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

337 The Diet was formally opened on June 20th 1530


style="text-align: justify;">? 6. The Diet of Augsburg 1530.(337)

The Diet was formally opened on June 20th (1530), and in the _Proposition_ or Speech from the Throne it was announced that the Assembly would be invited to discuss armament against the Turk, and that His Majesty was anxious, "by fair and gentle means," to end the religious differences which were distracting Germany. The Protestants were again invited to give the Emperor in writing their opinions and difficulties. It was resolved to take the religious question first. On June 24th the Lutherans were ready with their "statement of their grievances and opinions relating to the faith." Next day (June 25th) the Diet met in the hall of the Episcopal Palace, and what is known as the _Augsburg Confession_ was read by the Saxon Chancellor, Dr. Christian Bayer, in such a clear resonant voice that it was heard not only by the audience within the chamber, but also by the crowd which thronged the court outside.(338) When the reading was ended, Chancellor Brueck handed the document and a duplicate in Latin to the Emperor. They were signed by the Elector of Saxony and his son John Frederick, by George, Margrave of Brandenburg, the Dukes Ernest and Francis of Lueneburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt, and the delegates of the cities of Nuernberg and Reutlingen. These princes knew the danger which threatened them in putting their names to the Confession. The theologians of Saxony

besought their Elector to permit their names to stand alone; but he answered calmly, _I, too, will confess my Christ_. He was not a brilliant man like Philip of Hesse. He was unpretentious, peace-loving, and retiring by nature--John the Steadfast, his people called him. Recent historians have dwelt on the conciliatory attitude and judicial spirit manifested by the Emperor at this Diet, and they are justified in doing so; but the mailed hand sometimes showed itself. Charles refused to invest John with his Electoral dignities in the usual feudal fashion, and his entourage whispered that if the Elector was not amenable to the Emperor's arguments, he might find the electorate taken from him and bestowed on the kindred House of Ducal Saxony, which in the person of Duke George so stoutly supported the old religion.(339) While possessing that "laudable, if crabbed constitutionalism which was the hereditary quality of the Ernestine line of Saxony,"(340) he had a genuine affection for the Emperor. Both recognised that this Diet of Augsburg had separated them irrevocably. "Uncle, Uncle," said Charles to Elector John at their parting interview, "I did not expect this from you." The Elector's eyes filled with tears; he could not speak; he turned away in silence and left the city soon afterwards.(341)

? 7. The Augsburg Confession.(342)

The Augsburg Confession (_Confessio Augustana_) was what it claimed to be, a statement of "opinion and grievances," and does not pretend to be a full exposition of doctrinal tenets. The men who wrote it (Melanchthon was responsible for the phraseology) and presented it to the Diet, claimed to belong to the ancient and visible Catholic Church, and to believe in all the articles of faith set forth by the Universal Church, and particularly in the _Apostles'_ and _Nicene Creeds_; but they maintained that abuses had crept in which obscured the ancient doctrines. The Confession showed why they could not remain in connection with an unreformed Church. Their position is exactly defined in the opening sentence of the second part of the Confession. "Inasmuch as the Churches among us dissent in no articles of faith from the Holy Scriptures nor the Church Catholic, and only omit a few of certain abuses, which are novel, and have crept in with time partly and in part have been introduced by violence, and contrary to the purport of the canons, we beg that your Imperial Majesty would clemently hear both what ought to be changed, and what are the reasons why people ought not to be forced against their conscience to observe these abuses."


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