Note 1. Colton’s Genius of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, &c., p. 151.
Note 2. Vol. ii., p. 498.
Note 3. Luther was a faithful papist until he was upwards of thirty years did, when he began to protest against the errors of Rome.
In forming an idea of the estimate which should be placed on the Augsburg Confession, as an expression of the results attained by the biblical studies of Luther, Melancthon and their associates, at the date of the diet in 1530; much depends on the question, whether the circumstances under which it was prepared, and the design for which it was intended, were favorable to a free and full exhibition of their views. The affirmative of this question has often been declared in this country; but the contrary is incontestably established by authentic history, as well as by the declarations of the Reformers themselves. The diet, it will be remembered, was appointed by the Emperor of Germany, Charles V., for the purpose of settling the controversies between the Pope and the Protestant princes of his empire, as well as for other political purposes. The place selected was the City of Augsburg, in Bavaria, about two hundred English miles from Wittenberg, and about ninety miles from Coburg, where Luther was left by the Elector during the diet. [Note 1] The Pope had long been urging the emperor to adopt violent measures for the suppression of the Protestants. He fondly anticipated that a deathblow would now be given to the Protestant cause, and with which party the emperor would side was not fully known, although, being a Romanist, little favor could be expected by the Confessors. The Confession was composed by Melancthon out of the Torgau Articles, at Augsburg, where he and the Elector John, with his retinue, arrived on the 2d of May. On the 10th of May, it was sent to Luther, at Coburg, for his revision, and he returned it with his approbation on the 16th, remarking, “I have read Philip’s Apology (the Confession,) and am very well (fast wohl, an obsolete meaning of the term “fast,”) pleased with it. I know nothing to improve or alter at it; nor would it be suitable, as I cannot tread so softly and lightly.” [Note 2] As the emperor did not arrive until about a month later, Melancthon continued to make various alterations, to render the Confession more acceptable to the Romanists; for the fears of the Protestants were greatly excited, as will appear by the following extracts from Melancthon’s own letters, penned at this eventful period.
In a letter to Luther, dated Augsburg, June 15th, Melancthon says, “On the day before Corpus Christi festival, at 8 o’clock, P. M., the emperor arrived at Augsburg. From the imperial court, it appears, we have nothing to expect; for the sole object which Campegius seeks to accomplish, is that we should be suppressed by force. Nor is there any one in the emperor’s entire court, who is milder than he himself.” [Note 3] This was indeed a gloomy prospect, for they were entirely at the mercy of their emperor. He could reenact the scenes of the previous century, and send them, like Huss and Jerome, to the dungeon and the stake.