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MELANCHTHON


152


MELANCHTHON


fended him, e. g. against the Italian Dominican, burg Confession (confossio A\igustana) in which he

Thomas Kadinus of Piaccnza, and the Sorbonne ia aimed to prove lluit tlif Protestants, in spite of the

Paris (1521). innovations, still bclonycil lo the Cailiulic ('hurch and

But he was not qualified to play the part of a leader had a right to remain within licr lold. I'o this end he

amid the turmoil of a troublous period. The life alleged in defence of Protestant doctrine the Scriptures

which he was fitted for was the quiet existence of the and statements of recognized Catholic authorities,

scholar. He was always of a retiring and t imid dispo- The innovations in question were represented as

sition, temperate, prudent and peace-loving, w'ith a merely a reformation of abuses which had crept into

pious turn of mind and a deeply religious training, the Church. The tenor of the Confession in general

He never completely lost his attachment for the Catho- and its wording in particular, were the work of Me-

lic Church and for many of her ceremonies. His lanchthon. Luther saw its outline and gave it his ap-

limitations first became apparent when, during proval. It received numerous additions and changes

Luther's stay on the Wartburg, 1521, he found himself in at Augsburg, and its final form was determined by

Wittenberg confronted with the task of maintaining common agreement of theologians from all the evan-

order against the Zwickau fanatics, with their wild gelical bodies.

notions as to the establishment of Christ's Kingdom Alelanchthon's desire for peace appears even in this

upon earth, communism, and so forth. What Luther basic document of Protestantism, and he has often

accomplished in a few days on his return had proved been reproached with lackof vigour inhis opposition to


impossible to Jlclanchthon On the other hand he showed his ability as an organizer when he undertook the reor- ganization of Church affairs in Saxony which then appeared to be in a very bad state. For the visitations ordered by the Elector, .Melanchthon drew up the " Instructions for Visit- ors of the parochial clergy" (printed, 152S), which work is remarkable for its practical sense and simplicity. Here also appears the difference be- tween Luther and Melanch- thon, for Jlelanchthon warns pastors against reviling pope or bishop; whereas Luther remarks: "You must de- nounce vehemently the Papacy and its followers, for it is al- ready doomed by God even as the devil and his kingdom. " Melanchthon, it is true, preached the doctrine that faith alone justifies and that " Ciod will forgive sins for the sake of Christ, and without


the Catholic Church. Luther himself explained (only, it is true, after the hopes of ob- taining for the Confession the ear of the emperor and of Cath- olics proved vain), that he had no intention of showing "ser- vile submission", and that he regretted the omission of an attack on Purgatory, the ven- eration of the Saints and the Papacy. The formal merits of the Confession, its simple, clear, calm, and terse state- ment of doctrine won the unanimous praise of the Evan- gelical party. His "masterful clearness and vigorous doc- trine" were also admired in the ".\pology" for the Aug.s- Ijurg Confession, which is more decided in tone because writ- ten at a later date (when Melanchthon himself had de- termined "to throw aside moderation") and directed against the Catholic "Confu- tatio". On the other hand, Melanchthon was sharply criti-


Philipp Melanchthon Lucas Craaach, Royal Gallery, Dresden

works on our part"; but he added: "We must cized for his personal conduct m the Reichstag, for hi

nevertheless do good works, which God has com- apprehensionand concern, his failure totakeafirmand

manded." Later also he invariably sought to pre- dignified attitude against the Catholic party. Hehim-

serve peace as long as might be possible, and no one self oncedeclared, in justification of hiscourse:" I know

took so much to heart as he the break between the that the people decry our moderation ; but it does not

churches. become us to heed the clamour of the multitude. We

While Luther, in the Smalkaldic Articles (1537), must labour for peace and for the future. It will

described the pope as Antichrist and other theologians prove a great blessing for us all if unity be restored in

subscribed to this declaration, Melanchthon wrote: Germany." He feared the overthrow of all order.

"My idea of the pope is this, that if he would give due Hence he made decided concessions to the Catholics

recognition to the Gospel, his supremacy over the at the subsequent conferences and debates on religion,

bishops, which he enjoys by human consent (not by He seems to have been lured by some dream of an

Divine ordinance) should also be acknowledged by us Evangelical-Catholic Church. He thought it possible

for the sake of peace and of the unity of those Chris- to remain within the Catholic Church, even with the


tians who are now, and in the future may be, subject to him." He had to make a diplomatic plea for the Reformation at the Reichstag in Speyer (1529). He hoped that it would be recognized without difficulty by the emperor and the Catholic party, but instead of


new theology. But he was never a Cryptocatholic, as has been laid to his charge, and while evincing in every other way a spirit of conciliation, he held fast to the "purified doctrine", and repeatedly qualified as blasphemy the lending of a hand, even in the cause of


this, a resolution was adopted to carry out vigorously peace, to any suppression of the truth

the Edict of Worms (1521) which prohibited all mno- The story that when his mother asked which was

vations. The evangelical element, "a small handful," the better of the two religions, he replied that the

protested against this (whence the name, " Protes- modified one was the more plausible, while the old one

tants"), and Melanchthon felt graveconcemoverthis was the surer, is nothing but a ridiculous invention,

"terrible state of things". .\t a religious conference Hisattempt to bringaboutareconciliation between the

with the Zwinglians in Marburg (autumn of 1529), he two brought him, instead of thanks, only mortifica-

joined hands with Luther in opposing a union w-ith tion and aV)use. From the age of 30 to that of 50,

Zwingli. The latter's views on the Eucharist seemed Melanchthon was at the height of his career as spokes-

to him an "impious doctrine". Melanchthon com- man and advocate of the Reformation, which, as had

posed for the Reichstag of Augsburg (1530) the Augs- formerly been the case in Hesse and Prussia, was in-