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considered, should be viewed in connexion with the moral and political circumstances in which they appear; and perhaps in this respect, notwithstanding your interjection, it might not be difficult to show, that in some things the merits of Mahomet were not inferior to the exertions and intrepidity of Luther.”
“Well," said the Bachelor, “ as you are in one of your sensation-producing moods, I shall not contradict you.”
“ Nay,” exclaimed Egeria, “ if you are in that vein, I shall say no more, but read you Mr Roscoe's character of Luther, which I think very ably drawn. It is not embued with much of the energy of genius, but, like all the other productions of that author's pen, it is distinguished for good sense, a certain classical propriety, --in short, it is a tasteful but not an original sketch."
“ In order to form a proper estimate of the conduct and character of Luther, it is necessary to consider him in two principal points of view : First, as an opponent to the haughty assumptions and gross abuses of the Roman See; and, secondly, as the founder of a new church, over which he may be said to have presided until the time of his death, in 1546, an interval of nearly thirty years. In the former capacity we find him endeavouring to substitute the authority of reason and of scripture for that of councils and of popes, and contending for the utmost latitude in the perusal and construction of the sacred writings, which, as he expressed it, could not be chained, but were open to the interpretation of every individual. For this great and daring attempt he was peculiarly qualified. A consciousness of his own integrity, and the natural intrepidity of his mind, enabled him not only to brave the most violent attacks of his adversaries, but to treat them with a degree of derision and contempt, which seemed to prove the superiority of his cause. Fully sensible of the importance and dignity of his undertaking, he looked with equal eyes on all worldly honours and distinctions; and emperors, and pontiffs, and kings, were regarded by him as men and as equals, who might merit his respect or incur his resentment, according as they were inclined to promote or obstruct his views. Nor was he more firm against the stern voice of authority, than against the blandishments of flattery, and the softening influence of real or of pretended friendship. The various attempts which were made to induce him to relax in his opposition seem in general to have confirmed rather than shaken his resolution; and if at any time he shewed a disposition towards conciliatory measures, it was only a symptom that his opposition would be soon carried to a greater extreme. The warmth of his temperament seldom, however, prevented the exercise of his judgment; and the various measures to which he resorted for securing popularity to his cause, were the result of a thorough knowledge of the great principles of human nature, and of the pe.. culiar state of the times in which he lived. The injustice and absurdity of resorting to violence, instead of convincing the understanding by argument, were shewn by him in the strongest light. Before the imperial diet he asserted his own private opinion, founded, as he contended, on reason and scripture, against all the authorities of the Roman church; and the important point which he incessantly laboured to establish was the right of private judgment in matters of faith. To the defence of this proposition he was at all times ready to devote his learning, his talents, his repose, his character, and his life ; and the great and imperishable merit of this reformer consists in his having demonstrated it by such arguments, as neither the efforts of his adversa
ries, nor his own subsequent conduct, have been able either to refute or invalidate.
“ As the founder of a new church, the character of Luther appears in a very different light. After having effected a separation from the See of Rome, there yet remained the still more difficult task of establishing such a system of religious faith and worship as, without ad. mitting the exploded doctrines of the papal church, would prevent that licentiousness which, it was supposed, would be the consequence of a total absence of all ecclesiastical restraints. In this task Luther engaged, with a resolution equal to that with which he had braved the authority of the Romish church; but with this remarkable difference, that in one instance he effected his purpose by strenuously insisting on the right of private judgment in matters of faith, whilst, in the other, he succeeded, by laying down new doctrines, to which he expected that all those who espoused his cause should implicity submit. The opinions of Luther on certain points were fixed and unalterable. The most important of these were, the doctrine of the real presence in the Eucharist, and the justification of mankind by faith alone. Whoever assented not to these propositions was not of his church; and although he was ready, on all occasions, to make use of arguments from scripture for the defence of his tenets, yet, when these proved insufficient, he seldom hesitated to resort to more violent measures. This was fully exemplified in his conduct towards his friend Carlostadt, who, not being able to distinguish between the Romish doctrine of transubstàntiation and that of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, had, like Zuinglius, adopted the idea that the bread and the wine were only the symbols, and not the actual substance of the body and blood of Christ. Luther, however, maintained his opinion with the utmost obstinacy; the dispute became the subject of several violent publications, until Luther, who was now supported by the secular power, obtained the banishment of Carlostadt, who was at length reduced to the necessity of earning his bread by his daily labour. The unaccommodating adherence of Luther to this opinion, placed also an effectual bar to the union of the Helvetic and German reformers; and to such an uncharitable extreme did he carry his resentment against those who denied the real presence, that he refused to admit the Swiss, and the German cities and states, which had adopted the sentiments of Zuinglius and Bucer, into the confederacy for the defence of the Protestant church; choosing rather to risk the total destruction of his cause, than to avail himself of the assistance of those who did not concur with him in every particular article of belief.”
A MIST ON THE SHORE.
“ The other night,” said Egeria, “ I read Mr Howison's description of the Falls of Niagara,—the best yet given of one of the most magnificent spectacles on the whole earth. But I think you will agree with me, that if the author had not heightened the colouring with his own dreads and sentiments, the painting, clear and effective as it is, would have wanted half its beauty, and more than half its interest. In truth, life of some kind, descriptions of the efforts of instinct or of mind, are essential to the grandeur of the grandest scenes. Without such the volcano is but a skyrocket, and the boundless
ocean, agitated by a storm, only a magnified view of the pool shaken by the breath of summer! A salmon-leap in a Highland glen might be so described as to produce a higher sense of the sublime than even Mr Howison's superb account of the Falls of Niagara, though the perils and endeavours of no other living thing were introduced than those of a single fish struggling to overleap the fall of the torrent. It is the skill with which such perils and endeavours are introduced that constitute the impress of genius in description. Compare, for example, the escape of Keith and Ellen, in REGINALD DALTON, with Mr Howison's Niagara, and you will acknowledge the truth of my doctrine ; the principle of which is, that the sublime has its source in moral feeling, either in apprehension, sympathy, or association. And I pray you to observe, that the Canadian traveller has done his utmost with all his poetical power and the stores of a rich vocabulary,—whereas the novelist has trammelled himself with a colloquial familiarity approaching to meanness; and yet how awful and imposing the effect ! -how much more so than all the thunderings and earthquake-murmurings of the other's desire to do justice to the magnitude of a great theme."
« « The mist, you will observe, had been clearing - away pretty quickly on the right hand, but it was dark
enough towards the front, and getting darker and darker ; but we thought nought on't till the boy pulled up. • Meinherr, Meinherr ! cried the fellow, 'I am afraid I hear the water.' He stopt for a moment, and then said, “Stay you for a moment where you are, and I'll soon see whether we are right.' With that, off he