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dulgences : 2dly, That he (Luther) had been the cause of that feduction, by representing indulgences as much more heinous than they really were : 3dly, That the odious conduct of Tetzel alone, had given occasion to these representations: and 4thly, That, though the avarice of Albert, archbishop of Metz, had set on Tetzel, yet, that this rapacious tax-gatherer had exceeded by far the bounds of his cominission." These proposals were accompanied with many soothing words, with pompous encomiums on Luther's character, capacity, and talents, and with the softest and most pathetic expoftulations in favour of union and concord in an afflicted and divided church; all which Miltitz joined together with the greatest dexterity and address in order to touch and difarm the Saxon Reformer. Nor were his mild and insinuating methods of negociating without effect; and it was upon this occafion that Luther made submission: which Thewed that his views were not, as yet, very extensive, his former prejudices entirely difpelled, or his reforming principles fteddily fixed. For he not only offered to observe a profound silence for the future with respect to indulgences, provided the fame condition were imposed on his adversaries; he went much farther; he proposed writing an humble and submissive letter to the pope, acknowledging that he had carried his zeal and animosity too far; and such a letter he wrote some time after the conference at Altenburg [z]. He even consented to publish a circular letter, exhorting all his disciples and followers to reverence and obey the dictates of the holy Roman church. He declared, that his only intention in the writings he had composed, was to brand with infamy those emissaries, who abused its authority, and employed its protection as a mask to cover their abominable and impious frauds. It is true, indeed, that amidst those weak fubmifions which the impartial demands of historical truth obligeth us to relate, there was, properly speaking, no retractation of his former tenets, nor the smallest degree of respect fhewn to the infamous traffic. of indulgences. Nevertheless, the pretended majesty of the Roman church, and the authority of the Roman pontif, were treated by Luther in this transaction and in his letter to Leo, in a manner that could not naturally have been expected from a man who had already appealed from the pope to a general council.

< Had the court of Rome been prudent enough to have accepted of the submission made by Luther, they would have almost nipped, in the bud, the cause of the reformation, or would, at leaft, have considerably retarded its growth and progress. Having gained over the head, the members would, with great fa

[(z) This letter was dated the 13th of March, 1519, about twe ponths after the conference of Altenburg)

cility, cility, have been reduced to obedience. But the flaming and excessive zeal of some inconsiderate bigots renewed, happily for the truth, the divisions, which were lo near being healed, and by animating both Luther and his followers to look deeper into the enormities that prevailed in the papal hierarchy, promoted the principles and augmented the spirit, which produced, at length, the blessed [a] reformation.'

In the account which Dr. Mosheim gives of the disputes at Leipfic, in the year 1519, between Eckius and Carloftadt, we have the following character of the amiable Melancthon:

Among the spectators of this ecclefiaftical combat was Philip Melancthon, at that time, professor of Greek at Wittemberg, who had not, as yet, been involved in these divisions (as indeed the mildness of his temper and his elegant taste for polite literature rendered him averfe from disputes of this nature) though he was the intimate friend of Luther, and approved his design of delivering the pure and primitive science of theology from the darkness and subtilty of scholastic jargon[f]. As this eminent man was of those, whom this dispute with Eckius convinced of the excellence of Luther's cause; as he was, moreover, one of the illustrious and respectable inftruments of the reformation; it may not be improper to give some account here of the talents and vira tues that have rendered his name immortal. His greatest enemies have born testimony to his merit. They have been forced to acknowledge, that the annals of antiquity exhibit very few worthies, that may be compared with him ; whether we consider the extent of his knowledge in things human and divine, the fertility and elegance of his genius, the facility and quickness of his comprehension, or the uninterrupted industry that attended his learned and theological labours. He rendered to philosophy

[(a) See, for an ample account of Luther's conferences with Mil. titz, the incomparable work of Seckendorf, intituled, Commentar. Hiffor. Apologer, de Lutheranismo, five de Reformatione Religionis, &c. in which the facts relating to Luther and the reformation are deduced from the most precious and authentic manuscripts and records, contained in the library of Saxe Gotha, and in other learned and princely colle&tions, and in which, the frauds and falsehoods of Maimbourg's History of Lutheranism are fully detected and refuted. “As to Miltitz, his fate was unhappy. His moderation (which nothing but the blind zeal of some furious monks could have hindered from being

eminently serviceable to the cause of Rome) was reprefented by Eckius, as something worse than indifference about the success of his commission; and after several marks of neglect re. ceived from the pontif, he had the misfortune to lose his life in paffing the Rhine at Mentz.] ..( See Melanēthon's Letter concerning the conference at Leipsic, in Löscher's A&ta et Documenta Reformationis, tom. ii. cap. viii. p. 215.


and the liberal arts the same eminent fervice that Luther bad done to religion, by purging them from the dross with which they had been corrupted, and by recommending them, in a powerful and persuasive manner, to the Itudy of the Germans. He had the rare talent of discerning truth in all its moft intricate connexions and combinations, of comprehending, at once, the moft abstract notions, and expressing them with the utmost perspicuity and ease. And he applied this happy talent in religious disquisitions with such unparalleled success, that it may safely be af. firmed, that the cause of true Christianity derived from the learn. ing and genius of Melanahon more signal advantages and a more estectual support, than it received from any of the other doctors of the age. His love of peace and concord, which was partly owing to the sweetness of his natural temper, made him defire, with ardor, that a reformation might be effected without producing a schism in the church, and that the external communion of the contending parties might be preserved uninterrupted and entire. This spirit of mildness and charity, carried perhaps too far, led him, sometimes, to make concessions that were neither confiftent with prudence, nor advantageous to the cause in which he was engaged. It is, however, certain, that he gave no quartet to those more dangerous and momentous errors that reigned in the church of Rome, but maintained, on the contrary, that their extirpation was essentially necessary in order to the restoration of true religion. In the natural complexion of this great man there was something soft, timorous, and yielding. Hence arose a certain diffidence of himself, that not only made him examine things with the greatest attention and care before he resolved upon any measure, but also filled him with uneasy apprehensions where there was no danger, and made him fear even things that, in reality, could never happen. And yet, on the other hand, when the hour of real danger approached, when things bore a formidable aspect, and the cause of religion was in imminent peril, then this timorous man was converted, all at once, into an intrepid hero, looked danger in the face with unlhaken conftancy, and opposed bis adversaries with invincible fortitude. All this shews, that the force of truth and the power of principle had diminished the weaknefies and defects of Melancthon's natural character without entirely removing them. Had his fortitude been more uniform and steddy, his desire of reconciling all interests and pleasing all parties less vehement and excessive, his triumph over the superstitions imbibed in his infancy more compleat [8],

• [CE) By this no doubt Dr. Mofheim means the credulity this great man discovered with respect to prodigies and dreams, and his having been somewhat addicted to the pretended science of astrology.) 5


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he must deservedly have been considered, as one of the greatest among men [b].'

In his general history of the church, during the sixteenth century, Dr. Mosheim gives us the following view of the public advantages arising from the restoration of letters.

• In this century, the arts and sciences were carried to a degree of perfection unknown to preceeding ages; and from this happy renovation of learning the European churches derived the most signal and inestimable advantages, which they also transmitted to the most remote and distant nations. The benign influence of true science, and its tendency to improve both the form of religion and the inftitutions of civil policy, were perceived by many of the states and princes of Europe. Hence large sums were expended, and great zeal and industry employed in promoting the progress of knowledge, by founding and encouraging literary societies, by protecting and exciting a spirit of emulation among men of genius, and by annexing distinguished honours and advantages to the culture of the sciences. And it is particularly worthy of observation, that this was the period, when the wife and falutary law, which excludes ignorant and illiterate persons from the sacred functions of the Christian ministry, acquired, at length, that force which it still retains in the greatest part of the Christian world. There still remained, however, some secds of that ancient discord between religion and philofophy, that had been fown and fomented by ignorance. and fanaticism; and there were found, both among the friends and enemies of the reformation, several well-meaning, but inconfiderate men, who, in spite of common sense, maintained with more vehemence and animosity than ever, that vital religion and piety could never fourish until it was totally separated from learning and science, and nourished by the holy fimplicity that reigned in the primitive ages of the church.

The first rank in the literary world was now held by those, who consecrated their studious hours and their critical fagacity to the publication, correction, and illustration of the molt famous Greek and Latin authors of ancient times, to the study of antiquity and the languages, and to the culture of eloquence and poetry. We see by the productions of this age (that yet remain, and continue to excite the admiration of the learned) that in all the provinces of Europe these branches of literature were cultivated, with a kind of enthusiasm, by such as were most diftin

• [] We have a Life of Melancthon, written by Joachim Camerarius, which has already gone through leveral editions. But a more accurate account of this illustrious reformer, composed by a prudent, impartial, and well-informed biographer, as also a complete collection of his Works, would be an inestimable present to the republic of letters.'

guished guished by their taste and genius; nay, what is still more extraordinary (and perhaps not a little extravagant) the welfare of the church and the prosperity of the state was supposed to depend upon the improveinent of thefe branches of erudition, which were considered as the very essence of true and folid knowledge. If such encomiums were swelled beyond the bounds of truth and wisdom by enthusiastical philologists, it is, nevertheless, certains that the species of learning, here under consideration, was of the highest importance, as it opened the way that led to the treasures of solid wisdom, to the improvement of genius, and thus undoubtedly contributed, in a great measure, to deliver both reason and religion from the prepoffeffion of ignorance and the fervitude of superstition. And, therefore, we ought not to be surprized, when we meet with persons who exaggerate the merit, and dwell beyond measure on the praises of those, who were our first guides from the regions of darkness and error into the fmiling sphere of evidence and truth.

• Though the lovers of philology and Belles Lettres were much fuperior in number to those

who turned their principal views to the study of philosophy; yet the latter were far from being contemptible either in point of number or capacity. The philosophers were divided into two classes, of which the one was wholly absorbed in contemplation, while the other was employed in the investigation of truth, and endeavoured by experience, as well as hy reasoning, to trace out the laws and operations of nature. The former were fubdivided into two feets, of which the one followed certain leaders, while the other, unrestrained by the dictates of authority, struck out a new way for themselves, following freely their own inventions. Those, who submitted to the direction of certain philosophical guides, enlisted themfelves under the standards of Aristotle, or those of Plato, who continued till to have many admiters, especially in Italy. Nor were the followers of Aristotle agreed among themselves; they all acknowledged the Stagirite as their chief, but they followed him through very different paths. Some were for retaining the ancient method of proceeding in philosophical pursuits, whichi their doctors, falsely, called the Peripatetic system. Others pleaded for the pure and unmixed philosophy of Aristotle, and recommended the writings of that Grecian sage, as the source of wisdom, and as the system, which was most adapted, when properly illustrated and explained, to the instruction of youth. A third fort of Ariftotelicians, who differed equally from those now mentioned, and of whom the celebrated Melanchon was the chief, pursued another method. They extracted the marrow out of the lucubrations of Aristotle, illustrated it by the aids of genuine literature and the rules of good criticisin, and corrected

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