“With this noble protest was laid the keystone of the Reformation. The pontifical hierarchy shook to its centre, and the great cause of truth and regenerate religion spread with electric speed. The marble tomb of ignorance and error gave way, as it were, of a sudden; a thousand glorious events and magnificent discoveries thronged upon each other with pressing haste to behold and congratulate the mighty birth, the new creation, of which they were the harbingers, when, with a steady and triumphant step, the peerless form of human intellect rose erect, and, throwing off from its freshening limbs the death-shade and the grave-clothes by which it was enshrouded, ascended to the glorious resurrection of that noontide lustre which irradiates the horizon of our own day, rejoicing like a giant to run his race.”—John Mason Good’s Book of Nature, p. 321.
After Luther and his friends left Worms the emperor issued an edict putting him and all his adherents under the ban of the empire, forbidding any one to give him food or shelter, calling on all who found him to arrest him, commanding all his books to be burned, and ordering the seizure of his friends and the confiscation of their possessions.
It was what Germany got for putting an Austro-Spanish bigot on the Imperial throne.
LUTHER IN THE WARTBURG.
But the cause of Rome was not helped by it. Luther’s person was made safe by the Elector, who arranged a friendly capture by which he was concealed in the Wartburg in charge of the knights.
No one knew what had become of him. His mysterious disappearance was naturally referred to some foul play of the Romanists, and the feeling of resentment was intense and deep. Indeed, Germany was now bent on throwing off the religion of the hierarchy. No matter what it may once have been, no matter what service it may have rendered in helping Europe through the Dark Ages, it had become gangrened, perverted, rotten, offensive, unbearable. The very means Rome took to defend it increased revolt against it. It had come to be an oppressive lie, and it had to go. No Bulls of popes or edicts of emperors could alter the decree of destiny.
And a great and blessed fortune it was that Luther still lived to guide and counsel in the momentous transition. But Providence had endowed him for the purpose, and so preserved him for its execution. What was born with the Theses, and baptized before the Imperial Diet at Worms, he was now to nourish, educate, catechise, and prepare for glorious confirmation before a similar Diet in the after years.