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MELANCHTHON


153


MELANCHTHON


troduced under his guidance into ^Vu^tembe^g, Bran- denburg, and Saxony. He never absented himself from a convention of theologians or statesmen, liut found himself differing from Luther on many points, for as time went on Melanchthon emancipated him- self more and more from Luther's teaching. More eventful still and more painful was the last portion of his life, following the death of Luther (15-16). He rejected the Augsburg Interim (1548) which was to regulate Church affairs until they should be defini- tively settled by the Council, on the ground that it did not harmonize with Evangelical principles. On the other hand he was prevailed upon to take part in a conference for a modified interim, the so-called Leip- zig Interim, and he aihlressed on this occasion a letter (28 April, 1548) to Minister Carlowitz, of Saxony, which once more provoked bitter criticism. He la- mented therein the thraldom in which he had been held by the violence of Luther, and again showed him- self favourable to the Catholic system of church organ- ization and was even ready to accept Catholic practices, though he desired to hold fast to the "evangelical" doctrines.

A result of this was the Adiaphora controversy, in which Melanchthon declared Catholic practices adi- aphorous (indifferent things, neither good nor bad), hence permissilile provided that the proper doctrine were maintained and its import made clear to the people. Matthias Flacius Illyricus and other zealots objected that these practices had heretofore been the centres of impiety and superstition, and Melanchthon was attacked and reviled by Flacius, Amsdorf, and the other " Gnesiolutherans ", as a renegade and a here- tic. The Lutheran theologians met at Weimar in 1556, and declared their adhesion to Luther's teaching as to good works and the Last Supper. Melanchthon participated in the religious discussion which took place at Worms, in 1557, between Catholic and Prot- estant theologians. His Lutheran opponents' be- haviour toward him here proved grossly insulting. The last ten years of his life (1550-60) were almost completely taken up with theological wrangles (adi- aphoristic, osiandric, stankari.stic, majoristic, Calvin- istic and cryptocalvinistic) and with attempts to com- pose these variovis differences. He continued in spite of all to labour for his Church and for her peace. But one readily understands why, a few days before he died, he gave as a reason for not fearing death: "thou shalt be freed from the theologians' fury (a rahie theolognrum) ". His last wish was that the Churches might become reunited in Christ. He died praj'ing, quietly and peacefully, without apparent struggle.

(3) Melanchthon as a Theologian. — Melanch- thon considered it his mission to bring together the religious thoughts of the Reformation, to co-ordinate them and give them a clear and intelligible form. He did not feel hiin.self called upon to seek out their original premises or to speculate on their logical results. His theology bears the substantial impress of fiis humanistic thought, for he saw in ancient philosophy a precursor of C!hristianiiy and sought to reconcile it with Christian Revelation. Even in dogma he took up whatever adapted it.self most easily to the general trend of humanistic religious thought, and his dogma- tic departiures from Luther were a softening of doc- trine. ■ His theological system is contained in the "Loci Communes", as revised by him; in substance it was brought to completion by the edition of 1535. As late as 1521 he had upheld the harsh tenets of fatal- ism with regard to all events and of determinism with regard to the human will. He subsequently gave " Synergism " his support, as against the deter- ministic tendency of the Reformation. That God is not the cause of sin, and that man is responsible for his acts, must be firmly maintained. Man's salvation can onlv be wrought out with the co-operation of his own will, although there can be no question of merit


on his part. Likewise he eiujjhasized the necessity of good works from the practical, ethical standpoint. He went so far as to say, in the Loci of 1535, that good works are necessary for eternal Hfe, inasmuch as they must necessarily follow reconciliation with God. This was again attenuated later on: what is necessary, he said, is a new spiritual hfe or sense of duty, i. e. a righteous conscience.

As years went by he even abandoned Luther's doctrine as to the Last Supper, and looked on Christ's spiritual communication of Himself to the faithful and their internal union with Him as the essential fea- ture of the Sacrament; i. e. he inclined towards Cal- vin's theory. In 1560 his teachings were introduced into all the churches of Saxony, through the "Corpus Philippicum" (a collection of Melanchthonian doctrinal writings). But there came a change fourteen years after his death. The Pliilippists or Crypto-Calvinists were thrown into prison and sent into exile. They subsequently identified themselves more and more with Calvinism, even on the question of predestination. Lutheranism, narrow and harsh, won the day with its Formula of Concord (1580). So strong indeed was this opposition that the saying ran: better a Catholic than a Calvinist. From that time on until well into the eighteenth century, Melanchthon's memory was assailed and reviled, even in Wittenberg. It is said that Leonard Hutter, the leading theologian there at the beginning of the seventeenth century, was so en- raged by an appeal to Melanchthon as an authority, made in the course of a public elisputation, that he had the latter's portrait torn down from the wall and trampled under foot before the eyes of all. It was not until the period of the Enlightenment that Melanch- thon was again appreciated and recognized as the real founder of a German-Evangelical theology. Indeed, he carried his labours into all the other theological fields, in some of which he worked as a pioneer, while in all he toiled at least as a contril:iutor. He promoted the study of the Scriptures not only by his own active work thereon from first to last, but also by his teachings, and by his exhortations to the clergy. Like Luther, he laid particular stress on the necessity of a thorough philological training, as well as of a knowl- edge of history and archaeology, for the proper in- terpretation of the Bible. He assisted Luther con- stantly in his German translation of the Biljle, and also, it is said, in the production of the Latin transla- tion which appeared at Wittenberg, in 1529. In exegesis he stood out vigorously for one sense, and that the literal, (sensics lileralis), as against the "four senses " of the scholastics. Beyond this, he held, there was nothing to be sought in the words of the Bible save the dogmatic and practical application and de- velopment. His commentaries on the Old Testament are not as important as those which he wrote on the New. The most noteworthy are those on the Epistles to the Romans and the Colossians, which have been published repeatedly. These are largely given to the discussion of facts and of dogmatic and polemical matters, and they have exerted considerable influence on the history of Protestant doctrines. The impulse also which he gave to the study of theology by histori- cal methods, was felt for a long time. In his handling of the Chronicle of Cario he treated of the history of the Church jointly- with that of the state, and thereby set an example which found many imitators. He was also the first to attempt a history of dogma, and led the way in Christian biography. In homiletics he was early recognized as the originator of a more methodi- cal form of pulpit oratory, as contrasted with the "heroic" sermons of Luther. He did not himself appear as a preacher, but was content with expound- ing selections from the Gospel on Sundays and Feast days, in his hou.se or in a lecture-hall, using for this purpose the Latin tongue for-fche benefit of the Ilim- garian students who did not understand the German