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erowd of professors and students. He also committed to the flames a copy of the canon law, a body of laws upholding the power of the pope. On the day following the burning of this bull, Luther solemnly warned his students against the errors of Roman Catholicism, telling them that if they did not earnestly oppose the wicked government of the papacy, they could not be saved.
By this time all Germany was astir, and indeed Luther's teachings were the theme of discussion outside of Germany. The
Reformer was finally commanded to appear before the Imperial Diet at Worms to give an account of his teaching. He was in poor health at the time, but he determined to obey the summons. At the gate of Worms he encountered a greater crowd than had welcomed the emperor. The scene in the diet chamber, with one lone monk confronting that imposing array of kings and princes and dignitaries of the church, has been pictured many times. It was the beginning of modern history, especially of modern freedom of thought. In fact, it marked a new era in the annals of the human race.
Luther's brief but memorable address is worthy of careful study, for it is fundamental to an understanding of what the
Reformation really was. He was asked if he would retract. He replied that he would retract such parts of his writings as could be shown to be contrary to God's Word; otherwise he could retract nothing. Thus in a moment were brushed aside tradition, the teachings of the Fathers, the canon law, the decisions of popes and councils, while the Word of God was magnified. The rest of the chapter may be told in few words. As he journeyed away from Worms, Luther was captured by loyal
friends, and carried to the castle of Wartburg, where he was kept for nearly a year following the Diet of Worms. For some months neither friends nor enemies knew his whereabouts, and some mourned him as dead. The words of Albrecht Dürer, the great artist, are significant of the impression that the Reformer had made upon his countrymen. "O God," he exclaimed, "if Luther is dead, who else can expound the holy gospel to us?" Very fruitful were the quiet months at the Wartburg. They witnessed the completion of Luther's translation of the New Testament into German. The precious volume was published shortly after the Reformer's return to Wittenberg.
He then applied himself diligently to the preparation of a German rendering of the Old Testament. It, too, had been com
pleted by 1534. When the Bible was in the hands of the German people, Luther had done his work; every one knew then that the Reformation had come to stay. The Protest of the Princes, the Confession of Augsburg, the Religious Peace of 1555, which left the princes free to choose between Lutheranism and the papacy, these were events of importance, but they do not in real significance compare with Luther's act in giving the German people the Bible in their own tongue. The Reformation of the sixteenth century began in the heart of a young university student when he first made regular visits to the Latin Bible in the library of the University of Erfurt. It was brought to triumphant completion when that Bible was placed within the reach. of every German who was able to read.
Section IV - Later Reformers
LUTHER was the chosen instrument for the accomplishment of a great reform in the Christian church. He had qualities of leadership that made him eminently fitted to head a movement away from Rome. But he did not finish the work. It was too much to expect of one man. In the providence of God, other men were called to carry to fuller development the work that he had so nobly begun.
In England the most noteworthy Reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the Puritans. Their leaders were largely men who had been on the Continent, and were familiar with the views of Luther. There were various branches of the sect, but they may be roughly divided into two main classes, the Puritans proper and the Independents. The former, while holding views in advance of their time, did not distinctly dissociate themselves from the Church of England; the latter had convictions that made it impossible for them to yield allegiance to a state-imposed religion.
Both branches had much in common. Thus Puritans and Independents alike objected to the ritual and the prayer book, holding that they presented features which were unscriptural, and in fact remnants of Romanism. They held that compelling ministers of the gospel to officiate in vestments was contrary to Christian liberty. The English church seemed to them a nondescript body, consisting for the most part of persons whose Christianity was merely nominal. They pleaded for apostolic simplicity and apostolic zeal, and they exemplified both in their lives.