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hence he was substantially a critic. He could gather material, but he could not use it so as to erect a structure which should withstand the storms of the centuries, as fresh and as beautiful on the last day as on the first. But in his day and generation he was a valiant worker. He seems to us ever with the battle-axe of revolution in his hands, his face illumined by the red glare flashed back upon it from the fires through which he strode down to us.
In the Heidelberg Jahrbücher we find some words of Schlosser which illustrate the religious depth of the man better than any of ours could do. It will be wholesome to read them. "The writer is so near," he says, "the limit of human life appointed in Holy Writ, that he may be permitted to appeal to his own experience when he esteems himself fortunate in having been brought up and instructed in the Bible, and not theologically. He, and all with him who honor the spirit and not the letter of Scripture, await on the brink of the grave, without fear or trembling, the finer day whose red morning beams already, in the evening of this earthly life, illumine their souls. They fear no judgment from the curse of priests, and expect none to be averted by their blessings. Their hope is the infinitely compassionate love of Him who has so wonderfully guided them in life, and who will not desert them in death. They fear no judgment, for they pass judgment upon themselves daily. They await with joy the approaching day when this mortal coil shall fall away, and their immortal spirit, light born of heavenly light, purified from the dross of earth, shall contemplate in God that truth for the sake of which they have in life, here below, fought the hard fight."*
* Since the above article was written, we observe that Gervinus has published, at Leipzig, a necrologue of Schlosser, which he who seeks a profounder estimate of the writer and a nearer acquaintance with the man will do well to consult.
ART. VI. — THE REFORMATION AND ITS RESULTS.
A Text-Book of Church History, By DR. JOHN C. L. GIESELER. Translated and edited by HENRY B. SMITH. Vol. IV. A. D. 1517-1648. The Reformation and its Results, to the Peace of Westphalia. New York: Harper and Brothers.
WE have already given our brief word of welcome to this volume, whose admirable qualities are too well known to all students of church history to need further exposition here. But the title, no less than the substance of the book, suggests a train of thought besides, which may possibly be a help to those who are drawn to the study of a work so necessarily scholastic and dry, or to the vast body of literature which is its appropriate illustration.
There is no period of history more precisely outlined and defined than that bounded by these two dates. Up to the protest of Martin Luther, the Catholic hierarchy has been a power, if not always unchallenged, at least victorious and unbroken. After the peace of Westphalia, the great struggles of Europe take another form; secular ambition crowds back religious conviction; a century of "dynastic wars" succeeds the tremendous conflict waged about the hostile faiths of Christendom; the passions of the strife are at once baser and more moderate, less heroic and less vindictive and fierce; the field of religious enterprise is limited more and more to missions abroad and piety at home. In the interval between the two, the Reformation is a distinct, well-defined, aggressive, antagonistic force. It is a spirit and a power, compelling all thinking men, all governments, states, and towns, all bodies of armed men, almost, we might say, all trades, all professions, and every man,-to take sides in the contest for or against the Pope. It is like a new chemical agent, of affinities powerful and before unknown, that compels new combinations among all the elements it touches. Like an electro-magnetic current, it develops the antagonistic forces of the two opposite poles, which seek their balance since in vain.
To specify its action more precisely. Within the limits we
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.