Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

THE present volume consists of two parts1-the former relating the sequel of the Lutheran reformation, and the latter the commencement and progress of that of Switzerland, to the close of the year 1527.

In the former it cannot but be gratifying to the reader who has a taste for these studies, and who has long witnessed the zeal and firmness of the good elector of Saxony as an independent prince, to contemplate his truly Christian conduct, and the support which his principles afforded him, when reduced to adversity. The lovely mind of Melancthon is here also exhibited, it is hoped, in a just light, and his character vindicated from many aspersions injuriously cast upon it. The examination of some of his works, particularly his Common Places, introduces discussions, and affords a view of the progress of an enlightened, devout, and humble mind, which may prove instructive, especially to the younger class of theological students.

The notice of the Council of Trent presents a curious history, uniting the mournful and the ludicrous in no common degree. Alas! to what authorities have professed Christians deferred, and to what guides have they implicitly yielded the direction of their faith and their consciences, when they have once surrendered "the oracles of God," or failed to seek the illumination of his Spirit to lead to the just understanding and use of them!

1 They were, in fact, published separately; the former, Oct. 1827.

[blocks in formation]

PREFACE.

JUN 26 1901

[ocr errors]

It was much my wish to have at once brought down the history of the Swiss reformation to the death of Zwingle and Ecolampadius, at the close of the year 1531-concluding with some more copious specimens of the correspondence of those two great men, and with a review of some of the principal works of the former of them; and I had prepared my materials accordingly: but it was found not practicable to comprise the whole within the limits of the present volume.

How far the story of the reformation effected by Zwingle and his associates may be thought to approach, in interest, to that of the like revolution wrought by means of Luther, I presume not to determine. It must be remembered that the former here succeeds the latter, and by that means loses much of the charm of novelty. Many also of those details, which gave importance to a first narrative, would in this have been an unnecessary and unwarranted repetition. Other points of comparison likewise present themselves, in most of which the disadvantage seems to fall on the side of Switzerland. The hero of the German reformation occupied the stage, and fixed the public eye, for nearly thirty years; whereas Zwingle was removed at the end of half that period. In Switzerland, shut up within its own mountains, and consisting of a number of small independent republics, the reformers were not committed, nor their energies called forth, against any such formidable antagonists as their brethren in Germany had to encounter; and, however great the advantage of such a circumstance in other and more important respects, in point of historic effect it must be acknowledged to be injurious. It has been thought, indeed, that, as the reformation in Switzerland was effected "more by open discussion, and less

[ocr errors]

by political influence," its history must be the more satisfactory and edifying of the two to the Christian student. But I can only very partially admit the fact here assumed. The governments of the several Swiss states appear to have borne to the full as great a share in the religious changes made, as any of the princes did in Germany. If it was to the popular voice, sometimes even contrary to the wishes of the rulers, that the reformation was conceded in the former country; there were not wanting instances of the same kind in the latter. Moreover the Swiss sovereignties, being vested in collective bodies, were liable to the influence of still more mixed and varied motives than individual princes were; while we lose among them the high interest and important instruction, which such examples of personal wisdom, constancy, and piety, as the three successive electors of Saxony (to name no other individuals,) afford us. Numerous as were the senators and officers of state who promoted the reformation of the Swiss Cantons, scarcely any eminent layman, with the exception of Joachim Vadian, of S. Gallen, leaves a distinct trace upon the memory. Here also, if public discussions, or "disputations," produced more effect, books seem to have produced less and to posterity, at least, this is a disadvantage. Once more: though Zwingle was a noble character, not inferior, perhaps, to his great fellowreformer in clearness and force of intellect, and probably in learning, and certainly in calmness of mind and temperateness of style, his superior; and though he taught, and lived under the influence of the same gospel; yet he had less warmth of heart, and less depth of Christian experience;

1 See, e. g. vol. i. p. 257-9.

and on both these accounts he must fail to interest and edify us in an equal degree. Yet we shall find much in him as well as in his mild, holy, and learned fellow-labourer, Ecolampadius, to excite our admiration, and call forth our praise to God: and certainly the whole history of this branch of the blessed reformation deserves to be detailed much more particularly, than it has hitherto been to the people of this country. I hope therefore to have my attempt in this part of my work regarded with a favourable eye, and to be encouraged to proceed with accounts which, I trust, may possess even increasing importance.

All that remains for this prefatory address is to furnish, as in the former volume, some notices of the authors from whom my materials have been derived.

Sleidan, Scultetus, Camerarius, (the friend and biographer of Melancthon,) Father Paul, and Melchior Adam are already sufficiently known to my readers, or will become so as we have occasion to make further use of them. Of Vargas, who must be numbered among the historians of the council of Trent, such an account as is necessary is given at pp. 257, 314, 315 of the volume itself; as well as some vindication of Father Paul's History, and some notice of his translator and commentator, Dr. Courayer, at pp. 312-314. The Epistles and Consilia of Melancthon, of which much use is here made, have been before described. 1 The edition of Melancthon's Works which I use, is that printed at Wittemberg, 1580. The work of David Chytræus on Saxon affairs ("Saxonia") is a folio volume, printed in 1599,

Pref. to vol. i. p. xvii.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »