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V: THE PROTESTANT THEORY OF PERSECUTION - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays 
The History of Freedom and Other Essays, ed. John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907).
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THE PROTESTANT THEORY OF PERSECUTION1
The manner in which Religion influences State policy is more easily ascertained in the case of Protestantism than in that of the Catholic Church: for whilst the expression of Catholic doctrines is authoritative and unvarying, the great social problems did not all arise at once, and have at various times received different solutions. The reformers failed to construct a complete and harmonious code of doctrine; but they were compelled to supplement the new theology by a body of new rules for the guidance of their followers in those innumerable questions with regard to which the practice of the Church had grown out of the experience of ages. And although the dogmatic system of Protestantism was not completed in their time, yet the Protestant spirit animated them in greater purity and force than it did any later generation. Now, when a religion is applied to the social and political sphere, its general spirit must be considered, rather than its particular precepts. So that in studying the points of this application in the case of Protestantism, we may consult the writings of the reformers with greater confidence than we could do for an exposition of Protestant theology; and accept them as a greater authority, because they agree more entirely among themselves. We can be more sure that we have the true Protestant opinion in a political or social question on which all the reformers are agreed, than in a theological question on which they differ; for the concurrent opinion must be founded on an element common to all, and therefore essential. If it should further appear that this opinion was injurious to their actual interests, and maintained at a sacrifice to themselves, we should then have an additional security for its necessary connection with their fundamental views.
The most important example of this law is the Protestant theory of toleration. The views of the reformers on religious liberty are not fragmentary, accidental opinions, unconnected with their doctrines, or suggested by the circumstances amidst which they lived; but the product of their theological system, and of their ideas of political and ecclesiastical government. Civil and religious liberty are so commonly associated in people’s mouths, and are so rare in fact, that their definition is evidently as little understood as the principle of their connection. The point at which they unite, the common root from which they derive their sustenance, is the right of self-government. The modern theory, which has swept away every authority except that of the State, and has made the sovereign power irresistible by multiplying those who share it, is the enemy of that common freedom in which religious freedom is included. It condemns, as a State within the State, every inner group and community, class or corporation, administering its own affairs; and, by proclaiming the abolition of privileges, it emancipates the subjects of every such authority in order to transfer them exclusively to its own. It recognises liberty only in the individual, because it is only in the individual that liberty can be separated from authority, and the right of conditional obedience deprived of the security of a limited command. Under its sway, therefore, every man may profess his own religion more or less freely; but his religion is not free to administer its own laws. In other words, religious profession is free, but Church government is controlled. And where ecclesiastical authority is restricted, religious liberty is virtually denied.
For religious liberty is not the negative right of being without any particular religion, just as self-government is not anarchy. It is the right of religious communities to the practice of their own duties, the enjoyment of their own constitution, and the protection of the law, which equally secures to all the possession of their own independence. Far from implying a general toleration, it is best secured by a limited one. In an indifferent State, that is, in a State without any definite religious character (if such a thing is conceivable), no ecclesiastical authority could exist. A hierarchical organisation would not be tolerated by the sects that have none, or by the enemies of all definite religion; for it would be in contradiction to the prevailing theory of atomic freedom. Nor can a religion be free when it is alone, unless it makes the State subject to it. For governments restrict the liberty of the favoured Church, by way of remunerating themselves for their service in preserving her unity. The most violent and prolonged conflicts for religious freedom occurred in the Middle Ages between a Church which was not threatened by rivals and States which were most attentive to preserve her exclusive predominance. Frederic II., the most tyrannical oppressor of the Church among the German emperors, was the author of those sanguinary laws against heresy which prevailed so long in many parts of Europe. The Inquisition, which upheld the religious unity of the Spanish nation, imposed the severest restrictions on the Spanish Church; and in England conformity has been most rigorously exacted by those sovereigns who have most completely tyrannised over the Established Church. Religious liberty, therefore, is possible only where the coexistence of different religions is admitted, with an equal right to govern themselves according to their own several principles. Tolerance of error is requisite for freedom; but freedom will be most complete where there is no actual diversity to be resisted, and no theoretical unity to be maintained, but where unity exists as the triumph of truth, not of force, through the victory of the Church, not through the enactment of the State.
This freedom is attainable only in communities where rights are sacred, and where law is supreme. If the first duty is held to be obedience to authority and the preservation of order, as in the case of aristocracies and monarchies of the patriarchal type, there is no safety for the liberties either of individuals or of religion. Where the highest consideration is the public good and the popular will, as in democracies, and in constitutional monarchies after the French pattern, majority takes the place of authority; an irresistible power is substituted for an idolatrous principle, and all private rights are equally insecure. The true theory of freedom excludes all absolute power and arbitrary action, and requires that a tyrannical or revolutionary government shall be coerced by the people; but it teaches that insurrection is criminal, except as a corrective of revolution and tyranny. In order to understand the views of the Protestant reformers on toleration, they must be considered with reference to these points.
While the Reformation was an act of individual resistance and not a system, and when the secular Powers were engaged in supporting the authority of the Church, the authors of the movement were compelled to claim impunity for their opinions, and they held language regarding the right of governments to interfere with religious belief which resembles that of friends of toleration. Every religious party, however exclusive or servile its theory may be, if it is in contradiction with a system generally accepted and protected by law, must necessarily, at its first appearance, assume the protection of the idea that the conscience is free.1 Before a new authority can be set up in the place of one that exists, there is an interval when the right of dissent must be proclaimed. At the beginning of Luther’s contest with the Holy See there was no rival authority for him to appeal to. No ecclesiastical organism existed, the civil power was not on his side, and not even a definite system had yet been evolved by controversy out of his original doctrine of justification. His first efforts were acts of hostility, his exhortations were entirely aggressive, and his appeal was to the masses. When the prohibition of his New Testament confirmed him in the belief that no favour was to be expected from the princes, he published his book on the Civil Power, which he judged superior to everything that had been written on government since the days of the Apostles, and in which he asserts that authority is given to the State only against the wicked, and that it cannot coerce the godly. “Princes,” he says, “are not to be obeyed when they command submission to superstitious errors, but their aid is not to be invoked in support of the Word of God.”1 Heretics must be converted by the Scriptures, and not by fire, otherwise the hangman would be the greatest doctor.2 At the time when this was written Luther was expecting the bull of excommunication and the ban of the empire, and for several years it appeared doubtful whether he would escape the treatment he condemned. He lived in constant fear of assassination, and his friends amused themselves with his terrors. At one time he believed that a Jew had been hired by the Polish bishops to despatch him; that an invisible physician was on his way to Wittenberg to murder him; that the pulpit from which he preached was impregnated with a subtle poison.1 These alarms dictated his language during those early years. It was not the true expression of his views, which he was not yet strong enough openly to put forth.2
The Zwinglian schism, the rise of the Anabaptists, and the Peasants’ War altered the aspect of affairs. Luther recognised in them the fruits of his theory of the right of private judgment and of dissent,3 and the moment had arrived to secure his Church against the application of the same dissolving principles which had served him to break off from his allegiance to Rome.4 The excesses of the social war threatened to deprive the movement of the sympathy of the higher classes, especially of the governments; and with the defeat of the peasants the popular phase of the Reformation came to an end on the Continent. “The devil,” Luther said, “having failed to put him down by the help of the Pope, was seeking his destruction through the preachers of treason and blood.”1 He instantly turned from the people to the princes;2 impressed on his party that character of political dependence, and that habit of passive obedience to the State, which it has ever since retained, and gave it a stability it could never otherwise have acquired. In thus taking refuge in the arms of the civil power, purchasing the safety of his doctrine by the sacrifice of its freedom, and conferring on the State, together with the right of control, the duty of imposing it at the point of the sword, Luther in reality reverted to his original teaching.3 The notion of liberty, whether civil or religious, was hateful to his despotic nature, and contrary to his interpretation of Scripture. As early as 1519 he had said that even the Turk was to be reverenced as an authority.4 The demoralising servitude and lawless oppression which the peasants endured, gave them, in his eyes, no right to relief; and when they rushed to arms, invoking his name as their deliverer, he exhorted the nobles to take a merciless revenge.5 Their crime was, that they were animated by the sectarian spirit, which it was the most important interest of Luther to suppress.
The Protestant authorities throughout Southern Germany were perplexed by their victory over the Anabaptists. It was not easy to show that their political tenets were revolutionary, and the only subversive portion of their doctrine was that they held, with the Catholics, that the State is not responsible for religion.1 They were punished, therefore, because they taught that no man ought to suffer for his faith. At Nuremberg the magistrates did not know how to proceed against them. They seemed no worse than the Catholics, whom there was no question at that time of exterminating. The celebrated Osiander deemed these scruples inconsistent. The Papists, he said, ought also to be suppressed; and so long as this was not done, it was impossible to proceed to extremities against the Anabaptists, who were no worse than they. Luther also was consulted, and he decided that they ought not to be punished unless they refused to conform at the command of the Government.2 The Margrave of Brandenburg was also advised by the divines that a heretic who could not be converted out of Scripture might be condemned; but that in his sentence nothing should be said about heresy, but only about sedition and murderous intent, though he should be guiltless of these.3 With the aid of this artifice great numbers were put to death.
Luther’s proud and ardent spirit despised such pretences. He had cast off all reserve, and spoke his mind openly on the rights and duties of the State towards the Church and the people. His first step was to proclaim it the office of the civil power to prevent abominations.1 He provided no security that, in discharging this duty, the sovereign should be guided by the advice of orthodox divines;2 but he held the duty itself to be imperative. In obedience to the fundamental principle, that the Bible is the sole guide in all things, he defined the office and justified it by scriptural precedents. The Mosaic code, he argued, awarded to false prophets the punishment of death, and the majesty of God is not to be less deeply reverenced or less rigorously vindicated under the New Testament than under the Old; in a more perfect revelation the obligation is stronger. Those who will not hear the Church must be excluded from the communion; but the civil power is to intervene when the ecclesiastical excommunication has been pronounced, and men must be compelled to come in. For, according to the more accurate definition of the Church which is given in the Confession of Schmalkald, and in the Apology of the Confession of Augsburg, excommunication involves damnation. There is no salvation to be hoped for out of the Church, and the test of orthodoxy against the Pope, the devil, and all the world, is the dogma of justification by faith.3
The defence of religion became, on this theory, not only the duty of the civil power, but the object of its institution. Its business was solely the coercion of those who were out of the Church. The faithful could not be the objects of its action; they did of their own accord more than any laws required. “A good tree,” says Luther, “brings forth good fruit by nature, without compulsion; is it not madness to prescribe laws to an apple-tree that it shall bear apples and not thorns?”4 This view naturally proceeded from the axiom of the certainty of the salvation of all who believe in the Confession of Augsburg.1 It is the most important element in Luther’s political system, because, while it made all Protestant governments despotic, it led to the rejection of the authority of Catholic governments. This is the point where Protestant and Catholic intolerance meet. If the State were instituted to promote the faith, no obedience could be due to a State of a different faith. Protestants could not conscientiously be faithful subjects of Catholic Powers, and they could not therefore be tolerated. Misbelievers would have no rights under an orthodox State, and a misbelieving prince would have no authority over orthodox subjects. The more, therefore, Luther expounded the guilt of resistance and the Divine sanction of authority, the more subversive his influence became in Catholic countries. His system was alike revolutionary, whether he defied the Catholic powers or promoted a Protestant tyranny. He had no notion of political right. He found no authority for such a claim in the New Testament, and he held that righteousness does not need to exhibit itself in works.
It was the same helpless dependence on the letter of Scripture which led the reformers to consequences more subversive of Christian morality than their views on questions of polity. When Carlstadt cited the Mosaic law in defence of polygamy, Luther was indignant. If the Mosaic law is to govern everything, he said, we should be compelled to adopt circumcision.2 Nevertheless, as there is no prohibition of polygamy in the New Testament, the reformers were unable to condemn it. They did not forbid it as a matter of Divine law, and referred it entirely to the decision of the civil legislator.3 This, accordingly was the view which guided Luther and Melanchthon in treating the problem, the ultimate solution of which was the separation of England from the Church.1 When the Landgrave Philip afterwards appealed to this opinion, and to the earlier commentaries of Luther, the reformers were compelled to approve his having two wives. Melanchthon was a witness at the wedding of the second, and the only reservation was a request that the matter should not be allowed to get abroad.2 It was the same portion of Luther’s theology, and the same opposition to the spirit of the Church in the treatment of Scripture, that induced him to believe in astrology and to ridicule the Copernican system.3
His view of the authority of Scripture and his theory of justification both precluded him from appreciating freedom. “Christian freedom,” he said, “consists in the belief that we require no works to attain piety and salvation.”1 Thus he became the inventor of the theory of passive obedience, according to which no motives or provocation can justify a revolt; and the party against whom the revolt is directed, whatever its guilt may be, is to be preferred to the party revolting, however just its cause.2 In 1530 he therefore declared that the German princes had no right to resist the Emperor in defence of their religion. “It was the duty of a Christian,” he said, “to suffer wrong, and no breach of oath or of duty could deprive the Emperor of his right to the unconditional obedience of his subjects.”3 Even the empire seemed to him a despotism, from his scriptural belief that it was a continuation of the last of the four monarchies.4 He preferred submission, in the hope of seeing a future Protestant Emperor, to a resistance which might have dismembered the empire if it had succeeded, and in which failure would have been fatal to the Protestants; and he was always afraid to draw the logical consequences of his theory of the duty of Protestants towards Catholic sovereigns. In consequence of this fact, Ranke affirms that the great reformer was also one of the greatest conservatives that ever lived; and his biographer, Jürgens, makes the more discriminating remark that history knows of no man who was at once so great an insurgent and so great an upholder of order as he.1 Neither of these writers understood that the same principle lies at the root both of revolution and of passive obedience, and that the difference is only in the temper of the person who applies it, and in the outward circumstances.
Luther’s theory is apparently in opposition to Protestant interests, for it entitles Catholicism to the protection of Catholic Powers. He disguised from himself this inconsistency, and reconciled theory with expediency by the calculation that the immense advantages which his system offered to the princes would induce them all to adopt it. For, besides the consolatory doctrine of justification,—“a doctrine original, specious, persuasive, powerful against Rome, and wonderfully adapted, as if prophetically, to the genius of the times which were to follow,”2 —he bribed the princes with the wealth of the Church, independence of ecclesiastical authority, facilities for polygamy, and absolute power. He told the peasants not to take arms against the Church unless they could persuade the Government to give the order; but thinking it probable, in 1522, that the Catholic clergy would, in spite of his advice, be exterminated by the fury of the people, he urged the Government to suppress them, because what was done by the constituted authority could not be wrong.3 Persuaded that the sovereign power would be on his side, he allowed no limits to its extent. It is absurd, he says, to imagine that, even with the best intentions, kings can avoid committing occasional injustice; they stand, therefore, particularly in need—not of safeguards against the abuse of power, but—of the forgiveness of sins.4 The power thus concentrated in the hands of the rulers for the guardianship of the faith, he wished to be used with the utmost severity against unregenerate men, in whom there was neither moral virtue nor civil rights, and from whom no good could come until they were converted. He therefore required that all crimes should be most cruelly punished and that the secular arm should be employed to convert where it did not destroy. The idea of mercy tempering justice he denounced as a Popish superstition.1
The chief object of the severity thus recommended was, of course, efficaciously to promote the end for which Government itself was held to be instituted. The clergy had authority over the conscience, but it was thought necessary that they should be supported by the State with the absolute penalties of outlawry, in order that error might be exterminated, although it was impossible to banish sin.2 No Government, it was maintained, could tolerate heresy without being responsible for the souls that were seduced by it;3 and as Ezechiel destroyed the brazen serpent to prevent idolatry, the mass must be suppressed, for the mass was the worst kind of idolatry.4 In 1530, when it was proposed to leave the matters in dispute to the decision of the future Council, Luther declared that the mass and monastic life could not be tolerated in the meantime, because it was unlawful to connive at error.5 “It will lie heavy on your conscience,” he writes to the Duke of Saxony, “if you tolerate the Catholic worship; for no secular prince can permit his subjects to be divided by the preaching of opposite doctrines. The Catholics have no right to complain, for they do not prove the truth of their doctrine from Scripture, and therefore do not conscientiously believe it.”1 He would tolerate them only if they acknowledged themselves, like the Jews, enemies of Christ and of the Emperor, and consented to exist as outcasts of society.2 “Heretics,” he said, “are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their hands in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is a devil in disguise.”3
The persecuting principles which were involved in Luther’s system, but which he cared neither to develop, to apply, nor to defend, were formed into a definite theory by the colder genius of Melanchthon. Destitute of Luther’s confidence in his own strength, and in the infallible success of his doctrine, he clung more eagerly to the hope of achieving victory by the use of physical force. Like his master he too hesitated at first, and opposed the use of severe measures against the Zwickau prophets; but when he saw the development of that early germ of dissent, and the gradual dissolution of Lutheran unity, he repented of his ill-timed clemency.4 He was not deterred from asserting the duty of persecution by the risk of putting arms into the hands of the enemies of the Reformation. He acknowledged the danger, but he denied the right. Catholic powers, he deemed, might justly persecute, but they could only persecute error. They must apply the same criterion which the Lutherans applied, and then they were justified in persecuting those whom the Lutherans also proscribed. For the civil power had no right to proscribe a religion in order to save itself from the dangers of a distracted and divided population. The judge of the fact and of the danger must be, not the magistrate, but the clergy.1 The crime lay, not in dissent, but in error. Here, therefore, Melanchthon repudiated the theory and practice of the Catholics, whose aid he invoked; for all the intolerance in the Catholic times was founded on the combination of two ideas—the criminality of apostasy, and the inability of the State to maintain its authority where the moral sense of a part of the community was in opposition to it. The reformers, therefore, approved the Catholic practice of intolerance, and even encouraged it, although their own principles of persecution were destitute not only of connection, but even of analogy, with it. By simply accepting the inheritance of the mediæval theory of the religious unity of the empire, they would have been its victims. By asserting that persecution was justifiable only against error, that is, only when purely religious, they set up a shield for themselves, and a sword against those sects for whose destruction they were more eager than the Catholics. Whether we refer the origin of Protestant intolerance to the doctrines or to the interests of the Reformation, it appears totally unconnected with the tradition of Catholic ages, or the atmosphere of Catholicism. All severities exercised by Catholics before that time had a practical motive; but Protestant persecution was based on a purely speculative foundation, and was due partly to the influence of Scripture examples, partly to the supposed interests of the Protestant party. It never admitted the exclusion of dissent to be a political right of the State, but maintained the suppression of error to be its political duty. To say, therefore, that the Protestants learnt persecution from the Catholics, is as false as to say that they used it by way of revenge. For they founded it on very different and contradictory grounds, and they admitted the right of the Catholics to persecute even the Protestant sects.
Melanchthon taught that the sects ought to be put down by the sword, and that any individual who started new opinions ought to be punished with death.1 He carefully laid down that these severities were requisite, not in consideration of the danger to the State, nor of immoral teaching, nor even of such differences as would weaken the authority or arrest the action of the ecclesiastical organisation, but simply on account of a difference, however slight, in the theologumena of Protestantism.2 Thamer, who held the possibility of salvation among the heathen; Schwenkfeld, who taught that not the written Word, but the internal illumination of grace in the soul was the channel of God’s influence on man; the Zwinglians, with their error on the Eucharist, all these met with no more favour than the fanatical Anabaptists.1 The State was held bound to vindicate the first table of the law with the same severity as those commandments on which civil society depends for its existence. The government of the Church being administered by the civil magistrates, it was their office also to enforce the ordinances of religion; and the same power whose voice proclaimed religious orthodoxy and law held in its hand the sword by which they were enforced. No religious authority existed except through the civil power.2 The Church was merged in the State; but the laws of the State, in return, were identified with the commandments of religion.3
In accordance with these principles, the condemnation of Servetus by a civil tribunal, which had no authority over him, and no jurisdiction over his crime—the most aggressive and revolutionary act, therefore, that is conceivable in the casuistry of persecution — was highly approved by Melanchthon. He declared it a most useful example for all future ages, and could not understand that there should be any who did not regard it in the same favourable light.4 It is true that Servetus, by denying the divinity of Christ, was open to the charge of blasphemy in a stricter sense than that in which the reformers generally applied it. But this was not the case with the Catholics. They did not represent, like the sects, an element of dissolution in Protestantism, and the bulk of their doctrine was admitted by the reformers. They were not in revolt against existing authority; they required no special innovations for their protection; they demanded only that the change of religion should not be compulsory. Yet Melanchthon held that they too were to be proscribed, because their worship was idolatrous.1 In doing this he adopted the principle of aggressive intolerance, which was at that time new to the Christian world; and which the Popes and Councils of the Catholic Church had condemned when the zeal of laymen had gone beyond the lawful measure. In the Middle Ages there had been persecution far more sanguinary than any that has been inflicted by Protestants. Various motives had occasioned it and various arguments had been used in its defence. But the principle on which the Protestants oppressed the Catholics was new. The Catholics had never admitted the theory of absolute toleration, as it was defined at first by Luther, and afterwards by some of the sects. In principle, their tolerance differed from that of the Protestants as widely as their intolerance. They had exterminated sects which, like the Albigenses, threatened to overturn the fabric of Christian society. They had proscribed different religions where the State was founded on religious unity, and where this unity formed an integral part of its laws and administration. They had gone one step further, and punished those whom the Church condemned as apostates; thereby vindicating, not, as in the first case, the moral basis of society, nor, as in the second, the religious foundation of the State, but the authority of the Church and the purity of her doctrine, on which they relied as the pillar and bulwark of the social and political order. Where a portion of the inhabitants of any country preferred a different creed, Jew, Mohammedan, heathen, or schismatic, they had been generally tolerated, with enjoyment of property and personal freedom, but not with that of political power or autonomy. But political freedom had been denied them because they did not admit the common ideas of duty which were its basis. This position, however, was not tenable, and was the source of great disorders. The Protestants, in like manner, could give reasons for several kinds of persecution. They could bring the Socinians under the category of blasphemers; and blasphemy, like the ridicule of sacred things, destroys reverence and awe, and tends to the destruction of society. The Anabaptists, they might argue, were revolutionary fanatics, whose doctrines were subversive of the civil order; and the dogmatic sects threatened the ruin of ecclesiastical unity within the Protestant community itself. But by placing the necessity of intolerance on the simple ground of religious error, and in directing it against the Church which they themselves had abandoned, they introduced a purely subjective test, and a purely revolutionary system. It is on this account that the tu quoque, or retaliatory argument, is inadmissible between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic intolerance is handed down from an age when unity subsisted, and when its preservation, being essential for that of society, became a necessity of State as well as a result of circumstances. Protestant intolerance, on the contrary, was the peculiar fruit of a dogmatic system in contradiction with the facts and principles on which the intolerance actually existing among Catholics was founded. Spanish intolerance has been infinitely more sanguinary than Swedish; but in Spain, independently of the interests of religion, there were strong political and social reasons to justify persecution without seeking any theory to prop it up; whilst in Sweden all those practical considerations have either been wanting, or have been opposed to persecution, which has consequently had no justification except the theory of the Reformation. The only instance in which the Protestant theory has been adopted by Catholics is the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.
Towards the end of his life, Melanchthon, having ceased to be a strict Lutheran, receded somewhat from his former uncompromising position, and was adverse to a strict scrutiny into minor theological differences. He drew a distinction between errors that required punishment and variations that were not of practical importance.1 The English Calvinists who took refuge in Germany in the reign of Mary Tudor were ungraciously received by those who were stricter Lutherans than Melanchthon. He was consulted concerning the course to be adopted towards the refugees, and he recommended toleration. But both at Wesel and at Frankfort his advice was, to his great disgust, overruled.2
The severities of the Protestants were chiefly provoked by the Anabaptists, who denied the lawfulness of civil government, and strove to realise the kingdom of God on earth by absorbing the State in the Church.1 None protested more loudly than they against the Lutheran intolerance, or suffered from it more severely. But while denying the spiritual authority of the State, they claimed for their religious community a still more absolute right of punishing error by death. Though they sacrificed government to religion, the effect was the same as that of absorbing the Church in the State. In 1524 Münzer published a sermon, in which he besought the Lutheran princes to extirpate Catholicism. “Have no remorse,” he says; “for He to whom all power is given in heaven and on earth means to govern alone.”2 He demanded the punishment of all heretics, the destruction of all who were not of his faith, and the institution of religious unity. “Do not pretend,” he says, “that the power of God will accomplish it without the use of your sword, or it will grow rusty in the scabbard. The tree that bringeth not forth good fruit must be cut down and cast into the fire.” And elsewhere, “the ungodly have no right to live, except so far as the elect choose to grant it them.”3 When the Anabaptists were supreme at Münster, they exhibited the same intolerance. At seven in the morning of Friday, 27th February 1534, they ran through the streets crying, “Away with the ungodly!” Breaking into the houses of those who refused their baptism, they drove the men out of the town, and forcibly rebaptized the women who remained behind.4 Whilst, therefore, the Anabaptists were punished for questioning the authority of the Lutherans in religious matters, they practically justified their persecution by their own intolerant doctrines. In fact, they carried the Protestant principles of persecution to an extreme. For whereas the Lutherans regarded the defence of truth and punishment of error as being, in part, the object of the institution of civil government, they recognised it as an advantage by which the State was rewarded for its pains; but the Anabaptists repudiated the political element altogether, and held that error should be exterminated solely for the sake of truth, and at the expense of all existing States.
Bucer, whose position in the history of the Reformation is so peculiar, and who differed in important points from the Saxon leaders, agreed with them on the necessity of persecuting. He was so anxious for the success of Protestantism, that he was ready to sacrifice and renounce important doctrines, in order to save the appearance of unity;1 but those opinions in which he took so little dogmatic interest, he was resolved to defend by force. He was very much dissatisfied with the reluctance of the Senate of Strasburg to adopt severe measures against the Catholics. His colleague Capito was singularly tolerant; for the feeling of the inhabitants was not decidedly in favour of the change.2 But Bucer, his biographer tells us, was, in spite of his inclination to mediate, not friendly to this temporising system; partly because he had an organising intellect, which relied greatly on practical discipline to preserve what had been conquered, and on restriction of liberty to be the most certain security for its preservation; partly because he had a deep insight into the nature of various religious tendencies, and was justly alarmed at their consequences for Church and State.3 This point in the character of Bucer provoked a powerful resistance to his system of ecclesiastical discipline, for it was feared that he would give to the clergy a tyrannical power.1 It is true that the demoralisation which ensued on the destruction of the old ecclesiastical authority rendered a strict attention on the part of the State to the affairs of religion highly necessary.2 The private and confidential communications of the German reformers give a more hideous picture of the moral condition of the generation which followed the Reformation than they draw in their published writings of that which preceded it. It is on this account that Bucer so strongly insisted on the necessity of the interference of the civil power in support of the discipline of the Church.
The Swiss reformers, between whom and the Saxons Bucer forms a connecting link, differ from them in one respect, which greatly influenced their notions of government. Luther lived under a monarchy which was almost absolute, and in which the common people, who were of Slavonic origin, were in the position of the most abject servitude; but the divines of Zürich and Bern were republicans. They did not therefore entertain his exalted views as to the irresistible might of the State; and instead of requiring as absolute a theory of the indefectibility of the civil power as he did, they were satisfied with obtaining a preponderating influence for themselves. Where the power was in hands less favourable to their cause, they had less inducement to exaggerate its rights.
Zwingli abolishes both the distinction between Church and State and the notion of ecclesiastical authority. In his system the civil rulers possess the spiritual functions; and, as their foremost duty is the preservation and promotion of the true religion, it is their business to preach. As magistrates are too much occupied with other things, they must delegate the ministry of the word to preachers, for whose orthodoxy they have to provide. They are bound to establish uniformity of doctrine, and to defend it against Papists and heretics. This is not only their right, but their duty; and not only their duty, but the condition on which they retain office.1 Rulers who do not act in accordance with it are to be dismissed. Thus Zwingli combined persecution and revolution in the same doctrine. But he was not a fanatical persecutor, and his severity was directed less against the Catholics than against the Anabaptists,2 whose prohibition of all civil offices was more subversive of order in a republic than in a monarchy. Even, however, in the case of the Anabaptists the special provocation was—not the peril to the State, nor the scandal of their errors, but—the schism which weakened the Church.3 The punishment of heresy for the glory of God was almost inconsistent with the theory that there is no ecclesiastical power. It was not so much provoked in Zürich as elsewhere, because in a small republican community, where the governing body was supreme over both civil and religious affairs, religious unity was a matter of course. The practical necessity of maintaining unity put out of sight the speculative question of the guilt and penalty of error.
Soon after Zwingli’s death, Leo Judæ called for severer measures against the Catholics, expressly stating, however, that they did not deserve death. “Excommunication,” he said, “was too light a punishment to be inflicted by the State which wields the sword, and the faults in question were not great enough to involve the danger of death.”4 Afterwards he fell into doubts as to the propriety of severe measures against dissenters, but his friends Bullinger and Capito succeeded in removing his scruples, and in obtaining his acquiescence in that intolerance, which was, says his biographer, a question of life and death for the Protestant Church.5 Bullinger took, like Zwingli, a more practical view of the question than was common in Germany. He thought it safer strictly to exclude religious differences than to put them down with fire and sword; “for in this case,” he says, “the victims compare themselves to the early martyrs, and make their punishment a weapon of defence.”1 He did not, however, forbid capital punishment in cases of heresy. In the year 1535 he drew up an opinion on the treatment of religious error, which is written in a tone of great moderation. In this document he says “that all sects which introduce division into the Church must be put down, and not only such as, like the Anabaptists, threaten to subvert society, for the destruction of order and unity often begins in an apparently harmless or imperceptible way. The culprit should be examined with gentleness. If his disposition is good he will not refuse instruction; if not, still patience must be shown until there is no hope of converting him. Then he must be treated like other malefactors, and handed over to the torturer and the executioner.”2 After this time there were no executions for religion in Zürich, and the number, even in the lifetime of Zwingli, was less considerable than in many other places. But it was still understood that confirmed heretics would be put to death. In 1546, in answer to the Pope’s invitation to the Council of Trent, Bullinger indignantly repudiates the insinuation that the Protestant cantons were heretical, “for, by the grace of God, we have always punished the vices of heresy and sodomy with fire, and have looked upon them, and still look upon them, with horror.”3 This accusation of heresy inflamed the zeal of the reformers against heretics, in order to prove to the Catholics that they had no sympathy with them. On these grounds Bullinger recommended the execution of Servetus. “If the high Council inflicts on him the fate due to a worthless blasphemer, all the world will see that the people of Geneva hate blasphemers, and that they punish with the sword of justice heretics who are obstinate in their heresy. . . . Strict fidelity and vigilance are needed, because our churches are in ill repute abroad, as if we were heretics and friends of heresy. Now God’s holy providence has furnished an opportunity of clearing ourselves of this evil suspicion.”1 After the event he advised Calvin to justify it, as there were some who were taken aback. “Everywhere,” he says, “there are excellent men who are convinced that godless and blaspheming men ought not only to be rebuked and imprisoned, but also to be put to death. . . . How Servetus could have been spared I cannot see.”2
The position of Œcolampadius in reference to these questions was altogether singular and exceptional. He dreaded the absorption of the ecclesiastical functions by the State, and sought to avoid it by the introduction of a council of twelve elders, partly magistrates, partly clergy, to direct ecclesiastical affairs. “Many things,” he said, “are punished by the secular power less severely than the dignity of the Church demands. On the other hand, it punishes the repentant, to whom the Church shows mercy. Either it blunts the edge of its sword by not punishing the guilty, or it brings some hatred on the Gospel by severity.”3 But the people of Basel were deaf to the arguments of the reformer, and here, as elsewhere, the civil power usurped the office of the Church. In harmony with this jealousy of political interference, Œcolampadius was very merciful to the Anabaptists. “Severe penalties,” he said, “were likely to aggravate the evil; forgiveness would hasten the cure.”4 A few months later, however, he regretted this leniency. “We perceive,” he writes to a friend, “that we have sometimes shown too much indulgence; but this is better than to proceed tyrannically, or to surrender the keys of the Church.”5 Whilst, on the other hand, he rejoiced at the expulsion of the Catholics, he ingeniously justified the practice of the Catholic persecutors. “In the early ages of the Church, when the divinity of Christ manifested itself to the world by miracles, God incited the Apostles to treat the ungodly with severity. When the miracles ceased, and the faith was universally adopted, He gained the hearts of princes and rulers, so that they undertook to protect with the sword the gentleness and patience of the Church. They rigorously resisted, in fulfilment of the duties of their office, the contemners of the Church.”1 “The clergy,” he goes on to say, “became tyrannical because they usurped to themselves a power which they ought to have shared with others; and as the people dread the return of this tyranny of ecclesiastical authority, it is wiser for the Protestant clergy to make no use of the similar power of excommunication which is intrusted to them.”
Calvin, as the subject of an absolute monarch, and the ruling spirit in a republic, differed both from the German and the Swiss reformers in his idea of the State both in its object and in its duty towards the Church. An exile from his own country, he had lost the associations and habits of monarchy, and his views of discipline as well as doctrine were matured before he took up his abode in Switzerland.2 His system was not founded on existing facts; it had no roots in history, but was purely ideal, speculative, and therefore more consistent and inflexible than any other. Luther’s political ideas were bounded by the horizon of the monarchical absolutism under which he lived. Zwingli’s were influenced by the democratic forms of his native country, which gave to the whole community the right of appointing the governing body. Calvin, independent of all such considerations, studied only how his doctrine could best be realised, whether through the instrumentality of existing authorities, or at their expense. In his eyes its interests were paramount, their promotion the supreme duty, opposition to them an unpardonable crime. There was nothing in the institutions of men, no authority, no right, no liberty, that he cared to preserve, or towards which he entertained any feelings of reverence or obligation.
His theory made the support of religious truth the end and office of the State,1 which was bound therefore to protect, and consequently to obey, the Church, and had no control over it. In religion the first and highest thing was the dogma: the preservation of morals was one important office of government; but the maintenance of the purity of doctrine was the highest. The result of this theory is the institution of a pure theocracy. If the elect were alone upon the earth, Calvin taught, there would be no need of the political order, and the Anabaptists would be right in rejecting it;2 but the elect are in a minority; and there is the mass of reprobates who must be coerced by the sword, in order that all the world may be made subject to the truth, by the conquerors imposing their faith upon the vanquished.3 He wished to extend religion by the sword, but to reserve death as the punishment of apostasy; and as this law would include the Catholics, who were in Calvin’s eyes apostates from the truth, he narrowed it further to those who were apostates from the community. In this way, he said, there was no pretext given to the Catholics to retaliate.1 They, as well as the Jews and Mohammedans, must be allowed to live: death was only the penalty of Protestants who relapsed into error; but to them it applied equally whether they were converted to the Church or joined the sects and fell into unbelief. Only in cases where there was no danger of his words being used against the Protestants, and in letters not intended for publication, he required that Catholics should suffer the same penalties as those who were guilty of sedition, on the ground that the majesty of God must be as strictly avenged as the throne of the king.2
If the defence of the truth was the purpose for which power was intrusted to princes, it was natural that it should be also the condition on which they held it. Long before the revolution of 1688, Calvin had decided that princes who deny the true faith, “abdicate” their crowns, and are no longer to be obeyed;3 and that no oaths are binding which are in contradiction to the interests of Protestantism.4 He painted the princes of his age in the blackest colours,5 and prayed to God for their destruction;1 though at the same time he condemned all rebellion on the part of his friends, so long as there were great doubts of their success.2 His principles, however, were often stronger than his exhortations, and he had difficulty in preventing murders and seditious movements in France.3 When he was dead, nobody prevented them, and it became clear that his system, by subjecting the civil power to the service of religion, was more dangerous to toleration than Luther’s plan of giving to the State supremacy over the Church.
Calvin was as positive as Luther in asserting the duty of obedience to rulers irrespective of their mode of government.4 He constantly declared that tyranny was not to be resisted on political grounds; that no civil rights could outweigh the divine sanction of government; except in cases where a special office was appointed for the purpose. Where there was no such office—where, for instance, the estates of the realm had lost their independence—there was no protection. This is one of the most important and essential characteristics of the politics of the reformers. By making the protection of their religion the principal business of government, they put out of sight its more immediate and universal duties, and made the political objects of the State disappear behind its religious end. A government was to be judged, in their eyes, only by its fidelity to the Protestant Church. If it fulfilled those requirements, no other complaints against it could be entertained. A tyrannical prince could not be resisted if he was orthodox; a just prince could be dethroned if he failed in the more essential condition of faith. In this way Protestantism became favourable at once to despotism and to revolution, and was ever ready to sacrifice good government to its own interests. It subverted monarchies, and, at the same time, denounced those who, for political causes, sought their subversion; but though the monarchies it subverted were sometimes tyrannical, and the seditions it prevented sometimes revolutionary, the order it defended or sought to establish was never legitimate and free, for it was always invested with the function of religious proselytism,1 and with the obligation of removing every traditional, social, or political right or power which could oppose the discharge of that essential duty.
The part Calvin had taken in the death of Servetus obliged him to develop more fully his views on the punishment of heresy. He wrote a short account of the trial,2 and argued that governments are bound to suppress heresy, and that those who deny the justice of the punishment, themselves deserve it.1 The book was signed by all the clergy of Geneva, as Calvin’s compurgators. It was generally considered a failure; and a refutation appeared, which was so skilful as to produce a great sensation in the Protestant world.2 This famous tract, now of extreme rarity, did not, as has been said, “contain the pith of those arguments which have ultimately triumphed in almost every part of Europe;” nor did it preach an unconditional toleration.3 But it struck hard at Calvin by quoting a passage from the first edition of his Institutes, afterwards omitted, in which he spoke for toleration. “Some of those,” says the author, “whom we quote have subsequently written in a different spirit. Nevertheless, we have cited the earlier opinion as the true one, as it was expressed under the pressure of persecution.”4 The first edition, we are informed by Calvin himself, was written for the purpose of vindicating the Protestants who were put to death, and of putting a stop to the persecution. It was anonymous, and naturally dwelt on the principles of toleration.
Although this book did not denounce all intolerance, and although it was extremely moderate, Calvin and his friends were filled with horror. “What remains of Christianity,” exclaimed Beza, “if we silently admit what this man has expectorated in his preface? . . . Since the beginning of Christianity no such blasphemy was ever heard.”1 Beza undertook to defend Calvin in an elaborate work,2 in which it was easy for him to cite the authority of all the leading reformers in favour of the practice of putting heretics to death, and in which he reproduced all the arguments of those who had written on the subject before him. More systematic than Calvin, he first of all excludes those who are not Christians—the Jews, Turks, and heathen—whom his inquiry does not touch; “among Christians,” he proceeds to say, “some are schismatics, who sin against the peace of the Church, or disbelievers, who reject her doctrine. Among these, some err in all simplicity; and if their error is not very grave, and if they do not seduce others, they need not be punished.”3 “But obstinate heretics are far worse than parricides, and deserve death, even if they repent.”4 “It is the duty of the State to punish them, for the whole ecclesiastical order is upheld by the political.”5 In early ages this power was exercised by the temporal sovereigns; they convoked councils, punished heretics, promulgated dogmas. The Papacy afterwards arose, in evil times, and was a great calamity; but it was preferable a hundred times to the anarchy which was defended under the name of merciful toleration.
The circumstances of the condemnation of Servetus make it the most perfect and characteristic example of the abstract intolerance of the reformers. Servetus was guilty of no political crime; he was not an inhabitant of Geneva, and was on the point of leaving it, and nothing immoral could be attributed to him. He was not even an advocate of absolute toleration.1 The occasion of his apprehension was a dispute between a Catholic and a Protestant, as to which party was most zealous in suppressing egregious errors. Calvin, who had long before declared that if Servetus came to Geneva he should never leave it alive,2 did all he could to obtain his condemnation by the Inquisition at Vienne. At Geneva he was anxious that the sentence should be death,3 and in this he was encouraged by the Swiss churches, but especially by Beza, Farel, Bullinger, and Peter Martyr.1 All the Protestant authorities, therefore, agreed in the justice of putting a writer to death in whose case all the secondary motives of intolerance were wanting. Servetus was not a party leader. He had no followers who threatened to upset the peace and unity of the Church. His doctrine was speculative, without power or attraction for the masses, like Lutheranism; and without consequences subversive of morality, or affecting in any direct way the existence of society, like Anabaptism.2 He had nothing to do with Geneva, and his persecutors would have rejoiced if he had been put to death elsewhere. “Bayle,” says Hallam,3 “has an excellent remark on this controversy.” Bayle’s remark is as follows: “Whenever Protestants complain, they are answered by the right which Calvin and Beza recognised in magistrates; and to this day there has been nobody who has not failed pitiably against this argumentum ad hominem.”
No question of the merits of the Reformation or of persecution is involved in an inquiry as to the source and connection of the opinions on toleration held by the Protestant reformers. No man’s sentiments on the rightfulness of religious persecution will be affected by the theories we have described, and they have no bearing whatever on doctrinal controversy. Those who—in agreement with the principle of the early Church, that men are free in matters of conscience — condemn all intolerance, will censure Catholics and Protestants alike. Those who pursue the same principle one step farther and practically invert it, by insisting on the right and duty not only of professing but of extending the truth, must, as it seems to us, approve the conduct both of Protestants and Catholics, unless they make the justice of the persecution depend on the truth of the doctrine defended, in which case they will divide on both sides. Such persons, again, as are more strongly impressed with the cruelty of actual executions than with the danger of false theories, may concentrate their indignation on the Catholics of Languedoc and Spain; while those who judge principles, not by the accidental details attending their practical realisation, but by the reasoning on which they are founded, will arrive at a verdict adverse to the Protestants. These comparative inquiries, however, have little serious interest. If we give our admiration to tolerance, we must remember that the Spanish Moors and the Turks in Europe have been more tolerant than the Christians; and if we admit the principle of intolerance, and judge its application by particular conditions, we are bound to acknowledge that the Romans had better reason for persecution than any modern State, since their empire was involved in the decline of the old religion, with which it was bound up, whereas no Christian polity has been subverted by the mere presence of religious dissent. The comparison is, moreover, entirely unreasonable, for there is nothing in common between Catholic and Protestant intolerance. The Church began with the principle of liberty, both as her claim and as her rule; and external circumstances forced intolerance upon her, after her spirit of unity had triumphed, in spite both of the freedom she proclaimed and of the persecutions she suffered. Protestantism set up intolerance as an imperative precept and as a part of its doctrine, and it was forced to admit toleration by the necessities of its position, after the rigorous penalties it imposed had failed to arrest the process of internal dissolution.1
At the time when this involuntary change occurred the sects that caused it were the bitterest enemies of the toleration they demanded. In the same age the Puritans and the Catholics sought a refuge beyond the Atlantic from the persecution which they suffered together under the Stuarts. Flying for the same reason, and from the same oppression, they were enabled respectively to carry out their own views in the colonies which they founded in Massachusetts and Maryland, and the history of those two States exhibits faithfully the contrast between the two Churches. The Catholic emigrants established, for the first time in modern history, a government in which religion was free, and with it the germ of that religious liberty which now prevails in America. The Puritans, on the other hand, revived with greater severity the penal laws of the mother country. In process of time the liberty of conscience in the Catholic colony was forcibly abolished by the neighbouring Protestants of Virginia; while on the borders of Massachusetts the new State of Rhode Island was formed by a party of fugitives from the intolerance of their fellow-colonists.
[1 ]The Rambler, March 1862.
[1 ]“Le vrai principe de Luther est celui-ci: La volonté est esclave par nature. . . . Le libre examen a été pour Luther un moyen et non un principe. Il s’en est servi, et était contraint de s’en servir pour établir son vrai principe, qui était la toute-puissance de la foi et de la grâce. . . . C’est ainsi que le libre examen s’imposa au Protestantisme. L’accessoire devint le principal, et la forme dévora plus ou moins le fond” (Janet, Histoire de la Philosophie Morale, ii. 38, 39).
[1 ]“If they prohibit true doctrine, and punish their subjects for receiving the entire sacrament, as Christ ordained it, compel the people to idolatrous practices, with masses for the dead, indulgences, invocation of saints, and the like, in these things they exceed their office, and seek to deprive God of the obedience due to Him. For God requires from us this above all, that we hear His Word, and follow it; but where the Government desires to prevent this, the subjects must know that they are not bound to obey it” (Luther’s Werke, xiii. 2244). “Non est, mi Spalatine, principum et istius saeculi Pontificum tueri verbum Dei, nec ea gratia ullorum peto praesidium” (Luther’s Briefe, ed. De Wette, i. 521, Nov. 4, 1520). “I will compel and urge by force no man; for the faith must be voluntary and not compulsory, and must be adopted without violence” (“Sermonen an Carlstadt,” Werke, xx. 24, 1522).
[2 ]“Schrift an den christlichen Adel” (Werke, x. 574, June 1520). His proposition, Haereticos comburi esse contra voluntatem spiritus, was one of those condemned by Leo X. as pestilent, scandalous, and contrary to Christian charity.
[1 ]“Nihil non tentabunt Romanenses, nec potest satis Huttenus me monere, adeo mihi de veneno timet” (De Wette, i. 487). “Etiam inimici mei quidam miserti per amicos ex Halberstadio fecerunt moneri me: esse quemdam doctorem medicinae, qui arte magica factus pro libito invisibilis, quemdam occidit, mandatum habentem et occidendi Lutheri, venturumque ad futuram Dominicam ostensionis reliquiarum: valde hoc constanter narratur” (De Wette, i. 441). “Est hic apud nos Judaeus Polonus, missus sub pretio 2000 aureorum, ut me veneno perdat, ab amicis per literas mihi proditus. Doctor est medicinae, et nihil non audere et facere paratus incredibili astutia et agilitate” (De Wette, ii. 616). See also Jarcke, Studien zur Geschichte der Reformation, p. 176.
[2 ]“Multa ego premo et causa principis et universitatis nostrae cohibeo, quae (si alibi essem) evomerem in vastatricem Scripturae et Ecclesiae Romanae. . . . Timeo miser, ne forte non sim dignus pati et occidi pro tali causa: erit ista felicitas meliorum hominum, non tam foedi peccatoris. Dixi tibi semper me paratum esse cedere loco, si qua ego principi ill. viderer periculo hic vivere. Aliquando certe moriendum est, quanquam jam edita vernacula quadam apologia satis aduler Romanae Ecclesiae et Pontifici, si quid forte id prosit” (De Wette, i. 260, 261). “Ubi periculum est, ne iis protectoribus tutus saevius in Romanenses sim grassaturus, quam si sub principis imperio publicis militarem officiis docendi. . . . Ego vicissim, nisi ignem habere nequeam damnabo, publiceque concremabo jus pontificium totum, id est, lernam illam haeresium; et finem habebit humilitatis exhibitae hactenusque frustratae observantia qua nolo amplius inflari hostes Evangelii” (Ibid. pp. 465, 466, July 10, 1520).
[3 ]“Out of the Gospel and divine truth come devilish lies; . . . from the blood in our body comes corruption; out of Luther come Müntzer, and rebels, Anabaptists, Sacramentarians, and false brethren” (Werke, i. 75).
[4 ]“Habemus,” wrote Erasmus, “fructum tui spiritus. . . . Non agnoscis hosce seditiosos, opinor, sed illi te agnoscunt . . . nec tamen efficis quominus credant homines per tuos libellos . . . pro libertate evangelica, contra tyrannidem humanam, hisce tumultibus fuisse datam occasionem.” “And who will deny,” adds a Protestant classic, “that the fault was partly owing to them?” (Planck, Geschichte der protestantischen Kirche, ii. 183).
[1 ]“Ich sehe das wohl, dass der Teufel, so er mich bisher nicht hat mögen umbringen durch den Pabst, sucht er mich durch die blutdürstigen Mordpropheten und Rottengeisten, so unter euch sind, zu vertilgen und auffressen” (Werke, xvi. 77).
[2 ]Schenkel, Wesen des Protestantismus, iii. 348, 351; Hagen, Geist der Reformation, ii. 146, 151; Menzel, Neuere Geschichte der Deutschen, i. 115.
[3 ]See the best of his biographies, Jürgens, Luther’s Leben, iii. 601.
[4 ]“Quid hoc ad me? qui sciam etiam Turcam honorandum et ferendum potestatis gratia. Quia certus sum non nisi volente Deo ullam potestatem consistere” (De Wette, i. 236).
[5 ]“I beg first of all that you will not help to mollify Count Albert in these matters, but let him go on as he has begun. . . . Encourage him to go on briskly, to leave things in the hands of God, and obey His divine command to wield the sword as long as he can.” “Do not allow yourselves to be much disturbed, for it will redound to the advantage of many souls that will be terrified by it, and preserved.” “If there are innocent persons amongst them, God will surely save and preserve them, as He did with Lot and Jeremiah. If He does not, then they are certainly not innocent. . . . We must pray for them that they obey, otherwise this is no time for compassion; just let the guns deal with them.” “Sentio melius esse omnes rusticos caedi quam principes et magistratus, eo quod rustici sine autoritate Dei gladium accipiunt. Quam nequitiam Satanae sequi non potest nisi mera Satanica vastitas regni Dei, et mundi principes etsi excedunt, tamen gladium autoritate Dei gerunt. Ibi utrumque regnum consistere potest, quare nulla misericordia, nulla patientia rusticis debetur, sed ira et indignatio Dei et hominum” (De Wette, ii. 653, 655, 666, 669, 671).
[1 ]“Wir lehren die christlich Obrigkeit möge nicht nur, sondern solle auch sich der Religion und Glaubenssachen mit Ernst annehmen; davon halten die Wiedertäufer steif das Widerspiel, welches sie auch zum Theil gemein haben mit den Prälaten der römischen Kirche” (Declaration of the Protestants, quoted in Jörg, Deutschland von 1522 bis 1526, p. 709).
[2 ]“As to your question, how they are to be punished, I do not consider them blasphemers, but regard them in the light of the Turks, or deluded Christians, whom the civil power has not to punish, at least bodily. But if they refuse to acknowledge and to obey the civil authority, then they forfeit all they have and are, for then sedition and murder are certainly in their hearts” (De Wette, ii. 622; Osiander’s opinion in Jörg, p. 706).
[3 ]“Dass in dem Urtheil und desselben öffentlicher Verkündigung keines Irrthums oder Ketzereien . . . sondern allein der Aufruhr und fürgenommenen Morderei, die ihm doch laut seiner Urgicht nie lieb gewesen, gedacht werde” (Jörg, p. 708).
[1 ]“Principes nostri non cogunt ad fidem et Evangelion, sed cohibent externas abominationes” (De Wette, iii. 50). “Wenn die weltliche Obrigkeit die Verbrechen wider die zweite Gesetzestafel bestrafen, und aus der menschlichen Gesellschaft tilgen solle, wie vielmehr denn die Verbrechen wider die erste?” (Luther, apud Bucholtz, Geschichte Ferdinands I., iii. 571).
[2 ]Planck, iv. 61, explains why this was not thought of.
[3 ]Linde, Staatskirche, p. 23. “Der Papst sammt seinem Haufen glaubt nicht; darum bekennen wir, er werde nicht selig, das ist verdammt werden” (Table-Talk, ii. 350).
[4 ]Kaltenborn, Vorläufer des Grotius, 208.
[1 ]Möhler, Symbolik, 428.
[2 ]“Quodsi unam legem Mosi cogimur servare, eadem ratione et circumcidemur, et totam legem servare oportebit. . . . Nunc vero non sumus amplius sub lege Mosi, sed subjecti legibus civilibus in talibus rebus” (Luther to Barnes, Sept. 5, 1531; De Wette, iv. 296).
[3 ]“All things that we find done by the patriarchs in the Old Testament ought to be free and not forbidden. Circumcision is abolished, but not so that it would be a sin to perform it, but optional, neither sinful nor acceptable. . . . In like manner it is not forbidden that a man should have more than one wife. Even at the present day I could not prohibit it; but I would not recommend it” (Commentary on Genesis, 1528; see Jarcke, Studien, p. 108). “Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, siquis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis: verum tamen apud Christianos id exempli nollem primo introduci, apud quos decet etiam ea intermittere, quae licita sunt, pro vitando scandalo, et pro honestate vitae” (De Wette, ii. 459, Jan. 13, 1524). “From these instances of bigamy (Lamech, Jacob) no rule can be drawn for our times; and such examples have no power with us Christians, for we live under our authorities, and are subject to our civil laws” (Table-Talk, v. 64).
[1 ]“Antequam tale repudium, probarem potius regi permitterem alteram reginam quoque ducere, et exemplo patrum et regum duas simul uxores seu reginas habere. . . . Si peccavit ducendo uxorem fratris mortui, peccavit in legem humanam seu civilem; si autem repudiaverit, peccabit in legem mere divinam” (De Wette, iv. 296). “Haud dubio rex Angliae uxorem fratris mortui ductam retinere potest . . . docendus quod has res politicas commiserit Deus magistratibus, neque nos alligaverit ad Moisen. . . . Si vult rex successioni prospicere, quanto satius est, id facere sine infamia prioris conjugii. Ac potest id fieri sine ullo periculo conscientiae cujuscunque aut famae per polygamiam. Etsi enim non velim concedere polygamiam vulgo, dixi enim supra, nos non ferre leges, tamen in hoc casu propter magnam utilitatem regni, fortassis etiam propter conscientiam regis, ita pronuncio: tutissimum esse regi, si ducat secundam uxorem, priore non abjecta, quia certum est polygamiam non esse prohibitam jure divino, nec res est omnino inusitata” (Melanthonis Opera, ed. Bretschneider, ii. 524, 526). “Nolumus esse auctores divortii, cum conjugium cum jure divino non pugnet. Hi, qui diversum pronunciant, terribiliter exaggerant et exasperant jus divinum. Nos contra exaggeramus in rebus politicis auctoritatem magistratus, quae profecto non est levis, multaque justa sunt propter magistratus auctoritatem, quae alioqui in dubium vocantur” (Melanchthon to Bucer, Bretschneider, ii. 552).
[2 ]“Suadere non possumus ut introducatur publice et velut lege sanciatur permissio, plures quam unam uxores ducendi. . . . Primum ante omnia cavendum, ne haec res inducatur in orbem ad modum legis, quam sequendi libera omnibus sit potestas. Deinde considerare dignetur vestra celsitudo scandalum, nimirum quod Evangelio hostes exclamaturi sint, nos similes esse Anabaptistis, qui plures simul duxerunt uxores” (De Wette, v. 236. Signed by Luther, Melanchthon, and Bucer).
[3 ]“He that would appear wise will not be satisfied with anything that others do; he must do something for himself, and that must be better than anything. This fool (Copernicus) wants to overturn the whole science of astronomy. But, as the holy Scriptures tell us, Joshua told the sun to stand still, and not the earth” (Table-Talk, iv. 575).
[1 ]“Das ist die christliche Freiheit, der einige Glaube, der da macht, nicht dass wir müssig gehen oder übel thun mögen, sondern dass wir keines Werks bedürfen, die Frömmigkeit und Seligkeit zu erlangen” (Sermon von der Freiheit). A Protestant historian, who quotes this passage, goes on to say: “On the other hand, the body must be brought under discipline by every means, in order that it may obey and not burden the inner man. Outward servitude, therefore, assists the progress towards internal freedom” (Bensen, Geschichte des Bauernkriegs, 269.)
[2 ]Werke, x. 413.
[3 ]“According to Scripture, it is by no means proper that one who would be a Christian should set himself against his superiors, whether by God’s permission they act justly or unjustly. But a Christian must suffer violence and wrong, especially from his superiors. . . . As the emperor continues emperor, and princes princes, though they transgress all God’s commandments, yea, even if they be heathen, so they do even when they do not observe their oath and duty. . . . Sin does not suspend authority and allegiance” (De Wette, iii. 560).
[4 ]Ranke, Reformation, iii. 183.
[1 ]Ranke, iv. 7; Jürgens, iii. 601.
[2 ]Newman, Lectures on Justification, p. 386.
[3 ]“Was durch ordentliche Gewalt geschieht, ist nicht für Aufruhr zu halten” (Bensen, p. 269; Jarcke, Studien, p, 312; Janet, ii. 40).
[4 ]“Princes, and all rulers and governments, however pious and God-fearing they may be, cannot be without sin in their office and temporal administration. . . . They cannot always be so exactly just and successful as some wiseacres suppose; therefore they are above all in need of the forgiveness of sins” (see Kaltenborn, p. 209).
[1 ]“Of old, under the Papacy, princes and lords, and all judges, were very timid in shedding blood, and punishing robbers, murderers, thieves, and all manner of evil-doers; for they knew not how to distinguish a private individual who is not in office from one in office, charged with the duty of punishing. . . . The executioner had always to do penance, and to apologise beforehand to the convicted criminal for what he was going to do to him, just as if it was sinful and wrong.” “Thus they were persuaded by monks to be gracious, indulgent, and peaceable. But authorities, princes and lords ought not to be merciful” (Table-Talk, iv. 159, 160).
[2 ]“Den weltlichen Bann sollten Könige und Kaiser wieder aufrichten, denn wir können ihn jetzt nicht anrichten. . . . Aber so wir nicht können die Sünde des Lebens bannen und strafen, so bannen wir doch die Sünde der Lehre” (Bruns, Luther’s Predigten, 63).
[3 ]“Wo sie solche Rottengeister würden zulassen und leiden, so sie es doch wehren und vorkommen können, würden sie ihre Gewissen gräulich beschweren, und vielleicht nimmermehr widder stillen können, nicht allein der Seelen halben, die dadurch verführt und verdammt werden . . . sondern auch der ganzen heiligen Kirchen halben” (De Wette, iv. 355).
[4 ]“Nu ist alle Abgötterey gegen die Messe ein geringes” (De Wette, v. 191; sec. iv. 307)
[5 ]Bucholtz, iii. 570.
[1 ]“Sie aber verachten die Schrift muthwilliglich, darum wären sie billig aus der einigen Ursach zu stillen, oder nicht zu leiden” (De Wette, iii. 90).
[2 ]“Wollen sie aber wie die Juden seyn, nicht Christen heissen, noch Kaisers Glieder, sondern sich lassen Christus und Kaisers Feinde nennen, wie die Juden; wohlan, so wollen wir’s auch leiden, dass sie in ihren Synagogen, wie die Juden, verschlossen lästern, so lang sie wollen” (De Wette, iv. 94).
[3 ]Riffel, Kirchengeschichte, ii. 9; Table-Talk, iii. 175.
[4 ]“Ego ab initio, cum primum caepi nosse Ciconiam et Ciconiae factionem, unde hoc totum genus Anabaptistarum exortum est, fui stulte clemens. Sentiebant enim et alii haereticos non esse ferro opprimendos. Et tunc dux Fridericus vehementer iratus erat Ciconiae: ac nisi a nobis tectus esset, fuisset de homine furioso et perdite malo sumtum supplicium. Nunc me ejus clementiae non parum poenitet. . . . Brentius nimis clemens est” (Bretschneider, ii. 17. Feb. 1530).
[1 ]“Sed objiciunt exemplum nobis periculosum: si haec pertinent ad magistratus, quoties igitur magistratus judicabit aliquos errare, saeviet in eos. Caesar igitur debet nos opprimere, quoniam ita judicat nos errare. Respondeo: certe debet errores et prohibere et punire. . . . Non est enim solius Caesaris cognitio, sicut in urbibus haec cognitio non est tantum magistratus prophani, sed est doctorum. Viderit igitur magistratus ut recte judicet” (Bretschneider, ii. 712). “Deliberent igitur principes, non cum tyrannis, non cum pontificibus, non cum hypocritis, monachis aut aliis, sed cum ipsa Evangelii voce, cum probatis scriptoribus” (Bretschneider, iii. 254).
[1 ]“Quare ita sentias, magistratum debere uti summa severitate in coercendis hujusmodi spiritibus. . . . Sines igitur novis exemplis timorem incuti multitudini . . . ad haec notae tibi sint causae seditionum, quas gladio prohiberi oportet. . . . Propterea sentio de his qui etiamsi non defendunt seditiosos articulos, habent manifeste blasphemos, quod interfici a magistratu debeant” (ii. 17, 18). “De Anabaptistis tulimus hic in genere sententiam: quia constat sectam diabolicam esse, non esse tolerandam: dissipari enim ecclesias per eos, cum ipsi nullam habeant certam doctrinam. . . . Ideo in capita factionum in singulis locis ultima supplicia constituenda esse judicavimus” (ii. 549). “It is clear that it is the duty of secular government to punish blasphemy, false doctrine, and heresy, on the bodies of those who are guilty of them. . . . Since it is evident that there are gross errors in the articles of the Anabaptist sect, we conclude that in this case the obstinate ought to be punished with death” (iii. 199). “Propter hanc causam Deus ordinavit politias ut Evangelium propagari possit . . . nec revocamus politiam Moysi, sed lex moralis perpetua est omnium aetatum . . . quandocumque constat doctrinam esse impiam, nihil dubium est quin sanior pars Ecclesiae debeat malos pastores removere et abolere impios cultus. Et hanc emendationem praecipue adjuvare debent magistratus, tanquam potiora membra Ecclesiae” (iii. 242, 244). “Thammerus, qui Mahometicas seu Ethnicas opiniones spargit, vagatur in dioecesi Mindensi, quem publicis suppliciis adficere debebant. . . . Evomuit blasphemias, quae refutandae sunt non tantum disputatione aut scriptis, sed etiam justo officio pii magistratus” (ix. 125, 131).
[2 ]“Voco autem blasphemos qui articulos habent, qui proprie non pertinent ad civilem statum, sed continent θεωρίας ut de divinitate Christi et similes. Etsi enim gradus quidam sunt, tamen huc etiam refero baptismum infantum. . . . Quia magistratui commissa est tutela totius legis, quod attinet ad externam disciplinam et externa facta. Quare delicta externa contra primam tabulam prohibere ac punire debet. . . . Quare non solum concessum est, sed etiam mandatum est magistratui, impias doctrinas abolere, et tueri pias in suis ditionibus” (ii. 711). “Ecclesiastica potestas tantum judicat et excommunicat haereticos, non occidit. Sed potestas civilis debet constituere poenas et supplicia in haereticos, sicut in blasphemos constituit supplicia. . . . Non enim plectitur fides, sed haeresis” (xii. 697).
[1 ]“Notum est etiam, quosdam tetra et δύσϕημα dixisse de sanguine Christi, quos puniri oportuit, et propter gloriam Christi, et exempli causa” (viii. 553). “Argumentatur ille praestigiator (Schwenkfeld), verbum externum non esse medium, quo Deus est efficax. Talis sophistica principum severitate compescenda erat” (ix. 579).
[2 ]“The office of preacher is distinct from that of governor, yet both have to contribute to the praise of God. Princes are not only to protect the goods and bodily life of their subjects, but the principal function is to promote the honour of God, and to prevent idolatry and blasphemy” (iii. 199). “Errant igitur magistratus, qui divellunt gubernationem a fine, et se tantum pacis ac ventris custodes esse existimant. . . . At si tantum venter curandus esset, quid differrent principes ab armentariis? Nam longe aliter sentiendum est. Politias divinitus admirabili sapientia et bonitate constitutas esse, non tantum ad quaerenda et fruenda ventris bona, sed multo magis, ut Deus in societate innotescat, ut aeterna bona quaerantur” (iii. 246).
[3 ]“Neque illa barbarica excusatio audienda est, leges illas pertinere ad politiam Mosaicam, non ad nostram. Ut Decalogus ipse ad omnes pertinet, ita judex ubique omnia Decalogi officia in externa disciplina tueatur” (viii. 520).
[4 ]“Legi scriptum tuum, in quo refutasti luculenter horrendas Serveti blasphemias, ac filio Dei gratias ago, qui fuit βραβεντὴς hujus tui agonis. Tibi quoque Ecclesia et nunc et ad posteros gratitudinem debet et debebit. Tuo judicio prorsus adsentior. Affirmo etiam, vestros magistratus juste fecisse, quod hominem blasphemum, re ordine judicata, interfecerunt” (Melanchthon to Calvin, Bretschneider, viii. 362). “Judico etiam Senatum Genevensem recte fecisse, quod hominem pertinacem et non omissurum blasphemias sustulit. Ac miratus sum, esse, qui severitatem illam improbent” (viii. 523). “Dedit vero et Genevensis reip. magistratus ante annos quatuor punitae insanabilis blasphemiae adversus filium Dei, sublato Serveto Arragone pium et memorabile ad omnem posteritatem exemplum” (ix. 133).
[1 ]“Abusus missae per magistratus debet tolli. Non aliter, atque sustulit aeneum serpentem Ezechias, aut excelsa demolitus est Josias” (i. 480). “Politicis magistratibus severissime mandatum est, ut suo quisque loco manibus et armis tollant statuas, ad quas fiunt hominum concursus et invocationes, et puniant suppliciis corporum insanabiles, qui idolorum cultum pertinaciter retinent, aut blasphemias serunt” (ix. 77).
[1 ]“If the French and English community at Frankfort shared the errors of Servetus or Thamer, or other enemies of the Symbols, or the errors of the Anabaptists on infant baptism, against the authority of the State, etc., I should faithfully advise and strongly recommend that they should be soon driven away; for the civil power is bound to prevent and to punish proved blasphemy and sedition. But I find that this community is orthodox in the symbolical articles on the Son of God, and in other articles of the Symbol. . . . If the faith of the citizens in every town were inquired into, what trouble and confusion would not arise in many countries and towns!” (ix. 179).
[2 ]Schmidt, Philipp Melanchthon, p. 640. His exhortations to the Landgrave to put down the Zwinglians are characteristic: “The Zwinglians, without waiting for the Council, persecute the Papists and the Anabaptists; why must it be wrong for others to prohibit their indefensible doctrine independent of the Council?” Philip replied: “Forcibly, to prohibit a doctrine which neither contradicts the articles of faith nor encourages sedition, I do not think right. . . . When Luther began to write and to preach, he admonished and instructed the Government that it had no right to forbid books or to prevent preaching, and that its office did not extend so far, but that it had only to govern the body and goods. . . . I had not heard before that the Zwinglians persecute the Papists; but if they abolish abuses, it is not unjust, for the Papists wish to deserve heaven by their works, and so blaspheme the Son of God. That they should persecute the Anabaptists is also not wrong, for their doctrine is in part seditious.” The divines answered: “If by God’s grace our true and necessary doctrine is tolerated as it has hitherto been by the emperor, though reluctantly, we think that we ought not to prevent it by undertaking the defence of the Zwinglian doctrine, if that should not be tolerated. . . . As to the argument that we ought to spare the people while persecuting the leaders, our answer is, that it is not a question of persons, but only of doctrine, whether it be true or false” (Correspondence of Brenz and Melanchthon with Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Bretschneider, ii. 95, 98, 101).
[1 ]Hardwicke, Reformation, p. 274.
[2 ]Seidemann, Thomas Münzer, p. 35.
[3 ]Schenkel, iii. 381.
[4 ]Heinrich Grosbeck’s Bericht, ed. Cornelius, 19.
[1 ]Herzog, Encyclopädie für protestantische Theologie, ii. 418.
[2 ]Bussierre, Establissement du Protestantisme en Alsace, p. 429.
[3 ]Baum, Capito und Butzer, p. 489.
[1 ]Baum, p. 492; Erbkam, Protestantische Sekten, p. 581.
[2 ]Ursinus writes to Bullinger: “Liberavit nos Deus ab idolatria: succedit licentia infinita et horribilis divini nominis, ecclesiae doctrinae purioris et sacramentorum prophanatio et sub pedibus porcorum et canum, conniventibus atque utinam non defendentibus iis qui prohibere suo loco debebant, conculcatio” (Sudhoff, Olevianus und Ursinus, p. 340).
[1 ]“Adserere audemus, neminem magistratum recte gerere ne posse quidem, nisi Christianus sit” (Zuingli, Opera, iii. 296). “If they shall proceed in an unbrotherly way, and against the ordinance of Christ, then let them be deposed, in God’s name” (Schenkel, iii. 362).
[2 ]Christoffel, Huldreich Zwingli, p. 251.
[3 ]Zwingli’s advice to the Protestants of St. Gall, in Pressel, Joachim Vadian, p. 45.
[4 ]Pestalozzi, Heinrich Bullinger, p. 95.
[5 ]Ibid., Leo Judä, p. 50.
[1 ]Pestalozzi, Heinrich Bullinger, p. 146.
[2 ]Ibid. p. 149.
[3 ]Ibid. p. 270.
[1 ]Pestalozzi, Heinrich Bullinger, p. 426.
[2 ]In the year 1555 he writes to Socinus: “I too am of opinion that heretical men must be cut off with the spiritual sword. . . . The Lutherans at first did not understand that sectaries must be restrained and punished, but after the fall of Münster, when thousands of poor misguided men, many of them orthodox, had perished, they were compelled to admit that it is wiser and better for the Government not only to restrain wrong-headed men, but also, by putting to death a few that deserve it, to protect thousands of inhabitants” (Ibid. p. 428).
[3 ]Herzog, Leben Oekolampads, ii. 197.
[4 ]Ibid. p. 189.
[5 ]Ibid. p. 206.
[1 ]Herzog, Leben Oekolampads, ii. 195. Herzog finds an excuse for the harsh treatment of the Lutherans at Basel in the still greater severity of the Lutheran Churches against the followers of the Swiss reformation (Ibid. 213).
[2 ]Hundeshagen, Conflikte des Zwinglianismus und Calvinismus, 41.
[1 ]“Huc spectat (politia) . . . ne idololatria, ne in Dei nomen sacrilegia, ne adversus ejus veritatem blasphemiae aliaeque religionis offensiones publice emergant ac in populum spargantur. . . . Politicam ordinationem probo, quae in hoc incumbit, ne vera religio, quae Dei lege continetur, palam, publicisque sacrilegiis impune violetur” (Institutio Christianae Religionis, ed. Tholuck, ii. 477). “Hoc ergo summopere requiritur a regibus, ut gladio quo praediti sunt utantur ad cultum Dei asserendum” (Praelectiones in Prophetas, Opera, v. 233, ed. 1667).
[2 ]“Huic etiam colligere promptum est, quam stulta fuerit imaginatio eorum qui volebant usum gladii tollere e mundo, Evangelii praetextu. Scimus Anabaptistas fuisse tumultuatos, quasi totus ordo politicus repugnaret Christi regno, quia regnum Christi continetur sola doctrina; deinde nulla futura sit vis. Hoc quidem verum esset, si essemus in hoc mundo angeli: sed quemadmodum jam dixi, exiguus est piorum numerus: ideo necesse est reliquam turbam cohiberi violento freno: quia permixti sunt filii Dei vel saevis belluis, vel vulpibus et fraudulentis hominibus” (Pr. in Michaeam, v. 310). “In quo non suam modo inscitiam, sed diabolicum fastum produnt, dum perfectionem sibi arrogant; cujus ne centesima quidem pars in illis conspicitur” (Institutio, ii. 478).
[3 ]“Tota igitur excellentia, tota dignitas, tota potentia Ecclesiae debet huc referri, ut omnia subjaceant Deo, et quicquid erit in gentibus hoc totum sit sacrum, ut scilicet cultus Dei tam apud victores quam apud victos vigeat’ (Pr. in Michaeam, v. 317).
[1 ]“Ita tollitur offensio, quae multos imperitos fallit, dum metuunt ne hoc praetextu ad saeviendum armentur Papae carnifices.” Calvin was warned by experience of the imprudence of Luther’s language. “In Gallis proceres in excusanda saevitia immani allegant autoritatem Lutheri” (Melanchthon, Opera, v. 176).
[2 ]“Vous avez deux espèces de mutins qui se sont eslevez entre le roy et l’estat du royaume: Les uns sont gens fantastiques, qui soubs couleur de l’évangile vouldroient mettre tout en confusion. Les aultres sont gens obstinés aux superstitions de l’Antéchrist de Rome. Tous ensemble méritent bien d’estre réprimés par le glayve qui vous est commis, veu qu’ils s’attaschent non seulement au roy, mais à Dieu qui l’a assis au siège royal” (Calvin to Somerset, Oct, 22, 1540; Lettres de Calvin, ed. Bonnet, i. 267. See also Henry, Leben Calvins, ii. Append. 30).
[3 ]“Abdicant enim se potestate terreni principes dum insurgunt contra Deum: imo indigni sunt qui censeantur in hominum numero. Potius ergo conspuere oportet in ipsorum capita, quam illis parere, ubi ita proterviunt ut velint etiam spoliare Deum jure suo, et quasi occupare solium ejus, acsi possent eum a coelo detrahere” (Pr. in Danielem, v. 91).
[4 ]“Quant au serment qu’on vous a contraincte de faire, comme vous avez failli et offensé Dieu en le faisant, aussi n’estes-vous tenue de le garder” (Calvin to the Duchess of Ferrara, Bonnet, ii. 338). She had taken an oath, at her husband’s death, that she would not correspond with Calvin.
[5 ]“In aulis regum videmus primas teneri a bestiis. Nam hodie, ne repetamus veteres historias, ut reges fere omnes fatui sunt ac bruti, ita etiam sunt quasi equi et asini brutorum animalium. . . . Reges sunt hodie fere mancipia” (Pr. in Danielem, v. 82). “Videmus enim ut hodie quoque pro sua libidine commoveant totum orbem principes; quia produnt alii aliis innoxios populos, et exercent foedam nundinationem, dum quisque commodum suum venatur, et sine ullo pudore, tantum ut augeat suam potentiam, alios tradit in manum inimici” (Pr. in Nahum, v. 363). “Hodie pudet reges aliquid prae se ferre humanum, sed omnes gestus accommodant ad tyrannidem” (Pr. in Jeremiam, v. 257).
[1 ]“Sur ce que je vous avais allégué, que David nous instruict par son exemple de haïr les ennemis de Dieu, vous respondez que c’estoit pour ce tempslà duquel sous la loi de rigueur il estoit permis de haïr les ennemis. Or, madame, ceste glose seroit pour renverser toute l’Escriture, et partant il la fault fuir comme une peste mortelle. . . . Combien que j’aye tousjours prié Dieu de luy faire mercy, si est-ce que j’ay souvent désiré que Dieu mist la main sur luy (Guise) pour en deslivrer son Eglise, s’il ne le vouloit convertir” (Calvin to the Duchess of Ferrara, Bonnet, ii. 551). Luther was in this respect equally unscrupulous: “This year we must pray Duke Maurice to death, we must kill him with our prayers; for he will be an evil man” (MS. quoted in Döllinger, Reformation, iii. 266).
[2 ]“Quod de praepostero nostrorum fervore scribis, verissimum est, neque tamen ulla occurrit moderandi ratio, quia sanis consiliis non obtemperant. Passim denuntio, si judex essem me non minus severe in rabioso, istos impetus vindicaturum, quam rex suis edictis mandat. Pergendum nihilominus, quando nos Deus voluit stultis esse debitores” (Calvin to Beza; Henry, Leben Calvins, iii. Append. 164).
[3 ]“Il n’a tenu qu’à moi que, devant la guerre, gens de faict et d’exécution ne se soyent efforcez de l’exterminer du monde (Guise) lesquels ont esté retenus par ma seule exhortation.”—Bonnet, ii. 553.
[4 ]“Hoc nobis si assidue ob animos et oculos obversetur, eodem decreto constitui etiam nequissimos reges, quo regum auctoritas statuitur; nunquam in animum nobis seditiosae illae cogitationes venient, tractandum esse pro meritis regem nec aequum esse, ut subditos ei nos praestemus, qui vicissim regem nobis se non praestet. . . . De privatis hominibus semper loquor. Nam si qui nunc sint populares magistratus ad moderandam regum libidinem constituti (quales olim erant . . . ephori . . . tribuni . . . demarchi: et qua etiam forte potestate, ut nunc res habent, funguntur in singulis regnis tres ordines, quum primarios conventus peragunt) . . . illos ferocienti regum licentiae pro officio intercedere non veto” (Institutio, ii. 493, 495).
[1 ]“Quum ergo ita licentiose omnia sibi permittent (Donatistae), volebant tamen impune manere sua scelera: et in primis tenebant hoc principium: non esse poenas sumendas, si quis ab aliis dissideret in religionis doctrina: quemadmodum hodie videmus quosdam de hac re nimis cupide contendere. Certum est quid cupiant. Nam si quis ipsos respiciat, sunt impii Dei contemptores: saltem vellent nihil certum esse in religione; ideo labefactare, et quantum in se est etiam convellere nituntur omnia pietatis principia. Ut ergo liceat ipsis evomere virus suum, ideo tantopere litigant pro impunitate, et negant poenas de haereticis et blasphemis sumendas esse” (Pr. in Danielem, v. 51).
[2 ]“Defensio Orthodoxae Fidei . . . ubi ostenditur Haereticos jure gladii coercendos esse,” 1554.
[1 ]“Non modo liberum esse magistratibus poenas sumere de coelestis doctrinae corruptoribus, sed divinitus esse mandatum, ut pestiferis erroribus impunitatem dare nequeant, quin desciscant ab officii sui fide. . . . Nunc vero quisquis haereticis et blasphemis injuste paenam infligi contenderet, sciens et volens se obstringet blasphemiae reatu. . . . Ubi a suis fundamentis convellitur religio, detestandae in Deum blasphemiae proferuntur, impiis et pestiferis dogmatibus in exitium rapiuntur animae; denique ubi palam defectio ab unico Deo puraque doctrina tentatur, ad extremum illud remedium descendere necesse” (see Schenkel, iii. 389; Dyer, Life of Calvin, p. 354; Henry, iii. 234).
[2 ]De Haereticis an sint persequendi, Magdeburgi, 1554. Chataillon, to whom it is generally attributed, was not the author (see Heppe, Theodor Beza, p. 37).
[3 ]Hallam, Literature of Europe, ii. 81; Schlosser, Leben des Beza, p. 55. This is proved by the following passage from the dedication: “This I say not to favour the heretics, whom I abhor, but because there are here two dangerous rocks to be avoided. In the first place, that no man should be deemed a heretic when he is not, . . . and that the real rebel be distinguished from the Christian who, by following the teaching and example of his Master, necessarily causes separation from the wicked and unbelieving. The other danger is, lest the real heretics be not more severely punished than the discipline of the Church requires” (Baum, Theodor Beza, i. 215).
[4 ]“Multis piis hominibus in Gallia exustis grave passim apud Germanos odium ignes illi excitaverant, sparsi sunt, ejus restinguendi causa, improbi ac mendaces libelli, non alios tam crudeliter tractari, quam Anabaptistas ac turbulentos homines, qui perversis deliriis non religionem modo sed totum ordinem politicum convellerent. . . . Haec mihi edendae Institutionis causa fuit, primum ut ab injusta contumelia vindicarem fratres meos, quorum mors pretiosa erat in conspectu Domini; deinde quum multis miseris eadem visitarent supplicia, pro illis dolor saltem aliquis et sollicitudo exteras gentes tangeret” (Praefatio in Psalmos. See “Historia Litteraria de Calvini Institutione,” in Scrinium Antiquarium, ii. 452).
[1 ]Baum, i. 206. “Telles gens,” says Calvin, “seroient contents qu’il n’y eust ne loy, ne bride au monde. Voilà pourquoy ils ont basti ce beau libvre De non comburendis Haereticis, où ils ont falsifié les noms tant des villes que des personnes, non pour aultre cause sinon pource que le dit livre est farcy de blasphèmes insupportables” (Bonnet, ii. 18).
[2 ]De Haereticis a civili Magistratu puniendis, 1554.
[3 ]“Absit autem a nobis, ut in eos, qui vel simplicitate peccant, sine aliorum pernicie et insigni blasphemia, vel in explicando quopiam Scripturae loco dissident a recepta opinione, magistratum armemus” (Tractatus Theologici, i. 95).
[4 ]This was sometimes the practice in Catholic countries, where heresy was equivalent to treason. Duke William of Bavaria ordered obstinate Anabaptists to be burnt; those who recanted to be beheaded. “Welcher revocir, den soll man köpfen; welcher nicht revocir, den soll man brennen” (Jörg, p. 717).
[5 ]“Ex quibus omnibus una conjunctio efficitur, istos quibus haeretici videntur non esse puniendi, opinionem in Ecclesiam Dei conari longe omnium pestilentissimam invehere et ex diametro repugnantem doctrinae primum a Deo Patre proditae, deinde a Christo instauratae, ab universa denique Ecclesia orthodoxa perpetuo consensu usurpatae, ut mihi quidem magis absurde facere videantur quam si sacrilegas aut parricidas puniendos negarent, quum sint istis omnibus haeretici infinitis partibus deteriores” (Tract. Theol. i. 143).
[1 ]“Verum est quod correctione non exspectata Ananiam et Sapphiram occidit Petrus. Quia Spiritus Sanctus tunc maxime vigens, quem spreverant, docebat esse incorrigibiles, in malitia obstinatos. Hoc crimen est morte simpliciter dignum et apud Deum et apud homines. In aliis autem criminibus, ubi Spiritus Sanctus speciale quid non docet, ubi non est invetérata malitia, aut obstinatio certa non apparet aut atrocitas magna, correctionem per alias castigationes sperare potius debemus” (Servetus, Restitutio Christianismi, 656; Henry, iii. 235).
[2 ]“Nam si venerit, modo valeat mea authoritas, vivum exire nunquam patiar” (Calvin to Farel, in Henry, iii. Append. 65; Audin, Vie de Calvin, ii. 314; Dyer, 544).
[3 ]“Spero capitale saltem fore judicium: poenae vero atrocitatem remitti cupio” (Calvin to Farel, Henry, iii. 189). Dr. Henry makes no attempt to clear Calvin of the imputation of having caused the death of Servetus. Nevertheless he proposed, some years later, that the three-hundredth anniversary of the execution should be celebrated in the Church of Geneva by a demonstration. “It ought to declare itself in a body, in a manner worthy of our principles, admitting that in past times the authorities of Geneva were mistaken, loudly proclaiming toleration, which is truly the crown of our Church, and paying due honour to Calvin, because he had no hand in the business (parcequ’il n’a pas trempé dans cette affaire), of which he has unjustly borne the whole burden.” The impudence of this declaration is surpassed by the editor of the French periodical from which we extract it. He appends to the words in our parenthesis the following note: “We underline in order to call attention to this opinion of Dr. Henry, who is so thoroughly acquainted with the whole question” (Bulletin de la Société de l Histoire du Protestantisme Français, ii. 114).
[1 ]“Qui scripserunt de non plectendis haereticis, semper mihi visi sunt non parum errare” (Farel to Blaarer, Henry, iii. 202). During the trial he wrote to Calvin: “If you desire to diminish the horrible punishment, you will act as a friend towards your most dangerous enemy. If I were to seduce anybody from the true faith, I should consider myself worthy of death; I cannot judge differently of another than of myself” (Schmidt, Farel und Viret, p. 33).
[2 ]“The trial of Servetus,” says a very ardent Calvinist, “is illegal only in one point—the crime, if crime there be, had not been committed at Geneva; but long before the Councils had usurped the unjust privilege of judging strangers stopping at Geneva, although the crimes they were accused of had not been committed there” (Haag, La France Protestante, iii. 129).
[3 ]Literature of Europe, ii. 82.
[1 ]This is the ground taken by two Dutch divines in answer to the consultation of John of Nassau in 1579: “Neque in imperio, neque in Galliis, neque in Belgio speranda esset unquam libertas in externo religionis exercitio nostris . . . si non diversarum religionum exercitia in una eademque provincia toleranda. . . . Sic igitur gladio adversus nos armabimus Pontificios, si hanc hypothesin tuebimur, quod exercitium religionis alteri parti nullum prorsus relinqui debeat” (Scrinium Antiquarium, i. 335).