Previously on The Peace of Augsburg and the Abdication of Charles V. And now William Robertson.
Place: Augsburg, Germany
|Charles V by Titian and his |
colleague Lambert Sustris.
Such are the capital articles in this famous recess, which is the basis of religious peace in Germany, and the bond of union among its various states, the sentiments of which are so extremely different with respect to points the most interesting as well as important. In our age and nation, to which the idea of toleration is familiar, and its beneficial effects well known, it may seem strange that a method of terminating their dissensions, so suitable to the mild and charitable spirit of the Christian religion, did not sooner occur to the contending parties. But this expedient, however salutary, was so repugnant to the sentiments and practice of Christians during many ages that it did not lie obvious to discovery. Among the ancient heathens, all whose deities were local and tutelary, diversity of sentiments concerning the object or rites of religious worship seems to have been no source of animosity, because the acknowledging veneration to be due to any one god did not imply denial of the existence or the power of any other god; nor were the modes and rites of worship established in one country incompatible with those which other nations approved of and observed. Thus the errors in their system of theology were of such a nature as to be productive of concord; and, notwithstanding the amazing number of their deities, as well as the infinite variety of their ceremonies, a sociable and tolerating spirit subsisted almost universally in the Pagan world.
But when the Christian revelation declared one Supreme Being to be the sole object of religious veneration, and prescribed the form of worship most acceptable to him, whoever admitted the truth of it held, of consequence, every other system of religion, as a deviation from what was established by divine authority, to be false and impious. Hence arose the zeal of the first converts to the Christian faith in propagating its doctrines, and the ardor with which they labored to overturn every other form of worship. They employed, however, for this purpose no methods but such as suited the nature of religion. By the force of powerful arguments, they convinced the understandings of men; by the charms of superior virtue, they allured and captivated their hearts. At length the civil power declared in favor of Christianity; and though numbers, imitating the example of their superiors, crowded into the church, many still adhered to their ancient superstitions. Enraged at their obstinacy, the ministers of religion, whose zeal was still unabated, though their sanctity and virtue were much diminished, forgot so far the nature of their own mission, and of the arguments which they ought to have employed, that they armed the imperial power against these unhappy men, and, as they could not persuade, they tried to compel them to believe.
Continued on Wednesday, October 29th.
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