« PrécédentContinuer »
J. H. MERLE D'AUBIGNÉ,
PRESIDENT OF THE THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF GENEVA, AND MEMBER OF THE “ SOCIÉTÉ
SAXTON & MILES, 205 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON.
to a new career.
The work I have undertaken is not the history vance in human nature. In truth, if man, instead of a party. It is the history of one of the greatest of seeking only material, temporal, and earthly revolutions ever effected in human affairs, the interests, aims at a higher object, and seeks spihistory of a mighty impulse communicated to the ritual and immortal blessings,--he advances, he world three centuries ago, and of which the opera progresses. The Reformation is one of the moss tion is still everywhere discernible in our own days. memorable days of this progress. It is a pledge The history of the Reformation is altogether dis- that the struggle of our own times will terminate tinct from the history of Protestantism. In the in favour of truth, by a triumph yet more spiritual former all bears the character of a regeneration and glorious. of human nature, a religious and social transfor. Christianity and the Reformation are two of the mation emanating from God himself. In the latter, greatest revolutions in history. They were not we see too often a glaring depravation of first prin- | limited to one nation, like the various political ciples, the conflict of parties,-a sectarian spirit
, movements which history records, but extended - and the operation of private interests. The to many nations, and their effects are destined to history of Protestantism might claim the attention be felt to the ends of the earth. only of Protestants. The history of the Reforma. Christianity and the Reformation are, indeed, tion is a book for all Christians, -or rather for all the same revolution, but working at different pemankind.
riods, and in dissimilar circumstances. They An historian may choose his portion in the field differ in secondary features :--they are alike in before him. He may narrate the great events their first lines and leading characteristics. The which change the exterior aspect of a nation, or one is the re-appearance of the other. The former of the world; or he may record that tranquil pro- closes the old order of things ;-—the latter begins gression of a nation, of the church, or of mankind, the new. Between them is the middle age. One which generally follows mighty changes in social is the parent of the other; and if the daughter is, relations. Both these departments of history are in some respects, inferior, she has, in others, chaof high importance. But the public interesi has racters, altogether peculiar to herself. seemed to turn, by preference, to those periods The suddenness of its action is one of these which, under the name of Revolutions, bring forth characters of the Reformation. The great revoa nation, or society at large, for a new era,--and lutions which have drawn after them the fall of a
monarchy, or an entire change of political system, Of the last kind is the transformation which, or launched the human mind in a new career of with very feeble powers, I have attempted to development, have been slowly and gradually describe, in the hope that the beauty of the sub- prepared; the power to be displaced has long been ject will compensate for my insufficiency. The mined, and its principal supports have given way. name of revolution which I'here give to it, is, in It was even thus at the introduction of Christianity. our days, brought into discredit with many who But the Reformation, at the first glance, seems almost confound it with revolt. But this is to to offer a different aspect. The Church of Rome mistake its meaning. A revolution is a change is seen, under Leo X., in all its strength
and glory. wrought in human affairs. It is a something new A monk speaks, and in the half of Europe this which unrolls itself from the bosom of humanity; power and glory suddenly crumble into dust. This and the word, previously to the close of the last revolution reminds us of the words by which the century, was more frequently understood in a Son of God announces his second advent: “As good sense than in a bad one :-"a happy-a the lightning cometh forth from the west and wonderful Revolution" was the expression. The shineth unto
the east, so shall also the coming of Reformation, being the re-establishment of the the Son of man be." principles of primitive Christianity, was the reverse This rapidity is inexplicable to those who see in of a revolt. "It was a movement regenerative of this great event only a reform; who make it that which was destined to revive ; but conserva. simply an act of critical judgment, consisting in a tite of that which is to stand forever. Christianity choice of doctrines,
the abandoning of some, the and the Reformation, while they established the preserving others, and combining those retained, great principle of the equality of souls in the sight so as to make of them a new code of doctrine. of God, and overturned the usurpations of a proud How could an entire people ?-how could many priesthood, which assumed to place itself between nations have so rapidly performed so difficult a the Creator and his creature, at the same time work? How could such an act of critical judgment laid down as a first element of social order, that kindle the enthusiasm indispensable to great and there is no power but what is of God, -and called especially to sudden revolutions ? But the Refor. on all men to love the brethren, to fear God, to mation was an event of a very different kind; and honour the king.
this its history will prove. It was the pouring The Reformation is entirely distinguished from forth anew of that life which Christianity had the revolutions of antiquity, and from the greater brought into the world. It was the triumph of part of those of modern times. In these, the the noblest of doctrines of that which animates question is one of politics, and the object proposed those who receive it with the purest and most is the establishment or overthrow of the power of powerful enthusiasm,-the doctrine of Faith-the the one or of the many. The love of truth, of doctrine of Grace. If the Reformation had been holiness, of eternal things, was the simple and what many Catholics and Protestants imagine, powerful spring which gave effect to that which we if it had been that negative system of a negative have to narrate. It is the evidence of a gradual ad- reason, which rejects with childish impatience