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have mentioned, the Reformation invaded every nation of Western Europe. Everywhere it drove the Papacy from its position of arrogant assertion, into an attitude of self-defence, from which it has never rallied since. It divided the great Catholic organization of the Middle Age into two irreconcilably hostile parties, completely changing its essential character as catholic, or universal, and impressed two radically distinct and antagonistic types upon the mind of Western Christendom. From the field of theological or scholarly debate it speedily spread through court, camp, and plain. It drew lines of hostile division in the intrigues of cabinets and the policy of kings. It kindled and kept to a fierce heat the passions of whole nations and multitudes of men. Its advent was the signal for a series of religious wars that have never been surpassed in obstinate ferocity. And at length it conquered a peace which parted the great powers on a new line, as Papal and Protestant, and made the basis of the European political system, down to the wars of Napoleon.
Let us look at it, next, in its more special effects in different lands.
Germany it divides near midway, setting the young Emperor at strife with the bold and proud spirit of the North. Luther's brave, honest words, still more his hearty, resolute, manly life, call forth a new spirit in the people, and make them intensely conscious of a new bond of union. Authority is set at defiance in church and state. Horrible scandals, of Anabaptist and Antinomian, springing from very harmlessseeming maxims of gospel truth, and from a style of worship that seems at first to have been simple, fervent, and beautiful, stain the fresh annals of religious liberty. The fury of the Peasants' War-that tragical issue of a premature and abortive republicanism, that bloody response of feudal tyranny to the pathetic simplicity and good faith of the popular demands
*These demands were, the right of choosing pastors; that tithes shall be given to the pastor and the poor; the abolition of serfdom and of game-laws; the right of gathering wood in forests; the mitigation of feudal services, and the lightening of rent; to be judged by established law; the use of common land; and the abolition of the widow's and orphan's tax (heriot). The petition drafted by one of the pastors is very touching for the homely eloquence which sets forth these grievances, and the simple confidence of the appeal to the mercy of the feudal lords.
hails the first open announcement of freedom and human right. A few years later, by crafty and cruel policy, the Emperor has nearly crushed the rising spirit of independence; then, caught in the toils of a policy craftier than his own, the conqueror turns fugitive, and must respect a rival he cannot overcome. Half a century of treacherous compromise, of wavering and unstable equilibrium, and then the smothered hostilities break out in the Thirty Years' War, that period of all the most utterly tragic, when Central Europe seemed hopelessly given over to barbarism and desolation; when Wallenstein conceived the diabolical ambition of concentrating all soldiers of fortune into one vast horde of organized freebooters, holding all peaceful populations at their mercy; when the horrors of the Palatinate and Magdeburg were avenged by the heroism of Lützen; and the free powers of the North were drawn into the encounter, and Richelieu played on that bloody field his deep game of policy against the Empire, till wearied Europe took refuge in the general peace, and religious persecution as a principle of state government was solemnly abandoned.
The Swiss Republic, free in its mountain ramparts, rich in its green valleys and prosperous, busy towns, had early spoken brave words against the corruptions of the Church, and vouched them by brave deeds. The clear-headed and true-hearted Zwingli, whose independent movement of reform follows a track nearly parallel with Luther's, fell on the field of battle, and Geneva, the refuge of John Calvin, became the home of the faith that bears his name, so stern in persecution, so patient and intrepid under suffering, perhaps the most heroic in its history of all forms that Christianity has taken among men. Under its inspiration was played out that highest and bloodiest tragedy of human history, the war of deliverance in the Netherlands against the infernal tyranny of Spain; its intense conviction nerved the miraculous courage of that martyrpeople to its desperate struggle of fifty years; its austere piety lay at the root of the noble, devoted, patient daring of William the Silent, and braced the vigor of the Republic which stood invincible under his valiant son. At the risk of their lives, enthusiasts from Geneva pierced the mountain passes of Spain,
and kept up the perilous correspondence of heretics both sides the border; till, all on a sudden, the priesthood found it was a doubtful struggle for its very existence. Then came that terrible system of religious tyranny, which made the sister a spy upon her brother, and the bride upon her betrothed, and the father upon his child, which offered the debtor base wages to betray his creditor, and delivered up the noblest of the land to the blackness of the pitiless dungeon and the holiday torture of the blazing pile,- till, in this life-and-death conflict, the glory and the liberties of Spain seemed sunk forever.
In England the temper of an untamed people backed the imperious will of Henry, and the resolute, wise policy of his great minister, Cromwell, to revolt against the hated supremacy of Rome. Here it was no new quarrel. The power of the Pope had been strictly bounded, long before, by king and baron; while Wickliffe spoke to the better heart and conscience of the nation, and his truth continued long after his ashes had floated out to their "vast and wandering grave." The long tragedy of errors, the wide labyrinth of conspiracy, the war of buccaneers at sea, of plots and counter-plots on land, that marked the grand conflict of England with the Catholic powers, issues in the triumphant overthrow of the Armada, and an island-empire, the invincible bulwark of Protestantism. The gray walls of dungeons, the fires of Oxford and Smithfield, the block and axe and hangman's knife, the terror of Star-Chamber and royal edict and bitter exile, all have been met steadily, unflinchingly, victoriously. The proud hierarchy of England, the richest and most powerful in Christendom, is now confronted on its own soil by the sturdy spirit of the Puritans, and religion nerves the republican struggle in church and state. English Puritanism lays the corner-stone of the empire republic across the sea. English republicanism at home foils the royal treachery in Parliament and royal forces in the field, and now, in 1648, holds in its grasp the vanquished sovereign, ere many months to be martyr of the faith of despotism. While in Scotland the Reformed doctrine, which had taken its sternest shape in the attack of John Knox against the guilty and unhappy Mary, culminates in the humble heroism, the sombre fanaticism, the obstinate endurance, the implacable, fierce, resolute enthusiasm, of the Covenanters.
In France we have the story of a long and bitter conflict, and a doubtful victory of despotism at the end. First, the gradual joyous spread of a tenderer, deeper, freer faith, through hymns and popular chants; then a long, silent, peaceable endurance, for forty years, of the tyranny that strove to exterminate it; then the sudden blazing out and long rancor of religious wars, with party rage and treachery, battle and conspiracy, the outlawing of whole populations, and the wholesale series of assassinations which we call the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Peace is won at length, as a refuge from exhaustion and fear, an armed and treacherous peace, to be followed yet again by the cruelties of licensed and victorious despotism; till the religious liberties of France seem crushed, persecution is regularly bought and paid for by the clergy with grants of money to the king's hungry exchequer, free thought can only show itself as free-thinking, mock pietism breeds a scepticism licentious and undevout, and the fatal path is entered which leads at last to the public denial of Christ, the worship of Reason, the enthroning of the Mob, and the Reign of Terror.
And again, this great revolution of thought has its humbler, tenderer side. It is among the numerous populations of the industrious poor, in Lower Germany and along the Lower Rhine, that the new faith finds its warmest disciples. These humble, poor, toiling men, these patient, suffering women, asked for nothing more than the joy to feel the love of God dwelling in them, as the lightening and solace of their daily toil, a privilege they sought through such bitter hostility and persecution oftentimes, that mothers there were who were burnt to death for teaching their child the Lord's Prayer in its mother-tongue, and pious women who did not cease to sing their hymn of patient trust, as they lay in the pit that was to be their living grave. It was in the Christian hymns that rose amidst the hum of daily toil, that kept time to the darting of the shuttle and the pulses of the loom, that cheered the poor lace-weaver's busy task, that swelled from the broad plain where congregations gathered in the open air to their Sunday worship, or floated in the manly tones of the wayfaring laborer, as he went from city to city, perhaps at hazard of
his life, bearing with him those precious versions of the Psalms set to music which the press at Geneva scattered through all Christendom, - it was in these Christian hymns and sacred melodies that the vital religion of the time became blended with all affections and tasks of home, and sanctified the daily lives of thousands. It was through that sacred channel of humble suffering and toil and tears that the forms of modern piety were wrought out, and the tone was given to the truest faith of the modern world.
In this bird's-eye view of the event we call the Reformation, both its political effects and its moral characteristics,we see how vast, vital, radical, was the change it brought upon Western Europe. No nation or government - hardly a hamlet or lonely cottage that was not touched by its all-penetrating presence. France and Spain, that seem, if not quite to have kept it from their borders, at least to have met and subdued it there, were cut as deep to the heart as any by its two-edged sword. Italy alone, the centre and seat of Catholic dominion, seems impregnable to the reform heralded so eloquently by Savonarola thirty years before. Blind to the new visions of truth, deaf to the new words of faith, it kept on its career of Art that from Christian had turned completely Pagan, and of elegant literature from which the masculine strength was already gone. Meanwhile, its spiritual lords profited warily by the lessons they had learned already, and by those the great revolt in the North was teaching. A new champion was found to defend the ancient faith, Loyola against Luther; and a new empire of souls was founded on the fervid fanaticism, the subtle policy, the consummate culture, and the disciplined skill of the great Order that now marshalled itself under the name of Jesus. Crippled in its polity abroad, and beset with a war of creeds, the Roman Church gathers a new Council at Trent, on its menaced frontier, to utter its final word on controverted forms of faith, and opposes to rival creeds its own more authoritative and imposing system. The era of Sixtus V. shows with what skill and success the Papacy has done its work at home. But Italy was also the field of battle fiercely fought, the prize of victory in the great wars of ambition, a sufferer where she had not force to be a party.