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This illustrious German divine and reformer of the
Church was the son of John Luther and Margaret Ziegler, and born at Isleben, a
town of Saxony, in the county of Mansfield, November 10, 1483. His father's
extraction and condition were original but mean, and his occupation that of a
miner; it is probable, however, that by his application and industry he improved
the fortunes of his family, as he afterward became a magistrate of rank and
dignity. Luther was early initiated into letters, and at the age of thirteen was
sent to school at Magdeburg, and thence to Eisenach, in Thuringia, where he
remained four years, producing the early indications of his future eminence.
In 1501 he was sent to the University of Erfurt, where he went through the usual courses of logic and philosophy. When twenty, he took a master's degree, and then lectured on Aristotle's physics, ethics, and other parts of philosophy. Afterward, at the instigation of his parents, he turned himself to the civil law, with a view of advancing himself to the bar, but was diverted from this pursuit by the following accident.
Walking out into
the fields one day, he was struck by lightning so as to fall to the ground,
while a companion was killed by his side; and this affected him so sensibly,
that, without communicating his purpose to any of his friends, he withdrew
himself from the world, and retired into the order of the hermits of St.
Here he employed himself in reading St. Augustine
and the schoolmen; but in turning over the leaves of the library, he
accidentally found a copy of the Latin Bible, which he had never seen before.
This raised his curiosity to a high degree: he read it over very greedily, and
was amazed to find what a small portion of the Scriptures was rehearsed to the
He made his profession in the monastery of Erfurt,
after he had been a novice one year; and he took priest's orders, and celebrated
his first mass in 1507. The year after, he was removed from the convent of
Erfurt to the University of Wittenberg; for this university being just founded,
nothing was thought more likely to bring it into immediate repute and credit,
than the authority and presence of a man so celebrated, for his great parts and
learning, as Luther.
In this University of Erfurt, there was a certain
aged man in the convent of the Augustines with whom Luther, being then of the
same order, a friar Augustine, had conference upon divers things, especially
touching remission of sins; which article the said aged father opened unto
Luther; declaring that God's express commandment is that every man should
particularly believe his sins to be forgiven him in Christ: and further said
that this interpretation was confirmed by St. Bernard: "This is the
testimony that the Holy Ghost giveth thee in thy heart, saying, thy sins are
forgiven thee. For this is the opinion of the apostle, that man is freely
justified by faith."
By these words Luther was not only strengthened, but was also instructed of the full meaning of St. Paul, who repeateth so many times this sentence, "We are justified by faith." And having read the expositions of many upon this place, he then perceived, as well by the discourse of the old man, as by the comfort he received in his spirit, the vanity of those interpretations, which he had read before, of the schoolmen.
And so, by little
and little, reading and comparing the sayings and examples of the prophets and
apostles, with continual invocation of God, and the excitation of faith by force
of prayer, he perceived that doctrine most evidently. Thus continued he his
study at Erfurt the space of four years in the convent of the Augustines.
In 1512, seven convents of his order having a quarrel with their vicar-general, Luther was chosen to go to Rome to maintain their cause. At Rome he saw the pope and the court, and had an opportunity of observing also the manners of the clergy, whose hasty, superficial, and impious way of celebrating mass, he has severely noted.
As soon as he had adjusted the
dispute which was the business of his journey, he returned to Wittenberg, and
was created doctor of divinity, at the expense of Frederic, elector of Saxony;
who had often heard him preach, was perfectly acquainted with his merit, and
reverenced him highly.
He continued in the University of Wittenberg,
where, as professor of divinity, he employed himself in the business of his
calling. Here then he began in the most earnest manner to read lectures upon the
sacred books: he explained the Epistle to the Romans, and the Psalms, which he
cleared up and illustrated in a manner so entirely new, and so different from
what had been pursued by former commentators, that "there seemed, after a
long and dark night, a new day to arise, in the judgment of all pious and
Luther diligently reduced the minds of men to the
Son of God: as John the Baptist demonstrated the Lamb of God that took away the
sins of the world, even so Luther, shining in the Church as the bright daylight
after a long and dark night, expressly showed that sins are freely remitted for
the love of the Son of God, and that we ought faithfully to embrace this
His life was correspondent to his profession; and
it plainly appeared that his words were no lip-labor, but proceeded from the
very heart. This admiration of his holy life much allured the hearts of his
The better to qualify himself for the task he had undertaken, he had applied himself attentively to the Greek and Hebrew languages; and in this manner was he employed, when the general indulgences were published in 1517.
leo X who succeeded julius II in March, 1513, formed a design of building the magnificent church of St. Peter's at Rome, which was, indeed, begun by julius, but still required very large sums to be finished. leo, therefore, in 1517 published general indulgences throughout all Europe, in favor of those who contribute any sum to the building of St. Peter's; and appointed persons in different countries to preach up these indulgences, and to receive money for them.
These strange proceedings gave vast offence at
Wittenberg, and particularly inflamed the pious zeal of
Luther; who, being
naturally warm and active, and in the present case unable to contain himself,
was determined to declare against them at all adventures.
Upon the eve of all-saints, therefore, in 1517, he publicly fixed up, at the church next to the castle of that town, a thesis upon indulgences; in the beginning of which he challenged any one to oppose it either by writing or disputation. Luther's propositions about indulgences were no sooner published, than tetzel, the dominican friar, and commissioner for selling them, maintained and published at Frankfort, a thesis, containing a set of propositions directly contrary to them.
He did more; he stirred up the clergy of
his order against
Luther; anathematized him from the pulpit, as a most damnable
heretic; and burnt his thesis publicly at Frankfort.
tetzel's thesis was also
burnt, in return, by the Lutherans at Wittenberg; but
Luther himself disowned
having had any hand in that procedure.
Luther, though dissuaded from it by his
friends, yet, to show obedience to authority, went to the monastery of St.
Augustine, at Heidelberg, while the chapter was held; and here maintained, April
26, a dispute concerning "justification by faith"; which Bucer, who
was present at, took down in writing, and afterward communicated to Beatus
Rhenanus, not without the highest commendations.
In the meantime, the zeal of his adversaries grew every day more and more active against him; and he was at length accused to leo X as a heretic. As soon as he returned therefore from Heidelberg, he wrote a letter to that pope, in the most submissive terms; and sent him, at the same time, an explication of his propositions about indulgences.
This letter is dated
on Trinity Sunday, 1518, and was accompanied with a protestation, wherein he
declared, that he did not pretend to advance or defend anything contrary to the
Holy Scriptures, or to the doctrine of the fathers, received and observed by the
church of rome, or to the canons and decretals of the
popes: nevertheless, he
thought he had the liberty either to approve or disapprove the opinions of St.
Thomas, Bonaventure, and other schoolmen and canonists, which are not grounded
upon any text.
maximilian was equally solicitous, with
pope about putting a stop to the propagation of
Luther's opinions in Saxony;
troublesome both to the Church and empire. Maximilian, therefore, applied to
leo, in a letter dated August 5, 1518, and begged him to forbid, by his
authority, these useless, rash, and dangerous disputes; assuring him also that
he would strictly execute in the empire whatever his holiness should enjoin.
In the meantime
Luther, as soon as he understood
what was transacting about him at Rome, used all imaginable means to prevent his
being carried there, and to obtain a hearing of his cause in Germany. The
elector was also against Luther's going to Rome, and desired of
cardinal cajetan, that he might be heard before him, as the
pope's legate in Germany.
Upon these addresses, the
pope consented that the cause should be tried before
cardinal cajetan, to whom he had given power to decide it.
Luther, therefore, set off immediately for Augsburg, and carried with him letters from the elector. He arrived here in October, 1518, and, upon an assurance of his safety, was admitted into the cardinal's presence. But Luther was soon convinced that he had more to fear from the cardinal's power than from disputations of any kind; and, therefore, apprehensive of being seized if he did not submit, withdrew from Augsburg upon the twentieth.
But, before his departure, he published a formal appeal to the
pope, and finding himself protected by the elector, continued to teach the same
doctrines at Wittenberg, and sent a challenge to all the inquisitors to come and
dispute with him.
Luther, miltitius, the pope's chamberlain,
had orders to require the elector to oblige him to retract, or to deny him his
protection: but things were not now to be carried with so high a hand, Luther's
credit being too firmly established. Besides, the emperor Maximilian happened to
die upon the twelfth of this month, whose death greatly altered the face of
affairs, and made the elector more able to determine Luther's fate. Miltitius
thought it best, therefore, to try what could be done by fair and gentle means,
and to that end came to some conference with Luther.
During all these treaties, the doctrine of
spread, and prevailed greatly; and he himself received great encouragement at
home and abroad. The Bohemians about this time sent him a book of the celebrated
John Huss, who had fallen a martyr in the work of reformation; and also letters,
in which they exhorted him to constancy and perseverance, owning that the
divinity which he taught was the pure, sound, and orthodox divinity. Many great
and learned men had joined themselves to him.
In 1519, he had a famous dispute at Leipsic with
John Eccius. But this dispute ended at length like all others, the parties not
the least nearer in opinion, but more at enmity with each other's persons.
About the end of this year,
Luther published a
book, in which he contended for the Communion being celebrated in both kinds;
which was condemned by the bishop of Misnia, January 24, 1520.
While Luther was laboring to excuse himself to the new emperor and the bishops of Germany, Eccius had gone to Rome, to solicit his condemnation; which, it may easily be conceived, was now become not difficult to be attained. Indeed the continual importunities of Luther's adversaries with leo, caused him at length to publish a formal condemnation of him, and he did so accordingly, in a bull, dated June 15, 1520.
This was carried into Germany, and
published there by Eccius, who had solicited it at Rome; and who, together with
jerome alexander, a person eminent for his learning and eloquence, was intrusted
by the pope with the execution of it. In the meantime, Charles V of Spain, after
he had set things to rights in the Low Countries, went into Germany, and was
crowned emperor, October the twenty-first at Aix-la-Chapelle.
Luther, after he had been
Rome upon a Thursday by the
pope's censure, he shortly after
his journey toward Worms, where the said Luther, appearing before the emperor
and all the states of Germany, constantly stuck to the truth, defended himself,
and answered his adversaries.
was lodged, well entertained, and visited by
many earls, barons, knights of the order, gentlemen, priests, and the
commonalty, who frequented his lodging until night.
He came, contrary to the expectation of many, as
well adversaries as others. His friends deliberated together, and many persuaded
him not to adventure himself to such a present danger, considering how these
beginnings answered not the faith of promise made. Who, when he had heard their
whole persuasion and advice, answered in this wise: "As touching me, since
I am sent for, I am resolved and certainly determined to enter Worms, in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yea, although I knew there were as many devils to
resist me as there are tiles to cover the houses in Worms."
The next day, the herald brought him from his
lodging to the emperor's court, where he abode until six o'clock, for that the
princes were occupied in grave consultations; abiding there, and being environed
with a great number of people, and almost smothered for the press that was
there. Then after, when the princes were set, and Luther entered, Eccius, the
official, spake in this manner: "Answer now to the Emperor's demand. Wilt
thout maintain all thy books which thou hast acknowledged, or revoke any part of
them, and submit thyself?"
Martin Luther answered modestly and lowly, and yet
not without some stoutness of stomach, and Christian constancy.
"Considering your sovereign majesty, and your honors, require a plain
answer; this I say and profess as resolutely as I may, without doubting or
sophistication, that if I be not convinced by testimonies of the Scriptures (for
I believe not the pope, neither his general councils, which have erred many
times, and have been contrary to themselves), my conscience is so bound and
captivated in these Scriptures and the Word of God, that I will not, nor may not
revoke any manner of thing; considering it is not godly or lawful to do anything
against conscience. Hereupon I stand and rest: I have not what else to say. God
have mercy upon me!"
The princes consulted together upon this answer
given by Luther; and when they had diligently examined the same, the prolucutor
began to repel him thus:
Luther, turning to the emperor and the nobles,
besought them not to force or compel him to yield against his conscience,
confirmed with the Holy Scriptures, without manifest arguments alleged to the
contrary by his adversaries. "I am tied by the Scriptures."
Before the Diet of Worms was dissolved, Charves V
caused an edict to be drawn up, which was dated the eighth of May, and decreed
that Martin Luther be, agreeably to the sentence of the pope, henceforward
looked upon as a member separated from the Church, a schismatic, and an
obstinate and notorious heretic. While the bull of
leo X executed by Charles V
was thundering throughout the empire,
Luther was safely shut up in the castle of
Wittenberg; but weary at length of his retirement, he appeared publicly again at
Wittenberg, March 6, 1522, after he had been absent about ten months.
Luther now made open war with the
pope and bishops;
and, that he might make the people despise their authority as much as possible,
he wrote one book against the
pope's bull, and another against the order falsely
called "The Order of Bishops." He published also a translation of the
New Testament in the German tongue, which was afterward corrected by himself and
Affairs were now in great confusion in Germany; and
they were not less so in Italy, for a quarrel arose between the
pope and the
emperor, during which Rome was twice taken, and the pope imprisoned. While the
princes were thus employed in quarrelling with each other, Luther persisted in
carrying on the work of the Reformation, as well by opposing the papists, as by
combating the Anabaptists and other fanatical sects; which, having taken the
advantage of his contest with the
church of rome, had sprung up and established
themselves in several places.
Luther was suddenly seized with a
coagulation of the blood about the heart, which had like to have put an end to
his life. The troubles of Germany being not likely to have any end, the emperor
was forced to call a diet at Spires, in 1529, to require the assistance of the
princes of the empire against the Turks. Fourteen cities, viz., Strassburg,
Nuremberg, Ulm, Constance, Retlingen, Windsheim, Memmingen, Lindow, Kempten,
Hailbron, Isny, Weissemburg, Nortlingen, S. Gal, joined against the decree of
the Diet protestation, which was put into writing, and published April, 1529.
This was the famous protestation, which gave the name of "Protestants"
to the reformers in Germany.
After this, the Protestant princes labored to make
a firm league and enjoined the elector of Saxony and his allies to approve of
what the Diet had done; but the deputies drew up an appeal, and the Protestants
afterwards presented an apology for their "Confession"-that famous
confession which was drawn up by the temperate Melancthon, as also the apology.
These were signed by a variety of princes, and Luther had now nothing else to
do, but to sit down and contemplate the mighty work he had finished: for that a
single monk should be able to give the
church of rome so rude a shock, that
there needed but such another entirely to overthrow it, may be well esteemed a
Luther wrote a consolatory epistle to the
citizens of Oschatz, who had suffered some hardships for adhering to the
Augsburg confession of faith: and in 1534, the Bible translated by him into
German was first printed, as the old privilege, dated at Bibliopolis, under the
elector's own hand, shows; and it was published in the year after. He also
published this year a book, "Against Masses and the Consecration of
In February, 1537, an assembly was held at Smalkald
about matters of religion, to which Luther and Melancthon were called. At this
meeting Luther was seized with so grievous an illness that there was no hope of
his recovery. As he was carried along he made his will, in which he bequeathed
his detestation of
popery to his friends and brethren. In this manner was he
employed until his death, which happened in 1546.
That year, accompanied by Melancthon, he paid a visit to his own country, which he had not seen for many years, and returned again in safety. But soon after, he was called there again by the earls of Manfelt, to compose some differences which had arisen about their boundaries, where he was received by one hundred horsemen, or more, and conducted in a very honorable manner; but was at the same time so very ill that it was feared he would die.
He said that these fits of sickness often came upon him, when he had
any great business to undertake. Of this, however, he did not recover, but died
in February 18, in his sixty-third year. A little before he expired, he
admonished those that were about him to pray to God for the propagation of the
Gospel, "Because," said he, "the Council of Trent, which had set
once or twice, and the
pope, will devise strange things against it."
Feeling his fatal hour to approach, before nine o'clock in the morning, he
commended himself to God with this devout prayer:
"My heavenly Father, eternal and merciful God!
Thou hast manifested unto me Thy dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I have taught
Him, I have known Him; I love Him as my life, my health and my redemption; Whom
the wicked have persecuted, maligned, and with injury afflicted. Draw my soul to
After this he said as ensueth, thrice: "I
commend my spirit into Thy hands, Thou hast redeemed me, O God of Truth! 'God so
loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish, but have life everlasting.'" Having repeated
oftentimes his prayers, he was called to God. So praying, his innocent ghost
peaceably was separated from the earthly body.
The general persecutions in Germany were
principally occasioned by the doctrines and ministry of
Martin Luther. Indeed,
pope was so terrified at the success of that courageous reformer, that he
determined to engage the emperor, Charles V, at any rate, in the scheme to
attempt their extirpation.
He gave the emperor two hundred thousand crowns in ready money.
He promised to maintain twelve thousand foot, and five thousand horse, for
the space of six months, or during a campaign.
He allowed the emperor to receive one half the revenues of the clergy of the
empire during the war.
He permitted the emperor to pledge the abbey lands for five hundred thousand
crowns, to assist in carrying on hostilities against the Protestants.
Thus prompted and
supported, the emperor undertook the extirpation of the Protestants, against
whom, indeed, he was particularly enraged himself; and, for this purpose, a
formidable army was raised in Germany, Spain, and Italy.
The Protestant princes, in
the meantime, formed a powerful confederacy, in order to repel the impending
blow. A great army was raised, and the command given to the elector of Saxony,
and the landgrave of Hesse. The imperial forces were commanded by the emperor of
Germany in person, and the eyes of all Europe were turned on the event of the
At length the armies met,
and a desperate engagement ensued, in which the Protestants were defeated, and
the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse both taken prisoners. This
fatal blow was succeeded by a horrid persecution, the severities of which were
such that exile might be deemed a mild fate, and concealment in a dismal wood
pass for happiness. In such times a cave is a palace, a rock a bed of down, and
wild roots delicacies.
Those who were taken
experienced the most cruel tortures that infernal imaginations could invent; and
by their constancy evinced that a real Christian can surmount every difficulty,
and despite every danger acquire a crown of martyrdom.
being apprehended as Protestants, were brought to examination.
for himself and the other, gave the following answers to some questions asked by
a priest, who examined them by order of the magistracy.
Priest. Were you not both,
some years ago, Augustine friars?
Priest. How came you to
quit the bosom of the
church at rome?
Voes. On account of her
Priest. In what do you
Voes. In the Old and New
Priest. Do you believe in
the writings of the fathers, and the decrees of the Councils?
Voes. Yes, if they agree
Priest. Did not Martin
Luther seduce you both?
Voes. He seduced us even
in the very same manner as Christ seduced the apostles; that is, he made us
sensible of the frailty of our bodies, and the value of our souls.
This examination was
sufficient. They were both condemned to the flames, and soon after suffered with
that manly fortitude which becomes Christians when they receive a crown of
Sutphen, an eloquent
and pious preacher, was taken out of his bed in the middle of the night, and
compelled to walk barefoot a considerable way, so that his feet were terribly
cut. He desired a horse, but his conductors said, in derision, "A horse for
a heretic! no heretics may go barefoot." When he arrived at the place
of his destination, he was condemned to be burnt; but, during the execution,
many indignities were offered him, as those who attended not content with what
he suffered in the flames, cut and slashed him in a most terrible manner.
Many were murdered at
Halle; Middleburg being taken by storm all the Protestants were put to the
great numbers were burned at Vienna.
An officer being sent to put a minister to death, pretended, when he came to the clergyman's house, that his intentions were only to pay him a visit. The minister, not suspecting the intended cruelty, entertained his supposed guest in a very cordial manner. As soon as dinner was over, the officer said to some of his attendants,
this clergyman, and hang him." The attendants themselves were so shocked
after the civility they had seen, that they hesitated to perform the commands of
their master; and the minister said,
"Think what a sting will remain on
your conscience, for thus violating the laws of hospitality." The officer,
however, insisted upon being obeyed, and the attendants, with reluctance,
performed the execrable office of executioners.
Spengler, a pious
divine, of the town of Schalet, was thrown into the river, and drowned. Before
he was taken to the banks of the stream which was to become his grave, they led
him to the market place that his crimes might be proclaimed; which were, not
going to Mass, not making confession, and not believing in transubstantiation.
After this ceremony was over, he made a most excellent discourse to the people,
and concluded with a kind hymn, of a very edifying nature.
A Protestant gentleman being ordered to lose his head for not renouncing his religion, went cheerfully to the place of execution. A friar came to him, and said these words in a low tone of voice, "As you have a great reluctance publicly to abjure your faith, whisper your confession in my ear, and I will absolve your sins." To this the gentleman loudly replied,
"Trouble me not, friar, I have confessed
my sins to God, and obtained absolution through the merits of Jesus
Christ." Then turning to the executioner, he said,
"Let me not be
pestered with these men, but perform your duty," on which his head was
struck off at a single blow.
John Huglin, two worthy ministers, were burned, as was
Leonard Keyser, a student of
the University of Wertembergh; and
George Carpenter, a Bavarian, was hanged for
refusing to recant Protestantism.
The persecutions in
Germany having subsided many years, again broke out in 1630, on account of the
war between the emperor and the king of Sweden, for the latter was a Protestant
prince, and consequently the Protestants of Germany espoused his cause, which
greatly exasperated the emperor against them.
The imperialists having
laid siege to the town of Passewalk, (which was defended by the Swedes) took it
by storm, and committed the most horrid cruelties on the occasion. They pulled
down the churches, burnt the houses, pillaged the properties, massacred the
ministers, put the garrison to the sword, hanged the townsmen, ravished the
women, smothered the children, etc., etc.
A most bloody tragedy was
transacted at Magdeburg, in the year 1631. The generals
tilly and pappenheim,
having taken that Protestant city by storm, upwards of
twenty thousand persons,
without distinction of rank, sex, or age, were slain during the carnage, and
thousand were drowned in attempting to escape over the river Elbe. After this
fury had subsided, the
remaining inhabitants were stripped naked, severely
scourged, had their ears cropped, and being yoked together like oxen were turned
The town of Hoxter was
taken by the
popish army, and
all the inhabitants
as well as the garrison were
put to the sword; the houses even were set on fire, the bodies being consumed in
Gripenberg, when the
imperial forces prevailed, they shut up the senators
in the senate chamber, and
surrounding it by lighted straw suffocated them.
The cruelties used by the
imperial troops, under
count silly in Saxony, are thus enumerated.
Half strangled, and recovering the persons were again on a repeated bases rolled with sharp wheels over the fingers and toes. And pinching the thumbs in a vice, and forcing the most filthy things down the throat, by which many were choked. Tying cords round the head so tightly that the blood gushed out of the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Fastening burning matches to the fingers, toes, ears, arms, legs, and even the tongue.
Putting powder in the mouth and setting fire to it, by which the head was shattered to pieces. Tying bags of powder to all parts of the body, by which the person was blown up. Drawing cords backwards and forwards through the fleshy parts. Making incisions with bodkins and knives in the skin. Running wires through the nose, ears, lips, etc.
Hanging Protestants up by the legs, with their heads over a fire, by which they were smoke dried. Hanging up by one arm until it was dislocated. Hanging upon hooks by the ribs. Forcing people to drink until they burst. Baking many in hot ovens. Fixing weights to the feet, and drawing up several with pulleys.
Hanging, stifling, roasting, stabbing, frying, racking,
ravishing, ripping open, breaking the bones, rasping off the flesh, tearing with
wild horses, drowning, strangling, burning, broiling, crucifying, immuring,
poisoning, cutting off tongues, noses, ears, etc., sawing off the limbs, hacking
to pieces, and drawing by the heels through the streets.
The enormous cruelties
a perpetual stain on the memory of
count villy, who not only committed,
but even commanded the troops to put them in practice. Wherever he came, the
most horrid barbarities and cruel depredations ensued: famine and conflagration
marked his progress: for he destroyed all the provisions he could not take with
him, and burnt all the towns before he left them; so that the full result of his
conquests were murder, poverty, and desolation.
aged and pious divine
they stripped naked, tied him on his back upon a table, and fastened a large,
fierce cat upon his belly. They then pricked and tormented the cat in such a
manner that the creature with rage tore his belly open, and gnawed his bowels.
minister and his
family were seized by these inhuman monsters; they ravished his wife and
daughter before his face; stuck his infant son upon the point of a lance, and
then surrounding him with his whole library of books, they set fire to them, and
he was consumed in the midst of the flames.
In Hesse-Cassel some of
the troops entered
an hospital, in which were principally mad women, when
stripping all the poor wretches naked, they made them run about the streets for
their diversion, and then put them all to death.
Pomerania, some of the
imperial troops entering a small town, seized upon
all the young women, and
girls of upwards of ten years, and then placing their parents in a circle, they
ordered them to sing Psalms, while they ravished their children, or else they
swore they would cut them to pieces afterward. They then took
all the married
women who had young children, and threatened, if they did not consent to the
gratification of their lusts, to burn their children before their faces in a
large fire, which they had kindled for that purpose.
A band of
soldiers meeting a company of merchants belonging to Basel, who were returning
from the great market of Strassburg, attempted to surround them; all escaped,
however, but ten, leaving their properties behind. The ten who were taken begged
hard for their lives: but the soldiers murdered them saying, "You must die
because you are heretics, and have got no money."
The same soldiers met with
two countesses, who, together with some young ladies, the daughters of one of
them, were taking an airing in a landau. The soldiers spared their lives, but
treated them with the greatest indecency, and having stripped them all stark
naked, bade the coachman drive on.
By means and mediation of
Great Britain, peace was at length restored to Germany, and the Protestants
remained unmolested for several years, until some new disturbances broke out in
the Palatinate, which were thus occasioned:
The great Church of the
Holy Ghost, at Heidelberg, had, for many years, been shared equally by the
roman catholics in this manner: the Protestants performed divine
service in the nave or body of the church; and the
roman catholics celebrated
mass in the choir. Though this had been the custom from time immemorial, the
elector of the Palatinate, at length, took it into his head not to suffer it any
longer, declaring, that as Heidelberg was the place of his residence, and the
Church of the Holy Ghost the cathedral of his principal city, divine service
ought to be performed only according to the rites of the church of which he was
a member. He then forbade the Protestants to enter the church, and put the
papists in possession of the whole.
The aggrieved people applied to the Protestant powers for redress, which so much exasperated the elector, that he suppressed the Heidelberg catechism. The Protestant powers, however, unanimously agreed to demand satisfaction, as the elector, by this conduct, had broken an article of the treaty of Westphalia; and the courts of Great Britain, Prussia, Holland, etc., sent deputies to the elector, to represent the injustice of his proceedings, and to threaten, unless he changed his behavior to the Protestants in the Palatinate, that they would treat their roman catholic subjects with the greatest severity.
Many violent disputes took place between the Protestant powers and those of the elector, and these were greatly augmented by the following incident: the coach of the Dutch minister standing before the door of the resident sent by the prince of Hesse, the host was by chance being carried to a sick person; the coachman took not the least notice, which those who attended the host observing, pulled him from his box, and compelled him to kneel.
This violence to the domestic of a public minister
was highly resented by all the Protestant deputies; and still more to heighten
these differences, the Protestants presented to the deputies three additional
articles of complaint.
1. That military
executions were ordered against all Protestant shoemakers who should refuse to
contribute to the Masses of St. Crispin.
2. that the
Protestants were forbid to work on
days, even in harvest time, under
very heavy penalties, which occasioned great inconveniences, and considerably
prejudiced public business.
3. That several
Protestant ministers had been dispossessed of their churches, under pretence of
their having been originally founded and built by
The Protestant deputies at length became so serious as to intimate to the elector, that force of arms should compel him to do the justice he denied to their representations. This menace brought him to reason, as he well knew the impossibility of carrying on a war against the powerful states who threatened him. He therefore agreed that the body of the Church of the Holy Ghost should be restored to the Protestants.
restored the Heidelberg catechism, put the Protestant ministers again in
possession of the churches of which they had been dispossessed, allowed the
Protestants to work on
popish holy days, and, ordered, that no person should be
molested for not kneeling when the
host passed by.
These things he did
through fear; but to show his resentment to his Protestant subjects, in other
circumstances where Protestant states had no right to interfere, he totally
abandoned Heidelberg, removing all the courts of justice to Mannheim, which was
entirely inhabited by
roman catholics. He likewise built a new palace there,
making it his place of residence; and, being followed by the
roman catholics of
Heidelberg, Mannheim became a flourishing place.
In the meantime the
Protestants of Heidelberg sunk into poverty and many of them became so
distressed as to quit their native country, and seek an asylum in Protestant
states. A great number of these coming into England, in the time of Queen Anne,
were cordially received there, and met with a most humane assistance, both by
public and private donations.
In 1732, above
thousand Protestants were, contrary to the treaty of Westphalia, driven from the
archbishopric of Salzburg. They went away in the depth of winter, with scarcely
enough clothes to cover them, and without provisions, not having permission to
take anything with them. The cause of these poor people not being publicly
espoused by such states as could obtain them redress, they emigrated to various
Protestant countries, and settled in places where they could enjoy the free
exercise of their religion, without hurting their consciences, and live free
from the trammels of
popish superstition, and the chains of papal tyranny.
One more record to be added in the annals of history, a barbarian named Marten Luther, who had seated himself in the seat of the scriptures, but did not himself practice the same. Moreover he had a split tongue, on the one praising God, on the other blaspheming His name in a most vile manner.