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dulgences : 2dby, That he (Luther) had been the cause of that fedullion, by representing indulgences as much more beinous than they really were : 3dly, That the odious conduct of Tetzel alone, had given occafion to these representations: and fibis, That, though the avarice of Albert, archbishop of Metz, had fet on Tetzel, yet, that this rapacious tax-gatherer had exceeded by far the bounds of his commission.” These proposals were accompanied with many foothing words, with pompoas enco miums 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 infinuating methods of negociating without effect; and it was upon this occafion that Luther made submiffion: wbich thewed that his views were not, as yet, very extensive, his former prejudices entirely dispelled, or his reforming principles feddily fixed. For he not only offered to obferve a profound filence for the future with refpea to indulgences, provided the fame condition were imposed on his adversaries; he went much fartber; he proposed writing an humble and fubmiffive letter to the pope, acknowledging that he had carried his zeal and animofity 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 emiffaries, who abufed its authority, and employed its protection as a mask to cover their abominable and impious frauds. It is true, indeed, that amidst those weak fubmissions which the impartial demands of historical truth obligeth vs to selate, there was, properly speaking, no retractation of his former tenets, nor the smallest degree of refpect thewn 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 10 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 fubmiffion made by Luther, they would have almott nipped, in the bud, the cause of the reformation, or would, at leaft, have confiderably 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 two months after the conference of Altenburg)
cility, have been reduced to obedience. But the Alaming and exceffive 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 papál hierarchy, promoted the principles and augmented the spirit, which produced, at length, the blessed (a) reformation.'
In the account which Dr. Mofheim gives of the disputes at Leipfic, in the year 1519, between Eckius and Carlostadt, we have the following character of the amiable Melanchon:
* Among the spectators of this ecclefiaftical combat was Philip Melancthon, at that time, professor of Greek at Wittembergs who had not, as yet, been involved in these divisions (as indeed the mildness of his temper and his elegant tafte for polite literature rendered him averse 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 illuftrious and respectable instruments of the reformation; it may not be improper to give some account here of the talents and vir 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, Hiftor. Apologet, de Lutberanismo, five de Reformatione Religionis; &c. in which the fa&s relating to Luther and the reformation are deduced from the molt precious and authentic manuscripts and records, contained in the library of Saxe Gotha, and in other learned and priocely colle&ions, and in which, the frauds and falsehoods of Maimbourg's History of Lutherapism are fully detected and refuted.As to Miltitz, his face was unhappy. His moderation (which nothing but the blind zeal of some furious monke çould have hindered from being
eminently serviceable to thecause of Rome) was represented by Eckius, as something worse than indifference about the success of his commisfion; and after feveral marks of negle&t received from the pontif, he had the misfortune co lose his life in pafung the Rbine at Mentz.1'
'Il See MelanZhon's Letter concerning the conference at Leipsig in Loscher's Ads et Documenta Reformationis, tom. iii. cap. viü. P. 213.
and the liberal arts the same eminent service that Luther had done to religion, by purging them from the drofs with which they had been corrupted, and by recommending them, in a powerful and persuasive manner, to the study of the Germans. He had the rare talent of discerning truth in all its most intricate connexions and combinations, of comprehending, at once, the moft abstract notions, and expresfing them with the utmost perfpicuity and ease. And he applied this happy talent in religious disquisitions with such unparalleled success, that it may safely be affirmed, that the cause of true Christianity derived from the learning and genius of Melanchon more fignal advantages and a more effectual 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 delire, with ardor, that a reformation might be effected without producing a schism in the church, and that the external communior 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 quarte 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 unealy apprehenfions 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 unlbaken cerHancy, and opposed his adversaries with invincible fortitude. Al this thews, that the force of truth and the power of principle had diminished the weaknesses and defects of Melanchon's natural character without entirely removing them. Had his fortitude been more uniform and fteddy, his desire of reconciling all interests and pleasing all parties less vehement and excesive, his triumph over the fuperftitions imbibed in his infancy more compleat(s);
• [(? By this no doubt Dr. Mosheim means the credulity this great ma: dilcovered with refpe&t to prodigies and dreams, and his having been somewhat addicted to the pretended science of aftrology.)
he must deservedly have been considered, as one of the greatest among men (b):
In his general history of the church, during the fixteenth 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 tranfmitted 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 institutions of civil policy, were perceived by many of the states and princes of Europe. Hence large fums 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 obfervation, that this was the period, when the wise and falutary law, wbich excludes ignorant and illiterate persons from the sacred functions of the Christian miniftry, acquired, at length, that force which it still retains in the greatest part of the Christian world. There still remained, however, Tome feeds of that ancient difcord between religion and philosophy, that had been sown and fomented by ignorance and fanaticism; and there were found, both among the friends and enemies of the reformation, several well-meaning, but inconsiderate men, who, in spite of common sense, maintained with more vehemence and animosity than ever, that vital religion and piety could never flourish 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 thofe, who consecrated their studious hours and their critical fagacity to the publication, correction, and illustration of the most 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
'[h] We have a Life of Melanchon, 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."
guithed guished by their taste and genius; nay, what is still more ex: traordinary (and perhaps not a little extravagant) the welfare of the church and the prosperity of the state was supposed to depend upon the improvement of these branches of erudition, which were considered as the very essence of true and solid knowledge. If such encomiums were swelled beyond the bounds of truth and wisdom by enthusiastical philologists, it is, nevertheless, certain, that the species of learning, here under consideration, was of the highest importance, as it opened the way that led to the treafures 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 servitude 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 smiling sphere of evidence and truth.
• Though the lovers of philology and Belles Lettres wert much superior 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. Thi philofophers were divided into two classes, of which the one wa wholly absorbed in contemplation, while the other was employed in the investigation of truth, and endeavoured by experience, as well as by reasoning, to trace out the laws and operations of nature. The former were subdivided into two fects, of wbich the one followed certain leaders, while the other, unrestrained by the di&tates of authority, ftruck 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 still to have many admirers; especially in Italy. Noi 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, which their doctors, falsely, called the Peripatetic fyftem. Others pleaded for the pure and unmixed philosophy of Aristotle, and Tecommended the writings of that Grecian fage, as the source of wisdom, and as the system, which was molt adapted, when properly illustrated and explained, to the instruction of youth. A third sort of. Aristotelicians, who differed equally from those now mentioned, and of whom the celebrated Melancthon 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 criticism, and corrected