THE HISTORY OF THE Reformation of the Church.
Luther, by the advice of Charles Miltitz, writes to the Pope, and presents him with his Book of Christian Liberty.* The Emperor departs from Spain, and passes through England into the Low-Countries. Luther writes a Book which he calls Tessaradecas, and another about the Manner of Confession; a third about Vows. His Opinion con∣cerning the Communion in Both Kinds. To this his Adversaries object a Decree of the Council of Lateran, under Julius II, of whose Actions you have a large Account. In the mean time the Divines of Lovain and Cologn condemn Luther's Books. In his Defence, the Opinions of Picus Mirandula, the Questions of Ockam, and the Con∣troversie of Reuchlin, with the same Divines, are recited. Seeing himself attack'd by so many Enemies, he writes to the Emperor, soon after to the Archbishop of Mentz, and Bishop of Mersburg. The Elector Frederick finding that he had lost his Credit at Rome upon Luther's account, endeavours to clear himself by Letter. Luther likewise does the same. The Pope Excommunicates him, and he appeals again from the Decree of the Council of Mantua, and puts out his Book of the Babylonish Captivity. The Emperor is Crown'd at Aix la Chapelle. The Pope again sollicites Frederick, but not prevailing, causes Luther's Books to be burnt. Which when Luther understood, he burnt the Popes Bull, and the Canon Law, and gives his Reasons for it. He Answers Ambrose Catarino, who had written against him.
IN the former Book an Account has been given of what relates to Charles Miltitz,* and his Negotiation at the Court of the Elector Frederick. He per∣ceiving that the longer the Controversie lasted, the less inclinable each Party would be to hearken to any terms of Accomodation, endeavour'd by all ways and means possible to put a speedy period to it; and having, with the Elector's leave, had several private Conferences with Luther, he conceived some hopes that things were not yet come to that extremity, but that such a temper might be found as should restore the Peace and Unity of the Church: But because since the Dispute at Leipsick, in which Eckius had opposed him in so scurrilous a manner, Luther had published a more full Explanation of his Tenets, Miltitz convened some of the Chief of the Augustine Friers; where after a long Debate they all agreed, that it was expedient for the composing the present difference, that Luther should send a submissive Letter to the Pope. At their request therefore he wrote on the Sixth of April to this effect.
That although he had appealed from him to a General Council,* yet nevertheless he still continued his most earnest Prayers to God for him. That he was charged as guilty of casting malicious Scandals, not only upon him, but even on the Papacy it self: That he was not a little troubled at the Accusation, which had enforced him now to vindicate himself by Letter: In the Refutation and Reproof of some Errors and Corruptions, he confessed his style had been such as the grossness of the things themselves extorted; but he protested he had never mentioned his Name without an Encomium, as all his Books can fully testifie. If he had taken the freedom to examin and impugn any false Doctrin; in that he had done no more than what he Page 24 had the Example of Christ himself, and of all the Prophets and Apostles for his warrant: But that such seasonable Discourses and wholsom Admonitions met with no kinder reception in the World, was to be imputed to the false Insinuations of base and servile Flattery: That for his part, he had an eye only to the Glory of God; and his chief design in all that he did, was this, That the Truth of the Gospel might again shine forth in Christendom: Let him but obtain this, and in other matters he'll be very ready to yield; but to depart from the Profession of the Truth, in that he desires to be excused that he cannot comply with them. In the next place he comes to speak of the Court of Rome,* which he says was grown more corrupt and wicked than either Babylon or Sodom; and that it had in all things arrived to that heighth of impiety, that nothing was now wanting to compleat the character of the Kingdom of Antichrist. It grieved him therefore to think it should be the hard fortune of so good a Man, to live there as a Lamb among Wolves; for that Rome was unworthy to have a Person of his Integrity preside in it: He acknowledges he had written several Treatises to retrieve in some measure, if he could, the ancient Doctrin and Disciplin of the Church; not that he thought it possible to work a Reformation in Rome it self, but that he might at least deliver some few from the slavery of those vices which are there practised. Then he tells him, that it were much better for him if he could be content with some small mean Preferment, or live upon his own private Estate, out of the reach of Flat∣terers, who make use of his Name and Authority for a Cloak to their own Lusts and Ambitions.* That Bernard had deplored the condition of Pope Eugenius at that time when Rome retained as yet somewhat of its primitive Purity: Much more then did he deserve pity, who sits in the Chair now when it is become the sink and receptacle of all the filth and abominations in the World. That this was the rea∣son why he had been so severe in his Reflections upon it, which he had not done with an intent to fix any reproach upon him, but rather for his advantage, and that it was to be wished that all good and learned Men would assist him with their utmost strength and skill in his endeavours to subdue that Monster. That he, when he had publish'd some few small Tracts, and saw 'twas all labour in vain, would very willingly have retired from so fruitless an Enterprize, and for the future have applied himself wholly to such Studies from which some benefit might accrue to those of that Col∣lege whereof he is a Member: But that then there started up one John Eckius, who disturbed all those calm pleasing Speculations, and would not suffer him to enjoy his so much desired Retirement. That he had managed a Dispute against him, concerning the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome, with opprobrious Language, and very bitter Invectives; but that all the advantage he got by it, was, that he rendred the lewdeness and infamy of that City more notorious. After this he gives a short Relation of what Passed between Cardinal Cajetane and him,* and says, That it was in the Cardinals power then, if he would, to have made up the Breach; and that therefore he only ought to be accountable for all the mischief that has ensued since that time. That after him came Charles Miltitz, who although he had laboured hard for a Peace, yet could effect nothing, being still hindred by the unseasonable Wranglings of Eckius, who, whatever he pretended, was in truth his Enemy, and he who had been the cause of all this Disturbance. That he (speaking of himself) as soon as ever he was required by Miltitz and the Heads of his Order, to write to him in such terms as might sufficiently express his humi∣lity and dutifulness, immediately Obeying, shewed how unwilling he was to omit any thing which might contribute to a Reconciliation. In order to which, he desires him first,* to lay his Commands upon his Adversaries, that they cease to rail against him; in the next place, that he may not be compell'd to make a Recanta∣tion of his former Writings, nor obliged to Interpret Scripture according to any self-determin'd Rule; for that the Doctrin of the Gospel, which by giving true liberty, ennobles the Minds of Men, cannot it self sure be tied up to the narrow bounds of any certain fixed Prescript or Decision. Upon these Conditions, he is willing to do whatsoever they can in reason demand of him. That for his part, he took no delight in Strife and Contention; but yet if they still went on to treat him with nothing but Scoffs and Injuries, they should find, perhaps to their cost, that he would not so tamely give up his Cause. He shews him that he now had an oppor∣tunity of ending the difference, if he would but take the Cognizance of the Matter wholly upon himself, and in the mean time enjoyn each Party silence: But he warns him to be sure to beware of Flatterers,* and to stop his Ears against all their fawning Speeches, as he would against the treacherous Songs of Sirens, if he were Page 25 sailing in the midst of dangerous Rocks, who attribute to him no less than a sort of Divinity, and cry him up for the Monarch of the Universe, and make him Superior to all Councils. He assures him that nothing can be more pernicious to any one, than to hearken to this sort of Parasites. That therefore he should rather give credit to such Persons who put him in mind that he is Mortal as well as other Men, and who exhort him to the faithful discharge of his Duty. That because he was placed in such a state of Life, in which, as in the middle of a tempestuous Sea, he was continually exposed to very great dangers, that therefore he had written to him thus freely, and without any the least admixture of Flattery; and in this he thought himself to have performed the part of a true Friend.* In the last place he presents him with his Book, which he had lately composed, concerning Christian Liberty, giving it only this short Recommendation, That it was a full and compleat Summary of true Doctrin.
In the beginning of Spring,* the Emperor sets sail from Spain; and arriving in England, was very magnificently entertained by King Henry, who married his Aunt Catherine. After which he passed into the Low-Countries, where he was received with the general Shouts and Acclamations of all the People. Much about this time the Elector Frederick fell very dangerously sick; upon which Luther, by the advice of some Friends, compiled a little Book to afford him some comfort at this season, to which he gave the Title of Tessaradecas;* and in his Letters to him, he tells him, it was the Command of Christ, that among other mutual charitable Offices which we are to perform one to another, the administring to the Sick ought never to be forgotten: That for this cause he, who was in a peculiar manner upon several accounts obliged to his Highness, had for his sake made this short Collection, not being in a capacity of evidencing to the World and Him any other way how much he is devoted to his Service. He tells him that the Constitution of Human Bodies was such, that if any the least Distemper invaded the Head, all the other Members sympathised with it, and each particular part felt the pain as sensibly, as if it self were immediately afflicted therewith. So now this Indisposition of his could not but affect all his Subjects with a very deep sorrow; for that a considerable part of Germany look'd upon him as their greatest Ornament, as well as strongest Bulwark.
After this,* he publish'd a Book treating of Confession; the chief Heads of which are these; That Men ought not to rely on Confession, as of it self Meritorious of Pardon, but upon the gracious Promise of God to forgive Sins: That in the first place they should make their Confession to God; and that he that Confesses, ought at the same time to have a perfect hatred and abhorrence of his Sin, and to desire sincerely to amend his Life: That a particular enumeration of every Sin was not necessary; nay, that by reason of the innumerable slips of a Man's Life, and the general depravity and almost lethargick security of most Mens Consciences, it was even impossible to be performed: That a great difference ought to be made between Sins committed against the Command of God, and such as are only breaches of some Human Ordinance. In the last place he adds a word or two about Vows, and bewails that barbarous cruelty which under colour of them is exercised by cove∣tous and illiterate Persons upon the Souls of Men:* But of this he speaks more at large in a separate Tract afterwards published by it self.
In another Piece of his,* he had said, That it appeared to him as a thing which would be of great advantage to the Church, if the Authority of a Council first inter∣posing, all Persons were admitted to participate of the Lord's Supper in Both Kinds. This Saying of his, because it was contrary to a Decree of the late Lateran Council, many resented highly, and among these was John Bishop of Meissen, who commanded all the Clergy of his Diocese to suppress the Book, and teach all under their Charge, that the whole compleat Sacrament was exhibited under each distinct Species. Luther being inform'd of this, presently replies, and lays all the blame of this Injunction not upon the Bishop, but upon some few unlearned and turbulent Fellows, and to them he turns his Discourse, and shews that this which he was thus desirous of having established by a Council, did not deserve so severe a Cen∣sure, no more than if he had said, he could wish a Council would decree it lawful for Priests to have Wives: That this very thing Pope Pius II. publickly declared himself for; and that herefore he was not to be blamed who concurred with him in the same Opinion: He granted there was such a Canon of the Lateran Council as they spoke of, but he thought it absurd to go about to Confirm any Doctrin by an Ordinance of a later Council, which was repugnant to all the more ancient Coun∣cils, Page 26 as well as the constant usage in all the first Ages of the Church: He minds them that among the Bohemians the Laity were admitted to partake of the Cup, and that for this reason we brand them with the name of Hereticks,* who deny it to all those who hold Communion with us. That they in their defence, urged Christ's own Institution, and the Practice of the Apostles, and of all Christians down almost to these times; and all that we have to say in our own Justification, or to convince them of their being in an Errour, is only this Lateran De∣cree, which is but a trifling Argument, and such as carries no great weight in it; for that every Body was sensible now what a sort of Council that was,* since the Papists themselves, whose Interest it was to uphold it, were not grown so expert in the Art of Dissimulation, as at all times to counterfeit an esteem for it. But supposing this Council to have been Oecumenical, yet it was not for the Credit of a Church which pretends so much to Antiquity, to be beholding to an Authority of so late a date, for the Ratification of any of its Doctrins.
But to lay open the whole Intrigue of this Lateran Council; thus it was; Julius II. at his coming to the Po•pedom, obliged himself by an Oath to call a Council within two years: This was in the Year of our Lord 1503. But the Affairs of Italy being very much emb•oiled, the Pope engaging himself in a continual War either with the Venetians, or King of France, or Duke of Ferrara, or else with the Family of the Bentivolio's, Prinas of Bononia, nine Cardinals withdrew themselves, and when they were come to Milan,* they summoned a Council to meet at Pisa: The Chief of these Cardinals were Bernardine de la Croix, William Bishop of Praeneste, and Francis Bishop of Bazas; and to these joyned themselves the Embassadors of Maximilian the Emperor, and of Lewis XII, King of France, who were also em∣barqued in the same Design.* The time when this Council was called, was the Nineteenth of May, in the Year of our Lord 1511, that so the first Session might begin on the First of September next ensuing.* The Cause they alledg'd to justifie this their Proceeding, was, That the Pope had broken his Oath; for that although so many years of his Pontificate were already elapsed, yet he had not given them any the least hopes of his having any Inclination to call a Council; and that because they had very great and heinous Crimes to lay to his charge, they could not any longer neglect the care of the Church, which was a Duty imcumbent on them as Members of the sacred College. Their intent really was to depose him from the Popedom, which he had obtained by Bribery, and other such honest arts and means as all Persons make use of who aspire to the Infallible Chair: And because they could no way safely convey this their Remonstrance to him, they caused it to be publickly affixed at Regio, Modena and Parma, which were all three Towns belonging to St. Peter's Patrimony; and they added a Citation to him, to appear Personally at a certain day therein mentioned.*Julius having received Information of all this, returned this Answer on the Eighteenth of July, That before he came to be Pope, he longed for nothing more than the calling a general Council, as was very well known to several Kings, and to the whole College of Cardinals; and that purely upon this account he lost the Favour of Alexander VI. That he continued still of the same mind, but that the state of Italy had been so unsetled for several years last past, and was left so by his Predecessor Alexander: That it was altogether im∣possible to have formed a Council, while things continued in that distracted condi∣tion. After this, he shews them that their Summons was void in it self, by reason of the shortness of the time limited in it, and the inconveniency of the place; for that Pisa had suffered so much in the late Wars, that it was now nothing almost but an heap of Ruins, and that the Country round about it was all wasted and desolate; nor could there be any safe passage thither, because of the daily Hostilities committed between the Florentines and those of Senese. To this he adds in the last place, That they had no legal Power of issuing out any such Summons; and that the Reasons given by them for so doing,* were altogether false and ground∣less: Therefore under pain of the severest Censures, he forbids all Persons to yield any Obedience to them. At the same time, he by a Bull, subscribed by One and twenty Cardinals, called a Council to meet the next year, which should commence on the Nineteenth of April, and be held in the Lateran Church in Rome. For this, they say, has always been one of the Papal Artifices, that whensoever upon any Pretext they took occasion for some secret motives, to decline the holding of a Council,* though called by never so lawful an Authority; at the same time to Summon another to meet in such a place, in which they could with the greatest Page 27 ease influence all the Proceedings in it. After this, he admonishes the Confederate Cardinals to desist in time, and return to Rome, and accept of the Pardon now offer'd them: But they continuing still refractory, on the Twenty fourth of October he Excommunicates them all,* and those three that we mentioned before, in particular by name, as Hereticks, Schismaticks, and Traytors to the Apostolick See, and sends Copies of this Bull to Maximilian the Emperor, and several other Princes. And because there were divers Bishops of France who adhered firmly to the Cardinals interests, he Excommunicates them also, unless they return to their Duty, and make their Purgation within a prefixed time. On the other side, the Cardinals having several times in vain cited the Pope to come and appear before them there in Council,* by a Decree made in the Eighth Session, suspended him from all Civil and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, and commanded all Christians for the future to renounce his Authority, and acknowledge him no longer for St. Peter's Successor.* This was in the Year of our Lord 1512, on the Twenty first of April. But you must take notice, that although the Council were removed from Pisa to Milan, yet it still kept its old Name, and was called the Pisane Council. At this time there was a very famous Civilian at Pavia,* whose Name was Philip Decius; he having espoused the Cardinals Cause, published a Book in Defence of their Pro∣ceedings against the Pope. A little after this, Maximilian strikes up a League with Julius,* and Ferdinand King of Spain, and so leaves the Cardinals in the Church to shift for themselves, and sends Matthew Langus, Bishop of Gurk, to Rome, to sit as his Proxy in the Council that was holden there; and him Julius immediately promoted to the Dignity of the Purple.* But Lewis II, King of France, who was truer to his Engagements, and had lately routed the Popes Forces near Ravenna, could not escape the thunders of the Vatican; his Subjects were absolved from their Allegiance, his Kingdom put under an Interdict, and an Invasion of it was now no less than meritorious. But after the end of the Fifth Session, on the Twenty first of February,* in the Year of our Lord 1513, Pope Julius dies, and Leo X is chosen by the Conclave to succeed him. He, immediately after his Inaguration, proceeds to compleat what his Predecessor had begun; and because the state of Affairs in Europe was now a little more calm, than at any time during the former Pontificate, a great many Kings and Princes sent their Embassadors to Rome, to assist at this Lateran Council: The Cardinals also whom Julius had Ex∣communicated, having since his Death nothing to give any colour to their con∣tinuing in their Obstinacy, made their humble Submission and Suit to be indem∣nified for what was past; and being received into Favour by Leo, were restored to their former Dignities and Preferments, as Leo himself declares in an Epistle wrote by him to Maximilian.* The Council broke up on the Twelfth of March, in the Year of our Lord 1516, there having been seven Sessions since the Death of Ju∣lius; for there were but twelve in all the whole four years that this Council lasted, from its first Convention, to its Dissolution. The chief Transactions in it were these: The Praises of Julius and Leo were the Subjects of those luscious Panegyricks with which the Auditory were almost daily entertained. There were some Mo∣tions made in order to the engaging in a War against the Turks; and concerning the Reformation of the Church:* And also there was a Debate about the Immor∣tality of the Soul, which began to admit of a Dispute now in Rome; and it was consulted by what means the Bohemians might be made to renounce those Errours which were lately crept in among them. And this, I suppose, is what Luther means, when he says there was a Decree made in this Council relating to the Eucharist: For most of the Bohemians contended, that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, all the Communicants ought to partake of Both the Symbols, of the Wine as well as the Bread. And besides what we have mentioned, there is no Decree extant of this Council touching that matter: But it received its final Determination at Constance, in the Thirteenth Session of that Council; of which there will be occasion to speak more hereafter.
While those things were in Agitation in Saxony, which were hinted upon in the beginning of this Book, several of Luther's Writings, viz. that which he dedicated to Sylvester Prierias, and his Discourses concerning Repentance, Excommunication, Indulgences,* and Preparation to Death, were all by a Synodical Decree of the Divines of Lovain and Cologn condemn'd, as tending to the encouragement of Impiety and Irreligion; and which therefore ought to be burnt, and their Author made publickly to recant. When this came to Luther's Ear, he immediately replies,* and defends all those principal Points of his Doctrin which had fallen under their Page 28 Censure, and in the Introduction laments the Misery of that state and Condi∣tion to which those his Adversaries were now reduced. That although some Years ago they had very fiercely opposed Capnion, yet he was still willing to put the fa∣vourablest Interpretation he could, upon all their Actions; but now, since they went about to expugn the plain manifest Doctrin of the Gospel, and were grown even past reclaiming, he could not but think, That they had justly incurred God's highest Displeasure; that if they went on as they had begun, and no one had the Courage or Honesty, in the least to controul them, he expected that by degrees they would suppress all the whole Sacred Volumes, and impose on the World in their stead whatsoever they should please to call Expositions of them; That whilst he seriously considered all these things with himself, they appeared to him to be evident Demonstrations, either that the Reign of Antichrist was already begun, or that the Prophecyes concerning it were very near their Ac∣complishment; that he could not without Regret behold their Behaviour at this time, for it was a clear and certain Token of their lying under the heavy Weight of the Divine Anger; that through the whole Course of their Proceedings, there was nothing had any firm sound Foundation, but they were still wavering in their own Minds, and were at one time the Maintainers of that Opinion, which at another could not escape the Lash of their unbridled licentious Tongues: He rubs up their Memory,* That it is not long since William Ockam was condemned by the whole University of Paris, and his Works were rejected by all, as containing things contrary to the true Catholick Doctrin, whenas now he was become the very Dar∣ling of the Schools; and his Name as much cryed up, as it was before loaded with Infamy: But how low the Credit of that University runs, may be gathered by this, That its Judgment, is had in very little esteem in France it self, and is of no Authority at all in any other Country; for 'tis grown almost into a Proverb among the English, That the Paris Decrees never cross the Seas; among the Italians, That they never climb over the Alpes; and among the Germans, That they never pass the Rhine: In the Censures past upon Picus Mirandula, his Enemies could not hide that rancour and Malice, which had in so great a Measure byass'd their Judg∣ments, for his Books were now hightly prized by all Persons, and no one could read any thing of his, without being insensibly drawn into a very great Admirati∣on of the most incomparable Parts of the Author: Nor had Laurentius Valla him∣self met with the least better Treatment, although Learned and Judicious Men had always an esteem for him, and thought themselves very profitably employ∣ed, as long as they were conversant in his Writings.
He tells them, That in that Controversie with Capnion, they had managed their Business in such a manner, that they never at any time more openly betrayed their gross Ignorance, as well as obstinate Wickedness; That the Counsels of God are very wonderful;* That the Jews were of Old his own peculiar People, but when they wilfully shut their Eyes against the Light of the Gospel, and despised all the Benefits of Christ, they were then deservedly reprobated, and the Gentiles im∣braced that Grace and Favour, of which the first Tenders were made to them; That much after the same manner it was now, That the Popes and others, who were, and loved to be called the Dignitaries of the Church, and who assumed to themselves the Supreme Power, and all Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, had, in truth, nothing but an empty Name, whilst there were others who affected none of all that pompous Pageantry, who yet had a better Right to all the Honours and Titles, which these had so unjustly usurped: In short, That it never was other∣wise, but that all Good and learned Men had at all times been thus persecuted by them, and yet they never could produce one Example of their having made Good their own Ground or foiled their Adversaries by any solid substantial Argument, but rather by mere Tricks and Shifts, or else by the dint of Fire and Faggot; that thus it was in the Case of John Hus and Jerome of Prague, which was such a Piece of Barbarity, as their Memories would stink to all succeeding Generations; but he could not but be struck with a very great amazment to see their precipitated Folly, who notwithstanding all these Warnings, would still proceed in those un∣warrantable Methods, which must of Necessity leave a Blot, not only upon their own, but upon all the other Universities in Christendom; for granting all their former Processes were according to the known established Rules, and the Sentences pronounced by them, upon several famous Men, were well grounded, and in due Form of Law, yet as to what relates to his Cause, and the present Contro∣versie, they had done very Injuriously and Spitefully, to deal with him in such an Page 29 unexampled manner: if he had offended in any thing, they should not immedi∣ately construe it in the worst Sense, but think with themselves, That all Men are subject to Infirmities; That in the giving their Judgment upon his Tenets, they ought to have shewed a Christian-like Disposition, Lenity, Mildness and Gentle∣ness; but thus, without any previous Examination to condemn all at one Dash, discovered at once the Distemper of their Minds, and the Virulency of their Ma∣lice;* that Aristotle was of great Repute amongst them, and that there was nothing which he had said, though never so absurd, or even repugnant to Christianity it self, which they would not defend, or at least excuse and palliate by some far fetch'd Gloss or Comment, so as the Credit of the Author might not suffer any Diminution; but towards him their Carriage had been very different, for they had not only put a candid Interpretation upon those Parts of his Writings, which might be wrested to his Disadvantage, but had endeavoured to pick a Hole, even in those very things in which he had been so cautious in his Expression, as not to dread the Censure of the most Captious and Prejudiced Reader; That the better and more effectual way had been, to have admonished him either to explain or correct what he had wrote, or else not to be obstinate in the maintaining of it; That if, notwithstanding all this, he had continued disobedient, they might then, after having first shewed him his Error, have acted according to Christ's Precept: But besides all this, the Pope could not but think his Honour touch'd in this that they had done, in daring to pass such a Sentence on a Book which was wrote and De∣dicated to him, which was no other than rashly to upbraid him both with Sloth and Negligence; but no Wonder that they made so bold with his Holiness, since the Majesty of God himself was daily affronted by the Contempts which they put upon his Laws.
This William Ockam, of whom Luther speaks, lived in the Time of the Emper∣our Lewis IV, about the Year of our Lord 1320, and among other things, wrote a Book concerning the Pope's Supremacy, in which these eight Questions were handled very curiously. Whether the same Person, can at one and the same time, be both Pope and Emperour? Whether the Emperour receive his Power and Authority from God alone, and not also from the Bishop of Rome? Whether Christ delegated any such Supreme Jurisdiction, over the whole World, to the Pope and Church of Rome, which they might at their Pleasure parcel out to the Emperour and other Kings and Princes? Whether the Emperour being once Cho∣sen, has not thereby the Government put absolutely into his Hands? Whether other Princes, besides the Emperour and King of the Romans, because the Cere∣mony of their Coronation is performed by Priests, upon that account, derive any Authority from them? Whether such Princes owe any sort of Subjection to those by whose Hands they received their Anointing and Investiture? Whether, if they should make use of any new Ceremonies, or take upon them to Crown themselves, they thereby forfeit their Regal Power and Dignity? Whether the Suffrages of the seven Princes Electors, do not give as good a Title to the Elected Emperour, as a lawful Succession does to the other Kings, where the Government is Heredita∣ry. In the Examination of these Points, having shewed a great deal of Variety and Subtlety of Argument of both Sides, he for the most part determines in Fa∣vour of the Civil Magistrate: And upon that Occasion he makes mention of Pope John XXII, who lived at that time, and had made certain Ordinances, which they called Extravagentes, and inserted them into the Canon-Law, All which, he says, were generally condemned as Heretical and Spurious: Then he recites what Errors had been observed by other Persons, both in his Books and publick Discourses, and says, That all Orthodox Men did admire, how they came to gain any Credit in the World; but that this was the Time, of which S. Paul, in his Epistle, foretold Timothy, That the time would come, when men should not endure sound doctrin, but after their own lusts should they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and should turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned to Fables: That this was too sadly verified in these Days, in which most Men never enquire what was the Do∣ctrin of Christ, or of the Apostles or Primitive Fathers, but are guided in every thing, only by the Pope's arbitrary Will and Command.
As to what relates to Capnion Reuchline,* the matter stands thus; John Phefercorne, who had forsaken Judaisme and embraced Christianity, had a long time been a Petitioner to the Emperour Maximilian, That all the Jewish Books might be suppres∣sed, as those which trained up Men only in Impiety and Superstition, and very much hindred their Conversion to the Christian Religion; and that therefore they ought Page 30 to be allowed the use of no other Book besides the Bible. Maximilian, at last, sends his Orders to Ʋriel Archbishop of Mentz, That he should make choice of some certain University, to whom, together with the Inquisitor James Hogostrate, and John Reuchline, he might refer the Examination of this Affair, that they might con∣sult what was fit to be done in it, and whether it were agreeable to the generous and open practices of our Religion, to condemn all Books to the Flames, except those whose Authors were divinely inspired; this was in the Year of our Lord 1510. Reuchline,* who was a Civilian, and a great Master of the Hebrew Tongue, having received Letters from Mentz, returned this Answer: That the Jewish Books were of three sorts, Historical, such as treated of Medicks, and their Talmuds, which last were of several different kinds; that although there were a great many things contained in them, which were Ridiculous as well as Superstitious, yet upon one account they were of great use, in that they served to refute their Errors, and fond vain Opinions. This his Sentence he sends sealed to the Archbishop; but when Phefercorne came to hear of this, he presently began to make no small stir about it, and published a Book in opposition to what Reuchline had wrote, re∣proaching him with the most odious Titles of the Champion and Patron of the Jews. Capnion, that his Silence might not be interpreted as a Confession of the Charge, writes an answer to it, which drew upon him the ill-Will of several Universities, but chiefly of that of Cologne: The most Famous Men, there at that time, were James Hogostrate and Arnold van Tongren. And Hogostrate, he put out a Book, in which he was not in the least sparing of his Invectives, following ex∣actly the Copy that Phefercorne had set him, and this he Dedicates to the Emper∣our Maximilian. After this they commenced a Suit against him, and the Tryal was before the Archbishop of Mentz, to whose Jurisdiction the supposed Cri∣minal belonged, and the Prosecutor was James Hogostrate; him Reuchline excepted against, as one whom he thought not indifferent, and this he did at first, not in his own proper Person, but by his Advocate: But being persuaded to it by some Friends, he at last came himself to Mentz, accompanyed with a great many of the First Rank, both for Nobility and Learning, which Ʋlrich Duke of Wir∣temberg had sent along with him: There, when he saw that whatsoever Proposals he made, in order to a Reconciliation, they were still all rejected by his Adver∣saries, he was forced to appeal to the Pope. He commits the hearing of the Cause to George Palatine, Bishop of Spire, and at the same Time issues out an In∣junction, That no Person besides, presume to intermeddle in it. But those of Cologne, taking no notice of this, proceed to Censure Capnion's Book, with a Salvo, as they pretend,* to the Credit of the Author, and in February, 1514, they pub∣lickly burnt it; this the Bishop of Spire took as an Affront put upon him, and be∣cause the Prosecutor,* having been legally Cited, had never appeared at the Day, but made Default, he gave Judgment for Capnion, with an Approbation of his Book, and condemned Hogostrate to pay the Costs of the Suit. He, that he might avoid this Sentence, hastens to Rome. In the mean time, the Divines of his Par∣ty make their Applications to the University of Paris, and by the Help of Erand Marchian Bishop of Liege, who was then in the French Interests, they ca∣joled Lewis XII,* so as to make him inclinable to favour their Cause. Therefore, after a long Consultation, those of Paris also Condemn the Book, as deserving to be Burnt, and whose Author ought to be compelled to make a Recantation; and their Judgment was, That the Jewish Talmuds were justly censured by former Popes, and deservedly burnt by their Predecessors. This was in the same Year, on August 2. To prevent this, the Duke of Wirtemberg had interceeded with them by his Letters; and Reuchline also himself, had written very courteously, as having been formerly a Scholar of that University, and he sent inclosed the Judg∣ment given by the Bishop of Spire, but all to no purpose. Hogostrate being come to Rome, managed his Business with very great Address; but there were some Cardinals, who favoured Reuchline upon the account of his eminent Learning; among these was Adrian, who has a Piece extant concerning the Latin Tongue. Leo at last appoints certain Delegates to inspect the matter, and they seeming to lean towards Capnion's side, Hogostrate, having met with nothing but Disappoint∣ments, after above three Years stay in Rome, sneaked away Home into his own Country. But it is not to be thought what a Scandal the Divines of Cologn brought upon themselves, by this Imprudent Act of theirs; for there was not a Man, who pretended to any thing of Ingenuity or Scholarship, in all Germany, who had not a Fling at them in some smart Lampoon or Satyr, applauding Reuchline, and ridicu∣ling Page 31 them, as Blockheads and Dunces, and sworn Enemies to that Laborious, but useful Study of Languages, and to all other more polite Learning: And Erasmus of Roterdam was not wanting to use his interest with the Cardinals in Capnion's be∣half, concerning which he has several Epistles yet extant, which he then sent to Rome.
The Divines of Louvain,* before they would declare what was their Opinion in Luther's Case, consulted first with the Cardinal Adrian Bishop of Tortona, who had been a Member of their College and Order, and who was at that time in Spain; and being backed with the Authority of his Judgment, they published their Censure. Luther finding himself so hard beset on all Sides, addressed himself in an Epistle to the late elected Emperour, Charles V, and having made his Apology, That a Man of his mean Quality should presume to write to so great a Potentate, he tells him, That the Reasons were very weighty which had emboldned him to do this, and that the Glory of Christ himself was concerned in his Cause: That he had published some few small Books, which had procured him the Dis∣pleasure of a great many Persons, but that the Fault ought not to lye at his Door, for that it was with great Reluctancy that his Adversaries had drawn him to enter the Lists: That a Private Retired Life was much more agreeable to his Inclina∣tions, but that his chief Care and Study was to make known the pure and uncor∣rupt Doctrin of the Gospel, in opposition to the false Glosses, and even contra∣dictory Ordinances of Men: That there were a great number of Persons eminent both for Learning and Piety, who could attest the Truth of what he said: And that this alone was the Cause of all that Odium and Infamy, of those Dangers, Contumelies and Losses, to which almost for three Years he had been continually ex∣posed: That he had omitted nothing which might contribute to an Accommoda∣tion; but that the oftner he made any Proposals, tending that way, the more re∣solved his Adversaries seemed to continue the Breach: That he had frequently and earnestly requested them to convince him of his Errours, and to give him such Rules, by the which he might the better guide himself for the Time to come; but that he could never obtain any other Answer from them, but barbarous Injuries and railing Buffoonery, their Design being to rid the World both of him and the Gospel together: That by these Means, he was driven to have recourse to the last Remedy, and forced, according to the Example of Athanasius, to fly to him, as to the inviolable Sanctuary and Protection of the Law: And to beseech him to take upon him the Patronage of the Christian Religion, and vouchsafe to shelter him from all Violence and Injury, until he should be more fully informed in the Matter: If it should appear that he had been ingaged in the Maintenance of any thing that was Unjustifiable, he then desired no Favour: His humble Petition was only to have a fair Hearing, and that every one would t'ill then suspend his Judgment: That this was a part of his Duty, and that therefore God had intrust∣ed him with this Supreme Power, that he might maintain and distribute impar∣tial Justice, and defend the Cause of the Poor and Weak, against all the Insults of their powerful Oppressors.
After this,* he writes much to the same purpose, to all the States of the Empire, telling them how unwilling he was to have ingaged in this Controversie, and with what bitter Malice he was prosecuted by his Enemies, when his Aim was purely this, by propagating the true Doctrin of the Gospel, to convince Men how In∣consistent it was with those false Opinions, of which they had been so long but too Tenacious: Then he recites, in short, all that had been done by him, in order to a Reconciliation; how he had several times promised, by a voluntary Silence, to let the Cause fall, upon condition his Adversaries would cease their impertinent Babling, desiring nothing more than to be better informed, if he was in the wrong, and being willing to submit freely to the Judgment and Censure of all good Men: But that these Requests of his had not as yet had their desired Effect, his Adversa∣ries continually loading him with all manner of Injuries and Reproaches: That since it was so, he desired them not to give Credit to any disadvantagious Reports, which they might hear of him: If he had at any time been guilty of any Sharpness or Petulancy in his Writings, it was no more than what he had been forced to by their paultry sawcy Pamphlets, which they were almost daily spawning against him: In the last place, he makes now the same Profers, for the composing the Dif∣ference, which he had so often formerly done; and of this he prays them to bear him witness.
Page 32 Some few Days after, he wrote to the Cardinal Albertus, Archbishop of Mentz, in a very submissive Stile: The Substance of his Letter was this; That his being impeached before him,* therefore touched him the more nearly, because he supposed it to be done by those who had formerly commended his Works, and been the most forward Sticklers for them; but whether the Accusation were true or false, take it either way, they had not dealt very handsomely in it; for if it were False, they then put the grossest Abuse upon him, without any respect to his Character, and that sublime Station that he has in the Church: He bids him call to mind how David himself was deceived by the Flattery of Siba, and that there was scarce any Prince who could at all times stand so well upon his Guard, as not to be in danger of being imposed upon by such fawning Courtiers: But supposing he was really guilty of the Crimes laid to his Charge, yet it had been a much fairer way of proceeding, to have shewed him his Error, and to have endeavoured to re∣ctifie his Understanding, wheresoever they perceived him to labour under any Mistakes; that this he had several times beg'd of his Adversaries, who still continued Deaf to all his Requests. He tells him there were two sorts of Men, who general∣ly condemned his Writings; one was those never read them, and the other such as, indeed, vouchsafed them the reading, but their Minds were prepossess'd with an ill Opinion of him, and then, whatsoever he said, though never so con∣formable to the Precepts of Christianity, must of necessity be misinterpreted by them: But if that his more important Affairs could but afford him so much Lei∣sure, as to peruse his Books, he did not in the least doubt, but that he would be of a very different Judgment from his Accusers: He intreats him, therefore, not to believe Calumnies, or to entertain any suspicious Thoughts of him, but to take a full and exact Examination of the whole Matter, since not only his alone, but the eternal welfare of all his Followers, was nearly concerned in it: For because his Desire was to be heard speak for himself, and to be instructed by those who were more learned, if he could not obtain this Favour, the Truth it self would suffer very much by it: Confiding therefore in his Candor and Humanity, and being also born and bred in that Country, which is properly under his Episcopal Care and Go∣vernment, he thought himself in some measure obliged to give him this short Ac∣count of his Case.
The Archbishop answers,* That he was very well pleased with his Promise, Not to be obstinate in the Defence of his Tenets, but to be willing to yield to any who should better inform him: As for his part, though he had a great regard for the concerns of Religion, yet he had not hitherto been able to steal so much Time, as would serve to read over his Treatises: That therefore he could not give any Judgment upon them, but referr'd it wholly to those, whose proper Province it was, and who had already ingaged themselves in that Disquisition: That his hear∣ty Wishes were, That he and all other Divines, would handle Points of Religion reverently, modestly and conscientiously, without uttering any reproachful Words, or harbouring any secret Malice in their Breasts: That he heard with great regret, with what Heat and Passion some Men of Note and Fame disputed about the Su∣premacy of the Pope and Free-Will, and other such trifling insignificant Questions, which are far from being any of the Essentials of Religion: That those things began now to be controverted, which had been so long received, and which were confirmed by the common Consent and Approbation of the whole Church, as well as by the Authority of General Councils; such is that which relates to the Sacra∣ment of the Lord's Supper, and the manner of communicating therein: And be∣cause this is done openly, and the Ears of the common People begin to be tickled with the Novelty, he should not but have very dreadful Apprehensions of what would be the dangerous Consequences of them: That he could not see, how he or any other Person could raise any useful pious Instructions out of these Points: But if Scholars had a mind to debate them friendly and privately among them∣selves, he could not be against it: Nor did he blame him for saying, That what he taught was no other than the true Doctrin of the Gospel, provided there was no∣thing of Bitterness or Spite in the Assertion, and that it was not spoke in con∣tempt of the Authority of the Church: For if this publick Declaration of the Truth flowed purely from the gentle impulse of the Divine Spirit, it then would baffle all Attempts whatsoever, that should be made against it; but if that either Haughtiness of Mind, or a private Grudge against any one, were the Motives in it, it then could have no firm Foundation, but that and its Author would soon fall together: For whosoever abuses the Gifts and Favours of God, on him will he assuredly pour out the full Vials of his Wrath.
Page 33 To the same effect, on the same day, Luther writes to the Bishop of Mersburgh, that as to his Doctrin, his Conscience bore him witness that it was the same that Christ and his Apostles had taught:* But because his Life and manners were not in all things answerable to the Purity of his Profession, he could even wish that he were silenc'd from Preaching, as being unworthy to exercise that Sacred Function: That he was not moved either by the hopes of Gain or Vain-glory; but that the End to which all his Endeavours were directed, was to imprint a-fresh in the minds of Men those eternal Truths, which were now almost utterly defaced, or else obscured by a gross and wilful stupidity; That those who condemn his Writings, were hurried on by the violence of their Passions; and promoted their own ambitious designs, under the specious pretence of upholding the Authority of the Bishop of Rome: That a great many Foreigners, famous both for Parts and Learning, had by their Letters approved of his Works, and thanked him for his obliging the Publick with them: That this confirm'd him in his Opinion, that his Doctrin was Orthodox: He beseeches him therefore to shew some Fatherly tenderness towards him; and if he had hitherto erred, to guide him now into the right way: That he could not as yet get his Cause to be heard, although he had been importunate in requesting it: That he should think it a great happiness to be convinced of any of his Errours, and they should find he had been mis∣represented by those who had possessed the World with a belief of his Obstinacy.
The Bishop returns to this,* That he had been often under a very great concern for him, and that he was heartily sorry for his having publish'd a Book concerning the Lord's Supper, which had given offence to many: That those of his Diocese were much startled at the Doctrin, which could not but trouble him to whose immediate Care they were committed. Then he reproves the sharpness of his Style, and says, That how diverting soever it might be to Strangers, he must declare his dislike of it; and could wish that in the present Controversie he had shewed less of the Man, and more of the Christian. He checks him for having spoken irreverently of the Bishop of Rome, telling him, such language was cer∣tainly unbecoming the Mouth of a Clergyman, as well as injurious to the Dignity of the Prelate. He therefore advises him to exercise his Parts in somewhat which might be more advantageous to the Publick, and not to keep up a Dispute any longer purely for Wrangling sake. As to what he writes, that he is desirous to be informed where he is in an Errour, and promises to be ready to yield to any better Judgments: As to these Particulars, he says he cannot give a full Answer now by Letter; but he will find a convenient season to tell him his mind more at large by Word of Mouth.
The Elector Frederick had at that time a Sute depending at Rome, in which he had employed as his Agent one Valentine Ditleb, a German; he sends him word, that in this and in all the other parts of his Commission, he made but very slow advances at that Court; which he could attribute to nothing but the rashness and impudence of Luther, who had lately vented his malice in several Libels against the Pope, the Church of Rome, and the sacred Conclave; and that the common report was, That he was the only Person who countenanced and supported that Fellow. Upon the arrival of the Courier with these Letters, Frederick presently dispatches away an Answer to Rome, That it had always been far from his thoughts to give any encouragement to the progress of Luther's Doctrin: That he had not yet alter'd his mind, nor took the pains throughly to sift any one of the controverted Points: That he heard indeed his Tenets had the Approbation of Learned and Judicious Men, but for his part he determined on neither side, but left him to make his own Defence as well as he could: He confess'd he thought he had made two very fair Proposals, which he still stuck to; the first was, That if he might obtain a safe Conduct, he was ready to answer for himself before any Person whom the Pope should appoint: And in the second place, If it should be made out upon tryal that any of his Opinions were Erroneous, he would most chearfully renounce them; and of this he made an open and solemn Protestation. And although by this Luther had acquitted himself like a good Christian in the judgment of all impartial Persons; yet upon his warning, he had long ago left Saxony, if Charles Milititz had not opposed it; for he thought it not convenient to drive him into another Country, whereas he would be under less restraint; so they must expect he would then give his Passion its full swing, and with his Pen revenge himself on all those who had any way promoted his Exile: There could therefore be no reasonable ground to suspect his fidelity to the CatholickPage 32 Interests, which gave him some hopes that his Holiness would deal with him accord∣ing to the Justice of his Cause; for it would make his very Life uneasie to him, if such a Slander should find credit in the World, as that any Errour which sprung up in his time, had taken root and spread it self under the shelter of his Protection. After this, in the same Letter he tells him freely, as his Friend and Countryman, that he heard, the Contest had never been carried on to this extremity, if Eckius, and a great many more such fierce Bigots, had not been even restless till they had blown all into a flame: That they were continually throwing dirt in Luther's face, by those scurrilous Papers which they scatter'd among the People; so that he was forced at last, against his will, to return the Complement: And that this was the unlucky occasion of his discovery of a great many things, which, if he had not been thus provoked, had in all probability died with him. He assures him he had this Account from very good hands, who are fully acquainted with the whole matter; and that Luther himself confessed as much: That those therefore of Eckius's Gang ought to suffer as the only Incendiaries, who while they thought to curry favour with the Pope by some extraordinary piece of Service, had in truth done him an injury beyond the malice of his most professed Enemies. He tells him that Germany was much civiliz'd of late years: That it now produced Men of excellent Parts: That Learning flourish'd there, and the Inventors of useful Arts met with all due encouragements; and there were some who by a long study were become great Proficients in all those Languages which are necessary to compleat an universal Scholar: In short, that we lived in such an Age now, in which even the Common People were curious to search the Scriptures: That this made a great many sober and moderate Men to think, that if the Proposals made by Luther were rejected, and the Church proceeded to any Censures against him, that they would Conjure up such a Spirit, as would be beyond the power of all their Charms to lay again; for that his Doctrins had now gotten such footing, that unless he had a fair and legal Tryal, and his Errors were refuted by solid Arguments and Scripture Proofs, all Germany would be in an Uproar; and then he question'd whether the Pope or any one else would gain much by the bargain.
This Letter of the Electors bore Date the First of April,* and the Pope returned an Answer on the Sixth of July, telling him, he was highly satisfied in his having no Communion with that profligate Fellow Luther: That he always had an Esteem for him answerable to his eminent Vertues: But that since grave and serious Men had informed him how prudently he had carried himself in this particular, he now stood higher in his Favour than ever he did before: That in this he had acted like himself, and had not degenerated from his glorious Ancestors, who had always paid a great devotion to the Apostolick See: It was also an evident demonstration of his singular Wisdom, inasmuch as he was sensible that it was not the meek Spirit of Christ, but the Devil, that arch Enemy of Mankind, which actuated and in∣spired the Author of this Schism; who was proud and ambitious as Luther himself, who endeavoured to infect the World afresh with the condemned Heresies of Wickliff, Husse and the Bohemians, who gaped after popular Applause; and who by depraving the true Sense of the Scriptures, ruined the Souls of his simple and weak Brethren; who exploded all Vows of Chastity, and laugh'd at Auricular Confession, and the Penance imposed thereupon, as meer Tricks of the crafty Priests, who sided with the Disciples of Mahomet, and who with his prophane and poysonous breath thought at once to blast and overturn the whole Disciplin of the Church; who bewails the Punishments inflicted on Hereticks; and in short, who strove to turn all things topsie-turvie; and is arrived at that degree of pride and madness, as to despise the Authority both of Popes and Councils, and has the confidence to prefer before them all, his own single Judgment: That he therefore had shewed himself a true Son of the Church, in that he had nothing to do with that pernicious Rascal, nor embraced any of his erroneous Opinions, but in all things imitated the Vertues of his Fore-fathers: That this made so many grave and understanding Men outvie each other in his Commendations: And that he could not but think himself bound to return his most hearty Thanks to God, who had bestowed on him so many rich endowments of Mind: He says, he had long borne with Luther's Sauciness and Temerity, hoping he would in time grow ashamed of his Folly; but now when he saw him deaf to all his Admonitions, and that he was only hardned by the gentleness which he used towards him, he was forc'd at last, as in a desperate Disease, to have recourse to a desperate Remedy, to prevent, if possible, the farther spreading of the Contagion: That having Page 35 summoned therefor the Conclave, and had the Advice of several learned Men in the matter, after much serious deliberation he had signed the Decree, being guided by that holy Spirit, whose aids can never be wanting to an Infallible Church. In it were recited some of his Tenets, which were picked from among a great many more; part of which were downright Heretical, others directly contrary to the Precepts of the Gospel; and some were destructive of Mo∣rality, and even common Honesty it self, and were such as by degrees would debauch Men into all manner of Wickedness: That he had sent him a Copy of this Bull, to let him see what monstrous Errors that Agent of Hell did maintain: But now his Request to him, was, That he would admonish him not to persist in his Pride and Obstinacy, but publickly and solemnly to recant all his former Writings; which if he refused to do within a prefixed day, then to take care to have him seized and committed to Prison; by this means he would wipe off the Reproach of his own House and of Germany too, and get himself immortal Honour, by putting a timely stop to that flame which would else not have ended but in the ruin of his Country; and it would be a Service also very acceptable even to God himself.
The Bull it self was very long,* and was published on the Fifteenth of June; the substance of it was this: After a Quotation of some Texts of Scripture, which were applied to his present purpose, his Holiness, Pope Leo, having called upon Christ, St. Peter and St. Paul, and the rest of that glorified Society, to avert those dangers which at this time threatned the Church, complains that there was now started up a Doctrin which not only revived all those Opinions which had been formerly condemned as Heretical, but also contained in it several new Errours never before broached in the World, and such as would justle out all sense of God and Religion: That he was troubled that this Heresie should have its rise in Germany, a Country always very Loyal to the Church of Rome, and which to uphold the Dignity of that See, had fought even to the last drop of Blood, and never refused to undertake any the most difficult Enterprizes: That it was yet fresh in memory, with what Heroick Spirits, and with what Zeal they maintained the Catholick Cause against the Bohemians and the Followers of Husse: That some of their Universities had lately given Instances of a Vertue and Courage equal to what inspired the first Planters of Christianity: But because he was Christ's Vicar here on Earth, and the Care of the Universal Church was committed to him, he could no longer neglect the discharge of his Duty. After this, he repeats Luther's Tenets, which he says were repugnant to that Christian Love and Reverence which all Men owe to the Church of Rome: That he had therefore summoned together the whole College of Cardinals,* and several other learned Men, who after a long Debate, all declared, That these Points ought to be rejected, as derogating from the Authority of Councils, Fathers, and even the Church it self: Therefore with their advice and consent he condemns this whole summ of Doctrins, and by virtue of his Supremacy, commands all Persons under the severest Penalties, to yield Obedience to this his Decree, by renouncing those Opinions which are censured in it; and he enjoyns all Magistrates (especially those of Germany) to use their endeavours to hinder the farther progress and growth of this Heresie: He orders also Luther's Books to be every where brought forth and burnt. Then he relates how Lovingly and Fatherly he had dealt with him, in hopes to reclaim his by those gentle methods; how he had admonish'd him by his Legates, and cited him to come and make his Purgation at Rome; not only granting him a safe Conduct, but promising to furnish him with all Necessa∣ries for his Journey; but that he slighting this Summons, had appealed from him to a General Council,* contrary to the Decrees of Pope Pius, and Julius II, by which it is enacted, That whosoever shall make any such Appeal, shall from that time be adjudged an Heretick, and be obnoxious to the same Punishments: That therefore it was in his power to have prosecuted him at first with the utmost rigour of the Law, but that out of meer pity he had forborn so long, if perhaps, as the Prodigal Son, his Calamities might bring him to a sense of his Errours, and he would at last be willing to return into the bosom of the Chu•ch: That he had still the same tender Affections towards him; and that he most passio∣nately intreated him and all his Followers, that they would cease to disturb the Peace of Christendom; and if they yield to this his request, he promises to shew them all the kindness imaginable.* In the mean time he forbids Luther to Preach, and prefixes Threescore days, within which time he should amend, burn his own Page 36 Books, and publickly Recant: If he did not, he condemns him as an Heretick, and orders him to be punish'd according to Law; he Excommunicates him, and commands all Persons to avoid his Company, under the like Penalty, ordering this Decree to be read in all Churches upon certain days.
As to what he says of Pius and Julius, the matter stands thus: In the Year of our Lord 1359, Pius II, on account of the War with the Turks, holds a Council at Mantua, and there, among others, makes a Decree, That no Person should Appeal from the Pope to a Council, because he said there could be no Power on Earth Superior to that of Christ's Vicar. Therefore he condemned all those who presumed to act contrary to this Decree, and declared their Appeals invalid. And not long after he Excommunicated Sigismund Duke of Austria, for taking Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus Prisoner. Sigismund Appeals from him to the Council; and the Pope Excommunicates George Heinburg, a Lawyer that drew up the Appeal, as a Traytor and Heretick, and writes to the Senate of Nuremberg to Banish him, and Confiscate his Estate. This Decree of his Julius II confirmed, that he might defend himself against those Cardinals who had revolted from him, against Kings and Princes, and the Divines of Paris, who often made use of such Appeals. Pope Pius, who was before called Aeneas Silvius, was present at the Council of Basil, and wrote the History of it, wherein he highly commends the Decrees that were made there; but at last being advanced to the Papacy, he changed his Opinion, and declared that the Council ought to be subject to the Pope.
Luther,* when he found himself condemned at Rome, renews his former Appeal from the Pope to General Council: And now since the Pope continues in his Tyranny and Impiety, and proceeds so far as to condemn him, neither called nor heard, nor convict of Heresie, he says he Appeals again from him to a Gene∣ral Council, for these four Reasons: Because he condemns him at pleasure without hearing the Controversie, because he forbids him to hold Faith to be necessary in the Sacraments, because he prefers his own Opinions and Fancies to the Holy Scriptures, and for rendring all Councils useless: Therefore he calls him rash and obstinate, a Tyrant, a proud Despiser of the Church, and Antichrist himself; and says he will prove all this, whensoever it shall please his Superiors; and for that reason desires the Emperour and other Magistrates, that for the Glory of God, and in defence of the Liberties of a General Council, they would admit his Appeal; that they would bridle the Tyranny of the Pope, take no notice of his Bull, nor do any thing in the business, till the Cause be fairly heard and decided. Before he appealed after this manner, which was upon the Eighteenth day of November, he had put out a Book concerning the Babylonish Captivity; and in the Preface he says, that he advances every day more and more in the Know∣ledge of the Scripture; that formerly he had published a small Treatise concern∣ing the Pope's Indulgences; and that then he writ very modestly, having a very great Veneration for the Roman Tyranny: But that now he was of another Opi∣nion; and that being stirred up by the provocation of his Adversaries, he had discovered that the See of Rome was nothing else but the Kingdom of Babylon, and the Power of Nimrod the mighty Hunter: Afterwards he disputes concerning the Sacraments of the Church, and holds there are but Three, Baptism, Penance, and the Lord's Supper. And having discoursed concerning these, he proceeds to consider the others also, Confirmation, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Vnction; but he allows them not the Name or Title of a Sacrament; and says, that they are properly Sacraments, which are Promises with Visible Signs annexed to them; the others, which have no Signs, are bare Promises, and therefore he thinks that Penance ought not to be reckoned in the number of Sacraments, if we would speak properly, because it wants a Visible Sign of Divine Institution. Luther, after he had heard of the Pope's Bull, besides the Appeal we have been speaking of, pub∣lishes a Book, wherein he confirms and maintains all those opinions which Leo had condemned.
In the mean time the Emperour having setled all things in the Low-Countries, appoints the Electors to meet him at Aix la Chapelle, on the Sixth of October, in order to his Coronation: But at that time the Plague raged there very much; therefore the Electors when they were arrived at Cologn, about ten Miles from Aix la Chapelle, and the report of the Plague encreased daily, they writ to the Emperour, being then at Louvain, to desire him to chuse some other place for the Coronation: But the Townsmen, who had laid out a great deal of Money in Page 37 trimming up their Houses, and furnishing themselves with Provisions, did by a proper Messenger assure him, that there was no Danger. The Emperour, there∣fore persisted in his Resolution, and declares, That he cannot well alter the Order of Charles IV, which appoints the Coronation to be there.
Therefore upon the 21 of October,* the Archbishops of Mentz, Cologn and Triers, with the Ambassadours of the Duke of Saxony and Marquess of Brandenburg, arrive there; for the Duke of Saxony himself, by reason of his Ilness, was forced to stay at Cologn. The next Day they go out to meet the Emperour, and when they came near him, they alighted off their Horses, and the Archbishop of Mentz made a Speech to him, which he answered graciously by the Cardinal of Saltzburg: And so joyning their Company together,* they marched towards the Town. Before the Gate, the Count Palatine meets him: The Horse that accompanied the Electors were about a thousand six hundred, some Archers, and some with Lances; those that attended upon the Emperour were about two thousand, all bravely clothed. John Duke of Cleve, being a Neighbour, had brought thither four hundred Horse very well armed, who contended so long with those of Saxony about the Preceden∣cy, that Night came on them before the whole Cavalcade, which was the finest that ever was seen in Germany, could enter the Town. On each side the Emperour rode the Archbishops of Cologn and Mentz, being followed by the Ambassadour of the King of Bohemia, the Cardinals of Sedune, Saltzburg and Croye, and the Ambas∣sadours of other Kings and Princes; the Pope's only, and the King's of England were absent; and that designedly, lest by giving place to the Princes of Germany they might seem to diminish the Honour of their Masters. The Emperour was brought into our Lady's Church, where, after he had made his Prayers, he talked with the Electors apart,* and so went to his Lodging. The next Day they met again at the Church, but there was such a Croud of People, that the Guard had much ado to keep them back: In the middle of the Church there hangs a large Crown, the Floor underneath was covered with rich Carpets, where the Emperour for some time lay prostrate, while the Archbishop of Cologn says certain Prayers over him: After that is done, he Archbishop of Mentz and Triers take him up, and lead him to the High Altar: Here he falls down again, and having said his Pray∣ers, is lead to his Throne, that was richly overlaid with Gold; the Archbishop of Cologn begins Mass, and having proceeded a little way, he demands of him, in Latin,* Whether he will keep the Catholick Faith, defend the Church, administer Justice, and maintain the Dignity of the Empire, protect the Widows and the Fa∣therless, and such other distressed Persons, and whether he will give due Honour to the Bishop of Rome? When he has assented, he is led to the Altar, and there takes his Oath to perform all this, and so returns again to his Throne. Then the Elector of Cologn demands of those that were present, Whether they will yield him due Faith and Allegiance, which being promised, and some other Prayers re∣cited, he anoints him on the Breast, the Head, the Bendings of the Arms, and the Palms of the Hands: And being thus anointed, the Archbishops of Mentz and Triers lead him into the Vestry, and there having clothed him like a Deacon, place him again in his Throne: After other Prayers, the Archbishop of Cologn, accom∣panied by the two other Archbishops, delivers him a Sword drawn, and commends the Commonwealth to his Care; and when he has sheathed this Sword, puts a Ring on his Finger, and vests him with the Imperial Robe, gives him a Scepter and Globe, and the three Archbishops, together, put the Crown on his Head: From thence he is lead to the Altar, and there swears again, That he will do the Duty of a good Prince; after which, accompanied by the Archbishops, he goes up into a part of the Church, which is purposely raised higher than the rest, and is there placed in a Seat of Stone: Then the Archbishop of Mentz, making a Speech in the Vulgar Tongue, wishes him great Prosperity, commending to him himself, his Colleagues, and the States of the Empire: The Prebendaries of the Church do likewise congratulate him, into whose number he is chosen by an ancient Custom: And after all, he is entertained by a Consort of Vocal and Instrumental Musick. The Lady Margaret, the Emperour's Aunt, who was Governess of the Low Countries, was present during the whole Ceremony. When Mass was over, and the Emperour had received the Sacrament, he Knights as many as offered them∣selves, which Honour used to be given anciently, only to those who had signalized their Courage in War,* and was the Reward of Valour: And now the manner is for Kings to strike gently with their naked Sword, the Shoulders of those that are to receive the Honour: And by this Ceremony, only, now a days, many are made Page 38 Knights, not only of the Nobility, but Tradesmen and others. From the Church they proceed to the Palace, which is magnificently adorned; there the Emperour Dines, and the Electors also, every one by himself, there being Tables placed in the same Hall, on both Sides the Emperour's, the Archbishop of Triers sitting right against the Emperour, according to one of the Laws of Charles IV. By an ancient Custom, a whole Ox is roasted that Day, with several other things in his Belly; part of it is brought to the Emperour's Table, and the rest is given to the Rabble; and two Conduits run all the while with Wine: After Dinner, the Emperour returning to his Lodging, delivers the Seal of the Empire to the Arch∣bishop of Mentz, and the next Day he treats the Electors: The Day following, repairing to the Church, when he had heard Mass, he worships the Holy Relicks, as they call them, and among these, a Linen-Cloth, in which, they say, our Bles∣sed Saviour was wrapt, when he lay in his Cradle: After this the Archbishop of Mentz pronounces, That the Pope confirms the Election, and commands, That Charles V,* should hereafter be called Emperour. The Electors being departed, for fear of the Contagion, the Emperour also takes his Journey, and arriving at Co∣logn, about the beginning of November, he sends his Letters all over the Empire, to call a Dyet on January 6, at Wormes.
As to what the Archbishop of Mentz said concerning the Pope's Confirmation,* it is now indeed grown into a Custom, contrary to what it was formerly; for heretofore the Bishops of Rome used to be approved of by the Emperours; but increasing in Power, they began not only to rule at Pleasure, but brought it at last to that pass, after much Strife and Contention, That the Right of Electing should be in the Electors, but they themselves only should have the Power of Confirming and Ratifying it. And this Authority they have made use of in almost all King∣doms, chiefly in Italy, Germany and France, deposing the lawful Princes, and put∣ing others in their room. For besides other Places of the Canon Law, in the De∣cretal Epistles of Pope Gregory IX, Innocent III affirms, That the Right of chusing the Emperour, by the Favour of the Bishops, and See of Rome, was translated from the Greeks to the Germans, in the time of Charles the Great, and 'tis their Busines to judge of the fitness of the Person; and not contented with this, they make the chief Magistrate of the World swear Allegiance to them; which very thing has been the Cause of great Wars and much mischief. But at length Clement V, who lived in the Year of our Lord 1300, bound them to it by a Law, which he insert∣ed into the Body of the Canon Law; for when the Emperour Henry VII, of the Family of Luxemburg, refused the Oath, as a new thing, not practised in former Times,* Pope Clement, to secure all for the future, opens the Matter at large, de∣claring what is contained in that Oath; that is to say, That the Emperour should defend the Roman Church, root out Hereticks, and avoid the Company of Wicked Men; that he should by all means possible maintain the Dignity of the Popes, de∣fend and keep all priviledges granted at any Time to the Church of Rome, but espe∣cially such as were given by Constantine, Charles the Great, Henry, Otho IV, Fre∣derick II, and Rodolph; that he claimed no Right upon any account whatsoever over the Lands and Possessions of the Roman Church; and that he would defend all other Churches in their Rights and Priviledges. He declares that the Emperour is obliged to all this, and that Henry himself promised as much by his Envoys; how∣ever, afterwards he refused to own it: But this Decree of the Popes came not out till after Henry was dead. This is that Clement, who first of all summoned the Cardinals from Rome to Lions in France, and kept his Court there; since which time the Authority and Power of the Emperours has decreased daily in Italy, and the Power and Dignity of the Popes been augmented, so that Emperours of a later date imagined that they owe them this Obedience and Allegiance. But the chief of those Popes that have been in this Matter troublesome to our Emperours, are Gre∣gory VII, Alexander III, Innocent III, Gregory IX, Innocent IV, Nicholas III, Boni∣face VIII, and Clement V. But to return from whence we have digressed.
While the Emperour was at Cologn, the Pope began again to incense Frederick Duke of Saxony against Luther by Marinus Caracciolus and Jerome Aleander; who speaking first in praise of him and his Family, and telling the Danger that hung over Germany by reason of Luther's pernicious Writings, demanded, at length, two things; First, That he would command all his Books to be burnt: And, Se∣condly, That he would either execute him himself, or send him Prisoner to the Pope. There were then present Peter Bonomus Bishop of Trieste, and Bernard Bi∣shop of Trent. Alexander declared, That the Emperour and other Princes were re∣quired Page 39 to see the Bull of the Pope performed; and that the hearing of the Cause was committed to himself and Eckius.
Duke Frederick, because it was a matter of great importance, desired time to consider of it, and on November 4, not being at leisure himself, he gave in this Answer by some of his Council, in the presence of the Bishop of Trent: That he wondred very much why the Pope should desire this of him, who had always taken care to do nothing unworthy of the Virtue and Glory of his Ancestors, and to do his Duty both to the Empire and the Church: That he understood that Eckius, in his absence, had given trouble, not only to Luther, but to several other Learned Men of his Dominions, contrary to the Mind and Tenor of his Holiness's Bull, which, as became him, he declared he very much resented, That a private Person should take upon him to meddle so much in another's Jurisdiction: What Luther or others have done in his Absence, since the bringing of the Pope's Bull thither, he knows not: That it is possible several Persons may have approved of his Ap∣peal: That as for himself, he never concern'd himself in it: But that he should be very sorry if his Doctrin were not Orthodox: That two Years ago, he procured a Conference between him and Cajetane at Ausburg; but they coming to no Agree∣ment, Cajetane writ a Letter to complain of him: That he then answered it, so as he imagined he had given him Satisfaction; and for taking away all suspicion, he was then willing to have dismissed Luther, had not Miltitz opposed it: But Richard Archbishop of Triers, had been delegated by the Pope for hearing this Cause, and that Luther was ready to appear in any Place, provided he might have a Safe-Conduct: And that he makes as fair and large Proffers as can be desired: That several Good and Learned Men, imagine that he has proceeded thus far, not so much of his own Accord, as by the Instigation of his Adversaries: That it ap∣pears not yet to the Emperour, nor to any other Magistrate, that his Writings are convicted of Heresie or Impiety; for if they had, he himself should have been ready to have done the Duty of a good Prince: He desires therefore, That they would not proceed after this manner, but rather procure that the Matter may be lovingly and quietly debated by some Godly and Learned Men, that Luther may have a Safe-Conduct, and that his Books may not be burnt, before he has made his Defence: If he should happen to be convinced by Scripture and solid Argu∣ments, that then he would by no means countenance him: But though he and his Cause should be quite baffled, yet he hoped his Holiness would require nothing of him but what might stand with his Honour: In all other things, he should always behave himself as became a Prince of the Empire, and an obedient Son of the Church. When the Elector had given in this Answer, the Legates, after some Consultation, began to recite how many things the Pope had done and suffered, in order to reclaim Luther; but that he had not performed any part of his Promises: That it was not now in the Power of the Bishop of Triers to determine in this Cause, since the Pope had recalled that Hearing of it before himself, to whom only it be∣longed to judge in matters of this Nature. The conclusion of their Speech was,* That they could not but act conformable to his Holiness's Decree; and so not long after they burn all Luther's Works. This Aleander was an Italian, born at Motola in the Kingdom of Naples, very skilful in the Hebrew Tongue: He was for some time a Reader in the University of Paris; being come to Rome, he rose by degrees, till he was at last made Archbishop of Brindin, and after that created a Cardinal: And Caracciolus was also promoted to the same Dignity.
As soon as Luther heard of this,* he called together all the Students that were in Wittemberg, and in the Presence of a great number of Learned Men, he publickly burns the Canon-Law, and the Pope's late published Decree, on the tenth Day of December: And in his next days Lecture, he earnestly admonishes all Persons, who have any regard to their own Salvation, to shake off the Dominion of the Bishop of Rome. In a Treatise, which he soon after published, he declares what it was had moved him to do this, acknowledging, That it was with his Consent, and by his Advice and Means that these Books of the Canon-Law were burnt, and that for these Reasons: First, It has been an Ancient Custom, observed in all Ages, in this manner to suppress all pernicious Books, of which there is an Example in the Acts of the Apostles; moreover, it was his Duty, who is baptized into the Faith of Christ, and who is a Professor, and publick Preacher of the Gospel, to oppose whatever contradicts the Precepts therein contained; and to instruct Men in all Sound and Wholesome Doctrins, and to purge their Minds from all false and erro∣neous Opinions: That a great many others lay under the same Obligations, but Page 40 if they, out of Ignorance, or by Cowardise, neglected to do as they ought, yet that he was not thereby excused, unless he endeavoured faithfully to discharge what he thought in Conscience was his Duty: That the Pope, and those whose In∣terest it is to uphold his Power, were become so desperately Wicked and Obstinate, that they not only stopt their Ears against all good admonitions, but also condem∣ned the Doctrin of Christ and his Apostles, and forced Men to the commission of the grossest Impieties: Besides this, he supposed those Book-Burners had no Command to act after that manner. As for the Divines of Cologn and Louvain, who pretended to be authorized by the Emperour to burn his Books, he was now very certain, that that was a meer sham: In the last place, because this burning of his Works, and the Report of it, which would be spread all over the Country, might perhaps stagger some, and cause great Doubts in the Minds of many more, who would judge, that such a thing would not be done rashly, and without some very weigh∣ty Cause: Therefore seeing his Adversaries were now grown past cure, he had been forced to burn their Books, thereby to raise up, and confirm, and strengthen, the Minds of his Followers. And he entreats all Men, not to suffer themselves to be dazled by the lofty and proud Titles of his Adversaries, but to take a nearer View of the Matter, by which they would perceive, what Impious and Pernicious Tenets are contained in the Canons and Decretals of the Popes, And that he might make this the more plain to every Man's Understanding, he recites some Passages out of the Canon-Law, which tend manifestly to the Reproach of God, the In∣jury of the Civil Magistrate, and serve only to uphold and establish their own Ty∣ranny: He quoted about thirty of these places, by which he shewed, That he had just and sufficient Reasons to burn their Books. Then he challenges them to pro∣duce but one good Reason to justifie their burning his Works. But that so few, or none, had for some Ages past, opposed the Power of Antichrist; he says, There∣fore came to pass, because the Scripture had foretold, That he should vanquish all his Adversaries, and be strengthened by the Alliance of Kings: Since then the Prophets and Apostles have predicted such dreadful things, one cannot but form to himself a very frightful Idea of his Cruelty: That the Constitution of Sublunary things was such, that out of the best Beginnings sometimes did arise the greatest Cor∣ruptions, when he had proved this by some Examples, he applies it to the City of Rome, which being loaded with all the greatest Blessings of Heaven, had wholly degenerated from what it was formerly, and with its Poysonous Contagion infected a great part of the World: That this Ordinance of the Popes was contrary to Law, and all received Customs, nor were the Usurpations of that Bishop any longer to be en∣dured, since he declined a fair Tryal, and would not be bound up by any Decree or Judgment whatsoever.
In the former Book we told you, how Silvester Prierias had wrote against Luther: When this had been answered by him very sharply, Ambrose Catarine, an Italian, took up the Cudgels, and published a Book in Defence of the Pope's Supremacy: To this Luther answers very fully, and having expounded some places in Daniel, he teaches, That the Papal Tyranny was there painted out; and that what he has foretold of the Kingdom of Antichrist, was only truly applicable to the See of Rome. This Catarine was afterwards made Archbishop of Cosenza.