Luther and the Reformation: eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 145 pages of information about Luther and the Reformation:.

The emperor’s edict appeared November 19th, and the Protestant princes at once proceeded to form a league for mutual protection against attempts to force their consciences in these sacred matters.  It was with difficulty that the consent of Luther could be obtained for what, to him, looked like an arrangement to support the Gospel by the sword.  But he yielded to a necessity forced by the intolerance of Rome.  A convention was held at Smalcald at Christmas, 1530, and there was formed the League of Smalcald, which planted the political foundations of Religious Liberty for our modern world.

By the presentation of the great Confession of Augsburg, along with the formation of the League of Smalcald, the cause of Luther became embodied in the official life of nations, and the new era of Freedom had come safely to its birth.  Long and terrible storms were yet to be passed, but the ship was launched which no thunders of emperors or popes could ever shatter.[17]

When the months of probation ended, France had again become troublesome to the emperor, and the Turks were renewing their movements against his dominions.  He also found that he could not count on the Catholic princes for the violent suppression of the Protestants.  Luther’s doctrines had taken too deep hold upon their subjects to render it safe to join in a war of extermination against them.

The Zwinglians also coalesced with the Lutherans in presenting a united front against the threatened bloody coercion.  The Smalcald League, moreover, had grown to be a power which even the emperor could not despise.  He therefore resolved to come to terms with the Protestant members of his empire, and a peace—­at least a truce—­was concluded at Nuremberg, which left things as they were to wait until a general council should settle the questions in dispute.


[17] “The Reformation of Luther kindled up the minds of men afresh, leading to new habits of thought and awakening in individuals energies before unknown to themselves.  The religious controversies of this period changed society, as well as religion, and to a considerable extent, where they did not change the religion of the state, they changed man himself in his modes of thought, his consciousness of his own powers, and his desire of intellectual attainment.  The spirit of commercial and foreign adventure on the one hand and, on the other the assertion and maintenance of religious liberty, having their source in the Reformation, and this love of religious liberty drawing after it or bringing along with it, as it always does, an ardent devotion to the principle of civil liberty also, were the powerful influences under which character was formed and men trained for the great work of introducing English civilization, English law, and, what is more than all, Anglo-Saxon blood, into the wilderness of North America.”—­Daniel Webster, Works, vol. i. p. 94.

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Luther and the Reformation: from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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