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BARON VON BUNSEN
(CHRISTIAN KARL JOSIAS, BARON VON BUNSEN)
TRACE the firm path of God through the stream of the ages” was the definite purpose of Bunsen's extraordinary
studies, which resulted in such works as “God in History, « The Constitution of the Church of the Future, and «Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal History as Applied to Language and Religion.” He was born at Corbach, Waldeck, Germany, August 25th, 1791. His family was poor, and at the University of Göttingen he was obliged to support himself by serving as private tutor to a wealthy American student, a member of the Astor family of New York. An essay on “The Athenian Law of Inhe itance
won him the Göttingen prize for 1812, and an unsolicited degree from the University of Jena followed it. The promise of his university life was well kept. He became a profound scholar,- one of the most distinguished men of the first half of the nineteenth century. From 1818 to 1854 he was in the diplomatic service of Germany in Rome, Switzerland, and London. In 1844 the king of Prussia asked his advice on making the changes in the constitution demanded by the advocates of parliamentary government. Bunsen recommended concessions such as the German people afterwards extorted, but his advice was not taken. He was of an intensely religious nature, and on his death, November 28th, 1860, his widow used as his epitaph the text from Isaiah, “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
LUTHER AT WORMS
THE years 1519, 1520, 1521 were the time of a fierce but tri.
Tumphant" struggle with the hitherto irresistible power of
Rome, soon openly supported by the empire. The first two of these years passed in public conferences and disputations at Leipsic and elsewhere, with Eck and other Romanist doctors, in which Luther was seconded by the eloquence of the ardent and acute Carlstadt, as well as by the learning and argumentative powers of Melanchthon. People and princes took more and more part in the dispute, and the controversy widened from day to day. Luther openly declared that Huss was right on a great many points, and had been unjustly condemned. Wittenberg became crowded with students and inquirers, who flocked there from all sides. Luther not only continued his lectures, but wrote during this period his most important expositions and commentaries on the New Testament — beginning with the Epistle to the Galatians (September, 1519), which he used to call his own epistle. During the second year (1520) the first great political crisis occurred, on occasion of the death of Maximilian, and ended fatally, in consequence of the total want of patriotic and political wisdom among the German princes. The elector of Saxony was offered, by one of the most eminent and influential of his colleagues, the archbishop of Treves, to be chosen emperor, but had not the courage to accept a dignity which he supposed to require for its support a more powerful house than his own. Of all the political acts which may be designated, with Dante, ugran vil rifiato, this was the greatest and most to be regretted, supposing the elector to have been wise and courageous enough to give the knights and cities their proper share in the government, and patriotic enough to make the common good his own.
The German writers have called the elector Frederic “the Wise,” particularly also with regard to this question. But long before Ranke pointed out the political elements then existing for an effective improvement of the miserable German constitution, Justus Möser of Osnabrück had prophetically uttered the real truth — "if the emperor at that time had destroyed the feudal system, this deed would have been, according to the spirit in which it was done, the grandest or the blackest in the history of the world.” Möser means that if the emperor had embraced the Reformed faith, and placed himself at the head of the lower nobility and the cities, united in one body as the lower house of a German parliament, this act would have saved Germany. But we ought to go further and say, to expect such a revolution from a Spanish king was simply absurd. Frederic alone could, and probably would, have been led into that course, just because he had nothing to rely upon except the German nation, then more numerous and powerful than it ever has been since. The so-called capitulations of the empire, which were accepted by Charles, contained not the slightest guarantee against religious encroachments on the side of Rome.
The emperor agreed at last to the proposal of the elector Frederic, and convened a diet at Worms for the sixth of January, 1521, where the two questions of religion and of a reform in the constitution of the empire were to be treated. Luther, though in a suffering state of health, resolved immediately to appear when summoned. "If the emperor calls, it is God's call — I must go: if I am too weak to go in good health, I shall have myself carried thither sick. They will not have my blood, after which they thirst, unless it is God's will. Two things I cannot doshrink from the call nor retract my opinions.” The nuncio and his party, on their side, moved heaven and earth to procure Luther's condemnation, and threatened the Germans with extermination, saying, "We shall excite the one to fight against the other, that all may perish in their own blood ” — a threat which such politicians have carried out to the best of their power during two hundred years. The emperor permitted the nuncio to appear officially in the diet, and to try to convince the princes of the empire there assembled. Alexander tried in vain to communicate to the assembly his theological hatred, or to obtain that Luther should be condemned as one judged by the pope, his books burned and his adherents persecuted. The impression produced by his powerful harangue was only transitory; even princes who hated Luther personally would not allow his person and writings and the general cause of reform to be confounded, and all crushed together. The abuses and exactions of Rome were too crying. A committee, appointed by the diet, presented a list of one hundred and one grievances of the German nation against Rome. This startled the emperor, who, instead of ordering Luther's books to be burned, issued only a provisional order that they should be delivered to the magistrates. When Luther heard of the measures preparing against him, he composed one of his most admirable treatises, “The Exposition of the Magnificat, or the Canticle of the Virgin Mary.” He soon learned what he was expected to retract. « If that is meant, I remain where I am; if the emperor will call me to have me put to death, I shall go.” The emperor summoned him, indeed, on the sixth of March, 1521, to appear before him, and granted him at last a safe-conduct, on which all his friends insisted. Luther, in spite of all warnings, set out with the imperial herald on the second of April. Everywhere on the road he saw the imperial edict against his book posted up, but witnessed also the hearty sympathies of the nation. At Erfurt the herald gave way to the universal request, and, against his instructions, consented to Luther's preaching a sermon none the less remarkable for not containing a single word about himself. On the sixteenth Luther entered the imperial city amid an immense concourse of people. On his approach to Worms the elector's chancellor entreated him, in the name of his master, not to enter a town where his death was decided. The answer which Luther returned was simply this: “Tell your master that if there were as many devils at Worms as tiles on its roofs, I would enter.” When surrounded by his friends on the morning of the seventeenth, on which day he was to appear before the august assembly, he said: “Christ is to me what the head of the gorgon was to Perseus: I must hold it up against the devil's attack.” When the hour approached, he fell upon his knees and uttered in great agony a prayer such as can only be pronounced by a man filled with the spirit of him who prayed at Gethsemane. Friends took down his words; and the authentic document has been published by the great historian of the Reformation. He rose from prayer and followed the herald. Before the throne he was asked two questions, Whether he acknowledged the works before him to have been written by himself, and whether he would retract what he had said in them. Luther requested to be told the titles of the books, and then, addressing the emperor, acknowledged them as his; as to the second, he asked for time to reflect, as he might otherwise confound his own opinions with the declarations of the Word of God, and either say too much or deny Christ and say too little, incurring thus the penalty which Christ had denounced — «Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” The emperor, struck by this very measured answer, which some mistook for hesitation, after a short consultation granted a day's delay for the answer, which was to be by word of mouth. Luther's resolution was taken: he only desired to convince his friends, as well as his enemies, that he did not act with precipitation at so decisive a moment. The next day he employed in prayer and meditation, making a solemn vow upon the volume of Scripture to remain faithful to the Gospel, should he have to seal his confession with his blood. Luther's address to the emperor has been preserved, and is a masterpiece of eloquence as well as of courage. Confining his answer to the first point, he said that “nobody could expect him to retract indiscriminately all he had written in those books, since even his enemies admitted that they contained much that was good and conformable to Scripture. But I have besides," he continued, "laid open the almost incredible corruptions of popery and given utterance to complaints almost universal. By retracting what I have said on this score, should I not fortify rank tyranny and open a still wider door to enormous impieties? Nor can I recall what, in my controversial writings, I have expressed with too great harshness against the supporters of popery, my opponents, lest I should give them encouragement to oppress Christian people still more. I can only say with Christ: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil.' I thank God I see how that the Gospel is in our days, as it was before, the occasion of doubt and discord. This is the doctrine of the Word of God-'I am not come to send peace, but a sword.? May this new reign not begin, and still less continue, under pernicious auspices. The Pharaohs of Egypt, the kings of Babylon and of Israel, never worked more effectually for their own ruin than when they thought to strengthen their power. I speak thus boldly, not because I think that such great princes want my advice, but because I will fulfill my duty toward Germany, as she has a right to expect from her children.” The emperor, probably in order to confound the poor monk, who, having been kept standing so long in the midst of such an assembly, and in a suffocating heat, was almost exhausted in body, ordered him to repeat the discourse in Latin. His friends told him he might excuse himself, but he rallied boldly, and pronounced his speech in Latin with the same composure and energy as at first; and to the reiterated question, whether he would retract, Luther replied: "I cannot submit my faith either to the pope or to councils, for it is clear that they have often erred and contradicted themselves. I will retract nothing, unless convicted by the very passages of the Word of God which I have quoted.” And then, looking up to the august assembly before him, he concluded, saying: «Here I take my stand; I cannot do otherwise; so help me God. Amen!” The courage of Luther made a deep impression even upon the emperor, who exclaimed: “Forsooth, the monk speaks with intrepidity, and with a confident spirit.” The chancellor of the empire said: “The emperor and the State will see