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THE CHURCH'S REFORMED. PROGRESS
PERIOD FIFTH. COMPRISING CENTURIES XVII.-XIX. (OR FROM THE END
OF THE REFORMATION ERA TO THE PRESENT TIME). DIVISIONS OF
LIFE I. GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS.
A. D. 1594-A. D. 1632.
The pure-hearted soldier, the heroic deliverer of the reformed church in Germany, was born in Stockholm, Sweden, December 9, 1594. He was the son of Charles Ninth, who was made king of Sweden (1604), after the dethronement of Sigismund, who had accepted the throne of Poland and become a Romanist. Charles was a zealous Lutheran and a grandson of Gustavus Vasa. The boy early inclined to affairs of state and to the army. Through his reforms the arms of Sweden were to win new glory. When fifteen years old, upon the breaking out of a war with Russia, he asked his father to let him lead the army. He was refused, but the very next year (1611) he was given an independent command in a war with Denmark. He carried through more than one affair successfully, surpassing even what was expected of him. His father dying this year (October 30th), Gustavus was declared of age by the estates of Sweden, and, though hardly seventeen, undertook the charge of the kingdom and the conduct of the war with Denmark, Russia, and Poland. His great military talents were soon shown. He revolutionized the army organization. He adopted and enforced new principles in respect to weapons, tactics, use of artillery, and discipline. He joined to all this the power of moral and religious feeling. Every regiment had a chaplain. Daily service was held not only as an act of worship, but as a measure of discipline, -one, however, that was readily accepted by the soldiers, by reason of their religious enthusiasm.
The youth's keen, true understanding of state affairs was shown in his finding in the youngest of his counselors, Axel Oxenstierna, the great
statesman, the man whose counsel he might follow in the greatest emergencies. Axel's coolness and caution were suited to make up
any rashness of the king, and to keep his ardor within bounds.
The mere fact that Gustavus did not succumb to the three mighty foes whom his father left him served to indicate the ability of the youth and the lofty
destiny that awaited him. Gustavus began to perceive this his life mission. destiny when the war of religions in Germany, which was begun in 1618, gradually went against the Protestants, and the very existence of the evangelical church was (1629) placed in jeopardy. Gustavus was devoted to this church with a deep affection arising from profound conviction. In the full strength of his manhood, at thirty-five years of age, he decided, in face of the hugely increased power of the emperor, like a Luther in the face of the papacy, to carry out his longconsidered and bold resolve to save the Protestants of Germany, who were
brink of destruction; to humble the emperor; and, if possible, to obtain the title of king of Rome and the succession to the emperorship of Germany, which had now been held so long by foreign princes who had done nothing for the German nation. That this last thought was in his mind must be granted, since it was shown afterwards. Nor is it one to be seriously reprehended, for if it was ever desirable that the imperial office should not be held by a Romanist nor by one of the Hapsburg family, it was especially so at that period. The Protestant princes then needed powerful assistance. Besides, the Swedes were kinsmen. The only question is, How did Gustavus Adolphus go to work to achieve the object named? History replies to this that to preserve Protestantism, and to obtain equal rights for it in Germany, was first and last his chief and most earnest aim. This, the facts prove, was ever put by him honestly and fairly in the foreground.
Luther's spirit of reformation lived anew in Gustavus Adolphus. Luther's word had shaken the world, and put the papacy on its defense. Gustavus's sword was to smite it anew. His task was the more needful and the more difficult, too, from the apathy of the Protestant princes. Yet in proportion as obstacles increase, do mental endowments increase to those who are called to meet them. This was eminently true of GusHis personal ap
tavus Adolphus. His noble spirit shone forth in his per
sonal appearance. Of pure German blood, he was of slender form, but majestic, towering stature. The dazzling fairness of his countenance was enhanced by the bloom of his cheeks. With his wealth of yellow hair, true German, and flowing upon his shoulders, joined his glorious eyes, -short-sighted, it is true, but none the less fiery and expressive. His countenance wore a majesty which commanded reverence. Earnestness, graciousness, and dignity characterized his glance, which, when animated, enraptured by its gentleness. The high-arched, nobly formed nose helped to give him the look of a hero. Resoluteness of will and thorough understanding of his circumstances were added to his other mental powers. He showed in business affairs a judgment as profound as comprehensive. Hence his undertakings were circumspectly begun, carefully and energetically carried forward, steadfastly and perseveringly pushed to completion. His lofty mind was possessed also of a splendid imagination ; and with his sound judgment and insight was united the gift of eloquence. He thus rose above a man of talent to one of genius, - a glowing star shining before the eyes of the world. In the purity of morals which marks true greatness in man or prince, the Swedish king was an example to his generation. His personal courage and intrepid daring in face of danger were so noted as to cause his followers great concern. He was just in judging, by reason of his goodness of heart and strength of character. Schooled in wisdom, he made toleration a law of state, and in the lands which he subdued treated Romanists and Protestants gently and impartially, putting them upon a perfect equality. Nor would he have changed this rule, symmetrical as he was in character, had he lived longer, and well would the carrying out of it have been for Germany. For this cause his early death was so profoundly and universally lamented. It was a sign, people said, that the Germany of that day was not worthy of him. But let us briefly run over the story of his career. Builded up by his example, we shall be led to cry at his early death, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !”
The love of Gustavus's youth was Ebba Brahe, daughter of the high bailiff of Sweden. To her he composed tender verses in the midst of dangerous campaigns, and with her would have shared his crown and kingdom, had not his stout-hearted mother, queen Christina, daughter of duke Adolf, of Schleswig-Holstein, prevented, and secured Ebba's marriage to her son's general, Jacob de la Gardie. Gustavus went on a visit to Germany, and in Berlin saw, for the first time, the princess Marie Eleanore, of whom his ambassador, Birkhold, him to Germany. had written him some two years before. She was sister of elector George William of Brandenburg, and second daughter of John Sigismund, then recently deceased. Five years younger than Gustavus, she passed for a perfect beauty, as charming as majestic in appearance, and was possessed of great taste and knowledge in the arts. Gustavus made a second jourDey to Berlin expressly, in 1620, and obtained from the elector's widow the hand of her daughter, wedding her in Stockholm, November 28th. His wife gave him the profoundest affection and respect. The happy union was tried only by his many absences in the wars, and by her tender solicitude for his life. This marriage helped turn Gustavus to a close inspection of the affairs of Germany. His military abilities were already generally known. After the battle of Prague (November 3, 1620), the
His love leads
Spanish general, marquis Von Spinola, had declared, "Gustavus of Sweden is the only Protestant chief whom we dare not provoke.” Gustavus could not regard the triumph of the emperor with indifference, since it affected his brother Protestants. He was too generous to shut his ears to the cries of the exiled princes of Mecklenburg, who asked aid from Sweden. These princes were, moreover, his neighbors and kinsmen. Nor could he overlook the danger to Sweden from the emperor taking the duchy of Pomerania, after the death of Bogislaus, the last of the ruling family. For the emperor bad perverted a treaty made at Brandenburg, and possessed himself of Pomerania and Rügen. Gustavus took the burning of the Swedish fleet, with the offer of thirty-five thousand dollars as compensation, as a part of a far-reaching plan on the part of the Hapsburgs against Sweden. He regarded the pledge wrung from the Danish king, the ally of the Protestants (in the disgraceful Peace of Lübeck, May 12, 1629), that he would not meddle again in German affairs, as a prelude to the imperial designs against Sweden. Then, when the edict of restitution was published (March 6, 1629), restoring to the Romanists all the property and church endowments which had become Protestant since the year 1555, a measure which especially affected Northern Germany, what course was to be taken by so ardent a Protestant and so skilled a warrior as Gustavus Adolphus ? Could he refuse help when Stralsund, which was the key of the Baltic, and had asked his protection, was hard pressed by Wallenstein ? Could he disappoint the discouraged and perplexed Protestants of Germany, whose eyes were upon him? For though it be granted that his aid was not asked by the sleepy Protestant electors, he was the more ardently longed for by the lesser princes, the cities, and the people. Gustavus therefore armed, taking the advice of his council, and obtaining its consent to each important step, although not obliged to do 80; for he desired, if misfortune came, not to bear it alone. The heart of Sweden was his, not only for the sake of what he was, but for the sake of what he had done for Swedish institutions, even amid severe wars, thus showing how much he thought of the advancement of his fellow-men.
Gustavus's army, formed in the Danish-Russian wars, was supplied with skillful generals, and made ready to march. A peace or an extended truce was made with each of the neighboring countries. The king then calle the Swedish estates together (May 19, 1630), brought into their prey his little daughter, Christina, four years of age, as his heir, com Takes his loave
her to their allegiance, and bade them a topohis of Sweden. foreboding that he should never more retr pointed throughout the whole kingdom three days off the first Fridays of July, August, and September, blessing on his difficult enterprise. Long after church of Sweden kept up the observance of th
On setting out, the king's fleet was hinderr