The first act of the emperor was to summon the protesting princes before him, asking of them the withdrawal of their Protest. This they refused. They felt that they had constitutional right, founded on the decision of Spire, to resist the emperor’s demand; and they did not intend to surrender the just principles put forth in their noble Protest. They celebrated divine service in their quarters, led by their own clergy, and refused to join in the procession at the Roman festival of Corpus Christi. This gave much offence, and for the sake of peace they discontinued their services during the Diet.
At length they were asked to make their doctrinal presentation. Melanchthon had admirably performed the work assigned him in the making up of the Confession, and on the 25th day of June, 1530, the document, duly signed, was read aloud to the emperor in the hearing of many.
The effect of it upon the assembly was indescribable. Many of the prejudices and false notions against the Reformers were effectually dissipated. The enemies of the Reformation felt that they had solemn realities to deal with which they had never imagined. Others said that this was a more effectual preaching than that which had been suppressed. “Christ is in the Diet,” said Justus Jonas, “and he does not keep silence. God’s Word cannot be bound.” In a word, the world now had added to it one of its greatest treasures—the renowned and imperishable AUGSBURG CONFESSION.
Luther was eager for tidings of what transpired at the Diet. And when the Confession came, as signed and delivered, he wrote: “I thrill with joy that I have lived to see the hour in which Christ is preached by so many confessors to an assembly so illustrious in a form so beautiful.”
Even Reformed authors, from Calvin down, have cheerfully added their testimony to the worth and excellence of this magnificent Confession—the first since the Athanasian Creed. A late writer of this class says of it that “it best exhibits the prevailing genius of the German Reformation, and will ever be cherished as one of the noblest monuments of faith from the pentecostal period of Protestantism.”
The Romanists attempted to answer the noble Confession, but would not make their Confutation public. Compromises were proposed, but they came to naught. The Imperial troops were called into the city and the gates closed to intimidate the princes, but it resulted in greater alarm to the Romanists than to them. The confessors had taken their stand, and they were not to be moved from it. The Diet ended with the decision that they should have until the following spring to determine whether they would submit to the Roman Church or not, and, if not, that measures would then be taken for their extermination.