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

Gustaf brought Olaus to Stockholm 1524


Gustaf

brought Olaus to Stockholm (1524), and made him town-clerk of the city; his brother Laurentius was appointed professor of theology at Upsala; Laurentius Andrew was made Archdeacon of Upsala and Chancellor of Sweden. When the bishops demanded that the Reformers should be silenced, Olaus challenged them to a public disputation. The challenge was refused; but in 1524 a disputation was arranged in the king's palace in Stockholm between Olaus and Dr. Galle, who supported the old religion. The conference, which included discussion of the doctrines of Justification by Faith, Indulgences, the Mass, Purgatory, and the Temporal Power of the Pope, had the effect of strengthening the cause of the Reformation. In 1525, Olaus defied the rules of the mediaeval Church by publicly marrying a wife. The same year the king called for a translation of the Scriptures into Swedish, and in 1526 Laurentius Petri published his New Testament. A translation of the whole Bible was edited by the same scholar, and published 1540-1541. These translations, especially that of the New Testament, became very popular, and the people with the Scripture in their hands were able to see whether the teaching of the preachers or of the bishops was most in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.

There is no reason to believe that the king did not take the side of the Lutheran Reformation from genuine conviction. He had made the acquaintance of the brothers Petri before he was called to be

the deliverer of his country. But it is unquestionable that his financial embarrassment whetted his zeal for the reformation of the Church in Sweden. Matters were coming to a crisis, which was reached in 1527. At the Diet in that year, the Chancellor, in the name of the king, explained the need for an increased revenue, and suggested that ecclesiastical property was the only source from which it could be obtained. The bishops, Johan Brask, Bishop of Linkoeping, at their head, replied that they had the Pope's orders to defend the property of the Church. The nobles supported them. Then Gustaf presented his ultimatum. He told the Diet plainly that they must submit to the proposals of the Chancellor or accept his resignation, pay him for his property, return him the money he had spent in defence of the kingdom, and permit him to leave the country never to return. The Diet spent three days in wrangling, and then submitted to his wishes. The whole of the ecclesiastical property--episcopal, capitular, and monastic--which was not absolutely needed for the support of the Church was to be placed in the hands of the king. Preachers were meanwhile to set forth the pure gospel, until a conference held in presence of the Diet would enable that assembly to come to a decision concerning matters of religion. The Diet went on, without waiting for the conference, to pass the twenty-four regulations which made the famous Ordinances of Vesteraes, and embodied the legal Reformation. They contained provisions for secularising the ecclesiastical property in accordance with the previous decision of the Diet; declared that the king had the right of vetoing the decisions of the higher ecclesiastics; that the appointment of the parish clergy was in the hands of the bishops, but that the king could remove them for inefficiency; that the pure gospel was to be taught in every school; and that auricular confession was no longer compulsory.

While the Ordinances stripped the Swedish Church of a large amount of its property and made it subject to the king, they did not destroy its episcopal organisation, nor entirely impoverish it. Most of the monasteries were deserted when their property was taken away. The king knew that the peasantry scarcely understood the Reformed doctrines, and had no wish to press them unduly on his people. For the same reason the old ceremonies and usages which did not flagrantly contradict the new doctrines were suffered to remain, and given an evangelical meaning. The first evangelical Hymn-book was published in 1530, and the Swedish "Mass" in 1531, both drafted on Lutheran models. Laurentius Andreae was made Archbishop of Upsala (1527), and a National Synod was held under his presidency at Orebro (1528), which guided the Reformation according to strictly conservative Lutheran ideals. Thus before the death of Gustaf Vasa, Sweden had joined the circle of Lutheran Churches, and its people were slowly coming to understand the principles of the Reformation. The Reformation was a very peaceful one. No one suffered death for his religious opinions.


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