Articles of Schmalkald

Articles Of Schmalkald.

The Protestants had formed the Schmalkaldic League (q.v.) in 1531, and the emperor, by the Religious Peace of 1532, had agreed to maintain the status quo until a council should meet to settle all questions. He endeavored to have a papal council called in 1537; but the Wittenberg divines, not willing to trust such a body, agreed to certain articles drawn up by Luther, and presented at the meeting of the electors, princes, and states at Schmalkald (Feb. 15, 1537). They were principally designed to show how far the Lutherans were disposed to go in order to avoid a final rupture with Rome, and in what sense they were willing to adopt the doctrine of Christ's presence in the Eucharist. In these articles opposition to the Romish doctrine is very strongly expressed. The articles afterward became one of the authoritative symbolical books of the Lutheran Church. Dr. Murdoch, in his notes to Mosheim (Ch. History cent. 16:sec. i, ch. iii, § 9), gives the following account of them: "The Augsburg Confession was intended to soften prejudice against the Lutherans, and to conciliate the good-will of the Catholics. Of course, the gentle Melancthon was employed to write it. The Articles of Schmalkald, on the contrary, were a preparation for a campaign against an enemy with whom no compromise was deemed possible, and in which victory or death was the only alternative. Of course,, all delicacy toward the Catholics was dispensed with, and Luther's fiery style was chosen, and allowed full scope. In words the Articles flatly contradict the Confession in some instances, though in some they are the same. Thus the Confession (article 24) says: 'We are unjustly charged with having abolished the mass. For it is manifest that, without boasting, we may say the mass is observed by us with greater devotion and earnestness than by our opposers.' But in the Articles of Schmalkald, part ii, art. 11, it is said that the popish mass is the greatest and most horrid abomination, as militating directly and violently against these articles; and yet it has become the chief and most splendid of all the popish idolatries.' In the Confession they applied the name of the mass to the Lutheran form of the Eucharist; but in these Articles they confine that term to the proper import, the ordinary public service among the Catholics. The Articles of Schmalkald cover 28 folio pages, and are preceded by a preface, and followed by a treatise on the power and supremacy of the pope. The first part contains four concise articles respecting God, the Trinity, and the incarnation, passion, and ascension of Christ, in accordance with the Apostles' and the Athanasian Creeds. On these articles the Protestants professed to agree together with the Papists. The second part also contains four articles of fundamental importance, but in which the Protestants and Papists are declared to be totally and irreconcilably at variance. They relate to the nature and to the grounds of justification, the mass and saint worship, ecclesiastical and monkish establishments, and the claims of the pope. The third part contains fifteen articles, which the Protestants considered as relating to very important subjects, but on which the Papists laid little stress. The subjects are sin, the law, repentance, the Gospel, baptism, the sacrament of the altar, the keys (or spiritual power), confession, excommunication, ordination, celibacy of the clergy, churches, good works, monastic vows, and human satisfaction for sin. When the Protestants subscribed these articles, Melancthon annexed a reservation to his signature purporting that he could admit of a pope, provided he would allow the Gospel to be preached in its purity, and would give up his pretensions to a divine right to rule, and would found his claims wholly on expediency and human compact. In consequence of this dissent from Luther, Melancthon was requested to draw up an article on the power and supremacy of the pope. He did so, and the Protestants were well pleased with it, and subscribed to it. It is annexed to the Articles of Schmalkald." See J. G. Walch's Introd. to Biblioth. Theol. i, 317, 362.

The first edition of the Articles of Schmalkald appeared in Wittenberg, 1538, 4to, in German; in Late in (by Generanus), 1541, 8vo. Selnekker afterward made a new Latin version, which is the one adopted in the collection of Lutheran creeds in Latin. A new edition of the German text. with the literature of the subject, was published by Marheineke (Berlin, 1817, 4to). See also, for the text and history, Francke, Libri Symbolci Eccl. Lutherance (Lips. 1847, 12mo); Guericke, Christl. Symbolik, § 14; Ranke, History of the Reformation, vol. iii.

 
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