The signers of this Protest also pledged to each other their mutual support in defending their position. Zwingli urged them to make war upon the emperor. He himself afterward took the sword, and perished by it. Calvin, Cranmer, Knox, and even the Puritan Fathers as far as they had power and occasion, resorted to physical force and the civil arm to punish the rejecters of their creed. Luther repudiated all such coercion. The sword was at his command, but he opposed its use for any purposes of religion. All the weight of his great influence was given to prevent his friends from mixing external force with what should ever have its seat only in the calm conviction of the soul. He thus practically anticipated Roger Williams and William Penn and the most lauded results of modern freedom—not from constraint of circumstances and personal interests, but from his own clear insight into Gospel principles. Bloody religious wars came after he was dead, the prospect of which filled his soul with horror, and to which he could hardly give consent even in case of direst necessity for self-defence; but it is a transcendent fact that while he lived they were held in abeyance, most of all by his prayers and endeavors. He fought, indeed, as few men ever fought, but the only sword he wielded was “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
THE CONFESSION OF AUGSBURG.
And yet another Imperial Diet was convened with reference to these religious disturbances. It was held in Augsburg in the spring of 1530. The emperor was in the zenith of his power. He had overcome his French rival. He had spoiled Rome, humbled the pope, and reorganized Italy. The Turks had withdrawn their armies. And the only thing in the way of a consolidated empire was the Reformation in Germany. To crush this was now his avowed purpose, and he anticipated no great hardship in doing it. He entered Augsburg with unwonted magnificence and pomp. He had spoken very graciously in his invitation to the princes, but it was in his heart to compel their submission to his former Edict of Worms. It behoved them to be prepared to make a full exhibit of their principles, giving the ultimatum on which they proposed to stand.
Luther had been formulating articles embodying the points adhered to in his reformatory teachings. He had prepared one set for the Marburg Conference with the Swiss divines. He had revised and elaborated these into the Seventeen Articles of Schwabach. He had also prepared another series on abuses, submitted to the Elector John at Torgau. All these were now committed to Melanchthon for careful elaboration into complete style and harmony for use at the Diet. Luther assisted in this work up to the time when the Diet convened, and what remained to be done was completed in Augsburg by Melanchthon and the Lutheran divines present with him. Luther himself could not be there, as he was a dead man to the law, and by command of his prince was detained at Coburg while the Diet was in session.