. It is quite common to find in the testamentary 
dispositions of the pious founders of these noble institutions, 
this consideration expressed in such clauses as this : " For 
the expiation of my sins, I found this hospital or college." 

We have seen that St. Peter s church and the university of 
Wittenberg were both indebted for their erection mainly to 
indulgences, which were predicated on the necessity of satis 
faction for sin. These are two instances, out of hundreds 
which might be stated, to show the beneficial influence of 
this doctrine on society.f Alas ! Charity hath grown cold, in 
those places particularly where this principle hath ceased to 
exist ! Private interest, a fever for speculation, selfish and 
sordid avarice, have dried up those deep fountains of Catho 
lic charity, which in the good old Catholic times so abundantly 
irrigated and fertilized the garden Catholic ! 

How manifold also are the advantages of holy fasting ! 
How it elevates the mind,J fosters temperance, teaches us to 

* Colossians, i : 24 ; and 1 Corinthians, ix. 

f See "The Ages of Faith" by Kenelm Digby, which is full of such ex 

| Vitia comprimit, mentem elevat, virtutem largitur et prsemia Prsef. 


restrain the passions, and to subdue the rebellious flesh! 
" Like another spring," according to the beautiful comparison 
of St. John Clirysostom,* "it renews the spirit, and brings 
calm and joy to the soul." It also promotes health, and con 
duces to longevity. Who has not remarked the great age to 
which the anchorites of the desert attained ? Malte Brun in 
forms us, that of one hundred and fifty-two anchorites, who 
lived in different climates, and in different centuries, the aver 
age age was seventy-six years.f By accustoming us to endure 
privation, fasting teaches us to bear patiently the necessary 
ills of life, and disposes us for great enterprises. In fact it is 
remarkable, that Moses and Elias approached the Deity to 
receive his special communications, only after the preliminary 
disposition of long fasting: and that Christ himself "fasted 
forty days and forty nights," ere he entered on his divine 
mission of mercy. 

How soothing, too, to the soul, is that sweet communion 
with the departed, which is kept up by the Catholic practice 
of praying for the dead? Even the stern Doctor Johnson 
felt the beauty and the force of this sympathy : he not only 
defended the practice, but he seems to have occasionally adopted 
it himself. He was not satisfied with merely dropping a tear, 
warm from his heart, over the grave of his departed mother ; 
but he, at the same time, wafted a fervent prayer to heaven 
for her repose.J 

And how elevating and useful, on the other hand, is that 
constant communion with heaven, which is kept up by the 
invocation of saints ! It powerfully stimulates us, not only 
to admire their super-eminent glory and to implore their aid ; 
but also to imitate their virtues. The Offices of the Church 
keep up a constant round of aniversary celebrations of the 
virtues and triumphs of these heroes of Christianity; whose 
virtues are thus always kept fresh in the minds of the faith- 

* St. John Chrysostom " De excellentia Jejun." Opp. T. ii. 

f " Precis de la Geographic," ii, 44. \ See Boswell s Life of Johnson. 


ful, who are by this means powerfully excited to follow their 
example. Who does not perceive the highly beneficial influ 
ence of this practice on the tone and morals of society ? 

On the subject of marriage, the Catholic Church has never 
swerved in the least from the stern line of duty. She has 
ever defended its sanctity, and maintained its indissolubility. 
Many of her struggles with princes during the middle ages, 
were undertaken by her for the vindication of these sacred 
principles lying at the basis of the matrimonial contract, the 
well-spring of society. England was lost to the Church, be 
cause the unwavering firmness of the Pope would not permit 
Henry VIII. to repudiate a virtuous w T ife, and to wed another 
more to his royal taste. She has won imperishable honors in 
this battle field of conjugal unity and purity against lawless 
vice in high places, on which she has nobly and victoriously 
contended with the army of the passions. 

On this point, as we have seen, the reformers were very far 
from being so stern or unyielding. They not only allowed 
two wives to the landgrave of Hesse, but they permitted di 
vorce for trivial causes ; and some of them even openly sanc 
tioned polygamy, after the example of the patriarchs. What 
were the sad effects of their teaching on this subject, we shall 
see more fully in the sequel. It will suffice here to remark 
on one obvious result of this laxity of doctrine, in regard to 
the sacredness and permanency of the marriage contract. 
Before the Reformation, divorces were almost unheard of; 
great princes sometimes applied for them, but met with deter 
mined resistance and a stern rebuke, on the part of the Church. 
Even at present, in Catholic countries, they are almost un 
known. Is it so in those communities where the influence of 
the Reformation has been long or extensively felt ? Alas ! in 
these, men seem almost wholly to have lost sight of the divine 
injunction : " What God has united, let not man put asun 
der."* Divorces have multiplied to a frightful extent. In 

* St. Matthew, xix : 6. 


the United States, our legislatures and courts receive annually 
thousands of petitions for divorce : and what is more deplora 
ble, they usually grant the prayer of the petitioners !* Is not 
this a lamentable evil, most injurious to society ? Whence 
does it originate, if not in the weakening of Catholic princi 
ples in regard to the in dissolubility of the marriage contract, 
by the counter principles broached at the period of the Ref 
ormation ? 

A volume might be written on the salutary influence on 
society of those distinctive doctrines of the Church which 
Protestants have rejected, f But our limits permitted only 
the above rapid and imperfect sketch : and we must now pass 
on to the additional inquiry ; what was the moral influence 
of those new doctrines which the Reformation introduced? 
"We have already seen what many of these doctrines were, 
and we have already been enabled to estimate, in a great 
measure, their probable effect on the morals of society. But 
we will here give some further details on a subject so inter 
esting and important. 

Luther s famous, or rather infamous sermon on marriage, 
preached in the public church of Wittenberg in 1522, in the 
plain vernacular language, gave great scandal, and was a 
source of incalculable moral evil throughout Germany. It 
openly pandered to the basest passions of human nature. It 
was busily circulated and greedily devoured by all classes, 
especially among those who were favorable to the Reforma 
tion. Never was there a grosser specimen of unblushing lu 
bricity : and its having been so much relished by the parti 
sans of Luther, is a certain index of a very low standard of 
morality at that period. But this was not the only specimen 
of decency given by the " father of the Reformation." Many 

* The chancery court of Louisville granted sixty divorces in a single 
year ! And in many other places the case is still worse ; as, for instance, 
in Indiana. 

f Those who may wish to see more on this subject, are referred to Scotti 
Teoremi di Politica Christiana an excellent Italian work, in 2 vols. 8vo. 


of his letters to his private friends are much too obscene to be 
exhibited, even in the original Latin. Yet they had a power 
ful effect on the morals of the age. Luther openly invited 
the Catholic priests, monks, and nans, who had vowed celib 
acy, to break their vows, which he styled the " bonds of anti 
christ." His soul overflowed with joy at the new r s of each 
new sacrilegious marriage. He would congratulate the in- 
fringer of his vows, " on his having overcome an impure and 
damnable celibacy," by entering into marriage, which he 
painted as " a paradise even in the midst of poverty."* He 
wrote a work against celibacy and monastic vows, teeming 
with the strongest appeals to the lowest and basest passions. 
He openly urged princes to expel by force the religious from 
their monasteries. f 

Erasmus, an eye witness, paints the horrible disorders to 
which Luther s epistles, sermons and works against celibacy, 
naturally led. He represents certain cities of Germany as 
swarming with apostate monks, who drank beer to excess, 
danced and sang in the public streets, and gave in to all manner 
of scandalous excesses. He says of them : u That if they could 
get enough to eat and a wife, they cared not a straw for any 
thing else."J "When they found not wives among the fe 
male religious, they sought them in the haunts of vice. "What 
cared they for the priestly benediction ? They married each 
other, and celebrated their nuptials by orgies, in which the 
new married couple generally lost their reason . 

" Formerly " continues Erasmus, " men quitted their wives 
for the sake of the gospel ; nowadays, the gospel flourishes 
most, when a few succeed in marrying wives with rich dow- 

* "Paradisum arbitror conjugium, vel summfi inopi:\ laborans." Epist. 
Nicholao Gerbellis, Nov. 1, 1521. 

f See his words quoted by Audin, p. 335, seqq. 

I " Amant viaticum et uxorem : coetera pili non faciunt." Erasmi Epist. 
p. 637. 

J Audin p. 336, who quotes from Erasmus loco citato. 


ries."* He caustically remarks, "that (Ecolampadius had 
lately married a beautiful young girl, he suspects, to mortify 
his flesh."t He also informs us, that these ex-monks, after 
having become the most zealous partisans of the Reformation, 
subsisted by open robbery of the churches and their neigh 
bors, indulged to excess in drinking and in games of hazard, 
and presented a spectacle of the most revolting licentiousness. J 

Luther had taught that " as in the first days of Chris tanity, 
the Church was forced to exalt virginity among the pagans, 
who honored adultery; so, now, when the Lord had made 
the light of the gospel (!) shine forth, it was necessary to exalt 
marriage, at the expense of popish celibacy ." The apostate 
monks eagerly seized on this and similar teachings of the 
reformer; and the above are some of the disorders which 
naturally ensued. But even they are not the worst. Bigamy 
was quite common among them, at least for a time. They 
defended it, too, on scriptural grounds. Luther was appealed 
to on the subject. In his reply, he wavers and hesitates, 
wishes each individual to be left to the guidance of his own 
conscience, and concludes his letter in these remarkable 
words : 

" For my part I candidly confess, that I could not prohibit any one, who 
might wish it, to take many wives at once, nor is this repugnant to the Holy 
Scriptures. But there are things lawful, which are not expedient. Bigamy 
is of the number." || 

Karlstadt went still further : he wished to make polygamy 
obligatory, or at least entirely permissible to all. He said to 
Luther : "As neither you, nor I, have found a text in the 
sacred books against bigamy, let us be bigamists and triga- 
mists let us take as many wives as we can maintain. In 
crease and multiply. Do you understand ? Accomplish the 

* " Nunc floret evangelium, si pauci ducant uxores bene dotatas." Erasmi 
Epist. p. 768. f Ibid., p. 632. 

| Ibid., p. 766. Luther Opp. torn i, p. 526, seqq. 

11 Epist. ad K. Bruck 13, Janu. 1524. " Ego sane fateor me non posse 
prohibere si quis velit plures ducere uxores, nee repugnat Sacris literis ?" 


order of heaven."* This argument must have had great 
weight with Luther, as he had maintained that celibacy was 
impossible, and had himself alleged that very text from 
Genesis, to prove that marriage was a divine command obli 
gatory on all! By the way, as Luther married only at the 
age of forty-two, what are we to think of the purity of his 
previous life, when he openly maintained such principles as 
these? They were well calculated, at any rate, to bring down 
the lofty standard of Christian morality to that of Moham 
medanism : and, if they did not bring about this result, we 
certainly owe no thanks to the Reformation. How strongly 
these loose principles of morality contrast with the stern teach 
ings of the Catholic Church on marriage ! 

II. It was natural to expect, that the influence of such 
principles as these, as well as of those other distinctive doc 
trines of the Reformation which we have already referred 
to,f should have been most injurious to public morals. And 
accordingly we find, from the testimony of the reformers 
themselves, and of their earliest partisans, that such precisely 
was the case. Luther himself assures us of this deterioration 
in public morals: 

"The world grows worse and worse, and becomes more wicked every 
day. Men are now more given to revenge, more avaricious, more devoid of 
mercy, less modest, and more incorrigible ; in fine, more wicked than in the 
Papacy."J In another place he says, speaking to his most intimate friends : 
"One thing no less astonishing than scandalous, is to see that, since the 
pure doctrine of the gospel has been brought to light (!), the world daily 
goes from bad to worse." 

This is not at all astonishing, when we consider the nature 
and necessary tendency of that " pure doctrine." 

He draws the following dreadful picture of the morals of 
his time, after " the pure doctrine had been brought to light :" 

"The noblemen and the peasants have come to such a pitch, that they 

* Apud Audin, p. 339. f Supra, Chapter iii. 

J Luther in Postilla sup. 1 Dom. Adventus. 
{ Idem, Table Talk, fol. 55. 
VOL. i. 22 


boast and proclaim without scruple, that they have only to let themselves be 
preached at ; but that they would prefer being entirely disenthralled from 
the word of God : and that they would not give a farthing for all our sermons 
put together. And how are we to lay this to them as a crime, when they 
make no account of the world to come ? They live as they believe : they 
are and continue to be swine : they live like swine and they die like real 

Aurifaber, the disciple and bosom friend of Luther, and the 
publisher of his Table Talk, tells us : " Luther was wont to 
say, that after the revelation of his gospel, virtue had become 
extinct, justice oppressed, temperance bound with cords, vir 
tue torn in pieces by the dogs, faith had become wavering, 
and devotion had been lost."f So notoriously immoral, in 
fact, were the early Lutherans, that it was then a common 
saying in Germany, to express a day spent in drinking and 
debauch: "Hodie Lutheranice vivemus" "To-day we will 
live like Lutherans."J 

In another place, Luther laments the moral evils of the 
Reformation, in the following characteristic strain : 

" I would not be astonished if God should open at length the gates and 
windows of hell, and snow or hail down (up V) devils, or rain down on our 
heads lire and brimstone, or bury us in a fiery ab} 7 ss, as he did Sodom and 
Gomorrha. Had Sodom and Gomorrha received the gifts which have been 
granted to us had they seen our visions and heard our instructions they 
would yet be standing. They were a thousand times less culpable than 
Germany, for they had not heard the word of God from their preachers. 
And we w T ho have received and heard it we do nothing but rise up against 
God Since the downfall of popery, and the cessation of its excommu 
nications and spiritual penalties, the people have learned to despise the word 
of God. They care no longer for the churches ; they have ceased to fear and 
to honor God." 

Martin Bucer, another of the reformers, bears the following 
explicit testimony on the same subject : 

* Table Talk, super i, Epist. Corinth., chap. xv. 
f Aurifaber, fol. 623 ; and Florimond Remond, p. 225. 
f Bened. Morgenstern Traite de PEglise, p. 221. 

Luther Wercke Edit. Altenburg, tome iii, p. 519. Reinhard s "Refor 
mations Predigten," torn, iii, p. 445. 


" The greater part of the people seem to have embraced the gospel (!), only 
in order to shake off the yoke of discipline, and the obligation of fasting, 
penances, etc., which lay upon them in the time of popery, and to live at their 
pleasure, enjoying their lust and lawless appetite without control. They 
therefore lend a willing ear to the doctrine that we are justified by faith 
alone, and not by good works, having no relish for them."* 

The reformers ought surely to have known better probably 
than any one else what was the real tendency of the new gospel, 
and they certainly had no motive to exaggerate its evil results. 

John Calvin draws a picture, not much more flattering of 
the state of morals to his branch of the glorious Reformation. 
He states that even the preachers of the new doctrines were 
notoriously immoral : 

"There remains still a wound more deplorable. The pastors, yes the 
pastors themselves who mount the pulpit .... are at the present time the 
most shameful examples of waywardness and other vices. Hence their 
sermons obtain neither more credit nor authority than the fictitious tales 

uttered on the stage by the strolling player I am astonished that the 

women and children do not cover them with mud and filth."f 

Another leading reformer Philip Melancthon informs 
us, that those who had joined the standard of the Reforma 
tion at his day, " had come to such a pitch of barbarity, that 
many of them were persuaded that if they fasted one day, 
they would find themselves dead the night following."J And 
still another early Protestant, Jacob Andreas, says : " It is 
certain that God wishes and requires of his servants a grave 
and Christian discipline; but it passes with us as a new 
Papacy, and a new monkery ." And no wonder, after all 
the teaching on the subject of Luther and the other leading 
reformers ! 

"We here subjoin an analysis of the testimony furnished by 
the reformers themselves, according to the learned and ac 
curate Dollinger, on the practical moral results of their 
teachings, as witnessed by " themselves in their own times. 

"De regno Christi." f Livre sur les scandales p. 128. 

In vi, cap. Mathei. Comment, in St. Lucam. Chap. xxi. 


If some of these testimonies are similar to those already 
given, the confirmation is still more forcible. As will be 
seen, the analysis is sufficiently thorough and searching, 
and its length will be pardoned to the great interest of the 


" Upon this head, few will be disposed to call in question the authority 
of our first evidence, the father of the Reformation himself. With all his 
partiality for the child of his own labors, Luther is forced to admit, that it 
were no wonder if his beloved Germany were sunk in the earth, or utterly 
overthrown by the Turks and Tartars, by reason of the hellish and damn 
able forgetfulness and contempt of God s grace which the people manifest ; 
nay, that the wonder is, that the earth does not refuse to bear them, and 
the sun to shine upon them any longer. He doubts whether it should any 
longer be called a world, and not rather an abyss of all evils, wherewith 
those sodomites afflict his soul and his eyes both day and night. Every 
thing is reversed, he laments, the world grows every day the worse for 
this teaching ; and the misery of it is, that men are nowadays more covetous, 
more hard-hearted, more corrupt, more licentious, and more wicked, than of old 
under the Papacy. Our evangelicals, he avows, are now sevenfold more 
wicked than they were before. In proportion as we hear the gospel, we 
steal, lie, cheat, gorge, swill, and commit every crime. If one devil has 
been driven out of us, seven worse ones have taken their place, to judge 
from the conduct of princes, lords, nobles, burgesses, and peasants, their utterly 
shameless acts, and their disregard of God and of his menaces. Under 
the Papacy, men were charitable and gave freely ; but now, under the gospel, 
all almsgiving is at an end, every one fleeces his neighbor, and each seeks to 
have all for himself. And the longer the gospel is preached, the deeper do men 
sink in avarice, pride, and ostentation. So utterly, too, does he despair of 
the improvement of this generation of his disciples, that he often wishes 
that these filthy swine-bellies were back again under the tyranny of the Pope, 
for it is impossible that a race so savage, such a "people of Gomorrha," 
could be ruled by the peaceful consolations of the gospel. 

" It could hardly be expected, indeed, that Luther would himself attribute 
the universal depravity, the presence of which he thus frankly acknowledges, 
to the influence of his own gospel. But he can not, and does not conceal, 

* We take this excellent summary from the Dublin Review for Septem 
ber, 1848, which gives also the proper references to Bellinger s German 


that such was the popular impression regarding it ; and although, of course, 
he denounces the imputation as sinful and blasphemous, he admits that men 
loudly and complainingly attributed it all to the gospel, or, as they call it, the 
new learning, , and tauntingly demanded what was the good of all their fine 
preaching and instruction, if no one followed it, or was the better for it, nay 
rather, if they grew worse than they were before ; it would be better, they 
said, if things had remained as they were. Indeed, not to multiply evi 
dence of a fact so notorious, he himself acknowledges that the peasants, 
through the influence of the gospel, have become utterly beyond restraint, 
and think they may do what they please. They no longer fear either hell 
or purgatory, but content themselves with saying, "I believe, therefore I 
shall be saved:" and they become proud, stiff-necked Mammonists, and 
accursed misers, sucking the very substance of the country and the people. 

" These are but a few out of a host of similar avowals, which Dr. Dollin- 
ger has collected from every portion of Luther s works. Lest it should be 
supposed they are confined to the earlier years of the Keformation, and 
regard only the state of the Lutheran body in the first phases of its forma 
tion, we shall venture, even at the risk of being tedious, to select a few pas 
sages, written during the last years of his life, not a whit less expressive 
than those already produced. During the years 1540-6, Lutheranism may 
be truly said to have reached its culminating point, as far as regards the 
career of its founder. In a letter of his written to Hermann Bonn, (April 
5, 1543,) he expresses his exultation at the completeness of his success 
From Riga to Metz from the foot of the Alps to the north point of the 
peninsula of Jutland his realm had been gradually extended. The num 
ber of crowned heads and of sovereign princes now in his following, was 
very great, and later years had notably increased the catalogue. Duke 
Otho, Henry, elector palatine of the Rhine, the duchess of Calenberg, Arch 
bishop Hermann of Cologne, and the bishop of Munster and Osnabruck, 
were among his most recent adherents. Wolfenbiittel had just been added 
to the ranks by the ministry of Bugenhagen. The nobility and many of 
the lower classes in Austria, had begun to feel the contagion. The great 
body of the German nobility were, at least indirectly, favorers of the movement. 
Many of the noble chapters had passed over en masse, and others were but 
tottering in their allegiance. The imperial cities were for the most part 
Protestant ; and it seemed but a question of time to complete and perpetu 
ate the conquest thus rapidly and systematically achieved ! 

" Such was the exterior history of the movement ; such was the external 
condition of the Lutheran communion during the later years of its founder s 
life. But how hollow the triumph, and how unsubstantial the conquest 
which had been thus obtained ! 

"On Nov. 10th, 1541, Luther writes to one of his friends, that he Hd 


almost abandoned all hope for Germany, so universally had avarice, usury, 
tyranny, disunion, and the whole host of untruth, wickedness, and treach 
ery, as well as disregard of the word of God, and the most unheard of in 
gratitude, taken possession of the nobility, the courts, the towns, and the 
villages In the March of the following year, he writes in much the same 
strain, adding, that his only hope is in the near approach of the last day ; , 
the world has become so barbarous, so tired of the word of God, and enter 
tains so thorough a disgust for it. On the 23d of July, he declares, that 
* those who would be followers of the gospel, draw down God s wrath by 
their avarice, their rapine, their plunder of the churches ; while the people 
listen to instructions, prayers, and entreaties, but continue, nevertheless, to 
heap sin upon sin. On another occasion, (October 25th, 1542,) he declares 
that he is tired of living in this hideous Sodom ; that all the good which 
he had hoped to effect has vanished away ; that there remains naught but a 
deluge of sin and unholiness, and nothing is left for him but to pray for his 
discharge. And in reality, not only did he wish for death as a boon to 
himself, that he might be released from this Satanical generation, but he 
was even able calmly to see his little daughter Margaret, to whom he was 
devotedly attached, die before his eyes. Alas ! he cried to the prince of 
Anhalt, we live in Babylon and Sodom. Every thing is growing worse 
each day. And even in the very last hours of his life, so bitterly did he 
feel the immorality and irreligiousness of the city which he had made the 
chosen seat and center of his doctrines, that he had actually made up his 
mind to leave it forever. So sensible was he made of the connection between 
his doctrines and the moral condition of Wittenberg, that the thought of 
residence there became insupportable. Let us but fly from this Sodom ! 
he wrote to his wife a few months before his death; I will wander 
through the world, and beg my bread from door to door, rather than 
embitter and disturb my poor old last days by this spectacle of the disorder 
of Wittenberg, and the fruitlessness of my bitter dear toil in its service. It 
is a significant commentary on the fruitlessness of the mission to which he 
had devoted his life, that it needed all the influence of the elector to induce 
him to abandon his determination ! 

f< Such is a faint outline of Luther s own report of the moral fruits of his 
Reformation. It is but too well borne out in its worst details by his friends 
and fellow-laborers. The reader will perceive that we are drawing but 
lightly upon Dr. Bellinger s abundant and overflowing pages ; and for what 
remains, we must be even more sparing in our extracts. We shall only ob 
serve that those which we mean to present are taken almost at random ; 
that it would have been easy to find hundreds of others equally striking ; and 
that the effect of all is grievously impaired by the broken and fragmentary 
form, in which, of course, they must appear in such a notice as the present 


" Few of the reformers dealt less in extremes than the mild Melancthon. 
What, therefore, are we to think of the state of things which drew even 
from him the declaration, that in these latter times the world has taken to 
itself a boundless license ; that very many are so unbridled as to throw off 
every bond of discipline, though at the same time they pretend that they have 
faith, that they invoke God with true fervor of heart, and that they are 
lively and elect members of the church ; living, meanwhile, in truly cyclo- 
pean indifference and barbarism, and in slavish subjection to the devil, who 
drives them to adulteries, murders, and other atrocious crimes ? This class, 
too, he tells us, are firmly wedded to their own opinions, and entirely intol 
erant of remonstrance. Men receive with avidity the inflammatory ha 
rangues which exaggerate liberty and give loose rein to the passions ; as, for 
an example, the cynical, rather than Christian principle, which denies the 
necessity of good works. Posterity will stand amazed that a generation 
should have ever existed, in which these ravings have been received with 
applause. Never in the days of our fathers, he avows, had there existed 
such gluttony as exists now, and is daily on the increase. The morals of 
the people, all that they do, and all that they neglect to do, are becoming 
every day worse. Gluttony, debauchery, licentiousness, wantonness, are 
gaining the upper hand more and more among the people, and in one word, 
every one does just as he pleases. 

" Most of the preachers, writes Bucer, imagine, that if they inveigh 
stoutly against the anti-christians [papists], and chatter away on a few un 
important fruitless questions, and then assail their brethren also, they have 
discharged their duty admirably. Following this example, the people, as 
soon as they know how to attack our adversaries, and to prate a little about 
things far from edifying, believe that they are perfect Christians. Mean 
while, there is nowhere to be seen modesty, charity, zeal, or ardor for God s 
glory ; and in consequence of our conduct, God s holy name is everywhere 
subjected to horrible blasphemies. Nobody, writes Althamer, in the 
preface of his Catechism, cares to instruct his child, his servant, his maid, 
or any of his dependants, in the word of God or his fear ; and thus our 
young generation is the very worst that ever has existed. The elders are worth 
less, and the young follow their example. The children, says Culmaun, 
are habituated to debauchery by their parents, and thus comes an endless 
train of diseases, seductions, tumults, murders, robberies, and thefts, which 
unhappily, owing to the state of society, are committed with security. And 
the worst of all is,, that they are not ashamed to palliate their conduct by 
the examples of Noah, Lot, David, and others. 

" In one word, it would be as difficult to add to the catalogue of popular 
crimes enumerated by these men contempt, falsification, and persecution 
of God s word; abuse, of his holy sacraments; idolatry, heresy, simony, 


sorcery, heathenish and epicurean life, indifference about God, absolute infi 
delity, disregard of public worship, ignorance of the first elements of religion, 
and the whole hideous deluge of shame and sin shamelessly committed 
against God s commandments, not the mere result of human weakness and 
frailty, but persevered in remorselessly and unrepentingly, and regarded by 
the majority of men as no longer sinful and disgraceful, but as downright 
virtues, and legitimate subjects of boast and self-gratulation as it would 
to add to the evidence of the universal prevalence of such crimes which 
they supply, and for the truth of which they themselves challenge a denial. 
Take any class you please, says Dietrich, high or low, you will find all 
equally degenerate and corrupt. What is more, there is no longer any 
social honesty to be found among the people. The majority persecute the 
gospel, and cling to the old idolatry. The rest, who have received God s 
word and gospel, are also lawless, insensible to instruction, hardened in their 
old sinful life, as is evident from the whoredom, adultery, usury, avarice, 
lying, cheating, and manifold wickedness which prevail. 

" There is one branch of this subject which we do not approach without 
great repugnance, but which, nevertheless, it would be most unhistorical, as 
well as unphilosophical, to overlook, because there is none in which the 
working of the positive teaching of the reformers is so palpably and unmis 
takably recognized. We refer to the avowed and undeniable deterioration 
of public morality, the indifference to the maintenance of chastity, to the 
observance of the marriage vow, and indeed to the commonest decencies of 
life, by which the spread of Lutheranism was uniformly and instantaneously 
followed. We can not bring ourselves to pollute our page with the hateful 
and atrocious doctrines of Luther (vol. i, pp. 428-9), of Sarcerius (p. 431), 
Dresser (p. 432), Bugenhagen (p. 434) u and many others (p. 431), founded 
upon what they allege to be the physical impossibility of observing conti 
nence, which results from the original constitution of the sexes as ordained 
by God ; but we are necessitated to allude to them, in order to establish 
beyond question the connection of these doctrines (which, it must be re 
membered, were enforced by Luther chiefly in his German tracts and 
sermons addressed to the entire people) with the moral consequences which 
we shall proceed to detail, as briefly and as slightly as circumstances will 
permit, in the words of the authorities collected in the pages before us. 
Nothing can be more revolting than the picture of universal and unrestrained 
depravity which they reveal. 

" The youths of the present day, says Brentius in 1532, are hardly 
released from their cradles when they must take women to themselves, and 
girls, long before they are marriageable, begin betimes to think of men : 
priests, monks, and nuns marry in despite of every human law. Four 
years earlier, the reformer of Ulm, Conrad Ian, complained that impurity 
and adultery were universal in the world that each one corrupted his neigh- 


bor, that it was no longer reputed as a sin or a shame, but was even made 
subject of public boast. In 1537, Osiander complains, that so commonly, 
and, unhappily, in all places with so much impunity, were fornication and 
adultery practiced, that, revolting and unchristian as it is, wives and daugh 
ters were hardly secure among their own blood relations, where their virtue, 
honor, and purity should be most rigidly respected ; and his colleague Link 
avows, that nowadays the vice of unchastity is made a subject of laughter 
and of amusement. Mathesius discovered a token of the approach of the 
end of the world in the prevalence of this vice. How universal was the 
practice of debauchery, adultery, fornication, incest, conjugal infidelity, we 
learn partly from the criminal processes, the consistories, and the superin 
tendents, partly from private intercourse. Assuredly either the last day is 
at hand, or there is some awful pestilence at our door. We Germans, 
nowadays, says Sarcerius, in 1554, can boast but little of the virtue of 
chastity, and that little is disappearing so fast that we can hardly speak of it 
any more. The number who still love it are so small, that it would be 
matter not of surprise, but of absolute horror; and debauchery prevails 
without fear and without shame. The young learn it from -the old; one 
vice leads to another, and now the young generation is so steeped in every 
species of vice, that they are more experienced in it than were the oldest 
people in former times. * Braunmiiller, minister of Wurtemburg in 1560, 
complains that bastardy is very common. Every one is so hardened, and 
so habituated to this diabolical vice, that it is not considered grievous, for it 
is as daily bread everywhere around. Almost every wife is unfaithful ; and 
hence no one need wonder that the band of adulterers in these our days is 
more powerful and influential than it was in the days of our ancestors, or 
even of the heathens. Again, five yenrs later, Andrew Hoppenrod raised 
the same complaint in Mansfeld. We see and hear (alas ! God help us ! ) 
that impurity and fornication have made frightful inroads among Christians, 
and have sunk their roots so deeply, that it is hardly any longer reputed a 
sin, but is rather gloried in as a noble and desirable thing, without sorrow 
or remorse of conscience. In 1573, Christopher Fischer, superintendent 

* " We shall leave the following passage (which, strange to say, is from 
an old popular hymn) in its original German : 

* Die funft Kunst ist gemeine, 
1st Ehebruch, Unkeuschheit 
Das kann jetzt gross und kleine 
Hat man jetzund Beschied. 
Man schamt sich auch nichts mehre, 
Man halt s gar fur eine Ehre ; 
Niemand thut es fast wehren ; 

Wclcher s jetzt treibet viel, 4 

Will seyn im bessten Spiel. 

" After all, one can hardly wonder at this, when one recollects the chorus 
of what is still popularly preserved as Luther s favorite chant : 

Wer liebt nich Weiber, Wein, Gesang 

Er bleibt ein Narr sein Leben lang ! 
Who loves not women, wine, and song, 

He lives a fool his lifetime long! " 
VOL. T. 23 


in Brunswick, complains in like manner, that such is the prevalence of 
whoredom and debauchery, that they are no longer looked on as sinful ; any 
one who has the opportunity thinks he does well in availing himself of it, 
for the world does not punish it ; and, as for adulterj^, so completely has it 
obtained the upperhand, that no punishment can avail any longer to sup 
press it! " Vol. ii, pp. 435-7. 

" We can not venture to extend our extracts on this subject further. It 
need only be added, that the frightful state of morality depicted in these 
pages is attributed without disguise, even by the Lutherans themselves, to 
the doctrines of Luther already alluded to. The reader will find at pages 
438-40 (of Dollinger) a long and most remarkable extract from Czecano- 
vius, in which the connection is fully and freely admitted. Districts in 
which these crimes were utterly unknown, were scarcely initiated in the 
principles of the Reformation till they became corrupted to the heart s core. 
A most remarkable example of this is Ditmarsen, a district in Holstein, in 
which the Catholic religion was abolished in 1532. So remarkable had this 
province been for the purity and simplicity of its population, that it was 
known under the name of Maryland [Marienland] ; cases of unchastity were 
so rare and unexampled, that the forfeiture of her virtue on the part of a 
female was visited with perpetual disgrace, and was generally atoned for by 
voluntary exile, and even in some cases by the suicide of the despairing de 
faulter. Before Lutheranism had been established ten years, its own apos 
tle, Nicholas Boje (in 1541), was forced to complain that public crimes 
especially whoredom, adultery, and merciless, heathenish, Jewish, nay, 
Turkish usury prevail so universally, that he was obliged to call God to 
witness, that neither preaching, teaching, instruction, menaces, nor the terror 
of God s wrath, and of his righteous judgments, was of any avail. The 
practice of divorce, too, was, in every reformed country, an immediate con 
sequence of the Reformation ; and if there were no other evidence of the 
connection between the introduction of the new religion and this frightful 
deterioration of morals, it would be found in the numberless laws against 
adultery, fornication, bigamy, etc., which date from this period, and the fre 
quent and flagrant convictions and sentences under these laws in every Prot 
estant province of Germany. For abundant and convincing evidence of all 
this, we must refer the reader to the fifteenth section of the first volume, 
which is a mine of curious and most extraordinary learning, but yet free 
from that coarseness and indelicacy in which learned writers too often feel 
themselves privileged to indulge in dealing with such subjects. 

"Indeed, to add further testimonies would ba but to weary and disgust 
the reader. We can say with truth, that to cull even these few from this 
mass of painful and revolting record, has been any thing b lt an agreeable 
task ; and that the reader who will be content to pursue the general inquiry 
further for himself, to read through the evidence of Amsdorf, Spalatin, Bu- 


genhagen, Gerbel, Major, Flacius Ulyricus, Brentius, Schnepf, Wesshuss, 
Camerarius, and the numberless others whom the author s industry has 
accumulated, must make up his mind to encounter many shocking and dis 
heartening details, for which the popular representations of the social and 
religious condition of the great era of the Reformation will have but ill pre 
pared him. 

" It must not be supposed that the testimonies which we have hitherto 
alleged, or the great mass of those collected lay the author, describe the social 
condition but of a portion of Germany, under the Reformation. There is 
not a single locality which has not its witness. Saxony, Hesse, Nassau, 
Brandenburg, Strasburg, Nurnberg, Stralsund, Thorn, Mecklenburg, West 
phalia, Pomerania, Friesland, Denmark, Sweden ; and all, or almost all, are 
represented by natives, or, at least, residents, familiar with the true state of 
society, and, if not directly interested in concealing, certainly not liable to 
the suspicion of any disposition to exaggerate, its shortcomings or its crimes. 

" Indeed, the connection between the progress of Lutheranism and this 
corruption of public morals, could not possibly be put more strikingly than 
in the words of John Belz, a minister of Allerstadt in Thuringia (1566) : 
If you would find a multitude of brutal, coarse, godless people, among 
whom every species of sin is every day in full career, go into a city where 
the holy gospel is taught, and where the best preachers are to be met, and 
there you will be sure to find them in abundance. To be pious and up 
right (for which God praises Job) is nowadays held, if not 4o be a sin, at 
least a downright folly ; and from many pulpits it is proclaimed, that good 
works are not only unncessary, but hurtful to the soul. " 

Such then were the moral effects of the Reformation, ac 
cording to the testimony of the reformers themselves. These 
new apostles professed indeed to reform the Church in doc 
trine and morals : they inveighed against the immorality of 
the Catholic priesthood, whom they abused and vilified beyond 
measure : they set themselves up as patterns for the world : 
but they forgot withal to reform themselves and their own 
disciples. They even went " daily from bad to worse." They 
were wholly unmindful of the admonition of the Saviour: 
" Let him that is without sin among you first cast a stone."* 

We subjoin to this copious evidence the following portrait 
ure of the state of morals in Germany shortly after the begin 
ning of the Reformation, drawn by one who will not be 

St. John, viii : 7. 


suspected, Wolfgang Menzcl. The horrible details which 
he furnishes on this subject, indicate a condition of courtly 
and general depravity which would seem almost incredible ; 
but alas ! the evidence is overwhelming. 

" The Protestants also allowed the opportunity offered to them by the 
emperor to pass unheeded, and, although they received a great accession in 
number, sank, from want of unity, in real power and influence. The rest 
of the German princes, Charles and Ernest of Baden, and Julius of Bruns 
wick Wolfenbiittel, the son of Henry the Wild embraced Lutheranism. 
Austria, Bavaria, Lorraine, and Juliers remained Catholic. The reformers 
were devoid of union and energy, and oppressed by a sense of having abused 
and desecrated, instead of having rigidly prosecuted, the Reformation. 

" Was their present condition the fitting result of a religious emancipation, 
or worthy of the sacred blood that had been shed in the cause ? Instead 
of one Pope, the Protestants were oppressed by a number, each of the princes 
ascribing that authority to himself; and instead of Jesuits, they had court 
chaplains and superintendent-generals, who, their equals in venom, despised 
no means, however base, by which their aim might be attained. A new 
species of barbarism had found admittance into the Protestant courts and 
universities. The Lutheran chaplains shared their influence over the princes 
with mistresses, boon-companions, astrologers, alchymists, and Jews. The 
Protestant princes, rendered, by the treaty of Augsburg, unlimited dictators 
in matters of faith within their territories, had lost all sense of shame. 
Philip of Hesse married two wives. Brandenburg and pious Saxony yielded 
to temptation. Surrounded by coarse grooms, equerries, court-fools of obscene 
wit, misshapen dwarfs, the princes emulated each other in drunkenness, an 
amusement that entirely replaced the noble and gallant tournament of earlier 
times. Almost every German court was addicted to this bestial vice. Among 
others, the ancient house of Piast, in Silesia, was utterly ruined by it. Even 
Louis of Wurtemberg, whose virtues rendered him the darling of his people, 
was continually in a state of drunkenness. This vice and that of swearing 
even became a subject of discussion in the diet of the empire, [A. D. 1577,] 
when it was decreed, That all electoral princes, nobles, and estates should 
avoid intemperate drinking as an example to their subjects. The chase 
was also followed to excess. The game was strictly preserved, and, during 
the hunt, the serfs were compelled to aid in demolishing their own corn 
fields. The Jews and alchymists, whom it became the fashion to have at 
court, were by no means a slight evil, all of them requiring gold. Astrology 
would have been a harmless amusement had not its professors taken advan 
tage of the ignorance and superstition of the times. False representations 
of the secret powers of nature and of the devil led to the belief in witch- 


craft, and to the bloody persecution of its supposed agents. Luther s belief 
in the agency qf the devil had naturally filled the minds of his followers 
with superstitious fears." .... 

" The Ascanian family of Lauenburg was sunk in vice. The same license 
continued from one generation to another ; the country was deeply in debt, 
and how, under the circumstances, the cuju.s regio was maintained, may 
easily be conceived. The Protestant clergy of this duchy were proverlnal for 
ignorance, license, and immorality. 

" The imperial court at Vienna offered, by its dignity and morality, a bright 
contrast, to the majority of the Protestant courts, whose bad example was, 
nevertheless, followed by many of the Catholic princes, who, without taking 
part in the Reformation, had thereby acquired greater independence."* 

Erasmus has well described this change for the worse in 
the morals of those who embraced the Reformation : 

" Those whom I had known to be pure, full of candor and simplicity, 
these same persons have I seen afterwards, when they had gone over to 
the sect (of the gospelers,) begin to speak of girls, flock to games of hazard, 
throw aside prayer, give themselves up entirely to their interests ; become 
the most impatient, vindictive and frivolous ; changed in fact from men to 
vipers. I know well what I say."f And again : "I see many Lutherans, 
but few evangelicals. Look a little at these people, and say whether luxury, 
avarice, and lewdness, do not prevail still more amongst them, than among 
those whom they detest. Show me one who by means of this gospel is be 
come better. I will show you very many who are become worse. Perhaps 
it has been my bad fortune : but I have seen none who have not become 
worse by their gospel." \ 

The testimony of Erasmus is above suspicion. Though he 
continued in the Catholic Church, yet he was the early friend 
of Luther, Melancthon and several others among the principal 
reformers ; and he had himself contributed not a little per 
haps, however, only indirectly and unintentionally to the 
success of the pretended Reformation. He was a mild, peace 
able man, who liked his ease more than any thing else in the 
world, and who sought to please both sides, but succeeded in 
pleasing neither. He had joined in the outcry against the 
Catholic priesthood and monks, and had thereby no doubt 

* History of Germany, ii, 280-1. 

f Epist. Tractibus Germanise inferioris. 

J. Idem. Epist. Anno 1526. 


greatly aided in Lightening the excitement against the 
Catholic Church. The proverb was current in Germany : that 
"Erasmus had laid the egg, and Luther had hatched it."* 
This saying perhaps expressed too much ; but yet, like most 
popular adages, it had some foundation in truth. The famous 
humanist Reuchlin seems to have been another of those waver 
ing and uncertain characters, who can be moulded to almost 
any form according to circumstances. 

For three whole centuries, the Reformation has had full 
sway and perfect freedom of action throughout half of Ger 
many and all of Northern Europe. "What have been the 
practical results of its influence ? "What is the present moral 
condition of those Protestant countries where that influence 
has been least checked, and most extended and permanent? 
"We will close this chapter, by presenting a few startling facts 
on this subject, from the works of two recent Protestant travel 
ers, Bremner and Laing. Their authority in the matter will 
scarcely be questioned by Protestants. Themselves bitterly 
prejudiced against the Catholic Church, and enamored with 
the Reformation, they merely state what they saw and ascer 
tained during a long residence in the countries which they 
respectively describe. 

Of the people of Protestant Norway, Mr. Bremner says : 
" The Norwegians can not, with justice, be described as more 
than indifferently moral, for we always found amongst them 
a greater desire to take advantage of a stranger than in any 
other part of Europe."! In regard to chastity, he tells us 
that the statistical returns show that out of every five chil 
dren which are born, one is illegitimate the same proportion 
precisely, in this widely scattered and rural population, as in 
" the densely crowded and corrupted atmosphere of Paris/ 

* " Erasmus hat das Ey gelegt, und Luther es ausgebriitet." An old 
Lutheran painting represented the reformers bearing the ark, and Erasmus 
dancing before it with all his might ! 

f " Excursions in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden," etc. By Robert 
Bremner. 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1840. 


Mr. Laing confirms the statement, and tells us of one country 
parish in particular where, " without a town, or manufactur 
ing establishment, or resort of shipping, or quartering of 
troops, or other obvious cause," the proportion of illegitimate 
to legitimate children, in the five years from 1826 to 1830, 
was one in three.* 

Both these Protestant travelers tell us, moreover, that in 
Norway the Sunday is the usual day for dances, for theatrical 
and other public amusements ; and Mr. Laing accounts for 
this singular fact by the universally received interpretation, 
in the pure Lutheran Church, of the Scriptural words, "and 
the evening and the morning made the first day." Those 
"pure Lutherans," going further than even the Jews of the 
straightest sect, keep the Sabbath from midday on Saturday 
to the noon of Sunday ! The Lutheran clergy, they likewise 
inform us, pay little attention to the instruction of the people. 
In proof of this gross negligence, they allege the fact, that in 
all Norway there are only three hundred and thirty-six par 
ishes with resident clergymen, who seldom visit their scattered 
people. They also justly complain, that convicts are there 
treated more unmercifully than any where else. 

The picture they draw of the present moral condition of 
Sweden and Denmark is even still less flattering. Mr. 
Bremner tells us, that in the female house of correction at 
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, he found thirty-eight prison 
ers condemned for life, " nearly all of whom had been con 
victed of the too frequent crime of child murder !" Mr. Laing 
enters at great length into the subject of Swedish morality. 
He states, and he proves from regularly avouched statistical 
returns, that Sweden is the most corrupt and demoralized 

* The works of Mr. Laing from which we borrow this and the following 
facts, are : " Journal of a Residence in Norway during the years 1834, 1835, 
1836, made with a view to inquire into the moral and political economy of 
the country, and the state of the inhabitants," London, 1836 ; " A Tour in 
Sweden in 1838," London, 1839 ; and " Notes of a Traveler," London, 1842. 
These works are all ably noticed in the Dublin Review for May, 1843. 


country in Europe, and that Stockholm is the most debased 
city in the world. Here is his testimony, which has been 
often quoted : 

" It is a singular and embarrassing fact, that the Swedish nation, isolated 
from the mass of European people, and almost entirely agricultural or pas 
toral, having, in about three millions of individuals, only fourteen thousand 
nine hundred and twenty-five employed in manufactories, and these not 
congregated in one or two places, but scattered among two thousand and 
thirty-seven factories, having no great standing army or navy, no external 
commerce, no afflux of strangers, no considerable city but one, and having 
schools and universities in a fair proportion, and a powerful and complete 
church establishment, undisturbed in its labors by sect or schism, is, not 
withstanding, in a more demoralized state than any nation in Europe, more 
demoralized even than any equal portion of the dense manufacturing popu 
lation of Great Britain. This is a very curious fact in moral statistics." 

He proceeds to establish this singular fact by unquestion 
able, because official statistical evidence. From this it appears 
that, in 1837, twenty-six thousand two hundred and seventy- 
five persons were prosecuted in Sweden for criminal offenses, 
of whom twenty-one thousand two hundred and sixty-two 
were convicted, being one to every one hundred and fourteen 
of the entire population accused, and one to every one hun 
dred and forty convicted of crimes of a heinous character. 
In 1836, the number so convicted was one out of one hundred 
and thirty-four of the whole population. Among the crimes 
in the rural population, there were twenty-eight cases of mur 
der, ten of child murder, four of poisoning, thirteen of besti 
ality, and nine of violent robbery: and the proportion was 
four-fold greater for the town and city population. England 
is bad enough ; one would even have thought that England 
could scarcely be surpassed in crime of every description ; yet 
in England the proportion of the convicted to the entire popu 
lation is only as one to one thousand and five. The amount 
of crime in Sweden is thus seven-fold greater than it is in 
England ! Is it because there the Reformation was more un 
checked in its operations, and had therefore a freer field ? 

According to Mr. Lalng, the proportion of illegitimate to 


legitimate children, for all Sweden, is as one to fourteen ; and 
for the capital, Stockholm, it is as one to two and three- 
tenths ! In the same city one, out of every forty-nine of the 
inhabitants, is annually convicted of some criminal offense ! 

When these statements of Mr. Laing appeared, the Swedish 
government attempted to refute them, by a pamphlet pub 
lished in London. This drew from him a Reply, in which he 
triumphantly established all the statements he had previously 
made, and exhibited, in the avouched statistics of the year 
1838, others still more appalling : 

" The divorces of this year were one hundred and forty-seven ; the sui 
cides one hundred and seventy-two. Of the two thousand seven hundred 
and fourteen children born in Stockholm that year, one thousand five hun 
dred and seventy -seven were legitimate, one thousand one hundred and thirty- 
seven illegitimate, making only a balance of four hundred and forty chaste 
mothers out of two thousand seven hundred and fourteen, and the propor 
tion of illegitimate to legitimate children, not as one to two and three -tenths, 
as he had previously stated, but as one to one and a half ! !" 

Prussia is another country of Europe in which the Refor 
mation has had almost unchecked sw^ay for three centuries. 
Mr. Laing discourses of its moral condition as follows the 
" index virtue" of which he speaks is female chastity : 

" Will any traveler, will any Prussian say that this index virtue of the 
moral condition of a people is not lower in Prussia than in almost any part 
of Europe ? It is no uncommon event in the family of a respectable trades 
man of Berlin to find upon his breakfast table a little baby, of which, who 
ever may be the father, he has no doubt at all about the maternal grand 
father. Such accidents are so common in the class in which they are least 
common with us the middle class, removed from ignorance or indigence 
that they are regarded bat as accidents, as youthful indiscretions, not as dis 
graces affecting, as with us, the respectability and happiness of all the kith 
and kin for a generation." 

In a note, he gives the following statistical facts on this 

subject : 

" In 1837, the number of the females in the Prussian population between 
the beginning of their sixteenth and the end of thsir forty-fifth year that 
is, within child-bearing age was two millions nine hundred and eighty- 
three thousand one hundred and forty-six ; the number of illegitimate chil- 


dren born in the same year was thirty-nine thousand five hundred and one ; 
so that one in every seventy-five of the whole of the females of an age to 
bear children had been the mother of an illegitimate child." He adds: 
" Prince Puckler Muskau (a Prussian) states in one of his late publications 
(Sudostlicher Bildersaal, 3 Thel. 1841) that the character of the Prussians 
for honesty stands lower than that of any other of the German populations."* 




General influence of the Reformation on worship Audin s picture of it 
Luther rebukes violence But wavers Giving life to a skeleton Taking 
a leap Mutilating the sacraments New system of Judaism Chasing 
away the mists Protestant inconsistencies A dreary waste No altars 
nor sacrifice A land of mourning Protestant plaints And tribute to 
Catholic worship A touching anecdote Continual prayer Vandalism 
rebuked Grandeur of Catholic worship Churches always open Prot 
estant worship The Sabbath day Getting up a revival Protestant music 
and prayer The pew system The fashionable religion The two forms 
of worship compared St. Peter s church The fine arts. 

IN nothing perhaps was the influence of the Reformation 
more pernicious, than in the changes which it caused to be 
introduced into public worship. It stripped the ancient Cath 
olic service of its beauty and simple grandeur : it dried up the 
deep fountains of its melody hushed its organs, muffled its 
Angelus bells, and put out its lights. It rudely tore away the 
ornaments of its priesthood, stripped its altars, and chased 
away the clouds of its ascending incense. It did even more. 
It destroyed the beautiful paintings and sculptures, with 
which art, paying tribute to religion, had decorated the walls 

* That the rural population of England is not much, if at all better, in a 
moral point of view, than that of Sweden and Prussia, clearly appears from 
the late work of Joseph Kay, which was noticed in a late number of Brown- 
son s Review. 


of the churches ; and when it did not ruthlessly destroy, it 
entirely removed those sacred emblems of piety. Tearing 
them in shreds or breaking them in pieces, it gave them, in 
almost numberless instances, to the flames, and then scattered 
their ashes to the winds. And, as if these feats of Vandalism 
were not enough to prove its burning zeal for religion, it 
aimed a mortal blow at the very substance of worship: it 
abolished the daily sacrifice, removed the altars, and annihil 
ated the priesthood. And then, exhausted with its labors, 
Protestantism lay down, and fell asleep amidst the ruins it 
had caused !* 

Audin gives the following graphic description of the effects 
of early Reformation zeal on public worship: 

" Throughout the whole of Saxony, no more canticles were heard ; no 
more incense, no more lights on the altars, no more organs combining their 
melody with the infant s hymn, or sacerdotal anthem. The church walls 
were bare ; the light had no longer to steal through the painted windows, 
for they had all been broken, under the pretext that they favored idolatry. 
The Protestant temple resembled every thing but the house of God. The 
magnificence and poetry of Catholic worship, the loss of which modern 
Protestants deplore, everywhere disappeared."! 

Luther at first disapproved of the intemperate zeal of Karl- 
stadt and of other hot-headed disciples, who, during his ab 
sence from Wittenberg, had abolished the Mass, and removed 
by violence the paintings and statues from the church of All 
Saints. Yet his disapproval did not, it would seem, proceed 
so much from a horror of the act itself, as of the violence 
which had attended it ; and more particularly from the circum 
stance, that this innovation had taken place without his hav 
ing been previously consulted ! In his harangue against 
those new Iconoclasts, he said : 

" You ought to know that you are to listen to no one but to me. With 
the help of God, Doctor Martin Luther has advanced first in the new way ; 

* "Le Protestantisme fatigue s est endormi sur des mines ! Exhausted 
Protestantism fell asleep amidst ruins." Abbe De Lamennais. 
f Life of Luther, p. 331. 


the others followed after him ; they ought to exhibit the docility of disci 
ples, as their duty is to obey. It is to me that God has revealed His word ; 

it is out of my mouth that it has proceeded free from all stain Was I 

at such a distance that I could not be consulted ? Am I no longer the 
source of pure doctrine ? .... It is neither commanded nor prohibited to 
keep images. I wish that superstition had not introduced them amongst 
us ; but however they ought not to be removed by tumult."* 

But Lutlier, however lie might deplore, could not curb the 
destructive spirit of his disciples. He could not prevent them 
from wielding the weapons which himself had placed in their 
hands. He could not control the storm which he himself had 
put in motion. The work of destruction went on, till scarce 
a vestige of the venerable and time-honored Catholic worship 
remained behind. He himself was uncertain and wavering, 
as to the portion of Catholic worship he should retain. The 
people of Wittenberg murmured, when the chapter of the 
church of All Saints in that city abolished the Mass during 
his absence from the city. "Luther restored it: not however 
as a sacrifice, but as a mere popular symbol. He took from 
it the offertory and the canon, and all the forms of sacrifice ; 
while he retained the elevation of the bread and wine by the 
priest, the sacredotal salutation to the assistants, the mixture 
of water and wine, and the use of the Latin language. ^ 

To enliven somewhat this mutilated skeleton of the old ser 
vice, he retained many of the Catholic proses and hymns, 
uniting with them some compositions of the old German poets. 

" He himself composed some to replace our hymns aud proses, which are 
precious monuments of the poetry of the early ages of Catholicism. Those 
sweet and simple melodies which were by turns joyous and austere, gay and 
melancholy, according to the occasion, were now replaced, in the Protestant 
Churches by a monotonous drawl. The reformed church thus lost the 
poems, inspirations, and symbols of the Catholic muse."| 

The liturgy was not the only subject on which the reformer 

* Apud Audin, ibid. pp. 237, 238. f Audin, ibid. p. 333. 

| Ibid. For some beautiful and charming reflections on this subject, see 
an article " on Prayer and Prayer-books," in a late number of the Dublin 


hesitated. His whole career, in fact, is marked with hesitancy 
and doubt, as to what he should reject, and what he should 
retain, of the old Catholic institutions. He often found* him 
self in trying and difficult positions. His impatient disciples 
sought to drag him down the declivity of reform much faster 
than the sturdy monk wished to travel. Sometimes he list 
ened to their clamors ; sometimes he sternly rebuked them 
for their over ardent zeal. Hence his perpetual inconsisten 
cies. On the subject of auricular confession, he contradicted 
himself more than once : at times he recognized its divine 
origin, and proclaimed its great utility to society : again he 
would call it the invention of Satan, and " the executioner of 
consciences."* He betrayed similar doubts and inconsisten 
cies as to the number of the sacraments instituted by Christ. 
He stood on the brink of a precipice, and yielded at times to 
dizziness, ere he took the fatal leap from the summit-level of 
Catholicity, into the yawning abyss, the boiling and hissing 
noise of whose troubled waters already grated harshly on his 
ears ! 

But his disciples were not so scrupulous. They boldly 
rejected five out of the seven sacraments, and even stripped 
the two they retained Baptism and the Lord s Supper of 
every life-giving principle. They did not any longer view 
them as the channels of grace, through which the waters of 
life eternal flow into the soul of the Christian. This principle 
they rejected with horror as a Popish superstition. They de 
nied that the sacraments had, from the design and institution 
of Christ, any intrinsic efficacy whatever : they were the mere 
external symbols of a grace, which they were not the instru 
ments of imparting. They were mere signs and figures, life 
less in themselves, and useful and available, only through and 
in proportion to the faith and other acts, of the recipient. In 
fact they were brought down, in every respect, to a level with 

* Conscientiarum Carnificina See his Treatise, De ratione confitendi. 
Tom. vi, edit. Altenb. Tom. i, opp. edit. Jena. 


the ancient Jewish types and figures; and like them, they 
were mere "weak and needy elements."* Thus the Reforma 
tion brought back Christianity into the shadowy region of 
carnal Judaism, under the pretext of restoring the Church to 
its primitive purity ! 

They were even inferior to these, in point of appropriate 
ness and significancy, as mere figures. Was not the Jewish 
eating of the paschal lamb "of one year old and without 
stain," a much more lively and appropriate type of the death 
of Christ " the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of 
the world" than the symbols of mere bread and wine? 
"What aptitude is there, in fact, in bread to be a figure of 
flesh, or even in wine, which is often almost colorless, to be a 
figure of blood ? Had Christ intended a mere figure, would 
he not have selected more appropriate emblems? Did he 
mean to bring back the Christian religion, which he watered 
with his own blood, to the mere standard of Judaism did 
he mean to lower it even beneath this standard ? Did he 
institute a religion, the distinguishing ordinances of which 
should contain nothing more substantial than the Jewish 
tropes and figures? Was it to be still enveloped in that 
dense mist, which had overhung the ark of the covenant, and 
the institutions of the Jewish religion ? Or did he not rise 
on the world, as " the Sun of Justice," to chase away those 
mists, which had darkened the twilight of the Jewish types, 
and to usher in the clear, cloudless day of living and breath 
ing realities ? 

Luther retained, indeed, a belief in the real presence, 
blended, however, with the palpable absurdity of consub- 
stantiation ; by which he maintained the simultaneous pres 
ence of the substances of the bread and wine with the body 
of Christ. But even many among the disciples of the re 
former have long since rejected this monstrous system. After 
six different modifications of their creed on the subject, to 

* Oralatians, iv : 9. 


suit the tastes or to meet the objections of the Sacramenta- 
rians, they seem at length to have substantially coalesced with 
their former opponents ; and the doctrine of the real presence 
has thus grown almost, if not entirely, obsolete among Prot 
estants.* Thus, throughout almost the whole land of Prot 
estantism, this beautiful doctrine, which gives a sublime 
character to the Catholic worship, and is a key to all its mag 
nificent ceremonial, has been utterly banished. The Protest 
ant church and worship are no longer ennobled and vivified 
by this life-giving presence of the Word made flesh. Christ 
is banished from his own holy temple : he is no longer in the 
midst " of the children of men," where He before delighted to 
dwell. And the domain of Protestantism presents, in its 
bleak and dreary waste, a sad proof of His absence ! It is a 
land "of closed churches and hushed bells, of unlighted 
altars and unstoled priests !"f 

No its condition is still more deplorable. It has not even 
" unlighted altars ;" it has no altars at all ! Its altars fell 
under the same Yandalic stroke which annihilated its sacri 
fice : " Sacrifice and oblation is cut off from the house of the 
Lord ; the priests, the Lord s ministers, have mourned ; the 
country is destroyed ; the land hath mourned."J This land 
of mourning, from which even " the priests, the Lord s minis 
ters," have been banished, has been reposing for "many 
days" "without sacrifice, and without altar, and without 
ephod, and without theraphim." 

Where is there to be found, in the land of Protestantism, 
that clean oblation foretold by God s holy prophet : " For from 
the rising of the sun, even to the going down, my name is great 
among the gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and 

* For a full and well written statement of these variations of Lutheran- 
ism on the subject of the Eucharist, and for an account of the singular 
manner of the coalition indicated in the text, see Moore s " Travels of an 
Irish Gentleman," etc., p. 202 and p. 103. 

f W. Faber, " Sights and Thoughts in Foreign Churches." 

t Joel, i: 9, 10. $ Osea, iii: 4. 


there is offered to my name a a dean oblation; for my name 
is great among the gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts?"* 
Where that altar, which St. Paul assures us the early Chris 
tians had : " We have AN ALTAR whereof they have no power 
to eat who serve the tabernacle ? "f Until Protestantism 
appeared, with its blighting influence on worship, who ever" 
heard of a religion, Christian or even pagan, the very essence 
of which did not consist in an external sacrifice? In this 
respect the Reformation has protested against the unanimous 
voice of mankind. And we have already seen from what 
particular personage Luther first learned the reasons for this 
protest, and how eagerly he seized and acted on them.J 

With the sacrifice, the priesthood, and the altar, fell also 
the splendid worship with which they were connected. Prot 
estants, even those of Germany, lately began to appreciate 
and to deplore this desecration of God s holy sanctuary, and 
this desolation of His once fruitful vineyard ; and their voice 
of wailing was re-echoed by the Puseyites in England. We 
will give a few instances of this splendid tribute paid, by late 
Protestant writers in Germany, to the substance and forms of 
the splendid old Catholic worship. 

Isidore, Count Yon Loeben, exclaims : 

"Admirable ceremonial, replete with harmony ! It is the diamond which 
glitters on the crown of faith ! Whoever has a poetic spirit must feel a 
tendency to Catholicism !" Elsewhere he says: "The Catholic Church, 
with its ever open door, with its undying lamps, its joyful or mournful 
strains, its hosannas or its lamentations, its hymns, its Masses, its festivals 
and reminiscences, resembles a mother, who ever holds forth her arms to 
receive the prodigal child. It is a fountain of sweet water, around which 
are assembled multitudes, to imbibe vigor, health, and life."|| 

Another German Protestant breaks forth into this exclam 
ation : 

" How beautiful is its music ! How it addresses both mind and sense ! 
Those melodious notes and voices, those canticles which breathe so pure a 

* Malachy, i : 2 f Heb., xiii : 10. \ Supra, Chapter i. 

5 In his Lotosblatter, 1817. II Ibid., p. 1. 


spirituality, those clouds of incense, those chimes which a disdainful philoso 
phy condescends to despise : all these please God. Architects and sculptors ! 
you have acted wisely, and ennobled your art, by raising churches to the 

Another, E. Spindler, thus praises a beautiful custom pe 
culiar to Catholicity : 

" It is not only an ancient, but a beautiful custom, to encircle the graves 
of the dead on the first and second of November. The peasants of the vil 
lages hasten to the cemeteries : they kneel by a wooden cross, or other such 
funeral ornaments. They think on the past, on the shortness of human 
life. Then the departed are crowned with flowers, to signify the life that 
will never end. The lamp burns to remind us of the light which shall 
never be obscured !"f 

Another relates the following touching anecdote: 
" I saw also a Franciscan kneeling before a fresco painting of Christ on 
the walls of the cloister, which was admirable for its truth and beauty of 
expression. On hearing me approach, he rose up. Father, that is really 
beautiful. Yes ; but the original is still more so, said the monk, smiling. 
Then why make use of a material image in prayer ? I see, said he, 
1 that you are a Protestant ; but do you not see that the artist modulates 
and ennobles the fantasies of my own imagination ? Have you not always 
experienced that this faculty calls up a thousand different forms ? Permit 
me to prefer, when there is question of images, the work of a great master 
to the creation of my own fancy. I was silent," concludes the writer.^ 

In one of his works, Clausen, another Protestant, pays the 
following willing tribute to the encouragement of continual 
prayer by the Catholic Church : 

" When a poor pilgrim, wearied with fatigue, but light of heart, kneels on 
the altar steps to thank Him who has watched over him during a long and 
perilous journey ; when a distracted mother comes into the temple to pray 
for the recovery of her son, whom the physicians have given over ; when in 
the evening, just as the last rays of the sun steal through the stained glass 
on the figure of a young female engaged in prayer, when the flickering 
lights of the tapers die away on the pale lips of the clergy, as they chaunt 
the praises of the Eternal ; tell me, does not Catholicism teach us that life 

* Leibnitz, Syst. Theol., p. 205. f Zeitspiegel, 1791. 

| Ch. Fr. D. Schubart Leben und Gesinnungen Stuttgart. 1791. 
} P. 790. Apud Audin, p. 331. 
VOL. i. 24 


should be one long prayer, that art and science ought to combine to glorify 
God, and that the Church, where so many canticles are simultaneously 
hymned forth, where devotion puts on all conceivable forms, has a right to 
our love and respect ?" 

Finally, another thus openly censures the intemperate Van 
dalism of the reformers in destroying the most beautiful por 
tions of Catholic worship : 

" How blind were our reformers ! While destroying the greater part of 
the allegories of the Catholic Church, they believed that they were making 
war on superstition ! It was the abuse they ought to have proscribed."* 
The famous jSTovalis in fact says, that " Luther was not acquainted with the 
spirit of Christianity." f Thus have the children borne testimony against 
their fathers in the faith ! \ 

It is related of Frederick II., king of Prussia, that after 
having assisted at a solemn high Mass celebrated in the 
church of Breslau by Cardinal Zinzendorf, he remarked: 
" The Calvinists treat God as an inferior, the Lutherans, as 
an equal ; but the Catholics treat him as God." And though 
this is perhaps too strong an expression of opinion as to the 
difference existing between the Catholic and the Protestant 
forms of worship; yet this difference is very great and very 
striking, even to the most superficial or prejudiced observer. 
"Who has not been impressed with the grandeur, the solemni 
ty, and the noble dignity of the Catholic ceremonial ? Who 
has not felt a sentiment of reverence and of awe come over 
him, when, at the most solemn part of this service, the peal 
of the organ ceases, the voice of music is hushed, and, while 
clouds of incense are ascending, the priests, the ministers, 
and the people all fall prostrate in silent prayer before the 
altar, on which the Lamb is present "as it were slain ?" Who 
has not felt a thrill of rapturous emotion, when, after this 
solemn moment has passed, the music again breaks forth, 

* Fessler Theresia 2, p. 101. 
f " Luther verkannte den geist des Christenthums." 
J For more testimonies of Protestants on this subject, see Jul. Honing- 
haus " Das Resultat meiner wanderungen " Aschaffenburg, 183$. 


mingling joyous with solemn notes, and pouring forth a stream 
of delicious melody on the soul ! Who has not been struck 
with the pathetic simplicity, the unction, and noble grandeur 
of the Gregorian chant, especially in the Preface and the 
Pater Noster ! And who has not marked the reverent awe 
with which Catholics are wont to assist at the service, as well 
as the general respect they pay to the church of God ! 

In Catholic countries, the church is ever open, inviting the 
faithful to enter at all hours, and to pour forth their joys or 
their sorrows before the altar. And in Rome particularly, 
enter any one of its three hundred and fifty churches at what 
hour you may, you will always find some persons kneeling, 
engaged in secret prayer. The Catholic worship is not con 
fined to Sundays : it is the business of every day, and there 
is accordingly a special service for every day in the year. 
The constant round of festivals presents to the minds of the 
people, with dramatic effect, the most interesting portions of 
sacred history, as well as the most stiking incidents in the 
lives of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints : and the neces 
sary result is, to keep these things constantly fresh in the 
memory. Finally, the Catholic is bound by the law of his 
Church to assist at divine service, and to hear Mass every 
Sunday and festival of the year, and thus he comes con 
stantly under all the strong beneficial influences of his reli 
gion. And if, notwithstanding all these advantages, he is 
still sometimes recreant to the voice of conscience and of duty, 
it is surely from no lack of provision for his spiritual culture 
on the part of the Church. She shows herself, in every res 
pect, the tender and solicitous mother. Do the multiplied 
forms of worship introduced by the Reformation possess these 
advantages ; or do they combine these happy influences ? To 
begin with the one last named : is it not a saddening reflec 
tion, that in Protestant countries, no obligation is felt to at 
tend divine service, even on Sundays ? Take London for an 
example of this. According to Colquhoun s statistical views 
of that Protestant metropolis, out of nearly fifteen hundred 


thousand inhabitants, about one-third, or five hundred thous 
and never attend church ; and another third attend it only 
occasionally ! Of the remaining third, who attend regularly, 
probably more than half are Roman Catholics. 

True, in our own country the case is somewhat different : 
but it is only because here Protestantism has not yet pro 
duced, at least to the same extent, the evil fruits of religious 
indifference and of infidelity, which it has never failed to 
yield in countries where it has been long established. But 
even here it is daily producing them more and more ; and 
under its influence, each succeeding generation must necessa 
rily deteriorate. Look at Boston and New York, where infi 
delity has already boldly raised its standard. It is only by 
almost limiting religious service to the Sunday miscalled the 
Sabbath and by continued efforts through the press and the 
pulpit to keep up an exaggerated and nearly Jewish feeling 
of reverence for this day among the people, that any thing 
like regular attendance on Sunday service is obtained. 

In fact, according to the gloomy ideas now generally at 
tached by American Protestants of the stricter sects to the 
"Sabbath" day, the people after having labored constantly 
through the six days of the week, have no other place of so 
cial gathering but at the meeting-house ; and they have no 
alternative but to repair thither, or to sit down moodily or 
inertly at home. And we have no doubt, that it is to this 
cause, and to the cutting off of all sources of popular amuse 
ment, as much at least as to zeal for religious worship, that 
we are to attribute the frequenting of the Protestant places of 
public service in the United States. 

But is the usual Protestant service in itself either inviting 
or impressive? Has it any thing in it to stir up the deep 
fountains of feeling ; to call forth the music and poetry of the 
soul; to convey salutary instruction, or to awaken lively in 
terest? "We would not speak lightly or irreverently on a 
subject so grave : but with due deference to the feelings of 
our dissentient brethren, we must express the conviction, that 


their service is sadly deficient in solemnity, as well as in 
feeling ; and that it possesses not one trait of either grandeur 
or sublimity. It has certainly not one element of poetry or 
of pathos. Generally cold and lifeless, it becomes warm only 
by a violent effort, and then it runs into the opposite extreme 
of intemperate excitement. 

Can its music, with its loud, multiplied, and discordant 
sounds, compare for a moment with the grave and solemn 
melody of the Catholic worship ? Can its long extemporaneous 
prayers, often pronounced by a minister dressed in his every 
day attire, and occasionally, it may be, interrupted by the 
sharp amens and discordant groans of his hearers, compare, 
for solemnity and effect, with that which is poured forth by 
the priest at the altar, robed in the venerable uniform of 
eighteen hundred years standing, and which is accompanied 
by those of the people uttered in the hushed stillness of 
secret devotion ? For our parts, we greatly prefer calm com 
posure and sanctuary quietude in the church, to noisy prayer 
and almost boisterous excitement. The Lord does not usually 
communicate himself to His adorers in the whirlwind, or in 
the earthquake, or in the raging fire ; but in the breathing 
of the gentle breeze.* 

Again, in Catholic countries there is no pew system. The 
rich and the poor, the prince and the beggar, the refined 
princess and the lowly peasant girl, kneel side by side on the 
same pavement, and at the foot of the same altar. There is 
no distinction there in the house of God. Is it so in Protestant 
countries? Has not the pew system, with all its invidious 
distinctions of rank, with its luxurious and splendidly cush 
ioned seats, more suited for lolling than for prayers, obtained 
universally wherever Protestantism has been established? 
And has not the natural and necessary effect been, to intro 
duce worldly notions even into the house of God; and to 

* See III. Book of Kings, chap, xix, v. 11, 12. In Prot. version, I. Book 


make church-going a matter of fashion and respectability ? Do 
not many people even inquire, before they embrace a religion, 
which is the most respectable and fashionable church? 

True, in countries where Protestants are most numerous, 
and where it would be difficult to support the Church other 
wise, Catholics likewise have often borrowed the invidious 
system from their neighbors: but candor will allow, that 
among them it is not pushed to the same extreme as among 
Protestants. It is, moreover, strongly counteracted in its evil 
tendencies by the spirit of their Church. 

The Catholic ceremonial was designed and planned on a 
grand and magnificent scale. Hence it is exhibited to the 
best advantage in the largest churches, and has the most 
impressive and sublime effect in such temples as St. Mary 
Major s and St. Peter s at Rome. The Protestant service, 
on the contrary, is as contracted in its nature, as it is meagre 
in its details, and cold and unimpressive in its general effect. 
It is wholly out of place in a very extensive church. In St. 
Paul s church, in London, it is confined to one segment of the 
centre aisle: the other portions of the church seem utterly 
useless. So it is in the splendid old cathedrals of England, 
Ireland, and Scotland, built by our Catholic forefathers on 
the grand scale of the Catholic worship, but now occupied 
as Protestant meeting-houses. In the Protestant service, 
almost every thing is for the ear, and almost nothing for the 
eye : in the Catholic, all the senses are addressed, and all are 

In nothing does the immense distinction between the Cath 
olic and the Protestant forms of worship appear more strik 
ingly, than in the marked difference in the structure, beauty, 
and ornaments of the churches in which they are respectively 
performed. "Where, for instance, in the whole land of Prot 
estantism, will you find one church to compare in beauty and 
sublimity with St. Peter s at Rome ? It is an architectural 
monument as old as Protestantism, and, as a merely material 
structure, much more stable and permanent than Protestant- 


ism ! It has seen hundreds of sects arise, create excitement 
for a day, and then die away ; while itself has continued in 
unfading beauty the sublime emblem of unchanging and 
undying Catholicity ! Not one of its stones has started from 
its place : not one of its pillars has been shaken ; not one of 
its arches has been broken ! It stands bravely erect, in all 
the vigor and freshness of youth, a suitable type of the ever- 
blooming and virgin spouse of Christ, " without spot, without 
wrinkle, without blemish."* Enter its portals, and your soul 
expands with the noble building ; and you involuntarily ex 
claim: "Truly, this is the house of God and the gate of 
heaven !" The fine arts have here been lavish of their trib 
ute to religion and to God : and they speak silently, but elo 
quently, of Christ, of His Mother, of His apostles, and of His 
saints. Why have these lovely arts been banished from the 
Protestant churches ? 

" when will the ages of faith e er return, 

To gladden the nations again ? 
when shall the flame of sweet charity burn, 
To warm the cold bosoms of men ? 

" When the angel of vengeance hath sheathed his sword, 

And his vials have drenched the land : 
When the pride of the sophist hath bent to the Lord, 
And trembled beneath His strong hand." 

* Ephesians, chap. v. 




" By various texts we both uphold our claim, 
Nay, often ground our titles on the same ; 
After long labors lost and time s expense, 
Both grant the words, and quarrel for the sense. 
Thus all disputes forever must depend, 
For no dumb rule can controversies end." DBYDEN. 

" Mark you this, Bassanio : 

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose 

In religion what damning error 

But some sober brow can bless it, 

And approve it with a text." SHAKSPEARE. 

Protestant boastingsTheory of D Aubigne Luther finds a BibleHow 
absurd! The "chained Bible" Maitland s triumphant refutation Seck- 
endorf versus D Aubigne Menzel s testimony The Catholic Church 
and the Bible The Latin language Vernacular versions before Luther s 
In Germany In Italy In France In Spain In England In Flan 
ders In Sclavonia In Sweden In Iceland Syriac and Armenian ver 
sions Summary and inference Polyglots Luther s false assertion 
Reading the Bible Fourth rule of the index A religious vertigo rem 
edied More harm than good Present discipline A common slander 
Protestant versions Mutual compliments Version of King James 
The Douay and Vulgate Bibles Private interpretation German ration 
alism Its blasphemies Kationalism in Geneva. 

OUK inquiry into the influence of the Reformation on re 
ligion would be incomplete, without some examination into 
the extent of this influence on the Bible, and on the general 
diffusion and character of Biblical learning. It is one of the 
proudest boasts of the Reformation, that it rescued the Bible 
from the obscurity to which the Roman Catholic Church had 
consigned it ; that it first translated the Bible into the ver 
nacular tongues ; and thereby opened its hitherto concealed 
treasures of heavenly wisdom to the body of the people. 
These pretensions have been so often and so confidently re- 


peated, that they have passed current for the truth, even with 
many sincere and otherwise well-informed persons ; whose 
conviction on this subject is so strong, that it seems difficult 
to remove it even by most overwhelming evidence to the 

According to our historian of the Reformation, Luther 
owed his first conversion to Christianity to an accidental dis 
covery of the Bible in the library of the university at Erfurth. 
Here is his curious statement on the subject ; it will be borne 
in mind that Luther was then twenty years of age, and had 
been a student at the university of Erfurth for about two 
years : 

" One day he was opening the books in the library one after another, in 
order to read the names of the authors. One which he opened in its turn 
drew his attention : lie had not seen any thing like it till that hour ; he reads 
the title, it is a Bible, a rare book, unknown at that time ! His interest is 
strongly excited ; he is filled with astonishment at finding more in this vol 
ume than those fragments of the gospels and epistles, which the Church has 
selected to be read to the people in their places of worship every Sunday in 
the year. Till then he had thought that they were the whole word of God. 
And here are so many pages, so many chapters, so many books, of which 
he had no idea ! His heart beats as he holds in his hand all the Scripture 
divinely inspired. With eagerness and indescribable feelings he turns over 
those leaves of the word of God. The first page that arrests his attention, 
relates the history of Hannah and the young Samuel."* 

He then relates how the young Luther piously resolved to 
imitate the devotedness of the young Samuel ; and he con 
tinues : 

" The Bible that had filled him with such transport was in Latin. He 
soon returned to the library to find his treasure again. He read and re 
read, and then in his surprise and joy went back to read again. The first 
gleams of a new truth then arose in his mind. Thus has God caused him 
to find his holy word ! He has now discovered the book of which he is one 
day to give to his countrymen that admirable translation, in which the Ger 
mans for three centuries have read the oracles of God. For the first time, 
perhaps, this precious volume has been removed from the place that it occu 
pied in the library of Erfurth. This book, deposited on the unknown 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 131, 
VOL. I. 25 


shelves of a dark room, is soon to become the book of life for a whole na 
tion. The Reformation lay hid in that Bible."* 

This was not, however, the only Bible he had the good 
fortune to find : for after he had entered the convent of the 
Augustinians at Erfurth, "he found another Bible fastened 
by a chain."f 

D Aubigne professes to borrow all this fine history from 
Mathesius, a disciple and an ardent and credulous admirer 
of Luther, and from Adam, another partial biographer of the 
reformer. The story is too absurd, and too clumsily con 
trived even for a well-digested romance. What ? Are we to 
believe that Luther, at the age of twenty, did not know that 
there was a Bible, until he chanced to discover one in the 
library at Erfurth ? And that until then he piously believed, 
that the whole Scriptures were comprised in that choice selec 
tion of gospels and epistles which were read on Sundays in 
the Church service ? He, too, a young man of great talent 
and promise, who had successively attended the schools of 
Mansfeld, Eisenach, and Magdeburg, and had already been 
two years at the university of Erfurth ! The thing is utterly 
incredible, and is stamped with palpable absurdity on its 
very face. Luther must have been singularly stupid indeed, 
had he remained thus ignorant. And then the idea intended 
to be conveyed by the chained Bible! Would the good 
monks have enchained it, unless it was in such demand with 
the people as to endanger its safety ? In that early period of 
the art of printing, books were much more scarce and more 
highly prized than at present; and perhaps then, as now, 
borrowed books were seldom returned to the owner. 

Dr. Maitland, a learned English Protestant writer, triumph 
antly refutes, and merrily laughs at the absurd and glaringly 
mendacious assertion of D Aubigne, that the Bible was " an 
unknown book" before the days of Luther. We give an ex 
tract from his refutation, which will be found both interesting 
and instructive, as well as amusing : 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 132. f Ibid., p. 141. 


" Is it not odd that Luther had not by some chance or other heard of the 
Psalms ? But there is no use in criticising such nonsense. Such it must 
appear to every moderately informed reader ; but he will not appreciate its 
absurdity until he is informed that, on the same page, this precious historian 
has informed his readers, that, in the course of the two preceding years, 
Luther had applied himself to learn the philosophy of the middle ages, in 
the writings of Occam, Scot (Scotus), Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas ; 
of course none of those poor creatures knew any thing about the Bible ! 

" The fact, however, to which I have so repeatedly alluded is simply 
this the writings of the Dark Ages are, if I may use the expression, made 
of the Scriptures. I do not merely mean that the writers constantly quoted 
the Scriptures, and appealed to them as authority on all occasions, as other 
writers have done since their day though they did this, and it is a strong 
proof of their familiarity with them but I mean that they thought and 
spoke and wrote the thoughts and words and phrases of the Bible, and that 
they did this constantly and habitually as the natural mode of expressing 
themselves. They did it, too, not exclusively in theological or ecclesiastical 
matters, but in histories, biographies, familiar letters, legal instruments, and 
documents of every description."* 

The English church historian, Milner, has strangely enough 
fallen into the same absurd error as D Aubigne. In the 
fourth volume of his work, p. 324, he thus relates the won 
derful discovery of a Bible by Luther: "In the second year 
after Luther had entered into the monastery, he accidentally 
met with a Latin Bible in the library. It proved to him a 
treasure. Then he first discovered that there were MORE 
Scripture passages extant than those which were read to 
the people: for the Scriptures were at that time very little 
known in the world." Whereupon Dr. Maitland comments 
as follows : 

" Really one hardly knows how to meet such statements ; but will the 
reader be so good as to remember that we are not now talking of the Dark 
Ages, but of a period when the press had been lialf a century in operation ; 
and will he give a moment s reflection to the following statement, which I 

* The Dark Ages ; a Series of Essays intended to illustrate the state of 
Religion and Literature in the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries. 
By Kev. S. R. Maitland, D. D., F. R. S. and F. S. A , sometime Librarian to 
the late Archbishop of Canterbury and Keeper of the MSS. at Lambeth. 
Third edition. London, 1853. 8vo. P. 468, seq. 


believe to be correct, and which can not, I think, be so far inaccurate as to 
affect the argument. To say nothing of parts of the Bible, or of books 
whose place is uncertain, we know of at least twenty different editions of the 
whole Latin Bible printed in Germany only before Luther was born. These 
had issued from Augsburg, Strasburg, Cologne, Ulm, Mentz (two), Basle 
(four), Nurenberg (ten) ; and were dispersed through Germany, I repeat, 
before Luther was born ; and - 1 may remark that before that event there 
was a printing press at work in this very town of Erfurth, where more than 
twenty years after he is said to have made his discovery. Some may ask 
what the Pope was about all this time ? Truly, one would think he must 
have been off his guard ; but as to these German performances, he might 
have found employment nearer home, if he had looked for it. Before Luther 
was born, the Bible was printed in Koine, and the printers had had the 
assurance to memorialize his Holiness, praying that he would help them off 
with some copies. It had been printed, too, at Naples, Florence, and 
Placenza; and Venice alone had furnished eleven editions. No doubt we 
should be within the truth, if we were to say that, besides the multitude of 
manuscript copies, not yet fallen into disuse, the press had issued fifty dif 
ferent editions of the whole Latin Bible ; to say nothing of Psalters, New Tes 
taments, or other parts. And yet, more than twenty years after, we find a 
young man who had received a very liberal education, who had made 
great proficiency in his studies at Magdeburg, Eisenach, and Erfurth, and 
who, nevertheless, did not know what a Bible was, simply because the 
Bible was unknown in those days ! "* 

D Aubigne in the course of his history repeatedly quotes 
Seckendorf, the biographer and great admirer of Luther. 
Did he never chance to read in the first book of this writer s 
"Commentaries on Lutheranism," a passage in which he 
states, that three distinct editions of the Bible, translated 
into German, were published at Wittenberg, in 1470, 1483, 
and 1490 : one of them thirteen years before the birth of 
Luther, another in the very year of his birth, and a third 
seven years thereafter?! And all these in the immediate 
vicinity of Luther s birth place ; not to mention another edi 
tion, which the same author assures -us,J was published not 
far distant, at Augsburg, in 1518, just one year after Luther 

* The Dark Ages, etc. Maitland. P. 469, note. 

f Commentarii in Luther. Lib. 1, sec. 51. \ cxxv, p. 204. Quoted by 
Audin, p. 216. \ Ibid. 


had turned reformer, and twelve years before he published 
the last portion of his own German version of the Bible! 
How could D Aubigne avoid seeing this passage in his own 
favorite historian : and if he saw it, what are we to think of 
his honesty in wholly concealing the fact, and even in stating 
what is plainly contradicted by it that " the Bible was then 
an unknown book," and that Luther never saw it till his 
twentieth year? Menzel, far more honest than D Aubigne, 
tells us expressly that " before the time of Luther the Bible 
had already been translated and printed in both High and 
Low Dutch."* 

The Bible then an unknown book ! "Who preserved this 
book during the previous fifteen hundred years? From 
whom did the reformers receive it ? Who kept it safe through 
all dangers ; in the midst of conflagrations, wars, and the 
destructive torrents of barbarian incursion ? Who copied it 
over and again, before the art of printing? The Roman 
Catholic Church did all this : and yet flippant or dishonest 
writers still accuse her of having concealed this book of life 
from the people ! But for her patient labor, vigilant watch 
fulness, and maternal solicitude, the Bible might have perished 
with thousands of other books : and still she was an enemy of 
this good book, and wished to keep it hidden under a bushel ! 
She had choice selections from it read to her people on every 
Sunday and festival of the year, even according to the enforced 
avowal of our unscrupulous and romantic historian of the Ref 
ormation ; still she wished to conceal this treasure from the 
people ! A curious way of concealing it, truly ! 

But, perhaps, she preserved it in the Latin tongue only, and 
was opposed to its general circulation in the living languages 
of Europe. She did no such thing, as we shall presently see ; 
though even had she done this, she would not have concealed 
the Bible from the people. The Latin language continued to 
be that which was most generally understood, and even 

* History of Germany, vol. ii, p. 223. 


spoken in Europe, until the reign of Charlemagne, in the 
beginning of the ninth century : and even for several centu 
ries afterwards, while the modern languages were struggling 
into form, it was more or less generally known, and was not, 
properly speaking, a dead language. At the beginning of the 
sixteenth century, and for a long time afterwards, it was the 
only language of literature, of theology, of medicine, and of 
legislation. Most of the modern languages of Europe were 
formed from it, and were so similar to it both in words and 
in general structure, that the common people of Italy, Spain, 
Portugal, and even France, could understand the mother 
tongue without great difficulty. In Hungary, it had been the 
common language of the people since the days of king 
Stephen, in the latter part of the tenth century. It was, 
moreover, taught and studied in every school and college of 
Christendom, and it was the medium through which most 
other branches were taught. It was, then, at the time of the 
Reformation, a language which was very commonly under 
stood in Europe. Therefore, even if the Catholic Church had 
given the Bible to the people only in the Latin Yulgate, she 
would not have concealed it : nor would it have remained 
" an unknown book." It is a notorious fact, that one of the 
first books published after the invention of the art of printing, 
was the Latin Bible.* 

The learned Protestant bibliographer, Dibdin, thus speaks 
of the earlier printed editions of the Latin Bible : 

" From the year 1462, to the end of the fifteenth century, the editions of 
the Latin Bible may be considered literally innumerable; and generally 
speaking only repetitions of the same text"f 

* Hallam proves, or believes that he proves, that it was the first book 
printed, probably in the year 1455. " History of Literature," sup. cit. 
vol. i, p. 96. 

f The Library Companion, or the young man s Guide and the old man s 
Comfort in the choice of a Library. By Kev. T. F. Dibdin, M. A., F. E. S., 
Member of the Academy of Rouen and Utrecht. Second edition, London, 
1825. Octavo, pages 899. P. 15. 


Among the more ancient and valuable editions of the Latin 
version, he enumerates the following : 

"As thus ; at Mentz, in 1455 ; at Bamberg, 1461 ; at Rome, 1471 ; Venice, 
1476 ; Naples, 1476 ; in Bohemia, 1488 ; in Poland, 1563 ; in Iceland, 1551 ; 
in Russia, 1581 ; in France, 1475 ; in Holland, 1477 ; in England, 1535 ; in 
Spain, 1477."* 

Eut it is a well ascertained fact, that long before the Refor 
mation of Luther, the people of almost every country in 
Europe had the Bible already translated into their own ver 
nacular tongues. In most nations, there was not only one, 
but there were even many different versions. 

We begin with Germany, the theater of the Reformation. 
We have already seen the testimony of Seckendorf and of 
Menzel on this subject. The Germans had no less than jive 
different translations of the Scriptures into their own lan 
guage; of which three were previous to that of Luther in 
1530 ;f and two were contemporary with, or immediately sub 
sequent to it. The oldest was that made by Ulphilas, Bishop 
of the Mseso-Goths (now Wallachians), as early as the middle 
of the fourth century.J This version seems to have been 
used for several centuries by many of the older Gothic and 
German Christians. The second version was that ascribed 
to Charlemagne (beginning of ninth century) probably be 
cause it was made by some learned man under his direction. 
It was in the old German, or Teutonic dialect. Besides, there 
was a very old rhythmical paraphrase of the four gospels, 
much used in Germany from the time of the first emperor 

The third German version was a translation from the Latin 

* The Library Companion, etc., Dibdin, sup. cit. P. 16, note. This work 
is found in the valuable collection of Very Rev. E. T. Collins, of Cincinnati, 
to whom we are indebted for several authorities alleged in these pages. 

f Luther s translation was completed in this year; it was commenced 
about eight years previously. See for all the facts and dates, Audin, 215-6, 
note. | See Home s Introduction, vol. ii, p. 240-5. 

\ This was as early as the middle of the ninth century. 


Vulgate by some person unknown, an edition of which was 
printed as early as the year 1466 : two copies of this edition 
are still preserved in the senatorial library at Leipsic. Be 
fore the appearance of the German Bible of Luther, the ver 
sion last named had been republished in Germany at least 
sixteen times : once at Strasburg, five times at Nurenberg, and 
ten times at Augsburg. These various editions often claimed 
to be new versions, in consequence of the improvements they 
professed to have introduced into the original version of 1466. 
This was particularly the case with the edition published at 
Augsburg in 1477, and also with that of Nurenberg in 1483, 
which latter was embellished with numerous wood-cuts. 

Thus, before the publication of Luther s translation, there 
had already appeared in Germany no less than three distinct 
versions of the whole Bible, the last of which had passed 
through at least seventeen different editions. Add to these 
the three editions of Wittenberg, mentioned by Seckendorf 
above, and not included in this estimate, and we ascertain 
that the Bible had already been reprinted in the German lan 
guage no less than twenty times^ before Luther s appeared.* 

In 1534, John Dietemberg published his new German 
translation from the Latin Vulgate at Mayerice, under the 
auspices of the archbishop and elector, Albert. It passed 
through upwards of twenty editions in the course of a hun 
dred years, four of which appeared at Mayence, and seven- 

* These facts as well as those that will follow on the same subject, are 
fully established by the learned De Long, in his Bibliotheca Sacra (torn. 1, 
p. 354 seqq. edit. Paris, 1723). They are also proved by a Calvinist writer, 
David Clement, librarian to the king of Prussia, in his Bibliotheque Curieuse, 
etc., (9 vols. 4to. Gottingen 1750). See also Geddes " Prospectus for a new 
Translation," 4to. p. 103 seqq., and Audin s " Life of Luther," p. 216 seqq., 
for many of these facts. See also a learned article on the subject in the 2d 
No. of the Dublin Review, where most of the facts we have alleged, or will 
allege, are clearly proved. The writer of this learned paper has, however, 
omitted SeckendorPs statement: and he likewise supposes that Luther s 
version appeared only in 1534; whereas from Seckcndorfs detailed account 
of it, it would seem to have been completed in 1530. 


teen at Cologne. The style of it was somewhat unpolished, 
but it was generally esteemed as a faithful translation. In 
1537, another Catholic version appeared under the supervis 
ion of Doctors Emser and Eck, the two learned champions of 
Catholicity against Luther. This version likewise passed 
through many editions. 

While on the subject of German Bibles, we may here re 
mark, though it does not come exactly within our present 
plan, that Gaspar Ulenberg published a new version in 1630 ; 
and that during the last forty years, several other new ver 
sions have appeared in Catholic Germany, of which those of 
Schwartzel and Brentano are the most popular. 

The facts already stated clearly prove how utterly un 
founded, and how recklessly false is the statement of D Au- 
bigne, that before the Reformation " the Bible was an unknown 
book !" They demonstrate triumphantly, that the Catholics 
of Germany were even more zealous in the circulation of the 
Holy Scriptures, than were the self-styled reformers, notwith 
standing all the loud boastings of the latter and of their 
friends on the subject. 

But we will pursue this line of argument still further, and 
prove, on the unquestionable authorities referred to above, 
that other Catholic countries were not behind Germany in 
the sincere will to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular 
tongues, and to circulate them among the people. In fact, 
there is not a country in Europe in which the Bible had not 
been repeatedly translated and published long before the 

In Italy, there were two versions anterior to that of Luther: 
that by the Dominican, Jacobus a Voragine, archbishop of 
Genoa, which version, according to the testimony of Sixtus 
Senensis,* was completed as early as 1290 ; and that by 
Nicholas Malermi, a Camaldolese monk, which was first 
printed simultaneously at Rome and Venice, in the year 

* Biblotheca sacra, torn, i, p. 397. 


1471, and which had passed through as many as thirteen dif 
ferent editions before the year 1525. This translation was 
afterwards reprinted eight times before the year 1567, with 
the express permission of the Santo Uffizio, or Holy Office at 
Rome. Almost simultaneously with that of Luther, there 
likewise appeared two other Italian translations of the Bible: 
that by Antonio Bruccioli* in 1532, which in twenty years 
passed through ten editions ; and that by Santes Marmochino, 
which was successively printed at Venice in 1538, 1546, 
and 1547. 

The oldest French version of the Bible was that by Des 
Moulins whose Bible Historyal almost a complete transla 
tion of the Bible appeared, according to Usher, about the 
year 1478. A new edition of it, corrected by Rely, bishop 
of Angers, was published in 1487, and was successively re 
printed sixteen different times before the year 1546 : four of 
these editions appearing at Lyons, and twelve at Paris. In 
1512, Le Fevre published a new French translation, which 
passed through many editions. A revision of this version 
was made by the divines of Louvain, in 1550, and was sub 
sequently reprinted in France and Flanders, thirty-nine 
times before the year 1700. f More recently, a great variety 
of new Catholic versions have appeared in France ; of which 
those by I)e Sacy, Corbin, Amelotte, Maralles, Godeau, and 
Hure, are the most celebrated. 

According to Mariana, the great Spanish historian, the 
Scriptures were translated into . Castilian by order of Al- 
phonso, the Wise. The whole Bible was translated into the 
Yalencian dialect of the Spanish, in the year 1405, by Boni 
face Ferrer, brother of St. Vincent Ferrer. This version was 
printed in 1478, and reprinted in 1515, with the formal con- 

* It is but fair to say, that this version was deemed inaccurate, and was 
subsequently suppressed by the competent authorities, with the consent of 
the author. Marmochino corrected its faults. 

f It is thus a mistake to suppose, as Kanke and others seem to do, that 
Le Fevrc was the author of the first French translation of the Bible. 


sent of the Spanish Inquisition. In 1512, the Epistles and 
Gospels were translated into Spanish by Ambrosio de Mon- 
tesma. This work was republished at Antwerp in 1544, at 
Barcelona in 1601 and 1608, and at Madrid in 1603 and 1615. 

In England, besides the translation made by the venerable 
Bede in the eighth century, and that of the Psalms ascribed 
to Alfred the Great,* in the ninth, there was also another 
translation of the whole Bible into the English of that early 
period, which was completed about the year 1290 long be 
fore the version of Wickliffe in the fifteenth century. 

In the year 706, Adhelm, first bishop of Salisbury, accord 
ing to the testimony of the Protestant biblicist Horn, trans 
lated the Psalter into Saxon. At his persuasion, Egbert, 
bishop of Lindisfarne, also translated the four gospels. In 
the fourteenth century, a new English version of the whole 
Bible was made by John de Trevisa. In the year 905, Elfric, 
archbishop of Canterbury, translated into English the Penta 
teuch, Joshua, Job, the Judges, Ruth, part of the books of 
Kings, Esther, and the Maccabees.f 

The Bible was translated into Flemish, as Usher J admits, 
by Jacobus Merland, before the year 1210. This version was 
printed at Cologne in 1475, and it passed through seven new 
editions before the appearance of Luther s Bible in 1530. 
The Antwerp edition was republished eight times in the short 
space of seventeen years. Within thirty years there were 
also published, at Antwerp alone, no less than ten editions of 
the New Testament translated by Cornelius Kendrick in 
1524. In the course of the seventeenth century, there also 
appeared in Flanders several new Catholic versions by De 
"Wit, Laemput, Schum, and others. All these were repeatedly 

* The venerable Bede died in 735, immediately after having finished his 
translation of St. John s Gospel, which seems to have completed his version 
of the Scriptures. 

f Of. Archbishop Kenrick s Theologia Dogmatica, vol. i, p. 426. 

t A learned Protestant historian, especially in regard to dates. 


A Sclavonian version of the Bible was published at Cra 
cow, in the beginning of the sixteenth century. As early as 
the fourteenth century the Bible had been translated into 
Swedish, by the direction of St. Bridget. According to the 
testimony of Jonas Arnagrimus, a disciple of the distin 
guished Tycho Brahe, a translation of the Bible was made in 
Toeland, as early as 1279. A Bohemian Bible appeared at 
Prague in 1.488, and passed through three other different edi 
tions; at Cutna in 1498, and at Venice in 1506 and 1511. 

Finally, to complete this hasty summary of bibliographical 
facts, we may here state, as an evidence of the solicitude of 
Rome for the dissemination of the Bible, that many editions 
of Syriac and Arabic Bibles have been printed at Rome and 
Venice for the use of the oriental churches in communion 
with the Holy See. A translation of the Bible into Ethiopic 
was published at Rome, as early as 1548. The famous con 
vent of Armenian monks, called Meohiteristi, at Venice, so 
often visited by travelers, has more recently published exquis 
itely beautiful versions of the Bible translated into Armenian. 

From this mass of facts and we have not given all which 
might be alleged on the subject it clearly appears that the 
Catholic Church had exhibited a most commendable zeal for 
the dissemination of the Scriptures among the people, long 
before the Reformation had been so much as heard of. This 
evidence of stubborn facts demonstrates how very silly are 
the assertions of those Protestant writers who, with D Aubigne, 
would fain persuade the world that we are indebted to the 
Reformation for the knowledge and general circulation of the 
Scriptures. And yet prejudice or drivelling ignorance will 
probably still continue to re-echo this unfounded assertion. 
So tenaciously do men cling to the tales of the nursery, and 
persist in obstinately believing, against all evidence, what 
ever is flattering to pride or prejudice ! 

Thus, before the appearance of Luther s version, in 1530, 
there had existed in the different countries of Europe at least 
twenty-two different Catholic versions, which, during the sev- 


enty years intervening between 1460 and 1530, had passed 
through at least SEVENTY editions : or one for each year ! 
And, simultaneously with Luther s German Bible, there ap 
peared a great number of Catholic versions, all of which, as 
well as those previously in existence, were frequently re 
printed. And yet, in the face of all these facts, we are still 
to be told that the Catholic Church concealed the Bible from 
the people ! 

"While on this subject, we may as well also remark that, 
of the four famous Polyglot Bibles, the three most ancient 
were published by Catholics. That by Cardinal Ximenes 
was published at Alcala in Spain, in six volumes, folio, in 
the year 1515 two years before the commencement of the 
Reformation. That of Antwerp was published in 1572, and 
that of Paris in 1645 ; while the latest of all, and the only 
Protestant one, was published by Walton, in London, only in 
the year 1658 ! 

We say nothing of another Polyglot edition of the Psalms, 
by Giustiniani, an Italian, who seems to have been the first 
to conceive this splendid idea of illustrating the Scriptures 
by exhibiting, in parallel columns, the original Hebrew and 
Greek, with the most ancient and esteemed versions. His 
labor was, however, never destined to see the light; his 
manuscripts were lost in a shipwreck near Leghorn; and it 
was reserved to the magnificent Ximenes to be the first to 
carry out this great conception. He devoted many of the 
last years of his brilliant life to this great work. Valuable 
manuscripts in Greek and Hebrew were procured in remote 
places, and at immense expense: Ximenes himself collated 
these precious documents with the assistance of a body of 
learned men; and he finally put the finishing hand to his 
herculean labor. To him are we indebted for the first great 
impulse thus given to biblical criticism and literature. 

It is also worthy of remark, that a learned Italian, Bernardo 
di Rossi, towards the close of the last century, by his single, 
unaided efforts, collected together more valuable ancient 


Greek, and especially Hebrew, manuscripts of the Bible, 
than Walton had been able to do, with his immense resources 
and the co-operation of the British and of other governments.* 

It is also proper to state that, besides the version of the 
Bible into the vernacular tongues of Europe, referred to 
above, there were, about the time of the Reformation, various 
Latin versions made by Catholics immediately from the 
original Hebrew and Greek texts. These were entirely dis 
tinct from the Latin Yulgate of St. Jerome. The most famous 
were: that by Santes Pagninus, published at Florence and 
Lyons in 1528, which was a translation from the Hebrew; 
aiad that of the Old Testament by Cardinal Cajetan, which 
was a literal translation from the Septuagint.f It is also 
well known that Leo X., in order to promote biblical learn 
ing, encouraged the study of Greek and Hebrew at the very 
dawn of the Reformation, and before the reformers had done 
any thing of the kind.J 

Thus every department of biblical study was fully and 
extensively cultivated by the Catholic Church, both before 
and after the commencement of the Reformation. Catholic 
divines labored at least as much, and as successfully, in these 
studies, as did the reformers, and at a much more early 
period. Europe was filled with Bibles in almost every 
language, and especially in the Latin Yulgate and in the 
vernacular tongues. 

With all these undoubted facts before us, we will now 
be better able to form a correct judgment on the truth of 
the statement made by Martin Luther himself in his Table 

" Thirty years ago the Bible was an unknown book : the Prophets were 
not understood ; it was thought that they could not be translated. I was 

* See Geddes "Prospectus for a new Translation," etc., 4to. Also the 
works of Bernardo di Rossi, who died a few years ago. 

f Geddes, ibid. 

| This was but one of the many acts of the brilliant Pontiff, who ushered 
in the second Augustan age of literature. See Roscoe. 


twenty years old before I saw the Scriptures : I thought that there was no 
other Gospel, no other Epistles than those contained in the Postilla."* 

The arch-reformer must either have been wondrously igno 
rant of what was everywhere passing around him in the 
world, or he must have wilfully misstated the facts of the 
case. His character for knowledge, or for veracity, must 
suffer terribly; there is no alternative. We suspect, how 
ever, that, like his admirer D Aubigne, he was not very 
particular about the truth, when a misstatement would better 
serve his purpose. 

But we are still told that Catholics did not read the Bible, 
that they were even prohibited to do so, before the Reforma 
tion. Who then, we w r ould ask, purchased and read those 
SEVENTY EDITIONS of the Bible in the vernacular tongues, 
which, as we have seen, were published before Luther had 
circulated one copy of his German Bible ? Were they read 
only by the priests? But these all knew Latin, and had their 
Latin Bibles. Think you that booksellers would have pub 
lished so many editions of a book, which was not readily 
sold and extensively read? Would a new edition have been 
necessary each successive year, during the seventy which 
preceded the appearance of Luther s Bible, unless each edition, 
as it appeared, had been eagerly sought and rapidly bought 
up? Would any of our modern book publishers reprint 
seventy successive yearly editions of a work, which w T as not 
generally read ? 

But there was a prohibition by the Church to read the 
Bible. When, where, and by whom was that prohibition 
made? The annals of history are wholly silent as to any re 
striction of the kind having been made, before the flagrant 
abuses of the Bible by the reformers and their disciples 
seemed to require some such regulation. The Church had, 
indeed, carefully guarded against the circulation of erroneous 
or inaccurate editions ; and the suppression of the Italian 

* Tisch-Reden, or Table Talk, p. 352, edit. Eisleben. Apud Audio, p. 
390, 391. 


version by Bruccioli is an evidence of this wise solicitude. 
But we nowhere find evidence of any restrictive law as to 
the reading of the Bible in the vernacular versions, until after 
the council of Trent had closed its sessions in 1563. 

A committee of learned divines, named by the council, 
then drew up a list, or Index, of prohibited books, prefaced 
by ten general regulations on the reading of them. The 
fourth rule of the Index permits the reading " of the Bible 
translated into the vulgar tongues by Catholic authors, to 
those only to whom the bishop or the inquisitor, with the ad 
vice of the parish priests or confessors, shall judge that such 
reading will prove more profitable unto an increase of faith 
and piety, than injurious :" and it assigns, as a reason for this 
restriction, " that experience had made it manifest, that the 
permission to read the Bible indiscriminately in the vulgar 
tongues had, from the rashness of men, done more harm than 

Some such regulation of discipline was deemed salutary 
and even necessary, at a time when, the landmarks of the 
ancient faith having been recklessly removed, the Bible was 
wantonly perverted to support a hundred contradictory sys 
tems. In that period of religious vertigo, men, " having an 
appearance indeed of piety, but denying the power thereof," 
were ts always learning, and never attaining to the knowledge 
of the truth :"f " according to their own devices, they heaped 
up to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they 
turned away their hearing from the truth, and were turned 
to fables :"J they "were like children, tossed to and fro, and 
carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the wickedness 
of men, in craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive :" 
and not understanding that in the Scriptures " are some things 
hard to be understood," they " wrested them to their own per- 

* " Cum experimento manifestum sit, si sacra bifylia vulgari lingua passim 
sine discrimine permittantur, plus inde, ob hominum temeritatem, detri 
ment! quam utilitatis oriri." Kegula IV. 

i 2 Tim., iii : 5-7. t Ibid., iv : 3, 4-. $ Ephes., iv : 14. 


dition."* In this emergency, when the very substance of the 
faith was endangered, did it not behoove the Church, " which 
is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the 
truth,"f to raise her warning voice, and to proclaim from the 
chair of Peter, with St. Peter himself, that all should "under 
stand this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is made by 
private interpretation ;"J and to re-echo through the relig 
ious world, thus shaken to its very base, the solemn command 
of Christ " to hear the Church," under the penalty of being 
reckoned "with heathens and publicans ?" 

This is precisely what the Church did ; and she thought 
that she was compelled to adopt this course by the glaring 
evils wrought through the working of the newly broached 
principle of private interpretation. The "rashness of men" 
perverting the Scriptures of God to their own perdition, was 
the cause of her enactment, restricting the reading of the 
Scriptures in the vulgar tongues. The principle of private 
interpretation, applied to the Scriptures, had evidently " done 
more harm than good ;" for, whereas the Bible manifestly 
contains and teaches but one religion, this principle had al 
ready extracted from it a hundred contradictory religions. 
So that the Reformation is alone to be blamed for this restrict 
ive policy on the part of the Catholic Church ; and Protest 
ants should be the last persons in the world to reproach to 
her as a fault, what the "rashness" alone of their fathers in 
the faith occasioned, and even rendered necessary. 

But the enactment in question, besides not emanating 
directly from the council itself having been made after the 
council had closed its sessions contained a merely disciplin 
ary regulation of a temporary character, which was not every 
where received in practice, || and which has long since ceased 

* 2 Peter, iii : 6. f 1 Timothy, iii : 15. 

| 2 Peter, i : 20. \ St. Matthew, xviii : 17. 

|| " Sed ea disciplina non ubique obtinuit." Archbishop Kenrick, Theol. 
Dogmatica, vol. i, p. 429. In this learned and excellent work will be found 
many valuable facts, of which we have already . availed ourselves, and on 
which we shall occasionally draw in the sequel. 
VOL. I. 2t> 


to be of binding force in any part of the Catholic Church. 
The present discipline requires only, " that the version be 
approved, and illustrated by commentaries from the fathers 
and other Catholic writers."* Pope Pius VI., in a letter f to 
Anthony Martini, the translator of the Italian version, now 
generally used in Italy, praises him for his undertaking, and 

"For these (the Scriptures) are the most abundant sources, which 
ought to le left open to every one, to draw from them purity of morals and 
of doctrine."! 

It is, then, plainly a slander to assert that the Catholic 
Church forbids the reading of the Scriptures. In the United 
States, Catholics have published at least as many editions of 
the Bible as any Protestant sect. These have appeared in 
every form, from Haydock s splendid folio Bible, in two vol 
umes an edition unequaled by any Protestant Bible in the 
country down to the octavo and duodecimo editions. Sev 
eral of these have been stereotyped : and they may be had in 
every Catholic book store in the country, and may be found 
in most Catholic families. In France, the great Bossuet dis 
tributed himself no less than fifty thousand copies of the 
New Testament translated into French by Amelotte.|| 

In speaking of the influence of the Reformation on biblical 
learning, we must say a few words on the different Protestant 
versions. These are as numerous, and almost as various, as 
the sects from which they have respectively emanated. The 
oldest is that of Luther, in which, as soon as it successively 
appeared, the learned Emser detected no less than a thousand 
glaring faults ! Luther became angry, and raged at this ex- 

* Archbishop Kenrick, Theol. Dogmatica, vol. i, p. 429. 

f Written April 1, 1778. { Inserted in frontispiece of the Douay Bible. 

5 We here refer to the old edition of Haydock. The new one recently 
published by Dunigan of ISFew York, in one large volume, is the most com 
plete and beautiful Bible we have ever seen in English. It is, in every re- 
ypect, superior to the illustrated edition of the Harpers. 

|j Robelot, Influence, etc., p. 389. 


posure of his work by his learned antagonist, on whom he 
exhausted his usual vocabulary of abusive epithets. He said, 
among other pretty things, that " these Popish asses were not 
able to appreciate his labors."* Yet even Seckendorf gives us 
to understand that, in his cooler moments, the reformer availed 
himself of Emser s corrections, and made many changes in 
his version. f 

Stlll, however, Martin Bucer, a brother reformer, says that 
" his falls in translating and explaining the Scriptures were 
manifest and not a few." J Zuingle, another leading reformer, 
after having examined his translation, openly pronounced it 
a corruption of the word of God. It has now grown almost 
obsolete, even in Germany itself. It is viewed as faulty and 
insufficient in many respects. In 1836, many Lutheran con 
sistories called for its entire revision.]] 

It would not be difficult to show that the translations made 
by the other leading reformers were not more unexception 
able. Luther returned with interest the compliment which 
Zuingle had paid to his Bible. 

" (Ecolampadius and the theologians of Basle made another version ; but, 
according to the famous Beza, it was impious in many parts : the divines of 
Basle said the same of Beza s version. In fact, adds Dumoulin, another 
learned minister, he changes in it the text of Scripture ; and speaking 

* Seckendorf, Comm., 1. i, sect. 52, cxxvii, p. 210. f Ibid., cxxii. 

| " Lutheri lapsus in vertendis et explanandis Scripturis manifestos esse 
et non paucos." Bucer, Dial, contra Melancthon. 

$ See Amicable Discussion, by Bishop Trevern, i, 129, note. 

|| See Audin, p. 215,^ for many authorities on this subject. Of Luther s 
version, Mr. Hallam says : " The translation of the Old and New Testament 
by Luther is more renowned for the purity of its German idiom, than for its 
adherence to the original text. Simon has charged him with ignorance of 
Hebrew ; and when we consider how late he came to the knowledge of that 
or the Greek language, and the multiplicity of his employments, it may be 
believed that his knowledge of them was far from extensive." Hist. Liter- 
at, i, 201. And in a note (ibid.) he says : " It has been as ill spoken of 
among Calvinists as by the Catholics themselves. St. Aldegonde says it is 
further from the Hebrew than any he knows." See Gerdes Hist. Ke 
Evang., iii, 60. 


of Calvin s translation, he says that Calvin does violence to the letter of the 
gospel, which he has changed, making also additions of his own. The 
ministers of Geneva believed themselves obliged to make an exact version ; 
but James I., king of England, in his conference at Hampton Court, declared 
that, of all the versions, it was the most wicked and unfaithful."* 

It is very difficult for men who have their own peculiar 
religious notions to subserve, to translate fairly the sacred 
text. An example of this is found in the manifestly sectarian 
rendering of the words baptism and baptize^ by immersion 
and immerse, in the New Testament translated by George 
Campbell, James McKnight, and Philip Doddridge, and now 
more or less extensively used by the Reformers or Campbell- 
ites. We say nothing here of the gross perversion of the last 
verse of St. Matthew s Gospel, in this version. f 

The version of King James, on its first appearance in En 
gland, was openly decried by the Protestant ministers, as 
abounding in gross perversions of the original text.J The 
necessity of this new translation was predicated on the noto- 

* Bishop Trevern. Amic. Discussion, i, 127, note. 

f Even this version does not, however, seem to satisfy the prurient taste 
for change nourished by these new religionists, who in conjunction with the 
Baptists are now busily engaged in what is called the revision movement. 
An animated and interesting controversy has thence arisen between them and 
the other Protestant sects in regard to the fidelity of the received version of King 
James, the numerous faults of which are unsparingly censured by the advo 
cates of the new version. Thus, after boasting of the Bible as their only 
rule of faith for three centuries, the Protestants of the United States are not 
yet satisfied on the great question, whether they really have a faithful ver 
sion of the written word ! This would be comical enough, were it not so 
very sad. Alas ! they are, " like little children, tossed to and fro by every 
wind of doctrine." Oh ! that they would return to the bosom of the loving 
mother against whom their fathers so unhappily rebelled ! She would re 
ceive them, and all dissension would cease in her harmonious household. 

| After speaking rather disparagingly of the English style of King James 
version, Mr. Hallam very cautiously abstains from venturing an opinion on 
its fidelity: 

" On the more important question, whether this translation is entirely, or 
with very trifling exceptions, conformable to the original text, it seems unfit 


rious corruptions of the sacred text by all the Protestant ver 
sions in England during the previous seventy years. The 
chief of these were : Tyndale s, Mathews , Cranmer s, and the 
bishops Bible.* Here, then, is an open avowal, that during 
all this time, when Protestantism was in its palmiest days in 
England, it had not yet offered to the people the pure word 
of God! 

And, as we have just seen, King James version did not 
much mend the matter. It was however repeatedly corrected : 
but even in its amended form, as now used by most English 
and American Protestants, it still abounds with grievous 
faults. Mr. Ward, in his Errata, has pointed out a great 
number of these : though candor compels us to avow, that 
this writer is not always judicious in his criticism, and that he 
frequently insists too much on mere trifles. Archbishop Ken- 
rick, in his Theology, proves by a reference to the original 
text, as edited even by Protestants, that the modern English 
version still retains at least five or six grievous perversions of 
the text, in matters too, affecting doctrine.f 

The English Douay version, which is in general use among 
English and American Catholics, is a translation from the 
Latin Vulgate, which was rendered from the original Hebrew 
and revised from the original Greek by St. Jerome, towards 

to enter. It is one which is seldom discussed with all the temper and free 
dom from oblique views which the subject demands, and upon which, for 
this reason, it is not safe for those who have not had leisure or means to ex 
amine for themselves, to take upon trust the testimony of the learned." 
Hist. Literat, sup. cit., vol. ii, p. 59. This silence is ominous in so learned 
an English Protestant. 

* For an account of these see Hallam. Hist. Lit., vol. i, p. 201. 

f Theologia Dogmatica, vol. i, p. 427, seqq. Among these perversions, the 
most glaring are these ; Matth., xix : llth, "All men can not receive this say 
ing," for "receive not" Greek, x u Pv<u . 1 Corinth., vii: 9. "If theyeaft not 
contain," for do not contain Gr., tyicptxr6vavrU ; 1 Cor., ix : 5. " Have we 
not power to lead about a sister, a wife" for a woman, a sister Gr., adetyifv 
ywalna ; 1 Cor., xi : 27. " Eat this bread and drink," etc., for or drink 
Gr., #, etc , etc. 


the close of the fourth century. Dating from a time preced 
ing by centuries the religious prejudices which have influ 
enced Christians for the last three hundred years, the Vulgate 
is deservedly esteemed for its accuracy and impartiality, even 
by learned and intelligent Protestant writers. St. Jerome, 
moreover, had access to many valuable manuscripts which 
have since perished. Since his time the Hebrew has under 
gone a revolution, by the introduction of the Massoretic 
points to supply the place of vowels, which were wanting in 
the original Hebrew language. 

The distinguished Protestant biblical critic, George Camp 
bell, states these advantages of St. Jerome s position, and 
fully admits their force.* He also says of this ancient ver 
sion : " The Yulgate may be pronounced on the whole a good 
and faithful version ."f Another famous modern Protestant 
writer on biblical studies, says of it : " It is allowed to be in 
general a faithful translation, and sometimes exhibits the 
sense of Scripture with greater accuracy than the more mod 
ern versions The Latin Vulgate preserves many true 

readings, where the modern Hebrew copies are corrupted. "J 
A writer, whose biblical "Institutes" are often used as a text 
book in this country, says: "It is in general skillful and 
faithful, and often gives the sense of Scripture better than 
modern versions." 

Thus Protestants did not after all, even according to their 
own showing, make much of a reformation in the Bible, 
when they departed from that " faithful " translation, the old 
Latin Vulgate, and gave us in its place their many crude or 
grossly faulty versions of the Bible. But did they succeed 
better in expounding, than they had succeeded in translating the 
Eible ? They have been at least prolific enough in this depart- 

* Dissert., torn, x, p. 354, Amer. edit., apud Archbishop Kenrick. Theol. 
Dog., i, p. 424. f Ibid., p. 358, apud eundem. 

| Home s Introduction, vol. ii, part i, ch. v, $ 1, p. 281, 202. Apud Arch 
bishop Kenrick, ibid., p. 423. 

$ Gerard, Institutes of Biblical Criticism. iv, p. 269-70. Apud eund., ibid. 


ment, having given us almost as many interpretations as they 
have heads. We could scarcely have asked for more variety ! 

Nor is the work of improvement on the previously ascer 
tained meanings of the Bible yet completed : almost every 
day we hear of learned and intelligent preachers among Prot 
estants striking new systems out of this good book !* One,f 
by a new method calculates to a nicety the very year and 
day when all prophecy is to be fulfilled, and the world is to 
come to a final end : another, J pretending that all Protestant 
sects have hitherto been in the dark as to the real meaning 
of the Bible, proposes that all creeds and commentaries be 
cast to the winds, and that every one hereafter explain it sim 
ply as it reads : that is, as he thinks it reads ! This last 
system, though it is clearly based on the original Protestant 
principle of private interpretation, to the exclusion of all church 
authority, is, for this very reason, one eminently calculated to 
multiply sects, and to render confusion even worse confounded. 

Let us see, in conclusion, what has been the practical ope 
ration of this principle of private interpretation, and what 
the general influence of the Reformation on biblical studies 
in Germany, the father-land, and first theater ol Protestantism. 
Has it been salutary or injurious ? It requires but little ac 
quaintance with the present condition of German Protestant 
ism, to be able to pronounce on its true character and real 
tendency. Rationalism is there in the ascendant. This sys 
tem, which is little better than downright Deism, has frittered 
away the very substance of Christianity. The inspiration of 
the Bible itself, the integrity of its canon, the truth of its 
numerous and clearly attested miracles, the divinity and even 
the resurrection of Christ, and the existence of grace, and of 
everything supernatural in religion ; have all fallen before 
the Juggernaut-car like of modern German Protestant exege 
sis or system of interpretation ! The Rationalists of Ger- 

* These new systems are certainly out of the Bible, 
f Miller. \ Alexander Campbell. 


many have left nothing of Christianity, scarcely even its life 
less skeleton ! They boldly and unblushingly proclaim their 
infidel principles, through the press, from the professor s 
chair, and from the pulpit. And the most learned and dis 
tinguished among the present German Protestant clergy have 
openly embraced this infidel system. Whoever doubts the 
entire accuracy of this picture of modern German Protest 
antism, needs only open the works of Semmler, Damon, 
Paulus, Strauss, Eichorn, Michaelis, Teuerbach, Bretschnei- 
der, "Woltman, and others. ;V 

The following extract from the sermons of the Eev. Dr. 
Rose, a learned divine of the church of England, and "Chris 
tian advocate of the university of Cambridge," presents a 
graphic sketch of these German Rationalists : 

" They are bound by no law, but their own fancies ; some are more and 
some are less extravagant; but I do them no injustice after this declaration 
in saying, that the general inclination and tendency of their opinions (more 
or less forcibly acted on) is this : that in the New Testament, we shall find 
only the opinions of Christ and the apostles adapted to the age in which 
they lived, and not eternal truths; that Christ himself had neither the 
design nor the power of teaching any system which was to endure ; that, 
when He taught any enduring truth, as He occasionally did, it was without 
being aware of its nature ; that the apostles understood still less of real 
religion ; that the whole doctrine both of Christ and the apostles, as it was 
directed to the Jews alone, so it was gathered from no other source than the 
Jewish philosophy ; that Christ himself erred (!), and His apostles spread His 
errors, and that consequently no one of His doctrines is to be received on 
their authority ; but that, without regard to the authority of the books of 
Scripture, and their asserted divine origin, each doctrine is to be examined 
according to the principles of right reason, before it is allowed to be divine." 

"We should be endless were we to attempt to give all the 
extravagances into which these German Protestant divines 
have indulged : yet we must give a few of the most glaring. 
Doctor Paulus, in his Scripture Commentaries, enters into a 
labored argument to prove that Christ was not really dead, 
but that he had merely suffered a fainting fit, from which he 
was recovered by the admission of fresh air into his sepulchre ! 
He moves heaven and earth to prove, that no instance is on 


record of a man dying on a cross in three hours ! ! He indulges 
in similar absurdities about the resurrection of Lazarus ! 

"When Christ is said to have walked on the sea, it is no 
miracle at all, says Doctor Paulus : for the Greek word may 
mean only that he walked ~by the sea, or simply that he 
swam: and St. Peter s having been on the point of drown 
ing, resulted merely from the not extraordinary circumstance 
that he was not so expert a swimmer as Christ ! Most of the 
cures spoken of in the Gospel, the Eationalists explain by the 
superior skill in medicine, which, they Jiave ascertained, our 
Saviour learned during His infancy, while an exile in Egypt ; 
or they account for them by Dr. Mesmer s wonderful system 
of animal magnetism! 

According to them, St. John did not really write the Gospel 
ascribed to him ; and as for the other three Gospels, they are 
merely a clumsy compilation from a previous common record, 
the existence of which they have detected, and which they 
assert was written in the Aramaic language ! This astonish 
ing discovery, first made by the learned Michaelis, was im 
proved on by Berthold and others, who maintained that not 
only the Gospels, but the Epistles of St. Paul, and the other 
Epistles also, are mere faulty translations from the original 
Aramaic ! Thus, " instead of the good old-fashioned notion, 
that the New Testament is a collection of works composed 
by the persons whose names they bear, and who wrote under 
the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we must now 
believe, that the original narrator of the Gospel History was 
an unknown person ; and that the Gospels and Epistles are 
merely translations made by some persons whose names are 
lost, and who betray themselves by several blunders in the 
work which they undertook."* At least all these explana 
tions are natural enough : and those who maintain them, accord 
ingly style themselves naturaliMs^ as well as Rationalists. f 

* British Critic, July, 1828. See also Dr. Pusey s " Historical Inquiry ;" 
and also Moore s " Travels of an Irish Gentleman," etc., p. 186, seqq., where 
this whole subject is ably and fully elucidated. 

f In viewing these extraordinary and almost incredible developments of 

VOL. i. 27 


Such then are the effects, present and palpable, of the 
Reformation on the biblical literature of Germany! The 
Reformation began by vaunting its zeal for the Bible : it has 
ended, in the very place of its birth, by rejecting the Bible, 
and by blaspheming Christ and His holy religion. 

Its results have not been more favorable to Christianity in 
Geneva, another great center of the Reformation, and another 
radiating point of the new gospel. Hear what the Protest 
ant writer Grenus says on this subject: 

" The ministers of Geneva have already passed the unchangeable barrier. 
They have held out the hand of fellowship to deists and to the enemies of 
the faith. They even blush to make mention, in their catechisms, of origi 
nal sin, without which the incarnation of the Eternal Word is no longer ne 
cessary. When asked, says Rousseau, if Jesus Christ is God, they do 
not dare to answer. When asked, what mysteries they admit, they still do 

not dare to answer A philosopher casts on them a rapid glance, and 

penetrates them at once he sees they are Arians, Socinians. "f 

He wrote from personal observation, made during a residence 
in Geneva. Recent travelers have confirmed his statement. 

The following epigram would seem to express pretty accurately 
the confession of faith adopted by modern German Protestants. 

"We now reject each mystic creed, 

To common sense a scandal ; 
We re more enlightened yes indeed, 

The devil holds the candle !" 

If Luther may be credited, Satan "held the candle" at 
the very birth of the Reformation ; and we see no reason why 
he should not hold it at the funeral of German Protestantism ! 
If he presided at the baptism of the mother, why should he 
not assist at the funeral of the daughter ? 

the principle of private judgment, we are forcibly reminded of what St. Paul 
writes of the ancient philosophers, that they " became vain in their thoughts," 
and "thinking themselves wise, became fools." The sad aberrations of these 
learned German bibliomaniacs furnish palpable evidence of the absolute neces 
sity of a divinely appointed guide in religious matters. 
f "Lettres de la Montagne." 








Stating the question Two aspects Professions D Aubigne s theory- 
"Combating" ad libitum Diversities and sects Inconsistency Early 
Protestant intolerance The mother and her recreant daughter Facts on 
persecution of each other by early Protestants Of Karlstadt Luther 
the cause of it Persecution of Anabaptists Synod at Homburg Lu 
ther s letter Zuingle The drowned Jew Calvinistic intolerance Per 
secution of Catholics Diet of Spires Name of Protestant A stubborn 
truth Strange casuistry Convention at Smalkalde Testimony of Men- 
zel CUJTJS EEGIO, EJUS KELIGIO Union of church and state A bear s 
embrace Hallam s testimony Parallel between Catholic and Protestant 

WE have seen what was the influence of the boasted Ref 
ormation on religion : we are now to examine how it affected 
the less important interests of this world. 

Among these, liberty is the one which is, perhaps, the 
dearest to the human heart. The very name excites a thrill, 
and stirs the deepest feelings of the soul. Did the Reforma 
tion really promote liberty ? Did it break the fetters of politi 
cal bondage, and especially did it favor freedom of conscience ? 
Were those who came within the range of its influence ren 
dered more free, either religiously or politically, than they 
had been before? This is the important question which we 
now proceed to discuss. The question naturally presents 
two aspects ; and we begin with that which is religious, both 
because this involves higher interests, and because it forms 
the natural point of transition from the merely religious and 

( 315 ) 


spiritual, to the merely secular and temporal influence of the 

Religious liberty guaranties to every man the right to wor 
ship God according to the dictates of his conscience, without 
thereby incurring any civil penalties or disabilites whatever. 
Did the Reformation secure this boon, even to its own vota 
ries ? We shall see. A summary collection of the facts of his 
tory bearing on this important subject will settle the question. 

The Reformation indeed boasted much in this particular 
respect. It professed to free mankind from the degrading yoke 
of the Papacy, and thereby to restore to them their Chris 
tian liberty. Men were told that those who professed the old 
religion were groaning under a worse than Babylonian captiv 
ity, and that they who would rally under the banner of re 
form would be brought back from exile into the beautiful 
land of Israel, there to worship in freedom and in peace near 
the Sion of God! The Pope was Antichrist; the Church 
was ruthlessly trampled under foot by his followers and espe 
cially by his ministers ; the liberties of the world were entirely 
crushed. All men were invited to arise in their strength, to 
break their chains, and to be free ! The restraining influence 
of Church authority was to be spurned, as wholly incompati 
ble with freedom, arid each one was to be guided solely by 
his own private judgment in matters of religion. 

The Germans were told of the grievances they had had to 
endure in ages past from the court of Rome. Angry pas 
sions, once excited by long forgotten controversies between 
the Germanic empire and the Roman Pontiffs, were called up 
again from the abyss in which they had slumbered for cen 
turies ; and the Germans were implored, in the enticing 
name of liberty, to break off all connection with Rome for 
ever. In case they would do this, the Reformation promised 
that they should realize the brightest visions of freedom, and 
the blessing of true and independent manhood.* 

* Some one has remarked that the Germans remember a grievance of five 


Such was the specious theory of the Reformation ; such is even 
at present the boasting speculation of Protestant writers gener 
ally. M. Guizot, in his Lectures on Civilization in Modern Eu 
rope, asserts, that through the Reformation was brought about 
" the emancipation of the human mind." According to D Au- 
bigne, the Catholic Church had utterly destroyed all human 

" But as a besieging army day by day contracts its lines, compelling the 
garrison to confine their movements within the narrow inclosure of the 
fortress, and at last obliging it to surrender at discretion, just so the hier 
archy, from age to age, and almost from year to year, has gone on restricting 
the liberty allowed for a time to the human mind, until at last, by succes 
sive encroachments, there remained no liberty at all. That which was to 
be believed, loved, or done, was regulated and decreed in the courts of the 
Roman chancery. The faithful were relieved from the trouble of examin 
ing, reflecting, and combating ; all they had to do was to repeat the formu 
laries that had been taught them."* 

This is, to use the softest expression, an absurd exaggera 
tion and a grotesque romance, which has not even the merit 
of resemblance or what the French call vraisemJblance to 
the reality of the facts. "What ! were men then, for fifteen 
hundred years, mere automata ? Did the obedience to the 
decisions of the Church stifle all rational liberty ? Had not 
Christ enjoined this very obedience on all, under the penalty 
of being ranked with heathens and publicans ?f Did Christ 
and the apostles leave it free for men to decide, by their 
private judgment, whether they would receive or reject the 
doctrines they taught ? And in enjoining obedience on all, 
with the menace of eternal damnation to him that would not 

hundred years standing almost as acutely as they do one of yesterday, 
whenever the memory of the former is revived. If true, this national trait 
of character may serve to throw some additional light on the excitement 
which was aroused in Germany by the violent harangues of Luther and his 
colleagues. The German temperament, though phlegmatic, is sufficiently 
enthusiastic when once fully aroused to a sense of wrong, whether present 
or long passed ; for the German poetic imagination seems to annihilate tune 
and space. * D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 237. f St Matthew, xviii. 


believe,* did they intend to crush all liberty? Might not our 
historian, with the very same, if not even with stronger reason, 
also taunt their practice with being inimical to freedom, on 
the ground that it " relieved the faithful from the trouble of 
examining, reflecting, and combating?" 

In what, in fact, consists the difference between the authori 
tative teaching of the first body of Christ s ministers the 
apostles, and that of the body of pastors who, by divine com 
mission, succeeded them in the office of preaching, teaching, 
and baptizing, and who, in the discharge of these sacred 
duties, were promised the divine assistance "all days, even 
to the consummation of the world ?"f And if the latter was 
opposed to rational liberty, why was not the former ? Be 
sides, we learn, for the first time, that the Roman chancery 
decided on articles of faith : we had always thought that this 
was the exclusive province of general councils, and, when 
these were not in session, of the Roman Pontiffs with the con 
sent or acquiescence of the body of bishops dispersed over 
the world. We had also, in our simplicity, believed that 
even these did not always decide on controverted points, but 
only in cases in which the teaching of revelation was clear 
and explicit ; and that, in other matters, they wisely allowed 
a reasonable latitude of opinion. But D Aubigne has taught 
us better ! He would have us believe that Roman Catholics 
are bound hand and" foot, body and soul, and that they are 
not allowed even to reflect ! 

They were certainly not allowed to "combat:" this was 
the special privilege of the reformed party. The old Church 
wisely ordained that all the "combating" should take place, 
if at all, outside her pale : she would permit no wrangling 
nor sects within her own bosom. It is indeed curious to ob 
serve, how D Aubigne boasts of this glorious new gospel 
privilege of wrangling among discordant sects, as the very 
quintessence of Christian liberty ! , This precious liberty could 

* St. Mark, xvi. f St. Matthew, xxviii. 


not be enjoyed so long as a recognition of the conservative 
principle of Church authority held the religious world in re 
ligious unity ; the reformers therefore determined to burst 
this bond of union, and to assert their pugnacious freedom " to 
combat" at will! He says: 

" The Reformation, in restoring liberty to the Church, must therefore res 
tore to it its original diversity (!), and people it with families united by the 
great features of resemblance derived from their common head, but varying 
in secondary features, and reminding us of the varieties inherent in human 
nature. Perhaps it might have been desirable that this diversity should 
have been allowed to subsist in the universal church without leading to 
sectarian divisions ; and yet we must remember that sects are only the ex 
pression of this diversity."* 

Humiliating avowal ! Sects are therefore as essential char 
acteristics of Protestantism, as are the "diversities" of which 
they are but the expression! And Christian liberty neces 
sarily carries sects along with it! St. Paul, a competent 
authority, reckons sects and dissensions with murders and 
drunkenness; and he says of them all, that "they who do 
such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God."f Thus, 
according to our historian, an essential element of the Refor 
mation is, at the same time, an essential bar to entrance into 
the kingdom of heaven ! The Reformation is welcome to all 
the merit of having originated such a system of liberty as 
this! As well might its panegyrist have claimed for it, as 
essential to the liberty which it brought into the world, a 
license for murders and drunkenness ! 

A little further on, he thus glories in the shame of Pro 
testantism : 

" True it is, that human passion found an entrance into these discussions 
(among Protestant sects), but while deploring such minglings of evil, Pro 
testantism, far from seeking to disguise the diversity, publishes and proclaims 
it. Its path to unity is indeed long and difficult, but the unity it proposes 
is recd."\ 

Real in what ? Is there one common ground of unity which 

* D Aubigue, iii, p. 238. f Gallatinns, v : 20, 21. \ D Aubigne, iii, p. 238. 


Protestantism has not recklessly trodden down and rendered 
desolate? Truly its path to unity "has been long and diffi 
cult!" During three hundred years, its tortuous course has 
been seen winding in more than a hundred different directions, 
and it has not yet led the weary wanderer to unity ! 

It has done precisely the contrary. It is a strange "path to 
unity," truly, which has always led to disunion. " Diversities 
and sects" have multiplied, and grown with the growth of 
Protestantism: they are avowedly its "essential features." 
There is scarcely one saving truth of revelation which Pro 
testantism, in its ever downward career, has not frittered 
away. And yet we are to be told, that "the unity which it 
proposed was real." If such was the case, it certainly never 
carried into effect what it had proposed. 

The only principle of unity possible among Protestants, is 
an agreement to disagree. But we are prepared to prove, 
that they were not disposed to meet even on this doubtful 
and slippery ground of union. One w r ould have thought, 
that when the Reformation emancipated its disciples from 
the duty of obedience to Rome, and proclaimed the principle 
of private judgment as the broad basis, the magna charta, of 
the new system of Christian liberty, that it would at least 
have guarantied to them freedom of thought and of judgment 
in matters of religion. Surely after having indignantly re 
jected the principle of Church authority, as incompatible 
with liberty, Protestantism would not attempt to enthrone 
again this self-same principle, much less to impose it as an 
obligation on its own followers. 

Yet this course, absurd and inconsistent as it manifestly 
was, was the very one adopted, without one exception, by 
the numerous sects to which the Reformation gave birth! 
If there be any truth in history, the reformers were them 
selves the most intolerant of men, not only towards the 
Catholic Church, but towards each other. They could not 
brook dissent from the crude notions on religion which they 
had broached. Men might protest against the decisions of 


the Catholic Church ; but woe to them, if, following out their 
own private judgment, they dared protest against the self- 
constituted authority of the new-fangled Protestant sects. 
We have already given many proofs of this: but we here 
beg leave to submit the following additional facts. And we 
will allege little but Protestant authority, and the testimony 
of the reformers themselves.* 

Mr. Eoscoe, whose pen has so glowingly depicted the bright 
literary age of Leo X., justly censures "the severity with 
which Luther treated those, who unfortunately happened to 
believe too much on the one hand, or too little on the other, 
and could not walk steadily on the hair-breadth line which he 
had presented." He also makes the following appropriate 
remark on this same glaring inconsistency : 

" Whilst Luther was engaged in his opposition to the Church of Rome, he 
asserted the right of private judgment with the confidence and courage of a 
martyr. But no sooner had he freed his followers from the chains of papal 
domination, than he forged others in many respects equally intolerable ; and 
it was the employment of his latter years, to counteract the beneficial effects 
produced by his former labors."f 

The tyrannical and intolerant character of Luther, the 
father of the Reformation, is in fact admitted by all candid 
Protestants. We have already seen the testimony which his 
most favored disciple, Melancthon, bears to his brutal conduct 
even towards himself, whenever he timidly ventured to diifer 
from him in opinion. The vile state of bondage in which the 
fierce reformer held his meek disciple is thus graphically 
painted in a confidential letter of Melancthon to his friend 
Camerarius : " I am in a state of servitude, as if I were in 
the cave of the Cyclops : and often do I think of making my 
escape."J Even Dr. Sturges, a most inveterate enemy of 

* We shall have occasion to furnish much additional evidence on this 
subject in our second volume, where we will treat of the Reformation in 
other parts of Europe. 

f Life and Pontificate of Leo X., in 4 vols. 8vo. 

| Epist ad Camerarium. 


Rome, grants that "Luther was in his manners and writings, 
coarse, presuming, and impetuous."* 

The other reformers were little better than Luther in regard 
to charity and toleration. The Protestant bishop Warburton 
gives the following character of all of them: "The other re 
formers, such as Luther, Calvin, and their followers, under 
stood so little in what true Christianity consisted, that they 
carried with them into the reformed churches, that very spirit 
of persecution (!) which had driven them from the Church of 
Rome."f As we shall soon see, the recreant daughters of 
Rome far outstripped their mother in intolerance. We have 
already proved, that it was not persecution, but other causes 
altogether, which drove them from Rome, and consummated 
their schism. Rome had indeed been inflexible on the subject 
of doctrines, upon which she could allow no compromise ; but 
she proceeded towards the reformers with so much mildness 
and moderation, as to have secured the admiration of even 
D Aubigne, whose testimony on the subject we have already 
given. So far was she from persecuting them, that many 
Catholic writers have blamed, as excessive and injudicious, 
the mildness of her Pontiffs, and epecially that of Leo X. and 
Adrian VI. 

From an early period of its history, the Reformation was 
disgraced with the crime of persecution for conscience sake. 
The oldest branch of it, the Lutheran, not only fiercely de 
nounced, and even sometimes excluded from salvation, the 
reformed or Calvinistic branch; but it also endeavored to 
check by violence the fierce discord which raged within its 
own bosom. A learned Lutheran professor, Dr. Fecht, gives 
it as the opinion of his sect, " that all but Lutherans, and 
certainly all the reformed Calvinists were excluded from 
salvation."J The Lutheran Strigel was imprisoned for three 
years by his brother religionists, for maintaining that man 

* Reflections on Popery. f Notes on Pope s Essay on Criticism. 

| See Dr. Pusey s " Historical Inquiry," sup. cit. 


was not a merely passive instrument in the work of his con 
version. Hardenburg was banished from Saxony for having 
been guilty of some leaning towards the Calvinistic doctrines 
on the Eucharist. Shortly after Luther s death, the Lutherans 
were divided into two great sects, the ultra Lutherans and 
the Melancthonians, who mutually denounced each other, and 
even refused to unite in the rites of communion and burial. So 
far was the intolerance growing out of this controversy carried, 
that Peucer, Melancthon s son-in-law, was imprisoned for ten 
years, for having espoused the party of his father-in-law : and 
CracaUj another Lutheran, was plied with the torture for a 
similar offense ! Besides these two great Lutheran sects, there 
were also the Flaccianists and the Strigelians, the Osiandri- 
ans and the Stancarians, and many others, who all persecuted 
one another with relentless fury. Lutheranism was thus, from 
its very birth, a prey to the fiercest dissensions. Verily, they 
claimed and fully exercised the precious liberty of " combat 
ing," so essential, according to D Aubigne, to the Protestant 
idea of religious liberty.* 

The first who dared question the infallibility of Luther was 
the first to feel the heavy weight of his intolerant vengeance. 
Andrew Bodenstein, more generally known by the name of 
Karlstadt, could not agree with him as to the lawfulness of 
images, the real presence, infant baptism, and some other 
topics. He had reached totally different conclusions, by fol 
lowing his own private judgment in expounding the Scrip 
tures. During Luther s absence from Wittenberg, he had 
sought to make proselytes to his new opinions in the very 
citadel of the Reformation. Luther caused him to be driven 
from Wittenberg, and hunted him down with implacable re 
sentment, driving him from city to city of Germany ; till at 
last the unfortunate victim of his intolerance expired a miser 
able outcast at Basle in Switzerland. 

* For more on this subject, see the authorities quoted by Moore. Travels 
of an Irish Gentleman, p. 172, seqq., and 192, seqq. ; to whom we are in 
debted for many of the above quotations. 


When Karlstadt first left Wittenberg, he fled to Orlamunde, 
a city of Saxony, in which he succeeded by intrigue in obtain 
ing the place of pastor. Luther followed him thither ; and 
finding, as we have already seen, that he could not succeed 
in having him ejected from the city by popular clamor, he 
prevailed on his powerful patron, the elector of Saxony, to 
banish him from Saxony. Karlstadt received the sentence of 
his condemnation with a heavy heart. 

" He looked on Luther as the author of his disgrace, and filled Germany 
with his complaints and lamentations. He wrote a farewell letter to his friends 
at Orlamunde. The bells were tolled, and the letter read in the presence 
of the sorrowing church. It was signed : Andrew Bodenstein, expelled by 
Luther, unconvicted, and without even a hearing. "* 

It is in vain for D Aubigne, whose words we have just 
cited, to pretend that this persecution of Karlstadt was not 
brought about by Luther.y The testimony of Karlstadt, and 
of all Germany, to the sympathy of which he appealed, as 
well as the voice of all history, is against this hypothesis. So 
certain was it, that he owed his sufferings to the influence of 
Luther with the elector of Saxony, that, when wearied of his 
wanderings from city to city, he sought repose for his gray 
hairs in his native Saxony, he had only to invoke the sym 
pathy of Luther. The sternness of the Saxon monk relented : 
he permitted Karlstadt to return to the neighborhood of Wit 
tenberg; but only on condition that he should retract his 
errors, and cease to preach .J Karlstadt joyfully accepted the 
humiliating conditions : he resided for some time " in a kind 
of domestic exile at Remberg and Bergwitz two small villa 
ges, whence he could just see the steeples of Wittenberg." 
But he soon forgot his promise : he abandoned the agricul 
tural pursuits in which he had been engaged, and, Bible in 
hand, sought again to disseminate his doctrines. Luther s 

* D Aubigne, vol iii, p. 179. He cites Luther s Epist. ii, 558, edit, de 
Wette. t Ibid. 

I Gustavus Pfizer " Martin Luther s Leiben," Ulenberg, and Ad. Men- 
zel "Neuere Geschichte Deutchen," 1, 269. $ Audin, p. 419. 


spirit of intolerance was again aronsed ; and again was Karl- 
stadt banished, never more to return to Wittenberg. 

There were two other Lutheran theologians who shared his 
fate : Krautwald and Schwenkfeld, who were likewise forced 
to quit Saxony for having rebelled against the authority of 
the Saxon monk. In a letter to these companions in misfor 
tune, Karlstadt draws a lively picture of the distress to which 
he had been reduced by the intolerance of Luther: "I shall 
soon be forced," says he, "to sell all, in order to support my 
self my clothes, my delf, all my furniture. ~No one takes 
pity on me ; and I fear that both I and my child shall perish 
with hunger."* He also addressed a long letter of complaint 
against Luther, to Briick, the chancellor of Saxony :f but it 
was all unavailing. Luther was omnipotent at court, and 
Karlstadt perished in exile ! "Why does D Aubigne conceal 
all these important facts ? We are not at all astonished at it : 
his history is of the same unfair and partial character 

The cruel persecutions of the Anabaptists is another dark 
page in the history of the Reformation. To be sure, these 
sectarists taught many things subversive of all social order : 
such as polygamy and disobedience to all constituted author 
ity. But their chief crimes, in the eyes of Luther and the 
reformers, were their rejection of Luther s authority, their 
pretensions to supernatural lights, and their protest against 
infant baptism, and baptism by any other mode than immer 
sion. A little before the meeting of the diet at Augsburg in 
1534, Rothmann, one of their principal prophets, had openly 
announced his principles in the streets of that city. The 
people were captivated by his bold eloquence, and seduced 
by the novelty of his doctrines. In vain did the preachers 
of reform attempt to argue with this enthusiast, who claimed 
immediate inspiration from heaven. The people cried out, in 
triumph; "Answer Roth maim: Catholics, Lutherans, Zuin- 

* Apud Audin, p. 420. t Ibid. 


glians you are all in the way of perdition. The only path to 
heaven is that pointed out by our master : whoever walks not 
in it, will be involved in eternal darkness."* 

But the Lutherans did not think proper to answer his argu 
ments. Both he and the Zuinglians had prepared a confes 
sion of faith to be presented to the Diet. Luther and Me- 
lancthon succeeded by their influence in preventing them 
from being even heard at the Diet. The former wrote to the 
latter from Coburg in a tone of triumph: "That all was de 
cided ; that the doctrine of Zuingle and of Rothmann was 
diabolical ; and that these sowers of discord, these ravenous 
wolves, who devastated the fold of Christ, should be ban 
ished. ^ At this same Diet, the Lutherans sought for them 
selves, not only liberty of conscience, but churches to worship 
in, and all the privileges of citizenship ; and still they would 
not allow their adversaries even to be heard ! And yet, as 
Audin well remarks, " Rothmann at Augsburg, was precisely 
what Luther had been at Worms."J 

The Lutherans carried out their intolerant principles in 
regard to the Anabaptists. On the 7th of August, 1536, a 
synod was convened at Homburg, to which deputies were 
sent by all the cities who had separated from Rome. The 
chief object of the meeting was to devise means for exter 
minating the Anabaptists. Not one voice was raised in their 
favor. Even Melancthon, whom Audin styles " the Fenelon 
of the Reformation," voted for inflicting the punishment of 
death on every Anabaptist who would remain obstinate in 
his errors, or who would dare return from the place of banish 
ment to which the magistrates might transport him. Fenelon 
would not have been thus intolerant. 

" The ministers of Ulm demanded that heresy should be extinguished by 
fire and sword. Those of Augsburg said : If we have not yet sent any 
Anabaptist to the gibbet, we have at least branded their cheeks with red 
Iron. Those of Tubingen cried out mercy, for the poor Anabaptists, who 

* See Catrou Histoire de 1 Anabaptisme, and Audin, p. 459. 

f Apud Audin, ibid. See the authorities he quotes, ibid, f Ibid., p. 460. 


are seduced by their leaders ; but death to the ministers of this sect. The 
chancellor showed himself much more tolerant : he wished that the Ana 
baptists should be imprisoned, where by dint of hard usage, they might be 

From this synod emanated a decree, from which we will 
present the following extract, as a specimen of Lutheran in- 
tolerence, officially proclaimed : 

"Whoever rejects infant baptism whoever transgresses the orders of the 
magistrates whoever preaches against taxes whoever teaches the com 
munity of goods whoever usurps the priesthood whoever holds unlawful 

assemblies whoever sins against faith shall be punished with death 

As for the simple people who have not preached, or administered baptism, 
but who were seduced to permit themselves to frequent the assemblies of 
the heretics, if they do not wish to renounce Anabaptism, they shall be 
scourged, punished with perpetual exile, and even with death, if they return 
three times to the place whence they have been expelled."f 

Philip, the pious landgrave of Hesse, professed to have 
some scruples of conscience on the severity of this decree r 
he consulted Luther on the subject.J The monk answered 
him in a letter dated from Wittenberg, the Monday after 
Pentecost of the same year. He therein openly defended 
persecution on Scriptural grounds : 

" Whoever denies the doctrines of our faith aye, even one article which 
rests on the Scripture, or the authority of the universal teaching of the 
church (!), must be punished severely. He must be treated not only as a 
heretic, but also as a blasphemer of the holy name of God. It is not neces 
sary to lose time in disputes with such people : they are to be condemned 
as impious blasphemers." 

Towards the close of this letter, speaking of a false teacher, 

* Catrou, ut supra liv. i, p. 224, seqq., and Audin, p. 464. 

| Ibid. See also Gastius, p. 365, seqq. Menzel, ut supra, and Meshovius, 
1. v, cap. xv, xviii, seqq., etc. 

| W. Menzel confirms this. Speaking of the same Diet of Augsburg in 
which the Lutheran confession of faith which bears its name was presented, 
he says, that the landgrave of Hesse suddenly left the meeting, " filled with 
anger at the weakness of his friends in subscribing to the decree, by which 
the disciples of Zuingle were put under the ban of the empire." Hist. Ger 
many, vol. ii, p. 251. 


he says : " Drive him away, as an apostle of hell : and if he 
does not flee, deliver him up as a seditious man to the execu 
tioner."* The landgrave s scruples were quieted, and Lu 
ther s advice was acted on ! 

Such, then, were the tender mercies of the Reformation! 
Such the notions of the reformers on religious liberty ! How 
different were they from those specious principles of univer 
sal liberty by which they had allured multitudes to their 
standard 1 

The other reformers were not a whit better than Luther in 
regard to toleration. D Aubigne himself says, that at Zurich 
fourteen men and seven women ;t were imprisoned on an 
allowance of bread and water in the heretics tower."f True, 
he says, that this was done " in spite of Zuingle s entreaties ;"J 
but he gives no authority whatever for this statement. We 
know that Zuingle was almost omnipotent at Zurich, which 
was to Switzerland, what Wittenberg was to Germany. Had 
he really wished it, he might surely have prevented this cru 
elty. He had indeed complained of Luther s intolerance, 
when he was the victim of its violence. In a German work 
published at Zurich in 1526, he had used this language in 
regard to the course pursued by Luther and his party: 

" See then, how these men, who owe all to the word, would wish now to 
close the mouths of their opponents, who are at the same time their fellow 
Christians. They cry out that we are heretics, and that we should not be 
listened to. They proscribe our books, and denounce us to the magistrates." \ 

But when Ms star culminated, he was as fierce a bigot, 
and as intolerant a tyrant, as those brother reformers whom 
he thus strongly denounced. Did he not die on the field of 
battle, fighting for his peculiar ideas of reform ? And did not 
the Protestants of Switzerland throw the poor Anabaptists 
into the Rhine, inclosed in sacks, and jeer them at the same 

* Luth. Comment, in Psal. 71. Opp. Jenae torn, v, p. 147. Apud Audin, 
p. 465. f D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 307. 

1 Ibid. \ Apud Audin, p. 411. 


time with the inhuman taunt, "That they were merely bap 
tizing them by their own favorite method of immersion."* 

This reminds us of a curious passage in the history of 
early Lutheranism, which we will here give on the authority 
of Florimond Eemond, almost a contemporary historian.! 
Franz Yon Sickengen, the chief actor in the scene we are 
about to present, was a disciple of Luther, who had dedicated 
to him his treatise on confession, written at the "Wartburg, 
in 1521. 

" One day Franz was going from Frankfort to Mayence on the Maine. A 
Jew entered the boat, with whom Franz began to dispute. As he was not 
able to convince him by argument, he took him by the middle of the body, 
and threw him into the river ; for Franz was a man of extraordinary strength. 
Holding his victim suspended over the water by the hair, the following 
dialogue took place : Acknowledge Jesus Christ, or I will drown you. I 
acknowledge him to be my Saviour: dear master, do not harm me! 
Say that you wish to be baptized. Yes, in the name of the Father, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Then Franz took some water, which 
he poured .on the head of the Jew, while at the same time he pronounced 
the sacramental words : I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The poor Israelite now made a great 
effort to rise : he clung to the boat, believing that the time of his deliverance 
had arrived. The knight, however, struck him on the head with his gauntlet, 
saying, Go to heaven, there is one soul more for paradise. Were I to draw 
the wretch out of the water, he would den} - Christ, and go to the devil. 
Luther on this occasion praised the Z3al of Franz !" 

The Calvinists were at least as intolerant as the Lutherans. 
"When the former gained the ascendency in a portion of Ger 
many in which the latter had before been predominant, they 
roused up the people against the sons of the devil, the mild 
and charitable name which they gave the Lutherans. 

* As we have already seen, the Protestant historian of Germany, Wolf 
gang Menzel, bears evidence to this fact, when he says, speaking of the 
Anabaptists : Zuingle declared against them, and caused several of them 
to be drowned (A. D. 1524) ; but was nevertheless regarded by Luther as a 
man who, under the cloak of spiritual liberty (!), sought to bring about 
political changes." Vol. ii, p. 233. 

f " Huttenus delarvatus," p. 405. Apud Audin, p. 200. 
VOL. I. 38 


"They drove them from their posts, of which they took possession. 
What a melancholy thing! More than a thousand Lutheran ministers 
were proscribed, ivith their wives and children, and reduced to beg the 
bread of charity, says Olearius.* Calvinism could not tolerate Lutheran- 
ism. It had appealed to Prince Casimir, and expressed its petition in 
two Latin verses, in which the prince was left to choose, in extinguish* 
ing the rival creed, between the sword, the wheel, the water, the rope, or 
fire ! 

" Casimire potens, servos expelle Lutheri : 
Ense, rota, ponto, funibus, igne neca."f 

So inflexible were the early reformers and their disciples 
on the subject of persecution, that even the emperor of Ger 
many and the authority of the whole Germanic body could 
not restrain their bitter intolerance against all who ventured 
to differ from their own peculiar ideas of reform. Protestants 
were resolved to persecute each other, though a Catholic 
power the highest in the empire interposed and com 
manded peace. The diet of Nurenberg, in 1532, had pro 
claimed a religious amnesty throughout Germany. The 
assembled princes wished to pour oil on the boiling waves 
of controversy, in order to still them : but the waves would 
not be quieted. The heads of the reformed party met at 
Cadan in the following year, and resolved to exclude from 
the peace, published by this diet, the Sacramentarians, the 
Anabaptists, and other heterodox (not Lutheran) sects, whom 
they declared they would not tolerate nor suffer to remain 
in the country. \ 

If Protestants thus ruthlessly persecuted one another, we 
might naturally suppose that they were not more indulgent 
towards the Catholics. We have already proved that the 
Reformation was mainly indebted for its success to system 
atic persecution of the Catholic Church. "Wherever it made 

* D. J. Olearius "In den mehr als 200 Irrthiimer der Calvinisten." 

f Salzer "In seinem Lutherischem Gegen-Bericht " Art. iv, p. 385. 

Schlosser "In der wahrheit," etc., chap, vi, p. 73. Hist., Aug. Confess. 

fol. 206, 207, 274, 275. Apud Audin, p. 330. 

| See Robelot Influence de la Reformation de Luther, p. 71. Sup. cit 


its appearance its progress was marked by deeds of vio 
lence. Like a tornado, it swept every thing before it ; 
and you might as easily trace its course by the ruins it 
left behind. Churches broken open and desecrated 5 altars 
stripped of their ornaments or pulled down ; paintings and 
statues destroyed; the monasteries entered by mobs and 
pillaged of their effects ; Catholic priests, monks, and nuns 
openly insulted and maltreated ; the property of the churches 
and monasteries seized on by violence, after having been 
often pillaged and plundered : these were some of the ruins 
which the Reformation caused ; these the sad trophies which 
it erected to celebrate its triumphs over the Catholic re 
ligion ! 

In most places the Catholic worship was abolished, either 
by open violence, or by the high-handed tyranny of the secu 
lar princes who had embraced the reform. In vain did Lu 
ther in his cooler moments protest against these deeds of 
violence ; he himself, as we have seen, had evoked the storm, 
and he could not calm it; probably he did not even seri 
ously wish this, for generally his language to his followers 
had breathed nothing but violence. This we have already 

It is a remarkable fact, as certain as it is striking, that the 
reformers derived their very name of Protestants from this 
same unquenchable spirit of intolerance ! The diet of Spires 
in 1529 had made an effort to put a stop to the deeds of vio 
lence by which the Reformation had desolated Germany. It 
had published a law, which, among other things of less im 
portance, enjoined that the decree of the diet of Worms in 
1521 should be observed in those places where it had been 
already received ; that where it had not been received, and 
the ancient religion had been changed in despite of it, things 
should continue in statu quo till the meeting of a general 
council, which was to decide on the matters in controversy ; 
that the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass should 
be everywhere free ; and that the princes of the empire should 


mutually observe peace, and should not molest each other on 
the score of religion.* 

In other words, the diet decreed that Catholics and Protest 
ants should enjoy freedom of worship, and that neither should 
molest the other. Had the reformers been really the .advo 
cates of religious liberty, they could have asked no more. 
But they desired something else : their notions of Christian 
liberty were much more enlarged ! They desired freedom to 
pull down the Catholic altars, and to abolish the Catholic 
worship wherever they had the power to do so. Hence, they 
met immediately after the diet, and protested against this 
most equitable decree as " contrary to the truth of the gos 
pel !"f And hence their name of Protestants : a name which 
stamped on their foreheads a brand of intolerance, of which 
they were not ashamed ! J 

A volume might be filled with undoubted facts proving the 
intolerant spirit of the early Protestants of the various na 
tions of Europe against the Catholics. Wherever they ob 
tained the power to do so, they invariably persecuted the 
Catholics by civil disabilities and corporal punishments ; and 
where they had not the power they excited disturbance and 
persecuted them by slander. We know of no exception to 
this remark. Unpalatable as it may appear, it is triumphantly 
established by the facts of history ; and we are not. free to 
change the records of the past to pander to an over delicate 

* See Sleidan ad annum 1529, lib. vi. Also Xatalis Alexander, Hist. 
Ecclesiastica, torn. ix. fol. 79, edit Venitiis, 1778 ; and Lingard, History of 
England Henry VIII. ; and Audin, p. 289. f Ibid. 

\ In his Constitutional History of England, Hallam makes this same 
statement ; p. 64, note. American edit., 1 vol. 8vo. He says : 

" They declared, in the famous protestation of Spire, which gave them the 
name of Protestants, that their preachers having confuted the Mass by pas 
sages from Scripture, they could not permit their subjects to go thither; since 
it would afford a bad example to suffer two sorts of service directly opposite 
to each other in their churches." He quotes Schmidt, Hist, des Allemands, 
71,394; vi, 24. 


and vitiated taste. Out of a mass of evidence bearing on the 
subject, we will select some of the more prominent facts. 

We have already alluded to the overture for peace made 
by the Catholics in the diet of Nurenberg, held in 1532. 
How was it received by the Lutherans? They rejected it 
with indignation, not only in the assembly at Cadan, but also 
through their organ, Urbanus Regius. Hear his language: 

"We must either have peace with the papists that is, we must suf 
fer the destruction of our faith, our rights, our life, and die as sinners or 
we must have peace with Christ, that is to say, be hated by our enemies, 
and live by faith. Which shall we choose ? The rage of the devil, the 
hostility of the world, a struggle with Antichrist, or the protection of heav 
en, and life through Christ ?"* 

Luther openly defended the violence by which the Catholic 
worship had been suppressed, and the monasteries seized upon 
and secularized. He was consulted on the subject, and this 
was his reply : 

" It is said that no violence should be used for conscience sake ; and yet 
have not our princes driven away the monks from their asylum ? Yes : we 
must not oblige any one to believe our doctrine ; we have never done vio 
lence to the consciences of others (!) ; but it would be a crime not to prevent 
our doctrine from being profaned. To remove scandal is not to force the 
conscience. I can not force a rogue to be honest, but I can prevent him 
from stealing. A prince can not constrain a highway robber to confess the 
Lord, but yet he has a gallows for malefactors." 

Strange casuistry! Curious theory of religious liberty! 
He continues: 

" Thus, when our princes were not certain that the monastic life and pri 
vate Masses were an offense to God, they would have sinned had they closed 
the convents ; but after they have been enlightened, and have seen that the 
cloister and the Mass are an insult to the Deity, they would have been cul 
pable had they not employed the power they had received to proscribe 

In the famous convention at Smalkald, in 1536, the Prot 
estant party decided on a recourse to arms to defend them- 

* Seckendorf " Comment, de Luth." lib. iii, p. 22. 
f Luth. Opp. edit Wittenb., ix, 455. 


selves; that is, to be enabled to cany out their favorite plan 
of establishing the Reformation by violence on the ruins of 
Catholic institutions. They proclaimed that " it was an error 
to believe that they ought to tolerate among them those who 
opposed the reform."* In an imperial citation addressed to 
the citizens of Donauwert in 1605, they are reproached with 
having driven from their city, as atrocious malefactors,! those 
of their fellow citizens who had espoused Catholic wives, or 
embraced the Catholic religion.J Again, at a session of the 
famous congress of Westphalia, in March, 164:7, Trautmans- 
dorf openly accused the Protestant party of having driven 
Catholic laymen from their dominions, after having confis 
cated their property. 

This spirit of persecution has been perpetuated, with some 
modifications, even down to the present day. Erasmus had 
remarked of Luther that his savage nature had not been soft 
ened down by the blandishments of matrimony ; and we may 
remark that the fierce intolerance of the early Reformation 
has not been much mitigated by the growing refinement of 
the age ! 

Even as late as the battle of Jena, in 1806, Catholics could 
not own property in Saxony, nor hold public offices, nor enjoy 
any of the rights of citizenship. || This was also the case in 
Prussia ; and in our own days, have we not seen a venerable 
octogenarian, the archbishop of Cologne, violently dragged 
from his palace by a band of soldiers, in the dead hour of 
night, and confined for years in a state prison, by order of 
the king of Prussia, and all this for no other offense than that 
his conscience did not allow him to subscribe to the will of 
his royal master ? 

In the imperial city of Frankfort on the Maine, Catholics 
were not eligible to any municipal offices. As late as the 
20th of October, 1814, no others than Lutherans of the con- 

* See Robelot, ut sup., p. 71. f Atrocissime delinquentes. 

\ Ibid. \ Ibid., p. 72. || Ibid., p. 70. 


fession of Augsburg were eligible to any civil office in the 
free city of Hamburg.* In Sweden it is strictly forbidden 
for any Protestant to embrace the Catholic religion, though 
Catholics are encouraged to become Protestants. No Catho 
lic can there hold any office of trust or emolument. The same 
intolerant laws are in force in Denmark and Norway. In 
these kingdoms, religious persecution, in one form or other, 
has continued even to the present day. In many of the other 
Protestant kingdoms of Germany, the penal laws against 
Catholics were softened down after the Congress of Vienna, 
in 1815, had settled the general peace of Europe. Yet the re 
finement of modern civilization has not been able wholly to 
exorcise the demon of intolerance. It still exists, to a greater 
or less extent in every Protestant country of Europe.f 

But the other day, when the Koman Pontiff nominated a 
bishop to attend to the spiritual wants of a large body of 
Catholics living in the kingdom of Denmark, the government 
organ at Copenhagen republished an old law of the kingdom, 
which made it a capital offense for a Catholic clergyman or 
bishop to cross the border! And when the celebrated De 
Haller embraced the Catholic religion, in 1821, the grand 
council of Berne, in Switzerland, had his name stricken from 
the list of its members, and revived the old law of the canton 
by which no Catholic is eligible to office.f 

In one word, not to multiply facts, Protestants have been 
guilty of persecution in every country of Europe where they 
have had the power, not only against the Catholic Church, 
but against one another : and their intolerance, though greatly 

* See apud Kobelot, ut supra. 

f But the other day, the indignation of all Europe was aroused by the 
banishment from Sweden of several helpless ladies, whose only crime was 
having followed their private judgment and conscience in embracing the 
Catholic religion. Baptists and other Protestant dissenters from Lutherans 
have also shared a similar fate. And this in the middle of the nineteenth 
century ! 

| See apud Robelot, ut supra. 


mitigated, is still even at the present enlightened day far from 
being extinct. 

Catholics also, we must admit, have sometimes persecuted. 
Yet every impartial person must allow that the circumstances 
under which they persecuted were not so aggravated, nor so 
wholly without excuse, as those under which they were them 
selves persecuted by Protestants. The former stood on the 
defensive, while the latter were in almost every instance the 
first aggressors. The Catholics did but repel violence by 
violence, when their property, their altars, and all they held 
sacred, were rudely invaded by the new religionists, under 
pretext of reform. Their acts of severity were often deemed 
necessary measures of precaution against the deeds of lawless 
violence, which everywhere marked the progress of reform. 
They did but seek the privilege of retaining quietly the 
religion of their fathers, which the reformers would fain have 
wrested from them by violence. They were the older, and 
they were in possession.* Could it be expected that they 
would yield without a struggle all that they held most dear 
and most sacred? These were extenuating circumstances, 
which, though they might not wholly justify their intolerance, 
yet greatly mitigated its malice ; while the reformers could 
certainly allege no such pretext in self- vindication. 

Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the Protestant 
governments of Europe is the union in them of church and 
state. This unhallowed union began at the period of the 
Reformation itself; and it subsists, with but slight modifi 
cation, even down to our own days. In Prussia, Sweden, 
Denmark, Holland, and England, the king is at the same 
time the head of the state and of the church established by 
law. It is his province to regulate, in ultimate resort, every 
thing connected with the preaching of the word, the adminis- 

* In the Synod of Dort in 1618, the Gomarists used this very argument 
to justify their persecution of their brother Protestants, the Arminians ! 
(Sess. xvii.) Their possession had been, however, of very recent date. 


tration of the sacraments, and the appointment of bishops 
and pastors. Even in those cantons of Switzerland in which 
the Reformation obtained a footing, the legislative councils 
still claim a right to interfere in spiritual matters; and the 
Catholics of Argovia and other cantons have, not long ago, felt 
the smart of this intolerant interference. 

Every body knows the high-handed measures by which the 
late king of Prussia sought to unite into one " national church 
of Prussia" the two conflicting parties of religionists in his 
kingdom, the Lutherans and Calvinists. This political ma 
neuver, to effect by force a compromise between two warring 
sects, displeased them both, as might have been expected; 
and many of the ejected ministers of both parties, but espe 
cially of the Lutheran, sought shelter from the storm in foreign 
countries, and some of them on our own shores. The entire 
success of this attempt, made by the court of Berlin on the 
religious liberties of Prussia, proves conclusively, that there 
at least the Protestant church is but the creature of the 
state meanly subservient to all its commands. 

Every one also knows, that the persecution of the Catholics 
of Belgium by the Protestant government of Holland led to 
the successful declaration of independence by the former 
government, more than a quarter of a century ago : and that 
after the declaration had been made good, the Belgians elected 
the Protestant Prince Leopold as their sovereign. Can the 
annals of Protestantism afford an example of liberality like 
this? At least, we have never heard of a Protestant com 
munity voluntarily choosing a Catholic sovereign. 

If the Reformation was favorable to religious liberty, why, 
we ask, did it bring about a union of church and state in 
every country where it was established ? Why did it every 
where persecute? It is curious to trace the origin of this 
mean subserviency of the various Protestant sects to the 
princes, under whose auspices they were respectively estab 

The reformers preached up freedom from the alleged 
VOL. i. 29 


tyranny of Home : the people were seduced by this flattering 
appeal to their natural aversion to restraint ; and the Refor- 
mation was thus effected in the manner which we have en 
deavored to unfold. Once freed from the authority of Rome, 
the reformers threw themselves and their partisans, for pro 
tection, into the arms of the secular princes who had espoused" 
their cause ; and these gave them a bear s embrace ! They 
had escaped from an imaginary, they now fell into a real 
bondage. They had gone out of the dark land of Egypt, 
and had returned from the captivity of Babylon : but in the 
land of promise into which they led their exulting hosts of 
disenthralled disciples, they found other Pharaohs and other 
Nabuchadonosors, who lorded it over them with a rod of 
iron ! " And the last state of these men was made worse 
than the first."* 

Luther soon perceived, that the only means of stemming, 
the torrent of innovation, which he had let loose on the world, 
was to give unlimited power to princes in spiritual matters. 
Melancthon earnestly labored to retain the order of bishops ; 
but his unrelenting master could not brook this odious rem 
nant of the Papacy. The result was, as Melancthon had 
foreseen, that for them he substituted other bishops princes 
armed with the power of the sword. These were very far 
from being so scrupulous as had been their Catholic prede 
cessors in the episcopal office ! After having seized and em 
bezzled the property of the Catholic Church, they reigned 
supreme in church and state. They interfered in the minutest 
affairs of church government. It was by the importunities 
of the pious and scrupulous landgrave of Hesse, that Luther 
was induced, against his inclination, to suppress the elevation 
of the Host in the Mass.f Thus, as Audin well remarks, 
" the Reformation which was ushered into Germany by its 
apostles, as a means of forcing the people from the sacerdotal 
yoke, created a pagan monstrosity hierophant and magis- 

* St. Matthew, xii : 45, f Jak. Marx., sup. cit., p. 177. 


trate who with one arm regulated the state, and with the 
other, the church."* 

The Protestant historian of Germany fully admits this. 
After the lines had been pretty well drawn between the 
Catholics and Protestants, the diet of Augsburg laid down 
and established the famous maxim, that in matters of religion 
each prince was supreme in his own dominions. This prin 
ciple was embodied in the Latin motto : GUJUS REGIO, EJUS 
RELIGIO literally, whose region^ his religion ! If this iron 
maxim, plainly destructive of the right of private judgment, 
weighed somewhat heavily on the Protestant subjects of 
Catholic princes, it operated much more oppressively against 
the Catholic subjects of Protestant princes. These were, by 
its action, compelled to abandon their time-honored religion 
at the mere bidding of their prince, whose religious caprices 
thus became the supreme law in religion as in government ! 
In Catholic governments, on the contrary, it operated merely 
as a conservative policy, and it simply checked innovation on 
the established order of things. The maxim itself clearly 
proves that religious liberty, as we now understand the term, 
was very far from the thoughts and ideas of the German 
reformers and of their disciples. 

With these observations we subioin the remarkable passage 


from Menzehf 

" Every obstacle was now removed, and a peace, known as the religious 
peace of Augsburg, was concluded by the diet held in that city, A. D. 1555. 
This peace was naturally a mere political agreement provisionally entered 
into by the princes for the benefit, not of religion, but of themselves. Pop 
ular opinion was dumb, knights, burgesses, and peasants bending in lowly 
submission to the mandate of their sovereigns. By this treaty, branded in 
history as the most lawless ever concerted in Germany, the principle CUJUS 
REGIO, EJUS RELIGIO, the faith of the prince must be that of the people, 
was laid down. By it not only all the reformed subjects of a Catholic 
prince were exposed to the utmost cruelty and tyranny, but the religion of 
each separate country was rendered dependent on the caprice of the reigning 
prince ; of this the Pfalz offered a sad example, the religion of the people 

* Audin, p. 347. f History of Germany, vol. ii, p. 270. 


being thus four times arbitrarily changed. The struggles of nature and of 
reason were powerless against the executioner, the stake, and the sword. 
This principle was, nevertheless, merely a result of Luther s well-known 
policy, and consequently struck his contemporaries far less forcibly than 
after-generations. Freedom of belief, confined to the immediate subjects of 
the empire, for instance, to the reigning princes, the free nobility, and the 
city councilors, was monopolized by at most twenty thousand privileged 
persons, including the whole of the impoverished nobility, and the oligarchies 
of the most insignificant imperial free towns, and it consequently follows, 
taking the whole of the inhabitants of the empire at twenty millions, that, 
out of a thousand Germans, one only enjoyed the privilege of choosing his 
own religion." 

This usurpation of Protestant princes was afterwards again 
legalized, and it became a settled matter of state policy, at 
the congress of Westphalia in 1648, after the close of the 
Thirty Years War. This congress recognized in the Protest 
ant princes of Germany the jus reformandi, or the right to 
reform the churches existing within their dominions, accord 
ing to their own judgment and good pleasure.* Thus, after 
a protracted struggle of more than a hundred years, during 
which oceans of blood had been poured out in the sacred 
name of liberty, Protestantism finally sunk down exhausted 
a degraded slave in the murderous embrace of earthly 
princes ! It was bound hand and foot, and could not move, 
but by the permission of its remorseless master ! 

The reformers were themselves the sole cause of this un 
happy result. They had flattered princes, and had courted 
this very union, to which may be fairly traced the servile 
degradation of the sects they respectively founded. They 
had invoked the power of the sword, not only against Cath 
olics, but also against their brother religionists, who dared 
oppose their own schemes of reformation. They had pro 
claimed, that the right of suppressing heresy "belonged only 
to princes who alone could mow down the cockle with the 
sword."f At the general assembly of the Protestant party 

* Jak. Marx Audin, p. 347. 

f Ott. ad annum, 1536. Gastius, sup. cit, p. 365. Audin, p. 463. 


at Homburg in 1536, the deputies of Lunenburg had said: 
"The magistrate has the power of life and death over the 

Luther himself, in his defense of the enactments of this 
assembly, addressed to the landgrave of Hesse, f had laid 
down this sweeping principle : 

" If then there takes place between Catholics and sectaries, one of those 
discussions in which each combatant advances with a text, it is the duty of 
the magistrate to take cognizance of the dispute, and to impose silence on 
those whose doctrine does not accord with the holy books." Could he con 
sistently blame princes for afterwards tyrannically using the power which 
he himself had vested in them ? 

The history of the union of church and state in Saxony, 
will throw some light on its subsequent establishment in 
other Protestant countries. It was to meet the wishes and 
to carry out the suggestions of Luther, that John, elector of 
Saxony naturally a weak and effeminate prince first inter 
fered in the aifairs of the church. After he had entered, 
however, on his new spiritual functions, his ardent zeal car 
ried him further than the monk had bargained for. 

" He determined to free himself from the domination of the clergy (Pro 
testant) ; and for that purpose found that the most efficacious means was to 
apply at once the reforming theories of Luther to the organization of parishes. 
A commission of ecclesiastics and laymen was accordingly named by the 
elector, who were charged to visit and administer the different districts. It 
was a real revolution. The church lost even its name ; it was turned into a 
pagan temple."! 

Let us also see what is the opinion of the Protestant 
Hallam on the influence of the Keformation on religious 
liberty. He surely is not prejudiced against the reformers, 
as we have already had occasion to see; and his opinion 
must therefore be of great weight with Protestants. We 
have already given some extracts from his latest work, bear- 

* Ott. ad annum, 1536, p. 86. f Referred to above, p. 328. 

I Audin, p. 353. We have above quoted a passage from Menzel, which 
fully confirms this, and even goes further. 


ing indirectly on the present subject. "We add the following 
passages : 

" It is often said that the essential principle of Protestantism, and that for 
which the struggle was made, was something different from all we have 
mentioned; a perpetual freedom from all authority in religious belief, or 
what goes by the name of the right of private judgment. But, to look * 
more nearly at what occurred, this permanent independence was not much 
asserted, and still less acted upon. The Reformation was a change of 
masters; a voluntary one, no doubt, in those who had any choice; and, in 
this sense, an exercise, for the time, of their personal judgment. But no 
one having gone over to the confession of Augsburg or that of Zurich, was 
deemed at liberty to modify these creeds at his pleasure. He might, of 
course, become an Anabaptist or an Arian ; but he was not the less a heretic 
in doing so, than if he had continued in the Church of Rome. By what 
light a Protestant was to steer, might be a problem, which at that time, as ever 
since, it would perplex a theologian to decide : but in practice, the law of the 
land which established one exclusive mode of faith, was the only safe, as, 
in ordinary circumstances, it was, upon the whole, the most eligible (!) 

In another place, speaking of the causes which brought 
about the decline of Protestantism and the reaction of Catho 
licity, he says : 

"We ought to reckon also among the principal causes of this change, 
those perpetual disputes, those irreconcilable animosities, that bigotry, above 
all, and persecuting spirit, which were exhibited in the Lutheran and Cal- 
vinistic churches. Each began with a common principle the necessity of 
an orthodox faith. But this orthodoxy evidently meant nothing more than 
their own belief as opposed to that of their adversaries ; a belief acknowl 
edged to be fallible, yet maintained as certain ; rejecting authority in one 
breath, and appealing to it in the next, and claiming to rest on sure proofs 
of reason and Scripture, which their opponents were ready, with just as 
much confidence, to invalidate."! 

In conclusion, we may observe, that in regard to toleration, 
the Catholic countries of Europe at the present time compare 
advantageously with those which have been enlightened by 
the Reformation for the last three hundred years. There is 
not one Catholic government of Europe which now persecutes 

* "History of Literature," etc., voL i, p. 200. f Ibid., vol. i, p. 278. 


for conscience sake : and on the other hand, there is scarcely 
one Protestant government which does not persecute, in one 
form or other, even at this day ! We have already seen what 
has been, and to a great extent is still, the policy of the latter 
in regard to religious liberty. Our assertion in regard to the 
former, can be easily substantiated. 

Belgium is Catholic, and Belgium allows equal political 
rights to Protestants with Catholics, and is at the same 
time, perhaps, the freest monarchy in Europe. The in 
quisition has been long since abolished in Spain and 
Portugal, and these no longer persecute dissenters. France 
is Catholic, and France not only does not persecute, but 
she protects the Protestant religion, and pays its ministers 
even more than she allows to the Catholic clergy which 
is but equitable, as the former have their wives and families 
to support ! 

Bavaria is Catholic ; and Bavaria allows equal civil rights 
to Protestants as to Catholics. Austria is Catholic ; and Aus 
tria adopts the same equitable policy. Bohemia is Catholic ; 
and Bohemia imitates the example of the other Catholic 
states : and the same may be said of Hungary, which, like 
Bohemia, is a dependency of the Austrian empire. Italy is 
Catholic ; and Protestants have places of worship and public 
cemeteries at the very gates of the eternal city itself. So 
far is this toleration carried, that but a few years since, a 
parson of the church of England, delivered a course of lec 
tures against "popery" at Rome itself; and Dr. Wiseman 
answered them. 

Poland poor bleeding and crushed Poland, was Catholic 
to its very hearts s core ; and Poland was seldom, if ever sul 
lied with persecution. Ireland was ever Catholic ; and Ire 
land never persecuted, though she had it in her power to do 
so at three different times. Finally, it was the Catholic Lord 
Baltimore, and the Catholic colonists of Maryland, who, in 
1648, first proclaimed on this broad continent, as a settled 
law, the great principle of universal toleration, while the 


Puritans were persecuting brother Protestants in New En 
gland, and the Episcopalians were doing the same thing in 
Virginia !* 



" The most striking effect of the first preaching of the Reformation was that it ap 
pealed to the ignorant; and though political liberty .... cannot be reckoned the aim 
of those who introduced it, yet there predominated that revolutionary spirit which 
loves to witness destruction for its own sake, and that intoxicated self-confidence 
which renders folly mischievous." HALLAM."! 

Boasting Theory of government Political liberty Four things guarantied 
Pursuit of happiness The Popes and liberty Rights of property Use 
made of confiscated church property The Attila of the Reformation 
Par nobile fratrum Spoliation of Catholics Contempt of testamentary 
dispositions The jus manuale abolished And restored Disregard of life 
And crushing of popular liberty The war of the peasants Two 
charges made good Grievances of the peasants Drowned in blood 
Remarkable testimony of Menzel Luther s agency therein Halting 
between two extremes Result Absolute despotism Swiss cantons 
D Aubigne puzzled Liberty, a mountain nymph The old mother of 
republics Security to character Recapitulation. 

THE friends of the Reformation have been in the habit of 
boasting, that to it we are indebted for all the free institutions 
we now eHJoy. Before it, there was nothing in the world but 
slavery on the one hand, and reckless despotism on the other : 

* See Bancroft s History of the United States, vol. 1, Maryland. About 
the same time, or perhaps a few years previously, Roger Williams, driven 
into the wilderness by the Puritans of Massachusetts, established the colony 
of Rhode Island, the charter of which granted free toleration, from which, 
however, the Catholics were in all probability excluded, at least until a con 
siderably later period. 

f " History of Literature," vol. i, p. 192. 


after it, came liberty and free government. In school-boy 
orations and Fourth-of- July speeches ; in sermons from the 
pulpit iiind in effusions from the press ; this assertion has been 
reiterated over and again with so much confidence, that many 
persons of sincerity and intelligence have viewed it as founded 
in fact. To such we would beg leave to present the following 
brief summary of evidence bearing on the subject. Let them 
read both sides ; and then will they be able to form an 
enlightened judgment. 

D Aubigne asserts roundly : " The Keformation saved reli 
gion, and with it society."* We have already seen what it 
did for religion : we will now examine what it did for society. 
Did it really save society ; or was society saved in spite of it ? 
To narrow down the ground of the inquiry ; did it really 
contribute by its influence to check political despotism, and to 
protect the rights of the people ? Or, in other words, did it 
develop the democratic principle, and originate free institu 
tions ? Were we to decide according to the measure of its 
boasting, it certainly did this and much more. It had liberty 
forever on its lips : it loudly proclaimed that one great object 
of its mission was to free mankind from a degrading servitude, 
both religious and political. But was its practice in accord 
ance with its loudly boasting theory ? We shall see. 

Political liberty guaranties security to life, to property, to 
character, and to the pursuit of happiness : and it does this 
with the least possible restraint on personal freedom. The 
greater the security to these objects, and the less the restraint 
on individual liberty, the more free and perfect is the system 
of government. A well regulated democracy where the 
people can bear it best corresponds with this theory, and is 
therefore, with the condition just named, the best of all pos 
sible forms of government. And the nearer others approxi 
mate to this standard, the more do they verge to perfection. 
Such are the principles of our political creed : and by them 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 67. 


as a test, we are willing to decide on the influence of the 
Reformation on free government. Did this religious revolu 
tion provide greater security to life, property, honor, and the 
pursuit of happiness, with less restraint to individual liberty 
than had previously existed ? If it did, then was its influence 
favorable to liberty ; if it did not, then, however its advocates 
may boast, its influence was decidedly hostile to true civil 
liberty. We will stand by these principles, which we are 
sure our adversaries will not be disposed to reject, at least in 
this country. 

1. We will begin with the object of government last 
named security to men in the pursuit of happiness. No 
government is free, which does not guaranty this. The high 
est, the most noble, and the only sure way of pursuing happi 
ness, is by the path of religion. Without this, there is, and 
can be, no real or permanent happiness, either in this world 
or in the next. This, we think, will be admitted by all who 
are imbued with the very first principles of Christianity. 
Now, there is manifestly no freedom in this exalted pursuit, 
without the guaranty of religious liberty. Hence, a system, 
which has sapped the very foundations of religious liberty, 
could not guaranty one of the greatest objects of all free gov 
ernments security in the pursuit of happiness. Now, we 
have already proved, that the Reformation did not secure, but 
rather destroyed religious freedom : therefore, the inference is 
irresistible, that it did not tend to promote free government. 

We will pursue this line of argument a little further. The 
Reformation cast off the religious yoke of the Pontiffs and of 
the Catholic Church ; and, in its place, it wore, solidly riveted 
on its neck, that of the princes who had espoused its cause. 
Was the exchange favorable to liberty ? Did the union of 
church and state, which necessarily ensued, secure to Protest 
ants in Germany a greater amount of freedom than they had 
heretofore enjoyed ? The Pope was far off, and he generally 
interposed his authority only in spiritual matters, or in great 
emergencies of the state : the princes, who succeeded to his 


authority, were present, and they interfered in every thing, 
both in church and state. They were in fact supreme in 
both. When they chose to play the tyrant, who was to 
oppose their will ? 

The reformed party were powerless : they had given up 
themselves, bound hand and foot, into the power of their 
princes. The voice of the Roman Pontiffs, which had hitherto 
thundered from the Vatican, and stricken terror into the heart 
of tyranny, was now also powerless : the reformers themselves 
had drowned that voice in the maddening clamor of their op 
position to the Pope. What resource had they left to meet 
and repel royal tyranny ? They had themselves, of their own 
accord, rendered powerless the only arm which could protect 
them, or redress their grievances. 

The time has gone by, for men of sense and intelligence to 
clamor against the tyranny of the Roman Pontiffs. Protest 
ants themselves are beginning to view these much abused 
men in a more favorable light than they did heretofore. They 
no longer paint them as the unmitigated tyrants who lorded 
it over the world for their own selfish purposes and unhal 
lowed ambition ; but as the saviours of Europe, and the pro 
tectors of its political rights trodden in the dust by tyrants. 
Such Protestants writers as Guizot, Voigt, Ranke, Pusey, and 
Bancroft, have done at least a measure of justice to the Popes. 

The last named says, speaking of Pope Alexander III., who 
lived, A. D. 1167: He, 

" True to the spirit of his office, which during the supremacy of brute force 
in the middle age, made of the chief minister of religion the tribune of the 
people and the guardian of the oppressed, had written, that nature having 
made no slaves, all men have an equal right to liberty. "* 

We might quote many similar acknowledgments made by 
Protestant writers : but the fact we have asserted will scarcely 
be questioned, and we may refer in general to the works of the 
writers mentioned above for evidence in its support. Nothing 

* History of the United States, vol. i, p. 163. 


is, in fact, more certain than that the Popes of the middle 
ages labored assiduously to maintain the rights of the people 
against the tyranny of their princes. Whenever they struck 
a blow, it was generally aimed at tyranny, and well calculated 
to raise up the lower orders in the scale of society. The op 
pressed of every nation found a willing and a powerful advo 1 
cate in Rome. "When the Roman Pontiffs threw around the 
people the broad shield of their own protection, it was more 
effectual towards their defense against the tyranny which had 
ground them in the dust, than had been the eagles which had 
perched on the Roman standard of old. For Germany par 
ticularly, the deposing power, claimed by the Popes of the 
middle ages, was a broad aegis thrown around the liberties of 
its people. When was that power ever exercised, but in be 
half of the poor, the crushed, and the bleeding ? And when 
was it evoked except against tyranny and an oppression no 
longer tolerable, or remediable by any other means? We 
know of few, if of any cases of its exercise, except under such 
circumstances as these. 

What would have become of the liberties of Europe in 
that period of anarchy and tyranny, but for the exercise of 
papal power ? No other authority was available : because no 
other voice would have been heard or respected, amidst the 
general din of war and the confusion of the times. And by 
destroying that authority, the reformers broke down the most 
effectual barrier against tyranny, and destroyed the greatest 
security to popular rights. 

2. But perhaps the Reformation provided greater security 
for the rights of property, than had been made in the good 
old Catholic times ? We have seen how the Protestant princes 
seized upon and alienated the vast property of the Catholic 
Church. They diverted it from its legitimate channels, and 
generally embezzled it for their own private uses. Neither 
the public treasury nor the people profited much by this sac 
rilegious invasion of church property : it was generally spent 
in profligacy. 


True, the Protestant princes, who became the heads of the 
reformed churches, promised, in some places, to employ at 
least a portion of the immense property thus seized on by 
violence, for the establishment of public schools and hospitals. 
But this promise was never carried into eifect, at least to any 
great extent. Thus, in Sweden, a great portion of the church 
property was given to the nobles, as a reward for their co-ope 
ration with the monarch Gustavus Wasa in carrying out 
his favorite project of reform: another large portion was an 
nexed to the crown ; and the miserable remnant was doled 
out, with a niggardly hand, for the support of the episcopal 
body which was there retained of the inferior clergy, and 
of the charitable and literary institutions.* In Denmark, the 
monarch and the nobility shared the spoils. f 

In Germany, the avarice of the nobility swallowed up 
almost every thing, which had escaped the grasp of the per 
jured monks, or the pillage of the infuriated mobs. We 
have already seen, how Luther himself lashed them, with his 
withering eloquence, for their sacrilegious avarice, which had 
left almost nothing of the ample patrimony of the Church, 
for the support of the reformed preachers and their wives ! 
We shall see, in the sequel, how he rebuked their parsimony, 
in not erecting and supporting public schools. 

The ejected Catholic monks and clergy were reduced to 
beggary, and had no alternative left, but to starve, or to ob 
tain a livelihood at the price of apostasy. Alas ! too many 
of them adopted the latter alternative ! John Hurd, a coun 
selor of the elector of Saxony, whose authority is cited by 
Luther in his appeal against the avarice of the princes, asserts 
that the Protestant nobility had squandered in licentiousness, 
not only the goods of the monasteries on which they had 
seized, but also their own private patrimony so sadly de 
moralized had they become.J 

* See Kobelot, sup. cit., p. 177. 

f Ibid. We shall treat of this subject at some length in our second vol 
ume. \ Ibid., p. 178. 


Many of these marauding princes were not content with 
the pillage of the church property within their own territory, 
but sallied forth with an armed band to devastate that of 
their neighbors. We have already adverted to the memorable 
exploits of many German princes in this way, and have seen 
how gallantly their armed bands put to flight whole troops 
of cowled monks and helpless women, in order to seize on 
their property ! We have seen the excursion of the apostate 
Albert of Brandenburg, at the head of ten thousand armed 
men, into the territory of the Prince Bishop of : and 
how their sacrilegious devastations there were like those of an 
army of Huns. 

This man, viewed by B Aubigne as a saint, but more prop 
erly called by his contemporaries, " the Attila of the Refor 
mation,"* established a temporal principality, and laid the 
foundation of the present kingdom of Prussia, by his success 
ful invasion and gigantic pillage of property belonging to 
much better men than himself. He not only appropriated to 
his own private use the vast property belonging to the Teu 
tonic Order, of which he was the general ; but he also, by the 
same lawless means, annexed to his territory all eastern Prus 
sia. He was as treacherous and unprincipled, as he was 
avaricious and lawless. To promote the purposes of his am 
bition, he passed from the camp of Henry II., to that of the 
Catholic Charles Y. ; and though the treaty of Passau had 
guarantied to the Lutherans of the Confession of Augsburg 
the free exercise of their religion, he, at the head of his troops, 
ravaged the territories of the Protestant princes thus reck 
lessly sacrificing friends as well as enemies ! The Reforma 
tion is welcome to all the credit its cause may derive from 
such saints as he and the landgrave of Hesse. Yet these 
two men were among its chief supports, and brightest orna 
ments ; and their glory is intimately blended with that of the 

* See Robelot, sup. cit., p. 206. 


Bayle says to the reformed party, with caustic truth : " You 
forget every thing, when it is question of your interests."* 
The League of Smalkald, noticed above, had for one of its 
principal objects, to protest against the decisions of the im 
perial courts, which had not granted entire liberty to the 
Protestant princes to pillage at will the property of the 
Catholics ! It is a remarkable fact, that most of the criminal 
prosecutions commenced in these courts were directed against 
the lawless violence of the Protestant nobility, and especially 
of the noted landgrave of Hesse.f Catholics could not be 
secure in their property, and even the protection of the em 
peror was unavailing for this purpose in those times of lawless 
depredation and gospel zeal ! 

And be it remembered, that Catholics still formed the 
great body of the Germanic empire. Thus the Reformation 
succeeded in depriving, to a great extent, of their most sacred 
rights, the vast majority of the people. Was this course 
favorable to liberty, which is a mere name, without security 
to property ? The truth seems to be, that the reformed party 
were so much attached to liberty, that they wished to monopo 
lize it altogether, and have it all for themselves. No one else 
was deemed worthy to enjoy the precious boon ! 

But, perhaps, the most mischievous influence of the Refor 
mation on the rights of property, was its reckless disregard 
of testamentary dispositions. The property which the Pro 
testant princes thus seized on and alienated, had been most 
of it accumulated from pious bequests, made for special 
church and charitable purposes, by men on their death-beds. 
What right had the reformed party to interfere with these 
testamentary dispositions? What right had they to divert 
the property thus created, from the channels in which the 
abiding Catholic feeling of respect for the dead had caused it 
to flow for centuries? What right had they, above all, to 

* (Euvres, torn. ii. p. 621. La Haye, 1727. 
f See Ilobelot, ut supra, p. 205, note, 


squander, and to appropriate to their own unhallowed pur 
poses, wealth which had been hitherto applied, bj the express 
will of those who had bequeathed it, to religious and charitable 
objects ? 

And what security was there any longer left for the rights 
of property, when even the sanctity of last wills and testa 
ments was thus recklessly disregarded and trampled upon ? 
Had those charitable men of the good old Catholic times 
been able to rise up from their tombs, how they would have 
rebuked this sacrilegious alienation of the property they had 
left! True, some stop was put to this unhallowed wholesale 
sequestration of church property by the treaty of 1555; in 
which such property was declared sacred, and last wills 
were pronounced inviolable; and Robertson, the historian 
of Charles V., tells us, that, at this treaty, the Protestant 
princes themselves, after having at first opposed the article 
which checked their lawless violence, withdrew at length 
their objections, and acquiesced in its equity.* But the 
mischief had already been done, and they had already fat 
tened on the spoils of the Church! Their forbearance was 
therefore not very wonderful, under the circumstances. 

But for the tumults caused by the Reformation, the rights 
of property would, in all probability, have been permanently 
settled throughout Germany, at the close of the fifteenth cen 
tury. The frequent depredations committed by the feudal 
chieftains of the middle ages on the property of each other 
and of their vassals, had been already effectually checked by 
the Emperor Maximilian, in an imperial law passed in 1495. 
This law of the empire abolished altogether what was called 
the jus manuale or the right claimed by many lawless 
feudal sovereigns to take by force whatever they could lay 
their hands on ; and it established an imperial court of adju 
dication, in which all points of contested jurisdiction were to 
be definitely settled, and all grievances from violations of the 

* History of Charles V., 1. xi. Cited by Robelot, p. 181. 


law to be redressed. Germany enjoyed a profound peace for 
many years after the enactment of this wise law: men 
breathed more freely; might and right were no longer 
synonymous terms ; the rights of property were re-estab 

But this peace was, alas ! of but short duration. It was a 
calm, which preceded an awful storm. The violent preaching 
of Luther against emperors, princes, and bishops, aroused 
again into full activity the dormant passions of the lower 
orders. Hence the dreadful war of the peasants, with all its 
appalling horrors, its effusion of blood, and the desolation 
with which it afflicted Germany. Seven years only had 
elapsed since the commencement of the Keformation ; and 
the confusion of the middle ages returned. The rights of 
property, of life, and of liberty were again ruthlessly trampled 
under foot with impunity. "Wholesale sacrilege, unheard of 
in the Catholic middle ages, now became the order of the day. 
Robbery began with the house of God ! The years 1524 and 
1525 were awful years for Germany. The princes of the 
empire availed themselves of the general disorder, to commit 
all manner of excesses. No man s property, or liberty, or 
life was any longer safe. The tree planted by Luther at Wit 
tenberg was bearing its bitter first fruits ! 

3. The history of this war of the peasants sheds so much 
additional light upon the influence of the Reformation on the 
rights of the lower orders and the liberty of the people, that 
we will be pardoned for dwelling on it at some length. Our 
limits will however allow only a brief summary of the more 
prominent facts, and a rapid sketch of the leading features 
of that eventful struggle. It will be seen from this brief ex 
amination that the Reformation provided no security what 
ever, either for personal liberty, or for life itself. 

We deliberately charge on the Reformation two things : 
1st, that it stimulated the peasants to revolt ; 2dly, that it 

* For a luminous view of this, see Robelot, ut sup., p. 200, 201. 
VOL. I. 30 


used its powerful influence to crush that revolt by force, and 
to drown the voice of the poor peasants, crying out for redress 
of grievances, in their blood ! The result of the rebellion, thus 
stifled in their blood, was a weakening of the democratic 
principle, and a strengthening of the arm of power. At the 
close of the dreadful struggle, liberty lay crushed and bleed 
ing, and despotism, armed with all its iron terrors, was trium 
phant. We hope to make good these assertions by undeniable 
facts and unexceptionable evidence. 

A Protestant historian of Germany, Adolphus Menzel, 
candidly admits that Luther s doctrines were calculated to 
sow the seeds of sedition among the lower orders.* The 
violent appeal he had made to the people against the emperor 
and the princes of the empire, at the close of the diet of Nu- 
renberg, in 1522 two years before the revolt of the peasants 
was, in fact, nothing else but an open call to rebellion.! 
His words fell, like burning coals, on the inflammatory mate 
rials which then abounded in Germany. The standard of 
revolt was everywhere raised : and on it was inscribed the 
talismanic word LIBERTY. Far from wishing to extinguish it, 
Luther fanned the flame with his breath. When the insur 
rectionary movements were reaching his own Saxony, he 
addressed a pamphlet to the German nobility, in which he 
sided with the peasants, and openly charged the princes with 
being the cause of the revolt. 

He cried out: 

" On you rests the responsibility of these tumults and seditions ; on you, 
princes and lords, on you especially, blind bishops and senseless priests and 
monks ! You, who persist in making yourselves fools, and opposing the 
gospel, although you know that it will triumph, and that you shall not pre 
vail How do you govern ? You only know how to oppress, to destroy, 
and to plunder, for the purpose of maintaining your pomp and pride. The 
people and the poor have got enough of you. The sword is raised over 
your heads, and yet you believe yourselves so firmly seated, that you can 

* "Neuere Geschichte der Deutchen " Tom. 1, p. 169. 
f See extracts from this writing in Audin, p. 285, seqq. 


not be overthrown My good sirs, it is not merely the peasants who 

rise up against you ; it is God himself who comes to chastise your tyranny. 
A drunken man must have a bed of straw ; a peasant will require some 
thing softer. Go not to war with them; you do not know how the affair 
will terminate."* 

This was an appeal worthy of an apostle of liberty it was 
seized up with avidity by Miinzer and the other leaders of 
the revolt : all Germany was in arms. How soon did Luther 
change his note, and preach up the extermination of these 
same peasants by fire and sword ! Before we show this, how 
ever, we must first see what were the principal grievances 
of which the peasants complained, and what were their de 

There is no doubt, that there was much fanaticism, and 
much extravagance in the whole insurrectionary movement 
of the peasants : but there is as little doubt, that most of their 
claims were founded in strict justice. Chrystopher Scliapp- 
ler, a Swiss priest, drew up their manifesto, in which they 
demanded, among other things of less moment : " That they 
should pay tithes only in corn that they should no longer 
be treated as slaves, since the blood of Jesus had redeemed 
them that they should be allowed to fish and to fowl, since 
God had given them, in the person of Adam, dominion over 
the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air that they might 
cut in the forest wood for fuel and for building that the 
labor should be diminished that they should be permitted 
to possess landed property that the taxes should not exceed 
the value of the property that the tribute to the nobles, after 
the death of a father of a family, might be abolished, so that 
his widow and orphans might not be reduced to beggary 
and finally, that if these grievances were not well founded, 
they might be disproved from the word of God."* 

* See Audin, p. 309, 310. 

f Catrou Histoire du Fanatisme, torn. 1. Menzel, torn. 1, apud Audin, 
p. 311-2. See also Robertson s Charles V., in one vol. 8vo., American edit. 
p. 205-6. We will give the more detailed account of Menzel a little further 
on. There are two Menzels, Wolfgang and Adolf we refer to the former. 


How was this declaration of grievances met by the re 
formed party ? If they were really the friends of liberty, 
they would at once have recognized the justice of most of 
these demands, and would have urged the princes to grant 
them. At least consistency, if not justice, required that Lu 
ther should have adopted this course. And yet he the same 
Luther, whom we have just heard rebuking the tyranny of 
the princes, and justifying, nay, urging forward the peasants 
in their revolt the very same man now changed his tactics, 
and loudly clamored for the blood of the peasants ! He met 
their challenge, in which they had triumphantly appealed to 
the Scriptures for their justification, and wrote a labored 
treatise to prove, from the word of God, that they were in 
the wrong ! 

In this reply to their statement of grievances, he said : 

" I know that Satan, under pretext of the gospel, conceals among you 
many men of a cruel heart, who incessantly calumniate me ; (was this the 
reason why he abandoned their cause ?*). But I despise them : I do not dread 
their rage. You tell me that you will triumph ; that you are invincible. 
But can not God, who destroyed Sodom, overcome you ? You have taken 
up the sword ; you shall perish by the sword. In resisting your magis 
trates, you resist Jesus Christ." 

He then goes on to answer, from the Scriptures, their de 
mands, one by one. Bible in hand, he defends tithes and 
even the enslaving of the poor peasants, who had demanded 
to be free : 

11 You wish to emancipate yourselves from slavery : but slavery is as old 
as the world. Abraham had slaves, and St. Paul establishes rules for those 
whom the laws of nations reduced to that state." As if conscious of his 
own treachery and utter inconsistency, he winds up his reply with these words : 
" On reading my letter, you will shout and exclaim, that Luther has become 
the courtier of princes : but before you reject, at least examine my advice. 
Above all, listen not to the voice of those new prophets who delude you. 
I know them."* 

What a change ! As Luther had anticipated, the peasants 
accused him, with justice, of perfidy to them, and of mean 

* Apud Audin, p. 312, 313. 


sycophancy to princes. To prove the perfidy, Miinzer read 
to the assembled multitudes an extract from Luther s violent 
appeal against " the ecclesiastical order falsely so called,"* in 
which he had said: 

" Wait, my lord bishops, yea, rather imps of the devil ; Doctor Martin 
Luther will read for you a bull, which will make your ears tingle. This is 
the Lutheran bull whoever will aid with his arms, his fortune, or his life, 
to devastate the bishops and the episcopal hierarchy, is a good son of God, a 
true Christian, and observes the commandments of the Lord." 

In his answer to Prierias, which it appears Miinzer had 
not seen, Luther had employed this terrible language : 

"If we hang robbers on the gallows, decapitate murderers, and burn 
heretics, why should we not wash our hands in the blood of those sons of 
perdition, those cardinals, those popes, those serpents of Rome, and of 
Sodom, who defile the church of God ?"f 

Luther s interposition in favor of order came too late : and 
it lost all its force by the manifest treachery and inconsistency 
with his previous declarations. The struggle went on; the 
hostile armies met on the memorable field of Frankhausen: 
the confederated princes were triumphant, and the peasants 
were butchered like sheep. Their prophet Miinzer fell mor 
tally wounded : he embraced again the Catholic faith, and to 
his last breath accused Luther of having been the cause of 
all his misfortunes ! J 

" Such was the end of the war of the peasants. In the short time in 
which they were permitted to afflict society, it is estimated that more than a 
hundred thousand men fell on the field of battle, seven cities were dis 
mantled, fifty monasteries razed to the ground, and three churches burned 
not to mention the immense treasures of painting and sculpture, of stained 
glass and of beautifully written manuscripts which were annihilated. Had 
they triumphed, Germany would have relapsed into barbarism : literature, 
arts, poetry, morality, faith, and authority, would have been buried under 

* " Contra falso nominatum ordinem ecclesiasticum." Luth. Opp., ed. 
Wittenb., ii, fol. 120, seqq. 

f Osiander (a Protestant) Cent. 161, etc., p. 109. Audin, p. 213. 

I For a graphic description of this whole struggle, see Audin, p. 315, 


the same rum. The rebellion which Luther had caused, was the daughter 
of disobedience : her father, however, knew how to chastise her. If there 
was innocent blood shed, let it be on his head. For, says the reformer, 
it is I who have shed it, by order of God ; and whoever has perished in 
this combat, has lost both soul and body, and is eternally damned. "* 

The voice of all history proclaims, that Luther was the, 
cause of the insurrection of the peasants, and of their subse 
quent slaughter. Even Protestant contemporary historians 
have accused him of all this. Osiander says : " Poor peasants, 
whom Luther flattered and caressed, while they were content 
with attacking the oishops and the clergy! But when the 
revolt assumed another aspect, and the insurgents mocked at 
his bull, and threatened him and his princes then appeared 
another bull, in which he preached up the slaughter of the 
peasants as if they were so many sheep. And when they 
were killed, how, think you, did he celebrate their funeral? 
By marrying a nun I" This reminds us of Erasmus beautiful 
remark given above, that w T hile Luther was reveling in his 
nuptials, " a hundred thousand peasants were descending to 
the tomb!" 

Hospinian, another Protestant writer, says, addressing 
Luther: "It is you who excited the peasants to revolt."f 
Memno Simon, another Protestant, asserts the same thing. J 
Cochlseus, a Catholic historian of the time, estimates the 
number of the slaughtered peasants at one hundred and fifty 
thousand ; and says : " On the day of judgment, Miinzer and 
his peasants will cry out before God and his angels, ven 
geance on Luther ! " 

* Tisch Reden, edit. Eisleb., p. 276. Luth. Opp., edit. Jense. Tom. iii, 
foL 130. Audin, p. 318. 

t " Historia Sacramentar." pars 2, fol. 200. J Lib. de cruce. 

Cochlseus Defensio Ducis Georgii, p. 63, edit. Ingolstadt, an. 1545, in4to. 

Wolfgang Menzel estimates the number of the slaughtered peasants at 
one hundred thousand ! He says : " Thus terminated this terrible struggle, 
during which more than one hundred thousand of the peasantry fell, and 
which reduced the survivors to a more degraded state of slavery." History 
of Germany, vol. ii, p. 244. Bonn s edition. 


And have we not heard Luther himself boldly avowing his 
agency in the whole transaction, and even boasting of it, with 
a kind of fiendish exultation ? Had he not recommended the 
princes to have no pity on the peasants, and threatened them 
with the indignation of God, if they poured oil on their bleed 
ing wounds ?* Had he not said : " Give the peasants oats ; 
and if they grow strong-headed, give them the stick and the 
cannon ball?"f 

The unexceptionable Protestant historian of Germany, 
whom we have just quoted, furnishes the following fuller 
account of the revolt of the peasants, of the detailed griev 
ances for which they sought redress, and of Luther s agency 
in having them cruelly butchered, for no other crime than 
their having dared ask for a very moderate share of popular 
liberty : 

" The peasantry discovered extreme moderation in their demands, which 
were included in twelve articles, and elected a court of arbitration consisting 
of the Archduke Ferdinand, the elector of Saxony, Luther, Melancthon, and 
some preachers, before which their grievances were to be laid. 

" The twelve articles were as follows : 1. The right of the peasantry to 
appoint their own preachers, who were to be allowed to preach the word of 
God from the Bible. 2. That the dues paid by the peasantry were to be 
abolished, with the exception of the tithes ordained by God for the mainte 
nance of the clergy, the surplus of which was to be applied to general pur 
poses and to the maintenance of the poor. 3. The abolition of vassalage as 
iniquitous. 4. The right of hunting, fishing, and fowling. 5. That of cut 
ting wood in the forests. 6. The modification of socage and average service. 
7. That the peasant should be guarantied from the caprice of his lord by a 
fixed agreement. 8. The modification of the rent upon feudal lands, by 
which a part of the profit would be secured to the occupant. 9. The admin 
istration of justice according to the ancient laws, not according to the new 
statutes and to caprice. 10. The restoration of communal property, illegally 
seized. 11. The abolition of dues on the death of the serf, by which the 
widows and orphans were deprived of their right. 12. The acceptance of 
the aforesaid articles, or their refutation as contrary to the Scriptures. 

" The princes naturally ridiculed the simplicity of the peasantry in deem- 

* Epist. Nich. Amsdorf, 30 Maii, 1525. 

f Epist. to Ruhel, edit, de Wette, torn, ii, p. 669. 


ing a court of arbitration, in which Luther was to be seated at the side of the 
archduke, possible, and Luther himself refused to interfere in their affairs. 
Although free from the injustice of denying the oppressed condition of the 
peasantry, for which he had severely attacked the princes and nobility, he 
dreaded the insolence of the peasantry under the guidance of the Anabap 
tists and enthusiasts, whom he viewed with deep repugnance, and, conse 
quently, used his utmost endeavors to quell the sedition ; but the peasantry 
believing themselves betrayed by him, gave way to greater excesses, and 
Thomas Munzer openly accused him of deserting the cause of liberty, and 
of rendering the Reformation a fresh advantage for the princes, a fresh means 
of tyranny. 

" The whole of the peasantry in southern Germany, incited by fanatical 
preachers, meanwhile revolted, and were joined by several cities. Karlstad t, 
expelled from Saxony, now appeared at Rotenburg on the Tauber ; and the 
Upper German peasantry, inflamed by his exhortations to prosecute the 
Reformation independently of Luther, whom he accused of countenancing 
the princes, rose in the March and April of 1525, in order to maintain the 
twelve articles by force, to compel the princes and nobles to subscribe to them, 
to destroy the monasteries, and to spread the gospel. Mergentheim, the seat 
of the unpopular German Hospitallers, was plundered 

" This atrocious deed drew a pamphlet from Luther against the furious 
peasantry, in which he called upon all the citizens of the empire to strangle, 
to stab them, secretly and openly, as they can, as one would kill a mad dog. * 
The peasantry had, however, ceased to respect him." 

Such, then, were the tender mercies of the Reformation ! 
Such its regard for the lower orders ! Such its political code ! 
The poor peasants were first stimulated to take up arms to 
secure their freedom, and then butchered by tens of thou 
sands ! In their tomb was buried whatever of liberty re 
mained in Germany. The princes became omnipotent: the 
revolt once crushed, no one dared any longer to raise his 
voice in defense of freedom ! 

The Reformation had halted for a brief space between two 
dreadful extremes : that of absolute and uncontrolled despot 
ism on the one hand, and that of dreadful anarchy on the 
other. It at first favored the latter, but soon it threw the 

* " Casper von Schwenkfeld said : Luther has led the people out of Egypt 
(the Papacy) through the Red Sea (the peasant war), but has deserted them 
in the wilderness. Luther never forgave him." Menzel, ibid. 


whole weight of its powerful influence into the scales of the 
former. The result has been, what might have been expected, 
absolute despotism and union of church and state in every 
country of Germany, where the Reformation obtained a solid 
footing ! Had the reformers been really the friends of human 
ity and of liberty ; had they urged the princes to redress the 
just grievances of the peasants ; the issue of that struggle would 
have been very different. The lower orders would have been 
raised in the scale of society, and free institutions, which have 
not blessed Germany since the days of Luther, would have 
been established on a solid and permanent basis. 

One of the most famous Protestant historians of the day, 
Guizot, once prime minister of France, tells us, in his Lectures 
on Civilization in Modern Europe: "that the emancipation 
of the human mind (by the Reformation !), and absolute mon 
archy triumphed simultaneously throughout Europe."* All 
who have but glanced at the political history of Europe, in 
the sixteenth century, must at once see the truth of this start 
ling remark. In the Protestant kingdoms of continental 
Europe, this rule suffers no exception : in all of them, absolute 
monarchy, in its most consolidated and despotic form, dates 
precisely from the period of the Reformation.! 

Witness Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and, we may add, En 
gland : for it is certain, that for one hundred and fifty years 
following the Reformation in England, the liberties of the 
people were crushed ; the privileges secured by the Catholic 
Magna Charta were wantonly trampled under foot ; and the 
royal prerogative almost swallowed up every other element 
of government. It was only at the period of the revolution, 
in 1688, that the principles of the great Catholic Charter were 

* Page 300 of Lectures, etc., American edit., 1 vol. 12mo. 

f In the year 1848 some ameliorations were obtained or promised, but 
they were generally of a transient character. Even in Sweden, of whose 
popular institutions we sometimes hear or read, the Lutheran religion^ is 
firmly established by law, and a union of church and state in its very worst 
form exists, even down to the present day. 
VOL. I. 31 


again feebly asserted, and partially restored to their proper 
influence in the government.* 

In Catholic countries, the necessity of strong measures of 
precaution against the seditions and tumults occasioned by 
the Reformation in every place where it had made its appear-^ 
ance, necessarily tended to strengthen the arm of the execu 
tive : and in the general ferment of the times, the people 
willingly resigned most of the civil privileges they had en 
joyed during the middle ages, in order, by increasing the 
power of their rulers, the more effectually to stem the torrent 
of innovation, and to avert the threatened evils of anarchy. 
Thus the political tendency of the Reformation, both directly 
and indirectly, favored the introduction of absolute systems 
of government throughout Europe. 

And thus do we clearly owe to the " glorious Reformation," 
the despotic governments, the vast standing armies, and we 
may add, the immense public debts and the burdensome tax 
ation, of most of the European governments. Guizot s asser 
tion is then well founded, both in the principles of political 
philosophy, and f in the facts of history. We may however 
remark, that it was a strange " emancipation of the human 
mind" truly, which thus avowedly led to the "triumph of 
absolute monarchy throughout Europe!" 

It would seem that Switzerland at least was an exception 
to Guizot s sweeping assertion ; as absolute monarchy never 
was established in its cantons, even after the Reformation. 
But the reader of Swiss history will not fail to observe, that 
wherever Protestantism was established in that country, there 
the democratic principle was weakened, there the legislative 
councils unduly interfered in spiritual matters, and there des 
potism thus often triumphed in the much abused name of 
liberty. Those cantons of Switzerland precisely are the freest, 

* See an able essay on this subject in Nos. xv, xviii, xix, of the Dublin 
Keview, "On Arbitrary Power, Popery, Protestantism;" republished in a 
neat 12mo volume by M. Fithian, Philadelphia, 1842. pp. 251. 


which have remained faithful to the Catholic religion. In 
them, you read of no persecution of Protestants for conscience 
sake, of no attempts to unite church and state, and of little 
departure in any respect from the original Catholic charter 
of Swiss liberties. It is a remarkable fact, that the three 
cantons which first asserted Swiss liberty those of Schweitz, 
Uri, and Unterwald have all continued faithful to the Cath 
olic Church, as well as to the good old principles of democ 
racy bequeathed to them by the Catholic founders of their 

D Aubigne admits, and he is sadly puzzled to account for, 
this stern adherence of the oldest and freest Swiss cantons to 
the Catholic faith. He explains it in his own characteristic 
way, by appealing to the inscrutable ways of the Providence 
of God ! He says : 

" But if the Helvetic towns, open and accessible to ameliorations, were 
likely to be drawn early within the current of the Reformation, the case was 
very different with the mountain districts. It might have been thought 
that these communities, more simple and energetic than their confederates 
in the towns, would have embraced with ardor a doctrine, of which the char 
acteristics were simplicity and force ; but He who said at that time two 
men shall be in the field, the one shall be taken and the other left saw fit to 
leave these mountaineers, while he took the men of the plain. Perhaps an 
attentive observer might have discerned some symptoms of the difference, 
which was about to manifest itself between the people of the town and the 
hills. Intelligence had not penetrated to those hights. Those cantons 
which had founded Swiss liberty, proud of the part they had played in the 
grand struggle for independence, were not disposed to be tamely instructed 
by their younger brethren of the plain. Why, they might ask, should they 
change the faith in which they had expelled the Austrians, and which had 
consecrated by altars all the scenes of their triumphs ? Their priests were 
the only enlightened guides to whom they could apply ; their worship and 
their festivals were occupation and diversion for their tranquil lives, and 
enlivened the silence of their peaceful retreats. They continued closed 
against religious innovations."* 

Sure enough: why should they change the religion which 
had sealed their liberties with its divine sanction, and the 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 82, 83. 


principles and the worship of which were so closely inter- 
k woven with their most cherished patriotic reminiscences ? 
"Intelligence had not penetrated to those hights," indeed 1 
Those mountaineers were not sufficiently enlightened to per 
ceive, what no one has yet perceived that the seditions and 
tumults which everywhere marked the progress of the Refor 
mation were favorable to liberty. They may well bless the 
day, in which they took the resolution to adhere to the faith 
of their patriotic forefathers : and, from their mountain hights, 
amidst " their peaceful retreats," they may look down with 
proud complacency on their "brethren of the plain" torn by 
civil factions and religious dissensions persecuting and pro 
scribing one another all in consequence of their having had 
the "intelligence" to embrace the "glorious Reformation 1" 

John Quincy Adams, the " old man eloquent," has offered 
a far more plausible solution of the difficulty which so sadly 
puzzled the mind of D Aubigne. In a speech, which he made 
some years ago at Buffalo, he said that " liberty was a moun 
tain nymph." who loved alw r ays to breathe the purest air, 
and to dwell in the most lofty situations, nearest to heaven ! 
The old Swiss cantons had an instinctive feeling of the truth 
of this beautiful and poetic thought. They loved liberty, and 
therefore they remained Catholic.* 

Did our space permit, we might here show what were the 
political opinions of the various Catholic States of Europe, 
adopted under the influence of the Catholic Church, for cen 
turies before the Reformation was even heard of. We might 
prove, that the Catholic Church was the mother of republics ; 
and that during what are sometimes called the Dark Ages, 
every important principle of free government popular repre 
sentation, trial by jury, exemption from taxation without the 
consent of the governed, habeas corpus, and the great funda 
mental principle, that all power emanates from the people 

* In the next chapter, we will show the political thralldom of Geneva 
under Calvin. 


were generally recognized and firmly established. We might 
moreover show, how almost every one of these sacred prin 
ciples was successfully trampled on and abolished by that 
very Reformation, which is forever boasting its ^advocacy of 
free principles! But we have elsewhere devoted a special 
essay to this interesting and highly suggestive subject.* By 
comparing the political state of Europe in the good old Cath 
olic times, with what it subsequently became, after the Refor 
mation had done its work, the reader will be best enabled to 
ascertain and appreciate the influence of this latter revolution 
on civil liberty. 

4. Enough has, however, been already established to enable 
the impartial reader to form an enlightened judgment on the 
real political influence of the Reformation. We have seen, 
that with liberty forever on its lips, it really trampled under 
foot almost every element of popular government: that it 
weakened, and in many cases for a long time entirely des 
troyed all security to life, to property, and to the pursuit of 
happiness : and that withal, it everywhere imposed the intol 
erable yoke of absolute despotism, with union of church and 
state, on the necks of its disciples. And all this, after men 
had been seduced to its banner, by the enticing name of 
liberty which they read inscribed thereon! But we have 
scarcely as yet alluded to the influence of the Reformation on 
one other essential element of free government security to 
character. Did the Reformation provide more ample security 
to this the dearest perhaps of all human rights than had 
been insured during the Catholic times ? 

The Reformation, as we have already shown, created dis 
sensions and sowed distrust among those who had been hith 
erto united as brethren. It split up the religious world, till 
then composing but "one sheepfold under one Shepherd," 
into a hundred warring sects. These carried on bitter con- 

* See the essay, On the Influence of Catholicity on Civil Liberty, repub- 
lished in our Miscellanea. 


troversies with one another, while all united in fiercely de 
nouncing those who continued faithful to the religion of their 
forefathers. Acrimonious denunciation, and personal recrim 
ination, with the most scurrilous abuse, became the order of 
the day under the new state of things. The arms of ridicule, 
of caricature, of misrepresentation, and of open calumny were 
constantly used, in the hallowed name of the religion of 
peace and love ! No man s character was any longer secure, 
especially if he had the independence to adhere to the ancient 
faith, and to call in question the infallibility of the new dog- 
matizers. Does not every one recognize at once the truth of 
this picture ? And is it not true, to a great extent, even at 
the present day ? What security then, we ask, did the Ref 
ormation provide for character? 

Thus, the boasted .Reformation trampled in the dust every 
important object of free government: security to life, to char 
acter, to property, to the pursuit of happiness, to personal 
liberty. And still we are to be told, that to it we are indebted 
for all the liberty we possess ! 

In further confirmation of what has been already advanced 
in this and the preceding chapters, we will here furnish the 
testimony of the two recent Protestant travelers referred to 
above Bremner and Laing in regard to the present condi 
tion of civil and religious liberty in Northern Europe, which 
has been for three centuries wholly under Protestant influence. 

Bremner assures us that the king of Denmark is " the most 
uncontrolled sovereign in Europe. "We have looked for," he 
adds, "but can find no single check to the power of the king 
of Denmark. Laws, property, taxes, all are at the mercy of 
his tyranny or caprice." The Danes boast much of the liber 
ation of the peasants in 1660 : but Mr. Bremner says, " that 
this was not a liberation of any class in the kingdom, but the 
more complete subjugation of all classes to the crown; and 
that the peasants remained and still remain in many parts of 
Denmark little better than serfs."* 

* In the work cited above, chap, viii. See Dublin Review for May, 1843, 


Laing confirms this statement. The following is his re 
markable language : 

" It is one of the most remarkable circumstances in modern history, that 
about the middle of the seventeenth century, when all other countries were 
advancing towards constitutional arrangements of some kind or other, for 
the security of civil and religious liberty, Denmark by a formal act of her 
states or diet, abrogated even that shadow of a constitution, and invested 
her sovereigns with full despotic power to make and execute law, without 
any check or control on their absolute authority. Lord Molesworth, who 
wrote an account of Denmark in 1692, thirty-two years after this singular 
transaction, makes the curious observation that in the Roman Catholic re 
ligion there is a resisting principle to absolute civil power, from the division of 
authority with the head of the Church at Rome ; but in the north, the 
Lutheran church is entirely subservient to the civil power, and the whole of 
the northern people of Protestant countries, have lost their liberties ever since they 
changed their religion for a better. . . . . The blind obedience which is de 
structive of natural liberty, is, he conceives, more firmly established in the 
northern kingdoms by the entire and sole dependence of the clergy upon 
the prince, without the interference of any spiritual superior, as that of the 
Pope among Romanists, than in the countries which remained Catholic. "* 

This observation of Lord Molesworth, startling as it may 
appear, is clearly grounded in history; and Laing further 
confirms its truth in his interesting work on Sweden. He 
says : 

" The Swede has no freedom of mind, no power of dissent in religious 
opinion from the established church ; because although toleration nominally 
exists, a man not baptized, confirmed, and instructed by the clergyman of 
the establishment, could not communicate in the established church, and 
could not marry, or hold office, or exercise any act of majority as a citizen 
would, in fact, be an outlaw ! " 

He then goes on to prove that there is in Sweden a most 
rigid form of inquisition, which annually, even at this day, 
severely punishes from forty to fifty persons for alleged 
offences against religion 

" The crime of mockery of the public service of God, or contemptuous 

For more on this subject, we refer the reader to the chapter of our second 
volume on the Reformation in Denmark etc. 
* Work cited above, chap. viiL 


behavior during the same, is the first in the rubric of the second class of 
crimes : that is, it comes after murder, blasphemy, sodomy, but before per 
jury, forgery, or theft. It is, evidently, a very undefined crime, but is vis 
ited with punishment in chains for various terms of years, as a crime against 
the church establishment. Between 1830 and 1836, not fewer than two 
hundred and forty-two persons have been condemned to chains for this crime t 
in Sweden. Who will say, that the inquisition was abolished by Luther s 
Reformation? It has only been incorporated with the state in Lutheran 
countries, and exercised by the church through the ecclesiastical department 
of government in the civil courts, instead of in the church courts. The 
thing itself remains in vigor ; Lord Molesworth was right when he said, 
that the whole of the northern people of Lutheran countries had lost their 
liberties ever since they changed their religion for a better." (worse ?) 

In Sweden, and, in fact, in all Northern Europe, the lower 
orders are but little better than slaves. The servant may be 
cudgeled by his master, and no matter how barbarously he 
be treated, provided he be neither killed nor maimed, he has 
no legal recourse ! Laing himself tells us as much. 

" The servant has no right of action on the master for personal maltreat 
ment, and during his time of service has no more rights than a slave." 
" These people," he adds, " are trained to obedience, and in that class, to 
consider nothing their own but what is left to them by the clergy and the 
government, to whom, in the first place, their labors, time, and property 
must belong. A country in this state, wants the very foundation on which 
civil liberty must stand a sense of independence and property among the 

He sums up his remarks on the political and religious con 
dition of Sweden as follows : 

" Such a state of laws and institutions in a country, reduces the people 
as moral beings to the state of a soldiery, who, if they fulfill their regimen 
tal duties and military regulations, consider themselves absolved from all 
other restraints on conduct. This is the condition of the Swedish people. 
The mass of the nation is in a state of pupilage, living like soldiers in a 
regiment, under classes or oligarchies of privileged bodies the public func 
tionaries, clergy, nobility, owners of estate exempt from taxation, and incor 
porated traders exempt from competition. Under this pressure in Sweden 
upon industry, property, liberty, free opinion and free will, education is but 
a source of amusement, or of speculation in science, without influence on 
private morals, or public affairs ; and religion, a superstitious observance of 
church days, forms, and ordinances, with a blind veneration for the clergy," etc. 


The politico-religious condition of Prussia is not a whit 
more flattering. The serf system continued to prevail in this 
kingdom even up to the beginning of the present century ; 
and Laing assures us, that "the condition of these born-serfs" 
the great body of the people " was very similar to that 
of the negro slaves on the West India estate during the ap 
prenticeship term, before their final emancipation." 

He proves that the so much vaunted system of common 
school education in Prussia, is little more than a powerful 
state engine to enslave the people. 

" This educational system is, in fact, from the cradle to the grave, nothing 
but a deception, a delusion put upon the noblest principle of human nature 
the desire for intellectual development a deception practiced for the paltry 
political end of rearing the individual to be part and parcel of an artificial 
system of despotic government, of training him to be either its instrument 
or its slave, according to his social station." 

He further demonstrates the utter political degradation of 
Prussia, by enlarging upon the apathy with which the royal 
fusion of the two Protestant sects into one by the late king 
of Prussia, was viewed by the mass of the population. He 
proves at length that the Prussian is, in every respect, the 
veriest political and religious slave bound hand and foot by 

Such then has been, from unexceptionable Protestant testi 
mony, the practical influence of the Reformation on civil and 
religious liberty in those countries where that influence has 
been least checked, and longest exercised ! 




Character of Calvinism Protestant historians The "Registers" Audin 
Calvin s character His activity His heartlessness Luther and Calvin 
compared Early liberties of Geneva The "Libertines" Blue laws 
Spy system Persecution Death of Gruet Burning of Servetus Hal- 
lam s testimony Morals of Calvin His zeal His complicated diseases 
His last will His awful death and mysterious burial A douceur The 

THE second great branch of the German Reformation was 
that established at Geneva by John Calvin. Of all the re 
formers, he was perhaps the most acute, learned, and talented. 
And he has succeeded, better perhaps than any of them all, 
in impressing his own stern and morose character on the sect 
he founded. Geneva was the center of his operations, as 
Wittenberg was of those of Luther, and Zurich, of those of 
Zuingle. Starting from Geneva, Calvinism soon spread 
through Switzerland, and it afterwards extended to France, 
Holland, Scotland, and England. Even on the soil of Ger 
many itself, it was soon able to dispute the supremacy with 
the sect previously established by Luther. "We have deferred 
till now our account of the origin and progress of Calvinism, 
because we intend to view it chiefly in its bearing on the 
subjects treated of in the two last chapters civil and re 
ligious liberty. Besides, in point of time, it is posterior to 
the branches of the Reformation established respectively by 
Luther and Zuingle. 

Much additional light has been lately shed on the history 
of early Calvinism. Protestant as well as Catholic historians 
have labored with great success in this interesting field. 
Among the former, we mention as among the most distin 
guished, Galiife, Gaberel, and Fazy. These three learned 


Protestants have all greatly contributed to elucidate the his 
tory of Geneva in the sixteenth century. The last named 
published in 1838 at Geneva, his Essay on the History of the 
Genevan Republic,* in which he enlarges on the influence 
of Calvinism on the destinies of the republic. The work of 
Gaberel, entitled Calvin at Geneva, f enters still more directly 
into the subject, and furnishes many additional details. 

But, for ability, and research into the history of early Cal 
vinism, they are both perhaps surpassed by Galiffe. His 
three volumes of Genealogical Notices of Genevan Families, J 
unfold much of the secret history of Geneva under the the 
ocracy of Calvin. He has ferreted out and published to the 
world the famous Registers of the Genevan ecclesiastical 
consistory and cantonal council during the sixteenth century. 
These had been long lost to the world. The friends of Calvin 
seem to have carefully concealed them, out of respect to the 
character of their father in the faith. 

When, some years ago, Vemet requested the Genevan sec 
retary of state, Chapeaurouge, to communicate to him the 
order of proceedings touching Servetus, the council of state, 
to whom the matter was referred, refused to grant the request. 
However, Calandrini, the syndic of Geneva, answered, that 
" the conduct of Calvin and of the council in that affair were 
such, that they wished to bury it in deep oblivion." But 
thanks to the indefatigable researches of Galiffe, and to the 
growing indifference of the ministers of Geneva for the mem 
ory of Calvin, those long hidden records of the political and 
religious history of Geneva during Calvin s lifetime, have 
been at length revealed to the world. A Protestant has thus 
removed the dark veil which had hung over the cradle of 
Calvinism for centuries. 

* "Essai d un precis de 1 Histoire de la Rep. Genevaise," 2 vols., 8vo. 
f " Calvin a Geneve," 8vo. 1836. 

J "Notices Genealog iques sur les Families Genevaises," 3 vols. 1831, 1836. 
The letter of the syndic is published in full by Galiffe in his " Notices," 
sup. cit 


In his life of Calvin,* Audin has availed himself of the 
labors of all his predecessors in this interesting branch of re 
ligious history. He had previously qualified himself for his 
task by much patient labor and research. He assures us that 
there was not a library of any note in France or Germany 
which he did not visit, f In his travels, he discovered many 
letters of Calvin hitherto unpublished. Among these is his 
famous letter to Farel, which he found in the hand-writing 
of Calvin himself, in the royal library at Paris.J The publi 
cation of this letter which is of undoubted genuineness 
has rendered manifest what before was strongly suspected 
the agency of Calvin in compassing the death of Servetus. 

In what we will have to say on the history of the Refor 
mation at Geneva, we shall follow all these authors. More 
particularly will we avail ourselves of the facts disclosed by 
the learned and pains-taking Audin. Our plan does not of 
course require, nor will the limits of a single chapter permit, 
any very lengthy details on the history of early Calvinism. 
The character of this branch of the Reformation, is, in fact, 
nearly the same as that of those of Wittenberg and Zurich, 
of which we have already treated at some length. Similar 
means were also adopted to bring it about. Its effects on so 
ciety, as we shall endeavor to show, were also nearly the 

John Calvin was born at Noyon, in France, on the 10th of 
July, 1509, and he died at Geneva, on the 19th of May, 1564, 
in the fifty-fifth year of his age. The first feature which 
strikes us in his character, is his untiring industry and restless 
activity. Whether we view him as a student frequenting the 
schools of Paris, as a minister at Geneva, concerting with the 

* " Histoire de la Vie, des Ouvrages et des Doctrines de Calvin " Par 
Audin, auteur de "1 Histoire de Luther," 2 vols., 8vo. Paris, 1843. This 
work has been translated into English by the present distinguished bishop 
of Richmond. Our quotations are from the original. 

f Introduction, p. 19. f Published in full, vol. ii, p. 313, seqq. 

$ See Hallam Hist of Literature, vol. i, p. 280. Note. 


ministers Farel and Froment his plans for carrying out the 
Reformation, as an exile at Strasburg, intermeddling with the 
affairs of German diets and German reformers, or, after his 
return to Geneva from the exile into which his own restless 
ness had driven him ; throughout his whole life, in fact, he 
is the same busy, intriguing, restless character. He was 
never asleep at his post; he was always on the alert; he 
toiled day and night in carrying out his plans. 

He was as cool and calculating as he was active. He 
seldom failed,by one means or another, to put down an enemy 
and every opponent was liis enemy because he could 
seldom be taken at a disadvantage. His vigilance detected 
their plans, and his prompt activity generally thwarted them. 
Though very irritable, and inexorable in his anger, yet his 
passion did not cloud his understanding, nor hinder the carry 
ing out of his deliberate purpose. In temperament he was 
cold and repulsive, even sour and morose. He mingled little 
with others, and was as reserved in his conversation as he 
was fond of retirement and study. 

If he had any heart, he never gave evidence of the fact by 
the manifestation of feeling. At the death of his first and 
only child, he appears to have shed not one tear. In a letter 
to the minister Viret, he coldly informed him of the fact, and 
invited him to pay him a visit at Strasburg, telling him, as 
an inducement to come, "that they could enjoy themselves, 
and talk together for half a day."* He never manifested the 
least sympathy for those in distress, though in many cases he 
was himself the cause of their sufferings. Thus, when Ser- 
vetus, on hearing that he was condemned to the stake, gave 
way to his feelings in a burst of agony and tears, Calvin 
mocked at his distress by writing to one of his friends " that 
he bellowed after the manner of a Spaniard mercv, mercy ."f 

* See Audin, Vie de Calvin, vol. i, p. 351, note, for Calvin s words, 
f " Ut tanttim Hispanico more reboaret : Misericordia, misericordia ! " 
Ibid., vol. ii, p. 304. 


Thus also, when Castalio, one of the most excellent men 
and accomplished scholars of his age, was on the very verge 
of starvation at Berne, whither he had repaired to escape 
Calvin s persecution at Geneva, the reformer had the cold- 
heartedness to remind him that he had fed at his table ii\ 
Strasburg ; and, to do away with the effect of Castalio s argu 
ments, which he found it difficult to answer, he even accused 
him of theft! To the first charge Castalio answered, "1 
lodged with you, it is true, about a week .... but I paid you 
for what I had eaten. How cordially you and Beza hate 
me."* The charge of theft he indignantly repelled as fol 
lows : " And who told that ? Your spies have deceived you. 
Reduced to the most frightful misery .... I took a hook, and 
went to gather the wood which floated upon the Rhine, which 
belonged to no one, and which I fished up, and burnt after 
wards at my house to warm myself. Do you call this theft ?"f 
Castalio, thus hunted down by his inexorable enemy, literally 
died of hunger while struggling to maintain by his learning 
a wife and eight children. But he had had the misfortune 
to differ with Calvin on predestination while at Geneva, and 
the boldness to reprove him and his colleagues with an intol 
erant spirit. "Paul," he had told them, "chastised himself, 
you torment others."! 

Calvin s personal appearance was an index to his character. 
He was of middle hight, of a lean and supple figure, with a 
contracted chest, with the veins of his neck full and promi 
nent, his mouth well made and large, his lips bluish, his 
forehead expanded, bony, and furrowed with wrinkles, his 
eye restless, and, when he was excited, darting fire. His 
ceaseless labors caused him to become prematurely gray, and 
gave him a pale and cadaverous aspect. He was a man 
from whose appearance you would expect little that was not 
the result of hard labor. 

* Castalio Defensio, pp. 26, 40. Apud Audin, ibid., vol. ii, p. 239. 
f Defens., p. 12, ibid. p. 240. t Ibid., p. 234. 


What a contrast between him and Luther! Luther,- a 
creature of impulse, a portly ex-friar, fond of good cheer, 
and never more at home than when conversing with boon 
companions at his favorite resort, the Black Eagle tavern: 
Calvin, meager, silent, and morose, shut up within himself, 
chilling all with his reserve all head and no heart. In the 
pulpit the difference was equally marked. Luther spoke ex 
temporaneously, and, without method or choice of words, 
bore down all before him by a torrent of passionate invective 
or boisterous declamation. Calvin was cold and unirnpas- 
sioned, his diction was pure and polished, his thoughts clear 
and precise, and his whole manner calculated , to make a 
more deep and lasting impression on his hearers. Calvin s 
was the eloquence of the head, Luther s that of the 

But they agreed in one thing, if in little else : they both 
crushed the liberties of the people in the countries which 
were the respective theaters of their labors. Their profession 
of breaking the bonds of religious slavery, and of securing 
political freedom to the people, was all mere talk. It is too 
late in the day to hold them up as the champions of popular 
rights. The effect of the Reformation, both at Wittenberg 
and at Geneva, was obviously to weaken the democratic 
principle ; in both places the rights of the lower orders w r ere 
ruthlessly trampled under foot. In Germany, Luther conjured 
up a storm which he could not control. W T e have already 
shown how he first stirred up the people to revolt, and then 
clamored for their blood, and how completely he succeeded 
in destroying their liberties. Calvin also crushed the liber 
ties of the people, but in a more insidious manner: he robbed 
them of their liberty in the name of liberty. A foreigner, 
he insinuated himself into Geneva, and, serpent-like, coiled 
himself around the very heart of the republic which had 
given him hospitable shelter, and had adopted him ; nor did 
he relax his hold so long as he lived. He thus stung the 
very bosom which had warmed him. That this language 


is not too strong, the following plain statement of facts will 
sufficiently show. 

The cantons of Switzerland formed one of the many re 
publics of the middle ages. They owed all their liberties, 
and even their very existence as a distinct government, to 
Catholics in Catholic times. William Tell, Melchtal, and" 
Furst were the fathers of Swiss liberty. In 1307 was fought 
by these heroes the famous battle of Morgarten, which drove 
the Austrians from Switzerland, and secured Sw r iss independ 
ence. The bishops of Geneva had been its earliest and 
greatest benefactors. They had more than once protected 
the rights of the city against the aggressions of the dukes 
of Savoy themselves. One of them Adhemar Fabri as 
early as 1387, had written out the laws and privileges of the 
city ; and the book was venerated as containing the magna 
charta of Genevan liberties. Those laws provided that the. 
citizens had the sole right of inflicting capital punishment ; 
that none should be tortured without the consent of the 
people; that, from the rising to the setting of the sun, the 
citizens were the sole guardians of the city; that no agent 
of the duke or bishop could exercise any power during that 
time, and that the citizens alone had the right to elect their 

Calvin soon trampled upon every one of these cherished 
popular privileges. At the instigation of the ministers Farel 
and Froment, Geneva had already cast off the mild yoke of 
her episcopal court. Instead of it, she was doomed to wear, 
firmly riveted on her neck, the iron yoke of Calvin s consis 
tory. This spiritual court of Calvin s devising gradually 
monopolized all power in Geneva. The hitherto free council 
of the burgomasters became a mere tool in its hands. With 
its manifold appliances of preachers, elders, and spies, it pen- 

* Hottinger, Hist des Eglises de la Suisse ; Audin, vol. ii, p. 15. Those 
laws are written in the quaint old Latin of that period, and they present a 
strange mixture of the old Savoyard Patois with the classical Latin. The 
style is very similar to that of the English Magna Charta. 


etrated everywhere, and struck terror into every bosom. The 
pulpit was then a powerful instrument in the hands of the 
police. Every one trembled at the denunciation of the minis 
ters, for it was almost sure to be followed by ulterior conse 
quences in the social and civil order. 

Whoever will read Audin s book, and the Protestant his 
torians referred to above, must be convinced of the truth of 
these remarks. Our limits will not allow copious details ; we 
must confine ourselves to some of the more prominent facts in 
support of the strong statement just made. 

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, Geneva was one 
of the great commercial centers of Europe. Occupying a 
central position between Italy, Germany, and France, it was 
a common mart for the goods of all these countries. The 
enterprising flocked thither from almost every part of Europe. 
It became also a city of refuge for all the uneasy and restless 
spirits, who, in consequence of religious or political intrigues, 
had been forced to leave their own country. The population 
of Geneva was, on this account, of a most motley character. 
Calvin was among the many French refugees who took shelter 
there. Before his arrival, the Reformation had been already 
begun through the agency of Farel and Froment. Its course 
had been marked, as elsewhere, by pillage of the churches, 
by seizure of church property, by destruction of works of art, 
by robbery and sacrilege, and by massacres. La Sceur Jeanne 
de Jussie, a nun of St. Clare, an eye-witness of these horrors, 
and a sufferer by them, has left a most graphic description of 
them, and Audin has given us an abstact of her interesting 

Such was the state of things when Calvin came to Geneva. 
Among its citizens, the mechanics and common laborers 
formed a numerous class. These constituted too a distinct 
political party, who viewed with an evil eye the ascendency 
acquired by Calvin and the other foreign refugees. Calvin 

* Audin, vol. i p. 195 to 215. 
VOL. i. -32 


could not brook them, and he styled them sneeringly the 
party of the Libertines. The history of his protracted and 
bitter contest with them forms the matter of many long and 
highly interesting chapters in Audin s book.* The high-priest 
of Geneva could not bear them, because, in their eveningr 
parties, they took the unwarrantable liberty of laughing at 
him at his cadaverous figure, his withered hands, and his 
nasal twang in the pulpit ; and because they had even gone 
so far as to call him " le renard Francois, or the French fox."f 

Besides, they had the unpardonable effrontery to drink 
healths, to dance, and otherwise amuse themselves when the 
labors of the day were over. Calvin s sour and morose tem 
perament could ill brook this social cheerfulness, and espe 
cially the witty or malicious sallies at his own expense. 
Besides, he was troubled with the asthma, and was subject to 
vertigo and headache. And what right had those vulgar 
clowns to shock his nerves, or to disturb his sleep ? "What 
right had they to their old and long-cherished national amuse 
ments, if it was in the least displeasing to the humor of this 
splenetic stranger ? What right had they to sing, or to laugh 
at his peculiarities ? If it was not downright blasphemy, as 
the ministers more than once intimated from the pulpit, it 
was at least very impolite in them not to wear longer faces, 
at least while he was in the city. 

Calvin determined to put down the Libertines ; and, the 
better to effect his purpose, he procured the enactment of a 
body of laws, of which we will here give a few specimens. 
They show us what was the spirit, and what was the legisla 
tion of Calvinism from its very birth. 

"They punished with imprisonment the lady who arranged her hair with 
too much coquetry (the ministers were to judge), and even her chambermaid 
who assisted at her toilet ; the merchant who played at cards, the peasant 
who spoke too harshly to his beast, and the citizen who had not extinguished 
his lamp at the hour appointed by law."J "Men were forbidden to dance 

* Audin, chapters i, vi, viii, and xv of vol. ii. f Ibid., vol. ii, p. 13, seq. 

\ Ibid. vol. ii, p. 12. 


with women, or to wear figured hose, or flowered breeches."* " Three tan 
ners were put in prison for three days, on bread and water, for having eaten 
at breakfast three dozen pieces of pastry, which was great dissoluteness."! 
" They forbade any one to have a cross, or any other badge of popery." "A 
merchant who sold wafers marked with a cross was fined sixty sols, and his 
wafers were cast into the fire as scandalous." f 

" Woe to him who did not uncover his head at the approach of Calvin ; he 
was fined. Woe to him that gave him a flat contradiction ; he was brought 
before the consistory, and menaced with excommunication. Woe to the 
girl who presented herself to be married with a bunch of flowers in her 
bonnet, if her chastity was even suspected by the consistory. Woe to him 
who danced on the day of his marriage ; he was imprisoned for three days. 
Woe to the young married lady if she wore shoes according to the present 
fashion of Berne : she was publicly reprimanded." || 

This minute and vexatious Calvinistic legislation regulated 
even the number of plates which should appear on the table 
of the rich, and the quality of butter to be sold, etc.^I 

"All were ordered to eat meat on Fridays and Saturdays, under penalty 
of imprisonment : and the night-watch was ordered to proclaim that no one 
should make slashed doublets or hose, or wear them hereafter under penalty 
of sixty sols."** " Chapius was put in prison for having persisted in calling 
his child Claud, although the minister wished to call him Abraham. He 
had said that, rather than do this, he would keep his child fifteen years 
without baptism.ft He was kept in prison four days." " One day a relation 
presented himself at the altar with a young girl of Nantes to be married. 
The minister, Abel Poupin, asked him : Will you be faithful to your wife ? 
The bridegroom instead of answering yes, only inclined his head. Hence 
great tumult among the assistants. He was sent to prison, obliged to ask 
pardon of the young lady s uncle, and condemned to bread and water."J| 

We might multiply facts of the kind, to exhibit still fur 
ther the peculiarities of this singular code. The pious Cal 
vinistic legislators who enacted the "blue laws of Connec 
ticut could at least boast precedent if not common sense, for 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 138, from Register of Geneva, 1522, July 14. 

f Ibid. Register, 13th, February, 1558. J Ibid., p. 173, 

5 Ibid. Register, 31st Dec. 1543. 

H Reglemeht de Police, 29th July, 1549, ibid. 5[ Ibid. 

** Register, 16th April, 1543 ; Audin, voL ii, p. 185. 

ft Register, 1546 ; ibid. \\ Ibid., p. 186. 


their curious enactments. The above, however, are but small 
scraps of Genevese legislation under Calvin s theocracy. To 
understand fully the spirit of his laws, in all their length and 
breadth, you must read the criminal prosecutions of Berthel- 
lier, Gruet, Gentilis, Bolsec, Ami Perrin, Francis Favre, and 
Servetus, copious portions of w T hich are spread before us by 
Audin, from the original documents. We may have occasion 
to refer to some of these a little later. 

To ferret out and punish the infractors of these singular 
laws, Calvin established a regular system of espionage. 

" He kept in his pay secret informers, in order to learn the secrets of fami 
lies."* " Besides these, there was another band of spies, the ciders, recog 
nized by law, who could penetrate once a week into the most mysterious 
sanctuary of domestic life, in order to report to the consistory what they 
might see and hear."f " In one single year, the consistory instituted more 
than two hundred prosecutions for blasphemy, calumny, obscene language, 
lechery, insulfs to Calvin, offenses against the ministers, and attempts against 
the French exiles."J 

The liberties of the city were now totally crushed, and 
every one trembled for his life ! The spies whom Calvin em 
ployed were chiefly from among the most degraded of the 
French refugees ; and this odious practice was carried to such 
lengths that the citizens trembled at the approach of one of 
these sinister individuals. A curious instance of the proceed 
ings of these miscreants is found in the Registers of Geneva. 

" Master Eaymond, a spy, was passing by the bridge, when he heard a 
voice saying Go to the devil ! Who is that? asked Raymond of Domi 
nic Clement, who was present. Dominic answered: "Tis a girl who is 
wishing the " Renard," or " Fox," at the devil. Raymond thought the man 
meant to insult him : You are a fox yourself, says he to Dominic, who an 
swered, I am as good a man as you are, and have not at least been banished 
from my country. Dominic was denounced to the consistory, which sharply 
reproved him. On his wishing to justify himself, Calvin silenced him, say 
ing, Hush, you have blasphemed against God in saying I have not been 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 149. f Ibid., p. 150. 

J Ibid. \ Ibid., p. 167. 


Our historian furnishes us with a number of such facts. 
Every enemy of Calvin was closely watched, and could 
scarcely escape being denounced. Woe to him who smiled 
while Calvin was preaching, even though he treated his hear 
ers as "letchers, blasphemers, and dogs." "Three persons 
who had smiled at a sermon of Calvin, on seeing a man fall 
from his chair asleep, were denounced, condemned to three 
days of imprisonment on bread and water, and to beg par 
don."* These spies laid snares for the simple. " They asked 
a Norman who was going to Montpellier, whether he intended 
to change his religion." The Norman replied, " I dont think 
the Church is so narrowly bounded, as to hang from the girdle 
of M. Calvin." He was denounced and banished !f 

Talk of the Spanish Inq uisition after this ! And yet these are 
not the darkest shades of the picture. Far from it. They are but 
mere trifles, when compared with the horrible facts developed 
in the criminal prosecutions alluded to above. "Whosoever 
opposed Calvin, whether in religion or in politics, was hunted 
down and his blood was sought at his instigation. He never 
forgave a personal injury. In regard to his enemies, he was 
as watchful as a tiger preparing to pounce on its prey and 
as treacherous ! This is strong language ; but it is more than 
justified by the official records of Geneva. We will present a 
few of the more striking facts in confirmation of our statement. 

How sanguinary, for instance, is the spirit breathed in this 
extract of Calvin s letter to the Marquis de Pouet ! 

" Do not hesitate to rid the country of those fanatical fellows (faquins), 
who in their conversation seek to excite the people against us, who blacken 
our conduct, and would fain make our belief pass as a revery : such monsters 

His vindictive conduct towards Pierre Ameaux, a member 
of the Genevan council of twenty-five, is a fit commentary 
on this sentiment. At a supper, this man, inflamed with 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 171. f Ibid-, P- 179. f Ibid., p. 1721 


wine, had said some hard things of Calvin. At his table, 
another man, Henry de la Mar. had also said, amidst the 
general applause of the guests : " That Calvin was a spiteful 
and vindictive man, who never pardoned any one against 
whom he had a grudge." The next morning, Ameaux was 
cited before the council, where he excused himself on the 
ground that he was excited with wine. The council fined 
him thirty thalers a large sum at that time. " On hearing 
of this sentence, Calvin arose, donned his doctor s dress, and 
escorted by the ministers and elders, penetrated into the hall 
of the council, demanded justice in the name of that God 
whom Pierre Ameaux had outraged, in the name of the 
morals he had sullied, and of the laws he had violated; and 
declared that he would quit Geneva, if the man were not 
compelled to make the amende honorable a public apology, 
bareheaded, at the city hotel," and in two other public places ! 
The council yielded ; and " the next day, Ameaux, half naked, 
with a torch in his hand, accused himself in a loud voice of 
having knowingly and wickedly offended God, and begged 
pardon of his fellow-citizens."* What is to be thought of a 
man, who could thus crush a penitent and stricken enemy ! 
Had he aught of the spirit of that God-Man who " would not 
break the bruised reed?" 

Henry la Mar, the other culprit, did not escape. He was 
dogged by Texier, one of Calvin s spies, who extracted from 
his lips, under an oath of secresy, some words disrespectful 
to his master. Texier came running to Calvin with the news, 
saying that he did not think himself bound by his oath, when 
the public good required the disclosure. " Calvin accused 
La Mar, caused him to lose his situation, and had him con 
demned to prison for three days. The judges assigned as 
their reason, ; that he had blamed M. Calvin ! "f 

* See the whole account, from original documents, in Audin, vol. ii, p. 181, 
geq., where also a number of similar facts are recounted, 
f Audin, vol. ii, p. 184. 


Of a similar character was the prosecution, commenced at 
the instance of Calvin, against Francis Favre, a veteran 
Boldier of the republic, and a counselor of the city. He 
had been at a wedding where they had danced all the even 
ing, and where he was accused by one of Calvin s spies of 
having used seditious language. Among the ten specifications 
alleged against him, were several things he had said against 
Calvin ; and the last and most grievous was, that he had, on 
being conducted to prison, cried out: "LIBERTY! LIBERTY!! 
I would give a thousand dollars to have a general council ! " 
(of the burgomasters.) He was sentenced to beg pardon 
publicly. The veteran refused ; he was sent to prison for 
three weeks, and was then liberated only at the instance of a 
deputation from Berne.* 

Calvin also sought the life of Ami Perrin, the captain- 
general of Geneva. Perrin s wife had been guilty of dancing 
on the territory of Berne. Calvin sought to entrap Perrin 
by means of Megret, one of his hired spies. This miscreant 
denounced Perrin before the council ; and he was in conse 
quence thrown into prison. Calvin thirsted for his blood. 
But the people loved Perrin. The council of the two hundred 
assembled to try him for his life. A reaction took place; 
Perrin was about to be liberated, and Megret was openly 
denounced. At this juncture, Calvin entered the council 
hall. The people received him with cries of " death to Cal 
vin ! " Calvin waved his hand, addressed them, and calmed 
their fury; but he barely succeeded by his eloquence in 
saving his own life!f 

In reading these details, we are almost reminded of Marat 
and Robespierre haranguing the Jacobin clubs during the 
reign of terror. In fact, Calvin s reign in Geneva was truly 
a reign of terror ; and if during it, as much blood did not 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 189, seq. 

f Ibid., p. 196, seq. By his overweening influence, Calvin however suc 
ceeded in having Perrin afterwards tried, when, though his life was spared, 
he was deprived of the place of captain-general ; ibid., p. 197. seq. 


flow as during the French Revolution, it was not surely his 
fault. He combined the cruelty of Danton and Robespierre, 
with the eloquence of Marat and Mirabeau, though he was 
much cooler, and therefore more successful than any one of 
them all. 

"Who will not be stricken with horror on reading of the 
cold-blooded cruelty with which he hunted down and com 
passed the death of poor Gruet, the poet !* This unfortunate 
man was accused of having affixed a placard on Calvin s pul 
pit at St. Peters church, in which the reformer was severely 
handled. He was apprehended and his papers were seized. 
Among these, consisting of nothing but loose sheets, were 
found some scraps of poetry and other fugitive pieces, which 
were tortured into heresy and treason. He was plied with 
the torture by Calvin s creature, Colladon, every day for a 
whole month. They wished him to implicate Favre or Per- 
rin; but though he cried out in agony of torture: "Finish 
me, I beseech you I am dying;" he remained firm, and 
would not accuse them. The council pronounced sentence of 
death on him. Among the charges against him, the prin 
cipal were : " That he had endeavored to ruin the authority 
of the consistory that he had menaced the ministers, and 
spoken ill of Calvin and that he had conspired with the 
king of France against the safety of Calvin and of the state."f 
Gruet died on the scaffold, but Calvin was not yet satisfied. 
He wished that his writings should be condemned, and he 
himself drew up a long form of condemnation of them, which 
was approved by the council.! Calvin alone is responsible 
for the blood of Gruet ; it still cries aloud to heaven against 

We might exhibit similar hard-heartedness and tyranny in 
his persecution of Bolsec, of Gentilis, of Berthillier,|| and 

* He was not poet enough to excite much envy. f Audin, p. 200, seqq. 
| This document, found at Berne in the handwriting of Calvin, is given 
in full by Audin, ibid., p. 244, seqq. 

5 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 245, seqq. |j Ibid., p. 347, seqq. 


of others. But we are heart-sick of these horrors, and must 
hasten on. Yet we can not wholly pass over the well-known 
case of Servetus, to which Audin devotes two whole chap 
ters,* and upon which he sheds much additional light. We 
will state only a few undoubted and prominent facts in this 
sad affair. 

1st. Servetus was burnt on the 27th of October, 1553 ; but 
as early as 1546 seven years previously Calvin had thirsted 
for his blood, as appears from these words, taken from his 
famous letter to Farel, written in that year: "If he (Serve 
tus) come here (to Geneva), and my authority be considered, 
I will not permit him to escape with his life."f 

2d. Pursuing this blood-thirsty purpose, he had denounced 
Servetus to the police of Lyons, where he then was. And 
when he (Servetus) had fled to Vienne, he very narrowly 
escaped probably with the connivance of the Catholic clergy 
of Yienne from the prison to which he had been consigned, 
at the instigation of officers sent in quest of him in conse 
quence of his denunciation, by Calvin s agents, at Lyons.J 

3d. When Servetus, fleeing from his enemies, passed 
through Geneva, Calvin denounced him and had him ar 
rested, against all the laws both of God and of man. For 
Servetus was a stranger, only passing through Geneva ; || and 
he was not responsible to the Genevan tribunals for a crime 
which he had not committed within the Genevan territory ; 
and this, even supposing heresy to be a crime punishable by 
the civil laws. 

4th. Though Servetus was a poor stranger, and though he 
begged for counsel to defend him, that right, not denied even to 
the meanest culprit, was refused him at the instance of Calvin. Tf 

* Audin, chapters xii and xiii of vol. ii, p. 258 to 324. 
f See the letter in full, ibid., vol. ii, p. 314, seqq. f Ibid., vol. ii, 285, seqq. 
$ Ibid., p. 287, seqq. 

|| Bancroft assigns this same reason : " Servetus did but desire leave to 
continue his journey." Hist. United States, vol. i, p. 455. 
IT Audin, vol. ii, p. 297. 
VOL. T. 33 


5th. After Servetus had lain in prison five weeks, a victim 
of disease and devoured by vermin, he wrote to the council, 
stating his situation, and begging for a change of linen. The 
council wished to grant his request, but Calvin opposed it, 
and he succeeded! Three other letters written during the 
following week from prison, in which Servetus begged for 
counsel, and asked that the charges against him should be 

specified and made known to him, were answered by 


6th. When, on the morning of his execution, Servetus sent 
for Calvin, and begged his pardon, if he had offended him, 
Calvin answered him with cold-hearted cruelty .f We have 
seen above how he insulted his tears. 

7th. The heartless cruelty of the minister Farel, who ac 
companied Servetus to execution, is enough to make one s 
blood run cold at the bare reading of it.J 

8th. The year after the execution of Servetus in 1554 
Calvin published his famous work on punishing heretics, in 
which he justified the whole proceeding by the authority of 
Scripture ! 

Was this man sent to reform the Church of God ? He was 
worse than " the Caliph of Geneva," as Audin calls him he 
was a very Nero ! Gibbon has well said of this transaction : 
" I am more deeply scandalized at the single execution of 
Servetus than at the hecatombs (not true) which have blazed 
at auto da fes of Spain and Portugal." 

Hallam gives the following account of the burning of Ser 
vetus : 

" Servetus, having, in 1553, published at Vienne, in Dauphine, a new 
treatise, called Christianismi Restitutio, and escaping from thence, as he 
vainly hoped, to the Protestant city of Geneva, became a victim to the big 
otry of the magistrates, instigated by Calvin, who had acquired an immense 
ascendency over that republic."\\ And in a note he brings abundant proof of 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 299, seq. f See the whole conversation, ibid., p. 305. 
| Ibid., p. 304, seq. De Haereticis Puniendis. 

|| History of Literature, vol. i, p. 280. 


all this, alleging, among other things, the famous letter of Calvin to Farel, 
"published," he says, "by Witenbogart (a Protestant) in an ecclesiastical 
history, written in Dutch." In the same note he says : " Servetus, in fact, 
was burned not so much for his heresies, as for personal offense Tie had several 

years before given to Calvin Servetus had, in some printed letters, 

charged Calvin with many errors, which seems to have exasperated the great (!) 
reformer s temper, so as to make him resolve on what he afterwards exe 
cuted." " The death of Servetus," he continues, " has perhaps as many 
circumstances of aggravation as any execution for heresy that ever took 
place. One of these, and among the most striking, is that he was not the 
subject of Geneva, nor domiciled in the city, nor had the Christianismi Res- 
titutio been published there, but at Vienne. According to our laws, and 
those, I believe, of most civilized nations, he was not amenable to the tribu 
nals of the republic."* He concludes the entire account with this sweeping 
accusation against all the early reformers in regard to intolerance : " Thus, 
in the second period of the Reformation, those ominous symptoms which 
had appeared in its earliest stage, disunion, virulence, bigotry, intolerance, 
far from yielding to any benignant influence, grew more inveterate and in- 

We think that the above facts make good our assertion, 
that Calvin crushed the liberties of Geneva, political as well 
as religious. The following may serve to show us how sin 
cere was his zeal for the salvation of souls. 

The plague broke out at Geneva in 1543. The ministers 
from the pulpit recommended prayer once a week to avert the 
scourge, and they appointed the Sunday week next following 
as the day for administering the sacrament of the Lord s Sup 
per with the same intent.J The plague continued, and the 
ministers hid themselves, though hundreds were calling on 
them for spiritual succor in their dying moments ! The hos 
pital was crowded with the dying. The council of state 
called on the ministers to send one of their number to assist 
the dying at the hospital, from which duty, however, they 
wished " to exempt Calvin, because the church had need of 
him !" The ministers met with Calvin, and agreed to decide 
by lot who was to go. One only, Geneston, offered to go, if 

* History of Literature, vol. i, p. 280. f Ibid., p. 281. 

J Register, etc., Audin, vol. ii, p. 16. 


the lot fell on him ! The others " confessed that God had not 
yet given them grace to have the strength and courage to go 
to the hospital!" And "it was resolved to pray to God to 
give them more courage for the future."* The result was 
that no one went to the hospital, except Chatillon, a young 
French poet, and another Frenchman, who fell a victim to 
the disease. Were these men true shepherds, or were they 
only mercenaries ? The answer may be found in the tenth 
chapter of St. John s Gospel. 

Calvin s morals have been discussed on both sides. Beza 
and his other friends have held him up as a model of per 
fection; others, with Bolsec, have represented him as a 
monster of impurity and iniquity. The story of his having 
been guilty of a crime of nameless turpitude at Noyon, 
though denied by his friends, yet rests upon very respectable 
authority. Bolsec, a contemporary writer, relates it as eer-, 
tain. Before his work appeared, it had been mentioned by 
Surius in 1558 ; by Turbes, who lived in the reign of Francis 
I.; by Simon Fontana in 1557; by Stapleton in 1558; by 
La Vacquerie in 1560-1; by De Mouchi in 1562; by Du 
Preau in 1567; and by Whitaker before 1570.f The learned 
and careful Protestant Galiffe, who had examined most 
thoroughly the archives of Geneva, uses this very plain 
language : 

" The history of many of the reformer s colleagues is very scandalous, 
the details of which can not enter into a work designed for both S3xes."f 
The same writer tells us " that most of the facts related by the physician of 
Lyons (Bolsec) are perfectly true." 

In the introduction to the third volume of his Notices, he 
bears the following testimony to the state of morals at Geneva 
in Calvin s time: 

" To those who imagine that the reformer had done nothing that is not 
good, I will exhibit our Registers covered with entries of illegitimate chil- 

* Audin, Register of Council. f See ibid., vol. ii, p. 256. Note. 

\ Graliffe, Notices, torn, iii, p. 381. Note quoted ibid. 
\ Ibid., p. 457, note. Audin, vol. ii, p. 257. 


dren (these were exposed at all the corners of the city and country,) with 
prosecutions hideous for their obscenity, with wills in which fathers and 
mothers accuse their own children not only of errors, but of crimes, with 
transactions before notaries public between young girls and their paramours, 
who gave them, in the presence of their relatives, means of supporting their 
illegitimate offspring, with multitudes of forced marriages, where the delin 
quents were conducted from prison to the church, with mothers who aban 
doned their infants at the hospital, while they were living in abundance with 
a second husband, with whole bundles of processes between brothers, with 
multitudes (literally heaps, tas) of secret denunciations : and all this in the 
generation nourished by the mystic manna of Calvin ! "* 

Truly, if the Kegisters prove all this, we may conclude 
that Calvin stamped his own image upon his generation, and 
especially his heartlessness. Such facts as these, resting as 
they do upon the undoubted authority of the official records 
of Geneva, speak volumes in regard to the moral influence 
of that gloomy system of religionism which Calvin intro 
duced into that city, as a substitute for the Catholic religion. 
They prove that the boasted austerity of the early Calvinists 
was little better than a sham, if it was not even a cloak 
to cover enormous wickedness. They exhibit their own 
favorite doctrine of total depravity in its fullest practical 
development ! 

The accounts published of the circumstances attending the 
last sickness and death of Calvin are various and contra 
dictory. His disciple Beza, who wrote his life, represents 
his death as worthy of an apostle and of a saint. Yet even 
he, as we shall see, furnishes us with some particulars which 
would make us distrust the truth of this flattering picture. 
The diseases which led to his dissolution were many and 
complicated. In a letter to the physicians of Montpelier, 
written a short time before his death, Calvin gives a full 
account of the maladies with which he was tormented. 
Among these, he mentions " the dropsy, the stone, the gravel, 
colics, hemorrhoids, internal hemorrhages, quartan fever, 
cramps, spasmodic contractions of the muscles from the foot 

* Galiffe, Notices, torn, iii, p. 15. Apud Audin, vol. ii, p. 174. 


to the knee, and, during the whole summer, a frightful 
neuralgia or nervous affection."* 

His malady increasing, he dictated his last will and testa 
ment on the 26th of April, 1564% The greater part of this 
curious instrument is devoted to a defense of his conduct and 
motives throughout life ! f He " protests that he has endeav 
ored, according to the measure of grace given to him, to 
teach with purity the word of God, as well in his sermons 
as in his writings, and to expound faithfully the Holy Scrip 
tures. And that, in all the disputes which he had had with 
the enemies of truth, he had employed neither chicanery nor 
sophistry, but had proceeded roundly (rondement) to main 
tain the quarrel of God." In disposing of his effects, towards 
the close of his will, he thus speaks of his nephew: "As to 
my nephew David . . because he has been light and volatile, 
I leave him only twenty-five crowns (ecus) as a chastisement." 

On the morning of the 27th of May, at eight o clock, he 
breathed his last, after having passed a night of horrible 
agony. The circumstances of his death and burial were hid 
den and mysterious. His body was immediately covered, 
and his funeral was hastened : it took place at two o clock in 
the afternoon of the same day. Beza,J his favorite disciple, 
thus writes on the subject : 

" There were many strangers come from a distance, who wished greatly 

to see him, although he was dead, and made instance to that effect 

But, to obviate all calumnies, he was put into the coffin at eight o clock in 
the morning, and at two o clock in the evening was carried in the ordinary 
manner, as he himself had directed, to the common cemetery, called Plein 
Palais, without any pomp or parade, where he lies at the present day, 
awaiting the resurrection." 

The "calumnies" to which Beza refers were ^robably the 
public rumors spread through the city regarding the manner 
of the reformer s death. 

* See his letter in Audin, vol. ii, p. 452, seq. 
f It is given in full by Audin, ibid., p. 456, seq. 
| Vie de Calvin, apud Audin. 


"It was said that every one had been prohibited from entering into his 
chamber, because the body of the deceased bore traces of a desperate strug 
gle with death, and of a premature decomposition, in which the eye would 
have seen either visible signs of the divine vengeance, or marks of a shame 
ful disease ; and that in consequence a black veil was hastily thrown over 
the face of the corpse, and that he was interred before the rumor of his 
death had spread through the city. So fearful were his friends of indiscreet 
looks !"* 

The mystery seems, however, to have been penetrated by 
Haren, a young student who had visited Geneva to take les 
sons from Calvin. He penetrated into the chamber of the 
dying man, and he has furnished the following evidence of 
what he saw on the occasion. And we beg our readers to 
bear in mind that he was no enemy, but a partisan of Calvin, 
and that his testimony was wholly voluntary. 

" Calvin, ending his life in despair, died of a most shameful and disgust 
ing disease, which God has threatened to rebellious and accursed repro 
bates, having been first tortured in the most excruciating manner, and con 
sumed, to which fact I can testify most certainly, for I, being present, saw 
with these eyes his most sad and tragical death exitum et exitium."f 

In thus presenting to our readers a condensed and necessa 
rily imperfect summary of facts, many of them extracted 
from the public and official acts of the Genevan council and 
consistory in the sixteenth century, we would not be under 
stood as wishing to reflect upon -the character or conduct of 
the present professors of Calvinistic doctrines, many of whom 
are men estimable for their civic virtues. It is not our fault 
that the truth of history will not warrant a better character 
of Calvin. He was the most subtle, the most untiring, and 
perhaps the most able enemy of the Catholic Church. He 
played a public and conspicuous part in the great religioso- 
political drama of the sixteenth century ; he was the founder 
of a sect more distinguished than any other, perhaps, for its 

* Audin, vol. ii, p. 464, seq. 

f Johannes Harennius, apud Petrum Cutxenum. We have endeavored 
to give above a literal translation of his testimony, of which the original is 
in Latin. Ibid. 


inveterate opposition to Catholicity. Under these circum 
stances, his life, acts, and whole character, are surely public 
property ; and truth and justice required that they should be 
given to the public. This is precisely what Audin, and the 
Protestant historians of Geneva, Galiffe, and Gaberel, have^ 
done ; and, treading in their footsteps, we have only given a 
brief abstract of the result of their labors. 

Among the many proofs that the Catholic Church is the 
true Church of Christ, not the least striking is the fact, 
vouched for by authentic history, that all those who have left 
her bosom, and established religious sects, were men of either 
very doubtful, or of notoriously wicked and immoral charac 
ters. It is contrary to the order of God s providence to have 
selected men of this stamp, to become the reformers of His 
Church. This would derogate from his sanctity, and would 
reflect upon a religion which could be established, or reformed, 
by such instruments. This principle being once admitted, the 
inference from it is obvious. Whenever a change in religion 
call it reformation, or what you will has been effected uy 
men not remarkable for their sanctity, the fact of itself pre 
sents strong presumptive evidence that the change is not 
from God. If the men who effected it were notoriously 
flagitious, as most of the self-styled reformers of the sixteenth 
century certainly were, then the presumption grows into a 
moral certainty. Judged by this test, Calvinism was surely 
not the work of God. 




" The march of intellect ! what know we now 
Of moral, or of thought and sentiment, 
Which was not known three hundred years ago ? 
It is an empty boast, a vain conceit 
Of folly, ignorance, and base intent." 

Light and darkness Boast of D Aubigne Two sets of barbarians Catho 
lic and Protestant art The "painter of the Reformation" Two wit 
nesses against D Aubigne Schlegel Hallam " Bellowing in bad Latin " 
Testimony of Erasmus Destruction of monasteries Literary drought 
Luther s plaint Awful desolation An "iron padlock" Early Prot 
estant schools D Aubigne s omissions Burning seal Light and flame 
Zeal for ignorance Burning of libraries Rothman and Omar Disputa 
tious theology Its practical results Morbid taste The Stagirite 
Mutual distrust Case of Galileo Liberty of the press Old and new 
style Religious wars Anecdote of Reuchlin Italy pre-eminent Plaint 
of Leibnitz Revival of letters A shallow sophism A parallel Great 
inventions Literary ages Protestant testimony Dollinger s testimony 
of the reformers themselves. 

IT is one of the proudest boasts of the Reformation that it 
gave a powerful impulse to literature and the arts. Before it, 
the world was sunk in utter darkness, both religious and 
literary ; after it, all was light and refinement. Before it, 
society remained stationary ; after it, every thing was in a state 
of progression and improvement. But for the Reformation, 
we would still have been immersed in worse than Egyptian 
darkness ; we would have had neither science nor literature ! 

Such is the proudly boasting theory which has been 
broached and maintained by many superficial admirers of the 
Reformation. D Aubigne gravely asserts ; that the Reforma 
tion not only communicated a mighty impulse to literature, 
but served to elevate the arts, although Protestantism has 
often been reproached as their enemy/ * He laments that 
" many Protestants have willingly taken up and borne this 

* Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 190. 


reproach."* After devoting three pages to a tissue of gratu 
itous assertions and of special pleading to prove the " reproach 
unmerited," he winds up in this triumphant strain : " Thus 
every thing progressed arts, literature, purity of worship, 
and the minds of prince and people."! If the Reformation 
caused "the arts and literature" to progress no faster nor 
better than it did " the purity of worship, and the minds of 
prince and people," we greatly fear, from the many stubborn 
facts already adduced to elucidate the character of this lat 
ter progression, that the former was not rapid, nor even 

The Reformation favorable to the fine arts ! As well might 
you assert that a conflagration is beneficial to a city which it 
consumes, or that the incursions of the northern barbarians, 
in the fifth and sixth centuries, were favorable to architec 
ture, painting, sculpture, and the other fine arts. Wherever 
the Reformation appeared, it pillaged, defaced and often burnt 
churches and monasteries ; it broke up and destroyed statues 
and paintings ; and it often burnt whole libraries. Its ruth 
less vandalism spared none of the glories of the old Catholic 
art. Whatever was connected with the Catholic worship, or 
could serve as a memorial of old Catholic piety, was wantonly 

The armies of Goths and Vandals, who overran Italy and 
sacked Rome fourteen centuries ago, did not manifest a more 
ruthless and destructive spirit than did the Lutheran army 
of the Constable Bourbon, in their wanton pillage of Rome 
in 1527, after the battle of Pavia. 

" Rome had been taken and pillaged by the Constable Bourbon : his army, 
which was composed in good part of Lutherans, had filled the holy city with 
abominations. The soldiers of this prince had changed the basilica of St. 
Peter into a stable, and given papal bulls as litter to their horses. . . . They 
burned even the grass, and sold the ears of their prisoners for their weight 
in gold. The eternal city would have been destroyed, had not God cast on 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 190. J Ibid., p. 192. 


it an eye of pity. He made use of the pestilence, which this horde of bar 
barians had spread on its journey, to banish them from Italy."* 

Wolfgang Menzel furnishes the following summary account 
of the sack of the city :f 

" The Lancers ashamed of their conduct, demanded to be led against the 
Pope, and astonished Rome suddenly beheld the enemy before her gates. 
Charles de Bourbon was killed by a shot from the city. The soldiery, en 
raged at this catastrophe, carried it by storm, A. D. 1527. The pillage 
lasted fourteen days. The commands of the officers were disregarded, and 
Frundsberg fell ill from vexation. The Lutheran troopers converted the 
papal chapels into stables, dressed themselves in the cardinals robes, and 
proclaimed Luther Pope. Clement was besieged in the Torre di San Angelo 
and taken prisoner. The numbers of unburied bodies, however, produced a 
pestilence, which carried off the greater part of the invaders." 

Even the splendid creations of the genius of a Raphael, 
and of an Angelo, were not sacred in the eyes of this new 
northern horde. True, all this destruction took place in time 
of war; but its horrors had been increased tenfold by the 
religious fanaticism to which the Reformation had given rise. 
"We shall have occasion to prove, in the sequel, that similar 
enormities were perpetrated in time of peace, and under the 
sole pretext of religious zeal. 

Thus the Reformation destroyed many of the noblest works 
of art : what did it build up in their place ? Did it produce 
architects like Fontana, Julio Romano, Bramante, Michael 
Angelo, and Bernini ? Did it rear edifices to compare with 
those splendid Gothic piles scattered over Europe by the 
genius of Catholic architecture in the Middle Ages ? Or in 
any thing that could vie with St. Peter s church at Rome? 
Did it substitute higher or nobler melody for the sublime 
Catholic music which it had proscribed ? Did it give birth 
to painters and sculptors who could rival Leonardo da Vinci, 
Titian, the two Caracci, Domenichino, Paul Veronese, Ra 
phael, or Angelo ? 

* Audin, Life of Luther, p. 289, who quotes Guicciardini Sacco di Roma, 
Cochlaeus, De Marillac, and Maimbourg, 1, i. 
f History of Germany vol. ii, p. 247. 


D Aubigne indeed, boasts of the pictorial skill of Lucas 
Kranach, Holbein, and Albert Durer.* We do not question 
the genius of the two last named : but it must be remembered 
that they learned their art and caught its inspiration in Cath 
olic times. Their pencils were only occasionally employed 
on Protestant subjects. They were great artists before the^ 
Reformation began, and they continued to be pre-eminent in 
their profession in spite, rather than in consequence, of its in 
fluence. As for Lucas Kranach, whom our author triumph 
antly styles " the painter of the Reformation " he excelled 
chiefly in caricatures, in painting Pope-asses and monk-calves, 
Popes surrounded by troops of demons, and priests and monks 
in all possible ridiculous garbs and attitudes. We are willing 
to concede to him the title which his eulogist has awarded, 
and which we consider not inappropriate. The Reformation 
is heartily welcome to all the credit it may have derived from 
his eminence in art. 

To show what was the influence of the Reformation on 
literature in general, we will adduce the testimony of two 
distinguished writers of the present century, against whose 
authority the flippant assertions of D Aubigne will not weigh 
a feather with any enlightened or impartial man. Frederick 
Yon Schlegel and Henry Hallam have both investigated this 
subject thoroughly, and have given to the world the result of 
their inquiry. The former may be ranked among the giants 
of modern literature; he has given a powerful impulse to 
learning and to Christian philosophy in Germany, and through 
out the world. A German himself, and proud of his national 
literature, he has examined the subject of which we are treat 
ing in all its bearings. Though his great mind had escaped 
from the vagaries and endless variations of Protestantism in 
which he was raised, and sought repose in the bosom of 
Catholic unity, yet it was as free from undue prejudice as it 
was indefatigable in its inquiry after truth. We have already 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 192. 


seen how greatly he admired the genius of Luther, in whose 
mind, however, he detected a tincture of insanity. In his 
writings, he speaks of the Reformation, always with calmness 
and dignified impartiality, sometimes even with praise of the 
good of which it may have been incidentally the occasion. 

Hallam was a Protestant, who, though generally impartial 
and accurate in his statements, was still sometimes betrayed 
into error by his ill concealed hostility to the Catholic Church. 
He has lately published a History of Literature during the 
sixteenth century, and the two centuries preceding and fol 
lowing. The plan of this work necessarily called for a 
thorough investigation of the very subject of our present 
chapter ; and he has accordingly given his opinion of the 
literary influence of the Reformation with clearness and force. 
We make these remarks, to show that both the witnesses 
whom we are about to bring up against D Aubigne s theory, 
are weighty and unexceptionable. 

Schlegel very properly designates the epoch of the Refor 
mation as the barbaro-polemic. 

"A third epoch now arose, which, from the general spirit of the age, and 
the tone of the writings which exerted a commanding influence over the 
times, cannot be otherwise designated than as the era of barbaro-polemic 
eloquence. This rude polemic spirit which had its origin in the Reforma 
tion, and in that concussion of faith, and, consequently, of all thought and 
of all science, which Protestantism occasioned continued, down to the 
end of the seventeenth century, to prevail in the controversial writings and 
philosophic speculations both of Germany and England. This spirit was 
not incompatible with a sort of deep mystical sensibility, and a contain orig 
inal boldness of thought and expression, such, for instance, as Luther s writ 
ings display ; yet we cannot at all regard in a favorable light the general 
spirit of that intellectual epoch, or consider it as one by any means adapted 
to the intellectual exigencies of that age."* 

He concludes his lecture on this epoch in the following 
words of just indignation : 

" When we hear the Middle Age called barbarous, we should remember 
that that epithet applies with far greater force to the truly barbarous era of 

* " Philosophy of History," vol. ii, p. 210, 211, edit, tit supra. 


the Reformation, and of the religious wars which that event produced, and 
which continued down to the period when a sort of moral and political pacif 
ication was re-established, apparently at least, in society and the human 

Hallam gives his opinion in still more explicit language. 
He says : 

" Nor, again, is there any foundation for imagining that Luther was con 
cerned for the interests of literature. None had he himself, save theological ; 
nor are there, as I apprehend, many allusions to profane studies, or any 
proof of his regard to them, in all his works. On the contrary, it is probable 
that both the principles of this great founder of the Reformation, and the 
natural tendency of so intense an application to theological controversy, 
checked for a time the progress of philological and philosophical literature 
on this side the Alps."f 

A little further on, he thus treats of the general literary 
influence of the Reformation: 

"The first effects of the great religious schism in Germany were not 
favorable to classical literature. An all-absorbing subject left neither relish 
nor leisure for human studies. Those who had made the greatest advances 
in learning were themselves generally involved in theological controversy, 
and, in some countries, had to encounter either personal suffering on account 
of their opinions, or at least the jealousy of a church (Protestant ?) that 
hated the advance of knowledge. The knowledge of Greek and Hebrew 
was always liable to the suspicion of heterodoxy. In Italy, where classical 
literature was the chief object, this dread of learning could not subsist. 
But few learned much of Greek in these parts of Europe without some 
reference to theology, especially to the grammatical interpretation of the 
Scriptures. In those parts which embraced the Reformation, a still more 
threatening danger arose from the intemperate fanaticism of its adherents. 
Men who interpreted the Scripture by the Spirit could not think human 
learning of much value in religion ; and they were as little likely to perceive 
any other advantage it could possess. There seemed, indeed, a considerable 
peril that, through the authority of Karlstadt, or even of Luther, the lessons 
of Crocus and Mossellanus would be totally forgotten. And this would 
very probably have been the case if one man, Melancthon, had not perceived 

* " Philosophy of History," vol. ii, p. 216. 

f " Introduction to the Literature of Europe, in the fifteenth, sixteenth, 
and seventeenth centuries," in 2 vols., 8vo, vol. i, p. 165, edit. Harper & 
Brothers, New York, 1841. 


the necessity of preserving human learning as a bulwark to theology itself 
against the wild waves of enthusiasm."* 

In another place, he asserts that " the most striking effect 
of the first preaching of the Eeformation was that it appealed 
to the ignorant."f He gives the following opinion in regard 
to the character of Luther s writings : 

" But from the Latin works of Luther few readers, I believe, will rise 
without disappointment. Their intemperance, their coarseness, their inele 
gance, their scurrility, their wild paradoxes, that menace the foundations of 
religious morality, are not compensated, so far at least as my slight acquaint 
ance with them extends, by much strength or acuteness, and still less by 
any impressive eloquence. Some of his treatises, and we may instance his 
reply to Henry VIII., or the book against the falsely named order of 
bishops, can be described as little else than bellowing in bad Latin. Neither 
of these books displays, so far as I can judge, any striking ability. " 

"It is not to be imagined," he continues, "that a man of his vivid parts 
fails to perceive an advantage in that close grappling, sentence by sentence, 
with an adversary, which fills most of his controversial writings : and in 
scornful irony he had no superior. His epistle to Erasmus, prefixed to his 
treatise De Servo Arbitrio, is bitterly insolent in terms as civil as lie could 
use. But the clear and comprehensive line of argument which enlightens 
the reader s understanding and resolves his difficulties, is always wanting. 
An unbounded dogmatism, resting on the infallibility, practically speaking, 
of his own judgment, pervades his writings; no indulgence is shown, no 
pause allowed to the hesitating ; whatever stands in the way of his decisions 
the fathers of the Church, the schoolmen and philosophers, the canons and 
councils is swept away in a current of impetuous declamation : and, as 
every thing contained in Scripture, according to Luther, is easy to be under 
stood, and can only be understood in his sense, every deviation from his 
doctrine incurs the anathema of perdition. Jerome, he says, far from being 
rightly canonized, must, but for some special grace, have been damned for 
his interpretation of St. Paul s Epistle to the Komans. That the Zuinglians, 
as well as the whole Church of Eome, and the Anabaptists, were shut out 
by their tenets from salvation, is more than insinuated in numerous passages 
of Luther s writings. Yet he had passed himself through several changes 
of opinion. In 1518, he rejected auricular confession ; in 1520, it was both 
useful and necessary ; not long afterwards, it was again laid aside. I have 

* "Introduction to the Literature of Europe," etc., vol. i, p. 181, \ 19. 
f Ibid., p. 192, 12. 


found it impossible to understand or to reconcile his tenets concerning faith 
and works, etc."* 

"We might rest the whole case on the authority of the two 
learned witnesses just named: but we will proceed to show 
that their opinion is correct, because clearly founded on the 
facts of history, and on the testimony of writers contemporary, 
with the Reformation itself. Erasmus was the most distin 
guished literary character of Germany in the sixteenth cen 
tury. He was an eye-witness of the earlier scenes in the 
great drama of the Reformation. He will scarcely be sus 
pected, when it is known that he was the intimate friend and 
correspondent of Melancthon and of other leading reformers, 
towards whose party he was charged with leaning. He was 
certainly a competent judge of the literary influence of the 
change in religion, and he was not disposed to undervalue 
that influence, even after his rupture with Luther. 

The Reformation had been enlightening the world for 
about ten years, when Erasmus wrote : " Wherever Luther- 
anism reigns, there literature utterly perishes."f In the same 
year, 1528, he employed the following language in one of his 
letters : " I dislike these gospelers on many accounts, but 
chiefly because, through their agency, literature everywhere 
languishes, disappears, lies drooping, and perishes : and yet, 
without learning, what is a man s life ? They love good cheer 
and a wife ; for other things they care not a straw." J In a 
letter to Melancthon, he states that " at Strasburg the Prot 
estant party had publicly taught, in 1524, that it was not 
right to cultivate any science, and that no language should be 
studied except the Hebrew." 

* Introduction to the Literature of Europe," etc., vol. i, pp. 197, 198, $ 26. 

f " Ubicumque regnat Lutheranismus, ibi literarum est interitus." Epist. 
mvi, anno 1528. Apud Hallam ut sup., vol. i, p. 165. 

| " Evangelicos istos, cum multis aliis, turn hoc nomine praecipue odi, quod 
per eos ubique languent, fugiunt, jacent, intereunt bonse literae, sine quibus 
quid est hominum vita ? Amant viaticum et uxorem ; castera pili non fa- 
ciunt." Epis. dccccxlvi, eod. anno. Apud Hallam, vol. i, p. 165. 

Epist. 714 ad Melancthonem. 


These grave charges of Erasmus were never answered, be 
cause they were, it would seem, too clearly founded in truth 
to admit of a reply. Had not Luther himself, the founder of 
the Reformation, in his appeal to the German nobility, as 
early as 1520, openly taught that the works of Plato, Cicero, 
Aristotle, and of all the ancients, should be burnt, and that 
the time which was not devoted to the study of the Scriptures 
should be employed in manual labor?* And we shall soon 
see that many of Luther s disciples took him at his word, and 
that the early history of the Keformation more than justifies 
the accusations of Erasmus. 

One of the first effects of the Reformation in Germany was 
the secularization and destruction of the monasteries, and the 
expulsion of the bishops from their sees. This measure of 
violence was of itself most disastrous to literature. In Cath 
olic times there were flourishing schools established in all the 
principal monasteries, as well as near all the cathedral and 
many of the parochial churches. Literature had been ever 
cultivated under the shadow of the Catholic churches. Popes 
and councils, almost without number, had, during the Middle 
Ages, enforced the obligation of establishing such schools 
throughout Christendom.! In those Catholic institutions, 
reared in Catholic times, and by the express injunction of the 
Catholic Church, all the distinguished men of Germany in 
the sixteenth century had been educated : Reuchlin, Erasmus, 
Luther, Melancthon, (Ecolampadius, Bucer, Eck, Emser, 
Zuingle, and others. The Reformation was thus indebted 
to these very Catholic schools for all its leading champions. 

When the monasteries were destroyed, and the cathedral 
churches desecrated and dismantled, all those flourishing liter 
ary institutions were abolished : and the funds for their 
support, accumulated by the liberality of previous ages, were 
devoured by the avarice of the reform party. Hundreds of 

* Epist. ad nobiles Germanicae, anno 1520. See Robelot, p. 358. 
f For more facts on this subject, we take the liberty to refer our readers 
to the essay on schools an^ universities in the Dark Ages, iu our Miscellanea. 
VOL. I. 34 


flourishing colleges and academies of learning were thus 
destroyed at one stroke. No wonder "literature drooped 
and perished wherever Lutheranism reigned!" The foun 
tains of Catholic learning, ever open and flowing by the side 
of the Catholic Church and monastery, having been thus 
suddenly dried up, all Germany was made desolate with a 
literary drought and sterility. Did the Reformation, during 
the first fifty years of its history, give birth to even one great 
literary character, if we except those who had been reared 
under Catholic auspices ? If it did, we have yet to learn his 
name and his claims on the gratitude of mankind.* 

Luther himself was appalled at the extent of the desolation 
which his own recklessness had caused. In his own charac 
teristic style, he poured forth a plaintive jeremiad, mingled 
with bitter invective and reproach against the leaders of the 
Protestant party. He lashed without mercy the avarice of 
the princes, who, after having devoured the substance of the 
Church and the funds of the Catholic schools, closed their 
purses, and refused to contribute to the erection of establish 
ments to replace those they had thus wantonly annihilated. 

" Others," he says, " close their hands, and refuse to provide for their pas 
tor and preacher, and even to support them. If Germany will act thus, I 
am ashamed to be one of her children, and to speak her language : and if I 
were permitted to impose silence on my conscience (!), I would call in the 
Pope, and assist him and his minions to forge new chains for us, to subject 
us to new tortures, and to injure us more than before." 

"Formerly," he continues, when we were the slaves of Satan, when we 
profaned the blood of Christ, all purees were open. Money could be pro 
cured for endowing churches, for raising seminaries, for maintaining super 
stitions. Then nothing was spared to put children in the cloister, to send 
them to school ; but now, when we must raise pious academies, and endow 
the church of Jesus Christ endow, did I say, no, but assist in preserving 
her, for it is the Lord who has founded this church, and who watches over 

* The first that we know of, are Scaliger, Casaubon, and Grotius, who 
flourished a hundred years after the beginning of the Reformation, the two 
last of whom were almost Catholics, as we have already shown. Of Tycho 
Brahe and Kepler, we will speak a little further on. 


h er n ow that we know the divine word, and that we have learned to honor 
the word of our Martyr-God, the purses are closed with iron padlocks ! No 
one wishes to give any thing ! The children are neglected, and no one 
teaches them to serve God, to venerate the blood of Jesus, while they are 
joyfully immolated to Mammon. The blood of Jesus is trampled under 
foot ! And these are Christians ! No schools ! no cloisters ! The grass is 
withered, and the flower is fallen. Nowadays, when these carnal men are 
secure from the apprehensions of seeing their sons abandon them, and their 
daughters enter the convent, deprived of their patrimonies, there is no one 
who cultivates the understanding of children ! What would they learn, 
say they, when they are to be neither priests nor monks ? "* 

He made a strong appeal to the Protestant princes of Germany, to induce 
them to found schools and academies. He told them that it was " their duty 
to oblige the cities and villages to raise schools, found masterships, and sup 
port pastors, as they are bound to make bridges and roads, and to raise pub 
lic edifices. I would wish, if possible," he adds, " to leave these men without 
preacher and pastor, and let them live like swine. There is no longer any 
fear or love of God among them. After throwing off the yoke of the Pope, 
every one wishes to live as he pleases. But it is the duty of all, especially 
of the prince, to bring up youth in the fear and love of the Lord, and to 
provide them with teachers and pastors. If the old people care not for these 
things, let them go to the d 1. But it would be a shame for the govern 
ment to let the youth wallow in the mire of ignorance and vice."f 

This attempt to compel the people to support, by heavy 
taxation, institutions which had been hitherto reared and 
maintained by Catholic charity, seems to have proved little 
acceptable either to princes or people. Luther s voice, which 
had been omnipotent when it preached up destruction and 
spoliation, now fell powerless, when it was at length tardily 
raised to enforce the necessity of liberal contribution for the 
rearing of institutions to replace those which had been wan 
tonly destroyed. When his eloquence filled men s pockets, 
it was effectual for persuasion ; when it was employed to 
empty them, it was a different matter altogether : the purses 
of his hearers were closed with " the iron padlock" which he 
himself had constructed ! 

* See Ad. Menzel, (a Protestant,) ut supra, torn, i, p. 231. Apud Audin. 
f Luther, Werke, edit. Altenberg, torn, iii, 519. Reinhardt Sammtliche 
Reformations predigten, toin. iii, p. 445. Ibid. 


Few and feeble were the efforts made by early Protestant 
ism to rear schools and colleges. Erasmus bears evidence to 
their utter failure even when they were made. He says : 

" These gospelers also hate me, because I said that their gospel cooled 
down the love of literature. In reply they point to Niirenberg, where the 
professors of polite literature are liberally rewarded. Be it so : but if you 
ask the inhabitants, they will tell you that these professors have few scholars, 
and that the masters are as indisposed to teach, as the students to learn ; 
so that tlie scholars, no Hess tlian tlie professors, will have to be paid for their 
attendance. I know not what will result from all these city and village 
schools ; hitherto I have not met with any one who profited by them."* 

It is curious to observe how D Aubigne passes over alto 
gether, or how very delicately he alludes to these stubborn 
facts in reference to the literary tendency of the Reformation. 
They did not suit his taste, and did not therefore come within 
the scope of his partisan history! He speaks with great 
praise of the effort made by Luther to have schools established 
throughout Germany by law ; but he carefully refrains from 
telling his readers of the literary desolation which Luther so 
strongly deplored, though himself had brought it about ! He 
omits entirely, or strives to palliate the destructive spirit of 
early Protestantism, which, with more than vandalic fury, 
swept away from the face of the earth schools and academies, 
and burnt monasteries and libraries, both public and private. 
A volume might be filled with instances of this violence : we 
will select a few by way of supplying somewhat the mani 
fold omissions of our very romantic historian. 

When on his way to the diet of Worms, in 1521, Luther 
passed through the town of Erfurth, in the Augustinian con 
vent of which place he had passed many years of his early 
life. The people received him with open arms. He made a 
most inflammatory harangue in the parish church, where he 
was wont to preach of old ; and so great was the effect of his 
eloquence, that " a few weeks after his departure, the populace 

* "In Pseudo-Evangelicos." Epist. xlvii, lib. xxxi, edit. London, Flesh- 
er. Ibid. 


made a furious attack on the residence of the canons, and de 
stroyed every thing they met with books, images, paintings, 
furniture, beds, the feathers of which fell, like a thick snow, 
on the streets, and obscured for a moment the brightness of 
the day."* 

This was but one out of a hundred examples of similar 
outrage, enacted not only under the eyes of Luther, but often 
with his connivance and consent. The work of destruction 
went on, until there was scarcely left in all Protestant Ger 
many one of the many splendid monuments reared by the old 
Catholic literature and art. 

" Those illuminated manuscripts those ancient crucifixes, carved in wood 
and ivory those episcopal rings, the gifts of Popes and emperors those rich 
vestments, painted glass, gold and silver ciboria in a word, all the relics of 
the middle ages, which are exhibited in the rich museums of Germany, were 
in great part the property of the convents. To get possession of them, the 
monks were secularized. After three centuries, nothing better calculated to 
give us an idea of German art at that period has been thought of, than to 
exhibit the remains of those whom the reformers robbed when living, and 
calumniated when dead ! "f 

And yet these are but a scanty remnant of those vast liter 
ary and artistic treasures which the Reformation utterly 
destroyed ! 

In Switzerland, as elsewhere, violence was the order of the 
day. The Reformation triumphed amidst the ruins with 
which it everywhere strewed the earth ! 

"Zuingle ascended the pulpit, and declaimed against images, which, he 
said, were condemned by the law of Moses and the gospel, as this latter did 
not revoke the command of the Hebrew legislator. Not only were paintings 
and statues mutilated and destroyed wherever the Reformation gained parti 
sans, but the flames were fed by the manuscripts in which generations of 
monks had, in the solitude of their cloisters, endeavored to represent, in colors 
that time could not efface, the principal scenes of human redemption. Even 
in private houses the hammer s stroke fell on those painted windows which 
modern art endeavors unsuccessfully to revive." f 

* Lutheri Opp., torn, i, fol. 704, edit. Altenb. Apud Audin, p. 158. 

f ^.udin, p. 365. 

\ Idem, ibid., p. 204. See also Erasmus, lib. yjy, epist. iv. 


D Aubigne furnishes us with a curious instance of this 
destructive fanaticism at Zurich. The hero of the story is 
Thomas Plater, whom he eulogizes to the skies, though he 
feebly disapproves of his conduct in the incident in which he 
was the actor. 

" The light of the gospel quickly found its way to his heart (!). One morn 
ing, when it was very cold, and fuel was wanted to heat the school-room 
stove, which it was his office to tend, he said to himself: Why need I be at 
a loss for wood when there are so many idols in the church ? The church 
was then empty, though Zuingle was expected to preach (!), and the bells 
were already ringing to summon the congregation. Plater entered with a 
noiseless step, grappled an image of St. John, which stood over one of the 
altars, carried it off, and thrust it into the stove, saying, as he did so, Down 
with thee, for in thou must go. Certainly neither Myconius nor Zuingle 
would have applauded such an act."* 

What ! when " the light of the gospel had found its way to 
his heart ! " Who could blame him for following this light, 
and even for kindling it into a flame? Our author also 
informs us of the fanatical hatred of learning entertained 
by Karlstadt and the prophets, who headed the revolt of the 

" But soon after this, Karlstadt went to still greater lengths ; he began to 
pour contempt upon human learning ; and the students heard their aged 
tutor advising them, from his rostrum, to return to their homes, and resume 
the spade, or follow the plow, and cultivate the earth, because man was to 
eat bread in the sweat of his brow ! George Mohr, master of the boys 
school at Wittenberg, carried away by a similar madness, called from his 
window to the burghers outside to come and remove their children. Where 
indeed was the use of their continuing their studies, since Storck and Stiibner 
had never been at the university, and yet were prophets ? A mechanic was 
just as well, nay, perhaps better qualified than all the divines in the world, 
to preach the gospel ! "f 

Who can calculate the mischief these doctrines did to 
literature? Who can estimate the literary treasures which 
were annihilated in the bloody war of the peasants, led on 
by men who openly avowed their hostility to all human 

* D Aubigne, vol. iii, p. 253. f Ibid., p. 61. 


learning? In the ravages of Germany, perpetrated by the 
hostile armies, before the revolt was finally stifled in their 
own blood, scenes of destruction were enacted, which would 
have put to the blush the Gothic armies of old ! 

Another class of religionists, the Anabaptists, to whose 
fanaticism the principles of the Reformation had manifestly 
led, were no less inimical to learning. Having seized on the 
city of Munster, from which they had expelled the prince 
bishop, they issued an order to devastate the churches, which 
was accordingly done. They then went further. In the mad 
intoxication of triumph, "a manifesto, published by Roth- 
mann, decided that as there was only one book necessary to 
salvation the Bible all others should be burned, as useless 
or dangerous. Two hours afterwards, the library of Rudolph 
Langius, consisting almost entirely of Greek and Latin manu 
scripts, perished in the flames."* The Caliph Omar, for a 
similar reason, had ordered the great library of Alexandria 
to be burned, A.D. 632. A fine example truly, and faith 
fully followed ! 

But it was not merely by acts of violence that the Refor 
mation injured the cause of literature ; it brought into action 
many other influences highly prejudicial to the progress of 
learning. We shall briefly advert to some of the principal 
of these, and will begin with that already referred to by 

The Reformation fevered the minds of men with religious 
controversy. It drew off the votaries of literature from the 
academic groves and the Pierian springs, into the arid and 
thorny paths of disputatious theology. Though many of the 
theological disputants, who appeared on the arena at the 
period of the Reformation, obtained temporary credit for 
themselves and their cause by their writings, yet it is certain 
that the literary world, at least, would have been more bene 
fited, had they devoted their mental energies to the prosecution 

* See Histoire des Anabaptistes, par Catrou, Liv. ii ; and Audin, p. 460. 


of scientific studies. There is no doubt, that from this cause, 
the ranks of the literati, both among Catholics and Protestants, 
were much thinned; and that in consequence the ardor for 
literary pursuits was greatly abated. Had the world con 
tinued in religious unity, and had no acrimonious controversies 
arisen, such men as Luther, Bucer, Melancthon, Eck, Emser, 
and Bellarmine, might have been able to contribute their full 
share to the progress of letters. 

To show how this cause practically operate d to the detri 
ment of literature, we will furnish a few facts, selected almost 
at random from many of the same kind. "We have seen how 
the fanaticism of the Anabaptists destroyed manuscripts and 
burnt an extensive library in the city of Minister. It is curi 
ous to trace the beginning of this fanaticism, and to mark its 
influence on literature in that city. Before the appearance 
of Luther, Munster enjoyed peace and tranquillity, and culti 
vated learning with great success. Shortly after the com 
mencement of the Reformation, the scene changed altogether. 
Says Audin : 

"It suddenly became a city of trouble and disorder was restless and 
uneasy under its obscurity, and aspired to be the rival of Wittenberg. It 
was a rich and commercial city, and had cultivated literature with success. 
Its university had merited the attention of the literary world. It loved 
antiquity, especially Greece, whose poets it published and elucidated. This 
was the passion until the disciples of Luther entered its gates, when this 
demi-classic city half Greek and half Latin, by its morals and instincts 
involved itself in theological disputes, and abandoned the study of Cicero 
and Homer, to become interpreter of the sacred volume. It is needless to 
say, that it found in these inspired writings many things that our fathers 
never dreamed of. Then all the classic divinities abandoned Munster, as 
the swallows fly away in winter, only that they did not intend to return. 
In their place, an acrimonious and punctilious theology destroyed the peace 
of scholars, masters, and people. The revolutionary progress of sectarians 
is always the same."* 

Whoever will read attentively the history of the Reforma 
tion, will be struck with the truth of this last remark. In 

* Audin, " Life of Luther," p. 458. 


almost every city in Germany where the reformers made 
their appearance, they produced, to a greater or less extent, 
the same disastrous revolution in literary taste, which they 
effected in Minister. Even Charles Villers, one of the most 
unscrupulous advocates of the Reformation, admits that " the 
attention of the literary world was turned away, for more 
than a century (after the Reformation) unto miserable dis 
putes about dogmas, and confessions of faith."* Controversy 
was not only carried on between the champions of Catholicity 
and of Protestantism, but it raged violently in the bosom of 
the reform party itself. Men, who might have been of im 
mense service to the republic of letters, thus wasted their 
energies in sectarian contentions. For more than six years a 
violent dispute was carried on between the Lutherans and 
Calvinists on the subject of the Eucharist, and at the close 
of it, they were more widely separated than ever. Leibnitz 
tells us, that a single controversy between two Protestant 
divines of Leipsic, on the peremptory period of repentance, 
gave rise to more than fifty treatises in Latin and German.f 

The eagerness for religious controversy among the earlier 
Protestants of Germany, forcibly reminds us of the picture 
which St. Gregory of Kyssa draws of a similar rage of dispu 
tation on the subject of the Trinity, among the sectarians of 
Constantinople under the Emperor Theodosius the Great. 
"If you wish to change a piece of money," says he, "you are 
first entertained with a long discourse on the difference of the 
Son who is born, and of the Son who is not born. If you 
ask the price of bread, you are answered, that the Father is 
greater, and that the Son is less ; and if you ask, when will 
the bath be warm ? you are seriously assured, that the Son 
was created. "J 

It is a singular fact, that notwithstanding the invectives of 
Luther against the philosophy of Aristotle, it was still retained 

* Essai sur 1 Influence, etc., ut sup., p. 276. 

f Commercii Epist. Leibnitziana, Selecta Specimina Hanoverae. 1805, 
Epist, xcv. \ Apud Kobelot, p. 390, sup. cit. 

VOL. T. 35 


in most of the Protestant universities of Germany, and even 
made the standard of disputation. Melancthon published 
commentaries on the writings of the Stagirite, and the 
authority of the latter was greatly respected by the German 
Protestant universities, as late as the close of the eighteenth 
century. Ramus was refused a professorship at Geneva, be 
cause he would not adopt the philosophy of Aristotle, which 
was still taught in this cradle of Calvinism.* While Prot 
estant Germany was thus sternly upholding the system of 
philosophy which Luther had decried and endeavored to ban 
ish from Christendom, the new school of the Platonic phi 
losophy was established in Italy, under the auspices of the 
Medici. All the invectives of the reformers against the subtle 
disputations of the schoolmen, who had adopted the Aristote 
lian philosophy, thus recoiled on the heads of their own party. 
The mutual distrust and suspicion, which the Reformation 
sowed in the minds of men, constituted another serious ob 
stacle to the progress of letters. Competition and emulation 
often elicit talent and promote improvement ; but when this 
feeling degenerates into a suspicious jealousy and mutual 
hatred, it greatly retards advancement in learning. Whatso 
ever new systems of literature or of philosophy were broached 
by one religious party, were often rejected, through a mere 
spirit of opposition, by the other. When mankind were united 
in religious faith, they worked in unison for the promotion of 
learning : when they were split up into religious parties, they 
often mutually thwarted and hindered one another. The 
endless variations and vagaries of Protestantism, on the one 
hand, led to a skepticism, which sneered at every system 
which savored of antiquity, no matter how well grounded ; 
and the cautious dread of innovation by the Catholic Church, 
on the other, caused her sometimes to view with suspicion, 
at least for a time, new systems of philosophy which were 
sustained by respectable, if not conclusive arguments. 

* Beza, Epist. xxxvi, p. 202. Apud Robelot, p. 362. 


An example of the former feeling of skepticism is given 
by the French philosopher Maupertuis, who tells us that it 
required a half century to satisfy the learned as to the truth 
of the principle of attraction, which was at first viewed as 
reviving a feature of the odious occult sciences, so extensively 
cultivated in previous centuries.* A remarkable instance of 
the dread of innovation on the part of the Catholic Church, 
is presented by the well known case of Galileo. The wanton 
abuse of the Scriptures, for the support of a thousand con 
flicting opinions, by the disciples of the Reformation, had 
rendered every species of innovation, which was attempted 
to be proved by their authority, an object of apprehension 
on the part of Rome. It may be confidently asserted, that, 
but for the distrust sowed by the Reformation, and for the 
attempt made by Galileo to prove his system, not merely as a 
specious theory but as incontestably true, by the i. nthority of 
the written word, he would never have been molested. 

Some time before the days of Galileo, Cardinal Nicholas 
de Cusa had openly defended the system of Philolaus and 
Pythagoras, on the motion of the earth ; and no one then 
thought of opposing the theory on religious grounds. Nearly 
a century before Galileo, Nicholas Copernicus, a Catholic 
priest, had openly advocated the same theory : and he was 
not only not opposed, but Pope Paul Ill.f approved of the 
dedication to himself of his great work on the revolutions of 
the heavenly bodies.J How are we then to explain that a 
system, which was thus openly maintained for nearly a cen 
tury by cardinals and prelates at Rome itself, where Coper 
nicus had been professor of astronomy and all this, without 

* Apud Robelot, p. 355. 

f A copy of the original work of Copernicus is preserved in the British 
Museum. It was printed at Nurenberg by John Petreius, at the expense 
of Nicholas Schomberg, the cardinal of Capua, In the beginning of the 
volume is printed a laudatory letter of the cardinal to Copernicus, dated 
Borne, 1st of November, 1536. 

| "De Orbium Coelestium Revolutionibus." Folio 1543, p. 196. 


any opposition from the Roman court was afterwards viewed 
with some suspicion, when too warmly advocated on scrip 
tural grounds by Galileo ? 

The reason is manifest : the wanton abuse of the Scriptures 
by the partisans of the Reformation had made Rome, suspi 
cious of every thing which savored of novelty. Ambitious 
rivals, whom the literary fame of Galileo had eclipsed, had 
also represented his system in an odious and false light 
to the Roman court: they had painted it as opposed to the 
Scriptures, to the testimony of which Galileo himself on the 
other hand as confidently appealed. The whole issue was 
thus made on scriptural grounds. Rome took the alarm, and, 
without condemning the system of Galileo as false, enjoined 
silence on the disputants. Galileo remained in Rome from 
February to July, 1633, a space of more than five months, 
during which time he resided at the spacious palace of his 
special friend, the Tuscan ambassador, who was his surety 
during the trial. For only four days at most, even according 
to the testimony of Mr. Drinkwateir, his Protestant historian, 
was he in nominal confinement ; being " honorably lodged in 
the apartments of the fiscal of the Inquisition."* 

The reckless abuse of the Scriptures by the Reformation, 
and the distrust thereby occasioned, are thus alone responsible 
for this temporary check to scientific improvement in the 
person of Galileo. But, on the other hand, as an offset to the 
case of the Italian philosopher, did not the Protestant astrono 
mer, Tycho Brahe, invent, on scriptural grounds, a system, at 
variance with the Copernican, and now universally rejected, 
though then popular among Protestants ? And was not his 
great disciple Kepler, as well as himself, persecuted by Prot 
estants, for his valuable discoveries in astronomy ?| 

* Drinkwater Life of Galileo, p. 58, and p. 64. See on this subject an 
able article in the Dublin Keview, lately republished in Cincinnati in pamph 
let form. It exhausts the subject. 

f Kepler and Tycho Brahe, the former a Gel-man, the latter a Dane, were 
intimate friends and associates. They were both employed as imperial 


The authority of an unexceptionable witness, Henry Hal- 
lam, strongly confirms the view just taken of the case of Gali 
leo. He says : " For eighty years, it has been said, this theory 
of the earth s motiop had been maintained, without censure ; 
and it could only be the greater boldness of Galileo in its 
assertion which drew down upon him the notice of the 
Church."* In a note,f he disproves the assertion of Drink- 
water " that Galileo did not endeavor to prove his system 
compatible with Scripture ;" and adds : " it seems, in fact, to 
have been this over desire to prove his theory orthodox, which 
incensed the Church against it. See an extraordinary article 
on this subject in the eighth number of the Dublin Review."J 
Guicciardini, an ardent disciple of Galileo, in a letter dated 
March 4th, 1616, says, " that he had demanded of the Pope 
and the Holy Office to declare the system of Copernicus 
founded on the Bible." At Borne, Galileo was treated most 
kindly by the Pope and the cardinals, as he himself testifies 
in a letter to his disciple Receneri, written in 1633. 

The restrictions on the liberty of the press were also often 
injurious to the progress of learning. Protestant govern 
ments in Europe have been, and are even at this day, deserv 
ing of at least as much censure on this subject as those of 
Catholic countries. The supposed necessity for a censorship 
of the press, frequently originated in the wanton abuse of it 

astronomers by the Emperor Rudolph II., after having been but little appre 
ciated, if not severely treated by their Protestant brethren in their own 
countries. Of Kepler W. Menzel writes as follows : " His discovery was 
condemned by the Tubingen university (Protestant). as contrary to the Bible. 
He was about to destroy his work, when an asylum was granted to him at 
G-raetz, which he afterwards quitted for the imperial court. He was, not 
withstanding his Lutheran principles, tolerated by the Jesuits, who knew how 
to value scientific knowledge. He was persecuted solely in his native country, 
where he with difficulty saved his mother from being burnt as a witch." 
History of Germany, vol. ii, p. 308, note ; Bohn s edition. 

* History of Literature, etc., vol. ii, p. 248. f Ibid., p. 249. 

J See also the article Sciences Humaines in Bergier s Dictionary, which 
sheds much light on this whole transaction. 

$ Published in the " Mercure de France," July 17, 1784. 


by those who had adopted the principles of the Keformation. 
But for the mutual distrust which this revolution caused to 
arise in the minds of men, the press would have been free, or 
at least much less restricted than it really was. We, in fact, 
read of little or no restriction on the liberty of the press, until 
some time after the Reformation ; though the art of printing 
had been in successful operation for more than half a century. 
Thus the Reformation is fairly chargeable, at least in a great 
measure, with having originated, or at least occasioned that 
very censorship of the press, which is so often the burden of 
the invectives of its partisans against the Catholic Church. 

But perhaps the most singular instance of the obstacles 
thrown in the way of literary improvement by the Reforma 
tion, is that furnished by the obstinate resistance of the Prot 
estant governments of Europe, to the change in the Calendar, 
introduced by Pope Gregory XIII., in the year 1582. The 
correction of the Calendar was founded on the clearest and 
most incontestable principles of astronomy ; and yet, solely 
because the improvement emanated from Rome, England re 
fused to adopt it for one hundred and seventy years until 
1752 ; Sweden adopted the new style, a year later, in 1753, 
and the German states, the very cradle of the Reformation, 
only in 1776 ! As a distinguished writer has caustically re 
marked, the Protestant potentates preferred " warring with 
the stars to agreeing with the Pope !" 

The long and bloody religious wars, which the Reformation 
caused in Germany, were another very serious hinderance to 
the progress of learning. These wars continued at intervals 
for nearly one hundred and fifty years, until the treaty of 
"Westphalia in 1648 ; and they filled all Germany with wide 
spread desolation. The war of extermination against the 
peasants, the bloody war against the Anabaptists, the wars 
of Charles V., and the Protestant princes of Germany ; and 
finally, the terrible thirty years war from 1618 to 1648 
between the Catholic party headed by the house of Austria, 
and the Protestant party led on chiefly by the kings of Swe- 


den ; made all Germany a scene of turmoil, confusion, and 
bloodshed. How many of the monuments of ancient litera 
ture and art were swept away during all this bloody strife ! 
How many cities were desolated, libraries burnt, and men of 
eminence slain ! In the midst of a bloody civil war, with 
danger constantly at their very door, men had neither leisure 
nor inclination to apply to literary pursuits. Apollo courts 
peace : he seldom wears laurels stained with blood. 

"We may safely affirm, that, for the reasons hitherto alleged, 
and more particularly the last, the Reformation retarded the 
literary progress of Germany for more than a century. Any 
candid man will be convinced of this, who will compare the 
literary history of Germany in the beginning of the sixteenth, 
with what it became in the seventeenth and the beginning of 
the eighteenth century. At the dawn of the Reformation, 
German literature was in a most promising condition. Greek, 
Latin, and Hebrew learning had revived, and they were be 
ginning to be cultivated with success. Reuchlin, Budaeus, 
and Erasmus had filled Germany with literary glory. 

An anecdote of Reuchlin, related by D Aubigne, may serve 
to give us some idea of the extent to which Greek literature 
was then carried in Germany. In 1498 twenty years before 
the Reformation he w T as sent to Rome as ambassador from 
the electoral court of Saxony. 

" An illustrious Greek, Argyropylos, was explaining in that metropolis, to 
a numerous auditory, the wonderful progress his nation had formerly made 
in literature. The learned ambassador went with his suite to the room 
where the master was teaching, and on his entrance saluted him, and la 
mented the misery of Greece, then languishing under Turkish despotism. 
The astonished Greek asked the German : Whence came you, and do you 
understand Greek? Reuchlin replied : I am a German, and am not quite 
ignorant of your language. At the request of Argyropylos, he read and ex 
plained a passage of Thucydides, which the professor happened to have be 
fore him ; upon which Argyropylos cried out in grief and astonishment : 
Alas ! alas ! Greece cast out and fugitive, is gone to hide herself beyond 
the Alps! "* 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 96. 


Had Argyropylos visited Germany a century later, he 
would have found that " fugitive Greece which had hid her 
self beyond the Alps," had been ruthlessly driven from her 
cherished shelter in Germany, by the myrmidons of the 
Reformation ! 

At the commencement of the Reformation, many German 
princes were liberal patrons of learning. Among these, the 
most conspicuous, were the Emperor Maximilian ; Frederick, 
elector of Saxony, who founded the university of Wittenberg 
in 1502; Joachim, elector of Brandenberg, who established 
the university of Frankfort on the Oder, in 1506 ; Albert, 
archbishop of Mentz ; and George, duke of Saxony.* But 
the troubles occasioned by the doctrines of the reformers 
caused the German princes to turn their attention more to 
camps and battle fields, than to the seats of learning and the 
patronage of learned men. 

Italy had led the way in literary improvement. Hallam 
says : " The difference in point of learning between Italy and 
England was at least that of a century : that is, the former 
was more advanced in knowledge of ancient literature in 
1400 than the latter was in 1500."y In another place, speak 
ing of the relative encouragement of literature by Italy and 
Germany, he has this remarkable passage : " Italy was then 
(in the beginning of the sixteenth century), and perhaps has 
been ever sinoe^ the soil where literature, if it has not always 
most flourished, has stood highest in general estimation.";]; 
This avowal is the more precious as coming from a decided 
Protestant, and an Englishman. 

Speaking of the history of literature from the year 1520 to 
1550, he pays the following just tribute to the literary ascend 
ency of Italy: 

" Italy, the genial soil where the literature of antiquity had been first cul 
tivated, still retained her superiority in the fine perceptions of its beauties, 
and in the power of retracing them by spirited imitation. It was the land 

* See Hallam History of Literature, etc., sup. cit., vol. i, p. 159. 
f Ibid., p. 145, $8. t Ibid., p. 159, \ 48. 


of taste and sensibility ; never surely more so, than in the age of Raphael 
as well as Ariosto."* 

Literary societies for the promotion of learning were formed 
much later in Germany than in Italy and France. It was 
only in 1617, that the " Fruitful Society," the first that ever 
existed in Germany, was established at Weimar, f The ex 
ample of Italy would have been in all probability much sooner 
followed, had not the Reformation engaged the public atten 
tion in other pursuits. The spirit of Reuchlin and of Erasmus 
had disappeared : their refined taste was superseded by that 
which Schlegel so happily designates the barbaro-polemic ; 
and the result was the retarding of literary improvement in 
the deplorable manner which we have stated. 

From the dawn of the Reformation to the reign of Fred 
erick the Great a period of more than two hundred years 
Germany was behind the other principal countries of Europe 
in learning: it required full two hundred years for her .to 
recover from the rude shock her literature had received from 
the hands of the reformers! In 1715, the great Leibnitz 
feelingly deplored this literary desolation of his country.J 
He says in another place, that the relish for philosophical 
pursuits was so rare in Germany, " that he could not find any 
person in his country, who had a taste for philosophy and 
mathematics, and with whom he could converse." Even as 
late as 1808, Jacobi, another Protestant writer, draws a fright 
ful picture of the moral and literary condition of the German 
Protestant universities during his time.|| 

Still, it is very common to find it boldly asserted from the 
pulpit and through the press, that the revival of letters in 
Europe was brought about by the Reformation ! Nothing 
could be more unfounded in fact, and, indeed, more utterly 

* History of Literature, vol. i, p. 173, $ 1. f Idem., vol. ii, p. 172. 

\ See his letter to M. Bigiion, 22d June, 1715 Commercii Epist Leib 
nitz. Selecta Specimina. Typist, xciv. Apud Robelot. 
Letter to M. de Beauval ibid. Ep. xxv. 
|| See his testimony in Robelot, p. 421, 422. 


absurd, than this assertion. To Italy, under the fostering pro 
tection of her Medici, her Gonzagas, her Estes, and, above all, 
of her Popes, and more especially of Nicholas V. and Leo X., 
do we in a great measure owe the revival of learning in 
Europe. All persons of any information admit this fact. 
Roscoe, an English Protestant, has written an extensive work 
to do honor to the pontificate of Leo X., which he proves to 
have been the golden age of learning.* Hallam also pays a 
splendid tribute to this second Augustan age of literature.f 
A light then shot up in Italy in Rome its brightness was 
most dazzling which illumined the whole world. Nor was 
this the first time that Rome had led the way in improvement 
and civilization. 

The literary impulse having been thus powerfully given, 
all Europe was rapidly advancing in learning. The progress 
was steady and healthy. On a sudden, the storm of the 
Reformation broke in upon the tranquillity of Europe, which 
was peacefully and calmly engaged in literary pursuits. The 
result was almost the same as that of a violent and long-con 
tinued storm on a beautiful garden, fragrant with flowers and 
rich in fruits. The fruits of previous toil were rudely shaken 
down ere they had become mature ; the flowers were blighted ; 
and the garden was changed into a desert ! If literature was 
still preserved, it was in spite of the Reformation. 

The usual argument of those who maintain that the Refor 
mation was the cause of the literary resurrection of Europe, 
is founded on a comparison of the condition of Europe before, 
with what it became, after the Reformation. Literature was 
in a more flourishing condition after than before the sixteenth 
century: therefore, the Reformation caused the change for 
the better. Never was there a more shallow sophism. It 
belongs to the category: post hoc, ergo propter Tioc.\ To 

* Roscoe Life and Pontificate of Leo X., sup. cit. 

f History of Literature, vol. i, p. 148, seqq. See also Audin, Life of Lu 
ther, p. 124, seqq. 

\ " After this ; therefore on account of this." 


estimate aright the influence of the Reformation on learning, 
we should compare the literary state of Europe before it, 
with what it would have been afterwards, if the Reformation 
had not intervened: or, more properly, we should compare 
the progress which Europe really made after the Reforma 
tion, especially in Protestant countries, with what it would 
have made, but for the agitations caused by this revolution. 
Abiding by this fair test, we fearlessly assert, on the authority 
of the facts and evidence above adduced, that the literary 
influence of the Reformation was most disastrous.* 

We do not pretend to deny that Protestantism has produced 
many illustrious literary characters. Catholicism has produced 
at least as great men, and many more of them. Galileo and 
La Place may compare advantageously with Huygens and 
Newton : while Copernicus far outshines Tycho Brahe. The 
latter, though a Protestant, was encouraged chiefly by Catho 
lic potentates of Germany. Among philosophers, if Bacon 
and Descartes were weighed in the balance, the latter would 
probably preponderate. It would lead us too far, to continue 
this comparison through all its details. But we may ask, 
whether the annals of Protestant literature can produce 
brighter names than Cardinal Ximenes, Cervantes, Lope de 
Vega, Herrera, and Calderon, in Spain; Bossuet, Fenelon, 
Racine, Moliere, and Legendre, in France ; Raphael, Michael 

* These remarks are made in the hypothesis, that the fact is as stated by 
the admirers of the Keformation ; namely, that the literary condition of 
Europe was really and immediately improved in those countries where it 
gained a foothold. We may well deny this fact, particularly in regard to 
Germany, with which our present business principally lies. Comparing the 
literary state of Germany during the fifty years preceding Luther s revolt, 
with what it became during the fifty years following, there is no doubt that 
there was a remarkable falling off, both in literary taste and in literary 
progress. Instead of advancing, Germany clearly receded in the literary 
race, not merely for a half, but for more than a whole century after the 
Reformation. The facts alleged above clearly prove this ; else they have no 
meaning whatsoever. So that the theory which we are discussing is erroneous 
in point of fact, as well as of logic. 


Angelo, Vida, Tasso, Muratqri, Tiraboschi, Boscovitch, and 
a countless host of others in Italy ; Frederick von Schlegel, 
Moeller, Dbllinger, and Gbrres in Germany; and Pope, 
Dryden, Lingard, and Moore in England and Ireland? 
These are but a few, selected almost at random, from the 
long list of Catholic literati. 

In regard to the older inventions which have proved of 
great and permanent utility to mankind, a far greater number 
was made by Catholics than by Protestants. The mariner s 
compass, gunpowder, the art of printing, clocks and watches, 
as well as steamboat navigation,* were all discovered or 
invented by Catholics. To them also belongs the glory of 
having discovered America, and of having first doubled the 
Cape of Good Hope and penetrated to the Indies. The micro 
scope, the telescope, the thermometer, the barometer, were all 
invented by Catholics. The chief great discoveries in astron 
omy that of Jupiter s satellites, of spots in the sun, and of 
most of the new planets or asteroids were made "By Catholics. 
Modern poetry was first cultivated successfully in Italy by 
Dante and Petrarch ; and Blair himself admits, that in his 
torical writing the Italians probably excel all other people. 

The paper on which we write, the general use of window 
glass and the art of staining it, the weaving of cloth, the art 
of enameling on ivory and metals, the discovery of stone 
coal, the sciences of galvanism and mineralogy; and many 
other inventions and improvements were first introduced by 
Catholics: most of them, too, in the "dark" ages. And it 
may be maintained on the faith of genuine history, that 
during the three hundred years preceding the Reformation, 
probably more great and important inventions were made, 
than during the three hundred centuries succeeding that revo- 

* Blasco de Garay, a Spaniard, made the first successful experiment in 
steam navigation, in the harbor of Barcelona, in the year 1543. Eighty-five 
years later, Brancas followed up the discovery in Italy. See " A Year in 
Spain," by an American Protestant, vol. i, p. 47, seq. Note. Edit. New 
York, 1830. 


lution. Still we are to be told, that we owe all our literature 
and improvement to the Keformation ! 

We may here also remark, that the two greatest epochs of 
modern literature that of Leo X. and of Louis XIY. both 
occurred in Catholic countries and under Catholic auspices. 
The age of Frederick the Great, in Germany, was nearly 
allied in character with that which immediately followed it 
under the influence of the infidels of France : while the liter 
ary glories of Queen Anne s reign in England, were equaled, 
if they were not surpassed, by those of the much earlier age 
of Ferdinand and Isabella, in Spain. 

It is a very common charge against the Catholic Church 
that she keeps her people in ignorance ; and to prove this ac 
cusation, an appeal is made to the condition of Catholic coun 
tries, in which, it is said, the common people are not educated. 
Let us see what a living author, and an unexceptionable wit 
ness, because a Protestant and a Scotchman, says upon this 
very subject. He relates, too, what he himself saw and had 
full opportunities of examining. We allude to Laing, whose 
" Notes of- a Traveler" are well known in the literary world. 
He writes : 

" In Catholic Germany, in France, and even in Italy, the education of the 
common people in reading, writing, arithmetic, music, manners, and morals, 
is at least as generally diffused and as faithfully promoted by the clerical 
body as in Scotland. It is by their own advance, and not by keeping back 
the advance of the people, that the popish priesthood of the present day 
seek to keep ahead of the intellectual progress of the community in Catho 
lic lands : and they might perhaps retort on our Presbyterian clergy, 
and ask if they too are in their countries at the head of the intellectual 
movement of the age ? Education is in reality not only not repressed, but 
is encouraged by the Popish Church, and is a mighty instrument in its 
hands, and ably used. In every street in Kome, for instance, there are, at 
short distances, public primary schools for the education of the children of 
the lower and middle classes in the neighborhood. Rome, with a popula 
tion of one hundred and fifty-eight thousand six hundred and seventy- 
eight souls, has three hundred and seventy-two primary schools,* with 

* This number is perhaps somewhat below the mark. According to the 


four hundred and eighty-two teachers, and fourteen thousand children 
attending them. Has Edinburgh so many schools for the instruction of those 
classes ? I doubt it. Berlin, with a population about double that of Rome, 
has only two hundred and sixty-four schools. Rome has also her univer 
sity, with an average attendance of six hundred and sixty students : and the 
papal states, with a population of two and a half millions, contain seven 
universities. Prussia, with a population of fourteen millions, has but seven." 

The value of this splendid testimony is greatly enhanced, 
when we reflect that Scotland and Prussia are the boasted 
lands of common schools. Protestants, it would seem, can 
boast more on whafc they have done for literature ; but Cath 
olics can do more without making so great a parade. 

We will conclude this chapter with the able analysis of Dr. 
Dollinger s researches into the literary influence of the Ref 
ormation, as presented by the Dublin Review, in the paper 
which we have already quoted. From its perusal the reader 
may gather what the reformers themselves and their own im 
mediate disciples thought on this subject; and they surely 
must be considered unexceptionable witnesses, especially when 
they testify against themselves. 


"To those who judge by the commonly received notions, this inquiry, we 
doubt not, will appear perfectly idle, perhaps absurd. To move a doubt 
upon the subject is to return to the first principles to call evidence itself 
in question. The very name of the Reformation is popularly regarded as 
synonymous with enlightenment and progress, and from it is commonly 
dated the origin of what is called the great intellectual movement of the 
modern world. How far the character is merited, let it be determined from 
the statements of the reformers themselves. 

" (1.) THE SCIENCES AND PROFANE LITERATURE. Perhaps it would be 
wrong to insist too much upon the testimony of Erasmus ; but it is impos 
sible to read his indignant denunciations of Luther, as condemning the 

Cracas, or Roman Almanac for 1834, Rome then had three hundred and 
eighty-one free schools ; and we presume the number has not since decreased, 
as we know the population has been steadily increasing. Many of these 
schools are supported by private charity, while those of Protestant countries 
are maintained only by burdensome taxation. 


whole philosophy of Aristotle as diabolical, declaring all science, whether 
practical or speculative, to be damnable, and all the speculative sciences to 
be sinful and erroneous ; his denunciation of Farel of Geneva as represent 
ing all human learning as an invention of the devil ; his furious tirade 
against the whole reforming body, as both publicly and privately teaching, 
that all human learning is but a net of the devil his reiterated assertions, 
that wherever Lutheranism flourishes, study begins to grow cold, that 
where Lutheranism reigns, learning comes to ruin his contrasts of 
the Catholic and the Protestant seats of learning without feeling 
that the pretensions of modern historians, as to the services rendered to 
learning by the Reformation, are not entirely beyond question. And, on a 
nearer examination, we find that these denunciations of Erasmus are liter 
ally borne out by the facts. Melancthon himself, notwithstanding his own 
literary tastes, is found to admit their justice. Glarean, a Swiss reformer, 
maintains a long argument against a party of his fellow Lutherans, who held 
that there was no need to study Greek and Latin, German and Hebrew 
being quite sufficient. Gastius records the prevalence of a still more ex 
travagant opinion among the evangelical ministers, (complusculos evangelii 
ministros,) that it was even unlawful for those destined to the preaching of 
the gospel to study any part of philosophy except the sacred Scripture alone. 
In the Bostock university, the celebrated Arnold Buren was suspected of 
infidelity, because he placed Cicero s philosophical works in the hands of his 
pupils, as a text-book ; and in Wittenberg itself, the Rome of Lutheranism, 
it was publicly maintained by George Mohr, and Gabriel Didymus, that 
scientific studies were useless and destructive (verderblich), and that all 
schools and academies should be abolished. And it is actually recorded, 
that in pursuance of this advice, the school-house of Wittenberg was con 
verted into a bakery ! It is with reluctance, writes the celebrated Brassi- 
kanus, one of Melancthon s disciples at Tubingen, I am forced by truth to 
say, that a distaste for letters exists among men of genius, and to such a 
degree, even in the greatest cities of Germany, that it has become a mark 
of nationalism to hate learning, and an evidence of prudence and statesman 
ship to condemn all study. What must have been the evidence of the evil 
to have extorted such an admission ! Under these influences science fell 
completely into disrepute. Nicholas Gerbel could not find any period in 
history where the sciences were at a lower ebb than the present. In the 
last century, the least cultivated man, writes Eusebius Menius, would 
have been ashamed not to be expert in mathematics and physics ; but nowadays 
one can not but see that (to our shame in the sight of posterity) these sciences 
are completely despised, and that, out of a great number of students, but few 
would ever know what once mere boys would have been perfectly familiar 
with. And so universal and deep-rooted had this hatred of science become, 


that from the revilings of science, which echo in almost every church in 
Germany, and the coarse invectives against which issue from the press, 
Moller, in his commentary on Malachy, can anticipate nothing but the com 
plete downfall of the sciences, the re-introduction of the most immeasurable 
barbarism into the Church, and unlimited license for daring spirits to deal 
with the Christian doctrine as they may think fit. 

" (2.) THEOLOGICAL STUDIES. The same distaste extended even to sacrect 
studies. It will not be matter of surprise that Luther s hatred of the scho 
lastics should have driven them at once and forever from the schools of the 
new learning. But it will sound oddly in the ears of a Protestant of the 
present day, that the Scriptures themselves should have fallen into disrepute, 
even among students of divinity, and even in Luther s own university of 
Wittenberg. Yet we learn from an unimpeachable witness, a professor at 
Wittenberg itself, that so great is the contempt of God s word, that even 
students of divinity fly from a close study and investigation of the Bible, as if 
they were sated and cloyed therewith ; and if they have but read a chapter 
or two, they imagine that they have swallowed the whole of the divine 
wisdom at a draught; and Melchior Petri, minister at Radburg, in 1569, 
is driven to confess that things have come to such a pass among Lutherans, 
that as Luther himself had set at naught the authorities of the entire of the 
fathers, so his disciples place their Father Luther far beyond, not merely the 
fathers, but even the Scripture itself, and rely exclusively upon him. 

" The author enters minutely into the claim of priority in the foundation 
of schools of biblical criticism, and the introduction of the critical study of 
Scripture set up in favor of the reformers. Nor does it bear the test of in 
vestigation a whit better than the claims which we have been discussing. 
Though we find so much stress laid by them upon the study of the Hebrew 
text, yet it turns out that not a single edition of the Hebrew Bible was 
printed in Germany during this entire period. How few copies of the 
editions printed at (the still popish) Venice between 1518 and 1544, and of 
the Paris ones of Robert Stephens, found their way into Germany, may be 
inferred from the exceeding rarity of these editions ; and although the Basle 
edition of Sebastian Munster (1536) may have had somewhat more circula 
tion, yet the first edition of the Hebrew text which appeared in Protestant 
Germany, dates near the close of the century after the commencement of 
Luther s career. In like manner, there does not appear to have been any 
edition of the Greek New Testament in Germany for forty years after the 
same period. Contrast with this disgraceful indifference, the sixteen editions 
of the Hebrew text printed in Venice alone before the year 1559, and the 
ten editions of the Greek text which appeared at Paris before 1551, and say 
to which side the priority in justice belongs ! Well may Dr. Dollinger, 
with such a contrast before him, appeal to Melancthon s lamentation so 


frequently and so feelingly uttered over the total neglect of the original 
sources of divine learning. 

" Alas ! exclaims Strigel, were pious Christians to shed as many tears 
as there is water in the Saal, they could not sufficiently deplore the downfall 
of Christian doctrine and discipline. Men not only turn with disgust and 
loathing from the word of God, but what is still more deplorable, they blush 
at the very name of "theologian," and abandon the study of theology to a 
few poor wretched men, apparently without talent or means to cultivate it, 
and betake themselves to more honorable and more agreeable pursuits. 

"(3.) We need hardly dwell on the decay of Papistical Studies. The 
well-known principles of Luther on the subject of the authority of the 
fathers his frequent declarations that the poor dear fathers lived better 
than they wrote his lamentations over the darkness on the subject of 
faith which pervades their writings ; their blindness ; the obscurity in 
which they have involved questions which are plain in the Scripture the 
contempt, and indeed worse, which he displays for them, taken individually ; 
will prepare us for great extravagance in the same matter on the part of his 
followers. But we can not refrain from mentioning, as a curious example 
of the spirit of the time, that it was made a serious charge against a master 
at Augsburg, that he introduced Lactantius among his scholars as an intro 
duction to the study of the fathers, and that among the especial arts which 
Satan employs to undermine the authority of the man of God, Dr. Luther, 
the chief is described to be his withdrawing them from Luther s writings to 
those of the fathers, and of others who are far inferior to him. 

"(4.) From the same principles of Luther will be understood without 
difficulty the decline of Historical Studies also. Germany, in the early part 
of the sixteenth century, had produced a larger number of historians than 
perhaps any other in Europe, Wimpeling, Tritheim, Albert Kranz, Rhe- 
nanus, Peutinger, Cuspinian, and several others are enumerated by Dollinger. 
In the last seventy years of the same century, we find scarcely a single 
name on the Protestant side, with the exception of Sleidan, a clever but 
unscrupulous writer ; and the only historical writers of any note are those 
of the Catholic party Gerhard van Roo, Dalrav, bishop of Olmiitz, and 
Fabricius, rector of Diisseldorf. 

" (5.) But it is from the character of the universities and other seats of 
learning, even more than from general statements like these, that we can 
most securely gather the intellectual condition of Germany. Upon this part 
of the subject the author appears to have bestowed exceeding care ; and if 
it be remembered how obscure and how scattered must have been the 
sources of such an inquiry, some idea may be formed of the difficulty of 
the performance. He passes in review the universities of Erfurth, Basle, 
Tubingen, Wittenberg, Leipsic, Rostock, Frankfort, and Heidelberg. Con 
trasting their condition before and after the Reformation, and detailing in 
VOL. i. 36 


the words of the reformers themselves, many of them members of the com 
munities they describe, their actual condition under the working of the new 
system, he traces to its immediate influence the corruption which most 
unquestionably did follow its introduction, so clearly and satisfactorily, that 
it would be impossible to entertain a doubt of the fact, even if it were not 
expressly admitted by the parties most interested in its concealment; The, 
universities of Germany, without any exception, were described, in the year 
1568, as remarkable for nothing but the pride, laziness, and unbridled 
licentiousness of the professors, and Camerarius (i, p. 484) often thought that 
it would be better to have no schools at all than such asylums of dishonesty 
and vice. Wittenberg held a bad pre-eminence among them. Flacius 
Illyricus (p. 227) would rather send children to a brothel, than to the High 
School of Wittenberg. No discipline or godliness was known there, and 
especially among Dr. Philip s (Melancthori) disciples? whom people visiting 
the university, and expecting to find angels, discovered to be, in reality, 
living devils. Indeed, the students of this university were universally 
infamous (landriichig) for debauchery, gambling, impiety, blasphemy, cursing, 
drinking, and indecent language and behavior ; and though the university 
authorities were well aware of the scandals, they were afraid to publish 
their shame by expelling the guilty, who constituted the majority. At 
Frankfort on the Oder (1562), the students were so wild and undisciplined, 
that neither professors nor townsmen were secure of their lives. At 
Tubingen, the habits of blasphemy, drunkenness, and debauchery, which 
came under his own personal notice, called for the prompt and decided in 
terference of Duke Christopher of Wiirtemberg in 1565. A few years later 
(1577), the students were represented in the magistrates report to the 
senate as a godless race, like those of Sodom and Gomorrha: and in 1583, 
a solemn visitation, for the sole purpose of staying or eradicating the noto 
rious and habitual immorality, was ordered by the public authorities of the 
city. The accounts of the universities of Marburg (p. 480), Konigsberg (p. 482), 
Leipsic (p. 573), Basle (p. 557), are precisely the same ; and in his report on the 
university of Kostock, Arnold Buren frankly avows, that, comparing the 
new generation with the old ones, every right-minded man complained, and 
the conduct of the members themselves evinced even more clearly, that a 
general deterioration of morals had taken place ; that crimes of every de 
scription were day by day on the increase; that instead of the virtuous 
gravity and youthful modesty of former days, wanton levity and unbridled 
licentiousness had been introduced ; and that things had come now to such 
a pass, that from the entire frame of society, and from the morals of every 
class, simplicity, integrity, and purity had completely disappeared. 

"In a short time this disrepute began to produce its effect upon the 
attendance of the pupils. The declaration of Illyricus is an echo of the 


general feeling. Parents feared to send their children to such dens of im 
morality : the numbers gradually diminished : the university of Basle, once 
so flourishing, became a desert within a few years : and at Erfurth, which 
at the outbreak of the Reformation had been in its highest reputation, the 
pupils, who in 1520 amounted to three hundred and eleven, fell to one 
hundred and twenty in 1522, then to seventy-two, and afterwards to thirty- 
four, till, in 1527, the entrances amounted to but fourteen ! " 

The writer concludes his review of Bellinger s learned 
work, with the following general summary of the view of 
the Keformation taken by the reformers themselves, in regard 
to the influence of this great revolution on the interests of 
this world and on those of the next. The portraiture is, in 
deed, a very sad one; but none the less reliable, because 
drawn by the early friends and admirers of the Reformation, 
whose testimony is alleged for each statement. 

" From the variety of these extracts, and the exceeding diversity of the 
sources from which they are taken, it will readily be believed that our diffi 
culty has rather been to limit than to extend them. We had originally 
intended to pursue the inquiry on a similar plan through various other 
topics, as, the scandalous lives of its ministers, and the contempt and 
hatred with which, as a class, they were regarded by their flocks the 
weariness of spirit, the remorse, the longing after death, even the miserable 
end, in many cases, by their own hands, which it entailed upon those who 
were actively engaged in it the repining after the good old times, the long 
ing for the revival of popery, and the habitual reference, on the part of the 
people, of all the evils which had overwhelmed the world to the new gospel 
which had been introduced. But we have already more than wearied out 
the reader s patience by these painful and revolting extracts, nor shall we 
venture to pursue the Reformation into the lower deeps of sin and wretch 
edness to which it led. Even in the few, and perhaps ill-assorted extracts 
which we have hastily heaped together, there is enough and more than 
enough to fix its character as a movement claiming to be divinely directed. 
We are ready to allow its claims to be tested by any reasoning man, no 
matter how deeply prejudiced in its favor, upon these admissions of its own 
most zealous founders. Let him but contrast in the light of this evidence, 
imperfect and fragmentary as our narrow limits have made it, its great 
promise with its small performance, its magnificent anticipations with its 
miserable results let him follow it in its career through the various coun 
tries where it found an entrance, and mark the fruits which it produced in 
each where it promised peace and happiness, let him see it produce disor- 


der, insubordination, murder, rebellion, divisions of class against class, san 
guinary war ; where it promised piety, lukewarmness, impiety, blasphemy, 
irreligion ; where it promised purer morality, debauchery, fornication, drunk 
enness, revolting indecency in young and old ; where it promised all the 
social and domestic virtues, adulteries, divorces, bigamy, fraud, avarice, hard- 
heartedness to the poor ; where it promised the revival of true faith, confu 
sion, skepticism, contempt of all religion, and utter unbelief; where it 
promised enlightenment, ignorance, barbarism, contempt of learning, and 
fanatical hatred of science ; let him but remember how all this is attested 
by those to whose dearest and most cherished hopes the admission was as 
gall and wormwood, and we defy him to resist the direct and palpable con 
clusion, that the finger of God was not in that unhappy movement that 
the prestige of its success was hollow and unsubstantial, that its boasted 
advantages were a juggle and a delusion, that its lofty pretensions were but 
a silly mockery, and its very title a living and flagitious lie." 



Definition Religion, the basis Reclaiming from barbarism British East 
India possessions Catholic and Protestant conquests Protestant mis 
sions Sandwich Islands The mother of civilization The ark amid the 
deluge Rome converts the nations Early German civilization Moham 
medanism The Crusades The Popes Luther and the Turks Luther 
retracts Religious wars in Germany Thirty Years War General 
peace Disturbed by the Reformation Comparison between Protestant 
and Catholic countries. 

To civilize, according to lexicographers, is "to reclaim 
from a state of savageness and brutality." According to its 
more common acceptation, however, the word civilization 
implies more than a mere reclaiming from barbarism. It em 
braces, as its more prominent constituent elements, enlight 
enment of the public mind, good government conducted on 
liberal principles, a certain refinement in public taste and 
manners, and a gentleness and polish in social intercourse. 


The more fully and the more harmoniously these elements 
are developed together, the higher the state of civilization. 

There can be no doubt that religion lies at the basis of all 
true civilization. A mere glance at the past history and 
present condition of the world must satisfy any impartial 
man of this great truth. Those countries only have been 
blessed with a high degree of civilization which have been 
visited by the Christian religion. Those which have not had 
this visitation, or which have rejected it, are in a state of bar 
barism, or at least of semi-barbarism. If Europe is more 
highly civilized than any other quarter of the globe, it is pre 
cisely because she has been brought more fully under the 
softening and humanizing influence of Christianity. If Africa 
is the lowest in the scale, it is because her people have been 
to a very great extent excluded from, or have shut their eyes 
to the blessed light of the gospel. 

Asia occupies an intermediate ground between barbarism 
on the one hand, and a state of high civilization on the other. 
That portion of her population which has never received the 
Christian religion, still continues in a state of unmitigated 
barbarism. That portion which once received, but has since 
in a great measure lost sight of, or rejected the doctrines of 
Christianity, may in general be pronounced to be in a state 
but half-civilized. No more striking proof of the soundness 
of these remarks can perhaps be given, than the incontestable 
fact that all western Asia, embracing Asia Minor, Syria, Pal 
estine, Bythinia, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, which was, 
during the early ages of Christianity, in a high state of civil 
ization, has since sunk into a state of semi-barbarism, after 
Christianity had been either extinguished or paralyzed in its 
influence by Mohammedanism. Constantinople, Antioch, and 
Ephesus, once the centers of civilization, and the radiating 
points of learning, are now the seats of barbarism all their 
laurels withered, and all their glory fled, perhaps for ever ! 
Egypt and northern Africa were also, during the first ages of 
the Church, far advanced in civilized life. But what is their 


condition now, and what has it been for many centuries, since 
the overthrow of Christian institutions by those of Islamism ? 
The dark night of barbarism still broods heavily over them, 
though a cheering twilight of the coming dawn is beginning 
to brighten in Algeria. And, in Europe, those countries pre 
cisely have advanced the least in civilization which as 
Russia and other more northern nations have been less fully 
and powerfully acted on by the principles of the Christian 
religion, as unfolded from its center. 

From the facts already established in the previous chapters, 
we may easily gather what was the influence of the Reforma 
tion on these two leading elements of civilization free gov 
ernment and literary enlightenment. We think that every 
impartial man who will take the trouble to weigh well the 
Protestant evidence already accumulated on those subjects, 
will come to the conclusion that, so far at least as these are 
concerned, the influence of the Reformation was most injuri 
ous. We would not, however, be understood as denying that 
Protestantism subsequently exercised, at least occasionally 
and to some extent, a beneficial influence on the progress of 
society. We freely admit that Protestants have done some 
thing for the social advancement of the human race : but we 
maintain that Catholics have done much more, and that with 
out the Reformation, the world would have advanced much 
more rapidly in civilization than it has done with its co 

To begin with the first idea implied by the term a reclaim 
ing from barbarism what nation or people, we would ask, 
has Protestantism ever reclaimed from a barbarous to a civil 
ized condition ? What nation, or even considerable portion 
of a nation, has it ever converted from heathenism to Chris 
tianity ? It has indeed caused many to abandon the old sys 
tem of religion, and to embrace its own crude and new-fangled 
notions : but we have yet to learn that it has brought one 
entire heathen people into the Christian fold. Many barba 
rous nations and tribes have been crushed or exterminated by 


the onward march of its own peculiar system of exclusive 
civilization ; but not one, so far as our information extends, 
has been converted to Christianity, or even ameliorated in 
social condition, through its agency. 

And yet Protestantism has had ample power in its hands 
for this purpose, as well as ample verge for its operations. 
"With her almost unbounded power by sea and by land, En 
gland, to say nothing of other Protestant governments, might, 
it would seem, have converted whole nations to Christianity, 
and thereby reclaimed them from barbarism. With her vast 
power and influence in the East Indies, she might have made 
at least an effort to bring the teeming nations, with their tens 
of millions of inhabitants, which there acknowledged her 
sway, into the beautiful fold of Christian civilization. But 
what has she actually accomplished? Has she ameliorated 
the civil condition of the seventy millions whom she holds in 
political thralldom in the east ? Has she even made a seri 
ous effort, in her political capacity, to bring about this result ? 
Have the obscene and wicked rites of paganism vanished be 
fore her powerful influence ? 

She has indeed crushed or exterminated whole tribes by 
her arms, or ground them in the dust by her tyranny, and 
impoverished them by her exactions ! She has done much to 
render Christian civilization odious in their eyes : she has 
done little or nothing to render it amiable or attractive. She 
has lately goaded them to rebellion by her cruel exactions 
and selfish policy ; and then crushed out the insurrection by 
the strong arm guided by superior discipline. A lust of 
power and of money has been the all-absorbing principle of 
her policy : and its effects are visible in the abiding degrada 
tion of the millions who unwillingly bow beneath her yoke. 
It is deemed unnecessary to multiply proofs to establish what 
must be apparent to every one who has even glanced at the 
history of the conquests and policy of England in her East 
India possessions. Her own writers and the official acts of 
parliament have boldly proclaimed these iniquities to the 


world : and no one will be so skeptical as to question their 
truth, or to deny their enormity.* 

Happily, such has not been the case with Catholic con 
quests among barbarous nations. The first thing always 
thought of by Catholic sovereigns who established their 
power in heathen lands, was to introduce Christianity among 
the tribes whom they had subdued, and to bring about, 
through its agency, their gradual civilization. The Catholic 
missionary always accompanied the leader of Catholic mari 
time discovery and conquest, to soften down the horrors of 
war, to pour oil into the wounds of the vanquished people, 
and to direct their attention to sublime visions of civilization, 
of Religion of heaven. The Catholic cross was always 
reared by the side of the banner of Catholic conquest. And 
the result has been, that wherever Catholic conquest has ex 
tended, there religion has been also established, and, through 
it, civilization has been gradually introduced. 

Whoever will read attentively the annals of Spanish and 
Portuguese voyages of discovery and conquest in America 
and the Indies, will be convinced of the truth of this remark. 
Our countryman, Washington Irving, has done ample justice 
to this subject ; and we confidently appeal to the evidence 
his magic pen has spread before the world, for a triumphant 
proof of our assertion.! Our attention is often directed, with 
a sneer of triumph, to the inferior political condition of Span 
ish America : but those who employ this common-place argu 
ment, and who boast of their own superior civilization and 

* Some modern writers, indeed, claim that England has accomplished 
much towards elevating the social condition of the people in the East Indies. 
But when you call on them for facts and specifications, they are able to pre 
sent little but vague and unsatisfactory generalities. It is admitted on all 
hands, that very few of the natives have been converted to Christianity. 
Such being the case, it is difficult to see wherein their alleged social improve 
ment is to be found. 

f In his " Life of Columbus," 2 vols. 8vo. New York, 1831. See the 
evidence he alleges on our present subject, accumulated in a Review of Web 
ster s Bunker Hill Speech, published in the Miscellanea. 


refinement, do not reflect, or would not have us reflect, that, 
whereas the Spaniards and Portuguese settled down and in 
termarried with the aborigines, and used every effort to civil 
ize them in which they have partially succeeded ; we in 
North America, with all our boasted superiority, have cir 
cumvented, goaded into war, driven from place to place, and 
finally almost exterminated the poor Indians, the original 
proprietors of our soil.* Protestantism is heartily welcome 
to all the laurels of civilization it has won in this great Ameri 
can field ! 

It is rather a remarkable coincidence that, in the very first 
year of the Reformation 1517 the first expedition of the 
Spaniards for the conquest of Mexico that under Cordova 
was undertaken. Two years later, in 1519, Hernando Cortes 
entered upon the great enterprise which actually achieved the 
conquest of Mexico. On his standard was inscribed the 
motto: "Amici, crucem sequamur, et in hoc signo vinee- 
mus" "Friends, let us follow the cross, and under this 
banner shall we conquer." According to the account of the 
Spanish missionaries, who accompanied this expedition of 
Cortes, six millions of Mexicans were received into the 
Catholic Church by baptism during the years intervening 
between 1524 and 1540 ; the very period in which the Refor 
mation was progressing most rapidly in Europe. It is highly 
probable that, by this remarkable stroke of Divine Provi 
dence, the Catholic Church thus gained probably almost as 
many new disciples in Spanish and Portuguese America alone, 
as she lost of old ones in Europe through the Reformation !f 

We must admit that Protestants have made great efforts to 

* See Bancroft s testimonies, and other evidences on the subject, collected 

f See article Dispatches of Hernando Cortes, in the North American Re 
view for October, 1843. In his History of the Conquest of Mexco, Prescott 
quotes Father Toribio, who says that nine millions of converts were made 
within twenty years after the first advent of the Catholic missionaries. See 
vol. iii, p. 267. 

VOL. I. -37 


convert heathen nations. Millions of money have been liber 
ally bestowed for this benevolent purpose. Large bodies of 
missionaries, with their wives and families, have been annu 
ally sent out by Bible and other Protestant societies, to evan 
gelize and civilize heathen lands. Not only the expenses of 
this numerous corps have been liberally paid, but they have 
had handsome salaries, and often princely establishments. 
But what have they done, with all the money that has been 
expended, and all the parade that has been made on the 



Hie faciet tanto dignum promissor hiatu ?* 

Have they converted even one nation to Christianity ? If 
they have, history is silent as to its locality. f Much was once 
said about the conversion of the Sandwich Islands by Ameri 
can Protestant missionaries : but this has all turned out, like 
other similar schemes of conversion, a miserable failure. The 
first effect of Protestant civilization in those islands was a re 
duction of the native population by more than one half: the 
next was the enriching of the missionaries themselves a very 
usual occurrence, by the way, and one which exhibits the 
chief advantage of those missionary enterprises : and the 
third was a most disgraceful persecution of brother Christian 
missionaries, so much so that a Catholic potentate felt himself 
called on to interfere. J A distinguished modern writer has 
well remarked, that the Protestant sects have been ever doomed 
to sterility since their divorce from the only true spouse of 
Christ the Catholic Church. 

On the other hand, what has the Catholic Church done for 

* Horace Ars Poetica. " What will this boaster accomplish, after so 
much blowing ?" 

f See most abundant evidence, chiefly from Protestants themselves, in 
Dr. Wiseman s " Lectures on the Catholic Religion," 2 vols. 12mo, vol. i, 
lect. vi. 

\ Ibid. We have discussed this subject at some length in our Lectures 
on the Evidences of Catholicity. 

$ Count de Maistre Du Pape, vol. ii. 


civilization ? What nations has she converted to Christianity ? 
"We may answer the question by asking another. What na 
tion or people is there, of all those on the face of the earth 
who have entered the Christian fold, which she has not been 
mainly instrumental in converting and civilizing ? Is there 
even one? What says faithful history on the subject? 

During the first four centuries of Christianity, the principal 
nations of Europe, as well as many of those of Asia and Africa, 
had been converted by missionaries sent either directly by 
Rome, or at least in communion and acting in concert with 
the Roman See. The cross of Christ had been borne in tri 
umph to the most remote extremities of the Roman empire, 
which then embraced almost all of Europe and a great por 
tion of Asia and Africa. It had been planted even in the 
midst of people who were beyond the boundaries of the vast 
territory ruled by Rome. As early as the close of the second 
century, St. Irenseus, bishop of Lyons, could say in triumph 
that many barbarous nations in Germany and elsewhere, over 
whose heads the Roman eagle had never been reared, had 
already received the gospel, although they were unlettered 
and unacquainted with the use of paper and ink. Tertullian, 
a writer who flourished in the beginning of the third century, 
could also say, in a defense of Christianity, addressed to the 
Roman emperor and senate, that Christians had already 
filled the villages, the towns, the cities, the castles, and the 
armies of the Roman empire, and that they had left only 
the temples of paganism to their idolatrous persecutors ! 

In the fifth and sixth centuries, a deluge of barbarism over 
whelmed the Roman empire of the west, which was already 
fast verging to its final downfall. The ancient Roman civil 
ization was buried under its turbid waters. The ark of the 
Church alone rode out in safety the angry flood : and when its 
waters had subsided, the tenants of this ark, as had been done 
by those of its prototype of old, repeopled the earth. In it 
were preserved, together with Christianity, the seeds of a new 
civilization, more refined and elevated by far, than that which 


had been swept from the face of the earth by the new deluge. 
These were scattered broadcast over the soil of the world : the 
Church watered them with the tears of her maternal solici 
tude, and, when they had sprung up, she nurtured the plants 
and brought them to maturity. Thus to her alone is due the 
credit of having rescued the world from barbarism, and of 
having again carefully collected and skillfully put together 
the scattered elements of the new civilization. All modern 
improvement dates back to this era, as certainly and as neces 
sarily as do the existence and extension of the human race 
to the epoch of the deluge. "We owe at least as much to the 
Church as we do to Noah s ark. 

The hordes of the north, who had trodden in the dust the 
haughty Roman empire, entered themselves, one by one, into 
the ample fold of the Church. The fierce conquerors will 
ingly bowed their necks to receive the yoke of the conquered ! 
Christianity thus triumphed, like her divine Founder, by being 
seemingly conquered for a time. It is not a little remarkable, 
too, that all the nations of the north were subsequently con 
verted by missionaries sent by Rome. 

Ireland was the first to enter into the Christian fold : and 
she became subsequently a principal instrument in the hands 
of Providence for converting the other northern nations. She 
had never been conquered by the Roman legions, nor had 
she been instrumental in effecting the downfall of the Roman 
empire, Yet was she the first nation of the north that 
assumed the sweet yoke of Christ. In the beginning of the 
fifth century, A. D. 430, Pope Celestine I. sent St. Patrick 
into Ireland, and St. Palladius into Scotland.* Towards the 
close of the same century, in 496, St. Remigius baptized at 
Rheims, King Clovis and three thousand officers of his army, 
thus commencing successfully the conversion of the Francs, 
and consolidating the foundations of Christianity in France. 

* It is well known that among ancient writers Scots and Hibernians were 
often convertible terms. 


Near the close of the sixth century, A. D. 591, Pope St 
Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine and his forty com 
panions into England. These converted the kingdom of Kent, 
and soon all England followed the example. In the seventh 
century, St. Kilian, sent by Pope Conon, preached the gospel 
in Franconia ; St. Swidbert and others evangelized Friesland, 
Brabant, and Holland ; and St. Rupert became the apostle 
of Bavaria. In the eighth century, St. Boniface, sent by Pope 
Gregory II. in 719, converted the Hessians and Thuringians, 
and suffered martyrdom at length in Friesland, in 755, with 
fifty-two of his companions. Saints Corbinian, Willibrord, 
and Vigilius were his co-operators in the apostleship. 

In the ninth century, St. Adalbert converted Prussia : and 
St. Ludger became the apostle of Saxony and Westphalia, and 
died bishop of Munster. In the same age, St. Anscarius, 
archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, preached the gospel to 
the Danes, and planted Christianity in Sweden, about the 
year 830. About the same period, the two brothers, Saints 
Methodius and Cyril, with the sanction of Pope John VIII., 
converted the Sclavonians, the Russians, and the Moravians, 
and also Michael, king of the Bulgarians. In the tenth cen 
tury, the faith was extended into Muscovy, Denmark, Goth 
land, Sweden, and Poland. The Normans, with their Duke 
Rolla, were converted in 912 ; and the Hungarians, with their 
king, St. Stephen, embraced Christianity about the year 1002.* 

Thus all the nations of Europe were successively converted 
to Christianity by the direct agency of the Roman Catholic 
Church, and by missionaries sent by Rome. Their civiliza 
tion was a necessary sequel to their conversion. They were 
indebted for both to Rome. This was especially true in rela 
tion to the German nations. "We have seen above the avowal 
of D Aubigne himself on this subject. As Audin well re 
marks : 

" It was religion that had softened the savage manners of its inhabitants, 
cleared its forests, peopled its solitudes, and aided in throwing off the yoke 

* See Church historians, passim. 


of the Romans. Whatever poetry, music, or intellectual culture it possessed 
when Luther appeared, it owed to its ancient bishops. The feudal tree had 
first flourished on its soil. It had its electors, dukes, barons, who were 
often bishops or archbishops. Of all the European states, it was the one in 
which the influence of the Papacy had been most vividly felt."* 

He might have added that whatever of liberty it possessed/ 
it had also derived from Home. She had by her influence 
gradually abolished the serf system, had opened sanctuaries 
for the oppressed, had proscribed the trial by ordeal, and had 
substituted for it a more rational system of judicature. She 
had purified and elevated the old German jurisprudence by 
the wise provisions of her canon law ; and, by declaring the 
oppressed and crushed subject free from the obligation of his 
oath of allegiance to the oppressor, she had broken his bonds, 
and taught him his political rights. In a word, Home was, 
for Germany more especially, the great center of civilization, 
and the point from which enlightenment had radiated through 
out her entire territory. 

The deluge of barbarian invasion having subsided, and the 
barbarians themselves having been converted to Christianity, 
a new and most appalling danger threatened European civil 
ization, nay, the independence and the very existence of 
Europe. The Mohammedan imposture, commencing at Mecca 
in the year 622, had rapidly overspread a great part of Asia 
and Africa, and had penetrated into Europe, through Spain, 
as early as the year 711. In the east it menaced Constanti 
nople, the capital of the Greek empire ; in the south and west 
it threatened still more nearly European independence. Mas 
ters of northern Africa, of Spain, and of the Mediterranean, 
the followers of Mohammed were ready to penetrate into Eu 
rope on all sides, with the scimitar in one hand, and the Koran 
in the other. The consequences of their successful incursion 
would have been, what they had been everywhere else, the 
ruin of literature and liberty, the destruction of Christianity 
and civilization, and wide-spread ruin and desolation. Wher- 

* Life of Luther, sup. cit., p. 343, 344. 


ever they had penetrated, they had blighted every flower, 
and plucked every fruit of the existing civilization. The once 
flourishing provinces of Asia and Africa, which had been forced 
to wear their degrading yoke, had already relapsed into a state 
of barbarism, from which, alas ! they are not yet recovered. 

In this emergency, what saved European civilization and 
independence ? What agency kept off the impending storm ? 
The Church and the Roman Pontiffs. The latter, by their 
influence, succeeded in arousing Europe from her lethargy, 
and in awakening her to a lively sense of the threatened 
danger. They persuaded Christians to bury their private 
feuds, to combine together for the first time in the common 
defense, and to rally in their united strength for the defense 
of the cross against the invading hosts marshaled under the 
crescent. Long and fiercely raged the struggle ; Christianity, 
civilization, enlightenment and liberty, and the CROSS, on the 
one hand, and Mohammedanism, barbarism, ignorance, despo 
tism, and the CKESCENT, on the other. 

The first check given to Mohammedan conquest was in the 
famous victory gained over the followers of the crescent by 
Charles Martel, at the head of the French chivalry, near Tours, 
in 732. The closing events of the protracted struggle were 
equally glorious for the Christian cause. The battle of Le- 
panto, in 1571, crippled the energies of the Turks, by destroy 
ing their whole fleet ; and the relief of Vienna from the 
beleaguering Turkish army, in 1683, by the brave Sobieski, at 
the head of his thirty thousand Poles, drove the Mohamme 
dans from Western Europe, and cut off all hopes of any fur 
ther European conquests by their armies. 

The Popes were the very life and soul of all these Chris 
tian enterprises for repelling Turkish invasion. It was they 
who first conceived that master-stroke of policy which, through 
the crusades, carried the war into the enemies country, and 
for centuries gave them enough to do at home, and thus pre 
vented them from thinking of foreign conquests. It was they 
who united Europe, for the first time, in one great national 


cause. It was Pope St. Pius V. who deserved the chief credit 
for the signal naval victory at Lepanto. It was they who 
ennobled chivalry, and consecrated valor, for the defense of 
Christian Europe. It was they who nerved for battle the 
arms of the brave knights of Khodes and Malta, and inspired 
the heroism of the Hunniades, of the Scanderbegs, of the 
Cids, of the Bouillons, of the Tancreds, and of many others, 
who won imperishable laurels in that world-wide struggle. 
But for their exertions, and the blessings of God, who had 
promised that " the gates of hell should not prevail against 
His Church built on a rock," Europe would in every human 
probability have become, what Asia and Africa had long 
been, a mere degraded province of a colossal Mohammedan 
empire, which would have bestrode the earth, and crushed 
beneath its weight every principle of civilization. 

Did the Reformation win any laurels in this contest ? Did 
it strike one blow for the independence of Europe against the 
Turks ; who, when it first appeared, were at the very zenith 
of their power, and were assuming the most threatening atti 
tude against Europe ? We will here present a few curious facts, 
which will show the spirit of early Protestantism on this subject. 

Among the articles which Luther obstinately refused to 
retract at the diet of Worms, in 1521, was this strange and 
impious paradox : " That to war against the Turks is to oppose 
God ! "* In his fierce invective against the conciliatory de 
cree which emanated from the diet of ETurenberg in 1524, he 
thus castigates the princes who had composed that diet : 

" Christians, I beg of you, raise your hands, and pray for these blind 
princes, with whom heaven punishes us in its wrath. Give not alms against 
the Turk, who is a thousand times wiser and more pious than our princes. 
What success can such fools, who rebel against Christ and despise his word, 
hope in the war against the Turks ?"f 

* " Proeliari adversus Turcas est repugnare Deo." Assertio articulorum 
per Leonem damnatorum. Opp. Lutheri, torn, ii, p. 3. Audin, p. 174. 

f Luther Werke, ch. xv, p. 2, 712. Adolph Menzel, torn, i, p. 155, seq. 
Apud Audin, p. 286. See also Cochlaeus in Acta Lutheri, folio 116. 


This warning was directed against the decree of the diet, which, alarmed 
by the menacing attitude of the Sublime Porte, " had demanded and voted 
subsidies for the war against the Turks. The Catholics contributed, the 
Protestants refused : but the contributions of the Catholics were not suffi 
cient to arrest the progress of Suleiman. At the head of two hundred 
thousand men, he advanced into Hungary, and on the 26th of September, 
1529, he was about to plant his ladders against the walls of Vienna. This 
cowardly abandonment of their brethren is an ineffaceable stain on the 
Protestant party. At the approach of the enemy, who threatened the cross 
of Christ, all disunion should have ceased. The country was in danger ; the 
Christian name was on the point of being blotted out from Germany ; and 
Islamism would have triumphed, had there not been brave hearts behind 
the walls which the treachery of their brethren had laid bare. Honor then 
to those valiant chiefs, Philip Count Palatine, Nicholas von Salm, William 
von Regendorf, and that population of aged men, of women, and of children, 
who, although suffering from famine, sickness, and pestilence for all seemed 
united to overwhelm them did not despair, but drove back to Constanti 
nople the army of Suleiman. After G-od, they owed their success to their 
valor ; for the emperor, the empire, and the princes had abandoned them. 
Luther had cried aloud peace to the Turks ; and his voice was more pow 
erful than the cry of their weeping country, and of the cross of Christ. 
The reader must judge between the reformed and the Catholics, and say, in 
what veins Christian blood flowed."* 

Subsequently indeed, when the most imminent danger had 
passed, and Luther had little to apprehend from the emperor 
or the Catholic party, he retracted his wild paradoxes, and 
ceased to be the apologist of the Turks. But who thanked 
him for his tardy, if not compulsory advocacy of European 
independence against Turkish invasion ? All that it demon 
strated was his own utter inconsistency in the whole affair, 
in which he did but act out his general character, as a mere 
creature of impulse and of passion, guided by self-interest. 

That there existed not only a feeling of secret sympathy 
between Luther and the Turkish sultan, but that the latter 
was also aware of Luther s favorable inclinations, would 
appear from the following remarkable passage found in 
MenzePs History of Germany. The incident referred to 

Audin, p. 289, 290. 


occurred after Luther had retracted and become reconciled 
with the emperor. The knowledge of this single fact sud 
denly arrested the progress of Suleiman s invading army ! 

" Suleiman had again presented himself on the frontier, at the head of an 
immense army, with the avowed intention of placing himself on the throne* 
of the Western empire. All Germany flew to arms. The news of the 
termination of intestine dissension in Germany no sooner reached the 
sultan s ears, than he asked, with astonishment, Whether the emperor had 
really made peace with Martin Luther? And, although the Germans only 
mustered eighty thousand men in the field, scarcely a third of the invading 
army, he suddenly retreated."* 

Erasmus thus twits the Protestant party on their conduct 
in this whole affair: 

"But you seem to forget that you refused to give Charles V., and 
Ferdinand, the subsidies necessary for the war against the Turks, according 
to the doctrine of Luther, who now however condescends to retract ! Have 
not the gospelers advanced the startling proposition, that it is better to 
fight for the unbaptized than for the baptized Turk, that is, for the emperor ? 
Is it not truly ridiculous ? "f 

It was something more than ridiculous which was the 
strongest epithet the Eatavian philosopher could employ it 
was utterly treacherous and lamentable; and if European 
civilization was still saved, and European independence still 
preserved, we certainly owe no thanks therefor to the Refor 
mation. If we are still free ; if we are not ground down by 
Turkish tyranny ; if we bow to the cross instead of the cres 
cent; we certainly owe no gratitude for these results to the 
Protestant party. Their sympathies were manifestly more 
Mohammedan than Christian ; they would have rejoiced at 
the ascendency of Islamism, provided only the Pope and his 
adherents could have been crushed and annihilated ! They 
shared in none of the laurels won for European independence 
and civilization, at Lepanto, under the walls of Vienna, in 
Hungary, in Poland, in Albania, or at Rhodes and Malta. 
Their chivalry could not be awakened, nor their sympathies 

* Menzel s History of Germany, vol. ii, p. 253, sup. cit. 

f "In Pseudo-Evangelicos." Epist.47, Lib. xxxi. Edit, of London, Flesher. 


stirred up by any such brilliant achievements as these. And 
yet D Aubigne gravely assures us, that "the Reformation 
saved religion, and through it society."* Deliver us from 
such a salvation as this.f 

We have already said something on the character of the 
bloody civil wars with which the Reformation desolated Ger 
many. We compared the multitude of devastating armies, 
which it let loose on Europe, to those which had desolated 
her fair provinces in the fifth and sixth centuries. This 
parallel is not exaggerated : it is founded on the sad records 
of history. In reading of the dreadful tragedies enacted in 
the war of the peasants and of the Anabaptists, and more 
particularly in the Thirty Years War, we are forcibly re 
minded of the devastations which the early Northmen left in 
their course. Especially does the parallel hold good, in re 
spect to the ravaging of Italy and Rome by the Lutheran 
troops under the Constable Bourbon, referred to above. 
Miinzer, Storck, and Stiibner strongly remind us of Attila, 
Totila, and Genseric. All were, if not " the scourges of God," 
at least, in another sense, the scourges of man and of society. 
They were all fierce wild animals, let loose for a time, to 
devastate the blooming garden of European civilization. 

The following address of Miinzer to his associates in rebel 
lion we give, as one out of the many similar specimens of the 
infuriate Yandalism of the sixteenth century: 

" Are you then asleep, my brethren ! Come to the fight, the fight of 
heroes. All Franconia has risen up : the Master will now show himself : 
the wicked shall fall. At Fulda, in Easter week, four pestiferous churches 
were destroyed. The peasants of Klegan have taken up arms. Although 
you were but three confessors of Jesus, you would not have to fear a hun 
dred thousand enemies. Draw, draw, draw now is the time : the impious 
shall be chased like dogs. No mercy for those atheists : they will beset 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 67, sup. cit. 

f In his History of the Reformation, Ranke endeavors to vindicate Luther, 
by alleging his opinions after he had become reconciled with the emperor. 
We have given his declarations made previously, when the danger to Ger 
many was the greatest. 


you ; they will blubber like children but spare them not. It is the com 
mand of God by Moses. Draw, draw, draw the fire burns ; let not the 
blood grow cold on your sword-blades. Pink, pank, on the anvil of Nimrod : 
let the towers fall under your stroke. Draw, draw, draw now is the day : 
God leads you on ; follow Him."* 

Schiller, a German Protestant, lias most graphically painted 
the horrors of the Thirty Years War, and the desolation 
which it occasioned in Germany. The master hand of Shlegel 
thus traces its effects on German civilization : 

" Never was there a religious war so widely extended and so complicated 
in its operations, so protracted in its duration, and entailing misery on so 
many generations. That period of thirty years havoc, in which the early 
civilization, and the noblest energies of Germany were destroyed, forms in his 
tory the great wall of separation between the ancient Germany, which in 
the middle age was the most powerful, flourishing, and wealthy country in 
Europe ; and the new Germany of recent and happier times, which is now 
gradually recovering from her long exhaustion and general desolation ; arid 
is rising again into light and life from the sepulchral darkness the night of 
death, to which her ancient disputes had consigned her."f 

It thus required full two centuries for Germany to recover 
from the terrible blow to her civilization dealt her by the 
ruthless Reformation. Even Villers, the champion laureate 
of the Reformation, is compelled to admit, that " the Thirty 
Years "War left Germany in a sort of stupor in a barbarism 
almost total."! 

"We here subjoin from the Dublin Review the analysis of 
Dr. Dbllinger s testimony, gathered from the early reformers 
themselves and their immediate disciples, in regard to the 
social effects of the Reformation in Germany. We need 
scarcely repeat, that this testimony is wholly unexception 
able ; because the witnesses saw what they relate, and were 
favorable to the change of religion. 

* Luther Werke Edit, Altenburg vol. iii, p. 134. Menzel, p. 200-2. 
Apud Audin. 

f Philosophy of History, vol. ii, p. 232, American Edit. 

I Essai sur 1 esprit et 1 influence de la reform, de Luther, p. 274. Apud 
Bobelot, 392. 


"If every written evidence of the injury inflicted on society by the 
preaching of the reformers had been lost or destroyed, the War of the 
Peasants, and the Anabaptist atrocities, would remain as indisputable monu 
ments of its unhappy and fatal influence. It would be tedious to appeal to 
contemporary writers for proofs of the direct connection of this sanguinary 
outbreak with the first principles professed and preached by Luther. Al 
though he himself disclaimed and denounced the misguided men who but 
carried out his principles too faithfully in practice, their proceeding was not 
only (as he himself admits in a passage already cited) vindicated by them 
selves, but is recognized by numberless writers of the times, as the natural, 
if not the legitimate, consequence of Luther s teaching. But in truth, the 
whole framework of society is represented by the writers and preachers of 
that day as in a state of complete and hopeless dissolution ; class set against 
class, subjects against rulers, peasants against nobles, poor against rich, flock 
against pastor. If you look around upon the society of the present day, 
asks Burenius, what age or what rank will you find that is not changed, 
and grievously unlike to the generation that is gone by ? What rank or 
condition has not fallen away, and wandered far from the habits and insti 
tutes of our forefathers ? The father, says Leopold Dick, is no longer 
safe from the son, the son from the father ; the daughter from the mother, 
nor the mother from the daughter the citizen is not safe from his fellow- 
citizen, the rich man from the poor ; every thing is turned upside down, 
without discrimination and without order; so universally and so uncon- 
trolledly does deceit [ * JIX/ZOM ] nowadays pervade the world, bringing 
frenzy, strife, and contention in her train. Such is the depravity of living, 
says Joachim Camerarius, such the corruption of morals, such is the 
wretchedness and confusion, both public and private, of all ages, sexes, 
ranks, and conditions, that I fear all piety and virtue are at an end. And 
in another place he declares that nothing is so daring as to be beyond the 
reach of their cupidit} - or their violence. Neither reason, nor moderation, 
nor law, nor morality, nor duty, will serve as a restraint ; not even the fear 
^f their fellow-men, nor the shame of posterity. Even in Luther s time, 
the complaints of the insubordination, the arrogance, and the pride of the 
young, and in general of all classes, had become most universal. They had 
grown so wild and licentious as to be utterly uncontrollable indifferent to 
the authority of parents, masters, and magistrates. Every one, says 
Melancthon, strives with his neighbor to obtain unbounded liberty and 
unrestricted gratification of all his desires ; every one tries to gain money 
by every unjust act, pillages his neighbor for his own profit, takes from 
others to increase his own stores, and seeks advantages for himself in every way. 


"We might pursue this through numberless other writers, but we have 
said enough to show the extent of the evil ; and we shall only add, that the 
great source from which it all flows, is discoverable even through the inter 
ested declamations of the great reformer himself. * The people, he writes, 
stick to the idea of the gospel. " Eh /" say they, " Christ proclaims liberty 
for ws in the gospel, does he not ? Well then, we will work no more, but eat 
and make merry!" And thus every boor who but knows how to reckon 
five, seizes upon the corn-land, the meadows, and the woods, of the monas 
teries, and carries every thing according to his own will, under the pretext 
of the gospel. Here was the true root of the evil. It was all very well for 
Luther to express his mortification [verdreusst] at these results. But 
results they were, and natural results, of his teaching. He had sown the 
wind, and we need not wonder that he reaped the whirlwind ; nor need we 
any longer be surprised at Brentius good humored, though most cutting 
jest, that there was no need to warn Protestants against relying on good 
works, for they had not any good works to rely on. " 

From the facts hitherto alleged, the reader will be enabled 
to judge what was the relative influence on civilization of 
Catholicism and of the Reformation. He will also be able 
to gather the more immediate influence of the latter revolu 
tion on civilization in Germany, its cradle and first theater 
of action. To estimate this influence, however, more nearly 
and more correctly, we must see what was the condition of 
Germany in regard to civilization before, and what it became 
immediately after, the change of religion. 

Before it, a general peace reigned : the elements of civil 
ized life were all in a state of healthy growth and of rapid 
development : every thing bade fair for the inauguration of a 
very high state of refinement and civilization. For the devel 
opment of these, peace is as necessary, as it is for the culti 
vation of letters. D Aubigne himself speaks of the great 
advantages to civilization of the general peace secured to 
Germany in 1496, by the wise policy of the Emperor Maxi 
milian. He writes : 

" For a long time the numerous members of the Germanic body had 
labored to disturb one another. Nothing had been seen but confusion, quar 
rels, wars incessantly breaking out between neighbors, cities, and chiefs. 
Maximilian had laid a solid basis of public order, by instituting the Imperial 


Chamber appointed to settle all differences between the states. The Ger 
mans, after so many confusions and anxieties, saw a new era of safety and 
repose. The condition of affairs powerfully contributed to harmonize the 
public mind. It was now possible in the cities and peaceful valleys of Ger 
many to seek and adopt ameliorations, which discord might have banished."* 

He continues, with not a little simplicity : " We may add, 
that it is in the bosom of peace, that the gospel loves most to 
gain its blessed victories."! He means this of course for the 
gospel of Luther but did not this same gospel break in, with 
its accents of discord, and its fierce spirit of feud and blood 
shed, upon the general peace, secured to Germany by a Cath 
olic potentate, in Catholic times ? Did it not by its truculent 
war-cry, mar the lovely beauty of the peaceful scene he had 
just described ? Did it not ruthlessly rend with dissension 
that "public mind" which before so beautifully "harmon 
ized?" Did it not evoke from the abyss that fell spirit of 
"discord," which "banished from the cities and peaceful 
valleys of Germany" all relish for "seeking and adopting 
ameliorations" in the social condition? Did it not, for more 
than a century, tear and desolate society with civil feuds and 
bloody wars ? And is it not supremely ridiculous, as Erasmus 
says, to hear men of sense thus uttering absurdities which 
they themselves supply evidence for refuting? From the 
principles laid down by D Aubigne himself, it is almost intui 
tively evident, that the Reformation of Luther was highly 
injurious in its influence on the progress of civilization. 

What have been the great results of Protestant and of Catho 
lic influence on modern civilization? What is the present 
relative social condition of Catholic and of Protestant coun 
tries in Europe ? In some respects, we are free to avow, the 
latter are far in advance of the former. They have adopted 
with more eagerness, and carried out with more success, what 
may be called the utilitarian system, which in fact owes its 
origin to the Reformation. They excel in commerce and 
speculation, in which they have greatly outwitted their more 

* D Aubigne, vol. i, p. 76, 77. f Ibid. 


simple, perhaps, because more honest neighbors. They far 
excel in stock-jobbing, and are adepts in all the mysteries of 
exchange. They surpass in banking, and they have issued 
many more notes " promising to pay," than their neighbors : 
though the latter, especially in Spain, seldom fail to pay 
without any " promises " to that effect; nor have they ever 
been known to redeem their pledges by bankrupty or repudi 
ation an easy modern shall we add Protestant ? method 
to pay off old debts ! 

Protestant countries have also published more books on 
political economy and the " wealth of nations :" they have 
also excelled in manufactures and in machinery. But the 
modern utilitarian plan of conducting the latter, in England 
more particularly, has contributed not a little to impoverish 
and debase the lower orders of the people : which, however^ 
according to the doctrine of that most fashionable theory, is 
not at all opposed to the " wealth of nations ;" for this is 
entirely compatible with the general poverty of the masses ! 

But in enlightenment of mind, and in gentleness of man 
ners, and in the general features and in the suavity of social 
intercourse, do Protestant countries in Europe for we wish 
not here to speak of our own country, which is not strictly 
Protestant really surpass Catholic nations ? We think not. 
We believe the balance, if fairly poised, would rather incline 
in favor of the latter. We have shown, that in point of gen 
eral learning and enlightenment, Catholic countries compare 
most advantageously with those that are Protestant. This 
we think we have established on unexceptionable Protestant 
authority. In point of refinement and polish of manners, 
Catholic France is avowedly in advance of all other nations. 
The Spanish gentleman is perhaps the noblest and best type 
of elevated human nature. The warm-hearted, courteous, 
and refined politeness of Italy and Ireland, compares most 
favorably with the coldness and the blunt selfishness of En 
gland, and we are tempted to add, of Protestant Germany 
and Northern Europe. 


In a word, the south of Europe, which has continued under 
Catholic influence, will suffer nothing by being brought into 
comparison, in regard to all the features of refined inter 
course, with the cold, calculating north, which has, to a great 
extent, embraced the doctrines of the Reformation. Though 
not illumined with the new " northern light," which has fit 
fully shone on the minds of the Protestants for three cen 
turies, they are still, to say the least, as enlightened, as 
polished, as refined, and as highly civilized, as their more 
fortunate neighbors. The steady light of Catholicism, which 
shed its blessed rays on their forefathers, has been luminous 
enough to guide their footsteps in the pathway of true 

VOL. i. 38 



WE have now completed our task; how well, the public 
will best judge. We have examined the principal false state 
ments of D Aubigne ; and, in doing so, we have also glancdd 
occasionally at his frequent inconsistencies and absurdities. 
To have followed him in detail throughout his tedious history, 
to have convicted him of unfair or false statements on almost 
every page, to have unmasked his hypocrisy and laid bare 
his contradictions, would have imposed on us an almost end 
less labor. Yet this would have been really less difficult, 
perhaps, than the task we have performed. For it is much 
easier to grapple with an adversary, page by page, and sen 
tence by sentence, than to cull out from his pages, and to 
refute, such general misstatements as are of most importance, 
and as cover the main ground of the controversy. The former 
method is a kind of light skirmishing ; the latter is a more 
serious and weighty species of warfare. 

A German Protestant historian of far more weight than 
D Aubigne, furnishes us with the following appreciation of 
Luther and of his work, the Reformation : 

" He (Luther) died in sorrow, but in the conscientious belief of having 
faithfully served his God, and, although the great and holy work, begun by 
him, had been degraded and dishonored partly by his personal faults, although 
the Eeformation of the church had been rendered subservient to the views of 
a policy essentially unchristian, the good cause was destined to outlive these 
transient abuses. The seeds, scattered by this great reformer, produced, it 
is true, thorns during his lifetime, and during succeeding centuries, but burst 
into blossom, as the storms through which the Eeformation passed gradually 

We leave this not very consistent, nor very candid state 
ment of opinion to speak for itself. It will puzzle many to 
understand, how a work, which was thus marred both by the 
personal faults of Luther, and the essentially unchristian 
policy of his more powerful adherents, could have been 

Menzel, History of Germany, vol. ii, p. 263. 


* holy;" or how the seeds which, during Luther s lifetime, 
and for succeeding centuries, avowedly produced only thorns, 
can be expected to burst into blossom! If we are to judge 
the tree by its fruits, according to the rule laid down by 
Christ, we are bound, from these enforced admissions of the 
German historian, to come to the conclusion, that Luther s