Short Papers on Church History — Chapter 39

The Popish Refutation

On the 13th of July, or rather less than three weeks after the reading of the Protestant Confession, the popish divines presented their reply to the Emperor. It consisted of two hundred and eighty pages; but the style was so abusive and violent, that Charles would not allow it to be read in the diet. He was much displeased, and ordered another to be drawn up, shorter and more moderate. The document having been so altered as to suit the mind of the Emperor, he caused it to be read in full diet on the 3rd of August. The first copy was in accordance with the counsel of the pope, the second with the policy of Charles.

The Count-Palatine, after admitting, in a general way, that many abuses had crept into the church, and that the Emperor by no means defended them, delivered the following message: "That the Emperor found the articles of this Refutation orthodox, catholic, and conformable to the Gospels that he therefore required the Protestants to abandon their Confession, now refuted, and to adhere to all the articles that had just been set forth; that, if they refused, the Emperor would remember his office, and would know how to show himself the advocate and defender of the Roman Church."

These words could not be misunderstood by the Protestants. They breathed force and violence. This was the boasted clemency of the Emperor. Each party now stood on its own proper ground. The Protestants had taken their stand on the word of God; the Catholics on the word of man — the fathers, the popes, and the councils. These were, and are, and ever must be, the essential features of divine and human ground, of true religion and false. Once allow a lower, or another, standard than the truth of God, and where may the professor soon find himself? He may never reach Rome, but he is on the way to it. Those who maintain the pure truth of God as the only ground of faith and practice — of walk, worship, and testimony — may often have to lament their shortcomings. So much imperfection, mingled with the Christian's purest services; but the important question with every Christian should be, Can I allow, admit, or accept a lower standard than the mind of God as revealed in His word? "It is written," was the unfailing refuge of the Lord Himself in the day of His temptation; by which word He completely overcame the tempter. Christ is the Christian's one grand lesson, as the apostle says, "But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus." And the same apostle makes the rule of the Christian's life still more simple in that all comprehensive saying, "For to me to live is Christ." As if he had said, For me to live is to have Christ always before me as my object, my motive, my power; so that the life of Jesus might be made manifest in my life while here. Thus would the eye be single, the heart undivided, and the whole path full of light. Eph. 4:20-21; Phil. 1:21; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:10.

But we must return to our history.

The Refutation wholly rejected the doctrine of justification by faith, without the merit of good works. And with respect to the marriage of priests, the Catholics wondered that the Protestants could demand such a thing, seeing it had never been the practice for priests to marry since the days of the apostles. With regard to the mass, it was affirmed to be a sacrifice for the living and the dead; "that Daniel had prophesied long ago, that when Antichrist should come, the daily offering should cease; but as yet this had not come to pass in the Holy Catholic Church. Nevertheless, in those places where mass was despised, altars destroyed, and images burned, there that prophecy was fulfilled." Such were the enlightened arguments of the popish doctors. The moment they refer to scripture, they prove that they are blinded by the god of this world.

Such was the character of the Refutation which Charles invited the Protestant princes to accede to, out of deference to his own authority, as protector of the integrity of the Roman Church, and the religious unity of the empire.

A Copy of the Refutation Refused

John, the good Elector of Saxony, nobly answered for himself and his friends, "That they would do anything for peace which they could do with a safe conscience; and, if convicted of any error by scriptural authority, they would readily renounce it. But he desired a copy of the Refutation, that they might consider it at leisure, and show on what points it was not satisfactory to them; which would be in conformity with the fair and candid discussion to which they had been invited by the edict of convocation." This reasonable request, however, was refused. The Refutation was not published, and no copies of it were to be given to the Protestants. But they persisted in demanding a copy; and Charles agreed to give them one on the following conditions, namely, "that the Protestants should not reply; that they should speedily agree with the Emperor and submit to his decision that no transcript of it should be made, and that it should not be communicated to any other persons, as the Emperor would have no further debate." On such conditions they declined to receive it, and appealed to God and to His truth.

The firmness of the princes greatly irritated the Emperor. They thus refused all that he had proposed to them, even what he considered a favour, and he had utterly failed, with all the craft of Rome, either to gain or disunite them "Agitation, " says D'Aubigné, "anger, and affright were manifested on every bench of that august assembly. This reply of the evangelicals was war — was rebellion. Duke George of Saxony, the Princes of Bavaria, all the violent adherents of Rome, trembled with indignation. There was a sudden, an impetuous, movement, and an explosion of murmurs and hatred."*

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 4, p. 277. John Scott, vol. 1, p. 53.}

Private Negotiations

So violent was the tumult produced in the diet by the Protestants rejecting the Emperor's proposals, that the Electors of Mayence and Brandenburg interposed, and requested the Emperor to accept their offices for the private and amicable arrangement of the differences. This being agreed to, mediators were appointed. They were six in number — all violent enemies of the Reformation — the Elector of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Saltzburg, the Bishops of Strasburg, Wurtzburg, and Bamberg, and Duke George of Saxony. The affair was now placed on new ground, but no nearer a peaceful settlement. Had Charles been left to his own convictions, there would have been little difficulty in coming to peaceful terms with the reformers. He wanted both money and men from Germany, and could not see the policy of desolating the country, and exterminating his subjects because they refused obedience to the pope. Besides it is thought by some historians, that the nearer he contemplated the principles of the Reformers, the more did they strike a chord in his own spirit. And it is certain that his own sister, Mary, who was married to Christiern, King of Denmark, was a pious princess, and probably a Lutheran. Like Margaret with her brother Francis I., she often pleaded with her brother Charles on behalf of the Protestants.

But the Emperor was in a difficulty, he must play the politician. He was under the most solemn oath to defend the Roman Church and the pontifical dignity; he had therefore to assume a position that would be gratifying to the pope and his party. But as he was slow in his movements, messages were sent from Rome of the most violent character, and Campeggio redoubled his zeal. "Let the Emperor," said the legate, "conclude a treaty with the Catholic princes of Germany; and if these rebels equally insensible to threats and promises, obstinately persist in their diabolical course, then let his majesty employ fire and sword, let him take possession of all the property of the heretics and utterly eradicate these poisonous pests. Then let him appoint holy inquisitors, who shall go on the track of the remnant of reform, and proceed against them as in Spain against the Moors." Besides all this, the University of Wittemberg was to be excommunicated; the heretical books burned, and those who had studied there were to be declared unworthy the favour of pope or Emperor. "But first of all," said the crafty legate to Charles, "a sweeping confiscation is necessary. Even if your majesty confines yourself to the leaders of the party, you may extract from them a large sum of money, which is at all events indispensable to carry on the war with the Turks."*

{*Ranke's History of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 76.}

Such were the counsels of Rome, and by such the mediators were animated. In the first conference which was held, they addressed the Protestants after the style of their party — repeating to them the mildness of the Emperor, his desire to establish unity, and correct some abuses which had crept into the Christian church, in conjunction with the pope. "But," said the Elector of Brandenburg, "how contrary to the gospel are the sentiments you have adopted! Abandon then your errors, do not any longer remain separate from the church, and sign the Refutation without delay. If you refuse, then, through your fault, how many souls will be lost, how much bloodshed, what countries laid waste, what trouble in all the empire!" And, turning to the Elector of Saxony, he said in plain terms, "that if he did not renounce and anathematize the new-fangled doctrine which he had embraced, the Emperor would by force of arms deprive him of his dignities, his possessions, and his life; that certain ruin would fall upon his subjects, and even upon their wives and children." The prince, now old and infirm, was, for the moment, much affected by such outrageous language, but speedily recovered his wonted resolution. The princes remained firm and unanimous, though surrounded by the imperial guards, and the city almost in a state of siege.

Immediately after the first meeting, the Landgrave of Hesse left Augsburg. His sudden departure caused a good deal of uneasiness to the Emperor, the princes, and the whole diet. His intentions were unknown; but he left a note with his Chancellor for the Elector, in which he assured him of his unalterable constancy in the cause of the gospel, and his determination rather to shed the last drop of his blood than abandon it. He also exhorted his allies to permit themselves in no manner to be turned aside from the word of God. His ministers remained in the diet, instructed to give their vigorous support to the Protestant cause.*

{*Waddington, vol. 3, p. 84.}

Philip, who was a man of a quick and discerning mind probably saw that the dispute was now placed on more dangerous and more hopeless ground than ever, and, becoming weary of the insolence of the papists, longed for home. And as the result proved, his judgment was right. The whole of the month of August was spent in long conferences, but without effect. The differences did not admit of arrangement; toleration could not be thought of by the Church of Rome, nor could the unreserved submission which the Catholics demanded be thought of by the Protestants. At the end of the month, the controversy was referred back to the Emperor, in the same state in which the Electors had taken it out of his hands.

The Termination of the Diet

What divines and princes had failed to accomplish, the great Charles, no doubt, thought would soon be done by his personal influence. But he was bitterly disappointed. He probably never understood the real nature of the dispute, at least he could not understand the power of conscience enlightened by the word of God. It was a new word and a new power to the soldier. His only idea of arrangement was by concessions from both parties, or the entire submission of one. But he soon had to prove that conscience was beyond the reach of his personal influence and the power of his sword.

Finding private means, with all the ingenuity of papal diplomacy, utterly ineffectual, he sent for the chiefs of the Protestant party, on the 7th of September, to meet him in his audience chamber. Only his brother, and a select number of his confidential advisers, were present. The princes and deputies having been introduced, he expressed to them, by the mouth of the Count-Palatine, his surprise and disappointment at their conduct: — "That they, who were few in number should have introduced novelties, contrary to the ancient and most sacred custom of the universal church; should have framed to themselves a singular kind of religion, differing from what was professed by the Catholics, by himself, his brother, and all the princes and states of the empire; nay, utterly disagreeing with all the kings of the earth, and of their own ancestors. Being desirous, however, of peace, he would use his interest with the pope and the other princes to procure a general council, as soon as the place could be agreed upon, but still, on this condition, that they should, in the meantime, follow the same religion which he and the rest of the princes professed." In reply the Protestants most respectfully declined his terms. They "denied that they had stirred up new sects contrary to the holy scriptures; thanked him for the proposal of a council, but that nothing could compel them to re-establish in their churches the abuses which they had condemned in their Confession, nor, even were they so disposed, could they force them upon subjects now too enlightened to receive them."

Charles was embarrassed. He did not desire war, and yet how could he avoid it with honour? "He could not understand how a few princes, inconsiderable in power, should reject the conciliatory and condescending proposals he had made to them. It was their duty to abide by the decision of the majority, and not arrogantly to prefer their own opinion to that of the church, and their own wisdom to that of the pope and all the other princes of Christendom." He begged the Protestants to renew the conference, and hoped that the work of concord might be completed in other eight days. But they declined to renew the conference, as only occasioning useless delay; and on the 9th of September all direct communication between them and Charles terminated.

The Final Decree

The Emperor now ordered a committee to be chosen for framing a decree, and required the Elector of Saxony to stay four days longer, that he might hear the draft of it. The commissioners appointed for drawing up this decree, were the Electors of Mayence and Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Saltzburg, the Bishops of Strasburg and Spires, George, Duke of Saxony, William, Duke of Bavaria, and Henry, Duke of Brunswick — comprising all the most violent enemies of the Reformation.

On the 22nd of September the decree was read to the Protestants. It affirmed that the Confession of the Elector and his associates had been publicly heard, and confuted; that in the subsequent conferences those princes had retracted part of their new doctrines, but still retained the rest; that space was now allowed them, till the 15th of the ensuing April, to return to the doctrine of the church, at least till the decision of a council; and that they were to make known their final resolution before that day. Meanwhile they were commanded to live peaceably, to permit no changes in religion, to publish no new religious works, to prevent none of their subjects from returning to the ancient faith, and to join with the other princes of the empire to suppress the Anabaptists and Sacramentarians; assuring them that within six months the Emperor would send out his summons for a council, to commence the next year.

The tone of this resolution is extremely moderate, compared with the violent language which we have frequently heard from the papal party; but, whatever may have been their object, the Protestants replied with their usual firmness: — "That they could never admit that the Confession had been refuted; on the contrary, they were more than ever convinced that it was conformable to the word of God, which they would more fully have demonstrated, had a copy of the Refutation been allowed them." Here Pontanus presented to the diet an "Apology for the Confession," which had been composed in reply to the Refutation, so far at least as the substance of it could be recollected by those who heard it. After referring to their oft-repeated willingness to abandon every opinion not founded on scripture, and their most profound assurances of loyalty to the Emperor and the empire, they concluded by requesting a copy of the proposed decree, that they might make up their minds respecting it, before it passed.

On the morning of the 23rd of September, the Elector had his audience of leave; the Emperor then gave his hand to the princes, and allowed them to depart.

The diet continued its sittings for at least a month after the departure of the Protestant princes, chiefly engaged in providing supplies for the Turkish war. The "Recess," or final decree, of the diet was published on the 19th of November. After comparing several abstracts of this important document, we think Waddington's the clearest and simplest for modern readers; it is as follows: -

"Those who denied the corporeal presence were proscribed; the restoration of the ancient sacraments, rites, and ceremonies, in the places where they had been abolished, was commanded; so was the degradation of all married priests; nor were any other to be substituted for them, or instituted anywhere, without the approbation of the bishop. The images, which had been removed, were to be restored, the freedom of the will was to be asserted, and the opposite doctrine prohibited as insulting to God; so was the doctrine of justification by faith alone; obedience to the civil authorities was diligently inculcated; the preachers were commanded to exhort the people to the invocation of the saints, the observance of feasts and fasts, and attendance at mass the monks were to obey the rules of their order; the clergy to lead a reputable and decorous life. All who should attempt any change in doctrine or worship were made liable to personal inflictions. The destroyed monasteries were to be rebuilt, and their revenues restored to the monks. The decree was to be executed by military force, wherever it might not find voluntary obedience, and the States of the empire were to unite their forces with those of the Emperor for that purpose. The 'imperial chamber' was to pursue the rebels, and the neighbouring States to execute its sentences. The pope was to be solicited to convoke a council, within six months, to be assembled within a year from the date of convocation."

Two days after the public reading of the Recess, Charles V. quitted Augsburg. According to the opinion of D'Aubigné, he was greatly distressed in his mind, and knew not how to escape from the labyrinth in which he was caught. As the head of the State, he had interfered for the protection of the church, and the suppression of her enemies. But the opposite had been the result. "If he did not execute his threatenings, his dignity was compromised, and his authority rendered contemptible . . . .  The ruler of two worlds had seen all his power baffled by a few Christians; and he who had entered the imperial city in triumph, now left it gloomy, silent, and dispirited. The mightiest power of the earth was broken against the power of God."*

{*D'Aubigné, vol. 4, pp. 132-340; Waddington, vol. 3, pp. 43-113; Scott's Continuation, vol. 1, pp. 1-90; Du Pin, vol. 3, p. 206.}

Reflections on the Diet of Augsburg

No study is dry and barren, and no time is misspent, that leads us to a deeper knowledge of God, and to a more intimate acquaintance with His ways. To see His hand guiding and overruling the most complicated affairs of men for the accomplishment of His own gracious purposes, is truly refreshing and edifying to the soul. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord." "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Ps. 107:43; Rom. 8:28) Historians may expatiate with wonder and admiration on the results of such a contest — at the triumph of the few over the many, of the weak over the strong; but while we would seek to speak impartially of each combatant, we would have our eye especially on Him who is "Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

The reader must have observed that the pontifical ministers, guided by the subtle and experienced Campeggio, and countenanced by the Emperor, completely failed to gain any important advantage over the comparatively rude provincial princes. Like the waves breaking against the rock, their craft, duplicity, and evil counsel fell powerlessly on the Elector and his allies. By faith and constancy in the word of God, they stood firm amidst the angry passions and threatenings of their enemies. The pope, the Emperor, the legates, the princes, with all their experience in diplomacy, were utterly astonished to perceive how little they could accomplish. "Day after day," says a close observer, "their designs were penetrated, and their artifices eluded, by men of no pretensions to political skill, by Germans, natives of obscure provinces, subjects of petty princes, unpractised in the arts of courts, uninstructed even in the rudiments of intrigue. It was in vain that they taxed their ingenuity for some fresh expedient to succeed those that had failed — it was defeated by the same considerate and suspicious sagacity."

In reflecting on the proceedings of the Diet of Augsburg, we are forcibly reminded of the Diet of Worms, and of the great changes which had taken place during those nine years.

1. At that time Luther stood alone as the representative of the Reformation. Not a single prince had then declared for the new doctrines. At Augsburg all is changed. In place of a solitary monk, we see a numerous and well-organized body of princes, nobles, and theologians, and all of them men of weight and respectability. But Rome was not more humbled and perplexed by the latter than by the former. She could no more silence the single monk than the host of princes. Such was the manifest power of God in connection with His own word. Then she sent forth an edict similar to the Recess of Augsburg, but which she never was able to execute. What could be more convincing, as to the strength of the Reformation, and the weakness of her enemies!

2. The effects or results, of the Augsburg diet were evidently favourable to the Protestants. The one grand object of the papal party at this time was to crush and root out, by the sword of Charles, the very seeds of the Reformation from the soil of Germany, but in place of accomplishing its Satanic design, Protestantism was immensely strengthened, and delivered from gross misrepresentation. The calm, sober, respectful, and dignified behaviour of the princes led many of the papists to think more favourably of them, and ultimately to unite with them. "Among the most important converts were Hermann, Archbishop of Cologne, Frederic Count Palatine, first minister of the Emperor, and afterwards Elector; Eric, Duke of Brunswick; the Dukes of Mecklenburg and Pomerania; Joachim, Prince Elector of Brandenburg, who soon after succeeded his father; and George Ernest, son of Prince William of Hennenberg. Some free cities, hitherto papal or neutral, declared in favour of the Reformation; and even the Emperor and his brother carried away with them a less bigoted aversion for the faith and name of Protestant, than they had imbibed from the lessons of their ecclesiastical counsellors."

3. A considerable amount of truth was kept before the mind of that august assembly for nearly six months. This was an immense point gained. Many dignitaries both in church and state heard the pure truth of God for the first time. Besides the great Confession of the Lutheran churches, two others were presented to the diet. One was sent by Zwingle, the other was called the Tetrapolitan, deriving its name from having been signed by the deputies of the four imperial cities, Strasburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau. Bucer has the credit of drawing up the Tetrapolitan, as Melancthon has of the Lutheran Confession. Thus God had ordained that the truth should be established by three noble confessions. They were substantially the same as to the great fundamental truths of the word of God; they only differed on the doctrine of the real presence, or, concerning the manner in which Christ's body and blood are present in the Eucharist.

4. It would be easy to point out many blessed truths in the word of God which were not referred to in these confessions of faith, but our present object is to speak thankfully of what the Lord enabled these noble men to do, and with so much grace. The truth of God as to the church, the body of Christ, and her heavenly relations; the operations of the Holy Spirit; the difference between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of the law, the believer's oneness with an exalted Christ; the hope of the Lord's coming for His saints, and afterwards with His saints to reign in millennial glory, were comparatively, if not altogether, unknown to the Reformers. Nevertheless, they were faithful to what they knew and held it firmly in the face of every danger. It was by faith that the victory was won.

The history of the Reformation, morally viewed, is now accomplished. There will still be conferences and discussions; leagues, failures, and desolating wars; to say nothing of endless persecutions and martyrdoms; but the emancipating truth of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without the merit of good works has taken so deep a hold of the European mind, that neither the sword of the empire, the conspiracies of popery, nor the powers of hell, shall ever be able to extinguish it.

The Providence of God in the Affairs of Charles

There is nothing more interesting, in connection with the history of the Reformation, than the overruling hand of a divine providence in the midst of its enemies. The persons, the writings, and the testimony of God's chosen witnesses are guarded and protected by means the least thought of and the most remote. He only could convert the disputes of monarchs and the armies of the Turks into instruments for the furtherance of the gospel of peace. And this He did from the very commencement.

Immediately after the promulgation of the Edict of Worms against the Reformers, war commenced between the Emperor and Francis, king of France. "How desirous soever the Emperor might be to put a stop to Luther's progress," says Dr. Robertson, "he was often obliged, during the Diet at Worms, to turn his thoughts to matters still more interesting, and which demanded more immediate attention." The great object of his ambition at this time was to oppose the power of Francis. According to civil history both Charles and Francis laid claim to the duchy of Milan, which had been lost by Louis XII. after he had obtained it by conquest. "For a time Francis was successful; but, about the year 1525, Charles again brought it under his own power. Charles, on his part, laid claim to Artois as part of the Netherlands; while he had to defend Navarre, which his grandfather Ferdinand had taken from France. In addition to which, Francis asserted his right to the two Sicilies." Here we have an explanation of the Emperor's backwardness to commence hostilities against the Germans. But these quarrels and contests between the leading powers of Europe so occupied their attention for many years, that the Reformation was allowed to spread far and wide, and the oft-repeated threatenings of the papal powers were from time to time diverted and deferred.

Again, the severity of the Edict of Augsburg very naturally excited the most serious apprehensions of all the members of the Protestant body — of all Germany. There was only one expectation throughout the whole country, that of an immediate civil war — the destruction of the Protestants. Such was the outward aspect of affairs; but God had ordained otherwise. The heart, as well as the position of Charles, was unfavourable to persecution at that time. His familiar intercourse with the Protestants for nearly six months had taught him that they were not the dangerous fanatics or the domestic enemies he had understood them to be. He must have been greatly impressed with the fairness and justness of their cause, though he could not understand the civil and religious liberties which they claimed; yet he saw no reason why he should chastise them as rebels for the pleasure of the pope. Clement and all his Italian adherents were greatly disappointed that the Emperor had not assumed his proper character as defender of the church, and had not waged war against the incorrigible heretics. But in the providence of God this was impossible, even if Charles had been as blood-thirsty as Clement.

Despatches from the East greatly perplexed the Emperor, and relieved the Protestants. Solyman had again invaded Hungary at the head of three hundred thousand men, and for the avowed purpose of dethroning Ferdinand and placing another on his throne. Such intelligence drew the thoughts of the Emperor entirely away from Germany. But here we must leave him for a moment, and notice the position of the Protestants.

The League of Smalcald

Immediately after the dissolution of the Diet of Augsburg, and the issuing of its menacing decree, the Elector of Saxony and his associates proceeded to adopt such measures as appeared most likely to avert its effects, and to prepare without delay for the worst extremities. The dread of those calamities falling on the Reformers, oppressed the feeble mind of Melancthon, even to the borders of despair; but Luther was neither disconcerted nor dismayed. By his letters, written from his seclusion at Coburg, he comforted and encouraged his friends. Convinced that the work was the work of God, he exhorted the princes to stand firm on the ground of eternal truth, to trust in the protection of God, and to concede nothing of the pure gospel to the enemy.

As early as the month of November, 1530, the Landgrave of Hesse, more impetuous than the rest, and less averse to the doctrines of the Swiss reformers respecting the Lord's supper, entered into an alliance for six years with the cantons of Zurich, Berne, and Basle, and the city of Strasburg. On the 22nd of the following month, the Landgrave and the other Protestant leaders met at Smalcald, in Upper Saxony, and laid the foundation of the famous league known in history as the "Articles of Smalcald." The Landgrave, who had never desisted from his favorite object of union, took great pains to have the Swiss included in the Confederacy, but Luther and those who followed him absolutely refused to admit them.

The Protestant states of the empire, in virtue of this league, were now formed into one body for their mutual defence. But Luther, and some others who had written and spoken strongly against any confederacy, even for the defence of their cause, had great scruples as to the alliance. The jurists were consulted as well as the divines respecting its legality. The former affirmed "That there were certain cases in which the laws permitted resistance to the imperial authority; for, by virtue of the compact between the Emperor and the states, the Emperor engaged not to infringe upon the laws of the empire, and the rights and liberties of the Germanic Church. This compact the Emperor had violated; and therefore the states had a right to combine together against him." Luther replied, that he had not been aware of this, but, being now persuaded that it was so, he had no objections to make; for the gospel did in no respect invalidate civil institutions. Yet he could not approve of any offensive war. Here we may notice in passing that this is the first and fatal downward step of the Protestants. Through fear of the enemy they are taken off the ground of faith. Even Luther falls. In place of conscience and the word of God, they combine to repel force by force.

An affair, not connected with religion, happened about this time, which furnished the Protestants with a political ground of resistance to the Emperor. Charles, whose ambitious views enlarged in proportion to the increase of his power, expressed his desire that his brother Ferdinand should be elected King of the Romans. Accordingly the Emperor summoned the electoral college to meet at Cologne for this purpose. The Elector of Saxony refused to be present; but instructed his eldest son to appear there, and to "protest against the election as informal, illegal, contrary to the articles of the Golden Bull, and subversive of the liberties of the empire." But the protest was disregarded. The other electors whom Charles had been at great pains to gain, chose Ferdinand King of the Romans, who, in a few days after, was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle.

The Second Meeting at Smalcald

On the 29th of March, 1531, the Protestants opened their second assembly at Smalcald. The league, though at first limited to Protestant electors, princes, and states, was now extended so as to include those, who, whatever might be their religious sentiments, were opposed to the Emperor, and protested against the election of Ferdinand. They also took measures to bring the kings of France, England, and Denmark, as well as other princes and states, into the Confederacy. The Dukes of Bavaria, and others who had not been present at the first meeting, now joined the league. Regulations were made for the levying of supplies and soldiers to be ready in case of need.

Charles Seeks to Conciliate the Protestants

The warlike aspect of the confederates, and the position of Charles in his Turkish war, led him to court the friendship of the Protestants rather than to provoke hostilities with them He greatly needed their assistance, and sent his order for men and money. But they refused to furnish their contingent unless peace were secured to them. They reasonably replied, that it would not be wise in them to place their means of self-defence at the disposal of their persecutors, accordingly they required, that the hostile proceedings of the Imperial Chamber — the executive council of the empire — should be stopped. Charles was now in a great difficulty. To make this concession would amount to a virtual repeal of the decree of Augsburg.

After various consultations, the Elector of Mayence and the Prince Palatine interposed as mediators between the parties. They met at Schweinfurt, the following articles being proposed by the mediators: "That the Confession of Augsburg, without further innovation, or any connection with Zwinglians or Anabaptists, should be the doctrine of the Protestants until the decision of a council, that these should make no attempts to diffuse their tenets in the Catholic states, or to disturb the jurisdiction or ceremonies of the church; that they should furnish supplies for the Turkish war; that they should submit to the imperial decrees and tender their allegiance to the Emperor and to the King of the Romans." The Protestants objected, but chiefly on account of the elevation of Ferdinand. They refused to acknowledge the validity of his title, and on this ground they were supported by some of the Catholic princes and by the Kings of France and England.

The Peace of Ratisbon

The Protestants, now conscious of their own strength, replied to the mediators, "That the Emperor should proclaim forthwith a general religious peace; that the two parties should be prohibited from offering any sort of insult or molestation to each other; that the Imperial Chamber should be instructed to suspend the execution of the sentences pronounced on religious matters. If these should be accorded, they promised on their side not in any way to innovate into their confession, not to interfere with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction in places where it was still established; to render the most zealous obedience to the Emperor; and to furnish all possible supplies for the Turkish war." After some discussion, when no agreement seemed possible, the Conference was adjourned to the 3rd of June, 1532, at Nuremberg.

Meanwhile the Turks were advancing nearer to Austria, and the heart of the empire was in danger. Such was the state of things when the Conference resumed its negotiations at the time appointed. But the discussions and difficulties were speedily disposed of: "The arguments of the diplomatists were silenced by the march of Solyman; and the conditions proposed by the Protestants were accepted. The Emperor was awaiting the result at Ratisbon, and it is recorded that, when the treaty was at length brought to him, without so much as examining the document, he affixed his signature." August 2, 1532.

The Opinions of Historians

It may be interesting to notice here, how uniformly historians attribute this great triumph of the Reformers to the direct intervention of God. "It is indeed true," says Waddington, "that it was not by the physical power of the Protestants, still less by the moral authority of their doctrine, but solely by that stronger providential dispensation, which converted the very arms of the infidel into an instrument for the revival of the gospel. Still it was an advantage of most essential importance. The edicts of Worms and Augsburg were now virtually suspended; and the interval of their suspension was indefinite." Scultetus calls upon us to admire "the providence of God, which made the Turkish Sultan the great instrument of annulling, or at least suspending the execution of the decrees of Augsburg against the Reformation." Melancthon says, "By the tacit commandment of God, the Emperor was called away from his designs against the Germans by the Turkish war. The dogs lick the sores of Lazarus. The Turk mitigates the edict of Augsburg. No race of men were ever in greater peril than we were: no party was ever subjected to animosities more bitter than ourselves. There was no aid but from God."

And the testimony of the civil historian, Dr. Robertson, is even more weighty than that of the ecclesiastical historians. He says, "In this treaty it was stipulated, that universal peace be established in Germany, until the meeting of a general council, the convocation of which within six months the Emperor shall endeavour to procure: that no person shall be molested on account of religion; that a stop shall be put to all processes begun by the Imperial Chamber against Protestants, and the sentences already passed to their detriment shall be declared void. On their part, the Protestants engaged to assist the Emperor with all their forces in resisting the invasion of the Turks. Thus by their firmness in adhering to their principles, by the unanimity with which they urged all their claims, and by their dexterity in availing themselves of the Emperor's situation, the Protestants obtained terms which amounted almost to a toleration of their religion: all the concessions were made by Charles none by them; even the favorite point of their approving his brother's election was not mentioned; and the Protestants of Germany, who had hitherto been viewed only as a religious sect, came henceforth to be considered as a political body of no small consequence."*

{*Waddington, vol. 3, p. 160. John Scott, vol. 1, p. 112. Robertson's Reign of Charles V., vol. 5, p. 391.}

How far their attainment of political importance was conducive to the interests of Christianity, is another question, and for our own opinion on that subject we must refer the reader to our exposition of the epistle to Sardis at the beginning of the volume. The politician and the theologian should never be united in the same person. The Christian's citizenship is in heaven, the principle of his position here is strangership — that of a pilgrim and a stranger. (1 Peter 2:11; Phil. 3:20)

The princes nobly redeemed their pledge to Charles. They brought forces into the field which exceeded the numbers expected. The Imperial army, by the fresh levies, was increased to ninety thousand well disciplined foot, and thirty thousand horse, besides a prodigious swarm of irregulars. The Emperor took the command in person; and mankind waited in suspense the issue of a decisive battle between the two greatest monarchs in the world. More than half a million men, of nearly all nations, looked each other in the face for a time, and closely watched each other's movements: but what were the results? The great Sultan, Solyman the Magnificent, with three hundred thousand men, seemed to have been deprived of energy, of decision, or to have been intimidated by this display of power, and quickly withdrew his formidable army without coming to a battle. It is remarkable, that in such a martial age, this was the first time that Charles, who had already carried on such extensive wars, and gained so many victories, appeared at the head of his troops. "In this first essay of his arms," says his able biographer, "to have opposed such a leader as Solyman was no small honour, to have compelled him to retreat, merited very considerable praise."

But who, we think, can fail to see a higher hand in this bloodless victory than the young Emperor's? When the Turk had terrified Charles into submission by his appearance, his work was done. The God who rules over all sent him home The empire must still be saved for the sake of the Reformation. Solyman had made great preparations for this campaign, but, unaccountable to all, save to faith, it ended without any memorable event. Charles returned to Spain, to superintend his vast military preparations. The Reformers returned to their peaceful and christian occupations, the church had rest from persecution, and the period of her tranquillity was prolonged for well nigh fifteen years.

The Reformation having now gained, through the Lord's watchful care, a great triumph and a solid footing in Germany, we may turn for a little and examine the rise and progress of the reform movement in Switzerland.