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Church of England Magazine.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1823.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
views have borne a considerable
proportion to the increase of scienIt is usual withi historians and tific attainment, we must hesitate philosophers of a certain class, to to admit their conclusions. But is speak of the Reformation as an it not notorious, that individuals event which necessarily followed and communities have augmented the progress of knowledge. They their stock of philosophic lore, and consider, that the introduction of a made vast additions to their moral purer kind of philosophy, an ac- and political knowledge, and yet quaintance with classical literature, have remained at a distance from and increased commercial inter- reformed truth and religious illumicourse among the different states of nation ? Nor will it answer the Europe, would have such an effect purpose of such theorists to reply, on the public mind, as to produce that many of these individuals, or important revolutions in the opi- a great number of the members of
a such a change in respect to reli
reli- the improved state of their intellect gious sentiments as was seen to by scepticism and infidelity. For issue in the separation of so large we should observe again, that the a portion of Christendom from the parallelism of philosophic and relisee of Rome. So great an autho- gious knowledge is still unproved. rity as Dugald Stewart remarks: Such instances, indeed, only serve “ The Protestant religion, which to show the near relationship befollowed immediately after, was it- tween superstition and infidelity; self one of the natural consequences an approximation which no man, of the revival of letters, and of the who knows the deceitfulness of the invention of printing."
human heart, can doubt for an inBut, with every possible senti- stant. ment of respect for authors, whose Whence, then, arise these erroclaims to form our notions and
regu- neous statements on this important late our judgments have been long subject? From an imperfect view and deservedly recognised, it would of the character of the Reformation appear, that, on topics of religion, itself; from a false estimate of the the custom of generalization, and principles and motives of those a too liberal mode of calculation, master minds who were the honourhave betrayed them into statements ed instruments of effectuating so which require to be qualified. Un- wide and lasting a change. The less they can show, that purity of Reformation was not so much a faith and soundness of theological political, as a religious event. Its SEPT. 1823.
supporters and advocates were not near the mouth of the Oder. His so much actuated by the operation father, who was of senatorial rank, of outward circumstance, as the having taken care that he should force of inward conviction. It was be instructed in the principles of the work of religious principle. An religion, and taught him also the increased acquaintance with science rudiments of grammar and music, and even Biblical literature, did provided for his further education not lead some men farther than an by entering him a member of the exposure of the palpable vices of college of Griefswald, lying on the the clergy, and the disgusting frauds coast of the Baltic, about sixty of the monks. They still retained miles westward of Wollin. Here their belief of the papal supremacy, he applied with so much success to the visible presence, the seven șa- the study of language and liberal craments, &c. But others were art, that at twenty years
age he enlightened from above: they were was qualified to open a school at men of humbler heart, and read the Treptow, a small town on the Scriptures with desire to be made Mecklenburgh border, where his wiser, and prayer to be made better. method of instruction soon became They found, indeed, their minds the theme of approbation in the invigorated by an accession of neighbourhood on account of its science; they felt that learning was superiority. But it was his chief a powerful handmaid to religion; honour, that he had paid assiduous but they were aware, that mere attention to the religious improveknowledge puffeth up, while celes- ment of his scholars, whom he never tial charity edifieth. In defence of failed to assemble for prayer and a more scriptural system than gene- reading of the Scriptures, and whom rally prevailed, they stood prepared he desired to instruct and govern to live or die.
with the feelings and motives of a Eminent scholars undoubtedly genuine Christian. there were, who exposed many of He was much attached to the
the absurdities of Popery; and va- writings of Jerome and Augustine, liant chiefs who, from political rea- which led his mind to serious resons, drew their swords in defence flection; but meeting with the Saof Protestantism; but without sanc- tires of Erasmus, in which the hytified knowledge, and spiritual wea- pocrisy of the monks, and the heapons, the great revolution would thenish adoration of images, were never have taken place. Without well exposed, he was struck with some potent internal principle, the the iniquity of formal worsbip and man who renounced Popery one idolatrous service. He considered day, would have been in danger of that it was written, “ Thou shalt recantation the next, influenced worship the Lord thy God, and either by fear or by attachment; him only shalt thou serve;" and but he who steadily and piously again, « Ye shall walk in my preinquired after truth, who was led cepts, and do them:" he saw that to suspect the strength of prejudice God required the homage of the and the force of habit, and brought heart, and devotion of the life, and all his learning and information to became more earnest than ever in bear on the grand question of his the religious instruction of the personal salvation, became the be- pupils. He expounded to them nefactor of his country and the the Gospel of St. Matthew, the two friend of his species. Such was Epistles to Timothy,and the Psalms, the exalted character of the Re- adding the explanation of the cateformer of Pomerania.
chism, the creed, and the ten comJohn Bugenhagen was born on mandments. His lectures were so the 24th of June 1485, at Wollin, excellent, and his mode of teaching
80 agreeable, that the principal genhagen, begging him to read it townsmen, the clergy, and the more
aloud for the amusement of the devout of the monks themselves, company, who would naturally be used to attend at the school in con- anxious to hear something of the siderable numbers.
contents of a book, which had atAt length, his friends requested tracted so large a share of the public him to increase his sphere of use- attention. After perusing a few fulness by taking holy orders, and pages he declared, “ Many heretics he was admitted into the Lutheran have troubled and disquieted the presbytery. He soon became a church since our Lord's time, but popular preacher, and being held the author of this book is one of the in high respect by persons of all very worst.” He then pointed out ranks, both for learning and piety, several passages which were directhis company was eagerly sought ly contrary to the received doctrine.
and such intervals as he could He took it, however, home with spare from academic engagement him, and read it again and again and private meditation, were occu- with great attention, pondering over pied in conversation with different its chief positions, and in the course visitors or applicants, on subjects of a few days made an ingenuous of an ecclesiastical, theological, and confession to his colleagues, “I political nature. The nobles re- have only this to say: all the world ported his extraordinary attainments is blind and in Cimmerian darkness, to their prince Bogislaus. At that and this man alone sees the truth!” time an account of the genealogy
Never was an instance of more and exploits of the dukes of Pome- complete victory over the power of rania was much desired, especially prejudice. Fully convinced of the by Spalatinus, who was employed justice of the reasoning adopted by in drawing up a chronicle of Saxony the Saxon professor, he lost no time at Wittenberg, where Barnim, se- in endeavouring to bring over all cond son of Bogislaus, was pursu- his friends to the same sentiments, ing his studies. At the command and succeeded with the major part; of his sovereign, therefore, he un- among whom, the Abbot of Beldertook the work, and examined buch, with several clergymen and the old records in the colleges and monks, publicly testified against monasteries, while others searched the deceits of the Papacy, and zealthe ducal archives. Two years ously exhorted their hearers to rewere necessarily consumed in this nounce the superstitions and abuses literary undertaking: but the author of human tradition, while they had the gratification of knowing trusted to the merits of Christ alone that it became a standard book at for acceptance and salvation. He court, where it was highly valued collected the other writings of Lufor accuracy of information and ther, and by diligent perusal learned purity of style.
the difference between the Law and The talents, however, of this the Gospel, with the true nature of pious divine and able scholar were justification by faith ; and discogiven for other purposes. In the vered the similarity of opinion beyear 1520, he was one day invited, tween Luther and Augustine. with some other friends, to dine He now discoursed with such with Otho Slutovius, a leading bur- copiousness and fluency on the gess and inspector of the church. principal doctrines of ProtestantThis gentleman produced Luther's ism, that great effects followed his work on the “ Babylonish Capti- faithful ministration, while he himvity," which had been recently self became more and more estatransmitted to him by a friend from blished in evangelical religion. EnLeipsic, and handed it over to Bu- raged at the success of the new