The Pontifical Confutation of the Augsburg Confession

Originally published at:

by F. Bente

V. The Pontifical Confutation

36. Papal Party Refusing Conciliation.

At the Diet of Augsburg, convened in order to restore the disturbed religious peace, the Lutherans were the first to take a step towards reconciliation by delivering their Confession, June 25, 1530. In accordance with the manifesto of Emperor Charles, they now expected that the papal party would also present its “view and opinion,” in order that the disuccsions might thereupon proceed “in love and kindness,” as the Emperor put it. In the Preface to their Confession the Lutherans declared: “In obedience to Your Imperial Majesty’s wishes, we offer, in this matter of religion, the Confession of our preachers and of ourselves, showing what manner of doctrine from the Holy Scriptures and the pure Word of God has been up to this time set forth in our lands, dukedoms, dominions, and cities, and taught in our churches. And if the other Electors, Princes, and Estates of the Empire will, according to the said imperial proposition, presentc similar writings, to wit, in Latin and German giving their opinions in this matter of religion, we, with the Princes’and friends aforesaid, here before Your Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord, are prepared to confer amicably concerning all possible ways and means, in order that we may come together, as far as this may be honorably done, and, the matter between us on both sides being peacefully discussed without offensive strife, the dissension, by God’s help, may be done away and brought back to one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ and do battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the tenor of Your Imperial Majesty’s edict, and everything ought to be conducted according to the truth of God; and this is what, with most fervent prayers, we entreat of God.” (39, S.)

The Lutherans did not believe that the manifesto of the Emperor could be construed in any other way than that both parties would be treated as equals at the Diet. Not merely as a matter of good policy, but _bona fide_, as honest Germans and true Christians, they clung tenaciously to the words of the Emperor, according to which the Romanists, too, were to be regarded as a party summoned for the trial, the Emperor being the judge. The Lutherans simply refused to take the word of the Emperor at anything less than par, or to doubt his good will and the sincerity of his promise. The fact that from the very beginning his actions were in apparent contravention of the manifesto was attributed by the Lutherans to the sinister influence of such bitter, baiting, and unscrupulous theologians as Eck, Cochlaeus, and Faber, who, they claimed, endeavored to poison and incite the guileless heart of the Emperor. Thus the Lutherans would not and could not believe that Charles had deceived them, a simple trust, which, however, stubborn facts finally compelled them to abandon.

The Romanists, on the other hand, boasting before the Emperor that they had remained with the true Christian faith, the holv Gospel, the Catholic Church, the bull of the Pope, and the Edict of Worms, refused with equal tenacity to be treated as a party summoned for trial. June 25, 1530, Elector John wrote to Luther: “Thus we and the other princes and estates who are related to us in this matter had to consent to submit our opinion and confession of faith. Our opponents, however, as we are told, declined to present theirs and decided to show to the Emperor that they adhered to the Edict [of Worms] and to the faith which their fathers had bequeathed to and bestowed upon them, and which they intended to adhere to even now; if, however, the Pope or, in his place, the Legate, together with His Imperial Majesty, would point out, and expect them to adopt, a different and new faith, they would humbly hear the Emperor’s opinion.” (Luther, St. L. 16, 758.)

Thus presupposing what they were summoned to prove at Augsburg, namely, that the doctrine of the Pope was identical with the old Christian faith, the Romanists declared a presentation of their views unnecessary. The Lutherans, they maintained, were convicted apostates and rebels against Pope and Church, against Emperor and realm; sentence was not first to be pronounced upon them, but had been pronounced long ago, the Diet’s duty merely being to confirm and execute it; hence, there was nothing else to be done by the Emperor than to attend to his office as warden and protector of the Church, and, together with the princes and estates, to proceed against the heretics with drastic measures. Also in the later discussions, conducted with a view of effecting a reconciliation, the Romanists refused to relinquish this position. From beginning to end they acted as the accusers, judges, and henchmen of the Lutherans. Nor was anything else to be expected, since, unlike the Lutherans, they considered not God’s Word, but the Pope the supreme arbiter in religious matters. Thus, from the very outset, the gulf between the two parties was such that it could not be bridged. Common ground was lacking. On the one side conscience, bound by the Word of God! On the other, blind subjection to human, papal authority! Also Romanists realized that this fundamental and irreconcilable difference was bound to render futile all discussions. It was not merely his own disgust which the papal historian expressed when he concluded his report on the prolonged discussions at Augsburg: “Thus the time was wasted with vain discussions.” (Plitt, _Apologie_, 43.)

37. Further Success Not Hoped for by Luther.

Luther regarded the public reading of the Confession as an unparalleled triumph of his cause. Further results, such as a union with the Romanists, he did not expect. On July 9, 1530, he wrote to Jonas: “_Quid sperem de Caesare, quantumvis optimo, sed obsesso?_ What can I hope of the Emperor, even the best, when he is obsessed” [by the papal theologians]? The most Luther hoped for was mutual political toleration. In the letter quoted he continues: “But they [the Papists] must expect a sad, and we a happy issue. Not, indeed, that there ever will be unity of doctrine; for who can hope that Belial will be united with Christ? Excepting that perhaps marriage [of priests] and the two kinds [of the Sacrament] be permitted (here too, however, this adverb ‘perhaps’ is required, and perhaps too much ‘perhaps’). But this I wish and earnestly hope for, that, the difference in doctrine being set aside, a political union may be made. If by the blessing of Christ this takes place, enough and more than enough has been done and accomplished at this Diet. . . . Now, if we obtain also the third thing, that we adjourn with worldly peace secured, then we shall have clearly defeated Satan in this year.” (Enders, 8, 95; St. L. 16, 927. 1666.)

July 21, 1530, Luther wrote in a similar vein to Jonas: “The fact that these frogs [the papal theologians who wrote the Confutation] with their croakings [_coaxitatibus_ = pasquinades against Luther, instead of answers to the Augustana] have free access [to the Emperor] chagrins me very much in this great work in the most important matters. . . . But this happens to prove that I am – a true prophet; for I have always said that we work and hope in vain for a union in doctrine; it would be enough if we could obtain worldly peace.” (16,927. 2324.) August 25, when the prolonged discussions of reconciliation were nearing their end, he wrote to Melanchthon: “In sum, it does not please me at all that unity of doctrine is to be discussed, since this is utterly impossible, unless the Pope would abolish his entire popery. It would have sufficed if we had presented to them the reasons for our faith and desired peace. But how can we hope that we shall win them over to accept the truth? We have come to hear whether they approve our doctrine or not, permitting them to remain what they are, only inquiring whether they acknowledge our doctrine to be correct or condemn it. If they condemn it, what does it avail to discuss the question of unity any longer with avowed enemies? If they acknowledge it to be right, what necessity is there of retaining the old abuses?” (16, 1404.)

Though willing to yield to the Catholic party in all other matters, Luther refused to compromise the divine truth in any point or in any way. For this reason he also insisted that the Emperor should not be recognized as judge and arbiter without qualification, but only with the proviso that his decision would not conflict with the clear Word of God. According to Luther, everybody, Pope and Emperor included, must submit to the authority of the Scriptures. In a letter of July 9, 1530, he wrote to the Elector: “In the first place: Should His Imperial Majesty desire that the Imperial Majesty be [email protected] to decide these matters, since it was not His Majesty’s purpose to enter into lengthy discussions, I think Your Electoral Grace might answer that His Imperial Majesty’s manifesto promises that he would graciously listen to these matters. If such was not intended, the manifesto would have been needless, for His Imperial Majesty might have rendered his decision just as well in Spain without summoning Your Electoral Grace to Augsburg at such great labor and expense. . . . In the second place: Should His Imperial Majesty insist that the Imperial Majesty be permitted to decide these matters, Your Electoral Grace may cheerfully answer: Yes, the Imperial Majesiy shall decide these matters, and Your Electoral Grace would accept and suffer everything, provided only that His Imperial Majesty make no decision against the clear Scriptures, or God’s Word. For Your Electoral Grace cannot put the Emperor above God, nor accept his verdict in opposition to God’s Word.” (16,815.)

38. Papal Peace Sought by Emperor.

By their obstinate refusal to regard themselves as a party summoned, the Romanists, from the outset, made it impossible for the Emperor to maintain the role of an impartial judge, which, probably, he had never really intended to be. At an rate, though earnestly desirous of religious peace, his actions throughout the Diet do not reveal a single serious effort at redeeming his promise and putting his beautiful words into practise. Being bound to the Pope and the papal party both religiously and politically, Charles did not require of the Romanists a fulfilment of the obligations imposed upon them by his manifesto. All the concessions were to be made by the Lutherans. _Revoca!_ – that was the first and only word which Rome had hitherto spoken to Luther. “Revoke and submit yourselves!” – that, in the last analysis, was also the demand of the Emperor at Augsburg with respect to the Lutheran princes, both when he spoke in tones friendly and gentle and when he uttered severe and threatening words. Charles, it is true, desired peace, but a Roman peace, a peace effected by universal blind submission to the Pope; not a peace by mutual understanding and concessions; least of all a peace by political religious tolerance, such as Luther desired, and which in our days is generally regarded as the outstanding feature of modern civilization, notably of Americanism. To force the Lutherans into submission and obedience to the Pope, that was the real object of the Emperor. And the political situation demanded that this be accomplished by peaceable and gentle means – if possible.

Self-evidently, in his endeavors to establish a Papal Peace, the Emperor, who was haunted and tormented by the fear that all efforts might prove futile, was zealously seconded, encouraged, and prodded on by the papal theologians. To bring about a religious peace, such as the Emperor contemplated, this, they flattered Charles, would be an ever-memorable achievement, truly worthy of the Emperor, for the eyes of all Christendom were upon him, and he had staked his honor upon the success of this glorious undertaking. June 3 the Father Confessor of the Emperor, Garsia, then at Rome, wrote to Charles: “At present there is nothing so important in this life as that Your Maesty emerge victorious in the German affair. In Italy you will be accounted the best prince on earth if God should vouchsafe this grace unto us that the heresies which have arisen in that nation be cured by your hand.” (Plitt, 4.) June 6 Garsia wrote: “Gracious Lord! After the letters from the legate [Campegius, concerning the return of Christian II to the Roman Church, the disagreement between Philip of Hesse and the Elector, etc.] had been read at to-day’s Consistorial Meeting, almost all the cardinals said that Your Majesty was the angel sent from heaven to restore Christendom. God knows how much I rejoiced, and although the sun burned fiercely when I returned to mv home, how patiently I bore it! I was not sensitive to it from sheer joy at hearing such sweet words about my master from those who a year ago had maligned him. My chief comfort, however, was to behold that they were right; for it seems as if God were performing miracles by Your Majesty, and to judge by the beginning you have made in curing this ailment, it is evident that we may expect the issue to prove far more favorable than our sins merit.” (11. 67.)

39. Compulsion Advocated by Theologians.

All Romanists, the Emperor included, were of the opinion that the Protestants must be brought back to the papal fold. But they differed somewhat as to the means of accomplishing this purpose. Some demanded that force be resorted to forthwith, while others counseled that leniency be tried first, Campegius advised kindness at the beginning, and greater severity only in dealing with certain individuals, but that sharper measures and, finally, force of arms ought to follow. At Rome force was viewed as the “true rhubarb” for healing the breach, especially among the common people. July 18 Garsia wrote to the Emperor: “If you are determined to bring Germany back to the fold, I know of no other or better means than by presents and flattery to persuade those who are most eminent in science or in the empire to return to our faith. Once that is done, you must, in dealing with the remaining common people, first of all publish your imperial edicts and Christian admonitions. If they will not obey these, then the true rhubarb to cure them is force. This alone cured Spain’s rebellion against its king. And force is what will also cure Germany’s unfaithfulness to God, unless, indeed, divine grace should not attend Your Majesty in the usual measure. God would learn in this matter whether you are a faithful son of His, and should He so find, then I promise you that among all creatures you will find no power sufficiently strong to resist you. All will but serve the purpose of enabling you to obtain the crown of this world.” (42.)

Among the open advocates of force were Cochlaeus, Eck, Faber, and the theologians and monks who flocked to Augsburg in large numbers about the time the Augsburg Confession was read. They all considered it their prime duty to rouse the passions of the Emperor, as well as of the Catholic princes and estates, and to incite them against the Lutherans. Their enmity was primarily directed against the Augustana, whose objective and moderate tone had gained many friends even among the Catholics, and which had indirectly branded Eck and his compeers as detractors and calumniators. For had not Duke William of Bavaria, after the reading of the Confession, rebuked Eck, in the presence of the Elector of Saxony, for having misrepresented the Lutheran doctrine to him? The moderation of the Augustana, said these Romanists, was nothing but the cunning of serpents, deception and misrepresentation, especially on the part of the wily Melanchthon; for the true Luther was portrayed in the 404 theses of Eck. Cochlaeus wrote that the Lutherans were slyly hiding their ungodly doctrines in order to deceive the Emperor: “astute occultari in illorum Confessione prava eorum dogmata, de quibus ibi tacendo dissimulabant, ut in hypocrisi loquentes Maiestati Tuae aliisque principibus imponerent.” (Laemmer, _Vortridentinische Theologie_, 39.) Thus the malice and fanaticism of the papal theologians and the monks rose in proportion as friendliness was shown the Lutherans by Catholic princes and the Emperor. They feared that every approach toward the Lutherans would jeopardize the pax Pontif&cia.;

The fanaticism of the papal theologians is frequently referred to by the Lutherans. June 26 Melanchthon wrote to Luther: “Sophists and monks are daily streaming into the city, in order to inflame the hatred of the Emperor against us.” (_C.R._ 2, 141.) June 27: “Our Confession was presented last Saturday. The opponents are now deliberating upon how to answer; they flock together, take great pains, and incite the princes, who already have been sufficiently aroused. Eck vehementiy demands of the Archbishop of Mainz that the matter be not debated, since it has already been condemned.” (144.) June 29 Jonas wrote to Luther: “Faber is goaded on by furies, and Eck is not a whit more sensible. Both insist in every manner imaginable that the affair ought to be managed by force and must not be heard.” (154.) Melanchthon, July 8: “By chance Eck and Cochlaeus came to the legate [Campegius, with whom Melanchthon was deliberating]. I heard them say, distinctly enough, I believe, that the opponents are merely deliberating upon how to suppress us by force.” (175.) July 15: “Repeatedly have I been with certain enemies who belong to that herd of Eck. Words fail me to describe the bitter, Pharisaical hatred I noticed there. They do nothing, they plan nothing else than how they may incite the princes against us, and supply the Emperor with impious weapons.” (197.) The implacable theologians also succeeded in fanaticizing some of the princes and bishops, who gradually became more and more opposed to any kind of settlement by mutual understanding. (175.)

The chief exponent of force was Cochlaeus. In his _Expostulatio_, which appeared at Augsburg in May, 1530, he argued that not only according to papal, but according to imperial law as well, which the Evangelicals also acknowledged, and according to the Scriptures, heretics might, aye, must be punished with death. The treatise concludes as follows: “Thus it is established that obdurate heretics may be executed by every form of law. We, however, much prefer to have them return to the Church, be converted, healed, and live, and we beseech them to do so. _Constat igitvr, haereticos pertinaces omni iure interimi posse. Nos tamen longe magis optamus et precamur, ut redeuntes ad ecclesiam convertantur, sanentur et vivant.” (Plitt, 1, 5.)

Naturally Eck, too, was prominent among those who counseled the employment of compulsory measures; indeed, he could not await the hour when the order would be given to proceed against the heretics with fire and sword. He lamented, in bitter terms, the fact that the Emperor had not made use of stern measures as soon as he arrived in Germany. For now, said he, procrastination and the conciliatory demeanor of the Evangelicals, especially of Melanchthon and Brueck, had made it impossible to rouse the Emperor to such a degree as the exigency of the case demanded. (Plitt, 63.) Luther wrote: “For that shameless gab and bloodthirsty sophist, Doctor Eck, one of their chief advisers, publicly declared in the presence of our people that if the Emperor had followed the resolution made at Bononia, and, immediately on entering Germany, had courageously attacked the Lutherans with the sword, and beheaded one after another, the matter would have been easily settled. But all this was prevented when he permitted the Elector of Saxony to speak and be heard through his chancellor.” (St.L. 16, 1636.)

40. Emperor Employs Mildness.

While a number of the Catholic estates, incited by the theologians, were also in favor of immediately resorting to brutal force, the Emperor, for political reasons, considered it more advisable to employ kindness. Lauding the extreme affability and leniency of Charles, Melanchthon wrote to Luther, January 25: “The Emperor greets our Prince very kindly; and I would that our people, in turn, were more complaisant towards him. I would ask you to admonish our Junior Prince by letter in this matter. The Emperor’s court has no one milder than himself. All others harbor a most cruel hatred against us. _Caesar satis benigne salutat nostrum principem; ac velim vicissim nostros erga ipsum officiosiores esse. Ea de re utinam iuniorem principem nostrum litteris admonueris. Nihil ipso Caesare mitiiis habet ipsius aula. Reliqui omnes crudelissime nos oderunt.” (_C.R._ 2, 125.)

The reading of the Augustana strengthened this friendly attitude of Charles. Both its content and its conciliatory tone, which was not at all in harmony with the picture of the Lutherans as sketched by Eck, caused him to be more kindly disposed toward Protestantism, and nourished his hope that religious peace might be attained by peaceable means. Other Catholic dignitaries and princes had been impressed in the same manner. July 6 Luther wrote to Hausmann: “Many bishops are inclined to peace and despise the sophists, Eck and Faber. One bishop [Stadion of Augsburg] is said to have declared in a private conversation, ‘This [the Confession of the Lutherans] is the pure truth, we cannot deny it.’ The Bishop of Mainz is being praised very much for his endeavors in the interest of peace. Likewise Duke Henry of Brunswick, who extended a friendly invitation to Philip to dine with him, and admitted that he was not able to disprove the articles treating of both kinds, the marriage of priests, and the distinction of meats. Our men boast that, of the entire Diet, no one is milder than the Emperor himself. Such is the beginning. The Emperor treats our Elector not only graciously, but most respectfully. So Philip writes. It is remarkable how all are aglow with love and good will toward the Emperor. It may happen, if God so wills, that, as the first Emperor (Charles at Worms] was very hostile, so this last Emperor [Charles at Augsburg] will be very friendly. Only let us pray; for the power of prayer is clearly perceived.” (St.L. 16, 882.) The Emperor’s optimism was, no doubt, due to the fact that, unlike his theologians, he did not perceive and realize the impassable gulf fixed between Lutheranism and the Papacy, as appeared also from the Augustana, in which, however, the Emperor mistook moderation of tone for surrender of substance.

41. Augustana Submitted to Catholic Party.

Full of hope the Emperor, on June 26, immediately after its public presentation, submitted the Lutheran Confession to the Catholic estates for deliberation. These, too, though not in the least inclined to abandon their arrogant attitude, seem to have given themselves over to the delusion that the Lutherans could now be brought to recede from their position. Accordingly, their answer (Responsum) of June 27, couched in conciliatory language, recommended as “the humble opinion of the electors and estates that the Imperial Roman Majesty would submit this great and important matter to a number of highly learned, sensible, honest, conciliating, and not spiteful persons, to deliberate on, and to consider, the writing [the Augustana], as far as necessary, enumerating, on the one hand, whatsoever therein was found to be in conformity and harmony with the Gospel, God’s Word, and the holy Christian Church, but, on the other hand, refuting with the true foundation of the Gospel and the Holy Scripture and its doctrine, and bringing into true Christian understanding, such matters as were found to be against, and out of harmony with, the Gospel, the Word of God, and the Christian Church.” (Laemmer, 32.) They recommended, however, that in this entire matter Campegius be consulted, and for that purpose be furnished with a copy of the Lutheran Confession.

The Romanists furthermore resolved that the Lutherans be asked whether they had any additional points to present, and, if so, to do this immediately. The Lutherans, considering this a snare, declared, on July 10, that in their Confession they had made it a special point to present the chief articles which it is necessary to believe in order to be saved, but had not enumerated all abuses, desiring to emphasize such only as burdened the consciences, lest the paramount questions be obscured; that they would let this [all that was enumerated in their Confession] suffice, and have included other points of doctrine and abuses which were not mentioned; that they would not fail to give an answer from the Word of God in case their opponents should attack the Confession or present anything new. (Foerstemann, 2, 16. _C.R._ 2, 181.) No doubt, the Papists felt that the Lutherans really should have testified directly also against the Papacy, etc. This, too, was the interpretation which Luther put on the inquiry of the Romanists. July 21, 1530, he wrote to Jonas: “But now I see what the questions aimed at whether you had other articles to present. For Satan still lives and has noticed very well that your Apology [Augustana] steps softly and has passed by the articles concerning purgatory, the adoration of the saints, and especially Antichrist, the Pope.” (St. L. 16, 2323; Enders, 8, 133.)

July 5 the Emperor accepted the opinion of the estates and appointed the confutators. At the same time he declared with reference to the Lutherans that he “was the judge of the content of their writing” (Augustana); that, in case they should not be satisfied with his verdict, the final decision must remain with the Council; but that meanwhile the Edict of Worms would be enforced everywhere. (Laemmer, 34; _C.R._ 2, 175.) Thus the Emperor, in unmistakable terms, indicated that the Roman Confutation would bring his own final verdict, which no further discussions could modify, and that he would compel the Lutherans by force to observe the Edict of Worms if they refused to submit willingly. The Catholic estates endorsed the Emperor’s declaration, but added the petition that, after the Confutation had been read, the Lutherans be asked in all kindness to return, and that, in case this remained fruitless, an attempt be made to bring about an agreement to be reached by a committee appointed by both parties. Evidently, the estates as well as the Emperor expected the Lutherans to yield and surrender. Still, for the present, they were willing and preferred to attain this end by mild and gentle means.

42. Rabid Theologians Appointed as Confutators.

Canipegius, to whom the entire matter was entrusted, manipulated things in such a manner that the result was the very opposite of what the Emperor and estates bad resolved upon. To be sure, he made it appear as though he were entirely neutral, leaving everything to the discretion of the German princes. He knew also how to hide his real sentiments from the Lutherans. Jonas, for example, reports that in his address of June 24 Campegius had said “nothing harsh, or hateful (nihil acerbe, nihil odiose) against the Lutherans.” Spalatin reports: “Some one besought the Legate and Cardinal Campegius to assist in obtaining peace for the cause of the Gospel. To this he responded: Since the papal power was suspicious to us, the matter rested with the Emperor and the German princes. Whatever they did would stand.” (Koellner, _Symbolik_, 403.) Thus Campegius created the impression of absolute neutrality, while in reality he was at the same time busy with secret intrigues against the Lutherans.

Among the Confutators (Brueek mentions 19, Spalatin 20, others 22, still others 24), selected by Campegius and appointed by the Emperor, were such rabid, abusive, and inveterate enemies of Luther as Eck, Faber, Cochlaeus, Wimpina, Colli (author of a slanderous tract against Luther’s marriage), Dietenberger, etc. The first three are repeatedly designated as the true authors of the Confutation. In his _Replica ad Bucerum_, Eck boasts: “Of all the theologians at Augsburg I was chosen unanimously to prepare the answer to the Saxon Confession, and I obeyed. _Augustae ab omnibus theologis fui delectus unanimiter, qui responsum pararem contra confessionem Saxonicam, et parui_.” (Koellner, 407.) July 10 Brenz wrote to Myconius: “Their leader (_antesignanus_) is that good man Eck. The rest are 23 in number. One might call them an Iliad [Homer’s Iliad consists of 24 books] of sophists.” (_C.R._ 2, 180.) Melanchthon, too, repeatedly designates Eck and Faber as the authors of the Confutation. July 14 he wrote to Luther: “With his legerdemain (_commanipulatione_) Eck presented to the Emperor the Confutation of our Confession.” (193.) August 6: “This Confutation is the most nonsensical of all the nonsensical books of Faber.” (253.) August 8, to Myconius: “Eck and Faber have worked for six entire weeks in producing the Confutation of our Confession.” (260.) Hence also such allusions in Melanchthon’s letters as “confutatio Fabrilis,” “Fabriliter scripta,” and in the Apology: “Nullus Faber Fabrilius cogitare quidquam posset, quam hae ineptiae excogitatae suiit ad eludendum ins naturae.” (366, 10.) Brueck was right when he said that some of the Confutators were “purely partial, and altogether suspicious characters.” (Koellner, 411.)

43.Confutation Prepared.

The resolution which the Catholic estates passed June 27 was to the effect that the imperial answer to the Lutheran Confession be made “by sober and not spiteful men of learning.” The Emperor’s Prolog to the Confutation, accordingly, designated the confutators as “certain learned, valiant, sensible, sober, and honorable men of many nations.” (C. R. 27, 189.) At the same time they were told to couch their answer in winning, convincing, moderate, and earnest terms. The imperial instruction read: “To this end it is indeed good and needful that said document [the Augustana] be carefully considered and diligently studied by learned, wise, and sober persons, in order that they [the Lutherans] be shown in all kindness (durch gute Wege) where they err, and be admonished to return to the good way, likewise, to grant them whatsoever may be serviceable and adapted to our holy Christian faith; and to set forth the errors, moderately and politely, with such good and holy arguments as the matter calls for, to defend and prove everything with suitable evangelical declarations and admonitions, proceeding from Christian and neighborly love; and at the same time to mingle therewith earnestness and severity with such moderation as may be likely to win the five electors and princes, and not to destroy their hope or to harden them still more.” (Koellner, 403)

However, inspired by Campegius and goaded on by blind hatred, the Confutators employed their commission for the purpose of casting suspicion on the Lutherans and inciting the Emperor against them. They disregarded the imperial admonition for moderation, and instead of an objective answer to the Augustana, they produced a long-winded pasquinade against Luther and the Evangelical preachers, a fit companion piece to the 404 theses of Eck–a general accusation against the Protestants, a slanderous anthology of garbled quotations from Luther, Melanchthon, and other Evangelical preachers. The insinuation lurking in the document everywhere was that the Confession of the Lutheran princes was in glaring contradiction to the real doctrine of their pastors. The sinister scheme of the Romanists, as the Elector in 1536 reminded the Lutheran theologians, was to bring the princes in opposition to their preachers. (C. R. 3, 148.) The mildness and moderation of the Augustana, they openly declared, was nothing but subtle cunning of the smooth and wily Melanchthon, who sought to hide the true state of affairs. In a book which Cochlaeus published against the Apology in 1534 he said that the open attacks of Luther were far more tolerable than the serpentine cunning and hypocrisy of Melanchthon (instar draconis insidiantis fraudes intendens), as manifested in particular by his demeanor toward Campegius at Augsburg in 1530. (Laemmer, 56; Salig, 1, 376.) Thus the Roman Confutators disregarded their commission to refute the Augustana, and substituted a caricature of Luther and his doctrines designed to irritate the Emperor.

44. A Bulky, Scurrilous Document.

The Confutation, compiled by Eck and Faber from various contributions of the Confutators, was ready by the 8th of July, and was presented to the Emperor on the 12th or 13th. The German translation was prepared by the Bavarian Chancellor, Leonhard von Eck. July 10 Brenz had written: “It is reported that they are preparing wagonloads of commentaries against our Confession.” (C. R. 2, 180.) Spalatin reports that the Confutators delivered to the Emperor “a pile of books against Doctor Martin with most scurrilous titles.” The chief document was entitled: “Catholic and, as it were, Extemporaneous Response concerning Certain Articles Presented in These Days at the Diet to the Imperial Majesty by the Illustrious Elector of Saxony and Certain Other Princes as well as Two Cities. Catholica et quasi extemporanea Responsio super nonnullis articulis Caesareae Maiestati hisce diebus in dieta imperiali Augustensi per Illustrem Electorem Saxoniae et alios quosdam Principes et duas Civitates oblatis.” It was supplemented by nine other treatises on all manner of alleged contradictions and heresies of Luther and Anabaptistic as well as other fruits of his teaching. (Laemmer, 37, C. R. 2, 197.) The pasquinade with its supplements comprised no less than 351 folios, 280 of which were devoted to the answer proper. Cochlaeus also designates it as “very severe and extended, acrior extensiorque.” July 14 Melanchthon reported he had heard from friends that the Confutation was “long and filled with scurrilities.” (193. 218.) July 15: “I am sending you [Luther] a list of the treatises which our opponents have presented to the Emperor, from which you will see that the Confutation is supplemented by antilogs and other treatises in order to stir up against us the most gentle heart of the Emperor.Such are the stratagems these slanderers (sycophantae) devise.” (197.) The effect of the Confutation on the Emperor, however, was not at all what its authors desired and anticipated. Disgusted with the miserable bulky botch, the Emperor convened the estates on July 15, and they resolved to return the bungling document to the theologians for revision. Tone, method, plan, everything displeased the Emperor and estates to such an extent that they expunged almost one-third of it. Intentionally they ignored the nine supplements and demanded that reflections on Luther be eliminated from the document entirely;moreover, that the theologians confine themselves to a refutation of the Augustana.(Laemmer, 39.) Cochlaeus writes:”Since the Catholic princes all desired peace and concord, they deemed it necessary to answer in a milder tone, and to omit all reference to what the [Lutheran] preachers had formerly taught and written otherwise than their Confession stated.” (Koellner, 406.) In a letter to Brueck he declared that such coarse extracts and articles [with which the first draft of the Confutation charged Luther] should not be mentioned in the reply to the Confession, lest any one be put to shame or defamed publicly. (Laemmer, 39.)

In his Annals, Spalatin reports: “At first there were perhaps 280 folios. But His Imperial Majesty is said to have weeded out many folios and condensed the Confutation to such an extent that not more than twelve folios remained. This is said to have hurt and angered Eck severely.”(St. L. 21a, 1539.) In a letter to Veit Dietrich, dated July 30,Melanchthon remarks sarcastically: “Recently Eck complained to one of his friends that the Emperor had deleted almost the third part of his treatise, and I suspect that the chief ornaments of the book were rooted out, that is, the glaring lies and the most stupid tricks, insignia mendacia et sycophantiae stolidissimae.” (C. R. 2, 241.) Brenz regarded this as an evidence of the extent to which the Augustana had perturbed the opponents, leaving them utterly helpless. July 15 he wrote to Isemann:”Meanwhile nothing new has taken place in our midst, except that I heard that the confession of the sophists was to-day returned by the Emperor to its authors, the sophists, and this for the reason that it was so confused, jumbled, vehement, bloodthirsty, and cruel (confusa, incordita, violenta, sanguinolenta et crudelis) that he was ashamed to have it read before the Imperial Senate…. We experience daily that we have so bewildered, stunned, and confused them that they know not where to begin or to end.” (198.) “Pussyfooting (Leisetreten)!”–such was the slogan at Augsburg; and in this Melanchthon was nowhere equaled. Privately also Cochlaeus elaborated a milder answer to the Lutheran Confession.But even the friends who had induced him to undertake this task considered his effort too harsh to be presented to the Emperor. The first, rejected draft of the Confutation has been lost, with the sole exception of the second article, preserved by Cochlaeus. On the difference between this draft and the one finally adopted, Plitt comments as follows: “The Confutation as read simply adopted the first article of the Confession [Augustana] as in complete agreement with the Roman Church. The original draft also approved this article’s appeal to the Council of Nicaea, but added that now the Emperor should admonish the confessing estates to accept everything else taught by the Catholic Church, even though it was not verbally contained in the Scriptures, as, for example, the Mass, Quadragesimal fasting, the invocation of the saints, etc.; for the wording of the doctrine of the Trinity could be found in the Scriptures just as little as that of the points mentioned, furthermore, that he also call upon them to acknowledge said Synod of Nicaea in all its parts, hence also to retain the hierarchical degrees with their powers; that he admonish them to compel their preachers and teachers to retract everything which they had said and written against that Synod, especially Luther and Melanchthon, its public defamers.Refusal of such retraction would invalidate their appeal to that Synod and prove it to be nothing but a means of deception. Finally they were to be admonished not to believe their teachers in anything which was against the declarations of the Church catholic. Such was the form in which the first draft of the Confutation was couched. Everywhere the tendency was apparent to magnify the differences,make invidious inferences, cast suspicion on their opponents, and place them in a bad light with the Emperor and the majority. This was not the case in the answer which was finally read.” (37.)

45.Confutation Adopted and Read.

Only after repeated revisions in which Campegius and the imperial counselors Valdes and Granvella took part was an agreement reached regarding the form of the Confutation. July 30 the Emperor received the fourth revision and on August 1 he presented it to the bishops, princes, and estates for their opinion. There still remained offensive passages which had to be eliminated. A fifth revision was necessary before the approval of the Emperor and the estates was forthcoming. A Prolog and an Epilog were added according to which the Confutation is drawn up in the name of the Emperor. Thus the original volume was boiled down to a comparatively small document. But to speak with Kolde, even in its final form the Confutation is “still rather an accusation against the Evangelicals, and an effort to retain all the medieval church customs than a refutation of the Augustana.”(34.) August 6 Jonas wrote to Luther:”The chaplain [John Henkel] of Queen Maria informed us that they had five times changed their Confutation, casting and recasting minting and reminting it and still there finally was produced nothing but an uncouth and confused conglomeration and a hodgepodge, as when a cook pours different soups into one pot.At first they patched together an enormous volume, as Faber is known to be a verbose compiler; the book grew by reason of the multitude of its lies and scurrilities. However, at the first revision the Emperor eliminated the third part of the book, so that barely twelve or sixteen folios remained, which were read.” (St. L. 21a, 1539.)

On August 3, 1530, in the same hall in which the Augsburg Confession had been submitted thirty-eight days before, in the presence of all the estates of the empire, the Augustanae Confessionis Responsio,immediately called Confutatio Pontificia by the Protestants, was read in the German language by Alexander Schweiss, the Imperial Secretary. However, the reading, too, proved to be a discreditable affair. Owing to the great haste in which the German copy had been prepared, an entire portion had been omitted; the result was that the conclusion of Article 24 as well as Articles 25 and 26 were not presented. Furthermore, Schweiss, overlooking the lines of erasure, read a part which had been stricken, containing a very bold deliverance on the sacrifice of the Mass, in which they labored to prove from the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin that the word facite in the institution of the Sacrament was synonymous with “sacrifice.” (Kolde, 34.) August 6, 1530, Jonas wrote to Luther: The opponents presented their Confutation to the Emperor on July 30, and on the 3d of August it was read in the presence of the Emperor and the estates, together with a Prolog and an Epilog of the Emperor. “The reading also consumed two entire hours, but with an incredible aversion, weariness, and disgust on the part of some of the more sensible hearers, who complained that they were almost driven out by this utterly cold, threadbare songlet (cantilena), being extremely chagrined that the ears of the Emperor should be molested with such a lengthy array of worthless things masquerading under the name of Catholic doctrines.” (St. L. 21 a, 1539.) August 4 Brenz wrote to Isemann: “The Emperor maintains neutrality; for he slept both when the Augustana and when the Confutation was read. Imperator neutralem sese gerit; nam cum nostra confessio legeretur obdormivit; rursus cum adversariorum responsio legeretur, iterum obdormivit in media negotii actione.” (C. R. 2, 245.)

The Confutation was neither published, nor was a copy of it delivered to the Lutherans. Apparently the Romanists, notably the Emperor and the estates, were ashamed of the document.True,Cochlaeus reports that toward the close of the Diet Charles authorized him and Eck to publish it, but that this was not done, because Duke George and the Emperor left Augsburg shortly after, and the printer also moved away. (Koellner, 414.) All subsequent pleading and imploring,however,on the part of Eck and others, to induce the Emperor to publish the Confutation fell on deaf ears. Evidently Charles no longer took any interest in a document that had so shamefully shattered his fond ambition of reconciling the religious parties. What appeared in print, early in 1531, was merely an extract prepared by Cochlaeus, entitled, Summary of the Imperial Answer, etc. The first Latin edition of the Confutation appeared as late as 1573; the first German edition, in 1808. All previous German impressions (also the edition of 1584) are translations of the Latin edition of 1573. (C. R. 27, 25. 82.) Concerning the German text of the Confutation Kolde remarks: Since changes were made even after it had been read, we have even less definite knowledge, respecting details, as to what was read than in the case of the Augustana. (35.) One may therefore also speak of a Confutatio Variata. The doctrine of the Confutation does not differ essentially from that which was later on affirmed by the Council of Trent (1545¡V1563). However, says Kolde, being written by the German leaders of the Catholic party under the eye of the Papal Legate, and approved by the Emperor, the German bishops, and the Roman-minded princes, it [the Confutation] must be reckoned among the historically most important documents of the Roman Catholic faith of that day.

46. Confutation Denounced by Lutherans.

In the opinion of the Lutherans, the final draft of the Confutation, too, was a miserable makeshift. True, its tone was moderate, and, with few exceptions, personal defamations were omitted. The arrangement of subjects was essentially the same as in the Augustana. Still it was not what it pretended to be. It was no serious attempt at refuting the Lutheran Confession, but rather an accumulation of Bible-texts, arbitrarily expounded, in support of false doctrines and scholastic theories. These efforts led to exegetical feats that made the Confutators butts of scorn and derision.At any rate, the Lutherans were charged with having failed, at the public reading, to control their risibilities sufficiently. Cochlaeus complains:”During the reading many of the Lutherans indulged in unseemly laughter. Quando recitata fuit, multi e Lutheranis inepte cachinnabantur.” (Koellner, 411.) If this did not actually occur, it was not because the Confutators had given them no cause for hilarity.

“Altogether childish and silly”–such is Melanchthon’s verdict on many of their exegetical pranks. August 6 he wrote letter after letter to Luther, expressing his contempt for the document. “After hearing that Confutation,” says Melanchthon,”all good people seem to have been more firmly established on our part, and the opponents, if there be among them some who are more reasonable, are said to be disgusted (stomachari) that such absurdities were forced upon the Emperor, the best of princes.” (C. R. 2, 252.) Again: Although the Emperor’s verdict was very stern and terrible,” still, the Confutation being a composition so very puerile, a most remarkable congratulation followed its reading. No book of Faber’s is so childish but that this Confutation is still more childish.”(253.) In another letter he remarked that, according to the Confutation, in which the doctrine of justification by faith was rejected, “the opponents had no knowledge of religion whatever.” (253.)

August 4 Brenz wrote to Isemann: “All things were written in the fashion of Cochlaeus, Faber, and Eck. Truly a most stupid comment, so that I am ashamed of the Roman name, because in their whole Church they can find no men able to answer us heretics at least in a manner wise and accomplished. Sed omnia conscripta erant Cochleice et Fabriliter et Eccianice. Commentum sane stupidissimum, ut pudeat me Romani nominis, quod in sua religione non conquirant viros, qui saltem prudenter et ornate nobis haereticis responderent.” (245.) August 15 Luther answered:”We received all of your letters, and I praise God that he made the Confutation of the adversaries so awkward and foolish a thing.However, courage to the end! Verum frisch hindurch!” (Enders, 8, 190.)

47. Luther on the Confutation.

Derision increased when the Papists declined to publish the Confutation, or even to deliver a copy of it to the Lutherans for further inspection.This refusal was universally interpreted as an admission, on the part of the Romanists, of a guilty conscience and of being ashamed themselves of the document. In his Warning to My Beloved Germans, which appeared early in 1531, Luther wrote as follows:”But I am quite ready to believe that extraordinary wisdom prompted them [the Papists at Augsburg] to keep this rebuttal of theirs and that splendid booklet [Confutation] to themselves, because their own conscience tells them very plainly that it is a corrupt, wicked, and frigid thing, of which they would have to be ashamed if it were published and suffered itself to be seen in the light or to endure an answer. For I very well know these highly learned doctors who have cooked and brewed over it for six weeks, though with the ignorant they may be able to give the matter a good semblance. But when it is put on paper, it has neither hands nor feet, but lies there in a disorderly mass, as if a drunkard had spewed it up, as may be seen, in particular, in the writings of Doctor Schmid and Doctor Eck. For there is neither rhyme nor rhythm in whatsoever they are compelled to put into writing. Hence they are more sedulous to shout and prattle. Thus I have also learned that when our Confession was read, many of our opponents were astonished and confessed that it was the pure truth,which they could not refute from the Scriptures. On the other hand, when their rebuttal was read, they hung their heads, and showed by their gestures that they considered it a mean and useless makeshift as compared with our Confession. Our people, however, and many other pious hearts were greatly delighted and mightily strengthened when they heard that with all the strength and art which our opponents were then called upon to display, they were capable of producing nothing but this flimsy rebuttal, which now, praise God! a woman, a child, a layman, a peasant are fully able to refute with good arguments taken from the Scriptures, the Word of Truth. And that is also the true and ultimate reason why they refused to deliver [to the Lutherans a copy of] their refutation. Those fugitive evil consciences were filled with horror at themselves, and dared not await the answer of Truth.And it is quite evident that they were confident, and that they had the Diet called together in the conviction that our people would never have the boldness to appear, but if the Emperor should only be brought to Germany in person, every one would be frightened and say to them: Mercy, dear lords, what would you have us do? When they were disappointed in this, and the Elector of Saxony was the very first to appear on the scene, good Lord,how their breeches began to–! How all their confidence was confounded! What gathering together, secret consultations, and whisperings resulted! … The final sum and substance of it all was to devise ways and means (since our men were the first joyously and cheerfully to appear) how to keep them from being heard [block the reading of the Augustana]. When also this scheme of theirs was defeated, they finally succeeded in gaining the glory that they did not dare to hand over their futile rebuttal nor to give us an opportunity to reply to it! …But some one might say: The Emperor was willing to deliver the answer to our party provided they would promise not to have it published nor its contents divulged. That is true, for such a pledge was expected of our men. Here, however, every one may grasp and feel (even though he is able neither to see nor hear) what manner of people they are who will not and dare not permit their matter to come to the light. If it is so precious a thing and so well founded in the Scriptures as they bellow and boast, why, then, does it shun the light? What benefit can there be in hiding from us and every one else such public matters as must nevertheless be taught and held among them? But if it is unfounded and futile, why, then, did they in the first resolution [of the Diet], have the Elector of Brandenburg proclaim and publish in writing that our Confession had been refuted [by the Confutation] with the Scriptures and stanch arguments? If that were true, and if their own consciences did not give them the lie, they would not merely have allowed such precious and well-founded Refutation to be read, but would have furnished us with a written copy, saying: There you have it, we defy any one to answer it! as we did and still do with our Confession …What the Elector of Brandenburg said in the resolution [read at the Diet], that our Confession was refuted with the Scriptures and with sound arguments, is not the truth, but a lie … For this well-founded refutation [Confutation] has as yet not come to light, but is perhaps sleeping with the old Tannhaeuser on Mount Venus (Venusberg).” (St. L. 15, 1635.)