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Book 13 - The Protest and the Conference (1526-1529)

A History of the Reformation in the 16th Century

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

For a full treatment of the Reformation, see my work: The Reformation Made Easy – C. Matthew McMahon.

Book 13 – The Protest and the Conference (1526-1529)

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 1

Protestantism had been a group of factions around Europe fighting very much for the same goals – the propagation of the Gospel of Christ and His work to save sinners by grace. At this time in the history of the Reformation the movement as a whole would begin to gel together as a body. The Reformation in this respect is accomplished in the history of salvation by the work of God. Upon the commencement of the Diet of Spires from 1526-1529, we see this formation of formal Protestantism as whole emerging.

The Diet commenced on June 25, 1526, and the princes of the country were bolder with their ministers than they had ever been. They did not attend mass, and did not partake in the fasts prescribed by the Roman Church. Duke John arrived with an impressive envoy, and Phillip of Hesse immediately began debating with the bishops silencing them by the Word. The Diet was divided up into committees in order to deal with the varied abuses of Church at large. The commissioners made their report and the Protestant church seemed to win, for they sided with the Reformation.

Some of Luther’s works were translated and handed out to the people. Many of the commoners left the Catholic Church and sided with the Reformation. Ferdinand could not allow this anymore, and drew up an edict that substantiated the one given at Worms. Persecution was about to begin on the reformers. A grand turning point in these plans was political when Clement did not side with Charles V and instead freed the reformers from the edict by turning in a different direction than that the Pope. Since the Pope moved left, Charles moved right and wrote a letter to his brother, and freed the reformers from harm by dissolving the edict given.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 2

The emperor did not win with his newfound decision to move away from the political ideas of the Pope and rejected him in purpose. Instead of marching against the Reformation, as he seemed to have promised in Seville, now he was marching with the Reformation against the Pope due to political reasons. The war with Italy would soon begin.

Pawns were being placed around the battlefield. Freudsberg with fifteen thousand men marched through the Alps ready to make war in Brescia. The Constable of Bourbon took possession of Milan and met Freudsberg’s army and joined with him. In Naples they met with a possible truce suggested by the Pope, but the army was outraged that Freudsberg would even consider this and he was hurt in a tumult. Freudsberg was brought to his castle where he later died. However, the army continued to move forward and was closing in on Rome.

On May 5th Bourbon arrived at Rome and attempted a secret attack by fog, but the Spaniards there were waiting and he was quickly struck down. Yet, the army advanced, sacked the city, and began to pillage it. Clement fled to the castle of St. Angelo. No one was spared in the city and it was overthrown. After ten days of pillaging the peace of the city began to be restored.

Clement was attacked while in the castle of St Angelo. He recanted of everything he plotted against Charles, and agreed to pay a handsome booty to him in return of his life. He remained his prisoner until he was able to fulfill the debt.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 3

Rome had been sacked, and this move of Charles caused the Reformation to be strengthened. Since the Roman church was falling into anarchy, the states separated from her, which is a turning point in ecclesiastical history. The Diet of Spires, then, aided the states in their separation from Rome and the furtherance of the Gospel in those states due to a lack of effect from the pontificate.

Phillip of Hesse strongly urged these new ideas to take shape. Not only did Phillip prevail in the Diet itself with pressing the matters of the Reformation, but he took part in actually helping the states become more independent from Rome. He was inclined toward the Swiss reform that had begun, and made a connection with James Sturm who in turn told him about Francis Lambert. Lambert desired to help Hesse in the reformation of the country.

The gates of the principle church at Homberg were opened the next day and Hesse and Lambert, along with throngs of people, including Catholics, entered to hear Lambert speak about the propositions that had been hung around the city. He explained them with fervor from the Bible and backed them up with the early fathers and Peter Lombard. No one was able to shut Lambert down, and the autonomy of the church had a victory for the Reformation. Luther had already begun having the church chooses elders, but would all the churches follow this lead? Luther published his German Mass which organized the church formally, and beginning in Saxony the reformers went around deposing those not fit to lead the church. In every area of Europe the Reformation and organization of the same church of the Apostles was beginning to take form.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 4

King Ferdinand published the Edict of Ofen in Hungary on August 20th, 1527. It stated that anyone who saw Mary as equal as other women, or not partake of the sacraments correctly, or was not a Romish priest to distribute the sacraments, should be punished. Those who protested this were not necessarily brought to court, but simply attacked in the street and murdered, which was the fate of George Winkler. However, as it seemed fitting, the scaffold was used frequently to uphold this edict. George Carpenter was burned alive, at Landsburg nine people were also put in the flames, and in Munich twenty-nine were drowned. There were even those who desired to profit monetarily in some way by these kinds of dealings and martyrdoms.

Otho Pack, vice-chancellor to Duke George, was a crafty man and involved in forgery in order to gain contribution for his pocket instead of the imperial government as intended. Phillip of Hesse intervened to catch this criminal in the act, and using his power cut a deal with him, albeit a false deal in order to trap him. Phillip allied himself with Duke John, many electors, and the kings of Denmark and Poland against the tyranny that would break forth by the document’s allowance of the punishments of heretics. However, this blow by Hesse would have ripped the countries apart and halted the forward movement of the Reformation.

Rome desired to annihilate the Reformation in a different way than Pack had intended through the Word. At the Diet of Spires, which began in March of 1529, Rome wanted to raise her banner over the Reformation ecclesiastically and crush it by pronouncing heresies and swaying the nobles to follow the mother church.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 5

Charles and Clement had been at odds. Clement, at this point, would rather side with Charles than continue to be humiliated at the hands of the people who even denied that he should be Pope. An alliance was made on June 29, 1528 based on the destruction of the Reformation heresies and Charles and Clement were again allied.

Ferdinand arrived at Spires, as did the dukes of Bavaria, the electors of Mentz and Treves, the elector of Saxony accompanied by Melancthon and Agricola, and Phillip of Hesse. Rome was at this Diet in force, and the Romans continued to detest the Protestants who were arriving even while meeting them in the streets. An imperial proposition was made that echoed the last Diet at Spires some years ago where the emperor had overthrown the ability of the states to do as they desired towards the dictates of conscience. This alarmed the Protestants and a commission was appointed to examine this statement.

The majority vote was no longer accepted at the Diet, and it seemed the tide was rising here against the Gospel. The nobles and princes who defended the Gospel decided that no matter what majority or non-majority was given at the Diet that their consciences would not be bound by voting for or against dictates of the Word of God. Ferdinand opposed the Protestants vehemently, and on April 18th it was decided that they would not be heard in the Diet. Ferdinand produced a document that Charles gave giving power to the Catholics. Rome widened the breach between the two parties greatly by this act. The Protestants would not even be heard.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 6

The evangelical princes made a protest, and here the name Protestants became official. A declaration was drawn up that demonstrated their protest to the actions of the Diet. An essential part of this protest was the free preaching of the Gospel which Rome detested. Even Perduelles, a Roman historian, equated Protestant with “enemy of the emperor and the Pope.” The Catholics were upset that such a protest was even made or considered, but by the dictates of the politics of the Diet, it was now set as part of history.

The Protestants were overjoyed that such a declaration was made. The Catholics trembled for they saw their desire to simply reinstitute the papacy again as slipping away into the darkness from whence it came. The landgrave and Duke left the Diet after these proceedings were made. The aim was that the edict of Worms should not be induced, and the edict of the last Diet of Spires should stand. After their voice was heard in these dealings, they quitted the Diet and left the city.

As Luther had withstood the Diet at Worms and so now the princes and people withstood the Catholic Church here at Spires. Though they had remained under superstition and manipulation for centuries under the Roman church, they were now freed. The liberty of the Gospel had set them free from the yoke that they had been oppressed by and the history of the world would now have the name Protestant engraved in it for all time.

History Of The Reformation Of The Sixteenth Century: Book 13, Chapter 7

Though the Diet of Spires had brought Protestantism together in many respects, theologically this was more difficult between the actual reformers of the movement surrounding the Lord’s Supper. Luther, up until 1519 was still Catholic in his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. Luther believed in transubstantiation, while Zwingli saw the Supper as a memorial symbolizing the body and blood, but not the body and blood of Christ.

Luther and Zwingli wrote against one another, Zwingli being more charitable in his work Friendly Exposition of Luther’s position. Luther was irate with Zwingli’s view and his obstinacies to hold something different than Luther believed. Phillip of Hesse desired to see the two reconciled and purposed a meeting between them to settle their differences. They settled on Marburg to have a theological meeting.

Luther was accompanied by Melancthon and Zwingli by Oecolampadius. Luther sat with Oecolampadius and Zwingli sat with Melancthon both teams in separate rooms. The best debate took place between Melancthon and Zwingli. Melancthon wanted to corner Zwingli believing, like Thomas Munzer, that the Holy Spirit worked alone and not through the sacrament. Luther used this same tactic with Oecolampadius. After debate in this fashion, on the next day, all four sat a table and continued the debate. Luther could not give up hoc est corpus meum, this is my body, and wrote it in chalk on the table itself. Zwingli and Oecolampadius saw this as a figure of speech. There was no compromise. Luther detested Zwingli for this disagreement. They met once more, for the last time the next day, drew up a document that demonstrated their agreement in other doctrines, and they all signed it.

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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