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§8. The Reformation, then, can only be con- This anasidered a fresh conception of the faith and doctrine dent from
m ' • Tp tne course
of the Gospel, a regeneration of the Christian life of the and spirit; the fruit, indeed, of the history of the Church, with its attendant corruptions of letter and spirit, practice and doctrine, yet in effect a return to the primary teaching of Christianity. It contained, accordingly, distinct elements wrought out by different agencies, by the men of thought and the men of purpose. The first furnished, out of an advance in Scriptural knowledge1 due in part to the revival of classical learning, those first principles of doctrine which were the grounds of action to the practical reformers of existing abuses. On these last attention has often nearly wholly, but not unnaturally, turned. As theThe,Prac
'" tical aspect
prime agents, the martyrs and confessors of the of 'he Re
A formation • , has been
since gone to God to answer it; to Whom I leave them."—Laud, the most
Confer., xxiv. 5. In the words of Leibnitz, " Ce sont les deTauts des studied, hommes, et non pas ceux des dogmes." The fanaticism of the Anabaptists belongs, as Dorncr has shown, not to the principles of the Reformation carried to excess, but rather to the social and religious maladies of the pre-Rcformation period. See some good remarks of Hallam, Lit. of £., I. 371, on the passions which were instrumental in the Reformation, and Dean Hook, Lives, New Ser., I. 20.
1 Such, e.g., was Nicolaus Lyranus, a Franciscan monk, who as early as 1330 completed his Post ilia- perpetual. It was of this exposition it was said:—
Ri Lyra non lyrasset
Sec Mosheim, II. 644. On the Biblical factor in the Reformation,
movement, they have enlisted sympathy and won admiration. Doubtless at such crises decision and self-sacrifice are of more apparent value than the results of slow and just reflection. Yet, on looking back, it is now sufficiently clear that, the doctrines for which men died, the contributions of patient thought and learning,1 form the abiding results of this great epoch in religion, and were the true its tme preparation for it. If, then, this view be correct, ance as a the very essence of the Reformation lay, not in belief. any practical correction of abuses, nor in a moral advance, but in its theology and belief. It has been called the reaction of Christianity, as a teaching of the Gospel,2 against Christianity, as a declaration of Divine Law. It was, indeed, a free doctrine of grace and faith, of love and spirit, leading to the fulfilment of legal and moral righteousness, as a prompting of the heart restored to fresh union with the God of its salvation, and conscious of its own restoration;3 ideas once
1 Such were the labours of the Reformers before the Reformation, Johann von Goch, Johann Wessel, who held explicitly the doctrine of justifying faith, Gerhard Groot, Jacob von Juterbock, &c. Of Wessel Luther said: "If I bad read Wessel first, mine adversaries might have imagined that Luther had taken everything from Wessel."— Werke, ed. Waleh, xiv. 220. He also claimed kindred with the efforts of the earlier Mysties, Tauler, Eckhart, and the Friends of God.
2 It was a saying of Luther's, that "the law and the Gospel aro as far apart from one another as heaven and earth."
3 Luther thus distinguishes between fid?s,fidncia,!mdcertitudo salulis. Cf. Dorner, I. 149, 230, who well remarks on the fruitfulness of this principle from a scientific or philosophic point of view, as regards the subsequent history of Protestantism; while the Greek and Roman familiar to the Christian mind,1 and at no time excluded from its potential teaching, yet which had long heen disused or misapplied. The principles it has secured to mankind are those of faith, of a true spiritualism, of individual accountability for belief and practice, as inherent elements of our common Religion. These are the pledges which it Full of has supplied to Christianity of its future share in efficacy, the advance of human civilization. What has been called the principle of private judgment is, in truth, an element of indefinite, though not as is often urged, of unrestricted progress. It is true that the Reformation assumed essentially the obligation of a continual purifying and perfecting alike of practice and doctrine,2 of the Church and Not m
. . • definite.
of the world, of Religion and of Science. And this is a principle of vital progress. But, then, this advance is always to be made upon the foundation
Churches in no way insist upon personal assurance. Calvin (fnst., III. ii. G) says: "Cardo fidei in eo vertitur, ut promissiones intus amplectendo nostras faciamus.''
1 Comp. Ep. ad Diogn. c. xii. *hto> Coi KapSla yvaais • (ar) hi Xoyor akr)8r)s, ^apoifuvos. Under Catholicism the personal yearning after salvation and closer communion with God, had too often to find refuge in conventual retirement. We have already noticed the intrinsic selfishness which lay at the root of this system.
2" In our own times there is a constant disposition to consider the liberty of the Reformation as an abstract form; to fancy that any imaginable substance may be put into it; and hence to conceive Protestantism as implying a principle of progress absolutely unrestricted, and it matters not whether beyond the pale of Christianity, or even in direct opposition to it. No such tenet has any foundation upon the idea of liberty as conceived by the Reformers and their predecessors."—Ullmann, Reformers, I. xviii.
that is already laid, the testimony of the Gospel, and the rule of strictly primitive tradition.1 The Re- § o. It is further evident that the Reformation,
presents^ rightly considered, presents no interruption of the in the con- continuity of human affairs,3 no founding over
Chris- again of the Church of Christ. In its truest and a system, best development there was no breaking with the past. It called for no belief that the Church had been at any time wholly forsaken by the Spirit of her Lord, or disinherited of His promises. It never renounced the historical basis of Christianity. No phase It was no mere phase of negation or of destruction,
tion. but rather a reconstruction ; a transition apparently spontaneous from beliefs, themselves transitional and relative to new modes of religious thought and belief, limited by the canons of Apostolic teaching. The very idea of a Re-formation implies a return to a standard or point of outset already known and fixed.3 It is a spiritual re-edification; and, as such, a recall to primitive Christianity, to the words and examples of Christ. For Chris
1 Comp. the concluding declaration of the Confession of Augsburg; "Tantum ca recitata sunt quso videbantur necessario dicenda esse, ut intelligi possit in doctrina ac cajremoniis, apud nos nihil esse receptuni contra Scripturani aut Ecclesiam Catholicani."—Syllog. Con/., pp. 158, 232.
a "Protestantism in all its movements and antitheses preserved the steadiness or continuity of a historical and growing formation."—Dorner, Hist.Prot. TK, I. 9, and the excellent remarks in p. 50. "The lteformation would lose its historical basis and connection, if, in order to furnish a triumphant justification of it, wc were to see nothing but darkness lie fore it."
s Gal. i. 7, 8, 9. For there cannot bo two Gospels.
tianity itself was at the beginning a purely spiritual religion, a strong invincible conviction of renewed reaction, individual fellowship with a merciful G-od and Father, effected by the Incarnation and Sacrifice of His Son. It was no less as the offspring and product of this conviction in the believer; or, in other words, of this living faith, a life of love and spontaneous morality.1 Its body is, indeed, the Church animated ever by the vital presence of Christ and of His Spirit, yet liable to admixture and deterioration, subject to the conditions of earthly things, the results of time and succession, of political issues, and historical development. The balance of com- The true plementary doctrines may, in the course of affairs, doctrine become overthrown, without, however, those doctrines being severally contradicted or lost; such, for example, as the parallelism of a dogma of Justification with that of Sanctification ; of Christ's Atonement with the need of personal holiness; of subjective faith with objective righteousness; of grace with works; of positive commands with moral obligations; of external symbolism with a living consciousness of its significance; of ecclesiastical constitution with spiritual worship. This balance Its contrithe Reformation sought to restore. It has left the future some truths clearly defined as its contribution to chris- °f future ages of the Church, more especially man's tiamty' need of individual regeneration; that this cannot
1 Compare TJllniann, Reformers, I. p. 4.