« ForrigeFortsett »
it more enterprising and presumptuous; it was necessary, Book
therefore, to have recourse to the rigorous methods which
such a desperate case required; Leo's sentence of excom- Ii3C' munication, together with the decree of the diet at Worms, should be carried into execution ; and it was incumbent on the emperor to employ his whole power, in order to overawe those on whom the reverence due either to ecclesiastical or civil authority had no longer any influence. Charles, whose views were very different from the pope's, and who became daily more sensible how obstinate and deep-rooted the evil was, thought of reconciling the protestants by means less violent, and considered the convocation of a council as no improper expedient for that purpose; but promised, if gentler arts failed of success, that then he would exert himself with rigour to reduce to the obedience of the holy see those stubborn enemies of the catholic faithc.
Such were the sentiments with which the emperor set Emperor out for Germany, having already appointed a diet of the|]"'d?ct"f empire to be held at Augsburg. In his journey towards Ang^burj;, that city, he had many opportunities of observing the disposition of the Germans with regard to the points in controversy, and found their minds everywhere so much irritated and inflamed, as convinced him, that nothing tending to severity or rigour ought to be attempted, until all other measures proved ineffectual. He made his pu-Tlinc IJm blic entry into Augsburg with extraordinary pomp, and found there such a full assembly of the members of the diet, as was suitable both to the importance of the affairs which were to come under their consideration, and to the honour of an emperor, who, after a long absence, returned to them crowned with reputation and success. His presence seems to have communicated to all parties an unusual spirit of moderation and desire of peace. The elector of Saxony would not permit Luther to accompany him to the diet, lest he should offend the emperor by bringing into his presence a person excommunicated by the pope,
• F. Paul, xlvii. Seek. 1 ii, lit. Hist. <le Confess. d'Auxbourgh, par 1J. Chytieus, ito, Antw. 1.572, p. 6.
Book an(l who had been the author of all those dissensions which
it now appeared so difficult to compose. At the emperor's
I^3"' desire, all the protestant princes forbade the divines who accompanied them to preach in public during their residence at Augsburg. For the same reason they employed Melancthon, the man of the greatest learning, as well as of the most pacific and gentle spirit among the reformers to draw up a confession of their faith, expressed in terms as little offensive to the Roman catholics as a regard for truth would permit. Melancthon, who seldom suffered the rancour of controversy to envenom his style, even in writings purely polemical, executed a task so agreeable to his natural disposition with great moderation and adThc con- dress. The creed which he composed, known by the name Augsburg, of the Confession of Augsburg, from the place where it was presented, was read publicly in the diet. Some popish divines were appointed to examine it; they brought in their animadversions; a dispute ensued between them and Melancthon, seconded by some of his brethren; but though Melancthon softened some articles, made concessions with regard to others, and put the least exceptionable sense upon all; though the emperor himself laboured with great earnestness to reconcile the contending parties; so many marks of distinction were now established, and such insuperable barriers placed between the two churches, that all hopes of bringing about a coalition seemed utterly desperate'.
From the divines, among whom his endeavours had been so unsuccessful, Charles turned to the princes, their patrons. Nor did he find them, how desirous soever of accommodation, or willing to oblige the emperor, more disposed than the former to renounce their opinions. At thnt time, zeal for religion took possession of the minds of men, to a degree which can scarcely be conceived by those who live in an age when the passions excited by the first manifestation of truth, and the first recovery of Iiber
f Seckend. lib. ii, 159, &c . Abr. Scultcti Annalec Evangelici ap. Herm. Vondcr Hariit. Hist. Liter. Reform, Lips. 1717, fol. p. 159.
ty, have in a great measure ceased to operate. This zeal Book was then of such strength as to overcome attachment to= 'their political interest, which is commonly the predominant motive among princes. The elector of Saxony, the landgrave of Hesse, and other chiefs of the proteslanls, though solicited separately by the emperor, and allured by the promise or prospect of those advantages which it was known they were most solicitous to attain, refused, with a fortitude highly worthy of imitation, to abandon -what they deemed the cause of God, for the sake of any earthly acquisition g.
Every scheme in order to gain or disunite the protest- severe ckor.t party proving abortive, nothing now remained for the^epr^!in,t emperor but to take some vigorous measures towards as- tounu. selling the doctrines and authority of the established church. These, Campeggio, the papal nuncio, had always recommended as the only proper and effectual course of dealing with such obstinate heretics. In compliance with his opinions and remonstrances, the diet issued a de- Nov. '9. cree, condemning most of the peculiar tenets held by the protectants; forbidding any person to protect or tolerate such as taught them; enjoining a strict observance of the established rites; and prohibiting any further innovation, under severe penalties. All orders of men were rpquired to assist with their persons and fortunes in carrying this decree into execution; and such as refused to obey it were declared incapable of acting as judges, or of appearing as parties in the imperial chamber, the supreme court of judicature in the empire. To all which was subjoined a promise, that an application should be made to the pope, requiring him to call a general council within six months, in order to terminate all controversies by its sovereign decisions h.
The severity of this decree, which was considered as a They enter prelude to the most violent persecution, alarmed the pro-jTMo*eat testants, and convinced them that the emperor was re-Snuikahie. solved on their destruction. The dread of those calami
» SWii. 132. Scultet. Annul. 1A8.' "Ibid. 139.
BOOK ties which were ready to fall on the church, oppressed thp feeble spirit of Melancthon; and, as if the cause had
'53o' already been desperate, he gave himself up to melancholy and lamentation. But Luther, who, during the meeting of the diet, had endeavoured to confirm and animate his party by several treatises'which he addressed to them, was not disconcerted or dismayed at the prospect of this new danger. He comforted Melancthon and his other desponding disciples, and exhorted the princes not to abandon those truths which they had lately asserted with such laudable boldness''. His exhortations made the deeper impression upon them, as they were greatly alarmed at that time by the account of a combination among the popish princes of the empire for the maintenance of the established religion, to which Charles himself had acceded'. This convinced them that it was necessary to stand on their guard; and that their own safety, as well as the success of their cause, depended on union. Filled with this dread of the adverse party, and with these sentiments concerning the conduct proper for themselves, Dec. ai. they assembled at Smalkalde. There they concluded a league of mutual defence against all aggressors', by which they formed the Protestant states of the empire into one regular body; and, beginning already to consider themselves as such, they resolved to apply to the kings of France and England, and to implore them to patronise and assist their new confederacy. The cmpe- An affair not connected with religion furnished them rooi^"n w'tl' a Pretence for courting the aid of foreign princes, have his Charles, whose ambitious views enlarged in proportion to elected' tj,e increase of his power and grandeur, had formed a king of the scheme of continuing the imperial crown in hi* family, by procuring his brother Ferdinand to be elected king of the Romans. The present juncture was favourable for the execution of that design. The emperor's arms had
b Seek, ii, 180. SIcid. IV).
been everywhere victorious; he had given law to all Book Europe at the late peace; no rival now remained in a . '. ~ condition to balance or to controul him; and the electors, dazzled with the splendour of his success, or overawed by the greatness of his power, durst scarcely dispute the will of a prince, whose solicitations carried with them the authority of commands. Nor did he want plausible reasons to enforce the measure. The affairs of his other kingdoms, he said, obliged him to be often absent from Germany; the growing disorders occasioned by the controversies about religion, as well as the formidable neighbourhood of the Turks, who continually threatened to break in with their desolating armies into the heart of the empire, required the constant presence of a prince endowed with prudence capable of composing the former, and with power, as well as valour, sufficient to repel the latter. His brother Ferdinand possessed these qualities in an eminent degree. By residing long in Germany, he had acquired a thorough knowledge of its constitution and manners; having been present almost from the first rise of the religious dissensions, he knew what remedies were most proper, what the Germans could bear, and bow to apply them; as his own dominions lay on the Turkish frontier, he was the natural defender of Germany against the invasions of the infidels, being prompted by interest, no less than he would be bound in duty, to oppose them.
These arguments made little impression on the Pro-The Protestants. Experience taught them, that nothing badavcr5e toir. contributed more to the undisturbed progress of their opinions, than the interregnum after Maximilian's death, the long absence of Charles, and the slackness of the reins of government which these occasioned. Conscious of the advantages which their cause had derived from this relaxation of government, they were unwilling to render it more vigorous, by giving themselves a new and a fixed master. They perceived clearly the extent of Charles's ambition; that he aimed at rendering the imperial crowu
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