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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)

Pamphlets like those of Eberlin


Some

of this coarse popular literature had a more direct connection with the Lutheran movement. A booklet which appeared in 1521, entitled _The New and the Old God_, and which had an immense circulation, may be taken as an example. Like many of its kind, it had an illustrated title-page, which was a graphic summary of its contents. There appeared as the representatives of the New God, the Pope, some Church Fathers, and beneath them, Cajetan, Silvester Prierias, Eck, and Faber; over-against them were the Old God as the Trinity, the four Evangelists, St. Paul with a sword, and behind him Luther. It attacked the ceremonies, the elaborate services, the obscure doctrines which had been thrust on the Church by bloody persecutions, and had changed Christianity into Judaism, and contrasted them with the unchanging Word of the Old God, with its simple story of salvation and its simple doctrines of faith, hope, and love. To the same class belong the writings of the voluminous controversialist, John Eberlin of Guenzburg, whom his opponents accused of seducing whole provinces, so effective were his appeals to the "common" man. He began by a pamphlet addressed to the young Emperor, and published, either immediately before or during the earlier sitting of the Diet of Worms in 1521, a daring appeal, in which Luther and Ulrich von Hutten are called the messengers of God to their generation. It was the first of a series of fifteen, all of which were in circulation before the beginning of November of
the same year.(303) They were called the "Confederates" (_Bundsgenossen_). The contents of these and other pamphlets by Eberlin may be guessed from their titles--_Of the forty days' fast before Easter and others which pitifully oppress Christian folk._ _An exhortation to all Christians that they take pity on Nuns._ _How very dangerous it is that priests have not wives_ (the frontispiece represents the marriage of a priest by a bishop, in the background the marriage of two monks, and two musicians on a raised seat). _Why there is no money in the country._ _Against the false clergy, bare-footed monks, and Franciscans_, etc., etc. He exposes as trenchantly as Luther did the systematic robbery of Germany to benefit the Roman Curia--300,000 gulden sent out of the country every year, and a million more given to the begging friars. He wrote fiercely against the monks who take to this life, because they were too lazy to work like honest people, and called them all sorts of nicknames--_cloister swine_, _the Devil's landsknechts_, etc., twenty-four thousand of them sponge on Germany and four hundred thousand on the rest of Europe. He tells of a parish priest who thought that he must really begin to read the Scriptures: his parishioners are reading it, the mothers to the children and the house-fathers to the household; they trouble him with questions taken from it, and he is often at his wit's end to answer; he asked a friend where he ought to begin, and was told that there was a good deal about priests and their duties in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; he read, and was horrified to find that bishops and priests ought to be "husbands of one wife," etc. Eberlin had been a Franciscan monk, and was true to the revolutionary traditions of his Order. He preached a social as well as an evangelical reformation. The Franciscan Order sent forth a good many Reformers: men like Stephen Kampen, who had come to adopt views like those of Eberlin without any teaching but the leadings of his heart; or John Brissmann, a learned student of the Scholastic Theology, who like Luther had found that it did not satisfy the yearnings of his soul; or like Frederick Mecum (Myconius), whose whole spiritual development was very similar to that of Luther. Pamphlets like those of Eberlin, and preaching like that of Kampen, had doubtless some influence in causing popular risings against the priests that were not uncommon throughout Germany in 1521, after the Diet of Worms had ended its sittings--the Erfurt tumult, which lasted during the months of April, May, June, and July, may be instanced as an example.


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