Melanothon, Philip the most noted associate of Luther in the German Reformation.
Life. — Philip was born at Bretten, then in the Lower Palatinate, but now in the grand-duchy of Baden, Feb. 16,1497. His father, George Schwartzerd, was a skilful armorer, and an earnest, pious man, whose personal worth and success in his art had gained for him the patronage and esteem of many of the princes of Germany. His mother, Barbara Reuter, was a frugal, industrious, and energetic woman, the daughter of the burgomaster of the village, and the supposed authoress of several household rhymes still popular in Germany. His education was begun, under the superintendence of his grandfather Reuter, at his native place. Among his earliest teachers was John Unger, to whose thoroughness Melancthon, in later years, paid the tribute " He made me a grammarian." Already, under Unger his quickness of comprehension, the facility with which he memorized, the readiness with which he clearly explained what he knew, his deep interest in his studies, and his eagerness to converse upon them, marked the young pupil as a boy of rare promise. Upon the death of his grandfather, he was removed in 1508 to Pforzheim, in Baden, where he attended a Latin school, and made his home with a female relative (according to some authorities, his grandmother), who was a sister of the renowned Reuchlin. Here he became a favorite of this great classical scholar, who presented him with books, and in recognition of his extraordinary attainments, according to a custom of the times, translated his German name Schwartzerd into the Greek Melanchthon (μέλας, black; χθών, earth)-a name retained throughout his life, although he usually spelled it Melanthon; at present many writers have come to adopt the spelling Melancthon, and, as this is the orthography of this Cyclopaedia, we have conformed to it. In October, 1509, he entered the University of Heidelberg, where, notwithstanding his extreme youth, he soon gained great distinction as a linguist, being known among his fellow-students as "the Grecian." When only a few months over fourteen he received the degree of bachelor of arts, became private tutor to the sons of count Lowenstein, and composed the Greek Grammar which was published several years afterwards. The severity of the climate occasioning repeated attacks of fever, and the refusal of the faculty, on account of his youth, to admit him to the master's degree, induced him in 1512 to remove to Tibingen. Here he devoted himself to a wide range of study, embracing Greek and Latin literature, philosophy, history, rhetoric, logic, mathematics, medicine, jurisprudence, and theology. In theology he attended the lectures of Lempan, and read William Occam. In medicine, he studied Galen with such diligence that he could repeat the most of that author from memory. In 1514 he received his master's degree, and began to lecture on Virgil and Terence. The next year found him aiding Reuchlin in the controversy with the monks. About the same time (1515) Erasmus expressed his unqualified admiration of the young master's attainments. "What promising hopes does Philip lMelancthon give us, who, yet a youth, yes, almost a boy, deserves equal esteem for his knowledge of both languages. "What sagacity in argument, what purity of expression, what a rare and comprehensive knowledge, what extensive reading, what delicacy and elegance of mind does he not display !" Three years later he wrote: " Christ designs this youth to excel/us all: he will totally eclipse Erasmus." In 1516 he lectured on rhetoric, and expounded Livy and Cicero; and before leaving Tiibingen had published his Greek Grammar.
Of the spiritual struggles of Melancthon during this period we know nothing. His great modesty prevented him from giving publicity to the details of his inner history. Whatever was the mode in which God was preparing this chosen vessel for his service we cannot discern, as in the case of Luther, any crisis, marked on the one side by the anguish of felt guilt and agonizing efforts to satisfy. God's law, and on the other by rest in the merits of Christ and joy in the assurance of personal salvation. From his earliest youth God's Spirit seems to have sanctified his mind through the principles of the divine Word, which he had made the object of the most conscientious study; so that when he was called to the assistance of Luther, by his personal experience of the grace of God, he had already apprehended the great doctrine of justification by faith, which he was summoned to expound and defend. Called in 1518, upon the recommendation of Reuchlin, to the Greek professorship at Wittenberg, he declined, on his way thither, invitations from both Ingolstadt and Leipsic. At his arrival, his boyish appearance, and his timid and retiring manners, caused a feeling of disappointment; but when, four days later (Aug. 29), he delivered his inaugural lecture, "On reforming the Studies of Youth," he won the enthusiastic applause of all his hearers. Luther, especially, was delighted. Two days afterwards he wrote: "We quickly forgot all our thoughts about his person and stature, and rejoiced and wondered at his treatment of his theme.. -I really desire no other teacher of Greek so long as he lives." And again, Sept. 2, " Philip has his lecture-room crowded with students. He has especially infused an enthusiasm for the study of Greek into the students of theology of all classes." This favorable opinion was only strengthened by further intimacy, Which revealed the extensive erudition of Melancthon, and called forth eulogiums still more ardent. "A wonderful man, in whom everything is almost supernatural, yet my most cherished and intimate friend" (Luther to Reuchlin, Dec. 14,1518). Although repeatedly called elsewhere, even to France and England, he remained at Wittenberg until the close of his life, exerting, by his varied attainments, marvellous industry, and simple piety, an influence second only to that of the great Reformer. Married in 1520 to Catharine Krapp, daughter of the burgomaster of Wittenberg, whom his friend Camerarius describes as a pious and devoted wife and mother, Melancthon enjoyed in his domestic life much happiness, but during his later years suffered great trouble and anxiety. Of his two sons, one died in infancy; Philip died in 1603, a pious but not a gifted man, at one time secretary of the Consistory. Of his two daughters, Anna married the learned bht erratic and unprincipled George Sabinus, provost of the University of Konigsberg, and died in 1547; while Magdalena became the wife of Dr. Caspar Reucer, afterwards professor at Wittenberg, and survived her father.
Melancthon's last years were embittered not only by domestic griefs, but also by the distracted condition of the Church. He longed to be delivered, as he said, from the "rabies theologica." A violent cold, contracted in travelling, April, 1560, terminated in a fever, which eventually proved fatal. Although in much feebleness, he continued to lecture until a week before his death, which occurred April 19. Almost his last words were, "Nothing but heaven." Two days afterwards his body was laid by the side of that of Luther, where, on the anniversary of his death, in 1860, the corner-stone of a monument to his memory was laid with appropriate ceremonies. It has since been reared, in 1869.
Melancthon as a Teacher. - His reputation as a teacher gave him the title of Proeceptor Germazice, and attracted to Wittenberg crowds of students not only from all parts of Germany, but also from England; France, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, and even Italy and Greece. He frequently lectured to an audience of2000. His lectures covered Old and New Testament exegesis, dogmatic theology, the explanation -of :the principal Latin and Greek classics, ethics, logic, physics, and occasionally metaphysics. In addition, he received private pupils at his house, and exercised over them- a truly paternal oversight. By his work in the organization of many of the schools of Germany, and more especially by his valuable text-books, he continued for many years after his death to exert a more powerful influence than any living teacher, and became, as Hallam (Hist. of Lit. 1:145) remarks, "far above all others, the founder of general learning throughout Europe." His Latin Grammar, prepared originally for his private pupils, was almost universally adopted in Europe, running through fifty-one editions, and continuing until 1734 to be the text-book even in the Roman Catholic schools of Saxony. His Greek Grammar also enjoyed great popularity. Of his Terence, 73 editions had been published within 106 years of its first publication. He also published either scholia upon or expositions or paraphrases of the De Offciis, Lelius, De Oratore, Orator, Topicce, Epistles, and 19 Orations of Cicero, Porcius Latro, Sallust, the Germania of Tacitus, Pliny, Quintilian, 1. xii, six orations of Demosthenes, one of AEschines, Lycurgus, Stobeeus, AElian, Lucian, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plutarch, Lysis, Ptolemaeus, selections from Homer and Sophocles, 18 tragedies of Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander, 19th Idyl of Theocritus,.Tyrteeus, Solon, Theognis, Calimachus, Pindar, Empedocles, Virgil, Ovid, the Miles of Plautus, and the Theognis of Seneca, in addition to composing 391 Latin and Greek odes. His style (genus dicendi Philippicum), which is said, in purity of diction and correctness of classical taste, to excel even that of Erasmus, for a time was regarded in the schools as a model, even to the exclusion of Cicero and Quintilian.
In philosophy, although, in his first edition of his Loci Communes, he sympathizes with Luther's antagonism to Aristotle, yet he soon learned to distinguish between the use and the abuse of that author, and, while condemning Aristotle as perverted by Romish scholasticism, he effectually employed him in his true meaning as an important aid to the student of theology for the detection of sophistry and the attainment of a clear method of thought. He declared that he had never understood the use of philosophy until he had apprehended the pure doctrine of the Gospel.: Among his philosophical works were an Epitome. of Moral Philosophy; Elements of Ethics; Explanation of Aristotle's Ethics; Commentary on Aristotle's Politics; Elements of Rhetoric; Logical Questions; and dissertations on various ethical subjects, such as oaths, contracts, etc. For many years instruction in these works was the regular course in ethics in most of the schools of Protestant Germany. A writer before quoted pronounces them "more clear, elegant, and better. arranged than those of Aristotle himself or his commentators" (Hallam's Literature, 2:50). He was the author, also, of an elementary text-book of physics, and a sketch of universal history, from the creation to the Reformation (Chronicon Carionis). His miscellaneous orations, lectures, and essays fill over two volumes of the Corpus Reformatorum.
Melancthon as a Theologian and Reformer. — But it is with Melancthon as a theologian that we have chiefly to do. He never entered the ministry, and therefore performed his work in the Church entirely in the capacity of a layman. Immediately upon going to Wittenberg he identified himself with the Reformation, which had begun the preceding year. During his first fall and winter there he delivered lectures on Titus, following them by a course on the Psalms, Matthew, and Romans. His published exegetical lectures embrace, in addition, Genesis, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, John, Corinthians, Colossians, and Timothy. His lectures on Romans and Corinthians were published by Luther without the author's knowledge. Extemporaneous explanations of the Gospels, during a later period of his life, delivered on Sundays at his residence, were committed to writing by some of his hearers, and, after revision by Pezel, were published under the title of Postils.
He accompanied Luther to the Leipsic Disputation (1519), at which he remained a mere spectator, but afterwards published a letter to OEcolampadius, in which he gave a succinct account of the discussion. Though written in the best spirit, it provoked a very bitter reply from Dr. Eck, in which, while acknowledging Melancthon's pre-eminence as a grammarian, he expressed ,the utmost contempt for his theological attainments, and advised him thereafter to confine his attention to classical pursuits, and not to attempt to enter a higher sphere. The reply of Melancthon is brief and modest, but the indignation of Luther manifested itself in a severer answer, in which he pronounced Melancthon better versed in Scripture than all the Ecks together. During the same year Melancthon received the degree of BD.
Early in 1521, under the assumed name of Didymus Faventinus, he published an apology for the Reformation, in reply to Emser (Rhadinus). About Easter of the same year he laid the foundation of Protestant systematic theology by the publication of his Loci Communes seu Hypotyposes Theologicce. It originated from a very brief summary of doctrine, prepared for his private use, which was afterwards delivered to ,his pupils, as an introduction to his lectures on Romans, and published by them without his consent or revision. The Loci Communes were intended to take the place of this meagre, and, to its author, very unsatisfactory sketch. They are marked by the clearness of method and purity of style for which Melancthon was distinguished. Luther declared that the little book could not be refuted, and that it was worthy not only of immortality, but even of canonical authority. Chemnitz affirms that Luther often remarked in private conversation that there was. more solid doctrine contained in it than in any other volume since the days of the apostles. The same author quotes the Romish theologian, Alphonso de'Zamara, as declaring: "It explains its doctrinal statements in such appropriate and accurate terms, and, by a methodical treatment, renders them so clear and strong, that it is injuring the papal power more than all other writings of the Lutherans." Erasmus termed it "a wondrous army, ranged in order of battle against the Pharisaic tyranny of false teachers;" and Calvin, "So beautiful is the proof that it affords, that the most perfect simplicity is the noblest method of handling the Christian doctrine." The couplet of Selnecker was often repeated:
"Non melior liber est ullus post biblia Christi, Quam qui doctrinue, corpusque, locique vocatur."
During the author's life it passed through over sixty editions, but was subjected to constant changes. The only exception of any moment taken within the Lutheran Church to the first edition is against its statement of the doctrine of the freedom of the will, to which Huitter and others have objected that it inclines towards fatalism. Seckendorf, on the contrary, claims that on this point it was misunderstood. In 1535 the objectionable sentence, "All things happen necessarily," was omitted. After 1543 the work was greatly enlarged, and so far changed on that subject as to seem far more in harmony with the teaching of Erasmus than that of Luther. It was repeatedly translated into the German. The translation of Justus Jonas was revised by Luther, who suggested that, while the articles on justification and the holy supper were well treated, they were not sufficiently full. A French translation appeared, with the commendation of Calvin, in 1546, and one into Italian (1534 or 1535) found eager readers even at Rome. There were also Dutch and Wendic versions. Portions of it have been translated into English-" On the Divine Essence," by Dr. J. A. Seiss, in the Evangelical Review, 12:1-46; "On the Nature of Sin," Theological Essays from the Princeton Review, p. 218-228. It was attacked by the papist, Richard Smyth, of England, and defended by Paulus ab Eitren, a Hamburg theologian, who prepared an edition' with additional notes, and citations from the fathers. The renowned Loci Theologici of Chemnitz is a commentary upon it. Similar commentaries were written by Preetorius, Pezel, Strigel, and Fabricius, while Spangenberg, Sohn, Mayer, and Hemmingius have prepared abridgments. For many years it continued to be a text-book in the Lutheran schools,' until-supplanted by Hutter's Compend.
During Luther's absence at the Wartburg, the care of the Reformation rested mainly upon Melancthon, With great ability he defended Luther against the theologians of Paris, but found himself unable to withstand the storm of fanaticism which arose among some of his former friends. He was even for a time greatly in doubt as to whether the pretensions of Carlstadt and the Zwickau prophets might not be true, and received from Luther a reproof because he dealt with them with so much mildness. Without any reserve, he insisted on his own inability to meet the crisis, and urged the return of Luther as the only solution of the difficulty.
After Luther's return, he was diligently occupied in revising the translation of the Bible-a work in which his philological attainments were at several periods of invaluable service to the Church. In 1522 Luther wrote to Spalatine, asking that Melancthon might be relieved of teaching the classics, in order to devote his entire time to theology, but the latter objected, and preferred even to cease his theological instructions. In 1526, however, he was formally appointed professor of theology. During the two succeeding years he was the principal member of the commission to visit the churches and church-schools of Thuringia. The Articles of Visitation, prepared in connection with this commission, to give the ministers some directions concerning their preaching and teaching, are sometimes regarded as the earliest confession of the Lutheran Church. The importance which- they attach to the preaching of the law, in order to guard against the abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith, excited the opposition of Agricola and others, and led to a conference at Torgau (q.v.), November, 1527, in which the position of Melancthon was approved. In February, 1529, he accompanied his prince to the Diet of Spires, and assisted in the preparation of the Protest, presented April 19th, from which the friends of the Reformation obtained the name Protestants. A few months later, October 1-3, he participated, together with Luther, Brentius, and others, in the Colloquy at Marburg (q.v.) with Zwingle and his adherents. In 1530 he accompanied the evangelical princes to the Diet of Augsburg, and there, on the basis of the seventeen articles prepared by Luther at Schwabach, elaborated the Augsburg Confession, which was presented to the emperor June 25. During its preparation the work was repeatedly revised by Luther, then at Coburg, in almost daily correspondence with Melancthon. " Melancthon, then, was by pre-eminence the composer of the Confession, not as a private individual, but as chief of a body of advisers, without whose concurrence nothing was fixed; Luther, by pre-eminence, as the divinely called representative of the Church, its author." For a thorough examination of the relation which Melancthon sustained to the Augsburg Confession, the reader is referred to Krauth's Conservative Reformation, p. 201-267. The hypothesis of the rationalist Ruckert, that Melancthon intended by it to effect a compromise with Rome, and that, for this purpose, a conspiracy was formed to keep Luther in ignorance of the plan, is there completely overthrown. Melancthon's excessive love of peace, and his desire to bring together into an organic union all the Protestant churches, caused him in after years to forget that the Augsburg Confession was the work of the Church, and not-his own; for he felt himself at liberty to publish numerous revised editions, in which he made frequent changes. These changes, originating the distinction between the Variata and Invariata, almost caused a rupture with Luther, and ultimately resulted in controversies which imperilled the life of the Lutheran churches. Notwithstanding these changes, it cannot be proved that his personal convictions were at any succeeding period actually different from the teaching of the unaltered Confession. He repeatedly declared, until the close of his life, that his faith was unchanged. His object in the alterations was simply to generalize those statements which were so specific in their declaration of the Lutheran faith as to prevent the endorsement of the adherents of Calvin and others. He was constantly seeking for a generic form of agreement in which the specific differences might be lost sight of. He remained at Augsburg until late in September, employed in fruitless negotiations with the Romish theologians. The confutation of the Augsburg Confession, presented August 3, led him in reply to prepare the Apology-a masterpiece which the Lutheran Church has prized so highly as to number it among her symbols.
His Catechism (Catechesis Puerilis) appeared in 1532. In 1535 and 1536 he was actively engaged in negotiations with Bucer to secure a union of the Protestant churches on the doctrine of the Lord's Supper. As the result of these efforts, the Wittenberg Concord was signed May 28,1536. In February, 1537, he was at member of the convention at Smalcald, and signed the Articles, with the proviso that he would acknowledge the supreme authority of the pope, jure humano, if the latter would permit the preaching of the pure Gospel. In the negotiations with the papists at Worms (1540), and at Ratisbon (1541), he was the principal theologian of the Protestants. At the latter conference his compromising spirit acceded to articles clothed in such ambiguous language as to admit the interpretation either of an affirmation or a denial of the doctrine of justification by faith; but the object of the conference failed, because of an irreconcilable difference concerning the externals of religion, in which Melancthon displayed more than his ordinary firmness. In 1542 and 1543 he was employed by the archbishop and elector of Cologne to superintend the introduction of the Reformation into his territories. The book of instruction prepared in connection with this work excited the indignation of Luther against Melancthon, until the latter assured him that Bucer was alone responsible for the article on the Lord's Supper. Early in 1545, at the request of the elector, he prepared a pamphlet on The Reformation of Wittenberg, which was sent to the Council of Trent as a summary of the doctrines of the Lutheran Reformers. After the death of Luther, in 1546, he was the acknowledged head of the Reformation, but unfortunately became again involved in negotiations with the papists, to whom he made the most remarkable concessions. His connection with the Leipsic Interim (1548) was the most unfortunate act of his life. Under the form of an apparent compromise, he yielded to the papists many of the most essential points of difference between them and the Protestants. "He was willing to tolerate both a popedom and a hierarchy, stripped, however, of divine rights, and deprived of all power in matters of faith. The relation of faith to works, and the doctrine of the sacraments, might, in his estimation, be veiled in a judicious obscurity of phrase." In every part of the evangelical Church the Interim was most violently resisted, and his connection with it strongly condemned. In addition to private rebukes from Calvin and Brentius, Agricola, Flacius, and others publicly attacked him. In 1550' he published his Explanation of the Nicene Creed, and in the succeeding year the Confessio Saxonica, in which he had gained courage to entirely repudiate the concessions of the Interim. In 1552 he was engaged in a controversy with Osiander, who had confounded justification with sanctification; in 1553 he published brief treatises against Schwenckfeldt and Stancar, and in 1554 his Examnen Ordinandorum, a brief outline of doctrinal, ethical, and polemical theology, for the use of candidates for the ministry. His efforts during his last years to unite the followers of Calvin with those of Luther, and his attendance at another religious conference at Worms (1557) with the papists, were equally unsuccessful.
Melancthon was undoubtedly the great theologian of the Lutheran Reformation. Yet the very gifts which were of such great service in reducing the purified doctrine to a connected system, and organizing the outward form of the Church, constantly tempted him to seek for external union, even at the expense of principles essential to all true inner harmony. This tendency, fostered by his classical tastes and natural amiability and timidity, rendered him very unsafe as a leader, although so strong when under the guidance of a firmer will, as that of Luther. It is to this that Calvin referred when he heard of Melancthon's death: "O, Philip Melancthon! for it is upon thee whom I call, upon thee, who now livest with Christ in God, and art waiting for us, until we shall attain that blessed rest. A hundred times, worn out with fatigue and overwhelmed with care, thou hast laid thy head upon my breast and said, Would God I might die here. And a thousand times since then I have earnestly desired that it had been granted us to be together. Certainly thou wouldst have been more valiant to face danger, and stronger to despise hatred, and bolder to disregard false accusations."
Literature. — The first edition of his collected work was published at Basle, 15,1; the second, edited by his son-in-law, Peucer, Wittenberg, 1562-64 (4 vols. fol.). The most valuable is that of the Corpus Reformatorum, edited by Bretschneider and Bindseil (1834-60, 28 vols. fol.). A complete catalogue of Melancthon's writings, and of their different editions, etc., was published by H. E. Bindseil, entitled Bibliotheca Melancthoniana (Halle, 1868, 8vo, 28 pp.). The tercentenary of Melancthon's decease has called forth a large number of addresses and essays to celebrate his memory. Besides the admirable orations of Dorner, Kahnis, and Rothe, are W. Thilo, Melancthon in the Service of the Holy Scriptures; F. A. Nitzelnadel, Philip Melancthon, the Teacher of Germany; W. Beyschlag, Philippians Mel., a Sketch in Church History; FW. Genthe, Oration at Eisleben; H. Keil, Laudatio Philippians Melancthonis; IH. K. Sack, a Sermon at Magdeburg; C. Schlottmann, De Philippians Mel. reipublicoe literarice Reformnator; J. Classen, Melancthon's Relations to Frankfort-on-the-Main. Other works have been published upon some of the pupils and friends of Me-lancthon; e.g. J. Classen, on Jacob Micyllus, rector at Frankfort, and professor in Heidelberg, 1526 to 1558; E. W. Lihn, on Dr. Caspar Creutziger (Cruciger), a pupil of both Melancthon and Luther, Reb. Tagmann, on Petrus Vincentius of Breslau. The earliest life of Melancthon' was written by his friend Camerarius. The Annales Vita, in vol. xxviii, Corp. Ref., afford the richest biographical material. Biographies have been written by Camerarius (1566), Strobel (1777), Niemeyer (1817), Kdthe (1829), Facius (1832), Ulenberg (1836), Heyd (1839), Galle (1840), Matthes (1841), Ledderhose (1847), Wohlfahrt (1860), C. Schmidt (1861), Meurer, Plank (1866), and others. Those accessible to English readers are the valuable but brief sketch by Dr. F. A. Cox, and an excellent translation of Ledderhose by Dr. G. F. Krotel (Phila. 1855). See also Krauth's Conservative Reformation, p. 220 sq.; Seckendorf's Historia Lutheranismi; Ranke, Hist. Ref. p. 132; Cunningham, Reformers; D'Aubignd, Hist. Ref. 1:97,325; Nisard, Etudes sur la Renaissance;
Hardwick, Hist. Ref. p. 30 sq.; Barnet, Hist. Ref.; Gieseler, Church Hist. vol. iv, ch. i; Mosheim, Ecclesiastes Hist. vol. iii; Hagenbach, Kirchengesch. vol. iii; Fisher, Hist. Ref. p. 97 sq.; Dorner, Gesch. der protestant. Theologie, p. 108, 320, 329; Bibliotheca Sacra, 1846, p. 301 1864, p. 448; Jahrbuch deutscher Theol. vol. x, pt. i, p. 185; 1870, 3:503; 4:615; Mercersburg Revelation 1850, p. 325, Kitto, Journ. Sac. Lit. 1854, p. 185; 3 Meth. Qu. Revelation 1855, p. 163; 1860, p. 676: Studien u. Kritiken, 1859, vol. ii; Brit. and For. Ev. Revelation 1861, Jan.;. 1868, Oct.; Am. Theol. Revelation 1861, April; 1860, p. 529; Amer. Presbyt. Revelation 1861, p. 261; Zeitschrf. wissensch. Theol. 1871, vol. ii, art. 8:(H. E. J.)