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son of a peasant, as he was fond of proclaiming. He sympathised, therefore, with their wrongs; and when he wrote his Exhortation to Peace the same spring, he dwelt strongly on these wrongs and the necessity of the nobles and princes of Germany ceasing to tax and fleece their subjects for the enhancement of their pomp and pride, until the common people could endure it no longer. He took the side of the people in all their lawful aspirations. But he saw at the same time that there was a spirit moving many of them hostile to order and religion. And in his most violent moods Luther was an apostle of order. If he had one conviction more profound than another, beyond the sphere of religion, it was respect for the Empire and its institutions—and desire for peace. He hated the idea of social disorder, and of war in any form, above all in the form of civil insurrection. He warned the peasantry, therefore, of the disgrace and disaster that would attend the armed assertion of their rights. He told them plainly that if they persisted in rebellion they were worse enemies to the Gospel than the Pope. But all his words were thrown away ; and Luther, of all men, did not like his words to be impotent. He counselled moderation and reform so long as he could ; but when he saw that it was not redress but destruction that the fanatical leaders of the popular insurrection aimed at, he denounced them with his accustomed plainness, and called for their extirpation. They were to him like mad dogs,' and to be dealt with as 'mad dogs. But it was not the people but their leaders that he thus denounced: men like Münzer, who were insane with a bloody fanaticism—if ever men were -who had preached to their followers, • To work! while the fire is hot; let not the blood cool upon your swords. They will beg, wish, and entreat you for mercy; but show them no mercy, as God commanded Moses! God is with you ; follow Him!' These pretended prophets were to Luther at once blasphemers and murderers. We do not say that he should not have judged them more leniently, more intelligently. It was suffering and oppression that had made them mad, and he ought to have recognised this; but there they were—a wild force of destruction extending itself through the Empire: and Luther saw no safety at last but in their extirpation. To the end, however, he was faithful to the peasantry, and implored mercy for them. “Dear lords,' he said, in the very same sentence in which he called for the extirpation of their leaders as 6 mad dogs; “Dear lords, help them, save them, take pity upon these
Luther was no doubt always a man of powerful and unguarded impulse. His words were like living things, and went straight to their mark. He did not weigh them like a more cautious nature, and think of all their effect. But this is only to say that he was Luther, and not another. In order to judge him rightly we have to take him not merely in one mood, but in many moods. It is not a subtle criticism, however it may seem to be so, to look at his large nature now on this side and now on that to contrast his tenderness with his coarseness, or his (alleged) antinomianism with the deep breathings of his piety-his materialism with his holiness. No doubt there were these contrasts in him. But are they not more or less in all men, and especially men of the massive build of Luther? What is remarkable in him is not the presence of such contrasts, but the frankness with which he gave expression to them. He was real and simple to the core.
He had a marvellous power of utterance, and like many men who have this irrepressible fluency by word or pen, his utterance for the moment not only came from his heart, but seemed to himself the whole utterance of his heart-all truth for the time. But his heart was larger than he thought, and his mind had other depths than he poured forth at separate moments. And we only rightly understand him not in this mood or that, but when we take him as a whole, and recognise that it is one living being who is thus moved so diversely, and that we have to read into the one Luther all these chords of feeling. The schisms, in short, that we recognise in him are in his words more than in himself. He is not now on the side of nature and now on the side of grace, and then of law; but nature and grace and law all meet in his massive humanity, as he speaks now with the tongue of the one and then of the other—so perfectly honest in each mood of thought that he is unconscious, like a child, of inconsistencies of language. He is, in fact, from first to last something of a child in unconscious impulse, in freedom of talk, and in the quick resentful hastiness with which he deals his blows and emphasises them without reflecting, as in the controversy with Erasmus; how they may fall and injure one truth while defending another.
We have, in short, not only two Luthers at the different epochs of his life, but more or less all through his life; and we are not called upon equally to admire both. Yet it is not the highest view of him that separates and holds them apart. The separation is the separation of accident and circumstance, of argument and emphasis. The man in bis full greatness is the unity of all, however difficult it may be to find this unity. The coarseness, the violence, the wrongheadedness are not to be strained away; but they are not seen in their true light when placed by themselves, and looked at as distinct phases of the man. They are so far rather the integral base of a humanity which could not have been so powerful if it had been made of finer stuff; and so far the result of a time of violence and of controversial torture, the temptations of which we have difficulty in estimating. The age itself was lacking in harmonious proportion. It was violent of action and coarse of speech, yet with a profound depth of spiritual life stirring it. And Luther was pre-eminently the man of such an age. He would not have been greater, but less great in some respects, if he had been more refined and cautious and well
proportioned in intellect and character. We have to take him, therefore, as he is—a great but rugged power, tenderness mingling with strength, coarseness with insight, depth with violence, humour with rage, gentleness with audacity. "History presents many more complete or symmetrical characters, few greater; none more rich in diverse elements of human feeling and moral aspiration. No selfishness, nor vanity, nor mere vulgar ambition meet us amid all his proud consciousness of power or most high-handed dogmatism ; but everywhere, even when we can least sympathise with him, we see an honest and magnanimous nature swayed by a living faith and glowing earnestness-a great Soul moved by passionate conviction, and sublimed by divine thought.'2
It is this breadth and largeness of nature which have made Luther's name so enduring, and given such a charm to it. We know no other name concerned in a great controversy, which at the end of four centuries could have evoked so spontaneous and widespread an enthusiasm —Anglican Archbishops, and Old Catholic prelates like the venerable Dr. Döllinger, vying with Scotch presbyters and English presbyters, Lutheran Doctors of Divinity and literary laymen to do him honour. This is quite different from any sectarian popularity, and is due, we may be sure, to great qualities which come home to the common heart of Christendom. Least of all is it due to any supposed faultlessness in Luther himself. For the very tribute to his memory has tended to provoke a revived sense of his faults. It has been made abundantly evident that he was no Apostle of sweetness, that he could be obdurate in prejudice as well as magnanimous in thought, and that there are few men whose words in controversy can be less trusted as a measure of truth. Yet withal-not because he was faultless, or always wise and right, but because he was with all his faults a great and beneficent character, who, when the world was sick and in dire trouble brought a new life to it, and moved it forward in paths of righteousness---his name has called forth an unexampled ovation. It is easy to make light of such an ovation; there are always aspects of popular enthusiasm that lend themselves readily to ridicule. But it will be more to the point to endeavour to estimate Luther's work, what he really did for the world, at its true value. We shall rapidly glance therefore at the main aspects in which his work presents itself to us. It will not be difficult to recognise in each the note of advance, and the explanation of the enthusiasm with which his name is still regarded.
1. What is known as Protestantism, or the theory of religious liberty, owes its birth to him. He certainly did not announce the theory; he even failed to practise it; but he made it possible. Is the theory after all a blessing ?-it may be asked. It became the fashion for a time to speak in a depreciatory tone of the great
2 Luther and other Lcaders of the Reformation, p. 161.
movement of the sixteenth century. To those of this way of speech, who, after patient inquiry, satisfied themselves that Protestantism was a mistake, and that their true home was the unreformed Church that condemned Luther, and would have burned him, as it did Hus and Jerome, there is nothing to say. They went their way, and time will judge them. But the so-called Oxford school of fifty years ago, while it produced many remarkable men-men of genius, as writers, and preachers, and poets-never pretended to be a school of advance. It not only had no love for freedom, but it reprobated it. Newman himself said that he hated Liberalism and all its brood. When in France in 1832, he refused to look at the tricolor, as the emblem of modern liberty.
The school will remain memorable because it has deepened and awakened Christian and Church life; it has spread a spirit of devotion beautiful as it is earnest through many an English parish. But it was in no sense a scientific movement. It threw no light on theological or scriptural difficulties. It travestied rather than studied Church history, and instead of seeking to explain its great epochs, it made a mere polemical quarry of them for the support of foregone conclusions. It scouted the idea of new light; its pride was to reproduce old traditions and Catholic' dogmas. It not only held no key to the great movements of Christian thought in the past, but it blundered over the simplest of them, as Cardinal Newman did so notably in the history of the Arians of the fourth century. What may be said to be now a commonplace in all historical inquiry, that every great epoch in the formation of opinion is the product of all the forces operating in the preceding time, and therefore so far justified in the very fact of its existence—that it is a living growth, in short, and not a mechanical manipulation of parties—was never realised by them. They took their stand on an imaginary platform of their own, which they identified with Christian antiquity, just as the Evangelical party had also its platform, by which they squared all Christian truth. Theology as a science—as the product of great currents of thought constantly moving the Church—has never been recognised by the one or the other.
It is little to be wondered at, therefore, that the Anglo-Catholic party came to undervalue or despise the Reformation. They saw in Luther mainly an apostle of violence, one who had disturbed the fair order of mediæval Christendom. Protestantism became to them a mere party movement, instead of the natural and inevitable outburst of new forces of religious thought and life moving Europe—an insurrection and not an advance—a rebellion, not an inevitable revolution. All the moral forces of righteousness, of truth-speaking, of freedom which Luther represented, and the Reformation embodied, were of no avail in comparison with a disowned church authority. And the fashion followed of disparaging Luther and Protestantism.
Protestantism--the word and the thing--became and remains with members of the school a name of opprobrium. It is said to be a pure negation, to represent an unhallowed attitude of the individual and popular will against Catholicity. We wonder how many who speak thus know what · Protestantism' really did mean in its original use.
The word, as is well known, was not an original note of the Reformation. It did not originate with Luther, nor with Melanchthon, although the latter was present, as Luther was not, at the Diet of Augsburg, when it came into vogue.
It did not come specially from the religious side of the Reformation, and bore no reference to the truth or falsehood of any religious doctrines. But it nevertheless had a noble origin, and it bears, and must ever bear to every freeman, a noble meaning. It was the word with which the reforming Christian States of Germany met the attempt of the Emperor Charles and those opposed to them, to deprive them of the toleration which for some time they had enjoyed. Nothing could be more reasonable or patriotic than the standpoint of these States. The religious commotions in the Empire had begun without their special incitement. They did not profess to be able to settle what was true or false in the movement. The Emperor himself had admitted that the matters in dispute were beyond his jurisdiction. He had specially said-at the Diet of Spires in 1526—that he was neither willing por able to conclude anything touching them, but that he would endeavour to obtain the sanction of the Roman bishops to the assembly of a General Council ; ' every State in the meantime to live, rule, and bear itself as it shall be ready to answer for to God and his Imperial Majesty.
This was the basis of settlement universally agreed on between the Emperor and the reforming States in 1526. It was considered binding till a General Council was called. Honour, freedom, every patriotic motive was enlisted on hebalf of this fair compromise between the contending parties. The cause at stake was therefore the cause of national as well as religious independence. And it was only when it was proposed, at the second Diet of Spires in 1529, and still more definitely at Augsburg in 1530, to interfere with the Act of Toleration, that the famous Protest was taken. The Diet has overstepped its authority,' said the States who adhered to the settlement. acquired right is that the Decree of 1526 unanimously adopted remain in force until a Council can be convened. Up to this time the Decree has maintained the peace, and we protest against its abrogation. This was what they said at Spires in 1529, and in the following year, at Augsburg, the same ground was taken up, and the same Protest renewed.
Protestantism in its origin, therefore, was the uprising of the Christian and patriotic feeling of Germany against a proposed act. of gross oppression, both civil and religious. It had no special connection with doctrine, and implied no negation of any Christian